• Solo • Customer Review: Dyrgen(tm) Masterwork Crossbow

Oram now gets a chance to play with his new toy properly.

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Oram Mednix
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Customer Review: Dyrgen(tm) Masterwork Crossbow

17 Ashan 721

Continued from here

Oram had just received the finest weapon he had ever seen in his life, and he greatly wished to play with it. The masterwork crossbow and its bolts lay in the back of the traveler’s wagon; his cloak over them so as not to draw unwanted attention to his new treasure as he and Ornot trundled through the busy streets of Scalvoris. As he made his way back towards his camp outside the gates, Oram could think of little besides learning better to use the weapon. He would need to pick out a safely secluded area, there to improvise himself an archery butt and perhaps a target. He knew just such a spot. He would also-

”Hey!,” a high-pitched, boyish voice called out: ”that’s my wagon!” Oram froze. He was quite sensitive to the perception many townsfolk had of his people as “gypsies” who would steal things at every opportunity. He looked up and recognized the boy who had spoken: it was indeed the son of the man from whom he had bought the toy wagon, a son who had supposedly outgrown it.

Oram started to explain that he had purchased the wagon fairly, but he quickly saw that the expression on the boy’s face wasn’t mad or accusatory. He was smiling, excited. Maybe even…proud? He elbowed a second boy about the same age standing next to him. ”I told you!” he said to the other boy. ”He uses my old wagon to do real stuff! He delivers traps and fish baskets to people with it!”

The second boy seemed impressed, but his large eyes were focused mainly on Ornot. ”You use your goat to pull the wagon?” he asked, almost as if this were a wonder. ”Can we meet your goat, Mister?”

Oram sighed. He wanted to say no, make an excuse. He had urgent business. An important meeting he was nearly late for. With an archery butt. But the boys were already coming over, bursting with curiosity and enthusiasm. He stopped the wagon, he and Ornot exchanging suffering looks as the boys descended upon the wether.

For a few trills the pair just gawked, until one of them lifted an uncertain hand towards the goat’s head. ”Does he bite? Is he friendly?” he asked.

Two different questions, with two different answers. ”No. And usually,” Oram told them, truthfully. Ornot might be the more vocal complainer of the hunter’s pair of pack goats, but he was also the more sociable. And he was clearly enjoying the attention of the two boys. Things went well for a bit or two, as the boys pet Ornot carefully, and asked Oram the usual questions about what he ate, did he like to climb things, did he faint, and so forth. It was almost entertaining enough to keep Oram’s mind off of his own eagerness to shoot his crossbow some more. And then…

”HEEEEEEYY!!”

The boys shrieked and jumped back, alarmed by Ornot’s sudden outburst. Standing back, eyeing the wether apprehensively, the second boy asked: ”He-he’s not mad, is he? What’d we do wrong?”

Oram smiled reassuringly and shook his head. ”You did nothing wrong. He’s just a bit over-excited.” He thought a trill more, then had an idea. ”He may be confused why we stopped. He wants to get home, you see. We’ve been out and about most of the trial. That was probably as much for me as for you.”

That had the desired effect. The boys withdrew apologetically and left Oram and Ornot to go their way. And the best part about it was that what Oram had told them was probably actually true.

”For once, your complaining was actually useful,” Oram told the goat, who tossed his head in response. After that, the rest of their trip, for all it felt excruciatingly long to Oram, went smoothly; soon they were back at the camp’s animal shed, where Oram unharnessed Ornot and fed and watered him, as well as Wether. The trapper himself pulled the wagon the short remainder of the distance to his tent. Once there he stowed his wagon and then, carefully, almost lovingly, he lifted the crossbow out of the bed, holding it up to the sunlight to admire its workmanship. He just stood holding the crossbow that way for several bits, and it didn’t even baa at him to move things along.
word count: 750
Villains are powerless against story beats.
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Oram Mednix
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Re: Customer Review: Dyrgen(tm) Masterwork Crossbow

Monkey see, monkey do

Note: the monkey appearing here is from a modnote to this post.

After a few bits, Oram decided that he had gawked at his new toy long enough. It was time to do some actual practicing. For that, he would want a target. Fortunately, he had just the thing: a sack stuffed with used chicken coop straw. The hunter had hoped to use it to trap foxes last season, but hadn’t found much work doing that. Perhaps Groom Peavers was back in the good graces of the neighboring farmers. Oram planned to give the unused stinky hay to one of the gardeners in his camp to compost, and he didn’t figure the recipient would mind a couple extra holes in the sack, especially since the straw would be free.

Wrinkling his nose, Oram hefted the sack out of its corner and planted it in the now-empty wagon. He slung the new quiver of bolts over his shoulder, and hooked the gaffe over the knife at his belt, and slung the crossbow over his shoulder to carry it. Cradling the butt of the tiller in one hand while pulling the wagon with the other, the trapper rumbled away from his tent some ways out of camp. The ground, though muddy with snow-melt, was still mostly frozen enough to support his wagon as Oram head out towards a clump of barren, newly-coppiced tree stumps, atop one of which he set the straw-stuffed sack, turned so that the markings on it would face him as he stood to shoot it, using one of the markings as a bullseye.

Deciding to start modestly, Oram strode off about twenty paces and marked a spot, from which he would shoot. The steps were simple, and he had little trouble remembering them: he turned the nut forward until the bits that caught on the bowstring were in the right position. Once in his spot, he took out the goat’s foot gaffe, laid its end to the lugs and leaned it forward until it hooked onto the bowstring. Then he grabbed the gaffe’s lever and pulled back. A crossbow, Oram quickly saw, besides taking longer to draw than a bow, made more noise. Parts clicked and clacked and creaked, and the gaffe jingled, softly but audibly, as he removed it and put it away. That would be something to think about when hunting. He wondered if he could find a way to load more quietly.

The hunter fished out a bolt and loaded it. Since he planned to shoot it right away, he did not bother with the bolt clip. He raised the tiller to his chest and tried to get an aim. He was tempted to raise the deck all the way to eye level, but decided against it. Doing so every time would be tiring. Also, lifting the weapon higher would increase the chance of being seen. No, he wanted to get the knack for aiming with the crossbow held lower. That would take practice. And it would entail learning to trust his aim, because he couldn’t rely on the feel of the bow as he drew it to help with his accuracy. Taking his best guess, he fired. The bolt flew well high and landed somewhere beyond the copse.

Suddenly there came a chattering call, and something hard and small struck Oram on the back of the head. Looking sharply to one side, Oram saw to his amazement that the monkey was there, the one that had pestered him after he had delivered his letter to the Albarech. It had followed him all this way? The trapper had not seen the animal since entering Dyrgen’s shop. He had assumed it had gotten bored and moved onto other things while he had been inside. And yet, somehow, here it was, as annoying as ever. He toyed with the idea of shooting at it, decided against it. Monkeys weren’t native to the area; the beast was likely someone’s pet.

Willing himself to ignore the pest, Oram took out the gaffe and cocked the crossbow again. He put in a second bolt and, suppressing his aim slightly from the time before, fired once more. It was high, but only just.

The monkey, seeing this, moved away from Oram towards the target, walking to within perhaps four paces of the target and then throwing a nut at it, which struck right in the area Oram had marked as a bullseye. The creature turned and showed the hunter a taunting grin.
Last edited by Oram Mednix on Sun Apr 25, 2021 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 767
Villains are powerless against story beats.
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Oram Mednix
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Re: Customer Review: Dyrgen(tm) Masterwork Crossbow

Laugh-a while you can, monkey boy!

Oram glared back at the monkey in annoyance, but it simply chattered at him and then dashed behind one of the other copses nearby. The hunter shook his head irritably. This was not an aggravation he needed. Taking a moment to regain his composure, he again drew the bowstring back and loaded in a third bolt. Correcting his aim lower still, he fired, and was relieved to actually hit the lower end of the sack, near the foot that sat on the stump. Not good, but better.

His satisfaction was short-lived. No sooner had the bolt struck than the monkey emerged from his hiding place and again approached the target, throwing a peanut at it and striking squarely in the bullseye. Even worse, Oram realized that his quiver had only had three practice quarrels in it, which were now all spent; he now needed to walk to the target and retrieve them in front of a jeering audience. He did, doing his best to ignore the incessant mocking chatter that followed him all the way downrange and back.

Having regained the practice bolts, Oram took a deep breath to calm down and then once more drew, loaded and took aim. The bolt hit a couple fingers higher, although more to the side than the hunter had intended. Once again, the simian came out, pegged the center of the target with a nut, then jabbered at Oram before moving aside.

Oram decided to change things up. He took out two bolts, holding one with his thumb against the side of the tiller while he loaded and shot the other, again with questionable accuracy. As the monkey once more came towards the target, Oram quickly reloaded and slapped the next bolt into the bowstring, even while the beast was still downrange taking aim at the sack. Hearing the sound, it stopped and turned to look at the hunter, who made as if to raise the crossbow into firing position. The monkey glared at him defiantly for a trill, as if to say: “You wouldn’t dare!”, before swiftly turning to pitch yet another peanut into the bullseye and then dashing off for cover behind the neighboring cluster of tree stumps.

Oram glared at that copse for a few moments before turning to aim at the target for real. He fired. He laughed. The bolt had landed squarely in the bullseye. He looked back at the monkey’s hiding place, pointing at the target, still laughing. Nothing moved. Chuckling all the while, Oram went to retrieve the practice bolts once more, carefully positioning himself so that the target stood between him and the hidden peanut sniper.

The trapper’s tormentor seemed to be staying behind the neighboring copse now; it did not come out again to throw nuts at the bullseye, even though Oram’s next group of three showed his earlier bullseye to have been a fluke. The hunter did feel that he was getting better, though. After once more retrieving the practice bolts, he tried something new.

It was late in the afternoon now, and the sun was getting low in the sky behind. Oram’s shadow stretched long towards where the makeshift target stood. Seeing it reminded him of something his father had said about how most animals saw threats mainly in silhouettes and movement. If you pointed straight at your quarry while you drew, and didn’t move the rest of your body, the animal was less likely to sense movement. If your shadow didn’t move, it seemed like you didn’t move.

Oram loaded slowly, watching his own shadow as he did so, noticing how his shoulders and head bobbed and his elbow jutted out. Tentatively, he mimicked the loading motion again with his gaffe, even though with the bowstring locked back, the lever arm on the goat’s foot just flopped back and forth without resistance. Mentally, he noted how he could perform the motion with his elbow in, his head still, and his shoulders low. It was the fire drill all over again.

He raised the crossbow, carefully doing so straight up along the line of his body, and then fired. For the second bolt, he tried the motion for real, with the gaffe under tension. He found that, with concentration, he was able to keep his head still, his shoulders down, and his elbow in tolerably well, although he promptly negated the effect as soon as he removed the gaffe, jangling and rattling and moving his arm all around as he did so. That motion would need to be brought under control as well. Ignoring the drawn weapon for a moment he watched his shadow as he tried a series of motions with the gaffe, trying to imagine how he could hook it to, and unhook it from, his web harness while keeping it and his arm in line with his body, so that his silhouette did not change. He didn’t currently have a good attachment point, but he could picture where best to put one as he performed the pantomime with his shadow. He also figured out a way to move the gaffe around without clanking: by holding the lever with the hinge draped over his hand, he could keep the metal limbs of the goat’s foot from striking each other as he moved the gaffe about; they would flop against his hand instead.

It was a lot to try to manage at once; Oram decided not to try to do so today. He settled for focusing on restraining the drawing motion, as he practiced shooting a few more groups. His aim got noticeably better, though he never actually struck the bullseye again. The monkey stayed out of his way. Oram even started to wonder if it was still there.

…That is, until he decided to call it a trial and made to retrieve the sack, now riddled with holes and leaking a bit of stinky straw, from its perch. As Oram carried the bundle back to the wagon, something small struck the back of his head. When he turned, he saw a furry form scurrying away among the clusters of coppiced stumps.
word count: 1040
Villains are powerless against story beats.
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Re: Customer Review: Dyrgen(tm) Masterwork Crossbow

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Player Name: Oram Mednix

Points awarded: 10 xp
Magic xp: none

Knowledge:

[Acrobatics] It is easier to control body movements if you can watch yourself doing them.
[Combat:Ranged] Crossbow draw mechanics are…mechanical. Draw consistency should be automatic.
[Combat:Ranged] A crossbow user controls the weapon’s aim mainly by pointing alone.
[Combat:Ranged] Crossbows take longer to reload than bows.
[Stealth] Loading a crossbow makes more noise than loading a bow and arrow.
[Stealth] Minimizing silhouette movement makes your motions harder to detect.

Renown: none
Loot: peanut shells.
Injuries/Overstepping: None
Wealth Points: None
Consequences: None

Skill Review: All Skills used appropriately to PC's level
Notes: This was a very complete sequence, starting with how Oram began his day, getting ready for a bit of target shooting with his sweet new toy. And then thwarted by the interruption of a couple of meddling kids hanging around his wagon. Ornot is a funny little thing, and turned out to be useful in shooing the kids away.

The description of the shooting itself was well done, and not overly fast paced. Which you'd expect, given spanning a crossbow and rearming it takes a few moments, at least.

I thought the monkey throwing peanuts was a very nice touch, and it was very cute that Oram had competition for his shooting with the monkey hitting the bullseye with a peanut nearly every time. I wonder if Oram will ever manage to shoot that monkey, or if he'll continue to bedevil the ranger's existence?

Anyway, great writing as usual. Enjoy the rewards.


If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding this review, feel free to PM. Enjoy your rewards!
word count: 282
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