OD&D in-character thread

Dumarest

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The town of Buzău perches on the eastern bank of a broad bend on the River Mihsoori. A large stonework bridge of forgotten age spans the river. As the sun sets, men, elves, dwarves, and hobbits from the mining camps at the eastern fringes of the nearby Wildwood filter into town in rival groups to get drunk and wild and spend their earnings from the prosperous harvest of Spice-wood, which it's said can be alchemized into a medicinally-valuable sopofiric, and Ofanto-wood, the hard yet workable material favored in the manufacture of luxury items far down the river to the South where it's said the people are civilized and have time to sit in salons and wax poetic while snorting various intoxicants. The loggers are a rowdy lot but the townsfolk of Buzău put up with them because of the gold they infuse into the local economy. Without the loggers, the town would likely shrink into a hamlet supporting a few local farms and it's unlikely one inn would do enough business to remain open in Buzău, let alone the two that are currently starting to overflow with boisterous braggarts and friendly fistfights.

And yet...only a few leagues to the west, past the Wildwood, up the Steep Road, beyond the Fungus Garden of Guadalquivir, lurks the baleful and brooding Weirding Wood. It's rumored that even at high noon, it is dark within the Weirding Wood. Some say it's merely the result of the dense forest and canopy blocking out sunlight; others say it's an unnatural darkness that emanates from something within the wood itself. It's said that if one is bold enough to venture upon the Spoorwalk, the only known path into the Weirding Wood, he will come upon a great ancient citadel that lies deep in the heart of the Weirding Wood--the Citadel of Nahr al-Kalb--a crumbling structure of massive stones overgrown by tangled vines and weeds, yet not completely abandoned. There are tales told of strange flickering lights by night, not to be dismissed as mere fantasy or will-o'-the-wisp. There are those who say the old stones are haunted by malevolent spirits of an ancient and wicked religion dedicated to the worship of the Old Gods, gods of evil who are infuriated at having been forgotten and left by the wayside. Some even say they have seen strange cloaked figures skulking about the citadel by torchlight, or they have heard wailing from within. Every now and then it's said that a logger or group of loggers dares to venture into the Weirding Wood in search of the treasures of Nahr al-Kalb, yet if so, none has ever returned richer for the effort. None has ever returned at all. Some blame wandering goblin bandits--others wish it were something so simple as that.

No one in the Inn of the Golden Pheasant casts a second glance at Balin of Iron Hall, Aldon the Elf, or Ray Lane as they sit at a small wooden table near the entrance--the motley populace accepts all races and backgrounds as long as their gold is good. Between the three of them they reckon they have but 49 golden crowns. Unfortunately for the trio, Buzău is a frontier boom town and entertainment and lodging is at a premium. Ale, wine, and whiskey cost far more than they should. Food costs even more. Lodging, forget it. And the ratio of male to female is such that even the ugliest, fattest, foulest-smelling serving wench can depend upon generous tips no matter how terrible her service. Morals are lax in a frontier town where menfolk outnumber womenfolk by 10 to 1, and "service" can mean many things. 49 golden crowns will not last long here. The innkeeper, a wiry old one-eyed hobbit called Lester, wouldn't have it any other way as he rubs his hands together near a hot brazier at the center of the large room and surveys his clientele, his eyes misting over with delight as he calculates his profits and sucks on a briar pipe. He's friendly enough--as long as you can pay. But when your pouch is empty, so is his heart and it's out to the street with you, likely as not on your ear after being tossed by one of his oversized, brutish "doormen." The room is smoky and crowded and so loud with garrulous camaraderie that one has to shout just to be heard over the din and clatter.

[Feel free to ask questions, invent your own backstory as to why you're here, etc.]
 
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Doc Sammy

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Raymond Lane, known to most as Ray and to his closest friends as "Layaway Ray", could not believe how expensive the goods and services were in this small frontier town, and just to make sure of his finances, he counted out the coins from his own personal coffers.

"Fourteen crowns. Fourteen fucking crowns is all I have to my name. Even when thrown into the pot with my comrades, the three of us are still barely scraping by. We need to find some work around here if we want to stay, even if it's just a few small odd jobs or a quick favor here or there." he said to his two traveling companions.

Ray sipped from his small cup of red wine, it was a cheap and low-quality vintage, but it was a sweet wine and that was all that mattered to him. The brown-haired young warrior preferred whiskey and other distilled spirits, and he utterly hated the taste of ale or beer, but there was no way he could afford a shot of whiskey in this particular joint. But Ray did like sweet wines and cider, and so he settled for the next best thing.

As he took yet another sip of wine, Ray felt a little more energetic and peppy, perhaps he was starting to get buzzed and he turned to Aldon and Balin with a wide-eyed smile on his face.

"So guys, I have an idea that is like totally crazy but also kind of awesome. What if we go into that weird forest that the locals talk about and try to strike it rich? I know it's quite a long shot, but I think we might be able to make some serious bank if we can find that treasure or citadel or whatever the fuck is supposed to be at the end of the path in those woods."
 

Dumarest

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...just to make sure of his finances, he counted out the coins from his own personal coffers.
Layaway Ray notices a pair of shifty-eyed, bedraggled, red-bearded dwarves squinting at the coinage gleaming in the torchlight from a nearby booth built into the exterior wall of the inn. They speak to each other by way of a couple of curious hand gestures called Dwarfsign, the meaning of which is a closely-kept secret known only to their fellow dwarves.

(Layaway Ray has heard tales of how the dwarves use Dwarfsign in their subterranean work to avoid unnecessary noises that might cause a cave-in or collapse at older or weaker mines. Likely these dwarves were once miners.)
 

TheophilusCarter

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Aldon is generally interested in anything that might lead to more gold, and he's especially motivated to get out of town for a while. That whole thing with the pastor's daughter was really just a misunderstanding, but some people won't listen to reason ... "Sure, Ray; that sounds like a swell idea. Balin, what do you think?"
 

Dumarest

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As Balin of Iron Hall contemplates his answer, the troupe of traveling elvish minstrels in a far corner finishes tuning up. A singing lutist, a flautist, and two tambourine-shaking elf-maiden singers, one soprano and one contralto, both spilling ample cleavage from low-cut dirndls, perform a rousing rendition of an original ballad tailored to the louche and lusty clientele of the Inn of the Golden Pheasant:

Down in Buzău where semen does flow,
The serving wenches work for a golden crown a blow.
There lived pretty Isabelle, the girl I adore,
My free-fucking, cocksucking lumberjack's whore.

Isabelle the trollop, the girl I adore,
The pride of Buzău Town, the lumberjack's whore.
She's addlepated, she's unwashed, she's on her knees on the street,
And whenever you see her, she's always in heat.
She'll do it for a golden crown, take less or take more,
Isabelle the trollop, the lumberjack's whore.

One day in the Weirding Wood, no pants on her quim,
A wolfhound saw her and slipped right on in.
She swallowed, she fainted; it tickled down there,
She had a ball with its barks and grey hair.

Isabelle the trollop, the girl I adore,
The pride of Buzău Town, the lumberjack's whore.
She's addlepated, she's unwashed, she's on her knees on the street,
And whenever you see her, she's always in heat.
She'll do it for a golden crown, take less or take more,
Isabelle the trollop, the lumberjack's whore.

Next day in the Weirding Wood, while riding along,
My seat in the saddle, the reins on my dong,
Who should I meet but the girl I adore,
Isabelle the trollop, the lumberjack's whore.

Isabelle the trollop, the girl I adore,
The pride of Buzău Town, the lumberjack's whore.
She's addlepated, she's unwashed, she's on her knees on the street,
And whenever you see her, she's always in heat.
She'll do it for a golden crown, take less or take more,
Isabelle the trollop, the lumberjack's whore.

I got off my camel, I reached for her crack,
The damn thing was growling and biting me back.
I unlimbered my short bow; I aimed for its head.
I missed the damn wolfhound; I shot her instead.

Isabelle the trollop, the girl I adore,
The pride of Buzău Town, the lumberjack's whore.
She's addlepated, she's unwashed, she's on her knees on the street,
And whenever you see her, she's always in heat.
She'll do it for a golden crown, take less or take more,
Isabelle the trollop, the lumberjack's whore.

Her funeral procession was twenty leagues long,
With a chorus of lumberjacks singing this song;
"Here lies a young maiden who'll fuck us no more,
Isabelle the trollop, the lumberjack's whore!"


The rambunctious crowd bursts into applause and laughter and you hear the jingling of many coins landing in the scratched and battered lute-case of Pizarro Glittergreen, an elf-bard renowned more for his gin-blossom nose and ability to consume vast quantities of alcohol than for his compositional skills.
 
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TheophilusCarter

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"Now that's my kind of music," says Aldon. "Hey, Balin: you hungover or what?"
 

Bunch

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Balin shakes his head. 'I should have known better. The only people who make money in these kinds of town are suppliers. Everyone else is chasing a fools game! ' he shakes his head at the various spirits everyone is imbibing. 'Guys don't drink your moneu away. How many times do I have to tell you we need to build up capital to invest in a business.'. He drinks his simple cup of water and frowns. 'Ok let's check this Forest out. Maybe the wood there is special or there's a mine we can lay claim to.'.
He tries his best to make out what his fellow dwarves are saying in dwarfsign.
 

Dumarest

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Balin of Iron Hall interprets the Dwarfsign of the red-bearded duo as:
"We need gold. The man-child has coin..."
"Aye, perhaps we can roll him..."
 

TheophilusCarter

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'Guys we need to get out of here and for the gods sakes please stop showing your coins!' he whispers to the others
Aldon is nothing if not prudent. "Right! Let's move." He gathers himself and prepares to leave, hopefully with his two companions close at hand.
 

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Fortunately your table is near the entrance and the main hall is crowded; as you make your way to the door you see the red-bearded dwarves abruptly rise to follow but the mass of bodies blocks their attempt to make a beeline to the exit. They inadvertently knock over a serving wench toting steins on a tray to a pair of armwrestling lumberjacks, the latter of whom take great offense at the waste of ale. The larger lumberjack lifts the leading dwarf off his feet by the root of his beard and tosses him into a group of tipsy, heavily-tattooed hobbits playing a most dangerous game of indoor mumbletypeg. One hobbit draws his poniard from the floorboard where it was thrust and threatens the big lumberjack with it. The last thing you see before you exit the Inn of the Golden Pheasant is a wooden stool being lifted and thrown across the room. So, a night like any other in Buzău!

Outside, high in the sky hangs an enormous Strawberry Moon signaling the start of summer. The air is warm and humid and has the scent of rain soon to come. Crickets chirp and a dog howls. The street, so-called, is dirt and gravel with deep ruts from wagon wheels. A stone's throw to the west is the bridge across the River Mihsoori; to the north stand various businesses: the blacksmith, a general store, a tobacconist, the assayer's office, the livery stable, and so on; just south stands Lester's competition, the Brick Hearth Inn, and the Temple of Dalälven, the god of luck and wealth, which nearly no one visits except on holy days; to the east lie scattered homes and farms.
 
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Doc Sammy

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Ray knew something was up when he saw those Dwarven miners eyeing their table and making weird signs to each other, and heeded Balin's advice to leave the Golden Pheasant Inn, especially as the whole tavern seemed to break out in a brawl.

Though he had to admit, he did love that bawdy song that the Elven minstrels were singing.

Walking alongside Aldon and Balin, the brunette adventurer turned to his Elven and Dwarven compatriots and asked "So, what do we do now? Should we head on into those weird woods right away or find another place to rest and make further preparations? I'm cool with either option, so long as we get out of this awful over-priced logging town!"

Looking at the various directions around him in the street, Ray speaks once more.

"I think we should head east into the countryside, perhaps there's a shortcut to the woods or maybe a friendlier town where we can find some quick work or cheaper amenities."
 
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Doc Sammy

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Just FYI, the woods are to the west, across the river:
(Whoops, my bad. I must've misread the post. Oh well, Ray might want to head east anyway before he heads back west into the woods!)
 

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"We should take stock of our supplies," suggests Aldon, "and figure out if we need anything more before we hit the road." He counts the rather small number of coins in his pocket and wonders if his comrades are any better off ...
 

Doc Sammy

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Ray immediately checks his backpack and takes count of what he has on his person.

"Currently have a small crossbow, about thirty bolts for it, my trusty sword and shield, a full canteen of water, fourteen gold crowns, along with some leather armor and the clothes on my back!"

Looking both ways, the young man asks "So, should we head westward across the bridge and directly into the weird forest or head eastward to try and earn some extra cash and stock up on more supplies before heading deep into those spooky woods?"
 

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Balin adds 'I'm well equipped for a dungeon or a fight but poorly set for overland travel. A tent and flint would be right handy but alas something I forgot to pack. Either of you have shelter or fire?'
 

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"I don't have much more than my weapons and armor" says Aldon, who realizes he's not a very practical person sometimes ... "I'd hate to go into the woods without all the right gear and some decent provisions, so maybe we should try for some extra coin and supplies first."
 

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Ray nodded in agreement and felt relieved to find out that he wasn't the only one who was ill-equipped for the trip into the woods.

"Now that I think about it and given our lack of camping gear, I say we head east into the countryside. Should be some farms and homes that could give us shelter on these summer nights, and maybe we can find directions to the nearest eastward town or see if the farmers have any gainful employment for us."
 

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Balin nods. 'Perhaps we can find an honest employer who'll trade hard work for a tent and flint. But I'm not going to hold my breath qaiwait for it in this country." He says disappointed in himself.
 

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As the party proceeds east, the crunch of boots on gravel fades as within half a league the road becomes little more than a wide dirt path with deep ruts from wagonwheels. Visibility is no problem under the full moon and within another half a league you can make out the neat rectangles of farm fields on either side of the path, hemmed in by wooden fences or, occassionally, low stone walls. Here and there a scarecrow stands as a silent sentinel watching over the fertile fields. The scent of garlic, onion, tomatoes, and parsley wafts across the lane and you can see careful rows of carrots, potatoes, and lettuce. Cornstalks and grain crops grow taller than Layaway Ray's head. Farmhouses and barns can be seen beyond low gates, at the ends of smaller paths on either side of the main road. Distelfinks and holy signs are painted on the broad sides of the barns for good luck and to ward off evil spirits. Up ahead, unexpectedly, you see a small throng of countryfolk with torches and pitchforks surveying the wilted crops in what appears to be a cornfield ruined by blight. Voices are raised in argument.
 

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Aldon frowns at Balin's suggestion of honest work, but inwardly resigns himself to the possibility ...
As they spy the small throng, he turns to his companions. "Hey, this looks interesting. I'm going to go chat with them. Want to come along, or do you think it's better for one or both of you to hang back to save my bacon if I need it?"
 
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Balin starts to puts finger to his lips as he looks at the others and crouches down.

He whispers 'Ill hang back.'
 

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That's good enough for Aldon. With Ray in tow, he steps forward to meet the mob. "Greeting, noble comrades! A fine night for a walk, no doubt! If I might be so bold: what is it that seems to trouble you all?"
 

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The group of about a dozen farmers seems taken aback, so involved were they in their discussion that they didn't notice your approach. A grizzled elder, who seems to be their self-appointed spokesman, looks you over first skeptically, noting your armor and armament, and the suspiciously says, "Ye be no farmers from these parts: who sent ye? Be ye hired swords of that witch what cursed me corn? If'n ye are, I ain't afeared o' ye an' ye can tell yer mistress I ain't got the gold to pay her an' she can burn in the pits o' the netherworld afore I'd pay her even if I had!" He spits on the ground at your feet. "So says I an' so says we all, right, lads?" His companions grunt and growl and angrily shake their torches and pitchforks. They seem to have taken you for mercenaries in the employ of an enemy. "Off with ye!" The old man shouts.
 
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Dumarest

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A very rough map of Buzău and environs:
20180826_181817.jpg
(Also posting to the out-of-character thread.)
 

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"Of course, good sir," says Aldon, backing away cautiously. "I wish you the best in your current difficulties." With that, he returns to Balin, and fills him in on the upshot of the conversation. "I've got to admit," he adds, "I'm curious about this situation. Once we're in town, perhaps we can find out more about this 'mistress' and the situation here. Sounds like there could be some coin in it ... "
 

Dumarest

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The farmers tighten their circle, more circumspect now, and speak in low whispers. Their hostility seems more fearful than angry, and each in his turn betrays himself with an anxious glance down the road.
 

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Ray speaks up to the villagers and decides to back up Aldon.

"I assure you we come in peace, and if there's any problem you may have, perhaps we can offer our services and help? If there's a witch or some other monster terrorizing your crops, rest assured that we can take care of it. Name's Ray Lane, by the way."
 

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The farm elder seems on the cusp of an irritable response when a younger, balding man with prominent buckteeth gently grabs the older man by the elbow to stop him. "I'm Ned Applewasher and I can speak for the community, including Mr. Hamish here." The older man shoots a glare Ned. "It's no secret that we could use some help. Now, then, Mr. Lane, what sort of services do you and your elf-friend offer? But perhaps we shouldn't talk of such things abroad in the lane. Why don't you come along to my house if you don't mind a sip of cider and cold ham and mayhap we can come to terms."
 

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Ray's eyes lit up at the sound of having a sip of cider and he immediately followed the bald man.

"Well, Mr. Applewasher, I would gladly sit down and discuss our services over a nice cup of cider!"
 

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If Balin sees the others starting to walk off he'll run to catch up saying 'Gah damn boots. Keep getting rocks in em! Where we off to Ray?'
 

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"So there's three of you, eh? Didn't see you back there," says Applewasher. "Well, if two heads are better than one, I reckon three are better than two."

He shakes hands with most of his neighbors, who then depart to their respective homes, leaving Applewasher and Hamish alone to direct you by torchlight past a rough-hewn wooden gate up a broad dirt path leading to a modest farmhouse with large wooden doors set in rather low doorways, such that a tall man should stoop to avoid hitting his head on the frame. Inside a wood-panelled drawing room tastefully decorated with antique farm implements mounted on the walls, he gestures for you to sit at a long oaken table warmed by the crackling blaze from a brick hearth.

His wife, a jandiced-looking woman wearing a drab knitted shawl and a matching brown snood, appears from a doorway that obviously leads to the kitchen, if the scent of smoked meats is anything to judge by. Applewasher asks her to bring five steins of cider and five plates of smoked ham glazed in honey and brown sugar. When the food and drink arrives, Hamish tucks in without so much as looking up, let alone saying a word of thanks.

"You saw Hamish's blighted cornfield," Applewasher begins.

"'Tain't natural," Hamish adds between bites before wiping honey glaze from his chin onto his sleeve.

"It's witchcraft," says Applewasher, "and we aim to put a stop to it by any means necessary."
 
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Balin asks Hamish 'Whatid ya do to the old bitty to arouse her ire? Spurn an advance or make one?'. He chuckles at his own joke ignoring Hamish's reaction.
 

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Ray gladly sipped on a stein of cider as he listened to the farmer's complaints.

"Witchcraft, eh? Sounds pretty serious. Don't worry about it, we can handle it. I'll find this witch and take care of her myself! With a little help from my two friends, of course."
 

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Balin nods and mumbles 'if he calls me little one more time I'm gonna kneecap him.'
 

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"All we know for certain is that her emissaries come from the east," says Applewasher. "Every full moon they turn up from that direction to collect payment against the threat that the witch will destroy our crops and farmhouses. You saw what happens if we come up even a little short as we did tonight. Last month some of our boys trailed them as far as Sink Hollow, but lost them in a cavern complex. We're sure that's where they hide out. We haven't seen the witch in person but we've felt her vile necromancy. They say her name is Zulema the Depraved and she worships devils and shades who grant her great power in return for her obeisance."

"Don't know what good a sword will do!" Hamish grunts.
 
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