[4e] [IC] Keep on the Shadowfell with Essentials

OOC:  Obligatory inn scene

You stopped at the Fair Maiden Inn for the night.  There's a tavern on the first floor and rooms on the second floor.  The barkeep is a portly gnome by the name of Gander, a retired Illusionist.  There's 3 serving maids, a female dwarf (Lucinda), a female half-orc (Beaut), and an elderly female goblin (Granny).  The tavern is half full when you arrive.  You can see that it can seat about 50 patrons.  There's a fireplace on one wall (unlit) and the bar on the opposite wall.  A staircase leads up to the upper floor in the back.  There's a doorway behind the bar leading to the kitchen.  On the wall beside the front door is a poster board with various wanted posters and other notices.

Notice 1:
Wife looking for husband named Douven Staul.  Last seen heading west to check out a dragon's burial place.  No reward other than thanks and a fine home-cooked meal.

Notice 2:
Parle Cranewing wants to hire adventures to map out an old keep nearby Winterhaven.  See him for more details.  Total reward:  250 gp for the group.

Notice 3:
Marla of the Great Church of Pelor is looking for adventurers to root out a cult.  See her for more details.  Total reward:  250 gp for the group.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Immerul silently examines the posters, then makes his way to the corner of the tavern, ordering only a light meal and water. He brings out a book from his pack seems oblivious to anything occuring around him.
Lucinda comes over to Immerul's table and asks as sweetly as she can with a voice that seems gruffer than a male dwarf, "Hi ya sweetie.  What do you want me to put in front of you today?  Our special today is creamed corn soup and owlbear steak.  For drinks we have the normal fair, but I do suggest our hybrid specialty, rot gut honey mead.  It tastes better than it sounds.  Gander is not very imaginative for naming things he creates.

Will you be expecting any friends?  If so, I can wait and bring out your order later.

Fair Maiden, indeed.  This place would be better called the Unfair Maiden (followed by laughter).  (You overhear this from the next table with a couple of teenage miscreants.)

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Immerul slowly sets his book on the table, then looks up at Lucinda. His face is shadowed by his hood, giving him a rather sinister appearance. Judging by his appearance and manner, the serving woman half expects him to utter some sort of dark curse upon her. His voice is like sheets of dry parchment rubbing against each other.

"I am expecting some...associates, yes, but you may bring me my meal when it is ready. I will have the corn soup and glass of fresh water. But before you go, tell me: What do you know of that Parle Cranewing fellow?"
That Cranewing dude?  Let me see...  Oh, yeah.  He's a scholar that hires adventures to explore abandoned ruins.  He seems to be ok.  He does come in here once in a while to have a meal.  Maybe you could catch him then, otherwise you'll have to go to his home.  The latest ad is up on the board over there. nodding in the direction of the wanted ads.  Will bring your order out in a few minutes.  Be right back.  Lucinda turns around quickly and her fair haired beard has a hard time keeping up, but keeping up it does because it doesn't have a choice since it's firmly attached to her chin.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Gyrdain enters the inn, heavily cloaked and wrapped in bandages. He approaches the counter and requests a room and then stands by the posting board examining its meager collection of tasks.
A figure the size of a dwarf, yet thinner, enters the inn wearing a dark cloak.  The cloak's hood pulled up and from the shade of the hood spills a thick beards of dull brown hair.  The figure's hand moves up to a holy symbol of a raven.  He grasps it and pauses, then turns towards Immerul.  The figure walks towards Immerul's table then stops, "You are expecting me." He says, then he sits.  "I am..." he tilts his head as if listing to something, "Dredge."
Cabor slips through the door just behind Dredge [OOC: Stealth 14+4=18]. He mills about the tavern for a few moments - generally trying to avoid tripping anyone that hasn't looked down enough to notice him. He grabs a stool from one of the tables near the entrance and drags it over to the posting board - oblivious to the statement from Dredge to [Immurel]. The Halfling positions the stool next to Gyrdain and climbs up to get a better look at the posted notices. Glancing at Grydain with a broad smile, Cador notices some of the bandages covering the figure. Failing to disguise his shock and concern at the unusual garb, Cabor's broad smile morphs into a suprised and confused lopsided grin. He climbs down off of the stool and pointedly walks toward the bar unsure if it's safe to be around the unusual figure.

[edit to correct a character name]
For a moment, Immurel looks quite annoyed at yet another interruption to his reading, then he seems to recognize the newcomer. He closes his book, a bronze latch locking shut the untitled tome.

"Ah, yes. I was wondering when you would arrive. I believe that there are more coming soon. It is best to wait."

Rolen walks casually into the tavern with his bear companion following and looks at the notices.
Cults aren't any good. Can't have that now can we? he comments to himself.
The half-elf then walks over to Immurel's table and sits down, with his bear next to him--surprisingly well-behaved. Greetings.
About this time Lucinda comes up with Immerul's meal and places it down before him, making sure to do so on the side opposite of the bear.  Looks like your friends are here.  Turning to Dredge & Rolen, What would you like.  Today's special is creamed corn soup and owlbear steak.  The drink of the day is rot gut honey mead.

Before anybody else can place their orders, Granny (the elderly goblin maid) walks up to the bear and examines it closely.  She then yells over to Gander as loud as her whispery voice allows, Have we bear meat on menu lately?

No, Granny.  That bear is not for eating.  Just be glad that you are too old and tough for that bear to eat you. Gander responds.

Granny looks a little disappointed and walks back to the tables assigned to her.

Never mind Granny.  She's a little "off" if you know what I mean.  But she's a good waitress.  Now, what'll it be?

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Dredge turns to the waitress and sighs, "Bread and water is all I need, thank you."
"Gander is wise, you might want to listen to him," Rolen says to Granny.
To Lucinda, "I'm fine, but my bear might want one of those steaks, thank you."
After the halfling gets settled on one of the barstools he likes (a couple of them include built in ladders for the "small" folk) Gander asks What's your danger?  The special today is rot gut honey mead.  Other than that we have the usual fair.  Obviously "What's your danger" means what do you want to drink.

Beaut (the half-orc maiden) hovers nearby the wanted board to see where the new arrival is going to sit.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Gyrdian chuckles at the halflings reaction. He coughs a bit when he notices the half-orc watching him, then turns to survey the room. After spotting the party, he turns to the barmaid and says Thank you for your concern cough cough wheeze but I don't think my stomach can handle anything at the moment. He chuckles weakly. He heads towards the group and most of the patrons that notice him give him a wide berth. He picks a seat a respectful distance from the group and sits down facing them, with an obvious interest in their meeting, but no words of introduction.

Beaut looks disappointed that the stranger is not going over to one of her tables and goes on her way when she notices another table waving for her attention.

After Gyrdian seats himself and before Lucinda leaves, she puts the same request to him for food.  She doesn't seem to be put off by his appearance at all.  Just raises an eyebrow.

Granny takes notice of the new arrival and comes back over.  She asks Gyrdian Are you a mummy?  You dressed like one.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Recomposing himself momentarily, Cador looks around the inn and becomes a bit frustrated, "Rot Gut sounds good enough to me".

After briefly examining the other patrons in the room again he turns back to Gander and sighs, "Can you believe it? My kinsman tells me that if I journey to this inn I can meet up with a group of fellows that are looking to find some excitement and make a name for themselves.

Before Gander can reply or head off to get Cador’s drink the Halfling adds loudly with frustrated gestures, “He, my friend that is, tells me, ‘Go to the Fair Maiden and keep an eye out for a patron with a beer’."

A beer! Can you believe it? I headed out on to the trail so quickly that it didn’t occur to me that most folks in an inn are likely to have a beer!

Cador shakes his head and tries to wait patiently for his drink.

Gander's eyes haze over for a moment. My dear sir.  I think he said, keep an eye out for a patron with a bear, not a beer.  Gander then comes back to himself and goes on as if nothing happened.  Here's your drink.  That'll be 1 silver.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Gyrdian waves away Lucinda much the same as he did with Beaut. Thank you but no, I'm not currently well enough for a meal. I've come for a room and for perhaps for a good story. He wheezes as he nods towards the odd grouping of individuals at the nearby table.

He rasps out a chuckle as Granny approaches and asks her question. Old one, with this disease, I'm not certain what I am any more... Perhaps it is something akin to mummy rot. He shrugs weakly and then doubles over as a fit of coughing takes him.

Lucinda just nods and leaves to place everybody's orders.  Granny still stays.  Is that a disease?  I know diseases.  Let me cure you.  Granny now goes into some weird funny little dance that has more of a chance of summoning the bartender than to cure any disease you've heard of.

As if on cue Gander walks over once the dance is done and taps Granny on the shoulder.  I now claim you cured...  Looking to see who tapped her on the shoulder May Grumsh see out of both eyes, it looks like I did the Gander dance again. sounding disappointed.

Granny, get back to waiting on your tables, or you won't get your favorite chew today.  Gander gives Gyrdian a private wink as if he knows more than he's letting on, then troddles back to the bar.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Immerul examines each of the newcomers, wrinkling his nose at the bear but not making a comment. Finally, he steeples his hands in front of him and speaks.

"It appears that everyone has arrived. Good. I will keep this short. I require funds to continue my studies. I am sure each of you has your own reason for coming. I have examined the available notices, and believe that the Cranewing fellow is offering the best employment. We must simply map out an old keep, and oftentimes there are old artifacts buried in such places, so that is an additional draw. We will be working together; this does not make us friends, merely associates. I have drawn up this contract specifying that each member will work towards our common goal without taking any actions that might compromise or otherwise harm our collaborative."

The Eladrin pulls out a piece of parchment and unrolls it onto the table. It is filled with legalistic text. He pulls out a pen, and a bottle of ink, and signs his name at the bottom, then looks to the others at the table, his black eyes seeming to bore into you.

"Oh, and to violate the terms of the contract is to forfeit your share of anything we find, your final payment...and, depending on the severity of the violation, possibly your life. The contract contains the details."

Cador looks sheepish as he places a gold piece on the bar to cover his drink and hopefully his pride, "Humor me if you can. Let's keep this little misunderstanding between just us."

The Halfling heads over to the gathering of adventures and positions himself at the table directly opposite of Gyrdian, still concerned about catching whatever disease afflicts the figure, “Count me in.

Cador scans the document checking it over to make sure that nothing nefarious or otherwise unfair is hidden in it [OOC Insight: 2]. Satisfied that everything is ship shape; he grabs the pen and signs the document with his full name in artful flowing script.

Dredge pulls one of the contracts towards himself.  He places his hand over the paper, closes his eyes and mumbles.  After a minute he picks up a pen and marks an sloppy X down where his name should go and then passes the paper back to Immerul.

Why is it so hard to write? I remember... I think I remember... it being easier.
he thinks.

Gander looks extremely puzzled by the halfling's last comment.  (OOC: Tony.  Let's assume you rolled a nat 20 for insight check.)  He shrugs his shoulders and goes back to cleaning a beer stein for the umpteenth time.  You have the sneaking suspician that somebody or something is watching but for neither good nor bad intent, just watching.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

"Not the notice I was looking at, but they're all good causes."
Rolen then signs the document.

Gyrdian accepts the document and looks it over. Then hands it back unsigned. He wheezes, I'll agree to your terms, vague though they are. Who gets to determine what actions "might" hinder, harm or compromise our collective task? It seems rather a harsh sentence to pass with no recognizable judge to give the verdict. I've no interest in sabatoging your efforts, and if I did something to that effect, you are more than capable of passing verdict and sentence on me amongst yourselves. *cough cough cough* I am in no condition to stop you, after all. However, I see little that a sheef of papyrus would do to adjucate or change that. You'll find that my allegiance and my honor is in my words and actions, not in a scroll, no matter how well written. Accept me at my word or not, the choice is yours... Gyrdian leans back in his chair "breathing" heavily.

Lucinda wanders up with everybody's orders.  Here you go.  I couldn't help but overhear your problem.  Gander could help out with that contract.  He's been in several groups over the years.  I'll go get him.  Oh, the meals altogether will be 2 gold for the whole kit and kaboodle.

Gander eventually comes over.  Can I see that contract?  Thanks.  He sits down and begins reading it.  Mr. Bandages has it right.  Even though this contract is well written, there's a few problems with it.  One:  Even this bear could sign it and become a full party member.  I can correct that very easily.  Two:  Even though it isn't blattantly stated, but through wording that was left out, gives the judge & jury duties to the contract originator.  Again an easy fix.  Now looking at Gyrdian.  Contracts are a necessary evil when it comes to divvying up each person's share of loot.  Without a contract, there's no guarantee that you'll see any loot except what you take for yourself.  However, doing that could get you kicked out sooner than having a fair "trial" (for the lack of a better word) by the conditions of a contract.  I'll be right back.

OOC:  I'll let you discuss what Gander has proposed while he is gone.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Immerul looks quite annoyed at Gander's intrusion, but sighs and hands him the paper.

"I suppose we can give the callaboritive itself majority voting as far as contract violations go, although that just tends to cause deadlock."

He looks at Gyrdain.

"The written contract is the basis for a civilized society. Without a binding agreement, civilization tends to devolve towards chaos. The contract will give us a framework for working together, and by signing it your are recognizing your willingness to follow the intent of the document and recognize the repercussions for violation. Now, I'm sure you are a fine and honorable...man, but your 'word', along with a gold piece will buy a meal. Your signature, however, has legal value and is binding."

Rolen waits to see what happens next. Whether it be a new'revised contract or something else.
Gyrdian's eyes grow rather somber. Well, We'll see about the signature once Gander returns. *coughcough* Personally, I prefer to deal with civilized people, rather than with a civilized "society," *wheeze* there seems to be less paperwork that way. As for your "legal value," well, I'm  certain that works well enough for the cities... *pause for breath* things in the frontier are a bit less structured. But, that is not the true issue. Perhaps in time, you will find that a good word will buy far more than a simple gold piece. *coughcough* Loyalty for one thing, is something gold can never truely purchase.
Dredge locks eyes with Immerul, "We should begin our mission.  How do we notify Cranewing of our acceptance?"
Gander finally comes back after about a half hour. This should do it.  I made very few changes.  I added wording so that animal companions, familiars and the like do not need to sign.  However, they get their share of the treasure from the party member that summoned them.  I also added wording so that any hirelings or henchmen require a separate contract.  Next, the division of treasure.  I modelled this after one of my own contracts with a previous group.  First, all monetary treasure is to be divided as evenly as possible.  If it cannot be divided, the remainder goes into a party fund to be broken down later unless a party member has an objection.  In that case the party member could "buy" the item using his own funds.  For example, you find 700 gp and 2 rubies worth 100 gp each.  One party member could "buy" one of the rubies using 100 gp of his own funds.  That makes 800 gp and 1 ruby.  The 800 gp is divided and the last ruby is put into the general party fund.  Magical treasure is to be divided on a case-by-case basis by party consensus.  Some magical treasure will be obvious to who could use it the best.  Others will require a party decision.  Still others will be of no use at all and will go into the general party fund.  Last thing gives voting rights to all signed party members.  I've left it open for you to decide what happens to ties.

Gyrdian, my friend.  By signing this you are not giving up your freedoms.  You are guaranteeing the party is bound by the provisions of the contract.  By not signing, you cannot guarantee that the others will be so bound.  Plus, by not signing, you guarantee that you have no share of the treasure that's found.

Now, if I remember, in one of the groups I was in, we had one person that objected to signing contracts for religious reasons.  He also said that his loyalty was without question.  We thought, at that time, it was all right because one of the other party members vouched for him.  Found out later what his religion really was...
  Granny comes up and tugs on Gander's pants. I think some customers are leaving without paying.

Heh, what?  Come back you sons of a rabid squirrel and an owlbear.  Gander chases after them while casting an illusion of some guardsmen entering the inn.  Granny says, Tale takes 3 days to tell.  I doubt you have time.  Mr. Skolar's address is on notice.

OOC:  I provided a simple framework for a contract.  I'll let you guys hash out the actual details.  This can be done OOC though PMing.  Once you are done and the contract is finalized, you can post it in the OOC thread. Or not as the case may be.  It was a great role-playing opportunity in any case.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Cabor's eyes glaze over with all of the legal ramblings. Under his breath he mutters, "I think I prefer my societies with a bit less civility and a bit more... trusting."

Still grinning at Granny's ruse Cabor hops down off of his stool and stands ready to depart. He glances at Gander's antics and says, "I look forward to hearing the rest of his story when we return. He's certainly well-traveled for an innkeeper."
Gyrdian chuckles at the halfling. Well, if there's no other way around it, this at least is a solid contract. Gyrdian signs his name and stacds up. Hopefully you will learn the value of my word, and one day be able to accept that in place of a scroll. Take care to let nothing happen to that as well.

When you have finished and paid your debts, I will be waiting in front of the stables.
Gyrdian bows slightly and then deftly walks across the room and out the door.
Dredge puts a few coins on the table, finishes his water then stands and follows Gyrdian.
Immerul will carefully read over the contract, making sure that there are no changes Gander "Forgot" to mention. When satisfied, he puts the contract in a scroll case, pays his bill, and walks outside to rejoin the party.

Rolen pays and follows the rest, with his bear following him.

Cador drains the rest of his Rot Gut, climbs back up the stool to place the mug the table, and then follows Rolen outside.
Walking to Cranewing's home is without incident.  You see the normal evening activities under way.  Mothers calling to their children for supper, some teens play-fighting nearby, a panhandler picking up his earnings to head for a bar.  The home you are walking to is at the edge of the residential district.  Just out of the way to be somewhat private, but not so out of the way that it cannot be found by those seeking knowledge.  You see light in the windows as you approach the house.  As you get near the door, the door opens and another group of adventurers leave.  You overhear them talking about finding some interesting items on their job, but that's all you hear before they get out of earshot.  Silhouetted in the door frame is that of a teenage human girl, probably around 15 or 16 years of age.  Before she shuts the door she sees you and calls out, Are you here to see my father?

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Dredge stops when the girl addresses the group.  "If you father is Parle Cranewing, then yes."

Yes, he is.  My name is Amelia.  You may call me Amy.  Please follow me.

Amy takes you down a hallway past a couple of closed doors and knocks on the last door on the left and opens it.  Father, there's a group here about one of the ads you put up.

Yes, yes.  Send them in.  Could you also be so kind to bring them some tea?  Thanks, dear.

Please have a seat.  My father will notice you shortly.  I'll be right back.

Inside the room is a desk, covered with scrolls, books, and parchment.  All of the walls are bookshelves, also completely filled.  There's also books and stuff, not so neatly piled around the desk.  In one corner of the room is a globe of the world.  In another is a large easel that has a half-finished floor plan of some old ruin.  In the center of the room is a couple of settees and chairs in a semicircle around a smaller table that seems remarkably free of paperwork.  Behind the desk sits a man probably in his late 30s reading a scroll rather intensely.  After a few moments he exclaims Aha!! and rushes over to the easel and starts to draw in the rest of the floor plan.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.