The Currents of Space GM 1

Before the Game starts, I did a little more work on backgrounds and relationships. I like to keep things tidy and it was obvious that three of the characters shared something in common – the incident on LX504. But where did Achernar fit in? He was related to Capella; he knew this but Capella didn’t.

 

  • I created Bellatrix’s and Achernar’s family trees. I designed a system years ago to do this; it uses a deck of cards to create relationships and families. It seems like a lot of work; in reality it is quite quick and simple and throws up a lot of unexpected connections. It’s surprising how useful the information can be.

 

Bellatrix’s uncle is an executive VP of Makita Genetics, overseeing Resources.

 

Achernar is the illegitimate son of Capella’s aunt; born in violation of the Chinese Birth Control Laws, he was smuggled off-planet to LX504. He left the planet in 2208 to become a Drifter; returned briefly in 2216 where he met Capella.

  • I set up a matrix of character ages vs. terms served to determine when significant events happened. Tables don’t post very well on here (at least; I haven’t found how to do it). The blow-out incident on LX504 happened in 2222 (current year is 2225).

Achernar (as a Drifter) returned to LX504 in 2216 which is where he met Capella. He left in 2218 to join the Survey Scouts. He never told Capella that they were related (he knew this through his mother).

  • With the other PC’s (and a slight bit of tweaking!), the blow-out incident on LX504 happened in 2222. I created a matrix of PC age and date and looked to see where they coincided. Again; usually it falls into place easily.

 

Three years have passed and it is 2225.

Journal of the Wayfarers 3.9

Episode 3.9 – Judgement Day

The Wayfarers have reached Thaeling Lake with its curious leaning monastery and observed a judging being carried out on three Murden. They learnt in the library about the revolt against the Mad Queen Whenith Sarromere and that the Queen had sent a dreadful sea monster – the Skarasen – to attack the city of Rachar.

The following morning they awoke to an uproar. The body of a man had been found by the lake, stabbed several times.

‘They’ve arrested Milo for the murder and he’s been taken to the monastery for judgement!’

19th Vaen, 405 AF

They headed out to look at the body. The man was by the lake and had been stabbed five times by a long-bladed, thin weapon.

‘Not a sword then. Was Milo carrying a stiletto dagger?’

El Greco examined the ground for tracks; too many people had churned up the ground but she was able to determine that Delnar was killed here on this spot.

Speaking to people, Delnar was single and known to have a bad temper. He was seen quarrelling with Milo in the Community Hall the night before, apparently it was over Milo taking more food than he deserved, especially in light of the billam crop failure.

Several villagers were complaining of bad headaches.

Tonni, daughter of Garlin the fisherman, came up to them in tears. Milo didn’t kill Delnar, he couldn’t have. When pushed, she really broke down and confessed that she and Milo had had a secret meeting that night.

‘Why? Were you planning to kill Delnar?’ *

‘No! Milo is from Thaemor, he was a Roadwarden. His honesty and loyalty is beyond doubt.’

‘He said that, did he; and you believe him?’ **

Tonni burst into tears.

‘Look, we’ll help free Milo, but you must give up this idea of swimming in the lake,’ said El Greco.

Tonni looked scared. ‘What will my father say? Although, Milo said he will take me west into the Purple Valley. Please, you must help him.’

20th Vaen

They went to the monastery, to see if they could speak to Milo. The blue-clad monks were willing to let them in to speak to him, but couldn’t see the reason why they needed to.

‘He will be judged in four days’

Milo was locked inside one of the cages in a room full of machinery and chains. He denied killing Delnar, he did argue with him about the food but Delnar was just trying to pick a fight. He admitted being with Tonni, she was attractive and, well … ***

In the Communal Hall, several more people were complaining of headaches, like a “buzzing” in their head.

21st Vaen

They spent the day asking around and investigating but didn’t really get anywhere. ****

That evening, in the Communal Hall; a scream came from outside. There had been another murder.

The victim was a 21 year-old male called Brycal, who ran messages for people. He had been stabbed five times with a long-bladed thin weapon.

El Greco found some tracks leading north; they were not human. Fluke used her Numenera knowledge and her book and found that headaches could be caused by numenera devices or some creatures.

‘Headaches! Mental static! I think it’s a Murden looking for revenge.’

The tracks led to an abandoned stables at the north of the town; Edgar went in and was hit by a blast of black light energy. The Murden was at the far end; Edgar charged in while El Greco shot arrows. Fluke tried a Mindslice onslaught, only to find that Murden were immune to Intellect attacks. Edgar was hit again by the black light; he was badly hurt but Fluke managed a return Onslaught. El Greco was shooting arrow after arrow; finally a well-placed shot from Fluke’s dart gun took the creature down. A quick search revealed that it was carrying a thin-bladed wavy dagger, carved on the hilt was a curious symbol, like two intertwined question marks, one of them inverted. No-one recognised what this was.

They dragged the body back to the monastery and, after some persuasion, the monks allowed Milo to go free.

22nd Vaen

Edgar went to the monastery to collect his axe; the monks had done a good job on it and a carved and polished piece of stellarite was set in the haft. ***** Returning to the Communal Hall they found that both Milo and Tonni were gone.

‘It looks like they’ve gone west, into the Purple Valley.’

‘Are we going to follow them?’

‘Why?’

‘Why not?’

To be continued …

===================================================================

GM notes

My first real attempt at setting up a murder mystery. I followed the Three Clue Rule and gave out plenty of information.

The Alexandrian was right! You don’t need to confuse players or feed them red herrings – they’ll do this themselves without any help.

* See what I mean?

** Really see what I mean?

***Do I really have to spell it out? Well, as it turned out, yes I did! (NB: I will get my revenge – one of the Glimmers published is Love and Sex in the Ninth World)

****AARRGH! Every time I gave them a clue, they managed to talk themselves out of its relevance.

***** I really need to decide what’s so special about stellarite and if it is going to have a long-term Game effect.

The Intrigues of the Queen 5

Episode Five – Southwards to Fallside

When The Moon Next Burns, The Five-Tongued Snake Will Rise from the Firth and Rachar’s Obelisk Will Fall.

18th Pretor, 405 AF

Spuddle, Sir Harcourt and Carbon were in a tavern known as “The Geometric Shape,” discussing their plans. * The prophecy referred to the obelisk falling so they decided to check this out. Some talking to the locals revealed that the story of the five-tongued snake was well-known; it was called the Skarasen and was said to have been summoned by the Mad Queen to destroy the place where the rebellion started.

                Deciding to check this further, they went to a building beneath the floating obelisk called the Hall of Glass; there, shifting synth panels displayed all manner of information. The creature was defeated by a Glaive called Granith Volveter, wielding a numenera weapon in the shape of a mace. The Skarasen first attacked in 360 AF; the revolution happened in 364 AF and Queen Sarromere was overthrown and King Rabbar tiKalloban took the throne.

                In 380 AF the Skarasen attacked Rachar again; Granith fought it using the Mace of Granith; he drove it off but was mortally wounded and died in the following year. It was expected that the Skarasen would attack again in 400 AF and Lord Terrhvyss, Lord Protector of Rachar made ready to fight it. However, the expected attack did not happen and it was said that Granith must have killed it in the battle that cost him his life.

‘Maybe they forgot to account for the leap year?’ **

They approached the curator of the Hall, a strange humanoid with a leathery skin who appeared to be sitting on a brazier of glowing coals. His name was Baurn; he acknowledged that there was a way up to the obelisk but saw no fit reason why they should be allowed up. Spuddle hissed at him but they decided not to push the issue and left the Hall.

Rachar grows in a ruin from a prior age, wood and stone buildings stand amongst crystalline walls and angular towers of stone, steel and glass. Some of the towers and buildings have doorways; most of these are barred as they are deemed too dangerous or unstable to enter. The tops of the towers glow, slowly fading from blue to green and back. Living amid machine and structures of the past, the city is no stranger to the weird. A floating structure of metal and synth hovers high above the city, at intervals on the streets were vague humanoid-sized shaped of light in various colours; these moved occasionally but appeared to do nothing else. They noticed that the townsfolk stepped around them.

Hey headed towards Cieto Rachar, the citadel and seat of the ruling Lord Terrhvyss. The citadel stood on a huge artificial hill rising out of the sea; this is where Granith fought the Skarasen. However, on rounding a corner, they ran into a mob of rioting farmers, protesting about the failure of the billam crop for the second Cycle running. The King was doing nothing and they were starving. For some reason, the sight of Spuddle enraged the mob: –

‘Monsters walk the streets whilst honest people starve!’

‘We’ll throw the beast back in the sea where it belongs’

Sir Harcourt tried to reason with the mob but to no avail; Spuddle was getting pounded as more and more of the mob joined in. Loud whistles and horns announced the arrival of the Town Watch.

‘Quickly, this way and into here!’ called a voice. The speaker was a tall man wearing yellow, grey and purple robes with a triangular headdress of a priest. The broke and ran from the mob; Spuddle throwing the last few bodily aside.

The priest led then inside the temple building, which was a series of tetrahedrons linked together.

‘This is the temple of Bar-o-Tua, the Sister of Fate. I am Hepesh.

‘What do you know about the Skarasen and the prophecy?’

‘Prophecy?’

‘Someone in the “Shape” told us a prophecy he had heard in Gtharren – When the moon next burns, the five-tongued snake will rise from the firth and Rachar’s obelisk will fall.’

‘In the “Shape” you say? Who was this person?’

‘He called himself Gerry or Garry.’

Hepesh rose and pulled back a curtain to reveal a mural on the wall. It depicted a huge creature bursting out of the sea. it was serpentine with a maw ringed by tentacles. Facing it was an armoured figure carrying a two-hand mace of a curious design.

‘I would ask a favour of you’ ***

‘I notice that two of you are injured. We have the means here to replace your missing eyes.’ ****

‘So what’s the deal?’ asked Sir Harcourt. ‘Also, what’s in it for me? I have two eyes.’

‘I could always eat one’ said Spuddle.

‘Two days south of here, on the coast, is a factory-village called Fallside. One of my clergy is there; he has an item for me. I want you to go to Fallside and bring back the item. In return, I will provide you with eyes.

19th Pretor

They left Rachar and headed south along the coast; before they left Hepesh gave a blessing: –

‘Sister of Fate – What Fate decrees – Fate will be – As all must always be’

They detoured down to the docks to ask if anyone remembered the attack of the Skarasen

‘Aye, I remembers it well.’ The speaker was a grizzled old sea dog. ‘I were just a sea lad the first time; it came boiling out of the sea on the wings of a storm, but Granith stood there atop the citadel with that mace. Hours they fought for, with the seas lashing the harbour; but Granith prevailed and the beast retreated.’

‘Mighty thirsty work this.’

‘The second time, we was warned, but took no heed. The storm clouds had been gathering; at dusk a bolt from the blue struck the citadel and the beast was there. Granith faced it again but it was stronger; somehow he drove it off but was bad broken.’

‘Thank you. One last thing – can you remember what day the Skarasen attacked?’

‘Both times it were the Night of the Burning Moon’

19th – 20th Pretor *****

The path south to Fallside led along some cliff edges, at one point Sir Harcourt had to yell a warning as the cliff edge started to crumble. Spuddle and Carbon leapt forward to safety. The night of 20th Pretor they met with a merchant named Liem, a seller of rare fungus. The aneen pulling his cart made to bolt when it saw Spuddle but Carbon transformed his left arm into a shield and blocked its flight. They camped that night, Liem snapped off some of the fungus growing on his body and offered it round.

‘It is called Flame of the Klang and it is both delicious and nutritious.’

Only Carbon tried it, he agreed about the taste. That night they were plagued with swarms of Laak that must have been nesting nearby.

21st Pretor

Liem headed north towards Rachar, after an hour they saw Fallside in the distance on the cliff edge. A large oval building dominated the skyline, various chimneys belched smoke and steam. A large slipway extended down to the ocean from out of large pipes dripped either green sludge or red sludge, flowing down into the sea. A large metal pipe entered the building from out of the ground on the opposite side.

Some distance from the factory was a collection of buildings, grouped into either red or green painted.

There was no-one moving about.

To be continued …

====================================================

GM notes

* I let the PC’s come up with the names of places a lot of the time.

**There is no need for a leap year. At some time, the Earth’s orbit was tinkered with (much as the Sun must have been) and every year is exactly 336 days long. The Moon has also been moved in its orbit and 9th World days are 28 hours long.

*** (Cue enormous groans and gnashing of teeth from GM, because HOG Ben always forces me to say “favour”.) It stems from a dreadful experience we had with playing Starfinder a few years ago. It was run by a visiting GM who had asked to run it for the HOG. Basically, it was one huge railroad from set encounter to the next. We, as PC’s, had no free-will AT ALL. It didn’t matter what we did or said; come hell or high water, we were getting that encounter. And, it was always phrased as “I want you to do a favour for me”. (Cue: – set piece battle)

“OK, we’ve done it. So what do you know about …?”

“I can’t help you. You need to speak to X”

X – “I want you to do a favour for me”

(etc.) – repeat ad nauseum

To be fair, we stuck it for about six weeks, then he dropped the bombshell that he expected the whole Game to last about 18 months of continuous weekly play(!) At this point we (respectfully) parted ways.

However, the memory has tarnished a very useful phrase!!

**** Spuddle and Carbon each lost an eye to the Living Conduit in the Great Machine.

***** Again this was done by a montage; the HOG are getting quite good at these.

Journal of the Wayfarers 3.8

Episode 3.8 – The Globe of Judgement

The Wayfarers are travelling north to Thaeling Lake; having left Jon not-the-Blacksmith in the care of Nelsed the Healer in Leydan. After witnessing the aftermath of a Vape attack on a caravan of Queb they pressed on and, cresting a low rise, saw Thaeling Lake and its leaning tower in the distance.

17th Vaen, Wane

They had been walking for some time, Thaeling Lake was further away than it had seemed. The valley had become steeper; it was as if they were walking down a smooth surface.

‘That’s odd,’ commented Fluke. ‘It should be dark, yet we’re still in twilight. And, it’s warm. This is Vaen, it should be cold.’

They arrived at a small pool, surrounded by vegetation and small creatures. They looked like purple chickens with tentacles. Edgar picked one up; it didn’t try to escape.

‘Squid-chickens? Squickens. I’ll call this one Jeremy.’

A short distance from the pool was a woven wooden hut with a thatched roof. Standing by it was a figure wearing a black-cowl and carrying a tipped staff. The cowl covered the face of the figure. Edgar called out to them but there was no answer; when he approached the figure they merely turned, entered the hut and closed the door.

‘How rude.’

It was still twilight but they decided to make camp, on the opposite side of the pool from the hut. Fluke objected to sharing a tent with Jeremy but Edgar sneaked the squicken in when she was asleep

They all awoke to find that it was still twilight and warm, even though they knew twelve hours had passed. The black figure was standing by the hut. They ignored it, packed up and headed for Thaeling Lake. After a short distance they came to a small pool, surrounded by vegetation and small creatures, near to the pool was a hut with a black figure standing by it. Some experimentation proved their suspicions, they were caught in a pocket dimension.

El Greco and Edgar approached the figure; this time it did not move away. As they got closer they were aware of a buzzing, like mental static, in their head that made concentration difficult. El Greco got a good look at the figure.

‘Ahhh! – That’s not human. It’s a Mud-bird, a Murden.’ She caught a glimpse of more moving inside the hut.’

Edgar held out the ghost voices box he had picked up on the Krai ship.* The Murden made to take it off him, then pointed to each of the Wayfarers and scratched three lines in the drit with its staff, then pointed to each of them again and held out its hand.

‘It wants a cypher or something.’ They handed over some of their oddities they were carrying; the Murden entered the hut and closed the door.

‘What the …!’

Just then the sky cleared and became morning daylight and a wave of cold air washed over them. They grabbed their stuff (and Jeremy) and ran towards Thaeling Lake.

18th Vaen, 405th Cycle AF

Thaeling Lake was a moderate-sized village, wooden thatched huts clustered around the leaning tower of the monastery. The villagers were out in force, many putting up decorations around the houses; several were fishing in the (impossibly blue) lake, and here and there were blue-robed monks.

‘Where is the nearest tavern?’

‘There is no tavern,’ was the reply. ’We have a communal hall where food and drink is readily available; help yourself. It is customary to leave a gift of shins, or food you have caught, or a cypher, or pledge service for a job.’

‘A shin obligationthen. I see.’ **

Edgar was looking at the decorations that the villagers were putting up around the houses.

‘We are preparing for the holiday – the Swimming of the Maidens,’ said a villager. ‘I am Garlin the fisher, my daughter Tonni will be taking part.’

‘What happens?’

‘Young maidens swim out into the lake; the spirit takes one of them and her family enjoy special privileges for the coming Cycle.’

‘Spirit?’

‘Yes, there is a spirit that lives in the lake that watches over us.’

Edgar was outraged. ‘You appease it by human sacrifice?’ Garlin was confused. ‘No, the girls volunteer; no-one is forced to take part.’ ***

He stepped closer. ‘In fact, we’re trying for an advantage. I always pay a toll of one fish I catch back to the spirit. Tonni will carry a fish with her when she goes into the water; the spirit will probably notice her.’

Edgar was lost for words.

At the communal hall they ate fish, caught locally and seasoned with herbs with root vegetables. Edgar talked with the village blacksmith and explained that he wanted a gem made out of stellarite set in the haft of his axe. The smith advised him to speak with the monks as gem cutting was not one of his skills

‘I am Milo, an explorer.’ The speaker was a dark-haired man wearing travel clothes and carrying an explorer’s pack. ‘I’m going west into the Purple Valley to meet with my companions; I stopped off here to see the fabled monastery.’

At the base of the tower they were met by a blue-robed monk who led them into the robing room.

‘All visitors must wear blue robes.’ ‘What are the grey robes for?’ ‘They have another purpose.’

They passed two aneen harnessed to a rotating shaft powering a series of gears, from somewhere came the rattle of chains and machinery. The monk led then to stairs leading upwards; El Greco looked back to see a group of Murden being dragged into the room and through a door at the far end.

“What’s all that about?” she thought, then hurried to catch up with the others.

The stairs led up along the slope of the tower; there were glassed-in windows and at intervals the stairs opened out into rooms. They say sleeping quarters, a refectory, a locked room of records and a library. Eventually they came to a cloister-like area; a large pool held many lit floating candles.

‘There is one candle for each of us,’ explained the monk. ‘It only goes out when we die.’

El Greco glared at Edgar. ‘Don’t even think about it!’ she warned.

‘Above here is the Hall of Judgement. There will be a judging later, for the moment feel free to pass your time in the refectory or the library. I am afraid that access is not permitted to the room of records.’

‘What do you know about the Swimming of the Maidens?’ asked El Greco. ‘Is that anything to do with you?’ The monk shook his head. ‘That is a ceremony the villagers have devised.’

‘How long has the monastery been here?’

‘I believe it was built around one hundred Cycles ago, but no-one really knows. Our Order was founded by Queen Whenith Sarromere around fifty Cycles ago.’

The refectory served fish stewed with herbs; then they went back up to the library. Fluke found some texts with general information; then she came across an illustration.

‘Look at this.’

The illustration showed a huge sea creature, serpentine with a huge maw surrounded by five tentacles. Facing it was an armoured figure carrying a mace. In the background was a city.

‘We’ve seen this before,’ said Fluke. El Greco cast her mind back to the passages underneath the Gourd – “A large 3-level atrium containing a huge statue of a serpentine sea creature with five thick tentacles surrounding its mouth. Facing it was a statue of a man wearing armour, holding aloft a serrated mace.” ‘What does the book say about it?’

In 364 AF there was a revolt against the Queen, led by the current King’s father Rabbar tiKalloban. The Queen had become obsessed with the power of dreams and was ruling by them, sending dreams as rewards and dreadful nightmares as punishments. It was said that the nightmares were so bad that they could kill. Rabbar tiKalloban raised an army in Rachar; the Queen caused a sea monster called the Skarasen to attack the city in 360 AF. It was driven off by a hero called Granith wielding an artefact mace of power. The Skarasen attacked Rachar again in 380 AF, again it was driven off but this time Granith was mortally wounded. ****

‘It’s 405 AF now. Did the Skarasen attack Rachar in 400 AF?’

‘It doesn’t say so.’

A loud bell chimed and the monk returned. ‘It is time to take our seats in the Hall of Judgement.’

The Hall of Judgement was in the top part of the tower, overhanging the lake. There were banked circular tiers of seating; in the ceiling was a suspended globe of white crystal surrounded by a complex arrangement of chains and pulleys. The room filled with blue-clad monks; finally the High Abbot entered and took his seat at the Bench.

There was a clanking of chains and a cage containing a Murden was hauled out of a chute, to hand suspended in the centre of the hall underneath the globe. The High Abbot spoke in a sonorous voice: –

‘Foul creature. You are here to be judged by the Globe of Judgement under the laws of the realm of Iscobal. You are charged with larceny and robbery of honest travellers by means of foul deceit and trickery. You will now be judged.’

The globe flashed electric blue.

‘The judgement is guilty.’

The bottom of the cage opened, at the same time the floor opened up a moon pool down to the lake far below. The Murden fell and vanished beneath the surface.

Twice more the cages with Murden entered the Hall and the sentence was guilty.

‘Has the globe ever flashed any other colours?’ Edgar asked the monk. ‘No,’ was the reply, ‘why would it? Either they are guilty or not guilty.’

The Judging over, Edgar finally got to ask about his axe and the stellarite, it was agreed that the monks could do the work, the agreed price was what was left over of the stellarite.

Outside, it was Wane and growing dark. They passed Garlin the fisherman who was packing up, he took one fish from his catch and tossed it back into the lake.

‘For the spirit,’ he explained. ‘By the bye, have you seen Tonni, she was supposed to meet me.’

They rested overnight in a spare house.

19th Vaen 405 AF

They awoke to an uproar. The body of a man had been found by the lake, stabbed several times. His name was Delnar and he was a farm hand.

‘They’ve arrested Milo for the murder and he’s been taken to the monastery for judgement!’

To be continued …

======================================================================

GM notes

*His term for the translator device the Krai used.

** A shin obligation is a pledge to undertake a job or render a service in return for something; they are often used to settle debts. They are very common in the Steadfast and to break one would be out of the ordinary to most people.

*** I have to say, I was a little unsure when I set this up.

It came off a random roll to see what was unusual about the village- a ritual or custom that outsiders might be unfamiliar with. Then I decide to see where the PC’s went with it.

                Lisa –‘It’s the Hunger Games’

**** This is a major plot point and revelation!

Journal of the Wayfarers 3.7

Episode 3.7 – Looking for Herbs and a Goodbye to Leydan

Having successfully re-ignited the Gourd, the Wayfarers settled down in Black’s Tavern for a well-earned drink and food. Just then the door to the tavern opened and a man entered. He was bald and hairless, with a very pale skin and completely naked. He looked around with a vacant stare; then walked purposefully to the where the Wayfarers sat.

‘I am Jon the Blacksmith.’

11th Vaen, 405th Cycle AF, evening

‘I don’t believe you’, said Edgar hotly. ‘You are fake Jon not-the Blacksmith. Where did you come from?’

‘From out of the ground’, was the reply. Fluke, meanwhile, had got some spare clothes off Black and at least the man was decent.

‘From out of the ground?’ said El Greco. ‘What do you remember, how did you get there?’

‘I have no memories, I remember nothing. I am Jon the Blacksmith because that is my name. I climbed out beside the smoking pot and came here because I knew I had to.’ *

‘You are fake. What do you know about Sn’rabbits?’ **

Finally, Nelsed the Healer joined them. ‘I’ll take him in and look after him.’ *** The Wayfarers nodded agreement; ‘however it does mean I won’t be able to do my usual foraging for herbs. Perhaps you could oblige?’

They made ready for the expedition, buying rations and a tent to sleep in. Edgar asked Jolen if he had a New Clear Weapon; Jolen looked puzzled at this and said that he once sold a sword made of strong glass; was this what he meant?

Nelsed told them she would like as much Valerian as they could find, plus Yellow Lotus flowers from by the water. She would also like, if they could find it, Red-Topped Fungus; it’s a large mushroom that grows in caves. She warned them to be careful; it was poisonous. ****

12th Vaen, cold

They woke to find the tavern had still not been tidied; they asked Black a few questions about the pixie but he didn’t really know anything. They headed out east.

In the woods to the east of Leydan, within a large clearing they found clumps of Valerian which they picked. They were unnerved by the avian creatures perched in the trees; they rocked backwards and forwards, making a loud “ticking” sound. Fortunately, at sunset the birds fell quiet, so they camped here.

13th Vaen, very cold

They headed further into the woods; around mid-day they came across a rock outcropping with several caves. El Greco examined the ground and determined that there were tracks of many clawed feet in and around the cave entrances. Undeterred, Edgar lit a glowglobe and went in. A gold beetle-like creature reared up in front of him and sprayed out a fine mist of a musky scent. Edgar sneezed and struck at the creature with his axe; the creature hissed and sprayed out a stronger scent. A horde of beetles poured out of the darkness and swarmed Edgar, scratching and biting. He retreated, they followed him outside where Fluke and El Greco were also sprayed and attacked.

‘It’s some sort of scent, marking us as a target’ cried Fluke, shooting her dart gun at the nearest one.

‘I think these things are called Rapicaw’. El Greco tried shooting with her bow, but they were difficult to hit. ‘They can be dangerous in very large numbers.’

‘They’re pretty dangerous now,’ yelled Edgar. ‘I’ve been badly bitten.’

Seeing more Rapicaw pouring out of the caves, they took flight and ran. A few Rapicaw pursued them but they were easily dealt with. They returned to the clearing with the tick-birds and camped for the night.

14th Vaen, very cold

The following morning the musk had worn off but they decided not to go back to the caves. Exploring in another direction they discovered a stream with Yellow Lotus plants growing. They gathered several plants.

‘Look,’ said El Greco., pointing at some big clawed footprints. ‘Something big passes comes this way often.’

They decided to call the expedition off and returned to Leydan, arriving on the evening of the 15th. They stopped at the tavern overnight. The pixie had still not returned.

‘Did you reward it in any way?’

‘No’

‘Maybe it’s upset and has gone on strike’

16th Vaen, snowing

They delivered the plants to Nelsed; they wanted to know why she hadn’t warned them about the Rapicaw. She replied that she didn’t know about them; they weren’t there the last time she went to the caves.

‘What’s leaving the big tracks by the stream? Is it a Sn’rabbit?’ Nelsed just looked blankly at Edgar.

They decided to move on and head north for Thaeling Lake. They settled up with Black, who asked them to look out for a supply train bringing more ale. They headed north; as they passed the Gourd Jolen met them.

‘The Gourd has not spat out any cyphers since it re-lit!’

‘You know the way in, go and sort it yourself’ *****

At Wane, they found themselves at a junction in the road; the north road led to Thaeling Lake; a side road led west towards the hills. From ahead came a glow of a glowglobe/heatbox; three large Queb (large furry serpentine creatures often used as pack animals, especially in the Pytharon Empire) were curled around a dome tent. As they watched, a man in a hooded robe came out of the tent and checked on the animals. He had warty, knobbled skin; noticing them he called out in a friendly voice –

‘Fellow travellers on the road!  Come and join us in some food on this cold night. I am Liem, a seller of rare fungi.’

The man advanced towards them; they saw that he had various outcroppings of fungus growing on him.

‘Errr …’ stammered El Greco.

‘Come,’ said Liem, ‘do not be alarmed.’ He broke off a piece of growth off his arm. ‘Try this, it is Flame of the Klang’, it is delicious and full of nutrients.’

‘No thank you,’ said El Greco, her stomach heaving. ‘Where are you going?’

‘We have come from Thaeling Lake and are heading for Leydan. There is news; the billam crop has failed again for the second Cycle and the farmers are angry. Why, things were better under the Mad Queen Whenith.’

A voice came from the tent – ‘Quiet you fool, they could be the Masked!’

‘So? Calavel’s Eyes Merlid, at least under the Queen the people ate.’

‘Yes, but the dreams, the horrible dreams. People paid the price.’

The Wayfarers camped across the road from Liem and the Queb.

They took turns guarding; during El Greco’s watch she thought she glimpsed a flicker of movement out of the corner of her eye. A thin, eerie howling split the air. Edgar joined El Greco.

‘I’ve heard this before, maybe in a dream.’ ******

17th Vaen

The following morning one of the Queb was dead; slashed into a thousand pieces by thinner-than razor sharp cuts.

‘Vapes,’ declared Edgar. You can only see them edge-on. They are incredibly sharp-edged.’

That evening, they crested a rise and dropped down into a valley. Ahead lay Thaeling Lake, a perfectly circular lake with a cluster of buildings on the left bank. A tall tower leaned out over the lake at an impossibly steep angle, from the top of the tower shone a blue light.

To be continued …

=========================================================================================

GM notes

* This particular exchange went on for about 20 minutes!

** Edgar is convinced he is being followed by a snake-like rabbit monster called a Sn’rabbit.

*** Cue – “I bet you will”. Shocking! I didn’t believe Jenny (my wife) was capable of such innuendo!

**** I was having fun with Titan Herbal (AFF)

***** Wow! This was a bit harsh!

****** I allow PC’s to use knowledge from previous (often un-related Games) in order to build up their Ninth World Knowledge (NWK.) In this case, Ben has met Vapes before; in the very first Numenera Game I ran

Journal of the Wayfarers 3.6

Episode 3.6 – Relight My Fire

In the village of Leydan the artefact-device called the Gourd had gone out; it was no longer emitting smoke and flames. The Wayfarers were persuaded by Jolen the Cypher-seller to investigate as he knew a way inside, although he was not prepared to go himself. After several encounters with Chance Moths and humanoid insects called Coccitan, they reached a lower level where the throb and hum of machinery sounded …

A short passage led into a large hexagonal chamber with several triangular vats of grup, this looked different to the stuff they had found before; it was translucent-grey. A central area of the floor glowed red; providing heat to the vats; Fluke was worried that the red glow was a sign of an impending overload but soon established that it was normal. Over the vats, a slowly rotating machine was scooping up grup and feeding it into the base of the large red tube. Fluke examined the grup and determined that it was a colloid of nano machines that would dissolve and break down anything placed in it.

‘This this could be why the gourd does what it does; it’s producing new numenera. But why?’

A ladder led down to a lower chamber that smelt of hot metal. Machinery surrounded a large clear tube that held glowing red bubbles that floated up to the top, turned blue and drifted back down in a constant cycle. They looked for controls but there were no obvious ones.

‘So maybe this is the thing that’s heating the vats.’

Beyond here, a ladder led up; this turned out to be a very long climb; at one point Fluke slipped and nearly fell, but El Greco caught her and Edgar half-carried her the rest of the way.

‘We must be getting close to the surface again.’

‘What’s with all the climbing; you’d think they could have put lifts in?’ *

The ladder ended in a hexagonal chamber filled with flitting Chance Moths; there reason was plain. A jumbled heap of numenera and rubbish was fused together with glowing green mucus – the Chance Moth nest! Edgar and El Greco still had their knowledge of biology ** and determined that the moths were harmless unless attacked. Two passages led off; Fluke’s map indicated the one they should take and they came to a large chamber with the red tube. A ring of electrodes and coils surrounded it; caught inside the ring was a dead Coccitan.

‘Don’t touch it!’ yelled Fluke as Edgar went to grab the insectoid. Taking two arrows off El Greco, she carefully stabbed the creature, then used them to lever it over the coils. Immediately the apparatus sprang into life; electricity arced out to strike the red tube; there was a dull roaring that slowly increased in volume.

‘I think we’ve done it’ ***

Following Fluke’s map they made their (somewhat long) way back to the entrance; again Fluke nearly fell down a shaft but was able to save herself using Hover.

Outside, the gourd was indeed alight again. Jolen was overjoyed and promised to stand them drinks at Black’s Tavern, plus a selection of cyphers he had.

Later that evening

El Greco asked Black where he got his beer from. Black told her that he had a brew house out the back; but the really good stuff came from Thaeling Lake to the north. Jolen brought back some cyphers; Edgar got a black tablet that would help his missile accuracy; Fluke got a wristband that would record and store data for twenty-eight hours and El Greco gained a glass cube that showed an image of a ruined city when viewed one way; or the image of the complete city when viewed the other way.

Just then the door to the tavern opened and a man entered. He was bald and hairless, with a very pale skin and completely naked. He looked around with a vacant stare; then walked purposefully to the where the Wayfarers sat.

‘I am Jon the Blacksmith.’ ****

To be continued …

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

GM notes

* There is a reason

** From last session

*** There was supposed to be another encounter at this point with the Coccitan but we’d had so many power issues and I didn’t want to risk the Game going on another session. Also, I wanted Jon the Blacksmith to be the cliffhangar.

**** Ok, some explanations. Ben is playing Edgar as a simple loon. He is convinced that they are being stalked by a dreadful monster called a Snorabbit and, since he found about stellarite, he has been looking for someone called Jon the Blacksmith who can make something out of stellarite for him.

Don’t push too far // Your dreams are china in your hand // Don’t wish too hard // Because they may come true // And you can’t help them // You don’t know what you might // Have set upon yourself

A short and messy session as we kept having power blackouts that meant we had to reboot the internet and re-establish the Facebook link with Lisa.

The Intrigues of the Queen 4

Episode Four – Pawns of Prophecy

In the valley of Gtharren the characters learnt of a prophecy –

When The Moon Next Burns, The Five-Tongued Snake Will Rise from the Firth and Rachar’s Obelisk Will Fall.

Accordingly, they set out for Rachar*

They left Gtharren on 12th Pretor; they calculated it would take around six days to get to Rachar. Sir Harcourt did some hunting to gain some rations for the journey.

13th Pretor

They had made good progress and were camping for the night in a small copse. Without warning, a chorus of loud screams burst out around them and a group of people dressed in yellow and grey outfits burst out of the woods and attacked.

‘All who know the secret must die!’

The melee was furious; the attackers would not be reasoned with (‘what secret?’) and pressed the attack regardless. Sir Harcourt was, despite his sword skill, just holding his own with two of them.

‘All who know the secret must die!’

Spuddle attempted to look menacing to scare them **; when this failed he smacked one attacker across the clearing into a tree and bit another one in the head until it was dead.

‘All who know the secret must die!’

‘SQUAAARRK!’

Carbon closed in, confident in his armour to protect him, however the tip of a dagger found a chink and to his horror he realised the dagger was poisoned with some kind of hallucinogenic poison. His vision started to blur and he started to see in multiple angles. He managed to finish off his attackers and sat down to try and clear his head.

‘All who know the secret must …’

Sir Harcourt KO’d the last one and took him prisoner. The attacker was wearing a yellow and grey tunic, cut to leave the right shoulder bare. Tattooed on the right shoulder was a curious symbol; the same one they had found in the ruined house and in the valley of Gtharren. The daggers dripped a purple fluid; they left these alone.

When the prisoner recovered; Sir Harcourt questioned him, with Spuddle in attendance.

‘Who sent you?’

‘All who know the secret must die!’

‘But we don’t know a secret.’

‘You will still die’

Sir Harcourt thought a moment. ‘Wait. If all who know the secret must die, then surely you also must die if you know the secret.’

‘Yesss …’, hissed the man; his eyes rolled up until the whites showed and he slumped down; dead.

‘What! He’s just died – how? Just because it was suggested to him? What the frizz is this secret?’ ***

Leaving the bodies of the attackers behind; but with a sketch of the tattoo, they continued towards Rachar.

16th Pretor was the night of the full moon; they were on a hillside overlooking the river Schade. The following day they would descend into the valley to follow the river west downstream to Rachar.

‘Look!’ squawked Spuddle, pointing. Above the river, bilious green smog had arisen; it swirled around for a time, and then headed off purposefully downstream. ****

18th Pretor

Approaching Rachar from the south-east, they remarked on the circular platform floating high above the centre of the city (‘do you think that’s the obelisk?’) The city was walled; the walls were made of a metallic stone with a random tracery of wires embedded inside. The south-east gate was two metal towers; a blue field of force flickered between them. Two wardens, clad in blue stood there.

‘Greetings travellers; welcome to Rachar. Have you travelled far?’

‘We have come from Mulen.’

‘Our fair capital. How is the King? Apparently the assassins have been caught and executed. A dreadful business. The Queen would not have permitted this to happen.’

He activated some controls on a wristband, the field of force vanished and they entered the city. They headed for the nearest tavern and settled down to make some plans.

To be continued …

————————————————————————————

GM notes

* Admittedly, their motives for going there are unclear, but it was their decision. Spuddle is of the opinion that if the creature is a sea creature then he can probably eat it.

** As menacing as a 10’ tall mutated Skeane with a beak and tentacles can look (Emphasis – by Spuddle (now please stop pecking me!!))

*** They still haven’t made the connection with the prophecy, despite the giant hint with the symbol.

**** I asked for a strange event; this is what they came up with. This actually fits perfectly with a little side adventure I have prepared.

An application of Chandler’s Law worked well here, although they still haven’t made the connection with the prophecy.

Their next plans include doing something to get more shins (money)

Journal of the Wayfarers 3.5

Episode 3.5 – The Gourd *

The Wayfarers returned to Leydan having successfully located Callo, the missing son of Hamas; however they were mourning the loss of Drahl, killed by an orgulous in the valley of purple flowers. With Stark fast approaching, they settled down for a few days of carousing in Black’s tavern.

11th Vaen, 405th Cycle AF

‘Something’s wrong.’ Fluke entered the main room of the tavern. ‘Look! Nothing’s been tidied up or put away. What’s happened to the pixie?’ At that point Black came in and went straight up to Edgar. ‘You seski! What have you done? Have you been messing around?’ Before Edgar could answer the door burst open and Jolen rushed in. ‘Have you seen! The gourd has gone out.’

Outside, a few villagers were looking at the gourd, which was not spewing out its usual smoke and flames. Jolen begged the Wayfarers to investigate and said that he knew a way inside; Edgar was suspicious and asked why he’d never gone inside himself.

‘Me? I’m not the adventuring type. I buy and sell numenera.’

.Jolen lifted aside a section of turf inside the wall to reveal a hexagonal hatch; this opened to reveal a hexagonal shaft leading down. Ladders and handholds were set into three of the walls. They lit glowglobes and descended the shaft into a hexagonal chamber shin-deep in white talc-like dust. Another shaft led down and a hexagonal tunnel led off. This led to a chamber with a thick red tube extending from floor to ceiling. They surmised that this might link to the gourd; El Greco’s tracking sense confirmed this was probably the case.

[Narrators note – this is a vertical dungeon crawl, so I’m just going to summarise what the major events and encounters were. There were a lot of vertical shafts to climb up and down; as the Game went on, fatigue began to set in.] **

> A chamber with cabbage-like plants that opened and closed at odd intervals. When they were open, small fairy-like creatures swarmed in the air above them for a short while until the plant closed again. Later, they returned to this chamber to find several fluorescent-green moths feasting on the fairies. Edgar and El Greco were stung and found that they had gained knowledge about biology. They were able to deduce that the green moths were Chance Moths and the cabbage fairies were symbiotes of some kind. The sting of the Chance Moth could produce strange effects in those stung, not always beneficial.

>A large 3-level atrium containing a huge statue of a serpentine sea creature with five thick tentacles surrounding its mouth. Facing it was a statue of a man wearing armour, holding aloft a serrated mace. There didn’t seem to be any explanation for this being here.

> A similar 3-level atrium on a different level (as far as they can tell anyway), smelt of rot. It was festooned with cast-off skins and husks of large humanoid insects. Yellow-ochre roaches crawled everywhere along with larger creatures that they identified as Coccictan. Edgar tried to intimidate one and a brief melee broke out, including the group being engulfed in a huge swarm of roaches, so they retreated. ***

> A large hexagonal chamber with a large vat of yeasty, treacle-like goo. Fluke determined that it was called grup, although she couldn’t determine what, if anything it did. A catwalk crossed it to a ladder down at the far side; Edgar slipped and fell into the vat. He had the sensation that the grup was crawling all over him; testing and examining. He pulled himself out of the vat, the grup sloughed off and flowed back into the vat.

> Eventually they came to a four-way intersection, a passage left and right with a ladder shaft up and down. It was the first time they’d seen this configuration. They were also conscious of a heavy vibration through the walls and a very strong smell of grup (yeast.) ****

To be continued …

==============================

GM Notes

* This was prompted by a comment from El Greco at the end of 3.4 – ‘we really don’t know what the gourd does.’

** The whole map was vertical with a few horizontal tunnels. The central key was the red tube, which they correctly deduced ran up to the gourd. However they soon found that to get to some areas, you had to go down in order to go up.

*** HOG Ben has a healthy respect for swarms (having played too much Savage Worlds.) Numenera swarms aren’t quite that bad.

**** Like Marmite (anyone who lives in or has visited Burton-on-Trent knows what I mean.)

The Wayfarers suddenly seem to be shy about combat, especially Edgar (who should really be charging in.) Numenera  doesn’t have an encounter balancing system (a throwback to OSR), but three Tier One characters should have been able to take on five Level 3 Coccictan + a Roach swarm with a reasonable chance of success.

Having said that, Numenera is not necessarily about combat; it’s more about exploring and the unknown/ wonder.

The Clock System

I was experimenting with a system for encounters. In Numenera, the GM does not roll any dice; however I wanted a system to chuck some random stuff in that might surprise even me (as the GM).

So, I tied it in to the real-time on the clock.

> In the cabbage-plant chamber, if the (real-time) was between 30 minutes and 50 minutes past the hour, then there were Chance-Moths in the chamber, feeding on the fairies

> The effect of the sting of the chance moth was tied to a 5-minute window

30/35/40/45/50, each time slot held a different effect

> At certain locations, if the time was between twenty-past and twenty-two, then there was a (pre-determined) encounter.

So far it seems to work

Journal of the Wayfarers 3.4

Episode 3.4 – The Orgulous

In return for a block of stellarite, they Wayfarers have headed back west into the hills and the purple valley to look for Callo, the son of Hamas the mining engineer. As they reached the place where they had crashed the shuttle; they saw one of the Oorgolian Soldiers standing guard next to it …

View Post

The Oorgolian turned towards them and a small egg-shape fired out of a projector on its back towards them. They hastily dived out of the way but Fluke was unlucky; she slipped on the wet ground and the detonation went off right next to her, blowing a crater in the ground. Edgar drew his pickaxe and ran forwards, the robot raised an energy weapon and loosed off three shots, one of which hit Edgar. El Greco shot arrows at the robot and Edgar attacked it in close combat; one of his blows missed and the axe-head sank deep into the shuttle; damaging something as a torrent of flame and smoke poured out. Finally, El Greco pulled off another superb critical hit (like the one on the Krai orbit ship), the Oorgolian staggered, tried to retreat into the shuttle, then collapsed in a shower of sparks.

Ignoring the obvious signs that something was about to blow in the shuttle, Edgar followed the Oorgolian inside and ascertained that it was trying to get to a pod at the rear; also there was no sign that Callo had been there. He made it out just as the power core exploded, creating a spectacular mushroom cloud. *

El Greco scouted around but found no tracks that Callo could have made. They decided to head back east and up into the hills where they had found the strange truncated conical hills.

2nd Vaen – Cold and clear

There had been some light snow again, but the plateau was clear of snow. On the plateau were spaced twelve regular hills; they were truncated cones about thirty feet tall, covered in the same short green grass. They were set in a regular three by four grid, each one a hundred yards from its neighbour. Edgar struck the nearest one with his pickaxe; there was a jarring “CLUNK” and jolt as the pick struck solid metal.

El Greco and Fluke looked for tracks; they found none but then heard Edgar yelling for help. He had decided to climb up the cliffs to take a tetrahydra egg ** and he was being attacked by two tetrahydra. He managed the descent, but more tetrahydra were flocking and joining the attack. Fluke retreated into the strange hills; El Greco kept calling to Edgar to put the egg down; although Edgar seemed to be convinced that the tetrahydra would keep attacking him anyway. Finally, amidst a large flock of the tetra, he did put the egg down. They scooped it up and flew off; the last one dropped a huge amount of poop on Edgar’s head.

They had a discussion and decided to return to the crater that was once the shuttle, although Edgar was doubtful that they would find anything and opined that they should return to Leydan.

3rd Vaen – Light snow and frost

Back at the landing site, El Greco expressed a concern.

‘I know something about the calendar of the Steadfast. Today is 3rd Vaen. In four days it will be the beginning of Stark, when even the daylight is dim and the temperatures are freezing. We cannot afford to be out in the open then. If we do not find Callo today, we must return to Leydan.’ ***

‘Look!’ exclaimed Fluke, pointing. ‘Tracks. Someone has come from the north and headed that way.’ ‘Booted feet, possibly human’ said El Greco.

The tracks led north-west, after some time they descended into a valley filled with the purple flowers. Faintly on the breeze came the sound of a chorus of voices singing; there was an area of ground with scattered large outcroppings of bulbous rock, here and there amongst the rocks were clumps of round spheroids, each roughly about the size of a basketball. They resembled transparent iridescent soap bubbles and as the breeze caressed them, a shivering pattern of colours rippled across their surface and they emitted the strange, unearthly singing. A young man was there with a cloth sack; he was trying to collect one of the bubbles but every time he touched one it disintegrated with a sigh, like a million tiny shards of glass breaking.

‘Calaval’s eye’s’ exclaimed Callo (they recognised him from his description his father had given.) ‘Why can’t I get one? Miri will be so pleased if I bring one of these back for her.’

El Greco stepped forward and started to say something when suddenly a loud scream split the air. One of the bulbous rocks had peeled open to reveal a circular tooth-lined maw; a cluster of green-blue tendrils had spewed out from the mouth and entwined around the hapless Drahl. He was being dragged towards the mouth of the thing despite his kicking and screaming; abruptly he stopped struggling and fell silent.

‘Drahl!’ yelled Fluke and made to run forward to help him. ‘My only follower!’

‘No!’ Edgar blocked her way, his face deathly pale. ‘Run! Get away from these things. They are deadly. I heard of a group of experienced adventurers who were nearly wiped out by a clump of these things, Orgulous they are called. Leave him, there’s nothing you can do.’ ****

5th Vaen – very cold and getting colder with the approach of Stark

They arrived back at Leydan, on the way back they talked with Callo. He had set out to find the falling star but only found a part-buried building which didn’t seem to be of any interest. He heard the strange singing and went north; he couldn’t get any of the bubbles he found there; then he heard and saw the explosion. He followed the pillar of smoke but found nothing there, so he went north-west to the patch of Singing Bubbles where they found him.

The headed for Black’s Tavern and settled down to get through the next few days of Stark. They got talking to a rugged man dressed in leather armour and carrying a verred and a bow. He introduced himself as Venas, a mercenary from the Pytharon Empire. He had come to Iscobal looking for work, as there were rumours of widespread unrest in the country due to the second failure of the billam crop and the King didn’t seem to be doing anything about it.

To be continued …

———————————————————————————————-

GM Notes

* In true Indiana Jones fashion, he went sailing through the air and landed next to El Greco, Fluke and Drahl, who were hiding in Fluke’s crater. He was badly singed from the blast and had to rest.

(Drahl has been with them since they rescued him off the Krai ship; he is Kara’s (Fluke’s) follower. So far he has not been much use; all he knows is flour milling and woodcarving.)

** Why? Because he’s Edgar

*** The Earth passes through an area of dark matter each time this year; severely cutting down the sun’s light. The Ninth Worlder’s don’t know this, of course.

**** Back in 2019 the HOG had an encounter with an Orgulous that nearly resulted in a TPK (admittedly, the dice were not with them that night). Orgulous are actually far nastier than their level would suggest.

The Intrigues of the Queen 3

Episode Three – Into the valley of Gtharren

The characters eventually escaped from the Great Machine, although both Spuddle and Carbon lost an eye each to the Living Conduit. Back in Mulen and listening to the news of their own execution; the barkeep told them of the growing unrest up-country due to the failure of the billam crop and that people were starting to have bad dreams again, like they did in during the reign of the Mad Queen Whenith Sarrowmere. That night, they all dreamed the same dream …

You are standing on a windswept plain; the sky is dark and heavy with clouds. A giant floating stone head speaks in a voice of thunder: – TRAVEL TO THE STONE IN THE VALLEY OF THE GTHARREN AND SPEAK THE NAME OF THE QUEEN. Lightning flashes and the head is gone.

2nd Pretor, 405 AF

Some enquiries revealed that the valley lay south-east of Mulen on the border of Iscobal and Ancuan, about ten days travel. It was said to house a complex riddle, guarded by a wizard or demon named Phiraster; what the reward for solving the riddle was they couldn’t find out.

‘What’s the Queen’s name? ‘Queen Thera tiKalloban’ was the response. ‘So who was the Mad Queen?’ * ‘Hush! Do not speak of her like that. Her family are still powerful at the Iscobal Court and she is said to still have many supporters. Those assassins for example.’

‘Yes, but what did she do?’ ‘She sought to rule the kingdom through the power of dreams; sending good dreams to reward her subjects and terrible, fatal nightmares to torment and kill her enemies. Her name was Queen Whenith Sarrowmere.’

After some preparations, they set off. Although they had plenty of rations; Spuddle insisted on hunting for live game at every instance and could lose track of their purpose. One day, Sir Harcourt, whilst looking for Spuddle; stepped into a clump of carnivorous vine-snakes; fortunately Carbon was close behind and was able to rip them off before they did too much damage. A few days later they came across a part-ruined building; needing somewhere to camp; they set up for the night here.

A loud “click” woke Spuddle from his (squamous) sleep. Where Carbon had been leaning on the wall was now just an empty space; faintly he could hear Carbon shouting and he could see a panel just sliding shut. Spuddle ran forward and rammed his head into the closing panel; keeping it open long enough for Sir Harcourt to find something to wedge it open.

Carbon was in a temple/ shrine – a central circular stone dais had a central column with an empty depression on top. Circling the dais was a repeating pattern of curved and straight lines – a symbol. The same symbol was drawn large on the wall as well. **

11th Pretor

They arrived at the outer entrance to the valley of Gtharren. A wide lake stretched away to a line of cliffs; from out of a tunnel cascaded a torrent of water; next to this was a stone landing stage with a set of stone steps leading up beside the water cascade. A small boat was tied up at the stage. Spuddle dived into the water to swim to get the boat; then beat a hasty retreat back to the bank as something large with many tentacles surged out of the lake and attacked them. *** A furious melee ensued as the creature was easily capable of attacking more than one target at a time; finally it withdrew into the depths of the lake, they were not sure if it was dead or just injured. Quickly, Spuddle swam over the get the boat and pushed the others over to the landing stage. In the boat Sir Harcourt found a rolled-up tent but he managed to drop it overboard!

A short tunnel led to an inner gorge with another waterfall at the far end, investigation soon found the tunnel behind the waterfall. The tunnel led to the base of a shaft with an iron ladder leading up; the ladder was rusted and broken part-way up. At the foot of the ladder lay a human female, dead from a broken neck. She was carrying a pack with some thieves’ tools, a minor glowglobe and a piece of scrip that read – Gtharren. Five across and seven down.

Carbon climbed up the shaft with a rope and secured it at the top; Sir Harcourt then climbed up; unfortunately the rock that the rope was tied to came loose and fell down the pit and struck Spuddle on the head. With a “SQUARRK” of rage he left the rope and the rock where it was and swarmed up the side of the pit.

They were in a closed valley; to the south the land sloped upwards. Near to them stood a large, head-high block of black stone; carved into this was an inscription –

The Riddle of Gtharren

QEHTLFTEHM IOEEYNWYKA DEEED TRIYJHTSSR

Hovering over the block was a flying chair that slowly floated down in front of them. The occupant was male, possibly young, and possibly old. He had flowing skin and an elongated head; with strange scintillating eyes. He pointed to each of them in turn and asked a question.

Spuddle:

‘If you were a colour, why would you be green?’

‘I am a Skeane and I am not green’

Sir Harcourt:

‘This is a rock. Compare yourself to it’

‘The rock is hard and endures the elements. That is what I do, except I am harder than the rock.’

Carbon Knightfall:

‘What is your name and why are you not called by another?’

‘I am called Carbon because it reflects what I am made of’

Phiraster seemed to accept these answers. ‘Do you wish to attempt the riddle? You have three attempts only; then you must leave and never return.’

‘Is the riddle part of the prophecy?’

‘To fulfil the prophecy, simply speak aloud the name of the true Queen.’ ‘Would that be Whenith Sarrowmere?’ Phiraster merely inclined his head.

On shouting the name of the Queen, a panel slid open in the valley wall and blue-green light spilled out. Inside, hanging in the middle of a globular chamber, was a blue-green ovoid. The surface rippled and a symbol appeared; the same one they had seen in the ruined house some days ago. It faded and was replaced with words –

When the moon next burns, the five-tongued snake will rise from the Firth and Rachar’s Obelisk will fall

Sir Harcourt made some notes and they left. They didn’t attempt the riddle, vowing to return another day. ****

That evening, they camped on the shore of the lake and discussed what they had found, comparing it to what they knew.

The Burning Moon is the name given to the last full moon of the year, 22nd Fre. It is so-called because Fre is the hottest month of the year. From today’s date it is just under a year away.

Rachar is a city in Iscobal, about 100 miles west of Gtharren.

Rachar stands on the coast, at the eastern end of a stretch of ocean called Hitcher’s Firth.

Conclusion – at the end of this year, some sort of sea monster is going to rise and destroy Rachar.

To be continued …

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GM notes

* Spuddle being really tactful (then again, what can you expect from a 10’ tall mutated Skeane with tentacles?)

** Montage. The house was a stroke of luck as I wanted to introduce the cult symbol somehow and they gave me the perfect opening.

*** The Watcher in the Water

**** It is solvable and the clues are there

A really good session; I gave the Players plenty of clues and let them interpret them; as it turned out their interpretation was pretty much what I’d worked out. Their next plan is to go to Rachar; my next job is to sketch out Rachar and decide who wants to trash the place and how the PC’s are going to get involved. The Tome of Adventure Design has lots and lots of tables and advice for doing e

Journal of the Wayfarers 3.3

Episode 3.3 – The Falling Star

They killed the Incona in the stellarite mine, despite Edgar getting washed away in an underground river; then headed for the village of Leydan to the east. The village was lit by a central globe on a metal tower and to the north was a machine; a huge gourd-shape belching smoke and fire. They stopped at Black’s Tavern and saw there was a one thousand shin bounty on the head of a notorious bandit …

32nd Prevaen

They woke to a light snowfall, breakfasted on a variety of foods and then headed to see Jolen. In the middle of the village was the light tower; a square windowless building with a door; a metal tower rose 30’, topped by a translucent globe. A house nearby had a sign – “Jolen – Cyphers Bought and Sold – Best Prices”.

Inside, the room was a veritable storehouse of strange items and unrecognisable things of all shapes, sizes and colours. * At a central circular work bench sat a man, middle-aged, with long flowing golden hair. He wore a helmet with numerous lenses and devices that rotated and revolved around his head; changing into many configurations.

‘Come in, come and close the door; you’re letting the cold in. Now, do you have cyphers to sell or can I interest you in anything?’ Edgar banged down the arm he had salvaged off the Oorgolian soldier on the Krai ship that had the built-in key for the security doors. ‘This key will open any door.’ Jolen picked it up and used his battery of devices to examine it.

‘Unusual – I have never seen a key like it. Where does it come from?’ ‘From the land of Capess’ said Edgar quickly. ‘Capess – ah yes, I believe I have heard of it. Somewhere in the Beyond is it not?’ ** ‘I will offer three shins for it.’ Edgar accepted the offer.

Meanwhile, the others had been browsing and after some negotiation and exchange of shins, came away with the following: –

Edgar: A sealed wooded box which he hasn’t opened; in fact he refused to do so.

El Greco: A sealed gel tube containing a brown liquid that gives +1 Might Edge for 60 minutes and a small diamond-shaped device that occasionally flies round her head making a soft peeping sound

Fluke: A crystal pendant that makes her glow blue and become insubstantial; making her immune to normal weapons; the effect lasts for around ten minutes. She also gained a bottle of two white tablets with an unknown effect.

‘Where do you get all of this stuff from?’ asked El Greco. Jolen shrugged. ‘I trade with the monks of Thaeling Lake and when the merchants come down from Rachar for the stellarite. Also, the gourd provides some from time to time.’

‘The gourd‘? Fluke asked. ‘Yes, occasionally the gourd spits out a red-hot egg that, when it cools, splits open to reveal a cypher or an oddity. I believe it is the end of a huge machine of the Ancients buried somewhere deep beneath the ground.’

‘How long have you been here?’ asked El Greco. ‘I settled here around five cycles ago; the globe and the gourd were here when I arrived.’

They investigated the light globe building: the door was locked and looked quite heavy. Fluke Hovered up to examine the globe; the snow was falling heavily and a sudden gust of wind blew her towards the gourd! She managed to land safely, even though the gourd spat out a red-hot shard that just missed her.

Fluke was about to break open the shard when Edgar ran up and rugby-tackled her to the ground. El Greco pulled her verred and smashed the shard to a gooey pulp. ***

They returned to the light-globe, on the way Edgar was hit on the back of the head by a snowball. There was a crowd of villagers waiting for them; miners, by the look of them. The leader spoke. ‘You were seen trying to break into this building. You will not do that.’

‘Look, we got rid of the thing in your mine and we haven’t got paid for it yet’, said Edgar (conveniently forgetting about the large piece of stellarite he had.) ‘You’re the ones who saved the mine!’ exclaimed the leader. ‘You have my thanks. I am Hamas. Now I have one less thing to worry about.’

“Hamas? Isn’t he the one who Asliros said was to blame for the deaths of the miners?”

Hamas was worried about his son Callo, who has not returned home. He set out three days ago to recover piece of the falling star that was seen coming down in the west. **** They agreed to go and look for him and set off west, reaching the mine as dusk fell. The miners welcomed them and provided food and rest. They had seen Callo; he stopped there briefly and then headed north-west into the hills.

1st Vaen

The snow was falling lightly as they prepared to leave the camp. Irron came up to them and handed Edgar a Collector. ‘We found it on the body of one of the miners.’ ‘Drop the thing!’ yelled Fluke and pulled out her lightning rod artefact (which has been named The Zeus Gun.) The blast hit the Collector but instead of destroying it, the device absorbed the energy, finally silently imploding in on itself.

Somewhere, old relays closed and ancient, long-forgotten protocols awoke, activating a machine.

The snow was thicker in the hills and it was slower going but by the end of the day they were traversing the field of purple flowers; in the near distance they could see the Krai shuttle. There was a figure standing by it, as they drew closer they saw it was one of the Krai robots, an Oorgolian soldier, carrying a blaster rifle …

To be continued …

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GM Notes

* Imagine an antiques shop

** A roll of ‘20’ on a persuasion roll. Ben was trying to make an anagram of SPACE with the accent on the ‘S’

*** I’m not exactly sure why they did this

**** (Cue discussion) ‘Falling star? Did we see this?’ ‘See it? We were in it!’ In it? Were we? … Oh, I see’

Edgar is convinced that they are being stalked by a giant creature called a Snorabbit. As the saying goes – be careful what you wish for, because dreams can come true.

A really good session of role-playing; lots of talking (and, more importantly, lots of laughter, which is what we need in these times.)