Codex I-Chapter 1

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Rynn Fowler blinked his eyes against the harsh light. The sun was directly overhead, beating down mercilessly on the Niktean Wastes. Shimmers of heat distorted the distant rocks and dunes. The half-elf picked his pack up from where he had been resting in the shade of a large outcrop of rock. He could hear the distant sounds of the caravan behind him. They were well within distance of the outpost, and he was no longer concerned that they would not make it before nightfall. Barring something unforeseen, like an attack by some of the goblins that sometimes ventured into these areas of the wastes, the caravan would be fine. It was mid-day, though, so he wasn’t too worried about that. It was time to press on to the outpost himself. He took a swig from his waterskin before putting it away and moving out into the harsh daylight.

The ranger made good time, his footing sure among the rocks and crevices, his legs able to stand walking over the occasional dune. He took a more direct route than the caravan would be able to, but after an hour his eyes fell on the desert outpost. Operated by the Kletheira Merchant House, it was one of the few places in the wastes travelers could find respite in the harsh desert. It was also one of the last places in the wastes if one was headed north to Hammerdine. Another hard day’s journey would put him at the edges of the desert zone.

The walls of the small settlement, if it could be called that, stood about ten feet tall. It was a testament to the strategic importance of this site that there were any walls at all. The wood had been transported by caravan to erect a small waystation around one of the few wells in this part of the wastes. There were few guards out in the bright sunlight this time of day, but there would be others hidden from the harsh glare of the sun. He raised his hand in greeting, and was let in.

“Where might I refill my waterskin,” he asked one of the guards. The man grunted, pointing to a building in the center of the outpost.

“You’ll have to wait your turn, though. Gorgoreth is the only one with a key.”

“Key?”

The guard smirked, rubbing his sweat-covered face with a dirty handkerchief. “You can stay one day here, maybe two. We don’t like people overstaying their welcome. Too many folk coming through here. We’ll fill your water for you, but if you overstay your welcome …” The guard’s tone brokered no argument. But just then another man emerged from the largest of the tents.

“Welcome, traveler.” Gorgoreth was a tall fellow, well over six feet tall. His clothing was rough and well-used, covered with the fine sand that blew through the air here in the wastes. “I’ll fill your skin up, then you’d best get out of the sun. You can stay in any of the tents, but just for one day.”

“That’s a harsh policy,” said Rynn, who downed the rest of the water while the other spoke.

Gorgoreth shrugged. “Keeps our little outpost here from growing too much.” He opened the building, pulled up the bucket, and filled Rynn’s empty waterskin. The half-elf took it gratefully.

“Any particular tent?”

“Got some other travelers in that one. They were going to head out tonight after it cooled down a bit.”

“You’ll probably be all filled up tonight. There’s a caravan on its way, should be here in an hour or two.”

Gorgoreth smiled. “Good, the shipment is right on schedule, then.”

“They’re your people?”

The merchant leader gave a nod, then returned to his tent.

Rynn glanced from one tent to the other, then headed towards the one that Gorgoreth had indicated. No reason not to try and find some company in this forsaken place. He opened the flap and stepped inside, letting his eyes adjust to the interior. There were, indeed, several people inside. His eyes swept over them, taking their measure.

The were two young women, but they could not look more different. One was wearing a simple outfit, tied together with various ropes. This woman was sitting nearly completely erect, as if watching something. Her eyes were closed, but Rynn caught one of them barely opening before snapping back shut. A pair of sandals sat off to her side, and there was little else to be seen.

The other woman was dressed in a flowing robe made of decent material. Off to her side sat a quarterstaff, and the woman was still wearing her boots. She was staring at Rynn with a mild look of curiosity.

A third figure stirred from a bedroll, looking up at him, shielding his eyes from the sudden light. The man looked to be an elf.

Eryx (DM)
And thus begins the campaign! As you may have guessed, the figures in the tent are Amara, Jenika, and Orensland. Khaska, with permission, will be joining a little later. Read on for more details.

You would each know that this outpost has nothing but shelter and a well. There are four tents, a rudimentary stables, and several warehouses for storing goods while the animals rest. There is no inn, no stores, etc. You’ll all be kicked out tomorrow morning, but today you have a few hours of sunlight left. After that it would be more worth your time to look around the compound without getting fried by the heat. The caravan should be along in an hour or two (Khaska will be with that caravan), and will have a few guards as well as the camels and merchandise.

This is really just an opportunity for all of your characters to at least get to know each other in a cursory manner over the next few hours. That includes Khaska, if he’ll do any interacting with the others. The guards and the other members of the caravan won’t be very friendly to him. They’re paying him to help translate among Maha’i, having just come from Jevereshk.

What would your characters do over the next few hours? Feel free to post dialogue, questions you would like answered, or whatever, but do so in this gray box.

Sayyadina
Amara wouldn't really talk unless someone directly addresses her first. In the meantime, she has her familiar (a white raven) perched on her shoulder, and they're talking quietly to each other. It'll sound like gibberish to anyone who doesn't speak Elven; to those who do, they're discussing the road to Hammerdine and speculations about the incoming caravan.

BlackWolf
Is this outpost run by Maha'i or other races? I wasn't too clear on that, though it wouldn't necessarily matter to Rynn. What is the Kletheira merchant house (a search for that didn't produce any results)?

In his typical outgoing manner, Rynn will attempt to strike up conversation with those in the tent. "Greetings, travelers! What brings you to the inhospitable wastes?" He'll try to include everyone at some point or other in the conversation but will let them alone if they aren't inclined to talk.

In the course of conversation, the ranger will politely ask how the women are fairing in the harsh environment (especially if their clothing seems ill-suited for such travel). If Rynn doesn't have any commitments to the incoming caravan, he'll offer his services to help the travelers cross the wastes. But if he does have a commitment to the caravan then his offer will be more restricted, but he'll invite them to travel together. "Better safety in numbers, especially if the goblins become restless."

Crosis
Orensland would generally keep to himself after a short talk with Rynn. In his short and polite exchange of words, he will inquire concerning the caravan that is approaching.

His intentions are fairly simple. As he intends to leave the outpost soon enough, he is planning to steal basic supplies and resources to help him get the rest of the way to Hammerdine. He has not thieved from those in the tent, and will not unless something of true value appears. Even then, he would wait until his parting with them before stealing anything. With the white raven, it's clear there's a magician of some sort in the tent, and he does not intend to have stolen goods found on his person while the other travellers are still around. His plans with the caravan are similar- scout the shipment for goods, then plan his departure in a timely fashion. The idea of traveling with the caravan to Hammerdine sounds appealing. Safe travel, easy getaway. These are his intentions- they could well change should anything else come up.

Thevarou
I got the impression that they're humans, as nothing was mentioned that could distinguish them - and especially since they're associated with the non-Maha'i caravan that's coming soon.

Khaska will, upon arriving, probably go quietly to get a drink at the well after the others have done so. He's not particularly thirsty, as his race is accustomed to the hot climate. As the rest of the caravan goes about their business, he'll hang off to the side, as they're not exactly fond of him and the feeling is reciprocated. He might join the others in the tent to leave the sun and the abrasive caravan crew, but will only comment if someone speaks to him or something catches his attention. Even then, he would only talk with Orensland or Rynn, as speaking with unfamiliar females is strictly taboo, and even familiar ones he will address only when necessary. I could imagine Amara's raven, Kirza, flapping up and perching on one of his horns, at which Khaska would react quizzically, reaching up to take him on a finger and place him on ground. Answers he would give to people's questions would be short, well-worded, honest and polite (polite in the style of someone who's memorized stock conversation pieces and is reciting them, if they aren't specific, personalized answers), with a notably, but not heavy, accent, sonorous and deep in tone. If anyone comments about the physical appearance of the Maha'i, he'd retort without snark, "And you have flat faces."

He's planning on continuing on with the caravan to the edge of the Wastes, at which point he will return. What he's not expecting is that something will happen/be mentioned that will recall to him the vision he had (maybe dragons, the Dark Times, etc.) and inspire him to join this unlikely group with a little apprehension, a little subdued excitement and curiosity, and without really knowing what's in store. And he definitely won't comment to anyone about the true reason he's interested in joining them, meaning that his honesty will require a half-true, relatively typical answer, like intrigue or adventure.

Sayyadina
Amara plans on staying with the caravan until Hammerdine, and then going on her merry (but subdued) way.

To Rynn, Amara responds politely but without any real interest or details. About the wastes: "They were on the way." Regarding how she's fairing: "Well enough, thank you, and yourself?"

Kirza tends to be fairly well behaved, but also easily bored; he'll probably flap around the camp periodically. He's also insatiably curious and will cheerfully move to eavesdrop on any conversation he can't hear from his current position (he can only speak Elven; I'm not entirely sure what the rules are about what he can understand).

Thevarou
Khaska might be slightly more conversational than normal after having spent a considerable amount of time with unfriendly people; still, this does not imply that he'll carry on small talk well at all, but he would probably ask Rynn, at least, where he's from, what he's up to and other basic topics (in more formal words) after Rynn begins the conversation. However, unless Rynn pursues it pointedly, the chat is likely to fall flat as Khaska runs out of questions to ask.

BlackWolf
When asked about where he's from, Rynn will get a distant look in his eyes and answer that he's from Camden. But that feels long ago, practically another lifetime. The last five years have been quite a change for him, after all.

Being one who favors nature, Rynn would likely comment favorably on Kirza even before knowing it can speak and understand. When he finds out the raven can speak, he would address it directly and treat it almost as if it were a person.

DeltaWolf
Jenika would be open, honest, and polite to anyone who tried to talk to her. She isn't rude to anyone, but she as rule doesn't like rogues, especially the unruly thieving type. She would readily join any group (that is not just her the rogue) that is heading to Hammerdine. She is unlikely to leave the shade without a practical reason for doing so, and if left alone would just meditate. She would go out of her way to avoid confrontation, but will use force if necessary to "keep the peace".

Rynn broke into a smile. “Greeting travelers,” he said as he moved to sit down.

The elf sat up, obviously having just awoken, but he didn’t seem grumpy about it. “Welcome, stranger. You traveled here in the middle of the day?”

Rynn shrugged. “Not as many predators out in the daylight, if you know how to avoid them. Plus there’s a caravan on its way, and I wanted to make sure they got here safely.”

“There’s a caravan coming?” asked the woman with the robes. It was then that Rynn noticed a white raven pecking at her pack behind her. A magic-user of some sort, likely.

He nodded. “They should be along in about an hour. And how are you two faring in the hot Niktean Wastes?” He looked from one woman to the other.

The woman with the robes shrugged, and “Fine, thanks. And you?”

“Just fine. Made good time today. Was planning on heading out just before sunrise. Push hard to leave the wastes before it gets too hot tomorrow.”

“Hammerdine, then?” asked the elf.

“Hammerdine, maybe the lands north of there. We’ll see,” said Rynn, who was removing his boots and flexing his toes.

“I’m headed north too,” said the woman with the raven.

“Me too,” said the other woman.

Rynn put his pack behind his head and lay down. “Well, I’m planning on heading out that way tomorrow morning. I’d be happy to travel with any of you that wanted to. Better safety in numbers.”

“They’ll kick us out of here about then anyway,” said the elf.

“Not to friendly, that Gorgoreth,” said Rynn. “Well, I’ll provide more friendly company tomorrow morning for those that want to. However, I’m going to take a nap now.”

The half-elf was asleep quickly, feeling safe and secure in the outpost.


He awoke to the sound of crackling fire. He looked around the tent, noticing that it was substantially darker. He must’ve been asleep for several hours. None of the other travelers were there anymore. He threw aside the tent flap and stepped into the cooling air.

The caravan had arrived. Gorgoreth was talking to a short, fatter man, and various camels and beasts of burden were in the stables. Several guards were running back and forth from the well with large buckets to the stables, obviously caring for the animals. Others were finishing unloading the merchandise into one of the warehouses.

A fire had been started in the middle of the compound. This surprised Rynn—wood was scarce in the wastes. Still, the desert nights could be surprisingly cold, so this addition to the camp was welcome. He approached it, the light casting more and more intense shadows as the sun dipped below the horizon.

All the fellow-travelers were sitting around, as well as some new folks. One, a garishly-dressed elven man, was plucking away at a mandolin absent-mindedly. This newcomer stood. “Welcome, friend, come enjoy the hospitality of our friend Laalarash!”

“Laalarash?”

“Leader of this here caravan.” He indicated the man Gorgoreth was talking to. “He brought the fire wood, as well as a stiff brandy, though, I’m afraid there’s not much left. What’s your name, friend?”

“I’m Rynn.”

“Rynn, pleased to meet you. I’m Elial.” The elf stuck his hand out and Rynn took it, noticing how vigorously the newcomer shook it. “Nobody else seemed to know what your name was, and I looked forward to meeting a man who travels the Niktean Wastes by day, alone. Even our Maha’i friend thought it unusual. Khaska, come meet my friend Rynn!”

It was obvious to Rynn that the reason there was not much brandy left was that Elial had had perhaps more than his fair share. But his focus quickly turned to the tall figure that approached. Rynn had heard of the Maha’i, even seen some, but had never met one in person. Khaska had stood apart, Rynn hadn’t even noticed him. The Maha’i had a sort of regal bearing, but Rynn had no idea whether or not that was personal or just how all his people held themselves. The furry humanoid extended his hand.

“Pleased to meet you Rynn. I am Khaska Nzaidullek Mawkhavi Tereshkven.”

As they shook, the white raven alighted on one of the Maha’i’s horns. The robed woman came over. “Kirsha!” Khaska merely looked up calmly at the bird atop his head, then extended a hand. Kirsha hopped on, and he lowered the bird to the woman. “I’m so sorry, Kirsha knows she’s not supposed to do things like that.”

“In my travels, I’ve come to know that a familiar takes on some of the traits of its master,” said Elial, who was grinning. “Perhaps you are mischevious yourself, Miss … ?”

Amara.”

“Amara!” Elial made it sound like he was meeting a long-lost family member. Rynn noticed that Khaska had stepped back just a little, more of a shuffle, and was studiously avoiding looking at the woman.

Amara turned to the raven now atop her shoulder, and spoke in Elvish. “You shouldn’t be landing on people without their permission.” To Rynn’s surprise, the raven responded in elvish.

“He didn’t mind.”

“But he might have,” Rynn said, also in elvish. The two turned to him. “Feel free to land on me, friend, I won’t mind at all.” Then he turned to Amara. “I hope that wasn’t too forward of me,” this time in common. Amara smiled. “I don’t think so.”

Khaska had stepped back again, trying to slip away, but Elial would have none of that. “Come, Khaska, tell us of yourself? Not often we get to meet a Maha’i!”

They sat down together on stones around the makeshift firepit. Elial was jublient and excited, and the conversation actually began to flow quite easily. Soon the others were all together. Khaska was traveling as a guide with Laalarash’s caravan. Amara, Rynn, and Jenika, the other woman, as well as Orensland, the elf, were all headed to Hammerdine. They all agreed to leave in the morning together, except for Khaska, who had obligations to the caravan. After an hour or so of conversation [DM: including this conversation], Laalarash approached, the small group.

“Glad to see you’re all getting along. We Kleitheran merchants aren’t all as stodgy as Gorgoreth over there, but rules are rules, and you’ll all have to leave tomorrow. My caravan will be leaving the day after. Oh, you can stay Khaska, of course, of course.” The Maha’i nodded to Laalarash.

“If you could let us stay an extra day, I’d be happy to accompany the caravan through the rest of the wastes,” said Rynn.

“Safety in numbers,” said Jenkia. “Khaska was saying how sometimes goblins venture down into the wastes this far.”

“Yes, well. We do have our guards already, and Elial has paid up to travel with us. So thank you, good sir, but rules are rules. You’ll all have to leave tomorrow.” He smiled. “Hate to be that way, but those are the rules. Even I can’t overrule them. Nope. But now, gentlemen, ladies, I’m going to turn in. Oh, and Khaska, all of our tents are full again, you’ll have to sleep with some of these folks, or under the stars again. Well, goodnight!” The man gave a jaunty wave, then turned and entered his tent. Several of the caravan guards were also turning in, and torches were being lit around the outpost walls. The sun had set and there was barely any remaining light. None of the other moons of Pressen were visible in the night sky at the moment.

Eryx (DM)
This post was a bit longer than they will usually be, because there was so much introducting going on. (Yes, I just made that word up.) I won't normally be able to post this fast, but lucky for you all I had to spend 3 hours at the social security office today so my wife could change her last name to mine. Just FYI, I have a personal goal of getting a post up within 3 days or so from the last one, but it's not a hard and fast rule. We'll play that by ear as we go.

I just assume that the four of you would sleep in the tent you were in during the day. There doesn’t appear to be a hard and fast rule about when you have to leave, but after tomorrow you won’t be allowed to fill your waterskins anymore. I took the liberty of having you all say you would move out together in the morning, as per Rynn’s plan.

Is there anything else you would like to do before going to sleep? Khaska, where will you sleep? The tent they were in would be big enough to fit the Maha’i as well, but Elial informs you that again he will be going to bed out under the stars. Also, does anybody know how I can get Word to stop autocorrecting "Maha'i" to "Maha'I?"

BlackWolf
So we'll be traveling by day instead of night then. I suspect that means mostly moving during the cooler hours of the early morning and afternoon, with a pause during the hot midday hours?

At the beginning of the chapter it said, "Another hard day’s journey would put him at the edges of the desert zone." If Rynn believes that the group can make that push without it being too taxing, he'll focus on that to get them out of the wastes. That would mean he may need to use up one of his rations instead of hunting which is his norm. But if that would push the group too hard, then he'd like to try to hunt along the way.

Survival check for hunting: 21 (rolled 15 + 6 bonus). If pushing hard, perhaps that roll is still good enough to find food/water along the way? It may also be high enough to provide for some of his companions, though I'm not sure if they'd balk at such fare. I imagine that Rynn will be finding things like scorpions or snakes to eat. Bear Grylls style.

Thevarou
Khaska does not want to sleep outside, for that's what he's been doing for the past week with the caravan from Faryaitir and if he can avoid the desert dewfall he will. Hence he'll want to sleep the the tent with the party, but will be taken aback when he sees both men and women enter it. Since Rynn has shown some sort of interest in him and seems like a character of similar skills, Khaska would take him aside and ask him, quite shocked in tone but whispering, though rather loudly, "Do you sleep with women?" Rynn probably knows nothing of the dramatic gender segregation and matriarchy of Maha'i society that gave rise to this remark, and Khaska, not understanding his responses (or the connotation that 'sleep with' has, as it's not his native language), will continue to say things like, "But is that normal?" "Why don't you sleep with men? We only sleep with men." Eventually, perhaps with no crossing of the culture barrier (yet), Khaska will accede to sleep in the tent, but only with Rynn and Orensland between him and the women, and even then with a bit of discomfort. He'll make sure to hang his cloak as a barrier between him and the others to create another little 'room' in the tent.

He also still needs a reason to go with this party instead of the caravan. Given that he's still looking for a sign associated with his vision from a month before, anything that mentions dragons would pique his interest immensely. Given that his contract with the caravan is essentially fulfilled (they're leaving the Wastes soon, and there aren't too many Maha'i to deal with on the way out; in the town of Ghazghet they'd have their own translators for hire), something that would hint at more information about dragons or the Dark Time would get him to attempt to leave the caravan early. He'd even be willing to accept a dock in his pay thus far to do so, for that's the price of finding out what he must do to return to Jevereshk or Artabbek and be adopted into a clan. Perhaps the bard could begin talking or singing of Markus the Noble and the good dragons of yore, and it could inspire a conversation amongst the PCs.

Diplomacy check in convincing Laalarash to let him leave the caravan early: 9-1 = 8. Even though Laalarash is lenient, he's not that generous, and he'll probably deduct a sum from Khaska's overall pay to make up for his breaking the contract.

Crosis
Nothing much has changed with Orensland's intentions.

Talking with Carl, I thought I'd clarify- Orensland does steal for sport, although he typically just takes what he needs to survive. If the caravan has jerks and/or exceptional valuables, he will consider stealing. If he runs out of rations or gold, he will consider stealing. Until such a time occurs, he will maintain a polite relationship with everybody, although still generally keep to himself. Unless something monumental happens, of course.

In terms of sleep, I'm not sure about something- Rynn walked in and woke Orensland up in the middle of the day. Is Orensland behaving nocturnally to save himself from the heat of the day (and, possibly, for his profession of sneaking about at night)? If so, He probably won't be all that tired in the night.

DeltaWolf
Jenika wouldn't due anything except make sure she doesn't get robbed. Though she would like to stretch her legs if there is a time that is not super hot or super cold. But nothing of consequence.

Sayyadina
Amara would probably head outside and make sure her waterskin is topped off before sleeping and/or leaving. Khaska's confusion would probably provoke a quiet chuckle or smirk to herself, but nothing particularly overt. Amara is decidedly wary of Rynn's friendliness, although it wouldn't really affect her behavior much - she tends to be equally cool and reserved to everyone in the party. Foodwise, she has rations of her own and would vastly prefer that to whatever Rynn scrounges up until the rations start running low. Kirza's taken quite well to Rynn, which might be another source of mild irritation for Amara - she tends to go out of her way to avoid giving others any more information about herself than is necessary, and Kirza's open curiosity and unguarded speech vexes her. But again, it's not something that she would allow to show, except possibly by a very quiet scolding of him (Kirza) when she's sure no one who speaks Elvish can overhear.

Amara is quite curious about dragons - probably inevitable, given her sorcerous powers and the rumors that they stem from draconic heritage - and if a conversation about dragons does occur, she'd probably listen intently bur offer very few remarks of her own. She does speak Draconic, though, and is willing enough to admit that, but if asked why, she'd just shrug and say something like, "I enjoy languages."

The sudden departure of Lallarash left the others in a bit of silence. The jovial man’s booming voice had left the desert outpost strangely silent, now that it was abruptly gone. Elial shrugged and pulled out his mandolin, strumming the instrument and sending music into the silence of the oncoming night. Rynn was the first to move after the merchant’s sudden departure. “Well, I think we could find room for you in our tent, if you wanted, Khaska.”

The Maha’i nodded. “I would like that. Thank you very much.”

Amara stood, her familiar taking off in a blur of feathers, slightly startled. “I’m going to fill my water bottle before turning in, if we’re getting an early start.”

“Yes, I’m sure Gorgoreth would rather us do that now than early in the morning.” The outpost leader was happy to oblige, opening the wellhouse and filling their waterskins each in turn as they wanted. Rynn filled his, drank it, and then refilled it again. No sense in not being ready for the morning. While standing in line again, he felt a small tug on his shirt. It was Khaska, who had not needed his waterskin refilled.

“I am to sleep with the women?” he indicated the tent, where Jenika was entering.

Rynn blinked. “Well, in the same tent as them, yes. But you won’t you know, sleep with them. Just … sleep by them.”

“Oh. I see.”

“You don’t typically sleep in the same tent as women?” asked Amara. She had turned to the two of them, waiting behind the two elves.

Khaska bowed his head, looking intently at his feet. “I have not been adopted by a clan, yet. Being with females is …” he paused for a moment, “not yet appropriate.”

Amara smirked a little, and then left to enter the tent. Rynn clapped a hand on the tall Maha’i’s back. “Well, for the next few days, I’ve adopted you into my tribe, and you can sleep in the tent with the women tonight at least, if you want.”

Khaska didn’t even smile, and responded completely deadpan. “But you are not female. You cannot have a tribe.”

“Oh, go sleep in the tent, silly!” called out Elial. “You’ve had to sleep under the stars enough this trip.” The elf was rolling out his bedroll by one of the warehouses, out of the way of the patrolling guards. Orensland was disappearing into the tent.

Rynn looked at Khaska, and Khaska looked at Rynn. The ranger stood with a small smile curling the edges of his mouth, until the Maha’i nodded.

It took some re-arranging to get situated, difficult in the darkening tent, as Jenika had moved away from Orensland, and Khaska did not want to sleep next to one of the women. With a bit of added light from one of the guard’s torches eventually they re-arranged themselves to suit everybody’s new seemingly random preferences. Khaska put up his cloak as a makeshift wall, borrowing a length of rope from Rynn, who bemusedly gave it to him, and stringing it across the tent between two of the poles. Amara did note that the cloak actually didn’t do that much to separate the Maha’i from the others, but that didn’t seem to matter. Khaska fell asleep in moments.


Jenika awoke, and quickly looked to the side to assess her belongings.

All was as it had been. Nobody had taken anything. She glanced over at her companions. They didn’t seem particularly untrustworthy, but one never knew. She had learned the hard way that people weren’t always what they seemed. Nonetheless, there didn’t seem to be anything amiss. She had slept lightly in this company of strangers, but that was apparently (or at least so far) unwarranted.

The air in the tent was a bit cooler, and she could tell that night was well upon them. She silently got up and opened the tent flap, stepping over Amara to do so, but the other woman didn’t even stir. The monk left the tent, stretching her arms to the night sky. One distant moon had come into view, but this time of night it barely reflected any sunlight. The dying fire gave off a few embers, and the torches of the guards did not illuminate much.

She felt the sand beneath her toes, took a deep breath as she closed her eyes, drinking in the night sensations, centering herself for just a brief moment before returning to the tent. It was then she noticed a single guard not at his post. She was pretty certain he was supposed to be guarding the gates, but for some reason he was on the ground instead of up overlooking the outpost from the walls. Oh, not a problem. He was just switching posts. He clambered up the ladder, then went to go sit atop the wall, but his movements were slightly erratic. Jenika took a few steps closer, wondering what was going on. He turned to put his torch in the sconce above the gate, when he lost his balance and actually tumbled over the wall. She heard his armored body hit the ground with a thud.

“Jensen!” a voice cried out. One of the other guards, a dwarf, rushed over. “Jensen, man!” The man ran over to the gate, threw up the bar, and opened one half of the gate. “Jensen!” He disappeared around the large wooden door.

“Goblins!” came his scream. Jenika tensed as a humanoid figured darted through the open door and the sounds of combat could be heard from just beyond the gate.

“We’re under attack!” came a yell from across the compound.

“From over here, too!” came another.

Jenika could hear the stirrings of those in the tents. Gorgoreth was the first one to appear, followed by Rynn. Another goblin appeared in the gateway, and the other half of the door began to swing open. Guttural voices sounded from all sides.

Elial strode purposefully towards the gate, hitting a chord on his instrument. Jenika felt a wash of inspiration flow into her as the music sounded through the outpost. She brought her hands up, body tensing for a fight, her years of training bring her senses to combat readiness.

The gate finished opening, and now it was obvious that there were many goblins outside. A bigger one towards the back shuffled into view, and then pointed forward, yelling some something at the others. Screaming, the goblins charged into the compound.

Eryx (DM)
The outpost has come under attack! Roll initiative and give me three rounds worth of actions. The outpost is under siege from several sides, based on what you all heard. While Jenika was watching, the rest of your characters clambered out of the tent, and are now in the open air. Rynn would know that the Goblin leader yelled “kill them” in the goblin language, and Jenika is pretty sure the first guard, Jensen, wasn’t exactly acting normally before he fell over the wall. The sounds of combat are still sounding from outside the gate—at least one of the guards is still alive.

Also, Elial has cast Inspire Courage on everybody. You all get +1 to attack rolls and damage rolls.

BlackWolf
Initiative: 17 (rolled 15 + 2 DEX)

Rynn will start off using his bow, but is ready to switch to his longsword if any goblins get into melee range (and has the Quick Draw feat to facilitate that). He'll want to hang back near Amara to help protect her as needed.

So for movement, he'll try to get into a good position near Amara. He'll try to make smart targeting choices: 1st priority to help the group, 2nd priority to hit the leader if in line of sight. Here are his attack rolls with his longbow:

  • To hit: 7 (rolled 3 + 1 base attack + 2 DEX + 1 Inspire Courage). Damage: 8 (rolled 5 + 2 favored enemy + 1 Inspire Courage).
  • To hit: 17 (rolled 13 + 4 same bonuses as above). Damage: 6 (rolled 3 + 3 same bonuses as above).
  • To hit: 23 (rolled 19 + 4 same bonuses as above). Damage: 9 (rolled 6 + 3 same bonuses as above).

At this point Rynn won't speak any goblin, but he'll be listening for any info he can gather from the goblins, especially any strategic info. Listen check: 27 (rolled 20 + 7 bonuses).

Crosis
Initiative: 15 (10 + 5 DEX)

Orensland would also try for long distance shooting before switching to longsword. I would assume one shot would be possible before switching to the sword, seeing as crossbows are more difficult to load.

While not particularly protective of anybody, he would remain close to the main group, recognizing a greater safety in numbers. Here are my attack rolls for the crossbow and 2 longsword attacks, and I'll follow the same format that Blackwolf did.

  • To hit: 22 (rolled 16 + 5 DEX + 1 Inspire Courage). Damage: 3 (rolled 2 + 1 Inspire Courage).
  • To hit: 13 (rolled 9 + 3 STR + 1 Inspire Courage). Damage: 11 (rolled 7 + 3 STR + 1 Inspire Courage).
  • To hit: 18 (rolled 14 + 4 same bonuses as above). Damage: 12 (rolled 8 + 3 STR + 1 Inspire Courage).

I doubt a sneak attack would be possible at the time, so… I believe that's it.

Sayyadina
Initiative: 14 (12 + 2 dex)

First, Amara will send Kirza up to fly around and report back on the state of the battle, instructing him to stay well out of range of any archers/crossbowmen. She tells him to report location and number of other groups of goblins and anything particularly noteworthy (i.e. magic-users, humans aiding the goblins, non-goblins) he finds.

Amara's first priority is to stay well out of the reach of any goblins (and out of melee range, taking 5-foot steps always and move actions as necessary but as little as possible so she can reload); other than that, she'll use her crossbow and only use spells if things look to be going really, really badly for the party (i.e., if a pack of 10 goblins show up out of nowhere and start charging us, she'd cast Sleep instead).

Targeting priorities: leader first (if she can tell who it is/has line of sight), then other goblins.

  • To hit: 17 (14 + 0 BaB + 2 Dex + 1 bard) Damage: 4 (3 + 1 bard)
  • To hit: 23 (20 + 3) Damage: 19 (auto 10 + 8 + 1 bard)
  • To hit: 16 (13 + 3) Damage: 11 (10 + 1 bard)

Thevarou
Initiative: 18 + 0

Though it’s typical Maha’i practice to try to intimidate goblins that appear threatening before engaging them, if conflict has begun they’ll fight back, and that’s what Khaska will do now, first with a round on his shortbow and then two with his scimitar. He would have used magic to start off, but he’s saving it for any who come out of the fight injured. He’ll probably step out in front of the group, putting himself between them and the entrance to the station. Any leaders he discerns among the goblins will, of course, be a top priority, but Khaska will take whatever comes his way.

  • To hit: 5 = 4 + 1 (Bard)
    • Damage: 2 = 1 + 1
  • To hit: 9 = 7 + 1 (Strength) + 1 (Bard)
    • Damage: 8 = 6 + 1 + 1
  • To hit: 20 = 18 + 1 + 1
    • Damage: 12 = 6 (critical hit) + 4 + 1 +1

DeltaWolf

Initiative: 15 (14 + 1)

Jenika (who appears to be the only one who isn't "packing") will choose to engage a target so as not to get surrounded or greatly outnumbered.

Using lethal unarmed attack
*To hit: 11 (rolled 8 + 2 STR + 1 Inspire Courage). Damage: 7 (rolled 4 +2 STR + 1 Inspire Courage).
Using Flurry of Blows (2 attacks)
*To hit: 11 (rolled 10 +2 STR -2 penalty +1 Inspire Courage) Damage: 9 (rolled 6 +2 STR +1 Inspire Courage)
*To hit: 13 (rolled 12 +2 STR -2 penalty +1 Inspire Courage) Damage: 6 (rolled 3 +2 STR +1 Inspire Courage)
Using Flurry of Blows (2 attacks)
*To hit: 15 (rolled 14 +2 STR -2 penalty +1 Inspire Courage) Damage: 5 (rolled 2 +2 STR +1 Inspire Courage)
*To hit: 16 (rolled 15 +2 STR -2 penalty +1 Inspire Courage) Damage: 5 (rolled 2 +2 STR +1 Inspire Courage)

Amara, Rynn, and Khaska all fired at the goblins, but only Amara’s found its target. One goblin dropped in a heap, the bolt jutting from his throat. The caravan guards rushed into the fray as well, meeting the goblin charge. Jenika arrived with the first of them, but goblins and defenders alike were unable to do any damage. The big goblin ran at Jenika, but the monk deftly dodged the longsword blow aimed at her head.

The guards waded into the goblins, and one of the creatures went down, his entire head severed by the man’s blow. Another attacked the leader, but completely missed. Khaska and Orensland also attacked the leader, but they also were unable to connect. The goblin began to laugh, mocking the three attackers, but stopped when Rynn managed to stab him in the arm. The goblin cursed and swung at the ranger, but the blow was too clumsy and the big goblin missed.

More goblins rushed in, and the area around the gate became a milling storm of weapons and dust as they began to pour through the door. Both Orensland and Rynn were hit, but another bolt flew into the fray. It flew right past Khaska's horns and landed right in the big goblin’s face. Without a sound, he toppled over, dead.

Rynn flicked the blood off of his sword and whirled around. One of the goblins toppled over for no apparent reason, but in the darkness past the doors, he could see many others. This was no raiding party. It was a full out attack.

“There are a lot more coming!” he yelled, as he swung at the goblin in front of him. Gorgoreth appeared beside him and stabbed at the dazed goblin, but missed. By now the rest of the caravan guards had entered the fray, and together they all began trying to drive the goblins back. One of the guards clambered up the ladder to the overlook by the door, but quickly ducked as several arrows flew by him. “We’re not going to be able to hold them!” he yelled, jumping down.

“They’re attacking from different sides,” yelled Amara. “Kirza says there’s at least forty of them.”

Khaska let loose an arrow, trapped behind the line of defenders. He was satisfied to hear a cry in the darkness, and saw a goblin fall. “Gorgoreth?”

The outpost leader paused to look out the doors as Orensland stabbed the comatose goblin at his feet. “Into the warehouses! The doors are too narrow, we can hold them one at a time!” He ran to open one of them, grabbing a ring of keys off of his belt as he did so. Elial stepped forward, moving his hands and chanting. A fireball bloomed just beyond the outpost entrance. “Get the warehouses open,” the bard said.

The goblin in front of Rynn had been outside the blast radius, and the ranger stabbed at the creature, which snarled at him as it tried to claw feebly at the sword embedded in its chest before succumbing to its injury.

More goblins rushed to fill the void, clambering over the bodies of their charred companions. Elial’s spell had bought just a few seconds, but only a few. One swung at Orensland, another managed to club Rynn with a Morningstar. Jenika managed to squeeze in, her fists raining down on the one attacking Orensland, smashing him and leaving him a bloody pulp.

“By the well!” yelled Amara. She let loose another bolt at two who had appeared from that direction. It hit the closest one in the gut, and the creature took a few steps forward, whimpering in pain, before it crumpled to the ground.

Rynn was impressed with her shooting. But things were not going well. Another moment and they could easily be in bad shape, he thought. Just then, an arrow flew at the Maha’i and it staggered the cleric. Khaska was clearly in bad shape just from the one hit. Rynn, Orensland, and Khaska had been injured, and still more goblins were attempting to overrun the fort. Gorgoreth had finally opened the warehouse closest to them.

“Hurry!” he shouted.

Eryx (DM)
I took the liberty of switching which weapons were used as combat went from ranged to melee pretty quickly. You guys have killed seven goblins so far! But here’s where things stand.

Orensland, Rynn, and Khaska have both taken damage. They’re at 5, 2, and 1 HP, respectively. Kirsha has let Amara know that there are a lot of goblins. A lot. They managed to get two ladders up on the west and east sides, respectively, before the guards could stop them, and more are pouring in. You’ll be surrounded in the courtyard-like area in just a few rounds.

Gorgoreth has opened one of the warehouses, and the caravan guards look to be following him. He’s positioning himself to open the second warehouse (closer to the well). Looks like the caravan guards are heading for the first. Tactically, that seems the best thing to do at the moment. You would have been in a much better position, but the very last goblin to launch an arrow at Khaska crit him.

What will you do next? Please give me 3 more rounds of actions.

Sayyadina
Round 1: Amara will tell everyone to get in the (first) warehouse and get behind her, hold her action until the PCs have done that, and then will cast Color Spray from the doorway (casting defensively, Concentration check 25 (19 + 2 Con + 4 ranks) vs DC 16 check). Targets affected (15-foot cone; Will save DC 14 to negate) will be unconscious, blinded, and stunned for 2d4 (7) rounds, blinded and stunned for 1d4 (3) rounds, and stunned for an additional round. After casting she will cheerfully scamper behind the people who hit things for a living.

Barring any dire situations, Amara will spend the next two rounds shooting through the door at things that can actually fight back. If masses of goblins break into the warehouse she’d cast Color Spray again. Kirza will probably be flapping around agitatedly in the warehouse trying to stay away from anything malicious, perching concernedly on Khaska if he's far enough away from enemies.

Round 2:

  • To hit: 17 (18 + 0 BaB + 2 Dex + 1 bard – 4 for shooting into melee), damage 4 (3 + 1 bard)

Round 3:

  • To hit: 1 (2 – 1), damage 3 (2 + 1)

Thevarou
Khaska is in a great deal of pain and knows he’s gravely injured - the arrow, shot at point-blank range, pierced his chest armor - so he’ll be prudent and try to leave the field of battle. Knowing that the first storehouse is the best option, as the other guards are going there, he’ll dash as fast as he can to the back, where he intends to heal himself as best he can. He then plans on rejoining the fray and helping out in the fight.

However, as he darts into the warehouse and reaches the back, he turns around and, in the flash of Amara’s Color Spray, sees the silhouette of the dragon that appeared to him months before in the desert, the one that led him to be here through sundry means. As the dragon appears to be backlit, he can’t see it too well, but he hears one word in Common: it’s either “sun” or “son”. After the split second vision, the light fades and the dragon shrinks into Kirza’s form, flying toward him to alight on his horns. Though truly dazed by the pain, he casts his healing spell and goes back to fighting with his scimitar, leaving speculation about the vision for later.

  • Run into the warehouse, Cure Light Wounds: 4 = 3 + 1
  • To hit: 7 = 5 + 1 (Str) + 1 (Bard)
    • Damage: 2 = 1 + 1 (Str)
  • To hit: 6 = 4 + 1 + 1
    • Damage = 6 = 5 + 1

BlackWolf
Still wincing with pain from his injuries, Rynn will not wait to be told twice. On his first round he'll move toward/into the warehouse, then quick draw his bow (possibly setting aside or dropping his sword if necessary) so he can keep firing at goblins.

In his second and third rounds, he'll move as far back into the warehouse as he can while still having a good shot. Maybe even climb up on something if he can get a slight height advantage. He's going to try to shoot through the door, past the melee, to hit any goblins he can. Priority will be on killing any goblins that aren't stunned, but he'll take any target that presents itself.

I'm hoping that he'll have some clear shots and avoid the -4 penalty for shooting into melee, but the DM can apply that penalty as required if that's his best shot. Here are my rolls:

  • To hit: 11 (rolled 7 + 1 base attack + 2 DEX + 1 Inspire Courage). Damage: 9 (rolled 6 + 2 favored enemy + 1 Inspire Courage).
  • To hit: 8 (rolled 4 + 4 same bonuses as above). Damage: 10 (rolled 7 + 3 same bonuses as above).
  • To hit: 14 (rolled 10 + 4 same bonuses as above). Damage: 9 (rolled 6 + 3 same bonuses as above).

Well, that's kind of disheartening… seems unlikely that any of those will hit, unless his best targets are stunned goblins (thank you color spray for making them drop weapons and shields). This just isn't Rynn's best set of rounds, I guess. Hopefully Orensland and Jenika will have better luck and drop some of these little villains.

Although Rynn wouldn't mind being the recipient of some magical healing, he'd want the melee fighters to get the heals to keep the goblins at bay. Hopefully by staying way back he'll avoid more damage.

Crosis
Orensland would recognize the importance of making it to the first warehouse after being injured. Besides, the second warehouse could take longer to actually open up.

I assume the guards are mostly armed for hand-to-hand combat, so Orensland would also move out of melee range and shoot with his crossbow for as long as possible. The high ground is a good idea, if that would be possible. I wouldn't want to hit our allies and the higher ground would better ensure that. Is there a window or other hole on the side of the warehouse with the attacking goblins? I'd go there first, if it weren't particularly dangerous. If climbing is necessary, I rolled a 16 (Rolled 11 + 5 Climbing). Furthermore, the leader would be a target (or was he the "big goblin" that was killed with a stray arrow?). If not, I would move to the back as well. Here are my rolls for attacking:

To hit: 18 (rolled 12 + 5 DEX + 1 Inspire Courage). Damage:2 (rolled 1 + 1 Inspire Courage).
To hit: 12 (rolled 6 + 6 same bonuses as above). Damage: 9 (rolled 8 + 1 Inspire Courage).
To hit: 9 (rolled 3 + 6 same bonuses as above). Damage: 5 (rolled 4 + 1 Inspire Courage).

Orensland's shots weren't so great either. Good luck, Jenika.

DeltaWolf

Jenika would make for the first warehouse. She would make the warehouse entrance her priority.

Using lethal unarmed attack

*To hit: 22 (rolled 19 + 2 STR + 1 Inspire Courage). Damage: 4 (rolled 1 +2 STR + 1 Inspire Courage).

Using lethal Flurry of Blows (2 attacks)

*To hit: 2 (rolled 1 +2 STR -2 penalty +1 Inspire Courage) Damage: 7 (rolled 4 +2 STR +1 Inspire Courage)

*To hit: 9 (rolled 8 +2 STR -2 penalty +1 Inspire Courage) Damage: 7 (rolled 4 +2 STR +1 Inspire Courage)

Using lethal Flurry of Blows (2 attacks)

*To hit: 17 (rolled 16 +2 STR -2 penalty +1 Inspire Courage) Damage: 5 (rolled 2 +2 STR +1 Inspire Courage)

*To hit: 9 (rolled 8 +2 STR -2 penalty +1 Inspire Courage) Damage: 7 (rolled 4 +2 STR +1 Inspire Courage)

だめ!(no good/hopeless)

Khaska didn’t need to be told twice. The Maha’i ran for the open door, his long legs helping him be the first into the storage building. A quick prayer to Teresh brough a healing spell to his lips, and his subtle magics closed the wound around his shoulder, staunching the bleeding. The others began to pour in through the opening, travelers and caravan guards alike. One of the guards wheeled to smack a goblin, but the creature managed to shrug off the blow. However, Jenika smashed it with the palm of her hand, and the creature dropped. Gorgoreth jumped in with a panicky look on his face. Apparently he didn’t even get to the other storage building before turning around.

Amara was the last one in, firing her crossbow and dropping yet another goblin as she entered. One more goblin tried to jump in, but again the concerted efforts of Jenika and that same guard brought it down. Arrows and crossbow bolts from those in the back of the warehouse whizzed by, but none found their mark. Amara dropped her crossbow and whirled, chanting in the arcane language of magic. Stepping forward she raised her hands and a blast of multi-colored light sprayed from her hands. Khaska could see the goblins rushing towards them all collapse to the ground. But what startled the cleric was the image he saw in the colors. A dragon coalesced briefly in the swirl of bright lights, and the Maha’i thought he heard a voice. The colors blasted apart as Kirza returned, alighting on the cleric’s horns, squawking all the time.

Elial looked genuinely surprised at Amara’s spell. “Seemed I was right. I thought you were a fellow of the craft,” he said, still strumming his mandolin. His bardic magic still strengthened all who could hear it.

The caravan guard closest to the door stuck his head out briefly, looked right, then left, then hurriedly ducked in and slammed it shut.

“We seem to have driven off the ones coming through the door, but …” The sound of splintering wood could be heard. Gorgoreth, a few steps away from the Northern wall, raised his eyes to the ceiling, as if to hear better.

“It sounds like they’re breaking into the wellhouse.”

“That’s what I saw. Wait? Where’s Laalarash?” the guard spun to look at one of his compatriots. “Gargael?”

The dwarf shrugged. “I thought he was right behind us. He had just come out of his tent!”

“I’ll bet the coward ducked back inside it. Now he’s trapped in there while the goblins run rampant in the camp.”

Gorgoreth looked at the guard leader, the one standing by the door, bracing it with his shoulder. “Could we get to him?”

The man snorted. “Not likely. Not if we went through the middle.”

There was more shouting from outside, harsh voices, and more wood splintering.

A loud voice yelled in Goblin.

“Get in there,” Rynn said, matter of faculty.

Jenika turned to the others. “Did you just hear a splash?”

“Shhh!” snapped Gorgoreth. Everybody strained to hear.

So, Khaska has healed himself and is now slightly higher than he was at the end of the last round. He has 5 hitpoints now.

Jenika is pretty sure she just heard a splash.

Laalarash is missing. The guards are pretty sure he’s trapped in his tent, stupidly, because he panicked. Going out the front door is a bad idea, but as you look around the wood hut, the roof doesn’t seem that sturdy. It’s thatch. There are a number of crates scattered in the middle (your characters are standing on some and were firing out the door when it was open). It’s the goods from the caravan.

Aside from the noises coming from the goblins, everybody can still hear some combat. Apparently some of the outpost guards are still alive, but were unable to get to you before you closed the doors. Gorgoreth would be able to tell you that there are 2 guards at each corner of the outpost at night, aside from the guards at the front gate.

The conversation took up one round, so the goblins (all of whom were affected) hit by Amara’s color spray will be out of commission for a few rounds yet. Elial has renewed his Inspire Courage on you.

What do you want to do? I’m open to the possibility that this text might not give you enough information. If you want, I can show you the general layout of the outpost I’ve generated for purposes of keeping combat straight for my own sake.

Crosis

You make it sound like the weak roof is reachable if the crates are shifted to the wall. If not, does Orensland have his grapple hook handy? Break through the roof, either drop or use the rope to climb down. Orensland would probably suggest escaping through the north-western side of the warehouse, so as not to make our appearance public. With that in mind, the travelers/guards probably circle one or both of the warehouses on our northern side and come in from a northeastern angle, using an element of surprise. Maybe another color spray for those at the wellhouse would be possible, if that's where most of them are.

If a direct attack is proposed and carried out, Orensland would probably stick to long-range shooting. It sounds wimpy, but he did get injured and has greater faith in his dexterity than his strength. If the grapple hook is handy, a rooftop might be a good vantage point to fire from. If not, around the wall of a warehouse. He'd target the goblins with bows, they are quite the nuisance. But this is thinking a bit into the future, so I'll end with that.

In terms of the purpose of the attack, it's apparent that this is not a simple raid, which means the goblins have a greater purpose than simple looting. That being the case, it would probably be smart to drag in one of the unconscious goblins and tie him up before leaving and come back for him later after his comrades have departed/been killed. Does Orensland have his rope (if not being used in the escape from the warehouse)?

BlackWolf
At this point, survival is foremost on Rynn's mind. He's sympathetic to Laalarash's plight (and is appreciative of the man's generosity), but he's not sure what to do about it. Trying to go find him may bring the group and Laalarash himself into greater danger.

My (and Rynn's) main concern right now is that we don't know what the goblins are after. I got a pretty outstanding listen check earlier, but didn't get anything from it. But here's another few checks, just for good measure to see if we can get any other info from the DM.

  • Listen: 18 (rolled 11 + 7 bonuses including favored enemy)
  • Sense Motive: 6 (rolled 2 + 4 bonuses including favored enemy)
  • General INT: 14 (rolled 13 + 1 bonus; this one is just for anything else Rynn might know about the situation).

Actually, now that I think about it, Rynn will also ask Gorgoreth and the guards, "Any idea why these goblins are attacking? This is no trivial raid. They're after something or someone!"

Without any idea of why the goblins are attacking, Rynn thinks it's dangerous to make any complex plans. Currently the safest option seems to be to just escape the outpost altogether and hide in the wild.

If Gorgoreth or the guards feel that they really need to rescue Laalarash, Rynn is altruistic enough to help them. He'd suggest exiting via the roof and trying to sneak over (as Crosis implied). He'd also suggest that he could fire arrows through the door to try to draw the attention of the goblins into the warehouse. Ideally he'd want someone to open the door then run across the warehouse to climb out. Then from the back he'd fire as many arrows as he could until needing to escape himself. Alternatively, he could fire from a rooftop.

I'm hoping to get more info before we move on, but here are some attack rolls just in case (assuming longbow). Rynn won't shy away from hitting stunned goblins to help thin out their numbers.

  • To hit: 8 (rolled 4 + 1 base attack + 2 DEX + 1 Inspire Courage). Damage: 9 (rolled 6 + 2 favored enemy + 1 Inspire Courage).
  • To hit: 15 (rolled 11 + 4 same bonuses as above). Damage: 8 (rolled 5 + 3 same bonuses as above).
  • To hit: 19 (rolled 15 + + 4 same bonuses as above). Damage: 8 (rolled 5 + 3 same bonuses as above).

DeltaWolf

Jenika wouldn’t ask anyone to put themselves in danger, but she herself would try to save anyone that she thinks she can, even to the point of dying herself. However, since her actions might put the others in danger, she would try to secure the others safety before trying anything heroic. The only way she will try to escape without trying to assist those still in trouble (including the guards), is to be convinced that she has no possibility of saving them.
Jenika also will also try for any more information:

  • Listen: 18 (rolled 12 +6 Mod)
  • Sense Motive: 10 (rolled 6 + 4 Mod)

Also if we decide upon Rynn’s idea of someone opening the door then escape, Jenika would volunteer to be the one to open the door.
Oh, and if necessary here is my jump and climb checks for getting on the roof:

*Climb: 19 (rolled 15+4 Mod)
*Jump: 7 (rolled 1+6 Mod)

Sayyadina
Given the situation, Amara's not particularly inclined to go after Laalarash. Her preference would be similar to Rynn's: get out, preferably unobserved, and find a nice quiet goblin-less place elsewhere. If the others insist on going to try to get him, her chance of helping them would strongly depend on how many goblins she sees that might see her if she were to run off into the desert herself. In the end, all she really cares about at the moment is 1) getting out alive and 2) eventually making it to Hammerdine. Knowing what the goblins are after would be nice, but as long as it isn't her she's not terribly concerned over it.

Amara is, however, more than a little concerned over the potential of that splash being something other than a goblin and/or hapless guard falling or being pushed into the well. She'll make a Listen check and an Intelligence check to see if she can figure that out or hear anything else:

  • Listen: 7 (4 + 3)
  • Int: 23 (20 + 3)

Regardless of what the others decide to do, getting out of the warehouse seems like a decent idea, and so if someone puts a hole in the roof (she's willing to help, but would probably be terribly inefficient at it—if someone more adept at dismantling things wants to try she'd delay her turn that round) she'll climb out. She's okay with shooting things from the roof if people think more shooting is really the best idea, but she'd rather just try to leave without drawing any more attention to herself than is necessary.

Whether there's time to actually leave or not, if a hole gets put in the roof Amara will send Kirza out for more information again. (info for Kirza from standard raven stats as per the SRD)

  • Spot (Kirza): 19 (12 + 7)
  • Listen (Kirza): 22 (17 + 5)

And crossbow attacks if they're needed, though Amara would really rather not:

  • To hit: 17 (14 + 0 BaB + 2 Dex + 1 bard). Damage: 8 (7 + 1 bard).
  • To hit: 22 (19 + 3). Damage: 8 (7 + 1).
  • To hit: 6 (3 + 3). Damage: 6 (5 + 1).

Other rolls as necessary: Jump and Climb to get out of the warehouse, not including any bonuses from those attempting to help, Diplomacy to persuade the other guards to leave Laalarash. If they're still very reluctant, she'll use Bluff (simple things like "Kirza saw a pack of goblins heading to the tent, he's probably already dead."), but she hopes not to need that.

  • Jump: 16 (15 + 1 Str)
  • Climb: 6 (5 + 1 Str)
  • Diplomacy: 13 (10 + 3 Cha)
  • Bluff: 18 (11 + 4 ranks + 3 Cha)

Thevarou
Khaska is somewhat dazed still, but he’s gotten up and is hoping to contribute. Since he can understand goblin, he’ll listen in on the conversations and yelling outside and try to figure out what’s going on; his experience with goblins tells him something is out of the ordinary, and he’s somewhat suspicious. His primary motive is, of course, survival, but he also feels a significant obligation to Laalarash, as he is a trustworthy employer and also the kindest in the caravan to Khaska (though perhaps that’s not saying much). If there’s discussion, he’ll vouch for a rescue (hence the diplomacy check), but his vehemence will depend on the magnitude of the perceived danger of a rescue attempt and its plausibility when compared to a simpler escape.

Spot: 6 = 1 + 5
Listen: 12 = 7 + 5
Intelligence: 3 = 1 + 2
Diplomacy: 4 = 5 – 1

So, as probably could be expected, Khaska failed the Diplomacy check, though he’s sincere and attempting to be firm but reservedly polite. matter whether the group decides upon a rescue or an escape, Khaska will be willing to collaborate. As he’s the tallest in the group, he would volunteer to break a hole in the roof and lift people through, probably staying behind to defend Rynn as he creates a diversion, then lifting him to escape. This, of course, would only be the case if he perceives Rynn might not be able to extricate himself from the storehouse without help, meaning that in all likelihood he will stay. Accordingly (though I don’t know if it’s necessary), here’s a strength check (for helping people out) and dexterity (for getting himself out):

  • Strength: 13 = 12 + 1
  • Dexterity: 12 = 12 + 0

If he is drawn into a situation in which combat is unavoidable, he will defend himself and others with his scimitar; otherwise, he will follow the group’s plan.

  • To hit: 16 = 13 + 2 + 1
    • Damage: 5 = 2 + 2 + 1
  • To hit: 14 = 11 + 2 + 1
    • Damage: 11 = 8 + 2 + 1
  • To hit: 16 = 13 + 2 + 1
    • Damage: 5 = 2 + 2 + 1

Crosis

Sorry, I forgot to do my rolls. Like everybody else, I'll roll for a bunch of things, depending on the circumstances. As said before, Orensland does plan on getting out of the warehouse. While maintaining his need for survival, he also has a terrible curiosity for what the true intentions of the goblin is. Plus, goblins are nasty little buggers that need a to meet a crossbow bolt. Orensland will run when the situation is truly dire, information that can be given from Kirza. However, it is acknowledged that escape can't occur over the west wall, because goblins got up there with ladders. So, get out of the warehouse (unless, of course, there are goblins right outside the warehouse). Unless somebody manages to understand Goblin and catches snatches of what's going on, I still stand behind tying up an unconscious goblin as a backup. If the leader is unconscious, all the better we tie him up. Orensland will listen to reason, should legitimate reasons be given against any of the above actions.

*Climb: 13 (8 + 5)
*Jump: 21 (16 + 5)
*Move Silently: 23 (14 + 9)
*Hide: 22 (13 + 9)
*Use Rope: 23 (16 + 7)

And then for the good old crossbow shots, should they be necessary. One, two, or all three, depending on the situation.

  • To hit: 22 (16 +5 Dex + 1 IC). Damage: 8 (7 + 1 bard).
  • To hit: 9 (3 + 6). Damage: 3 (2 + 1).
  • To hit: 17 (11 + 6). Damage: 4 (3 + 1).

Not a bad first shot, everything else mediocre as usual. Remember that Orensland would not attack a group of goblins all alone- his cover would be blown. I would offer being the forerunner for any guards or travelers with sneaking around, whether that be for escape from the outpost or approaching the tent/wellhouse from a better angle.

There was yelling. Rynn continued to quietly translate.

“My guy already got in. We’ll be the ones to do his bidding.”

“No. He charged us with retrieving the sacred stick!” That was as far as the conversation got. Then there was just yelling and screaming. It sounded like there were many goblins.

“This is no trivial raid. They’re after something. A ‘sacred stick.’” said Rynn. “Any idea what it is?”

Gorgoreth shook his head. “No idea. The well has been here as long as anybody can remember. It’s why we set up our outpost here a few years ago.”

“Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think leaving is a good idea,” said Orensland.

“Indeed,” said Elial, “discretion is the better part of valor. Today at least.” He stopped strumming, and glanced to the south, as if to look through the wall. He was clearly in thought about something.

“Well,” Jenika poked her head out the door for just a moment. “One’s come over to check on the ones Amara stunned.”

“And the path to the front gate will be in plain sight,” said Gorgoreth.

Orensland already had out his grappling hook. “How strong are these roofs?”

The outpost leader sighed. “If we stack these crates, one of us could easily punch a hole through the roof. It’s more to keep out sand than anything.”

“That at least gives us the high ground,” said Rynn. He was already moving to one of the crates.

“We’re just gonna let Laalarash die?” one of the guards said.

A goblin shrieked just outside the door, and then someone was pounding frantically. “Let me in! Hurry!”

Gorgoreth hurriedly threw the door open before anybody else could react and a guard rushed in. It was one of the other guards. She was breathing heavily, but appeared to be uninjured.

“What’s going on out there?” Gorgoreth demanded of the woman.

“Bunch of them. By the wellhouse. Didn’t get. A good look.” The guard was clearly out of breath. “Didn’t see. Anybody else. Out there.”

Then the door began to smash inward again. Jenika and several of the caravan guards flattened against it to hold it shut.

“Time to go?” asked Rynn.

“Time to go,” said Orensland. The two pushed a few crates together, and then Orensland clambered up and punched through the thatch roof in the corner. He disappeared up as the sounds of the goblins at the door became more menacing.

Jenika and the caravan guards looked at each other. “I’ll be the last one. Go,” she said.

One by one, Khaska and Orensland helped everybody out the hole in the thatch, the tall Maha’i easily able to help get them out from his perch atop the crates. The pounding on the door became rhythmic, the goblins clearly trying to break in more systematically. Jenika waited while the rest of her companions all vanished, and then flung the door open at the right moment, sprinting away. Several goblins dropped into the front door as the monk deftly ran up the crates, grabbed one of the wood struts keeping the roof up, and disappeared into the hole before the goblins could even recover.

Atop the roof, Jenika dropped down to the walkway around the fence. The rest of the group had already begun moving towards the North side, where the top of a ladder was poking up. There were no goblins in sight, but she could still hear yelling from the middle of the outpost. Rynn indicated to move quietly, and they moved along the walkway. To their left, over the fence, the desert. To their right, the tops of the storehouses.

Rynn paused to look between the two storehouses. There was a mass of goblins around the well house. They seemed to be in two different groups, but aside from that didn’t get a good look. He wanted to move forward, but Elial had paused to look behind them.

Amara was already on the ladder when Gorgoreth ran past and poked his head around the edge of the north storehouse. He turned back. “There aren’t any goblins this way. We could get to the main tent from here! Get Laalarash!”

Amara hesitated a moment, turning her head to the sky and pausing. “Kirza says all the goblins are in the center, they don’t appear to have gone into that tent, or …” she jerked her head to the side, looking back the way they came. “They’re coming out of our hole!”

Rynn, Khaska, and Orensland all turned and fired at the goblin who had just begun to clamber out of the hole. Rynn and Khaska’s arrows missed, disappearing into the thatch roof, but Orensland’s bolt hit, and the goblin dropped out of sight.

“I still think discretion is the better part of valor. Time to be going!” said Elial. The bard was clearly flustered, and kept glancing back towards the storehouse.

Eryx (DM)
So in talking with a few of you over IM, it appears I hadn't given you enough information to really make any concrete decisions last grey box. That’s my bad, but I stand behind the fact that, really, your characters wouldn’t yet have a clue what’s going on. Hopefully you have a better idea of what’s going on this time so you don't feel as in the dark.

It’s been a few rounds, and Elial’s Inspire Courage has worn off. The walls of the outpost have a walkway that extends all the way around, for patrolling guards to be able to see out into the desert. You’re on that now, and you’ve found the ladder the goblins used to get in on the west side. It appears that they just jumped down from the walkway into the fort, so it would be difficult for them to get back up. Goblins, after all, aren’t terribly intelligent.

On the outpost map I sent you last time, your characters, four guards, Gorgoreth and Elial, are in the northwest corner. Laalarash, you suspect, is in the big tent just north of the wellhouse.

By now it’s obvious from the conversations, and watching the goblins, that they’re pretty focused on that wellhouse, which they've broken in to, and they’re here to get something. The ones coming after you are still on your tail, but you are convinced killing you isn’t a primary objective. Plus now the ones pursuing you really can only come at you one at a time, because the only way up is through the storehouse you guys came (or ladders at the entryway to the outpost, but that’s pretty far for the goblins to go), and the walkway isn’t large enough for two people at once.

It would be pretty easy to get to the backside of the main tent without being seen by sneaking along the north side, but to get actually into the tent, you’d have to jump down to the ground level, and then to get out you’d have to climb back up.

The guards and Gorgoreth are certainly keen on the idea of a rescue. Elial appears to want to get out of here, and he does keep glancing back. He’s worried about something. (I’ve rolled sense motive checks and both Rynn and Orensland at this point are pretty sure the bard is distracted and worried about something back in the direction of the storehouse.)

What do your characters do? Fight the goblins from the high ground? Attempt a rescue of the merchant stuck in his tent? Follow Amara down the ladder and get out of there?

BlackWolf
Yes, I think we're in a much better place for making decisions now. Thanks. I get that we're supposed to be somewhat in the dark, but now we can make some educated guesses. ;)

Now that it looks like we can escape relatively easily, Rynn would like to see a rescue of Laalarash. But being injured himself, he'd prefer to provide cover via archery from atop the walkway. Hopefully 1-2 people (guards, or maybe Jenika?) would be willing to sneak over to the tent and get Laalarash. Rynn will suggest that everyone else escape down the ladder, or at least be ready to do so while firing crossbow bolts or whatever. Rynn would be ready to help the rescue party climb back up onto the fence and get away.

If no one is willing to go after Laalarash, then Rynn will be conflicted as to whether he should try a rescue by himself or if he should just go with the group to help them survive in the wilderness. They do have Khaska though.

Here are some (longbow) attack rolls in case any goblins see what we're up to:

  • To hit: 13 (rolled 10 + 1 base attack + 2 DEX). Damage: 10 (rolled 8 + 2 favored enemy).
  • To hit: 18 (rolled 15 + 3 same bonuses). Damage: 4 (rolled 2 + 2 favored enemy).
  • To hit: 6 (rolled 3 + 3 same bonuses). Damage: 3 (rolled 1 + 2 favored enemy).

DeltaWolf
Jenika supports Rynn’s idea to try to save Laalarash, and would be willing to sneak over to save him.

  • Move Silently: 9 (4 rolled +5) the crap!

So she might have to do some fighting;

Flurry of Blows (2 attacks)

  • To hit: 20 (rolled 20 +2STR -2 Penalty) Damage: 3 (rolled 1 +2STR)
  • To hit: 4 (rolled 4 +2STR -2 Penalty) Damage: 8 (rolled 6 +2STR)

Flurry of Blows (2 attacks)

  • To hit: 20 (rolled 20 +2STR -2 Penalty) Damage: 7 (rolled 5 +2STR)
  • To hit: 18 (rolled 18 +2STR -2 Penalty) Damage: 5 (rolled 3 +2STR)

Flurry of Blows (2 attacks)

  • To hit: 4 (rolled 4 +2STR -2 Penalty) Damage: 6 (rolled 4 +2STR)
  • To hit: 8 (rolled 8 +2STR -2 Penalty) Damage: 7 (rolled 5 +2STR)

It looks like I need less jinxed dice

Crosis
Orensland likes the idea of rescuing Laalarash. He would also offer to sneak over to save/find the man. We should probably keep the sneaky party down to a minimal number for concealment. If my grappling hook is ready, we can get back up onto the walkway without a ladder as well.

*Move Silently: 15 (6+9)

Not my best roll, but it'll do, as the goblins are focused on the wellhouse. However, Orensland does have a morbid curiosity concerning the "sacred stick" the goblins are after. Obtaining it is an intriguing concept, though granted the typical sneaking around business would not work, as it's probably in the wellhouse besieged by goblins.

So here's my question- is the wellhouse flammable? I feel the building is way to small to sneak into without getting butchered. We could hear wood splintering, and if the roof is also thatch, it seems the place could burn easily. By doing so, it could well throw the goblins into confusion. And where there's confusion with two bickering groups of goblins, they may even put the blame on each other. They're not that smart. We could even push along the blame by having somebody shout curse words in Goblin. It'll buy time, as they can't get into the well, and as a bonus they may even kill each other. If Laalarash is in there, either he's dead from a few goblin stabs or he's at the bottom of the well, where he should be relatively safe. If the sacred stick is flammable, it's either a) hidden in the stones of the well b) on Laalarash c) the goblins have it already or d) it's also at the bottom of the well. Who knows, it may even be in the big tent. It should be relatively safe.

And then, should we be exposed and attacks come up, here are a few crossbow shots. How many bolts do I have left? I don't want to run out of them in the heat of the moment.

  • To hit: 19 (rolled 14 + 5 DEX). Damage: 8
  • To hit: 17 (rolled 12 + 5 DEX). Damage: 8
  • To hit: 15 (rolled 10 + 5 DEX). Damage: 6

Sayyadina
Amara would prefer to stay out of reach of goblins, so she'll stay back with Rynn and shoot either goblins that try to climb up out of the warehouse or goblins that are already engaged in fighting. (Presumably the caravan guards came up with us and aren't the sneakiest types?)

  • To hit: 15 (13 + 2 Dex). Damage: 1
  • To hit: 18 (16 + 2). Damage: 9
  • To hit: 5 (3 + 2). Damage: 1

Thevarou
Khaska, upon hearing something about a sacred stick, will sit still and try to listen to the goblins’ conversation, hoping to catch anything more. As the Maha’i have dealings with the goblins, though not always friendly, he’ll try to remember whether he knows anything about such an artifact in their religion and its significance – and hence the reason behind the attack. He’ll figure out what he can.

  • Listen Check: 19 = 14 + 5
  • Knowledge – Religion Check: 16 = 10 + 6

He’ll also provide cover for the party that is going to retrieve Laalarash with his shortbow. If a diversion is needed – for example, someone shouting in Goblin – Khaska can do that as well.

  • To hit: 8 = 8 + 0 Damage: 3
  • To hit: 7 = 7 + 0 Damage: 5
  • To hit: 9 = 9 + 0 Damage: 3

“No,” said Khaska. The Maha'i drew himself to his full height. “We will rescue Laalarash. Then we will leave.”

“Agreed,” said Rynn.

“I’ll get him,” said Jenika. She pushed ahead. Orensland turned to go with her. “I’ll help,” he said as he readied his grappling hook.

Elial looked at the two of them, then nodded. “Heroes. Your kind will be needed in the years ahead.” He glanced up into the sky, where Arkenos sat in plain view of all.

Rynn whirled and fired another shot at a goblin coming out of the hole in the thatched roof. The arrow bounced off of the goblin’s armor. The creature hesitated for a moment, but then kept coming. “Better make it quick!” he said, firing again. This time the shot hit and the goblin ducked down, injured, and obviously unwilling to continue.

The two rushed past the guards. The dwarf stepped forward. “What can we do?”

“Just stay here. The fewer of us the better,” Jenika said.

“And we still have to get back up here,” said Orensland.

The two of them ducked around the corner. Khaska came with them, but didn’t follow when they jumped down.

Ducking past the gap between the warehouse and the tent was easy. The goblins were all shouting and yelling. Khaska glanced around the edge of the warehouse. He could hear the goblins still screaming. It was apparent that there were at least two groups, and that they were fighting over this “sacred stick,” whatever it was, and he had no idea what it could be.

Down below him, Jenika began to sneak around the side of the tent, but Orensland grabbed her. “You’re going in the front door?” Without a word, he went back and cleanly cut through the tent fibers with his daggers. She came back. “You need to think more sneaky.”

“I don’t like sneaks.”

He glared at her. “If you’d rather launch a full assault on the mass of goblins just on the other side of the tent, go ahead.”

She pushed past him. “Laalarash!” she hissed into the darkness of the tent.

A pile of blankets to her right moved, and the fat merchant crawled out. “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.”

“We have to go! Come on!” snapped Orensland.

The man got laboriously to his feet but managed to get out of the tent. He collapsed on Orensland. “Thank you. Oh, thank you. Thanks Markus you came back!”

“Come on,” said Jenika. She looked up at Khaska, still hidden a few feet away behind the top of the north storehouse. The Maha’i looked at her, confused, then smiled. He stood up and yelled in Goblin.

“Kree’ska jur, dnorun. Raitheresto!” Then he whirled around and fired a single arrow towards the goblins. It flew wide, not hitting any of them, but its effect was immediate.

The goblins exploded with rage. The two groups went at it. Everybody watched as the mass of little humanoids converged by the wellhouse, a full thirty or so attacking each other. With the combat, it was easy for Jenika, Laalarash, and Orensland to sneak past and get hoisted up onto the walkway.

“Well done,” said Rynn, peeking his head around the corner of the storehouse.

“We’ve done the hero thing!” said Elial. “Well, you have, anyway. I vote that we now leave. I don’t want to stick around to see the winner come after us.” The bard bolted to where the ladder was and began to clamber down.

Rynn and Khaska looked at each other. Amara was by the ladder, with the rest of the crowd. Kirza was circling above. “Let’s get ready to move, if we need to,” the ranger said. “I’d like to stay as long as we can,” the Maha’i responded. “I don’t know what this ‘sacred stick,’ is.”

“Gorgoreth,” Laalarash was saying, “can we survive in the desert? Oh dear.”

Gorgoreth nodded. “We’re the last outpost in the wastes. If we really needed to, we could push on to the edge of the desert.”

The mass of goblins was still fighting, but it was clear that one of the groups was quickly gaining the upper hand. After a few moments, also, another goblin poked his head up from the storehouse they had hid in. He fired an arrow in their direction, then ducked down. The arrow flew very wide—he hadn’t really even lined up a shot. But they were getting braver. Some other goblins from the storehouse, apparently not wanting to clamber out one at a time, came around and began shooting arrows at the group. The attacks were ineffective against them, however. But the goblins stupidly stood out in the open, not using the storehouses for cover. Return fire from Orensland and Khaska killed a few, but quickly it became apparent that the goblins were done fighting amongst themselves, and that those in the middle had become aware of the remaining survivors. The tide was quickly turning. The two Kleitheran merchants and the remaining caravan guards had already dropped down outside the outpost wall.

“I think we’ve overstayed our welcome,” said Rynn, loosing an arrow of his own. “Time to go.”

“I think that would be wise,” said the cleric, firing a last arrow.

Orensland didn’t need to be told twice. He fired his last crossbow bolt, and quickly ran and slid down the ladder. Rynn was the last one down, and he grabbed the ladder and tipped it away from the wall. It clattered to the ground. Goblins could still jump down, he guessed, but still, every little bit helped. By now two goblins were on the walkway, firing ineffectually at the survivors. Amara managed to kill one, and that sent the other packing. It appeared that no others were coming after them for the moment.

"Follow me," said Rynn, taking the lead. The group disappeared into the wastes. Elial had already vanished, and was nowhere to be seen. The bard had apparently panicked and fled on his own.

Eryx (DM)
Thus ends Chapter 1. Overall, you killed 13 goblins, and one “big” goblin that you’re pretty sure was a clan leader. For that, and for some thinking outside the box, your characters each get 650 XP (500 for killing goblins, 150 for rescuing Laalarash and managing to escape with so many of the caravan guards alive).

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