Sunday, April 10, 2016

Session Capture: Varens Session 9, Our Heroes Discover an Unsettling Crater

When suddenly, the party found
themselves in a bleak clearing
with nothing but a crater.
Two weeks in a row?! Wowie kapowie! The session felt shortish, but a lot happened! No pithy, cunning remarks, so let's just jump right into the summary.

The Cast

  • Sophie - A young artificer girl, the opposite of self-aware, but wants to be recognized as a genius of her time. Her poor social graces put a damper on the possibility of that ever happening. She doesn't care. Results should speak for themselves.
  • Stuart ("Corduroy") - an Innkeeper saddled with the family business, but would much rather travel the world. He can't part outright with the family tavern out of respect for his family, but he needs to find and hire people that he can trust to take care of it in his absence. Additionally, he will need to gather enough money to pay them in advance; he doesn't know how profitable the inn will be in his absence, nor how long he'll be gone.
  • Wynter - a Scholar who has just wandered into the town of Wood's Edge, she is just going along with whatever Sophie and Stuart are doing. She's not from around there and doesn't know what's what, and as a result, is unfortunately using Sophie as a barometer for "normal".
  • Michelle (NPC) - A high ranking Merchant Guild member. She is a coleopteran, so she has a few unique mannerisms that are unfamiliar to the party, but is shy about her voice, so she speaks mostly through her partner Vincent, to whom she communicates using a complicated form of sign language. She is both an excellent artisan using rare techniques known only to coleopterans, and a master of business. Her shell, however has been cracked, and has been repaired in a kintsukuroi shell.
  • Vincent (NPC) - Although technically her assistant, and in terms of profession, subordinate, Michelle calls him her partner out of respect, appreciation and genuine mutual friendship. Vincent is a Xenophile gnome extremely fascinated with Coleopteran culture. Coleopterans are a rare sight in this setting because they have very exclusionary policies, and they live atop a giant tree inaccessible to most but those races gifted with flight. Besides his extreme fascination with Coleopteran culture, he holds etiquette in very high regard and hates when people snub the rules or interrupt him.


The session begins at the end of the 8th day.
Nothing especially happens as camp is set up, Sophie convinces Wynter to read the Thaumatology book so that Sophie can learn it from her. She then goes about building a campfire because that is what she is wont to do, as the rest of the party prepares to sleep in the cabin of the elven carriage. Corduroy asks to look for water, a hundred feet away from a river, and was eventually successful.
In the middle of the night during Michelle's watch, she failed to notice several rats break into the campsite, and she was completely surrounded... but her 5 DR from being Coleopteran made it literally moot.
The fight started in stun, and everyone had to wake up, which made it take several seconds for the party to defend the client.
Because of darkness penalties from low light, the battle was difficult, and the rats soon turned towards Corduroy and gave him a bite. It took everything Sophie had to not get bit, Feverish defenses, parry, and a back step to almost overcome the -5 from darkness.
Michelle surrounding by rats (Army men)
While everyone else is asleep in the
Meanwhile, Wynter with her bad hearing misunderstood the commotion and went out the wrong door of the cabin, before realizing the watch was on the other side.
The fight being too difficult, Sophie expends a gizmo to pull out a lit torch automatically, reducing vision penalties to 0. This gave Corduroy enough light to overcome shock penalties and defeat one rat in a single blow.
Wynter finally finds her way to the correct side of the cabin, and uses her Wild Talent to negotiate with the rats. She discovers that the rats were hungry, and attacked to get food, so she told them about the skinned carcass of the triger from earlier that day that wasn't too far out, and very easily beats them in a quick contest. The rats decide that with one man down, and food just sitting out, it wasn't worth continuing the battle.
Awkward shell fondling shenanigans.
The next morning, because of Xenophilia, Corduroy finds himself fondling Michelle's shell without permission while Sophie is on the last watch. Through miraculous reaction rolls, the situation is overlooked (or bottled up) for now. The party decides to continue through the forest.
About an hour into travelling, the party happens upon a gray earthen clearing that spreads for quite a distance, completely flat, no flora, no fauna. But in the middle of it all was a great big hole lined with a corkscrew staircase and ramp. The hole is so deep, the party can't even see to the bottom.
Corduroy tells Sophie to throw her lit torch into the hole, to which she angrily replies, 
"how about you throw your mom into the hole?"
"That was rude," responds Corduroy.
"I know, apology accepted."
They light something besides a torch, a cow pat that Sophie still has for some reason, and throw it into the dark pit, but the rushing air puts it out before they can see it hit the bottom.
The party deliberates for a while on whether to explore the cave before Sophie's curiosity gets the better of her.
Moments after deciding to descend into the pit, a rat suddenly comes into view from the edge of the forest and it is charging towards the party.
Wynter attempts to speak to it, since it is a rat, "Hello."
"Hellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohello" it says, never ceasing as it races closer to the party.
Wynter draws a crossbow, and it's head grows another mouth with a crossbow bolt sticking out, while the other mouth continues droning, "hellohellohello."
Corduroy brandishes his broom, which causes it's tail to turn into a broom, and the rat begins growing long spindly human legs, while maintaining its rat body. It launches the broom stick at the party missing, but when the broomstick hits the ground in front of Sophie, it begins to change to a form like liquid mercury before human-ish body parts emerge from the mess. It grows a mouth to continue, "hellohellohellohello."
Corduroy, not understanding rat asks Sophie what it's saying, and so the thing grows a new mouth and starts rattling, "whatsitsayingwhatsitsayingwhatsitsayingwhatsitsaying," as a face like Corduroy's starts to imprint from beneath the surface of the mercury.
[The players here are so literally stunned, they don't know what to do. There is an actual panic.] Because the players are panicked, I have them roll Fright Checks for encountering such an alien being, which they all pass.
The rat out in the far distance that was racing towards the party is now mostly human shape.
Wynter shoots at the nearly human shaped mercury puddle with a crossbow, but misses as it opens up a hole to allow the bolt to pass through. It grows a crossbow out of its human like hand and shoots at Sophie who is able to dodge it.Sophie readies her cape which causes the being, which now has a swirled appearance of both features from Wynter and Sophie, to also start forming a cape around one hand. The other being slowly loses its crossbow as Wynter is no longer looking at it. Sophie murmurs, "What do we do?" and the thing mockingly responds through another mouth, "What do we do?" Harmonizing with the mouth constantly repeating, "what's it saying?" and the other orifice continuing to say "hellohellohello" in the language of rats.
Wynter goes around the back, seeing the soft mercurial unformed backside of the creature, which causes the Wynter Features to start forming and twisting onto its back. She tries to push the being into the pit, but when she does, her hands get stuck from failing a quick contest of strength. It in return tries to push Wynter, its "hands" sticking to her and knocking them both back a space.
The other is starting to get close enough that Corduroy nervously interposes himself between the thing and the clients.
Sophie has an idea and uses a gizmo to pull out a jarred cowpat. The creature does the same and brandishes it closely to Sophie and Wynter's face. Sophie throws it on the ground, and expects the thing to copy her as well, but just as this happens the one running through the open dirt reaches the party, jumps into the gigantic crater and grabs the other with a huge pseudopod on the way down. The mess grabs a wall, pulls itself onto a ramp, and somehow blocks off the passage, before continuing to slink downwards.
Corduroy is badly shaken, and Sophie goes to gather up the cow pat. No use wasting a pat... except it isn't there. So she bottles up some of the sand instead and gives it to Corduroy, "you like weird stuff, right?"
The party realizes there is something strange with the dirt. When it is burned as sophie touches a torch to it, it slightly melts, but then reforms. Coincidentally, a breeze kicks up, and blows out her torch just then. It is also noticed that the edges of the wheels of the carriage have completely eroded, and the party needs to push the carriage out of the area.
Michelle and Vincent decide to reroute the path they are surveying a bit to avoid this area, while Sophie gadgeteers a makeshift repair to the wheels. She is miraculously able to find wood in the forest.
The party travels for the rest of the day pretty uneventfully, they arrive in Fuheka, And Corduroy gets a room from Jefferstone, the dwarven representative of the Merchant's guild who is responsible for the operations in the city famous for mining.
Thus ends the ninth day.

After Action Report

  • I improvised really heavily and managed to put away the rulebook for the entire "mimic" encounter. I was surprised that we managed enough suspension of disbelief to have a panic reaction.
  • I enjoyed Wynter's role playing during the rat attack, I gave her a bonus character point just for sticking to her character concept.
  • The players think the sessions may have been a bit too combat heavy recently so would like more opportunities to use non-combat skills.
  • Wynter would like more characters to interact with her by boon of being different. I'll take a look at how that can be helped. 
I have a Reactive, and meta style of GMing that I more expect a player to go seize the type of fun they want, so if players are presented with a choice of defending someone in court, arguing what to do with a war chest in a town hall, and going surveying for a future road project through somewhat wild territory, I made an assumption that by choosing the survey job, the others were not up their alleys. I will look at it more in the future.

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