Silver Pool Campaign, Episode 1.3.9: Please read the first comment (click on View Results) below and THEN choose your preferred action.
Posted by darkstar 11 years ago, closed 11 years ago
Use another Light cantrip to make another torch and try to track the dead man's steps back where he came from.
Drink the Repel Vermin potion and move forward in the moonlit forest parallel to the direction you were taking when you were on the path.
Return to the path and continue along it, looking for evidence of the hive.
Some other creative option? (please comment)
A Grisly Inventory
darkstar: "Well," you answer Martelo after a moment, "it could be helpful to know more about this fellow. Who he was, where he came from. And, grim a thought as it is, if he has anything we can use to help us in our quest, he's not going to be needing it now." You pick up a small twig and cast a Light cantrip on it. The twig erupts into a bluish-green glow that illuminates as would a torch, casting shadows on the trees and underbrush nearby.  
"Martelo, keep watch. I don't want anything to sneak up on us while we're doing this, especially any stray wasps. Dan, see if you can find some deadwood we can bundle together to make small bundles we can use to swat at the wasps. If we encounter those things, swatting at them will probably be better than waving our swords at them. Both of you stay close. Aelric, help me search the body..."  
The cloak is stained with blood and rotting flesh and has several tiny puncture holes in the fabric. Your suspicions about the wasps are supported by other evidence you find: the flesh beneath where the corpse's chain mail shirt was resting is rotting but has not been picked clean by protein-scavenging wasps. And there is evidence of puncture holes in the body suggesting he was stung to death, the chain mail evidently not serving as very good defense against the slender stingers. Sifting through the cadaver's belongings is a foul, messy business, and you and Aelric nearly gag a few times while carrying out your task as swiftly as possible. Five minutes later, you have gone over the body, locating and removing all distinctive or useful items. The corpse, still wearing its robe and boots but nothing else, lies before you, the bones of its exposed face grinning up at you in the turquoise light of your torch. You can see evidence of his tracks nearby, indicating he did, indeed, stumble to the place where he fell and died.  
A quick inventory of everything you've removed includes a leather beltpouch, well oiled and still in good condition. Inside the beltpouch are several coins as well as a pair of keys and a small brass stamp or seal used by Viscount Grall's tax collectors. Also within the beltpouch is a small silver pillbox, containing a couple of dozen tiny pellets. You also retrieved a well-oiled and maintained leather scabbard and belt, holding a fine looking dagger. The dagger seems to have a faint iridescent glow to the blade's edge, reflecting the blue-green light with particular brightness. Another scabbard holds a plain looking longsword. From the corpse's hand and neck, you retrieved a silver ring -- a band of metal with a strange sigil on the top -- and a gold chain necklace, set with three garnets.  
The chain mail shirt is in very good condition and, aside from needing to be cleaned, is most definitely usable. You cast a quick Cleaning cantrip on it, watching as the rot and corruption drop cleanly away from the metal. When it's clean, you hand it to Aelric, who wordlessly accepts it and puts on the armor without a second's hesitation. As he does so, Dan returns with some bundles of hemlock withies he's bound together with some twine. "Find anything interesting?" he asks, handing you each a bundle.  
"Some valuables, coins and jewelry, a sword and dagger, a chain mail shirt," you say, pointing at the items. "Something else very interesting, too...a tax collector's seal." You hold up the small brass stamp. "This fellow may have been one of Count Grall's."  
"I think," says Dan, "I remember Elder Milo mentioning something about one of Lord Grall's tax collectors running off with some taxes he'd collected. There was a reward..." He looks down at the corpse. "Dead or alive. Looks like we found him...strange place for it, though."  
"Yes, and I find more interesting what we didn't find," you say. At the quizzical looks you receive, you explain: "No food or water. And this man didn't trek here all the way on foot. His boots are in too good a shape. If you look at the boots, you can see where they've been abraded by stirrups."  
"A horse," Dan says, completing the thought.  
"Yes, with the rest of his belongings, no doubt. And unless it escaped the wasps, we'll probably find its carcase nearby, too."  
The magical flame from the torch goes out, the spell extinguished.
darkstar: Previous episodes and character data sheet here.  
All welcome to participate, regardless of whether you've voted in earlier episodes.
darkstar: Inventory of items retrieved from the dead tax collector:  
A filigreed silver ring with strange sigil  
A gold chain necklace with three small garnets  
A chain mail shirt - now worn by Aelric  
A longsword (with scabbard and belt)  
A fine dagger, with strangely iridescent gleam (with scabbard)  
A leather beltpouch  
A small silver pillbox about 4" x 3" x 3" containing perhaps 2-dozen pellets  
An official tax collector's seal  
A pair of keys  
32 gold pieces  
25 silver pieces  
19 copper pieces
AB: Use your knowledge of animals to determine the following:  
1) what type of wasp the one you just saw is...  
2) how far that type of wasp in particular generally strays from its hive...  
With that information, it would be an easy task to determine how close we are to the hive. If it's close, then it's time to use the Repel Vermin potion; if it's miles away from "home", then I'd say to forge ahead silently.
good thinking!
darkstar: The wasp you saw is obviously an orangemantle wasp (its size and distinctive markings give it away). You are not familiar enough with them to know how far one might stray from its hive at night, exactly.  
However, from what Brother Owen told you, they generally follow wasp-like behavior in most respects. And from what you know of other wasps, most of them are in their hive at night. The odd straggler may be outside, either injured/diseased and repulsed from the hive or just one of the improbable few that happen to be out and about.  
Because it's nighttime, it therefore seems likely that the wasp you saw perhaps 30-40 feet ahead of you on the path was "near" the hive, though you don't know what exact distance away it might have been.
darkstar: Oh, and based on the location that Brother Owen identified to you as being the center of the dead and diseased Wealdfire zone, you figure you're pretty close to the center of that area (within a few hundred yards, perhaps).
does the larger size of the wasp
pdxpogo: increase its range from the hive? There is only enough repel vermin potion for one. Do not use the potion until you have identified the hive entrance! You take the same risk as the rest of the party until it is time to burn the queen... proceed with caution along the track untill you know where you need to go. You maybe close but your protection is limited.  
gbaker: I agree with Pogo, we shouldn't use the potion until we know exactly where we need to be.