Tunnels & Trolls : The Isle of Darksmoke pbp

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Gringnr

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TnTIsleDarksmoke.jpg
Check out that Michael Whelan cover!

Featuring:

Silverlion Silverlion as Midnight Cloudbite, Fairy Wizard

Stan Stan as Sally Stonewall, Dwarf Warrior

Dumarest Dumarest as Bravo Holesquatter, Hobbit Connoisseur

Bunch Bunch, as Rublehead the Unwise, Human Warrior

Tulpa Girl Tulpa Girl, as Bera Ashegart, Dwarven Warrior
~and~
Zala Whitfoot, Hobbit Rogue




BACKGROUND OF ZIND AND THE ISLE

The Isle of Darksmoke lies in the T&T world known as Zind. Zind is a marvelous, colorful
world, many many thousands of years old. The main continent of Zind is called Hylax and, as
continents go, it is a small place. Hylax is surrounded by many islands, the remnants of what
were once other continents, now long vanished in a series of world-razing cataclysms. There is
another land mass large enough to be considered a continent, but it is spoken of as a fearsome
place - a land of monsters and multiple forms of agonizing death to which no sane being would
wish to travel. This baneful continent is known by many names, but its chief appellation is ''The
Wicked Shores." Zindian parents often tell their children that they will be sent to the Wicked
Shores if they are not good little tykes.

Zind, as worlds go, is a pleasant enough place, having settled more of its mundane
problems some centuries ago. There is an occasional rattle of sabers for war, and a warrior
tradition is maintained. However, it is adventuring that is the most popular avocation of bold
Zindians, both male and female. incidentally, females on Zind are equal to males in all respects.
The differences that do crop up are differences of social training and deity-given gifts:
intelligence and dexterity and charisma and the like. The quivering princess of fantasy fiction
may appear on Zind, but in like measure you will find the bold female pirate, the sword-swinging
lady samurai and the cunning rogue miss, all as adept as any of their masculine counterparts.
Like any good fantasy world, Zind has its fair share of elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, etc.
These not-quite-human races mingle fairly freely with their human brethren, and race prejudice
is reserved for the likes of ore, troll, and goblin - usually with fairly good reason.

The governmental system of Zind is fairly loose, a kind of laissez-faire feudalism that very
seldom disturbs the normal routine of the folk that inhabit Zind. The most powerful ruler of Zind
is Lord Hongon AxBrow, Master of the City of Beal, the largest city of Zind; Beal is located in the
center of Hylax. Lord AxBrow's chief rival (and all-around thorn-in-the-side) is Captain-Lady
Crystal, formerly a pirate-queen, who now rules the port city of Meltabar on the GhoulFinger
Peninsula in the southern area of Hylax. The Captain-Lady hasn't the armies to match AxBrow's
on land, but her fleets control the seas. Since so much of Zind's economic stability rests on trade
between Hylax and the outlying islands, Crystal has a good foundation from which to thumb her
nose at the grim Lord Hongon (something she does at every opportunity). Numerous other
Lords, Ladies, Pashas, Margraves, Duchesses, Princes, Princesses, Barons, Chieftains, Counts, etc.
inhabit Zind, wielding power in small, fief-like areas.

Technologically, Zind is somewhat backward for a world so old, mainly because the world
is magically rich, and magic is better than machinery any day of the week. This does not mean
that some measure of technology does not exist in isolated pockets - it simply means that, on
the whole, Zind is a sword-wielding, magic-oriented world where even a flintlock pistol would
be something of a wondrous find.

Zind has its share of wizard guilds, secret societies of rogues and assassins, fighting
brotherhoods, and the like. Religion, on the other hand, is a take-it-or-leave-it kind of commodity,
and most Zindians prefer to put their faith in what they can see and hear and hack away at with a
yard of good Typhanian steel. .Gods, devils, demons, and the like do exist, but the common citizen of
Zind is content to let them do so without letting it concern them overmuch. This fact of Zindian
existence tends to make moral codes between the kindreds somewhat relative: what is "sin" to a
Dwarf of the Mewling Hills might very well be a virtue to the Elves of Forlan Mak Evra.

Where the lore and legend of Zind is concerned, the name of the warrior-wizard
Darksmoke is definitely high on the scroll. As his name implies, almost everything about him is
darkly mysterious, and in truth, very few can make certain, certifiable statements about his
existence. Indeed, it is a moot point whether Darksmoke actually does exist as a physical entity,
since legends have mentioned him for somewhat more than 600 years. It is known that agents of
Darksmoke appear frequently all across the world of Zind and that his hand touches many an
intrigue of power and strife. Visitors to his perilous Isle are frequent, and their reasons for doing
so are widely varied. The most luckless of such visitors are the bold adventurers of Zind who
seek to uncover the mysteries of the Tunnels in the Mountain, under the great Dome. Most of
these never return; those who do are often worse for the experience. Now and then some
particularly enterprising group does survive, but even such as these continue to speak the name
of Darksmoke with trembling respect.

The location of the Isle of Darksmoke is no secret. It is on the charts and quite accessible, as
long as those who approach it do so without war-like intent. (The last such expedition, a small
warfleet of Captain-Lady Crystal's bent on taking the Island for their mistress, now sails the far
reaches of the Crushing Sea as a ghost fleet). The Island is surrounded by an encircling reef which
permits a vessel entry at only one place.



SPECIAL RULES AND STANDARDS

For the GM running the Isle of Darksmoke, there are some specialized rules for use by the
GM and the players. The special rules follow.

1) Rogues: Rogues may pick locks on doors, chests, etc. by making a saving roll on Dexterity at
the level of the lock itself. [NOTE: also applies to "Connoisseurs"] [NOTE 2: GM may or may not disclose the level of saving roll needed - you may just be instructed to "chuck dice"]

A rogue gets one try at making the Dexterity saving roll to pick a lock. If he fails, he fails for
good - he simply cannot pick that particular lock, although a different rogue could try and
succeed. Any lock a rogue picks once he can automatically pick thereafter.

7) Cold-Conking: Occasionally a party will feel it necessary to knock someone unconscious
without seriously harming them, such as when a party member goes berserk.

To make a knock-out, the person doing the bashing (with sword hilt or axe haft) must first
be in a position to do so - usually behind the person to be conked. Also, a very short character
shouldn't try to knock out a very tall one. The victim must make a Saving Roll on Constitution at
the attacker's level, i.e. a 3rd level fighter tries to knock out a panicking 2nd level rogue ... the
rogue must try for a 3rd level roll on CON. If the victim makes the saving roll, the cold-conk fails.
If the victim misses the roll, he or she is stunned and unconscious for 1d6 combat turns.

A rogue who is attempting to bash someone causes the victim to make the roll a one level
higher than the rogue's level (since rogues are adept at such things).

[There are, of course, more, but only these seemed appropriate to share]



AND SO WE BEGIN ...


For three weeks, you six adventurers have traveled by ship from Meltabar. Three long weeks. The passage, though cramped and uncomfortable (and the vessel itself of dubious seaworthiness) has cost 21 gold pieces for each member of your party (even the Fairy, if you can believe it). Plus 3 more for each horse. But at last, the ship has reached the solitary dock on the Isle of Darksmoke.

Darksmoke! The name has been careening around in your brains since you first heard the tales. Those who told them were drunk, or mad, or perhaps just superstitious. And, while none of them had been there, you figured that every rumor must hold some kernel of truth. Surely there was something of value on Darksmoke. Trade ships came and went, emissaries brought tribute and took gifts (and perhaps even orders), adventurers sought gold and glory - but that last type seldom, if ever, returned.

No matter. Pickings had been slim in Meltabar of late, and the competition for jobs had become fierce. A buyer's market does not a happy seller make. If there are riches to be had on Darksmoke, why should you not have them?

From the sea, you could see the strangely domed, low mountain. Darksmoke! At least this much of the legend was true. Perhaps, even more...

You collect your adventuring gear and disembark, as the crew begins offloading goods, perhaps for trade or sale. The dock, though large and sturdy, is obviously quite old. There are no buildings nearby. The rocky sand ahead gives way to overgrown sand reed, through which the well-travelled scar of a dirt road runs. It stretches before you, beckoning you further from the sea, and closer to the ever-present dome. A crude wooden sign nailed to a shoulder-high (for a man) board bears the messily painted words: "Village 6 Miles".

The late morning sun is very warm, but the misty sea breeze makes the temperature bearable, if somewhat sticky.

Not far away, there are two wagons, pulled by oxen. The drivers appear to be waiting for passengers, and one looks inquiringly at you. He is a brown skinned, lanky man, wearing light, comfortable-looking clothes and a broad-brimmed hat of woven fronds. The other driver, an elderly fat man in a light robe, begins chattering back and forth with the boatsmen in a language you've not heard before.
 
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Dumarest

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As Bravo Holesquatter disembarks the ship and surveys the docks and road, he thinks:

Well, I'll be damned, that voyage by ship was certainly cramped and decidedly uncomfortable. How dare that captain lump me in with the others? Clearly he has no discernment and hasn't a bloody clue where his own interests lie! More's the pity! Had he but the insight of a flea on a dog's bottom he'd have gone into business with Bravo Holesquatter. He provides the ship, I provide the nous that brings in the coin.

Had he but seen me at Gravedigger's Theatre, aye, and the seats filled with the flabby rumps of menial drudges starved for the least bit of entertainment, why I daresay he'd have begged me to take a 51% interest in the endeavor! What execrable luck. And his ship being of the most dubious seaworthiness at that! I'd have been doing him a favor! Blind fool. I hope his ship capsizes and sucks him down a whirlpool to the bottom of the ocean. Someday I'll spit on his grave.

The Isle of Darksmoke, eh? Surely there must be a way for a man of perspicacity to make his fortune in this godforsaken place. Why else these traders coming and going? But these foolhardy so-called "adventurers," you'll never count Bravo Holesquatter among that lot of gnat-brains. Ah, well, if there be coin to be gleaned on Darksmoke, why should I not be the one to grasp it in my very own hot little hands? Ah, but danger surely lurks. I shall surround myself with these "adventurers," after all even a fool has his use!

What's this now? Wagons? Hmm, perhaps a bargain can be driven to share the cost of a ride and spare my feet from unnecessary exertion...or better yet, perhaps there's a way to ride free!
 
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Stan

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With her modest gear in her pack and her shield on her back, Sally thumps off of the ship, her legs a bit shaky after the long trip. She gives Bera a friendly nudge. "I don't know about you but I could really use a beer. Let's get to walking."
 

Tulpa Girl

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With her modest gear in her pack and her shield on her back, Sally thumps off of the ship, her legs a bit shaky after the long trip. She gives Bera a friendly nudge. "I don't know about you but I could really use a beer. Let's get to walking."
"I could definitely go for some mead, if it by chance it's available here," Bera responds as she gets on her mule. "Failing that, a beer or three would be most agreeable."
 

Bunch

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Rublehead grins at the thought of beer. "Ya! Beeeeer"
 

Gringnr

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"I could definitely go for some mead, if it by chance it's available here," Bera responds as she gets on her mule. "Failing that, a beer or three would be most agreeable."

OOC, are you bringing both Bera and Zala, or are you keeping Zala back for a replacement?
 

Tulpa Girl

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OOC: given my recent propensity for getting characters killed, I figure I might as well have a backup already in play, so yes, playing both Bera and Zala.
 

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As she climbed up upon her riding pony, Zala turned a brief, sideways glance at Bravo - if that was indeed his real name. She was used to her kin back in the shire she grew up in looking down on her, but at times he seemed even worse, thinking he was better than everyone. She would be keeping a wary eye on that one, she would...
 

Silverlion

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"Typical, shaft the fairy for the extra coin because I'm going the same place as others...as if I didn't take up less room than some of the weapons they carry. Ah well, at least we didn't wreck." He says mostly to the other adventurers as they disembark. "I'm Midnight, as you well know by now, and at last I'm glad to have air with less sea spray to soak my clothes, so I can take my owl ahead and find an inn if you want some rest and food on land before we go forward, but I'm really here to be your winged wizard of gloom and darkness!"
 

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Sally waves Midnight over. Her common is still not great. "Yea, that crap. We should have snuggled you on. Been same. Go fly, I share beer with owl, as same."
 

Gringnr

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The lanky wagoneer lifts an arm to his head and wipes his brow with his hand, pushing his hat back on his head as he does so. "Any of you lot fancy a taxi to the village?" he asks. Without waiting for the answer, he turns his attention to a large rowboat nearing the shore. "Never mind", he says dismissively to you all, as he goads the ox past you, and towards the rowboat's likely landing spot. The fat ox-cart driver continues his conversation with the seamen, seemingly oblivious to any potential customers.

For the first time, you see a Trabaccolo, its sails and anchors down, half-hidden by a large rock formation jutting up from the water. It is a smallish vessel for its type, but seems far newer and sturdier than the creaking, leaking, stinking wreck that carried you here. It flies a flag with a hawk-and-lily crest - the emblem of Morbelos! But the gold fringe on the pennant's edges, as well as the boat's pristine and polished condition, mark it as the vessel of some official, or perhaps even a nobleman, rather than a commercial craft.

Indeed, there is a figure in the boat who bears the trappings of wealth and station. Watching impassively as four brawny servants paddle the smaller craft quickly to shore, he looks disdainfully at the island, seemingly at the very dome itself.

It is said that Darksmoke has but one narrow channel, permitting a single ship at a time through a passage in its jagged and deadly reefs The rest of the island being sheer, rocky cliffs, unapproachable by sea). Who knows how long this official-looking conveyance has been here?

As the rowboat reaches the shore, the taxi driver approaches, offering to help the obviously wealthy new arrival. He is brusquely motioned away by the man, and aged and stern-faced individual who is obviously used to "better company". The crew of four muscled oarsmen carry the man to a dry spot of sand, sparing his finery (the gold-threaded crimson robes of Morbelosian nobility) contact with the sea. Then the menservants, or bodyguards, for they look to be both, help him into the ox-cart, along with two small travel trunks.
 
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Dumarest

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Ah! What have we here? There's a potential client if e'er I saw one. But first let's see what we can do to avoid needless toil and fatigue.

"My dear comrades and traveling companions, as the loom of circumstance has intertwined the strands of our respective fates, so should we seek mutual advantage. To wit: if we ride rather than walk, mayhap we can negotiate a group rate and offer the carter an all-or-nothing proposition should he decline a fair and reciprocally favorable business proposition. Thus we shall find strength in solidarity. What say you all?"
 
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Silverlion

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"He said we all should ride in the cart for a hopefully cheap ride." Midnight tries to clarify. "I'm going to head and get us inn rooms if anyone has a horse and wants to go now."
 

Tulpa Girl

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"He said we all should ride in the cart for a hopefully cheap ride." Midnight tries to clarify. "I'm going to head and get us inn rooms if anyone has a horse and wants to go now."
"Yes, let's get a room where the floors aren't rocking back and forth all night," Bera says, prodding her mule to movement. Zala follows along momentarily on her pony.
 

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Midnight laughs at Sally's comment as his owl lifts off, "I don't think they meant forever, just for the night."
 

Gringnr

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No hurry, but am I to understand that the party is OK walking or providing their own transportation? Except possibly Bravo, of course.

The fat driver has noticed that his lanky counterpart is loading up his cart with what has the potential to be a handsome fare. The latter fellow is moving hurriedly, making every attempt to accommodate his new passengers. His calf-length pants and loose white shirt are becoming wet with sweat, as well as sea air. Once the trunks are secured, everyone has piled in, there appears to be room for one more on his cart. The portlier taxi-driver, looking perhaps to salvage some income, puts on a very fake smile and ambles his cart towards Bravo, calling, "Hey-ho, little master! Would you like a ride to the village? A mere 5 gold gets you a ride in this luxurious, state-of-the-art wagon", he says, pulling a corked ceramic bottle from under his seat, "drink service included!" He then pulls the cork out with heavily stained teeth, spitting it out at his feet. He quaffs deeply, brown liquor running down his chin. Then, with feigned and belching courteousness, he offers the bottle to Bravo. "Shall we seal the deal with a toast, little master?"
 

Gringnr

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just to be clear, I'm not trying to railroad anyone to accept a ride in the taxi, or not. It's really up to you. I just read my post, and it looked like I might be trying to railroad summer all of the party. I can assure you, that's not the case. Of course, maybe none of you were thinking that at all. And if that's the case, carry on.
 

Stan

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ooc: Sally is broke so is walking and I'm guessing those with mounts wouldn't need a ride.
 

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To the fat driver he replies, "Frankly your opening price is an insult, my good man, for it implies you take me for a fool; I haven't the time to haggle with you even were I so inclined, for even if you came down to a reasonable rate and were able to see upon which side your bread was buttered--nay, even if you begged me to ride for free as a means of advertising that you have moved up in the world and cater only to a most select and preferable clientele--I have urgent and profitable business I must attend to elsewhere."

Quel dommage! thinks Bravo as he trudges on foot, unwilling to spend what little cash he has on hand to pay for the luxury of a ride.
 
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Stan

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Sally looks back. "Sorry Bravo. I can give you a ride." After a few moments, she pats her back.
 

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Sally looks back. "Sorry Bravo. I can give you a ride." After a few moments, she pats her back.
"I fear, milady, it would most ungentlemanly of me to accept; additionally it would surely insult one of these strong-backed youths to be seen as so unchivalrous that they would let a lady carry me upon her back when surely a real man would not feel the burden in the least," replies Bravo, all the while discreetly hoping perhaps his words will inspire someone else to carry him. "I would hate to be the cause of such shame for these strapping young men. Word could unfairly travel far and wide that men of these parts are ungallant."
 

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Sally nods along talking the words entirely seriously. "Ah. Good point."
 

Gringnr

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To the fat driver he replies, "Frankly your opening price is an insult, my good man, for it implies you take me for a fool; I haven't the time to haggle with you even were I so inclined, for even if you came down to a reasonable rate and were able to see upon which side your bread was buttered--nay, even if you begged me to ride for free as a means of advertising that you have moved up in the world and cater only to a most select and preferable clientele--I have urgent and profitable business I must attend to elsewhere."

Quel dommage! thinks Bravo as he trudges on foot, unwilling to spend what little cash he has on hand to pay for the luxury of a ride.


The driver, all pretense of civility disappearing from his face in an instant, makes a presumably obscene gesture at you, then hoists the ceramic bottle to his mouth again. He means his head back and drinks deeply, a shake of the reins goading his ox onto the path toward the village.
 

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Quelle bêtise! Bravo rubs his head and remarks, "Well, at least you've confirmed my theory that violence is the first recourse of the blinkard anserine."
 

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Turning towards the trail, you see to the west the unnaturally dome-shaped top of Darksmoke , the mountain named for the legendary - and possibly even real - Warrior-Wizard said to have built his fortress there. It looms in the distance, as if expecting you.

The group sets out along the sandy trail. Though not difficult, it is winding, and the sand giving beneath you makes for a slow trudge southward. After a mile or so, you can see to the west a thick coastal forest. To the east, it remains flatter and rockier.

Before long, the lanky driver passes, gently prodding his ox. As they pass, the burly porters/bodyguards fix you with a stare of cool appraisal. While the noble(?), a man with thin, ratlike features, looks at you with obviously unfeigned curiosity.

A short while later, the fat driver follows suit with his empty wagon, bottle of rotgut still nestled in one ham-hock-like fist.

The journey by foot is boring, humid and uneventful. Still, there is an occasional breeze that makes it not-too-unpleasant. After a bit, perhaps a third of the way, the rocky sand of the east surrenders to the forest of the west, and you find yourself on a path that is lined on both sides by dense and forbidding-looking woods. Though you may take comfort in the fat that the treeline is set back from the path, perhaps 50 feet on either side, some might consider it unnerving. The foliage is very dense, and it seems unnaturally dark beneath the canopy. Birds and beasts can occasionally be heard, and sound normal enough, and yet strange and unfamiliar at the same time. Darksmoke is always visible.

After several hours, you see in the distance what is unmistakably a village. It is mid-afternoon, and the sun has been beating relentlessly on you. As the forest engulfed the trail, the breeze could no longer be felt, and the trees were too far from the road to offer any shade.

Opening up ahead of you, as if to release you from its grasp, the woods give way to a clearing, upon which squats the village.

You see before you several huts of varying size and shape. Most appear to be residences, made of stone and wood. Further ahead, along the trail you just walked, there is a corral holding several oxen. A few carts are lined up nearby, and there is a small, squared, wooden building there as well. The two ox-cart drivers stand in front of it, talking and passing the bottle back and forth. A few larger Square-cornered wooden structures stand to either side of the trail. The largest of these, abtwo-story building of about 30 feet by 100 feet in size, runs parallel to the trail, and to the east. A smaller one sits opposite it, to the west, also running parallel. Further south, near the end of the village, and past the end of the trail, you see another largish ( for the village, anyway, perhaps 12 feet by 20 feet) building perpendicular to the other two.

In total, the village is perhaps 400 feet by 200 feet. At a glance, it seems to have a dozen or so residences, and perhaps half that many shops and the like. These latter are made of some combination of stone, brick and wood and most have signs posted or hung.

A few trees persist between the buildings of the village. Ahead of you now, thanks to the twists and turns of the trail, Darksmoke stands over the village like a hungry giant.
 
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Gringnr

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Several of the locals are moving about the village, some tending to small gardens near their huts, others going in or out of the local businesses. A few sit in front of their domiciles, watching the approaching party with a mixture of bemusement and caution...
 

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Sally looks around trying to figure out which of the buildings might be a bar, tavern, or inn. If she finds one, she heads for it.
 

Silverlion

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I'm looking for an inn, or other places to rest before we make plans to explore. (Midnight aloud) "Impressive size of this place, make half my circling in cities look positively gigantic."
 

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Sally looks around trying to figure out which of the buildings might be a bar, tavern, or inn. If she finds one, she heads for it.

I'm looking for an inn, or other places to rest before we make plans to explore. (Midnight aloud) "Impressive size of this place, make half my circling in cities look positively gigantic."

The largest building, on the east side of the trail, appears to be an inn. The sounds of merriment (or at least drunkenness) can be heard from within.
 

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Rublehead looks about for anything familiar to him. A farmer, maybe a general merchant. He hasn't stayed in inns much but he's gone to them once in a while for a drink.
If he sees a farmer he'll strike up a conversation about the weather and how crops are around here.
 
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