Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Hourglass of the Silver Sands: Session 2


Joanna as Mara, Travelling Monk
Jon C as Spectre, Sorcerer Supreme
Jules as Whisper, Master Thief
Bill as Isandlwana, Travelling Matchmaker

Game Mastered by Krzyś

Release Date: 12th of November 2009

The gun shots reverberate throughout the town and are heard by a figure just on the outskirts of Daiyu. Mara, clad in the attire of a wandering monk, led by a disturbing feeling enters the town. She has to force herself not to be overwhelmed by the utterly disgusting sensation of walking through the town's air. She takes out her flute and begins to play on it to ease her nerves.

The music reaches the ears of Spectre and Isandlwana, who stop in their tracks to see where it comes from. Spectre opens his sight to the flows of Essence but cannot see anything out of the ordinary about the person. Mara comes closer to what appears as a hostage situation while the two Solars wait for what seems like an Immaculate Monk to reach them.

Meanwhile, a shadowy figure climbs up the mayor's house. He peeks into a room situated at the back of the building and finds the mayor praying over an altar in his study. He silently opens the window, walks towards the man and hits him in the head with the back of his sword. The mayor collapses with his head in the sand on the silver altar.

Whisper ties the man up and inspects the room. He finds a book with ancient symbols on it. Recalling such items can get you a nice price, he takes it with him and looks at the altar. It is made entirely of silver, two candles on each side and in the middle a bowl with the same ancient symbols drawn around it. The inner layer of it is made of silver on which sand has been put. He takes the bowl with him before looking into the desk's drawers. Within he finds a strange object, a cross between a hammer and a chain, and other torture weapons. Satisfied with his search, he wakes up the mayor and attempts to scare him with the prospect of torture but his nerves appear stronger than that of a regular person.

Outside, Isandlwana and Spectre confirm that Mara isn't an Immaculate Monk. They explain the situation and call for the mayor's attention. After not getting any reply they decide to enter but Spectre stops them to say that there is a ward in place that would go off if they were to cross the threshold. They go inside regardless.

Whisper hears a door creak at the other end of the corridor. He goes to look, after his eyes adjust to the darkness he sees a slender girl with the tail and pincers of a scorpion. He follows her as she walks towards the stairs leading down and hides on the ceiling above them.

Downstairs, the Exalts go inside. They grab the nearest oil lamp they can find and lit it. When asked, the sheriff tells them the mayor should be upstairs and the Exalts can hear the fear in his voice. They tell him to lead the way, followed by Isandlwana's prodding firewand and the other two Lawgivers. They manage to reach half the way up when a giant scorpion's tail pierces through the sheriff's body. Isandlwana jumps back, Mara shoots an arrow that turns into pure light, illuminating their surroundings for an instant before hitting the unholy creature. The firewand is raised up, a shot is given but the creature moves to the side. Seeing an opening, Whisper leaps forward, spinning through the air with both of his swords drawn. He lunges the blades through the monstrosity and into the ceiling, allowing him to stand on it.

Dropping to the stairs, he pulls his swords out of the wood. The body falls down. Spectre realises that this creature is not a spirit but a halfbreed of human and demon. The girl's last words are a terrifying shriek. Whisper rans back to the mayor, Isandlwana and Mara follow him while Spectre casually walks behind them.

When they reach the room with the mayor still tied up, Mara goes into a frenzy. She takes out her orichalcum direchain and smashes the altar with it. A dozen or so shrieks can be heard from outside all around them. Whisper goes to the window but sees nothing, Isandlwana jumps out and grabs the roof's ledge. Spectre enters the room only to see a creature much like the one before, a half-man, half-scorpion of twice the size of a human being, materialising before his very eyes.

I thought this game session would be a purely combat heavy game. As it turned out, the addition of two more Player Characters changed that and added more investigation and Player-to-Player interaction.

We also had to retcon the previous session's ending due to Nadjib not joining us. We just had Velvet Fist left at the inn guarding the deputies. It's easier than having to run a character without a sheet.

The combat that did result was very fast, as Joanna rightfully noticed. The enemy was on the level of one of the characters and against a Zenith and a sneak attack from the Night, it had little chances avoiding being killed. I was mainly hoping to poison someone, but it didn't work out. Happens...

I'm pretty happy with how this session went. The only thing that didn't work out was communication between me and Joanna. Using British Sign Language alphabet isn't working so I had to write a lot and fortunately, the other players helped repeating my words to Joanna because my accent makes it harder to read my lips. I will just write a lot and use a pen this time, I have no idea why I kept using the pencil...

Next session I'll try to get a grid map or just blank sheets of paper to draw the map of the area. I'd like the combat here to be really epic and I do expect a lot of questions as to who is where and how far. A map usually helps a lot in those cases...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Hourglass of the Silver Sands: Session 1


Nadjib as Velvet Fist, Ex-Prostitute Martial Arts Mistress
Jon C as Spectre, Sorcerer Supreme
Bill as Isandlwana, Travelling Matchmaker

Game Mastered by Krzyś

Release Date: 5th of November 2009

The day started with Velvet Fist, Isandlwana, Spectre and their companions entering the town of Maret. They found it completely destroyed. The stench of death surrounded the whole place. There were bodies and dried blood on the streets and in the houses.

It was then that Velvet Fist found a man who did not die yet. She asked him who is responsible for this.

"The Whirlwind," were his last words.

Velvet Fist stood up and shouted out to the Heavens that he who is responsible for this massacre will be punished, then she took off towards where the trail led her. Her mentor followed her grudgingly.

In order to decipher how this tragedy came to be, Spectre examined the bodies while Isandlwana looked at the footprints left in the sand. She concluded that such footwork could belong to either a group of people of similar build or to one person possessing incredible speed. Spectre noted that many of the bodies where either cut with such a force that even bone shattered when the blade came through or cut several times in the blink of an eye. Other findings were that judging by their clothes, they were attacked at night, most likely two days ago, many tried to flee but they were also killed. Only their livestock was spared, whether by intent or having run away was unclear. Meanwhile, Isandlwana checked the trail leading out and into Maret to see how many travellers passed in the recent days, it seemed like only one person on horseback came in and left about two days ago.

Spectre tried to find if there is any specific pattern to the killings by putting rocks where the bodies were found. He noticed that the rocks vibrated and moved slightly when placed so he opened his eyes to the patterns of Essence. He saw that Maret was built on the crossing of powerful Dragon Lines. They have not been tapped but had a thin layer of silver sand on it.

The Lawgivers and their servants prepared a funeral pyre and as it burned, they set off to follow the trail going in the direction of a town about two days away.

On their journey they discussed what the motive behind this crime could be and speculated whether a geomantic plot was in operation. One that could perhaps change the nature of the energy flow, giving it a deathly taint, and if repeated at other important foci, it would be possible to achieve some large-scale sorcerous effect.

Fortunately for Velvet Fist, who had wandered off the trail, they caught up with her on their second day of travel. They reached the town of Daiyu when it shortly after nightfall. Spectre looked at the essence patterns within the town and noticed it was all covered in silver sand. Even the air itself had them floating around. He decided to look around Daiyu's perimeter while the other two went to warn the mayor of the slaughter.

When hearing the news of what happened to Maret, Isandlwana realised the man was feigning surprise. She was unable to draw any more information out of him. He did offer them to stay at the inn for the night, as a way of thanking them for the warning, but Isandlwana knew he merely wanted them to stay in one place. Confident in their ability to overcome the threat, they went to the inn.

On their way there, Velvet Fist made a speech to inform everyone of the faith of their neighbouring town and that they have nothing to fear for that tragedy won't be repeated here. An old lady raced out of a nearby house, shouting "Sun-born!" and pointing her finger at her. A man in his mid-years run out of the house soon after, apologising he took his mother back to the house. Velvet Fist knocked on their door, the man greeted her and apologised again, saying that his mother has become a little nuts in her old years. The sound of fists bashing the floor was coming from upstairs. After an unsuccessful attempt to seduce the man, Velvet Fist returned to accompany Isandlwana to the inn.

Meanwhile, Spectre's search proved slightly fruitless. There was no source to the unnatural silver sands, they merely seemed to have been put there by someone and slightly tainted the local Dragon Lines. The other thing he noticed was how the townsfolk were not alarmed by the presence of a strange robed figure walking through the night at all.

Ending his survey, he was nearly ambushed by a thug. Fortunately, his bodyguard was fast enough to knock him out before the thug had any chance to hurt Spectre. Spectre told his bodyguard to carry the man and they entered the inn with a very drunk (already!) friend. They sat down at the table occupied by the other Solars and began discussing what to do with him when he woke up.

Not long into the discussion, the place quieted as the law-enforcers entered. The sheriff ordered everyone to leave the premises but not the Solars. He demanded their arrest. He claimed they have attacked the man sitting next to them, hitting him unconscious and dragging all the way here. The Solars demanded witnesses, to which the sheriff replied he has more than enough and he can take the Exalts to them.

Impatient as they are, the sheriff's assistants reach for their flamepieces but they were too slow. The Sheriff found himself staring at the inside of Isandlwana's firewand while the rest stood there in silence. A shot was fired at Velvet Fist, who dodged out of the way with preternatural grace while Spectre turned the table on its side and hid behind it with his bodyguard.

Another shot was fired at the ceiling as Velvet Fist's sashes spun around the weapons, taking them away from their hands. The sheriff tried to grab the firewand in order to wrestle it out of Isandlwana's hands but instead she hit him with firedust hidden in her sleeve. She quickly took his gun and used it to put a display of fire-breathing in hopes they would mistake them for Terrestrials.

Having disarmed the entire watch, Spectre and his bodyguard escorted the law-enforcers. As they walked out, they noticed a lone sniper taking aim at them. Velvet Fist threw a fan at him but he crouched and she only hit the building. After the fan returned to her, Isandlwana reasoned with the man by using a firewand aimed at him and flamepieces aimed at his fellow officers. His weapon dropped to the ground shortly thereafter.

The Exalts decided it would be easier if Velvet Fist and Spectre's bodyguard were to stay behind with the sheriff's deputies while Spectre and Isandlwana set off to have words with the mayor.

It is strange how sessions go. I planned for the players to begin in Daiyu after having witnessed the atrocities committed at a town they previously visited. Before I finished saying the intro, the players started asking me questions about this town and the next thing I know, they are in that town investigating! If I were a more experienced storyteller, I would smack them for interrupting my story! That would teach them their place for sure!

As is, I had to improvise what actually happened there. In my infinite wisdom I even managed to confuse setting information: ley lines are actually called Dragon Lines (sorry Jon! as compensation I may not kill your character next session). I also noticed I should have given Jon some information on the magical properties of the setting, I think I confused him on how common Dragon Lines are.

I also thought there would be some deaths when the cops came in. Instead all I got is thinking they are misguided innocents and lots of disarming attempts. Next fight will be a lot more good vs evil.

Overall, I was quite happy how this birthday session ended up being.