Monday, October 31, 2011

The Aldelle Group – Session 49 – Temple to Throne

Session 49 happened Monday, October 17, 2011.

This campaign used the Dyson’s Delve dungeon pages on A Character for Every Game as a starting point, but has now moved on to new material from the DM-in-training.  I heartily recommend Dyson's Delve as a beginning adventure.

Adventuring Group:
Tre-ba Bel a sheer (female elf alchemist)
Elspeth (female half-elf rogue)
Frankie Hu, Master of the Distracting Fist (male dwarf monk)
Harkaitz of the Red Soul (male human cleric of Ra)

Aziz of the Light (male human paladin, cohort of Harkaitz)
Sarisvati the Sun-touched (female Ifrit oracle, cohort of Aziz)
Midnight (female half-elf witch, cohort of Frankie Hu)
Macha (female human fighter, cohort of Elspeth)
Estrela (female Aasimar druid, cohort of Tre-Ba)
Short John Copper (male halfling expert, hireling)
The Red Keffiyehs (human warriors, followers of Harkaitz)
Carnish (male gnoll spellcaster of some sort)
Professor Walsh (male human expert)

Evening, August 3, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, who moves the winds.

We are now encamped a short distance away from the temple Sarisvati’s vision led us to.  I spent the last two days using wind walk moving our group from the Green Pyramid to here.  Tomorrow we will enter the temple.

In the meantime, Frankie and Midnight have finished crafting some magic items for Frankie’s use.  Frankie has also suggested we make a ring of truth – a ring that causes the wearer to speak nothing but the truth.  Frankie believes that it will make questioning people faster and easier.  The trick is that to craft a ring of truth, you have to be crafting one of two other rings and fail, as a ring of truth is a cursed item.

I started crafting it this afternoon, but I have paused.  If I am attempting to forge a cursed ring, what will I actually get?  A ring of truth may only be one of the possible outcomes of failure.  Might not failing on purpose lead to some different cursed item?

Also, Short John has informed me we are a little past the halfway point on our foodstuffs and we will need to resupply in a week or so, it depends upon how many more “lost strays” we pick up.

Late Morning, August 4, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, who inspires the best in us.

Early this morning we walked over to the Red Temple of Ra.  It is an immense structure, even if it is not as large as the two pyramids we have explored so far on this quest.  What the Red Temple lacks in size it makes up for in architecture.  The central portion is a 240 ft by 240 ft square with an 80 ft square extension in the center of each wall.  The walls are 50 ft high and the central square is topped by an immense dome, easily another 50 ft higher.  Sprouting from flat portions of the roof of the center square are four towers, each topped by a cone.  There are open archways in the center of each outermost wall.

We approached the nearest archway and discovered that despite being open, no sand or dust from the desert enters the temple.  Once we were inside, we saw that the entire interior of the structure was one immense chamber.  The towers were spaced equally around the large central area and supported the roof.  They had four doors each, two each on opposite sides.  Between each tower was a platform raised 10 ft and topped with an ornate altar to Ra.  The dome appeared to be self-supporting, but I am no architect.  To say the walls were decorated does not do them any justice.  The entire history of the worship of Ra over the last 500 years was depicted on the walls in the form of legends and stories of the faithful.  It was beyond inspirational and I could do little but stare at it agape for several minutes.

My companions, meanwhile, immediately started sweeping the inside for traps and hidden passages.  When I was not quite so overwhelmed by the grandeur of the temple I asked Carnish to cast fly on me and he did so.  I then took the time to fly to exterior top of the dome and landed, then the tops of the four towers.  I did not really believe this would trigger anything like what we were hoping to see happen, but I like to be thorough and I was doing nothing helpful on searching for traps or concealed compartments.

By the time I returned, Elspeth had completed her extensive search of the entire chamber for traps, including the doors to all of the towers.  She found none.  Frankie had search for concealed passages or compartments and found only one unusual feature: the central floor appeared to descend, but he could not locate the trigger mechanism.  Elspeth and Frankie determined that the triggering mechanism was some sort of remote trigger.  Frankie wondered aloud if the temple decorations showed scenes of the interior of the table and so Frankie, Elspeth, and Tre-ba started looking more closely at what was shown.  Elspeth noticed that all the scenes of healing showed the healer laying hands on the person being healed, even in scenes where it was clear that a burst of positive energy was being channeled.

Based on that observation, Aziz went to each altar and used his lay on hands ability.  When that did not cause anything to happen, he did the same to the floor section that should move.  This triggered the movement of a 30-foot square of the floor, which descended 20 ft.  The walls of the exposed area are carved in heavy bas relief, except for a five-foot wide corridor on the north wall.  This passage led to a single room with an altar and a mural on the back showing part of the legend of Sylar, specifically a scene of Sylar healing one of his compatriots.  Taking a cue from the mural, Aziz laid hands on the altar.  This caused another secret door to open in the dropped floor area.  Behind that secret door was a room that mirrored the first and, after Aziz laid hands on the altar in that room, a descending set of stairs was revealed in the floor of the dropped floor area.

Estrela flew into the lower chamber as a bat to scout and reported a raised dais with a single sarcophagus on it.  Elspeth searched the area for traps and reported none (Aziz asked if she was sure before entering).  Based on the decorations on the sarcophagus, this was the sarcophagus of Sylar himself!

Aziz reverently opened the sarcophagus and laid hands on the corpse of the legendary paladin.  While nothing appeared to happen as a result to those inside the chamber, those outside noticed a floating platform appear at the apex of the dome.  I flew up to the platform (Carnish’s fly spell was still active) and found a golden altar.  I prayed at the altar for guidance and received a vision of an area I recognized just as an immense pyramid started rising from the sands, sand pouring off the pyramid like boiling water.  The place was the location of the Uskar Gate, where the storm giants assisted us – this was the Throne of Ra rising above the sands once again!

Knowing where we needed to go next, we exited the Red Temple.  As we left, all the shifted floors, concealed passages, and floating platforms re-concealed themselves.  It was quite impressive.

As we were walking away from the Temple and back to camp, Midnight’s detect scrying spell went off – the lich was attempting to spy upon me.  Thanks to the warning from Midnight’s spell I was able to focus my will and the scrying failed. 

It did start a fierce debate as to what our next course of action was.  We knew where we needed to go, but it was three days march from our current location.  We suspected the lich had a spell of some sort to warn him if the Throne of Ra rose to the surface (he had obviously been accessing it via teleportation) – the timing of the scrying and our raising the Throne seemed too coincidental to be anything other than a response from the lich.

Needing more information as to the lich’s actions, I cast sending and sent the following message to Brek’nok:
Have raised Throne of Ra. Going there to seal gate. Scry the lich – we need to know his location over the next two days. ~Super Rat

The response I received was:
Lich and vampire in stone structure. Skeletal champions on watch outside. Lich studying tome. Close to gate. How goes it on your end? ~Brek’nok

Seeing an opportunity to surprise or get ahead of the lich, I suggested we use wind walk to fly the majority of us directly to the Throne of Ra now and try and take out the gate suddenly instead of over three days from now.  The lich does not seem to know about my ability to cast wind walk yet, so we should be at the Throne two days before he expects us.  The rest of the group agreed to this and we will be flying out shortly.  I will be taking Aziz, Sarisvati, Tre-ba, Frankie, Midnight, Elspeth, Macha, and Asmo.  Estrela will stay in bat form and fly along in a pocket.  Carnish will stay here with Short John and the Red Keffiyeh guarding the camp.  If all goes well, we will return in 2-3 days.  If they do not hear from us in five days, their orders are to report to the temple of the city of Uru and report what has happened.

It is time to go.

Midafternoon, August 4, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, who blinds our enemies.

We have arrived at the Throne of Ra, an immense pyramid with deep carvings in each side of the pyramid of Ra sitting on his throne.  The top fifth of the pyramid is carved into the shape of an Eye of Ra, looking to the four cardinal directions.  We have just received a sending from Brek’nok:
Gate secured. Want us to get phylactery? Could also go to Terranor or just help the dwarves. Any preference? Best of luck at Throne of Ra. ~Brek’nok

*End of Session*

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"...She Could Only Answer in Tongues."

[This is the character background for Sarisvati The Suntouched, the cohort of my PC's cohort in The Aldelle Group game.  I meant to write this up back when I wrote the backgrounds for Harkaitz and Aziz, but never got back to it until now in direct response to a request for it.]

Sarisvati was born into a family not expecting her.  It is assumed that her mother could not explain why her daughter had hair of flames and golden eyes and not the black hair and dark eyes of the village.  Shortly after her birth she was abandoned at a local temple of Surya, god of the Sun.  The priest who found her, Sarat, recognized a sign from Surya when he saw it.  The child was taken in and named “Little Fire Hair”.

“Little Fire Hair” was raised in the temple and took to the life there quickly.  When she reached five years of age she started training at the temple.  She learned quickly and when she was eight, she was given the name Sarisvati, after the goddess of knowledge.  There was some talk of sending her to the temple of Sarisvati for training.  Unfortunately, the one time she was sent to the temple of Sarisvati to see how she took to the training there, she kept accidentally setting things on fire with her hands.  She was quickly returned to the temple of Surya, where she stayed.

As she grew, it was noticed she had a knack of being exactly where she was needed, when she was needed, even if she was supposed to be somewhere else.  Sometimes she was found in places she should not have been and as a result received punishment – punishment that was moderated by the actual need for her to be there at that time. 

The first time this happened was in the temple’s inner sanctum during a high ceremony.  A rakshasa had infiltrated the temple, intent upon assassinating Sarat (who was now the High Priest) during the ceremony.  Just as the rakshasa was moving to attack, Sarisvati stepped out of a hiding place, hands aflame, yelling a warning in a language few knew [Ignan], despite her desire to speak normally.  The rakshasa, surprised and no longer with the element of surprise, fled from this fiery temple defender, thinking her much more powerful than she was.  After the rakshasa had fled and the ceremony was over, Sarisvati found she could once again speak normally.  After being forced to write out “I will not hide in the sanctum during a ceremony I am not supposed to attend” 1000 times, she was praised for bravery and the use of holy flame in defense of the temple.  When asked why she happened to be there, she could only answer in tongues.

While most of the young women in the area her age were already married by the time she turned 16, Sarisvati kept her independence – few men wanted a wife with flames for hair and those seeking some sort of social leverage by marrying a child of the temple were convinced to look elsewhere when Sarisvati lit her hands on fire.  While admonished by Sarat, whom she considered her father and he her as his daughter, she was admonished lightly.  When he asked her why she kept frightening off her suitors, she could only answer in tongues.

When Sarisvati turned 18, she knew the lands around her home temple well and was known in them.  She started to explore further and further, looking for something she could not quite vocalize.  With the blessing of Sarat, she followed the setting sun, eventually arriving at a caravansary on the fringe of the lands she knew.  There she talked with traders from lands farther to the west, including a traveling priest of Ra, Salah of the Burning Valley.  The priest’s holy symbol called to Sarisvati, almost literally, and when allowed to hold it, she was lost in a vision of flames for an unknown period of time.

When Sarisvati came to herself again, everyone in the caravansary but Salah had fled her vicinity.  He told her she had started speaking in tongues and her skin had turned molten, glowing with a fierce inner heat for the last hour.  This had frightened the other travelers and they fled to other parts of the caravansary while he waited.  Sarisvati asked Salah why he had not fled and he answered, “Ra protects from flame those who serve the sun.”  After talking the rest of the day and through the night about Ra and his worship, Sarisvati decided she must travel further west to the lands of Ra.  When asked why, she could only answer in tongues.

Sarisvati travelled generally west for several years, digressing from her path when moved by the flames or a feeling.  She occasionally met with Salah when their paths crossed (he often traversed the lands east of the Uskar Desert) and the two shared what they had seen and learned.  The last time this occurred Sarisvati was 22 and she received another vision.  This time she saw the sun eclipsed and a shadow drown the fires in her vision.  When she came to herself again, she knew she had to travel far to the west and amongst elves to find a person.  When Salah asked who she was looking for, she could only answer in tongues.

After a year of travel (and occasional adventure) she found herself in Ttaeladra, a city of elves, where she found a human paladin in the service of Ra, Aziz of the Light, and recognized him from her vision.  She approached him and stated she would help him.  When Aziz asked why, she could only answer in tongues.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Aldelle Group – Session 48 – The Thieves’ Bazaar

Session 48 happened Tuesday, October 11, 2011.

This campaign used the Dyson’s Delve dungeon pages on A Character for Every Game as a starting point, but has now moved on to new material from the DM-in-training.  I heartily recommend Dyson's Delve as a beginning adventure.

Adventuring Group:
Tre-ba Bel a sheer (female elf alchemist)
Elspeth (female half-elf rogue)
Frankie Hu, Master of the Distracting Fist (male dwarf monk)
Harkaitz of the Red Soul (male human cleric of Ra)

Aziz of the Light (male human paladin, cohort of Harkaitz)
Sarisvati the Sun-touched (female Ifrit oracle, cohort of Aziz)
Midnight (female half-elf witch, cohort of Frankie Hu)
Macha (female human fighter, cohort of Elspeth)
Estrela (female Aasimar druid, cohort of Tre-Ba)
Short John Copper (male halfling expert, hireling)
The Red Keffiyehs (human warriors, followers of Harkaitz)
Carnish (male gnoll spellcaster of some sort)
Professor Walsh (male human expert)

Evening, July 31, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, Guardian of us all.

Sarisvati can be a frightening woman when she wants to be.  Her hair is normally flame, but as an Oracle of Ra she can call deeply on the fire of the sun.  She can sprout wings of fire and radiate the heat of a wall of fire from her skin, which has the side effect of lighting up her eyes from inside as by the sun.  She can call flames to her hands hot enough to melt (small amounts) of sand into glass.  (I can do the same, but I have used it to burn down a door in the drow gatehouse).

This impressed our captive greatly.  He fairly quickly told Sarisvati that the gang he was with were the Falcon’s Claw, who specialized in robbing tombs and abandoned temples.  The dead people we found were not temple defenders but a rival gang that disguise themselves in order to infiltrate their target.  They are the Golden Hand.  He also claimed that he and those with him were just watching the place until their boss got back from selling a valuable item from inside the pyramid.  I signaled to Frankie to knock out our captive at this point.  Sarisvati’s act was good fun, but stolen items from the temple are a serious matter.  In the morning I will need to commune with Ra to gain some clarity.

Morning, August 1, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, who shows us each day anew.

I have communed with Ra and He has banished the darkness in my soul.

Last night I received a sending from our team in the mountains.  It stated:
“Lich heading north on boat. Looks like elf. Starting coup in orc city. Have not seen dragon. Rescuing dwarves. Have not found gate. –Super Rat”
It was good that Brek’nok was occasionally still getting through to scry on the lich.  I am curious as to why he is disguised as an elf.  I suspect he realized the false priest of Ra disguise was not working for him.  I responded:
“Found new pyramid. Stone golems are dangerous. Wind walk rocks. Missing mountain gate troublesome. Hope to raise Uskar Gate soon. Any sign of vampire? –Harkaitz”
Having communed with Ra, I now know we must still enter the Green Pyramid, which is empty of thieves.  Ra also confirmed that the dead people with holy symbols were actually thieves, so our prisoner will get to live.  Ra also indicated that the item stolen is still important and the lich is trying to cause us problems.  Uru is safe, but Lagaskia is only safe “for now”.

The commune also gave me a new perspective on my problem with Estrela.  She is a good person at heart, even if her passions override her at times.  I am still not happy she killed the prisoner, but this is not part of a pattern of wanton killing and she had been provoked by the bandit (being run through with a sword is provoking no matter who you are).  I am going to let this go.  If it happens again, I will reconsider then, but until that happens, Estrela is a good traveling companion.

We will be heading into the pyramid once we finish cleaning camp after breakfast.  Luna (and her prestidigitation) is much missed by all of us.

Evening, August 1, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, who flies with wings of flame.

This pyramid was much simpler than the last one, but by no means simple.  Past the entrance was a single chamber with a secret door on the left side.  Behind the secret door was a small shrine.  Inside that area was a hidden alcove that once held something, but no longer did (other than a square ring of dust).  This seemed to be a dead end, but we kept searching.

I activated my nimbus of light in the back room and this caused a large Eye of Ra to appear on the back wall, which then faded away, exposing a mosaic covered room.  The back was a huge mosaic of a phoenix, a creature sacred to Ra and associated with His worship.    We searched that room for a secret passage of any sort, but found nothing.  Thinking on the symbology of a phoenix, I asked Sarisvati to enter the room and activate her wings of flame.

When she did so, the top half of the mosaic erupted into flame and evaporated, exposing a 10-foot wide “chimney”.  I had Carnish grant me flight and flew up, finding another altar to Ra.  I tried my nimbus of light here, but knew that this would take Sarisvati to get past.  Sometimes I am a creature of habit.

Sarisvati flew up the “chimney” and prayed at the altar to Ra.  She received a vision similar to the one I received three days ago.  Hers shows the way to a temple to the southeast, almost halfway to Uru.  After discussing it a bit, we flew back down and rejoined the others, explaining what was next on our quest.  We all returned to camp to plan further.

Back in camp we spent some some time attempting to decypher a coded message we took from the bandits to no avail.  We decided it was time to talk with our prisoner again.  This time I did the talking.  I offered him a skin of water and directions to the nearest branch of the Great River if he'd answer our questions.

Once we got to talking (and he realized I was serious about letting him go), he was fairly chatty.  He told us his boss was heading to a bazaar in the river delta know only to those dealing in goods of questionable ownership.  He did not know what his boss had taken from the Green Pyramid, but the bazaar was the place they sold everything.  Once I was certain we had everything we needed to find this thieves’ bazaar, I gave him a skin full of water and pointed him in the direction of the river.  It is a day away, but he should have enough water to make it there safely.

Once he was gone, my companions and I started discussing what we should do next.  Ra indicated the item was still important, even if not part of our immediate quest.  It sounded like it might be something the lich or the vampire would want, making it something we wanted to keep away from them.  Plus, we knew where it would be soon, so we decided to go after it.

To be quick and make it to the bazaar in time, I would need to use wind walk and fly a small group of us there.  I choose Elspeth, Macha, Frankie, and Asmo for a good mix of subtlety and brute force.

We flew to the location the bandit indicated and found a cluster of tents of various sizes.  We landed a dune or two away from the tents and I dropped Elspeth and Macha from the wind walk spell so they could walk in and scout the bazaar.  Tre-ba had given Elspeth an elixir of blue dragon breath to use as a weapon or a signal for the rest of us to arrive in case things went bad.  Good thing, too.

Elspeth and Macha made it into the camp with little problem.  Elspeth asked around and did find the correct tent, but also set off the camp (I’m not certain how).  We recognized something was wrong when Elspeth and Macha backed out of the tent, weapons at the ready.  Elspeth confirmed this by breathing a bolt of lightning into the tent.  The rest of us sprang into action.

Asmo dropped in a couple of fireballs and I put a wall of fire around the tent we were interested in.  This changed attitudes in the camp quickly and the rest of the camp suddenly decided that maybe Elspeth and Macha were not people they were interested in after all.  Also, the people in the tent became much more talkative and less ready to fight.

In the end, we learned that the item we wanted had not made it to the bazaar yet and due to the smoke from the fires never would.  I turned this around by loudly offering 8000 gold for “the box”.  This was the amount of valuables we had taken from the Falcon’s Claw bandits at the Green Pyramid, which seemed fair use of the valuables – buying the item with the bandit’s own money.  I stated that if anyone found the item in question, they should contact me through the Temple of Ra in Lagaskia.  I then cast wind walk on Elspeth and Macha and we all flew back to the camp at the Green Pyramid.  With an 8000 gold bounty on "the box", things should get exciting for the Falcon's Claw.

Later on I warned the High Priest in Lagaskia, Qasim of the Green Heart, via a sending to expect some disreputable people showing up wishing to trade an item for coin.  Qasim and I go back several years and I promised to tell the full story if he’d work with me on this.  He agreed, curious what I was up to.

*End of Session*

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Aldelle Group – Session 47 – Light and Darkness

Session 47 happened Wednesday, October 5, 2011.

This campaign used the Dyson’s Delve dungeon pages on A Character for Every Game as a starting point, but has now moved on to new material from the DM-in-training.  I heartily recommend Dyson's Delve as a beginning adventure.

Adventuring Group:
Tre-ba Bel a sheer (female elf alchemist)
Elspeth (female half-elf rogue)
Frankie Hu, Master of the Distracting Fist (male dwarf monk)
Harkaitz of the Red Soul (male human cleric of Ra)

NPCs:Aziz of the Light (male human paladin, cohort of Harkaitz)
Sarisvati the Sun-touched (female Ifrit oracle, cohort of Aziz)
Midnight (female half-elf witch, cohort of Frankie Hu)
Macha (female human fighter, cohort of Elspeth)
Estrela (female Aasimar druid, cohort of Tre-Ba)
Short John Copper (male halfling expert, hireling)
The Red Keffiyehs (human warriors, followers of Harkaitz)
Carnish (male gnoll spellcaster of some sort)
Professor Walsh (male human expert)

Evening, July 29, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, who guides my path.

So that went about as well as expected.  OK – it was worse than expected, but no one actually died, praise Ra.

So when I placed the stone head, the statue animated, but not as an animated statue.  It animated as a stone golem, which we now know are much worse than animated statues.  But I get ahead of myself.

It looked down at Aziz and I and asked “Who thinks they are worthy?”  This was not entirely unexpected – it is why I volunteered to place the head on the statue.  After it asked its question, I raised my hand and stated “Hail Ra.”  It immediately attacked me with the stone scimitar we had placed in its hands.  And it hit hard.  Twice.  I quickly stepped back, but could not get outside its reach.  [Harkaitz rolled the highest initiative for this combat.  It was the first time ever in nearly a year of regular play.  It threw us off balance the entire combat.]

Aziz and Macha stepped up and blocked for the rest of us while Frankie slid around and started throwing fists harder than stone.  The golem breathed out a cloud of gas that slowed Macha, but Aziz, Frankie, and I were able to avoid the effect.  The fight was slowly turning to favor us (even though Macha required regular healing to stay on her feet) when a bright light filled the room and the entire room reset.  Except our wounds.  While we panted, the golem stood aside and said we could pass.  I'm not certain what changed, but we were not going to pass up the opportunity to NOT fight a stone golem.

We took some time to heal up.  I then stepped past the golem and went to push open the double doors in the back of the room, but everyone wanted Elspeth to check the doors for traps first, so I waited.  Once she cleared the doors, we discussed taking a short break to use nap stack to recover, but decided there was no place secure enough we would feel safe and the pass from the golem might be timed. 

I pushed the doors open.  They opened noiselessly with little effort.  The chamber beyond was octagonal in shape.  The 50-foot tall walls were covered in great murals showing legends from the worship of Ra.  The mural on the left showed Sylar defeating The Nightshade.  The mural on the back wall showed scenes from the First Pilgrimage while the wall on the right told the story of the spread of the worship of Ra across the Uskar.

We tried several things and looked around for a way to proceed.  I eventually cast find the path, which directed me to stand in the center of the room.  Professor Walsh, having read the various inscriptions on the walls, asked if there were any other interpretations of “the Light of Ra”.  I said, “Well, there’s this,” and activated my nimbus of light.  This triggered the opening of the ceiling.  The wedges that made up the ceiling arches slid down into the walls and exposed another area above them with a passage into the back wall.

Fifty feet is a long way to climb up and I do not climb well.  Luckily Carnish knows the fly spell and is willing to share.  I flew up to the top of this chamber and through the entrance into another chamber now exposed.  This chamber held an altar to Ra.  I prayed at the altar and received a vision.

In the vision I flew back out of the pyramid and then across the sands of the Uskar to another pyramid, one not on our map.  The vision settled on the entrance to the pyramid, and then I was back in my body.  [The DM-in-Training swears he's never seen The Mummy 2 and was puzzled about why we might want to make sand sculptures.  Really.]  I then left the altar chamber and flew back down to the octagon room to tell my friends what I had seen.  I will admit that I took a moment to float a small distance above the floor of the altar room before descending just to check that the fly spell was still active.  I was not certain how long the vision had lasted and was nervous about just stepping off into a 50 drop.

After explaining what I had seen, we quickly made our way out of the pyramid and back to our camp.  The Red Keffiyeh were pleased to see us again as most of the day has passed and they had no word from us.  Short John is cooking what smells like a very tasty dinner.  Aziz and I mulled over our options while we assisted in the preparation of the meal.  [Most of the party leveled at this point.  We’d made the XP necessary a couple of sessions earlier, but could not level until we rested back at camp.]

Morning, July 30, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, whose light inspires.

I have had an idea on how to get to the new pyramid quickly.  It will take us four days to march there, but Ra now grants me the ability to cast wind walk twice.  This will allow me to move myself and eight others all the way there in half a day.  Those taken can establish a forward camp and I can return to our current camp.  The following morning, I will move the rest of our party the same way, getting us all there in a day and a half.

I have shared this plan with the others and we have decided to go with it.  This will be new and I look forward to it.

Evening, July 30, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, whose light fills the world.

I’m back at our original camp after moving Aziz, Sarisvati, Tre-ba, Estrela, Frankie, Midnight, Elspeth, and Macha to the new pyramid.  The stone has a slightly green tint to it, so I am going to refer to it as the Green Pyramid, although it is not actually green.

Mid-Afternoon, July 31, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, whose Eye protects us.

This morning I ferried over the rest of the group to the Green Pyramid.  Once the camp was re-established to Short John’s liking, the rest of us moved up to the pyramid.  The stairs up ended at a platform lined with columns, like the first pyramid, but unlike that one, this one had dead bodies wearing the clothes of servants of Ra!  We suspect they were defenders of this site and we moved their bodies aside and I asked the Red Keffiyeh to give them proper burials.

We then turned our attention to the entrance.  After trying several ways to open the door, Elspeth determined it was barred from inside.  Suspecting that whoever killed the others may still be inside, we were eager to enter the pyramid.  Carnish and Midnight can cast dimension door, so we readied two strike teams.  Carnish moved in himself and Aziz, Macha, Elspeth, and Estrela (in bat form), to be followed by Midnight with Frankie, Tre-ba, and myself.  The plan was for the second group to wait to see if the first group would be able to easily open the door.  This was not the case.

I found out later that the first group in was surrounded by scruffy-looking humans.  Aziz asked them to explain themselves and when they declined, Aziz asked them to leave.  They attacked, thinking they had the numbers.  When we heard the sound of fighting, the second group moved in and appeared in the middle of two groups, one group in the front, the other group in the back surrounding Estrela, slicing her with their weapons.  The fight immediately became chaotic.

Carnish evened the odds by mesmerizing two of the bandits and Midnight vomited a swarm of wasps on the group in the back.  This was terrifying to see and I am on her side.  We eventually turned the tide, but Estrela came near to death several times, which sort of explains what happened at the end.

I englobed the last living bandit from the back group in a wall of stone.  Once the rest were down and Frankie had knocked out the final combatant, I called the warriors among us to surround the stone globe so the final bandit would understand the situation.  I then used stone shape to turn the wall to pebbles, which dropped down around him, and demanded he surrender.

I could see him doing the math in his eyes and realizing he had no other choice.  He started to drop his sword and state his surrender when Estrela cast a ball lightning spell and murdered him.  I was aghast.  He was about to surrender and she killed him.  I am still angry and upset about it.  I turned to her and demanded to know why she had done that.  She stared at me blankly with no answer at first.  She eventually said he had nearly killed her and that I had not stated we were taking his surrender.  That was more of an excuse (and a weak one at that) as I had clearly told him to surrender and Macha, Aziz, and Frankie had not attacked the bandit.

I knew I needed time and wanted to walk away, but everyone was still wounded, so I healed everyone.  Including Estrela.  I am still angry with her, but Ra teaches to heal those who need it, not just those we like.

We have returned to the camp with our unconscious prisoner.  Thankfully Frankie knows how NOT to kill our only sources of information here.  I need to pray to Ra for guidance.  I will let Sarisvati question the prisoner in the meantime.

*End of Session*

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Flu: I Don't Recommend It

I was ill most of last week, starting Tuesday evening and recovering, well, mostly Sunday, but I've still got after effects, notably a gravelly voice and occasional cough.  During this time I read  four books (including The New Death and others, a compilation of short stories I liked and recommend), which I had time to do as coughing and sinus drainage made sure sleeping in was not really an option.

What I did not have time nor the inclination to do was write a lot.  So, no ready-written posting today, or at least not this morning.  I have three sessions worth of notes for the Aldelle Group that I need to type up and post.  This will happen this week, so look forward to that, starting tomorrow.

That's it for now.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

[Book Review] The New Death and others

[I received a request to review a book by the author.  This is that review.  I may do this more in the future.]

I just finished reading The New Death and others, a compilation of short stories and poetry by James Hutchings, who blogs over at Teleleli.  I read the Kindle version, which I liked very much.  My initial impression is that this is actually two different compilations mingled together, one I liked very much and wanted more of, the other I was more neutral towards, but was willing to keep reading.

The compilation I liked very much was the material about the city of Telelee, its gods, and the world it inhabited.  I liked how the short stories were linked implicitly, not explicitly.  Each story covered something specific, but borrowed from an earlier story and often contributed to a later story.  I liked this world and as a gamer would want to adventure in it.  The God of the Poor did a surprisingly good job setting up the stories that followed.  The Prince of the Howling Forest was not as strong, but I very much liked The Scholar and The Moon.  The only point where this collection breaks down is when Mr. Hutchings uses the gods in a modern setting, particularly Fame's Beloved.  Your mileage may vary.

The "other" compilation in this book is Mr. Hutchings writings that are a more modern bent.  This ranges from commentary on things going on now (The Face in the Hill and Rumpelstiltskin) to a ribald Sherlock Holmes story (The Adventure of the Murdered Philanthropist and its very entertaining footnotes) to poetry based on stories by other authors (and here I mean Lovecraft, R. E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and Lord Dunsany).  Poetry is not my thing, but I appreciate the work that it takes to write.  Of these, The Garden of Adompha seemed to work best.  I have an MP3 of Fritz Lieber reading A Night in Malneant by Clark Ashton Smith at World Fantasy Con III and that is the voice I heard in my head for all the poetry.  The piece I Heard the Mermaids Singing also worked particularly well.

The prose writing was solid all the way through, even in bits where what was being told was not as strong.  I think I only noticed one typo (a "then" instead of "than" if I remember correctly), which is damn good as I edit professionally and very much appreciate the effort taken.  Considering the sometimes cavalier attitude taken in the gaming hobby industry towards copyediting, I like the sense of pride and professionalism shown here.

Also, I like the cover art.  It is simple, but fits the book well, particularly the titular story, The New Death.

Summation: I liked this book and recommend it to others, particularly the Telelee-related material.  Also, don't mess with the elephants of Telelee.  Ever.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Aldelle Group – Session 46 – Bottom to Top

Session 46 happened Tuesday, September 27, 2011.

This campaign used the Dyson’s Delve dungeon pages on A Character for Every Game as a starting point, but has now moved on to new material from the DM-in-training.  I heartily recommend Dyson's Delve as a beginning adventure.

Adventuring Group:
Tre-ba Bel a sheer (female elf alchemist)
Elspeth (female half-elf rogue)
Frankie Hu, Master of the Distracting Fist (male dwarf monk)
Harkaitz of the Red Soul (male human cleric of Ra)

Aziz of the Light (male human paladin, cohort of Harkaitz)
Sarisvati the Sun-touched (female Ifrit oracle, cohort of Aziz)
Midnight (female half-elf witch, cohort of Frankie Hu)
Macha (female human fighter, cohort of Elspeth)
Estrela (female Aasimar druid, cohort of Tre-Ba)
Short John Copper (male halfling expert, hireling)
The Red Keffiyehs (human warriors, followers of Harkaitz)
Carnish (male gnoll spellcaster of some sort)
Professor Walsh (male human expert)

Later, July 29, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, who shows us the way, even when we are weary.

After our short rest [not enough to level yet], we resumed our search of the pyramid.  Elspeth finished a sweep of the hallway ring we were in and found no other traps.  Once we were certain it was safe to move around, Elspeth and Frankie started searching for hidden passages while Midnight used detect magic to check for illusionary walls.  A single concealed alcove was found.  It contained a lever in the back wall.

Elspeth searched the alcove and declared it free of traps, which left the lever itself.  After some discussion and with no other options, Macha pulled the lever while the rest of us remained alert.

We heard the sound of stone grinding on stone in two places.  The one we could see immediately was the entrance to the hallway ring.  The floor of the pit hidden by illusions rose, blocking off our only known route of escape.  A similar noise came from the back hallway area, an area we could not see directly.  With great caution, we started searching for a new way to either proceed or escape.

What we found was another pit concealed by illusion.  Similar to the route we descended, this was protected by a scorching ray trap, which Estrela found the by flying through as a bat.  While I healed her, Elspeth set to deactivating the trap.  Frankie investigated ahead by running up the side of the pit to the next level above.  He reported it safe and Elspeth followed him up.  They reported the level above seemed to be the same hallway ring that encircled the chamber of the giant undead hands.  They could even follow our original foot prints.  Needless to say, we found this odd and it made us wary.

Looking for the secret door back into the chamber of giant undead hands, we found it had seemingly moved clock-wise forward one segment of the circular hallway.  [NOTE: Harkaitz wouldn’t say “clock-wise” here as there are no clocks, but for the ease of reading, that’s what I’m putting.]  The chamber in the center was the chamber of undead giant hands and they still lay there where we had destroyed them.  But the handholds carved in the wall up to the entrance level were missing.  Luckily, the stone coffin that formed the cover to the entrance was still aside and we could see up into the chamber above, the false crypt chamber.  Estrela flew up (still in bat form) and confirmed the false crypt chamber was there, but the secret door we used to enter was gone.

We used knotted ropes and a grappling hook to ascend to the false crypt chamber.  Searching for a hidden passage out, we found two instead of the single one we were expecting.  Opening one, instead of the hallway we were expecting, we found a completely new passage, which turned out to be another hallway circle, this one only five feet wide.  Elspeth and Frankie scouted ahead, going to the left first.  At the end of this passage, approximately where the entry passage to the pyramid should have been was a small chamber, about 10 feet wide by 15 feet deep.  Elspeth found a trap at the entry to the small chamber and disabled it.  Inside the chamber they could see a chest against the left (inner) wall.  Elspeth and Frankie returned to the false crypt chamber to report what they had found before going back to check the chest.

With Frankie in the hallway, Elspeth checked the chest for traps.  She found a fireball trap on the chest, but missed one set to trigger when she opened the chest.  This one dropped two walls – one from the ceiling at the entrance to seal the entry and one down into the floor at what was the back wall, exposing a 10 foot wide and five foot deep area holding two animated statues!  Four of these things nearly killed our entire group back in the Delve and here Elspeth had to face two all alone.

Elspeth immediately called for help and them moved into a corner and took a defensive stance.  She hoped to avoid being hit too much before the rest of us could arrive.  Frankie called back down the hallway for help and then moved to the newly dropped stone way, hammering it with fists hardened to the consistency of adamantine.  As we moved up to provide assistance, Frankie unleashed a flurry of blows and shattered the stone wall.  Even during this short time, the animated statues had hit Elspeth several times and she was heavily bloodied.

Frankie went after the statues, knocking chunks of stone off them each time he hit, and he hit often.  Once the statues were rubble, Midnight and I pooled healing capabilities to heal Elspeth’s bones and flesh from the beating she had taken.

Inside the chest we found a stone head.  It looked like part of a statue, but there was no evidence it had been broken off.  It detected as faintly magical and Tre-ba identified the magical residue as “door opening magic”.  Aziz packed it away in a bag of holding.  Frankie believed the chest should contain more than just a stone head and took it apart looking for a hidden compartment.  There was none.

Having reached a dead end at this point, we reversed course and followed the passage back to the right of the secret door.  This passage led to a large chamber before continuing on past it.  The chamber was tall and lined with statues of paladins in the service of Ra.  The back end of the room narrowed down to an immense set of stone doors.  Standing in front of said doors was a larger than life-sized statue of a man in armor, likely another paladin.  It was missing its head and its hands rested where a sword hilt would have been if the sword were not also missing.

It was very apparent that the stone head we found would fit on the top of the statue, so now we had to find the missing sword.  Clearly it would be down the remaining passage, so Elspeth and Frankie proceeded that way while the rest of us waited in this chamber.  Apparently Elspeth found a trap in the far corner of the passage and accidentally triggered it while attempting to disarm it.  We discovered this when we heard the sound of walls slamming down, isolating the part of the passage they were in.  However, by the time we got there, Frankie had already punched his way through the wall between us, spilling out the poison gas that had filled the area he and Elspeth were in.

Once the gas dissipated, Frankie knocked out the back wall of the trap and he and Elspeth entered into a small chamber that was a mirror of the chamber where we found the stone head.  This time Elspeth defeated all of the traps in the chamber and on the chest, revealing a stone scimitar in the chest.  Aziz and Macha have carried it back to the statue chamber and we are about ready to reattach the head and the sword to the guardian statue.  Aziz and I will place the pieces as this will hopefully allow us passage and open the doors to the next chamber without a fight.  We’ll see.

*End of Session*

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fragments - Session 3: Maresfield Shootout

Session 3 happened Friday, September 30, 2011.

This campaign uses the Hero System, 5th Edition, with much Traveller material grafted on. I am making use of the Hero Traveller books published by ComStar Games. Sadly, these books went out of print when Mongoose Publishing purchased the rights to produce all things Traveller. Mongoose is doing good things, so no hate mail.

The Company:
Maxwell Sloan (male human, communications and sensors specialist)
Nomen Fire-eyes (male human hybrid, negotiator)
Oscar Dougray (male human, salvage expert)
Ro Owen (female human, team security expert)
Braddock Grar, Lector (male Low Waldi, archivist)

The Crew:
Echo Salazar, Ship’s Captain (female human)
Ted Yahn, Ship’s Navigator (male human)
Albertha Trufin, Ship’s Engineer (female human)
Dr. Quinton Picknell, Ship’s Doctor (male human)

Maresfield Trade Representative:
Deadra Pagenkopf, Maresfield Trade Liaison (female human)

Week 3, Day 3:
The Just Lucky arrived in Maresfield system. After properly identifying itself to the Maresfield orbital authorities, the ship received an updated System Map for the Adab subsector and J2 System Survey Report from the Maresfield Scout Service. Most of the day is spent moving from the jump point to planetary orbit.

Week 3, Day 5:
Phoenix Salvage [the players] receives payment from Maresfield government for shipment of red gold made by the Just Lucky. Phoenix Salvage decided to keep 2 bars of red gold for their use. With a great deal of credit in the company’s accounts, the Just Lucky was put into dock for routine maintenance.

Week 3, Days 6 and 7:
Phoenix Salvage starts purchasing items they found they needed on their first outing. Orders were placed for 4 body sleeves, lightweight armor with some environmental support capabilities. Ro was also able to secure a fiber optic intrusion camera for Grar’s use.

Grar also requested updated body armor (to ballistic cloth) from the Order of Sacre Illuminae. While talking with his superior in the Order, Grar related that the Just Lucky would next travel to the Caraturth system. In exchange for the armor upgrade, Grar was provided a pile of scrolls containing the history of the Order on Maresfield over the last 90 years and asked to deliver it to the Founding Monastery on Caraturth.

Week 4, Day 1:
Cyrano compiled a list of components he needs in order to start building McGuffins for Phoenix Salvage’s use. In order to avoid the notice of the Maresfield government, he needed the other members of Phoenix Salvage to secure several of the items. Ro, Grar, and Oscar agreed to help.

Oscar located sources for several of the more technical components and secured a supply of them. Grar went to his Low Waldi contacts while Ro, taking the single mundane item on the list (several spools of fiber optic circuitry) simply went shopping for it. After checking a few places, Ro ended up in a technically-oriented bodega where few questions were asked if payment was in cash. She waited at the front counter while the owner was putting together her order (the FO circuitry was kept behind the counter). Waiting in the back of the bodega for his contact to show, entirely by coincidence, was Sherwood Switch, head of a pirate gang and sworn enemy or Ro. As far as he knew, Ro Owen died on the island he marooned her on several years ago.

Imagine his surprise when one of his flunkies pulls him aside and points to the front of the shop. His exact words were, “Ro Owen?! What the hell?!”

Ro recognized the voice and spun, pulling her automatic pistol, and started shooting at her blood enemy. Switch responded in kind with his 9 mm magnum pistol, ordering his two flunkies to start shooting. This started a shootout down the length of the store (and the chips and soda aisle). Ro took cover by flipping over the sales counter while Switch stepped partially behind a display of canned foods at the end of the aisle.

In the storage area in the back, Grar was talking with his contact (and cousin), working out the details of getting the components he was asked to get. His cousin (and contact) immediately fled the building when the gunshots started ringing out. Grar, curious by nature, moved around and into the cold locker so he could see out through the beer shelves. Seeing that Ro and several unknown assailants were evenly matched, he cautiously moved to a point where he was flanking the guy who seemed to be the leader and waited for an opportunity.

This opportunity came when one of the other customers of the bodega took offense at some of the remarks the flunkies were making and started beating down the flunky trying to flank Ro. Unaware of this, the second flunky moved forward to get a better shot at Ro, leaving Switch along in the back. Grar silently opened the cooler door and squeezed through the shelves, flanking Switch and covering the man with his gauss pistol. In a calm voice he ordered Switch to drop his weapon.

Switch, surprised to find a Low Waldi with a pistol behind him, attempted to push over the display of cans onto Grar. Grar pulled the trigger first, firing multiple flechettes through Switch’s torso, dropping him. Ro, seeing this happen, hopped the counter and ran up to Switch, intent on killing him with the same gun switch killed her last lover – only to find that she had not brought that pistol with her today. So she kicked him in the head and stalked out.

During her run up to Switch, the flunky who was mid-aisle attempted to shoot Ro in the back and missed. When he realized Switch was down and there was another shooter in the store, one who might have killed his boss, the flunky ran out the front of the store. The other flunky was pummeled into unconsciousness by the offended patron, despite having a gun in hand. He would not wake up until the police were there arresting him.

Grar took off out the back, slowing down only long enough to grab the security tapes from the store security cameras. Hopefully there was not a second set of recorders up at the front of the store.

Both Ro and Grar decide to lay low until the ship finishes its maintenance.

Week 4, Day 4:
Cyrano, using other channels, finally acquires the rest of the components he needs to start making Phoenix Salvage-brand McGuffins.

Week 4, Day 6:
Maintenance on the _Just Lucky_ completed and the members of Phoenix Salvage re-board.

*End of Session 3*

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fragments – Session 2: Guruphon Meltdown

Session 1 happened Friday, August 23, 2011.

This campaign uses the Hero System, 5th Edition, with much Traveller material grafted on.  I am making use of the Hero Traveller books published by ComStar Games.  Sadly, these books went out of print when Mongoose Publishing purchased the rights to produce all things Traveller.  They are doing good things, so no hate mail.

The Company:
Maxwell Sloan (male human, communications and sensors specialist)
Nomen Fire-eyes male human hybrid, negotiator)
Oscar Dougray (male human, salvage expert)
Ro Owen (female human, team security expert)
Braddock Grar, Lector (male Low Waldi, archivist)

The Crew:
Echo Salazar (female human, ship’s captain)
Ted Yahn (male human, ship’s navigator)
Albertha Trufin (female human, ship’s engineer)
Quinton Picknell, Doctor (male human, ship’s doctor)

Maresfield Trade Representative
Deadra Pagenkopf (female human, governmental trade liaison)

Week 2, Day 1: Evening
The away team quickly got Max into the medical bay on board the Just Lucky, where Dr. Picknell went to work.  The doctor performed some minor surgery on the bullet hole in the thigh and stitched up the foot wound.  After that, he applied a set of smart bandages and Max was in functioning condition (if not exactly fully healed).

This was a good thing as Guruphon Station was powering on and Max was the primary sensor technician on the ship.  Now that power is running on the station, Max was able to identify the station power plant, the main computer cluster, and locate which cameras and weapon mounts are still active on the station.  He also determined that there were three security bots still active, one guarding the power plant and two on the computer cluster level.  The power plant was giving off odd readings and the team called in the Ship’s Engineer, Albertha Trufin.  Albertha looked over the readings and stated that the power plant is unstable and she’s surprised it has not detonated already.

After some planning, the away team returned to the station on the Iron Pig, while Captain Salazar adjusted the orbit of the Just Lucky to beyond the horizon of Guruphon to protect the ship.  The team’s plan is to use the emergency shutdown panel to shut down the power plant and then cut their way through the deck above them into the computer cluster and secure the station computer core.  To facilitate this, they bring two cutting lasers with them.  To shorten their approach, they are entering the main structure through a breach on the side.  Sensors indicate a ship’s boat was rammed into the station here, but it does not reach into the power room.  Probably.

Oscar flew the Iron Pig back over to the station and parked it adjacent to the breach caused by the ship’s boat.  Ro made her way over into the station and anchored a slip line so the less dexterous members of the team could safely navigate the four meter gap between the station and the Iron Pig.  The rear thruster pods were facing directly at the entry point and much of the surrounding structures were somewhat melted.  This made the team nervous, but Max assured them the sensors showed the boat was out of fuel.  Probably.

Back on the Just Lucky, Ted was running the ship’s sensors, but at this range the best he could do was keep the away team updated on the relative positions of the active security bots.  This was good enough for them, initially, but while the team was looking around for a way forward, a security bot showed up and took shots at Grar.  One of those shots hit Grar in the head, knocking him unconscious.  Max pulled Grar back and applied slap-patches to seal Grar’s suit while Ro agilely moved forward and burned the bot down with her laser rifle.

While Max pulled Grar back to the Iron Pig for emergency medical treatment, Ro, Nomen, and Oscar explored further.  They determined the ship’s boat had crashed through the station gravatics machinery, knocking out artificial gravity throughout the station.  An adjacent room once housed the station life support plant, but this room and the machinery in it were thoroughly trashed.

Once Grar was patched up with some smart bandages, he and Max returned to the exploration.  Deciding to let those more adapted to it explore, the Low Waldi took one of the laser cutting tools and started cutting off rear panels of the ship’s boat.  Oscar also jury-rigged one of Nomen’s seismic sensors to detect vibrations in the station hull, providing a form of early warning if either of the two remaining bots started approaching.  At the end of this period of time, Gar could see into the cargo area of the ship’s boat and discovered it contained crates.  Fishing one out, he found it contained 10 bars of processed red gold!  The team took the time to cut off the back of the ship’s boat (the thruster section) and moved it and the eight crates of red gold to the cargo area of the Iron Pig.

Returning to exploring the station, Ro discovered an auxiliary parts storage room.  This turned out to be full of repair parts for security bots.  The team paused exploring again to salvage the entire room of parts.  At this point they had been active for over 16 hours and two of them had gunshot wounds.  Exhausted but pleased with the salvage they had acquired, they returned to the Just Lucky.  If the station detonated while they rested, the ship would be safely over the horizon with everything they had come to get.  If it didn’t, they could return and resume looking for access to the power plant room.

Week 2, Day 2
After some much needed rest, the away team returned to the station in the Iron Pig.  Sensor readings taken over night indicated that the power plant was unstable and getting worse.  They had maybe four hours to shut it down or get to a safe distance before it detonated.  It would take an hour to get to the station from the Just Lucky.

Grar took a quiet moment during the transition to mind scan the planet to verify there were sentient beings on the surface.  There were, but the team chose to delay attempting contact.

They were able to gain entry into the power plant room after another 30 minutes of searching.  They found that the reactor control panels were damaged from the ship’s boat crashing into their back.  The critical emergency shutdown panel was partially ruined.  Oscar set to work jury-rigging it to some form of functionality.  This took another 30 minutes to accomplish, but was ultimately successful in shutting down the power plant.

With the immediate threat neutralized, the team started cutting through the ceiling to reach the computer cluster.  With no power to the station, the security bots maintain the patrols they were last ordered to perform and did not interfere with the extraction of the computer core.  The core was returned to the Just Lucky and set up in to test for Virus infection.  This took Cyrano the rest of the day.  While he did that, the rest of the team returned to the station and salvaged anything of value they could remove from the station.  Ro eventually hunted down the remaining security bots, cutting them down with her laser rifle.  All of the bot remains were taken back to the Just Lucky for later use.

Week 2, Day 3
The core is tested and it is heavily infected.  Cyrano uses the McGuffin to wipe it and reinstall a basic operating system.  He does the same to the bot processor cores.

At this point the team decides they have more than enough to make the trip profitable and order the captain to take the ship back to Maresfield.  Several hours later the Just Lucky is far enough from the gas giant Guruphon orbits to enter jumpspace and makes the jump.

*End of Session 2*

[I’ve implemented some basic timekeeping in order to provide a better sense of continuity.  As this is going to be a short campaign, I’m not getting fancy and I’m just counting from the beginning of the campaign, Month 1, Week 1, Day 1.]

[Also, Cyrano Steel’s player was out of state for a few weeks and he missed this session.  This was moderately awkward as he had some needed skills.  I ended up subbing in the Ship’s Navigator, Ted Yahn, under the assumption they were skills he could reasonably have.  The sequence of him testing the station computer core is something he had stated Cyrano would do if the chance became available, so I ran that for him.  It was late and we were looking to wrap things up, so this was just stated and it was done.]

[Guruphon Station let me set player expectations as to what kind of devastation they could expect as they explored the space lanes.  It also allowed the securing of a critical piece of material, the red gold.  I had quickly realized that making the McGuffins as rare as I had caused significant story issues and there needed to be more of them.  I had originally planned on the red gold being available in the crashed ship’s boat, but if the players did not cut into the boat or ignored the station, they could have secured some on planet, it just would have cost them.]