Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 5 Recap

This post continues the exploration and implementation of RuneQuest 6th Edition for the creation and use of a sword and sorcery campaign setting. This session was only 2hrs in length, so this recap will cover much less ground than the first four. Session 5 was the first to be played on the weekend. At this time, the group has not been able to determine a fixed time or day to play.

The recap of session 1 can be found >HERE<

The recap of session 2 can be found >HERE<

The recap of session 3 can be found >HERE<

The recap of session 4 can be found >HERE<

Session 5 was focused on surviving the horrors from beyond the grave that the group had unleashed on  itself. This was by far our most harrowing combat, and was the first to really send the message of the sort of violent representation RQ6 is capable of.

Problems
In terms of problem areas, it also showed me and at least one other player, that we need to get more facile with single-blow description if we want combat to flow more and feel less like choosing maneuvers and hoping to choose Special Effects. All of the maneuvers and effects were designed based on how combat actually plays out, so they are not the issue. What is at not quite meshing yet is the purely narrative description of what each person wants to attempt – limited to the effect of 1AP – followed by the roll and the ongoing narrative of results afterward. To keep the procedure flowing I am finding that I feel like I need to prompt each step in the cycle and this is not necessary. In fact, having to do so impedes the development of tension and narration quite significantly.

Solutions:
As time was short, I did not use any of it to address the combat flow problem, but will do so fully out-of-game. As this is a hangout with a dice rolling app, each player can see the dice results easily. There should be no need to have to prompt player decision to use an AP to defend or not. There should be no pause in description if results are not contested by a Defense roll. As soon as we discuss this and agree it is a problem to be addressed (as it might not bother all of us) we can then simply implement this proactive stance in combat.

Addressing the announcement of attacks, we may need to discuss this also. We have descriptions ranging from “I attack” to “I grab his head with both hands and break his neck.” Neither works. A quick look at the concept of narration for this combat system should again take care of this imbalance, and with practice it will disappear. Practice means attacks may need to happen a lot more often…  Fortunately, this group seems to have no trouble seeking out its own peril.

Session 4 had ended with the characters making their way down into a ruined temple and encountering a spirit or wraith of some kind. With a broken rope slowing their ability to escape, and other spirits incorporating to feed on them, the outcome looked bleak. Gorwyn, a large and muscular man, was bleeding profusely and unable to stand. Wakefield, small and not especially strong, was unwounded but only lightly armed and armored. Turged was slightly injured from his drop into the lower sacrifice chamber to aid his companions, but unable to fight and help carry Gorwyn at the same time.

Session Five: The Claws of Fear

This session saw a return to a great deal of focus among the players, and as a result their characters began to exhibit some of the traits of those with a compulsion to join a noble undertaking. While the quest to restore the Keystone seems enormous to them now, they have started to break it down into its component parts, identifying what they need to do first, and where that means they have to go. More than anything else, this session was about recognizing in which areas they are unprepared or unready, and choosing to aggressively remedy that. 

Session Recap:

  • Gorwyn, bleeding heavily from cruel slashes on both legs,  had been toppled from his feet by the first spirit. With its discorporation, he was able to examine the injuries and attempt to heal them  Feeling fatigue sinking its teeth deeper into him, he began with dealing with the bleeding, [First Aid]. Only marginally successful, he risked taking more time, and exerting himself further [Heal, Folk Magic] invoked mystical aid to restore vitality to his right leg. [Blood Loss, RQ6 page 108, Special Effect: Bleeding, RQ6 page 145, Fatigue RQ6 page 119]. Still cold from the touch of the spirit’s claws, but no longer bleeding, he was restored enough to rise and continue the escape attempt. While Wakefiled stood guard, and Gorwyn was attempting field medicine, Turged returned via his superior climbing ability [adhesion, Mysticism] to the upper level of the ruin to repair the rope. When ready, Wakefield did his best to assist Gorwyn to walk, but did not have either the muscle or the leverage to really do so [skill: Brawn].
  • As the pair in the lower chamber made their way to where the repaired rope was being lowered by Turged, the spirits finished incorporating and attacked. Gorwyn was once again struck a cruel blow in the leg [Serious Wound, RQ6 page 162] which rendered the leg unable to bear weight. The pain of this attack was so great that Gorwyn was once again dropped to the ground and was unable to focus on more than basic defense for several dangerous moments [3 rounds]. As the spirits drew closer, some manifested slowly from the sound of a dimly-heard scream then into a ball of ethereal light which slowly focused into the torso, gap-mawed head, and long, leathery arms ending in vicious claws. Others appeared further away, in the darkest spaces of the room. The temperature of the place dropped noticeably, and the air was full of shrieks and cries heard as if at great distance. The warmer air from the outside encouraged a heavy mist to form around the exit, slowly spilling its way down to them in the darkness below.
  • Fearing for Gorwyn’s safety, and seeing the number of attackers about to swell, Turged raced down the wall [Adhesion, Athletics, critical success] and with shield up to guard his head and upper left side [passive blocking, RQ6 page 154], to lay into the spirits. Writhing and finding his leg to be so damaged it could not hold his weight, from the cold floor of the chamber, Gorwyn solidly blocked first one than another powerful cut from the spirit seeking to eviscerate him and draw out his soul [Mysticism-enhanced combat ability being treated as magically active weapons able to strike and damage these spirits].  In the same instants, a spirit launched an attack at Wakefield from behind, its long, leathery-looking limbs arcing its light-consuming claws just over his head as he leaned over Gorwyn protectively. It’s follow up rake just barely contacted the fabric of his shirt, leaving the hiss of flash-frozen sweat behind it. Turged surged between them at that moment, and as he attacked, his sword began to exude a dull reddish light from within, as it would on a forge. He was as surprised as the others, having had no expectation it would behave in this manner. His rush drove him past the spirit threatening Wakefield and into the spirit menacing Gorwyn.  With a brutal cut [critical success, no parry – Special Effects: Maximum Damage, Press Advantage, RQ6 pages 147 and 148] he severed its right arm and sent the limb spinning off into the darkness, spattering into motes of fading light as it went.
  • Not pausing to regroup or retreat, Turged pressed his advantage to arc the broadsword around and cut deeply into the dismembered spirit’s torso, severing its hold on the physical world and causing it to likewise discorporate in a collapsing array of fading fragments of light. As it faded, the other spirits paused briefly then began to focus on the Plenthan Aristocrat. Wakefield, unable to lift Gorwyn, and hoping he could be of more use at the top of the rope, took advantage of the pause to begin the climb up the frosted rope. Gorwyn, in agony, began to drag himself toward the rope, his flayed leg trailing behind. The spirits closed on Turged and each cut at him with their frozen, black claws. He parried one, but could not defend against the circle of moaning attackers equally. A long slash opened a wound on his leg, another sliced deeply into his arm. His armor prevented much of the damage, but the cold and the force of the blows hammered at him in quick succession. [minor wounds]
  • Wakefield reached the top of the rope as Gorwyn reached the bottom. The spirits, still drawn to Turged for some reason, kept him within their swirling, howling circle of frosty light and leathery plasmic forms. His attempts to improve his positioning [outmaneuver, RQ6 page 154] were unable to free him from their circling. He defended against one low attack, but took another cut to his other leg, and another to his head – opening a line of pain and crystalline cold across his brow as his shield dipped under the onslaught. With more spirits closing, he knew it was time to retreat, but Gorwyn was unable to climb with his legs, and had to forcefully drag himself up the rope using only his cold-numbed arms. [Athletics capped by Brawn, capping RQ6 page 77, roll waived for having a sufficient score]. He was just reaching the top, and would still have to haul himself painfully over the edge, ruined leg dangling.
  • Again trying to outmaneuver his opponents, Turged was unable to elude them, but found himself under the hole in the ceiling. Taking advantage of his mystical union with the stone [Adhere] he focused on simply gaining distance, leading the spirits first away, then back toward the exit as Gorwyn made the agonizing transition over the lip of the collapsed stairwell. [Brawn, Hard, RQ6 page 57]. The spirits, trailing behind Turged were unable to get at his flesh through his armor and as he followed Gorwyn up into the unmoving sunlight of the endless day, he could hear them screaming in rage down below.
  • Worried that the spirits would ascend up into the light, the group dragged Gorwyn off the upper level of the ruined temple to the firmament, and down the main steps out of sight to the street below. Turged and Gorwyn worked together to heal the horrible wounds in his legs as Wakefield kept watch [Serious wound stabilized, Minor wound healed, RQ6 page 121]. By this time, Ystral and the fiesty northern nomad guide, Vycks, had spotted them. Ystral’s fury at what they had nearly allowed to happen, and his frustration at having warned them beforehand, were obvious, but he did not express them. He merely arranged to break camp and resume the journey.
  • Later, when they had covered enough ground that Ystral felt confident the Wraiths (as he called them) were unlikely to find them, he stopped and inquired what had transpired. Waving their apologies aside, he reminded them that at this moment, only they knew firsthand what had been happening with the Keystone, and only they had been chosen by the High Priest of its Temple to receive his message. Seeing their own understanding, he broke off his criticism and began to answer their questions. He told them about the wraiths, and how they have been actively fought and denied sustenance for generations. He described them as villainous sorcerors from the days when the Plenthans earned the wrath of their gods and were driven underground for it. He told them that although they have been starving since the early days of recorded history, they are still a potent threat and against all reason, in the last few years their numbers have been growing. He wonders aloud now if this was an early sign of the return of chaos to the Firmament, but cannot be certain.
  • The group decides to make as much haste as possible to reach the High Temple. They need to arm themselves with the right resources of knowledge and weapons if they are to be of any use in this struggle versus Chaos.
  • The journey is slow and hard. By Vyck’s reckoning it will take 3 weeks from the ruins to reach the grounds of the Temple of Ascension. Early in the second week, he discovers that one of their barrels of water has been leaking and is empty. They will not have enough water to make it. After a quick meeting, Vyck is sent to find water and the caravan continues on. His proud boasts that he will be back in a few hours take on a new meaning as hours turn into what must be days. Under the frozen sun, all time seems the same, but passes nonetheless…

The session ended with the knowledge that without their guide they stood a good chance of missing the Temple in the glittering wastes of the Desert of Screams. Short on water, and all too aware of the dangerous predators which lurk in the sands, the pilgrims were forced to wonder if this journey’s end was coming for blood.

 

Session Six:

The sixth session will reveal more of the Order of the Horizon, and if the characters have what it takes to survive the Desert of Screams.

Stay tuned~

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