[The Delvers Guild returns to the gate under the Moon Manor Ruins and test how the gates work.]
[This game uses the Fifth Revised Edition of the Hero System rules along with the Fantasy Hero supplement. This session happened August 10, 2020.]
Jala – human female – a person of discretion, studying aspects of the Law [to avoid them] at the Dusk Academy
Ricky the Astrologer – human male – has a thirst for knowledge but doesn’t know what he’s searching for, currently studying Astrology at Monarch University
Zarek the Red – fox male – a cerebrally-unfettered spell researcher [read: Mad Scientist] turned into a talking fox, studying Natural Philosophy at Monarch University to find a way to become human again
Vorgand – human female – professional porter and Adventurer’s Aide, irregularly attends classes at The Tested military academy, practitioner of Steel Serpent martial arts
Clarence – human male – studies Religion in Temples district, coincidentally the group healer
Nick Stalwart – human male – part of the Stalwart family of merchants, studying Mathematics at The Interesting Institute of Profitable People, a college at Monarch University
Torsten, Fish, Harek – ex-bandits, now torchbearers for the Delvers Guild
Konrad Moonclub – Stalwart family factor in Little Wythford
Orm Oxdriver – driver of the guild’s over-sized, double-decker vardo
Cromsday, October 31st, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
Ricky went to the shop of Jaunti of the Hidden Country and picked up his newly restored Ancient Elven book on gated teleportation. The book is now in readable condition, if still somewhat delicate.
Vorgand commissioned stitched guild badges for all of the Senior Leadership [the player characters] and was told they would be available November 14th.
Freyday, November 1st, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
The Senior Leadership of the Delvers Guild assembled at the Aegea City docks to catch the ferry across Dragon Bay to Little Wytheford. The guild members were becoming regulars on the Freyday morning ferry ride and claimed their usual spaces on the ferry. They dozed on the trip over, staying out of the wind as the weather was getting cool. Ricky spent the trip skimming through his new book to get a feel for what was in it.
The ferry arrived at the Little Wytheford docks and the passengers disembarked. The Delvers walked over to the Stalwart family warehouse, where they had space rented for goods retrieved and their enormous double-decker vardo. Nick checked in with Konrad, the Stalwart family factor in Little Wytheford to see if the ordered supplies [chicken feed, timber, roofing tiles, and nails] had arrived. Konrad affirmed they had arrived and already loaded into the vardo. Nick asked that the elven chairs in storage be prepped for shipment back to Aegea City on the Sunday Noon ferry. Konrad stated he’d have it done.
By this point Orm had shown up with the oxen to pull the vardo. Once the oxen were hooked up to the vardo, the Delvers climbed aboard. Orm steered the vardo out of the warehouse and eastward. After crossing the Moofolk River, Orm turned the vardo south, following the river. As this was the third time the vardo had travelled this way, the rudimentary beginnings of a path made it easier to stay on track for the hours-long trip.
Shortly After Sunset
The vardo finally arrived at the Moon Manor Ruins on the far side of Faemount Mountain. Torsten, Fish, and Harek [collectively known by the Delvers as The Torchbearers] were alert to their arrival and met them at the ruined gate of the manor. Torsten and Harek helped unload the supplies from the vardo while Fish kept an eye on the small herd of goats, now kept in the roughly penned front courtyard of the ruins. [The more secure back courtyard had been recently grazed out by the goats.]
Once the supplies were secured and the Delvers camping gear set up, the two groups shared information about the goings on over the last week. Watches were set and people slept.
Yggsday, November 2nd, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
Having had breakfast and kitted out for adventuring [putting on armor and weapons and shouldering packs] the Delvers and The Torchbearers walked over to the entrance to the areas beneath the ruins. It took them a little over 20 minutes to make it down to the gate room in the lowest level. Vorgand pulled out the control cubes and set the gate to the moon base so the couch stored there could be retrieved.
The gate blipped to the next setting.
This confused everyone as the setting to the moon had been stable every time they tried it previously. Ricky thought about it and then realized the moon was not yet high enough in the sky. They needed to wait another half hour before the moon would be in proper position for the gate to reach it. This was a new thing they learned.
While waiting, Vorgand set the control cubes to destination 5.4.4, an island with ruins far to the east. The gate opened and the Delvers looked through. They could see that much of the plant life directly around the gate was burned, as though a fire had happened there. This was different than the last viewing, back when they were checking to see which gate combinations were still valid [see Session 12].
Ricky stepped through the gate to see if he could determine the source of the burning. The char from the fire was centered on the gate itself and spanned 4-5 yards in all directions. In the mostly-cleared burn area, Ricky looked to where the control cabinet should have been but wasn’t. He stepped over there to investigate and discovered worn edges where the control cabinet had been long ago. There was char and plant life on top of the stone stubble, suggesting that the control cabinet disappearing was a separate event from the burn. Ricky suspected that the plant life was probably set on fire when the Delvers opened the gate a week ago. He walked back through the gate and explained what he had discovered.
The Delvers discussed the situation. The Delvers decided that there were a number of variables that they did not understand and were wary of. Could someone using the gates show up at the Moon Manor while the Delvers had the gate open? What if someone showed up at the gate while the Delvers were elsewhere exploring? Suddenly leaving the gate open for long time periods while they explored no longer seemed safe.
The Delvers decided to experiment with the gates and the communication earrings they had. An away team was created consisting of Jala, Ricky, Clarence, and Torsten. They would go through the portal wearing three sets of the magic earrings with Vorgand keeping the fourth set at Moon Manor. The plan was to for Vorgand to close the gate and try and communicate with the magic earrings. No matter what was discovered, she would reopen the gate in one minute.
[Digression: if Vorgand had been on the away team instead of Jala, it would have been the Guild’s “captain” (Vorgand), “science officer (Ricky), “medical officer” (Clarence), and one “redshirt” (Torsten). A very Start Trek Original Series away team and it would have happened if Jala’s player had not immediately volunteered to go.]
Ricky led the away team through the gate and just across the outer edge of the burned area. Once in place, Vorgand closed the gate and both sides tried to communicate with each other. Jale, Ricky, and Clarence could hear each other fine, but not Vorgand. Vorgand could hear no one at all. After a minute, she reopened the gate. Ricky noticed that the gate expanded from a single point in the center of the menhir. There was some plant life on the edge of the area the gate expanded to that started smoking when the gate touched it, which confirmed that the burn area was probably caused by the Delvers opening the gate a week ago. Ricky led the away team back through the gate and both sides conferred.
As enough time had passed, Vorgand opened the gate to the moon and Clarence and Ricky retrieved the couch stored there. The Delvers decided to see if they could open the gate from the other side and get back to Moon Manor. The away team was given one of the three sets of control cubes and one of the two powered power stones. Vorgand then opened the gate to location 5.4, another set of island ruins, but one with a control cabinet. The away team stepped through the gate. They would try to reopen the gate from the other side. If nothing happened for five minutes, Vorgand would reopen the gate from the Moon Manor end. Once the away team was through, Vorgand turned off the gate and took a seat on the couch to wait.
Rick placed the power stone on the cabinet and the gate on the island powered up. He then set the cubes to 3.5. At the Moon Manor gate, this combination reflected the gate back to the Moon Manor control room. Instead of opening the gate immediately to the Moon Manor, the island gate blipped once [indicating a malfunctioning portal address] and opened to the gate at 5.4.4. This was unexpected. Clarence suggested they try 2.4 next. Ricky adjusted the cubes and this setting reflected back to where they were. Next they tried 5.4. There were three blips and then it reflected back to them again. The gate addresses were relative to the gate and not tied to a set of fixed addresses. They would need to relearn the addresses for each gate they traveled to. Just after Ricky removed the control cubes from the island gate, the gate reopened from the Moon Manor location. The away team gathered up the control cubes and power stone and returned to the Moon Manor. There they explained what happened.
After some additional discussion, Vorgand decided the group would explore the island ruins at 5.4 to see if anything interesting could be found. The entire group walked through the gate to the island. Based on the location of the sun, Ricky and Nick estimated that the island was noticeably south of Aegea City and probably further east, although they could not tell exactly how far east.
The ruins were mostly the low remains of walls and building foundations on a stony area overlooking a cliff and what was probably the Opal Sea to their north. Zarek flew up to see more. He estimated the ruins were of a town, not quite large enough to be a city. He could see signs of two active settlements on the far edges of the island, one towards the southeast and the other towards the southwest. There were merchant ships sailing in the sea to the north and another island was just visible on the horizon.
Zarek and Ricky also noticed circular features that looked suspiciously like craters of various sizes scattered around the area. The craters were old as they had been partially filled in with dirt plant life and the edges were worn smooth. Investigating one of the smaller circular features, Nick used the wand of wind to blow the debris out. The uncovered crater itself was very smooth, like a great heat had struck the stone, melting part of it. This suggested very powerful magic.
Zarek flew out over the cliff, looking for any cave entrances. He found none. Jala cast a new spell she had learned to try and peer into a shadow on the surface and through another below the surface. The spell failed, which meant there was no place for shadows to be or no light to create shadows if there was space.
Zarek spotted three nearby areas where the trees grew taller than the scrub growing in the stoney area of the ruins. Hoping to find a graveyard to loot, the Delvers investigated. One area was an ancient orchard long overgrown. The second was just a forest area and the third was a heavily overgrown arranged park. None suggested they had tombs to loot.
It being near Noon, the Delvers returned to the Moon Manor through the gate and had lunch.
End of Session
[The players learned things about the gate network, but not all the things they wanted to learn. They might return to the island gate, so I can’t talk more about them at this time, but not every location has things to discover that are relevant to their quest - some are just part of the network.]