This site is an online accumulation of the Post Reports for my current ongoing D&D Campaign - for anyone who might be interested in reading them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Interim Email Meet 118, Adv 6, July/August 2016

During the interim months before we come back to the table September 10th, we've been handling the training and town adventuring via email. Normally I despise playing this way since I know that not everyone is actually reading the emails, and even if they are, sometimes something will get lost in the shuffle.

However, there has been over 90 emails back and forth during this time and the party has taken care of much of the training issues they would normally spend around the table doing.

Email Write Ups follow:

Marcus - After reviewing his skills and taking care of a few things, Marcus has achieved enough XP to go up to 5th level Wizard (5th level Fighter is capped). He will be spend a day or two making sure the Tower is in fine shape and then entrust it's care to Geld (who will going up to 4th Warrior/2nd Fighter and training locally) and Fermius (who even with 1 arm shy, will act as Steward and still go up in level to 4th Warrior/1st Expert).

Costs (248 crowns) were already deducted from his coffers to maintain the tower in his absence and cover his training fees. Training time will be 21 Days and he is going to Woodhelven to train. The trip to Woodhelven will be 7 days there and 7 days back - making his entire stretch of time 35 days. However, he will travel with Steiner, Tranis, and Viridia as they continue on their way to Argosility and will wait the 3 days for them to come back to travel home with them. Bringing the entire stretch to 38 days.

Avidius - Avidius has enough XP to go up to 5th level thief and will be training locally. He will help to watch over the Hall of Heroes while here and continue in his duties to the Baron as Seneschal. Fermius will alter his duties from warrior to Steward of the Hall as well as Marcus' Tower and will devote his time to learning what skills he needs.

Costs (178 crowns) were already deducted to cover training fees. Training time will be 14 days and it is assumed that he will spend the down time assisting Fermius is maintaining the Hall and catch up with his wife, Senna and their two children Ria and Gem. There will be additional living costs for the difference in time (24 days)  between his training and the 38 days until the party reconvenes.

Steiner - Father Steiner does not have enough to go up but will be making the trip to Argosility in the company of Tranis to meet with his order as well as take care of the fencing of the treasures we wanted to sell (including the shield). He has some of his own needs while there and will take care of them accordingly.

The trip to Argosility is 9 days each direction. To ease the trip, Steiner, Marcus, Tranis, and Viridia will all travel together. There will be some living costs for travel and time in Argosility.

Tranis - Kingsman Tranis has enough XP to go up to 5th level Ranger and will be travelling to Argosility to take care of his training. Viridia also has enough to go up to 4th level Expert and will be joining Tranis on his trip to Argosility for company and superior facilities to advance her skills.

Costs (240 crowns) were already deducted to cover training fees. Training time will be 20 days and the trip is 9 days in each direction. Tranis and Viridia will travel with Steiner and Marcus back and forth from Argosility. Due to the amount of time Tranis will spend, he only needs to cover living and travel costs for the travel time and nothing else.

Erd - After reviewing his skills and taking care of a few things, Erd has enough XP to go up to 5th level Fighter. Since does not have to travel he can train and live locally.

Total time to train is 17 days and costs (216 crowns) have already been deducted to cover it. The additional living expenses will cover the 21 days before the party reconvenes.

Flimflam - After taking care of a few things, Flimflam will be going up to 6th level Druid. He will be making the trip to the grove of Kaer Konig at the Endless Forest. His animals companions and Taulib will be joining him on this trip, his Valet will be able to advance his skills to 3rd level Commoner while on the journey and at the grove.

Costs (199 crowns) were already deducted to cover training fees. Training time is 16 days and the trip to the grove will be 4 days in each direction. After his return to Shakun, Flimflam will have 14 days remaining to cover living costs between the 24 total days he will be out and the 38 days before the party reconvenes.

MARCUS
Before you leave for Woodhelven, you spend the time with Geld and Fermius going over the needs of the Tower and what is required to keep it in good repair in your absence. It is decided that the 38 days (6 weeks or so) you will be absent will require 42 crowns to maintain and continue the cleaning. You have done what you can to instruct the unseen servants to continue to clean the tower but raw supplies is still needed and required. Fermius is given approval to enter and leave the tower and Geld will be guarding it during the evenings and nights as she will be inhabiting it during her training (Fermius will be staying at the Hall of Heroes).

You did work with Sutor's Forge and Geld and Brother Steiner to remove the Ring of Power. Using the Beholder as an anti-magic cone you kept it over the ring, deadening it. Then having a crucible already in place after commissioning it from the forgemaster, removed the ring safely and had it suspended in the center of the mold as molten lead was poured over and into the crucible, keeping it encased within the leaden cylinder until it cooled. Then it was brought to the tower where it was placed on Workshop level with the beholder's central eye fixed firmly on the lead piece - for now neutralizing the ring until you could find a more permanent solution.

The trip to Woodhelven is cold but without issue as you, Tranis, Steiner, and Viridia share the road with at first a hayswain heading towards Timberton (you have your own wagon and oxen, merely sharing the road with the haymaker and his 2 sons for safety purposes) and then you joined a larger merchants caravan heading back to Argosility. You bid your companions farewell at Woodhelven and make your way to the Tower of the Moon.

The Council of 4 was pleased to have you back for training and you spent the next 3 plus weeks undergoing some of the most grueling efforts they could force you to take. During your time at Woodhelven, you transcribed most of the spells the Feks Eyber's book into your rune protected spellbook - taking careful note that the Fireball spell was flawlessly moved and inked.

MARCUS - THINGS YOU NEED TO DECIDE:
1) The Council of 4 wants you to bring an apprentice back. you can choose: 1) High Elven female 146 y/o (roughly 18) - family is on the Council of 13 (she is aloof and cold, and from your observation has some magical skill already), 2) Grey Elven male 205 y/o (roughly 20) - no indication of his family or upbringing (bichromatic eyes and metallic cast to his hair color, seems too eager to learn and shows surprising aptitude) or 3) High Elven male 115 y/o (roughly 14) - family is on the Council of 13 and the Council of 4 (he is always writing in his journal, takes copious notes, is gregarious and anxious). Or you can opt to not take one at this time. You suspect that you can continue to NOT take a apprentice for a bit longer before the Council of 4 starts to take offense - it's up to you.

2) Will you be looking to buy more inks? You have 20 L1, 10 L2, and 38 L3 back at the Tower.

3) Do you want to get the Vibrodagger +1 repaired here? It is in Poor condition. Inquiries show that there are enough skilled artisans that can work on the ensorcelled metal. To get it to Fair would cost 40 crowns. To get it to Good would cost an additional 80 crowns. Let me know.


Marcus, look this over and answer the questions at the bottom. Also, if there is ANYTHING you want to buy, commission, or get in your time out - now is the time to think about it. You have 338 Crowns remaining on you AFTER all training costs and travel costs have been accounted for. In addition, you have 730 Crowns still at the Tower PLUS a single Garnet worth 100 crowns

STEINER
The night before leaving for Argosility, there was some discussion on the sale of the "object treasures" we had gathered and the decision was left to your and Tranis' best opinions on the pricing we could get. So besides your normal equipment and belongings you are also bringing the 24 remaining greater size and quality figurines, the 13 lesser size and quality figurines, the case with the 35 bottles of Varohelmian vintage wine, and Horace's +2 shield. Some will be sold, others will be traded.

You spoke with Father Gavilarin for a bit before leaving and also bespoke about clothing and giving the poor of Tanner's Way some work.

The trip to Argosility is cold but without issue as you, Marcus, Steiner, and Viridia share the road with at first a hayswain heading towards Timberton (you have your own wagon and oxen, merely sharing the road with the haymaker and his 2 sons for safety purposes) and then you joined a larger merchants caravan heading back to Argosility. You bid Marcus farewell at Woodhelven and then finished your journey two days later at the glimmering walls of Argosility.

The city is teeming with life, the streets overflowing with people and refugees. Beggary and disease is more prevalent than you remember it being before and the wagon is brought right to Temple Grounds as all three stableries were full and the mock ones that had sprung up outside the walls did not appear to be safe or trustworthy. Many of the King's Dragoons were seen patrolling and there were stocks and chaingangs down Broad Street and Victory Circle.

The Temple was thrilled to have you and you made yourself welcome. A cell was made available and you took it since the city had little rooms for rent and the prices were much higher than you remember. The fallout from the flood and the Kraken was still being felt. River's Edge was a mess and over 4,000 citizens had made their way here for succor and support. The Temples of Zeus had been sent reeling with all 17 of the touched priests unable to muster anything more than the most minor of their god's miracles. But the worst of it was the entire stock of healing potions from the apothecary all the way to the temples seems to have been made inert. ONLY those crafted by the House of Black (Hades) and the Chapel of the Crescent Moon (Hecate) still have any potency - but that represent the barest fraction of the total available.

So obviously, prices are soaring. The House and Chapel at this time are NOT upping any production of elixirs or potions for two reasons (as explained publicly): 1) they do not have the facilities to do so, and 2) they do not have the time to do so. According to the chatter about the Temple of Apollo though, the thought is that Hades and his daughter Hecate have let their priests know to not do this and are looking for the power of Zeus to possibly fade in the minds and eyes of the populace - making it more likely that both these other deities will have the opportunity to garner more worshippers and control.

This does not fit with the cosmology as is and the Temple feels that supporting Zeus and the status quo is the best bet. The Oracle has been consulted many times and the feeling is that the Kraken needs to be captured once again - once that occurs Zeus will be able to devote his attention back to the world at hand. Right now it is taking most of Zeus and Poseidon's time and attention and anything else is just a distraction.

During your time in Argosility you arranged to purchase as many rags, blanket,s shoes, and other clothing that you cold from various poor houses and charities in order to bring back to the downtrodden that inhabit Tanner's Way. It came to 15 crowns and the Temple matched your investment. At this time you have 3 large crates of donations to return with you to Shakun.

You also told them about the Sky Chariot and this garnered LOTS of interest from the Temple. Under the right guidance of any priest or holy knight to Apollo or Poseidon, they can not only fly and soar great distances, but also can be used to visit Olympus if one knows the way. All the old scrolls and texts dictate that you would be best served with 2 fast horses.

As for the figurines - the Temple and it's various fences inform you that they can help you sell them now as they are but you MIGHT get a better price if you sell them at an auction. You need to decide. Right now the sell price is roughly 115 crowns for the better figurines and 30 crowns for the lesser. But YOU need to decide, sell or Auction - and you can't reverse it after a decision is made.

Gems will currently get you: 60 for the Aquamarines (you have 10), 25 for the Citrines (you have 14) and 85 crowns for the garnets (you have 11).

The Shield is shown to a number of possible interested parties and the best trades are as follows: Enchanted Breastplate +1, Battle Axe +1, Ring of Feather Falling, Boots of Dancing. OR, there is at least one family willing to pay 2,250 crowns. You decide.

STEINER - THINGS YOU NEED TO DECIDE
1) Do you shop HERE for Two fast horses for the Chariot or do you want to want and purchase them at Heatherfield?

2) Sell the figurines one at a time or Auction?

3) What is the final choice on the Shield?

4) Are you going to sell the gems?

TRANIS
The afternoon before leaving for Argosility you and Viridia joined Flimflam for a tour of the Dryad groves and to specifically see the one that he had dedicated to you. The three of you were surprised at the number of trees that had already sprung up around each of the nexus points, to the tune of 40 or so. Also, there were saplings that were situated in such a way that they were at an axis in parallel with the next closest dryad nexus loci. The thought is that if left alone and given enough time, there might very well be a ring of trees encircling Shakun.

The Dryad herself was shy and difficult to coax out, emerging just long enough to give you a glance and stir your loins before she giggled and danced away.

Viridia was far from amused. A green haired lithesome 17 year old looking forest sprite is enough of a threat to anyone.

You then spent some time at the Marshall's office and shared a pint or two with Westwinter and his adjunct Caladis, discussing various crimes and theft that have occurred during the winter, the state of the populace, and his hopes for what the next year will bring. Enough gentle questions and a steady flow of ale had him open up enough that you learned a few things: 1) He felt that he was given this post because he earned it after the horrors of the Goblin War that he faced and his bravery shown during the battles. 2) He has little respect for Captain Thragrial and refers to his militia as "thugs with tabards" - evidenced that the Marshal would not even be needed out here if the Captain was capable of doing his job, 3) and finally he believes that his presence out here is a sign that the Council of Lords is finally going to take seriously the needs of the western frontier and establish more trade routes, guild halls, libraries, and ranging stations. It is part of the reason why the Marshall is keen to learn how your time in Argosility goes during your training as you will most likely learn more about this possibility while there.

The trip to Argosility is cold but without issue as you, Marcus, Steiner, and Viridia share the road with at first a hayswain heading towards Timberton (you have your own wagon and oxen, merely sharing the road with the haymaker and his 2 sons for safety purposes) and then you joined a larger merchants caravan heading back to Argosility. You bid Marcus farewell at Woodhelven and then finished your journey two days later at the glimmering walls of Argosility.

The city is teeming with life, the streets overflowing with people and refugees. Beggary and disease is more prevalent than you remember it being before and the wagon is brought right to Temple Grounds as all three stableries were full and the mock ones that had sprung up outside the walls did not appear to be safe or trustworthy. Many of the King's Dragoons were seen patrolling and there were stocks and chaingangs down Broad Street and Victory Circle.

You bid Steiner farewell while you and Virida went to the Ranging Hall to check in and get your berth for your time to come here. Viridia was allowed to share a room with you as she is ostensibly your henchman and she was heading off to the Street of Silver to find a locksmith and/or keymaker she could spend the 3+ weeks working with.

Your training was long and went well, both you and Ringer were put through many grueling paces but the process has toughened you both and sharpened your skills. The conversation did turn to hunting cats and their abilities as well as feasibility in the wild and possibly dungeon environments. A few were tossed out as possible prospects but eventually most of the great cats were discarded as useful choices due to their size, temperament, need for outdoor. However, the best choice provided was that of the Lynx and it was possible to purchase a partially trained one at an Estate outside of town. It's up to you if you wanted to do it. Word is that the breeder/trapper would be willing to let one go for 75+ crowns.

Being 5th level you are now classified as a Master Scout and your quality of badge is upgraded from and Iron Encircled Star to a Brass one. A reminder of the code of the Kingsmen is given that you represent the will of the sovereign lords of the lands in the spaces between the towns, and you have a charge to keep the king's peace at all times should you ever see injustice, tyranny, or criminality on the roads or in the wild. Your purview, a reminder, does NOT stretch into the established Demesnes of any city, thorp, town, or village - that is the business of the local Reeve, Sheriff, Constable, or Marshall.

As for Marshal Ippsilas Westwinter's thoughts on the Council of Lords and expanding possible ranging stations West of Ferron - the Ranging Hall and Knights there do not commit to it. The current issue with the recent flooding of the Black Water River, the Kraken assault, and the interruption of shipping up and down the coast line coupled with the blow of ineffectiveness the Church of Zeus has been dealt has placed most of these sorts of plans on temporary hold for now and will be revisited possibly in the year 184.

TRANIS - THINGS YOU NEED TOO DECIDE:
1) Finding/trapping a cat on the road did not pan out, but there is a possibility to garner a Lynx in town. Do you want to pursue this or not? You have over 400 crowns on you now.

2) You need to choose another class of weapons. You have Slashing Swords, Standard Bows, Hammers, and Throwing Spears.

3) Hit Points need to be rolled when I see you next.

4) You need to choose a 2nd favored enemy - you have Goblinoids right now. Can pick: Animals, Golems, Dragons, Elementals, Giants, Orcs, Monstrous Humanoids, Undead, or Vermin

5) You have 8 skill points to apply - let me know what and where.

CAIUS AVIDIUS
Keeping with your duties as the Baron's Seneschal as well as wanting to spend some time with your wife and children, you were pleased to be able to perform your duties and training here at Shakun - spending some of your time with Zarik Ikarsbane and the rest of it honing your skills with Pelis the Rug Merchant. Most of the training was fairly simple and you found it easy to share stories and jibes with just about everyone, your easy going nature making the men and women you work with comfortable and easy to trust you.

You have grown close with Fermius, Erd, and Geld in these last weeks - many a night was spent around the hearth at the Hall keeping warm, telling tales, entertaining your children and Erd's live-in maid Jilain. A few visitors have come, some on behalf of the Baron Taugis, some on the interest of the new patrons of the soon to be opened Shakun Tannery, but most have just been friends.

Fermius has taken to his duties as Castellan for both the Tower and the Hall, and even though his left arm never healed correctly, he still holds himself with a warrior's bearing and stoic expression to the pain his twisted bones surely cause him.

As for Senna, she has heard your stories and knows that you have downplayed the danger you had faced. She keeps her council for now but at night there is sometimes a desperation to the way she holds you while sleeping.

It is the sheer amount of treasure you brought back, even after paying for all the training you had and have to go through, you still have well over 400 crowns and the same amount of silver. This brings you to 16+ pounds of coin and treasure. AND - you know that Brother Steiner and three other members of the group were headed to farflung Argosility to sell more of the treasure the party returned with and that will net you more of a share.

So you have all these riches, and besides the Hall that the family lives in, there is a Homestead in the name of the Adventuring Group that can be worked and lived on.

You know your wife wants you to be home, but the winter will end and the snows will melt, and that call in your blood will ring out and you are sure the road will beckon again. But for now, you hold her and your children at night and laugh merrily with those who come to visit.

Until Adventure calls you again.

ERDAN
You went back to you "studio" expecting either it to be filled with god knows what, burned down, or no idea. What you found was Jilain Sheepsheerer hard at work in one of the downstairs rooms on the loom where a new/used spinning wheel was now located, and a number of racks set up. She had a variety of simple garments in various states of repair and you noticed that there was now also an ironing board and a hot iron here along with a copper brazier and a 20# bucket of coals.

She's been busy. Through conversation you gathered that she borrowed another 7 crowns from the "safe" under the stairs and has been doing repairs, laundering, ironing, and other clothier duties to help supplement the income and to make herself useful to and for you. She shows you the iron box filled with copper and silver (167 and 34 respectively) and assures you that she has been working hard to make you proud.

For now, you have decided to let her continue her impromptu clothing service and assured her that she was not in trouble. Her heavy-breasted hugs once again made you uncomfortable but you did your best to placate and congratulate her on her duties.

As for your training, it's gone easy and well. Zarik was more than capable to further your skills and you shared the training with Geld which earned you a few harder than normal throws in the practice ring and at one point, a full on wooden sparring sword contact with your right hand after a purely accidental brushing of her back side.

What has been the best of your time though has been the quiet nights with your friends still here, sitting around the Hearth at the Hall of Heroes and sharing an ale with those there as well as the many visitors who have made their visits an almost regular thing. The winter months continue to plod on, and in time it'll be back out there to better the world and search for treasure. Until then, the ale is cold and the company is just fine.

ERDAN NEEDS TO DECIDE

1) You have 2 points to devote to Skills and crafts.

2) I am assuming you are continuing to keep Jilain at bay. If you feel otherwise, let me know and the 15 year old impressionable young woman will bee-line to your bed in a hot second.

FLIMFLAM
You and Taulib spent the next day gathering all the material you might possibly need for your overland trip to find Kaer Konig, borrowing Sassypants from the stabler for your manservant to ride upon. The weather held for the most part, a slight warming trend made your travel through the grasslands a muddy experience but not unduly difficult. After four hard days of travel seeing many signs of game but little sign of anything else (even the goblins seemed to be hunkering down under the 18" of snow) the heavy green line of the Endless Forest filled the horizon and you found yourselves camped @ it's borders that night.

The next day the two of you were met by a rabbit the size of Whoza who led you through the briars and deadfalls to Kaer Konig's groves. The elder druid seemed grimfaced and disturbed. He had been contact by the Greater Circle and Druidic Leader two weeks earlier about the problem with the natural balance thrown out of whack by the release of the Kraken. The followers of Gaia, Demeter, and Artemis have all agreed to band their efforts together and support their King (Zeus) in the recapture and whatever resources are needed to ensnare the Kraken once more.

The long and short of it, Kaer Konig informs you from the powers that be that Hades is planning on using this shakeup here to snag some more powers since Zeus and Poseidon (to a lesser extent) are sidetracked at this time. And since they are sidetracked, the suspicion is that other monsters from the titans will somehow find their way here up from Hades or down from Olympus at the Lord of Dead and Riches behest. So all druids have been charged to keep their eyes peeled for any monstrous beings who are seeking to expand their environs or seem to be maraudering around - and either capture, neutralize, or banish them.

Your training has been intense and rewarding, and you've come to respect the master of the 8th circle in his dealings. During your training you learned how to better control your shifting to animal form, allowing you to cast spells in that shape as long as a holy symbol is present. There is thought to possibly getting a tattoo permanently affixed of Demeter so that even if you shift form, a symbol would be available. However, it would diminish your ability to blend in as a normal animal since you would have a symbol emblazoned on you in animal form. Something to think about. Plus it would mark you as a follower of the religion and those who are against Demeter would target you because of it.

Taulib and you have also come to the realization that you are pretty weighed down. Even after allowing for training, you are sporting over 100 lbs of gear and personal belongings - it might be time to trim your personal stash and maybe see the moneylender and get your coin changed over to a higher denomination.

You Hammer of Malacite has been behaving strangely during your training and Kaer informs you that the longer you have it, the greater it's magic will grow for you. It is true that you lost a permanent plus from the spellwraith assault, but there are ways to repower it back up. A ceremony spell at the right time after using the weapon to help defeat a magical monstrous being and then bathe the hammer in the fallen's blood can reenchant the weapon - at a permanent loss to yourself. The essence that makes you up would be weakened but it is a way to restore your weapon to full power if you wish. (Charisma -1 permanent)

As it is now, at the completion of your training, your Cudgel has increased it's power up one full level (now +1, would have been +2) and now has it's first purpose revealed - the wielder is tasked as Animal Warden - meaning the owner will feel a want to protect animals more but will also get a +2 to their Empathy with said animals. According to Kaer, there is probably another increase to the cudgel in the future after you've amassed some more power, but he doesn't know what it might be.

At the end of your training you bid Kaer a fond farewell and return back to Shakun with Taulib and your companions who also (except for Hugan) seem a bit more impressive and larger. Upon returning to Shakun you will still have 14 days to yourself so if there is something else you want to do, now is the time to tell me.

FLIMFLAM needs to decide:
1) Tattoo or not? Kaer can do it - the choice is yours. No cost.

2) Anything in particular you want to buy or do while waiting for the rest of the group to reconvene?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Meet 117, Adv 6, 6/4/16

This was our last meeting for a number of reasons, the main one being that my wife gave birth shortly after this. We would be on hiatus from now until maybe the 1st or 2nd week of August. During this time the group would be emailing me back and forth on training and whatever other activities they wanted their character to accomplish over the month or so of time.

Write up follows:

We arrived at Marbledale at the end of the day before the town closed the gates, but opted to camp outside the walls in order to keep a weather eye on our wagons and their cargo. A few of us went into the town and came out with some warm food which we proceeded to share and then rested for the night.

The next morning was warmer and with the added melt the road was still snow covered but we wanted to get closer to home before too much melt turned it into a muddy bath. We drove the oxen and donkeys on with unrelenting pressure until just about 4:30 had us at the borders of Heatherfield. We established rooms for the night and then went to the Common Room where we parsed out more payment to Liscinia and Vestanus for their efforts. We then went to Liscinia’s family jeweler shop and sold some more of our gems there for ready cash, knowing we were going to get a good price. As for Vestanus, he was going to gather his family after collecting his payment and emigrate to Shakun as well.

We spent the rest of the 11th and the 12th reloading our supplies and then set out for Dairymeade on the 13th. The trip to the small Thorpe was without issue but a cold snap hit and we opted to spend the night as the freezing rain turned to snow on us. On the morning of the 15th we left Dairymeade and moved on, arriving at Timberton shortly after dusk. We grabbed a quick room and then were out after a short breakfast.

The roads were sparsely travelled at best as we made our way west, only a few lone souls trudging along. We arrived at the Roaring Treant where we were able to get our animals rested and a roof over our head, heading out on the morning of the 17th for the final 14 mile trek to home and Shakun.

We drove through Northgate and made our way to the Hall of Heroes after a month and half of being gone. Avidius’ family was thrilled to see us and we were immediately treated to a hot meal and dry clothes to change in to. Those who had made the trip with us were invited as well and we spent the night catching everyone up before heading off to sleep at long last.

On the 18th we split the last of the treasures up amongst everyone, parking a full share away for the party fund in case something was to occur in the future. But we did have many trade goods to possibly sell and there was the case of Horace’s shield to possibly sell or trade for something else. We went to the Baron where we filled the nobleman in on everything (sanitized of course) that had occurred and he verified that we had a homestead of 72 acres at our disposal should we want it.

By the end of the night a number of us were going to go off and possibly train, some of us having to leave Shakun and travel elsewhere. Steiner was definitely going to head to Argosility to make his training there and offered to take many of the statues and magic items along to get better deals for them at a more metropolitan locale.

As for the rest of us, it was midwinter and training, relaxing, and reequipping was on our mind so we were going to lay out what our plans were and then take care of them, reporting back in to the Hall if at all possible weekly (or at least by aviary) to keep the group up to date.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Meet 116, Adv 6, 5/21/16

The wrap up continued this meeting, sort of the denouement as we made the trip home. The question of the flying barge was discussed at length (the write up doesn't go into detail) but it was decided to sell the damned thing and be done with it - we're adventurers, not merchants.

Write up follows:

It was Icemonth the 6th and the party and our hirelings were exhausted after being drained by the enchanted barge as it flew us over Midway’s Crossing before landing a mile or so further downriver. Healing was dispensed and we broke for lunch, taking care of our passengers as well. We anchored on the south side of the river again to avoid any northern observance and to keep the center of the river clear since the odd tree and detritus was still shaking loose from the log jam we had flown over.

By 12 we felt better but opted to wait longer, strapping down more of the boxes and gear as well as chatting with the passengers we had saved so far. Finally, Steiner took over the barge as 2 and we continued our way eventually towards Brewer’s Bridge and home. We stayed low and near the shallows, not wanting to push the rowers and attract attention.

By 4 we were coming to view of River Watch (Last Town) and after discussing our over laden barge and the difficulty we’ve been having getting it underway as well as aloft, the decision was made not to stop or slow down, but to continue on and leave anyone still there behind. Plus, we know as Sir Balderi had garrisoned this keep and being as he was associated with the defunct leadership and guild aspects of Varohelm, it was another reason to avoid any encounters.

We took the barge up to 15’ and passed by the keep (ruined) and town (also ruined) spotting a few plumes of smoke and a half dozen or so survivors at the keep pointing to us and calling for us to stop. We pressed on and the miles drifted away. By sunset we had come upon the edge of Darkenwood and with the plains of Argos ahead of us, we once more brought the barge to anchor and rested for the night.

It took 2 more days of rowing downstream, the Black Water River showing many signs of its flooding and subsequent ebbing some days ago. There were spots where fisher’s huts and small thorps of riverfolk were just wiped away. Even now, many days later, broken trees and detritus floated its way downriver. By the afternoon of the 8th we arrived at the wrecked dock and bridges of Brewer’s Bridge.

The city had suffered from the flooding waters and from the longshoreman’s accounts, the kraken assault as well. River traffic was at a standstill, many caravans just couldn’t proceed there were almost no serviceable large barges available. Ours was nice (not to mention the fact that it could fly), but it was more for personal use and not major transport. However, given the dire needs from Brewer’s Bridge and points beyond, any transport was welcome.

The survivors of Varohelm left with our good thanks and appreciation. We left some of our people on board as we established docking protocol with the wharfmaster and the fact that we didn’t want anyone to see our treasures and goods.

What happened over the next two days was a cataloging of all the riches we had brought back and then a rough approximation of value on what we could. Shares were doled out and coins were tabulated. We left Nyssa’s body here and paid for her funerary rites, the same was done with Corane Halfblood and Dugan Fartooth. Bonus money was paid to both the porter and torchbearer and we gave them our thanks and well wishes.

Corane was going to join us on our trip back to Shakun, there being little here to keep him in place at Brewer’s Bridge. Prices were already beginning to rise and certain goods were in short supply. We did get an audience with the Viscount and after giving him a measured and cautiously omitted accounting of what had happened and what we had seen, the conversation then turned to our future.

Some dealing went on for a time and he settled on offering us a heavily reinforced wagon and oxen to make the trip home, and homesteaded us 72 acres at Shakun for a period of three years tax-free maintenance in exchange for the barge. We weren’t going to emigrate to Brewer’s Bridge so for us, it made sense.

We were then made aware of another disturbing fact – it seems that after the passing of the Kraken, the touched priests of Zeus were unable to call upon the miraculous touch of the king of the gods. In fact, the situation was much further spread than just Brewer’s Bridge according to aviaries that were still coming in. This also included the healing elixirs, draughts, and potions that filled the apothecists vaults – they simply did not have the healing effect that had once been their hallmark.

With this new information in mind we bid farewell to Brewer’s Bridge on Icemonth the 10th at 9 AM and began the trek home with our treasures, hirelings still in tow, wagon, and Sky Chariot. We hoped the weather would hold long enough for us to make Marbledale before sunset.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Meet 115, Adv 6, 5/14/16

When I wrote this adventure I knew that the "leaving" of Darkenwoods was going to be an issue for the party and that food stuffs were going to feature into it. I guess I could hand wave tracking rations and weight but I think it takes away from the game and experience. Not every adventure is find the monster, kill the monster, take his gold, repeat. I also don't want to don the actuary tables and force the group to nit pick over every minutia they run across.

I think what works here is a balance between the two and that means that the game might bog down a little as they track their food and water, torches and spikes - but it makes for a more real experience at the table. YMMV of course.

Write up follows:

We did not want to have anyone that we picked up at the ruins of Varohelm to find their way below decks so the party (and our hirelings) were going to run doubles on watch for the night, one of us top deck and the other near the stairs.

It was cold. Bitterly cold. The temperature was in the teens at best and the mist rising from the churned river coated everyone and everything with a rime of ice. As for the watch, we did note at one point a giant, over 30’ in height, approach the river from the other bank and then look around before heading towards the ruins of the once tired city upriver.

The next morning, Icemonth the 5th, had more snow falling and everyone melting and sweeping the snow off the deck. The barge was very low in the water and we feared that we’d have little room if we found other survivors. Prayers were made, spells prepared, breakfast doled out and then a bit after 8 we had Tranis take over the rudder and captain’s hat and we set off. The ranger put the barge through its paces until he was confident and then took us up to 15’ and we travelled along at a decent clip.

There was a donkey waystation up ahead that we were aiming for, hoping to find some extra food or supplies. A thin tendril of smoke was rising from the ruins of the station and a single young man in bedraggled clothes was waving frantically by a small fire at us. We landed and made our way closer before able to talk. He was Devarrin, early 20’s and had been station at the waypoint for the last 2 weeks. He described the wall of water and the destruction of the flailing tentacles and when it had passed he had survived but all his friends and co-workers had perished.

He was gathering his thoughts on heading back to Varohelm to find his family when he heard the news from us on the destruction of the city. There were a half dozen or so broken and slain donkeys here which we could hack up for much needed meat. We lowered a few of us to help out and proceeded to lift the stone and wooden debris aside while we scavenged for supplies as well as the fallen donkeys.

It was cold and wet work, numbing and difficult without real tools, but we made headway as the hours passed along. We ended up with 7 donkeys and it was after 12 when we heard calls for help coming from downriver and heading towards us. Two more people were trudging through the remains of the roadbed and were waving wildly to keep us from pushing off and leaving.

Upon finally arriving at the waystation they were two men, an older male Kaladys who had the look of a river man or river merchant about him, and the other was his manservant Fierd. They had said they escaped the destruction of Midway’s Crossing and were heading towards Varohelm to gather supplies and their families before trying to set off from Darkenwoods and leave. Once again we had to break the news and saw two more faces fall. Our concerns were about Kaladys for a bit since we seemed to have tires to the Lords of Varohelm who had given us a hard time earlier but it was obvious after some conversation that he was not high enough in their ranks to be a problem and was actually not a part of their nefarious deeds and plots.

He helped us to better utilize the loading ramp and gave the party some insight on what to do on the barge and where to find other tools and supplies. We hacked up the carcasses and spent some time pumping the bilge out to lighten the draw the barge was making. Then we made our way once more to the south side of the river (after a brief flight which enthralled the three new people we picked up) where we spent some time slicing the donkey meat up and cooking it over the braziers. The consensus was that we would wait here the entire day and leave tomorrow and try to make it to Riverwatch and Last Town.

Icemonth the 6th dawned warmed and wet, a gentle rain was falling which did bolster spirits a bit. We studied, prayed, and prepared ourselves for the day ahead and after curing two of the party members that had gotten sick during the night we were ready to set off by 8:30 that morning.

We had a rough time getting the barge off the water, it wallowed like a pig and sloshed to and fro as Tranis got us further and further off the surface. Once we hit the 15’ limit the gossamer strands once more formed between the oars and like rippling wings they seemed to help keep the barge aloft.

We tried many many different takes on this as we passed over the Black Water River, eventually discovering that twisting the oars tightened the wings and made the barge behave strangely. Some trial and error had us tighten all 8 oars and then “flap” the oars and we moved past the 15’ limit to about 25’ in height! The barge was also going faster now and those working the oars were putting some effort into it.

Tranis was able to void the bilge somehow and a spray of water left the barge, giving us more stability. Then it was time for more experimentation. We crested down and up by tilting the wings accordingly, the dives actually having us build up speed. Quite quickly. And then it was a breakthrough moment as we went up to the 25’ limit and then Tranis dove the barge and we sped along, just shy of the water we had everyone tilt back and the barge responded and lifted up at a high rate of speed and Tranis pushed us past the 25’ limit and we were soaring like a gull.

The barge shot up into the sky over the river at over 50’ in height, soaring around like a bird. Leaving the water did have us lose altitude and for those working the oars, they found it impossible to let go of their station or remove their hands – the magic of the barge keeping them in place. As the minutes ticked by their life force was slowly drained by the barge, forced into place by the “captain”. We flew over the wreckage that was Midway’s Crossing, the great bridge destroyed, buildings ruined, the docks missing. A tremendous cat was seen eating the dead and it watched us passing overhead like some wooden bird before ignoring us and returning to its grisly meal.

A tremendous log jam of hundreds of trees had formed here, blocking the river and actually seemingly lowering it beyond Midway’s. With everyone growing weaker and more tired, Tranis slowed the barge and brought us lower and lower until the keel touched the water and the wings faded, allowing everyone to let go and fall to the deck exhausted and drained. The rowing crew was exhausted and we were about 2 miles past Midway’s on Icemonth the 6th at perhaps half past 10 in the morning where we were going to wait for some time for everyone to regain their strength before continuing on our way.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Meet 114, Adv 6, 5/7/16

Before there was ever a "spelljammer" I have had enchanted and flying boats in my world. Some of them are huge, most of them smallerish. And the magic to make them is prohibitive and expensive - and sadly not at all common in any degree anymore. So at some of the larger ports you can find one if you look, but to the smaller ports and river traffic - no,, they are like unicorns.

The party has now gathered control of a 4 ton small pleasure barge. It's not made for ocean traffic, the draw is too low and it would be torn apart at any given ocean borne storm. But for river traffic, a busy river like the Black Water - it's a terrific vessel. Even without the flight, the fact that it can lift most of its bulk from the water means with the right crew you can double the distance rowed in a given day.

But it's a small barge, 35' long, 15' wide at the top deck. You will not haul 10 tons of granite and marble to Woodhelven, neither could you ship cedar for the noble's manor houses in Titestory, and you can't move 400 head of sheep from Riverton to Brewersbridge with the barge.

So its uses are limited but still plentiful. And what the group does with it is their own business. Do they turn into business men? Keep it? Sell it? Commission it? That remains to be seen, but its been the conversation for 2 meetings so far and I suspect that as we get closer to our civilization, the group will become polarized and settle on one course of action soon.

Write up follows:

The party watched the wall of water racing away down the Black Water River, the flailing Kraken riding it until it was lost in the mist of falling snow. When the current calmed down enough and the small dammed lake had shrunk some we maneuvered the barge towards the center and dropped anchor to discuss what had happened and how we were going to address it.

No matter what, none of us were ever going to say anything to anyone that we had “done” anything. It wasn’t us, and it happened. Not our hirelings, not our henchmen, not passerby’s or bards or lords or anyone. No one.

But we also felt we HAD to warn someone, somewhere. The Black Water River was over 350 miles long from here to Titestory and the Mastelic Ocean. There had to be a dozen locations along the river one of which was Woodhelven to say nothing about maybe scores of smaller homes and thorps as well. And they were all in danger from a billion gallons of water and the enraged and released mythical beast.

Marcus still had one Sending scroll remaining from our time at Candlewick Keep and we decided that we should use it and warn someone. Marcus told us that the scroll would allow him to contact one person that he knew on this plane of existence. And the message couldn’t be long, perhaps 10 or 11 words not counting smaller filler words (a, the, and, or, it, etc..). We talked about all our people and who to contact and settled on the High Priest of Poseidon at Elven Keep.

He was not situated at the river (actually perhaps 25 or so miles away from it) but would be best placed to get a warning out to many of the locations along the Black Water River and hopefully in time. We wrote the message again and again, until it was as concise as possible and still avoided mentioning who we were (the spell would give the “voice” of the sender, but we assumed that it had been some time since we had seen the High Priest that he should not be able to readily identify Marcus’ voice). Upon satisfaction, the scroll was read, the words turned to fire and dust, and then Marcus read off the sentence and we were confident the High Priest received the Sending.

We then piloted the barge down river towards Castle Sterling and eventually pulled it as close to the castle as we could. The passage of the river had torn the swamp away, stripped every plant we could see on both banks, and tore up the ground and land all about. The river here was now less deep but wider, the banks more defined and much closer to the castle. We heard calls from above and the leaning tower showed Liscinia waving towards us and the call went out to open the main gates.

Once inside we got wind of what transpired in our absence. Horace had been knocked from the tower and sent careening into the frothing river where he was lost. Nyssa was crushed by falling stones and was killed instantly. Fermius had been caught as well but was still hanging on, his left arm broken in four places and his shoulder blade shattered. We dispensed healing, rounded up the donkeys, and led everyone into the Castle itself and lit a fire in the grand fireplace.

We talked, there were 14 of us now plus our animals. We were going to be leaving tomorrow after we had stretched out our food supplies from the gardens and Demeter’s blessing. We were going to take the Sky Chariot, what crates and chests we could, some other furnishings, and then leave this place and try our luck down river. It was going to be difficult with the passing of the flood and the Kraken, but everyone was going to have to pitch in and do their part.

We went down to the basement and unlocked the rooms, taking all the wine we could find as well as the 8 coffers of coins. We then went back to the vault and after opening it, took the 40 crystal statues crating them up as well. Everything was loaded onto the Chariot and strapped in place. Then we went through the dining room furnishings and picked the best dining table and set of chairs we could get. A quick walk through the upstairs rooms had us look over what we could there and then by 9 PM we settled down and got some sleep for the big day tomorrow.

Icemonth the 4th had everyone up and we broke our fast. A check outside showed we had a cold snap, with the weather hitting the low teens or single digits during the night. A gentle repose was cast upon the shrunken head of the Beholder and again on Nyssa to preserve both their bodies for the trip home. We expected 4 days to get back to Brewersbridge but that was with the river passable. For right now we couldn’t guarantee that.

Most of us worked on loading the barge, dragging a path through the almost 2 feet of snow to the river bank and the barge. From there we used the loading ramp and other timber from the castle as a ramp to allow us to maneuver the chariot onto the deck. Then we brought it into the cargo hold and strapped it down. From there it was hours of cold back bending labor to get everything else we wanted from the Castle.

While this was going on, Flimflam was at the gardens with the rest of the group where he cast Plant growth on our partially planted potatoes, tripling out food reserves from 2 to 5 days for the time being. It took hours to properly harvest what we planted and then bag it up and get it loaded on the barge. Tranis and Steiner swapped off a few times to give more than one person practice in captaining the vessel. But it was 1:45 in the afternoon when the last of the materials were stowed and we were set to sail off.

We were going to have most everyone row with the exception of Steiner (piloting), Fermius (1 arm working, would instead spot and call issues in the river ahead), Tranis (to swap with Steiner and offer his own help with Fermius) and Flimflam (who was too short to properly row, would instead keep the beat for those who weren’t). As soon as we set off we noted that Erd, Dugan, Viridia, and Taulib were tiring too easy so we made it possible for those four to swap off with one another in order to keep the barge moving.

As we rowed away we did note something different this time along. Since all 8 spots had rower and all 8 oars were working, what seemed to be white gossamer webbing began to stretch between the oars, growing thicker and more opaque as time went on. It didn’t impede the rowing and Steiner still kept the barge out of the water until only the keel and rudder were actually on the water. It was magical but we didn’t know what the effect was at this time.

The river had been scoured clean as we sailed, straightened and smoothed from the passage of the wave yesterday. Every so often we came upon a tree that had been uprooted and plowed into the bank some distance away. The road that had run along the river was gone, nothing was left to even show its existence.

As we sailed along the rippling white wings had the group thinking and Steiner once more concentrated on getting the boat up. And this time – it lifted entirely free of the water and rose with majesty until the keel was 15’ above the surface of the river. We couldn’t get it any higher, but this was just outstanding as far as the group was concerned. And it was for the best because we were coming up to where the great bridge had once stood that spanned the river on this side of Helm Lake. It was gone now, only a few stone spars were along the land to mark where it once stood. And a large concentration of the trees that had been ripped up and sent downstream had ended up here, causing a logjam of broken branches and muddy limbs that blocked the way into the lake and choked off the other portion of the river that lead to Ridgecamp and Mt. Ada.

Steiner guided us over the log jam with Tranis and Fermius calling out direction changes as need be. We picked out way along until we were once more over Helm Lake and were able to procced. The group wanted to stay on the south side of the Lake to avoid anyone near Varohelm from seeing us before we could meet up with them or be ready. Steiner did try guiding the barge over land (at 15’ in height) but the barge did slow down and rowing was difficult – so it was possible but not too likely.

We rowed our way along the south shore until the lake grew narrow again and was returning to a river once more. And from here we could see Varohelm. The low lying city was in ruins. It was apparent that the water had raced down and filled the city like a bowl, drowning many and toppling building and homes like playing pieces. The wall held but was bowed out in places. The land was a torn mess. The docks were gone, boats were smashed to splinters. And the choke point where the lake dumped into the river was a tangled mess of spars, limbs, buildings, floating dead, and wreckage – making any passage beyond almost a ridiculous impossibility. Steiner would have to sail over it and even then we would most likely have to pick the barge through the mess with exaggerated care.

And then we heard cries for help. From the broken remains of Varohelm their voices called out and we could see them emerging from the ruins and broken buildings. By ones and twos, they held their hands out and ran or stumbled towards the water. Some were men, others women, and even a few kids. It was cold, the temperate was just a nick over 20, and it was after 4 in the afternoon. Steiner didn’t want to leave. Neither did Erd, or Avidius. Others were also saying it was cruel to go on. Flimflam was trying to get people to realize that the barge was full now and taking on what seemed to be 15 or maybe 20 more people might mean we couldn’t sail – to say nothing of taking off the water’s surface which we would need to do to clear the terrible 1/8th of a mile jam and wreckage field before us.

We decided to land and Steiner guided the barge until we were 250’ or so from the shore where the docks used to be. A few had gathered there already and climbing on floating debris, began poling and paddling their way towards us. But there were many still on shore who could not do that. And the water was cold, icy death cold.

Steiner stood on the edge of the barge and called to Apollo to make his steps buoyant – and then stepped out of the boat and WALKED on the water. A breeze blew from below him and where his feet touched the surface a wave of white light rippled out. To everyone there, they were stunned to submission. He then proceeded to jog across the water to the shore, passing those floating out to “keep moving, hurry!”. He then made the shore, asked for two of the kids to be handed to him, and walked the two children back across the lake to the barge. It was miraculous to everyone.

Within 30 minutes we had gathered the 20 survivors and heard their terrible tale about the water and the death and then the tentacles from the Kraken that feasted on those still alive before it moved on and went down river. Steiner was looked at with reverence and awe and thanked constantly. Blankets and warm clothes were passed around and the party decided that they didn’t want any of the Varohelmians to go below decks to the cargo area and see anything we had already gotten. We would save them, but not necessarily trust them since we did not know then or who they were before the attack.

The barge was laden down and once everyone was in place and the oars were manned we managed to get up some speed and then slowly…so slowly…lifted out of the water. A well placed blessing from Flimflam on Steiner was enough to bolster the flagging priest and the barge lifted free until it was once again sporting the rippling white curtains against the oars and hovering at 15’ in height.

We passed over the wreckage and were back once more over the river as we pressed on southward. We sailed on until the sun had gone down and the evening was turning to night and we didn’t trust our ability to see. We settled back to the water’s surface and then coasted to the south side of the river and out of the main current (the odd trees were still floating down stream and we didn’t want any of them to hit the barge during the night).

As for food – our supposed stores that were going to get us home were suddenly in peril with 20 more mouths to feed – most of them had little or nothing to eat already during the day. We looked over all we had and the porters reminded us that we had almost 50 lbs. of what had been skink meat in the travel chests. Now that we had returned to normal size, the meat had grown as well. It was cold and rough, chewy and difficult to swallow – but it was a welcome sight to those who had nothing and were saved by our passing.

So here it was, 7:30 PM on Icemonth the 4th, about 2 miles downriver from Varohelm, on a pleasure barge we salvaged from Castle Sterling’s former inhabitants, its magic allowing us to sail over the wreckage so far, in the dark and with 20 people we saved from hypothermia and starvation from the ruined city of Varohelm. And we still had so much further to go before we were out of Darkenwoods.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Meet 12, Adv B2, 4/26/16 - Youth Group

D&D groups take a while to gel. Not every friend you have is going to fit at your table. It’s acceptable to try people out and maybe see if it’s a good fit or not. My daughter and her friend have both admitted they would like another person at the table but I have heard them both also grow frustrated that the 3rd person they invited doesn’t take it as serious or with the same gravitas that they do.

So when they found out that we were going to do a game on Spring Break, and I would let them play later and longer, they were excited at the opportunity. But I was then consulted by my young one that they would not be telling or inviting the 3rd back for this meeting.

My advice was to at least let her know, because it sucks when your friends get together and you are not invited. I was assured it’s not a problem and she would take care of it, but the voice inside my head tells me that the two of them didn’t let the 3rd person know.

As for the game, there was much LARPing at the table for the first part as we dug through the problem the group has had the last few meetings and what our plans were to get into the orcish area.

From my side of the screen, the game was much better, tighter, coherent, and focused. So perhaps they know what they’re doing regarding their third. I hope they can find a better third to sit with them in the future. 

Write up follows:

The party arrived back at the Keep a bit after the 2nd bell on Airmonth the 4th and made our way wearily through the front gates. The guards were happy and surprised to see us so soon but on seeing the foul expression on Loq’s face, they backed off and let us continue our way.

Loq had calmed down some, but the party knew the cleric was right. We had to focus and really plan out our next move. Randomly wandering the caves and hoping it all works out was a recipe for disaster; coupled with the party’s lax attitude and lack of concern at times. We assured him we’d be ready tomorrow at 8 and we’d see about hiring a few locals to come with us.

Proserpine just sort of wandered away at the end of the conversation, telling the party she was going to find some of the other elves here at the keep and reconnect with her own kind for a day. Too much “human” drama.

William and Charlotte sighed and then the two friends made their way to the inn where they took a central table and ordered some food and ale. From there they talked about the group, the loan they owe the Lord, Loq’s complaint, and Proserpine. They discussed for a while but admitted they needed to do something different and that the Cleric was right.

So then it was a matter of choices – continue in the orc caves and find some pay off there, head back to the goblin caves (which they swore they would do at some point) and get revenge, or head further into the complex of caverns and try their luck at what had been referred to as more difficult terrain. After weighing all the pros and cons, they wanted to stay with the orc caves.

The issue was there were two orcish caves, from two different tribes (according to local lore). And it was known that these two tribes do occasionally raid each other. Perhaps there was a way to incite one tribe against the other? That would mean they would have to go and find the 2nd tribe, try not to get into a fight, make their way to the leader/chief/altern and propose a mutual joining of forces.

This all sounded great but it was fraught with many dangers and concerns. But since the two friends were talking quite a bit and loud enough for normal conversation which attracted the attention of two men at a nearby table. We went over to talk to them and learned that they were willing to go with us after any orcs we might be interested in hunting. They appeared to be in their late 20’s or early 30’s, and had a hard angle to them. One was named George and the other didn’t identify his name, wanting to be referred to as “Sir”. They were both adherents to Zeus and were willing to come with us only if our target was the orcish caves. Otherwise, they were willing to pass.

We left and returned to our table, discussing their merit before shelving it for now. We wanted to see about maybe finding any other fighter types and maybe someone who doesn’t set off our “creep” radar. The innkeeper said he would set the word out and by dinner time, we had three fighters willing to go out with us the next day. The first one we discounted immediately as it was obvious from his bearing and demeanor that we was fairly well experienced and would cost more than our depleted pouches could afford.

So we interviewed the two remaining fighters: an early 20’s chainmail wearing swordsman named Hanken, and a younger 16 year old neophyte named Luis. After talking we were happy with Hanken (concerned about his lesser armor, but he did admit that his last group did not fare well and this was all he had – hoping to find another group and rebuild his fortunes) but not so comfortable with Luis’ experience (he was very honest about his lack of formal skill and that this would be his first foray anywhere, plus he spoke often about Poseidon and how the god guided him it was giving us a ill-feeling). Hanken was willing to take a normal pay and cut but Luis was so earnest and willing that he cut down on his initial outlay if we would just take him with us.

So we agreed, we’d hire them both for tomorrow and see how it went.

The morning of the 5th was cool and sunny when we met with Loq, told him of the two new hirelings, and then met with Hanken and Luis. Once introductions were finished we gathered our belongings and headed out to the caves. We talked amongst ourselves and learned some of our past but everyone was on point and ready when we arrived at the caves. We stumbled upon a campsite currently empty, and then kept going to the caves. Was there another group here? Maybe ahead of us? We were going to keep a weather eye out for other adventurers.

We approached the orcish cave and made our way up the slope of the ravine, stopping outside to listen in. Somewhere we heard odd echoes and banging as if combat coming from the cave. Distant though. No one was near, so William lit a torch and we entered with care.

The combat sounds were louder and coming from somewhere else. Orcish voices were roaring and we guessed both tribes might be fighting with one another. We looked in the first guardroom to the right and saw it empty, then we crept to the left and before entering the “dining room” from the other day, went north and to the right – heading to what seemed to be another guard room. Some discarded playing cards and a stool knocked over showed that this was abandoned and recently. There was an alcove to the right covered with a heavy grey burlap curtain where someone could hide and peer down the entrance. That’s how they knew we were here before.

At this point there were more orcish voices and then the sound of retreat and pursuit as some of the orcs were running for the exit with others close behind. We stayed quiet down the far corridor, not wanting to engage what sounded like a damn lot of orcs.

We heard them then return and eventually go on their way back to their places in the complex. But it was a bit surprising when 4 of them came around the corner and stopped to stare at us.

Two seconds later it was spears and swords and arrows flying about.

We wanted Luis to stay back if at all possible since William and Hanken seemed to be the more experienced fighters, but the follower of Poseidon wouldn’t be stopped and instead lunged around and to the left of the alcove, slamming the full length of his sword into one of the orcs and dropping him in 6 seconds flat. Holy crap!

Hanken and William assaulted the next one hamstringing him while a third drove his spear though the gap in William’s platemail. Our fighter was choking on his own phlegm and bleeding when Loq called to Ares and healed Loq back to full with a single touch.

And both orcs turned to run. As they were escaping Luis plucked a spear from a fallen orc and hurled it one of the turning ones, hitting him in the shoulder and the last one was dropped from assaults by both other fighters and Charlotte’s begrudging use of arrows.

Three down, one escaped and calling for reinforcements.

Nowhere to retreat. William wanted us to run for the entrance now but Loq seemed interested in staying but and Luis was shocked at any call to retreat. So we dragged the three bodies into a line blocking the hall and a flask of oil was lit just when SIX orcs came around the corner now – one of them the one we had wounded earlier. Startled at so many orcs coming we fumbled our throw and the burning flask of oil smashed into the wall to our right near the bodies of the stacked up orcs we had killed.

Luis dragged the curtain from the wall and slathered up the oil while the party took up defensive line and Charlotte shot the lead charging orc in the face with her bow. One of the orcs hurled a spear and we thought it was going to skewer Hanken but the chainmail wearing fighter showed he was much nimbler than we expected as he twisted and gyrated out of the spear’s path. The curtain now wet with oil we dragged it on the dead orcish barricade as spears were thudding into it, William flung the spears out of the dead bodies behind us, and then the oily cloth was set alight and blocked the charging orcs from hitting us.

Charlotte wounded another one and the orcs were throwing spears at us through and over the fire – nor hitting more than shields and walls. Luis once more called to Poseidon and AGAIN, his blow caught an orc in the chest killing it in a single toss!

William and Hanken returned fire and the orcish group whittled down as they hit the far end of the barrier. One of them tried to pry a body out of the way to make it easier to assault us but Luis AGAIN single shotted the closest orc. And this broke the morale of the orcs again who tried to flee. We killed one of them, engaged the second in combat, and the last and furthest one, the same one we had wounded earlier, was making his escape when he was shot in the leg and fell over with a crash – but managed to crawl around the corner and continue his call for help.

So here it was, after 11, all the orcs but one who faced us dead, and the lone survivor escaped death twice and was calling for help. We were feeling stoked and wanted to carry the fight forward and into the orc cave while they were not expecting it and hopefully demoralized.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Meet 11, Adv B2, 3/20/16 - Youth Group

The group did not have much focus this meeting. With the warming weather and one of the members more interested in flirting with the lone boy at the table, it was more of a “hang out” with D&D on the table than a D&D meeting. As the next person here with 30+ years on the group, I was willing to run this for my daughter but lamented the fact that I missed out on 3 hours of doing whatever I needed to do around the house on the Sunday.

It’s part of why the NPC eventually read the group the riot act when they were wrapping up and let them know that their actions and lack of good choices affect a lot more than just themselves.

Write up follows:

So the group was discussing with the orcs hiding down the right corridor their terms of surrender, hoping to avoid any further combat since they were already spilling hit points and had not really gotten too far as of yet throughout the complex. But the party was hyper-vigilant and when it became obvious the orcs were stalling for time the group went to charge in and got a few spears tossed at them for their efforts.

The largest green-skin doing the talking was targeted by Proserpine who blasted him in the face with a magic missile, allowing William to go running in and engage the remaining two orcs at close combat. One tried to make an escape but was shot in the back by Charlotte and then it was just butcher time for the party to end the last of the orcs.

We paused after the fight, heard that our combat didn’t seem to carry too far through the complex, and then went through the orcs’ belongings. There weren’t much. We split the handful of coins and everyone took a pile of spears knowing we could sell them back at the Keep.

Then it was time to discuss…do we press on through the orc caves or do we go back? It was a lively discussion and the end of it was that the …6 crowns we had found per person and the three or four spears did not constitute enough of a haul to make our return to town worthwhile. We should press on and try to find another small cache of orcs and maybe with luck, some treasure to bring back.

We lit a lantern and traveled back to the original “T” intersection, this time pressing on to the left. There were a few side passages but the cavern eventually opened up to a large chamber equipped with a number of tables and benches – more than enough to seat 20 or so. There were a few other passages out of here but they were across the chamber and from the western most archway, we could hear orcish voices (many many of them) as well as some wavering torchlight and shadows from the room beyond.

There was talk about engaging the foes and also talk about not facing them but going to one of the other archways and further corridors to see what was there. However the decision was taking some time and for some reason Charlotte decided to take matters into her own hands. She ran up to one of the tables, vaulted on top, and called out, “Hey! Anyone here? We want to talk!”

Which alerted well over a dozen orcish voices from the western corridor; and we heard the scrape of metal and wood as we assumed they grabbed weapons and were coming out to face us. Loq cursed up a storm followed by William and the cleric and fighter ran for the cavern exit. Charlotte scrambled off the table and her and Proserpine raced along next, the howls and grunts of the pig-faced orcs growing louder as they gave chase.

The party hit the exit and then skittered down the slope to the floor of the ravine before turning to the east and racing for the tree line. Orcs ran out into the sun to follow us and a few kept of the chase for a little bit but we had already outdistanced their spear throws and left them behind as we panted and gasped our way into the underbrush.

Once we were sure to be safe the party fell to bickering about the bad choices we had been making and the fact that we just ran from the caves with almost nothing to show for it. The cleric, Loq, was the loudest, complaining that there was no way we was going to be able to pay off the Lord his loan and the 10% interest with only 6 crowns to his name. If the party was going to continue to behave this recklessly and this poorly, then he was going to have to let them know he was not going to go with them again AND would be letting the other wanna-be adventurers at the Keep know how poor this party was to go exploring with. Charlotte was cowed and apologetic and promised that this wouldn’t happen again.

With a backwards sigh the party turned away from the Caves and started the long trek back to the Keep to rest up and discuss what the morrow was going to bring.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Meet 113, Adv 6, 4/23/16

I like to use as much source material as I can for my world and the area we are in now is pretty Greek/Roman and set just after the height of the Greecian Hero age (whatever the heck that is!!).

The settled eastern section of the Duchy is sort of like Hellenic Athens with towers and columns and marble and civilization everywhere - while the west is more proto-typical D&Dish mish-mash of eras/cultures - frontier-like at best.

But one of the things I do like to do is make sure the world and culture the group adventures in is typical of the area.

Unleash the Kraken.

I had the Kraken plucked by Erazmus some time ago and kept out of sight until the wizard-lord would think to need it. Lulled into slumber by three lake hags whose job it is to keep it somnolent two of the hags had left or are missing after Erazmus' death and the one remaining was killed by the party. Her death awoke the Kraken but it was still limited and cannot go anywhere. Awake but bored and disinterested from decades plus of forced slumber and ensconcing in the lake.

And then the group dropped the dam. Which energized the area and released the Kraken.

This is a world event for this area and I've spent the last week or so fleshing out the time line and impact from this release and how it's going to affect the Kingdom, trade, and im/emigration for the short and mid term foreseeable future.

Write up follows:

It was almost 2 PM on Icemonth the 3rd and most of the original group had crossed the small dammed lake north of Castle Sterling to investigate the Dam Control House situated there while the remaining members and hirelings/henchmen were still at the Castle clearing out the garden beds in effort to stretch our existing food stores. We climbed off the single masted sloop and picked our way over the snow covers swampy ground until we found ourselves at the dam house.

The entire building was made of stone and constructed as part of the dam itself. The ground sloped heavily away from here and we could hear the icy water as it rushed over the top and sluiced down to the frothing river below. There were no windows on this side and we didn’t find any other way to enter.

After verifying the front door was closed and not locked (no key hole), we did discover it was held and most likely stuck in place. So it took a few of us prying, banging, and bashing at the door before something cracked from the other side and the portal scraped open.

Which sadly released for us a terribly horrific female figure. She was almost 7’ tall, white and blue veined watery skin and algae colored hair. Her mouth was a torn black and red gash in the center of her face and as she emerged a horrible keening filled the air where two of the party dropped to their knees in agony, ear bleeding and the rest of us rocked back as if stunned. She then turned and tried to run for the lake.

Steiner was able to keep his wits about him and before she could reach the water as she scrambled through the snow he called to Apollo and a blast of black paralytic energy flew from his hand and slammed into her – stunning her and freezing her limbs as she was held and then fell over onto her face. The screaming stopped, only a whistling noise was heard from her compressing throat. The group that could still move ran up to the hag, turned her over, and dropped axe and sword on her neck until her head fell away.

Some first aid was administered at this time but while we were on the shore, we noticed in the center of the lake a silent and eerie 10’+ long tentacle rise up, flop over and come back down. What the hell? We watched and it didn’t repeat, so with Erd keeping a careful lookout we approached the dam house.

The upper floor was empty but you could tell that at one point there were furnishings here. The floor was damp, and we could see three bodies hanging from the ceiling, heads removed, arms missing, and strips of flesh chewed up and taken away. Ugh.

There was a set of round stairs going down and we approached. It was dark so a light spell was cast on a rock and then dropped down. There was some sort of seaweed about halfway down and it was still moist. We descended with caution and when we got to the weeds, we knocked them further down the circular steps until at long last we arrived at the lower level.

There were some bones here and torn bits of clothing, the odd shoe. Two windows looked out into the lake and the room smelled damp and musty. A 5’ diameter circle of stained stone was on the far wall and the side wall was covered in a variety of levers, wheels, and other controls which we assumed worked the dam. A detect magic spell revealed that two of the wheels were very magical and that the drawn circle on the wall was also radiating some arcane energy.

We talked about options and decided that this might be beyond our skills and knowledge – we should get Marcus. From here we heard Erd calling out to us that the tentacle had come back again and that something was going on with the hag’s body. When we emerged once again to the sun the tentacle had gone but the hag had begun to rot very quickly, her body turning into a slurry of blue and pink froth and sloughed from her bones. And from where she had died, her form was heading for the lake. Tranis and Steiner tried to dig a trench ahead of the rotting hag but realized it wouldn’t stop it for long. So the decision was made to move the rotting body and with nowhere else to move it, they each took shovels and began scooping up chunks of the hag and slinging them into the open door of the dam house.

The gory disgusting work went on for 3 scoops until the rotting hag devoured something of the shovels and both adventurers were left holding a 3’ length of wood with a handle. Forget it, just leave it for now.

We climbed back on the boat and decided that going back into the lake was most like a stupid assed idea. What was the tentacle? We don’t know and didn’t want to find out. The thought was that the sloop can go overland and we were going to steer it down the slope and to the other side of the dam and then river where we would sail to the castle and then cross the river there.

It took Steiner some effort to getting the ship to move and it sluggishly went around the dam house, towards a safer section of the ground, and furrowed its way down the 30 degree angle slope. However the boat was slowing and slowing and then sort of..stopped. We were on a boat that was now listing to port, 80’ from the river, pointed sort of downhill and no longer moving as per magic. We checked the box with the heart – it was still there. The metal rock banded to the transom? Still in place. The bilge? Opened it up and it was faintly odorous and bare except for the bilge water down there.

The boat was “feline” based as per Flimflam, so did it need to eat? There was no obvious mouth anywhere and we thought about dragging it overland towards the river – 5 men, 1 woman dragging a sloop across over a foot deep snowy swampy ground. This was not going to easy if at all possible. Flimflam went through his back and found an animal femur he had been carrying for some time. He looked down and through the open bilge tossed the femur into the water within.

Nothing seemed to happen and then the femur began to hiss and dissolve as the water seemed to eat it. It grew pocked and pitted and then sunk beneath the inky water. To Steiner, the body groaned, righted itself a few feet, crawled forward a foot, and then settled back in place.

We needed to feed the boat.

The bodies in the dam house up the hill.

So three of us trudged their way back up the hill through the snow, picked their way past the rotted chunks of the hag’s flesh, lifted the decapitated bodies from their hooks in the rafters, and dragged them outside once again in order to bring them back to the boat. All the way Geld and Avidius were disgusted and questioning the right of what we were doing. Who were they? The hag had eaten them but where did they come from? Was this an evil act? Taking the bodies and willingly feeding them the bilge of the Sloop?

We pulled the bodies up on deck and a few words were said, then the bodies were lifted over the narrow bilge opening and shoved in one at a time, wiggling them back and forth to clear the sides until they splashed one at a time to the water. Then the miracle occurred twice more where both bodies were first skeletonized and then the bones were devoured in a few minutes.

We all got back on the boat, drew ourselves together (the scout and henchman still really bothered by what just happened) and Steiner got the sloop to obey his controls again. The sail filled up and the sloop righted and dragged its way through the earth until we were down the slope before we turned back to the river and entered it with a splash of joy. The sloop was then piloted towards Castle Sterling where we draped it up on land past where the former landing pier once was. Liscinia was on the top of the tower, waved to us, and yelled down the courtyard to let us in.

Once all together again it was decided that we head back to the lake, get the barge, and try to open the dam to allow us to take the barge off the lake as well. There was also that code that had been scratched in the flop desk and we assumed that was what would lower the dam. Also, we wanted Marcus to come with us since he had a better handle on magic over anyone else and he might be able to tell us what the circle on the wall was for as well as the two wheels that were radiating magic. Geld was very put off about the people eating boat and opted to stay. We split up the 12 people still here with half at the gardens and the rest at the tower getting it ready for tonight.

It was almost 4 when the party returned to the dam (Erd, Marcus, Steiner, Tranis, Flimflam, and Avidius) and we then trudged back to the boathouse and made our way inside. We all boarded the barge and opened the door. There was no tentacle but the group was very observant and concerned. We took the barge out with 4 people rowing and made our way near the dam and to the opposite shore. Once here we disembarked and tied up the barge at a stand of cypresses as well as tossing the anchor overboard.

Steiner opted to stay on the boat at the rudder while the rest of us made our way to the dam house and inside. We returned to the bottom stairs and then had Marcus check everything out. The circle on the wall was most like translocation but he was unsure how to operate it. And the two wheels were numbered 1 to 10 and had to do with earth magic.

We tested the wheels a bit. The left one seemed to raise and lower the sluice gates, making the river rise and fall accordingly. Erd stayed up top and was yelling down to us what the effect was. The right wheel didn’t do anything BUT we noted that if the right wheel was turned to a number first, turning the left wheel to the same number did NOT adjust the height of the river.

We discussed entering the code (4763) with both wheels and decided to do it. But who would? It was settled on Avidius taking the chance while the rest of us retreated to the barge and got ready for anything. They climbed on board, left the rope ladder hanging over the edge, and four of them went down below decks to man 4 of the oars.

Avidius entered the code, right wheel then left wheel, one number at a time and then the last one was turned in place.

There was a crack of thunder and roar. Clouds filled the sky and swirled over the center of the lake. Lighting struck down and smote the surface of the lake.

The dam seemed to have disappeared and the lake was emptying at a phenomenal rate into the river, swelling the bank and sending millions of gallons of water racing downstream. Avidius was running up the stairs and out of the dam house where his friends on the barge were yelling at him to hurry. He hurled himself up the rope and the anchor was raised as the barge swung wildly on the new current.

But it was the vision of the tentacle monstrosity that was lifting itself from the center of the lake and moving with fast speed towards the former dam. Its bulk rose higher and tremendous squid like kraken arched over the bounding water and rode the rising swell downriver past the party’s stunned gaze, The oars were digging in and keeping us to the diminishing shallows for now as the lake dumped itself down.

But it was the sight of the kraken tumbling/galumphing/rolling/swarming down the Black Water River that captured everyone’s attention. We watched from our position as its tentacles reached out and slammed into Castle Sterling, crumbling one of the towers, ruining the south wall, and slamming into the next tower where we could see figures falling from it. Figures that were our people still there.

We still could not risk the dam as the current would most likely rip the barge to shreds so we had to wait it out and watch as the kraken soared down the river along with perhaps a billion gallons plus of lake water on its way…to Helm Lake.

And Varohelm.

And points beyond.

What have we done?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Meet 112, Adv 6, 4/16/16

The party came upon a section of the adventure that I had written in as a lark but is not needed for the adventure itself. It's got a bit more powerful enemies and issues with it, plus there is the possibility for some world changing effects if they follow it to the end.

My favorite part though are the enchanted boats - one's a barge, the other a sloop. Both obviously royal in line and design, well maintained and fancifully carved, the type of ship you could picture any well heeled noble to own.

And they both can kick ass. Right now they are still learning about them but if they can figure out how best to drive them, they have some wonderful things at their fingertips and under their boots.

Write up follows:

With the snowfall continuing we were unwilling to risk leaving now or soon and went over our food stores, which were pitiful. Two days, tops? There was talk about clearing out the former garden bed along the courtyard and planting the potatoes while Flimflam performed a plant growth spell on them. This would triple the potato portion of our rations after a couple of spells and should give us another two days at the end of all things.

But where do we go? Back to Varohlem and face the Baron? Lie to him about what we found or just bow to the agreement we made and give him half? What about if he tried to take it all? Could we risk taking the river all the way and not running into problems? None of us were boatmen and we’d have to either steal one or pay off someone else to take us, and the rivermen were all pretty tight and connected to the Baron.

What about skipping Varohelm and going overland? That would mean we’d have to risk the giant cats and the Reisenvald that wander the woods. There were also according to the locals the former orc enclave to the north near Stormbringer Peak and the other wizard’s former base. Do we go there? How does the Skychariot fit in? We’d need horses to run it properly but we didn’t have any and the people of Varohelm had ponies, oxen, and donkeys. Not going to help us much.

We mulled these over for almost an hour while the snow fell and then split up the party a bit with a number of the people slogging to the courtyard and clear off the snow to start tearing the old planting beds apart. Steiner, Geld, Tranis, Flimflam, Avidius, and Erd were going to head river to what we could see at the limit of visibility was some sort of lake and seemed to a small falls that fed the river here. Marcs was left in charge and the rest of the group was working hard to bring the gardens out in the open.

We trudged out of Castle Sterling, the bar dropping in place as we walked away. We stayed near the river but not too close where we might fall in or slip, the snow billowing against our faces, a trail forming in the foot deep plus drifts. It took us almost 25 minutes to walk to 1/3 of a mile across the snow covered swampy ground, the land sloping up as we went further uphill and towards the lake. We could see the river was blocked by an ancient dam of fitted stones. It was wide, 70’ or so, and the top had water running over the 8’+ width of the stones there. We could not tell how tall the dam was but we assumed it was over 30’ based upon the depth of the river here.

The space beyond the dam was blocked up, forming a lake roughly a quarter mile wide by a half mile long. Abutting the dam on the far shore was a squat house of formed stone, maybe 25’ square, and a couple of small windows looking out. We could risk getting there by crossing the top of the dam but the rushing water and freezing temperature made everyone uncomfortable with that idea.

On our side of the lake, another 2-300’ beyond the dam was a leaning boathouse. From here we could see the doors were still closed and the roof although sagging, still seemed sound. With little conversation, we headed to the boathouse to check it out. There were two doors to enter but were currently closed and choked with snow. So we used our shovels and then crowbars to pry the door open and finally peer inside.

The boathouse was roughly 100’ wide and 50’ deep, with most of it constructed so it was actually built over the lake. Over the years it had settled slightly and leaned into the lake. There were three docks inside and 2 boats tied up to them. One was a single masted sloop that would seat 6 or 7, and the other was a 3 ton travel barge, rear ruddered and looked like 8 rowers from below decks to power it. The group decided the check out the barge first. Getting on it was difficult since the pier was in poor shape and the landing ramp was down the end of the pier. Flimflam dared it and Avidius used Darkblade to port himself onto the deck of the barge. Together the two friends then dragged the landing ramp onboard and then thrust it over the back of the barge to the back of the boathouse.

Everyone now on board we looked around. The deck was gritty and dirty, but the ropes, anchors, and poles and gaffs were put away properly. There was a set of steps going down to the cargo hold and the center of the deck did lift away to drop cargo below this way. We went below, the ceiling was only 6’ and most of us had to duck. A set of hammocks and a simple galley was near the bow, and towards the back was the captain’s quarters. We looked in and noted it was pretty empty and sodden from over a decade of poor weather.

The mattress was a mess and the papers had all turned to pulp. There was a flop-desk near the aft but the blotter that once sat on it was now gone. Scratched into the wood were the numbers “4763” which we noted. There was a foot locker that was still sealed and inside was the barge captain formal dress: shirt, pants, hat, and boots. The bottom of the footlocker was not level with the ground and some digging and prying had us lift it and reveal a handful of gold and silver coins as well as a number of fancy stones. Nice.

As for the captain’s belongings, Steiner and Avidius got into a good natured back and forth on who owns it with the priest claiming the medallioned tri-corner hat as his own and refused to take it off. All that was left was to check out the bilge and for that we made our way to the front of the cargo deck and lifted the bilge hatch. It was dark down there, and the odor wasn’t that bad. A quick light was used and we saw the bilge area was about 18” tall above water and minimal decking which was a single length of wood that ran the length of the keel into the darkness of the ship. The water was dark and we guessed perhaps a foot or so deep. No one wanted to touch it.

Flimflam volunteered to crawl the length of the bilge and make sure nothing was down there so he made his way within, and on hands and knees, crawled along the boards towards the back of the ship. It was while he was almost there that he noted a box on the decking against the back of the barge by the rudder shield. It was a foot and a half by a foot by 8 inches, had no obvious lid or seams, and was held in place by 4 silver chains that connected each corner to the hull of the barge. WTF?

Avidius? Can you come down here and check this out? The thief good naturedly grumbled his way into the smelly barge and crawled to the druid. Swapping places they took a look at it and he was sure it wasn’t trapped but didn’t see how to open it. When he said “Open up” though, the top of the box lifted away with a faint hum and we looked inside. There was an elongated dried heart that the chains of the box ran through and were buried in the flesh – pulling it taut. Flimflam asked to see any magic and the box/heart glowed, along with the chains, and faintly the base of the barge. Crap – the barge was magical. Flimflam was convinced the heart was from some sort of giant avian, a Roc maybe?

The two of them ran from the bilge and we followed them as they went to the top deck and back to the rudder where they looked through the fanciful carvings on everything and there it was, right in the middle of the rudder handle, a spread winged bird taking up a lot of the surface. We wanted to try the barge out.

So two of us went down the cargo deck where they each grabbed an oar and prepared themselves. Steiner, still wearing the captain’s hat, took his place at the helm. Tranis worked the pulleys overhead until the ropes went taut and the boathouse doors leading the lake slowly opened. The last two brought the landing ramp aboard and then used the guide poles to push us off the pier and out into the water.

The barge was difficult to maneuver, plus we only had 1/4th of the oars manned, and the rudder did turn but it was slow and with almost no forward momentum, Steiner couldn’t get much out of it. We then looked for levers, switches – none. So that left Steiner calling out and willing and trying things. It was “up” that triggered something. The barge shuddered under our feet and then majestically rose out of the water until only the keel and the rudder were left on the lake. The oars still were able to function and the entire 3 ton travel barge was hovering 2’ out of the water.

Now when we maneuvered the barge it went much better, the massive vessel skipping along as very little of it was actually in the water! We were able to get it up to a fast walking speed and the turns were sharp and easy as the barge listed over. We also were able to coast a bit but when Steiner took his hands off the rudder the barge crumped back down to the lake surface. Testing a bit more he was able to get us to come down smoother if he said “down”.

So now we wanted to test out the single masted sloop, so we drove the barge back to the boathouse, turned it around, and back paddled it into place. Once there we tied it back up and pulley shut the doors. Steiner left the captain’s hat back in the captain’s quarters and we made our way off the barge and onto the sloop.

It was smaller, still very well made, and in decent condition. We climbed aboard and looked around. The sail was wrapped against the boom and tied in place; the rudder was at the back of the boat and had a single seat there. There was seating for 6 others and the bilge hatch was near the rudder but was smaller, perhaps 2’ square tops.

We looked around and found a space under the helmsman’s seat that had another box with 6 silver chains and a chunk of lumpy grey metal banded to the transom. We looked in the box and found the chains went through it until they were lodged in an elongated and stretched heart – this one some sort of feline (according to our druid).

So we went to pole the sloop out of the dock after opening the bay doors and realized that with the slow sinking of the boat house over the years, the mast did not clear the lintel anymore. We thought of different ways to drop the sloop 4-6 inches to get it to clear but it was Steiner, hand on the tiller who said “down” and the front of the boat literally dove down and water started to flow over the gunwales. “Up! Up! Up!” and the boat righted itself. We heard water racing into the bilge and the deck eventually cleared with water.

Ok, trying it again, Steiner held the rudder tight and willed the sloop “down” again until the mast cleared the lintel, then we poled ourselves out of the house and he relaxed it and though up and we returned to normal. It took us almost 15 minutes to learn to raise and lower the single sail but once we did, it became a breeze.

We then put the boat through its paces and tried out a bunch of scenarios. It was fast, like a horse cantering sort of fast. Also, it could jump; 7’ up and with a full sail, 60’ across. The jumps and drops played havoc on the passengers and we were jostled a bunch. The situation got more interesting when Steiner mused back on the down thing, wondering why it would do that? So tentatively said down…and the sloop nosed over and dived.

Water washed in front of us, up and up and up until we were below the water in a bubble of air. The deck around the mast was now glowing in a white circle that as we watched, a sliver appeared along the 12 o clock position and then slowly, slowly crawled to the right. We could stick our hands out the side of the boat and touch the water with no negative impacts. And we kept up the decent speed under the water.

We sailed about a bit before resurfacing and then feeling confident, decided that we were going to dock it over on the opposite shore near the dam house. So we got closer and closer and then the sail was dropped but the sloop nosed up and actually rode up on the land at least 7’! What the hell? We raised sail again and Steiner was able to drive the sloop on the land until it nosed back into the water. The boat goes on land. Very nice.

We drove it back around, pulled up to the dock and once more docked it partially on land. From there we disembarked and tied the boat up at a cypress tree that was close to the water and then turned as one to enter the dam house.