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Boldly Into Darkness Go

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They say life is 'nasty, brutish, and short' and for nobody is this truer than the peasants. Maybe you were born into poverty, maybe you achieved it, or maybe it was thrust upon you; whatever your personal circumstances, you've had entirely quite enough of being poor, overlooked, and kicked around. It's time to seek your fortune in the big, bad world.

 

There are many ways to make a ducat, but few of them are open to folk such as you in this day and age. You could be a merchant-venturer - if you had the money to buy goods, a caravan or ship, and a trade route that wasn't locked down by the established merchant guilds and houses. You could join the Army and seek honour on the battlefield; if there were any wars to fight, in this unprecedented age of peace and prosperity. Even banditry is beyond your reach, thanks to the thieves guilds and highway bands that lock you out if you don't already have an "in," or enough money to buy one.

 

But there is one way for a down on their luck peasant with guts and a good sword to achieve fortune and fame; down in the deeps of the world, in the ruins of yesteryear, lays the gold of long-gone civilizations. It won't be easy; dark things dwell in dark places, and few who go down in the deeps come back whole... if they come back at all.

 

The village of Keppelshire is a quiet, backwards hamlet in a quiet, backwards barony on the northern borders of the kingdom of Generia. The old King's Road runs within a few miles of the village; once upon a time, this was a major source of revenue, but a particularly nasty group of bandits succeeded in frightening away the merchant traffic to safer and more lucrative routes, and the village has been slowly fading away since.

 

Nearly a century ago, the Imperium withdrew from its more isolated provinces and abandoned the border tower known locally as Goblinwatch. Nearly forty years ago, a group of bandits occupied the tower and threatened the region until they were brutally exterminated by a wandering band of adventurers. Twenty years ago, reports of haunting and demon possession in the ruins lead a roving monk to exorcise the ruins in a night of flashing lights and terrifying sounds that have convinced the locals to stay away from Goblinwatch - although everything of value had been picked clean roughly five minutes after the Imperial legions left, and surely by the time the adventurers were done mopping up the bandits. Even so, two weeks ago a rowdy band of freebooters came through Keppelshire, boasting about the treasure they were going to pull out of Goblinwatch. The locals watched with amusement as the rich kids went up the hill full of vim and vigor; but they never came back down...

 

Two days ago, a courier passed through Keppelshire. One of the missing adventurers had been some relation to a Lord High Mucky Muck down in Arl's Grange, and he's looking for his relative. Last night, you and some similarly distressed compatriots were drinking in the tavern and the subject of gold in the dark earth came up. If Goblinwatch is empty, then what happened to the rich kids? And more importantly, were they right about the treasure the fortress holds?

 

You woke up this morning and climbed the hill. It's a rough, rocky climb up an old road that hasn't been maintained or used regularly in a hundred years, and a low mist clings to the tumbled stones of Goblinwatch tower. The walls are gaping open, torn by the ravages of time, and you can tell nothing more than mice and birds have disturbed its empty chambers in over a decade. The upper levels probably aren't even strong enough to bear your weight.

 

In the center of the courtyard is an old well. Local legend says it had gone dry even before the garrison had abandoned the keep; they used to fetch water from a stream down the hill. The bandits who'd occupied the ruins would throw their prisoners down into the blackness if their ransom wasn't paid, and so it gained the sobriquet "the Murder Hole." Somebody's recently hammered a piton between the courtyard flagstones and attached a sturdy hawser to it; the rope dangles down into the blackness of the Murder Hole, beckoning you onward.

 

Adventure awaits, and there's only one thing for you to do; get rich or die trying!

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Scattered throughout the courtyard, bleary eyed from the early start and the late night in the tavern, are the companions who will venture down into the darkness this day. Virgil and Chance are local boys - born and raised here in Keppelshire, Virgil is a blacksmith and a smith's son who wears his devotion to his goddess, Kaveh of the Vanguard, emblazoned on his gleaming armour's chest. Chance is a shepherd-by-choice, because it gave him more time to practice with the stout longbow on his shoulder than being a farmer would. Wolf's a local boy, too, but his accent's wrong for the area - he said his family moved here a year or so ago, about the only people moving in instead of moving out. Like Chance, he carries a bow and looks like he knows how to use it.

Abigale rests her hands on the sword hilts at her side as she looks around the ruins. Well dressed and somewhat reserved last night, it comes to mind that hers was the first voice to suggest looking for treasure in the Goblinwatch ruins... after all, there has to be something down there, right?

John Wesley, the teenager, fidgets with his prize possession - a pair of Dwarven forgelock pistols, weapons rarely seen outside the craftholds of that proud people. The slight smell of cloves and sulphur around him suggests he knows how to use them, even if he seems nervous at the prospect of venturing into the blackness of the world.

Glarif, the Dwarven smith, bristles behind his beard. The longer you stand around, after all, the further away the murderers of his kinfolk get. If there's treasure to be found, then best to do it quickly!

The Elf, Daenir, seems almost bored where he sits on a tumbled masonry block. He twirls a dagger on the tip of one finger as though enraptured by the play of light along its damascene blade, but his almond eyes miss nothing in the shadows, nothing at all...

Sonskyn, quiet, pretty. Her ears and eyes show some Elf in her, but she's obviously out of her depth this far into nature. She'd come to town with her mentor, looking to reopen the Flower and Compass - the hostel that serves as both home and sign of devotion to the followers of Veiloaria, a patron goddess of adventurer and travel. She seems out of place in these ruins, but she's determined to find the missing freebooters nonetheless, and to bring her goddess' faith into the darkness.

...and then there's the one you've just taken to calling Griff. Short, bandy-legged, Smells slightly of cheese. And let's not forget the eagle head - all ruffled white feathers and snapping beak, those golden eyes that dart quickly to any sign of movement. It seemed like a good idea to bring him along, if only as an object lesson to what could go wrong in the dark.

From atop the ruined tower of Goblinwatch, a single crow caws, as though berating you for your foolishness. Then, in a flurry of black wings, it flies away into the morning sky.

----

((Welcome to BIDG! Title subject to change! Welcome to the first adventure, Down The Murder Hole! Title probably not subject to change!

((When speaking out of character, we will use this friendly reminder of the double parentheses to keep it clear. Please restrict OOC comments to pertinent discussion on the game, and more substantive out of character tangents to the companion thread currently located here, unless the mods decide to lock it. ::):

((I've opened this adventure with a quick summary of the scene at present, and those characters I've received. Others may be along shortly, and they will be added on as either latecomers or new additions, depending on circumstance. If you have an issue with the way I've presented your character in this introduction, revealing information you'd rather I didn't or missing some key feature you'd like me to show, by all means PM me and I'll edit.

((From this point on, the adventure begins. All actions and decisions are your own. Please present your character's actions in third-person prose style, thus:
 

Applegate the Barbarian looks around the dungeon room. "Bronwyn, why don't you check out that chest over there?" He readies his axe, unsure if the slick trails of moisture dripping down the wooden sides are just condensation from the wet dungeon air, or saliva from hidden fangs...

((Any questions not immediately concerned with the adventure are encouraged to be sent via PM, or in the OOC thread as detailed above.

((Welcome to the game! Welcome to the story! May the odds be ever in your favour!))

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Glarif walks up to the well and looks down into it, paying particular attention to the piton and rope left there by others. He attempts to test the solidity of the connection by pushing on it. "Well, what are we waiting for? Neither the treasure nor the young gentry before us will find themselves."

Edited by fishnjeeps
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Using the light on the daggers edge as a tool of distraction, a must for anyone who plays at sleight of hand tricks for the purpose of entertainment and a quick but subtle moove, it seems to vanish into thin air, only to be spotted being tucked away again back into the top of his boot. Dusting his hands off he rose from his seat. Unbuckling his sword belt, he refastened it around his shoulder, the imperial saber  resting awkwardly across his back, along with his unstrung bow and quiver of arrows. "Yes, well then. Shall we be about it?" Without waiting an answer he hopped lightly up onto the well rim peering down into the dark a moment before holding his hand out for the rope. "Shall I go first?"

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John Wesley scoffs, "Gentry. Pfft. Spoiled brats, the lot of 'em. My purse isn't getting any fuller standing here."

Edited by dsmiles
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The piton is hammered solidly into a crack between flagstones - good, solid Imperial steel with only the faintest patina of surface rust for having sat out in the weather for a while. A tenative pull doesn't produce so much as a wiggle; it would probably take a crowbar and some patience to work it free.

 

The rope is a sturdy hawser, almost as thick around as Glarif's wrist, made of coarse hemp. It's not knotted around the piton; someone took the time to splice an eye into it, so that there isn't enough room for it to slip over the head of the spike. There's some chafing on it where it at the bend where it turns into the well, and it's slightly damp to the touch, but otherwise seems serviceable.

 

The masonry stones under Daenir's feet are slightly slick, a fact easily conveyed through the thin, doeskin leather of his soles. The Murder Hole seems filled with an eerie, inky blackness; beyond about six feet or so, even his keen elven eyes can't make out any sign of the stone sides or the bottom, however far below.

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Chance looks about at his new companions.  The only one he had met before last night had been Virgil, who had also forged his arrow heads.  Going down into a dark hole, with a bunch of strangers seemed like a great idea when his head was reeling form the ale.  Now, in the harsh light of day, he wasn't so sure.  Especially now that it appeared the the hole had already swallowed up another group.

 

Although wasn't this what he'd been dreaming of?  A chance for adventure?  Of glory?  To not be like his father and brother, shackled to the earth, at the whim of the weather and the pests?  Before yesterday, he'd never even seen an elf or a dwarf or..... whatever that bird thing is.  And today, he is starting a new life, not as a farmer or shepherd, but as an adventurer!

 

With new confidence, Chance steps tothe  well and addresses Daernir.

 

"Sure, you can go first.  I'll hold the rope steady for you."

Edited by Dilvish the Deliverer

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"Wait. Wouldn't it be safer to send a light down first? Not all of us can see in the dark, you know," John Wesley chimes in.

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"Uhm..." Sonskyn looks at John and licks her lips a bit nervously. "I don't think very many of us can see in the dark, actually... excepting Glarif and maybe ... Griff?"
"Uhm..." Sonskyn looks at John and licks her lips a bit nervously, "I guess only a third of us can see in the dark actually... just myself, Daenir and Glarif ... oh and maybe Griff?"
 

After a moment she adds "I have something we could use I think..." She digs into a belt pouch, pulling out a smaller, black velvet drawstring pouch. When she opens it, you can see some light spilling out. Hoisting her quarterstaff under her armpit so she can use both hands she tips it and pours out what appear to be three small wooden spheres - about 2 cm in diameter - wreathed in flickering flames. She explains, "Xia*Jaina gave these to me - they're beads, so you can put them on a cord...."
 
She holds out the hand with the flame beads towards John.
 
* A Xia is what the travelling clerics of her order are called. Xia Jaina is the mentor she came to Keppelshire with.
 
ETA: Note about quarterstaff and "Xia" footnote

ETA2: Updated to reflect knowledge that elves and half elves have darkvision not low-light vision

Edited by MatrissaTheEnchantress
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"That will do" he said with a nod to Sonskyn and a bit of a smile. It had been a long time since he had considered that others he was with might not be comfortable in the dark, not since his master recruited him...... That thought brought a sudden from to his lips and he turned his eyes back down to the impenetrable darkness. "I did not think any would have had other lights besides torches, and tying a flame to our only way down, or up, does not strike me as the heart of wisdom"

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Glarif says sarcastically while handing the rope to Daeinr   "Maybe we should send Griff down first. If he passes out we'll know theres gas down there. Maybe that what keeps the Young Gentry from returning"

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John chuckles, "Heh. There's irony for you. Full of hot air, and choked on gas."

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Virgil pulls a torch from his pack and waves it in Sonskyn's direction.

 

"No need for fey trickery; a good old-fashioned torch will serve just fine. Now before we descend, I trust you will all allow me to say a brief prayer to the one true Goddess, to ensure our safe return from the pit?"

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"pray away to whatever deity you follow" Daenir said with a shake of his head, "but unless you have another way of lowering that torch down besides tying it to the only rope we have, I think these beads are going to be a safer bet, and I do not fancy having a singed rope break and leave us stranded down in the depths of the earth"

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Sonskyn seems taken aback by Virgil's response. She looks down at the flaming beads in her hand with a mildly confused frown and softly mutters "Fey trickery...?".

 

Looking up again she gives Virgil a final odd look before walking towards the well. Still sounding slightly puzzled she says over her shoulder "These have been blessed by Xia Jaina with Veiloaria's Divine Flame. There's no ... 'trickery' to them."

 

She offers one of the beads to Daenir and, smiling, adds, "Please try not to lose it."

Edited by MatrissaTheEnchantress
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