Monday, August 12, 2019

Map of the River Mirar and surrounds

The named locales in the map below are known or believed to exist (in some form) in the Year of the Raging Flame (1255 DR).

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

#27: The River

With the snows breaking and conditions improving day by day, and with Greengrass but a fortnight away, our minds and our planning turns to the road ahead, and the pending meeting with Odesia and her husband Laerch.  One pending decision revolves around Zargon, and whether he intends to break his compact with Perhegan and accompany us on our journey.

In order give him better context to make that decision, we recount our initial encounter with Kezia in Shadfeld, our encounter with the witch’s great granddaughter who bore the same name, and the subsequent events that led to her death.  We explain our meeting with Odesia, the pact made to win her assistance in navigating the Khedrun Valley, and what I hope to find there.

Zargon explains the details of his deal with Perhegan, as well as a potential issue with returning to Mirabar.  Zargon got into trouble gambling and in order to avoid being sold into servitude in the undercity of Mirabar, Perhegan bought out Zargon’s debt in exchange for a year of service at Dagger’s Deep.  “How deep into debt were you?” inquires Audric.  We learn that he could owe as much as 100 gold pieces and begin to discuss how we will confront Perhegan with potential solutions to the problem.

When we meet with Perhegan with the question, he replies solemnly, “A set of able hands can be worth more than gold.”  Before we can fear, though, Perhegan continues.  “But if Zargon wishes to leave, can I truly stop him?  I won’t hold a man against his will after his debt has been paid.  If it suits everyone to come to a financial arrangement, I’ll consent for him to depart.”  He offers to close the deal for 75 gold pieces.  We agree, and Perhegan says that he holds no ill will against us, and that he expected such a thing to come to pass.

Perhegan tells us of his plans to take a wagon into Mirabar and says that our departure is a convenient opportunity to attempt such a trip with ample protection.  We agree, settle all our debts, and return to our tents to prepare.

Having spent longer at Dagger’s Deep than we have anywhere for quite some time, we are sad to depart, but excited for the road ahead.  The road ahead, as it turns out, is rough and muddy, and travel proves slow and laborious.  Several times we must force the wagon back onto the path when the wheels smash through soft, muddy ruts, though make the main road at the end of the first day, in the vicinity of Minstrel’s Glade.  The night passes uneventfully, with no signs of Anaithnid, wyverns, soldiers, or bugbears: a welcome relief.

We reach Mirabar the night before Greengrass, having passed several travelers along the road.  We decide to pass the night outside the gates, and in the morning attempt to enter the city.  At the city gates, we encounter a welcome sight—Laerch waves at us from just outside.  We bid Perhegan a final farewell amid many thanks, and he welcomes us back to Dagger’s Deep any time.  We thank him in return, and usher him towards the gates, heading forward to meet Laerch.

Laerch lets us know that preparations have been made for our journey, and as we walk through the city we encounter the sounds and smells and general crush of the Greengrass festival, with merchants hawking foods, music playing, and townsfolk milling about.  The walled fortress of Mirabar makes for a strange setting for a celebration of the spring, but the city seems alive with activity.

Along the way, a man with a huge bundle of white flowers walks towards us, handing one to Bonie and tying it into her hair before moving on to the next maiden.  I watch as she walks through the city streets, and grow concerned as her gait grows heavy, noting the telltale crease of her brow that signifies distress.  She clings to my arm, and I sense that she’s overcome with emotion, coming to grips that we’re in her home city 100 years in the past, as if all the events since Malchor’s tower have suddenly caught up with her, and threaten to overwhelm.   I do what I can to be supportive, not having any words that can relieve her sudden shock.

Laerch leads us through the streets, and Bonie remains quiet, not indicating any desire to traverse a different route.  When asked if we have any business in the city, we respond that we don’t, and we’re led further into a section with several piers, from which extend numerous docks.  At one such dock, we meet Odesia, though it takes us a moment to realize it.  She’s dressed in her traditional Keravelan garb, but we notice that she wears a heavy shawl to conceal the fact that she’s very much pregnant.  She smiles and greets us, and we’re introduced to a man, Daegahr, who will be accompanying us on the trip.

Laerch explains that he and Daegahr have been friends for many seasons, that he knows the river and the terrain, and that it’s actually Daegahr’s boat that we will be taking.  “How much of this journey is by river,” I ask, “and how much is overland?”  They explain that the first couple days will be spent on the water, as there’s no great path that leads upriver, passage by vehicle is impossible and horse is difficult, and Odesia’s condition makes travel by horseback across dangerous ground less than ideal.

Trying not to be awkward, I inquire as to what villages or settlements might exist east of Mirabar.  “There’s nothing,” Daegahr replies, “at least nothing within the bounds of fishermen’s territory.”  We learn that Dagger’s Deep lies about two days along the river, and that Odesia’s tribe settles perhaps a day from there.  The settlements that we knew—Shadfeld, Carrock—either don’t yet exist or, if they do, they’re outside the realm of Daegahr’s knowledge.

The boat is smaller than one of Perhegan’s keelboats and will require four rowers at any time to keep pace.  Fortunately, we have enough able bodies.  Odesia and Laerch have made every effort to fulfill their end of the bargain, and all preparations to depart have already been made.  Before we can depart, however, we hear a voice call out.  “Hold!” is the cry and, accompanied by another soldier, we see Rale Cotchen.

Rale glares at Odesia before turning to Laerch.  “Surely you’re not bringing a woman in such a condition on your journey,” he asks derisively.  “Our business is none of yours, cousin,” is Laerch’s reply, and the tension rises as we all wait to see what Rale’s intentions might be.

“You have staunch allies,” Rale says antagonistically, indicating me, Audric and Zargon, but after several long, awkward moments, Rale turns to his comrade and gives an order.  “See that their vessel departs safely,” he says, before walking away with what seems to be disappointment.  A collective sigh of relief washes over us, and we board the vessel and depart.

Having never been aboard any kind of watercraft before, it takes some time for me to gain my bearings, but manning one of the great oars helps and, before long, we get into the rhythm of oaring and propelling the boat upriver. As we do, Daegahr remarks to his friend, “I know he’s your cousin, Laerch, but Rale Cotchen is a shit-eating bastard.”

“I’m going to kill Rale Cotchen one day,” is my reply, and Audric’s stroke falters as he reaches back to elbow me.  Laerch looks grim but does not reply.  The last group of guards we see before departing the city raises their axes in farewell, and soon, we are in the wild.

We pass the day rowing upriver, and the punishment of the oars sets in on those of us unaccustomed to the labor.  It does give us time to talk, however, and I interrogate Odesia as to the Keravela and what to expect when we encounter them.  “We don’t have soldiers,” she replies, “so don’t expect to be greeted by guards.  Nor will you necessarily be greeted with trust and welcome.  There is a word in my language: fuge.”  She explains that it means ‘to shun’ and is often applied to those who leave or marry outside the Keravela, and while she doesn’t expect open opposition, nor will she necessarily be welcomed with open arms.  I realize that her offer to aid us, while it may have seemed superficial, is actually much more complicated.

“Worst come to worst, do we have anything to fear from the Keravela?” I ask.  She replies that they are generally a peaceful folk, and that as long as we aren’t actively hostile or rude, we can expect the same in return.

I question Daegahr about potential dangers this far upriver, and he explains that there are several barbarian tribes that, while not necessarily friendly to outsiders, aren’t openly hostile, and tend to keep the river valley safe from goblins and such.  “We are traveling early in the season, however,” he warns, explaining that the first vessels often carry most risk.

The day wears on and even Daegahr and Laerch look tired, and they explain that we need to find a suitable place to dock and establish camp.  We lean on Daegahr’s experience in the matter, and he pulls us into what looks like a small forest glade with trees bearing the first buds of spring.  A small hill provides a decent vantage point and a dry place to rest, and we begin to gather wood for a large fire.

Watches are set and I deploy a few abjurations to protect the camp, and we settle in to the sounds of a crackling fire, the river current, and the occasional call of a beast from the forest beyond.  The night passes uneventfully.  I do a quick circuit of the camp to check for signs of predators that may be tracking our progress along the river or that may have visited us in the night but find nothing.

During our second day, we see signs of fires and habitation ahead—Dagger’s Deep!  Daegahr and Laerch seem caught off-guard, and we realize that we never told them of the settlement’s presence.  Fortunately, the news is well accepted, as both Daegahr and Laerch seem pleased at the prospect of shelter and safety along the river.

Our vessel is greeted by Pol Rallinoth and others we have come to know during our time at Dagger’s Deep, we explain our journey and ask for news.  Nothing ill has passed and a cask of ale is opened in celebration, and we are glad to be among friends again for a night.  Laerch and Daegahr both seem amazed at the development.  We spend an easy night in town, with Bonie and I sharing a tent once again in familiar surroundings, and in the morning prepare for a hard day’s journey ahead.  Only the best fishers are known to go further upriver as the currents are strong.  The territory yields a bountiful catch, but the currents can be deadly. 

The river passage becomes more difficult and the weather thankfully sustains, overcast but visibility is good and doesn’t hinder our passage at all or make it too uncomfortable.  A few hours into the morning, we see on the north bank an overturned boat, and immediately I recall the pair of vigilantes that escaped into the night.  Audric seems hesitant to investigate, but I am eager to have a look and Daegahr consents to pull to shore.  As we draw closer, we see piles of furs near the water—seeming to confirm our fears that the men didn’t dock safely and escape into the wood.  When close to the bank, I jump out and have a look, and Audric recognizes the crossbow bolt sticking out of the back of the hull.  An arm dangles from beneath the overturned boat, and we right the craft, revealing the corpse of one of the vigilantes.

We investigate for signs that may reveal the cause of death—a slit throat, an arrow, claw marks.  It’s hard to tell given the time that has passed and due to the fact that the corpse is bloodless and bloated, but we discover a crude spear that looks like it has impaled the man.  Zargon asks if it’s the kind of weapon a Keravela or barbarian tribe may use, but she says it’s not an implement she recognizes and that the Uthgardt tend to dwell south of the river.  The weapon itself looks cruder than any used by the Anaithnid, hinting perhaps at the presence of goblinoids.

Remembering that the vigilantes had a stash of weapons beneath the furs, later revealed to be stolen from Mirabar, we search and find a few in good repair, but can’t account for the entire haul.  Searching the riverbank nearby, we find no trace of trail or clear evidence what may have happened.  Zargon finds a serviceable longsword and adds the weapon to his gear, and as for the body, we drag it out of the river a few yards deeper the woods before continuing our journey.

After several more hours the sun begins to set, and we decide to make camp as opposed to pressing on.  We’re all tired and the prospect of rowing into the night doesn’t appeal to anyone.  We find a suitable campsite on the south bank, and watches are split.  Everyone is on edge knowing that barbarians and worse are potentially nearby.

During the first watch, Laerch and Audric hear something in the river breaking up the usual sounds of the rippling current, and on the far shore they notice what appears to be a bipedal humanoid of some sort leave the water, walk along the riverbank, then disappear back into the water.  Audric decides not to provoke the creatures, whatever they may be, and instead chooses to keep careful watch on them.  The northern bank remains silent after the creatures disappear back into the water, but after some time, the sounds are heard again, this time closer to our camp.  Audric instructs Laerch to quietly wake the others.

Once awakened, I work a ritual to determine the presence of hidden creatures and learn that potential enemies lurk to either side of us along the river.  As Audric sends Lume to investigate, I complete another spell to protect the camp, and then all at once we hear creatures scrambling along the bank towards us, perhaps a half-dozen approaching from either side.

A wave of spears is launched into the camp by the creatures, who are revealed to have slimy, scaly skin.  They drip with water, and have large, bulbous eyes.  Both Daegahr and Laerch are hit by spears and another glances off Audric’s armor.  Zargon fires an arrow at one of the creatures and it collapses immediately, killed by a masterful shot.  Bonie and Daegahr, with his crossbow, also fire, but miss.  Audric cleaves into one of the creatures with his axe, but the enemy does not fall.  Selben’s eyes being to glow red, mimicking the monsters encountered in Shadfeld, and a group of fish-men falls into fits of trembling and shaking; all five drop their crude weapons and begin to withdraw. 

Audric engages in a furious melee supported by bowfire from the group but is surrounded by five creatures who tear at him with claw and fang.  I manage to paralyze one of the foes with magic, but not before Audric falls to a flurry of attacks.  Zargon rushes in to support Audric, and with sword, arrow and magic we try to fight the creatures off, while Laerch stumbles forward and drags Audric’s body from the fray.

The tide of the battle, however, seems to turn against us as more blows are exchanged, with our allies suffering the worst.  In desperation, I step forward, an incantation on my lips, and draw a knife across my chest drawing a thin line of blood, roaring a challenge to a trio of enemies.  The challenge is bolstered by my magic and all three charge towards me, with only one penetrating the magical defenses bestowed upon me by Audric and Malar.  Bonie and Daegahr join in against the tangle of fish-men assaulting me, as Selben sees to the paralyzed creature and Laerch tends to Audric.

Our spells, however, begin to fade and Daegahr is brutalized by one of the creatures and falls.  Laerch is assaulted by another of the creatures as Selben’s magic wears off, eliciting a cry of horror from Odesia.  Bonie nearly succumbs to multiple wounds of her own but manages to decapitate an enemy before eventually falling to the claws of another. 

Our newest companion however, Zargon, fights like a whirling blademaster, skewering one fish-man with his found longsword and decapitating another.  I roar in rage at the creature that struck down Bonie, cursing it with my morning star.  Fearing for our fallen companions and nearly overcome by wounds ourselves, only me, Zargon and Selben are left standing as Selben finishes off one of the creatures, drawing one of his knives across its scaled throat, and Zargon removes the head of the last from its body, its headless corpse slumping onto the wet ground as the head rolls to a stop nearby.

We are victorious…but by a narrow margin, and quickly begin tending to the wounded.  Though none are beyond saving, Bonie, Laerch and Daegahr remain unconscious as I use my only curative spell to revive Audric.  We are alive, but not yet out of danger.

Friday, July 26, 2019

A closer look at small decisions

In the aftermath of last night's session, Sean and I got into a good conversation about how seemingly small decisions by the player characters can have a profound affect on the outcome of the game. A few examples:

  • Audric's decision to charge in at the outset of the encounter felt questionable, and even by Sean's admission (given his intent at the time), it was. But while Audric put himself at substantial personal risk by taking on six of the creatures at once while thwarting the missile attacks of his allies on his side of the battlefield, a key positive result from this was that it kept the creatures from reaching Zeb and Selben, who used the borrowed time to fire off multiple spells at their enemies in the ensuing rounds. If Audric doesn't close this ground and all the fish-creatures converge, the culminating melee begins much earlier, possibly to a disastrous end for the party.
  • Zargon leveraged the grace of Tymora (goddess of luck, for the uninitiated) to roll several natural 20s (not to mention other high attack rolls) throughout the encounter. But, had the party not thought to explore the riverbank where the bandits' boat was overturned and specifically to question me about the presence of weapons left behind from their cargo, Zargon would still have been dealing damage with his dagger (1d4 melee, 4 points on a natural 20) vs. a longsword (1d8 melee, 8 points on a natural 20). In hindsight, this seemingly minor gain (what's a longsword worth, 15 gold?) may actually have saved the life of at least one PC, if not all.
  • Zeb's casting of taunt, while also self-sacrificing, probably saved Audric from death. At the time, Laerch had rushed into melee with several fish-monsters, hoping to drag Audric's body away and stabilize him from bleeding out. As it stood, Laerch would have drawn opportunity attacks from each enemy upon attempting to pull Audric from the fray, very likely falling himself. Whether intentional or not, the taunt spell was timed perfectly, and instead of Laerch exiting the melee, the fish-monsters darted up toward Zeb, drawing their own opportunity attacks from the characters. With the foes out of the way, Laerch was able to tend to Audric's wounds unimpeded.

I'm sure others can think of more examples, but these few stood out from our discussion. It's easy to look back after a session and not think about to how much any lone decision may have altered the game, but failing to do so makes it hard to understand the roots of success and failure, the line between which in AD&D is often so thin that every ounce of advantage you can gain for your side is of critical importance.

The onus is on the party to win every time; the bad guys only have to win once.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Interlude: Tent Talk

The sounds of labor awaken me early in the morning, of hammers pounding and saws tearing at timbers near the water wheel.  Ever since the snows first broke, the men and women of Dagger’s Deep have been busy at work making repairs on structures damaged during the long winter and pursuing new construction projects all around the burgeoning village.  Chief among these projects are repair of the water wheel and reconstruction of the river keep, a building which could very well be the keystone upon which the rest of Dagger’s Deep is situated.

Unable to get back to sleep, both due to the noise and due to an errant ray of sun which has found its way through one of the seams in the tent, I leave Bonie’s side, stepping just outside the tent flap and stretch, taking in both the last remnants of winter’s chill grasp on the air and the refreshing scent of spring growth soon to come.  My arthritic joints complain as I raise my arms to the sun, and the myriad scars stitched along my shoulders and torso strain against the effort.  “I’m getting too old for this,” I complain to no one in particular.  On cue, Jakke pads around the corner of the tent and throws me an expectant look, which he sustains until I dig a strip of dried meat from my pouch and toss it to the hound.

Bonie’s gentle snores stop a few moments later, and I can hear the sounds of her shuffling within the tent, gathering bits of clothing and armor.  Jakke peers into the tent, taking a few hesitant steps back as Bonie emerges, her brow creased and eyes pinched tight against the morning sun.  “That’s quite the look,” I chuckle, helping her arrange a few out of place straps on her armor, taking a few more moments to untangle a string of fetishes that have become entangled in her hair.  She curses at me quietly, though gently, but doesn’t interrupt my work, instead waiting until I have finished before leaning on me slightly, her arms around me.

“Nice weather today,” she says, though the tone in her voice speaks otherwise.  Ever since the snows first broke, something has weighed heavily on Bonie’s mind and I, not one to pry, have left it alone.  Perhaps she fears for the friends we’ve made in Dagger’s Deep, knowing that our intent is to take to the road again before long.  Perhaps she dreads returning to Mirabar, fears who or what she may find where she once lived.  Almost certainly, she’s worried about what lies beyond Mirabar—our pending meeting with Odesia and Laerch, and the fulfillment of her promise to guide us to her people in the Khedrun Valley.  Most likely, however, I think she fears what the coming spring may mean for the relationship which has kindled between us.

Sharing many of those same fears, I find it hard to reply at all, instead just pausing to take it all in, enjoying the moment while I can.  For sure enough, we’ll be on the road again soon, suffering the dangers of travel as predators emerge from months of hibernation to hunt and feed, trying to navigate these familiar surroundings in an unfamiliar time, towards an end that is still largely undetermined.

“I should see to the shrine,” I say reluctantly, pushing away from Bonie gently, unwilling to force the conversation, hoping desperately to hang on to what has been a peaceful and deeply satisfying respite.  Unwilling to confront the future, and what change it may bring.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Claw of the Storms

O’er pastures borne
o’ fields of green
The river I follow,
its waters clean
With the flow, I ride,
‘til my heart doth cling
To pastures borne
o’ fields of green

O’er wildlands borne
o’ skies serene
The rain doth fall,
its waters clean
‘Til Greengrass cometh,
returnéd to me
Old friendships borne
o’ fields of green

—“The Claw of the Storms”
(Northland verse)

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

#26: Unexpected Guests

Examining the cave, we find signs of the ogres’ habitation—piles of thatch that likely served as bedding, piles of refuse, the scattered belongings of a barbaric humanoid.  In one such pile of refuse, our examination is rewarded when we discover a rotting pouch that contains a few items of value and interest.  The contents spill out as we handle the pouch, revealing a pair of stoppered vials, four uncleaned gemstones of varying hues, and an assortment of coins that total approximately 35 gold pieces.

Bonie climbs one of the steep rock ledges that house the cave to see just how far the ridge runs, and whether we should expect any twists, turns, or other obstacles should we decide to pursue the ogres deeper into their lair.  The ridge runs perhaps a hundred yards, bending slightly to one direction, before it appears to spill into the forest, likely at the point of a cave opening very similar to the one we now stand in.

We decide to keep the group together, marching through the cave to make sure the ogres no longer lurk within to ambush us, carrying a few burning brands to supplement the light that creeps through the roof of the crevasse.  The cave takes the expected turn, and we tread carefully before eventually emerging from an opening on the other side.  A few sets of ogre footprints are found easily outside the cave.  Another set of ledges are discovered, these somewhat shorter than those present at the other entrance, and Bonie scales the ledge under the cover of archers to see if our foes are anywhere to be found.

Bonie calls down that she sees, at the edge of the distance, several large forms retreating from the area.  They are headed on an easterly course, mostly away from Dagger’s Deep, and we are faced with the decision to pursue them deeper into the Lurkwood or abandon our hunt, leaving the possibility for reprisals should they return.  After some discussion, we’re all in agreement that we’ve hopefully driven off the threat, and that we should quit while ahead.  No one has been injured and we have killed three of the ogres, potentially their leader, and we decide to return to Dagger’s Deep.  The fear that game will not return, however, weighs heavily on everyone’s mind.

Upon our return we report back to Pol Rallinoth, and the news is received very positively, leaving everyone in high spirits.  The coins are split among all those that accompanied the group, and the ale flows freely that night.  We find that our relationship with those around town is galvanized by the shared effort and success of the ogre hunt; I can’t help but be surprised by the warm reception, as it’s something we’ve encountered so little on our travels.

Audric spends some time in a deeper examination of the vials, cleaning the glass and inspecting the contents.  One appears to be a purplish liquid, when held to the light; the other a clear liquid, akin to river water.   Audric experiments with the liquids but is unable to ascertain their purpose, and I decide to attempt a divination the following morning to aid in the endeavor.

Thankfully, the watches pass uneventfully, and we awaken well-rested.  Selben and I have decided to split the night watch; should the ogres indeed seek revenge, each of us is equipped to at least stall the foes while Dagger’s Deep readies defenses, and we intend to continue this vigil until we can revisit the cave.

Casting a mystical eye at Audric’s vials, I determine that the purple-hued liquid is some manner of strength-granting phial, while the clear liquid is not magical in nature.  I give the former to Audric and keep the latter for myself.  Drained from the arcane effort, I retreat to my tents for the day.  Hours and days pass quickly; hunting parties are dispatched to see if the game has returned.  Neither, unfortunately, yield any success, but nor do the hunters encounter any sign of the ogres. 

After the second hunt, Perhegan and his company return from Mirabar.  His wagons carry goods and foodstuffs but are not laden as heavily as they were on our initial trip, and the leader of the settlement is brought up to speed on the events of the past week.  He seems pleased with our performance, though shares our worry over the unsuccessful hunts. 

Heavier snows fall, and conditions worsen.  We discuss a visit to the cave to see if the ogres have indeed vacated the area, but Audric talks me out of it.  Fortunately, I heed the warrior’s advice and a blistering storm greets us the following morning, pummeling the settlement for five long, cold days.  Bonfires become hard to sustain, and many are confined to their tents in a struggle to keep warm.

Audric and I administer what blessings we can to ward off the cold, helping those that are forced to face the weather to complete tasks around town or older folks less equipped and thus more vulnerable to the harsh weather.  During the storm, Audric gets to know Renwal a bit better, curious as to the man’s extent of magical knowledge, and is rewarded with a brief history of the mage’s experience with Perhegan and the other residents of Dagger’s Deep.  His arts are more utility than offensive in nature, and the old man reveals an enthusiasm to learn more about our own experiences and talents.  Audric develops a solid relationship with the hedge mage, “ministering without ministering” to Mystra’s flock.

After what seems like an eternity, the harshness of the storm relents, and Perhegan intends to send out a hunting party to replenish the settlement’s stores.  We intend to accompany this group—after such a large storm there could be any number of hungry creatures in the woods, ogres not least among them.  Perhegan assents, and we gather the three hunters that accompanied us last time, and we eventually relocate the cave, though this time it takes us a few hours longer than it did before—the heavy snows and lack of clear tracks to follow present a small obstacle.

We find the cave entrance much as we left it, with no obvious signs of occupation.  Audric ushers Lume forth to investigate, as the cat is well suited to such a scouting mission.  Aside from empathetic complaints of cold and discomfort from having to leap through snow drifts, the feline returns with no news.  We decide not to press our luck, leaving the cave as it is, and turn towards assisting the hunters in their mission—replenishing foodstuffs.  Unfortunately, yet another hunt is unsuccessful, and we return disappointed in terms of hunting, but relieved that the ogres seem to have been driven off.

After another stretch of ill weather, the worst of winter seems like it may have passed.  The storms fade into a persistent cold and wet period of weeks, during which several more hunts are sent out, each returning unsuccessful until finally, one returns with a burden worth celebrating—a huge stag.  Everyone seems put to ease at the success of the hunt, boding well for the future of Dagger’s Deep.

Another fortnight goes by, marking two months since our arrival at Dagger’s Deep.  Bare patches of earth begin to show through as the snows thaw, and the workers and laborers emerge from their tents to start work once again on the river keep.  One of the laborers, fishing the river, calls forth—a boat approaches upstream from the direction of Mirabar.

Unable to discern the purpose of the craft or those that man it, we decide to treat them as passers-by, presenting no obstacle to their passage until they prove to be something more sinister.  As it draws near, we can see that the boat is laden with goods, and two men are visible, both rowing against the current.  The men, clearly exhausted, pull the boat to Perhegan’s shore and dock their craft, dragging it up onto the land.  The men stumble onto the shore, taking long pulls from a shared waterskin.

The men reveal that they’ve been rowing nonstop upstream to escape Mirabar, and that they weren’t aware there was a settlement here; they seem glad for the respite.  Their explanation is a little suspicious, and when pressed for more information, they reveal that they had a falling out with a rival merchant, forcing them to flee with what they could of their wares.  Audric notices a broken quarrel protruding from the rear of the craft, seeming to corroborate their tale.  The boat is piled high with pelts and furs.

Upon further conversation with the men, they explain that they were sold equity in a mine north of Mirabar; the mine turned out to be flooded, devoid of any potential, and the traders lost a huge portion of their wealth.  The merchant that sold them the shares was prominent enough that it became a contest of their claim against his, and the merchant’s contacts within the city proved stronger than the traders’ word.  They were subsequently chased from Mirabar by the merchant, thus arriving at Dagger’s Deep in the condition we found them today.

We take the opportunity to ask for news of Mirabar and learn that the city is largely the same in this time period as it was in our own.  Nothing about their description of the city seems exceptional.  When asked where they are headed, they reveal that their plan was to continue upriver, seek sanctuary until the weather breaks, and then decide on a proper course of action.  Perhegan offers them shelter for the night, and while the men settle in, I make a show of pulling the boat higher onto the shore, offering myself the opportunity to root through the boat’s contents.  I find a sizable store of good quality weapons, but nothing otherwise suspicious or untoward.

Not trusting the men at face value, I recruit Selben to watch their tent.  The men present no trouble throughout the night, but we witness bobbing lights on the river coming from downstream.  Immediately, I send Selben to wake Audric and Bonie while I hasten to Perhegan’s tent to alert the settlement’s leader.  Perhegan seems unprepared to deal with Mirabar yet, should this be a craft of Mirabarran guards, and immediately my instincts are to see to the settlement’s defense against a potential threat.

Perhegan remains calm, to his credit.  Upon suggestion from Audric to wake the traders and apprise them of the situation, Perhegan assents.  The traders scramble from their tents and race towards their craft, jumping into their boat and immediately start to paddle upriver, clearly panicked.

The second craft approaches, perhaps 20 feet in length, and four men dismount and pull the boat ashore.  The men are wearing the crest of Mirabar, and the apparent leader steps forward.  It’s Rale Cotchen, captain of the Mirabarran guards at Xantharl’s Keep!  “Welcome to Dagger’s Deep,” I say with a wry smile.

He looks very, very surprised, but maintains his demeanor.  He explains that his men are in search of two escaped river bandits, that would have passed not more than a day ago.  There’s an awkward moment of silence as Audric stifles my immediate instinct to reply.

“We’ve seen no such men,” Perhegan replies.

“Then you won’t mind if my men and I have a look around,” Rale says, and Perhegan nods in accord.  Rale and his men check tents, looking inside them and waking the residents, though the soldiers are being reasonably cordial in their tone, maintaining a level of politeness and appropriateness in their search.

After completing their search, Rale introduces himself to Perhegan and asks if he and his men can rest the night, as they are too exhausted to continue their chase.  They are given shelter, and the rest of the night passes uneventfully.  The soldiers are already up and about, perusing the grounds of Dagger’s Deep, when we awaken.  The level of scrutiny the guard captain gives the settlement is evident, and finally Rale approaches Audric and myself.

Very casually, he says “I’ve come to know that you have an appointed meeting with my cousin and his... wife.  He asked me if you could be trusted on a journey upriver.”

“Can we?” I ask Rale, sardonically.  He replies that our actions at the mine speak for themselves, and that he has no stake in who his cousin and the “witch he calls a wife” travel with.

“Why do you hate the woman so?” Audric asks.

Rale explains that hate is perhaps a strong word, but that he’s ever wary of those whose interests are “divergent from his own.”  The man’s reply is arrogant, and spoken with a slant that implicates me and Audric as much as it does Odesia.  “If I come to learn that you’ve been harboring thieves here, you’ll answer to me,” he warns.

“Is it often you go around making idle threats to innocent citizens?” Audric asks.

Rale laughs sarcastically, and after more thinly veiled threats between Rale and Audric, the conversation ends.  Rale spends a significant amount of time in conversation with Perhegan, and we can’t help but notice several glances in our direction.  I fear little for what Rale might tell him.

Upon conclusion, Rale announces his intention to backtrack towards Mirabar in pursuit of the bandits, and we leave the Mirabarran captain and his soldiers to their task, watching as they drift away downstream.

“If there’s anything to be sure of,” Perhegan says grimly, “Mirabar will be aware of our presence now.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

#25: Rock and a Hard Place

Aside from construction of the shrine and helping with general tasks around camp, an exorbitant amount of time is spent with Zargon, as Zeb and Selben attempt to coach the bard through the rudiments of magic.  Despite Zargon’s willingness to learn, much of the magic eludes his grasp.  The time is not wasted, however, as he does manage to scribe a few spells and increase his magical repertoire.  It’s a style of learning that Zeb is not accustomed to, but he’s glad to help.

We spend a fortnight in various tasks and training, assisting Perhegan and the other men and women of Dagger’s Deep.  Eventually, the light snows turn into heavy winter storms, and the settlement is battered by several especially harsh squalls with accumulating snow.  That makes it difficult for the hunters to conduct regular hunts, and Perhegan declares a “precautionary ration” of food.  We learn that he’s readying a group of men and wagons that will travel to Mirabar to resupply under the guise of merchants heading to Xantharl’s Keep, as he does not yet want to reveal the existence of Dagger’s Deep.

As Perhegan departs, Dagger’s Deep is left in the command of Pol Rallinoth, a man-at-arms who works with what serves as the settlement’s soldiers and militia.  Pol Rallinoth sends out a hunting party during a break in the snowstorms, and they return with dire news—all signs of fauna have seemingly dried up, and worse, they discover a family or small clan of ogres that have found shelter in a nearby cave.  As a result, much of the wild game native to the region have fled their area of hunting and influence, leaving Dagger’s Deep with a dilemma.

The hunters found a pair of ledges in the woods which, when observed from a distance, come together to form a cave at their bases.  Movement in the area alerted them to the presence of ogres, but not before they could count six of the creatures, all assumed to be residing together in the cave.  When Zargon questions the gender of the ogres, he finds that they were an apparent mix of adult male and female ogres.

Questioning the resources of Dagger’s Deep that we have at our disposal, there are a half-dozen legitimate warriors among the citizenry of the settlement; Pol Rallinoth and Weald are included in this number.  There are perhaps a dozen more men in a solid enough physical condition that they could fight in the case of an emergency, but these are the settlement’s craftsmen, and we would need to be sorely pressed indeed to risk them without great need.

We discuss several options, and Pol Rallinoth is amenable to us having the same three hunters escort us to the cave, but not until they’ve rested for the evening.  We did not intend to leave in the afternoon anyway, so we retire to our various tents and prepare for the next day’s travail.

In the middle of the night, we hear the cry of one of the town’s watchmen.  At the southeastern part of the settlement, the watchman saw the shadow of a very large form in the trees milling about the woods around camp.  When he looked back again, it was gone.  We discuss plans, alerting the other guards, and Audric sends Lume to investigate.  When the familiar returns, Audric learns that she detected the scent of a repulsive creature, but nothing else.

Deciding that discretion is the better form of valor, we decide to stay awake the rest of the night to bolster the guards’ confidence, and to put more sets of eyes on the Lurkwood, with the intention of investigating further in the morning.  The night passes otherwise uneventfully.

We find the tracks of a large humanoid, what appears to be a single set of prints only, and the tracks prove reasonably easy to follow.  After a little exploration, it appears that they lead back to the general direction of the ogre’s cave.  We also discover that the ogre’s path crosses the trail of the Dagger’s Deep hunting party from the previous day—just as we intended to scout the ogre’s cave, they apparently have sent a scout of their own to gauge our defenses.  Nothing about our plan is changed after the night’s events, and Pol Rallinoth fortunately agrees, so we prepare with haste.

Eight of us set out from Dagger’s Deep—three of Pol Rallinoth’s hunters, Zargon, Audric, Bonie, Selben, and me.  With a fresh set of tracks to follow, Jakke’s nose and the various talents of the hunters, we quickly arrive at a place where we can see the top of the ogre’s ledge.  Audric devises a plan whereby we split the group—archers will head to flank the cave from two sides, with Bonie, Selben, Zargon and Audric divided between the groups.  Being uniquely qualified to drive ogres from their cave and also repel attacks to some degree, I will be the diversion meant to draw them from their sanctuary.

Zargon is accompanied by two of the hunters, and it is not long before they cross paths with one of the ogres.  The bard’s recitation of bravery is interrupted as all three men bring bows to bear.  One of the hunters proves a capable marksman, and Zargon strikes the enemy with his second arrow, though not before it nearly reaches the group in melee.  Fortunately, Audric’s group and I are alerted by the sounds of battle, and spells and arrows are raised in Zargon’s defense.  To Zargon’s credit, his group of hunters pepper the creature with another round of barbs.  As it raises its club to attack, an arrow from Bonie catches the creature in the chest and topples it.

Before we can celebrate, however, a pair of ogres—one of them mighty in stature, nearly 11 feet tall, the other a smaller female—turns a corner, likely having heard the encounter and come looking for trouble.  Both rush forward as I turn and run, hoping to draw them after me while our allies fire arrows.  The volley is effective, arrows raining into the enemies as I nimbly evade their reach.  The giant ogre falls to another of Bonie’s arrows, buried up to the feathers as it slumps forward, dead.

The female ogress seems enraged by the death of the giant one, presumably a mate, stooping to retrieve his oversized club and charging towards me as I move to close the distance.  Meanwhile, the arrows of our allies continue to take a terrible toll on the ogress, and before it reaches me, it is felled.  Bonie’s final arrow ends the life of the ogress, and I witness Bonie’s triumphant smile as her arrow draws a thin line across its neck, spilling its lifeblood. 

The Lurkwood is still, quiet, with only our heavy breathing breaking the silence as we recover from the fight.  We regroup as Audric sends Lume forward again to scout, and we learn that there are at least two more, near or within the cave.  We follow our original plan, and as I encounter the first ogre lying in wait outside, I conjure forth a mystical arrow of acid that misses, sizzling as it strikes the ledge wall behind it.  It approaches me cautiously as our allies take positions at the flanks.  Before any arrows can be fired, however, it retreats into the cave, and we can hear guttural noises—presumably speech—from within.

I layer abjurations as I approach, lighting a torch as Audric joins me to examine the opening, as it seems our enemies seek to avoid a direct encounter.  Through my magic, I detect the presence of an ogre hidden within, and as I step towards the cave, it reacts aggressively, raising a club high.  Fortunately, Malar’s blessing prevents it from smiting me, and I puff out my chest in challenge as our allies take aim and fire.

The angle proves awkward, however, for no arrow finds purchase, and the creature is driven further into the cave and the protection the darkness provides.  Knowing that there are likely several more enemies, we decide to backtrack, reconvene, and discuss possible options.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Starting spells for bards

I've made some determinations on Zargon's starting spells. First, a review of the relevant passage from the bard class description (2e PH, p. 42):

Since bards are dabblers rather than full-time wizards, their spells tend to be gained by serendipity and happenstance. In no case can a bard choose to specialize in a school of magic. Beginning bards do not have a selection of spells. A 2nd-level bard begins with one to four spells, chosen either randomly or by the DM. (An Intelligence check must still be made to see if the bard can learn a given spell.) The bard is not guaranteed to know read magic, as this is not needed to read the writings in a spell book. The bard can add new spells to his spell book as he finds them, but he does not automatically gain additional spells as he advances in level. All spells beyond those he starts with must be found during the course of adventuring. The bard's casting level is equal to his current level.

This is fairly clear. I'm going to honor the by-the-book rules, for a few reasons: first, there's no compelling incentive to deviate with a house rule; second, the above limitations reinforce that the bard is merely a “dabbler,” as opposed to a specialist wizard or mage; and third, the party is at a safe point with time on their hands such that new spells can be acquired from other characters.

In the interest of moving things forward, I rolled that the following two spells are in Zargon's starting spellbook:

  • Grease
  • Mending

Of note, I rolled a 2 on 1d4 for the number of spells. Both “chance to learn spell” rolls succeeded, and the specific spells were rolled randomly from the 1st-level wizard spell list. While it can be argued that a 4th-level bard could or should have additional spells beyond what a 2nd-level bard would know (i.e., acquired through adventuring), we haven't set that precedent with anything else (magic items, gold, etc.) in the campaign, so I'd prefer not to start now. (And again, the party is at a point that Zargon can easily expand his repertoire before his first real adventure.)

Hopefully this seems reasonable enough to everyone?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

#24: Dagger's Deep

With the decision made to depart for Mirabar in the morning, we settle what few matters remain open in Xantharl’s Keep.  Odesia says that we have honored our end of the agreement to the best of our ability and agrees to meet us in Mirabar late in the spring, when possible for her and her husband.  Arrangements are made to meet at the East Gate of Mirabar come Greengrass; if something delays their arrival, we will return every third day at the same time and appointed place.

Before retiring for the night, I leave the gates of Xantharl’s Keep to see if the hound I befriended, if that is not too strong a word for so ephemeral a relationship, is anywhere to be found.  After an hour alone in the Lurkwood at night he finds me, and I share half of the dried meat from my pouch with the hound, a smile on my face.

We awaken in the morning to a light snow, not unsurprising given the proximity of the winter season.  We conjure forth our mounts and before long, Xantharl’s Keep disappears behind us into the Lurkwood.  Travel is fast and uneventful, and at midday of the second day, we encounter a small grouping of stopped caravans, four wagons each drawn by a pair of horses, as well as nine men.  One of the horses appears to be wounded or lame, a small group of men huddled around it.

Audric hails the caravan, and an older man, having seen perhaps fifty winters, steps forth and answers our hail, revealing his name to be Perhegan Mercantor.  They’ve traveled a day from Mirabar and were forced to stop early as one of their horses came up lame.  As the wagons are all heavily laden with a variety of goods, a lame horse with no extra beasts of burden available would greatly slow their progress.  Knowing Bonie to have cared well for Elseba, I ask if she has experience seeing to the health and tending of horses.  She nods, and she and Audric approach to take a look at the animal.

We share a few words with Perhegan, briefly describing our short stay in Xantharl’s Keep and intention on traveling to Mirabar.  “What was your business in Xantharl’s Keep?” Perhegan asks inquisitively, “and what skills might you possess?”  Feeling no real reason to hide anything, we explain that we are traveling missionaries, and that we plan to stay over in Mirabar for the winter.

“I see, well met!” Perhegan replies.  He introduces us the robed man, named Renwal, and makes our introduction to the rest of the group.  All appear to be rough tradesmen, the traveling merchant sort, with two exceptions.  One is a robed man, perhaps a priest or a mage, though no sigil or talisman is apparent.  The ninth man is outfitted in leather armor and carrying an assortment of weapons and is introduced as Zargon. 

“Perhegan, it’s back!” one of the men cries, pointing to the sky, where we make out the silhouette of a large flying creature overhead.  It is too large to be that of a bird, though not so large to be that of the dragon we encountered in the Lurkwood.  Could it be the same dragon 100 years in the past, however?  The men seem shaken and claim that this is the third time they have seen it.

Bonie remarks that the horse may have been overburdened, pointing to the heavily laden wagons.  Perhegan explains that he’s carrying food, ore, blankets, timber, armaments—just about anything you could think of.  It’s apparent that the horse will be unable to continue to carry such a heavy load, leaving Perhegan’s men in a predicament.  After some discussion, I offer to conjure forth a mount that should see them through a day of travel in exchange for the lame animal.  We also discuss sharing camp for the night in shared defense of whatever the creature may be that stalks them from the skies.

“You claim that you’re looking for somewhere to ply your trades over the winter,” Perhegan says, pointing to Audric.  “You should come with me!  Your skills would be immensely useful, and you would be welcome among my company at Dagger’s Deep.”  The settlement, he claims, is not on any map, “but it will be soon!” he exclaims with burgeoning pride.  We decide on a shared camp and make way for a site known to the traveling merchants nearby that should provide some cover.

On our trip to the campsite, we see the shape in the sky once again, this time looming closer, and the form seems distinctly draconic.  Perhegan’s campsite is not far away, so we press hard to reach the cover of the camp and surrounding trees, but unfortunately, we’re not fast enough.  The creature swoops low towards the collected men and horses in a dive, and we loose a volley at it.

Bonie lands a piercing arrow, and one of Perhegan’s men manages a hit with his crossbow.  Audric and I conjure arrows of acid and loose them at the swooping creature but miss as it dives into the crowd and attempts to snatch one of the men.  It misses with its pair of terrible hind claws and sails back into the air, wings flapping.  A second volley of arrows all miss, and I finish an incantation to provide those around me with some protection.  The creature is not a dragon at all, but a wyvern—a smaller, dumber, more aggressive kin of dragonkind, with no foreclaws and a dangerous poisonous sting for a tail.

“We must hurry!” Perhegan shouts, and we rally the men and gather the mounts, pressing towards the campsite.  We arrive, glad to be protected somewhat by the cover of the trees and try to make the camp defensible.  Upon request, he produces a bundle of spears, instructing the men to set them against the wyvern’s dive should it attack again.  No second attack comes, however, and we settle into camp for the night.

“Dagger’s Deep is a settlement being founded along the river to the north,” Perhegan tells us.  It’s a day away from the campsite over rough terrain, and he explains that there are others there with provisions preparing to winter over.  He offers to shelter us there through the winter if we agree to aid in the communal defense and betterment of the settlement.

Renwal is a mage, older than Perhegan by perhaps ten years, and longtime friend of Perhegan and his family.  He supportive of the initiative to settle Dagger’s Deep.  He claims to be a dabbler in the arts, having been impressed by our offensive spells used against the wyvern, and offers to exchange knowledge of the craft with me and Selben should we spend more time together.  

That evening, we convene to discuss our plans for the future.  Perhegan’s explanation of Dagger’s Deep reveals a remarkable amount of work that has been done, as well as a remarkable amount of work that would need to be done to see the settlement through the winter safely.  We share a conversation with Zargon, who explains that Perhegan is a visionary, with visionary ideals in his plans for Dagger’s Deep.  “Mirabar wasn’t built in a day,” he retorts, when we question how likely the success of such a small settlement might be.  Zargon’s words are inspirational, and it’s hard to deny their allure.

Speaking more with Perhegan, I attempt to discern who stands to profit most from the success of Dagger’s Deep, and how that profit is to be realized.  Perhegan explains that the placement along the river allows it to manage river traffic, once the number of men and equipment will support it, and that he intends to keep the river secure and to help ensure the flow of traffic while collecting levies from merchants and traders and travelers.  The plan sounds ambitious, but is not outside the realm of reason.  When questioned about the influence of Mirabar and how its leaders may react to the presence of Dagger’s Deep, Perhegan’s response is “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” which matches the man’s entrepreneurial spirit.

After some discussion within the group, we decide to make Perhegan an offer.  After some negotiation, he settles on a compromise.  “15 gold each per month, and we’re all happy,” replies Perhegan.  I look to Audric, expectantly, and Audric holds out his hand to seal the terms.  “Done,” he agrees.  Zargon raises a tune on his lute to commemorate the agreement, and all those gathered raise tankards and skins in a toast.

When we awaken the next morning, we notice immediately that Bonie is gone, and we’re overcome by a sense of déjà vu.   Taking a moment to examine our surroundings, Audric realizes that we’re in the vicinity of Minstrel’s Glade, and the dire tale told by Oreiron immediately comes to mind.  Fuck.  I leap to my feet to see if there’s any sign of Bonie’s path, and in the newly fallen snow, I discover a series of tracks leading to the east.  Immediately, I run into the woods following the trail, feeling a looming sense of dread that I can’t shake.

After a couple hundred yards, however, I come upon Bonie standing in the woods, facing me.  Her hair is down, where it is customarily up in a ponytail.  The sun rises behind her to the east.  Standing next to her, her hand on its head, is the dog.  “Look who I found,” she says, patting its head.  “He’s friendly.”

“You are a bad dog,” I say, relieved to find Bonie safe and surprised at how powerful the sense of worry was in that short time.  The dog plods over, nuzzles me, and I give it the remaining dried meat from my pouch.  “His name is Jakke,” she says with a smile.

Audric, Zargon and Selben approach from behind.  “Look who I found,” I say dryly, pointing to Bonie.  When Audric asks why she disappeared, she replies, “there’s always something to see out here.”  To the east, we see the hills upon which Kezia and the druids danced, what seems like ages ago.

Returning to camp, we find Perhegan getting the horses ready for a hard day of travel over rough terrain.  Perhegan explains that he’d prefer to avoid Mirabarran checkpoints, not yet ready to defend his claim and plan to settle along the river, instead cutting across hills to Dagger’s Deep.

Staring out at the Lurkwood, with a humor only Audric and I can possibly understand, I tell Zargon and the others that “100 years from now, this forest is going to have a huge bugbear problem.”

“Are you a fortune teller?” Zargon asks.

“No,” Audric interjects.  “He’s in the business of being right.”  With that, we break camp and begin our travels. 

We traverse the hills through somewhat recognizable territory, though our attention is mostly on the wagons and the safety of the beasts of burden and conjured mounts, sparing more than a few glances to the clouds in the hopes that the wyvern has moved on.

Late that day, in the distance, we see a small river keep with a handful of people walking around, as well as the frames of several cottages under construction.  There are several tents spread about, and two keelboats moored at the river shore, with several large bonfires around the camp.  As we approach, people begin to hail our arrival, and Perhegan dismounts the wagon to meet a girl who rushes forward to meet him.  Perhaps 17 years old with dark brown hair, she calls out “Father, father!” and embraces Perhegan in a hug.  He introduces her as his daughter, Edine.

Perhegan introduces us to a few notable people, among them the Stonehand brothers, who are masons overseeing the construction of the keep and tower, as well as Tarrsh, who serves as blacksmith.   We are shown around Dagger’s Deep, and find that a waterwheel is under construction, and near it the start of a small masonry tower. 

One of the armed men we encounter leads a goblin that looks like it’s carrying bricks.  When Audric asks about it, Perhegan explains.  “That man’s name is Weald, and I know it’s a little unusual, but he was successful in domesticating this creature some time back.  It hasn’t proven to be a danger, though we do keep it chained at night.  We are hard pressed to refuse good help.”  When asked if the goblin is a slave or here voluntarily, Perhegan replies that it’s more of a servant or a pet.  Perhegan has an arrangement with Weald, who serves as man-at-arms, and the goblin servant is part of the package.  Though I don’t look kindly upon any form of enslavement, man or beast, I let the matter rest for now, as we are Perhegan’s guests.

As the group begins to break up and investigate our new home, I approach Bonie.  “Where should I set up our tent?” I ask her.  She blushes unexpectedly, which is replaced quickly by a rather stoic look as she points at a small plot of empty land near the river.

Indicating to Selben to set up his own tent nearby, we begin to settle in, each of us finding tasks to occupy the day.  Already plans are starting to form, among them a small, shared shrine to Mystra and Malar, which Audric surprisingly supports without any argument.  Our work cut out for us, we unload our meager belongings and look ahead to the future.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Staying awake

During the events that went down in the mine, I found myself asking how long a character might remain awake and competent under strenuous activity in the face of exhaustion from lack of sleep? I haven't found any official rules on this yet, though it's possible that something already exists. In lieu of that, I've devised a quick system to employ if the situation ever comes up again. I don't expect this to be at all commonplace, though it seems like when it happens, it's likely very important.

  • A character or NPC can stay awake at full capabilities for a number of hours equal to 12 + Con score + 1d6.
  • After this point, each of the individual's six ability scores are temporarily halved (rounding down, hit points unaffected) every hour. Whenever any score reaches zero (0), the individual passes out.
  • A person passed out from exhaustion cannot be wakened for 1d8+8 hours, at which point they rise with scores restored to their normal values.

This all feels reasonable to me. Adrenaline lets you go as hard as you can for as long as you can, but at some point you hit the wall. When that happens, your ability to function drops off quickly. You can still manage to push for up to a few hours longer, but eventually either your mind or body gives out.