Tif nods along as Kitchel speaks. "Yes, we should all continue working together. See Foxglove, then about the bounty, then head to the farm."
"Works for me," says Wayland, "but I wouldn't mind following up on this 'longshanks' leading the goblins even without the Sheriff hiring us to do so. They've got something going on. A plan. And waiting for help from Magnimar, well, I don't think we'll like what will happen if we leave the goblins and their leader to their plotting."
"F-Foxglove? Ah...right," she coughs at the name. "I suppose seeing him for the reward would be, ah, fitting. Either way, I agree that I don't like the idea of someone leading the goblins around like this. If finding them using their tracks is out, then we could maybe poke around some with the townsfolk if some of them know anything? Not that I'm...the best with people though."
A trip to the Rusty Dragon finds Aldern Foxglove in the common room poring over papers. At your entrance, he looks up and brights. "Ah! Aha! Yes, fantastic! How wonderful to see you again. I had hoped to run into you--" He stands from his seat and approaches. He takes out a purse that weighs a fair bit. "Here, a token of my gratitude, I was certain I'd end up with a severe goblining yesterday." He pushes the coin purse into Valerica's hands and meets her eyes, just for a moment, and smiles.
He steps back again. "There was something else, as well; I'm only in town for business, what timing, yes? As it is, I will be returning to my home in Magnimar in a few days, but in the meantime, I would be honored if you would all accompany me on a boar hunt in the Tickwood tomorrow."
Edamm stands to the back of the group keeping an eye on Aldern.
Why would he think she can be bought? she thinks to herself. She's classier than that.
Edamm smiles to herself at her thoughts.
"After all that danger you want to leave the safety of the city and brave getting gored by a wild boar or found by a group of goblins?" Trig asked. Even though she spoke to Aldern, her eyes were on the coin purse Valerica was now holding. "Well, I suppose if you had these folks as body guards, it should be fine. Some of them would probably even do it for free."
"I think boar hunts are pretty safe, at least for the hunters." Tif remarks to Trig. "There's normally a lot more hunters than boar. That's what I've heard anyway, never been on one myself."
Addressing Foxglove, Tif says "Thank you for your offer, I'd be glad to come along."
"I'd be up for a hunt," says Wayland. "I'm good enough with the crossbow, and the Tickwood, while it don't sound great, can't be any worse than what we got in Sargava."
Valerica takes the bag in her hands and feels the weight to it somewhat, before passing it off to Trig, who seems more interested in the money than she. Having a hard time keeping eye contact with Aldern, she coughs, saying, ”Well, I suppose if my companions here are ready and willing to go on a hunt, I wouldn’t be one to turn it down. I am rather skilled at this sort of thing, anyways...”
Aldern winces a little at Trig's comment. "I admit, that wasn't my finest hour, but I think you'll find that in my element, I can keep up with the likes of you. Anyways--excellent, excellent. Tomorrow morning, then, bright and early, I'll make all of the arrangements."
The boar hunt is tomorrow morning. In the meantime, there is still that posting up on the notice board about something killing livestock. The area where the complaints are coming from is about an hour away walking. It is about 10 in the morning.
Kitchel's whisker's twitch as she glances around, taking in bits and pieces of everything while the conversation happens. When Aldern gives the final part of his invitation, she nods. "Assuming we don't have something more pressing, a hunt should be interesting. I wonder how clever the boars in these woods are; I can't think of any that I've seen here or anywhere up close, so that should be worth something. Of course, hunting boars when we've got goblins lurking about town might not be the wisest course of action, but who knows what we'll know tomorrow morning that we don't know! It's all part of the fun in discovery!"
As Kitchel's attention turns to the rest of the group, she smiles. "Speaking of discovery, shall we attempt to discover what's been killing the livestock nearby? I imagine that it's something that might live in the woods. Perhaps if we don't find it today, the hunt tomorrow might even help with that should we have time for it! I've been thinking about the bounty on the goblin ears, and you know, I bet that we can sort that out if we find any more ears that we might want to turn in. Unless anyone has a pressing errand to run in town, and there's nothing wrong with that if anyone does, so do speak up, shall we head to the farm?"
"We should check at the Goblin Squash stables first and make sure that the bounty is still good. There maybe were enough ears last night to take all his money, if someone thought to do it. No sense chopping ears if there's no coin in it."
"Its been a while since Ponok and I have run down something bigger than a deer." Edamm says. "We'd be happy to find a boar or other prey in the woods."
Edamm nods along with Tif.
"As for the bounty, I think its worth asking about."
"I'm going to guess some enterprising folks have already collected the goblin ears, despite our hard work," Trig said as she began counting the coins in the pouch, a small smile making her usually frowning face look more normal. "I agree that we should ask about it, but I'm not expecting much."
The Gnome looked at Foxglove after all of the coins had been counted. "Right. It sounds like we'll see you there."
Kitchel nods. "Right, to the farm it is, via the Goblin Squash stables. I wonder if they have anything more interesting than horses in the stables. Maybe we'll find a riding yak! That would be something I've never seen. And maybe the the thing killing the livestock is the Sandpoint Devil, but that'd almost be disappointing; I'd think that it would make more interesting attacks. It could be wolf or a bear or a big cat. We'll probably need to see what it's been doing to the livestock and check for tracks and what not. The good news is that we're well equipped to do that!"
On arriving at the stables, it's evident what happens to all of the ears--three of the barn's rafters have goblin ears nailed to the wood, each with a name branded into it. As you enter, the owner Daviren Hosk (who Wayland met yesterday at the festival) is putting up a dozen more, probably from the festival yesterday.
"Who's crazy now, huh? I tell 'em, goblins ain't nothing to be trifled with." He continues nailing a goblin ear to the rafter. "Can I help you folks?"
A light horse is 75gp, a pony is 30gp, plus more for it to be combat trained.
It's a fair hike to get to the farms, about two hours walking down the Lost Coast Road then east, briefly following Cougar Creek and then on the dirt roads. The walk is uneventful; along the way, the road passes a stone tower, seeming to be abandoned, about 30 feet tall, but aside from being out in the middle of nowhere it is unremarkable.
Further on, the road comes to the top of a rise, and out before you is a vast swath of farmland, fields stretching to the horizon. The crops have long since been harvested, late in the season as it is, but other farms have livestock where work goes on.
Asking a young man you pass on the road, you're point in the direction of the Keever Ranch, which has lost three cows recently, including one just last night. Indeed, as you come up on the ranch, a ranchhand is at the fence near the road with a wagon, looking at a cow carcass. Part of it, anyways, since the entrails and a bloody leg have been scattered up to ten feet away from the carcass.
"Watch out that you don't step in something," the ranchhand says. His boots are covered in blood.
at the stables:
"Hello! We're just checking that the bounty on goblin ears is still good. Killed a bunch last night, didn't know to take the ears - we just wanted to check that the offer was still good in the future."
"Um.. don't they start to smell after a while? Or smell worse?"
at the farm:
"Good afternoon. We've come from Sandpoint about your problem - this is the latest attack, I'm guessing? Wow, must have been something fierce to do all this. You hear or see anything in the night?"
Tif looks around carefully, seeing if she can see any tracks or anything else that might indicate what could have attacked the cow.
Survival: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
Kitchel nods as Tif handles the greeting before piping up herself. "Thanks for the warning! Something certainly did a number on this cow, didn't it? Is this what the ones from before looked like as well? Oh, and just out of curiosity, what was that tower standing alone out in the fields on the way here from town? It didn't look like anyone was in it, but someone took a lot of effort to build it there at some point."
Kitchel carefully makes her way to the parts of the eviscerated animal, looking for claw or tooth marks to try to tell what might have done this.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
Valerica lets the two ratfolk get to talking with the farmer as she immediately bends down and tries to see if she can find any tracks of animals as well, and if she finds any, will try to see if she remembers anything about them.
Survival: 1d20 + 6 + 1 ⇒ (19) + 6 + 1 = 26
Knowledge (Nature): 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 4 = 16
"Kitchel, Valerica, can you tell if it was a single creature or a pack? A lone wolf won't kill a cow in most cases. Cows are just too much bigger. But a pack, maybe."
Wayland also looks around, but he can't beat Kitchel's Perception or Valerica's Survival.
Trig sniffed at the sight of the cow, her face curling into one of disgust. She didn't bother interacting with the farmhand. Instead, she got closer to it, leaning in to look closely at the wounds. The gnome looked carefully for signs of ripping or tearing as if by claws, or if these were caused by teeth, or even by a blade.
Heal: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
Edamm leans over the dirt along with Valerica then looks over at Wayland.
"A pack certainly could do this." she says. "A lone wolf may as well if it was diseased or desperate."
Edamm can assist with the survival check if needed but unless I roll a 20, I can't beat the Valerica.
The cow was killed by tooth and claw, large irregular slashes and chunks taken out of the flesh. Something savagely tore into the animal. Trig notices that the cow's stomach has been torn open, and half-eaten entrails spill out onto the ground.
Needless to say, the smell is horrific.
Valerica is able to quickly pick up the trail of something that came from then went back to the west, traipsing through the empty fields. Disturbed dirt and crop waste, blood and other fluids. The tracks suggest a single creature on all fours. Combined with the teeth and claws and what's in the area, it could be one of the firepelt cougars native to the region or another wildcat, or even a bear.
When informed of the tracks, and the likely culprit, Tif pulls out the reclaimed horsechopper and prepares to follow Valerica to the creature's den.
"Something natural then? Still, it must be fierce to do this damage. I suppose I'll try out this blade - see how well it works in the field."
Edamm takes her bow from her should and approaches Valerica with Ponok. She leans down and motions for Ponok to join her.
"Ponok," she says."miros. Miros și urmați."
- Push DC 25 Track: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (20) + 8 = 28
- Track by scent Ponok: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (12) + 1 = 13 If possible can this be used to aid Valerica in tracking.
"Ponok is the best tracker but perhaps he can aid you Valerica."
"It's got claws and teeth anyhow, so something at least natural adjacent. And we've found a trail! That's a lucky start. Well, for us anyhow, not so lucky for the cow here."
Kitchel moves from the carcass to peer at the trail tracks that Valerica has found, looking closely to try to learn what to look for in the future, but being careful not to disturb them.
Trig looked at the ranch hand coolly. "When we get back, it'll be with the pelt of the beast. You should tell whoever put this job up on the board to have the payment ready for us once we return." She nodded at the man before following after the rest of the group, longspear out and in hand.
Valerica got up off of her one knee and turned to look down at Ponok and smirking. ”Yeah, sure. Always thought he was a smart one, anyways. I mean, uh, with the bond you have and all...”
She then turns to follow after the tracks, hopefully getting the help of one Ponok.
Survival: 1d20 + 6 + 1 ⇒ (17) + 6 + 1 = 24
Valerica expertly follows the trail to the west, through two different fields. Eventually, the trail leads to a farmstead, currently vacant. The farmhouse is on the verge of collapse, showing signs of a fire some months back.
The trail leads into the barn. The door is slightly ajar. Glancing inside, while there are a few rays of light that peek through where there are holes in the roof, the abandoned barn is mostly dark. There is a smell of rancid flesh.
Who is going in first?
As the party nears the barn, Kitchel glances around and then signals for the others to stop. In a much quieter, calmer voice than normal she asks, "Shall I go take a quick look in the barn to see what's there. If I go on my own I'm fairly light on my feet and might not draw attention like we all would together. I'll also be able to see in the dark better than most of the rest of you. A quick scout to know what we're dealing with here should help us better prepare for confronting it."
Kitchel nods at the ranger. "Sounds good, let's see if we can get close enough to take a peek in. If anything sees us or comes at us we signal for help, but hopefully we'll be in and out with no attention."
Sneak to get close to the barn and peek inside: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
Perception with Darkvision to do said peeking at what's in the barn: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
"On it." Valerica says, nodding in agreement with the ratfolk. She follows after her, making sure to keep light on her feet.
Stealth: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17
Perceptionne with no Darkvision: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 14
Tif nervously gripped the horsechopper as Kitchel and Valerica approached the doorway, preparing to rush forward at any sign of trouble.
Not at all willing to go in with the first group, Trig pulled her longspear so it would be handy and started looking around and, more importantly, listening for breathing or movement in the barn.
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (15) + 11 = 26
1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8
1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20
Init Edamm: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (13) + 3 = 16
Init Kitchel: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (10) + 6 = 16
Init Tif: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3
Init Trig: 1d20 ⇒ 12
Init Valerica: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (20) + 6 = 26
Init Wayland: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
You see something, and it sees you.
Even Valerica can see the shadows moving and hear the patter of footsteps. It passes through one of the rays of sunlight, and there something with sharp teeth and claws moving swiftly at you.
If one saw this creature at a distance, it could conceivably be mistaken for a wolf, with a canine muzzle and back-bent hind legs, but it is completely hairless, seemingly rabid, with eyes that look infected. It is covered in blood and viscera. As it comes near, it lurches back onto its hind legs into an upright position.
Valerica may act before the creature. Without darkvision she has a 50% miss chance against it.
Acting purely on instinct, Valerica immediately draws her bow out, and takes a shot at the moving shadows.
Longbow: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13
Percentile: 1d100 ⇒ 8
Damage: 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
Gritting her teeth as the arrow flies into the darkness, she calls to the others, ”Need some backup! It’s a wild one here!”
Kitchel has not acted yet and cannot take an attack of opportunity.
bite: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (9) + 3 = 12
The arrow flies through the darkness, not seeming to hit anything. The creature lunges at Kitchel, the first thing it saw, and snaps at her, but its teeth close only on air. One of the barn doors is shoved open a little by its movement, and everyone can see the creature, bestial but like no other beast, the size of a man but its body is warped.
Everyone else is up. This thing is an aberration, so Kitchel, Tif, and Valerica get their trait bonus against it.
After being able to see the creature in the full light, Valerica grits her teeth, having trained so much for a moment like this, and taking down creatures like this. She fires another arrow, hoping she’ll land her mark this time!
Longbow: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (1) + 7 = 8
Damage: 1d8 + 2 ⇒ (7) + 2 = 9
Unfortunately her arrow flies right into the sky as she stumbles over a rock while trying to fire.
At the creatures lunge Kitchel's eyes light up. "Now here's a monster worth finishing! I'm glad it was going to for cows instead of villagers earlier. I'll keep it busy!"
She looks for an appropriate soft spot and makes a precise jab with her rapier.
Melee Attack with Rapier: 1d20 + 6 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 6 + 1 = 14
Damage (P): 1d4 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 4 + 1 = 8
Now I can attempt that parry if it attacks me again.
Parry attempt if applicable: 1d20 + 6 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 6 + 1 = 10 -2 for each size large than Kitchel the opponent is.
Riposte damage (P) if applicable: 1d4 + 4 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 4 + 1 = 9
Hm. The problem with the horsechopper is it's a reach weapon, so it's no so good for Swarming ability.
Tif starts as she sees the aberrant nature of the creature, and her expression grows dark.
"Not so natural after all. Um, please don't be alarmed, but these things bring out the worst in me."
MW Horsechopper attack, PA, Bloodraging, Monster Hunter: 1d20 + 6 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 6 + 1 = 8
MW Horsechooper damage, PA, Bloodraging, Monster Hunter: 1d8 + 9 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 9 + 1 = 16
As she rushes in, her fur bristles unnaturally as though the flesh beneath it was undulating. Her gait changes mid step, as though she had just gained an extra set of backward knees. Solid magenta eyes with pinprick pupils take in the beast as Tif swings the horsechopper down, slamming the blade of the crude polearm into the floor.
Activate bloodrage, go in and attack at range (10ft). Will try to position myself so that I can shift around to flank next round.
Edamm follows Wayland into the barn with Ponok on her heels. Seeing the beast, she fires and arrow from her bow and shouts for Ponok to attack.
- Shortbow: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
- Damage: 1d6 ⇒ 4
Ponok moves in on the beast and tries to bite the beast.
- Bite: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20
- Damage: 1d4 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2
- Trip: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (14) + 1 = 15
Now that Trig saw what they were up against, she grimaced. This was looking to be one strange creature. Regardless, she hustled her way around it, longspear already in hand, and attempted to get into a flanking position with one of the ratfolk.
Double move up to 30 feet to get into a flanking position.
Well it wasn't going to have a map because I thought it wouldn't go very long, but that's a lot of natural ones.
1d20 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
Kitchel's attack hits home, and the creature screeches in fury. What looked like a muzzle on its face is more like an elongated mouth--one that splits open four ways and has a long, thin tongue like a snake.
Its head suddenly whips around as Tif enters a bloodrage, and it sucks in air noisily. It is totally focused on her, so much so that Ponok is able to slip in, grab the creature by the leg, and pull it to the ground.
It stands up again, heedless of the danger, and goes after Ponok, but the jungle cat is too quick for it.
provokes attacks of opportunity from Kitchel, Tif, Ponok, and Trig