Monday, April 23, 2012

Knowledge: Geography - Lighthouses

Historically, light houses were first used in the harbors of cities and towns to guide ships. Only later were light houses placed to warn sailors of dangerous areas. Redstone Island is in the second category for several reasons.

First, the treacherous coasts around Redstone Island, due to its volcanic geography, are more dangerous than most nautical threats. The rocks rise up quickly and are sharp as razors, able to tear out the hull of a ship in a few moments. Historically, scavengers would settle around shipwreck areas to pick up lost cargo. Now imagine that in a fantasy setting with sea monsters and other threats looking for a tasty meal.

Second, in relation to the region, even though the coastline is a coupe hundred miles long, the island is very small and easy to miss as it sits by itself in the Erse Sea. Having multiple lighthouses is crucial to the town getting any trade at all. Miss the island because you can't find it and your next port of call is ten days away, if you make it at all, as you also need to skirt the dangerous Sunken Lands. With no functional lighthouses right now, that means trade is very light to the island as the threat is high.

Third, the island was "settled" by the Northmen, who came from the, you guessed it, north. They did not need a lot of lighthouses as their journey was shorter and less dangerous. Now most of them live far to the east, past the Sunken Lands and they face the same navigational threats as everyone else.

If you want to improve trade, you should definitely repair the various lighthouses, which use natural crystals infused with magic (continual light) to guide ships (you have two such crystals). A lighthouse at the Tara harbor would further increase trade and would be much appreciated.

How to Navigate: The approximate Earth year is zero. This means sailors tended to use the stars and moon to navigate, and most stayed along the coastline using landmarks or even scent (cities smell). There were no compasses or other navigation tools and even maps were rare. The Northmen, with heavy cloud cover many months of the year, could watch the birds. In fact, most voyages were very repetitive. Rather than the oceans as a superhighway, a medieval development, many sailors made the voyage between the same two towns with the same cargo for their entire lives.

 "When you get 11 fathoms and ooze on the lead, you are a day's journey out from Alexandria," wrote Herodotus in the fourth century B.C. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tara at 30 Days

Time to Samhain:  5 months

 The town is functioning better than it has in years. The people are more productive with more farming and iron work being done. Productivity from their faith has improved now that Daghda stands over them. The young heroes have been liberated from their addiction to The Eyes of Crom and are recovering. There is hope that the forest will one be safe for more widespread hunting and that the iron deposits to the north may one day bring them greater wealth.

Much has happened in Tara and the surrounding area in the last 30 days:
  • Internally, half of the town's highly trained young people were liberated from a conspiracy to addict them from drugs and keep them pacified.
  • Bandits to the south were dispatched, providing for safe passage of the iron miners.
  • Smugglers were stopped and tons of iron ore recovered, along with a sailing ship.
  • Old One Eye, a nasty worg that prowled in the southern forests, was taken down.
  • The mystery of Bran the Trapper was solved and his body returned home.
  • Iron ore veins were found to the north, and although not in production, should create quite a windfall for the town.
  • The valley has been full explored and although many threats still exist, as they're are defeated, the area becomes safer.
  • A statue of Daghda was uncovered to the north. This very large statue has magical properties that make the inhabitants of Tara more productive.
Some of the "concrete" results of these actions (changes in red):

Corruption +0; Crime -6 (from -5) Economy -1; Law +3 (from +2) Lore +2; Society +0
Base Value 2,538 gp (up 8%)
Purchase Limit 12,690 gp (up 8%)

 Future thoughts:
  • What the town needs most is more trade and an influx of people who want to live there. 
  • Removing the Samhain Threat will have a huge impact removing the "curse" on the town.

Magic Items Available:
Magic Item Price Type
oil of mending 25 gp Potion / Oil
potion of resist energy (Fire) 10 300 gp Potion / Oil
potion of bear's endurance 300 gp Potion / Oil
arcane scroll of level 3 spell, magic circle against evil (CL5) 375 gp Scroll
arcane scroll of level 3 spell, ray of exhaustion (CL5) 375 gp Scroll
wand of level 1 spell, magic missile (CL1), 26 charges 390 gp Wand
medium sized heavy wood shield, +1 1,170 gp Shield
medium sized heavy wood shield, +1 1,170 gp Shield
lens of detection 3,500 gp Wondrous Item
circlet of persuasion 4,500 gp Wondrous Item
robe of useful items 7,000 gp Wondrous Item
lesser empower metamagic rod 9,000 gp Rod
large steel shield, +3 9,180 gp Shield

Monday, April 16, 2012

Exploring the Hills

The party ventured forth once again into the Awayn River Valley. Their first objective was to find a cave of crystals that the wizard had determined must exist for Blackthorn's druidic rituals. Blackthorn was happy to tell them the location, provided they assist him with a problem. The guardian of an elder grove needed assistance, and the party was to figure out how to help. They headed towards the southern hills, but first had to cross the Cyclopean bridge.

The bridge was ancient, with the caving "They Shall Know Peace," in Hellenic, along with figures of humans being productive in various tasks. A slag pile of rusted metal armor and weapons lay next to the bridge approach. As the party crossed the bridge, the ranger was nearly pulled to the grown as a trap was sprung, his armor weighing him down. Simultaneously, a wolverine was conjured onto the bridge and it attacked mercilessly. Luckily the ranger resisted the magnetic pull and was able to slay the beast with help from the party.

After crossing the bridge, the party was once again attacked, this time by a goblin cleric riding on a dire wolf with her goblin minions. The battle went on for some time, and the dire wolf nearly ripped the throat out of the ranger before the party's cleric could call on Diancecht for healing. Eventually the goblin cleric and wolf were slain and the party discovered the cloak of the rangers father. Like with his sword, the man was nowhere to be found.

From the hills, the party ventured down into the valley into the elder grove. An agitated and badly injured owlbear attacked and the party was able to disable it before the dryad Carmentis appeared to tell her story. The owlbear, Hooty, was her guardian and she was in charge of the grove. 

Carmentis was sent to guard the elder grove as punishment for her inappropriate relationship with a baccae named Terissa. Lately she has been tormented by satyrs who persue her in the grove and who have tormented Hooty. Carmentis gave the general location of the satyrs and her lover, hoping the party may possibly slay the satyrs and bring her lover to her. No promises one way or the other, just an agreement to assist each other. In exchange, Carmentis gave the party a supply of elder boughs to show Blackthorn. The boughs are also known to be spell components for activating stone circles.

Blackthorn thanked the party for assisting Carmentis and sent them on their way to the crystal cave, where they found the crystals they needed for the broken light houses, along with a dead goblin who had fallen to Bran the Trappers arrows. Apparently it had made its way to this cave on its dire wolf before the wolf chewed through the strap attaching the goblin and went on its way. The goblin possessed a note, possibly to Crannog, informing him that the Tarans suspected nothing and would be easy to defeat in the upcoming Samhain raid. Also in the cave was a mountain lion who attacked the distracted party as they studied the note.

The party then made their way to the northern hills, finding additional evidence of iron ore deposits and another trap that nearly flattened the summoners eidolon. They discovered a field of blue poppies (another spell component) and witnessed a battle between two plant creatures that ended with the deaths of both. Finally, they discovered a tall statue of Daghda on a fountain overlooking the town, covered completely in vines, bushes and debris. Upon clearing away the debris, the water in the fountain magically began running clear. Those in town who could see the Daghda statue were nearly brought to tears as their patron of good harvests greeted them the next morning.

Finally, the last act of the party was to take the surveyors to the new iron ore veins. Everything went well over the next couple of days, including a quick dispatch of an angry brown bear, but on their return trip, they were ambushed by four dire wolves. The wolves must have been overconfident, as the party was neither surprised nor acted slowly to attack them. With precision lacking in previous battles, the wolves were dispatched in a difficult battle that found most of the party fighting from the ground by its end.

Cyclopean Stonework