Monday, 5 September 2016

III.17: Another Head for the Hydra

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 5
Scene setup: d10=5 (Altered scene)

Event: NPC Action(Rhashaak): d100 (64) = Spy, d100 (74) = Liberty

We know, from past GM moves, that the Blackscales are interested in Anaya. It seems that they are now spying on her, looking to take away her liberty. This is actually one of the moves available to this type of front in DungeonWorld : Front(Blackscale lizardfolk): Spy on someone with a scrying spell.

In the meantime, what has the party been doing?

Divine Guidance(Anaya): Granted some useful knowledge or boon related to your deity’s domain.
Does Anaya get useful knowledge? 50:50 ().
Fate d100(39)=Yes

Introduce an Element from Ages Past

Amidst the vast expanse of the jungle, a great fortress of stone rises above the jungle canopy. Weathered by the ages, this fortress stood long before the Last War, before the founding of Galifar, before humans even existed on Eberron. It is older than the Dhakaani Empire that ruled Khorvaire before the humans came, older than the empire of the giants. Hundreds of thousands of years this fortress has stood, soaking in the humid jungle climate.

Passing through its main gates leads into a grand entrance hall. Stone walls bear huge leather tapestries depicting scenes of rampaging demons; one grand tapestry shows demons tearing apart a couatl, the great winged serpent of light being gutted by flesh renders.

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(6 2) +3 = 11 Success!
What happened here recently? Hold 2

Show signs of an approaching threat.

Despite its age, the fortress is alive with activity. Black-scaled lizardfolk run to and fro, singly and in groups, and most carry weapons. Passing through its ancient rooms and passages, one sees that, despite its age, the fortress is in good repair, and its current occupants move with purpose.

Descending below the fortress, passages lead to dungeons and then into caves. And in the caves, there are demons: flesh renders, hezrou, pyrodemons and mariliths. The smaller demons roam freely, but the larger demons are trapped behind walls of pure silver light, a light that radiates a peace and purity at odds with the fierce creatures inhabiting the caves.

After descending through many such caves, we come to a vast cavern, deep in the domain of Khyber beneath the fortress. Flows of lava run down the walls and across the cavern floor to some deeper exit, and Khyber dragonshards cast high up on the ceiling cast a purple light over the vast chamber. But at the heart of the chamber, a vast pillar of silver flame casts its pure radiant light outwards, vying with the red and purple lights of the cavern.

Before the silver flame, a black dragon writhes on the bare cavern floor. Tendrils of silver fire weave a net around the vast creature, constricting its movement. Before it, a handful of black-scaled lizardfolk shamans stand in a half-circle, performing some ritual; the dragon appears intent on their actions, only occasionally pushing against the flames, probing for a way to get free.

Spend hold(Anaya): What here is useful or valuable to me? GM move(soft): Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities

The radiant light of the flames seems to press on the dragon, giving a silver sheen to its black scales. The shadow it casts seems to flow out of it, to be a part of the dragon itself—a taint that struggles against the light of the flames.

Spend hold(Anaya): What here is not what it appears to be? Show signs of an approaching threat.

And yet, somehow we are aware that the dragon is not alone in the chamber, even discounting the lizardfolk. The flame rises two hundred feet high, standing far above the dragon, blazing with silver light—and yet, within the flame is another creature, far older. Through the flames can barely be seen a great serpentine head and two lidless eyes; just as the radiant light struggles to drive away the purple aura cast by the dragonshards, so the purity of the Flame struggles to mask some great evil contained within it.

The vision moves closer to the Flame, until all is consumed by its silver light. As the vision fades, a serene voice says:

“Know your purpose, our servant Anaya.”

The DungeonWorld cleric Guidance move might normally be interpreted on a smaller scale than this. But Eberron is not a world where the Gods intervene directly on a regular basis—I intentionally have not let Anaya use this move casually, and this is the first time in the game that she got to use it. So I’m giving her a larger vision to balance that.

The setting tells me that Rhashaak and Masvirik are imprisoned in this location, so this scene is basically my envisioning of that.

Make Camp(party): Heal
Commune(Anaya): Cure Light Wounds; True Seeing

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 4
Scene setup: d10=6 (unmodified)

Newthrone, Q’barra
Nymm 2, 997 YK

“The creature imprisoned within the Flame—you think it was an Overlord?” asked Esthana.

Anaya, Esthana and Nyseris were sitting in a private room at The Dragon’s Bounty, drinking ales around a wooden dining table. Three weeks had passed since the death of Count Zuokas, but Esthana had only been up and about for the last two days; to Anaya, her friend still looked drawn. Esthana held her mug of ale with her right arm; her left arm was completely gone, severed by the flesh render’s dying stroke. Anaya had worked with a Jorasco healer, once they got back to Newthrone, to mend the damage to the shoulder, and Esthana was fast regaining her strength now. Yet Anaya felt that her friend had made a great sacrifice in the line of duty—and had to wonder, if she herself had been called on to make such a sacrifice, if she could have borne it with the same determination.

“Yes, it must be,” said Anaya. “The dragon in the vision was a fearsome creature, and the Flame around it shows that it must be a great danger—and yet I am sure that the being within the Flame was yet more powerful.”

Investigate(Anaya): 2D6(4 3) +1 = 8 Partial success.
Limited information
Spout Lore(Nyseris): 2D6(4 4) +0 = 8 Partial success.
Information, worse outcome

“And you think that it is in Q’barra?”

“The jungle, the lizardfolk—it must be.”

“Masvirik”, said Nyseris. Even seated, the lizardfolk towered over the two Templars; as usual, Nyseris wore only a baldric, their scaly skin contrasting with the plate and chain mail of the Templars. “I have never s–seen Haka’torvhak, but I have heard that it is a great and ancient fortress. It could be as you described.”

“If we are here to prevent the release of an Overlord,” said Esthana, ”then it seems likely that it is this Masvirik that the lizardfolk spoke of.”

Favoured in House(Vaalyun): Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask: You can have your hirelings back, if you establish a Phiarlan chapter house here in Newthrone

At that moment, the door opened and Vaalyun came in, followed by two other elves. They were dressed in colourful travelling clothes, and it took Anaya a moment to remember them.

“Imra, Ievos!” Esthana jumped up and embraced them both; they had helped free Esthana from prison in Thaliost, Anaya remembered.

“I am glad to see that you are well,” said Imra. The elves had perhaps been forwarned, and made no mention of Esthana’s arm.

“It is good to see you both,” said Anaya. “I did not know that you were coming to Newthrone.”

“If we are to understand House Tharashk’s activities here, I need my eyes and ears,” said Vaalyun. He was dressed neatly in his formal robes bearing the five-headed-hydra design of House Phiarlan. “My apologies for not discussing it, Templars, but my House would look on it poorly if I disclosed too much about its movements to outsiders.”

Anaya nodded. “Understood. The Church has no presence here at all, so we are very much in need of House Phiarlan’s support.”

“I can now say that Ryfon will be here in a few days. Things are worse in Thaliost than when we left; the rioting has escalated into regular fighting in the streets. House Phiarlan has withdrawn entirely, and so Ryfon was looking for a new assignment.”

That’s bringing into the fiction of the story what we already know from the GM side, way back in chapter 7: Thaliost is having a bad time, because the party did not do so well against the rebels there.

All in the Family(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 5) +2 = 13 Success!
House Phiarlan has intelligence about House Tharashk’s activities in Q’barra

Past conflict, present intrigue: We know, due to a GM move during the chapter where we met one of the tribees, that the some of the lizardfolk have deals with Tharashk. The PCs did not figure that out until now.

“I still find it hard to believe that we are taking on House Tharashk here.”

“Have faith, Templar.” Vaalyun smiled wryly. “My House was also able to tell me a little more of their operation here. A reliable source has heard a Tharashk agent boasting that they have paid off certain lizardfolk tribes to gain easier access to the dragonshards.”

Suddenly, Nyseris reached across the table and grabbed Vaalyun by the collar, pulling him forward. “Lies, vaecaesin. The gul siksta would not trade the shards with outsiders–s.”

Esthana put down her drink hurriedly and grabbed Nyseris’ arm, forcing her to release the elf.

Vaalyun leaned back, straightening his jacket. “I am an inquisitive, pitya-lócë. And in my opinion, the information is reliable. Ievos, Imra—leave us. There are rooms for you in the hostel here; take the day to rest after your journey. I will have work for you tomorrow.”

The two elves bowed and departed, closing the door behind them.

“That is somewhere to start, then,” said Anaya. “We could speak to nearby lizardfolk tribes, and find out if they have granted House Tharashk access to their lands—and try to persuade them to recind their bargain.”

“Meanwhile, I can try to find out the extent of Tharashk’s influence within the city. Tharashk cares nothing for the lizardfolk,” he said, eyeing Nyseris pointedly, ”and is unlikely to stop just because the lizardfolk start to oppose them.”

“There must be hundreds of thousands of lizardfolk in the jungle,” said Esthana. “Could House Tharashk really take on such a force?”

Spout Lore(Vaalyun): 2D6(5 3) +2 = 10 Success!
Useful information

“If the lizardfolk are not united, then easily. I’m sure that a Cyrean refugee needs no convincing that nations are not as powerful as they once were. House Tharashk organises mercenaries from Droam; it could field an army of ten thousand gnolls and ogres easily, and the value of the trade in dragonshards is certainly enough to justify the expense. If the lizardfolk are united, even then Tharashk can bring airships, warforged soldiers—the Last War has produced military technology beyond anything that the lizardfolk have ever seen. And yet, it is not hopeless: Tharashk is a trade guild, and they will abandon Q’barra if it becomes too hard to exploit, moving on for opportunities elsewhere.”

“If they continue unopposed,” said Anaya, “then in time House Tharashk will take too many of dragonshards from the jungle here. Whatever function the Flame-imbued shards fulfil in strengthening the prison of the Overlord will be compromised. If Masvirik escapes, the demon army that it would call forth would devastate this entire region.”

There was a pause while everyone digested this assessment.

“What of your vision, Anaya. What about the dragon?” asked Nyseris.

“If the Flame bound it, next to the Overlord’s prison—perhaps it tried to release the Overlord, and it was bound to prevent it interfering with the prison.” Anaya frowned; the vision left many questions unanswered.

“Then we must stop it. Slay it, if need be.”

“No!” said Anaya, suddenly. Something in the vision had struck her, and Esthana’s suggestion made the cleric think of it again. After a moment, she continued. “There was something about the dragon in the vision, a taint that lay upon it. The Flame only burns that which it cannot cleanse; I think the vision was telling me that we must purify the dragon.”

“Is that even possible?” asked Vaalyun.

“I do not know. It goes beyond the healing that I summon, yet the Flame can cleanse. I must think on this; in the meantime, we will do what we can to stall House Tharashk’s activities.”

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 3
Scene setup: d10=5 (unmodified)

Vaalyun needs to make good on his All in the Family: he needs to establish a chapterhouse in the city.

“Marshal Marioth will see you now.” The page, a human dressed simply but smartly in a powder blue jacket and brown trousers, gestured for Vaalyun to rise and follow.

Spout Lore(Vaalyun): 2D6(3 6) +2 = 11 Success!
Vaalyun knows the general politics and history of Q’barra

Newthrone Keep was the seat of government in Newthrone. It was a stone castle, newly constructed only seventy years ago with the help of masons from the Mror Holds. The antechamber where Vaalyun had waited had a wooden floor and stone walls covered by cloth hangings bearing the heraldry of Q’barra: fish and crossed-bows on a field of green-and-blue. This kingdom had been established by a noble from Cyre early during the Last War, and the nation’s flag was the old heraldic symbol of his family.

To Vaalyun, the Keep was the vanity of old nobility, harking back to an age that had been and gone. The keep’s would have been a stronghold in the early days of Galifar, but in an age of airships and arcane cannon it offered only the impression of strength. It’s not only the lizardfolk that are outclassed by House Tharashk, Vaalyun thought.

The Marshal’s room was more tastefully decorated, with some heraldic hangings but also paintings that were only a little dated compared to fashions in the Five. The Marshal herself was a halfling seated behind a wooden desk; she wore chain mail and a tabard bearing the same national heraldry.

She rose at his entrance, coming around the table to meet him. “I am Marioth, Marshall of Newthrone. It is a pleasure to welcome a representative of House Phiarlan to our noble city.”

Vaalyun bowed formally, and she bowed in return; they shook hands. “I am Vaalyun d’Phiarlan. Thank you for seeing me at such short notice.”

“Of course.” Out of politeness no more was said, but in truth a scion of a dragonmarked House was more important than nobility in most lands these days. Any delay in receiving him would have been surprising. Q’barra was a growing nation and needed more than just refugee farmers if it was to grow in power and importance; Vaalyun was expecting no opposition to his proposal.

“I have been in your city for a month, and consider that there is an opportunity to establish a Phiarlan chapterhouse here. I am here to seek the city’s approval for its establishment.”

The Marshal returned to her seat, brow furrowed in thought. “You are seeking a grant of property in the city?”

Vaalyun found a Fuel Shard of Hospitality as random loot out in one of the jungle fights, a valuable item to barter with House Ghallanda in the city here. He’s buying property with it.

Discern Realities(Vaalyun): 2D6(2 4) +1 = 7 Partial success.
What here is useful or valuable to me?

Paintings: this official is cultured, in a nation that is a cultural backwater. Indeed, Vaalyun is a cultured elf, perhaps he knows some of the artists.

Vaalyun resisted the urge to roll his eyes; grants of land from nobles had been the way of things in Old Galifar, but the Houses rarely used such feudal practices. “No, I have agreed with Bertram d’Ghallanda to purchase property from him; I merely seek the city’s approval for the establishment of our chapter.”

“And what would House Phiarlan bring to the city?”

Vaalyun turned away, walking over to one of the paintings on the wall. It was a landscape depicting a forest. “This is a Haverstrenk I see. His rural landscapes are his best works, I think. I attended a soirée organised by my House once, in Fairhaven, where some of his works were on display.”

“Remarkable!” The Marshal was impressed. “This one was difficult to get hold of, but I was able to find a merchant that could import it.”

Parley(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 5) +2+1 = 14 Success!
You get what you want, no strings attached.

“I imagine it would be difficult, at such a great distance. Yet Q’barra is a frontier nation, full of possibilities; I can see it attracting many artists that are tired of the Five Nations. That is the opportunity that I see.” Vaalyun turned back to the Marshal. “House Phiarlan has been a patron of entertainers and artists for thousands of years. It seems like an oversight that it has taken so long to establish a presence here—one that I wish to correct.”

“Then you have our approval. I will write out an official decree authorising your chapterhouse immediately; do you care to wait for it?”

Vaalyun nodded. “My thanks. I expect that we will be established within a few weeks, and offering entertainments to the nobles and citizens of the city. No doubt I will attend court functions from time to time, as my other duties for my House permit.”

End of Session(party): Vaalyun met his alignment goal: using his House’s reputation to help himself. And we learned something important about the world, +1 XP for everyone. No failed rolls all session.

We spent some time on discussion between the characters this session, so it seems appropriate to refresh their bonds here. Let’s res

  • Nyseris forms a new bond: Vaalyun disrespects my people; I do not trust him.
  • Anaya replaces her bond “Though not Purified, Vaalyun is a resourceful ally,” with something that emphasises the power of his House.
  • Anaya replaces her bond “Lady Esthana works for the Flame against a great evil; I aid her holy purpose,” with something about the sacrifices she has made in this quest.

Anaya’s bonds:
Lady Esthana is a fellow Templar of the Flame.
Lady Esthana has sacrificed much in our holy quest.
Vaalyun brings the power and resources of House Phiarlan to our cause.
Nyseris wields the Silver Flame; I will learn more of her power.

Esthana’s bonds:
Lady Anaya is a fellow Templar of the Flame.
Vaalyun rescued me when I was unjustly imprisoned.
Vaalyun is a liability in a fight, but needs my protection.
Nyseris, like me, serves the Flame; we have a common purpose.

Vaalyun’s bonds:
Esthana saved my life.
Lady Anaya unhesitatingly put herself in danger to rescue my companion; I am in her debt.

Nyseris’ bonds:
Lady Anaya is a cleric of the my deity; I trust her implicitly.
Esthana is a brave warrior that I am proud to fight alongside.
Vaalyun disrespects my people; I do not trust him.

Anaya: 0 failures, 2 bonds resolved; at 3XP.
Esthana: 0 failures; now at 8XP.
Nyseris: 0 failures; at 2XP.
Vaalyun: 0 failures; at 8XP.

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