Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Barrow is Somewhere Abouts

Date: 12pm Tuesday, April 19, 1650
Location: West of Store Stokka Lake, Rogaland
Weather: a fresh wind blowing more from the north, now, north-north west, with unchanged chilly weather, with the skies having cleared again.  Feels like 1.5 C.

It is not a long walk around the south edge of the lake, and now that it looks like the brewing storm has melted away and given to clear ~ if somewhat crisp ~ skies, you make fair time.  Those who have been playing with the clothing insulation calculator will notice they have to take off some of their clothing to avoid taking damage today, as it is hot climbing over deadfall and not tripping over roots.

There is a lot of snow on the ground around the lake, in trenches and low places, but these are easily avoided.  The lake, however, is completely clear of ice.  The party rounds a hill on the west side of the lake and begins across a flat boggy meadow plain that slowly tilts upwards as they go northwest, into the wind.  Occasionally you have to cover your noses with a hand to warm the skin, but it is not cold enough to cause much distress.

Rowan, at one point, stops.  As though obtaining information from a race memory, he feels as if the party must have come far enough.  Unfortunately, he does not possess geography as a skill, and cannot determine the exact location of whatever you are searching for.  To precisely find the proper location from here, he would need to observe the sky at night, allowing for a specific star to rise above the horizon ~ of course, the sky would have to be clear of clouds for that, so this weather would have to hold.

126 comments:

Lothar Svensson said...

Are we still in the middle of the meadow?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I meant "meadow plain" to suggest an area with scattered open places amid an extended forest ~ not a single meadow. There are meadows all about, not quite a soggy once you're more than a quarter mile from the lake.

Lothar Svensson said...

Ah, thank you. Very well, I suggest we mark this spot with a small cairn or cut and turn over some turf and then spread out; looking for some evidence of the barrow. I imagine a round, rather symmetrical hill, maybe three times wide as it is tall?

How long do we want to look? We will probably have to construct some shelter if we want to stay till nightfall, especially if the barrow doesn't have an easily accessed opening. But it's noon now, we could all look for a while and then one or two of us start setting up a camp if we don't find anything.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Would Lothar's pathfinding abilities allow him to tell, based upon local topology, where a settlement might have been located?

Also, how tall are the trees around here - we could try climbing one to see if we can find any gaps in the treeline where the barrow might be. While we couldn't see it from the other side of the lake, we might be able to see more now that we're closer.

What do y'all think?

Alexis Smolensk said...

After 11 to 12 centuries, it is unlikely that Lothar would notice the settlement's location without stumbling upon it. There would be no humanoid-made trails in existence, no "sign" for him to track.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The trees are poplars and spruce; those that are more than 50 feet tall and thick enough to support a human would more likely break from age; and poplars are not made with many hand-holds, particularly below the canopy in a forest like this.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Hmm.

I only weigh ~130lbs without my pack. I could cut that weight down and be a little cold while climbing. I know that my twine can't support that much weight, but could I braid it into a stronger rope to facilitate climbing up higher?

I think, as the only dwarf, that I am the lightest person in the party and therefore best suited to this venture.

Alternatively, we could poke around - if our best hope is to wait until dark falls (and hope for good weather), it might be better to search during what daylight we have. If we don't find it, spending the night in the cold will be very unpleasant and we might want to look for that hunter's lodge back on the other side of the lake.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The ranger, however, will point out to Aleksandra that if she climbs up there, all she will see are other trees: the view from 20 feet up will not be superior and once climbing into the canopy, the view becomes even less expansive.

Alexis Smolensk said...

If not the ranger, then the druid will say so.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Actually, the ranger is only 98 lbs.

Lothar Svensson said...

I weigh (as an elf) 106 lbs fully clothed. I'll try climbing a tree, at least as high as I feel it's safe to do so. After seeing what there is to see (and assuming I don't notice the barrow from on high), I think we should fan out in a circle from the spot we marked, go maybe 300 paces, then come back and report.

Alexis Smolensk said...

O . . . kay.

The ranger sees a lot of other trees.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Thanks, Lothar.


I second Lothar's followup - spreading out radially and seeing if we find it. It can't be too far from here.

Lothar Svensson said...

Yeah, I started commenting before your comments were posted, Alexis... Sorry about that

Rowan said...

Now, I'm going to go along with the search here, it's wise, and I've got the best odds of anyone of actually knowing what I'm seeing when we spot it.

Having said that, I tentatively suggest that our non-ranger/druids time would be at least as productive towards our aims by setting up camp, even just digging a firepit on some clear ground.

If we find it during the day, excellent, but unless it rains we're more or less guaranteed to find it by nightfall.

Equally, I'll suggest we tread northwest, into the wind and uphill. If this land is boggy, it's likely the barrows are on some higher ground, to avoid leakage. I could be wrong on this though.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Hold up, Rowan. Let's make sure we can survive a night camping in the open - temperatures will likely drop, and we don't have tents (and I certainly don't have any kind of sleeping gear).

If we are to camp, then we will probably need to impose on the hospitality of the hunters, if we can find them.

Lothar, would you and maybe Gudbrand want to head off in that direction, looking for the cabin? The rest of us can do some short-range searching.

Rowan said...

I mention going uphill specifically with our encampment in mind. If this ground is damp, I don't want to try sleeping on it, as I've got no more protection that anyone else here. I don't necessarily mean far, but if we're searching the area, I want to be searching it to the "up", if you catch my drift.

Cabin is pretty far back by now, at least I'm presuming as much if we've rounded the southern edge of the lake. I'll follow if two others want to head back, but it would be, at this point I think, a waste of a trip.

Dear god, is our first TPK going to be to the fucking -weather-?!

Lothar Svensson said...

Weather, no. Foolishness, perhaps.

Let's look for a few hours at least and see if we can't find it. I imagine we'll need to spend some time clearing the entrance once we do. If it does take us 'till nighttime for Rowan to remember where his comrades put it, we should take it easy so we'll still have energy enough to work at it after sundown. We can take it in shifts if need be, and trade off with time resting around a fire. If worst comes to worst and we can't get the door open quickly enough, we'll have to light some torches and head for the cabin through the night. It'll probably hurt at that point, but it's either that or build ourselves a barrow of leaves.

But let's get to looking for the barrow and see what happens.

Rowan said...

That is perfectly agreeable. Let's do.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

This sounds great to me.

In that case, would it be best for some of us to get to preparing a fire in one of the meadows? Starting a good one will take a couple of hours, especially given the recent rainfall, much less getting usable wood.

In that case, would we be better served to start looking while some of us prepare the fire?

Lothar Svensson said...

Perhaps someone with an axe would be a good choice to elect as the wood gatherer.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

"Fellow journeymen, knowing that our sylvan pathfinder's strength of belief tugs at our present environs and not much further may I suggest that we range in such a fashion as to keep each other within distance of sight if not sound and that we make a beeline that perpendicularly crosses the point of his hesitation; Much like scouring arms of the transept of a mighty Cathedral, if you will."

Engelhart Askjellson said...

"I may , not being particularly adept at navigating this sea of greenery, render service as a camp builder, starting with a fire-pit, though I find myself woefully short on tools."

Rowan said...

Druid dowsing is fine by me. I'll take a comfortable center position in our ranks and begin to slowly scour the nearby surroundings, keeping my fellows within sight, and preferably no more than eight hexes in distance if it came to it.

Gudbrand Andersen said...

I think the most help I can provide right now is going with Rowan to provide an extra set of hands and eyes. I've no tools to cut wood or dig with, so I will go with the search party. Sling still out.

(Alexis, about sling combat: do I have to aim with a sling the same way as with a bow, i.e. spending 4 AP before spending 2 to fire?)

Lothar Svensson said...

Now I'm confused. Are we spreading out in a star pattern from a central point, or going together in a clump in an ever-widening circle? I think we'd cover more ground faster if we split up a bit.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

*Utters a short wheather-prayer to the Lord and grins in a well-natured manner*

"Come now, it's in the Good Book that all that is hidden is ever destined to be found".

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

We can use a bladed weapon to make a firebreak and harvest deadfall - no axe required. I have flint (but no steel), which I am happy to offer to our cause. I would also appreciate a fire because I need to smoke my daily cigar. If someone will provide the bladed weapon, I am happy to attempt this while y'all are searching for the barrow.

Rowan said...

I intended, and Rowan will voice this as he heads out, that we'd be in a line some distance from one another, walking until I think I've lost it or we decide to stop.

With 5-foot hexes, and my stated intent of not being more than 8 away, that's about 30-40 feet between any given member of the party, and frankly we could probably spread further, I'm just wary of getting caught with my trousers down.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

[Lothar: my own suggestion is a loose line formation or radiating half-circle pattern that spills strictly to the posterior side from the point where Rowan stops. His intuition says that going further north-west is not an option and since we've already come from the south-east we can also consider that point to be ground already covered, somewhat].

Lothar Svensson said...

More of that third perspective thinking. His about you and I go southwest while Rowan and Aleksandra go northeast, and Gudbrand gathers wood? We can go to shouting distance from Gudbrand, and then regroup and reassess.

[If it comes down to nightfall and it turns out we've been standing on top of the dang thing for six hours I'm gonna laugh.]

Engelhart Askjellson said...

"Scoff not at the thought, comrade, we do have a hill that we have just rounded and that is as good a place to start as any".

"Also, I'd keep an eye on these accumulations of snow, lest they form a circle that belies a circular trench formation, effectively concealing a sunken mound in the ground".

Gudbrand Andersen said...

Oh duh, just because I can't cut wood doesn't mean I can't gather any off the ground. Sure, I'll do that.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

This all sounds good to me.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: Went out on an errand, with an appointment attached, and it took three hours. Looks like I'll have to do the same next week at this time and the week after)

Gudbrand, the answer to your sling question is yes. It takes you a round to load and get the projectile swinging, then 2 AP used the next round to fire it. While loading and swinging, however, you can move up to ONE hex ~ this is inherent in the 4pt AP cost for loading; and when getting ready to fire, you can move your remaining AP before letting loose or after.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Allow me to bring up a point, gentlemen, that I have long noticed about D&D players.

Often they will propose to do something, even agree to do something, then not actually use the words, "We do something" in the present tense.

Rowan did say that he voices as he heads "our" ~ with an 'r' ~ but I think he means out; but then he returns to the future tense when he says ". . . that we'd be in a line some distance from each other . . ."

I urge the party to remember that at some point I need to hear present tense verbs used before I can go forward.

(worked out, as I didn't have access to the internet anyway)

Rowan said...

Yeah, sorry. I'm mixing tenses because, from observing the Senex campaign when it started, I recall the declaring of specific action being touched upon.

I just don't want to annoy my fellows by appearing to act unilaterally all the time. I'm trying to make double sure because I am -very- impetuous. There is no length to which I won't chase a given carrot, and I probably won't even notice the stick until my hide is thoroughly tanned.

To retouch: Rowan is letting everyone know he's moving out, with the intention of fanning out somewhat to find this thing. Then he does that, and takes it on good faith that his brothers in arms will follow.

Lothar Svensson said...

I head out with Engelhart in the opposite direction.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: I strongly suggest that players resist the urge to worry too much about fellow players in this forum. Let us all accept that we are graciously concerned about each other, as I am towards all of you ~ but that given the time it takes to express that every time in text, we should have faith that we're not screwing over each other by taking a forthright action.

As well, let me reassure the players that I'm not the sort of DM who says, "You said you were heading out! NO, you absolutely cannot stop your movement in any way until you have travelled at least two hundred yards, yada, yada, yada."

If someone says "Wait a moment," I will presume there is plenty of opportunities for the character to pause, stop in their tracks and say, "What?"

The ONLY time that actions will be 100% time-sensative will be in combat, when every action will be expressed in a 12-second time frame ~ when saying "Wait" will mean expending an AP and stopping to ask "What?" will expend another. No one need worry about time, however, when the party is not in combat).

Alexis Smolensk said...

Noted,

Rowan and Lothar have started moving away in the searching pattern discussed. May I assume the rest of you do the same?

Gudbrand Andersen said...

I go with the searchers too. (Changed my mind about looking for wood, I'd rather not be on my own.)

Rowan said...

Rowan call for Gudbrand to follow his branch of the search.


Because I also don't want to be alone.

Alexis Smolensk said...

As the party branches out, it does not take very long ~ only as long as it might take to bring a pot of water to boil ~ before Gudbrand calls Rowan's attention to something he sees about fifteen paces away.

It is a stone, about four feet high and a foot wide, standing on its end, with writing on it. Upon examining it, Rowan sees that the writing is in a sort of archaic druidic spell-language . . . the sort of writing that is never used for anything but spells now. It is plainly not a spell; it doesn't have the tenor of a spell, in Rowan's experience. It is merely a marker. It reads, vaguely, "Here lies the limit of Haffryed's Grave, the konnugr-paddy."

You look at it both ways and it reads either "the king toad" or "the toad king."

Rowan said...

"Well done, friend. Take care, my people do not mince words."

The obvious suspect here is a giant frog of some kind. It's possible that the interred was just not liked very much, but I don't make monuments to people I find distasteful, and I'd be surprised if Druids did either.

Rowan will call out for our other members, and look around, no more than perhaps twenty feet from the marker itself, taking special care to avoid any other large stones or thick brush.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

I come close. Upon finding out the new status-quo, I set about trying to find an entrance of any given sort.

"Perhaps we may find other stones of this one's ilk strewn further afield..."

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

I join Rowan in his search.

Lothar Svensson said...

Are Engelhart and I close enough to hear? If so, I'll come over expecting to see a hill of some sort.

Alexis Smolensk said...

After some searching by Engelhart, and Lothar moving over towards Aleksandra and Rowan, another similar stone is turned up (found by Engelhart) some sixty yards to the east of the first stone. This is a little shorter, a little stouter, and made of a darker fieldstone, but it has the same message on it.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

There ought to be at least one or two others, I search on.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Could these stones be radii of the barrow's entrance? If that looks likely, I cautiously head toward where the middle might be.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Rowan will spot a third cairn, Aleksandra ~ and this will seem to suggest that yes, these are stones forming a radii. How fast would you like to move towards the middle? In hexes per round?

Rowan said...

One hex per round suits me just fine.

Lothar Svensson said...

When I see everyone slowing down I drop my pack and quarterstaff next to one of the standing stones, unsling my bow and nock an arrow. Then I head towards the middle as well, matching pace with the others.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Yes, 1 hex/round. And I'll use my bo stick to probe the brush ahead of me as I go.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Rowan.

You see . . . a toad.

In height, it is approximately 4 inches tall, almost all white in color and covered with black splotches. It is sitting on a moss-covered rock, almost a foot above the ground, and seems to be looking at you.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

On seeing his companions tense up and focus their search, Engelhart, too, unslings his trusty hammer and his faithful shield and begins probing towards the middle, setting to meet up with Rowan at an angle and exchange some words. As he progresses, he sees Rowan stop in his tracks.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

This may be a silly question, but do the rest of us see the toad as well? Does the rock appear to be the same kind of thing as the other marker rocks, or does the moss obscure it sufficiently that we cannot tell?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Because the toad is quite small, and because I am presuming the party is still moving forward relatively spread out (though the exact distance hasn't be established, as the party DID move closer together at one point), I would say no to your question, Aleksandra.

I will rule that the party is moving in a line about 15 feet apart, or three combat hexes (in case anything should happen).

Rowan said...

Sorry, for the delay. Alright.

Rowan will bow shortly towards the toad.

"My friend, my band and I have come seeking the tomb of King Haffyred. Would you kindly show us the way in?"

If the toad does not respond relatively swiftly I'll begin casting Animal Friends, and will ask the same question, just with a bit more oomph to the suggestion.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: The temptation now to have the toad jump off in a random direction and lead the party on a completely fruitless chase nearly overwhelms me ~ but I will keep on as I meant to).

The toad makes no special movement.

Rowan said...

To confirm: the toad makes no special movement even under the casting of Animal Friendship?

Alexis Smolensk said...

To gently quote to make a gentle point to be accepted gently:

"If the toad does not respond relatively swiftly I'll begin . . ."

That is, I will begin. Will. As in, sometime in the non-determined future.

Not part of my role as DM to determine exactly when that occurs.

My role as DM is to wait for the player to say, "Oh, the toad does nothing. All right then, I cast . . ."

Present tense. As in, I am doing so, not I will do so.

Don't worry. This is a habit you'll fall into. It is a good habit and it will serve you well.

Rowan said...

Great, that's why I was double checking!

I cast Animal Friendship now. When the spell has finished casting, I'll command the creature to show us the nearest entrance to the barrow.

Rowan said...

Or, to solidify the habit.

When Animal Friendship is cast on the toad, I command it to show us the nearest entrance to the barrow.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Seeing Rowan do this, I slowly (.5hex/round) head towards Rowan.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The toad fails its saving throw (something you automatically sense as the spellcaster) and begins to obey your instruction, hopping off in a direction directly away from you. It does not hop particularly quickly, not moving much faster than you were moving as you had before finding the toad, but nevertheless sure and direct.

Within seven rounds, you see the stone lower walls of a structure, the walls being no more than four feet above the ground, and there being no roof ~ and just beyond you see the edge of a mound, some ten feet high and approximately 60 feet in diameter.

The toad passes the farmhouse and begins to move up and over the top of the barrow.

I will presume the party begins to converge on Rowan as this happens.

Rowan said...

I'll call for the toad to come back and call for the party to hurry forward, since my hold over the creature won't remain much longer.

At the end of one round, whether they hurry or not, I'll repeat the command to find the entrance to the toad and follow it up the barrow, spear in hand.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

I follow Rowan's lead, bo stick in-hand.

Lothar Svensson said...

I follow 15 feet behind Rowan, arrow nocked, but not yet drawn.

Gudbrand Andersen said...

I follow behind Rowan at a distance of 20 feet, sling in right hand and a bullet in the other.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: I wish I could reverse the order of the comments, so the most recent were at the top)

All of you go clambering up over the top of the barrow, until you get nearly to the other side, following the toad. When it stops, it is at a hole approximately two inches wide, apparently straight down into the barrow.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: That was quite the scene. I'm sorry I don't have a kobald or some kind of zombie for the party to slaughter)

Rowan said...

Ha! I'm going to assume I've got, at most, one round left of control.

I command the toad to show us the nearest entrance to the barrow that is large enough for us to pass through.

I will then follow the toad in that direction, and after twelve seconds of following the frog, check our surroundings.

"Perhaps I should have seen that one coming."

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

"I think we all should have seen that one coming."

I descend to the base of the mound and begin circling it, looking for the entrance as well.

About what time of day is it, Alexis? Is it still midday?

Alexis Smolensk said...

The toad does not move, Rowan, because apparently there IS no other entrance. That is the sense you receive as your spell runs out.

Aleksandra's search will not produce an alternative.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Would my bo stick fit in the hole?

Gudbrand Andersen said...

I thank the toad and also God for sending it. Then I get on my knees next to the hole. I put my nose ~ 6 inches away from the hole and sniff at it.

Rowan said...

Damn. I thought for certain it would start hopping towards the farmstead. I don't know why the druid would connect their house to a toad's tomb, but that's what I get for following tropes.

I will suggest we search the farmhouse before pressing further into the barrow. It might be empty, but that sounds like it could be for the best: after all, we'll need shelter before the return trip.

Lothar Svensson said...

Good idea. I search the farmhouse, or art least what remains of the farmhouse.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

I search the area around the barrow to see if there are any other structures or structure-like things.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Aleksandra, yes it would fit.

Gudbrand, you feel a breath of air emerging from the hole ~ there is an outward breeze, very gentle.

Rowan & Lothar,

A search of the farmhouse will reveal the foundation and lower walls of a structure about 15 by 20 feet in size, divided into two rooms, separated by an inner stone wall with a two-foot gap where a door would have been. The forward room has a pit in the center that could have been used for a fire; the rear room is 15 feet but only 5 feet deep, behind the back wall. There isn't much to find, but the floor of the rear room does present one mystery: the floor is one inch higher, built of calcified mud, with narrow rods of rusted bronze that can be seen just at the surface of the mud.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Your latest search turns up nothing but forest, Aleksandra.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

"Mayhaps one of these rods can be detached and made to fit into the opening?"

"I was certainly hoping to avoid having to dig the whole way in..."

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

I'll head over to the farmhouse. When I get there, I tap on the floor to see if it's hollow. I don't know if my secret door detection abilities are useful in seeing if there is something concealed beneath it.

Lothar Svensson said...

Now that combat is no longer an obvious threat, I run back to the standing stone where I left my pack and Quarterstaff, pick them up and bring them back to the ruined farmhouse. Then with my gloves on I begin carefully excavating the rods.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Good.

I have learned today that one of the cooks at my restaurant was fired by the owner today, causing the kitchen manager to then quit for reasons that no one fully understands (they weren't friends). At present, there are only two cooks employed by the restaurant.

As such, I'm going into work tomorrow, probably be there for a long shift. My apologies, all.

Things are going to move a little slower for a bit.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Lothar,

It will require a heavy tool of some kind to break up the calcified mud to free the brass rods.

Aleksandra,

Secret door detection is not a dwarven ability; in any case, there are no secret doors in the farmhouse. If there were, the mechanism would have rusted away centuries ago and the open space would be evident. The space under the floor does not seem at all hollow.

Rowan said...

That's alright, I'm still having a blast!

Speaking of: I'll assist in digging out those rods. Not sure what to make of that breeze just yet, but this will certainly be interesting.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Thanks. I do detect secret doors as an elf (part of my background), but that wouldn't change the outcome.

I go probe the hole with my bo stick, gingerly inserting it in and wiggling it about to see if the hole continues straight down or widens at some point near the surface (also to see if it is deeper than my 4' stick).

Rowan said...

Oh, damn, looks like my post came after yours, Alexis.

In that case, I'll stick my spear into the earth of the first room and untie my club, returning to use it to smash at the mud and try to break out those rods.

Alexis Smolensk said...

It seems probable, Rowan, that you will have to risk breaking your spear if you want any chance of breaking up the floor ~ and even that may not succeed.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Aleksandra, regarding the hole and your bo stick.

The hole is deeper than your bo stick is. Moreover, you can't help noticing as you work around the hole that the three stones immediately surrounding the hole are not mortared into place, but seem to fit there like three key stones might.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Key stones, like an arch?

And since I'm here by the hole, do the bronze rods look like they would fit in the hole?

Rowan said...

Let me clarify: the spear is being plunged into the earth nearby, not the mud.

I think I may have made a mental leap that the floor of the first room, with the firepit, was also earthen. If this is not the case, then I'll just discard the spear nearby in a corner of the firepit room.

The club is being used on the mud. I'm hoping that won't damage the club, but not concerned enough to stop smashing the mud.

Alexis Smolensk said...

They probably would, but the rods don't seem to be made for that purpose - and you haven't any sure means of removing one from the floor.

Alexis Smolensk said...

My error, Rowan, I did read that too quickly. What I said for the spear, however, would also go for your club. Your conclusion about the earthen floor about the first room was correct.

I am reading now that you have swung your club at the floor. Roll a d4.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Aleksandra,

Ah, yes, keystones like an arch - one that would be underneath you.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

With my stick, can I tell if the hole widens once one gets past these keystones, to the point where someone might be able to fit inside of it?

And how "loose" are these keystones?

Rowan said...

Roll on d4: 4

Alexis Smolensk said...

Aleksandra,

Moving the stick around seems to suggest the space under the hole is larger than the hole itself. The keystones are loose enough that one shifts up if you try to pull it vertically.

Rowan,

Your club does not break. No appreciable effect is made. You'll need a pick or at least a strong shovel.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Alright. I drop my pack by Rowan's spear, return to the hill, put my bo stick through my sash, shout "'Ware!" and then remove a keystone.

Rowan said...

I figured, but I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't try. In that case, while Aleksandra experiments with the barrow, I'll take this time to gather loose firewood from the surrounding forest, taking care to remain within sight of my fellows.

The spear has not come with me. This will drop my encumbrance, in case something happens, so that I'm back up to 4 AP. I'll be sure to double-check the maths on that if actual combat occurs and update my sheet accordingly.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I'm sorry, someone asked me what time it was, a long time ago, I think Lothar.

It is about 1 bell; 1 in the afternoon.

Aleksandra,

The keystone lifts out without resistance; it is, however, nearly half a cubic foot and about one hundred pounds. You're able to lift it several inches ~ and nothing gives around it, not in the least ~ but it is too heavy for you to get completely out of its hole.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Thank you, Alexis.

Would my bo stick function as a lever, or is it too fragile?

"Some help, here? I think a couple of us might do the trick."

Engelhart Askjellson said...

"Aleksandra, friend! Stay your heaving for this one moment, if you will!"

"If I'm reading the situation correctly, these stones (*points to hole*) may be all that is supporting the ceiling of a chamber over which we now stand! It might be dangerous to plug at it heedlessly so!"

Engelhart Askjellson said...

"I'll freely assist any attempts to lift the thing, but we'll need a safe course of action, for it is very likely to cause a collapse."

"All this, and we still haven't gotten a satisfactory confirmation on the rear room of the farmstead, one which, by our nature worshipper's account, could be expected to connect to the barrow."

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Usually keystones are held in place by pressure on their sides - since all three are loose enough to move, they are no longer structural (I think the dirt is now performing that function).

Certainly Alexis would have mentioned if my prying seemed to change the stability of the underlying structure in any noticeable way.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

Alexis: might these bronze rods configure the remnants, however recognizable, of a trapdoor or are they something else?

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

Indeed. Excellent question, Engelhart. In what shape are they arranged?

Lothar Svensson said...

It's going to take a mason to get through that dirt, I fear. We might be better served to return another day with better tools. Alas, to afford said tools, I think we shall have to pry the top off of the barrow and lower ourselves in. Does anybody have rope?

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

I have 100ft of twine, but it only supports 96lbs. It's possible that we could braid it into a thicker rope that would support more weight. Depending upon how deep this hole is, though, we may not need it.

I think the first order of business is to remove one of these keystones to see what we're dealing with. Volunteers?

Lothar Svensson said...

I help lever the keystones up and away from the hole.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

I'm still holding for a more detailed description of the flooring on the farm ruins. After that is cleared, I'm your man.

Rowan said...

To confirm, since it's been a while since my last post, I'll be watching everyone's efforts with the barrow while I collect firewood from the forest nearby.

I will drop whatever I collect in front of the farmhouse when they appear to have gotten the entrance open.

Gudbrand Andersen said...

(Once again I learn something through Alexian D&D. Spent some time this morning reading about arches and from there on to vaults and other bits of architecture. Lovely.)

"Alexandra, if we cut your twine we could make three equal lengths and twist them into a 33-foot rope. Then we wrap part of it around a stone, play out the rope, then a few of us haul the keystone out of place. What do you think?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: the good news is that I'm not working tonight. The bad news is that it came at the cost of a ten hour shift today. I'm beat. I'm just going to catch up the game and then get some rest).

Aleksandra, your bo stick is too fragile. It will snap.

Engelhart, it does seem that the keystones no longer have pressure upon them. All three are able to move freely and you detect no movement of the barrow. Aleksandra is right: I would have mentioned that his prying seemed to change the stability.

Regarding the bronze rods: they seem more to serve the function of modern rebar in cement, strengthening the floor.

In shape they are arranged, Aleksandra, as parallel rods from side to side of the room, each about five feet long, across the narrow dimension.

Lothar is right, it does seem to be something that it will take a mason to break, or at least better tools.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Lothar, you succeed in helping Aleksandra lever a keystone out and onto the top of the barrow, next to the hole. The other two keystones don't shift, but they seem loose as well. If one other one is pulled out, the third keystone is sure to fall into the hole.

The hole, with all three keystones removed, will be about the diameter of Engelhart's waist.

The entrance is at least partly open, but the floor below cannot be seen in the daylight; the hole as it is would be approximately 7 inches in diameter.

Rowan said...

I suggest we lower a torch down, get a good look before we open it any farther and alert anything that could be inside. It's unlikely that anything is living in there, but if opening the seal triggers some sort of crypt-thing, or if at some point the barrow was penetrated by tunnelers, we'll be better off knowing what's ahead.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

I concur with Rowan's plan, and if we gain no new information, I will pry up the remaining keystone (with some help).

Also, Alexis, I use she/her/hers (as does Aleksandra).

Gudbrand Andersen said...

I agree with Rowan's plan to lower a torch.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

I ask to borrow someone's steel something and light one of my torches, lowering it down into the hole.

If it cannot reach deeply enough to provide meaningful illumination, I tie my twine around it and lower it that way.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

"Whatever we do, the important thing is that we do it during the day."

"Only the Lord knows what we may be letting loose upon the world."

Alexis Smolensk said...

Let me start a new post; the comments number on this one is getting high.

Let me also just say ~ there will be times when the amount of work necessary to move the campaign forward quickly won't be there. I just happen to be in a time like this just now. Work is going very well for me; I'm treated with terrific respect, the owner and I chat quite amicably (he told me today he is 100 pages into Pete's Garage and really enjoying the book) and I am in great stead with the front staff and the other cooks.

It is only that the physical aspect of the job is a challenge for me; I just noticed the other day that I am developing a rippled stomach! This is the first time I can remember having such a thing since I was in my mid-20s. I haven't weighed as low as 225 lbs. since I was about 30. 100kg to the rest of you.

The restaurant is going through some heavy staff changes, however ~ yesterday, we had only two cooks for a restaurant with 30 tables. Today, we have three ~ spent a lot of today training the new fellow. As such, I'm working much longer hours that what got me down to 225, so I'm legitimately worried right now about an injury or my aged old body stupidly having a stroke or a heart attack. I am in the age range, but thankfully I don't drink, I have never smoked in my life and I have never done drugs ~ just percocet for two weeks, when I broke my tendon in 2008, and codeine for a similar time in 1983, when I had a bike accident that left me bed-ridden for six weeks. Didn't get addicted, didn't even want to.

But please do not worry about me, do not feel that I'm drawing back. I'm just tired.

Let's just keep moving forward.

Aleksandra Ivanovna said...

I think I speak for all of us when I say that I know how committed you are to this game (a great deal) as well as being aware of (some of) the daily stresses that you face. I am glad that you are in a good work environment, and I hope that you continue to stay healthy.

I look forward to the new post! Onwards we go.

Lothar Svensson said...

Indeed, take all the time you need. I'm happy to hear the people you are working with are the kind that can be gotten along with, it certainly makes a tough job easier.

And onward!

Engelhart Askjellson said...

Glad to hear that things are turning around for you.

No worries about the lot of us, I'd sooner have you employed and on the mend than with a bustling game on your hands.