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Claiming Skull Church - Out of Character Discussions

8-1 BOB

Laying out what this story arc will likely look like.

1 - This will be a longer arc that we will come in and out of over months. There will be some encounters early on, some building, and likely some digressions. I envision this like the Home Stories where we come back to this story arc periodically over time after the initial portion.

2 - I am not telling John, Lisa or anyone what your characters will do. The ideas we talk about are just that, when the group puts them into play they are yours to empower.

3 - The things that I want people to remember or point out if you did not spot that on other pages or discussions:

  • Hoffman will swear fealty to Branwyn, and she will swear homage to him.
    • This is different than what John originally envisioned I know but as events have played out that is how it seems to need to happen
  • This is a living breathing cathedral, with worshipers and a very long history in both the Craniate Wastes and in the Suomi religion.
  • The last time someone tried to reconsecrate this church away from the Suomi faith into the Greek faith there was a small crusade (The Enemy of My Enemy) to stop that from happening.
  • I will not give away discoveries for you but the Craniate Wastes page has hints of what sorts of things you will encounter in this area

4 - Practical points to help you organize your plans for going forward

  • There is a new map in KloOge called Skull Church Environs with the correct scale (1 foot = 1 mile)
  • When planning for this territory the mine is in the Quellcon Estates and the previously accepted border was the Third Drillian Civil War battle site from 187 SKR
  • There is essentially no arable land near Skull Church proper, the area is too rocky
  • The two abandoned villages along Farmers Turn are prime areas to rebuild

5 - Goblins

8/3/20 John

I understand there is a lot of work to be done in this area any way it works out, but I also get Bob's strong hint of even bigger and larger consequences. So I have one more idea that might makes things better for everyone involved.

To solve both the religious and political situation we do what happened so much in real life, we arrange a marriage. A Suomi priestess from Quellcon is chosen to marry someone connected to the Queen and make the church and the surrounding area a more neutral zone. Suomi but not belonging to either country and not to be developed (getting followers) for a agreed amount of time (years).

Ideally, I would be the Suomi priestess and marry Hoffman as a henchman, but if there are other ways for this to work, we can discuss.

8-3 BOB Quellcon is Kayugan not Suomi.

The marriage idea is not a bad one but it would not be a panacea for the situation. Right now the Wastes are neutral because no one has taken control of them for over a hundred years. That is one of the reasons the Queen granted Branwyn land there to start to reclaim it.

A marriage to Hoffman would interesting in an overall story view but would also likely create even more complications.

8/3/20 Lisa

Will think on this, but the first thought in my head was - how do you convince the DragonSlayers/Dragon Fen to lay out the kind of cash you will likely need to renovate this place if it will not be considered a part of Dragon Fen? The only thing I can think of is that Hoffman finally tells Branwyn goodbye and good riddance and he wants his payout from the coffers. She gives him a one time payout and turns her back. Which is fine. Miranda had insisted on a goodbye in the past; it won't be a big surprise for another one from Hoffman. Things can end on a friendly note, but her obligation to the place ends - until another crazy person takes over.

8-3 BOB

I see Lisa and I posted at the same time.

The religious situation only becomes a problem if you try to take Skull Church and turn it into something other than the church that it is. You can build up a town all around it, above and below ground, build a light house on the back of the church to shine a light out for everyone to find it, etc. As long as the faithful can use their church that solves the religious conflict. Hoffman can charge taxes, etc with no problem.

The Crainiate Wastes are already a 'neutral' zone. Quellcon claimed land there in the past but gave up controlling it long ago (see the history of the Wastes) and unless Branwyn or someone were to try to push into their territory the stronger person who can claim the territory wins. Which is why I pointed out above where their interests are.

The real political issue there is you killed a nobleman. Branwyn will need to find a way to deal with that. Hoffman is a 5th level fighter with no lands or title. If Hoffman killed Lord Charles Witherbane IV on his own, he likely would be executed for it by his family. If he killed him on Branwyn's orders as her vassal then that is a different set of circumstances. If it is a group of adventurers who killed his daughter then killed him is a different thing. How this is handled will determine how the two estates look at each other in the future.

The issue of Hoffman being a henchman is more problematic. Hoffman marrying someone is logical, but Miranda would be the logical person. That instance with John playing Miranda as the main character and Hoffman as the 'henchman' makes sense.

If John were to start playing a new character as the Priestess.... why would Hoffman be involved in that at all? That throws away all the hard work you did developing him as a character over the years and treats him like a cardboard cutout caricature. I think John needs to decide will he play Hoffman and take charge of this area for Branwyn as part of his rebuilding his strength/reputation/levels or to move onto a different new character.

8/3 John

So then that whole idea does not work if it solves no issues. Plus if Branwyn rewards Hoffman for killing Witherbane by knighting him, it only makes maters worse.

What happens if Hoffman goes to Quellcon to face the music, I take on Uncle Foto who takes a knee and runs the area around and under Skull Church without disturbing the church but keeping it from being developed or being occupied in general.

8-4 BOB


I want to be clear. I am not trying to say you cannot do what you want. I am only presenting the situation for each of the scenarios that are being suggested. The Players as always make up their mind on what they want to do and then we continue with those decisions.

There is no possible solution to this current situation that brings everyone back to the plans that the group had at the beginning of Third Time is Tradition. TMO retired his character, Mario dropped out from regular play, Fritz and Mike both reappeared and then dropped out again. TMO's new character lost levels, one of his old follower's lost levels, etc. John had one character die, another get severely reduced in power. It changes the dynamic of the group overall in many ways.

The key points of the current situation are many but the highlights are:

  • You killed the daughter of a nobleman
  • You killed the nobleman
  • That nobleman killed the husband of the head of your Estate
  • You successfully cleared out Skull Church of the current threat (for a third time)

What you are trying to solve:

  • Stop from having BOB create a Fourth Time is Foolish story arc
  • Create a safe space in the northwest corner of the Craniate Wastes
  • Use the group's resources and strengths to turn the Wastes into success for the Queen rather than a problem
  • Goblins
  • Have fun adventures that everyone can participate in

For John's point of knighting Hoffman does not solve anything I disagree. It shows to the Players that everyone values John's contributions and it shows Branwyn's valuing Hoffman's loyalty over the years. If Lisa wants to take on the challenge to say that Hoffman is valuable to the team and she will defend his actions when she goes to visit Quellcon I think that is a nice story.

For John to decide to continue to play Hoffman and claim Skull Church, take on a new henchman as Foto goes to establish is new life and work with Branwyn to make this corner of the Wastes what the group envisions is a nice story arc. Who knows in the end Hoffman regains all his levels and Branwyn ceeds the lands to him for his own Estates.

Or John could play Foto, claim Skull Church, build the area up, send a new loyal henchman along with the group on other adventures, etc.

Or John could create a new character entirely to play and explore.

The options are almost endless, it just entirely depends on how you want to tackle the challenges. That is why this is a story arc unto itself.

8/4/20 Lisa

I always looked at this as Branwyn dealing with the political issues and Hoffman handling the religious ones. I think Bob and I have just been warning you that if you were to completely dismantle the church that there would be a huge reaction that you would need to be prepared for Ė and if it was Dragon Fen land, yes, Branwyn would need to step in at some point most likely.

How I was offering my solution seemed to me to be the easiest way for this to go down. The idea of knighting Hoffman had nothing to do with him killing Black Cloak. I know that you donít want Hoffman to do pledge loyalty etc., but I thought he might if it would mean he could take Skull Church at a higher status (especially given the level drain). It would up his social status and fame factor (Indigo as an example) and make his negotiations with anyone better received from the start. It was never a thought of controlling your characters as much as my thought as to how could I help to make this go as peacefully and easily as possible.

But talking with you last night and thinking about it later drilled down that you really donít want anything to do with Dragon Fen and going this route is making you feel like I am pushing your characters into something you really, really donít want. I donít want to push you into something thatís going to make you unhappy and/or resentful since how this goes forward will have such long after effects. Even though I do think there are easier solutions in this political system of Drillian than what you want to do, itís not my characters playing it, so giving my advice and two cents should be all there is to it. Iím sorry if I have been pushing too hard.

So, how about you let Branwyn handle the killing of Black Cloak as a completely separate issue. Then you take Skull Church on your own and if you want the Suomi priestess to hold it with you or however you want to make it yours is how it goes down. I will back off. I want you to be happy with this.

8/4 John

I appreciate the effort to help get what I want, though what I want was based on also trying to do what works best for the campaign. Keeping Skull church in our hands is paramount as that is what we sacrificed for accomplishing. I have come to terms with Hoffman bend a knee but it does not solve the issue of characters I want to have available to play which is why I was working the Suomi angle. The story / plan I like most is Ilero casually getting word to the Suomi church that DragonSlayers were heading to Skull Church to eliminate the threat, they send someone looking to prove themselves but just to take care of the church with authority to make a deal with the locals for support / protection. This would be my new primary character. Hoffman takes the knee (TO BRANWYN) and agrees to manage the area as part of DragonFen and at some point becomes a henchman to the new character. If this is close to being acceptable, we can work on the details.

8/4 Carissa

I don't really have any suggestions, but I will toss out that, from a player/reader standpoint, it'll be a tricky story to weave. I'd hate for you to end up tossing out any Hoffman/Miranda relationship at this point, especially with the work you've put into it, on site and off site. I think I do slightly agree with Bob's point that right now, with only the pitch and not the story, it does make Hoffman sound less like a character and more like a simple pawn. I know there is the feeling of pressure to get this sorted out and so soon, but we don't have to do it by forcing him to become something he isn't simply because game mechanics.

With your updated plan, I'm curious what would motivate him taking a knee for this mysterious priestess, but not Branwyn (Clarified, but need to think on it for other questions). I'm also curious where Miranda is right now that she cannot be your new character. If it's solely linked to Shi's return, toss it and bring Miranda back without worry where Shi is (which, yeah we still need to calculate that, Bob). Would the priestess and Hoffman need to marry? Would that mean Miranda leaves forever or will Hoffman have a mistress (and is that acceptable)?

I'm not saying it won't work, or that you can't make it work. I'm only pointing out my concerns and questions as someone who has read your stories and seen how you've played your character for the past few years. This could be a very interesting spin to the story. Or it could something that needs to be thought out more.

And for my next question: are we still not considering trying to restore levels? We're on a time crunch, sure, but couldn't that fix a whole ton of these new problems if we can get Hoffman back to or close to his normal level? Sure, that'll bring on another DIFFERENT set of problems depending on payment, but I'm wondering if that's completely off the table now. The gnomes may be a good starting place to ask as they seem to know everything or maybe have one of their own who can restore (and then they use that to get out of paying taxes to Branwyn or something).

8/5/20 Lisa

I think there is some time to keep mulling this over. Don't think an answer needs to happen immediately. Hoffman needs to stay asleep until 10 am tomorrow game time. So that means a full day and night of game time. I'm guessing we won't be there until the Friday after this one. Lots of time!

8/5/20 John

Yes Lisa, I think that helped take the pressure off and with some off line help it was made clear I can choose either Hoffman, Foto or a new character, no way to keep more than one. Also had help remembering my goal is to run the character until the story is done. As long as I have free will, I will run Hoffman until his story comes to an end. Thank you for the effort.

8-9 BOB

All the XP are added into to all the characters now except for the Completing the Story arc bonus. From a meta-game point of view Hoffman will not quite make it to 6th level at the end of Third Time is Tradition based on that XP alone. He should be there shortly into this story arc.

I do think that it would be interesting for John to play Hoffman, take on a new Suomi priest that helps him run the church, perhaps also take on Groduk the gnome as a henchman (making it his max of 4) and having the three characters to play in any of several story arcs

still continuing discussions on who will be the character responsible for governing the Skull Church Environs.

Preliminary Discussions

8-9 BOB

To start this story arc I do want to get a good feel for what the group can/wants to accomplish as the starting point.

Things done prior to this story arc

  • Skull Church cleaned out of undead, crypts explored, rooms explored, etc.
  • Moat threats solved
  • Griffon threat solved

Things to do in this story arc

BOB's ideas


  • Goblins
  • Establish a residence for the new caretaker
  • Establish how Skull Church will fit into this rebuilt/reclaimed area
  • Rebuild nearby village on Farmers Turn


9/20/2020 John

Four goals from Bob

1)WHO IS IN CHARGE: While there is still a great deal of details to work out, I still have to goal of Hoffman to be "in charge' of Skull Church, but nothing happens in a vacuum and I think most still has to be in character

2)MOAT: I expect fire will be used to get rid of the contents of the moat, then using construction rules to fill it in

3)DEVELOPMENT: Depending on details on item one, I do not expect any big development. Without followers there is very little need short term

4)GOBLINS: In order to eliminate the goblins is spend a lot of game time taking out the lair. I expect to have some sort of truce or understanding short term until we confirm the safety of Branwyn's kids and the location of the roaming hoard. Of course peace may only come after some combat

9/20 Lisa

1) WHO IS IN CHARGE: As long as John wants it, he has it

2) MOAT: I keep saying OOC we need to add flammables that the moat will not eat and set it on fire that way, but have not been able to get Pete IC to ask him to get barrels of oil. He has been buying supplies for the church before, he can get this anywhere it would be fastest, we pay and then as part of development we figure out how we will be taking care of the needs of the new area going forward. Anyone can start a fire and no one needs Branwyn for that. She can leave next week to go home.

3) DEVELOPMENT: I think preliminary plans at the very least have to be made by John. Just because Hoffman cannot attract followers doesnít mean he sleeps in a tent by himself and does nothing with the area. Hoffman will need a place to live. He will need to think about farms, trading posts, whatever. Or will he be wanting Dragon Fen to deliver food and supplies to him? Brings it to the idea of how independent does John/Hoffman want this area to be.

Branwyn made an agreement with Quellcon that we get all the land south of the Hastilton Hill battlefield in exchange for us purchasing iron ore. Does Hoffman want to make use of this ore to help benefit his new area? Does he consider this Branwynís interference and itís her problem?

Farmers Turn, the main road through that area, has problems. Does John just want Skull Church and the outlying areas are not his problem? I need to hear more from John as to what his goals are. Just because Hoffman is not 9th level anymore doesnít mean he canít work on creating a viable estate. If John doesnít want to direct this kind of stuff, do we have volunteers for investigating the haunted villages? Stake out bandits, etc?

4) GOBLINS: Again, a John thing. I already reminded the group we have a ďDeath Head horn set with gems - Goblin horn Ė 200 gpĒ at home that could be used with the goblins. Someone can bring that back to Skull Church to give to Hoffman. Does John want a team to work on the goblin issues? If so, who does he want to work with?

I think the problem BOB is having is that so much so far is very vague and he is looking for concrete answers. I donít want to be the one giving those concrete answers.

9/21 Lisa

Comment on my IC post. This is what happens when you go IC on discussion items that should probably have been hashed out OOC. Lisaís response would have been a lot more of a discussion than what happens when a character works on hurting Branwyn Ė there you get a Branwyn response and not a Lisa response.

Iím not sure why this whole thing is so difficult. John, you have said repeatedly that you wanted Skull Church and you wanted to build a place of your own. Here it is. I think it is silly to only take the church area and not do anything else. Bob is giving us a huge area to develop and it is NOT a Branwyn thing unless you make it one. If this isnít decided by the end of Friday it is taken away. So why in the world is anyone hesitating to grab this? Take it. I donít know how many times I have to say that I donít want it and I donít want my characters to have it. Whether anyone wants to believe me or not, the Dragon Fen thing was in name and to provide political cover only. I barely built out Dragon Fen Ė why would anyone think all of a sudden I want to take a serious interest in building a new estate???

The people that know me know that taking 5 hours on Friday for planning and decision making will be torture. I will most likely not be in game on Friday except maybe to login at the end and see what the status is. The only input from me is going to happen here on the site.

9/21 John

I am trying not to give up as it is nearly impossible to handle this as a part time player. With all the denials of plans I have tried to find a compromise, I want to roleplay it out, step by step. I do not want to snap and click off weeks or months unless everyone is doing something. I swore I made it clear out of character but may have been lost in all the plans there is no reason to build up the area as there is not going to be a influx of people to this area, by design. This is going to be an outpost not a town or dukedom for a long time, unless another player wants their character to do that and just let me handle it with Hoffman in a similar position.

9/21 Lisa

John Ė I canít do this IC anymore until we are both on the same page. Otherwise Branwyn is just going to smack Hoffman upside the head with a 25 lb spell book.

People other than John Ė Please weigh in here. Because this is not supposed to be a Lisa-Branwyn project, anyone who is not helping is leaving John stranded.

We have to be looking at this from the same standpoint to move forward. John, I think there are things you and I are misunderstanding.

You said IC: ďbut at this point they think you are supporting them. Let's just agree to fix the church based on your agreement, the moat and the house. They can feed me like they fed Black Cloak. There is no need to develop any more right away. Quellcon and the church and hopefully everyone will believe this is all under your protection and I will be here and allow them to believe I am doing this all for you.Ē

1. After the level drain, I thought we had decided it would be easier to run this place under Dragon Fen until Hoffman levelled up and made something of the place so he could take his accomplishments to the Queen and get the land approved by her for himself. It seems now that I was mistaken and you do not want to run Skull Church under Dragon Fen under any circumstance.

I was serious IC about not wanting you to do this under duress. I donít want you to do this under Dragon Fen with the feeling that Bob or I or both of us ďmadeĒ you do this and we took away your opportunity to run your own place. If there is a level of resentment there, this will ruin what could be a fun set of adventures for a new area of land. I get the feeling that you think I secretly want this area. That Iím dying to get my hands in there and control everything. I donít. I want you to do whatever is going to make you happy.

I donít see how you can have it both ways. You are either in or youíre out of Dragon Fen. From what I am reading from the tone of your posts, I donít see how you could possibly be happy doing this under a scenario you find so unpalatable, and so my vote is that you take the land for yourself, build it however you want and try to hold it. The sighs of resignation to the horrible fate that is Branwyn both in and out of character are not helping.

2. ĎTheyí meaning Pete and Ulgin? Branwyn doesnít have an agreement with them. Again, after the level drain I thought we were working from the place where you take it under Dragon Fen. So when we announce Black Cloak is dead, yes the head of Dragon Fen walks up and tells them they take orders from us now. It is not an agreement. I turned decisions over to Hoffman. Branwyn never agreed to fix up the church according to Black Cloakís wishes. And frankly, she probably wouldnít, but it is not her choice to make if you want the church.

If you want this outside of Dragon Fen, all we need to do is tell them. We have no binding agreement with an architect and a 5-6th level priest. If you decide to continue renovations on Skull Church, that will be entirely your decision and have nothing to do with Lisa, Branwyn or Dragon Fen Ė we need to be very clear on that.

3. They fed Black cloak because he was their patron. It wasn’t a donation. And they brought the basket when we returned because they thought we were the new patron.

4. I am not and I donít think anyone has said to build it up like we did for Dragon Fen right now. But there are things anyone who wants to claim this place should be doing. If the area around Skull Church is not generating income, it is a drain on our resources Ė all our resources. Development can mean Ė do we see if we can explore the fishing villages, can we fix the Farmers Turn road to encourage trade, how can we deal with safety in the area. Can we do our own mining or metal processing. Development doesnít necessarily mean we need 100 farms to attract people to live, etc.

Development brings us back to point 1 as well though. John Ė if you want this land to be Dragon Fen land, but will not do any work other than renovating the church and building yourself a house, then Branwyn will have to get people in there to do something with this area.

And again, I just donít understand Ė I thought this is what you wanted. To do this. Not that you have to do it all yourself, but you directing it. You telling Talwin for example to handle project X, getting Skarp and Brother Foto to scope out mining possibilities or to make agreements with the gnome villages with a portion of the group. Itís not development as in estate building yet, but it is development in story arc building and making this place possible to build an estate on. You are so pissed off at me I think you are losing sight of what is there for you and what I am desperately trying to get out of the way so you can do. But if I am misunderstanding what you wanted, that all you wanted was a house of your own away from Branwyn, then we need to pick another character to take this area. Because I think it could be a lot of fun.

9/22 John

Clearly I am the problem so I will remove myself from the equation. It's like Bob all over again. I said I want to do it in character, NO has to be out of character. I say in and out of character that there is no reason to develop now and I get No, we have to develop it. Even after I said I was close to quitting. Well that was the last straw. I know a lot is because I am not there and cannot be there as much as you but that will not change so my only option is to not play. You all can decide how Hoffman should be played and by who because the last thing I have time for is a fight every time I get on this site. So sorry I cannot make you happy.

9/22 Lisa

John, don't be such a baby. I said I didn't want to go IC until I understood you. When you had said no big development I thought you meant you would at least be interested in dealing with some issues - which is why I didn't want to respond IC and misunderstand you. So now I get it and you can have what you want. And you get Friday to discuss it all without me. So why quit?

BOB's diatribe about this situation on a different page. That way the rest of this thread can be about how to actually start this story arc.

From TMO 9/22

1 As an NPC, is Hoffman still eligible to lead Skull Church? I think that's still the ideal situation, but not sure how not being an active PC affects the situation, if at all.

Being an NPC versus PC is more a matter of motivation. How motivated with the NPC be to go through the work of maintaining the area? That is what happened the previous time. A former PC turned NPC took over and a few months later went to go adventuring again...... Plus Hoffman made it clear he does not have any intention of doing even enough to maintain it for his own survival.

2 In order to help, Brer can be recruited. He can't do it permanently, of course, but the group can certainly ask, and negotiate for his aid. He hasn't finished with Dragon Fen yet. And I can think of several ways he's qualified to help out.

Exactly the best strategy moving forward I think. There will be an active person who wants to make positive change. Brer can also work with Branwyn on who should take over the space.

3 What about recruiting NPCs from Dragon Fen to help administer Skull Church? We just did an adventure of 0 level grunts becoming 1st level. I know Dragon Fen doesn't have a limitless pool of NPCs to pick from, but there might be some administration folks who'd be interested in helping.

Yes to other Dragon Fen residents being able to help out. They are good second/third line people can help build the area up. But to control the area needs a high level Suomi inclined or non-religious person.

4 I would suggest hiring a squad of mercenaries to guard the place. Anybody happen to have any mercenary contacts? *cough*branwyn*cough*talwin*cough*

Yes that works. There are the issues of pay and food. The group has money and can afford to hire a group for a while. But the same restrictions on how many farmers, etc. exist. That is why mercenaries move around. They get paid, they take what they can from the local populace and then move on to the next assignment. Keeping them here will require the same provisioning that everyone else needs. You currently have 11 open slots from what Dragon Fen produces. Those 11 slots can cover Pete, Baron Ulgin, apprentices and acolytes and mercenaries. Of course the food and supplies still needs to travel across the open land from Travelers Way to Skull Church where there are no roads, etc. Or the longer way around from Dragon Fen through Jistille, Redfern Lake, up Farmers Turn, etc.

9/23 Lisa

In case people are thinking Ė great, now we are down 3 fighters and 2 mages Ö Just because my characters will be at home working doesnít mean the group canít call them up for specific tasks if you want them. I just didnít want my characters leading anything for a while. What with setting up Dragon Fen, Count Drake, Tiberius getting his head cut off follow-up adventure and the Skull Church thing, I want to pull Branwyn back for a bit.

So if you want to raid the goblin camp with the wyvern for instance, you can ask Indigo and/or Tiberius to show up and swing a sword. Or if an appearance by the Saint or a mage with a fireball is needed, of course Branwyn would be there to assist. It would be more of telling them what to do.

Remember that we have access to Party Pack and Home Base assets. Emerald speaks Goblin. There are gnome villages that could be recruited as allies and Uncle Foto is a friendly gnome NPC now. And I am available for ideas/help if wanted.

Reading Bobís page last night Ė I kind of like the idea of Skarp and Snee taking it over together with Brer helping. I know Snee is a priest of a different religion but thatís why she works with Skarp. Anyway, just my gut reaction.

9/24 Carissa

Prefacing this by saying normally I'd put a little more thought into this before posting, but I want to post before Friday. I'm sleep-deprived, have a migraine, and am dealing with some strong emotions (personal, will be fine in a day or two) so please don't misconstrue my tone. Blame the mentioned above. Also apologies for not being much involved the last few sessions. Family took precedent. So does finishing story, but even that got pushed aside for sake of family. Most I could do was read the site. Fingers crossed all gets wrapped up soon so game gets full attention again. I'll am expecting to be more involved again Friday, hopefully.

1. I fully agree with the idea of Skarp/Snee taking over. I recalled Snee being interested before, but did ask about how that'd work. Due to the religious conflicts, it can't be Snee alone. If Ryan is up for it, I think we should work with that angle.

That said, we should also pull in Ilero. Work a deal with him. Have someone else equally interested in keeping the place clean, keep an eye on it, be invested in preventing another take over. If only in fairness, I'd like to give Ryan the opportunity first, though, since TMO has his guild already to shape as he wants. I think we could easily find a way for Skarp to jump in and take over, especially as his brothers fell here. He has personal investment to work it out IC.

2. In regards to that, in my mind, taking over means whoever is in charge gets more say in how things are done BUT that doesn't mean it's just them. Just like Dragon Fen. Sure, it's land given to Branwyn, but it's an area we're all interacting with so everyone gets a say somewhere. That's why everyone's thoughts and opinions matter. It's also less daunting, perhaps, to take it over if it's not all your opinions only which could be good or bad.

Everyone is different. I'm glad not to be in a position to have a character who could take over because this stuff interests me less and isn't my strength. I prefer my forest. But if there's somewhere I have thoughts or opinions, I'll give them. Whoever takes over can do what they want with them, but hopefully next time we return it's because we're still in control. So if whoever is in charge wants to flood the fields with lava, well, yeah, I might have opinions there if we're going to have to find a way to walk over it down the road.

3. As for the goblins, just remember that everyone and anyone can and should speak up. I'm not always good at this, but I believe (brain dead, someone can correct me) Emerald mentioned being able to speak Goblin back when we were in the catacombs. So with that knowledge, either someone can ask her her opinions on goblins (I'd imagine someone who can speak it knows at least something about goblin culture to work off) OR Emerald brings it up again. Don't assume someone else will. I've done that, too. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes you just need to be assertive. Sometimes (a lot of the time?) we don't like making decisions so you have to make it. You need to tell us if you want to go talk to the goblins.

My vote will always be diplomatic route, first. It'll of course depend on if Lara is in on Friday, but if not, perhaps we can find a way to get that going on site IF we do it within a day or two to wrap that part up. We do have a priest with tongues, I believe, so we can possibly get something going. But we don't need to drag it out anymore. Kill them all instead if it gets to that point. Find something new to help guard the church. Something.

4. I hate the moat. I haven't had any better idea than the one already pitched: pour in oil and let it burn. Maybe be ready to put out any fire that might jump to the church.

5. Since things have changed, I'm also going back to saying let the churchgoers take that muck pool out, too. If they're so guillable as to believe Branwyn is a saint (no offense), then work on that. Tell them she blessed the muck with her footsteps, but can only do so once and so will not walk through it and into the church again. Or something of that angle. Can't be too hard to trick them into removing it/taking it home, right?

That should be good enough until tomorrow. In my mind, moat is a big one because we've been wanting it gone for how many sessions now? Anyone else have ideas there?? We have options now for taking over the church. Get Brer to help, have Ryan and Spring take it over, and/or drag Ilero into this mess.

Please let's do everything we can not to make a fourth trip to clean it out. I wasn't here for the first two trips, but I don't know if I will be here if a fourth one comes up.

Edit: Last minute idea to at least get rid of the muck pool. If we're there when the church people are there, we can do a "trick" to show them that the water is blessed if needed. Just get Thistle (or whoever else) to grab some, bottle it, then cantrip it to glow or something. See? Holy. Okay now I'm going to sleep.

9/25 Ryan

Some quick thoughts since I am still at work. I will try to edit this as I have more time.

Oh boy, yeah, Skarphedin has a lot of feelings about this place.

In a perfect world, Skarphedin would have this entire place scoured. On an emotional level, he sees the worshipers and the Suomi religion as a whole as culpable in the deaths of his friends, and would want them to be punished. He wants nothing to do with them, and would prefer that the Skull Church be destroyed, or a diffrent surface religion be installed. Then, having stuck around long enough to make sure that the Skull Church isn't going to become connected to any necromancy-practicing groups, he would then wash his hands of the whole mess and wander off.

In this world, Skarphedin recognizes that none of this is possible. While Skarphedin wants revenge, he doesn't want it at the expense of additional lives being lost, nor does he want to create issues for his benefactress. If that means that the Suomi worshipers remain, fine, but anyone who was directly involved in the dwarficide should be punished according to their involvement. If Skarphedin also needs to stick around to make sure that this sort of thing doesn't happen again, then that is.... less fine, but he will do it.

But Skarphedin doesn't particularly want to engage with the worshipers that are going to frequent the Skull Church, which would be necessary were he to take over the area. He doesn't particularly want to STAY in the area, either, given that being there is going to remind him of his dead friends and the fact that it was under his leadership that they were all killed.

Having said that, Skarphedin is also willing to stick around for a bit to help rennovate, albeit not on a permanent basis. Keeping things the same would be an insult to him and to the memory of his friends. Any changes would be preferred to none, and changes that are more group/Dragon Fens friendly would be even better. Clearing out the moat? Great! Driving off the goblins? Awesome! He would be all for helping with all of these activities, so long as he can eventually hand off the site to someone else and never, EVER see it again.

9/25 Lisa

Ryan - You bring up some great points I had forgotten. We don't know for sure what happened with the dwarves, meaning who did it exactly and why, etc. We found the bones at the trip before the decapitation and feels like a million years ago. Black Cloak "had" a dwarf said Pete so that is also very much worth probing deeper as we go. You should have a compatriot out there somewhere.

9/25 TMO

There is also a dwarf in the Tieran Guild, so Skarp can have *some* companionship while he's there.

9/25 Lisa

A couple things that popped in my head as formatting chat.

When you deal with goblins the first time, remember we have that scroll in the Party Pack that gave the name of the one Black Cloak dealt with -- Gagilkop

Also -- TMO sorry I missed you saying about talking to the Dragonslayers. It can go anyway you think would fit better. Ilero, as a scout, may have connections and ways of getting the word out faster than Branwyn through normal channels. However you think best we can do.

9-26 BOB

A new portion of the Craniate Wastes will be established. The working title is Governor of the Northwest Wastes, a protectorate of Dragon Fen. This area is approximately a 2 mile radius centered on Skull Church. That covers the area from the border with the Quellcon Estates down along Farmers Turn to the general area of one of the battle sites from the Second Drillian Civil War (-89 SKR). The Governor for this area will live in the village of Hourglass, currently a haunted burned village along Farmers Turn.

Characters most closely involved in this area:

  • Snee - Governor
    • Will also create a small Kayugan shrine in town
    • Answers to Branwyn for the protectorate
  • Brer - Overseer of Skull Church
    • Providing a guiding hand to ensure the church remains clean of undead
    • Baron Ulgin will be the priest in charge of the church
    • Intends to stay a few months to ensure progress then will leave
  • Skarp - Territorial administration
    • Will work on finding natural resources the area can develop
    • Work on finding long term solutions to the Goblin problem
    • Intends to stay 'a short time' and then continue on with his adventures
  • Talwin, Knight of Dragon Fen - Steward
    • Will work with Pete on construction projects
      • First step is removing the moat
      • The Church renovations
      • Rebuilding the village of Hourglass
      • Maintaining safety along Farmers Turn
      • Proposed new path to connect to Travelers Way
    • Work to coordinate with Snee and Branwyn

Of course everyone will be helping. Emerald with the goblins and other projects. Thistle and eventually Shi will be there to help and the rest of the group.

We will be having adventures here to deal with this start up. There are still lots of other things to explore as well.

First Tasks

  • Build wooden walkway across pool of muck to allow a choice upon entering the church
    • To be replaced with a stone walkway soon
  • Breach the moat and begin refilling
    • still to be determined fire on the black puddings
    • This is a MATH problem of how many fireballs, flaming orbs, barrels of oil, etc. you will cast/need to eliminate the puddings and how much time that will take
  • Organize first visit to the Goblins

Costs for first round of construction: 1 medium stone building for shrine, 1 medium wooden building for Governor's residence, 1 medium wooden building and 1 small wooden building for the Administrator's residence with stable = Cost:3,746 GP Time:387 man weeks

Construction group: Thistle 6 + Brer 6 + Talwin 8 + Skarp 7 + Sundown 3 + Tiberius 9 + Johan 16 + Emerald 27 + Snee 32 + Kenna 43 = 157 man weeks

Secondary construction plan of building a 13 mile 10 foot wide path from Skull Church to Travelers Way: Cost: 32,175 Time: 6,435 man weeks

The Moat Talwin succeeded in his check on how to fill in the moat. He determined to start near the entrance, and has a plan to fill in and repair the first 100 feet of space across the front of the moat. Cost=300 GP, Time=31 man weeks

Church Renovations Talwin failed his check to build the wooden walkway. It will depend on Pete or someone to build it properly. It was determined to rebuild the farmhouse and stable for Talwin's residence as administrator with two wooden buildings Administrator's residence - Medium wood building 80x20 (800 square feet), wood floor and roof, interior 1 10 foot wood wall and 1 20 foot wood wall - Cost:451 Time:90 man weeks Stables - small wood building 20x20 (400 square feet), wood roof, dirt floor, interior 8 10 foot wood walls - Cost:144 Time:29 man weeks


Hourglass It was determined to build a stone building for the new Shrine and a wooden building for Snee as the Governor's residence. Shrine - Medium Stone building 80x20 (800 square feet), wood floor and roof, interior 1 10 foot stone wall and 1 20 foot stone wall - Cost:2,733 Time:178 man weeks Governors residence - Medium wood building 80x20 (800 square feet), wood floor and roof, interior 1 10 foot wood wall and 1 20 foot wood wall - Cost:451 Time:90 man weeks

On the Making of Money

Bob has asked me to consider ways in which the area can generate income, consider taxes, etc. For everyone involved, I am hesitant to touch the idea of a Pilgrimage, ahem, donation/tax. The reason being, is that while Talwin is religious, this isn't his area of expertise. I just want everyone to take a view at who he is. I know he now a knight and everything that entails, but he had a difficult life early on, and fell in with different mercenary groups in the warring city-states, where people live in literal chaos as war attrition eats away and mercenary companies suck the coffers of each state dry, since they are the only ones left who can fight because the only people left are needed for keeping the struggling infrastructure of the warring city-states from completely collapsing.

Thus, understand that while he wants to live up to Bran's and all of your expectations, he's something of a serious dragon in spirit. Money is precious and he lives by the idea that people who say money cannot buy happiness clearly never starved for days at a time when they had none. If he could hoard wealth, he would do it. He's more honorable than the common cut-throat sure, but he is always going to be a talented swordsman and mercenary at heart. He's going to be tempered by the expectations of the group because he's really been through hell and back with them, but that is where I'm coming from. Him running anything on large scales such as this is overwhelming, so he will inevitably be thinking of ways the City-States generated money because that's primarily what he knows.

This is OOC, so I'm happy to chip in, but Talwin realizes that war is terrible, but if you have an eye for business, the right industries can be quite profitable.

Here are the things that Talwin (and I) believe would be a legitimate set of ways to make money.

First, there is an iron mine. Unrefined Iron is cheap. Refined Iron is worth more. Finished goods, are worth even more. So, why not begin taking a look at the competition and figuring out ways to be profitable. If there is a need for swords to churn out to militias, start making swords and make them good. BOB - to clarify the current iron mine belongs to Quellcon, you are hoping to start your own mine somewhere close by very soon.

Iron Mines can produce the following types of goods:

  • Pig Iron
  • Cutlery
  • Weapons
  • Building Supports
  • Charms
  • Idols
  • Simple Jewelry before Gem Insertion
  • Ingots, etc.

To do anything worthwhile will require a smelter and easy access to somewhat skilled labor. Taxation on business is fine, as long as the business are profitable. But to make money on taxes, we have to have businesses that attract talented individuals and retain their skills for the good of the income stream.

What else is profitable in War-Time? What are the few things people are willing to part ways for their hard earned money? Until the area begins to actually attract wealthy patrons, we must start small. Having the most expensive stained glass windows might be all well and good, but you have to think small first. Right?

  • Inns
  • Herbalists
  • Healers
  • Alcohol/Distilleries
  • Food (Hard to grow here)
  • Gambling
  • Other...Vices
    • (Black markets)
  • Religious Trinkets
  • Simple Jewelry
  • Fighting Arena's
  • Competitions

The issue with the more extreme Vice-Areas, is that Talwin really knows these areas would make money, but he has grown to like Brer quite a bit, despite their ideological differences. He's disagreed with many people in the past, but business is business and blood spilled together means a lot to him. Thus, he'll likely complain in great detail to Brer about being a stick in the mud, but there won't be any real heat in his words, more of a slight teasing on his part to get a small rise out of Brer.

Gray areas such as Fighting Arena's or other competitions is a bit more tricky, but the fact is that people need a way to blow off steam. Why not do it in a controlled environment and as a way to give simple lessons in those interested in learning how to protect themselves. Sparta had the right idea in a lot of ways. Why not help people protect themselves. For the competitions there could be a small entry fee, and a percentage would be paid to the estate.

Inns, and small hostels, will be critical to handle any significant influx of pilgrims or travelers. If known religious dates are set, why not plan out Inn rates for seasonal holidays, and set the open markets on those days, so that after a day of worship, before returning home, they can pick up a small iron trinket as a symbol of their pilgrimage. Furthermore, the iron will last far longer then other materials such as clay or wood and may be worth more if the person can only afford to come once in their lives to the Church.

I think primary expenses, honestly are going to be food. The area simply isn't good for growing food or processing of livestock's other than perhaps a few hardy breeds that bob probably knows about. Bob feel free to post any beasts that are hardy enough to survive in this environment, yet also provide food or trading material. As this is a swamp, I got nothing unless someone want's to go tame an alligator. As Bob lives near swamps, he knows what that's all about amiright??? Guys??? Anyone? Fine.

Anyways the area will have to be sufficient enough to generate enough tradeable goods to procure food stores, while also generating a profit enough to expand operations and send money back towards Dragon's Fen. We'll need to pay back the initial line of Credit offered from Branwyn. Even if she meant to simply give it to us without expecting payment back, I would imagine it would look poorly on her if her investments didn't pay off. People may consider her a credit risk, or financially unsound. Not that it's the case, but perception doesn't always match the truth.

So in order of what I (think) would be acceptable given Brer's moral code, and all the other Cultural considerations.

  • 1. Finish reconstruction efforts of the Church since it will initially be providing an influx of people/income.
  • 2. Safe place to stay and recuperate. This would be Inns, cheap hostels, etc. People may even wish to allow people to sleep in their stables for a few small coins.
  • 3. Smelter/Iron Operations. This is for tradeable goods, food stores, and to generate a small trickle of potential income from Pilgrims.
  • 4. Way of Entertaining the local populace and keeping them happy. More happy people, means more people, and thus more taxes.
  • 5. Evaluate ways to generate additional income. More mining operations, More Complex smelting operations, etc.

These are things that I think should be focused on for short-term. My hope is that a portion of any pilgrimage tithe will go to the church for reconstruction/attracting more people, and growing the nearby area/settlements. We can discuss longer-term goals later, but for now, I think the short-term goals are something I can work with for bob.

So, with lots of input, how would I go about doing step 1-3.

  • 1. Finish Church, and Administrative Areas. Governor's Residence.
  • 2. Break Ground on Hourglass and Livable Areas. A Hostel, and an Inn. Grander buildings can come later.
  • 2.5 A small holding building for crimes. More serious criminals must be remanded to Dragon's Fen? Up to the Governor. She can decide on this one.
  • 3. Expand Mining and Smelting Operations. Get the Mine Running by hiring necessary people. Same with Smelter. Need to start generating at least a small amount of income post-haste to get critical operations running.
  • 4. Procure necessary wagons and horses to being keeping the agreement with nearby estates. A shipment of ore will be required I do believe? Need to check on that. Anyways, will need them to transport goods between settlements and dragons fen. This might be a good opportunity to develop a transfer depot for Teamsters. Perhaps an opportunity for freelance teamsters to make a living and a source of taxation.
  • 4.5 A small barracks to house a tiny contingent of men-at-arms and Teamster guards?
  • 5. Add a small infirmary, healing building near the church perhaps?
  • 6. A small banking building to handle small amounts of treasury funds. I'm hoping that a better option would be lines of credit backed by Dragon's Fen directly, to avoid making the building a constant threat of theft.

I believe this is a good start for basic infrastructure according to Talwin, based on critical and immediate/practical needs. Later we can add more elaborate money generators such as local distilleries, fancier inns, etc. I'd love to hear what the rest of you think are opportunities to make money. The more religious types might know more about how to keep balanced books. In fact, I would imagine that Bran would assign a local Sherriff or tax collector to help keep the books as a way to assist her Governor, while also keeping tidy financial records. I think the salary could be paid via Dragon's fen. The more people that can work here without perhaps being paid by this small extension, the better. It's because the taxation will be for Dragon's Fen. In this way, I think everyone wins.

  • Addendum 1. Bob has put the idea of Boar being somewhat able and hardy enough to survive, but he is checking on that. I don't know the customs of the land because this isn't medieval times and this is another world, but Boar hunting was reserved for the elite, but if we opened up small hunts to the Citizens, we could grant them single use licenses via a fee. A portion of the meat will go to the stores, and the rest will go to the lucky hunter who somehow managed not to die. This is getting into more complicated territory, but I'd classify this as Entertainment/Food. Furthermore, if a trained expert is used as a guide, perhaps it will help reduce the number of people who die due to death by Boar tusk.

10/18 Lisa

Great post, Michael, with lots of good thoughts!!

I just wanted to respond to the iron ore issue right now. I have been thinking about the iron ore situation since we agreed to buy it. I have been thinking like Michael, since we both know a bit about mining, about the smelter situation. When Bob said we got ore, he jumped the smelter and went to blacksmith. This would make me very happy if we could do that. Do we need an ore processing step between mine to blacksmith? -- To BOB

But besides that, I have been thinking about what to do with it. I was waiting to see if BOB was going to respond to my first IC post before moving forward on this, but if the wastes group wants to deal with it, below is a summary of what I was going to have Branwyn discuss with Nevin.

All the estates have blacksmiths and make weapons for their people. Iím not sure being arms dealers is the way to go here. I was thinking maybe using it to make craftsy kind of items. Yes, we will arm ourselves and make useful items, like farming and building equipment. But we can also dive into the cookware, flatware, and drinkware(?) industry. We can make some for the masses, plain pots, skillets, forks, knives, cups, etc. But it might be nice to have more expensive decorative items, like say oh, flatware decorated with dragons perhaps? I just think the arms market may be a limited one and after we just recovered from a civil war a few years ago, I certainly am not looking for any new wars.

10/19 TMO

A very good post. Yes, with the mine not being in our territory (yet), but committed to buying raw iron, processing it should be top of our list. I'm not sure if we have to smelt it first, or if it comes smelted.

One question I do have though, is how populated is this area? I've always gotten the impression that it's like North Dakota minus the cities. IE - completely empty. Nor do I know how much pilgrimage Skull Church might inspire. Yes, it's a Suomi holy place, but how many Suomi are nearby enough to consider pilgrimaging? Peasants don't pilgrimage. That's a middle-to-upper class thing.

10/21 Michael

Also very good points to you both. As for Lisa, if we can skip smelting into ingots, I'm all for that! Just used to thinking that way for obvious reasons lol. Hm. I do agree for the weapons issue. Perhaps a different approach is in order.

Also, bob responded above about the Mine. That is a good point and one I'd forgotten that we don't actually own that mine. However! If we are actually looking for a place to break ground on our own mine, I wonder if perhaps some exploratory measures would be useful? I say this, because while the methods for detecting precious ore might be very different then our world, perhaps while searching for an Iron Mine, we find a source of other potential ore. Aluminum, Copper, Silver, or even Gold. Since this area (unless I keep getting confused) is rocky, perhaps this means that Volcanic Activity used to be here, and thus we may even finds veins of Obsidian glass, or Even Diamonds or other gemstones.

All i'm saying is, it can't hurt to look for other ores while we scout out potential locations for our own Mine if we decide to go that route.

The issues with the area in regards to food and money, simply demand creative solutions towards income. I'd imagine this is tourism, cultural recognition(tourism), manufacturing and refining goods, etc. I love Lisa's idea of creative goods such as plates, etc. I do agree that perhaps arms racing is not the way to go here considering a civil war wrapping up. Perhaps just enough to keep men-at-arms and other necessary groups armed.

Another consideration is that I'm really getting the vibes that in many ways, this is the frontier. (Bob clarification on that?) This is an area of hardship and adventure and danger. I can imagine teams of adventurers and mercenaries coming to earn their fortune. Registered mercenary companies can register for a company license to operate in the territory in exchange for perhaps some benefits such as discounted rates on goods/services in the area and Dragon's Fen, etc. More important is to TMO's point of the lack of people. We need to press hard for people to come see what the area can offer. It may not be good for food, crops, or safety. That is why we are attempting to find other ways to attract people. Thus, adventure, fighting the frontier, opening up inns/saloons, creating a sense of belonging and passion to the area will go a long way towards getting more people.

More Incentive->More People->More Money-> More Expansion.

Furthermore, any adventures or roving mercenary bands could be offered bounties on the smaller vermin of the land such as bandits and other nasties to keep them under control. It can benefit <i> US </i> too. We might hear of the more dreadful secrets found in the territory from their accounts and either solve a seriously dangerous problem, or go on adventurers of our own! A proactive and beneficial approach to problems on the land.

I love this discourse, so please chime in!

- Michael

10-21 BOB

Quick comments:

  • Smelting, Mining and there are Dwarven versions of each also. Sadly Skarp does not have either. However Carissa already has a Gnome that has Mining waiting to play.
  • Good to make the plans, I like a lot of this as story arcs moving forward, lots of ideas that can create a fun Estate details
  • Remember you need to feed these people
    • Dragon Fen has a few extra open slots to support some people but it takes a while to get things around to the Protectorate because of the lack of roads
    • Yes it is hard to grow things in the Protectorate, that is why the previous tenants shipped in food themselves
  • Metalworking will be a good skill to recruit to accomplish some of these things
    • Those craftspeople might want to be over in the main part of Dragon Fen however I am certain that Branwyn will recognize the effort it takes to recruit
  • Yes to the idea that Hourglass is a key part of the stories here, but I am planning it a bit more still so that will not be one of the first things to tackle
    • Yes to building the Governor's residence and shrine there before 'solving' the mystery of Hourglass

Now the more cautionary notes: This is sort of a wilderness but it is in the middle of Drillian so there are some good adventures to have here but recruiting someone into the place for that will not be very sucessful because the space is not that large. Recruiting Mercenaries will involve feeding them and keeping them interested in work or they will start to free lance. There is no housing here, no way of feeding people without more work on recruiting farmers, etc. so there is a limit to how many people you want to have here until then. I am only counting 2 people (Baron Ulgin and Pete) as people you are supporting until you roleplay out the details with the two of them.

Three very important things to concentrate on now:

  • Mining - a source of income and establish the Protectorate is able to help support Dragon Fen
  • The Moat - you cleared a 100 foot path in front of the church by filling it in. You did not handle any of the black puddings that way. Oh by the way in case you forgot they can climb walls.
  • Goblins

To also be very clear I am very happy with how this is going. After more than ten weeks of inaction and not knowing what was happening Spring, Michael and the group have leapfrogged forward into a slightly new direction and accomplished a LOT in only two sessions. This is a good thing.