Friday, August 31, 2012

Session #23: So you're in the army now...

{For the record... I embellished some of the NPC's responses here, but nothing that changes what the players know.  I just decided to spice things up a bit with the descriptions and scenery.

Game clock resumes a little after dawn; 03/07/3200}

For a few blissful hours after they arrive, there is a sense of relief, even one of security if not safety while they wait for the bureaucracy to catch up with them.  The can see that the camp is a nest of tremendous industry and activity, but all of it is mobile to one extent or another.  Off in the distance they can see that the city farther down the eastern slope of mountains they had just crossed; it has smoke from several fires raging through different sections.  The camp itself has several black-smithies, a mobile Guild Foundry along with hundreds of tents and temporary structures to process and house the ever growing ranks of the Imperial Army.  Dotted here and there are the camps of mercenary units each with their specialties. 

The clergy of the Empire are well represented within the camp; Gorhan being the embodiment of honorable battle is the most prevalent, followed by Justica the Incarnation of Justice and wife to Gorhan.  Soleth the Sheppard and Protector of Souls also has a traditionally strong presence in military affairs due to their healing abilities, but mostly because the temple of Elyr has the unsavory practice of healing friend and enemy alike… which has a nasty habit of prolonging any conflict.  The fact that She is unwelcome doesn’t deter Elyr’s faithful from establishing a large contingent of the Temple of Blessed Relief, but it is set off and apart from the actual military camp.  

 Milo is disappointed to find out that Ormazd is not a very popular God within the Empire due to the fact that the Clerics of the Sun chose not to take sides in the civil conflict between the Empire and its Southern Province.  Additionally, the temples of Ormazd are found mostly in that province and elsewhere in the sandy dunes of the Lost Lands, so there is a general disapproval of his presence.  Fortunately Ormazd is the father of Gorhan and there is no escaping the fact that Milo outranks every other cleric here of his level or lower; with the only exception being the clerics from the Order of Soleth.  It is this rank that actually affords the adventurers some status and means the Commanders will at least have to listen politely to them before sending them off to fates unknown.

The first tendril of the Imperial bureaucracy to arrive is the Guild Road master for this line. On officious chap being carried about on a desk that has a half-dozen legs sticking out from underneath; a chair was affixed to the side opposite the viewer and there was a rather garish umbrella on a metal pole to protect him from the elements.  He had not seemed to be at all pleased by Archie’s tardiness and the Road Master wandered off with Archie following upon his cart… the two of them deep in a discussion that got more animated as they got farther away.  The Heroes of Silverton get the feeling that Archie is deep in one of the most important arguments of his life. 

After a little while a pompous looking man in robes arrives at their camp followed by a parade of servants each seemed tasked with carrying several thick tomes bound with heavy locks as well as several pieces of a portable office.   A few moments later most of the travelers from Silverton are gathered around as the servant’s dash about, efficiently setting up the desk and chairs and have his writing implements set for him as he sits down in front of an opened ledger.  He takes his quill from a servant who has inked it for him.

“I’m Lord Reginald of the Imperial Registry and now Quartermasters Office.  You have answered the call to duty and the Emperor salutes you.”  This was a practiced speech and not one that he seemed to particularly care for, or even believe.  He continues in the same disinterested voice, “Now, who are you that your service may be recorded?” The party of dungeon delvers decide to let everyone else get processed first, and when it is their turn they give their names and other pertinent information to the Lordly Scribe and then Milo takes full advantage of his rank, “I really think that the first order of business is to arrange an audience with representatives from the temples of Gorhan, Justica, and Thormyr.”

Lord Reginald is shocked at the audacity of being spoken to in this fashion and he blinks a few times not quite sure how to proceed.  “And why would you be important enough to merit such attentions?”

Dwight, in a deep flat voice; “That’s why we need the clerics here.  Without them no one would believe us anyway.”

This was most assuredly NOT the answer the lordly burocrat was expecting and as such he seemed more intrigued than annoyed.  A servant was waiting for him as he snapped his fingers, and the lord speaks over his shoulder absently, “You understand the requirements…?”

“Yessir!” and the servant is off and running even as Lord Reginald is vaguely waiving his hand.  Not once having even looked at the servant.

He continues, “Very well, but for your sake I hope this is not an attempt to avoid your duty, or worse… wasting my time.”

After the representatives from the various temples arrive, each of them tells their story; only leaving out things like treasure acquired and the part about handing over the key to the gypsies; but each of them makes sure that they are standing firmly within the Aura of Truth projected by the clergy of Justica.  By the time they are done there are several more clerics of Justica on the scene creating overlapping fields of influence just to see if these people had found some way to circumvent this divine power.  As the heroes stories come to a close Dwight turns to the clerics of Thormyr and unwraps the Sword of Conviction and says; “I think this belongs to you.”

Sword; “I belong to myself and the goals for which I was crafted by the hands of the Arch-druid Cyramath 3262 years ago!  My destiny was determined long ago and Thormyr guards the way to my future.  I have killed giants, and dragons, kings and paupers: but I was made to slay the Dread Watcher!”  The Sword knew this was likely its only chance, and was aided by the fact that it need not stop for breath, “It all started back in 1806 when the Red Emperor, the last Demon-King of Old Nimoria commanded the greatest demonic army ever summoned so that he might rid the world of non-human filth.  He ordered his arch-mage to devise the necessary rituals and in his researches, the Demonologist known as Skullshank summoned forth the entity known only as the Dread Watcher to instruct him.  It is a foul creature that has the power to see the past, present and future with perfect clarity and accuracy, and it told Skullshank that the Emperor’s command could only be fulfilled upon the solar eclipse in the summer of 3202.  Skullshank was ordered put to death, but the Emperor chose to summon his own army and to rely upon the Dread Watcher to help him crush his enemies.

But the forces of the Elves and Daenkelder still proved too much for his demonic horde, so he turned his attentions eastward to Kothia.  That mighty nation would have fallen were it not for the brave efforts of Arden Brightheart, myself, and his loyal company of soldiers.  We had lured the Nimorian forces deep into Kothian territory and hidden ourselves within a cave that had been blessed by Thormyr himself to shield us from the evil eyes of the Dread Watcher.  Thus vexed, the vile creature was drawn to the cave and there we did battle!  The brave and loyal company died to a man trying to contain the vile being once the trap had been sprung, but in the end it came down to Arden and I to vanquish the Dread Watcher for all of time and Arden allowed himself to be struck a mortal blow in order to skewer the foul spirit.  And his strike was so powerful that it pierced the Dread Watcher and pinned it to the wall of the cave where it remained as my ossified sheath for thousands of years… until that greedy beast of a man pulled me out and shipped me off like third rate luggage!  Then I was put in that awful cell until this uncouth man delivered me here.”

All of the Priests of Thormyr were pale by now and one of them stammers; “Then the Dread Watcher walks freely again?”

Sword; “For a good many months now… weren’t you listening?”

Different priest of Thormyr; “Yep.  That’s the Sword of Conviction all right.”

Dwight; “So it’s yours then?”

Priest of Thormyr; “No!  Our lord has chosen you. So it is up to you to complete this task.”

Sword; “May the Gods help us all…”  the rest is muffled by Dwight rolling up the sword into the leather sheet and then bound it off and secured it on his back again.

By now several of the officials and lords that were actually in charge of this camp were making alterations to their plans and handing over samples of the silver polish and distributing copies of the formula to the alchemists.  In the shuffle the commanders decided to formally assemble the Heroes of Silverton into a ‘Detached’ unit on special assignment.  They ask who is in charge and everyone but Dwight takes a step backwards… and that’s mostly because Bob got behind him and wouldn’t let him move.  The commander of the camp grants Dwight the field promotion to Knight-Sergeant of the Realm.  They tell him to report the command structure and coat of arms to the Registry and then recruit such troops as will volunteer. 

After this the meeting breaks up and the adventurers move back into the familiar surroundings of the train that they have lived in for the last week.  Of those who left Silverton, only the deankelder who finally introduces himself to them as Khrasus of Soulgrave, a weapon smith and mercenary by trade; Lex Anne, and the Gavid the Huntsman.  The rest were swallowed up into the camp and off to their various fates.

They appoint Milo as second in command, and Archie is the Quartermaster, so that makes him third in charge of the company.  Archie retains full command over guild property and they are not happy about the detached duty status… the Engineer's Guild likes to know where every engineer and piece of equipment is at all times.  As Dwight is briefed on the military command structure and their overall plan they ask him if his unit will be going with the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd wave of troops, or whether they will set their own schedule.  The first wave leaves in 4 days and then the others follow in 2 week intervals.  They decide to travel with the army on the third wave so they can take maximum advantage of the army’s resources and supplies; but most importantly, because they want to stay informed about all the latest developments.

The rest of the session covers the first 16 of the 32 days before they set out towards Blessings Be.  Most of this time is spent figuring out if they want to keep the passenger car and add personnel or drop the car and travel lighter with a minimum complement.  Archie says the pluming can only handle 30 more people beyond everyone that is already here.  {They go for the cannon fodder… I mean extra troops.Two of them are 1st level clerics of Elyr named Ethel and Nanda; Ethel has strength and agility scores of 5, but has a 17 stamina and 18 for Personality.  Two are wizards of Aristemis; brothers Earol and Marol Dayrl.  Earol is the elder and he has an Intelligence score of 13 and is 2nd level, but only has a luck score of 7 and s strength of 3.  {I have all the stats, saves, and HP for everyone on scratch paper… most won’t last long.}   

Including Khrasus and Gavid there are 20 warriors Khrasus is 4th level (Dwarf), there are 6, 2nd level warriors and 12 first level warriors.  All but Khrasus have studded leather armor along with a shield and axe.  Khrasus is wearing full platemail and a shield.  About 10 of the warriors are best as archers… and one was given permanent kitchen duty.

They asked around for any specialty troops, and managed to sign on 3 steam knights, which are another marvel of Gnomish Teknologie.  These are essentially a suit of full platemail that has steam powered gear-work and a gnome pilot inside of each.  There is also a trio of rangers who sign on.  A couple of clerics of Elyr named Ethel and Nanda follow Hearn back from their enclave when she returns from buying the healing supplies and tithing to her temple.

Thingerlun spends his time searching for the area set aside for his order of wizards, and is directed to a district on the edge of the camp where there are several huts and shacks that appear to have grown out of the ground as well as a great many ornate doorways standing all over the encampment.  There is no discernible pattern or distribution of the doors and no two are alike.  One of the huts is acting as a tavern (because none of the others will serve wizards) and after a day of poking around he gets the name and door number for the wizard he needs to see about procuring a particular spell.

An old scraggly haired man opens the door; “Who are you that you would bother Therard of Kassantia before mid-day!”

Thingerlun puffs himself up; “It is Thingerlun, Wizard of the 3rd circle of Aristemis.”

Therard; “Oh, your that chap with the dragon familiar?  What do you want?” And the old man came outside and locked the door behind him.

Thingerlun; “I was looking to trade for some spells.”

Therard; “Well, I doubt I have anything you’d be interested in, you can’t cast fireball yet.  I have Choking Cloud and Sleep; those are good spells against orc because they cover an area.”

Thingerlun; “Actually I have Sleep, and what I’m looking for is the spell of extra sensory perception.”

Therard looks at him quizzically; “Whatever for?  You going to sift orc minds for anything of value?  Waste of time boy!”

Thingerlun says with an element of detached boredom to his voice; “I’m going to sift their minds for the location of their leader and kill him.  The Scourge will dissolve if it doesn’t have a leader.”

Therard stands there for a moment like a horse that’s been pole-axed; “Ambitious.”

Thingerlun; “Do you have the spell I’m looking for or not? And if so what’s the price.”

Therard; “I do, but that is a second degree spell so I would have 2 spells of the first degree or one of equal value, might I look through you spell book to see if there is anything I don’t already have?”

It was an innocent enough question, but Thingerlun isn’t a fool; “No, you shall have to tell me what you are looking for.”

Therard; “Well, no harm in asking.  At the moment I could really use Force Manipulation and Ropework if you have them.”

Thingerlun; “Actually, I have the Force Manipulation, but how about Spider Climb instead?”

Therard thinks for a moment; “Yah, that’ll do fine.  Wait here; I’ll go get my things.”

A few moments later he returns and a mound of fabric follows him out the door and starts to assemble itself into a small pavilion with a writing desk and a few chairs.  Thingerlun recognizes that they are being set up by unseen servants; it seems that Therard is showing off a bit.  Therard sits down at the desk opposite to Thingerlun and opens his spell book to a blank page: now, you sit there and open your book to the right pages so that I may scribe the spells while you review this scroll I had prepared for just such an occasion.  Thingerlun unrolls it and recognizes the basics of the spell well enough to see that this is the proper spell and then opens his book to the right pages and then spends the afternoon enduring Therard’s feeble attempts at hospitality while the old man copies over the spells he bargained for.  When he is finished Thingerlun closes his spell book and starts to leave then stops and says; “One last thing…” and as he turns to face Therard to ask him another question he sees that Therard has adopted a combat stance and is pointing a finger at him getting ready to cast. 

Therard; “You’ll not get the better o’me lad!  No funny business!”

Thingerlun; “I was just going to ask if you knew of any wizards who might be interested in joining up with me for a detached duty assignment?  Especially anyone who’s good with pyrotechnics and large areas.”

Therard relaxes a bit; “Oh, uh… try over at the Bent Wand, ask for the Daryl brothers, they’re good at making things go boom.”  And then he dashes for the door and slams it shut, the pavilion seems to fade into shadows and smoke.

Thingerlun wanders over to the edge of the wizard’s sector to the make-shift tavern and after buying drinks for a few people he finds the brothers and asks them if they are interested in signing up with a special unit.  They are enthralled with him immediately and introduce themselves as Earol and Marol Daryl.  Earol has eyes of a strange hue: one has a red iris and one a yellow iris.  Both appear to be weak and sickly, and Earol is the worse of the two, but they seem decent enough for wizards.  Marol has a squirrel peeking out from underneath the hood of his robe.  Earol says; "You’re the one who has the dragon familiar aren’t you?”  Upon confirmation the brothers fall all over themselves in their haste to join the company.

Thingerlun is thinking to himself as they all walk back to the train; “Neither of them is anywhere near my level of intellect, but they will do for fodder…  Now I need to start working on the reverse of the ESP spell as well as some of the others in my book.Thingerlun spends the rest of his time studying his spells and learning some new ones.

About 2 weeks after they arrived at the camp, the reports from the front start to filter down to the troop level and the news is good.  The efforts to liberate Longdale are progressing well.  The Flying citadel Sable Tower has moved into position deep behind enemy lines to the north of Longdale and the Knights of the Sable March have disrupted enemy supply lines.  Gorhan’s Fury is still on course for its appointed role in liberating Arval City.

Bob has spent his time arranging for some better coverings for the ‘buggy’ that Archie is letting them use; Bob isn’t fond of the idea that there is no roof on the thing and he has a feeling they are going to need it before all of this is through.  Archie gets a list of modifications so he can start to make arrangements for augmentations to the passenger car.  It’s carrying all the armor it can, but the interior can be modified to a certain extent.  Hearn has one of the luxury rooms modified to serve as a clinic.  Lex Anne claims the other luxury cabin because no one else seems that interested and spends the entire time gathering information and brewing things with her alchemy tools and the rooms kitchenette.  Archie arranges to upgrade the clockwork motors so that the train will be able to travel off the main roadway with greater ease…

Plans within plans... they slowly prepare for the trek eastward.
{Game clock suspended at noon, 03/ 23/ 3200}

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