The below information is strictly Out of Character and relatively little of it will be publicly known, except (in most cases) by the characters involved. Please do not assume that, just because it's written here, your character might know about it. Also, much of the below information has been written from memory, so there are likely to be any number of errors and omissions. If you can help correct any mistakes or fill in any gaps, then please email the webmaster to let us know.
Run by Helen W & James W on 7th January 2006 (a Saturday in the winter vacation)
Players: Adanemoay (Xan), Bairoth (Peter M), Paulo (Tom)
Mission Brief: The morning after a grand Midwinter party held at the Whistful City Embassy, none of the guests have emerged from the Embassy compound. The windows are all darkened, and none of those who have entered the Embassy to find out what happened - including a full squadron of crack High Guard troops - have returned. Realising that subtlety may triumph where brute force could not, Rebecca De Courci promptly orders the High Guard to round up all the adventurers they can find who aren't totally incapacitated from post-Midwinter hangovers, and sends them in...
Original Plot Document (.doc file)
Adventure Summary: Rebecca, Duchess Lucilla De Almedia, Duke Ario Cristofori and Nerino Velasquez brief the party in a house near the Embassy. They all have relatives inside whom they are very eager to see again and offer generous rewards for their safe return, with a hefty bonus if the Embassy can be returned to normal and other notables are also rescued. The party are given descriptions (and in some cases shown portraits) of the people they are to rescue. After they leave one of Nerino's servants invites them to a private audience with him, during which he tells them in a fairly direct manner that while a reward is offered for the rescue of the Duchess Velasquez, a discreet and even larger reward is available should she fail to make it out of the Embassy alive. Paulo seems keen to collect, while the other two are noncommittal. They then go to the College of the Thousand Arts, where they consult floor plans of the Embassy and its compound before seeking entry.
Wary of the front gate, despite the apparently peaceful courtyard visible through it, they climb over the nearby wall - and immediately they set foot on the other side find themselves deep in a trackless forest. Since the Embassy should lie to their north they head north, and find a member of the High Guard badly wounded and beset by a pack of vicious wolves. They quickly slaughter the wolves and heal the guardsman, who says he is one of the crack troop sent in earlier that morning. After questioning him on his experiences in the compound, they wish him luck and press on northwards. After some time the trackless forest becomes a glacier scoured by a howling blizzard, which Adanemoay recognises from his dreams the night before. Fearing Snow-Riders, Adanemoay and Paulo huddle close to Bairoth, hoping that as a Priest of one of the Wind Princes they will fear to approach. But when a horde of Snow-Riders does appear Bairoth's presence is not enough to protect his comrades and they are forced to defend themselves, Adanemoay fleeing until he reaches the safety of the Embassy's main doors and his companions soon following.
Inside the Embassy they find a sleeping serving wench hidden behind some furniture in the entrance hall. Waking her up, she tells them about being assaulted by Oliviero Cristofori, whom she tells them is next door in the smoking room. They enter the room and find themselves on a battlefield where Oliviero is dreaming of heroically leading White City soldiers against an evil army. The adventurers, attacked by both sides, try to explain to him what's going on and endeavour to persuade him to wake up, but he dismisses it all as a trick by his enemies and, when they refuse to duel him to the death, just tries to kill them. As they are trying not to harm him, things go badly for them - until finally they are forced to strike him down to save themselves and the dream ends. As Oliviero slumps in a chair, the party pour healing potions down his throat to save his life and, when he comes round, explain what has happened. Then they set off for the temple to the Dream Powers in the Embassy's grounds, Adanemoay having had a vision of Ambassador Dumah lying on the altar surrounded by bubbles bearing the faces of the guests. The party manage to enter the temple and find things much as they were in Adanemoay's vision. Attempts to bypass the bubbles or throw things at Dumah through them fail, so they try to force their way through - Bairoth and Paulo immediately succumb to the touch of the bubbles, Adanemoay manages to take down two of them before succumbing to the third, at which point the three adventurers fall asleep and wake up to find themselves back at the entrance of the temple, a horde of bubbles still blocking their way. It occurs to them that, since each bubble bears the face of a dreaming guest they may be able to eliminate the bubbles by waking the guests, and they return to the Embassy.
Moving through the smoking room to the Apiary, they find that all the bees have merged into a single swarm that takes on humanoid shape and talks to them, demanding gifts before it will allow them to pass through its territory. These they give, stepping over the stung-to-death corpse of a High Guardsman on the stairs and making their way up to the first floor. Passing through the drawing room without incident they come to the library, where Godfrey Inskilling (the Senior Librarian from the College) dreams of being human. The Embassy's library has become the library of the College and is full of dreaming students. The party talk to Godfrey and explain the situation to him, he insists on being allowed to continue dreaming for as long as possible but theorises that the dream may be weakened if the students in it are wakened, so they go round punching and kicking the dreaming students until they've all woken up and left the dream, then endeavour to move on up the stairs to the second floor. Their first attempt sees them dreaming that they're climbing a high mountain path where howling winds try to blow them back down and Fears-of-Falling attack them. Roped together, the party tumble from the path... and find themselves falling a few feet back to the floor of the library, much to Godfrey's amusement. Their second attempt is more successful and they find themselves in a dark starlit web-strewn clearing in the Great Forest, where Nadia-Katarina De Courci has been cocooned in spiderwebs and hung from a great tree. The desiccated corpse of a High Guardsman lies on the ground and giant spiders attack from the trees. The party kill the spiders and cut Nadia-Katarina free, at which point she wakes. They explain the situation and send her down to join Godfrey in the library. Then they go next door to the embassy staff offices, which they find empty, and retrace their steps back through Nadia-Katarina's room to the solarium, where blinding light shines in through the windows and the charred corpse of a High Guardsman is visible on the floor. Bairoth and Paulo cover their eyes and stumble through to the far door, while Adanemoay bathes in the glory of the light and prays to the Light, which gives him its blessing.
On the other side of the solarium they find the boudoir of Lydia De Courci, now half-resembling a glade in the Great Forest and filled with an ever-so-slightly-transparent drunken orgy of Vinechildren and pretty young women. Resisting the lewd overtures (and undertures) of the revellers, the adventurers tell Lydia that she's dreaming and try to persuade her to wake up, which she doesn't want to do. Adanemoay is able to tell that only Lydia and a pewter chalice next to her are real, so empties the wine-filled chalice on the floor in the hopes that that will do something. It doesn't. Bairoth convinces Lydia to tell him a secret in a not-particularly-quiet stage whisper - that she used to be romantically involved with King Eric, who's a woman - and eventually the party refill the chalice with wine but spike it with a purification potion before passing it to Nadia-Katarina, which wakes her up with a jolt. She's somewhat miffed at losing her orgy, but after explaining the situation again the party manage to mollify her a little, and send her down to join Nadia-Katarina and Godfrey in the library. They find the ambassador's office deserted and Adanemoay insists that all the draws and papers are left untouched, much to Bairoth's chagrin.
Back downstairs, they find that the drawing room next to the library has become a pub in the Whistful City. They eventually manage to wake the various embassy staff (and one High Guardsman) scattered around the room, by various means, and tell them to join Nadia-Katarina and Godfrey in the library. Then they move on through an empty guest room and pass through the next door - to find it vanishing behind them and as they fall into the Shattered Plain. Two of them land in broken glass and one of them lands on a wounded High Guardsman who is lying face down on the broken glass, resulting in some unpleasant (but fairly brief) screaming as his face is driven into the shards and his ribs snap. Not far away they see Duchess Chiara Velasquez impaled on a five foot long glass spike that emerges from a mirror hovering in mid-air, bleeding badly and slowly Vitrifying. They go over to have a closer look, sensibly realising that it would be a really bad idea to look in the mirror, so Bairoth decides it would be a good idea to smash the mirror instead. Undaunted by his companions looks of horror and cries of "Nooo!" as they realise, too late to stop him, what he's about to do, the mirror is smashed and all hell breaks loose. They are forced to fight an incarnate Looking-Glass Hunter released from the mirror, Vitrimorphs and Splinter-Men, his comrades casting vituperations at Bairoth all the while. Eventually they have a moment's peace and again attempt to free Duchess Chiara, managing to do so by the careful application of purification potions to the shard itself and feeding the Duchess purification and healing potions. She proves singularly ungrateful for her rescue, lambasting them all as imbeciles and incompetents (which they don't take well), and striding over to the door which has now appeared. As she reaches the door a Glass Sentinel and a horde of Splinter-Men rise from the surrounding glass, so she orders these to attack the party for their impertinence. Another vicious battle ensues, the party barely managing to escape over the threshold with their lives (Adanemoay dragging himself painfully through the door by one hand).
The first and second floors have now been cleared of dreamers. Since the party aren't sure whether the swarm of bees in the apiary will let them back through without demanding more gifts, they tie some bedsheets together and descend to the ground floor via the embassy's windows. In the kitchens they find the cook, one of the High Guard and the kitchen staff fighting off the meat from the larder, which has animated as animal zombies. With the zombies butchered, everyone in the kitchen is also woken and the party figure that enough people have been woken that they should be able to make it past the Dream-bubbles in the temple to get to Dumah. So they return to the temple, fight their way past the three remaining (and now much weaker) Dream-bubbles and reach Dumah, who appears to be sleeping peacefully. When throwing things and shouting fails to wake him, Paulo tries to shake him by the shoulder - and vanishes instantly. Hesitating only briefly, Adanemoay and Bairoth follow his example.
All three find themselves in a bookbinder's workshop where all the books appear to be portions of Dumah's memories. Here they are faced with three versions of Ambassador Dumah, each claiming to be the real one and insisting that the only way to wake him up is to kill the impostors. By dint of some judicious questioning they manage to get this right and wake up in the real world, where everything is back to normal. Most of the nobles are grateful to the party, Chiara and Nerino are deeply resentful of them, and Godfrey Inskilling is hurt and reproachful.
The Ambassador from the Whistful City to the White City, Dumah Treeborn, resigns in disgrace. The Embassy's diplomatic staff quietly plot mutiny as they discover that their terms have all been extended by a year to "help the new fellow settle in". The Whistful City has yet to name a replacement ambassador.
Adanemoay, Bairoth and Paulo are publicly thanked for their heroic efforts by everyone except the Velasquez Family. De Courci-employed Low Guardsfolk, mercenaries and bandit hunters all over the City awake from their Festival hangovers some days later to discover their traditional Midwinter bonus not forthcoming, having been spent on the adventurers' rewards. Adanemoay, Bairoth and Paulo can expect to be buying their own drinks in bars for some time. On the other hand, they can afford to.
Nerino and Chiara Velasquez return to a state of happy animosity. Nerino's mistress receives a poisoned ear-ring as a late Midwinter gift. Chiara finds scorpions mysteriously hidden in her breakfast. Life is back to normal in the Velasquez household.
The Port of Glass Embassy is rumoured to be fascinated by the news that somewhere that looks a great deal like the Shattered Plain can be accessed through Dream.
The Head Librarian of the College of the Thousand Arts, Godfrey Inskilling, has been heard to mutter dire threats against the "traitors" who rescued him from the Embassy.
War in the Greenwood
Run by Matt H & Rich on 14th January 2006 (Saturday 0th week, Hilary term)
A sequel to "The Name of the Rose".
There is a gallery of photographs from this game available here, taken by Helen L & Dom, hosted by Chris N.
See the Fiction section for the reactions of four of the world's cities to the conclusion of this LARP in "Dawn In The West", for Kit Fisable's thoughts on Toquell's fate in "Epitaph", and for Arik Blackthorne's somewhat idiosyncratic version of events in "Traditional Tales".
Players: Baragh (Paul), Belor de Velland (Peter M), Captain "Ripper" Bill McKenzie (James W), "Iago de Beus" aka Arik Blackthorne (Julian), Professor Kit Fisable (Helen W), Paulo (Tom), Selena Curiana (Vicky), Toquell Velasquez (Joe W)
Mission Brief: In the Great Forest, Lord Roderick Blakelock is searching for the mother of his young son. Meanwhile, rumours spread of the Exalted Church of the Light outfitting an army in and around the City of Silk. In the White City, Toquell Velasquez is asked to undertake a mission for a high ranking member of the Cloistered Brethren of Chains, and the Merry Band is called together once again...
Adventure Summary: In the White City, Toquell Velasquez calls together his Merry Bands of
Bastards Heroes: Selena Curiana, Professor Kit Fisable, 'Ripper' Bill McKenzie and Belor de Velland. Also hired for extra muscle are perennial Band dogsbody Arik Blackthorne (currently travelling under the name Iago de Beus), taciturn Blood-sorcerer-for-hire Paulo, and doped-up part-troll mercenary Baragh. The situation, explained by Toquell, is this: a low-ranking member of the Cloistered Brethren of Chains (Brother Jara), while travelling in the East, had encountered a creature that was thought to be the young son of the Lady of Blood & Wine, along with its father, one Roderick Blakelock. Jara's reports to the Cloistered Brethren (which fell into Toquell's hands) indicate that the pair were travelling West, to the Great Forest, with the intention of meeting the Lady of Blood & Wine again. The Brethren's man in the City of Silk had recently submitted reports which supported this: Blakelock and the Child had passed through the city just a month ago. Toquell explains the mission: to travel into the Great Forest and retrieve the child, for the Band's own purposes. A cover story has conveniently been provided by one Gideon Anders of the Cloistered Brethren, who has asked Toquell to find his nephew Charlan, who disappeared in the Forest a few weeks ago along with an entire Brethren expedition. Hirelings are to be paid fifty Hexa for their trouble. The mission is accepted with little further ado, and the group depart for the City of Silk, with Bill McKenzie receiving a message from the Lord of Blood Fury to the effect that there is great slaughter ahead...
A short while later, the Band arrive in the City of Silk amid filthy weather. A tournament is in progress and the less salubrious members of the group take part in armed combat and outright murder of the locals for fun and... well, more fun. Meanwhile Toquell makes inquiries. It turns out that a huge army organised by the Exalted Church of the Light assembled at the city a few weeks ago and set off westwards, into the Forest. They were pursued a few days later by a group matching the description of the Chain expedition the Band are looking for. It also comes to Toquell's notice that Roderick Blakelock has been sighted living with Vinechildren a couple of weeks' travel into the Forest. After brief discussion, the party decide that screwing with the Exalted Church is far more fun than whatever they were actually here to do. The following morning, they pick up the trail of destruction left by the Light's army and follow it westward, into the Forest.
For some days they pursue the trail, undisturbed but for Baragh smoking the flowers that grow at Bill's feet. There may exist universes in which it is a good idea to smoke something that grew out of Bill McKenzie's feet, but this is not one of them. Baragh immediately flies into a psychotic rage and attacks the rest of the Band, stopping only when forcibly 'sedated', and is made to promise not to do it again on awakening.
Eventually the party arrive at a Vinechild village which has apparently been destroyed by the army of the Light; the ground is littered with slain Vinechildren and Light crusaders. It is also crawling with a carpet of suspiciously twitching, bright red briars, which according to Toquell have the name 'those called to destroy the invaders from the East'. Like any good group of adventurers, the party decide to solve the problem by setting fire to it. In response the carpet of briars rises up and attacks the party. Being the Vine child Merry Band of Bastards, they summarily hack it to pieces. Selena interrogates the ghosts of various of the dead. Apparently, the crusaders were here to destroy an 'abomination', the very same child of the Lady of Blood & Wine sought by Toquell. The village was destroyed; Roderick Blakelock fled to the south with one group of Vinechildren, while another group fled west with the child, pursued by the crusaders. Selena's examination of the tracks supports this; a group of Vinechildren travelled west, followed by the army of the Light, followed in their turn by the Chain expedition. The Band themselves continue west, along the trail of the army.
A few days later they are set upon by apparently murderously enraged and very highly skilled Weavers. A blood soaked melee ensues, in which even the Merry Band are barely victorious. Arik Blackthorne (a spider-friend whom the Weavers ignore) displays his talent for treachery to the full, refusing to help in the fight and viciously assaulting downed party members. Travelling further west, they find that the trail of the Light army simply disappears at a spot marked by the dismembered corpse of a vast spider. Swarms of tiny spiders pour from the corpse to assail the party, but are easily dispatched. Nonetheless, Arik Blackthorne (a spider-friend whom the spiders ignore) displays his talent for treachery to the full, refusing to help in the fight and viciously assaulting downed party members.
As they debate what to do next, a woman of pale complexion and dark lips approaches, accompanied by a horde of vast spiders. Her name is Xaralena the Queen. The spider queen explains that the body is that of her sister Xarachana, slain by the Light crusaders. The Verdant Lord, she explains, has caused the Forest to swallow the Child and the army alike. The Child has been taken to the mythical Heart of the Forest for protection; the Light crusade has been shut away to prevent it causing further harm. But Xaralena wants it seen to that the Light crusade is destroyed for their murder of her sister. She offers to give the party a way of finding the Heart of the Forest if they bring her the head of the man who leads the crusade. They agree, with Toquell barely restraining his burning desire to take the deity down a peg or two verbally. The Spider Queen directs them to a village of savages, and then to an ancient town, in the far west. The people there, she claims, know how to find an object called the Seat of Thorns; an object which grants the user a limited power over the Forest.
Arik Blackthorne (a spider-friend whom the spiders ignore) displays his talent for treachery to the full, refusing to help in the negotiations and trying to persuade the Spider Queen to kill Selena.
The party follow her advice and set out west. Selena notes that the trail of the Chain expedition veers away to the south, but eventually rejoins essentially the same route that they are taking. A journey of several weeks ensues.
Eventually, the Band stumble upon the village of savages referred to by Xaralena. The villagers are dedicated servants of the Old Powers, and respond with gusto to the rough-and-ready diplomacy of the Band. Bill McKenzie and the tribe's wisewoman have a shape-shifting bear-off which concludes peacefully, indeed passionately, as the two bears disappear into the woods to vigorous cries of "Cubs! Cubs! Cubs!" Having made friends with the tribespeople with one of the oldest instruments of diplomacy - sex - the Band rapidly move onto another, drink and drugs. Baragh makes play with the Forest mushrooms and a couple of troll-blooded 'maidens' of the tribe, while another tribesman tries to impress Selena with the power of his wood. It is discovered that Toquell is a 'chain man', and he is treated by great reverence with the tribe, who apparently honour Chain sorcerers. A good time is had by all, and the Band depart in the morning armed with all the information the tribe can give. Apparently the Chain expedition passed this way, and (like the Band) were searching for the Seat of Thorns. The tribe tell the party where to find the 'elder town' mentioned by Xaralena, and that the people there know the Woodcutter, who made the Seat of Thorns, and the Witch, for whom it was made. More worryingly, they mention that the Woodcutter made the Seat in the days when he and the Witch worked for the 'Name Lords in the East'. Completely unperturbed by the news that they are looking for a Namer artifact, the Band march on merrily westward.
A few days later they are interrupted by the discovery of the Chain expedition, or what's left of it. Charlan Anders is hanging from a tree by hooked chains, dead, while the rest of the expedition is blocking the path, eyes wild with pain and fear, saying nothing. Rolls of chains spill from open wounds in their sides. Toquell announces that they have been Renamed 'Abomination' and 'Dead-of-Chains'. Shouting at Kit to make herself scarce, he unleashes a high-level Shatter Chains, but to no avail; the creatures are unaffected. The party hack their way through the surprisingly sturdy undead. Arik Blackthorne displays his talent for treachery to the full, refusing to help in the fight, though just for once not viciously assaulting downed party members. Meanwhile Selena interrogates the spirit of Charlan Anders. It turns out that his expedition had been sent to find out what the army of the Light was up to, and had tried to find the Seat of Thorns in order to pursue the army further. Instead, they stumbled into another group of travellers, a group led by a man dressed in purple who identified himself as the Ambassador of the Unbound. Brief conversation revealed that he was the representative of the powerful empire of Name sorcerers from beyond the Great Forest. The Cloistered Brethren group showed their defiance, but were swiftly disabled by the Namer expedition. Anders was hung from the tree and left to die, and the rest were Named into undead and left to suffer.
Digesting Selena's news, the party travel on. Within a day, they arrive at the 'elder town', or rather what's left of it. The style of the buildings suggest that it had stood since before the first Naming & Binding War. Now, though, it has been laid waste. The buildings have been burned and the ground is littered with the bodies of the inhabitants. The arcane talents of several of the Band allow them to see the spirits of the townsmen still walking the site of their death. A few of them descend upon the Band, filled with rage at Name sorcerers and intent on ripping apart the nearest example, i.e. Toquell. Selena and Kit tear apart a couple of the spirits like tissue paper and continue into the town to converse with two less hostile dead people, happily oblivious to the fate of the rest of the Band. Belor, Bill, Baragh, Paulo, Arik and Toquell are all psychically defeated by the spirits and possessed. Toquell's body tries to stab itself while he stands paralysed and screams for help. The others descend upon the hapless Toquell and begin to hack him to pieces, burning blood spewing from the many wounds they inflict.
Eventually, all the screaming catches the attention of Kit and Selena, who come running. Selena handles the difficult situation as only Selena can: with zombies. Calling the Black Wind, she reanimates the corpses of the villagers, and sets them to form a wall of cold bodies around Toquell. Kit and Selena then exorcise and Glass Eye the spirits into submission, allowing their companions to regain control of their own bodies. Selena takes the opportunity to rob Arik blind. Once the Band is largely recovered, a few further conversations with the (now departing) spirits of the villagers reveal that this place had, indeed, stood since before the Naming & Binding War. It was destroyed by the Ambassador of the Unbound, who tortured the villagers for information about the Seat of Thorns before slaying them to a man. In the hope of spiting the Ambassador, the spirits tell Toquell that the Witch and the Woodcutter both know how to activate the Seat, and where to find each. The Woodcutter was bound in a nearby grove by the Cloistered Brethren of Chains in ages past, and only appears during the day; the Witch was similarly bound in a nearby lake, along with 'various other creatures of the Namers', and only appears at night. The Band give Last Rites to the villagers, and after some discussion set off to meet the Woodcutter.
The Woodcutter turns out to be a taciturn man who refuses to help the Band except on his own terms. Toquell attempts to Bind his Will but the process inexplicably fails. The Woodcutter sets two conditions: that the Band free him from the grove, and that they bring him to the Witch so that she can apologise to him in person. Exactly what the apology is for, he declines to say. Kit examines the binding around the grove and, using a novel combination of her knowledge of Chain sorcery and her unlawful entry skills, succeeds in breaking the ancient spell. Now freed, the Woodcutter accompanies the Band to the Witch's lake. The sun sets, and the Woodcutter disappears; from the lake comes a ravenous cacophony of voices, and the translucent form of a woman appears at the shore. It introduces itself as the Witch. Discussions follow, in which it emerges that the Witch and the Woodcutter are embroiled in an astoundingly petty tiff over the way they were imprisoned. Kit and Belor talk the Witch into 'being the mature one' and apologising first. Kit then breaks the spell binding the Witch into the lake. The broken bond also releases a tide of horrors from the first Naming & Binding War: silver skinned men who form their limbs into weapons, a red-mouthed Cannibal Queen, and a black dressed man who claims to be The Raven Whose Wings Are Night. The band butcher the Quicksilver Men and the Cannibal Queen, and Toquell Binds the Will of the Raven. The creature is found to be capable of producing small patches of day (or night), so Toquell commands it to create a patch of day; and lo, the Woodcutter appears. The dispute between him and the Witch is cleared up with just a little help from Kit and Belor, just in time for the Raven's powers to fail and the Woodcutter to disappear again. The Witch, however, agrees to tell the party the Oldest Tongues verses necessary to activate the Seat of Thorns, and they travel on.
Reaching the Seat of Thorns, the Band find the remains of a camp. Evidently, the Ambassador of the Unbound has been and gone. Toquell sits on the Seat, defeats the Great Forest itself in psychic combat, and wrests a route to the Heart of the Forest from the land. The Band travel eastward along Toquell's path for many days, eventually finding the tattered remains of the Light crusaders, now torn apart by the Forest. Finally, they come to the Heart of the Forest. In a clearing, beneath a mighty oak, is Sammy Blakelock, guarded by a couple of Children of the Vine. Also pacing the clearing are a number of great wolves with unnatural, blood-red kiss brands on their foreheads. While the Band digest the significance of this, the earth bursts open, and a shower of blood, soil, roots and stone forms into the likeness of Vincenzi Velasquez. And then, things get interesting.
As Toquell confronts the spirit of his brother, Bill McKenzie steps forward. Producing what the rest of the Band had assumed was a perfectly normal spare sword, he says "Vincenzi, I've brought your sword back." With that, he steps over to Vincenzi, slices his own chest open, and unleashes a Blood Curse of epic proportions on Toquell. Toquell's chest explodes in a shower of blood, and as he collapses all merry hell breaks loose. Vincenzi's Blood-Wolves move in and attack the rest of the Band. Belor tells Vincenzi that he will not fight him, and stands aside, unharmed. Selena repairs Toquell's injuries with her Dark Powers, and Toquell re-enters the fray as other members of the Band scream at Bill to reconsider. Unrepentant, Bill wades right on in with the wolves. Paulo and Baragh are both torn down by the wolves, fortunately passing out and being left for dead before taking fatal injuries. Arik is surrounded by wolves and shouts for Belor's help. But Belor de Velland displays his talent for treachery to the full, refusing to help Arik in the fight and dismissing him with a casual comment. Arik flees blubbing into the Forest. Belor treacherously turns on Vincenzi and attacks the wolves, but not in time to prevent Toquell being cut down. Bill uses the cursed cold granted to his fingers by the Light Corrupt to rip the heart from Toquell's chest; after some negotiation, he hands it to the Raven, who flies off, cackling. Spewing flame from the gaping hole in his chest Toquell is somehow able to stagger to his feet and rejoin the fray, but Bill unleashes Vincenzi's old Blood Vengeance upon him, and Toquell collapses once again. Vincenzi calls vines to string his hated brother up from the tallest tree in the Forest and slits his throat, draining out his enchanted burning blood. The fight seems poised on a knife edge; the Band have slain Sammy's Vinechild bodyguards and Bill has collapsed, but the wolves just keep getting up, and Vincenzi is turning his attention to the rest of the Band. Unfortunately he fails to notice Selena creeping up behind him, and the current physical shell of Vincenzi is Commended to Ash. With that, the wolves flee, and Selena, Kit and Belor are able to cut Toquell down from the tree, grab Sammy Blakelock, and run...
Adventure Consequences: With Vincenzi Commended to Ash, his wolves in retreat and Bill unconscious, the rest of the party flees the Heart of the Forest dragging Sammy Blakelock with them. Toquell is reeling; the gaping hole in his chest (where Bill ripped out his heart) and the many, many other wounds he has taken are spewing fire. Already he looks like a human torch. Barely able to speak, he asks Belor to hand the child to him. Producing a knife, he slits the child's throat from ear to ear. As Sammy's sacred blood spills onto the earth of the Forest and Toquell burns and dies, he slowly and deliberately
The ground tears asunder and great chains spring forth. In an instant, Toquell is wrapped from head to foot and dragged beneath the surface. With a roar, the ground closes; all that remains of Toquell Velasquez is a set of great chains stretching into the sky, like those on the Battlefields in the East, or the ones before the gates of the White City. All this happens in the blink of an eye. Then comes the explosion.
Baragh, Belor, Kit, and Selena (those in Toquell's immediate vicinity) are thrown into the air, and lose consciousness. They come to some time later, scattered across different parts of the Western Forest. Visible to them (and to everyone else in a radius of several hundred miles) is a vast column of black flame springing up into the sky from the site of Toquell's burial (next to the Heart of the Forest). All four are able to walk out of the forest, completely (indeed unnaturally) unmolested by any of the usual dangers.
Paulo, who had spent the last part of the battle with Vincenzi taking an unexpected nap, wakes up to find himself virtually underneath the vast pillar of black flame. Standing over him is a beautiful woman, looking angry. The Lady of Blood and Wine says, "Silly boy. Go home to master." and quickly kisses him on the lips. Everything burns, and Paulo passes out. He awakens on a mountain trail far to the North (in the domain of the King of the Eagles). Paulo's lips are now permanently bloody.
Iago de Beus hears the huge explosion and sees the pillar of black flame springing up. He can't find his way back to it and (unlike the rest of the party) does not get out the Forest molestation-free. His next few weeks are interesting and painful.
Bill McKenzie awakens at the Heart of the Forest. The pillar of black flame is immediately to hand. Standing over him are three figures: the Lord of the Blood-Fury, The Lady of Blood and Wine, and the Verdant Lord. The Lord of Blood Fury congratulates him on slaughter well done, and wanders off. The Lady thanks him for trying, and kisses him on the brow. Bill McKenzie now has a bloody kiss on his forehead, rather like Vincenzi's. The Verdant Lord thanks him for defending the Heart of the Forest and touches his tongue with one root-like finger. Bill's veins now run with sap as well as blood. He, likewise, is able to leave the Forest unmolested.
Much happens over the next few weeks and months.
Toquell named a new Power into existence - the Black Fire. To those with a sufficiently strong drive to withstand it, the Black Fire consumes and grants desires in return. For this use of the most powerful Name sorcery, he was Bound forever beneath the earth.
The Heart of the Black Fire is Toquell himself, Bound next to the Heart of the Great Forest. Over a few weeks, the vast column of black fire decreases, until only a man-sized flame remains, at the site where Toquell is buried. This, like the Heart of the Great Forest to which it is attached, shifts constantly; the only known reliable way to find it is using the Seat of Thorns.
The appearance of the vast column of black fire, which is seen almost as far East as the City of Crossroads, causes a vast panic in the White City and elsewhere. As no immediate doom befalls the world, this subsides into intense curiosity. Then Professor Kit Fisable emerges from the Great Forest, apparently with an explanation. At the same time, a cult of the new Black Fire begins in the Port of Glass, claiming that it is entirely compatible with Vitriarch worship.
Following some intense negotiations, Kit Fisable is made Chief Professor of the Faculty of the Arcane (the previous incumbent is none-too-subtly bounced into early retirement). She immediately begins publishing papers on the Black Fire. These bring the startling revelation that the Fire is an ancient Power that battled against the Namer Gods during the first Naming and Binding War. The Namers, apparently, imprisoned it at the Heart of the Forest, hurting both the Forest and the Fire. All record of this eighth Power has since been systematically suppressed by cultists of the Bound Ones, suggesting a worrying degree of infiltration by such cultists. Toquell Velasquez selflessly sacrificed his life to free the buried flame, thereby also healing the Heart of the Forest.
Kit's chain-mesh brand begins to burn with black flame, and over the next few weeks the mark of the King in Fragments is consumed, leaving only a black, burning, heart of chains.
The Temple of Ashes makes no statement on the new (old?) Power, other than to note that it is not connected to the Burned Lords. The Cloistered Brethren also remain silent; they have recently lost an expedition and Toquell Velasquez in the Great Forest, and are suspicious of something dodgy, but can't prove anything for now. The Exalted Church of the Light declare the new power to be dangerous to the purity of its worshippers but don't declare it an abomination, yet. They seem to be curiously cautious, in fact.
Everyone, from the Church to the Brethren to Rebecca De Courci, is frantic for more information on the new Power.
The remains of the Merry Band deliver news of Toquell's passing to his presumably distraught Family.
A sample of the Black Fire (which physically manifests as a black fire (!)) is in the hands of the Faculty of the Arcane, donated by Kit Fisable.
As only a few people will know, Lemuel D'Artois also appears to have acquired a sample of the Black Fire.
Toquell's heart was carried off by the creature known as the Raven Whose Wings Are Night, who presumably still has it.
Run by Julian & Joe W on 21st January 2006 (Saturday 1st week, Hilary term)
Part one of the "Child Of The Light" campaign, a sequel to "Best Served Cold (Part 1)".
Players: Andreas Garric (Fergus), Ambassador Constantine D'Artois (Nathan), Gex the Ratcatcher (Rich), Brother Jara (Xan), Marco di Falconi (Joff), "Roland" aka Erskine Uskglass (Matt H)
Mission Brief: Francis De Courci is seeking adventurers for a secret mission in the East: few think it is a coincidence that rumours of a great prophet of the Light arising in the City of Crossroads reached the White City only a few days ago...
Adventure Summary: An agent of the Low Guard recruits the motley gaggle of adventurers and briefs them in the back room of a quiet tavern in the White City. He reminds them of the massive explosion which destroyed the great Church of the Light in the centre of the city three and a half months previously (see "Best Served Cold (Part 1)"), which was believed to have killed the then High Priest of the Light, Marius De Courci, though his body was never found. Then the agent tells them that a devout worshipper of the Light named Demetria, who was not noticeably pregnant at the time, left the city shortly afterwards and travelled to Crossroads, where she claims to have given birth to a boy who was conceived by the Light, was born and continues to mature at an amazing rate, and is alleged to be Marius De Courci reborn as a messiah of the Light. A small cult has started up in Crossroads around the two of them, and the Low Guard want Demetria and her son kidnapped and brought back to the White City for investigation before the cult can grow large enough to present a danger to anyone. The agent gives the party a small amount of money in advance and hands each of them a small token to identify themselves to the Low Guard's agents in Crossroads.
Setting off East, the journey to Crossroads is uneventful but for a minor slaughtering of overconfident bandits. But as the party nears Crossroads itself they come across the site of a recent battle, one side clad in the uniforms of Crossroads guards and the other side clad in black tabards bearing an unfamiliar white sword device. A few of the incapacitated survivors are roused and questioned, and it soon becomes apparent that the cult founded by Demetria has recruited many fanatical followers of the Light (the troops in black tabards) and orchestrated a coup to seize control of the City of Crossroads! The Crossroads guards were escorting a member of the ousted ruling Council named Abruzo, who was fleeing to the White City to seek aid, when the Light fanatics attacked and slaughtered his guards, their surviving troops dragging the Abruzo away. It's also revealed that the newborn "messiah" has already become physically a teenager.
One of the Crossroads guards is healed up and sent west to warn the White City of these events while the party salvage the bloodstained tabards from the slain fanatics and follow the trail of the captured Councillor in hopes of being able to rescue him. They hope to first infiltrate the ranks of his captors by stealth, approaching with Andreas and Jara faux-manacled and the rest of the party clad in the salvaged tabards hoping that Marco and Roland can talk their way in. But the fanatics attack on sight with swords and sorcery and a fierce battle ensues. The last few wounded soldiers of the Light are just being finished off when Constantine, who has been carefully lurking well away from the front lines, calls forth the Blessing of the Vitriarchs... at which point the recently slain sprout shards of Glass and rise again as zombies, which the party are hard pressed to deal with. They are eventually victorious, at which point they turn their angry gazes upon Constantine and ask him what he thought he was playing at. A vociferous debate takes place, with several of the adventurers nocking arrows or raising swords ready to kill Constantine on the spot, but eventually they are grudgingly persuaded to let him live as long as he promises not to do it again.
Investigating the camp, Abruzo's charred remains (as well as those of several other prisoners) are found where he'd been burnt alive at the stake before the party's arrival. Pressing on to Crossroads, the city gates are seen to be guarded by several dozen heavily armed soldiers of the Light. Since their original mission (kidnap the leader of a small cult and her young child) has now become rather more challenging, the party consider just returning to the White City with the news. But since Gex is an expert on sewers and Jara knows Crossroads well (especially the sewers, having escaped from the city through them before during the events of "Patriot Chains") they decide to first infiltrate the city and gather some more information on the situation. So they proceed through the sewers, where they find several dozen heavily armed soldiers of the Light waiting for them. The initial clash finds the party outflanked through side tunnels and forced to retreat, but not before Gex has broken through the lines and got most of the way out of the sewers, nor before Jara is taken down and left behind by his comrades' better part of valour. His unconscious body is dragged away into custody as the rest of the party launches a second attack, being rejoined by Gex before they are beaten back again and retreat to seek another route.
Jara is stripped of his possessions (though after some discussion the fanatics stop short of cutting off his prosthetic arm), fruitlessly questioned and eventually, when he stubbornly refuses to pledge himself a loyal follower of the Light, sentenced to be burnt alive at the stake in the main square at dawn. Meanwhile the rest of the party again discuss returning to the White City but eventually manage to find an unguarded sewer entrance and rendezvous with some members of the city's resistance, including a former Councilwoman. Revolutionary songs are sung and plans are made for Jara's rescue. At dawn, after the fires have been lit beneath Jara and the other victims, a diversion is staged to draw away some of the guards while Roland takes to the air and swoops in to rescue him. He gets to Jara just as Jara manages to cut the last of his bonds (having extracted the concealed knife from his prosthetic arm under cover of the smoke) and the two of them fly to safety, pausing only for Jara to grab a new sword from the body of one of the distracted soldiers.
Regrouping at a resistance safehouse, the party share some of their spare equipment with Jara as they're told of a secret route to the cult's inner sanctum via an obscure branch of the sewers and a magic door. Following the directions given, the party manage to bypass the door and find Demetria, her son (now physically in his late teens) and a small group of guards all gathered together in an underground chamber. The adventurers battle with the guards as the cult's leaders try and persuade them to stop fighting, then Marco tries to subdue 'Marius'. But the man is inhumanly tough and proves able to raise the Light ten times as fast as a normal Light sorcerer. As Marco pummels him he tries to Refine Marco into pure Light, but by some lucky quirk of fate Marco survives, though all his clothing and possessions are destroyed and he briefly passes out from the shock. Meanwhile Jara uses the distraction to sneak up behind 'Marius' and cosh him over the back of the head, at which point he slumps to the ground. Demetria is also knocked unconscious, Marco is revived and the party flee the city through the sewers with their two captives.
The party are only a couple of days out of the city, having kept their captives bound, gagged and unconscious the whole time, and are setting up camp for the night when a group of the Watchful (Crossroads' equivalent of the Low Guard) emerge from the undergrowth and demand that the two captives are handed over into their custody. As agents of the rightful rulers of Crossroads they claim the right to enact justice on the instigators of the coup. The party are split on the matter and heated discussion ensues, with the Watchful threatening violence if they are not allowed to do as they wish, and eventually the party accede to their demands. One of the Watchful, with some ceremony, draws his sword and beheads the still unconscious form of Marius - but blinding silver light flows from the wound and hovers in midair above the body, growing in intensity. Almost everyone scatters for the undergrowth as Marius' body dissolves into silver light and then reforms... whole, apparently unharmed and fully conscious. He revives Demetria and destroys some of the Watchful before the rest flee. It soon becomes apparent that he bears his captors no hard feelings and even seems quite pleased to be going to the White City, which rouses no little unease. Once everyone has emerged from their hiding places Constantine extends formal diplomatic greetings from the Port of Glass to the new rulers of the City of Crossroads, earning himself hard stares from his comrades and nearly provoking fresh hostility from Marius and Demetria. Then the group continue their journey back to the White City.
Pausing only briefly to alert the Eastern Watchtower to the latest turn of events, the party head to the tavern where they are due to rendezvous with their Low Guard contact. Most of them decide that their experiences are best dealt with by getting thoroughly drunk. Soon a Low Guard agent does indeed arrive, showing his badge and giving all the appropriate recognition signs to Jara and Roland, and after debriefing the party takes Marius and Demetria into custody and departs. Just as the party are about to move on to a new tavern another Low Guard agent arrives, this one with a sizeable escort of troops, ready to take Marius and his mother into custody, and it is discovered that the previous agent was an impostor. A quick sweep of the city reveals that the impostor was seen leading Marius and Demetria into the tunnels beneath the ruins of the former Church of the Light, so the party are ordered to go in there and recover them.
The tunnels descend deep beneath the earth, leading to cellars and dungeons that have been abandoned for months. Eventually they reach an older section of the dungeons where Marius and Demetria are consulting with a man kept in a large cage with runes inscribed between the bars, guarded by a sizeable contingent of Knights of the Shining Order. Having seen what Marius is capable of, they consider giving up then and there, but eventually decide to have a go as much in revenge for what they've been put through as anything else. So they attack (except for Constantine, who takes the opportunity to sneak off to the pub while his companions are busy fighting), but by the time they've dealt with the first wave of Knights Marius finishes speaking with the man in the cage and transforms himself into silver light, shooting up into the ceiling and vanishing (witnesses aboveground later report that the silver light shoots into the sky and vanishes into the heavens). The rest of the Knights are dealt with (Marco even causing one to lose his faith), Demetria is subdued and captured again, and the party talk to the man in the cage. He calls himself The Oracle and answers some of their questions in a cryptic manner, eventually persuading some of them to free him from the cage by rubbing out a section of the runes (while others protest). Demetria and The Oracle are handed over to the Low Guard and the rest of the party go off to continue getting thoroughly drunk and cursing Constantine's name.
Run by Joe W on 28th January 2006 (Saturday 2nd week, Hilary term)
There is a gallery of photographs from this game available here, taken by Ellie & James F, hosted by Chris N.
Players: Alain De Almedia (Lucy), Alex the Sociologist (Chris O), Dale Coth (Chris N), David Southpaw (Arthur), Eldron Haderas (Andrew P), Elias Vincenzi (Dom), Mrs. Hespera Pax (Helen L), Professor Kit Fisable (Helen W), Morgock Sarm (Rich), Thumbs McCracken (Marcus)
Mission Brief: Unknown.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Night of the Long Knives
Part two of the "Child Of The Light" campaign, a sequel to "Cult Activity".
Run by Julian & Rich on 4th February 2006 (Saturday 3rd week, Hilary term)
Players: Carmina Curiana (Vicky), Cassandra (Ellie), Diego (Joe W), various PC & NPC Knights of the Shining Order & Priests of the Light
Mission Brief: Marius De Courci, the great prophet of the Light who conquered the City of Crossroads, has taken control of the Shining Order and the Exalted Church of the Light. He sends a group of fanatical Light worshippers to assassinate the High Captains of the High Guard and Sir Francis De Courci before aiding the Shining Order in their assault on the Governor's Palace with the intent of assassinating Rebecca De Courci herself.
Adventure Summary: The Velasquez and Cristofori High Captains (a powerful Blood sorcerer and an accomplished warrior respectively) are having a planning meeting in a pub with some of their men. The party arrive at the pub and barricade all the entrances but the front door, set fire to the building and then stand in the street outside the front door Raising The Light while waiting for the High Guardsmen to emerge. In a hard fight the High Guardsmen are slaughtered to the last, the Velasquez High Captain struck down from behind by Diego before he can call down Blood Vengeance upon them.
The De Courci High Captain, a degenerate political appointee, is in another pub which is being besieged by a minor noble and his men, this noble seeking revenge on the High Captain for the deflowering of his daughter and insisting on being allowed to kill the High Captain himself. The party work with the noble and his men to break into the pub, slaughter everyone inside, then slaughter the noble and his men for trying to insist on taking the High Captain's life themselves and for not being sufficiently respectful to Marius and the Light.
The party then head for Sir Francis De Courci's mansion. A group of King Eric's Men are waiting for them on the way there to discuss possible future relations between Marius and King Eric, but after Diego goes up and does his 'Umble Beggar LadTM act and finds out they're waiting for the party he goes back and leads the party round them by some different streets.
Sir Francis' estate has large groups of High Guard standing watch at the gates. The party incite some of the city's pro-Marius citizens to start a riot at the estate's front gate, as a result of which a Low Guardsman soon approaches the guards at the side gate and tells them that they are needed to help quell the riot. But the four guards who answer the call haven't had time to get far before the party charge in to attack, and so come back to help. A protracted fight ensues during which two of the Knights are killed before the High Guardsmen are defeated. The rest of the party break into the grounds of the estate, where with many of the guards having headed over to the front gate to help quell the riot Diego is able to sneak them into the mansion and hide them all in Sir Francis' study without being noticed by anyone except Sir Francis' estranged wife, who is swiftly knocked unconscious. Soon afterwards Sir Francis conveniently comes to the study in his dressing gown (which is steelsilk, naturally) to check on some papers, having not heard the commotion outside, and the two guardsmen with him are almost immediately cut down by the party's ambush. Sir Francis runs for his life but is caught and killed by Diego. Then Diego grabs a bunch of Sir Francis' papers and the party flee the mansion, having to fight their way out past all the guards they managed to avoid on the way in, everyone falling to the guards but Diego, who loses an arm before finally finishing off Sir Francis' personal bodyguard and reviving his surviving few comrades (the party's non-Knightly Light sorcerer having been killed by the bodyguard) for their escape, setting fire to the building on the way.
The rest of Marius' followers now gather at Sir Francis' mansion as previously agreed. Marius uses sorcery to give Diego a temporary replacement arm and leads his followers in an assault on the Governor's Palace. There is a massive battle during which the party (bolstered by some more Knights of the Shining Order) manage to break through the lines of the High Guard and fight their way into the palace. They battle through the corridors, cutting down many High Guard and a De Almedia captain, before reaching the tower where Rebecca De Courci is rumoured to be holed up. The courtyard in front of the tower is defended by another group of High Guard, so Carmina stands in the narrow entranceway behind a shield wall of Knights and spends several minutes Raising The Light before firing off a huge blast of Light which demolishes the tower and blows a huge breach in the palace walls through which pour many more Knights of the Shining Order. The palace is soon overrun and the Governor's title claimed by Marius.
Intimations of Mortality
The Light Corrupt
Part three of the "Child Of The Light" campaign, a sequel to "Night of the Long Knives".
Run by Julian on 18th February 2006 (Saturday 5th week, Hilary term)
Players: Belor de Velland (Peter M), Lord Belric Luxfrey (James F), Ambassador Carlos de Mamushi (Joe W), Ratrina De Almedia (Andrea), Yana (Ellie)
Mission Brief: Carlos de Mamushi, White City Ambassador to the Port of Glass, is called to Rebecca De Courci's military base on the borders of the Great Forest, where the armies that remain loyal to the old regime are being commanded by High Captain Matteus. He is joined by Lord Belor de Velland, Lord Belric Luxfrey (representing the Church of the Light Indivisible), Ratrina De Almedia and Yana of the Cloistered Brethren. They are taken to Rebecca's headquarters, where she briefs them personally that their task is to visit the Port of Glass and retrieve an artifact Duke Lemuel D'Artois has informed her may have the power to destroy Marius De Courci. In return she will use her influence to help the adventurers gain prestige and power in the White City, after she is Governess again of course.
She authorises them to use whatever force is necessary, but tells them to be very careful in dealing with Duke Lemuel.
Adventure Summary: On the way to the Port they encounter a number of members of the Shining Order. Despite a mistaken ploy by Lord Belor (claiming to be pro-Marius whilst talking to members of the Church of the Light Indivisible), Lord Belric and Ambassador Carlos manage to steer the Knights away from a confrontation.
As the party approach the Port, Lord Belric steels himself to enter the pit of corruption by Blessing his halberd to Bring Light To The Dark Places, and puts on a blindfold to stop him looking upon impurity.
At the entrance to the Port the party are stopped by members of the Broken Guard, who seem wary of letting an obvious Light worshipper into the city accompanied by a glowing halberd given the current political climate. Ambassador Carlos again talks the trouble around, and deters the Broken Guard's chaplain from blessing (cursing?) anyone. Lord Belor lends his cloak to cover the shining halberd, which is not entirely successful.
The party proceed to Duke Lemuel's palace, where he seems to be in a fine mood whilst dealing with petitioners. The party are very very respectful and careful, and he takes quite a shine to them. Especially to Yana. He informs them that the potent artifact to destroy Marius is The Light Corrupt, and that it currently sits in a lighthouse off the coast. He tells them to hurry to the docks, as he has had a ship prepared. He offers Yana the blessing of the King In Fragments - she declines and Carlos convinces his chaplain to give it to her staff instead. This results in Yana's staff being left in fragments.
As a present, Duke Lemuel gives her a crystal staff instead. She respectfully thanks him for his gift, although chooses not to use it as her main weapon. For some reason...
On the way to the docks they see a maniac hitting a dog whilst shouting "Damn You Kitten!" Ambassador Carlos explains that this happens daily, at the command of Duke Lemuel. It is always a female dog, apparently.
A brief sea journey (with much talk of sea badgers) later, the party arrive at the Lighthouse Corrupt, where they encounter lots of Splinter-Men. They battle their way up to the entrance of the Lighthouse, and find a strange scene. On the floor is a statue of a man, on the wall a mural of people cutting themselves, on the floor are lots of glass shards, and the door is made of three massive man-like forms entwined. After a lot of debate and discussion, all the party cut themselves. The three forms come alive, and step aside. The party press on into the dark.
After a brief glimpse of the Shattered Plain, the adventurers arrive in a village. It is curiously nondescript and tranquil. The villagers seem happy, and profess to worship the Light. However Lord Belric's staff is glowing rather heavily, suggesting all is not as pure as it seems. Sure enough a fight commences, as the villagers bulge unpleasantly into strange monstrous forms. The party eventually repel them, and Lord Belric does the Last Rites. The bodies dissolve into a greenish glowing goo.
The party proceeds through some woods, towards a distant lighthouse visible on top of a hill on the horizon. On the way they are haunted by monstrous noises, and are finally attacked by horrific beasts, which they fight their way through.
In the lighthouse they find a torture chamber, where humans are being slowly vitrified by an evil green glassy goblin, guarded by glass sentinels. Abnormally green and melted glass sentinels. The party eventually defeat them, but Ambassador Carlos reports that they are sadly too late to save the torture victims and puts them out of their misery. Lord Belor eyes their bodies hungrily, but manages to restrain himself.
Pressing on, they get to the top of the lighthouse. Here they find a glass-filled room where a mad scientist is doing experiments on a glass shard that is glowing bright green. Lord Belric's halberd glows extremely brightly. The party rush to the scientist, Belor snatches the glass shard, Carlos coshes the scientist and then Belric smites the heretic, mightily.
Unfortunately the glass shards on the ground at this point rise up to attack the party, and within seconds most of the party are unconscious and being driven mad by dreams. Carlos eventually defeats the monsters, and the party reawaken in a very fragile mental state.
They hurry away from the lighthouse, following a wind from the Hushed Princess sent to guide Carlos. And encounter the Bride of Brittle Tears and her retinue. They are very polite. She explains she is looking for the shards of the King of Fragments, and the Light Corrupt is in one of those shards. Much negotiation later Carlos convinces her that if she transfers the Light Corrupt into the crystal staff Duke Lemuel gave Yana and helps them escape the land they are in, she can keep the shard. Carlos then seduces her, giving everyone else vivid re-occurring nightmares involving horrible broken images of Carlos and the Bride. No-one's fragile mental state is improved by this.
They then fight their way through a flock of insubstantial glass birds.
Back in the real world they are 'escorted' back to Duke Lemuel by the Broken Guard on a warship. They are hurried to his palace. A rather tense meeting then occurs, during which Duke Lemuel claims the Light Corrupt is now his. Instead, a wager is suggested. Yana's life is one stake, the Light Corrupt the other. Duke Lemuel takes them to a glass-lined fighting pit, and puts Yana up against a massive monster wearing glass armour. Yana fights well, but is driven mad and (as she's already in a much-weakened mental state) knocked unconscious when the armour shatters. Lord Belor steps forwards to fight, and eventually wins by driving the monster back against the glass-lined walls to break its remaining armour and then hitting it lots.
Duke Lemuel is most impressed by the fight, especially by Yana, and agrees they can go back to the White City Embassy. Here they get their armour repaired and rest for the night (and Belor sneaks off to eat some children). They then head back to the De Courci military encampment to give Rebecca the staff, fighting their way through pro-Marius Shining Order knights on the way.
Reflections of Ruins
Run by Vicky & Matt H on 25th February 2006 (Saturday 6th week, Hilary term)
A sequel to "Bill, The Bodach & The Broken Guard".
Players: Adanemoay (Xan), Bairoth (Peter M), Harriet Pinter (Ellie), Marco di Falconi (Joff), Sir Pedoran of the Shining Order (Peter R), Phillippe D'Artois (Andrew C), Trintignan Dauphin D'Argent (Aubrey)
Mission Brief: A High Priest of the Lord of the Gardens has stolen an artefact from the Temple of Ashes and headed South. The Temple hires a group of Ash priests and adventurers to bring back both the priest and the artefact.
Adventure Summary: The party are summoned to the Temple of Ashes one morning and given confidential information as to the sudden disappearance of an important priest of the Lord of the Gardens named Melchior, along with a still more important scroll belonging to the temple, which he is believed to have stolen. Upon questioning by the PCs (particularly Marco, who considers himself something of an investigator), the temple explains that Melchior hadn't been quite himself prior to his disappearance- most likely due to the sudden and horrific deaths of most of his immediate family which culminated in him being forced to Commend to Ash their re-animated corpses. As to the nature of the scroll, the priest briefing the party refuses to comment, but asks them to locate it, and if possible Melchior as well, and return them to the temple. The scroll is not be opened under any circumstances.
The only information the temple can give as to Melchior’s whereabouts is that he headed south.
On Marco’s suggestion, the PCs proceed first to Melchior’s residence, a short distance from the White City. They find it surrounded by a number of people concerned as to what has happened to him, many of them also Ash priests. They decide to break into the house, and having broken the door down, Marco and Harriet enter. Harriet finds some piles of ash, and manages to call up the spirit of Melchior’s dead wife, while Marco looks for clues. Between them, they gather enough information to make a start at following Melchior’s trail. A day or two south of the city, the party are attacked by zombies. Harriet summons a cloud of ash and Adanemoay, Philippe, Harriet and Sir Pedoran hack many zombies to pieces. The cloud clears and the rest of the party joins in. Philippe summons up the spirit of one of the now-hacked-to-pieces zombies to question her and discovers that Melchior passed through here, and performed some strange ritual (which he promised her and the others would "make them better") involving shards of glass. This worries the party somewhat.
They proceed onward and come after some time to a village. The people there seem friendly enough, but seem not to have been able to sleep properly for a few weeks. They apparently had a plague there a month or so ago, which is now over, and had many dead bodies on which the last rites had not been performed. Melchior passed through the village, and gave the last rites to these people, and it was then that the sleeping problems began.
Harriet and Trintignan realise after a while that they can see faint spirits hovering around and near to the village and think that these may be the ghosts of the people that Melchior gave the last rites to and that they may be causing the villager’s problems.
In expectation of being attacked by these spirits, fighting them off, and freeing the village of them, the party prepare to spend the night in the village. Philippe insists on sleeping apart from the rest of the party, though he is a little vague as to why.
The party are indeed attacked by spirits, and though there are a lot of headaches next morning the PCs remain free of possession, largely thanks to Harriet and her skills at exorcism.
The party have a short encounter with a mad glass sorcerer leading some Splinter-Men, marked only by Philippe cutting the sorcerer’s throat after the party had subdued and bound him- something which both Marco and Bairoth considered reprehensible. He defends his action as being a less cruel fate for him than any other realistic option.
Further south the party encounter another village, this one almost completely devoid of life. The corpse of a woman hangs from a tree in the centre of the village, and there are other dead bodies all over the place. They all seem very malnourished. A woman (the only live person there) sits under the hanging corpse. She does not introduce herself, but upon questioning tells the party that most of the villagers committed suicide during a severe famine. Philippe finds her oddly familiar...
Bairoth has a private conversation with the woman, the subject of which he does not discuss with the rest of the party. Philippe begins to grow frantic as he struggles to work out who the woman is and why he seems to recognise her. Bairoth tries to drag him (and the rest of the party) away from the village, telling him that it will be better to leave well alone. At this point the party, except for Philippe, are attacked by more ghosts, which they manage to fight off, though Bairoth appeared at one point to be giving in to one of them until Harriet exorcised it. Philippe then suddenly realises who it is that he faces, and falls on his knees before her. He grovels a bit, wondering whether he is worthy of this meeting, and asks he what he should do next. She tells him to continue following the party if he wishes. He tells the rest of the party who the woman is, and Harriet also bows to her as one of the Burned Lords.
Eventually Philippe consents to leave the village and the party proceed onwards. He is very quiet for some time after that, and Harriet tries to comfort him. They enter the Broken Garden, and shortly after so doing meet a man in armour, bearing a sword and a shield, on the bridge which they need to cross to continue. He insists that one of the party fight him before they may do so, and further insists that only Adanemoay and Harriet are worthy so to do. Adanemoay agrees to the single combat, and things do not go well for him, despite fierce encouragement from Sir Pedoran. Two of his limbs are hacked off, but he refuses to submit. Eventually the mysterious warrior kills him. He then congratulates the party on Adanemoay’s loyalty to his companions, and restores Adanemoay to life with a tear of ash. This is the Lord of the Faithful, and he then allows the party to pass.
Next the party encounter a small band of Black-Flame cultists. They want the PCs to sacrifice something to their power before they will allow them to pass, and after some consideration, most of the party and happy so to do. Adanemoay sacrifices a dagger, Sir Pedoran bravely offers anything the Black Flame wants, Harriet sacrifices her notebook, Marco sacrifices some of his time to help the leader of the cultists (who turns out to be a D'Artois called Lucien) achieve revenge on his brother, and the rest of the party, except for Trintignan, offer the leader of the cultists something, though nothing physical is obviously taken. Trintignan refuses point-blank to offer anything. He maintains that the cultists are nothing more than bandits and refuses to sacrifice to the Flame on principle. He attempts to run past the cultists, and there is a bit of confused fighting. Trintignan escapes, and Adanemoay pursues the cultists to defend him.
Several of the cultists are wounded in the fight, and Lucien heals them with Ash Magic. Adanemoay notices and is furious. He returns to the party denouncing him as a necromancer. Philippe hears this, and sees Lucien healing more of the cultists himself. Without hesitation he summons a cloud of ash and hacks Lucien to pieces.
The rest of the cultists then attack the party, which is forced to defend itself, and all the cultists are killed.
Marco is now furious with Philippe, calling him nothing but a murderer. Harriet defends him, and summons up Lucien’s spirit to talk to him. Marco consents to continue the journey, but warns Philippe that if he ever sees him again after this mission is over, he will quite happily kill him.
The party have an unfortunate encounter with some more Black Flame cultists, rather less friendly than the previous group, and finally come to a clearing in which they find Melchior lying wounded surrounded by a contingent of the Broken Guard who are shouting at him to "Shatter". They swiftly attack the Broken Guard, and thanks to some Ashen Clouds and Marco’s Blood magic, the guardsmen quickly fall. Bairoth and Harriet talk to Melchior and Adanemoay takes possession of the scroll, which he still has. Melchior is not entirely sure what has happened, but agrees to accompany the party back to the White City. The scroll is returned to the temple, unopened.
Adventure Consequences: Melchior is returned to the Temple of Ashes, where he is put in a padded room with no sharp objects and fed potions. He is on the mend but his fate is probably now tied to that of his deity.
Adanemoay has the burnt mark of a hound on his shoulder and is considered to have the blessing of the Lord of the Faithful, which may have further effect at GM discretion. Harriet has also earned the favour of her deity for behaving suitably in his presence.
Very shortly after the end of the adventure a number of letters turn up in Lord de Mamushi's study implicating an affair he had some years ago. Much to the family's embarrassment he is forced to confess this to be true and admit that the adventurer Bairoth is the product of that affair, effectively making him Carlos' half brother. He has also earned the enmity of the de Mamushi Family.
Marco has occasional dreams where Lucien D'Artois begs him for justice.
Comes the Night
Part four of the "Child Of The Light" campaign, a sequel to "The Light Corrupt".
Run by Julian on 4th March 2006 (Saturday 7th week, Hilary term)
Players: Baren (Ralph), Captain Belor de Velland (Peter M), Carlos de Mamushi (Joe W), Professor Kit Fisable (Helen W), Sebastian (Joff)
Mission Brief: As the armies of Rebecca De Courci approach the White City, several loyalists are contacted by her agents with a mission - the assassination of Marius.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: Marius is dead, and went on a mutated rampage before he died. Given this, he was repudiated by the Light, and by many of his former supporters (many of whom are given to believing that he was always a monster in disguise). Naturally, however, there are many who believe he was unjustly slain, and that his corruption was as a result of evil magics used upon him by the party.
Rebecca offers an amnesty to members of the Exalted Church of the Light and of the Shining Order who lay down arms - most do so. Some people higher in the echelons of the Church disappear shortly afterwards, and are replaced by known supporters of the doctrine of the Light Indivisible.
Calm of sorts returns to the streets of the White City... but who knows the long-term effects the revolution, short-lived though it was, may have. And let us not forget, the increasingly unpopular True Servants of the Light still run crossroads.
Blades & Feathers
Part one of the "Shattered States" campaign, a sequel to "Raindrops & Roses".
Run by Helen W & Chris N on 11th March 2006 (Saturday 8th week, Hilary term)
There is a gallery of photographs from this game available here, taken by Helen W, hosted by Chris N.
Players: Adi (Jessie), Eldron Haderas (Andrew P), Lord Fal-Kar De Almedia (Rich), Lecturer Neara Therapainas (Helen L), "Roland the Long-Winded" aka Erskine Uskglass (Matt H), Paulo (Tom)
Mission Brief: Strange portents have been seen in the Southern skies. Mad prophets have come from the North bringing dire and frustratingly non-specific warnings of doom. The Port of Glass has closed its gates, and merchants say that without a pass-port from Silvestre D'Artois, nobody gets through. The rumours say that the revolutionary fever which so recently infected the White City and Crossroads has been caught by the South; the Broken Guard, its forces severely depleted by operations in the Garden Lands and Southern islands, is barely keeping order in the streets of the Port. Despite all this, Duke Lemuel's state visit to the government of the True Servants of the Light in the City of Crossroads is supposedly still going ahead, to the mystification of politicians and diplomats. Meanwhile, the favoured D'Artois son, Emmanuel, is in the front lines of the assault on the pirates in the Southern Isles, while his mentor, the renowned sorcerer Thaddeus de Verlay, remains in the Port...
Some adventurers are hired by plausibly deniable agents based in the White City for a covert mission to head South and orchestrate a duel between Emmanuel D'Artois and his half-brother Niske, who has in his possession an artefact of some power which might be able to overcome Emmanuel's famed swordsmanship. Discretion is the order of the day, since neither the party's employers nor Niske can afford to be seen to back the revolution. The party will be expected to travel South, enter the Port, find Niske and escort him to the Islands so that he can duel with Emmanuel, preferably then bringing him back alive.
Original Plot Document (.rtf file)
Duke Lemuel's announcement (.jpg file), after the adventure, of a week of mourning for his son Emmanuel.
Adventure Summary: A group of adventurers are called together at a quiet pub in the scholars' district of the White City by a nondescript man who introduces himself as a "patriotic citizen". He explains that he is part of a group of like-minded patriotic citizens who are concerned about the current unrest in the Port of Glass, and who would like it to end as well as possible for the White City - that is, with Lemuel D'Artois deposed. To this end, the group of patriots have been sounding out Niske D'Artois, Lemuel's duellist son, who has a great many friends among the officer corps of the Broken Guard; these friends might be willing to help bring about a revolution, but want a display of capability first. Niske also wants something, but his goal is rather more personal - he wants a chance to duel and kill Emmanuel D'Artois, Lemuel's favoured son and Niske's long-term rival. Niske has also somehow come into possession of a sword known as the Breaker of Broken Blades, which might be able to compensate for the effects of Emmanuel's own arcane glass sword. The adventurers' mission, therefore, is to travel discreetly to the Port of Glass, find Niske, and escort him to the Breathing Isles, where Emmanuel is currently involved in the war against the pirates lead by Inigo Roberts. The party will have to be cautious entering the Port, since the main gates are currently closed against all those who do not have a pass-port from the office of Silvestre D'Artois, and the roads South are infested by Broken Guard and mercenaries; their best route might be to approach the Port by sea.
The party accept their mission, after some discreet questions about pecuniary recompense. The "patriotic citizen" encourages Lord Fal-Kar, who has contacts with various trading operations between the Southern coast and the Breathing Isles, to sort out transport to the Isles himself, although he does allow that there is a ship in the dock at the Port called the Youthful Indiscretion which might be sympathetic to the party's cause if they are unable to use the De Almedia operation. The party enquire about weather conditions in the South, having heard that the Maiden of Tempests' influence is being felt along the coast, and are advised to visit the Temple of Storms on their way out of the city. The party leave the inn, taking with them a few free Purification potions and a final warning that to allow Niske to duel Emmanuel head-on, without any sorcerous aid or trickery, might be very unwise, since Emmanuel's skill as a fighter is almost unmatched.
At the Temple of Storms, the party are met by Josiah Coronado, the High Priest of the Prince of Storms. He is a large, blustering man who seems very enthusiastic and rather rushed; the entire Temple of Storms, indeed, is in something of an uproar, dealing as it is with the Maiden's chaotic influence. Coronado tells them that the weather conditions in the South are currently atrocious, and that they should be careful on the crossing to the Isles; he might be able to help them on the journey over, but can't guarantee anything.
The party set out South from the White City, planning to avoid the Garden Lands and make directly for a small De Almedia-controlled smuggling port on the coast in the outskirts of the Great Forest. They meet some Weavers with a small herd of giant spiders, who are peaceful and polite to Lord Fal-Kar once he introduces himself as a De Almedia, and give them some information on a group of bandits who have been harassing local travellers. The party take a short diversion to find these bandits, with Roland - whose irises are entirely white - occasionally sniffing the Western wind and muttering about being able to smell "them". On the way to the bandits' encampment, the party are ambushed by a group of drunken and belligerent Satyrs, who burst from the trees to attack them, are fought off and then flee; Fal-Kar and Roland carefully administer the Last Rites, Roland claiming to be a Priest of the Princess of Stories, while Neara removes one of a corpse's defining organs for use as a cudgel. Further down the road, they come across the bandits, with whom there is a lengthy exchange of demands to "stand and deliver" before the first shot is fired and the party attack. They stun one, leaving him alive for interrogation; he claims to have important information concerning an agent of Three Rivers who passed through the Forest not long ago, but the party discover he's lying and kill him.
Soon, the heroes reach the De Almedia trading port, which proves to be a hive of scum and villainy. Captain Bellman, of the Flexible Demeanour, is certainly willing to take Lord Fal-Kar and his party on board, but manages to convince them that his rigging is in urgent need of repair, and will require twenty Hexa to fix the damage. The party pay up, re-stock their supplies, and converse with the dockhands and sailors, many of whom seem far more intent on the content of their pouches than their conversation. One rather dubious gentleman in particular seems very intent on Roland, who at first avoids his attentions but later has a private conversation with him, in which it emerges that they are both secretly followers of the Rattle-Prince. On board ship and on the way to the Port, Roland arranges with this priest to have one of the sailors who tried to pickpocket him poisoned, but Paolo uses his Blood Sorcery to cure her. Neara and the boatswain occupy their time with continually picking one another's pockets, including once during a dalliance in the boatswain's cabin.
Docking in the Port, Captain Bellman exchanges a few words and a quiet purse with the customs officers, then leaves the adventurers to deal with their own entry into the city themselves. Since Fal-Kar's last visit to the Port ended with his stealing Duke Lemuel's fiancé, he elects to stay on board the ship and keep his head down while the rest of the party go ashore. Neara, who has been teaching at Thaddeus de Verlay's academy for several months, is well on her way to talking their way past the customs officers when one of them notices Paolo's bleeding eyes; there is almost a serious problem, but some fast-talking from several different party members at once eventually convinces the guards that they should be let past and into the city. Roland helps the party greatly by dropping into a worryingly natural Port of Glass accent, for which he offers no further explanation.
Once in the Port, the party make for the Twin Lions, the pub where they have been told Niske habitually drinks. Their way passes first through Laughing Hill, where they pick up on the local gossip and narrowly manage to avoid a serious argument with some drunken nobles. The atmosphere is somewhat tense, with the few Broken Guard on the streets feeling seriously outnumbered and more inclined to attack first and ask questions later; the upper classes, however, are convinced that the rioting commoners can't possibly prove any threat to them, and are more intent on debauching, arguing philosophy and hunting in the Glass Wood than dealing with the situation. Moving onwards, the adventurers find themselves passing along the Avenue of Faiths, where something of a religious "debate" is in progress. Neara's plan to "pick a subject and start ranting" almost succeeds in getting the party peacefully through the Avenue, but suddenly all hell breaks loose when a young and nervous Priest of the Burned Lords feels excessively threatened by a pair of heretic Light sorcerers and Calls Forth the Ashen Cloud. The party scatter, Roland escaping the confusion by flying straight upwards until he finds himself outside the Cloud; however, realising that some thirty feet above the Port of Glass and rising is perhaps not the healthiest place to be from the point of view of casually-aimed crossbows or Storms of Shards, he quickly sets down outside the Cloud. There is a great deal more confusion, during which the pair of Broken Guard trying to keep order in the Avenue are killed and the party are forced to fight their way to safety.
Moving onwards, the party find themselves at the Sign of the Twin Lions, where Neara recognises the bartender, Tom, as one of her old... "friends". Niske is not only there, he's drinking the bar dry and being exceedingly loud and boisterous. He appears to be plagued by a multitude of small glass rodents, the result of his Blessing by both High Priests of the King in Fragments, which are disturbing him excessively. He drunkenly greets the party, and explains to them - after some time and confusion - that he no longer has any desire to fight Emmanuel; he thinks that any duel would be no true test of skill, but rather a test of the power of the two swords, which Niske has no respect for. The party do their best to convince Niske that he should go along with them, even taking such extreme measures as bribing Tom to replace his drink with a non-alcoholic replica and subtly using Blood sorcery to remove the alcohol from his blood in an effort to sober him up, but he is utterly resistant. Finally, the party give up, having obtained from him the Breaker of Broken Blades and the promise that if they bring back Emmanuel's sword - intact - they will receive two hundred shiny Hexa from him.
Without much further drama, the party return to the Flexible Demeanour and set sail. The weather worsens as they draw into the open ocean, and some begin to hear a strange singing sound on the wind, as of a woman chanting. As the storm comes up, Eldron, Paolo, Neara and Adi flee belowdecks to wait out the howling winds, while Fal-Kar flies up to the crow's nest to chant into the storm - where he finds the priest from earlier, also chanting - and Roland stands at the stern, laughing and praying. The influence of the Maiden of Tempests becomes increasingly obvious as the storm grows wilder and wilder, and although Roland makes some effort to calm the storm, its strength redoubles and soon the ship is in imminent danger of capsizing. Fal-Kar, meanwhile, is praying to the Maiden of Tempests, and hearing her voice whispering in his ear encouraging him to whip the storm up to even greater proportions. His companions try to call to him, to convince him to cease adding his power to the storm, but he is oblivious to all except the Maiden. Just when all seems lost, Roland prays to the Rattle-Prince to aid him; there is a bright flash of lightning, throwing the priest in the crows' nest to the deck and almost causing Fal-Kar to fall to the waves before he uses his sorcery to hover to safety.
Before the sailors or their passengers can recover, there is a second flash of lightning; as their eyes clear, they see a figure standing at the prow of the ship, next to Roland. The figure is revealed to be Josiah Coronado, the High Priest of the Prince of Storms, and as he speaks the air immediately around the ship begins to clear; the waves and winds calm as if the ship has just sailed into the eye of a hurricane. Immediately outside, the storm still rages, but for a small area around the ship all is calm. Josiah Coronado seems to speak in several voices at once - some maintain a sorcerous chant, while another speaks to the adventurers. Roland recognises the speaking voice as identical to that of his god, the Rattle-Prince, but reveals nothing. "Josiah" explains that while he is able to call a wind strong enough to get the ship safely through the Maiden's tempest, he is caught up in other matters and would rather the adventurers dealt with the situation themselves. Therefore, he offers to call up a Tempest and then to hand the spell over to Roland, who will maintain the chant he gives him until the ship reaches the Isles. The Tempest should be strong enough to counteract the Maiden's storm; of course, if Roland lets the chant drop, the ship will be ripped to pieces. The adventurers accept "Josiah"'s offer, and one of the voices which Josiah speaks in splits off from him, to begin speaking in Roland's ear; it repeats a chant in an ancient language, Vertens vertensque in dilatante vertice. Roland takes up the chant and control over the Rattle-Prince's storm; Josiah disappears in another flash of lightning, which throws Fal-Kar over the side - but not into the water; by the time his companions look for him, he has disappeared.
The ship gains speed as it re-enters the storm, and Roland bravely keeps up the chant as his companions desperately search for Lord Fal-Kar. The storm whips up around the ship as strong as before, but with "Josiah"'s newfound wind protecting them, the ship begins to fairly skim over waves that should capsize it. The lightning, however, is just as vicious as before, if not more so, and soon the ship is beset by the Maiden's Cloud-Runners, trying to reach Roland and distract him from his chant. The party and sailors fight off the creatures, who appear weakened somewhat by the Rattle-Prince's Tempest, and eventually the ship coasts safely into harbour on the Breathing Isles, having made the journey faster than would ever be possible under normal circumstances. Roland, exhausted by the effort of maintaining the chant, nearly collapses, while his companions try and work out what to do about Fal-Kar - and more importantly, what to do about the Breaker of Broken Blades, which he was carrying. Just as they are beginning to consider extreme methods, with Neara praying to the Prince of Storms and receiving only a curt response that the Prince is exceedingly busy and has no time for such petty mortal concerns, there is a sound of something falling from the sky and a loud thump on the sand. Once the plume of dust clears, the party discover Lord Fal-Kar De Almedia on the beach, lying on his back, exhausted, windblown and without his trousers. He has apparently spent the last several hours, between his disappearance and the ship's arrival at the Breathing Isle, in the company of the Princess - no longer the Maiden - of Tempests.
After pulling themselves together, and finding some spare trousers for Lord De Almedia, the adventurers start along the coast road to Frith Bay, where they have heard Emmanuel is leading the fight against Inigo Roberts' pirates. A short way along the road, they find a battlefield, strewn with the bodies of slain pirates. Roland, trained as an exorcist, can see the ghosts of the dead pirates still haunting their corpses, obviously furious at their murderers. The spirits attack the party as soon as they see them, and though they do their best to fight them off, Neara and Fal-Kar are possessed. They turn suddenly aggressive towards the rest of the party, who use a combination of fast talking and swift blows to the head to placate them. Roland manages to exorcise the spirit possessing Fal-Kar, but is exhausted by the mental battle and must rest for a night to regain his strength. For the first time during the mission, his companions sleep near him; they are all plagued by hideous nightmares of Glass, and none of them rest well. In the morning, Roland exorcises Neara and the party move on.
Further up the coast road, they run into a small squad of Broken Guard, who are immediately hostile and attack them, assuming that they are mercenaries hired by Inigo Roberts. The party swiftly dispatch the Guard, the Wind sorcerers discovering that, as expected, their sorcery is more effective than usual on the Breathing Isle. The adventurers steal the guardsmen's uniforms, although discovering that there are not enough undamaged tabards to go around, have Fal-Kar manacled and disguised as a prisoner. This subterfuge makes their lives rather easier when, somewhat further up the road, they run across a rather larger detachment of Broken Guard, including a pair of archers and a local guide from the faction of pirates allied to the De Almedias and hostile to Inigo Roberts' crews. Roland claims to be Captain Lucien de Verlay, the leader of his squad, who have been recently seconded from the Garden Lands following heavy fighting. They obtain further information on Emmanuel's location, and manage to convince the Broken Guard captain to hand over the local guide to help them find their way to Frith Bay.
Having discovered that the pirates with whom his Family have an alliance are working with the Port forces, Fal-Kar wishes to speak with the Pirate King before going after Emmanuel. Considering that the King might have some idea of how to best defeat Emmanuel, his fellow adventurers agree, and they convince the guide - who still believes them to be Broken Guard officers - to take them to the Pirate King. The guide leads them on a road skirting the edges of Frith Bay, along which they travel for some time, before - in the late afternoon - they meet a young man dressed in fencing breeches and shirt, carrying a superbly fine sword and main-gauche at his waist and toying with a yellow rose. Recognising the individual as the Rose Prince of the South, the party pay him proper respect; he tells them that he's aware they are there to fight Emmanuel, and that he desires the matter to be settled with a fair and honourable duel - no sorcery, no trickery, and no use of either Emmanuel's supernatural sword nor Niske's. The party try and negotiate, and receive an assurance that if Emmanuel breaks the terms of the duel first, the Rose-Prince might intervene.
Paying their respects, they move on up the coast-road, where they discover a pile of broken shards and a dead body. Cautiously investigating the body, they find some money, a letter of commission from Commandante Iarendo, and a strange pendant, made out of glass, in the shape of a human figure. Paolo, carefully using gloved hands, takes the pendant, wraps it in cloth and places it in his pouch for investigation later. Moving onwards, the party run into a nest of scorpions the size of men on the dunes. These creatures hiss and move to attack, oozing poison from their fist-sized stings. The adventurers fight them off, discovering that Fal-Kar's and Roland's Wind sorcery has little effect on the tireless beasts, but that Adi and Paolo can dispatch them most effectively with Blood sorcery - most of their strength comes from their tough outer carapaces. The party escape the scorpions with only minor injuries, but their guide, unfortunately, is killed in the fight, the party reaching him too late to heal him. They give him the Last Rites and move on in the direction of the Pirate King's encampment.
Unfortunately, before the party can reach the Pirate King, they are surprised by the squad of Broken Guard under the command of Emmanuel D'Artois. Recognising Fal-Kar, Emmanuel assumes that he desires a rematch after their last meeting; Fal-Kar agrees, and the adventurers drop the pretence of being Broken Guard. The Rose Prince of the South reappears, demanding that both duellists use mundane swords and hand over their sorcerous artefacts to him; after some deliberation, both nobles agree. Fal-Kar's companions and the Broken Guard form a circle, and the duel begins; although he fights bravely, Fal-Kar is eventually defeated by Emmanuel, who uses an underhanded trick to disarm him. One of Emmanuel's aides heals Fal-Kar, while the soldiers move to arrest the adventurers; Roland grabs Neara and Adi and uses Wind sorcery to flee, while Eldron and Paolo valiantly try to fight a rearguard action. Fal-Kar, meanwhile, is regaining consciousness to find himself lightly guarded; he quickly bolts a strength potion, subdues his guard, and takes to the air, swiftly locating Emmanuel and striking him down with righteous bolts of lighting. Fal-Kar takes up Emmanuel's sword as he lands, using it to perform the Last Rites on the dying noble, who spits defiance at the Almedia even with his dying breath.
Collecting his battered comrades Eldron and Paolo, Fal-Kar takes to the skies once again, where he meets Roland, who has risked the possibility of being seen and shot down to look for his companion. They hurry back to the ship before the island can be raised against them, and have a worryingly quiet journey back to the Port of Glass. Emmanuel's sword is duly returned to Niske, who pays them and seems satisfied at proof of his half-brother's death. On their return to the White City, the adventurers are briefly accosted by Josiah Coronado, who apologises for not being able to help them in the South before rushing off on more important Temple business; as the party look bemusedly at each other, trying to work out what's happened, they discover Roland missing from among their ranks. The "patriotic citizen" who hired them seems pleased with their work, and pays them the agreed amount; Neara and Adi report back to the College, where their various faculties seem pleased with their work; and Fal-Kar begins constructing a temple to the newly-deflowered Princess of Tempests, with the support of his family and local cultists.
Adventure Consequences: The charred, vitrified body of Emmanuel D'Artois is brought back to the Port on Commandante Iarendo's flagship. A grand state funeral procession is led by Duke Lemuel and Thaddeus de Verlay, Emmanuel's sometime mentor. After some brief and messy political infighting between the two High Priests of the King in Fragments, the Last Rites are ceremonially administered (again) by the Port's High Priest of the Burned Lords, as the nearest available neutral party. Lemuel declares a week of mourning, whose provisions are largely ignored in the general chaos the Port is rapidly plunging into.
Thaddeus de Verlay is rumoured to be offering rewards beyond the wildest dreams of avarice for anyone who can bring him Emmanuel's killer. Lemuel, meanwhile, has apparently been becoming more and more withdrawn and uncaring about events within his own city, and with this latest event has vertices ceased holding public audiences entirely. He is still planning a state visit to the City of Crossroads with the now very definitely and visibly pregnant Duchess Caroline.
Roland the Insulting Epithet has been given the Rattle-Prince's personal Tempest-chant ("Vertens vertensque in dilatante vertice").
The Maiden of Tempests is now no longer the Maiden, but rather the Princess. Her loss of maidenhead does not seem to have improved her temper at all, and she continues to capsize ships in the Southern oceans with wild abandon.
Lord Fal-Kar De Almedia is no longer ordained to the Princes of Breath in general, but rather to the Princess of Tempests in particular, having been solely responsible for her change in nomenclature. Along with various sympathetic individuals within the White City, and with some financial help from his Family, he begins the construction of a Temple to the Princess of Tempests within the White City; the construction is beset with sabotage attempts in the form of "practical jokes" from some of the younger and more enthusiastic acolytes from the Temple of Storms, and slightly more serious arson attempts from those few in the Temple of Ashes who follow the Lord of the House of Gods, but nothing that seriously impedes the new temple's construction.
The scorpion stings which the party looted can be sold for five Hexa each to a reputable alchemist, or converted into poisons by a slightly less reputable one for one Hexa per sting or the chance to study one sample. Various members of the party also have Broken Guard tabards, which are easy to fake and therefore have no monetary value to speak of. One of them also has a letter signed by Commandante Iarendo D'Artois, declaring the bearer to be an acting captain in the Broken Guard for the duration of the war in the Isles, which could probably be sold to the right source at around twenty Hexa if they really felt like giving up such an excessively useful document. Paolo has Tobias Estefanza's Gribbly Splinter-Men Thing.
Finally, the Port of Glass is coming closer and closer to all-out revolution. The people are increasingly losing respect and fear for Lemuel's rule, and with the Broken Guard heavily depleted by operations in the Garden Lands and Breathing Isles, the usual mechanisms for keeping order are crumbling. The loyalists' morale has been severely damaged by Emmanuel's death, and those Broken Guard officers friendly with Niske have been persuaded that the "patriotic citizens" masterminding the revolution are competent enough to secretly throw their support behind.
Season of Shards
Part one of the "Broken Gardener" campaign, a sequel to "Bill, The Bodach & The Broken Guard".
Run by Matt H & James W on 18th March 2006 (a Saturday in the vernal vacation)
There is a gallery of photographs from this game available here, taken by Dom, hosted by Chris N.
Players: Abelard Velasquez (Rich), Captain Belor de Velland (Peter M), Dr. Edward Holtz (Joe W), Selena Curiana (Vicky), Stephano De Courci (Julian)
Mission Brief: Selena Curiana and
minions friends head East in search of a shard of the King in Fragments and the world's greatest alchemist.
Pillars of smoke rise from the remains of the City of Crossroads. The former trading capital of the Eastern Plains is riven by battles between a dozen factions, as the fanatic followers of the departed Marius lose control and those they have repressed turn to rage and anarchy. Refugees spill out onto the plains, preyed upon by monsters of all shapes. But some of them reach a new home, in a sea of tents and wagons pulled together on the plains: the City of Four Winds.
Grown up around what was once the township of Haverford, the City of Four Winds is swollen beyond recognition by those who have fled from Crossroads. Largely lawless, this is the place to find the dispossessed traders and merchants of Crossroads, and many others besides. Recently, the first trading caravan has arrived from the Eastern Kingdoms...
In the lands beyond Four Winds and Crossroads, the Twelve Tribes of the East guard the dark secret of their people, as they have for centuries...
And in the far East, a tyrant whose name has yet to trouble the White City celebrates the latest acquisition of his kingdom.
Adventure Summary: The party visit the City of Four Winds to gather supplies and information. After talking to the refugees from the old Invisible College (now calling themselves "The Burned College") they discover the world's greatest alchemist, Ilya Repin, has left for the Eastern Kingdoms already. They also hear rumours of a cursed Thirteenth Tribe, kept hidden by the other tribes, and decide to investigate further. Everyone advises them they should stick to the caravan route. They ignore this, and instead decide to cross the uncrossable Waste of the Rose. They gather a large number of servants to take with them (to keep Belor well-fed!) and a Cold Water tribesman as a guide.
Skirting around the edge of Crossroads territory they encounter a Light priest with two young orphans, being pursued by rather more violent and angry Light priests. They leap to his aid, with Selena looking after the youngest orphan whilst the others butcher the fanatics. Then Selena re-animates the corpses of the fanatics and give them the baby, telling them to take it to Four Winds and protect it. The zombies shuffle off...
They then encounter a minor D'Artois and a minor Cristofori running a slave train between Crossroads and the Tribals. The party chat for a while, noble-to-noble, then slaughter the slavers and free the slaves.
The party now start to move into the area controlled by the Twelve (or Thirteen?) Tribes. Specifically Cold Water territory. Sadly the party don't know that the Cold Water really don't want people to meet the Thirteenth Tribe, and the party's guide is leading them into an ambush. Which almost goes as planned, except Selena has a Mysterious Premonition Of Doom.
After slaughtering the ambush, Selena is visited by the sender of the premonition - Cecille the Fangirl. Cecille is a Dream sorcerer and Necromancer who thinks Selena is the Coolest Person Ever. And begs her for help in keeping control of the Cold Water tribe, which she's taken over Wormtongue-style. Selena is unimpressed, and refuses to detour to help. Poor Cecille.
So the party carries on into the area forbidden to outsiders, the domain of the Thirteenth Tribe, the N'Cora. The N'Cora village they get to is fairly nondescript for a large tribal village, except for two things. Firstly the aura of maddening regrets that pervades the air, and secondly the screams of an almost fifty-year-old man going insane. Chatting to Kha'rham Wise One reveals that the tribe is cursed by the presence of a shard of the King In Fragments, which possesses members of the village as they turn fifty and feeds off their regrets (whilst turning them into Glass-infested madmen who are kept in a nearby cave). A ritual is planned - one of the servants' lives will be used to restore the youth of the elders, meaning the Shard will be forced to leave them. The party go to the cave, and begin the ritual. The cave is dark and filled with the moans, cries and screams of the tribal elders. Who approach the party, and start hurling Glass sorcery at them as the ritual reaches its peak. So Stephano calls up a nice big storm to drive them off. The ritual complete, the elders all collapse, and the Shard appears in the air. Belor, showing more bravery than wisdom, lunges for it... and enters psychic combat with all of the reflected regrets of the tribal elders, at the same time. Holtz and Selena use their skills at exorcism to leap in to save him, and together they defeat the regrets and forge the Sword of the Shard of Regrets.
Kha'rham now sets the warriors of the N'Cora onto the party, trying to get the Shard for himself. A massacre ensues, and finally the party leave the N'Cora village devastated, burning to the ground with all of the warriors dead as the civilians flee in terror.
The party now enter the Waste of the Rose, the gigantic desert that blocks all direct routes East. A few weeks in they are attacked by dried-out undead, The Desiccated. These are the people who died when the Waste of the Rose was created, sun-dried corpses with blackened skin and bright white teeth. They prove impossible to kill until re-hydrated.
They head onwards into the blistering heat of the desert. And meet two gods, the Lord of Sand & Stone and the Rose Princess of the East. The Rose Princess is insane, cutting herself with glass and acting friendly to Selena, mourning the loss of her child (which Stephano, grovelling lots, says he will recover) and mentioning that she created the whole Waste, when she decided to hate the Kingdom that used to be hers. She points the way to the Wasted City, the former capital of the kingdom.
The party decide not to visit the Wasted City, and press on across the inhospitable desert. On the far edge of it they are surprised to encounter serpentmen - dark red skinned serpentmen who say they are the children of Palistrata, Bride of the Evening. These attempt to sacrifice the party to Palistrata, but sadly fail. Strangely, anything touched by them later starts to age, crumble and wither...
At last, the party arrive at the Port of Sands. This somewhat chaotic city is filled with exotic sights, smells and languages. Also, lots of soldiers wearing lots of different coats of arms. Much Investigation Commences. Holtz discovers some of the languages seem to share some roots with the Oldest Tongues. Stephano discovers that Wind worshippers, along with Blood worshippers, are regarded as idiot peasants. The others learn that the city is ruled by The Governor (whose soldiers are displaying arms with a tower over waters) but that the real power in the area is The King Who Waits (his arms consisting of red and black ravens counter-charged with a golden crown above), who lives in the City of Lights and rules the nearest Kingdom. Ilya Repin is being held by the King Who Waits in his mansion in the port. They also learn that religion is very much for peasants and foreigners (although Light, Ash, Chain and Name sorcery are all practiced in their unordained forms), but that Vitriarch worship is getting quite popular and the Port of Glass has established relations. The party are invited to take part in a Glass Ritual by a local noble called Baron Lee (they decline), and are then approached by Waldo (in a crystal vessel). Who is rather surprised to see them (the Port of Glass wanted to keep it secret), but offers them a rapid boat back to the Port of Glass.
The party decide to go get Ilya Repin and then take up Waldo's offer. The party head to the King Who Waits' heavily guarded mansion, and succeed in getting Holtz infiltrated inside (by offering him up as a gift to the King). They then wait for the guard to change, and Selena steals the guard captain's visage. They gain entry, and go to the alchemists' quarters. Plotting ensues. They eventually decide to use Stephano's ability to fly to get Ilya away to safety, whilst the others will try to break out by first killing the guard sorcerer and then fighting off the men. Selena calls up the sorcerer, and Commends her to Ash - but not before the sorcerer uses Name sorcery to Name Selena "Traitor". All sorts of chaos breaks out, and a chase through the city ensues with the party being pursued by guards from The Governor and from The King Who Waits. They make it to the docks, leap onto Waldo's boat, and escape as fast as possible.
Their journey back to the Gardens is reasonably trouble-free, except for a few pirates and a party of adventurers from the White City, led by Tulius De Almedia, who are intent on bringing Selena to justice (but are slaughtered).
Adventure Consequences: Selena Curiana has successfully retrieved a shard of the King in Fragments and forged it into a sword blade; she has made a hilt from the wood of a burnt tree. The sword has been dosed with a mythically powerful anti-Ash potion. With this combination, Selena now stands on the brink of the Broken Gardens.
Ilya Repin, the world's greatest alchemist, has been retrieved from the East. After a brief stay in the increasingly anarchic Port of Glass, he is removed by Doctor Edward Holtz and Abelard Velasquez. He is taken to a secluded Velasquez estate, where he prepares a mixture that transforms Abelard's hand into living diamond (without the Shard Knife fused in). He is then taken to the White City and introduced into the College of the Thousand Arts.
A group of ten shambling zombies turns up in the City of Four Winds. While the citizens panic, they evict some traders from a caravan and put together an extremely crude cradle, in which they place a frightened but apparently completely alive human baby they were carrying with them. Shortly afterwards, the City Watch put the zombies down. The baby is taken off by Captain Antimonius Holden of the City Watch, apparently for adoption. Further news of the child may be sought by those who will. An explanation for this incident has yet to be received by the authorities.
Selena Curiana has been Named Traitor. She is obliged to betray one loyalty, and has chosen the Never Queen. She has lost her ordination to that deity, and is regarded with enmity by the Vitriarch.
Fire & Ice
Part two of the "Broken Gardener" campaign, a sequel to "Prince of Winters", "Everybody Dies!", "Reflections Of Ruins" and "Bill, The Bodach & The Broken Guard".
Run by Matt H & James W on 25th March 2006 (a Saturday in the vernal vacation)
There is a gallery of photographs from this game available here, taken by Jen, hosted by Chris N.
Players: Adanemoay (Xan), Lord Belric Luxfrey (James F), Brynna Mortivelli - RIP (Helen W), Harriet Pinter (Ellie), Allie Carpenter (NPC)(Helen W)
Mission Brief: Rumours of the growing madness of the Lord of the Gardens come to a head. From the White City stride a party of brave adventurers, determined to recreate the Coldfire in order to purge the Glass from the Lord of the Gardens. Their plan: to go to the North and obtain the coldest thing in the world from the Frost Prince, then to go to the West and obtain dragonfire. The one snag: Selena Curiana has recently left the Port of Glass, heading East, on a similar mission with quite the opposite intent...
Original Plot Document (.rtf)
Automatic drawing (.jpg)
Adventure Summary: The worshippers of the Lord of the Gardens are divided on the issue of the Broken Gardener - some say there is no change, others that there is change that needs to be stopped, and still others that there is change and it is good.
The second faction contains Brynna Mortivelli, who has been doing some research with Harriet Pinter into ways to deal with the problem. Their research suggests that the Cold Fire may be able to burn out the impurities in the Lord of the Gardens. Brynna's alchemical knowledge suggests that mixing something Really Cold from the Frost Prince with something Really Hot from a dragon may be the way forward. Barameus the God-King or Lethryses the Venomous Maiden seem to be good choices of dragons.
Harriet contacts Adanemoay for help, who in turn contacts Lord Belric Luxfrey. The night before they set out, Adanemoay has a vision of a tree with a starling taking leaves off whilst a spider tries to stick them back on. He wakes up to find that he's drawn a detailed sketch of it in his sleep, and the group examine it, realising that the tree is actually a map of the White City and its surrounding area.
The party head to the Temple of Ashes and meet the head of the "let's do something" faction of the followers of the Lord of the Gardens, Malick Cinderbrand. He gives them some financial aid and a Rose of the Gardens and they head North.
As the party approach the small village of Shackleford, they notice it is being attacked by zombies! They charge in with an Ashen Cloud, and quickly kill the undead. A ranger (Gilbert Green) sneaks away during the fighting. The villagers thank them and appeal for help against the repeated zombie raids. The party reply that they're in too much of a hurry and recommend that the villagers instead go to the White City and fetch help from the Temple of Ashes, and press on North leaving the villagers defenseless. Harriet feels a bit bad about this...
Soon afterwards the party meet a Zephyr sent by William Freezemarrow. It tells them that Freezemarrow is the High Priest of the Frost Prince, and that the Frost Prince was spurned by someone called Tithona. He now wants her hand - not her hand in marriage, just her hand. Tithona is sheltering in the village called Winters.
The party head to Winters. On the way, they have to pass near a dam made of human bones, which is inhabited by giant beavers. The party approach, and the beavers swarm all over them, dividing the party and pulling Brynna under. Belric charges toward Brynna to try and save her, but gets dragged into a long fight during which time Brynna dies. Once the beavers are finally repulsed, Harriet tearfully gives Brynna the Last Rites and recovers the notes and potions from her belt. The party move on to Winters.
They get to the village to find the inhabitants in a wonderful mood, taking interesting drugs and/or singing songs about beavers. The party members get rather miserable and withdrawn. They meet a mercenary, Allie, who has been stuck in the village for a while and is looking to get out. They explain the situation to her, and a plan is devised. After everyone is asleep Harriet casts an Ashen Cloud and they break into Tithona's hut, chop off her hand and run. Allie puts it in a pouch on her belt.
They now reach the main part of the River of Shadows, luckily in a fordable part. The Shadows see their regrets, and fall upon them, even those of them who don't have any regrets of their own. The party push through, and get far enough away that the Shadows can't pursue.
Finally, they get to The Whistful City. Belric gets advice from Adanemoay about an armourer, and also visits his brother Solric. The others meet Slumbering Peg, a Dream sorcerer who says she could send them to the Frost Prince through Dream if the party did a task for her. After some discussion the party decide to take the more reliable route and set off North.
They meet a detachment of the Black Sword of Hope, who block their path. Harriet tries to talk them round but fails, so the party instead circumvent them using Adanemoay's knowledge of the North. They press on up the frozen Peak of the Hawk, fighting their way through lots of Snow-Riders on the way.
On the top plateau they meet Freezemarrow. They give him the hand. He thanks them "for bringing me the hand of Tithona De Courci" and he gives them a sphere of black ice in a box. He then summons the Frost Prince to give him the hand. The Frost Prince is rather annoyed he's been summoned - he was getting close to Kit Fisable and now has to start again! So he blasts Freezemarrow into charred bits with lightning bolts and then departs. Meanwhile the party reels from the information that Tithona was a De Courci...
Adanemoay gives Freezemarrow's remains the Last Rites and the party go down the mountain and head towards Barameus' city, going straight through the depths of the Great Forest. This takes them through a swamp filled with giant frogs and slugs, who they hurry past, fighting briefly. They then pass through the ruins of an ancient, previously undiscovered city which is infested by giant ants that cause severe damage on the party. They then pass around a group of Black Flame cultists burning people alive as sacrifices in wicker men.
The travellers arrive at the City of Dragonspawn. Two serpentmen escort the group to the presence of Barameus God-King. Barameus tells them to kneel and affirm he is the True God-King - Belric does it willingly, Allie does it without too many problems, whilst Harriet and Adanemoay do it hesitantly and with reservations. He then asks what they want. The party proceed to ask for a small sample of his flame to make a new substance, which they call "Barameus' Fire". The name pleases him, as does the idea of the White City being told that the Lord of the Gardens was saved by his efforts. But not enough. He demands entertainment - a fight to the death between two champions.
Adanemoay says he'll do it. Harriet prays to the Burned Lords to help him, while Belric and Adanemoay call on the Light to give him its blessing. He starts glowing. A vicious duel ensues. The Dragonspawn Champion is skilled and dangerous and heavily armoured, and they trade blows fairly evenly (with Adanemoay's glow giving him a slight advantage as it distracts the serpentman a bit). Finally limbs start flying - Adanemoay cuts off one of his opponent's legs, at the cost of losing large amounts of blood from all of his own limbs. Adanemoay is eventually completely disabled, but refuses to surrender and starts Raising the Light, whilst the Champion drags himself over towards him and finishes him off. Barameus laughs, and reaches down to scoop up Adanemoay in a claw, swallowing him whole.
Barameus then agrees to give them some of his flame, and breathes on the ice-ball. The ball erupts into a blue flame, making Harriet drop the box. Harriet then takes a torch and thrusts it into the Cold Fire (or rather "Barameus' Fire"), giving the party what they require. Barameus keeps the rest. Harriet and Allie start to back respectfully away. Meanwhile Belric gets to his feet, mutters a blessing on his halberd, and starts to resolutely march down the hall towards Barameus. Harriet and Allie notice, and together drag him away from Certain Death.
Outside the city the party duck as a huge shape glides overhead. A mighty burp is heard and the sound of something falling - which ends as Adanemoay lands on the ground in front of them (apparently eating someone whilst they're Raising the Light is bad for the digestion). A few healing potions later and Adanemoay is fine, though sticky and without his armour or weapons. The party head on to the City of Silk to re-stock, then press straight across the Forest directly towards the Three Gardens.
Going directly across the Great Forest involves going through Redbridge, a village consumed by Glass. Here they battle through Glass-infested briars whilst being psychically attacked by the souls of the dead villagers. They then fight past some of the Things That Get You When You Stray Off The Path, which were originally busy trying to fight the briars. They make it through Redbridge, having to fight off the attacks and Glass magic of some of the changed and maddened inhabitants before they can make their escape. The party then hurry on towards the Gardens, fighting off a group of insane Ash worshippers following the Broken Gardener on the way.
The Horror In The Garden
Part three of the "Broken Gardener" campaign, a sequel to "Season of Shards" and "Fire & Ice".
Run by Matt H & James W on 1st April 2006 (a Saturday in the vernal vacation)
There is a gallery of photographs from this game available here, taken by Matt H, Ralph & Ellie, hosted by Chris N.
Players: Lieutenant Ambriel Chermes (Helen W), Selena Curiana (Vicky), Stephano De Courci (Julian)
Mission Brief: Selena attempts to complete the corruption of the Burned Lord known as the Lord of the Gardens into a new Vitriarch.
Speculative plot document for Ash party (.rtf)
Following the many tribulations of both her expedition and that of the Temple of Ashes, Selena Curiana has arrived in the Broken Garden with a lead of several days. Abelard Velasquez, Dr. Edward Holtz, and Belor de Velland have departed to escort Ilya Repin to the Velasquez estate and then the White City, possibly glad to be removed from whatever Selena has planned next. In the White City, though, scheming Port of Glass diplomat Bernado D'Artois is removing the Lemuel loyalists from the Embassy in preparation for the coming coup. Lieutenant Ambriel Chermes is sent south to render Selena 'whatever aid she may require', and makes contact with Selena and Stephano De Courci on the brink of the Broken Garden. The three begin the search for the Lord of Gardens/the Broken Gardener. As they walk through the Garden, they encounter various perils, including glass-infested Ashen Guardians, undead Broken Guard, and madness-inducing butterflies. A group of glass-and-black flame cultists following the Word of Selena meet the group and offer assistance; as well as some fresh water, the party accepts a curious artifact - a black humming bird sealed in a large jar, around which a slight breeze can be felt. Selena and Stephano are able to identify it as an item that will let wind magic work at full power in the Burned Realm - very useful! A little too useful, some might think...
Now drawing close to the Lord of Gardens, the party meet their antitheses - creatures of the Broken Gardener, these embody each party member, granted power by becoming what they hate the most. Selena meets a Light sorcerer remarkably similar to Carmina; Stephano a noble who has given up his rank to serve the Burned Lords; and Ambriel a version of herself who has acknowledged her supernatural powers and is now a dribbly priest of the King in Fragments. After some angst and argument, the antitheses are defeated. Soon after, the party find the Lord of Gardens, writhing in pain in a fallen tree as the Garden rots around him. Selena strides forward, and as the Burned Lord snarls, pleads and threatens her, she plunges the sword of the Shard of Regrets, dosed with the ultimate ant-Ash potion into him. With a scream, the Lord of Gardens breaks, shattering into a million fragments, from which two forms emerge. One is the Lord of Gardens of old, but now much diminished and horribly wounded. The other is the pure Broken Gardener. The Lord of Gardens opens a gate to the Burned Realm and runs through, leaving a trail of ashen blood. The Broken Gardener laughs, and laughs, and laughs, then flies into thousands of razor sharp pieces. Simultaneously, glass begins to rain down onto the Broken Garden. The party rush through the gate into the Burned Realm, partially to escape the glass and partly to pursue the Lord of Gardens, and are immediately assaulted by Ashen Guardians.
Once they have time to get their bearings, the party notice that the trail of the Lord's blood lead off towards a garden, apparently of white roses. The map of the Burned Realm held by Selena indicates that there are four such gardens in the realm of the Lord of Gardens. These are the Gardens, of White Roses, for those who died by love, red roses, for those who died by perfidy, black roses, for those who died by folly, and grey roses for those who died by age. The party follow the trail to the Garden of White Roses. At the edge of the Garden, they encounter a group of small winged humanoids, and apparently the insubstantial form of the glass-and-black flame cult leader, who claims to have found a way to manifest there to deliver them an important message. Between him, and the taunts of the winged creatures (who claim to be 'Gardeners'), they discover news of some importance to Stephano and Selena. Selena's father, Sacchos, is held prisoner on the bank of the nearby River of Follies by someone called the Gardener of Follies, while Stephano's sister dwells in the nearby Garden of White Roses. With all haste, the party proceed to the River of Follies. They find the Gardener of Follies, a powerful spirit of the dead who watches over the Garden of Black Roses, torturing Sacchos with glass shards in retribution for Selena's actions. A hard battle is fought, in which the party barely defeat the Gardener of Follies, and rescue Sacchos. Selena's father is pleased with her, but disapproves of her glass sorcery and asks her to confirm that the stories he was told about her corrupting the Burned Realm are untrue. She assures him that they are, and that she will give up glass sorcery, lying with ease born of years working with the Merry Band of Bastards. With Sacchos, the party travel to the Garden of White Roses, where they meet Stephano's sister Olivia. Around her, gardeners dressed in glassy reflections are playing out her story; she was forced to give in to the unnatural advances of her (and Stephano's) father, and shortly afterwards found herself to be pregnant. Her mother convinced her that she had corrupted her father and shamed the family; but Olivia's main concern was that she had betrayed Stephano and let him down. To protect his reputation she killed herself, and the child, for the love of Stephano, and ended up in the Garden of White Roses. Here too is the child...
The party swiftly dispatch the mime-acting gardeners, and Stephano promises to lead Olivia home. Now with both Sacchos and Olivia in tow, the party find the Lord of Gardens' trail again in the Garden, and set off in pursuit. They pass through various perils, including a mass assault by the enraged gardeners and some spirits of people who Selena had helped to kill, and the Gardeners of White Roses, the spirits of a young couple who died for the love of each other. Sacchos' exorcist talents come in useful. Finally, they track down the remains of the Lord of Gardens, lying in pain at the boundary between the Gardens of White and of Red Roses. Battle commences, with the party hurt and confused by the Lord's copious Ash magic. The roses of the perfidious garden come to life to defend their Lord, lashing the party in the back with their thorns. Finally, though, the Lord of Gardens falls. With that, the ground begins to crack and crumble, with glass splinters forcing their way to the surface, as the Perfidious Garden begins to collapse into the Shattered Plain. Selena begins the ritual to open the gate out of the Burned Realm, while hordes of splinter men explode from the ground, held off by Ambriel and Stephano. Eventually the gate is opened and the party escape. Ambriel is horribly wounded and slowly vitrifying; Stephano flies her to a nearby village with all speed, fortunately finding such a village in the nick of time. Dosed with a purification potion, Ambriel recovers consciousness just in time to see the apparent arrival of the Rose Princess of the West, a curious sight indeed this far east. She demands the jar with the hummingbird from Stephano, who gladly surrenders it, receiving in return her blessing. Stephano is well pleased until the following morning it emerges that a black rose for death-by-folly has grown in his hair, and the tattoo of the snake and skull has appeared in his arm. He has been blessed by the Rattle Prince in disguise, and now some of the oddities of the last few days begin to make sense: the Rattle cc Prince has somehow interfered with Selena's mission...
Adventure Consequences: The Lord of the Gardens is now permanently (and perhaps irrevocably) broken; what little remained as the Lord of the Gardens is now slain, and only the Vitriarch, the Broken Gardener, remains. Upon the destruction of the Lord of the Gardens, the Perfidious Garden (red roses, those who died by treachery) and the Garden of Black Roses (those who died by folly) collapse into the Shattered Plain. Within days of this happening, the image of groves of red and black vitrified roses begins to crop up in the ramblings of those subject to visions of the Shattered Plain.
Many of those dead by treachery and folly are sucked into the Shattered Plain at this time. Efforts by others in the Burned Realm (including various Burned Lords) succeed in snatching several such spirits from the jaws of Glass; but many more are trapped in the Broken Gardener's shattered realm. For the moment, those dying by treachery and folly (and subject to the Last Rites, etc.) largely go to the Burned Realm, where they wander until taken under the wing of one of the remaining Burned Lords. However, it also emerges over the next few months that in a few cases the Last Rites despatch a few such dead to the Shattered Plain. Needless to say, this is the cause of some panic. Where the Gardens of Black and of Red Roses once lay, there is now just blank Ash.
The Gardens of White and of Grey Roses seem to have stayed in the Burned Realm, and the dead by love and age are still secure in that realm. In particular, the Garden of Grey Roses and the dead by age are watched over by a new Burned Lord: the Lord of Grey Roses.
As far as the world of the White City is concerned, the first signal of these events is an hour long rain of glass over the Broken Garden. Simultaneously, many Bodach and several priests of the Lord of the Gardens are stricken instantly insane. Following this, the Broken Garden changes and vitrifies still further, becoming akin to the glass woods of the Port of Glass (although it seems to owe no particular loyalty to the Port or to Lemuel D'Artois, being every bit as hostile to the Port's people as it is to everyone else). The other two Gardens remain unbroken, but the remaining Bodach there become even more insular and protective, either honouring the Lord of Grey Roses or forever mourning the Lord of the Gardens.
Within days, big changes overcome the Temple of Ashes in the White City. Control of the Shrine of the Lord of the Gardens is seized by a man named Porostock Talmer, following the sudden deaths of several of his rivals, who immediately proclaims the rebirth of the Lord as the Broken Gardener, and officially dedicates the priesthood to honouring the new Vitriarch. That very night, forces acting for the rest of the Temple of Ashes burn the Shrine of the Broken Gardener and butcher as many of his new priests as possible. Those who escape flee the city, many later turning up in the Port of Glass to set up a temple to the Broken Gardener under Talmer. A few individuals can still be found in the world who claim to be priests of the Lord of the Gardens; whether they realise it or not, these individuals have switched their ordinations either to the Lord of the Faithful or to the Burned Lords in general, although they still preach the parable of their vanished lord.
Over the next few years, tales spread that the Rattle Prince was seen in the Burned Realm at the time that the Lord of Gardens was destroyed. No-one knows exactly what, if anything, to make of this; certainly, it is the first known instance of one of the Powers other than the Burned Lords travelling to the Burned Realm, while living, outside of the most ancient legends.
Within a few months of the destruction of the Lord of Gardens, the first visions and sightings are reported of a new Burned Lord; the Lord of Grey Roses. It seems that the ancient spirit that watched over the Garden of Grey Roses while the Lord of Gardens lived has achieved apotheosis, and now watches over those who die by age. The Temple of Ashes soon confirms the existence of this new Burned Lord; presumably a shrine and priesthood will arise in due course. To outside observers, the new Lord appears somewhat weaker and much more inexperienced than the rest of the pantheon.
Sacchos (Selena's father) and Olivia De Courci (Stephano's sister) have been brought back from the Burned Realm. Neither is precisely alive; they are cold to the touch, have no pulse, and do not breathe. These corporeal dead are believed to have bodies of Ash that will, over a period of years, crumble if they are kept away from the Burned Realm. Restoring the individuals to full life will require some mythic questing; probably the blessing/consent/help of a Prince of Breath and an Old Power.
The Temple of Ashes seems to have some idea who was involved with the death of the Lord of the Gardens. As a result, certain recommendations have been sent to the White City authorities, and the reward on the head of Selena Curiana has been raised to five thousand Hexa - equal to that on the head of the Necromancer of Three Rivers.
Also, Stephano De Courci has been Condemned By Ash for his role in proceedings. He will never die, although he still ages and can still be wounded. He is hated by the Temple of Ashes and all its supporters. Rumours rapidly spread, partially as a result of Stephano's scheming and partly from a mysterious second source, that the Temple's enmity is not the result of a genuine Condemnation, but is a political issue. Entirely non-coincidentally, Stephano now owes Rebecca De Courci an almost infinite number of favours. The issue is sufficiently confused that the Exalted Church of the Light is unable to publicly condemn him, but is unofficially convinced that he is an abomination. Stephano can expect hostility from ordained Ash priests and members of the Shining Order and the Exalted Church at every turn, but is still able to live in the White City... for now.
Stephano now has the blessing of the Rattle Prince. This takes the form of a tattoo of the Prince's skull and snake, and a black rose (for death by folly) in his hair.
Ambriel Chermes has been promoted to Captain of the Broken Guard, and told to never, ever mention this to anybody.
Selena possesses a sword made from the Shard of Regrets, a part of the King in Fragments. This is a bastard sword whose touch maddens the mind of creatures whose flesh it strikes and which may also have other powers.
Grey Ford Anniversary
Organised by Helen W on 10th April 2006 (a Monday evening in the vernal vacation)
Event Brief: This was an IC social event held in the Port Mahon pub on St. Clement's to provide an evening of plot-light freeform roleplaying. IC it was a party held in the Black Griffin tavern to celebrate the anniversary of the battle at Grey Ford, the last battle in the war between the Port of Glass and the White City some forty-three years ago. Traditionally, people meet up and celebrate the anniversary of peace in various pubs.
Event Summary: pending.
Blood In The Streets
Part two of the "Shattered States" campaign, a sequel to "Blades & Feathers".
Run by Helen W, Joe W & Chris N on 15th April 2006 (a Saturday in the vernal vacation)
There is a gallery of photographs from this game available here, taken by Helen W, hosted by Chris N.
Players: Adi (Jessie), Clare Shelton (Emma L), Rupert Locke (James W)
Mission Brief: Karl D'Artois is looking for some capable people to run a few errands for him in the Port of Glass in order to aid the revolution and the overthrow of Lemuel's regent, Silvestre D'Artois.
"Smoke from burning buildings clouds the sky over the Port of Glass. The Broken Guard, with their numbers depleted and morale falling, are slipping to desertion or fanaticism. Along with his wife Caroline and High Priestess Rose, Lemuel D'Artois has left on a state visit to Crossroads, and there are those who say he has no intention of returning. His regent, Silvestre, seems to be losing his grip. The great rabble-rouser Engel Karlsson has been arrested for treason, but the common people have already caught his fervour. Revolutionaries and rioters clog the streets, and nobody yet knows which side Commandante Iarendo and the Port's navy will declare for. And on the edge of Laughing Hill, a quiet tavern called the Joyous Raven has closed to the public - behind its heavily-guarded doors, Karl and Niske D'Artois are masterminding the revolution..."
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: The Port of Glass has been tipped over the edge from confusion into full revolution. Following the regent Silvestre's erratic behaviour, including a massive clampdown on the grey drugs market and excessively high duties on legal drugs, the people of the Port finally lost their fear of the establishment and rioted. The Broken Guard remaining in the city split into two factions: Those loyal to Lemuel and his regent Silvestre, and those preferring to report to the popular (though not entirely sober) Lord Niske. During the riots, several unexpected events occurred, including in no particular order:
- The seasonally clement weather was interrupted by a small but intense localised blizzard over the Avenue of Faiths. Under cover of the snowstorm, the temple of the King in Fragments suffered an arson attempt and has been partially destroyed. Arturo de Verlay, High Priest of the King, is nowhere to be found; Rose D'Artois, High Priestess, had already left the city with Lemuel's entourage. The priesthood is in chaos, with no clear successors yet emerging. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
- Two of the three shard-pits - those used for religious sacrifices by lot, and for the execution of criminals - in the Bazaar were choked with rubble and effectively destroyed. The third pit, into which votaries willingly throw themselves, suffered only minor damage.
- The customs-house at the docks was flooded following the failure of some of the subterranean sluice-gates. Sabotage is, of course, suspected.
- Engel Karlsson, the notorious revolutionary, was arrested and hunted through the Glass Wood before a daring rescue was effected by persons unknown, though there's a rumour of Thousand Arts involvement.
- Commandante Iarendo D'Artois, having withdrawn his fleet from the Isles in secret some weeks ago, sailed into the harbour flying the Octargent rather than Lemuel's coat of arms. His Broken Guard marines swiftly and brutally subdued the military in the city still loyal to Lemuel, and restored order (of a sort).
- Finally, with a great crowd gathered in the square in front of the Ducal Palace calling for Silvestre's blood, Karl D'Artois, his twin brother Niske, and Engel Karlsson emerged onto the balcony to display Silvestre's severed head to the masses. Niske and Karl declared themselves the Twin Dukes, and de facto rulers of the Port. The crowd barely had time to start cheering, however, before a lethal rain of glass shards started to pour from the otherwise clear skies.
- The Ducal Palace seems to have structurally rearranged itself, sealing all doors and windows except the front door with mirrors and twisting its architecture into new and even more interesting (and insane) shapes. None of those who were inside at the time the sky started raining glass have emerged (Karl, Niske, Karlsson and a few others on the balcony seem to have made it out in time).
- A small tavern just off the Plaza of Songs known as the Joyous Raven was burned to the ground. The landlord happened to find several hundred Hexa under his pillow just before the unfortunate event, and plans to open a new establishment somewhere a very long way away. Just as soon as the sky stops raining glass.
Part three of the "Shattered States" campaign, a sequel to "Blades & Feathers".
Run by Chris N & Helen W on 22nd April 2006 (Saturday 0th week, Trinity term)
There is a gallery of photographs from this game available here, taken by Joe d'Artois, hosted by Chris N.
Players: Captain "Ripper" Bill McKenzie (James W), Sir Carlos de Mamushi (Joe W), Carmina Curiana (Vicky), Brother Jara (Xan), Lord Sebastian de Fideli (Joff), Serafine D'Artois (Laura), Yana (Ellie)
Mission Brief: Serafine recruits some companions for an attempt to kidnap the wife of her father, Duke Lemuel, and use her as a hostage to blackmail him into renouncing the Vitriarchs. Then to try and kill him once he's reduced in power. (Note: This game took place at approximately the same IC time as Blood in the Streets, above.)
Original Plot Document (.rtf)
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: -The state visit from the Port arrives at Crossroads, without Lemuel, Rose or Caroline. The young diplomat now leading the escort claims it's an ambassadorial delegation and never included the Duke in the first place. This causes some confusion, however a) It's the Port of Glass, their politicians are expected to be a bit nuts and b) Crossroads isn't exactly in a state to care about diplomatic niceties at the moment.
-The rain of shards over the Port stops after three days. By the time it's safe to emerge onto the streets, the blizzard on the Avenue of Faiths has cleared up as well. The rain claimed the lives of a few unfortunates who couldn't make it to cover in time, but has probably had a net effect of saving lives in that it's quelled the riots. Karl and Niske resume their interrupted coup and declare themselves the Twin Dukes. Again.
-The Ducal Palace is still sealed, the windows have become as mirrors, and hideous screams and odd noises reverberate from the one door that's still passable. A heavy guard has been placed on the door, though nothing (including several heavily-armed adventuring parties who were sent in to find out what's happened) has yet come out of it. Karl and Niske have taken over the headquarters of the Broken Guard on the Plaza of Songs as a temporary administrative HQ.
-The cleanup and aftermath from the riots is helped by the aid of some volunteers from the Exalted Church of the Light in the White City, most of whom happen to be ex-Marius supporters who've recanted. Some of them stay behind and start constructing a Temple to the Light under the auspices of the Exalted Church. Karl and Niske tacitly approve, but can't officially condone this temple any more than they can the other three on the Avenue of Faiths (none of which are part of the Exalted Church, and two of which are clearly mad), because they don't like being set fire to.
-The higher-ranking priests of the Temple of the King in Fragments pause briefly from their vicious infighting to determine the new High Priest and Priestess, and smugly state that they're terribly sorry but they simply can't offer their blessing to anyone who doesn't have the Ducal signet ring. Their opinion still holds some significant weight with the plebiscite, who despite their dislike for the practice of ritual sacrifice have been worshipping the King for some three hundred years, and are rather habituated. Karl and Niske's rule won't be secure until they've got the signet; unfortunately, as far as anyone can tell, the thing is currently inside the Palace.
-The Embassy of the Port to the White City have been thrown into disarray over the course of the last few months, with savage political infighting (and occasional violence and defenestrations) between Lemuel loyalists and others. Once the news of events in the Port and to the East arrives, things calm down a bit, but there is a reshuffle. The new chief Ambassador to the White City is Bernardo D'Artois (distant descendant, Philippe D'Artois' father), who got the position by dint of being disliked by everyone in equal measure. The Embassy PCs - Ambriel, Shardface, Constantine and Bartholomew - are able to keep their positions without issue, as long as they publicly accept the sovereignty of the Twin Dukes. If any of those PCs wish to remain publicly loyal to Lemuel, there's a small and secretive but not utterly insignificant movement towards setting up a Regency-in-Exile for the Port in the White City, which the PCs can join; Rebecca de Courci's government is remaining as neutral as it can on the subject.
-Actually winning seems to have sobered Niske up somewhat, and while he's still very much the more popular, public face of the twins, he's starting to apply his strategic and military talents to the Port's administration. Karl seems to be dealing more with politicking, skulduggery and intelligence. As far as anyone can tell, spymaster Waldo has not noticed the change in administration.
-The politics of the Port continue much as before in terms of religious freedom and lax contraband laws. Nobody seems to want to tell the Priesthood of the King (currently also residing in temporary accommodation pending the rebuilding of their temple) that they're not the state religion any more, but then the Priesthood haven't officially acknowledged the new Dukes yet either. The practice of sacrificing citizens chosen by lot at the Shard-Pits has been officially discontinued (in no small part due to the destruction of two of the Pits), but the Temple of the King is probably still doing it on the quiet. The navy has withdrawn from the Breathing Isles, and the Dukes are apparently trying to negotiate some sort of ceasefire with Inigo Roberts.
-Thaddeus de Verlay has thrown his lot in with the Twin Dukes and claims to have been on their side all along, not unexpectedly. Other political players, major and minor, either choose the same course or quietly "disappear".
-Serafine has been blessed by Bill MacKenzie to have "All the Blood she Needs".
However, two further effects from the Blood Blessing will become apparent as time goes on: first, that Serafine no longer loses blood as a woman normally would during the monthly cycle. (If she thinks to have herself checked out by a Blood Sorcerer, however, she will discover that she is not infertile.) Second, Serafine's eyes begin to well with blood, which gradually covers and dissolves the shards of glass; her sight is not overly impeded during the process. Eventually, new eyes will begin to form in the sockets, replacing the glass; they are blood-red in colour, but otherwise normal. Experimentation with removing shards from her eye will reveal that shards kept away from her blood seem to be unaffected, which implies that the shard on the Shattered Plain is still whole.
-The Heart of Lemuel d'Artois has been Refined into physical nonexistence by a high-ranking Priest of the Temple of the Light. The spirit of the King in Fragments contained within the part may be assumed to be quietly possessing the priest, though this is not publicly known.
-The public story spread is that Lemuel has abdicated the Duchy, renounced the Vitriarchs and disappeared off East to start a new life with his wife and child. In addition, the Exalted Church has all the details of the events from Carmina's PoV, the Low Guard and Cloistered Brethren the same from Jara's and Yana's. Most people seem to be treating this story with a certain amount of suspicion, as it does seem a little unlikely that Lemuel would just leave with no fuss, and are worried that he's using this as part of some Terrible Villainous Plot [tm]. Speculation is rife as to whether or not he's also lost his power as a Sorcerer.
-Over the next five or six weeks rumours will begin to return to the city from merchant types who trade in the East that a well-organised and well-armed bandit force has begun preying on the larger and more lucrative caravans that ply the Eastern routes. Attempts to predict their raid pattern have failed. This group are particularly noticeable because they wear livery, which is very unusual among bandits. Their tabards are black and bear a silver bull's head as a device.
Run by Vicky & Ellie on 29th April 2006 (Saturday 1st week, Trinity term)
A sequel to "Engagement Party"
Players: Federico Velasquez (Joff), Philippe D'Artois (Andrew C), Ratrina De Almedia (Andrea), Rhiannon Slater (Ann), Paulo (Tom), the Hon. Arbella Luxfrey (James F), Adi (Jessie)
Mission Brief: It's the wedding of Federico Velasquez and Erica de Velland, and the White City minor nobility is mixing with a variety of other associates of Federico's. However Erica is noticeably late- and then a messenger bursts in with news that the temple she's been staying in has been attacked by Glass mages and she's been kidnapped! A group of the guests get armed and prepare to help Federico save his bride...
Adventure Summary: The party travel north, to the small rural Temple of the Princes of Breath where Erica had been preparing for the wedding. The clergy they meet are rather vague about what happened the night before, saying it's possible Erica left before the attack, that no-one was hurt, and that the pile of glass shards they found may not even be from glass magic. They give off a slightly dodgy air, and no-one really believes what they say. The party decide to move on quickly- but not before one of the priests blesses the mission.
Leaving the temple they are attacked by a group of wind spirits, and Federico takes a particular bashing. Cue party bitching about how fickle gods are, first blessing then attacking.
Travelling further north, a group of Velasquez retainers block the path. Federico goes forwards to talk to them, but it becomes apparent they've been sent to stop him rescuing Erica at any costs, as some in the family regard the marriage as inappropriate. As the guards try to subdue Federico, Phillippe Calls Forth The Ashen Cloud and leaps into action. When it disperses, the rest of the party join in and the guards are slaughtered. Arbella gets a bit too keen, and even kills the guards who surrender, ripping open their chests and tearing out their hearts.
Then they meet a group of Glass mages and their guards, who charge into battle shouting "For the Lake of Suicides!" Philippe is felled by Storms of Shards from the sorcerers and collapses, though is healed and escapes permanent injury. Inspecting the bodies afterwards, Philippe notes the glass amulets with the symbols of the Lord of the Lake of Suicides on, and is rightly troubled- is a second Ash god being corrupted by Glass? Philippe does the Last Rites, and then the party find themselves under psychic assault by the spirits of the Velasquez retainers (which the party forgot to Last Rite- Worst. Priests. Ever.) Half of the party fall under their sway, and launch themselves at Federico intent on subduing him and dragging him back to the city. The non-possessed win, but find themselves stuck- how to save their companions?
As luck would have it, an exorcist turns up at this point and offers to help them as long as they help him rescue his daughter. Federico agrees, and the exorcist drives out the spirits afflicting their companions. As they have the situation explained to them there is a general feeling of reluctance to help the exorcist- especially from Adi and Arbella who remember the last travelling companion they picked up in the North (see Infinite Dreams Part 1) and from Paulo who is just suspicious of random people you meet near the lands of the Necromancer. Federico over-rules this, pointing out that without the exorcist they would have been stuck. They press on towards the Whistful City, with the exorcist scouting ahead for them.
On the way to the city they pass through a village of very religious people who hail Federico as the Messiah and shower him with precious gems. Everyone is rather confused- who do they worship? How do they know Federico? These questions are sadly left unanswered...
Getting to the Whistful City they do the normal things: taking lots of drugs (Arbella), doing lots of fighting (Philippe) and eating lots of chocolate (everyone else).
They then carry on north, towards the cave the exorcist says his daughter was taken to. The cave is inhabited by deformed creatures that shun the light of day, and a large fight takes place at the cave entrance. Then the party fight their way in, only for the exorcist to betray them, re-animating the corpses of the dead creatures and running away! Philippe Calls Forth The Ashen Cloud and then chases the betrayer, leaving everyone else stumbling around in the Ashen Cloud for no reason. As it disperses a fight breaks out, as the party try to escape from the cave. They escape, just.
The party push on, crossing the River of Shadows and fighting through the spirits infesting it. They then encounter yet another helpless traveller trying to rescue a kidnapped girl. This time the party refuse to help.
Further on they find a large number of dead bodies, all of whom appear to have committed suicide using glass shards. As Philippe moves to begin Last Rites the spirits attack, possessing Ratrina and Adi. The two then attempt to commit suicide- the rest of the party subdue them. Philippe decides the best way to exorcise them is to perform Last Rites on them, which thankfully works.
They now approach the Peak of Regrets, and encounter a large number of visions of different versions of themselves or of their friends. They talk with these visions, and several of them end up doing rather rash things- Philippe is convinced that suicide would be a Good Idea, whilst Arbella is convinced to try and kill Adi for being evil and liking the Bound Ones (see Infinite Dreams Part 2). Arbella Binds Adi's Arms, then attacks her and leaves her bleeding to death. She then storms off and, despite being pursued by Federico ("Bind The Legs!" "Shatter Chains!" "Bugger!") and Ratrina, disappears off into the Northern Mountains alone to try and kill Innocence.
The party regroup and decide they have to abandon Arbella - the general consensus is that this isn't really a great loss. They then meet another set of visions, this time there are three different versions of Erica (each with a different father) all waiting for Federico to turn up and marry them. Eventually it turns violent, and the spirits are driven off. Finally the party get to the real Erica. She is lying on a bed of glass shards next to Andreas D'Artois, both bleeding to death. In between her and the party are a group of guards and a glass mage. The party try to push through and rescue Erica, but don't arrive in time to save her. Erica is dead. Federico collapses.
Adventure Consequences: Erica's body is returned to the city and taken through the proper funeral proceedings. A few days before the party's return word reaches the city that Ratrina De Almedia and Adi have died on a mission to the north. Embarrassingly, they both manage to turn up in the middle of their own wakes, Ratrina to tearful reunion with Sebastian. No one appears to be quite sure where the news that they had died came from. Future GMs may want to take note that the Lord of the Lake of Suicides now has - or thinks she has - a claim on their souls.
Rumours abound that a group of Velasquez retainers were sent to prevent Federico rescuing his bride but no one at least publicly seems to willing to point fingers. Privately mutterings are made that this was the work of Nerino, without the Duchess's consent, and if anything tensions increase between the two. In speaking with the Duchess Chiara it becomes apparent that she is equally as shocked and appalled as Federico. Nerino of course denies all knowledge of events.
It is also whispered in the city that Arbella Luxfrey is weak and cowardly and were it not for her Erica de Velland may have been saved.
Run by Matt H & James F on 6th May 2006 (Saturday 2nd week, Trinity term)
A sequel to "Cult Activity".
There is a gallery of photographs from this game available here, taken by various people including Tom, Jessie and Peter, hosted by Chris N.
Players: Captain Ambriel Chermes (Helen W), Carmina Curiana (Vicky), Diego (Joe W), Edwin Lunn (Andrew C), Don Inigo Montoya (Julian), Kratos (Rich)
Mission Brief: "In the eastern city of Crossroads, bloody civil war rages, as it has for many months past. The revolutionary Council of the Faithful has long lost control of the city. Since the death of the Prophet Marius the Council had behaved increasingly erratically and brutally, with summary executions, witchhunts for "Bound One cultists, necromancers, glass worshippers, and all other stains on the purity of the city", and the burning of temples of every faith not dedicated to the Light. Inevitably the other faiths soon began to fight back, and the city dissolved into blood. With the refugees, dark rumours reach the White City, rumours of false confessions extracted by torture and whole families burnt in their homes on the whim of the Council’s interrogators. Rumours also of the murderous lengths to which the followers of blood and wind will go to protect their faiths. In the taverns of the White City, the regulars shudder at the news from the East, and look askance at any passing in the robes of the Shining Order or the Exalted Church. How near was it to happening here...?
But in the City of Four Winds, the city of caravans built by the refugees from Crossroads, a new resolve is taking hold. An army is building, swelled by the ranks of the dispossessed and funded by the wealth of merchants returned from the Far East to find the city of their birth destroyed. Mercenary companies have been hired on, and a force of ‘volunteers’ from the White City is joining the people of Crossroads (the word is that the ‘volunteers’ have been mainly funded by the De Courci family and the Cloistered Brethren, but that shouldn't diminish the charitable gesture). The caravans and wagons of the City of Four Winds are stirring again, and the feeling is that it is time, at long last, to go home...
The head of the army of the City of Four Winds, General Holden, has discreetly let it be known that he requires the services of some adventurers. There is business to be taken care of in the burning city of Crossroads, it seems, before the people of Four Winds can march in and reclaim their home. Quiet business, that promises to be well paid. Any interested should enquire with all speed for General Holden at the sign of The Rose of the North, in the City of Four Winds."
Adventure Summary: Gathered at The Rose of the North are several members of the Port of Glass Embassy from the White City (sent to find out what happened to the diplomatic mission led by Marcel d’Eliste), several representatives of the Exalted Church (sent to cleanse the heresies springing up in the city) and several prominent adventurers from the City of Crossroads (who want order restored in their home city).
General Holden briefs them- they have three days to visit the heads of the three main factions in the city and get their agreement not to cause trouble when the Army of the Four Winds marches into the city. The three factions are: The Sane-But-Dodgy Restoration Council, a group of merchants, nobles, drugs barons and Mafiosi; The Bloodthirsty Old Power Worshippers led by Jharashta Bey; and of course the increasingly insane Council of the Faithful led by Dallanas, who now insists he should be called Marius.
The party head towards Crossroads, freeing some slaves from bandits (who were taking them to the New Tribals) on the way. They sneak into the city and stumble across a witch burning led by one of the increasingly deranged no-longer-ordained Light 'Priests' of the city. The three individuals being burnt are an Ash Priest of the Lord of the Lake of Suicides (being burnt for idolatry and death worship), an innocent girl (being burnt for whoring herself to Three Rivers and the Port of Glass), and a member of the Port of Glass diplomatic mission (being burnt for being a Glass Priest, even though he was just a lowly scribe). The party save the victims, and get valuable information from the Port of Glass diplomatic scribe- apparently Ambassador Marcel d’Eliste has embraced the Light, and handed over all the Port of Glass staff in the city to be burnt.
After a bit of 'discussion' over who gets to give Last Rites, the party decide to visit the Blood Worshippers. Moving into the part of the city controlled by them, they soon get attacked by a bunch of rowdy satyrs led by a blood mage. They kill them, then proceed through the sector, meeting some innocent civilians who give them directions.
This conversation is interrupted by the appearance of Marcel d'Eliste, accompanied by a horde of shambling Dead-Of-Glass (zombies studded with glass shards, each casting a single Eyes of Glass attack). Marcel d'Eliste has gone completely mad through combining Light and Glass magic, is sporting burnt out eyes filled with swirling glass shards, and is casting Shards of Particularly Shiny Glass. Captain Chermes springs into the attack, and eventually the hoard and ambassador are cut down, leaving Chermes free to kick the corpse repeatedly. A violent 'discussion' about Last Rites ensues.
Finally the party get to Jharashta Bey's headquarters in an old brewery. Here they find all the city's remaining Blood Priests. They try to talk them around to accepting the forthcoming army. Bey and the other followers of the Lady of Battles seem convinced by the idea of reinforcements for the fight against the Light Worshippers, whilst the followers of the Lord of Blood-fury led by a bloodthirsty chap called Relek don't want to have other people spoiling their fun. After some more discussion, it becomes clear Relek won't be talked down unless someone beats him in a fight (and that's impossible, he proudly declares). Don Inigo, as the Greatest Swordsman in the World, says that he could easily beat Relek. A vigorous debate about what the terms of the fight should be takes place- finally it's decided Relek should give up his magic, Don Inigo should give up one of his swords, Relek should get given some light armour, and it should be a fight to the death. After a long duel with the two seemingly finding it impossible to land a blow, Don Inigo finally starts getting through Relek's guard, and strikes him down. Blood mages rush in to heal the two, and Relek reluctantly concludes that Don Inigo did manage to beat him (but only by getting lucky). The Blood priests all agree to side with the army when it arrives and to do what they can to kill all the Light worshippers before then. They offer the party food, armour repair, and hospitality. The party has another 'discussion', about whether it would be better to stay at the temple or go to the Port of Glass embassy, and finally decide to stay.
The next day, the party head to the Restoration Council's sector. Soon after entering they meet a street gang, the Death Bitches, who claim to be defenders of the area and soldiers of the Restoration Council. They refuse entry to the 'Light pig', and demand a payment (for upkeep of important equipment) to enter the area. Diego takes them down an alley one at a time and kills them, whilst Chermes bribes them with a spliff. The gang insist the dead Death Bitches get given Last Rites by Kratos. Carmina Is Not Amused.
Heading on, they meet another group of civilians. These explain that they haven't eaten in ages and have no money, and try to be a bit threatening (but not very well). Carmina gives them some bread, Chermes gives them some money. This makes most of them happy, but one won't give in and demands they attack the Light pig. He steps forwards, and touches Chermes- who immediately finds herself in a psychic duel with a chainwraith. Chermes manages to drive it away. The loud individual collapses, and the civilians let the group pass.
They push on, and find the main Temple of Ash under attack by lots of mad Light worshippers. They give aid, and help drive off the attack. They get directions from the Ash priest to the Restoration Council's headquarters, in the remains of a merchant's manor.
At the Restoration Council HQ they find a diverse group, from merchants to nobles (including a cousin of Carlos de Mamushi) to underworld leaders. Their aims are broadly similar to the Army of Four Winds, although several of them argue that letting an army that has had financial backing from the White City and Cloistered Brethren take over their city is a Really Bad Idea, as it could turn them into a puppet state. One man in particular is very convincingly expressing this view. Suddenly, Edwin Lunn freezes, then starts agreeing with him, and saying that also the army shouldn't be negotiating with drugs barons and mafia members. Carmina also freezes, and then starts saying that the underworld is corrupt and instead they should be trying to get the Light worshippers on their side- heretics can be led back to the Light, but drugs barons and Glass worshippers are forever evil. Then Kratos freezes... But when he returns to normality, so does everyone else. It turns out a Chainwraith was possessing them all, but went too far in trying to possess Kratos. The member of the Council who was previously possessed begs the party to wipe out the Cult of Flaming Water, followers of Tears as Fire who had been unleashing Chainwraiths and trying to take over the city. A mafioso steps up, and says that if the party do this, they will throw their support behind General Holden's forces when they arrive.
The party heads to the manor of Ibram Zalach, ex-merchant and worshipper of Tears As Fire. A vicious battle takes place as cultists doing unarmed poisonous attacks launch themselves at the party, and Ibram backs them up by Making Anew and even by Making and Naming a Giant Ogre to help the attack! Carmina charges into combat with the Ogre, only to be struck down and to have Diego quite literally leap to her rescue and hack it down.
Now with the backing of the Restoration Council and the Old Powers, the party move on towards the Council of the Faithful's headquarters in the Old Council buildings. They find the area controlled by the Faithful to be very quiet- few people are left, and those that are tend to stay inside, hidden, for fear of being caught and burnt for whatever crimes come into the minds of the fanatics.
However on the steps of the Old Council buildings they find a robed figure, surrounded by large slightly transparent and flickering things that look a lot like nightmarish versions of soldiers of the Light. Don Inigo's knowledge of the Northern Mountains makes him realise these are dream-creatures, probably from the River of Shadows. The robed figure addresses them and says he is Borakar, a Dream sorcerer who had a vision of the Light That Casts Shadows and came to Crossroads. He sets his creatures on them, along with Shadowcats... The fight takes a long time, as the monsters seem fairly hard to hurt. Halfway through Borakar gets bored, and sets a particular nightmare on Carmina- a giant figure of Marius Corrupt. The others try to help her but their weapons pass straight through him, leaving her to fight him alone. He chops her down, and demands she accept his blessing, eventually forcing her into unconsciousness.
The party enter into the building, and fight through to the Council Chamber. Here they find the most dribbling mad individuals they've met yet- a child whore screaming Light propaganda in the hope she then won't get killed; a perpetual drunk everyone assumes is talking in tongues; previously-blessed-by-blindness people who've lost Sight-Beyond-Sight so now stumble round randomly; a follower of the Sloughbernian Heresy who they kill several times but keeps Forestalling The Pyre; a priest so consumed by loathing of what has become of the Revolution they've been blessed by the Broken Gardener; people who've put their eyes out with hot irons; and other total raving nutters. They push through towards the private chambers of 'Lord Marius'.
Here they find a group of soldiers of the Light, a Glass Sentinel that now glows with the Light, a huge swordsman who's obviously blind but swings his sword around randomly and devastatingly, and ex-High Priest Dallanas the Mad. Who's a figure of pure light, masked and insisting he is Lord Marius Returned. They charge... Kratos particularly aims for the Glass Sentinel, trying to remove the heresy of abusing a blessed creature of Glass by infecting it with Light. Eventually they cut everyone down, but they take quite a lot of damage in the process, including Diego being blasted by a Purge from 'Lord Marius' and falling dead, only to experience a Miraculous Recovery and returning to life. Which freaks everyone out, especially after seeing the Sloughbernian Light worshipper in the previous room.
They then hack Dallanas' head off, stride to the doors at the end of the chamber and step out onto the balcony. The crowd below looks up as the head sails over them, and Don Inigo Montoya proclaims "I, Don Inigo Montoya, Greatest Swordsman in the World, have saved you!" Cue cheers, applause and celebration.
The next day, Captain Chermes, Kratos and Edwin Lunn head to the Port of Glass Embassy, and cleanse it of Dead-of-Glass. Chermes burns the incriminating papers she finds, and then installs the scribe they found being burnt when they first arrived (and two of his fellow lowly diplomatic staff) as the new acting ambassador and embassy staff: "Here's the Ambassadorial Signet Ring. Don't open the door to anyone. Be polite to General Holden. Wait for the delegation to arrive. It might be a month or so."
Adventure Consequences: The Army of Four Winds, led by General Holden, arrive in the city to joyous acclaim from all of the inhabitants. A few of the Blood worshippers try to stir up a fight, but they are talked around to the idea of leaving the city to look for more fights elsewhere.
Gerran Bellart, a mercantile ex-commander of the Watchful, is installed as Governor with a Council of nobles and merchants (including some rather shadowy 'merchants' from the ex-Restoration Council, who hadn't previously had as much public standing in the city but who now have both political power and permits to trade whatever they like without hindrance) to advise him. Also sitting on the council is a representative of the Cloistered Brethren of Chains. The Cloistered Brethren soon establish a formidable force in the city, with a major watchhouse and a large political sway. They advise the Governor not to have representatives of any religion on the Council, and he agrees.
Religious freedom returns to the city, although the Church of the Light is flattened and has all official standing removed. Light Worship is not forbidden however, and a number of Light worshipping charitable organisations (prominently featuring Carmina Curiana) move in to help rebuild the harder hit areas of the city. They are distrusted, but their good work is recognised.
The plot of land previously belonging to the Church is sold to a mysterious visitor from the Eastern Kingdoms, Yu Shengzi, who builds a walled hayat which is used as a peaceful retreat and meeting place for diplomats, merchants, nobles and anyone seeking a private place to make deals that probably shouldn't be mentioned publicly. The Light worshippers mutter about it being a palace of iniquity and sin, but no-one cares.
The Port of Glass eventually sends a full diplomatic mission, following Captain Chermes' highly praised report on the situation.
No, Nay, Never
Run by Joe W & Andrew C on 13th May 2006 (Saturday 3rd week, Trinity term)
There is a gallery of photographs from this game available here, taken by Joff, hosted by Chris N.
Players: Captain Belor de Velland (Peter), Professor Kit Fisable (Helen W), Selena Curiana (Vicky), Abelard Velasquez (Rich), Paulo (Tom), Roland (Matt)
Mission Brief: The Merry Band of Bastards gathers itself, and some trusted hirelings, for one last quest. They intend to destroy the Never-Queen, but must first weaken her by seeking out and killing her cultists and priests. They also have some unfinished business with the Great Western Forest...
The three remaining members of Toquell Velasquez's Merry Band of Bastards have hatched a complex plan to destroy the Never- Queen. Following many months of research on Kit and Selena's parts, and the trading of important secrets (a hint about Belor's past, Selena's family's locations, and Kit's history as a poisoner) with the gossipmonger Alicia Fane, they hire a few trusted individuals - Lord Abelard Velasquez, Roland the Subtle and Paulo - and set out on the first stage of their plan: the destruction of the Never-Queen's cults. Kit and Selena believe that if enough of her worshippers are destroyed, she will be weakened sufficiently that a direct confrontation might be possible. Kit has also been using the library at Thousand Arts to research the uses of her Name and the chains within her, and suspects that if she can bind the Never-Queen's power by becoming the target of her lethal sorcery, she might be able to force her into a psychic duel.
First, the party begin clearing out cultists of the Never-Queen from the White City. Mostly this goes without incident, as the adventurers kick down doors and set fire to secret meeting-halls across the city, feeding the evidence to the Black Flame. There is a brief mishap early in the process where both Belor and Abelard are careless enough to meet the eyes of one of the sorcerers, leaving Paulo to defend the sorcerers alone; the two warriors recover, however, after a good kicking by their comrades and a severe upbraiding. The adventurers are discreet enough to keep their murderous campaign quiet, and helped by the fact that many of the Never-Queen's cultists are simply people of little consequence...
The adventurers depart the city for the Port of Glass, spreading the story that they are to investigate a rumoured sunken city out in the Mirror Sea, and keeping Selena's name well out of it. Belor, meanwhile, prepares his most trusted soldiers for an assault on the Port which is planned to follow later.
On the road to the Port, the adventurers meet a small group of bandits who attempt to rob them. Although most of the adventurers are laughing too hard to fight effectively, they are dispatched with little speed and their bodies fed to the Flame, which Kit and Selena can now summon at will.
As the party approach the Port, Kit and Selena take on different faces and Roland slips into a surprisingly convincing Port accent. They make their way through the city, following Alicia Fane's information, indiscriminately slaughtering the various priests and cultists of the Never-Queen they can hunt out. Kit and Roland, exercising a great deal of personal restraint, just about manage to stop themselves from killing various D'Artois and de Verlay nobles on sight. Eventually, with their bloody work done, they make for the Docks and attempt to charter a ship. Kit and Belor negotiate with the captain of a fast vessel, who appears remarkably lucid (though her first mate is drunk), while Roland, Paulo and Selena enjoy the local colour and Abelard investigates the local women. They discover that the weather is currently atrocious; the Prince of Storms and the Princess of Tempests are apparently fighting, causing hideous weather across the entire coast, and particularly around the Mirror Sea. Knowing that they'll be unable to find the sunken city, with its rumoured connection to the Never-Queen, without clear weather, Belor and Kit visit the temple of the Princess of Tempests and speak to the High Priest. They politely request to speak directly to the Goddess, offering the crew of the ship they intend to charter as a sacrifice; the High Priest's hair stands on end as he conveys the words of his Goddess, who says that she will meet them in the heart of the storm.
On their return to the docks, Belor and Kit find that Abelard has been enjoying the company of the local whores a little too enthusiastically, and has contracted the galloping knobrot. The assembled adventurers variously laugh at him, swear at him, and tell him he's lucky it didn't vitrify; eventually, he negotiates with Paulo for an exorbitantly expensive Blood Purification. The party board the ship, the warriors shedding heavy armour and Roland finding himself a space near the prow to sleep without his tainted blood affecting the others' dreams, and set off South. Selena begins composing a play based on the events, in addition to some truly atrocious poetry; Roland uses his skill at lying like a bastard to convince her he thinks they're very nice.
The first stage of the voyage is uneventful, though the weather begins bad and continues worse as they sail. Eventually, they find themselves sailing into a full storm, and the boat is attacked by Cloud-Runners. Great voices begin to echo from the heavens; Kit, Roland and Selena recognise one as the Princess of Tempests, and the other is assumed to be the Prince of Storms. The sailors hide belowdecks while the warriors polish off the Cloud-Runners, and Kit attempts to attract the Gods' attention by shouting into the storm. With flashes of lightning, the two Gods appear on the deck of the ship, still bickering. The adventurers are respectful but not subservient, and attempt to convince the Gods that they should either patch it up or at least give the local area a few days' calm weather. The crew, meanwhile, re-emerge on deck, and are both terrified and impressed by the appearance of the Gods, offering to throw their passengers overboard if necessary to appease the deities. The tricksters' various tactics only seem to infuriate the Gods further, and Belor and Kit are almost out of cons when Kit lights upon the idea of just telling the truth: that they are attempting to destroy the Never-Queen. For once, being honest pays off, and the Princes of Breath leave - still bickering, but under a rapidly clearing sky.
The ship reaches the Mirror Sea without further incident, and the crew are ordered to hold fast until the night of the full moon. That night, which is mercifully cloudless, the adventurers wait on deck as the moon rises. It almost seems as if they can see the image of a city in the moon's reflection on the water - and as it grows clearer, the waves seems to become unnaturally still... until they realise that there is a city below the moon's reflection, and the sea has turned to glass beneath the boat. One by one, the adventurers leap down to the surface of the glass sea and pass through, the glass shattering and reforming as they progress into the city.
They find themselves in a quiet, beautifully built city of ancient design, with a pale moon in the sky above, though no stars. They can hear a chinking, like glass, from nearby in the city, and form themselves up for battle. When they approach the source of the noise, however, they find nothing hostile - only people made entirely out of smooth glass, who greet them cordially and seem both sane and pleased to have visitors. Some seem inclined at first to distrust them, but as the citizens prove to be gentle scholars who offer them food and ask about the world above, the adventurers gingerly let their guards down. They discover that the scholars have been trapped in the city for some eight hundred years, ever since they made a deal with the Never-Queen - in exchange for immortality, they are trapped forever in the city and may never leave. They have amassed great knowledge and culture in that time, and have a library far greater than that of the Thousand Arts; with nothing to do but study and create for eight hundred years, their art, sorcery and scholarship is far more developed than anything the adventurers have seen before. They are polite and welcoming to the travellers, and listen to their tales about the world above and the Black Flame, while preparing a ritual to ensure they can leave freely at any time they desire. One of their leaders speaks of a great mirror that they keep, in which resides the creature of the Never-Queen which first turned them into the creatures of glass they are now, and offers them a choice: If they wish, they can remain in the city forever and live as one of the citizens - they will never die, but nor may they ever leave. Belor, Kit and Selena speak to the scholars about the mirror, the Queen and the city, and come to the conclusion that if they were to destroy the creature in the mirror, it would sever the city's bond with the Never-Queen and cause the deaths of the citizens; but that if they were to leave the city and kill the Never-Queen, these scholars could return from the city free of the taint of Glass, and share their knowledge with the world. Belor and Selena are firm in their decision, but Kit begins to lose her nerve as she realises that without the deaths of every man and woman in the city, the Never-Queen might remain too strong for their ritual. The others convince her to focus on their goal, but it is with terrible regret that she joins Selena at the city's great mirror, both preparing to use their skills as Exorcists to assault the Never-Queen's creature.
The fight is hard, and doubly so because the mirror reflects its assailants, providing two spirits to match the Glass sorcerers. Both are eventually defeated, and regain consciousness by the mirror just as their skin begins to turn to glass. Their companions force a Purification potion down Selena's throat, and a potion against Glass down Kit's, but these only provoke agony as their newly vitrifying bodies try to tear themselves apart, eventually rejecting the potions. The exhausted party use the ritual the scholars have provided to return to their ship, re-equip and recover, before preparing an assault on the city. The scholars barely defend themselves, crying out in confusion as they are cut down. The exorcists approach the mirror once more, and this time Kit tries alone, though all are aware that if she defeats the spirit, it might mean death for her and Selena. As she fights the spirit, it questions her about her life, what she has achieved and what her death would mean to the world. Kit answers mostly truthfully, though Selena is upset and angered by her words when she tells the creature that other than Belor, most who care for her are dead. Finally, as the spirit realises how many would be significantly affected if Kit were to die here, it drops its guard and demands she kill it. She obliges, and as she awakes in her body, the glass begins to peel off her and Selena's skin. They kill the last few citizens and leave the city. Belor and Paulo take Potions of Strength and portage the ship off the plain of glass that the Mirror Sea has become, to the consternation of the crew, who are promptly ordered to set sail for the Port. A little way off the coast, the three Bastards and their hirelings kill the crew and drain their blood into the water as a sacrifice to the Maiden, taking the ship's rowboat to return to shore.
The next stage of the plan involves passing through the Western Forest, which they approach cautiously, skirting the vitrified area around Redbridge. Their progress is relatively uneventful until they run into a large group of exceedingly tough canine creatures, which use Blood Sorcery to heal their wounds as they attack the adventurers. There is a long, bloody and scattered fight, during which Abelard's arm is severed and Kit's legs are reduced to bloody tangles of chain. Eventually, however, the creatures are defeated and Roland's sorcery used to heal Kit and Abelard, at which point Belor drinks the blood of their leader and promptly flies into a berserk rage, indiscriminately attacking his companions. His companions deck him in short order, then take turns kicking him until he comes round. He seems mostly recovered, as far as anyone can tell, so Selena and Kit occupy themselves with shouting at him until they get bored, then wander deeper into the Forest. As they approach the area where they think they can find the cultists of the Never-Queen, they hear a cawing and see clouds of ravens rising from the treetops. Among them is the Raven Whose Wings Are Night, who taunts them from the air until hails of Storms of Shards, crossbow bolts and Roland's flight bring him to the ground, bleeding; they cut Toquell's burning heart from him. Meanwhile, the ravens savage the party, which distract them enough Selena snatches the heart and runs. She's followed by Kit, but the necromancer's superior woodlore allow her to disappear into the forest without a trace, leaving the others alternately calling and cursing her. Meanwhile, the Raven, unnoticed, has begun to recover, and attempts to fly off until the party's quick reflexes and foul magics bring him down before he can clear the trees; when he falls, the party kick him until he's good and unconscious, then sit on him. Belor and Kit spread out the Raven's wings and stake him in sunlight to ensure he cannot rise again, and Kit summons the Black Flame to consume him.
Some time later, Selena returns with a Child of the Vine. This causes some perturbation for Roland and Kit, and Roland, under the thrall of his addiction to the creatures' blood, flies into a frenzy and tries to eat it. The party knock him unconscious, and demand that Selena explains herself; Belor speaks to her alone, and then takes Kit to one side. Eventually, it's revealed that Selena has placed the heart inside the Child of the Vine to keep it alive, since it needs blood to continue beating. Kit apologises to Selena for her earlier words, and the party find a wolf to use as a host for the heart, thinking it a more acceptable vessel than a Child of the Vine.
The party continue through the forest until they reach the wooden shack where the cultists of the Never-Queen meet. They storm the place, but not before Glass Towers are called forth behind them, disgorging hordes of Splinter-Men. Abelard is badly injured, and the fight is hard, but all are eventually killed. The evidence is once more given to the Flame, and the party find the forest suspiciously quiet as they approach the Seat of Thorns, where it is agreed that Kit will attempt to force the Forest to reveal the way to its Heart. Unwilling to use her Glass sorcery in case it damages the Forest more than necessary, Kit engages the Forest in a psychic duel, but falls after a hard fight. Seeing Kit fall from the Seat, Belor leaps to it before anyone can stop him and is similarly felled. Finally, Selena approaches, and shatters the Spirit of the Great Forest with Glass sorcery. As it falls, Kit and Belor awake and are filled with guilt self-loathing for the pain they inflicted on the Forest at the creation of the Black Flame; both attempt suicide, but are prevented by their comrades and knocked out. (Roland takes the opportunity to steal a sample of the Black Flame from the brand on Kit's forehead.) When Kit next comes round, tied and with her weapons gone, she tries to destroy her own mind instead, meeting Paulo's eyes and blasting him with Glass Sorcery, which knocks her unconscious once again and send him screaming into visions of the Shattered Plain. After some time, the Spirit's influence begins to fade, and - mentally battered, but alive - the group begins the trek to the Heart of the Forest. There, they give Toquell's heart to the ground where he lies, and a chain snakes up from the ground to pull it deep under the earth. As they leave the Forest, they notice the bodies of animals whose hearts appear to have burst lying here and there about the paths. The trees are ominously quiet.
Returning to the White City, Kit and Selena once again use sorcery to steal others' faces, while the others are sent on ahead. The two sorcerers track down Lydia De Courci, intending to kidnap her and turn her into a Crystal Vessel, thus providing a host for the Never-Queen which should weaken her even further, forcing her to manifest in a significant individual. They find Lydia in a bar, flirt with her outrageously, and eventually convince her to meet them outside the East gate the next day, spinning a tale of a great party thrown by worshippers of the Old Powers. Tracking her outside the city the next day, they dispatch the group of King Eric's Men who are following her with great ease, but severely underestimate her Low Guard minders - the Blood Sorcerers among them injure them sorely, and though Selena manages to escape and send word to Belor, Kit is captured and held. By noon, the spell which maintains her false appearance has worn off, and so it is that she finds herself unarmed, bound, blindfolded and with a sword at her throat, in the study of Carlos de Mamushi, captain of the Low Guard, some days later.
There is a brief pause while Kit tries to work out whether there is any possible lie great enough to talk her out of this situation, when help arrives in the form of Belor and Abelard. Belor has Carlos send his guards and Kit away, then begins to try and talk Carlos into releasing her, trying various excuses including Glass sorcery, cultists of the Bound Ones, and an attempt to pull rank as a High Captain of the High Guard. Carlos proves impervious, and Belor finally begins to threaten him physically, laying a hand on his shoulder; Carlos orders him to remove his hand, or he will break it. Belor doesn't. Carlos calmly drinks a strength potion, and tears Belor's arm into a bloody mess. Blind with pain, Belor snaps Carlos' neck, knocks Abelard unconscious to ensure no blame attaches to him, and orders his High Guard to march on the offices of the Low Guard. In the confusion, Belor and Kit escape, pausing briefly to collect a few maps of the East from Kit's rooms, and leave the city - never to return. Lydia has meanwhile been taken to Toquell's old estate; Kit, Belor and Abelard pause there, and Kit uses a Looking-Glass Hunter given to her by Adi to drag the noble's mind to the Shattered Plain, turning her into a Crystal Vessel. With Lydia drugged and hooded, the party flee East, pausing in Crossroads to pick up Roland, Paulo and a small boy of no significance, and make for the Waste of the Rose.
In the ancient ruined city, still filled with the desiccated corpses of those who died many hundred years ago, Selena begins a ritual to summon a vast army of undead. Roland, meanwhile, is set to keeping the winds calm to ensure that the defiled ash Selena has spread in patterns about the city remains where it is. Some of the unquiet spirits of the dead briefly bother the party, but with sufficient exorcism they are fought off. Finally, just as the ritual nears completion, a fiery gate opens from the Burned Realm and a horde of the corporeal dead from the Tower of Heroes begin to pour through, determined to stop the necromancer completing her ritual. These living dead are held off - with difficulty - for as long as it takes for Belor to take a potion of Strength and pull down the building where the Gate has been opened, trapping himself in the rubble in the process. Paulo and Abelard search through the rubble, and eventually find him, battered and bloodied but still alive. With the city secured, Selena completes the ritual and the dead begin to rise, corpses animated and marching through the streets of the ancient city in formations arranged by Abelard and Belor. With its commanders at its head, the army of undead begins the long march south-west, towards the Port of Glass.
At an utterly insignificant spot on the road, so deserted that every map of the area is blank, the army halts and the six companions retire a little way from the road. There, Belor, Kit and Selena begin the ritual that will - if they are not stopped - cause them to become the Never-Queen at noon. A Glass Tower is called forth, and Lydia is laid out before it. Soon, a splintering sound is heard from the Tower, and Glass Sentinels begin to emerge - they are destroyed by the hirelings, but Lydia's body remains still and quiet.
The sun reaches its zenith. The three hirelings are ordered to run, and flee from the scene.
Belor de Velland, Kit Fisable and Selena Curiana bind their hands together with a necklace of shards made from the vitrified corpse of a man who had lost everything he ever cared about. One by one, they renounce everything they have ever achieved or might ever achieved. As one, they step towards the Glass Tower.
Lydia De Courci's body rises from the ground, her eyes unearthly and shattered. The boy from Crossroads is ordered forward with a dagger, but the Never-Queen blasts him aside with Glass Sorcery. Kit meets the Never-Queen's eyes, and binds her Power. Will against will, Kit still weakened from the Forest's attempt to destroy her, the scholar and the God strive against one another - and the Queen is finally defeated. As chains begin to burst from the earth to claim her, the three summon the Flame and reach down to consume her - but the Black Flame will not catch. The Never-Queen is still not fully within their power. Knowing there is nothing else to do, they step past the Queen's body and into the Glass Tower to meet their end.
Suddenly, a burst of Black Flame rises behind them, and as they look back the Never-Queen is gone without a trace. The tower begins to shatter around them, and they flee from it, hardly able to believe they're still alive. They call the hirelings back, and Belor places the necklace of shards about his neck; the splinters burrow under his flesh. The army of undead marches on the Port of Glass.
Within the Port, the city's own Splinter-Men defenders turn upon the citizenry and the Broken Guard at Lord de Velland's command. Roland and Kit slip through the streets, finding and killing those they once knew in the Port, and particularly D'Artois nobles. Abelard and Paulo lead the charge of undead, while Selena ensures that her minions follow Belor's orders. Finally, in the streets of Laughing Hill, the vanguard of the army is met by a force of Broken Guard led by Karl and Niske D'Artois. Belor demands their surrender, and Niske challenges him to single combat - Kit, meanwhile, attempts to fell Karl with Glass sorcery, but is blasted off her feet by the backlash from his father's legacy, shattered blood. Niske and Belor fight a hard duel in the centre of the melee that follows, and Karl flees into the streets once he realises his Broken Guard have no chance against the Merry Band of Bastards. Belor finally kills Niske, feeding his body to the Black Flame and declaring himself Lord-Protector of the Port of Glass.
Adventure Consequences: The Never-Queen is dead, her shattered spirit consumed by the Black Flame. Her passing from the world goes almost unremarked upon, a mere footnote in history.
In stark comparison to this, the White City is in turmoil as word of events in the South reach its gates. High Captain Belor de Velland has turned traitor to the city, allied with the infamous necromancer Selena Curiana and taken the Port of Glass with an undead army of unprecedented size. Worse still many members of the High Guard have turned coat with their High Captain and there are rumours that the Low Guard have been thrown into turmoil by the murder of their Captain. Publicly loud speeches are made denouncing the traitors to the city, while in private hurried correspondences are dispatched to relatives now the Port.
In the College of The Thousand Arts, many of Kit Fisable's students are cornered and interrogated by stern men flashing Low Guard badges. The Chief Professor's quarters are ransacked and her faculties up-ended in a whirlwind of official activity.
Many of the same students later receive similar questions from assorted unsavoury types in the employ of King Eric, and more than a few are left dying in dark alleys having proved insufficiently cooperative.
Over the next few weeks the situation clarifies as more reliable reports reach the city.
Belor has established complete control over the Port; having survived the ravages of the first few days of the conquest those few remaining members of the Port's nobility who have not fled begin to come forward and bend the knee. Belor declares himself Lord Protector of the Port of Glass and Flame and turns control of the city into the hands of his newly formed Obsidian Guard. Abelard Velasquez stands as the Burning Captain of the guard, with several other ex High Guard officers also taking up positions of rank.
Large districts of the city are set ablaze and then consumed as waves of Black Flame scourge the ground leaving only barren earth behind.
Most of the Port's citizens escape the infernos of annihilation, emerging from their homes and getting on with their lives, relieved to see the army of the walking dead shambling north out of the city towards the Garden Lands.
In a public ceremony in the great square before the twisted bulk of the Ducal Palace, Belor is seen to marry Lydia Di Courci, and subsequently claims the right to rule in the White City. News of the ceremony causes uproar in the White City, however most are willing to accept the official response, that Lydia Di Courci is dead and the marriage a sham. Mutterings from the Noble families over the succession grow ever louder, particularly when the Temple of Ashes announces that it cannot confirm Lydia's demise.
Selena and her zombie horde proceed into the Garden Lands and in the Broken Garden begin the construction of her Perfidious Tower. Soon the dark tower and its crowning beacon of black flame can be seen from anywhere in the Garden Lands.
From the City of Silk comes word that there is some sort of sickness in the Western Forest. Throughout great patches of the forest one can travel for days without hearing a noise from the wildlife, and rangers report finding animals of all description lying comatose and twitching upon the forest floor. Darker rumours speak of madness amongst the 'civilised' weaver tribes and of Children of the Vine who wander aimlessly, lacking the drive to eat or drink.
Sometime later word arrives that Karl D'Artois and many of the other Port nobles who managed to flee the terrible purges have established a government in exile on a newly discovered island in the Mirror Sea, beyond the Breathing Isles. Fishermen's tales claim that the Isle is now protected by a number of strange guardians, apparently constructed by its sorcerous occupants.
The Port of Glass Embassy to the White City declares its loyalty to the D'Artois family and announces that it is now the Embassy of The Isle of the Broken Moon.
Some days later, Her Eminence Rebecca Di Courci calls for an assembly of the White City's nobility. Addressing the assembled, the Governor announces that diplomatic relations with the so-called Port of Glass and Flame have been completely suspended, and calls upon the noble families to prepare for the possibility of open war in the near future. She continues, noting that relations with the D'Artois family of the southern Isle are to remain cordial. Finally she ends the address by announcing that she is pregnant, and that the child is to be her successor. Ignoring the intrigued uproar of her peers, she sweeps from the room, flanked by a silent Carlos de Mamushi and her retinue.
By Any Other Name
Run by Ellie & Jessie on 20th May 2006 (Saturday 4th week, Trinity term)
A sequel to "Season of Shards".
Players: Stephano De Courci (Julian), Markos (Gareth), Dr. Edward Holtz (Joe W), Matteus De Almedia (Xan), Elias Vincenzi (Dom), Lucia du Bois (Lucy), Bairoth (Peter)
Mission Brief: Stephano De Courci and companions attempt to find the child of the Rose-Princess of the East.
Adventure Summary: Stephano gathers together the adventurers he's recruited; some there because of their devotion to the Princes of Breath, some there out of scholarly curiosity, some there for the money they're being paid and some there for reasons of their own. Introductions are made and payment is negotiated. He explains that he met the Rose Princess of the East in the Waste of the Rose on a recent expedition to the East, and she asked him to recover her child - a child which was stolen at the time of the original Binding War over a thousand years ago, sending the Rose Princess mad as a result. He tells the party that a scholarly contact in the Cloistered Brethren named Josiah Trench has been following a lead for him, and everyone arranges to meet with this contact in a tavern the following day.
That night Stephano, Matteus and Bairoth all have an identical dream in which they see a scar cutting across the land from the far East in the Battlefields to the far West near the other side of the Great Forest. The next day everyone meets up and heads to the agreed tavern, but when they're nearly there they notice a commotion in the street where Josiah is being attacked by a small group of armed assailants. Several of the adventurers rush in, Matteus demands to know what's going on and orders the assailants to drop their weapons but they ignore him. After a brief scuffle one of the assailant runs off, one is subdued and the other has been bound by Josiah's sorcery. When questioned the two captives claim to be low ranking members of the Cloistered Brethren ordered to kill Josiah by a higher ranking member of the organisation, whose name they give, and Matteus summons some High Guardsmen and has them arrested on various charges and taken away to be held for questioning.
Moving on to the pub, Josiah shows them an ancient map and letter from the Brethren's archives displaying several locations relevant to the child's kidnapping, ranging from one of the Battlefields to the East to deep in the Great Forest. There is some discussion over whether they should start with the location in the East or the one in the West, and it is decided to let Dr. Holtz do some research in the hopes of finding some evidence on which course they should take. But first they visit the Cloistered Brethren and demand an audience with the person who is alleged to have given the orders to have Josiah killed, who of course denies any such order having been given and promises to investigate the matter.
Several days later they meet up again and Dr. Holtz announces that his research shows that nothing useful is to be found in the East. The party vote on which way to go, and decide to head East. They visit the site shown on the map and find nothing, then they visit one of the site's further to the west and find a dell filled with vines. As they enter the dell the vines attack, attempting to cut people with their thorns and entangling limbs and weapons in their coils. Markos uses his greatsword to systematically hack the vines into shreds, with the others keeping the vines off him while he does so. Once the vines are cleared the middle of the dell is seen to be carpeted with small purple flowers which arrange themselves into a map, showing slightly more accurately where the next site is. The map is copied down onto parchment and several of the flowers are plucked or eaten, Elias announcing that they taste like blood.
At the next site the party find a ring of stone pillars about a dozen paces across, and when they approach the pillars reveal themselves to be stone golems which animate and attack the party. Once all the golems have been destroyed the party investigate the centre of the ring and find more purple flowers, which show them where to go next. They take a slight detour via the City of Silk to restock on supplies and catch up on the latest news. Matteus arranges rooms for them all at the De Almedia mansion, Dr. Holtz tends to a local's injured leg with his surgical skills, Markos gets his armour repaired and people hear about strange goings on in the Forest - the towering pillar of the Black Flame vanishing, animals acting strangely (attacking at random or dropping dead), and a strange wind which started up about two weeks ago (which is roughly around the time the party entered the Forest). They also learn that the part of the Forest they're heading for next is rumoured to be haunted by restless spirits of the dead. One of the local Weavers has a psychotic fit in which he attempts to attack the adventurers, but is easily restrained and subdued.
After staying in the City of Silk for a couple of days they move on, deeper into the Forest. They find that the site they're looking for is a small island in the middle of a fast flowing river, and as Stephano and Bairoth start flying over to the island ghostly spirits rise from the river and attack the party. Most of the adventurers fight off the spirits' influence, a couple are overcome by the urge to throw themselves into the river before being exorcised by Dr. Holtz. Then most of the party cross over to the island and find more purple flowers, this time the map they form indicates a site on the far edge of the Forest a little way north of Belor's Folly. They camp for the night on the bank of the river, and in the middle of the night while most of them are sleeping they are attacked by a large horde of trolls.
Eventually they reach Belor's Folly, now well established. The townsfolk report that the Empire of the Unbound has ceased its attacks, refuses to speak or negotiate but seems to be slightly less powerful than initially thought, that the site the party is now heading for is a haunted ruined city, and that the town has heard rumours of a port city to the southwest with which they have trading links through a network of villages. The news of Belor's betrayal of the White City is greeted with some alarm, some of the townsfolk unable to believe it, and there are mutterings about changing the town's name. The party recruit a local guide, hang around briefly while Dr. Holtz performs some more surgery, then head on.
On the way to the ruined city there is an encounter with a large group of bandits whose leader demands payment for passage, but the leader is rapidly rendered unconscious by Wind sorcery and the rest of the bandits easily cut down, none of them being allowed to escape. One of the bandits is taken alive and confesses to being a deserter from the armies of the Empire of the Unbound, so the local guide takes him back to Belor's Folly for in depth interrogation.
On arriving in the ruined city the party are attacked by about four dozen large and vicious dogs. A hard-fought battle ensues in which Markos, Elias and Lucia are all nearly killed, their lives saved by the swift application of Dr. Holtz's necromancy (which he passes off as the use of healing potions, since there were no witnesses) and Stephano's Rejuvenating Fires. A house is found with an old grave outside it marked with the symbol of a chain, Dr. Holtz and Stephano insist on being left alone to investigate the grave and the others eventually agree, with some protest. Lucia creeps up to spy on them from hiding and Bairoth attempts to spy on them astrally, but Lucia sees little of interest and Bairoth is spotted and cast back to his body by Dr. Holtz before Dr. Holtz uses necromancy to call up the spirit from the grave and bend it to his will. They rejoin the party and move on to another house, this one covered in purple flowers and surrounded by a large number of zephyrs, minor Wind spirits that appear as small whirlwinds. The Wind Priests in the party hope that the zephyrs won't attack them, but are soon disappointed as the zephyrs move out to try and destroy all the adventurers. There is another difficult battle, but eventually the zephyrs are destroyed and the party investigate the house, finding a further map which points them a short way eastwards back into the Great Forest. Bairoth uses an alchemical potion to scout out the site astrally, but all he can see is a clearing full of red roses with large indistinct shapes hiding in the undergrowth and a powerful spirit patrolling the edges.
When the party arrive at the site in person they find the powerful spirit to be the ghost of a dead Name sorcerer. The ghost talks to them companionably, telling them that the child is the daughter of the Rose Princess of the East and the Lord of the Blood-Fury. The late sorcerer kidnapped the child soon after her birth, used Name sorcery to make her human, brought her to the West and raised her here for twelve years before the Lord of the Blood-Fury found and killed them both, leaving some of his creatures to guard their bodies. A plan is formed whereby Bairoth and Stephano are to fly over to the child's body, which they are told is in the clump of red roses at the centre of the glade, while the rest of the party distract the guardians. But the guardians, soon revealed as large and mindlessly destructive plant creatures, aren't easily distracted and another battle ensues, during which Matteus sees Stephano Commend one of the creatures to Ash. Eventually the creatures are all destroyed and the party gather round the centre of the clearing, where they find nothing but a rose bush in the shape of a girl's body. But they soon find that they're able to talk to the rose bush, which holds the spirit of the dead child. Dr. Holtz exorcises the ghostly Name sorcerer at Matteus' command and the child asks them to carry her home to her mother. This they are able to do by touching the rose bush and letting one of the roses grow into their flesh, after which the child's spirit is riding in their minds - eventually all of them but Dr. Holtz are bonded to a rose and they set off for the Waste of the Rose in the far East.
After travelling for six weeks or so and passing the City of Crossroads they find their way blocked by a large contingent of skeletal Knight Protectors from the City of Chains, who announce that they have been drawn here by the taint of Name magic and that all those carrying a rose are so tainted, cannot pass and must renounce the taint or be destroyed. Dr. Holtz, as he is not carrying a rose and is recognised as a member of the Cloistered Brethren, is allowed to pass but the rest of the party are forced to fight. Barely have the last of the Knight Protectors fallen when a gate to the Burned Realm opens and two Ash Guard emerge. One rushes for Stephano with a cry of wordless rage, the other strides towards Dr. Holtz and denounces him as a necromancer before attacking. There is some confusion, with most of the party hanging back and asking what's going on and trying to convince the Ash Guard they're mistaken as Stephano and Dr. Holtz defend themselves and eventually destroy their two assailants. Stephano searches the body of the one who attacked Dr. Holtz and "finds" the shard of glass he plants among its remains, announcing that it was clearly one of the Ash Guard who have been corrupted by Glass and driven mad. But Matteus is the first to investigate the remains of the other Ash Guard, and announces them to be Glass-free, so the two necromancers persuade people that this one must have been persuaded by its corrupted comrade. The party move on warily, later encountering a large group of warriors in the ragged livery of the Broken Guard. They're alarmed to see Matteus and announce that they just want to pass in peace, the party stand aside to let them do so and one of them casts a Storm of Shards at Matteus. He dodges aside, draws his sword and demands that the person responsible is prevented from doing so again, one of the culprit's companions promises to do so and immediately blasts Matteus into unconsciousness with Eyes of Glass. At this point a fight breaks out, several of the Vitriarch worshippers are captured and the rest cut down, some of them having to be hunted out as they cast spells from the undergrowth. Once Matteus comes round he is asked to decide what is done with the captives, he orders them executed and Markos complies, though Bairoth professes himself disgusted with such actions.
At last the party reach the location of the Rose Princess of the East, who is attended by a large number of mischievous wind spirits. The party approach her and show her suitable reverence and respect, though she insists that Stephano prostrates himself full length upon the ground. She takes the roses from them and there is a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning strikes the ground, sorely wounding everyone nearby, then she seems more lucid and thanks them. Stephano is given the bud of her blessing and she bids the party to depart.
The adventurers head back to the White City, and when they reach the gate Matteus orders the gate guards to arrest Stephano on charges of necromancy. Stephano turns around and attempts to Commend Matteus to Ash, but Matteus dodges to the side and Stephano runs for it. Matteus and the High Guardsmen give chase but Stephano takes to the air and flies away faster than they can follow, so eventually they are forced to give up. Matteus goes to have a quiet word with Rebecca De Courci.
Adventure Consequences: Firstly people travelling on the edges of the Waste of the Rose (and the odd madman who actually goes through it) report seeing something rather peculiar. A new Oasis has been spotted in the middle of the desert with an island in the middle. The island appears to be covered in Red Roses and on it sits a woman who appears to never leave.
Priests of the Rose Princess of the East report that something has happened to their God - she seems a lot less crazy than usual - how long this will last is anybody's guess.
(OOC: And a secret that is known by very few: The Rose Princess of the East will only remain sane while she is on the island where her daughter was finally laid to rest.)
Stephano De Courci has been branded a Necromancer by Captain Matteus of the High Guard and there is a warrant out for his arrest. Stephano has fled to the Port of Glass and Flame and has been apparently welcomed by Lord Protector Belor. Showing his face in the White City will be tricky although Rebecca has made it clear that she would like her nephew to return alive and stand fair trial for the accusations.
A full report on the events has been made to Rebecca including the details found out about the lands to the far west. An investigation into allegations over Dr. Holtz using necromancy has been started by the Brotherhood of Chains but as yet no action has been taken or firm accusations made.
The people seen attacking Josiah Trench are imprisoned by the High Guard for attempted murder. The Brotherhood deny all knowledge of the events. Several weeks later Josiah is seen around town - he looks like he's recovering from having been in a fight but is perfectly healthy otherwise and continuing his studies as diligently as before.
Stephano's lands in the White City have been mostly seized (from which each party member gets 35Hx) but Stephano's wealth is unaffected due to his newly obtained assets in the Port of Glass and Flame.
OOC knowledge: Stephano's blessing is a real blessing - just in potentia. As soon as the 'Condemned by Ash' is lifted it will be a full blessing without him requiring any other action on his part. This can be done at any point.
Everyone who took on one of Beth's Roses is left with a Rose tattoo where they held it. This counts as a blessing from her. Being half blood power half wind power, how others will respond to this is unclear. Frankly any priests asked about it just seem confused. One effect is that anyone who took the blessing now has +1 fatigue until they remove the blessing.
Toquell's Lesser House
Run by Rich & Peter on 27th May 2006 (Saturday 5th week, Trinity term)
Players: Draven (?), Kane (?), Poppy (Lucy K), 6 or 7 others
Mission Brief: With the flight of Kit, Belor and Selena, Toquell's estate has been taken over in various parts to various extents by the Velasquez Family, the High Guard, the Low Guard, the cult of the Black Flame and others - anyone who is anyone has tried to grab a bit of it. One relatively unknown house remains.
The College of the Thousand Arts has been hit rather hard by the problems caused by a major professor going off in the way she did. A figure purporting to be from the College has been secretly recruiting relatively unknown figures from the adventuring groups around the White City. It is said they are to be going into and exploring this house to find what riches remain and extract them.
Adventure Summary: The party are briefed by someone claiming to represent the College, actually Selena Curiana In a Clever Disguise (again). She asks them to investigate the house, offering to pay them a flat fee with a bonus for any mystical artifacts they manage to retrieve, expressing particular interest in Toquell's contact lenses. They set off, fighting bandits and wolves on their way to the estate, and find the front door of the house (which they notice has been fitted with a catflap, as have all the other doors they see) creaking eerily in the wind.
Kicking the door open, they enter the house and find a horde of zombies shambling up through the cellar doors, hungry for brains. Once the zombies have been dealt with they enter the cellar and move on towards an eerie light in the distance, which is revealed to be a gate to the Burned Realm. Five Ash Guard stride through the gate and confront the party, accusing them of having consorted with a necromancer and questioning them as to their business. The Ash Guard are mollified by the presence of an Ash Priest and the news that the party have destroyed the nearby zombies, so they offer to bless the party's weapons. Most of the party present their weapons for blessing, the Ash Guard draw ash from inside themselves and sprinkle it on the weapons to make them more effective against the undead before turning and striding back through the gate, which closes behind them. Moving on through the tunnels, the party find a room in which a troll has been chained up with a trollberry bush just beyond its reach and has gone mad from the frustration. There is a chair sitting in one corner of the room, also just beyond the troll's reach. The party use Blood sorcery to make the bush grow to the point where the troll can reach it, then move on - the room collapses behind them, burying the troll alive. A small cat approaches the party, some of them are friendly towards it but others are considerably less friendly so the cat dodges their blows and runs off.
As they continue down the tunnel in the only direction left open to them, the floor gives way beneath their feet and they find themselves falling down the Pit of Deespeeir, landing amidst a group of skeletal undead creatures who plead to be fed and attempt to feed on the party. These are all destroyed, not without some difficulty since they keep rising again until they're dismembered, but then the party are attacked by the spirits of their comrades whom they'd eaten alive before becoming undead, spirits which leave the Ash Priest alone and possess the other members of the party in order to plead with him for the Last Rites. These are given, and the spirits gratefully depart to the Burned Realm.
Moving on again, the party find the wine cellar - which is occupied by a large group of Vinechildren with no memory of how they got there. They claim to have had a fantastic party in the Great Forest, passed out, and woken up here in a cellar full of wine. They share the wine and some food they've found with the adventurers, ask for some blood (which results in some drawn swords and nearly leads to violence, which is fortunately averted) and play with two items they've found in the adjacent cellar, which is apparently some kind of showroom - a black obsidian staff which appears to be made of vitrified wood and an ancient skull (actually the First Hammer and the skull of the Bound One known as the Eater of Wings, taken from the remains of the Chain-Snake - see the Hammering the Snake LARP). After much, much, much faffing and messing about the adventurers finally realise that they should take the staff and the skull for their employer and leave under cover of an Ashen Cloud, after which the Vinechildren shrug and continue partying until they pass out. The party's next encounter is with a room filled with dead bodies around which hover angry swarms of vicious biting insects that attack the party, one of whom starts using the First Hammer to defend themselves. Some more corridors and a large pair of double doors lead to a room which contains pipes and vents and flues leading to other parts of the house, not to mention the firedrake which Toquell used to power the heating system. The party try to talk to the firedrake, but it's just hungry and annoyed and attacks them (though fortunately for them Toquell had made sure to disable almost all of its firebreathing capabilities before installing it). With the firedrake dead, they move on and are attacked by a horde of troglodytes which have tunnelled in through the sewer system and seem to think they're in the White City as the first stage of an invasion. The troglodytes charge, screaming high pitched war cries of "Streng!" and "Feeesh!" and "Run away!" at the party - the party promptly run away, as instructed, before rallying to fight the dozens of troglodytes that pour in through the tunnels. Eventually they are victorious, though some of them have come close to death during the fight and all are battered and sorely wounded as they meet the small cat once again, who seems to be particularly fond of the party's female members and rather antagonistic towards the ones who aimed blows at him before.
The cat leads them to Toquell's walk-in refrigerator and air-conditioning centre, kept cool by means of a group of Snow Riders, somewhat weakened due to having been trapped far from the Northern Mountains for so long. The adventurers throw the ancient skull into the room, where it is caught by one of the Snow Riders and whirled around in the air for a while before the Snow Rider gets bored and drops it on the floor. The cat runs through the room to a door at the far end, dodging the blows of the Snow Riders, and looks back at the adventurers waiting for them to follow suit. Some of them follow his example, taking some blows on the way but making it to the other side, others try to slowly fight their way through but end up getting hemmed in amongst the pipes around the edges of the room, others lurk near the entrance unwilling to brave the cold. With the party fragmented things go badly, some of them falling as their comrades watch from one of the doorways, others running in to rescue them, until at length two of their number have died and the remainder decide that enough is enough and rally for a group effort that sees all of the Snow Riders slain. Then they follow the cat down the corridor, and find a doorway that seems to lead to a sandy beach on a tropical island lit by the setting sun.
They follow the cat through the door and find themselves on the beach of the Burning Isle (see the end of the Dragonfire & Deep Water LARP), with no sign of the door they came through. As the suns sets the cat turns into a man named Patrick, wearing nothing but a disconcerting grin, and they notice a beach bar run by a dapper gentleman who introduces himself as Simpkins, Toquell's butler. Simpkins offers them drinks and enquires as to the party's purpose in his master's house. Patrick takes Toquell's spare contact lenses from a drawer behind the bar and gives them to the party. Simpkins insists that they leave the obsidian staff with him, since taking it away would be stealing, though in the ensuing negotiations he intimates that he'd be willing to let them keep the staff if they agree to swear a Binding Oath to do their utmost to free Toquell from his current imprisonment. Things are at a stalemate for some time until Patrick uses Glass sorcery to knock Simpkins unconscious and tells them to keep the staff and leave.
Things of Glass, Darcly
Run by Andrew C & Vicky on 3rd June 2006 (Saturday 6th week, Trinity term)
There is a gallery of photographs from this game available here, taken by Chris V, hosted by Chris N.
Players: Jenevieve Velasquez (Jen H), Marcus (Gareth), Bottle (Joe W), Tarich (Tom), ??? (Tony), Ian Bracket (James W), Ulf (James F)
Mission Brief: Anyone frequenting the taverns and inns of the White City is likely to have heard a rumour that a certain merchant by the name of Aidan Darc is looking for adventurers for the purpose of retrieving some lost money. By all accounts he's somewhat poor at the moment, so cash in advance is likely to be slight, if offered at all, but as compensation, there will be ample reward if the retrieval operation is successful. A time and date, and the name of a tavern- "The Hamstrung Trog", are given.
Original Plot Document (.rtf file)
Adventure Summary: As the adventurers slowly arrive at The Hamstrung Trog they find a merry bar brawl underway. Sitting in a corner is Aidan, and most of them gather round him to hear what he needs them for- him and his cousins were returning in their caravan from the City of Silk when they were ambushed by bandits. He only just escaped, and now wants to try and recover his money. And maybe his cousins. But mainly his money.
He offers a meagre 5 Hexa upfront, but says the party can have a significant share in the money from the caravan, which he estimates at 1000 Hexa. Jenevieve starts haggling with him, and eventually convinces him to give them 7 Hexa advance instead. Aidan then gives Jenevieve a map, showing the place where the caravan was ambushed. Meanwhile, Ulf has found a stupid troll-blood in the bar, who hands a letter to Jenevieve, explaining he's the son of a lesser noble family, seeking to become a knight ("ker-nig-eht"). He asks to come along for no pay, just the chance to win honour and glory. Ulf starts just calling him Son, like the letter. This nickname sticks.
The party pack up, buy a few potions with their advance, and head off into the West. They start to get to know each other- Tarich and Bottle are friends, with Tarich often sticking up for Bottle when the others bitch about how drunk/hungover he is; Ulf enthusiastically talks to Jenevieve about how great Vincenzi is and starts to show rather doglike devotion to her; Marcus and Bracket both stay quite withdrawn; and Son is just rather stupid.
After an uneventful journey to the Forest, they soon encounter trouble upon arrival. 'Trouble' in the not-very-troublesome form of a group of particularly run-down 'kartograffa' trogs. The trogs produce their map, which is covered with "Heer Bee Dragins" and seems to show an attempt to mark every tree in the forest. They babble at great length about all the dragons they've seen- eight legged dragons, shiny dragons with swords and shields, and so on. They also gather round the party members with maps, clamouring enthusiastically to see them. Eventually the party lose all patience with the trogs, and the trogs attack them suicidally. Some of the party try to focus on subduing them or driving them away, whilst Ulf has a fun time killing them. Bracket then does Last Rites, whilst Ulf and Bottle start collecting trog-corpses, and Ulf merrily munches away on a trog-leg. This causes some concern among the other members of the party, but Jenevieve smoothes things over.
Pushing on into the depths of the forest towards where the map shows the ambush, Tarich and Ulf start to notice something's not quite right. Tarich suspects they're being followed. Then they come round a corner, and encounter a lady standing in the middle of the path. She refuses them passage, saying she is Elana and this part of the Forest is 'hers'. This gets Bottle and Ulf rather angry, whilst Bracket and Jenevieve try to use diplomacy: "We're here to kill bandits. And bandits are like rats. You've got to kill them soon, or there will be big problems down the line." This doesn't work, and Bottle sneaks around behind her. Finally all diplomacy breaks down, and she shapeshifts into a wolf- Ulf immediately realises she's not actually lupine in nature (possibly by the fact that she was a woman a minute ago!) She also calls up coils of Black Flame, which surround her and consume her weapon. Jenevieve attacks, only to find her weapon destroyed. Meanwhile lots of other unnatural wolves stream in, to attack the party from all directions. A brutal fight follows, and they're all either killed (turning into serpentmen as they die) or they turn into birds and fly away. Tarich lends Jenevieve a new sword.
Looking at the tracks in the area, Tarich soon finds the way to the remains of the merchant caravan. Which are crawling with giant spiders, that they kill. Tarich then investigates the wreck, while Bracket talks to the dead bandits and guards that are scattered round the clearing. Eventually a picture emerges- the caravan was heading from the City of Silk when the bandits attacked. The fight was incredibly bloody, and most spirits Tarich talks to assumed their side was loosing. Whoever won took almost all the valuables. There are no obvious tracks in any direction except further along the cart track, which is heading to the south-east. There are a number of boxes in the wreckage, who's address is "The House, Clearholm". Bracket recognises the name Clearholm- it's south of the Three Gardens. Discussion ensues about what to do next.
The discussion goes nowhere, and they're feeling tired. So they find another clearing, and settle down to rest. Around midnight they are woken up by the sound of drunken singing. They get up and head towards the noise, where they find a group of satyrs. The adventurers are invited in to the party, and given wine. A while later, they're asked for blood in return. They all agree, if a bit reluctantly. The next morning Bottle patches up their wounds, and they have a vote on what to do next- return to the White City and try to find Aidan again, or go straight to Clearholm. Option 2 proves most popular.
They head south-east, towards Clearholm. However, before they leave the forest, they come across a clearing with a mass of twisted vines in the centre, wrapped around a couple of dead bodies. They move cautiously towards the vines, only for them to start lashing out and entangling their weapons. Those with the longest weapons start hacking at the vines, whilst Ulf helps people free trapped weapons and Tarich burns any subdued plants. As they're doing this, several of the trees around the edge of the clearing also start attacking- including a few that attack using Storms of Shards and then explode! The party cleanse the clearing thoroughly (possibly too through- Son sees everyone attacking the violent trees and tries to join in by attacking perfectly normal trees...)
After leaving the forest and pressing through the Garden Lands, they find themselves skirting round the edge of the Three Gardens. And here they encounter a girl, who says she's from the College of the Thousand Arts and is looking for help on a brief mission to collect some samples of glass-infected animals from inside the Broken Garden. Discussion ensues- Bracket pointing out that the girl could be Selena Curiana in a disguise. Eventually they agree they don't want to risk it, and tell the girl no. She responds by raising up undead minions to attack the party. As they launch into the fight, Bracket Calls Forth An Ashen Cloud. He runs to the necromancer, touches her, and Condemns Her To Ash. Unfortunately, she actually hadn't been renounced by the Burned Lords, resulting in Bracket loosing his ordination... After the cloud disperses everyone leaps into action, and destroys the shambling horde. Bracket, meanwhile, is Very Distressed for some unknown reason.
After Jenevieve gives Bracket some time to stop moping, the party head to Clearholm. They find the villagers all gathered in the square, watching a group in the robes of the Temple of the King In Fragments execute a woman for heresy. The party also just watch, as the woman first of all knocks the priest unconscious with Eyes of Glass and then has her head chopped off. Then they split up. Ulf goes and tries to get information on the Darcs ("Where Darcs live?" "In that house, with the Glass Tower sticking out" "Are they Glass mage?" "Um, you do see the Glass Tower, don't you?"), Bracket gets quizzed about the Lord of the Gardens by some other villagers, and the others talk to the temple soldiers. It all goes a bit wrong- a villager jokingly asks Bracket if he's a Necromancer and he cuts her down in anger, whilst the others end up in a fight with the temple guard. Ulf sees Bracket cut down the villager for no reason so responds by subduing him, and then wanders around pouring healing potions down the throats of his companions who had been killed by the soldiers. He then asks for a healing potion in return- Marcus gives him one, whilst the stupid troll-noble instead gives him 10 Hexa.
The party re-group, revive Bracket, and head to the house of the Darcs. The front door has two large glass statues standing on either side, and is solidly barred. The party knock quietly, to no effect. Then loudly, to no effect. Then try pushing the door. Finally, Bottle uses his Blood Sorcery to burst the lock. At which point the statues come alive, and attack. The party destroys them, and scatters their shards. Then all the strongest members of the party all push the door together, smashing it open.
The woman inside immediately attacks them. They kill her, and she explodes sending vitrifying glass shards into everyone nearby. Luckily most people are armoured, except for Son, who then has a purification potion poured down his throat. He doesn't seem to like having bits of glass flung into him followed by burning liquid poured down his throat, for some reason. But everyone convinces him it's for the best. Otherwise he could never become a ker-nig-eht. The party quickly investigate the ground floor of the house, finding a bit of cash and not much else of interest. So they head up the stairs...
The whole of the upper floor is one large room with a glass tower in the centre. The room containing lots of shiny, interesting looking artifacts. And lots of people. Who, on closer inspection, turn out to be multiple copies of three people, two men and a woman. The youngest man and his reflections spring forward armed with shields, and form a solid wall defending the other man and the woman and their reflections. Who stand near the back surrounded by a Cloak of Razors, and use Glass Magic to snipe from afar. Eventually they're defeated- Ulf sneaks behind the shieldwall and kills the younger brother from behind, and then Marcus leads the attack on the others using his greatsword to avoid the Cloak of Razors.
The party start searching the room. Son picks up the sword of the youngest Darc, and admires it. Marcus notices this- "Can I have a look? "Ok" "Oh, nice, I think I'll keep it". Meanwhile Jenevieve stops to briefly check on her make-up in a mirror, and finds herself drawn into psychic combat with a looking-glass hunter. Thankfully, she survives! They collect all the most expensive/arcane looking items, and a diary explaining what had happened (the bandits had been hired by one of the Darc cousins to try and kill Aidan) and prepare to leave the house. Except for Bottle, who's eyeing up the Glass Tower. He announces he's going to destroy it. This makes most of the party question his sanity, but he confidently steps up to the Tower and starts smearing his blood over it in an attempt to cast Blood of the Soil on it. Everyone runs away, worried it might fall on top of them, and watches from outside as cracks form, spread, and then finally it collapses in on itself. Bottle walks out alive, if bleeding rather heavily...
The party head back north. They meet Aidan with a group of thugs just outside the watchtowers, and he attacks them with Glass magic (his plan was just to get them to kill his cousins for him, and bring him as much of the money as possible). A particularly nasty fight breaks out, with Marcus and Ulf falling to Eyes of Glass whilst Jenevieve and Stupid are forced to surrender. Luckily Bottle, Bracket and Tarich kill Aidan- the hired thugs then see those three charging towards them, realise they won't get paid, and flee. The party heads back to the White City, sell the glass artifacts, split the money equally between themselves (not giving any to the stupid troll-noble) and hand in reports to the relevant people (Bracket to the Temple of Ash, Jenevieve to the Guild of Free Traders).
Adventure Consequences: In brief, not much. The Darcs were respected members of the Guild of Free Traders, and no one seemed to have had any idea that the whole family were glass sorcerers. Aidan Darc's house in the White City underwent a brief investigation by the Low Guard, though nothing seems (at any rate, obviously) to have come of that. The House, in the village of Clearholm is still as the PCs left it, as far as anyone knows, though it's possible the villagers might have decided to investigate the sudden and loud disappearance of the glass tower formerly sticking out of the middle of it. On the other hand, they may have decided to leave well alone.
The College of a Thousand Arts is now studying some of the glass statues and the sword that the PCs recovered. It is established that the sword is capable of vitrifying flesh, but such swords have been seen before, even if they aren't precisely common, and it is otherwise unremarkable.
Ian Bracket gazes at the statues he took himself. They talk to him.
Picture If You Will
Run by Andrea & ??? on 10th June 2006 (Saturday 7th week, Trinity term)
Players: Federico Velasquez (Joff), Jenevieve Velasquez (Jenni), Adi (Jessie), Clare Shelton (Emma), Arashi Moriyama (Vicky), Rupert Locke (James), ??? (Julian), others?
Mission Brief:A group of adventurers each have a dream of their heart's desire and a path in the Northern mountains; they set off to investigate.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: pending.
Among the Sands
Run by Dom & James W on 17th June 2006 (Saturday 8th week, Trinity term)
Players: Arashi Moriyama (Vicky), Captain "Ripper" Bill MacKenzie (James W), Lord Sebastian de Fideli (Joff), Ratrina De Almedia (Andrea), Teresa De Courci (Helen W), Henry De Courci (Chris N), Carmina Curiana (Vicky), Diego (Joe W), Adi (Jessie), Inigo Montoya (Julian), Orpheus du Valle (Dom), Kisu of the Nge (Dom), Kratos (Rich), Morgock Sarm (Rich), Adanemoay (Xan), Cpt. Ambriel Chermes (Helen W), Lucia du Bois (Lucy H), Bairoth (Peter), Tarich (Tom), Paulo (Tom), Bottle (Joe W), Dominic du Cesare (Tony), Ulf (James F), ??? (formerly 'Tibs') (Joe W)
Mission Brief: Posters, rumours and handbills draw various adventurers, politicians and warriors to the arena at the heart of the New Tribals known as the "Glory of the Sands".
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: As the column of blood rises, then falls, showering the arena in a fine red rain, the PC's find themselves escorted off The New Tribals by a number of Nge Warriors - mercenaries and civilised folk turned savage - and by Tribe Eagle Archers. For a short while, it looks as if the archers will turn on the Nge, but any dispute is soon put aside for later, as the two tribes are united in a common purpose to clear the area.
There are the following exceptions:
Sebastian and Family engage in a short, confused conversation with Kisu of the Nge, who seems almost panicked, but will not admit anything other than "Nge is great." They are eventually told, firmly, that they will leave. However, during their journey aweay from the New Tribals, Sebastian notices that there are Tribe Eagle Archers watching over them as they travel. Whether this is a parting gift to ensure their safety is not known.
Kratos, Ambriel Chermes and Ambassador Sio are given full escort of a dozen Nge mercenaries. The ambassador is advised that she is to order their return back to the New Tribals at her earliest convenience.
Bairoth wakes up some miles from Tribe Jaguar lands, obviously having been dragged some distance. There is a canteen of water and some dried meat sitting at his feet.
Bottle, having dived back IN to the column of blood, has an Experience, and is spat back out, some distance, before hitting a cliff wall, a collision that should break every bone in his body. By an astoundingly lucky coincidence, he hits the only patch of foliage on the surface, which breaks his fall.
Morgock wakes up some hours later, on the floor of the arena, covered in blood. The Nge don't entirely know what to make of him, and his is given an escort back west. For future reference, there is a particularly stubborn stain on his cheek which will not wash off. In the right kind of shadow, the shape might JUST pass for a spider, almost.
GM note: Morgock is now Ordained to Nge, the Scorpion King, He Who Announces, steed to Karan Al Mejir. Chris N has more info on this plotline if anybody is curious.
Hal and Theresa escort a number of people back to the White City, including Slavemaster Ligus, who testifies certain things before Rebecca De Courcis. The next day, Ligus Heron is killed in a bar brawl in the Grey Moor Tavern. Some things are better left unsaid.
The De Courci family give Hal a modest sum to finance a "holiday" out East.
Theresa De Courci submits a bottle of unknown liquid to the Faculty of Alchemy at the College of a Thousand Arts. The next morning, a disgruntled professor explains that he has spent the whole night analysing tea.
Lucia Du Bois remains in the New Tribals, to shout at Kisu some more, and Words Are Had. Eventually, she leaves in disgust, heading towards the White City, in order to find Sebastian.
For the following week, vicious in-fighting in the New Tribals forces the Nge and Tribe Jaguar to retreat further back into their lands. Tribe Eagle, with their superior archery, force a stalemate against the two tribes. The Hung Boar tribe have a day of mourning for Gallo-speaks-like-thunder, and declare war against the Nge and Tribe Jaguar the following morning.
Eventually, a contingent of High Guard arrive at the New Tribals. The area around the Arena is deserted, and the Nge, every man woman and child of them, appear to have left. Tracks lead South. Some in Tribe Jaguar appear to have resumed their nomadic ways, travelling East, presumably to rejoin their original tribal lands. Some are still holding onto land in the New Tribals, albeit tenuously. Tribe Eagle and the Hung Boar tribe hold peace talks.
Those ordained to the Lady of Blood and Wine feel slightly calmer than they have in some months. It is like the sudden break in tension that comes after a birth.
The Secret of Innocence
Run by James W & James F on 15th July 2006 (a Saturday in the summer vacation)
Players: Lazarus (Rich), Leonardo Velasquez (Gareth), Brother Jara (Xan), Tarich (Tom)
Mission Brief: Michael Carding, a respectable merchant who isn't at all a frontman for King Eric oh no no no, is hiring adventurers to act as bodyguards for an alchemist going to the far North. A group of adventurers specialising in Exorcism, Chain and Ash gather in a bar to meet him.
Unknown to the adventurers, the potion the alchemist is making is actually the Elixir of Innocence, and will restore the Innocence of the individual who drinks it, getting them moral, spiritual and physical forgiveness from all past crimes. Lots of people want this- King Eric, Carding, the alchemist himself, The Necromancer at Three Rivers, some Tears-As-Fire cultists, Rebecca De Courci (to give to Stephano), and Carlos de Mamushi...
Adventure Summary: Before the meeting, Brother Jara is approached by Carlos de Mamushi, and given a secret briefing- the city wants the potion, and Jara is to get it for them by whatever means is takes. He then proceeds to the bar, where everyone meets Carding.
Carding explains he has been moderately successful as a merchant and is now looking to give something back to society, by financing an alchemical discovery. Vine, the alchemist who will hopefully be making the breakthrough, claims he has worked out a way of making a potion allowing people to see into others dreams, even when they are awake. Such a potion would have obvious benefits to a merchant, as well as being an interesting development in the fields of Alchemy and Dream. The adventurers are offered a chance to be mentioned in the research paper as well as having more immediately financial rewards- all this in exchange for a standard escort-and-protect job. Before they leave the city, the Cloistered Brethren warn Jara that the cult of Tears-as-Fire claim to have had visions of the potion and want to get hold of it for themselves.
They set off northwards, and have an uneventful time until they get to the lands around the Palace At Three Rivers, at which point they run into the walking dead. Somewhat unusually, the horde is led by a living dead captain (named Malzithrathar), and seeks not to immediately destroy the party but merely to inspect their bags. In return, Malzithrathar offers a Hexa to each member of the party as a gift from the Necromancer. The two exorcists notice the coins have a spirit linked to them, who is ordering the captain around. The party refuse to have anything to do with the whole set up (especially Lazarus), and just attack. Lazarus nearly dies, but is healed by Malzithrathar (under orders from the spirit attached to the coins). Eventually all the undead are cut down/exorcised, and examining Malzithrathar's corpse reveals a message from the Necromancer offering "wealth beyond the dreams of avarice" in exchange for the potion. Clearly Carding is not the only person who wants it- although why the Necromancer wants to see into people's dreams is not clear.
Moving onwards they pass through the remains of Shackleford, a village destroyed by the walking dead. Among the dead they find two spirits- two lovers, Malcolm and Judy. Malcolm was a member of the Temple of Ash who came to Shackleford to defend it; Judy was the village headman's daughter. They died in the defence of the two before they could be joined in love- and now they are seeking to possess two people to be able to say their goodbyes before passing into the Burned Realm. Lazarus discusses things with them, and ends up performed a marriage ceremony on them before giving the Last Rites, uniting them in death.
They move on to the Whistful City, where they deal with all the typically harmless Whistful City inhabitants (over-thorough body searches by gate guards, purveyors of weasels, random Light mystics proclaiming "you're doing what my sister wants") and also a group of Innocence cultists who try to stop them, crying out that the party is performing an assault on their goddess before attacking them with poisoned daggers.
Leaving the Whistful City, the party search for the Singing Crocus. Nearing its locale, they find a group of trogs attacking a young lady with no memories, who steals some of Tarich's before running off. They kill most of the trogs (Tarich keeps one as a pet) and the maiden, and then meet another lady. This one is older, and haggard, and touches Lazarus before being cut down. Lazarus "remembers" the time he killed his husband- despite being fairly sure he never had a husband. Vine then finds the Singing Crocus, which is the only plant of its kind in existence and constantly sings a wordless tune of incredible beauty. Vine picks it, giving cuttings to Tarich and Jara, and grinds it up. It screams, and falls silent.
He then leads them to the Peak of Memory, fighting their way through Abominable Snowmen to get to the waterfall on the far side of the Peak. The water in this waterfall "falls" up the slope instead of down. It is an impressive sight and, Vine warns them, a dangerous one. The waterfall is created by the forgotten memories of the world, gathering and sweeping up towards the peak. Those touched by its water (as Lazarus is) as Vine carefully takes a sample with a long-handled pan often have vitally important memories that weren't theirs implanted into them- Lazarus suddenly knows the address of an attractive young lady that an unfortunate man in the City of Silk had forgotten.
The party follow Vine onwards. And encounter a squad of soldiers from the Black Sword of Hope, who tell them to turn back as the mountains aren't safe, and are now out of bounds to travellers. The party discuss the situation, and backtrack to find a way around the blockade. As they do this, they hit a storm and are attacked by snowriders.
Vine leads them on to Dream-Bridge, where they see a person sitting cross-legged and rocking backwards and forwards. Vine makes a slightly confused explanation to the party that the man is a dream-avatar of some aspect of his personality he must destroy before creating the potion, walks across Dream-Bridge, and pushes the person off. Some nearby Dream-Catchers, seeing this, swoop down to attack the party and Vine, calling them murderers. The party now fall into debate- it seems that if the Dream-Catchers are right, Vine has just killed a person, not a dream-vision. They recover the body, and Lazarus speaks to its spirit. After a rather confusing conversation, Lazarus decides the person was a mystic from the Whistful City named Foxworthy Potts, who was possibly a worshipper of Innocence, and probably was not a dream spirit. This news leads to much debate- clearly Vine is lying to them about at least some things, and they have helped him commit murder. Finally, they decide to let him complete the process and then to hand him over to the authorities as soon as they return to the White City.
They search for Innocence. On the way, they are attacked by some strange cultists of Tears-As-Fire led by a man with glowing purple eyes, who wants the potion to "purify" their god. They kill them, and Brother Jara cuts out his eyes and keeps them.
Eventually, they find Innocence. She is in a flighty mood, and so Vine tells the party to keep her entertained whilst he completes the making of the potion- stressing to them that the potion will not hurt her. It proves difficult to entertain Innocence, but the party make some good efforts until suddenly she gives a massive scream, casts Oneirophobia on Lazarus, and runs away. Vine meanwhile staggers up triumphantly, proclaims the potion complete, and also tries to run away. The party restrain him, so in desperation he Calls Forth The Ashen Cloud to try and escape. Sadly this doesn't work, and the party knock him unconscious, search his body and chain him up, taking the potion and his notes for themselves as well as a potion against Chain sorcery he was carrying. When he comes round they question him, discovering that he learnt necromancy in order to call up spirits to study for the purposes of his alchemical research and was planning on selling fakes of the potion to the highest bidders for vast sums of money, before drinking the real potion himself so that everyone would forgive him for swindling them. The party debate taking him back to the White City to face justice, but decide that trying to escort a prisoner all that way will be too much trouble - so Lazarus enthusiastically executes him and takes his head.
Debate ensues about what to do with the potion. Tarich and Leonardo insist that the party try to return it to Innocence in hopes of restoring whatever part of her essence it stole from her, but despite Tarich's tracking skills and Jara's knowledge of the mountains her trail proves all but impossible to follow. There is then considerable disagreement over who the potion should be given to - Carding, the College, the Cult of Innocence, the Temple of Ashes, the White City authorities - and eventually the general consensus is to head to the White City so the four adventurers can present their case to Rebecca De Courci and let her decide.
They leave the mountains without any particular troubles, and eventually get to the lands of the Three Rivers. Where they find another roadblock led by a living dead captain- this one also has two poltergeists, which the exorcists destroy. This roadblock is generally more aggressive than the first, not wanting to do any bag searching or negotiation but just to kill everyone who stands in their way and take the potion off them. This doesn't work, and they are cut down. The party proceed to the White City
As they near the Northern Watchtower, they find the survivors of Shackleford. They are very, very hungry. It appears the Necromancer has put a terrible curse upon them, which is turning them into ghouls. No food tastes right to them, but the adventurers (covered as they are with injuries and wearing blood-soaked clothes) all seem to smell of fine steak... Lazarus realises what must have happened, and promises to lead them to the Temple of Ash.
Once they get to the city, while the rest of the party are busy delivering the unwitting ghouls and Vine's head to the Temple of Ashes, Brother Jara subtly switches Vine's Potion and a normal healing potion, and takes Vine's to a Low Guard representative like Carlos de Mamushi told him to.
Entering the city, they proceed to the Temple of Ash so Lazarus can drop off the unwitting ghouls and Vine's head. They are then heading to the Governor's Palace, when they meet the merchant who hired them, Michael Carding. He seems unamused at the idea of taking the potion to the Governor, and insists they hand it over to him as originally planned. The party refuse. After some debate, Carding unleashes an ambush of King Eric's Men. In the resulting brawl, Lazarus Calls Forth The Ashen Cloud. Brother Jara and two of King Eric's Men are outside the area of effect, and Jara runs away pursued by the criminals. After the Cloud disperses and a quick bit of negotiation as the party reveal Jara had the potion and has fled with it, the leader of the squad of King Eric's Men, Jimmy the Rat, suggests an alliance between them to hunt down Brother Jara. Healing potions are poured down the throats of anyone almost dead. Then the High Guard turned up, sent by Brother Jara. Arrests are avoided by the presence of Leonardo Velasquez and some quick talking by
Jimmy the Rat James Ratford. The party disperse, muttering darkly about Brother Jara.
Adventure Consequences: Brother Jara stays with the Cloistered Brethren for quite a while. He makes contact with Carlos, and manages to arrange a meeting. Following this, Carlos presents Rebecca with an entirely different potion (keeping the Elixir of Innocence for himself) and explains almost everything to her. Rebecca then sends a letter of thanks to all the adventurers, saying Brother Jara has explained the situation to her. This makes them a bit less angry with Jara.
Rebecca has a private meeting with High Captain Matteus De Almedia.
Leonardo Velasquez loans Vine's notes to the College of the Thousand Arts, at Tarich's request. He keeps a copy of them.
Carlos gets the Elixir of Innocence. The precise effects of drinking this are left to the discretion of the LARPO and/or the GM who is running the LARP where it gets drunk. The Elixir was described as "bestowing universal forgiveness on the drinker"; the GM's suggestion is that everybody who that PC has wronged will justify forgiving him/her by whatever means are easiest (and whatever means impact their personal beliefs the least). For example, if Stephano drank it, rather than everybody in the world accepting necromancy in his case and nobody else's, it might become common knowledge that he'd had his Will Bound by a Chain Mage necromancer and been forced to learn it against his will.
Captain Matteus is given two potions, marked 'A' and 'B', and instructed that when captured, Stephano is to be executed (after he is no longer Condemned by Ash) by feeding him first potion A, then potion B. If he is Commended to Ash, potion A and then B are to be poured over his remains.
Run by Joff & Vicky on 27th July 2006 (a Saturday in the summer vacation)
Players: Thalia (Laura), Morgock Sarm (Rich), Arashi Moriyama (Vicky)
Mission Brief: A call for bounty hunters and assassins goes out from the City of Silk.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: pending.
Heart of Glass
Run by Vicky & Ellie on 5th August 2006 (a Saturday in the summer vacation)
Players: Paulo (Tom), Ulf (James F), Marco (Joff), Rhiannon Slater (Ann), Bottle (Joe W)
Mission Brief: A group of adventurers, led by Paulo, set out to heal the Great Western Forest of its madness.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: The spirit appears to be healed and a sense of calm has come over the forest. It is pretty much like someone recovering from an illness, on the mend but still weakened from the disease. There may well still be isolated patches still infected with glass. Redbridge is, however, still suffering from the effects of the glass infestation. Paulo having rejected the Lady of Blood and Wine's offer has made his way to the Perfidious Tower, where he is offered lodging by the servants (although the Necromancer herself appears absent). Bottle and Ulf return to the White City, where they are regarded with quiet respect by Priest's of the Old Powers. Marco and Rhi are entertained by the Lady's escort and wake up exceptionally hung over three days later in a clearing in the Great Forest. They make their way home to the White City largely unmolested.
Run by James W & Joe W on 2nd September 2006 (a Saturday in the summer vacation)
Players: Captain Ambriel Chermes (Helen), Kratos (Rich), ??? (Andrew C), Serafine (Laura)
Mission Brief: A group of foolhardy adventurers, led by the d'Artois Serafine and Philippe, enter the Port of Glass and Flame in an attempt to tame the Labyrinth of Selves and recover the Ducal signet rings.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: The Labyrinth of Self has been slain, and the Ducal Palace is now - for the most part - safe. Over time, it reverts to the way it was. Squads of Obsidian Guard are sent in to clear out the last few Splinter-Men, and Belor de Velland moves in.
Phillipe D'Artois has, in order to slay the Labyrinth, abandoned his identity. He is no longer remembered as being Phillipe D'Artois. From his mannerisms, it is apparent that he is - or once was - a noble. People who knew him before still recognise him as a friend, and may remember past encounters with him, but nobody can determine who he is.
The Ducal Signet Rings have been recovered. Karl D'Artois continues to lay the plans for the third revolution in the Port of Glass. When the time is right, they will move...
The PCs have the eternal gratitude of the Broken Moon, and 40 Hexa a head. Kratos has a statuette of the King in Fragments.
???? has assassinated Ambassador Bernardo in his study and fled the White City. (I seem to recall he Commended him to Ash; if this is the case, ???? has lost his ordination.) He is wanted by the Broken Moon Embassy and - technically - by the White City, although the Embassy are being a lot more enthusiastic about hunting him down than the High Guard. The hunt for ???? is hindered by the fact that nobody knows his name.
Run by Rich & Helen on 16th September 2006 (a Saturday in the summer vacation)
Players: Carmina Curiana, "Ripper" Bill MacKenzie, Diego, Inigo Montoya, Winzel, Roland the Smug
Mission Brief: Carmina Curiana and a group of associates attempt to track down the old Duke, Lemuel d'Artois, and destroy him.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: pending.
Run by Matt H, Vicky & James F on the evening of 16th September 2006 (A Saturday in the summer vacation)
A sequel to "Salvage Rites".
Players: Serafine D'Artois (Laura), Fal-Kar De Almedia (Rich), Dante De Almedia (Chris V), 'Ripper' Bill Mackenzie (James W), Carmina Curiana (Vicky), Arashi Moriyama (Vicky), Edwin Lunn (Andrew Currall), Jenevieve Velasquez (Jenni H), Sir Carlos de Mamushi (Joe W), Dr. Edward Holtz (Joe W), Teresa De Courci (Helen W), Federico Velasquez (Joff), Lord Sebastian de Fideli (Joff), Sir Pedoran of the Shining Order (Peter R), Francesco di Vert (Matt R)
NPCs: Prince Roderigo Mor (Dom), Bea (Jenni H), Sycorax, The Witch (Lucy), Nerino Velasquez (James F), Obeserver Yu of the Shengzhi (James F), Oliviero Cristofori (James W), Svetlana Cristofori (Tracey), William Brazen (Ben), Irabella Freece (Laura), Gerran Bellart (Matt H), Brother Gideon Anders (Matt H), Johann Ivanescu (Tristram), Helena D'Edibri (Vicky), Halam Aziri, Ambassador of the City of Lights (Wart), Lady Asuga Souritsa, Ambassador of the Verdant City (Amy), Silys Khala aka Rashamaya, Midnight's Voice (Ellie), Prince Aresh Sadye, Ambassador of the City of Ash and Iron (Joe R), Malik de Janin (Helen W)
Mission Brief: A group of dignitaries meet in Crossroads to greet the first Ambassadors from the mysterious Eastern Kingdoms in living memory.
Adventure Summary: It begins when a merchant returns to the City of Crossroads from a long journey in the remote Kingdoms of the East, and brings the most surprising news. For the first time in recorded history, three of the Kingdoms are sending ambassadors to the West, and desire to be met by representatives of the western cities. Before long, further travellers confirm that the ambassadors are indeed on the road, and expect to arrive in Crossroads within weeks. The Cloistered Bretheren of Chains and the Governor of Crossroads fly into a flurry of preparation, and invitations are issued to the other cities to send forth their representatives to meet the easterners. Dignitaries, scoundrels of noble blood, and powerful sorcerers all travel to Crossroads. The City's Civic Festhall is changed by the people of Crossroads into a place of palatial splendour, and is bound about by a great Chain, enchanted by the Bretheren to bind all magic and to turn all harm back upon its perpetrators. And on the appointed day, a vast caravan arrives from the eastern plains, and the Ambassadors announce their arrival...
The first is Halam Aziri, who has travelled from the City of Lights, representing the King Who Waits, a tyrant who is apparently a chain sorcerer and practitioner of unordained ash magic.
The second is Lady Asuga Souritsa, who has travelled from the Verdant City. She represents the Crimson Queen, a long-lived Blood Sorceress who is preserved by the practice of human sacrifice in her name.
With Lady Souritsa travels Lady Khala. Seemingly a charming if naive young woman, she is in truth a disguise for the creature Rashamaya, Midnight's Voice, one of a race of dragons from the far east.
The third of the ambassadors is Prince Aresh Sadye, from the City of Ash and Iron. He is the son and ambassador of the Unnamed King, a name sorcerer who styles himself Emperor of the New World.
With the Prince travels Lord Malik de Janin, a genuinely naive and rather lovely young man.
The Western Cities have a diverse range of representatives. Queen Marianna Mor of the City of Silk has sent her nephew, the charming Prince Roderigo, and a pair of sorceresses. The City of Crossroads has represented itself with its governor, the merchant and adventurer Edwin Lunn, and some extremely shady characters. The Exalted Church of the Light sends a pair of knights who start the evening exuding cold bigotry and end it drunkenly cursing the Church and everyone else, much to their superior's embarrassment. And the White City send a large delegation including representatives of each major Family and several powerful adventurers. Even the Glass-sorcerers of the Isle of the Broken Moon are (unofficially) represented by Serafine D'Artois.
East and West meet. Schemes are hatched, bargains struck, and lies told. Diplomatic incidents are narrowly avoided, and the miraculous Steelsilk is the subject of many discussions. Prince Roderigo Mor unleashes a veritable epic ballad of lies that leaves him an advantageous position, and the De Almedia family somewhat poorer.
Each Eastern nation wants to set up an embassy, but each has an unreasonable request. The City of Lights wants to be able to practice unordained Ash magic within its embassy; the Verdant City want to perform human sacrifices to their Queen; and the City of Ash and Iron want to perform Name magic within their embassy. The easterners cause consternation with their noble's attitude that unordained ash magic is acceptable 'within limits'. Perhaps miraculously, no major wars break out. Bill Mackenzie is also in attendance. And by the end of the evening, a number of interesting things have happened.
Adventure Consequences: The Verdant City has agreed to exchange embassies with The Cities of Silk and Crossroads, and the White City. The City of Lights has agreed to exchange embassies with Crossroads, and will be setting up an unofficial embassy to the Cloistered Bretheren of Chains in the White City, in a house owned by Nerino Velasquez.
The steelsilk trade undergoes some interesting changes. Steelsilk trade to the east has slightly expanded, with a legitimate trading operation run by Observer Yu, Edwin Lunn, Svetlana Cristofori and Dante De Almedia trading to everyone in the East, and a rather more dodgy operation run by Fal-Kar via the South Seas trading mostly to the City of Ash and Iron. However, supply is hampered by Prince Roderigo Mor obstructing De Almedia gathering and processing operations in the forest, while blandly assuring everyone that the situation is totally out of his - or the De Almedia's - control.
All this could change if the Velasquez and/or the De Courci manage to remove the Black Flame from the Heart of the Forest. Either or both of those will then have the Prince's cooperation in starting up steelsilk operations of their own. The Velasquez will trade to the City of Lights (probably via Crossroads), the De Courci will trade to the Verdant City, hopefully via a trail to be established by Edwin Lunn. Both of the relevant Cities will, in this case, believe they have an exclusive agreement.
For the moment, though, it is the otherwise ostracised City of Ash and Iron that gets the sweetest deal on the steelsilk.
Carlos de Mamushi has successfully infiltrated Low Guard agents into a number of places in the Eastern Kingdoms. These have not been detected, as far as they know.
Nerino Velasquez will shortly be undertaking a journey to the East.
There are a number of threats emerging to the De Almedia steelsilk trade. These include the antipathy of Prince Roderigo Mor.
A mission is in preparation to remove the Black Flame from the Heart of the Western Forest.
It appears that there are a number of Dragons residing in the far East. They seem to be related in some way to the dragons of the Great Forest, with whom they are eager to make contact.
The Precious One
Blessed are the Broken
Run by Laura & Xan on 30th September 2006 (A Saturday in the summer vacation)
A sequel to "Red Over White".
Players: "Ripper" Bill McKenzie (James W), Yana (Ellie), Ulf (James F), Adi (Jessie), Sebastian de Fideli (Joff)
Mission Brief: Some twenty months ago Bill McKenzie, Jared, Reimus Velasquez, Ryn Coth & Shenya Cristofori were hired by Vincenzi Velasquez to travel to Redbridge, a small village of humans and Vinechildren nestled in the dpeths of the Great Forest, run by a priestesss of the Lady of Blood & Wine named Belladonna and famed for its fine wines. Nothing had been heard from the village for some weeks and worrying visions had been received from the Lady concerning the area's condition.
They found the land surrounding the village tainted by Glass and full of dangers, the village itself besieged by horrors, and at the area's centre a place of power, a crystal cave in which they faced and slew a Glass sorceror - but not before he could complete his plan of sacrificing Belladonna so that her living dead body might become a vessel for the Absent Lord. The Vitriarch departed into the tainted Forest and the surviving adventurers fled back to the White City.
Since then the Glassy taint has been slowly but inexorably spreading. Now Bill, the only member of the original party still alive, has gathered a new group of adventurers to battle their way to the taint's heart and do something about it... but are they the only one's with an interest in what's happening there?
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: All of the surviving PCs have had their skin burnt away and renewed, erasing all their old scars, blemishes, tattoos, etc.
Yana's curse has now been removed, her arachnine left hand is normal and human again.
Adi receives the Blessing of the Lady of Battles for her part in laying Ryn Coth's spirit to rest, giving her the endurance to fight on where others would fall.
Captain "Ripper" Bill McKenzie is never seen again after throwing his ritually marked and mutilated body off the waterfall. His friends throw a suitably impressive wake for him back at the White City. What happens to the Inferno remains to be seen.
An area of the Great Forest just under four days' march across is burnt clean by blood-red fire, destroying everything that lay within the Glass-tainted area around Redbridge and the crystal cave, leaving only bare scorched earth with a river of blood running through it. As the party traipse back towards the White City, the heavens open and give vent to a torrential downpour lasting a solid day, churning the earth into black mud. Almost as soon as the rain clears, the river runs fresh again and the first healthy green shoots of new growth can be seen poking through the surface, especially in the areas Adi & Ulf have encouraged with Blood of the Soil.
The crystal cave is now open to the sky, with the river running straight through it. Ulf builds a cairn of stones in the centre of the pool at the base of the waterfall, and places Bill's severed right hand at its apex. The hand remains as fresh as when it was newly severed and continues to drip blood, staining the stones of the cairn red. It will eventually be noticed that those who drink of the water for some miles downstream, human and animal alike, are exceptionally strong, healthy and quick-tempered.
Ulf and Adi help encourage new growth in the cleansed area. Ulf sets himself up as the area's custodian, and Vincenzi sends a few of his Bloodwolves to help look after it. After spending some weeks Consecrating the land to the Lord and Lady of the Pack, Ulf will be encouraging people (fur traders, foresters, herbalists, coppicers...) to come into the area, as long as they leave the bodies of anything killed for the animals of the forest, don't do stuff excessively and don't hurt infants. He invests a significant sum of money in these trades - they won't exactly be booming at first, but he hopes they'll become profitable in time. He will strongly discourage permanent settlement by humans/Vinechildren/satyrs/etc. inside the Redbridge area. Living on the edge and travelling inside is better. He wants it to be mainly for the animals, the wolves/deer/hogs/bears.
Gold Rush! - AKA Talk is Cheap
Run by Julian & Jen on 7th October 2006 (A Saturday in the summer vacation)
Players: Bottle (Joe W), Edwin Lunn (Andrew C), Jenevieve Velasquez (Jenni), Marcus (Gareth), Ulf (James F), Rupert Locke (Jawes W), Anaximander (Peter M)
Mission Brief: GOLD! Excitement sweeps the streets of the White City - there are riches to be made! News has arrived that the hills west of Belor's Folly are filled chock-full of the shiny stuff, and swarms of eager miners and adventurers are heading west to milk the mighty udders of this new cash-cow. It is amidst this excitement that several of the White City's inhabitant's receive visitors...
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: 1) The White City is discomfited by the policies of Mayor Marco, and is considering removing him from governorship of Belor's Folly.
2) No alliance has been forged between Belor's Folly and the Western empires, leaving it with miserably few allies.
3) The City of Silk is coming to resent the presence of Belor's Folly in land it considers to belong to it, and has set up watch-towers on the Great Road to extract taxes from merchants. The White City does not agree with this.
4) The government of the City of Silk has heard that Marco is seeking alliances with Namers. They are now eager to replace the government of Belor's Folly with one more well-disposed to the City of Silk.
The Bird Charmers
Run by Vicky & Tom on 14th October 2006 (Saturday 0th Week, Michaelmas Term)
Part one of the "Tough on Glass, Tough on the Causes of Glass" Campaign.
Players: Ian Bracket (James W), Dante de Almedia (Chris V), Enrico Cristofori (Fed), Miranda (Jessie), James Coin (Andrew C), Azuma (Matt H), Anaxamander - RIP (Peter M)
Mission Brief: Over the past few months the Temple of Ash and the Exalted Church of the Light have become increasingly worried. They have been notably in quiet negotiation with Rebecca De Courci. Those in the know will realise that they have become disturbed by the actions of the Necromancer-Glass Sorceror, Selena Curiana, and the risk to the souls of the departed caused by the infestation of the Burned Realm, the land of the dead, by the maddening and corrupting influence of glass magic.
To the North the adventurers and traders alike report that Three Rivers seems to have been building up more Undead and Apprentices than have been seen of recent years. They say hat even he fears the vitrification of the Burned Realm.
To the South, in the Garden Lands, reports that the Necromancer is spreading her influence are growing daily. Rumours abound that former White City Priest of the late Lord of the Gardens, Porostock Talma, has turned traitor and signed up with the Necromancer and is now leading an assault on the lands of the Bodach. That without aid the Bodach will be wiped out. Rumours abound that the Necromancer has created something terrible in the Broken Garden, which threatens the eternal rest of all.
In the Port of Glass and Flame, Lord Protector Belor de Velland along with his wife Lady Lydia De Courci, dressed in all their finery, announce that they are to hold a grand festival for the citizens of the port.
In the Breathing Isles, Pirates and Merchants return with sightings of twisted and hideous creatures inhabiting one of the islands.
In the Temple of Ash in the White City, a quietly concerned High Priest of the Lord of the Faithful reveals that he has been granted financing by Rebecca De Courci for a number of missions of greatest import.
After much debate it has been agreed that the Shining Order along with the High Guard are willing to spare a number of troops and military supplies to hold back Porostock Talma's forces and save the Bodach. Unfortunately the Bodach are known for their stubborness and wariness of humans. Therefore the Temple has put up an offer of 30Hx each for a group of adventurers to go and negatiate with the Bodach and persuade them to seek white city aid.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: On their way out of the garden lands the party meet with the promised high guard and shining order soldiers who promise they will try and avoid stepping on the flowers, probably. The party return to the white city and the temple of ash to collect their rewards. News is heard back from the garden lands that the minions of Porostock Talma are being beaten back in places but in other areas the Bodach are still suffering badly. Rumours of something come to light in the depths of the Perfidious Garden that is influencing the fight.
Days of Wine and Roses
Run by Matt H & Peter on 21st October 2006 (Saturday 2nd Week, Michaelmas Term)
Players: Tarich (Tom), Morgock Sarm (Rich), Styx (Darren), Enrico Cristofori (Fed), Jenevieve Velasquez (Jenni), Dante de Almedia (Chris V)
Mission Brief: With steelsilk production mysteriously declining in the entirety of the De Almedia estates, the family is particularly concerned about the fall in deliveries from a remote silk-gathering station manned by one Roberto De Almedia and the Silver Woods weaver tribe. Rumours abound of battles in that part of the forest, and activity by a cult dedicated to the Rose Princess of the West. In the City of Silk, the family puts out the call for adventurers to travel into the forest and render Roberto any necessary aid. Pay will be 30Hx each.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: Roberto De Almedia has been discovered to be a horrible evil necromancer who was shipping steelsilk to Three Rivers. Fortunately both him and his undead weavers, vinechild-ghouls and wind mage-necromancers have been dispatched. The remains of the vinechild and weaver tribes begin to resettle the area. The De Almedias send out a new representative to run the gathering station.
The potentially scandalous (for the De Almedia) events in the Silver Woods lands are largely kept secret by the party, the family, and the Temple of Ashes. Jenevieve Velasquez has told both Prince Roderigo Mor and Nerino Velasquez. They both choose to keep it under their hats, for now.
Dante has handed over an unvitrified red rose from the Perfidious Garden, apparently a gift from Three Rivers to Roberto, to the Temple of Ashes.
Run by Vicky & Matt H on 28th October 2006 (Saturday 3rd week, Michaelmas term)
Part two of the "Tough on Glass, Tough on the Causes of Glass" Campaign, a sequel to "The Bird Charmers".
Players: ??? - formerly Philippe d'Artois (Andrew C), Miranda (Jessie), Teresa de Courci (Helen W), Francesco di Vert - RIP (Matt R), Diego (Joe W), ??? (Andrew P)
Mission Brief: The word goes out that the Exalted Church of the Light and the Temple of Ash are looking to hire some adventurers to go investigate rumours of strange happenings on the Breathing Isles. Those in the know hear reports of pirates and merchants sighting strange things of Ash and Glass in the deep south. In the Temple of Ash it is whispered that the High Priest has a special task for one of their number, a young ash sorceror of some note whose name no-one can seem to recall.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: The Gardener of Red Roses, along with a number of Ashen Guardians, are healed and returned to the burned realm. The gate on the blessed isle (indeed the very same as the one from Death and the Maiden) is for all intents and purposes been closed off. Dart has earned the quiet respect of his superiors. A few weeks after the end of the adventure scholars from the Temple of Ash claim to report that a few individual rose bushes, not yet blooming, appear to have turned up in the patch of ash in the Burned Realm where the Perfidious Garden used to be.
The Order of the Rose
Run by Joff & Matt H on 4th November 2006 (Saturday 4th Week, Michaelmas Term)
Players: Carlos de Mamushi (Joe W), Gex the Ratcatcher (Rich), Leonardo Velasquez (Gareth), ??? (James W), Observer Yu (James F), Bairoth (Peter), Miranda (Jessie), others?
Mission Brief: Lord Carlos de Mamushi, on hearing that the last of the D'Artois family are due to be executed in the Port of Glass and Flame - and that the famous loyalist known as the Crimson Rose is presumed dead - leads a daring covert rescue mission into the heart of De Velland's Port itself.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: There are no now members of the D'Artois family alive in the Port, as far as anyone knows.
The executions failed to happen as promised, all the guards and guests from the party at the mansion were 'exposed as traitors, crystal vessels of the old regime and members of the illegal organisation known as the Order of the Rose' and executed instead, but it just wasn't the same, and the rumblings of discontent took many weeks and a tightening of Belor's grip on the city to die down. Too many incidents like this are not good for a freshly installed dictator.
The Crimson Rose and his fearless compatriots, their task complete, were never heard from again.
Roses are Red
Run by Vicky & Fed on 11th November 2006 (Saturday 5th Week, Michaelmas Term)
Players: Lord Belric Luxfrey (RIP) (James F), Lord Fal-Kar de Almedia (Rich), Captain Ambriel Chermes (Helen W), Lord Sebastian de Fideli (Joff), Markos (Gareth), Lieutenant Tristram Silke (James F)
Mission Brief: The temple of Ash have heard rumours that the Necromancer, Selena Curiana is not in her residence currently and have seen this as a perfect opportunity to send in a recconaisance mission to find out more about her capabilities. Those in the know will have heard rumour that there is more to this mission than meets the eye.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: The gate in the Perfidious Garden is closed off. This happens only shortly after the diplomatic mission from the Garden Lands returns, see the Bird Charmers LARP. The tide of the war starts to turn and Selena's minions are beginning to be beaten back into their own territory, with the help of the reinforcements the Bodach are beginning to hold their ground.
The remains of the Necromancer returned to the temple of ash, confirm his identity as the treacherous former Priest of the Lord of the Gardens, Porostock Talma.
Sebastien de Fideli has been saved from the shattered plain by the light, for reasons of its own. He now has the burned mark of the sun across his cheast. This can be removed by a blood blessing but he gets the impression that that would severely offend the light.
Sebastien is also spotted in the Black Griffin carrying an animate skull, with whiter than white teeth. After getting outrageously drunk (which shouldn't be technically possible) and leering at some of the more attractive young ladies he is taken back to the temple of ash. He is then commended to ash and given the last rites, presumably passed on to his final rest.
Ambriel, rather less fortunate, will notice over the next few days the tattoo of a red rose, torn up by the roots appear on her right arm with the word treachery written underneath. Similarly on her left arm is the same in black, with the word folly underneath. In game terms she will have an occassional physical compulsion to do treacherous things with her right arm and foolish with her left. This is mostly a roleplaying thing and can generally be resisted, albeit with a little difficulty.
Belric's signet ring is returned to his family, along with the letters found on his body. These are delivered, including one to Adanamoay with a note enclosed that he died whilst striking a blow against Selena Curiana. The letters declare that one of Lord Luxfreys nephews will be his heir and given Arbella is missing in action and Solric has cut all ties to the nobility, this seems to be the intention. Should Arbella return, then legally speaking she will be considered the heir, how this resolves remains to be seen.
Run by Jen & Rich on 18th November 2006 (Saturday 6th Week, Michaelmas Term)
Players: Enrico "Flash" Cristofori (Fed), Jenevieve Velasquez (Jenni), Arashi Moriyama (Vicky), Michael Bannor (Mike), Azuma (Matt H)
Mission Brief: A group of young nobles go for a day's hunting in the Western Forest during which surely nothing will go wrong.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: pending.
Faith and the Fallen
Run by Vicky & Andrew C on 25th November 2006 (Saturday 7th Week, Michaelmas Term)
Players: Carlos de Mamushi (Joe W), Tommy Truebreath (Matt H), Harriet Pinter (Ellie), Bairoth (Peter), Adi (Jessie).
Mission Brief: A group of adventurers head into the Burned Realm to heal the Lord of the Faithful of his glass infestation. The party is nominally headed by the Temple's representative, Harriet Pinter, but it seems that Rebecca is sending along her own representative as well. It is publically known that the Temple of Ash is looking to hire mercenaries and adventurers for an extremely important mission, although the specifics themselves are being kept under wraps..
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: All except Carlos have sworn oaths to keep secret the specifics of how the Lord of the Faithful was healed. Harriet is allowed to keep one written record. However, Bairoths ritual means that the details can be only spoken of in a whisper in dark places: an abandoned alleyway late at night, the dark corner or a noisy tavern, Carlos de Mamushi's private chambers... Actually writing it down will not be affected. The fact has been consecrated as a secret to the Hushed Princess. The Princess seems pleased with Bairoth for this.
On looking into the group of glass infested shining order that attacked them in the Burned Realm, Tommy finds out that their leader, one Jachai Brunel, was a former tutor of Carmina Curiana and that they had a serious falling out shortly after the time that Duke Lemuel disappeared. Putting this together with what Carlos knows they deduce that he has been infested by the shard of the King in Fragments that once possessed the Old Duke. On Carlos consulting with the Shining Order and Exalted church, Jachai is cast out from their ranks and rumour starts to spread that he has lost his ordination to the Light. A few hardcore followers however join him in setting up an apparent Temple to the Light as seen through glass a little way outside the city. Carlos has agreed with Tommy that he is allowed to accompany any future mission to go deal with the issue. If either wish to do any further research into this this downtime let me know but for know from Tommy's arcane lore glass they know that the best way of dealing with this would be to either kill Jachai or somehow purify him and discover a way of containing the shard.
The glass aspects have been removed from the Lord of the House of Gods and the Lord of the Faithful and gradually the infestation is being removed from their realms. In the case of the House of Gods this has come at the cost of removing his left arm at the shoulder. Bairoth still has the vitrified hand, which if he sleeps near it will having the same effects as shattered blood as he is plagued by visions of the death of gods.
Carlos still has in his possession the constantly blood dripping dagger, which was used to slay an ancient lover of the Hushed Princess. As long as he keeps it submerged in anti-blood potions it will remain benign, apart from the face of a beautiful man that he can occassionally see in the surface of the blade. He has not yet handed it over to his goddess.
The Lord of Silent Voices owes her gratitude to the party in rescuing her children from the glass monstrosity. The children are escorted back and amongst them Carlos's son is reunited with his mother. It was revealed to the party that the Lord of Silent Voices was the only burned lord yet to be infected by the taint of glass.
The party are thrown out of the Shining one's glassy domain as he is destroyed. They find themselves back in the Burned Realm. After mending their wounds a bit, Harriet opens a gate to allow the other to leave whilst she herself returns to the Lord of Grey Roses to aid the rebuilding of the Garden of Red Roses. She is given an amulet to indicate her presence in the Burned Realm is legitimate, despite the fact she is still alive. When she feels it is time for her to return to the world of the living she is to give the amulet back to the Lord of Grey Roses (OOC it is entirely up to Ellie to decide how much time Harriet wishes to remain there before returning). As well as tending to the roses she is also sent of several quests along with ashen guardians to commend some of the more mundane bits of glass and if she wishes has perfect justification for buying Survival: Burned Realm. Over the coming months she will see a marked difference in the state of the burned realm as the glass is gradually being dealt with. There may still be isolated areas infested with glass but they are just that, isolated areas.
All of the party are offered a single boon. Apart from Bairoth, who has taken his as part of the consecrated secret, they all receive the burned mark of a hound somewhere on their body, which they can use to call on the lord in a time of greater need. Bairoth is also given a red rose bud to deliver to a man named Dart in the Temple of Ash, with the message that if he takes good care of it it will one day bloom. Harriet is given a similar blossom, with the same instruction.
Carlos is told the name and location of an alchemist who can help with his "little problem". He visits the alchemist, who as well as a priest of the Lord of the Faithful, proves to be a specialist in anti glass potions. He gives him a potion to drink, which he accepts and thanks him for but has not drank yet.
Carlos has Joseph's message delivered to Jenevive Velasquez, as well as hiring a bard to sing his song to her. On hearing this she will remember him as a servant who used to work in her household and died in an accident about six months ago. He never really spoke to her but occassionally she would catch him looking at her wistfully- it is entirely up to Jenni what she makes of this. From now on whenever he picks up an instrument he will find himself able to play the song and should his throat ever be healed he feels he will also be able to sing it at will. He also finds that whenever he sings it to someone he can get his true feelings across to them with ease, especially if he is in a situation where he would normally find this difficult. He notices that as it was gifted to him it only has this effect when he plays it, he can teach it to other people but it will not have the same potency.
Don't Shoot the Messengers
Run by Xan & Laura on 2nd December 2006 (Saturday 8th week, Michaelmas term)
Players: Arashi Moriyama (Vicky), James Coin (Andrew C), Nucagrah Velasquez (Ann), Raff (Joff), Raven Blight (Joshua), Tarich (Tom), Lieutenant Tristram Silke (Bunni)
Mission Brief: During the week preceding the adventure, a Low Guard agent visits each of the PCs independently and asks if they'd be willing to spend four weeks undertaking a simple mission on behalf of the White City. Those who agree and attend the briefing will be told that the mission involves posing as a merchant's escort from the White City to just outside the Port of Glass & Flame, collecting a package from an agent there, and then discreetly carrying that package back to the Southern Watchtower. What could possibly go wrong?
Original Plot Document (.rtf file)
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: The party make their way back to the Southern Watchtower where Tristram and Coin report to their contact, the rest of the party reluctantly joining them. Here Tristram gives a full and accurate report of what happened, to the visible annoyance and discomfort of Arashi, Raff & Tarich (James Coin is still weeping ash at this point, so it's hard to tell if he's discomfited by the telling or not). Six days later, in lieu of their promised final payment (which they almost certainly wouldn't have received anyway) the party are given copies of the documents they need to fulfil their Binding Oaths to the Bodach and the Weavers.
Most of the party are now Distrusted by the Low Guard as a result of their actions on the mission, with the exception of Tristram for his honesty and Raven who we're giving the benefit of the doubt since he couldn't attend the debrief to present his case.
The curse James Coin was given as a result of breaking his Binding Oath to the Lord of the Faithful is lifted after spending a month performing services for the Temple of Ash in penance and swearing a new Binding Oath to the Lord of the Faithful that he will henceforth "Never take the name of the Lord of the Faithful in vain and never betray a party with whom I am travelling".
Adi in the Park of Darkness
Run by James F & Joe W on 9th December 2006 (Saturday 9th Week, Michaelmas Term)
Players: Adi & Paulo
Mission Brief: The College of Thousand Arts have had a series of thefts recently, of glass artefacts. Last night they reached a peak, with robberies of glass artefacts and of some very rare texts. Meanwhile, someone opened up the Department of Anomalous Zoology’s menagerie as a distraction... One of the staff of the College has recently disappeared. This is Dr Hopper, formerly one of the leading animal psychologists of of the Department of Perfectly Normal Zoology, who was studying rabbit behaviour. Reading his notes suggests he had recently gone quite, quite mad.
Adventure Summary: pending.
Adventure Consequences: Adi is praised by the College for recovering their stolen artefacts (after she's copied the information on the Namers and summoning their spirits). She has a new pet, a rather fat and stupid rabbit she calls Mr Flopsy.
After staying with Adi for a while, Paulo returns to the Perfidious Tower. He finds the zombies in a highly agitated state as they search the Broken Garden for any rabbits. In the Tower, Selena is nursing Patrick back to health with the help of lots of rabbit stew. Selena sends Paulo to the White City, with orders to kill all the rabbits in the College Gardens. He slaughters the few surviving rabbits in the Rose Garden, and blows up Dr Hopper in the Oak Warren.
The Rose Garden is now a totally desolate wasteland. Nothing will grow here. The last black rose is taken back to Selena by Paulo, as a present (which is not totally welcomed- "Are you saying I'm stupid?")
In the Port of Glass & Flame, Lady Lydia De Courci has been seen wearing a rabbit fur coat. It is, apparently, this season's must-have. However, despite Selena's demands, Lord-Protector Belor De Velland refuses to declare "National Rabbit Stew" week.
The Lord & Lady of the Pack are not fully happy with Adi's conduct or the results of her adventure, but overall the College warrens (except the slaughtered Rose Garden) are better. And so they're not unhappy, either.
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