Date Played: July 18th, 2012 8pm-4am apx
In-World Date: Winter 19th – 20th, 998 (calendar now up)
A fun game. Though a few elements were frustrating and didn’t run as smoothly as intended.
- The Researcher (complete): There was no sign of him anywhere, and you’ve done all you could with his data.
- The Shaman/ The Tribes: Status unknown.
- Finding the Source (complete): It is shut down.
- A Strange Magic: Evidence is growing. Os believes he has physical evidence. If he’s correct, the implications are startling, to say the least. This is very powerful information.
- Barthas/Bubbling Hearth/Sons of Vaknama: No updates.
Summary: Written by Dave (be prepared guys, this is long)
The adventurers entered the cavernous room nervously. Having already conquered one deadly trap, they remained wary of what might lay ahead. The archway to the door spelt out in bold Vaknamese lettering, a warning about proceeding, but the party continued anyways, curious to the nature of the Vaknamese influence in such ancient and magical ruins.
A large stone door lay at their feet, as still and lifeless as stone typically is. Beyond the door was a statue, large, standing tall, and made of brass. Along the base of the statue was more of the out of place Vaknamese script. The Adrugan paper-mage Nikon stepped forward and began examining the statue, curious of it’s purpose, whilst the brave orc Ruka and Vaknamese captain, Deren, checked the walls along the room. A thin sheathe of dust trailed the walls, leaving marks where Deren brushed it. A thought occurred to him. It was strange how the walls remain coated with age and grime, yet the ground which they walked upon was smooth and clean, shining as if recently brushed and waxed marble.
As his companions went about, making important notations, the holy man Oswell, feeling a bit out of his depth and a tad useless, picked the nearest room to explore. He took no more than one step before he found himself face to face with a wall of translucent jelly. Before he was able to call out to his friends for assistance, the jelly coalesced around him. Oswell was submerged in a terrifying substance, one which began to quickly burn and eat away at his clothing and skin.
Deren heard a strange noise and turned his head quickly. He counted his friends, Ruka and Nikon. That’s two. Where had Oswell gone? Deren called out, but no reply returned. Worry mounted in his mind and Deren placed his hand on his weapon’s hilt. It reassured him in a way that no soothing words ever could. Cold. Hard. Steel. Deren approached the doorway where he had last seen his buddy Os. The room was dark. The light that had shown from Oswell’s hand, the miracle he had cast in his God’s name, was nowhere to be seen. As Deren tentatively called out for his friend again, he saw it. A strange gelatinous creature. It loomed before him, strange and alien. Inside the beast was Os. A look of frozen horror etched onto his face. Deren tried to withdraw his mighty earthbreaker, but the creature came down upon him. A scream of horror left his mouth, but no sound was made.
Os and Deren, both swallowed up by a gelatinous blob, could only watch in paralyzed fear as their remaining friends battled the creature, destroying it and rescuing them from a slow and painful digestive death. The party debated how to travel onward, and settled on in line and in pairs, never one person going off on their own.
At their feet, the remains of the blob revealed a pile of metal scraps. Digging through the scraps, the party found various knick knacks; such as polished silverware and tools, but more importantly, some strange vials, which Nikon quickly confiscated, claiming they possess some important magical prominence. After filling their bags with new objects of desire, the group continued making their way through the strange and ancient dungeon.
Along the way, they excavated more rooms and fought more of the strange gelatinous creatures, meanwhile gathering more vials of the odd magical substances and other knick knacks.
The group found themselves in a new hallway. Deren leading them, and Oswell remaining tentatively behind, watching the party’s back while remaining cautious of the strange creatures and magical occurrences. As Deren rounded the corner of the hall, his foot sank in the ground, onto a pressure plate. Oswell remaining far enough back, managed to stop himself in time, but both Nikon and Ruka, traveling in between their companions felt the ground give way beneath them as they plummeted into a dark pit. Water began to rise swiftly, and Deren, panicked for his friends safety, began to hammer away with Oswell’s mace (due to an injure from fighting so many strange creatures) at the bars which kept their friends trapped beneath them.
Oswell, sure that he could find a switch to release their friends and save them from an impending death, began to ran down the halls, quickly ducking into rooms, trying to see if he could find any switches. Though he found no switches, he did manage to attract the attention of a new gelatinous monster. Running away from the creature, Os rushed to Deren’s side, and continued to help him bash away at the bars trapping their friends. Soon enough, the two managed to break open the bars, just as Nikon and Ruka found themselves submerged. Wasting no time, Nikon forced his way through the small opening and to safety. Ruka wasn’t so lucky. Struggling, she managed to impale herself on the jagged edges of the broken bars, blocking her exit. As she made a second attempt at escape, the gelatinous creature attacked her as it found it’s own way into the water. Ruka finally freed herself, although her injuries were grave.
The party made their way away from the trap, Oswell and Ruka both paralyzed from the gelatinous beast and being dragged by Nikon and Deren. They entered the last remaining room at the end of the hallway and found themselves at the crest of what they were searching for. As Oswell and Ruka came to, Deren and Nikon found themselves drawn to a large glowing apparatus in the center of the room. The strange device, which Nikon quickly deduced was the source of all of their problems, consisted of many small circles surrounding a much larger source circle. He wasted no time deciphering the magically potent apparatus.
A blinding light seared his eyes, causing him to curse and mumble under his breath. Nikon tried to rub the spots from his eyesight, but failed. As his vision cleared, he stared aghast at the strange apparatus. Magic oozed from it, viciously and painfully. The feeling made him sick to his stomach, but perhaps it was something more. He approached the device cautiously. More Vaknamese script. He had always considered to be a land of savages, void of magic, but this… this was strange. Even more strange than this vile and undecipherable magic. Did Vaknama have some magical prowess after all? Or was there something more going on here? His fingers traced the script again. Vaknamese…
As Nikon lost himself in the magical puzzle, the remaining party members were somewhat surprised. Even they noticed the Vaknamese writing. It had been all over this ancient dungeon, but now it was even surrounding the source of the magical ailment. Knowing it best to leave Nikon to concentrate in peace, the party began to explore the rest of the room. Deren found himself near a strange table with a map on it. Oswell joined him after realizing that his God’s divinity was almost completely diminished and that he was otherwise useless.
Deren’s hand reached down gingerly and wiped away a thick coating of dust. Not enough. He leaned down in front of the table and blew hard, his breath a wave of force, clearing the table of it’s age. As the dust settled away from it’s contents, Deren’s mind began to work. A map. An old map. He heard Oswell speak up. At least 200 years old. Maybe older. Much older, Deren thought. The map was of a battle in a war, an old war, one that he had never heard of. But… the map was strange. He recognized instantly the Vaknamese troops… but he also recognized signs for altitude surrounding the figures. Perhaps someone was playing around with the map, but if he was reading it correctly, and he was sure was, the map indicated that the Vaknamese troops were… were flying. Even more strange was the odds of the fight. A small number of Vaknamese troops were attacking a large number of other troops. A much larger number. Deren knew that if this maneuver, ignoring the altitude, was made today, the Vaknamese soldiers would be slaughtered in moments. He shot a confused glance over to Oswell. Oswell suggested that the figures being attacked by the Vaknamese were Ugovans, a race of humans popular in Vaknama myth, but there weren’t any recorded wars about Vaknama and Ugova. Ugova was known for it’s control of magic, and Vaknama had none. Deren wasn’t sure if he was buying Oswell’s suggestion, but then again, Oswell didn’t know how to read maps properly anyways. He returned his attention back to the map… he wasn’t sure why, but he had a feeling there was more to it than meets the eye…
Soon, Nikon found himself stumped. He couldn’t make anymore progress and was most assuredly stuck. He and Ruka both coughed, they knew for certain now that the illness that was ravaging the orcs, and that will soon affect Sarem, had now affected them as well. There wasn’t much time left. Oswell made his way over, but Nikon, unsure of Oswell and Deren’s ability to understand the complex puzzle, didn’t think it pertinent to share the little he had so far figured out. Oswell, impatient and worried about how much time before others and they themselves died from the magical sickness, decided to take action.
Enough of the arguing and speculation! The deaths of countless people; orc, human, dwarf, all of the people within Sarem! There was enough bickering and confusion! Enough indecision and disarray! Oswell fumed angrily. He was always the voice of reason, but it is impossible to be so when lives are at stake and people are too bigoted to open their mouths and share what they know. Oswell shouted at Nikon, demanding to know why the magical device was still on? Nikon pointed at a glowing circle, stammering out an excuse about it being broken, but Oswell didn’t pay heed. There was no time. Too much had passed and too little had been done. He stepped forward into the circle of light and was immediately blinded by a flash of light. He saw nothing for a moment. Did he do it? Did he stop the device? His eyes fluttered open and he found himself across the room. His friends gathered around him. He tried to speak to them, but they hushed him hurriedly and sat him up. Oswell stared at them in bewilderment. They look worried. He followed their gaze, drawing his eye to his left leg… or… well… where his left leg used to be.
Oswell patched his leg up. He was in a state of shock, but he had seen his share of serious injuries before, and despite his pain and upset nature, now was not the time to dwell on the injury. He had made a foolish mistake. Not only had he injured himself gravely, but the device was still churning out dark magic. Nikon turned his attention back to studying the device and the Vaknamese writing surrounding it. Deren began to search among a shelf with Ruka for any sort of information. After a brief search, and after Ruka’s and Nikon’s condition worsened considerably, the two found a book, which they believed might be related to the maintenance of the machine. They brought the new information to Nikon, who began to feverishly dismantle the apparatus. There was one problem. It required a live human to sacrifice themselves in order to finally shut it down. Oswell and Deren both tried to volunteer themselves, but after a bit of arguing, Ruka was already making her way to the circle that Nikon was gesturing towards. It was up to her to save her people and her family. There was no time to waste arguing over it.
Another flash of light and Ruka was gone. Oswell felt her presence dissipate. She had passed on. He informed the others, and they all turned their attention to the device. The lights began to power done, and then everything shone dull. Nikon announced that the magic was dying out, and that the machine was no longer active. They had done it, but at the cost of Ruka’s life.
As Nikon looked over the device and tried to make sure it could never work again, Deren and Os made their way into another room. They found a lever and a chest. Pulling the lever opened a hidden wall before them, towards the entrance to the dungeon. A quick escape. Opening the chest revealed a number of wands. Oswell recognized some vague arcane writings on 2 of the wands, but on one, he sensed something different. He knew this wand. It was a divine rod.. but there was something wrong with it. He channeled positive energy through his magic, but this… was different. It channeled something strange. Negative energy. It was strangely reminiscent of his own magic, but just being held in his hand, Oswell felt a tinge of disgust. He resolved himself to return to the wand to the priests of his order.
Nikon stared at the trap, dumbfounded. He read over the Vaknamese script, again and again. Ruka never came back through. Now as he looked over it, she shouldn’t have died. He glanced at the device’s engine, as it was winding down. Was she… still alive? Was Oswell wrong? Nikon decided to take a big risk. He turned the machine back on. Working the complex arcane controls of the devices, and ignoring the shouts of Oswell and Deren as they emerged from the other room, Nikon concentrated his energies on trying to find Ruka, and draw her from the energies. And just like that, she was back. Nikon shouted in relief and wasted no time shutting the machine back off. He had drawn Ruka back to the world of living.
With Ruka back, and the strange device finally shut down, the group had succeeded in their mission. Well… sort of. Ruke, though seemingly breathing, seemed vacant. Non-existent. Her eyes almost lifeless, dull. He movements staggered, and only really directed by the one who had brought her back from death. Unsure of how to heal her, the group agreed to try to find her help. Now that the threat was stopped though, it was time for them to return with the vegetable Ruka, back to her home. Back to her tribe.
As they made their way back, many questions surfaced their minds. Why was this strange device activated and who activated it to begin with? Why was such a magically potent device found within Vaknama’s territory, and why was so much magical script written in the magically vacant Vaknamese language? How old was this place, and what was up with that strange map that Deren had found? And, even more importantly, where had Ruka’s mind gone and was she lost forever?
Award Gem Critiques
I’m not so sure about critiques this time. Feel free to contest my opinions.
Dave: 2.5 gems.
- Acting: You were still very much Os, though perhaps not as much as some other games. A solid portrayal. Good. 2/4 or 1 gem.
- Depth: I’m not sure there were that many opportunities to show depth. When faced with the magic circle, Os’ previous fear of magic vanished suddenly. His trying to raise Deren’s spirits over Ruka was good, as was his concern for her. His attempt to sacrifice himself was noble also, and in accordance with his god perhaps, though I wonder if he worried for his family. Overall, good. 2/4 or 1 gem.
- Participation: You were very on top of things, and certainly the most active for the majority of the game. Unfortunately, you appeared over-active and panicky when Os should have taken a calm, advisory role. Running up and down the halls looking for a release lever and continuously questioning Nikon as his life drained away didn’t quite make sense to me. Neither did suddenly thinking that stepping on things makes them better. Was something making you feel impatient? The good balanced with the bad makes adequate. 1/4, or .5 gems.
Sam: 1.5 gems
- Acting: I didn’t see much attempt at Nikon’s accent that was prevalent in previous games. I could generally tell when you were in character, but it wasn’t very immersive. Adequate, 1/4 or .5 gems.
- Depth: I feel like there were quite a few missed opportunities, considering all the mage-like things going on. Next to nothing was brought up on things that I thought would have Nikon quite excited. A good portion of this dungeon was designed with him in mind. Adequate, 1/4 or .5 gems.
- Participation: You were active, particularly in the combating of the jellies and management of the secret doors. Not much attempt was made at story or RP related thing. Your character was mostly reactionary to those things. Adequate, 1/4 or .5 gems.
Jess: 1 gem
- Acting: You didn’t try to portray Deren much at all. Though you did a passable job of keeping things in-character, most of the time. Adequate, 1/4 or .5 gems.
- Depth: Deren made no effort to show any sort of character leading up to the ritual room. When he did finally arrive there, he half-heartedly told Ruka to wait. When pressed, he was shown not to really mean to sacrifice himself instead. It seemed that Deren cared for Ruka, and thought he had a better chance of surviving, but something still stopped him. I think that something may have been OOC inspired. But I can’t blame someone too much for self-preservation. Though his “I’ll follow” mode wasn’t adding much to the setting. Poor. 0/4.
- Participation: You did step forward a bit more than last time. Still not incredibly a lot, but an imporvment. Adequate 1/4 or .5 gems.
This game was pretty bumpy. A significant amount of being OOC, among other problems, make this game a bit less than it could have been. I put a lot of planning into this place, and smoothed over all the encounters so they fit in well. Regardless, almost all of the fluff elements were ignored, and it seemed like some of the encounters were perceived as annoying obstacles instead of adventures. I made few errors in running this game and supplied plenty, I believe, but I don’t think there was a lot of immersion. At times it felt more like a video game with controllers than an PnP RPG. Despite this, there were good moments. I think we need to take measures to see that almost all interaction remains in character, and combat is ran as smoothly as possible by knowing what to do on your turn when it comes around and knowing exactly what you are doing.
- Example: I’m casting spell X, the opponent must roll a reflex save of DC y. It’s 4d6 on a failure, or half on a success. I’m within range.
- Example 2: I’m going to draw my hammer as a move action, dropping my axe, then take a 5 foot step to be within reach and swing with my +6 to hit, which gives me a 16, which is a hit, and my damage is 14.
Both examples took under 10 seconds, and required no sheet or book checking when the turn was active.