Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 3 Recap

This post continues the exploration and implementation of RuneQuest 6th Edition for the creation and use of a sword and sorcery campaign setting.

The recap of session 1 can be found >HERE<

The recap of session 2 can be found >HERE<

Session 3 was one of discovery, putting pieces together, and making some momentous decisions.

Session 2 had ended with the characters exploring the depths of an ancient temple beneath the diamond sands of the Desert of Screams.  They had secured Gorwyn’s patron in a defensible position then descended down into the heart of the sanctuary, identifying signs as they went that this temple had something to do with the legendary struggle between the gods and the forces of chaos. From time to time, sigils and signs they found prompted Turged, an aristocrat of some deep religious learning among his people, to share lore from the myths and legends of Granoth Deep.

As we closed the last scene of Session 2, Gorwyn had been grabbed by the cold hand of a priest he had believed was a corpse. He and Turged, with Wakefield lurking behind with a torch only he needed, had opened a barely concealed door behind the temple and found an ossuary full of priests in funereal garb. There were nine places for the dead to rest. One spot was missing. It was obvious now where their attacker had come from when they’d entered.

As Gorwyn reached for the pendant they would need to open the main doors of the temple, and possible obtain passage elsewhere within it, the priest had seized the young warrior’s wrist, opened his eyes, and taken a long, dry breath as if to speak…

Session Three: What is Human, what is Man?

Opening the third session with combat was not really what I had hoped would be the result of the cliffhanger ending of the week before, but that is what happened. I also had not intended to end Session 2 where I did, but two of us were called away early. Such is the fluidity of life.

After the session was over, in reviewing how it went I identified the largest weaknesses were:

  • not having an easily accessed chart or list of deities and their descriptions caused several shifts out of character to discuss cosmology. While we did discuss this in general terms (so as to not limit player contributions to pantheons, etc) by this point in the game we needed more concrete details so speculation could flow along with creation
  • the players were temporarily operating in a vacuum filled with choices and options, this was the session where they needed to define who they were as a group and what they were going to do about it. Until they reached the ability to make that decision, though, they were going to feel as lost and without guidance as their characters were. At some point, this has to happen in every sandbox campaign, but I think that with a 100% GM-supplied setting the sense of being lost is more manageable on the player side of the screen. Still, it was worth the experiment, and continues to be so~

Solutions to these weaknesses were simple. I provided more structure to the information they had, encouraged them again to take what I was telling them and skin it for their own culture, then share it back, and I stuck to my guns. Sometimes shared creation is a waiting game, and if the GM yields first to the perceived silence of the game world, no real sharing ever takes place.

Combat recap

  • The priest, seemingly a mummified corpse, opened its eyes, drew breath, and grabbed Gorwyn’s forearm [special effect: grip, RQ6 page 146]
  • Gorwyn and the Priest, whose mark of being Blessed became visible as the pair rolled away from the ossuary wall and stood, launched several blows at each other, but could not penetrate each other’s defense. Gorwyn was seeking to strike, while the priest was trying to secure another hold.
  • Turged slammed the priest with his shield, but was pushed away.
  • Wakefield remained outside in the entrance to the ossuary, fearful of closing with the dead. Turged drew his sword but was somewhat concerned about hitting Gorwyn. A brutal hit by the bodyguard on the priest, which had no visible effect, changed his mind about not attacking.
  • Gorwyn broke the priest’s neck, and moments later, the young Plenthan aristocrat cut so deeply into the priest’s abdomen he was certain he’d hit the spine. The priest collapsed to the floor pulling Gorwyn down with him and pinning the sailor in the doorway with his stare. His fear calming, Gorwyn belatedly realizes that the priest was not attacking him.

Session Recap:

  • Gorwyn and Turged battled a priest that they at first believed to be undead or at least animated by the same force of chaos which had attacked them earlier. As they struggled, however, they noticed first that the priest was one of the Blessed (immortals drawn from the creme of their societies and preserved in Time by the gods), and then later that he was not trying to harm them, he was trying to speak to them. By this time they had wreaked grievous harm on his body, impeding his ability to share his urgent message with them.
  • The priest, gripping Gorwyn and Wakefield with its eyes, and clutching at Turged, began to speak in its native language. None among them understood it and it could perhaps have been a dead language thousands of years before they were born. Soon, its words shifted not in substance but in comprehensibility until they were responding to them as though they were in the common language of the human kingdoms. Finally, just a few sentences later, it was as though they were listening to a speaker of their own native tongue and dialect. From that point on, words melted away for Gorwyn and Wakefield. Turged, however, found the strength in himself to resist, but not to trust the priest, and held himself apart from the stream of ancient memories which the Blessed was trying to share [Sorcery: Telepathy, RQ6 page 254].
  • The two humans received an immersive vision of the war between Chaos and the gods. The deities, as on the priests’ amulets, were experienced in this vision as the Three Who Shelter, and the Six Who Nurture. Turged heard the words of the priest but did not feel their power, nor the truth behind them. The vision showed the gods going to war and meeting the enemy near this very place, the keystone temple of seven which would be raised in the years to follow the battle. With them were a host of humans, dressed for war but standing along the edges of the battlefield offering support of some kind. The forces of Chaos approached the watchful human armies and coalesced into their nightmarish forms. They assaulted the lines of the deities with the immense Chaos Dragon at their center. The struggle lasted an age, and Time itself stopped to watch, but ultimately, the forces of disruption were scattered, and the Dragon cast down and bound. To ensure its imprisonment, the gods commanded the humans to construct seven temples in the far corners of the firmament, with the keystone temple on the spot where the Dragon fell. They were given seven translucent stones in which powerful enchantments resided to bind the Dragon to an endless imprisonment, each sealing one of its Six Aspects and binding it in Stasis. Each temple was to have a Stone, and the Keystone, the Stasis Stone, was to be kept here. Having communicated his message and passing on his certainty that the Stones must be protected, the priest’s consciousness was no more. The spell ended, and none among the three who bore it witness could be certain if the priest were truly alive or dead.
  • With their minds full of the power of this ancient, ancestral memory, Gorwyn and Wakefield felt themselves called to answer the fear in their hearts that the Stasis Stone had been removed from this place and that the Dragon, if not free already, was to be set loose upon the firmament again. [Passion Added at 60%: Recover the Stone(s) – RQ6 Using Passions, Page 421]. Although his own heart was not stirred by the magic of a vision from before recorded time, Turged was raised in a culture where the war against Chaos has never stopped, and opposing it with mind and body is second nature.
  • Now with a clearer sense of purpose, the trio wanted to search the rest of the temple, looking for the Stone, or the place where it was kept. Something was bothering Turged, however. He could not put the oddness of how the appearance of the temple shifted when his companions entered it. It did not seem like an illusion to him… but then, how could he know? As his companions laid the priest to rest again, taking care to take the amulet so they could use the main door to exit if they needed to, the Plenthan warrior-mystic meditated on the problem [Mysticism, Augment Skill: Insight, RQ6 – page 63, 225] . For a moment, as he contemplated the situation and what he had seen, he saw the temple in ruins, and most of the far side of the sanctuary as molten slag. The reality of the nearly pristine temple reasserted itself, but left the certainty that what he had divined in meditation was no less real than what he perceived around him now.
  • As has become their habit, the group shared their thoughts on what had transpired, and Turged shared the nature of his vision, but not his conclusions about it. As they began to search for signs of the destruction he had seen, but more importantly for any signs of the Stone, Gorwyn once again began to worry about his patron and rushed off to ensure the man was still well.
  • Reaching the bathing chamber, Gorwyn found it locked as it was supposed to be, but he could not rouse Ferrin to open it. Fearing the worst, Gorwyn hurled himself at the door repeatedly, sending booming echoes rolling down the hallway as he tried to batter a way inside. The others came rushing to his aid and they soon got the door open. Inside, they found “the worst” could not even begin to cover it. Boiling in one of the hotter pools of water was a thin, loosely bonded mass of oozing flesh and melted bone which used to be a young man. His face had drifted down to where his thighs had merged together, and his heart was visible pumping away madly somewhere in his vastly expansive abdomen. Tossing the end of a belt in to pull the pulpy mass closer to the edge of the pool, Gorwyn found himself separating the loosely congealed flesh like a wire through melted cheese. Looking into the screaming eyes of his patron, he knew the only way to save him now was to spare him this agony. A quick thrust of Turged’s sword and that final mercy was complete. What took longer to pass was the smell of boiled pork which spilled out into the hallway.
  • Gorwyn, a failure now in this his first charge, found his heart hardening and moving toward revenge [Change of Passion from Protect to Avenge]. Whoever, or whatever had done this to Ferrin would meet as grim a fate if Fate allowed.
  • Moving mostly in silence now, much on their minds, the trio explored the rest of the temple, looking for enemies, and looking for clues. In a chamber filled with a shallow pool they found the resting place of the Stasis Stone, and confirmed that it had indeed been stolen. In the rest of the temple they found the empty living spaces for twenty monks, some still under the fading spell of preservation which had, until the theft of the Stone, protected the whole place. They had no idea when or why the monks who toiled here had given up their charge and laid nine of their number to rest in the ossuary. It did not seem like an answer would be found here. Likewise, the nature and meaning of the 6 remaining Stones, and clues to their locations must be found… but where? Among the priests at the Temple of Ascension, or among the hoarders of dark secrets and strange magic?
  • The group left the temple via the main doors, remarking as they left how now that they know the story behind the overwhelming mural, they recognize the small shadows along its bottom edge as the hosts of humanity arrayed with their gods to battle Chaos. Stepping out into the eternal morning of the frozen sun, the trio carefully approached the campsite of strangers which had appeared near their own. As they closed with the newcomers, they recognized fellow pilgrims and a few ragged members of the Order of the Horizon. The pilgrimage would continue, but where would it go?
Session Four: The Eyes of History

The fourth session recap will recount the tale of how the group got in motion again after the horrors of the Temple…

Stay tuned~

Comments
3 Responses to “Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 3 Recap”
  1. Murderbunny says:

    So, Ferrin’s sitting alone in a bath house, twiddling his thumbs, and suddenly is hit with the bolt of inspiration: “This looks like a fantastic place to take a bath!” Poor fellow apparently didn’t think to test the waters with his toes, first. Not even mighty Gorwyn could save his patron from his own stupidity.

    😉

    • Runeslinger says:

      It was a little more horrific and a lot less self-inflicted than that. The poor fellow had a chance to scream once before his face slid down and off his head, but no one heard him…

      • Murderbunny says:

        Of course, no one knows what actually happened to poor Ferrin: maybe he was pushed, maybe a hallucination compelled him, maybe he fell; chaos being what it is, it’s entirely possible the room reshaped itself while he was in it, dropping him into dissolving watery death.

        But I prefer my “death by vanity” version. 😉

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