In The Key of Time VI


A Future Imperfect

“This is what we saw earlier. We are in our future.”

Galadiir and Harrylock ran from the Margr and headed back towards the Time Rotor. They quickly found that the Guardian was still active and they were both injured by the murderous bolts of electricity.

“I badly need to rest”, gasped Galadiir as they reached the south control room.

Meanwhile, Judson and Sonny went back through the Philethis’ chamber (“Leave this place. They are not for you. Go, leave, now”) and headed north to the second Portal. This was dark and broken; in the centre of the chamber were four Merkadian Soldiers, slashed in a thousand places and decapitated. They didn’t stick around to find out what had done this to them*. Retracing their steps, they set about finding the others.

Galadiir and Harrylock had rightly surmised that there was a fourth control room behind the gallery overlooking the Time Rotor. They were surprised to see a woman at the control panel, carrying a strange device and using it to examine the panel. She looked familiar and they realised that it was Varenis.

“Oh. You aren’t who I was expecting. Still, isn’t this fantastic? Two hundred years and it is still functioning. However, something is wrong; wrong in the past.”

At this point, Judson and Sonny entered the control room. There was a ripple and they were standing by the tomb containing the body of Varenis, at the instance Harrylock fell on to it; knocked by the Chronal Feeder. There was a brilliant flash and they were back in the control room with Varenis. However, of Judson there was no sign.

“Judson? Was he ever with us? I don’t remember him after the incident in the tomb room”

Varenis spoke impatiently. “The machine is being tampered with in the past. This device must be taken back to the past and installed in the control panel in this room. This will restore the machine to its full function.”

“Why can’t you take it yourself?”

“Because if I return to the past I will die. The Queen is to have me killed on completion of the machine. I have seen this future. But, if the machine is not fixed, then this future will become unstable” **

“How do we fix it?”

“This device”; Varenis held up the piece of numenera she was carrying, “has to be installed in this slot on the control panel in the past. It will reset the timeline; you can then use the machine to return to your own time.”

They all had a quick conference, but decided to follow what Varenis was suggesting. At this point there was a heavy explosion from somewhere and the walls and floor shook.

“The world is being invaded by the Grand Orbital Territory of Merkadia. Even now, their Continental Siege Machines are drawing ever closer. You don’t have much time.”

Varenis explained how to set the codes on the sliders in the control rooms; to go into the past they need to set 16011920***. The machine activates when the last code is set.

Harrylock went to set his code in the west control room and found the biomech Talia*5 there. They recognised each other from the hospital/prison. Talia*5 spoke.

“Varenis Ilobar is lying to you. The device will not restore the time stream – it will destroy it. This future that he has escaped to will be locked forever and the world will burn in Merkadian flame.”

“What do we do?”

“Use the machine to return to your own time and walk away, but make sure you take the device. Without it, Varenis cannot lock the time stream and he will die in 970 by order of the Queen, exactly as it should be.”

“How do you know all of this?”

“I created the device.”

Harrylock went and found Galadiir and brought him to talk to Talia*5. They were convinced and worked out a plan to set all the sliders whilst Harrylock kept Varenis distracted. The ploy succeeded; at the last minute Varenis realised what they had done but it was too late.

Up in the west control room the tomb was intact; the five rings were filled with the glowing energy field. However, the body floating in the field was not Varenis; it was Judson. Some experimentation found that the numenera device fitted a slot in the synth base; the filed collapsed and the rings rotated into the floor; Judson fell to the ground. They all realised that the machine was still active; not wishing a return to Varenis’ nightmare future they exited the complex via the Philethis (“You have travelled, but have always been here”), the (working) Portal in the Aeon Priest’s camp and out into the cave.

Heading to Shallamas through the strange conical hills, they decided to visit the woman whose son had aged dramatically. She didn’t recognise them.

Back in Shallamas, at the Pub of Ubbub, they were really surprised to find that they had only just left and the landlord was surprised to see them back so soon.

End of the Adventure


GM Notes

* Vapes

** Judson’s player (Ben) was now playing Varenis; having become them during the incident at the tomb.

*** It’s not rocket science; a simple numerical code based on the letters of the alphabet spelling PAST/NOW/IF

The crossover thing, with Ben playing the major villain, was interesting but had a few issues. I had prepared a briefing sheet for him; like how to play the character and what their goals were. Ben felt he needed more info on the characters background and motives

Overall, the PC’s gained a few xp and there was a bout of gaining new abilities


In The Key of Time V

When Are We?

                The Wayfarers are exploring a strange complex outside of the city of Shallamas in Navarene. The complex appears to be a huge machine capable of shifting through time. They have been to the past and possibly the future and are currently (they think) back in their present time. It is also apparent that the time shifts are affecting the balance of things; strange insectoid creatures called Chronal Feeders keep appearing and attacking selected targets. Central to all of this seems to be a mysterious creature, a Philethis that speaks only in riddles.

                The Dead Soldiers advanced towards Judson and Sonny, who shot arrows at them. These had little effect; in response the Soldiers raised their swords and fired back crackling blue orbs that exploded with a booming electrical display of coruscating electric arcs. Both Judson and Sonny were skilled in avoiding this sort of attack; unsure of what else the Soldiers were capable of, they retreated*

The Wayfarers re-united in the Philethis’ chamber (“You seek understanding – then listen to the music, not the song”.) They headed south, after a short distance they found a round chamber. There were exits NE and SE. The chamber was lit by a glowing synth strip that ran round the top of the wall. In the ceiling was a hemispherical metal dome. On the floor was a body; clad in the robes of an Aeon Priest. Galadiir ran over to the body and picked it up. A massive bolt of electricity arced out of the metal hemisphere and struck him full on. He stood there, staggered, and a second bolt hit him. Galadiir started to crumple; Judson ran forwards and barged him into the NE passage; but in turn was hit by a bolt of lightning. He ran for the NE corridor; Sonny followed; using his speed to dodge the murderous bolts. Harrylock followed; he took a couple of hits from which he took minimal damage; but then took a massive hit that bypassed his armour. Charred and injured; he fell forwards into the corridor.

They took some time to rest; Galadiir searched the body of the Aeon Priest; as he had rightly guessed, it was Kappad, companion to Holger. There was a notebook; Galadiir took this and read it without divulging its contents to the others. The book was a scrawled set of notes: –

“Kappad’s notebook // Must keep this secret from Holger – he’ll try and steal them as his own //This whole place is a time vortex // the sliders control it – HOW?

Present = 00141523 = Now?”

Suddenly, from the chamber of the Guardian, came the explosive sounds of multiple electrical arcs and a foul smell of burning flesh. At the entrance to the corridor appeared three Merkadian Soldiers**. Galadiir stayed back, Sonny, Judson and Harrylock moved forward to attack and keep them back. The Merks raised their swords and launched the detonations; Sonny and Judson dodged them; Harrylock took some damage. The Merks were eventually taken down by a combination of melee and missile attacks. Judson picked up a Blaster-Sword but was unable to get it to work. He carried it anyway; surmising it might be worth something.


The sound came from Judson’s belt. He groaned and pulled a small device and glanced at it. It was the numenera device that warned if his Beast transformation was due. Sonny especially was concerned (as Beast-Judson had attacked him before).

“We’re underground. How do I know when the moon is up?”

“Does it matter whether you can see the moon or not?” ***

Galadiir decided to explore the corridor to the south; this meant passing the Guardian again. He made it, but was Disabled (again). Harrylock followed him (for his own safety). The corridor led into a round chamber, two passages led off into darkness. Against the W wall was a Portal. In the chamber were some cot beds and travel gear, a small heater / stove and a glowglobe. Galadiir went to lie down on one of the beds.

“Stop!” The voice was commanding. “Who are you and what are you doing here?” The speaker wore the robes of an Aeon Priest. Galadiir recognised him as Tevarus; leader of the mission.

“Hello Tevarus. We have met before.”

“We have never met. Now, state your business here and how you got in.”****

Galadiir sat in the edge of one of the cots and related their story. Just as he reached the end; the terrible wheezing and groaning sound filled the air. Galadiir watched as Tevarus and the other Aeon Priests faded from view. Replacing them was a chamber full of Margr; a brief fight ensued and became apparent that the Margr were armed with powerful black beam emitters. Harrylock was severely injured *****.

In the control room, Judson and Sonny watched as the siders moved on their own and the noise began. They ran down to the Time Rotor to see it arcing and flaring with strange energies. Random patterns and clumps of time were floating about; Judson saw Sonny revert to being about three years old. For a brief instance there were two Sonny’s; then he reverted to his normal self. It did not take a genius to work out that there was something wrong. They went into the chamber where the tomb was, to find it dark and empty; two of the rings were broken.

“This is what we saw earlier. We are in our future.”

To be continued


GM Notes

* = Turned and ran

** Identified as what the Dead Soldiers were

*** I had created a Game calendar; but the players don’t really care about it. For the ‘Howls at the Moon’ Focus; I use a real calendar and look to see when the full moon is. If it is within 2 days either side on a Gaming session then the PC MAY transform. If the Full Moon is ON a Gaming night then the PC WILL transform.

For all other time-dependent things I use GM intrusion.

**** Cue another involved discussion about time travel. The final conclusion was that they were in their own time, but before the time when Tevarus met them.

***** His luck has well and truly run out, it seems (Harry has been rolling a non-stop stream of ‘1’s).

We tried the last few combats using a mapping system used in the board/miniatures game ‘Mars Attacks’. I don’t think it’s added much so we are reverting to a maples system.

I’m interested in how any other GM’s handle the maples combat. Comments welcome.

In The Key Time IV

Ripples in Time

                The Rotor chamber smelt of ozone and was covered in dust. Harrylock decided to go back to the hospital; to check on Talia-5 and Lorn. They all went up to the control chamber. Judson was still sitting in front of the panel; however, at the north end, there was now a device. A flat slab of synth; above it were five unsupported vertical rings. A blue-white energy field filled the space between the rings; inside the field was the body of Varenis Illoba. Two large insectoid creatures were trying to get at the body …


“Did you touch anything?” called Galadiir to Judson, glancing at the position of the sliders, which were now set at 14 “No”, replied Judson, “So where did that and those come from?”

Harrylock readied his heavy crossbow and shot the nearest creature. The arrow sank into it and with a hiss it rippled out of sight.*

“Great, “said Sonny. “They can turn invisible.” Just then, three of the things rippled into being right next to them and attacked with their crushing mandibles. Galadiir used his Ice Onslaught whilst Sonny electrically charged up his verred. The creatures took some damage and rippled out again. Another rippled in next to Harrylock and two others appeared next to Sonny. Judson struck at the one nearest to him and Harrylock pulled back to join the others. Three creatures appeared and attacked Harrylock, hurting him**. More of the creatures rippled in, they turned and ran towards the ‘tomb’. Harrylock was the last; a creature appeared behind him and struck, he took some damage but was knocked forward on to the ‘tomb’.

There was an intense blue-white flash.

When their sight returned, they were standing by the ‘tomb’. The room was dark and smelt of damp earth, overlaid with a faint smell of burning. The ‘tomb’ was dark; there was no energy field and no body. Two of the rings were smashed and broken.

“The future?” hazarded Judson, “or the past?”

“No no, “said Galadiir. “In the past it was all brand new. We are in the future”. He glanced to one side, past where Harrylock was clutching his head, at the slider panel. “Let’s see what the sliders are set at.”

At this point two Chronal Feeders rippled in, dragging a screaming Aeon Priest. They crossed the chamber and rippled out. The glimmer faded and they were back by the ‘tomb’ containing the body of Varenis Ilobar. Harrylock was still clutching his head.

“My head hurts inside”. “It’s because you’re not used to getting hurt”***

Sonny sat down by the ‘tomb’ and started to examine it; helped by Galadiir and his reference work on numenera. They decided that Varenis was somehow ‘stopped’ in time and also that it would be a BAD THING to mess with the ‘tomb’. There did not seem to be any obvious way of shutting it down.

“So how does he get out?”

Following a long and involved discussion as to the nature of time travel*** and a short rest they decided to explore some more of the complex. From the chamber containing the Time Rotor they went N; finding, as they expected, another curved room with a slider panel. The sliders were set at 00. On top of the panel was a mug with a switch in the handle; it could be made to heat liquids or chill them. Galadiir tested it on the can of drink he’d got out of the vending machine. A passage led north.

They decided to split up; Galadiir and Harrylock went back through the Time Rotor and investigated the south ramp sloping up, whilst Judson and Sonny went to speak to Kitchener*****

As they suspected, the S ramp led to another curved chamber with a slider panel. There was a human figure here, examining the panel. He turned as they entered. It was an Aeon Priest.

“Greetings to you. What do you think this does? These sliders move to different settings but appear to do nothing.”

“You haven’t moved them have you?” Galadiir grew up amongst Aeon Priests and so was careful to use all the correct prefixes and honorifics.

“Who are you? You did not come with us. Did Tevarus send you to find us?”

“You say us? Are you not alone?”

“I am Holgar, Seeker of the Truth. My companion Kappad went to find a route back to the entrance. We came as a group under the leadership of Tevarus. My companion Kappad and myself have been exploring; Kappad has returned to bring the others.

“What year is it? What is your year?”

“Why, ten-fifteen of course.”

Galadiir and Harrylock glanced at each other and Galadiir spoke.

“This whole area is a time machine and we are travelling through time. Out there (he gestured at a wall), it may not be ten-fifteen at all.

“Hmm, very Interesting. It will be a challenge to complete …”

Holgar was cut short as a clump of Chronal Feeders rippled in. Two of them grabbed him in their mandibles and he was dragged off screaming as they rippled out. A third one tried to grab Galadiir but he managed to avoid it and it vanished.

Meanwhile, Judson and Sonny went back to the Philethis, it stood as before, surrounded by three dull-green glowing cylinders. Again, the voice that bypassed their ears.

“You do not understand. But you will…”

 “What do you mean!” called Sonny.

“Understanding is a three edged sword. Your side, their side and the truth.”

“I don’t think this guy is ever going to say something sensible”

Deciding to return to the conference chamber where they met the technicians, they were a bit disconcerted to find that that passage wasn’t there; as if it had never existed. There was a passage N and a new passage S. They went N, surmising that it should lead back to the octagonal chamber with the Portal. It did, although as they approached they became aware of a smell, a foul stench that got worse as they approached the chamber. The chamber was there; the shrine was bare apart for a single small statuette lying on its side, covered in dust. The Portal was malfunctioning; the black field was flickering and fading intermittently. In the chamber were six warriors, clad in unusual armour and carrying long thin swords of an unfamiliar design. Although they appeared corpse-like and long dead; there was no mistaking the deadly purpose in which they drew their swords and prepared to attack.

“I think we’re in trouble.”

To be continued…


GM Notes

* Chronal Feeders, although no-one recognised them.

** Harrylock isn’t used to getting hurt!

*** And gets no sympathy from those who are

**** I couldn’t follow most of this, but there were some interesting theories about causality and paradoxes.

***** They named the Philethis ‘Kitchener’ after the Great War recruiting poster, because he always seemed to be looking at you.

The Wayfarers are having such a good time in this Game; it is a good blend of combat and weirdness. It is fun to watch Galadiir (Matt) attempting to map the complex – he hasn’t yet worked out that it is mapped out on a tesseract (which was and is a bit of a brain-burner to interpret.)