Chapter 2h (Spring 1228): Preparing the Covenant's Defenses

Tasia is already gone, back to report the goings-on to her Quaesitor superiors. She wasn't at all clear about whether or not she would be back, but she evidently hadn't been able to locate Vrahos yet.

Beyond that, not much has changed, though Viola is acting particularly snarky, for reasons that are difficult to divine.

Scott

When we arrive back or while on the return journey Fray asks "Urgently but after we've rested I'd like to presume on the magi to discuss our defences and what we saw. I'm worried. "

Can we as we wish, summon the magi to a morning chat perhaps?

Easy enough, since at the moment it's only the three of you--that is, it's just a matter of filling Viola in on what's going on.

Scott

Gregorius will be there, having arranged for Miklos (the grog leader) to be close to hand for when the magi need him. He's spent some of the time between getting back and the meeting starting on a draft letter to his own superiors.

OOC: unsure of Trogdor's situation, suggest we retcon if he jumps back in.

On the following morning (or whenever), Fray joins the other Magi gathered. "As I've mentioned I am very concerned that the amazons would have magic or tactics powerful enough to subdue and hold Tasia. "
Looking to each of the magi, "You've said they have struck here before and now successfully captured a Magus. It's uncharacteristic for me, and I'm reluctant to say - but this covenant needs to be better defended and the Magi better consolidated. Think about the risks if we had not recovered Tasia. " His nervousness in speaking up is likely to be plain.
Then looking for input and somebody else to speak "Gregorius you said (I think) there were no useful arcane connections? Doesn't that say something significant?"

Gregorius nods.

"They've clearly got some understanding of how magic works and how to guard against it. Successfully attacking Tasia when she's asleep is concerning but not extremely so in and of itself. Keeping her prisoner and suppressing her magic, though...I also don't like that Tasia would never give us an answer on what they learnt from her."

"In terms of defending ourselves, I think there's three key points to consider. Ability to defend ourselves, ability to retreat, and possibly most importantly an early warning."

"At the moment, I don't think we have the ability to reliably win a fight against the camp we saw without very favourable ground, even with all of the magi pitching in. I have basic combat competency, but not much more, and I'm not aware that anyone else is any better?" He pauses a moment for anyone to volunteer information. "It's also possible that we may end up facing more than just that camp's worth, and likely that they'll have magical support, although I take some comfort in the fact that the leader's vagueness on what their magic-users can do suggests they don't work very closely usually."

"There are a few things I can think of to improve that sitation. The obvious one is to recruit. I think we could get some horsemen from the local village, given the right inducements. Probably not enough to win a fair fight, but backed properly they could at least shift the odds in the right direction. We could maybe recruit from further afield as well, but that'll take more time, and I don't know how much we have."

[OOC: MTKnife, we tried to get an estimate of the size of the camp, but I'm not sure we ever got a number? Roughly how big a force are they?]

"We could also consider how to strengthen the covenant's defences. I'd really like a wall, but I'm not sure how practical it is. Alternatively, the Shrounded Glen - we probably have enough trees for it."

"I don't want to retreat, but it may be necessary. With his permission there's Stephen's boat and the regios. The boat isn't big enough for the entire covenant at once, and I've only found one exit from the magical regio so far, so it's a bit of a trap, especially if the tunnels get flooded again. Viola, is the faerie regio similar?" He waits for a response from Viola.

"We should also consider ahead of time what we need to take with us if we do have to evacuate. The Parma book obviously goes to the top of that list."

"Getting an early warning will let us decide whether to fight or run, and hopefully give us some choice over the ground and tactics. I really don't want the first I know of their coming to be when we're woken in the middle of the night. One of the founding magi had some birds he could use as scouts, but he's gone. Does anyone have anything we can replace them with? Fray, can you turn grogs into birds and if so will it warp them?"

Fray replies, "One by one yes, very easily, but not a group; so too slowly. In an emergency I don't think some warping is a consideration though." Then in a softer voice, "I've seen what a single magician can do to an unprepared covenant and it is awful. Even a handful of soldiers could be very dangerous to us, so I think the wall and a watch tower of sorts is needed. Well after the rebuilding of the main covenant buildings I suppose."

..(if the conversation turns to defensive suggestions)
" I can reinvent that bird transformation spell to affect a group or circle, and we set evacuation points with embedded circles? Or also transform and enhance the grogs too, maybe? "

"Well, maybe we should do what Horsingas did to their outer fields beyond their aegis - setup a series of raised mounts and troughs. They're easy to walk over, but terrible on horses moving at speed. They put wooden stakes in theirs too, looked nasty. Put a thin pathways through them for carts and such, and nobody is greatly affected."

"If you have an appetite to devices, I can enhance grogs to be better guardsmen, with no warping when done right."

"And if you're open to helping with the creation of hostile magics for defending against large groups, we could create counters to an entire army's strength. I mentioned a while back some combative spells I've ideas for. Then we all learn them, or enchant them." (there are a few MuTe spells I think would be great)

[Geez, sorry again--traveling over Thanksgiving, then very, very ill the next week.]

You mean the Amazon camp? No more than 30 or 40, though it's impossible at this point to know how many warriors they had dispersed at other locations.

Viola thinks on this. "Hm...yes, I think all could fit....But is it safe? And the fae...well, they could react, yes?"

After Gregorius is finished speaking, Viola adds, "Is there something in lab I could do? Perhaps?"

Scott

[OOC: That's a fair bit better than I thought (at least ignoring reinforcements) - I had a few hundred in mind.]

"How bad is the safety issue? I've never been in the regio. If we do have to leave in a hurry, is there another way out, or would we have to leave through the temple?"

Gregorius thinks for a few moments. "Your specialities are Muto and Imaginem, yes? How are you at Intellego? Could you devise a scrying device which would allow us with an arcane connection to keep an eye on key chokepoints on the route to the covenant to give us warning of the Amazon's approach? Alternatively, is there any possibility of recruiting faeries as useful scouts or sentinals - or even warriors?"

[OOC: Viola's Animae magic feels like it might offer some possibilities, if you can manage the level? I haven't done the maths on Viola's lab totals.]

[OOC: Gregorius thinks about what he knows about the terrain around the covenant and towards where the amazons were, to try to work out if there are points along the way that the amazons would be higher likely to pass through on their way to the covenant. Area Lore: Don Delta 2 (places), Profession Soldier 1, Int 1, Per 3.]

"I'd actually been thinking about using them as scouts, although you're right that it could be a means of escape as well. If it's warping them we can't use it on a regular basis, though. We do have a watchtower already, and it's kept manned, so that's something. The ring of trees all around the covenant should also be a help in slowing down the horses, but it might be worth at least considering whether there's anywhere inside the ring that it makes sense to put trenches.

Certainly might be worth thinking about enhancing their night vision. Did you have other ideas as well?

"I'm certainly open to suggestions, although I should warn you I'm quite...poor...in a lab myself. Never really got the hang of vis. Or enchanting items. Prefer being out in the field."

[OOC: Gregorius has the flaws Weak Enchanter (reduce lab totals by 50% when creating items), Waster of Vis (wastes one quarter of pawns whenever using vis) and Creative Block (-3 when inventing anything new), and will impose them on any group effort he's part of.]

"How are our vis stocks? What do we have?"

Seeing the need for clarity, Viola takes out her quill. "There are four rooms, basically: my quarters, my lab, a chamber filled with sororocidal and possibly homicidal faeries, and a rainy labyrinth with a wandering gorgon. You see the problem? The only really safe area is my quarters--and even there, you have to remember that radical change, like a lot of people suddenly inhabiting the regio--tends to affect faeries in unpredictable ways."

You'll find full details in the "Covenant" thread.

Scott

Gregorius frowns. "Hmm. Not a good option, then."

[OOC: Do I get anything on these?]

"So, I propose that I speak to the village headman to see if we can recruit some additional soldiers, as well as writing to my Exarch to explore the possibility of a Tremere vallationist creating a wall for us. Are people happy to authorise me to do this? I will confirm the cost from the Tremere with the covenant before coming to a final agreement, and of the villagers if it is unusual."

"It is a question for you and Viola, as Tasia is elsewhere and I am a guest. It makes sense to find a caster for the wall than to invent the spell ourselves."

Hmm...I'm positive I posted that, but somehow it got lost or erased. I believe when I totaled it up it was about 54 for MuIm or MuHe, a little less for other combos--but it depends on the season, and I'd have to doublecheck the aura in the lab (5 in the main level, I think).

The area where you encountered them was largely river delta; to the north and northeast of that you have steppe, and to the east and southeast mountains. The mountains would be the only route with choke points, but you don't know that the Amazons came from that direction, and, of course, that would put you closer to their base than a location close to the covenant would.

Scott

And here I thought I had missed a notification again....

Scott

[Ooc: I think we're set to ask about Tremere to vis cast a wall, and investigate other forms of defence. Better defences probably a covenant goal anyway. We can wrap up I assume, and do the meta-magic stuff ooc?]

[OOC: Sorry. Yes, I'm okay to wrap up and do the Tremere wall building in summary. Also the recruiting extra soldiers - I'm assuming as we have Cavalry in the covenant boons, this shouldn't be too hard.

So I think the things we're doing are:

  • Gregorius: Try to arrange for re-inforcement from the village
  • Gregorius: Try to arrange for the Tremere to create a wall around the covenant.
  • Viola: Use her knowledge of Imaginem to create devices that will help us get advanced warning of an impending attack (although that's less useful if we don't have anywhere specific to aim them) and/or try to recruit faeries to do useful things.
  • Fray: Things to make the watchmen better and/or developing relevant combat spells

Am I missing anything/getting anything wrong?]

Keep in mind, though, that the local villagers will remember the last attack--and if they get wind that you're facing potential magical opponents, things could get tricky.

Go ahead and lay out how you plan to do each of these things. I'll have to figure out what Viola is going to do, though she's certainly open to suggestions.

Scott

"Ah," says Gregorius. "One other problem that I've just realised hasn't gone away. Tasia was due to cast our Aegis at the end of the season."

Arranging for re-inforcements: What Gregorius really wants is a well armed defensive force permanently stationed at the covenant. Unfortunately, on reviewing his options he realises that the barracks and stables aren't built yet, so they don't have room to house such a force even if cavalry made good defensive troops.

So he'll change his goals slightly, and aim for an auxilary offensive force the covenant can use, that's still based and housed (at least for the time being) at the local village. To try to recruit this, he'll therefore wait a day or so after returning so as not to seem desperate, then request a meeting with the village headman. He'll tell the headsman (via interpreter) that they've got some initial leads on the raiders who attacked the previous covenant and, whilst we're not currently ready to strike at them, we are likely to want to in future, possibly with the village's help. To that end, he'd like a band of the villages young men to start training with the covenant, and going on small missions together, so that they can work together better when the time comes. The covenant would of course be prepared to recompense them...

The magical opponents thing is a problem, and one that needs to be overcome. Assuming that he's successful in recruiting the horsemen, Gregorius is going to try to introduce them to magic slowly and try to get them somewhat familiarised with it. He'll start with little things like Constantine, Viola's butterfly familiar (with Viola/Constantine's permission, of course!) and showing them armour which has had Doublet of Impenetrable Silk cast on it (and suggest such protections could be available to them...) and gradually work his way up, although it's probably a forlorn hope that he's ever going to get the horses to be comfortable around Alcimus.

On the wall point, I have drafted a letter to go to the Tremere Tribune (https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/card-board-games-archive-links/116/1). It may get modifed before sending depending on people's responses to the Aegis situation.

OOC; I'm digging for my notes for our plans for Spring 1228 and don't think I locked in a lab activity for Fray. So, can we assume this adventure didn't expend enough time to cause a distraction from lab? Or if so, to what degree?
Obviously Fray won't be inventing any of the defensive spells that season as the impetus arrived mid season.