Monday, July 12, 2010

Gentlemen ...

I think it is time to admit this.  I think that I must end these campaigns.

More and more the commitment on my part has been waning, particularly since my workload has been increasing steadily at my job, which I started five and a half months ago.  I have less time at work to play.  I'm finding that, when I am home, I have no interest in the campaign at all.  That, I must accept, is a sign.

I have been pressing myself to write the fiction I wish to write more regularly, with a thousand words a day; I started a novel on the 1st of April, which I've just finished.  I am 13,000 words into a second novel.  That's the dedication that I applying to that venture.  That is the reason I'm not running an online campaign at home.

In many ways, I'm running out of time.

So let me wrap up.

Symeon, I don't fault you; obviously something was keeping you from posting through the day, and I was having trouble finding a thread for you to follow.  I was going to give you a vision from drinking the water, that would show you finding a young boy, and sneaking him north along the coast to an uncertain place (that would turn out to be Chalcidice), while he protected a copper bowl (the womb) that was capable of restoring life to the dead.  In other words, I was reduced to giving you a quest, with no definite rule about whether you'd undertake it.  I suppose it wasn't the best of ideas.

Andrej and Avel, it turned out that the two of you were also on a quest, though I did hope it was voluntary.  Chgowiz was meant to join you again; he did roll up a character two weeks ago, but with the exception of explaining that he was delayed by life, he hasn't spoken to me.  I feel he would have joined, but even so I think we've all gotten a bit tired of trying to make this happen through the computer.

My plan was to show that Albert was, in fact, a cousin of Eberhardt Hornung; that on some level, he did have the right to ask for rent, and that there would be some difficulty in legality.  I hoped somehow to encourage him and the party to take on this enormous beast, which was going to wander around for weeks if necessary, tearing down trees, knocking over shacks, whatever was necessary to get the party involved.  I don't know exactly how you would have killed it, but that wasn't my problem.

But it's all over now.  I wish you all well, I know I'm leaving you in the lurch and so on.  I hope there was some enjoyment.  All in all, however, it is no substitute for a real campaign.  If I were to try this on line again, I would do it through some system where we could meet online on a given evening, and play real time.  I don't see that happening anytime soon.  I am, however, leaving it on a shelf, so you may not want to destroy your characters.

I will be continuing with the Tao of D&D, and I will be available as before for feedback.

So long, and be well.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Inside the Keep

Friday, June 27, 1650

I will describe the principal condition of the gatehouse.

As can be seen, there are three levels, not including the tower. As said, the road runs alongside the highest level, which is reached by a set of stairs that are ten feet wide and six feet from top to bottom. The floor below, would be reached from a set of stairs immediately to the left of the main entrance, the side opposite to that shown in the picture.

For simplicity, let us refer to the highest principal floor as the “Entrance Floor”; to the floor below that as the “Service Floor”; and finally, to the lowest floor as the “Cellar.”

Each floor is, in the main, 24’ long and 16’ wide. The Entrance Floor has three windows on the side facing the viewer, which would be the SOUTH wall; these windows are, from entrance to the rear of the Gatehouse, 3’ wide, 1’ wide, and 3’ wide. Each are 5’ high. The total height of the wall surrounding the Entrance Floor is 11’ high. There are two windows on the EAST wall, opposite to the entrance, which is on the WEST wall. These windows are each 2’ wide and 5’ high. There are two windows on the NORTH wall, respectively 1’ wide and 3’ wide, each 5’ high and arranged oppositely to the narrow and wide window shown, with the 2’ space between them. The Entrance Floor has no roof. There is a chimney that rises in the SW corner, but this chimney at present does not rise above the wall, and cannot be seen. The floor is sturdy, but water damaged from open roof.

Where the stairs descend to the Service Floor, there is an iron ladder fixed into the wall that leads to the bell tower. The Belltower is 5’ square, and stands 18’ above the wall of the Entrance Floor, or 29’ feet above the top step of the entranceway, or 35’ above the road. As can be seen, it has 8 windows surrounding it, each 1’ wide and 3’ high. There is a bell that remains in the belfry, that is 18” in diameter and in great need of cleaning and polishing. It has no rope, and a quick inspection suggests that the wooden frame holding the bell may need to be replaced. The ladder leads to a single ‘roost’ inside the tower, which is 4 and one half feet in diameter, with an open hold for the ladder and a 1’ wide hole in the center for the bell rope. So it is quite cozy, but large enough for two thin archers using short bows, or one archer using a long bow or crossbow of any size.

The Service Floor corresponds in size to floor above, and is partly buried into the hill. As pictured, the dark area on the wall on the left that might appear to be a window is in fact a door, 6’ high and 3’ wide. Otherwise there is again the narrow window and the wider window, the same dimensions as the floor above. The windows on the NORTH wall also correspond to those of the floor above. The door is oak, perhaps 4” thick and reinforced; but at the moment, is in swollen condition, and cannot be budged.

The Service Floor may have once corresponded to a kitchen, focused around the oven in the SW corner, next to the door. The state of the overall room is moderately dry, the floor above being waterproofed with sap by the Gypsies. This is where the peat has been processed, with the oven being lit in wet weather to keep the room dry. At present most of the prepared peat is laid out at the base of the stairs, to carry up to the entranceway when the time comes ... the damper peat is towards the oven.

The Service Floor also has an ‘Alcove’, a 5’ by 7’ space which extends out from the EAST wall, which seems to have been built so as to cover the well which extends downwards, perhaps 40’. It is difficult to tell, as a light does not shine upon the water below. However, there is water down there, of unknown quality. The winch and pulley system are worthless, and there’s no bucket. The well is square shaped, 3’ square, with thus a 2’ space on either side of it. As can be seen, there are two windows on the north and south walls of the Alcove.

The Cellar is reached by another iron ladder, in the NE corner, with a hole in the floor somewhat larger than the bell tower - about 4’ by 5’. There was at one point a winch on the ceiling above the hole, but all that is left are the brackets. A descent into the cellar shows it to be a fairly dry, cobble-stone walled space, at the moment filled with dried dirt drained from the peat. The cellar appears to be drained by a 9” diameter hole at the base of the east wall, and the floor is gently sloped (about 4 degrees) from the west wall to the south.

The walls of the gatehouse overall are 6 - 8 inches thick, of granite, the plastering almost all gone.

Likely, the gatehouse wouldn’t keep out a determined mage, but it would probably hold back a mob for awhile if it was well stocked and defended.

The view from the Belltower gives the sight of mostly forest, which appears to have newer growth closer to the gatehouse, and older growth beyond; it would appear once there was a circle of cut-down space, but this circle has overgrown in the last 7 years.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hornung's Gatehouse

Friday, June 27, 1650

Having left Thursday morning, the road does prove to be less easy, particularly after reaching to fork and thus forsaking the road to Soldau to take the track to the keep.  Track is the correct word, for in many places the road is barely wide enough for the carraige, and at times Emmanuel needs to drive while Avel and Andrej cut away enough of the brush on the sides of the road to let the wide carriage through.  There are many places where the road becomes muddy - particularly after the brief shower that occurs Friday morning.  Only once, however, do the horses need to be unhitched in order to be harnessed separately to pull the carriage out of a bog - and it is not too bad.

The land itself grows more inundated with water as you move into the valley of the Aller, and by journey's end all three of the party are muddy from the knees down, damp and quite uncomfortable.  But you do finally find - with a cotter's help - the gatehouse itself:

This is the state of repair; and the place is not abandoned or deserted.  There seem to be people here - Gypsies, you would reckon, and more than a dozen at first glance, in small makeshift huts at the bottom of the hill depicted here.  The road would run along the left side of the picture, level with the highest floor shown - with the tower than overlooking the road below.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Wednesday, June 25, 1650

So, having reaching Hildesheim Monday night, on Tuesday the carriage proceeded north, re-entering the lands of Calenburg for the second time. Upon coming to the border, the party is confronted by another patrol - one that is more friendly, more routine, who merely wants to know where the party is heading. It occurs that the party that this might be a time to ask directions to the keep, to learn (perhaps for the second time) that the place the party wishes to do is northeast of Soldau, northwest of Munster-an-der-Ortze, and southwest of Luneburn, upon the border of the Principality of Verden, that being territory retained by the Swedish crown following the end of the 30 Years War.

The party is told that they can reach their destination by means of a narrow cobbled road between Munster and Soldau; that upon that road there is a tower in disrepair that stands at a fork, and that the right fork will climb into a group of low hills and into a glen fed by nothing more than a little watercourse (not shown on the map) that is called the Aller, and that it is three miles north of a Hamlet called Winsen.

The party will reach Munster midday on Wednesday; I stop there, because it is the last point before entering into the forest.  So if there are any last things desired, now would be the time to purchase them.  It can be seen from the map that the area being entered is somewhat wild, deciduous forest; the picture is of the Aller River, but it would not likely be maintained this well at the time of the game.  I include it here to identify the size.

(OOC:  I do not have a table generated for prices, but in this case I think we can be flexible, in the interest of keeping the campaign moving, and assume that the prices will change when I can generate the table (my tables are in disarray because I am trying to add Norway and the Low Countries to them).  So please use the last table I generated, and presume that the only things available are those found at the 'Town Market.'  As a sidenote, I like that I can select certain tables to be used for small towns, keeping the unrestricted table for use in the large, market cities.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Heights of Mt. Ossa

Monday, June 9, 1650

Aric will strike out for the slopes of Mt. Ossa, taking pathways that are steep and not that well travelled. By early afternoon, the two of you have climbed to a place where Symeon is able to see a considerable distance across the plain below, eight or ten miles to the horizon.

“Symeon,” will say Aric. “I have heard you speak of Greece as a single entity, and while I understand this thinking, I cannot say that I condone it. Greek thought has never been a single land or had a solitary existence. It has existed as slave, servant and master in a hundred lands, and whatever the political nature of its people, the ideas are not bound by mere soldiers or kings.

“You have said you wish Greece to be free. When has this land ever been free? We were Byzantines and the land was soaked with blood as usurper slaughtered king over and over. We were Roman and still there was blood. We were many independent cities and always, again, blood. And now you would raise more armies and drench the ground with more blood, to gain what? To make the land free. It is only land, Symeon. It does not breathe, it does not feel pain, it knows nothing of whose armored feet tread upon it, nor does it care. Think not of the land, but of the people in it, of the spirits that have dwelt here for ages upon ages, reaching back into the depths of time. When blood is what they want, they will call for it. If it satisfies them to have the land in the hands of the Turks, we cannot bring about a change.

“We must worry ourselves with those things that are in our grasp. We must keep chaos from breaking loose the bonds that keep it held ... the chaos that those bandits down there, who share your views, would release upon the land. Stop, now, and look out at the plains below. Do they seem ill at ease, or do they seem at peace. The land blossoms, food grows, children laugh and play, all is as it should be. Put aside this anger, and find instead peace yourself.”

It would be the character’s nature to ignore all this, but I will point out that when Symeon does look out at the plain, he DOES feel a sense of peace ... this would be a sight he would rarely see, and it would be compelling and even, if we must use a magic phrase for it, suggestive. So he may stuff all that down if he wishes, but he must admit to himself that the world is a beautiful place.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Gottingen-Hildesheim Road

Monday, June 23, 1650

To begin with, please note that a week has passed.  This is in keeping with the party's desire to 'move things along,' as it were.  Nevertheless, I shall try to give an overview of the time that's passed.

Last Tuesday, the party left Nuremberg - a very large city, comparable to Munich, with many tens of thousands of people, heavy traffic, many goods pouring through the town gates and so on.  The party had been to Zurich, which would have been larger, so this is not the first truly large town the party has seen ... but still, it must be noted that the urbanization was very significant.  Again, with other areas the party has travelled before, farming throughout the area is intense, with many manor houses and castles.  I myself am glad that this is more definite now, as determined by my new mapping structure.

Climbing out of the valley of the Main, the party grows aware of the diminishing population as they travel west, through Nivenstadt, and then into the Frankenwald, an area of untouched nature.  It is very different from the forests of Switzerland; here the woods are idyllic, suggestive of tales Avel or Andrej may have heard of mythical woodlands, where faeries might dwell.  While the beauty of Switzerland is to be found in the staggering scale of its mountains, here the beauty is in the flowered slopes, the glittering lakes and white-water rivers, and in the spectacular greenery - this is one of the lushest areas that anyone in the party may ever have seen.  Emmanuel is quite moved by it.

Last Wednesday, the party rode down out of the Frankenwald and onto the farmlands surrounding Kitlingen and Wurzburg; they would have met some traders or other travellers, also on their way to Frankfurt, particularly as they would have been a delay at the Kitzlingen bridge over the Main River.  They pass the fork north to Schweinfurt, and arrive in Wurzburg in mid-afternoon.  Some time is required arranging for passage, but barges are leaving daily now with metal ores for the Rhine valley (copper, iron, zinc), for the river's flood period is past and there are now five good months of river trafficking before the winter returns.

Last Thursday, the party relaxed as they wound their way down the Main River towards Frankfurt, passing through the region called Unterfranken, or Lower Franconia; the forest here is thicker, more overgrown with brush and brambles - and in some places from the river the party can see evidence of fens or even wetter marshland - and there is a certain gratefulness that it is all being passed upon the water, and not by road.  Nightfall brings the sight of Ascapha, where the barge - carrying a load of young dairy cattle - is pulled to shore.

Last Friday, after Hanau on the right bank and Offenbach on the left, where the land again becomes purely agricultural, around midday, the Main River reached the city of Frankfurt.  The sight of it astounds the party.  Frankfurt, and the other cities surrounding it, represent a mass of people unlike anything the party has imagined.  There are 450,000 people in Frankfurt ... a huge, engorged city that has far surpassed the boundaries of its walls, so that houses, workshops, warehouses and fishing docks sprawl along both sides of the Main.  The barge lets you off outside of Frankfurt itself, and it takes hours of walking to finally emerge from the never-ending populace - one of the great factories of Europe, where the world is supplied with goods made in this place and poured outwards into the basin of the Mediterranean, across northern Europe and as far away as the New World.

It is with a sense of escape that the party is able to reach the Free City of Friedberg before the end of the day - an area of mixed agriculture, still civilized but far less frenetic in its pace.

Last Saturday, the party made its way north towards - without reaching - the town of Fritzlar, but in fact moving from the south region of Hesse into the north.  Hesse is divided into two 'Houses', that of Darmstadt and that of Cassel ... it is into the lands belonging to the latter house that the party reaches by late Saturday.  At one point, the road to Bingen, through Wetzlar, was passed, and since that time the amount of traffic has increased - though truth be told, the road north out of Frankfurt has never for a moment been empty.  There are many dozens upon any half-mile stretch of it, each group walking along in the wake of the one before.

Last Sunday, after passing through Cassel and thence to Gottingen, the traffic upon the road becomes much diminished.  Most have turned west towards Paderborn and the Duchies of Marck and Berg that lie in that direction.  In Gottingen, as the party camps upon the north side of the city, they find that even more of the traffic has moved east, towards Magdeburg and Thuringia.

And so today, Monday, as the party proceeds north to Hildesheim, the Weser River a few miles to the east, skirting along the edge of the Harz Mountains and into the Salzgitter Hills, a densely wooded, rolling land with many streams and outcroppings of rock, full of birch, willow and alder trees.

As I say, it is this country through which you are walking, a part of the Principate of Calenburg, the precise political entity where you have striven to reach (though you are in a southern arm of the principality), when upon the road ahead comes six guardsmen (some fifty yards away and on the road), wearing the livery of the principality (you would recognize it from having seen the coat of arms in Gottingen the day before), not hurrying in the least.  They stop, however, upon seeing the party upon the carriage, and make motions to wave the carriage down.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Palatinate, SE of Nuremberg

Monday, June 16, 1650

You did, effectively, remain in Eichstatt an extra day while trying to find an appropriate person to identify the books you received from Robur.  And so now it is early afternoon as you travel the road to Nuremberg, joining with the main route towards your destination again.  The main road is well travelled - you regularly come across others heading south, and with the carriage you come up and overtake people upon the road in singles or in groups every hour.

The country you are moving through becomes a dense forest after rejoining the road SE of Nuremberg.  The number of people here that are not on the road drops off very quickly, and any farm cut along the side of the road - or sign of a castle or manor - becomes quite rare.  The land itself, from others you might ask along the way, is under the authority of 'the Upper Palatinate' ... this being a group of semi-independent knights who dwell scattered through the wild lands to the east of where you are.  They are nominally vassals of Bavaria.  Many of these knights are rumored to have fought against the Turks, or against the Spanish - and certainly against the Swedes in the late war.  They are catholics and highly devout, as well as reclusive in their habits.

These knights keep this road open, for although it is a major highway, the country on either side is largely wilderness, and populated by all kinds of creatures ... many of them roaming freely and occasionally striking at isolated travellers, especially late at night.

At any rate, this being the early afternoon, the carriage is waved down by a dwarf and his companions, four other men, one of whom seems to be fairly torn up - dried blood is evident upon one of his legs.  The dwarves are wearing clothes suitable for warmth and for climbing, and have various equipment with them suitable for that purpose - crampons, ice hammers and such.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Headspace At Present

Yes, there has been a dearth of posts here lately ... and I am afraid I cannot put it down only to the slightly harried work schedule lately.  Part of it is, frankly, that I am at sixes and sevens about the Delfig thing, and it makes me wonder about the effort it takes to put this campaign together.

It is less than easy to write and write out the various descriptions, and build them towards things that can be played on-line.  For the most part I enjoy myself - but it can be work, like any DM who has found himself at the beginning of a night's play who is without the 'spark' needed to make it a good one.  I start with some mornings without a lot of creativity, and I start some weeks thinking that I should chuck it.

On the other hand, it has been enormously fun, and creative, and I have even managed to teach myself some things about campaign design.

But when I find myself having contributed to the creation of something which then clearly has no respect for this campaign or for the creation itself, I cannot help but be stunned.  And of late, these last few days, the motivation has not been there.

I do not ask for advice, but I would like to know what the existing players think about the doings around here, about Delfig's suicide, about their own 'will to play' and how they have been affected by it.  It would help to get me grounded and into a head space where I could run again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Glade

Monday, June 9, 1650

Nasira will be drugged, and when she awakes it will be day; fairly early in the day by her observation.  She has been untied, and put into a chair which is set in an open glade, under a tree, hands bound behind the back and fixed to the tree itself.  She is still face stripped, but her head is covered.

Three men stand in front of her.  The mustached leader, a vaguely familiar lighter skinned man whom Nasira was certain was there last night, and a cleric.  The cleric stands furthest away, and only watches.

When they are certain she is awake - and they are not above striking her to be certain - the leader will ask a question: "Who are you, and where do you come from."

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Saturday, June 14, 1650.  Noon.

Eichstatt proves to be an unusual town - to begin with, there is no town wall. And yet there are many beautiful buildings, a huge cathedral upon a large square (the Domplatz), and several stone buildings which represent a university, a hundred years old. The streets are full of young men carrying books, with many priests and - Andrej will take note - deacons who serve as professors of the university.

There seem to be no streets featuring the usual collection of artisans. There is a town market, selling those things which may be found under that heading on an equipment list (if you wish to buy something, let me know and I’ll generate a list this evening). Rather, there are many dorms or abbeys, which themselves have kitchens, where more than nine tenths of the town eats - both student and priesthood alike.

There appear also to be as many as six sizable libraries, and many small booksellers - as the party moves through the streets, the sound of working printing presses can be heard.

Two principal roads lead from Eichstatt - one that goes north, and one that travels to the east.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Friday or Saturday, June 13 or 14, 1650

Delfig awakes, uncertain as to where he is.

To begin with, he has been stripped of most of his clothing. He has a shirt, and a loin cloth, and breeches. Nothing else. His feet are bare.

All is utter darkness. He can feel stone under his hands and against his knees. The blindness is disconcerting, as he literally cannot see his hand in front of his face. But after some minutes, he begins to perceive that the there a very narrow band of light that can be identified on his right ... he moves towards it, and finds that it is the slit under a door - he can feel the wood on this fingers, and can feel the depth of the slit. It is nothing more than a quarter of an inch. He presses his face to the floor, and cannot make his eye close enough to the floor to see through the slit. The very dim light seems steady, but he can tell nothing more about it.

An examination of the door first reveals that there is no doorknob, on either the left side of the wooden slab or the right. But after a time, Delfig finds a wooden flap, which he can lift - peering through it, he can see a gently lit hall, about ten feet long, reaching away from the door. He can see no other doors in the hall, nor any torches ... but clearly the light he sees comes from torchlight, from somewhere beyond his sight. The light of the hall is no more than one might find in a dark room on a moonless night - for the walls are not yellowed with light, but blue-black. Just enough that he can make out the shape of the hall, and its features - but nothing else.

He might call out, but no one comes. And when he surrenders the flap, and looks around him again, he will find his eyes have adjusted somewhat, to the degree that the cell he is in - for it is a cell, about 8 feet by 6 - is lit almost as well as the hall outside. The source of this light proves not only to be the door, but also an opening in the ceiling - unobserved previously. This opening is about six inches square, and by looking up through it, Delfig can see a hint of light, a reflection at best, that might be natural, although he cannot see the sky.

Delfig has nothing, nothing at all, except his clothes.

The Rough Road West

Friday, June 13, 1650

It is evening, as the sun sets, as I write this.

The west bound road continues in a generally westward direction, following the ridge over the Altmuhl Valley - which is to say that you cross many rivulets and streams, and that the road itself rolls up and down over spurs along the ridge, in a most taxing manner. The road itself is not a good one, and there are no road signs. The watercourses are too small to bar the way of the wagon, but at the same time there are no constructed bridges along the way. Every crossing is a ford, and many of them are knee-deep (and the water quite cold, despite the month - not icy, but you wouldn’t want to bathe in it). Finally, the road is full of potholes and in some places, the trees hang down and impede the carriage (a cart would go through fine, but the carriage is often too wide or too high).

You see no one else through the journey, though you travel for a day and a half.

The countryside is rough, unoccupied, but just this side of wilderland - in that there is a road, and the road is clearly travelled from time to time, as you find evidence of firepits and places where trees have been cut down with an axe. Thursday night you bed down by one of these firepits.

As the sun sets, you reach a much better road, which is cobbled and which is perpendicular to the road you are on. But what with the winding that you have experienced throughout the day, you cannot be sure if this road does go both north and south. The right, however, does appear to rise into the highlands to the north, while the south road descends into the main valley.

In the east, you see a full moon rise in the twilight, as the sun sets in the west.

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Rules for Subdual

With the addition of this post, I want to explain that I am phasing out 'subdual' attack ... I've never particularly liked it as a combat solution.  Basically, since reducing an enemy's hit points has never meant actually causing physical 'harm' to an opponent, it has always bugged me that "using the flat of the sword" was the avoidance of causing real harm when normal attacking didn't cause real harm.

It seemed equally dumb that subdual damage was 1/10th of normal, but was still treated as full damage in terms of the actual combat ... the Gygaxian solution to not having to kill your opponent, while using the same, unchanged system.

Never worked for me.

So from now on, there's no such thing as 'subdual damage.'

The system will be this:  if you don't want to cause a lot of damage, don't use your weapon, use your fist.  If you want to pull down your opponent without killing him, grapple him.  If you don't want to use your fist and you don't want to grapple, but you insist on using your weapon, well - I can't help you. Either use a smaller weapon or stop using it altogether.

For any leveled person, you can pretty much count on dropping that person into the negatives with your weapon and then easily grappling and or punching him unconscious.  For any other creature, I am instituting a policy that they will still live, but can take no action whatsoever, if reduced to -4 to 0 hit points.

Good luck.

Dachau's Rathaus

Friday, June 13, 1650

Whether Delfig intends to turn himself in upon arriving in Ingolstadt, or to wait until he reaches Dachau, the result is the same.  He will find himself standing between four guards at Dachau's North Gate.  Here he will learn that earlier the day before, another bard was found travelling north from Ingolstadt, who was brought to Dachau only three hours ago.  Upon determining definitely that this other bard was not Delfig, the bard was let go - but this is the reason why the guards who were at the Regensburg-Nuremburg crossroads suddenly disappeared.

Delfig will be brought to the Rathaus, and there he will be watched most closely, as he waits.  He is informed that the burghermeister - The Patrician Eduard Johannsen, he that was recently elected - wishes to speak with Delfig, most earnestly.  That there has been, as far as the guard knows, no crime committed ... but then, it is possible that the burghermeister could yet bring a charge - that would be within the meister's rights.

It is in the foyer of the Rathaus, in seeing a rather intricate representation of the yearly calendar, that Delfig realizes it is Friday 13th.

Robur's House

Thursday, June 12, 1650

Bringing the carriage back to the house, the party finds an area of soft loam a fair distance from the building, overlooking a small creek. The road, previously unmentioned, continues on, passing over the creek on a flat wooden bridge.

There is little else to say.  The party should take care to manage all the details for whatever they wish to do here, and then indicate where they will go next.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Road North of Ingolstadt

Thursday, June 12, 1650

There being little reason to describe again the landscape, I will say simply that Avel and Andrej have reached again the place where the overgrown road connects with the main road from Ingolstadt, via carriage.  It is getting later in the afternoon.

From where they are, it is possible to see Delfig, half a mile in the distance, making his way up the hill away to the left (heading north).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Sunday, June 8, 1650

This being Sunday, there are no Greeks upon the road, and the party makes good time towards Ossa; the road north winds around the south edge of the mountain, and by the time the party must stop for the heat of the afternoon they have reached the village. It is very little to speak of, much like the other villages I’ve mentioned - these are not towns, merely little settlements.

Looking up, it is possible to see that Mt. Ossa still has a bit of snow on it, at the very top. The village of Ossa is quiet, the residents inside and waiting for sunset (the end of sabbath) - there are no moslem villagers. There’s no one to ask for directions, but there is a road past Ossa, and a small sign that says ‘Spilia’.

Not long after the party stops for the heat, they hear the body of soldiers moving along the road towards Ossa - the sound of armor and feet approaching. The soldiers will catch up to the party quite soon, and will march through Ossa, on their way to Spilia. An exact count indicates there are thirty-four of them.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mid-Afternoon, Above the Altmuhl Valley

Thursday, June 12, 1650

Not too long after turning down the new road, the party will find that it drifts to the west and towards the south, and that the elevation gained in travelling north from Ingolstadt threatens to be quickly lost, as it is evident that this road promises to descend into the Altmuhl Valley ... several glimpses of this valley are gained in just two miles of travel.

But it is two miles from the Ingolstadt-Nuremberg road that the party stumbles across the disturbing scene.

The first sight is not wholly informative; where the road takes a dip and turns to the left, about twenty yards beyond - below a stout apple tree, and partly concealed by it - the party can see the torn body of a horse.  It appears to be quite dead.  Just beyond, there is a body hung over a fence stile, on its side and facing away from the party.  The body is covered with blood, but there is something familiar about it.

Now, it should be understood that all is relative silence.  There are a few birds, and a gentle wind, but no indication at all that anything has happened, except for this awful sight.

Near Sunset, Namata Crossroads

Saturday, June 7, 1650

The party knows well enough to leave very early in the day, before the sun rises. To travel to Mt. Ossa, the party must first travel west, along the road to Larisa, for this road passes through a deep pass that leads from Golos to the plain of Larisa. The road is heavily travelled ... this is one of the principal routes into the heart of Greece, moving traffic towards Trikkala and Epirus. Upon emerging from the pass, the plain is spread out below - the plain beyond is huge, twenty miles in diameter, and is a rich, flat cultivated plain full of orchards, vinyards and pastures. The land is thoroughly irrigated, and heavily populated ... it is possible to see a hundred peasants at a time, nearby, cutting branches, tying vines in the fields or scything out the undergrowth beneath pear and plum trees.

To the east you can see a long ridge extending north and west from Mt. Pilion, which is behind you and to the right. Two little mountains, the names of which you don’t know, rise on your left, to the west. Mt. Ossa is ahead, in the distance, looking quite magnificent. Following the Thessaly road for another ten miles, you turn at the sign that directs you to Mt. Ossa, and through the small village of Melissa. In Melissa the party must stop, and siesta for several hours ... it is just too hot to travel. By four in the afternoon, the sun has moved well past the zenith and the party can advance forward.

Beyond Melissa, the road leads to another village named Namata - where there is a wide irrigation ditch, thirty feet across - and a crossroads, from Larisa to the east, leading through the gap between the aforementioned ridge and Mt. Ossa ... which is now much larger. The immensity of the mountain is stunning - six thousand feet above the party, a huge disc like a shield, ten miles across.

Upon the crossroads there are thirty soldiers, laying about, resting ... apparently waiting for orders. They are gathered together in groups of two to four, eating fruit, cleaning their weapons or their clothing, chatting or sleeping ... there are none sparring. This is now quite late, and the sun will set within ten or twenty minutes - it is quite hot.

What actions might Nasira and Symeon take?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Midday, Golos

Friday, June 6, 1650

Symeon and Nasira return to Golos, arriving there about midday.  Naturally, Symeon will look towards his trusted sailor (whose name, I believe, hasn't been set yet), to find if there has been any news.  There hasn't been; a new ship has come into the harbour from Chalkis, and is unloading, but there are no special tales about it ... it is carrying dates and almonds.  The small Turkish resident force in Golos has broken up a wedding, and there have been some harsh words - threats and the like.  But little else.

The sailor, whatever his name is, asks permission to take the boat out during the day, to fish.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Noon, North of Ingolstadt

Thursday, June 12, 1650

Making your way along the road to Nuremburg, about three hours north of Ingolstadt a group of four men, in the livery of soldiers of Upper Bavaria, mounted, appear behind you upon the road.  They are thundering their way along, moving very quickly.  Naturally there is some concern ... which passes quickly when the four men, without so much as a glance, ride around the carriage on both the left and the right and continue down the road.  The party sees them climb a slope to the top, and then drop down and out of sight.

Some sense of relief comes over the party, but at this time I find that I must stop and gather reactions.

Past Midnight, Near Zagora

Friday, June 6, 1650

The olive grove where the party had laid down is not far from the sea (the mountain comes to the sea, so nowhere to either the north or south of Zagora is far from the sea).  A distant sound first, unrecognizable, but after quite a few minutes, more and more familiar, particularly to Nasira.  It is the sound of oars, and it is moving closer.  It will awake both of you, and bring you to the edge of a low rise, to where you can look down at the beach.

The galley is perhaps eighty feet in length, and manned by twenty rowers; they are bringing the boat towards the narrow shore, where the sand is no more than a dozen yards wide.

Then, to the party's left, the sound of others moving down the slope, a fair distance away, too far to hear their voices clearly, just enough to know that they are there.  You would guess four, perhaps five, not necessarily all men.  After watching for several minutes, you see them come onto the beach - four men and a woman - just prior to the galley getting there.  Those on shore and those on the boat wave to one another.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Road North to Ingolstadt

Wednesday, June 11, 1650

The journey to Ingolstadt is relatively uneventful. Upon leaving the North Gate of Dachau, Delfig takes note that the gutted gatehouse, which he has not seen in more than a month, is filled with activity, the interior cleaned out, a pile of burnt refuse stacked nearby, laborers with brushes cleaning the stone, fresh wood piled nearby, several saw pits and the sounds of hammering. Apparently, steps are being taken to make the gatehouse more defensible, and the outlay for a tower has been started next to it.

It is mostly downhill to Ingolstadt, forcing the horses to take it slowly. The countryside is gently hilly, with thick forests broken by places where the land has been tilled. There are numbers of pig herders - quite a few in fact, and the road is consistently busy. You may speak to a few passersby, but these are farmers, or peddlars, and no one of note.

The bridge across the Danube and into Ingolstadt is immense, with a center built of wood, and large enough to allow a 20’ wide barge to pass beneath it. Three wagons could easily pass side by side. Ingolstadt is, naturally, a wall town - and to cross the bridge, you will have to pay the normal town fee (there is no other way to cross the Danube at this point.

You hear tell that Ingolstadt was the first city to hold back the Swedes during the Great 30 Years War.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Zagora, Aegean Coast

Thursday, June 5, 1650

As Symeon comes to the outskirts of the small village, not but perhaps 80 persons who depend almost wholly upon fishing for their survival, he cannot help notice that there is one woman who is quite out of place. The town is quite typically Greek - it is evening, and there are no women on the street at all.  A few late fishermen, who have pulled their boats up, are moving up the steep paths to their homes - but this woman is going nowhere.  She seems to be doing nothing but closely watching Symeon ... as though there is something interesting that she sees.

More than that, she is not a Christian - her niqab, caftan and hijab (deeply colored purple) identify her strongly as a muslim.  Symeon's natural ability to identify characteristics about people strongly suggests that she is not Greek, perhaps not even human.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The End of Delfig's Work, Dachau

Tuesday, June 10, 1650

Please take note of the date.  This is the day I calculate that Delfig is able to complete his work, and so the party will need to assess their food consumption for this period.  Note that you are relaxing, and not travelling or adventuring, and the food consumption can be as little as 1 lb. per day; you might want to pay your inn bill, also.
To my knowledge, the actual itinerary of the party's intentions is not yet known.  However, on Monday, you are contacted by an agent of Hornung - his name, he says, is Reynart.  He is diminuative, perhaps 5'4" in height, and seems to suffer from the cold, although it is a fairly warm day when he comes to see you.  He wears an expensive black linen and wool doublet, with a gold crest on the shoulder that you must recognize by now as Hornung's; he carries a leather pouch, from which he draws forth a map, two keys and ten g.p. for travel expenses - and to hire a guide if need be - if it is your interest to travel to Calenburg.

He will say that Hornung is fully aware of the crime taken against Jan, and has dispatched a fellow of his acquaintence to Bern to follow that trail ... Jan being a friend of his, and Hornung not wanting the murder to go unavenged.

What answer does the party have for Reynart?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Introduction, Golos

Thursday, June 5, 1650

The view is that of the Pagasetic Gulf, looking away from the market town of Golos towards the opposite side of the bay, with Mt. Pelion behind and stretching away to the left, to form the hook peninsula that encloses the Gulf.  Symeon Kokolas knows from growing up near here, in the town of Alos, that the peninsula and its heights are occupied by groupings of centaurs, who are standoffish but friendly to the folk on the shore.

The region is known as Magnesia, a part of Thessaly, and is under the thrall of the Ottoman Turks, who have now ruled here for almost two centuries.  It is a difficult country for Greeks who choose to remain Christian; heavy taxes are levied against them, and many rights are denied them.  Magnesia has been thoroughly subjugated ... the country gives no hint of rebellion, though there is dissastisfaction.  The people are cowed, accepting of their condition, submissive to their foreign overlords.

Earthquakes are common to the region, and light winter rains ... though Golos is a supremely sheltered harbor, and is exempt to the tsunamis that strike other parts of Greece during the winter months.  This being June, that temperature has climbed into full summer, with temperatures mildly uncomfortable most days, and the dry season has begun (except for fogs drifting from the sea or down from the mountains on some mornings, the will probably be no rain until September).

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Afternoon, Hornung's Garden

Thursday, June 5, 1650

The streets are uncommonly filled with soldiers – in some cases, town guardsmen, but more commonly with actual soldiers wearing the livery of Bavaria, dressed in either chain or scale mail (depending upon their importance), and posted at virtually every street corner. The town seems quite oppressed – the people quietly going about their business, very little in the way of smiling faces, no casual gatherings of any kind. While the party moves through the town, they are not harrassed, but it is clear that you are being closely watched by every armed individual you pass.

Hornung dwells in a large house, where Delfig has been before. Upon knocking at the gate, he will recognize a servant whom he may have remembered is named Walter. Walter’s eyes will pop open at the sight of Serafina ... whom he has never seen (saying so) but of whom he has heard a great deal (which he also says).

He shows the party to the garden ... and it is there that Hornung is walking, using a crutch under one arm and doing so with some considerable difficulty. But he does look much healthier, no longer on the edge of death.

Serafina will call, “Eberhardt,” and Hornung will turn, his face turning pale, then filling with amazement and utter joy. He will take one step towards Serafina with the cane, then abandon the cane altogether and take another step – before he can fall, she has reached him, and keeps him from doing so. They embrace, wordlessly, in utter and total love ... there have been no second thoughts, no doubts. He clearly loves her, and she loves him. Even the party members who have developed feelings for her cannot doubt that.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Return to Dachau

Thursday, June 5, 1650

It will require the rest of the day to ride the wagon to Ulm … where the party would, quite probably, wish to stay the night at the Black Bullhead. That being the case, Dietlinde the proprietor will break down in sobs upon learning the death of Jan, whom she was always in love with; she will provide the party with free rooms, will behave very well towards Serafina, but apart from the party she will close the doors of her Inn and expel the other guests. When the party sees her again, she will be dressed in clothes of mourning … the additional clothes suggesting that Dietlinde is a woman of some means.

It will require another full day to travel over the ridge and to reach Augsburg. The journey will be without any notable distraction … the party will rest for the night at the tavern that was mastered by Neil. Again, the story of Jan’s death will darkly hurt the man – though he will not act as strongly as Dietlinde did. He will also provide a night’s free lodging, in respect for the friend the party had.

And so it will be noon on Thursday when the party will come into sight of Dachau … after such a long time.

At the gate, the party will be charged three s.p. each to enter … much higher than they paid on any former occasion. The party will also be warned by the guard that ‘curfew’ will come at seven bells, and that they will want to be sure to be indoors by that time.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Antelope Campaign, To June 1650

The following is a general description of the last three weeks of the campaign – comments on this post are all considered OOC (out of campaign) and anyone may feel free to contribute.

Starting with Monday, May 12, the party was leaving Augsburg on its way from Dachau to Ulm, with the intention of fetching a woman Serefina from a monastery in Sion, a small region in the south part of what would be modern Switzerland. The party consisted of Delfig and Andrej, with NPCs Friar Jan and their servant Emmanuel.

On the way to Ulm, the party encountered a white stag pursued by a wolf; they killed the wolf, but lost sight of the stag. Upon reaching Ulm, they stay the night at the Black Bullhead Inn.  They turned south towards Lindau on Lake Constance, to make their way into the Swiss Confederation ... and discovered that the stag they had seen was following them. They met various people on the route, including a group of criminals, the threat of dangerous humanoids and a boatmaker on his way with his family.

A day north of Lindau, Father Jan attempted to approach the stag, and was attacked; the stag fled, and Jan recovered.

In Lindau, arrangements were made to take a boat on the Rhine River ... the journey was splendid, a little worried with weather, but by various means the party did reach Olten (by leaving the Rhine and ascending the Aar River. In Olten, they discovered a carriage service that would take them to Lausanne, on Lake Geneva.

On the carriage, they met a brother and his sister, M. and Mme. Herieux. He was quite a smooth talking fellow, but his sister never said a word.

Not far into the journey, they passed a fire at an inn near Langenthal, a small town off the main road – Delfig and Andrej, at great threat to their life, were able to save eleven people from the fire ... making them heroes of the town. While the town wanted to celebrate their exploit, Father Jan made plans to continue to Lausanne by carriage. And while M. Herieux made great hay of Delfig and Andrej’s exploit, unbeknowst to the party Herieux’s sister had continued on with Father Jan.

In Langenthal, Delfig and Andrej exposed M. Herieux as a charlatan and possibly a thief, but he escaped. They made all haste, blocked at many turns, in an attempt to warn Father Jan – but found him murdered north of Bern ... quite likely by Mme Herieux.  They learned of the investigation, but there was little they could do.  They mourned in Bern for their friend.

Continuing their journey sorrowfully, they passed through Lausanne and Montreaux. They encountered the player Avel along the way. They left Switzerland and entering the Prince-Bishopric of Sion ... finally reaching the town of Sion at last. Bringing their mission’s purpose to Serefina, they found her quite willing to go with them. They provisioned a carriage that she possessed, and from there made their way over the Furka Pass to the east, and into the eastern Swiss Republic again.

On the Furka Pass they were attacked by a hippogriff, and by chance discovered clues to a treasure – an amulet, a helmet and a coin. Upon descending the pass by the correct road, they reached the little wealthy town of Altdorf – where they heard a tale about the Furka pass which Serefina mistook for an omen.

Once they had reassured her that there was nothing to fear, the party returned through Zug, Zurich and Buchhorn, where they took another road to Ulm.

It was here they encountered the white stag again ... and found that it had a wretched creature riding upon it, invisible to all except Serefina – until Delfig began to play. At that point, everyone seeing the creature, they began to fight it. This brings us up to date.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Afternoon, Combat Upon The Road To Ulm

Tuesday, June 3, 1650

Taking up the combat in the middle ...

Delfig returns to his playing, and sure enough the horrid creature flashes back into visibility.  It has gone off the road, and stands in the woods about ten feet from the road's edge, amid a group of aspen.  It is grasping a tree for support, and will look at its own hand as though to understand that it is visible.

Andrej is slightly closer to it than Serafina, and both have their weapons drawn.  Emmanuel will come scuttling out from beneath the carraige, dragging rope and holding a bag of flour the size of a bread loaf.  Avel, if he is here today, is about twenty five feet behind the creature (in the woods), and up until this time unobserved.  (We may assume he is fighting with himself as to whether to take action or not).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Afternoon, Road North To Ulm

Tuesday, June 3, 1650

The weather continues to be sour, but the except for some drizzle in the morning, it doesn't rain.

The road north from Buchhorn follows a steady climb, and by ten in the morning you pass by Ravensburg, a large, walled town.  Soon after, without being certain when, the countryside begins to look familiar - but it not until you reach Biberach-an-der-Riss that you realize that you're back walking on the road you used to leave Germany.  At some point they joined, but you're not certain when (there are many forks in the road along the way).  You must cross the Riss again, still being 5 c.p. pieces each.  I believe that before you were not charged for the animals ... but the carriage this time will be a 5 s.p.

You recognize the hovel where you stayed last time once you are on the other side, 18 days ago.  It is about one in the afternoon when you leave Biberach behind, and now you find yourself near the place where previously you were concerned about grimlocks.

It is about that time, about two in the afternoon, when the party sees the white stag, certainly the same as before, walk slowly from the woods to stand at the side of the road.  To describe it again: it is quite a large beast, with horns that are, this early in the season, about four points.  It is pale white all over.  At present, it is about forty yards forward of the party.

Serafina will ask, "What is that?"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Evening, Buchhorn

Monday, June 2, 1650

This is presuming that you travel through Sunday (I made sevaral comments about it, and at best got a subtle suggestion from Andrej that you were going to ignore the sabbath – Serafina has no trouble with it). If there’s a change in mind about that, I’ll update this post as necessary.

Through both days it rains fitfully, most of Sunday afternoon and through the night on Sunday.

Through the first day of travelling, five miles from Zug you’ll pass the town of Horgen, before reaching the enormous city of Zurich. This would be the largest city that, quite probably, any member of the party has seen (larger than Munich, even); though when Serafina was a child, she once saw Milan. You can’t begin to estimate the population, but many tens of thousands, certainly. The surrounding environs are filled with manor houses, castle-keeps and blockhouses, not to mention inns and taverns, so there’s no need to pay the gold piece necessary to enter the town unless you wish to explore. It is certainly a place where you might find or learn anything you wish, as Zurich is not only a huge financial capital, but an important scholarly centre, also.

That same day you climb over a series of low hills to the town of Winterthur, where you spend the night (same costs as Zug for entering the town and spending the night). The town is surrounded by a moat and towers, but is neverthless very picturesque. As it is under the nominal authority of Zurich, it has no market, nor does it especially cater to merchants; but the townspeople treat the party well enough.

(OOC: Some Napoleonic buffs might remember the town for an important battle due to take place 249 years in the future).

The second day of travel, you wake to find the surrounding country in fog, which persists for the whole morning.

You find yourself falling in with a group of acrobats who are travelling to Stuttgart; they explain that you need not take the route through Constance, which will be very expensive, but that you can bypass the lake by crossing the Rhine river at Stein – I know the party would deliberate, but as a DM I know nothing will happen, and you will come to the same place either way. Stein is vaguely recognizable ... you passed it when you were travelling down the river on May 18, two weeks and a day ago. 3 c.p. each for yourselves and your two animals will get you ferried across the Rhine. You’ll reach Stein about one in the afternoon. By this time the fog has begun to lift.

From Stein you’re able to find a road to Uberlingen, swinging around the two principal west reaches of Lake Constance, where the country gets a little wild again (for most of two days you will be travelling past small farm after small farm, most of them no larger than 20 to 40 acres in size. Waving to peasants and other travellers has become almost tiresome.

Rain has continued sporadically through the afternoon. You say goodbye to the acrobatic troop at Uberlingen (Delfig will have shared some notes, possibly would have learned how to juggle three balls – roll dex check). From there, five hours on the road will get you to Buchhorn as the sun goes down, about 9 p.m. If you enter the town, it will cost you a s.p. each (it is a Free City), and two s.p. each for the animals ... but the inn where you stay will be the same cost as it was in Zug or Winterthur. The rain has stopped entirely, but the ground throughout is sopping.

The north road will lead the party to Ravensburg and to Ulm; the east road leads to Lindau, the road with which you are familiar – but it would be the longer road home. The north road will meet the road north of Lindau.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sundown, Zug

Saturday, May 31, 1650

Following a winding road out of the principal Alps, the party descends some hundreds of feet along the river valley.  Much of the afternoon is taken with following the edge of an immense, beautiful lake on the west.  Later you will climb out of that valley, then into another where, before nightfall, nine o'clock, you'll finally reach the little town of Zug, upon Lake Zug, below a small mountain rising 1,500 ft. above the town.  A sign on the road pointing at the mountain designates it 'The Zugerberg.'

Zug has a wall, and will cost 5 c.p. each to enter if the party wishes to find a bed for the night; the animals will also cost 5 c.p.  An inn room will be a s.p. each, and stabling for each animal 2 s.p. each.  Travel gets expensive.

Andrej, the party will need to eat a pound and a half of food each, though they might choose to buy food at the Inn (the cost is listed on the Zurich Innkeeper's table (from the file sent last night).  Tomorrow, Sunday, will be a market day, if people would like to buy goods here in Zug, where most everything on the list will be available.  It will take a half day to travel to Zurich, so it would be possible to travel there and still enjoy the market day.
Buying in Zug or Zurich will cost the party half a day's travel.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Afternoon, Altdorf

Saturday, May 31, 1650

With the afternoon, the party gathers together in the common room on the main floor of the Chamois Inn. Andrej explains to the others what he’s heard. Serafina is in her room, by last observation sleeping.

While the difficulty is discussed, I should also bring up the matter that tomorrow is Sunday. What’s more, since today the party is not travelling, if they don’t begin to do so later today, they will heal a hit point, resting. They can also reduce the amount of food they must eat to 1 lb. each.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Daybreak, Altdorf

Saturday, May 31, 1650

As the sun has risen (the mountains hide the true dawn), and Emmanuel is packing the carriage, you discover that Serafina is refusing to go on.

"You do not understand," she explains, when questioned.  She sounds quite controlled, not like last night.  "It is not the thing itself, it has nothing to do with the so-called curse on the treasure.  It is that the story about the girl is clearly related to the objects that Brother Andrej found.  We were destined to find those things, to tell me what I have suspected; that my Eberhardt does not know his own mind.  According to friend Delfig's story, he was bedridden and broken ... this is a sign, not a curse.  It matters not whether we take those relics with us or not, it is that I and this spurned daughter from centuries ago are tied together somehow.  That is why I cannot go."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Near Midnight, Valerio's Tale

Friday, May 30, 1650

“There was a great King, the last King of his kingdom, the great kingdom of the Po called Lombardy. This King was a powerful man, a ruthless man ... when there was a duke who claimed the right to this King’s kingdom, this King had the duke’s eyes put out, and his hands cut off, and his feet cut off. And then he did the same to fifty men who were the duke’s men, and a thousand other men besides were put to the sword, though they were not cut apart, for they were only common men. Such was this King’s heartlessness.

Now, the King had a beautiful daughter, whose voice was that of songbirds, and who’s skin was like that of the finest marble; she was a very uncommon girl, this daughter, and she had many suitors, both princes and other kings, who would marry this daughter and align their lands with the King of our story. They promised to give the King armies and navies that he might attack his neighbors ... and they promised to give the King riches, that he might build palaces and churches to the glory of God ... and they promised the King wisdom, that the King might grow wise and might live centuries longer – but the King spurned every offer, and denied every gift. And so the princes and kings of other lands went away and said to themselves, “This King must love his daughter, and that is why he will not part with her.”

Ah, but this is not so my friends, for the King truly felt nothing for his daughter. Though she might have the truest heart, though she might be the most beautiful woman in the world – and there were those who said she was – it meant naught to this King, except as the bargain he desired, a bargain that his children might own the world. For this King did desire to marry his daughter off – to none other that the greatest lord of Europe, the Emperor Charlemagne.

Charlemagne had never seen this daughter, but he had heard of her. He had not asked for her, and when the King of our story sent messengers to Charlemagne telling of the daughter’s perfect hands, and her perfect feet, and her perfect eyes, and her perfect lips, Charlemagne was not moved, and did not call for the daughter.

The King of our story would not relent. He built a great army, not with which to attack Charlemagne, or to attack his neighbors, but to wage war on his own kingdom, to gather together a great dowry, a dowry that would compel Charlemagne to marry the King’s daughter. Every soul in the kingdom was stripped of wealth, every coin, every jewel, every trinket and every ornament was seized. Hundreds upon hundreds were put to the sword by the king’s army, until at last the people relented and brought everything they owned of value to the King. And all this that was brought was gathered together and loaded onto a line of wagons that reached from the eye to the horizon. In this my friends, I tell the truth.

Now the King did not put his daughter at the front of this line, but instead he put her in the largest wagon, at the very end, that Charlemagne might see all the treasure the King was sending and his heart would be softened. And so the mighty horde began its way north, over the Alps, and into the empire of Charlemagne.

Now, while the King had waged war on his own kingdom, he had not thought about the Church, or what was due to God. When the good fathers saw the devastation that had been wrought upon Lombardy, they devised a plan. Charlemagne was a very holy man, and if it became known to him through what sins this daughter was presented, no amount of gold would soften Charlemagne’s good heart. So they sent a party of three men, who reached Germany before the King’s wagons. Very quietly and very cleverly they gave Charlemagne a dream, in which Charlemagne saw all that had passed, and all that was passing.

When Charlemagne woke, he gathered together his closest men and rode south – and in the mountains, he turned back the monstrous horde, and the daughter also, refusing even to look upon her. He refused her my friends, however beautiful she might have been, for what value does a woman have if a man must sell his soul to have her?

And Charlemagne leveled a great curse upon the gold, that it should be lost forever, and that whosoever came into possession of the gold would fall, and their kingdom with them.

Now, it is said that the gold never returned to Lombardy, that a great storm drove the wagons into the highest mountains and that every soul that had tried to bring the gold to Germany had perished, and the daughter with them. But there are those who say the gold must have returned to Lombardy, for the King was the last King of Lombardy, was he not? But where is the gold, my friends, where is it? For you may ask of every family in that ancient Kingdom, and they will recall none of it ever having returned ... and you can ask of every other kingdom, but they never saw any gold. And in the end, as we well know, when the King did fall, it was by the hands of Charlemagne’s army, and it was Charlemagne who was give the title Rex Langobardorum, the King of Lombardy. There are those who say Charlemagne took the gold, and the kingdom both – but we know, don’t we my friends. We know where the gold is!”

And at this Valerio points his finger to the highest mountain. “There, it is there! And woe to him that finds it!”

Late Evening, Altdorf

Friday, May 30, 1650

The road winds down and down through steep mountains, finding its way along another river than the one you left behind, fording the river again and again in the narrow valley. As the sun drops below the tops of the mountains, the peaks glisten, turn golden, then bronze, then a dark coppery red as the valley darkens with dusk. While the sun has not yet ‘set’, it is an hour below the tops of the mountains before you arrive at Altdorf. The picture is legitimate, and close to what you’d see (except the street lights) as you came into town.

The recommended Inn, the Chamois, is a sprawling, massive chalet of three stories, with two balconies, with hearths, on the top floor, each with spectacular views of the valley. It will cost a g.p. per person per night to stay there – and rooms are scarce. Only one is available. There are many lights, and the odor of a brewery nearby, and apparently a gathering upon one of the two balconies.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Afternoon, A Fork In The Road

Friday, May 30, 1650.

The party awakes, gathers itself together and begins to move down the road into ever thickening forest.  By noon, you come to a place where a guard post and gate has been built, to take a toll upon the road.  The toll is a silver piece per person and 3 c.p. per wheel (which is 1 s.p. for a wagon, 6 c.p. for a cart).  Animals are let by for free.

Soon after the toll gate, the party will come to a fork in the road.  The left fork reads, "To Zug."  The right fork reads, "To Chur."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pre-Dawn, Down the Furka Pass

Friday, May 30, 1650

It is a race, but the party does get over the top of Furka pass an hour before sunset. As it happens, the route down proves as difficult with the carriage as the route up, as the horses must be used to check the uncontrolled progress of the vehicle, so it doesn’t get away and roll off the road. Still, the slope is less steep on the far side, and the party makes good progress. It is an hour after sunset when you find a good place to rest, at the edge of the treeline (you could not stop before that point, for reason of the following sentence). You must make a fire (the weather is nasty cold at night up here, and a fire will be necessary for survival), and you will probably eat even though it is late. Sunset is at quarter after nine p.m., so it is not quite midnight when the party settles down to sleep.

I presume watches are set. It happens that when Andrej takes his watch, he hears a distinct sound, close by, that it takes several seconds to identify.

It is Serafina, quietly sobbing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Morning, Up the Furka Pass

Thursday, May 29, 1650

As it will take a full day to reach the base of the Furka Pass, and since nothing special happens on that day, we will skip ahead to the day after, to the start of the climb.  Please take note and distribute food as necessary. 

The party can take charge of a sack of turnips (22 lbs.), and a sack holding 4 lbs. of salt pork, 3 lbs. of gorgonzola cheese and twenty hard, as yet unripe pears, all from Serafina.  She's happy to eat whatever the party eats.  There are the two kegs - not barrels, I originally said kegs - of ale also, with 12 gallons each.  Lastly, Serafina has a 10 lb. sack of a strange fruit, which Delfig is not likely to have ever tasted; Andrej might have had one or two opportunities in his journeys, and Avel would remember them from his boyhood in the Crimea.  We call them 'apricots.'

With full bellies, the party may begin their climb.  It is arduous, of course, but not immensely so - Andrej and Delfig are familiar with mountains, and Avel too ... though perhaps none quite so high.  The journey is, nevertheless, uncomfortably long.  The day is cloudy, fairly cool, which the party realizes by the afternoon is a blessing.  The road switches back and forth, back and forth, ever higher, until all and sundry are certain that the road will climb right off the top of the mountain and directly into the clouds.  Andrej is reminded of stories of Purgatory, which is a mountain that is not climbed until every sin is paid for.

He is wondering what sins he is paying for now, as the sun edges towards three in the afternoon, hoping the top of the pass will come soon so that spending the night at the top will not be necessary.  As it happens, at this moment, Andrej is in front of the party.  The carriage has slid, and been adroitly braked by Avel, whereupon he's back pedalled some twenty yards.  Delfig fell back with the carriage (to avoid being run over), while Serafina was able to press against the mountain and let the carriage slide by.

Now Avel is resting the horses for five minutes, and Andrej sees it is done well and there's no need for him to rush to calm the animals.  And besides, it is a steep twenty yards, and Andrej has already climbed it ... going down will mean climbing it again.  He is tired, and not immediately anxious to do so.

(Which is not to say the character couldn't go down ... only that he's experiencing the exhaustion that naturally comes from wearing out the body).

In any event, there is a very pleasant looking rock to Andrej's right.  He is likely eying it, to sit down, when a sound comes that is not rock scraping upon rock.  It is, however, scraping.

Mid Afternoon, Sion

Tuesday, May 27, 1650

All is bound up, packed, made ready and set to go.  The town clock has not yet struck 3 p.m., the sun promises three hours of daylight and Serafina is anxious to make way without waiting another day.

She is uncertain of which direction to proceed, however; down the valley, in the direction by which the party arrived, or up the valley, up river to the Furka Pass, the route directly to Zurich.  The pass is 7,992 ft., and may still be deep in snow even this late in the year, though that is not likely, as it has been a warm spring.  It would almost certainly be a shorter journey.

Serafina will leave it up to the party.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Very Interesting

This change in template has been implemented upon discovering that I can, in my place of money earning, post comments on my other blog.  As such, this blog has been reformatted to suit.

I am not strictly certain that this will work.

Don't let the similarity confuse you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Afternoon, Sion

Tuesday, May 27, 1650

Serafina will lead the party down into Sion, to a rather rundown and ancient little Inn called “the Italian” … judging from the timbers it might have been built when the Lombards ruled northern Italy. The doorway is skewed and very narrow, enough that any large human would have to remove their backpack in order to edge inside. Serafina satisfies herself with calling inside: “Renaldo!” There is a pause and she calls again.

A short, mustached Italian, typically light-skinned like a Piedmontese, comes to the door rubbing his hands together with a towel. “Signorina? Is that you? I did not expect to see you … ever again.”

“Yes, I know Renaldo. I’ve come for my things.”

“But why? And what are you doing with these men?” Renaldo looks at the rest of the party distrustfully, as though he might do something.

“These men are my friends, Renaldo. I have come for my things. Now you will get them for me.” Serafina’s voice has a strong hint of nobility in it, although the party is well aware that she has no noble blood in her – that is the reason Hornung spurned her. The effect is definite upon Renaldo, who throws aside the towel and steps out of the door.

He seems unhappy, but he says, “This way then.” He walks down the narrow lane upon which the Inn faces, six or seven feet wide, down a short flight of stairs and then into a wider street. Here, on the same wall as the inn, are four sets of double doors, very sturdy, barred and bolted shut. Renaldo slips a ring of keys from beneath his doublet, undoes the first door, then elicits Avel’s aid in lifting the bar.

Inside, you see a carriage, very dusty (three or four years worth), harnesses for horses on the wall, 50’ of rope, a grapple, a suit of chain armor which would seem of size for an elf, three keg-sized sacks tied with twine, and two kegs. At the back of the carriage are three large boxes, the lids nailed shut. The carriage has plenty of room, would easily sit six persons and carry four hundred pounds of additional goods to boot.

“You will give me two horses, as agreed?” asks Serafina.

“Yes,” answers Renaldo. “It will not make my brother happy. He has grown fond of the two ponies you gave me. They are beautiful animals now.”

“Your brother will forgive me. It can’t be helped. Send for them … I wish to leave immediately today.”

“I will go for them myself. And send water for you to wash down the carriage.”

Serafina looks at it. “Yes, most helpful.”

It will take a few hours, in which case I assume everyone will pitch in; the carriage will save considerable time in returning to Dachau.

(OOC: Delfig, in answer to your question regarding hirelings and henchmen. Hirelings are those who work for pay, while henchmen are persons who have been so moved by your eminence that they must be with you and suffer your trials. At fifth level, I allow characters to ‘roll’ a second character, who becomes your fanatic henchman … ie, you run him/her.

Hirelings are different; usually, you can’t simply hire them at a strange place, for as I always point out, you have no credit. In Dachau, where Hornung - or Jan, had he lived - can vouch for you, hirelings would be available. Here in Sion, if Serafina were convinced, she could vouch for you to gain hirelings. But as a stranger in a town, who would trust you?

Sometimes you can convince a single guide or individual to agree to work for pay, but generally you will wind up with criminals or near-criminals, as the kind of person who would work for a complete stranger - and a foreigner - would probably be on the game.

Typically, a hireling is paid three months wages, in advance, so that two months of that can be given directly to his family, and a months worth for provisions. I don’t expect the party to provide any goods for a hireling except weapons and armor, if needed. Otherwise, the hireling will come along with whatever they have, typically leather and a club).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Midday, Sion

Tuesday, May 27, 1650

Serafina, having appeared in travel clothes, addresses the party,

"Good gentlemen; I give you my faith, for Sister Margareta tells me you are good men of good intent, and that you have no malicious purpose; and therefore I will accept your word that Eberhardt does call me and that this journey will not be wasted.  I would ask you however, do you know what sort of man you bring me to?  And what nature of deeds he did before he and I met?  It has been eight years since he and I parted ways ... I do not know what sort of life he has lived in that time.  He did not give me cause to believe, when he turned his back on me, that he would choose a righteous path - there has been war in Germany in that time, and I have been told by Father Jan that Eberhardt did not avoid that war.  You should know therefore that you may be taking me to a man most unvirtuous, though he never was towards me.

"I have myself changed these eight years.  Then I was young and unknowing ... but the sisters have taught me and trained me, and I know more of the world than Eberhardt, or even Father Jan may have known.  I go knowing what man I may be meeting.  But do you good gentlemen know?  This is no song of love."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day's End, Sion

Monday, May 26, 1650

The party travels upstream along the Rhone River from Montreux, which flows into the east end of Lake Geneva.  The slope is gentle, the land itself is flat and heavily farmed; throughout the first day, Sunday, there are nor hills to climb, no forests to pass through ... only the magnificent mountains to the south and the north, through which the wide plain of the Rhone passes through.  There are a great many people moving along the road, as many as three or four dozen in sight at a time, making this the busiest road the party has been on.  Andrej speaks to a party of four Italians, who explain that the road forks at Martigny, east into Sion and southwest where it leads to St. Bernard Pass into Italy.  It is the traffic to Italy that makes the road busy.

The valley narrows progressively through the day, the party having climbed perhaps 300 ft. above Lake Geneva.  By evening, the party reaches Martigny.  The following morning, a thin drizzle falls (snow on the alpine slopes high above), and the party continues on its way through a narrow gap (not a pass, though the Rhone gives way to some moderate rapids), into the Prince-Bishopric of Sion.  At the border, where the road directs away from the river and into a cut through a mountain spur, you learn that you are leaving the Republic of Switzerland and re-entering the Holy Roman empire.  A heavy toll is levied - 8 s.p. per person, but no cost whatsoever for the mule.
There being little doubt this price will be paid, the party continues into the lush valley of Sion.  The thin rain ceases, the sky remaining overcast, and at last the twin hillocks of the town of Sion come into view.  The manor house is seen on the right, and the castle (shown here in ruins) and monastery on the left.

I love this image.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Midday, Road to Montreux

Saturday, May 24, 1650

There is little to say about the road; it winds its way along the north shore of Lake Geneva, the lake beautiful and blue, the mountains in the background. The high hills are covered in vineyards, which in this season have turned green with new leaves and sprouts - too early to grow lush and cover the thousands of poles supporting the vines. You see many boats on the lake, some quite large, up to forty feet long, much of it commercial traffic.

At one point along the road, you come across a single fellow, sitting on a stump before a linen tent, slicing cheese off a block he balances on his thigh. He is dressed in leather armor, a woolen coat, and typical clothes. A great helm and large shield, a sword resting on the shield, sit on the ground near his feet. A javelin leans against the front of the tent, and a horseman's mace hangs on his belt.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Late Afternoon, Lausanne

Friday, May 23, 1650

The journey from Bern to Lausanne passes uneventfully, but takes far longer to accomplish than anticipated.  Emmanuel, remembering that Carlo had told him that it took a day to travel from Berne to Lausanne, failed to remember that it was in reference to travelling by carriage.  As such, the actual journey takes two days.

This will mean that from Lausanne, it will still take two days to travel to Sion.

As Jan can no longer feed the party, I must now insist that the party keeps track of its own food.  Typically, on a day of rest, each person must each 1 lb. of food a day, and 2 lbs. on any day of travel or combat.  A sack of vegetables is 22 lbs.; a sack of flour, 21 lbs (slightly less, but the food can be stretched); a sack of potatoes, 26 lbs.  A box of salt will last 1 person 42 days.  1 lb. of flour requires 1 oz. of oil, and there are 8 oz. of oil per bottle.  Sugar is optional.  I am working up tables for poor vs. good diets, but I'm fairly lax about that now.  For reasons that are slightly beyond me, I've dispensed with the 'rations' approach to food ... I'm convinced there's more role playing to be found in players actually knowing what they're eating.  The only trouble at present is managing the effects of choices.

Do not forget to account for all three of you; the donkey will forage as it travels.

Lausanne is on Lake Geneva, where boats can be hired to journey from Montreux at the east end of the lake (shown on the map) to Geneva at the other.  I was able to find this spectacular picture to give a sense of the countryside on the south shore.  The journey to Sion requires going up the river valley on the left side of the picture, to a fairly low pass over the mountains into the Prince-Bishopric of Sion.  I searched all over for a similar picture (or any picture)of that valley, and found myself stymied; so in fact you move off this picture fairly quickly, as soon as you climb into that valley.  You'll end up exiting on the left side of the map, through the village of Monthey.  Gives a strong sense of what country you're climbing up into, no?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Morning, Bern's Town Hostel

Wednesday, May 21, 1650

It is the next day.  Last night, Tenzig made arrangements for Emmanuel, Andrej and Delfig to sleep in a hostel near the front gate, at the cost of a silver piece each.  Arrangements were made for Jan's things, discounting those clothes needed for his burial: a cloak, a 3" silver holy symbol, a set of oaken prayer beads, Hornung's pendant, a pair of low, cowhide boots, a comb, a small belt pouch and a pair of grey woolen gloves.  What coin he may have had was taken, though by who you can only guess.

You were given a chance to speak with Carlo, who cannot say how the fight inside the carriage started.  He was riding on top, heard the commotion beneath and soon afterwards found his face smothered under cloth.  He lost control of the wagon, did not see the tree before hitting and had a recollection of flying through the air.  When he woke, it was dark.  He staggered to the road, found Jan in the carriage covered in blood, still barely alive.  Carlo was able to flag down the milk deliverer, but though they moved Jan to the wagon, he died on his way to Bern.  Carlo does not remember any peasant, never saw a peasant and did not know he was leaving a body behind when the wagon took him and Jan to town.  Although the conversation happened the night before, I will still answer any questions.  On your word with Tenzig, Carlo will be released.  He intends to return to his carriage to salvage it.  He has a partner in Olten, who he will send a boy to fetch, and feels he will be able to return to his business in a week or two.

Delfig and Andrej are able to heal a point of damage each (if they need it), and may consider themselves at full spell ability.  The question arises: what now?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Morning, Bern Gate

Tuesday, May 20, 1650

It takes little more than an hour to walk the last four miles to Bern.  The morning sun quickly disappears as the sky is overcast, but there is no sign of rain.

While the guards go, Emmanuel has been given the donkey as a gift of the Town of Langenthal.  The donkey's name is Heinz.

Note the picture, showing old Bern; the party must cross the bridge to the town gate, which would be more substantial than anything shown ... two large round towers, the gate between.  To save time, I would presume the writ is given to the town guards; the guards will remember the wagon arriving the night before, about eight bells.  The wagon brought a living man, and a body ... and was driven by a milk deliverer who was travelling from Burgdorf to Bern at the end of his evening rounds.

The living man is sequestered in the right tower above the gate.  The body remains under investigation, in the cold cellar at the base of the tower.  The town's Chief Juror has been attempting to identify the body, without any success.