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 4.4

Episode 4.4 – Everything Must End

Having successfully stolen the Mace from the vault under the citadel, the Wayfarers have hidden it in a room in ‘The Salty Dog’ down by the docks. They have taken passage with Captain Coppertree on her ship; they now need to steal the Skarasen egg from the temple …

13th Witching Season, 405 AF

Leaving Edgar to guard the mace, El Greco and Fluke made their way into Rachar and attended the service at the temple. There were about twenty townsfolk at the service; it was conducted by Hepesh and two acolytes.

‘I’m sure that acolyte was with Hans last night’, whispered Fluke, ‘so maybe the temple and the cult are connected.’

The service was a series of catechisms about the inevitability of fate and that it must always come to pass. El Greco noted that there seemed to be a passage behind the altar screen.

Later that evening they returned with a bucket of seawater and noted that the temple was in darkness, although the outer door was not locked. The map they had got off Maggoty showed the route led through the priest’s quarters; Fluke ignored this and used her Cutting Light esotery to burn through the lock on the inner door to the temple. They entered and headed for the passage. Suddenly, light blazed all around them …

Meanwhile, at ‘The Salty Dog’, Edgar was jolted awake by a sharp knocking on the door.

‘Open up – we are soldiers on official business.’

‘Go away,’ said Edgar in a falsetto. ‘I’m not dressed.’ *

‘Open up in the name of Lord Terrhvyss.’ The knocking was repeated, a lot heavier.

Edgar grabbed the mace and jumped out through the window to the ground. He ran north, towards the woods; he was lucky, and no-one saw him. There was a commotion from down by the docks and a lot of shouting.

El Greco had suspected that they were heading into a trap and so she and Fluke were not too surprised to see Hans, Hepesh and a group of cultists with drawn wavy knives waiting for them.

‘You see, my Lord,’ said Hans. ‘The thieves skulk in during the night, like the Jaekals they are.’

Hepesh did not get to reply; El Greco pulled her bow and put an arrow straight through his eye. ** The cultists moved in; Hans stared at Hepesh’s body in horror and then ran for the door. El Greco put another shaft into him; he fell but was able to get to his feet and stumble out of the door. Fluke made good use of her Cutting Light and Onslaught to take out several of the cultists; once El Greco joined in using her verred it was all over. ***

The amp led them to the basement of the temple, through some rooms filled with strange machinery. The egg was in a pool of fresh running water; they lifted it out and put it in the bucket of sea water.

Back at ‘The Salty Dog’ they found Edgar was gone but El Greco soon tracked him down. They lay low for the rest of the day and night.

14th Witching Season

At the docks they found that Coppertree was ready to leave so they boarded the ship (along with Aakruti.) Colossus Reef was about ten miles off-shore; as they approached, they saw a huge, one-hundred-foot-high statue of a warrior holding aloft a weapon. The statue stood on two tiered plinths, atop a rock outcropping. Stone steps hewn into the rock led up to a rusted metal door. The seas were breaking heavily on the reef and Coppertree was not happy.

‘I’ll not take the “Annabel” in any closer. You can take the jolly boat.’ ****

As it turned out, Edgar proved to be a skilled oarsman ***** and they reached the central island. Rough-hewn stone steps led up to a rusted door in the base of the plinth; the was easily opened and a foul stench came out; a cross between rotting seaweed and sickly-sweet honey. Inside was a large chamber with metal steps leading up through a hatch in the roof and another set of metal steps leading down into a pit. From down in the pit came the sound of surging waves.

‘Let’s just dump the egg and go.’

‘CRYSIS! CRYSIS! WHERE ARE YOU? IT’S AAKRUTI!’

From above came a faint scuttling; Aakruti ran up the steps leading up. There came a loud “thump”. Edgar went up the steps and peered through into the upper chamber. He was staring straight into the eyes of Aakruti, her head severed cleanly. He body lay some distance away. He slowly backed down the ladder. ******

From out of the pit had swarmed a group of hideous, amphibian, mucus-spewing humanoids – Heeldran! They carried mucous-coated spears that caused hallucinogenic effects or even direct compulsions – El Greco developed the overriding compulsion to hurl herself in the ocean to drown and Fluke was having her Intellect drained. Edgar soon found that out that if you hit them TOO hard then they exploded the hallucinogen mucus everywhere.

Finally the Heeldran were defeated; they dumped the egg on the floor (in the bucket) and made for the jolly boat. They were attacked on the way bak but fought off the Heeldran and made it to the ship.

Epilogue

They were sailing south, heading for Kaparin (in Ancuan.) Looking back to Colossal Reef, they saw a huge wave rise on the horizon

‘That’s no wave -it’s a tail!’

The tail slammed down in a welter of foam; sometime later the wave picked up the ship and threw it southwards.

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

GM notes

* I’ve no idea why he said it like this.

** Roll of 20 with Effort on damage (Hepesh is high level for esoteries and high priest stuff, but not very tough.)

*** The dice were really with them; I don’t think they rolled below a 12 for the entire combat. The cultists were Level 3 but never really stood a chance (although they did get a few hits in on both Fluke and El Greco.)

**** Edgar was of the opinion that he could leap from rock to rock to the shore; the others talked him out of this.

***** Another bloody 20!

****** Ben (Player) has come across Steel Spiders before and guessed what had happened even before he found the head. – OMG! I am I getting too predictable?

This is the end of the Journal of the Wayfarers

It was a great Game; it got us all through lockdown and it got Jenny interested in RPG’s and board gaming again in general.

We are going to pick up again in the autumn; probably Numenera but I would like to introduce Mindjammer.

Journal of the Wayfarers 4.3

Episode 4.3 – True Colours

The Wayfarers have been tasked by Lady Mayry, daughter of Lord Terrhvyss, to steal the Mace of Granith from the vault beneath the citadel. She has obtained the key for them, so at midnight on 12th Witching Season they unlocked the door and crept downstairs. El Greco and Edgar were about to take the Mace when they heard a slithering sound in the shadows …

With blinding speed a slug-like creature slid into the vault and attacked Edgar; a second one spat an acidic glob at El Greco.

‘Grab the Mace’, yelled Edgar and charged to attack with his axe; he hit true but found the bony plating on the creatures back was a very effective armour.

‘I can barely lift it,’ grunted El Greco. ‘It’s really heavy. This can’t be a weapon.’ She then had to fend off an attack from a slug that extruded sticky slime on the floor, making her feet stick to the floor.

‘Hold it there,’ yelled Edgar and charged at the slug; he went through a patch of slime that was almost frictionless and slid, out of control, across the floor and landed face-down in one of the stone coffers.

El Greco took some damage from acidic spit but managed to get free of the slime. She made a powerful attack with her verred that killed one of the slugs and managed to drag the Mace over to the stairs. Fluke came down and examined it – it was clearly numenera of some kind and needed to be “attuned” to a user.

Edgar climbed out of the coffer and quickly despatched the second slug, then lifted the Mace. It was very heavy, but his Muscles of Iron ability helped him get it up the steps to the outside.

Fluke locked the vault door and they headed across the bailey towards Jeremy’s Passage *

‘That’s just what we were looking for.’ A sardonic voice spoke and from out the shadows stepped Hans, flanked by a dozen or so men wearing the yellow and grey robes of the Cult of the Serpent. ‘You can’t stop this, you know. Hand over the mace, Rachar will fall.’

Edgar made to run but the mace slowed him down and Hans easily intercepted him. ‘Why just delay what’s inevitable? Hand over the mace and you can … leave.’

Fluke escaped into Jeremy’s Passage but El Greco was surrounded by five cultists. They were chanting ‘What will be must be, all will come to pass.’ She fought them off with only minor damage and managed to escape. Edgar finally managed to get away from Hans and they finally all met up down at the docks in ’The Salty Dog.’ **

They paid for a room at the back of the tavern and decided to hide the mace there. Edgar and Fluke experimented with it and Edgar managed to ‘attune’ to the mace. It became very light to wield, did damage as a heavy weapon and had some other abilities that enable it to do extra damage on a successful hit. Edgar was not impressed.

‘So this is the fabled weapon that defeats the Skarasen? I’d do better with my axe.’

‘So what’s with Hans? He’s working with the cultists and wants Rachar to fall.’

They hid the mace in the bed and rested for a time.

12th Witching Season, early Wane

They went and found the old sea dog they had spoken to before and, after refreshing his memory with a meal and a drinks, found out that Coppertree’s ship was in port. At this point they were joined by Aakruti (who they had forgotten about.) She brought news that there was some sort of uproar in the city and that the guards were searching houses.

‘Hmm. Did Hans get a good look at Edgar last night?’

The ship they were looking for was called ‘The Annabel Lee’; the captain’s name was Shela Coppertree. They negotiated a passage out to the colossus and the reef for a cost of eighty shins. After some consideration, Coppertree agreed to take them on to Kaparin at no further cost.

‘We need to leave immediately.’

(‘No we don’t. Yes we do, the guards might be looking for Hans. But we haven’t got the egg yet.’)

Coppertree shook her head. ‘I’ve just made port, my crew need to rest and I need to take on supplies. We’ll sail in three days.’

To be continued …

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

GM Notes

* This was the name they had given to the path that led past Miui’s tomb and along the cliff; down to the docks.

(A comment was made about this wasn’t much of a castle as there was a way in past the walls. This is the Ninth World remember – Rachar and the citadel were not originally intended to be fortresses; this is just what they are being used for now.)

** There was a lot more involved in this combat and chase that what it seems like from the write-up!

Numenera doesn’t have a combat-balancing design system (in common with a lot of OSR Games); so sometimes it’s hard to judge how a combat will go. The fight with the Slurges in the vault, on paper, should have been tougher than it was; the PC’s probably made the right decision to run from the cultists but they did escape rather easily (they have been rolling a lot of ‘20’s – one day their luck will run out for good.)

Journal of the Wayfarers 4.2

Episode 4.2  – Plots and Plotting

The Wayfarers have been tasked to recover an egg from the temple in Rachar and return it to its rightful place on the reef before the Skarasen attacks on the next Night of the Burning Moon (8th Sojourn.) They are currently at the docks in Rachar, negotiating for passage on a ship …

11th Witching Season, 405 AF

The door of the tavern was flung wide and a figure clad in traveller’s clothes strode in and looked round the room.

‘El Greco, you slying seskii! What are you doing here?’ The traveller made their way across the room.

‘Oh no,’ muttered El Greco. ‘Iadace, Aakruti.’

Aakruti threw back her hood; she had silver eyes, translucent skin and dark hair. ‘Iadace, El Greco. Who are your friends?’ El Greco did the introductions.

‘So why are you here?’ Aakruti smiled and called for a drink. ‘I’m looking for a ship to take passage out to somewhere called the reef.’

‘Really?’ said El Greco nonchalantly. ‘Never heard of it. Why do you want to go there?’

‘Do you remember Crysis – always getting into trouble? I received a strange message from him into my mind about three days ago – “Help me trapped on reef they are outside no way.” My research led me here; I understand there is a reef about ten miles off-shore with a colossal light tower.

‘We’re going to a reef as well,’ said Edgar suddenly. ‘You could come with us’ *

The grizzled old sea dog they had spoken to had said that Captain Coppertree was due in port in two days. They arranged to meet up with Aakruti on 13th WS at “The Salty Dog” and left her to explore the city on her own.

They went to the Hall of Glass; having determined that this was a library. Inside, many intersecting planes of synth and glass held myriads of flashing symbols and connectors. Fluke accessed one and fell into the Datasphere; appearing as a giant purple rabbit.

* What is the Temple?  – [Bar-o-Tua, the Sister of Fate. What must be, will be, as it should be.]

* Who is Bar-o-Tua? – [Bar-o-Tua is the Sister of Fate.]

* What is the connection between the Temple and the Skarasen? – [No information held]

* What is the connection between the Skarasen and the egg? – [Most probable – Skarasen is protecting the egg]

* Is there a map of the temple? – [Temple has an underground area, no further information held]

Abruptly the connection ended and Fluke was back in the Hall of Glass.

‘We need to buy a bucket to carry the egg in. Calavel’s eyes – we should have asked how big it is.’

They decided to head to the citadel – Cieto Rachar – to see where Granith had fought the Skarasen and also to find out any more about the mace. As Granith had wielded it on both occasions; Fluke surmised that it might be a numenera weapon that only Granith could use.

At the citadel, the way protected by the familiar blue energy field; Edgar stepped forward and proclaimed that they had been summoned by Lord Terrhvyss. To their surprise this worked and the guards let them through, directing them to the Great Hall in the outer yard. ** Inside the hall. Lord Terrhvyss was seated at the High Table along with his daughter Mayry and her suitor Hans. *** Lord Terrhvyss was an imposing figure; he was over six feet tall with an artificial right eye and a mechanical left arm tipped with a claw. He welcomed the Wayfarers, then gestured to the bard to sing.

‘Listen all, whilst I, Falstol, sing to you The Saga of Granith.

The song was entertaining and expertly performed and the audience were captivated. Only Edgar noted the look of fear on Mayry’s face and the glances she kept making towards her father. He also caught the faint flicker of a smile that crossed Hans’ face at the moment of Granith’s death. He rose and called out –

‘Oi! Shiul-Face! What’s so funny?’ ****

Hans rose and faced Edgar. ‘In my father’s house, I would have you whipped through the streets, you brehm-brained sarrak.’

Mayry burst into tears and fled from the hall; El Greco followed her.

‘There will be no violence here.’ Lord Terrhvyss’ had a soft voice, but it carried the weight of authority.

El Greco caught up with Mayry in the shadow of the motte of the Citadel, by a large tomb on the cliff edge. Mayry explained that this was the tomb of Miui, her mother, who had died when she was but six Cycles old. Hans had told her of a prophecy that said the Skarasen was going to attack the city again and she knew her father would be honour-bound to wield the Mace of Granith to defend the city. She is terrified that the Skarasen will kill him.

‘Could someone else not fight on his behalf, a champion perhaps?’

‘My father is too proud and honourable for that. However, if the Mace was missing, stolen, then he would have no choice.’

‘So where is the Mace?’

‘Here, locked in the vault underground. The entrance is behind the Great Hall.  I can get the key and leave it here at midnight. Please help me.’

‘How do we get into the Citadel at night?’

‘There is a path from here that winds along the cliff-edge down to the docks.’ Mayry showed El Greco a hollow in the top of the tomb where she would hide the key.

They bought a leather bucket and stashed it at ‘The Salty Dog’ (the tavern down at the docks); there was no sign of Aakruti. El Greco briefed Edgar and Fluke on what she had learned and they discussed further plans. Suddenly, Edgar pulled a knife –

‘I feel …’

‘You feel what?’

‘… like we’re being watched!’

A small, wiry man on the next table spread his hands. ‘Peace. I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. You are looking to get into the temple of Bar-o-Tua. I am Delis Maggoty, the best thief in Rachar and I know a way in. I once stole an egg from there.’

‘An egg? What was it?’

Delis shrugged. ‘I don’t know; I was just paid to do it and deliver it to a ship here at the docks. Of course, it was easy for someone of my skills.’

‘By who?’ Delis just smiled and shook his head.

Edgar suddenly leaned forward and stared at Maggoty. ‘Was it a giant flying stone head?’ Delis suddenly looked scared – ‘How did you know about the head?’ he faltered; then gulped at his drink.

‘So, how do we get in?’

‘I can draw you a map for fifty shins.’

‘How about this instead?’ asked Edgar, producing a black tablet-sized cypher. ‘It makes you go invisible.’ *****

‘That’s a fair trade,’ said Maggoty and sketched out a map, talking it through as he did so –

‘From the outer doors, go right through the acolyte’s quarters and through into the main temple area. Behind the altar is another door to a hall, a door to the right leads to steps down to the basement. Of course, I don’t know what you’re after, but the egg was here, in a pool of water.’ He rose, clutching the tablet. ‘Good to do business with you.’

12th Witching Season, just after midnight.

The key was where Mayry said it would be; a curious three-barrelled item. The vault door opened easily, to reveal stone steps down into darkness. Fluke stayed to guard the door and El Greco and Edgar lit a glowglobe and went down. The steps ended in a circular chamber with several stone coffers spaced around the walls.

One contained shins, lots and lots of shins. Edgar started to fill his pack

The next coffer held lots of pieces of machinery and bits and pieces

The third held a large disc-shaped object with an attached tripod; the device smelled of smoke and soot.

The fourth coffer held the Mace of Granith; a large two-handed mace with a tripazidal head of dull grey metal.

‘Listen!’ El Greco looked around; her hunter’s skills at full alert. ‘There’s something …’

From out of the darkness came a heavy slithering sound, accompanied by a sharp, acidic smell …

To be continued …

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

GM notes

*Wasn’t even a GMI, Edgar just spontaneously said this!

** Later, they found that the Lord was a popular and well-liked ruler and it was his custom to invite representative of the town and country to dine with him.

*** Cue immediate suspicion – ‘Is he from the Seven Isles?’ ‘No, he’s got a Pytharon accent.’ ‘So he could still be evil?’

El Greco – ‘I’m from the Pytharon Empire.’

(n.b. for anyone struggling with the reference – watch FROZEN)

**** Ben playing Edgar true to form

***** Edgar has no idea what this cypher does as he has never bothered to find out.

A really good session, lots of roleplaying and use of skills but with very little die-rolling. The PC’s now have several Storylines going on.

Also first test of the new calendar. Jenny groaned a bit, as she had been keeping the old one up to date; but as Game-play goes there isn’t much difference mechanically.

Numenera GM Interlude

(aka: OMG he’s done it again!)

Some thoughts on timekeeping and especially the Ninth World calendar.

I’ve always wanted my Numenera Games to reflect as much wonder of the Ninth World as possible, but also as simply as possible.

The Ninth World is the result of terraforming on a massive scale; the land is a giant supercontinent surrounded by a massive ocean and who knows what the Clock of Kala (and its three companions) are? The moon has been changed and moved in orbit, the planets in the solar system have been changed, added to or just not there. The latest release Edge of the Sun has revealed some more secrets about the sun and the whole solar system and the Guidebook implies that the terraforming machines are still operating, the weather patterns are not severely disrupted and there are still hot, temperate and cold seasons.

So, I created a calendar based on seasons, not months. The original idea came from (long OOP) Darkurthe; the seasons and weather patterns don’t conform to any known geophysical laws because … it’s the Ninth World.

The year is 308 days long, the moon is on a 28-day cycle (because I didn’t want to have to keep recalculating the phase of the moon.)

The seasons are: –

FESTIVAL (5 days)

The time of endings and new beginnings. Many holidays and festivals across the Steadfast

3rd – Safe Haven. Said to be the day that Calavel entered the Amber Monolith for the first time.

HARVEST (46 days)

The time of preparing for the cold months and harvesting of crops

STORM SEASON (Embarking) (25 days)

The time of storms and bad weather, growing colder

WINTER’S NIGHT (10 days)

Freezing cold temperatures, the night sky is black and even the daylight is dimmed. The reason for this (unknown to most Ninth Worlders) is that the Earth is passing through a cloud of dark matter in orbit.

WITCHING SEASON (36 days)

Following Winter’s Night, cold temperatures and frost/ snow. 6th is the Frost Moon

SORROW’S END (40 days)

Recovering from the cold days and rebuilding communities

STORM SEASON (Returning) (30 days)

Storms and bad weather; electrical storms and the Iron Wind

HOMECOMING (60 days)

Warm weather, often the beginning and end of adventures. The planting of crops for harvest. Many children are born during Homecoming.

SOJOURN (56 days)

The hottest part of the year. 8th is the Night of the Burning Moon. Many children are born during Sojourn

Years are counted in Cycles from the founding of the Order of Truth. The current Game-year for the HOG and the Wayfarers is 405 AF.

So that’s it. It allows for a decent passage of time; allows for the phases of the moon and to bring in weather (many people don’t travel during the Storm Seasons) and feels different.

Journal of the Wayfarers 4.1

Episode 4.1  – West to Rachar, City of the Obelisk

On the far side of the Purple Valley the Wayfarers found a village that was apparently “frozen in time”, with three people trapped inside. They were then captured by Brutals; masked humanoids who came from out of a giant flying stone head that announced itself as ZARDOZ …

The Wayfarers were escorted inside the huge mouth of the head and deep inside to a chamber dominated by a facsimile of the face of the head. The Brutals bowed down as from out of the shadows stepped a woman. She was middle-aged, dark-haired with milky-white eyes. She wore a long robe and had a regal air.

‘Please, sit;’ she said in a soft voice. When they made no move, she smiled gently. ‘Perhaps you would prefer it in the booming voice of Zardoz commands you to sit?’

‘Who are you and why have you kidnapped us?’

‘It was … necessary. The last group I approached fled into the village of Obluten, despite my warnings, and now they are trapped.’ Suddenly she threw her hands wide. ‘Rachar is prophesised to fall. It must not happen. Several years ago, an egg was removed from the temple in the city and returned to its rightful place on the reef. The egg has been returned to the temple recently. The Skarasen will follow it.’

‘So?’

‘If Rachar falls then it will open up the way for the return of the Queen. The egg must be returned to the reef before the Skarasen wakes. My Brutals cannot do it; they are too … distinctive. I can take you part-way, then you must steal the egg and return it to its rightful place. The prophecy must not be allowed to come true.’

‘Are you the Mad Queen?’ asked Edgar, subtle as ever.

The woman shook her head. ‘No, my name is Timas Sarromere. Whenith Sarromere is … was my sister-in-law. She married my brother Herris; who was King of Iscobal until he died from a nightmare in 344 AF.*

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

‘I read this in the library at Thaeling Lake’ said Fluke.

24th Vaen, 405 AF

Zardoz landed them on a road in the midst of green rolling hills.

‘You are around three days travel from Rachar.’

The head soundlessly ascended into the sky and accelerated away; soon it vanished into the distance.

El Greco’s tracking skills and sense of direction determined that they had to head west; from the crest of a hill, far in the distance they could see the ocean.

25th Vaen

The road led through a rocky valley, suddenly a chorus of screams erupted from both sides –

‘All who know the secret must die!’

A group of people dressed in yellow and grey outfits burst out of cover and attacked; they all had a tattoo on their right shoulder blade and carried daggers with wavy blades.

“What secret? We don’t know any secret’, replied El Greco.

Edgar charged forward, swinging his axe in a massive overhead chop. The cultist never stood a chance; they were split in two with one blow! ** El Greco fought off two of them; Fluke pulled out the dagger she had taken off the Murden. The cultists obviously recognised it and the symbol on it.

‘You are a traitor,’ one hissed, ‘and shall now doubly die.’

Despite this, the Wayfarers made short work of the cultists. All of them had the tattoo on the right shoulder blade, the same symbol was on their daggers and on the dagger that Fluke carried.

Edgar became convinced that Fluke was a cultist and was still unconvinced even when she proved that she didn’t have a tattoo. ***

‘What secret were they talking about? Did they mean about the Skarasen attacking Rachar?’

That evening, El Greco found Edgar sitting and looking at the moon, which was just past full.

‘It’s so shiny.’

26th Vaen

At around mid-morning, Rachar came into view. The first thing they saw was the flying obelisk; then the glowing walls and towers of the city came into view. The walls were made of a metallic stone with a random tracery of wires embedded inside, the tops of the towers phased in colours from green to red to blue. The south-east gate was two metal towers; a blue field of force flickered between them. Two wardens, clad in blue stood there.

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

‘I am from Ecaps,’ announced Edgar ‘and these are my friends. We wish to eat a gallen steak sandwich.’ ****

‘Ah, Ecaps,’ nodded the guard. ‘A fair land I believe, out in the Beyond. The tavern by the gate serves good food and ale.’ He deactivated the field of force via a wrist controller and they entered the city.

‘The ordinary buildings were a mix of stone, wattle and wood; built in and around the crystalline walls and towers. 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. The tavern was called “The Geometric Shape”; the barkeep was a Varjellen with no eyes. It licked the air in front of them.

‘Three travellers who have come a fair distance will want refreshment.’

‘Three gallen steak sandwiches and plenty of beer.’

The beer was named ‘The Rite Angul’ and was good, better than in Leydan or Thaeling Lake. Looking round, they saw many patrons, mostly human but there were some Lattimor present. ***** They couldn’t see anyone immediately obvious to talk to, so they decided to scout out the temple. This stood near to the centre of the city, not quite under the floating obelisk, a structure of grey and yellow stone made up of several co-joined trapezoid pyramids. There was only one door; they entered into a blue-lit hallway. An acolyte, wearing yellow, grey and purple robes greeted them to the Temple of Bar-o-Tua, Sister of Fate.

A dialogue with the acolyte revealed that –

a) He knew nothing about an egg of any kind, nor did he know of a secret place where an egg could be hidden.

b) They did not give guided tours of the temple, but they were welcome to attend the next service, in two days’ time.

c) Bar-o-Tua is the Sister of Fate, “What shall be, will be, as it must be”

They did note that there were several doors leading off the hallway. ******

They left the temple and returned to the “Shape.” They discussed plans about creating a distraction whilst El Greco snuck in and found the egg. They then decided it might be an idea to find out where the reef is that they have to take it to and perhaps secure a ship.

Down in the docks area, the air stank of smoke and tar. There were several ships moored and from various taverns came the sound of sea shanties. The picked one and entered immediately Edgar spotted a grizzled old sea dog.

‘The reef, you say? Aye, I remembers it; ran aground I did there back on the dark of the moon. We was waiting for daylight to re-float when the Heeldran came pouring over the gunwales. Half my crew were lost to their poisoned barbs; forced to drown themselves. Only me and three other lads made it back. T’was worse that than seeing the Skarasen.

‘The Skarasen? You’ve seen the Skarasen?’

Aye, I remembers it well. 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’

‘Can you take us to the reef?’ The sailor shook his head. ‘My seafaring days are done; Captain Coppertree has my boat now. She’s due here in from the Cays; come back in two days.’

To be continued …

——————————————————————————-

GM Notes

The start of a new Season as they have left the Purple Valley. This should wrap up the Intrigues of the Queen plotline, but we’ll see.

* Again, the Family Tree Generator worked well here.

** Edgar now does a frightening amount of damage with that axe (6 basic +3 chop +2 when charging, although he is at a penalty to hit with the chop.)

*** This started with a heated discussion, followed by Edgar rugby-tackling Fluke and an unseemly brawl. I left them to it and went and made a drink.

**** Ecaps = Space. I’m not sure why Edgar has suddenly decided he is from space (this started back in Leydan.)

***** Lattimor are 7’ tall six-eyed humanoid/ alien symbiotes. Can be awkward to deal with due to their shifting personalities.

****** OMG! Talk about subtle!

‘Ok, you want to steal the Koh-in-Noor diamond from the Tower of London. You walk up to the first Beefeater you see, tell him this and ask him if he can show you where it is. Do you not think that he may be a little suspicious?’

This is starting to tie in with what the HOG are doing on the Monday sessions (The Intrigues of the Queen.)

The various factions are being handled by the brilliant Faction rules in Kevin Crawford’s Stars Without Number and are throwing up some surprising results.

Update: The Factions may be revised using Worlds Without Number, which I’ve just downloaded.

Journal of the Wayfarers 3.10

Episode 3.10 – Xuanicli

The Wayfarers were heading west, into the Purple Valley. They had successfully solved the murder mystery at Thaeling Lake; tracking down the Murden that was doing the killings. Milo had been released but the following morning he and Tonni the fisherman’s daughter had left. Milo had said he was heading for the Purple Valley, so they set out to follow him.

22nd Vaen, 405 AF

The weather was clear and the sun bright, although the air was still cold. Around midday, the trail they were following was bisected by a trench gouged in the drit. It was straight, running from north-east to south-west. El Greco examined the ground to see what could have made it; she concluded that it was not made by a creature.

‘Not a Sn’rabbit then?’

They crossed the trench and continued into a field of purple flowers. Faintly on the breeze came the sound of a chorus of voices singing; here and there amongst the flowers 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. The path branched, leading, west and south.

‘Calaval’s eyes, not again!’

‘Let’s just get out of here’

They hurried on west, at the crossroads Fluke stumbled across a cairn. They examined it from a distance, then left it alone and carried on west. *

They were in such a hurry to leave the field of the Singing Bells that they didn’t, at first, notice the change in the landscape. The ground had become pale; the vegetation was bulbous and pod-filled, like pale bladder-wrack seaweed. The air smelt of sour vinegar.

SCHLUP! The ground sucked them down and they landed in a globular chamber. Something was screaming in a reedy voice – ‘Oosh-shan-cli, Oosh-shan-cli!’ The air had a heavy acidic smell and the walls and floor of the chamber were slippery and slimy.

A vertical, toothless slit mouth was doing the screaming; it was being picked apart by small hexagonal machines with scissor-tipped claws.

Fluke looked up; they had come through a tricuspid valve in the top of the globe. The walls were pale-white and translucent; beyond and through them were moving half-glimpsed amorphous shapes.

She floated up and used her Cutting Light esotery to try and open the valve. She was rewarded by a spurt of strong acid; a protoplasmic blob oozed in through the hole she had made and sealed it within moments.

Edgar decided that the mouth was upsetting the machines and charged in with his axe, doing a two-hand chop. The blow connected and the mouth fell silent after one last moan of “Oo –sh – cl.”

The hexagonal machines immediately turned on the Wayfarers. A melee ensued; eventually the machines were destroyed but Edgar managed to damage the wall of the globe; he was sprayed with acid and a protoblob repaired the damage.

The mouth was dead and sealed shut. Next to it they found a tricuspid valve; when forced through it led to a twisting intestinal passage. This led to a kidney-shaped room full of small green fruit (like grapes.) They ignored these and went through another intestinal passage.

This led to a large oval chamber, walls sickly white shot with tendrils of red. In the centre was a mass of gel spheres, enclosing a humanoid form. It has stunted limbs, no hands and a huge exposed brain with two purple eyes. A long stalk emerged from the roof of the chamber and plunged into the exposed head. The stalk connects to a huge, half-glimpsed dark mass floating outside the chamber wall. No-one had seen anything like it before.

Fluke tried to establish a Mental Link; the creature opened its huge eyes and looked at Fluke.

‘I am sorry, but it will not permit … AAARH!’

Fluke was hit by a massive mental blast that stunned her.

‘Quotien so sorry, Quotien so sorry.’

‘It’s the stalk; it’s controlling him/her/it/whatever. Edgar, go for the stalk!’

Edgar charged in with his axe; he was hit with a massive mental blast (“Quotien so sorry”) but his attack was true; the stalk was severed; although it did spray him with acid as it withdrew. A protoblob sealed the hole.

‘Quotien thanks you’, the creature thought into their minds. ‘Quotien is sorry for hurting you; Quotien needs help.’

‘Huh,’ muttered Fluke, who still had a massive headache.

‘What do you want?’ called El Greco.

‘Quotien needs new hiding place. Kill Quotien (“Happy to oblige with that”, muttered Edgar), cut out centre part of brain and throw in nearest river.’

‘What! Why? What will that do?’

‘Quotien cannot explain. Agree to do it; Quotien will open a way closer to out.’

Edgar agreed (after a bit of prodding from El Greco), the creature turned its purple eyes and stared at a section of the chamber wall; a sphincter valve opened to reveal a tube passage. The creature put up no resistance to Edgar killing it; at the centre of the brain was a hard, golf-ball sized piece of tissue; which Edgar took.

‘Was Quotien its name, or was the creature a Quotien?’ wondered El Greco. ‘I’ve certainly never come across one before.’

They went through the passage Quotien had opened; it led to a kidney-shaped room full of small purple fruit (like grapes.) There was a choice of exits; ignoring the fruit they took a passage that led to an oval room with a tricuspid valve in the far wall. The floor was slick and moist and drips of acidic slime began to fall. Edgar ran across the chamber and heaved the valve open with brute force; he held it long enough for Fluke and El Greco to escape through. Then he lost his grip and fell back into the chamber. He struggled to get the valve open again as a stinging rain of acid slime fell on him. Finally he managed it *** and dragged himself through into another tunnel. This began pulsing with peristaltic waves that carried them along and upward; spitting them out onto the surface through a rubbery gourd-shaped plant.

Without a word between them they took off running to the west and were soon back in the fields of purple flowers. Ahead they saw a bridge crossing a river; the bridge was stone and covered by a semi-circular vault of fused stone. Next to it stood a stone building part-covered in blue moss; the moss was eating away at the stone.

They camped in the building as both Edgar and Fluke needed to rest and heal. Fluke poked around in the inside and found an explorers pack.  It contained a set of light tools, a minor glowglobe, a verred, a saddle sized for a very small animal (like a squirrel or a cat) and a small canister. The top had come off and it was the source of the blue fungus.

Scribbled message on a piece of scrip: “Milo. Riastra, Thremon and I have gone on to the village. Join us there. Jeth”

23rd Vaen

After breakfast, Edgar walked to the river and threw Quotien’s brain into the water. To his surprise it didn’t sink; it just floated off downstream. They crossed the bridge and a short time later saw a village in the distance; a tight-packed cluster of buildings surrounding a central tower. Standing on the outskirts were three figures. Edgar waved and ran towards them; only to be thrown backwards as he ran into an invisible wall.

They experimented with the invisible wall; it could be pushed into but resistance increased exponentially until they could move no further; the same thing happened for weapons. The wall surrounded the entire village; the three figures (two men and a woman, dressed as explorers), did not react. Fluke tried to Mind Link but there was nothing to link to.

‘Is this whole place an illusion of some kind?’

The ground began to vibrate and the air was filled with a humming noise; that deepened to a heavy throbbing. From over the hills to the west appeared a giant flying stone head. There came a voice of booming thunder –

‘ZARDOZ! YOU ARE ALL PRISONERS OF ZARDOZ’

The Head landed nearby and a horde of humanoids poured from the open mouth. They were muscular, wearing red tunics and carried curious open-tipped spears; their heads were smaller versions of the giant head.

‘YOU ARE ALL PRISONERS OF ZARDOZ’ ****

To be continued …

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

GM Notes

CAST

FLUKE, a Tier 2 Graceful Nano Who Controls Gravity (Lisa)

EL GRECO, a Tier 2 Swift Jack Who Hunts With Great Skill (Jenny)

EDGAR, a Tier 2 Foolish Glaive Who Charges Right In (Ben)

* I offered Edgar a GMI; he paid it off and refused it!

** The dice were with Edgar tonight; he rolled 4 x ‘20’s’

*** Wow! His luck suddenly deserted him; he took ten points of damage from the acid and was already hurt from the encounter with Quotien. One more round and he would have been Incapacitated and possibly soon to be dead.

**** I love this film; it’s SO 1974 B-Movie (even with Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling); but the flying stone head is something I’ve wanted to use for many years.

A little reminder to the PC’s that the Ninth World can be a VERY weird place

The Intrigues of the Queen 6

Episode Six – Third finger, left hand

Having been rescued from a mob by Hepesh, High Priest of Bar-o-Tua, the Sister of Fate, they learnt some more about the story of the Skarasen attack on Rachar. Hepesh offered to restore Carbon and Spuddle’s missing eyes if they travelled south to a village named Fallside and retrieved an item from the priest called Neymish.

21st Pretor, 405 AF

They cautiously entered the village from the north, looking at the green-painted huts. Each was circular, with a domed roof and a door. They soon found several bodies, clad in green tunics and covered with large sucker wounds. They were headless; the heads appeared to have been sucked off. There were many trails in the ground, as if things had been dragged towards the cliff-edge. There was a very strong, sour fish smell.*

‘Listen!’ squawked Spuddle. ’That sounds like an alarm coming from the factory.’

As he spoke, there was a hissing sound and a huge gout of steam erupted from a vent on the roof of the factory. They headed towards it when, on the cliff-edge, they noticed a grey sphere, like a balloon. Carbon went to poke it with his sword when it soundlessly exploded, sending twisting cilia raying in all directions. ** Carbon and Spuddle dodged but Sir Hancock *** was struck on the left cheek and it was apparent that the cilia had some sort of organic glue. Immediately it started to contract, pulling him in.

Carbon leapt forward and struck at the cilia, it was thin but rubbery and did not break. Sir Hancock was dragged further, Spuddle grabbed him and tried to pull him back, but the strength of the pull was incredible. Carbon struck again as did Sir Hancock; finally they did enough damage to sever the thing. The remaining cilia, now compacted into a tight ball, rolled and bounced down the cliff and into the ocean. The remains of the cilia attached to Sir Hancock’s face sublimated and shrivelled up; the fish-like stench was incredible.

Inside the factory, everything was a maze of pipes, tanks, machines and cylinders painted red, green or black. There were levers and wheels everywhere. Steam jetted from various vents and there was a strong chemical smell in the air. There was no-one working the machines.

Spuddle stopped to look at the many signs around the factory – “Speak only to your faction”. “Careless talk wastes production”. “Reds are better than Greens”. “Greens are better than Reds.” He noted with alarm that some of the gauges were in the red.

‘There’s no-one working the machines; I think this place is going to blow.’

‘Can we get it working? – like, push the right buttons and pull the right levers?’

‘No – it needs the workforce to pull and push thing in the right order.’

‘So what do they do?’

‘Black sludge comes in here, through this big pipe. The machines process it into red and green sludge and pump it into the sea.’

‘So what’s the point? It just becomes black sludge again.’

Spuddle shrugged his tentacles. ‘I don’t know.’

At this point there was a loud BANG and a pipe ruptured, spraying Spuddle with scalding steam. Without further ado, they beat a hasty exit; as they did so more alarms went off inside the factory.

(Meanwhile, in Rachar, a grey-cloaked figure entered “The Geometric Shape” and made their way to a figure sitting alone at a table. ‘Tell me of the prophecy.’)

Outside, they saw a larger domed hut, not painted. Outside were three figures, two men and a woman. One of the men was gnawing on a joint of gallen meat.

‘You’re too late,’ called the woman. ‘We were here first, there’s nothing for you. Move along.’

The two men wore leather armour and carried verreds. The woman had green skin and yellow eyes and carried no visible weapons.

‘We need to talk to the priest and collect an item from him,’ said Sir Hancock.

The woman shook her head. ‘As I said; nothing here for you.’

Suddenly, from inside the hut came an agonised scream.

‘Pay up Besc,’ grinned one man. ‘I said the old fool wouldn’t keep his mouth shut.’

The other man threw down the joint of meat. ‘All right Ysin, I’ll concede that she’s good with whatever that thing is doing to him.’

Sir Hancock threw a punch at Ysin and tried to get through the door of the hut.

‘Guard the door,’ yelled the woman. ‘I’ll take the Skeane monster.’

‘On it Pytha,’ came the reply.

Pytha moved impossibly fast, both her arms snaked out and struck Spuddle, spinning him around. His counter-strike just about connected and stunned her momentarily. Besc activated a device at his belt that created a force shield, Carbon tried a targeted strike that hit the belt, causing it to malfunction and electrocute Besc. **** Ysin and Sir Hancock traded blows; Ysin had a retaliation field artefact that caused Sir Hancock to take damage from his own attacks; finally Sir Hancock’s superior Might paid off and Ysin went down.

Pytha was being attacked by Carbon and Spuddle; she activated a disguise cypher and was able to escape. *****

Screams were still coming from inside the hut; there was an old man, naked, tied to a bench. Across his chest was crawling a spider-like object leaving thread-like white burns behind it. The spider was controlled by a woman using a wrist controller – the right side of her face was a blistered mass of raw flesh; her left scalp was bare save for a few wisps of straggly brown hair. She was firing questions at the victim. Next to her stood a man of regal bearing; he had cropped dark hair and a short full-set beard. He was missing the ring finger off his left hand.

‘What is the orb? Where did you get it? What does it do? Where is the treasure?’

‘Stop this at once!’ yelled Sir Hancock. ‘You are breaking the law.’

‘On the contrary,’ replied the woman. ‘I am SinYs, licensed member of the Guild of Torturers in Rarmon and I am working under a legal contract for Lord Toorkman.’

‘That would be me,’ said the man. ‘I prefer just Toorkman. You may have heard of me? No? Well, no matter.’

‘Let the priest go,’ said Sir Hancock. ‘I need something from him.’

‘So do I,’ replied Toorkman, ‘and SinYs is getting for me. Now please be good and go away.’

He paused; then looked at Sir Hancock. ‘I’ll offer a deal. The thing you want, in return for your ring finger.’

Sir Hancock went to punch Toorkman; from the wrist control on SinYs’ wrist a cloud of incandescent sparks erupted and struck deep into everyone’s eyes. Doubled over in agony; by the time their eyes had cleared, Toorkman and SinYs had gone.

The priest was dying and they couldn’t save him. He managed to gasp out a message –

‘I have found the pod that Hepesh wants. You must carry it back to the Temple. It must be immersed in pure fresh water to keep it alive- do not put it in sea water’

At the back of the hut they found a large pail of water; in it was a rubbery, multi-layered jellyfish; grey-green in colour. Spuddle touched it; there was a sensation like touching a stinging nettle.

‘Why does everything in this world have to hurt?’

A search of the hut revealed 30 shins and 5 cyphers

(In “The Geometric Shape”, the figure fell forwards across the table, a neat hole burnt through the centre of their forehead.)

From the direction of the factory came a loud explosion and the earth heaved. Part of the roof of the hut caved in.

‘I think the factory’s going.’

To be continued …

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

GM notes

* Similar to Surströmming

** One of my favourite books

*** NOT Sir Harcourt. Matt pointed out that I’d been misspelling his name all along (doh!)

**** Harry rolled TWO ‘20’s’ consecutively.

***** Spuddle was quite badly hurt by Pytha (Level 4 (12), 2 attacks that do 5 damage each)

In the original playtest, Pytha died in the first round of combat and didn’t get to attack anyone!

GM: Again in this combat, there was an air of “I’m going to die if I take another hit and there’s nothing I can do”

“You could play dead”

“That wouldn’t work – they’d just keep attacking me until I was.’ ******

AAAARGGGH!

In most fights (and I’ve been in some real ones during my misspent youth), if you put your immediate opponent down then you look for the next real threat. Only in a one to one would you keep pounding on your opponent and even then you’d stop. If someone is hitting on you then you tend to go for them.

In Game Terms, if there is a ganging-up then the baddie attacks the one who did the most damage to them last attack. If you put that baddie down then you go for the next one (and so on).

****** Ben had just taken 10 pts of damage from a double attack and completely forgotten to account for armour coming off each attack.

The Currents of Space – Episode 3.2

Episode 3.2

Rachel and Gerda’s PMC squad are on Paradise (Gliese 250, CAP 0405). The Makita ship is due to land here on 05.08

There is a restricted area owned by Makita. There are biohazard signs on the approach. Makita are researching life forms that can survive in a dry hostile environment.

‘There are no other landing pads other than the spaceport. When the Makita ship comes in, it will have to land there.’

‘Ok, so what’s the plan?’

2226 – 05.07, Paradise

‘So what’s the plan?’ Rachel didn’t answer so Gerda slammed her hand down on the table. ‘Gott im Himmel Rachel, the ship’s due to land tomorrow!’

Rachel was staring bright-eyed at the computer terminal. ‘They should be using a standard approach orbital insertion with a ship that big, although this port is big enough to take it.’

‘Rachel! Dichhat Gott im Zorn erschaffen! Whatever that shit is you’re taking, you need to lay off it. I’m taking charge of this mission and we’ll talk more later.’

The port official, Valentin Kavelin, was looking for a cheap passage off-planet and was more than happy to help. Soon, all of Gerda’s PMC squad were down on the surface; although they all had to pay the water tax. Trooper Bai scouted out the labs a little more; she reported that there were at least two guards inside wearing ballistic vests and carrying auto pistols.

When the Makita ship was on approach; Gerda’s people stormed the lab; there was a brief firefight but they took control. One of the scientists, a Chinese woman in her 50’s was wounded; she was hit by a ricochet. Medic Liu stabilised her; the lab was well-equipped with autodocs and they got her into one. 

‘Who is she?’

One of the lab staff answered – ‘She is Dr Che Suyin and your kidnap attempt has failed if she dies.’

The Makita ship landed and, as expected, began to off-load its cargo of water. However, the Makita team were expecting trouble and another firefight broke out as they entered the laboratory. There were four Makita guards; two of them were killed and the other two badly hurt. PMC Bennet took several hits and was also placed into an autodoc.

‘Sarge. Howell. That bastard Kavelin ratted out on us and warned Makita that we were waiting.’

‘Schiesse! What’s the ship doing?’

‘Still pumping water. I don’t think he spoke to the captain.’

‘So who did he speak to? Ask him!’

‘Sorry Sarge. He’s not in a fit state to answer.’

Gerda sent some of her team to recover the ro-ro hypersleep pods, posing as lab technicians and guards. Meanwhile, Gerda was drawn to part of the lab where there were noises coming from. She saw Rachel, wide-eyed and sweat-streaked, throwing boxes and bottles around.

‘Where is it? Where do they keep it? Why no Beta? All f-fucking scientists take it.’ She looked up and saw Gerda and moved towards her. ‘Gerda, Gerda, you’ve got some, haven’t you? I know you have; you’ve got it just for me. You’ve got everything for me.’ She moved closer and Gerda roughly pushed her away. Rachel fell to the floor, sobbing.

‘Liu!’ ‘Sarge?’ ‘Keep an eye on her. She’s a Betaseratonin user; obviously her supply has run out.’ Liu thought a moment. ‘There is a substitute, Tropigiline, which I might be able to synthesise, but it’s only a short-term solution. She needs rehab from that sort of stuff.’

The ruse worked and six ro-ro hypersleep pods were wheeled into the laboratory. All lights showed green. Gerda ordered the lab doors sealed once everyone, including Howell, was inside. The pods were hooked up to the internal sources in the lab in adjacent medical bays.

‘Ok, let’s open them up.’

Rachel had settled down after the injection of Tropigiline and was able to identify the sleepers as they awoke. They were all suffering from recovery sickness.

Paula Vertise – Paula was covered in taser burns; Liu moved in with a local anaesthetic spray.

Achernar – was also covered in taser burns, but was able to speak after a time.

‘Rachel. Glad to see you. Don’t know your friends.’ He glanced at Paula and winced. ‘We were jumped boarding the flight to Singapore – you can probably guess by whom? They kept this up for a few days before prepping us for the hypersleep.’ *

LL – badly wounded. He was put straight into an autodoc.

A middle-aged woman, Chinese.

‘Why am I here? Has the operation been brought forward? Wait – who are you?’

Achernar stepped forward. ‘Hello, Aunt Hudai; chief researcher into genetic modifications for Haruna. Strange to find you in a Makita laboratory. **

A middle-aged woman, Slavic features. She was suffering from hyper sickness badly and couldn’t speak for retching.

‘Where’s Bella?’ screamed Rachel suddenly. ‘She can’t be dead!’ She rounded on Howell. ‘You said she was loaded aboard the ship!’

Howell opened his mouth, at this point a primal scream erupted from the next med bay and a wild-eyed, pale-skinned woman burst into the laboratory, still trailing sensor and monitor wires from the pod.

‘It’s Wantanabe!’

To be continued …

——————————————————————————————————–

GM notes

* Xref Season One

** I said the family tree I created for Achernar back in 2019 would come in useful one day!

It’s a Family Tree system I devised many years ago to set up noble families; it uses a deck of playing cards and produces an entire family tree very quickly. I don’t use it for every PC/NPC, but it is surprising how useful the information can be at times.

Things are moving ahead again; I’ve found that once you’ve got a few Storylines open, thing start to suggest themselves.

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 …

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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.