Thursday, December 15, 2005

Spring Flowers: Arrival (Session One)

The start of a new game and a trial for a new setting, or in fact two new settings. The introduction to Spring Flowers is on my regular site. The game was played over Skype (VoIP) which was a new experience for me and an experimental run for a few sessions of the Mursuiva game. We used Skype, PCGen and I was using the GM Tools dice roller along with GMGen. My experiences with them are probably going to be written up in a carnel article so I won't go into them in any detail here.

So, the game... Laiden and Almers have been shipped to the Vale of Tears for rustling horses and selling them to a group who aimed to usurp the king. The journey has been long and far and both are unfamiliar with the land that lies between them and home. They are held in a barn in the village of Safepoint before being ferried into the perpetual bank of roiling fog that masks the northern shore of the lake.

Entering that fog kills the light of day to the point where it is impossible to tell how high the sun is in the sky and even to see the face of a man two metres away. Guided only by the light of a dim blue lantern the convict ships sail to the town of New Ocha, the outpost of the forces reoccupying the vale. The town is half-built and smothered by the ubiquitous fog. Even in the day fires, torches and lanterns have to be kept burning to provide light and warmth.

The convicts are housed in large barn-like buildings that are only half-finished. They are given the minimum amount of equipment, clothing and utensils but no-one seems that well-off in this place. Those convicts who have skills that may be useful in colony life are treated better but this is no different to life in any village.

Laiden decides to try and make friends and get a feel for life in this strange settlement. At the mess hall he makes the acquaintence of a handsome young man known as Arrick. Arrick agrees to let Laiden accompany him on his duties come the morning.

After breakfast Arrick and Laiden go down to the lakeshore to pick up the new batch of conscripts being shipped over, amongst them Almers. Almers is judged to possess no special skills so is assigned to general labouring tasks, the first of which is to get Barn IV into a habitable state. This is where this latest batch of conscripts is to be barracked but the structure still lacks walls. Some of the conscripts are assigned to duties in the village while others under the protection of Laiden and Arrick are sent back to the lakeside to gather wood and timber and any other salvage to help with the completion of the barn.

The lakeside near the town has been stripped clean of any good pickings, even the seaweed has been picked clean! The group have to travel further west along the shoreline, the fog is so thick that it is difficult for anyone to see the man next to them and there is no light beyond the few torches the group have. Almers calculates that it should be just after mid-day but in the fog day and night seem to have no meaning.

Eventually some wood is found and bundles of firewood are gathered along with some planks and the spars of a barrel. But as the gatherers are starting to find what they need there is a hissing roar and a rotting creature, bloated by rot, erupts from beneath the waters of the lake and charge at the wood pickers. Laiden and Arrick swiftly move to the rescue of the attacked conscript but most of the others drop their loads and flee into the fog. As the warriors triumph over the first creatures more appear from beneath the lake waters and join the fight. Almers stays to keep the scene illuminated and also lashes out at the creatures with the torch he is carrying but without a weapon or armour there is little he can do.

For a while the fight is evenly balanced but then Laiden is savaged by one of the creatures and falls to the ground, unable to defend himself. Almers is overwhelmed and the battle seems lost.

The pair wake up in a simple but well-built barracks with a priest chanting prayers over them, healing their physical wounds with his words. The priest tells them that after they had fallen Arrick had continued the fight and the fleeing conscripts (unable to go far in dark fog) had returned and managed to drag Laiden and Almers away. However as they started back to town Laiden was seized by the remaining monsters and dragged into the lake. With no weapons the remaining conscripts had no choice to flee back along the shoreline to town.

Laiden asks to be given better weapons and armour so he can return to look for Arrick's body and the priest is obviously touched by the sincerity of the request and says that he will ask the head of the town guard about it. The priest warns Laiden that there are rarely bodies to be found...

Conspiracy of Shadows (The City Ignites)

An interesting session this time, interesting in the Chinese sense. The session started with Anatoli visiting Bey Calan and asking him to help restore him to his former position and dismiss the charges against him. Calan seemed exceptionally eager to help and immediately put an apartment in the temple district at Anatoli's disposal. During the interview however Anatoli let slip the news of the unfortunate demise of al-Amayi before anyone else has yet heard of the death of the unfortunate widow. Calan seems surprised but says no more about it.

(Slipping tenses) Sister Eva does not want to know how Little Alexander has come by his wounds so she can avoid any difficult questions later. However given what she does know she tells Big Alexander to take Little Alex to the Little Kingdom where the laws of the Valdorians will hold over those of the city by the decree of the Sultan. Big Alexander sneaks Little Alexander into the Little Kingdom by covering him in a corpse shroud (one that is authentically bloodied). The Alexander's got to the Kingdom's "cathedral" to pray and encounter Sedziwoj there who is discussing matters with the Bishop Banuch of the City.

Anatoli takes possession of the apartment granted to him by Calan and immediately sends for his friends to celebrate his good fortune. His friends in turn send out the furniture of the new apartment to pay for wine and women of low virtue. In the midst of the gathering celebration Anatoli also sends several messages to the inn of the Little Kingdom informing his foreign friends of his good fortune.

At the Little Kingdom the Alexanders and Sedziwoj are deep in conference as to what they should do next and whether it will be possible to parlay with or deceive Calan so they can gain access to his house. After they break their discussion they go to the inn and discover the numerous messages that Anatoli has been sending them. Sedziwoj is furious and resolves to ride to apartment Anatoli mentions being given and killing him. Taking his "squire" Sergei to translate and guide he mounts his horse and departs. At the entrance to the Little Kingdom there is a small hostile crowd but Sedziwoj spurs on his horse and bursts through them easily.

Once at Anatoli's apartment though the large crowd that surrounds Anatoli (and who all seem well-disposed towards him as a fine host) makes Sedziwoj think twice and having to talk to Anatoli via Sergei he changes his mind and asks Anatoli to come to the Little Kingdom. He then returns on horse while Anatoli changes into a ragged outfit and follows him on foot.

The crowd at the entrance is larger and more aggressive when Sedziwoj returns and while he is easily able to force his way through one of the crowd members slashes his horse's side during the tussle. Seeing this once inside the Kingdom Sedziwoj sends Sergei back to the inn with the horse and instructions as to how to tend the wound. Then he charges from the shadows of the Kingdom's entrance into the crowd and rapidly puts the mob to flight after killing five of them in a matter of minutes.

Anatoli, on his way to the Kingdom, discovers the ripple of panic and anger that follows this incident. The poor townsmen are incensed by this brutal massacre by a foreigner and are making plans to gather together and burn out the Valdorians and seizing the murderer. Anatoli decides to return to his apartment and asks his friends and associated hangers-on to accompany him to the Old Town.

Inside the Little Kingdom the Alexanders and Bishop Banuch are immediately aware of the great danger that Sedziwoj has but the Kingdom in. Bishop Banuch arranges for Sedziwoj to be toasted in the tavern while arrangements are made. The Alexanders and Bishop Banuch decide to try and use Little Alexander's good favour with the Patriarch to make a plea that the Patriarch save the Kingdom from the mob. They leave via a secret exit from the Kingdom and start making their way to the Patriarch's palace while avoiding the angry townsmen.

Anatoli returns to the Old Town with a crowd of his own but when his group meet the angry townsmen the situation almost immediately ignites into a riot. Several of Anatoli's friends point out to him that this would be a perfect time to obtain the content of a few merchant shops in the confusion, not to mention looting some coin from the filthy Valdorians.