The Knight is doing knightly things, perhaps the real deal.
Piri hides his face with his hood and observes all the commoners carefully. He examines all the faces and hands that he can see from under his hood, looking for someone whose hands are too clean or who appears to well fed, well dressed, or too made up.
Perc.: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (1) + 11 = 12
Perhaps I have the hood too low
"Sir William, my good knight, now now... to take all of these gold pieces out of your veteran retirement fund... which is the only thing you have left in this world, after suffering so much loss in wars where no Taldan had to see the blood you spilt... I shall not have it! I will not be outdone by my own knight! You have inspired me: I shall match your donation 2 gold pieces to one!"
Valeria steps down from the coach, with Sir Toby's help, and walks through the beggars. She hands two gold pieces to each man, woman or child present. She smiles and shows genuine interest, asking for everyone's name and committing them to memory. After the task is complete, she asks, "Dear folks, who is in charge here? we would like to talk to him or her and figure out how we can help more in the long run. My, the journey has been long... would any of you have coffee or tea available? water would do to, of course, if you find yourselves short of such supplies. I will pay for the drink also: you are all already strained as is, and I won't take anything from your folks for free!"
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (12) + 15 = 27
Don't forget, I am Sir William as my cover! And the Black Knight when doing covert activities. :D
Post revised... @everyone: PLEASE indicate if you're also operating under an alias before I make a blunder! :)
Eregos doesn't have much change that can be spared at the moment, and he guiltily thinks of what he'd done with it when gambling. Uncomfortable, he slips further back in the cushions of the carriage, thinking.
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Loud cries of surprise ring out as Toby starts handing out gold to the indigent locals. The ones offering wares don't take the free coins, and instead offer to sell you goods obviously too proud for the handout. However, there are several others that don't have the same reservations and happily take the coin. Most of them quickly clutch the precious alms, running off before anyone can take the good fortune from them. In a couple cases, though, tugging matches break out over individual coins - and in at least one case, fists begin to swing at least until Valeria steps out and offers even more coin. The people calm and give her a questioning look, but as she starts to hand out two gold coins to all those same poor people the all stare at her in silent awe.
When she asks for tea, an elderly lady comes over with several tea cups, her likely granddaughter, holding a pot of tea. A spot is cleared at one of the stalls for the group to sit as the young girl helps her grandmother server any of the group who is interested a cup of tea.
One of the peddlers merely watches the show of generosity and eyes Toby and Valeria carefully. A thick, scraggly beard adorns his chin in sharp contrast to the thinning hair upon his scalp. He makes his way through the other beggars as they give their tanks to the two and calmly draws close to table.
"You're definitely not friends of the count, I'd wager," he says. He strokes his beard thoughtfully, giving you a chance to notice that he is missing the two smallest fingers from his hand. "I'm gonna take a chance here. If'n you don't tell the count's bastard watch hound that we're selling above our station, we've got a few special items for sale. Magic things."
He briefly looks to his fellow peddlers before turning back to offer you a nod and wink.
In addition to most common goods, these beggar-peddlers also have the following magic items: potion of keen senses, scroll of chill metal, scroll of entropic shield, scroll of inflict moderate wounds, wand of mage armor, and a pyxes of redirected focus.
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Sveng sees the commoners and sets his jaw. To an onlooker it may seem he is upset at the poverty and struggle, but inwardly he is concerned at the civil unrest. We must play our cards carefully, else we will end up on the wrong side of an angry mob, and that ends in a brutal beating in the best of times. He reaches towards his coin purse; a few gold spread out among the peasants will not hurt his pocket, but it will go a long way to earning favor for his political allies, as well as tilt the scales against any personal assault. However their new knight companion beats him to the point, and indeed sweeps away the crowd with his generosity. Sveng raises both brows in surprise. Ah sir knight, you are optimistic to a fault. Let us hope it is not our undoing.
Then he is shown up by Valeria a moment later. Sveng smiles at their generosity, inwardly his mind spins. Generosity to an extreme is foolishness, but what does the step beyond that mean? Either way, an incredibly good start off to our time here. And we have our faces to the crowd. Time to flesh out the foundations.
As Valeria hands out coins Sveng stands tall, smiling at her generosity. "Oh Lady Valeria, your generosity knows no bounds!"
Just to get her name in their minds.
Sveng inclines his head politely to merchant that approaches them. "Well sometimes things get a bit stagnant and need to be shaken up, yes? We won't tell if you won't." He says with a chuckle. "I didn't manage to catch your name, sir. Sveng." He says while offering his hand.
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Forgot to mention there were 15 people in total that took alms, so -15gp for Toby, and -30gp for Valeria.
The man takes Sveng's hand with a smile and gives it a strong solid shake. "You can call me John." He waves toward some of the men and shouts "Clear the road so these good folk can pass when they are ready."
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You spend some time talking with the beggers and come to realize they live in the nearby, recently labeled, Beggerwood. These poor souls are the various residents of the county driven into poverty by Bartelby's mismanagement of the county, turned to begging and selling what they can simply to survive. Eventually you decide it is time to get back to your task at hand and climb back into your carriage.
The befriended beggars bid you fair well, allowing the carriage to roll onward. You pass through the pleasant, pastoral county as the highway winds past rolling hills and pockets of verdant forest. On first glance, you could easily imagine aristocrats taking the Oppara Highway north to vacation in the picturesque region. However, you soon enough witness the decay that Martella has spoken of.
Passing through the fishing village of Pensaris offered a glimpse, but once the highway switchbacks to the northwest and carries you to hardscrabble Stachys, you can see the full extent of the county's disrepair. Swathes of fields lie fallow, and the roads are overgrown. The dwindled population dwells in cottages with bowing walls and sunken roofs. On the edge of the village, the wooden blades of the windmill still lie where they fell apart, the jagged beams looking like broken bones. The few locals who catch your eye offer wary, guarded looks as you pass.
A weed-choked cobblestone road switchbacks along a low hill, leading up to the fine, if faded, estate. Brambles and thick undergrowth crowd the gardens, while ivy creeps up the two-story marble facade. The building's windows are shuttered, and its main doorway is barred and gripped by a great iron padlock, which Valeria has the key from the paperwork Martella gave her. A tower, clearly far older than the main house, rises from the structure.
It is getting late as you arrive and the carriage drops you off the main path leading to the estate. The driver notes he will find an inn in town to rest and return in the morning for you. Valeria conjures her lights so everyone can see as you make your way to the front door. The Jubilee starts in the morning, but at least you are 'home' for tonight and can get yourselves situated to prepare for the days to come.
Map updated. Toby don't forget to join Roll20 and let me know who you are on there so I can give you permission to your token.
Eregos looks over the estate before them, and says, "We'll need to fix this place up a bit. Perhaps there are some people in the Beggarwood we might be able to hire to do so. Making the estate presentable will be important for influencing the aristocracy in the area."
Once they are dropped off, he approaches the windows in front and attempts to look in and see if there are any signs of life in the estate.
Perception: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (19) + 8 = 27
I have low-light vision.
"Hopefully this is no more than an abandoned home, and we may enter and rest peacefully." That being said, he enchants himself as the others prepare to open the door.
Perception (OW): 1d20 + 12 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 12 + 2 = 17
I know she has the key, but I want to examine that padlock anyway, to get an idea of the motivation to lock it and how serious they were about it
Prior to Valeria opening the lock, Piri examines it carefully, trying to get an idea of the environment into which they are being ushered.
Perc: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (20) + 11 = 31
After examining the lock, also with dark vision Piri walks around the structure, looking outside as well as inside, to see who might be watching them.
Perc: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (3) + 11 = 14
darn, wish those rolls were reversed
Eregos moves up and looks through the shuttered windows. He can't make out a lot but he doesn't see any lights inside and all the furniture appears to be covered in cloth. Piri takes a look at the lock and doesn't notice any signs of it being tampered with and it appears pretty secure. He checks the perimeter quickly while the others prepare to enter but doesn't notice anything concerning.
"It looks well deserted, but let me be the first to enter. Hayseed, stay here and whinny if anyone comes from behind us."
Hayseed knows "guard" so he will watch the front door as we go in.
Sir Toby flips down his visor, draws his longsword and sets his shield, taking his place by the front door and ready to be the first to enter.
After looking through the windows, Eregos says, "There doesn't appear to be anyone inside. Lady Valeria, will you unlock the door? I will open it, and Sir William and I will be the first to enter."
Eregos draws out his falcata and checks the straps on his buckler before preparing to open the door with his free hand so he and Toby could enter.
Double doors = double entry. Plus, since my shield is a buckler, I count as having a free hand for opening the doors. Also, Piri, I'm currently in my Eregos identity, not the Hargus identity.
Going to assume Vel unlocks the doors for you all. As a side note, I actually had you at the back of the house, not the front, so assume you entered from the south side instead of the north :P
Vel walks up the short steps leading to the front door, turns the iron key in the lock, and Eregos and Toby make their way inside weapons at the ready. Standing inside waiting for the worst they ease up as nothing immediately comes out to attack. The broad, colonnaded foyer contains a wide fireplace, an old Qadiran rug, and an arm chair and sofa draped in canvas, much like the rest of the furnishings you find inside the estate.
Exploring the manor, you find that it is in remarkable condition despite how long it has been sitting empty. The roof shows no leaks, the interior paint hasn't peeled, and the furnishings are all fairly dust-free, owing to their coverings. Even the fine features adorning the rooms, such as frescoes and statues, remain in good shape. For the most part it is what you would expect from an unused manor until you reach the conservatory on the western side of the manor where you find a vase of roses atop a table that remain in vibrant bloom.
After examining the condition of the building - the walls, roof, floors, and other aspects - you come to the conclusion that someone has been maintaining the manor. However, you aren't sure if the work has been carried out by a caretaker assigned while the estate was in receivership or if Lady Lotheed dispatched agents to prepare the home for your arrival.
A2. Garden porch
A3. Drawing room
A4. Game room
A5. Music room
A9. Dining room
A10. Lower tower
A11. Servants’ quarters
A13. Guest room
A16. Guest room
A20. Upstairs bath
A21. Master suite
A22. Upper tower
A25. Basement storage
A26. Wine cellar
Let me know if you have any plans for the night and who plans to sleep where and then I will move us on to the next day. If there is anything you specifically want to look into at the manor please note that as well.
Well kept, and no ambushes or surprises... His thoughts are stopped as he sees the roses in bloom. Ah. Of course. "It appears someone has been here recently. Let's hope this is a welcoming gift and not an omen."
GM, since this seems like a location we are likely to return to while searching other places, can we get a standalone map of the manor that we can reference when roll20 is being used for other encounters? An intractable map isn't necessary I think, just a layout.
What is with the condition of A21, the master suite? It seems that it would be the room with the nicest bed and whatnot, but it looks to be in complete disarray. Also what is with the overly fancy door in front of it?
Sveng does a quick walk through of the manor, getting quickly familiar with the general layout. When upstairs he claims the third bedroom on the right, the one without any windows. Afterwards he starts slowly walking through the manor, paying very close attention to all the details.
Sveng wants to know this manor. He wants to become an expert in it. Secret doors, hidden stashes, painted over areas, where has the carpet been replaced, everything. He will stay up late if need be and take 20 on searching the entire manor, which gives him a 33 on perception (with the aid of guidance). I would also like to get Piri's health in searching, as an aid bonus can bump me to 35 and he can help identify and make knowledge checks if need be, if that's alright with you Piri.
So, on the map, it does not appear that there is a bed in the Master suite, nor does it appear the two Guest Rooms do. Do they have beds in them?
Looking over the rooms, Eregos says, "We need to make sure we have our roles in this plan set before we go to bed, and we'll need to make sure that if anyone looks, we match what they expect us to be. Now, obviously, Lady Valeria is the mistress of the manor, and she will be the one to sleep in the Master Suite. Sir William is one of her bodyguards. Sveng, Sydney, Piri, what household roles do you wish to assume in this operation?"
"Butler." Sveng says in quick response, examining the corner of a window and scratching it with a thoughtful expression.
"Piri may be interested in being the Lady's personal apothecary. Perhaps we may fabricate a reason why she needs to keep one on staff, but nothing suspicious that would create a scandal."
"A court mage would be well above her station, so unfortunately Sydney cannot serve in that regard without raising eyebrows. I would say...House Steward. You could appropriately handle all the money moving through our operation, and you would not be considered a servant but a hired professional."
"Eregos...first footman I would think. I believe that one position would suffice, yes?"
"Suggestions, mind you, I am open to other ideas."
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (10) + 8 = 18
Eregos picks up on Sveng's suggestion, and says, "Yes, one position should suffice. I should imagine that there will be no need for another, even if someone else came by."
"Piri, do you have any cooking ability? It occurs to me we will need a cook, and Lady Valeria will need a lady's maid."
After confirming the house it safe enough, Toby brings Hayseed over to the ramshackle stables. "Ok, this is your house, old boy. It...could use some work, I admit. Stop looking at me like that! I'll clean it up, I will. You stay here and nose around for some grass."
Toby takes off Hayseed's bridle and saddle and leaves the horse to wander the grounds, while he heads back to the manor.
Dropping his gear into a spare closet, Toby inspects the area and decides to sleep in the drawing room right by the front door so he can properly watch any one approaching the house or listen for disturbances at night.
Piri will aid Sveng in his perception, knowledge checks etc. "I would like to suggest checking the roses for magic, please".
I would be happy to sleep in the A19 that is between A17 and A21, to the nw of the bathtub, one window.
Perc to aid: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (1) + 11 = 12
"Court mage? Really..." Sydney thinks this whole charade is beneath him, but he plays along anyway. "I'll go check the wine cellar inventory, and note it in 'my books'."
As everyone starts to settle for the night, Sydney takes one of the better bottles of wine he found and retires to the tower (A22), which he finds most to his liking.
"I might agree with Sveng's suggestion of being the ladies Apothecary, a very easy part to pull of, but I also would be happy to prepare meals, though I lack training in the area, and might give away our ruse should anyone taste the food."
"Remember that it would be much simpler for you all to be useless nobles along for the ride with 'cousin Valeria'... after all, it would not be out of sorts for a lady taking ownership of an estate to have friends and relatives along for the ride... the large gaggle of nobles would explain why we EACH took 8 servants along, after all... This is merely a suggestion, and I am more than happy to try the house servant approach if you prefer... however... it would make for strange moments when some of you interrupt me during conversation with other nobles. Noble cousins or noble friends would not raise suspicion when speaking out of turn: it is what they do."
After weighing in, Valeria instructs four of her maids to follow her upstairs to start working on the Master Suite and to lay out her outfit for the morning. She dismisses the other four for the night so that they go down to the village to gather groceries for the morning, and tells them to find lodgings there, and book several rooms for them and the other servants the party brought with them from Oppara. [color=crimson]"Try to work a deal with the innkeep, as I feel we'll be here a while based on the state of the houses nearby... see what kind of shape their general store is in, and inquire how we could bring supplies to the village faster..."[/color]
"Grand idea, m'Lady. I agree I can easily play the quietly brooding noble.
After studying the house with Sveng, Piri goes to his room, and studies it in depth, looking for secret caches, or alternative points of egress. Then he unpacks his things, lightening his load.
Eregos thinks a moment, then says, "Actually, that is a much better idea than us assuming the role of household servants. Well thought out, Valeria. It allows us to be able to speak and influence those we need to influence. Very well; I shall assume the alias of Sir Kalenos Seldry, the Lady's foppish cousin on the other side of the family."
Sydney, A22 isn't a bedroom, just a landing with stairs in it. A19, however, is a tower bedroom, and it's just off the library to boot. Piri, there's another bedroom off the library next to the master suite, if you want one off the library.
Eregos claimed the bedroom next to Sveng, on the corner with multiple windows. It would give him a good view of the approach to the manor, and would allow him to sneak out.
Just before she finally goes to bed, Valeria summons one of the four remaining maids attending her from a room nearby. [color=crimson]"Rigella, find the coachman wherever he is staying down in the village of Stachys down the hill, and help him figure out how long of a ride it is to the Palace of Birdsong. We cannot arrive late, but to be there too early would be equally awkward. Depending on the distance, this may be a very short night for us all here. As soon as you're done, you may spend the rest of the night in Stachys with the others. Before you leave, send in Gasten. I will need someone to watch the hallway throughout the night. Thank you!"[/color]
When Gasten finally reports and knocks twice on Valeria's door, she tells him to come in. He does not come out until very early the next morning.
Rigella and Gasten are two of her eight agents. Gasten is the night watchman, and will usually spend the night in the master suite for protection and to raise any alarm, and also to satisfy the need of one of Valeria's traits. Whoever has leadership over the estate's Butler should also perhaps establish an 'Acting Butler' to watch the main hall and front door downstairs after hours at night. Someone else with expertise in scouting may also want a scout or two patrolling the grounds, and perhaps also a rider to patrol the road between Stachys and the Betony Estate. This way we get advanced warning when visitors show up to the village.
"Each our own people, fair enough. Leave the servant work to actual hired servants. That will be less complicated."
GM, did Sveng find anything out about the manor from an in-depth search?
1d100 ⇒ 89
As everyone starts to settle in at the estate Piri and Sveng go to work thoroughly checking room from room. Everything seems pretty normal until they reach the basement. On the wall northeast wall of the cellar, near the well, they find a secret door. Hidden behind a stack of old chests and casks, and disguised among the cool, gray stones, they find a secret door fitted into the wall. However, they cannot find any sort of latch, switch, or handle with which to open it. They do notice a very narrow fissure - akin to a mouse hole - leading down into the stone and earth, perhaps into the hidden room beyond. It is wide enough to allow rats or similarly sized critters to pass. However, there is no trace of droppings that would suggest the presence of vermin in the house.
"Now that is strange, no foolin'. Okay, I don't know you folks very well yet, so I don't want to step on any toes, but one of you magic types must be able to turn into a frog or something. This thing is going to bug me until we can figure it out. Don't want a snake burstin out on us in the middle of the night."
"Her family is well known for their spellcasters, and one of the common occurrences with spellcasters if intelligent familiars. I would venture to guess that they would send their familiar down this hole to open and close the secret door."
Sveng reaches for his spell component pouch. "I don't believe even Sydney is quite powerful enough for shapeshifting of that caliber. I could summon some rats from the ether, but they are simple creatures and I have no way to communicate with them. A complex task like this would likely be beyond them."
"Sydney, could your familiar manage to get down there and investigate this?"
I remember Sydney has a familiar, although not what.
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Sydney has a "pet" bird, a black thrush, named Iznagitur.
I am not sure if he can fit in that hole or not, but we can try a few things.
"Hmm... bird in a rat hole? Not sure he would like that. But give me a little time, and I can prepare something."
I left most of my spell slots open, so can prepare a detect secret doors and cast is to see if that provides any options. If nothing is revealed, then will cast a summon moster to summon a snake to send in the hole and see what happens.
We know there is a secret door, what we don't know is how to open it. I have a hypothesis that it's down this hole and is typically accessed by a familiar. I don't think a summon would be helpful since they're low intelligence and can't typically be communicated with.
Sure, but thought maybe the spell might reveal a bit more about how to open it and the summon is to make sure something doesn’t eat or otherwise destroy my familiar before letting it try. My thrush is not disposable, but if after we do what we can to make sure it is safe, he might be willing to go in.
I mean go for it, we have nothing to lose by sending a summons down, but anything small enough to fit at this level also isn't intelligent enough to communicate to us without the aid of magic.
Sydney casts his spells and sends a snake into the hole. As long as the snake doesn't get attacked or scare up anything weird, then once it dissipates, he asks Iznagitur to take a look.
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"Well, not sure what that was, but it doesn't sound safe for a bird."
"Could we just cut a hole in the door?"
Could an unseen servant be instructed to open the door from the other side (assuming that is possible)? If so, then Sydney casts that next.
"Oh my! your snake is scaring off a little kitty cat on the other side I think! drop your snake Sydney!"
Valeria immediately regrets the words that just came out of her mouth... it sounded... wrong, out loud...
Valeria then proceeds to make little friendly sounds that a house pet would be attacted to, adding "Come here, kitty kitty! don't be shy! come here kitty kitty! we'll get you some milk if you're a good little kitty! bet you've been keeping this house clear of mice all this time yes?"
Cat... diplomacy?: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (12) + 15 = 27