A maid comes up to you in the castle. "Sirs, there's a man at the door," she says.
Go to see him.
There is a man standing just outside the door of the castle. You recognize him as the first courier, the one who Thorir didn't throw in the dungeon. He looks up when you open the door and approaches you, leading his horse. "Good sirs and madames," he says, "may we speak in private?"
"I have been sent by His Majesty King Jacob V. He is considering acknowledging your lordship over this town; however, I'm sure you understand, but His Majesty cannot simply acknowledge every man who overtakes a town!" (laughs) "That would be chaos and anarchy, chaos and anarchy. But you noble personages have proven yourselves, in helping protect the gem from those vile cultists. The King has offered you this opportunity to prove yourselves and become lords of the land!"
He expects the group to be amazed.
"The Tower of Magi to the north has recently come under attack from those selfsame vile cultists. If you drive off those cultists and rescue the mages from the tower, then His Majesty will acknowledge you as lords of the land!"
He hands over a map. There is a clear route drawn on it to the tower. You notice that you are the nearest town to the tower, and that if you do not go save the mages, they will likely receive no help in time.
You walk into the tavern. A filthy man in the corner dressed in rags is buying everyone rounds on the house and flashing a lot of gold all around. He winks as you walk in. "Get this (man/woman/child) the best damn whiskey in the house! We're partying tonight!" he cheers.
At the bar, a woman dressed in rugged armor is shaking her head. "I can't believe how fast he hit! I had him up against the ropes, and all of a sudden he hit faster than ever before!"
Sitting at one of the tables, a man stares angrily into his drink. As you meet his eyes, he scowls at you. If they address him: "Hit and run, did she? Stupid thieves. Can't believe how quick she hit. Just--there and then gone! And gone with all my gold!"
A caravan pulls into town. The townsfolk are holding a festival; the town is decked out in flowers and garlands, all the shop signs are repainted, everything is fresh and vibrant and beautiful. Street vendors stand here and there, offering their wares, be they food or trinkets; a sign welcomes the caravan into town. The town's mayor is standing on the stage, giving a speech of welcome. Everyone seems excited and interested. Even the caravan members are happy to be here, and smile and nod along to the mayor's speech.
However, their smiles seem a little forced. You notice that the members of the caravan look haggard and dirty, worn out from something or another. The wagons and carts themselves are worn as well, with nicks and divots in them. Some of the horses look just about exhausted and ready to keel over.
You notice a few arrowheads pointing out of the carvan here and there, and one of the wagons looks slightly singed. In fact, now that you're looking closer, some of the men in the caravan are injured, and many--no, all of them--are holding weapons of some kind, though most of them have made some effort to conceal them.
A man and a woman walk up to greet Andrea while the others are busy. "Where's Kyuuske?" the woman asks.
"He's been avenged," Andrea replies boldly.
The two exchange a glance, then nod solemly. "Senza?" the man asks.
Andrea shakes her head. "I'm in charge," she declares, somewhat solemnly.
The pair seem taken aback, but then the woman laughs. "Hence the call for reinforcements," she says. The man smiles a bit as well. After a beat, both sober. "We'll pay our respects," the man says, "and join you in a moment."
You return to the town, passing by the castle and the knights' training grounds, which is now empty, thanks to you. The town is bustling and busy, people hurrying around everywhere. You smell freshly-baked bread; garlands are being strung through the town. Everyone seems to be excited about something. The townsfolk quiet down as you pass through the town, clearly nervous about your presence and bloodied weapons and armor. However, even this does not seem to dampen their mood for long; once you pass by, the excited chatter starts up again.
A pair of swordsmen are facing each other in the center of town, each holding a wooden sword. One stands tall and proud, a hand on his undrawn sword and an eye on the other man; the second man is half crouched, eyes narrowed but body loose. A circle of townsfolk has formed around them, some clenching money, others excited. As you watch, the first man steps in, faster than lightning, and strikes, only to be parried by the second, who dodges backwards. The townsfolk cheer.
One woman in the corner shakes her head, a hand on her chin. She seems very displeased with the way these two are fighting. After a moment, you recognize her robes as those of a tactician.
One villager stands out in front of the others and is cheering louder than the rest. His eyes are locked on the swordfight, and though the others fall quiet when your party approaches, he doesn't appear to notice and continues to cheer loudly.
Here we are, in the castle. What do you want to do?
Okay, as you move around the castle, you notice a thick-doored keep. Inside you find a pile of the local gold currency and a few books, not unlike the books you found earlier. There's about enough gold for each person to take 5k in gold.
if take books
Roll perception. Low: it's a book explaining how to join the Grimma's Truth cult. You don't get much more from it than that.
Mid: It's a book explaining how to join the Grimma's Truth cult. Inside you can see some of their rituals laid out, though none of the rituals are complete, save for one that will summon a follower of the cult to recruit you, if you are 'true of heart, and believe earnestly in the truth of the next world.' It seems that this cult is primarily aimed at revitalizing the country through the dark arts, and suggests that the weak and downtrodden serfs should rise up, join the cult, and help them overthrow the corrupt crown so that they might create equality amongst men.
High: Same as mid; you also notice that it's pretty propaganda-y. There's a brand towards the back of the book that looks somewhat familiar; maybe a mark made by a publisher or such. In addition, the name Grimma seems familiar.
Return to town.
End of first battle: You knaves may have bested me, but you shall bow before the might of Lord Kovoth!
Puzzle one: Behind the boss, you find a door with a combination lock. You find 5 symbols on the lock: a raven, a wolf, a snake, a bear, and a fish. There are three slots total in the combination, and each one has the same options.
Below the lock is a scrawled note: "check behind the doors for the new combo"
Door one: to the left, if you examine the door/wall, you see scrape marks in a semicircle out from the wall, leading away from what appears to be a bookcase. If you try the books, one of them opens the bookcase outward. Behind the bookcase a wolf is scratched on the wall.
Door two: in the center of the room, there are marks in the dust from where the rug has been moved. Under the rug, you find a fish scratched on the stones.
Door three: most of the staircases are dusty, except for one which has footsteps up/down it. At the bottom is a door that leads to a blank wall. Behind it is scratched a snake.
Enter wolf-fish-snake = door opens. You walk into a dark alley. At the end, you see light, and hear people moving around, armor jangling, etc. If peep out, you can see the armies and choose party comp before you attack.
Second boss: as he dies, just laughs. "Sure, you beat me, but you'll never get past our lock!"
Third boss: as they appear: "Why now? Another three days, and the fire emblem gem would have been mine! Immortality would have been within my reach!"
As he dies: "My work ends here, but our glorious purpose has not been, and will never be, defeated! All glory to Senz'anima!"
If follow the men in robes: As they run away, they drop a tome. However, they have a head start and get away. You see them mount horses and ride off along the northern road.
If they pick up the tome: You find a lot of information about this god and his blood sacrifices. Some of them are fairly grim. One of them involves one of the gems in the Fire Emblem; it is used in a blood magic ritual that corrupts the gem in order to offer the ritual's caster immortality. At the back of the book you find a very rudimentary map of the town and the northern forest. An arrow points northward.
You walk out of the town and along the northern road. Before long, you find yourself surrounded by forest. Pull out the forest map and have the characters walk along it. The trees are tall and cast deep shadows, so that walking along the road leaves you in a perpetual semi-twilight. At one point, roll perception. If succeed, you notice that the forest has suddenly gone quiet, that all the birds and animals have fallen silent, and hear something that sounds almost like a footstep; you have the chance to set up your characters in formation before the attack. If not, you're surprise-attacked and your characters are wherever you put them on the map.
Final boss yells out something to the effect of "You can take me down, but you will never reach the castle!"
After battle, the boss drops a rudimentary map of the forest, with an arrow snaking through it as though along a path . A perception check determines if they can recognize this part of the forest on the map. From there, they should move towards where the arrow is drawn. If they walk over the part where the arrow is drawn, before or after they get the map, roll perception to see if they notice the cobblestones of the road. They then follow the road along towards the castle.
The castle looms out of the forest, a run-down wreck of what was once something magnificent. Despite its state of disrepair, it still stands several stories tall. Its stones were once pale but have been stained by age and wear into something darker. Ivy climbs over the face of the castle, and a tree sprouts out of the top left corner. The castle gates, oddly enough, look new; they are strong, dark-painted iron, and locked shut. As we approach the gates, roll perception again as we are ambushed once again; same as before in success/fail.
When the enemy boss dies, he shouts "You scum shall fall before my master! Kovoth the Necromancer is more powerful than you can imagine! Your deaths will serve as stepping-stones to our immortality!" He drops the key to the castle when he dies.
Will do more on castle later.
Courier route: You approach the man on the horse. He seems slightly taken aback and glances after the townswoman who's just run off, but nonetheless puts on a bold grin for you. "Good day, sirs and madames," he says, sweeping his hat off his head and giving you a small bow. "Could you tell me the state of yonder castle?"
Conversation ensues. Courier should be somewhat closed-mouthed about his true mission, though he does seem very interested in recent news about the lord, the lands, and the ones who have taken the castle. If the characters successfully threaten/persuade him into revealing his true mission, he tells them that he was sent by the king to determine if the lord was still fit to rule but is nonetheless very polite towards the 'new rulers' and offers them every good wish to continue their reign. Further threatening can get him to reveal that the king will likely not approve of their rule, though persuasion will not lead to him revealing this. Get a point for each successful threaten/persuade action.
As they part from the courier, have them roll perception. If successful, they hear as he mutters something to himself about having to hurry back to the boat in the east to inform the king about these 'uncouth upstarts taking over the lord's lands.' If fail, then they feel as though that conversation went very well. The courier rides off to the east.
If fail perception on whole party, one of the townsfolk comes up to them and says, "Wow, it's brave of you to let him go. You know, the king hasn't let a new lord hold land in decades."
Party chases after courier. You'll have to describe the boat battle to me in more detail before I can progress this route further.
You walk into the tavern. It's noisy and rowdy. People are shouting back and forth, knocking tankards together; beer is flying, the wenches are getting groped; everyone is smiling and having a good time, but especially two tables to the left. The men sitting at those tables seem discheiveled and uncouth, and are flashing more gold than their attire suggests they should have. "The west road is as good as a goldmine!" one of the men shouts as he quaffs his beer.
Sit down: You sit down. The barwench comes over to take your order. As she's on her way back, she gets grabbed by one of the men at the rowdy table and forced to sit on his lap. She is very obviously uncomfortable, getting groped against her will, and additionally, your order is not going to happen.
Approach the rowdy tables at start/go to rescue barwench: If approach tables at start, you watch one of the men capture a barwench as she passes by, as you walk towards the table. From here, the same. The man looks up. Conversation ensues. Might have a small fight/conflict which can be avoided by characters rolling stats. If talk out of conflict, they get a point in persuasion/threaten depending on how they accomplish it. If fight, then break out into barmap fight--or if no barmap, have the man 'take it outside' and have an outsidemap fight. If fight, grinding can happen from there as various bandits come up to avenge their fallen brother. If persuaded out of fight, the bandit mutters about how they're going to get it the next time they walk the western road.
Leave bar: return to other two options.
Additionally, if they take no options, then have them choose between a west, north, or eastern road. West = bandits, north = necromancer, east = king's courier. But with any luck it doesn't come to that.
Skeleton: we go to a town, from there find out about 3 options: grinding exp on bandits to west, head north to deal with imperial scout, or head east into the woods to seek local necromancer branch. If they head west, bunch of random bandit interactions/ fights. North leads to where scouts ship is docking, can interact with them and or fight. East lets them sneak up on necromancer camp, from there they find out about the castle, and head further into the woods to find it. They will then go through it, whether they get captured and fight there way out or fight in will depend on how they handle it. That sort of stuff
So you're in the castle. What do you want to do? Stay in here, or go out and explore the lands?
Stay in here--It's a very nice castle, though maybe not very defensible. You look in the rooms. They're nicely appointed, with embroidered hangings over the stone walls. The bedrooms have four-poster beds with draperies, and there are plush rugs on the floor, some of them intricately embroidered.
Go out: You step out into a lively town. There's small shops here and there, a weapons forge, and a stables. People are bustling about, smiling and shopping and generally having a good time. The tavern is already rowdy despite the early hour, and you can hear people shouting and singing loudly from where you stand outside . Ahead of you, a man dressed in the official livery of this area's king is speaking with a young woman.
If they move closer to the man in official livery, the woman shoots them a glance, then shakes her head at the man and quickly walks away as they approach.
Additionally, as they move towards the lady or towards the bar, they pass by a dark alley. Roll perception. If a high enough roll they notice men in dark robes conversing, muttering something about the necromancer for just a moment before they disperse away from the group. If lower, they just get a suspicious feeling from the alley, and walk in to find a dropped tome not unlike the one Silas found earlier, though this one is not an actual magic.
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