You advance through the woods a couple hundred paces you see a fight in a clearing, 4, now 3 as one drops after being clawed, cloaked figures around a large bear. The bear is clearly hurt as blood flows down it's flank.
You are currently about 100ft from the fight, the woodline ends 80ft in front of you. There is a cave on the far side of the clearing.
The tracks are very similar to those you found around the attacked caravan. As you look around more carefully, you see that their night watch was clearly positioned to watch the track coming up from the village. The site was used for at least 2 nights by 4 or more individuals. There is a trail with day old tracks that heads mostly south and a bit west. The most recent tracks head north in parallel with the existing main trail.
Vacation over, hopefully posting back to normal.
"I have never heard of Elf bandits threatening travelers in such groups. your friends are right that elves are not common bandits and often have better woodcraft than elves.
"As for other threats, the orcs are the biggest organized threat but wild animals are a big threat as well."
"Welcome Imperials, we don't get many of your kind up here. mostly local brew on tap. We made some bread yesterday and there is some stew if you wish. 2 Silvers for a room and 1 silver for a drink and supper. It is warm by the fire if our weather is not to your taste. Varin, you have more friends than usual, got some extra special cargo this time?"[/b]
"No Marcus, these travelers helped us out of an awkward situation with some rather uppity elf bandits. Seemed like some kind of cultists."
Once you burn the bodies you continue north with the survivors of the caravan.
You arrive at a small village about an hour before dark. The village has a high wooden palisade with towers at each cardinal point. There is only one gate into the village and the wall is set up so that anyone approaching has to walk straight towards the south tower for at least 50 ft with no cover. You see half a dozen orc heads in various states of decay on stakes leading to the gate.
The merchant claims to have contacts in the village and suggests you spend the night here.
The cartographer talks to the bandits again at one point one of the bandits spits on the ground.
"Sir, they say that all were aware of the risks and that soon all openworlders will kneel before the Matriarchs and accept enlightenment. They also made some disparaging comments about your ancestry which I feel no need to directly translate."
the cartographer speaks Elven and tries conversing with the bandits.
"Sir I can barely understand them, I think they speak an obscure dialect of Elven. They didn't seem to want to cooperate, they called me a filthy openworlder and said that "the enlightenment" was coming for us all. I feel like I am missing the nuance to much of what they are trying to say."
Artemis Juno wrote:
Artemis walked over to the group and looked to their group while Ulmarr was dealing with the bandits. "Did anything happen while we where gone?" She asked.
"Nothing of note."
I have no issues if people don't want to pull on side plot threads. But this is a living world, so not doing things have impacts just like doing things.
Your further investigation of the amulets reveals little, they use some kind of teleportation magic but that is all you can discern.
"There are old caves in the hills to the west, I would start there."
By the time you get back to the wagon and the rest of your party the two wounded bandits are stirring.
Both the surviving bandits have an amulet that gives off a faint conjuration aura. Otherwise their gear is very new and uniform for bandits, they each had a rapier, 2 daggers, another 14 bolts for their hand crossbows and a waterskin.
"These bandits attacked us from the treeline, we fled when it was clear they were going to win the fight. They chased us and I guess decided to take us alive for some reason. Presumably they were going to take us to a camp or hideout nearby."
The first "Velf" collapses as Ulmarr's blow breaks their neck, strangely the body and equipment has disappeared before it hits the ground.
The second "Velf" falls to a slash from Izússavar's savage weapon. He is alive but clearly out of the fight.
The surviving bandit advances to flank Artemis with the leader.
Bandit 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22 damage 1d6 ⇒ 2
After the bandit attacks, the leader steps back dropping his bow and drawing a short sword. He is clearly ready to slash the first one to close with him.
As you approach the clearing you can see that there are 4 bandits, wearing black cloaks. The 2 humans you are looking for both appear wounded and secured. Just before the bandits notice you, you hear 2 of them talking in an elven dialect.
your pair needs to take these prisoners back to the assembly point, we will secure the wagon.
The bandits detect you when you are about 40ft from the edge of the clearing. The bandits are about 20ft into the clearing.
The 3 bandits other than the leader each move forward 30ft and unload their hand crossbows at you. Each targets 1 of you.
At Ulmarr 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
Ulmarr takes 1d4 ⇒ 2 damage and needs to make a DC13 fort save.
The leader takes a shot with his shortbow at Aremis 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12
The remainder of your party stays on the track to guard your animals with your supplies.
As you head into the woods you can follow the path the others have taken quite easily and about half a mile in see a larger pool of blood and a bloody arrow. As you keep advancing you see a small clearing about 100ft away, there appears to be movement.
Artemis Juno wrote:
"This is a body there." Artemis said as she pointed to the fallen man. "But I am unsure if it is either of your friends." She honestly told him. "What did they look like?"
"That is Harlug, I saw him fall in the fight. There was no need to ask about him. Ulrik is armoured like me, and has a warhammer, Varin has leather armour and a small crossbow. Ulrik is tall, broad of shoulder and has dark hair. Varin is round with a mop of blond hair."
You detect no magic while looking.
It is unclear if this attack was orcs or other uncivilized humanoids, it could just as easily be on of the human tribes of the area. Regardless they didn't leave any weapons or wounded behind.
It is clear at this point that the guard against the wagon is still alive, though unconscious and likely to die without medical attention.
Better late than never
Trey'Tos didn't need justification to harm someone, but the coin he had been paid and the tale of shady business practices didn't hurt. He had waited until after dark, after all walking the streets with a large axe tends to draw attention he didn't need.
When the time came he kicked the door in, axe already in hand, it probably wasn't locked yet but he wanted to make a point. as he entered the room the moneylender started to get up. "Ulrik said to say hello, " Trey'Tos said as he swung his axe the first time, the blow opening up a cut along the man's torso. He heard screaming as he swung the axe around again. He buried the axe in the man's skull on the second swing. He was still trying to dislodge it when the watchmen arrived.
As you keep heading north the trail becomes more established and several side trails feed into it. About an hour after you stop for lunch you crest a hill and see clear signs that a merchant was attacked. A wagon is tipped over on the side of the track, a dead donkey is still attached to the wagon tangled up in it's tackle. A mercenary or guard is face down in a small pool of blood, another is in a half sitting position against the wagon. He clearly dragged himself several feet to get there and an arrow is buried in his gut. A heavy mace is still gasped in the dead man's hand a shield dropped beside him, a heavy crossbow lies beside the other guard clearly having slipped from his hands, a short sword is stabbed into the ground within reach. Two lines of blood drops head west into the woodline and several other paths have been broken through the undergrowth and branches.
Trey'Tos stands a little over 4ft tall, and looks slightly on the small side for a dwarf. His short frame is layered in slabs of muscle. His black hair is cut short but his beard is kept long and well maintained. He has a tattoo on his upper right chest, at first glance it appears to be a birthmark as the runic text is so small and dense.
He wears practical clothes of dark, earthy tones.
Trey'Tos defaults to brooding and perceives slights where none were intended. His anger and rage issues are apparent to anyone who spends time with him. Like many of his kindred he is a borderline alcoholic. He craves power and respect that believes he deserves. He respects only those who can maintain their position through their ability having little time for those who use politics or money to maintain their power.
I know I still need to cover his crime but I don't have the time right now. I should have it done tomorrow.
What if the other options also had restrictions and codes, and abilities thematic to their alignment/ god/ code? Even different names. I don't think most people want other divine warrior options to simply be alignment-less Paladins.
I maintain that any class in the core book should not be restricted to a single alignment.
That being said, almost everything about this seems like an improvement over the existing way Paladins are handled. Giving the code an order of priority will reduce the likelyhood of no win situations where regardless of choice the Paladin falls. Having god specific rules is also good.
The orc tracks look 3-4 days old, with several sets of tracks older still. The orcs clearly come here frequently.
The two guards climb onto the roof of one of the more intact buildings, giving them a clear view of the area. Gear is pulled from the pack animals and the tents are set up.
"Are we to set up a fire tonight?" One of the other guards asks.
Ulmarr Perception: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (17) + 10 = 27
Artemis Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (20) + 3 = 23
As you approach you the ruins all three of you notice clear signs of orc activity. It is clear that they don't stay here all the time, but they frequently stay here.
All 4 of the guards have their shields and spears out looking nervously around. The other 3 members of the caravan all have light crossbows ready.