Sense Motive checks for those who're in earshot. I guess that's everyone but Oskav and Avar.
Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold
These dice have been terrible for Kya lately.
That means all 20s in the next fight though, because that's how this game works, right...
If y'all can't pass a Sense Motive check, that next fight may be happening sooner than you think. Oskav will lock down this side of the stream and cover your retreat, though!
"Men are the only animals that devote themselves, day in and day out, to making one another unhappy. It is an art like any other. Its virtuosi are called altruists." - H.L. Mencken
Nah, i'ts just some halfling custom where they pretend to hate you for busting into their camp and demanding food, but actually they respect and adore you for it :)
Well, diplomacy failed. Maybe we can kill them all and take their stuff?
I like your style. ALL his bones, even the ones still inside his body.
Alannah thinks this guy probably is worried you're magically disguised goblins, or faeries, or eldritch horrors from beyond this reality, newly arrived through the cyclopean ruins you just left last night. Or something.
Damn her terrible sense of direction.
I've been known to sense a motive a time or two. Pretty sure the chieftain's daughter is way into me.
Again, this would have all been avoided if someone could have helped Avar cross that damn stream.
The talking part could have been avoided, sure. We'd already be rolling initiative.
Snese Motive. Unless our halfling friend is really a shapechanger is disguise, in which case it's 2 higher.
Evidently, the Bastards see no great issue with a little David Eddings-esque ear hunt. How are you going to proceed with this errand?
Maybe a nice catch-and-release program, tagging the goblins by cutting off their ears to know if we already got a group of them?
It's really too bad you don't have a ring of regeneration. You could just cut ears off of the same goblin over and over again.
Oskav doesn't think pieces of living creatures, even sentient ones, are very gross. He also doesn't see the harm in cutting off a piece of one after you kill it - by default, we would have already done the worst thing you can do to a person. Why not keep the ear? Or a dingaling? Whatever this little dude is into.
It seems like the easiest thing to do would be to ride in whatever direction we are most likely to encounter scouts or warbands and let them attack us. I hope the navigators in the party can steer us wide of the main invasion force, though.
You already know that Alannah doesn't have a moral or code-based objection to collecting ears... or doing really anything. It's just something that needs to be done to accomplish something that she wants to do. Now does she want to be the one doing the cutting and carrying? No, of course not, that's a messy job that's likely to stain her clothes and they'll likely smell bad and start to smell worse the longer they have them.
We could try to ride with the mercenary group for a limited time...or I agree with the idea to pick off scouts and small contingents if we can track them down
This almost certainly would not be the first time in his life that Chuul has had to remove ears for some kind of bounty. He's not squeamish.
We're out of our normal operating area, but I'd assume that this plains-type are is probably bad as hell for ambushing, but pretty good for tracking. So we've probably got two decent possibilities here. We either do as MI mentioned and set out in whatever direction our Survival checks tell us is most likely to have goblin bands or we do as HVB mentioned and find the Horsekiller group we know is operating in the area and ask/offer to accompany them for a time.
Alannah would be in favor of the Horsekiller idea, but the other is fine as well. She can find the horsekillers if we want to go that route.
I'm ok with trying either, though with horsekillers we have a better chance of surviving an encounter with a larger horde of goblins if it comes to that.
But on our own we don't risk too much judgement when half the party rushes to the pile of newly dead goblins and shoves their ears into a bag...
The Horsekillers accept financial compensation for killing strangers so Oskav doesn't really care if he does something they might criticize.
Avar would opt to work with the Horsekillers as well. But there is going to be some issue with ear collecting. I can't find it but I seem to recall that Avar torturing evil creatures or witnessing it breaks his code. Not sure if that's applies to trophy hunting dead goblins though.
Personally, I would play as Avar not caring, but DMs to DM things.
In-character, Chuul doesn't really care if Avar has objections. He'll take the ears over them.
I'd doubt that a mercenary band would really object to proof of death. I'd legitimately be surprised if they don't already take ears for a similar purpose. In fact, if that's the case, it might not be outside the realm of possibility to simply buy ears from them and call it done.
From a code of conduct point of view, Avar faces problems if he's involved in or condones the killing of goblinoids expressly for the purpose of harvesting their ears, in the absence of some overt sign that they are enemy combatants.
So if you run into a warband, they immediately give battle, and you harvest ears, then that's one thing. If you run into an encampment full of noncombatants, massacre them, and harvest those ears, that's entirely another and Avar's probably got a problem. In addition to the whole "massacre of noncombatants" thing, I mean. That also would be a huge problem.
The gray area comes in when you start looking questions like whether it'd be okay to chase down a warband that is retreating from you before combat ever even begins. If they're avoiding contact with your party, then either they somehow know who you are, or they're just not interested in fighting pink-skins. Unless you have some good way to tell which is the case, it's ethically risky for Avar to help you chase them down and hack them to death.
And in similar vein, it could be a little problematic for him to chase down goblinoids who're fleeing from a fight that has just gone against them, kill them, and then stand by while his buddies mutilate those corpses. It'd be a little less bad than if they had never wanted to fight in the first place, just on a "play stupid games, win stupid prizes" basis. But it's not a great look on a paladin. He might be able to put a fig leaf over the worst bits by demanding that they surrender or die, early on in the fight. That way, at least he warned them when the Bastards kill them to the last man. Goblin. Whatever.
And Board Rider is totally right to think that yeah, Avar probably is going to have issues with cutting the ears off of live goblins. That's torture, for sure, and it'd be a no-no for him.
This whole arrangement is really pretty sketchy, from a paladin's point of view. It raises all kinds of uncomfortable questions about where you draw the line between warfare and murder, and whether the Bastards are soldiers, warriors, heroes, or just a roving band of murderhobos.
In a larger sense, the big question that may be on the other Bastards' minds is whether this kind of mistreatment of corpses might pose a risk of having them come back as some kind of undead. If you're going to leave these plains dotted with clusters of pissed off one-eared goblin ghosts, then maybe you should just reconsider your deal with Eulan, and try to decide whether there's some way to find out where he keeps his fragment of the necklace, steal it without Avar knowing, and forget about the ear thing.
Also, I don't know if you guys have had enough time with Eulan to have a good handle on whether he would be all that particular about whether these were ethically sourced free-range goblin ears, or massacred goblin ears. He didn't specify. He certainly seemed to be expecting that you were actually going to kill the goblins from which you harvest the ears, though.
Oskav finds the "we're at war" argument unsatisfying. HE is not at war. He isn't even from here. If goblins attack him and they lose, finders keepers. He will kill whoever engages him or his companions in combat even if one of his companions initiated that combat. But he has no interest in hunting obvious noncombatants, will not participate in the mutilation of living captives and will think less of anyone who thinks either of those things is ok.
But based on what everyone else has said I don't really think we're leaning that way anyway. Re: the potential for creating new restless undead by carving up enemy corpses, Oskav will roll Knowledge (religion) if that issue is ever raised and offer his counsel then. But he isn't particularly worried about it since, again, he isn't from here, and we're kind of out in the middle of nowhere.
To be clear, Chuul has also not given any indication that he's about finding any and all goblins to cut down for their various parts. He just expects that with current events being what they are, we're much more likely to run into warbands or military scouting parties than we are to happen across a village of non-coms. Chuul's brutal and desperate to put Berger Cole under the ground, but he's not a monster or a murderer.
Just for clarification purposes, Alannah hasn't even considered taking the ears from live goblins or attacking non-combatants. She simply sees ear collecting as Eulan's way of accounting for their killing of goblin warriors, which she has no issues doing (killing or collecting). Unless someone gives her the idea that there are easier ways of getting ears, she intends for them to hunt and kill goblins. But if someone mentions the other ideas of getting the ears, she might go for them. In other words, don't give her any ideas.
Kya is just wondering what the guy with the next piece of the necklace will ask for and then the next and so on...there has to be a more direct approach...
The thought of torturing live goblins or cutting down non hostile goblins never crossed her mind.
Well, the next guy would be a lich, so....
If ears are valuable, the Horsekillers may want them (or a piece of the action one way or another). Garren is in favor of going our own way. Partly this is because he doesn't really trust the HorseKillers and partly because he thinks the party is probably as effective (or more) against any warbands that they might run into. If it comes to a fight between goblins and the horsekillers that the mercenaries can't handle, the Bastards COULD save their bacon, but they're pretty low on the list of 'innocents' that he wants to stand guard over. Let them take care of themselves.
I don't think ears were implicitly valuable to anyone.
So what's the plan?
"...so that's why the Imperial crown should be the standard monetary medium used everywhere, Oskav. It makes sense really. I mean, let's talk about backed currency. If you look at...."
Oskav is very progressive and has gone all-in on Dogecoin but he will wait patiently while Avar tells him all about gold currency.