Codex VI-Chapter 1

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Khaska felt a bit the odd man out at the moment. Orensland and Jenika, despite their very different temperaments, fell back into their old pattern of conversation easily once they were back on the road from Hammerdine. Oddly enjoy, Sanjin and Rynn seemed to get along very well also, swapping stories of their respective time on the Death Side of Jenoa. Sanjin was no ranger, but he was very travel-savvy, and that seemed to help him get along with Rynn and Ranna. This day, in what seemed to be the typical pattern, Rynn and Sanjin led the way, with Orensland and Jenika following, and Khaska bringing up the rear. Following the route of the pilgrimages hadn’t been hard for Rynn. Moving that many people over months through a single route left enough damage in the undergrowth that, despite the trail not being fresh (Rynn estimated that it had been at least a month since any large group had passed through), Rynn was able to follow the trail almost without trying.

All of this left Khaska alone with his thoughts much of the time. And of late, his thoughts were melancholy. He wondered if it was the effect of carrying Kvanir, but he was careful to never touch the sword. No, in retrospect, it was the realization that he himself was in a story, the kind that they would sing songs about in the centuries hence. The thought was sobering, and a little unnerving. It didn’t help that as they trudged through the Martumal forest the dense canopy of trees allowed little light in. The darkness of the forest seemed to match his growing mood. Soon they would confront Kaylee, as well as this Lady Maramos, allied as she was with the Cult of Skyrnyn. Their enemies would abound. Their options might be limited.

These were the thoughts that flitted through Khaska’s mind until a sharp whistle from Rynn brought the Maha’i cleric back to the present.

The ranger was at the edge of a clearing, and Khaska approached, moving up the incline to where Rynn had stopped with Sanjin.

“Whoa,” said Orensland as he came into view.

“By the gods,” Sanjin muttered. “Such devastation. I never even saw something like this in the Deadlands!”

It was not a natural clearing. The trees that had been here were destroyed, scorched, shattered, torn from the ground, and sometimes even … melted? It looked like the clearing itself extended for several hundred yards.

Eryx (DM)
Begin Codex VI.

It is October 25th. Please pay for your monthly upkeep costs.

You have already traveled to Hammerdine and tracked the pilgrimages into the Martumal forest. (The forest just south of the crossroads between Hammerdine and Khel Zin.) You have discovered that there haven’t been any pilgrimages from Hammerdine since your incident with Therylassa. While it’s still unclear if the Peaceful Children as a whole are a fraud, the officials of Hammerdine are taking no chances. Acolytes of the group are no longer allowed to proselyte in the city. They’ve taken the hint.

Hammerdine is a Metropolis, per the rules. Anything you wanted to purchase could be found in that city. You wanted to make good time, however, so roll a d10. For any item over 2k gold in price, if you roll a 1, you could not find one before you left the city.

To describe the area that you have just discovered a bit more, you will find that it surrounds a small hill with the nearly obliterated remains of some kind of stone building. Radiating outward from that building and the hill is sheer destruction. There are bone fragments, bits of metal, destroyed trees, etc. What do you want to do to further inspect the site? Make any rolls you deem appropriate. I’m happy to offer suggestions.

DeltaWolf

Sanjin will search the remains of the stone building:

  • Search: 24 (19+5 mod)

Thev
Khaska will join Sanjin in searching the building, but will also try to rack his brain to determine what might have happened here:

  • Search: 12 = 8 + 4
  • Knowledge (Religion): 16 = 4 + 12
  • Spot = 12 = 7 + 5

Is there anything else that might help Khaska understand what's going on?

Crosis
In Hammerdine, Orensland would likely have sought out some Gloves of Dexterity. He can really only afford the lowest level. I rolled a 10 on my d10, so… fortunately, he found them. That'll be 4,000gp. And how do I do the monthly upkeep thing again?

As for the situation at hand, he would probably join Khaska and Sanjin in looking through the building. Orensland would likely do some shadow dancing in case any particularly unfriendly beings pop into view. He'll also be on the lookout for traps.

So:

  • Search: 24 = 9 + 15
  • Spot: 12 = 5 + 7
  • Hide: 44 = 20 + 24
  • Move Silently: 44 = 20 + 24

I swear, I did not tweak those last two numbers. But, yes, if there IS something around that might want to bite my head off, it will not see me.

BlackWolf
Given that we’ve been traveling by airship and whatnot, I figure Rynn would be “springing” for the “Poor” upkeep option: 12 gp. (Crosis: see General Campaign Rules page for the upkeep list). The ranger was also in the market for Gloves of Dexterity +2, and since I rolled a 9 I guess Rynn and Orensland had a good shopping trip together or something.

Based on the dates provided by our GM, it looks like it’s been about a month, so I’ve also made 4 crafting rolls. Rynn’s masterwork longbow is getting much closer to completion — two or three more weeks of solid work should finish it off. Hopefully by then we'll have earned enough money to pay for it to be made magical…

But for now, Rynn is mostly just happy to be exploring the wilderness again. As they hit this abnormal clearing, his first instinct will be to look for any tracks within or around the area that might give some clues. He’s especially curious as to whether the pilgrimages passed this point or if they stopped here (to be obliterated)?

  • Survival (tracking): 30 (rolled 17 + 13 bonus)

He’ll also help with a regular search and keeping an eye and ear out:

  • Search: 18 (rolled 12 + 6 bonus)
  • Spot: 23 (rolled 16 + 7 bonus)
  • Listen: 18 (rolled 11 + 7 bonus)

And finally, he’ll get Ranna involved too, using “seek” to sniff out anything alive or animate.

“We should probably, um, be careful,” said Sanjin. “I’d suggest sending in …” he glanced around, “the shadowdancer.”

Orensland was nowhere to be seen.

“Where did he go?”

“I’m still here,” the disembodied voice of Orensland came from right where he had been standing. “In case some unfriendly being pops out, I thought it best to remain hidden. I’ll be on the lookout for traps.”

Rynn looked around one last time. There didn’t appear to be any life in the clearing, unfriendly or otherwise. “I’m going to scout around the edges. We know that the pilgrimages came here. I’ll find out if they also left.”

“If they died here, that would be a sad ending for more deluded people,” Khaska intoned. “The officials at Hammerdine said it was unclear of all of the Peaceful Children were allied with followers of Nerull, but I’m beginning to think that nothing good will ever come of these pilgrimages.”

Whatever happened had been so thorough that there really was little to discover. It wasn’t even entirely clear what had been there before it had been destroyed. A settlement of some kind, likely. There were the occasional pieces of wood, clearly parts that had merely remained unconsumed by fire, and melted metal that would indicate weapons or tools or something like that. Since it was all completely melted, it was unclear what they had originally been.

The destruction radiated out from a hill in the center of the clearing, and atop the hill some kind of stone building lay in ruins. It had been crushed, pushed aside by something incredibly strong, only one wall mostly left standing.

Khaska gingerly picked his way among the rubble, having to be careful. He noticed that the stones were all very smooth, the jagged edges where they had split apart worn down by something, as if they had been subjected to the wear of centuries of wind and rain. They were also blackened and scorched, as if they had been engulfed in a searing flame. The standing wall, which looked rather rickety to the Maha’i, was partially worn through at the center, as if the stone had actually melted down right there, leaving the wall an odd formation, teetering, yet full height, then melted partway, and then the full height continuing back until it broke off near what had been a corner.

He rounded the wall to look at the interior of the building more closely. Jenika followed behind, more sure-footed than he on the rocks radiating out from the point of impact. It was once he was “inside” that he found the statue. Standing up, almost completely untouched by whatever had destroyed this place, was a tall metal statue of a skeletal figure holding out a stick. The broken blade of a scythe made out of the same metal was on the ground by the altar. Khaska had almost half-expected this.

“I think this was a temple to Nerull,” he said. With this in mind he began to re-examine the building they were in. The statue of the dark God was atop a stone altar, and though there was much rubble in the way from the collapsed roof, Khaska could glimpse a carved channel in the floor where blood would have flowed down from the altar. To the cleric, that indicated that this was a well-used sacrificial altar. Such arrangements would only be needed for mass sacrifices.

Rynn was approaching as Khaska finished his inspection. The ranger whistled. “I think this building got the worst of it.”

“You find anything out near the edges?” asked Sanjin.

“The pilgrimages led here, and left here. However, the route away looks more overgrown than the route here. My guess is the most recent pilgrimage came here, and then was obliterated by whatever did all of this. It doesn’t look to me like anybody made it out alive.”

“Why did they not destroy the statue completely?” came Orensland’s disembodied voice. Everybody but Jenika started. The shadowdancer had made no noise and had not been seen since he had started hiding in plain sight some minutes ago.

“Whatever did this is long gone, Orensland,” Sanjin said. “It’s a nice trick you have there, but unnecessary, I would think. Plus, it’s unnerving.”

Jenika smirked. She hadn’t been trying to keep tabs on the shadowdancer, but hadn’t forgotten that he was lurking about. The monk was the only one who hadn’t reacted to his words. Orensland appeared a few feet away, but the remains of what looked like a column (probably the entrance to the shrine, Khaska mused), looking downtrodden. “Fine. So … why didn’t they destroy the entire statue?”

Khaska said the thought the moment it sprang to mind. “It’s an insult to Nerull and his followers! To leave the statue exposed to the air, atop an altar, but not defiled or destroyed would be the ultimate insult to Nerull. He’s on an altar, but not sacrificed. Exposed to the light of the sun, not shrouded in darkness. The God of Death is left alive, but impotent, his scythe destroyed, looking over what used to be a temple to him.”

Sanjin exhaled sharply. “A deep insult.” He smiled. “I almost want to buy them a drink.” Then his smile vanished, and his lips pursed. “Who would have the courage to do such a thing to Nerull?”

Everybody looked at each other. “Well, we know it was something strong, because it literally knocked this building over,” said Sanjin.

“But look at the rubble,” said Khaska. “Most of the rocks are smooth, as if weathered by time, yet also scorched, as if burned by fire.”

“There is something odd about the trees just at the edge of this destroyed clearing,” said Rynn. “They are all actually dead, but not burned or destroyed or whatever happened in the middle. It’s as if someone started a huge forest fire, surrounding what I guess was a settlement, or at least a small village, but it burned itself out very quickly.”

“Or it was deliberately contained in a specific area, and then it burned itself out,” said Sanjin.

“Are there any tracks in the area itself? Did you find any, Rynn?” Jenika asked, staring once again at the metal statue of Nerull.

“None. I would bet that this happened at least a month or two ago, based on the plants beginning to grow among the ruins. If whatever did this left any tracks, they have long been erased during the natural course of events with rain and wind and new plants, things like that,” the ranger said. “Even if one or two people survived, there would be no way of tracking them this late.”

“So let me get this straight,” said Sanjin, holding his hands up. “The Peaceful Children pilgrimage comes here, where there is a shrine to Nerull. Then something comes and obliterates them all, using probably some kind of magic, among other things, but leaving the statue unharmed and replacing it on the altar.”

“Wouldn’t the statue have been here in the shrine?” asked Jenika. “Did they remove it before destroying it?”

“I guess they would have had to,” said Khaska. “The statue would have overlooked the sacrificial altar.”

“So they come here,” revised Sanjin, “take the statue. Destroy everything, and then replace it in this insulting way. Wow. These people must have hated Nerull a lot.”

“But recall,” said Rynn, “I said that nobody made it out alive. Not even the pilgrims, who were the victims of Nerull’s followers. Whoever did this didn’t want to leave any witnesses. They did not.”

Eryx (DM)
One thing I forgot with the last post is that, now that it is a new Codex, I would like you all to do one piece of world-building. Please do so this time as part of your post.

You’ve discovered about all that you can just by looking around. If you’d like to make some wisdom or knowledge checks or other related rolls of that nature, you could do that as well as just openly speculate yourselves here in the gray box (which seems to have fixed itself; maybe it was just glitching last time).

I’ve tried to have Sanjin explain the likely timeline, but to be clear:
1. There was a shrine to Nerull, surrounded by what was likely a small village.
2. The pilgrimages came here and then typically left.
3. The most recent pilgrimage came here, but did not leave.
4. Somebody/something/somebodies/somethings came, removed the statue of Nerull from the shrine, obliterated everything to the point where even former metal objects are no longer identifiable as anything other than former metal objects. Everybody who was here was likely killed.
5. Yet the damage is contained in a specific area. The trees immediately around the destroyed area are dead, but whatever fires burned as part of the destruction did not leave the affected area.
6. The attackers replaced the statue of Nerull on the altar in a way that is incredibly blasphemous and insulting to the God of Death.
7. Aside from the destruction itself, they appear to have left no traces of their coming and going. At least, none that now remain.
What do you all want to do?

Thev
Hmmm. Apparently there's not much more we can learn by sticking around. Khaska will do a couple more knowledge checks, for what it's worth, to see whether the newly-uncovered information rings any bells for him:

  • Knowledge (Religion): 28 = 16 + 12
  • Knowledge (History): 20 = 14 + 6

If racking his brain turns up nothing, he would suggest that they mark the location on a map, take detailed notes of the area, and proceed onward in their quest.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin's initial guess would be a dragon did this -one who decided to tick of Death. That seems to have a few holes in it… Sanjin will cast Detect Magic in the center of the building -maybe there is something lingering.

Crosis
Orensland would agree with Khaska. We should do our best to remember where this is and what it was like as we saw it, but there's really nothing more that can be done here. That is, unless Sanjin finds something new. Who knows, maybe we have another underground lair beneath our feet or something, which is magically hidden. I presume my last spot check didn't find anything physical of that nature. But, all things considered, they should just keep going…?

BlackWolf
Sorry everyone for dragging out to the last day. But I've been slammed with stuff going on this week (including a work conference which I'm at right now…) so I just didn't get to this sooner. Can I take an IOU on the world-building?

The idea of something being hidden is interesting, since a cult of Nerull might just hide things underground. But we did search around the area and didn't see anything like that; Rynn wouldn't stick around to search further just on a wild guess. So he agrees with the notion of continuing on our way.

The idea of a dragon is an interesting one. We know of one fire dragon which would probably be capable of doing this. But the motivation for the controlling Knight or evil dragon (assuming it got loose or something) isn't clear. But if there are any good dragons out there (as we have speculated previously), then it would be anti-Nerull and could not risk leaving any witnesses. Also it would be able to fly away from the scene, leaving no way to really track it.

Anyway, since it seems that we shall be moving on, Rynn will continue tracking. He'll be watching for the (older) pilgrimage trails as well as keeping an eye out for any other interesting tracks.

  • Survival (tracking): 15 (rolled 2 + 13 bonuses)

Also, I'm assuming that Rynn would be hunting as we go; Eryx please let me know if I need to make any rolls for that sort of thing. (With my bonuses; I'm not sure if you'd just rather gloss over that detail, let me "take 10" or whatever…)

“My initial guess would be that a dragon did this,” said Sanjin. “One that decided to tick off Nerull.”

“A dragon?” asked Khaska.

“We do know of at least one dragon capable of causing such damage,” said Rynn. “Keldarian the Red. And if he flew off, there would be no way to track it. But I haven’t found any dragon tracks.”

“Any of the dragons under the control of the Knights is capable of doing this sort of damage,” said Sanjin, “though you are right to suggest a red dragon. They are all old enough and powerful enough that it wouldn’t be difficult to destroy a small town-encampment-shrine-whatever-this-place-was. And remember, they can turn humanoid. I assume this late after the incident, any humanoid tracks would be long since erased.”

At that, Rynn nodded. “That is true.”

“A Knight would not have destroyed all of the innocent victims of Nerull,” said Khaska.

“A good dragon might not want to leave witnesses,” said Jenika.

“I don’t know why,” said Sanjin. “I mean, we all know that at least one silver dragon exists on this moon, but we have no solid evidence of any other good dragons, and I don’t know why that silver dragon would be hiding in the first place! But to slaughter innocents merely to protect its identity … nothing I know about good dragons would indicate that they would do such a thing.”

“Maybe under an extreme situation?” ventured Khaska.

Sanjin furrowed his brow, his lips forming a straight line as he grimaced. “Maybe, but I don’t know.” He paused in thought for a moment. “Maybe there is some trace of magic lingering. Let me check.”

Unfortunately, the wizard’s Detect Magic spell was unable to find anything in the former shrine to Nerull.

“Well,” Orensland shrugged, “perhaps we’d best be moving on, then.”

“We should mark this place on a map before we leave,” Khaska said.

There was a pause as they all looked at each other.

“Um, does anybody even have a map?” Orensland cautiously asked.

Nobody did. But Rynn was unperturbed.

“I’m pretty sure that I could find this place again if I needed to,” the ranger responded.

“Then let’s try to remember as best we can, and press onward,” said Orensland. “Besides,” and with that, he stared up at the statue of the death God, “it might not be a good idea to stick around. I’m not as comfortable ticking off the God of Death as a dragon might be.”


Two more weeks of travel brought them through the remainder of the Martumal forest and out into the more lightly forested area between it and the eastern coastline of Hammerdine’s control. They continued to follow the older pilgrimage trail and it led …

… right to Uptide.

Rynn came back to their camp, having scouted ahead a bit while Orensland and Sanjin were finishing off a hare that the ranger had caught for lunch.

“We should reach Uptide by nightfall,” he said.

“Anybody else think it a bit questionable that the pilgrimage trail leads right to the same city that we are to meet this Lady Maramos at?” asked Sanjin.

“And that it seems to studiously avoid any other settlements,” Rynn pointed out. “There probably aren’t many who live in the forest, but since we left it we’ve not seen so much as a farming village.”

“Ominous signs,” said Khaska. “We should be wary and cautious.”

“But we have to play our parts,” Orensland said. “We are mercenaries associated with Kaylee. Since you are all absolutely terrible at lying, I suggest that you let me do the talking.”

Eryx (DM)
With nothing else to find at the location of the shrine (whoever destroyed it was very very thorough), you have moved on and are now close to Uptide.

How would you like to proceed? Just walk into town? Scout it out more thoroughly first? Travel up and down the coast looking for another settlement to ask some questions? I would like to remind you that you do have a ring from a member of the Cult of Skyrnyn in Rynn’s possession. (We never did decide if you wanted to resize it as it was an Amara-sized ring, and only fits Rynn’s little finger. I think it just got dropped in the flow of the campaign, so I’ve no problem retconning the ring’s size if you wanted to.)

Three of you still owe me world-building. Thev is off the hook for Metchtee (Jenoan Alaska!). As far as hunting, BlackWolf, when traveling, I’ll just let you take 10, which means your “rolls” of 23 are more than sufficient to provide food for the entire group. It is November 9th, so also make whatever rolls you feel appropriate for your bowmaking project(s).

Also, I’ve finally made my decision about how to handle the Jenika/Kaylee situation in a way that allows us to remove Jenika from the party in a more fluid way, yet still allow the storyline to continue. The letters from Lady Maramos and the Cult of Skyrnyn you discovered back in Codex IV-Chapter 4 have been retconned to now read as follows:

Kaylee,
I am grateful that you have accepted my invitation. Despite the assurances of my associates in this venture, I wanted to find independent bodyguards. You and your friends came very highly recommended, and I will pay the sum of 1000 gold a month for a suitable cadre of your associates to be my bodyguards. I would prefer that you join them as well, as your reputation precedes you. As is customary for such arrangements, some of the pay will be given up front when I arrive. Our agreed upon initial price was 2000 gold, but I want to up that to 3000. Your pay will begin on November 1st and the remainder will be given you upon my safe return to Darkcrest.
My initial offering is generous, because, unfortunately, I have been delayed and will be unable to meet until later than expected. Please have your men in the small village of Uptide, on the eastern side of Gallidus, South of Laishtek, on December 5th. I may even be later than that, depending on how easy it is to find transport for someone with my particular needs, and how easy it is to travel at night as winter approaches. I have included another note which should help you once you arrive at Uptide, where you will find a cell of the Cult of Skyrnyn, and which will aid your involvement with my future work with the Cult.
Yours,
Lady Loraine Maramos

And also:

To all cell leaders of the Cult of Skyrnyn,
The bearers of this letter are to be given full admittance to all activities. They will be acting as bodyguards to Lady Loraine Maramos, of Darkcrest, who represents a faction with which we are doing serious business as we prepare for the Dark Times. Failure to comply with these instructions will result in your being stripped of your rights as cell leader and deportation to The Citadel.
Rickas Yrthraz
Supreme Wyrmhead

That will give us a bit more flexibility as there is no longer a specific expectation that a monk will be traveling with the group. It’s “preferred,” but not “expected.”

Thev
Why not just retcon the ring-sizing? Sounds reasonable to me.

Regarding Uptide, Khaska thinks it might be best to scout around the area for potential leads or other information; best not to dive in and run the risk of committing a grievous error. If we could discover one way for Rynn or Orensland to infiltrate the Cult of Skyrnyn in the local area to ascertain their doings, that would be best. Furthermore, they could create some cover story that would allow the rest of the party leeway if they, in their incapacity to tell lies, slip up at some point or another: perhaps that only Rynn/Orensland is a devotee of the Cult, and that his party, loyal and unquestioning of clients, has no knowledge of the specific content of the job at hand.

DeltaWolf

Sanjib agrees with Khaska and is willing to help however he can.

Crosis
Orensland would be fine with being one of the inside men if that's what is generally decided upon. While the party is familiar with shadow dancers in the context of a circus, I think it is safe to assume that the rest of the world still considers shadow dancers to be darker in nature. Orensland's abilities and practice may make the Cult more willing to trust him as a servant of darkness.

Orensland would also offer to help in scouting out for information. He's not terribly good in regards to local knowledge, but sneaking about is always handy. I'm not sure what kind of rolls will be required of me for all of this– Bluff?

BlackWolf
Rynn is not good at bluffing, so he's keen on Khaska's idea of a cover story where Rynn is not a cultist himself but is a close associate of "Kaylee". Besides, his distrust and anger toward the cult may not be something he'd be able to keep completely hidden. So he's happy to go first with Orensland with the pretext that they are arriving ahead of Kaylee. Our shadowdancer can lead the way in bluffing while the ranger mostly observes… waiting for the time to use his arrows to make pincushions of these cultists.

As for the ring, Rynn would have kept it around (probably in his pack) but really would never have planned to wear it himself. Mostly due to his honest nature and lack of skill in bluffing (though as he's turned a little more jaded through the campaign, he's not as open as before; perhaps he could learn to tell a passable lie). Anyway, he wouldn't have resized it to fit his own finger, but he would have given it to Orensland if asked (perhaps as part of when we told him about Amara's betrayal). If so, then perhaps Orensland would have had it resized to fit his finger.

Or maybe we don't worry about that detail just yet. Some people wear rings on their little fingers…? And maybe we don't want Orensland to have to "commit" to being a cult member yet. He "only" has +10 to Bluff. :)

As for my worldbuilding, I present: Grimjaw's Axe.

“That seems wise,” said Khaska. “Perhaps you could take Rynn’s ring with you.”

“I wasn’t going to go in the front door,” the shadowdancer said. “Well, at least at first. I thought I’d wait until night to see what was going on, and then, after scouting around, introduce myself.”

“What’s your cover story going to be?” asked Sanjin.

“I was thinking that I would say that the other bodyguards would wait outside the city until they knew where to go. As a precautionary measure.”

“If you’re not headed in to town until tonight,” said Rynn, “then I suggest we get off the beaten path. Also, it might look suspicious if we approached from the trail of the pilgrimages. Let’s find an actual road between the coastal towns and enter that way.”

“That sounds like something you’d be good at,” Sanjin said to the ranger. “I’ll wait here until you’ve further scouted the area.” With that, he took another bite of the rabbit leg he was chewing on.

Through all of this, Jenika was silent.


Orensland had been in the town for several hours, shadowdancing after the sun went down to give him a chance to see what the overall situation was. After observing several of the townsfolk, listening to their chatter, and observing what their interactions were like, the situation was … going to be interesting.

He was pretty darn sure that everybody in the entire town were members of the Cult of Skyrnyn.

Each house seemed to have a small household shrine to dragons. He saw parents and children praying to those shrines. He had seen several rings like the one he was wearing from Rynn. The entire town seemed so open about it that the logical conclusion was that they were all cultists. The local leader seemed to be a big man by the name of Brent Hodrin, an older gentleman with short white hair and dark leathery skin from years of being out in the sun.

Aside from that, though, the town wasn’t unusual. There were several docks, with a number of small fishing boats attached. It seemed that fishing was a major source of income and food. There were a few farms on the outskirts of town, and one orchard, but it mostly looked like a quiet fishing village. No more than 30 or so families, he thought, and all human near as he could tell. The party would stick out like a sore thumb, but then again, in a town this small, not sticking out wasn’t really ever an option anyway. There wasn’t even an inn or a pub. But, he had found out about all he could just by watching and observing. It was best time to make his introductions.

He walked into town from the north side, as if on the road coming down from the northern coastal towns and cities. He wasn’t sure, but it seemed reasonable that following it north would eventually land them back in Laishtek, so he had his cover story prepared.

“Greetings,” he said to a pair of women walking by with a basket of laundry, stepping into the light cast by their torch. One was startled, and dropped her side of the basket, spilling dirty clothes all over the ground. Orensland half smiled to himself. He was just walking, and not shadowdancing, but between his natural inclinations to walk quiet-like, and her complete lack of situational awareness, he had caught her unawares. “Oh, I’m so sorry, let me help you with that.” He hurried to her side and helped her pick up the laundry.

“Well, it’s a good thing that it was going to be washed in the morning,” she said. “It certainly needs it now.”

Orensland noticed that she was wearing a ring like his. He put his hand out in front of her as he put the remainder of the clothes in the basket, clearly making it visible in the torchlight.

“Ah,” she said. “An adherent to the cause.”

“Yes,” he said. “I’ve come seeking your leader.”

“That would be Master Hodrin,” the other woman said. “I’ll take you to him right now.”

“We can get this basket to wherever you were taking it,” Orensland said. “I’m in no rush. You see, I’m some weeks early.”

The location for the laundry was only a short walk from where he had first encountered the women, and after dropping it off they led him to the ramshackle hut on the beach that served as Hodrin’s house. The old man was mending a fishing net as they entered. Orensland’s escort bowed politely, and left, closing the door behind her.

“What can I do for you, Mister Orensland,” the old fisherman asked. Though the air was slightly cool, he was not wearing a shirt, and the shadowdancer could see his well-muscled body glistening by candlelight. “What brings you to our little village?”

Orensland produced the documents. “I have come on assignment, and, assuming you are the cell leader here, have letters I was to give to you.” Hodrin looked them over, first the one from Lady Maramos, but when he read the one from Rickas Yrthraz his eyes got wide. He stood up.

“You will have whatever you need, my friend in the cause. But this first letter spoke of bodyguards. Are you alone?”

“I am not. My friends are waiting outside of town. Since I was a member of the cult, they thought it best that I come and make introductions first.”

“They do not trust us?”

“They are mercenaries. It’s in their nature to be wary, and they do not know much about the cause.”

“And how did you come to be an adherent to the cause, and yet work with these mercenaries.”

Orensland had prepared for this. “We all serve the cause in our own way. I tithe my earnings to an associate in Laishtek, Irina Heppler. I am not very involved in the day-to-day operations as much as others. It is one of the reasons I took this job—I could serve more than just in money.”

“A noble thought,” Hodrin said. “Bring your friends into town. We have no inn, but we can find places for you all to rest while we await Lady Maramos’ arrival. I was here when she came to Gallidus for the first time. It will be good to see her again, and I hope her work has gone well. But we can speak of that later. Go. Retrieve your companions. I will have places for you to stay when you get back.”


Eryx (DM)
For the record, Orensland’s Bluff roll was 6 (roll) + 10 (bonuses) = 16 total. (I was authorized to roll for him, and we worked out a few of the details of his scouting and his entrance into the village over text messaging.) It was sufficient for the story to be accepted, and you all now have been granted access to the village.

What will you all do when you arrive? It is November 10th. You know that Kaylee and perhaps some associates are on their way to this same village. What are your plans about her? Lady Maramos isn’t expected until December 5th, possibly later.

Thev
This is probably due to a faulty memory, but would Kaylee have the same note that the party does? If so, it seems imperative that the party intercept her before she arrives, lest the party's cover be blown. They could also start a rumor that there might be impostors coming along to preemptively frame the villagers' reaction to Kaylee in case she makes it to Uptide without the party's knowledge. Otherwise, it would probably be best for the party to lie low somewhat, while gaining the good graces of the townsfolk. If we can learn about Lady Maramos's work, all the better—perhaps a naturally curious member of the party could inquire. Khaska, with his race's well-known reverence for dragons (though perhaps not well-known here), would be a candidate for making inquiries about the cult's ideologies, teachings, and potential leads.

DeltaWolf
Sanjin wants to hit a library if there is one in town. He is curious what he can find out if there is any information to link dragons to what they saw at the pilgrimage shrine. Also if any information he can get on this cult they are involved with.

Eryx (DM)
Thev is right, Kaylee does have the same note that the party does. You are expecting her to show up at some point. As a note that Orensland would have easily discovered, there are really only two formal roads into the city, one from the North, and one from the South. The trail of the pilgrimages isn't a full-blown road, just a well-traveled trail (though overgrown by several months now).

DeltaWolf, there isn't a library in town. It's a very small fishing village. However, I'd take a Knowledge (Arcana) check from Sanjin (or Khaska, for that matter) on the subject, and there are dragon worshippers who abound. Perhaps you could ask some of them in a surreptitious way about your suspicions.

Thev
Khaska just rolled a 16 on Knowledge (Arcana); no modifiers.

And thanks, Eryx, for the reminder. The party needs to do something about Kaylee's duplicate note. What does everyone think: discrediting rumor or interception before arrival?

BlackWolf
The best lies are the ones that are mostly true. So I think that telling the people about how "Jenika" may turn up to try to confront "Kaylee" could be a good thing in case the real Kaylee shows up unexpectedly. But Rynn isn't great at bluff (only +3 against the cultists even with favored enemy), so he'll rely on the others to spread the tale. Still, it always helps to have a near-truth, right? Meanwhile, Rynn will happily spend large chunks of his time at the edge of town watching the roads; if we're lucky he may spot Kaylee's party coming so that we can intercept her a few miles out of town. The ranger can keep a longstrider spell prepared so he can hurry back. Unless anybody has any good messaging magic?

As for the townsfolk, Rynn will be disturbed to hear that they are all apparently involved with the cult. He remembers Irina Heppler's interrogation by Rider Lystria. Such devotion could make things difficult. So he'll try to gather what info he can on the depth of the cult. Is it something where the evil connections are only known to a select few? Or is it widespread and ingrained into their culture (perhaps they believe in "necessary evil" putting the ends of the cause before the means)? Are all the villagers evil, or are most just misguided/blinded? Here are a few checks to get started with:

Gather Info checks:

  • 22 (rolled 12 + 10 bonus)
  • 20 (rolled 10 + 10 bonus)
  • 11 (rolled 1 + 10 bonus)

In attitude, Rynn will be somewhat aloof from the villagers. Partly to play up the concept of being a mercenary; partly to avoid emotional attachment with these people he mistrusts. The ranger will be thinking forward to what happens after we deal with Kaylee. Lady Maramos is coming. Will we play the part and have her lead us to deeper corruption, or will we use our advantage to destroy her before our ruse is uncovered? And what of this cultist village? Are there a select few which must be culled, or will more extreme measures be required? (Rynn's vigilantism streak is likely to surface in this codex…)

Crosis
Guys!! I'm so sorry! It's been a crazy couple weeks. It's not over yet, but Eryx kindly reminded me that I had not posted. So here I am, I'll be better about it in the future. My bad.

Orensland would be also be gathering information, but not in the typical sense of talking to people. Orensland would try hard to live up to the reputation of a bodyguard, and that would include scouting out the town and it's people. So he'll do what he does best– sneak around and generally observe, get a feel for what is going on and well as making note of secure or insecure areas.

Hide: 29 (rolled 6 + 23 bonus)
Move Silently: 35 (rolled 12 + 23 bonus)
Gather Information 9 (rolled 6 + 3 bonus)

If any additional rolls are necessary, just let me know. Or do them for me. Whatever works best.

Orensland would refrain from theft. He'd probably grumble about needing to avoid suspicion, because… he hasn't done an elaborate heist in a while. But he won't jeopardize the party's mission.

Orensland sat the beach near Uptide, watching the sunrise. It was getting colder and colder as the sun grew more and more distant this late in the year. The roar of the crashing waves soothed his troubled mind, and he found himself out here more and more frequently. He had not slept well the night before, thinking of all that was going on.
The party had mostly laid low once welcomed into Uptide. Sanjin was bored to tears in the fishing village, and Rynn was frequently absent, scouting up north, from where they expected Kaylee and any associates to be coming from. (The villagers universally indicated that anybody coming to town would come from the North, down from Laishtek, not south, where there was no nearby major hub of travel for hundreds of miles.) Sometimes Jenika went with the ranger. It made things easier to have her absent, since they had all had to adjust to calling her “Kaylee,” laying the story to Master Hodrin that “Jenika” might be coming to confront them.

They had been in the village for a week, and Orensland thought back on what they had learned. His reflections were not happy ones.

Indeed, the entire town were members of the cult. The party wanted to be aloof from them, which was fine, because the town didn’t necessarily trust them either. Hodrin was friendly enough, but it was clear that he was deferential because of their business arrangement, not out of any personal feelings. Orensland himself was the one exception, partially because he had the ring that marked him as a member of the Cult of Skyrnyn, and partially because his personality could so easily default to “friendly,” even among enemies. Inside, however, the shadowdancer was seething.

He had been pleased that Khaska appeared to have slowly gained some trust. The cleric had inquired with Hodrin about the cult’s teachings and ideologies, and had not been rebuffed. The townsfolk were cautious about a potential new proselyte, but open to the possibility of gaining a new adherent to the cause. He was sure they were spoon-feeding him the truths about the cult, but so far it had been an interesting experience to compare what they told him with what they told Orensland, already a trusted insider.

With Khaska, the party line was always that they were saving up cash and resources and wanted to try to buy the freedom of at least a few of the dragons before the Dark Times. This was what the party had already learned about lower-level cult members—like Irina Heppler they were deluded into thinking that the cult’s purpose was solely the preservation of the dragons. Orensland, however, had presented himself as someone who already knew that level of involvement, but who wanted to know a bit more. Especially why there would be an entire town of cultists here at this location.

Hodrin had been more forthcoming with the shadowdancer than with Khaska. The Cult of Skyrnyn was also finishing the creation of a fortress on the Death Side, for the purposes of surviving the Dark Times themselves. “Does us no good to free a few dragons if we all die also. We need to look out for ourselves as well.” The thought was that a fortress on the Death Side, isolated away from anything else of strategic importance, would provide a better chance of survival for members of the cult. “Perhaps when you go with Lady Maramos, you will be going to the Citadel,” he had said. “If you are good enough at being her bodyguards, and impress her enough, she might keep you on. I don’t know what her travel plans are after you arrive back at Darkcrest.”

When pressed about what Lady Maramos’ business was here on the living side, Hodrin shrugged and changed the subject. Orensland was unable to tell if he genuinely did not know, or if he was deliberately avoiding telling. In private conversation with the others, Rynn had speculated that the slave trade they knew the cult was engaged in might have something to do with this Citadel, but Sanjin had been quick to point out that it was, indeed, just speculation.

“Hey Orensland!” came a voice. Orensland looked over to see Romi, a young girl from the town, approaching, her blonde hair whipping around her face from the ocean wind. “How are you?”

“Just enjoying the sunrise,” he said. “What brings you out here?”

“Taking a walk,” the little girl said. “Sometimes I can get away from all my chores if I leave during breakfast, before dad heads out to fish for the day and mom is busy.”

“I hated doing chores when I was your age too,” Orensland said, smiling. He wasn’t lying, but the reasons for hating his “chores” assigned by his father were probably very different. Romi’s parents seemed like good ones to her. Nothing at all like Zehvran had been to him. “My dad wasn’t very nice about it.”

“What kinds of things did you have to do?” she inquired, sitting down next to him. Her hair blew all around her face.

“Stealing, mostly,” he said. “My dad isn’t a nice guy. He made me help him.” Best to answer truthfully, he thought. Knowing his background was likely not going to make any kind of difference in the situation here in Uptide, and he didn’t want to have to keep track of any more lies. There were enough around the party’s arrival and their intentions already.

“You didn’t like to steal?”

“My dad thought that he could steal from anybody. Sometimes we stole from people that I didn’t want to. Women and children starving on the streets. Men down on their luck. I didn’t like it.”

“But sometimes you have to hurt some people for the greater good. That’s what my mom and dad say.”

“This wasn’t for any good,” Orensland chided. “It was my dad’s selfishness and greed that drove us.” A thought occurred to him. “Do your parents sometimes hurt people for the greater good? For the cause?”

“We don’t hurt people. We take care of them until the ships come to pick them up.”

“Them?”

“The big groups of unbelievers, of course!”

Orensland perked up. This was the first time anybody had mentioned the arrival of one of the pilgrimages. He and Khaska hadn’t pressed hard, not wanting to give away what additional information they already knew. “The big groups of people? Tell me about them.”

“Oh, I thought you knew about them.”

“I serve the cause a different way. I’m not sure what you all do to serve the cause here.”

“How do you serve it, then? Aren’t your friends unbelievers?”

“I’m a mercenary and a bodyguard, and I send money to help the cause as I can. My friends are the same, but I have hopes that they will join the cause. Khaska has been talking much with Master Hodrin.”

“Are you a good bodyguard?” she looked at him intently. “You seem kind of scrawny. I picture a bodyguard as, like, a big man. Maybe a barbarian! Or a dwarf! Covered in armor and with a big sword. Or maybe a mace!”

The sun was now peeking over the horizon, and it cast shadows behind him and behind Romi. Orensland saw that this could give him an opportunity to get her more on his side. Perhaps she would talk more openly.

“I have my own skills.” He looked up and down the beach, which was still empty. He knew that, with the sun up, the fishermen would soon be launching their small ships out towards the reefs, and the women would move to their gardens and orchards. There were perhaps a few moments left where he and Romi would be alone. He turned to her. “Can you keep a secret?”

Romi smiled at him. “You know we keep lots of secrets.”

He pointed behind her. “Look over there.” She turned away from him, and he blended into her shadow.

“What? I don’t seen anything, what did you … dragon’s breath! Where did you go?” She had turned back towards him, only to see that he had completely vanished. “Orensland!” Before she could start to yell for him, he dropped his shadowdancing.

“Like I said, I have other skills. But I only show them to my friends.”

She smiled. “Does that mean I’m your friend?”

“Yes it does, Romi. A friend and an adherent to the cause. Now you know how I serve. How do you all here in Uptide serve? What do you and your parents do for the cause?”

“Well, every few months, I guess, a large group of people will come to the village. We help feed them until the ships come. Usually that very day, sometimes a day or two later. The people get on the boats, and they sail away to the east. But it’s been a long time since any people have come. I think mom and dad are worried about it.”

“And they are adherents to the cause too, these groups of people?”

“No. They’re going to the Death Side to help us with the Citadel. I overheard my mom and dad talking about it once. I think that’s why they want us kids to go talk to them, to make them feel safe.”

“Because the Death Side isn’t safe?” asked Orensland, his stomach dropping.

“Because when they get to the death side, they are taken to the Citadel to help build it.”

“Even if they don’t want to?”

She shrugged. “The cause is important. The dragons must be saved, and we must survive the Dark Times. Like Mom says, those people were probably going to die when Arkenos attacks soon anyway, so we might as well use them to help us before then. Hey, have you ever seen Arkenos? I’ve lived here my whole life, so I’ve never seen it! My dad says it’s a huge moon, with volcanoes and ash clouds and no water.”

“I have seen it, but I did see some water on it. Large lakes, brown, mostly. It looked like a wasteland, as the legends say.”

“Do you think it’s full of devils and demons?”

Orensland and Romi continued to talk for a few minutes before the men emerged for the day’s fishing. Orensland let Romi run back to the village before she was missed, chiding the little girl for missing her chores. But as the young child ran back, Orensland’s heart was heavy. Such innocence, and twisted to such evil purposes. He would have to tell the others about the fates of the pilgrimages. It was worse than he suspected.

“Orensland,” Rynn called from the village. The elf looked over to see the ranger and Khaska, the Maha’i beckoning frantically. The elf’s mood went from sour to worse.

Kaylee was coming. Nothing else would have brought Rynn all the way back into the village.

Eryx (DM)
The information presented here in this post is from a combination of all the Gather Info rolls you all gave. I put it in Orensland’s experience here for simplicity’s sake in the narration.

Kaylee and several associates are coming from the north, as you suspected would happen. Rynn was able to see them coming a ways off. He was with Jenika and Sanjin, who are lying in wait for the party at the moment, just north of Uptide.

It looks like there are 4 members of Kaylee’s party, and they are all on horses. One of them is the man you saw in Laishtek, Azkabar Muldoon, who was serving as a middle-man between Kaylee and her employers. Rynn didn’t get a great look at the group, but none of them looked like they were wearing any kind of heavy armor.

What do you all want to do? You have told Master Hodrin that this might happen. Do you want to confront them on the road into town? Let them come into town first? They will probably arrive at the village in an hour.

Thev
Question: Do we assume that, say, "talking is a free action" in this instance and that Orensland has enough time to tell the others what he's learned (especially since his learning was a combination of all the party's rolls)? If so, Khaska would be intrigued by the reports of the Citadel on the Death Side and would bring up that somehow thwarting Kaylee but trailing Lady Maramos back to the Death Side could be a promising proposition.

However, as Maramos might be hearing for the first time about the end of the pilgrimages and might be coming to gather more slaves, it might be advisable to try to confront the entire party, not merely Kaylee. In that case, the party would have to come up with some explanation as to Maramos's disappearance—and the closer to the truth, the better for Khaska. Khaska is not confident that they would win, though.

Eryx (DM)
I need to correct a misperception, if I'm reading Thev's post right.

Kaylee and her associates are coming to Uptide to meet Lady Maramos. Lady Maramos is not accompanying them. She will be along around or after December 5th, as per her letter. It is currently mid-November. All you have to worry about in this next portion of the campaign is Kaylee and her associates. Lady Maramos will be a separate encounter that you can choose how to handle.

You can assume that everybody in the party knows all of the information that was given in this post. Orensland can tell them all as a free action; it's not something I was worried about adjudicating.

Thev
Sigh. I have such a terrible memory! Then yes, Khaska will advocate going out to meet Kaylee—and notifying the townspeople that such an encounter is imminent so that they will not be caught off guard by injuries, fighting, or the like.

Crosis
So… are we thinking we want to resort to violence? It seems like the better idea. Allowing them to reach the village sounds could cause some problems, and talking to them will really only have us lose the element of surprise. Plus I have no idea what we would say. So… strike while we have the advantage? Any other ideas?

Eryx, how does sneak attack work against somebody who is riding a horse? And when you say there are 4 people, do you include Kaylee? Perhaps I could strike one who looks the most troublesome first, letting Rynn/Sanjin/Khaska getting some long-range attacks in on the same person, take someone out of the fight before it even starts. Presuming we ambush, of course. Does Sanjin have any wicked cool spells that would slow down, injure, or otherwise weaken a group of people? Anywho. Just throwing out ideas. Do you want us to do any rolls, Eryx?

I also approve of warning the villagers of a potential threat. Perhaps we can convince them to set up a few archers, just in case somebody bolts from the fight on horse and rushes to the village for aid. Leave the villagers with orders to shoot first, ask questions later.

DeltaWolf

Sanjin has many wicked-cool spells such as sleet storm or summon swarm even an invisibility sphere spell. Really he can aid in any plan the party wants to implement.

BlackWolf
I also agree that we should meet Kaylee's entourage before they reach the town. No need to let them have any opportunity to speak to the cultists and present their side of things. Handle things with an ambush so we have full advantage. Given what we know about Kaylee and her group's plans re: Lady Maramos, Rynn would favor a "shoot first and ask questions later" strategy.

But it would also be possible to let one or two people stand in the road (perhaps Jenika herself) and stop the riders while the others remain hidden. Then we could assess the situation better before springing the trap. But that has it's own set of drawbacks.

Resorting to the violence of an ambush is probably the safest way, albeit cutthroat. We can try to disable rather than kill the enemy so we can get around to asking those questions…

Eryx (DM)
To answer your question, Crosis, a sneak attack on a horse would work the same as a sneak attack on any other enemy. Horses have either 19, 22, or 30 hit points, depending on which kind of horse they are. Statistically speaking, you would probably just kill any horse except for a 30 hit point warhorse.

I'd also like to point out that you can use your crossbow to sneak attack someone as long as you are within 30 feet of them. I would allow you to use this to sneak attack one of the people riding the horses. Your crossbow doesn't do quite as much damage, however. (1d8 +1) vs. (1d8 + 5)

So I need direct answers to several questions to know how to proceed.

1. Will you tell the townsfolk?

2. Will you be ambushing Kaylee and her friends? (That seems to be the consensus, I just want to be sure.) If so, what's the plan?

3. Will you be trying to keep one/all/some of them alive?

4. For DeltaWolf … does Jenika want Kaylee alive, in particular? I've been sort of playing the character since we introduced Sanjin, but I do feel this is a question I'd rather have you answer than me.

DeltaWolf
Jenika is determined that either she will kill Kaylee or Kaylee will kill her. Jenika would fight Kaylee 1:1 -the party could persuade her to not fight Kaylee alone, but ultimately it needs to be Jenika that kills her.

BlackWolf
My/Rynn's votes are:

1. Yes, since we've been warning them of it. But not a discussion; just a quick "we're going to confront Jenika. Bye."
2. Yes. Given Jenika's desire to fight Kaylee 1 on 1, Rynn would suggest that the party focus on taking out the entourage first. Maybe some area of effect spells. Hit them hard and fast.
3. Alive (though disabled), as convenient. If we kill anyone outright in the ambush, we lose the opportunity to learn anything from them. Rynn prefers not to kill in cold blood. But as a ranger, he can appreciate the need to put down evil. And he'd rather kill than let anyone get away to blab to our enemies.

Rynn has been keeping the Longstrider spell prepared (per my character sheet). I imagine he would have used it to be able to beat Kaylee back, so I figure it is probably already cast. Unfortunately, I don't have an extra spell for any Entangle goodness.

Thev
Khaska agrees with Rynn, though he would want to find a way to save as much of the ambushed group without endangering the party's future plans. Perhaps best would be to somehow imply upon attacking that Kaylee is an impostor leading them into danger; if there's sufficient power in such a suggestion, perhaps they'd join up with us instead of defending Kaylee. Could Orensland, with his over-the-top charisma, make such a suggestion? Hide among them and sow discord?

I'd also be open for suggestions for spells Khaska might have prepared in preparation for an ambush. I assume the party has most likely planned out the confrontation and decided on a couple plans of action, and that Khaska would open each day with the pre-arranged spells ready.

Crosis
Orensland does not have strong opinions about what should be done. He is willing to go tell the townsfolk, and feels they should be at least warned. I'm still hesitant about recruiting their help in the fight itself, although again, I vote they set up a few archers. After all, if one of Kaylee's party has a ring and manages to show it off, we'll be in trouble. Plus if Jenika wants to give her own little monologue about killing Kaylee, we probably don't want the townsfolk nearby to hear it.

Orensland would also offer his services in the ambush. As a friend, he may suggest killing Kaylee's horse so she's landlocked where we want her to be– she can't go far, and the showdown between her and Jenika will be all the more inevitable. But if the spells cast will ultimately have that same effect, Orensland will just kind of go along with what everyone else is doing and attack when the opportunity presents itself.


“Gentlemen,” said Sanjin, as Rynn and Orensland dropped down beside the wizard and the monk. The two had secluded themselves in a copse of trees. The road into town passed by them, a number of yards away. In the far distance, Kaylee and her associates could be seen. They were moving at a leisurely pace; they were in no hurry. This was no surprise, as they were weeks early for their meeting with Lady Maramos. A meeting, if the party had anything to say about it, that they would never make.

“So what’s the plan?” asked Orensland. He already had his crossbow out, and a wicked glint in his eyes.

“I, for one, would like to wait for our cleric to get here. Where is Khaska?” asked Sanjin. Just then the sound of Khaska’s clanking through the trees behind them reached his ears. “Ah, nevermind.”

“Plate armor,” said Rynn. “He’s here. And we’ve got plenty of time to set up.”

The group discussed their tactics and possible ways to ambush the party. Sanjin had picked a decent spot. Within shooting and magic range, but with some cover, assuming Kaylee and her party continued to follow the road. Given how they had traveled since Rynn had first spotted them a ways up the road, that seemed a safe assumption.

In the end, it was Khaska who seemed to best weave the disparate ideas together of how to proceed.

“Send Jenika out into the road, with Orensland blended into her shadow for backup. She will confront Kaylee and try to get her away from the others in the group. Once she has done so, then we can ambush them once the fight begins.”

“I have spells that can be of great use against the group.” Sanjin was beginning to mirror Orensland’s grin.

“You’re assuming that they won’t all attack Jenika the moment they see her.” Rynn replied. “I’d rather not risk that.”

“Last time we met,” Jenika said through gritted teeth, “Kaylee had friends, and yet she fought me alone. I doubt that it will be different today. She is personally invested in this fight.”

“As are you,” said Khaska. “If we are agreed on this plan, then may Teresh’s blessings be with you. Once Kaylee is separated, we will ambush her friends while you meet out justice to her for her crimes.”

Jenika cracked her knuckles.

Eryx (DM)
You are in a copse of trees and are relatively well-hidden from the approaching group. The road will pass roughly 50-60 feet from the trees. It would take you two rounds of straight movement to close with anybody for hand-to-hand combat from the trees. You alerted the townsfolk on your way, but as I was reading you, you didn't want any of them around, so you kind of told them as you hustled out of town. They've been expecting this encounter; your ruse appears to have gone off well.

Given what you all posted last time, I put together this ad hoc plan, but wanted to make sure that this was the agreed upon plan. Jenika goes out, get Kaylee away from the group (Orensland nearby for backup, and for sneak attacks if needed), and then the party ambushes her friends when they are sufficiently separated.

If this is the plan, then please roll initiative and give me 3 rounds of actions. Jenika and Kaylee’s combat will not have a surprise element. Assuming the approaching party doesn’t see you all hiding in the trees, your attack on them will have a surprise round.

DeltaWolf, for this combat, you can roll for both Jenika and for Sanjin. And give me whatever Jenika would say … this is basically going to be her sendoff from the campaign one way or the other, so I want to try to make it as satisfying as possible.

Thev, let’s talk about spells over IM or something. Basically, there are two kinds of spells I think would be useful that Khaska would have prepared. 1. Offensive spells, to injure the enemies. 2. Enhancement spells, that could be used on allies or on Khaska himself. There are several that would be of great use to Jenika should you decide to cast them on her before she comes out of the trees. If you think that Jenika would accept such help, DeltaWolf, then I think I’d recommend those as a player, but I’m open to input from the rest of the group. You all would have had ample time to discuss and prepare before Kaylee’s arrival, so I don’t mind if we discuss things futher here in the gray boxes.

DeltaWolf
Jenika
Initiative 19 (15 rolled +4)

Round 1:
Flurry of Blows (Very Leathel):

  • To hit: 23 (16 Rolled +7) * Damage: 6 (3 Rolled +3)
  • To hit: 9 (2 Rolled +7) * Damage: 10 (7 Rolled +3)

Flurry of Blows:

  • To hit: 14 (7 Rolled +7) * Damage: 10 (7 Rolled +3)
  • To hit: 12 (4 Rolled +7) * Damage: 6 (3 Rolled +3)

Round 2:
Flurry of Blows (Very Leathel):

  • To hit: 12 (5 Rolled +7) * Damage: 9 (6 Rolled +3)
  • To hit: 20 (13 Rolled +7) * Damage: 10 (7 Rolled +3)

Flurry of Blows:

  • To hit: 15 (8 Rolled +7) * Damage: 9 (6 Rolled +3)
  • To hit: 20 (13 Rolled +7) * Damage: 11 (8 Rolled +3)

Round 3:
Flurry of Blows (Very Leathel):

  • To hit: 17 (10 Rolled +7) * Damage: 5 (2 Rolled +3)
  • To hit: 15 (8 Rolled +7) * Damage: 5 (2 Rolled +3)

Flurry of Blows:

  • To hit: 8 (1 Rolled +7) * Damage: 7 (4 Rolled +3)
  • To hit: 14 (7 Rolled +7) * Damage: 4 (1 Rolled +3)

Thev
Khaska's first action will be to cast Bull's Strength, Magic Weapon, and Protection from Evil on Jenika as she moves in to attack—with her permission. He understands that while the entire group is in the fight, this is Jenika's quest, and Kaylee will likely prove the most formidable opponent of the group.

As the party moves in to attack, he will cast Bless. With this groundwork set, he will wait until Jenika confronts Kaylee and the fight begins to cast Searing Light twice at anyone who comes to Kaylee's aid, followed by a round of arrows:

Intiative: 15.

  • Searing Light
  • To hit: 16 + 5 = 21
  • Damage: 5 + 6 = 11
  • Searing Light
  • To hit: 14 + 5 = 19
  • Damage: 4 + 6 = 10
  • Shortbow
  • To hit: 12 + 6 = 18
  • Damage: 6 + 1 = 7

With those (relatively successful, wow) attacks out of the way, he hopes to distract the other members of Kaylee's group away from Jenika. This could open up avenues for Orensland to attack them from behind, and draw them into melee in the woods.

DeltaWolf
Question: How far will our group be when we attack? That information will greatly help to know which spells Sanjin will cast.

Eryx (DM)
As I stated above, the road passes 50-60 feet (10-12 squares, if we were playing tabletop) from the copse of trees that you've taken refuge in. Two rounds of movement would get you into melee/Burning Hands range. If you would all rather march out together, be my guest, but I think it would be best for you all to snipe from the cover of the trees rather than wade out to meet them in battle.

Crosis
Hey guys! Sorry about the wait. Orensland is all in for sneaking up with Jenika as backup. Note that he would recommend that Jenika move within 10 feet of the party, if possible. That will give him a chance to attach to their shadows and remain hidden for sneak attacks.

If Kaylee decides to be a jerk and bring her buddies along for her fight with Jenika, Orensland would prepare himself to sneak attack one of the more dangerous looking fighters. Otherwise, he'll just latch onto their shadows and get ready for them to be distracted by flying missiles from other members of the party before beginning his sneak attacks.

for sneaking and hiding:
Hide: 26 (3+23)
Move Silently: 37 (14+23)

If he does something and needs to hide again, here's another set of roles:
Hide: 26 (3+23)
Move Silently: 31 (8+23)

As for attacking Orensland would likely be in closer range, so would use his longsword. Here's some rolls:

Hit: 26 (19+7)
Damage: 13 (8+5)
If sneak attack, add 16

Hit: 23 (16+7)
Damage:10 (5+5)
If sneak attack, add 15

Hit: 27 (20+7)
Damage:7 (2+5)
If sneak attack, add 19

It has potential. Especially that first blow.

DeltaWolf
Due to a misunderstanding about how far away Sanjin is from the enemies I've redid the my post for him. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Sanjin
If possible Sanjin would cast Magic Armor on himself before the battle starts –if not that will be his opening move.

Initiative: 13 (11 Rolled +2)
Round Surprise:
Throw down the staff to form Nagini
Round 1:
Cast Acid Arrow

  • To Hit: 12 (7 rolled +5) * Damage: 6

Nagini moves in to attack
Round 2:
Cast Acid Arrow

  • To Hit: 10 (5 rolled +5) * Damage: 4
  • Ongoing Acid 1 Damage: 4

Nagini bites
* To Hit: 23 (10 rolled +13) * Damgage: 16
Round3: If any enemy is close
Cast Burning Hands
*Damage: 11

  • Ongoing Acid 1 Damage: 5
  • Ongoing Acid 2 Damage: 7

Nagini bites
* To Hit: 26 (13 rolled +13) * Damage: 16

BlackWolf
At the appropriate time, Rynn will use his increasing skill in archery to eliminate his foes from afar. His priority target will be anyone who tries to run.

Initiative (rolled by the DM with BlackWolf's permission): 18 (roll) + 4 (DEX) = 22 total.

Round 1: Rapid shot

  • To hit: 26 (rolled 16 + 7 base + 4 DEX + 1 mwk - 2 rapid shot), damage: 4 (rolled 2 + 2 STR)
  • To hit: 28 (rolled 18 + 7 base + 4 DEX + 1 mwk - 2 rapid shot), damage: 3 (rolled 1 + 2 STR)
  • To hit: 24 (rolled 19 + 2 base + 4 DEX + 1 mwk - 2 rapid shot), damage: 10 (rolled 8 + 2 STR)

Round 2: Rapid shot

  • To hit: 17 (rolled 7 + 10 as above), damage: 8 (rolled 6 + 2 STR)
  • To hit: 28 (rolled 18 + 10 as above), damage: 3 (rolled 1 + 2 STR)
  • To hit: 21 (rolled 16 + 5 as above), damage: 3 (rolled 1 + 2 STR)

Round 3: Rapid shot

  • To hit: 21 (rolled 11 + 10 as above), damage: 6 (rolled 4 + 2 STR)
  • To hit: 20 (rolled 10 + 10 as above), damage: 7 (rolled 5 + 2 STR)
  • To hit: 21 (rolled 16 + 5 as above), damage: 9 (rolled 7 + 2 STR)

(Looks like my dice were eager to come out of the bag and make a pretty good showing! Now if I only had a magic bow to add additional damage per hit…)

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