Carouse, plan ahead, and pursue adventure hooks after The Moathouse, Part II here.
In the firelit common room of the Welcome Wench, Snickwick looks on with admiration as Audrey’s deft hands tend her charges , her lancet and needle darting just as deftly as her spear as she carves off bits of rotten flesh and sews fast their wounds.
While the Gnome lass Crumblerushes has suffered less physical trauma than the human captives, her mind has suffered a grave blow, and she is deeply traumatized by her captivity.
Snickwick will accouter an abandoned linen closed in the style of a gnomish bedroom, with blankets draped from walls and ceiling, and a small hammock hanging in the corner. He will share the many tales he has amassed of great Gnomish Enchanters of legend. With his most delicate application of his intelligence, Snickwick will attempt to rebuild for her a worldview of love and acceptance, casting out thoughts of fear and withdrawal, endeavoring to make her spirit whole once more.
Snickwick will hire a local seamstress to stitch up a traditional Gnomish kit of skirts, blouse, apron and cap. As no human hand could properly craft the fine curl toed boots of the Gnomes, he will offer his own, made snug with two pairs of stockings. Fastening the enchanted Sandals of the Traveller over his own thick wool socks, Snickwick is impressed by the easy comfort and style that combination affords – Sandals over socks is amazing!
Should his attentions be successful, Snickwick would want to enquire after a few pieces of information:
- What burrow is she from, and where is this located?
- Do any accomplished Enchanters dwell in her burrow, or does she know of any in the region?
- What business brought her here, and how did she fall into the Ogre’s grasp?
- Did she learn anything of the tunnels below the moathouse, or of the Temple of Elemental Chaos while in captivity?
Snickwick will joint carouse with Aubrey to tend the rescued hostages. While the group does not currently have their payment in specie, the goal is to trade items of value in exchange for services rendered. An accounting may be necessary within the party, presumably this will remove all or some of Aubrey and Snickwick’s share of the loot upon selling off the merchandise – my understanding is that we found approximately 200gp worth of treasure (total) in our first venture, and 185gp worth of treasure per character in the second foray - this should be a share of about 200gp for Snickwick, sufficient to cover even the highest expenditure.
Crumblerushes is very grateful to have been rescued, especially by a fellow gnome. She acknowledges that she comes from the Muddlecarp burrow in the highlands north of Caurenze. "We have our share of magicians and enchanters," she says, "and their sensitive noses have sniffed out the whiff of Chaos rising again in human lands. I came to scout around and see what I could learn. I found my way down into the dungeon under the old moathouse, but I got captured by gnolls. They turned me over to that horrid ogre. I'm so glad that you got me out; I don't know what might have happened otherwise!"
She pulls an iron ring from her finger and hands it to Snickwick. The ring seems plain and ordinary to human eyes, but to a gnome like Snickwick, the subtle patterns hammered and layered into its metal are delightfully evident. "Take this," she says. "If you show it to any Muddlecarp, or to someone from any of the other burrows to the north and west, they will know you for a friend."
(The roll is a 1: Snickwick and Audrey each spend 50gp and gain 50xp.)
"Take care of them?" Cut looks at Audrey credulously, drawing his thumb across his throat in morbid pantomime.
"No, you fool," the spearmaiden answers crossly. "What possible reason do you have to believe that is what I want? I help raid brigands in the moathouse to find the Company has banditry for friends in town. Make yourself useful. Some fires in the hearths, new clothes for their backs. Get the inn ringing with commotion! We have these wretched we stole from an ogre's maw, to vex back into life."
The pugnacious halfling stops short, unsure about any of this. "An ogre's ma? Where was the ogre ma's… son?"
Burdened by the merchantman she is trying to hold up - the powerful other newcomer, Roland, has the larger freeman perched on his shoulder with ease - she pauses long enough to flash a grin full of sunshine, then grunts forward again. "Maw. Its mouth. Only one ogre. It's dead now."
"Sorry I missed it. Harder they come, eh, right? Well, I'll get that fire!"
Audrey makes sure the two guards are rested and in good health, meanwhile sending out stableboys and the like to find their compatriots or inform their loved ones they have been saved. She trusts the moony-faced Crumblerushes is in good gnomish hands.
The two merchants, Robert and Raimond, recover quickly from their imprisonment. They thank Audrey — and through her, the Company — for their release, and volunteer a monetary reward for such kindness, which they will send to Hommlet once they return home to Corunglain. Eager to be gone from the shadow of the moathouse, they leave town a couple of days later, accompanying a group of foreign merchants southward.
THUMP THUMP THUMP The quiet of the early morning is punctuated by something that Snickwick is sure is some kind of machine. THUMP THUMP WHIR The noise appears to come from the stables. The gnome sees a stable boy walk unperturbed from the building. With a nod to the boy, he walks closer, and begins to hear a muttering among the muffled racket: "Do I look zat foolish? Merde! It is her foolish country accent!" THUMP THUMP "I would have knocked that ogre on his fesses." THUMP WHIR THUMP The stable smells like a stable. Most of the stalls are empty, but one on the far side from the inn appears to have a small rig suspended from its walls. "I've fought more than frogs in my day!" THUMP Looking inside, Snickwick finds no horse, but Cut Coutelain ducking and diving at a crude, two-masted quintain. In the other corner, a sack of something nearly the size of the halfling hangs from a rope. THUMP THUMP CRACK A horse rears as Coutelain snaps one of the arms off his sparring partner. "Merde magique! What will I- SNEEKWEEK! Don't just stand there. Help me put zis thing back together." Cut laughs and elbows the gnome in the belly, "I don't want to get fat waiting for Pritchard to finish talking to landlords and wizards, you know?"
Cut Coutelain will carouse to fix his training rig, and (presumably) pay for another week's claim on empty stable space
The local cabinet-maker, a fellow named Harmel, is pleased to take on such an unusual commission, and he quickly turns out a sturdy oaken mannikin upon which Cut can practice his skills. Taking a shine to the halfling, the chatty woodworker observes that as one of the "folk of the Earth," Cut might wish to join Harmel's family at religious services in "the Grove."
(You rolled a 1, spending 50gp and earning 50xp.)
Cut arches an eyebrow, and rubs his soul patch thoughtfully. "Ze Grove? Mebbe I will… You will have killed ze giant frogs in ze grove already, 'Armel? When do you go?"
Harmel appears genuinely confused. "Giant frogs? What giant frogs? There's nothing like that in Hommlet."
Snickwick looks at the quintain with an appraising eye, tools in hand, "The worksmanship is sound…" Indeed, a solid strike brings the bag wheeling about with respectable velocity, "That said, the builder seems to employ a fairly crude actuational rotulator here, when a compression wheel would… yes… by simply adding a second and… indeed… a third bowler arm, the attacker will be offered the opportunity to not only duck, but also dodge and dive! A clear improvement…" A barely heard conversation hurries Snickwick to finish his modifications (despite the remote possibility that the may swing with a velocity slightly outside mortal capacity to avoid… no matter!).
Consdering the teachings of Turuko and his "one true way", the ravings of the zealot Zanzibar, The Compact of Audrey's Spearmaidens, and the nascent chaos cult rumored to fester in the swamps, Snickwick concludes that some great metaphilosophical convergence is at work in Omlette! Such a fascinating juxtaposition of so many diverse and wonderful paths, perhaps this unassuming town is the center of the wheel, the philosophical locus to which all paths to enlightenment must lead!
"FASCINATING!" The gnome bursts unceremoniously into the conversation between the pugilist and the joiner, gesticulating enthusiastically with grease stained hands "The final piece to this puzzle! Neo-shamanistic worship of post-sylvanic animism! When considered alongside the well gosh … we'd love to come to your ceremony!"
Pritchard would like to speak with Byrne and Rufus again. He will tell them that their bandit problem is resolved, and inquire if there is any reward for taking care of it. He will further hint that there might be more to the story — that an ogre had taken up residence in the basement of the moathouse and was holding captives there, and that the ogre seemed to be operating under the command of some more powerful entity. The Company will, of course, continue its investigations and make further reports, but might benefit from some assistance if Byrne and Rufus could spare some men, some magic, or other material aid.
This is not a carouse, just simple inquiries.
"That's Sir Bernard du Voisin, but you can call me Berne."
Berne expresses a significant interest in your tale, most specifically the nature and behavior of the enemies you encountered in and beneath the moathouse, and the value of whatever treasure you might have unearthed. His relative youth — he seems little older than many members of the Company — shines through as he avidly inquires into your adventures.
What do you tell him?
"The bandits," Pritchard declaims, his gaze turning inward, "are dispersed. A round score of them at least we discovered. The vast majority of them slaughtered in the midst of battle. Three were captured, disarmed, and sent out to starve in the swamp. I feel certain they will not bother you further. But that was only the beginning of our adventure. Having discovered a stairway inside the moathouse ruins, leading down into our preferred environment, that is to say, a subterranean fastness, we hastened thence and were set upon by a virtual torrent of the undead. Even with two divines and my own slight powers it was a devil of a time laying them to rest. Proceeding onward we breeched the lair of an ogre, a massive brute with an oversized polearm and a penchant for human flesh. It was hard fought, Sir Bernard, though I doubt I need to tell one of your obvious experience how much trouble an ogre can be. In fact, one of us, a man of noble birth and intriguing faith, fell beneath the thing's repeated blows. In the end we were victorious and were able to rescue three survivors of the the thing's depredations. But there is more."
Pritchard take a pause to let that sink in.
"The ogre, unlike any of its comrades I've ever met, was not a masterless beast. It was some more deadly creature's minion. It uttered some half-intelligible noises before we entered combat… you know how inarticulate such brutes are, surely… words to the effect that we had not given a proper sign or uttered the correct password, something of the sort. I believe the word 'master' was in fact used. Surely you grasp the implication here."
Pritchard raises an eyebrow.
"Combined with what scant intelligence we've already turned up, there can be no doubt. A new Temple of Chaos is a-borning here. Already it gathers its servants and makes its preparations. It cannot be long before Omlette is reached by this rising tide. I'm afraid, Sir Bernard, that the time has come to choose sides. You lead this community. Tell me, do you declare for Law, or for Chaos?"
Pritchard will wait for Berne's response, suggesting with his body language there is no incorrect answer, but he wishes to hear the truth either way.
"I favor Law, of course," says Berne. "How can I not? Though I'm not sure it's accurate to say that I 'lead' Hommlet. The people defer to Elder Perrault, though of course Rufus and I counsel him. And I would not counsel dispatching my men — or the village militia — to deal with a new Temple. They are needed here to defend the village, and your warnings only reinforce that need. Naturally, I'll send word to Elysien, but the Prince has his own problems and it's unlikely that any aid can be sent — and certainly not without clearer evidence of a threat. We are likely to be on our own.
"We do, of course, appreciate your aid, as do those merchants you and your companions freed from durance. For so long as you are here, I can assure that your material needs will be met — room and board, basic provisions for your expeditions, and so forth. And I would be glad to teach you a spell or two that might be useful in your adventures.
"Now, if you are certain about your thesis, and you do have a lead on where to strike against a rising force of Chaos, I could join you in person. But I'm not sure I can justify the risk. After all, not only do my own magics protect Hommlet, but it's only my poor income that keeps my hired swords here for the village's defense. If I were to perish, leaving my men unpaid, they would scatter. For that matter, as it is, my funds will expire eventually, and then…" An avaricious glint appears in Berne's eye. "A venture might be worthwhile if it looked probable to bring in sufficient funds to maintain — or expand — Hommlet's defenses. But as you claim not to have found any profit in your explorations…" He shrugs.
Rufus shakes his head dolefully at his companion's attitude, but says nothing.
"Law. Of course. Very good — exactly the answer I was hoping for. My dear Sir Bernard, I would not dream of asking you to accompany us — as you say, your continued presence in Omlette is vital to withstanding the coming of chaos. Furthermore your generosity in meeting our material needs is an emblem of your great and good soul, and I thank you on behalf of my company. As for magics you might teach me, anything that might bolster my arsenal of spells would be most helpful indeed!"
Pritchard would like to know which spells Berne would be willing to teach him. Would it be possible to learn spells and still make weekly forays into the dungeon or wilderness? The rules say you get one day off per week of research — is that meant to allow adventuring, or is it supposed to be a day of rest?
Berne politely inquires as to the extent of Pritchard's mastery of magic (i.e. what spell levels Pritchard can cast). As to the day off for research, that can indeed be used for adventuring, though of course you have to be able to reach the dungeon, adventure, and get home during that day!
"I have but recently achieved some knowledge of the third circle of magics," Pritchard says, ducking his head coyly. "Surely the spells I can comprehend will seem but trivial to one of your mastery. Yet they might make all the difference."
"Spells of the Third Circle are nothing to sneeze at," says Berne. "They remain staples even in the repertoires of Arch-Mages, or so I am led to believe."
As you don't seem willing to specify your interests, Berne must guess as to what you might find useful. He puts forward the following spells as potentially valuable when exploring underground deathtraps dungeons:
First level: detect magic, feather fall
Second level: detect invisibility, mirror image
Third level: infravision, tongues
Sorry for the length of this carouse, but I decided to flesh out my history a bit as well.
As the Company of Crossed Swords arrived in Omlette, Roland gently placed the merchant he had carried back from the moathouse into a chair near the hearth as Gundigoot hurried over with blankets and broth. As the cleric Audrey quickly set about making arrangements for their care, the man peered up at the assembled Company and croaked, "Might we have the names of our rescuers?"
"…I am Jorge, that's pronounced 'Jorg'…"
"…my name is Snickwick, and I…"
Roland's attention began to wander. He had grown up a dirt-eater. His parents were farmers, peasants to House Zanzibar, so he had been a farmer as well. He'd grown up strong, toting hay bales or pushing carts out of mud, and it was this strength, and his winning personality, that saw his drafting into the militia at the age of 15. He took to weapons training well, and with the friendship he had struck up with the sergeant-at-arms, was about to be made a full man-at-arm.! Quite the promotion, to be sure! It was then that Wolfric Zanzibar, that pompous kneebiter, decided to go find his fortune. Normally, a noble would go with a full contingent of bodyguards and men-at-arms, but Wolfric was the fourth son, so his father merely insisted on a "promising recruit", and chose Roland out of an inspection lineup — without even turning to look at him.
He hadn't been on the road that long, perhaps a few months with his…patron? Wolfric Zanzibar, scion of House Zanzibar, a minor noble house over the hills to the west of Glantri, had been his constant companion. He had grown to dislike Zanzibar, with his inflated opinion of himself, insistence that Roland carry the rations, and near-constant proselytizing for the Sword Princes of Chaos. Maybe Zanzibar was just trying to convert him, the first recruit in his army of Chaos! But Roland had merely found it off-putting. Chaos? Whatever.
As the days stretched on into weeks, he had started to resign himself to the eventuality that this was his lot. He'd probably join Zanzibar's army of Chaos, maybe become a lieutenant or something. He'd probably be accomplice to some profane ritual. Then, he'd probably end up kicking at the end of some Paladin's pike. Better than kicking dirt on a House Zanzibar farm, I guess?
It was then that something miraculous and unexpected happened. An ogre crushed Zanzibar. Oh happy day! Er, well…maybe not happy, as such, but the feeling of freedom was exhilirating. What to do, though? Where to go? Zanzibar never struggled with direction, he just went. Maybe it was a characteristic of the noble class, so bold, so…
"Um, yes. My name is Roland Wolfric, Lord Zanzibar! Did I not mention to you guys that he was my older brother?" he asked, pointing towards the mangled, late Wolfric Zanzibar.
"Yes, yes indeed, he was. Very tragic indeed that the first son of House Zanzibar has bitten it in such a horrifying manner, but we 'Zanzibars' must soldier on, and now I must take up the family name and carry our grand deeds out to the people! Does that sound right? It does!"
Realizing that perhaps he wasn't dressed the part, Roland immediately excused himself and sought the nearest tailor. Flush with newly won gold, he proceeded to blow as much as he could on as fine clothing as could be had in this small hamlet, then headed to the Welcome Wench to buy rounds of drinks for the patrons and laud House Zanzibar for its magnanimity! A smile and a quip on this newly-minted cavalier's lips, Roland had a new destiny before him! Huzzah!
Roland visits the village's weaver to procure good fabrics. While there, he flirts with the weaver's daughter, a lovely young woman named Cora who is charmed by Roland's good looks and easy manner. The adventurer spends much of the following week at the house of Arcady, Hommlet's mild-mannered old tailor, while his new clothes are cut, sewn and fitted, but he finds various excuses to return to the weaver's in order to spend more time with Cora.
Once his new outfit is completed, the young "noble" spends the evening carousing at the Welcome Wench, buying round after round for the locals. Many of them cheerfully return the favor! He soon finds himself intoxicated, whereupon he utters a variety of boasts. He caps this with a variety of increasingly lewd toasts to Cora, who blushes fiercely and hides her face. A young man — apparently a rival suitor — takes offense. The inn's patrons are compelled to separate Roland and the youth by force.
The next morning, Roland awakens in the inn's stables, his new garments sodden and stained with a variety of substances. Most of the villagers he encounters regard him with disapprobation. He thinks to himself that he has, perhaps, learned a few things of value regarding romance, alcohol and fisticuffs.
(You rolled a 3, spending 150gp and earning 150xp. Your saving throw was a 6: failure!)