A storm hung in the sky as you approached the capital of Ulrynth, making its towering walls an imposing sight for military-trained eyes such as yours. The road leading up to the gate has been turned into a muddy landscape interspaced with deep pools and small gulleys of water draining away onto the plains. It appears as if you just missed the tail of the storm, as several people have since emerged from under the tents built up against the towering walls. Only a few have not been soaked to their teeth, but with the rainfall gone, it is safe to resume their journey home or someplace outside the city. Little boys, servants or squires, run through the thickening throng carrying goods obviously meant for the tournament.
It has taken you half a day to reach Grygara. Not wishing to attract unwanted attention or harm an innocent bystander, Sir Raeven has provided you passage to a place at the end of a near-forgotten road deep into the plains. A flock of birds had taken flight in surprise at the mighty display of magic, but other than that none had borne witness to your arrival. The skies had seemed threathening even then, but fortunately you have been spared of the heavy rainfall and have only had to deal with a cold breeze wafting over the grassy rolling hills of the Plains of Fichel.
The powerful mage had left without a grand goodbye, merely wishing you a safe journey and success at the tournament before casting a much less visibly thrilling and decidedly simpler ritual to bring himself back to his home.
As you pass beneath Grygara's northern gates, nodded along by a pair of unhappy guards, the sun peaks through the clouds, bringing relieved smiles to the faces of the local folk. Not having to huddle to escape the rain, many of them now raise their eyes to look upon your impressive entrance, all flash and colour and without a single garment despoiled by rain. One might even think your arrival has been blessed by the sun or perhaps the other way around. Men nod in respect, women watch silently, impressed by the display, and little boys and girls point and gawk, tugging at their mother's skirts that they want to be like you one day. While yours is not the first group of brave knights to pass beneath the gates, it is clear you are among the more impressive.
When you venture deeper into the city, you notice many streets have been decorated for the parades, and small wooden platforms and stages and places cleared for other performances have been set up for a large festival to accompany the tournament. Talking to the locals, you quickly learn the actual tournament grounds are outside the western gates of the city, near St. Murray's holy Seat and sheltered from the prevailing winds blowing out across the plains from the east. The crowds thicken as you approach the centre of all the city's activities, and you know it will soon be rude, or just plain impossible, to maneauver your entire group through the streets.
Alright! First order; find the person to sign you up for the tournament and designate you a place to set up your tent. A group name is not required, but if you can all agree on something in the OOC that would certainly come in handy.
The entire tournament will be one huge skill challenge, with battles and other skill challenges to provide bonuses for the rolls (Skillception). It's a lot of homebrew (based on an article though), so hopefully things aren't too skewed. If need be I can always tinker with the rules as we go (I won't change anything you've already accomplished, but the DC for future stuff might go up or down)..
I'll give you the rules for it later, first let's get set up
"Hey,"Espi shouts more than says, reluctantly raising her drawl over the din of the crowd, "This city's pretty crowded."
Shame we never got to storm it.
She slowly takes on a taller form, stretching out her torso and legs to get a better view over the crowds. Maneuvering through the waves of merchants, potential competitors, and unspecial visitors seems unwieldy.
"Let's split up. I mean, it only takes two or one person to register, right? The rest of us can get the lay of the, uh, land so to speak."She shrugs and bumps into a passing child who carries her weight in wrapped packages on his head. A waft of unfamiliar odors drowns her nostrils. "Sorry. Anyway, just an idea."
Tournament... is this what the Shadows meant? Consider: the immediate stakes are so small. Probably not.
She sighs, blowing out the fading scent of the small boy's packaged spice. Why, exactly, was she here again?
If, on a desert night, a traveler, outside the town of Balic, leaning from the steep slope, without fear of wind or vertigo, looks down in the gathering shadow (in a network of lines that interlace) on the carpet of sand illuminated by the moon around an empty grave, what story down there awaits its end?
Cassilda looks up at the cloud-ladened sky. So far it has not rained, for which she is grateful. Even though the flood happened over three years ago, to her mind it feels like it was only a week ago. She is still heartily sick of seeing puddles of water and roads turned to mud. She ignores the cold breeze, her robe pinned and her hood up to keep the wind from blowing her long hair into a tangled mess.
She lowers her hood as they come to the city gates, letting her chestnut hair fall free and giving the guards a good look at her face. A sunbeam falls on her head, exposing copper highlights and eyes that seem to notice everyone and everything around her. She winks at some of the smaller children staring up at them, causing one little boy to bravely wave about a toy sword and his sister to giggle. Cassilda has a soft spot for children, who are their future. She can appreciate them even though she is not interested in producing any of her own.
“Hey, this city’s pretty crowded.”Espi’s voice rises above the crowd and Cassi looks around, nodding her head. “I would guess it is because of the Tourney.” That would draw all sorts of people, from craftsmen looking to ply their trade to merchants coming to take advantage of the crowds. She frowns as she spots a woman who is dressed quite scantily with heavy kohl liner on her eyes and deeply rouged cheeks. It would seem the camp followers are also here. As long as the woman is working the career of her choosing, Cassi has nothing to say about the matter and looks away as the woman slinks up to a knot of men standing around arguing about which inn serves the best dwarven spirits.
Espi suggests they split up and Cassi agrees with her. “That sounds like a plan. Except, how will we know where to meet up later?” Cassi wants to be with the group that goes to pick out the inn while the guys, especially Iton, sign them up for the Tourney. She loves Iton as if he were a brother born of the same womb, but the man’s idea of a good place to stay and her idea are sometimes quite a bit different. He usually likes to stay in places that are a bit more rowdy than she cares for. She tends to look at an inn and decide on it based on the food and the cleanliness. If it has a section for darts or dagger throwing, all the better, for then everyone is happy.
Do NOT meddle in the affairs of dragons; for you are crunchy and go good with ketchup
Arliekkos did watch as Sir Raeven vanished with little fanfare before giving Virtus free reign to rear up and about and fall into a controlled gallop. Both cavalier and mount exulted in the brisk air and the smell of the wet land and the looming promise of rain and he could feel some of the tension knots in his neck loosen. Slowing to a canter and then to a trot he did move up to the rest of the company bound for Grygara and removed his feathered helm to show a true smile at last.
Arliekkos and Papiols were well used to the din and press of tournament crowds and quickly brought the attendees into order and file and insured that the proper banners were unfurled for full initial effect. Long years had passed since the cavalier had last been to Grygara but he remembered that the inns had filled quickly during the tournament.
The cries of street vendors rose above the steady buzz of voices calling out their wares and goods that he nearly did not hear Lady Cassilda and Lady Espi's words. "I shall take Iton and one other with me to add our names to the lists. There is a chance though slim that rooms can still be had but it is most likely that the pavillions will be where we find ourselves."
Arliekkos turned and addressed his squire, "Papiols, you are in charge of the attendants and insuring that the pavillion tents are set up and our camp prepared. We can all meet there and it will give us an opporunity to see what other Houses and Companies may be in attendance for the tourney as well as free-blades and hedge knights."
"Until we gain recognition I doubt that any would believe us to be who we are so I doubt also that trying to gain audience will be time wisely spent but there is always a chance. I suggest the rest of you travel together and find out what you can from the merchants, small folk and other avenues you think will bear fruit."
"Evening will be upon us soon so it is best we make haste. When last I was here I was able to find boarding at The Axe and Elm on Aliester Court," he pointed in the direction it lay,"Assuming it yet stands. There was a Yelsa Grimm as the proprietor there and her son Sangrid, probably a young man now. They are friends of the Bluemantle name though they will most likely think you mad given the passage of seasons and all that has come to be."
Iton trails along the party, as a bull in tow, until they reach the city. There his interest decidedly begins to wander. A woman with heavy kohl liner and rouge begins to sidle up to Iton, having found a good mark, but Cassilda's frown sends her away before she can find her next coin. Disappoined, Iton looks to Arliekkos and says,"I'll tell ya what. You sign us up, take Zarja or the Firebrand," Iton's nickname for Yuhren allowed him to avoid learning the lad's name, "I'll get us some decent rooms, in an inn." Iton grins wide, his pronounced canine teeth showing, "I have a hunch there's some innkeeper around here who just so happens to have some vacancies. Sari, you know how to find me, at need." Assured that this settles things, Iton turns to leave.
Yuhren pulls his cassock closed tighter against the brisk, rain-soaked air and rides with the rest of the company up to the gates. His eyes move over everything, but they tend to linger on the less fortunate of the people among the crowds. He follows the group closely through the gate and up the streets, but slips off his horse as they stop to begin discussions of splitting up. He is thankful for the horse to ride, but he's always been more comfortable on foot, having recieved only minimal riding training through his time in the army. He listens momentairly as the rest of the group tries to divy up the tasks, with differing opinions surfacing about who is best suited for what tasks. Silently, he agrees to go along with whatever plan is eventually decided upon by the group. I'm not very well suited to any of those tasks. Perhaps if we had been able to return to the City of Saints I would be more useful.
As his eyes roam the street, taking in the people more than the places, he notices a poor mother coddling a young child who looks to have an injured leg and can't walk. As he watches them, he notices it is more deformity than injury. He moves over to them and removes some of the provisions provided by Lord Raevin for their journey and offers it to the woman. Her eyes show gaurded curiousity at first, but when she recognises that he wears the cassock of a priest, they turn welcoming and thankful. He smiles kindly at her and lays his hands on the boys head, saying a prayer he has often heard prayed for the sick and lame. As the words tumble from his lips, he finds himself acutely aware of the prayers words, more so than he has been in a long time. He finishes the prayer and gives the mother a blessing as well. You have a strong heart and soul, burdened as you are with such a heavy yolk. May our God strengthen you further and bless you and yours for the dedication you have shown him through this little one. Then he returns to the others to see if they have reached a decision yet.
Cassi turns and gives Sir Arliekkos a grateful nod and smile when he offers to take Iton and another with him to sign up for the Tourney. That suits her quite perfectly and she cannot help but grin. Even better, the knight has the name of an inn and is friendly with the proprietor, which means there might be the slightest chance of finding rooms. She turns her intense violet-blue eyes to the crowds, realizing they may not find rooms after all. She loses her grin, turning back to the business at hand. Likely, they will have to stay in the pavilion tents. Cassi does not mind, for she has spent her last five years traveling with the army and she usually stayed in a tent.
Unfortunately, it seems Iton is not going to cooperate and go check out the Tourney and their competition. Instead, he decides to pick the inn. Oh gods. OH GODS! She gives him a bit of a horrified look and quickly inserts, “It better not be like that last place. I don’t care what you try to call it, a whore house is a whore house and not the place for ladies to stay at.” She pointedly drags Espi into this with her. She is not going to be kept awake all night listening to the sound of others carousing. “Or gentlemen for that matter.” A thought occurs to her and she takes off in a completely different direction. “If there is an opportunity, a place with a bath would be nice.” Now she sounds hopeful. There is nothing better than a long hot soak after a day’s ride in the saddle.
“If you are unable to find anything, we can simply set up the pavilion and not worry about trying to find room in this press of people. Either way, I think Espi and I may check out a few of the local establishments and see what we can find out and if we can find anyone we know.” While she doesn’t say anything, she is actually hoping against hope to find friends or family of those who served Saint Murray. She knows her family survived and so did Iton’s family, for neither were anywhere near the flooded area. The same cannot be said for the others. She knows they must be worried about their families and desperate to know something and find anyone who might still remain. She turns to Yuhren and Zarja. “You are welcome to join us if you would like.”
Yuhren’s little side trip does not go unnoticed; leaving Cassi impressed by the man’s kindness for others.
Do NOT meddle in the affairs of dragons; for you are crunchy and go good with ketchup
Zarja smiles at the women and children they pass, and nods solemnly at the men. As soon as he lays eyes on the people, he feels a surge of warmth in his heart. Despite the catastrophe that claimed their homeland, these folk, believing in St. Murray and the triumph of the One, had endured this nightmarish twist of fate. With each hint of happiness or quiet stoicism, Zarja felt his back straighten a little, and though he could not tell, he senses a luster returning to his eyes, one that had not shone since he had returned from death.
If we can return enthusiasm to the hearts of these goodfolk, then we must do all we can. I am of Ulrynth; I must not let her people lose hope in these troubled times.
The priest greets the onlookers with prayers and blessings in the One's name. With a steady hand, he hails the crowd of pedestrians, wishing them the favor of their god now and for all times to come. He does not know how much good his words are doing, but he convinces himself that faith is now more useful than ever. His voice rings out calm and true, and his words are honest and born of conviction, not merely honeyed words meant to soothe wounds.
"Are there any sick who could do with relief? Are there any at death's door who require last rites?"
His offer does not fall on deaf ears. Several mothers and fathers walk forward, asking for a touch of the Creator's mercy. Zarja's voice becomes deeper and more focused as he channels the One's light. His touch brings an invigorating fire to those he meets, and even as his mind begins to become heavy with the strain of drawing forth the One's blessings to such an extent, he does not cease his work until the foot traffic clears and he finds himself alone with his companions.
Listening to their exchange, Zarja nods to the wizard, a friendly smile on his face.
"It would be my pleasure, my lady. I shall accompany you wherever you like."
"I don't like X, they should remove it." "I like X, they should keep it." "They should replace X with Y." "Anybody that likes X is dumb. Y is better." "Why don't they include both X and Y." "Yeah, everybody can be happy then!" "But I don't like X, they should remove it." "X really needs to be replaced with Y." "But they can include both X and Y." "But I don't like X, they need to remove it." "Remove X, I don't like it."
Lady and gentlemen.... I present to you the Edition War without Contrition, the War of the Web, the Mighty Match-up!
We're using standard edition war rules. No posts of substance. Do not read the other person's posts with comprehension. Make frequent comparison to video games, MMOs, and CCGs. Use the words "fallacy" and "straw man", incorrectly and often. Passive aggressiveness gets you extra points and asking misleading and inflammatory questions is mandatory. If you're getting tired, just declare victory and leave the thread. Wait for the buzzer... and....
One, two, three, four, I declare Edition War Five, six, seven eight, I use the web to
D&D should not return to the days of blindfolding the DM and players. No tips on encounter power? No mention of expected party roles? No true meaning of level due to different level charts or tiered classes? Please, let's not sacrifice clear, helpful rules guidelines in favour of catering to the delicate sensibilities of the few who have problems with the ascetics of anything other than what they are familiar with.
Just a quick note on the MMORPG as an insult comparison...
MMORPGs, raking in money by the dumptruck full. Many options, tons of fans across many audiences, massive resources allocated to development.
TTRPGs, dying product. Squeaking out an existence that relys on low cost. Fans fit primarily into a few small demographics. R&D budgets small, often rushed to market and patched after deployment.
You're not really making much of an argument when you compare something to a MMORPG and assume people think that means bad. Lets face it, they make the money, have the audience and the budget. We here on this board are fans of TTRPGs but lets not try to pretend none of us play MMORPGs.
"Later then it is." The cavalier headed off deeper into the city to insure the party a place in the lists before it the end of the day and they were closed. "Remember to bring no dishonor to the colours of our current patron." he called out as he manuevered Virtus through the throngs.
Yuhren has a bit of trouble catching up with the conversation and, as the group begins to split up, he scrambles to catch up to Arliekkos. He has no idea what he might be able to do to help, but as it seems the rest of the group wants to look for lodging, he figures they won't be needing any more help...