Thursday, 23 June 2016

II.11 The Ranger

Newthrone, Q’barra
Dravago 6, 997 YK

When Esthana came down to the hostel’s common room the next morning, the lizardfolk was waiting for her. The common room was fairly quiet, with a few halflings moving from table to table collecting tankards and cleaning the remains of the previous night’s party, and no other guests in sight.

Time for the character sheet.

Nyseris - Ranger. Damage d8, hit points 20.
Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha
16 +2 15 +1 12 +0 9 +0 13 +1 8 -1

Alignment: Good: Endanger yourself to combat an unnatural threat

Race: Lizardfolk (Cold Sun): When you keep still in natural surroundings, enemies never spot you until you make a movement.

Moves: Command (Snake companion: Ferocity +2, Cunning +2, Instinct +1; stealthy, keen senses), Called Shot, Hunt and Track

Equipment: Hunter’s bow, Spear, Leather armour, Adventuring gear

Scaly skin is probably as good as leather anyway, so let’s say the leather is actually their skin.

We should check what languages the party speaks; it has not really mattered until now:
Vaalyun: Common, Elven
Esthana: Common, Elven
Anaya: Common, Celestial
Nyseris: Draconic, Common.

The lizardfolk was sitting at one of the tables, and seemed better equipped for the wilds than for a city. They wore no clothes, with just a belt and baldric to hold their bow and spear—though Esthana supposed that scaly skin was as tough as leather. Their skin was grey and white, mottled with blue-grey flecks.

Esthana would have just nodded and walked past, but the lizardfolk rose as soon as she appeared and approached her. “May I see you s–sword again?” they asked.

“No, why—let me pass.”

“The silver fire, it was so beautiful. I have never seen its like. I am Nyseris.” The lizardfolk towered over Esthana and blocked her way, although they did not seem threatening.

Esthana frowned, but she was a templar, so spreading the light of the Flame was a duty for her now. She stepped back and drew her sword; the silver fire of the Flame flickered around the blade.

Two CHA 8 characters walk into a bar...

Let’s see how much Nyseris actually knows about the Silver Flame.

Spout Lore(Nyseris): 2D6(4 2) +0 = 6 Failure!
Introduce a new faction or type of creature, Past Conflict, Present Intrigue: The Church of the Silver Flame contains agents working for the Overlords

I had this in mind already. It’s strange that Tassis, the Templar’s Commander of Foreign Lands, doesn’t know that there is a whole civilisation of lizardfolk out in the jungle here that worships the Flame. But perhaps he, or a predecessor, did know and the knowledge has been suppressed, to hinder the Flame’s work.

Nyseris’ mouth hung open in awe. They reached out to touch the blade; Esthana would have stopped them, but they were too fast. But the Flame did not burn them, and Nyseris simply said, “It is wonderful. I have never s–seen the fire on a weapon before.”

“I am Esthana, a Templar of the Flame,” said Esthana. “The Flame is the source of peace and light in Eberron: it shields us all from the darkness that lies beneath.”

“I know s–so little of humans,” said Nyseris. “I have never heard of humans carrying the orn ixen before.”

Discern Realities(Esthana): 2D6(4 5) +1 = 10 Success!
What here is useful or valuable to me? Who’s really in control here? What here is not what it appears to be?

Control: Right now, Nyseris seems to be in the palm of your hand.
For the others, let’s answer in the text.

Esthana considered for a moment. Nyseris was clearly a tracker, and useful in a fight, and they would know the jungles outside of Newthrone well. Perhaps they would help us.

“Join us for breakfast, and I will introduce you to Lady Anaya—she is a cleric of the Flame.”

Nyseris followed Esthana to the private room that Vaalyun had arranged for them. Anaya and Vaalyun were already seated and eating. Esthana introduced Nyseris to them, though Nyseris was entirely interested in Anaya.

“Ah yes–s,” Nyseris said, “the one whose hand burns with the silver fire. Honoured to meet you.”

“With respect, Templar,” Vaalyun cut in, “we have important matters to discuss. In private.”

“Anaya, you said that some of the lizardfolk of Q’barra follow the Dragon Below?” asked Esthana.

“So the Commander’s report said.” Anaya looked to Esthana.

Spend hold(Esthana): What here is not what it appears to be?

“Nyseris touched my sword, and was not burned. They are certainly not part of that.”

Spout Lore(Nyseris): 2D6(4 3) +0 = 7 Partial success.
Vague information

“Khyber?” asked Nyseris, an expression of anger forming on their face. “My tribe is gul siksta; we do not worship that one.”

“What do your people know of Khyber?” Anaya asked.

“Only what is said in the Tale of Beginning.” Nyseris retold the legend by rote, as if they had heard it many times. “In the emptiness, the three Great Dragons danced. Siberys placed stars-s as she went, lighting the sky; behind her, Khyber ate the stars greedily. Finally, Siberys turned to face her s–sister; for thousands of years, the two fought, until Khyber dealt the killing blow. Filled with triumph and anger, Khyber turned on Eberron, but she refused the fight, and for a thousand years more they fought, Khyber striking and Eberron dodging aside from every blow. Eventually, Khyber tired, and Eberron surrounded her, so she could do no more harm. The dragons slept, Khyber below, Eberron between, and the body of Siberys circling above. And thus–s was the world formed.”

Esthana’s mind turned back to the prison cell in Thaliost, where the light of the Ring of Siberys had made the night less dark for her.

“The Silver Flame has shown us a vision of Khyber stirring; somewhere in Q’barra, some group tries to awaken this ancient evil.” Anaya said.

“That mus–st not be,” said Nyseris and, while their Common was distorted coming from a lizardfolk, Esthana sensed the determination in their voice. “We will aid you in this, if we can.”

Count Zuokas’ estate was a few miles outside of Newthrone. Parts of the jungle close to the city had been cleared to make way for agriculture, and the Count’s estate was in this area. The manor house itself was three storeys high, the lowest storey made of fine marble with the upper floors made of wood. It was a fine building designed to show the owner’s wealth; Vaalyun guessed that the Count owned many of the surrounding plantations.

Blur the lines between magic and technology: arcane powered pumps would be very Eberron.

He and Nyseris were at the edge of a copse of trees on a hill, overlooking the field in front of the manor. The sky was clear and the afternoon air was warm and humid, though no doubt less so than in the jungle itself—Vaalyun, used to the cities of the Five Nations, found it stifling, but Nyseris was untroubled by it. A few metres away from them, an arcane screw turned without pause, lifting water from an acquifer into an irrigation channel.

They had been watching the manor for hours, and had seen some comings and goings but little to excite interest. A covered wagon had pulled up an hour ago, but had not been unloaded yet.

“Do the lizardfolk trade much with the human settlements?” asked Vaalyun. He was still sceptical about letting Nyseris join the group, but he saw the value in another perspective on the local politics.

“No,” Nyseris replied, without taking their eyes from the manor house. “The humans promised thirty years ago to leave our lands be; but s–still small groups come and take dragonshards–s or loot ruins from time to time.”

“Adventurers hoping to get lucky and get rich; there’s no stopping them.”

“You think they act against the wishes of their chiefs?”

“Yes and no,” said Vaalyun. “They act without permission, but kings are happy enough to reap the benefits of their work all the same.”

Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities: Nyseris’ animal companion has keen senses.

“Quiet.” Nyseris dropped down lower; despite their great size, they almost vanished in the foliage when they wanted to. Vaalyun shrank back as well.

Two humans, armed with crossbows, were walking down the edge of the field, quite close to where the elf and lizardfolk hid.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Vaalyun): 2D6(2 1) +1 = 4 Failure!
Put someone in a spot

“I thought I saw something over here,” said one of them, a bald man in his fourties. “Who goes there? Svaust gethrisjic mobi?

Vaalyun could not move while they were looking at his hiding place, but knew they would see him if they approached. He began to channel the power of his Dragonmark, reaching out to the shadow behind the man.

Dragonmark(Vaalyun): 2D6(5 4) +2 = 11 Success!
Defy Danger(DEX)(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 6) +1 = 13 Success!

“Hey, what was that,” said the second patrolman; Vaalyun could not see him clearly. The bald man turned to see. Vaalyun had stretched his shadow strangely out of shape, but let it snap back into place quickly—just enough to distract them for a moment, long enough to sneak away behind a tree. The constant churning of the arcane screw nearby masked the sound as he shifted through the foliage.

Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities: Nyseris’ animal companion has stealthy.

Suddenly, a fox ran rushing past Vaalyun and burst out from the foliage in front of the two patrolmen. They started, then one slapped the other on the back. “Come on, it’s just some trees. Let’s get on with this.” They walked off, continuing on their patrol.

Vaalyun breathed a sigh of relief, and moved back into position at the edge of the treeline once they had departed. Nyseris emerged as well; he had not been able to see them hiding.

Discern Realities(Nyseris): 2D6(4 2) +1 = 7 Partial success.
What happened here recently?

“A patrol,” said Nyseris. They then said something soothing, in their own language, to the snake wrapped around their left arm.

“Did they startle your snake?” Vaalyun found it disconcerting that the lizardfolk kept the snake about their person most of the time.

“No; I told Asumre to startle that fox, to distract from your clums–sy attempt to hide.”

“Ah. I am more used to dark alleys than forest.” Vaalyun considered that he could get used to the snake, if it was capable of that.

“This is no forest, vaecaesin,” said Nyseris dismissively. “We have been here for hours, but this is the first time we s–saw a patrol. What is different?”

Discern Realities(Vaalyun): 2D6(1 3) 4 = +0 Failure!
Introduce a new faction or type of creature: Blackscale lizardfolk tracker is following the party

Initially I was going to just make the group that they are tracking be larger & more formidable, but then I had the idea of following up on the move last session where we found that Anaya was wanted by the Blackscales. I rolled a d2 (I’m making all the actual rolls in Roll20), 1 = danger ahead, 2 = danger behind. I got a 2.

They were right. Vaalyun saw that there was activity down at the manor now: some humans and dwarves were getting into the covered wagon, and more humans and halflings were forming up around the wagon. The troop was readying to leave.

“They are going to head out somewhere,” said Vaalyun. “We should follow them. You keep an eye on them, I’ll go get the others.”

Defy Danger(CON)(Anaya): 2D6(4 3) +0 = 7 Partial success.
Hard bargain

Anaya had to shed equipment.

The jungle north of Newthrone was ancient, little changed in thousands of years, and full of life and noise. Esthana was glad that the foliage overhead shielded them from the sun, but the air was hot and humid, and her plate mail was stifling. She had experienced worse in her army days, though; Anaya, on the other hand, was having a hard time, and Esthana offered to carry her shield to make things easier for her.

They had crossed into the jungle less than a mile from the manor. At the jungle’s edge, the troop that they were following had halted briefly while everyone disembarked from the wagon; the wagon could not pass through the jungle, so it had turned back to the manor. The troop then headed into the jungle, and the party had followed.

Hunt and Track(Nyseris): 2D6(4 5) +1+2 = 12 Success!
Gain a useful bit of information about your quarry

+2 for her companion, who specialises in hunting.

Nyseris and Vaalyun led the way, staying a little way ahead of the two Templars. They did not try to follow the troop too closely, as they did not want to risk being seen. Nyseris was easily able to follow their trail; every so often, they would stop and let their snake down to investigate some footprint or to slip through some disturbed foliage, and soon they would find the right trail.

“At the jungle’s edge, I was close enough to see that they took many weapons from the wagon,” Nyseris said at one point when the Templars caught up with the elf and lizardfolk.

“A warparty then?” said Esthana.

“The weapons were spears and s–shields—wooden, jungle-made. Not normal for humans,” said Nyseris. “Something is–s not right here.”

Anaya looked to Vaalyun, then said “We keep after them. Where they go, or what they do, may reveal their purpose here.”

The troop kept moving for a few more hours, then—Nyseris informed them—made camp. Nyseris found a gulch where the party could camp for the night, not too far from the clearing where the Count’s troop were resting.

Vaalyun had bought bedrolls and provisions from the Dragon’s Bounty before they left Newthrone, as they had expected to be out of the city for at least a few days while they investigated the Count. It was after dusk as they set up camp, and the jungle around them was dark; there was no lessening of the noise of the jungle around them, but the sounds changed, as day creatures retired and night creatures began to emerge.

Manage Provisions(Esthana): 2D6(1 6) +1 = 8 Partial success.
Normal camp, rations consumed

The jungle is not safe, so the party now makes the Perilous Wild’s version of the Make Camp move, to see if anything happens at night.

Make Camp(party): 2D6(5 6) +0 = 11 Success!
Heal; The night passes without incident.

Esthana was glad to take off some armour and sit by the fire awhile as the air cooled. Nyseris sat opposite her, lost in thought; Esthana supposed that the lizardfolk must have been travelling alone for a while.

“Tell us about your people, Nyseris,” she asked.

“The lizardfolk have always lived here,” said Nyseris. “The dragons gave us their blessing eons ago; this land is ours. My tribe is many days north-east of here, but there are many tribes throughout this land.”

“Are the tribes friendly; do they have a common ruler?”

“Many of the tribes are part of the gul siksta group; we seek to protect the jungle. There is no one ruler, but the... wise ones of the tribes talk if there is need—usually when the Blackscales threaten us–s.”

“Rival tribes?” asked Vaalyun.

“Yes. Our ancient enemies, Blackscales reject the harmony of the gul siksta.” There was some sadness, or resignation, as Nyseris said this. “They are strongest to the east, towards Haka’torvhak.”

“Why did you leave your tribe?” asked Anaya.

“More humankin come, searching deeper into the jungle than ever. We have los–st some of our lands already, and will lose more if the humans keep coming.” Nyseris turned her head in the direction where the Count’s troop was camped. “Whatever they are doing here, they bring only danger and death to us. I seek a way to stop the humankin harrying our lands.”

Make a Perilous Journey(party):
Scout Ahead(Nyseris): 2D6(3 3) +1+2 = 9 Partial success.
You get the drop on whatever lies ahead
Navigate(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 6) +2 = 14 Success!
You avoid dangers and distractions and make good time

On the next day, Nyseris scouted ahead, while Vaalyun led the two Templars through the jungle, following the markers that Nyseris left them.

Esthana was glad that they had the lizardfolk to do their scouting. Vaalyun was fit enough and stealthy when he wanted to be, and certainly faster than she or Anaya could be in armour, but he was unused to the jungle. They would have probably blundered into the troop’s scouts more than once without Nyseris’ guidance.

The troop made some attempt to conceal their passage, but they were a large group and easy for a skilled tracker like Nyseris to follow. The troop did have their own scouts, keeping a watch around the main group, and those were the main danger; but Nyseris was at home in the jungle, and could move faster through the undergrowth, or hide there easily.

In the early afternoon, the troop stopped. Nyseris rejoined the group.

Discern Realities(Nyseris): 2D6(4 3) +1 = 8 Partial success.
What is about to happen here?

“There is a gul siksta village ahead,” Nyseris said anxiously. “The humankin have camped far enough away not to be s–spotted, but they have scouts watching the village. Humankin here with weapons—they must plan to attack the village.”

“Why?” asked Anaya. “What would the village have that they want?”

Investigate(Vaalyun): 2D6(1 4) +2 = 7 Partial success.
Vague indication

I had this village raid in mind when I came up with the Cult’s first on-screen move here. Having Nyseris in the party has completely changed the party’s involvement in it, though: I imagined that the party would have a hard choice deciding whether to intervene, but with Nyseris here, it seems likely that they will aid the lizardfolk.

I rolled to see if Nyseris wants to warn the village, and the result was Yes.

“Perhaps it is not anything in the village; perhaps the motive is political,” said Vaalyun calmly. “The peace between Q’barra and the lizardfolk could be broken by such an attack. Do they aim to start a war?”

“I mus–st warn them,” said Nyseris, their agitation growing.

Esthana nodded. “Yes, they must be warned; we are too few to stop these humans—cultists, if that is what they are—alone anyway. But if they are watching the village, they will surely either attack or run as soon as they see the villagers roused.”

Okay, let’s cut it there before the big battle. The troop of Cultists number around 40, I think, and we will want a more powerful enemy or two amongst them. So it should be an interesting fight.

End of Session(party): Learning Eberron’s creation myth means that we did learn something important about the world, +1 XP for everyone.

Anaya: 0 failures; at 9XP.
Esthana: 0 failures; now at 4XP.
Nyseris: 1 failure; at 3XP.
Vaalyun: 2 failures; at 7XP.

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