Friday, 26 February 2016

Das schwarze Auge solo - Part XI: „Und mit dem Schwarzen Brüderschaft / Der in der Hölle bratet.“

Winter is settling over Mittelreich. The air is bitterly cold, and storms keep threatening to come down from the Finsterkamm. The walk up to Hohendorf lasts an entire day, and the road is nearly deserted save for our band of travellers. They pass a long train of migrants, perhaps a dozen families, heading towards Greifenfurt now that the agricultural season is spent. But besides these they see no one, nor man nor beast.

As they close in on Hohendorf, Travjane explains that she will in nowise enter the village; she'll instead pass it by through the deep forest and make a camp near the road beyond it and out of sight. She further cautions them not to mention her at all when they stay over night in her step-parents' inn. And that everything on the menu is nice, except they should avoid the dumplings, because she isn't there to make them and was the only one who really ever did them properly.

Scene 25

Madness (d6)

Setup: set out on the road

NPC list: Ulmia the confectioner, villain, villain henchmen, villagers, family, mage, Darian the tailor, rival tailor, Captain, cobbler, apprentice, Linnert the carpetmaker, Uli the cadet, Renahban the mercenary, Jergan the warrior

Threads: revenge, the ivory box, get the needle, revenge against Captain, explore ruins

[Travjane's Survival roll succeeds, so she pitches her tent & builds a fire without a problem.

Q: Did the rest of the party manage not to spill the beans? Likely (3+): O2 C5 - No.

Night encounter- BOLD: easy foes - deputies - altruistic
solution: counteraction; well, then...]

Travjane is sitting placidly before her tent, heating broth over her little fire, when she hears a voice calling out of the darkness.

"Travjane? Travjane? are you there?"

She peers beyond the fire, and sees two of the leading citizens of Hohendorf step into the ring of light.

"What are you doing here?" asks the witch. "How the hell did you know it's me?"

"We heard your name mentioned at the inn. We looked for your fire."

"I'll be gone by tomorrow morning. Don't tell anyone. Just go back and forget you saw me. It is better this way."

"Your parents have been worried sick about you. They--"

"Worried sick, or furious?"

"A little of both, actually. You know how they are. But they mean well and--"

"They mean nothing of the sort! They just want a worker they needn't pay. I'm never going back. I have more important things to do."

"What are you doing, exactly? And in the company of those sell-swords... and that half-elf townie?"

"Never you mind. Important witch things! Don't look at me like that, you've always known the rumours were true. Now go away before I put a curse on you both!"

As she says this last, Travjane jumps to her feet and points a finger at them ominously. [Intimidate (Courage/Intuition/Charisma; skill 3) check, with +3 bonus for witch vs. peasants (as per sandbox notes) 15/18/18 - success.]

The pair hesitate for just a moment, then scurry off back to the village.

[Q: Do they keep quiet? (not sure, so random odds; 1d6=6 Doubtful): O3 C5 - No.
Q: Do her step-parents come to talk? 50/50 (4+): O3 C3 - no, but...
+Event: NPC action - Darian's apprentice - Oppress / A representative (he's making life hard for Linnert already; noted for later)]

The next morning, Travjane is up and packed before her companions have come up the road looking for her. "Oh, good," she says, "we can be off. I can't stand another moment near this place."

"Here," says Darian, handing her a sealed letter, "your step-mother asked us to bring you this."

[Willpower (Courage/Intuition/Charisma, skill 2) roll to avoid Curiosity disadvantage: 10/20/6 fails

UNE for letter-
Conversation Mood: cautious
scheming - arrangement - equipment]

Travjane takes the letter from her friends hands, and makes as if to tear it to shreds. But she hesitates, and instead opens it, all the while grumbling under her breath. She reads it to herself, as her companions look on.

Dearest Travjane,

We have been so worried ever since you left home. After what happened in the village, we feared you were getting drawn into something dangerous. And when we had no news of you, and no letters, we became so scared. All we could do was pray to Travia to keep you safe. We know you are travelling now into uncertain dangers. We won't try to stop you, but the least we can do is offer you supplies for your journey. Come back to the inn and we will see that you have all the provisions we can spare, and good winter clothes to keep you warm. Please come soon. We just want to help.

May Travia bless you,
your loving parents

"What does it say?" asks Darian nervously.

"Lies," replies Travjane. "Lies to get me home. They must think I forgot how they are."

"They didn't seem too bad to me," offers Jergan.

"Don't you dare!" shrieks Travjane. "If I think you're siding with them... if I find out you're the one who couldn't keep your damn mouth shut about me being here... you will... um... you will regret ever being born!"

"Is that a threat?"

"How about we play nice together?" says Renahban, stepping between them. "I fear for the success of this venture if we're already at each other's throats on the second morning."

[both of them need to make Willpower rolls against Bad Characteristic Disadvantages (Arrogance for him, Vengeful for her).
Travjane (skill 2): 5/18/11 - failure
Jergen (skill 5): 8/14/2 - success]

Jergen backs down, as does Travjane. But she is not going to forget this slight.

She crumples up the letter and puts it in her pack. "This'll make good kindling," she says. And with that she sets off up the road.

About midday, they have paused to eat something to fortify themselves for the long, mostly upward, journey to the Inn of the Quiet Rest. As they are gnawing on their trail bread, voices are head approaching from up the path. A trio of well-armed, adventurous-looking sorts round the bend. Their merriment stops short when they see the travellers.

[road encounter: party of adventurers, novice (equal to starting PCs); 1d6+2=3 of them; rolling d10s on the d30 Adventure Generation NPC chart produces PC types, so this party consists of a Diebin (rogue, f), a Kriegerin (fighter, f), and a Rondrageweihte (paladin, m; actually a cleric of the war goddess, Rondra)

NPC Relationship: hostile
Conversation Mood: sociable
insane - bewilderment - equipment]

The travellers look up at the trio and the two groups size each other up. The leader of the three strangers looks around at all the gear leaning against trees and placed upon the ground. "What the hell are you all doing with that stuff? Going exploring? In winter? You're all mad!"

[Q: Does anyone start something? 50/50 (4+): O6 C4 - Yes, but...]

"Mad?" says Jergan. "Insulting us when you're outnumbered... I'll show you who's mad!" SO saying, he snatches up his sword and takes a step towards them. Their hands go immediately to their weapons, and Renahban reaches for her greatsword. But [1d6=] the roguish-looking stranger bounds forward between the two sides, and turns his back to Jergan.

"Stop it, all of you!" he says to his friends. "Unless we want to get caught in the weather like these, uh, fine people, we should really be on our way!"

Everyone backs down. The three strangers hurriedly traverse the clearing and down the road out of sight. As they are disappearing amongst the trees Travjane hears the rogue's voice one last time. "Trying to pick fights with strangers? I expected better of you. Is this why you were nearly ejected from the order..."

The rest of their journey is mostly uneventful. Travjane finds a good, solid branch for a walking stick (and, more importantly, to animate against any enemies they might encounter). After another Meile she finds another one she likes more. And an even nicer once not long after that. She rather enjoying the walk, even though her companions complain about the cold and the damp. She just prefers the outdoors to the big city -- even though Darian assures her Weihenhorst is hardly the metropolis she makes it out to be.

[normal encounter (via BOLD) physical - trap - unreliable
Perception roll for Travjane to spot it: 2/13/6, ok]

When they are nearly at the inn, Travjane sees a pile of leaves looking just a bit too obvious in the middle of the path. She pokes at it with her (newest) branch, and finds a bear trap hidden within. She tries to set it off so no one gets hurt, but finds it has rusted open and won't move. She picks it up on the end of her stick and throws it off the path just in case.

"Bandits?" asks Renahban. "The rumours about this inn are true, then?"

"We should all sleep with one eye open," says Jergan.

They reach the inn by nightfall. They are surprised at the number of people currently staying there. There are only two rooms free, but as they were expecting to double up in their tents no one really minds. All they really are after is a nice fire, a cooked meal, and a decent nights sleep.

[for the above-
Q: Enough rooms free? 50/50 (4+): O6 C3 - Yes, but... it's very busy
T&R share 1 room, D&J another

for the rest of their stay--
Q: Quiet night? Unlikely (5+): O4 C3 - No, but... (quiet for all but 1d3=1 of them)
Which one? 1d6: 1-3 Travjane (as she's the PC, and a troublemaker besides), 4 Jergan, 5 Darian, 6 Renahban; 2=T

What happens? BOLD: haven - conclave - malevolent

Conclave of...? 1d10: 1-3 bandits, 4-5 thieves, 6-7 racketeers, 8-9 kidnappers, 10 killers

1=bandits; so I guess the rumour is true

Q: What are they up to? Negligence / Dispute]

Renahban is awakened in the middle of the night by movement in her room. She peers into the darkness to see her room mate out of bed and fussing about with something.

"Travjane?" asks Renahban. "What's all that noise? What are you doing?" 

"I hafta pee."

"In here?"

"Why do you think they put these pots under our beds?"

"You northerners are disgusting. Go outside!"

Travjane mumbles something uncivil but does as the mercenary asks, as her life may some day depend on the Al'Anfan woman's good graces.

[Perception check not to blunder into danger (Cunning/Intuition/Intuition; skill 2): 8/16/5, just made it]

Travjane leaves the inn and goes out into the frosty night air. She goes just outside the pool of light shed by the lantern hanging above the door, but as she does she notices torchlight a little ways away through the trees. Curiosity makes her momentarily forget the purpose of her nocturnal ambulations, so she creeps forward to see who is about.

In a small clearing, a group of [2d6=] eight people stand about arguing with not-entirely-quiet voices. They are very rough-looking, and all but one of them are armed with a variety of nasty-looking weapons. Some even wear armour under their cloaks.

"You really fucked up this time, Arndt," says an ugly, scarred man who Travjane surmises it the ringleader. "Yer blunder costed us a fortune in silver."

Arndt begins to reply, but an angry woman with a broken nose shouts over him, punctuating her words by shaking the giant axe she carries. "And now the Baron's agents are on to us. We might have to relocate. Or start paying someone else off. What would of been easier if we had all that silver!" [UNE: inquisitive - investigation - enemy]

Other voices join in, and the leader has to tell them not to shout more than once.

[Q: How does it end? Expose / Outside]

Arndt tries to defend his actions, but it is plain that this was never a trial, only a sentence. The leader orders him stripped to his breeches and hung upside down from a tree, and left to die in the cold.

Travjane decides she's seen more than she'd wanted to, and creeps away [but her Stealth roll fails... 1d3=]. A pair of bandits walk swiftly back towards the inn and overtake her.

[NPC Relationship: peaceful
Conversation Mood: cautious
inquisitive - questions - allies]

"Hey!" one of them calls. "What're you doing out here?"

[Fast talk roll to keep it breezy: 2/16/7 (just succeeded due to skill 2)]

"Uh, I drank a little too much ale before bedtime, you know? And my bunkmate's a little uptight about our shared accommodation."

The second bandit just laughs, but the first continues his questions. "That's a bit weird. How come?"

"Yeah, I know," says Travjane. "She's a mercenary too, so I thought she'd be less prissy. But she's from Brabak or somewhere, so go figure."

"What's she doing up here?"

"I didn't think to ask. Just needed an extra sword to keep us safe for our trip to the Finsterkamm and back. What with the orks and all."

[Q: Will the bandits let her go without incident? 50/50 (4+): O1 C3 - No, but... won't push too far, either.]

"What're the four of you going there for?"

"We're looking for the bones of an ancient hero. So her spirit can rest."

"Not looking for treasure...?"

"Oh, but we are! Not all treasure is gold and jewels! This treasure is the history of our very land." [Fast Talk roll again: 12/5/8, ok]

"Oh," says the second bandit. "You're one of those..."

The bandits quickly lose interest in the woman they now take for a poor, hopeful scholar. They bid her goodnight, but stress that it isn't safe to wander too far from the inn at night. For there are wolves about.

When Travjane gets back to her room, she wakes a slightly annoyed Renahban to tell her what she witnessed. The mercenary agrees that they should leave early in the morning to avoid any further problems, and begs Travjane not to get out of bed again until then.

[Q: Do they get away without problems? Likely (3+): O4 C3 - Yes, but...

BOLD: Physical-pursuit-illusory
solution: enemy help]

It is an easy matter to convince Jergan and Darian to set out early. But as they are travelling up the road, they keep having glimpses of another band of travellers behind them, roughly keeping pace. Before long, Travjane recognises some of them as the bandits. They pick up their pace, hoping to outrun them, but the bandits keep appearing behind them on the trail. They never come with a hundred paces of the travellers, who fear that they are only waiting for more of their number to appear.

When they have nearly reached Winterfels, Travjane spots a group of six hunters crouching on either the side of the road ahead, quite ill-concealed behind trees and bushes. They take up their bows, and the travellers stop.

[d30 road encounter: Ambush; number+2, level-1
Q: Is this ambush meant for bandits? 50/50 (4+): O6 C5 - Yes.

Ambush leader's Stealth (Courage12/Intuition10/Agility13, skill 4) +2 for cover : their roll: 20/19/15!
Travjane's Perception roll 12/6/10: QL1]

Jergan unlimbers his throwing axe, and Renahban cocks her crossbow. Even Travjane and Darian draw their blades. The hunters make no move to either aim their bows nor lower them. After a quick conference, it is decided that Jergan has the the deepest -- and, more importantly, the loudest -- voice, so he calls out, "Ho! What means this?"

[NPC Relationship: distrustful
Conversation Mood: cautious
mysterious - whispers - power]

"They look serious," says one of the ambushers. "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea..."

Travjane strides forward a few paces. "Let us pass. We want no trouble with you. Put down your weapons and we shall go on our way in peace."

[Intimidate: 4/12/2, success QL1
UNE: knowing - account - the character]

"It's the witch-girl of Hohendorf!" gasps a hunter. "Everyone do as she says. Please, Miss, we are just trying to get back at a band of marauding bandits who have been abusing the good folk of Winterfels. We didn't know who was coming, honest."

"I think the bandits have been shadowing us this whole morning. Perhaps we should join our swords to your cause and rid the roads of these pillagers. What say ye, O my companions in arms?" So saying, Travjane turns to face her comrades, and, in a much quieter tone, hastily adds, "we could really use the reinforcements."

[Fast Talk at +2, since it is a good idea: 6/15/15 success (even without the bonus).]

"I say yea!" calls out Jergan, raising his axe high.

The others nod agreement. Travjane turns back to the peasants. "Together we shall certainly carry the day. But we really need to discuss your hiding places. We saw you guys at 100 paces."

[Warfare (Kriegskunst: Courage/Cunning/Intuition) rolls for the Renahban and Jergan to arrange the peasants & party in a functional ambush? J has skill 7, R has 8. Total QL-2 will be difficulty for the Bandit leader's Perception roll.
J 8/5/9 QL3
R 13/11/11 QL3

lead Bandit thus has a -4 penalty (skills as Hochstaplerin, Perception 4, attributes 14: 12/17/10, failure]

About half an hour later, the bandits wander up the road, and the trap is sprung. The bandits are surrounded and [3d6-1=] outnumbered, 10 against 7.

[Q: Do they surrender? Likely (3+): O6 C1 - Yes, and...]

The bandits throw down their arms and plead for mercy. They are roped together, and the hunters and travellers both march them off to Winterfels for trial.

The village hetwoman is impressed at the travellers' selfless heroism. "I know it's not much, she says, offering them an armload of fine fleeces, "but please accept this reward for helping save our village from these dastardly villains.

"Oh, we could not possibly accept," blurts out Travjane. "All we ask is a guide to take us to the lost outpost."