Wednesday, 18 January 2017

III.21: Prisoners of the Blackscales

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 7
Scene setup: d10=1 (Altered scene) Well, the scene was going to be Esthana waking up with the surviving lizardfolk. So, instead, I guess they abandoned her?

Do the lizardfolk just abandon Esthana? 50:50 ().
Fate d100(47)=Yes

Alright then.

We never inflicted the harm for Esthana’s fall. Deal damage: let’s say she is at half HP.

Jungle north-east of Newthrone, Q’barra
Nymm 11, 997 YK

The murmur of flowing water and the smell of the jungle came back first. The air around was warm and humid, but Esthana was cooler than she had been earlier. She became aware of the daylight and the sounds of birds calling in the jungle canopy. It still took Esthana some seconds to realize her own position, sprawled on the ground.

She opened her eyes, and saw the walls of the ravine rising on both sides above her, trees and other foilage growing out from its sides; the remains of the rope bridge still hung, lopsided, over above her, a ragged line cutting across the blue sky above. Esthana’s head had come to rest against a tree trunk, and pain in the side of her head where she had struck it suddenly came into focus.

Discern Realities(Esthana): 2D6(3 3) +1 = 7 Partial success.
What happened here recently?

The ogre tossed me into the ravine. What happened to the others? Esthana put her hand to her head, but then took it away, grasping at the tree to help her to rise. Clearly time had passed, though she could not see the sun down here to tell how much; but she could hear no sounds of battle above now.

Defy Danger(STR)(Esthana): 2D6(6 3) +1 = 10 Success!
Armoured(Esthana): Able to move unhindered, even in plate mail

If she had failed a roll, I might have temporarily taken the sword away (lizardfolk could have taken it); but she did not. Her sword is also unblemished, as she chose that tag for her Signature Weapon.

First she had to get out of the ravine. The sides were very steep at the bridge itself, but less so to the east of the bridge—though still difficult enough for a one-armed fighter wearing plate mail. Esthana had spent years in Cyre’s army, though, usually wearing heavy chain and a breastplate and often marching in difficult conditions during the Last War; she could manage as well in armour as most people would without.

Without really thinking about it, she had climbed the south side of the ravine. On reaching the top, she found the bodies of many of the Tharashk contingent lying here: several humans and half-orcs, and of course the ogre; the air was thick with the smell of blood and the buzzing of flies. Her sword was still stuck through the creature’s chest, and a cloud of flies flew off as she rolled the large creature onto its back and retrieved the sword. Silver flames ran down the blade as she withdrew the sword; despite the hours stuck in the creature, it came away with no bloodstain, and she could sheathe it again immediately.

As the pain in her head eased, Esthana began to take in the situation a little better. There was only one lizardfolk body south of the bridge, and no sign of the survivors. Anaya and Nyseris would not have abandoned me—so where are they? Anaya had gone to the north bank, and Nyseris might have done the same; looking that way, Esthana saw the collapsed bridge deck, planks hanging vertically, with one of the supports on the far side smashed. Fear rose up in her, and Esthana was further alarmed to see scorched trees on that side of the ravine; the fight on that side must have gone badly.

The bridge was a mess, so Esthana made her way down into the ravine again, hurried along by grim thoughts. In her army days, it had happened once or twice that she had been send to investigate a missing patrol and found them dead; finding comrades dead was something that ten years of war service had not made any easier. Her journey was not cheered when she found a lizardfolk dead at the bottom of the ravine, under the bridge—with some trepidation she checked them, and was relieved that it was not Nyseris.

At this point, I was going to make a Defy roll for Anaya or Nyseris to see if they were able to leave some sign for Esthana. Then it occurred to me that...

Is Asumre still here? Likely (Fictional positioning: Nyseris described putting their animal companion on the ground).
Fate d100(79)=Yes

It will be bending the rules a bit to let Esthana work with the animal companion, but I like the idea. It neatly solves the problem that the only tracker in the party was captured, making it hard to track the prisoners.

I’ll give Esthana a little more help here and let her use her Seeing Red to examine the aftermath of a combat. It’s some compensation for forgetting to use it in the last fight.

Discern Realities(Esthana): 2D6(1 5) +1+1 = 8 Partial success.
What happened here recently?

It took some time to find a way up, but after thirty minutes or so she was on the north side, surveying the remains of the battle there. From the bodies here, it was apparent that the fight on this side had gone less well, and it was the bodies that she checked first: to Esthana’s great relief, Anaya was not amongst the humans here, and Nyseris was not recognisable amongst the lizardfolk—although several were burned and at least one lizardfolk was burned beyond recognition. Esthana believed that her friends were not amongst the dead, though, and offered up a prayer to the Flame for their deliverance.

It was apparent that a spellcaster, one of the Tharashk party, had made a stand here. There was another ogre here—killed by Anaya’s sword, Esthana thought—and some orcs and humans run through by lizardfolk spears. Esthana checked the bodies of the orcs and humans, but she could not tell if any was the spellcaster. A cleric or channeller might carry a holy symbol or focus for their magic—or perhaps it was just a regular mercenary with a wand. Either way, if one of these had carried it, it had been taken from them. And there were tracks of many lizardfolk around: it could be the Cold Dragon tribe, but there were more tracks here than just the few lizardfolk that had been on the north side of the bridge; perhaps there had been another group here, but Esthana was no tracker and could not tell for sure.

The lizardfolk did search these, but I’ll give Esthana one treasure roll for stuff that they missed—the lizardfolk left quickly, whereas Esthana has time. The rakshasa’s stuff is all taken, of course.

d6=6 Useful information (clue, notes etc). Okay then, maybe something of the Rakshasa’s stuff is still here; it has to be something concrete and useful as well.

Is the Rakshasa’s book still here? Unlikely (Why wouldn’t the lizardfolk take it?).
Fate d100(37)=Yes

Let’s say it was in a pocket of the cloak; that cloak had strange sigils upon it, so Esthana can see if she knows them.

Spout Lore(Esthana): 2D6(1 3) +0 = 4 Failure!
Introduce a new faction or type of creature: The Lords of Dust
Is the book cursed? Unlikely (I mean it’s possible, but it’s this rakshasa’s personal journal so there’s no need for it to be, they didn’t plan on dying.).
Fate d100(70)=No

Something simpler then. The rakshasa’s bosses are now in play, in some fashion which I’ll figure out another time.

She had almost given up searching, when a red cloak caught the Templar’s attention. It seemed discarded, as it was not fixed to a body, and certainly would not belong to her party. The cloak bore some strange symbols that Esthana did not recognise; in the inside pocket was a leather-bound journal, with a symbol of a tower in flames on the front cover. The book was written in a language that she did not understand or even recognise; it seemed out of place, even for a group of mercenaries including orcs and ogres. Perhaps Vaalyun can make something of this.

As she put the book away, her eye was drawn to a small snake, perhaps two feet long, moving across the charred ground. The jungle was full of wildlife and so it would hardly be noteworthy, except that the snake was coming straight towards her. As it drew close though, Esthana realized that the snake was familiar—it was Nyseris’ animal companion, Asmure. It stopped in front of her, seeming to wait for the Templar to do something.

Anaya and Nyseris were not here, and would not have left voluntarily without her; they were prisoners, Esthana supposed. She was no tracker and did not know the jungle, so her only other alternative was to try to return to the Cold Dragon village or to Newthrone.

She tightened the straps of her pack, then turned back to the snake. “Can you lead me to Nyseris?” The creature surely did not understand Common, perhaps any language, but hopefully it wanted to return to the ranger.

Asmure turned away, slithering down a tree root, heading east. I guess that’s good enough for me, thought Esthana, and followed the creature deeper into the jungle.

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 6
Scene setup: d10=6 (Interrupt!)

Event: NPC Action(Tassis): 62 = Inspect, 14 = Peace
I like the idea—the Templar’s boss showing up to tell them to make less trouble—but it’s the wrong moment in the story for that to happen. There’s just no way he can reach Anaya or Esthana while they are in the middle of the jungle. And this is an interrupt, not an event, so it can’t be delayed/offscreen action. Let’s try a reroll
Event: NPC Action(Borurol): 23 = Judge, 79 = Vehicle
Okay, that I can work with. It’s Eberron, so the most interesting vehicle we can have is an airship. Introduce a new faction or type of creature: House Lyrander

Newthrone, Q’barra
Nymm 11, 997 YK

Vaalyun stepped into the common room at the Dragon’s Hoard and glanced around, looking for new arrivals. Most locals were busy at this time of day, so there were only a few travellers seated at the tables this morning. Bertram d’Ghallanda stood behind the bar as usual and, recognising Vaalyun immediately, waved him over.

Defy Danger(CON)(Vaalyun): 2D6(5 2) +0 = 7 Partial success.
Worse outcome

Vaalyun had not come to talk to d’Ghallanda, but it would not do to snub a business associate. He approached the bar, walking as casually as he could despite the pain in his ankle. Despite two days of rest, the injury—sustained in his fall in flight from the Tharashk guildhouse—was still troubling him, but he dared not reveal the injury to his bodyguards. The two Tharashk guards were with him, of course, as they were paid to shadow him throughout the day; Vaalyun regretted hiring them, as they limited what he could do during the day, but it could not be helped now.

“How is your new chapterhouse doing?” d’Ghallanda asked when Vaalyun approached.

“Fine, thank you. The building is well suited to our purposes,” Vaalyun said.

Discern Realities(Vaalyun): 2D6(4 6) +1 = 11 Success!
What here is useful or valuable to me?
What happened here recently?
Hold 1

“I am glad to hear it. The more the Houses prosper here, the more I do.” d’Ghallanda was in a good mood, and Vaalyun could guess why: the new arrival signalled more work for the Ghallanda enclave here.

“Are those the newcomers?” he asked, looking over his shoulder at a group of half-elves seated by the window.

“Yes indeed. The airship arrived only a few hours ago.”

Vaalyun had heard about the airship by a report from Ievos already, and he already knew that he had not seen these half-elves here before, so his questions were more for politeness than necessity. “I will take the opportunity to introduce myself, then,” he said, ending with a bow to Bertram.

Spend hold(Vaalyun): Who is really in control here? (context: which of the new arrivals is the one in charge)

Since Vaalyun had a success, and the Dragonmarked houses cooperate to an extent, let’s say he actually knows the Lyrander heir here.

There were three half-elves at the table, all finely dressed with well-tailored clothes and sky-blue ermine-trimmed cloaks. Their cloak clasps bore the imprint of a kraken, the symbol of House Lyrander—the House that operated Khorvaire’s airships. Vaalyun easily identified the leader of the group, a male half-elf who was the oldest of the group; indeed, he recognised him, having met him in Thaliost perhaps ten years ago.

“Greetings, Michnas d’Lyrander. Would I be intruding if I joined you?” Vaalyun bowed formally.

Michnas bowed his head in return, and gestured to an empty seat. “It is good to see you again, Vaalyun d’Phiarlan, in this distant corner of the world.”

Michnas was around sixty years old, with a scar under his left eye that he must have got a long time ago. His doublet, dark blue and embroidered with silver thread, was of a quality that marked him as a person of some wealth. His tone was a little formal, and his expression was guarded—although Vaalyun, ever diplomatic in his dealings with others, was used to that sort of reception.

What does Vaalyun know of this Captain Michnas?

Spout Lore(Vaalyun): 2D6(6 1) +2 = 9 Partial success.
Vague information

Vaalyun tried to recall what he had heard of this Michnas. He was a captain of some repute; Lyrander operated regular airship services between many of Khorvaire’s cities, but Michnas was surely doing something more important than ferrying nobles between cities once a week. There were rumours that some Lyrander captains had been hired out as privateers during the Last War, but Vaalyun had no way of knowing if Michnas was one such.

“It is good to see you also. We are far from where we last met. Yet this country is a rising force, and draws the interest of many Houses it seems.” As usual, Vaalyun fell easily into conversation about business.

Vaalyun wants to know why these newcomers are here. +1 forward for acting on the results of his Discern. He is parleying with his local knowledge.

Parley(Vaalyun): 2D6(3 6) +2+1 = 12 Success!
You get it, and don’t have to give very much in return.

“I gather that Tharashk and Ghallanda have been here for some time, but your own presence I did not know of until we arrived.”

“Yes; Ghallanda has strong roots in the halfling enclave here, and Tharashk is a growing presence here thanks to the dragonshard trade.”

“Maugron, Lanverel—leave us a moment.” Michnas dismissed his two associates, and they reluctantly picked up their beers and moved to another table nearby. Vaalyun gladly reciprocated, gesturing to his orc and half-orc bodyguards to stand away from them.

“How much do you know of this dragonshard trade? Is the jungle as lucrative as Tharashk claims?” Michnas was very much in earnest now. Vaalyun kept the conversation casual, as if merely sharing professional gossip—though in reality he was delighted at the turn of conversation.

“Yes, Tharashk appears to be able to locate substantial deposits of Eberron dragonshards here. Their trade is thriving I believe; substantial expeditions are organised often, I hear.”

“So Bertram d’Ghallanda said. Is the King complaisant with this trade? Tharashk has asked our assistance with exploring more distant deposits, but we would like to understand the position of the government here before involving ourselves too deeply.”

This made sense to Vaalyun. Tharashk’s expeditions were mostly on foot through the jungle so far, but the trade was so profitable that it made sense to use airships to speed up the work in more distance locations. And using airships meant bringing House Lyrander into the deal.

“As far as I know, the government is happy to see Tharashk bringing more trade to the town. But I have not met the King himself, only the Marshal.”

Michnas nodded, but Vaalyun saw an opportunity here. Clearly Michnas was concerned about assisting House Tharashk while having only their word that the government approved—or at least accepted—the dragonshard trade.

“I understand the importance of knowing that the nobles of any place are supportive of ones’ trade—hence my approach to the Marshal when I arrived. And I have made some connections at court already in my short time here. Perhaps I could be of use in arranging a meeting for you with the appropriate official?”

Parley(Vaalyun): 2D6(1 5) +2 = 8 Partial success.
Vaalyun is offering to arrange a meeting, and in exchange wants to be in the confidence of Michnas. I think the limitation of his partial success here is that he doesn’t get to be at the meeting (not openly at least: he might have to make rolls to spy on it, if he wants that).

Michnas relaxed a little. “We understand each other. I would be glad if you can arrange such a meeting.”

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 5
Scene setup: d10=7 (unchanged)

Defy Danger(CON)(Nyseris): 2D6(6 6) +1 = 13 Success!
Badly injured, at 1HP, hands bound—but you stay on your feet through a nine-hour forced march.

The tent flap was held aside, and Anaya was thrust inside at spearpoint. Her hands were bound, but the Blackscales had left her with her chainmail and tabard, the silver flame symbol embroidered on the front still visible though the grime and bloodstains.

The Blackscale raiding party had marched all afternoon until well after dusk before making camp. There were around twenty lizardfolk in the group, including their leader and a shaman; since they had marched so late, Anaya supposed that they had travelled far and had far to go to their destination. Anaya’s attention on the march had been divided between the Blackscales and Nyseris, who was in bad shape after the fight; she had feared that the ranger would succumb to their many wounds, but they had been able to match the pace of their captors through the long march without difficulty.

Outside the camp had been lit by a large campfire, but inside the light was an eerie purple coming from an everbright lantern. The chieftain stood waiting for Anaya; they said something in Draconic to the guards, who pushed Anaya to the centre of the tent and then stood to the sides, still with spears ready. The lizardfolk could not stop her drawing on the power of the Flame—but they could kill her if she tried it.

“I am Neeate, of the Acid S–scar tribe,” said the chieftain. Neeate was tall even for a lizardfolk, nearly seven foot, and their black scales glinted in the purple light.

“Lady Anaya, Templar of the Silver Flame.” Anaya was tired and wished she could sit, but did not wish to show weakness in front of her captors before she knew what they intended.

“We have been watching you for some weeks now.”

Anaya did not know whether to believe that. “What business do you have with the Church?”

“What brings you to Q’barra?”

“Why have you taken us captive?”

Neeate said something to one of the guards, who stepped up to Anaya and struck her in the back with the butt of their spear. Anaya fell to her knees.

Tell them the requirements or consequences and ask

Defy Danger(INT)(Anaya): 2D6(4 4) +1 = 9 Partial success.
Worse outcome; you give away some information and get some information

“I must bring you alive to Rhashaak, but they said nothing about your condition. Make this difficult if you must, but we will have answers–s from you.”

Anaya was tired, and still injured from the fight with the Tharashk ambushers; she needed time to rest and renew her powers. She nodded reluctantly. “I seek out cultists of the Dragon Below.”

“And you found a rakshasa. Do you know what it was doing in Q’barra?”

Investigate(Anaya): 2D6(6 2) +1 = 9 Partial success.
Vague information

“No.” Anaya had been thinking about that, too, during today’s march. The rakshasa were agents and commanders amongst the demons, but why was it working with House Tharashk?

“It was carrying this—do you recognise it?” Neeate took something from their pack and handed it to Anaya; it was a seal, a noble’s stamp for sealing documents with their heraldic symbol.

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(5 6) +3 = 14 Success!
What here is useful or valuable to me? What here is not what it appears to be?

Three lizards and a dragon... Anaya realized that she knew the sigil. “It is Count Zuokas’ seal.”

“A human noble?” Neeate was watching her closely.

“Yes.” Anaya was the younger daughter of a noble herself, and knew that such a seal would only be in the hands of a trusted member of the household—like their steward. Elisea was the rakshasa, disguised?

“What do you know of this noble?” asked Neeate.

“They were the organizer of a group of demon cultists.” Anaya knew now that that was not strictly true—the rakshasa must have been the real power behind the cult—but she hoped it was close enough to the truth to fool her captor.

“Interesting; we have encountered humans bearing this s–sigil before. Humans are troublesome upstarts; they have no business interfering in the affairs of the lizardfolk. The Dragon Below is ours. Where is this Count?”

An attack on Newthrone or its environs by the lizardfolk could start a war. “He is already dead; we killed him and his cultists.”

Offer Aid from an Enemy, or Opposition from an Ally: reversed in this case: the player characters helped enemy NPCs by killing off a rival faction.

“Then it appears that you have already been of service to us. You have our thanks, Templar. I hope that you will be able to render us an even greater service soon.”

“What do you want from us?”

GM move(soft): Show signs of an approaching threat: the GM makes a soft move ahead of the hard move Learn forbidden knowledge (one of the Blackscale’s front moves, as Arcane Enemies); showing the player characters the coming Grim Portent.

“We need someone to channel the Silver Flame. We need you to free Rhashaak.”

Anaya’s eyes widened in horror. “I do not have that power,” she said in alarm, as much to herself as to Neeate. The creatures bound by the Flame were the demons of greatest evil and danger to the world, as she had been taught and had preached as a cleric for years; the idea that her power could be used to release such an evil into the world was appalling. “I will not aid you!”

Neeate bared their teeth in a threatening smile. “We will see.”

End of Session(party): Vaalyun used his House’s reputation again, albeit a little indirectly; and I think introducing House Lyrander is enough to say that we learned something new about the world.

XP: Anaya: 0 failures, +1 for session goals; at 9XP.
Esthana: 1 failure, +1 for session goals; at 3XP.
Nyseris: 0 failures, +1 for session goals; at 9XP.
Vaalyun: 0 failures, alignment goal met, +1 for session goals; at 4XP.

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