Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 12 Recap

This post continues the exploration and implementation of RuneQuest 6th Edition in a sword and sorcery campaign setting. This was the second attempt at this session as the last was sabotaged by both a sudden change in schedules and trouble with an ISP. In the weeks which have passed since Session 11, we have met online and in e-mail to discuss how we are going to implement running the campaign with a troupe of characters, and have begun to roll up those characters.

Due to a semi-permanent schedule change, the player of Gorwyn, has had to temporarily absent himself from the game, but efforts are being made to keep the character involved by other means – ideally with a member or two from the original group running new characters as his new travelling companions.

Check the list of links below for the recaps of the previous sessions, and other related articles on this campaign. Less-detailed video recaps are also available on my YouTube Channel.

 

Session 12 was focused on breaking the miasma of indecision which they had begun to feel was holding them back. With Gorwyn nowhere to be found, but a commitment to a clear plan of action in mind, Wakefield and Turged met once more with the Patriarch, and so took the first real steps on the path to battling Chaos.

 

Problems  & Solutions:

Although this Hangout was affected by a few dropped connections for one player, we had few technical difficulties. The Bones app is still returning results out of order in the sequence of results and occasionally hangs, but generally works. This continued the focus on nearly pure roleplay among allies and each other, so no game mechanics needed to be invoked until the end of the session. No new game mechanics were used, and so once again, there are no problems or solutions to report.

 

Thoughts on Running the Game:

I enjoy the challenges of combat when a game can make them interesting, and I enjoy the depth that inter-party conversation imparts to a game. I have been getting the best of both worlds since our campaign entered this phase.

Since the characters have had a time of rest and reflection after the perils of the Desert of Screams, they have had a real opportunity to grow and establish themselves as individuals. This has given them reason for pause, and reason for bravery in combat far beyond the casual disregard of violence found in many games. Part of this is the style and depth of combat in RuneQuest, but it is the interplay of character, connection to character, and fear of loss which gives that depth its life. A character cannot be truly brave when it has nothing to fear, and cannot be truly cruel or merciful when abstraction rules.

Session Twelve: Death from Above

This session was run on a Saturday afternoon, with two players present. We started with an in-character recap before play, then confirmed the results of that with some brief discussion of the major details which may have gotten confused in the long gaps since the group last played. This segued back into IC interaction by picking up a thread of conversation with Ystral in the Order of the Horizon compound. 

 

Session Recap:

  • Myn waited outside the Order’s Officers’ tower while Turged and Wakefield, unable to find any trace of Gorwyn, asked Ystral to make good on his promise to aid them. He agreed readily, but made sure they knew they must speak with the Patriarch before they leave. It was decided that while the pair made their way to an impromptu audience with the most powerful religious leader of any faith, Ystral would summon three of the black birds, their riders, and a scout. Together, the birds would take the six of them in pursuit of the disgraced Aelran ambassador and his stolen maps. Unless the man had fallen prey to something in the desert or the mountain trails back to the human territories, he should be no further than the other side of the massive central range by now. They could catch him with a little effort, and a little luck. The six of them would be taking on an entourage of 12 guards, felt to be show-pieces and fops by the mercs of the Order, and a few servants. The ambassador himself was described as being a corpulent snob, good for little more than talking. The plan seemed good on its surface, especially in the warmth and security of the compound.
  • The Patriarch was more than happy to see the pair and hastily cleared his chamber of sycophants and administrators when Myn announced their request. His enthusiasm soon waned, however, when he realized that they were forsaking his plan of a quest across the Sunken Sea in favor of something which might lead to open war with an already hostile ally, at a time when the combined might of the churches must focus their attentions elsewhere. Working together to plead their case, the pair managed not to upset or offend the ancient priest, but could not convince him that what they were doing was right. To him it seemed like they were seeking another reason to delay, to seek out more information that could be learned more readily by swift action in the face of Chaos. In deference to their calling, however, he held his anger in check and let them go. [Influence bolstered by Wakefield’s Passion to Resist Chaos and Turged’s stoic support vs the Patriarch’s Influence] Without blessing or other aid, he dismissed them, and hastily called a new war council to alter his plans to launch his ships.
  • When the pair returned to the compound, three of the huge black birds were being readied for travel. With a wide saddle and bedroll on their backs, they could seat two. Their clever, glistening eyes reflected everything they looked at, and as the wind ruffled their feathers they had an air of anticipation about them, as if straining to be on their way. With a quick tutorial to show the ‘Chosen Ones’ how the hooks and ties worked, how to secure their cold weather clothing, and what to expect of take off and landing, the small squadron of hunter-killers was off. Each Order member was outfitted in boiled leather over thick padding, and draped in a long hooded coat, with straps to bind its thick protection to each leg. A scarf covered most of their faces. The reason for this soon became apparent as the great height to which they ascended with gut-wrenching speed was colder than either of them had ever been. So far from the Firmament, the crystal dome of the sky seemed like you could reach out and caress it, but the cold was that of death and the howling winds of the highest peaks. With the frozen sun behind them, they made their way above the glittering desert below, leaving the dwindling green jewel of the Temple’s cultured lands ever farther behind.
  • Hours and hours later, in a timeless time of wing beats and wind, a Rider turned to Wakefield and yelled out a question asking him if he wanted to descend to confirm the ambassador had taken the most likely trail. Ystral’s recent searches for Merk had spotted the caravan heading for the Adherents’ Pass, and so it was for this challenging route they had set their course. Wakefield signalled in the affirmative, ice caked in his eyebrows and streaming backward from their along a trail of windblown tears. The flight of immense ravens descended to the trail, and with another question asking permission, the man – a scout by training – signalled to another with similar unit insignia and they began to inspect the trail for signs. They returned within the hour with news that they had chosen wisely. “There are impressions deep enough to be his enclosed wagon with the right number of footmen, and food trash of such quantity it can be none other than the Aelran Ambassador. Luck is on our side. He has been delayed by the weather or some other problem and cannot yet have left the foothills.” Fatigued by the hardship of the cold and the distance, the group chose to rest, eat, and discuss what they would do.
  • “If we attack openly, no witnesses can be left,” Ystral reminded them. “The aerial capabilities of the Order are something we do not wish people to remember, or believe.” When questioned by Turged about the border barons and dukes of the mountains, the man continued grimly, “They may see us, but this is the natural habitat of these birds. We can pray they do not look too closely, or care to investigate.” Discussion turned to a revision of the initial plan. All pretense of subtlety, diplomacy, or threat was discarded in favor of a quick and complete attack, to be made to look like brigands once the deed was done. The evidence was damning from their perspective. The Aelran Ambassador was so at odds with the Patriarch he had been sent home, and as he left, he stole ancient relics right from the most holy of temples in all the known lands. This was not an act of an ally, or just man. It was an act of betrayal in the face of impending war. The pair got no argument from Ystral.
  • The trio would fly in close formation, attack with javelins while they descended swiftly, drop the passengers – Wakefield, Turged, and one of the scouts – while Ystral prepared to support them with his sorcery. The other two would rise to herd the guards into a killing zone, and attack from the air. Wakefield was to make his way into the ambassador’s wagon and obtain the maps. Turged was to protect him. The Order would handle the other guards.
  • Their descent from the upper reaches of the Pass, known to be the territory of the Firmament’s most brutal environmental conditions, coupled with being in the ranges of some of its most vicious large predators, was swift and uneventful. Turged caught a momentary glimpse of a grim castle wall rising defiantly from the sheer face of a cliff before they dropped through the grey clouds and the spectacle was gone. They dropped without sound or mercy right into the camp. Two wagons stood about 20 feet part with a large waterproofed tarpaulin stretched from the high enclosed top of one, to the fabric shrouded top of the other. A makeshift table was set up in between with what looked like half the guard complement eating beneath it. The icy wind of the upper reaches was a cold, heavy rain here below, and the men were out of their armor and looking miserable. The sodden plain stretching away ahead of them, and the cold stone of the mountains behind them gave them no relief as the mist from the rain hitting warm earth wreathed their tired legs. Ystral’s feathered mount dropped low for its passenger to jump on the far side of the camp without landing, then rose up again tearing the tarpaulin from its lashings. Ugly words flowed forth from Ystral as he relied on the hooks and tethers of the saddle to keep him in place as his mount took him aloft. Wakefield and Turged’s mounts hit the ground on the mountain side after their riders hurled javelins at the shocked targets milling beneath them in confusion [Flying charge through contact: Ranged attack at 20m; 1D8+1 base damage + allowed 1D4 damage modifier vs no evasion for 1 special effect: impale, both guards suffer a difficulty upgrade to formidable on all actions until they can remove the javelins]. Two down and screaming, and panic rising for the moment, most of the guards lose precious seconds they could have used to organize themselves [Morale: Willpower for Leader: fail]. As Wakefield and Turged quickly dismounted, their mounts took again to the sky. Wakefield approached the camp at a run from rear of the Ambassador’s wagon, while Turged, sword and shield in hand, approached it from the rear of the other wagon. The giant birds would circle and make another pass for their riders to cast javelins before the men would join the fray.

Focus on Wakefield

  • (In the session, we cut between all the participants every Round but that makes for difficult reading) As Wakefield, daggers drawn, dodged around a guard trying to draw his weapon, he hit the hard wooden door at the rear of the ambassador’s enclosed wagon with all of his weight. As he’d neared, he’d heard a wooden rattling from within as of someone trying to bar the door. His entry knocked the slender servant back, dropping the heavy wooden board he’d been trying to fit in place. Seeing Wakefield’s intentions, the man tried to find somewhere to take cover, but it was no use. Wasting no time, Wakefield buried his dagger in the man’s chest deeply (Evade: fumble, dagger 1D4+1 damage – 1D2 for Wakefield’s damage modifier + two special effects: bleed, impale, RQ6 page 145/6). In shock at the brutality of the sudden attack, the man tried only to crawl backward, passing out (Underling, RQ6, page 164) as the ‘sailor’ ripped the dagger back out again. Inside the wagon, the use of space was as impressive as what one sees aboard ship, with every available space converted to cupboards which can serve dual duty as something else. At the other end of the space, across a table which would likely fold down into a large bed, sat a bejewelled and heavily oiled man in lavish clothes. Rings adorned every finger, chains were about his neck and wrists, and his long hair and full beard were oiled and perfumed. His pasty, quivering flesh was as sure a guide to his fear as his rolling eyes and raised and pleading hands. His voice, however, was a theatrical tenor, which seemed to incense Wakefield. As the man pleaded that Wakefield should just take everything and go, the former sailor crawled up on the table and slashed the man across the face. “I will take everything… when you tell me where you’ve got it all hidden!”
  • Batting at Wakefield as he began cutting at him with the dagger, the man soon gave up his pleas, and his voice shifted into an unintelligible mix of wails and whispers. Pressing his attack, Wakefield slit his throat before he could say too much more. As he grabbed the man’s wrist to finish the killing cut, he felt the sick discharge of power, as though a spell had been just about to make its way into being, but failed. (No defense, 2 Special Effects: Choose Location, Impale). Covered in the corpulent ambassador’s jetting blood, Wakefield began to systematically toss the room, looking for the maps, but hoping there would be something else to make all this worth it, too. Dumping the table and the corpse of the ambassador to the side, he found the map case he was looking for in a compartment in the seat. The case was wide, and awkward to carry, as he’d expected to be, and it was sealed with a thick wax ward, bearing strange sigils. He didn’t worry. At the temple, someone would know how to take care of it. Also in the compartment were official scrolls and sheaves of parchment. He dumped them in a pillow case and turned to leave. In a cabinet near the door he spotted the strongbox. Acting on reflex he took that as well, staggering out the still-open door into the cold rain and mist.

Focus on Turged

  • As Turged stepped toward the camp, two guards came rushing at him with swords drawn. Younger, fitter than the rest, they confirmed what he had been worried about… the foppish ambassador had dressed his guard in finery to please himself, but the men in the unit were as hard as nails. The bias of the mercs in the Order had blinded them to the truth of their opposition. Another was moving to intercept Wakefield. With a sigh, Turged raised his shield to ward his left side (left arm, chest, abdomen) and prepared to meet the rush. As the men closed, Wakefield dodged around him, trusting in his support, and burst into the wagon. The first javelin fell, piercing the guard through the right leg and punching on into the dirt (impale, and a special ruling for ‘Entangle,’ RQ6, page 146). The other two more kept closing on Turged, but with more caution, scanning the skies as well as the area around the Plenthan. The second javelin fell, but too late and too close. As Turged stepped into engagement with the first guard, the javelin slammed into his shield (fumble, no impale). The guard attacked but swung wide, almost leaving himself unable to parry Turged’s heavy cut at his leg in time (parry: medium weapon to medium weapon, no damage). The second guard hesitated, then tried to circle around to Turged’s right side. He cut quickly at Turged, and was met with a solid parry (End Cycle 1). Keeping the tempo, Turged launched a follow-up at the same guard, who barely held onto his weapon due to the rain and the ferocity of the attack. His own reply was disastrous as he lost his grip on his weapon altogether (fumble: drop weapon). Turged’s shield absorbed a weak, poorly ranged hit from the guard on his left, and as the man on the right stepped away to run or recover his lost weapon, Turged moved in on the threat (End Cycle 2; End Round 1). Another strong cut to the man’s right leg was parried, just in the nick of time, but Turged felt like he had the man’s number now. The guard, eyes wide and starting to breathe harder, lunged, and Turged beat the blade aside easily. (End Cycle 3). Seeing no sign of Wakefield, Turged passed him, and turned in time to parry another fruitless attack, seeing the man’s sword twist in his slick hand (fail vs success: Special Effect: Disarm) and go flying. As the man’s face registered what was about to happen, the sounds of men yelling transformed to harsh and sudden choking. (End Cycle 4; End Round 2). Looking around themselves, Turged and the two guards, one just standing there and the other on hands and knees in the mist and mud to recover his weapon saw the remainder of the guards, clawing at their throats as the Ystral’s cruel spell began to exert its effect. [Sorcery: Smother: “Deny the Breath of Life”, RQ6 p253: 7MP to increase Range to 1m x POW, and Targets to 7]

    GM Note: This version of the spell draws existing smoke to the target and chokes them with it until they pass out. If the target resists, damage will cease at this point. If they do not, they will suffer further wounds or outright death according to their status as full on opponents, as underlings, or as rabble.

  • Smoke from their fire, and mist from the ground forced its way in compressed streamers into the guards mouths and noses, forcing the air out. In agony, they began to drop to the ground. Seeing this, the two guards, both beginning to gag, turned and ran toward the rising road and the mountain pass beyond. Without hesitation, Turged turned to follow. Less-winded, stronger, and hardier, he caught up to them easily and cut them down. One fell to a quick cut above the knee (Serious Wound) while the other toppled over screaming at an overhand slash to his shoulder (Major Wound). Standing over them, Turged remembered the price Ystral demanded for this, and stabbed both men through the heart. “Mercy Killers,” he said, eyes on the tableau in the middle of camp as men slowly choked to death.

Return to Group Focus

  • Wakefield burst from the wagon as Turged, cleaning his blade, approached its door. The sailor’s quick note of victory was cut short as he took in the scene in the camp. All three birds were on the ground and Ystral’s three men were dragging the disarmed, unconscious bodies into a hastily arranged circle about their captain. Unsure of what the men were doing, it seemed obvious to Wakefield and Turged, that the men were being sacrificed as power began to visibly arc from the fallen guards to Ystral. (Order of the Horizon Ritual Sacrifice: specific form required – fallen enemy, returns 2D6 MP + 1 D6 per 2 additional sacrifices up to the caster’s normal limit. Excess points bleed off visibly, or can theoretically be devoted to the caster’s deity). When the short ritual was complete, the group set about covering their tracks to make it appear to have been a bandit raid. A crossbow was recovered from the supply wagon and bolts loosed in random directions. Javelins were recovered, and arrows placed in their stead, and shot into the wagons. The guards and other victims were placed in pyre and like the wagons, were burned. Grim faced for grim work, the Order mercs did not talk or jest. When they were ready, the assisted Turged and Wakefield to mount the birds, and they departed without comment. The return flight, into harsh glare of the frozen sun, took much longer, and each man had reason to be chilled through and through.
  • As they neared the High Temple, Ystral ordered the flight to pass a little closer to the area being overrun by the building Chaos Army. The Chosen were able to catch the harsh glittering reflections of the portal’s coruscating energy across the diamond sands of the desert, and just make out its jagged and unstable edges as dark things clawed their way through and onto the Firmament once more. Again, without comment, the men turned the birds toward home.
  • After getting settled, and the flight removed itself from the compound, Ystral asked them what they were going to do. Still stained with blood, and clutching the unwieldy map box, Wakefield did not answer at first. Smashing open the lock on the strong box and looking at the coins inside, he finally stated flatly, “Get a drink.”
  • Ystral left them to their own devices and retired, exhausted, to his chambers. The two cleaned themselves up then sent Myn to find the Librarian. They would return the map to him, and then take the man back to that Derren-style inn for breaded cheese, and more brown ale than was wise. Revelations could come tomorrow.
Session Thirteen:

The Thirteenth session recap will ostensibly appear next week, and may see one of the new characters, an Aliran Priestess of the Sun, make her debut.

 

Stay tuned~

Weekly Recaps

Comments
7 Responses to “Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 12 Recap”
  1. Kyrei says:

    So sorry I couldn’t join in the fun this last week. Sounds like it was a great time. Hopefully my Saturdays will free up soon and I can get back in!

    • Runeslinger says:

      It was interesting to see them in motion again. After weeks of talking, the level of violence was somewhat surprising. It felt like the start of a war.

  2. middleagedm says:

    had you thought about what the outcome might have been if they failed or critically failed the influence opposed check against the Patriarch?

    • Runeslinger says:

      Until just moments before the scene, I had no idea what they would decide to do, so I did not run through the scene’s possibilities in my mind beforehand. I did consider that they might choose a course of action which would worry or upset the Patriarch, and I also considered the possibility that they would sneak away to carry out a short mission of some kind without speaking with him first. That meant the possibility of an “uncomfortable meeting” scene that might have to be resolved mechanically.

      Because both Turged and Wakefield are noticeably less sociable than their players, I decided to use the mechanic of an opposed Influence roll vs the Patriarch. I had to consider whether it should be simply a contested roll, or be taken to the degree of being a social conflict. Due to the implacable nature of both of characters, the high level of Passion driving Wakefield, the “rank” of the “Chosen Ones,” and the demands of time burdening the Patriarch, I went for a contested roll rather than a long debate. Had Gorwyn been present, I would have made the opposite decision. I opted for a Differential Roll rather than a straight opposed roll, to reflect the possibilities of swaying the other.

      That is where I left my imaginings, until the actual game. When the pair made their decision to hit the Ambassador, and truthfully informed the Patriarch of their decision, I set the scene with them in terms of what they wanted to say, and how they might say it, then we rolled their dice. They roleplayed their social shortcomings well, and we had a good time with it. We then went over the Patriarch’s response, which I rolled for, then presented as an upset surrender to their wishes. The roll results were both Failures, which I interpreted as neither side swaying the other, nor offending the other. Disappointment was definitely in the mix, however. As we were setting up the scene I was considering the possible outcomes based on the persona of the Patriarch, but I didn’t get to all of them before we were in the midst of resolving them. I decided on what crit vs fumble would be (legitimate persuasion) then had to actually resolve the scene.

      How I would frame my ideas after the fact:
      PC Fumble vs NPC crit: They are swayed to do what he wants (Sunken Sea Quest)
      PC Failure vs NPC success: They have doubts, and are given time to think
      PC Success vs NPC failure: The Patriarch has doubts and asks for time to think
      PC Crit vs NPC fumble: The Patriarch is swayed to give his Blessing

      For ties:
      PC crit vs NPC crit: A harmonized plan is to be devised (Patriarch supports Tower Quest)
      PC success vs NPC success: Both sides have doubts
      PC failure vs NPC failure: Agree to Disagree, some hard feelings
      PC fumble vs NPC fumble: Tempers flare, relationship is damaged

      Others:
      Adjust levels of doubt and persuasion by smaller gradients for other results.

      It was important for me to not turn this into a scene where it was possible for the NPC to dictate what mission they would undertake, so the strongest Differential would just have them leave his presence persuaded to reconsider, and feeling strong social pressure. Likewise, I wanted to portray the Patriarch as used to getting his own way, but strongly motivated to be ecumenical and open-minded.

      Sorry for the long reply~

  3. I’ve tried the skype/hangout/facetime game sessions and I don’t think I’ve ever had one go off without some kind of issue.

    • Runeslinger says:

      Most or perhaps all of our issues have been ISP-related, but there has been one for at least half the sessions of this campaign. This weekend past saw 2 people with hardware problems, but the game went well anyway.

      Interestingly, my Ubiquity campaign went off flawlessly, and it covered 3 time zones a world apart, not a measly 1.

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