1. For prospective new members, a word of warning: don't use common names like Dennis, Simon, or Kenny if you decide to create an account. Spammers have used them all before you and gotten those names flagged in the anti-spam databases. Your account registration will be rejected because of it.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Since it has happened MULTIPLE times now, I want to be very clear about this. You do not get to abandon an account and create a new one. You do not get to pass an account to someone else and create a new one. If you do so anyway, you will be banned for creating sockpuppets.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. For a trial period of one week, allowed avatar size has been increased to 256kb, up from 51.2kb. During this time, if the forum seems to be loading slow, drop by the topic in the Announcements & Rules sub to let me know.
    Dismiss Notice
  4. QQ will be down for upgrades starting at 2030 EDT. Please be prepared and save any work.
    Dismiss Notice
  5. A small reminder that our moderators can't change usernames. You need to directly contact an admin for that, and tehelgee is the jobless one so bug him about it.
    Dismiss Notice
  6. To the many new members following Mr Zoat to our forum, I would suggest a quick read of our Rules. Don't worry, it's not a long post. Pay special attention to Rule 8. We are deadly serious about it.
    Dismiss Notice
  7. Due to the actions of particularly persistent spammers and trolls, we will be banning disposable email addresses from today onward.
    Dismiss Notice

The Southern Temple (Gothic Quest)

Discussion in 'Questing' started by Gaemnomut, Sep 10, 2017.

Loading...
  1. Threadmarks: The Beginning
    Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    Welcome to my first quest. Something to indulge in a little nostalgia.
    Lets see how this goes : - )
    This is going to be a RPG adventure quest with dungeon/empire builder elements set in the verse of the old Gothic games.
    I take great care that no knowledge of the games is needed to participate and all the relevant lore is explained in the story as needed.

    As for the plot:
    In short, your aim is to find and restore an old temple in order to gain enough power from a dark god that you can oust an occupation force that has conquered your homeland.





    The Southern Temple


    "... The land of Myrtana was once home to four great temples to the dark god Beliar.
    Known as the summoning temples, they covered the land with their dark hordes and kept a nation living in fear.

    Until, when the night seemed darkest, the spark of hope flared into flames as Innos' chosen, Rhobar the First, united the people and fought back.

    The brave warriors of that time spared no sacrifice in putting an end to these four monuments to evil, and in the end the black legions of the enemy had no hope of victory against the heroic valour of the king's knights and paladins.
    Blessed by Innos, they drove back the darkness and won victory after victory for the rebellion.

    And so, after years of bloody war, the northern Temple finally fell.
    Cast down and razed to its foundations the first of the four, Faragond, the house of the living dead, lay in ruins.

    With the breath of victory in their lungs, Rhobar's fighters quickly fell upon the western temple, and, weakened and in disarray from their recent defeat, the hordes of Beliar were soon defeated there as well.
    Hir-Atosh, the pit of demons, was no more.

    Although losses were high, and many a man was broken by the horrors the temples unleashed with their final defiant breaths, Rhobar was determined to bring down the remaining two as well, for it was his dream to rid the land of evil forever.

    But as the men of the rebellion arrived at the eastern coast to lay siege to the Halls of Irdorath, greatest of the four, they found only an empty pit and nothing else.
    Scouts returning from the south soon reported that the dark temple of Galaroth had vanished as well, leaving only scattered remains of the black hordes that were quickly routed.

    Even though many wondered how these great structures could simply disappear, Beliar‘s hold on the land was undoubtedly broken and so Rhobar set out to unite as many people under his rule as he could.
    Many years later, as he lay down to his final rest, the kingdom of Myrtana held dominion over all of Midland and all the nearby islands in the great sea.
    It was and still is a land of prosperity and Innos' law provides light and justice to all.

    To this day, nobody knows exactly what happened to the two vanished temples.
    Although we have enjoyed relative peace we must be ever vigilant, for the dark god is vengeful and while there are those who believe that it was our lord‘s will that took the temples from our world and that they are gone forever, there are also those who believe that the shadow of the temples will return some day to threaten all that we have built.

    Innos protect us from their wrath if they do, for I fear that we will be ill prepared. We are no longer as united as we once were, and folk have forgotten how dark the night truly was. Those of us who remember have dedicated our lives to finding the remaining two, so that their malice may be wiped from the face of the earth for good, but no scholar or diviner has yet succeeded in this task. ..."



    You close your dusty old copy of The History of Myrtana with a grim smile.
    Finding one of the lost temples had indeed not been easy, but now that you had, you had absolutely no intention of destroying it.


    - - -


    You are Hazred al Sahelim, minor noble of the Island of Zarava, one of the many regions conquered by the expanding kingdom of Myrtana after the temples vanished. For more than a hundred years your people have lived under their rule and the laws of the bright lord Innos. What was once an independent and prosperous island nation of different faiths and cultures now uniformly pays tribute to a faraway king sitting on a faraway throne on the mainland.

    Not all are content under Myrtana‘s rule. Many have ancestors that were persecuted and driven off when the conquerors enforced the worship of Innos on them, and the tax collectors of the king did their part as well. The Archon, who's predecessors were once proud rulers of Zarava, is now merely a puppet, while the commander of the king's paladin garrison that is stationed on the island holds all the real power.

    While outwardly paying lip service to the king and his god you have spent years secretly procuring forbidden scrolls and scouring old tomes in an effort to acquire knowledge of Beliar‘s black magic.
    During your studies you have come to believe that one of the lost Beliar Temples must be on the island that is your home. Realizing that this might be your chance to throw off the yoke of Myrtana you dedicated your life to finding it.

    Hints gained through several locating spells and unexplained incidents mentioned in historical records point to the temple being deep in the southern swamp.

    The swamp, known to the natives of the island as the Svengali, is a treacherous area, full of fearsome beasts and dangerous paths. Since you are a native yourself you got the traditional education that included some basic training with a sword and bow as well as some lore about surviving in Zarava‘s harsh wilds.
    Still, staying in those parts of the island for long periods of time is unwise.


    Gold: 150
    Even though you are a minor noble and not exactly poor, you aren’t that rich either and using up all your wealth will arouse suspicion, which is something you desperately want to avoid. You don’t want the city guard, or worse, the king‘s paladins, sticking their noses in your business after all. If the wrong people find out that you follow Beliar's teachings your quest to find the temple will end quickly, ... and painfully.

    150 Gold is what you can spare at the moment without interrupting the normal routine of your estate and your businesses will produce an additional 10 every round.
    Favour: 10
    You have great plans. One day you will rule in Beliar’s name, spreading his word to the farthest reaches of the world. But at the moment you are still nothing. A minor noble from a backwater island, dabbling in the black arts. The fact that you aim to bring about his rule grants you a small amount of the dark god’s favour, but you have not accomplished much yet and he does not suffer failure lightly.

    Favour can be expended to get Beliar to intervene on your behalf or to grant you powerful boons. For example, summoning a demon from his realm, or using his power in rituals or to impose your will on others will cost favour.
    The dark god is fickle though and does not abide weakness in his servants. Ask for help too often and he will not help again until you have proven yourself further.
    Personal Power: 3d5+5
    You are the head of house Sahelim and wield influence and wealth as befits your station.
    As per tradition, you were trained with the sword and the bow and know how to survive in the wilds. You are not a master swordsman or marksman, nor are you as proficient in wilderness lore as a proper hunter, but you know how to handle yourself and can hold your own against most untrained opponents.
    Your upbringing as a minor noble allows you to navigate both the upper and lower echelons of society with relative ease and your quick wit and intelligence rarely leaves you hanging.
    You biggest advantage however is your knowledge of the dark arts. For years you have been studying Beliar's magic in secret and although you have barely scratched the potential of your power, you already know a small number of useful spells.
    All this, the combined measure of your influence, skills, martial and magical prowess, status and luck, amounts to your personal power and allows you to overcome challenges.
    The more powerful you become, the higher this will be.

    Personal power checks against DC.
    Any action that is not a guaranteed success will have a DC, which will be higher or lower depending on outside factors, how proficient the mc is at whatever he is attempting or how strong the enemy is.
    Rolling the DC and half again (rounded down) will result in a critical win, which will give you some minor bonus, rolling below will be a loss, resulting in a failed action and some minor malus.
    Everything between that is a standard success.
    Expect most rolls to be relatively easy though, I am writing this mainly to have fun, and I don't want to get bogged down with a string of failures due to low rolls.
    Actions that are supposed to be very hard will still have a high enough DC to be risky though.


    [ ] Go into the wilds and try to find the temple.
    You know the general area its supposed to be in and you’re confident you can find it.
    (You will head south, and I will roll for for what you find/encounter. DC for immediately finding the Temple with no trouble along the way is 20)

    [ ] Try to narrow down the temple‘s location before you head out.
    Being prepared never hurt anybody and even though the components for yet another locating spell are costly and you would have to call on Beliar’s power for the ritual, narrowing down the location just a little more might be worth it. Dying in the wilds after working so long to find the temple would be … unsatisfactory.
    (Lowers DC on finding the temple and might reveal other useful things. Costs: 15 Gold, 1 Favour, DC 8)

    [ ] Try to get a decent map of the Svengali before you leave.
    The Svengali is an untamed region that few dare enter. It changes with the changing of the seasons and what was once a safe path may become treacherous swampland under the near constant rain. Getting a decent and up to date map of the area will be difficult and probably very costly, but could also prove invaluable.
    (Lowers DC on navigating the Svengali and might reveal other useful things. Costs: 30 Gold, DC 10)

    You are free to vote for more than one action, although only the most voted will be taken. Vote will be open for at least 24 hours from the time this is posted.

    This quest has an ending planned for it. You goal is to find the ancient temple, restore it to it's former glory and use it's power to conquer (and hold) the island in Beliar's name.
    Should we manage to get that far, you (and me, since I will have completed my first quest) will have won, and the quest will be over.

    This is my first time as a QM, if you see anything I could do better I would be grateful if you told me. I spent some time working on the mechanics to make them as intuitive and streamlined as possible, but if something is confusing, please tell me and I‘ll gladly clarify.

    As for the setting:
    The story is set in the Gothic Verse.
    Its a pretty standard fantasy setting, magic exists and is wielded mostly by the clerics of the gods and the two main races are the humans and the orcs.
    For those of you who have not played the games, don’t worry, all relevant lore will be supplied during the quest and I hope you can enjoy it regardless.

    For those of you who know the setting, most things will stay the same or are only slightly changed, although the island you play on doesn’t exist in canon and I have rewritten the history and the setting a little to support my changes and to simplify it somewhat.
    I might put up a post with the exact changes to the lore later if anybody is interested, although I suspect it will become clear soon enough.
    I only ever played the first three, so no content from Forsaken Gods or Arcania will appear.

    Obviously, I do not own the Gothic series, and I urge you to support the original release, buy the games and play them. Although old, they are most certainly gold imho and are still among my favourites ever since I first played them.

    Also, if you do try them out because of this quest, shoot me a line, I‘d love to hear what you think.

    Finally, many thanks to GhostKaiju, who proofread this first chapter for me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
  2. Index: Character Sheet, Mechanics, and the Temple
    Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
      • Hazred al Sahelim
        You are Hazred, head of the ancient and noble house Sahelim, and you have great plans...
        Personal Power: 4d5+6

        Training, status and half a life of preperation: 3d5+5
        You are the head of house Sahelim and wield influence and wealth as befits your station.
        As per tradition, you were trained with the sword and the bow and know how to survive in the wilds. You are not a master swordsman or marksman, nor are you as proficient in wilderness lore as a proper hunter, but you know how to handle yourself and can hold your own against most untrained opponents.
        Your upbringing as a minor noble allows you to navigate both the upper and lower echolons of society with relative ease and your quick wit and intelligence rarely leaves you hanging.
        You biggest advantage however is your knowledge of the dark arts. For years you have been studying Beliar's magic in secret and although you have barely scratched the potential of your power, you already know a number of useful spells.

        The magical ore short sword: 1d5-2
        The sword you bought is an impressive weapon. Merely carrying it around boosts your status, and even though you aren't used to it yet, having it on hand might mean the difference between life and death in a battle.

        Who said drugs are bad?: +2
        You spent a day practicing necromancy while under the effects of a poison that allows you to perceive the ripples of magic more easily. Your observations slightly increase your knowledge of how magic, and black magic in particular, works.

        Trophy Necklace: +1
        You have the teeth of the firelizard hanging from your neck on a trophy necklace. It looks suitably impressive.

      • The Nest of Harpies
        The wild Harpies of the Svengali are now under your control. Their shrieks spread fear into the hearts of whatever prey they are hunting, and their good eyesight and their ability to fly high above the island make them excellent scouts.
        [​IMG]
        Personal Power: 2d5+10

        Beasts of the Svengali: 2d5+10
        The harsh wilds of the Svengali cull all weakness. These Harpies who have lived here their entire lives are acustmed to danger and have learned to fend for themselves. While the younger ones aren't very intelligent, barely smarter than a goblin in your opinion, the elder harpy that leads the nest is surprisingly perceptive.
        It also seems that Keronomus‘ Bestiary was correct. They are inately magical. You aren't sure about the exact extent of their abilities yet, but they fly better than they should and judging by the wounds they tore into the lurkers attacking the slaves their claws are somehow magical as well. How they draw upon the divine power woven through the world and why they are magical in the first place is still a mystery to you though, and questioning them hasn't yielded any usable results in this matter.
      • The Slaves of the Temple
        The poor souls that have found their way here under your thumb. They work to restore the temple, but make no mistake, if they see a way to escape they will take it.
        [​IMG]
        Labour strength: 1d3-1

        Slavery: 1d3-1
        Taken from all over the known world and all walks of life, your salves at the temple are a diverse bunch. Slavery is legal in Zarava, and many suffer under the sting of the whip. It's one of the ugly realities of life for the poor and the helpless here that one must always be careful or find one's self sold at one of the many slave markets on the island. However, none of them ever expected to end up in a temple to Beliar deep in the Svengali. In the end all that matters little anymore though, now all that matters is their service to the temple.

        Cowed
        Guarded by terrifying undead, lost somewhere deep in the Svengali, and only few in number your slaves are far too afraid to think about escaping. Once their numbers are greater though, and they have gotten used to their new circumstances, that might change.

      The character sheets just show the permanent base stats. Temporary buffs/debuffs are not listed.


    • The dark Temple
      - - - G A L A R O T H - - -

      Temple Level: 1 - You have set foot in the temple, and have begun to rebuild it.
      Temple Defence: 6 - Hidden, and defended by a handful of undead.

      Temple Sections:
      Gold Mine I
      By either unimaginable good luck or, more likely, divine intervention, you have found that the temple sits upon a rich deposit of gold. Now that your slaves have opened a proper mine shaft you can send them there to dig for gold.
      Due to the small size of the cavern you can only send a maximum of ten slaves at a time into the mines.​

    • As simplistic as the mechanics are, it might be useful to have them all together in one location in case anybody wants to look something up.
      You have two main resources, Gold and Beliar's favour.

      Gold can be expended to buy things. Some actions that require special ingredients/tools/materials will have a cost attached to them that you will need to pay.
      Once you reach the temple and beginn restoring it, gold will also help you buy the raw materials you need for that, so many temple upgrades will cost gold as well.

      You can gain gold in a number of ways, your estate produces a modest sum of 10 every turn and some actions will also generate gold as you loot gold or are paid for services.
      Now that you have opened your gold mine you can send your slaves there to mine for gold. Every turn you will be able to specify how many should be sent to the mines, all others will be automatically sent to work on restoring the temple.


      Favour on the other hand is used to bargain with Beliar himself.
      He helps those of his servants that please him and prove themselves strong, so you can expend favour to get him to interveine on your behalf.
      If, for example, you want to cast powerful dark spells you wouldn't yet be able to cast on your own, Beliar may help you with his power.

      You will gain favour by working to further Beliar's goals and strive to meet his ideals.
      Prove yourself strong, destroy the servants of his enemies and work on restoring the temple and Beliar will reward you with power beond your imagination.


      You also have Slaves, which are your primary workforce in the temple.
      You can use them to restore sections of the temple, work in the restored parts, and to do the thousand menial tasks that keep the temple running.

      Each slave generates 1d3-1 base 'labour points' per turn. If sent to a build project those points of labour will further the build progress. If sent to the mines you get 5 gold per point.

      If a build project is completed without using up all the points of labour the slaves working on it produced, those points will instead go into mining gold, although only at 50% efficiency. (remaining points*2,5 round down = gold gained)
      Your personal power is the combined measure of your influence, skills, martial and magical prowess, status and luck.
      The more powerful you become, the higher this will be.

      Personal power checks against DC.
      Any action that is not a guarantied success will have a DC, which will be higher or lower depending on outside factors, how proficient the mc is at whatever he is attempting or how strong the enemy is.

      Rolling the DC and half again (rounded down) will result in a critical win, which will give you some minor bonus or even change the scene to open up new possibilities.
      Rolling below the DC will be a loss, resulting in a failed action and/or some minor malus.
      Everything between that is a standard success.
      Temple Level
      Your temple level reflect your progress with restoring it to its former glory and spreading its (and your) influence.
      As you progress in your quest to conquer (liberate?) Zarava you will unlock the higher levels, which will allow you to restore new sections of the temple, and upgrade existing ones.

      Temple Defence
      Certain upgrades will increase temple defence. Should the temple ever be attacked, temple defence will play a vital roll in how well you can hold out against your attackers. It will also help if there ever is a slave rebellion.

      Upgrading the Temple
      You have now begun rebuilding the temple. You have a number slaves working there, and each slave will contribute a certain ammount of effort to the project. This work effort will be calculated by die roll. The labour your slaves generate can be invested in clearing and upgrading individual temple sections.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
    kalifianto likes this.
  3. Index: The island of Zarava
    Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    • [​IMG]
      AN: If you have any questions concerning the map, please do not hesitate to ask.
      [​IMG] If you follow the central vertical crease and extend it down a little, thats where Zarava would be.

    • Mentioned people:
      Obaro: a shady swampweed dealer you sometimes do business with.
      Maha: The alchemist who supplies you with potions. You have invested money in her shop
      Razul: A hunter. You saved his life and he acted as your guide during the first trip into the swamp
      Lord Gerhard: The Paladin Lord in charge of overseeing Zarava and making sure the King's orders are obeyed. His main base is the castle of Rhobar's Rest
      The Archon: member of the old ruling class, rules Zarava for the King.
      Rhea: A watermage who takes care of the poor in the lower quarters
      Pylos: The firemage in charge of Kaffu's library
      Faissal: a bandit working with Sariz, you killed him when he tried to rob Razul
      Sariz: bandit leader?
      Sulimo: Your right hand in all matters that pertain to the estate. Has served house Sahelim for over twenty years.
      Myra: Your bedslave
      Khasim: A slavetrader you occasionaly do business with.
      Mulat al Hishart: Head of house Hishart, your rival noble, fell sick a few years ago and hasn't been seen much since.
      Razim al Hishart: the heir of the rival house.
      Milosh: One of your slaves at the temple, used to live at the monastary in nordmar as an Innos acolyte.
      Ben: One of your slaves at the temple
      Fabio: The goldsmith who worked on your sword
      Mor-Narog: The Orc warrior. Was exiled after being accused of poisoning the tribe's leader. Currently badly injured.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
  4. mrttao

    mrttao Connoisseur.

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2015
    Messages:
    15,750
    Likes Received:
    16,050
    We need to literally roll 5 5 5 on a 3d5 in order to succeed on this one... so, probably a bad idea.

    [x] Try to narrow down the temple‘s location before you head out.
     
  5. Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    Ok, seems like its just us two on my nostalgia train at the moment.
    Vote is closed, I'll see about getting that chapter written.

    Update: Chapter is done, Will be up after its proofread.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
    mrttao likes this.
  6. Threadmarks: Chapter 1: A Vision of Darkness
    Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    After waiting two days for my proofreader to get back to me with no reply, DrStrangeLove was kind enough to give it a once over. Thanks for that.

    Anyway, new chapter! Some worldbuilding and a ritual coming up. I hope you enjoy.


    [x] Try to narrow down the temple‘s location before you head out.

    Roll: 16 → Critical Success

    -15 Gold
    -1 Favour

    +10 Gold (normal income from the Sahelim businesses)


    Welcome to Silmorkal

    The political and economic centre of Zarava is undoubtedly the great city of Silmorkal. Located on the north-eastern tip of the island the old port city is the trading hub that connected Zarava to the rest of the world. Protected from the ravages of the ever present western winds by a mountain range that stretched south along the western coast it was the perfect place for ships to land and so the city quickly grew in wealth and power. Silmorkal was already ancient more than a hundred years ago when the king‘s troops had invaded the island and even though it now is only a small part of the much larger Myrtana it still stands proud. It has been your family‘s home for generations and the house of Sahelim owns a small mansion in the high quarter of the city.

    Home to Silmorkal‘s elite, the noble houses, the richest merchants and the Archon‘s palace, the high quarter is usually rather quiet. The few people moving around are either watchmen of the city guard, the people living here or slaves and servants running errands for their owners. The streets are free of the hustle and bustle of the lower quarters and you step outside you feel a gentle breeze from the sea that carries with it the scent of salt and fresh fish brought in on the morning tide.
    [​IMG]
    High Quarter

    [​IMG]Silmorkal Noblewoman

    [​IMG]
    High Quarter Guardsman

    [​IMG]
    High Quarter roof terrace

    As you walk through the gate to the second ring where most of the merchants and craftsmen have taken up residence, you immediately notice the difference. It's market day and there are enough people milling about that getting around isn‘t always easy. Here the smells of different foods and drinks fill the air, and the cries of the merchants advertising their wares cut through the noise of the crowd.
    [​IMG]Second ring main street

    [​IMG]
    Merchant

    [​IMG] Second ring side street

    [​IMG]
    Second ring marketplace


    Maha the Alchemist

    For the ritual you will need swampweed and a mana elixir. Both are not so easy to acquire for you. Even though most of the local alchemists sell the elixir, you can‘t really buy it openly without arousing suspicion. After all, you don‘t want anybody to know you can use magic. The former on the other hand is illegal in the city and getting it usually means contacting some of the more unsavoury elements of Silmorkal‘s populace. Thankfully your many business contacts offer a solution to both.

    Many years ago when you started your first experiments with black magic you realized that you would need mana elixirs if you wanted to practice with any sort off regularity. It didn‘t take long to get involved with one of the more prominent local alchemists since your wealth allowed you to simply invest in their business. Not only had the investment paid for itself a few times over by now, you also have free access to their inventory in case your connections allow you to meet new clients. So from time to time you sell some of the potions on to „merchants from the mainland“ or „travelling mages you meet“ and if some of those potions don‘t ever seem to make it to their buyers nobody ever noticed.

    Maha, one of the alchemists you do business with, is quite happy with the arrangement since the extra sales and the reputation boost from the association with a noble house, even one as minor as yours, boost her profits as well, so when you walk into the shop she greets you warmly. At 45 she still is astoundingly fit, collecting most of the ingredients she uses herself from outside the city walls. Revelling in the sweet aroma of the various herbs she currently mashing into past you exchange pleasantries and collect the batch of potions you had ordered the day before. While you count out the coins to pay the agreed upon price you listen to Maha as she tells you all about the newest gossip. A sweet old woman who likes to talk, she seems to know everything about everyone and has plenty to tell you. The nice couple that lives next door to her have gotten another child (their fith), the paladins and the city guard raided a merchant's house and found some forbidden scrolls, bandits attacked a trading caravan outside the city gates, and so on and so on. She doesn‘t get to talk to a lot of people, as she is either cooped up in her lab or out gathering herbs most of the time, and its almost an hour and a half before you manage to get away.


    Meeting Obaro

    Next step, getting the swampweed.
    The reason it's illegal is because it's a drug. It has minor hallucinogenic effects and relaxes body and mind. It's not a strong one, but one of the most widely available and prolonged use will dull the mind and damage the body the same as with any other drug. The many addicts littering the streets of the lower quarters forced the Archon to outlaw it‘s sale within the city walls.
    Even though the new laws had driven up the price a little, the plant's abundance on Zarava meant it was still dirt cheap and therefore the drug of choice for most of the poorer citizens of the lower rings. Although the problems have decreased slightly there is still a thriving black market that keeps the smuggler gangs that supply it fat and plump with money. After all, it has to get into the city somehow. You even know of a few establishments that still offer it under the table.

    Shortly after the law banning it passed, smoking swampweed became fashionable among the city‘s richest, and so you have some shady contacts that supply you from time to time in case you need to host a business partner who is known for consuming it. As usual, you meet your contact in a tavern near the docks. Here, in the lowest quarters of Silmorkal, traffic is too high to be properly controlled and the city guard’s presence is a formality at best in most areas. As you make your way to the meeting place you see signs of all kinds of gang activity. Whores, protection rackets, dealers, smugglers, everything from sex to murder is available for money here if one only knows who to ask.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Silmorkal Harbor

    [​IMG]
    Lower Quarter marketplace

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Slums

    Meeting your contact, a shady man called Obaro is as uncomplicated as ever. He is waiting for you in the dingy backroom of one of the dockside tavers, leasurly smoking a pipe and talking with the Innkeep. Although hardly trustworthy, Obaro is pragmatic to the core and you had been a valued customer of his for many years. As with Maha, he too has the goods you had ordered the day before ready. Ever since you had helped him out of a sticky situation with the city guard he even sells you his wares cheaper than any of his other customers get them. Or so he says at least.
    Some coins change hands and in no time at all you are out on the street again, breathing in the fresh air of the sea.

    With all the necessary ingredients in hand, you head home to prepare the ritual.


    Rhea the Watermage

    As you make your way through the crowded streets of the docks you hear the clear voice of Rhea filter through the bustle of the masses. Rhea is a watermage, one of the priests of Adanos, the god of balance. These days she can often be found preaching in the market square or healing the sick in the slums. When she had arrived in Silmorkal she had still been a young woman and almost nobody had given her any notice. Now, 6 years later she was well known and well liked and there usually was a small crowd gathered to hear her speak.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    She had appeared in the city out of nowhere and had soon acquired a small shack in the lower quarter among Silmorkal’s poorest. Once she had settled in she started to freely give her aid and advice to any who came to her. None were turned away from her doorstep, regardless of the hour or the person seeking help. She used her magic to heal the sick, eased the pain of the addicts and protected the innocent. By now her influence had saved countless lives from sickness and the violence of the gangs and her reputation allowed her to walk freely through even the most dangerous areas of the slums or end any tavern brawl with a word.

    With how she interfered in the lower quarter’s routines it was no surprise that not everyone was glad to see her. Things came to a head when a minor gang boss tried to “teach her a lesson” after she had sheltered a would be victim from his rage. In the dead of night he and some of his henchmen had burst through the door of her shack and stormed inside. The minions later woke up in a jail cell with no recollection of what had transpired and the gang boss simply vanished, never to be seen again. The next day, Rhea opened her doors to the sick and hungry again, just like everyday, and although she never spoke of it, rumours spread like wildfire. Life went on in the lower quarter’s as it always did but nobody ever dared anything of the like again.

    Three years after her arrival she used some of the donations she received to build a small shrine to Adanos on the marketplace. There she would come every day, to preach to those that would listen and to teach them of the gods, the history of the world, and many other things.
    AN: You don’t have to read this. I’ll throw in some extra lore like this from time to time because I have fun writing it. It’ll be excerpts from in universe texts, sermons, quotes, whatever. I’ll make sure that none of this is necessary to understand the quest.
    So, read it if you’re interested, skip it if you aren’t.

    “… Innos‘ fire shone bright, and wherever his light and warmth fell, order came about.
    With it he shaped the world, setting the stars on their paths across the sky and regulating the flow of time.

    But order and light were pain to Beliar, and everything that Innos created, Beliar destroyed.

    Adanos, however, realized, that nothing could be while this endured; no light and no darkness.
    So he set himself between his brothers and urged them to end their conflict, but it was in vain.

    Yet, where he stood, there was a place were neither Innos nor Beliar held power.
    And in this place there was order and chaos in equal measure, and thus the sea was created.

    In time the sea receded to reveal the land, and all life came into being, trees and animals, wolves and sheep.
    And finally, the human.

    Adanos was pleased by this, and he delighted in all creatures equally.

    But so great was Beliar's rage and lust for destruction, that he came over the land and chose the beast.
    He spoke to it, and the beast bowed to his wishes.
    And he granted it a fragment of his divine might, so that it would destroy the land and everything on it.

    But Innos beheld what had happened and he too stepped onto the land and chose the human.
    Innos spoke to him and the human became his subject.
    And Innos granted him a fragment of his divine might, so that he may stop Beliar’s machinations.

    Beliar saw this and spoke to yet another being, but Adanos raised the waters and the being was swept away.
    But the tide also took trees and animals, and Adanos fell into a deep despair.

    And he spoke to his brothers: Never again shall you step onto my land, for it is holy, and so shall it remain.

    But the human and the beast were at war on Adanos‘ land, and the wrath of the gods was with them.
    Battle raged and the human slew the animal and it became part of Beliar’s realm.

    As peace returned Adanos saw that order and chaos were now unequal, and he bade Innos take back his divine might from the human.
    And Innos, in his wisdom, did so.

    But Adanos feared the day the beast might once again ravage the land and he asked Innos to leave the fragment of power in his realm so he might restore it to the human, should the animal return.
    And Innos, in his wisdom, did so. …”

    The Ritual

    After arriving at the Sahelim estate you wait until your servants have left and the slaves have retired to their quarters. You have yet to take a wife or father any children, so the house is quiet and deserted. Once you are certain you will not be disturbed you retreat to a special room in the cellar and begin. Nobody but you is allowed to enter here and it shows. There is dust on the floor and the air is stale since you never leave the door open for long. You quickly start a fire in the fireplace to drive out the cold.

    In here you have your private sanctuary where you delve into the ancient secrets of the dark arts. The small library of forbidden texts you have managed to collect and a demon‘s heart, still beating even after all these years since you acquired it from a foreign trader, are among your most valuable possessions here. The centrepiece of the room is a small shrine to Beliar. Set against the wall, the statue you had painstakingly hewn from black rock radiates an imposing presence in the flickering light of the candles and torches.
    [​IMG]

    At it‘s feet the demon heart sits in a golden chalice. Its beats come in triplets rather than pairs, making them sound strangely alien to your ears. It's something you just can‘t seem to get used to even after all this time. It is still dripping with magical power and Beliar‘s influence and so it makes the perfect focus for your ritual. Kneeling in a summoning circle which is inlaid into the floor before the shrine you fill a small tray with some glowing embers from the fireplace and place a metal bowl filled with strips of swampweed on top.

    Then you open up the flask filled with elixir and inhale the biting smell of the fireroot used to make it. Mages drink it to refill their reserves of magical energy after casting exhausting spells, you on the other hand will use it for a different purpose. All magic comes from the gods, it is their will and essence made manifest. Channelling it allows the mages to work miracles otherwise impossible. Your reserves of mana are already full so drinking it makes them overflow and fills you to the brim with energy. It is dangerous to immerse one‘s self so deeply into the currents of the god‘s wills, but in doing so your mind is unusually open to Beliar‘s touch. After swallowing the last drop your head spins and you feel power coursing through your veins, threatening to burst out of you.

    In front of you the swampweed starts to heat up and the first wisps of its earthy smell caress your senses. Soon a blueish, greenish haze settles about you. As you take you take your first deep breath the haze calms your thoughts.

    Relaxing your body you close your eyes and slowly sink into a deep trance.

    Soon you are aware of nothing other than the slow, rhythmic beating of the demon's heart in front of you.

    Each breath slowing your own heartbeat just a little more until the two are in synch.

    Three heartbeats for every two of yours.

    And then, suddenly, you become aware of Beliar‘s presence and the darkness warps in front of your mind‘s eye.

    It is night and the the only thing you can hear in the darkness is the howling of the wind and the crashing of the ocean‘s waves.

    Soon the sun crests the horizon and as her first rays illuminate your field of view you find yourself looking down on the Svengali from the sky.

    In the distance you can barely make out Silmorkal‘s highest buildings rising up from the morning mists and underneath you the seemingly endless marshes and forests of the island‘s untamed wilds.

    As the sun climbs to her zenith you watch the teeming life underneath you with rapt attention. An endless cycle of plants growing, dying and rotting, only for new sprouts to shoot up again. Everywhere you see life devour itself as new roots feast on the rotting remains, herds of animals eat the fresh plants and hunters stalk their prey. For a while your gaze follows a group of orcish hunters closing in on a herd of deer until you see a lone harpy flying overhead.

    Somehow latching on to the harpy you find yourself soaring over the forest on feathered wings, the harsh pull of the western winds ever present. After a short flight you dip lower and enter a valley. The force of the wind lessens and you can make out the scent of the swamp below you. A curious mix of wet earth and rotting wood as well as herbs and flowers.

    You are welcomed by the grating shrieks of other harpies echoing against the steep, rocky sides of the valley, and soon the harpy you are following slows down and lands near a large nest in a cave that is set in the mountain‘s flank.

    Gazing through the harpy‘s eyes out into the valley your view suddenly shifts. Its still the same view, but overlaid onto it are the currents of magic as they ebb and flow through the swamp. A wild vortex of greens, intermixed with streams of blue and small dots of red. Woven through it all you see a mass of black tendrils, digging through the land like roots. And at their centre, a beating black heart deep under the mountain on the other side of the valley.

    Entranced you marvel at the convulsing darkness and slowly grow aware of your own heartbeat again.
    Beating in synch with the black heart in the mountain.


    The realization startles you out of the vision you were having and you find yourself back in the cellar again. In front of you the swampweed has long stopped smouldering and only a whiff of it‘s smell remains in the room. You must have been out of it for quite a while, for the flames of the fireplace have died down as well, leaving the room cold and dark with only a few candles still burning.

    You stand up and stretch your joints out after the long time you spent kneeling on the floor. Even though you spent all day on your feet and just conducted an exhausting ritual you feel elated and invigorated. You are so close you can almost taste victory on the tip of your tongue. If you can find that valley, you‘ll only be a step away from finding the temple.
    And then nothing will stop you.

    You quickly clean up the cellar, lock it behind you and head upstairs to lie down for the night.

    Now, what are you doing next?


    Gold: 145
    Favour: 9
    Personal Power: 3d5+5


    [ ] Try to find out what you can about harpies and orcs.
    What you know about them from your wilderness training boils down to: „Avoid them, run away if you can, shoot arrows from afar if you can‘t“. Since you now know that you‘ll likely encounter harpies at the very least, knowing more about them could be useful.
    (Lowers DC on actions that deal with harpies or orcs. Costs: 20 Gold, DC 9)

    [ ] Try to get a decent map of the Svengali before you leave.
    The Svengali is an untamed region that few dare enter. It changes with the changing of the seasons and what was once a safe path may become treacherous swampland under the near constant rain. Getting a decent and up to date map of the area will be difficult and probably very costly, but now that you have an idea what you are looking for a map could be even more useful to you.
    (Lowers DC on navigating the Svengali and might reveal other useful things. Costs: 30 Gold, DC 10)

    [ ] Go into the wilds and try to find the temple.
    You already narrowed it down pretty good. You are sure you‘ll recognize the valley when you see it and you are confident you can find the temple once you‘re there.
    (You will head south, and I will roll for for what you find/encounter. Rolling 18 or higher will have you immediately finding the Temple with no trouble along the way.)

    Vote will remain open for at least 24 hours after I post this, maybe longer depending on how much time I have and how many votes come in.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2018
  7. DrStrangeLove

    DrStrangeLove Experienced.

    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Messages:
    2,589
    Likes Received:
    6,817
    [X] Try to get a decent map of the Svengali before you leave.
     
  8. mrttao

    mrttao Connoisseur.

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2015
    Messages:
    15,750
    Likes Received:
    16,050
    [x] Try to find out what you can about harpies and orcs.

    After that map, reason being that maps are constantly being redrawn. So it is best if the map is the last thing we look into so it is freshest. I doubt the orcs and harpy races are going to majorly change quickly.
    I thought the church of the light god banned all other worship and forced conversions
     
    Gaemnomut likes this.
  9. Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    The church of Innos hunted down the beliarworshippers mainly because Innos and Beliar are anathema to each other and their followers usually don't get along in general.
    When Rhobar expanded and his troops landed on the shores of Zarava, they brought their faith with them.
    They had recently been at war with the beliarcults of the four temples so they hunted down anybody who openly followed Beliar and made sure no beliarworshippers were in any position of power.
    Afterwards they put their own people or people they liked in those vacated positions.

    Its not that there isn't anybody who worships the other gods, but rather that the people in control, the paladins and firemages of the king, all worship Innos.
    The same is true for the kingdom as a whole.
    The founder of the kingdom, Rhobar I, was a chosen of Innos and he interwove the church with the political establishment.
    He and all the kings after him have been both the leader of the church as well as the ruler of the nation.
    So if you are seen praying to Beliar you will be exiled or worse.
    If you worship Adanos or no god at all they won't care.
    And if you want to advance within the kingdom's hierarchy the best way is to join the church.

    They have no problem with the watermages because for one, Adanos and his followers are usually neutral in the conflict, and also because the watermages, while individually powerful magic users, barely have any political power at the moment and are of no threat to them.
    Mostly they are loose allies against you at the moment.

    Rhea will probably never aid you, but there is a chance she'll ignore you unless she thinks you are a threat or you harm those under her care.
    If the paladins or, Beliar forbid, the firemages find out about you they will hunt you down.
     
    kalifianto and mrttao like this.
  10. Roark

    Roark Usually Lurking

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2017
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    273
    [x] Try to find out what you can about harpies and orcs.

    This looks like it could be fun. Hopefully my intrusion is welcome.
     
    Gaemnomut likes this.
  11. Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    You are most certainly welcome.
    And with the tie now broken, the vote is closed.
    I have some time tomorrow, so I'll see about writing the update then.

    Edit: Update is done, Just waiting on the proofreading now.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
    kalifianto likes this.
  12. Threadmarks: Chapter 2: Old tomes of forgotten lore
    Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    I had originally intended for this to be a pretty short update but since you had a crit I expanded the whole thing to give you more information and set up a few plothooks that will come into play later. I know I‘ve been packing in quite a bit of worldbuilding and preparation, but we‘ll get to the action soon.
    If you have any feedback, I‘d be grateful. Although I have no aspirations of becoming a professional writer, I would like to improve.

    Also, once again thanks to DrStrangeLove for proofreading the chapter.


    [X] Try to find out what you can about harpies and orcs.

    Roll: 16 → Critical Success

    -20 Gold
    +10 Gold (normal income from the Sahelim businesses)


    Kaffu‘s Library

    Today you will go to Kaffu‘s library. Although it's fallen into disrepair in the last decades, the great building is still one of the tallest and most richly decorated of the second ring. The library is built from the same grey stone that makes up most of the rest of the city, but its stood for so long that the sun and the rain have stained the walls a far darker shade than the surrounding houses.
    Under the midday sun, when everything around it gleams with reflected light it seems oddly foreboding and imposing.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    As you reach the library you have to pass the two knights guarding the door.
    You greet them warmly and under their watchful gaze you pay the entry fee to a clerk sitting next to the great portal. They barely return the greeting, only giving you a stoic nod, but in the end they let you pass through unmolested. In the last few years you have often been to the library, citing an interest in the island‘s history, and these two know you by now.

    When Rhobar I took the island, Zarava‘s great library had been famous even on the mainland.
    Kaffu, one of the Archon‘s had ordered it built almost two and a half centuries ago in a bid to immortalize his name. After it‘s completion it became a kind of prestige object for Silmorkal, and thus Zarava as a whole, and most of the the Archons after Kaffu invested time and money into expanding and maintaining it. To this day it is one of the greatest hoards of knowledge in the known world, even though it had not been expanded ever since Myrtana has taken Zarava.

    The island‘s multi religious past had allowed the library keepers of those times to collect texts from worshippers of all three gods, and thus it even contained many scrolls written by the black mages of old. Unwilling to let these texts influence the minds of their subjects the firemages took control of the library and locked it to the general population. Rather than destroy this precious hoard of knowledge the church of Innos took possession of it. They moved some of the most valuable scrolls they could find to the nation‘s capital on the mainland and left the rest under guard.

    In the decades that followed firemages from the kingdom sorted through the mountain of texts and slowly began opening the library to the public again. The sheer amount made it impossible for them to read every single one completely, but whatever they deemed unsuitable for the general populace was locked away in restricted sections of the old building. It became commonplace for the few firemages that were studying the views and capabilities of Beliar‘s followers to visit Zarava and spend time in Kaffu‘s library.

    These days the occupation force has one firemage who is responsible for it and none may enter without his approval. You loath the fact that such a monument to Zarava‘s heritage has been picked apart like this, but for the moment you can‘t do anything about it. It took all the self control you have not to snarl and rage at the firemage or the knights guarding the building when they made you jump through hoops to even get access at all. Sometimes you think of ever more elaborate ways to kill them while holding polite conversation.
    It helps.
    A little.

    In the years you have been searching for the temple you spent long hours here, poring over historical records of the temples for hints as to where to find them again. Of course, the tomes that would be most interesting to you, the ones dealing in black magic, or even magic in general were all restricted and locked away. You have not dared to ask if you could look at them lest you arouse suspicion, and all your attempts at finding a way past the guards and the vigilance of the firemages have been met with failure.

    Today you come with a specific purpose. The valley you saw in your vision was home to a flock of harpies and you also saw a group of orcs hunting in the area which means a whole tribe might have set up camp in the area. Preparing for the dangers ahead seems smart, as even a single orc could prove deadly to you and while you have never encountered any harpies yourself, tales of those who have paint them as dangerous beasts. With that encouraging thought in mind you start combing through the shelves to find something that might be useful.

    As much as you admire the library, currently its ordering system is a mess, and finding something specific usually impossible. In your forays into the world of ancient texts you usually just perused until you found something interesting. One of the most interesting things you found that way was a book that explained the gods and the intrinsic natures that shape them. It was surprisingly thorough and unbiased considering it was only written about forty years ago by a man from Myrtana even. The author, a man called Edgar, not only describes the gods themselves, but also their followers and how their different philosophies shape the communities that form around them.

    Maybe even the firemages see the value in preserving this knowledge, even if its just information on their age old foe to them. Although, perhaps it's a little hypocritical of you to think that way considering that’s exactly what you used it for. You pored over it for days trying to learn everything you could about the opposition you were eventually likely to face in case you were ever found out.
    AN: You have stumbled upon my completely transparent attempt to shoehorn in some more lore for the interested. Once again this is optional just like Rhea‘s Sermon.
    You will miss nothing story relevant if you skip this.


    “… There are three gods who‘s will has dictated the world‘s course since its inception.

    Innos, the god of fire, light, and law.
    Adanos, the god of life, water, and balance.
    Beliar, the god of chaos, power, and death.

    Since before the dawn of time Innos and Beliar have been at war. Their very natures drive their conflict, for Innos' light and order is a torment for Beliar, and Innos in turn cannot bear the chaos and emptiness that marks Beliar‘s passing.
    It was Adanos that brought balance to his brother‘s opposing natures and out of this balance he created our world. But his brother‘s war threatened to destroy the world, and so he forbade them from entering his realm.

    Since the world began it was filled with life and Adanos loved all life as was his nature. To keep it safe he has dedicated himself to maintain the equilibrium between order and chaos for he knows that both are necessary for life to flourish. Although he doesn't allow his brothers to personally step foot into his realm any more they do exert influence over it to a degree and seek to gain ground in their endless war.

    Adanos' followers are few, for he shows no interest in worship. The Nomads of the desert and the forest druids pray to Adanos, and most of the watermages stem from their number.

    While Adanos cares for all life in his realm equally as is his nature, Innos favours those who worship him and band together under his laws according to his. Innos‘ virtues lend themselves to forming stable communities, and thus his followers often wield a fair share of power.

    In contrast, Beliar favours people who are powerful by themselves and stand on their own. His worshippers follow the creed that the strong should subjugate the weak and fall in turn if one of the weak is strong enough to rise up and take their place. ...“

    -The Gods and their Followers, Chapter One: Introduction.​


    The Orcs

    The last caretaker of the library, an old mage named Dohomo, had had a knack for finding things in here and asking him about things usually got you a whole heap of books with relevant information as well as two anecdotes and some trivia information. You had been very careful never to let him know what you were really looking for, but all the same he had been a great help. He seemed to have memorized where every single scroll, book and manuscript in the entire building.
    Unfortunately, the new caretaker, Pylos, didn‘t seem to care much for either books, the library, nor Zarava as a whole. He was a grumpy man and you suspect that he got his current post by annoying some high mage just a little bit too much.

    You give Pylos a nod and start searching the shelves for useful works about the orcs before settling down in a corner with an armful of texts and starting to read. It turns out you were lucky today for you found a wealth of interesting material to go through. So much so that you suspect it would take you weeks to fully grasp it all. You skim over most of it in an attempt to gather as much information as you can. There are a few bland advisories written by people who have fought them and from them you quickly gather some useful tips.

    Apparently they are much quicker than their size would suggest and very crafty in combat. A few sources point out to always expect traps or tricks when fighting them. Additionally, they warn that while orcs usually don‘t wear armour, when they do their great strength and stamina allows them to don far heavier armour than a human ever could. Luckily most of the smaller tribes can‘t outfit their warriors with armour, but large enough communities often do so, and when fighting them bringing weapons capable of piercing heavy armour is recommended.

    Also, while most orcs, male and female, are trained to know how to fight, most of them have other tasks in their day to day lives like hunting, cooking or taking care of the young. A select few though, those who show uncommon ability, are kept on as warriors and do nothing but train. These elites lead the others when they go into battle, either to defend the tribe or when they go raiding, and most of the texts you find advise you to avoid them at all costs, since they are exceptionally lethal foes.

    Some other information you find tells you that while orcs dislike heat, their thick skin and light fur makes them very durable and almost entirely resistant to cold. Another source mentions that they seem to be able to see warmth, which makes it very difficult to hide from them. You are not sure if you believe that, but try to remember it just in case.

    Then you strike gold.
    The next book you open is apparently a collection of notes, diary entries and travel logs by a man named Kreios, who tried to forge a peace between humans and orcs and approached them to learn about their culture. Miracle upon miracles, he actually survived the encounter and slowly started to gain their acceptance. The notes he took about orcish culture and mindset, their philosophies and traditions, are fascinating.

    Like most people in the kingdom you grew up hearing stories decrying the orcs as the dumb brutes that craved nothing but the destruction and enslavement of human society. It turns out that isn‘t exactly true. In fact, orcs are apparently far cleverer and more civilized than most people give them credit for. They are accomplished craftsmen, and have constructed beautiful works of art as well as intricate functional designs. Orcish smiths have developed their own kind of armour that fits their hulking forms and the orcs of the cold north are renowned for their powerful crossbows. Even orcish ships have been sighted on the great sea from time to time.

    Mostly though orcs move around in small tribes. These usually number no more than a hundred members and in such small communities every hand is needed for survival. With their nomadic tendencies not allowing them to settle down anywhere there aren‘t many buildings built by orcs that are still standing. But history shows that when larger communities come together in one place they are known to build towns of great stone buildings that often stretch far further under the ground than they do above it.

    Kreios found, that rather than strictly separate duties, most orcs, especially those of smaller tribes, tend to learn a little bit of everything before specializing so that the loss of a single member is less of a problem. Strength is highly prized in their culture, and a strong warrior, accomplished hunter, or anybody who can contribute a lot to the tribe commands great respect. As such they naturally tend to Beliar and some tribes have worshipped him for generations.

    Their shamans, or children of the spirit as they call themselves, guide the tribes in spiritual matters and also serve as lore keepers and healers. Since the smaller tribes rarely write anything down, their wisdom is handed down from mentor to apprentice. They are almost universally well respected and in larger orc gatherings the shamans of the various tribes usually form a council that advices and supports the leadership. Some Shamans are even leaders themselves.
    Normally the ranks of the shamans are filled with the orcs that grow too old to properly hunt or fight.
    Those warriors strong and cunning enough to survive into old age are then inducted into the secrets of magic. Although they may not be as physically imposing as an orcish warrior in his prime, they should not be underestimated for their experience and the ability to cast spells makes them deadly to the unprepared.

    Kreios also noted that orcs do not follow laws, they follow orders. In an orc tribe, nothing is forbidden or demanded by law. Disputes are hashed out between individuals, and behaviour that damages the tribe as a whole is judged and punished by the chieftain. Only the the gravest of sins, like murder, are punished with exile or even more rarely, death. For all their individualism, the tribes are usually tightly knit, and value their community greatly.
    As a rule, orcish leaders do not issue laws, they command certain things and their people take action if they see the merit in it. At best orcs follow customs and tradition. Of course this is based only on Kreios‘ observations of a small tribe. How the orcs handle their affairs in larger gatherings is mostly unknown.

    For all that they reject an ordered command structure, the orcs are still effective fighters, especially in the tight knit, familiar structures of the tribes. Led by the elites, almost all of a tribe‘s members can take up a weapon and defend the tribe if necessary. With their great physical strength and durability an orcish raiding party poses a threat for even well trained and equipped human fighters.

    The greatest currently known gathering of orcs are the orcs of the high north. Where even the clansmen of Nordmar dare not go, the orcs survive due to their sheer physical durability and resistance to the elements. Nobody knows much about the region since very few have been there and even less have returned, but it is speculated that the unforgiving north is home to many tribes of orcs.
    With the lush fields of Myrtana as a prize and Beliar whispering in their ear, it is no wonder that the orcs of the north have been at almost constant war with the kingdom. Their raiding parties that slip through the mountains steal and enslave, and repelling them is a great drain on the kingdom‘s resources, especially since their frequency has been increasing. Nobody can strike back at them, because to do so would require the army to venture through the inhospitable terrain of Nordmar, something which the king's troops are hardly prepared for. With enemies to the south as well, the king can‘t really afford any kind of long campaign and so the best he can hope for remains defeating their incursions badly enough that they think twice before coming south again.

    Kreios even tried to learn their language, but found it very hard and unfamiliar. For day to day uses they use a system of rhythmic sounds that is embedded in a guttural chanting. He describes it as very difficult to mimic and many words impossible for a human to pronounce, and so, in the rare cases humans and orcs communicate, they do so in our language. Not many orcs know it, but some do. Mainly those that have been prisoners of humans or those that learn it from human slaves.
    What Kreios did eventually master though, was to read their writing. The tribe he contacted didn‘t have much material for him to learn with, but the shaman that taught him gave him a a parchment filled with poems as a gift afterwards. Even the rough translations that Kreios adds in his book are beautiful and you admit to yourself that your preconceptions of the orcs were very wrong indeed. The book doesn‘t describe if the attempt to reconcile humans and orcs ever worked in any way, but considering that you never heard of the author‘s name, and humans and orcs have mostly been at war for the last hundred years at least you don‘t think it was.

    You do find something very curious though. Tucked in between the last pages are a few sheets of scribbled notes. They look like instructions of a kind for something the writer calls an Ulu-Mulu.
    The writing seems to be of a person that doesn‘t get much practice writing and is almost illegible. With some difficulty you manage to read parts of it although some words like „Orth-Antak“, „Dwachkarr“, „Khaz-Tak“ and „Krotank“ refuse to make sense to you. Saying them out loud seems strange to you and you begin to suspect that they are words of the orcish language. Whatever it is, it intrigues you and looking about to make sure nobody is watching, you quickly pocket the collection of notes before returning the stack of books to their shelves and move on to the next task.
    [​IMG][​IMG]


    The Daughters of the Wind

    Soon, your efforts to find information on harpies bear fruit as well as you stumble over a book called „Keronomus‘ Bestiary“. Composed by an Archon‘s chief alchemist almost a hundred and sixty years ago it is a treasure trove of useful knowledge. As you leaf through it you find detailed entries to many of Zarava‘s native fauna and even a few that describe creatures you have never heard about in your life. Some of them are even beautifully illustrated. Although you spot some information and speculation that have been disproved since the author‘s time as you skim over it the book, the information it contains is nonetheless priceless. What luck that you faund it.

    Unfortunately it‘s getting late and you don‘t have long before the library closes so you quickly look for the entry on harpies. As it turns out, where orcs are much more civilized than most people think, harpies are the exact opposite. Keronomus at least paints them as far more bestial than popular opinion would have them be. According to him, although their bodies look mostly human and they do have a certain intelligence, they are more beast than thinking being. They eat meat, and don‘t shy away from attacking humans if they think they can get away with it. Lone travellers need to be wary of them, for while they are smaller than the average human they are still vicious hunters that often attack in groups.

    Their hands and feet have sharp claws that pose a serious threat to unarmoured people and they will harass their victims with flyby attacks until they collapse. Most devastatingly, they seem to be able to instinctively draw upon magic. Their grating shrieks disorientate the mind and wear down the victim‘s willpower while survivors of harpy attacks report that the wounds their claws tear take far longer to heal than they should and often don‘t stop bleeding for days. Only those who managed to find a healer quickly enough live to tell the tale.

    Keronomus continues to state that harpies are attracted by shiny or sparkly things to the point where they prioritize them over hunting down prey. He cites some reports that claim people escaped them by spilling gold coins on the ground and running away while they were distracted. A nest will house anywhere from three to ten individuals and some people who have managed to reach one and drive off the entire flock are said to have found a small fortunes worth of gold and silver trinkets. He likens them to goblins in that regard. Prone to collecting shining things, and possessing a rudimentary intelligence, but in the end little more than dangerous animals.

    Unfortunately, Keronomus goes on, harpies have been romanticized to a ridiculous degree by some songs and ballads. This misconception has lured many a man to his death, the poor fools thinking they might woo one of the supposedly beautiful ladies of the sky. None have ever returned and what is left of their mangled and gnawed on corpses is sometimes found under the harpies' nests. Interestingly, it is not known how they reproduce, as the entire species seems to be female.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Before you leave you try to remember on which shelf you found the bestiary. You have a feeling it will be useful in the future.

    You are glad you took the time to look up information like you did.
    It would have been catastrophic to have a run in with orcs or harpies unprepared.
    Although there isn‘t much you can do if the orcs are hunting you, at least you now know they can be reasoned with.
    Maybe.
    Possibly.
    You do resolve to pack something shiny that you could use as a distraction for the harpies though.
    That might prove very useful.


    Gold: 135
    Favour: 9
    Personal Power: 3d5+5


    [ ] Try to get a decent map of the Svengali before you leave.
    The Svengali is an untamed region that few dare enter. It changes with the changing of the seasons and what was once a safe path may become treacherous swampland under the near constant rain. Getting a decent and up to date map of the area will be difficult and probably very costly, but now that you have an idea what you are looking for a map could be even more useful to you.
    (Lowers DC on navigating the Svengali and might reveal other useful things. Costs: 30 Gold, DC 12)

    [ ] Go into the wilds and try to find the temple.
    You already narrowed it down pretty good. You are sure you‘ll recognize the valley when you see it and you are confident you can find the temple once you‘re there.
    (You will head south, and I will roll for for what you find/encounter. Rolling 18 or higher will have you immediately finding the Temple with no trouble along the way.)

    As always the vote will remain open for at least 24 hours after I post this, maybe longer depending on how much time I have and how many votes come in.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  13. DrStrangeLove

    DrStrangeLove Experienced.

    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Messages:
    2,589
    Likes Received:
    6,817
    Hmm. Split on trying for the map and just going. We stick around, we'll have an easier time of it - but we also run the risk of running into trouble in town. :/
     
    Gaemnomut likes this.
  14. Roark

    Roark Usually Lurking

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2017
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    273
    [x] Go into the wilds and try to find the temple.

    I figure we might as well get going. There is such a thing as too much preparation, and who says some kind of encounter in the wilds couldn't be beneficial?
     
    Gaemnomut likes this.
  15. Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    That is true. Even though the DC on the preperation options is relatively easy, its possible to fail it. You might not be instantly exposed, but there are enough ways to run into trouble some other way.
    And there are some dangerous people in Silmorkal.

    Optimism! I like it.
    *checks notes for possible encounters*
    ...yeeeaaah. Start preparing your offerings to the dice gods.

    jk, yes failing the 18 DC on the 'go south' option will not be an instant bad end. Depending on how high you roll you can encounter different situations and hopefully eventually find clues that will lead you to the temple.
     
    DrStrangeLove likes this.
  16. Aigloss

    Aigloss Versed in the lewd.

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2016
    Messages:
    2,308
    Likes Received:
    2,474
    [x] Try to get a decent map of the Svengali before you leave.

    How the hell I didn't found this before? Gothic 1 and 2 was almost entire of my childhood. Watched with passion of thousand suns and may Beliar watch favorably over us.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
    Gaemnomut likes this.
  17. Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit. Another gothic fan!

    Nice, I hope you enjoy my nostalgia trip.
    Also the pressure to get it right just got intense. Before, nobody could tell when I messed up the lore, but now you can call me out on it XD

    I'll probably close the vote sometime during the weekend depending on when I have time to write.
    DrStrangeLove, I hope you decided on what to vote for by then ;-)
    mrttao, if you're still reading this, now is the time to stand up and be counted!
     
  18. DrStrangeLove

    DrStrangeLove Experienced.

    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Messages:
    2,589
    Likes Received:
    6,817
    [X] Try to get a decent map of the Svengali before you leave.
     
  19. mrttao

    mrttao Connoisseur.

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2015
    Messages:
    15,750
    Likes Received:
    16,050
    [x] Try to get a decent map of the Svengali before you leave.

    I know we are anxious, but we really should get a map before going. Also there are potential bonuses on a good roll.
    Furthermore, I want us to develop a "fully prepared" / "stacking the deck" kind of personality for the MC

    Also, IC the temple ruin was there hundreds of years and is not going anywhere, and we the MC are completely unsuspected rich noble and are in no rush. So let's do things right

    Also, to find the temple without any problems would require us to roll 4, 4, 4 or better on 3d5
    http://anydice.com/program/135c
    That is 84% chance of Trouble

    thanks for the ping, I somehow missed the last update notification
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
    Gaemnomut likes this.
  20. Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    I was afraid I'd driven you off with the 3k words post thats basically nothing but lore. Glad you're still with us.

    Anyway, I've finally got some free time, so the vote is closed. Getting a map won.

    I'll start writing today, update will probably be done tomorrow.
     
    mrttao and Aigloss like this.
  21. Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    Bad news:
    Something came up and I didn't get as much done as I wanted to in the last few days. Update will be delayed for a little while longer. I'm almost done though

    Good news:
    The dice really seem to like you. You rolled a 20 which makes this another crit. That means the update will be a little longer as I include the added bonuses.
     
    Aigloss likes this.
  22. Threadmarks: Chapter 3: The hunter’s map
    Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    I promised myself. Next chapter will be shorter. A 1000 words, a quick proofread and up it goes.
    Didn't work out that way. This chapter took extra long because I reworked some of the voting options I had planned out and plotting out the consequences took longer than I expected.

    Anyway. I hope you enjoy it.




    [X] Try to get a decent map of the Svengali before you leave. (DC: 12)

    Roll: 20 → Critical Success

    -30 Gold
    +10 Gold (normal income from the Sahelim businesses)


    The Bay of Mara Shedim

    Not many people venture into the Svangali, but those that do all swear on Razul‘s maps. Razul is without a doubt at least a little crazy. Of all the hunters that dare go south past Ivan’s watch, he goes the furthest and stays the longest. Most people that know of him think he spends more time in the forest than out of it. Whenever he comes out of the Svengali, he brings back herbs, meat, and trophies which he sells at the market. Many an acquaintance of yours has a shadowbeast fur rug in front of their fireplace that they bought from him. That, and the profits he makes drawing his famous maps, have kept the man well fed over the years.

    You have met him once or twice, for he also supplies Maha the alchemist with those herbs she isn’t able to collect. Those that only grow in the cold wet marshes of the south. The slave you sent two days ago with your order and the first half of the payment tells you that he accepted the job and that he will have your map ready for you at noon today.

    Since he doesn’t live in Silmorkal, but in a lone hut near one of the fishing villages on the coast, you head out early after dawn to be there on time. You payed quite a bit for that map, so you want to collect it personally. It’s a nice day for a walk, and you enjoy the warmth of the first rays of the rising sun. Since you are carrying nothing but a bag of gold, your bow and the old family sword, you have no problem with going at a fast pace and soon you have cleared the city gates and are out on the open path.

    After walking for a while, the road you are travelling on forks and you take the path leading to the coast. With the sun already firmly over the horizon at this point you can see the many sails of the fishing boats heading home bringing in today’s catch. A lot of them will be going straight to the markets of Silmorkal, but some will head further south to the bay of Mara Shedim and supply the people living there. The clear waters of the bay are an ideal place for fishing. Kept safe from the perpetual winds by the mountain range that also protects Silmorkal, the Bay of Mara Shedim is usually quiet and calm, unlike the wind whipped waters surrounding the rest of Zarava.

    Especially the western coast of Zarava is almost constantly battered by the strong storm winds that only quiet down once a year in winter. Known in the native tongue of the islanders as the Naragost, these western winds have shaped the island into what it is today. Under those conditions the sea around the island is rough and very dangerous. While a ship with a crew skilled and suicidal enough may brave the waters, most people understandably prefer not to. This means that Zarava does not get much traffic outside of winter, and life on the island has adapted to that. It’s a shame, for most traders stay barely long enough to sell their wares for fear of being stuck here for the entire storm season. In the end, few outsiders ever stay long enough to see Zarava‘s beautiful summers, when the fields and meadows grow lush and green with new life.
    Most know it only as a cold and windy rock in the middle of the ocean.

    During the warm summer months, the island people store all the saleable goods they can. Then, when winter comes and the sea grows quiet they await the flood of traders to sell their wares to. Furs, exotic meats and trophies of Zarava’s native beasts, the fine salt collected by the salt farmers on the coast, dried herbs only found in the unique conditions here, copies of texts stored in Kaffu’s library, artworks made in the traditional style of the island. All that and more is bought and sold in Silmorkal’s markets when the merchants come. In return they bring gold, spices, fine whine, and other things that aren’t found on the island. And of course, new orders and troops from the kingdom.
    Every year, in the cold quiet months of winter, the kingdom sends new soldiers to man it’s outposts, new guards to relieve the old ones and new orders for the commander of the paladin’s garrison on the island. And when the king's ships leave they are heavy with the tribute collected and the men returning home.

    This works in your favour though. With the orc raids on the mainland getting more and more frequent, the border to Varant becoming less and less secure, and any troops that are brought here having to stay for at least an entire year until they can leave again the kingdom has long since reduced the garrison to barely half of what it once was. Enough to remind everyone of Myrtana’s rule, enough to make sure any resistance fails, enough to secure those areas that are too valuable to leave unguarded like the library.
    But not enough to actually enforce order. Not enough to gather tribute and collect taxes.
    Not enough to rule. That is left to the Archons.
    ‘Archon’ has been the customary title of Zarava’s ruler since long before the kingdom of Myrtana even existed. And when the conquering king realized that he could not effectively govern a land he could only reach once a year without investing more resources and troops than it was worth, he let them continue to rule in his name. It is the Archon that keeps the nobles in line, administrates the comings and goings of Silmorkal, and sends his men out to collect the king’s taxes. Thus, the king’s grip on Zarava is tight. But not so tight that it can’t be broken.

    But shaping the social and political climate of Zarava isn’t all that the Naragost does.
    As the gale blows over the sea in the hot summer months, it takes up an endless supply of water. Where the clouds catch on the peaks of the island’s mountains, the rains don’t stop from spring to autumn. It is these regions that are eternally wet and plagued by the never ending storm winds that the natives call the Svengali.

    Some of the scrolls you read go further and theorize that the Naragost plays an even greater part in shaping life on the island. They claim the winds are also a wellspring of life, for in it’s grasp the Naragost supposedly carries sand of the desert of Varant which it deposits along its path making all the land underneath it fertile soil. This includes the sea. Under the caress of the storm winds the water is rich with nutrients and teeming with life. If this is true, it is no wonder that the Svengali is such a breeding place for all manner of plants and creatures, and that those fishers that venture out the furthest from the bay come home with the richest catch.
    [​IMG]
    Where the river that runs down from the western mountain range and through the plains and hills south of Silmorkal flows into the sea in the middle of the Bay there are many small fish to catch. The clean water, gentle current, and shallow waters of the river mouth would be ideal fishing grounds, were it not for the dangerous wild beasts that occasionally roam the riverside.
    Very few of the bigger ships ever come here, only those delivering or receiving goods directly from the smaller villages outside the city walls, or those unwilling to pay the Silmorkal harbor toll.



    Razul the Hunter

    On your way to the hunter’s secluded hut you come by a fishing village and the scent of the sea that has been getting stronger for a while is suddenly accompanied by the smell of roasting fish. It’s been four hours since you started out and your stomach rumbles at the delicious aroma. The fishermen that have brought in their catch for the day are now sitting by the fire in anticipation of their well earned meal. But something is wrong in the picture. People seem tense and guarded looks greet you when you approach. In response to your questions they tell you that a group of bandits were seen passing through a while ago.

    Concerned you travel on. Instead of using the road, you stick to the trees and try to move silently. Indeed its good that you do so, because just before you reach Razul’s hut you spot an armed man in leather armour crouching behind a rock. From the way he monitors the path its obvious he is a lookout and you’re glad he hasn’t spotted you yet. If there is a lookout here, that means the rest is probably close by. And the only target you know of that’s close by is Razul. You decide to intervene, after all, if they kill him you won’t get your map, and it would be a shame to have come out here for nothing.

    Creeping up through the trees from one hiding place to another you finally settle in a spot that has a clear view of the lookout. Grateful that you decided to bring your weapons along you draw your bow as quietly as you can and take aim. Alerted by the sound and sudden movement of the arrow arcing out from your position, the bandit jumps from his hiding place and prepares to call out, but before he can make a sound, the arrow catches him in the leg. Tripping up mid movement he stumbles over with a pained gasp and falls behind the rock he was using to hide.
    You knock another arrow and wait. Nothing happens.
    No sound, no movement.
    Nothing.

    You put away your bow, draw your sword, and quietly move towards the fallen man. Carefully you inch around the rock, ready to jump away or attack at a moment’s notice. But its unnecessary. The bandit is lying there in a crumpled heap, out cold. He must have hit his head when he fell, for he has a wound on the back of his head and there is blood on the rock where he must have hit it. You take his weapons from him and cut some strips out of leather from his pants legs. With them you bind his hands and then bandage the wound on his leg. You leave the arrow in to avoid wounding him further. It doesn’t seem to have hit anything important because there is only a small trickle of blood seeping out from where it penetrates the skin. With this guy out of commission you take up your own weapons again and continue on your way to Razul’s hut.
    As you come closer you can already hear loud voices and cruel laughter. You are glad you managed to take out the lookout quietly, because there are four men cornering Razul in front of his hut. You don’t think you can take four men.

    Two of them are holding Razul down, while one of them seems to be questioning him about hidden valuables. The questions are punctuated with hard blows to the stomach and face as Razul grits his teeth and refuses to talk. They seem to be enjoying themselves as they revel in the power they hold over the defenceless man. You recognize the one pummelling Razul from a wanted poster in the city. It's Faissal, a wanted bandit that’s been at large long enough to have a bounty set on him by the Archon's militia. Apparently, he recently joined up with one of the two bigger bandit gangs that plague the outskirts of Silmorkal. From the way the others are deferring to him it looks like he is the leader of this little group.

    You see red. Scum like that won’t come between you and your destiny. You need that map, and you’re going to get it. With Razul standing in the middle of the knot of men it is too risky to use your bow so you draw your sword and creep up behind them.
    Enraptured as they are by their sport and trusting in their lookout to warn them of incoming danger, they don’t notice you at all. Only Razul sees you but he catches on quickly enough to not alert them.
    As you come closer you can see that they are armed with a variety of vicious looking weapons. Faissal and another man have clubs with nails driven trough, one has a dagger and one even sports a rusty broad sword.

    This time there is no room for mercy. You catch the guy with the dagger unaware and ram your sword into his unprotected back. Letting out a gasp as the air is driven from his lungs the man stares uncomprehendingly at the blade producing from his chest. As you pull the sword out, the horrible wet sound of it alerts the others to your presence. They turn to look at you and the collapsed thug at your feet with mute surprise. Their distraction gives Razul enough time to break free and reach back, take up a broom that is leaning against the hut as a weapon and use it to brain the man that has been torturing him. Howling with pain and rage Faissal whirls around to engage him and the spell is broken.

    Jumping into action the remaining two single you out as the greater threat and move apart from each other to catch you between them. Stepping back to avoid just that you assess the situation. Blood is pooling around the corpse of the first man, making the ground slippery in places. You smell it's coppery stench.
    These guys look like untrained amateurs, but they are hardy enough and they outnumber you two to one. Razul is also at a disadvantage due to his injuries and with only his broom as a weapon, but he’s a tough old bastard and quick enough to keep the club wielding ruffian at a distance.

    The two men slowly advancing on you, a small man with a club to your right and a larger one with a rusty sword to your left seem uncertain in the face of this new challenge and cautiously stay a few paces away from you. They are carefully closing in though, continuously checking if the other one is following suit. Out of the corner of your eye you can see Razul sidestep a lunge of the guy engaging him and bring down the broom on the side of his left leg with considerable force. You hear a crack and a scream and the man to your left can’t help but look at the sound. Using his moment of distraction, you dart forward and strike at the hand holding the club. A gush of blood erupts and he drops the weapon along with a severed finger or two as he stumbles back. Quickly following up the strike with another one, you step forward yet again and drive the blade into his neck. The man collapses like a puppet with its strings cut, clutching at the wound in a desperate attempt to hold it closed while deep red blood bubbles out between his fingers and lips. You can tell that it won’t help him, as he seems to be fading fast if his gasping and wheezing is any indication.

    You turn around to face the other one and watch the colour drain from his face as he watches his friend’s blood seeping into the dirt. Your sword held at the ready you slowly advance on him and he backs away with a terrified look in his eyes. He holds the rusty sword in both hands and his arms are shaking so badly that the tip of the blade dances madly before your eyes. Staring straight at you he doesn’t notice the first guy lying right behind him. You take another step forward and feint with your sword at his face. A small sound of terror tears from his throat and he evades backwards, only to slip and trip over the body of his fallen friend. He cries out again, this time in pain, as you lash out and cut a deep wound into his right leg. In a desperate bid to escape he leaves the sword lying where it is and starts to drag his injured body away from you, babbling and begging as he goes. With a snarl you catch up to him finish him off with a quick blow to the head, splattering more blood and chunks of brain matter all over the ground.

    Only now it occurs to you that you could have incapacitated the man without killing him, but you pay the thought little mind and focus on the last remaining bandit. Faissal and Razul are locked in a stalemate, circling each other like a pair of sharks as they look for any opening to exploit. They noticed you dispatching the others of course, and as you step towards them the last remaining bandit starts to franticly plead for his life. You can’t help but scowl at him, disgusted by his cowardice. Before you can do anything the handle of the broom in Razul’s hand arcs out and catches the distracted man squarely on the temple. He falls down in a heap. With the last enemy out of commission, Razul staggers back and collapses onto a bench next to the entrance to his hut. The beating and the battle afterwards must have put a heavy strain on the ageing man’s condition.
    [​IMG]

    Now that everything is under control for the moment, you check on the outlook you took out earlier and find that he escaped his bindings and ran off. A trail of footsteps which clearly show he is favouring his right leg leads away from where he was lying, but you quickly loose it in the underbrush. You consider asking Razul for help with tracking him, but the hunter is in no condition for it, so you simply curse and dismiss him from your mind. You’re not sure if the man saw you well enough to be able to recognize you later, but he could see the hut from here so he probably saw the fight go down.

    As you return to the hut, you see that Razul has regained his bearings and is walking around again. He has picked up the dagger your first victim dropped and is moving towards the unconscious bandit leader. In one smooth motion he kneels next to him, lifts his head up by the hair to arch his neck and raises the dagger to slice his throat.

    After a split second decision you say:

    [ ][Faissal] “Wait, I’ll take them with me and hand them over to the city guard!”
    Handing this guy over to the authorities might give you some browny points with the guard and will let you collect the reward money (+30 gold, DC: 13).

    [ ][Faissal] “Stop, let him leave.”
    You will make it clear to Faissal that any retaliation will have dire consequences and then let him go. This way, nobody in the city will ask any questions, you don’t have to watch him be murdered in cold blood and you hopefully won’t have bandits after your head in case he has friends somewhere out there.

    [ ][Faissal] “Yes, kill him. Filth like him deserves nothing else.”
    -[ ] Bring his head to the city guard and collect the reward money (+15 gold).
    -[ ] Don’t mention this in the city.

    No muss no fuss, just a knife to the neck. You’ll deal with the fallout when it happens.

    [ ][Faissal] Write in.
    Write in what you want to do with the captured bandit. Subject to QM veto.


    After dealing with Faissal, you follow Razul inside his hut to finally collect your precious map.

    You proved yourself to be strong and ruthless. Beliar is pleased! (+1 Favour)



    Of course, nothing is ever that simple.
    Razul insisted on treating you to dinner first and you gladly accepted after the receding adrenalin stopped masking the hunger. In no time at all Razul had a fire burning and after twenty minutes of preparation a delicious looking slab of molerat meat is cooking in a sauce of herbs and vegetables.
    The smell alone makes your mouth water and you are glad you get to eat something before walking all the way home. While the food was cooking, Razul had you sit down and got the map he had made for you. He sits down across from you and unrolls the thick parchment on the table.


    [​IMG]
    AN: If you have any questions concerning the map, please do not hesitate to ask.

    [​IMG] If you follow the central vertical crease and extend it down a little, thats where Zarava would be.

    It is beautifully drawn and illustrated, and the names of different places were added in Razul’s ruff handwriting. A masterwork and well worth the money you payed for it in your opinion.

    As you marvel at the thing the old hunter explains some of it to you. The shaded parts are where the forest is thickest. He points out the paths through the bog that are still viable after the latest storm and advises you to stick to them. The lake in the middle of the region is to be avoided at all costs because its usually home to firelizards that laze about at its shores and alligators and large carnivorous fish that prowl for prey under the surface. He also points out a few other places on the map where he knows especially dangerous animals have taken up territories recently. A small pack of shadowbeasts apparently roams around near the eastern mountains and this time of year most of the rivers are full of swampsharks. It’s their mating season in which they are particularly aggressive with the newly grown ones asserting their dominance and the old ones fighting to keep it. And of course, the whole swamp is infested with bloodflys, giant rats, snakes, swampdrones and many other kinds of vermin.

    Lastly, he advises you not to cross the first river that goes from the mountains to the sea. Past that the orcs have their territory and they dislike humans poking around in it. Also, he continues, he can’t tell you much about the region since he doesn’t enter it often himself but he reckons there are at least three tribes living in the region west of the river. When you ask about Harpies he mentions that he did see some, and that he suspects that there is a nest somewhere to the north.

    As he goes on you realize that something seems to be off about the map. You can’t place it but something in the back of your mind is nagging at you that you missed something. You want to ask Razul, but you don’t even know what you should ask about so you resign yourself to puzzling over it silently. Eventually, after going over the whole thing twice and finding nothing out of the ordinary you discard the idea and resolve to think about it later when you have more time.

    After the lecture, you eat together and the grateful Razul gives you a short crash course on how to avoid the different beasts and how to fight them if you can’t. The knowledge this man has of the region is astounding and his old mind is a goldmine of useful information. He asks about why you want to go into the swamp and even offers to accompany you, but doesn’t press further when you clam up and decline his offer. A sad look crosses his eyes. The Svengali swallows up one or two nobles every year. The sons and daughters of the rich, who long to prove themselves and think bringing back something interesting from the swamp is their ticket to fame and fortune. Or those that simply seek the thrill of danger and end up biting off more than they can chew. Most of them think they are something special and that they will be the exception to the rule, but they all come to Razul for their maps, and most of them he never sees again. You let him think you are one of those, that you go south hungry for excitement. Better than inventing some kind of lie. Still, Razul seems determined not to let you wander off to your death so he informs you that he had planned to go into the Svengali next week anyway, and that you are welcome to come along if you change your mind. You ponder his offer for a moment. On the one hand an experienced hunter such as he would be a great help in the Svengali, on the other it might be even more dangerous with him around if he doesn’t take kindly to your plans.

    Its late in the afternoon when you are done and both of you are a little tipsy from the spirits Razul served up after the meal. A very strong liquor made from mushrooms that tasted surprisingly sweet and burned like fire. Packing up the map and saying goodbye to the hunter you leave the little hut and make your way home.


    The Castel of Rhobar’s Rest

    The horizon is already coloured in a warm shade of crimson when your path takes you over a small hill and finally see Silmorkal in the distance. As you walk back to the city under the light of the setting sun, you can see the castle of Rhobar’s Rest perched above the city. Placed in an ideal vantage point so it has a good view of both Silmorkal and its surroundings as well as any approaching ships it keeps watch over the island for the king. Built into the rock high above the city by Rhobar’s men over a hundred years ago, it is a formidable stronghold and the implacable symbol of the kingdom’s enduring hold on the island. It holds most of the kingdom’s garrison of knights and is home to the leader of the occupation forces, the paladin known as Lord Gerhard.
    AN: Hey ho, more unnecessary lore. I’m having way too much fun writing these. As always, read if you’re interested, skip it if you aren’t.

    “… After the Fall of the temples, King Rhobar I set out to unite the scattered people of Myrtana under the light and laws of the bright lord Innos. Heralded as the savior of Myrtana, he and his troops were welcomed almost everywhere they went, and soon almost all the green lands north of Varant bowed to him. With his kingdom on the mainland secure, our great king decided to bring the island in the great sea into the fold as well.

    The islands had for the most part not suffered under the tyranny of Beliar’s priests, and so he was less well received there than he had been on the mainland. But the knights of the kingdom were blessed by Innos himself, and so resistance against the army of Myrtana was futile. Island by island, Rhobar took control over the great sea.

    Unifying the people under one creed was the labour of a lifetime and by the time Rhobar was in control of the last island, the prosperous patch of land known as Zarava, he was seventy two years old. As he stood on the mountain overlooking Zarava’s capital, he heard Innos’ voice for the second time in his life and our lord told him that he was proud of the achievements of his chosen and that it was now time to rest and secure what he had built.

    Rhobar descended from the mountain with new found vigour and determination. He ended his campaign and returned to the mainland to rule the kingdom he had carved out of the darkness. With the experience of age he governed with wisdom, speaking law and justice in Innos’ voice, and he managed to fortify the land against any that might harm it. Thirty six years later, as he lay down to die, the kingdom was strong enough to rival the Hashishin in the south and the orcs to the north, and Innos words were heard in every town and city of the land.

    Rhobar’s last request was to be buried on the mountaintop where he had heard Innos voice for the second time. He had gone south from his home in Nordmar at the behest of his god, strived his whole life to bring about his vision and wanted his resting place to symbolize his dedication. It was his way of proclaiming that no place is too far nor task to hard for those that live their lives in the service of Innos.

    Rhobar I was entombed on Zarava on the mountain that overlooked the great city of Silmorkal and the place became known as Rhobar’s rest. A temple to Innos glory soon grew besides the grave, and a fortress to protect the righteous was built around it.
    The castle of Rhobar’s Rest is a symbol to all of Zarava, that Myrtana protects those under her care and that her kings go above and beyond to bring about the peace and prosperity that Innos’ people deserve. …”

    -The History of Myrtana
    Chapter 7: The Life of Rhobar I.

    Conquering the castle and driving the paladins there from your home will be the final step in taking the island. Unfortunately, it will be a long road until you are powerful enough to do so, but with map in hand, you are now finally ready to enter the Svengali and take that first crucial step towards your goal.
    *maniacal laughter*

    Gold: 115
    Favour: 10
    Personal Power: 3d5+5


    [ ] You have prepared as much as you can. There is no sense in delaying any further. Tomorrow you will head south and hope Beliar will guide you to the temple.
    Going with Razul is too risky, if he finds out what you are planning and disagrees, you will be stuck in the swamp with him. Razul has more experience navigating the Svengali than anyone in recent memory and he makes a living hunting beasts that will easily kill a normal man.
    (DC on finding the temple with no trouble along the way is 17)

    [ ] You will wait until next week and go with Razul. Having the experienced hunter by your side will be a great help.
    Not taking Razul is too risky. What sense does all your caution make if you die before you even reach the temple? You can worry about him when you get there. Besides, he doesn’t know you can use magic, even if only a little, so you have the element of surprise.
    (DC on finding the temple with no trouble along the way is 15)
    -[ ] Focus on business and preparing the Sahelim estate for your absence while you wait. (+30 Gold)
    or
    -[ ] Do something else with the time you have. (Write in, subject to QM veto.)


    AN:
    You might have noticed that the DC for the map option was higher this time around. Had you gone yesterday you would have missed the bandit attack.

    Also this is one of the first actions scenes I ever wrote. If you have any suggestions for how to improve, I’d be glad to hear them.

    Oh, and thanks again to DrStrangeLove, who continues to help me with this.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
  23. Aigloss

    Aigloss Versed in the lewd.

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2016
    Messages:
    2,308
    Likes Received:
    2,474
    [X] You will wait until next week and go with Razul. Having the experienced hunter by your side will be a great help.
    Not taking Razul is too risky. What sense does all your caution make if you die before you even reach the temple? You can worry about him when you get there. Besides, he doesn’t know you can use magic, even if only a little, so you have the element of surprise.
    (DC on finding the temple with no trouble along the way is 15)
    -[x] Focus on business and preparing the Sahelim estate for your absence while you wait. (+30 Gold)
    -[x] Do something else with the time you have.
    --[x] try to buy sword made of magical ore. Secretly of course.


    [X][Faissal] “Yes, kill him. Filth like him deserves nothing else.”
    -[X] Don’t mention this in the city.
    Ore should be much more avaible with Nordmar still in hands of the empire. Or I am wrong with timeline?
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
    Gaemnomut likes this.
  24. Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    This is set a few years before the bubble goes up over the valley of mines. (So I guess about 10-15 years before the events of the first game kick off)
    Myrtana doesn't directly control Nordmar, but they have good relations with the barbarian tribes there and get a lot of ore from them.
    But with more and more orcs moving south from their home in the far north, getting that ore safely to Myrtana is getting harder and harder. Especially since transporting it is difficult as it is, with the whole region being nothing but iced over mountains.
    All this means that ore is already pretty rare and growing in value every day.

    So you could potentially get such a blade, but it would cost more than you can spare at the moment and take longer than a week.
    But don't worry, there will be other options in the future that, if taken, will result in you getting your hands on one.


    Also, you didn't vote on what to do with the captured bandit.

    Edit: on second thought, I'll allow it.
    Beat a DC of 19, pay a hundred gold, and Hazred will find somebody willing to sell him a magical ore blade in secret.
    It won't be the best of blades, but it will definitly be better than what you currently have.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
    mrttao and Aigloss like this.
  25. DrStrangeLove

    DrStrangeLove Experienced.

    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Messages:
    2,589
    Likes Received:
    6,817
    [X] You will wait until next week and go with Razul. Having the experienced hunter by your side will be a great help.
    -[x] Focus on business and preparing the Sahelim estate for your absence while you wait. (+30 Gold)
    -[x] Do something else with the time you have.
    --[x] try to buy sword made of magical ore. Secretly of course.
     
  26. mrttao

    mrttao Connoisseur.

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2015
    Messages:
    15,750
    Likes Received:
    16,050
    Are there any people we plan on taking with us that we can trust to be against innos? or are we solo (unless we take a guide)?
     
    Gaemnomut likes this.
  27. Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    Nope, you are solo at the moment. Hazred decided that trying to reach out to other Beliar worshippers was far too dangerous (who knows who might be a spy for the paladins) and he also didn't want to share in the glory.
    Once you have claimed the temple you will have a base strong enough to slowly, covertly gather followers.
    After all, your final goal is to have all the island openly worship your god.

    Also, DrStrangeLove, you still need to vote on what to do with the captured bandit.
     
    mrttao likes this.
  28. mrttao

    mrttao Connoisseur.

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2015
    Messages:
    15,750
    Likes Received:
    16,050
    [x] Aigloss
     
  29. DrStrangeLove

    DrStrangeLove Experienced.

    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Messages:
    2,589
    Likes Received:
    6,817
    I don't have any real opinion him.
     
  30. Gaemnomut

    Gaemnomut Experienced.

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2016
    Messages:
    4,056
    Likes Received:
    5,240
    I'll probably close the vote some time tomorrow.
    So, Roark, if you are still on board now would be the time to vote.

    Also, a word on the magical ore sword.
    I thought about it and there isn't really any reason for you to buy the sword in secret. The interdiction that only paladins may own one doesn't happen for another few years yet (sometime during the time between the first and second game iirc) and it is not unlikely that a noble such as yourself would want one as a status symbol for example.
    So I'm lowering the DC for it to 17.

    Anyway, Aigloss, I normally use a random number function in an excel sheet for my rolls, but since its your write in you might as well do the honours :)
    Give me a 3d5+5 and if its 17 or higher Hazred will succeed in getting a magical ore sword in time for you to take it with you into the swamp.
     
    Aigloss likes this.
Loading...