Monday, 26 September 2016

Isles of the Imprisoned Moon Session Five - "You are the saviors of my village!"

(Note: there really is no 'day' or 'night' in the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon. Probably they wouldn't refer to directions around the moon as 'Clockwise' and 'Counterclockwise' either. I kept using the terms as they were simple, everyone, including new players, could understand them and I couldn't be bothered coming up with in-world fantasy versions of the equivalent concepts. Just assume that when anyone from the world of IotIM says those words, they mean the concepts they refer to.)

Present this adventure were:

Captain Jepta Crunt (Chris H)
First Mate Barlang Rift (Dan Voyce)
Ships Boy Bastian Blank (Ian Reilly)
The White Ape (David McGrogan)

Towards the end of the last session out heroes had decided to voyage the darkwards side of the isle of Tien Phrang to seek, rob and/or destroy the woman called Pan Chun Mei, thought to be the head of the hated 'Black Path'.

Mischance, and the poor adjustment of their navigator Bodagrottorna al Tenebres to the seas of the Imprisoned Moon, leads them to sail in exactly the wrong direction and after a few days they find themselves just off the shore of the island of Sula-Phrang, at the wrong side of the Phrang Sea.



Around the hull of the ship and in the sea before the shore, black and silver coral snakes are swarming, turning the surface into a pattern like sliding static, and where the snake-filled waves crash upon the beach the people of a hilltop village fenced by white cacti are diving into the surf whooping and scooping up the snakes and riding mighty horse-sized rainbow-iridescent Mantis Shrimp which plunge into moonlit waves.

Captain Crunt observes the village headman welcoming and beckoning the Falling Star and, since her ship is ony four days away from being starving and bankrupt, she summons her bridge crew and they row through the snake-infested sea, making for the shore of Sula-Phrang.

They are accompanied by the Fire Dervish Karlash Bloom, who at first seemed reluctant to join them and, as a passenger, is under no compulsion to do so, Bloom however, has formed a friendly relationship with the boy Bastian Blank and reluctantly agreed to go with him in order to protect him.

As the ships boat plunges through the surf, the White Ape intelligently snatches up a fishing net and scoops the coral snakes up from the sea. Jepta leads her associates up the beach and the headman takes the net of snakes, throwing it to one of the mantis-riders who whirls it, whooping, in the air.

A few snakes fly out and a handful of people seem to have been poisoned by them but they are dragged safely up the beach and placed in the recovery position. Nevertheless, the team make a good impression on Sugiarto Ivan Gunawan, headman of the village of Melolo and are invited to dinner.

On the way, the cheeky kleptomaniac scamp Bastian Blank ably pickpockets Sugiarto, relieving him of three Guilders, most of the cash savings of the entire village. He tells no-one of his theft.

Melolo itself is surrounded by a living fence of white cactus and the PC's find several skull trees where the heads of defeated enemies are kept. Sugiharto sadly informs them that the old ways are passing and now the people of Sula-Phrang hardly ever hunt and murder each other, although, about fifty years ago there was an unfortunate accident at a wedding which lead to the death of 300 people.

Though they originally intended to trade for much-needed food, the crew find the village very poor indeed, Sugiharto does offer them some of their rare printed fabrics in trade, though his main interest is to persuade them to accompany him to the harvest festival outside the main town of Gapu, in order to raise his prestige. The beginning of the festival is signaled by the swarming of the coral snakes. On this natural sign every village of Sula-Phrang will put aside its conflicts and send all the people it can to the plain outside Gapu, the primary urban area of Sula-Phrang and the seat of Lord Ey-Way-Woo-O of Kingfisher House, the technical regent of Sula Phrang on behalf of the trading houses of the Chain-State of Yaag-Sien, there, the young men will ride their ferocious Mantis-Shrip at each other and hurl the spears they have spent months individually carving.

The spears are to thick and blunt to penetrate flesh (usually) and in most years only a relatively small number of people are injured and killed, but the young men prove their bravery, feuds between villages are settled, pride and prestige ate earnt and displayed by the glory of a villiages shrimp  and all the blood spilt is thought to feed the earth, thereby providing bounty for the coming year.

Sugiharto is convinced that the timely arrival of the PC's just as the snakes are swarming, means they represent good fortune for his stricken village.

As the conversation turns to religion, Jepta recieves a poor response to her radical anti-undead religious opinions as a follower of MANPAC. Sughiharto asks if these extreme belifes must apply to even the dead of ones family or clan, Jepta moderates her opinion somewhat and claims that only the dead who are out of their place, specifically out of their body, are to be loathed, this appeases Sugiharto somewhat.

Jepta agrees to go with the people of Melolo to the festival and to attend as their guest. The crew are left for the night and Bastian sneaks out to follow Sugiharto and overhears him sending his Mantis-cavalry into the nearby Coral mangroves to hunt "low caste bastards" who are hiding there for some reason.

DAY TWO

The next day Jepta sends for food and trade items from the Falling Star as an offer of friendship. Sugiharto is itching to begin their march but pauses for long enough to be deeply impressed by the ruffs presented to him, and by the last of the meat of the Silver Boar. As a gesture of returned respect, Sugiharto offers to allow Jepta to ride 'Wakes-The-Gods', the villages largest and most impressive Mantis-Shrimp. His oldest son Eko is much less impressed, since he is being displaced from his high-status ride.

Jepta aces her roll and 'Wakes-The-Gods' stampedes into and out of the surf, rearing up and snapping its claws like gunshots. The watching crowd have no idea how close Captain Crunt has come to total disaster and assume this is a bravado display of Shrimp Mastery, the Captains legend grows...

The village faces a long march to Gapu (Sugiharto does not wish to stay in the hills overnight due to fear of ghosts, and perhaps a more prosaic fear of other villages).

The journey takes the crew and people past a number of other processions which seem to be of different villages, all going to Gapu for the same festival. Jepta's manner and ride earns her, and the village of Melelo, a number of admiring looks and remarks, its rare to see high-status foreigners on Sula-Phrang, especially ones from the maritime empire of Nox, across the Nightmare Sea.

The procession pauses briefly when someone sees something in the air that may be a small bird close to, or a VERY BIG bird very far away, but it quickly passes from view.

Sula-Phrang
The town of Gapu is a tired wooden colonial port. Despite the fact that someone clearly spent money on it at some point it now looks cheaper than any of the villages the crew passed on their way here. Jepta and the villages parade through the center of the port, somewhat depressed by the poverty they observe.

The town is dominated by its docks, which are now little used compared to their size, by Kingfisher House, the home of 'Lord' Lord Ey-Way-Woo-O, technical Regent of Sula-Phrang. 'Kingfisher House' being both the name of his house or clan and also, due to the sometimes literal thinking of the people of Sula-Phrang, the name of his actual house.



The docks have a handful of fishing canoes from Sula-Phrang as well as some Borobuders and Phinis.

A Borobuder

A Phini


The Falling Star is by far the largest and most well-armed ship there (having followed the PC's round the coast at the captains order).

On reaching their assigned camping ground, the PC's and villagers collapse and eat. Jepta converses with Sugiharto until everyone is disturbed by the dull sounding of copper bells. The PC's notice the villagers fall silent and deport themselves in a more conservative and restrained style. The tolling comes closer and, slowly, the mummified body of an ancient man, wearing staggeringly valuable amber jewelry and followed by the corpses of his wives, with their mouths stitched shut, tolling copper bells, marches into the meeting place.

Sugiharto goes to greet his grandfather and an awkward family scene takes place. Grandfather is enraged by the sight of his grandson consorting with foreigners, eating foreign meat and, most of all, of allowing a foreign woman to ride 'Wakes-The-Gods', a shrimp he himself raised from an egg. He berates Sugiharto for allowing the village to fall into poverty from the greatness and wealth to which he himself raised it in his lifetime. Sugiharto  points out that by selling the villages Whisperwood trees to the Kingfisher House, his grandfather created a disaster of erosion which has swept away much of their farmland and ruined their water supply, and that his grandfather is himself wearing much of the wealth he generated.

Nevertheless, he ultimately prostrates himself in shame before his illustrious ancestor. Grandfather informs him that he will be watching the villages performance in the festival tomorrow personally.

Around this time, Bastian confesses to Karvash Bloom that he has stolen most of the villages funds. After considering for a moment...

'The First Temptation of Karvash Bloom' by Ian Rielly

Bloom drags Bastian to Captain Crunt, forcing him to give up the cash and explain. As this is happening, Sugiharto arrives. Not realizing that the pouch being waved around as he came in contains his villiages funds, he confesses to their loss and his shame and asks Jepta more about the worship of MANPAC, he seems to be re-considering his former judgement of The Great Consumer' Eventually he begs Jepta Crunt for aid.

Captain Crunt is merciful and agrees to give/loan Sugiharto a mixture of cash and trade goods in recognition of what she expects to be a profitable future partnership. She then dumps the problem on Barlang Rift and receives a rather strained letter from Lord Ey-Way-Woo-O, delivered by what look to be tatooed mercenaries and asking after her nature and allegiance in somewhat frantic terms. She writes a reply on the back.

With no further ado and facind a sever case of exhaustion, Rift promptly drugs himself with a mixture of Dream Lichen from Uter-Phrang and alcohol, negotiates with Sugiharto's alienated son Eko, managing to soothe and impress him with a mixture of hard drink and lies about his own combat capacity. Barlang shows Eko the ivory harpoon they recovered from the lair of the Silver Boar and deceives him into thinking that Barlang carved this himself over many months. Eko agrees that perhaps it would not be so bad if Barlang rode for his village in the festival.

Rift then visits the Falling Star, updating them on events and telling Suharto Ary Setiawan, the senior crewmember in charge, to be civil to the local authorities, but not to allow them access to the cargo hold. He returns with a barrel of whale oil and a crate of Macemaker silk, having achieved all this without having slept for 32 hours. The stimulant tonic he took is however giving him some serious hallucinations.

Captain Crunt allows the villagers of Melolo 40% of this bounty as a gift and promise of future co-operation and Sugihatro bows to her weeping.

"You are the saviors of my village!"

Even Eko seems nonplussed.


DAY THREE

The day of the great festival arrives. The place is filled with a staggering amount and variety of people. The crowd is HUGE. Palm guitars twang, people dance, fighting pits are laid out, food is sold, drugs are taken, it seems like anything could happen.

On their way into the festival, the PC's are asked to attend upon 'Lord' Ey-Way-Woo-O at his pavilion. They are lead to a large framed building covered with tapestries, within this is a closely guarded palanquin, itself draped with silks and net curtains and closely guarded by well-armed but bored-looking mercenaries and enslaved Crab-Men.

'Lord' Ey-Way-Woo-O speaks with a high pitched and soft voice. He and Jepta spar a little. He asks about the Empire of Nox and their interests in the Isles of the Imprisoned Moon. Jepta replies that though she is 'of' Nox she does not work 'for' Nox.

Things become a little heated. 'Lord' Ey-Way-Woo-O takes an interest in the White Ape. It's not clear who first suggests it (I think Chris?) but a wager is agreed to. The White Ape will battle one of Ey-Way-Woo-O's Crab Men, the bet will be 700 days worth of rations against the remaining 60% of the crews trade goods that have been brought to shore. A fight to the death. Winner takes all.

Jepta and the crew try to prepare the Ape by oiling him up. Jepta subtly kicks some stones into the pit to provide aid.

A gigantic crowd gathers to witness this once in a lifetime combat. 'Lord' Ey-Way-Woo-O is brought to the side of the pit in his palanquin. One of his men translates an offer to the Crab Man 'Mister Snips'; win this fight and you win your freedom.  It's not clear if the Crab Man understands this, or anything that is happening, but it seems ready for battle.

The match begins. Both fighters posture and circle for a second before the Mr Snips dashes forwards with alarming speed. The Ape dodges just in time but leaves a snatch of white fur and blood in the Crab Man's claws.

Mr Snips swings again and the Ape brilliantly catches it, hurling it onto its back in a judo throw. The Crab Man lurches to its feet swinging wildly, and purely by luck, takes out a slice of the Apes flesh.

Though wounded and winded, the Ape grapples Mr Snips again and, with his incredible strength, rips one of its claws clean off!

The Ape gestures gleefully at the cheering crowd, snapping the crab claw in mockery.

It celebrates too soon. Though mutilated, the Mr Snips still lives and swings savagely with its remaining claw. Its aim is true and the claw tears into the torso of the unsuspecting White Ape.

The Ape collapses to the ground gasping, not quite dead but badly maimed.

Mr Snips looms over the Ape, leaking ichor from its severed arm it lowers its pincer around the Apes neck to snip of its head.

Only for the White Apes head to explode in a shower of gore. The crowd gasps in shock and all eyes turn to Captain Jepta Crunt who stands wreathed in smoke from her custom repeating pistol. Perhaps as a mercy, perhaps simply out of contempt, she blown out the brains of her own Ape.


Monday, 19 September 2016

Five Characters to Play Before You DIE and You WILL die eventually and maybe SOON

it's a LIST, you ignorant bastards like a list don't you? well this is a list AND a bandwagon
a trend, a trend of lists you mindless drones
suckle upon my teat



1. GOOD AS FUCK

Fuck evil. Adopt those orc babies and raise them to be good. Fuck treasure. Fuck XP. Fuck unlicensed murder. Give the gold back to those orphans. Kill the devil, turn the dragon vegetarian save the world and keep your goddamn armour shiny while you do it.

In a game based on craftily gained material advantage where stealing gold literally gives you super powers, where a huge torrent of the motive force of play is imagining yourself as a super-powerful badass with no limits on your actions, the most important lesson you can learn is to _play against the game_

You have to make the game mean what you want it to mean. Its not the job of a bunch of rules to imbue your imagined world with meaning, its your fucking job.

Caring too much about the shit the game tells you to care about is a mistake. To be outside things teaches purpose and the hardest, strangest problem you can set yourself is being really good in a D&D world.

(Unless its some wiener-fiction like Dragonlance or whatever, in which case, disregard this rule.)

The deepest paradox of D&D is that characters who have enough wierd shit going on in their head that they will actively do stuff that does not get them XP, for reasons of reasons, are the best characters.

That is, you have to make a character whose reason for being, whose anima, is greater than any of the written rules used to provide a reason for them to exist and grow.

You can't really teach intellectual or imaginative independence. The more instruction you give people telling them "Hey fucko, be more independent!" the less independent they become. You can't _make_ people think for themselves, once you've told them to do it it's too late, the motive force has already come from outside their head.

The only way to teach independence and imagination is to provide areas of silence and darkness which MUST, perforce, be illuminated by the self-generated creative thought of the player. Teaching by paradox is a good way to do that. The paradox creates a zone of silence or cognitive incoherence which can only be resolved by the player taking independent action.

Will Sir Stabbington really return that treasure to those Gnolls just becasue they have legal right to it? You bet your fucking ASS he will because he is GOOD AS FUCK.

To play D&D well you have to be able to say "Fuck D&D! Fuck everything! I'm doing this MY WAY, even if I don't know what that is yet!"



2. GOOD BUT CRAFTY

Once you have mastered the central paradox of D&D, you are ready to begin the lesser, but still vital lesson of not being shit at it.

It's still important for you to be broadly, or at least nominally, good. It gives you a point of view and sets you in moral conflict against the world

(Unless its fucking Dragonlance or whatever)

But now we have told the game to go fuck itself we can re-assess our concept of 'good' into something slightly less insanely retarded. Now it can mean 'pro-social' or just 'not a massive rapist'.

Craft is the heart of the thing. Once you have learnt to oppose the very concept of the game itself, now you must translate that same lesson into material logic.

There is no weapon so powerful as the world itself. To one versed in the way (and I can't say 'Tao' because that guy fucked it up), the entire procedure of a world is a tool.

A trap is not a trap, it exists to be found, but more than that, it exists to be found, disarmed, moved and used decapitate those guards as they run out of their room.

A castle is not a castle, it is a handy wrapper for treasure and XP, thoughtfully containing everything you need in one convenient place.

A monster is never a monster, it is food, an ally, a gullible mark, an organic trap, a divertable piece of combat power.

A dungeon is not a dungeon, far from being unknown it is the most-knowable place, a knotwork of closely nested choices which can be understood, un-knotted and re-created to your purpose. Corridors exist to channel your foes, not you, locked doors keep them in, not you out. As a key transforms a gate into a tool, so does the Player Character transform the dungeon into a place of work and play.


3. A DOG

A dog becasue it will teach you to relate to the world in a totally different way. Now you can't use tools, or even communicate easily, plus you are small.

But you have a sense of smell. Now you have to learn to put together a picture of the world through a different sensorium, and irritate the DM by asking exactly what everything smells like.

You are vital to the group, part of it, yet silent and subservient to it. A decision process you formerly tried to influence through words and action, you can now only observe as a dog that is happy to help.

Curious isn't it? The fear and madness and rage for order. All those personalities clashing and combining. All those complex thoughts and feelings intermeshing across dual levels of reality. Now, finally, you see it from the outside, were you really like these people? So loud and anxious and desperate for control? Before you were a dog.

Now there is only sensing, action, and response.

There is nothing for you to worry about and no way for you to rule, you see yourself from the outside as well. The wordless mind of an imaginary dog can encompass more than that of a thought-addled man.

Remember the lesson of the dog. The lesson of the idiot mute.



4. GENDER-WEIRD

Now we have dealt with basic concepts we must turn to the lessons of social justice and diversity.

The lesson of social justice is be as totally fucking wierd as you can to the maximum extent always. The lesson of diversity is that if you can fit your identity on a graph, its not an identity, its a group.

(I'm not going to make this 'playing the opposite gender' becasue everyone can do that.

(Unless you are in the deep south or bible camp or something and everyone can't do this, in which case you may replace being gender-weird with just playing the opposite gender.))

You are not a _group_, you are not a _type_. You are yourself alone.

You have to be so fucking _odd_ that people don't even know how to fuck with you. You must terrorise the imagined world into submission, yet you must do this by understanding its rules and placing yourself outside them.

The true hero is a twisted figure of burning majesty and alienated awe, a CRIPPLED GOD.

If we have already learnt to play against the game, to make the world a tool and to place our-self both outside and within the social world of the Players, now we must learn to respect and understand the social reality of the imagined world in the same way. We must be both within and without it.

You can't be deeply, distressingly wierd in a society without understanding that society. You must make yourself a maligned figure of terror and awe. You must feel the eyes of the world upon you.

This is out of respect. Only this figure can imbue this imagined society, this purely fictional population made up of random tables and DM accents, with any of the numinous power of a real society.

And believe me it must have numinous power. Society is the greatest monster.

As worship of a totem imbues it with power, so to does creation of the CRIPPLED GOD imbue the imagined world with power. Like a wound creating flesh. Power enough to harm.

And your imagination must be capable of doing harm, of hurting your, and others, or what is the point of playing with it?

It's not that harm is good, but that nothing of great beauty can be created or experienced without power and there can be no true power without the capacity to harm.


5. TWO GOBLINS IN A BIG COAT PRETENDING TO BE THE SAME PERSON

I did this once and it was HILARIOUS.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Imprisoned Moon Session Four - Escape from Uter-Phrang

They don't really escape, they just leave.

We begin with the team dashing from the lair of the Giant Boar, clutching the Silver Arm of King Polinari. As they leave its den they see opening up in front of them the steep silver Tagia of the moonwards side of Uter-Phrang. Above them is the black rock of the Volcano, to either side are steep valleys and crevasses.

The Kings Jay asks them where they want their door opened and they, perhaps foolishly, say they want it right here.

The Jay then flies back up the Volcano to inform the King of this. The team realize that it will take some time for the door to be opened and that they are currently still being chased by a giant fucking Boar.

They dash down the slope and leap down a cliffside into a still pool. Jepta lands poorly and is slightly hurt. The Boar comes to the ledge above the pool and they hear it nosing around, trying to find a way down.

Reasoning that the Boar is huge and will have a poor time leaping, Jepta fires one of her ice bullets at it to taunt it into jumping. The Boar fails its Will save and leaps. It then fails its Dex save and crashes into the ground, breaking two of its legs.

The screaming is monstrous and the tree-moths of the Tagia spiral into the air in shock.

At this point Ian's character Bastian Blank the Shipwrecked Kelptomanic boy appears & finds Jepta  pulling herself out of the pool and calmly emptying the ice bullets in her revolver into the Boar, blowing its brains out.

Soon, under Jepta's orders, the team are up to their forearms in Silver blood, butchering the Boar and pulling several remarkable weapons from its flesh.


  • An obsidian axe
  • A magical arrow
  • A well-crafted harpoon


Then they rob its lair of all the metal they can, Bastian steals a huge iron sword to add to his oversized weapon collection, they get some extra swords and a suit of mis-matched plate.

Busla and the White Ape decide to go off on their own to investigate the Caldera of the Volcano. They find inside a huge black pseudo-city carved from volcanic rock whose doorways & buildings are only sketches in the stone, none of the doors open & none of the buildings can be accessed

Most of the crew go with King Poltari, who is super-pleased to get his silver arm back, he introduces them to their new crew, 16 crewmen & a Navigator of Nox (paid two weeks in advance) then returns them all to the Falling Star, as per his agreement.

Mission accomplished.

In the City of Athenoptica, Busla and the Ape run into King Galerian, who wears an Iron Mask and is served by a Crow. King Galerian takes quite a shine to Busla and attempts to seduce her into the 'Life Eternal' ie becoming a Lich. On discovering they are adventurers, he promises to aid her if she finds something for him.

He tells her that the isle of Tien Phrang is split between its Moonward Side and its Dark side. The moonward side is ruled by the Jade Path and the Darkwayrd side by the ruin-obsessed Black Path.

(see zaks Churches of Tiamat)

The Black Path is lead by Pan Chun Mei who's lair is unknown. King Galarian is familiar with this woman and wants her Jade monkey. If Busla brings it to him he will aid her in reaching 'The Life Eternal'. Galerian pulls a feather from his Crow, oozes a ring from his finger and appends the feather to the ring, where it becomes an etched sigil. He says to summon his crow, simply touch the sigil.

On the Falling Star, captain Crunt tries to defuse tension between Tranquility Zooth and the new navigator Bodagrottorna al Tenebres an Noble woman of Nox. Resolved in Tranquility's favor, Bodagrottorna returns to a rear cabin in a rage.

Juglangsing Leptoblast has succeeded in translating part of the Captains Log gives his translation to Jepta, while also reporting his 'admiration' of her. Translation follows:

(My best partial translation of mst relevant pages below, only small part of whole atteneded to, yrs, with respect and Admiration My Lady, JL)

(P.S. my comments in brackets())

What am I to do with these RUFFS?...

....

Broad water-lilies lay tremulously,
And starry river-buds glimmered by,
your hair, Rashel,
And around it the soft stream did glide and trell,
With a motion of your sweet sound Rashel.
And the snakey paths of lawn and of dogs,
Which led through the garden along some logs,
And opened at once to the sun and the thieves,
Then lost among bowers of blossoming trees...

(I have not translated any more of his poetry as ws not V good, JL)

(more about Rashel here..............)

Islands of the Phrang Sea

Uter-Phrang - consider Galeren or Otchoun for silk trade? Are they still whole? has been many centuries..

Roto-Phrang - a hole. That terrible musich they play was V popular in court last time, try to trade for some plam-insturments & possible musician. DO NOT LET HIM PLAY ON BOARD or eat him. or her.

Sula-Phrang - avoid the harvest & conversation with the dull dead, safe enough, can repair here as long as NOT HARVEST SEASON

Tiam-Phrang - Isle now split between Black Path and Jade path. Have heard Pan Chun Mei rules Black Path, probably still in Lan-Lieng. Large island w resources but best to avoid? Or raid?

To hell with damned Jade Path & their green ships. Glib idiots.

(..... goes on about Rashel here again ...more poetry...)

Alo-Phrang - Marinkio could be interesting. Otherwise safe & dull. 

Lembata-Phrang - No idea. True about the Demons?

Tennggara-Phrang - Must make certain not to enrage the Pale Eye. Their help could be V useful in getting to Yaag-Sien  accessing chain. Make sure not in state of war before making any public alliences, political situation always shifting.

oh Rashel....

(goes on in same vein for some time.)

................

Bastian Blank talks to the Fire Dervish Karvash Bloom who tells him some of his Doctrine of Fire and gives him half a pack of matches, telling him to have fun but be safe.

Jepta makes a deal with king Polinari's Silver Jay for one of their (damaged) bales of Silk, he pays three guilders for it.

Though barely able to describe the ship to which they wish to go, despite almost every adventure thus-far being almost entirely on that ship and the DM info-dumping them to an incredible extent, Busla and the Ape get lucky and King Galerian returns them to the Falling Star. They inform the crew of Tien-Phrang and their desire to go to the 'Darkward side'.

While fiddling with the arrow recovered from the hide of the Silver Boar

After four days of repairs to the ship and discussion, the Falling Star is finally fully repaired and in working order. The navigator Bodagrottorna al Tenebres informs the crew of roughly where they are:







The crew decides that they will attempt to steal from, raid or otherwise assault Pan Chun Mei since, as leader of a 'Terroristic' organisation 'she will probably have money'. They set sail for Tien-Phrang

....

.... and brilliantly go wrong, they arrive after five days at the shore of Sula-Phrang. The Giant Mantis-Shrimp-Riding tribal elite are dashing into the surf to catch coral snakes, it is indeed Harvest season and we sense that the PC's are about to become forcibly involved in the islands rituals whether they wish to or not.


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

ISLES OF THE IMPRISONED MOON - SESSION THREE - THE DOORS OF UTER-PHRANG


  • If session one was about the battle on the Falling Star and two was about defeating the Caucus Pirate No-Dicto, then three is mainly about the island of Uter-Phrang.
  • It's even longer than usual after the game for me to be writing this so if anyone who was there remembers anything I don't then let me know an I will put it in.
  • As usual, this will mainly be of interest to the people that were there and will be written in a practical style that gets it down fast & clear.


Present were Jepta Crunt (Chris H), Barlang Rift (Dan Voyce) and, when he turned up, Richie Cyngler as the ancient widow Busla Monte Bul.

An impression of the Isles Imprisoned Moon by K Yani


PART ONE - ON THE FALLING STAR

The PC's begin, having defeated the Caecus Pirate No-Dicto, they are surrounded by the Cockroach clans of uter-Phrang. Jepta decides to examine the spume for useful items that have come up from the wreck
.
Looking over the side she sees only fragments of wood and the bio-luminescence of the ship sinking into the deeps, with the trailing tentacles of the under-hull following it like a falling banner.

The PC' try to instill some order and discipline in the Cockroach Clans. Barlang offers free ruffs & Jepta tries to stop them crawling all over the ship & getting into the captains wine cabinet.

Impressed with their pirate-murdering abilities, the Clans agree to help the PC's pilot the ship. They are not very good at this and numerous attempts to raise the foresail lead to it crashing to the deck multiple times.

Eventually, all the crew and the clanspeople working together manage to do something or other with most of the sails, leaving them scrappily tied up and in some cases, nailed, to their booms, the Falling Star slows in its moonwards drift past Uter-Phrang and the PC's can now see that on the moonward side the steep slope of the extinct volcano is a Silver Tagia made up of glass-needled pines, gleaming pools and shadowed valleys

Without the PC's liberal wing (Richie hadn't turned up yet and David McGrogans John Brown/Conan White Ape wasn't turning up) Jepta and Barlang decided to start a programme of feeding the Vampire Captains former larder and assigning them leaders from within the group based on which ones seemed most competent, hence their new names 'Stampy', 'Middle' and 'Catchup'.

Jepta Calls a meeting to decide what action to take next. It's generally agreed that the crew should be trying to make it to Selenium, the city of the Sub-Luniary Men (& women). To do this they will need a competent crew, provisions (the previous crew didn't eat much as they were dead).

Jepta decides to interrogate the Captains pet bird (a Raven I think) and, as she speaks Shrike, the language of Birds, is able to do so.

The Bird claims to be the 'President of Birds' and 'Best Bird Ever' but does say that it knows three Symbols of the Aurulent Empire, after translating this for the crew, Juglangsing Leptoblast says that he is familiar with the written form of this language and offers to check to make sure the bird is telling the truth.

While the bird is laboriously pecking out its three symbols onto some paper, the PC's notice another bird approaching from the island, a Silver Jay. After taking offence at the brutish communications of Barlang Rift it tells Jepta that it is a herald of King Kallias Poltari and asks their business. Ultimately it requests/demands their presence for its King and is offended when the PC's seem unwilling to trapse through a mad island bordered by poisoned coral mangroves and up a dead fucking volcano to meet him. Eventually it flies off, intimating that it will return.

Leptoblast confirms that the three signs are part of the language of the Aurulent Empire but strangely warped. After some investigation, Jepta realises that they are mirror-reversed.

Jepta investigates the Captains cabin and sees that the perch for his raven was just in view of his desk. She searches for hidden objects in the desk and finds a mirror. On viewing the Captains coded log in the mirror, Leptoblast realises that the whole log is in mirror-written Ancient Aurulent and says he can begin (slowly) decoding it.

The PC's decide that their best bet is to meet with the Cockroach Clans and maybe work out something with them or with the weird king (or kings?) that seem to live in the islands dead volcano.

They attempt to tack the ship back up the coast of Uter-Phrang to where they think the Cockroach Clan village is. With some success. The Falling Star makes it safely but two of the barrels of Whale Oil in the hold are broken and the highly flammable oil seeps into the wood of the hold.

Casting anchor, the PC's call out to the island and the Cockroach Clans swarm out on their Cockroach Carapace Canoes. They seem excited to have visitors and are happy to take the PC's through the poisoned coral mangroves and into the Island.


PART TWO - ON UTER-PHRANG

On approaching the poisoned coast, the Cockroach Clans deliberately capsize their canoes and paddle underneath them, in this manner the poisoned fronds of the coral trees are parted and run (mostly) safely over and around their upturned hulls. The PC's arrive spluttering & soaked on the island and are lead to the Village of the Clans by their frined Dan Tiger.

There, they see a mad conglomeration of stuff jammed together in the form of a sort of house/hive, with a fighting circle in the village center and a glommed-together statue of Zoophoria.

Though Busla should perhaps be paying more attention to her actions, she is constantly sketching and did manage to capture some images of what she experienced.

Cockroach Village by Busla Monte Bul (Richie Cyngler) 


A clanswoman, Serenity Kong offers to fight any of the PC's and Barlang Rift enthusiastically accepts. This provokes cheers from the crowd who love a good fight.

Barlang selects a club of white coral carved with scenes of a gigantic sea creature eating people and enters the ring. Barlang and Serentiy exchange blows, doing some peripheral damage to each other until Barlang backs away. He lures Serenity into over extending herself but, instead of smashing in her brains, he grabs her for a kiss. The crowd erupts. She knees him in the balls but, amused by his impudence, does not smash his head in on the ground. Barlang sweeps her legs and she is knocked out by the fall.

Through courage, violence and impudent flair, the PC's have once again, raised their cachet with the Cockroach Clans.

While talking to Dan Tigers Jepta learns that some of the pirates from the ship of the Aye-Aye pirate Captain No-Dicto have made it to the island and that the Clanspeople are very happily hunting them through the fungal and lichen forests for sport, though in every hunt a few Clanspeople do not come back. She also learns that there are numerous Kings living in the mountain, that they very occasionally trade with the clans for a few necessary things (they helped them build the Crab-Mills which turn on the lower slopes of the Volcano) and that the Clans are sort-of-but-not-really subjects of the Kings.

As the PC's feed on the pearlescent hypnagogic fruit of the Isle, on dream-algae and smashed crabs, Barlang manages to successfully sleep with Serentiy Kong.

The festivities are interrupted by the arrival of another bird, this time a Shrike claiming to be a herald for King Mygdon Hoebacke. The shrike attempts to engage the PC's in a conspiracy against King Polinari, asking them the retrieve that kings lost sliver arm and bestow it upon Hooebacke instead, but, being already warned of this King by the Dan Tigers, the PC's do not accept this offer and Jepta grabs it out of the air and humiliates it before releasing it and throwing rocks at it as it flies away, swearing revenge.

The PC's decide to wait in the Village for a few days so that Barlang Rift can heal (presumably also giving him time to prosecute more amorous entrails with Serentiy Kong). After about four days the Silver jay of King Poltari finds them (somewhat out of breath after searching for them for several days). They agree to visit the King if he will bring them by 'door' rather than by them traipsing across the island. The Jay agrees and a day or so late the PC's are waiting by a blank standing stone with an odd symbol scrawled on it, preparing the meet the King.

A door opens in the stone and the PC's look through to see a huge throne room carved from volcanic Basalt, King Poltari is a masked figure wrapped in bandages, covered with robes and wearing both a mask and a crown. The air is full of burning incense to disguise a rather unpleasant smell. The throne room has no doors.

King Kallias Poltari by Busla Monte Bul (Richie C)

They go in. Jepta addresses the King in Elagaic and earns his respect thereby. The King tells them that this is the City of Athenoptica (the Doorless City of the Drowned Kings, though they didn't get all that at the time). After some conversation the King does indeed ask for help retrieving his lost Silver Arm.

He was investigating a creature on the Moonward side of Uter-Phrang. A gigantic and immortal Silver Boar. Perhaps because of the influence of the Imprisoned Moon, many strange and possibly semi-divine moon-related creatures can be found on the islands surrounding it. It may be that they fell or were captured by the Moon or simply draw to it, it may be that the islands themselves grew up around them somehow.

Regardless, this boar ripped off Poltari's arm and he barely escaped with his un-life. The creature is exceedingly dangerous and can only be killed with a weapon of Ice.

The PC's bargain with the King and agree to help him in exchange for the services of:

- 16 Able sailors with shipwright skills
- A navigator
- and basic materials for repairing a ship

He agrees.

In order to find the ice with which to kill the Silver Boar, the PC's ask the King to open a door to somewhere very cold. After thinking for a moment the King says "Dryhthelm" and a (for the PC's) blazing pillar of white light and freezing air lances into the chamber. Jepta manages to freeze some bullets for her revolver and Busla coats the end of her cane with ice. Barlang takes little interest in these events. Poltari closes the door just as some kind of insectoid figure seems to notice it from the other side.

With no further ado, Poltari opens another door to the lair of the Silver Boar. The PC's Issie bravely into it but are surprised to see a battle already taking place inside. An outcast olm, Crab-Man marked with the words 'Mister Snips', a Lamprey Dwarf and Anemone-Man are all trying to destroy the Silver Boar which occupies the cavern. The Olm attempts to drive an icicle into its back.

A Lamprey Dwarf by Busla Monte Bul (Richie C)


Using this as cover, our heroes edge around the wall of the cavern until noticed by the Shrike they previously humiliated. It screams and a transparent and almost-invisible Crayman looms out of the darkness and attacks Barlang Rift.

As Barlang and Busla fight the Crayman and the Boar tramples, gouges and kills everything else, Jepta locates the silver arm, clearly pulsing with magical energy, and pulls it out of the walls of the Boars Den.

Barlang is nearly killed by the Craymen but, at the last moment, Busla finishes it off with her icy cane. The three heroes dash for the exit, hoping for a quick escape, the Silver Boar however has killed all the surviving pirates and has now noticed the PC's.........


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Podecast 6 - The Wonderful Kererū

Apparently at some point in the last few months I have decided to just stop pronouncing the middle of a lot of words, presumably in order to save time.

(Also WTF is up with the scrappy recording of my voice? I recorded this on my laptop but Scrap is clearer?)

Click the Kererū to access the cast


The Wonderful Kererū appears only once in this Podecast but exemplifies the spirit of both participants, a fat, pompous, ridiculous animal snatching a whole twig from the tree of thought, eating a single flower and then throwing the rest away.


0.07 - VotE
2.38 - Weightlifters with no penises
3.37 - Do you want to talk about pre-history? (We do not do this.)
4.36 - I cut a huge amounts of blathering out here.
5.00 - Scraps game.
7.10 - Complexity and depth
9.30 - Scrap has a moment of clarity about the nature of Complexity
11.10 - Where it actually starts to get interesting.
11.50 - The capacity of a post-apocalyptic world to create its own context.
13.10 - A new place to put adventures.
13.45 - "What's his face? The guy who does Udan-Adan? We'll probably never know his real name."
14.15 - Our regular obligatory mention of Zak.
15.50 - Who did invent 'the dungeon as a living thing?
17.28 - A Ghost in my house.
18.30 - The 'blank slate' game world & identity.
20.43 - Eve as the first D&D player, Adam as a Storygamer.
22.28 - Rachel Pollack's 'Unquenchable Fire' I got the name wrong in the podcast.
24.26 - Our other regular segment on colonialism.
26.16 - Mention of Potatoes causes internet to drop out.
28.10 - It's 'Henry Moreton Stanely' and I may well be wrong about Cortez. Have fun with Wikipedia.
31.45 - "You're treating those children like subhumans."
33.41 - Scrap is confused by the moral exchange inherent to Government. Sarah Horrocks would probably agree.
38.15 - "If only one culture has reliable deep-water navigation, that culture is effectively playing D&D with the world."
39.45 - Cowboys on Mars.
41.53 - We expand our mentions of Zak to include his sister? Anyway, X-Men school-style Character Gen.
47.39 - Communicating on a Meta-Level. Maybe our players are friends.
49.15 - MY SPECIAL SETTING!!
51.00 - We cycle back to, or around, different contexts in which to place adventures..
52.00 - The ancient civilization of Dan.
55.09 - The Halfmen of O by Maurice Gee.
56.55 - The Changeover by Margaret Mahy.
58.45 - Does the Conspiracy Theorist have a D&Dish world? No, not really.
60.01 - Pre-apocalyptic D&D
60.03 - Stealing & faking art throughout history.
60.05 - Dirtbag Greys. The Burke & Hare of space.
60.07 - Changes in scale. Insect wars.
60.08 - The Author was 'William Tenn' and the book is Of Men and Monsters.
70.45 - Giants would be very vulnerable, and likely peaceful.
72.55 - The wonderful Kererū or New Zeland Wood Pidgeon.  (A bird that flies through the glass in your window is also playing D&D)
76.00 - "Birds would be good D&D characters."
81.00 - Evil Dolphins.



  1. " snatching a whole twig from the tree of through, eating a single flower and then throwing the rest away." this was the Kaka by the way
    ReplyDelete
  2. also thank you for making this happen and all the boring work putting time content lables etc
    ReplyDelete
  3. shoulda lead with that first one but I didn't
    ReplyDelete
  4. why do you associate with literal demons Patrick?
    ReplyDelete

Monday, 5 September 2016

VaporWare Contrails in the Prehistoric Sky

Reading through 'Wolf Packs and Winter Snow' made me think a lot about prehistory. It made me think about things I would add and take away. Vaporware contrails. What would 'my' Prehistoric game be like?

.......

Perhaps classless. Prehistoric and tribal societies are less likely to have 'jobs'. Or at least their lives are less job-like. Everyone essentially has the same job: be an effective hunter-gatherer, from there people branch out a bit into different skill sets as provoked by talent and circumstance.

I spoke about this a long time ago in Godz Without Limitz. I think older less densely populated societies with a lower tech level regarded their individual members with a much lower degree of specialization. When you thought of a problem and needed help you considered the shape of the problem and cast your mind through the varied talents of your friends, looking for a matrix of capacity within a particular person, not for someone with an assigned role.

"I've gotta butcher this animal. Blue-teeth is really good at butchering, I'll see if he's around." Rather than. "I've gotta butcher this animal, better call the tribes butcher, who is called Blue-Teeth."

So it makes sense to have, maybe a developing skill system related to the basic stat line with skills growing as you try new things, (as promised in every fucking Elder Scrolls game until you jib it off and become a super-armored-mage-knight-assassin.)

.....

I might not include INT as a stat. I would tell new players that they are portraying among'st the most intelligent people ever to exist in the human race.

This might not be literally true, its likely that prehistoric man was pretty much 'as' intelligent, or, as capable as we are. It's an interesting question as to how you account for intelligence vs 'capacity. So much of how we understand intelligence is based on our culture or our mind state having a *lot* of abstract information to move around. And dealing with abstract information teaches familiarity with abstract information, it feeds on itself.

How do you measure intelligence in a world where almost nothing is abstract? Where everything is sensory? Being able to guess or predict the path of migrating deer is a bit abstract. Tracking an animal through broken terrain is hyper-complex, but not abstract. Facing off with a live animal that you want to eat in a situation where, if it gets away, you starve and if it doesn't, it dies, is hyper-complex with multiple highly sophisticated result paths interacting with each other at high speed and in a situation of significant stress, but I'm not sure how you would measure the IQ factor in it.

We remind the players continually that they are playing intelligent people to remind them to act in an intelligent way, even though they have few of the signs, signifiers and mental tools of intelligence as we measure it. These people are smart, they just don't have very much to think *with* (by our standards).

In the same way I might not include WIS. Let's just assume that everyone is as observant as its possible for them to be. The way Into the Odd insists you tell people stuff if it is there to be seen is interesting so lets continue with that.

Not only the discovery of technology but the transmission of knowledge would be important
dancing, storytelling and performance would all be vital for forming culture-groups.

(It's kind of staggering how much we don't know about dance. I've been reading Wendigo papers and all the time they say "This was communicated with his dance", "they were frightened by his dance", "his dance was tamed by their medicine dance", "in winter, the society was organised by dance", but we never find out how the dances fucking work or even what they are like to see.

We have no good language for describing dance and apparently don't give a fuck about it. It's like an alien watching white people and saying "Ah, of course they manipulated the actions of their sub-group with a book", "much of the continent was inflamed by war after reading a book" "he was hanged and his books destroyed because of something he had put in a book", "books are a vital medium of exchange and influence for this culture" but no-one talks about whats in the fucking books.)

Since you wouldn't speak the language of most people you encountered and they might seem racially or morphologically very different to you you might simply view them as monsters or 'other'. The role of peacemaker, translator or culture-transmitter could become a powerful one.




MAGIC - whooooo

There are few, or no, spells in this setting. In "our" world, or the more common fantasy world, reality is a given and magic users unleash spots of unreality, thereby defining the boundaries and rules of the imagined world as well as their own distinctive natures in it.

In the prehistoric world mild magic is everywhere. Shamans use magic a lot less than they investigate and refine the borders of reality.

the concept of 'dreams' doesn't exist, or at least not to the same extent or in the same way we understand it. People know that what happens while you sleep is of a different quality that what happens while you are awake, but, what happens while you sleep is still important, worthy of consideration, decision and even worth sharing if it seems necessary.

You might meet dead people when you sleep, you might meet them when you are awake, neither of these would necessarily be more or less frighting or important than the other. There aren't that many people and if you don't like the people around you, you can usually leave  go somewhere else
so the terror of people is more about what they mean to you, rather than numbers.

If you see a dead person you know well while you are asleep and *don't* tell people when you wake up, then that might be a mistake. Good or bad, they wouldn't come to see you for no reason.

In the same way, laughing or making fun of what someone tells you about what they saw when they were asleep doesn't make sense (most of the time). It's just more news, more information.

One of the most important things a Shaman does is keep the dead in their place and maintain a very clear boundary between them and us so they don't just come back all the time and do stuff.

In our own time we might regard Shaman as psychopomps, people defined by their ability to go back and forth between this world and the other world, but I suspect we have it the wrong way round. Yes, they cross the border, but as custom officials, border guards or ambassadors, reaffirming the reality of the border even as they cross it.

Animals and places and people have spirits, the exact difference between a spirit and a real thing is permeable. Shaman can tell the difference and work out how they work Everyone else pretty much has to deal with what they get. What we call 'dreams', 'spirit' and the material world, all interpenetrate. PC's and shaman mark things, perform rituals and tell stories to mark  boundaries, between sleep and waking, death and undeath, solid and perceived. The difference between 'corporeal' un-dead, ghosts, dreams and just someone who has recovered from what seemed an impossible illness or wound, is unclear.

Human beings have incredible minds. We can model reality with a sophistication and range no other animal can match, but it won't. stop. we can't turn it off. A huge amount of what the religions and social guardians of early societies have to do is just dealing with the overwhelming sophistication of the human mind and all the incredible things it can do, and keeps doing. you need to repress and transform so much to get get human beings acting together, but you can never repress anything directly, its like pressing bubbles on plastic over glass, instead you have to divert, transform, persuade, suggest, and you have to invent the culture to do it with.

In this game the job of a Shaman is less 'doing spells', but controlling magic, controlling otherness, naming it and giving it it's boundary. Investigating and reaffirming the borders of reality, of 'what is'.

I'm imagining something a bit like the Civilization tech-tree, but showing different ways of dividing up reality. No-one knows where the dead go, or how to keep them there, or what spirits are where or how they work, or where people came from, or where they are going, you would have to 'discover' these things, and by discover I don't mean just make it up, you would need to come up with a coherent set of culture rules that *make sense* according to the experience of the people who hear them and which deal with the pressures and strangeness of the human mind.



THE RAY MEARS PROBLEM

The big problem (if you consider it a problem) with putting so much effort into making things from the natural world and noticing things IN that natural world is that the game becomes one where whomever paid most attention to the survival manual is a badass and its hard for PC's to subtly investigate the natural world if the DM doesn't them-self have a deep knowledge of it.

This is really different to the investigation of imagined worlds based on genre or story type or fictional constructs. Someone can know more about Faerun than you, depending on how you run your game, but its hard for them to know more about how a dungeon works, or about how horses work in a fantasy setting (you jump on them to go somewhere, they eat at the end of the journey, they rarely run away, they fade into the background when not needed, they poop only when it would be funny). Horses in *reality* are probably much more complex and weird to deal with and the same goes for all natural things. Can you make a canoe from the bark of that tree? Well can you?

Fuck knows.

I don't have a great answer for the Ray Mears problem. I guess you would put together a simple yet interesting crafting system, that would help. But crafting is never interesting. You could maybe take the OSR route of breaking down sophisticated world-information into attainable objects, except the objects are aspects of the world. Like understanding part of an ecosystem is like a treasure. No idea how that might work.



END GAME

It's the Bronze Age. Even though that doesn't make sense, the idea is too cool for it not to be. The adventures of your neolithic PC's become the seed for the hero-cycle of a Bronze Age culture. "Hey, you remember when those guys fought that giant thing, and it looked like they were going to lose? But they didn't? Well its thanks to people like that that we currently have a unitary culture."

You might not start with a class but maybe you can end with one, depending on what you do.

God King. Or legendary hero for a fighty person, like the Herakles or Gilgamesh of a culture, someone who made the world safe for humanity, or (if you're a hippy) founder of something like the Iroqois Confederacy.

Crafty Dude."I literally invented bronze motherfucker! you remember flint? It was a shitshow!" or maybe you are the person who invents agriculture, or writing. Or you could become the Trickster-figure who dicks the gods around to help humanity.

Magicy Person. This could be the  revealer of a core religious faith and cosmic schema capable of creating and linking an entire culture, think Zoraster, less someone who named the gods, but someone who laid out the cosmos, discovered where the dead go and how that relates to us. You'll need a big mad religion to help the God-King make people live in your terrifying cities.


Sunday, 4 September 2016

Isles of the Imprisoned Moon - Session 2

We ended the last session with the PC's having pulled an accidental Yojimbo. They were rescued from shipwreck by the Captain of the Falling Star and his crew of skeletons. At the same moment, the Falling Star was attacked by a Nudibranch-Man and his Crab-Man associates who were apparently chasing thieves.

Having survived the mutual annihilation of these groups, murdered the Captain and freed his slaves, the PC's find them selves apparent masters (mistresses really) of the Falling Star.

Present are:

Jepta Crunt - Highly competent revolver-armed widow of the famed explorer Captain Crunt, who first mapped the Melstrom of the Leviathan Mind. Worshiper of Man-Pac. Played by Chris H.

Busla Rant - An old woman with Iron Eyes and a magnetic telescope, mistress, or as she would put it, 'friend' of the fearsome but mute White Ape.

The White Ape - Physically fearsome, intellectually astute, noble in character, yet voiceless and considered little but a churl. A damned Liberal and Radical, unlike his player David McGrogan.

Barlang Rift - Horribly burnt former blood whore for vampires. Ably portrayed by Dan Voyce



Jepta and the White Ape decide to heard the 12 slaves of the Vampire Captain below decks to attempt to plug the hole in the ships side. On the mid-deck they encounter the three passengers of the Falling Star:

Tranquility Zooth - A seleinain or sub-luniary woman. She is always closely veiled. Her veil is made from strings of blue amber and inside each amber gem is a silver moth frozen. A white-gold light seems to emanate from within.

Tranquility has been seeking her husband Torgos Zooth in the Veins of the Earth, but so far unsuccessful, she has decided to return home to her city of Selenium, a crowd of sliver spires perched mid way up one of the vast iron chains that bind the Imprisoned Moon.

Juglangsing Leptoblast - A likable, eccentric and alcoholic naturalist who claims to be an expert in stick-fighting. He seeks to get ‘underneath the world’, he is seeking the home of the Unglulix, a creature that no-one but him has ever seen and which he claims comes ‘from beneath things’. Because of this he will permit no gaps beneath things while he is alone.

Karvash Bloom - A dark-skinned man who claims to be a 'Fire Dervish' from the Hypogea, a distant school of magic. He seeks knowledge of the Palaces of Fire and access to them and is also travelling to distant Selinium, the city of the Sub-Luniary men. Though he says little of this to anyone.

Jepta meets Leptoblast first and her offhand remarks about the Captains 'disappearance' while idly cleaning the blood from the barrel of her perhaps still-smoking revolver, make it clear that the ship has a new Mistress now.

Entering the cabins of the passengers. Jepta and the Ape encounter Tranquility Zooth. The two women form an unlikely bond, Jepta is a widow and Tranquility is looking for her lost husband. Barlang Rift arrives from the upper decks (Dan Arrives) and Busla wakes up on her Apes back (Richie arrives.) Karvash Bloom breaks his silence to remind the PC's that the ship is still actively on fire.

..................


In the hold, the team work quickly to put out the flames and manage to stop the fire before it reaches the ships supply of Whale Oil. All except for Barlang, who pokes around for things to steal while everyone else works, taking a reasonably effective inventory at the same time.

At this stage a political argument breaks out between Busla and her ape on one side and Barlang Rift on the other. The teams radicals regard the slaves of the Vampire Captain as poor wretches in need of assistance and yearning for freedom. Barlang Rift, the more politically conventional PC, and former Vampire addict himself, regards them with suspicion and has half a mind to assume ownership of them as booty.

Frustrated by this, Jepta decides to explore the rest of the ship.Arriving on the top deck she sees a gleam in the sky to darkwards. She visits the galley to feed herself and encounters a woman made of porcelain who is making a meal. Leaving the porcelain woman alone, Jepta eats herself and then follows it out as it leaves.

There she encounters the one remaining Skeleton and orders it in Lament to collect all the dropped objects from the dead bodies on deck. It does so, building a pile of bronze swords and Crab Claws

This takes her to the Captains cabin. Tranquility Zooth has already moved herself in and is rifling the Captains papers in search of clues. They seem to be written in some sort of code. The two commiserate again about their mutual positions, Tranquility confides that she too has been saddled with travelling with a bunch of idiots and reveals that she found a case of explosive and a caged raven in the Captains bedroom.

Jepta returns belowdecks. As she crosses the main deck she sees again the gleaming sky to darkwards, apparently bigger than before. In the hold she encounters her friends engaged in the same argument as previously. Barlang alleges that freeing the slaves will put them all in danger of chaos and revenge killings. The White Ape regards this as an argument similar to that endorsed by Thomas Jefferson, though since the Ape is mute and no-one here knows who Thomas Jefferson is anyway this opinion carries little weight.

After coming to some kind of compromise about the (former?) slaves, the team attempt to go abovedecks, only to encounter a MothStorm. Jepta is briefly incapacitated by the dust from the moths wings and Leptoblast idly discloses a rumor that pirates in the Nightmare Sea will often follow a MothStorm in order to fall upon those who the storm has already passed over.

I forget exactly who saw what first but over the next hour or so of sailing the team becomes increasingly aware of two things.

There is an island within reachable distance. An extinct volcano with steep sides faces to Moonward, on the darkwards side a long plane stretches down to the shore. The upper slopes seem to have windmills. The plain itself is a forest of fan fungi, stromatolites and land coral draped with Dream lichen. As they get closer the team see that the accessible shoreline is a tangled mangrove of white coral trees draping poisoned neamocytes into the ocean.

The approaching ship is indeed that of Pirates, and of an unusual design. Two large masts reach up directly out of the water and support a vast labyrinth of sail and rope in an ultra-complex cats-cradle.

The 'hull' of the ship exists entirely below the surface. Crewed by Crab-Men, Anemone-Men, Outcast Olm, Lamprey-Dwarves and Pale Craymen, the hull is open to the ocean and covered with bio-luminescent growths, it trails long, glowing man-o-war tendrils behind it.

The crew make every effort to put on more sail, despite the fact that none of them know how to raise or store the sails, in order to escape the pirate ship.

As they approach the island, tirbespeople come out on their Cockroach-shell canoes, though how they move past the islands poisoned mangove shore is unknown.

The two ships converge and the crew of the Falling Star have a few rounds in which to make use of their ships catapult and two ballistia. The Pirate ship, though it seems to be much better manned, has no long range weapons that can do structural damage to the Falling Star. The PC's make good use of their advantage, catapulting barrels of Whale oil into the enemy rigging with Karvash Bloom the Fire Dervish igniting them in the air.

This works well once before Bloom accidentally ignites the second barrel too close to the Falling Star, setting the ship on fire again.

Despite this, concentrated fire from the Star manages to significantly damage the above-water parts of the Pirate vessel. However, nothing the PC's have access to can do any damage to the below-water parts of the ship which still approaches under its own motive power.

At the last moment, Captain Jepta Crunt remembers the explosive in the Captains cabin. Commandeering some slaves she drags it out, sets a fuse within and they hurl it over the side as a depth charge. This does some further damage to the Falling Star but has a much worse effect on the enemy ship, splintering its submersed elements and bringing a flotsam of hull, barnacles and dead bodies to the surface while the rest sinks into the dark.

Just before the ship collapses, the Captain leaps onto the deck of the Falling Star revealing himself to be the famed Caecus Pirate Captain Nondico



Armed with his murder-glove and spider-gun, he challenges Captain Crunt to a duel. She accepts and then calmly betrays him, he is shot and hit from behind by Barlangs hatchet before Crunt blows off his longest finger, the blood loss finishes him for good.

A sad end for a famed terror of the seas.

As the Pirate ship seems to sink, the Falling Star is boarded by the Cockroach Canoe islanders, long, rangy figures with tattooed bodies and violently blue eyes who seems to be worshipers of Zoophoria. The crew are acclaimed with cries of 'Whoop Whoop' and Jepta Crunt and Busla Rant are acclaimed as 'Monster Mothers'.

Here the game ends, for now. The Falling Star is badly damaged and barely holding together. Though they know enough to make sail, no-one on the crew knows how to raise the sails, stow them, or how to stop the ship.



The Crew and Contents of the Falling Star so far amount to:

STATS – 4HP (10 total) Armour 1, BallistaX2 (d4), Catapult (d6)

12 badly aenemic (ex?) slaves.
1 Skeleton, its nature and character unknown.
10 crates of Macemaker Silk, the main cargo, somewhat burnt, damage and value unknown.
9 (now 7) barrels of whale oil – 2 days of light ship-wide per barrel

20 Small Cargoes-
Bodkins
Resin
Pincers
Oars
Kettles
Candle snuffers
Caps, taffeta
Ruffs
Hawk bells
Gate locks
Pewter buttons
Armour breeches
Gorgets
Brown paper
Iron pots
Thimbles
Beaver skins
Coopers tools
Arrow shafts

A basket of Moths is rumored to be held somewhere in the ship.

Extra bedrooms currently full of cords and one Bone China Golem belonging to Tranquillity Zooth

Captains Cabin – High status clothes. No mirror. Ancient portrait, Caged Raven STR 4, D4 claws (non lethal), chest of explosives under the bed (used), case of wines (strangely un-investigated)



ALSO

DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN BUY THE FIRST THREE ISSUES OF 'A RANDOM ENCOUNTER' IN ONE GO????





In-depth interviews with David McGrogan, creator of Yoon-Suin, Chris McDowall, creator of 'Into the Odd' the very game we were playing in this AP and Patrick Stuart, winner of half a silver ennie for Maze of the Blue Medusa, all as one purchase. Not to mention art by Scrap Princess, Matthew Adams, Jonny Gray, Kathry Jenkins, Anxious P and Jeremy Duncan!!!!!