Seanzilla

(B) Episode Two: One Ring To Rule Nothing At All

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Several groups of adventurers had undertaken the first quest in the DMO starting town, Winterhaven, but only a few had actually returned. The first of these groups was one referred to by the other players as The Golden World. All of these adventurers walked around the town showing off their fancy ‘Goblin Punter’ title, not even caring that it was extremely silly. They just wanted to show off.

One of these adventurers was Aramachus. A Paladin who had managed to complete the quest with his former group, but had decided to part ways with them afterwards. After completing the first quest he had decided to find a new group to tackle the remainder of the quests available in Winterhaven. To that end he had formed a party with players who had reached the second level by endlessly grinding creatures in the outskirts of Winterhaven.

 

He had heard rumors that both Ernest Padraig and Valthrun were interested in the retrieval of a certain something stolen during the bandit raid a while ago.

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Bachydios stepped meekly into the tavern, his eyes darting nervously around the area as he did so. As always, the realism of DMO overwhelmed him. The smell of ale hung thick in the air even though the night had barely started. It was a smell that he was only beginning to get acquainted with, having had his first sip of the beverage, indeed, of any form of alcohol at all, only a couple of days ago here in this tavern.
 
However, tonight he wasn't here for ale, but to meet up with Aramachus and a couple of others in order to learn more about the Signet Ring quest. He had mostly been grinding creatures around Winterhaven by himself for the past week, and felt that he might go mad if he had to go through another round of mindless repetition again. So when the Paladin had sent out an Open Request for party members, he had signed up immediately. It had been fortuitous that he had been scanning the Quest archives when Aramachus sent out the Open Request; these openings were usually filled up within minutes. 
 
He approached the Recruitment Board and peered at all the Quest Information leaflets. Spying the one with Ernest Padraig and Valthrun, he noted with satisfaction his name underneath Aramachus. There were another three names beneath his, but a quick scan over the tavern indicated that none of the rest had arrived yet. He was too early again as usual. So he took a seat and begun waiting, all the while resisting the urge to order another jug of ale. It's so cheap in here! But, but, I mustn't! I'm not of age yet!

 

To distract himself, he focused on a barrel nearby and focused his Prestidigitation on it, willing it to lift an inch into the air and float towards him at a crawl. No, I'm not doing this because it's likely that that barrel contains ale...

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Grinding was an activity that bored Korrelia endlessly. She was not the sort of person who liked fighting the same critters over and over, and seeking them out for battle when they would much rather be left alone was an act that left a bad taste in her mouth. Really, she could not see why people enjoyed MMOs so much.

 

Then again, it was not as if she was here just to play. She was here to find him, and she must gain levels quickly to stay alive in this treacherous world. She would achieve nothing dead.

 

She formed parties readily, always hoping that one day, at least one of these contacts would lead her to the person she wanted to find. It was always awkward to ask such things right off the bat, though, especially when her party members often had some greater goal in mind. Then again, she had tried leaving her question to after the quest had been completed, and found she could not broach it either, not when party members were dying or dead. She prided herself on knowing the right things to say at the right time, after all.

 

This would be the second time she formed a party, and hopefully she -- and in turn they -- would have more luck with their quest this time. There was a quest started by Aramachus, who had heard something about a bandit raid, and that people with strange names were very interested in the object, whatever it was. This likely meant money, which was probably why it had been snapped up almost immediately by a Bachydios fellow. Very well, she would take it too. She hovered a finger over the corresponding option and found Bachydios in person, sitting on his own with a scrunched up face. Perhaps coincidentally, a barrel in front of him shook discernibly. One of those fidgety youngsters who couldn't stay still for extended periods. This reminded her of her niece, back home...

 

"Are you Bachydios?" she bounded up with a smile and a lilt in her voice. She had found that in a male-dominated world, a woman's best Power was Cuteness. Forget Feats and Rituals. She had purposely chosen a persona with good looks and a beautiful voice. Who knew, maybe she could become DMO's next Top Idol, and then everyone would know about her. Including him. Her search would be so much easier.

 

It was obvious without asking that he was Bachydios, and her name was also plastered over her head, but she held out a hand anyway and winked. "My name's Korrelia. I believe we joined the same Quest, didn't we?"

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"Are you Bachydios?"

 

The Tiefling turned to regard with mild surprise the woman who'd approached him, although a part of his mind continued edging the barrel towards them. The data that appeared almost instantaneously as he centered her in his vision described her as a Kalashtar, but he hadn't heard of that race before. She must have been one of those hardcore gamers who bought additional DLC in order to set themselves apart from the casual gamers like him. Bachydios felt self-conscious immediately. The barrel, however, had finally reached its destination next to his stool and settled itself down upon the wooden floor with a sigh.

 

"Ye-yes, I am. And you are Korrelia. Nice to meet you. You're early."

 

His mind had, by this time, registered that the Kalashtar was also a Bard, which explained her otherworldly beauty. Her effusive charm made him all the more nervous.

 

"It-it seems like the rest haven't arrived yet. I was just thinking of... ordering ale and... talking to the bar-keep. They sometimes offer random nuggets of information. Ernest and Valthrun are actually here too - seated separately, in fact, but we should wait until the rest are here first."

 

Without waiting for her, he leapt off his seat with some hastiness and strode over to the bar top. "One ale, please! Any news on the grapevine lately?"

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“Here you go, hun,†Salvana offered the mug of ale with a smile. “That’ll be 2 silver! And I am afraid I haven’t been following the grapevine much lately.†She put her finger on her chin as she stared up to the ceiling, deep in thought. “I heard that something big is happening in Irkalla. Lots of people have been flocking there lately. No one I’ve talked to has any idea what is going on though.â€

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Dayereth laughed as he chatted up one of the NPC barmaids, trying to wheedle another free drink. It was amazing how realistic this world was, right down to the sourness of the ale and the AI that he couldn't even identify as such. Truth be told, he didn't like the taste all that much, but he had yet to find anything else that could give him a lightheaded buzz. Well, besides pummeling ugly little things that ruined the game's aesthetics to a pulp. Somewhere along the line of trampling on what looked like troll-rabbit hybrids, he'd leveled up and discovered parties.

Being himself, of course, Dayereth had immediately signed up before learning that Aramachus was looking for fighting buddies. It was a fortuitous coincidence, as Dayereth had started to tire of blasting mutant frogspawn into oblivion while encountering Failure to Terminate Program dialogs whenever he tried to log out. Besides, his efforts were all in vain, as no sooner had he crushed another disgusting monstrosity than another half dozen spawned. On the other hand, this whole "questing" idea seemed rather interesting (though he would never admit that he'd finally found the menu after accidentally skipping the tutorial). So here he was, flirting with serving wenches while he waited for everyone else.

A player with the nameplate Bachydios--that was familiar, why?--strode by him toward the bar, and Dayereth casually glanced over in the direction from which he had come. A rather pretty icon seemed to be waiting for the Tiefling, and Dayereth excused himself from the AI in favor of a real girl. Or someone pretending to be a girl; anything was possible with all these aliases floating around and people who could have come from anywhere. But on the surface, she was a pretty girl, so he'd go with it.

Snagging a cup of ale from another passing server, Dayereth settled himself down on a conveniently-placed keg without any preamble.

"Korrelia? I'm Dayereth. Can I interest you in a drink while you tell me what a beautiful flower like you is doing here?" he asked, offering her a mug.

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"Why thank you." She took a sip. It tasted terrible.

 

"Well, I'm here for the same reason you are, no doubt." She laughed. It was a tinkling sort of laugh, the kind that sounded as if she was really interested in the conversation. "I'm looking for quests, trying to level up, and someday become an Idol." She winked at him, before sending a glance at Bachydios. He had run away nervously, leaving her rather disoriented and just a little embarrassed, and was now talking to the bartender with a lot more enthusiasm than he had had with her. She felt a sinking feeling of rejection. Unconfident men.

 

She proceeded to pour more attention on this much politer member of the male species.

 

"So, I suppose everyone here is out for quests too, right?" she asked. "Are you taking anything?"

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The door to the inn flung open and dazzling light shone in. A man in the back of the room fell off his seat, clutching his blinded eyes, as sunlight reflected off the gleaming silver armour and pearly teeth of the Paladin who had just entered. He stood proud and tall, with golden hair, good looks, and an aura of conviction emanating from him. He looked to the bar first, and immediately noted the presence of Bachydios. "Bachydios! My newest friend and ally! Well met!" he exclaimed, striding over to shake the Wizard's hand. "I am Aramachus." He spoke loud and clear, clearly a confident communicator.

 

Aramachus looked around the bar, "Have our companions arrived yet?" he asked, before spotting Dayereth and Korellia, "Aha, warm greetings to you too, friends!" he called out, before turning back to Bachydios curiously, "Why are you over here on your own? We should all get to know each other, if we're to be staking our lives on each other." he patted the Wizard on the shoulder encouragingly, before heading over to join the table with the other two.

 

"It seems we are still awaiting the final member of our group, so I shall save the quest explanation until we are all present, I think." he said, his heavy plate armour clinking as he took a seat. "I hope you two aren't indulging in too much merriment over here. It would not do to undertake this quest in an inebriated condition, and I have heard the alcohol here can simulate such effects."

 

 

 

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"An idol. Really. Do they have those here?" Dayereth asked, leaning forward interestedly to engage more closely with the... well, his menu-data-thingy was calling her a Kalashtar. He gave her a wink over another mouthful of ale. "Well, if you don't mind my saying so, I think you've got a good chance of that, if the only prerequisite condition is appearance. I haven't seen anyone else as pretty as you--is that a racial thing, or are you just exceptional?

 

"And yeah, I think I'm going questing. I signed up for a party with some guy named Aramachus. I don't think he's here yet, so--"

 

Just then, the doors banged open, blinding Dayereth with the sudden transition of smoky gloom to midday sun reflecting off highly-polished armor. When he could finally see again through watering eyes, he noticed the stockily-built knight--Paladin, the menu corrected him--stomping over to them with the Bachydios guy in tow. Given his very loud introduction, it wasn't hard to figure out that the Paladin was Aramachus, and Dayereth gave him an approving up-down look, taking in the sights. Very impressive. At the very least, he makes an imposing wall to hide behind. It wasn't until the two had settled down at their table and Dayereth took a second glance at Bachydios that he remembered where he'd seen the name before: on the list of his teammates.

 

"Only my third," Dayereth replied cheekily to Aramachus's warning, raising his mug as if in a toast. He smiled again at Korrelia, quite pleased to discover that she would be joining their merry little band as well. "It tastes horrible, but I haven't found anything better in this place. Anyways, what's the plan when we're all gathered?"

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"I-uh, okay, but, um." 

 

Bachydios couldn't get a word in edge-wise as the bulky Aramachus bundled him over to where Korrelia sat. He saw that she has been joined by Dayereth, a Level 2 Eladrin Warlock. A part of his mind noted that the both of them should have swapped Classes; the flavor fit would have been better. Plus, this Tiefling avatar totally didn't suit his personality at all. He had only gotten it because he had thought he would be playing as a Blaster during Avatar Creation and he didn't actually think that he would literally have to wear his avatar's skin.

 

Boo me.

 

He sulked for a bit in his seat while the two men, extroverts obviously, exchanged hearty banter. The single glass of ale hadn't nearly been satisfying enough, but he was now seated on the opposite side of where he had been earlier (Correlia had moved in when Aramachus arrived) so he couldn't even get at the barrel to check its contents.

 

"It tastes horrible, but I haven't found anything better in this place. Anyways, what's the plan when we're all gathered?"

 

Bachydios didn't catch what Aramachus said in reply because at that point, he spotted the game of Poker going on at the next table. Three NPCs were gathered around a table and they had a familiar deck of cards laid out before them. The allure of hitherto forbidden vice called out to Bachydios again. He had to respond.

 

"Uh, we have time before our last party member arrives, right? I'll be right nearby." 

 

---

Five minutes later, Bachydios was scrutinizing his third set of Hold cards. He had won the first two games easily against the three NPCs with better hands than all of them. The controlling Wizard had almost thought he could bluff Cespar into thinking he had a terrible hand and up the bets in the second game, but the gambling addict had caught onto him and folded. That had made Bachydios sorely disappointed and he was now determined to win big. Only Faeron, whose stats were invisible to him, was left in the game. Cespar the addict and Ellian the experienced gambler had already folded. 

 

His Hold cards were A King of Diamonds and Five of Hearts. The Flop cards were Two Clubs, Six Diamonds, and 3 Spades. The Turn was Eight Spades and the River Five Diamonds. Therefore, right now the best he had was one pair.

 

Now's the time then!

 

Looking at each one of the NPCs in turn, Bachydios subtly casted Prestidigitation over his King Diamonds to turn it into a Four Diamonds. He then raised the ante to 10g and prayed while trying to maintain his pokerface. The atmosphere, for the first-time gambler at least, was electrifying! If Faeron had arcane training… If one of them had the actual Four Diamonds...

 

Relief flooded him when none of the NPCs seemed to notice. Better yet, Faeron matched his bet and revealed his hand - a Pair of Twos. Bachydios collected his winnings with a beam and thanked them profusely for their "guidance". He then beat a hasty retreat back to his teammates and ordered them all another round of ale. He didn't have another one himself; the high he got off from winning was quite enough.

 

[+46g in winnings, -6g for 3 ale]

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After Bachydios finished playing his game of poker Ernest Padraig rose from his seat while staring at someone sitting in a corner, drinking his ale. Ernest’s face was pale with a surprised expression. Slowly he pointed his finger at the seated individual and stuttered. “T-T-That’s one of the bandits who raided our town!â€

The unarmed guards sitting with Ernest stood up and marched towards the bandit sitting in the corner, but he made no real attempt to run. Instead he simply shouted: “That Tiefling cheated at poker.â€

All hell broke loose. Ale, chairs and tables all got thrown around as a massive free for all barfight broke out. Many did not even care who they were fighting with, in fact it seemed like the majority of the NPCs in the bar were solely waiting for a chance to start fighting.

A few present PCs realized that this might have been some kind of scripted event and tried to draw their weapons or use their powers, but quickly realized that usage of powers and weapons was disabled inside of an inn.

To make matters worse, the bandit had managed to mingle into the fight before anyone had gotten a good look at him and was now hiding amidst the chaos.


[initiative order: Bachydios (22) / Korrelia (18) / Dayereth (12) / Aramachus (9) / Col (8)
Goal: Identify the bandit amidst the bar fight and capture him! 6 successes before 2 failures.
Think of ways to use your skills to identify and catch the bandit. Insight and Strength are examples of checks that can be used to your advantage.]

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The tavern was starting to get crowded, with all kinds of people coming in. Aramachus, the originator of the quest, turned out to be somewhat of a caricature. Bachydios turned out to be curious about all kinds of vices -- probably a repressed youth in real life -- and had started engaging in a game of poker with a few strangers. Korrelia smiled at Dayereth's compliment and was about to answer, when before she knew it, there was shouting everywhere. A burly man beside her got up and slammed the table, turning it over with his bare hand. Korrelia felt her heart thumping more quickly. Was this some kind of tavern brawl? And why was the scrawny Bachydios suddenly the target of attention?

 

She let out a scream as people began flinging themselves on top of each other. She was not particularly adept at fighting, and certainly not among such a rowdy crowd. She considered running out of the tavern, but just her luck, the door happened to be blocked by two drunk men who had probably seized on this excuse to exercise their grievances. She did not know which of them were NPCs and which were real players, even. It was all quite frightening, how something had erupted from nothing.

 

Bandit, bandit. Oh yes, someone had pointed to someone else and declared him a bandit, and that bandit had then perpetrated this chaos to camouflage himself. He must have been really skilled and experienced, and Korrelia wondered if he had already found the chance to get away. But no, it seemed unlikely that he would be able to get through the two drunk men either. That meant he must still be here. She suddenly felt a strange thrill. She was being a detective!

 

She scanned the surroundings, looking around for suspicious behaviour.

 

[Perception check: 1d20+10

Roll result: 14]

 

Unfortunately, the commotion made it unable for her to discern anyone's behaviour amidst the crowds. She shook her head. It was all too much of a mess.

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Dayereth looked startled as chaos ensued, a large majority of it seeming to center around two loci: the alleged bandit, and Bachydios, who had been accused of cheating in his game. Of course, being next to the Wizard, it meant that Dayereth would soon be drawn into it, something that didn't really appeal to him. Surreptitiously, he stepped behind the human wall named Aramachus to try to avoid the worst of it, but when a chair flew by just a little too close to his head, Dayereth decided that it was time to get out of there before he started to suffer grievous injuries. After all, accidents always happened, but he didn't want to be at the receiving end of one.

 

"Uh... I'm going to go get some help for us," Dayereth said hastily to his group, Fey Stepping away from the mob into a slightly more peaceful corner where a couple of players seemed to be trying to decide whether to get in on the action. He didn't blame them; a backwards glance revealed that it was total mayhem in the room, though a pair of men seemed to have taken up posts by the doors to stop anyone from getting out. There were only two options at this point, then: to wade in, or to wait it out. Well, let me help them make a decision. Appealing to greed usually works, right?

 

"Hey guys! Did you know that if you capture that bandit, you can recruit him to your team and get him to lead you to his hideout and all his treasure?" he bluffed. "I'd do it myself, but I don't want to be upstaged by a NPC when I'm picking locks and such, so he's all yours!"

 

Bluff Check:

Roll(1d20)+10:
19,+10
Total:29

 

He beamed as he watched the players nod to each other and make their way into the crowd.

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As soon as she set foot into the tavern for the second time of her entrapment in this game, Col was immediately greeted with violent scowls and the overbearing howls from what appeared to be a drunken brawl taking place. She hadn't expected to be involved in a fight before she had even met up with her new traveling companions or that, on top of that, their new quest would be so lively so soon.

 

Find the Bandit appeared as her new quest shortly before she entered the tavern with one failed attempt recorded. She would have to reach the rest of her team to make any sense of this and be of some use, seeing how late she was. Col attemtpted to draw her bow to navigate through the fight but discovered the game prevented the weapons from being used in the tavern.

 

"Damn game mechanic," she growled before hopping away from a flying chair. She managed to maneuver her way to the bar where she panicingly went through all her options. With all the abundant alcohol around she was incredibly close to setting the whole building on fire to run everyone outside. The dangerous idea was abandoned, however, when she could see that there wasn't much of an exit strategy. There was really nothing Col could think up that would be of anymore help at all so the only thing left was to survey the commotion as best as she could.

 

Perception check (1d20+7 = 11)

 

It was no good, she couldn't pick anything apart from the chaos.

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After collectively failing the challenge  the PCs locked in the brawl had no choice but to defend themselves or get punched in the face repeatedly. By the time Padraig managed to calm the room down and inspect everyone in it he noticed that the bandit was not among the people here. A broken window in the back of the tavern revealed his escape plan.

Yeah, he actually managed to break a window and jump out of it without anyone noticing. How depressing. Padraig quickly rallied everyone in the bar and asked whoever was willing and able to travel to the Silver Keep and get rid of the bandit threat.

The group followed Amrachus, who had done this before to the teleporter. They were greeted by a hooded figure. “Sorry, the portal next to the keep is busted. I can send you to a nearby, but can’t get you closer than that.â€

“So, wanna get ported to the farm or would you rather walk the entire way?â€

[Everyone receives 60XP. Need 3 votes for either option before proceeding.]

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"Th-This game's tough. I hope the combat encounters are easier."

 

Bachydios slumped a bit as he trailed slightly behind the rest. He hadn't been able to help at all in the bar fight, despite having access to Prestidigitation, a spell which someone in the forums had described as "one of the best cantrips ever." To break himself free from the spiral of depression, he decided to speak up as they walked to the teleporter.

 

"Anyway, hello… I'm Bachydios… and… nice to meet you all. I specialize in controlling magic and uh, I know Thunderwave. Not the Pokemon one! Mine only pushes creeps back… sorry. I guess we can do introductions while on the road."

 

“So, wanna get ported to the farm or would you rather walk the entire way?â€

 

"This game sure uses pretty informal language… oh! Don't mind me… I vote that we walk. We need a couple of easy encounters to test out how we work as a team, but ah, I'll go with whatever the team decides, of course!"

 

The phrase 'vote with your feet' suddenly occurred to him. He inched a couple of steps towards the exit, saw that nobody was following him, and came back with his head slightly bowed.

 

[Vote to Walk]

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"Well... that was pretty bad, wasn't it?" Dayereth asked, wandering back over from the corner in which he had been waiting it out. Sending those other players in apparently hadn't done much good; he hadn't even noticed the window shattering in the whole hullaboo. Well, at least he'd saved himself a few hits to the face while everyone else made a real muck of things. Why had he decided to join this expedition again? Oh yeah, because just killing things was getting boring. But I don't know if I can tolerate this much excitement... well, we're just beginning. Maybe it'll get better.

 

Aramachus seemed to know where he was going, at least--if not what he was doing--so Dayereth contented himself with following along, trying to chat up Korrelia a bit more. "'lia, you never answered my question, did you? About your absolutely stunning appearance? I gotta know if I need to brace myself if we run into more people like you, or if we're just supremely lucky."

 

With his eyes on Korrelia, Dayereth nearly bumped into their Paladin when they stopped moving. Frowning, he looked over a huge, iron-clad shoulder to see what was the problem, only to find some creepy hooded figure facing them and offering to send them somewhere.

 

"If it's all the same to you guys, I'd rather walk. My mother told me to never take rides from strangers... especially ones who are hiding their identities," Dayereth said, glaring at the suspicious weirdo. Everything about him set off alarms in the Warlock's head--dark, faceless, entirely unknown... "How do you know he's not with the bandits and this is a trap? Or if he's just going to drop us into some dragon's den for lunch?"

 

[Vote to Walk]

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It was all rather tiring, and Korrelia was feeling embarrassed that she had failed to help stop the bandit. That must indeed be a slippery one. She turned back to Dayereth, who seemed just as carefree as ever.

 

"Oh, well, I guess people in my race tend to look like me, but I pay extra attention to my looks, hair and clothing, so it's probably a bit of both. I'm not a hamadryad though, and I hear members of the fae are even more stunning. I'm just good-looking by normal standards," she answered, not quite feeling the motivation to grin.

 

"And yes, I too approve of walking. I'm a pretty good musician, and if y'all let me, I can play a few tunes on my harp, and sing, and it may lighten our spirits and our feet on this journey."

 

[vote to walk]

 

(also can I use Traveler's Chant to make us walk faster? XD)

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Aramachus was dismayed at the loss of the bandit, for he was the only one among the group who was aware of the import of capturing him. Nevertheless, it would have been a mere bonus. Their mission was still achievable.

 

"I too would not mind a jaunt on foot, since it seems the popular vote. I would give me a chance to explain the details of the quest, for those who haven't scrutinized the quest log." Aramachus agreed. "Although," he said, to Dayereth, "this hooded figure is trustworthy. I can vouch that such a figure manned the teleportation points in my previous quest, and we were delivered to and fro without harm."

 

Col had been acquainted to the group during the brief trip to the teleporter, and the group trusted she had no objection in the face of the overwhelming support of walking, so they began their walk.

 

"Now," Aramachus began, addressing the group, "we are to bring to justice a troupe of bandits hiding out at The Silver Keep, who have been raiding the town. Among their thieved good is a signet ring that belongs to Lord Padraig. However, sleuthing determined that the wizard Valthrun keenly desires the ring, and will pay handsomely for it. As such, we must recover the ring and decide whether to return it to its rightful owner for a modest reward, or to sell it to Valthrun for a greater reward - that is the extent of the information we have. The bandit whom evaded us in the inn just now was evidently one of those from the Silver Keep, judging from how Lord Padraig pointed him out as one of the raiders. So, we missed the chance to extract potentially useful intelligence about their operation." he explained, "But no matter, I have faith we shall be able to topple the bandits without such extra assistance."

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The group decided that physical exercise would be better than taking the teleporter. The five declined the creepy man's offer and started walking in the direction of the Silver Keep.

Suddenly all five of them blacked out! They couldn't hear, see or feel anything. The only evidence that they were still alive was their consciousness. After a second an empty bar appeared in front of them that slowly got filled with an unknown purple liquid. When the bar was full they regained their senses and they were suddenly at a farmstead.

So this game has loadong screens when travelling? The clock on the bottom left of their UI revealed that what felt like six seconds in the loadong screen was actually six hours in game.

For a second it seemed like the orange hue was due to the setting sun, but they quickly realized that thr butning house was equally responsible.

A wailling girl knelt in front of the farmhouse while clenching the bloody body of a middle aged man.

What happened?

[initiative order: Currently on the phone, so you guys decide the order for yourself. Don't need to roll.

Goal: Find out what happened! 6 successes before 3 failures.

Use your skills to get the full story of what transpired.]

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If traveling causes a loading screen, then what's the difference between that and porting?

 

Slightly nauseated from the traveling, Bachydios hurried past the two NPCs, taking care not to look closely at them, and performed an quick scan of the surroundings for magic-related phenomena.

 

[Arcana check: Roll(1d20)+10:

11,+10
Total:21]
 
He succeeded, but it seemed that there wasn't any magic involved in the entire affair.

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"Egad! What foul demons hath defiled this innocent farmstead!?" Aramachus exclaimed, his eyes darting about looking for enemies to smite. However, when he saw only a little girl and her apparent bleeding father, his sword remained sheathed. Whatever dastardly enemies attacked these innocents would pay, Aramachus would see such justice done. But first, there were survivors to tend to.

 

Aramachus bounded forward and knelt beside the man, inspecting his wounds. "It is okay, I am trained in the healing arts."

 

[Heal Check: 1d20+9: 17 [1d20=8]]

 

Having managed to stop the bleeding and stabilize the man's condition, Aramachus breathed a sigh of relief. "There there now, youngling. Your... father? He should be fine."

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Korrelia gulped as she looked at the poor girl cradling the man who was probably her relative. It was such a heartwrenching sight. As Bachydios went around scouring for clues, Aramachus ran up to stabilise the man's condition. Korrelia wished she knew some healing, but all she could do now was to perhaps lighten the gravity of the situation before them. As the fire raged, she took out her flute and began to play a song.

 

It was a song mired with despair and sorrow, and yet it foretold the promise of hope and better things to come. All of a sudden, the atmosphere seemed a lot less heavy, there was a surreal quality about the place. Were they grieving over the NPCs, which had been made to suffer this doomed fate only for the purpose of this game, or were they grieving for themselves, forced to make decisions they would never be confronted with in reality?

 

She walked up to the girl and knelt before her. She might be an NPC, but her emotions felt disturbingly real.

 

"I want you," Korrelia said solemnly, "to tell us what happened, from start to finish. Tell us what you want us to do. Tell us, and then put this incident behind you and lead a new life. Do you hear me?" She reached out and gave the girl a hug.

 

[Diplomacy check: 1d20 + 11 + 1 (racial bonus from Aramachus)

Roll result: 19]

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"Not gonna trust him unless I see his programming," Dayereth replied to Aramachus, crossing his arms stubbornly. "Of course he's not going to do anything suspicious at the beginning. It isn't until you trust and rely on him totally that he'll show his true colors and screw you over. That's what the villains always do, if they're smart enough. Besides, how do you know this is the same guy? Anyone could be hiding under that cloak."

 

But before he had the time to continue arguing, everything went dark except for a bar in front of him, filling with a purple liquid. Ughhhh... I knew I should have gotten out of this. Now we've broken the game. Really, what's up with it? But another Failure to Terminate Program dialog later, the darkness disappeared, replaced by a brightly-burning building, some injured guy, and a wailing girl. Dayereth had to refrain from rolling his eyes at the silly theatrics. It wasn't like crying ever solved any problems. Well, unless you were trying to guilt someone into doing something for you.

 

Everyone else was springing into action while Dayereth sulked about not getting to see the scenery. For such a touted game, this was rather below his expectations; were the programmers too lazy to include the backgrounds and everything? It wasn't about the adventure at all; he should have stuck to grinding marsh slime to dust. Sighing, he approached Korrelia, who was trying to comfort the girl and figure out what happened.

 

"Need any help, 'lia?" he asked, smiling brightly. "There might be clues around here, too. I'll start helping you look, yeah?"

 

Aid Another (HH, Perception) Check:

Roll(1d20)+6:
3,+6
Total:9

 

But with his attention half on the Kalashtar, he didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.

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"This is no time to get distracted," Col urged to Dayereth, raising her hands emphatically in the air. "We're probably very little in time! We have to settle things out here before we figure out what to do about the farm."

 

She switched her attention to the aforementioned burning building, shortly contemplating if anyone even noticed it there. She quickly regained focus (taking her own advice), and gave her assistance to Korrelia. "Korrelia! What can I do to help?"

 

[Aid HH, perception check; 1d20+7 = 19+7 = 26]

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