Geometric Archipelago:Dragons on Semicircle Island/Chapter 07
Chapter #7: Defensive Measures
<mainstreet> ---BEGIN GAME---
<mainstreet> You find yourselves trapped between a dragon and a slightly ticked-off warrior. To be fair, Ascii's just been caught in obvious appreciation for the warrior's girlfriend, so the situation is somewhat understandable here. Lamaranth visibly sighs at her consort's antics as well. She pulls out a piece of paper and quickly draws a map of the castle's ground floor, explaining where everything is. There's only this main floor and the towers, but you get a feeling for how the place is constructed and what you can do to protect it. She welcomes you to use any of the small rooms to sleep in tonight -- they're effectively guest rooms.
- Vivi looks over the map. "Hmm. So only one entrance in and out of the castle?"
<mainstreet> "Well, two," Lamaranth points straight up, where you can see the gate above the courtyard. "But only one useable by humanoids, in general."
- Vivi eyes Lamaranth's human form speculatively. "If you flew into this courtyard from above, could you safely transform into human form in the last few feet of landing?"
<mainstreet> "I could, I suppose, but I've not done it. Seems unnecessary. Why?"
<Vivi> "There might be a third dragon on the island. Most likely we will be facing humanoids, but, to be on the safe side, it seems good to tacticaly cover the possibility of a dragon or other flyer entering from above.
<Ascii> "Can that upper door be closed and barricaded?"
<mainstreet> Lamaranth raises an eyebrow. "That... is a disturbing possibility," she tells Vivi. "Great, more competition... well, that gate is generally closed. When I use it from the outside... I can open it from the outside, but there's a trick to it that I don't spread around. I generally just ask Kyle to open the gate from the control center."
<Ascii> "Control center? What else can you do from there?"
<mainstreet> "Many, many things. It's the room that runs the whole castle. Well, most of it. Want to come take a look?"
<mainstreet> Lamaranth leads you into the Control Center. You notice she uses a key to open the door. "Fair warning -- I will give you a key to certain rooms here before leaving -- but other than the guest rooms, kitchen, courtyard, and training ground -- do not attempt to open a door you do not have a key to. It will end badly for you."
<mainstreet> You proceed in. The first thing you notice is the far wall. A series of images appear. It takes you a second, then you realize these are active visuals from various rooms. In fact, you can see every single room on the ground floor, except for Lamaranth's Nest Rooms, as well as the top room of each tower -- which you note because of the visible scenery. Curiously, every "top" room looks more or less identical -- a room with nothing but the stair down, windows, and a single glowing crystal pyramid. You can also see a handful of exterior shots.
<mainstreet> You walk around the room and see a variety of of switches, knobs, and buttons. The only thing that appears to be active at the moment is the CLEANING SYSTEM, which is currently set to clean the control center, the kitchen, training ground, all four towers, and the main courtyard. It's unclear exactly how this is accomplished. You also see controls for ARMOR ANIMATION, SHIELD SYSTEM, SKYGATE LOCK, MAINGATE LOCK, INTERNAL COMM, EXTERNAL COMM, as well as a pair of unlabeled systems, none of which appear to be active at the moment. Lastly, there is a system with no controls that simply says POWER RESERVOIR, that simply has four numbers. All four of them are reading 98 at the moment.
<Ascii> "Is this a castle, or a starship?"
<Ascii> "What do those pyramids do?"
<mainstreet> Lamaranth laughs heartily. "Let's just say I've done my fair share of traveling."
<mainstreet> "The pyramids are my power collectors. Pump spell energy into them to provide power for the castle's systems. The pyramids will take any spell not specifically designed to destroy things like it and transfer it into pure power. They can't go above 100, though -- if you try to put too much in they might overload. Please don't."
<Ascii> "Any spell? Arcane, divine...?"
<Vivi> "How many units of energy does each spell provide?"
<mainstreet> "Spells provide energy on the scale of the spells level, plus one, squared. Yes, either arcane or divine spells will suffice."
<mainstreet> "Some of the systems will pull from all four generators equally. The cleaning system, for instance, as does the armor animation system. The shields, however, pull based on where the shield is running. The locks and comms don't use any appreciable energy whatsoever and will only fail if all four generators read zero."
<Vivi> "How many power units does the armor animation consume in, say, an hour?"
<mainstreet> "Be aware I've never actually been attacked, so none of the defensive systems have been tested in battle conditions, just my own mock attacks."
<mainstreet> Lamaranth frowns at that question. "It depends on how many units are active and whether they have self-repair active."
- Vivi frowns. "Well, in your mock attacks, then, did you ever drain the power reserves completely?"
<mainstreet> "Once. All the armor animations failed immediately, and the shields went down. Getting in was incredibly easy at that point. If the power reserves fail, you're on your own."
<Vivi> "But how long did it take?"
<mainstreet> "When reserves are low, if you have both armor and shields active you have to decide whether you want to risk the drain, or shut one down to keep the other going."
<Ascii> "So those armors we saw earlier *are* animated shells?"
<Ascii> "How do the shields work?"
<mainstreet> "It took *me* about ten minutes to do it, but *I* am, after all *me*," Lamaranth gives a brief sneer. "I designed this castle well, but I'm still a *dragon*."
<mainstreet> Ascii: It occurs to you that rather than wasting your hosts time, you can simply look at them yourself...
<mainstreet> The SHIELD SYSTEM contains ANTILIFE and ANTIMAGIC shields. They seem to operate on all four sides of the castle, as well as all four towers, separately. You can activate either shield on a particular region, but never both simultaneously. Curiously, there does not seem to be a shield to cover top or bottom.
<Ascii> "Hmm. The bottom I can understand; we should be safe unless the mole people revolt. But why isn't the roof shielded?"
<mainstreet> Kyle laughs at this. "Generally speaking, aerial assault on a dragon is generally the best way to commit suicide."
<mainstreet> Lamaranth nods in agreement then sighs. "Yeah, I didn't anticipate an attack while I wasn't here."
- Vivi mutters to herself about not relying on the armor or shields for too long and the need for backup plans.
<Vivi> "How fast would it take you to fly back from the capital?"
<mainstreet> Lamaranth is temporarily deaf and doesn't appear to have heard your question.
- Vivi stops muttering and repeats the question louder.
<mainstreet> "Oh, uh, an hour probably. But I expect Evangeline, or whoever's running this audit, to drag it on for several hours."
<Ascii> "Almost certainly. Speaking of which, what can you tell us about these bankers?"
<mainstreet> "Well, the Winstara family has been running the banking system here for longer than I've been here. The old man that runs it now was, admittedly, indispensable in getting my presence accepted on this Island. I frankly doubt he has any clue what his granddaughters are doing... Beatrice was the one that threatened my agent... I suspect this is an operation from the sisters... I could not tell you what their goals are, however."
<Vivi> "I assume they have no known ties with gods who might want to use a dragon egg? Do they have any smuggling activities off-island that you know of?"
<Ascii> "Yeah, Voranath touched on this, but I figure we'll ask you too. What would someone want with your eggs, aside from the obvious extortion potential?"
<mainstreet> "Realistically the only gods that would be likely to be interested in dragon eggs are Bahamut and Tiamat... and I can't see Bahamut stabbing me in the back like this... even though Voranath follows Tiamat, I *can* see Tiamat stabbing *her* in the back. Evil turns on itself and all that. So if we suspect a divine presence, it would have to be from the Queen of Many Colors. I'm not aware of any smuggling activity... I would be surprised if the eggs had left the island. There are lots of places all over the mountains that could be used to hide things. They are vast and dangerous for most individuals. No one is known to actually live in the mountains."
<Ascii> "We have reason to believe a Wee Jas cleric by the name of Jason Carter might be involved in all of this, for what's that's worth."
<mainstreet> Lamaranth recognizes that name and frowns. "Jason Carter? Really? I... dammit, that's scarily plausible. And since he's been working politically for a while... he might have, through political spying, gotten a map of this castle. So expect intruders to have a very competent plan, if you're correct."
<Vivi> "What kind of staff do you have here?"
<mainstreet> "The castle is just me, Kyle, and the animations that are the armor and the cleaners. I'll occasionally bring in an Agent to help out with things, but I'm not asking them to be guards -- they'll want hazard pay and start getting a big head with me."
<Ascii> "Carter disappeared a few weeks back. Apparently he hasn't been paying his dues, which means he's probably gone into hiding. I assume he's working with the bank, or perhaps both of them are working for someone else."
<mainstreet> Lamaranth nods. "That's possible, but I don't think we can do a whole lot about it now. He might well show up as part of the attack. If he does, detain him. But of course, I do prefer you detain them all rather than kill. I want information."
<Ascii> Ascii brings his mace down into his hand. "I can handle that."
- Vivi frowns again. "I wish we knew how many are coming."
<mainstreet> Lamaranth hums. "Well, there are five Winstara sisters... if you believe they're acting on their own, and Evangeline needs to keep me occupied, then that leaves four to attack. And possibly Carter."
<Ascii> "And any and all hired thugs."
<Ascii> "If I were raiding the DRAGON'S LAIR! ...I'd bring as many meat shields as I could find."
<mainstreet> "Indeed. If anyone looks like an obvious worthless thug, feel free to... terminate their existence."
- Vivi looks at the map. "We should have at least one of us stationed in the egg nest in case they have a way to stealth in."
<mainstreet> "If you want to simply defend the nest directly, that's a possibility. Or you could try to defend from the control center..."
<mainstreet> Kyle interrupts. "I could *probably* run the control center on my own, but that would mean that I'm basically guessing what shields to put up when."
<Vivi> "Put up the antilife shield in front of the main gate, the antimagic field around the other walls, unless we direct otherwise."
<Vivi> "Aeth here can carry messages if we need."
<mainstreet> Lamaranth gives a slight smile. "Yes dear, I know you like playing in here." She turns back to the group. "All I can advise is be ready for anything. Is there anything else we need to discuss?"
<Vivi> "Can we move your eggs, for safety?"
<mainstreet> "I am open to suggestions. But it would not be wise to move them to a place that is not of a similar internal temperature. I keep that room nice and hot."
- Vivi glances over the map again. "The vault would probably be the most secure-able. One of the guest rooms would be the least expected...but they would likely pass them on the way to the nest, and they might notice extra heat radiating from there. Hmm."
<Vivi> "What's this empty tower being used for?"
<mainstreet> Lamaranth simply rolls her eyes at the notion of giving humanoids direct access to *her* vault.
<mainstreet> "Nothing, yet. I was planning to, if and when the eggs eventually hatch, allow my little ones to claim that tower for themselves."
<Vivi> "If we heat one of the tower tops, will the extra heat be noticeable at ground level?"
<Ascii> "Vivi, putting the eggs closer to the outer wall just means it will take less time for them to be removed from the castle."
<mainstreet> Lamaranth considers this. "It might be somewhat more difficult to notice, but... yes, that."
<Vivi> "You have, what, 3 eggs? If I cast Endure Elements on them, can we put them anywhere without worrying about the heat?"
<mainstreet> "It's not about the elements per se, it's about being in a consistent hatching environment. That won't help."
<mainstreet> "Also, there are 4 eggs."
- Vivi thinks. "Hmm. IF we came up with a way to keep them warm, it would probably make the most sense, tactically, to hide all four of them in different locations."
<Ascii> "Wouldn't that just make it harder for us to guard them?"
<Vivi> "But I'm not sure how to keep them warm," Vivi says in defeat.
<mainstreet> Lamaranth hisses at Vivi. "You're making the huge assumption that they won't feel comfortable taking 1 or 2. I consider even 1 unacceptable."
<Ascii> "She's right, Vivi. There's only two entrances, so they're as safe where they are as anywhere else. Unless they can phase or blast through walls, in which case the exact center of the castle is *still* the best spot."
<Ascii> "More importantly, if we go moving them around like a bunch of MacGuffins it might hurt the poor baby dwaggies. Er, dragons."
- Vivi sighs. "Ok. So we leave them where they are. Do you have any better plan than just 'sit and wait for them to show up', or is that what we're going for?" she asks Ascii.
<Ascii> "That is kind of the idea. We want them to at least come in so we can beat their sorry asses unconcious. Beyond that, we just need to be attentive and cover all directions as best we can. We need to take stock of what defenses we have besides the built-in ones and start working on setting them up."
<Ascii> "How long until the audit?"
<mainstreet> "It's tomorrow at noon. It's... well, about time for bed now, so you should probably get to bed, and set stuff up in the morning, if you care to do so."
<Ascii> Ascii seems to be mulling over tactical options in his mind. "What are the armors armed with?"
<Ascii> "And what else do you have lying around here in terms of weapons and materials?"
<Vivi> "Are any of the Winstaras wizards or sorcerers, that you know of?"
<mainstreet> "Each armor suit wields a greatsword. I've got some adamantine and some mithral in the lab, but we don't really have time to forge anything in the labs in such a short time. I don't generally have spare weapons lying around, although... talk to me again in the morning before I leave, I might be able to look into my vault for a few magical items that I can issue you."
<Ascii> "I don't suppose they know how to use crossbows..."
<Vivi> "Yes please," Vivi says in reference to the magical items.
<mainstreet> "And I do not know for sure, although, them being sorcerers is likely, given how... beautiful, they tend to keep themselves... then again, so is cleric, given the general situation here. They aren't very open about being much other than bankers and pretty faces."
- Vivi nods. "But it's likely we should expect magical attacks from them."
<mainstreet> "Absolutely. No one would be stupid enough to attack my castle, even in my absence, without magical assistance."
<Vivi> "I can hide us in an invisibility sphere, if you want to surprise them," Vivi says to Ascii, "But if you don't want to use that, I'll use the spell slot for an extra Fireball."
<mainstreet> Lamaranth turns to Ascii. "I've been working on that... testing has not gone well for getting them to used ranged attacks."
<Ascii> "I figured as much. I mean, they don't even have eyes."
<Ascii> "Vivi, I'm about as stealthy as a flatulent hippo. You'd probably do better to keep the fireball."
<mainstreet> "They can recognize threats in their area, hack and slash at them. That's about it."
<Vivi> "If I wanted to add power to your pyramids by casting a spell, I would have to actually be in the room with one of the pyramids, correct?"
<mainstreet> "You would. Frankly, in battle situations it is not worth it to constantly attempt to recharge the system unless you're about to go zero, and even then, it might be worth it to just limit what you're doing."
<Ascii> "I think this is one of those things where we won't be able to charge the batteries unless we get some down time."
- Vivi writes the word "battery" down in her notes and reminds herself to ask Ascii about it at a less crucial time.
- Ascii secretly hopes there are undead so he can try to turn stuff. He never gets to turn stuff.
<mainstreet> "Any other questions for me, or can we go to bed?"
<Vivi> "Can't think of any."
<mainstreet> Lamaranth nods. "I'll see you all in the morning. Take any of the guest rooms you please. As for me..." She walks out, giving Kyle a grin as she passes, waving for him to follow. Kyle follows her out without a word, but with a smile on his face.
<Ascii> Ascii blinks. "...whelp, I'm not getting any sleep tonight."
- Vivi looks in all the rooms and claims the one that pleases her the most.
<Ascii> Ascii looks in all the rooms and claims the one that displeases him the least.
- Hans picks the room that is displeasing for the wrong reasons
<mainstreet> You find that they're all identical rooms. Simple yet elegant. Bed, dresser, small bathroom area, simple bar lock -- either on the inside or outside. They are all colored slightly different: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple, but not much else changes.
- Vivi picks the purple room.
- Ascii picks blue, aboodee aboodah.
- Hildyr picks the red room
- Hans picks orange
<mainstreet> You all go to sleep...
<mainstreet> ---time passes---
<mainstreet> ...in the morning, you all wake up!
<mainstreet> Vivi, Hildyr: You hear a strange sort of whine outside your door. It sounds mechanical.
- Vivi opens the door to see if this is the cleaning service at work.
- Hildyr opens her own door, carefully
<Ascii> Ascii continues to sleep.
<mainstreet> Vivi, Hildyr: Sure enough, you see a little device, about one foot in diameter and high, with what appears to be bristles underneath. It beeps at you and proceeds in. There's also something written on top. "Breakfast available in the kitchen. --Kyle"
- Vivi double checks that her spells for the day are properly prepared, then proceeds to the kitchen for breakfast.
<Ascii> Ascii is still asleep, but somehow his mind registers the word 'breakfast' even though he can't read it with his eyes closed and the door shut. A few minutes later, he comes shuffling out noisily, armored sans helmet.
<mainstreet> You enter the kitchen, and find... well, a kitchen. Open stove, oven, cabinets, etc. You also see a long table with a handful of seats, as well as seven places set (albeit two of them clearly for a feline). Kyle is already at his seat, but he's clearly waiting on the rest of you. You see a platter of eggs, as well as what looks to be bacon, and some fresh fruit in a pile. "Help yourself," Kyle indicates.
- Vivi takes a teensy bit too much of everything and starts digging in. "Thanks," she says between bites.
<Ascii> Ascii, as usual, eats like a man who doesn't know when his next home-cooked meal is going to be. Which is to say, like a starving hyena.
- Hildyr joins the others in taking too much food and begins devouring it
<mainstreet> You all take a few minutes to eat. After we're all done, Kyle leads you into the main courtyard. Lamaranth, still in her human form, is lounging on what appears to be a throne. Where did that come from anyway? You also see a wooden box next to her.
<Ascii> Ascii eyes the box. It calls to him.
<mainstreet> "Well, hello there. I took a brief look into the vault, and I believe I found some things that may be very helpful to you. Now, I want to be clear here. These things are *my* things. If you steal them, I *will* know, and I *will* come after you. If you do this well, I *may* allow you to keep *some* of these items."
<mainstreet> She opens the box... You see an iron rod with silver rivets, an elaborate golden headband, a long, rough prism, a broomstick, and a wand with a sapphire at the end.
<Vivi> "What does the broomstick do?" Vivi asks.
<Ascii> "What does it *all* do?"
<mainstreet> Lamaranth grins. "The broom is a Broom of Flying. If someone wants to go overhead and provide aerial support... it could be done. I also have here a Wand of Hold Person, and it's Heightened to 4th level. It only has 10 charges left, but that might be enough to stop the enemy for a time. But these last three... I've got a Gem of Brightness, a Circlet of Blasting, and.. a Rod of Thunder and Lightning."
- Vivi pictures herself flying over a group of wizard sisters, casting Black Tentacles left and right. Then she pictures herself clumsily falling off the broom when they cast back at her. "Hmmm."
- Vivi mutters, "I wish I knew there was a Broom of Flying *before* I decided not to prepare Feather Fall today."
<mainstreet> Lamaranth hops up, and walks over to a clear space. She shifts into dragon form. "I'll be back later," she rumbles. "I will teleport back as soon as I am able. Defend my castle!" She takes off, leaping for the skygate, opening it, and flying away. It closes behind her.
- Vivi casts Prying Eyes, instructing them to distribute themselves equally around the castle and report back if they see a humanoid or dragon.
<mainstreet> Vivi: After about an hour and a half, the Eyes report back that a group of seven humanoids has been spotted in the woods very near the castle.
<mainstreet> Two of them are carrying a portable ram -- those two individuals appear to be orcs in full plate. The rest of them are all dressed in breastplate armor with the five-headed dragon symbol of Tiamat displayed in front. You notice one man and four women -- the women looking very nearly identically, only subtle differences in heights being able to differentiate them. The tallest of the women appears to be in charge, as the group is flowing their movements around her.
<mainstreet> ---END GAME---
<mainstreet> <Vivi> Just to speed up the item distribution discussion... how about... Vivi - broom, Hildyr- Blasting, Ascii - Hold Person, Hans - Thunder. Cat 1 or 2 - Gem