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Author Topic: The Smoking Hills  (Read 4021 times)
The Godsmith
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« on: September 28, 2012, 05:42:14 PM »

Out of Character

This is a village I'm using for my D&D Next Playtest game.  I'm making it up as I go along, so any help or contributions are much appreciated.

The Premise

On the edge of the antediluvian forest huddles a small village, long ignored by the greater civilization in the heartland.  It has no name, and the people within have long been considered of little consequence.  However, quite recently, a great deal of rather unwelcome attention has come to bear on the sleepy town due to the value of the resources in the surrounding area known as The Smoking Hills.  The columns of smoke which buttress the constant gloomy clouds have been rising from the foothills for as long as anyone living can remember, but now, in light of the prosperity that smoke signifies, settlers and entrepreneur alike have swarmed into the region in an effort to claim the wealth under the land for themselves.

Unfortunately for both the settlers and the town, this encroachment on the edge of the world has not gone unnoticed by the almost malevolent sentient forest. The darkening storm clouds from the west seem to be absolutely brooding these day, the nights a little bit longer; the shadows a bit more foreboding.

Note

The village itself is a small subsistence farming community founded by pioneers looking to establish themselves with hearth and home outside the reach of the bureaucracy of the more established civilization and the church that pulls the strings.  The name of the game is humble living, with modest wooden homes roofed with thatch and a single well-worn wagon track that leaves the town heading east.  Traders are seen rarely, but they are prized for the delivery of goods that cannot be manufactured without the infrastructure of a larger city.  The forest looms in the distance, and is avoided as much as possible by the people of the town, and as such harm has yet to befall those who keep their doors locked at night and keep inside the modest border wall at night.

The Cast of Characters
The Village People
The Blacksmith:  Harold is your typical blacksmith, with one big arm and not much in the skull.  He mostly makes horseshoes and other basics for the rest of the village, and when he is not working he can be found at the Inn slinging a pint with the other craftsmen of the village.  He lives in a modest home to which his shop is attached.

The Innkeeper: Thomas is a pudgy man who doesn't seem to own a single unstained shirt.  He is well aware of the folly of running an inn in a town with few guests, and so the primary focus of his business is in the furnishing of alcohol to those who can afford it.  With the coming of the settlers, he has recently expanded his operation to a two-story, freshly constructed building that dwarfs the rest of the village and leans precariously toward the simple road that is the center of the village.  His newly found wealth has led to him drinking a great deal more of his inventory than he used to and a bit of an inflated opinion of himself now that business is booming.

The Woodsman: Brandon lives the closest to the woods of anyone in town, his lodge standing next to the very wall that separates the town proper from the forest.  He supplies the town with a great deal of wood for fuel and the construction of the newest structures in the town.  He is a superstitious man, and as he lives off the game he hunts in the woods, he always leaves offerings for the spirits on the other side of the wall to appease them.  With the coming of the settlers, he grows increasingly nervous and tired looking, and can often be found in the inn until late at night, telling anyone who will listen that the woods have been strange as of late, with terrible sounds coming out of them.  Needless to say, he has spent more than one night in the inn, preferring it to his own bed more and more due to it's distance from the woods.

The Scholar: Having arrived on the back of a merchants cart, Alexander Marcus Hamilton the Third is an odd one.  He predates the settlers by several years, and so he is slightly more integrated into the community, however he is still perceived as an outsider.  Fortunately, he does not seem to care, or even notice, as he spends most of his days reading and writing in the room he rents from Thomas at an exorbitant price. He always pays in obscure coins, and often tries to pay his rent in stories, but Thomas will hear none of it.  As far as anyone has heard, Alexander came to the Smoking Hills to study the odd natural phenomena that gives them their name, as well as to collect stories about the "fairy tales" that drifted back to civilization.  He has found the townspeople largely reticent about the latter, however, with the notable exception of Brandon and Old Helga.

The Witch: Old Helga is the oldest member of the community, and the strangest by far.  She lives in a twisted hovel past the wall that can only be reached by following an overgrown game trail.  While nobody remembers when she arrived or in what context, everyone in town respects her wisdom and her skill with herbs.  Few in the village have not seen her work miracles with a poultice when an ankle was twisted or a limb broken, and so she is well treated by the community.  She rarely pays for any goods due to her extensive influence and the fact that everyone in town owes her for past favors, yet she uses so little in the way of supplies that this is hardly an unwelcome burden.  She also is the keeper of many tales and stories that interest Alexander greatly, who she entertains occasionally but with obvious reluctance.

The Settlers
The Captain of the Guard: Ethan is a rugged man with a pair of distinctive red mutton chops.  He's seen battle and he's seen peace, but he has put that behind him in the hopes of finding a new life of honest work on the frontier of the world, where he won't have to fight on the whims of royalty.  Unfortunately, old habits die hard.  He has found himself in the employ of the collective of merchants that run the camp, maintaining order by force of arms.  His job is difficult, as he recognizes that he himself is of the same class as those he has been tasked with keeping in line and he is dramatically understaffed, running a crew of five other brutes and soldiers.  As such, he can be found in the inn drinking to ease the stress whenever he is not keeping watch for more settlers at the edge of the camp.

The Swindler:  Alfred is a weasel of a man, with tiny eyes and an uncomfortable demeanor.  He fidgets and squeaks when he talks, habits which are accompanied by the irritating tendency to cut conversational partners off with a sales pitch.  His goal in the Smoking Hills is to establish himself as the first and finest store for supplies in the region, as he has figured out that the smartest way to make money on a find such as exists in the camps is to sell the tools for others to do the work.  He is connected back in the cities and is currently petitioning the town for permission to build a general store on the main drag.  So far he has been denied, but that has done little to stop him from selling supplies out of his expansive tent in the camps while telling anyone who will listen that his current location is just temporary.

The Developer:  Stephan Gaston is a rotund and well-dressed man who laughs heartily, especially when it is inappropriate.  His goal is to reinvent the village into a fully functional town of much greater size and get it fully incorporated into civilization at large.  As such, he has gone to great pains to earn the favor of the village people in order to acquire their consent for his development project, code named "Ghostwood".  He is in talks with the closest similar towns in order to get trade routes set up and functioning in order to supply his lofty goals.

The Rich Boy: Rupert is a startlingly good-looking man in his early twenties who resides in the camps with his butler, Gregory.  He is well-dressed, well-spoken, and carries himself with just enough arrogance to charm and impress.  He is the second son of a wealthy baron from the heartland, and as such he is well aware that his inheritance is unlikely to be large.  To keep himself in the style of living he has grown accustomed to, he intends to lay claim to as much of the Smoking Hills as possible and profit from their resources, becoming a captain of industry rather than just another nobleman at court.  He has the blessing of his father for his venture, who supplies him with the money necessary to purchase the claims of any fools who would be willing to sell, as his father thinks that if the venture is successful, it will both strengthen the house and decrease the likelihood of fratricide over the inheritance.

The Agent:  Helen is a sharply dressed woman with a Lynchian face and a harsh attitude that dissuades the catcalls that might otherwise trouble a woman who walks through the camps too often.  She asks too many questions in town, and is in talks behind closed doors with Stephan for the purpose of acquiring cooperation regarding the development of the region, but nobody knows who she works for.  In point of fact, she serves a powerful industrialist from the cities and is of a similar inclination to Rupert in that she intends to steal the land out from under the village and add yet another income stream to the spider's web of her employer.  Alfred and Rupert both try consistently to understand her motives and who she is working for, but they have been stymied so far by her regiment of imposing bodyguards, who follow her and watch her tent at all times.

The Tall Dark Stranger: Peter is an imposing figure, finely muscled and with a gloomy disposition.  He can be seen stalking the camps, although few have actually had a conversation with him.  This is likely due to the hand crossbows at this waist and the cudgel across his back.  He is loathe to speak of it to strangers, but his reason for being in town involves the fairy tales that have brought so many others.  However, Peter is less interested in learning and more interested in doing violence.  An inquisitor by profession, he travels often to the edges of the world in order to root out the heretics and hedge wizards who would defy the church by keeping the strange ways of the woods alive.  The joke of the matter is, he was exiled by the church years ago for the extremity of his methods, and now he operates in effect as a free agent of what he believes to be God's judgment.

The Whore:  Mary is a young woman with crimson lips and eyes you could fall into.  She arrived with a merchant some time ago and has been working the camps ever since.  More than just a pretty face, she is exceptionally aware of the dynamics in the camp and is more than happy to sell information for the right price.  Rupert is consistently frustrated by her, as he finds her alluring and repulsive, below him in status, yet he is compelled to defend her honor by his noble blood.  Mary simply finds the whole relationship amusing.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 05:59:20 PM by Numinous » Logged

Previously: Natural 20, Critical Threat, Rose of Montague
- Currently working on: The Smoking Hills - A bottom-up, seat-of-my-pants, fairy tale adventure!

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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2012, 08:45:36 PM »

What happens to those who don't close their doors at night? What do the townsfolk believe dwells in the forest beyond the wall?

What manner of guests did Thomas receive before the entrepreneurial boom? Who has he offended with the building of his new establishment? Who has his drinking alienated and how has it affected his judgment? Does/did he have a wife?

What tensions has this influx inspired within the town? Who seeks to exploit it? Who in the town embraces change and who resists it? As it grows in importance, will the town receive a name? Who shall name it?

What faith(s) do the townsfolk possess? Who is this nameless community's spiritual leader? Who are its outcasts? Who in the town is a danger to newcomers? Who in the town is most vulnerable (to deceit, to depravity, to coercion, to violence)?

Does Alex genuinely value stories as currency? If so, why? Are his coins legal tender; does the currency matter at all; does nobody know the difference? What manner of books and oddments does he keep? Are there any which he must conceal? What does he know that the townsfolk do not? What do they know that he does not?

What lives in the forest? By what instrument will the forest oppose the machinations of men?
« Last Edit: September 28, 2012, 09:24:56 PM by Exegesis » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2012, 02:37:08 AM »

Exegesis

What happens to those who don't close their doors at night? What do the townsfolk believe dwells in the forest beyond the wall?
As of now, not much.  But livestock has gone missing and there are strange tracks in the fields.  With the coming of the new wave of settlers, the stranger phenomena have picked up and the storm is brooding.  As for what the townsfolk believe, as good god fearing folk they try to keep their heads down and their minds pious.  The suspects range from demons to monsters and so on, although none would say so louder than a whisper.

Exegesis

What manner of guests did Thomas receive before the entrepreneurial boom? Who has he offended with the building of his new establishment? Who has his drinking alienated and how has it affected his judgment? Does/did he have a wife?
  Before the boom, Thomas entertained the occasional merchant in what was essentially a spare set of quarters for lodging, a step up from the loft of a barn for sure, but most of his income came from the resale of alcohol made from the products of the farmers nearby.  The building of his new and improved inn has irritated Harold more than most, since with it comes an elevation in status for Thomas where before they were peers.  Additionally, Brandon and Old Helga speak poorly of it, feeling that it is immodest in the face of the forest.  Primarily, his drinking has offended his wife (who exists, but has yet to be more clearly defined) and the aforementioned woodsman and witch.  He is largely perceived as enjoying his sudden rise to wealth a little too much.

Exegesis

What tensions has this influx inspired within the town? Who seeks to exploit it? Who in the town embraces change and who resists it? As it grows in importance, will the town receive a name? Who shall name it?
  The primary distinction I am intending to draw is that the infusion of new blood is upsetting the status quo in a large variety of ways.  It destabilizes the pre-existing relationships by changing Thomas's economic position, it is seen as upsetting the placid farming lifestyle of the citizens, and most of all it is conspicuously associated with an increase in bad omens and mysterious phenomena around the town.  Thomas is the main person who has profited from the boom, while Harold has seen a spike in business as well.  Largely, the settlers themselves seek to make their fortune on the coal in the hills, and as such a wide variety of settlers from all walks of life have appeared, be they merchants, homesteaders, miners, or even a disgraced noble or two looking to reclaim their lifestyle.  As for resisting change, Old Helga is the most resistant, resenting the encroachment of civilization on her humble lifestyle, while Brandon is more fearful than anything of what the spirits in the forest might do if provoked or disrespected.  As for a name, it is likely that the town will be named colloquially by the settlers as a destination, whether it be the village on the wall or forest's edge, or even, heaven forbid, Smoking Hills.

Exegesis

What faith(s) do the townsfolk possess? Who is this nameless community's spiritual leader? Who are its outcasts? Who in the town is a danger to newcomers? Who in the town is most vulnerable (to deceit, to depravity, to coercion, to violence)?
The townsfolk practice a deprecated form of the faith of civilization, referred to informally as the Church of the Circle.  Think Puritanical faith with an emphasis on fear of the (unknown) supernatural.  Brandon is the most spiritually in tune among the community, but he is largely treated as fool for treating the spirits as a legitimate power until the signs come faster and more furiously.  Old Helga knows a whole helluva lot about the church and how to keep spirits happy, but she only gives specific advice and doesn't seek to hold much authority in the town, preferring to be left alone.  As far as danger goes, the town is largely passive, although they resent the intrusion of civilization a bit.  However, money tends to smooth ruffled feathers, and the settlers will be bringing that into the community in spades (maybe even literally).  The most vulnerable of the townsfolk would likely be Harold, whose resentment of Thomas can easily be manipulated, or Thomas himself as he is often too drunk to make a good deal and has demonstrated his willingness to be bought time and again.

Exegesis

Does Alex genuinely value stories as currency? If so, why? Are his coins legal tender; does the currency matter at all; does nobody know the difference? What manner of books and oddments does he keep? Are there any which he must conceal? What does he know that the townsfolk do not? What do they know that he does not?
Alex is a scholar, and a bit oblivious to boot.  He seems to genuinely believe that everyone is as interested in the old tales or his geological interests as he is, and so he will talk off anyone's ear given half a chance.  His currency is not, in fact, legal tender, although they are real gold and silver and so are accepted generously despite their foreign nature.  In fact, they're a little too heavy, so Thomas accepts them without complaint, although it does seem to be a mystery where he got so many.  His library seems to consist mostly of scrolls on geological phenomenon and fairy tales, with a good half of them being a treatise he is writing on the smoking hills themselves.  He claims to indulge in his fairy tale interests as an idle hobby, but he is far too interested in rooting out the details for this to be the case.  Even his long walks into the hills themselves are suspect, as he seems to have few surveying instruments at all, and is occasionally missing on conspicuous nights, such as those of the new moon.  He is well aware that the prospectors and settlers have arrived in all likelihood due to his chatter to the merchants who bring supplies and tries not to draw attention to this fact, as he does not want to risk his rapport with the townsfolk.  In turn, the village people have fed him only the surface of the tales regarding the old woods, leaving out some of the family stories handed down regarding the original founding of the village, and Old Helga's secrets are hard to buy for any price.

Exegesis

What lives in the forest? By what instrument will the forest oppose the machinations of men?
As of now, a necromancer named Edwin who has a skeletal butler.  Seriously.  Other than that, the forest is made for spirits and fey, with the addition of slightly more material foes such as brownies and dwarves, all of whom are progressively more irritated by the spike in activity near their border.  The goal of my session tomorrow will be to push the players into the forest and start generating the friction necessary for adventure.  The aim is reconciliation, but the greed of the settlers will be hard to quell, and the forces of nature are not known to compromise.
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- Currently working on: The Smoking Hills - A bottom-up, seat-of-my-pants, fairy tale adventure!

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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2012, 05:09:34 AM »

How is it that this "small subsistence farming community" can have much in the way of specialized professions present? How did they produce enough food to survive before the recent influx of outsiders without everyone being a farmer?
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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2012, 12:38:21 PM »

Ghostman

How is it that this "small subsistence farming community" can have much in the way of specialized professions present? How did they produce enough food to survive before the recent influx of outsiders without everyone being a farmer?
I suppose it might have been a misnomer to refer to it as strictly subsistence farming.  I want there to be some specialized professions, as indicated by my first post.  Presumably the primary exports of the village in trade would be alcohol made from their crops, and this brings in just enough money to circulate coins about the town.  As for the amount of food they produced before, there are several farmers with families who see to managing larger farms, with the village en masse helping out during big harvests.
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Previously: Natural 20, Critical Threat, Rose of Montague
- Currently working on: The Smoking Hills - A bottom-up, seat-of-my-pants, fairy tale adventure!

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« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2012, 04:35:38 AM »

Out of Character

Finished the first session tonight.  It ran pretty well despite the fact that it happened between 1 am and 4 am due to the fact that one of my players had failed to build a character while another had accidentally deleted his character sheet.  At this point, I will include the session summary in the thread for my own record keeping and for those who are curious.  Feedback on the way the game went is totally welcome in this thread in addition to feedback on the setting, as it evolved rather rapidly due to my improvised plot of wonder.

Note

The party consists of four players.  All of them are from out of town, and agreed to be at least familiar with each other before the session started.
  • Father Ethgar Mercsyspinner, priest of the Church of the Circle: A Cleric with the Priest background and Defender specialty.
  • Juan Yew: A Fighter with the Soldier background and Survivor specialty.
  • Landon Gallowglass: A Wizard with the Sage background and Magic User specialty.
  • Beod “The Bow” Rylan: A Fighter with the Thief background and the Jack of all Trades specialty.

The Stage

The horse beneath you shivers again.  It's been almost an hour since the sun dipped below the horizon and over a day since you stepped off the train from the capital.  It's been raining since dawn.  The excuse for a road that winds in front of you is little more than a rutted wagon trail that has been reduced to a protracted mud puddle by the deluge.  The wagon you are escorting struggles on through the mud, the most frightening creaking coming from the wheels.  Pushing it out of the mud has become a common exercise in misery, and the thought of abandoning the cart due to a broken wheel is just too much of a loss to stand, as it would render the cold ache in your boots a futile inconvenience.  It is this monotonous plodding and creaking in the damp and the cold that is broken finally by the sight of fires ahead.  The settler's camp is before you, looming in both light and sound.  As you approach what you make out to be a crude shed, the night's watchmen, bearing a delightfully motley selection of armor pieces hails you.  “Welcome to the edge of the world” he cries, “There's plenty of room on the ground if you're poor, or rooms in the inn if you want to be.”  He waves you past the horse lines and onward toward the village proper.  Your merchant benefactor pays you hurriedly and skitters back under the cover of his wagon to escape the rain.  You find yourself turning your horse along the track into the village proper, seeking out the Leaning Inn.  Maybe you'll know what it's like to be warm and dry again before this cold gets far enough into your bones that it stays there.

Note

At the table, this out of character exchange takes place.
  • Ethgar's Player: "Do you think wood would be a euphemism for penis in this world?"
  • DM:Yes, but because it symbolizes terror and the unknown.  Which is exactly how the church likes it."
  • Ethgar's Player: "Good, then Father Ethgar laughs."
The First Night:The players enter town and approach the inn, marked by the dangling sign featuring a stylized representation of a stone wall, making note of the fact that it is made or raw and unfinished timbers.  This hasty construction appears to contribute to the uneasy lean of the building toward the street.  Upon entering the inn, they acquire several mugs of grain alcohol made by the locals and sit down to meal of bland, but hot, potatoes.  At this point in time, Beod decides to engage the Woodsman at the bar in pursuit of work, only to botch his dialogue so poorly that he comes across as running a protection racquet rather than looking for employment.  Additionally, the predisposition of the Woodsman toward outsiders to the village is unfavorable at best, so he spurns Beod's advances with the declaration that he doesn't want any trouble.  Despite this awkwardness, the rest of the party comes to the conclusion that a good day of honest work would be a fine way to spend their time, and Father Ethgar and Juan assist in reattempting a proposition of the Woodsman to work with him gathering firewood tomorrow, which he accepts.

Before the night ends, and just before the party is headed off to bed, a group of ragamuffins from the next table over attempts to pick a fight with Thomas at the bar over his refusal to serve them more alcohol.  As they grow progressively more rowdy, the party determines that they should step in in order to garner favor with the villagers.  Landon, the wizard, then proceeds to wave his hand under the table and mutter something into his mug, resulting in the immediate unconsciousness of the trouble-makers at the bar.  Since nobody other than the party noticed the use of magic, it was assumed a great stroke of luck that they all felt the liquor at once and fell asleep.  The party then proceeded to volunteer to drag the men out into the stables to sleep off their drinking.

The Second Day:  The next day begins early, and as the party descends into the inn's main room they notice that Brandon has beat them there, almost as if he slept in the inn last night himself, despite being from town.  From the looks of the bags under his eyes, the more expensive bed didn't seem to do him much good, in any case.  As the party leaves the inn they take solace in the fact that the rain has finally stopped.  The town is still muddy, but that is a tolerable matter.  Setting out on the muddy extension of the wagon track that leads through town and away from the camps, Juan and Ethgar both notice cloven hoof prints in the mud in front of the inn, but neglect to say anything to the rest of the party about it.

The party arrives at a modest but sturdy wooden home with an attached shed, whose foundation is snugly abutting a low stone wall that runs parallel to the edge of the forest that is now visible.  The wall is about three feet tall, and appears to continue in both directions away from the house, uninterrupted, as far the eye can see unaided, with the notable exception of the gap right by the front door of the house itself.  Brandon retrieves several hatchets and loads them onto a sledge, which a mule he fetches from behind the house pulls out past the wall and on the track into the woods.

Once in the woods, the party members all assist in the wood-chopping except for Landon, who sits on a stump and studies while the rest of his companions sweat and groan.  Brandon seems to focus on extracting dead wood wherever he can, but when enough is not available he cuts a small, upward facing crescent into the trunk before felling any living trees.  Father Ethgar and Landon both recognize that this is the remnant of a pagan ritual that is quite heretical in the eyes of the church.  When asked by Juan what he is doing and why he does it, Brandon mumbles something about it being a habit his father taught him, and he keeps it up to this day as a small token of respect to the forest.

After the day's work is done, the party joins Brandon in delivering the firewood, by sledge, to various homes and businesses in the town.  Through this, they meet Harold the blacksmith, who greets Brandon quite affectionately, and is honored to meet Father Ethgar.  Harold mentions that he always loved the Church, but never could manage to wrap his head around all the words.  Father Ethgar finds this exchange quite amusing and agrees to meet Harold for drinks at the inn later that night.

The next delivery on their route is to Alexander Marcus Hamilton the Third, who latches on to the chance for conversation and never lets go.  While Brandon and the rest of the party try to placate him and leave, Landon sticks around and presses him for information.  It becomes readily apparent that Alexander is not going to tip his hand about any magical capacities or even his undue interest in fairy tales.  Instead, Alexander unleashes a torrent of words about his research in geology and dismisses all accusations that he is knowledgeable about fairy tales as just an idle hobby of his.  Landon doesn't trust him however, and looks carefully for spellbooks or any signs of a caster during the conversation to the best of his ability.  Although he finds nothing, he does indicate that he would be more than happy to talk over drinks later that night at the inn.

The rest of the party heads back to Brandon's home before returning with a sledge loaded with new timbers for additional construction and reinforcement of the Leaning Inn.  As they arrive, they recognize the night's watchman who welcomed them into town having a heated discussion on the porch with Thomas, who is sweating profusely.  Getting closer yields the words involved to the party, who quickly gather that the ruffians from the bar last night failed to make it back to the camps for work today, and since their last known whereabouts were the inn, Thomas is suspected of foul play.  Upon hearing this, the party wastes no time in beating it to the stables to check on their “friends” from the night before.  Their acute perceptive abilities reveal that late last night after they were dragged into the bar, the ruffians were dragged out again.  Additionally, cloven hoof prints are visible in the mud.  Beod's knowledge of tracking reveals that the hoof prints are in fact bipedal in origin, leading to a great deal of confusion and worry amongst the party.  In the light of this new information, Landon drops some knowledge of Satyrs, creatures of the forest associated with music and mischief, but he reasserts that this is all obviously myth.  Regardless, tracking the hoof prints and the dragged men leads only out of the main drag out town and the fields, before turning toward the low stone wall and the forest itself.  Unfortunately, the rain makes tracking impossible after this point, and so the party returns to the inn.

The Second Night:  The return to the inn is shortly followed by a conversation with Brandon regarding the hoof prints and the location of the men.  Upon hearing mention of the footprints, Brandon goes quiet and pale, staring into his pitcher.  Pressed further, he reveals that there had always been signs, whether it was a missing pig or sounds in the night, even hoof prints by the gap in the wall.  However, with the coming of the settlers the signs had increased prodigiously, and it was because of these signs that he moved out of his house and has been sleeping in the inn.  Mentioning Satyrs by name, Brandon grows even more pale and draws quiet.  Finally, he says that tomorrow he will lead the party to the home of Old Helga, who can do more to answer their questions than he can.

Shortly after this conversation takes place, Alexander Marcus Hamilton the Third arrives at the bar, with his own bottle of old liquor.  Thomas rolls his eyes upon seeing him and retreats to the kitchen to avoid being besieged with words, and so Alexander joins the party at their table.  Brandon withdraws into himself after the conversation just held, and is largely quiet as at first, Landon inquires with Alexander about the actual fairy tales he knows.  After Alexander drops a simple tale resembling Hansel and Gretel, Landon asks him if he knows anything about Satyrs.  For the first time anyone could recall, Alexander was silent.  Then, a quick couple of blinks later, his face entirely blank, he asked Landon “What is a Satyr?”.  Everyone could see plain as day that he was lying and feigning ignorance, but instead of pressuring him by confronting the issue, Landon instead introduced Alexander to Father Ethgar, then dragged Beod out of the inn with him.  Father Ethgar was less than pleased, especially as Juan chose this time to leave the table and strike up a conversation with the night's watchman, who had made himself a new post at the bar, wherein he was keeping a sharp eye on his rotgut.

Landon drags Beod out of the inn and proposes a plan to break into Alexander's rented room, as it is attached to the back of the inn and they know that he is currently occupied.  They detect magic and check for traps, with Beod disabling a simple string on the door's latch that would indicate it had been opened, then picking the lock itself.  Once inside, Beod starts searching for gold or valuables, but Landon stops him, implying that they can always come back before leaving town, rather than raising suspicions now.  Landon himself uses detect magic to identify the location of a scroll of comprehend languages pressed into volume five of the Treatise on the Smoking Hills and Industrialization Possibilities by Alexander Marcus Hamilton the Third, while another book is revealed to be hollow, containing a pouch of spell components.  The only other thing of note is a folio of loose notes on fairy tales in the form of an unpracticed ethnography, attributed to be the testimony of Old Helga, although a cursory analysis reveals nothing in it about Satyrs.  Landon decides not to steal anything, content with the knowledge he now holds that Alexander is likely a magic-user.  Before the burglars can leave however, there is a knock at the door.  A look through the slats by Beod reveals it is Alexander himself, and he waves.  Opening the door, the confrontation is understated.  Landon and Beod fumble for an excuse, and finding nothing, Alexander asks them to leave politely, as it is time that he retired for the evening.  An assessment of his attitude at this time would conclude that he was rightfully seething at the violation of privacy.  Beod and Landon return to the inn.

While Landon and Beod were out back, breaking and entering, Juan headed to the bar to start up a conversation with the night's watchman who had greeted them on their way into town, and who earlier that day had alerted them to the disappearance of the ruffians.  After buying him a drink, Juan got the whole story from the man, who introduced himself as Ethan.  Ethan had in fact been a militia man himself, before coming out to the village in search of work.  His experience in organization and rudimentary military experience gave him enough authority that the merchants and other powerful people in the camp place him in charge of security.  As such, he now led a small group of enforcers in the employment of the wealthier members of the camp, but as a common man he felt torn.  There was constant pressure from too many sides, the village and the camp, the wealthy and the needs of the poor.  Additionally, he had been tasked with heading up into the hills to one of the smaller claims and investigating the failure to report of two known good-for-nothings, Lent and Spent, despite a total lack of the necessary men to watch the camp while he was gone.  Juan reassures him, volunteering himself and the party as independent contractors who could look into the missing workers as well as investigate the silent claim in exchange for a cut of the watchman's budget.  Ethan appeared relieved by this offer, accepting heartily and then stumbling back toward his tent in the camp.  Shortly afterward, Landon and Beod returned from their misadventure and the party retired to bed.

Out of Character

At this point, the game ended for the night.  The party has clearly defined their goals at this time to be finding and speaking with Old Helga about the Satyrs and then investigating the claim of Lent and Spent to help out Ethan.  We meet again on Saturday.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 11:59:31 AM by Numinous » Logged

Previously: Natural 20, Critical Threat, Rose of Montague
- Currently working on: The Smoking Hills - A bottom-up, seat-of-my-pants, fairy tale adventure!

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« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2012, 05:27:00 PM »

The setting has trains and body armour; an intriguing anachronism. Does it also have firearms? If so, what manner of ordnance do the creatures of the forest possess?

Are any of the night's watchmen Smoking Hills locals, or are they all newcomers? How does their presence/proximity affect the village? Do they possess any real authority? Who organises, funds and polices them?

What do common people know of necromancy? What is Edwin doing in the forest? Do his presence and his dark sorceries affront the forest and its inhabitants?
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« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2012, 12:11:24 PM »

Exegesis

The setting has trains and body armour; an intriguing anachronism. Does it also have firearms? If so, what manner of ordnance do the creatures of the forest possess?
  It does indeed have firearms, although I am not 100% yet on how I am handling them.  I am reemphasizing my old and overused idea that iron and magic are antithetical, and so I imagine it will likely be the case that guns are more unreliable, expensive, and difficult to enchant in comparison to bows.  As far as the creatures of the forest, they would not be using firearms by any means, instead relying on medieval style weapons and illusory or charming magic at this point.

Exegesis

Are any of the night's watchmen Smoking Hills locals, or are they all newcomers? How does their presence/proximity affect the village? Do they possess any real authority? Who organises, funds and polices them?
  The night's watchmen are all from the camp, as keeping a watch in the village before the boom was essentially a formality.  The village is largely uncomfortable with their presence, as they attempt to maintain some degree of order despite their authority coming from the proprietors of the camp itself.  Their authority extends mostly over the camp and the ruffians within, and their primary purpose is more like Jedi at this point, in that they serve to mediate conflicts between the village and the camp, as well as contain the camp workers and look over them.  They are funded by a small purse put forth by the merchants and wealthier patrons fo the camp as a means to institute order, and honestly, protect the stratification of social class and the power it brings in the frontier.

Exegesis

What do common people know of necromancy? What is Edwin doing in the forest? Do his presence and his dark sorceries affront the forest and its inhabitants?
  The common people fear necromancy as unnatural and they fear it because the Church tells them to.  Edwin at this time exists as an unknown, the only one who knows he is there being Old Helga.  He is largely self-sufficient as he doesn't eat much, and what supplies he needs he acquires through Helga.  His research is conducted in the forest so that he does not have to deal with the scrutiny of the civilized world and the paranoia of the common people.  He perceives necromancy as the logical extension of magical power and a transcendent art, although his real goal is to accrue enough knowledge to resurrect his dead wife, whose corpse remains preserved in the basement of his house.  The forest has always tolerated him, since he pays respect to the natural powers and he does not penetrate the mysteries of the forest.  In a sense, the woods understand that he is an outcast of civilization, and so long as he doesn't try to raise an army, he is accepted.

Thanks for your questions.  I have finished writing up the session in my second post, and my next update will likely be an attempt to put some names and faces in the camp itself, starting with Captain Ethan, who makes an appearance at the beginning and end of the session note.
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Previously: Natural 20, Critical Threat, Rose of Montague
- Currently working on: The Smoking Hills - A bottom-up, seat-of-my-pants, fairy tale adventure!

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