Friday, December 28, 2012

Isarco Road, Round 7

Hichem takes into view everything that's happening now ... and at this point needs to make a morale check.  His morale, I believe, is 9.  Could Andrej please roll a 2d6 to see what Hichem will do next round.

#6, who was not held, loads his bow and aims.  He and #8 accounted for the two shots that missed in the previous round.

#5 did not fire last round, nor did #4.  Both let loose into the magic user Lukas.  They both hit AC 5.  #5 is using a short bow, and does 6 damage.  The second arrow does 2 damage.  That is 8 altogether, and Lukas is stunned from the first shot.  He falls back into hex 1415.

#3 loads his bow and takes a bead on Ahmet.

#2 swings his mace at Ahmet.  He leaps and lands a blow that hits AC 0 and does a powerful 10 damage - tit for tat. Ahmet slides back into hex 1014 and must make a dexterity check.

As #2 has four movement, he uses his other two to back away from Sofia into hex 0915.

Meanwhile, #1 moves to hex 0713 to swing at Sofia, making a successful dexterity check as he passes through 0613.  He rolls a 2 on Sofia and misses.

Ahmet and Lukas are stunned.  I need that dex check from Ahmet.  I need that 2d6 roll from Hichem (rolled by Andrej).

And if Ahmet fails the dexterity check, you know that Andrej will have to make one too.  (This is the moment where as a DM, I would get out of my chair and lean close to the die roll to make sure personally what the result was).

Sofia is free to take any action she will.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Isarco Road, Round 6

Hichem draws a club and rushes towards the melee.

#2 takes a long swing at Ahmet but manages to miss.  His blow bounces off Ahmet's thigh, where the armor protects him.

#4 loads his bow.

#3 takes a quick shot, again at Lukas, suffering the -4 penalty.  It hits, causing but 1 damage.  Still, Lukas gets a good scare from it I think.

#7 experiences a mis-shot that fires off into the valley.  An arrow flashes past Sofia and two go by Hichem to no effect.

#1, at last, takes note of the situation.  He shouts, "You're letting your temper have the best of you, father!"  Then retreats back two hexes to 0612.

Andrej's spell is cast.  In the pocket he's in, he has line of sight on 0704, 1303 and 1404.  Trying to climb out without casting the spell will break his concentration (he can move 1 hex normally, but this assumes careful walking, not vigorous climbing.  In any case, Andrej isn't stunned.

Ahmet and Sofia can move.  1 damage shouldn't have stunned Lukas, so he's free to act as well.

Isarco Road, Round 5

Hichem pushed the last horses around the bend and there they pile up, blocked by the one ahead that Sofia tied, the pathway and Hichem on this side.  The servant turns around to see what's going on with the fight.

#3 looses an arrow at Lukas, -4 to hit.  He hits AC 5, which is good enough to ruin Lukas' spell.  He does 7 damage, and falls back to 1314, stunned.

#4 fired at Lukas as well, but missed.

#2 swings at ahmet, hitting AC 1.  Ahmet takes 5 damage ... which I don't believe stuns.

The other four bowmen all load.

#1 moves to 0813, and grins at Andrej is a disarming, fairly benign fashion.  "Are you getting your 80 gold pieces' worth, Father?"

It will cost 2 movement points to EXIT hex 1013, so Andrej will need three moves to reach any adjacent hex.  Andrej's to hit penalty, if he hurls a weapon, will be -4 to hit, and he will need to make a dexterity check (its a 60 degree slope he's on).

If Sofia decides to run forward, it will cost one extra movement point to EXIT an orange hex (such as 1014) but no penalty to ENTER an orange hex.  If she wants to attack up from 0913 (if that's a plan) she will suffer a 'to hit' penalty of -2.

Ahmet can attack if his hit points prior to being hit were 22 (I think that's right).

Lukas is out of it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Isarco Road, Round 4

Hichem gets hung up a bit moving the horses, but he almost has them out of the way now.  The last horse moves across in front of Sofia as she runs forward.

In order, the attacks from the bandits is as follows.

The first attack is on Lukas; the bowman in 0408 fired at him, hitting, causing 4 damage to the mage.

The bowman in 0407 fires on Andrej, also hitting, again with a natural 20 - it's my day.  Rolling the 20 again, I get a 14, so the damage is doubled.  Andrej takes 12 damage, stunning him.

At that moment, #1 then hits Andrej, for six more damage ... knocking the cleric back onto the slope of 0913.

I need Andrej to roll a d20 for a dexterity check to see if he catches himself before sliding further.

Four other arrows flash around the four men fighting; at the last moment, #2 jerks to the right to avoid one of the arrows, that creases him across the forehead - damn close.  As a result, the blow he planned to land on Ahmet's helmet misses, and Ahmet takes no damage this round.

Lukas's sheet says he's at 13 hit points down from 19 ... I don't know if that's accurate or not.  Lukas, can you tell me if you're stunned?

Ahmet and Sofia can definitely take some action.  Lukas, you can if you're not stunned.

Isarco Road, Round 3

Hichem continues to drive the horses back, leading the one.  As I commented before, the horse in 1215 backs into Lukas and displaces him to 1414.  The other horse passes Lukas by at the same time, reaching 1513 and following the horse Hichem is pulling.

The bowmen are loading.

#1 swings at Andrej, misses, and chuckles jovially.

#2 rolls a natural 20 against Ahmet.  He rolls again and it is merely double damage.  He rolls a d6 for the mace, adds one and his strength and doubles it.  He hits for 16 damage.   This knocks Ahmet back to 0914, and the Turk is stunned.  #2 does not chase him.

Sofia, Andrej and Lukas take actions.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Isarco Road, Round 2

I keep trying to find ways to make these battles clearer.  In this case, the red symbol between 0815 and 0914 indicates that Maceman #2 attacked Andrej.  The orange arrow from the "invisible" Maceman #2 is meant to indicate that after attacking Andrej, he fell back to 0715.

I hope that's clear.

The attack was successful.  Andrej finds the fellow hits like the kick of a mule, causing 7 damage with his blow ... which was clearly not a solid hit.  There's every sign that he's going to hit very hard when he hits well.

#1 does not move forward at all, but stays where he is, to allow a wide open field of fire.  There are two bow shots against Andrej - and even though the chances favor Andrej over Ahmet, there are four bowshots against Ahmet.

Andrej's sheet says AC 1, and neither shot hits that.  Ahmet is in plate mail and shield, which is AC 2 ... I hit twice, AC 1 and AC 2 ... for a total of 2, then 4 damage.  So no one is stunned.

The party can take actions.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Isarco Road, Round 1

I've recolored the map, so now it looks like a bridge.  I've also turned it 90 degrees from the previous map.  I hope that does not seriously confuse people, but I needed to do it so I could add numbers to the map.

The new white patches are SNOW.  Its just light, but if you're on it and you're hit, you have to make a save or slip.

If you slip on the slope, you go over the side.

You can move onto any hex with a number (any hex, really).  Remember that any except the light grey/purple hexes are sloped.

The party has initiative, and may take what action they will.

Lukas, you need to know that your dart's range is 2 for point blank (+1 to hit); 3 to 5 for short (no modifier); 6 to 10 for medium (-2 to hit); and 11-15 for long (-5 to hit).  It is better than a dagger, but still a close range weapon.

Sofia's dagger is 2 for point blank, 3 to 5 for short, 6 to 9 for medium and 10-12 for long.

Sofia moves 6 hexes as a monk.

Be careful.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Isarco Road

October 31, 1650, Friday morning

Weather: with chilly temperatures and cloudy conditions, with a gentle breeze

It has not snowed or rained in three days, but the weather itself is still fairly unpleasant in the morning. The party is high in the mountains and moving along a road that weaves along the Isarco, then moves along the side of the mountain as the Isarco drops away into a wide, though fairly deep gorge.

You're curling along a bend in the road under the mountain, where there is a drop on your right and a steep rise on your left. Ahead of you, trees are clustered below the slope. Two fellows with maces rise from where they've been sitting below the trees, and menacingly walk into the middle of the road, facing the party.

The party is walking their horses.

The tan/pink is the roadbed; the dark yellow is a 30 degree slope; the orange band is a 45 degree slope; the red area is effectively impassable without actually climbing down a various 60-80 degree slope. The dark grey is a 45-degree slope up. The black is cliff face.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Brixen Town

October 29, 1650, Wednesday morning
Weather: with frosty temperatures and steady flakes, with a moderate breeze.

The remainder of the 27th passes easily enough, as you continue to climb by steady degrees the Brenner Pass.  It is comparably a low pass - Andrej can attest to having climbed much more to go through the Furka Pass last summer.  Still, there's a fair bit of snow on the ground, some three feet, and much of the road is sloppy.

You pass a sign that says, "Entering the See of Brixen," with a low wall and an unmanned open tower by the side of the road.  There's no one present, however, so you simply cross the border out of Tyrol.  Not long after you come across two men and a boy wrestling a wagon out of the rut at the side of the road, where it has slid on a bad turn.  I think probably the party would help; no ill comes of it, and the men thank the party for their trouble.

At best, the day becomes cool; the weather remains light and calm throughout the day, though there's an annoying intermittent drizzle that night, with a moderate breeze, as you finally set camp.  The weather is brisk and certainly not the cold you expected.

The pass is somewhere ahead of you, but all you've encountered is a long, steady slope upwards between farms and pastures.  It's the easiest pass you've ever heard of.  In the morning, the weather has once again become frosty, just below freezing, and you're stiff as you roll out of bed.

On the 28th, at last, you move over the "top" ... though you're barely aware of it.  Lukas asks about mid-day if it doesn't seem like you're moving downslope, and its generally agreed that you must be.  It has certainly seemed an easier walk for the last few hours.  The weather improves again from chilly to cool, then back to brisk, once again drizzling on and off all night.

On the morning of the 29th, the drizzle becomes a steady fall of snowflakes, as you come to the small town of Brixen in the valley.  (Try as I might, I could not find a proper winter picture).  There is no wall surrounding the quite sizable town of 550 buildings, scattered on the three sides of the confluence of the Isarco and Rienza rivers, both fast rushing as they descend from the Tyrolese Alps (which you've just come through).  Pictured is the Bishop's Palace.

There is no market here, but an inn may be had for the day  if you wish, or we may continue further down the Isarco Valley on the 29th.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Freezing on the Brenner Pass

October 27, 1650, Monday afternoon
Weather: with icy temperatures and clear conditions, with a fresh breeze.

Brenner pass is above 4,000 feet, so it takes a good while to make your way there--particularly as conditions frustrate some of your movements.  You have to dismount and walk your horses, which proves somewhat difficult given the climb and that you're all leading two horses apiece.

Saturday morning proves to be quite frosty, with a little bit of ice on the rims of your bottles, plus hoarfrost upon the rocks.  It's somewhat worrying, and the party cannot help but question the wisdom of going forward.

As the afternoon begins, the weather is clear and there is a gentle breeze blowing at your backs ... but with a strange, unexpected rush, you feel this tremendous warm front roll down from the mountains above you - the Stupai Alps on your right, the Zillertal on your left, bringing  both warm conditions and a high, wild wind.   The effect is somewhat concerning - the wind puts whole trees in motion, driving them until they seem ready to uproot and dance - and the party decides, before losing a horse or slipping off a poor footing into a gulley, to cease their travels and settle down.  Finding a glade of high spruce trees and the crest of a ridge for a natural windbreak, the party finds the weather almost uncomfortably warm, stripping down to their shirts and enjoying the sight of the wind as it tears through the forests and across the open meadows, turning them like the sea.

It is not to last, however, for more than a few hours.  The warm air strikes against the cold front across the valley, and as night falls and as the temperature turns brisk the party finds itself in a deluge of steady showers.  The wind disappears and the sky drops a quarter-inch of rain, washing down the valley.  The ridge gives a cascade of water after the first half an hour, driving the party wet and weary to another place, gathering pots and tools and horses with them, slogging through mud to their ankles until at last they settle again on stony, drained ground between trees.  Teeth chattering, freezing, wet to the bone, the party pitches their tents and goes to bed without supper.

Outside, the temperature continues to fall until the rain turns to snow, then at last ceases, leaving a mere dusting upon the ground.  However, by the time the sun rises - a cold and damp party, having gotten little or no sleep at all, huddled against hope to warm up - to a crystal clear, icy day.  The temperature is well below freezing, and most of the water is scummed with ice, the rocks rimed over.  The wood the party might use to build a fire is logged and wet, but by this point some sort of fire is needed, else the party will catch their death of cold.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Regarding the Campaign's Suspension

For those of you out there who are wondering and waiting to see if the campaign gets started again today, let me say that I know you're there.

I had not definitely planned to start again with December ... with one thing or another I'm having trouble getting time to post on the blog, much less work all day at keeping the campaign alive here.  That said, there are signs of things opening up, and I may be able to get something started by the end of this week, or the middle of next.

With things having changed, Mondays are suddenly my absolute worst day.  I won't have any time to do anything until late this afternoon ... except to check in and see if there are any answers to this.

I sent James a copy of the updated spell descriptions for cleric.  I won't have updated spell descriptions for magic user until probably the summer ... so the ones that exist are fine until then.

Thank you all for your patience.


Monday, October 29, 2012

November Means Novel

Hello to my players.

I don't think this is going to come as a terrible shock.  I am going to put my campaign on hold.

Please do not think this is in any way a permanent thing.  I have been posting for long enough now, and we have had two previous pauses, so I think when I say that we will pick this campaign up again, that will be believed.  All it is that at the moment, I need space somewhere in my life, and I'm afraid this is going to be one of the areas I can find it.

Things have been intense since my mother passed; and work was stressful before.  I'm finding the job at the moment is taking up more and more of my time, so that as I come in first thing in the morning - particularly on Mondays - I am two to three hours before I can even open the campaign.

At night, I'm trying to edit my book ... with a view to getting that off the ground sometime before Christmas, circa the second week of December.  I want to get focused; and that means cutting down on the various things that unfocus me.  Pushing back the D&D campaign means making more time for me during the day, which makes for a better relaxed mindset when the day comes to an end and I can work on the bigger picture.  So I'm sorry fellas.

I know you support me (you've said so often enough before).  I want you guys to know I support you, too.  I am anxious to get you to your land, to get Ahmet and Lukas up in levels so they can get henchmen and stuff, and to keep the campaign running.  You guys have been great, and I appreciate it.

Janos seems to have done the same thing Silvius did ... just sort of moved out of the picture.  I can't blame him; its a lot of work to keep this going, as we all know.  I suggest we all give it some time, before trying to get back to the game.  I'm thinking first week of December, but that is going to depend on how my artistic endeavor goes.

I will keep you posted, as always, and I will probably be writing a few posts a week on the main blog.  My time has been suffering all over, and the main blog shows it as much as here (ah, to be able to post every day again).

Okay, take care, have a good start to your winter.  I'll keep in touch, and revive this thing when I've got bandwidth again.


Monday, October 22, 2012


This table definitely needs work ... but we'll try it as is for today.

Here is the idea.

You roll checks against your various abilities: wisdom, strength, dexterity and constitution.

To start with, the table above is completely blank.  When you miss a check, the amount that you miss it by creates random possibilities.  Thus, you make a wisdom check, you miss your wisdom by four, it creates four of the above possibilities on the list.

You accumulate increased chances of getting something by missing your ability checks.  Miss a total of 20 on your ability checks, and the table is completely filled out.

For every ability check you miss, you roll once on the table.

Let us say that you miss ALL four of your abilities by 1 point.  Let's that creates item #6, #11, #15 and #19.

Because you missed on all four abilities checks, you roll on the above table.  If all four of your rolls do not hit any of the numbers described, then you've succeeded despite your errors.

Like?  Dislike?  Ready to give it a try?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ahmet's Decline

Outside Tyrol, not quite midnight, the 25th of October, 1650.

Having passed the comment limit, the last post is continued here.  Ahmet is in a bad way; an infection seems to be spreading through him, that may be turning him undead.  Holy water, cure light wounds and an attempt at turning back the disease have all proved fruitless.

What will the party do?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

High Alpen Above Innsbruck

October 25, 1650, Friday late afternoon
Weather: with cool temperatures and clear conditions, with a light breeze

The party has set their tents near a full hayshed, which someone had nailed hides - old and worthless, now - over the front.  The hayshed is on the edge of a meadow when slopes towards Innsbruck, and the party can see the town in the distance, and the river Inn at the bottom of the valley.

Behind them, the mountain rises some four thousand feet.  Those across the valley are rocky and magnificent, the high ice glistening, and the stone slopes below shining golden in the late afternoon sun.

The question arises, what does the party wish to do with the girls' body, having brought it up here?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Innsbruck on an October Morning

October 25, 1650, Friday morning
Weather: with brisk temperatures and cloudy conditions, with calm.

It is a cool Thursday night when the party almost reaches Dachau.  Friday morning, it is brisk, and you are well bundled up as you ride past the Dachau city walls.  Andrej recognizes the burned out gatehouse a mile from the North Gate, and the copses of trees and the overall look of the place.  It seems bustling, unaffected by the events from last spring, with the gates open and a host of citizens driving their flocks of ducks and sheep out to make the most of the dried brown grass and field stubble.  The apple trees have lost their leaves, the aspen nearly so.

There's no sign of anyone familiar, certainly not of Emmanuel ... in his wagon, he would not have reached this far yet.  You don't know by which way he travelled - probably further to the east than did the party.

In the early afternoon of Thursday, you come to the great city of Munich.  The weather, for the first time in this year's memory, does not greatly warm up with the day.  There is a drizzle that starts as you reach Munich, and in the brisk temperature it is positively disheartening.  You round the city, taking note that there seems to be an effort to pile up a great deal of building stone and timber ... there is scads of both, timber in particular, stacked in fifty foot piles and stretching far south from Munich.

From Munich, as the rain clears and the wind shortens to a light breeze, you climb into the Alpenvorland (Alps foothills) towards the village of Tolz, where a hundred buildings are scattered over a valley and the adjacent hill.  From there you follow the Isar River (which you have been following since Munich) into the low Alps, rising a few thousand feet above you.  These are nothing like the Alps Lukas knows, or the Andrej remembers, but still they are rugged enough.  You camp near a dairy farm some ten miles south of Tolz, where the cool afternoon fades into a brisk night.

There's no snow on the ground, though there is a bit in the high country above you.  The heavy snows have not yet begun ... and you do not see any flakes that fall.  When you arise the next morning, and travel over the low pass that leads you into the valley of the Inn - and reach Innsbruck - it is yet brisk, but the clouds are not thick above you.  There's little wind.

You are quite surprised to discover, upon crossing the wooden bridge that spans a hundred feet over the Inn River, that there is a tournament in procession.  There are some twenty knights in plate armor, with pikes, waiting to be told by their Hapsburg lord (the Count of Tyrol) who specifically is to begin ... and a crowd of a thousand waiting to see.  The location for the contest is a flat stone rock extending several feet over the Inn River.

You notice a frame constructed over the rock platform, which is about ten feet wide and 25 ft. long; from the frame hangs a small ring on a chain, in nearly the platform's centre, about five feet above the ground.  The frame consists principally of two tall posts, and below the ring, two feet above the ground, there is a chain strung between them.

Monday, September 24, 2012


October 22, 1650, Wednesday evening

Weather: with pleasant temperatures and overcast conditions, with a calm wind

The weather has been unseasonably warm these last four days, from the three days you stayed in Eichstatt to the road to the one day travel to Ingolstadt.  The weather in the morning has been brisk, but pleasant in the afternoons and early evening, so that wearing a jacket is too hot.

There's little on the road as you rise and fall through hills on your way into the Danube valley.  You climb steadily, then descend a few hundred feet into the wide vale of Ingolstadt.  The Danube is like grey slate, the aspens stark white with few yellow leaves left.  There are great piles of leaves, light and sweeping with the wind (when there is any, as there was earlier today, but not as you near the town) across the road, rolling from the right to the left.  Even though the day is spectacular for hunting (Janos puts up a flock of Hungarian partridges, more than 75 of them, which were hidden in grass along the side of the road), there's still that threatening clouded sky suggesting it won't last.

I trust the party got the Ingolstadt market.  It is open ... Ingolstadt is one of the last transshipment points for grain and harvested goods out of Germany before the winter comes.

Unfortunately you learn that there are no barges meant to depart down the Danube.  The last left October 15, a week ago.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Travel Details & Puzzles

Hichem is from the town of Gabes, upon the coast of the Gulf of Gabes off the southern Mediterranean, in the land called Ifriqiya.

He is your servant.  He's 17, 6'1" tall, 200 lbs., born July 19, with faded blue eyes, sooty black hair (thin and a small bald patch), and light brown skin.  His father was a carpenter, he is an orphan, with a strong back (165 lb. weight allowance), has an actual weapon proficiency (hand scythe), but has a natural armor class of "11."   His voice is slightly higher pitched than normal, he walks with a definite limp.

On the other matter:  I hate to press this issue, but given that Naxos IS controlled by Venice, which as pointed out IS an economic powerhouse, what is Venice chiefly known for and in what way is the party likely to  determine who, and how, their taxes are being collected?


Adding a map of southern Germany and northern Italy:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Eichstatt Again

October 18, 1650, Saturday morning
Weather:  with brisk temperatures and a brief drizzle, with a moderate breeze.

After the incident with the tick, the party experiences no other notable encounters or troubles.  The roads are largely open and empty, with woodcutters occasionally tying up the way but mildly.  You pass through Wurzburg, over the Main, then over the Main River again at Kitzingen.  The first bridge costs double what the second does, so that for both together you pay 1 gold piece and 8 silver per animal or person.  Again, the day is pleasant, which is to say in the 60s, though the sky is overcast and there is a persistent drizzle.  It is still and calm, and much of the rain does not even reach the ground.

You climb into the Frankenwald, which extends south from the Thuringian Forest, passing through the same land Andrej did when the trees were in full leaf.  There you camp before climbing, with no inn in sight.  Andrej is more certain now that Nuremberg is but a day away, depending upon tomorrow's weather.

The forest is less appetizing than it was last June.  The flowers are gone and the grassy ground is brown.  The lakes are no longer blue, but grey and cold.  There are still fast flowing rivers, but now they seem less fairy-like and more threatening as you brace their fords on Friday morning.

The morning begins brisk as always, in the 40s, but the afternoon is pleasant and the late afternoon postively warm, in the 70s.  After reaching Nuremberg round about one in the afternoon, there even threatens a summertime thunderstorm, but it doesn't quite break - though a high wind slows the party down so that they make only 60 miles that day.  Instead of making Eichstatt as expected, they only reach the rich fields between Nuremberg and it.  There you find an inn on the sideroad to Schwabach (to the east) called The Dane's Bench ... the innkeeper has slaughtered a cow and there is nothing but beef stew with potatoes and cabbage on the menu, for 3 s.p.  A night here is the same as before, 6 s.p., and 14 c.p. for each of your horses.

Altogether, there has been an additional cost of 9 s.p. per person for tolls and fees, apart from the bridges at Wurzburg and Kitzengen, and a cost of 4 s.p. per horse.

There is no town wall in Eichstatt, which you reach Saturday morning.  Though it was pleasant when you went to sleep, it is again brisk in the morning when you awake.  Eichstatt has about 300 buildings, and as I described to Andrej once before, it is a university/learning town.  It does not take long for Andrej to locate the place he was before, and to inquire after Egbert, to whom he gave the book.

Egbert is ill.  The party is told where he lodges, and they arrive at a four-story half-timbered house, upon one of Eichstatt's principle streets, standing before a strong wooden door between white-washed stone walls.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Unusual Yellow

October 16, 1650, Thursday morning
Weather: brisk temperatures and overcast conditions, with a strong breeze

The party strikes towards the Nuremberg, winding its way south at first along the Main river.  The following occurs within just an hour of Ascapha:

Just one of those things, the knot on the mage's saddle that holds his second horse - in this case Magnus, as Lukas is riding Tovenar - comes loose.  It's not noticed for awhile ... Magnus just follows along like always, as the party makes their way.

But as Janos stops, because he's realized his horse Erzsebet has picked up a stone, Lukas catches up to him and stops also.  Andrej and Ahmet are somewhere ahead of them; they've gotten into some kind of heated discussion about the Greek islands or some such, and the mage and ranger have been drifting along behind for some peace and quiet.  Particularly, Lukas is probably thinking about scroll creation.

As Janos fixes his horses' foot, the ranger and mage chat - the usual thing, probably: the woodland all around, Lukas being concerned that something might be hidden there, and Janos reassuring him.   Magnus, meanwhile, catches sight of some sweet grass along the side of the road.

A moment later the ranger and mage hear Magnus screaming - and the sound of a horse screaming is a terrifying sound indeed.  They both look - Lukas still on Tovenar, Janos of course on foot - and see that something enormous and yellow - with a shiny body and as big as a pig - has got ahold of Magnus' right shoulder - the body of the horse is obscuring exactly what it is.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Pleasant Afternoon in the Main Valley

October 15, 1650, Wednesday night

Weather:  with cool temperatures and clear conditions, with a light breeze.

Throughout Tuesday night, you keep watches, but you see no more of the wolves, nor any sign the next day.

You wake again in the morning to another storm, a steady hard rain with a strong breeze, disrupting your breakfast.  Throughout the early afternoon, however, despite some threatening clouds, the breeze falls off and grows sweet smelling and clean.  By late afternoon, though it remains overcast, the temperature is actually pleasant ... you remove your coats and ride pleasantly.  As you find yourselves near an inn on the road at the end of the day, the sky is clear, you can see stars, and there's no sign that it's rained that day.  It is cool, yes, but not near as brisk as it has been.

Perhaps it is from being on the south side of the Harz Mountains.

Moreover, as you come down the slopes onto the Hessian plain, passing into lands held by the House of Darmstadt, Andrej becomes more and more convinced that you're bound to pass by Frankfurt today.  The density of the population increases, fields reach to the horizon in every direction, and there are thousands of cattle.  Sure enough, as you enjoy the weather, the spires of Frankfurt appear ten miles away.  You circle the city and its 50,000 buildings, plus the many stockyards, warehouses and fishing docks that extend outwards from the great town.  The party takes a ferry across the Main River, and Andrej leads them off the main road onto a secondary road, to follow the Main up to Ascapha.  You haggle at the border with two guards before ending the Bishopric of Wurzburg, and reach the aforementioned Inn - the White Cup.  Here is where Andrej stayed on a prior occasion, after departing a barge that took him downstream from Wurzburg.

May I presume you rest here again?  Alternately, you can camp on the bank of the Main.

I haven't got a critical file I need to determine Ascapha's market, but I can tell you a private room is 6 s.p., stabling is 5 c.p. and feed for a light warhorse/riding horse is 9 c.p.  Let us presume you eat your own food, hm?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Into The Harz

October 14, 1650, Tuesday afternoon
Weather: with cool temperatures and an intermittent drizzle, with a gentle breeze

As the party grumbles that this drizzle is never going to end, it has been miserable these last two days since the death of the pig.  Yesterday, Monday, it drizzled all day.  This morning, the party was awoken by another wet series of small storms, followed by threatening conditions and then more of this accursed drizzle.  It grows clearer why there are few if any on the road, and most of the populace has taken to their homes.

The grey outcroppings of rock throughout the Salzgitter Hills, through which you climb to get to the Harz Mountains south of Hildesheim, turn black with the wet, and the ranger is quite aware that any number might serve as splendid cover for an ambushing brigand.  The birch and alder trees are stripped of many of their leaves by the storms, but there is still enough to occasionally give a sloppy kiss to the mounted party should they happen to need to step off road for a bit of water or to make camp.

The Harz mountains rise 2,000 feet above you as you slip into the Landgravate of Hesse, and the lands belonging to the House of Cassel.  You pass by the town of Cassel Tuesday morning, a big city about half the size of Lubeck - strung along the Fulda river.  Throughout the day you follow the Fulda through a pass in the Harz, just beyond Fritzlar.

During the two days you've paid three silvers each in road tolls.

You rest upon the top of the pass, not that high (perhaps 950 feet above sea level), amid oak trees and silver birch.  A stone run extends from near the road up the west slope, some of the stones being two feet in diameter.  You are struck by the sight of two wolves among the stones; one hidden between the rocks, observed by the Ranger first and pointed out to the other party members - the other moving from rock to rock in an almost energetic dance, as it watches the party from a hundred, hundred and fifty yards away.  The one on the rocks, says Janos, is the male.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Proper Conflict Modifiers

I am an idiot.

I have for months been trying to work out a consistent set of modifiers for Conflict and it has been staring me in the fact this whole time.  I mean literally, staring me in the face.

Civilization IV and V have conflict modifiers which are included in the game, designed to balance negotiations against the course of recent events and circumstances.  Why not use those?

So if my players could please ignore the previous modifiers I introduced a couple of months ago, and please include these in your calculations, that would be terrific:

I think the inclusion of these may make some circumstances more difficult (like the recent discussion), but since they come from a source outside myself - a recognizeable source - they may be more readily accepted.  Please give your opinion, and I will get back to running my campaign.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Hamlet Aroused

The girl has a strong effect on the cluster of houses.  She shouts about the death of her pig, and about the party waiting on the road nearby.  Sofia is able to hear something else - apparently, the pig's principle value was that it was able to sniff out truffles.

The rest is predictable.  The hamlet rouses itself, the men shouting for justice, and some twenty men arm themselves with pitchforks and start towards the road and the party, and the girl among them.  Sofia is quite able to outrun them - and the men of the hamlet are not running, but walking with purpose.  They do not seem angry so much as determined and resolute.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Crossroads North of Hildesheim

October 12, 1650, Sunday night
Weather: with brisk temperatures and overcast conditions, with a calm air.

It is not long again before you catch up with Ruiz, who is also heading south.  You may spare him a few words, you may not; he does not seem especially talkative, and answers cryptically to any questions.  One gets the sense that he is landless, and probably drifting south to avoid the winter.

The party continues through mixed forest and cropland, steadily approaching the Salzgitter Hills to the south, with rise 800 feet above the plateau.  They extend far to the east, as far as you can see.  The crossroads you reach are at the edge of them.  All day you've seen fields covered with the dead leaves of beet plants, or the stubble from wheat. 

You chance to see a sign that Andrej missed before, probably because it is posted so that travellers from the south might miss it.  The sign states that the Holle Saltbaths may be found by taking a minor west road, which departs from the crossroads.  The road is in poor shape, without many stones, and would necessitate travelling almost single file between the dense poplar forest.

It gets dark as you reach the crossroads, and the drizzle finally gives up.  Again, you eat what Andrej has left, and the party settles in to camp.  Another group of men are settled along the road, nearby (perhaps 30 yards).  They are travelling north, with plans to reach Luneburg before Friday.  They describe themselves as laborers who have been employed in Heilingenstadt, where they have been rebuilding the town cathedral for the past two seasons.  They will winter in Luneburg with their families before returning south.

Ahmet, you discretely separate yourself from your camp, well after nightfall, to relieve yourself of some water - taking your sword with you, naturally.  I'm afraid you're not armored.  You comfortably pass what you must, but as you turn to return to the camp, you hear the definite snuffling of a large beast, no more than 10 feet to your right.

The camp with the others is 50 feet away, and you can hear them chattering pleasantly that the food had better get better - good meat isn't that expensive.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Stream At Celle

October 12, 1650, late afternoon Sunday
Weather: with cool temperatures and a brief drizzle, with a light breeze

The party is awoken in the morning of the 12th by a freezing rain; the morning storm is wet and drops a fifth of an inch of rain, dousing the camp.  Thankfully, it's no worse that a strong breeze, and despite the flapping of tents and such, the party diligently breaks camp, shivering and damp.  Andrej is mindful that it is Sunday, and when the rain ends at midday, he holds the party up for two hours to give services.  Those members of the party who have accepted catholicism join in.

Andrej was last in Calenburg in June, when it was green and lush.  Now the leaves have fallen over the road, and the horse's feet crunch the leaves as they ride.  As you pass through Munster-an-der-Ortze (the other Munster), past companions are dimly remembered.  It's been a month since the battle in Arnsberg ... already one month.  The party feels strangely old and mature, perhaps more than they've ever felt.  They're like their mentors now, people who have seen some significant part of the world and who have tales to tell both pleasant and unpleasant.  And it has only been a few months.

South of Munster-an-der-Ortze, the road leads to Celle.  South of here, Andrej recalls there's a fork that goes either to Hildesheim, the road Andrej knows, and Brunswick.  You reach Celle by mid-afternoon, and there the party dismounts and waters the horses in the Aller River.  From here, the ground climbs above the wet heath of Lower Saxony, to drier parkland.  There's a ford across the river that does not cost money to cross.  The party hopes they can make the aforementioned fork before dark.

Aller River
As the party watches the horses, and eats a bit of food Andrej had created, they find themselves joined on the river by an old knight.  Without dismounting, he urges his horse into the stream about twenty years from you, and lets the horse drink.  The knight is well past his sixties; he wears armor nearly as old as he is, and has a sword in a scabbard that is so worn it shows part of the blade.  The helmet he wears has a few dents in it.  His clothes are expensively made, but have not been cleaned in ages.  A fairly heavy, but rumpled sheepskin coat is wrapped around his shoulders, untied in the front.  The knight nods his acknowledgement to the party, and returns his attention to staying on his horse as he drinks.

Death of an Archbishop

For fun, I wanted to show something else behind the curtain.

Back in January, when I had conceived of the idea of the party meeting Eberhardt and Serafina, my principle plan was to have Andrej perform the wedding, if he was willing, and then hopefully (if he didn't fuck it up, which seemed unlikely) to win the approval of the Prince-Bishop of Munster.  It would be the Prince-Bishop, then, who would offer to fund a mission out east for Andrej.  With this in mind, I went to look up the Prince-Bishop of Munster to see who he was.

And got a big surprise.

The party was arriving in Munster on September 3, 1650.  The Prince-Bishop, as it turned out, was Ferdinand of Bavaria ... who was also the Bishop in authority over a number of different states, including Hildesheim, Liege, Cologne and Paderborn.  He was described thusly to the party when I introduced the character.

However, Ferdinand DIED September 13, 1650.  Within 10 DAYS of the party arriving in Munster.

Because of this inconvenience and unexpected coincidence, and because I love the idea of being dictated to by a source outside of myself, I decided to completely change the role of Ferdinand in my world.  If at all possible, I would make him evil, I would drum up an assault on his castle, give the party the choice of whether to get involved and carefully arrange it so that Ferdinand would still die on the date of his death.  Which he did.  The party assaulted the castle,  on the afternoon of the 12th ... and Ferdinand the Archbishop died after midnight on the 13th.

I personally don't think this is railroading, as the party repeatedly had the opportunity to change their minds and not get involved.  But I do think that Fate can play a hand in a game, particularly when the death of an NPC can be held far enough from the party's grasp.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lubeck to Luneburg

October 11, 1650, all day Saturday
Weather:  with chilly tempertures in the morning, just above freezing, and cool throughout the rest of the day.  It is cloudy in the morning, overcast in the afternoon.  At night, after setting up camp, an intermittent drizzle makes resting unpleasant.

The full moon is waning, and hasn't set yet as the sun rises.  The party follows the plan of changing horses as they travel, enabling them to move quite quickly.   Because I haven't heard yet that Lukas is teaching Andrej how to read, we will presume the party travels four hexes its first day.

The road to Hamburg is heavily travelled, and is an impressive 20 yards wide in places.  Military companies, haulers, peasants, seamen, gypsies, caravans, peddlers, carriages, carts, freight wagons and vardos compete for passage going both ways, even to the point of pressing the party off the road.  Its a good, clear day for travelling, and everyone is out here making their way from the basin of the North Sea to the basin of the Baltic.

Still, the road is of such terrific quality that the party is able to make good time.  Worse than the road, however, is being hung at the ferries across the mouth of the Elbe at Hamburg.  There are literally hundreds of scows and barges zipping back and forth across the river, between banks and sandy islands - for the river is low in October.  The water is fearfully cold, and in six weeks may freeze solid if there's a bad winter.  This is quite a lot of the discussion the party hears.

For the party to get across, it costs 1 g.p. per creature and person ... and this is without entering the town proper itself.  The party is then dropped upon the opposite side, where the grass has turned completely brown.  Throughout the whole morning the party has not seen a single green tree - but as they ride up the left bank of the Elbe, there are still signs of a waning late summer.  The land is flat, with ponds scattered about between brown fens and willow trees, at least until late afternoon as the party approaches Luneburg.  It is there, outside the city walls, that the party finally settles down for the night.

There's little or nothing in the way of 'encounters,' so-called.  Plenty of opportunity to chat with others along the road, the sort you'd expect to meet, worried about the winter or closing up their affairs before the snow flies.  Virtually every field is stubble now, and the only produce filling carts are potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips and parsnips.  The grounds outside Luneburg are quiet - Andrej remembers being here before, but briefly.  Luneburg is a town of about 750 buildings, and just now there are heaping stacks of timber to be seen in every direction.  Thus, between such stacks, the party virtually has the night to themselves.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Preparations in Lubeck

October 10, 1650.  Friday.

I'm creating this post to compensate for the comments, which are past the 100 mark.  I don't think the weather is important, but I am adding three days for locating objects, sorting out details, buying horses and so on.

Klaas speaks with Emmanuel and decides to travel to Dachau with him.  Emmanuel is leaving Saturday morning.

Before he goes, he encourages Andrej not to fret about his going home.  "I would not keep you from any opportunity," he says.  "For the first time in my life I feel I've made a difference - I plan to go make a difference at home now.  Please, my former master, you must now make a difference yourself, without me.  I shall always remember you, and consider you my master.  Perhaps we will meet again, and perhaps I shall be a person able to make more for you than dinner."  Emmanuel will smile, and drop his eyes in slight embarrassment.


Included, a map of Germany south of Lubeck.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Andrej's New Monk

Here's the base table for Andrej's Monk henchwoman:

There are a number of details that need addressing.

Because she is 24, her strength and constitution are both increased by 1.  I left the original rolls on the above table, but in fact her strength is 16, and her constitution 15.

Because she is less than 140 lbs., she gets a d6 for mass hit points; she gets the maximum of 2d6 for starting hit points (and I will explain that in a moment); and +1 for the increased constitution.  Rolling a 1 for mass, the total starting hit points are 14.

I dislike the weaknesses of monks in the player's handbook, so they have been increased in two ways - the hit dice have been increased from d4 to d6; and the AC is improved two points, from 10 to 8.  In the case of Andrej's monk, she also happened to roll a result that gains her a natural AC increase of 1 due to her toughness (composition), so her starting AC is 7.

She may be flexible, but she's been relaxing too much, drinking too much perhaps, and probably just getting off the booze (see Tendencies & Interests), so this is why her Physical is down.  Note that although she can use two weapons, together they cannot be more than 5 lbs. until she has toned up - this toning will make itself evident when she has reached 2nd level.  I think we can guess that the conduct that has banned her from bars has been drunkedness (or possibly shouting about the realities of Ottoman law). 

Monks, I think, start with 1 weapon proficiency.  I could be wrong.  The player's handbook is accurate in this instance.

"Law" is a specialty knowledge field which the monk has - I wanted to emphasize the Ottoman knowledge because her Catholic father practiced law in Sofia.  Her Catholic mother is listed as a laborer - since she would not need the money, we'll say she did so as an act of piety and charity in a Benedictine monastery, as a farmer day in and day out.  This would create the connection between her own life and her daughter's choice to take vows and train.

The "Monk" in historical European tradition has to be tossed out.  Just as mages do not exist in reality, we must perceive that European monks carry more characteristics of the Black and Yellow Hats of China ... and that they, too, are trained in the ways of open hand combat.  This is not only necessary for D&D to work in an Earth setting, is it far more interesting, too.  Thus, whereas the monasteries of Italy, France and England may look the same, they would be full of monks training, practicing, learning the methods of the quivering palm and so on ... after all, if such powers did actually exist, why shouldn't European monks embrace them as well?

If we can rethink the European druid for D&D, there's no reason we can't rethink the European monk.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Palace in Lubeck

October 7, 1650, early afternoon Tuesday
Weather: With cool temperatures and overcast conditions, with a light air

I wish I could show you an image of the palace of Lubeck, but I could find nothing - I presume it has been long since destroyed.  I would guess it would look something like this, to be found at Schwerin:

I shall place it in the small town of Moisling, two miles to the southwest of Lubeck.  Lukas and Janos may ride with Serafina and Hornung; Andrej and Ahmet upon their mounts; the dwarves in the wagon driven by Emmanuel.  Emmanuel will apologize profusely to Andrej for leaving his service - yet he is anxious to go home, where he hopes to return a hero.  He plans to turn his land into a commune for all those who dwelt in his hamlet, which Andrej first encountered last May.

Fatima will meet Ahmet upon the steps, and berate her brother for disappearing before happily falling to her knees and embracing his thighs.  Carolina will appear weakly in the doorway.  The Duke is not available, but the Duchess will make a brief showing to welcome the party to her home, before retiring.  She is Helga Rosenkrantz, and she is nearing 80.  The Duke is bedridden, and his son is at present fighting in France.  There are several grandchildren who stand beside the Duchess, but they do not speak, and it is clear they are being forced to be there.

Hornung has one last request before the party is allow to retire to their rooms.  He wishes to give them what has been collected from the Archbishop's Castle for them.  He shows them to a turret, where there has been stored a chest and several boxes.

The first box is a bit more than five feet long and a foot wide - this is for Ahmet.
The second box is similar in size to a cigar box - this is for Andrej.
The third box is long and narrow, two inches by two inches, and 13 inches long - this is also for Andrej.
The fourth box is smaller than the palm of a hand - this is for Lukas.
The fifth box is four inches wide, five inches long and two inches deep - this is for whomever the party wills.
Lastly, the sixth box is five inches wide, 13 inches long and four inches deep - this is for the whole party.

The chest, Hornung will demonstrate, contains 2,000 gold pieces.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Journeying to Lubeck

Up front, the journey is relatively uneventful.  The captain is aware of the party's apparent status and experience, and they are asked to the captain's table on two occasions to tell some stories of their recent adventures.

Covering the weather generally over the whole time covered ... 9 days of waiting for the ship, 8 days of ship travel.  The most important characteristic of the weather is that nearly every morning the temperature drops nearly to zero.  There is frost on the ground, or on the guidelines aboard ship, when the sun rises - and still, no day truly produces a killing frost, not yet.  This temperature in the mornings, described as "brisk" - what you would call 32 to 38 degrees - is as cold as it gets.

Before the ship is set to leave Memel, there is another violent storm, this time with a whole gale (worse than before), with winds approaching those of a hurricane ... but the harbor at Memel is well protected, and on the 29th the wind is gentle and promising.  The captain seems unconcerned and his ship slips into the Baltic Sea on a brisk day.  By afternoon the weather is actually pleasant, a fine autumn day upon the sea, and the party's spirits are lifted with the promise of returning to Germany.

The full journey into Lubeck is marred by a brief gale off the coast of Pomerania.  The captain sees it coming from a long distance off, and tacks quickly towards the coast in order to avoid it ... the ship skirts the edge, blowing heavy for three long hours, as the party learns who has a taste for sea travel.  Andrej in particular, being a half-orc (not a mariner species, but a desert people by birth), suffers most of all.  Still, the ship makes its way towards the great bank called Isle Rugen, and thereafter the worst it does is drizzle.  Still, it is a wet journey, with slush on the decks, rime on the ropes and glazed portals, and not what you would think of as an ocean cruise.  When you're told that Lubeck will be the next day, and that the captain has managed not to lose any time on the journey, your hearts are grateful.

It is the 7th of October as the ship draws nearer the great bay upon which Lubeck sits, and the town is a welcome sight.  It is an enormous city, with more than 5,000 buildings, sprawling along the sea, and up into the hills both to the left and right of the harbor.  There are many magnificent palaces, and there are at least five hundred ships in the harbor, many of them in a state of repair.  Lubeck is one of the greatest ports in the world ... and it takes some time for the captain to pick his way through the complex arrangement of private ships to find his particular dock.

As you see the destination, a large wooden platform on piers, with two big red warehouses poised behind, you gain quite a shock.  On the dock is a carraige and a wagon, and two beautiful horses besides.  Emmanuel sits upon the wagon; Serafina's face can be seen through a window of the carriage; and Eberhardt Hornung is holding the reins of the horses.  Behind them are a dozen dwarves, lounging, smoking and waving from a pile of barrels, crates and piled fishnets.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The March to Memel

September 20, 1650, Saturday morning.
Weather: with chilly temperatures and a quickly passing storm, with a strong gale.

The drizzle continues steady all night, while the temperature plummets.  By morning, as the temperature drops all the way to just above freezing, much of the wet upon the stones develops into a soft rime.  This is the coldest the party has faced, and the weather is beyond hideous ... teeth chattering all night, in wet clothes, body aching, no sleep ... chances for catching a bug would be unusually high except that you are out in the relative wilderness.  Still, it is probably the worst night any of you can remember.

Klaas in particular suffers the most - he's the least hardened from the journey, the least prepared for it.  He begins to complain as the night wears on, until finally Batath warns him if he doesn't shut up, Batath will kill him.  The rest of the party would probably raise a hand to stop the thief, but you're all just too goddamn tired, and at any rate you wish, too, that Klaas would just shut up.  Klaas does, and you all suffer in silence for the next long hours.

The drizzle falls away as the wind begins to rise before dawn.  By the time the sun rises, the wind is so strong from the west that the river itself - little more than a flat body of water anyway - is showing wave crests, as are the larger ponds on your left or right.  Now and then you're hit with spindrifts, lines of spatter picked up off the water surface and carried along the wind.  The willow trees, sparse but there, are dancing wildly, looking for all the world as though they will be pulled from the earth and rolled over the landscape.

When the storm comes, the party realizes they must find shelter, though there is none.  The best you can do is a two foot bank along the side of the road, where you cluster together and huddle for what feels like your very life.  Kushi, next to Ahmet, apologizes to the Turk; "After this," says the Dwarf, "I'll kneel down and pray to Allah with you."

Together, locked arm in arm, bags stuffed beneath you to keep them from blowing away, the party feels the clothes on their backs ready to tear.  The storm thickens above you.  Ermeth shouts, "I pray there's no hail!"  And moments later you're drenched, soaked completely through.  The rain hammers the road and the pond surfaces, tearing over the grass in sheets.  Curtain after curtain of hard, cold pellets sting your faces and whiten your knuckles as together you hold on for dear life.

In stages it diminishes.  You relax.  The rain subsides.  There is one last hard fury before it stops altogether.

The world is soaked.  You stand, gather your things, remark upon the horrorshow that has been since leaving Silute, while Andrej no doubt prays for each of you and for himself.  Klaas comes to Andrej and begs to be blessed.  The dwarves treat Andrej as though they are not themselves Russian Orthodox.  You continue along the road.

All the members of the party somehow manage to retain their strength; there are no colds among any of the nine members.  Ahmet suffers 3 damage; Andrej, 2; Lukas & Klaas, 5 damage each.  The dwarves all suffer, and of them, Ermeth is the very worse.  He is limping poorly, and speaks very little.

After the storm, the grass gives way to dispersed croplands; there are fruit orchards; and cattle lowing in fields.  Not much further on is Memel, a sprawling, flat city of some 550 buildings, extending along a stoney spit into the Baltic Sea.

The party has made it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

After the Magic & Crossbows

September 19, 1650, before midnight Friday
Weather: with cool temperatures and a steady drizzle, with a moderate breeze

At the moment the bolts fly, the eyes disappear and there is splashing heard everywhere;  Klaas's second shot is completely blind, as he cannot see a thing to shoot at (but being zero level and somewhat concerned, he shoots anyway).

[For the record, I should point out that I never did get a 2d6 roll for Klaas, to see if his morale is up to it - so I rolled myself]

That is it.  Nothing else seems to happen.  There is no advance from the creatures that the party is able to see.  The party can detect no movement that disturbs the surface of the water, given that it is dark, and the continues to be a very light rain.  The party is getting more damp, and Ahmet, who entered the water, is beginning to shiver.

I don't want to push the time that passes, for I don't want to invest the party, but no matter what you may do, I promise you that for five minutes, nothing happens.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On to Memel, the First Day

September 19, 1650, morning Friday
Weather: With brisk temperatures and an intermittent drizzle, with a light breeze.

Thursday, the temperature never did prove better than cool, and come Friday morning the intermittent drizzle has been going on since late afternoon the day before.  There are distinct signs winter is coming to this land.  There's hardly a green tree left, and the light breeze from the sea is a bit sharper than comfortable.  To remind the party, 'brisk' would be in the 40s ... so all in all, you're not all that anxious to get on the road without coats and perhaps thin gloves.

The road to Memel is well-worn, as you make your way through the land of Samogitia.  You quickly make your way back to the Ferry again, which you saw when you first emerged from the woods Wednesday.  By mid-afternoon, you take note that the hills on the right fall behind you, as you start across a wide, peaty flat.  Although you are moving along the river (the road skirts a hundred yards from it), beyond the river you can see the gray water of a bay of some sort ... there's no sign the river is debouching into it.  The far bank of the river shows a natural levy of silt and sand.  This side of the river is marshy, filled with algae ponds and occasional high points where there are willow trees.
The landscape by early afternoon.

You see a few people coming from Memel, but you overtake no one on your journey and no one overtakes you.  Those travelling opposite are pilgrims or sailors, who will tell you they are coming home for the first time in a year or more ... you meet a cleric returning to his church in a village called Tauroggen.

The afternoon turns pleasant, with clouds in the sky.  In the evening, there's nowhere to camp except along the road, which extends perhaps a dozen feet before the ground becomes spongy and damp.  You finish setting up camp and the drizzle returns.

All day, there have been signs that Kushi, the dwarf, is distinctly unhappy.  This is particularly evident as you are setting up camp ... but Kushi does not say why.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Vilikovsky House in Silute

September 17, 1650, late afternoon Wednesday
Weather: With cool temperatures and a quickly passing storm, with a strong breeze.

Making your way along the road, the clouds spatter rain for ten or twenty minutes, forcing you to take shelter under the trees for a bit ... but it is soon over and the amount of rain does not even wet the ground.

Silute is drawn back quite a way from the river - which as it happens, is in many places bounded on both sides by an extensive flat, three times as wide as the river (a bit of firm ground made a good place for the ferry you've left behind).  This flat is marshy, filled with small frogs and bright green with algae.  The distant river, as far as you can see, flows very slowly.  It is flat and fairly low, this being September.

Silute is little more than a village, with about forty buildings, no wall or battlements at all, and no military presence.  It is extraordinarily peaceful, with only one Inn & Tavern, "The House Vilikovsky."  Available prices are as below:

The sun hasn't set yet.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Emerging From the Woods

It takes very little time, a mere two hundred paces, before the party stumbles across a stony clay path that originates next to five huts on the edge of the wood.  There are a few old women who look up from their dough-making when four humans, a half-orc and four dwarves emerge from the trees.  They seem undisturbed by this, and go on working.  They appear to be in eastern European dress - colorful patterns, bright reds and yellows, wearing Hollar caps, apron-petticoats and slightly pointed shoes.

The path leads directly towards the edge of a mighty river, 250 yards distant.  The river is hundreds of yards wide - the ship mast that was seen earlier belongs to a ship that seems to be floating peacefully down the river, with men aboard busily working at making her ship-shape.  Across the river, the forest seems pretty much the same ... low, gentle hills, quite a sylvan woodland filled with the colors of autumn, and breathtaking despite the overcast sky.  There are some signs that the clouds are brighter and thinner towards the southwest, as you understand the perceived southwest to be.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Behind the Curtain

At last I am free to speak of some things behind the curtain; I can say without equivocation that the crossdimensional door is gone, and the players will not be able to change any of the things I'm going to say now.

I hope you will forgive me for any railroading with the door; I'd like to assure the party that there was a non-door option, but it almost certainly would not have been seen as the desireable one.

My plan, if the party did not take the door, but were instead ready to fight the six marines assaulting the tower, was to have the following occur:

1) To have Nachnamen, the officer left outside the caverns, to make his first appearance on the scene - he would have started, with his men, upon the Worgs below, making it possible for the party to return to the interior of the castle.

2) Once the party had been fighting the men on the tower's crown for six full rounds, on the seventh round I intended to introduce a 7th level fighter, teleported into the tower by one of the mages below on the party's side, who had ALSO realized the Stinger was not functioning.  Determining that a fight was going on there (augury), the fighter Wainscomb was going to be there to back off the men.  All things going well, the party would have lived and Nachnamen's party would have helped heal them, to keep the battle going.

This was, of course, not revealed to the party in the slightest.  It was my intention that the party would need to commit to a moment of possible death - such things are dramatic, after all.

As surmised, yes, the location of the room was entirely random.  It was jumping to those areas where I had mapped, and for which I had area data (updated from the wiki posting), a possible 13,500 hexes (661 of which are in Germany).  For interest's sake, the locations the party appeared (barring this last one) were the Muyun Kum desert, 100 miles north by northwest of Taraz in eastern Kazakhstan; central Moscovy, 40 miles West by southwest of Peroslavl-Ryazan (about a hundred miles from Moskva; the coast of Sivash, 15 miles due east from where the Crimean Peninsula meets the mainland; and finally the Sam-al-Katub desert, about 30 miles from the western shore of the Aral Sea.

If the party feels that they've been treated unfairly, please tell me.  As it happens, its quite a comfortable way for a DM to wrap up a rather difficult battle endgame ... and after all, you did live through it.

The 5th Opening

Ahmet once again opens the door.

Once again, the party finds themselves some 18 feet in the air, above the top of a hill.  The vegetation is somewhat similar to the 2nd Opening ... but where before oak dominated, now it is chestnut trees and maples; there are still a great many aspen.  Where before there were firs, now there are fat spruce, with the occasional cedar.  The forest is thinner, too, and there is more water visible than there was before.  The hill is no more than 50 to 75 feet in height, and the party can see fens with hay at the bottom of the slope.

The landscape is yet lush, and in the full colors of autumn.  The aforementioned hay is brown, as is most of the undergrowth you can see ... this seems somewhat further into the autumn than Germany, or the forest scene before.  But that could be a matter of being further north.

Once again, it is full day, but for the first time, it is overcast.  There's the hint that it might rain.  Janos tells you that he can smell the sea - the salt is blowing in upon the wind, which comes from the left of the doorway.  Janos can also attest to quite a great deal of humanoid traffic - marks upon trees, places where they've been cut from the forest, and even a broken cart he points out, nearly hidden by the trees across from the deluged hay meadow.

No one can be certain where you are - none have any experience with it.

It takes Ermeth to point out that something has changed about the walls of the room.  If you look intently at one place, you begin to believe you can actually see through the wall into the world outside - you cannot gain any detail of that world, but you are quite convinced the room has gained a certain "translucent" quality.

The 4th Opening

As Ahmet swings open the door ...

The door's entrance is 8 feet above the ground.  There is a blast of hot, still air, for the temperature outside is positively sweaty (above 90).

All you can see, in every direction, is a relentless flat, rocky plain that reaches to the horizon.  The stones are fist-sized, black or dark grey in color, resembling broken flint - there is not a single round stone that you can see.  The sun is hot; the sky is azure and harsh to look at.  There's no wind that you can feel.  Where you can feel the sun, standing at the door's edge, the heat falls on your skin like a hammer on an anvil.

No one finds this the least familiar.

The lavender walls of the cross-dimensional room have lightened quite a lot; so that now they are pale in color.

The 3rd Opening

As you swing open the door ...

Now you find the door's entrance some 20 feet above the ground.

You see a shore comprised of tufted grass, white grainy sand mixed with outcroppings of salt and pale blue sloughs, about a dozen of them, tightly grouped along the rim of a larger body of water which does not quite reach to the horizon.  You can just barely see the hazy edge of land about three or four miles away.  The sloughs are clear from your vantage point above them, with brown algae balls rolling on the bottoms, occasionally obscured by the little waves caused by wind rippling over the water surface.

More than anything, however, you notice the stench.  It is profound - a mix of sulphur and something akin to manure, rising from the ponds and filling the air.  The temperature is still warm, much the same as the forest, but here the atmosphere is cloying and thick from the smell.

Andrej is stunned.  He knows where this is.  It's the Sivash Sea, also known as the Rotten Sea, between the Crimea and Kherson.  With the sun behind you, as it was before, you're certainly looking at it from the Crimean side.  Andrej has never been here, but he has heard it described a hundred times; it is at the west end of the Azov Sea, which Andrej crossed when he first went to Europe from Cumana.  Cumana would be some 250 miles from here, perhaps even closer.

It does not appear, however, that 'thinking' has anything to do with the door opening here.

The walls of the room have changed in color; they have shifted from umber, which they were before, to a dark lavender.  You do not know what this means.