Armalia heaves her bag over one shoulder so she can adjust her big axe strapped in its leather bidings on the other shoulder. She loosens it a tad, just so it is easily accessible should they be jumped on the way. The dwarf is not her usual merry self, as she's been thinking over exactly what she's going to do if the shape changer can't or won't tell them how to retrieve Splug. She half thinks that the little goblin is probably in the land of the dead right now, but she'd never voice that to Antsy. The way his eyes shone and the fire it lit under him when he thought that there might be a chance to save Splug was much better than the quiet, withdrawn man that he'd become. I'll figure out what ta do with'im when it happens. Who knows? Might be that she can tell us how ta get Splug back. That would set things right as rain.
She looks the newcomer over thoughtfully. His appearance doesn't bother her at all, not after traveling with two pretty boys, a shifter, a drow, and Antsy's mustache. The dwarf is always suspicious of new folks though, until they earned her respect. She smiles a bit at remembering the tongue lashing she'd given Flint when he'd first joined their little group. Now she wouldn't trade him for three sacks of silver. Gold maybe. But definitely notsilver.
Looking around, she sees that they are all pretty much ready to hit the road. "What we waitin' fer, boyos? The sooner we git goin', the sooner we be shakin' the changer down."
Wil glances perturbedly toward Valthrun's tower, wondering how he had gotten the idea in his head that it was imperative for them to go there before leaving Winterhaven. We do already have a direction -- a purpose. I don't suppose there's much more he could tell us. And I'm sure he's got his own research and experiments and other intellectual pursuits taking up his time. Bet that's all more efficient with Nefertiti's help.
Oh. Hmm. Nef. Maybe... that's why I wanted to go there?
Wil shakes the cobwebs out of his head. He ties his pack a bit tighter over his shoulder as he stares at the path before them. "Too true. To Timbervale then?"
Over at the stables, still in the process of being rebuilt from the night assault which seemed so long ago, seven riding horses that were once part of Lord Padraig's own herd have been prepared to travel, alongside the one which Akmenos had arrived upon. Two are set up as pack-animals, carrying the group's gear and enough supplies for the ride; the other six horses are saddled for their riders.
While most of the town continues to operate as on a normal day, a handful of people have come out to send off the adventurers. Sister Linora, the town's priestess, is the first, her attention primarily on both the swordmage. "I'm fully aware that, in the end, all are beholden to the Queen of Winter," she tells him, "but make sure that those who've been disrupting things around here get to go before Her first, hear?" She touches a finger to her brow, then backs off.
Next are Lord Padraig's fiancé. Delphina's smile is grim, but kind. "Come back as soon as you can," she asks. "You are all expected to be back here in a fortnight for the wedding. Without all of you...." her voice trails off. Then she looks firmly at Flint, "And please give that... b*tch wearing my sister's face a good thrashing, sir."
Immediately behind her, Ernest Padraig clears his throat, and is far more diplomatic. "The gratitude of Winterhaven goes with you. Ride safe and fight well." He gives a formal salute to Antsy, and smiles almost wistfully.
Next, and almost last, is Valtrun, who focuses his comments to Riardon and Akmenos. "Look for something a handful of miles to the southeast of Timbervale," he advises. "The circle could have been set up anywhere, but I can't imagine it being too far from something of significance." He pauses, thinking, then continues, "The closest we've found, so far, is an old Arkhosian keep that was abandoned by the time Nerath rose up. If it's still standing, it might be found somewhere in the swamp. Though," he adds, a little chagrined, "as much information we have on that particular ruin, it might be anywhere between Nera and Fallcrest, to be honest." He scratches his head. "I'll have to look further into some things, anyway. Maybe by the time you get back, we'll have something else, or maybe you'll have found more."
Last, and certainly not least, is the drow woman, Nefertiti, waiting until the others have all finished. She hugs everyone who's willing (most who aren't, too), then stops. "Be safe, my friends. I'll help the old man, and do what I can to make sure that you all come back. Watch your backs...." She looks like she's going to say more, looking at Armalia in particular, but shakes her head and turns away, quickly walking off.
As the group rides off from the stables, they can see that, near the well central to the main plaza has been set a short marble pedestal, a couple of feet square, the sort of thing that would look more complete with something atop of it. A stonecarver is starting his work, putting the final touches on the first letter: an S. He tips his cap toward Flint as the shifter passes, then continues with his work.
Passing through the gates, and looking back, those who came to see them off have walked to the gates, and are waving. Off in the distance, atop Valthrun's Tower, a lone figure can be seen, silhouetted against the sky.
The journey to Timbervale is a long one, but the skies are clear and bright, the breeze is cool and gentle. The first leg of the journey takes the group along the old King's Road, first west then gradually curving southward. The road itself is packed gravel, with occasional spots of disrepair showing up. This area is part of the domain of Lord Padraig, and he takes his responsibilities seriously, doing what he can to keep travel and trade moving. Not much in the way of other travelers is seen, though a handful of hours in, a slow-moving caravan of lumber wagons is passed, heading toward Winterhaven.
Not too far into the first afternoon, after hour upon hour of farmlands, a small community crops up, its location atop a hill the only reason they'd noticed it. A sign declares it to be the village of Chipping Law; the only buildings being two houses, a small traveler's inn with a wide paddock for grazing horses and cattle and a fenced-in lot for parking caravans. On the other side of the road, more pasture and more parking, and a series of empty stalls set up. An old couple sits outside the inn, the Bull's Horn, watching the group of riders pass. If the group stops for a mealShow
The couple, their adult son and his family are the extent of the permanent residents of Chipping Law — which they are happy to tell means "Market Hill" in one of the old tribal tongues (though they're not sure which, and neither is anyone else). Once a month, the various nomadic tribes of the Stonemarch — at least, those that aren't busy trying to make life unbearable for the others — gather in the village to barter goods, services, and daughters. The Tapping family has maintained the town since the days of the old empire, or so they say, though they're unclear which empire that might have been.
Their location is ideal for caravans travelling by road between the cities of Fallcrest and Moonstair (a couple of days beyond Timbervale), since it is one of the natural rest areas for a caravan to stop at, thus ensuring income. Boat is faster, but travel through the Witchlight Fens is dangerous in the best of times, and the halfling-run riverboats all charge accordingly. The road, while long and tedious, bears heavier cargo and affords better security. Not to mention all of the communities along the King's Road that can participate in the trade as well. Unless one group decides — like the Black Foot Kobolds did, so recently — to shut down trade, and enforces it violently and vigilantly, the road is the more successful means of commerce.
Two more caravans are passed beyond Chipping Law, the first again traveling toward Winterhaven, the second away from it. Not long after that is reached the next community — an actual town at the edge of a vast southern forest. Stratwich is about half the size of Winterhaven, with a significantly weaker fortification; around the community is a split rail fence with lanterns on alternating posts, patrolled by two teams of guards, two young men each. The tavern/inn, the Elf's Lament, is not too crowded, there only being two other groups of travelers in for the evening, both caravans. Thus, they have enough room for everyone to have a small room to themselves.
Another day, another two communities, the weather again good for travelling. The King's Road — far more often in disrepair, in this no-man's-land of hereditary holdings — follows the edge of the forest, again going west, then gradually to the southwest, until the reach the town of Bradford, crossing the low and narrow Flat Creek, which enters the Blackheart Forest here, its waters among the many that feed the water-logged area known as the Witchlight Fens which occupy much of the eastern half (if not more) of the forest. The tavern, the Queen's Crossing, is more than accomodating to the travelers, though its staff are not nearly so talkative as the previous day's mid-point.
The day's travel ends as the group reaches Bael Therund, a fortified town built upon the ruins of at least two civilizations. As Riardon is well aware, from his knowledge of history, this area is all part of the Barony of Therund, named for this town, which stretches from the Witchlight Fens in the north to the Midnight Sea on the south, and claiming the Blackheart Forest and the Trollhaunt; but a Baron hasn't lived in Bael Therund since the fall of Nerath, when gnolls overran it, killing all within. The current Baroness holds court in both Moonstair and Duponde, pacing her shrinking holdings like a toothless and declawed cat trying to defend its area from encroaching predators. The once great Barony of Therund may draw its borders around an area the size of the entire Nentir Vale, but it holds less than the Baron of Harkenwold along the White River.
The inn for the night is the Minotaur's Maze, a reference to the rumor that a maze still exists beneath the current town. The current Therund was built upon Nerath's corpse; Nerath built theirs upon the Turathi frontier fort which survived a score of years before being flattened by Arkhosia. Rumor has it that the tieflings built theirs upon an even older fortress, one built by minotaurs much like Thunderspire east of Fallcrest. If there is a labyrinth, though, its entrances are well hidden; while rumors abound, nobody actually has ever seen such a place. Beyond the excitement of a handful of very drunk caravan guards running around a good portion of the night hunting for those secrets, the stay in Bael Therund is otherwise uneventful.
The third day of travel is far simpler, the group heading southward, occasionally veering to the southeast but mostly staying straight. Around midday, another creek crosses the road at Woodbridge, heading into the black forest on the left; the Naiad's Hand is far quieter than the Maze the night before. South from there, another creek comes into view on the right, this one turning to run parallel to the road, occasionally veering out of sight before meandering back into view. Too small for boat traffic, it does attract a number of birds and small animals — and bugs of all shapes and sizes.
Late in the afternoon, the creek veers to away to the west again; when it reappears, it is far larger, having joined up with others into a full-fledged river, though still slow and wandering. The road itself is no longer entirely paved gravel, much of it now becoming little more than packed earth. The river vanishes behind a grove of trees, with a small roadside shrine for Avandra, and as the road passes along the eastern side, the village of Timbevale comes into view.
6: Leatherworker 7: Inn of the Welcome Wench 8: Smithy 26: Wheelwright 28: Carpenter 29: Stonemason 30: Tower 31: Avandra's Shrine
The first thing of note is a castle under construction on the left side of the road. A sixty-foot tower is currently the only thing fully built, but the beginnings of a wall can be seen along the top of the twin-hill promontory.
More buildings — far more humble and modest, the homes of those such as craftsmen, herdsmen, and farmers — begin to appear, becoming more and more common along both sides of the road. Eventually, the road intersects with another crossing it; directly opposite is a large Inn, the largest seen since Wrafton's in Winterhaven. The placard hanging out into the road shows a very well endowed woman, laughing and stretching both arms out for a welcoming embrace. The name on the sign over the door: Inn of the Welcome Wench.
Inside, the tavern (much like Wrafton's) appears to provide much of the community its food, drink, and entertainment. A large man, known only as Gundigoot, controls the staff through hand gestures and the occasional harsh word whispered into an ear; the servers are all young women and older girls, many of whom clearly share common physical traits amongst themselves and the innkeeper; an older woman's voice can be heard carrying through the air from the kitchens. Eventually, Gundigoot takes notice of the newcomers, and offers accomodation, such as it is. "A silver a night, another for each meal, as many as three a day. One of the caravans laid in today instead of moving along, so we're a bit tight for rooms. We've only got three, all of them with a single bed apiece; if any of you wish, there's room in the stables for 3 coppers instead, but you still got to pay full for the meals."
• Ad Hominem— Attacking the person's circumstances, not addressing the argument. • Ad Hominem Abusive (Personal Attack)— Insulting the person, not addressing the argument. • Ad Hominem Tu Quoque— Saying the person's inconsistent, not addressing the argument. • Appeal to Authority/Belief/Common Practice/Consequence of a Belief/Emotion/Fear/Flattery/Novelty/Pity/Popularity/Ridicule/Spite/Tradition— Using emotion instead of Fact. • Bandwagon— Use of peer pressure. • Begging the Question— Assuming premises which haven't necessarily been agreed to. • Biased Sample— Using a sampling which may not properly represent the whole. • Burden of Proof— Shifting it to the wrong side. • Circumstantial Ad Hominem— Attacking the person's interests in supporting their argument. • Composition— Assuming that the whole has the same qualities as individual parts. • Confusing Cause & Effect— Assuming that one thing causes another because they appear in conjunction. • Division— Assuming that the individual parts have the same qualities as the whole. • False Dilemma— Assuming that only two options exist. • Gambler's Fallacy— Assuming the odds have changed because of past occurances • Genetic— Assuming a perceived defect in the origin of a claim is proof of a defect in the claim. • Guilt by Association— Attacking others who agree with the claim. • Hasty Generalization— Assuming a quality based on too small a sample size. • Ignoring the Common Cause— Assuming there is no outside cause of two connected things. • Middle Ground— Assuming the midpoint of two extremes must be correct. • Misleading Vividness— Assuming a colorful anecdote outweighs statistical evidence. • Poisoning the Well— Using unprovable claims about the person instead of addressing the argument. • Post Hoc— Assuming that something caused something else simply because it happened first. • Questionable Cause— Assuming that one thing causes another. • Red Herring— Using irrelevant evidence to divert a discussion. • Relativist Fallacy— Asserting that a claim may be true for some but not for the speaker. • Slippery Slope— Assuming the inevitability of one event based on another. • Special Pleading— Claiming exemption without justification. • Spotlight— Assuming individuals that get the most attention to be indicative of the whole. • Straw Man— Misrepresenting the opposing argument. • Two Wrongs Make a Right— Justifying something unethical/immoral as response or pre-emption to something else unethical/immoral.
Response to those who like to compare 4e to a Video GameShow
Also, I find that the "D&D 4e is like an MMO" argument is often a sign of someone who is deliberately being obtuse and/or is potentially ignorant of actual MMO play. As someone who only ended a 6-year World of Warcraft addiction a year ago, I can say that most of your bullet points actually don't match up to the truth of it.
In D&D 4e, you can choose a hybrid, you can choose to play one class as though it were another (people played Warlords as Bards frequently, when the edition first came out, and Rangers were refluffed to Monks), you can focus your class on its secondary role (a Warlock who is more controller than striker, for instance), you can multiclass, and you can create a particular concept (a mounted lancer, a charger, etc.) within the mechanics via feats, choice of powers, and choice of skills. You decide which set of stats you use--are you a Chaladin, Straladin, or Baladin?--and you have ultimate influence on how your character turns out in the end. Yes, powers require you to be using a particular weapon within your class's available selection, but the powers are not themselves tied to the gear. Powers tied to weapons or armor are typically powers that belong to the item, not to the character class that's most likely to use it.
Yes, there are only so many powers available, and these will be what you do in battle; this is all that the designers created. Yes, there is a time-frame in which they can be used; this has always been the case, even in the days of Vancian casting. Yes, there are suggested builds, but you can routinely ignore those if it pleases you; the only parts of a class you have to take are the class features, and even those have options at this point. But the only way that this can be considered at all conflatable with MMO character building/playing is if you are deliberately ignoring all of that.
In WoW, you choose a class and you're done. No multiclassing or hybridization, no way to mimic one class with careful building of a different one. There is a firm dividing line on what is a WoW class. No secondary roles or creative concepts, either; you're going to be what the class sets out to be, and that's it. You'll always have the same stat allocation as another of your class, because you get set numbers as you level up, and you've got at best four options--and that's only the Druid class--to build, and if you plan on running dungeons, particularly heroic level ones, or raiding, you'd better not even think of deviating from the single defined best build on the talent tree for what you want to do. It was only recently, with the complete tear-down and recreation of talent trees for Mists of Pandaria, that there was a concept of there being anything but the one best build that people who calculated such mechanical advantages (the folks on Elitist Jerks, for example), and the people who did things like achieve "World First" at various top-tier raids set precedent for.
Also, no class will ever not have a specific set of powers; all Priests in WoW have the same baseline, with deviation only based upon their talent tree specialization, where a D&D4e player could take whatever power in their class pleases them. Any Retribution Paladin will be the same as any other in terms of powers, because that is what a RetPally is. Any Assassination Rogue will always have the same powers as another, etc. All powers are always on specific cool-downs, but will always be there when they start a battle, where a 4e PC might enter an encounter with only At-Wills, or without their Daily powers due to what plot has done up until that point. Furthermore, no power that is not already specifically tied to an item will ever "require" you have that item, to my recollection. Classes get all their powers based on class; gear only gives bonuses to stats, possibly cuts down cast times for abilities or cooldowns, grants temporary extra bonuses to stats (the latter two most often on the raid tier equipment), and on rare occassions an extra power that may or may not be valuable, as some are only special effects instead of valuable abilities.
Most honest/open response on why DDN needs to be InclusiveShow
I've always felt it is in the best interests of D&D to be as inclusive across the playerbase as they can be and still have a game. I've never felt though that making a game that was inclusive within a group was very useful or even desirable. DM's and players can decide amongst themselves what options or restrictions they want for their games. I tend to lean to the DM to make most of those decisions but again that is a group specific thing.
Having said that. I get the distinct impression that there are a lot of players on these boards who come from groups that generally ruled against their own desires. It's almost like they are an oppressed minority from a gaming perspective. I also get the impression that they tend to advocate against things that if available their fellow group members might like and vote them down on.
Do a lot of you feel this way?
Just for clarification...here are some examples... 1. Alignment restrictions as an option. 2. Alignment Mechanics 3. Martial healing 4. Races being included or not.
I know my perspective is not that I often play at tables where my likes are not represented. Instead, my perspective comes from the many years I spent being a bad DM. I was a bad DM because my guidance came from the books, and the books gave bad advice. The books told me that alignment was a useful approach to roleplaying, so I went with it even though it felt kind of weird to me. Now I know that, at least in my style of running games, alignment destroys rp. I trusted the books to give good advice, and it messed up my game. Now I'm much more mature as a DM, so I know how to take advice with a grain of salt. And I still learn new stuff every session I run.
I don't want future DMs to go through my problems again. There's a big enough DM shortage as it is. DMing well is hard.
The biggest thing I had to unlearn in my process of becoming a good DM was the idea that the game is a simulation of a world. I understand many DMs prefer a more simulationist approach, although I am always skeptical simply because I would have said the same thing until I learned and grew as a DM. This doesn't mean their approach is completely invalid, but it still gives me a personal twinge when I see a regression back to 3e era sim style gaming.
I also have noticed many groups where one or two old-school players run a whole group's playstyle because the newer players aren't even aware there are other ways of doing things. The newer players tell me stories of things they hated in the session, and I end up explaining to them how those things they hate are very fixable, and in fact are fixed in the newer edition of the game their older players have told them is terrible.
In regard to things like martial healing, I don't think it's necessary for it to be in the game for the game to be fun. However, the attitude that says martial healing is terrible and shouldn't exist is an attitude that, to me, reveals a wrongheaded approach to the game. Therefore, my fight for it to be an option is to help legitimize the more narrative approach that I think is what most players want, but many don't know is possible, because they've never been exposed to it.
Wil remains characteristically quiet for a good portion of the trip. He does express some interest in the history of both Chipping Law and Bael Therund, and at one point he does briefly talk to Akmenos about the Broken Lands; generally, however, he keeps to his own thoughts.
At first those thoughts are of Nefertiti and what it could have been that she wanted to say to Armalia. Within a half-day's travel, however, he finds his thoughts unexpectedly turning to Sireal.
There's something more to her, something I can't quite... I want to see her as an enemy. She steals faces. She deceives. She ostensibly raises the dead. She traffics with cults of Orcus, though not...
Something more complex is at play here. She did not really work for Kalarel, but, from what I gathered, she is not a free agent. Naturally she must work for someone else, and for some larger purpose -- and one that I feel we're about to get ourselves involved in. Otherwise, why would she contact us after fleeing before? Would it not be better -- and, for a changeling, perfectly feasible -- to simply fade into obscurity?
As they ride along, Wil looks at Flint pensively while the shifter is unlikely to notice. I could learn more if I find her in Timbervale and speak with her... without the others' knowledge. Flint and Armie especially, they would be hostile to her right out of the gate -- not without reason, but it would put Sireal on her guard. Antsy would be as neurotic as usual, and a manipulator like Sireal would take advantage of that. Riardon can certainly conjure up a silver tongue and that would be helpful, but I can't be sure he'd approach this the same way I intend to. And Akmenos, of course, doesn't really know the situation.
No... It's gotta be me. Alone.
Wil looks around the Welcome Wench, taking note of the innkeeper and what appears to be his gaggle of daughters. One big happy family... After Gundigoot lays out his prices for room and board, the swordmage turns to the others. "I'm willing to stay in the stables."Could be my chance to start looking for Sireal...
Armalia is lulled for most of the trip by the steady plodding pace of the pony that she's been riding. She's glad the weather has been nice. Even though it's been a bit since their last escapade, she hasn't been able to shake the dank darkness of the dungeon. Now she feels like the sunshine has never felt so good. The dwarf knows that a hard row to hoe lays ahead, and so she enjoys the sun and the peace while it lasts.