Chapter One: The Hidden Valley.   Posted by The Empire.Group: 0
The Empire
 GM, 14 posts
Sat 12 Oct 2013
at 10:30
Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
It seemed like a good idea in the cool undercroft of the Museum of War in Axis, where you and dozens of other hopefuls had assembled in response to a call for adventurers posted at every arena in the city. Take part a major expedition to a lost city somewhere around the Sun Falls, funded by a sponsor with very deep pockets. You thought you were one of the lucky ones when you were chosen.

Three days later, ten wagons, twenty mules, two dozen horses and fifty well-armed and dangerous mercenaries, adventurers, glory hunters and ne'er do wells left Axis  some tempted by the thrill of the unknown but most by the very generous payments due on completion.

Although lives were lost crossing the High Dock Mountains, the party encountered no serious difficulties at first, even managing to deal with the demon-warped creatures spilling out of Hell Marsh to the north into the Stalking Trees. Then, when the party were close to their goal somewhere the maze of steep-sized valleys and musty, liana clad trees in the hinterlands above the Sun Falls, the attacks started.

In less than one week a third of the party were dead, victim to poison darts, spiked pits, deadfall traps or simply a hand axe to the head. , It was three days before you even caught sight of your assailants - short, greasy-haired primitives with crude but effective weapons and unparalleled woodcraft

After three days trapped by a torrential rainstorm, while the scouts cast around trying to find the entrance to the hidden valley that they insisted was close, your camp was buried by a huge mudslide just after midnight. Even as the lucky survivors struggled free of the morass, a horde of screaming tribesmen poured out of the night intent in finishing the job.

The battle was a nightmare; a vertical river of rain, blinding flashes of lightning and wave after wave of mud-smeared tribesmen. Eventually, as the storm finally moves off into the night with the distant rumble of thunder, you look around the bloody battlefield and realise all of the tribesmen are dead, along with most of your comrades. The majority of your supplies are buried under tonnes of earth and all of the expedition seniors lie dead or dying.

The weather breaks and the forest steams in the new dawn. As the sun rises, the survivors see that the mudslide has exposed a previously hidden valley leading up into the densely forested hills, with signs of old statuary half buried in the undergrowth...

Folks for your first post, please introduce your character. You have all been travelling together for weeks, what sort of impression will you have given to your comrades during that time?
Rhythis Silverhand
 player, 4 posts
Sat 12 Oct 2013
at 15:57
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
Rhythis Silverhand is a slim halfling with nondescript features. Small, keen-eyed, and difficult to move from his vaguely polite casual attitude, Rhythis would be easily forgettable as just another traveler were it not for the silver-blue servitors that hover around him, catering to his wishes. While others end up covered in mud, Rhythis walks around with his traveling clothes impeccably clean. While others grab a quick bite of trail food during rest breaks, Rhythis dines on nicely prepared tea and biscuits prepared by little glowing force constructs.

When the attacks start, Rhythis helps out as best he can with his magic. His servitors repair damage when possible, and when the attack finally comes, he defends himself with blasts of brilliant energy that send foes reeling back.

In the morning, looking down at the valley, Rhythis is thoughtful. Servitors swarm around him, little silver-blue force constructs fanning his clothes try and whisking away bits of mud until his clothes are clean again. "Well, then. Looks like we're still on the job." He looks around at the others, to see who he's got as an ally.
Vethryn
 player, 4 posts
 High Elf Cleric
Sat 12 Oct 2013
at 16:56
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
Vethryn is strong, alluring high-elf priestess. She says very little about her faith. However, her protective motherly attitude tends to put that question out of mind after a while. She is always willing to talk, and especially listen to her companions. The warriors, in particular, occupy her attentions.

The high-elf did not complain about the slow marshy going; she was very vocal is expressing her frustration with enemies that would not show themselves. She was eager for the fight and full of nervous energy. In battle she fought like a ferocious mother bear protecting her cubs.

Vethryn looks exhausted from the long night's events. She did her best to care for those she could. When that failed she offered what comfort she could to the dying. Despite this she is ready to proceed. Even covered in mud, grime and blood she tries to present an impressive figure. "It would be a disgrace to everyone we lost to give up now. But I couldn't blame anyone that turned back."
Martin Black
 player, 8 posts
 Human, Paladin
Sat 12 Oct 2013
at 17:02
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
Martin Black is a large human with rugged features. His unusual hair and eyes make him stand out in any crowd. Yet his warm and friendly personality welcomes you in. His clothing is sturdy and well cared for but obviously not fashionable.

During the trip he helped out where he could. Several of the guards were obviously his friends. He practiced with his weapons every morning and pulled in others to train as well. When the attacks started, he stood watch and coordinated guard efforts assuming a leadership role, while not official, that suited him well.

Not even the storm seemed to dampen his spirits. When the slide came, he helped in rescue efforts yet quickly turned aside to battle the horde. He rallied as many as he could and stood fast against the foe. During the battle all heard his rallying cry until he was silenced by a blow to the head.

Come morning, Martin woke beneath a pile of bodies. After digging himself out he turned his attention to help others. Spotting Rhythis Silverhand and Vethryn, he smiles.

"At least three of us yet live then. There are sure to be more," he calls out to the others. "Can your magic help in the search?"

Without waiting for a reply, he begins a systematic search of the bodies. He looks for those not yet dead. The dead he lays out near the battleground. He treats all of the bodies with respect be they friend or foe.

This message was last edited by the player at 17:04, Sat 12 Oct 2013.

Sigmund
 player, 3 posts
Sat 12 Oct 2013
at 18:23
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
"Four." a muffled voice calls out from beneath a pile of bodies as a gauntleted hand rises out of a rather large pile of mud and blood-covered corpses, which shift aside as the battered young human digs himself out clambers to his feet still holding his blood-caked weapon and shield. He looked like he'd been beaten within an inch of his life, which is believable considering that he'd been in the very thick of the fighting, dashing around the battlefield and nearly single-handedly engaging handfuls of the demon-touched creatures at a time. He'd finally been overwhelmed by a mob of them and presumed dead, but had actually been buried in a mudslide along with his opponents.

Sigmund stood up at his modest five feet ten inches of height, scraping dried mud off of his hair and armor and noting that his pack had been lost during the melee. Ah well, he thought - just means I can travel lighter.

"At least some of us survived. Now where in the abyss are we?"

He looked around, surveying the scene before him, and it became immediately apparent from his proud and regal bearing that this was no ordinary soldier, though it was hard to identify what was different about him.

"And more importantly, is everything else dead?"

This message was last edited by the player at 18:45, Sat 12 Oct 2013.

Vander
 player, 6 posts
 Thief, con artist, Rake..
 ...but has his own code
Sat 12 Oct 2013
at 23:08
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
"Make that five..." A voice called out behind Sigmund. Vander had gotten very little of the mudslide on him. He used the body of a tribesman to slide his way down the hill they had camped on. His trip back was fraught with danger, as tribesmen dogged his every step-trying to find him. It had helped the others somewhat as they had divided some small amount of their forces to pursue Vander.

"If the rest of them are not dead, maybe they just withdrew in order have a future. They can't all be suicidal berserks, right?" They could be just be wishful thinking on his part.
Gilad Rott
 player, 6 posts
 The Bard
 HP: 36/36 Recoveries: 8/8
Sun 13 Oct 2013
at 00:12
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
"'Twould appear I've cheated death." A thin-framed man remarks as he strides up to the others. He picks his plumed hat off the ground and somewhat futilely dusts it off, before setting it on his head. "Again."

Gilad Rott had done his best to rouse the party's spirits over the past week, even as the expedition's casualties mounted up, offering quips and anecdotes about past treasure hunting misadventures to anyone who'd listen, and singing songs of grand heroics from ages past while the group made camp. Given his foppish demeanor, the bard wouldn't be surprised if many of his compatriots expected him to be one of the first to fall in battle, but while he doesn't cut the most physically-imposing figure, Gilad's well trained with both the fancy sabre now strapped to his belt, and the shortbow tied to his back.

The bard is dressed in a leather doublet and breeches, suited for travelling; the garb might have passed for stylish once, before it'd become caked with mud, blood, and grime. A shock of red hair hangs over Gilad's shoulders, and what had begun as a finely-groomed pencil mustache at the start of the expedition was now lost amidst week old grizzle over the bard's face.

Gilad slings his weatherbeaten kantele over from his back, plucking a few strings to make sure the instrument hasn't been broken.

"Quite a view." The bard stares out over the horizon, to the valley ahead. "Once we've all found our bearings, nowhere to go but forward..."
Rhythis Silverhand
 player, 5 posts
Sun 13 Oct 2013
at 00:26
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
"Looks like it. You, uh... you look bad." Rhythis raises an eyebrow. "Do you need help cleaning that?" Tiny constructs of silvery blue light shimmer around his fingers, and one of them zips up to straighten the plumes on Gilad's hat.
Zanne
 player, 5 posts
 Human Sorcerer
Sun 13 Oct 2013
at 01:43
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
"Guess that makes me lucky 7," Zanne's voice emerges from one side of the battlefield in the lee of a fallen tree. She's coated in mud, but the rising sun still manages to make her fiery hair shine as she stands up. "Hooray."

Initially a loner, the stress of the journey after Sun Falls had proven her to be a good, if sarcastic, companion. During the final battle, it had been easy to trace her path through the fight despite the confusion by the flashiness of her spells. She'd been doing quite well until an unlucky step had led to her falling in the mud and hitting her head.

She bends down and grabbed her thin sword, looking in irritation at the muck that coated the blade and herself. Slipping slightly on the unsteady ground, she makes her way to the others. "No point in turning back now."
Gilad Rott
 player, 8 posts
 The Bard
 HP: 36/36 Recoveries: 8/8
Sun 13 Oct 2013
at 03:51
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
"Much obliged." Gilad answers Rhythis, tipping his hat as he gives a short bow.

The bard glances back over the battlefield, not seeing anyone else moving.

"Well," he sighs, "I believe that leaves the seven of us."
The Empire
 GM, 16 posts
Sun 13 Oct 2013
at 09:01
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
You gather all of the supplies you can from the wreckage of the camp. The tally comes to:

Three weeks' supply of food each, and one week's supply of water.
Two healing potions and one magic oil each.
Sigmund
 player, 5 posts
 Human Fighter
Mon 14 Oct 2013
at 00:26
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
With all the survivors seemingly accounted for, Sigmund helped the others gather supplies. While doing so, he took a moment to closely examine a particular dead tribesman that had been carrying something - a heavy kite shield much like the one he now carried, but crafted from a dull metal with silvery flecks. On its surface was an image of an hourglass whose sands seemed to be running down. He immediately recognized the legendary shield of ages, which had been passed down to the eldest member of his family since it was crafted in the second age. His oldest brother had been carrying it last he heard, and that meant that his brother was likely dead. That made him think, and he put two and two together.

"Everyone...i think all these attacks may be my fault." he looked around at the other survivors with a deep frown. "I'd bet my life that these things are the Orc Lord's minions. He wants me dead more than just about anyone else does."

He hefts the Shield of Ages, cleaning the mud off of the family heirloom that he had thought he would never hold himself. "This shield belonged to my oldest brother..."

This message was last edited by the player at 00:39, Mon 14 Oct 2013.

Gilad Rott
 player, 9 posts
 The Bard
 HP: 36/36 Recoveries: 8/8
Mon 14 Oct 2013
at 01:37
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
As he and the others sift through the wreckage for salvagable supplies, Gilad idly strums his hand over the kantele, humming an ancient melody. Sitting down on a nearby log, he begins to play a ballad passed down through the druidic orders of the Wild Wood, which later migrated into neighboring villages.

The song tells of a mighty orcish invasion from the north, and how the woods themselves rose up in defiance of the marauders, twisting and destroying the paths before them until the army was lost, trapped within the forest, cursed to wander helplessly until their deaths. Into the ballad, Gilad integrates phrases and passages from the music of a legendary, forgotten tongue, allegedly sung by the gods to create the world. An ode to the terrible might of the natural forces around them, and with any luck, a blessing of sorts for their voyage into the unknown valley...

Finishing the song, Gilad looks up at Sigmund's words.

"Then we'd better get moving." The bard responds. "See if we can find some more defendable shelter before they catch up with us again."

Gilad Rott rolled 27 using 1d20+12. CHA Check - Balladeer.
Vethryn
 player, 5 posts
 High Elf Cleric
Mon 14 Oct 2013
at 04:19
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
Vethryn paused in her search to shoot Sigmund and Gilad a harsh look. She said nothing but held the look for a moment. Afterwords she busied herself again with the search for supplies.

"If the Lord himself is against us then we should turn back. Nothing good can come from this. We are too few now." Deliberately or not the elf is not as insistent as she once was that they push onwards.
Rhythis Silverhand
 player, 6 posts
 Halfling Wizard
Mon 14 Oct 2013
at 04:45
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
"Turn back if you like. More for the rest of us." Rhythis gathers his equipment and starts walking, not looking to see who else is coming. "As for me, I've got work to do."

Rhythis starts down the hill. He's not going fast, but he's not stopping, either. The magical servitors whisper around him, flitting out here and there to check behind trees and bushes for any attackers nearby.

(OOC: Cantrip for flavor of being on alert, using appropriate background when GM feels appropriate to spot enemies or anything else of interest.)
Sigmund
 player, 7 posts
 Human Fighter
Mon 14 Oct 2013
at 04:53
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
Sigmund places his old shield on the body of the demon-touched warrior who had been carrying the Shield of Ages so that if they returned later, they would get the message he conveyed by doing so and convey it to their lord. The message was simple: I'm coming for you.

"To hell with turning back. We'll just get ambushed and killed the same as we did coming here, and this shield -" he smacks the heavy, glittering barricade with his fist - "Means that green-skinned pile of koru dung killed one of my brothers. Whatever the reason we aren't wanted here it has something to do with the orc lord, and i'm going to find out what it is he doesn't want found and take it back to the emperor, then get an army together and go personally stick my sword hilt-deep in his green guts. Anyone who wants to be a coward and get slaughtered trying to flee, go right ahead. Everyone who wants to be a hero and get some glory for the empire, follow me and try not to slow me down."

With that, Sigmund gripped the shield, shouldered the pack he'd put his scavenged supplies in and turned toward the newly-revealed valley, then started off as determined as a person could be to see it through to the end.
Rhythis Silverhand
 player, 7 posts
 Halfling Wizard
Mon 14 Oct 2013
at 05:03
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
In reply to Sigmund (msg # 16):

"Orc Lord. Sounds like a story there,"
Rhythis says as Sigmund falls in beside him.
Gilad Rott
 player, 10 posts
 The Bard
 HP: 36/36 Recoveries: 8/8
Mon 14 Oct 2013
at 05:12
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
"I can sympathize," Gilad tells Vethryn. "Only the last week hasn't exactly been a stroll through a rose garden, such that I imagine the road back would be as bad as the road forward."

Standing up and slinging his kantele back over has back, the bard turns to follow Rhythis and Sigmund.

"Besides," Gilad looks back over his shoulder, grinning. "Now I have to find out why our well-armed friend believes the Orc Lord wants him dead so badly. Can't drop a hook like that into the conversation and then leave us hanging."
Zanne
 player, 6 posts
 Human Sorcerer
Mon 14 Oct 2013
at 08:24
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
"They've got a point," Zanne shrugs, looking at Vethryn. "We'll have a hell of a time getting back if the attacks keep coming the way they have. Might as well continue up see if we can find-" she stops talking for a second, "whatever it is."
Vander
 player, 7 posts
 Thief, con artist, Rake..
 ...but has his own code
Mon 14 Oct 2013
at 14:21
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
Sigmund:
"Everyone...I think all these attacks may be my fault." he looked around at the other survivors with a deep frown. "I'd bet my life that these things are the Orc Lord's minions. He wants me dead more than just about anyone else does."


"Please-even if that was true-the Orc Lord or most others for that matter does things because they WANT to-not because you made them. That would be like saying all these people are dead because of the person who hired them to be here. These lunatics..." He kicked one of the bodies of the enemy he was looting. "...choose to attack. And we chose to fight back. End of story."

He moves to catches up with Zanne. "Wait up! No need to rush..." He then whispered to her.

This message was last edited by the player at 14:22, Mon 14 Oct 2013.

The Empire
 GM, 18 posts
Mon 14 Oct 2013
at 15:27
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
With the decision made to continue, you scramble up the steep slope of mud and rocks and gaze into the newly revealed valley beyond. The start of the valley is a foetid swamp of half-submerged trees and vegetation, but the ground steadily rises until the dank, mist-shrouded forest fades from sight.

You will have to cross several hundred yards of swampy ground to progress. Mud, pools of slimy water, complicated tangles of fallen trees, and clouds of biting midges, with the air a stinking miasma of rot and decay.

You must use brute force (Str), endurance (Con), light feet (Dex) or woodcraft (Wis) to prevail. If you have a background that you think fits, make your case. Make a DC18 check against your chosen attribute. For every five points the roll is failed by you lose one Recovery. For every five points above target you can restore one Recovery to a comrade.
Vander
 player, 8 posts
 Thief, con artist, Rake..
 ...but has his own code
Mon 14 Oct 2013
at 15:32
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
In reply to The Empire (msg # 21):

Needless to say, Vander's experience at moving quickly, carefully, and quietly helped avoid the worse spots of the swamp. A leap from one rock, swinging over another pit via an outstreached branch, and landing carefully on a log. Only to move quickly from that to another slight bit of land poking out from the muck.

(OOC-I want to use my thief +5 and dex. Assuming I can...

11:29, Today: Vander rolled 23 using 1d20+11. Light feet.)

The Empire
 GM, 20 posts
Mon 14 Oct 2013
at 15:43
Re: Chapter One: The Hidden Valley
Nice roll Vander, so good that you can help someone else avoid recovery loss.