Monday, June 25, 2018

Senex Campaign 2: The Meyer's Homestead

Having not as yet settled on what action to take, the night catches up to the party and they settle down in their beds to sleep. In the cold light of morning, they awake to find a gentle falling rain. It is Monday, May 6. The Pig tavern quickly empties of guests, as those who spent the night in Dachau, visiting the market and seeing the performance, pull out before sunrise to return to their homes and to the small mills outside of town. The party wakes, having the Inn to themselves, as most time.

As the party’s board has been paid up until the end of May, Helmunt has a breakfast prepared and waiting for you: duck’s eggs, boiled sausage and porridge. You eschew the porch, for while there is an awning over the outside tables, the cloth leaks. So, you find yourselves inside, finishing your breakfast and wondering if the rain will end before the evening.
Josef Mieszko, the Cleric: Paid through ‘til May! Then we’re in no rush - I thought that we were in much more dire straits than this! OK guys, what to do today?
Anshelm Helbelinc, the Thief: I only takes a bit of porridge to break my fast, as the cotters’ meal from the night before has left me uncomfortable. “It would appear the locals are in a state of agitation. That might be a situation we could use to our advantage; of course, it could also mean our heads...from either side! P’raps we should see what Tiberius’ friend has to offer us in the way of work and wage.”
Delfig Kôlhupfer, the Bard: Being the late sleeper, I will grumble and groan, stand and stretch, nod appreciatively at Helmut. “I agree, we should see what becomes of Tiberius’s friend.”
Tiberius [Adelbert Volkmann], the Mage: I agree to go visit Johann at the Merchant’s Hall, once I have broken my fast.
Josef: Is Dachau divided into “quarters” – are the low and high class areas of the town physically separate? And if such sections exist, which are we in?
DM: There would be “quarters” of the town--specifically, there would be four quarters: a) the wealthier, merchant and noble’s quarter; b) the impoverished quarter; c) the Jew’s quarter; and d) the foreigner’s quarter. These are not the same size.
If you imagine a clock face, with the Cathedral, and The Pig across the street at the center of the clock, with 12 o’clock pointing north. From 9 to 12 on the face would be the merchant’s quarter. Extending outward from the Merchant’s hall on the main square are several walled estates; the mayor’s hall, the arsenal and the town bath. Past this are larger merchant’s houses, with artisan’s shops on the main floor and living quarters above, some of them four floors high. There are also half-timbered houses possessed by private clerks, city officials and independently wealthy persons. This area is built on a flat plateau above the Amper bottomland. The center of this plateau is dominated by a fortress, occupied rarely by the Duke of Bavaria, usually held by the Duke’s steward and occupied chiefly by soldiers and those town members who serve the soldiers: cooks, lamplighters, servers, stablers and so on.
Between 12 and 4 o’clock, the poor live in a wide, ramshackle circle, mixed with open gardens and cropland, scattered along the bottomland, below the merchant homes. The further away, the greater the poverty, descending from those living nearest the merchant quarter outwards, from strong laborers, to rat catchers and gong farmers, and finally to beggars.
Between 4 and 6 o’clock would be the Jew’s Quarter, strictly separated from the rest of the town by a wall built within the city. For other residents of Dachau, free passage is not denied; but the Jews are not permitted to freely roam into the remainder of the city.
Finally, between 6 and 9 o’clock is the foreigner’s corner, which is not as deep as the other quarters of the city, though it is an elongated neighborhood extending a third of the town’s circumference. It includes the largest monastery in the town, and the customs house.
The North Gate would pass between the Castle and the poor district, at 12 o’clock on our clock. The South Gate would come at 6 o’clock, between the Jew’s quarter and the foreigner’s quarter.
Delfig: After waiting for awhile, I comment to Anshelm, “Perhaps we should put our knowledge together, as we have had bits and pieces of conversations. Although we’ve been here awhile, we’ve just now learned that the merchants are squeezing the locals, and perhaps enforcing old grudges to clear them out of the way. This may be leading to some unknown end, as I overheard some of the higher class speaking of an unknown purpose to the building, perhaps for more soldiers. This leads me to believe that there will be a period of unrest coming. Tiberius and the cotters both spoke of the merchants looking for more soldiers. I noticed you were asking questions that seemed to annoy the patrons. Do you wish to share something that you’ve learned? You didn’t say much last night after the performance.”
“And Josef... have you anything to add?”
Anshelm: I agree with Delfig. “You have good sense for a mummer,” I say while reaching for my snuff. “I wasn’t able to glean all that much from the locals; they’re a suspicious lot and didn’t like me prying, asking about the recent unpleasantness around here.” I mention my overhearing from the coachmen about the four killings. “I, for one, am curious about these murders ...”
Delfig: I’m not going to get involved in fomenting rebellion unless there’s a damn good reason for me to risk my neck doing so.
Josef: I believe that the activities of the merchants and leaders of the town are common and will be the case in most of the market towns we come across in the Empire - and just as likely were we to go west. If the issue came up, I know which side I would favor - but I fear that the merchant-lords and bishop-brokers have the upper hand. They have the means to declare their will and then enforce it. However the commons resist, the money is entrenched. Perhaps there is a smaller village nearby that we could base ourselves, then come back here once we’ve somehow acquired some wealth.
Delfig [to Josef]: “I don’t know enough. The lay of the land feels quite treacherous with the murder of the innkeeper and now talk of other murders. We don’t have a good source of coins yet, so my belly tells me to take care of local business before I consider travelling abroad.”

Nothing else is said and the DM moves the game along.
DM: Let us presume the party’s meal is done. Rain continues to fall, steady and drearily, a bit more than light and less than heavy.
Tiberius: Any who wish to come with me to meet with Johann may do so. Otherwise, I will go out into the rain, cloak pulled tight around me, and see if Johann is in the guild hall.
Anshelm: I will accompany you.
Delfig: I am with you.
Josef: I will stay at The Pig, but I appreciate the offer. I’m afraid I don’t make a good impression on the upper-class.
Kazimir Kropt, the Assassin: Kazimir will stay at the Pig with Josef, having no desire to go out in the rain when there’s sausage to be had.
So we follow Tiberius, Anshelm and Delfig as they head out into the rain to cross the square. The group is somewhat damp as they poke in the front door of the Merchant’s Hall. It is quite different today. While there lingers a bit of the barnyard odor, you can also detect the strong smell of vinegar and lye that has been used to scrub the Hall’s floor and some of the walls and pillars. The hall is quite empty, except for a long, narrow table where sits a single gentleman, the insignia on his cloak identifying him as a clerk of the guild. An open book showing pages partly covered with signatures waits in front of him.
Tiberius: I step up to the clerk and ask politely if Johann Mizer is available.
Clerk (npc): “You are Herr Volkmann?”
Tiberius: “Yes. These are my companions.” I motion to the others.
DM: The clerk produces a bell from his tunic and a boy appears from behind a pillar; the boy then runs to fetch Mizer. When Johann appears, he will seem somewhat rushed. But he will reach out for your hand and greet you warmly. He asks after your companions and waits for you introduce them.
Tiberius: I return Johann’s warm greeting.
Johann Mizer (npc): “I did think we would get together, Adelbert,” says Mizer, “but not in the day. Tonight perhaps? I know an excellent beer garden near the baths.”
Tiberius: “Yes, that’s fine. We can meet with you later tonight.” I get the name and location of the beer garden and leave with my companions.
With no one speaking to the contrary, the group leaves and return back to The Pig. There, they find that Kazimir and Josef are already off.
Josef: Should the rain lighten, I would like to go wander the Foreign Quarter looking for vendors, bars, etc., looking perhaps toward Bohemian or Polish neighborhoods.
Kazimir: I will go with Josef to the Foreign Quarter.
DM: The rain is not that heavy at the moment. You head out, and soon see a sign hanging on the front of a building showing the word, “Gospoda.” This is a common description in Silesia for a tavern that caters to soldiers.
Josef: As it is early in the day, I would consider coming back to the Gospoda in the later evening.
[OOC: Perhaps when others go to meet Johann at the beer garden?]
And so that was a short journey. The rain seems to cut short the players’ interest in doing much of anything, at least until the evening.
Tiberius: Not wanting to catch pneumonia, I will stay out of the rain for most of the day, taking the time to dry out at The Pig.
Anshelm: I will be accompanying Tiberius to the beer garden.
Delfig: I will be with him too.

We wait with the party. The rain ceases to fall in the early afternoon, though the weather remains gloomy for the remainder of the day. The high hills to the southwest of Dachau retain a shroud of fog into the evening, with no sign that it will lift before sunset. It is, altogether, a dreary day.

In the afternoon, a message arrives from Johann Mizer as to the location of the beer garden, and an indication that Tiberius and his friends should meet him there at six bells. It is not a great distance; Helmunt, ever eager to please, offers to send a boy with the party to show the way, if only a copper piece is given. One way or another, through the wet streets the trio find their way to the garden, which at first glance is unfortunately in the out of doors.

No Medieval image could be found.

Stepping through an arch constructed of latticework and holly branches, the party finds a group of wet wooden tables and benches. The latticework extends over their heads, and weaved into the frame are more branches, not quite thickly grown with holly leaves—this will take a few weeks yet. In the sunshine it would be a beautiful shaded recluse.

To the group’s delight, however, it is discovered that half the beer garden is roofed, and a solid structure built on three sides. On the fourth side is a roaring fire, fully eight feet wide and four feet deep, in which burns hemlock and yew. Stepping between a few puddles still filling the hollows between the exposed benches, Tiberius, Anshelm and Delfig join the hearty throng of forty people sitting in the warm comfort provided by the fire.

Mizer is there; he happily greets each one of you; introductions are made, and Mizer pleasantly insists that he buy the first round. The day did not begin too well for him; but an arrangement has been made and a silversmith is to be ousted from his rented property a few miles out of town, so that it will be put under Mizer’s ownership.

While hearing this tale, the trio cannot help noticing that the barmaids are exceptional - all beautiful, all quite young and with remarkable ashen skin and near-perfect teeth. This last, of course, would be quite rare to their experience, and Mizer will laugh when he sees his companions noticing it.

He’s quite happy to explain the happenstance. The beer garden is in part owned by an adventurous young fellow, who a few years ago took part as a mercenary in the recent 30 Year’s Holy War, in Saxony. He made his fortune in silver. This young fellow, a paladin, Eberhardt Hornung by name, has since become the darling of the town, and this beer garden is a contribution to his fame. It is true, adds Mizer discreetly, that Hornung also manages a string of harlots … the “cleanest” harlots in Bavaria, since none ever suffers from any disease, not even in their teeth. But Mizer suggests not spreading such rumours that one might hear in a beer garden.
Anshelm: I chuckle to myself as Mizer tells Hornung’s story. “This silversmith ... what’d he do?” I inquire after a moment, keeping my tone as neutral as possible.
Johann (npc): “Oh nothing, I suppose. But it’s not his land, is it? I might have a look at his books, see if he’s worth having as a tenant ... but I’m thinking I’d like to turn the land over to cattle. There might be some trouble, depending on what sort of man he turns out to be - but I’ll send a group of hooligans if I must.”
Anshelm: “Indeed. Sometimes you just need to crack a few skulls when tenants become insolent.”

continued elsewhere ...

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