Heralds of the Crescent Moon
Prequel Chapter 2
GM: You are awoken the next morning to a loud crashing of metal in the hallway and shouting voices. Not directly outside your door, but close.
Serek: go look, somewhat cautiously
GM: You open the door to find Vargo in an inglorious heap on the ground in his full armor. Obsydian is standing over him, with a smile/smirk on her face. He is shouting various insults and profanities at her.
“How dare you treat me this way! I am a soldier of the legions, protecting the likes of you! You may have these other bumpkins fooled, but I know your kind. You’ll regret this Obsydian Nightengale!”
Pelron is grogily leaning against his doorframe watching; half asleep. He gives you a sleepy wave when he sees you.
Serek: I’ll watch. If things get physical, I’ll go out into the hallway and say, “hey what’s going on?”, but otherwise I’ll just stay in my doorway.
If she leaves and he needs help getting up, I’ll lend a hand.
GM: She shoots Vargo her most darling Who ME? look, blows him a kiss and says “You legion types are all the same. If you’re going to be this easy a mark Claudio, you should just go home now.”
She turns and heads back into her room and says “Oh, and your manhood is showing”. And then closes the door behind her.
Vargo immediately fumbles with his uniform and when he realizes that his manhood is in fact not showing and that he’s been made a fool of again, he’s face goes bright red with rage. If steam could be coming out of his ears, im sure it would.
You attempt to help him up, but he pushes you away.
“I don’t need your help Wizard!”
He struggles to his feet, straightens out his uniform and goes back into his room, slamming the door.
Serek: ok, is it time to get up, or can I go back to sleep?
GM: Well, the sun is up, but it’s still very early morning. Pelron is in his bedclothes, but Syd and Vargo were both fully dressed. No one has come to get you for the work detail yet, though.
Serek: I’ll get dressed and wander around the house, looking for food.
GM: Ok, you wander down to the pantry at the end of the hall. There is plenty of food there, so you can eat your fill. Scipius, the monk, is sitting at one of the tables, staring into an empty teacup.
GM: He does not take his eyes from the teacup, but nods slightly.
Serek: OK, I’ll eat a small meal and then wander around the house to see if I can ask about when the work will start.
GM: As you finish your meal, you hear from the hallway
“If all candidates will follow me, I’ll take you to the worksite. Dress warmly”
Serek: Assuming I have warm cloths/a cloak, I wear them and go.
GM: You head out, Scipius does as well. Syd and Vargo are already in the hallway ready. As you are about to depart, Pelron runs out of his room with his head stuck in his shirt. He hastily fixes himself and follows you.
It doesn’t take you long to reach the worksite, snow is light today with little wind. When you arrive, Herald Rakal is already there performing his temperature mitigation. The citizenry hasn’t arrived yet.
Standing in the middle of the site is a huge woman, 6’9” and looks like she could lift an ox. She has bright red hair which is braided and carries a mammoth warhammer on her back. She wears no armor, just a pair of britches and a halter top (think cave man/barbarian).
As you approach:
“All right you guys, listen up. I am Evana, Master of Grethar, Herald of Gaius Revaldi, Lord of the Valorian Plains. I was Revaldi’s first Herald, and I am still the strongest. Behind you is Rakal, Wielder of the Oaken Flame, Herald of Revaldi, Lord of the Valorian Plains. He’s #2. I’m here to keep an eye on you guys during this part of your training. You are expected to do everything you can to help the citizens with the construction of the Academy. Use your talents, be true to yourselves, and you’ll pass. I won’t be helping, and I won’t be telling you what to do. Only observing. Gerry and his men should be here shortly. Look around, get comfortable and take your lead from them.”
With that she walks off and sits herself down beneath a tree.
Serek: I’ll look around again. Is there anything to notice that would help me get a better handle on how they are building this thing?
I’ll try to find the supervisor when he arrives and volunteer my abilities.
GM: Have you ever seen a barn raising on the history channel? Kind of like that. They are raising large wall sections and attaching them to a frame at this stage.
Serek: ok. what I said about the supervisor
GM: Before long, the citizens work crew arrives. The one Revaldi called Gerry begins barking out orders to them.
You walk up to him and he says “Oh, Lord Revaldi said you guys would be here today. Glad to have you. We’ll be raising that wall over yonder shortly, can you gather your mates over there? I’ll be with you shortly.”
He points to a large section of wall lying on the ground nearby at the base of one buildings frames.
Serek: I go tell everyone, “Gerry, the supervisor, would like all of us to gather over there. After telling everyone I will lead the way.
GM: As you approach them, Vargo and Scipio are having a conversation, Syd looks thoroughly bored, and Pelron is asking one of the locals where the mess hall/food tent is.
You tell them and they follow you over to the site.
Gerry comes by and addresses you all:
“Ok guys, fairly straight forward. We’re going to all lift this wall here and push it up against the frame there. Then repeat until all the walls are up. Then we’ll move onto the roof and then inside once the exterior comes along. So is everyone ready?”
Vargo replies “This is work for the strong, the rest of you should just watch.” He bends down and grabs the wall and begins lifting it, the citizens rush to help, but he started lifting it by himself pretty well.
Syd rolls her eyes and just says “Men!”
Then with catlike grace she climes the frame, and balances herself on top of it effortlessly. She produces a grappling hook, and tosses it down hooking one of the windows on the wall. She then uses one of the higher, thicker frame supports as a makeshift pulley and begins hauling the wall up from that angle.
Scipius has joined Vargo.
Pelron seems to have vanished.
How do you wish to participate, if you do?
Serek: How does Gerry seem to be taking this?
To Gerry, “I can make myself a bit larger and stronger. Then I could be more of a help like that (gesture to the other). Is that what the best thing for me to be doing? I don’t want to run rough-shot over your normal way of doing things.”
Assuming he want me to join in, I will cast the enlarge spell, but I want to be sure that’s the best thing to do.
GM: Gerry is helping the crew lift the wall, so he can’t engage in conversation at the moment. Just about everyone in the area is, so they’re not talking in much more than grunts. Do you take action, or wait.
Serek: I guess I’ll get big and help out. Enlarge for SM +2
GM: Ok, you help the crew hoist the wall into position. Everyone is very appreciative. This continues for about an hour until all the walls are up, Syd stays on the frame and walltops the entire time helping in her way. After the hour, everyone is tired and breathing heavily. Gerry tells the crew to take 15 minutes, and then they’ll start on the roof. Pelron is still nowhere in sight.
Serek: i’ll try to see what skills will be needed for roofing and then check the food tent for pelron
GM: You gather that operating a crane and hammers and nails will be need for the roof.
As you approach the food tent, you hear someone shouting:
“No no no, it’s bread ham cheese mayo flip flip fry not bread ham bread mayo Cheese fry flip fry! Like this, there you go. And you, churn faster, there’s hungry people out there and we gotta keep them fed!”
As you approach the outskirts, you see Pelron directing the kitchen staff with a flurry of excitement. He doesn’t seem to notice you.
Serek: OK. I’ll go out and rest.
GM: You go back and take a breather. Pelron comes by with a wagon loaded with sandwiches, which the grateful workers devour. After lunch, they make preparations to hoist the roof into position.
This will involve the crane putting and holding the roof into position, and then nailing it in place. How did you want to participate, if at all?
Serek: Well I guess I’ll get big again so that I am strong enough to help out with the crane.
If they don’t need that kind of help, I’ll volunteer to hammer.
GM: They take you up on your offer to grow and steady the roof. Once fairly well secured, hammering would be good.
Everyone except for Pelron helps with the roof, Pelron dedicates himself to making dinner for the crew.
That pretty much concludes today, anything else you want to do at the site? Everyone is very tired and ready for bed, so if nothing else after work is halted, they’ll take you back to the dorms.
GM: Is there anything to notice about the site? Any poor design that sticks out like a sore thumb? Any strange people doing strange things?
If not, then I’ll go and eat and sleep.
GM: No, everything seems fairly routine. Gerry runs a tight ship, and everyone is eager to help out. They’re a very supportive community. While supporting the roof, you are able to look down into the academy and you can see a floorplan much better up there, looking down. The building appears to open up into a small foyer like area, and there are a few slightly larger classrooms. The dominating room is a very large one on the west side, it takes up about a third of the overall building’s size. It is huge and could easily be considered a hall.
Other than that, as you are getting ready to leave for the day, four people carrying a very large crate pass you on their way into the building, but that’s just about it.
Serek: I will try to find out what’s in the crate tomorrow during the work time (on a break or something)
GM: Ok, then in that case they take you all back to the dorms for the evening. Everyone is beat, even Syd and Vargo have stopped sniping at each other.
Later that evening, you are awoken at about 1 AM by a loud knock at the door. You are still quite tired.
“Your Wizardship, your presence is required at the Academy grounds immediately!”
Serek: Get up and go.
but of course, open the door carefully
GM: You open the door to see Tobias going to the other doors repeating the same message. Soon, all the other (bleary eyed) candidates are in the hallway.
“If you follow me, Lord Revaldi is waiting at the Academy grounds.”
Everyone follows him wordlessly.
You arrive at the site quickly, the weather is fairly mild tonight. Tobias ushers you all into the building into the very large room you noted earlier. It is still unfinished, the floor is still just dirt and bits of grass. On the far side of the room is a large, steel throne that Herald Rekal is siting in. Revaldi is standing next to him, they are talking. Opposite the throne are three wood and straw scarecrows stuck in the ground.
You succeed on a Thaumatology roll. You recognize the throne as a magic item, called a Throne of Projection, or more simply just a Projector. Powerful Shadow Wizards can use it to project multiple illusions at once, far more detailed than they could do on their own.
Lord Revaldi sees you all enter and speaks:
“Greetings everyone. I was very pleased with your performance today, you all helped in your own way to the best of your abilities. I would especially like to commend Pelron, who quickly assessed the situation and determined his skills could be best used by keeping you all fed. Very creative.”
Pelron turns a deep shade of red at this singling out. Syd shoots him a dark look.
“I suppose this could have waited until tomorrow, but the Projector arrived today and I wanted to try it out. Having you all in a tired state will enhance this exercise as well. Welcome to the Situation Hall. Here, with the aid of the projector, I intend to put you into various situations to test you. The first such test will be this evening.”
He gestures to the scarecrows.
“These three civilians are being attacked by some horrible beast. Your objective is to keep them from harm. How you do that is entirely up to you. You will each face a Situation one on one, the others may observe if they wish but may not interfere. As this is all an illusion, you will not be injured. I will give you all a few minutes to prepare while Rekal and I finish preperations.”
He turns back to Rekal. Vargo and Scipio immediately begin speaking in hushed tones. Syd gives a soft snort of contempt, and begins sharpening her long dagger. Pelron appears to be slightly terrified.
Serek: Can I join in with V and S’s conversation?
If not, I’ll wait my turn.
GM: They are talking intently with each other, what exactly would you like to do/say?
Serek: I guess nothing. I want to see what they are thinking, but I’ll voluntarily fail my loner roll.
I guess I will go stand near Pelron.
GM: He gives you a nervous smile.
Serek: “Don’t you just love pop quizzes?”
GM: “Oh heavens no. If I don’t have time to study, I go to pieces. Even when I do have time to study, I tend to go to even more pieces. I don’t even know how I got through this afternoon. I was just hungry, and I saw they needed help. Got lucky there I guess.”
He looks even more terrified, and a bit pale.
Syd seems to overheard this, and scoffs rather loudly in Pelron’s direction.
Serek: “Hey, man, relax.
Just going with your instincts seems to have gotten you pretty far. You’ll do fine. I’m sure you have lots of experience helping people, but the main thing is to chill out.”
Pulling him aside, “Hey, do you know what’s got V and S so excited?”
GM: “I think they’re friends now. They seem to have a good bit in common. I’ve seen them talking in the mess hall. They’re just talking strategy about this test, from what I can hear.”
Serek: “Hmm. Good for them.”
I guess it’s time to wait.
GM: Lord Revaldi turns back to the crowd after a few minutes.
“Ok, it is time to begin. You will each draw straws to see who goes first. Short straw is first man, or woman, up.”
He holds out a closed fist with straws in it. To simulate picking a straw, pick a number 1-6. Unless you want to try any chicanery.
Serek: I rolled a 3.
GM: You draw the middle length straw, so you will be going third (not because you picked a 3, it just happened to work out that way).
The order is:
Vargo Pelron You Scipius Syd
Everyone who is not participating is instructed to remain behind the Projector. Revaldi nods to Vargo, and Vargo walks up to the ‘citizens’ and takes up a ready position.
The room suddenly vanishes and is replaced by a lush field full of grass. The scarecrows now resemble people who are tied to a pole. Standing in front of Vargo is a Minotaur. It towers over him, easily 20 feet tall. In it’s monstrous hands it holds a massive two handed, double bladed axe. It stomps the ground and lets out a loud snort in challenge to Vargo, who draws his own weapon and gives a battle cry in response. He stands directly between the Minotaur and the captives.
Vargo charges the beast, sword at his side, in a slashing motion. With surprising agility the Minotaur steps OVER Vargo with his left hoof and allows Vargo to land a deep cutting blow in his right leg. However, this step has allowed the Minotaur the tactical advantage of being in range of the captives. With a one handed swing he brings his massive axe down upon the nearest captive, who explodes into debris of wood and straw, having reverted back to a scarecrow (or at least it’s remnants).
There is a agonizing look on Vargo’s face as he realized he’s been duped, but he recovers quickly. He hurls his sword at the beast, striking it in the arm holding the axe. His aim is true, and he strikes a large artery. The Minotaur roars in pain and drops the axe, loosing control of his arm.
Though now weaponless, Vargo rushes the monster. Having captured it’s full attention, the Minotaur turns to face his opponent. With it’s good arm it swings at Vargo in a left to right hooking fashion. Vargo is apparently a quickly learner, and took a page from the Minotaurs playbook. He allows the blow to land, and you have no doubt it hurts, but in doing so Vargo uses the momentum of the blow to swing himself up to the level of the creatures arm and, more imporantly, his sword which is still stuck in the limb. Vargo grabs the weapon and then uses it to swing himself towards the beast. His weight and movement give him great leverage, and he severs the Minotaurs arm.
Vargo falls to the ground and lands in an unceremonious heap. He quickly gets to his feat, but seems a bit unsteady. The minotaur is howling in pain and lowers is head, charging Vargo with it’s razor sharp horns. Vargo quickly assess the situation and, realizing the captives are directly behind him, braces for impact. The Minotaur reaches him quickly. Vargo holds his sword out in front of him and braces it at the hip. The Minotaur’s left horn impales Vargo above the hip, but his blade strikes true and he embeds it deep in the Minotaur skull. The great beast immediately falls dead, taking Vargo with him and a few feet beyond with it’s momentum. Once they come to a complete stop and the dust settles, the scene vanishes, replaced again by the room.
Vargo is on the floor, breathing heavily, but his wound and bruises are gone. One of the scarecrows is shattered. Servants immediately rush into the room to replace it.
Lord Revaldi simply says ‘Thank you Sergeant Vargo. Pelron, you’re next.’
Vargo makes his way back to the group. As he arrives, still short of breath, he puts his hand on Pelron’s shoulder and looks at all of you. “Be careful. Even though… it’s not real…. It FEELS real. Especially… the pain.”
Pelron, who was terrified previously is now white as a ghost, walks (trembling) towards the center of the room. Pelron takes a deep breath and holds his quarterstaff out in front of him, still trembling. Again the room vanishes, replaced by a desert environment. The captives are back, and standing before Pelron is a very large, three headed snake. He stands motionless, as if frozen in fear, and the Snake lunges at him.
At the last possible moment he snaps back to reality and jams his quarterstaff into the mouth that is lunging towards him. There is a loud CRACK and the broken, pointed end of the staff emerges from the back of the Snake’s head. It falls back, that head limp and apparently dead, and the other two hissing in pain. The staff remains stuck in the Snakes dead mouth.
Pelron immediately turns around and bolts towards the captives. He is incredibly fast. He runs up to a young boy tied to a pole, the youngest of the three, and begins to untie him. He looks at the other two and says
“I’m sorry, I’m really really sorry, I tried. I did my best.”
He finishes untying the boy, picks him up, and begins running away from the Snake. The Snake takes one look at Pelron, and apparently realizes it will never catch him.
It slithers up to the two remaining captives and simultaneous swallows both, one with each head.
The scene abruptly fades, again replaced by the room. Pelron, still running and clutching a scarecrow, bounces off one of the walls of the room.
Lord Revaldi, a slight frown on his face, says “Thank you Pelron. Your turn, Wizard Sarek.”
Pelron returns to the group, his head down, not meeting anyone gaze. Vargo and Scipio’s faces are both grim, but Syd is smiling.
The room vanishes and you are in the pouring rain, in a muddy field. You are all alone, except for the three captives. Well, all alone except for the three captives and the massive cyclops standing in front of you.
It is easily 15 feet tall and is brandishing a massive wooden club, which is really just an uprooted tree.
Serek: After seeing that the challenge was physical, I would have prepared thusly.
order of preference: armor +4 (1 second) enlarge +2 (4 seconds)
I’m assuming I am between the three captives and the cyclops. can you give approximate distances. Something like this?
C = captive S = Serek Y = cyclops
If this is approximately correct I think I’ll try to knock him down in the mud. I just need to translate that into GURPS.
GM: The captives are 5 yards behind you and the Cyclops is 7 yards in front of you. Trying to knock him into the mud can be accomplished with a bull rush, I believe.
Serek: OK, wait a minute. I want to make sure this guy is hostile first.
I would like to hold my action until he starts to move threateningly (IE starts to run at us or hefts his “tree”).
I’ll call to him, “Stay there! What do you want here? If you let me take the people, we’ll leave.”
GM: He lets out a yell and begins lumbering in your direction, the tree is in a ready position.
Serek: I guess I’ll try to slam him.
GM: You slam him hard in the chest, knocking him prone into the mud. You do not take enough damage to make it through your DR (1 point). The cyclops takes his action to get up from prone to standing.
Serek: Punch! impaling damage if I hit
GM: You miss, but just barely. You blow misses the Cyclops by inches. The Cyclops swings the tree at you and also misses.
Serek: punch again
GM: You swing and miss him again. He swings his tree at you and misses, but the force of his blow is so strong the tree becomes stuck in the mud (half the tree is buried). He is frantically trying to free it.
Serek: run to the nearest captive and cut them loose (if they are “conscious”)
I’ll keep an eye on the monster the whole time if he gets the tree out, I’ll slam him again
GM: You rush over to the nearest captive and free him. They are all conscious and panicked. As soon as you free him, he takes off. The cyclops has managed to free his club from the mud and is again moving towards you.
You rush forward to slam him. You again knock him to the ground, taking no damage. He again gets up from prone.
GM: You swing and miss him. He swings his club at you and connects squarely. You take 8 total points of damage. Less your DR, i believe that’s 3.
Serek: regardless, punch again
GM: You strike him square in the chest, you appear to have knocked the wind out of of him, he is gasping for breath.
Serek: does it look like I have time to free another prisoner? If so I will. If not then punch again.
GM: You’re not sure. Do you chance it?
Serek: no, punch
GM: You swing and catch him flatfooted. The strike seems to have knocked the wind back into him. He hits you again, 1 points makes it through your DR.
what DR figure are you using 5 or 6?
I’m at 30 or 29 depending.
GM: 6. You swing and he dodges. He strikes you with a mammoth blow, 16 points total. 10 makes it through DR.
Serek: hp = 20
GM: You strike him again, he is clearly a bit shaken up. He roars and throws his club at one of the captives. The tree flies through the air, and strikes the ground two feet to the left of one of the captives. The captives are now muddy, but otherwise unharmed.
Serek: that was close…
can you give me a layout?
I would like to free the captive nearest the club. Can I do that in one round?
would that obviously give him a chance at the other captive?
GM: C = Captive t = tree impaled in the mud S = you Y = cyclops
It would take you 2 seconds minimum to free a captive, and that’s assuming you get the knot on the first try. This would enable the cyclops to take at least one move and attack maneuver.
GM: You strike the cyclops again, opening a gash on his left arm. The cyclops grapples you and succeeds, though it was a tough fight. You almost stopped him.
Serek: well, grappling is cool with me. I can still attack.
Punch! And make sure he doesn’t get out of the grapple if he tries.
correct me if I’m wroing about the grapple, but once we are grappled we are both grappled right?
GM: I believe so.
You strike at him again. Being so close, you raise both hands up and bring them down on his head. You hear a sickening crunch and the cyclops goes limp, releasing the grapple and falling to the ground.
The scene disappears, replaced by the room.
“Thank you Wizard Sarek. Scipius, you are up next.”
Do you do anything else?
Serek: I go over and sit with Pelron.
GM: Scipio calmly takes his place in the center of the room. The room again vanishes, replaces by a clearing in a wooded area. Before him stand two werewolf like creatures. Humanoid wolves, at any rate. If Scipius is surprised by the two foes he doesn’t show it. He immediately bolts for the captives and strikes each pole the captives are tied too in one swift motion. The poles splinter harmlessly.
“Run! I will keep these fiends occupied.”
He turns to face his foes. One of them charges him, while the other drops to all fours and dashes towards the oldest captive. Scipius gracefully sidesteps his attacker and parlays his dodge into an attack of his own on the other werewolf, striking it squarely on his rear right knee with a sharp kick. The werewolf collapses briefly, but struggles back up and tries to hobble towards the captives again, but it can clearly no longer keep pace with the fleeing people. Scipio strikes him in the head with his knee and with a flying leap lands back in front of the other werewolf.
The other werewolf backs up some, and begins slowly circling Scipio, as if looking for weakness. Scipius returns the posture and they have a short stand off. The werewolf eventually lunges at him, jaws wide in a biting motion. Scipius barely manages to dodge the attack, and the werewolf grabs a piece of his robe, shredding it and pulling it up over Scipio’s head. Scipius is incapacitated for only a moment, and quickly removes the shredded shirt. This moment was enough for the crippled werewolf to quietly move behind him.
The second werewolf attacks again, forcing Scipius to step back to dodge, directly into the arms of the first werewolf. The first werewolf grapples him, pinning his arms at his sides. The first werewolf lunges again, teeth gleaming in the sun, going directly for Scipio’s throat.
The scene vanishes replaced by the room.
Lord Revaldi says “The captives have successfully escaped, but you died, Scipius. Back in line. Syd, you’re next.”
Syd confidently and arrogantly strides to the center of the room. The projection this time is a huge cave. Standing before Syd is a mammoth Red Dragon. Behind Syd are the captives as before, and behind the dragon is a huge hoard of gold and treasure. Syd’s eyes widen noticeably when she sees this, but quickly refocuses on the dragon.
The dragon lets out a roar and shoots out a threatening jet of flame from it’s mouth well over the heads of Syd and the captives.
Syd briefly assesses the situation and draws her long dagger. She weighs it in her hand briefly, stares squarely a the dragon, then then throws it directly at the dragon’s head. It strikes the dragon directly between the eyes. The dragon thrashes wildly, howling in pain, and then collapses upon the hoard, motionless.
Syd dusts herself off and then proceeds to untie the captives.
The room reappears.
“Well, that concludes this exercise. I will evaluate your performance, and I will post the results outside my study after breakfast. The time is yours until then.”
He waves dismissively and turns back to Rekal, who is noticeably tired and they begin talking.
Everyone begins filing out of the room.
Serek: Does Pelron say anything?
He doesn’t volunteer anything no. In fact, everyone is rather quiet. Even Syd (though smugly quiet). Did you want to ask him something?
Serek: Well, as we make our way back, I’ll ask him, if I can do it quietly, away from other ears, “You alright?” I probably don’t have to speak very loudly at all. In fact, I can whisper it and I probably not even look at him.
GM: “Yeah, I think so. That was pretty scary, even though I knew it was fake.”
Serek: That’s it for me. I go get some sleep and check the results first thing in the morning.
End Chapter 2
Serek’s Thoughts: Well, I got to help out, and I did ok on my test, though I’m sure I missed the real point of it.
I’m a little confused by the method of the testing. At this point I’m assuming that these are just the beginning tests. Maybe the get to know you tests.
I never thought I would be using my physical abilities so much. I’m glad I was frightened enough by life to learn these types of things, but I thought that a Lord like this may have more of a need for more subtle manipulative magics. Hey, what do I know. I’ve only been her a couple of days. It’s not like he’s going to let me into his confidence or anything.
Well, if nothing else, it should be interesting.
Oh, and I hope I live to see Syd eat crow, just once.