Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Munster Cathedral

Friday, September 5, 1650, late afternoon
Weather: pleasant temperatures and heavy clouds rolling from the north, bringing with them a steady drizzle upon a moderate breeze.

Andrej finds himself being fit for clothes that are not his own, but are beyond anything he would have previously experienced.  The robes are heavy and encrusted with hundreds of small stones, the main of them amber, diamonds and pearls, sewn into pure silk cloth lined with soft, intensely worked damask.  The coin value of the robes, he would estimate, would be beyond price ... and certainly, upon seeing himself in the robes, he cannot help but wonder at his own appearance.  It is a long, long way from the grit and hard living regions of Cumana where he was born.

As a host of seamstresses descend upon the robes to refashion them to Andrej's shape, a similar host turns themselves to his appearance of his face.  It is agreed to fit him for a wig, to raise his collar, to apply a smattering of some perfumes to distract from his natural, somewhat unusual odor (earthy) for the Munster congregation, but ultimately to trust to his station to overcome any resistance to his race.

Whereupon, he is brought to the cathedral, to review the space itself:

I had hoped to compare it somehow with something Andrej might know intimately, but I could not find reliable dimensions for the above.  (I would estimate it to be something like a quarter the size of the Prudential Stadium in New Jersey, if that does not detract too much from the moment).  In a word, immense.  The interior is white marble and the space is as large as a cavern.  A hive of activity goes on as carpenters construct tiers of benches for the largest portion of the invited city of Munster, to provide for nearly three thousand persons.

And it is suggested to Andrej, through all of this, that some kind of sermon will be required upon his part.  He would have the sermon he wishes to give ready, would he not?

Eberhardt, Ahmet and Nine-toes

Friday, September 5, 1650, Mid-afternoon
Weather: pleasant temperatures and clear conditions, with a moderate breeze

Eberhardt approaches Nine-toes and Ahmet as they're each resting, remarking on the absence of Andrej, who has at this time been removed to have himself fitted for vestments.  There's a bowl of plums upon a table, and a couple of bottles of Rheinish wine to help ease the time.  I think it probable that Andrej has given Ahmet the balance of his hit points before leaving for the afternoon ... there'd be little reason for him to reserve the spell, considering he's going to be very busy and among other clerics.  Andrej can confirm this.

"I should like to speak to both of you," says Eberhardt.  "I need a pair of spies."

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Show of Force

Friday, September 5, 1650, Early Afternoon
Weather: With pleasant temperatures and clear conditions, with a moderate breeze.

It's cool again in the morning when the party awakes, and the palast floor somewhat cold to walk on as you settle down to a breakfast of floating poached eggs in fish soup and large loaves of rye bread, served with a pitcher of spiced oil.  Eberhardt is awake - there's reason to think that he hasn't been asleep all night.  Upon a table in the central court (where you take your breakfast), there are hundreds of pictures kept in leather bound books, and one in particular that's been laid out - three feet by two feet:

Eberhardt is not able to be questioned, as he's working hard in the study and the scribe balks any attempts to speak with him.  But as it happens, your breakfast is interrupted by the arrival of Her Ladyship Amalia von Nassau-Dillenburg - which initiates a screaming match between her (doing all the screaming) and Eberhardt (who can be heard first mumbling, then thundering).

The jist of this interaction is Eberhardt's decision to postpone the marriage until such a time as the immediate problems he is attempting to sort out are solved; Her Ladyship seems bent on calling him every name in the book, including  a number which a tavern wench would blush to use.  Eberhardt quite clearly disagrees, but Her Ladyship seems unperturbed by his maleness, the quibbling things he finds are important and the general demeanor of "the man she has assented to take on as her adopted son-in-law."

It appears at first that the argument ends with no victors.  But a few minutes after Her Ladyship leaves, a servant comes forward to inform Andrej that the tailors are here, and that he is to present himself to be outfitted for his vestments.

The remainder of you are left to your own devices as the afternoon begins.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Apple Quarter

Thursday, September 4, 1650, Night

With pleasant temperatures and clear conditions, with a moderate breeze.

The night has cleared, and as a force of some forty men gather in the gloom, they are instructed to keep quiet and to keep from putting up any lights.  Eberhardt gives orders for two groups of twelve to move out and encicle the Quarter, catching anyone they can, and to do as little as possible to tear anything apart or seize goods - as anything they find could be important.  They are to barge in, place anyone they find under arrest, keep them under control and await further orders.

If this all seems Draconian, Eberhardt does not seem to be aware of it.  He will add, "Let us be thorough, and treat the people with respect!  Do not hurt them, they are yet citizens - strike them with clubs quickly across the backs of their skulls, but there's no need to hit them repeatedly.  A child can be put easily down with the back of your hand, and then kicked if need be.  If anyone appears to resist or tries to run away, or stop you from carrying out these orders, then you might have to kill them ... is that understood?"

Assent goes up, but not too loudly.  The men split into three groups, Eberhardt waits for the two groups on either side to get into position, and then starts his own group of sixteen men towards the Quarter.  The party can throw in wherever they think appropriate (give your position prior to Eberhardt marching forward).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eberhardt's Tale

Thursday, September 4, 1650, Evening

Weather:  pleasant temperatures and overcast conditions, with a fresh breeze.

Despite their vigilence, the party experiences no action of any kind.  In the early afternoon, the stable boy sends word through the valet that your horses have been groomed and fed.  You learn that steps are being taken to clothe Andrej for the wedding, and that the Prefect has been informed that Andrej will perform the ceremony ... Andrej is to go to the prefect's church to be fitted in the morning.

Serafina sends word that she is spending the evening with friends, still making arrangements, and that as per agreement, she and Eberhardt will not see each other again until the wedding.  She will be living in the heart of town with the Baroness Milliscent de Coesfeld.

Eberhardt arrives late for dinner.  His face is dark with anger, and it takes some time for him to settle and stop shouting at the servants - some of which seems to be focused on wishing he could speak with Serafina just now - before he can explain what he's discovered.

First of all, while you are digesting your eaten portions from a roast haunch of mutton, he will explain that he had to give 4,000 g.p. in collection to the missing Bishop in order to obtain the Bishop's presence, the use of the church and the blessing of the Bishop on the marriage.  He was going to have Andrej perform the ceremony, but he still expected the Bishop's blessing, as it would carry considerable weight.  The Bishop is one of perhaps five premier catholic leaders in all of Northern Europe.

As such, Eberhardt would know why he would not now be receiving this.

To begin with, he learned that the Bishop did not leave the evening before, but in fact that he left at 3 a.m. in the morning ('the third bell') ... and that he did so in a carriage, at breakneck speed, this according to the guards at Munster's South Gate.

Investigating further, by pigeon and by a friend with means, Eberhardt has been able to confirm that no special circumstances are known which would compel the Bishop to return to his lands, which would be Arnsberg in Hochsauerland, as stated before.  Yet this clearly seems to be the Bishop's intent, as he took the road to Ahlen and Hamme, and the Bishop's letter stated as much.  Arnsberg, so say Eberhardt's sources, is peaceful and quiet.  To leave to quell an uprising could be understood ... but to manage mere personal affairs, this is intolerable.

Eberhardt was also able to learn that the Bishop's whole demeanor the evening before leaving was quite typical, so said the servants he was able to speak with.  So some news certainly came to the Bishop that caused this change.

As this is said, the entire company is present, excepting the footmen and groom looking waiting upon Serafina.  There is word that the scribe will be returning within the hour.  Fatima is seated upon a bench against the wall, behind Ahmet, and has refused four times to return to her room as he has ordered her.  Eberhardt has said, "let the matter be," so as to continue the conversation.

"I cannot think what would have compelled the Bishop to such action."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Munster in the Morning; a Startling Revelation

Thursday, September 4, 1650

Weather:  with cool temperatures and overcast conditions, with a fresh breeze.

The next morning, the house bustles about getting itself in order for the day.  Emmanuel looks over the equipment, the men-at-arms express their amazement at their sudden change in fortune, Ahmet glowers about at every new thing, Andrej says a prayer or two to obtain his spells back ... and Nine-toes completes his ablutions, heads back to the main floor and finds himself face-to-face with Fatima.

She has been given new clothes to wear by Serafina, who is standing just behind her - and now that she is clean and wearing garb that Nine-toes identifies with his southern German heritage (for Serafina obtained a whole new wardrobe there), he is stunned to discover how beautiful Fatima really is:  with olive, Mediterranean skin, and chestnut brown eyes, with sooty black hair, thick and coarse and with a very healthy growth, now combed out and resting in curls upon her shoulders.

Meanwhile, downstairs, a messenger arrives at the house - a lesser deacon, who bears a written word from the Prince-Bishop of Munster.  Eberhardt reads it in the hall while the early meal is prepared, as the party settles down to tea, and his face darkens.  He reads it for all to hear:

Herr Hornung,

You will please forgive me if I find I shall have to return immediately to my estates at Hochsauerland to manage troubles there.  I extend my apologies to you and to your charming bride, for I find my attendance in Munster cannot be managed.  I leave immediately, and will be gone this day before the sun rises; I have made arrangements for the Prefect of Ahlen to perform your wedding.

His Holiness the Archbishop Ferdinand von Bayern,
Prince-Bishop of Cologne, Hildesheim, Liege, Munster and Paderborn

"Estates?" roars Hornung.  "Is there a rebellion?  Is there a WAR?  What treachery is this?"

Monday, January 16, 2012

Andrej in Munster

Wednesday, September 3, 1650
Moon & weather unchanged

With Ahmet sent to speak to Fatima in private, Andrej is brought into the drawing room to speak with Eberhardt and Serafina.  Upon being settled and made comfortable, and tea and a little food served, they answer some of Andrej's questions.

There has been much going on in Dachau; the town was discovered to have been infiltrated with dopplegangers, who are presently being cleared out of the town.  It is a difficult task, but two were found early on at the highest level of authority, and two others masquerading as members of the town guard.  Things look very much like the troubles will be solved before the winter settles in.

Delfig, unfortunately, was imprisoned by the dopplegangers, it appears, and committed suicide in his prison cell.  It was an awful tragedy.

Ahmet in Munster

Wednesday, September 3, 1650
Moon & weather unchanged

Ahmet & Andrej, with Fatima, are brought to the Palast der Hornung with Eberhardt and Serafina, and the coachmen are sent on to the inn to fetch Emmanuel, the men at arms and your gear.  The Palast is rather fabulous, with a high stone wall, a massive iron gate and a courtyard large enough for three tennis courts.  The gate is opened for the party and the coach delivers you before the main building - three stories, square in shape with many small windows ... some 60' wide and 40' high.  As is typical of German buildings, there is little facade, but the place is bigger than an inn and features a large iron entrance door, some five feet wide and nine feet high.

Eberhardt Hornung lays hands upon Fatima, and the scratches on her body heal and her bruises subside.  At this point Fatima is asked if she wishes to lay down, and Fatima expresses a desire to speak to her cousin Ahmet in person.  You're both shown to a large room on the second floor, and a dinner is sent up to you.

"My cousin," begins Fatima.  "I have come a long way to find you and tell you something.  I did not even know if I would find you ... I only knew that you had gone to Europe.  I enlisted an Imam to help me trace you down through the will of Allah.  When I was kidnapped in Genoa ..."  Here she breaks down, and finds it difficult to go on.

Nine-toes in Munster

Wednesday, September 3, 1650
Moon & weather unchanged

Nine-toes and Brother Paul both rush into the warehouse, seeing the second of two thugs climbing up a ladder onto the second floor.  It takes little time for the monks to follow, Brother Paul leading the way. As Nine-toes reaches the second floor, however, the two men separate.  One, on the right, is running the length of the warehouse for a far shuttered window; the other dives out a window on the left.

"Take that one," says Brother Paul, pointing to the left, where there is now only an empty window.  "I'll take the other.  I'll meet you at the Inn of the Four Drums!"

And with that, Brother Paul speeds away.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On to Münster

Wednesday, September 3, 1650 (evening)

Weather:  Warm and drizzling, with intermittent light rainfall and a moderate breeze.

The party awakes in Lingen to a distinctly brisk morning, the first real sign that Summer has definitely departed.  There is a very heavy fog as you break camp, thick enough that Ahmet finds he must stumble around a moment just to find the horses.  Even as the fog lifts there's virtually no wind ... but at least the party can get upon the road heading south towards a town called Rheine.  It rains in scattered bits all day, the coolness lasting until the early afternoon (with your cloaks wrapped tight around you as you begin to contemplate that winter is but a few months away).

You cannot help taking note that the road is nearly empty.  You see not one cart, not one wagon, all day.  There are a few traders or peddlars moving on the road, and a group of quiet monks who acknowledge you with signs but do not talk.  You make good time with the wagon, as the horses work harder in the cooler temperatures, and you reach Rheine with plenty of sun to spare.  The town is good sized, with nearly 400 buildings, with much new construction - the town was razed rather badly, you learn, during the long war.

This comes from a peddler, told as you're all making your way down a slope towards the town.  He happens to mention he'll be bypassing the town walls to an Inn three miles further along the road.  It seems like such a good idea - and no harm done in the end, so pardon the DM for 'railroading' - that you follow the peddlar there.  The cost is a coin less than the cost for the Inn in Lingen, and a storyteller who happens to be present makes the evening worthwhile.  Alas, he tells stories the party knows already, but ones from your childhood, so the night is pleasant.

The better temperatures remain through the night and you awake to find a pleasant, sunny day.  There's a fresh breeze blowing from the east.  Unfortunately, however, once you get south of the smaller, ordinary town of Emsdetten (more than 200 buildings), it doesn't last.  While the temperature holds, and even improves until it is warm, there's a squall of small storms that hit you, three of them in a row.  You're a bit damp, but none the worse for wear, as you come into Münster that evening.

Münster is a large city, the largest the party has been in since beginning this campaign - more than 2,000 buildings.  It is walled and circular, with two magnificent church spires and an impressive cathedral.  There's a large market, a university, a library and a catholic seminary, and Andrej recalls from his memory that Münster was a leading member of the old Hanseatic League, which once controlled trade in Germany.

The party finds themselves in the largest square, the Prinzipalmarkt, after that market has closed for the day, and the shops as well.  But plenty of beerhauses and inns are open and available for travellers.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Hard, Busy Road to Lingen

Monday, September 1, 1650

Weather: cool in the morning, ranging to pleasant and even warm in the afternoon, when a full sunny day emerges.  The evening is pleasant also, and there is no rainfall throughout the day.

Despite the beautiful weather - and it feels good on your bodies to have a really nice day - you are all tired from the boat ride and from not having slept in a real bed for a week.  Each of you suffers 1 point of damage (note, the NPCs also, but not the animals) from the journey.

The road to Lingen from Meppen is no less crowded with carts and wagons, forcing the party to stand to the side of the road again and again as caravans roll past.  Thus, although Lingen is only 9 miles south of Meppen, it takes you nearly all day to reach the former town - a fair sized burgh of about 2,500 residents.  You're grateful to find, however, that the town itself is nearly empty ... a few words with the guards reveals that the day promising to be so pleasant, the local priests encouraged everyone to take advantage to get their produce to market.  Thus, there isn't a wagon to be found in town ... but there are inn rooms available.  You may address the prices table from Leer for the amount; there's nothing else to buy in Lingen at the moment, as the town market has evaporated, and Lingen itself does not have a trading market.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Arriving in Meppen Sunday

Sunday, August 31, 1650

Cool temperatures with drizzling conditions.  A light rainfall lasts for about 35 minutes, to be followed by fresh, chilling breeze.

As it happens, when the party wakes up Thursday morning on the 28th, they find they have suffered a point of damage through the night.  And worse, the trip aboard the barge does not prove to be as 'restful' as the party might wish.  While each day you do rest and gain a hit point, the conditions are so unpleasant that you lose one in turn.  Ahmet alone, who is able to gain two h.p. per day in rest, accumulates hit points - but the rest of the party breaks even.

It rains.  It rains and it rains.  Friday alone brings a respite, though the breeze is unpleasant after the four hours of steady rain that falls late Thursday; and the rain that falls all day long on Saturday is not at all pleasant, nor is the rain that falls all night into Sunday morning, and Sunday afternoon, and briefly Sunday evening as the party reaches the dock in Meppen.

The rain is by and large light, but there is a whole lot of it.  The deck of the barge leaves little room for shelter, though the captain does allow the party to set up their tents.  The beam of the barge is, however, only a few feet above the waterline, and when the wind whips up it sprays off the river Ems.  The deck does not dry, as you do not see the sun at all except briefly Friday morning.  Between rain and overcast conditions, there's fog Thursday and mist for most of Sunday.  All in all, thoroughly unpleasant.

The barges going down the river are loaded up to thirty feet high with hay and sacks of grain and vegetables, often to the point where you wonder why they don't topple over.  Men with poles pass your barge within a few feet, near enough to jump the distance, and the crew of the barge is friendly and knowing of those crews of other barges.  Sometimes a bottle of wine is passed back and forth while the barges go by one another, along with jests and boasts.

The captain keeps a cauldron of tea boiling throughout the journey, into which he dumps lumps of hard candy which slowly melts and sweetens the tea.  The party is invited to drink the tea, and even some of the wine shared among the other boatmen.  They find themselves at least enjoying the camaraderie, and the sense that the river is a community, and not a group of isolated boats.

Papenburg, you can see as you go by mid-Friday, is a mere fort, an outpost in the forest by the river, without even a significant dock for traffic.  That evening the woods look spooky and dangerous, full of fens along the banks, and you're glad when you get another day up the river  and the ground turns more solid and with a few more farms.  However, you see no manors of any kind, only isolated cotters, each apparently with their small private dock extending onto the river.  Some of these docks have rowboats, but most do not.  The farms have all been harvested - you see none where the grain is still standing.

Meppen is a small town of about 1,700, swamped at the moment by farmers who have stacked miles of stacked hay and thousands of sacks near the large dock.  The Ems here is met by the Hase and the Nordradde rivers, which swell it enough to be navigable.  Meppen is a walled town, but charges no entry fee throughout the month of August and September (you are told) ... but there is no market here, either.  A road south to Lingen is clearly marked, as is another road to Emmen to the west.  Cart-tracks leave out for Nordhorn, Diepholtz and Oldenburg.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Day In Leer

Wednesday, August 27, 1650

Weather:  It has been uncharacteristically lacking in rain for the last three days; temperatures have been consistently cool in the mornings, however, and conditions effectively overcast.  As you leave Engleke Wednesday morning, and arrive in Leer three hours later, the temperature has risen to being pleasant, with clouds and a gentle breeze.

Leer is as the party left it last week; it was unhindered by the pirates, and in fact has swollen a bit with people rushing in to seek supplies that have been plundered.  Thus the road to, and the town itself, is quite busy, but the merchants in Leer have plundered their storehouses in an attempt to sell all they can in these good times (for them).  From the street shown on the right, you can imagine what it is like trying to get your wagon, horses and group through the throng of people who have descended upon the town.  But there is a promise of more goods being shipped from elsewhere to compensate the people's troubles, and all is well.

The party also encounters a group of five hundred (thereabouts) pilgrims who have set themselves up in one portion of the farmer's market on the edge of town.  You may recall my mentioning that Leer is unwalled, and normally has about 3,000 people; at present, this number has swollen to double its usual size, but even at that these pilgrims can be seen everywhere.  They are uniquely dressed, in brown robes, red or bright green belts and white cowls, the men all with shaved heads and the women wearing hollar caps with red fringing.  Very little inquiry tells you that most of them have had their heads shaved in just the last few days - and it fact you discover a host of barbers are hard at work shaving the heads of even more men.

This party of pilgrims is gathering in Leer from throughout Germany; they are Roman Catholics, and are determined to leave upon the 1st of September for the Holy Shrine in Santiago de Compostela, in Spain, expecting to arrive there in four to six months.  Besides provisioning, praying, having their heads shaved (sometimes more than once), and exhorting others about them to join their pilgrimage, they are a jolly, pleasant bunch, and have brought much money to the town by their presence.

If the party will take its time and come to a clear, definite decision about what they will do next, we can begin the campaign again in earnest.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The World South of Engelke

Let's again have an overview of the regions south of the Party's position in Engleke and Leer; following the battle against the pirates, Vorhein the bartender is so pleased he will give the party food and lodging for free all Tuesday day and the night before Wednesday (everyone can have 1 hit point healing and Andrej can cast a day's worth of spells if he likes).  During that time, the party might get a chance to chat with a few people about politics and travel - it is on people's minds, what with recent events, and strangers are anxious to talk.

Let's begin with the elevation map (you can find Engleke top centre):

Much of the country is still flat - with parts of Holland to the west below sea level.  Note the Zuider Zee (the inlet in the centre of Holland) is larger on this map than you'll find on a modern map ... I tool a lot of trouble to use a map from the 17th century to depict Holland as it might have appeared centuries ago.  Take note of the Weihen Hills in the vicinity of Osnabruck, and those south of Paderborn and Hamme, in the southeast.  The latter are the Sauerland 'mountains.'

The huge river to the southwest is, of course, the Rhine, splitting in two below Emmerich.  The other river paralleling the Rhine is the Moselle, descending from France.  The party is already familiar with the Weser west of Engleke.  That one slightly smaller river draining through Leer is, you'll remember, the Ems.

There is an abundance of trade centres, particularly in the Ruhr valley - that's the concentrated area at the bottom centre of the map, with Crefeld, Dusseldorf, Essen, Duisburg, Gelsenkirchen, Venlo, Wesel, Bochum, Recklinghausen, Dortmund and Hamme ... plus a constellation of others surrounding those.  This is the most intense industrial region of both the real world and my D&D campaign - with access to the sea and inland Europe.  It is fair to consider that there are roads through virtually every part of the map ... the population made more clear by this second map, below:

Depending on your zoom, the patterning on this map can be a bit hard to read, but adjust it until its comfortable.  The region represents a very intense population density (there's more to the south and west - on a large map it's very impressive).  Naturally, this is no less that what might be expected from Holland.  Still, there is a large deciduous forest in Lower Saxony, stretching from Oldenburg to Hochsauerland - its a well-watered country, with plenty of small lakes not showing.  The edge of the moors along the North Sea are just visible along the top of the map.

There are some quite large monsters in this forest country, some as large as five tons, which Andrej can testify to as he's seen on in the flesh.  Most of the goblins that once dwelt here are believed to have been wiped out, but there are known caves with deep tunnels, said to be occupied by morlocks, in the Teutoburger Wald, the forest encircling the cropland of Bielefeld and Herford.  Gutersloh would be in the South Teutoburger Wald.  And there is an abundance of bandits.

And, of course, here's the political map:

I had to simplify and change the colorscheme from the last map - I was running out of colors.  For simplicity, all of the free Netherlands is one color; a small corner of the Spanish Netherlands shows in the bottom left, and a bit of Swedish Germany; and the remaining areas of the Holy Roman Empire are divided according to their houses.

Holland has been free of war since 1640, when it won at last its freedom from Spain, after 80 years.  The people there are very much against war of any kind; they anxiously defend their personal rights; and they already have an earned reputation for having the most civilized society anywhere.

The Holy Roman Empire, as you know, is anything but peaceful.  The various houses - particularly Brandenburg and Nassau - vie for control of the independent territories through marriage, plotting and plain crookedness.  Munster is fairly peaceful, and represents (along with Engleke) the strongest Catholic presence.  The remainder of the map, except for the tiny part of Spain, is Protestant - Lutheran in the Holy Roman Empire, and Calvinist/Huguenot in the Netherlands ("Orangemen").  But of course the principle worship everywhere is money.  This area represents a lot of it, along with many millions of people.

I'm not sure if I've explained this, but there are several Free Cities - these are cities shown with a thick gray circle around them: Turnhout, Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg and Herford are those showing on the map.  These are usually fully independent, nominally under the Emperor, with complete rights to trade (no duties paid to the Emperor).  Herford, it bears mentioning, is part of the Brandenburg estates.

You can read about The Vest here.  What's more, you should be able to find links for all of the regions shown on this map.