This is page one of one of my play-by-forum games. Since it's a pbp, it should be pretty self-explanatory without much need for any other setup. If you are interested at all, let me know and I will post more from it.
It is well after dark when you finally arrive at your destination. Looking up the black hillside, you can make out the shadows of ancient broken towers. They are barely visible against the heavy clouds and behind the black, hulking skeletons of dying trees. Seeing a tiny breath of orange glowing weakly between some of the branches, you begin making your way up toward the dark towers.
As you hike upward through the trees, you think back on some of the strange tales which brought you here. Long shunned by the nearby townsfolk, years ago a series of vast treasure hoards were discovered in the twisting mazes beneath the castle proper, along with hungry beasts and deadly traps. Legends were made in that time; names the like of Erac’s Cousin, Melf, Tenser, Otiluke, and Lord Robilar will live on for centuries. Eventually, though, the dungeons lost their luster as the treasures became smaller and harder to win, the traps were dismantled, and the monsters slain; eventually only the desperate or foolhardy dared enter the dungeons beneath the castle. Recently, however, reports have surfaced of renewed stockpiles of wealth in the dank passages and chambers beneath the ground.
Near the top you make your way across crumbling black stones, wet from the recent rain and covered in deep green moss. Leaving the densest of the cracking branches behind, you head through the fallen tower ruins in hopes of finding the warmth you spied from below. Instead, you find a dark rectangular chasm plummeting down into the black foundations of the ruined tower.
Another shock of lightning reveals the broken black stones of the descending steps, glistening with rain and moss, and disappearing into absolute blackness some twenty steps below. It also reveals, much more closely than you might have expected, a handful of other people looking down the dark stairwell.
Their clothing wet from the rain, and some showing the glint of metal armor, a red-haired dwarf, a hobbit, a woman, and two men, one looking rather large, stand at the top of this descending stairwell. What would each of you like to do and/or say?
[IC] Finnigan thoughtfully studies the other four figures surrounding the stairway, his hands casually resting on the pommel of his battle axe, and slowly nods his head. Through squinted eyes, and with a low, smooth voice, he says,
"Ay, it looks like I not be the only one set to explore the depths of these here castle ruins this fine wet evening."
[OCC] Squinted eyes? Maybe Fin's near-sighted! Or maybe it's just the rain...
[IC] Mantid stares down into the blackness gripping his mace tightly in his hands and is mumbling to himself as if he was praying. If you listen closely it almost sounds like, "Stop what comes."
Upon hearing the dwarf speak Mantid turns to look at him and says, "We must stop what is coming... I know not what, only that I was sent here to stop it." With blank zealot-like stare Mantid gives the dwarf a nod of acknowledgment.
Mantid will wait until the others have their say before deciding where to go next. Meanwhile he will stand guard and watch for any sign of danger.
The woman is well dressed in expensive blue velvet robes, her long curly blonde hair sensibly up in a bun, although a few wayward tangles escape here and there.
"Stop what is coming, hmm? Personally I just want to see what is down there!"
She turns and give the others a dazzling smile.
"Callista Featherstonehaugh. Pronounced Fanshaw, if you please. Working to understand the workings of the arcane. SO delightful to meet you all".
She pauses, with an attitude of polite expectation.
Hearing a conversation up ahead, drak marches out of the shadowy trees, his armored feet crunching on dry leaves and twigs, stopping to let those assembled on the hill see him. None of his body can be seen, hidden in a bland suit of platemail. A large slab of plain metal is strapped to his left arm, while a blacksmiths hammer is clutched in his gloved right hand. His helmet is a cylinder on his head, with two inverted triangles for eye-slits. His armor and weapons are covered in some unknown substance, appearing black in the weak moonlight. A bleached, human skull hangs off his belt by a thick chain.
He scans the crowd of people, his gaze lingering on the mumbling human. Double checking the grip on his hammer, he waits for one of them to make the first move.
[IC] Mantid glances at the plate mailed clad figure with great suspicion. He doesn't appear to like the looks of him either. A faint echo of a thought flits through his head,"untrustworthy".
Not wanting to draw attention to himself, he smiles towards the woman who calls herself Callista something-or-other. She seems like a nice person... not like that menacing looking fellow in armor.
[OOC] Mantid uses what little charm and intelligence he has to form a bond with those who seem "goodly" to him. He is highly suspicious of the plate mailed fellow though.
"Well met, Callista and to ye, as well, Mr... fine young cleric who never gave his name and appears to have conversations in his head."
"Me name is Finnigan. "
Fin turns towards the lady...
"I've no love for the arcane, young lady, but it seems we share the desire to see 'what is down there,' as that is why I'm here, as well."
... and then turns towards the cleric.
"Stop what comes, eh? Well... if 'what comes' is flesh and blood, and can feel the bite of my axe, and 'comes' with an equal share of treasure... I might be tempted to help ye. Of course... a name would be nice. What shall we call ye, kind sir?"
With a casual glance at the newcomer, Fin sees one who looks like he's looking for trouble. In a disarming tone, he says...
"And you, black knight? You be here to go into the ruins? ... or protect them?"
You fight with the strength of many men, Sir Knight.
I am Arthur, King of the Britons.
I seek the bravest and finest knights in the land...
Right, sorry, I won't go on...
More on topic, Fin thinks doing something for the cleric (possibly an entire brotherhood?) might not be a bad way to raise his "renown" in the area.
You all notice that all 5 of you are wearing backpacks, and are outfitted with rope and empty sacks, and that 3 of you, quite conspicuously, have looooong wooden poles. Most conspicuous is the hobbit, whose pole is nearly 4 times his own height, and seems to be presenting at least a slight difficulty in balancing. If it wasn't for the pole, he would melt quite well into the background, as he is yet to say anything.
Drak puts away his hammer, hanging it in a loop on his belt, and faces the dwarf.
"I am here to search the area, and I am no knight."
Finnigan suddenly notices the tip of a pole waving in the air. Following it down with his eyes, he sees it is held by a man even shorter than him! He gives him a quick once-over and cautiously squints his eyes again as he notices the halfling carries nothing more stout than a knife for close combat...
"What about you, little halfling? What brings you to this gaping hole with a 10' pole?"
[IC]A sudden flash of memory resurfaces in Mantid's head as he peers more closely at the dark man in armor. Upon hearing the dwarf introduce himself to the nice lady, and addressed him with demanding eyes. The fleeting memory vanishes, and Mantid replies,
"My apologies, sir dwarf, um Finna-in? My name is Mantid, Mantid Notallbright they call me back at St. Culthbert's monastery."And with that he smiles broadly at Finnigan and Callista, which quickly turns into a frown as he eyes the armored brooding looking fellow once more. Mantid has a feeling he knows what he came here to stop...
Mantid will remain where he is standing (mace and shield in hand) and will be carefully watching Drak.
"My apologies, good sir, I meant nothing by it. It was the helmet that threw me off, to be sure. And by what name shall we be calling thee?"
Callista starts a little at the sight of this rather.... intimidating looking personage in the helmet.
"oh my!" she murmurs, and watches the scene. She notices the smiles and politely returns them.
Walking quickly (for a halfling) up to the staircase, mostly ignoring the gathering, I peer down into the deep darkness for a few moments. Seeming to find satisfaction in the ancient passageway, I turn back to the dwarf and say him,
"I work alone."
And with that, I start down the stairs.
30 seconds later, I come back out of the crypt, slightly sheepishly.
"Anyone got a light?"
Walking up to the group, drak feels around in a sack until he pulls out a small bag, then throws it at the halfling.
A whistle of air shoots out of the darkness below, and a flash of metal flies toward one of you!