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Thread: Sherwoodshire roleplaying

  1. #51
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    Saradoc briefly reflects on the possibility that the bandits might be a branch of the Sherwoodshire thieves guild, but leaves the thought unspoken. It wood be plane madness to investigate that possibility at this hazardous moment. Oakay, combat it is.
    Saradoc looses a pair of arrows at the female bandit. Then, in anticipation of the bandits closing in for hand-to-hand combat he puts down his bow and draws his two handaxes.

  2. #52
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    Aislinn turns toward the bandit nearest her, daggers at the ready, but pauses. The thieves' biggest weapon seems to be the creature in front of her. And he's... well, aside from his size, he's not intimidating in the least.

    She could engage "Woody" in conversation in his own language and make friendly overtures to the rather simple being. Indeed, if she were on her own, that's what she'd do. She chafes at having to follow orders: training from the Guild wasn't enough to erase Aislinn's need for independence.

    But her two fellow Scouts are quite clearly bent on combat, and she's got to learn to join in. After the shame of fleeing the Lake Ness monster, Aislinn has to prove herself.

    She prepares to ambush the man nearest her, planning to do so by sticking a knife against his throat and the other at his back. If the Ogre seems likely to protect his mates, Aislinn will address him in as pleasant a manner as the situation makes possible.

  3. #53
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    Saradoc (realizing that he and Alf are the only visible targets for the five bandits), fires two arrows at the Bandit Leader.
    One arrow hits for 10 damage.

    Saradoc then prepares to switch to his two Hand Axes. Meanwhile Alf (waving his Club) steps down to stand alongside the hobbit and Will comes running from the back of the wagon (with his sword drawn) to support both Saradoc and Alf.

    Aislinn stays in Stealth but threatens the bandit nearest her … “Surrender or die!”
    The bandit immediately drops his club, falls to his knees and puts his hands over his head.

    Marron takes his cue from Aislinn and (keeping in Stealth), confidently demands that the two bandits nearest him also give up.
    Faced with the threat of a vicious Club attack out of thin air, both bandits also surrender.

    The remaining junior bandit takes one look at the situation and runs off Northwards towards the Ogre.
    The Bandit Leader looks disgusted at her followers, heaves a sigh and also yields.

    As the fleeing bandit passes him, the Ogre sticks out a massive foot, trips the bandit and promptly sits on the unfortunate rogue.

    Seeing everything is under control, Aislinn comes out of Stealth, smiles at the Ogre and speaks in his language. “Hello, is your name Woody? I’m Aislinn. Thanks for helping with the bandits. Tell me about yourself.

    Will produces some thin ropes and he + Alf tie up all the bandits (except the one the Ogre is sitting on.)
    Apart from their weapons, the bandits all have poor quality leather armour and a back pack.

    Meanwhile Woody babbles a reply to Aislinn (also in Ogre) “Hey, you speak Ogre! I haven’t had anyone to talk to since my tribe threw me out.
    I’m a Woodcutter – a jolly good Woodcutter. Mind you, I cut the trees carefully. And I plant seeds so new ones can grow. I like trees.
    Oh, and this lot were the only folk who would let me join them. I tried going to a nearby farm to find work, but they set dogs on me.
    What should I do about the one I’m resting on?
    And I’m hungry.


    DM: Saradoc makes a Hear Noise roll and hears a donkey braying nearby.

  4. #54
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    "Excellent. We'd have been within our rights to practise summary justice," remarks Marron, "but it will do our names nothing but good if we bring wrongdoers in alive from time to time."

    He glowers at the bandits and adds "It will be mentioned in your favour that you made no attempt to give us unnecessary trouble -- provided you don't give us any."

    Assuming the backpacks hold nothing interesting, Marron is not intending to despoil the bandits of their meagre belongings. He listens with interest as Aislinn exchanges grunts with the Ogre.
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  5. #55
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    Aislinn gladly puts one of her daggers away, and does a quick check of the kneeling bandit's belongings to ensure he's carrying no weapons. If he has anything of value, she might pause to admire it, but after a quick look at her fellow Scouts, will not follow her less noble instincts.

    To Woody, she lifts a hand. "Your companions don't seem to have deserved you. Hold, I'll speak to my own. We'd certainly be better than this sorry lot."

    Switching back to Common, Aislinn swivels to face Marron, then Saradoc, translating what Woody told her before adding, "He's as I thought--no threat to us, and probably no threat to anyone if not ill-treated. This crew seem to have thought him little more than a large weapon. He went along with it because..." She glances back at the Ogre, and finishes more quietly, "...Because it's easy, sometimes, to mistake being owned for being cared for."

    Aislinn aims her gaze to the ground, shakes her head and slips the second dagger back in its hilt. She lightens her tone to address both the Ogre and her companions. "He's hungry. We should see what we can do to fill his belly with... something other than us." She makes sure to wave and smile at the Ogre to show that she's only joking. Sort of.

    Suddenly she blinks and takes a worried, belated look at the Bandit Leader. "Seemed to me that my fellow's arrow struck true." Before she steps closer, she reflexively pulls her hood a little closer to her bandaged face. "Do you need healing?"

  6. #56
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    Marron listens in awe to the remarkable echoes in this forest -- surely the wonder of the age.
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  7. #57
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    Saradoc whispers to Alf, "I can hear a donkey nearby. Can you guard the wagon while I investigate?"
    Saradoc then signals to his fellow scouts that he has heard something. He would like a companion to accompany him while he investigates.
    Saradoc enters Stealth mode and approaches Marron and Aislinn, watching to see if one of them will follow him while also listening for further clues as to the location of the donkey.
    Saradoc hopes that it is, indeed, just a donkey.

  8. #58
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    Alf responds to Saradoc’s whisper “No problem, Mr. Saradoc. Mr. Will and I can keep a close eye on things.”

    Next, as soon as Aislinn mentions that the Ogre is hungry, Alf leaps into action.
    He gets a small plank, a cloth and some dried meat from the wagon. Laying the cloth neatly on the plank, he adds some fresh fish and carrots to the meat and holds the plank out towards the Ogre.
    The Ogre’s eyes gleam and he nods vigorously.
    Alf adds a cup of water, then takes the food to the Ogre, who promptly devours it (spiting out some fish bones along the way and finishing with an enormous belch!)

    Will smiles at this, sheathes his sword and ties up the bandit who tried to flee. The bandit mutters urgently to Will, who nods and signals to Marron that there is a message for him.

    Aislinn notes that Woody the Ogre clearly doesn’t speak Common (he didn’t react to her comments.)
    Whilst gobbling the food, Woody takes time to smile and wave back at Aislinn.

    The Bandit Leader snarls at Aislinn’s offer of healing and snaps “I don’t want to be touched by goody-goodies. Mordred will look after me.”
    (Clearly the Bandit Leader is an experienced campaigner with a lot of health – the arrow wound does not look serious on her.)

    Meanwhile Marron swiftly searches the bandit’s backpacks. They all have the usual stuff (small knife, string, torch, nuts and berries.)
    However the Bandit Leader also has a tinderbox, flask of oil, a gem (use Appraisal for accurate valuation) and coins totalling 5 gold pieces.
    Studying the bandit’s weapons, Marron notes that the Bandit Leader’s Hand Axe is superior quality.

    DM: Stepping behind the wagon, Saradoc makes a Stealth roll.

    Saradoc can tell the donkey is nearby (the braying came from just off the path, near where Woody felled a tree.)

  9. #59
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    Aislinn watches and listens closely to the others. The other woman's words rankle--to put it mildly--and Aislinn snaps her head back to focus on the bandit. She lowers her voice. "If I were a 'goody-goody'," she murmurs, just for this specimen's ears, "I'd probably genuinely care if your wound festers, turns your arm green until it falls off. I also might refrain from taunting a captive about how poorly your precious Mordred must think of you thus far, considering the meager booty you've obtained and the ease of your capture.

    "...But I'm not always such a 'goody-goody'." Her sudden smile is cold and disappears in a second. "So I won't."

    She tightens her jaw and backs off. Normally she wouldn't be so wordy, or reveal this much of her angry, sometimes even unworthy nature. But Woody's story has inflamed her contempt toward the people who "accepted" him only to misuse him. An Ogre is not some mindless, violent pet--or the equivalent of a sentient club. Not even bothering to try to talk to him! And he certainly shouldn't be starved.

    Speaking of which, Aislinn appreciates Alf's charmingly quick reaction to help sate Woody's hunger. Turning a boot-clad heel on the bandit leader, she takes a few steps closer to watch the swift preparation of the impromptu meal. She's also pondering those gold pieces. They're more impressive than she acknowledged to the woman, certainly more than she's personally held in... actually, for as long as she can remember.

    She tears her thoughts from the coins when she notices Alf's presenting the Ogre with raw fish. "Actually he might prefer that smoked--" she starts, but cuts herself off with a frown. Why assume that? Regardless of the company she's kept, one non-human creature's tastes don't necessarily correspond with another's. With a shrug, she finishes tersely, "At least, I would. It'll keep longer, too."

    Given the speed with which Woody attacks the food, raw fish is quite palatable to him. Interesting, for one who's lived far from the sea. Or has he? A puzzle tickles her mind and she looks back at the Ogre, addressing him in his language. "Hope you're feeling better now. Do you mind if I ask... Why did your tribe force you to leave? Someone with your talent should be valued."

    To the others in her party, Aislinn explains what she's asked Woody, and adds--much more hesitantly than when she spoke to the bandit--"If the reason for his ousting is not troubling, perhaps he might join us? If he wants, I mean?" She thinks to herself that being a little closer to a market would be more convenient for a farmer. Besides, he might appreciate the companionship for a little while.

    Saradoc's concentration on whatever he's heard is noticeable, and she speaks to that--especially since it might help her request. Signalling more privately, she notes that if Saradoc needs assistance to seek out the noise, she's fine if Marron accompanies him, if the Ogre and the other men remain with her to outnumber the captives.

  10. #60
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    Marron sees that Aislinn has things well in hand and quietly slips after Saradoc. He likes donkeys. They're mostly quiet, unassuming company and not much inclined to bother what doesn't bother them.
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    Aislinn scowls. Marron is following Saradoc, and neither seems to have spotted her signaled question about Woody.

    In truth, she suspects her signaling is less than stellar; it was her worst subject in training. She's got excellent hearing and observation skills, and prefers to keep her mouth shut when not provoked into indiscretion by people like the bandit leader, so it frustrates her that a method of secret communication isn't coming easy to her.

    Then again, maybe greater matters are on the other Scouts' minds. Whatever Saradoc heard, it seems important. Aislinn wonders just what Saradoc noticed--she translated his signals as merely that he'd heard "something." Again she vows to work on her understanding of Scout signals.

    She edges near Will and softly repeats the request about whether Woody may/should join them. "I'm sorry I didn't ask you first... it's your wagon," she adds deferentially. "Will the horses will be skittish around an Ogre?"

    Finally, watching the others go, she blinks in sudden recollection and turns back to examine the bandit who was tied up by Will. Still in an undertone, she asks Will: "That man... he had a message, you said. Was it personal for my companion, do you think, or should I talk to him?"

    (BTW. does Aislinn know about the gem in the backpack? If so, can she cast Appraisal on it, assuming she knows/remembers how?)

  12. #62
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    Saradoc, intent on following the sounds towards the donkey (or whatever it turns out to be), starts to feel that he might have missed something.
    Ah! Yes! Aislinn has told us that there is an ogre to deal with!
    Saradoc signals back to Aislinn - "Do we know how evil the ogre is?"
    He continues, "If you're happy for the ogre to join us, then I'm happy too."
    Finally he adds, "If we do take him we should probably keep a close eye on him until we get to the Keep, we must be getting close to it by now."

  13. #63
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    Woody replies to Aislinn in Ogre “Thanks for the food. We had fish like that from a nearby lake.
    Oh, my tribe all worshipped Mordred and did whatever our Shaman told them to do. They used to rob anyone they could – and even kill them. I didn’t want to join in, so they threw me out.
    They didn’t care about trees like I do.
    This lot (he points at the bandits) let me follow them – but they were like my tribe with attacking others.
    I don’t know what to do…


    Aislinn translates all this for the party.

    Now Will replies to Aislinn’s question about the bandit’s message.
    “Yes, the bandit that ran and got sat on by Woody – he’s called Turpin and he was jolly impressed by Marron’s speech about justice and wrongdoers.
    Turpin told me that he wants to confess to many robberies – but that he had nothing to do with the murders of an Arthurian Cleric and an Archer!
    Apparently this lot have been getting bolder and richer – and Turpin wanted to get away from them. He’s ready to testify against all the others.
    Obviously Count Percival has the authority to deal with this bunch – and we are nearly at his Keep.”

    Then Will slaps his forehead and continues “Nearly forgot – yes, an Ogre would normally worry the horses a bit. But Alf has Animal Handling – he can calm horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, goats, oxen…”
    Will realises he is waffling and pauses.
    Then he offers to Appraise the gem, commenting “Alf and I aren’t just pretty faces, you know!”

    After hearing all that, Saradoc and Marron set off to investigate the donkey noise.

    DM: Marron fails a Stealth roll.

    The two Scouts soon find an actual braying donkey tethered in the forest near Woody and confirm there is nobody else around.
    The donkey has clearly not been well-treated – it has matted hair and looks a little emaciated. It carries full saddlebags.
    Upon seeing Marron calmly approaching, the donkey bares its teeth.

  14. #64
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    Marron is no animal-handler so he will signal to Saradoc to fetch Alf, and meanwhile fetches out his flute just to see if the critter has an ear for music.

    (When we all get caught up, he'd like to discuss this Arthurian cleric and archer that Turpin didn't have anything to do with murdering...!)
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  15. #65
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    Saradoc overcomes the temptation to provide a percussion accompaniment to Marron's flute music.
    He retraces his route through the forest and rejoins the group. He explains that we have found an upset, sad-looking donkey with saddle bags, and asks if Alf can help look after the poor animal.

    Saradoc looks forward to the bandits facing justice. He thinks highly of Arthurian Clerics. And Archers.

    He wonders if the donkey's name is Bill.

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    Aislinn nods to Will and asks him to appraise the gem; she also explains Woody's background and his unwillingness to assist followers of Mordred. Next she reassures Woody that she'll do what she can to help him join the party. "And I promise no one will ask you to do anything distasteful. Even if they do, I'll have your back."

    She's doubtful about Turpin's sincerity. Oh, he might be desperate to deny his involvement and lay the blame on the others, but Aislinn knows that many wrongdoers throw former partners under the wheel, claiming to be a mere witness to the worst crimes. Still, his information could be valuable, and he doesn't seem smart enough to fool all of the party. She says nothing to him. The others are more likely better equipped to question him, especially Marron, if Turpin's respect is true.

    Aislinn gives a sort of mental shrug. Or perhaps we ought to take the lot and dump them at the Keep, leave the thefts and murders for this Count to untangle. She doesn't feel obliged either way. Her disgust at their treatment of Woody aside, bringing these brigands to justice doesn't weigh heavily on her.

    It's only just begun to gnaw at her that she's among a group of strangers when Saradoc returns. Unfortunately, her relief at his arrival turns into disappointment when he leaves and takes Alf with him. Though they're essentially strangers too, those two seem the most trustworthy--at least, she believes them less likely to pose a danger.

    She edges near Woody. Reaching into her items, she draws out a batch of playing cards and performs simple tricks to entertain both him and herself. Even while performing deft sleights of hand, Aislinn keeps a wary eye on the others. Perhaps it's strange to be most comfortable next to an Ogre. But no Ogre has ever caused her harm.

  17. #67
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    Alf comes immediately to help with the beast of burden. “Donkey in distress? Lemme at ‘im!”

    As Alf arrives, he spots Marron holding his flute.
    Alf mutters “That’s good Mr. Marron – please play something sweet and soothing.”

    Marron begins a lullaby.

    DM: Marron makes a Flute roll.
    (This pleasant music gives Alf a +20% chance to use Animal Handling.)

    DM: Alf a makes an Animal Handling roll.

    Alf calmly approaches the donkey, holding out a carrot.
    The donkey pauses, then accepts the carrot and placidly allows Alf to untie the animal and lead it back to the party.

    As the donkey appears at the ambush site, Turpin calls out “Watch out! Be careful with those saddlebags…”
    The Bandit Leader promptly responds “Shut yer face, Turpin. You’re a traitor and when I get free, I’m going to get you!”

    Alf gently ties the donkey to the back of the wagon, gives it another carrot and begins washing and brushing its coat.
    Alf asks Turpin “What’s this donkey called?”
    Turpin replies “Eeyore – because it makes noises like ‘eee’ and ‘haw’.”

    Meanwhile Will and Aislinn (whilst guarding the prisoners) have been studying the gem.

    DM: Will fails an Appraisal roll.
    Will looks a little embarrassed and says quietly “It might be worth 25 gold?”

    DM: Aislinn fails a Mining roll.
    (She was at -20% to succeed.)
    Aislinn shrugs. “You could be right, Will.”

    Will asks the rest of the party if anyone can Appraise.

    Now Woody listens to Aislinn and replies (in Ogre) “I ain’t never met anyone like you. All my tribe worshipped Mordred and so did these bandits. What else is there?
    Woody adds “No wonder everyone thinks Ogres are evil. If I go along wiv you, won’t folk attack me?

    Whilst thinking about this, Aislinn shows Woody a pack of cards and performs a basic trick

    DM: Aislinn makes a Presdigitation roll.

    Woody gasps in amazement and exclaims (in Ogre). “Dat’s magic! Do that again!

  18. #68
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    Marron has little knowledge of gems and precious stones, so unless it happens to have belonged to someone notable (Local History 50%) it's unlikely he'll have any input into this.

    He remarks "Well done with the donkey there. I'd have maybe thrown a cloak over it to keep it calm, but I didn't like the look of those teeth, and you know what they say: you can try to cover your ass, but things will come back to bite you."

    Observing how well Aislinn is getting the fearsome ogre to respond, Marron suggests "If yon big fellow wants an honest job, I've met one or two people who might be able to find him a place. Such heavy lifting as takes several men or a cunning engine should be easier and safer done by one such as he."
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  19. #69
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    Aislinn is pleased to see the donkey, although not its condition. Her eyes narrow at the bandit leader, both for her threats at Turpin and the poorly treated animal. Neither surprise her, after their treatment of Woody and the murders--well, the implied murders--but it's still offensive.

    She holds up a gentle hand to Woody, indicating she'll respond to him in a moment. To Will, she sighs and touches the gem in admiration. "I suppose...we should return it to its owner," she says reluctantly. "If the unfortunate person can be found. Alive," she adds with another baleful stare at the bandits.

    Asking if anyone at the Keep is aware of such a theft might be useful. Or, of course, there's the obvious. Aislinn purses her lips in annoyance at having not gone the straightforward route. She walks a little closer to Turpin. "Know you the value of this gem? And where she got it?" This last is accompanied with a nod toward the leader--this time without wasting a look.

    She hesitates before answering Morran. "Anyone would gladly make use of his muscle. Will they pay him for it in coin or meals, rather than chains?"

    Her focus returns to the Ogre. She contemplates his questions before beginning in a lowered voice (which comes naturally to her, even though the Ogre language is private enough):

    "My party are willing for you to join us, at least on this journey. At its end we will find you somewhere safe. And when you're with us, we'll fight anyone who attacks a member of our party as best we can. My fellow travelers are... well, if you're one of us, they'll be offering you protection. I believe they'll live up to their vows."

    After collecting her careful words, Aislinn continues:

    "As you can see, Mordred is not the only way. Others follow Arthur, and must be committed to noble deeds. And be good. Or at least... think you are good."

    She pauses, reflecting on her experiences. Some claim to follow the Arthurian way but don't live up to their fine words. Aislinn doubts this nuance is worth explaining to Woody just yet. She's not even sure she understands it herself. Maybe these people weren't really Arthurians. But if they believe they are, does it matter? Or do the acts alone matter? What if someone says they follow Mordred but does good things?

    With a sigh, she goes on. "I believe all in my party have chosen that path. At least from what I've seen and heard from them thus far. I don't know them very well yet. Nor they me. I no longer... I don't really share their..." Aislinn clears her throat and flicks a glance back at the others before going on.

    "Anyway, there's a third path. Some of us are often good, or often bad, and sometimes just... a mix of both. It's like nature. Hawk and mouse, lion and deer... neither in these pairs are evil or good. Take the trees you love. They can provide shelter and fruit for animals of all kinds. But the fruits might be poisonous, or just foul-tasting. Maybe their roots burrow to choke the growth of other plants. Rivers can freeze and safely bear your weight--or they might fail and crack under the pressure.

    "These things are not good or evil either. They just do what they must do given the weather. Or the burdens placed on them. That--that's me, I suppose."
    Aislinn stares at the trees for a moment, then returns to Woody. "Many of this sort consider themselves followers of Nimue. I... I'm not so sure I want to 'follow' anyone anymore."

    At last she stops, embarrassed at having gone on at such length. It's been ages since she had such a lengthy conversation, so long she can't even recall it. She lifts her card deck and shuffles them nervously, sending an awkward glance back at the others. "Nothing worth repeating," she murmurs. "Just keeping him entertained." Swiftly looking at Woody, she fans the deck out so Woody alone can see their faces. The suits on front are designed to represent cups, swords, clubs and coins. "Now while you decide whether to join us: Pick a card and don't let me see it... in fact I'll close my eyes. Then mark it with a thumbprint--some mud on the ground can help--and put it back in the deck."

    If he plays along, she'll need another Prestidigitation roll please for what she has planned.

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    Marron inspects his work-hardened fisherman's hands and grunts "Where I come from, an honest job mainly means the worker gets pay and food. If I'd meant owt so cruel as 'clap the brute in chains', I'd likely say so."

    While Aislinn carries on with her mardling*, Marron wanders over to Turpin, leans in and says kindly, "Now lad, you had summat to say about them saddlebags, yes?"

    -- And he snaps his head round to fix the bandit leader with a stern gaze and says "And if you're looking for a rope collar when you might have got away with your life, you can start flapping your mouth again when you weren't spoke to"

    ---

    "mardle" (v. i.) -- talk, especially if to no clear purpose.
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    Saradoc, seeing that the party is now reunited and with everything under control belatedly snaps out of his ponderings and says, "Oh - sorry, Will, I might be able to tell if that's a good gem. Would it be OK if I have a look at it?"

  22. #72
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    DM: Marron fails a Local History roll.

    He can’t think of any recent famous jewel robbery, so concentrates on the saddlebags instead.

    Turpin is clearly keen to ingratiate himself with Marron and rapidly whispers “Those saddlebags contain the most valuable treasure that we’ve looted. But our leader won’t share with us and has trapped the bags. They surely contain the evidence to convict her of murder!”

    The Bandit Leader looks furious that Turpin is communicating with Marron and opens her mouth … then rapidly shuts it again when Marron forcefully tells her not to interrupt.

    Aislinn joins Marron in talking to Turpin. The bandit tells Aislinn he thinks the jewel belonged to the Arthurian Cleric that the bandits murdered. Turpin doesn’t know its value.

    Having heard Marron’s opinion that Woody should be able to earn a fair living somehow, Aislinn returns to the Ogre.
    After explaining her views on the Gods and how to behave, Woody looks thoughtful. He says slowly in Ogre “I never knew there was summat else other than Mordred. I know what you mean about trees and Nature. I like the sound of Nimue.”

    Woody then focuses intently on the cards Aislinn shows him. He picks out a card and sticks a muddy thumbprint on it, then clumsily puts it back in the deck.
    Again he speaks in Ogre. "All done, like you said.”

    DM: Saradoc makes an Appraisal roll.

    He announces “I reckon this gem is worth 50 gold.”
    Last edited by glee; 08 Jul 2022 at 05:14 AM.

  23. #73
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    In case there is a magical component to the trap, Marron will offer up a short prayer and Detect Magic.

    Admittedly this will not guarantee knowing how to remove it, but you have to start somewhere.
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    Aislinn, who opened her eyes wide as soon as she heard Saradoc's estimate of the gem's worth, blinks and tries to free her mind of such riches. Mordred might be favoring this bandit after all.

    Almost resentful at the thought, she shuffles the deck again, then--with the cards still facing Woody--gently pulls up the edge of first one card, then another, asking whether each is the card he picked. (She will be wrong both times.)

    Next she scowls as if confused. After a hesitation, she stares up at Woody with feigned disappointment. "But you're not playing fair, hiding it from me like that." With a tiny smile, she nods her chin towards his pocket. "You've got it there now, haven't you?"

    A sudden thought interrupts her and she swivels to look at the saddlebags again. Is there a lock she might... work at?

    But Marron offers his own plan, whereupon Aislinn's heart beats a little faster. Without a word she turns back to the ogre, pulling her own bag more tightly across her shoulder, before murmuring, "Go one then, Woody, check your pocket."

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    Saradoc looks longingly at the saddlebags. Booby-traps are a mystery to him, likewise magic spells.
    He wonders if he should be satisfied with depriving Mordred's servants of their ill-gotten gains, even if we don't find out what those gains actually are.
    "I'm sorry, I really don't think I can help much with the saddlebags. I do have a healing potion which might help if someone is injured opening the bags."

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    Seeing that Marron is preparing a Detect Magic, Will tells Alf to carefully lead Eeyore in front of the bound bandits. Will also brings Turpin over to join his fellow rogues – but keeping him well away from the Bandit Leader!
    This means the spell will cover the saddlebags, the bandit’s armour (which they are wearing) and their weapons (which are laid out in front of them.)

    Saradoc studies the saddlebags carefully (making sure not to touch them) and notes that one is apparently stuffed full with a leather quiver and 20 arrows. This one has a closed lock on it.
    The other saddlebag doesn’t have a lock and Saradoc thinks he can see a Holy Symbol and a pair of leather gloves.
    Saradoc signals the other Scouts with this information.

    Marron casts Detect Magic.

    - the Bandit Leader’s Hand Axe glows with Enchant Weapon 1 (a 1st level Magic User spell)
    - two of the Arrows in the locked saddlebag glow with Enchant Weapon 1 (a 1st level Magic User spell)
    - the Leather Gloves glow with an Enchant Item 3 (a 3rd level Druid spell)
    - the Holy Symbol glows with an Enchant Item 4 (a 5th level Cleric spell)

    (Therefore there are no magical traps on the saddlebags.)

    Marron cheerfully signals the other Scouts that there are valuable items around. He also whispers this information to Will.

    (N.B. Marron knows that an Identify spell will reveal exactly what spell is on each item and what the spell does – as well as which class can use the item.)

    Aislinn notes there is a lock on one saddlebag.
    Meanwhile she continues showing Woody a card trick.
    At first Woody was enthralled and clearly enjoyed selecting and marking a card.
    However when Aislinn twice fails to guess the card, the Ogre’s shoulders slump a bit.

    DM: Aislinn makes a Presdigitation roll.

    Woody reaches into his pocket, pulls out his card and gazes in amazement at Aislinn. He gasps (in Ogre) “How did you do that?!

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    Aislinn smiles and accepts the card, brushing off the mud a tad absently with her fingers. "I'm good with my hands," she says under her breath. "It's one of the easiest sort of tricks, but this version took me awhile to learn. And a lot of patience on my teacher's part."

    Pensive, she looks down and, while returning the card to the deck, lets her hood shade the half of her face not covered by the bandage. With a nod toward Woody, she notes Marron's success and pays attention to his discoveries, curious as to what the others wish to do with the items.

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    Marron raises his eyebrows. "Well -- that's worth having and no mistake. Better to wait for a little leisure before I find out what these trinkets do, rather than use up all of Arthur's gifts right here and now. And it might be better to wait before opening that saddlebag, too, in case there's hurt to be had from it and more than I can deal with. O' course, it might be meant to destroy the contents and not whatever poor soul opens it, but either way: Turpin mentioned something about evidence, and we'd not want that destroyed."

    He looks at Aislinn's card tricks with the ogre and smiles gently. If someone had bet him on such a thing happening even half an hour ago... Still, the big fellow seems to like it well enough.
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    Saradoc snaps out of his avaricious trance.
    "I don't think we're going to resolve this problem out here on the trail. Let's take the saddlebags, the prisoners and the ogre to the Keep - Will said it's not far to go now until we get there. Maybe Perceval can help us sort it all out."

    Then he adds, "Mind you, I wouldn't mind a couple of magic arrows. I hear they can come in handy. Some monsters can't be hurt by non-magic arrows."

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    Marron thinks carefully about the magical items in the saddlebags.
    The Hand Axe and the two Arrows could simply be (+1), giving +10% to hit and +1 damage.
    Druid spells are usually about plants and animals (perhaps protection or movement), so an Identify will show what the Gloves (and weapons) can do.
    Finally the Holy Symbol fascinates him. Hopefully it will be Arthurian!
    Marron remembers a High Priest of Arthur who discussed 5th level Clerical spells. These were usually found on specific items:

    - Cure Critical Wounds on a Staff (cure 3d8+3 – more if First Aid known)
    - Commune with Arthur on a Mirror (have questions answered by Arthur himself)
    - Flame Strike on a Rod (do 6d8 fire damage on one opponent)
    - True Seeing on a Gem (see through disguises, illusions, invisibility etc.)

    The only spell to be found on a Holy Symbol was Karma – which gave the Cleric the ability to Turn Undead as if the Cleric was four levels higher.

    DM: Marron makes a Local History roll.

    Marron shudders as he recalls that the famous Arthurian Cleric Gawain recently disappeared. Gawain had just such a Holy Symbol. And Turpin has stated that the bandits murdered an Arthurian Cleric…

    Woody continues speaking to Aislinn in Ogre. “Thanks for dat magic! I’d like to learn a bit about dis Nimue – yer know, not being evil.
    Also I’d like to stick wiv you lot a bit. Just so I can get fed and be safe
    .”

    Meanwhile Will nods sagely at Saradoc’s remarks. “Yes, Count Percival is the lawful authority for all of Sherwoodshire. We can take the saddlebag loot, the bandits and the witnesses (us, Turpin and Woody) to the Count for judgement. He will sort it all out – and there should be a reward for our efforts!”
    Will adds nervously “Um, we’re going to be most welcome at the Keep – but the guards won’t know that Woody is not hostile. They’ll assume all Ogres are evil…”

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    "We approach under a flag of truce, then. The Count would respect that even if we were proven knaves and vagabonds," suggests Marron, "which I hope is not the case nor likely to be thought so. And Aislinn, if you can convince your friend to keep his hands empty and in plain sight, and maybe even teach him to say 'I surrender, do not hurt me' -- and what it means -- we should be able to get through this safely."

    Marron seems to be back to his normal cheery self, and his rustic burr has vanished, replaced by the tones of one who has spent time in the company of educated men. And the thought of going over these interesting treasures in peace, quiet and safety is an appealing one... though it is alarming to think of what might have happened to Gawain!
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    Responding to Will and Marron's suggestions, Aislinn nods and lightly touches Woody's large hand with her leather-glove-clad fingers for an instant. "Yes, please join us. My companions suggest that I teach you some words in our language, to prove to others that you come with good will. I think that is wise. Do you think you might try?"

    If so, she'll spend time during the travels getting Woody to learn a more simple version of the message Marron recommended: "I am peaceful. I mean no harm." (She'll also attempt to get him to say her name, and the others' as well: Will, Saradoc, Marron and Alf. And, of course, his own.)

    To the others, she adds an offer to walk behind the wagon with Woody, so he won't be the first seen by any adventurers, watchmen or soldiers... or whatever overenthusiastic fighters they might have at the Keep. The sort that look on ogres as a mere path towards reaping rewards or fighting experience.

    "Someone needs to take the rear to corral this lot," she mutters with a dark stare at the bandits. Besides. she warrants Woody is the best rear guard the party could hope for--his massive size will provide the bulk to protect them, supplemented by whatever abilities such as Alertness Aislinn can provide. Of course she'll defer to the others if they're better suited. Truth is, she knows little of their backgrounds.

    Finally she edges closer to see the uncharmed saddlebag, remaining an arm's length from the men. "If I may see the lock? I could try to work it on the way."

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    Marron waves Aislinn in the direction of the saddlebag. He's given his views, but nobody said he was the leader, least of all himself, and if Aislinn cares to risk it then she can do so.
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    Saradoc speaks up. "Hey, Aislinn, before you try to unlock the saddlebags, maybe there's someone here who can check for mechanical traps, and maybe even disarm them. Sorry, I can't do that myself."
    Saradoc retrieves his healing potion from his backpack just in case.

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    Will nods happily at Marron’s suggestion of a flag of truce. “The Count is an honourable man, plus his troops are well trained. They will take sensible precautions, but not rashly open fire.”
    Will thinks for a bit and adds “Since the guards know me and Alf well, we should be at the front. I’ll lead on foot and Alf can drive the wagon as usual.
    Now I reckon all Scouts should stay out of Stealth, as spotting a stranger doing that approaching the Keep is suspicious.
    Oh, by the way, have any of you have already met Count Percival?”

    Will continues “So how about Marron and Saradoc keep an eye on the trussed bandits from behind the wagon?
    Aislinn, you could carry a flag of truce alongside Woody – who can put his hands on his head or something similar.
    Alf, what have we got in the wagon that’s white?”

    Alf promptly produces a slightly grubby white shirt and a quarterstaff. He fixes the shirt onto the end of the staff and offers the ‘flag’ to Aislinn.

    Meanwhile Woody has answered Aislinn (in Ogre) “I’d like to learn stuff – but it’s hard for me.”
    After several repetitions for each word, Woody learns to say (in Common) ‘Aislinn’, ‘Marron’, ‘Sarry’, ‘Will’, ‘Alf’, ‘Peace’ and ‘Friend’. (When saying ‘Friend’, Woody points at his massive chest.)

    Woody is happy to walk with Aislinn to the Keep and understands both what a flag of truce is and why he should put his hands on his head.

    Next Will echoes Marron and Saradoc’s warnings to Aislinn about always looking to find traps before trying to open a lock.
    Will says cheerfully “Finding before unbinding is my motto”.
    Hearing this, Alf chips in with “Inspecting before regretting!”

    Will smiles at Alf “Thanks Alf – good advice.”
    Alf happily burbles on with “Thinking before picking!”

    Will holds up a hand and says firmly. “Yes, I think that’s enough Alf…”

    Alf grumbles and mutters “Tricks before picks! Shocks before locks!”

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    The recommendations about the saddlebag from three of the men trigger some instinct that makes Aislinn back away from the bag, lower her head and utter an automatic, deferential "Of course, sirs, if it pleases."

    Only when the last word crosses her lips does she realize she's even spoken, much less what she said. For some reason it's even worse having been heard by the other woman nearby. Face burning, she adds a blurted "I mean yes, you're right, I'll wait," then turns away abruptly to the proffered quarterstaff from Alf. She practically wrests it from him, a little rougher than necessary. Her earlier obsequiousness has angered her. "Thank you," she says in a grudging apology.

    She hefts the staff up and finds it ungainly. Frankly Aislinn's not thrilled to have both hands occupied. It makes her knives inaccessible and prevents any further useful purpose she might put her nimble fingers to. But Woody is by her side, and he seems likely to assist her if defense if needed. And of course, a quarterstaff is a weapon on its own. Scout instruction offered her little training, but she remembers others having taught her some basic blocking maneuvers.

    Doing her best to ignore the bandit leader--Aislinn's still mortified by her meek response earlier--she gets into position and will leave when the others do so as well.

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    Marron is ready to go and has his pipe all ready to strike up a lively air to make the last few miles pass agreeably.
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    Saradoc takes his seat next to Alf, bow in hand, in anticipation of the wagon moving off towards the Keep.

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    Standing stolidly behind the wagon, Aislinn has a strange nagging sense that she neglected something that someone asked. Her mind runs quickly through the last several moments and then excuses herself to Woody before moving up to Will.

    "I'm sorry I didn't answer your question about the Count. No, I've never seen him." Her words are blunt but not confident. The possibility of her having been in the vicinity of someone so highborn seems unlikely in the extreme. But while her short-term memory is, ironically, excellent, the past prior to arriving in Sherwoodshire is essentially a gaping, fathomless void she fears to explore. Though she must.

    She shakes the thoughts away and starts back to her place beside Woody, then turns to ask over her shoulder: "We aren't likely to meet him personally, are we?"

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    Will thanks the party for being so agreeable. He waves at Woody and says “Friend”, whilst pointing at his own chest. (Woody thinks briefly, then smiles happily.)

    Will replies to Aislinn “Well I think you will indeed meet the Count! Firstly he has heard of the new Drannasmor Security Guild and will want to see what its members are like. Secondly you have all done incredibly well in saving this caravan and the Count is a fair man who rewards such bravery.
    Ah, now apart from the Count himself, I can introduce you to the Castle Steward, Lady Marian, and the Captain of the Keep’s Guard, Sir LittleJohn.
    Um, it is correct to address these noble folk as ‘My Lord’, ‘My Lady’ and ‘Sir Littlejohn’ respectively and then bow to each of them.
    Don’t worry – they are all good Arthurian people.”

    Will then sets off in front of the wagon.

    The bandits are clearly resigned to their fate – although Turpin reminds Marron that he will testify against the others.

    Marron’s music does indeed make the final leg of the trade caravan a cheerful time.

    Soon the party emerge from the forest track and see Versifal’s Keep.

    https://btcloud.bt.com/web/app/share/invite/Ed8QIznUY5

    https://btcloud.bt.com/web/app/share/invite/aLXy0RJhOM

    DM: Saradoc makes a Hear Noise roll.

    From the South Ballista Tower, Saradoc hears a bellow “Trade Caravan approaching … with outriders!” This is immediately followed by another shout “Duty Patrol to the Front Gate – bring Sir LittleJohn’s mount.”

    The South Tower ballista swivels to cover the front of the Keep.

    Will raise a hand in a friendly salute and calls out “I greet you in the name of Arthur!”
    Alf mutters to the Scouts “Those words tell the Keep all is well. I wanted Will to use instead ‘Alf is a potato head’ … but he wouldn’t!”

    Soon the front gate portcullis is raised and the gate itself opens.

    A patrol of smartly dressed soldiers marches out and forms up facing Will. (Their shields have a round table symbol.) One soldier is carrying a flag of truce.
    Their Sergeant barks “Attention!” and the patrol smoothly obey.

    Next a very tall, burly male human (also with the same shield symbol) rides out on a well-trained warhorse.
    He greets Will. “Welcome back, Will. Before I can admit you to the Keep - who are all these people?”
    Will bows and says politely “Greetings Sir LittleJohn. May I present three worthy members of the Drannasmor Security Guild. Each of them can tell you something important about our trip here.
    Aislinn can explain the presence of the Ogre.
    Marron can inform you about bandits, their treasure and a witness.
    Saradoc will delight you with news of Lake Ness.”

    Will invites the Scouts to tell their stories to Sir LittleJohn.

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    Normally Aislinn would rather not speak at all, or bring attention to herself, but she must ensure Woody's presence is not taken as a threat. She lifts her own heavy flag of truce a little higher (with some difficulty) and pats the Ogre's arm with her small, gloved hand.

    "If I may, Sir LittleJohn?" Her head is bowed slightly, in deference but also to avoid scrutiny. "I assure you that this Ogre is no threat. To the contrary, helped us catch the brigands you see here. He is a refugee from his own kind and disdains their evil ways." She turns to Woody and tries an encouraging nod while reminding him in his own language: "Tell them your name and that you are peaceful, as we practiced before."

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    Marron nods in approval at Aislinn's endorsement of the Ogre, who seems peaceful enough for all his monstrous appearance, and waits patiently as the simple-witted fellow mumbles his way through his well-rehearsed speech.

    Taking his cue, he adds "As to these brigands, they waylaid us in the woods, but it is to be mentioned in their favour that since being apprehended they have made no attempt to cause further trouble. One of them" -- he indicates Turpin "-- wishes to turn King's Evidence in mitigation for some prior offences; and we have been told that the brigands' loot includes evidence of a most dreadful crime, of which it were well to learn more.

    "Still," Marron chuckles, "you'd perhaps not fault us were we to suggest a share of the plunder as finder's fee for our troubles, supposing the rightful owner cannot be found."
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    Saradoc bows low (not a difficult task for one who is already so close to the ground) and speaks.
    "Sir Littlejohn, we wish to present to the Keep a small memento of our journey here, for we have vanquished a great monster which emerged from Lake Ness."
    Saradoc holds up the plaque which he had carved from the shell of the giant beetle and offers it to Sir Littlejohn.

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