Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trouble on the Road: Part Three

Part One: Here
Part Two: Here


Interior of the Carriage
As Elian is spins his false tale of woe and attempts to place the coachmen's corpse in the carriage, the GM can introduce any number of the items which belong to the Dorman family. How the GM does this, as well as the number of clues which are available, is at the GMs preference. If the player characters inquire more about the scene (the interior or exterior of the carriage) the clues should be revealed. As they are revealed, Elian will fiction an adequate story for each as explained below.  

The exterior of the carriage has two rectangular, open air windows at the back of each flank, offering no view of the perch from inside. A thick beige fabric shrouds the view (and is latched) inside. The interior of the carriage is a total mess. This is because Elian was in search of valuables until the player characters arrived on the scene. Clothes, a few empty containers and some food stuff are strewn throughout. If you’d prefer a random clue roll d4

1) Sitting upright in the corner adjacent to the doorway is a corset.
2) The frill and lace of high quality ladies dress in two sizes (Ulna’s & Dorna’s) and a large bulge at the center of it which the iron lock box will be revealed if the clothes are moved.
3) An ornate ivory comb, which closer inspection reveals long strands of fair hair. Elian’s hair is short and brown.
4) A blood splattered tunic is at the bottom of the tangled mess (Elian’s)
GMs Dialog Example:
GM: “As Elian opens the door you (addressing the group) notice the interior of the carriage is a total mess and reeks of spilt wine. Clothes, books, a few empty containers and some food stuff are strewn chaotically throughout.”

Player Character, Camden: "What about the mess inside the carriage?"

GM: “Camden, in addition to the mess,(Gm rolls D4, result is a 1) the lace and distinct curve of a corset catches your eye.”

Exterior of the Carriage
Besides the body, nothing to peculiar about the exterior of the carriage unless the player characters specifically inquire and/or make effort to investigate. The road itself is rocky and hard revealing little in the way of tracking clues, though looking to the ground might reveal clue #4. Player characters should discover a recent trail left by Talen and the Dorman family, though the grass to the grove of trees to the northeast, should they search for it away from the road.

1) Close examination of Elian’s frayed leather ridding gloves, reveals blood. The gloves are stained with blood from the killing stroke.
2) The perch of the carriage (where the coachman sat) is heavily stained with blood but a hand crossbow is upon the seat, unstained (because it belongs to Talen). 
3) The coachman has a wound on his arm. A piece of broken shaft and smallish bolt (which fit the hand crossbow) are revealed if the arm is inspected.
4) Partially beneath the back wheel is a small toy horse, on closer inspection at the bottom of the child’s trinket, the name Dorna is carved.

Elian’s Silver Tongue

If the player characters voice their observations to one another and are overheard or question Elian directly, he has a sufficient story to explain most suspicions away. (Each Instance: *Td6*) 
The mess inside the carriage he attributes to his own panic while searching for his sword and old gloves during the attempted robbery. Fact, The mess is Elian scrounging for items of value.

The ivory comb, ladies clothing & corset belonged to patrons, who fancied more than his acting and donated them for use as actor props. The fact is that these are possessions of Ulna and Dorma.
The toy horse a toy he bought at a bizarre which he’s gifting to his niece. The horse is Dorma’s toy and her name is inscribed on the bottom.

The coachman and his fatal wounds as well as the hand crossbow he will claim to know nothing of. The coachman’s fatal wound was delivered by Elian’s short sword at his hand. The hand crossbow is Talen’s weapon left here thoughtlessly while binding the family.

Elian: “So much blood, I couldn’t do anything to help the man. It was too late.”

If the player characters catch the above line and recall that Elian claimed on two prior occasions (bolded prior) that he never left the carriage, as well as the windows of the carriage which are situated at the rear, and don’t afford a view of the perch, award them (additional XP for attention). Still, Elian will hold to the story long as the player characters keep their distance. If the player characters inquire about the contradictions Elian will stutter a bit, but claim that he was in such a state of fright and panic he can’t honestly recall what he did or did not do.  
If the player characters ask to examine Elian’s sword gloves, he will refuse to allow either to be closely examined. His reaction upon request will reflect guilt. The sword was sheathed hastily without wiping and gloves spattered with blood, revealing his deception to this point and the fact that he delivered the killing stroke. Keep in mind that if the player characters have allowed Elian to lift the body into the carriage he could have received some of that blood on his gloves, which in fact this is what he will claim.

Attempted Custody (*Td6*)

Aggressive actions directed towards Elian at any point will be met with harsh threats, pending actual guilt is yet revealed. Looking through the carriage forcefully without permission Elian never breaks character. GMs should play him how you like but I prefer to play him with a certain aristocratic air about him. The moment his bloody tunic is discovered, or guilt is determined obvious by the player characters, Elian will make an attempt to flee. 
“Do you fools know who you’re dealing with? I am a great and favored actor of these lands! People for mile upon miles love and favor me. Mind you-people in high places! Those who try and manhandle me or-mine shall be digging themselves an early grave!”

“No doubt you plan to rob me as well!”
If the player characters attempt to “handle,” Elian in an impolite manner Elian will strategically position himself to make sure they have not surrounded him or cut off his exit for flight.

If the player characters attempt to procure Elian’s sword through physicality he will brandish the weapon (revealing his guilt). Being outnumbered he uses it sparingly making all efforts to escape. Elian is very mindful (as guilty folks often are) of his surroundings as well as how the player characters position themselves about his person. If a grab is attempted, his first action will be to duck and roll beneath the carriage to the other side, breaking into a full sprint for the grove. Make an opposed roll. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Map! Products & Borders of Yore: Chirstmas in July!

Map! Tower Ruin & Map! Swamp Dock are currently 25% off, as part of the "Christmas in July Sale." My publisher's resource product, Borders of Yore is also available. Admittedly I'm not huge fan of Drivethru's frequency of sales. I usually I don't option in. However, nearly coming up on this blog's one year blogiversary, I figure I'd give this one a try, as a test. Is this sale better than "Products written in Chinese Sale," or the "Thanksgiving on the second Tuesday of the Month Sale?" (Note: Those sales don't exists, I'm being smart) Ehh... We'll give this one a shot...
Disclosure: Products below include affiliate links. I receive a token % if you purchase something from the landing page.
Product Page Link Sale!!!
Borders of Yore

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Trouble on the Road: Part Two

Part One is Here 

Narrative (to be read aloud) is in blue,

(*Td6*) = Timeline Mechanic, described in Part One

-Encounter Introduction- (*Td6*)
“Beside the occasional farm, your travel on the old road is unmet and uneventful. Groves of deciduous trees highlight the countryside. The occasional gust of wind services to cool the warmth of the mid-morning sun. For 100 hundred feet the road meanders up a modest hill…

As the hill plateaus you see the rear and side outline, of an enclosed passenger carriage. The two horsed carriage is off the right side of the road. The horses idle.
At the perch of the carriage a boot and pant leg hangs over the road side, presumably of a coachman with his back against the frame of the carriage, seemingly at rest.”

The player characters are approximately 60ft away; approaching the carriage from the rear (Starting position marked by S, bottom center).

If the player characters exercise caution: (*Td6*)
If the player characters exercise caution by inquiring more about the carriage or the scene in general, emphasize that the carriage is one of luxury; enclosed and crafted of study wood and iron. The carriage is more common to a city living, than country roads. The carriage door is parallel to the road, at the center of the cab. The oak box step beneath, is trimmed in copper. The carriage has one window (2) on each flank toward the rear. Each window is shrouded by a beige curtain, fastened on the inside. The seat of the perch is at the front and somewhat above level of the frame carriage. 

When the player characters are within 20ft: (*Td6*)
When the player characters are within 20ft, perform a Hear Sounds check. For Labyrinth Lord, classes which don’t have this mechanic; House rule: rolling a 1 on a D6 indicates success. Unless a player initiates the check the nature of the roll is unknown to the players.
Success entails that the player character will hear Elian scrounging about the cab, hear the squeak of the iron suspension and once heard, notice the slight lateral shift of the carriage against the wheel. In short the character is certain that someone is inside the cab.

If the player characters hail the coachmen or carriage: (*Td6*)

The coachmen’s body is positioned with his back to the player characters. The body is upright on the perch. The head and shoulders rest against the frame of the carriage. The coachman is clothed in leather and dark brown fabric, which makes the stain of blood less obvious. If the player characters attempt hail the coachman, Elian emerges from the cab.

If the player characters sneak up on the carriage: (*Td6*)
When the player characters are Within 10 feet they will certainly notice a pool of blood on the ground below the front wheel and which the origin of this blood is of the coachman.

Once within 10ft roll 1d6 for each character. Any result of 3 or more indicates one of characters have spooked the horses. The horses are a bit high strung due to recent events and neigh loud enough to alert Elian to the presence, which he emerges from the cab.
In the event that the characters have snuck all the way to the carriage unnoticed and if they should happen to open the carriage door Elian will be surprised. His reaction and whether his guilt is revealed, such as drawing a blood stained short sword, is up to the GM.

If the player characters hail the coachmen or their presence is revealed, read the following

“As you approach (or as you hail the coachmen), the carriage shifts and the side door opens. A shirtless man in leather breaches, gloves and boots leans out from door. He sees you and steps upon the block of step beneath the threshold, with a gloved hand guarding the scabbard of his short sword.
The passenger says (or shouts if further than 20 ft. away), “What an eventfully damned day! And who are you? More robbers I suppose?”

The passenger puts his hand to the scabbard of his sword and steps off the carriage; the shift of weight causes the body of the coachman to fall face first from the perch to the road.”

Optional narrative, pending the player character’s awareness (if they had snuck close enough to notice) that that coachman is dead:
“The coachman is dead and not from the fall. You can now see the top of his head is a mess of blood and flesh. A savage looking cleave-mark at the crown of the skull exposes brain.”

-Character Encounter: Elian- (*Td6*)
Elian spins his “tale” of recent events (perhaps a bit too enthusiastically) while hefting the coachman off the road and inside the carriage. Elian’s story is horribly inconsistent. Upon the first read through, GMs should take note as to what is bolded.  

1) Elian claims that he never left the carriage during the (fictitious) assault. An examination of the short sword on his hip (hastily wiped), and/or gloves, reveals blood spatter, suggesting otherwise.
2) Later, Elain claims to have attempted to help the coachmen with his wounds. In addition to supposedly never leaving the carriage, he didn’t even take the coachman down from the perch. The coachman’s wound was certainly enough to cause instant death.

The GM can play this a number of ways. Recommended, is to commit to a character that is immodestly self-consumed and slightly pompous. The following dialog is a guideline, but there is a lot of room to make the Elian’s story more or less consistent to what has actually transpired.
Would one of you be kind enough to give me hand (with the body) here?

I’m sorry you had to see that, but thank the gawds you’ve come along. We’ve had some trouble here-some bandits killed my man, in front. I was so frightened until you came, I didn’t even think about leaving the carriage. I couldn’t see much of it from my view in the back. Windows here out the back sides. Poor desperate souls tried to rob us, I believe. Whoever they were, the rabble fled once my other man confronted them. He gave chase on horseback into that thicket of trees!
Elian points to a large grove of deciduous trees (supposing) northwest of the carriage. Indeed it is the grove Talen has taken the Dorman family. If the Elian’s talk spurs the player characters to charge for the grove, Elian will shout, “No wait! It may have been in that direction,” now pointing northeast, feigning uncertainty.

If the player characters remain with the carriage: (*TD6*)
Elian introduces himself: as Elian Stormspire, the highest paid actor and talent of the land, performer for kings, lords and ladies of fine standing. GMs should consider adding as much theatrical flair as they are capable, but a few jazz hands and a bow should be sufficient. Without being asked and once introductions have concluded, Elian continues the ruse saying that his journey is to a nearby city, where his acting and stage talent have been procured for a season festival.

If the player characters press Elian for more information: (*Td6*)
In regards to the scuffle, the number of bandits, weapons, or ask, if the bandits were on horseback. Elian will claim cowardice and which he heard the scuffle better than witnessed it, never leaving the safety of the carriage. Once the coachman is inside-Elian finds a shirt (surprisingly) close to fit and puts it on.

If the conversation remains civil: (*Td6*)
And if the player characters seem to believe him, he will certainly offer the group employment as escorts for the remainder of his supposed journey, once Talen returns.