Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Mansion Part 4 - Pirate Raid

Mansion #4

The two barges had become parallel to each other in the center of the lake. Unlike a scene on the high seas with cannons cracking off, launching ball and shot upon their neighboring ship, the action on the Marsh was subdued to tethering lines, bows, and daggers drawn by rival crews. The raider was made of a crew similar to that of the Sharpe: Goblins and Ratfolk both worked the Marsh in legitimate enterprise and blighted the region with piracy.

Joining the crew of the Sharpe was an adventuring party.

<Initiative Rolls from Highest to Lowest: Annalise: 24, Valkira 23, Nora 16, Raina 15, Grolys 11, GM: 1>

<d20+1 = 11 vs. AC: 12> - Annalise napped in the carriage when the first shouts began. A light sleeper, she was up quick with a half-cocked musket at her side. Standing from the carriage, it took no time to realize that a vessel waving a pirate flag had approached for a raid. She lifted the rifled musket and squeezed for a shot! The round smashed into a lantern near a Goblin's head. Other than a few errant shards, the Goblin was unharmed.

Valkira remained behind the gunwale with her sword drawn. She delayed her action until one of the Goblins had crossed over. "Do you have them in sight, Nora?"

<How many pirates are in the crew? There are at least 6 + 1d6 for a total of: 9. At least 3 are dedicated to working the ship rather than actual fighting>

<Does Nora have her bow with her? 1d20+1 vs. TN 10 = 7>

Nora paled as she knew that her bow was not strapped to her back. Looking at her Master, she said: "I'll have them in sight in a moment." She sprinted behind the carriage, frowning at the soft whinny of the horses. The cries and shouts of the crews were an exacerbation to the horses nerves. They had yet to panic, but Nora imagined no good would come of it.

<Raina spends 3 Mana points, lowering her total from 7 to 4 in conjuring 3 Frost Bolts. Her attack rolls are d20+1 for totals of: 15, 8, and 18. Two hits! Damages are 2d6 to respective targets #1 and #3: 6 & 8 vs. HP 4 - 2 Kills>

Raina had also used the carriage for a place of rest and meditation. Her gaze flicked over her shoulder at the first change of the wind during the initial approach. She appeared from around the of the carriage, her robes flowing after her as her eyes glowed with an eldritch arcane blue light. The fingers of her right hand were out stretched as she gathered an orb of frost energy that writhed and pulsed at the surging power she collected. She pointed her hand towards the ship, shards of conjured frost launched from her hand towards the ship. Two of the pirates were caught in the stomach and the chest, felling them from the moment of impact. A third shard hit the side of the ship and remained briefly before the heat of the day turned the bolt into water.

<Does Grolys have his bow? d20+1 vs. TN 10 = 6>

Grolys cursed his wish to travel light for the moment, leaving his pack and his bow in the carriage. He clambered down the steps from the barge's forecastle to the main deck, dodging Goblin and Ratfolk who grabbed whatever they could to line the walls. He rushed towards the carriage and called out, "Can someone find my pack in there?"

<At the start of the GM's turn, both ship crews engage in a combination of attack and boarding action. This will be represented by a roll-off with the Sharpe's side rolling first before the Pirates. The results are respectively thus: 13 & 9>

The two ships remained in contact for a little longer with arrows flying on both sides. The crew of the Sharpe were either inspired by the conduct of the party (or were motivated to protect their lives, having been paid handsomely by their Elven benefactor). The arrows of the Sharpe were truer than the Pirates. Bilgerats had shafts sticking from arms or chests, their bodies hitting the deck either as dead or wounded. The replying arrows struck more of the ship's side rather than a hit a crew member. A paint job would have been required for the vessel, but otherwise the Sharpe emerged unscathed. At a narrow channel of the Marsh, the Sharpe broke contact and sailed for cover of the shadowy mist that lay ahead.

"Someone get the horses calmed," Captain Lask said, "We should be out of trouble for now." If there were any cries of the wounded from the pirate's barge, it had been swallowed by the looming mangrove trees and the grey mist that they had sailed into.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Mansion Part 3 - Ferry Route East

Session #3

Somewhere outside of Seaside within the Great Salt Marsh

Accepting the Captain's turn, the Party had arrived the next day to find carriage and flatboat ready to take them into the Marsh. A low grey mist hovered over the placid tea colored water. There was an overland trail leading from the city with an uncertain quality due to the influence of water heights. When the tide was in, particularly during a major storm drifting into the region, the trail all but vanished under the slime topped waters. The dependable means of getting around were ships coming into port from the sea and marsh boats that worked the area. The key features that made Seaside so valuable despite its hostile location was the deep water harbor and the ill desire by honest watchmen to live there.

The party's boat had a heading towards the east, deeper into the Marsh. The boat catching the wind was fortuitous, while the current was slow, it was constantly pushing against the flat bottomed boat. All water was flowing west towards the sea.

The barge had a simple name painted in blag letters on the side: Sharpe. The Captain of the vessel was a fellow Goblin by the name of Lask whose small crew employed a number of Goblins and Ratfolk to the ranks. Much of the space had been taken by the carriage with passengers forced to either sleep on deck or in their conveyance. The space below was reserved for the hammocks of the crew. Food was served on deck with only cushions to serve as chairs.

He was the first to note to Grolys in their shared language: "Most Captains I know wouldn't take on a passenger job over hauling goods back to Seaside. Even for a Goblin like you it would have been a hard sell." Lack sipped from his flask before offering it to the adventurer.

"So why take us on?" Grolys asked as he looked from the bridge over the main deck.

"Your association with Captain Moonsong and the Exiles. Those Elves supplement port security and could cause trouble if I was found to uncooperative." Lack said before accepting the flask from a sour faced Grolys. They may have both been Goblins, but the Captain's choice of liquor did not sit well with the adventurer, "Then there is the money she is paying to bring you guys in and get you back out when whatever your business is finished."

"You hear anything from this part of the swamp?" Grolys asked.

<Does Captain Lask know any rumors? 85% Yes with a result of: 14% Exceptional Yes>

"Maybe," The Captain said, "You just asking as a favor?"

<Grolys has +500 GP making it a total of 620 due to front money had received from the Captain against another 500 due to him after delivering the ransom and bringing the hostage home. He has money to play with and fishes out a gold piece.>

"I'll go for 10 to find out what you know," Grolys said. <d20+1 vs. TN 10. The bribe gives him the advantage. Results are: 15 & 15>

The Captain took the first coin and asked to see the other 9. Grolys shook his head and said, "Let's hear it first. You look like you got a lot on your mind."

Lask looked at Grolys for a moment as if to size the Goblin up. The two stared at each other evenly before Lask shrugged and said, "This wouldn't be my first trip east this week. A band of Orcs came to me seeking passage. They carried between them a long trunk, a man-sized trunk." The Captain noted, "They paid pretty well to take them on and ask no questions."

"You take a peak what was in the trunk?" Grolys asked.

<Did Lask peak? 50% Yes with a result of: 27% Yes! - Does he admit that? d20+1 vs. 10 from Grolys and his question results in: 15>

"One of my crew," Lask nodded to the Ratfolk below, "They had managed to catch a pair of Orcs throwing food and tossing waist overboard. They had an idea of what was in the crate."

"Now we are going after them," Grolys noted, "Hopefully that association was a casual one."

 <Grolys makes a Sense Motive check. This is a roll off between the two and equals out to be a d20+1 vs. d20+3. No major Advantage or Disadvantage is given due to being of similar race. The results are between Grolys and Lask respectively: Natural 20! & 14 - Lask is telling the truth>

Lask shrugged, "I let them off a ways and they paid me for passage. I had an inkling of where they were going due to the history of the region, but it's not like I could give much information of what to expect from you lot."

"Yeah," Grolys agreed. He paid his ten marks before walking away from Lask's post.

* * *

<Weather check is 3. Partly Cloudy>

Nora and Valkira walked the open deck, their eyes turned from the Ratfolk with furs of brown, grey, and wheat gold wearing their kerchiefs of blue and gold. Neither Human or Half-Elf had a clear understanding of the significance of the Ratfolk and their cloths, if it was a cultural marker between clan or family that drove them to wear the colors around their necks or at their waist. Valkira's eyes were turned towards the treeline. She sensed Nora walking behind her.

"What do you think of the others, squire?" Valkira asked.

"The Gunslinger is talkative," Nora noted, "The Witch Tanglebrooke seems to be agreeable. I have no opinion on the Goblin." Nora rolled her shoulders as she spoke. Unlike Valkira, the Squire had chosen to keep her chain hauberk on in defiance of the Marsh' legendary humidity. Whether it was by grace or magic, Elves appeared to sweat very little despite the constrained armor in an unforgivably moist environment such as the Salt Marsh. Nora noted that her Mistress had to pause and use old handkerchiefs to dab her skin to minimize the perspiration. The Fighters breathed a sigh of relief when a cloud served as a brief buffer between the sun and them.

"Are you nervous?" Valkira asked over her shoulder, "This will be our first job that wasn't simply killing rats in an old lady's basement."

<Was Nora nervous? 35% Yes with a result of: 03% - She must make a Composure check of d20+1. Due to the Exceptional Yes she is an at a Disadvantage and must meet or beat a 10. The result is: 13 & 6>

Nora swallowed, a glistening sheen was visible on her skin. Unlike one portion of her heritage, her Human side did sweat and her head lowered with cheeks that turned violet when they met Valkira's imposing gaze: "I'm worried about doing a good job, Mistress."

Valkira offered a thin smile at her protegee before turning her back to the edge to look over the conveyance. Not only was the upper deck overtaken by the mass of the carriage itself, there were also a set of horses that pulled the cart. Both animals were tethered and had managed to lay down on loose straw for the time being. The Ratfolk moved gingerly around the animals to avoid spooking them.

Such powerful beasts loose and and anxious on a barge was trouble that few Captains would have entertained. If not for the connection with the Exiles, a more pragmatic Captain would have said no to the carriage and horses pulling the cart.

"Have the others decided whether to take the Captain's offer of grabbing the gold after we get the hostage?" Valkira asked. The matter had come up after the initial proposal between Moonsong and the adventurers.

The request was, as the Captain had put it taking a hard pull at the wine that same night she offered the work: "I wouldn't shed any tears if those Orcs paid for crossing me like this. Now I want to make it clear: I want Candlelight returned safe. If the opportunity comes up that you can return the chest though... even better, if you could prove you had slain a few Orcs. I would cut you in on some of the ransom I've gathered..."

Nora shook her head, "I hadn't thought to gauge the interest. I believe our first and foremost work is getting our hostage back and unscathed."

"A fair assessment," Valkira said, "Though I believe an open mind should be taken when thinking on the latter offer-"

<3+1 = 4 Attack vs. Valkira's modified AC of 10 due to not wearing plate. Miss!>

Valkira looked outwards from the barge to see that the neighboring path of the fork melded into a larger body within the Marsh. From the tributary, a raiding vessel had emerged and saddled up to Lask's barge. The Fighter picked out the black banner flying over head. A common signal that meant both piracy and a lack of quarter. Valkira dove behind the gunwale, avoiding a black feathered arrow that struck the side of the carriage.

"Pirates!" One of the Ratfolk called out followed by a chorus of shouts and commands from both vessels.

"To arms!" Valkira commanded as she took cover from behind the gunwale. She drew her sword from her sheath and kept it close to her chest.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Mansion Part 2 - Moonsong

<Does Annalise know Grolys? 65% Yes with a result of: 12%>

Annalise recognized the Goblin on a second look by the shock of black hair between the large ears, the easy smile with the sharp teeth, and the sharp brightness of the red in his eyes. Goblin eyes were often shades of red, typically a dull burgundy or oxblood, not a shade of ruby like that of the supine Goblin in front of her.

"Took me a moment to place you," She said, "You're Grofni from the Mosstide Landing, yea?"

"You can call me Grolys or 'G.G.' if you want really short, but yeah, I'm from the Landing. That's why I'm the fella to get you ladies in and out to wherever we are going." Grolys sat up and finished his drink, "You have to know someone who operates in these marshes to get through, and that someone is either the Goblins or the Grippli."

"What about the Ratfolk? The Halfling? The Saurian?" Nora rattled off a few more races often associated with traveling, specifically the water.

Grolys yawned and shook his head, "First off, Tallfolk, Halflings? Those are river folk, not marsh folk. Anyone Halfling operating in the Marsh is an amateur working under someone who knows his business. Saurians? If you can trust them, which most of them you can't, they got too much loyalty to the tribes. Sell you out for whatever they can make or what they can eat off your bones." The Goblin stood and stretched. The party had been left for sometime in the parlor, "I'll give it that Ratfolk also have experience, but as you can see, no Ratfolk responded to the job."

"No, not a single Ratfolk responded to my call, but I am glad I could find several people," The voice from the side door was feminine smooth, but steely hard. It belonged to an Elven woman whose skin was porcelain smooth, despite the record she attained as both a ranger and officer before being exiled from the Empire. A victim of a mad queen who blamed a number of noble families for not carrying the day. Kayean Moongsong dismissed her manservant with a wave of her hand. Her sparkling eyes were the color of rich tiger's eye brown. She had a thin smile that could charm, but easily intimidate an audience. All eyes were turned to her.

"I'd like to thank you ladies, gentleman, for coming to my home at my invitation. I am in need of people that are both efficient and discreet for this job. I trust in exchange for riches that I can count on that from the assembled party."

Valkira and Nora nodded, they had already known at least some of the requirements due to the contract being supplied by the Trade of Blades. Annalise tipped her hand back and raised her right hand in a high sign of agreement. For the right price she could put in work and not brag about it. Raina said nothing, but her emerald eyes looked on with a grave conviction. Grolys shrugged and voiced his acceptance, noting: "Sure, why not? For the amount of riches I've heard you got stored under the house, I'd say working for you would be worth it."

"Your devotion is touching, Grofni, though I'm glad I heard verbal agreement. Like you said, the party will need someone who can deal with those living in the swamps, especially the boatmen," Moonsong said, "Now, as to your labor."

Kayean opened the cream colored door behind her a crack and gave the hand single with the crook of her finger. A moment later the door opened wide enough to allow a pair of Humans, servants of the house, to step into the room lugging a merchant's strongbox of iron banded wood. It was a chest strong enough and compact enough for cross country travel, such as being bound with a stack of luggage on a carriage. Something metallic clinked within the box.

"I have a friend, a Bard of this city that means a great deal to me that has been kidnapped. Perhaps you have heard about the matter?"

<Has anyone heard about it? 75% Yes with a result of: 35%. Who has heard about it? - TN 10 with results of Valkira: 13 / Nora: 12 / Annalise: 12 / Raina: 17 / Grolys: 7>

A lot of heads nodded about hearing a touch of this or a little of that. Grolys looked around and said, "Kidnappings in Seaside? Here I thought the popular opinion was that us Goblins on the Landing were the criminals."

"It was a Bard," Raina said, "Reese Candlelight, I heard her sing when I was in Seaside last month. She sang beautifully." The Elf noted.

"I heard it was Orcs," Nora said, "They had brazenly grabbed her outside the city gates. Sapped while she was walking up and dragged her to a waiting boat." When eyes were on Nora, she added, "Valkira and I happened to be around the Landing on an escort job. A Ratfolk told us. He also said he was too scared to intervene."

Annalise let out a whistle, "Most Orcs are veterans of the war. May I add, they fought for the North against your people, Captain." Captain Moonsong said nothing, spreading her hands which hung by her side. She was an open book, but had no comment on how a band of Orcs had kidnapped a Bard, or why the Captain was so interested in returning her.

"What do you propose we do about it?" Valkira asked.

"The Orcs were prepared," Moonsong said, "They had slipped a note to a young man who had brought it to my door. They noted my friendship to the Bard, and that an opportunity presented itself to ransom her back with what they considered was a trifle of gold to be brought to a nearby manor house within the swamp. Three days at midnight is to be the exchanged. The gold has been counted and is to be brought to the estate in exchange for the hostage." Moonsong betrayed little emotion as she talked, but her eyes grew hard at that moment, "I want my hostage returned unspoiled."

<Annalise is granted a story clue chance as she has Lore (Local). She rolls a 15+2 for 17. Her chance of knowing is a near sure thing at 90% with a result of: 83%>

"I take it because Candlelight is a Human that you don't want to involve your fellow Elves in the Exiles Company?" Annalise asked.

Kayean Moonsong's eyes fell on the Human, "Like I said: I will generously reward those who serve with discretion. I am willing to pay a fair price for that discretion. If you take on the job, then I expect you to keep your end of the deal." The Captain added, "And those who cannot keep their end will get their just rewards."

The Captain turned from the party for a moment and grabbed a leather bound ledger from her table. She noted, "I have a chest there of 10,000 gold pieces. Feasible for me, but no mere trifle as rumors have suggested. Still, I have enough to cover the ransom. I also have enough to cover supplies and 10% of that ransom to each of you. Half now and half on delivery of my hostage." She began making notations from her book. None approached her to look at the specifics, though they imagined it was a combination of names and coin figures. If the rumors were true, as the Captain denied, but if reality true were a pittance to what she had stored. Much of it war spoil from the Great War. Coins taken from tombs that the Elves patrolled, from ransoms paid to secure the freedoms of Northern Noblemen. To further add to her reputation, the Captain had a rumored history of waylaying and taking gold bound to other Elven lords in the region who had Human captives. Ensuring the deaths of the Human hostages and the loss of income to said Lord. It gave her an air of ruthlessness that was being challenged by such a brazen hostage taking.

She looked up at the party and asked: "Shall we begin? I can give you the opening share tonight and tomorrow you can collect the wagon and head into the Marsh."

"What's the location?" Grolys asked, "There are a couple of sites nearby..."

"It's the Guisman Manor," Moonsong said.

The Goblin's frowned deepened.

To Be Continued.