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[CYOA] Ardor & Obligation (Epilogue.)



  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    Grab them all, become the Avatar

    Or D I guess

  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    A. Get hype!

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    edited August 2021
    The blue figurine had heft, weight. The detail was incredible. The tiny overlapping serpent scales shifted and moved, even as the wood itself remained static. Hilda's vision swam.

    Water lapped at her ankles.

    The crone and her stall were gone. She stood now on a beach she didn't recognize. Coarse, dark sand, littered with millions of tiny shells and shards. Behind her, slate gray cliffs topped with leafy vegetation blocked her view.

    Hilda gritted her teeth and hurled the statue into the waters.

    The water receded from the shore impossibly fast, all of the vast ocean being drawn into a spiraling column. This column split in many places, revealing maws and unblinking black eyes. These strange, disjointed features swam across the water's surface, and resolved into a singular mouth and three pairs of eyes.

    Hypurr, the Ardor said to sleep at the bottom of the world-waters, stared down at her, as if it sensed her contempt. She stared back, defiant.

    The great wyrm began to come apart. As it returned to formlessness, the ocean came rushing back. Hilda tried to turn away, but her feet were rooted to the spot. She tried to cry out, but no sound came. Her own body, paralyzed.

    The waves bashed and battered her, water filled her lungs.

    Hilda awoke, drenched not in saltwater, but her own sweat. She took a shaky breath and sat up. The campfire had burned down nearly to embers. Royal lifted her head and looked in her direction briefly, then laid back down.

    It was the small hours of the night. Everyone else appeared to be slumbering deeply, so she stripped to her smallclothes and warmed herself by the dying fire.

    HILDA: (Gandry warned me to expect vivid dreams. I hadn't planned on drowning in my sleep.)

    She had strong opinions of Hypurr's devotees, sure. But she'd never considered the Ardor itself. Or any of the Ardor, really. What were they? Where did they come from?

    She pondered these questions for a moment, but the lack of truly restful sleep caught up with her, and before long, she crept back to her bedroll. The rest of the night, she didn't dream at all.

    It was around noon the next day when they met the travellers on the road, heading the other direction. A merchant caravan, guarded by a familiar face.


    Tia had seen her at Whitecloak once or twice. As practioners of the sword, she'd often sparred with Alexei, though she'd never ended up on any of the same jobs. She had a peculiar view of the world, and saw herself as some kind of champion. Tia had never been able to figure her out, but she was neither cunning nor duplicitous, which made the news all the more shocking.

    TIA: The emperor is dead?

    Portentia raised an eyebrow.

    PORTENTIA: Strange place to put the emphasis.
    TIA: Oh. I'm just surprised. What's the situation like in the palace?
    PORTENTIA: The prince is wasting no time preparing for his ascension. The imperial funeral proceedings are apparently not getting half the attention they should.
    HILDA: How is the fares the princess?
    PORTENTIA: Word is that she's sequestered herself in her grief. She's secluded herself in the Prayer Tower.
    GANDRY: I don't mean to interrupt, this is big news, but we've got to make up for lost time.
    PORTENTIA: Tracking quarry, are you? Must be a long-term job. I haven't seen you or Whisper at Whitecloak for a while. I miss crossing sword with him, to be perfectly honest.

    Tia contemplated. Portentia's strange way of seeing things could push her in either direction. If Tia told her nothing, it was likely that Durandal could paint them as rogues out to line their own pockets. But if she told her the truth, Portentia could just as easily see their actions as indefensible anyway. Unlike Stafford, it was unlikely her mind could be changed once set.

    There was no time to consult with the others, though. If she was going to say anything, it had to be now.

    What does she say?
    A. Try to convince her to join us by. Her soft spot for Alexei might make her sympathetic to the truth.
    B. Even if she won't join us, she could be a strong ally. She doesn't need to know the whole truth right now.
    C. It's too risky to convince her one way of the other, but she at least deserves to know about Durandal and Whitecloak.

    Free Actions
    +W. Purchase item(s) (specify)
    +Y. Use item(s) (specify)
    +Z. Start side quest (specify)

    Party | Inventory | Allies | Key Items | Quests (2) | Shop

    Delzhand on
  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    A. Alexei's been captured, a strong sword arm would improve our chances of rescuing him substantially.

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    A single vote has been cast. Can one person hold such sway over fate?
    TIA: Portentia, listen. About Whisper and me...

    TIA: Our real names are Alexei and Tia Margrave.
    PORTENTIA: Ah, secret names! An excellent way to hide your true identity. Are there dark forces pursuing you? An ancient curse?
    TIA: What? No. I mean, I don't think so. Also, maybe a little bit.

    Portentia stared. Tia fumbled for a way to explain the situation. It had been easy to explain it to Gandry, but Portentia was... different.

    TIA: Do you know why Whitecloak is so successful?
    PORTENTIA: Savvy command of resources? Strong leadership?
    TIA: Try unethical practices. Durandal is actually responsible for most of the attacks on caravans that don't pay for his services.
    PORTENTIA: So... he's a swindler? And I've been taking his coin?
    TIA: I'm sorry you had to find out like this.

    Portentia looked back towards the merchant caravan.

    PORTENTIA: We have to tell someone. The duke, perhaps? But I can't abandon my current charge. Wait? How do you know this?
    TIA: Slow down. The truth is...

    Better to keep it simple, Tia thought to herself.

    TIA: Alexei and I were manipulated into doing Durandal's dirty work. And because of that, Count Aldove has taken my brother. I'm trying to rescue him.
    PORTENTIA: Fiends! Scoundrels!

    Tia hoped she meant Aldove.

    PORTENTIA: I must needs finish my current quest. But when I have seen these merchants safely to Dooreyt, I would join you. I cannot sit by while a comrade is in danger. And then once we've rescued him, we can hold Durandal to account!

    Tia shook her head.

    TIA: I appreciate your... enthusiasm, but I can't wait. I'm heading to Moille and I don't know what Aldove will do with Alexei once he has him.
    PORTENTIA: Yes, yes, of course. I see. Yet I cannot leave these merchants defenseless.
    TIA: If your wagons are meant to be protected by Whitecloak, then there shouldn't be any risk to them to continue the journey alone.
    PORTENTIA: But I swore an oath to see them safely to their destination. They knew naught of Durandal's crime, they are but humble traders.

    Tia rubbed her temple, trying not to show exasperation.

    TIA: I understand. I would not, uh, have you break your oath. But perhaps once you arrive, you could tell them and anyone who would listen the truth about Whitecloak?
    PORTENTIA: You would have me rumor-monger? Why not simply confront Durandal directly?
    TIA: I don't know how many mercenaries know the truth. Alexei and I were not the only ones, but I have to assume many are still loyal to him. If you go right to Durandal alone, you probably won't see the light of day again.

    Portentia gripped her sword in its scabbard.

    PORTENTIA: On my blade, I will see justice done. I will complete my escort, and then I will see to it that no more travelers are taken advantage of by my former employer. I swear it.
    TIA: That's... great.
    PORTENTIA: When you have rescued your brother, and I have every faith that you will, come find me. Together we can work to restore virtue to the hard-working sellswords of the region!
    TIA: Thank you, Portentia. I put my trust in you.

    Portentia saluted and returned to the head of the caravan.

    HILDA: And just like that, she saw things your way?
    TIA: I may have glossed over several details for expediency. I just hope that I haven't given her just enough rope to hang herself. I'm afraid she might be unable to resist a crusade for justice.
    GANDRY: She sounds like a very interesting person.
    TIA: She's a good person at heart, just... not one for nuance. And perhaps too inspired by the heroic tales we all heard as children.

    A few moments passed. Royal padded up ahead of the group on silent paws, then returned to Gandry's side.

    GANDRY: We're approaching Yelwev Passage. If Portentia came through here earlier today, it's likely clear of bandits. It should be a safe place to spend the night. We can probably even get a full night's sleep, so long as we clear the area ahead of time.
    TIA: Clear the area?
    GANDRY: Yeah. Unfortunately, this region is known for a type of fungus called Chomoil. It's an ambulatory slime. It's slow, but...

    What unfortunate properties do these slimes have? Choose any many as you want, effects are cumulative (Base difficulty is 3)
    A. Digestive ichor (Difficulty +1, XP +25%)
    B. Explosive spore pods (Difficulty +2, XP + 50%)
    C. Asexual reproduction (Difficulty +3, XP + 75%)
    D. Noxious emissions (Difficulty +4, XP + 100%)

    Combat orders?

    Free Actions
    +W. Purchase item(s) (specify)
    +Y. Use item(s) (specify)
    +Z. Start side quest (specify)

    Party | Inventory | Allies | Key Items | Quests (2) | Shop

  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    A. Digestive ichor (Difficulty +1, XP +25%)
    B. Explosive spore pods (Difficulty +2, XP + 50%)
    C. Asexual reproduction (Difficulty +3, XP + 75%)
    D. Noxious emissions (Difficulty +4, XP + 100%)

    Difficultly SPIKE!!!

    Atma TECH!
    Gandry ATTACK!
    Hilda MOVE!


  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    C Filthy filthy mitosis. Right in public

    Atma tech
    Hilda move
    Gandry attack

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    Okay Serpents, that is a terrible idea and I'm tempted to run a non-canonical combat sim to explain why 😂

  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    Quick save.

  • TipharethTiphareth Registered User regular

    Atma tech
    Hilda Attack
    Tia Move

  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular

    Gandry Defend
    Hilda Move
    Atma Tech

  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    Delzhand wrote: »
    Okay Serpents, that is a terrible idea and I'm tempted to run a non-canonical combat sim to explain why 😂
    Hallucinogenic spores affect the minds of the party, causing the slimes to appear much more powerful than they actually are. Momentarily caught in the thrall of the spores, the party believes they attack...

    A, C. Acidic mitosis. Disgusting, but the baby oozes are oddly adorable. Before they spray you with acid anyway.

    Tia - Tech (Oozes don't like fire, right?)
    Hilda - Attack
    Gandry - Defend (Acidic oozes is no fight for a pupper)

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    see317 wrote: »
    (Acidic oozes is no fight for a pupper)

    That is a thoughtful point I hadn't considered. For protecting Royal, you have earned 1x Smoky Spices!

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    Delzhand wrote: »
    The numbers aren't outcomes, they're how many dice get rolled. It's always possible to roll 0 successes. Maybe I'll add that info to the display for next time.

    Due to a lack of foresight on my part, this has proven more challenging than expected. I'll devote some time to it this weekend.

    Here are Serpents' combat results. Let this be a lesson to you all on dangers of a difficulty 13 encounter!

    This is, of course, merely a warning. Actual combat results will be forthcoming.

  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    We almost had them.

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    The votes have been considered. A multi-choice vote like this can be interpreted a number of ways. For example, the average total vote is 5, which makes the encounter difficulty 8.

    Combat Log

    Okay, that didn't go so well. Perhaps a more charitable reading of the votes would be that the most commonly chosen item was C, making this only a difficulty 6.

    Combat Log

    Yikes. That was somehow even worse. Uh, perhaps the ease of travel has allowed the party to recover a generous amount of HP?

    Combat Log

    Yeesh. It looks like the party just can't catch a break. But, uh, you did go into the fight with low HP! I'm not exactly down for narrating the body horror that is 4 adults and a dog being dissolved by a replicating army of slimes, you'll have to forgive me.

    How do you want to proceed?
    A. A deus ex machina saves the party.
    B. Accept the result and start a new story at the current point in time.
    C. Reload from the last checkpoint and use some damn healing items before the fight.
    D. Start a new game from the beginning with new characters.
    E. Reload from any previous point in the story.

    If E is the winning vote, make a case for where you want to start over from. Perhaps you want to see if you can prevent Alexei from being captured? Or take a different path out of Moldaba? Or even choose different mercenary party members in Runo?

    No matter which option you choose, the updated game mechanics will remain in place, though A Postal Time may not be unlocked immediately.

  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    Does Defend heal?

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    It depends on what action it opposes and how many successes are rolled. I can debug the engine to inspect successes if there's a roll you want to investigate.

  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    edited August 2021
    So long as it does.
    And we use some defend actions this time -_-
    There were two of five of us who had defend, and I didn't get to take actions in any of those battle sequences.

    discrider on
  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    edited August 2021
    Yeah the action order uses seeded randomization, and the seed is an array of the provided instructions, in the order they were posted, so even though I ran a few variations, the player order will always be the same.

    Normally that wouldn't matter because I wouldn't be running variations, but I wanted to see if there was any timeline where the party survived.

    Edit: this means that if you choose option C, you can choose new combat actions - all it takes is one person to change and it'll be a new random seed.

    Also, don't forget you can buy Heals from the shop, which restore all HP to a character. And that you already have one in inventory.

    Delzhand on
  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    C. Once again, with additional belts!
    Hoarding of healing items and restoring from the last save point after eating it are both time honored traditions of the JRPG genre.

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    Halt the vote!

    The fates have discovered errors in the laws that govern the universe. Please stand by while the universe is restarted.

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    edited August 2021

    Reinitializing last combat...

    Results obtained. Results differ.

    Combat Log

    The party was victorious! For initiating a system review, 1x Pressed Leaf has been awarded to @discrider.

    The enemy dropped 1x Feline Carving during @Tiphareth's turn!

    Atma leveled up! Move increased to 5.
    Hilda leveled up! Tech increased to 4.

    Free Actions
    +W. Purchase item(s) (specify)
    +Y. Use item(s) (specify)
    +Z. Start side quest (specify)

    Party | Inventory | Allies | Key Items | Quests (2) | Shop

    The story will resume shortly.

    Delzhand on
  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    I see we have established four failed timelines…

    Sure would be a shame if they held a grudge against God for ensuring one timeline prevailed.

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    edited August 2021
    Clearing one of the Yelwev Passage's alcoves of enough fungus to secure a night's respite had proved more challenging than expected, and the party's morale was low as the exited the tunnel onto the Mnime Plateau. The great city of Moille was visible in the distance, no more than a few hours away. It's high city wall met a cliff face on one side, the other wrapped around the city out of sight. The terraced city itself climbed above that wall in broken steps.

    Tia rubbed her neck. She'd slept poorly, and even though the mageblessing had made her curse more manageable, she still felt a familiar prickling along her fingers. Perhaps Opta's formula had been wrong, or perhaps the apothecary's alembic faulty. Or maybe it was all in her head. She thought about silverleaf oil, and Ophelia. That relationship was probably unsalvageable. She hadn't written the girl a single word since they last parted.

    The noise in the city's lower district was near deafening. Every square inch of the streets Tia had seen so far had been packed with merchants hawking their meager wares, beggars seeking charity, or unsupervised children. For these people, Moille's lowest class citizens, imperial credit was worth little, only hard coin would be accepted.

    A young man stumbled into Tia, knocking her sideways and jangling her last nerve. She seized him by the tunic, gave him a hard stare, and shoved him away. He swore at her as he merged back into the crowd.

    Gandry and Hilda exchanged an uneasy glance.

    Gandry had only been able to secure a single tiny inn room, and only for one night. He'd hung a spare bedsheet from a rafter to give the women some privacy, and then quickly fallen asleep. Hilda had marveled at how quickly he'd been able to do so, and then went to the tavern downstairs in search of a nightcap.

    Tia and Atma remained behind.

    ATMA: Big city like this remind me of Bleda... Many people. But also different. In Bleda, everyone same, uh...

    She gestured at her face and arms. Tia rolled over in her cot and looked at her.

    TIA: Ethnicity? You were all Bledan?
    ATMA: Yes. Foreigner can visit, but not allowed to stay long.
    TIA: Mm.
    ATMA: Elders say Bledan one people, but mother and father not have other children. Had many friend, but not same.

    Tia rolled on to her back and started at the ceiling.

    ATMA: People who take Alexei, they in city, yes?
    TIA: I hope so.
    ATMA: Alexei and Tia both strong, both smart. I chained in Bleda for many year, no brother or sister come to help. Alexei have you.
    TIA: Atma?
    ATMA: Yes?
    TIA: Go to sleep.

    Atma sighed and rolled over.

    Tia snuffed the candle on the table between cots. The odor of the smoking wick remained for a moment and then faded.

    The gentle glow of morning filtered into the room through the wooden window slats. Tia sat up and rubbed her eyes. Something tumbled off her pillow and she shifted her weight. It was a scrap of parchment, folded neatly in half, with "good news" written on it in sloppy, shaky handwriting. She unfolded it.

    Aldove summoned to capital for coronation. Heard a loud-mouthed redhead made a big fuss yesterday complaining about not getting paid until he gets back, even though they delivered their captive to his manor. Alexei alive!


    Tia almost wept. There was still time. She looked over at Hilda, who was sleeping, improbably, with three limbs hanging off the cot, her blanket askew and twisted, snoring with her mouth wide open.

    Tia dressed quickly and peeked around the curtain, Gandry and Royal had apparently already awoken and gone out. There was a scrap of paper on Gandry's pillow as well. Tia picked it up - had Hilda left the same information for him?

    Again? H

    She shrugged mentally and returned the note. She unlocked the room door and glanced over her shoulder. She should apologize to Atma when she woke up. For now though, it was time to strategize, and she wasn't about to do it before breakfast.

    First order of business?
    A. Find out as much as possible about Aldove's manor. Location, inhabitants, etc.
    B. Seek information on Aldove himself - allies, enemies, who he has influence over.
    C. Make your way into the wealthier districts. Likely greater risk and reward in terms of info.
    X. ________

    What's for lunch?
    1. Pork and Lentil Stew (Max HP increase d25)
    2. Roasted Herb Corn Wraps (Max HP increase d10+10)
    3. Spinach and Leek Risotto (Max HP increase 10, XP +30)
    4. Egg Fried Rice (Max HP increase 15, restore 30% HP)

    Free Actions
    +W. Purchase item(s) (specify)
    +Y. Use item(s) (specify)
    +Z. Start side quest (specify)

    Party | Inventory | Allies | Key Items | Quests (2) | Shop

    Delzhand on
  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    Continue to vote. This is merely an interlude.
    The woman pressed her ear to the heavy oaken door. The shouts and cries were closer now. She stepped back, her face betraying no particular emotion. Her handmaiden looked on anxiously.

    The room was a curious mix of austere and refined. There were few furnishings, but those that were present were of the highest quality. A simple, armless, straight backed chair by the window - carved from a single piece of wood and coated in slick black lacquer. The curtains, plain white but heavy, expertly woven silk. The walls, undecorated but painted in a lapis blue ombre that only the most talented artisan could achieve.

    A pained cry came from the hallway. The handmaiden stiffened.

    HIGHBORN WOMAN: Calm thyself. We are quite safe. Our protections will hold.
    HANDMAIDEN: As you say, m'lady.

    The highborn woman returned to the window, and her handmaiden hurried over, parting the curtain and tying the holdback so that her lady could view the scene below. The harsh daylight, once diffused by the drapes, now cast a piercing shaft into the room.

    HIGHBORN WOMAN: How do you think historians will view this day in a hundred years?
    HANDMAIDEN: I... I couldn't say, m'lady.

    The lady looked at her handmaiden. Though they were both young, the handmaiden seemed almost girlish next to her lady, whose stoic poise belied her youth.

    A knock came from the door, drawing both of their attentions.

    VOICE: You can unbar the door. It's all over.

    The highborn woman went to the only other piece of furniture in the room, a small round table holding a garnet studded chest two hands wide and long. From her spot by the window, the handmaiden could not see her lady open it, but she heard it click closed.

    HIGHBORN WOMAN: I should think that once we leave this place, we will never see it again.
    HANDMAIDEN: ...Are you sure we can trust him?

    Her lady gave her a withering glare, and she felt as if she was being scoured like a dirty dish.

    HANDMAIDEN: I didn't mean to question... your...
    HIGHBORN WOMAN: Test not my patience, and question not my judgment. Not today. You've served me loyally, and the last thing I need right now is to find a replacement on short notice.

    The alarum bells tolled again, and soldiers raced through the halls, securing every passageway. A stern-faced commander barked commands over the din of clanking armor thudding footsteps. The assassins had been located and slain, but what would happen now?

  • discriderdiscrider Registered User regular
    edited August 2021
    B A (who cares about Aldove we're breaking Alexi out) 2
    Full heal on Hilda and Tia, buying one and leaving 2 post tokens
    Tia mails the Pressed Leaf to Ophelia

    discrider on
  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    discrider wrote: »
    B A (who cares about Aldove we're breaking Alexi out) 2
    Full heal on Hilda and Tia, buying one and leaving 2 post tokens
    Tia mails the Pressed Leaf to Ophelia

    I agree with this discrider!

  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    edited August 2021
    discrider wrote: »
    B A (who cares about Aldove we're breaking Alexi out) 2
    Full heal on Hilda and Tia, buying one and leaving 2 post tokens
    Tia mails the Pressed Leaf to Ophelia

    I agree with this discrider!

    I agree with these endless serpents

    Just... so many serpents.

    see317 on
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    discrider wrote: »
    B A (who cares about Aldove we're breaking Alexi out) 2
    Full heal on Hilda and Tia, buying one and leaving 2 post tokens
    Tia mails the Pressed Leaf to Ophelia

    I'm in in this course of action

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    I forgot to do this on entering the city, but 6 parcels were delivered to Moille's postal depot, earning 6 PostTokens!

    Tia's Max HP increased by 18!
    Gandry's Max HP increased by 12!
    Hilda's Max HP increased by 14!
    Atma's Max HP increased by 11!

    The party purchased a Heal for 2 PostTokens.

    Tia recovered all HP!
    Hilda recovered all HP!

    Ophelia's loyalty increased to 8... maybe...

    Party | Inventory | Allies | Key Items | Quests (2) | Shop

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    "I'm sorry, I should have written sooner, but circumstances haven't really permitted it recently. That probably sounds like an excuse. The truth is, I've gotten involved in some awful dealings, and the less you know the better. That said, I'm about to do something incredibly reckless and dangerous, and if I perish, I don't want the one person I've shared my heart with to know only a lie. My real name is Tia Margrave, and I hope that when this is all over, I still have a future with you.

    There's something else. I'm enclosing a recipe and some seeds for a plant used in the recipe. It greatly reduces the effect of mage blight. I can't tell you anything about what kind of soil, water, or light it needs, but if anyone can figure it out, it's you.

    There's also a pressed leaf enclosed. That one is just a gift, nothing magical about it. When I found it, it made me think of you.

    Tia stopped writing. How should she sign the letter? "Love, Tia"? She'd never confessed love to Ophelia before. "Regards, Tia"? Ugh. She frowned.

    TIA: (Might be the last chance to do this.)

    She put quill to parchment.

    Love, Tia

    Tia stared at the words. She thought she might feel something more, like a weight lifting from her shoulders. Instead she felt only anxiety.

    The postal clerk tapped his foot impatiently.

    Tia quickly folded the letter, dropped in the recipe, seeds, and pressed leaf, and handed it to the clerk. It was up to the fates now.

  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    Tia gained the status In Love.

    Side quest added: Forge her beau a sword, as is tradition.

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    GANDRY: I went to the butcher to get a bone for Royal and I found out something that might be useful. He makes a delivery of food for Aldove's hounds every 3 days. He says Aldove has eight Bergen Sheperds guarding the rear entrance, but that they're all bark and no bite if you've got meat.
    TIA: Do you think that's true if they smell Royal?
    GANDRY: Hard to say. Just passing along what I heard.
    TIA: Well, it's an option worth considering.
    HILDA: There might be another way. There's a system the upper city uses to dispose of its wastewater. Aldove's manor is almost certainly connected.
    TIA: Is it accessible?
    HILDA: Gaining access won't be hard, but navigating it might. It runs under the city streets, but I don't know how it connects to the upper district where the wealthiest citizens live.
    TIA: I suppose we could also just storm the front gates, but we'll have to fight our way through more guards. I'm willing to pull out all the stops as far as magic goes, but it's probably the riskiest option.

    Sorry for the short post, but Aldove's Manor is going to be the final dungeon of this chapter of the story. It's going to have some custom mechanics that I'm still working on, and after it's complete, I'm going to take a bit of a break to organize my thoughts and think about where the story can go from here. We started this story with basically no lore, and by now there's definitely a country starting to take shape.

    How will the party approach Aldove's Manor?
    A. Attempt to gain access via the back entrance
    B. Sneak into the basement through the sewers
    C. Fight your way in through the front entrance

  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    A. Bring meat to make friends with additional puppers.

  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    A. Avoid the sewer level at all costs!

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    edited August 2021
    The ascent to the upper district involved climbing the Central Stair, a towering structure that rose out of the middle part of the lower district. It was called the Central Stair, but in truth it was more than stairs. It was a road, and along either side was a system of gates and platforms similar to a lock and dam, designed to assist in the transport of carts and animals who would be a danger on the steep slope. Above the slope hung the taut cables of a gondola, allowing the wealthy to descend the lower city without being subjected to the sights and smells of the common folk.

    There were guards posted at every landing, and tall brass lamps kept the stair lit even in the dark of night, though they were currently off. The stair teemed with people at this afternoon hour. One class of people that were conspicuously absent were beggars. No doubt the nobility had instructed the guards to keep the stair clear of society's refuse.

    The guards, for the most part, simply stood and observed the passage of the citizens, leaned on their spears, or conversed with them casually. This was clearly not a demanding post.

    The arrived at the stair's summit, a wide open plaza with well maintained roads branching off to the northeast and northwest, lined with clean, modern looking buildings. The roads bracketed a fenced in park thick with trees and flowers, and inside the fence clear water streamed through alabaster channels, filling limpid pools. A pair of waterfowl with long necks and deep violet plumage swam placidly in one such basin. A hedge blocked off the public's view, but above the garden, far in the distance, was Aldove's Manor.

    The guards at the gate of the garden were unlike the stair guards in nearly every respect. The stood, stock still, in ornate armor trimmed with gold. Full helmets enclosed their facets, topped with vibrant blue crests. They bore tall shields and gleaming spears. They were clearly not to be trifled with.

    Hilda turned to look back out over the city.

    HILDA: I knew that the wealthy enjoyed a higher standard of living, but I had no idea the gulf between the common and the nobility was so immense...
    GANDRY: This is definitely decadence of the highest order. In the capital there's less room to expand. They build up, not out. There's no room for gardens. You see more cut and polished stone than precious metal, too. On the outside, at least. I'm sure gold and jewels abound inside, no matter what city the nobility call home.
    TIA: Well, we're about to find out.

    They followed the northeast road. It was a market street, but very different than what passed for a market elsewhere. The buildings rose up several stories. At the street level were shops and stores, but instead of wooden stalls and colored awnings, these were permanent, dedicated spaces, with etched metal signs and painted walls, and the goods were something else entirely. Bolts of rich silk, jewelry of incredibly fine detail, tomes freshly printed with gold leaf covers. Nowhere was there meat or vegetables, grain or milk. Instead citizens sat at open-air tables, dining on dishes Tia had never seen, while servers ferried food and orders into the cookhouses. It was as if the gentry could not be bothered to prepare their own meals at all.

    It took nearly two hours of walking, finding themselves in alleys or dead ends, and retracing their steps, but eventually they found themselves in the neighborhood closest to the rear quarters of Aldove's grounds. The gatehouse used by the house staff and deliveries opened to the city here. It was, to be sure, more mundane and somewhat noisier than the front-facing parts of the upper district - even the wealthy employed the working classes, and it was better that they kept to themselves.

    Tia secured lodgings, and the group gathered in her room to discuss the plan.

    TIA: Our first objective is to gain entry to the manor. Unfortunately, I don't think I can do this alone.
    HILDA: I may not be much use in close quarters.
    TIA: Well, we ought to make every effort to avoid fighting, if possible. This is a rescue mission, not a frontal assault.
    GANDRY: That doesn't mean there won't be fighting.
    TIA: I know. The big problem once we're inside, is that we don't know where Alexei is being held. Maybe Aldove has a dungeon, maybe he's just locked in some room with guards posted. The manor is huge. If we split up, there's a greater chance of finding him quickly, but also a greater risk that one of us gets caught.
    HILDA: How are we going to deal with the house staff?
    ATMA: Set fire to part of house, scare away?
    GANDRY: That might work, but a lot of smoke will make it harder to Royal to scent out Alexei.
    HILDA: We could just bash their heads in, but these are just working class people. We may just be able to intimidate them.

    What's the plan? What hasn't the party considered?
    X. __________________

    The party has a tentative plan to gain access to the manor grounds, but what happens once inside? No voting options on this one, just open discussion!

    Delzhand on
  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    edited September 2021
    Edit: this was once preliminary dungeon rules. Replaced by actual dungeon rules in a later post.

    Delzhand on
  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    Small Chamber

  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    edited September 2021
    Tia led the party, staring up at the looming manor house as they approached. Aldove's hounds had been placated by copious amounts of fresh steaks. Royal seemed somewhat jealous, but nevertheless stood still at Gandry's side. Hilda tightened her bracers. Atma's hair billowed around her, despite the still air everywhere else.

    Alexei was somewhere inside this building. Tia pulled astra from the air, hands shimmering with heat. If there was a time for restraint, this wasn't it.

    This is the final dungeon of the chapter. Who's ready to get architectural?

    Dungeon Participation
    Select 3 of rooms from the following list of types. Duplicates are okay. Each player's set of rooms will be appended in a random order to form the dungeon. The party progresses through the rooms in order, and each room affects either the party, the dungeon, or the boss.

    Room Types
    Small Chamber (2.5 mins)
    85% chance (Party HP -1, Party Bonus +1) - weak enemy encounter
    or 15% chance (Party HP -2, Party Bonus -1) - dangerous enemy encounter

    Large Chamber (5 mins)
    50% chance of (Party HP -2, Party Bonus +1) - even enemy encounter
    or 50% chance (Keys +1)

    Rest Stop (2.5 mins)
    100% chance (Party HP +2)

    Side Room (1.5-6 mins)
    50% chance (Gain random inventory item, excluding loyalty items)
    or 25% chance (Keys +1)
    or 25% chance (Enemy HP +1)

    Hallway (1 min)
    100% chance (Enemy HP +1)

    Vault (5 mins)
    100% chance (Keys +1)
    AND 20% chance (Gain random inventory item, excluding loyalty items)

    Dungeon System Details
    The random seed for anything related to dungeon generation (room order, locked doors, placement of boss and ??? chambers) will be fixed, so the dungeon can be re-attempted with prior knowledge if it results in failure. Individual room outcomes will be seeded by other means.

    If there aren't enough forum posts to fill the dungeon, rooms will be chosen randomly.
    Party HP
    The party begins at full HP. Certain rooms will deplete or restore HP (cannot exceed starting value). If this value reaches 0, the dungeon is failed. There's a save crystal before the final boss that will restore all HP.

    Morale Bonus
    Winning certain battles increases your morale - this number is added to or subtracted from all combat rolls in the boss fight.

    Enemy HP
    While you're exploring, the boss of the dungeon gets stronger.

    A key must be located for every locked door. Starting with the 5th room, there is a 15% chance that a key will be required to enter the room. If the party has no keys they will need to backtrack, which takes time and risks encounters. Once unlocked a door will always remain unlocked, even while backtracking.

    Each room decreases time by a certain value. If time reaches 0, the dungeon is failed.

    Special Room Types

    Save Crystal
    This room always appears before the boss and always requires a key. All HP is restored before the boss and the party can access the inventory/shop before the fight.

    Boss Chamber
    The boss chamber is a regular combat encounter, modified by the dungeon properties at the time of the fight. Inserted randomly between the 18th and 28th room.

    Midboss Chamber
    Fighting the midboss, if it appears, takes 6 mins. (Party HP -3, Party Bonus +1)

    Trap Room
    The party is delayed! (5 mins, Enemy HP +2, Morale -1)

    The party finds a safe place to rest (3.5 mins, Party HP +4)

    Chaos Room
    Inserted every 7 rooms. Randomly selected from the list of regular rooms, midboss chamber, trap room, and sanctuary.

    Contribute to the layout of Aldove's Manor. Choose 3. Mind the time limit, which is 75 minutes.
    A. Small Chamber
    B. Large Chamber
    C. Rest stop
    D. Side room
    E. Hallway
    F. Vault

    Free Actions
    +W. Purchase item(s) (specify)
    +Y. Use item(s) (specify)
    +Z. Start side quest (specify)

    Party | Inventory | Allies | Key Items | Quests (2) | Shop

    Delzhand on
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