Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Plainer Tale of Violence

With the evening of May 3rd, the sky clears and the rain, at last, stops completely.  You hear that the prince and burghermeister finally did ride out this afternoon with a contingent, to head south.

You've had your dinner and all of you are lounging in the common room in a tavern near Engelhart's grandfather's, discussing matters and plans.  At this point a man will enter, looking haggard and worn. There is blood on his face from a cut on his forehead.  He is dirty and wet, apparently ~ from his appearance ~ gotten in the forest outside of the city.  You'd judge him to be in his late 40s.

He begins by speaking with the tap-master at the bar, but loud enough to be heard and very quickly afterwards the room grows silent.

"We were attacked," he explains.  "There were nine of us.  We had gone searching for five cows that had gone missing from the Sandvik farm ~ Evard Sandvik, his brother Tom, four hands of his farm and three hands from mine.  They came on us at a rush and none of us had proper weapons."

His hands begin to shake as a tap master puts an ale in his hand.  He gulps and then says, "I fought on the continent in '38, when we met goblins out of the Black Forest.  I've seen kobalds.  And once, near Augsburg, we went underground and I saw troglodytes.  But I've never seen these things, never heard of them."

He drinks some more.  "They were frogs, standing on their hind legs like men.  Couldn't have been more than a 110, 120 lbs each.  Starved, that's how they looked.  They fell on us like demons.  There must have been twenty, twenty-five of them, with razors for claws.  They came out of the air, leapin' at us like frogs, tearing us to pieces in less than a minute.

"I only survived because one of them knocked me on the head with a rock.  I fell, slid down the hillside and into a pond.  I could hear them screaming above me.  I swam to the shore and began running; I ran until I got to the Randaberg.  Then I came here."

"There's no guards outside of town," he explains.  Several people explain that the burghermeister took a lot of guards south.  "Well, there ought to be guards.  Ain't no wall in Stavanger.  There ought to be guards.  Whatever's out there, they took Sandvik's cattle and they attacked us.  There must be more of them.  I don't know where they've come from."

The tavern begins talking about the farms that were attacked, about the other rumors that have been heard.  The party learns that this attack took place near the north end of Store Stokka, just south of Randaberg, to the west.


Engelhart Askjellson said...

'Told you guys not to nudge the book.

Welp, we've got a full-fledged infestation on our hands. We barely kept up with 4 of these critters, two score will do a number on us, equipment upgrades or not.

The thing that gets me is that we could own up to the guilt to this if we want to. I'm personally not keen on claiming moral responsability for the disappearance of, by my rough reckoning, some 20 innocents.

I'm going to go ahead and buy some more equipment as well as heal Embla.

Alexis: your revised encumbrance tables put a serious wrench on the carrying capacity, but if I stick my unused stuff on the donkey's trunk I can manage at -1 AP, though the matter becomes if the whole party doing the same won't tax the donkey as well, we might need to acquire a second one.

As to bearings and setting out... well, some of you guys still aren't at full hp, but we might as well get moving to someplace useful, now that the weather has let up. I suggest the "last encounter" place.

Alexis: I wish to try and find a man-at-arms (or two) that I may hire. If I can get actual volunteers based on the present situation of crisis, all the better. We're going to need a train of competent people to get us where we need to get. My Bless spell can cover 12 people, so there's a nice round starting point.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Oh, I forgot a comment about buying Howell superheavy armor.

Why? I don't see an untrained halfling in plate mail being able to remotely load a crossbow. That's just crazy. Why give him armor at all? You had explained that you didn't expect him to fight.

Dressing him up in armor will make him feel foolish, like a struggling turtle, and would surely end in him quitting your employ.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Engelhart, the enlistment of hirelings page on the wiki explains what you need to do. You won't find "volunteers," ever, not without a sage ability.

Pandred owes me 5 g.p. for finding Howell.

Pandred said...

I listed him under my purchases.

The armor is for me. For now, he carries the crossbow and my pack, leaving me free to simply hulk around my fighting equipment.

Having said that, I am almost immediately irked. My plate is going to be nearly useless if we intend to lay into the frogs, and I should have thought of it. I was just so excited for AC 2!

The frogs pretty clearly occupy the lake. The briefest search on amphibians would indicate that juveniles are water-bound, and adults can't remain underwater indefinitely, but this doesn't appear to be a hard-and-fast rule.

I vote make our way back to Mimmarudla and finish our plundering. I can't swim, don't know where the frogs are located (though my tentative guess is the hex west of the first dead farmers), and have a hole in my heart where empathy for my fellow man should go.

The Prince has already ridden out, so if we meet them on the road, we can change plans, but otherwise I'd like to make sure that when the Barrow is inevitably discovered as the source of the frogs' ire, we're already done with the place.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ah, good Pandred. I was confused.

Lothar Svensson said...

I'm up for returning to Mimmarudla to fight the big thing, and perhaps smash the final artifact that is bringing the frog monsters out of retirement. I have a feeling the key to making it all stop is at the bottom of the tomb (though that may just be my 'training' from video games and the like). A more pressing question, do we want to try to organize a watch for the town tonight? It might help our street cred to contribute to the local good in the face of such dark times...

A summary of purchases:

For Valda, Fjall and Bergthora: studded leather, iron helmet, small fir and iron shield

For myself: a dagger and sheath, some clothes, new boots, some other minor sundries. I've got 54 gp and 126 sp left (after paying for tonight's lodging and food for myself and my hirelings).

With all of my carried kit on I'm at 3 AP, but I can drop things to get up to 4 AP. The balance of stuff that I'm planning to hang off the donkey weighs 53.12 lbs.

One more thing of note, I'm currently at 21 HP, out of 30 max. I'd like to get a cure spell as well before we move out, but I can stand a bit of roughing up in the meantime.

To sum up, I'd like to see about organizing a watch for at least tonight, with us as the "leaders" and recruit some townsfolk to help fill the ranks. I'm not sure how much traction we'll get, but I'd like to try. Engelhart, as an upstanding member of the community, would you be willing to help recruit/organize?

Embla Strand said...

I don' know how effective a town watch will be - Stavanger is pretty big, and no wall means no controlled access - we'd need enough bodies to man the entire perimeter of the place. That's a lot of people, especially since most of the guards/etc. are south with the Prince.

As it stands, I now have 13/17hp, which is pretty good. I feel we should go to the apothecary and see what his thoughts are.

Lastly, I feel we should fess up - while I could see getting run out of town for having led to this calamity, we will probably be much more successful in fixing this with the institutional support of the community (and, if we die, at least people know where the problem is and can take care of it).

Lothar Svensson said...

I was hoping we'd be able to get back to the tomb and shut this down before things got too far out of hand, but that looks to be a fading possibility now. Fessing up sooner rather than later, preferably with an offer of assisting the cleanup will probably look better on us than disappearing into the night or keeping mum about the whole thing. Which is partly why I'd like to organize a watch tonight.

Here's my plan: we set two men up every 50 to 100 yards apart around the town, starting at the north end towards where the last attack was. We'd need shifts, of course, but with a town this size, I think a persuasive speech would be able to do it. [Dang but I wish I had the rabble-rouse sage ability right now. Perhaps we can make do with my bizarrely high charisma.] The two men would help keep each other awake and alert, and if they spotted anything one could run to the church to sound the alarm while the other shouts and gets the attention of the watchers on either side of him who will come help him. Alternatively we could do something with signal torches or something.

First steps would be to go to the taverns and inns around town, as well as through the streets seeking volunteers by relaying the recent news while assuming a properly confident and authoritative tone to hopefully avoid inducing mass panic. We could set up anybody as the main commander (perhaps the ranking churchman in Stavenger would be a good choice, if he's willing), or take that role ourselves (myself, if necessary).

In the morning we should try to find the Burghermeister and tell him where the tomb is, though it might be difficult to catch up with him if he and his men are on horses.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Woah, hold on there, partner.

There are a lot of 4th+ levels in Stavanger; you're NOT responsible for protecting the town. There are a helluva a lot of people around with the power to do that (total population in Rogaland, 26,000, that is like around 100 persons above 3rd level, most of them IN Stavanger). Chances are, the fellow just happened to come in at a time when the immediate guard were managing some problem, not because all the guard in Stavanger went on a short trip.

Moreover, the recent news is already pouring from tavern to tavern as we speak. No doubt someone will be on their way to the Burghermeister in short order, long before morning.

Also, the point in having a sage ability is so that you can't "make do with bizarrely high charisma." Forget it. You can't cast a spell with a bizarrely high intelligence, either. You need training!

Engelhart Askjellson said...

Uhm, cut me out of all that planning, fellas. I'm not up to fessing up to any damn thing. You're looking at a mighty cozy time in the gaol or a straight hanging. Even more so when I cannot rationalize our fault in all this in a definite fashion, co-occurrence not equating causation and all that.

We should try to shut it down or contain it, yes, but looking for the mercy of people under siege, well that has all sorts of bad precedents attached.

Other affairs - I cast Cure Light Wounds on Embla as soon as able (we're still in the evening of the same day as last post, as I understand). It'll be for 5 points.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Yes, that's correct on the day, Engelhart. It is still the 3rd of May.

Embla Strand said...

Engelhart, we were on the frontlines of Christianity against the lurking threats of the Druidic menace. That some danger has emerged from them is tragic, but only further displays the dangers of these sites, which should be plundered and defaced by good Christians for the public good. I really think we should tell someone. Plus, the apothecary knows where we got the book - I'm sure he can put two and two together. Not fessing up will make it look like we had some malevolent motivation behind our silence.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

Yes, I'd forgotten about the apothecary. Still in favour of trying an expedition to the barrow first, rather than face the hangman's noose. I just don't think an approach of "gee wiz, we sure are sorry!" is going to fly.

If bad comes to worse, we _could_ always spin the tale a bit sideways. Tell the folks we were exploring when we first saw these critters coming out from a hole in the ground, first hand. No need to entangle ourselves with no magic altar tampering or anything that would implicate us directly.

Lothar Svensson said...

I think if we led off with "here we are trying to fix a mistake" it might fly, especially if we are the first ones to tell him we're the ones who did it. My thought is we should go track the Burghermeister down, tell him or side of the story, and then tell him we plan to go back to the barrow and try to shut it down. He may send some men with us (to make sure we do it, so he knows where to go if we die, to arrest us if we're lying), so everyone wins. There are ways to tell (magically) if we are telling the truth, so as long as we are forthright in wanting to deal with the froggy menace, we should be ok.

Pandred said...

I gotta say I agree with Engelhart here. If one of our hirelings had unleashed this kind of hell on us, I'd have already found a way to get rid of them. There are dozens of people dead here. We do NOT want to let everyone in the area know it might be our fault.

Priority one has to be getting back to the barrow though. Our camp was right on the edge of the lake. Why, if the frogs were disturbed by our plundering Mimmarudla, did we not get ambushed? By all rights, we should have been dead-center in frog country where we rested.

The frogs didn't care about weather for their attack, but it forced us to break camp to return home heavily injured. They could have had us at literally any time, and there is not a single thing we could have done.

Let's get another donkey, because I can lead two. Let's head out in the morning, with one last Cure under our belts.

We finish with the Barrow monster, and when we've sacked Mimmarudla once and for all, we scour the lake for the frogmen camp, and return to Stavanger as goddamn heroes who plundered some pagan tombs and found their barbarous enclave.

Then we get to ride alongside the Prince as the heroic adventurers that we are, instead of a gang of very sorry children who were playing where they shouldn't.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Just one point about your logic there, Pandred.

You didn't rest. Remember? You came back to the camp and decided the weather was going to be bad, so you packed up that same afternoon and headed for Stavanger.

I want to have Bergthora ask a question here. "Why do we keep assuming that the beast was the only thing behind the door? Engelhart made that theory about there being a bunch of different beasts, each represented by a statue. What if there were a lot of frogs back there too, and the four we killed were just the ones in that room? What if we woke up hundreds of frogmen when we touched the book?

And if that's the case, wouldn't it be probable that the barrow is, right now, crawling with frogmen? Could we even get near the dungeon, much less just walk in again and kill the beast? Am I crazy here?"

Pandred said...

The Prince is south, the barrow is south. If it IS crawling with frogs roving the country on a murder-spree, then we've got a prime opportunity to lead the bigwigs in the right direction.

That still doesn't mean we need to say we cracked it open ourselves.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

Alright, lets go twist the burgher's ear with a _version_ of our tale and upturn Mimmarudla with backup. It's fair to admit that this is bigger than us.

I turn in for the night.

Lothar Svensson said...

So we have a plan for tomorrow, yes? Try to find the Burghermeister, tell him "something" (we can discuss exactly what tomorrow), and then head to the barrow.

It's enough of a plan for me, so I turn in too.

Lothar Svensson said...

To Bergthora: We know that there is at least one beast behind the door, though I don't think we were assuming it was the only thing. The creators of the tomb seemed intent on keeping it at bay for whatever reason, so presumably the others, if there are others, will be similarly isolated. And after we have dealt with them in turn we should be able to put an end to the frog-monsters topside. It seems to me that the attacks around Stavenger have originated from the lake, so probably the frogs now on the loose were being held at the bottom of the lake, as I don't see how they could have clawed their way through the door so quickly and followed us from inside the tomb itself. Those are my thoughts anyhow. If the barrow is indeed crawling with frogmen, hopefully the Burghermeister will send some men with us to aid us in our endeavor.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

Lothar: they had an expressway out (and in), in the form of the small tunnel draining away from the basin at the bottom of the descending chamber.

Makes one wonder if releasing the beast might not be the right move in the end. Could well be a predator of their kind, and if it were under their control, well, that might actually explain the chaos at the farmstead.

Pandred said...

Either way, I'll join my companions in resting up.

I have serious levels of hype right now for riding out into Frogaland.

Embla Strand said...

[That was terrible. Well done.]

I also turn in for the night.

Alexis Smolensk said...

[I wish I had thought of it. Agreed, it was well done]

Alexis Smolensk said...

I've put up a new post.