Decaying Lands 20: Dogs Are Dumb

PCs Present & Played:

Claus Drexol, Magic-User 4 (Vegas)
  Wiebke Bott, linklady and magical initiate
Jewel, Really Good Dog 2 (Rudy)
  Buddy, ratter dog
Karl Gelt, Exiled Prince 1 (Helpful Waffle)
Tenkos, Cleric 2 [plague doctor kit] (Sugarplum)
Viggo Marklund, Specialist 2 [bounty hunter kit] (Peanut Butter)

Last time the party traveled north out of Bremmlecht to The Crossroads, got a dog rumor about dead bodies digging down into the dirt, met the local priest, and dug up two (empty!) graves while she wasn't looking.

The party weren't exactly sure what to do next after their initial digging seemed to confirm some aspects of the dog rumor. They wanted to get more information about the town so they were on the lookout for a mayor or town elder or something. After realizing that The Crossroads barely qualified as a town their plan boiled down to "look for old people / dogs."

Jewel helped them track down a pretty old lady at the Sapphire Pipe Rose, the fanciest inn with the best location. She then sauntered off looking for a really old dog to talk to. She found one that tried to get her to live the easy life of scraps out behind the inns with him but no luck. He pointed her to a few dogs that had strange run-ins out in the woods despite being told not to go out there and she started back towards the center of the crossroads.

Meanwhile at the Sapphire Rose, a serving woman named Horga warmly welcomed Claus and Karl into the establishment while graciously allowing Viggo, Tenkos, and Wiebke to enter as well. There was an older woman sitting by the fireplace drinking tea but they instead went to the bar, playing it cool.

Playing it cool, that is, until Claus opened up by loudly wondering if anyone else had heard about the bodies disappearing from the graveyard in Teutonitopia! A woman next to him at the bar takes the bait, elbowing him and getting into a full on gossip session. She hadn't heard about any local troubles but farther south she guessed that the troubles in Teutonitopia were due to wizards pursuing illicit magics contrary to the law of the land! She was headed north to the city of Anstholm, purported last bastion of independent Tannemaark culture and possessed of a somewhat rebellious spirit.

Convinced that the traveler couldn't give him much else, Claus moved to sit down with the old woman, Lady Margaret.

"Good afternoon my dear, you must be the rose!"
"Oh dear, surely you know that you're not the first to have tried that line."

Her prickly rejoinder belied a desire for company and conversation, and they got to talking. Wiebke and Tenkos stayed by the bar, not wanting to throw off Claus' more noble air, while Karl took a seat where he could hear their conversation but also keep an eye on the room, looking for any reactions. He also took some time to inspect the inn's namesake jeweled rose, sitting on the mantel glinting in the sun. It looked real enough, and would have been worth a fortune.

Claus went back and forth with Lady Margaret, poking for information, but she poked right on back, asking about what kind of travelers they are and what they're doing at The Crossroads still after already spending a night there. Claus said something vague and plausible and she prodded some more, eventually inviting them all for a more private chat in the back room. They were interrupted by Jewel's special "hey come talk to me!" bark from outside, however, and Claus begged a few moments to retrieve their things from the other inn to move over to the Sapphire Rose.

Jewel had found the dogs that had gone into the forest and really wanted to talk to them with everyone else. During one of Claus' previous castings of comprehend languages she had established some kind of paw signal to cast the spell itself and a particular bark to let the party know that she needs them to come. They found her now outside of the Sapphire Rose with three dirty mangy dogs. She did not look happy.

Their fancy hat-wearing armored up really good dog companion her human companions and (very annoying) new dog friends down the road a bit, giving Claus time to read his books a bit and get the spell ready that would allow him to understand Jewel (and maybe these other dogs).

Sidenote: Claus always leaves his level 2 spell slots open in case he needs to take a turn to prep comprehend languages to talk to Jewel.

They pull off the road a bit and Jewel is visibly agitated. When Claus finishes the spell he understands why because these dogs are idiots and will. not. shut. up. Apparently "HATDOG" (Jewel) has promised them a lot of meat if they tell her and the man-people about the big people rocks that they found out in the lots of trees place.

Sidenote: This is one of the most fun times I have had with NPCs ever. Thanks Rudy for putting up with all these stupid stupid dogs.

Kind of like this but the dogs. Insert "HATDOG" every six words or so. If the time in the link doesn't work go to 50s.

Sidenote: I spent way too much time trying to find an example of what was in my head for these dogs. This was the closest thing I could find after going down a tangent path of "fast tapping" videos and giving up.

Eventually they get that there were some "big people rocks" out in the woods next to a big tree with squirrels in it. And they almost got the squirrels but then they ran up the tree! The struggle is real. Party theorized that the "big people rocks" might be some kind of foundation for a building or something like that. Claus tossed a bunch of jerky rations to the dogs, they expressed feverish gratitude to HATDOG some more, and the party realized that they had left Lady Margaret hanging to go and talk to some dogs.

They hurried back, transferred their belongings to the Sapphire Rose, and ALL (including Jewel) went into the back room. There's a bit of cagey dance, some very pointed comments from Lady Margaret's part about their very strange dog (and her awesome hat!), and then the group eventually laid it all out on the table about their investigation into this rumor about the bodies digging down in the graveyard. In return, Margaret told them what she knew of the Crossroads.

  • Her family was the first to build an inn here
  • The land here all belongs to the lord of Letath (edge of the fief)
  • The Crossroads started to gain more prominence 150 years ago at the start of the War of the Three Kingdoms
  • Letath also got more prominent then due to trade embargo with Ghallia
  • Magic was sharply limited after the war but always vague rumors of magical activity in remote places
It also became very clear to the party that Lady Margaret was a woman who had an eye on everyone as they passed through and maintained a keen interest in any information she could come by. She picked out Viggo as a bounty hunter right away, for example, and made some inferences about Karl and Claus as well. Potential downside to a relationship with her for Karl is that Margaret does not want the local priest to gain any prestige or influence and the young noble was hoping to do just the opposite. First things first though, bodies digging in the dirt!

They followed the mangy dogs down the road with Viggo in the rear, keeping an eye out for anyone who might be following them for Lady Margaret. They don't see anything and continue on into the woods. The dogs were distracted on several occasions by squirrels but Jewel kept them in line, eventually arriving at the "big squirrel tree with big people rocks in the ground."

What they actually found was a series of large stone blocks in a circle next to the tree, just below the dirt.

Kind of like this but a full circle of the stones with a ~10 ft diameter.
They got to digging in the middle of the circle. Viggo was the only one who had brought a shovel but Jewel told the dogs (with some samples from Claus) that they would get more meat if they helped to dig. She stood on the side of the growing pit, lording her doggy helpers over Viggo's exertions with the shovel. At about seven feet down, Viggo hit wood. Their job complete, Jewel told Claus to kill the dogs.

Sidebar: Rudy had to leave at this point so he wasn't able to have Jewel exert any more influence over the dogs' fate than this.

Instead, Viggo helped the dogs out, Claus gave them some extra jerky, and they ran back towards the crossroads! Aw good doggos, good job.

The wood in the pit was uniform and sounded hollow with the exception of an eight foot circle in the middle. Claus, Tenkos, and Karl observed from the top of the pit while the wizard sent Wiebke in to assist Viggo. In for a penny in for a pound, Viggo used his axe to hack a hole in the wood and Wiebke shined her torch in.

Not seeing anything immediately murderable / murdertastic, Viggo and Wiebke hopped in. The wood continued all around the walls with a single gap facing the stones. In the center there's a large column with eight slots evenly spaced around its circumference. An equal number of poles, a few broken, are strewn about the floor. They slot up the wooden poles into the slots, get everyone in, and eventually figure out after pushing on them all together that it's a corkscrew elevator version of the wheel of paint.

They tied off their only 50 ft rope to the giant squirrel tree and down into the hole and started turning the corkscrew.

The rope ran out. They briefly lamented letting the stray dogs go instead of keeping them around to be killed and eviscerated to turn their guts into ropes if the situation got desperate enough! "We gotta keep going, right?!" said Claus.

That lasted only about another 10 feet. They moved the elevator back up and sent Karl to climb up what they had and go back and buy some more rope. He came back with another 100 feet and an extra pint of lamp oil. They continued down, getting dangerously close to the bottom of their now 150 ft of rope before the opening in the wooden enclosure began to reveal a gap in the stones surrounding them. They brought the elevator all the way down, felt it connect with the floor, and stared down a wide stone hallway. Wiebke's torch didn't cast light too far but they could see some alcoves on the side up ahead, and the session ended.

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