The road north to Janderhoff is smooth and well-traveled, the product of centuries of trade between the dwarven Sky Citadel and bustling Korvosa to the south. The trade road follows the long curve of the Jeggare River, along the foothills of the Mindspin Mountains, before crossing the Falcon River and cutting east, into the mountains proper. The steep ascent to Janderhoff slows merchant caravans to a crawl, causing well-guarded shipments of imported wine to catch up to the elegant carriages of the representatives of the Bank of Abadar, who in turn move impatiently behind lumbering wagons hauling fresh oysters and reefclaw on magically-sustained ice. In this slow procession of commerce, a group of Pathfinders find themselves traveling towards the dwarven city, each directed there by a missive from Sir Jorsal of Lauterbury.
Figured we'd get some introductions going, as you've run into each other on the road to Janderhoff. The opening post will reveal Sir Jorsal's letter and get us launched into the story, so I won't put that up until Gameday starts on the 13th.
"Great CARAVANS of JANDERHOFF! I've never seen SO MUCH FISH on dry LAND! What a wonderful smell we've discovered!" The big blue man with the strange wiggly antenna on his head announces. He's easily seven feet tall and broad as a barn, with muscled arms and a huge innocent grin that makes his face look perpetually bewildered. He waves violently with his arms to indicate the 'THISNESS' of his speech and nearly brains a cart horse. His voice can start avalanches and it doesn't help that he cannot seem to speak in anything below a boom.
Still, he's right about the smell.
"Bien sûr, eet eez quite ze odeur!" pipes up a green skinned Grippli from the top of one of the wagons, where he lazed with a goblet of wine, absent-mindedly picking at a lute. He leaps down in a graceful arc, sailing far past the the rest of the caravans to stare out at the majestic vista of the river below. "Eet reminds me of zis wonderful taverne by ze pier in Habsalom, where I met ze most beautiful Galtan maiden. Ze way she sang made my 'eart swell - I could 'ave leapt to ze moon! Sadly, she was engaged to be married to a vile man, a count from Taldor, and our love was not to be. Some nights, I can still 'ear 'er sing on ze wind..." he trails off wistfully before shrugging his shoulders and resetting his ostentatiously plumed hat (which had somehow found its way to rest against his heart) back on his head before straightening his eagle-emblazoned tabard and hurrying back to join the train, hand on the hilt of his rapier to prevent it from banging against his gangly legs.
A lithe bald man with Pharasman robes and a small spiraled bone necklance lets out a small smile as he greats his newfound companions with his gentle voice "Greetings from the Lady of Graves. I am Theodric Milan"
Theodric seems much more serious than his companions but not perturbed by their oddities either.
"WONDERFUL! It's been TOO LONG since I traveled with such FINE FELLOWS!" He grins at the grippli and nods to the small man. "Does PHARASMA have any NEWS for me? I think I VISITED HER ONCE. Can't remember much. Fed a few baby crabs, you see." He sighs deeply. "THEY NEVER WRITE, children."
A sunburned woman sitting on the driver’s bench of a nearby cart gives a couple of tentative sniffs as the train makes its glacial way up the road, then shrugs, clearly used to such smells or worse. Her eyes widen as she catches sight of El Garrapata’s outift and antennae, and they go positively bug-eyed when a frog with a rich Galtan accent appears and tells his tale of unrequited love.
Glancing at the wagon behind her, she speaks up, ”Baby crabs is it now? We’ve got a few of those in our load, could let you have ‘em for a fair price ‘fore we set up at the market.“ With a grin at Jean-Claude, she adds, ”Singin’ on ze wind, that I don’t have.“
"Never fear, mademoiselle, ze music I can provide." Jean-Claude smoothly doffs his plumed wide-brimmed cap as he settles into a deep bow before leaping back up to his spot on top of the wagon. He takes a sip from the goblet still resting there and picks up his lute again.
Theodric stares into El Garrapata's eyes for a slightly too long to be comfortable period of time...
"I see nothing of your path, hopefully it means you are far from the grave."
"Well ah'll be honest, there, friend. Thaht's a mite creepy. Meanin' no offense, ah'course."
Hopping down from atop one of the wagons is another grippli. Where Jean-Claude is elegant and ostentatious, this one is...well, not. Slung over his shoulder is a decidedly homemade-looking musket. His pants are ripped, his bare feet are mud-splattered, and his mithril-chain muscle shirt is, beyond all reason, rusty. "Howdy y'all. My name is...well, most of y'all" glancing at Jean-Claude "don't really have the throat structure to say it fer real, so y'all can call me Gorf." He wipes his hands on his mud-spattered pants and holds it out to shake.
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
As Gorf hops down from a wagon and introduces himself, the mustached man driving said wagon lets go of the reins, leaving his mule train to plod slowly along the road to Janderhoff. The driver turns towards his covered load and throws back a tarp to reveal a stack of crates, stamped with the words 'Igel's Fine Frog's Legs'. He hastily checks the lids of all the crates, looks back over his shoulder at Gorf, then does a more careful check of his cargo before shrugging and clambering back to his seat. As he shakes the reins fruitlessly in an effort to move a little faster through the throng of merchants, he can be heard to mutter, "Pretty big for our brand anyway...and he's got a gun, best to just leave it be."
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
"Et bien! Gerrf, eet eez a plaisir to make your acquaintance!" Jean-Claude says, from the top of the wagon. "Forgive me if I do not shake hands, as the music, she is a cruel mistress!"
And we're off!
Though Theodric’s intense stare does not show him El Garrapata’s true path, it does reveal that the big blue man holds a letter in his hand as he gestures enthusiastically. The sharp-eyed Pharasman recognizes it as a twin to a letter he himself carries, just as Jean-Claude comes to the same realization. El Garrapata notices none of this, but Gorf twigs to it quickly, pulling out a matching letter that is tucked into his belt. It is soon clear that each of the four travelers carries a missive from Sir Jorsal of Lauterbury. Perhaps less obvious is that the Mendevian Venture Captain also sent them each a small cloth pouch, labeled “For Tolls” and containing 100 gold pieces.
The two gripplis and Theodric nod in recognition that they all serve the Pathfinder Society and, a good deal later, when El Garrapata catches on to this fact as well, he can barely contain his excitement that they have all met on the road, and are going the same direction, to the same place, for the same reason!
Soon after, when the newly-assembled party reaches Janderhoff’s surface entrance —a pair of massive iron gates emblazoned with the hammer of Torag— the guards are expecting them, and they offer a gruff, dwarven welcome to the city. Janderhoff’s people, mostly dwarves but some humans, halflings, and gnomes, bustle about the prosperous mountainside citadel, tending its many forges and bringing in carts of copper, iron, silver, and black marble from the nearby mines. The tall chimneys of its forges let forth a constant stream of gray smoke into the blue sky.
"WHAT ARE THE ODDS?!?" Garrapata adds in his usual boom.
Local: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (6) + 8 = 14
"Truly JUSTICE and the SOCIETY BUREAUCRACY has brought us together for a GREAT PURPOSE! I look FORWARD to seeing what happens!" He punctuates all this with wide sweeping hand gestures and exuberant bouncing on his feet.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (12) + 13 = 25
Geography: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
Jean-Claude's throat puffs up in rage as he recalls the contents of the letter. "Eef zere eez one sing zat I 'ate, eet eez... et bien, eet would be off-key singing! But eef zere are two sings, ze second one would be slavers! We must rescue zese pauvre dwarves! Even ze duergar would not let such people inside! Zey must be somewhere on ze Long Walk! We should be able to get down zere from Janderhoff"
know local: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (7) + 10 = 17
know geography: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (2) + 10 = 12
Theodric knows a little abit about the goings on down there, but nothing too interesting.
As Jean-Claude makes his inquiries in Janderhoff, he’s struck by how very strong the anti-duergar sentiment is in the city. He did not expect the dwarves to love their slaving distant cousins, but virtually any mention of them is met with vitriol, accompanied by very expressive spitting. His inquiries also reveal that it will be no trouble finding Sandricaan, the Pathfinder mentioned in Jorsal’s letter.
Will give Dennis some time to post, then move us along. I’ll be at a RL table with him tonight, so won’t be posting this evening.
Sorry for the delay, folks; my morning posting window was sucked up by launching the multi-table.
Knowledge (local): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24 +2 to identify natives of the darklands, if that becomes relevant.
Knowledge (geography): 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10
"Ah ain't afeared a'the dark, y'understand, but ah also ain't too keen on headin' underground. There some nasty critters down there." Gorf looks rather disheartened at the thought of being underground, far from the sunshine. After a moment, his grin returns. "Welp, nothin' for it, ah suppose. Best get on with it!"
Just as Jean-Claude predicted (with only a soupçon of smugness), finding Sandricaan is a simple task, as the wizard spends most of his time in his study poring over historical texts and examining ancient relics. When the party arrives, the dwarf invites them into his cramped study. In a voice that perfectly captures the stereotypical dwarf wizard, he exclaims, ”Oh, oh, oh, I have been eager for your arrival, anticipating it quite excitedly, I must say. Very glad you’re here, as Jorsal said you would be. I do hope the road wasn’t too troublesome. I’ve done some research into some sort of color-coded signaling system, perhaps lanes dedicated to carts carrying larger loads, to encourage fewer carts, but dwarves are a traditional lot, you know… Ah, yes, the task at hand. You know why you’re here, I’m sure, to see if you can get our lost defenders back from the benighted duergar. Do you have any questions for me?”
"Oui, monsieur, eet eez our deepest honeur to stop zese 'orrible slaveurs," Jean-Claude says, saluting with his rapier, "Eez zere anyting you could offer to asseest us in our quest?"
Sandricaan’s eyes widen slightly as the small frog-man waves his rapier around, but the wizard manages a thoughtful pause before responding, ”Well, I can give you some counsel on what routes to consider, and some allies you might find. Following the Long Walk is the quickest and surest way to intercept the slavers. However, it’s also the easiest way to get yourselves caught before you ever reach your destination. I suggest you follow the side-tunnels near the road. It may take longer, but I’ve factored that into my calculations. If any of you possess a particularly silvered tongue, and you disguise any dwarves among your group, you might brave the Long Walk itself. In any case, it is imperative to move quickly. If you reach your destination too late, you will not have much time to find allies and prepare. And I absolutely recommend against trying to teleport there! Nothing good can ever come of teleporting in the Darklands.”
”As to how to deal with the fact that the duergar will greatly outnumber you…” he continues, scratching his thick beard with blunt fingers, ”if my calculations are correct, you should be able to intercept the slavers somewhere near the duergar stronghold of Fellstrok. The duergar there have waged constant war against the mongrelmen in that area. Mongrelmen are a peculiar people, but also the most friendly—well, least unfriendly—folk you are likely to find in all of Nar-Voth. You should be able to come to an enemy-of-my-enemy sort of agreement with them, one way or another.”
Laying his hand down on the desk, he notices that it lands on a folded piece of parchment and mutters, ”Oh, yes…this came from Colson Madris.” He hands the letter from the leader of Liberty’s Edge to Jean-Claude, then says, ”I expect I’ve forgotten to tell you something of note, but I’m not sure what it might be. Any further questions?”
"But of course! Meeting wiz deez potential allies is a splendide idée! Any suggestions on how we might convince them to aid us? What languages do zey speak?"
Can I roll to see what I know about mongrelmen?
Jean-Claude pauses for a moment as he tries to recall what he may have heard or read regarding mongrelmen in the past.
Knowledge (Nature): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
"Against the enemies of liberté et égalité, we are all allies!"
"Ah been called lotsa stuff, but silver-tongued ain't one-ah them. Ah'm game fer takin' these side-tunnels. Any other folks we should know 'bout? Friends or foes?"
Sorry, Theodric, you avatar didn't have a Liberty's Edge symbol by it. Sandricaan would have presented the letter to both of you.
Jean-Claude, you can ask three questions about mongrelmen. You know they are monstrous humanoids, composed of the mismatched parts of many different creatures, ranging from normal humanoids to beasts and insects.
”As I’ve said, I fear friends will be scarce in Nar-Voth,” the dwarf replies. ”As to foes, I doubt you’ll run short of them, but the worst will be the duergar, evil, wretched creatures that they are. Mind you, they are also skilled warriors, who possess powerful magic and often ride giant vermin into battle.” He scratches his beard again in thought, clearly a habit of his to stimulate his thinking, and muses aloud, ”What I wonder is why the duergar took this clutch of dwarves captive, rather than killing them as they would normally do. I’ve pondered this question since learning of the raid, and all I can think is that they have some reason for bringing dwarves to Hagegraf. Whatever it is, it can’t be good. Perhaps you will learn the duergars’ intentions while on your mission.”
If we're trying to work with them diplomatically, I'll use my Qs for anything that might give us an advantage there - what kind of gifts might be appreciated, anything they celebrate or revile, etc. Open to suggestions from the party, of course.
The wizard nods gladly at El Garrapata’s pledge before adding a last bit of advice, “Nar- Voth’s threats are too many to enumerate, but I’ll advise you to bring plenty of food, fresh water, and light, as well as any other supplies you expect to need on the journey. Don’t expect to be able to buy anything else once you have departed from Janderhoff. The trip to Fellstrok will take two to three weeks, depending on how fast you walk and which route you opt to take.”
Once the Pathfinders have completed any last-minute shopping, Sandricaan leads the way through Janderhoff’s interconnected rooms, stairways, and tunnels, following a complex route that boasts increasing numbers of surly dwarven guards as the path descends toward Nar-Voth. Eventually, he stops at a massive gate bearing the same hammer symbol as all of the city’s entrances. He speaks briefly with the captain on duty, and the heavily armed dwarf pauses before giving a slow nod and reluctantly commanding the guards to open the gates.
If you need to buy rations or other supplies, please include it in your next post.
Jean-Claude – you know that the mongrelmen will be more receptive to diplomacy than attempts to bully them into helping, that they have a bitter enmity towards the duergar, and that patience is a virtue in talking to them.
You now face the choice of which route to take to navigate the Long Walk. One option is to take the road itself, talk your way past the duergar, and pay exorbitant tolls. The other is to stick to the twisting side-tunnels that run along the road in order to avoid duergar patrols and outposts. How would you like to proceed?
"Ugh, sounds lahk a long trip," Gorf says as he stuffs a small mountain of trail rations into a bag that somehow never seems to get full. "Oh, maht need some e-lu-mi-nation, too. Better grab a few a' them sunrods."
Buying six weeks worth of trail rations (three weeks there, three weeks back - 42 rations) and five sunrods, storing all in my handy haversack.
Theodric will buy 25gp in rations (50 rations) and will hopefully get somebody strong like El Garrapata to carry them.
Slight preference for side tunnels but can reasonably do either.
Buying 25 gp in rations and happy to carry whatever anyone needs carried, so long as it can be dropped rapidly for combat-mode!
Garrapata ponders the choice of diplomancy or side quests. On the one hand, talking IS what he does best. All the people who hit him tell him so. On the other hand, SIDE QUEST!
Garrapata votes SIDE QUEST!
Survival: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (2) + 12 = 14 +2 to avoid becoming lost, if that's relevant.
Jean-Claude is well equipped for the upcoming subterranean adventure in his Handy Haversack.
"I tink our best bet eez to take ze side tunnels. Suivez-moi!"
Knowledge (Dungeoneering): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (17) + 9 = 26
Jean-Claude begins singing a jolly tune.
"Noooooon, je ne regrette rien!!!"
Wow, 8 days since we were last able to post. Urgh.
Can I get a Knowledge (dungeoneering) or Survival check from Theodric? Needed for timekeeping purposes. I’ll go ahead and post without it, to get things going again!
With many days’ journey behind them, the party comes to a point in their journey when they must navigate slightly away from the Long Walk, in following Sandricaan’s directions to the territory of the mongrelmen, their potential allies.
Though the journey through the Darklands is difficult and unpleasant, the caverns and passages are generally unremarkable. At one point, however, the Pathfinders reach a large cavern, where the floor consists of tightly packed dirt and gravel, and strange furrows in the earth crisscross the room. Patches of luminescent fungi cling to the floor, walls, and ceilings, and the sound of water dripping into several shallow pools echoes through the chamber.
There’s a map linked next to my avatar, where it says ‘Captives of Toil’. Can someone move their token a single move action on the map, and I’ll presume the party all moves together, unless someone has a reason they’d do otherwise.
arcana: 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (4) + 18 = 22
Sorry, I was in a rush to get posts up in all my pbps
Theodric stage whispers "Sharks, land sharks." before raising his voice "Those scratches are from the fins of bulettes. They may have come down here to mate so lets try not to disturb them."
Garrapata: 1d20 ⇒ 7
Jean-Claude: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (11) + 11 = 22
Theodric: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (12) + 13 = 25
Gorf: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (16) + 11 = 27
Stealth: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (14) + 11 = 25
Jean-Claude: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
Theodric: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (5) + 16 = 21
Gorf: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (14) + 10 = 24
Beast: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11
Theodric, his senses alert from having seen the bulette traces in the floor, hears something burrowing through the ground nearby! It sounds like something big!
Surprise Round Initiative:
Big Ol’ Burrowing Beastie
Theodric is up in the surprise round, then whatever burrowing horror he heard, then Gorf gets to go. Then we’ll go into regular round 1 initiative. As Theodric knows well, he can take a move or a standard action.