En Route to Visby

You catch the tide and make way for Visby, which is a tricky bit of sailing in really poor wether, but is generally fine this time of year. If you want to start subthreads where you spend time with the passengers, that's fine, but this thread will forge ahead with the action.

Did I say action?

About four hours from port, a ship coming toward Lubeck starts to tack toward yours. This is perfectly normal: ships often pass lcose to each other near port to check on conditions, swap perceived locations and basically say hello to each other.

As the ship begins to pull in, it becomes clear to a sharp eyed crewman that something is wrong, and he gets Iohannes on deck immediately. Iohannes can tell that the ships's set of sail cannot be causing it to manouver as it is. That is, it's sails are not having their nortmal effect on the passage of the ship. It's only a slight thing, and he can't really account for it from the other observable phenomena. (Awareness roll 4)

Titus (who gets an Awareness roll of 1 then 9) little Verditius) can tell that the crew are not actually moving in the rigging. At all.

You have a good ten minutes before the ships pull into, say, bowshot, so you have quite a bit of time to talk and prepare.

Vispilius motions to a spare spar that's lashed to the side of the ship, and shrugs.

"I can take a closer look, if that will solve anything, but I don't like the way this is sounding. If we're not the only magical ship out here, I don't particularly like the presence of the other."

Ok. Please note that Iohannes tends to sail over open sea while most ships hug the coast. I'll assume it doesn't matter at this point.

"Let's leave your flight in reserve for now; a surprise." For the moment, he still sounds like a magus talking among magi. But with his next breath, his voice changes.

He sponts a CrIm aboard the other ship that will let him send a voice to it all day. (Base 1, +3 Sight, +2 Sun, +2 at command), no botch and the spell is cast, 1FL down. Not ReIm; he can speak normally.

While recovering:

He calls out to his helmsman and first mate, "Turn to starboard and make him chase us... Use the wind you've got, by God! But if he heaves to, hold the distance steady."

If they're sailing with magic, they'll catch up no matter how well the Sanctum Mysterium sails with mundane winds--until now, Iohannes has always been on the opposite end of this trick and knows how this ends. But if he has ten minutes to close with the other ship when they are heading toward each other, he'll have a lot more time to plan if the Sanctum Mysterium turns about.

He advises the other ship in Latin and German to cease their approach immediately or they will be assumed to be hostile.

To Vispilius: "Stand by, you and one other magus, ready to fly. Fire, big Perdo Herbam, mass target spells, all good. Start thinking about what you want to do if they're hostile. I'm not going to let them in mundane range."

To Florimel, the Redcap: "Any idea who these guys are?"

(Normally, Iohannes has cast a few spells on his crew. Likely spells are MuCo--Eyes of the Cat cast for a month on a group, Balance of the Cat likewise, and, for people in the crow's nest during the day, another MuCo, Eyes of the Eagle, same casting parameters. The first two spells were hinted at in his intro. Yes, Iohannes' crew probaby gets to enjoy some Warping Points. :slight_smile: )

Iohannes calls to one of these crewmen, who must have been doing something else, to describe what he sees. He specifically asks him and also the magi:

"Do you see any crew? What are they doing? Alive or dead? Weapons? What standards are they flying? Look carefully at the water and the hull; is the ship real or is it an illusion? What is the hull made of?" And especially to the crewman with enhanced sight, "Look sharp, man!"

Iohannes can see for himself whether the other ship is maintaining course.... and he might see other stuff while talking.

He expects to hear a clamor of answers, but that's normal. To crew a ship takes many men and many tasks all at once--and one captain to oversee them all, sifting priorities from among the crosscurrents.

He does not expect the crew to be paralyzed by fear or superstition; they have good idea of how it is the Sanctum Mysterium sails across open water where other ships crawl along the coast, or the sail of an opposing vessel might suddenly burst into flame, or about the spells cast on themselves... It takes a certain kind of man to crew the Sanctum Mysterium.

As the others are looking, he calls to a senior crewman, "Roust em all!" This means night shift and all the crossbowmen, on station, crow's nest and castle. Iohannes prefers to handle dangers from outside crossbow range, and tension aboard ship rises two notches as the crew know that this might be serious. He leaves his crew to handle this.

To passengers secondarily, and another crewman primarily, "See that our guests are safe below deck. Now."

He pulls a crewman who speaks Danish and has him say "Stop or we'll assume you're pirates." Then Iohannes has a voice say it on the other ship. He pulls a crewman who speaks Russian and does the same.

The first two minutes have passed. The crew is hopping. Well, not literally hopping, because Iohannes has never seen a need to cast Leaping Legs of the Fuzzy Bunny on his crew. The magi? The passengers better be below deck or there'll be hell to pay! The crew know that.

By now everyone scanning the distant vessel will have had their second look, and have reported, both crew and magi.

What will they say?

Wood, rope and sail creak as the ship begins to turn. This will buy time, maybe another ten minutes, maybe an hour...but no more Each diameter will bring crew and magi to greater readiness, and more spells to take advantage of that readiness. And not just his own spells! Two (three?) other magi, all at least as powerful as he. A calm time to cast Formulaic Spells is worth a lot to them. Yes, Marcus was right about joining a covenant. Mundane battles had become too easy.

Everything depends on what the crew and magi report.

Cast a spell to see the other ship for himself? Listen in? Maybe there's a conversation to be had at a distance.

Rain fire upon it? Bash a hold in it? Rot the hull?

Ready the dinghy?

Unleash Vispilius and another magus? It's not time to reveal that surprise--or expose them to danger, clear targets in the sky, Imaginem or not. But Vispilius is powerful and resourceful. And whoever he takes with him.

Be ready for a fast cast?

How much time will this maneuver buy us?

What new information is there?

Scipio comes up from below deck amidst the controlled chaos that is a ship preparing for battle. Or anyone else doing the same. He appears to have come in something of a rush, slinging his cloak about his shoulders and fastening it only once he is in the sun. He bears arms, yet as ever no armor.

Meanwhile his four bodyguards come up from below with him, similar haste in evidence. One of them is visibly finishing the fastening of the ties of his harness. They ready shields and loosen blades, as if battle were nearly upon them, rather than an ?hour? away. Their wariness is marked, forming up around Scipio with one taking each side in a stiff formation.

All five make their way to stand near where Iohannes is proclaiming his orders. The one in front of Scipio, between he and unknown vessel, kneels just enough to allow his master a clear view, his shield rising to be just under his nose... cool, strange, amber eyes locked in a fearfull gaze on the mystery that approaches. Scipio' gaze, a stranger yet deeper amber, is much the same.

The guardsman between Scipio and Iohannes takes an instant knee at a sign from the Magus, giving them a clear path to speak for the moment. "We shall not dally. Your ship, so of course command is yours. If you have orders you would give do not be shy with them. If not, I will retire with my guard to the castle and aid you as I might."

Soldaes, I can’t see any crew in the rigging of the ship. I will cast a spell that allows me to hear what they are talking at the helm of the ship. Titius casts Whispering winds with loud voice and bold gestures and targets any location that seems to hold those in command at the deck, perhaps the helm of the ship if Titius can see it. If he can’t see the helm he targets a location that is close to it.

OOC: InAu level 15 and a InAu total of +7 including bonus from gestures and voice.

In the midst of his stream of commands, Iohannes glances to the Scipio; they have already been introduced briefly upon boarding ship. "Intelligence and information for now. Any prep spells for your grogs... now's the time. Hold off on direct action."

Iohannes hears reports from crew and magi on watch--those guys with Eagle Eyes better have more!--and perhaps notices something himself. As the information comes in, he readies another spell and series of commands.

With a booming voice, Vispilius casts a spell that allows him a better angle of view, from high in the air above the ship, and his eyes half close as he concentrates on that a moment...

"I can see figures in the rigging, Titius, it's just that they aren't moving, not a bit. Is it a ghost ship, or...

"I think it's near time to get a closer look. I can do that invisibly, if it comes to that. If we're dealing with the infernal, or something akin to it, that may not help, but neither will it tip our hand, for they've targeted us for a reason, I'd wager."

He selects one of the spare spars, one not too large, and, holding it high in one hand, in a moment has it floating at head level above the deck. There's a moment of confusion as the motion of the ship leaves it behind, and it seems to drift crazily across the deck, rising and falling, causing a crewman to duck to avoid it. But before it can collide with the sterncastle, it begins to move at the same speed as the ship, and higher, out of the way, tho' still appearing to bob up and down somewhat as the ship plows the waves beneath it.

Less skilled marieners would be fooled, but not you. She's close to correct, but she's not sailing by pure mechanical means.

"Me? I'm from Normandy...we don't have these sorts of problems on the Seine."

[There are crew, but they aren't moving. It is overcrewed on deck, and many of these surplus people there have bows.]

By now everyone scanning the distant vessel will have had their second look, and have reported, both crew and magi.

What will they say?

Wood, rope and sail creak as the ship begins to turn. This will buy time, maybe another ten minutes, maybe an hour...but no more Each diameter will bring crew and magi to greater readiness, and more spells to take advantage of that readiness. And not just his own spells! Two (three?) other magi, all at least as powerful as he. A calm time to cast Formulaic Spells is worth a lot to them. Yes, Marcus was right about joining a covenant. Mundane battles had become too easy.

Everything depends on what the crew and magi report.
In brief:

  • the crew of the vessel on deck is armed, and unnecessarily large. Pirates with poor discipline sometimes do this - that is, every pirate overstuff their ship to get weight of numbers, but some of them refuse to stay below out of sight where you are corded in with lots of others people and so instead they wander about the deck trying to look like heavily armed sailors.
  • The ship is not answering your hails.
  • The people are not moving in the rigging, just standing in the appprtiate places.
  • The ship is in excellent repair.
  • The ship is not moving as it should under pure mechnaical means.

The other ship is giving away the pretence that it is sailing by wind power alone, and closing the distance in dead line. If you keep to wind power, they'll be on you in about 15 mintues unless you too break ruse.

"They're hostile!" To Vispilius, "I'd like some prisoners left alive, if that's convenient for you. Take a magus (the one he hopefully inveigled to join him) and fly."

And then...

The Waterline Breach PeHe (base 4, Sight +3, Mom, Part +1) lvl 20
Casting Total 13. Lose 1 FL.

A cubic yard of wood at the bow of the enemy ship rots away at the waterline. Iohannes figures that the target is out of sight, that they cannot see him cast nor can they see the target rot.... and will not notice it until they scoop up a hold full of water!"

And, immediately, to prevent turnabout....

The Concealing Fog Cr(Re,In)Au(base 2, Touch +1, Sun +2, Ind, Re+1, In+1) lvl 15
rolls a zero, spends a confidence point for a reroll. Go Charmed Life! Casting Total 12. Lose 1 FL.

A dense bank of fog 50 paces in radius centers on Iohannes, obscuring everything. Iohannes can see clearly through this fog, but most people can only see a few paces. That spell almost got away!

"They'll know where we are, but will have a hard time targeting us."

"I'm taking the helm." (anachronistic? :slight_smile: ) Probably there's enough time to rest, from these spells. A quarter hour now, maybe more.

How's the other ship doing?

The most disturbing bit, you'd have to say, is the bit where you tore opne their hull and all of the bodies fell out. The half dozem bodies, hard packed against each other and the hull, that just tumbled out into the water when the wood. The bit where the ship moved them down, sliding over them.

No, wait a minute...the most disturbing bit was probably the bit right afterwards, the bit where the bodies started to swim toward your vessel, and other bodies deliberately threw themselves out of the hole and under the ship, so that they could get to you. The hole that stayed perfectly dry in the water, as if the sea was too disgusted to flow into the vessel.

Now, given that your vessel is going at quite speed, either these people don't mind drowning, or, perhaps, they don't care. To catch you, you;'d have to stop and give them half an hour to catch up.


From simple appearances is it possible to know if these are 'animated dead' or '(super-)naturally occuring undead'?

And a rulesy question ... what effect if any would my various PeVi spells (vs. the four realms) have on either type of critter? My assumption is that Scipio would know that a bit better than I do? :unamused:

OOC: Yeah, zombies. :slight_smile:

Are the swimmers and the ship able to track us despite the obscuring fog?

(Spending a Cnf to limit our visibility and not theirs.... priceless.)

Has their ship at least slowed down because the front is no longer streamlined? How much time until they are in bow range?

"It's a ship filled with dead people. Unhappy dead people.

"Last year we had demons; this year we have dead people."

Iohannes scans the horizon, calls out an order to the men in the rigging as he makes a minor course adjustment.

Iohannes reflects on what he knows about this stuff. He has faerie lore, magic lore, dominion lore... and an Area Knowledge of 5, if there's anything specific he's heard about this kind of thing on the Baltic Sea.

He also takes note of the lines of the opposing ship, the cut of the sail. Ship designs change over time, and Iohannes is pretty sure he can narrow down to within ten years when the ship was built, if it was built within the last fifty, and possibly where. Are we being pursued by something old or something new?

Which magi are still aboard?

Other things Iohannes is weighing:

Dispelling the fog.
Setting the other boat on fire, a steady blaze. Maybe that will work.
A bigger PeHe; the ship will be much slower if it's disintegrated.
Calling big wind and water and running.
Finding out what the dead people are attracted to.... is it something specific?

If you have the PeVi for the right Realm, you can hurt them with it. Naturally occuring undead is kind of tautologistic, but you might get magical or faerie undead.

Yes, it has slowed down. Until bow range? Ten minutes.

Well, you have heard of dead vikings...but the boat's all wrong.

The ship is newish in design.

The where will need you to be closer than fifteen minutes away, and in fog, but its an Atlantic design rather than a Meditteranean design.

Hmm. It didn't slow them much then; they were about 10m away when Iohannes cast the spell.

Iohannes can see through his fog; he tacked Intellego onto the spell (and an increased spell level).

Ok; I'm trying to picture this. The difference between bow range and being right on top of us is 5 minutes? That puts them at 3 times effective bow range, which, if I understand the combat rules (and I may not!) is about 90 to 120 paces. So they've already closed in to 300 or so paces from us?

Yes, funny that.




Iohannes says to the magi who are on the ship, "We have five diameters until the enemy reaches the outside of bow range. They won't be very accurate. They'll overrun us in a quarter-hour. There are things I can do if we decide to fight, things I can do if we decide to run, but not both. If you weren't here, I'd try to run; there's little to be gained by staying and a lot to be lost. They're faster than we are now, but I think that would change if I raised wind and water in our favor... and the Sanctum Mysterium is a good ship." It's obvious that Iohannes is understating his opinion here; it's not obvious that his ship is really a cut above.

"If we stayed and fought, I'd either try to burn the ship or destroy much more of it.

"But you are here, and that gives us more options. What do you have that we can use against a ship filled with dead people?"

Scipio replies in a thoughtful tone, a speculative expression on his features. "It is usually best to choose the conflict, and it's location, rather than to allow your enemy to do so. This enemy has every appearance of being much better prepared for this battle than we are. Unless someone has a reserve of power that I am unaware of, I suggest a retreat. I am uncertain if it would even be advisable to make port here once we evade this engagement. At sea we can likely evade them at will. If this enemy were to come upon us unprepared and immobile... it would likely be a short battle not in our favor." Scratching his chin and sucking air through his teeth he speaks again after a moment. "I could lay an Aegis of the fifth magnitude on your vessel. That may allow us considerably better odds in this battle, should you choose to engage. If we engaged and destroyed this vessel, it would then be reasonable to feel more secure in making port here. It does not however appear we have quite enough time for me to do so. If we could gain a bit more time, should that be your decision, I will begin laying the warding at once."

Iohannes looks to Scipio, utterly astonished. "You can cast a ritual and have us walk the boundary amidst all this?"

From Iohannes' place at the stern, the entire ship is visible. Scipio cannot see as far, due to (ooc: grrrr) the fog that has suddenly enfolded the ship, but to the untrained eye, the deck is awash in chaotic frenzy, as the ship prepares for battle. Even here, in the relative calm of the castle where crossbowmen take up position, and Iohannes and two senior crew stand by the tiller, other sailors intrude.

Iohannes stands steady, and the crew scurry with uncanny, catlike balance, as do, you suddenly notice, the cats. But the deck of the ship is not steady, especially now at full speed. Even the experienced sailors hold safety lines when their duties allow it. Even Iohannes, though he is holding the rudder.

"And more than an hour.... unless you have learned things about the Aegis ritual that I never even heard of?"