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It started in Saltmarsh...
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Location: LG Dyvers

PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2019 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tyrius' trials were very cool. Eddard Allen Lane seems a beautifully colored stallion, but you didn't say what kind of horse he is. I note that in your list of types you mentioned Rounceys, Palfreys, and Jennets; coursers, destriers, and chargers generally, but I desire more specifics. Is Eddard a Shire, Clydesdale, Belgian, Friesian, Gypsy, Percheron, Andalusian, what?! Smile

Secondly, I appreciated most of the personal goals for the characters, but Barnabus' personal goal encouraged his player to play him in a greedy fashion, which seems detrimental to the party and the player. Did the other players ever know his goal was to pilfer from the party? How did that information to over with the other players?

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Master Greytalker

Joined: Jan 05, 2002
Posts: 618
Location: Sky Island, So Cal

PostPosted: Sat Sep 07, 2019 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SirXaris wrote:
Eddard Allen Lane seems a beautifully colored stallion, but you didn't say what kind of horse he is. Is Eddard a Shire, Clydesdale, Belgian, Friesian, Gypsy, Percheron, Andalusian, what?!

I would be uncomfortable using any of those terms as they relate to specific places in RW Europe, and thus they take me "out" of Greyhawk. I try to avoid such words - I'm even on the fence about turquoise! But if I had to specify a RW breed for Eddard, I would say he likely is close to a Grand Boulonnais but with feathering.

SirXaris wrote:
Secondly, I appreciated most of the personal goals for the characters, but Barnabus' personal goal encouraged his player to play him in a greedy fashion, which seems detrimental to the party and the player. Did the other players ever know his goal was to pilfer from the party? How did that information to over with the other players?

Most of the characters shared their personal goals - Barnabus did not.

I am not a fan of PvP as it promotes hard feelings and ultimately shortens the lifetime of a campaign. As a DM I might play on pre-existing party tensions for dramatic effect, but giving a character a leveling goal specifically to create conflict in the party would be off my table. For your question, it is important to understand that Barnabus' character had been established by the player as selfish and larcenous from the very start - way back in post 10, the very first treasure found by anyone was a magic ring which Barnabus found and kept, not mentioning it to the party. So they have known for a long time that that is how Barnabus is played. With the leveling goal of acquiring 500gp, I didn't see myself as promoting division in the party, but rather as rewarding role play and character goals that had already been well established.

As far as how the other characters react: Aurora has always been an occasional ally of Barnabus. When arguing for more risk / more reward, they can count on each other's votes, and she is happy to use him as a counterbalance to the other two leaders, Willa and Tyrius, both of whom are more lawful than she is.

Willa doesn't much care for Barnabus, but she finds him useful, both for reconnescence and in combat (rogues in 5E have a great "burst damage" - when he hits with "sneak attack", he is equal to any of the fighters). She begrudgingly accepts him, knowing that constantly being on the lookout for his petty thefts is the price of his being useful.

Tyrius is the only one who really "objects" to Barnabus' attempts to steal from the party - but he also feels responsible for trying to "save" him. For him, the loss to the party treasure is not as important as the danger to Barnabus' soul. Barnabus and Tyrius play a constant cat-and-mouse, with Barnabus trying to pocket valuables before being detected, and Tyrius trying to discover him and force him to turn things over. Certainly this dynamic might threaten to devolve into PvP if one of them "beat" the other one with frequency. But the interesting wrinkle is that both Barnabus and Tyrius are played by the same player! So there are no hard feelings regardless of who wins.

Finally, it is worth noting that Barnabus has never and would never steal directly from the party members. That is, once a coin or gem has been declared party treasure and is in someone's pocket, it is off-limits due to his own personal sense of honor. He spends his effort in trying to discover treasures and take them for himself before the rest of the party knows that they exist. "The chest was empty when I found it" at every opportunity, but never "When no one is looking I go through Larry's bags."
My campaigns are multilayered tapestries upon which I texture themes and subject matter which, quite frankly, would simply be too strong for your hobbyist gamer.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:04 pm    Post subject: Post 81: The Price of Forbidden Knowledge Reply with quote

DM's Note: Done with Ravenloft, the party has now returned to a wilderness journey.

By far the best source for maps of Greyhawk comes from the work of Anna B Meyer. I used for the party's travel.

This post centers around the area of the Dreadwood labeled the "Owl Stream". I would highly encourage any DM to use her work, and anyone with the means to do so to support her Patreon at

Post 81: The Price of Forbidden Knowledge

24 October, 570 - Owl Stream outside Barovia

The party (minus Tyrius) move swiftly down the ravine, and the log proves far easier to control running downstream than it did coming in and up. It is only a few minutes later when they are pulling up to the embankment where they first felled the trees and mounted the log. Four men stand on the shore.

(2pm) One of the men is obviously a knight in full plate armor (though he holds his great helm in hand and his head is bare), the second a squire or retainer in studded leather. The two remaining appear to be common foot soldiers, with shields and chain shirts.

The party disembarks cautiously, facing the four men. “Hail!” calls the knight. “Are you Aurora of Ulek?” A scar runs down the length of the man’s face.

“I am,” replies Aurora. She and Thokk move to the front. Aurora carefully studies the devices on the tabards of the men. The squire and footmen are in the livery of the Baron of Greyhill. The knight wears the black lion on a red field that signifies the Kingdom of Keoland - but he has no personal device - neither on his tabard nor helm, and he does not bear a shield. A common soldier might wear only the arms of his liege, but a knight typically bears a personal device as well.

The knight continues speaking. “The Silent Ones told me that the arcane boundaries around the lands of the vampire had fallen - and that their divinations were now able to penetrate and discern a book, called the “Chronicle of Secret Times”. Do you bear such a book out of those cursed lands?”

Aurora swallows. She remembers that the Silent Ones are sorcerers - a powerful group of sorcerers who serve the King of Keoland. Can she trust this knight? She pauses as long as she dares to let those behind her position themselves.

Barnabus, in the rear, is scanning the woods. He sees elven bowmen, under cover - both up the embankment behind these men, but also on the other side of the stream behind the party, even a few on the ridge far overhead. They are completely surrounded. He wants to warn Aurora, but not interrupt the conversation and draw the suspicion of the knight. Why doesn’t Aurora contact him through message?

“I say,” repeats the knight, “do you bear such a book?”

“Indeed I do,” says Aurora. “I recovered it from the castle of the vampire lord.”

“I thought as much - may I see it?”

The man’s words are polite but his tone is commanding. Aurora takes off her pack, then removes the large, leather-bound book. She offers it to the man.

The knight takes the book carefully from her and begins to leaf through it. “Hmm,” he says, “it is in Suelese.”

“Yes,” affirms Aurora, “ancient Suelese. Can you read it?” She tries to think quickly. The most powerful houses of Keoland are the Rhola and Neheli, both descendants of the Suel refugees who founded the Kingdom. They still speak Suelese at court, rather than Common, through pride, and any of them that were literate could read modern Suelese. But it would take a true scholar to be able to read ancient Suelese, the form of the language used a thousand years ago. Other noble houses in Keoland are of Oeridian origin - they might, or might not, be able to recognize the writing as Suelese, but would be highly unlikely to note the difference between the ancient and modern forms or be able to read either.

“No,” demurs the knight. “Fortunately, I cannot. I take it you can?”

“Yes, good sir. I am a scholar.”

“I see. And have you read it?”

“Well, not completely, but I have begun, yes.”

The knight nods, then closes the book and passes it to the squire. He draws his sword. “Aurora of Ulek, I declare you to be under arrest in the name of the King. Surrender, and neither you nor your companions will be harmed.”

<Oh ****. **** **** ****.> “Arrest?” Aurora tries, but fails, to make her tone sound unconcerned. “On what charge?” Behind her, Willa takes a step backward, to the log, and Barnabus ducks out of sight.

“Possession and use of forbidden knowledge,” the knight says. He gestures to the footmen, “Seize her.”

As the men stride forward, Thokk draws his sword and bars their way. The squire, clutching the book tightly to his chest, backs away.

<Curse me for a fool>, thinks Aurora. <Why don’t I just use mage armor every morning?> She takes a step back, smiles at the knight, tries to surreptitiously cast her mage armor spell.

From the forested embankment behind the knight, a voice calls out in elven, “Casting!” Instantly the air is filled with the thrum of bowstrings and the whish of arrows. A volley of five shafts, all directed at Aurora, shoot forth. Despite her armor, she is hit. They are followed by a second volley - Aurora collapses, unconscious.

The knight raises his hand. “Hold!” he calls, “Hold your fire!”

“errrrrARRRRRGH!” screams Thokk, setting upon the footmen in front of him.

Willa dashes to Aurora’s side, drags, lifts, and lays her body on the log, trying to shield her from more arrows. She pushes the log away from the bank and out into the current of the stream.

The knight and squire fall back from the melee, leaving the two footmen to face Thokk alone. “Raise the net!” calls the knight. Downstream, two men hidden in the brush stand, then begin hauling on ropes. The ropes go up into the trees then down again into the water. A thick net, as wide as the stream bed, begins to rise, dripping, out of the water into the air.

“Babshapka!” yells Willa. Aurora’s bodyguard had begun to move into the brush to flank the archers, but now turns and sees his charge unconscious on the log.

From the reeds along the riverbank Barnabus slips forward, unseen. He comes up behind the squire, strikes the book suddenly from below with both hands. The startled squire loses his grip and the book flies into the air. The squire turns and draws his rapier, but Barnabus catches the book upon its descent and begins to back away.

Thokk has begun to trade blows with the two footmen.

Babshapka sprints to the stream, and does a leaping dive, becoming Mantabshapka when he hits the water. Swimming downstream, he is easily able to pass in front of the log. Gathering speed, he leaps from the water and sets upon the men holding the ropes that sustain the net. By the time Willa reaches it, both men and and one corner of the net are down - she cuts open the second corner and the net, now freed from the ropes, drifts downstream with the log.

The squire approaches Barnabus in a curious sidelong stance. His arm darts forward, faster than Barnabus can follow, and the rapier plunges into Barnabus’ arm, just above the elbow. The halfling grunts and drops the book, then is forced to backpedal as the rapier thrusts at his throat. He parries with a dagger, but the squire is now standing with one foot on the book and the rapier between himself and Barnabus.

The knight calls out, “Units 1, 3, and 5, pursue and engage! Take them alive!” Instantly there is movement in the woods on both banks of the river. Bowmen begin loosing arrows at the log as they pursue downstream - footmen start crashing through the underbrush.

At the sudden appearance of what is easily a score of opponents, Larry doesn’t like the odds. He sends a healing word in the direction of the log (making Aurora’s eyelids flutter), checks the wind, then calls into being billowing gouts of fog. The fog starts to fill the valley bottom first, then creeps higher up the embankments. In a matter of moments it is so dense that vision is limited to a few feet at best.

“Let’s go!” cries Willa behind her, while she holds the limp body of Aurora on the log. Thokk takes advantage of the fog to retreat from the combat, then wades into the stream and begins swimming, although the pack on his back makes his strokes awkward. When he reaches the log he grabs onto the back with his arms, but begins kicking with his massive thighs, propelling the log forward faster than the current.

Larry is using the stream bed to find his way downstream in the fog. He comes upon Barnabus facing off against the squire. Barnabus is bleeding from several different rapier wounds. “Thanks for the fog…” he begins, but when Larry gets close enough to see that the squire is standing on the book, the dwarf slams his staff into the ground and summons a great thunderwave. Barnabus is thrown up into the air, does a backflip-and-tuck, and drops down into the stream. When he comes up, the fog prevents him from seeing Larry, so he begins swimming downstream.

The two footmen are knocked to the ground by the force of the thunderwave, and don’t get up. The knight is unsteady on his feet; the squire has gone down to one knee but is still on top of the book.

Aurora, face down with her body draped over the log, struggles to sit up. Behind them the streambed is obscured with a dense layer of fog, but the higher slopes are visible. Along both sides of the river, numerous elven bowmen in the green and brown of scouting troops move silently through the trees. Now and then they pause to take a shot, and arrows are hitting the log, the water, and Willa’s plate armor. Suddenly Aurora feels dizzy, and spots an elven mage surrounded by a circle of human footmen who are having considerably more difficulty at moving through the forest than the bowmen are. <Sleep?> Aurora asks herself. <Mage, please, my father was an elf!> She sends a hail of magic missiles at the caster. He falls to the ground, rises, then takes cover.

Willa does a headcount. Aurora is back in the fight, thankfully. Thokk is propelling the log. Mantabshapka is swimming ahead, checking for large rocks and other obstacles and maneuvering the prow of the log around them. Barnabus has just dragged himself aboard. That leaves...Larry? Where is Larry? From behind them, deep in the fog, comes another great peal of thunder, and spray flies off the stream. “Thokk!” yells Willa, turning and shouting at the half-submerged barbarian. “Go back and get Larry! Get Larry!”

Thokk stops kicking, lets go of the log for a moment, and seems to be thrashing about in the water. <What is he doing?> Willa asks herself, but is then answered by his sodden pack flying toward her. It is all she can do to catch it without falling off the log, and by the time she rights herself, he is disappearing back into the fog covering the stream.

Without Thokk’s propulsion, the log slows to the leisurely speed of the current. The footmen are now gaining on them, the bowmen are loosing more and more shots. The mage sticks his head up, sends magic missiles of his own at Aurora. Willa sees the flash and hears the hiss of the missiles, and then the enchantress beside her collapses unconscious again. Willa tries to paddle with her greatsword still in its scabbard, but the blade is too narrow and slices ineffectually through the water. <We are literally up **** creek without a paddle>, Willa thinks giddily to herself as another arrow lodges into the log inches from her leg.

Thokk emerges from the fog upstream of the log, pulling himself forward with strokes of one massive arm while the other drags Larry, coughing and sputtering, behind him. Ignoring the arrows, Thokk pulls up alongside the log, allowing Larry to grab it before he moves back and resumes his kicking. Is he...grinning? <Yes>, thinks Willa. <Thokk is enjoying himself!>

Larry hauls himself up on the log, looking about at the bowmen on the banks as if seeking a target. “No!” Willa tells him. “Get Aurora up first!” Larry lays a hand on the slumped body of the wizard and whispers a healing prayer. Aurora sucks in a great breath and again sits up.

As Aurora looks about her, arrows continue to fly. “What, still?” she says incredulously. She turns over her right shoulder and moves her hand as if throwing something. She lobs a ball of sulfurous-yellow in a long, low arc. When it hits the ground near the elven caster, a fiery explosion rocks the embankment. Earth, stones, and splintered wood fly into the air - bodies of elves and humans alike are knocked down. Low flames burn fitfully in the bushes. Willa hopes the ground near the stream is damp enough that the fire burns out without spreading through the forest.

“Stop following us!” shrieks Aurora, as if that would somehow sway their pursuers. Then, with a complicated motion of her hands, all along the embankment thick black webs appear, stretching from tree to tree and blocking passage. Within moments, their only pursuers are a small squad of bowmen on the south bank. Aurora turns that way, blocks their passage with webs as well. But as Willa watches, every strand strung from a tree on the south bank seems to erase one on the north bank, until that way is clear again. Willa taps Aurora on the shoulder, points at the north bank.

“Oh, right,” Aurora says. “Concentration spell.”

But after the fireball, their pursuers are more cautious, moving from cover to cover and not chancing as many bow shots. The stream is picking up speed, passing through a more steeply sloped section of miniature rapids. They leave the footmen behind, and even after the stream levels out the bowman fall back as well, only occasionally appearing in the distance, tracking them but not firing arrows.

Willa picks out a large tree far ahead, estimates the distance, counts the seconds until they pass it. They are not moving fast, but are certainly going faster than Larry and Barnabus can walk. “We’ve got to stay ahead of them,” she says to Aurora. “We should stay in the stream for now.” Aurora nods.

Eventually Thokk tires and his kicks grow slower, but the log doesn’t seem to be slowing. Willa realizes the current is picking up - the stream is deeper and wider than when they started, having gathered with it several tributaries since their escape. The trees in front of them are thinning as well. “Thokk, rest!” she says, then “Hush!” to the others when he ceases kicking. The forest is still, with only a light wind and birdsong to be heard - but also a low, rushing noise. “Thokk, eyes back!” Willa says. Panting heavily, Thokk hauls himself up on the log, straddles it facing backwards, and scans the forest behind them. “Babshapka, eyes front!” Willa calls to the manta-elf, and he dives, moving forward rapidly through the water. As they wait for his return, the rushing noise grows louder. Willa always knew she would be captain of her own vessel someday - she just didn’t know it would be a log!

When Babshapka pulls himself half out of the water, he tells them, “Waterfall ahead!”, then gestures at the north bank. He and Thokk kick the log over to the side of the stream where it slows, and finally grounds in the soft earth.

Willa and the others move quickly forward along the stream bank to see. They are at the top of a cliff face, and the stream plunges over a cataract and down some eighty feet into a small pool below. To their left and right runs a steep-fronted forested escarpment. The trail is nowhere to be seen. It would likely take the better part of an hour to find a safe path down without rappelling. Before and below them, at the base of the cliff to the west, is deep forest as far as they can see, with hints of the stream peeking out here and there. To the north, the escarpment rises abruptly into nearby mountain peaks. To the south, a lone mountain looms above the forest, some ten or fifteen miles away.

“That’s a long way down,” says Aurora.

“But t’is ther fastest way,” counters Willa. “I be wagerin’ they returned t’ the trail when t'ey couldna keep up - at least t'eir main host did - an ther trail down yonder ridge be slow and all switchy-backed.”

Aurora nods. “That’s a long way down,” she repeats.

“C’mon,” says Willa invitingly. “I’ll lash ye t’ ther log, so we cannae lose ye.” When Aurora looks at her incredulously, she adds, “Ye best be rememberin’ t’is ye they be wantin' t' arrest, nay us.”

Thokk stands on the cliff top for a minute, until he finds what he thinks is the deepest spot in the pool, then leaps into the air, falls into the water. Even the deep spot is shallow enough that he hits the bottom going fast, but it is soft and gravelly, not hard and sharp, and he emerges and swims to the far side of the pool. Larry changes into a salmon, and he and Mantabshapka dive into the stream and then go over the falls one after another. They are bruised, but also swim away. Finally, Barnabus, Willa, and Aurora, each tied to the log, take it out into the stream, over the edge, and for two-and-half sickening seconds fall through the air. The log lands well enough, splashing down entirely in the pool, but the jolt when they hit the bottom is hard, and Aurora and Barnabus are dashed forward, crash into the log, and knocked unconscious. Once the log emerges and settles they are untied, dragged to the bank, and Larry - now a dwarf again - revives them. “Well, that’s et,” he says grimly, “I’m oot o’ healin’.”

[DM's Note: On Anna Meyer's map, where the dotted white trail crosses the Owl Stream, the party left the trail, went upstream (SE), and found Barovia. Now they have gone downstream (NW). The waterfall is roughly in the middle of the “m” of Stream.]

(2:30pm) From the banks of the pool, the party looks at the cliff face above them. The trail itself is not visible, but the escarpment is so broad, the trail must cross it somewhere - and wherever that is, there will need to be switchbacks. That will delay their pursuit, at least for a while, and especially for any horses.

After a brief discussion, the party decides to remount their log and continue to head downstream, trying to keep ahead of their pursuers. They find broad fallen branches that will serve as crude paddles. For about ten minutes, Thokk and Willa paddle, while the rest of them balance on the log. Mantabshapka leaves the water to become Babshapka, and walks alongside the stream on the south bank, keeping his eyes peeled for pursuers or the trail.

(3pm) After a bit of traveling, it becomes apparent that they are moving faster than any of them could walk, at least through the forest. The current is strong and Babshapka is having to jog to keep up with them. While that is great for making an escape, none of them are resting. The leg-notches cut by Thokk notwithstanding, this is not a canoe, and no one can simply lie down to rest. Even those who are not paddling are actively balancing, as the log sways, dips, bobs, bumps rocks, bottoms out, and occasionally threatens to roll.

With no sign of pursuit and many of them wounded, a decision is made to slow their progress. Thokk and Willa cease paddling, and concentrate on stabilizing and steering the log. In the front, Willa makes sure to keep in the slow, deep parts of the stream, while Thokk, aft, centers himself and keeps the “top” of the log up. The others take the time to bind or clean wounds, eat and drink a little, and even try to doze, leaning back to back or sprawled over the log.

(4pm) With the benefits of a “short rest” now under their belts, Willa and Thokk return to paddling, the others to active balancing, and the log is off again. It is not long after that when Babshapka spies, running parallel to the stream and perhaps seventy yards from it, the trail - this is the first time he has seen it since the waterfall and likely the closest to the stream it has been.

[DM's Note:They are now closest to the “e” in “Stream” and have gone about four miles downstream from the falls.]

Babshapka flags down Aurora and has a quick messaged conversation with her, then moves to the trail. In the center of the trail he places an alarm spell, keyed to signal him whenever any creature enters the area, so long as it is not a non-humanoid. He then turns and starts making his way back to the stream.

Almost immediately, the alarm sounds in his mind. He continues to the stream and alerts the party on the log. Thokk and Barnabus disembark immediately and follow him to the west, running along in the direction of the stream but slowly getting closer to the trail. The log continues down the stream, now with just Willa paddling, and Babshapka uses it as a moving reference point as he hopes to emerge on the trail ahead of whatever triggered the alarm.

Finally satisfied that they are well in the lead, the trio of ambushers move to the trail itself while Willa beaches the log on the south bank in a clump of vegetation hidden from view of the trail. Barnabus climbs a tree overhanging the trail, Babshapka hides at the base of the tree, and Thokk takes cover in the brush on the far side of the trail. It has not been a minute when Babshapka hears soft but rapid footfalls approaching and signals his companions to ready themselves.

Around a corner of the trail an elf runs into sight, clad in the mottled green-and-brown of a scout. He appears alone, but immediately skids to a stop as if he has seen the ambushers. As he turns to look behind him, then brings his fingers to his lips to whistle, Thokk charges from the underbrush.

Just as Thokk reaches the elf, he turns to gauge where his companions are, but Barnabus is still in the tree and Babshapka is deep in the woods to the north of the trail. Confused, Thokk lets the elf give him the slip, but then pursues him, crashing through the forest to the south.

Using Thokk to flush the elf out, Barnabus waits for the perfect shot. When the elf passes through a clearing, he lets fly an arrow that pierces the elf’s side and causes him to collapse, unconscious. Thokk scoops him up and begins heading for the stream when a hail of arrows heralds the arrival of more scouts. The unconscious elf is leaving a copious trail of blood as Thokk hauls him down the hillslope, bumping and jolting with the shaft still in him, and he is nearly dead by the time Babshapka is able to pull out the arrow and bind his wound. Barnabus runs down the slope behind them.

The party hustles the unconscious elf onto the log and shoves off. In the rear, Thokk holds up his shield behind them as arrows from the scouts rain down. Willa has to paddle furiously to finally bring them out of range.

When the prisoner appears stable, his hands and feet are bound and Barnabus goes through his possessions, with initial interest but eventual disgust. “Bread?” he mutters to himself - “The best thing this guy has on him is bread?”

(5:30pm) After about an hour, the elf regains consciousness. At first, he struggles weakly against his restraints, but soon calms when he realizes his situation. In fact, he seems unnervingly calm, despite the fact that Thokk is right beside him, holding his arm in such a way as to threaten all the joints. He doesn’t seem cocky - just resigned to his fate.

Aurora questions him in Elvish and for the first part of the conversation he answers unhesitatingly. This is even more unnerving, as Aurora had been prepared to “force” the information from him.

The elf tells Aurora that he is from a clan of elves of the Dreadwood, and that his clan, under its leader, Prince Silverleaf, has been tasked with keeping humans and humanoids out of a “forbidden” part of the forest - the area around Valadis. The clan has an agreement with the Baron of Greyhill and the King of Keoland that goes back hundreds of years, and which is based on the idea that the knowledge in and of Valadis is better-off kept from the world. Many other local elven clans assist in this endeavor, as do some of the druids of the Great Circle.

Several days ago, a human knight appeared in his village, claiming to have been sent by the King. He had with him ten human footmen, soldiers of the Baron of Greyhill, as well as a sergeant of foot. The knight met with Prince Silverleaf, requesting the aid of the Prince in bringing to justice an adventuring party who had violated the protections around the city. Although this particular scout was not privy to their negotiations, in the end Prince Silverleaf agreed to lend the knight the use of 20 elven scouts from the clan, as well as a spell-caster. The elf remarks that he does not know how many of these scouts remain in pursuit, as several of them went down from Aurora’s fireball, and he was not able to see how many survived before they were ordered to pursue the party.

The elves have been following the log ever since the battle, with one lead runner spotting them along the trail, and taking turns to relieve that runner, while the main host of scouts travels just behind and the human footmen follow as best they can but rather farther back. When the party captured him, it was his turn as lead runner.

Before the battle, the knight told the elves that the party was powerful and had access to high-level magic. They were told that the knight would attempt to negotiate a surrender, but that the elves were to open fire immediately on anyone in the party who looked like they were spell-casting.

Aurora asks about the lands around Valadis, and for the first time the elf hesitates in his response. After a few moments, he says that he is sworn not to reveal information about the city, but that it appears that the party already knows all about it since they are returning from the forbidden lands rather than trying to enter them. He says that he will not provide them with new information, but that he will be willing to confirm or deny anything that they tell him they already know. When Aurora talks about Valadis as being the city of the Malhel, destroyed by their own evil sorceries, he agrees. When she asks him where the Malhel went, he says that some stories say that they were all destroyed by the demons they summoned, while others say that a small band of survivors was able to escape across the Javan river into the lands of what is now the Yeomanry. Personally, he knows these as tales but not whether either is true. Aurora tries to get more from him by saying that Larry is a druid of the Great Circle, but he preempts that by saying that if it is true, Larry surely knows more than he does.

Aurora then asks him about “Barovia” and the elf seems confused - as if he does not recognize the name. After the place is described to him he recognizes it as something he calls “The Valley of the Mists”. He says that the guardians of the forbidden lands learned of the arrival of the vampire several hundred years ago. At first they were concerned that he intended to use Valadis to bring more evil, but the sorcerers of the King told them that he did not. Eventually, after the vampire summoned the mists, it was decided that his presence actually further protected the forbidden lands from intrusion, so he was allowed to remain.

Aurora then attempts to convince the elf that his prince has been duped, and that the knight is no agent of the King. The elf says that is indeed possible, but his honor lies in following the commands of his liege lord, the prince. He will certainly speak with the prince about it, and voice Aurora’s concerns - if he is allowed to leave. Aurora asks how far the elves will pursue the party. He says he does not know, but that already they are out of their own territory - technically Prince Silverleaf only commands within the Barony of Greyhill, guarding the access to Valadis from the west. The knight must have received special permission from the Prince to take his forces out of the Barony and into where they are now - the Dreadwood Protectorate. If the party continues half a day’s travel downstream, they will eventually leave the Protectorate, and at that point the knight would need to be very persuasive to retain the services of the elves.

After this, Aurora discusses rather vocally with the party whether they should return to Valadis, knowing that this knight is pursuing them, and it is ‘decided’ that they should. They steer the log to the north bank and haul the elf ashore. Willa unties the hands and feet of the elf, then re-ties them in sailors’ knots designed so that he can undo them himself after ten or fifteen minutes of work. Aurora explains that by the time he gets himself undone, the party will be long gone. She suggests that he cross over to the south bank and tell his fellow clanmates not to pursue the party.

[DM's Note: The elf is set ashore on the north bank roughly under the “r” in “Stream” and about six or seven miles downstream from the falls.]

(6pm) Without an unconscious prisoner to keep on the log, or a conscious one to interrogate, Thokk and Willa return to paddling and the party picks up the pace. They continue on for an hour and a half through the forest, with the stream they are in growing broader and deeper with each tributary that joins it. As the late afternoon sun turns to dusk, Babshapka re-enters the water, using his darkvision to scout ahead and guide the log for Willa.

(7:30pm) The sun has long set and Willa is navigating in dim twilight. She has been checking her direction against the stars directly above, but gradually she gets the sense that the trees are receding from the stream banks and she can see more and more of the sky around her. Luna, the large moon, has not risen yet (and will be but a sliver when it does rise), but Celene, the smaller of the two moons, is up. Celene is but a waning crescent but still provides enough light for those with darkvision. Willa steers the log to the bank and asks for a report.

Larry looks about, and explains that they are leaving the forest and coming into open meadows. They have been descending for quite some time, even after the falls, and have now reached a broad valley bottom. Before them is an open, high grasslands.

The party has a brief conversation about whether they should keep going or make camp. They haven’t eaten since lunch and have been traveling non-stop since breakfast. Again, the log is not a boat and even those not paddling are not well-rested. Pushing on will threaten to exhaust them. On the other hand, the human footmen are almost certainly stopping for the night, and this is a great chance to put some miles between them and their pursuers. Even if one of them does fall to exhaustion, their pace will not be slowed so long as they remain on the log. Larry points out that now that the slope of the land is less, the stream will be going less fast, and meandering more, making it less direct and efficient compared to the trail - but the others decide that is all the more reason to keep going and get what advantage they can from traveling at night. “Well, alright,” mutters the dwarf, “boot I dinnae like tha look a’ yon clouds.” He jerks a thumb at the southern horizon, where the stars are obscured by low clouds that stretch a great distance east and west.

[DM's Note: At the “S” in “Stream”, the party leaves the forest and enters into open grasslands.]

The party shoves off again into the stream. Willa is relying on Mantabshapka more than ever as the sky darkens and the last pale colors fade in the west. Thokk tries moving at a walking pace along the bank, flanking them. Indeed, the broad stream is now moving slower than most of them could walk, although Larry and Barnabus would still have to jog to keep up.

Larry spots irregular shapes low on the horizon against the starlit sky - he and Thokk are sent to investigate while the log continues to drift downstream. They find the remains of a peasant village, a handful of wattle-and-daub huts surrounded by falling-down cattle pens. The place is abandoned, long abandoned - Larry estimates 10 or 15 years, by the size of the saplings growing up between the huts. All of the thatch roofs have collapsed. They poke around a bit in the houses but find nothing of interest. One house has a completely disarticulated skeleton they take to be human. The only evidence for why the place was abandoned is a rusty war-axe, buried deep in the timber corner post of one of the huts. Thokk and Larry return to the log, Larry having to huff and puff to catch up to it. Over the course of the next several hours, they can see the outlines of several other such villages, all with collapsed huts and no sign of inhabitants.

[DM’s note: By 8pm, Aurora is at Level 1 of exhaustion]

[DM’s note: By 10pm, Babshapka is at Level 1 of exhaustion]

[DM’s note: By 11pm, Barnabus and Larry are at Level 1, and Babshapka at Level 2 of exhaustion]

As the night passes, the party notes a steady breeze picking up from the south. The clouds Larry warned of are now obscuring a good quarter of the southern sky - temperature is in the fifties and dropping, and many on the log are starting to shiver. A few talk of having a fire when they stop for the night, but that is decided against - here on the open plains, a fire could be seen for miles. Their bedrolls will have to be sufficient for keeping them warm.

[DM’s note: By 12am, Aurora is at Level 2 of exhaustion]

Finally, around midnight, Aurora insists that they stop. Her teeth are chattering, she is cramped and sore, and cannot concentrate. It does not take much to convince Willa - the southern wind is continuing to increase, and wetting everyone with spray off the stream. She thinks that somewhere, far to the south, there must be a tropical storm in the Azure Sea - a typical fall occurrence - and they are at the very edge of it.

Thokk is sent to the north bank to scout, and he soon returns saying that he has found an abandoned village just a hundred paces from the stream bank. The log is hauled up a sandbar and the sodden party trudges wearily toward the village.

[DM's Note: At midnight, the party comes ashore west of the “O” in “Owl”, near the border of the Dreadwood Protectorate in dashed orange.]
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:59 pm    Post subject: Post 84: Have Swords, Will Travel Reply with quote

Post 82: Have Swords, will travel

Up until now, I had been willing to hand-wave movement, and had just used a standard pace for the party when they had traveled from Gradsul to the Owl Stream. Now, however, we had the main party fleeing ahead of a mixed group of elves and human footmen, and all of them being followed by Tyrius astride his warhorse. I decided that it was time to get more detailed about wilderness movement rates.

5E has a fairly detailed combat movement system, with different base movements for characters based on their race and sometimes modified for class abilities and the optional variant of encumbrance. Terrain can be classed as "difficult" which costs twice movement.

However, this level of detail is lost upon the transition to overland movement and wilderness travel. In particular, a party moving at the scale of a wilderness map simply chooses their speed as "fast", "normal", or "slow". These speeds affect their ability to notice dangers and to move stealthily. It is possible for all members of a party to move at "fast" speed together, for example, even if they have markedly different combat movement rates or different responses to terrain.

Similarly, in 5E the only modifier for terrain is whether or not it is difficult.

Given this, I set about creating a system to translate the 5E RAW combat movement rates to the WoGG wilderness travel rates by terrain.

First, base movements in a combat turn:
Barnabus (halfling), Larry (dwarf): 25 feet per combat turn
Aurora (half-elf), Willa (human), Tyrius (human-dismounted), Thokk (half-orc): 30 feet
Babshapka (wood elf): 35 feet
Eddard: 60 feet - but 50 when "encumbered" (carrying more than 180 pounds) - easily met by Tyrius, plate armor, tack, and gear

Given this distribution, I decided to peg 30 feet per turn as "standard" movement for future comparisons.

WoGG (p.3) gives "Afoot, unencumbered" at 30 miles per day for road, track, and grasslands.

Thus, 1 foot of combat turn movement will equal 1 mile of daily movement for bipeds on road, track, and off-trail grasslands.

WoGG gives horsed movement as 60 miles per day on a road, but 45 miles per day on a track or in grassland. So we will assume Eddard can go at the limit of 45 miles per day in grass and on tracks, even with his current 50 feet per combat round. It is reasonable that overland speed for a horse would be proportionally slower than combat speed, compared to a biped, since combat speed will likely be at a trot or canter, while overland speed will be a mixed in with periods of walking.

Note that Anna Meyer's maps show the route from Silglen to Lavienth as a "tertiary road," which I will treat as a track.

Finally, I use a ten-hour day for movement, divided into two five-hour marches. Typically these marches occur from roughly 7am - 12pm, and 1pm to 6pm. Assuming ten hour days, we can calculate base walking speed (mph) for characters as well.

Thus in grasslands and on tracks:
Barnabus (halfling), Larry (dwarf): 25 fpt, 2.5 mph, 12.5 miles per march, 25 miles per day

Aurora (half-elf), Willa (human), Tyrius (human - when dismounted), Thokk (half-orc): 30 fpt, 3.0 mph, 15 miles per march, 30 miles per day

Babshapka (wood elf): 35 fpt, 3.5 mph, 17.5 miles per march, 35 miles per day

Eddard (not ridden): 60fpt, 6 mph, 22.5 miles per march, 45 miles per day
Eddard (ridden): 50fpt, 5 mph, 22.5 miles per march, 45 miles per day
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I misunderstood. The party decide to go back after the knight who was following them, but then they continued on downstream. (?)

Secondly, I agree with your travel assessment, except for Eddard. Your limit of 45 miles per day makes sense for a normal horse, but Eddard is a paladin's warhorse - specifically one from another plane, a celestial mount. It seems reasonable to grant him the slight advantage of 50 miles per day (ridden) that his movement rate would indicate.

Finally, the Grand Boulonnaise is a fantastic-looking warhorse! And, I had never come across it before. Thanks! ;) Sir Xaris' celestial mount is a cross between a Friesian and a Gypsy: black with white feathering on his fetlocks.
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Master Greytalker

Joined: Jan 05, 2002
Posts: 618
Location: Sky Island, So Cal

PostPosted: Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SirXaris wrote:
I think I misunderstood. The party decide to go back after the knight who was following them, but then they continued on downstream. (?)

They talked in front of the captured prisoner about how they were going to go back to Valadis - and then after they left him, they continued downstream. They had planned on continuing downstream all along - but hoped that the scout would tell their false plan to the knight and thus slow their pursuit.

In truth, Aurora is interested in Valadis, but it is a little hot right now with the knight - she would like to double back once the heat is off.

SirXaris wrote:
Secondly, I agree with your travel assessment, except for Eddard. Your limit of 45 miles per day makes sense for a normal horse, but Eddard is a paladin's warhorse - specifically one from another plane, a celestial mount. It seems reasonable to grant him the slight advantage of 50 miles per day (ridden) that his movement rate would indicate.

I did want Eddard to play the role of sardonic adviser to Tyrius - his mind being more important than his hooves. As it is, I do not require Eddard to eat or drink. I might have him make a Con save to boost his movement - but not penalize him with exhaustion if he failed, so that the worst that might happen is he would be restricted to the slower movement. In practice, Tyrius is seldom in need of going faster than the party so except for trying to find them right now it has been a moot point.

SirXaris wrote:
Finally, the Grand Boulonnaise is a fantastic-looking warhorse! And, I had never come across it before. Thanks! ;) Sir Xaris' celestial mount is a cross between a Friesian and a Gypsy: black with white feathering on his fetlocks.
The Friesian is beautiful, strong, and graceful - a great warhorse for a paladin - but due to Pelor's association with white and gold it was important to me that Eddard carry those colors.
My campaigns are multilayered tapestries upon which I texture themes and subject matter which, quite frankly, would simply be too strong for your hobbyist gamer.&nbsp;
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