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Okay, let's split the party (briefly!).

I think Veig can Patrol the Wild with Hartguard, our new Warrior.

Radegund, we'll do your arrival and... this and that.

Faem, what would you like to do?


Well, we're down to four PCs -- the two Woodmen, the dwarf and the halfling. But the game has slowed down quite a bit in the last month. So rather than recruit someone else, maybe let's move on.

I'm not seeing a huge amount of interest in the Fellowship Phase -- it seems like nobody has a strong idea of something they want to do beyond 'talk to Radagast'. True? So, maybe move on to the next thing?


Hartguard the Hammer wrote:
Sorry for the delays in getting my character together. I was considering going with Oathsworn for a background but didn't feel I had enough knowledge to make that work and didn't want to delay things more. I need to play around with the layout of my alias but please look over my character and let me know if I need to make any changes or have missed anything.

Pausing here to welcome Hartguard. Background and character setup look OK to me. (Are you the only Doomed to Die PC now?)

Now, Radagast seems to be still missing, so the consensus (?) seems to be to go talk to the local leadership. Yes?


Lost a couple of days, sorry.

Council of Elders, hm? Sure, we can do that...


Radegund, The Magpie wrote:
Tolkienverse question: in universe, is there much "thank the Gods" or praying to deities for aid? I feel like there isn't, but some of yall have *much* deeper lore than I do.

There's nothing like that as far as I know... anyone?

Quote:
do you think we'll mostly use Rhosgobel as a thin backdrop for the important stuff that happens away from here? Or do you want to develop it? I'll follow your lead, but my vote is to develop it some, and flesh out a few key NPCs (maybe family members of Radegunds, maybe town elders). If we're going to, now seems like the time (probably starting with interacting with folks about our odd arrival).

No, we can expand Rhosgobel a bit. Hold that thought.


1d20 - 1 ⇒ (10) - 1 = 9

Beran frowns a little at the question, but answers somberly. "Nothing. In fact, they stripped me of my pack and weapons."


Faem wrote:
Dagmar called him a thief. What did he supposedly steal?

"Nothing. In fact, they stripped me of my pack and my weapons."


Okay, so:

1) Questions for Beran -- keeping in mind that he's still convalescing, and also a guest in your house; or,

2) Backfilling / other; or,

3) Move on to the Fellowship phase?


"And so I was taken by the Spiders. And I thought that was the end, until you came." He looks at each of you, in turn. "You have my thanks. And my troth: if ever I can help any of you, no matter how great or small the matter, I shall. So I swear."


Beran's hands are trembling quite visibly now.

"I heard... music. That seems mad, I know. Music in the Wood? But I heard it. And then it seemed that... that I did not walk alone." He looks up at you, and his eyes are filled with dread. "Master Elf, I cannot describe it. It was not like the mazing of the reeks. It was as if... some other will, not my own, bent my steps away from the paths I knew." He shakes his head. "When the Spiders came, it was almost a relief. I had no weapon, but I could pick up a stick, and try to fight!"


"I did not know them, but Woodmen they were. And at first they seemed friendly enough. But when I told them what I had seen, their manner changed. Dagmar, their leader, said that I should come with them to Amon Bauglir, to tell my tale to her master, Lord Mogdred. When I refused, they beat, seized and bound me, and carried me with them.

"Two days we traveled north through the Wood, almost to Tyrant's Hill. Two days I worked on my bonds, quietly and carefully. And then, at a moment's distraction, I slipped the rope and fled.

"They pursued! But I have walked the Wood for thirty years, man and boy. No living Man knows its ways better. I eluded them.

"But then..."


"The reeks have begun to rise again, around Fenbridge."

Everyone knows of the reeks. Thick fogs, that rose out of the bogs around Dol Guldur. But more than just mists. There is a malice in them, a dark will that blinds and confuses, so that even the most most experienced woods-runner will find herself turning in circles, stumbling into bogs, gasping into madness... or worse yet, emerging from the reeks to see the pale towers of Dol Guldur, too close, too close.

"I avoided the worst of the reek, but it left me lost and wandering. And then I heard the voices of Men in the forest... Woodmen, my own folk!"


We should have our Woodman Warrior joining us shortly.


All Woodmen know of Fenbridge Keep: the northern outpost of Dol Guldur. The evil stronghold is surrounded on three sides by impenetrable bogs; only from the north could a force of any size approach it. And so the north was guarded by Fenbridge Keep.

"Five years has the Keep stood empty -- five years since the Necromancer fled. Then Ingomer Axebreaker led five hundred fighters to Fenbridge Keep, Woodmen and Leofrings and even some of the followers of Beorn. And the goblins fled at the first assault. And we freed the slaves that were held in that place, and burned everything that would burn, and tore as many stones down as we could. And that was a day's work well done." All Woodmen know this story, too. Everyone has a family member who took part in the Scouring of Fenbridge.

"Five years has the Keep stood empty -- It is empty no more. There I saw Forest Goblins -- dozens of them, at least a hundred. They have returned, and they are rebuilding the Keep.

"And they are not alone. Goblins of a different sort I saw as well -- great fighting Orcs in black armor, with keen weapons. And a great beast moved among them by night, a thing of troll-sort perhaps, though I could not see it well.

"But that was not the worst. On the third day of my watch, a party of Men came to Fenbridge, let by a great broad-shouldered man in red and green. They held parley with the Orcs, and then reached some agreement and departed.

"So then did I leave too, to make my way carefully home and report what I had seen. And then..."


"The Forest Beneath The Shadow is as terrible as they say." Beran's voice is calm and slow, but there is a shadow on his eyes; and on the coverlet, his pale hands tremble just a little.

"Darkness has dwelt for too long in Southern Mirkwood, and the whole forest carries its taint. Black firs grow tangled and twisted, their branches laden down with strands of old man’s beard and black ivy. The murk is darker here, so that no light penetrates the leaves, and one stumbles half blind even on the brightest days. The ground underfoot might be a sucking bog, or shards of broken stone, or choked in thorns. Many of the trees themselves are dead, strangled by the poisons in the soil. The few beasts are venomous, or mad, or cunning as no beast should be. And whatever does grow... grows wrong.

"Still, it was to the bounds of Dol Guldur that I was sworn to go. For there were rumors of strange comings and goings, and of the sound of voices and footsteps where there had been only silence and the calls of beasts.

"And so I came most quietly to Fenbridge Keep."


Beran's eyes widen... dum de dum dum, just rolling a die here... 1d20 ⇒ 12 ...and he sits up straighter. "Sir... you are not an elf of the Woodland Realm!"

1d20 ⇒ 19 Huh. "Well, Sir Elf... in truth, yes. This matter lies close to Dol Guldur..."

More tomorrow.


Oh man, glad you are back and okay!

Okay, should have a respectably large post or posts up tomorrow.


Clan Lampbearer are from up north -- around Wuduseld, Woodmen Hall, at the northern end of the Woodmen-realm.

Beran takes the tea with a grateful murmur. Then, "I was traveling deep in the Wood. 'From forest's dark heart to Elven-King's throne, he travels the fastest who travels alone'. But so I had no friend at hand when I stumbled into the web of the Spiders. Well it was for me that you found me." He nods solemnly. "You have my thanks, Magpie. Yes, and your friends too."

You definitely have the feeling that much is being left unsaid here. On the other hand, is it good manners to press a guest, and an injured guest at that?


You have a negative persuasion modifier? -- Hm: does this party even have a Face character?


Oh dear. Even people who are not in at-risk groups can be hit hard by it -- I know of a thirtyish guy who was knocked flat for a week and is still shaky.

Fingers crossed that he's okay!


Radegund, The Magpie wrote:


It sounds like we're going to skip RPing arriving back in Rhosgobel. Is that correct? Is it safe to assume I just brought everyone home to my place, and gave them a place to lay out their bedroll?

Correct. You're in a safe place -- probably your parent's place -- near Rhosgobel.

Quote:
I'm curious if my parents/brother/grandfather have any reaction to any of this (being lost in the Mirkwood all night with the Elf and the goshawk? bringing home a dwarf and a hobbit?) It seems likely that--if we didn't interact with anyone the night they got back--the first interaction they'd have would be with family members waking them in the morning...but that's up to the DM.

Yes, they do. You're the sort of young person who's often out late on some private errand, and since you're generally responsible they don't get too upset. This is a bit different, though -- it's nearly dawn and you've shown up with a wounded man and three very odd strangers.

If you have a moment, refresh my memory with a quick summary of your family? We worked out some of these details already upthread, but I think it's scattered around, and you may want to add stuff now.


Veig Fairmane wrote:
"Man, who are you? Do you know where Radagast is?"

The man blinks at you, confused. Let's give Veig a Charisma check!

1d20 ⇒ 3

His expression becomes wary. "I am Beran, of the clan Lampbearer. I... believe you helped me? If so, you have my thanks." His gratitude seems sincere, but his manner is guarded.


Faem wrote:
As Faem has continuously been confused for and treated like a child by her own human companions, she takes advantage of this automatic disguise while in Rhosgobel so that the larger folk pay her no heed, except perhaps to give her a bit of food off the stand should she approach with a practiced smile and a hand out.

Hobbit only look like children to a casual glance. On closer acquaintance, they're obviously something quite different. An experienced hobbit could probably disguise herself as a child, but I'm not sure that would be part of your skill set.

Quote:
If any question her identity, she runs away laughing and hiding.

This will work for a while, but in the long run it will make the Woodmen suspicious of you.

Quote:
Faem may attempt to listen in on conversations between groups of woodmen, learning of the Wood and the dangers within. At all times she looks for word of Radagast and attempts to make his acquaintance.

Mmkay, noted.

1d20 ⇒ 19


Just distracted, not infected. More shortly!

Looks like we have a replacement player -- probably a Warrior of the Woodmen.


Sorry, lost a couple of days -- the country that I'm in has just dramatically increased its lockdown, and we're scrambling to respond. Will have multiple posts up tomorrow.


Meanwhile: short of actual Fellowship activities, there are things you can do now! Talk to the injured man, talk to Woodmen in general, ask questions (within reason).

The three strangers are going to attract attention, though for different reasons.

-- Finraeth: this is a little tricky. Wood-elves are well known to the Woodmen, and they are generally FRIENDLY. However, nobody has seen a Rivendell-Elf before. I'd say your culture is UNKNOWN. So people will be cautiously friendly and a bit confused by you.

-- Veig: Woodmen are NEUTRAL towards dwarves, of Erebor or anywhere else. They know about dwarves and won't find you strange or exotic. They have a fairly standard view of dwarves: good fighters, shrewd merchants, greedy, keep to themselves. You won't be welcomed with open arms but you won't be viewed askance either. People may wonder why you're here.

-- Faem: Hobbits are UNKNOWN to the Woodmen. The halflings of the Gladden Fields are shy and reclusive; a few folk of the river Anduin have trade-dealings with them, but very few, and anyway the Woodmen don't spend much time around the great River. So people will have no idea what to make of you.


Finraeth wrote:


No idea what - if anything - Finraeth would know about such things. Does Middle-Earth even have water sprites and suchlike?

Tom Bombadil was married to one!


-- Whoops, we just lost our healer.

There was a player who was interested back in January; let's see if he's still around.


There is some stuff we can do before jumping into Fellowship, yes.


Faem:

1) Take a point of Shadow.

2) Let me know under what circumstances you might take it out ("never!" is an acceptable answer) and/or whether you want to do anything with it ("no, I just want to keep it" is fine too).


Faem wrote:
As soon as Faem finds a private moment, she takes out the ring she found and examines it carefully.

Ring? What ring?

Faem only, honor system, come on don't make me use PMs:
It's not a ring. It's a pendant.

The chain is gold, and very finely made. The pendant itself is a stone in a golden setting. The gold alone is valuable, and the work makes it much more so. Some cunning hand has wrought the massy gold into a shape of simple beauty. Yes, the setting alone is a thing of great beauty and craft.

But the stone...

At first it looks black. But when you stare at it for a moment, you realize it's really green. A very dark green, with darker veins running through it. And if you look more closely, there's a hint of a red gleam at the center, like the night-glow of a banked fire.

It is absolutely gorgeous and utterly fascinating.


A bit later, at Amalina's

The injured man is coming around at last. Now that you have a chance to examine him...

DC 12 Medicine check:
The Spider venom was keeping him unconscious, but that's far from all of his injuries. He has marks of a beating, several days old, and there are rope burns around his wrists.

...his eyelids flutter open.

"Ra... ruh. Rrr.

"Radagast."


If you can make a DC 15 Perception followed by a DC 10 Intelligence (Riddle) check...

Here's a question:

The painter on the boat is intact, not torn or cut.

How'd it come to be bumping along on the wrong side of the river in the middle of the night?


I'm taking a few moments to compile Fellowship Activities from the splatbooks, in addition to the standard options given in the Players Guide. Here's what I've got:

Rhovanion Guide

Compete on the Field of Heroes (Woodmen only) -- Sporting competition that can win you fame and a little money

Go Hunting with the Woodmen -- Gives a random result ranging from nothing to real benefits, plus a little fame

Choose Radagast as a Patron -- Not available yet!

Mirkwood Campaign Book

Tend to Holding -- Let's discuss the Holding rules.

Search for Answers -- Spend time researching and trying to solve a mystery.

Drum up Support -- Participate in Woodmen politics!

Patrol the Wild -- Just what it sounds like; you go as part of a semi-formal Woodmen patrol, working the Bounds.


Okay so: who is reasonably familiar with the Fellowship Phase rules -- either through having played through them before, or by having stared at them hard and thought about them?


No, I've just been distracted this week shifting my project to work-from home. Sorry for the radio silence. Post coming soon.


Assuming the answer to the last question is "yes": what's working for y'all so far, and what if anything isn't? Suggestions, comments, course corrections?


Okay, so pause a moment and take a step back. Do we all want to continue?

I've had issues with completing scenarios in the past. Interest waxes and wanes; some days you're revved up and ready to go, then there are days at a time where you're meh on the whole project. I think I'm finding that the best way to proceed (for me) is to break things into "arcs" -- longer than a single encounter, but shorter than a module or even a PFS scenario.

TBC, I'm willing to go on to the next arc. Are you guys?


Finraeth wrote:


As for Fellowship actions: presumably, our first act should be to open Rhosgobel as a Sanctuary - if it isn't one already for us?

It isn't one yet.


Did not level up yet. Come on, a few Spiders? Bilbo didn't level up until he took out three trolls.


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...nothing happens. You make your way across the river and back to safety.

CONGRATULATIONS ON SURVIVING THE FIRST ARC

IT'S NOW

FELLOWSHIP PHASE!


Finraeth wrote:


Keen are the eyes of Elves

Finraeth only:

By starlight, you can make out a faint pale form in the water -- the size of an elf or a Man.

Something lifts above the surface -- a limb? Curving, graceful --

1d20 ⇒ 19

SPLAT

A large clump of wet, muddy green bottom-weed hits Finraeth in the face. No damage, but you're blinded for one round.

There is a low ripple of laughter and a splash.

And then...


Everyone but Veig lunges after the boat, shouting and snatching. Miss, miss, pratfall into the water, it slips through your hands... Amalina has it! She's wet to the waist, but she manages to grab the boat's intact painter.

Out from the shore, there's just a bit of starlight. Everyone who went after the boat (which I guess is everyone bug Veig) make a Perception check.


You can pass Inspiration to another player, of course. Nobody has any left?

Well, the boat is slipping away.


Radegund, The Magpie wrote:

...and Finraeth's is spent too (or else he wouldn't have just asked if anyone had any).

Methinks Middle Earth is a Troubled Place, and inspiration may be hard to come by...

Oh, no. The good news is, I'm going to hand out Inspiration pretty liberally.


Well then...

...there's a small wooden rowboat bumping along the shore, of the sort that Woodmen use to go fishing in the river. It's built for two; three could fit in a pinch.

It looks empty. The painter dangles behind it in the water.

Your delay by the fire means that it has almost passed by you, so you'll need to move quickly if you're going to get it before it drifts back out into the current: Dex check to grab it, or Acrobatics if you simply want to make a running jump into it.


Faem wrote:
Got it, a boat being dragged onshore. I don't see a reason to run from that - yet.

Wait, you're native to the banks of a river.

Okay, yes: that's exactly what it sounds like. Or almost exactly. It actually sounds like an /empty/ boat, drifting and bumping its way down the bank.


It's a sort of... wooden sound. Wooden, yet... hollow.


Soft sounds in the darkness, just audible over the faint murmur of the river.

bump

scrape

bump

scraaaaape

It's coming from upstream, but moving downstream, along the water's edge, towards you.


Okay, so we have One With The Forest (not moving), Keen Halfling Senses (not moving), and I Don't Feel So Great Actually (not moving).

So everyone's staying inside the little circle of firelight, then?

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