Mechanics: Relationship Rolls Revisited

December 6, 2012 2 comments

The 13th Age icon relationship system is one I feel has a lot of potential, but is really too vague to be of significant use to a long term, non-improvised campaign. I’m not the only one to feel this way, but I think I can come up with something a little more in the spirit of the thing than just changing it to work with d20s.

It forces plot points, but not in a way I really feel merits a roll. Surely just stating “I know these guys, they’ll help me out – I have a +2 relationship” would be enough? Not so because 2/3 of the time per dice nothing happens. Those guys forget who you are or aren’t in a position to do anything, in which case it’s a waste of everyone’s time.  In addition, there’s not a whole lot of information on what exactly a conflicted relationship gets you? Does it just mean it can go either way? Why is there no way to determine which way it goes? Why am I asking you when I’m writing this with the intent to come up with my own solutions? Hell if I know, let’s get to it!

 

Part 1 – What are Icon Rolls?

 

When you invoke an icon and tell the group why that relationship is going to help you, it should. Assuming you haven’t said something stupid (in which case it’s probably not going to work anyway) you should be met with some result instead of none. Something I greatly respect about the philosophy of 13th Age is the “failing forward” attitude – where a failure shouldn’t just be a dead end. It’s odd then that for some reason there’s really no guidelines on how to apply that to icons, so my solution is – every result is a success, but the number you roll determines complications.

On a general level, positive relationships will get you bonuses, insight or support form the icon or their allies, negative relationships will get you bonuses, insight and support from the icon’s enemies, conflicted relationships could have the potential to get you both. These relationships connect you and your party to the world, and allow you to achieve goals you could not normally achieve through skill alone. The idea behind them is solid and doesn’t need changing, what’s lacking is the execution. So let’s start by seeing what we can do with the rolls first – we’ll deal with the consequences later.

 

Part 2 – When to Roll and Why

 

Relationships give you two types of resources – a ‘potential success’ or a ‘banked success’. A potential success is awarded upon an extended rest or a full heal up, and may be rolled at any time during the game – it’s less frequent than “roll at the start of each session” but to be fair you’re getting better results so hear me out. A potential success represents the opportunity to roll your die in order to ‘bank’ the result. Any successes you’ve banked can then be spent during the session at an appropriate time. Usually you just roll for a success, but my version is a bit different:

Option 1: Standard Roll

Bank a potential success.

When invoking a connection with an icon, you roll a certain number of d6es equal to your relationship roll. So far so standard, but the difference her is that the number on the d6 corresponds to the kind of success you can get. The advantage of multiple rolls is not that you get multiple successes, instead you may choose which roll to go with when you spend it, so a high relationship with one gets you lots of options, a low relationship not so much. For example, you may roll a 3 and a 4. When you cash in that success you may choose which number you use. This is in keeping with the idea that icon relationships are about utility, not strength. So you don’t get more successes, you get the ability to choose how you succeed.

Note that it may be simpler for players to decide on a number to keep ahead of time, or they may get a 6 so why take any of the other numbers? That’s totally fine – just ignore the other possibilities and bank the one you want.

Option 2: Combining Rolls

Spend a potential success to pool your relationships with the same icon.

If multiple players have the same kind of relationship with the same icon (ie, both are positive)  they can add their die together (up to a maximum of 3 at any one time or 4 at epic tier) and each contributing player one may use any of the results. Each player spending a potential success may contribute any number of their own die to the pool, so long as the total does not exceed 3 (or again, 4 at epic tier).

Option 3: Altering Rolls

Spend a potential success to make another player’s dissimilar relationship with the same icon closer to your own.

A player may spend a potential success to allow another player to alter the nature of their icon relationship in the direction of their own. So a player with a positive relationship may spend a potential success to turn another player’s negative relationship to conflicted, or a conflicted roll to positive. A conflicted roll may make any other relationship conflicted, while a negative relationship may make a positive one conflicted or a conflicted one negative.

Option 4: Favoured Enemies

Spend a potential success to make an inverse, weakened roll with an opposing icon.

If you have two or more points in a single icon, you probably associate with them well enough to know something about their enemies. Subtract one from your relationship, and invert it’s nature (positive becomes negative and vice versa, conflicted stays the same), then make the resulting roll with one of that icon’s enemies. So a rank 2 positive roll becomes a rank 1 negative roll with someone the icon has a negative relationship with. Conflicted relationships may simply subtract 1 and roll as normal.

 

Part 3 – The Rolls Themselves

 

So you’ve managed to bank a success, what does that number get you? Well that depends on the kind of relationship you rolled. Things are straightforward for a positive or negative roll, not so much for a conflicted one. Often, rolls have other consequences associated with them. Any time you cash in a roll, you need to be prepared for the stated consequences, even if you’re just using it to help someone with their roll.

Positive Rolls

Positive rolls are about aid and support – they should get you allies, but might cost you to do so.

  1. Limited Success – Your relationship with the icon can not solve your problem, but it can help. This will get you a cut down version of what you wanted to happen.
  2. Split Success – Your relationship alone cannot solve your problem, you’ll need the aid of another, allied icon to do so. This means you or one of your party members needs to spend a banked success with one of the icon’s allies to get a full result, or you’ll just get a Limited Success.
  3. Costly Success – Your relationship came through for you, but there’s a short term price attached.
  4. Fateful Success – Your relationship came through for you, but one of these days you’ll have to pay up.
  5. Straightforward Success – Your relationship got the job done! Congrats!
  6. Overwhelming Success – You didn’t just succeed, you got something extra – a bonus to your success. This kind of success grants you more than you asked for. It may not be much, but even the goodwill of an icon goes a long way. Think of it like a success plus an additional limited success.

Negative Rolls

Negative rolls are about conflict and spite – they should help you deal with the icon, but might cause retaliation.

  1. Limited Success – Your relationship isn’t helping as much as you hoped. This will get you a cut down version of what you wanted to happen.
  2. Assisted Success – Your relationship alone cannot solve your problem, you’ll need to enlist another of the icon’s enemies to get what you want. This means you or one of your party members needs to spend a banked success with one of the icon’s enemies to get a full result, or you’ll just get a Limited Success.
  3. Alarming Success – Your relationship served you well, but the icon’s forces will redouble their efforts to stop you.
  4. Infuriating Success – Your relationship came through for you, but the icon won’t forget this. They might not strike back today, or the next day, but they’ve got it in for you.
  5. Straightforward Success – Your relationship got the job done! Congrats!
  6. Profitable Success – You didn’t just succeed, you got wind of something extra – a new opportunity to profit off your foe. This kind of success grants you the opportunity to get something special during the process of screwing over your foes. It might take some extra effort but the satisfaction alone will almost certainly be worth it. Think of it like a success with the opportunity to get a second success later – a bigger reward than an overwhelming success, but with a bit more effort.

Conflicted Rolls

Why did I leave conflicted for last? Well conflicted is a wildcard. You don’t just roll a conflicted relationship – it’s too unpredictable for that. Instead you flip a coin first. If it lands on heads, you get a positive result, tales gets you a negative result. You proceed to roll the relationship as normal, and take whatever you get. Conflicted relationships should be unpredictable, but offer up a greater variety of rewards for the more adventurous players.

 

Part 4 – The Results

 

This is all well and good but what does this stuff get you? Why would you need to roll an icon result? Well ultimately you can spend relationships wherever you think it’s appropriate in the story, this is often like giving players an envelope full of money, dropping them in a mall and telling them to buy something without opening it. Successes don’t have to be rewarded immediately, and often the icons work through intermediaries, who might be alerted by the players attempts. Ideally, some successes will get help more quickly, but even the complicated ones can be efficient, provided the drawbacks are equally swift. Also note: You don’t ever have to show your hand – the player can cash in a relationship, but if there’s a complication the result might not be immediately obvious. Sure the players know what to expect, but especially with long term consequences, the suspense is in not knowing when to expect it.

If you’re still confused as to what you want your roll to mean, feel free to roll 1d6 to determine exactly what kind of favour you got.

So here are some suggestions for what to spend your banked successes on:

Option 1: Success through experience

You may spend a banked success to reroll a d20 once for each point you have in a relationship, and then take the highest number.

I actually do like Adam Dray’s solution and encourage you to read more about it on his blog. This is fairly self explanatory, the key difference being that here, the consequences are tied to the d6 roll, not the d20 roll. On an overwhelming success you may want to roll another d20, while you might want to roll one fewer on a limited success. If this means you aren’t rolling any extra, give the person the opportunity to take 10 even on a roll they couldn’t normally do that on. Feel free to use this in combat against a named foe for for that climactic finishing blow!

Option 2: Success through equipment

Your connections came through, giving you an icon-appropriate item of equal to or lower than your level.

An overwhelming success might get you something slightly better or more than one of whatever you need. You aren’t going to get super special magic items like this, but extra health potions, adventuring gear, weapons or armour are fair game. Stuff that fits thematically for your icon might be of better quality than generic items. If you cash this in upon arriving at a new area, feel free to throw in a “by the way, I ran into some friendly faces/loyalist scum who gave me this item when I had a friendly conversation with them/pried it from their cold dead limbs”. Use whichever applies.

Option 3: Success through aid

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know – you’ve managed to get a shortcut or a distraction necessary for your quest out of one of the icon’s followers.

This is pretty simple – sometimes it’s dangerous to go in unprepared, but if you know a guy (or gal) who can help out, they can pave the way for you, either metaphorically or otherwise. Again, bludgeoning the important information out of a hapless stooge is a perfectly acceptable way to use a negative relationship. This can range from opening a door to paying off a guard – anything a specific person can do to aid you.

Option 4:  Success through favour

It’s a one in a million shot and it’d be great for someone to tip the odds in your favour.

All the icons are powerful, and even the ones who aren’t inherently magical have access to it. As such, you might find yourself blessed by someone who has taken an interest in you. The icons need adventurers to succeed to further their own agendas and they’re not totally above giving them an intangible benefit to do so. You’re not going to get this from a negative relationship, but the right distraction might cause them to turn their eyes away from their own forces, cutting off their support and making them easier to deal with.

Option 5: Success through wisdom

The difference between a fortune cookie and an actual prophecy, is one of them is a cookie, the other is useful.

Sometimes, the best gift is that of words, not deeds – a flash of inspiration making sense of an old cryptic rhyme, or a dream providing meaning to a confusing sequence of events could be the difference between a hero prevailing and floundering around in the dark for several days, hopelessly lost. Luckily, the icons tend to run ancient, expansive orders with eyes everywhere, so chances are someone is going to know someone who has something to contribute.

Option 6: Success through information

Knowing is half the battle and a luxury adventurers are rarely afforded.

Rather than solicit the ongoing aid of an icon’s agent, you call in a one off favour for a piece of information. This can range from a map, guard schedules, the combination to a safe – a piece of vital information that can make your quest that much easier. This is rarely going to provide you an outright advantage the way a shortcut would, but instead offers up various opportunities for a player that likes to plan ahead.

 

Part 5 – Summary

 

Ideally this system should flesh out the icon relationships for both players and GMs. With this, players know ahead of time the kind of results they have to expect, the advantages they can get, and can try to plan accordingly, while GMs know the tools at their disposal and can try to anticipate the results. While the rules-light nature of 13th Age is one of its biggest strengths, having suggestions like this should be able to keep the game flowing for less experienced players, or those less comfortable with improvisation. The mechanics allowing rolls to affect one another or pool together are designed to encourage players to work together as a group, help them establish shared histories and generally turn the relationships into a more useful, reliable tool in their arsenal. In doing so I’ve had to ration the points more than usual, but it fits that not every adventure will have every icon so consistently involved at all times, so I think this is a more natural way of doing things. In a campaign that’s high on improv and deals with multiple icons on a regular basis, the GM might be happier to award them more often – indeed doing favours for an icon should be a viable way of recharging your potential successes, but this should still alleviate the problem of 2/3 failures that can make icon rolls disappointing in the main game.

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Categories: Mechanics

Session 8: Demons and Decapitations

November 30, 2012 6 comments

As the party approached the Whetstone-Tuatha patrol, they took a brief moment to discuss amongst themselves what would be the best plan of approach. They managed to identify two of Knostril’s fellow dwarven guardsmen (Jimi and Blein) and a pair of elves, being lead by a third dwarf who wore the uniform of Ceylon’s personal guard. Jimi and Blein looked none too happy with being subject to the whims of an off-worlder, but the elves were considerably more relaxed, and eventually spotted the group, despite their best efforts to make the most of the fact that talking is a free action*. The elves spotted the party, and their leader insisted the group come forth to meet them face to face.

He did not give his name, addressing himself only as one of The World Builder’s Hunters – a group of pay-rolled bounty hunters used to track down undesirables on the outskirts of civilized space. Most of the party, aside from Lachlan agreed to do so, the latter staying behind rather than risk confrontation or apprehension with a potential group of hostiles. The Hunter informed the group that he and his men had been dispatched to track down a group of saboteurs matching their descriptions that had been ordered to enter Kraall’s tower, and had subsequently been responsible for the colony’s dismantlement. Despite his gruff demeanour, his subordinates, particularly the dwarves seemed less than invested in such a task, particularly knowing one of their compatriots was one of the accused.

The party began ham-handedly attempting to bluff the Hunter into thinking a) they were not the party he was looking for, it  was totally those other guys with the gnome illusionist, b) They were reporting to Tuatha with their own business (which didn’t really alleviate suspicion at all), and c) they were on an important mission from The Enlightened One and could not be disturbed. Throughout this, Crias made sure to get up in everybody’s personal space as much as possible, and nearly provoked a fight until Zasahl covered for him. Specifically he decided the group would probably be highly receptive to anti-gnomish racism, not knowing that one of the elves had a gnomish step-brother. It wasn’t the most suave he’d ever been.

That elf however was a bit more receptive to knowing Zasahl had a relationship with The Enlightened One and attempted to convince his superior to go easy on the group. Meanwhile said irate dwarf was having none of it, and the party’s rather feeble attempts to dupe him did not go unnoticed. Knostril meanwhile attempted to undermine his authority directly by convincing Jimi and Blein their superior was out of line. The Hunter, growing increasingly frustrated began insisting the party surrender or die, trying to remind his companions they had in fact destroyed the colony. Knostril meanwhile had had it with The Hunter’s unjust accusations, and almost struck the first blow, when Crias, for reasons not really clear to anyone involved but probably related to wanting to throw the first punch personally, decided to tackle him out of the way.

The Hunter was understandable shocked and confused by this turn of events, when Zasahl tried one last attempt to calm him down, offering him one last chance to settle this civilly. Unfortunately, The Hunter had something else in mind:

I know your mission, but your pathetic gods have no sway over The World Broker!

At which point he yelled out that the group had admitted their crimes and took a swing with his Morning Star at Zasahl. The blow failed to connect but the fight had begun. What he did not expect was that Jimi and Blein had taken a strong disliking to him and had no intention of protecting him from the beatdown that followed.

Knostril punched the Hunter in the face and he barely had time to summon a thicket of tangling vines before Zasahl (unintentionally) caved his head in with his own morning star.  Black, corrosive blood went everywhere as the demon who had been masquerading as the Hunter was smitten by Bahamut’s holy light. The ranger who Crias had insulted dropped his weapons shortly after, while the Archer took a stab at Aladraian. This resulted in him being pushed 15 feet backwards by a telekinetic blast and promptly panicking, at which point he too was easily intimidated into submission.

Their boss’s true nature revealed, the Whetstone-Tuathan guards were easily convinced to attempt to organize a resistance against their employer, with Jimi and Blein spearheading their efforts at Knostril’s request. Zasahl used the Graceful repose ritual to prevent the demonic corpse, which had since resumed its true, slightly reptilian form from decaying, so that it could be used as evidence against Tuatha. Crias decided the best course of action would be to take a sample of its corrosive blood, while the rest of the party planned their next move.

They identified four districts of the city, but could not tell which they were adjacent to, and spotted vines descending from the colony where other Whetstone-Tuatha personnel were descending into the city proper. They determined the order the seals should be broken in was more a function of practicality than part of any known enchantment, and that each district was centered around an ornate, temple-like building, but were unable to determine much more without getting a firsthand look at the city itself.

*Speaking a couple of sentences is a free action, but there is actually a word limit in the player’s handbook. More advanced talking stuff takes longer – intimidation for example is a standard action. The party would dearly like me to forget this rule exists, but the alternative is imagining they sound like  super fast talking chipmunks talking and frankly that’s not going to happen.

Categories: Session Log

Session 7: The Sage

November 18, 2012 7 comments

Next session might be a bit off-schedule, let me know when you guys want to do it.

~~~

As the party awoke to find Julie had wandered off and the Assassins were preparing to leave. As Crias examined the metal root near the camp he noticed that it was in fact alive, and it nearly threw him off. While those shenanigans were occurring, the group noticed that the various islands of the colony were sprouting vines – the people aboard them (specifically druids and wardens) evidently trying to arrange transport between the various islands. Crias had changed colour over night and gained the power of flight, while Aladraian’s staff had opened his mind to a wealth of new languages gleaned from the thoughts of those around him. Meanwhile, Bahamut had appeared to Zasahl in a dream and taught him the art of using his breath weapon to heal his allies, knowing that he would need it in the trials to come.

They reflected on what they knew of the Primordials – that they were truly ancient, godlike beings of myth whose only contact with mortals had been in fairy tales and stories. They knew that Primordials would sometimes reward good deeds by bringing prosperity to a village, but in order to communicate with them, you have to speak their language (Primordial). The only other thing they knew is that the Primordials predated the Gods, and were mostly wiped out or banished by them. As this occurred the Assassins started wandering off.

The party objected to them just leaving, despite them having said they meant to help the people of the colony, and the issue of how far any one group could trust the other arose. The Assassins said they were letting the party deal with the seals because they were less likely to be turned into Tuatha, while at this point nobody trusted the assassins enough to take them at their word. They also realised that none of them had any idea what the Huntsman was getting out of this. When it was realized that this impasse could not be resolved without proof, Lib used the orrery to contact the Astrosage herself to clarify things.

After a short introduction, she explained that once Kraall had exhausted the demon he was contacting, he went to her, and she personally captured and bound the Namer Devil that had given Tuatha the Primordial’s name. Rather than waste time with hearsay or visions she summoned the demon itself in magical chains to the campsite, and had it explain personally, having compelled it to speak the truth when asked. The devil claimed to have been found by Tuatha living at the centre of the galaxy, where it was hiding from its kin. It was extremely old and not only collected names but would often broker them for power. The bargain it had made with Ceylon was that when the Primordial awoke, it would be given the souls of anyone he didn’t decide to keep for himself. The demon however was sure that Ceylon would not be able to control the Primordial, and that it would use his power to resurrect itself to its full power.

It also revealed that Tuatha had deals with many demons, giving them positions of power and funding in exchange for their arcane magic, and that it would be impossible to convince them to break their deals because of how valuable that support was. Aladraian asked it about the Bellerephon Cascade, which it dismissed as irrelevant, while Crias chose to test it. Zasahl had long since stepped out of the conversation because he wasn’t willing to speak with an actual real life Devil. The devil was able to tell Crias his own name, but was uninformed as to the World Builder’s Plans beyond the scope of their deal. The party then got to arguing what to do with the demon, so the Astrosage lit a minature supernova within it, reducing it to ash, much to Aladraian’s distress. She assured him she knew the names he had learned and invited him to discuss them if he was that curious, but reminded the party that lives were at stake, specifically their own.

At this point Kraall’s tower burst into flames in the distance, as Ceylon discovered Crias’ handiwork. She also reminded them that summoning a bound demon was the kind of thing Ceylon would probably be able to notice, and so they should probably leave. She offered to take Kraall’s soul into her custody so he could be raised, and informed the party that Yorick had been resurrected – the party having told Tuatha about his plight earlier. The group of course objected but the Sage handed them an original copy of Kraall’s notes on the primordial seal, to the shock of Crias who grabbed her arm and was shown firsthand that she had opened a wormhole in the orrery to do so.

The notes stated that there were four seals, each corresponding to an aspect of the Primordial – Earth, Water, Metal and Air, and that a sufficiently powerful blast of arcane energy was enough to break them. The metal seal had already been opened when the group flew through the leyline, hence the colony’s rearrangement. The notes stated that each seal had a specific ritual that must be performed to unlock them, and that doing so would fully awaken the Primordial heart, essentially bringing the planet to life whether people liked it or not. These seals and the rituals could be found within temples in their respective districts within the ancient city and presumably each one would have cataclysmic results the way the Metal Seal did if they were broken. For that reason the group would have to be careful which order they unlocked them in.

Armed with an actual plan and the means to achieve it, the group then left for the city, coming to a gap in the crater wall, just in time to run into a group of elves and dwarves wearing Whetstone-Tuatha colours heading into the forest, presumably looking for them. Knostril had been hoping to see some of his dwarven compatriots, so the party hopes to enlist their aid.

Categories: Session Log

Setting: Myddea Luminastra

November 17, 2012 1 comment

I made a comment earlier that if anyone else were to run a game in the Age of Stars setting I’d want to play a young version of the Astrosage. She’s one of my favourite icons and has what I consider the most interesting backstory of all of them. Somehow that translated into me actually drawing her and statting her for 13th Age. She’s an Aasimar Sorceress with strong ties to the Archmage and his arcane magic, and the High Priestess, though her relationship with the latter is not nearly so positive. I know I’ve always referred to The Astrosage as a wizard, but a Sorceress would really be the more accurate description for the way her powers manifest.

All of Myddea’s powers are space themed.

But before she ascended to greatness she was cast out from the church of Corellon, and left to wander the lands gathering her arcane power and slowly coming to understand her unique situation. As an Aasimar, Myddea has supernal blood flowing through her veins, and comes from a long line of high priestesses – a role she can no longer fulfill. As she travelled her priest’s robes became tattered and she traded her ceremonial staff for a more practical spear, spending what little money she could scrounge together on protection from both her enemies, and the remote reaches of the galaxy.

You can see the original 13th Age High Priestess on which she was based here. Her costume might have initially looked something like that.

Categories: Setting

One Unique Thing

November 15, 2012 14 comments

This isn’t really a setting post so much as a thought experiment. If you had to name one absolutely unique thing about your character, what would it be?
Some seem obvious like Aladraian’s apprenticeship to The Psiontist, but it could be argued that’s merely a manifestation of his icon relationship, not a unique thing about him specifically.
Obviously if you haven’t thought of one feel free to make it up. While it can be tied to an existing aspect of your character (i.e. Zasahl’s high intimidate is the result of people literally seeing the furious visage of Bahamut through his eyes) it could be totally unrelated. Just nothing with a combat bonus, OK?

If they don’t contradict anything I might let you treat them as canon. If you can come up with an in-game reason to have it then even better (i.e. contact with Grayson’s staff awakened your latent psionic ability and now you can wield a glowy, telekinetic version of your favored item that behaves just like the real thing).

EDIT: Also is it more convenient to run the game at the usual time (plus an hour for American Daylight Savings)? So Saturday for the majority of you? Because Ranneko can’t make it Friday.

Categories: News

Session 6: Stealing Hearts

November 11, 2012 33 comments

This was a short session because apparently AMERICA (!!!) controls the flow of time and therefore the rest of us are expected to know when they have daylight savings and adjust our schedules accordingly. If indeed you guys want to start one hour later that’s fine though – Discuss in the comments.

~~~

Not pictured: Citizens huddled atop giant rocks screaming in terror, the giant flying squid*.

Having narrowly escaped the dismantlement of the colony, the party found itself within a forest consisting of a hoard of golden-feathered ostrich-birds that was slowly being rooted to the spot via living metal. The colony was ruined and the ancient city below it was visible, wreathed in a bright green glow.

Understandably, those of them that cared about the colony (read: not Crias) were a bit upset at the development that left their homes suspended far above their heads on jagged metal vines. To that end they demanded some proof as to the assassins’ good intentions.

Dak’kel insisted she could not have been responsible for sabotaging the tower because she came straight to the camp upon leaving the biome. In addition, her feet had no cosmic paint on them, nor did her boots. She suggested that the trees covering the door were placed there by Tuatha himself, citing the fact he was the only druid who knew they were going into the tower, and he would easily have the power to summon some trees that wouldn’t cut. The party didn’t totally buy it, even though Bob pointed out that the defining feature of a druid was the ability to shapeshift.

He also offered up a signed letter from the Huntsman which Julie and Lachlan were able to verify, the ink shifting so that the party could read Bob’s orders. Basically the assassins had given him a note explaining in as many words “You owe me, do what you can for the people holding this” after killing Kraall and Yorick, and signed it so that only his allies could read it. After they did so he threw it in the orrery that they were using as a campfire, incinerating it in the miniature sun. He also took the opportunity to confiscate Crias’ damaged shock stick because it was technically stolen. For those following on at home, this means that Bob was not one of the assassins, and did not lie about having no idea Yorick was dead – his only involvement is as a facilitator, and he doesn’t particularly like being associated with any of these people.

The party then confronted them about their allegiance with the Astrosage to which they responded by summoning Kraall’s spirit. It turned out that Kraall had been working with Tuatha to reinvigorate the primordial heart (literally the heart of one of the old gods), but after he began to suspect his friend of infernal dealings, he began to get cold feet. Verifying his suspicions through a bound demon in a secret room within his tower, he confronted The World Builder, soon realizing there was nothing he could do to stop him. In secret, Kraall began working with the Astrosage to stop Ceylon’s plan. He locked the controls of the tower so only the apprentice of Grayson Faraday could use it, not anticipating Aladraian. After doing so he had himself assassinated, replacing his own soul with one of the local ghosts (hand picked), in order to deny Ceylon himself as a resource. Believing his tower could not be piloted he was rather dismayed to find the plan going ahead anyway.

He explained that Tuatha had come into possession of the true name of the Primordial whose heart rested beneath the village – With that name he could command the heart to do his bidding, though there was always the risk of those who chose to bend it to their will falling under its control themselves. Tuatha was arrogant enough to disregard this caveat, and set in motion a plan to access it. To do so he would need Kraall’s expertise in opening the primordial seals located the ancient city under the mountain. Luckily, Crias through an act of extraordinary incompetence(?) had destroyed Kraall’s notes on the procedure, denying Ceylon an important resource and buying them all some time.

The Astrosage was vehemently against The World Builder’s plan, and hired the Huntsman to steal the name, which he did, storing it in an ornate pendant, that when either invoked or broken would sear the name into the mind of whoever used it either until it was spoken correctly or forever, respectively.  Bob, being the Huntsman’s representative gave it to Zasahl for safe keeping, and because he and the assassins meant to return to the colony, help the people there and hopefully distract Tuatha until the party could put the heart back to sleep using the name. In theory this should prevent it from waking up again, and set the colony back to its original state. Of course, it would be at the cost of keeping the world a barren desert for the rest of time.

The party decided it might be a good idea to take a rest before they did anything else.

Meanwhile, Zasahl confronted Dak’kel about murdering Yorick, which she expressed regret about, though justified her actions by pointing out that not only could Yorick be raised (she’d do it herself if need be, though she suspected Ceylon would deal with it first) but she had acted under the assumption that their success would save the colony. She revealed that she had been brought up as a street thug, and that the church of Bahamut had taken her in, asking her to use her more unconventional skills to help others, which she agreed to do even at the cost of her own soul. As such she felt obliged to make tough decisions so long as eventually her actions ended up helping people. To that end the fact she’d killed two innocents (despite one being a favour) for an ultimately futile purpose was weighing rather heavily on her conscience. She nonetheless refused to turn herself in to the World Builder’s justice under any circumstances.

Afterwards, Aladraian talked to Kraall about where the Psiontist was. Kraall stated he was unsure, but suspected this to be part of some grand design on Grayson’s part. He had provided Grayson with the  location and astronomical details of the Bellerephon Cascade – it’s a nebula that apparently doesn’t give off primal magic, instead it’s surrounded by masses of dark matter and charged with abundant amounts of dark energy. Those qualities make it difficult to analyze, but Grayson seemed satisfied enough to presumably leave to go to it. Unfortunately, The Psiontist was just as cryptic as his destination so Kraall can’t be of much help until he gets himself raised.

*The scene is shot from the squid’s point of view.

Categories: Session Log

Session 5: Calamity

November 3, 2012 12 comments

With the party having regained consciousness they set to work dealing with the engine situation. Luckily, Julie had shown up and was able to help. They identified that it had overloaded after being disconnected from several systems and was currently hypercharging the door systems. The group set out to find a control room, and after locating the observation deck, Kraall’s bedroom and a room full of replacement mechanical parts  they managed to do just that. Kraall’s bedroom held a diagram of a massive arcane leyline running straight through the colony, but Aladraian dismissed it. They then set to messing around with the settings in the control room, redirecting power to the shields for the time being, thus allowing the tower to vent its excess power into them. This had the unintended side effect of blasting away most of the nearby ground and rendering the tower, now clearly revealed to be a spaceship, unstable.

They immediately set to putting out the raging fire, using one of two enchantment-triggering buckets that caused torrential rain in whatever room they were emptied in. This did the trick and Crias, for reasons that are not clear to anyone at all, promptly used the second bucket to douse Kraall’s study, destroying the remainder of his notes, charts, journals, tomes and scrolls. Aladraian was then able to repair power to two systems – the air conditioning and the engines, which promptly ignited, sending the group on a pre-planned course straight through the leyline.

As Aladraian struggled to regain control of the ship, Zasahl prayed in the observation deck, watching the ground recede and the tower turn to fly over the colony. His prayers might have been answered as Phillipe, the giant aerosquid showed up and smashed his way through the observation deck window. Crias noticed and tried to calm Phillipe down, only to find out that Phillipe was being ridden by Druid Bob, a gnome, the elf from the shooting range and a female dragonborn, who Crias immediately (and correctly) pinned as Yorick’s killer. Perplexingly they did not appear hostile, and instead invited the party down onto the squid with them.

His paranoia vindicated, Crias immediately leaped down, executing a fantastic acrobatic maneuver that impressed all who saw it, with the intent to just kill the assassins immediately. Zasahl clumsily jumped after him, and landed on the vengeful warden. He was followed by Julie, who landed on the two even more clumsily. At this point, Knostril and Lachlan entered and wondered what the hell was going on. The assassin’s shouts to join them were met with confusion and Bob revealed himself to be an agent of the Huntsman. Meanwhile, Aladraian had managed to gain control of the ship, but not before it flew through the village’s leyline.

With the leyline charged, the primal heart that it pierced was invigorated and the unstable reaction from the two sources caused it to begin reasserting the nature this planet once posessed. The lighting bubbles popped and the colony began glowing. Spikes of living metal shot out from within the mountain, skewering chunks of Ferrosa on their jagged ends, tearing the colony apart and suspending the chunks in the air. The Assassins informed the party that this was exactly what they had been sent by the Astrosage to stop, and by killing Kraall they thought they had foiled the World Builder’s plan. They assured the party that the huntsman’s patronage would hide them and implored them to join them, which Knostril and Lachlan did. Meanwhile, Aladraian was able to reprogram the autopilot to send the tower back to the spaceport before jumping down himself. From their vantage point they could see the buried city within the mountain, now revealed to the surface world for the first time in untold centuries.

As they sailed down to the forest, the assassins relayed the Sage’s instructions, explaining what they believed to be The World Builder’s plan. The unique nature of Ferrosa trapped the souls of the dead, allowing them to be deposited into new bodies after an arbitrary amount of time. The Sage believed that if Tuatha were given control of this process he would have untold power over life and death – preserving those he wanted kept, eliminating those he wanted gone without a chance of conventional resurrection, and selling the remaining bodies to the highest otherworldly bidders. The fact the Touchdown festival attracted a lot of powerful aristocratic types makes this a disturbing possibility.  She contacted the Huntsman an the two conspired to stop it, sending in a team of assassins, and calling in a favour that Druid Bob owed to shelter them. Unfortunately the job didn’t go as smoothly as planned – They were spotted by Yorick and Dak’kel, the dragonborn killed him to silence him, a fact she appeared uneasy with. They proceeded to nearly kill Kraall, but the subsequent lightning strike forced them to flee before the job could be verified. Upon discovering his possession they speculated Tuatha’s intervention and resolved to keep an eye on the situation.

The tower taking off confirmed their fears that his plan was still in motion. Unable to stop the colony from being destroyed, and suspecting the World Builder would try to silence his pawns, they set out on Phillipe to investigate, and potentially recruit some new allies. Whether they were correct or the party will simply kill them for their crimes (or worse, give them up to Tuatha) is not yet known, but the group have convened in the assassin’s camp, where they are deciding what to do next. Luckily, Aladraian’s piloting abilities should have thrown Tuatha off their tracks for now, as he should still believe the group to be in the tower. Of course, Phillipe isn’t exactly inconspicuous so whether Bob was correct in suggesting that they would be concealed is far from certain.

Categories: Session Log