Codex I-Chapter 4

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The party’s journey was uneventful, mostly discussing what they intended to do. Orensland gleefully suggested stealing the human’s supply of this red leaf and bribing the goblins with it. The thought of turning the drugged hordes back on these “dealers” made him grin so much Jenika wanted to wipe the smirk off his face. And Rynn had to tell him to stop giggling randomly after he suggested it.

Kirza had already given then a good idea of what to expect, and from the outskirts of the trees they could see the ruins in enough detail that they could confirm the raven’s assessment. The camp was atop the hill, so there was plenty of visibility. Sneaking up would not be easy. The faint outline of the skyship could be seen. It was definitely of the smaller variety, but still probably capable of holding several people. Much more couldn’t be seen at night.

Orensland offered to sneak up and scout the ruins, and everybody agreed that he was probably the best person to do so. Even Jenika begrudgingly agreed, though Khaska still heard her utter under her breath something about rogues being too sneaky for their own good. After Orensland had slipped off, of course. The Maha’i smiled at this, then sat down with the others to wait for the rogue’s return.

Orensland snuck closer, taking his time to move from ruined wall to ruined wall, stepping lightly, and trying to watch for those at the camp. There was no way of knowing what their numbers were, or what their inclinations were, but he thought it best to take no chances. He was pretty confident that he had not been spotted as he made his way up the hill.

The ship was coming into more clear focus as he got closer. It wasn’t really all that large, probably only about thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide. It had a single mast, and was hovering about 10 feet above the ground and was tied to one of the columns. The humans had set up camp right by it, on a small patch of grassy earth near the main building (it looked like a temple to Orensland, but what did he know about religion, really?). He glanced quickly inside, seeing a large stone slab sitting in front of a large circle of stone. Must be the altar that the locals had spoken of. But he wasn’t here to look at the pretty ancient architecture. He snuck closer to the camp.

It was apparent from the setup of the camp that it was meant to be more permanent. There was a tent set up by some more crates and supplies. A horse was tied off by the tent, and it was clear that the horse had been eating and trampling that spot for some time. The remains of a fire could be seen, and there two figures sat next to it on makeshift chairs of some crates, one human, a big man, wearing plate. The other was a gnome. The human was absentmindedly poking at the dying embers as the Orensland began to sneak closer, moving as quietly as he dared.

“ … not sure when we’ll be done here,” the gnome was saying. “Could be tomorrow. Could be next year.”

“The goblins aren’t gonna keep the humans away that long.”

“Not rightly sure you’ve picked the best way to handle that.”

“It was my call. You wanted the rod, they were the best way to get it. You wanted privacy, we’ve scared off the local farmers. Hunting season will begin soon and I venture you don’t wanna bunch o’ idiot farmers messin’ up yer brother’s … well, whatever it is he’s doing.”

There was an awkward silence. The gnome spoke back up.

“At least you’ve learned not to keep asking. We’re not paying you to ask questions. Just to help us maintain our privacy.”

A small dark shape scurried down the rope tying the skyship to the base of the column, and came closer to the dying fire. It scampered up to the gnome and the two looked like they were in conversation for a moment. It looked like a weasel, but in the dying light it was difficult to make out. Definitely something furry, though. Maybe a rat? The gnome started for a moment, but then reached into his pocket and pulled out something that the creature ate before scampering away and then back up the rope.

“Well,” the gnome said. “I’m going to turn in. You’ve got first watch tonight. One of my brothers will be up in a few hours to relieve you.”

“If it’s Jebook, he’d better not ‘forget’ to be waking up.”

“He’ll get up. Night.”

The gnome got up and moved over to the skyship. A ladder hung over it’s railing, and the gnome deftly climbed up it. The ship shifted a little as he boarded. The human went back to poking the fire, eventually getting up to toss another log onto it.

Orensland snuck behind the human to the tent and the crates, sniffing around, trying to find if any of the red leaf was there. It wasn’t hard to find, really. Luckily the stash of these men wasn’t up on the skyship. It was among the crates by the tent, but not easily accessible. He didn’t want to get that close without backup nearby. Only the human was visible, but there were at least two more up on the ship, and who knows who else? He thought it best to sneak back to his allies and report on his findings. He slipped away into the night, and returned to the others without incident and told the others what he had seen and heard.

Eryx (DM)
And I forgot to mention that none of you would really know what this red leaf is. Khaska’s knowledge roll came up with no useful information. You’ve heard of similar smoked narcotics, but can’t really identify it from memory.

So, it’s obvious that this group has been here for a while, but apparently the gnome (and his brothers) sleeps on the ship. The human sleeps in a tent on the ground. You’re not sure if there’s anybody else on the ship.

The red leaf is on the ground, but it’s atop a pile of crates and other supplies. There was a great search roll you had, Crosis. Well, okay, I rolled it for you, but it was great. 26 total.

What do you guys want to do?

Crosis
I'm happy for the search role! Yay for luck.

Well, I have my hypothesizing. Putting a few pieces together, the gnomes wanted a sacred stick that nobody knew about from a well whose origins we can only guess at. Next, we find that they are encamped in ruins that could well expose their origins/intentions to farmers, but rather than moving elsewhere they need to stay at this ancient "temple," the origins of which are also unknown. Sacred stick, ancient temple. The two are connected. And just as a freebee random suggestion, it's my opinion they're looking to discover the origins of the crystals that keep ships floating. After all, they have an ancient, mystical kind of power, which ties right in with an ancient, mysterious temple and sacred, magical object. That's my theory, at least.

As for what we do next. Frankly, I know I've said this enough, but I still support the idea of burning the red leaf. It puts a huge delay in their plans and lets us learn a bit more about everything, as well as putting some soon-to-be cranky goblins into withdrawl. If we're going to make them attack the human/gnomes (unless we learn more that would change our minds) it seems to be a good idea to make them irritable first. Plus, if we're lucky, the gnomes and human will be pacified by the narcotic smoke while putting it out, making it easier for us to put them down if necessary. Unless it strengthens them, which I sincerely hope it doesn't. As for how to set the fire, I would suggest getting oil, dousing the red leaf in it, and then having Rynn shoot flaming arrows. We can either stop them ourselves, as their means don't justify their ends, or have the irritated goblins go after them. I'd prefer the first, but whatever works. We could do it while their distracted by the fire and/or high from the smoke, as long as we stay far enough away from it.

DeltaWolf

I like the idea of getting rid of this red leaf, however I think we must be very carful. A drug that works as a tranquilizer or painkiller in small doses can be lethal in large doses. And so far we only have observed what the red leaf does to goblins, the drug may effect humans and elves (and Maha'i) the same way or it my not. Also I like to point out that people going through withdrawals (and goblin besides) are not the most logical. Overall I think we need more information before making a smart decision. I would like to dedicate more time to info gathering.

Jenika is an advocate of stealth, to her, there is a big difference between a scout and a common thief.

Thevarou
Just wondering: in posting our characters' actions, we are working off the assumption that Orensland has returned and told us everything?

Eryx (DM)
Yes, Orensland was able to return and tell everybody what he saw.

BlackWolf
I concur with Crosis' theorizing regarding the gnomes. It would seem that the human they've hired hasn't necessarily been going about things the way the gnomes would have liked, so it may be that the gnomes would be open to diplomacy.

And since we are dealing with Gnomes, we do need to be somewhat careful — they can speak to animals. So they may have sentries that we wouldn't ordinarily notice.

Rynn isn't really too sure on what to do next. He's very open to ideas of burning or stealing the red leaf supply. He's also open to trying to take them by surprise during the night; possibly knocking them out instead of killing them. If we managed to do it quietly enough, we might even be able to sneak onto the ship at the changing of the guard. We'll have to be careful of the ship though; even a single gnome climbing the ladder made it rock.

Alternatively, Rynn would be willing to go up to their camp (by night or day) posing as a wandering ranger (by no means far from the truth) who had heard this was an excellent campsite. Try to find out what their up to with the rest of the group ready to attack on signal if things turn ugly.

Or we could wait for daylight, spy on their camp for a while and maybe capture the human if he leaves next.

Any other ideas? Anyone have a suggestion? Pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together, but I'm hesitant to jump into battle without seeing a clearer picture.

Thevarou
(Sorry I’ve been AWOL – both Sayya and I are in the last weeks of the semester, by the end of which I will have had two exams and 40 pages of papers. XD)

Khaska also picks up on how the humans haven’t been following the gnomes’ wishes to the highest degree. To suppose that a goblin attack is the best way to retrieve an artifact no one knew about is stupidly unsubtle: the attack is the reason we’re pursuing the resolution of this mystery, after all. This suggests that the gnomes do not intend violence, but merely secrecy – however, the other side of the coin is that they are willing to excuse the commission of murder in exchange for privacy, which could make them very dangerous indeed were we to reveal our existence to them somehow. Caution and stealth are advisable. In addition, we must consider the reasons they may be hiding their work – trade secrets? Illicit dealings? – and why farmers discovering it would deal them such a terrible blow.

Khaska would like more information about the potential relationship between the ruined temple and the sacred stick. Even if he didn’t know anything about the stick, perhaps the ruins share some pattern with which he’s familiar. This would give an important clue to both the purpose of the stick and the aims of the gnomes. The uncertain timeframe given for completion of the task seems to suggest that they are seeking to discover something – something with no predictable end, depending as it does on serendipity and genius.

Knowledge (religion): 15 = 9 + 6

Khaska is in favor of gathering more information before taking any sort of drastic action. Since time is of the essence, though, Rynn’s offer to approach them as a wandering ranger seems to be a good plan, but the rest of the party would need to be on alert. The gnomes and the humans they’ve contracted have no qualms about killing innocent bystanders simply to prevent knowledge of their operation from being leaked. Rynn would need to either be very cunning in his speech so as to metaphorically disarm them or convince them that he is, indeed, alone, knows nothing of the region, and has no intentions of speaking to others about their encampment. Of course, I’m certain we could find a way to eavesdrop on them.

Eryx (DM)
This is a point where I want to be really clear on what you want. As I see it several things have been proposed (not all contradictory, mind you).

1. Steal the red leaf. Use it to bribe the goblins, or just destroy it.
2. Burn the red leaf. Possibly sneak into the camp while everybody is high (if that happens), or jsut wait to see what happens when the goblins get restless.
3. Have Rynn pose as a wandering ranger to get info. (This doesn't preclude any of the options for redleaf plans.)
4. Wait around to see if more information becomes readily available. (Doesn't preclude any of the above options.)
5. Something you have just thought of, but not mentioned.

You must vote and generate a consensus. And yes, this quick post is an attempt to also aid Thev and Sayya in the throes of the semester's final weeks. (Oh, how I hated those final weeks!) If you know for sure you'll be out of commission, let me know and I will work forward as best as I can with the input I get from the other players. I'm beginning to get a good idea of your characters enough to do so, I think.

DeltaWolf

I vote we either have Rynn make contact or we spy during the night. Then go from there.

BlackWolf
I'll put in my vote for #3 in addition to spying. Rynn is hesitant to jump into violent action without a little more information — he doesn't want the group to get in over their heads, plus he's willing to give the gnomes the benefit of the doubt. I'd prefer if he approached the camp by day rather than night, but he's willing to go immediately, if the group thinks it's that important. He'll want the rest of the group to be on alert, ready for fight or flight depending on the outcome of his little visit.

Also, have we had enough exposure to this human guy to get a feel for how tough he is? I don't need a metagame answer of what level he is, but just a rough gauge of "could we take him". If not, that might be a good thing to try to figure out with some skill checks.

Crosis

I like the idea of Rynn trying to talk to them first to figure out what's up. However, because the man appears to be less friendly towards those with interest in the ruins, it might be smart for someone (Orensland volunteers) to get into a sniping position, should he approach Rynn violently. This would work better at night, but is willing to adapt to whatever others want. If the sniping idea is accepted, Orensland would probably stay in the ruins through the night, as an approach in the day would be noticed.

As for the red leaf, I'd like to douse it in oil beforehand. Even if their intentions are honest, which I highly doubt, the red leaf is causing a bit too much grief for nearby villages. This will hopefully dampen the quality of the red leaf, and make it potentially flammable should the travelers determine it is in the best interest of everybody following the encounter with the human. One flaming arrow is all it would take.

“It sounds like these gnomes aren’t exactly happy with this human,” said Rynn.

“But they do want their privacy, and he seems to be making that happen,” Khaska said. “So what do we do?”

“I still think we could use the redleaf to our advantage. Either destroy it or steal it and bribe the goblins with it to attack them!” Orensland was still keen on turning the two groups against each other.

“No!” Jenika said. Perhaps a little too loudly. She glanced up at the ruins, but they were far too distant to have been heard. Still, she leaned in closer and whispered. “Not until we have more information.”

“Well, how do you suggest we get more information? It’s not like they’re just going to come down and tell us what they’re doing up there,” Amara snapped. “I’m sending Kirza to Hammerdine. I think we’ve bit off more than we can chew. The Knights need to be alerted. These gnomes obviously have some serious resources.”

“It’s not that big of a ship,” said Orensland. “But point well taken.”

“I have an idea that might help solve all these problems,” Rynn said. “I’ll just go talk to them.”

Khaska straightened quickly, and Jenika and Amara both looked at the ranger like he was newly arrived from Arkenos. Orensland merely raised an eyebrow.

“Look,” he continued. “I’ll go up in the morning, and say I’m a ranger passing through these parts. Ask how they’re doing. What they’re up to. Things like that.”

“That’s dangerous,” Khaska said. Rynn was beginning to get used to the Maha’i's facial expressions. He was pretty sure the one currently on the cleric’s face was concern.

“Well, better than sitting around waiting for them to discover us. They’re gnomes. They may have spies around these areas. Squirrels. Foxes. Animals like that. This is the best option. If things get dangerous, I’ll high tail it back here, but be ready to help if need be.”

“I’ll go with you part way,” Orensland said. “At least have some help closer than the treeline here.”

Rynn looked at the elf, then nodded. “I was thinking of going in the morning, at first light.”

“I’ll sneak up just before daybreak, then.”

“I’m still going to send Kirza to Hammerdine,” Amara said. “Backup might be important here.”

“I think that’s wise,” said Rynn. “But it’s late. Let’s get some sleep.”


The next morning, Orensland snuck off just before the light of the sun began to peek over the horizon. Rynn gave him a half hour, then just as the sun appeared on the horizon, set off, whistling a tune to himself, an old tune from his hometown of Camden.

As he approached the top of the hill, a gnome appeared, watching him.

“Hello there!” the ranger called, raising his hand in greeting.

“Hi.” The gnome’s tone was slightly curt, but Rynn continued forward.

“Must say, didn’t expect to find an airship here in the wilderness. You guys broken down or anything?” The human appeared, but without his armor on. It was obvious he had just awoken. His hair was sticking every which way. But he had a sword drawn, though. Rynn paused. “Sorry. Just passing through, and wanted to see what was going on. Don’t mean to intrude.”

“Nathan,” the gnome said to the man, “no need for alarm.” He turned back to Rynn. “Our business is our own, but no, we do not require assistance. But what brings you out here?”

“Exploring!” Rynn beamed. It was not difficult to bluff this part. He genuinely loved exploring the world, and really had not spent much time this far into the living side of Jenoa. “I’ve lived too long in the deadlands. Wanted to see the living side of our fair moon.”

The human snorted. “Wouldn’t call our moon fair if ya lived on the death side at all. I’ve been to the edge. Took one look and came right back to Gallidus, where the sun actually shines.”

“Well, maybe I’m just overtaken by the beauty of this side.” By now Rynn was just a few feet from them. A second gnome was climbing down a rope ladder. “Haven’t been here long, but you’re right, Nathan, is it?” He flashed a smile at the human. “The death side is not fair at all. It is good to be away from there.”

“So, stranger, what’s your name,” asked the gnome.

“Rynn! Rynn Fowler!” Rynn stuck his hand out to the gnome, and the short being shook it.

“Greygook Glittersail. And this here is my brother, Greydale.” The family resemblance was immediately apparent. Greydale was walking over, and it looked like he had not slept well. He had dark circles under his bloodshot eyes, and his face had a hollow, gaunt look to it. He was carrying a book in one hand and had a knapsack slung over his shoulder with a weasel clinging to it. Greydale merely grunted before moving over to the fire. A pot was sitting suspended over it, and something smelled good. “You’re welcome to join us for breakfast, Mister Fowler. Nathan here caught a rabbit a few days ago, and we’re cooking the last of it up now.”

“Please, just Rynn. No need for formality. Civilization is far from this place. Though,” Rynn looked around at the ruins, “looks like it was here once. Wonder what this place was.”

“That’s actually why we’re here,” Greygook said, motioning for Rynn to sit. Rynn moved to sit down on one of the crates. Orensland’s description had been quite accurate, and he could tell where the red leaf was. The barrel was in plain sight atop a pile of other crates and supplies.

“We’re here to study the ruins.”

“Found anything out?”

“That they’re old,” Greydale snarled, moving away to where he could sit atop a crate.

Rynn raised an eyebrow, but turned back to Nathan. “So, Nathan. Are you a hunter then? Catching rabbits and the like?”

Nathan was laying his sword down in his tent. “Just been setting traps around. Haven’t really caught much.”

“Ah. You have to set them in the right place. Trails. Places like that. Hard to know where to set them if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’d be happy to take a look for you, if you like.”

“You have experience with trapping?” the human asked. Greygook was using a wooden ladle to serve some of the stew into a bowl. Greydale was sitting off to the side, writing in the book while occasionally eating a bite of the stew. The weasel sat by his side, curled up with head resting on one of the gnome’s legs.

“Some. Hunting mostly. I’m a ranger,” Rynn responded, taking the bowl from Greygook.

At that comment, though, Greygook looked surprised. “A ranger, and one who has traveled the death side?” He and Greydale exchanged looks momentarily. Rynn didn’t miss the gnomes’ actions. Greydale shrugged, then got up and trudged into the temple with his book and knapsack. The weasel followed him

“Well, it’s dangerous. Just like this place is old. Shouldn’t go without a guide of some sort. I’ll say that much.” Rynn looked down and realized he had finished the entire bowl. “That,” he pointed at the cleaned out bowl, “was good stew. Thank you!”

“The trick is the spices,” Greygook said, taking the bowl back. “So, tell us more about your adventures on the death side.”

While Nathan ate, Rynn and Greygook talked back and forth. Greydale had long since vanished into the big building. Now that he was closer, Rynn could more easily evaluate it, but still had no idea what it was. Orensland had mentioned he thought it was a temple, but Rynn genuinely had no idea. As they spoke, Nathan disappeared into his tent, then came out with his armor, which he began to put on. “Will you be coming with me to look at the traps, Rynn?”

Rynn looked at Nathan, and laughed. “Well, you won’t need your armor, I guarantee it! Not for rabbits and other critters. But of course, I would be happy to help.”

Nathan smiled. “Excellent. Could use a ranger’s expertise in this matter. And I find it best to be prepared.” However, Rynn noticed that something was off. His smile held no warmth. The man was up to something. Nathan sheathed his sword and also grabbed his shield. “Shall we?”

Eryx (DM)

Rynn, will you go with Nathan? I rolled a Sense Motive check and you definitely think he’s up to something.

As for the rest of you, sorry, but this portion of the story simply is Rynn’s call. However, if he wanders off with Nathan, you would be able to see that from your vantage points and could try to follow at a distance. Or not at a distance, I guess. Really, once BlackWolf posts, I think I'll just be able to move things forward. The next post will probably mostly focus on Rynn as well, at least for the first portion. Unless you all want to come charging in, I guess. That could be interesting.

Khaska, regarding your Knowledge (Religion) roll, from what you can tell this "temple" corresponds to no religion or worship pattern that you are aware of. You will need to get closer to examine it more than cursorily like you have from this distance now that the sun is up.

BlackWolf
"Certainly!" Rynn will reply. Then he'll start walking down the hill towards his hidden companions while saying, "Just over here near the treeline I saw some evidence of rabbits. Come, I'll show you how to set a trap! Then we'll see about yours. Come along!" (See what I did there? Ha!)

There's a good chance that Nathan won't want to go that way and may protest that his traps aren't in that direction. But Rynn will turn a deaf hear should that happen and keep walking. He should be able to outpace the armor-laden man.

I'm hoping that the party will be watching and will see us coming. Once Rynn reaches his allies and is well into the treeline, he'll turn on Nathan. "Nathan, you are a murderer. And it's time to pay for your crimes."

Unfortunately, Orensland is hiding up near the ruins, so he may not be able to get down to help us take on Nathan — I'm expecting him to turn violent. But 4 vs. 1 isn't bad odds, right?

Rynn is hoping to capture Nathan and tie him up, then go speak with the gnomes again to tell them frankly what's going on. But I'm getting ahead of myself… let's see what happens next.

“Certainly!” Rynn stood up, donning his pack and slinging his bow and quiver over his shoulder. He pointed towards the treeline, where the rest of the party would be hiding. “Just over here near the treeline I saw some evidence of rabbits. Come, I’ll show you how to set a trap! Then we’ll see to yours. Come along!” The ranger waved his hand for Nathan to come, and then strode off quickly. Nathan followed, his full metal plate clanking.

Rynn looked for his friends, but they had done a good job of hiding. He just hoped the reason he couldn’t see them was that they were not around, but that seemed unlikely.

Once they hit the treeline Rynn continued to glance around and eventually he was able to see where Khaska and Amara were. The Maha’i’s horns helped mark him in the bushes, and Amara wasn’t exactly wearing camouflage, but they were still well hidden, and Nathan seemed not to notice. Rynn assumed Jenika was nearby, and figured now was as good a time as any. Orensland had probably not followed, the sun up enough that it would have been very difficult to follow.

He was a number of yards ahead, having pushed through the brush quickly. He dropped his pack, drew an arrow, and nocked it all in one motion, turning to face Nathan as the man pushed through a bush.

“Nathan, you are a murderer. And it’s time to pay for your crimes!”

Nathan stopped, and smiled. “Well now. You gonna try to take me out?” He drew his sword. “Guess we both came here for the same reason. And it wasn’t rabbits.”

“No, but it was about traps.” Rynn smiled.

Nathan glanced around as Khaska stepped out of the bushes. Jenika also emerged.

Nathan smiled. “Then let’s have at it!” He charged right at Rynn.

Eryx (DM)
You are now in combat! Congratulations? Roll initiative and give me three rounds of action. Nathan is wearing full plate, has his shield, and is wielding a longsword.

BlackWolf
Initiative: 13 (rolled 11 + 2)

If possible, Rynn will try to get off a pair of arrows in his first round using his Rapid Shot feat. Then he'll Quick Draw his longsword and help flank (arrows won't be terribly useful fired into melee after all). If the rapid shot is not possible, just convert it into longsword please.

  • Rapid shot 1 to hit: 15 (rolled 14 + 1 BAB + 2 DEX - 2 penalty). Damage: 2
  • Rapid shot 2 to hit: 15 (rolled 14 + 1 BAB + 2 DEX - 2 penalty). Damage: 7
  • Longsword to hit: 14 (rolled 11 + 1 BAB + 2 STR). Damage: 7 (rolled 5 + 2 STR).
  • Longsword to hit: 22 (crit! rolled 19 + 1 BAB + 2 STR). Damage: 18 (rolled 8 + 8 + 2 STR).

Yay! A crit for maximum possible damage! He's well armored, so that may be my only hit… let's hope he doesn't take me out before that blow can land.

DeltaWolf
Initiative 12 (rolled 11+1)

In his older post BlackWolf stated that he would like to capture this guy, if he was able to communicate that then Jenika would try to Graple (due to the complexity it may be better for the DM to do the rolls)

If she doesn't know that we are supposed to capture him then she will, using lethal attacks, thus:

Move and attack:
*To hit: 8 (Rolled 5 +3) *Damage: 4 (Rolled 2+2)
Flurry of Blows:
*To hit: 6 (Rolled 4+2) *Damage: 5 (Rolled 3+2)
*To hit: 20 (Rolled 18+2) *Damage: 4 (Rolled 2+2)
Flurry of Blows:
*To hit: 8 (Rolled 6+2) *Damage: 9 (Rolled 7+2)
*To hit: 4 (Rolled 2+2) *Damage: 17 (Rolled 15+2)

Thevarou
Khaska didn’t expect to be going into combat right now – he would have much preferred to have taken more time to gather information. Given that, he listened in disbelief when he picked up Rynn’s voice growing closer and his disbelief turned to consternation when Rynn offered his challenge. This wasn’t part of the plan, and Khaska fears it’ll turn out for the worse. That said, he’ll enter combat with his scimitar, only trying to disable Nathan.

Initiative: 4

  • To hit: 12 = 11 + 1 Damage: 7 = 6 + 1
  • To hit: 15 = 14 + 1 Damage: 3 = 2 + 1
  • To hit: 20 = 19 + 1 Damage: 10 = 2 x (4 + 1)

Crosis
Seeing as Orensland is nowhere near the battle and cannot run to join in without exposing himself to the gnomes, I think he'd like to spend about 5-10 minutes looking around the ruins. He might find something useful- an altar, the sacred stick, etc., that could lead to a better understanding or greater leverage. Maybe even treasure, who knows? But he figures he needs to be in position just in case Rynn comes back and the gnomes get hostile as well. I doubt they'd welcome him back with open arms without Nathan, unless he manages to come up with some clever story for why Nathan is falling behind. Something like, "Nathan is hurt! Do you have any medical supplies?"

Many things happened almost at once. Rynn snapped his hands up and aimed at Nathan, firing in rapid sequence. His two arrows bounced off of the man’s full plate armor, but Amara stepped from her hiding place, hands raised, and blasted Nathan with Burning Hands. The man deftly stepped out of the way, only slightly singed, and then closed with Rynn. Khaska and Jenika arrived at almost the same time, and battle was joined!

Rynn noticed, with dismay, that despite all the additional options, Nathan seemed quite focused on him. The ranger dropped his bow and drew his sword, parrying Nathan’s first attack. With Jenika and Khaska in the melee, Nathan was easily flanked, but the man was content to let his armor take the brunt of their attacks. Rynn slashed at him, but the blow simply grated on the armor and didn’t penetrate. Jenika’s attacks didn’t connect, and Nathan blocked the Maha’i’s scimitar with his shield. The four of them exchanged blows as a Ray of Frost hit Nathan from Amara’s position. He whirled to face her, trying to keep the three others between him and the sorceress. Rynn, Khaska, and Jenika all continued to press the human, but his armor was simply too much to get past. Luckily, however, Nathan’s second attack at Rynn also swung wide as the human jockeyed for position to avoid being flanked. Amara hit him again with another Ray of Frost, yet despite being hit with three spells, Nathan was clearly unfazed.

Rynn was beginning to get worried. True, Nathan hadn’t landed any blows yet, but neither had any of them. The man swung at Khaska. “Didn’t expect to see one of you rutspawn here!” But he overextended his reach, and Rynn stabbed forward, managing to find a spot just under the arm where his sword penetrated. Khaska blocked Nathan’s blow with his shield, and stepped forward, swinging his scimitar down at the man’s face. The blow connected right under the chin, and Nathan’s eyes rolled up into his head. With a clatter of armor, the human collapsed to the forest floor.

Rynn took a deep breath. Khaska looked shaken, and the cleric turned on the ranger. “That wasn’t part of the plan. You should have …”

Rynn cut him off. “He came here to kill me. I thought it best to have friends around when he made his move. Sorry. I was improvising.” He glanced down at Jenika leaning over Nathan’s prone form. “Is he dead?”

“No, he’s not,” the monk said.

“We should stabilize him and tie him up,” Rynn said.

“Why?” asked Amara. She was looking rather happy, pleased that her magic had come to her aid in new ways.

“No need for killing if we don’t have to. But I think we should go talk to the gnomes now,” said Rynn. “Get to the bottom of this.”

Khaska reached down to heal Nathan, and a very small spark of white light moved from the cleric’s hands to the human’s body. Nathan’s labored breathing grew more regular, but he did not awaken. Khaska stood up.

“By the way,” he said, “what does ‘rutspawn’ mean?”


Orensland watched as Rynn and the human walked down through the ruins towards the others. It would be far too difficult to try and follow them. Surely either this human or the gnomes would notice him, and Rynn’s pace wouldn’t really allow for sneakiness anyway. However … Orensland smiled, and began creeping closer to the camp and the large building. He wanted a good look in the daylight, and with the armored man away, this seemed as good a time as any.

He managed to get inside the towering building without being seen. One of the gnomes was sitting on the altar, several books and parchments spread out in front of him, a quill in hand, making notes in a small leather-bound book. The gnome was facing the large stone circle, away from Orensland, so the rogue was able to sneak closer. As he got closer he saw the weasel was moving around the base of the stone circle, examining what looked to be the legs of a statue that had long since crumbled. The remains of the statue were lying on its back behind the stone circle, and the area where the top had shattered off of the legs was smooth. This was not a recent event. He didn’t want to risk getting closer to look at the shattered statue to try to identify it, so instead turned his attention to the altar and the stone circle.

The altar was made of the same material that the building and the statue itself was made of, a kind of sandy-looking marble, he expected, but he was no expert on rocks. Most of the ruins looked to have been made out of bricks of this marble. The altar looked like it had been subject to wear and tear, much like the statue had. The roof had holes in it here and there, and he imagined that rain frequently blew into the building.

However, the stone circle, more of a tall ellipse, really, was clearly of a different material. It was dark gray, almost black, and there were several symbols carved into it, one at the top, and several down the sides. It showed no signs of weather damage, unlike the rest of the ruins. After satisfying himself that the gnome hadn’t seen him, and that there was nothing more to see, he quietly crept back to where he could see where Nathan and Rynn had gone, as well as keep an eye on the gnomes’ camp.

Eryx (DM)
I talked to Sayya over IM, so don't worry, I didn't just barge ahead without her input.

Rynn, Khaska, Amara, and Jenika each get 450 XP. That was basically a boss fight, and, well, you handled him! (Doing 29 damage in one round helped.) He’s stable, but not awake.

I rolled a Knowledge check for Orensland, and he is unable to identify the markings on the stone circle. He’s sure he was not spotted by the gnome.

What do you all want to do now?

BlackWolf
Rynn's first order of business will be to remove Nathan's equipment (armor, weapons, etc. — especially anything sharp) and bind the human using rope from Rynn's pack. Ideally he'd like to take the man back to the farmer village to be tried. But if Nathan makes things difficult, Rynn wouldn't have any qualms about killing him — in Rynn's mind the man is a murderer worthy of such punishment.

Since Orensland isn't around, I guess it's up to Rynn to make a Use Rope check. But the rest of you may be able to lend an "assist" with your own rolls.

  • Use Rope: 19 (rolled 16 + 3 skill — whew, that's not a bad roll)

While doing all this, Rynn will apologize again to his allies for putting them in danger, then tell them what he learned from his visit to the gnomes. "I'm not sure how much they know about what exactly Nathan has done under their payment. They only seem interested in the ruins. They don't seem malicious — certainly they were friendly enough — but they are partially responsible. I think we should tell them what's been going on."

Rynn wants to return to the gnomes and tell them exactly what's been going on. If the group agrees to this plan of action, Rynn would go up first and have them follow a few minutes behind (give Rynn a chance to explain so it doesn't seem like an attack). They should bring Nathan along, of course.

On reaching the gnomes, he'd say, "I have to apologize; I haven't been entirely honest with you. I didn't come here exploring. I came here tracking Nathan. Through manipulating the goblin tribes, Nathan is responsible for many deaths." (Rynn counts the farmers, goblins, bandits, and outpost guards all toward this bodycount.) Next he'll tell them of his allies below, and how Nathan was trying to kill him. "I'm afraid your money has been ill spent. Rather than maintain your secrecy, Nathan's actions have revealed your location. The farmers and their lords already know you're here." He'll answer their questions and tell them about all that happened since the outpost.

Eryx (DM)
In stripping Nathan of his gear, you would find the following items:
1. Full plate armor.
2. His heavy steel shield.
3. His longsword.
4. One non-descript ring.
5. One ring with a symbol of some sort on it.
6. An amulet around his neck.

Crosis
Well, Orensland is basically in the same boat as before. Get into defensive position, crossbow at the ready, should the gnomes try something. Not that it would be smart of them, as their manpower was just taken down. But staying hidden would be wise, as the concept of eavesdropping rarely appeals to secretive people. All the diplomacy would be left to Rynn. If the travelers come to peaceful terms with the gnomes, Orensland would probably sneak around and join the group from behind, making it appear that he had just been lagging. If Orensland suspects false security, or is discreetly told of suspicious activity, he'd stay hidden.

I'd like to take a look at the ring with a symbol on it. I would assume he's part of some underground criminal group. If it's even remotely close, Orensland might recognize the symbol, due to his profession.

Hopefully some of the items have magical properties, but Orensland would not be the one to know.

Thevarou
Khaska is glad to hear that Rynn was improvising to avoid a crisis instead of exacting some sort of reckless vigilante justice and, with the further information he brings about the apparent ignorance of the gnomes as to Nathan’s activities, concurs that it would be a good idea to inform the gnomes of their failure to adequately maintain secrecy. He is, however concerned about what might happen if the gnomes desire secrecy not because they are merely reclusive but rather because what they are doing is dangerous or illegal. Rynn’s plan only works if they have wholesome intentions. “If they are criminals, why should we help them conceal their activities? And what reason would they have to not arrange for our deaths, so as to cover their work? I do believe that we should exercise much caution in dealing with them.” If it is found that they are criminals, Khaska would suggest securing the airship and incapacitating them so as to surrender them to the proper authorities; if no explicit information about their activities is forthcoming, he suggests that they gather as much information as possible (the identity of the gnomes, a sample of the red leaf, the design of the skyship) so as to identify them later. For that purpose, Khaska would volunteer to covertly look over the campsite if the party goes to it.

In addition, after Nathan is secured – preferably against a tree – Khaska would inspect the armor he has left. In its present form, it would not quite fit the Maha'i (the helmet and lower legs being nearly a total loss), but he would like to carry it (and the shield) to Hammerdine to get it reshaped, if the others do not oppose it. Khaska does not enjoy wearing armor, but if they party if going to see more potentially deadly combat – and the past few incidents have left Khaska wary – he would like to be better prepared.

He will also inspect the ring and amulet to see if he recognizes either. (Should I make these knowledge and spot checks?)

Eryx (DM)
To be honest, your best bet would be to have Amara cast Detect Magic on them. They're both non-descript, except for the one with a symbol on it. Crosis, if you want to roll a Knowledge check to try to identify the marking, that would be okay. Also, it's likely you wouldn't have to go as far as Hammerdine to find a smith that could help tweak the armor for a Maha'i. Lord Yellman probably has one somewhere in the many towns he is lord over, and they're much closer.

Sayya and DeltaWolf, it's been a week. If you can't post in the next 24 hours, I'm going to continue on with the story anyway with the input I have.

Thevarou
Ah, okay. Thanks for the information about the armor - Khaska will probably have it redone at the earliest opportunity, which I had supposed would be Hammerdine. Is there any other information you would like before you post?

Since Khaska is worried about the gnomes being criminals, he figures that they might reveal their intentions if only Rynn goes to their camp. With more people they may feel threatened and might bottle up. He'd also caution Rynn to not disclose as much information as he was planning to do until they are certain the gnomes have non-malignant intentions. For instance, Khaska would have him portray himself as having come alone, but warn that he made some acquaintances along the way that were in the village and might have followed him. That way the arrival of the party doesn't raise suspicions of an ambush and could further demonstrate the carelessness of Nathan's revelation of their position. Even then, Khaska would make sure that the gnomes could not escape if they did turn out to be lawbreakers or anything worse.

Rynn had immediately busied himself with removing Nathan’s equipment, first taking care to make sure the man’s longsword was out of reach. The armor was a bit more problematic, but after much grunting, tugging, and pulling, Nathan was free of his full plate. As he began tying Nathan up, Khaska spoke.

“You just want to go talk to the gnomes? Is that wise? They probably have good reason for wanting to not be found.”

Rynn pulled a knot taunt. “I'm not sure how much they know about what exactly Nathan has done under their payment. They only seem interested in the ruins. They don't seem malicious — certainly they were friendly enough — but they are partially responsible. I think we should tell them what's been going on.”

“If they are criminals, why should we help them conceal their activities? And what reason would they have to not arrange for our deaths, so as to cover their work? I do believe that we should exercise much caution in dealing with them.”

“The seemed friendly, but that could be a ruse,” said Amara. “Elial had us all fooled, remember.”

Rynn was now working on Nathan’s legs, having made sure the man’s hands were securely trussed behind his back. It only took a few more moments, but he was pretty sure that Nathan wouldn’t be going anywhere when he awoke. He grabbed his sword from where he had rested it on the ground, stood and sheathed it. “Well, I’m going. I don’t think I’ll be in too much danger. Anybody care to join me?”

It was obvious that none of them did.

Rynn nodded. “Alright then. I’ll be back soon. Keep an eye on Nathan.” The ranger disappeared into the bushes.

On his way up, he saw Orensland poke his head out from a dilapidated wall, but Rynn waved him off surreptitiously. The elf nodded, and disappeared again. Rynn approached the gnomes camp. Greydale was standing up on the ship, and was clearly concentrating—holding his hands out. A moment later a large chest lifted up from the deck of the ship and levitated down to the ground. Greygook was on the ground, and next to him was another gnome. This new gnome was wearing a black vest laced with gold trim and had a set of pipes hanging down around his neck.

Greygook and the new gnome stood, Greydale smiled, and moved to come down, his weasel clambering onto his shirt as he began climbing down the ladder.

“My friends,” said Rynn, “I have to apologize; I haven’t be entirely honest with you.”

“We know,” said the new gnome. “I’m Greyran, Mister Fowler, and I’ve got a proposal for you and your friends. I assume you’ve killed Nathan?”

Rynn stopped dead in his tracks. “How did you know?”

“We knew there were at least two of you. The fellow here last night that tripped our wards was an elf, and you’re not. Nathan was going to try to kill you, but the fact that you’re here means you’ve probably killed him.

“He was incompetent. Getting the job done, but at any cost. His recklessness has led to you finding us. And we do value our privacy.”

“You’re right that rather than maintain your secrecy, Nathan's actions have revealed your location. The farmers and their lords already know you're here,” Rynn said.

“They know we’re here?” Greydale snarled. He stood up and began snapping at Greygook in gnomish, but Greyran shouted a single word that shut him up. Greydale folded his arms, and his weasel hissed at Greyran.

Greygook looked at Rynn. “How did they know we were here?”

Rynn relayed the events of the past few days, including the involvement of him and his friends. The goblin attack on the outpost, the attack on the farms, and the request by Lord Yellman to investigate Kirza’s findings.

Greyran’s face darkened as Rynn finished his tale. Greygook began muttering words under his breath. Rynn was decently sure there was some gnomish cursing going on.

Greyran turned back to Rynn. “Well, that means our proposal has a bit more of a sense of urgency, but this may be to our mutual advantage.

With Nathan gone, we are in need of someone else to be our go-between. To help us maintain our secrecy while my brother continues his work.” Greyran indicated Greydale. “We mean no harm to anybody, but the nature of what Greydale is doing is … delicate. We don’t want interference. Also, after our work here is done, we likely will be headed to the death side of Jenoa, and a ranger who has travelled those lands would be valuable indeed. I assure, you, we can make it worth your while. And we’ll start by simply handing over the remainder of Nathan’s fee and his equipment. We had contracted him through June.”

“You can go talk it over with your friends,” Greydale said. “Or bring them here. However you must understand one thing—our work and our discoveries are for us alone. We simply are looking for someone to do a bit of our work, so to speak, and to act as a go-between so we can maintain our privacy. On the death side of the moon, there will be many dangers. You and all your friends would be most welcome, and there would be payment.”

Eryx (DM)
I forgot to mention, Khaska cast Cure Minor Wounds on Nathan. So 1 0-level spell is gone from your daily spells, Thev.

So, the group has a decision to make. The gnomes want to hire you to take over Nathan’s job! Rynn can go talk it over with the rest of the party, and they have been invited to the camp.

DeltaWolf

Jenika does not want to help these gnomes! But if the party decides to take their offer she would go along with it to “watch their backs”. It seems to Jenika that the gnomes are not unhappy with Nathan killing as much as they are upset that he drew attention, or in other words Jenika thinks they would be fine with him hurting and murdering people if he did it quietly.
Her “vote” would be to either try to subdue the gnomes, or if that seems foolish, then to leave and inform the authorities. Even if both options may lead to a fight.

BlackWolf
Rynn will return to the group and tell them what he's found out and suggest that they come up to speak with the Gnomes themselves. There doesn't seem to be much danger in that at this point, and then everyone can directly ask the questions they want to ask.

He's mildly concerned with the Gnomes' complicity in the recent events. He'll ask them to speak with Lord Yellman so get things cleared up; besides, Nathan ought to be delivered up for trial. Much of their secrecy is already gone, so he'd also ask how they intend to resolve that problem.

As for the Gnomes' proposal, Rynn is somewhat indifferent. He doesn't much care about what exactly these Gnomes are doing, but he doesn't want to see more people getting hurt over it. He'd like it better if they were more forthcoming — he doesn't want to be completely in the dark. But on the other hand, joining their 'crew' might be a good way to surreptitiously find out more. Plus they are going to the death side of the moon, and that's always a lure for Rynn.

I'm very interested in what the rest of the group would like to do. Rynn is enjoying the camaraderie / loyalty of his new-found friends, and will stick with whatever decision the group makes.

Eryx (DM)
As far as "alerting" the authorities, I feel I need to remind you that Kirza has been sent to alert the Knights in Hammerdine. It's a few days trip, but the information has already been sent.

Thevarou
Khaska does not wish to get involved with these gnomes unless they make it clear why they desire secrecy; Khaska will not bank his reputation or life for an unknown reason. Of course, this could be a catch-22: if the gnomes are conducting criminal activities, revealing their purposes to Khaska would mean he would not only not enter their service, but reveal them to someone who would turn them in. On the other hand, if they do not reveal their purpose for whatever reason, Khaska would continue to regard them with suspicion and would not contract with them. In order to guarantee that their intentions are wholesome, Khaska would require that they say under oath that their activities are illegal neither in Lord Yellman's territory, nor their home, nor the nations out of which they are operating (or if the local laws are unjust, thus making them morally right though criminals, they must explain why). In addition, given that they can deceive even under oath (would 'Detect Motive' solve this?) Khaska would want them to communicate directly would Lord Yellman to explain themselves. If they do all this, Khaska would consider following them. If not, no guarantee can be made, and Khaska will reveal them no matter what: he would take their reticence to answer questions as a mask for ill intent.

Crosis

In full honesty, Orensland would agree with Khaska. Unless we know for sure what their true intent is, he wouldn't want to follow them to the death side. Continuing to Hammerdine would appear much more profitable, we have a rotting head to turn in for money.

Also, while they're aware an elf is in the vicinity, would the ward give away my exact location? I still don't trust them much, and staying hidden/able to fire in case of an emergency would be preferable.

Sayyadina
Sorry about the delays, all—I'm settled in Madrid now for the next month and a half or so and will be much quicker to post.

Amara definitely wants to return to Hammerdine, but she'd like to wait for Kirza's return (and any response from the Knights) before leaving. She's also not going to mention (and try to dissuade anyone else from mentioning) that not only do the villagers know something's up, but that the Knights themselves are receiving a more detailed report.

Amara's not really inclined to travel to the death side of Jenoa, at least not yet, but she's willing to help the gnomes in the meantime. She's exceptionally curious about what the gnomes are doing, especially since she suspects it involves magic of some kind, and would like to find out more. She'd propose (well out of hearing of the gnomes) that until they hear back from Hammerdine/Kirza, they (or at least she) work with the gnomes, and only tell Lord Yellman that there was a man stirring up goblins with drugs and that we had killed him and were still investigating his motivations.

Once the response from Hammerdine arrives, Amara would most likely be willing to turn them over to lord Yellman and be done with the affair, at least for the moment. But just in case the gnomes prove useful or valuable contacts in the future, she'd prefer to establish at least neutral and possibly a favorable relationship with them until we have more information. Whether she/we (depending on what the others think of her proposal) ends up genuinely helping the gnomes or just acting as a spy in the interim will depend entirely on a) what we can find out about what the gnomes are doing; and b) what the Knights have to say about the whole affair.

BlackWolf
Looks like nobody besides Rynn has any interest in going to the death side. (Probably because it sounds ominous.) Everyone seems concerned about alerting the authorities, and are suspicious of the gnomes intentions and complicity.

So it would seem that unless the gnomes are willing to tell us more, we probably won't have much else to do with them. They'd have to have a very compelling reason for us to help them maintain their secrecy. Overall, it seems like the group wants to report to Lord Yellman and then make our way to Hammerdine.

Rynn frowned. This was certainly an unexpected development. “I will go talk to my friends.”

“Take all the time you need,” said Greyran. “If they want to speak to us, I promise you that no harm will come to them. We have no need for unnecessary killing. Nathan has created enough of that.”

Greydale grabbed his backpack from where it was lying on the ground. “I’d like an answer sooner, rather than later, though.” He looked inside it quickly, then tied it shut and put it on, with his arms folded.

Rynn looked at the three of them, still not quite sure what to make of the situation. Then he turned and began to head down the hill. With the gnomes watching, he didn’t want to wave off Orensland again, but the rogue stayed hidden.

He arrived back with the others a few minutes later, and explained the situation.

Jenika was the first to speak up. “I do not want to help these gnomes. It seems they are not unhappy with Nathan for killing as much as they are for his getting them found out. I say we take Nathan with us and head back to Lord Yellman. Report what we’ve found.”

“I am inclined to agree,” said Khaska. “Though I would like to speak to them myself, before making any final decisions. But I will not bank my life or reputation on an unknown reason.”

“I would like to get a closer look at the ruins and their ship,” said Amara. “Maybe get some clue as to what they’re about. With Nathan gone, could be that working for them will help us discover that. Even if we only work for them while they’re here before they leave for the death side.”

“I’ll stay here,” said Jenika, sitting down a few feet away from the still-comatose Nathan. “Keep guard over this one. Don’t be long. And make sure Orensland is okay.”

“He is,” said Rynn. “I saw him on my way up.”

“Let us go talk to these gnomes, then,” said Khaska. “See if we might determine their intentions and designs.”

The three of them headed up the hill to the ruins. As they arrived, Rynn noticed that Nathan’s tent had been struck, and the horse loaded up.

“We took the liberty of trying to gather up all of Nathan’s things,” Greyran said. “For you, as promised. We have little use for it, but to be honest, he packs light. His armor and weapons were probably the most worthwhile thing he brought.” He smiled. “Greetings, newcomers. I’m Greyran Glittersail, and these are my brothers, Greydale, and Greygook. Have you given our proposal any thought?”

“I would like to know the nature of your venture, first,” said Khaska. “You don’t seem overly concerned with the loss of life that Nathan incurred. How do we know that working for you won’t put us in compromising situations?”

“I can assure you that my research is completely benign,” said Greydale. “If you are put in compromising situations, that will be your own fault. As it was Nathan’s. He got the job done, no doubt, but at too great a cost.”

“And what was his job?” asked Amara.

“We value our privacy. What we hope to find is very valuable and others would be most interested in it. His job was to be the one running around getting things, making sure we were left alone, things like that.”

“What kind of things?” asked Rynn.

“Things necessary for my research.”

“Such as?”

“I really don’t want to tell you right now.”

“Like the ‘sacred stick’ the goblins were sent to retrieve from the outpost?”

Greydale’s eyes narrowed. “Sacred stick?”

“Yes,” said Amara. “My familiar saw them taking something out of the well.”

“And that’s what they called it,” said Rynn. “A ‘sacred stick.’”

Greydale laughed and said something in Gnomish to his brothers. Greygook smiled, and Greyran also laughed for a moment.

“So,” said Greydale. “You have a familiar. Where is he? She?”

“He,” she said, after hesitating momentarily, “is back with Nathan.” She stepped forward, slightly in-between each of the groups, the gnomes on one side, and her friends on the other. “Alright, look. If you’re not going to be more up front with us, then we are not going to travel with you to the death side. That doesn’t mean, however, that we won’t be able to help while you’re still here.”

Greygook pulled a handkerchief out and mopped his head. The sun was climbing higher into the sky, and it was beginning to heat up atop the hill with little shade. “Sadly, the only thing we need done here is to keep the farmers away, and Nathan’s incompetence has made that all but impossible.”

“Yes,” said Rynn. “We’ll take Nathan back to the local farmers, because he needs to be dealt with. The question is, what do we tell them about why he was doing what he was doing?”

Greyran pointed over to the pile of Nathan’s items. “I think you’ll find there with Nathan’s things a substantial amount of cash. We had contracted with him through the end of June at 5 gold coins a day, which by my calculation would give you 380 gold.” He held up a small pouch. Coins jingled in it. “It’s all here.” He tossed it to Rynn, who caught it.

“So, you want us to take the money and not tell the farmers that you’re here,” said Khaska.

“Something like that,” said Greyran. “That we’ve moved on. Honestly, it won’t be long before we leave anyway. Who knows?” He looked at Greydale. “By the time they got back here, it might even be true.”

“Are you willing to swear that what you are doing is not illegal, either here, or where you are from?”

“From?” snapped Greydale. “We are gnomes. We owe no allegiance to any nation, you stupid …”

“Hey!” snapped Greyran. Greydale shut up. “We owe allegiance to none of the Jenoan nations, and, like most of our kind are sailors of the sky and winds.” He stepped forward, and brought his right hand to his heart. “But I swear to you in the name of Markus the Magnificent, that what we are doing is not illegal and is no cause for alarm.”

“Good. Then you will have no problem coming to explain the situation to Lord Yellman himself,” said Khaska.

“I agree that would be best,” said Rynn. “Avoid any unnecessary miscommunications and put the lord of these lands at ease.”

All three of the gnomes’ faces hardened. There was a long pause as the three of them glanced at each other. In turn both of the two younger brothers shook their heads. Greyran turned back as all three of them moved closer together. “I don’t think so,” the eldest brother said. “We offer you Nathan’s payment in return for your help in maintaining our privacy and a gesture of goodwill to both you and the local farmers. Remember, we wanted you to take care of Nathan. But we will not venture forth to try to explain the debacle that idiot created.”

Khaska nodded. “Then we will be on our way.”

“Take whatever of Nathan’s things you want,” said Greygook. “We aren’t going to take it with us.”

“I implore you,” said Greyran. “Please. Do not fault us for Nathan’s actions. We only wanted to be left alone.” He was looking at Amara. She nodded.

“And to get this ‘sacred stick,” Rynn reminded. “Many died so that the goblins could retrieve it.”

“Those deaths,” Greyran said, pointing a finger at the ranger, “was Nathan’s doing. All we wanted was the stick.”

“Now, if that’s all,” said Greydale, “I must continue my work as I am now severely pressed for time. Please leave.” His tone brokered no argument, and though Greyran looked disappointed, it was obvious he thought their conversation wasn’t serving any more purpose. Greygook’s face was mostly unreadable, but for sure he wasn’t pleased.

Amara went to Nathan’s horse and grabbed the reigns. Khaska asked what she was doing. “Did you want to carry Nathan and all his gear back to the farmers?” Khaska paused, then looked at the ground. Then he moved off. “I didn’t think so.”

Rynn took one last glance at the gnomes. Greyran and Greygook were watching the party leave. Greydale had already disappeared into the large building.

Orensland poked his head out as the party passed. Khaska jumped back. “You startled me.”

“Well?”

“We’re leaving,” said Rynn. Orensland came out and joined them as they walked down the hill.

Eryx (DM)
Alright, the gnomes clearly weren’t forthcoming with their ultimate objective, but I had Thev roll a Sense Motive (which I totally forgot in the moment that was supposed to be rolled by me, but oh well) and he got a 23 (natural 20 ftw!). He is pretty sure that Greyran was serious when he swore his oath.

If there’s anything else you want to do, say so, but based on your previous posts it seems that you wanted to go there, report, and wait for the representative from the Knights to arrive. So, the questions I would like you to answer and points I would like to make:

1. What will you tell Lord Yellman about the gnomes?

2. Lord Yellman is the lord of several towns, hamlets, etc. You should be able to buy most anything you would be interested in and that, at this stage, could afford. I might change my mind if you come up with something I don’t think would be around, but I doubt you can afford anything they wouldn’t have anyway.

3. The pouch Greyran gave you contains 380 gold.

4. I want each of you to roll a wisdom check.

5. Crosis, did you still want to roll a Knowledge check on the ring?

6. Amara, will you be casting Detect Magic on any of Nathan’s items? If so, if you want to roll Spellcraft checks to determine if you can detect the school involved (if there are any magic items-Hint: there are), I’ll allow you to roll as many times as you want to cast the spell.

BlackWolf
Rynn is a little disappointed (though not surprised) that they weren't able to get more info from the gnomes. Ever the optimist, he hopes they can meet again in better circumstances.

When they get to Lord Yellman, Rynn will focus on telling about Nathan's involvement but doesn't see a way around telling about the gnomes. Besides, Nathan himself will likely say something about them anyway. Rynn will suggest that it would be best to leave the gnomes alone for now, at least until the Knights of the Silver Dragons arrive (should they think it warrants attention).

Rynn's wisdom check: 19 (rolled 17 + 2 WIS modifier)

Rynn will divide up Nathan's gold with the group — 76 gp for each. He'll definitely be interested in making some purchases when he gets to the towns, though I haven't decided what he'll be looking for yet. I'll post again later when I figure that out.

Also, in all this traveling, I haven't been making any survival rolls for hunting. That is Rynn's preferred way to get a meal. Just let me know, DM, when you need/want me to make those rolls. But here's one just for good measure:

Survival check: 10 (rolled 3 + 7 skill).

Sayyadina
Detect Magic reveals whatever auras there are, although I need 3
rounds to be able to make Spellcraft checks (it has a duration of 2
minutes at this level, so that should be fine). There was armor,
shield, sword, two rings, and an amulet, so here are Spellcraft checks
for each of those, plus a couple extra in case there are more than six
auras:

Spellcraft checks: 29, 15, 24, 29, 20, 26, 19, 18 (rolled 19, 5, 14, 19, 10, 16, 9, 8)
Wisdom check: 4 (3 + 1 WIS modifier)

Also a Knowledge check for good measure about any symbols/markings on the rings and amulet, their craftmanship, etc.: 20 (17 + 3 INT)

Amara doesn't mind staying with the gnomes and keeping an eye on them, but she'd rather not leave the group so she'll head back with them to the village. She wouldn't mention the gnomes to Lord Yellman, and she might try to persuade others not to, but she really doesn't much care, and would certainly explain to the Knights. Hmm, purchase-wise…..this requires thought. So the basic magical items from the DMG are fair game?

Eryx (DM)
Here is the information you glean from your Detect Magic.

Candle-faint enchantment (a reminder, you already rolled for this in chapter 2).
Full plate-faint abjuration.
Shield-faint abjuration.
Longsword-faint evocation.
Ring 1-faint abjuration. The ring is non-descript.
Ring 2-no magical properties. (This is the one with markings.) Your knowledge check makes you think that the marking is a symbol of a group that Nathan belongs to, but you are unable to identify it specifically.
Amulet-faint transmutation. There are no markings on it.

EDIT: I'm sorry, in looking at the DMG, for a Small Town the gp limit on items is 800. So you will not be able to buy anything worth more than 800 gold.

Thevarou
Khaska would tell Lord Yellman that the gnomes meant no harm to his people or his kingdom, but they were insufficiently discriminating in their choice of accomplices. While this means that they are not malicious, it also means that they might be dangerous inasmuch as they care less than they should about the loss of life their hired protectors might cause. Thus, he would suggest that, while there seems to be somewhat little reason to be concerned about the activities of the gnomes themselves, they should be monitored – if just from a distance – to make sure that they cause no more havoc with their relative recklessness. If Lord Yellman desires more information or to dispense justice, he should look toward dealing with Nathan, not the others. Khaska would also make clear to the gnomes – if he speaks with them again (which Khaska might pointedly do) – that he means no ill will toward them, but they have shown themselves, whether intentionally or not, to be disruptive and, to a degree, untrustworthy, while warning them to be more discerning in the future about their business partners lest they invoke the wrath of other leaders.

Khaska has little he would be interested in buying, but he would like to have a competent smith rework Nathan’s plate armor to fit him and sell his studded leather armor when that happens.

Wisdom Check: 21 = 18 + 3

Eryx (DM)
Thevarou's Wisdom check was high enough that he's able to recall that the previous night, Nathan called one of the brothers "Jebook." Khaska will realize this on the way back, but now you're pretty sure the gnomes were lying about their names. Well, at least one of them. If that changes what you want to tell Lord Yellman, let me know.

Thevarou
After realizing that they are lying about their identities, Khaska will find it prudent to tell Lord Yellman what he may need (the name 'Jebook' and their pseudonyms) to identify the gnomes later should troubles arise or should he feel it necessary to deal with them for their lack of respect for innocent lives.

BlackWolf
So most of the items are magic. Interesting. At the very least, that will give us more options.

Depending on what the items are, Rynn may be interested in the longsword, magic ring, or amulet. But these items will probably be better suited for others in the group. Orensland would make more use of the sword. Assuming the ring and amulet are +AC or +damage, then Kashka and Jenika would make better use of them — and it never hurts to let our sorcerer add some AC too.

So Rynn (and I) will be content to let anyone else take what they want/need (once we've figured out the items) — he prefers ranged combat anyway and will be saving up for a magic bow. But he'll accept anything that is rejected by the rest of the group. And if he doesn't take anything, he won't be reminded of Nathan later anyway — as a minimalist, Rynn puts a lot of stock in his few items even if he's not sentimental about them.

As for purchases, Rynn is going to focus on saving money for now. He may end up buying something like Bracers of Armor +1, but I'm not set on that yet. He will definitely want to buy the following though:

  • 3x potions of cure light wounds.
  • Masterwork artisan's tools.
  • 4-5 gems, ideally silver pearls worth ~100 gp each. This is mostly so he doesn't have to carry so many coins about (he packs light), but also because they remind him of his lost wife.

Rynn wants to begin fashioning a new shortbow to practice his craft. He may use it or sell it. But in any case, he'll need time to work on it. He's hoping we'll stop for a spell in Hammerdine or Lord Yellman's territory so he can make some progress. He doesn't mind working on it off and on, but he'll need a couple days to at least get a good start.

Edit: Rynn already has an armor bonus from his regular armor, so Bracers of Armor won't be useful to him. (Duh, me.) So he'll buy the items listed above, then be saving his money for other, more expensive things (most of what I want in the short term is in the 2,000 gp range).

Sayyadina
Right, stuff. I don't think there's anything in this village that Amara particularly wants to buy (silly things that cost way too much gold…XD), but she wouldn't mind finding someone to buy the headband and a wizard to properly Identify the items. If no one objects (and if the price offered for the headband here is close enough to her own appraisal of it, otherwise she'd wait until Hammerdine), she'd sell the headband, use the profit to pay for the wizard, and then split the remainder with the rest of the party. Unless that's a ring of mind shielding, which it could be but probably isn't (sigh), Amara has only a mild interest in the ring and the amulet—she'd take one just for general safety if offered, but in general she likes staying out of the way of possible sources of pain as much as possible. She'd probably vote to sell the candle and split the profit between the party for that as well. Though again, all of this can be done in Hammerdine as well, as long as there's a nice helpful man to lug the heavy stuff to the wizard for her. =P

EDIT: Another thing we might be interested in doing is collectively picking up a wand of cure light wounds. 50 charges for 750 gold? Shiny. Useful either for leaving Khaska with some combat spells or for having someone else hold so we can still heal if he's not there. If people are amenable, Amara would also take that out of the headband profit.
EDIT (again. sorry): Speaking of wands, can Amara just pay the blasted wizard to make a wand of identify instead of casting it six times? Wizards are pesky to deal with on a regular basis, and then we'll have something to identify magic items from the middle of nowhere, too.

BlackWolf
Oh, I totally agree about buying a wand of cure light wounds. We should absolutely get one. Divided evenly, that would only be 150 gp each. Or a sold item could cover the cost. One thing to be wary of though: I think only Kashka and Rynn would be the able to use the wand because they have cure light wounds on their spell lists. But still, that's better than only 1 person who can use it and gets knocked out…

Sayyadina
As I understand it you only have to have it on your list to make it, not to use it. Or at least, the number of campaigns I've been in with no healer and just a wand-happy rogue convinced me of it. Could be wrong, though.
EDIT: No, you do have to have it on class lists unless you make a Use Magic Device check, which is trained only…Orensland? XD

BlackWolf
Sayya, that's right. To make it you have to be able to cast the spell (not just on your list). You have to have the spell on your list to use it; wands use the spell trigger activation method. But you're right, Orensland could also use it, but only via the Use Magic Device skill (DC 20). So that makes 2 'natural' users, plus one more 'emergency' user.

It's kind of a pain sometimes — and we figured this rule out well into our last campaign and had to retroactively fix things. But it does make a nice balance between classes.

DeltaWolf

Wisdom Check: 7 (5+2Mod)

Jenika would be honest and forthright about Nathan and the Gnomes. She has no desire to buy anything. As for divvying up Nathan’s stuff. Jenika is happy to let everyone take what they want.

Crosis

Wisdom Check: 13

Orensland understands the want for privacy that the gnomes have, but he, like the others, is weary of their disregard to human life. Not really knowing what to do, he'd let Rynn handle it, as he has proven his honest integrity. Again, he likes the idea of completing the trip to Hammerdine over going to the dead side of Jenoa.

I most certainly want to do a check on the ring markings.

9 (6+3). Blast. If Orensland cannot identify it, maybe somebody in town could. Orensland might want to check out some of the shadier circles while he's moving through towns to identify it.

As for Nathan's stuff, he would like to keep the ring with markings. It probably has some significance underground, which could be useful later. However, he would forego flashing it in public until he has determined it's significance. Also, Orensland agrees with divvying up the gold equally. He would be interested in the other objects if they proved to, say, improve his natural dexterity-related rogue abilities. I'm afraid he's not proficient with the long sword, so he wouldn't take that.

For purchases, Orensland would like to buy an empty pouch belt, a magnifying glass, and a flask of alchemist's fire, for future pyro excursions. He'd pay with as much change as possible (don't spend the platinum- it's lighter to carry for the same value). In fact, Orensland wouldn't mind trading in spare gold for gems, much like Rynn, to make things lighter as well.

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