First, we'll start with all the flesh so our hob friends can get some licks in. (See what I did there?)
Next, we'll do the spider that we have to carefully eat, as if a fork was in it and we shouldn't bite down too hard.
Finally, we'll do the metaphorical spider that involves smuggling, trees, and a web of corruption.
Very good. Hobgoblins, licking, genital spiders it shall be.
Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold
While I get set up for the next bit, everyone can go ahead and roll a Survival check for me. If you have no ranks, roll a Wis check instead.
Additionally, anyone who's got a non-negative Survival or Search modifier (regardless of whether your character has ranks) should go ahead and roll a second check. If you have both, use the higher of the two. Please note whether you have the Track feat.
Also, who's paying for this canvas, or can Kaarys just acquire some from the keep? Are Leland and Horace going with us? I've sort of lost track of who is and isn't Dilmer's and present.
A couple of square yards of canvas only costs 2 sp or so, so I think the marchioness will spring for it.
Leland's going. I don't know if he's bringing Horace.
Is Johten likely to be able to find and requisition some basic foodstuffs (like bread, cheese, maybe a bit of dried meat) from the kitchens or is he going to have to scrounge/buy?
It shouldn't be a problem to get something basic like that packed up for a travel meal.
Johten feels like it's likely to rain starting sometime shortly before noon, and keep up for several hours. And then probably it'll storm in earnest during the night. He thinks he'd very much like to be back inside the keep by the time that happens.
Wisdom Check (no ranks in Survival)
Second Survival Check (no ranks) as Survival is better than Search (+3 vs. +1)
I don't think we'll need Horace. Gizani and Kisasi both have warhorses.
Man, we're set in the horse department. This might be a first for me. My parties never have horses, except the occasional covered wagon that seems to always get them in trouble. Pack mules and a huge-sized spider in a forest makes for a great fight scene, though...
The problem with animals is that they aren't absolutely obedient, and they're least likely to be obedient when things are at their worst. It's a big enough problem with regular mounts and beasts of burden that I would go so far as to argue that they hurt more than they help most of the time.
Mules and donkeys are specifically called out for being stolid and willing (but not happy) to encounter danger by entering caverns and other dungeons, but they don't make great mounts. I think their stolidity is mostly intended to inhibit the DM from having your food and supplies run away every time you get into a fight (which, to be fair, is probably realistic but wouldn't be much fun in a game). I usually allow Handle Animal checks to deal with nervous horses, but that gets out of hand pretty quickly if you have many of them. And once a horse panics, it's probably going to run too far for you to calm it down unless you're lucky (or maybe unlucky) enough to be on its back and stay there.
Ordinary horses and ponies aren't very accommodating of dangerous and weird stuff, although in the case of war-trained mounts of these kinds I'm inclined to treat them pretty similarly to donkeys and mules by having them go into unnatural, unpleasant places without the need for PCs to use Handle Animal checks. Still, I'll be interested to see how you guys deal, the first time that I send you into a dungeon that has passages too cramped for your horses to move through. It helps that all of you shelled out the money for warhorses. It's not a huge problem because Tolrea doesn't have an "Underdark" like a lot of other fantasy settings, so I don't guess that it'll be routine for you to spend days at a time inside a ruin or labyrinth. But minding the animals is going to be a chore unless you want to risk having them stolen or scattered.
But really, the biggest problem with common mounts, other than an animal companion or paladin's steed, is that their Will saves tend to be crappy. There are several ways that this can become a problem for you, especially as you get into mid-level play.
The most effective part of mounts probably isn't their carrying capacity - it's their ability to mitigate external factors to achieving goals. For example, most random encounters aren't based on distance traveled - they're hourly or daily. A mount can substantially reduce the number of random encounters that could limit the resources the party may have for the dramatic and plot related encounters. Obviously, that's not true in something like your AB campaign, but I think you'll agree that's the exception rather than the rule.
Another thing that mounts mitigate are weather related difficulties. If the weather is favorable, the party can travel much faster than they can when they get bogged down in the mud during rain. This comes up when Tornados wipe Harenshire off the map, or when we think things get muddy on spider hunts.
Survival +6 for general use, +8 for tracking (and w/tracking feat). +2 additional if the second survival/tracking check is for something to do with an aberration.
Oh, it's very applicable in Ancestral Burdens, too. The "random generation" part of that campaign mitigates the thing where random encounters are interruptions rather than opportunities, but really that only applies to the players. I'm using a lot of the same methodology in this campaign; the real point of differentiation is that in Ancestral Burdens, there is no "main quest line." In Cataclysm, there is and you are currently following it.
But from an In Character perspective, I don't think there's any valid reason not to use mounts, and I doubt that Chuul would respond politely if someone suggested that he ought to appreciate the delays that have plagued his quest to find and kill Berger Cole because they're chances for him to get involved in more feuds and troubles.
From the perspective of any but the most eccentric of PCs, having a mount is a great idea because, as you say, it's going to get you from point A to point B faster, and hence with less chance of some mishap that will kill you. I think there's a Planescape faction that might choose to walk everywhere for this very reason, but the whole "philosophers with clubs" thing is kind of a turn-off for me as it has been presented in most D&D supplements.
Like Johten, Swarbrick expects several hours of rain starting around noonish, and then a stormy night.
You're not alone. Sigil is weird. I love it, but I also know it is weird.
Since it may come up in the nearish future, how do you feel about the capacity of medium sized humanoids to carry cat-sized creatures?
I think that if Vandersrike wants a piggyback ride from Johten, he should ask politely.
Well, I'm going to wait until we finish building the litter. When he sees how pretty it is, he can't say no.
I think you underestimate Johten's ability to communicate without actually saying the word "no."
Okay, you've got a piece of canvas to skid under whatever you kill and drag it home. You have a cold meal of bread, cheese, and dried fruit for each member of the party. No wine or other alcoholic beverages; if Johten or Henrik actually conveyed Kaarys's request, the cooks would have laughed in their faces.
Alcohol is rationed in the castle, partly to reduce discipline problems and partly because it's a significant expense if so many people are drinking regularly. Usually, if you have the privilege of dining at the Marchioness's table, you get a mug of beer or glass of wine per day as part of your supper. Things are different if you're an important guest, and things loosen up a little during important festivals and holidays.
Dafyd, I take it that Horace is indeed coming with Leland on this outing?
I doubt anybody wants to be out long enough for us to start making some pruno, so I think we're ready to depart.
If you guys decided to retreat from the world into the woods and build a still, and then defend your moonshine against all comers, I honestly wouldn't even be mad.
It's the end of the world as they know it, and they're drinking and setting traps in the woods. Like heroes.
EDIT: This is what I get for half editing a joke.
Leland expects rain starting a couple of hours before noon, extending until midafternoon. Afterward, there will be overcast skies. A stormfront will roll through the area starting a couple of hours after sunset, and probably will pass through by midnight. Tomorrow, partly cloudy skies and seasonable springtime temperatures. Overmorrow, a cold snap in the small hours of the morning, presaging another storm that will move through by noon, several hours of calmer weather, and then another storm in the late afternoon that will last through midnight. Blue skies and warmer temperatures by dawn of the third day.
New pictures for Leland.
Hahahaha that is brilliant.
Gazini is ready to head out. Also, I am 100% down for starting a backwood moonshine still. Gazini might not care, but that would be a lot of fun.
I feel like people are daring me to kill their pets. Brushing them. Giving them cute names, feeding them snacks. I'm not saying that's a BAD idea, or that I'm necessarily going to murder your horses. Just that you might also want to adopt a street urchin with some kind of painfully incurable disease and try to raise him as the son you always wanted.
Gazini has already given all the animals a pet name: "backup meat."
Horace is coming, for better or worse.
Hey, Serry is the last little bright spot in Kaarys' soul. He's gotta cling to something. It certainly makes for some interesting character development opportunities.
Don't you dare touch my rats.
A few words about the map in the most recent IC post. The water shown here is of unknown depth; it's black and still, and could be anything from a few inches to a bottomless abyss in depth. You can poke it with a stick or something if you really want to know.
Due north and south of Johten (Black 8) are a couple of regular-sized trees, one growing out of the water, and one onshore. Those PCs who've been here before think that this is probably where the slitherweb had (one of) its webs strung up. Johten in particular would be likely to remember this, since he and Mbali both got stuck in that stretch of webbing after the fight. That all happened on the 14th; today is the 17th. If the slitherweb had been back here since then, it seems reasonable to think that it would have re-webbed across the trail. That hasn't happened here.
After you fought the thing, it retreated to the south-southwest.
Knowledge (dungeoneering) would be appropriate if anyone cares to answer Vandersrike regarding whether a slitherweb is amphibious.
Swarbrick is making an educated guess. Swarbrick is also going to dismount and take his time to see if he can pick up a trail. Treat his survival as +10 bonus. Can he take a 20?
Taking 20 is technically possible, but not feasible because of time constraints; if you fail a Survival check to track something, you lose an hour before you retry. Taking 20 would require you to spend all day to cover a mile's worth of trail.
In any case, it's not necessary. That second check I had you roll before was to see what happened here.
If there's no immediate danger, Swarbrick takes a 10 on an Escape Artist check for a 13 to try to get out. If there is some danger (like a slitherweb appears) or the average attempt doesn't work, he'll go for a more frantic 1d20 roll, results below.
Taking 10 didn't work, but the result of the d20 check is sufficient.
For how long will you folks wait around before you try another stratagem?
What time of day is it?
We should follow it.
It's noon-ish. Johten and Swarbrick expect rain any time now. Swarbrick knows that precipitation will make it harder to track the beast; right now the trail isn't the best, but he doesn't really need to try hard to keep up with it. A couple of hours of rain could change that for the worse.
If you wait until after the rain, Swarbrick thinks that tracking the slitherweb will go from "not that hard" to "possible, but uncertain of outcome."
Yeah, let's try to track it. We'll leave the rat.
Kisasi will take point and attempt to use his lance to probe ahead to get a LITTLE bit of advance warning before he gets himself and his horse stuck like Swarbrick.
The black arrow indicates the approximate direction of the trail.