Prelude for Herman of Bonisagus

Where do you want to set up the shelter? There is the vineyards and the forest, no cleared place in-between. And I doubt that Peter will be happy if you damage his vines. :laughing:

Fatiguing spontaneous magic always carries the risk of Botching. If you want to use it to clear a place, I need the full details of the spell(s) you are attempting -- Base, R/D/T and desired effect. I'm not going to do all the work for you! :wink:

Discern the Images of Truth and Falsehood won't tell you if the birds are magical, only whether they are covered by an illusion. [strike]Also, the spell only has Voice range, which is a maximum of 50 paces.[/strike]

The ground has rocks aplenty, so you won't run out.

Sounds like we will set up the shelter inside the edge of the forest, so probably not worth trying to smooth the ground. (I will take care to be specific for future such spells.)

Yes, the discernment spell is to look for illusions. What I should have added is that the three of us will use our eyes to look at the birds for any other indications of unusual nature. I am expecting that if they were magical and not using illusion, some of the field workers would have noticed something, but we will look. I am more concerned that we won't notice anything if they are using illusions.

Wolfred and Tristan spend a day setting up a small shelter at the edge of the forest, grumbling a bit about it. "A perfectly good castle just a mile from here, and he asks us to build a frigg*** lean-to," mumbles Wolfred as he works. There are quite a few insects in the forest, including a few that seem to appreciate the blood of human preys. Still, the shelter is solid enough.

A day passes, then another one. At first, any bird call has the trio looking around trying to locate the source, but it is always just a single bird, or just a few of them. Or they remain in the forest. Nothing happens, and things are quite boring with nothing to do but watch and listen for birds. Soon, your mundanes have a small game of dice going whenever you step away from the shelter.

I make sure that the grogs take part in the watches, and are not gaming when they should be watching for trouble.
I also wander a bit in the woods, not to far from the fields, seeing if there is anything interesting, but trying to keep listening for wings, bird calls, or comments from the grogs. (While I try to pay attention to the fields, Herman's innate curiosity is going to mean that he frequently wanders somewhat, and then has to haul himself back to the boring task at hand. Trying to balance, concentration which is low but present, curiousity, and sense of obligation / trying to do a job well. herman is not especially distractable other than curiosity, nor especially dutiful.)

(Sorry about the delay, I meant to post something last week and just got caught up with something else.)

Time passes slowly for Herman, for there seems at once to be too many inconsequential things that could catch his attention, and nothing worthwhile to do. A day passes, then one more, and still another. But still no sign of the birds. He gets to wandering farther and farther away from the shelter, trying to follow small animals in their day-to-day movements.

It is over a week later that the sound of a flock of birds catches his attention. He had not been very far from the shelter, so getting back there takes only a few moments. The birds, however, are not particularly close to your current position. Maybe a quarter of a mile away. Black birds, perhaps a hundred of them, flying over one section of vine, wheeling and flowing up and down until they suddenly drop to disappear in the vines. Cawing all the while, much like crows would, if differently pitched.

Collect the two grogs and head as quickly as possible for the area the birds descended. That many birds can eat a lot of grapes pretty quickly!

The three of you hurry up between the neat rows of vines, trying to get closer to the birds. You quickly hit two problems.

First, those neat rows mean that you cannot make your way directly towards the birds. You follow a row until there is an opening from one row to the other, or until its end, before going down a few rows and repeating the process. The going is slow, as you try to avoid damaging the vines. This zig zagging path is slowing you down quite a bit.

The other problem becomes apparent when you get closer to the birds. You are not alone in the vineyards, and Peter's mundane assistants are also trying to reach the birds in order to scare them off. And as soon as one of them gets close to the birds, the whole flock takes off from that location to fly a hundred yards or more, before landing in another section of vines.

Having seen this happen, once, the second time the birds fly up I will cast a spontaneous "DISCERN THE IMAGES OF TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD" using fatigue, using a loud voice and exaggerated gesture (15 + 0 + 2 + 2 + Aura + stress roll), to see if there is a minor illusion (goal is level 10, which will go through level 5 illusions).

Assuming that there are no surprises, if I can get within load voice range, I will start flinging rocks ("Wielding the Invisible", which I know, is level 10, loud, and exaggerated just in case; I have 15 + 5 + 2 + 2 + Aura + stress roll - 1 from fatigue?)

Herman completes his illusion-detection spell and isn't able to see any illusions. (Rolled a 0, no botch)

As soon as he begins gesturing wildly and yelling the words of his spell, the flock takes flight again, moving out of range before Herman can complete the spell. They soon land in another strech of vines.

(How much is the Aura of the covenant here? I doubt it is high enough to let me reliably improvise an improved sling spell with range sight instead of voice.)

Assuming nothing else occurs to me, and neither of my grogs come up with a suggestion (the soldier might have an idea, but I doubt it) I will get the grogs to round up the vineworkers and stop them from scaring the birds. And get a guide from the workers who can help me get to wherever the birds land more quickly. The goal at this point is to get close enough that I can actually sling rocks at them. (As far as I can tell, even if I could work out a rego anima spell to change their emotion to fear, to get a group target and a range that would work would bring the total well over what I could cast spontaneously.)

(Also, what is the base for an intellego anima spell to see what emotions are driving the birds, in case there is something I am missing in that regard? I might be able to get that up to sight range.)

(Aura is only 1 in the vineyards. It rises to 5 in the castle, but its strength drops quickly as one goes down the hill.)

The workers refuse to heed your grogs' instructions. One of them stops only long enough to reply, "What? And let them eat the grape? Master Peter would be devastated if they cause too much damage! At least this way they don't damage too much grape." In any case, there are too many workers spread out all over the place, and scattered too widely, for your grogs to have a chance to control all of them.

(You can use the Mentem guidelines as a base for similar Animal guidelines to detect the emotions of the birds.)

(at base 5 for sensing the emotions of a target, given that I have to add several magnitudes for range, and for affecting the group, there is no way I can get a high enough spontaneous to do any good manipulating that.)
Stop chasing the birds. We won't get close enough to do any good. Turn and talk to the grogs. "What kind of birds do you think they are? And can you make out anything about why they might behave this way? The direct approach clearly is not going to work."

Herman will also look around for Aerianos. If he is around and inclined to be helpful, he can probably do more than we can. (But, given my luck at the moment, that probably means he is not here.)

(All I know about Aerianos is what you wrote on your magus' stats, that it is "a minor flying faerie named Aerianos, who has taken to visitng Herman regularly" and the it and Herman can into trouble regularly. Not much to go on. What is this faerie's role? As in, the Faerie role it plays? I'll need more info about it before I can include it in stories. So for the moment I'll rule that it is not there. Not to say it won't appear later...)

"They're birds," says Tristan, "what else is there to know about birds?"

Wolfred replies, "Well, they sound like crows, but they're smaller and seem to have white spots instead of being black. Closest I can tell would be spotted nutcrackers, but that's not quite right either.. He shrugs, "Never seen birds quite like that. Sorry, master."

(I do not have any of the RoP books, so I don't know much about faeries or how to describe them appropriately.
I have a strong feeling that I am missing something obvious in this scenario, so I am going to wait to post my next actions for a day or two in hopes that I will realize what I am missing.)

(Faeries are stories manifested. So a faerie will have a role to play, taken from a legend, a tale or story that is told by humans. So a faerie troll is based on stories being told of the troll beneath the bridge, that preys upon travellers trying to cross the bridge. That's his role. If the story tells of him trying to eat the unwary traveller, but being easily tricked into looking for hidden treasure so that the traveller can escape, then it will act in support of that story. Faeries derive sustenance (called vitality) from acting upon their role in stories that involve humans.)

(So basically, you should be looking for (or invent) a legend or a story about a flying faerie. Your faerie friend will act upon this role.)

(Don't look for a hidden story there. It is as simple as it looks. Herman may simply not be equiped to deal with the birds by himself. It is simply a task assigned to you by the covenant and Peter -- protect the vines from the birds. That may mean finding a ways to prevent them from eating the grapes, chasing them away, killing them, etc. Fengheld doesn't care how you do it. Ideally they would like a permanent solution, but if you can devise a solution that can be duplicated easily, they'll take that too.)

(Worst case scenario, Herman will spend a season chasing them all over the vineyards, trying to scare the birds away. Fengheld will be disappointed, but it won't have cost them anything. Herman, on the other hand, will feel like he has wasted a season. If you want, you can simply list the things that Herman will attempt over the season. Maybe you'll hit upon something that works. :laughing: )

(Come to think of it, you should see this not as a story but rather as a problem to be solved. And an opportunity to explore wjat Herman can do. I can think of a number of ways to get rid of the birds, although some can take longer to achieve.)

(Sounds like I was over-thinking this, prompted in part by the fact that the scarecrows didn't work.)

Instead of running around like a grog, Herman realizes he needs to stop and look and think. He is going to watch the birds repeatedly flying from place to place. He is trying to determine three things:

  1. Is there any pattern of how they like to move so that he can be waiting close to (even if it is one or two aisles over from) where they are might land.
  2. Are there particular birds identifiable as leaders.

There are a couple of things to try. I will use my grogs for some of the experiments. Clearly, the birds move when enough people show up loud enough.
What happens if there is a quiet person (aka scarecrow) where the birds start to land, and then he waves his hands and stamps his feet. If I can repeat the experiment, what if the person makes a simple sound?
Also, if I am patient, I should be able to hit a few birds with rocks. Not enough to make a difference, but at least enough to get a good look at the birds.

(My assumption is that one of the constraints is that the solution should not take much, if any vis. So having them put up several complex enchanted scarecrows, even if it works, is not going to be acceptable to them.)

If there is a pattern, Herman cannot find it by observing them that day.
The birds don't seem to have a leader.

Testing your theory that a quiet person might not scare the birds away proves difficult that day. The workers do not accept your authority to order them, and they do their best to scare the birds away as soon as they land.

It is the same with simply waiting at a single spot for the birds to be close enough to hit with your spell. The vineyards are extensive, and the birds relatively few. You might have to stand in the same spot for weeks before they land close enough to you. There might some other ways to gain information about the birds than killing or capturing one.

One thing to try to check is whether the birds are under a spell. Intellego Vim spell. Unless the spell is faerie in nature, my minor focus won't count. So 21 + 2 for gesture and voice + Stress against base + 3 magnitudes for range vision (still momentary and individual). If I get really lucky and get to 30, that will detect third magnitude magic. More likely, it will only detect a spell if it is the sixth magnitude (which is unlikely even if it is controlling a flock.) But might as well try it.

An InVi spell to detect faerie effects would need to be a seperate casting, in any case, as stated in ArM5 p.158 (in the guidelines' boxed insert).

Rolled a 7, the spells goes off without any problem. So total casting roll is 31. Divided by 2 is 15. Reduced by 3 magnitudes (for R:Sight) gives you a Base 4. You cannot detect any active effect of third magnitude or higher on the bird you targeted.