Shielding Alliance

Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady

CHRIS: Once is an accident. It happens to everyone. Battle is messy, and misfires are the norm.

Twice is a mistake. Bad judgement to shoot into melee again. Forgetting principle one that battle is messy.

Three times? Shooting a front line defender in the back three times? Especially when said frontline defender has been beaten down and is near death? And when their are other bad guys who are not in melee that could also be targeted?

All of this could have been forgiven with an expression of sincere regret and an apology. It seems logical if you shot someone in the back for a third time and brought him to death’s doorstep, you would be apologetic. But when confronted with the assault, the half elf responds with another threat. Not an apology but a threat. Que’se que ce? What is this?

Florent stews uneasily in the back of the Team Beta, trying to rid himself of dark thoughts and questions about Treveylan’s commitment to the ‘Shielding Alliance’.

OOFH: (Out Of Florent’s Head): Funny as hell. What an epic session. I still can’t believe Florent’s been shot three times in the back in a matter of weeks by someone whose favored enemy is humans. Coincidence? Now I’ve got the Lionel Richie song stuck in my head. I could even see a music video with the times the prince shot the teen in slow motion.

BRIAN: Is are all the statements before the OOFH in character??

ROBERTO: Why ask? Just go postal. It’ll be funny.

CHRIS: Now that was funny. Humor award of the day goes to Dr. Vargas. You can pick up your statuette next week.

CHRIS: Statements before OOFH are IOFH (Inside Of Florent’s Head). They are my attempt to use Florent’s interior monologue as a re-cap technique and to be funny. If you’re asking can Treveylan hear what Florent is thinking, “you can TRY anything” as the DM likes to say. My guess is no.

BRIAN: can hear the thoughts of most humans, as they cannot seem to keep their thoughts within their heads for long ; )

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the beginning of the end

It started out as a standard session. Sneaky types loot the bodies and search for secret doors/traps while tin man/woman types guard the exits and heal those they can. The end results of these efforts were three secret doors, a bunch of magic stuff, and boots of Cat’s grace that Sulmia took dibs on. A debate then continued, in typical Shielding Alliance fashion. Do we stay put and try to cast the Hallow scroll, requiring 24 hours, do we investigate the immediate area to be certain we won’t be interrupted during the spell casting, or do we run like chicken’s back to Homlette? (We had to at least acknowledge the Furnock vote.) To be fair even the blinded by faith Helmite was uncertain whether they could pull off the 24 hour Hallow spell, so the party agreed to at least check the exits to be sure imminent danger did not lurk.

It did.

This is where it gets sketchy. We open one of the secret doors and hear ominous barking noises that seem to have common phrases mingled with the big dog barks. Stairs ahead descend another 30 ft. Those present go on the assumption that this door will lead back to the troll room, even though the dumb as dirt cleric points out we are no longer even with that level. The half blood prince forges ahead down a long stair case (you would think Raspy had gotten over his death wish in the Thursday campaign) as the rogue “makes sure the secret door doesn’t close behind us leaving us trapped.” Kudos to Austin for doing the best Furnock/Luke/coward impersenation, without having been introduced to either. The Razzie award goes to Chris for playing Luke/Furnock as the characther quoted saying “Today is a good day to die.” after Austin had to head home and Chris took over NPCing Furnock. At least I kept him behind the shield wall.

Moving ahead, the shield wall forms and ranged attacks are exchanged. The worg retreats, replaced by some beefed up bug bears. Things get ugly when the bug bears adapt their strategy from trying to shoot at the shield wall from afar, to running up and dragging the shield wall down with them. As the onslaught comes forward, Florent feels a familiar tingle surge up his arm from his ring of free action that says, “you are so damn lucky you kept this ring”. Florent takes his free action to give her a “I told you so” look before she is dragged down the stairwell in a blur of bug bear and shields. Unfortunately the pile unfolds at the bottom of the stairs, with Turtle at the feet of a giant and a couple other bad ass MFers.

At this point the DM wisely calls a TO in the action due the fact of the missing players and their character sheets. The encounter has become too critical to assume an NPC’s character sheet. On top of this, that damn cheating Frenchmen tried to give a scroll of stinking cloud to the NPC Pertinax, when he’d already used this spell. After Florent tried to submit his prayed for spell list after the encounter was over a couple weeks ago, his credibilty is out the window. This only reinforced the experience.

In plan B fashion we decided to table the DnD experience in favor of another game. This was done so that those absent would not lament the demise of their characters after they were all decimiated, except Furnock, of course. We also wanted to punish Roberto for not answering the pages of “chaplain Hood”, so we played a rousing game of Puerto Rico. I don’t remember who won that game, but me and Dan weren’t trying anyway, so if Brian won is was a charity victory. (At this point the author succumbs to his bitterness and moves quickly towards the conclusion of this epic, extra XP deserving e-mail.)

Thanks to Dan for rallying on a short staffed week.

For everyone, please send an ‘e’ copy of your character to the rest of us in cyber space so we can print them out as necessary. Paper copies are encouraged as well.

Come next week to see if Turtle can stay within her shell long enough for fold to arrive, or at least long enough for one of use to grab a scrap of he DNA to have her raised from the dead. (I’m always the optimist.) Come see Florent elevated to the pope of the church of Helm and given near divine status. (This may not happen next week, but stay tuned.)

A few clarifications to make more sense out of what otherwise seems insensible. First, Pertinax used READ MAGIC on runes around the altar and was able to discern that they were very powerful glyphs. So climbing out of the chute via standing on top of said altar and using the rope of climbing was not an option. Furnock was going to try a way and open all the doors, but then Turtle pointed out that if they were going to ‘unhallow the unhallow’ than leaving the doors closed would help them defend the area.

Furnock couldn’t find anything that would open the doors, assuming they were ‘magically done’ making it a moot argument. Pertinax used DETECT MAGIC and then IDENTIFY from the Monacle to learn that the boots were of Cat’s Grace +4. There is also a magical ring and a magical cloak; the cloak having diamonds in the shape of the necklace of the firetemple. One of two potions is LESSER RESTORATION.

Furnock proceeds to discover 3 or 4 secret doors and after gathering up our hard-earned plunder thanks to Haversacks, we use Pertinax’s map to go out the secret door that looks to head in the direction of where we have previously been. It does dip down, but so have other corridors and when we see red eyes/hear barking, the plan was to shut the dog up, since it was chained up, making it susceptible to sneak attacks if the rogue had shot at it. (now its loose and ran in back)

We took too long to do this, it barked replies and then bugbears, followed by an ogre, and then giant feet showed up. Then another ogre and some more bugbears showed up during the exchange. Retreating into the ‘-4 to us/+4 to them’ room didn’t seem like a good idea, hence the holding the line. However, grappling appears to be the widespread ram that too easily knocks the line down.

Dan asked if we wanted to freeze the action, and without knowing what spells the pearl of power could recall, we agreed. I would have given anything to have had an area spell. Now, it is all up to a soon-to-be HASTED and fire-sword-wielding Treveylan plus a much more dextrous Sulmia to pull my shelled arse out of the fire.

On 3/27/06, Bell, Daniel (Dan) <daniel> wrote:

Also, to clarify, I should have set the base DC of Turtle's balance check at 10, not 15. Nonetheless, the add to the DC was 7 (difference in grapple check) and 2 for being on the stairs. Total DC was 19, I think Turtle got 17.

HEY! If I’d have known that, I would have rolled it. Actually, I had 2 kinds of rolls last night: Chris-like and lower than Chris-like. The one time I hit with a missiled shield spike, I did a whopping 1 point of damage. My highest roll was a 19- for Pertinax’s initiative.

Momentum of the fall prevented a second balance or reflex to check the fall. That and 450 pounds of bugbear falling with her.

We need to leave the ‘low fat’ iron rations lying around with some ‘headbands of exercise.’

SMG

p.s. the room they are coming out of is triangular-shaped, with the point away from the stairs.

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From the Deep...

After a few days of much needed recouping in town and placing orders, the party adventures back to the Temple, anticipating that the followers have more than likely regrouped and prepared for their return. A forced march will bring the party back to the Temple in good time.

On the trip back to the Temple, the party discusses the idea of debt, again. The half-elf scout stays ahead, trying to determine if new movement or activity has taken place. To his chagrin, there are fresh footprints… or as fresh as a week would allow. This time there are wolves prints, bugbear prints and humanoid prints mingled together in no real pattern. The prints are mingled outdoors, and the tracks lead inside heading toward the rear of the temple going both East and West.

He is about to speak when a thrumming resounds in his ears as he consciously attempt to hear…. he raises his hand for silence and the party’s conversation slowly dies out. Brum… brum… brum… a rhythmic pulsing from what seems to be the only logical place… the temple.

The party decides to head West, choosing to favor a path they are quite familiar with, and have thus far cleared. As the scouting part of the party moves ahead a feminine scream is heard off in the distance, by the scout, and the rogue. They signal to the party and dash off in double time toward the scream, the dual shielded fighter keeping pace with them both. Rounding the corner, the half-elf is only hesitant as he is about to hold his breath, but realizes that he has come farther into the hallway where the party had difficulty breathing before.

The drumming is vastly louder, pierced only in fragments by the screams… and then he sees it off in the distance a monstrous arm bearing a great club the size of a tree, raising and lowering in time with the drumming. Though his heart skips a beat, he does not stop, and sees that Furnock and Turtle both are keeping up with him. Sliding to a halt at the top of the stairs does he see the enormity of the drummer; an ogre, whose eyes are seemingly sown shut, beating down on the massive drums.

His eyes scan the room further to see a priest to the right full adorned in metal, golden skulls adorning his cloak, as well as mask on his face. Another priest is to the left, similarly adorned, but nearly as elaborately. They each stand beside a humanoid shape on alters, that flank…. he nearly lets loose a slight shudder from his lips, as he sees the five-headed lizard laying on the altar… sleeping it would seem, for now.

Without hesitation, he lets fly an arrow at each of the priests, hoping that he will draw their attention away from their sacrifices. The first shot carroms off the priest to the right, the second shot finds its’ mark. He runs down the stairs to the left to keep his focus on the priest he has hit already, and does so. The next few minutes seemed to dragon for years. Drums flying and Turtle fighting with the priest and the Ogre blow for blow. And then from nearly nowhere, a werewolf!! He does what he can to aid those in need, taking shots where he can, careful not to hit his compatriots. He sinks a few more shots into the priest, and then does he realize he is too close. The Ogre, though blind, can seem to sense him, by some unknown sort, perhaps by smell. The Ogre closes the distance between them, and he is no match for such a hulking foe. He tries to doge and avoid the beasts bladed gauntlets, but one slips past his defenses piercing his stomach and drawing forth much blood and gore. Grasping for his last straw, he runs away from the Ogre in a circuitous route, and tries to get past the priest again. The Ogre closes the distance again, this time blasting the blades through his back, blood pouring from his back, his stomach, and his mouth, he staggers toward the priest hoping to get away from the Ogre and the priest, but as he passes the priest lets loose his tentacles whip, striking his lifeblood form its hod as he falls to the ground at the priests feet without a sound.

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NEXT?!

Surveying the carnage admiringly, Turtle lets out a long whistle. She moves over to a werewolf corpse and delivers a boot to its head. “Well that was unexpected.” Walking over to Treveylan she grins and says; “You look like I feel.” And then motions Florent over.

“I will stand guard while Furnock checks the bodies, Florent uses the grace of Helm to heal everyone, and Pertinax sees if we can use any of this equipment. Sulmia, are you and your shadow ok?”

OOG: if its acceptable with Dan, doing the cure spells and DETECT MAGIC ahead of time would be cool, along with using the Monacle’s IDENTIFY on anything that multiple people could wear; magicla boots for example.

Florent says: “This place is most evil. More than simple consecration can redeem, I fear. I ‘ave a scroll of ‘allow, but it is most powerful. It take much time to prepare, and even then I no sure I ‘ave strength of ‘Elm enough to cast it.” Rare moment of humility for Florent, but quickly rushes ahead. “Also, it take 24 hours to cast, and I no sure this is safe or possible now. ‘Owever, I no want to leave such a den of evil to rebuild. I must take time to discern will of ‘Elm”

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recompense
wherein Turtle defends the procdeures & wrangling of the group, her new shields, and what the Shielding Alliance has done where the town has not

Turtle waits for the tirade to end, looking to see if Treveylan wants to speak next. Seeing the half-elf taciturn, she responds. “I think our group has been quite generous with our coin in the town. Moreover, our impact overall has been positive and we are, perhaps, finally accepted. The so-called charts and graphs and argument over ‘coppers’ is what makes things run properly; without order there is chaos and where there is chaos there is evil.

“I am frankly puzzled at the lack of response from the town. It was one thing not to care when it was just us newcomers exploring ruins, rooting out bandits, but the situation has become much more than we can handle on our own, and yet those in Homlett who could join us choose to ignore the danger. They instead build a tower that may matter for nothing. It is THEY who have forgotten their true duties, THEY who have allowed the cancer to return.

It also does not speak well for the Watcher’s Chosen when this all happens in the area they are charged with defending. You should be upset at them, for had we not happened upon each other accidentally, the Temple would have been unchecked completely. As it is we have already seen the absolute destruction of the Earth Temple, and have struck several blows against Fire. Is it only on the 6 of us to do everything?!

No one will be ‘fired’ for lack of success- it is the heart that matters. And while I am sorry that your shadow was hurt in that battle, it would not have happened if we had been told about it.”

(she holds up her hand)

“Please do not try to compare your familiar-thing to my new shields, for they are not the same. In any case, the group had at least some idea that my arms would be different if for no other reason that their upgrading was a reason for the much-complained about ten day. The shadow was a complete surprise.

“If we do not make serious preparations, if we do not stop this compulsive ‘we must return immediately’ manner, we will go back unprepared and to our doom, and it will be the town in ruins, and the forces of Evil dividing the spoils.”

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session re-cap.

After watching some Holy Grail, Turtle was able to convince Florent that looking for the bedrooms of the 3 ‘evil adventurers’ (the half-orc cleric, the wizard, and the other guy) would be worth checking the 2 doors. He also was astute in his calculation that this room would be similar in size to the other bedchamber.

Pertinax had hypothesized that heading out from the South door would lead back to the Temple’s main entrance, and, given the average size of the rooms encountered so far, would be reached in 3-4 rooms.

Florent was able to convince, via suggestions of close treasure, a reluctant Sir Robin (aka Furnock) to press on, and he found traps on neither door. Turtle opened the Southern door first, into some kind of evil throne room devoted to fire, complete with skulls and tapestries. The half-Elf switched spots with her, and noticed that the emblem on the tapestries was the same as on the back of Feldron’s cloak. (i.e a big red skull)

There was an OOG discussion about the realistic-ness of Taking 20 to Open Locks/Find Traps, particularly in regard to obnoxiously high Halfling rogues.

Turtle opened the other door, and it indeed appeared to be another bedroom. Of obvious note was a bronze chest, which Furnock was able to get open and a small box. {I believe there were scrolls inside, among them SHOUT, REMOVE CURSE, and TRUE STRIKE, one of my favorite spells.

Hearing voices/sounds from the South (from the throne room) the gang decided to call it a day, with the half-elf and Turtle pushing yet another bed against the door. Pertinax got slightly pyro-istic, using his 2 flasks of oil to set the bedroom and the pillow room on fire.

Turning around the corner to head back, we spied 2 bugbears and some archerish dude who shot fire arrows at us. The soon-to-be-named Shielding Alliance formed (what else) a shield wall) and proceeded to try some missile fire/non-wanded Mahjaynar at them, with limited succes. Florent had finally decided to use his tower shield the way it was meant to be used, taking full cover, and then repeatedly asking what the plan was. Sulmia used both her shadow and a decoy shadow on one of the bugears.

After there was a lot of missing with a bunch of Sulmia/Treveylan arrows from behind the shield wall, Turtle charged, got whacked by a bugbear’s AoO that ‘felt like you’ve been hit by a giant.” We were able to dispose of the bugbears thanks to some HIGH ELVEN VENGEANCE but not before one of them swallowed a potion of healing. {sigh}

The fire-fighter proved to be a little trickier, wielding a flaming longsword and axe. Pertinax missed with his arrows and a RoE, but used the Pearl of Power to get a DETECT MAGIC to learn that the banded mail (which apparently still exists in 3.5 even though no one ever wears it) was magical.

We sleddishly dragged it and the other armors to safety, and then Florent, in a rare moment of wisdom, suggested we go back to town. We headed back, having the infamous “Conversation B’ along the way, thereby officially becoming the Shielding Alliance featuring Trevelan, along with fugitives from a racist Elf King. (As if there was any other kind)

Pertinax was mindful in using the monacle to IDENTIFY items, learning that the longsword was a longsword +1, +2D6 flaming damage. There were actually 3 pearls available in town, and most of the other stuff was +1, except for suit of half-plate which was ‘protection from good’ or some crap. Turtle suggested it was time to finally buy a BEAD OF BLESSING, whereupon Sulmia bought 6 potions of Cure Serious Wounds. She and Turtle had it out about the sense of spending half of what the bead would cost on one-shot potions.

Pertinax headed up to meet with Burns about how to kill a fire-breathing hydra, and see if he could trade scrolls/get ink for his spellbook. Turtle and the gang stopped by the alchemist shop to pick up their much-waited tanglefoot bags/flash pellets.

The shopkeeper harrangued them for not getting it last week, for which the group blamed the over-eager Elf for his Hoody-Con demands to “let’s go kill something.”

Dan mentioned starting earlier next week. We all decided to call it a night around 10, as everyone was beat and stopping at town seemed a logical point. Dan will email XP for the encounters, roleplaying in session, and last week’s dozens of emails.

SMG

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A new day, yet some things never change
so the group has a new name. {cough}

Florent rises from his prostration towards the rising sun as he concludes his morning prayers. “Praise be to ‘Elm. ‘E ‘as ‘eard my supplications, and granted ‘is ‘ealing power.” He tries to convey confidence as he makes this proclamation, but the relief is evident in his face. It was a harrowing retreat from the Temple, and many in the party were sorely wounded. If Helm had not answered his pleas for the divine grace to heal, they would been in desparate straights. Knowing he has their attention now, he repeats his urgent message. “Remember, though, I agree to return to ‘Omlette because we need two full days to regain divine and arcane strength, and so it make sense to unload all this gear anyway.” He points towards the make shift sled he has been dragging behind him. “We can report back, place orders if needed, and buy necessary supplies, like 4 more bolts for Furnock. But I will no stay in town longer than is absolutely necessary. No ten day delay, no lapse in vigilance. I intend to return to our mission of crushing evil under ‘and of ‘Elm toute suite. No delay. I leave day after tomorrow at mid morn to return to Tempel. I ‘ope full strength of Alliance de Shielding is with me, but I no delay longer than this.” Florent turns to those most wounded and blows his divine wad of healing, [scratch that,] and expends all his healing power in an attempt to bring everyone back to full strength.

OOG: I’m not sure when exactly Florent is talking- on the way back to the Temple (I.e just after the B-Conversation or was he saying this after we were already back?

” I ‘ope full strength of Alliance de Shielding is with me, but I no delay longer than this.”

Turtle bites down a mean frown, looking obviously upset. “I will not discuss anything else of seriousness tonight. On one hand we have made much progress towards our group yet on the other there is the surprising news of Elvish assassins.” She holds up her hands respectfully. “No more arguing tonight friends. I would have us sleep on what we’ve learned, and add to your thoughts that while Helm is indeed watchful, it was actually a simple potion that saved Sulmia from the headed beast and an arcane fire amulet which saved me from the burning sword and axe. No diety or even his one of his agents.” She holds said arcane amulet out. “I can normally endure much pain even without such magics so I will just have to be more careful, because I cannot afford to keep this.” She pulls it off and offers the jewelry outstretched. “It should be around the neck of someone else anyways.”

(Furnock pulls the stopper from a old potion bottle and swigs its contents.) Furnock shouts in with his somewhat intelligable accent “What!? Did you forget the many headed fire belching beast? You and Florant are the primary defence aginst such a threat and now you don’t want to carry the protecting fire necklace because you might have to give up some shine! We are headed into the FIRE Temple now! (swigs more of the contents of the bottle) Now you don’t need the expensive life saving FIRE protecting necklace. You are penny wise and pound foolish! An to add insult to injury you offer it to one us knowing full well the newly established rules concerning party and individual debt. Debt is OK for Florant but mighty fighters need no protection! It stinks like the stench from carrion crawler’s nest. Furnock spits on the ground and begins kicking grass and dirt at Turtle. He stumbles then drains the rest of the bottle’s contents.

The elf moves quickly to try and defuse the situation. “No need to get this emotional. In any case, I do agree that it’s best Turtle keeps the necklace at least until we are done fighting the denizens of the Fire Temple. We could sell it then, if no one is interested in it.”

As the intoxicated gambler’s feet chuck dirt at her Turtle’s eyes narrow and she begins reaching for her shields with practiced hands. The Elven voice seems to calm her intentions, and soothed, she relaxes a little. “I fear it has already gotten emotional. I have been lied to, derided, and now openly mocked.” She points a finger at Furnock. “It is unwise to insult people, especially when you’re drunk and they’re not. I am asking you politely not to do so, less I become too angry for even Elven words.”

Looking back and forth between Sulmia and Treveylan. “Anyone else care to disparage me? If not than we should make haste for the town.”

Sulmia, “Seems to me some of us need to decide where their loyalties lie. I hear plenty of talk about saving a town an’ adopting a name of heroics. This from the same mouths that split coppers like a Calimshan moneychanger.

Give the damn sword to the elf, hang the magic jewels around Turtle’s neck, and to hell with the charts and graphs!

I give insult to the idea that you are all giving weight to splitting of treasure when the lands around you, lands filled with people with less than it takes to clean your shield, or power your spells, or train your hands for battle, or dress you to your whims, those people are what suffer should we fail.

We’ve an opportunity to strike deep to the heart of something that has grown like a cancer beneath our feet. Do we treat our company like a business in fear, wondering if our ‘due’ will come if someone who heals us, or shields us, can’t hand over the coin? Are you to fire me because my arrows will not pierce the enemy? Have you recompense for the shadow of mine you attacked, a blow that I felt in my own bones? Are all of you to add price to that, as well?

I will be happy to quibble over spoils when the Elemental Temple lies in ruins, not a moment before.”

“Well spoken, mon cheri. You ‘ave the wisdom of ‘Elm, and I thank you for making truth clear pour moi. I share your sense of urgency and priorities, and once again say we must go back toute suite, right away. Agree you that we ‘ead back morning after tomorrow? 48 hours is enough time for place orders, buy supplies, and prayer before ‘Elm, no?”

OOG: We seem to have fluxuations in the space time continuim here in the Heartlands. This time its my fault for backing up the conversation to before we got back into Homlette. In game I know we got back and talked to some people, etc. What time/day was it when we ended our session? My guess is that we’ve been back in town for a day and a half now, and its late afternoon, evening. That about right? OOG: I tried to describe the fact that Florent was speaking in the morning after the first night away from the Temple, and after the nobility revelation, hence the praying for spells at dawn, etc. I’ll drop more hints next time. Florent knew that they would be back in town that same day, and wanted to convey the message that he felt its should be as short of a return trip as possible. Hence the conviction to be back on the road to the Temple 48 hours from “now” when they woke up a half day from town.

“Turtel, how you say you no afford to keep amulet, yet you say amulet save your life? I see this with my own eyes. Plus you already make choice to ‘ave it identified, wear it through fire Tempel, get great use out of it, and now say can no keep it. This sound like you want to ‘ave cake and sell it too, ‘alf eaten. Why you speak of economy and what you afford? Party can no afford you die while we in ‘eat of battle. If this is about you wanting to get share of gold for selling item, than this is selfish to me, no selfless like you make it seem. For good of party who better to wear necklace than Alpha team door kicker opener?”

I thought we had “just” gotten back to town… we had talked a bit.. but not too much. I don’t think a day and a half in town is right, but what does a Half-Elf know about time ; )D

Argue? Us?

The DM can clear this up, but I thought we arrived in town late the first day, since it takes a day and a half to get back from the temple. I then thought we rested and identified a bunch of stuff, which would put us into the second day in Homlette. Either way, Florent wants to hit the road ASAP.

OOG: This time its my fault for backing up the conversation to before we got back into Homlette.

*I think that was a pretty realistic way to get stuff accomplished ont he way back so that we’re not spending too much time in town talking amongst ourselves; discussing party stuff on the journey back makes good use of the trip, while giving us privacy. Can we have a player vote that it’ll be SOP?

In game, there was the A-Conversation of how to leave the Temple, then the ‘seraching of/setting fire to’ the rooms, then the battle, then the leaving, then the B-Conversation with the naming. Then maybe we argued about the necklace and some other things (which we’re doing right now via emails), then we got back to town, bought some pearls, etc.

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The Original Half-Blood Prince
Where are heroes learn of a surprising secret that causes the group some duress.

Furnock, riled with energetic enthusiasm hollers, “Here here! I vote keep the name. As a man who has often gotten a bad reputation for no reason what so ever,” he states sarcastically, “I believe its better to have a name we have chosen rather than a possible negative name. NO UNANIMUS VOTES!” the gambler bellows excitedly, thumping Pertinax on the back. The Elf coughs, attempts to not fall off his seat, barely managing.

There is a small chorus of cheers. The elf clears his throat quite dramatically. “With four votes for keeping the voting system as is, and four votes to keep our group name, these questions seem settled. We are the Shielding Alliance,” he announces. More cheers. “Furnock, I am still curious to know if the townspeople have named us. Have you heard anything?”

From Elvish to Common: As far as Furnock knows ‘no,’ the townspeople haven’t given us a name. Furnock votes for a retreat by the safest (i.e.) route we know and have just used. Trevelyan express your opinion; Furnock does and never to his detriment. When he disagrees with plunging on deeper into the temple he whines about it or gives up searching for traps as a sign of protest. Your opinion and vote counts but we all have to make compromises to get anything done. We have a demon to slay. It’s about give and take…”

Trevalyn shakes his head and affirms angrily, “I have given enough in my life…I have sacrificed all that I am…All that I could have been…And yet nothing changes…” The half-Elf scornfully stares around with resentful eyes “No matter what I have said, none of you have really entertained my ideas…I will say no more…” His body sulks. “That is all.” Then, grumbling under his breath, “Alliance… really.”

Pertinax arches his eyebrow. “I can’t speak for the rest but I did consider your words. I just diagree. Why are you taking this so hard? It’s just a name.” Turtle makes another face at this last statement yet again keeps quiet. “And when did you sacrifice all that you are? What does that even mean?” His light hands wave about exasperatedly. “These things aren’t usually enough to overwhelm my keen Elven intellect but you sir, have managed to do it. I don’t understand.” The humans chuckle at this admission.

Treveylan says nothing for over a full minute, the only sound being an occasional popping from the fire. “When I left the Shea, I left on the wrong terms with me father… Tis been weighin on me mind ever since.” He places his hands upon a furrowed brow. “I left angry, said many things I wish I hadn’t…because he told me the truth about me mother… She was the one who made me half as noble as you are Pertinax…sort of. She was the Elven King’s daughter… She and my father fell in love…despite the xenophobic nature of the King.” He has everyone’s full attention. “My mother gave me up, so that me father could raise me…away from her father, who wanted me dead. As far as he knows, I am dead…,” his statement ends with almost a moan.

Pertinax’s head shakes. “A very sad story indeed. It would seem you are royalty. I still don’t see what this has to do with our current naming situation though and your reaction to our vote. I am as confused as I was before your story. Just sadder.”

“I suppose my hesitancy regarding the party’s vote has nothing to do with my past but I do not want to make it easier for him to find me…” Treveylan keeps his head down. “I was hidden for a while…but the notoriety of a Half-Elf ranger does not remain hidden for long in the Shae. The Elven king abhors half-blooded beings more than he does Humans and I hate him more for what he has done to my mother and father than anything else,” his hands squeeze together in rage, as if by will alone he could put them around that distant neck to strangle. Composed, he goes on. “I am sorry… I care not about the name. But I will not wear any marker that indicates my allegiance to the group. If only to stave of his search for me.” So it’s the Shielding Alliance, is it? Not very apropos, as only two of the party bear shields. But then, what does a name really mean?” He smiles slightly at the jest.

Turtle waits for the Elves to finish, before speaking slowly, as if making herself be patient. “No one is going to be forced to wear anything.” {pause} “I would think however, that by now I’ve explained enough why a name has importance, even if only to some of us.” {another pause} “And I have also clarified on several occasions how the ‘shielding’ part, while having some literal basis, is more descriptive about our goal of protecting the weak. In any event, the vote has been made, the die cast.” {long pause} “We are The Shielding Alliance, and may we each Stand And Be True, all through our final breath.” She makes a quick genuflecting gesture, exhales and speaks normally. “Treveylan, by ‘him’ I take you mean this Elven King or his agents? Do you have reason to suspect that they are actively looking for you? Should we be wary of this?” She looks around as if expecting Elven vengeance to come raining down or errant arrows to come flying out of the darkness.

“And this was sin against your mother and father was…exile? Imprisonment? Her face shows a deep sympathy. “I too have had my family broken, through faults from everyone and no one. We drift on god-blown seas, to be sent heading towards unknown shores.” She sighs tiredly for a second time. “Life is a troublesome lot for many who live it.”

Florent is deeply confused. “Eir to the throne but no way to prove it or claim it? Reluctant to enter Shielding Alliance and recently shot me in the back… Tell moi, this recent communication about your ‘eritage and birthright, is it an Elvish kind of recent meaning some time in the past decade, or are you receiving communication in recent days between trips to the Tempel?” Florent rubs the fresh scar the half-elf who seems to hate humans recently gave him. “Your story is grand, but surely you understand that it seem far fetched.”

“Florent… I have been carrying this information with me even before we met. It is why I crossed the sea to escape the Ilse… to avoid being killed by the King or his servants. My mother is the Kings daughter. Therefore I am a would-be prince. Would-be in the sense that if the King died, I am the next male in the bloodline and would therefore inherit the title if the King died. Again. I am sorry I shot you, it was an accident and I had no intention of harming you. I know my words mean nothing to you, but it is all I can provide at this time.”

Sulmia scolds from darkness. “My, your a plague of sadness on even my shadows. I suppose I can’t imagine how it feels to be part of the faerie folk and have centuries of dwelling on the past to look forward to.” Pertinax’s facial expression confirms this.

The half-Elf squirms, noticeably uncomfortable with the party’s focus on his past. “My frustration lies with the idea that I cannot return home. I am not sure we should fear the King or his agents. He may have servants who are hunting for me, but I am not sure. I am technically the next male heir to the throne… So perhaps I am a threat to him. My mother had a choice, kill me or be killed herself. That is how I came to be raised by my father. I just recently learned all this about my past, and is why I have not really been open with you all. I suppose the naming of our group has caused me to become restless, as mine own name is dangerous enough for me. I am sorry.” He sounds genuine and more than one comrade is showing sympathy.

Furnock shakes his head and tries to straighten his utterly destroyed lace collar. His speech is garbled and mingles several accents but the gist is; “I knew a whore in Baldur’s Gate who had a story, she said was the long lost daughter of the Pasha of Calimport, now SHE was a FANTASTIC regardless of her sob story! So don’t you worry Treveleyn, your story doesn’t seem to be effecting your killing skills in the least.” Furnock believes that this is consolation. He even moves to pat Treveleyn on the back.

Turtle inhales a deep breath and lets it out gradually. “OK. Better late than never. Certainly, if we had been attacked by Elvish assassins, this would be a VERY different conversation.” She tries to stymie a glare, starts, but softens. “There is still confusion here. On the one hand, you are ‘not sure we should fear the king’ yet you feared him enough to cross the sea.” Her fingers tally the list voice gradually rising as she traces back through what he’s told so far. “You then speculate offhandedly that you are ‘perhaps a threat to him,’ yet you- a half-breed whom he abhors, would inherit his throne. You claimed mere minutes ago that your “hesitancy regarding the party’s {name} has nothing to do with my past,” yet JUST NOW you re-canted, saying the naming of our group has caused you to become ‘restless’ whatever the hells that is supposed to mean.” She spits on the ground. “I would have excused the ‘just recently learned’ part of this ever-evolving narrative, as I realize the Elvish mind sees time differently. To us mere humans such a statement would imply, like Florent asked, between forays into the Temple. But we have spilled enough blood enough times by now to have warranted forewarning sooner, especially since you have known before you even met us.”

She shakes her head. “Especially since it could put our lives in jeopardy.”

I have to say that whole exchange was even funnier the second time I read it. Thank you, Steve. Most entertaining.

I especially liked the “Half-Blood Prince” document title. I can even see the Snape/Treveylan comparisons at work…

I suppose these emails would have more meaning if I > had a computer, and was able to open attachments…

“I suppose my hesitancy regarding the partys has nothing to do with my past…” “I suppose the naming of our group has caused me to become restless, ” “I suppose I can’t imagine how it feels to be part of the faerie folk” ‘I suppose if I make a character with the background of threatening an Elven KIng’s throne it may one day come back to bite me in the ass. And I suppose this might make my other party members may be upset at this.’ ’;P

it was not intended as a slight against your work Steve.. If that is how it came across.

I am sure it is an exceptional piece of writing…

The party has every right to be mad at Treveylan for this.. Hes used to people being angry with him, so this wont be any different from what he is used to.

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Turtle's Take
wherein our heroine explains her thought process behind 'Shielding Alliance', as well as some secrets

Turtle leans forward, seemingly eager to go first. “Treveylan, indeed spoke well. If I am to understand Pertinax’s summations, there is a motion regarding unanimity for subsequent motions to pass- or in short, we need to vote to see if all future votes need to be all yea to pass.” She smiles. “Fairness is indeed tough is it not?” A few others agree. “I vote ‘nay’ regarding all or nothing. I care about everyone, but we each see the world in various, sometimes quite opposite ways. I would think it nigh impossible to get us to always agree, and if so, we’d not be able to decide or do much. Simple majority rule for me, and no special treatment on voting for the issue of name alone.” She stretches out her legs. “Regarding anonymity, the Harpers are far from anonymous yet still thrive on secrecy. If we need to be concealed, we cover our markers and sigils, travel swiftly, and even use aliases, deception, and disguises. One would say a name that is raised through reputation could strike fear into the heart’s of enemies. On the issue of revoking the name, I again vote ‘nay’ for those reasons and Furnock’s.”

“As far as the people naming us, I have sworn holy oaths to protect this village and will see the matter through. But the manner I do this in is on my conscience. What need are names? In some lands adventuring bands are required under law to register their company. In magic arts, names have power and significance.” Pertinax bows briefly in concurrence. “Finally, for matters of honor and deed, history and stories are connected to names. They tell of what we have done.” Sulmia cocks her head, considering this.

Turtle takes a swig of water. “I will be the first volunteer to go into any room, and I shall be the very last one to go out. I do this not for bravado or glory, but to defend. To guard the rear. And this responsibility scares me, for I have recently had visions of fell darkness, and in some of these dreams I do not triumph.” A heavy sigh follows. “Florent is right to mention the hyrda-thing. Sooner or later, there will be a beast or a trap or a spell that brings one of us down. I see my own doom sure enough in giants, let alone in a demonness. Yet if I am to fall, I would fall dying to protect my friends, dying for a cause. Dying under a name…a group name…with which to be fully remembered.” She points to the mithril spikes. “And that identity is from our resolve: ‘Shielding’ because of protection and ‘Alliance’ because of this common cause. It is truly a good name- a HOLY name, in fact. I will keep it ‘til my end’s-end.” She leans back then arcs her head forward to spit a trail of liquid onto the fire, watching it hiss satisfactorily. “Besides, I am sure the Homleteers would much rather have a donation of coins or goods than the projected honor of trying to argue amongst themselves as to what we should be called. That process would be quite…chaotic.” She scowls at the thought of this. “Moreover from the last meeting with the ‘village elders’ that were involved with Feldron’s case, they made it quite clear that we are our own group, and as a unique entity to this place, should make our own counsel about matters. Certainly naming ourselves only affects us, so therefore we are the ones who shall have to resolve it.” She squats.

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except maybe they don't
aka, one member of the Alliance does not want to be referred to as being in the Alliance

“I didn’t abstain… I will not be referenced by either name,” comes the curt reply.

Pertinax sits back down, apparently a little perturbed. “”The Shielding Alliance isn’t your name. It’s the moniker of our band. What’s your problem with it?”

The half-Elven scout is rigid in his response. “I know it tis not ‘my’ name… it just that either name does not really strike any sort of chord in my heart… perhaps it be better that we take a name the “people” have given us… as most party names have somehow been derived from their exploits and their renown… namin’ ourselves is just …well, I am not sure… it just does not seem right to me.” He crosses his arms and continues. “Further, by not havin a name, we do not draw any more attention to ourselves, if certain aspects of our enemy be searchin for us…”

Without missing a beat Turtle says dryly, “Maybe it’ll sound better in Elvish. You guys have been ‘practicing’ after all.” She resumes repairing her scorched chain shirt.

He turns quickly to her, his tone civil yet unwavering. “I am not bothered by your statements or any yer beliefs of a need for a name…” Treveylan shrugs simply, “I come from me own line and clan… and dis discussion does in no way vex me…”

“You’ve a need to lighten up. Least of the dangers we face is our ration being soured by your frowns,” a sardonic Sulmia chastises from the corner.

“Me fadder once said that a name given to oneself, is as arrogant as the king who thinks his people truly need him, and could not live without him.” At the mention of his father the scout becomes poignant. “I am just not sure we be needing to name ourselves… let nature takes its course, and let the name come to us…,” he counsels softly.

“You should have voiced your concerns before the vote. I fear it is too late. We are the Shielding Alliance.” Pertinax swipes his fine Elven steel through the air as if striking an invisible foe. “If our enemy wants to search for us, let them. We’ll be ready.”

Trevelayn grumbles in Elvish mixed with common about being ‘too busy, too distracted to have participated so far.’ A woodchip from the fire lands on his shoulder, and he brushes it off angrily. He catches himself before reacting, and the frown disappears as he changes tactics. “As we have thus far voted on many things… I think we should weigh the options of naming ourselves. While it seems that a name might give us a so-called “common” alignment, that which we already have, what true need is there for naming our party??” He allows the question to hang in the air before moving onto another point. “Anonymity would better provide us cover… should we need to go into a place of ill-repute or where we may not want to be so ‘out in the open.’ While a name, and a sigil, I am sure will be next, is most definitely easier to spot, and may draw unneeded, or unwanted scrutiny.” The scout makes a gesture towards the darkness, as if there already could be unseen foes gathering around the Shielding Alliance’s campfire. “Back in the ‘Shae, the clan that I hail from did not name ourselves. Granted, we have a family name,” and again at the reference to family, he practically winces.

“The name we were called was given to us by the people we protected…for as we were their servants and protectors, it was not our right to claim the right to name ourselves. The people, will, in time, provide us the name you so desire. Let our actions speak for ourselves… not a name that we do not ALL agree upon. For if we choose to name ourselves, should it not be a name that we ALL agree to? Not merely a name by whom votes toward one name or the other… an actual agreement between the whole of us?” Again, as if a practiced orator the half-Elf waits dramatically before forging ahead.

“Alone we would not fair well by ourselves, together we stand strong and true… and while we may struggle, not much can stop us thus far, as we have proven. Our strengths and weaknesses are covered, and we have shown true merit in our resolve to rid this world of the maligned arts that the temple is harboring. Let us not dwell on the alleged need for a name, for now… we have much more that is far more important.” Here he rises to his feet, his voice filling with emotion, his hands articulating emphasis.

“But is you think that a name is so desperately needed, at least consider each person’s view… and do not let their ideas, nor their protests go unheard.” He circles carefully clockwise around the low campfire as he says this, meeting everyone’s gaze individually. “We work as a team, and therefore the name should reflect something we all agree to. That is my opinion… but then, it may not count… yet again, ” he smiles slyly at Pertinax, evidently attempting insinuation before returning quietly to his seat on a log.

Florent takes a moment to lean on his shield and scratch his head. “Treveylan, you are as charming as ever, but you make no sense. Ow does letting populus name us give us more anonymity than naming ourselves? Clearly we already ‘ave made name for ourselves. ‘Omlette knows of our exploits, Tempel knows of our exploits, surely they call us something… “You no think they recognize us by now? I think shining shield and whistle more of identifier than sigil.” He turns the headlight on his tower shield towards Treveylan to emphasize his own point, to which the scout bites his lip. “And when we start making decisions based on consensus? I no remember this requirement for unanimous agreement. We ‘ave been going with vote of majority all along, no?”

The others indicate their agreement enthusiastically. “And while I appreciate your confidence about ‘not much can stop us’, but didn’t we just run from ‘Ydra?” Turtle holds up a still-smoking shield in testament. “I say we already voted, majority like Alliance de Shielding, that is our name. Eef name no fit, or town come up with better name, we vote again.” Turtle makes a frowning face at this un-agreed upon statement but remains silent. “Your resistance and your words sound nice, but logic… ‘ow you say… come up tall?” The young cleric touches the very top of his lengthy tower shield, sticking himself with a splinter. Embarrassed, he tries to pull it out and purses his lips.

The Elf reaches over and deftly plucks the splinter from Florent’s paw. “Treveylan, thank you for that eloquent statement. I will do my best to use my headband-aided intellect to sum up your points for a more coherent debate and ultimately voting.” He minutely adjusts the magical device. “On one hand you prefer we stay nameless because you feel a name is unnecessary and because it would protect us if we need to work incognito. Florent counters that we are already known and it is too late to go incognito. So a potential vote would be to revoke our name, Shielding Alliance, and go unnamed.”

“Then you want us to wait until the populace names us because you feel it is unwise or pretentious to name your own band. I think most bands are named by their own members. Regardless, if we are to go nameless again at what point would you have us adopt a name given by the populace? I am also sure you know that the populace could very well give us an unflattering or unseemly name if they so choose or they are swayed by people who aren’t benefited by our actions nearby. I don’t see a vote needed here though. We would just wait until nature takes it’s course and people start referring to our band in some fashion. They probably do already. Furnock, have you heard anything?”

Seeing the rogue distracted with counting the plantinum coins, Pertinax carries on “Third, you’d like to change our voting system from simple majority to unanimous votes, at least in reference to party names.” It is unclear whether he is being sarcastic or prosaic here. “As far as not allowing people to express themselves, we had an open discussion and your reply was curt and distancing so we went ahead with the vote.” The Elf’s tone is not negative so much as it is matter-of-fact. “It seems like the first vote needs to be on the issue of unanimity when it comes to naming the band. I vote that a simple majority is good enough.” He holds a thumb up in the air to indicate approval. “Once this vote is resolved we can tally the votes for the issue of keeping or rejecting our current name, Shielding Alliance. I vote to keep the name.” Again, the Elf raises a thumb for his vote. “The issue of being named by the populace should only be addressed if we lose our current name. Does that make sense? What say the others on these topics?”

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