Monday, 17 October 2016

GURPS Free Cities Session 23: To Chryssa's Rest

Arc Sol - Human Cleric of Pelor, the god of the sun (334 points)
Aurum Red-Brand - Human Wizard (324 points)
Mor'ath Enanqua - Elven Swashbuckler/Thief (318 points)
Zaxod - Half-Orc Knight (333 points)

Day 52 (Flashback):
Date: Khalis 31st, 2525
Weather: Perfect
Arc was in the infirmary of the arena, working on wounded competitors.  He had just finished stabilizing a noble with a missing arm when he heard a scream of rage from around the corner, where another fighter had woken up mid-surgery and begun strangling the surgeon working on him.  Arc asked the Berserk fighter to calm down, and he miraculously did.

Day 53 (Cont.):
Weather: Overcast, No Rain
Aurum and Zaxod watched the fight between Mor'ath and Roberto intently, as Aurum had bet 10 gold coins ($1,000) on Mor'ath to win.  Meanwhile, Arc was elbow-deep in a half-orc's chest in the infirmary.  The warrior had refused to yield until he had fallen unconscious, and his left arm and right leg were almost dismembered.  Despite this, Arc was able to stop the internal bleeding and repair the limbs, saving the half-orc's life.

In the arena, Mor'ath and Roberto continued their duel.  After dodging another stab to the eyes, Roberto foolishly exclaimed that he had seen through Mor'ath's trick in the earlier rounds, and wouldn't be blinded like the rest of his foes.  Mor'ath switched tactics and cut off Roberto's sword-hand, but instead of yielding, he continually attempted to grapple onto Mor'ath with his one remaining hand.  Roberto failed repeatedly, and yielded after taking another severe wound, winning Aurum $200.

During the last battle of the day, an older man approached Aurum in the stands and made pleasant conversation.  He claimed to be a scholar who was in-town to do research at the Grand Library, but was taking a break to watch the tournament.  Aurum decided to verify this by asking him obscure questions about the origins of the Grand Library, and was satisfied with the answers he gave.  The two watched the last fight, and Gauthak the Goliath won easily.

Day 54:
Weather: Overcast
The tournament was down to only four competitors.  The first fight, featuring the one-eyed High Elf Seriel and the swordswoman Alayne, lasted for quite some time until Alayne shield-rushed and knocked Seriel off her feet.  Shortly after, Mor'ath and Gauthak entered the arena for the last fight of the day.  Aurum was looking to continue his win streak and bet $1,000 on Mor'ath to win.

Mor'ath hung back and Evaluated while Gauthak closed the distance between them in a defensive stance.  After some more manoeuvering, Gauthak stepped in, Feinted, and then made two swings at Mor'ath's skull.  The first was parried with a little Luck, but the second was a critical, and knocked Mor'ath unconscious.  Meanwhile, Aurum tore his gambling ticket to shreds in the stands.

Arc healed Mor'ath's wounds with mundane healing in the infirmary, and with Major Healing once back at the Blue Pheasant Inn.

Day 55:
Weather: Sunny, Light Wind
The championship battle between Gauthak and Alayne was very thrilling and exciting and totally not just a dice roll.  Alayne successfully landed most of a seven-hit combo, but most were parried and the rest bounced off of Gauthak's hardened skin and breastplate.  The battle continued for a while, and eventually Gauthak won.

Aurum met up with the scholar again, and learned that he was named Aegon (Arc: "Obviously he's Aegert's brother.  One looks to the future, the other to the past.").  He inquired about the strange floating disc and was told that they had found it in dwarven ruins, and Zaxod interjected that he had killed some kind of squid thing that was riding it.  Meanwhile, Mor'ath joined an underground fighting ring that taught the Midnight Blade fighting style.

Day 56:
Weather: Perfect
It was finally the last day of the tournament, and Aurum and Mor'ath put some money on Gauthak (but far, far more on Morthos) before the match started.  The two fighters took the field, and it was clear from the beginning that Gauthak was outclassed.  He landed some heavy blows but failed to penetrate Morthos' armour, while Morthos' sword burst into flame with every strike.  Morthos impaled Gauthak, and the goliath slumped to the ground, dead (a 17 on an HT check to live).

Arc checked over the body and confirmed that Gauthak was indeed dead from a stab to the lungs, but discovered that he had also been poisoned.  After closer examination, it seemed that the poison had been ingested rather than from the sword wounds.  After getting his pay and leaving the infirmary, he informed the rest of the party of the suspicious situation, and they went to the Blue Pheasant, where Gauthak and many of the other competitors had also been staying,

Arc questioned the innkeeper and asked to see the kitchen, but was refused.  Zaxod pointed out that Mor'ath and several others had been poisoned several days earlier, and that it could have just been residual from that, but after some testing that seemed unlikely.  Zaxod then realized that people only seem to get poisoned when fighting nobles.

Later at night, the party decided to meet with Morthos and find out what was going on, but were refused entry to the Autarch's Palace without proof that they were to be allowed within the walls, and were told to come back the next day.

Day 57:
Weather: Cloudy, Light Rain
After morning prayer, the party went back to the Palace and were lead to Morthos.  He assumed they were here regarding the man in the blue robe they had taken prisoner, and informed them that they hadn't found out much.  The man, who they had discovered was named Conbert, was under a powerful Oath to not mention the group he worked for.  They only knew from the interrogation of Riffin Asilos that Conbert had been helping him for gold.

Morthos conjectured that whoever Conbert was working for might be interested in destabilizing Zerakim, as the war devil the Asilos had been trying to summon would have been ordered to kill the Autarch.  Arc offered to try his hand at dispelling the Oath, and was lead into the dungeons, where Conbert was being kept.

The wizard was naked and chained to the wall inside of a Pentagram, with meteoric iron finger manacles and a helmet that also clamped his mouth shut.  Arc cast Remove Curse, but his powers were too weakened to succeed.  Morthos said not to worry, and that eventually they'd break the spell, but that it could take some time, and they returned to the main hall.

Zaxod then told Morthos that Gauthak had been poisoned, possibly by the innkeeper of the Blue Pheasant, and Morthos was surprised.  He promised to look into it with discretion, and the party went on their way.

They then voted on what to do next.  Arc and Mor'ath headed out of Zerakim and into the countryside to see how far the Low-Sanctity extended, while Aurum and Zaxod went to the adventurer's guildhouse to look for jobs, preferably out of town.  There was one potential job, though it would require a meeting with the client, a nobleman named Mathus Aureleus, before they could be hired.

Arc and Mor'ath discovered that the Sanctity was poor as far as several kilometres from Zerakim, and eventually turned back and reunited with Aurum and Zaxod.  The party then went to Mathus Aureleus' estate, and set up a meeting for the next day with a clerk.  Despite being suspicious that Gauthak had been poisoned by the innkeeper, they went back to the Blue Pheasant to rest.

Day 58:
Weather: Party Cloudy
The party met for lunch with Mathus Aureleus, who said that he was bankrolling the founding of a town (Chryssa's Rest, after his wife) four days southwest of Trugo, far outside civilization.  He was looking for people to secure the area from the potentially hostile locals with the help of his nephew, Jaron, who would act as a diplomat.  When told that the locals would include "orcs, I think, and possibly ogres", Zaxod was immediately on board to "get rid" of all of them.  Pay was room and board, as well as a fee of $2,000 per week each.

After the party had agreed to the job, they asked why anyone would build a town in the middle of the plains, where it would be extremely cut off from supply lines and constantly under threat, Mathus replied that an adamantium vein had been discovered, and that it was well worth the risk (and considerable expense) to secure it.  When asked for more details on the terrain and locals, Mathus said to ask his cousin, Harthex Castus, who would be in charge once they got there.

Mathus added that there was another group of adventurers and ten guards who had already been hired to help defend the village, and to be ready to leave in two days.  The party took their leave and began stocking up on supplies.

Day 59:
Weather: Overcast
People bought goods, Mor'ath spent the day training, and Zaxod left a message for Morthos explaining that they were leaving and wouldn't be able to help with anything anymore.

Day 60-64:
The party boarded the Reckless Capitalist, a merchant vessel owned by Aureleus, and Arc felt his powers return as soon as he was aboard, leading Mor'ath to the conclusion that water was holy.  They also met Jaron, a man in his mid-twenties with comically oversized glasses.  He wasn't very talkative and seemed disinterested with the mission, but offered to teach Giant (aka Orcish) to any who wanted to learn.  Aurum learned just the written, Arc learned spoken, and Zaxod learned the entire language.  Mor'ath tried to learn some useful phrases, but got bored quickly.  The ship had a stopover in Pontera on Day 62, and although nobody left the ship, they noticed that it was very similar to Adusia in design.

Day 65:
Weather: Sunny
The Reckless Capitalist docked in Trugo, and Jaron told them to meet at the south gate the next morning.  The city consisted of narrow streets between ramshackle wooden buildings stacked almost on top of each other, with some hanging over the water.  Arc went to the local church of Pelor, which was as thrown together as the rest of Trugo, with stained glass made out of bits of broken bottles, and donated some money to have his bracelet charged as a power item.  He also noticed that the locals were eyeing the party, and Aurum warned the rest of the party to be careful, as Trugo was a hive of scum and villainy.

They found the Dirty Glass, a bar owned by Salty Steve, a man with an eyepatch and a peg arm ("What use is a peg arm?  You can't grab anything with it." "He smacks you with his peg arm."), and rented rooms for the night.

Day 66:
Weather: Light Rain
The party met with Jaron at the south gate, where a carriage awaited.  A half-orc missing two fingers gave a rough nod to Zaxod (and nobody else), and they set out towards the village of Honthorp, the last settlement before the Central Plains.

They arrived slightly before nightfall, and were warmly greeted by Lady Estelle Geria, who reminisced about the last time she had seen Jaron, as a child.  The party ate well and rested after some fruitless exploration of the basement ("It's a store-room with two cells for prisoners that are empty") and the roof ("There are farms in all directions, plains to the south, mountains way off to the west, and an angry guard asking you to come down") .

Day 67-68:
The party continued travelling across the plains to Chryssa's Rest, but the weather got drastically worse on the second day, and after the horses got stuck in mud and the wheels of the carriage came off for the third time, they stopped for the night.  In the night, they heard the sound of an approaching goblin patrol that narrowly missed them thanks to Mor'ath's Camouflage.

Day 69:
Weather: Perfect
Date: Khalis 48th, 2525
Finally, the party arrived at Chryssa's Rest.  The town was clearly in-progress, with only a few buildings actually finished, and ditches instead of walls.  The driver took them slightly north of the centre of town, where a hill had been built up and a large mansion was being constructed.  They disembarked and met with Harthex Castus, who was busy yelling at some servants who were moving a chandelier.

Harthex greeted Jaron, and launched straight into a briefing on what they knew and what was going on.  Most of their information had been gathered by a trapper, so it wasn't necessarily accurate.

  • To the southwest is the Falling Rock orc tribe.
  • They seemed willing to let the humans do as they wanted so long as they were left alone (Zaxod: "It's a trick, they have to die").
  • The trapper who met them was not let within their settlement.
  • There is a group of ogres in caves near to the Falling Rock orcs, with a totem of a cracked skull

  • To the west is the Stone Axe orc tribe.  
  • They welcomed the trapper and threw a banquet in his honour (Zaxod: "Yep, they have to die too").

  • A third tribe, the Night Wolves, came to meet with the humans on their own.  
  • They were willing to trade and said they would return with goods (Zaxod: "Oh we're killing them for sure").
  • They also warned against trusting the Stone Axe orcs.
  • Their chieftain seemed very young.
  • Nobody is sure where their camp is.

  • The other adventuring party was out hunting a pack of dire wolves.
  • They were an ornery halfling, beautiful swordswoman, dwarven priest, and elven archer
The party argued over what to do next for a while.  Zaxod suggested that mass murder was the only option, while Arc argued that they should at least try talking first.  After several minutes, a horn sounded from the south, and a guard yelled "Orcs!".  Zaxod drew both axes and sprinted off, Mor'ath ran after him to get there first, and Arc and Aurum followed as quickly as they could.  Jaron followed at a light jog.

Mor'ath arrived first, and saw that it was a group of five orcs (in armour but not apparently armed) all carrying trade goods, and one mule with full saddlebags.  He Gestured for them to stop, and though he was using the default, they were confused enough that they stopped.  Zaxod arrived shortly after, and began yelling in Giant at the orcs to go away before he killed them all.

A young-sounding and shorter orc said that they would be back another time, then, and they left.  As they walked away, Arc and Aurum arrived, and realized that the orcs' armour was similar to the suits they had seen in the dwarven ruins underneath the mine in Carda.

The party watched the orcs until they disappeared from sight, and Arc and Mor'ath began making plans to follow them later, while Zaxod wasn't watching.  They returned to the mansion-in-progress to plan, and eventually met with the other adventuring party.  The halfling agreed with Zaxod that the only good orc was a dead orc, while the others wondered if they could solve this without bloodshed.

Later that night, horns sounded at the North and South gates and the guards cried "Ogres!".

Mor'ath's fights were done in advance to save time.  Probably a good idea.

Aurum came out barely positive in betting thanks to the $1k loss on Mor'ath.  He was actually very lucky, as I rolled for every other fight and he was right every time thanks to Games (Combat Sport).

Mor'ath got the symbol of the Asilos family removed from the armour they got to be less suspicious.  His new saber does still have the symbol on one side in embedded gems.

Trugo was originally a pirate settlement but was "annexed" by an ancient human empire.  The nobles placed in charge rule remotely from one of the other Free Cities, and so the city has descended into anarchy.

Aurum has come up with a "Merchant Test".  He asks NPC's if they can appraise the value of his staff, and if they do, then they're merchants, and he hates them.  Aegon and Jaron are apparently merchants, while Harthex isn't because he responded "Why in hell would I do that".

Chryssa's Rest has a junior wizard from the enchanter's guild and an initiate of Pelor present, so power items can be recharged, some potions can be bought, and some minor enchantments are available.

West of Chryssa's Rest, the plains turn into forest at the foothills of the Dhirin Mountains.

Zaxod really, really hates orcs.  He describes himself as half-human, and has Obsession (Slaughter Orcs).

Ended on the last day of the year in-game.  Nothing like killing ogres to ring in the new year!

Though it's the middle of winter, the weather doesn't get very cold as the Free Cities are equatorial.

While Extra Effort in Combat is allowed, Heroic Charge is officially banned, to make engaging into a tricky thing that requires some thought and tactics rather than just 1FP.

1 for general progress
1 for roleplaying
1 for the hardest fight (avoiding the goblins counts)
0 for loot
0 for quests
MVP went to Mor'ath by random roll because it was a tie.

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