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Rise of Tiamat - Intro

Envisioner

Explorer
Ashur, you're patrolling your current woodland home somewhere in the western Dalelands, far easy of the Misty Forest where your friend and mentor Brand died in a horrible festering mass of poisonous vapor, exhaled by a monstrous specimen of Draco venenatis viridis before he could strike a single blow in defense of the local elves. You escaped alive, barely, but the loss of your partner was a sobering setback, and the pain of this tragedy still haunts you even after several tendays. You revisit the question of whether it's worth going back to the Hunt on a daily basis; the answer frequently changes several times within a single hour.

Your brooding is interrupted by the realization that a body is winging its way directly in your direction. From a distance, it looks like a raven, its wings shining in the sunlight as it soars just above the canopy upslope, its path clearly taking it toward the lowland clearing where you're currently located.

***********

Annaliese, you're on a road running alongside the forest, currently between tasks, when a flash of silver crosses your field of vision. You see what looks like a raven flying low across the field ahead of you. However, when it reaches the treeline, it suddenly turns a 90-degree angle and zooms straight up into the sky, not leveling off again until it's just above the highest branches. Your hawk has been watching from its perch, and after observing the creature's strange motion, it gives you a single meaningful glance and takes off after the corvid.
 

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Skarsgard

Explorer
Ashur was replaying the events of his friend and mentors death, over and over in his head. Searching for some clue as to what else he may have done to save him. Guilt drove bile to the back of his throat and he spat it out, the sting drawing moisture to his eyes.

As he wiped his eyes clear, his attention was drawn by the odd behaviour of the bird flying towards the clearing. He slowed and stopped, instinctively moving to the the shadows of the trees, his eyes scanning the clearing for signs of what may have drawn the ravens attention.

 

Envisioner

Explorer
The bird begins to wing its way down toward you, and you realize that it's flying pattern isn't the only odd thing about it. Ravens are normally black-feathered, and you assumed that this one was simply shining in the sunlight because its feathers were glossy with health, but as it comes close enough for you to get a good look at it, you see that the "bird" is actually some sort of facsimile of an actual animal, made out of a glimmering metallic substance. Once it dips into shadow, it assumes a color that could be called "black", but it only resembles an actual living raven to the same extent that a statue carved out of mica would have resembled it. The silvery surface of the creature's wings makes it clear that what you took for a creature is actually some sort of magical construct, an inorganic creation cunningly crafted right down to every individual feather, so that it exactly mimics the flight function of the corvid, but clearly stands out as an artificial creation.
 


Skarsgard

Explorer
Intrigued by this metal bird Ashur breaks from cover. Whatever this construct was he wasn't going to learn anything more by hiding. Indeed with the proximity of the bird to his location, he wasn't at all confident that he was indeed 'hiding'.

He had heard of constructs like this being used to ferry messages to other people, but was at a loss as to who this may have belonged to.

With purpose, he strides to the metal construct his glaive held casually.

"Do you have a message for me?" he asks.
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
"How did that bird fly lik-- Hey, where are you going, Roo?" Ana says as the bird flies off. She looks around suspiciously. Anyone around who might own the raven, she wonders. She tries get a good look at the bird.

OOC: She is trying to look carefully at the raven. Perception: 1D20+5 = [10]+5 = 15
Remember she has this ability: You can see clearly up to a mile away seeing details as if they were only 100 ft away.
 

Envisioner

Explorer
@jmucchiello
OOC: This is roughly equivalent to distinguishing the difference between a real person (who happens to be standing completely still) and a well-made mannequin, which would be a bit challenging even at only 100 feet. But I have no desire to delay the partying-up, and by 5E standards a roll of 15 is decent, so I'll say your character is able to gain the same information that Ashur got in my second post up above - the raven is clearly artificial, with a silver sheen on its feathers which no real bird could have.

Does your familiar speak verbally, communicate telepathically, or only send and receive emotions?


@Skarsgard
The raven does not directly answer your question, but the truth becomes apparent enough when it speaks, not in the kind of croaking voice with which a well-trained raven can manage to imitate human words (while, ordinarily, having no more idea what the words mean than the raven's trainer has of its cawing), but in an obvious magical duplication of a person's voice - probably an elf, to guess by the extremely aristocratic accent and the high masculine pitch. "Brand's Apprentice! Misty Forest's King Melandrach invites you: attend him in Waterdeep, regarding possible assignment." These are fifteen of the message's twenty-five total words; the remaining ten words detail a window of dates, covering when you could arrive in the "City of Splendors" in order to meet him.

Clearly the message was compacted artificially in order to suit the restrictions of a spell; perhaps if you spoke Celestial, a tongue which is supposed to be so vast in vocabulary and precise in disambiguation that it can fit entire sentences of Common meaning into a single precisely-drawn glyph, this Melandrach could have spoken in that language instead. Then perhaps you would have a bit more detail about exactly what this "possible assignment" entails. The fact that he refers to your deceased friend/mentor/whatever, and calls you an "apprentice" (certainly not a word that Brand ever used) may well simply be one of these verbal economies; you doubt it can be meant as some sort of slight against you. It's certainly not as flattering as if he had asked for you by your own name, but who knows; elves are weird, and this isn't really enough information to be sure what's going on. Still, whatever else is true about him, a king is a source of wealth, influence, and all manner of other forms of power; if he wants some kind of service out of you, it's likely to be a well-paid one. Particularly given the arcane and probably expensive method he chose to use in making contact....

The raven sits patiently, as if waiting for you to reply. It's likely that the 25-word limit which Melandrach was clearly working around, with substantial inconvenience, would apply to whatever response you might choose to send back to him.

(Feel free to expound upon your character's backstory, and volunteer any appropriate rolls you'd like to explore for more detail; I'm being intentionally vague so as to give you a lot of potential directions to take this. As long as the direction you choose isn't "directly away from the entire plot", I can work with pretty much anything else.)
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
OOC: Familiars no longer have communication options. In 5E, all familiars communicate telepathically when within 100 ft of their master.
 

Envisioner

Explorer
@Annaliese: Your hawk states with considerable confidence that this raven isn't really alive, but its curiosity is still aroused, and it continues pursuing the bird across the treetops, soon getting far enough away that you can no longer maintain contact with it.

@Ashur: While you're still thinking about the raven's message, a hawk descends from the sky to perch in a branch not far from you, and keeps a close eye on the ersatz corvid. While not as obviously unnatural as the metal-feathered construct, the hawk's behavior does seem out of the ordinary; most raptors would either have tried to attack something that looked like a prey animal, or lost interest immediately upon discovering that it wasn't really edible. Instead, this one is just...staring at the thing. Kind of like you're doing, actually.
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
Ana follows after the hawk. I should snap you back to the feywild, Roo. But I'm curious about that bird, too. She thinks.
 

Skarsgard

Explorer
Ashur ran his hand over his stubbled chin and pondered the message. A new assignment could be welcome as pickings had been low of late and coin was starting to become a problem. His relationship with elves was somewhat strained; he had brought in many an elvish criminal and whilst on the surface the elves were appreciative of his efforts, he had always suspected that they secretly resented the fact that a 'mere human' was able to hunt down their kin.

He smiled as he formulated a response that he knew would potentially irritate the originator of the message.

"Understood," he answered curtly grinning to himself. He was about to turn away when the hawk landed nearby, there was something unnatural about it as well but he couldn't quite put his finger on what.

Another strange bird, he thought to himself. Turning to the hawk, "Are you a messenger as well?"
 

Envisioner

Explorer
(For some reason I'm not getting notifications on this thread, or I'd have responded much sooner.)

The hawk makes no response, but you do hear someone approaching through the woods. (Analiese can make a Stealth roll if you'd like, but even if you roll a natural 20, I'll just say that means Ashur doesn't hear you until you've almost reached the clearing.)

At the same time, someone else also hears the stranger's approach. Bannor has been meditating nearby, enjoying the stillness of the deep wildlands; he wasn't watching the sky, so he has no idea about either the Silver Raven or the familiar Hawk, but his level of awareness cannot help but take note of a person (by his standards) blundering through the underbrush and creating a ruckus. (He's somewhere between where Ashur is and where Ana was, so he isn't aware of Ashur yet, though it won't take long once he figures out where Ana is headed.)

(I'm going to have Robyn and Dumos meet each other somewhere else, and then join up with the party shortly thereafter. Unfortunately the well of my inspiration has run dry; I have to head home for the day, and I work tomorrow, so it will be Friday at the soonest before I can post an intro for you guys, unless you'd just like to write your own intro scene at some random village somewhere. I can certainly do better than that, if you're content to wait.)
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
OOC: Stealth is compared against passive perception. I don't think Ashur's or anyone's passive perception is 20 unless they took the observant feat.
Stealth: 1D20+7 = [17]+7 = 24
Now, granted, Bannor will not be surprised because he has alertness. But he does not know Ana is there until she does something that breaks stealth.

Ana is suspicious of what is going on. As she approaches a clearing she sees a human looking a Moperoo. He seems curious. Ana steps into the clearing, weapons sheathed. "I see you've found my hawk," she says. She makes a low whistle and mentally tells Roo to fly to her shoulder.
 

Skarsgard

Explorer
Ashur turns at the low whistle, seeing the bird take off and fly towards the woman appearing out of the trees. The metal bird didn't seem to react to the newcomer so he doubted it was hers.

"Good day, lady," Ashur bows slightly. The woman seemed to be an adventurer like himself and moved with easy grace in the wild. Not some tavern maid this one. "I take it this one isn't yours?"

He indicates the metal bird perched nearby.
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
"No," Ana says. "Little Roo here spotted that one and gave chase. I guess it doesn't belong to you either. Not a natural bird. Is it?"
 

Skarsgard

Explorer
Ashur shook his head and turned back to the metal bird.

"No, not natural." he agreed. "But is is a messenger. It has delivered its message but it still lingers."

He considers the newcomer, "My name is Ashur. This construct gave me a message as I approached it but it still lingers. Maybe it has a message for you too?"
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
"Perhaps, Ashur," Ana says. When the bird looks her way she says, "Hello, I'm Annaliese Claymoor." Then she looks at Ashur, "But you can call me Ana."
 


Envisioner

Explorer
OOC: I am still not getting notifications for this thread, despite having it Watched. This may become a problem.

After hearing the 25th word spoken between Ana and Ashur, the raven takes off and flies back in the direction from which it originally came. Analiese senses Roo's desire to pursue the target, but it's just a momentary twitch before the raptor's magically-constructed sentience overcomes its innate predator instinct. The artificial bird never sees Bannor, nor vice versa (though he might hear the whistling of its flight overhead, past a thickness of canopy sufficient to block his view, shortly before he arrives in the clearing).

Meanwhile

Dumos and Robyn have met on the road, both independently en route to Waterdeep. The tiefling has gotten a letter from some mid-ranking noble, who mentions that he was recommended to her by a lower-ranking noble whose holdings Dumos recently protected (not that this was really the reason why he was there; killing the monster was his priority, and he just managed not to inflict any real degree of collateral damage in the process, so the locals remember him more fondly than they otherwise might have done). The missive was quite vague on the details, but Dumos can likely assume that the intended mission will involve both coin and trouble, so he's certainly inclined to go check it out, having no other immediate priorities. The cleric of course has a more personal and hard-to-ignore summons motivating his travels; Selune's whispered voice is often hard to clearly make out, but one particular moonlit evening's prayers, he was quite specifically pointed in the direction of Waterdeep, with a highly unusual degree of urgency, as if the fate of many innocents depends on his making his way there as soon as reasonably possible. As tends to be the way of things in Faerun, the two traveling adventurers crossed paths coincidentally, shared a campfire meal or three and traded stories, and have established at least the beginnings of an acquaintanceship, so they now approach the local trading hub of Westwater together.

As the holy man and the somewhat-less-holy spellsword approach within a mile or so of the city, they notice that the air smells worrisomely of ash and smoke. They are relived when they finally spy the walls, but somewhat less so when they see the closed iron gates on a settlement which usually has nonstop trading caravans passing through in both ways, with spear-carrying guards walking the battlements only 15 or 20 yards apart, and a distinct haze of pollution in the air overhead which the summer breezes have yet to dissipate. Clearly, something unpleasant has happened here, or perhaps it's still happening....
 

jmucchiello

Adventurer
OOC: Unwatch the thread. Then watch it again. Make sure email notifications are enabled when you confirm the watch. If you've already tried this, post in the Meta forum about issues with email notifications.

(I disable all notification everywhere on the Internet so I can't tell you if notifications are working.)
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

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