Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 10 Recap

This post continues the exploration and implementation of RuneQuest 6th Edition in a sword and sorcery campaign setting. This session was delayed for two weeks due to scheduling problems on various fronts. With these things sorted out for the next little while, play is expected to continue smoothly.

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<

The recap of session 5 can be found >HERE<

The recap of session 6 can be found >HERE<

The recap of session 7 can be found >HERE<

The recap of session 8 can be found >HERE<

The recap of session 9 can be found >HERE<

 

Session 10 was focused on meeting with the Patriarch and other high-ranking priests. Although most that they meet are deferential to them there is an undercurrent of awareness that things in the Temple of Ascension are not devoid of mortal politics and maneuverings. Worse, each choice of a course of action laid before them appears to be indistinguishable from the others.

Problems
Our problems this week were focus related. With two of the three players having missed one or more sessions, and with the homebrewed nature of this campaign taking on more definition and depth with each session, returning to the game from an absence – especially in these more social circumstances – brings with it the problem of needing to catch up.

So severe did this become that we needed to stop play to access some of these recaps, and review the Casting Runes posts on religion (Pantheons and Perspectives) and cultures (More and Less Than Human) in order to put the revelations of the last session into use.

With the first hour or so of play spent fully out of character and sometimes completely out of game, it was a struggle to get to the lightly immersive stance of first-person IC interaction with minimal OoC communication that we have adopted as our modus operandi for the campaign. Each time momentum began to build, a joke or disruptive comment got in the way. While we had an enjoyable session and had fun with each other as players, there were times when these interruptions were less-welcome.

Solutions:

For the most part, I see sessions like this as having self-governance as the primary solution. If interruptions and tangents become a regular occurrence in every session, then the GM or the group as a whole needs to put an immediate stop to it when it pops up in play. If it is occasional, or in keeping with the mood of the group on a given day, it is nothing to worry about.

That said, focus in the game is rewarded with a better session, and that can only come from within. Concentration on something is a choice we make, and if the challenge is to be more than surviving the violence that RuneQuest can deliver so well, attention to the little details and keeping in tune with the developing narrative is the route we need to travel.

At this time, I see no need for any active handling of this situation. We are getting to know each other better as people, and that has given us more things to talk about and share than just the events of the game and the interest in learning the system. We had it easy before, now the skill of roleplaying despite other distractions is being tasked~

Thoughts on System:

This was another session where  few to no die rolls were needed, and the only real mechanics that were invoked were those governing difficulty adjustment and when not to roll. We did roll for Wakefield to Influence the flow of a conversation and some perception-related checks in regard to examining wounds and searched areas, but that was the extent of it. Once they leave on their quest, this is likely to change drastically.

Session Ten: Open Secrets

This session was run on a Saturday afternoon, with all three players present. We started with an informal recap before play, conducted an IC recap in play, and then paused for about 30 minutes to sort out some confusion over place and faction names so that everyone was on the same page. Once that page was open to everyone, things went much more smoothly. In their discussions, I felt that they really began making the information their own and applying the inner logic of this fictional world to it in a realistic manner – a few lapses notwithstanding. 

The session opened with the Wakefield and Turged leaving the beatifically drunk Vontil at the Inn, to return and check on Gorwyn to see how his surgery had gone…

Session Recap:

  • Their observations of activity around the small village and the pathway back to the temple complex confirmed the feeling that this part of the endless day had been set as ‘night’. Although some work was still being conducted in the fields, far fewer workers were visible, and patrols by the guards were still beginning to swell.
  • They found the floor of the temple reserved for the healing arts quiet and minimally staffed. Gorwyn was sequestered in a private area far from the stairs, but was awake and discussing his condition with an acolyte. The young woman was revealing that black shards from the brittle claws of the wraiths they had angered had broken off deep in his flesh and had been poisoning his spirit. If left unattended, they would have exposed him to the risk of possession. When Gorwyn inquired about having them as a souvenir, he was primly informed that they had been destroyed. “Such potent sources of evil expose people to temptation and power that they cannot control.” Neatly stitched up, given a mild analgesic, and bolstered by a soothing balm rubbed deep into the ruined skin of his thighs, Gorwyn was given a discharge.
  • The group then informed Gorwyn of what he’d missed – mainly the death of the Aliran high priest just hours before, and their discovery that an Ambassador of Aelroth had absconded with maps which might have made locating the temple sites easier. With the Alirans on their mind, they made their way to the baracks, just a few floors below, to see how the two surviving winged priests were recovering in the darkness of the windowless room. When they arrived, they found it well-guarded, but lacking in any medical staff or care-takers. The guards, obviously veterans of real fighting, let them in without problem. It seems everyone knows who they are and what they represent now. The Alirans were sleeping peacefully, but Turged decided to wake one anyway. Each was lying on his back, iridescent wings folded about torso and upper legs. Questioning him was a slow process as his memory of the events leading up to his illness was very foggy, and his awareness of his current condition was no better. As they clued him in, he was very upset to learn of the death of his high priest. So upset was he that he begged them to take the two of them someplace safe, claiming that this was conclusive proof that someone was killing all the high priests. As he is next in line for that position should his mentor truly be dead, and as he is in no condition to defend himself – he weakly requested their protection.
  • Not sure if the Aliran priest was delirious or sincere, the group left Gorwyn to continue the conversation while Wakefield sought out the Fidran ambassadors who had been sequestered with the Patriarch for most of the day, and Turged went to speak with his nation’s High Priest. With the temple serving both as a center of government and as a focal point for all known religions, the nature of how things work was quickly revealing its barbs and threats in the weird details like how the caravan was awkwardly met so close to the temple, then briefed with great care and expertise, or how a series of suspicious deaths or murders would not be mentioned to the potentially most important visitors to the site in literal thousands of years.
  • Turged wasted no time, and with Myn to speed his passage through the back ways of the temple, made his way to the mid-level floor assigned to the Plenthans. So high up in the building that it was likely to be discomfiting to the subsurface-dwellers, Turged found there to be no windows, and a great deal of natural stone present to minimize the problem.  Guards, armed with weapons at the ready, and armored with plate, nodded for him to pass, but denied Myn access to the floor. Direct as always, once with the priest, Turged got straight to the point and learned that the Aliran’s story was perhaps true. None of the deaths had been linked to murder, but the growing number was definitely making things look suspicious. The first death, the Fidran high priest, was reported to have been as a result of an honor duel with his successor. That worthy was said to have committed suicide not too long after the Plenthan high priest was found to have passed away in his sleep. Each death on its own – particular those of the two Fidrans – was innocuous enough, but taken with the dramatic death of the Aliran, was indeed too much to overlook. Given the war-footing the temple was finding it needed to reach given all that they had been learning since the day the sun stopped in the sky some five weeks ago, it was past time for these questions to be asked, and more precautions taken.
  • While Turged was grilling his ostensible superior – a man he suddenly realized had been holding the position of high priest since only days before the caravan arrived at the temple – Wakefield and the acolyte assigned to them requested an audience with the Fidran ambassadors. Unlike the other contingents at the temple, there was seemingly no separation of church and state among them, so the quarters of the priests were likewise the quarters of the ambassadors. As he and the acolyte entered, they found themselves in the midst of an emotional argument which had escalated to the point of brandishing furniture and throwing plates of half-eaten food. Two men, obviously brothers, were arguing in a foreign language and came to an awkward stop as Wakefield interjected. Unlike Turged, he played the ignorant newcomer card, and got himself invited to the quickly righted table to share in wine and huge portions of mouth-watering berry medley. Being an obvious sailor and missing the sea can have advantages. To be good hosts and ease his homesickness, the two Fidrans revealed a central chamber which creates the sights, smells, and sounds of a sea-coast and continued their discussion with Wakefield within view of it. In a round-about and artless way, the sailor directed their drunken conversation where it needed to go – proposing an expedition to verify the loss of Helon’s Hold. This is turns out was precisely what the brothers had been arguing about. One wanted to maintain focus on their twin goals of convincing the Patriarch to call for war against Aelroth and settling the Fidran survivors, while the other wanted to send a fleet to the Hold. Drunk as he was it was unclear if he wanted to begin rescue or salvage operations, or just verify that it was truly gone. When Wakefield joined in on his side, however, the two brothers ceased arguing and became a unified front that soon gave the sailor little room but to retreat try to figure out what was going on. Before he could do so, he was notified that the group was being summoned to the chambers of the Patriarch.
  • By this time it was very late and, had the sun been free to travel would have set long ago. By Wakefield’s estimation it would be about 2Am – but it was hard to be sure. The group was assembled at the top of the temple and then ushered in for their private audience. They found the room to be large for one person, but small in comparison with the other apartments they had visited. It was occupied mainly by a large wooden desk and a central meeting area. A private chamber was off in one corner away from the entrance. After inquiring about their health and their intentions, he offered them one more thing to consider. Confirming the librarian’s story about the stolen maps, and agreeing with them that the deaths of so many priests was suspicious he informed them that Chaos was in motion and the call to act against it was growing ever more urgent. Using the blessings of his calling, the Patriarch revealed that he had seen signs of a huge army massing near the base of the mountains several weeks journey away, staging as though to make a push into the uncharted steppes of the nomads beyond. Likewise, a small army of nomads was pushing down out of their plateaus and ranges to meet them. What he was unsure of was if it was to meet them in battle or in an alliance. His candor and willingness to discuss their theories fully and with as much detail as he could encouraged them to enter into a full on discussion with him about their plans and ideas.
  • Gorwyn proposed that the four sentient races seemed to be in some way mirrored by the four elemental Stones and that if true, this suggested that the enemy had already seized the Stone of Air and the Stone of Water – using them to wreak havoc among the Alirans and Fidrans respectively. If the Plenthans were in some way represented by the Stone of Earth, then the human kingdoms were surely represented by Fire…. the question was would the feisty nomadic warriors of the steppes, or the aggressive expansionists of Aelroth be most likely to have descended from those who were given the task of safe-guarding it. With their personal knowledge that the Keystone, Stasis, had been stolen, and with the evidence of its power hanging over their heads both day and night, this leaves two more stones to track down: Death, and Form. Who would have been responsible for safe-guarding them… and where? The sands of the Desert of Screams had all but obliterated whatever civilization had sworn to protect the Keystone, who could say what forgotten places might house the other lost Stones? Which should they seek first, and where should they seek it? The Patriarch, old, learned, and experienced as he is, had little to offer them in the way of answers. Like them, he matched the events of the past few weeks to the loss of additional Stones. Like them, he believed that the Stone of Form to be of supreme importance in their battle plan, for to lose it would mean losing the means of keeping Chaos bound to fleshly servants of consistent shape. Unlike them, he had a preference for action, but he did his best to offer it as an impartial suggestion. Whatever his personal feelings, he offered to back their quest fully, just so long as they act and act soon.
  • The Patriarch offered them the secret of a subsurface sea which according to him stretched so far as to reach under the roots of the mountain chain which shapes and defines the Desert. Using it for passage would enable them to travel to the Shamans of the nomadic tribes in search of a lost temple and its hidden Stone, or at least glean whatever knowledge they might have. Moreover, it would give them the chance to entreat the nomads to demonstrate their loyalty to the forces of Law. Without their armies, the fragmented armies of the Human kingdoms and duchies – even with their Plenthan allies – would be ill-prepared to withstand the army forming for Chaos in the Desert. He further offered all the information he could about the missing information lost with the ancient maps stolen by the Aelran ambassador. While he was not able to offer them the secrets of the annotations the Librarian claimed were on them, he is able to share the fact that the nomads have a rite of passage where they must travel far into the unknown lands beyond the mountains and seek out a nameless tower. Those who would be warriors must make the journey and return. Those who would be spiritual leaders, must go further, perhaps even venture within the tower. According to his readings, this journey grows further every season. Each band of nomads seeking to earn their adulthood has further to go and further to return. What this represents in reality he cannot say, but he does offer disturbing reports, collected by Ystral and his company, that the nomads who undertake the Rite have been coming back crazed, and that there is now a rising tide of Chaos worship among the horse people of the steppes. Ystral reported privately to the Patriarch that one such rider was among the guides of the caravan, a warrior named Allym. After the cataclysm which froze the sun and signaled the release of Chaos to act upon the Firmament again, Allym revealed himself as a proponent of the enemy. His subsequent actions caused Ystral to kill him.
  • The meeting stretched on for more than an hour before it was finally interrupted by the return of scouts sent to confirm and expand the details of the Patriarch’s remote vision of the Chaos army. He had attempted a similar viewing of Helon’s Hold when it was reported lost, but has yet been unable to see more than the grey waves of the sea. Fearing the work of Chaos seeking to blind him to its movements, he sent scouts to both locations. The reports from the desert were disturbing. The army was growing slowly both by warped human tribes streaming to the place from their bolt holes and hollows, but more horribly by creatures – no two alike – pressing their way through a rip in the air to swell the distorted ranks of the army in steady numbers.
  • Attention once again turned to the Chosen Ones. What would they choose to do? Would they seek out Helon’s Hold and try to locate the lost treasures of its mighty libraries? Would they ride back to Aelrath and the High Temple where it suddenly occurred to them due to the presence of all 4 elements in its surround terrain, that the Stone of Form might lay? Would they journey beneath the surface to cross the Sunken Sea in search of answers to the loyalty of the nomads and their mysterious tower? Was there something else…?
  • Leaving the Patriarch to his other pressing duties the group returned to their apartments and decided to make a decision. The time had come to act. Perhaps spurred by the confluence of their natures, or because of the speed of travel it promised, the group chose to take the Patriarch’s offer of a ship to cross the Sunken Sea in search of the mysterious Tower and its influence over the Nomads. Buoyed by having chosen, they set forth to outfit their expedition and assess their new crew…
Session Eleven:

The eleventh session recap will detail events leading up to their departure from the Temple of Ascension and the new perils faced along the way~

 

Stay tuned~

Weekly Recaps

Comments
2 Responses to “Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 10 Recap”
  1. Pete says:

    I quite liked the way we were each conducting conversations of different people in different areas, it limited our ability to OOC and we could each work out how to approach each situation individually. It felt a little like a TV show cutting between different perspectives. Then we were able to bring it all back to the Patriarch to combine the knowledge and work out what to do next.

    • Runeslinger says:

      I’m glad to hear it. I enjoyed getting to see each character operating on their own as well. Not having a real social operator in the group has made this time spent at the Temple very interesting and challenging for me to present. In a way, I’ll be sorry to see you leave it.

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