[IC] Ynn by way of Knave

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Link to OOC thread.

Our intrepid heroes are are London ne'er-do-wells living in a British Empire that occasionally faces French necromancers, Austro-Hungarian undead and the odd incursion by Things From Outside. They handle it all with true British grit and, of course, Dr Gatling's marvelous invention. :gunslinger:

Right now London isn't a healthy place for them to be seen, so they're lying low in the care of their old mate Horseshoe Bill Wickham, former bareknuckle champion of East End and current head gardener to Lord and Lady Glencoe of West Farthing. He got them all no-questions-asked jobs working on the Glencoe estate grounds and in return he keeps half their wages. It could be worse: he has a still set up in one of the outhouses. The booze may not be good, but there's plenty of it. He's promised to show them how he won his title if they steal from the house, but there doesn't appear to be much to flog anyway. The Glencoe forturnes are at a low ebb. Apart from the PCs and one halfwit from the local village, all the servants are in their fifties or older. It's dull here. Very very dull. Until early one morning...

A bellow from the shrubbery brings everyone in earshot running. The last time Colonel Glencoe was caught unawares by the magnolias, it took days for the house to settle down. This time the colonel is leaning on his cane and gesticulating at a door in the brick wall that wasn't there yesterday, while his unflappable butler Brunton looks on. "Blasted fairies. If they're after the chickens again, I'll give them a taste of rock salt!" The colonel brandishes his duck gun, which has the effect of overbalancing him. He begins a slow topple sideways until Brunton puts out a steadying hand and pushes him upright again.

"--there you are, Lily. Your dog's just jumped through there, little bugger. (Pardon my French.) Look at it. 'Ynn by way of Colonel Glencoe's shrubbery'. How do you say that -- 'Yin'? 'In-in'? 'Yibberty-gibberty'? People will think we've had one of those Italian architects redo my mother's garden! They'll think we're... fashionable." The way he says 'fashionable' ought to curdle the air itself.

"Calm down, Wallace," Lady Glencoe pleads. "Think of your problem."

"Lily, I am perfectly calm. I've never felt more calm than I do right now!" His face is bright red and a vein throbs in his forehead.

"You don't even like Montmorency," Lily adds.

"I feed that mongrel m'dear, and that gives me the right to detest him. I won't have bloody fairies, excuse my French, swanning in here and abducting him without so much as a by-your-leave. It's a liberty, is what it is!" He swings around to face the gathered servants. "A pound note and a pint of ale for every man who'll step through that door and fetch the blasted dog back!"

The PCs are given free reign to plunder the great hall for ancestral armour and young master William's fencing gear for weapons. Cook sullenly puts together a package of sandwiches for you each. Bill mentions that if you manage to bring back a live fairy, he knows a sideshow promoter who'll pay top dollar to take it off your hands. You step through the portal and see...

Neat rows of garden beds, with straight brick paths separating them, enclosed by high brick walls. You're alone here, it's just you and the plants. No sign of Lady Glencoe's dog. There's evidence of birds -- all the high spots have had nests built on them and the paths are liberally splattered with bird crap. There are none present at the moment. Each row of plants has a sign on a stake giving their name and date of planting in a neat cursive hand, along with either medicinal, non-medicinal or culinary. There are several squat brick buildings with barn-style doors.

Gambon and Flim -- some of these plants look very similar to herbs you've worked with in the past. If you take the time to examine them closer, you might learn more.
 
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Gambon chuckles a bit

"A pound note for finding some mutt? We're too lucky by 'alf and no mistake. Old codger 's probably bumped up the price on account of there being faries here, what nonsense"

Curious from his previous profession he bends down to look at some medicinal herbs. He also has a look around to see how far away the end of the garden is to put some limit on their task.
 

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Flim helps Gambon investigate the plants.
 

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Axel stood for a few moments taking in the sights and smells of the garden. During his many years at sea, fruits and vegetables were uncommon companions, with scurvy a constant risk for crews spending weeks at sea. So he peered with curiosity at the variety around him, but, not knowing what any of them were, he refrained from touching anything.
 

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"A pound note for finding some mutt?
OOC: No kidding. I wrote that because it seemed like a nice round number, but a bit of research shows it's about three weeks wages for a skilled London laborer at the time. Does the colonel even have the money?
 

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It looks like it's the same five plants in repeating rows.

The first one is unfamiliar, but it's marked with a culinary label and it smells good. The thought of tucking into a plate of stew or a meat pie seasoned with this actually makes your mouth water a little. If you could get some back to West Farthing, you'd certainly be able to find a buyer for it.

The second is marked medicinal and it's a common herb used in horse racing circles. Mix some of this into a tired old screw's feed and it'll run like a yearling, with no ill effects. (+1 STR).

The third and fourth, marked non-medicinal, are also very common in horse doping racing. They function as paralytics. (D6 turns, CON save to negate.)

The fifth is also marked non-medicinal. You haven't seen a plant quite like it before. It has intensely bright green jagged leaves, and a bitter smell. A bit of experimentation in a properly equipped lab would probably allow you to figure out its effect, but it's not possible with the gear you have on you.

The rows have clearly been untended for some time. Most of the plants are wilted and yellowed. If you take cuttings, each of you you will be able to harvest D6 samples from each plant. Your collection will take 1 inventory slot per plant.

While you've been browsing the rows of plants, a trio of green rats have appeared. For the most part, they've just been watching you. Occasionally breaking off to scuffle with each other or devour a worm or snail revealed by your fossicking, but mostly studying you with the same intensity you've been studying the herbs.
 

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Rats. Oh, Axel had seen his fair share of rats in his time. On ships, docks, in cheap taverns and flop houses. But he couldn't rightly think he'd ever seen a green one before, let alone 3. And as they had no apparent fear of people, Axel bent down for a closer look...
 

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As Axel bends closer, the rats scamper back to what they consider a safe distance. They don't seem especially bothered. One pauses a moment to scratch behind an ear with a hind leg. Mossy fibres drift away from the claws instead of hair.

It doesn't seem like they're going to voluntarily get within range for a close examination. It's always possible you could trap one.
 

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I store some of the +1 STR herb. Could we use the paralytic herb on our weapons?
 

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You manage to harvest 4 doses. You have 2 slots free.

Yes, if you bruise the leaves, they give you a milky sap that makes your fingertips numb.
 

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Gambon takes some clippings of the paralytic herb (got two) and some of the culinary herb as well (got four).

"Great smell off this stuff!"

He looks at the exchange between Axel and the rats.

"Green rats? Something in the garden they've eaten, never seen the like myself"

He stands and walks to the nearest brick building to have a look in the door.
 

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Gambon takes some clippings of the paralytic herb (got two) and some of the culinary herb as well (got four).

He stands and walks to the nearest brick building to have a look in the door.
There are two separate paralytic herbs, so you could make a second harvest if you want.

Looking inside the building probably counts as moving the action forward, so I'll keep to the schedule and delay until tomorrow before addressing that.
 

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Axel watches the rats as they stay just out of reach. He remembered the time one of his crew mates found one in his hammock. The sleepy beast was so surprised it bit him square on the nose, which proceeded to swell up to the size of a turnip. 'No', he thought to himself, 'maybe best not...' Particularly as he didn't like turnips.
Seeing the others stuffing some of the herbs in their pockets, he grabbed a couple of handfuls himself.

OOC: 1 each of STR and culinary.
 

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Axel managed to pick 5 of STR and 2 culinary.

Gambon peers inside the door of the nearest building. The interior is dim, lit only by a couple of high grills on the wall, and smells of dust. Inside is a row of workbenches with assorted glassware and oil burners. There are a series of chalkboards hung on the walls, each showing a variation on a recipe involving the herbs outside.

From his herbalism work, he knows that a strength herb cutting can be eaten, in which case it takes 10 minutes to develop an effect but lasts for a full scene, or distilled into a potion filling one inventory slot, which takes effect immediately and lasts for D4+2 combat rounds. The distilling process takes long enough to (potentially) trigger an event or encounter.
 

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Gambon peers inside the door of the nearest building. The interior is dim, lit only by a couple of high grills on the wall, and smells of dust. Inside is a row of workbenches with assorted glassware and oil burners. There are a series of chalkboards hung on the walls, each showing a variation on a recipe involving the herbs outside.
'Interesting...' he thinks to himself '...no dog there, but might have a bit of a rummage later'

He moves onto the next building to have a look.
 

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The next building contains several large vats of wine (turned, unfortunately) , some dusty glass wine bottles that look like they've never been used, and some thoroughly dessicated baskets of the strength herb. In here the chalkboards show different concentrations of the herb to use in bottling.
 

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I carefully look around and then search the second building’s floor for any secret doors.
 

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Axel joined the others, marvelling at the drawings and descriptions on the chalkboards. He tried to read a couple of the recipes but found some of the more complicated terms beyond him and gave up.
Instead, he blew the dust off a couple of empty bottles before slipping them into his coat pockets.
'Any, mmmm, sign of the... dog yet?' he called out.

OOC: could I fill a bottle with oil, and is there anything lying around to light the burners?
 

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I carefully look around and then search the second building’s floor for any secret doors.
There are none to be found. The floor boards are secure by wooden pegs and all the wood has shrunk as it dries over the years. You can easily look between them and see nothing but dust. The boards would probably be relatively easy to pry up if you had a use for them.
 

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Axel joined the others, marvelling at the drawings and descriptions on the chalkboards. He tried to read a couple of the recipes but found some of the more complicated terms beyond him and gave up.
Instead, he blew the dust off a couple of empty bottles before slipping them into his coat pockets.
'Any, mmmm, sign of the... dog yet?' he called out.

OOC: could I fill a bottle with oil, and is there anything lying around to light the burners?
You could fill the bottle without trouble. The burners have buttons that click some kind of internal flint. You could try taking one apart with an INT saving throw vs 15.
 

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Axel took the opportunity to siphon off a little oil into one of the empty wine bottles. Next he tried prying the front off one of the lighters, but couldn't quite extract the striking flint from within.

Nonetheless, happy with his new acquisition, the wiry sailor went to join his companions sifting through the piles of debris.
 
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Axel took the opportunity to siphon off a little oil into one of the empty wine bottles. Next he pried the front off one of the lighters, and carefully extracted the striking flint from within.

Happy with his new acquisitions, the wiry sailor joined his companions sifting through the piles of debris.
Unfortunately, Axel's efforts to remove the burner's flint damages the striking surface and all he can extract are fragments. He has a better idea of how they're put together now, and if he makes a second attempt he can get a +2 bonus from what he learned.

(Incidentally, you have two slots of herbs, one slot of oil-filled wine bottle and one slot of empty wine bottle, which by my count gives you one empty slot left. I figure a flint is too small on its own to take up a slot, but if you prefer to say that it's somewhere about your person instead of occupying a slot, it'll take a full turn to retrieve it in combat.)

At this point the three green rats you saw outside earlier scamper into the building and head for the darkest corner, hiding among the bottling equipment. There's a rhythmic rustling sound from outside. If you peer through the door, you can see a caterpillar bigger than a dray horse crawling through the plant beds, leaving a scuffed trail of broken stems behind it. it's sniffing through the herbs, ignoring most of them but occasionally pausing to suck the greenest leaves in through a set of mouth parts that could easily wrap around a human limb.

It doesn't seem to have noticed you.
 

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Gambon creeps away from the door in shock and crouches.

"What in the hell is that?" he whispers with an exaggerated expression.

"We wait, until it decides to bugger off"
 

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Axel stood gaping beside Gambon. 'It's like the sea serpents my da used to tell me about when I was a nipper' he said quietly. 'This is a queer place and no mistake. I hope it hasn't eaten the dog!'.
 

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The caterpillar pauses and raises its head to sniff the air, bobbing several times in your shed's direction. It resumes its grazing progress, but while before its path meandered back and forth, now there's a distinct trend towards your hiding place.
 

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'Errr, I'm not sure I want to stick around if that thing fancies more than leaves' said Axel. 'How about we look somewhere else?'

OOC: can we outrun it or sneak past it?
 

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"I agree, bloody hell where's that thing from? And what's it like as a butterfly!"

Gambon takes a closer look at the tracks.

"And it's heading this way, I'll try and slip past her"

Gambon attempts to creep out the door when the caterpillar's head is turned and make it to the next brick building.
 

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@Longfingers: It's got no obvious eyes. How hard could it be? :devil:

@Séadna: You roll +DEX to creep to the next building and get 17. The caterpillar rolls +WIS and gets a natural 20. (Ouch. Bad luck.) You're in the open and it starts undulating towards you, picking up the pace as it approaches.
 

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Gambon feels his heart beating in his mouth with fear and runs for the third building as fast as he can. Should the door be locked, out of irrational terror he attempts to smash the window and jump in.
 

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I watch hidden in the doorway with my sword drawn, if the creature gets close enough to attack I will rush out and hit it from behind.
 

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OOC: does it appear to 'see' Gambon or might it be reacting to vibration or sound? Try the old favourite trick of picking up something (a decent sized rock or lump if debris) and lobbing it in a different direction to see if there is any reaction.
 

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Gambon - it's a pursuit now! You roll 15. The caterpillar rolls a natural 1. It fails to reach you before you reach the third building. The door is not locked (phew) and inside you find sundry gardening tools.

Flim - the caterpillar passes within easy move range of the bottling shed. Seeing Gambon outpace it, do you still want to attack?

Axel - the caterpillar flinches momentarily as the debris lands, but continues inching (or maybe yarding) towards the gardening shed where Gambon takes refuge. You roll an 18 towards puzzling it out, and you're pretty confident it's working off a combination of vibrations and smell.
 
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No I hold off attacking.
 

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Gambon searches the third building as quietly as he can to see if there is anything beyond the garden tools.

Afterward he decides to take a peek outside the window to get a look at the garden. Looking for how many buildings in total there are and if any look especially different to the others.
 

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OOC (again!): as Axel is suspecting that odour plays a part in its senses, does the caterpillar appear to have a preference for munching on a particular type of plant or just cutting a swathe through the garden?
 

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I watch the creature carefully from the shadows seeing how likely it is to wander off.
 

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Gambon: Soon after you close the door behind you, there's a scrape from outside and something presses against it so hard the wood bows inward. It relents after a little while, but you hear slithering and something blocks the light through each of the grills one by one. They're about five feet off the floor, by the way.

Various rakes, hoes, forks, shears, sacks, stakes, string, and a bag of manure dried to the point of being nearly odorless. There are three buildings total, so you're in the last one for exploring.

Axel: You can see that it wove back and forth through the culinary herb, and the one that was hard to identify. It ate some of the strength herb, but it had a preference for the other two. It avoided the paralytics completely.

Flim: It shows no sign of losing interest.
 

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Gambon feels quite frightened at this point.

He heads to a window again, trying to see is there a path to another section of the garden or is this area with the beds and brick buildings the total of the place.

"Alright Gov, let's see if I can head somewhere else" he says afraid of what he might see.
 

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OOC: Heh, life in hands time...

After a moment of furrowed brow concentration, a determined look came to Axel's face. This creature wasn't giving up and while it was here, the chances of finding the dog and claiming their reward was about the same as finding Captain Jack Harvey's treasure.

Tiptoeing to a patch of the herb he'd been told made you go numb, Axel began picking handfuls of leaves and rubbing them over his shirt and breeches. Noting his hands becoming insensitive, he stuffed leaves into his pockets, throwing out the ones he'd previously acquired. Satisfied his clothes were well coated in sap Axel stepped towards the huge worm and shouted 'oi, over here!' while stamping his feet in an attempt to attract its attention.
 

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Gambon sees a path to another area. It wouldn't be too hard to make it, at a run. Of course, you'd need some kind of distraction...

Axel successfully gets the caterpillar's attention. It waves a couple of mouth-tendrils in your direction, then undulates slowly over. It lays a couple of exploratory tendrils on you, which flinch back instantly when they discover what you're coated in. Now it seems frozen by indecision. There are tendrils straining towards the pocket you've stored your samples of the culinary herb in, but it's not risking the paralytic to get to them.
 
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