Poetry

Years ago, I came across a poem on an internet site. I can’t remember the site, or the Game system, or the author. However, I do love the poem – it, to me, sums up fantasy roleplaying to a ‘T’. So I’m going to re-post it here.

To repeat – I didn’t write this, no challenge or plagiarism is intended.

Our fortunes cast in arcane currents,
Our hearts joyful, though far from home.
On rolling waves in the Astral sea,
We sail beneath the moon and stars.
Have you a wish? It’s ours to answer,
Or pay your fare on our voyage of dreams,
Over mountains, seas, and endless sands, 
A hundred cities, before you’ll see home.
Open the sails and steer the wheel.
The star-shine smiles on our endeavour.
Which way blows the wind?
And what will our fortunes be?

Isn’t it fantastic? I have a copy inside my GM notes and on the front page of the notebook I use for the Journal of Sica Sendrillar. Every time I read it I get a ‘sense of wonder.’

The House at Codun

Grateful for the return of his prize Rukomol and true to his word, Ruko Uolis bought the Wayfarers a house on the edge of the town of Codun (in the Pytharon Empire).

                The sale took some time to go through; it was on the 29th of Prevaen when they headed out to view their new house. It wasn’t quite what they were expecting. A screen of hedges and vegetation hid a perfectly circular lake, crossed by four bridges at the north, south east and west. The bridges led to a circular island; on this was a building that looked like a pile of stone globes or spheres piled on top of one another in a random pattern. Many of the spheres had asymmetric curved windows set in them; some were obviously open to the sky, like balconies. There was one doorway, facing south, with a clump of smaller pods / globes next to it.

Galadiir strode towards the doorway. The nearest pod split open to reveal a tooth-lined maw and a set of grasping tendrils – an Orgulous! Galadiir was struck and grasped by the tendrils, which started to pull him into the mouth. Harrylock leapt forward to help him and a second Orgulous opened and attacked him. He was not so lucky; the stinging venom on the tendrils paralysed him and he was dragged towards the creature. Sonny charged his verred and severed the tendril holding Harrylock; Galadiir used Ice Onslaught to break free; almost immediately the creature grabbed him again. A second Ice Onslaught hurt the creature and it released him and closed up. Judson shot successive arrows into the other Orgulous and it released Harrylock and closed up.

They decided to come back later and deal with the Orgulous * Passing through the entrance, they went through a kind of force field and into an entrance hall.

(GM: The entire house is a series of globular rooms arranged on top of each other, linked by curving stairs, or sometimes on the same level, with just a slight step up or down. I gave them an expanded map of the house with named areas showing the links, and let them explore.)

They first of all went to the Force Room; Galadiir and Judson were seized by an invisible hand of force and thrown against the far wall, taking some damage. They continued up the outside stairs to the East Balcony, Harrylock and Sonny went up to the Kitchen.

In the Kitchen, they found it a well-equipped and spotless food preparation area. At one side was a large machine wearing a chef’s hat at a jaunty angle. There was a speaker grille, a dial reading 1-10 and a large green button. Sonny pressed the button. The machine spoke, with an outrageous French accent: –

“Ah, M’seur, you have made an excellent choice. I, Henri-Louis, will prepare for you Sauted Serand Roots with a Scange dressing. It will be ready immediately.”

A panel slid open and out came a plate with a steaming dish of food on it. Sonny tried the food; it was delicious.

Judson turned the dial to ‘10’ and pressed the button.

“Ah, M’seur, you have made an excellent choice for your banquet. I, Henri-Louis, will prepare for you Sauted Serand Roots with a Scange dressing. It will be ready in a short time”.

Sometime later, the panel slid open and out came ten plates of steaming food.

The East Balcony was overgrown with a moss-like flower. Galadiir and Judson went through into the Living Room. There was a dining table and eight chairs, as well as low sofas arranged around an opaque globe. The globe didn’t seem to do anything, so they went through to the Kitchen. Galadiir pressed the button.

“Ah, M’seur, you have made an excellent choice. I, Henri-Louis, will prepare for you a selection of Chatowsis in Arrakhee. It will be ready immediately.”

The panel slid open and a plate of food slid out. It was yellow balls of something in a thick brown sauce; it stank like an unwashed dog. Galadiir picked it up and threw it in the bin.

Judson set the dial to ‘3’ and got three plates of delicious Wegan Bean stew topped with flaked Scarrap. He ate all of them, stating he was hungry**

Galadiir and Judson headed up to the Library, Sonny and Harrylock went down to the Basement. They found the Cellar, stocked with all types of rare vintages; some possibly not of this world. The Imagination Room, with its weird shifting images, gave them a headache. They headed down to the Basement.

                In the Library, they found a windowless room with many synth panels covering the walls. A central dais held a circular panel on a pedestal. Galadiir found how to activate it; the Library was an Asset to any general research tasks. Moving up to the Study, this was another windowless room with a large synth panel on one wall and a table showing a map of the Steadfast. The map was not active.

“There must be a power switch somewhere. Is it in the basement perhaps?”

Sonny and Harrylock entered the basement; it was dark and they were using a glowglobe. Just too late, Harrylock yelled a warning; Sonny walked into a Steel Spider web that sliced into him. The spiders were alerted and moved to attack; Harrylock backed off; yelling to Sonny to do the same. Sonny elected to stand and fight;*** it soon became obvious that he was outmatched.  He did use a tactic of sending an electric charge through the webs; creating an area effect. However, he was bitten and badly hurt by the injected monofilament. He retreated back to the Kitchen.

The Observatory was a hemisphere; open to the sky but covered by a window field (they had found that all of the windows were covered by a force field that stopped wind and rain getting in.) In the centre of the room stood a three-armed device; designed to rotate. A simple examination showed that each of the arms was made to have something attached to it.

In the Upper Hall, Galadiir found a niche in the wall with a bracelet in it. The bracelet had a series of tiny lights set in it, along with the inscription ‘”Mi raba in nehati predvajati enega”. He did not recognise the language; he put on the bracelet.

Back in the Kitchen, they decided to take on the Steel Spiders in the basement. The fight was fairly straightforward, although Harrylock stumbled into a large piece of web and was hurt, this shook him as he is not used to taking damage. Eventually the spiders were killed. ****

Searching the room (taking extra care because of the monofilament web left); Judson found a Needle Pistol and Sonny found a Rejuvenation cypher. A control panel turned on the power to the house; they could seal the front door; turn off the Force Room and operate the lights in each room.

The day was drawing late and they decided to turn in for the night. There were six bedrooms available; each was identical. A bathroom / fresher removed all grime and dirt using sonic force; the bed was a disc on the floor with a suspensor field projected above it.

The following morning they awoke to find Galadiir was missing. A note was in the living area, on the table.

“My friends. The time has come that I must go away. I may return; but I may not be the same person that you knew. I have left some item in my room – use them wisely. G” ****

End of Adventure

XP = 2

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

GM

* Actually, their first thought was to go and find Uolis and beat him up for selling them a turkey.

** The 29th is the night of the Full Moon – Judson’s warning timer isn’t working.

*** Interesting. Sonny’s player (Joe) actually has a phobia against spiders.

**** So does Matt

***** This is actually a parting of the ways. Matt is off to university (in Leicester) and so will not be a regular Wayfarer.  We are hoping that, once he is settled in, that maybe we can Game still on a Tuesday using Skype.

 

 

Thirty Minutes After Midnight – II

Episode 2 – A Race against Time

            “I suggest you hurry. The fuses are set for thirty minutes after midnight and you have a long way to go.”

            The projector clicked off and began to rewind automatically.

“So, we have intruders?” The voice came from the door

            Outside, Jack sat bolt upright and nudged Alex. Four Chinese figures were approaching the car; four more were going into the door of the restaurant.

            “You will surrender and come with us”. The speaker was a Chinaman, wearing a red headband. Flanking him were two others; both wearing headbands.

“Why? Where are we going?” countered Yozmodius. He glanced at Dr Zeus.

“You are going downstairs. Lady Sin wishes you to speak to her.”

“I’m going nowhere.” Yoz went to pull his gun; the nearest Chinaman leapt across the room and made a series of lightning-fast karate chops at him. Yoz was Shaken and Wounded! Another Chinaman attacked Zeus; with a similar result. They needed no further prompting; they both surrendered. *

Outside, Jack and Alex watched the Chinese approach the car. They closed the windows and prepared to sit it out. This changed when one of the Chinamen threw a burning firecracker / flare into the the car; it missed but it freaked out Jack. He floored the gas and threw the car round the corner; out into the street. The Chinese made no moves to stop them. They drove through Curtistown for a time, then returned to the ‘Wing Yip’ to observe from across the street.

Yoz and Dr Zeus were taken downstairs into the basement and locked in a cell. Two Chinese stayed on guard; they would not respond or communicate with the prisoners. Sometime later the door opened and in walked a stunningly beautiful Asian woman, wearing a Cheongsam; flanked by two hard-faced Chinamen. She gestured with a hand and one of the guards began to fill the cistern of the Water Torture device. She walked close to the bars of the cell.

“ I am Lady Sin. I work for the Shadow Sun Syndicate and I am Lo Fat’s chief interrogator. You will eventually tell me everything I want to know. Who of you wants to be the first?”

“Me!” yelled Dr Zeus. He then proceeded to tell Lady Sin of everything that they knew about the bracelets; what they were and the plot to destroy the Combined Fuel Depot, **

“There,” cooed Lady Sin. “That wasn’t so hard, was it? The Syndicate rewards those who help it.”

Without warning; both Yoz and Dr Zeus had bracelets snapped around their wrists.

“You have seen the film. The fuses are set for thirty minutes after midnight. You have seventeen hours.”

Dr Zeus called after her. “I’d like to see you again.” Lady Sin turned and smiled. “You would not ever want to meet me again, the pleasure would be mine only.”

Outside; Jack and Alex saw Dr Zeus and Yoz run from the building and noted the bracelets.

“Drive!”, yelled Yoz. “We have to get to the bunker and the keys.”

The drive from Port Douglas to the fuel depot took eleven hours ***. The depot was up a dirt track off the main road. A large hill with a set of double doors was surrounded by a wire fence; a few lights on poles illuminated the inside. Guarding the fence were three soldiers wearing US military fatigues. A fourth soldier manned a .50 cal. MG mounted on a jeep ****

The plan they came up with was so convoluted that it just had to work! Jack and Alex boldly marched up to the main gate and asked for directions to Boston (about 2880 miles!). They then started arguing in a mixture of Spanish and Italian; distracting the guards while Yoz and Dr Zeus broke in though the fence. Zeus used his Invisibility Belt and Yoz managed to sneak across to the warehouse door. The main doors were huge, but there was a smaller access door. It was locked, but Yoz used his lockpicking skills to open it and they got inside.

The depot was huge, large warehouse-sized rooms filled with drums of fuel oil, gasoline and aviation fuel, lit by the occasional bulb. There did not appear to be any guards inside. They began searching everywhere for the keys to the bracelets. ***** With about two hours remaining they actually found three keys; they unlocked their bracelets and left the third key in plain sight. They succeeded in sneaking out again through the hole in the fence and ran down to the road, where Jack and Alex were waiting in the car.

“Drive!” yelled Yoz, “there’s only about thirty minutes left.” Sure enough, the bracelets were growing warm and beginning to sizzle; giving off acrid fumes. After twenty minutes they pulled up by a lake; Zeus and Yoz hurled the bracelets as far as they could into the water; then they drove off. Shortly afterwards there was a muffled explosion and a ball of white flame rose over the trees behind them.

Back in Port Douglas, Jack was relieved to find that his apartment had not exploded in flames. However, Swallow’s body and the bracelet were missing. The window to the apartment had been forced open. A note was on the fire mantelpiece, it read

“You have not heard the last of me”

XP = 2

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

GM notes

* Pulp Benny awarded for surrendering to overwhelming force.

** Hindrance: Big Mouth

*** Used a modified Dramatic Task to determine how long it took

**** An anachronism – the Jeep was first produced in 1940. This was probably an experimental Chrysler model.

***** They were firmly convinced that there were no keys and that they would not be able to remove the bracelets (GM: The Shadow Sun Syndicate aren’t that evil – or are they?)

* Has anyone spotted where the inspiration for this adventure came from? It would be FAB if you did.

Thrilling Adventure Stories – 3

Thirty Minutes after Midnight

Part 1 – Secrets of Chinatown

After their stay in England as guests of Lord Starling and a tour of the British Isles (Stonehenge, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Buckingham Palace) Jack, Dr Zeus, Yoz and Alex returned to Port Douglas. They spent some of their money on various things; Jack bought his apartment in the Garment District, overlooking the river, and Zeus invested in a posh car, a Chrysler Airflow.  It was whilst out in the car one afternoon that the incident occurred: –

“What the deuce!” exclaimed Jack, who was driving. He wrenched the wheel to the side as a light grey sedan sideswiped them as it sped past. He was able to keep control and sped off in pursuit.

“My car,” wailed Dr Zeus. “They’ll pay for that damage.”

Jack managed to keep the sedan in sight, but it was a faster car and was slowly pulling away. Jack pulled out all the stops and closed up to about 30 feet behind the other car.

“I’ll stop them,” said Yozmodius; pulling both his guns he leant out of the window and loosed off a series of shots at the rear tyres. The results were spectacular; the car spun and exploded in a white-hot ball of flame; one body flying out of the explosion.

“What did you hit!” said Jack, aghast. Dr Zeus looked more thoughtful. “That’s not a normal gasoline fire. Stop the car.”

The heat from the fire was intense; the metal was beginning to buckle and melt. There were two bodies in the car; there was no hope of saving them. Yoz and Jack went to the other body. It was a white, middle-aged male wearing a business suit. He wore a wristwatch on his left wrist and a curious metal bracelet on his right wrist. It was metal, broad, thick and heavy, with a series of red panels set in the upper surface. Yoz tried to take it off; it was locked on, with an intricate lock. He tried to pick the lock but it was not a normal one and he couldn’t do it.

Zeus looked in the man’s billfold; his name was Herbert Swallow, an agricultural machinery salesman with an address in Gloverton. There was a photograph of an attractive dark-haired woman, $50 in cash and a matchbook bearing the logo of the ‘Wing Yip’ Chinese restaurant, in Chinatown.

There was a car approaching, a black Duesenberg. It slowly drove past, the rear window open; then speeded up and off into the distance. They put Swallow’s body into the trunk and headed back to Jack’s Waterside apartment.

Zeus took a closer look at the bracelet, but was unable to find out anything more. They decided to split up *, Yoz and Dr Zeus decided to play the part of detectives from the PDPD and Jack and Alex went to check out the ‘Wing Yip’.

The address in Gloverton was typical for the area, a grassy yard and a detached house in a friendly street. A dark-haired woman answered the door. Some fancy (and lucky) Persuasion from Yoz convinced her who they were and she invited them in. She was Jennifer Swallow, Swallow’s wife, and was visibly upset at the news of his death. They were able to find out: –

  1. a) Swallow was a salesman, he worked for Argyll Agricultural & Tool Suppliers, based in Newton. He left for work this morning as usual. He caught the bus, he didn’t drive. **
  2. b) He wasn’t worried or concerned about anything as far as she knew.
  3. c) His job involved selling tractors and ploughs and stuff to farmers.
  4. d) She gave him the watch for their wedding anniversary; she didn’t know what the bracelet was. They had been married for twenty years.
  5. e) They had never been blessed with children.
  6. f) She would, of course, give the police her full co-operation.

They left and headed off into Newton, to check out Argyll Agricultural & Tool Suppliers.

Jack and Alex headed off through the Curtistown Tenements, heading for Chinatown.

“Watch your step here,” warned Alex. “Even the big gangs like my old lot don’t mess with Chinatown. This place is run by the Shadow Sun Syndicate; has been for years. Head guy is called Sun Lo Fat.”

Jack laughed at this. Alex glanced at him, alarmed. “That’s what I mean, bud. Them that laugh at the guy’s name have things … happen to them.”

The ‘Wing Yip’ was a non-descript building on a side street; with an alleyway down one side. There was an upper floor with a few windows. The outside was hung with Chinese lanterns. Inside was a décor of Chinese motifs in red, yellow and gold. A smiling waiter approached them.

“You want table and see menu? We offer plenty good food, the best in town.

“We’d like a table upstairs”, said Jack. “You know … upstairs?” ***

Still smiling, the waiter shook his head. “No upstairs. Private. You order now?”

Jack and Alex ordered a Chow Mein with crispy noodles each while they thought of a plan. Doing some observation, they saw a door behind the front counter that had some stairs up. While Alex paid, Jack tried to go through the door, but was stopped by another waiter.

“No go here. Private.”

“Sorry, I was looking for the restroom”.

At Argyll Agricultural & Tool Suppliers, Yoz and Dr Zeus spoke to the manager. Swallow didn’t turn up for work that morning. Everyone else clocked in as normal. When asked about the ‘Wing Yip’, the manager was surprised that Swallow would go there as neither he nor his wife liked foreign food. Swallow was just a regular guy, he was ok at his job and produced results. A look round his desk produced nothing ****

Back at the apartment they pooled notes and formulated some theories.

  1. a) Swallow left for work that morning and never arrived
  2. b) He was thrown from an exploding car that afternoon, wearing a strange bracelet that cannot be removed.
  3. c) The bracelet must have been put on after he left for work
  4. d) Everything points to the ‘Wing Yip’, but Swallow hated Chinese food.

They climbed back into the Chrysler and headed back to the ‘Wing Yip’. It was in darkness. Yoz and Dr Zeus left to check out the building; Jack and Alex stayed in the car.

The outer door was locked; Yoz was able to pick the lock easily. The rear door led to the kitchens; there were stairs up and down. Yoz produced a battery torch and went down. The basement contained a series of barred alcoves with lockable gates; cells designed to hold humans. In the centre of the room was a stone bed with chain restraints; over it hung a water-filled stone pitcher. A device to inflict the Chinese Water Torture! Yoz looked for some way to break the infernal device, but there was none. At the far end of the cellar was an area of wall blackened and burnt from intense heat; the remains of part-melted chains hung from heavy staples set in the stone.

Calling to Zeus to follow, Yoz went upstairs. A locked door led to a room with four beds and half a dozen chairs facing a screen. In front of the screen was a cine reel projector. Zeus clicked the switch to ‘on’ and the film began to play.

The film showed a curtain, with a shadow behind it. A voice speaks, a Cultured American, with a trace of a Japanese accent.

“Gentlemen. You have been selected for a mission. Please look and listen carefully to these instructions. There is not time to repeat them. Please watch the film.

The film shows a huge underground warehouse, filled with barrels of fuel oil and aviation fuel.

This is the Combined Forces Fuel Supply depot, in Oregon. Your mission is simple. You will travel there and leave behind the bracelets that you are wearing.”

Pause

“Do not attempt to remove them, the steel is unbreakable. They can only be removed with the correct key. That key is inside the depot. Each bracelet contains a powerful incendiary explosive; timed to go off at thirty minutes after midnight tonight.

Pause

“You doubt me? Then continue to watch the film. This man laughed at my name.

                [A horrible scene; a prisoner wears one of the bracelets, chained to a stone wall. The bracelet explodes into a burning white-hot flame that engulfs the prisoner; burning them to ashes. The chains have melted; the stones are glowing from the heat.]

“I suggest you hurry. The fuses are set for thirty minutes after midnight and you have a long way to go.”

The projector clicked off and began to rewind automatically.

“So, we have intruders?” The voice came from the door. *****

Outside, Jack sat bolt upright and nudged Alex. Four Chinese figures were approaching the car; four more were going into the door of the restaurant.

Stay Tuned for the next issue of Thrilling Adventure Stories – A Race against Time

 

—————————————————————————

GM notes

* Again! Every Game they do this.

** I did have to keep reminding the players of the time period – not everybody drove or owned a car; not every house had a telephone.

*** Jack was hinting at a private club / speakeasy; even though Prohibition ended in 1933; such clubs continued until the 1940’s, and still do today in the guise of ‘Gentlemen’s Clubs’.

****     Harry “Does he have a computer?”

Matt “In the 1930’s, a computer would be as big as this house”

***** Chandler’s Law

GM: There is an Easter Egg here; has anyone spotted it? Comments welcome

The City in Shadow – II

The City in Shadow – 2

 

Judson, Harrylock, Galadiir and Sonny have travelled south to the edge of the Cold Desert in search of some stolen Rukomol. They are exploring a ruined city that is in the shadow of a gigantic floating pyramid.

 

Searching the top of the tower, they found a small pedestal holding a metal globe. It was quite light, made of metal and had lots of tiny holes all over it. Sonny set to examining it whilst Judson looked up at the base of the pyramid forty feet above them. There was no obvious way inside to be seen in the black surface. He took a glowglobe from his pack and used the crystal to float up to the base of the pyramid. He hovered for a moment; he saw a large protruding hemisphere surrounded by six smaller hemispherical depressions. As the power of the crystal faded he slowly floated back down.

 

“We don’t know how much power this thing’s got. We need to make another way down”.

 

They had plenty of rope from the packs they had found; they tied it round the pedestal and let it fall to the ground. Galadiir produced the drawing they had found on the bodies.

 

“I think this thing is the key”, said Sonny. He found a small twist-off cap, inside was a cavity with metal wires and contacts. Sonny reached in and used his Charge esotery; the ball sprouted six spindly legs, skittered around for a short time, then switched off. After some debate*, Sonny wired Judson’s portable heating device into it. They used the crystal to get up to the pyramid; Judson switched on the ball. It extruded six legs that fitted into the six depressions; the hemisphere rotated to reveal a tunnel. They entered; Galadiir used a glowglobe to signal to Sonny where to Bolt Ride to, carrying the crystal.

 

The hemisphere rotated them into a large room, at least fifty feet on each side. The room was full of pieces of equipment; control surfaces filled the floor and walls. There were exits in each wall; all but one was sealed. Most disturbingly, from the ceiling hung many metal tendrils or tentacles; often tipped with grasping claws. Several of these were waving and questing around blindly. Climbing out of the cylinder, Galadiir headed for the open exit.

 

“That’s far enough,” commanded a voice. “This is ours and we’ll have no thieves. Go back to where you came.”

 

Galadiir ignored the command and continued towards the exit. A bolt of white light came out of the shadows and hit him full on, knocking him backwards into a clump of tentacles that tried to grab him.

 

“That was a warning. Go back to where you came from. This is our stuff.”

 

Judson drew his verred and ran at the speaker; a balding man briefly illuminated in the light of his own energy bursts. A bolt of white light hit him; stopping him in in his tracks. Harrylock fired off his X-bow and Sonny drew and fired his buzzer; both shots missed. Judson loosed off an arrow that hit the speaker.

 

“Cheale, Derroch, take them. They will not steal our things”

 

Two others stepped forward; a man with a glowing energy blade and a woman with a long writhing whip of coiled metal.  Galadiir used his Ice Onslaught, it missed and several of the metal tentacles grabbed him.

 

“Wait!” yelled Harrylock. “We are not here to fight or hurt you.” ** “We just want to recover the Rukomol. Then we’ll go and leave you alone.” ***

 

“Rukomol?  You mean these things? Take them and go – they are no use to us.”

 

The next chamber had several control panels and a large floor to ceiling cylinder filled with a luminous blue mist. Also in the chamber were several unhappy Rukomol, one was missing a leg.

 

“We sent the Collector out to get some items to get through the doors. It came back with these things.”

 

An examination of the panels showed that the mist was a collection device; it could be set to collect technological or mechanical devices. It could also be set to return them; Sonny figured out how to do this. The mist flowed out of the cylinder, engulfed the room; and then vanished. So did the Rukomol and Harrylock.

 

“He’s been vaporised!”

 

“No, I don’t think so. Remember, he’s part mechanical as well.”

 

Despite Galadiir wanting to stir up trouble ****, Sonny and Judson persuaded him to leave the pyramid and return to Codun.

 

“Go, and don’t come back.”

 

They used the crystal to descend down to the tower and then climbed down the rope to the courtyard. Judson retraced the route back out of the city and they headed back to Codun. There they found the Rukomol safely back in their stables and Harrylock sitting in the tavern waiting for them.

 

Uolis was true to his word and purchased a house for them on the edge of the town. *****

 

XP = 2

————————————————————————–

GM

* Galadiir point-blank refused to put his Singularity Detonation cypher in it – to be fair; it’s difficult to see how it would have made it work; a bit like connecting a nuclear device to your central heating to get some hot water for a bath.

** “I am” – Galadiir

*** Unusual for Harrylock to string this many words together.

**** Why?

***** “Can we have a tree in the garden?” – Judson. “Certainly. Normal or flesh-eating?”

A Star for Queen Zoe – II

Chapter 2 – Stalled in Steinbach

The survey ship stood in the courtyard of the castle, almost filling it. De Meister nodded appreciatively.

“It’s bigger than I thought. That took some skill to land. Maybe this guy is a good pilot”.

The ship was long, with rounded curves designed for atmospheric operations. The forward section, presumably the bridge, was linked by a wasp-waist to the main body. Surprisingly, there were no windows. In the lower forward part was an opening, with a ramp leading up and in. Two guards stood at the foot of the ramp, armed with halberds.

“First, we breakfast”, said the Duke. “The Count is very strict on routine. We will meet him and the others in the Great Hall.”

“A question,” De Meister stopped the Duke. “Should you not rig up something over the ship to hide it from above?”

The Duke looked up, puzzled. “From above?  Cumberland has a few balloons; but our sentries are on watch for them and have fire arrows.”

“Oh I see. Then the humans from the Bright Empire also use balloons to keep watch over their new territory. That is a comforting thought.” The Duke went pale. “You are right. Camouflage will be arranged immediately.”

In the Great Hall, servants were dishing food out to three people seated at the High Table. As they entered, a herald blew a fanfare and announced “The delegation from Her Majesty the Queen for Andrei Shvedov, Count of the County of the Stein and Herald of the Queen of Richmond”.

“Approach the table, bow and kneel”, advised the Duke. “The Count is your leader and commander of this expedition. He commands respect.”

Dr Ferring started forward; Treggs gave his huge grin and stayed put; Lady Lissia was nowhere to be seen and de Meister and Leila glanced at each other; then both drew their weapons; but held them blade-down.”

The herald blew again. “Andrei Shvedov, Count of the County of the Stein and Herald of the Queen of Richmond, states that he is in command of this expedition and will be accorded the respect that his position demands.”

De Meister stepped forward. “Listen, Count Shvedov. We are under no illusions as to the importance of this mission to Queen Zoe and the kingdom of Richmond; and we are all committed to it. Nothing will be gained though this pomp and ceremony. If you are the captain; then so be it. However, I do not know you. If I think you are making a tactical error, then I will challenge it. I am here as a warrior and fighter under the command of the Queen herself.”

Leila stepped forward, staring at the Count. “I am here for the Queen. I will obey you, but I will not serve you.”

Count Shvedov looked unhappy; but then his face cleared. “I too serve the Queen. To gain our interstellar colony almost certainly will require diplomacy. That is my area; I am empowered to make deals under the authority of the Queen.”

The Duke of Kincaid stepped forward. “Let me introduce your other crewmembers. This is Professor Albert Murphy; ex-chair of mechanics at Perth University. “The balding man nodded; said “I can’t wait to show you around her; she is beautiful”, then went back to his food.

“This is Gita Chandrakala.” The young Asian woman wore the uniform of the Richmond navy. “She is the ship’s pilot.

De Meister started forward. “How did you get to be trained as a pilot? We all know what starships are. But there has not been one here for five hundred years. Why are you so special?”

Chandrakala looked at him. “I am an officer in the Navy; I fought in the battle of Deep Lagoon. Also; I read some books obtained from the Sistema. I can fly this ship; if you have any doubts then there are coldsleep pods in one of the holds.”

The Count rose and declared that they would convene again at sundown to discuss strategy.

“Sundown? I was under the impression that this mission was urgent.”

The Count dabbed delicately at his mouth with a napkin and waved his hand. “You need to learn about the ship and I have an important hunting expedition organised with the Duke of Parun.”

“One more thing, then. Does the ship have a name?” The Count thought for a moment. “It shall be called ‘To the Eternal Glory of her Majesty Queen Zoe of Richmond’.

Leila hissed at this. “It should have a name that will strike fear into our enemies. The ‘Star Huntress’ “.

“How about ‘The Shuddering of Forgotten Enemies?” said de Meister.

“It already has a name – SV2305”, said Lieutenant Chandrakala.

“Why don’t we just call it ‘Glory’?” suggested Treggs.

“You cannot leave until King John holds the Great Feast. This is scheduled in five days. You have been assigned rooms in the castle. You will find everything you need there. Get yourself settled in and we will meet again in an hour, in the courtyard by …” he smiled, “’Glory’”

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GM:

The personalities of the crew are beginning to show in more detail now.

The City in Shadow – I

After their surreal experience in Xuanicli, the Wayfarers decided to find somewhere relatively normal to rest for a few days. They headed west and, on 10th Prevaen, came upon a town called Codun. The town was busy as the final of the Rukomol racing season was being held. Rukomol are huge biomechanical insects; ridden by a team of two riders.

** SPOILER ALERT! **

                This is a published adventure, out of ‘Weird Discoveries.’ I think that it ran differently enough (due to the ‘flex-keying’ system); I will endeavour not to reveal any hidden spoilers (unless they were my own). *

                In Codun, the Wayfarers rested and Harrylock found a repair shop that catered for the Rukomol trainers.  He picked up some more bits and had Sonny help install them. ** They decided to have a day out at the Rukomol races; the cost was two shins to enter and one shin for food and drink. It all came down to the final race; Galadiir bet three shins on Rukomol Number Six, ridden by Ruko Uolis and Ruko Tallek. The others spread their bets around; however Number Six was the favourite and won easily. *** Galadiir won thirty shins. He also got to meet Uolis, who invited him and the others back to his house for a celebration.

                Uolis had been a Rukomol rider for most of his life and was open, honest and generous. Number Six was his best beast though and he was considering retiring; having made a lot of money in his career. Sometime during the party, there was a commotion outside. They all crowded outside to see a sparkling, luminous blue mist receding down the street and into the distance.

                The following morning, at their hotel, they were awakened by a hammering at the door. It was Uolis.

“Come quickly! Something terrible has happened.”

                Out at the Rukomol stables, several of the beasts were missing, including Number Six. All that was left was a single severed leg.

                Judson used his tracking skill to examine the ground; while Galadiir questioned Uolis and Tallek. Neither of them knew of any sworn enemies; overall the Rukomol racing circuit is small and relatively friendly. Judson found no tracks; it was if the ground had been swept clean by a giant brush. Sonny examined the leg; it had been severed cleanly. Suddenly it jumped up and began hopping on the spot. It started to hop off to the south-east; pausing at times to allow them to catch up.

“Go, follow it”, said Uolis. “Bring back Number Six and the others. If you do, I will buy you a house.

“A house? Where?”

“Here, in Codun.”

Galadiir spoke to the others. “It would be good to have a base, somewhere we could call home.”

                For a day and a half the leg hopped south-east and the Wayfarers followed it. The wind blew cold; they were approaching the Cold Desert. Finally, ahead they saw a black pyramid; as they drew closer they saw it was floating in the air above a ruined city; the city was completely in the shadow of the pyramid. The leg stopped at the corner of the north-west wall and fell over, inert. There were two ways into the city; from the north or the west. Judson and Harrylock west into the west entrance; Sonny and Galadiir went into the north entrance. ****

                They quickly found that the buildings of the city were not roofed; and that it was dark under the shadow of the pyramid; despite the sunlight outside. Sensing that the whole thing was a labyrinth of twisting walls and islands; Judson and Harrylock climbed up on the wall and looked over the city. Eighty feet above them was the black, featureless underside of the pyramid. Suddenly the wall gave way beneath their feet and they landed in a courtyard. There was only one exit, and that was blocked by a huge reptilian form; a lizard with a huge maw and a red hexagonal crystal set in its forehead. The creature hissed; stalked forward and an invisible hand of force threw Harrylock into the far wall …

                Galadiir and Sonny entered from the north and found themselves in a twisting labyrinth of passages, chambers and dead ends. Many of the areas had remains of furnishings, stone chairs and tables and odd, abstract carvings. Eventually they found a chamber, draped over a stone bench were three bodies. They were human, it was not clear what had killed them, but tiny green lizards were swarming all over them. A search revealed three explorers packs from which Galadiir took three working glowglobes and Sonny took the three lengths of rope. They also found a piece of scrip with a drawing of a round object with several thin lines coming out of it at different angles. A scribbled note said “use this to open the door.” There was nothing else in the packs of any use, other than a small green ball that Galadiir took. After a short time they came into a large central square, directly under the centre of the pyramid. Here stood a tall shiny cylinder, Galadiir determined that it was numenera but there was no way to open it.

                Harrylock shook his head and picked himself up; Judson readied his bow and shot an arrow at the beast, which missed. The creature opened its mouth and went after Judson, who pulled his verred and struck a blow at the creatures head, aiming for the crystal. He hit the creature and found that it had quite tough skin.

“Run!” he yelled to Harrylock. “It’s too tough for us to fight”.

“Where to? There’s only one exit and that thing’s in the way”.

“Go through the wall. Break it down. You’re good at smashing things”.

                Harrylock turned and punched the wall with all his might; it teetered and, with a roar and cloud of dust, collapsed on top of him. Judson was bitten by the creature, he backed off and shot an arrow at it. It was an exceptionally bad shot; the arrow deflected off something and hit his shoulder. He ran back to Harrylock and helped pull him from the rubble; the beast took a final bite as they ran.

“Hee Hee”, came a cackling voice. “He’s got the taste of you now”.

                Back in the centre square, Galadiir and Sonny were still trying to open the silver cylinder, but to no avail. Galadiir kicked at it; the green ball sprang out of his pocket; hovered in front of his face and whistled; then returned to his pocket. Sonny examined the nearest tower; it was built of solid stone and was about forty feet high. There didn’t seem to be an obvious way of getting to the top. Sonny prepared to use his Bolt Rider esotery to travel up to the top of the tower when a noise disturbed them. Crawling into the square was a huge reptilian creature with a red hexagonal crystal set in its forehead.

                Galadiir’s first thought was to use his Stasis esotery on it; a foolish thought as the creature was at least twelve feet long. Instead, he used his Ice Onslaught esotery; he messed it up really badly and engulfed himself in the ice cloud. The creature hissed and looked at Sonny. An invisible hand of force picked him up and threw him backwards against the wall of the tower. Galadiir pulled his ice blade and moved in to attack. The creature turned on him; Galadiir managed to dodge the attack. Sonny dived forward and charged up his verred, he struck deep, the creature roared, turned and again Sonny was hurled backwards into the wall.

“I can’t take much more of this damage”, he thought.

                Judson and Harrylock stared at the apparition in front of them. It appeared to be a bag of rags with long straggly hair; a longer look revealed that it was a woman, with wild staring eyes. She was chewing on one of the green lizards. She was babbling and chanting lots of things; Judson tried to make sense of it. Harrylock got a little more forceful and the woman shot him with a dart from her fingertip.

“Lyra didn’t like that”

Finally they gathered that the crystal in the lizard’s forehead was something they needed. They left her cackling away and set off to find the others. The last coherent thing she said was “don’t forget to unlock the door”.

                They followed the sound of fighting to the central square in time to see Sonny, battered and bruised, struggling to his feet and Galadiir trying to hold off the creature with his ice blade. Harrylock and Judson ran forward and gave it a one-two; finally the creature rolled over, dead.

                They rested for a time; then Judson noticed that the corpse was being attacked by a swarm of the green lizards. He ran over and excised the red gem from its head. Galadiir examined it; it could be made to project a beam of force that lifted things into the air ***** They used the crystal to get to the top of the tower, Sonny followed, carrying the crystal, by using his Bolt Rider esotery.

To be continued ….

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GM:

* I liked the adventure and the ‘Show Em’ pictures. I didn’t like the map itself; I find it difficult to describe dungeon passages and rooms to the players without their eyes glazing over. Nice maps are all well and good; but only the GM sees them. I use a nodal system of areas linked by connectors (of various kinds); something I’ve done for 20+ years as a GM. I redrew the map into my own style.

** Harrylock now has stats M30/1, S15/1, I7/0 (!)

*** A simple race system of six markers moving along a track by a die roll, the favourite got a bonus. He could have lost!

**** AARRGH! Yet again, they have split the party up! Someday, they are going to run across something they can’t handle.

***** He actually found this by accident; he was thrown forty feet into the air. Sonny was able to catch him as he fell.