I do not know exactly were in the cycle the timing of this goes down, but Ryu, this is your show
Can you change the title to "Mission: Improbable"?
And frankly, everyone had so many different opinions on what was the right and the wrong way to handle the scenario I proposed, that I honestly have no freaking idea how to run this adventure anymore.
Run it the way you feel is best
I do not recal any debate on how to run said story thoug, I am confused.
My advice for all storyguides: don't take it too seriously, and expect that anything random can happen. The best way is to let players think they thought of it when they are following along your plot schemes, and when they do something unexpected or innovative, make them think they are playing right into your hands.
A few weeks after that first covenant meeting, Vulcanus quietly sends word to the others who expressed interest, that he has a plan.
"Caduceus will be away from his sanctum during the first month of spring. Insatella, Prima of Mercere, is commissioning a huge collaborative enchantment project, and has invited craftsmen to pitch contributions to the project; Verdi is hosting a conference to discuss the project, and Caduceus will be there. To give him no reason to suspect anything, I should be there as well-- not to mention that what benefits House Mercere benefits the entire Order, so naturally I must go and lend my expertise." He grins.
"I have sketched out plans for the tower and will tell you everything I know about how to infiltrate his security so that you can obtain the evidence we need to convict him and recover our stolen artifacts. I only ask that you bring me my pater's bow. If a few other items among Caduceus' mundane collection were to go missing--" Vulcanus looks evenly at Vibria, "--it will hide our involvement even further."
"This scum has aided and abetted the blackguards who attacked our covenant. This is our best chance at finding the culprits. Are you in?"
Und Bernhard. But you knew that already.
The team assembles, including Ludwig, the "shield grog" for Vulc and Bernhard.
The fastest way to get to the island of Baltrum is to take the Redcap Network to Crintera, and then catch a ship around Zeeland. With a weather witch aboard, the trip should take no time...
The island is only about two square miles. The tower can be seen from far away; it is solid, jet-black stone. There do not appear to be any other buildings on the island. Do you want to take any special precautions in your approach? The ship has been commissioned from some "merchants" (they're totally pirates) and they will drop you wherever you like.
Vibria tries not to grin, but only succeeds in keeping it to a smile.
How many grogs are we taking? I assume we won't need mounts.
Also, I want to point out that German (High and Low) is the only language Bernhard speaks well. I'll try to sprinkle German words and/or phrases into his dialogue to reflect that, but I know just the tiniest bit of German myself, so I will inevitably butcher it. I apologize now to those who actually speak it.
No mounts needed. As for grogs, you CAN take as many as you want, but the idea is to get in and get out unnoticed, and you're not expecting any straightforward combat. Ludwig is going along because he knows the local language and doesn't have a magical air like Bernhard does.
So, we probably won't need (or want) armour, as that would draw unwanted attention. Although it would help protected us from said unwanted attention, so...shrug
And Vibria can't spont Doublet of Impenetrable Silk, which sucks. Ah well.
So I ask again-- is anyone making any attempt to conceal your ship's approach to the island, or any other precautions prior to landing? There is a village on the eastern coast of the island, which is the direction you're approaching from.
I can't think of anything Vibria can to do conceal the approach, aside from making it look like a ship that would normally approach the island.
Same for Bernhard, unless he knows something specific about this place. I assumed our pirates knew how to sail casual.
In that case, the ship pulls up to a dock at the village, and they drop a gangplank for the group to disembark. The village is abandoned, and appears not to have been inhabited for quite some time. The tower is off a bit west from the village, along the southern coast of the island.
There are three options for entry: the front door into the main foyer, the servant's entrance into storage area with stairs leading up into the kitchens and servant's quarters, or if you have a way to scale about 40', there is a balcony leading to Caduceus' sanctum antechamber. Vulcanus warned you that the private areas are warded against those with the Gift. Egon is travelling with you, as he can pass the ward; he spends the sea voyage in the shame of a startlingly handsome human man.
Objects you have at your disposal ("I have to return all these by summer, and my associate should be quite upset with me if any of these are damaged in any way," Vulcanus seems particularly neurotic about mentioning this at least 7 or 8 times):
- A small piece of hematite which, when thrown onto a surface when speaking the word "Exterminate Excrement!," can be used to destroy any Arcane Connections in an area. ("It also creates fresh water when you touch it and say 'Aguamenti,' it's actually a toilet item used to clean chamber pots and fill wash basins, but it will work for this purpose too," Vulcanus adds.)
- A hazel wand with a piece of quartz affixed to the tip; the rock glows when it is touched to anything with active magic effects on it; the color and pattern indicates the technique and form of each effect
- A shimmering velvet blanket, which renders invisible any who hide beneath it; you can fit three people in there comfortably, and more would be possible, though cramped
(...Sorry. I thought about including a Marauder's Map, too, but that would have just been silly.)
You can expect there to be a non-trivial number of servants in the public areas of the tower, but there is a servant entrance from the kitchens to the studio level on the third floor.
Plan of attack?
Things sped by fast in this one. Carmen was thinking of masking our approach with a thunderstorm. She casts ReIg 25 Ward against Heat & Flaes, ReAu25 Ward against Thunder & Lightning, & ReTe25 Ward against Weapons (+15 soak versus fire, lightning, and metal weapons). She offers to do so on others as well.
And she is bringing two grogs. Oscar the fearless (a veteran of the old Andorran Guard), and Rudy McRedshirt (one of the new mercenaries). They accept the wards and Carmen shares Parma with them.
She can also fatiguelessly spont Ward against Rain on everyone, perpetuating a thunderstorm to cover our approach and we can remain dry.
Arachné will just take a bag full of normal, wooden spiders.
Given a little time, she can make her own "grogs" easily, should the need arise.
She'll ask Intissar (her owl familiar) to stay in the covenant, should hell break loose. She can't stop Melantha* (her spirit ancestor) from coming with her, but she'll ask her to beware, should an aegis or spirit traps be there.
- THIS MEANS THAT, IF SOMEONE WANTS TO PLAY HER SPIRIT COMPANION, HE CAN
This is a great idea, says Arachné. That way, even if maritime trafic is observed, we can always play the travelers part.
She'll cast her own Ward against Heat and Flames, as well as Shriek against the Impending Shafts. Otherwise, she'll take Carmen's wards.
Okay, for the first recon, here's my plan.
I can take one of my spiders, cast my Reaching the Distant Target* spell on it, and have my talisman maintain that spell. Then I can take control of the spider**, seeing through its eyes***, and, using it as a scout, send it to spy inside the tower. Is everyone okay with that?
- Sight version of Intangible Tunnel, works on lvl 25 spells.
** Animate the Wooden Spider (ReHe 10), Based on LoH p112, "Animate Mannequin". Base 3, +1 touch, +1 Conc, +1 complexity.
*** Through the Eyes of the Spider (InIm 15) +12, Mastery 1 (quiet casting). Use one sense at a distance: This allows the maga to see as if she was located at the Touched object location. Base 1, +1 Touch, +1 Conc, +4 Vision.
Which entrance will you send in a spider? (Since they are wooden and not Animal, can they scale walls the way a normal spider could?)