Part 53: Act Two Chapter Eighteen - Tyrant Queen Of The Sword CoastThe results were overwhelming - we're going to rule Crossroad Keep with an iron fist. With an elite cadre of fanatical soldiers, we'll seize control of the High Road and bring terror to all who oppose us!
However, the Something Awful board of directors are also a bunch of weepy children, afraid to get their hands truly dirty. We've got to be nice to our subjects, especially our peasants. Bah.
That is what we wanted, right?
: Just don't take Nasher too seriously, Captain. That's exactly what he wants, but you can get carried away.
: That'll mostly just need gold, I guess. Just talk to Master Veedle for that.
: But I should really answer your question.
: And an honest sort of work - not really to my tastes.
Uncus speaks more truth than he knows. Being nice to your subjects is the best way to get the most out of them. Taxing the shit out of them at this early stage will discourage growth - but once we get rolling, there'll be nothing stopping us from raising taxes to the limit.
Unfortunately we won't be able to 'grow' the Keep until after we visit Arvahn. Peasants and merchants want high Land and Road Security; to get that, we need to send our Greycloaks on patrols. But our Greycloaks won't do much good equipped with smocks and pitchforks.
I mean, just look at this guy.
So we're keeping the Greycloaks training and garrisoning the Keep. Our land's a wasteland, anyway - skimping on the patrols won't change that.
: [Success] I'm - I'm really not the best to ask. My understanding is simple at best...
: But our patrols would stop the merchants - typically at bridges or at the Keep's gates and assess their wares. There is a schedule of fees based on what is being traded.
We do get some traffic, even with the road completely unpatrolled... enough to make this sales tax stick. This is free money - nobody notices, so merchant growth isn't discouraged and civility stays normal.
It's not a lot (about 1300 or so a time unit) but it's better than nothing.
* * *
We go out, recruit everyone to the Keep, as per last update.
We assign Katriona to training so we get her bonus on the Greycloaks' training.
We pay Edario and Jacoby to give the men basic weapons and armour.
We get Veedle started on repairing the Keep. We get our home finished first, then start on the more expensive roads and walls.
Uncus has a favour to ask of us.
: There's a couple real hard-nose sergeants in the 'Cloaks that make it difficult for me to maneuver. And there's some people that are closer to the shadow that could use a promotion.
: I'd like to do some "house cleaning." What do you think?
: Tell me about the implications.
: Depends on how much cleaning we do and what we use to do it. It could anger some of the men. Still, it would go a long way toward enforcing our "no questions asked" philosophy.
: Let's resolve this then.
Here's a secret: doing Uncus favours doesn't help you at all. All of these options will harm the Keep, reducing civility and morale (some more than others - we chose the nicest option), but there's no benefit for you either. It's a roleplaying decision, really.
A shame, because Uncus allows you to send some of your men out on 'collection duty' - beating up merchants for extra fines. The amount you get isn't related to the decisions you make for Uncus, though. In fact, the gold you get is calculated from unit strength and Road Security, so helping Uncus out too often will make it harder for you to make money out of the Keep.
We're not ready to send our Greycloaks 'tax-collecting', though. Perhaps in Act 3, when we get our war on.
Our first special event. This is Daerred and his motley band of adventurers.
This is the first time I've seen someone use clothing as a weapon.
: Right you are, Brother Maxil. So - do you have any work for us?
: I tried to turn them away.
There are two ways to handle Daerred - with honesty or trickery. A couple of people have requested we keep them alive, so we'll deal honestly with them (lying gets them killed ).
Daerred and his gang will pop up another two times yet, so if anyone really disagrees, there's still time to send them to an ignoble death.
: It's just a rumor - it could be nothing. Wait...!
: Make sure you have enough rations for the journey. And don't worry, we'll get to the bottom of this!
I miss being a low-level adventurer.
Anyway, Kana has our first special mission ready for us.
: I talked earlier today with a bandit we captured who let us know that Old Man Morris has upset one of the small bandit groups.
: The farmers led by Old Man Morris don't really trust the Keep yet - helping them out could win them over. I know the Greycloaks aren't fully trained and outfitted, but field experience could be invaluable.
: Take care of the mission.
We only have fifty Greycloaks, armed with basic weaponry and only somewhat trained. Let's hope it's enough.
Around about this time we run out of ore for our smiths to use. There are seven ore veins in the areas we've seen so far - enough to upgrade our Greycloaks' weapons and armour two levels. We can't upgrade any further for now.
Veedle's stonemasonry is becoming increasingly expensive. We spent about 65,000 on repairing the Keep and the courtyard, but the walls and roads need more than ten times that.
Inside, Kana has results from the Greycloaks special mission.
: Old Man Morris was deep in the hills, and the Greycloaks had some initial difficulty finding him. The report says he's a... colorful character.
: The men were forced to camp nearby after several warning bolts were fired. A few days of waiting and the bandits did indeed show up.
: With the training we gave the men, and weapons we provided, they defeated the bandits quickly.
There are three different possible results for the special missions: success, slight failure, complete failure. Success is obviously a good thing; slight failure may accomplish objectives at a cost or with casualties; complete failure is a total wash.
This is the success result, natch.
Uncus has another request for us.
: So we've been doing well - better than well, really. But our "associates" in the city don't trust us.
: They've sent spies - spies - to monitor what we're doing. Just give me the word and these guys are going to be in Kelemvor's care by nightfall.
: Who do they report to?
: Axle Devrie! He doesn't trust us - and he's had someone watching us.
Axle! That slippery bastard!
Again, multiple options of varying degrees of violence (with increasing penalties to Keep stats). The Intelligence option sounds like it would have the most benefit - but functionally it's exactly the same as telling Uncus to leave the spies alone, only he doesn't get upset at you.
The limp-wristed lily-livered board of directors also chose to spare Torio's life. None of you have the guts to do what needs to be done
Aside from this we don't have much opportunity to gloat. However we can ask Torio about Garius, Luskan and the Tome of Iltkazar - not that she tells us anything we don't already know.
And Kana brings us a letter from Daerred and Co.
To the Captain of Crossroad Keep,
It is my pleasure to report findings from our epic journey to Port Llast on your behalf.
In the Alliance Arms Inn, we encountered a shady fellow from Luskan by the name of Hurlingscar or Earlystar or... well I forget exactly. I tipped the local proprietor, one Faglar or Folger or... um, anyway I tipped him two copper to arrange a meeting with the Luskanite.
The man was reluctant to speak with us as first, but Maxil challenged him to a drinking contest, with the loser paying for all the drinks of the winner. After much valiant guzzling, Maxil only barely lost.
After Maxil rolled under the table, we had to pool all our remaining funds to pay for Sterlingshard's rather large tab. However, we learned one valuable piece of information. This Luskan fool let slip that he had a brother with some business in the south, and he waited in Port Llast for his brother's return! We were determined to learn more of this brother of his...
The next day, Juen suggested a different strategy for cracking this Luskan nut. She squeezed Candril into one of her more revealing dresses and brought her to see Girlingstar. Let me tell you, the man's jaw dropped, as did his eyes. Candril ushered him to a "private" table in the back of the Inn, where Juen waited, hiding under the table.
By masterful use of her feminine charms Candril learned, much to our shock, that Elfinstar's brother, named Kharlever or Crawlfur... anyway, we were shocked to learn that his brother's intended destination was none other than CROSSROAD KEEP!
Juen was so floored that she leapt to her feet, knocking over the table and dropping a candelabra, which started a small fire. Innkeeper Foglord rushed to put out the fire, but ended up burning off half of his moustache. I quickly uttered the first spell that came to mind, Ray of Frost. My quick thinking doused the fire before it could cause any serious harm, but I fear it gave Feargol some minor frostbite.
Despite my heroism, we were asked to leave the Inn immediately, which brought an end to our investigation. But beware, Captain, beware of Crawler Lurkingstar. Who knows what dark mission brings him to Crossroad Keep.
It is my hope that we have provided you with some valuable intelligence, and as soon as we can raise enough money to afford travel, we shall return to you for our next mission!
Daerred & Company
tl;dr in Daerred I see the death of a thousand DMs' campaigns
: Bandits are a plague upon the land - and the brother of one you've slain is out for revenge. You slew Jered Widowmaker just outside of Fort Locke.
Uh, did we? Obsidian forgot to tidy this line up.
: His half-brother, Doman the Ogre, has gathered a large band and has made his way to our lands. We hear he's afraid of you, but he still wants to hurt you.
We send the men to deal with his nuisance.
I hope it goes well, because things aren't looking too good elsewhere:
Eeee. We're all out of cash.
We had about 240k in liquid assets but repairing the Keep has burnt through all that. We have more, actually, but it's all tied up in physical assets - armour, weapons and magical items - and I'm not willing to sell those just yet.
Don't worry, we're about to pick up a lot of gold very soon, when we go trawling through the ruins of Arvahn.
Checking back in with Uncus.
: The spies watch every move you make, Captain. And I think they're looking for weak points about the Keep.
: Things like patrol schedules and routes, who has the keys to the gate, and other security type stuff. Reading between the lines, I think Axle is preparing to put you down if you make a play for power.
Oh great. Our Keep's a financial sinkhole and now Axle's plotting against us. What next?!
Oh fuck off Bishop
Most of the companions don't notice that you've become the Captain of Crossroad Keep.
Well, okay, they presumably do notice, but it doesn't change their dialogues at all. The two exceptions are Grobnar and Bishop - and Grobnar's changes because of something else entirely.
Bishop, however, is throwing a hissy fit because you're now one of the nobility.
A few soft words will reassure him, though (and gain Influence).
: Hmmm... maybe not. And a lordly sum's hard for any knight to ignore.
: Guess I've been let down enough to wonder sometimes - good to see you aren't one of those.
Alternatively you can try to use Diplomacy - if you have a score of 20 (!).
: [Diplomacy] Bishop, you knew me before I became master of Crossroad Keep - has it really changed me?
: [Failure] Yeah, I think so. I see that gleam you get in your eye whenever you look at that moldering shell of a keep.
: You treat me like one of your lackeys, you'll regret it - and gods help you if you try and order me around. I'm my own man, got it?
Or you can threaten him, which'll fail... unless Khelgar is around. Good to know there's someone in the party that Bishop's afraid of.
Okay, so if you're clever and been paying attention you'll realise we've had the Greycloaks training for several time units now. They actually hit 'Best' a while ago... so why keep them training?
This is what happens if you get your men to Best of the Best training - even better than Best training, and only possible with a sergeant.
: Katriona has a request for you.
: We have combed the countryside for those that have the potential to become the very best. We have found them.
: This squad represents the finest the Keep's Greycloaks have to offer. I ask you to accept them as the Captain's Company.
: Their unit will stand as an example for the rest. They will undertake the most dangerous missions and be the first into harm's way, and the last out.
: There may be a small - very small - sacrifice to our effectiveness of other units. But the gain in morale...
: You can't put a value on that.
Refusing to form the Captain's Company results in a substantial Morale loss.
Letting it be formed, however, increases Morale but decreases Unit Strength.
We also have a choice of goal for the Company. The Lawful and Good options are better for the Keep than the Chaotic and Evil ones.
I've never gotten this before (mainly because I stopped training my Greycloaks at Best) so this is pretty exciting for me as well! I can't wait to send my newly-formed elite company out into th
We've hit the first checkpoint: 25% Time Passed.
We can't upgrade the Keep any further. We can assign men and sergeants but it won't have any effect until after we come back from Arvahn.
Still, things are shaping up pretty nice.
Our walls look solid and our soldiers all have uniforms and proper weapons.
Outside we see a few peasants tilling the land. We even have pet cats!
And look! Our first graveyard! We've already had some casualties, and there'll be plenty more to come.
We're all set to head off to Arvahn, but there's an old friend or two and some unfinished business waiting for us back in Neverwinter.
Let's go see Axle.