August 24th, 2018


Chronicles of Cal the Bard, episode 1

In which actual plot progression happens!

Once Cal joined the party and introduced himself, we all went wandering off to Minister Li's house to see what was happening there, as the rest of the party had just reached town and apparently this was a bit of a "home base" for them. What was happening was primarily a lot of people bringing by politically-expected gifts for Minister Li on this occasion (I believe, in addition to the wedding, he had just been promoted to Prime Minister Li), and so his wife and concubine were having to deal with accepting all of those and finding places to put them and so forth.

If I'm remembering correctly, Vattu used some sort of magic to skip the line of people trying to get in, and we got directed around back to the servants' entrance, with the clear implication that we were certainly not reputable enough to use the main entrance. We rested, and Cal made introductions and determined whether we could be of any assistance with the gift-wrangling. Cal was also introduced to Enwe's tree, which was a twisted viney carnivorous thing that kept trying to eat the gardener, and which Mrs. Li had clearly put in the least-visible corner of the garden. I don’t recall if it was then or later that Cal learned that if Enwe were to be killed, the tree would regrow her a new body in a week or so.

The party also buried the diamond in a reasonably good hiding spot in the garden, guarded by the tree, because carrying it into the wedding would obviously not be the thing.

The biggest bit of gossip around the Imperial Wedding was about who the Emperor was going to marry. This was being kept a tremendous secret -- only a very few people knew, and we were not in that group of people. We were fairly certain, but not entirely certain, that the (young, a bit inexperienced) Emperor was one of the people who knew. Speculation included a number of the other Icons -- the Blue Dragon, the Elf Queen, the Black Dragon, and the Diabolist were the ones I remember as prime contenders. The Priestess was in charge of arranging the ceremony, so it seemed unlikely (but plausible) that she was the bride.

We then got sucked into helping out with minor arrangements, helping Claire -- who was all in the thick of this, being a cleric of the Priestess -- with some various things and thus also being able to avoid all the crowds getting into the ceremony when it started.

And then, at the start of the gaming session where we (the players) expected to be playing out the actual wedding, we (the characters) instead found ourselves walking up on a pile of straw in a dark catacombs, with no recollection of anything since the previous gaming session.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth (original here), with comment count unavailable comments. Comment here or there; comments here will eventually be duplicated to there.

Chronicles of Cal the Bard, episode 2

(Continuing the tales from my gaming sessions from the last couple of years....)

Well, most of us woke up on the pile of straw in that room of the catacombs. Enwe, being Countess of the Eldrich Mists and thus not a commoner like the rest of us, woke up in an adjacent room in a marble niche, with several of her organs in nearby canopic jars. She took this somewhat better than one might have expected, which is not to say that she took it well, but.

K'tang's did confirm that they were indeed her organs, and they were still functionally involved in keeping her alive, and her health didn’t appear to be affected by the removal of her organs to the canopic jars, and beyond that if we asked any more questions we did not obtain any more answers.

So Enwe peevishly gathered up her canopic jars, and the rest of us gathered up our wits, there being nothing else for us to gather up, and we set off to try to find a way out of the catacombs and also find out where exactly "out" might take us to.

I don’t remember a lot of details of the initial exploring, but we did fairly quickly find out from some ghosts that we ran into that we were inside the Stone Thief.

Which ... I see that I need to back up, and explain a bit of this setting. As I put it in a comment on a post before I started writing all this up:
There is a class of living entity in this universe ... that is, as far as I can tell, made primarily out of non-Euclidean geometry and probably magic. I don't mean that it exists in a realm of non-Euclidean geometry; I mean that its presence in the world as perceived by "normal" beings is basically just bubble-like warps in space. Also, it generally lives underground and surfaces every so often to swallow cities somewhat like a Sarlacc swallows bounty hunters, and is capable of manipulating sizeable chunks of rock or city within itself so that entire buildings or city blocks may end up within it unharmed or may be combined into absurd and strange new architectural edifices.

Luckily, there is no more than one of these in the world that is large enough to swallow cities.
Unluckily, there is one that is that large....
Basically, this is 13th Age's variant of D&D dungeons, with explanation of why they're full of bizarre stuff and treasure and monsters, crossed with being an epic monster.

It transpires that this is not the first time the rest of the party (except maybe Claire?) have been inside this beast. K'tang's even has a book from some people who were inside of it many ages ago, describing what they found there. Er, here. Also he seems to have a voice in his head from someone who may have been one of the authors of that book? It's not entirely clear, but what is clear is that he effectively has several other people in his brain, and given that he's a necromancer, one can't really rule out the idea that they're more than figments of his imagination. Especially when they sometimes seem to give him useful information.

So, we found our way out of the dungeon, and through a number of other creepy rooms, including one that was guarded by lines of some kind of mold in the floor that would release toxic and probably hallucinogenic spores if touched, and another that looked like a church but with rows of stone troughs of some sort of embalming fluid containing cadavers and also a lot of jars containing angry no-longer-sane ghosts. K'tang's was quite disturbed by the ghosts -- particularly by the fact that there was neither time nor space and materials for him to do the appropriate rituals to put them to rest. He did bring a few along with him, and Cal brought a couple of dozen more and fed them into his diplomatic pouch as fast as it would take them (which was maybe two or three a day) for headquarters to take care of.

I am sure I am omitting many other creepy things as well. It was pretty clear that the Stone Thief had a very strong sense of the macabre, and we were pretty sure there was also at least one ancient necromancer down here that was providing influences as well. Luckily we didn't run into him directly.

At a different point in this exploration, we did run into a small chapel-room that appeared to be a tiny enclave of D&D "good"-alignment in the middle of all this. In there we found a large paladin laid out on a bier, in suspended animation that even K'tang's was unable to easily lift. With some exploration we found what appeared to be the remains of a co-explorer, and in his pack we found a scroll of lifting of suspension spell. There was some debate among the party about whether to use the scroll to revive the paladin. White they were debating, Cal in proper spy form attempted to make a forged copy of the scroll on grounds that it might be useful later, and rolled a critical success on it, and I've been waiting for two years since then for a chance to use it since I'm pretty sure a critical success means he got a working duplicate out of it.

Anyway, we did use the scroll and revive the paladin, and thus a new PC joined the party. He turned out to be very pure of heart and somewhat empty of mind, in the stereotypical "the muscle of the party" way, and IIRC the mini we used for him (in the few fights where we used minis) was a prepaint that was actually supposed to be Thor from The Avengers. He was fairly helpful at swatting undead, which was good as that seemed to be his calling in life. His player only stuck around for a couple of sessions, though.

And I shall stop this post here, because at this point I am not entirely sure I remember the sequence of what happened next, and will need to ask my co-gamers if they remember!

Crossposted from Dreamwidth (original here), with comment count unavailable comments. Comment here or there; comments here will eventually be duplicated to there.