|DM Doomed Hero|
Base camp wasn't much. A few good sized tents. Some wind-breaks tied between scraggly trees. A good sized fire where the cook was bubbling up some kind of stew for the evening meal. A half-dozen bored guards sitting on top of crates of various supplies playing dice games. A few energetic academics arguing over a map.
They'd been here for two days getting set up and settled in.
They'd been waiting for the professionals who's job it was to delve into these sorts of dilapidated ruins. The royal explorer's society was fairly new. They wanted to bring back treasures and lost knowledge and tales of success.
Mostly what they'd found so far was collapsing caverns filled with dangerous things that had moved in when the original builders had left.
It was hard to find people crazy enough to go into these sorts of places. It was harder to find people skilled enough to come back.
Everyone was anxious to see what kinds of characters were on the wagon that was rolling up the trail...
|DM Doomed Hero|
It had been ten days moving west. After four the old Imperial Roads had given way to simple traderoads, bumpy and full of ruts. After seven, the trade roads ended and gave way to mostly disused farm roads. They were overgrown and in impressive states of disrepair. A day was lost clearing a fallen tree from their path.
The last two days there had barely been a road at all. It was mostly just a horse trail going into a forest that had once been some local petty lord's private hunting reserve, and before that, had apparently housed the lodge of an exiled imperial politician.
That had been six hundred years ago, give or take, and ever since this wood had been avoided by locals. Many legends, explaination a and bad omens had risen around it. The truth was both simpler, and worse. Something in the ruins of that old lodge had spent two ages slowly poisoning the land around it.
Now, the Crown was keen on uncovering how and why.
And so, the intrepid explorers of the Royal Archological Society made their way into the darkened wood to the ruins of Lord Greywulf Archilius' Manor.
Dvalin keeps to himself among the professionals of the Royal Archaeological Society. This is his first full-time expedition and first project without his friend Dr. Churchill Babington. None of the caravan appear to be members of the cult of Hriedmar, so he guards his faith within the sacred cavern of his soul. Since he is so quiet, his traveling companions would observe the following:
Dvalin is an average-sized dwarf with blond hair and a carefully groomed beard. Perched on his head are a pair of smoked goggles apparently from a lesson learned, because they have no current use. He wears a many pocketed, stained outfit over chain mail. He equips a full backpack and several weapons: battleaxe, warhammer and heavy pick. His holy symbols of Hriedmar are prominent: an large iron one on a necklace and a tattoo on the palm of his left hand. He constantly chews a cigar. Sometimes he even lights one with a flame erupting from his thumb.
Nisfeollyn’s sachet of lavender, rose petals, and mint is never far from his nose as the members of the Royal Archeological Society make their way through the dark woods to Lord Greywulf Archilius' Manor. He pays particular attention to the trees, looking for clues of blight, disease, insect infestation, and fungus.
Nisfeollyn is 139 years old. 6 feet tall and 124 pounds. Long, straight blond hair. Pastel green robes trimmed with tawny and grey embroidery around the sleeves and collar. A leather sheath holds a longsword. A quiver on his back contains a number of arrows. He smells of pine needles and sage.
Nature check: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22
|DM Doomed Hero|
There are obvious signs of blight and fungus, though none of disease, thankfully. Strangely, there are signs of what you would normally attribute to insect damage, but those signs seem more spread out than normal. They are also much larger than usual. So much so that at first you thought this forest must be home to swarms of beavers and bears with a particular hate of trees. You have seen ant mounds that look like craters. Spiderwebs as thick as bowstrings. Termite holes you could stick your head into. Even a small tree that looked like i's trunk had been crushed and simply snapped in two.
Sounds of wildlife dwindled the deeper into the woods the caravan got. For the last day it has been uncomfortably silent.
This is a very sick forest. Your kind has become more civilized in the last thousand years, but to an elf that is only a sparse handful of generations. Some still live who remember and follow the old ways. You aren't a traditionalist, but your heritage is close enough that being in this place makes you uncomfortable, sad, and somewhat angry.
The tall highlander yawns and stretches his long limbs, reaching up and whacking a low-hanging limb that found itself in the wrong place at the right time. He turns his head to watch the branch slowly dwindle into the distance as he settles back into the monotonous rumble and roll of the rickety wagon.
”Yoo think they cooda found’a bit’a ruins a’wee bit harder ta get’to?” he says, scratching at his shock of long red-brown hair. The words come tumbling out with the irregular roll of the highlanders’ accent. He looks down at the wagon between his hide-booted feet, ”’Least the’Crown coulda put up’a few more coins ta’get us’a decent setta mounts, nei?”
The highlander—who’d introduced himself to any around as “Bladud… from the north”, as if it weren’t apparent by his speech, coloring, tattoos, and kilt—sways along fully armed and armored. Only the longspear and greatsword—both strapped to the side of the wagon—and his heavily-laden pack weren’t on him at nearly all times. The man even slept as if ready to start a fight… again, not too surprising for a highlander.
His black eyes and scarred face swing around, seeing if anyone wants to take up the conversation, and he subconsciously adjusts the black goggles around his neck. He roughly nudges Nisfeollyn, interrupting the elf’s study of their surroundings, ”This’n knows what’am talkin about, eh?”
I wouldn't judge the accessibility of the ruins by the land around them. The important thing is what is bellow the land. I for one enjoy a calm ride. In my experience the situation may deteriorate faster than you can blink an eye.
Torgan looks around to make sure the moment of deterioration has not arrived yet. His equipment shows signs of dwarven craftsmanship in stark contrast with his half-orc features.
One of the passengers in the wagon is clearly not chatty. The young dwarf slouches against the edge of the wagon, his legs spread out in the wagon bed and his simple leather rimmed steel helm resting low on his forehead, half covering his eyes.
He snorts as the wagon hits a large bump in the road. He pushes his helm back, blinking against the light.
He swore easily and without malice.
Ve are there soon, yes?, his inquiry heavily accented. He blinked against the light somewhat and looked around.
He wears a long heavy cloak over mail, coarse woolen pants with swathing bands bound tight against his calves and simple leather shoes that seem to be made from a single piece of leather that was bound together by thongs.
"Bladud, don't ya disturb the fella like that, he seems to be inspecting the surroundings., a broad highlander says from a bit behind Bladud and Nisfeollyn in the meanwhile surveying the surroundings himself.
Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 2 = 12
"Nisfeollyn, do ya see anything out of the ordinary?"
To those who did not know him before the trip, he has introduced himself as Cadeyrn Griogal. He is armed with a finely crafted greataxe and a sling hanging on his belt, although close observers will see that his gauntlets have seen some heavy use. Apart from his broad stature, you can't see much of his features as he hides whatever he can in clothing, armor, a heavy cloak, and the full face helmet he wears at all times.
He keeps mostly to himself, but will gladly talk to anyone who speaks to him, although he avoids talking about his past and why he doesn't take of his helmet.
Knowledge(Religion): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20 check to see if he knows anything about Dvalin's religion
"Ha!" the highlander barks, slapping Nisfeollyn heartily on the back, "I'm not disturbin'im. Yoo worry too much, Cadeyrn. Should really learn ta'loosen up."
Not having anything else to do, he draws out one of his many knives and the whetstone from his belt pouch. With a loud spit on the stone, he begins sharpening... something he's done an insufferably large amount of times during their boring trip.
Bladud, how I envy your position in life. If only you knew how long I already yearn to be able to "loosen up". You'll see, one of these days I'll get rid of this curse that weighs heavy upon my very being. Cadeyrn thinks while looking at Bladud.
One day Bladud, one day. How long ya reckon it'll be till we reach basecamp?
[knowledge geography 16] Dorian looks up from his travel tomes and takes a halfhearted look around to see who spoke. Not succeeding but not caring either. It was just a social gesture anyways.Shouldn't be long now. Judging from scenery-changes and travel-times I'd say we are nearly there.
The vagon it vas, the road, the dwarf says good naturedly, still looking around.
He'd been quiet for most of the journey, given to muttering norse saga's from time to time but not given to story telling or boasting around the cooking fire.
He'd introduced himself on the first day as Hallvarðr, a warrior and trapwright. He looked sturdy enough for the first claim. His other claim would need to be tested.
Brak'kadur of Clan Broken Earth walks along with his companions, listening to their conversation, but not participating as much as usual. He knows his disposition can be quite ignorant in groups at times...but this is not one of those times. Brak (as he is wont to be called) merely has a few things on his mind at the moment.
This place...it feels sick, disturbed...wrong... has been the recurring thought as he walked the path to the camp and now looks around it. He uses the skills he has learned over the years to try to get some idea of what the land is telling him...
Geography: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
History: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 14
Religion: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9
Survival: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (20) + 6 = 26
And then there is the group...he can't help but think of Lyla, the only other full human-blooded..and female to boot...in their little group. And he has this feeling that she must be one the oracles he has heard of on his travels from the little she has communicated. And is that Aklo? I can't tell, but perhaps over time...
Then there is the one called Bladud, the man-orc who he swears he has come across before. but where....Bah! Bladud...from the North...Brak starts with a smile, I swear I've met you before - were you at the Great Clan Games out east last year? Or perhaps it was the Battle at the Fields of Pelen?
Bladud looks up to give the same blunt look to both Cadeyrn and Dorian, pointing at Dorian with the tip of his knife before resuming his sharpening, ”Even if he’s right, tha’s ten days too long. Wee’re all goin’ta be poolin’ splinters out our arses fer’a week, yet.”
He tests the blade’s edge with his thumb, nods, drops the whetstone back into his belt pouch, and promptly begins using the newly-sharpened blade to pick at his teeth. Brak’kadur’s words interrupt him.
”No,” Bladud responds as he looks over at the man from the corner of his eye, sheathing his blade. ”I wasna at’tha Fields. Our clan,” he includes Cadeyrn with a look, ”stayed outta that bit’a bloodiness. But a’ve been to’tha games a time’er three. I like ta’think our boys alwys do a good job’a throwin’ our boulders around, if ya know what’I mean.” He looks Brak’kadur up and down, his face splitting into a friendly grin. ”Can’t say I recognize’ya, fella. Then again, I’been told I get hit in’tha head a lot.” He punctuates his own joke with an obnoxiously-loud laugh.
|DM Doomed Hero|
The last member of the survey team, the lone woman among them, hadn't been feeling well. She'd taken a drought to help her rest and had been sleeping in the wagon for hours. It was a bumpy ride but somehow she managed to find a comfortable spot. Everyone was considerate enough to let her sleep.
They spotted a guard wearing Society colors who waved at them and pointed to a small area that had been cleared of debris behind two large tents.
The wagoner turned the horses and drew them in as the guard went trotting off out of sight.
A few moments later as the wagon stopped and everyone began retrieving their gear, a dwarf chewing on a short cigar came around the side of the larger tent and gave the caravan a long look.
"Motliest crew I ever saw." the dwarf said with a slow shake of his head.
"It's about damn time you all showed up." He pointed a stubby thumb off to his right. "Stow yer gear over there. There's a line o' tents set up for ya. Two to a tent."
The dwarf looked like he was about to speak further, but then he caught site of Lyra siting up and rubbing her eyes.
"Aw, hell. The charter didn't say nothin' about another woman coming in with ya. Damnitall."
He stomped away back out of sight again grumbling to himself.
|Crew Chief Fala|
"It's about damn time you all showed up." she said, unwittingly echoing the dwarf.
"I'm Fala. I'm your crew chief for this expedition. You just met Noros, your Quartermaster, but I doubt he bothered to introduce himself."
She holds a portable work table made of two peices of flat wood hinged together. She opens it, pulls out a manifest and starts calling names.
Once everyone was marked off as accounted and the gear was stowed she looked everyone over a little more carefully.
"Afternoon meal is in a quarter of an hour. Be in line if you want to eat. After that, we're going to move to the survey site and-"
Surprised by the change in conversation, Brak calls to Fala, eyes peeled as his hammer almost leaps into his hands on its own, "What in the nine hells...are we not alone out here? I thought the camp was supposed to be safe!"
Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (5) + 10 = 15
|DM Doomed Hero|
Fala wasn't listening. She ran through the camp and up a small hill covered in jagged looking rocks.
It took Brak'kadur a moment to realize he was looking at old masonry. The remains of walls.
The hill above the camp looked like it had the foundation of an old structure on it, but it was difficult to tell more from here.
The sounds of yelling and the bell were coming from the other side of the hill.
Bladud had hit the ground before the wooden wheels stopped turning, throwing his pack on and unlashing his larger weapons with enthusiasm. After a quick check on Lyla, he grunts at the quartermaster’s gruff introduction.
”Aw, hell. The charter didn't say nothin' about another woman coming in with ya. Damnitall.”
He elbows Cadeyrn, muttering under his breath. ”And I didna know we’d be greeted by’a great hairy ice-goat.”
The arrival of the crew chief cuts his humor, though, and he focuses… only to be left scratching his chin when she rushes off. With a look back at the remaining wagon-sharers, he breaks after the crew-chief, sliding his greatsword into its back-sling as he ran towards the side of the hill for a look.
The smell of the cigar put a smile on Dvalin's bearded face. A kindred spirit he thought to himself. He looked forward to sharing smokes and stories with Noros.
Fala appears to be another high caliber crew chief who runs Society projects. He respects her concise professionalism and calibration of concern. So when she bolts toward the noise, Dvalin hustles after her as fast as his short, stout legs can manage. He was not in any process of unloading his gear, because he was proud of himself to carry all of his belongings.
Dvalin double moves after Fala
Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16
Cadeyrn wanted to start an explanation of why they were late, but at the sound of distress at the other side of camp he buried the idea in the back of his mind and focused on the task at hand.
Like Dvalin, he too had all his belongings on him. So he quickly follows suit and passes the dwarf while drawing his trusty greataxe. Cadeyrn seems to be moving with great ease in his armor and quickly passes by Dvalin.
Cadeyrn double moves after Fala, so that would be 80 ft. How far away is the hill at the other side of camp?
Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
|DM Doomed Hero|
You guys are close. 80 feet gets to the top of the hill from where you are. Keep in mind that running up hill is difficult terrain, as is the rubble at the top.
Cadeyrn's long legs put him to the front of the pack. He surges up the hill just making it to the crest where it flattens out to what was once the foundation of a large building.
The ground was littered in old stones ranging in size from a horses head, down to rough gravel. Sickly looking grass grew up amongst it and a single large, barren tree rose off at the edge of the foundation perimeter on the other side of the flat crest of the hill.
It looked like that was the source of the shouting.
Their sight line was partially blocked where the hill dipped down the other side, but they could see men gathering near the tree.
They followed Fala, making their way carefully though the broken stones until they were able to see down the other side of the hill.
A large, burly looking man of Orcish ancestry was kneeling, tying a rope around his waist and yelling down into a hole in the ground.
Valhalla avaits!, says Hallvarðr cheerfully, as he hops off the cart. Taking up his battle axe in both hands he charges towards the clamour.
"Don't move, Danner! We're gonna get you out!"
The big man lay down on the ground and carefully crawled toward the hole, testing it's integrity. He stopped about 3 feet from it. The ground seemed spongy. "I can feel it starting to give! Damn!"
He looked over his shoulder.
"I need supporting beams, rope and a lantern! Now!"
|Crew Chief Fala|
Cadeyrn puts away the greataxe and starts looking around for any wood suitable for being support beams. Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 2 = 17
"I'll try to get some support beams over to him. Can someone else get more rope and the lantern?"
If he finds any he'll take whatever he can safely carry towards Foreman Bal, testing the ground's integrity on his way over, not to fall in himself.
Did the foreman anchor himself to a solid piece somewhere, or is there another reason he has tied the rope around his waist?
If so, Cadeyrn will try to do something similar with the rope in his backpack.
Yes, it's anchored around the tree. He seems to have done the right thing in the time that he had, it's just that the ground is too weak to support his weight.
"Careful! Don't come too close, I don't want to end up down there with them!" Bal said inching his way backwards. "We need to get some planks out here to spread our weight out!"
"Got it. Let's gather the planks at the tree then, so we can work from there to place them on the ground and work our way back to the sinkhole."
If Cadeyrn finds any planks, he'll gather them near the tree and when they have enough he will anchor himself to the tree as well, so he can assist with the laying down of the planks.
Yep, here it comes. The situation has deteriorated fast...
Torgan grabs his greataxe and follows the others to the other side of the camp. He had everything ready and within easy reach. Looks like he suspected something to go wrong and wanted to be ready.
As he comes to the site he hears the foreman and starts looking for some planks.
Awakening as the wagon stops and disembarking a bit after the others, Lyla can't help the wry grin that crosses her lips as the quartermaster mutters about her presence. Dressed in her exploring gear, form-fitting leather breeches, a light cotton shirt under what at first glance appears to be a fashionable jacket, and a royal blue cloak, she gives the impression of a rakish dashing figure, more focused on a dramatic appearance than protection when compared to the heavily armored men with her.
Upon closer glance an observer would notice the boiled and molded leather accenting the jacket's form, the reinforcement along the spine, the heavy leather embellishments on her thigh high boots and elbow length gloves. Clearly this was a woman who was far more than she seemed on the surface.
Fair of both face and figure, she cuts a stunning profile with a bit of dramatic flair, yet radiating a sense of practicality, evidenced in minor details such as the functional back sweep of her raven black hair and the absence of all but a single piece of jewelry.
As chaos envelops the camp, Lyla races up the hill along with the others, smiling briefly as Bladud looks back to ensure her progress, the massive Highlander always keeping an eye out for her safety. Already there was something wrong about the wood in the surrounding area, but the indication of trouble as soon as they'd arrived didn't bode well.
Coming to a halt she stares as the scenario, eyes going silvery white, a familiar sensation washing over her as her mind falls away, plunging into the raging torrent of experiences that were not hers, drawn from the lives of the infinite entities of the past, seeking relevant information and the best solution.
Knowledge Engineering1d20 + 9 ⇒ (20) + 9 = 29
Knowledge Dungeoneering1d20 + 9 ⇒ (4) + 9 = 13
Knowledge Nature1d20 + 9 ⇒ (15) + 9 = 24 Does this look like a normal sink hole?
Planks vere on the Vagon, asks the young dwarf, looking around for supplies.
Bladud arrives a few seconds after Cadeyrn, ”I have some’rope!” he says as he drops his pack and begins fishing out what looks like about one hundred feet of good silk rope, ”But I have’na any lanterns nor oils.”
He begins throwing the rope around the near tree, ”Is tha’rope for yoo er’for lowerin’ down?”
Cadeyrn looks at the long rope Bladud got out of his pack.
"Best to use that for lowering down, I got a smaller one in my pack I can use to secure myself."
"It may not be a lantern but this might help.", at this point Cadeyrn picks up a fist-sized rock and utters a few strange words.
When he is done, the rock starts to glow. "It will give off light for about half an hour, I hope that'll do for now."
"Di'you say webbin? Hope thar's no giant spidars down thar." Dvalin replies to Foreman Bal's comments.
Dvalin hustles back down to the wagons and starts directing the teamsters to move the wagons with planking toward the sinkhole, in order to shorten the distance the planking needs to move.
double move to wagons
Diplomacy on drivers: 1d20 ⇒ 17
Dorian and Nár speed after the group.
When the situation unfolds and becomes clear Dorian speaks a few words of power and out of a shortly opened portal falls a small boulder.
Dorian speaks to it with words that sound like an avalanche
Nár, what do your elf eyes see?
Take 10 on all knowledges short of nature:16
|Nár the Eidolon|
Yeah, yeah. You were a guardian spirit of a dead city until I found a way to release your binding and now you serve as my indentured servant as thanks and to stave of boredom and perhaps have a modicum of purpose again. Yeah, yeah, I know.
Now, what do your elf eyes see?
Before arriving at camp.
Nisfeollyn cringes slightly when Bladud nudges him. He frowns at the man and steps aside, lifting his chin slightly and returning his attention to the trees. After another minute he says, ”Regard these signs,” pointing to the insect damage. ”I think they signify giant insects. Also there is blight and fungus damage. This forest is sick. Perhaps deliberately so. We must be careful and ready to punish those responsible.”
At the camp.
Nisfeollyn follows the others up the rubble and witnesses Foreman Bal struggling at the edge of a sink hole. As some start tying ropes to themselves, and the call for planks gets louder, the elf drags wooden planks to help distribute the weight on the unstable ground.
"Lowering? I can't even get close enough to look." Bal says over his shoulder to Bladud.
He backs up carefully and then stands up on solid ground.
Looking at the glowing rock and the little earth creature sinking into the ground, the big man nods. "Surveyors. Good timing. Toss that rock down there and give them some-"
Back toward the wagon, the dwarf they had seen earlier was yelling at a pair of guards who were trying to drag a stack of planks out of the large tent. One of the guards had slipped in his haste and dropped a corner of the stack, fanning them out like oversized playing cards.
"Idiots! Don't try to carry more than you can lift!"
The dwarf was looping a large coil of thick hemp rope about his shoulders and starting to run up the hill when he spotted the Surveyors coming back.
"Put those muscles to use and give them a hand with those planks!"
"Let me shed some light on the situation. If it's a rock creature, then it should be friendly!" at which point Cadeyrn Griogal throws the glowing rock into the sinkhole.
Do I need to roll anything for throwing the rock into the hole? And how is the plank gathering and laying down going? Because I'd rather like to go see what's going on down there.
|DM Doomed Hero|
The sink hole looks mostly normal. In fact, your quick scan of the area reveals sticks with colored cloths driven into the ground, scattered across the hillside. They seem mostly concentrated in this area.
Usually markers like that indicate points of possible intrest or danger on a site like this.
It's possible that whoever fell through was just doing their job, looking for exactly this sort of thing to mark, and just got unlucky.
The "mostly" part is because the far side of the sinkhole has strands of thick white webbing clinging to the dirt.
|DM Doomed Hero|
No roll necessary.
Cadeyern tosses his glowing rock down the hole. The voice from below is no less frantic.
"No! I don't see any- wait, holy crap there's a little rock man! Ow! Careful of the leg, rock!"
"No, it's something else! It ducked out of the light, but it's big and has lots of eyes."