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File 144357552274.png - (2.33KB , 298x178 , 001 - Desert.png )
673811 No. 673811 ID: a107fd

Hear me, ye souls lost in the sand.
Expand all images
No. 673813 ID: a107fd
File 144357558589.png - (2.79KB , 298x178 , 002 - Hand.png )

Hope, love, and cold calculation I ask of you. Visions from beyond the sun-seared waste I promise in trade.
No. 673814 ID: a107fd
File 144357564008.png - (3.87KB , 298x178 , 003 - Blood.png )

By this blood, I invoke you.
No. 673815 ID: a107fd
File 144357569537.png - (3.13KB , 298x178 , 004 - Phlegm.png )

By this phlegm, I invoke you.
No. 673816 ID: a107fd
File 144357576194.png - (2.44KB , 164x130 , 005 - Metyelilu.png )

Give me your guidance until the Ghoul King gibbers his last.
No. 673818 ID: b5b419

I dunno, we don't have a great track record.

We are, after all, stuck in this internet desert.
No. 673819 ID: 0ee153

No. 673820 ID: 13c4a5

Who is the Ghoul King and why do you want our help?
No. 673821 ID: b2192d

I worry about our reputation when we must be invoked by phlegm.
No. 673833 ID: 2ccbb3

Define "cold calculation"; you just cut open your arm and spat on the spilled blood.

So the first thing to do is to heal the wound. Unless you have fast regeneration, at which point I'd ask what your abilities are.
No. 673849 ID: 0f1c4d

>I worry about our reputation when we must be invoked by phlegm.
And neither black nor yellow bile.
No. 673853 ID: 149da0

Sure, sounds reasonable. Standard package.

A little formal and antiquated, but that's fine.

Ew. Who's been messing with the rituals? That's not supposed to be in there.

>Give me your guidance until the Ghoul King gibbers his last.
Would you mind explaining situation in more detail? We could use a sitrep before we start planning for you. Who are you, what resources do you have, why are we hunting a ghoul, what's protecting him, that kind of thing.
No. 673872 ID: 0fc976

Believe me, we can keep on gibbering pretty long. So, what is this ritual of blood and boogers supposed to achieve?
No. 673909 ID: a107fd
File 144360019822.png - (5.87KB , 328x260 , 006 - Exposition.png )

As the name implies, he is monarch of a subterranean nation of undead corpse-eaters, out on the fraying edges of the Drakocracy's influence. I was once called by someone acting on the Ghoul King's direct orders and bound, against my will, to an intolerable term of service. Judging by the sophistication of certain multilayered precautions, I could not have been the first of my people thus violated, and by the scope of their operation I would not be the last.

The bodily humor associated with elemental water should be valued all the more in such a dry environment, and it's linked to such cool blue reason as I'm asking for. Like calls to like.

>Define "cold calculation"
Anticipation and efficient response to threats, identification and analysis of tactical or strategic choices, judgement unclouded by sentimentality. The sort of thinking that effective military leaders exude.

I'm aware that the market for such skills has a lot of "you get what you pay for." Let that be a testament to my desperation.

>heal the wound
De nada. It's already scabbed over, and in a few hours, at the absolute worst, there won't even be a scar. Gods of my caliber don't heal quite as fast as a troll, but I'm not some flimsy mortal marshland elf, either, having to sterilize and bandage every scratch just to fend off slow festering death.

>your abilities
My telepathy is more refined than most Balorians. I can comprehend and speak any language, eavesdrop on unguarded thoughts from twelve paces, and implant very specific hypnotic suggestions, or vague memories of myself as helpful and trustworthy, all with trivial effort. Long-range telepathic bondage is also possible, but won't last even a fortnight unless the recipient was in close contact and consenting as part of the setup, and can't be done right more than once or twice a day regardless.

I can step through ether or the Logos while bearing up to fifty pounds of gear, reshape my body in a variety of superficial ways, and... well, all the physical things you'd expect a winged humanoid to be capable of, if those really count as powers. Punch, kick, eat, excrete, fly, flirt, that sort of thing. My fingernails are sharper and sturdier than they look, enough to cut wood and carve the softer kinds of stone, though not as well as proper iron tools.
No. 673910 ID: a107fd
File 144360030366.png - (18.93KB , 656x520 , 007 - Go-Bag.png )

I need your help because even the lowliest ghouls are immune to most of my subtle arts, and I haven't got nearly enough muscle to take the direct approach. I can't even confidently make surgical strikes through the Logos, picking off soldiers one or two at a time and disrupting logistics, because the important sites are warded and everything in between is a pitch-dark labyrinth of twisting flowstone. Logos goes nowhere without a mental map.

With clear memories or line of sight, though, I'm only a moment's concentration away from anywhere in the world. Just two minutes ago I was on another continent, in the inner sanctum of my latest cult venture, reconsidering my life choices while some inquisitor kicked the door down. I've got the less replaceable portions of the library, assorted tools, lots of camping gear, a few enchanted trinkets, and my twelve surviving zealots in this bag here. Exact inventory can wait until we unpack, since they've only got five or ten minutes worth of air while that flap's sealed.
No. 673911 ID: 2ccbb3

Well, I guess we're ready to get this adventure started.

First off, do you have a map of the local area? We'd like to ponder what settlements there are out here, or if there's more than a desert biome on this bitter wet rock.
No. 673916 ID: ad936f

>judgement unclouded by sentimentality.
Fair warning, our judgement may be clouded by other things... You'll come to understand our personal quirks later, though.

Unless there is some way you can train yourself to become significantly more powerful in an acceptably short amount of time, we're going to have to seek help. You would do well to seek powerful underlings, perhaps there are those already sympathetic to your cause? If you know of any objects of power which we might possibly acquire then that might be a good place to start too.
No. 673928 ID: a107fd
File 144360863154.png - (26.09KB , 652x532 , 008 - Not to scale.png )

Where should I go to set up a new temple? I don't know this region, beyond major landmarks from a bird's eye view on my way across the ocean. Detailed survey would take at least a full day per hundred square miles.

Between the coastal sand dunes and the mountains, there's a strip of deciduous FOREST two or three hundred miles wide, which would be similar enough to a kobold's native habitat... if these cultists of mine weren't all lifelong townies. Except my champion, Flint Eastbold. No idea on that one's background.

Speaking of towns, from here I can see terraced FARMLAND, rolling down from a pass between two mountains and radiating out into the desert, fed by aqueducts arranged like the veins of a ginko leaf. Lot of squat mud-brick houses.

That farmland supports a CITY nestled in a pass through the mountains. Big smoky industrial district, very odd mix of architectural styles, maybe twenty to thirty thousand people inside the walls.

Any of those would quickly result in contact with the locals, from immediately in the city, to maybe a few days in the right part of the forest. If we're going to get a solid week to regroup and plan without interruption, we'd need to pick a more secluded spot.

I saw an ISLAND with what looked like a ruined fortress, surrounded by dangerous reefs, just off the coast.

We could also head deeper into the DESERT, check for abandoned cliffside villages around that dark grey MESA, or sweep the mountains for an unused CAVE, though a fight with a basilisk, mountain troll, or other cave monster might prove costly if stealth and charms fail.

Or, instead of committing immediately, I could assume a suitably pleasant yet inconspicuous visage and check out one or more sites up close. Can't take too long, though. Mortal minions in storage for travel tend to need fresh air, water, and food on a scale of minutes, hours, and days, respectively. Five time units without resupply starts to hurt morale, eight to ten causes actual health problems, and if I let fifteen time units go by without resupply there might be corpses. It's been about three minutes so far.
No. 673941 ID: 88960e

>well, all the physical things you'd expect a winged humanoid to be capable of, if those really count as powers
I'd only note the ones you're proficient or skilled at. Say, if you're a capable fighter, or a good enough flirt to charm your way into the private quarters of enemies.

>twelve surviving zealots in this bag here
Don't forget the air holes.

>time units
How long is one of these units? (How many in a day, or how many days in one).

The city and island are the two prospects that seem most interesting. A useful labor force slash industrial base, and a strong defensible position.

>possible problem
You said the undead summoned and bound you before, and their skill showed this was not an uncommon occurrence. Any plans to engage the undead needs to assume they will have some of your people serving them.
No. 673947 ID: a8517b

What do you know of how likely they are to be friendly/hostile to you, mortal magic users (which you might pretend to be), or the ghoul king? Also, who are the inquisitors you mentioned earlier and will we still need to worry about them over here?
As a side note, what do you base your cult on? Promising of salvation or enlightenment, getting them indebted to you by solving their problems with magic, just being inherently worthy of reverence as a divine being, or what?

Do you need to fully unpack to resupply, or are partial methods possible like opening the bag to let air in or taking just the mortals out while leaving the books and such in?

>Where go
That island looks promising but possibly risky. If we can partially unpack or re-pack quickly I would suggest unloading the zealots on the mesa then heading into town for information about the island. If not we should just go to the island.
No. 673950 ID: 3663d3

i like the island, reefs are little obstacle if you can reach locations via line of sight. other problems can we worked out later with proper tools and workmanship.
No. 673952 ID: cab7d6

Go to the mesa for abandoned villages. You like villages, don't you cultbolds?
No. 673956 ID: b2192d

The desire for a temple implies divinity of a sort. Are you a goddess? If so, then what of?
No. 673958 ID: 2ccbb3

Drop off your zealots in the nearby town and have them integrate with the civilians as guards. By hypnotic force, if need be. Then scout the desert to ensure that your new town is safe from a northwestern attack, and go southeast into the forest. Keep searching until you reach the coast, and head straight for the island to infiltrate the kingdom. Once you have enough data and some moles in their infrastructure, head back to town and requisition the necessary forces to take over the island.
No. 673960 ID: 3663d3

i don't think she can make anyone besides herself magically trustworthy.
No. 673980 ID: 13c4a5

The island sounds interesting, let's go there.
No. 674006 ID: 39f669

We should drop anchor along the river leading away from the town; maybe a few days away from it. That way our 'bolds can be close enough to civilization to be comfortable, but far away enough to have us not be immediately stomped if the locals don't like us.
Meanwhile, Flint cab probably go hunt in the woods or something.
No. 674316 ID: a107fd
File 144376852639.png - (23.53KB , 656x520 , 009 - Logos.png )

Alright, I'll set up a temporary camp on top of the mesa.

While they're getting the big tent assembled, should I stick around and supervise, or start on that inventory, or just say a few words and pop off for some errand right away? I could fill the bag with water (it holds nearly a cubic yard) from the river or an aqueduct, and leave it here so the 'bolds don't die of thirst, or carry it with me still mostly empty, the better to gather other provisions and loot.

Once it's time to go exploring... seems to be a tossup between big city and the island. So, which first?

For the island, even if it is long abandoned there might be magical traps or golem guardians still semi-functional. Should I cut straight to the center, or start at a respectful distance and approach through the air, or split the difference and walk up from the beach?

For checking out the city, east or west end, and overt, covert, or clandestine entry?

>I'd only note the ones you're proficient or skilled at. Say, if you're a capable fighter, or a good enough flirt to charm your way into the private quarters of enemies.

Decent at fighting. I could probably take on two or three ordinary soldiers at once and win, bare handed, without trickery. It's not hard to find heroes who could trounce me just as easily, though. A fair fight most likely means I've already lost the important points.
Better at aerobatics and stealth, and my eyesight's sharp enough to count buttons on a coat from a mile away. Anything an owl can do, I can do better.
Not especially practiced with tricky maneuvers on my actual feet, though. Why bother? Flying's faster and more fun.
No trade skills.
My main talents are social. Anthropology, diplomacy, confidence games, interrogation, seduction, impersonation, you name it. It can be a blurry line between that kind of skill and the subtle arts I mentioned before, but one way or another, give me some mortal's undivided attention for twenty minutes and I could quite possibly have him walk outside, look up, and claim that the daytime sky is burgundy red, just like it always has been. He'd even call you colorblind for disagreeing.

>Don't forget the air holes.

Exodimensional pockets don't work that way. I had an enchanted flask which would have solved the air problem, but it went missing last week. Maybe whoever tipped off the inquisitor pocketed it on their way out. Probably safer and simpler to buy a new one rather than go back to find it.

>Time units?

That's not what... okay, I explained badly. Five minutes without fresh air is bad for morale. Five hours without clean, unsalted water is bad for morale. Five days without fresh food is bad for morale. Twice that long will cause problems a pep talk can't fix, three times maybe fatal. Sixty minutes is an hour, sixty hours is exactly two and a half days. I don't know quite how long I was captive in the kingdom of the ghouls because everybody was using a different calendar system after I got out.

>What do you know of how likely they are to be friendly/hostile to you,

Me personally? I don't think I have a reputation so far afield. Balorians in general tend to get mixed reactions at best, but it's easy enough to disguise myself as whatever race seems to be more locally favored. Kobolds, operating openly in small groups, tend to get some mix of compassion and contempt, slanting more toward cautious proxy-respect wherever the Drakocracy is more active. If they seem like an army, though, or gnomes get involved, things could get ugly.

>mortal magic users (which you might pretend to be),

Innate abilities would probably be the safer claim. Formal study of foundational arcana is one of very few things the Drakocracy prohibits outright, along with combustion accelerants. Well, technically it's just a matter of "won't provide funding for unconscionably dangerous experiments," but when a meeting hall where some alchemists were chatting about pure theory burns to the ground, yet the adjacent granary, sawmill, or brewery is miraculously unscorched, and then that same guild's main patron gets tragically struck by lightning on a calm sunny day while indoors, anyone who's paying attention knows what the score is.

>or the ghoul king?

Too early to say. I've never seen a surface-dwelling nation that welcomes the undead with open arms, but he's managed to cultivate a few alliances anyway, and that defensive position would make any prospective crusader think twice.

>Also, who are the inquisitors you mentioned earlier and will we still need to worry about them over here?

Seemed like a local outfit, the usual morality-police types, although admittedly I didn't stick around long enough to suss out their entire chain of command. It's pretty unusual for any primarily religious institution to have much influence beyond a single city-state or short trade route, let alone across continents. If I thought they had the resources or inclination to follow me this far I'd still be running instead of stopping to talk.

>As a side note, what do you base your cult on?

Hedonism, mostly. Ritualized access to whatever exotic vices I can cost-effectively provide. Refined cane sugar was working pretty well for a while there, but I'm certainly open to other strategies.

>Do you need to fully unpack to resupply, or are partial methods possible like opening the bag to let air in or taking just the mortals out while leaving the books and such in?

Food and water are easy enough, but without that enchanted flask, the only reliable way to get stale air cleared out is for all the passengers to disembark. Other cargo can stay packed, although, emptying the bag out entirely is much faster than unloading bit by bit, and actually slightly less likely to break things. A momentary cushioning effect activates when you flip the bag inside out, as an integral part of the exo pocket shutting down. Batch enchanters used to cut corners on that sort of thing until Overmire set up their tax code to force standardization.

>i don't think she can make anyone besides herself magically trustworthy.

Not exactly, but I could, for example, lay my charms on someone and use the opening to provide formal introductions between them and one of my servants. Handled properly, that strictly mundane connection could then last far longer than something constructed purely with the subtle arts would have. It's the same principle that makes modern agriculture safer and, arguably, more cost-effective in the long term than some chintzy portable chalk-into-cheese transmuter. Elves learned that the hard way.

>Are you a goddess?
Yes. Didn't I mention that already? Strictly speaking the form of address you should be using is 'O Merciful Metyelilu,' the current precariousness of my divine status and bloodymindedness of my foremost ambitions notwithstanding. 'O mighty lord' would also have been acceptable, though it would be marginally insulting to use such generic any-spirit terms now that I've introduced myself.

A god is a spirit with an empowered priest, an anointed champion bearing arms, and at least seven lay worshippers. An unworshipped spirit is called a demon. Most demons join up with ideologically cohesive, ethnically homogenous mutual-aid-and-hospitality societies, such as the Balorian League (of which I was a member before attaining godhood, and which would most likely still accept my credentials). Balorians tend to...

...you know what, we can save that sidetrack until wasting breath would be less disastrous. It's time to dump out the clown cart.
No. 674332 ID: 3663d3

i think they can use a few words of inspiration, Hedonism doesn't do to well with hard times. so some promise that it wont last long should help.

lets approach the city from the east so they wont know which way or camp is. and start covert to get a better idea of what the village is, if they have their own being of worship they wont like and muscling in on their turf. bu if they are athiest or observing of land spirits you can be overt and exude some aura of "you trust me"
No. 674334 ID: 3663d3

oh, and leave them some water, if we run into any amount of loot that would require the bag, it probably wont go anywhere before we can get the bag and come back.
No. 674380 ID: 477b69

Lets give the followers a speech to reassure them (they might be a bit shaken up from having to flee what was presumably their home) then head into the city for some information.

>Innate abilities would probably be the safer claim.
Is mind reading a plausible innate ability? It it is we might consider a thing where we find someone with more money or political power than sense and pose as a mind reader offering to spy on their enemies for them while using our other powers we don't tell them about to influence them to do our bidding.
(As a side note, are your powers actually innate or studied?)

>Hedonism, mostly. Ritualized access to whatever exotic vices I can cost-effectively provide.
About that, is inexpensive long-distance transport magic rare enough that it is viable to make a profit buying things like spices for cheap where they are produced and selling them for their weight in gold a few continents away?
No. 674392 ID: 2a7417

Take inventory, fill the bag with water, and introduce your minions to us.
When exploring the fort, just cut to the center if you can, avoid setting off all those traps and it'll be that much harder for anyone but you to access the fortress.

Do mortals know of the Balorian League? It sounds hard to gain traction as a god when you make the divine sound so... mundane.
No. 674404 ID: 066a87

Oooohkay, good regen but not Wolverine or Deadpool level.

Ah, minions. Being able to put together a cult is a great skill to have. Good for you.

Wait, you made a cult based on rock candy? That's hilarious.

Those alchemists are dangerous for other reasons. There's all sorts of very nasty ways to weaponize the things they know, or will learn if given an opportunity. Even innocuous things can be used for economic warfare.

For instance, there's a way to build alchemical scrubbers that can keep the air in an enclosed space breathable for much longer, thereby avoiding the expense of another air flask.
No. 674409 ID: 149da0

You should say a few words to inspire your kobolds, and hang around a little. After having your cult slash temple overrun and betrayed, and then being shoved into a bag of holding, their moral is probably a tad low. They need to see their god is still there for them, and not see you as dumping them and running.

You should probably get them water, too. It might be wiser to assume something might delay you from getting back in time than to assume we'll quickly find loot we need to store.

>where next
I'd check out the city, after. The island is tempting, but your dominant strengths are social. Covert entry, pose as a more mundane traveler, or an inhabitant. Assessment mode- let's see what we have to work with there.

>god versus demon
Is there a difference, besides the semantic definition? Does having the bare minimum of worshipers and a label change grant you something you would otherwise lack? Or is it just a cultural or societal thing to ascend to godhood?
No. 674747 ID: a107fd
File 144396008289.png - (23.83KB , 656x520 , 010 - Breath.png )

>exude some aura of "you trust me"

I can shout basic telepathic messages to every mind within twenty paces, but real supernatural persuasive force requires narrower focus (for me, at least; I've met others who can hypnotize entire crowds at once). Range and necessary degree of concentration is comparable to throwing a knife, and the popular response to indiscriminate use isn't much better.

>Is mind reading a plausible innate ability?

Very much so. It's been known to manifest among dynastic sorcerers as weak as the 2nd circle of initiation.

>(As a side note, are your powers actually innate or studied?)

For the most part I grew into them with practice rather than tutelage. I have no desire to either antagonize dragons or rediscover the genuine risks of deep arcana.

>interdimensional mercantilism for fun and profit

That is precisely how I managed to personally fuel a cult 'based on rock candy,' as one of you put it, until some jittery addict got clever enough to cook an adequate substitute out of a particular variety of beets and thus break my monopoly.

>When exploring the fort, just cut to the center if you can, avoid setting off all those traps and it'll be that much harder for anyone but you to access the fortress.

My concern is that the former inner sanctum could have wards or traps triggered by this very act of stepping in through the logos uninvited, as would some especially brave and well-equipped assassin back in the days when a lord was still in residence. Exotic defenses might endure longer by virtue of being tested less often, while proximity alarms and pressure plates get tripped by every wild goat or incautious pirate scout. Furthermore, if something is already living in the ruins, the slower approach might give more opportunity for parley, relative to the panicked hostility which could be provoked by abruptly appearing in their bedroom. If the fast way involved no additional risk I wouldn't even be asking.

>Do mortals know of the Balorian League?

Yes, some do.

>It sounds hard to gain traction as a god when you make the divine sound so... mundane.

I am discussing these matters in more frank terms with you lost souls than I would use with most. If being a god were easy, everyone would do it.

>Is it just a cultural or societal thing to ascend to godhood?

At the low end? Pretty much, not that that's anything to take lightly. Why do you ask?

If entry-level gods have more to show for their efforts where you're from, maybe I should pack up again and head over there.

>Those alchemists are dangerous for other reasons.

And yet, in some drakocratic cities a person can buy milder incendiaries, weapons-grade acid, deadly poisons, potions potent enough to revive the recently deceased, or any number of other terrible items right off the shelf, barely any questions asked. Only a few specific formulae and lines of theoretical inquiry are denied funding unconditionally and suppressed with such precise, oblique brutality.

>air scrubbers

That enchanted flask weighed two pounds, provided enough air to keep twenty-five or thirty sedentary humanoids alive as long as they could stay awake to keep passing it around, and never needed maintenance or recharging beyond the hygienic necessity of wiping saliva off the rim. Alchemical substitutes are possible, and might even be cheaper in the short term, but involve much more weight for remotely comparable performance and have other ongoing complications.

>inspiring speech

Translated from High Draconic:
"My beloved followers, the Ghoul King's minions and allies have moved against us once again, driving you from your very homes. But do not despair! Even in this dire contingency my blessings upon you shall not falter. Endure but a few days on this desolate tableland in the between-place, watched over by my champion Flint Eastbold and..."
crap, can't remember my own high priestess's name. Gordon? Morgan? Something like that, the pet weasel's named Mr. Snuffles but... they're almost done cheering, crap crap crap gotta say something
"And ministered to by my most exalted priestess. Be true to each other, keep the faith, rest well, and practice the use of these tools I leave in your stewardship, for soon, a new sanctuary awaits!"

Alright, that's cheered them up somewhat, and makes a good segue. After we've done inventory, my plan is to fill the bag with water from the river, checking out the city's east gate in the process, leave the bag here on the mesa, disguise myself as an ordinary mortal pilgrim or tourist, walk in through the east gate, wander around to get a feel for the place, and ask a few open-ended questions about local religion and that fortified island. Figure things out from there.

Sound alright?
No. 674750 ID: 3663d3

sounds good.

also, thought for later, this black rock would make a marvelous statue.
No. 674776 ID: 0f1c4d


What kinds of things do wards do? Are we talking more along the lines of "an alarm is raised" or "immediate disintegration"?
No. 674778 ID: 3663d3

so what's the minimum you need to get an actual god like power? or is it just a thing you gotta find out? just keep getting more worshipers until something happens?
No. 674780 ID: 2ccbb3

Nice. Be sure to test the water and foliage for chemicals before you head into town. The state of the environment can give you an approximate evaluation of the town behavior.
No. 674784 ID: 149da0

>Why do you ask?
Mostly curious to what extent your powers depended on your followers. Obviously, as a god, it's your responsibility to protect and look after them, but if actually got weaker or less capable if you let their numbers fall below a minimum threshold, the priority jumps a bit.

>crap, can't remember my own high priestess's name
Note to self: the next time you spend time with your followers, leave mind reading on, check names. (Or maybe just eavesdrop, no magic needed). One advantage to having us around is we're good at remembering petty details like that.

>Sound alright?
Yup. Good plan of attack for sounding things out.
No. 674856 ID: 0fc976

If you can't remember your priestess' name, anoint her with a new one, bestowed by the gods. Something divine sounding, like... Madonna.
No. 675671 ID: a107fd
File 144443559782.png - (37.74KB , 530x545 , 011 - Pile.png )

The inventory took longer than expected, and it's still a bit disorganized. Ah well. Suppose that's the price I pay for not having a second site ready and everything properly packed in advance. Magical items, mostly quirky utilitarian stuff, are labeled in blue. Lots of heavy and/or sharp tools but the only real dedicated weapons are those dangerously stupid skull bombs. Apart from water and raw materials, I think the main thing we're missing is an anvil.

The simplest thing, of course, would just be a magical vision or proximity trigger linked to an alarm, which would only be a problem for me if there's anything still around to hear the alarm. It's possible to link such an alarm to other traps, possibly including disintegration, but most people wouldn't bother due to the complexity and expense of such powerful attack spells and the risk of friendly fire. Wards which block all dimensional travel, in and out, are also well known and and relatively harmless (though mortals cowering inside thus-warded bunkers tend to show signs of sleep deprivation after a few days or weeks, no matter how much actual rest they get).

My main concern is the possibility of something which can divert incoming travelers through time and/or into a specific destination, such as a holding cell, with more conventional wards set to activate just after arrival. Such a thing would be even more expensive to set up, but dropping an ambassador into the sparsely-furnished, armor-plated waiting room doesn't present the same strategic problems as accidental vaporization, so it's safer in the long run. Unlikely, but, well... personal history.

>actual god like power

God-like? Reading or re-writing mortal minds as lightly as so many pencil sketches, crossing an unfamiliar ocean in minutes, carving stone with bare fingers, standing among fire or lightning or a sky-darkening volley of envenomed arrows yet harmed no more than a maiden caught by soft spring rains, all that's not enough? Perhaps you were, in life, some petitioner of the "Old Gods," who'd scoff at Balor Himself for not being a thousand miles high and older than the stars. See where that gets you.
No. 675673 ID: a107fd
File 144443645731.png - (18.94KB , 656x520 , 012 - River.png )

Situation with my followers seems stable enough for now. I'll step over to that river on the other side of the mountains while they're setting up a tent.

Sensible. A quick taste-test can tell me a lot.
No. 675683 ID: 3663d3

well see, i ask because you are having trouble with someone, is why we are here. if you were powerful enough then they wouldn't be trouble. so i am asking if this god thing can be used to make you more powerful and thus remove the problem. ghoul king or no, he can't bind a God.
No. 675700 ID: 99cfa8

Blue means magic, right?

> Belt of the weasel
Does it actually turn you into a weasel? And if so, is it reversible?

> Quickchange cloak
... as in when you take the cloak off, you're wearing a different outfit? Or something else?

> apprentice's gloves
Excuse me, those are ACTUALLY Mickey's. Like what.

> apprentice's gloves
> engineer's workgloves
> miser's mask
> mallet of building
> iron cobra gauntlet
So what are the enchantment on these?

> escape ladder
Where does it take you? And also does it come with?

> iron spike of safe passage
Do you have to drive it into something, or does carrying it suffice? Also, how much protection does it give?
No. 675706 ID: a107fd
File 144444310201.png - (18.66KB , 656x520 , 013 - Poison.png )

Yow, that's nasty. Good thing Balorians are immune to poison.

Judging by this sludge, it seems like the city has extensive, poorly-regulated smelting and tanning industries. Not as much dung as I'd expect, though. Perhaps organic waste gets reprocessed to fertilize the western farms, or maybe most of the residents are awakened golems or something else that doesn't poop.

Regardless, this river water is not adequately safe for mortal consumption. Oceanic saltwater isn't appropriate, either. Gonna have to find an uncontaminated tributary, maybe. Should I go upstream, closer to the city? Downstream, closer to the swamp? Scope out more of the forest and foothills looking for unclaimed lakes or springs? Enter a settlement, pay someone who already knows the area, and get a few barrels to carry it in besides?

>if you were powerful enough then they wouldn't be trouble.

Yet I am what I am, and trouble likewise.

Worshippers are useful enough for what they can do under my orders. The right hero, with the right equipment, backed a large enough army, could easily unseat and destroy the Ghoul King, if only I found them, gathered them together, and set them on the path to do so.

To effectively harvest the substance of prayer itself, I would need a realm of my own: a space like the inside of that magical bag, but larger and more... alive. There are ways to establish such a thing from scratch, or seize it away from it's creator, or stumble upon a neglected realm, but from what I know off the top of my head, I'd hardly know where to start. There might be a few leads in my library.

>he can't bind a God.

No one, nothing, is so powerful as this thing you're trying to call "God." There's always a bigger fish. Threats and rivals. Even the old gods are numbered, arguably coequal, and prisoners to their respective natures.
No. 675711 ID: 2ccbb3

Well, this day has started out oh so idealistic.

With an eco-screwing industry, possibly with a few monopolies, your best bet is to pretend you're not trying to fit in, AND that you want to leave the moment you make a profit. Asking too many questions or holding too many assets is the equivalent of a signpost saying "I'm a malefactor, please take me out back and shoot me in the face".

Find something to sell and disguise yourself as a tired but dangerous merchant who wants a hot meal and a profit and will get the hell out when she has both.
No. 675720 ID: 5c0bfb

Change to look like some mortal and approach the city, checking nearby minds when you get close to see what sort of traveler they might find unremarkable (merchant, pilgrim, etc).

As a side note, with all the talk about binding, do you have means to prevent the Ghoul King from just summoning you again if he finds out you are plotting against him?

>Good thing Balorians are immune to poison.
Are ghouls?
No. 675759 ID: 3663d3

guess we head upstream. good thing we found this out now instead of later.
No. 678672 ID: a107fd
File 144548493614.png - (29.85KB , 644x596 , 014 - Slightly to scale.png )

To clarify, I don't have coinage or clothing available beyond what's already described, and I don't want to be unprotected, so any disguise using shapeshifting alone is going to involve a blessed moonsilver breastplate worn like a nadaka apron. Not exactly inconspicuous. Should I go ahead and attempt covert entry despite that complication, probably waiting in line at the gate, while still under time pressure to sort out the water supply? I've got no doubts about ability to talk my way through a checkpoint quickly, or find a water-seller within a couple hours, the risk is attracting attention and uncontrolled rumors by either using overt magic or leaving without paying.

Or, should I stick with the original plan? I'm no druid, but, in the middle of tens of thousands of square miles of healthy foliage, the ground water can't possibly all be this bad. Stepping through the logos a quarter- mile at a time would let me check the length of the river for an uncontaminated tributary, or some smaller settlement where I could plausibly charm all the witnesses if something went wrong, in... hm, hour and a half, maybe two. Less risk of exposure, even on a quick smash and grab, but if leads keep turning sour the search could waste a lot more time.

>Are ghouls immune to poison?
Their rubbery corpseflesh makes a mockery of all mortal metabolic frailties. They don't even really need to eat, it's just a matter of pleasure and 'research.' Moonwater hurts them, and most healing magic, and... y'know, fire and lightning and hammers and axes and so on. Anything you could use to smash up a rotten log.

>Blue means magic, right?

> Does it actually turn you into a weasel? And if so, is it reversible?
Not outwardly, and yes, the effect reverses when it's removed. Looks the same when standing still, anyway, but those who pay attention to posture and gait sometimes consider the effect disturbing. It subtly rearranges bones and muscles to increase agility overall, turn belly-crawling into a much more efficient scurrying motion (though still not as fast as walking upright) and make it possible to squeeze through extremely tight spaces. Once saw a great big beefy orc use it to slither up a pipe less than 8" in diameter, which I would've thought was narrower than his skull, fast enough that dwarven soldiers in pursuit didn't even manage to grab his feet.

> ... as in when you take the cloak off, you're wearing a different outfit? Or something else?

Pretty much. It stores three complete outfits, including makeup and even hairstyle, allowing the wearer to swap them out in seconds. It's also a sturdy mundane traveler's cloak of reasonably timeless style, good for enduring most types of inclement weather or lurking in the shadowy corner of a tavern to dispense cryptic advice.

> Excuse me, those are ACTUALLY Mickey's. Like what.
Mickey, as in, the locust saint's ratfolk apostle? That's their symbol, of course, but you're saying these are the very same ones he actually wore in life? Wow, that's... I thought I was getting a good deal when I picked 'em up at that estate sale, but a genuine relic! That could really be worth something.

Anyway, appraisal listed the dweomer as a training aid for kineticists looking to branch out. A paranoid minor noble had been using 'em to reduce his dependence on nurses despite advancing decrepitude. They allow the wearer to manipulate elemental forces in a dizzying variety of minor ways, notably:
cleaning and drying clothes without having to take them off,
producing light equivalent to a candle and/or sound just above a whisper, including slurred but intelligible speech,
refrigerating, reheating, rehydrating, and/or reflavoring food,
and lifting or manipulating objects up to 5 pounds.
Too slow, weak, and concentration-dependent to be much direct use in a fight, but sanitation saves lives, and turning cold hardtack into a culinary simulacrum of hot juicy steak is nothing to sneeze at either.

> So what are the enchantment on these?
> engineer's workgloves
Gives the wearer an intuitive tactile understanding of mechanical devices, although it's got a blind spot with regard to magical enhancements.
> miser's mask
Scent coins and gemstones like a shark to blood.
> mallet of building
Swing it and mutter the right word to create a copper nail, iron piton, or 4' high wooden fencepost, perfectly aligned with the surface you're about to strike. Works about 200 times per day, then it's a normal mallet until the next morning. Created spikes last indefinitely if left in place but crumble to grimy dust if extracted. Invented by a carpenter's apprentice who got sick of bruising her thumb, popularized after she destroyed a pack of vampires. Definitely not the original. It's one of those standard designs, like Overmire's anchor rods.

> iron cobra gauntlet
Main portion splits off and unfolds into a snake-shaped construct made of iron, which obeys the orders of whoever wears the bracelet it leaves behind. Poison sold separately.

> Where does it take you? And also does it come with?
Teleports one person who climbs off the top to a random nearby spot on the surface of the blood mire, while it stays behind, falling inert for 24 hours. More useful as a frameless hammock, honestly. It's 10' long and either end can hang in midair supporting 300 pounds.

> Do you have to drive it into something, or does carrying it suffice? Also, how much protection does it give?

Hammer the spike into a hard surface and it creates an illusion of innocuous, contextually-appropriate objects approximately filling a cube 5 yards on a side. Anyone standing inside the illusion is thereby concealed. Exact details seem to be dependent on both the environment, and the rhythm and angle of hammering; I've seen it make small hills, heaps of rubble, stacks of crates and barrels, a windowless cottage, and a few other things, but fine details always vary and sometimes it's a complete surprise. No real protection against anyone who can see through illusions. It might also moderate extreme temperatures and deflect rain and wind, but that side of the effect hasn't been thoroughly tested. It's either weak and subtle, or unreliable, or I'm imagining things.
No. 678674 ID: 7a6915

All else being equal, I've gotta wonder if you're better off putting together an evaporation purifier rig to turn seawater into distilled water. With the right setup you could make those solar-powered and fully automated, which would be useful for enjoying the defensive isolation of an abandoned island.
No. 678679 ID: 3663d3

is the island in the ocean or is that a large freshwater lake?
No. 678730 ID: 7990f0

>so any disguise using shapeshifting alone is going to involve a blessed moonsilver breastplate worn like a nadaka apron. Not exactly inconspicuous.
Then wear the cloak. Mysterious Cloaked Figure is somewhat suspicious, but is far less so than showing up visibly wearing a magic breastplate. For that matter you can appear even less suspicious than a Mysterious Cloaked Figure if you freely show 'your' (or rather a cover identity's) face and name instead of hiding under hood and anonymity.

>Pretty much. It stores three complete outfits, including makeup and even hairstyle, allowing the wearer to swap them out in seconds.
Does that include storing magic items and/or armor, and in the latter case can you swap back to stored armor fast enough to not get stabbed?

>No coin
Are you sure none of those 100 tomes can be pawned for some quick start-up money if necessary? Also, if we do end up resorting to unsubtle tactics such as blatant theft we should do so a continent away from where we are planning to build our base.

>Need water
Don't go to the city for now then and visit the FARMLAND instead. Their aqueducts have to be at least clean enough to support farm crops or the whole place would be abandoned by now.

>Moonwater hurts ghouls
Does it still work if boil it into a vapor? The disadvantage of fire, lightning, and axes is that they would likely hurt you as well as ghouls if you completely saturated your surroundings with them in a fight.
Or now that I think about area saturation, would it be possible to not enter the Ghoul King's labyrinth at all and instead use the legendary dwarven tactic of establishing a base at the entrance then pumping the labyrinth full of magma?
No. 678788 ID: a107fd
File 144555247561.png - (16.12KB , 656x520 , 015 - Signpost.png )

Ah, a mile-marker. That'll be useful.

...unfortunately half the inscriptions are in Tengwar, which I'm not naturally fluent with, and telepathic translation doesn't work on stones.
*Ten miles to the south is... raven... something... grapes? That can't be right.
*Fifty miles east, downriver, to... I'm pretty sure that word means "coast," but the one next to it is an obscenity.
*In High Draconic, with a more deeply recessed cartouche than the others: 140 miles west and up river to city of Passholdt
*in Low Draconic, a script deliberately simplified to facilitate trade: five miles east to ferry crossing
*in my native language: ten miles south along the stream and then up a hill to The Mouth of Doom

>evaporation purifier rig

The glassware could be used for that, but only in small batches. Certainly worth keeping in mind as a backup.

Considering the disagreement over definitions of the word 'god,' I'll just say that the body of water in question is over a thousand miles wide, unfathomably deep, and unpalatably salty. Call it whatever you'd like.

>wear the cloak.

Sounds good. If we're going with the merchant story, what should I say if some guard wants to search me for banned or taxable items?

>Does that include storing magic items and/or armor, and in the latter case can you swap back to stored armor fast enough to not get stabbed?

It can store enchanted jewelry, and relatively light or flexible armor like boiled leather or chain, but nothing with big rigid plates. If somebody jumped out at me swinging an axe, I'd be able to put any stored armor between myself and the second swing, but probably not the first.

>pawned for some quick start-up money
Oh, certainly! Any of the enchanted trinkets could be fairly traded for several pounds of silver, and even the mundane stuff is mostly of good craftsmanship. I simply meant I don't have actual coins on hand, and most of the stuff in the bag was originally picked because it would be particularly useful for bootstrapping and/or inconvenient to replace.

>Does [moonwater] still work if boil it into a vapor?

No, I'm pretty sure that vaporization would spoil it. It can be sprayed as a mist to good effect, with the right equipment. Downside is it hurts me too, though, conveniently, most mortals are no more harmed by moonwater than by conventional water. Like all Balorians I am utterly impervious to lightning, and unlike most, to fire as well. Molten rock presents a risk only insofar as it could crush or drown me, or destroy my equipment and allies.

>dwarven-style genocide
Flooding the ghoul king's realm with molten rock is certainly an appealing prospect, but with enough planning it's easy to defend against. Tunnels can be sealed with magical walls of force, and then he'd just hole up and wait for the magma to drain away or cool.

>As a side note, with all the talk about binding, do you have means to prevent the Ghoul King from just summoning you again if he finds out you are plotting against him?

If he's got my true name and the skill to call with it? No. However, the type of summoning previously used wasn't specific that way, more like a 'help wanted' ad. Now that I know, I can ignore it, but that won't save whoever it taps next.
No. 678798 ID: 3663d3

so the only defense against a true name call is to up the skill needed to call with it. is there a way to do that?

looks like the grass is healthier up that stream, follow it for a ways to prevent any backwash and get some water.
No. 679016 ID: 99cfa8

>the actual saint's actual gloves
...Okay, no, probably not. I mean, I don't know how to tell. I just recognized the design and was surprised to see them in this context.
No. 679465 ID: a184c1

For drinking water I still think it would be best to travel to the irrigation channels and check the water at their source.

>If we're going with the merchant story, what should I say if some guard wants to search me for banned or taxable items?
Face guard, open cloak, magic guard into seeing nothing remarkable. Though it would be preferable to mind-scan for some more convenient cover story like being a pilgrim or something.
No. 681319 ID: a107fd
File 144662823684.png - (19.78KB , 644x596 , 016 - Elvenoid.png )

Stepping back over to the mesa to grab the Quickchange Cloak, donning it, then shifting my features into a disguise, takes only moments. Elves tend to get a decent amount of respect, and quirky, cryptic habits or unusually sharp senses would be consistent enough with most stereotypes to go uncommented. How do I look?

> mind-scan for some more convenient cover story
Should be simple enough. There's a queue of wagons lined up to enter the east gate. Posing as a beggar and running a bit of telepathic surveillance soon identifies the leader of a small merchant group, near the back of the line.

Grieving widower, hasn't had a decent steak for the past week, human, or at least identifies as such and grew up speaking Humish, bitterly rehashing arguments with bookkeeper and ranch manager involving illegible correspondence, cautiously optimistic about volatility in the silk market. I can work with that.

"Greetings! I'm looking to buy some water and other supplies up ahead in Passholdt, but I'd like to do so discreetly, so if you pretend I've been with your caravan from the outset, and cover for my strange foreigner behavior, I'll improve your calligraphy and help you work through those feelings about your late wife."
>"What? Who are you, and how do you even know about that?"
"I believe I did already mention how 'I'd like to do so discreetly,' in those exact words. Further information may be negotiated separately, if we have a deal. If not, I'll look elsewhere."
>"A-alright. I'll say I took you on as a guard. Everybody knows there's no such thing as a noncombatant elf."
"Very good. Now, I suggest you stop thinking about dead people so much. You have a business to run."
>"That's the most useless advice I ever... nngyah. What were we talking about?"
"You'd just agreed to retroactively take me on as a guard and provide a safe, quiet ride into Passholdt in exchange for my magically improving your handwriting."
>"Really? Seems like there was something else. It's on the tip of my tongue."
"I helped you forget something. It'll come back in about twelve hours, and we can sort things out after that."
>"Helped... mm. Getting creepier the more I think about it. What kind of sorcerer are you?"
"The kind who just wants to acquire a barrel of clean water without everyone making a fuss."

He reaches out through a window in the side of the wagon to seal the deal with a handshake, an~~nd... that's my new telepathic bond for today. He'll be able to communicate with me silently over any distance, I can implant additional hypnotic suggestions as needed, and his overall dexterity will be better by about one standard deviation (which benefits most physical skills, including penmanship). If he seems useful, I'll get around to taking a look at his face and learning his name sooner or later.

The bond lasts until severed, either by my will or hostile magic, at which point the backlash on the mortal end would be... unpleasant. Incapacitating, for someone weak-willed or unlucky. Never fatal, unless you count the possibility of expiring from self-neglect if wounded pride is left untreated long enough. I could do a second bond sooner, but it'd be a hatchet-job, bluntly overriding the subject's will with no particular benefit to their capabilities, and strictly temporary besides.

>defense against a true name call
Having a realm of my own would be useful as a kind of anchor, but the best defense is to not let anyone learn your true name. Since you've been helpful, I'll give you a hint: mine isn't "Metyelilu." With enough information about someone's history and personality and so on, it's possible for sages to painstakingly derive their true name, as a pure logical expression of fundamental identity. Gods who choose to operate openly must be careful about the loyalty of anyone they confide in, and most have their priests publicize oversimplified or otherwise flawed legends, in part to thwart such research. That's why I cut and ran from the last site rather than fighting or following up with local contacts: five minutes of snap decisions could reveal a lot about me, to the trained eyes that were already looking, and every clue is a risk.
No. 681329 ID: 3663d3

look appropriately elvish.

if you run into another elf would you be able to fool even them or would they recognize it as fake immediately due to familiarity?
No. 681480 ID: 12b273

>How do I look?
A little bug eyed. I think that's due to the lack of any whites in your eyes though, so excuse my elf-racism.
No. 681545 ID: c735fb

That is a rather blunt way of approaching negotiations, though I guess subtlety isn't particularly necessary when you are alone with him and can use mind magic.
Do your followers have similar telepathic bonds?

>Tunnels can be sealed with magical walls of force, and then he'd just hole up and wait for the magma to drain away or cool.
>Molten rock presents a risk only insofar as it could crush or drown me, or destroy my equipment and allies.
If you managed to acquire or make the right equipment (magma-proofed air supply and means seeing through magma), would you be able to swim near the front of a magma flood and disable any force walls it runs into?
No. 681997 ID: a107fd
File 144687023590.png - (40.69KB , 736x576 , 017 - Gate.png )

That's one of the biggest waterwheels I've ever seen. Must be ten stories tall.

My "new employer's" caravan has reached the front of the line. Reasonably solid wall with trees instead of crenelations for some reason. The guards are going through a routine of well-rehearsed questions, soliciting modest bribes, and perfunctory search for the more serious kinds of contraband, such as "any animal, or non-skeletal part of an animal, which bears live young," which is legal to own but not to sell as a denominated commodity. All very standard for drakocratic cities.

The guard lieutenant mentions containerized freight. My merchant minion says there isn't any on the manifest, just conventional bales of raw spider silk. Guard says that the head of the Ministry of Punctuality, who is apparently watching through that rune on the gate's lintel, disagrees. "Magical aura indicates a Bag of Holding of the third class as well as an unregistered variety of triptych exodimensional pocket." That... might refer to my Cloak. Yep, there he goes, yelling that tariff and penalties are coming straight out of my pay.

Talk, Fight, Item, or Run?

>if you run into another elf would you be able to fool even them
Yes, reliably enough for the 'sir Bearington effect' to deal with the remainder. A different type of aura examination would provide certain indications of my Balorian heritage, but such vague clues can also be passed off as me being a powerful sorcerer with fetal manna syndrome. True Sight or other specialized methods could reveal me as shapeshifted, but that's seldom a crime in itself, and common enough as amusement for jaded third-generation nobles, or relief for adventurers who've been very thoroughly murdered, then brought back on the cheap, and can't get comfortable with a new body. Now, if the observer were an elder dragon, also in disguise, or a greater god than myself... eh, I'd have problems regardless.

>That is a rather blunt way of approaching negotiations, though I guess subtlety isn't particularly necessary
Subtlety is for people with too much time and too many powerful witnesses. That's why diplomatic pouch privileges are such a big deal: it makes a world of difference when you can skip all the poncing about with code words and eyebrow-wiggling and consultation with the Norns, and just spell out "I wish that so-and-so were injured in such-and-such a way, but lack the means and the will to dirty my own hands, thus-and-thus will be provided if you do the deed and say it was your own idea." Heavy hangs the head that wears a borrowed crown, so they say.

>when you are alone with him
Alone? No, at the time he was inside a wagon with at least three other employees, and I'm out here on the road in plain sight. We simply conducted the conversation...

>and can use mind magic.
...yes, that way. The gift of tongues can probably cough up a proper metaphor for the finer points. I'm an invitation-only wifi hotspot. That signal reaches a hundred feet, en clair or public-key encrypted, and being invited automagically opens an SMS chat window in the recipient's mind. Noobs usually can't tell the difference between a lost signal and being ignored, though, so if I step out of range and back they need to be re-pinged or they'll end up talking to themselves. I can also screenwatch from sixty feet, through almost anything less than a yard of dirt or an inch of RHA. I didn't understand half those words, but hopefully you did. Reminds me of serpentfolk technobabble.

>Do your followers have similar telepathic bonds?
Flint and Gord... no, definitely Morgan. Morgan Manslayer, that's my high priestess's name. At this very moment, she's praying to report that they've got a watch rotation and chores mostly sorted out. She also did a bit of exploring. Seems like the whole black mesa is shot through with lava tubes which were modified for habitation, and still occupied within, at most, the last few decades, judging by minecart tracks sculpted into the floor and the relative lack of corrosion on an un-enchanted crowbar she found. Seems ominous. Should I have them stay put for now, or collapse whatever entrances they find and fortify existing positions, or start systematically mapping the place with an eye toward ferreting out possible
>objects of power

Anyway, Flint and Morgan have telepathic bonds but the other ten don't yet. Figured I'd save it until they do something especially worthy of reward, or face a pressing need to operate independently.

>If you managed to acquire or make the right equipment (magma-proofed air supply and means seeing through magma), would you be able to swim near the front of a magma flood and disable any force walls it runs into?

Magma is quite comprehensively opaque, since it combines the least convenient properties of a faceful of mud and staring directly into the sun. Rockworms (thigh-thick earthworms with molten iron for blood) mostly navigate by vibration.

The standard way to disable force walls is a ray, accessible from the sixth circle, which can also peel away and powder most kinds of stone at 37 cubic yards per shot. Given that kind of firepower, frontal assault would start to look like a reasonable option even without artificial volcanism.
No. 682083 ID: ca183f

> black mesa
> crowbar
Um, I never played HL1, so I dunno what you'll find there. I expect the gravity gun will be in there (an object that allows telekinetic lifting and launching of objects up to about a cubic meter in size) buuut there might be some aliens too. Actually the gravity gun might be just a HL2 thing. Anyway yeah aliens. Probably hostile. Would not recommend it for kobolds I think. Oh and portals to an alien world. Flint might be able to handle it, depending how tough it is, but the civilians would just get themselves killed.
Unless one's a scientist, in which case give 'im the crossbar and let him loose.

> reminds me of serpentfolk technobabble
Tell me more of these serpentfolk. And, you know, their tech.

> what do
Um, ideally we'd talk our way through it and into the city but I honestly don't know how. Sorry.
No. 682087 ID: a21c7b

Show yourself and mention it's all your mercenary gear, not the merchant's cargo.
No. 682103 ID: 3663d3

can you get into his head and convince the guard it's your personal gear and not your employers and thus "legal jargo" you don't need any tariffs.
No. 682115 ID: 8896fc

>Talk, Fight, Item, or Run?
Would the magic detecting rune be able to tell if you mindscanned the guard to know their normal procedure for these things? The preferable outcome would be to get the caravan leader to smooth things over without them searching your bag by giving the right excuses and minor to moderate fees/bribes (if out of your 'payment'). If that won't work than maybe try to find some plausible excuse to 'take offense' and say you will camp outside the city until he has concluded his business there, since we really don't want them to search our bag or know a shady shapeshifter/teleporter is around. (The backup plan for water in the latter case is to search the farms.)

> black mesa , crowbar
The Black Mesa and Crowbar are portents of unintended consequences and extra-dimensional peril. That combined with the place being recently and mysteriously abandoned means that exploring it will be a dangerous prospect, though I am against collapsing
No. 682275 ID: a107fd

I tell Morgan to hold off on serious exploration for now, and have anyone who's bored start piling stones into simple noisemaker traps across the known tunnel entrances.
>mercenary gear, not the merchant's cargo
Wouldn't matter. If it's going through the gate, somebody's got to pay tax on it.
>get into his head
The old "these aren't the golems you're looking for" bit could work, but...
>Would the magic detecting rune be able to tell
Assuming the guard's telling the truth, that's not just an automated scan. It's an artificial eye, plugged into this 'Minister of Punctuality' by principles of sympathy and contagion. We had some ranking city official's undivided personal attention for at least thirty seconds. Assuming that Minister is still concentrating on this scene, anything more aggressively telepathic than a polite whisper will be noticed, unless I keep it more than twenty yards away from the gate or behind hard cover.

The good news is, having the Minister's attention would mean I could attempt to go over this guard's head, hastily negotiate with someone who's positioned to write a special exception straight into the city's official tax policies. Even without that attention, the scrying link is enough of a 'map' for me to step through the Logos directly into the Minister's office, though I'd be going in blind.

>we really don't want them to search our bag
Why, exactly? I mean, that sounds like a good general principle, but at the moment both bag and cloak are empty.
No. 682386 ID: 2f4b71

If you have the currency to pay the taxes, that's probably the best option for minimising suspicion.
No. 682408 ID: 8896fc

Oh right, I forgot we left all our magic cargo at home. In that case we can probably just show that our bag and cloak are empty, so the remaining tax would probably be reasonably small.
No. 682617 ID: a107fd

>If you have the currency
>I don't have actual coins on hand
Sounds like that's a no.
No. 682831 ID: 12b273

>Reminds me of serpentfolk technobabble.
It was technobabble, in fact. It made an analogy between your mental abilities and communication tech we're familiar with.

>Should I have them stay put for now, or collapse whatever entrances they find and fortify existing positions, or start systematically mapping the place with an eye toward ferreting out possible
I'd go for collapse and fortify.

>Talk, Fight, Item, or Run?
So... would it be a bad thing to admit to be carry the items the guards are up in arms about?

Do tariffs still apply when they're personal equipment and not trade goods?
No. 683850 ID: a107fd
File 144747571741.png - (37.14KB , 656x520 , 018 - Payday.png )

>don't know how
>Do tariffs still apply?

For a few critical moments, I'm paralyzed by uncertainty. Dracocratic trade regulations are consistent in the broad strokes, but there's always local variation. I don't know much about this city and I don't have a lot of bargaining chips yet.

The merchant finishes berating me, then turns back and begrudgingly counts out three gold coins to the guard as payment for the bag, two more for the cloak (a bribe, since officially a nonstandard storage item shouldn't be allowed in at all) and one to me, proclaiming it "the smoldering remains of your wages! I don't care what ancient foreign dueling styles you've mastered or how many deep connections you have in the Dawnweaver faction, you're no good as a caravan guard if you can't manage the basic courtesy of telling me what you're packing! Now get out of my sight."

Once we're through the checkpoint, he telepathically clarifies what just happened.
>You said you're here to buy supplies for an expedition, but you've got no boots on, and no purse under that cloak, and you move like a courtesan. If you're planning to seduce people for fun and profit, you'll run into political problems. So, I made that little scene. If I figured right, the Dawnweaver faction will be happy to assume you're one of theirs, the Duskblades will go on the defensive rather than chasing you down, at least until Chrysomelkarcalchaxis tells them to get back to work, and the higher-up Philistan Nighthammers are always happy to bargain with someone who seems to have more money than finesse. How's that for holding up my end of the deal?

One gold coin is nominally 1/60th of a pound of pure gold, but most mints strike over-weight so the dragons will tolerate impurities. Usual standard is 50 coins to the pound and no less than 85% pure. One gold coin is worth exactly 20 silver coins of the same specifications, or 400 pounds of cheap bread - enough to feed a small family for a month.

I should be able to buy a watertight 20-gallon barrel (which weighs 22 lbs empty, and is just barely narrow enough to fit into the bag without tearing anything) for eleven silver, and... well, the price of water varies from place to place, but if twenty gallons potable cost more than one silver, I'd expect to be seeing fewer unskilled laborers than there are, and more mummified corpses. Sixty-five silver coins would be enough for a portable anvil, assuming they're manufactured locally with enough competition to keep the price down. This cloak could fetch at least three hundred pounds of silver at auction among the sort of people who need to change disguises quickly, such as actresses and the classier sort of criminals. Maybe half that much if I unload it at a mirabicary for cash the same day, although there'd be room to haggle.

So, where should I head first? Sleazy Dockside Bars would be a good place to pick up small-to-medium quantities of the cheapest drinkable liquids in town, not to mention day-laborers, down-on-their-luck heroes, and dubious rumors about any interesting ruins within a few hundred miles. The Theater District offers the best options for quick yet legitimate cash. Tunnels behind that Waterwheel would let me check the river closer to it's source, maybe picking up clean water for free, and seem like a logical place for shadier dealings as well. Government offices, in and around that castle on the Mid-Town Ridge, would be the logical place to research the finer points of local law and those three major factions. It's a big city, so there are countless other options, but I don't have much time to explore just yet.
No. 683866 ID: 2ccbb3

Remember, you're a commander, not an adventurer. You've got an army of followers who can produce income and take on missions, so don't sell yourself short.

Gather intel at all 3 places, don't take any jobs unless you see the word "Epic" over any identified rewards. Make a few contacts, pretend to be a courier for the merchant caravans when you are in fact a commander.

Start with Mid-Town Ridge, get the rules before you waltz into any shady district. Then go to the Waterwheel anyway and find out what's wrong with this city. Finally, go to the Dockside Bars and hire a few mercenaries to carry your supplies, but proceed to draft them as your followers once you get back to base.
No. 683871 ID: 3663d3

you need money first. bartenders tend to not like people sitting around not ordering anything. so go get some money.
No. 683873 ID: 12b273

>How's that for holding up my end of the deal?
Dang. He's more astute than I expected. You picked a clever one.

>maybe picking up clean water for free
If there is a source of good clean water back in those areas, it isn't free. Some enterprising criminal already owns it and is making a profit off of it.

>where go
Let's check the theater district. Quick cash is what we need, and we may not want to get too far outside legit dealings until you've got a feel for the local environment.

Also, if we want to go with the cover your temporary minion gave you and seduce rich people for fun and profit, it seems like the right place for that.
No. 683913 ID: ca183f

We have the gold coin, which is quite a lot of money. The only thing I'd be worried about on that count is them not being willing/able to make change.

Meanwhile if the merchant's plan works out as intended I'd say he's useful enough to be worth getting to know. But we can decide that at the therapy session.

I feel like the best way to start is to buy us a barrel and ask the cooper where to fill it up. Then head to the bars, they probably have the juciest rumors that'll be easy to find. The shady part of town will just attract muggers to us and while they wouldn't succeed I can't think that'd be good for your cover.
No. 683979 ID: 5d5fc8

>What do
Our first priority is to go to the Mid-Town Ridge (though probably not the castle itself or anywhere too important) to find out what sorts of mind magic (especially of the information gathering sort) we can get away with (whether through legality or limited detection ability on their part). Our second priority is to find out similar information about teleportation in or out of the city. Once we have the basics of what tools we can or can't use the decisions of how to pursue our other priorities become much easier.

That merchant guy seems both clever and agreeable; he would be good to do business with in the future.
No. 685498 ID: a107fd
File 144839750182.png - (12.21KB , 416x312 , 019 - Steps.png )

>Legality of mind magic?
Gods may examine the body, mind, or soul of whomsoever they please. Any law that claims otherwise makes a mockery of itself, so the vast majority of dracocratic cities know better than to try. As for binding or breaking someone's will, the usual standard is the same as for treatment of well-behaved prisoners. Blame for any crimes committed while under such influence is transferred to the influencing party, and penalties are doubled. If someone is found to have made a false claim of mind control in order to escape responsibility for their own choices, blame is transferred back and penalties doubled again.

Still a good idea for me to check out the local nuances. Laws about teleportation are a lot less consistent.

So, here I am, having marched over the midtown ridge and into the government district. Looks like the west side of town is mostly blocky ceramic, mud-brick, and stone buildings, plastered with lurid orc-style wall art, in contrast with the more organic curvilinear architecture to the east. A few quick inquiries among random bystanders (an ill-kempt old preacher ranting about all-night parties, supine sages, and happy tombs was particularly helpful) indicated that the place to go for all my local-law-related questions is the Ministry of Heredity. Easy to find, since it's six stories tall and half a block wide. The front entrance is open to the public, but... could one of you lost souls decipher this directory in front of the staircase?

>It made an analogy between your mental abilities and communication tech we're familiar with.

Good, now we know my Gift of Tongues works normally on you.

>Tell me more of these serpentfolk. And, you know, their tech.

Most of that was, well... before my time. Before the Titanomachy, even. When Balor Himself was young he heard this story, a fading echo of their last great folly:

Long ago, the old gods walked upon the earth. The Serpent swallowed the Sun, and for a time there was no brightness or darkness or hate or healing in the world, only the Horned Queen's silvery twilight, and the Serpent's shadow, which contained every color. Feuding clans broke bread together and lions laid down with lambs; all was peace. The Blood Mire dried up, and the plants withered, and one by one the Green Breath carried everything away. The Horned Queen rose up to the sky, turned around and around, seeking new amusements to distract from her grief. When she turned her face, a rune-bound stone golem, the last relic of mortal artifice, cautiously emerged from a cave where it had been hiding from the gods. The golem professed it's love for Serpenthearth, but dared not approach any closer, for the Sun's touch would disenchant and end it. Serpenthearth asked why the golem was sharing this only now. The golem replied that all the other gods were finally calm and distant; even the Scaled Ocean, with so little left to destroy. So, Serpenthearth vomited the Sun up into the sky, even further from earth than the Moon. During that first eclipse the two of them laid together, and so were born the race of trolls, whose rage and appetite spilled sufficient blood to reinvigorate the plants, and so, in time, a full flourishing of life returned to the world. Ever after, when sunlight shines through rain, the Storm Forge and the Unbroken Word would arrange the light in memory of the Serpent's every-color shadow, and of the Hollow Pillar, who had yet taken no part in this or any other tale.

They have secret vaults and outposts in distant, obscure places. I came near such a place once - centuries ago, it's long gone by now - and witnessed them in battle. The main weapon was shaped somewhat like a crossbow, but it fires a blue-green flash that left charred holes with no magical aura. Twenty shots before it must be fed a peculiar glowing coin, sometimes two or three such coins in quick succession. They also threw fist-sized metal flasks which exploded with such violence as to make modern phosphor-laced naptha look as pathetic as rubbing sticks together, and, when those proved ineffective, other flasks which produced bitter cold of similar potency. Their armor is soft and flexible as silk, yet it withstood a babau's spear-stroke which could have sliced through six-grid steel chain.

>If there is a source of good clean water back in those areas, it isn't free. Some enterprising criminal already owns it and is making a profit off of it.

Some enterprising criminal who probably thinks talking to me, alone and unarmed, in a sealed and scry-shielded office surrounded by loyal mortal guards, is safer than going to the authorities. That's close enough to free. Might as well complain about straining your back by bending over to pick up money on the ground.
No. 685571 ID: ca183f

Man, elvish is complicated. Anyway, this sign seems to be (mostly) a transliteration of English, it transliterated back as:
> /administrakhun
> \gwonds (inn?) sorsererz
> /arbitrakhun (rh?) kwontrakwt
> \aprentiskhup
>=>/sivil literas(??)
> \arkhiv (rhrh??) geneolog(??)

So in case you can't read that, that's from top to bottom:
> Administration
> Wands and Sorcerers
> Arbitration of Contract
> Apprenticeship
> Civil Literacy
> Archive of Genealogy

Interesting that they have a full floor for "Civil Literacy". Does that mean they teach people to read here, or about laws...? Well, what you'd want is either here or one of the top two floors.

> serpentfolk story
Sounds like a general creation fable, that is to say, probably not true. Possibly based in truth, though, although I'm falling to think of anything that could swallow the sun and produce a rainbow. A... Dyson sphere... made of prisms...?
> serpentfolk stuff
Nuclear powered laser guns, hand grenades(possibly also nuclear, or maybe nitroglycerin?), um, liquid nitrogen grenades? and probably carbon weave armor. Sounds awesome. You should get some of those.
No. 685594 ID: 86cfc3

>it fires a blue-green flash that left charred holes with no magical aura
If that's what I think it is, that's because it wasn't a magical effect. It's a physical one. Although I suppose they could have used some form of magic in the design of a weapon capable of generating such an effect at that scale, or reliably. A good knowledge of physics is a heck of a lot more useful when you can cheat in order to implement it.

>That's close enough to free. Might as well complain about straining your back by bending over to pick up money on the ground.
Pfff. As your income increases there does come a tipping point where it is neither worth the time nor strain to pick up free money.

I take your point, though.
No. 686796 ID: a107fd
File 144917580870.png - (20.41KB , 656x520 , 020 - Department Queue.png )

>Well, what you'd want is either here or one of the top two floors.

I'll check out the level I'm on first, rather than climb any more stairs. Legs are feeling a little wobbly. Tucked the cloak into my bag, since it's not helping with anonymity at this point and there are a few other marsh elves wandering around in blue cloth and shiny armor. Follow the flow of the crowd further inside, through a big revolving door, and...

Well, this is interesting. Walls and ceiling are thick enough, or lined with enough metal, to block active scans, but as soon as I step inside the Bureau of Civil Literacy the telepathic sensation is almost overwhelming. Like dropping out of the ether to find yourself caught under a roaring, frigid waterfall. Probably even untrained mortals would be able to feel this.

After catching my breath, I can pick the feeling apart into six language-agnostic admonitions, in descending order of urgency, each with distinct undertones of associated knowledge, easily traceable to a particular focal point down some hallway nearby:
"speak when you're spoken to" - low draconic as a second language, accent reduction, reactive etiquette
"read the damn instructions" - literacy in low draconic and elvish, government orgchart, dumb questions
"write what you know" - composing nonfiction, shorthand, calligraphy, criminal law and police procedure
"don't shit where you eat" - food handling, housekeeping, hygiene, urban geography, environmental ethics
"mind your own business" - numeracy, personal finance, formal research, meditation, proactive etiquette
"both feet on the ground" - comparative theology, esoteric law, breath control, bandaging, firefighting

Resonance stones. Expertly tuned, at that. They're troublesome to maintain, particularly in a high-traffic, low-sanctity area like this, and (from what I've heard, at least) outright impossible to manufacture anywhere near the surface. That means the Ministry of Heredity has a supply line leading back to some high-end dweomerfabrication facility which is at least a mile underground. Maybe even the, ah, specific one I'm looking for.

Checking "instructions" first. Surprisingly short line for the general information kiosk, although there are also classrooms. Most of the mortals in front of me get quick referrals to some other department. The assistant clerk is about to leave for lunch, but clarifies that questions about teleportation would fall under esoteric law, and hands me a pamphlet summarizing the governmental structure. At the top is the hereditary Prince, advised by his Ten Virtuous Ministers:
Equity (money),
Heredity (education), Hospitality (law enforcement),
Mobility (commoner interests), Modesty (law enforcement),
Piety (religion), Punctuality (law enforcement),
Security (armed forces), Symmetry (foreign affairs),
and Thunder (is a dragon).

Hospitality, Modesty, and Punctuality all have something to do with preventing or responding to crime, but there's a lot of poetic circumlocution obfuscating the gritty details of jurisdiction. Based on what it says about uniforms, though, I can confirm that those guards at the east gate were from the Ministry of Punctuality, there's some sort of prison sunk into the north end of the midtown ridge with Ministry of Hospitality colors all over it, and the Ministry of Modesty probably handles espionage.

After locating the "feet" stone and waiting in a somewhat longer line, I learn that stepping through the Logos into or out of most parts of the city is prohibited, punishable by a hefty fine or task-bound community service. Departure is seldom actually prosecuted, except as an extra charge to press when someone flees with stolen goods or otherwise requires expensive pursuit. Arrival is much more strictly enforced. In or out, it's only officially permitted at some cavernous beacon-plaza under the castle, and inside buildings which the teleporting individual owns and maintains as private property. Co-ownership is permitted in the case of marriage, or a hunt-brother pentad, or a building could be split up along load-bearing walls with lockable doors, but it's not possible to buy, say, nine square feet in one corner of a larger room, or teleport into someone else's house with their permission. Crossing into the ether is much less of a problem, since Passholdt has ethereal perimeter walls which are just as secure as the conventional stone kind.

More questions as long as I'm here, or run off to get the water and other supplies?
No. 687010 ID: 3663d3

lets get this over with, get that water.
No. 687018 ID: d9d503

Does teleporting while still inside the city count as arriving/leaving? Aside from that I can't think of any more questions at the moment.

Lets go get some water. On our way we should quickly check for the price of cheap buyable rooms, and then either acquire one of those or depart with the teleporter platform. (I would rather avoid usually-not-prosecuted departure since if it is seen someone might use it against us at some point.)

By the way, with all this talk of teleporting into buildings, it occurs to me to ask: What happens when you try teleporting to space that something has moved into since you last saw it?
No. 687137 ID: 86cfc3

>More questions as long as I'm here, or run off to get the water and other supplies?
Nothing immediately pertinent comes to mind.
No. 687221 ID: a107fd

>Does teleporting while still inside the city count as arriving/leaving?
Stepping through the Logos from one point inside city limits to another point also inside city limits? That's an uncomfortable edge case, like shoving someone into a shark tank in self-defense. Might not be a crime in itself, but you'd have to explain all the extenuating details to a judge, and it's impolite enough to provoke considerable further investigation.

>get some water
Cheaply, up in the tunnels, or legally, down by the docks?

>price of cheap buyable rooms
Renting a room would be easy. There's no shortage of hospitality businesses. Buying outright? Not so much. Loads of paperwork, including verification of my identity. Coming up with enough money might be the least difficult part of all that. I can grease the wheels of bureaucracy well enough, but rolling them uphill still takes time and effort.

>What happens when you try teleporting to space that something has moved into since you last saw it?
If there's an obstacle in the specific spot, I'll usually end up a little bit off to one side, the same way someone might walk around an errant chair without conscious planning. If enough has changed that my memory of the area no longer constitutes an adequate description (typically takes three to five generations of routine wear and tear for inhabited areas I've had at least a month to study, or some sort of cataclysm; magnificent desolation retains landmarks almost indefinitely) I simply return to my starting point after disappearing for a moment and experiencing an unpleasant but harmless sensation, the same way a human in the dark might feel after attempting to walk through a closed door. The same applies to a destination known only through garbled secondhand accounts or flawed geometric calculations. It is entirely possible to step through the Logos to a place I have never directly perceived, given good information.

Proper Logos-stepping, as all but the lowliest Balorians do, requires sorcery of the seventh circle for mortals to duplicate. Approximations are possible at least as early as the fourth circle, but such sloppiness brings other limitations, and potentially lethal risks if mis-targeted. Even when they manage, added carrying capacity is scant compensation for the greater risk of attracting tindals or nine-tongued worms.
No. 687356 ID: 86cfc3

>Cheaply, up in the tunnels, or legally, down by the docks?
Cheaply, I think.

>Renting a room would be easy. There's no shortage of hospitality businesses.
Possible avenue to consider: if we decided to move our base of operations inside this city in the future, how doable is securing housing for you and your followers?

(Not sure we will end up going that route, but if we decide to be involved with manipulating or using this place to a greater extent, it's an option).
No. 687395 ID: a107fd

> if we decided to move our base of operations inside this city in the future,

I was already planning to move them off that mesa and back into some major settlement as quickly as reasonably practical, even before learning about the ill-omened crowbar.

>how doable is securing housing for you and your followers?

Housing at all? Trivial, if we can pay. Kobolds don't take up much space when they're huddled together for warmth. A proper secret lair? Possibly also trivial, if I'm reasonably lucky in the course of dealing with some enterprising criminal. Possibly... if the city is entirely saturated with paranoiac levels of surveillance, such as that device on the gate, it would be preferable to confirm that somehow and then choose an entirely different site.
No. 687528 ID: ca183f

> legality of intra-city teleport
> stepping through the logos is questionable
What about the ether?

> proper secret lair
... does it really need to be secret? I mean, you don't want the Ghoul King or his to find out, but aren't we sufficiently far from him for there to be little risk of that? And I mean, if you have a public face you might get new recruits.

I guess the problem there is we have to legally own a space?
No. 687564 ID: 86cfc3

It has to be secret enough that it will hide / protect our followers if we become the target of any heat, or if anyone objects to cult practices. Can't afford to lose any of 'em.

>Kobolds don't take up much space when they're huddled together for warmth.
This lot sure is willing to put up with a lot for the one time spoiled children of the upper class.

Or maybe upper class kobolds still aren't that hoity toity compared to most other people.
No. 687591 ID: 8896fc

>Possibly... if the city is entirely saturated with paranoiac levels of surveillance, such as that device on the gate, it would be preferable to confirm that somehow and then choose an entirely different site.
The most obvious way to do that would be to go somewhere shady (like the waterwheel tunnels to multitask) and attempt to locate a criminal in action whether trying to rob you or just doing something else illicit if you can easily thought-sense that sort of thing. For a criminal to act there would presumably have to be lowered surveillance, so at that point you can extract more detailed info from the criminal with minimal risk of detection.
No. 688968 ID: a107fd
File 145021635742.gif - (10.17KB , 328x260 , 021---Peek-a-Word.gif )


Easy enough to find tunnel entrances in dank alleys on the south side of town. Less foot traffic overall underground, consisting of more dwarves and half-orcs, barely any humans. No surprise there, since humans are notorious for their inability to see in total darkness, or even outside on cloudy or moonless nights. Relatively few obvious full-blooded orcs, compared to the lunch-rush crowd on surface streets, which is odd since they usually avoid bright light. Almost everyone in the tunnels is dressed like a farm laborer, miner, or blindfolded monk.

I work my way uphill, through spiral ramps and glittering galleries, toward the sound of running water. There are dozens of alcoves on either side of any major passageway, covered with flimsy barricades which presumably fold upward to reveal small shops. As I get closer to the mill-race there's a musky reptilian reek, and polished steel plates have been set into the walls at strategic points to facilitate seeing around corners. From this I can conclude that domesticated basilisks are nearby.

At last, I find my way down a half-concealed hallway and up a long ladder to a ledge about three yards square. There's an unmarked bronze door with an eyeslit which can only be opened from the far side. The gurgling roar of my goal is unmistakably close.

Now, to talk my way inside. First, I knock, in the common shave-and-a-haircut rhythm.

The viewport opens. Catlike pupils. Interesting.

I can't read thoughts through a thick metal door, or the surrounding stone walls, but with unobstructed eye contact it's no trouble at all. Figuring out what the sentry wants to hear before letting me in should be easy, like picking a lock with the tumblers all exposed.

>[confusion]Just one? oh it's an elf dressed like a [/confusion]blue-and-moonsilver duelist [panic]with NO SCARS I'm dead we're all [hope]no I can do this they might not even know for sure [/panic]gotta find some excuse to turn 'em away[/hope]"What's the p-password?"

This may be... slightly more of a challenge than I had anticipated.

>willing to put up with a lot for the one time spoiled children of the upper class.
So far they've been cut off from home for less than a day, and thanks to those gloves they still effectively have access to bathing, laundry, and gourmet food. The thrill of being on an adventure probably won't wear off for at least a few weeks.
No. 688976 ID: 3663d3

antagonize slightly with "you're stuttering, do YOU even know the password?" should make them think about it like 'wait, do i know, yes i know it's ______' or something. they will probably try to assert themselves again which is when you then say the password they just thought about.
No. 688978 ID: 2ccbb3

Sounds good, but try to stand there menacingly for one minute first.

One famous strategy is for the password to be "stay exactly where you are for one whole minute". It means you're patient and professional, and worthy of their time.
No. 688995 ID: a107fd

There is no password. The sentry thinks I'm a threat, to the point that opening the door would be certain death, and is looking for ways to shut me out without provoking overt aggression. ANY straightforward response of the form "the password is ___" will be answered with "no it isn't" and end the conversation, even if it would have been the right password five minutes ago.

I can probably get away with one short sentence as a 'password attempt.' That just might be enough of an opening to bluff or plead my way in without any magic, but I'd need to choose those few words very carefully.

I could try to implant a suggestion, or memories of past friendship, but if that fails, the window will close before I can try anything else, and any other sort of subtle arts would break my concentration on the mind-reading. Hypnotic suggestion can't compel suicidal behavior (such as inviting a deadly enemy in through your last line of defense) without somehow rationalizing it as safe or desirable first, and even a trusted friend might not be let in without the actual password.

I could apply a cruder telepathic bond, simply crushing the sentry's will to resist. That kind of mind control would be less prone to fail outright, but more likely to result in odd behavior (e.g. "yes master, I obey") which could be noticed by anyone else in the room.

I could step through Ether to bypass the door, or kick the wall until hinges tear loose from the shattered doorframe, or tap my old League contacts to get a babau involved, but any of those options would almost certainly be taken as direct confirmation of their worst fears, and thus make long-term cooperation unlikely.

with a solid barrier in the way, kissing is almost certainly out of the question.
No. 688996 ID: 3663d3

"the password is, which is worse, a powerful friend or a powerful enemy?"
No. 689045 ID: d9d503

The password is I am not yet your enemy; lets deal.
No. 689053 ID: 86cfc3

>blue-and-moonsilver duelist [panic]with NO SCARS
Huh, unusually observant for a guard, this one. That's what we get for underestimating people, or not adding all the little details to the costume.

>they might not even know for sure
Or he has good reason to think to think someone dangerous is hunting him. There's a possible angle there, if we knew more.

>what do
....how easy would it be to accept his ploy, leave, and then come back a little later wearing a less threatening face?
No. 689888 ID: a107fd
File 145078373741.gif - (34.77KB , 240x240 , 022---Staredown.gif )

I stand motionless, maintaining eye contact for a full sixty seconds, then wink left-right-left.

After another two or three heartbeats I give an exasperated sigh and cover my face with one hand.
"This isn't actually the International Brotherhood of Hashishayyin at all, let alone the Local 512 Chapterhouse, is it?"
>"No, that's the wrong..."
I snarl before the sentry can say 'password,' turning and stomping away. "Of course! That little shitstain who calls himself a cartographer smudged out some key landmark, so now I've got to waste the rest of the daylight hours wandering in this stinking labyrinth before I can even give my report." I take a deep breath, turn back, and bow. "My apologies for that outburst. I shall depart forthwith and trouble you no more." Then I step into the Ether and start gliding northward, toward the center of town and the docks.

At this point I could switch disguises, double back, and try again, or give up on infiltrating this particular criminal underworld before my cultists die of dehydration and simply head for the dockside bars to buy water (or weak booze) legitimately. Changing form isn't a necessity in the latter case, but might still be wise. Preferably something with wings, because my feet are getting seriously sore.

>Huh, unusually observant for a guard, this one. That's what we get for underestimating people,

Many of the Drakocracy's more counterintuitive policies are, at least in part, clever backhanded ways to maneuver mortals into the jobs for which they're best suited. As a result, excessive competence is endemic.

>or not adding all the little details to the costume.

A wider selection of props and deeper understanding of the local culture would certainly help, but in retrospect I should have noticed what sort of attention I was getting out in the streets earlier. I'm too used to cultivating awe, lust, and terror in my natural form, so they don't clearly stand out as inappropriate reactions the rest of the time.
No. 689911 ID: 740428

At this point we should just buy some legal water and try for criminal shenanigans later when we are in less of a hurry. As for new forms, if you know what would be relatively inconspicuous here go ahead, but if not it would be best to just stay with what you have now. (I would consider adding scars, but I do not know whether the guard was referring to general combat scars or some specific set of marking scars.)
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