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Quest against the Darkmaster (PbP)

Before others confront Olwen, does anything more come of questions to Master Ambrosius' concerning questions about the King's Court and whether it is wise to raise the Darkmaster?  Leofred will, if necessary, clarify that other than permitting Olwen to "take the gentleman's path" (suicide) to avoid family dishonour to motivate him to be informative about his connections and what he knows of the Darkmaster (e.g., who was telling him to look into star charts, where was he taking the information), he sees the only proper course is to turn the matter over to the court.  If Olwen has nothing useful to offer, he sees no reason to offer any mercy to one so unrepentant and treacherous.  Bandits on the road are hanged on the spot for less than this man who has been given every benefit for years by Master Ambrosius and it's only that we are within the bounds of a city that has kept him alive this long.

These are tough questions for the GM. I’m liable to leave this in the hands of the PCs, both the worldbuilding regarding the feudal courts and the requisite penalties for various crimes. I will say, though, that Ambrosius prefers clemency:

”Olwen has been useful to me, in his way, and may vindicate himself before this is over. Since he likely has been in communication with the Darkmaster, he may have information that would be precious to us. He may be an asset, a pawn on our game board, though it is hard to think of him in such a way. My own counsel, as surprising and as difficult as it may appear, would be to bring him with us, as a companion, prisoner or hostage to Elvendale, where I imagine the folk have more effective and humane ways of treating with malefactors.”

Regarding the hammer of dwarf legend, "The Darkmaster doubtless would find use for this hammer, and may be preparing with captive dwarf smiths and stolen weapons that may require re-forging before they are of use to his servants.  If your search was directed by Olwen it was doubtless for the Darkmaster - he must be in communication with other agents somehow.  This makes preventing him sharing any further information doubly vital. If the site of the hammer's return could be calculated, would it be best to retrieve it before the Darkmaster could?  Is this the advice you would have seen given to the Elves or now give them if you are able to travel?"

Precisely.

Unless something else emerges, we are going to Olwen with either "the offer of an honourable exit and family cared for if you reveal everything now to our satisfaction" or simply "on your feet, we're off to turn you over for trial swearing out capital charges, stop whining, save it for the judge".

If Ambrosius’s attitude doesn’t sway you, either/or is fine with me. Ambrosius will testify, as you have indicated.

[OOC, Ambrosius the High Man Sage (non-spellcasting lore) character?]

Yeah, I think this is how I’ve conceived him, but I haven’t ruled out knowing a few Spell Lores.

Leofred (this being for him alone in fellowship at this point) endorses the plan of taking Olwen with them.  In some ways this has the best outcome as even a trial might reveal that he was discovered.  Master Ambrosius appears to plan to come along too, so 'in character'.

Leofred says, "Your counsel is wise and I agree, we take him to the elves.  As he is your apprentice I feel we are justified in enforcing your decision.  He may agree as an alternative to trial for capital offences. 

Can you make arrangements to keep the library, in particular the more sensitive parts of your collection, secure during your absence? I suggest we keep our plans from becoming known widely.  

Are you sufficiently recovered or should we be seeking Gertrun to accompany us as well?

The innkeeper of the Midnight Oil across the way should be told not to reveal that meals are not coming anymore [looking at the coins] there are evident funds available to pay him as if they were, we can also purchase provisions for the trip from the inn. I will arrange for horses, if you can furnish the coin, and ask my order that Gwenhild accompany me as I take a message north - relaying truthfully that she has already proven useful in defending against an attack."

  • As much time as possible before we go, parting company or not, for Gertrun to examine the works found in Olwen's room to make a full assessment of them.  Both Ambrosius and Gertrun should consider how Olwen would have summoned or obtained the summoning of the gnome - as until we know that we don't know for certain we can stop it happening again.

If this is agreed, the matter is put to Olwen, "We are inclined to spare your life and not see you charged with crimes likely to result in your execution, taking you with us as we return north though you will remain a prisoner until we reach the Elvendale at which time more will be known of all that is afoot and a decision made concerning your ultimate fate.  Is that sufficient to loosen your tongue?  You will have that time to contemplate your own best course and where your loyalties should lie."

[OOC, re courts - sure, I would likely refer to my Liber Fanatica Warhammer rules for trials as inspiration (in short any trial is a sort of contested action with defense with bonuses etc. for evidence or other factors such as prejudices and chance for unexpected outcomes).  Per above post "theft" would be an example of a crime addressed through restoring property directly or through indentured labour, only inveterate 'professional thieves' or those who use violence might be banished, "murder" is likely execution or banishing depending on how justified/premeditated etc. "Murder by poison" (in modern terms this shows premeditation) would be face execution though in all cases of crimes between people if the family/injured party withdraws complaint (e.g., is paid enough) the case goes away. "Black magic" would be a "King's Peace" crime, a holdover from the ancient war with the Darkmaster where it's classed as "aiding the enemy' treason etc. meaning the case only goes away if the King's officials decide it should.  Anyone who is part of Royal Family or extended agents thereof cannot be the subject of a case without leave of the Court (your leg was broken when the Queen's Carriage ran over you, sorry unlikely to get a remedy except by the Queen's beneficence)].  Common execution is by hanging, nobles have the right to be beheaded (it's quicker).]

[As always let me know anything I can do to contribute'.  Ambrosius could a Sage character p.263 with 'common spell' potential.]

Let’s try to bullet this.

  • Ambrosius and Olwen (he sullenly agrees) will accompany Leofred, Gyantwaka and Gwenhild to Elvendale, Olwen under guard.
  • Ambrosius makes arrangements regarding the security of the library. (Hand waved. Done.)
  • Gertrun does not need to join the fellowship, but she provides some treatments to Ambrosius to use on himself.

Yes, I think Ambrosius should get stats, but I’ll do it and keep them on the other side of my screen. I think it will be fun.

Leofred and Gyantwaka +1 Drive

  • Olwen gives no further information it appears.  Gyantwaka is unimpressed (and can only imagine how long the elves will take debating action but keeps those thoughts to himself).
  • Excellent, Leofred suggests that any texts related to the calculations he was making at Olwen's urging be brought with us and not left for anyone else to peruse (also may be useful to Ambrosius now with wits fully restored to go over).  Any partial records etc. should be destroyed before we leave and similarly Olwen's chambers searched and cleansed of any thing revealing.
  • Good, though if we have time want to hear as full an appraisal as she can give of what's in Olwen's room.

Thinking about it - Leofred says, "Olwen, you have been offered a chance at life, at least a reprieve from hanging, yet you have given nothing in turn.  Until you do, I do not regard the offer made to you as binding upon any of my comrades [glancing at Gyantwaka, who noticeably perks up].  Your Master is willing to testify to your crimes yet also willing to spare you - have you nothing to offer in exchange?"

Do we need to play out obtaining Order's permission here in Andorast for Gwenhild to accompany group? Leofred planned to tell the Chapter of her bravery and skill facing an unusual foe (whether she heard him or not would be random, he's not doing it to impress her rather to give 'her due' to her masters and a credit to her trainers  such as Sir Aelkor).

Do we need to play out leaving town - Leofred would ask Master Ambrosius to be under a hooded cloak, if it does not offend him the idea is that someone would take him as "the retainer/servant going along to tend to the needs of the two members of that Order and their Leshak scout", with Olwen to be gagged under blankets in a cart obtained for short term use.

We did not settle if examining Olwen's room or other knowledge ascertained how the gnome was summoned and/or if there are commonly accepted ways of preventing a magician from working magic.  The rules say you can't cast if you can't speak thus the gagging and general "standing order that if Olwen starts muttering under his breath or otherwise talking 'in tongues' that is treated as him trying to attack us and we respond immediately".  Gwenhild will have special duty to deal with him if he tries anything and Gyantwaka's "ambition" is to find a reason to put an end to this fellow.

Gyantwaka will again travel on foot. Leofred already had his horse and a pony for supplies. Three more mounts obtained,  for Ambrosius and Gwenhild, each a riding horse and for Olwen a pony (he's not winning any mounted races, his hands tied to reins).  Once they are all together the order of march is Gyantwaka ahead keeping an eye out for danger, then Ambrosius, then Olwen and Gwenhild with pack pony, Leofred will 'drift forward and back" along line making sure all are okay.

Confirming Gyantwaka still has a pouch of "gnome stones" and a plan for them he will keep to himself. He will restock his quiver if any arrows shot in recent fight were beyond recovery and get a second bundle of 20 arrows to have on the pack mule.  Gyantwaka is fussy about arrows examining each one he purchases for its fletching, straightness and arrowhead.

For Gwenhild, if she comes along, do we track her XP's?  She certainly played a part in driving off the gnome.

All good questions!

  • Olwen gives no further information it appears.  Gyantwaka is unimpressed (and can only imagine how long the elves will take debating action but keeps those thoughts to himself).

Thinking about it - Leofred says, "Olwen, you have been offered a chance at life, at least a reprieve from hanging, yet you have given nothing in turn.  Until you do, I do not regard the offer made to you as binding upon any of my comrades [glancing at Gyantwaka, who noticeably perks up].  Your Master is willing to testify to your crimes yet also willing to spare you - have you nothing to offer in exchange?"

I recognize that this was left unresolved. I still think Olwen sees no real reason to reveal all, since he is to be a captive and at least not subjected to death. Yet. But it doesn't mean that Leofred can't make a Charisma roll at +20 roll to get it out of him, as established earlier. If you already made this roll, I must have overlooked it.

I would say there is no need to roleplay Gwenhild's formal release from the Order to the fellowship.

Do we need to play out leaving town - Leofred would ask Master Ambrosius to be under a hooded cloak, if it does not offend him the idea is that someone would take him as "the retainer/servant going along to tend to the needs of the two members of that Order and their Leshak scout", with Olwen to be gagged under blankets in a cart obtained for short term use.

This goes as planned. The gate guards nod to Leofred. "Back to Southwatch, I see. Have a good journey. And just one pilgrim to look after. I'm sure you'll meet some more." The guard eyes the wagon. The one beside this guard quietly suggests an explanation for the unusual party, "Perhaps it's the old man's life savings. Perhaps a widower going to live with his son or daughter in a new settlement." Olwen behaves, does not try to draw attention.

We did not settle if examining Olwen's room or other knowledge ascertained how the gnome was summoned and/or if there are commonly accepted ways of preventing a magician from working magic.  The rules say you can't cast if you can't speak thus the gagging and general "standing order that if Olwen starts muttering under his breath or otherwise talking 'in tongues' that is treated as him trying to attack us and we respond immediately".  Gwenhild will have special duty to deal with him if he tries anything and Gyantwaka's "ambition" is to find a reason to put an end to this fellow.

Sounds good! This all works for me.

Confirming Gyantwaka still has a pouch of "gnome stones" and a plan for them he will keep to himself. He will restock his quiver if any arrows shot in recent fight were beyond recovery and get a second bundle of 20 arrows to have on the pack mule.  Gyantwaka is fussy about arrows examining each one he purchases for its fletching, straightness and arrowhead.

Confirmed!

For Gwenhild, if she comes along, do we track her XP's?  She certainly played a part in driving off the gnome.

I figured she would just level up whenever it seemed appropriate to the fiction. But she certainly is fast becoming a beloved character. Do you want to build her as a full PC? It's fine by me. This game is feeling less than "traditional," which is just fine for how you are managing it. It's kind of like a call-and-response, two people building a story with randomness and probabilities built in.

 

Leofred's persuasive skill isn't convincing Olwen to open up, assuming he remains sullen, Leofred just looks at Ambrosius and shrugs.

  • d100 = 06, his skill is +40, a +20 just makes it 66, and no he's not spending a Drive point on this.

At that outcome, Gyantwaka starts looking as cheerful as anyone has seen him, sorting arrows as if choosing "the special one" (looking at one, at Olwen, shaking his head, picking another one - repeat, then the third one, looking over, nodding to himself as if "yup this one"). {In reality if Olwen tries something it's just going to be the first arrow that comes to hand, Gyantwaka is that 'bad cop/prison guard' saying 'come on buddy, give me a reason' and anyone with sense would know not to fall for it - he's a Bearing -5 character after all [zero with the kin penalty]}.

On the road again we are - taking the king's highway back to Southwatch (50km per post #91) - if all were mounted half-day but with Gyantwaka afoot a full day - which helps Gwenhild can pay attention to Olwen and Leofred do his 'up and own the line' routine, which really just means slowing down to let those behind catch up till he's last, then picking up speed till he's beside Gyantwaka and repeat having travelled a bit by each other person/pair.

We arrived in Andorast the 28th of the New Moon I think, having left Southwatch the 27th. We must be around time of the New Moon (meaning dark of the moon).

A reminder as well that Olwen has not had the tending or rest required to recover from his "gut punch" critical (serious injury needing Hard Healing Skill roll and 10 days rest to become a minor injury with just a -20 penalty) that sees him labour under his -40 to all actions (not sure if that would have affected difficulty of convincing him of anything if roll contested).

  • Re Gwenhild, I have built her as a full PC (just not motivations etc. as no Drive), will upload to dropbox and show you if you like.
  • At one point I thought a Chapter Preceptor's daughter was going to smuggle herself into our party!

If you're okay with way game has been going I am too.  At Southwatch or Elven Court would be logical points for another player to join if one interested.

Gyantwaka will again travel on foot. Leofred already had his horse and a pony for supplies. Three more mounts obtained,  for Ambrosius and Gwenhild, each a riding horse and for Olwen a pony (he's not winning any mounted races, his hands tied to reins).  Once they are all together the order of march is Gyantwaka ahead keeping an eye out for danger, then Ambrosius, then Olwen and Gwenhild with pack pony, Leofred will 'drift forward and back" along line making sure all are okay.

On the road again we are - taking the king's highway back to Southwatch (50km per post #91) - if all were mounted half-day but with Gyantwaka afoot a full day - which helps Gwenhild can pay attention to Olwen and Leofred do his 'up and own the line' routine, which really just means slowing down to let those behind catch up till he's last, then picking up speed till he's beside Gyantwaka and repeat having travelled a bit by each other person/pair.

If I have this right, once a safe distance from sight of the walls of Andorast, the cart is discarded in a brake of some sort, and everyone except Gyantwaka mounts.

The fellowship travels for about an hour. The day is bright. The road stretches to the north, amongst the fields, and the walls of Andorast, for some time, are no longer in view in the south. A steady wind blows, from the north, into the faces of the fellowship.

It has been specified that both Gyantwaka and Leofred are on the alert. Leofred roll Perception Standard (+0) and Gyantwaka roll Perception Challenging (-10) please.

[P.S. I'm so pleased that you took it upon yourself to check back through the log regarding times and distances. You're a real player! 🙂 Give +1 Drive Point to one character of your choice.]

So let's see here (delightful break from eyes glazing over editing work docs).  It will be Gyantwaka who gets the Drive point, he's the one who does the travel stuff, making him 4 drive, 17 XP, Leofred 3 Drive, 18 XP.

For the cart, actually if once beyond immediate sight of the walls some poor farmer or tradesman is found struggling along (away from the town!) without a cart or an old one, they will be gifted a cart (Leofred's decision - "Your friendly Order of the Evening Star making travel better for you since xxx").

Leofred is in conversation with Ambrosius when whatever he might notice transpires and does not notice anything.

  • D100 = 18 + 15 skill = 33 Failure (nb the Perception skill was modified for wearing helmet)

Gyantwaka succeeds in noticing something.

  • D100 = 77 + 70 skill -10 Challenging = 133 Normal Success (LOL, just noticed they came out exactly 100 apart)

Oh, and if you've decided you like "call response story telling" we can continue but I can post a link calling for players on Discord if you like.

Leofred is in conversation with Ambrosius when whatever he might notice transpires and does not notice anything.

Okay, this works, though I would be evil-GM-pleased if he were on his own, ahead of the rest of the fellowship. 😈

Gyantwaka notices what can only be described as “lines,” none of them crossing another and not uniformly arranged, on the road ahead, perhaps right at the edge of his vision: let’s call the area ahead, in relation to the PCs, Long Range, in terms of Abstract Positioning.

With a flutter in his heart, Gyantwaka realizes that they are snakes, sunning themselves on the road.

Oh, and if you've decided you like "call response story telling" we can continue but I can post a link calling for players on Discord if you like.

[I’m ambivalent. As you may recall, I’ve seldom had success with PbP. Recruits can be a fickle lot. There also seems to be a lot of miscomprehension, with your average fresh PbP gamer, that I can’t understand—short of some gamers just aren’t reading or they have poor information retention? I’m not saying no to more players! In general, the more minds the better, when it comes to collective storytelling. But I predict it would slow down, others would politely wait for a laggard to post, the story will become opaque because of lack of forward momentum, it will stutter or die or have to be “rebooted.”

[Whoever joined, I believe, would have to meaningfully contribute to your attention to detail, to your historical worldbuilding, to your attention to rules, and to my own sense of story-building, pacing, and rulings. Such a gamer would be most welcome! But the wrong one could bring things to a sudden end.]

Gyantwaka stops, he raises his arm to call a halt to the fellowship's movement and points out the snakes ahead.  He looks around to see if there is anyone or thing else in the vicinity. After this he considers his knowledge of animals wondering if this is natural behaviour (what kinds of snakes, expected in this area, etc.) and also tries to recall if horses are spooked by snakes.

  • d100 23 +55 is 78 result, partial success of Nature (Gyantwaka may or may not know but the Internet [alas he doesn't have access] seems to suggest that horses' reactions probably pretend on temperament. They don't 'like' snakes but either just run way or stomp on them depending on which way they incline temperamentally etc.  Also being much bigger than people, snake venom isn't as much a threat to them typically.  I imagine the riding horses are more towards flight than fight scale of things - I didn't even bother posting Leofred's miserable roll on knowing about his horse.)

Unless the 'partial success', look around or Ambrosius reveals something, Gyantwaka is going to suggest some stones be thrown to move the snakes along (if they're just snakes acting on their own that should encourage them to move), and then party proceed.

  • Riding off the road just for a bunch of snakes seems an over-reaction.

[All good points I was turning over after I made offer.  I've been very pleased with how this turned out, admitting that earlier "pick up pbp" games have not gone well for me.]