A Rose In The Wind: A Saga of the Halmae -- Updated June 19, 2014 - Page 10





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  1. #91
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    No rest for the wicked!

 

  • #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seonaid View Post
    No rest for the wicked!
    Which is why, as Durkon of Order of the Stick fame knows, you can NEVER turn your back on trees!

    THE Wombat! (Wet)

    [sigvirus]uhoh[/sigvirus]
    [sigvirus]uhoh[/sigvirus]

  • #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by WetWombat View Post
    Which is why, as Durkon of Order of the Stick fame knows, you can NEVER turn your back on trees!

    THE Wombat! (Wet)
    What were they thinking, camping so close to the trees?

  • #94
    Tree. We camped next to a tree. It was perfect picnic spot, with a nice grassy feel, and some shade from the lovely old tree with new leaves on its branches.

    Really, can't some weary travellers catch a break now and then?

    (sigh)

  • #95
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    What were they thinking, camping so close to the tree?

  • #96
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    If anyone's curious about the mechanics behind the rock attack, that was a Skill Challenge I had a particular amount of fun designing (which Piratecat cribbed in his own campaign recently). Details are below:

    Skill Challenge: Run to avoid the falling rocks—12 successes before 3 failures
    Each Round, rocks are thrown at you. If you are hit, you may take damage, or you may be pinned (determined randomly by the DM). All pinned characters must be released by using one of the listed Release Skills before the challenge can be beaten. Releasing a character does not count as a success toward the challenge.

    Primary Skills:
    Acrobatics- DC 10
    Athletics- DC 10
    Any distance attack- DC 15 (force a creature to dodge, rather than throwing rocks)

    Release Skills:
    Athletics- DC 15
    Heal- DC 10 (they aren’t pinned, they’ve just twisted something)
    Any push, pull, slide power or Mage Hand- DC 15

    Secondary:
    Perception- DC 10, give another player +2 to avoid falling rocks

    Rock attack: +6 vs Reflex, 1d10+3 damage
    Hidden Secondary Skill- Intimidate, DC 15, draw 2 attacks from other PCs
    Welcome to the Halmae
    A Rose in the Wind
    Pimping for Justice was Just the Beginning...

  • #97
    Quote Originally Posted by Fajitas View Post
    Rock attack: +6 vs Reflex, 1d10+3 damage
    Hidden Secondary Skill- Intimidate, DC 15, draw 2 attacks from other PCs
    Wait...you mean we could have used Intimidate to help with that? Well crap.

    What other secondary skills are you keeping from us in these things? I will now try Intimidate and History in all challenge situations. I might even try intimidating with my masterful knowledge of history. Or possibly intimidating people INTO history.

  • #98
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    3x05

    CRAAACK! The earth shuddered with a GROAN as an enormous tree—ten times taller than the big beech tree at the di Raprezzi estate—RIPPED itself from the ground. It lurched forward, leaves rustling like a herd of horses and roots thumping on the ground with sickening force. This can’t be happ— Twiggy thought, as the tree whirled around, branches flying, ripping Twiggy’s dress, arms, chest, thighs—

    I spoke too soon. She felt the searing pain of her torn flesh and heard her own voice scream in pain. The plant life here is trying to kill us. She reached into her pouch for her orb and looked around quickly. The whirling branches had sliced Arden—blood was already soaking through the slave’s sleeves—and—NO!—had torn into Rose’s leg, as well. I have to do something, Twiggy thought, pulling her orb out of its pouch,[i]before it kills us all.

    She pulled force into the orb with her mind, squinted with determination, and released it. A wave of power radiated from the orb, visibly warping the air and—THUD—slamming into the tree. The tree tilted back, dented – but its branches whipped forward, slicing Twiggy’s neck as the tree righted itself.

    Twiggy’s hand flew to her neck. She could feel the blood forcing itself through her fingers, warm and wet down her sleeve. I hurt the tree, a little, she thought, but it’s nearly killed me in less than five seconds. The world swam, and she felt weak. Her knees hit the ground, one. Two. Acorn’s voice rang in her head. Chelesta! Chelesta! Chelesta! Chelesta! Chelesta! Chelesta! Twiggy couldn’t think to answer as she rolled from the reach of the tree. The pain throbbed across her body. It was worse than anything she had ever felt before. Worse than breaking her leg in the di Raprezzi’s coal chute when she was six. Worse than falling out of that big beech. Much worse than the burn from those flying orbs or the scrape from that boulder. But all of those pains went through her head as she tried to react, and couldn’t. All she could do was watch.

    But the others had mobilized around her. Mena, with an inspiring word of “KILL IT!” slashed with her sword. Branches snapped and dangled. Tavi leapt over a swinging branch and threw his sword up into the branches of the tree. Leaves, boughs, chips flew everywhere as the glowing sword whirled among them and returned to Tavi’s hand. Flaming bolts from Kormick’s crossbow flew past Tavi’s head and sank into the tree’s trunk, smoldering.

    Twiggy’s shoulder exploded in pain again, but as she looked up, she saw that it was Savina, reaching down and pulling her further from danger. She felt the warm glow of Savina’s healing prayers. Then Savina stood up, reached her hands to the sky, and called upon Alirria’s lance of faith. “Alirria! Great mother, send us your strength!” A blue ray of light pierced the twilight and split down the top of the tree, which flailed and whipped, slicing at Savina and pushing Arden down to the ground among its roots. Arden—her injuries impeding her mobility, but not her fury— jabbed her shortsword into the roots. Sap spurted out, splashing Arden. She slashed again, and sap flew everywhere, soaking both Arden and the already-bloody soil.

    “We’ve got it where we want it,” Tavi announced, as green flames erupted from his sword. That might be a bit…optimistic, Twiggy thought, but as Tavi’s sword ignited several small branches, and Kormick’s arrows tore into bark, Twiggy realized her mind was beginning to clear. Fire seems to work. If only I could…wait. Maybe I can... She cast an illusory attack,, creating the illusion of a blaze surrounding the tree on all sides. The tree whipped and whirled to avoid the imaginary flames, as two more of Kormick’s crossbow bolts ripped into its trunk.

    But then WHUMP. An enormous root thumped on the ground, smashing into Tavi’s ankle and denting the earth beside him. Leaves and branches flew up like splashes on a pond. Tavi fell, stood up, and WHUMP, the tree bashed his head, knocking him back to the ground. He crawled away from the roots’ deadly range, his ankle limp. “Tavi!” Savina screamed, seeing the trickle of blood along his temple. She looked pained herself as she rushed to his side, touching him with the blue glow of healing energy.

    “I’ve had about enough of this,” said Mena, sounding as if the tree had just acted up in class—and then she let loose with a string of invective like Twiggy had never heard. I don’t know what those words mean, but they don’t sound respectable at all! Acorn thought, shocked. It means she wants us to do our best,Twiggy thought in response. And we will.. Tavi stood up, looking strong and determined, and brandished his blade just as he did in exercises. Twiggy lurched forward and cast again. The tree reared back, and Tavi—with the surgical precision Twiggy knew he had—sliced through the joints of the largest branch, which snapped and dangled like an arm from a dislocated shoulder.

    Savina—fury plain on her face—called to Alirria again. “This tree has betrayed you!” Another beam of light pierced down, splitting the tree in two, down to the ground. The group scattered to avoid falling limbs and branches, which thundered down. CRASH. CRUNCH. THUD.

    It didn’t move again.

    Acorn peeked out from Twiggy’s pocket to survey the wreckage. That was completely uncalled for, he said. Twiggy smiled slightly, proud of what she knew was Acorn’s best attempt at bravery. Think of it this way, she thought in reply, we faced peril, and we survived it. Now we know we can.

    “Arden, bring me that,” said Mena, pointing to one of the smaller pieces of the tree's wreckage at Arden’s feet. Arden staggered over with the log, and Mena threw it on to the fire. It ignited with a crackle, and flames rose, brightening the camp with a light to match the setting sun. “Let that be a warning,” she announced.

    “If you want,” Kormick said, “we can break some rocks to warn off the other inanimate objects.” He sounded almost serious.

    ###

    The next day was a rest day. Although it meant slowing their journey, the group needed the rest as well as the food that might be found by foraging in the surrounding forest. Twiggy was glad for the pause in their journey; she needed to do a little thinking before the trek continued. Is this what adventure means? she asked herself, looking at the splintered branches and mottled earth behind their lakeside camp, and touching the places where Savina had healed her. It was scary, and exhilarating.

    As the rest of the group rotated sleep and watch duty, Twiggy and Arden went out in search of food. For a long time, both were lost in their own thoughts.

    Arden jumped in pain, stifling a gasp, as a large splinter dug into her bare foot. Twiggy insisted on stopping to assess the injury.

    As they paused, Twiggy spoke up. "I'm glad we got to forage together," she said. "I think you're interesting."

    Arden was silent.

    "I mean, you're a slave, but you're very competent."

    Arden looked at her, an eyebrow raised.

    "I don't mean to say that slaves aren't competent. Some are extremely talented. But at things like working in the garden, not things like jumping and fighting. Maybe slaves in Pol Thane, I suppose, but . . . In our house, anyway, the slaves mostly do the things the servants won't."

    Arden paused for a long time. "Slaves have to be good at all that, all the stuff our owners want, but we also have to be good at . . . call it survival."

    After a few more steps, Twiggy spoke up again. "If you don't mind my asking, what did you do before you were a slave? I mean, you weren't born a slave. Or were you? Born a slave?"

    "No." Arden spoke quietly.

    The conversation continued, more pauses than words, as the pair shared careful slivers of their respective histories. Twiggy relished the chance to learn more, not only about Arden, but also about the institution of slavery. Her questions at home had, for the most part, been met with platitudes about “necessity” and “practicality” – and pointed interjections from Acorn about how the world would be “chaos” without slaves. Now, she had a source, albeit a shy one.

    After hours of searching, Twiggy found evidence of some tubers that looked and smelled familiar, and they dug together in silence. There was a good stash of them, and some empirical testing proved that they were not only safe, but also passably tasty, like sweet potatoes.

    "I'm beginning to see why Dona Giovanna was a Questor," Twiggy changed the subject, her mouth half-full of tuber. "There are so many interesting things out here!"

    "Yes, interesting," Arden allowed.

    "And the idea that we can go out and face these things that could kill us, and then we survive …" she trailed off.

    "Yes," Arden said, "that moment when you discover that you are not a brittle thing, that you won't snap when you're stretched." She seemed far away. "That is a good moment."

    They walked in silence for a long time after that, each lost in thought, until something caught Twiggy’s eye. "Hey," she said, "what's that?"

    Arden saw it too. "Looks like an old campsite. Really old. And . . . by the Gods, is that skeleton wearing BOOTS?”

    ###

    When Arden and Twiggy arrived back at the camp, their packs were full not only with tubers but also a number of interesting items they'd discovered on the bodies they had found at the abandoned campsite—three long dead Questors. It was after midday, and the others were awake. Tavi was doing sword-work drills, as Mena looked on. Savina and Rose were chatting. Kormick was writing in his little book. What does he write in that book? Arden thought, for the hundredth time.

    The group gathered around to allocate the Questor gear. Mena began to examine the armor, and Tavi and Twiggy set about identifying the magic items. “The slave, of course, will keep the boots,” began Kormick, after Tavi confirmed that the boots, though sturdy, had no magical properties. Praise the gods, thought Arden. The boots were too big for her, but she couldn't care less. Kormick continued, “Twiggy should take the orbs and whatnot,” He motioned to the <i>orb of insurmountable force</i> and <i>chime of awakening</i> that Twiggy was already fingering, “and…” He was interrupted by a hissing sound coming from Mena’s direction. Everyone turned to look.

    Mena had put her hand inside the armor’s sleeve. The patterns that had been decorating the armor had changed, and now looked less like Ehktian symbols and more like mouths, which whispered after Mena, echoing her mutterings. “Soft… soft, soft. Pretty flexible…exible, exible, exible.” Mena stopped, took a deep breath, wrapped the armor over her shoulder, and yelled. The armor yelled with her, a dozen voices screaming, overlapping.

    “…And Dame Mena should take the armor,” Kormick continued, with a look of awe that Arden didn’t recall ever seeing on him before. As Mena replaced her own armor with the new set, its shapes and patterns re-formed, gradually dissolving from Questor symbols, to mouths, and finally resolving into the symbols of the Defiers.

    “This is a Circlet of Second Chances,” Tavi said, holding up a slim headband. “I’ll just…” He tied it around his head to a chorus of nods and assents from the assembled group.

    “And this cape allows the wearer to teleport over short distances,” Twiggy offered, holding up the last of the items.

    It looks warm, too, thought Arden, envisioning herself wrapped cozily in the magical garment. Of course, Alleged would never let me have something like that… she looked out to see Kormick holding it in front of her face.

    “Take it,” he said, pushing the cape toward her. “This way we can send you straight into the middle of the fray in our next altercation.”

    Arden paused. . . . That was unexpected, she thought, and then grabbed the cape before anyone could object. “Thank you, Justicar,” she responded, throwing the warm fabric over her shoulders. “Thank you.”

    He held up his crossbow. “It won’t get you out of range. You know that.”

    Arden fingered the cuff on her wrist. “I understand, Justicar.”

    “Savina,” Tavi suggested, “you should wear Mena’s old armor.”

    Savina looked skeptically at the armor Mena had shed, with its large Sedellan symbol on the breastplate, but she reluctantly agreed to try it on. It fit, physically, but Savina looked uncomfortable, touching the Defiers’ symbol gingerly as if it might jump out and bite her.

    Twiggy approached. “I think I can help.” She cast a quick prestidigitation, and the armor shimmered for a moment. The Defiers’ symbol disappeared, replaced by a lattice of green vines with blue flowers, surrounding the symbol of the Givers. “Better?” Twiggy asked, with pride.

    “Well,” she began, tentatively, “It would be safer. I suppose I can try wearing it—at least until we find the families of those Questors, and return the other armor to them, along with the rest of these things.”

    “Naturally, at least until then,” Kormick replied, muttering to himself, “adorable.”

    Arden agreed. Adorable.
    A Rose In The Wind: A Saga Of The Halmae. It's like "Daughter Of Welcome To The Halmae." Um, literally.

  • #99
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    “Well,” she began, tentatively, “It would be safer. I suppose I can try wearing it—at least until we find the families of those Questors, and return the other armor to them, along with the rest of these things.”

    “Naturally, at least until then,” Kormick replied, muttering to himself, “adorable.”

    Arden agreed. Adorable.
    ... Wow. I've never thought of taking that angle. That's... that's BRILLIANT! "We can't take this stuff of the dead skeletons - the next of kin must be notified!" I want you folks to get a dragon's hoard so she can try to figure out who gets each gold!

  • #100
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    Thanks Rughat. I realized with some shock several sessions in that Savina is both Lawful Good (I'd orginally thought she was Neutral Good) and that she is the first Lawful Good character I've ever played. There is something really delightful about being so genuinely sweet and innocent.

    Luckily, the rest of the gaming group seems to find her more amusing then annoying.
    Welcome to the Halmae
    A Rose in the Wind
    Pimping for Justice was Just the Beginning...

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