Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 18 Recap

This post continues the exploration and implementation of RuneQuest 6th Edition in a sword and sorcery campaign setting. This session focused on exploring an ancient, and seemingly endless, Reptilian complex beneath the mountains. The Reptilian people were possibly watching them, but why?

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 18 was spent below ground in what the characters now realize is a holy site, charged with mystical energies, and claimed by the mysterious Reptilian race they have recently learned about. It might, however, be something even more than that.

Problems  & Solutions:

We had no gameplay, connectivity, or hardware issues for this session. Our only point of discussion after play about the gameplay itself was that due to our time away and the short durations of the sessions since our return, we have grown somewhat slow in implementing each action. We know what to do, but hesitate or question if our memories of less common skills and abilities are accurate. A quick refresher on each character and the things that they can do is in order.

Thoughts on Running the Game:

This session was mostly IC interaction during healing and preparation for the next leg of the journey, and then during exploration of a single, large and unnerving space. This was followed up by a brutal fight with a creature of Chaos which closed out the session. We have not dealt with a Chaos-tainted or Chaos-fueled creature or servitor since the first few sessions, so it seemed dangerous and it was. Two characters sustained Serious Wounds, and for the first time the group entered into combat against a Sorceror – albeit one who had other things on his mind. By the end, the characters were forced to reckon with the fact that their journey to the Tower had just begun, but their resources and manpower were already sorely depleted. They have the means to replenish those resources, but will they? Will they take the risks in time and freedom of action that that might entail? Sessions like this, that are challenging on more than one level, are what I look for in a campaign. I can’t wait to see what the group will decide to do.

One thing I created for this session was a different take on the Sorcery Spell, Damage Resistance. I wanted to try something in the same vein, but with a different effect on the flow of combat. What I tried was that once cast, this spell (Damage Reflection) would give the Sorcerer melee protection equal to his casting roll, if he elects to spend an AP on defense. (Size L, possible SE: disarm, accidental injury, or damage weapon).

Session Eighteen: Light and Darkness

This session was run on a Saturday afternoon, with both players present. It was a well-focused session with good humor but minimal OoC banter, and solid coordination between the players.

We are looking for a third player who can join us for this leg of the campaign, and then transition with us into running Mythic Britain. We play on Saturday afternoons from 2pm to 6pm (GMT+9).

The Session

The session began right where we left off in the previous session, again with just a brief recap.

We resumed in the seemingly endless expanse of this underground chamber of finely-crafted stone blocks, with nothing but the floor, the towering spiral staircase, the limp body of the giant lizard, and the wide, chilling canal of racing water to catch the weak and flickering light of their torch…

Session Recap:

  • As the Duke, Vonge, and his vassal, Lord Tan obVonge (a cultural trait of the mountain lords is to derive their surnames from their liege’s name), cut some meat from the lizard to replace their used supplies, they remarked at its visible signs of age compared to the one they had fought earlier in the day – “…if it even is the same day…”. It’s flanks and snout bore many signs of scars and healing, and its colors in the dim light appeared to be faded in comparison. Barely paying attention to the talk, Gorwyn double-checked that his attempts at Healing had taken hold (Folk Magic in the guise of good medicinal practice, Heal, RQ6, p191) for Turged and Vonge. Still shivering, he resumed his circuit of the area, looking for signs of anything. Eventually, the group packed up and headed upstream, far enough away from its chill breeze to not risk further loss of warmth, to search for traces of…anything resembling anything. The farther they walked the greater their credulity was stretched, even the surface dwellers, that such a room could ever exist without pillars or other means of support. Eventually, so incredulous did they become that the illusion, for such it was, was dispelled (Phantom [Sense], RQ6, p247 – Note: this spell combined the senses of Sight, Touch, Magic, and Sound, and was cleverly constructed to have the group walking in tight circles, essentially going nowhere, never in risk of interacting painfully with their environment. The illusion dampened the sense of Sound and Magic to mimic a vast, echoless expanse of dead air, important to no one, and distorted the sense of Touch to have them circle around the same spot. As their tenacity held fast, and the caster’s concentration waned, the spell became harder and harder to maintain in the face of its impossible nature.) Freed of the illusion, the passing of which was like the thin film of a bubble breaking against their faces, the group found themselves just a few steps away from a stone wall like the ones upstairs, and a stone archway from which the frigid water poured into the canal. Realizing the illusory nature of much that had happened, Gorwyn examined his feelings, and recognized that it was not so much that he had not sensed anything living in the room with them, he had not sensed *anything* living in the room – including them. His own magical senses had been dampened. Taking this as a sign, he centered himself and tried to raise his mystic Awareness again (Mysticism, Awareness, RQ6 p226), this time paying careful attention to the ebb and flow of energies that some call magic. With his senses unblocked he came to realize that this place was much like the sacred retreat he had been trained in, a space more focused than other parts of the firmament. A place in harmony with itself and the order of the universe, and thus, a space wherein a mind and body could order themselves. (Magical Location, Ley line nexus, RQ6 page 173)
  • The group appreciated the discovery, but tired and worn as they were, (Fatigue level, Winded to Tired, RQ6, p120) decided it was best to keep moving, to keep looking for another way out, or any sign of the lizard’s rider. It was not long before they found what they were looking for. Heading off along the wall to their left, they began to think that the room was a large square, bisected by the 10m wide canal, and 100m on a side with the huge spiral staircase in the center of this side of the square. This sort of engineering began to put them in mind of the temple they had found in the Desert of Screams a few months ago, but the inner stone work was too alien – it didn’t seem right. Unlike the upper hallway, the walls here did not have any sort of art, or fungal murals. However, they did discover a wall panel which bore deep etchings of pictographs and symbols covering a wall panel 3m high and 3m wide. Each character was distinctly placed equidistant from its neighbors, and there was no visual sense of reading direction. There were no recognizable symbols although some were clearly of recognizable things, such as a prostrated humanoid that suggested a reptilian form, and a vase or vessel for liquid, and so on. After a close examination, they continued on their way. Not too far from that spot, they found another panel with pictographs, but on the floor in front of it were a spilled ink bottle, a wooden writing tool, and a new piece of parchment – all curled up. A thin trail of ink spots suggested the edge of a foot had gotten in the spilled ink, and Gorwyn and the mountain lords followed them while Turged inspected their find. He noted that the parchment had been used to record two lines of symbols from the wall, and took the time to note which lines those were, some from midway down the wall. He could make nothing of the wall itself, and so began to use his ability to see in darkness to scout around in widening concentric circles from that point. In time he turned up an empty cloth bag, and nothing else.
  • Gorwyn, Duke Vonge, and Lord Tan made their way resolutely on the ink trail, but it quickly began to fade as the ink was rubbed off on the floor, disappearing altogether several meters before they found the corner of the room. Inspecting that corner, they noted eventually that the careful mortar seen everywhere else in the complex was missing where the corner slabs joined with their respective walls. After some fiddling, they deduced the trigger mechanism and reversed the corner slabs on a central pole and revealed two passages with rough hewn walls heading off in diverging directions. Tracks coming and going were visible in each passage, and it was not obvious to either lord (Track, RQ p75, fail) which one had been used, or if either had been used recently. The Duke resolutely refused to commit to an opinion on either tunnel, so Gorwyn decided to continue the circuit of the room in case these tunnels were just some of many. He had, after all, come to this place via a confusing and secret route, now nowhere to be seen. Lord Tan objected, “Should we not tell Turged what we have found?” Gorwyn agreed, somewhat sheepishly. so they headed back. Turged caught sight of the dimming torch as he was searching around the area where he had found the bag, and closed with them. The group returned to the corner passage and inspected it briefly, but decided to abandon the idea of making their way around the whole room. With Turged in the lead, they headed out toward the staircase. Gorwyn’s sense of magical emanations (Awareness, RQ6 p226) began to draw his attention to rising waves of magic. Knowing there was nothing behind them, they decided to split into two groups to charge at a full run around the staircase in both directions, heading toward the far wall. The distance was farther than they had judged it to be, and as they ran and clattered through the darkness, they began to hear a sibilant and brutish chanting. The Duke went with Turged, holding onto the Plenthan’s shoulder and trying to trust the warrior would not lead him wrong. Tan ran with Gorwyn in the dying torchlight. As they ran around the immense stone staircase, they at first saw nothing between them and the looming blackness in which the opposite wall must be until they began to see glints of the torch in reflected back at them from the stone, and the chanting stopped with a powerful shout of command. The fabric of the air ripped apart and a long, irregular gash, bleeding with deep purple light, tore itself into existence to slowly disgorge a foul creature obeying no Law.
  • Appearing almost black in the brilliance of the purple light, the creature wrenched itself free of the gash, as the group became aware first of the sorcerer’s leaping shadow on the wall, then the seated Reptilian sorcerer itself in the distance behind the portal. The chaos creature was thick and bubbling with semi-shapelessness. Its head was an oblong horror with an off-center eye, and a spray of smaller orbs down one side. Tentacles sprang out aggressively under one side of its jaw, while gnarled ram’s horns tore their way from its brow down the length of its back, forming a sort of barbed shell. One arm was heavy with muscle, short, and curled. The other was formed much like a human’s but long and rippling. One leg was hinged at the knee as a human’s would be, but the other was twice its length and given to many joints in opposition so that the leg folded strangely and extended uncomfortably far. Its skin was perhaps purple, while its eyes blazed with an orange light. Around the figure, a nimbus of coruscating purple and black light danced and flickered as though as eager to crush and rend as the creature itself. [Willpower or Passion checks]
  • The sorcerer sat with hands slowly sinking back to its lap, eyes closed tight. In the purple light of the summoning, the group could see that it sat on a large scroll, with its back to the wall. It was wrapped in the same bandages the two assassins they had caught in the High Temple wore. It’s face bore no recognizable emotion, but its posture suggested discipline. The creature wheeled on the Reptile and the group’s collective heart rose as it drove its clublike hand at the sorcerer’s head. It sank again when the creature’s brutal attack was deflected by a dim flash of light. Screaming in rage and stamping its foot the creature saw the group scattered behind it in the darkness through a spray of tiny eyes crawling across the back of its neck. It bellowed again and then lumbered toward them. It’s intentions were obvious, but the group never wavered… although the did pause to ready themselves for the being’s attack. Gorwyn hurled the torch at the seated sorcerer and prepared himself to meet the rush of the creature [Augment Skill: Unarmed Combat Style, Mysticism, RQ6 p225] . The torch passed over the Reptile’s head and exploded in sparks against the wall. The light from the gash in the air, cast everything in harsh relief, and sent huge shadows leaping everywhere as the combatants closed on each other. Tan loosened his axes on his belt, and scattered off to get a good line of sight to the sorcerer, realizing that the longer they waited here, the further the battle would be fought from their Reptilian opponent. Gorwyn, now charged with every last spark of inner light [Magic Points, Mysticism, RQ6, p221]  rushed in with a flying kick at the creature. Turged and the Duke pounded on at a faster pace, trying to close their greater distance to the struggle before their friends were downed [Movement, RQ6, p105, Moving in Armor, p106, Engagment p149]. Turged dragged his blade free of its scabbard and was rewarded with the dull red glow it had inexplicable exhibited during their pilgrimage when he faced off against the wraiths of dead priests in the ruins of a once-proud Plenthan city.
  • The fight was short, but ugly. Gorwyn hit the creature’s left leg with crippling force, but as he tried to scamble out of range to launch another attack, he was impaled through the bicep by a bone and sinew spear the creature grew from its humanlike arm. Rather than fling the mystic around like a skewered fish, the creature ripped the spear back out again, pulling flesh from bone, and costing the young fighter the use of his left arm [Impale, RQ6, p146]. While impaled, Gorwyn was outlined in the same nimbus as the creature [Chaos Effect – currently undisclosed]. As this was playing out, Tan hurled an axe at the sorcerer, but missed, the weapon was deflected by that same flare of light as before, and clattered off into the shadows. Gorwyn charged in again, his teeth clenched against the pain, and was joined by the Duke, sweating with exertion in the coolness of this strange room.
  •  The creature lashed out at Gorwyn with his heavy, shorter arm, and it formed itself into a bony mass to bludgeon him as it did so. He tried to deflect it (Unarmed Combat Style treats his attacks and defenses as Size M, matching this creature’s weapons), but found himself hit and scrambling again, thankful that this time the monster’s blow had had its force distributed across his armour (Armour, RQ6, p85). Tan hurled another axe at the sorcerer, in the firm belief that this horror would end if they could interrupt him or hurt him enough. This time, the flare of light was insufficient to deflect the weapon and the axe slammed into the side of the Reptilian head, knocking the sorcerer more firmly up against the wall and cracking its ridged skull. The axe rolled on across the sorcerer’s brow and impacted against the stone of the wall, sparking as it bounced back and hit the floor. As the lithe body rocked forward in reaction, the sorcerer’s eyes opened with a flash of brilliance in the ethereal light and locked on the handsome mountain lord’s. The wound pulled itself inside out, vanishing from the reptilian head and reappearing in a gout of blood on Tan’s. Staggering, the lord cried out in shock and pain, bringing one hand up to touch the shattered bones in the side of his head, wondering what had happened. [Transfer Wound, RQ6, p255, Endurance roll failed] Horrified, his allies pressed their attacks all the harder. Turged continued his mad rush to reach the sorcerer dragging his sword high over head, it’s red glow casting shadows of rage across his noble face.
  • Working together, one before and one behind, they infuriated it so much that it did not know where to turn next. Gorwyn hit it in the face with a sharp blow [Hit location, head], and then, dodged out of the way of its return attack. Screaming in rage it pivoted on its shorter leg and stabbed at the Duke, striking him hard, but failing to pierce his armour. Like Gorwyn before him, the Duke too was enveloped in the creature’s aura briefly [Chaos effect, undisclosed]. Tired, facing formidable difficulties due to that fatigue, and still injured from the battle with the lizard, the Duke closed and attacked furiously with his axe. [Critical – SE Choose Location, head, Bypass Armour] The side of the creature’s head was sheared open, and with the blow, it burst apart into plasm which evaporated before hitting the floor. In the same moment, Turged finally reached striking range with the still-seated sorcerer and slammed his blade down at its head, only to see the blade turned aside with that dim flare of light. The Reptilian opened its eyes and looked at him, but there was nothing it could do but raise its arms. Gorwyn staggered away from the collapsing gash in the flesh of the air, while Duke Vonge and Lord Tan dropped to their knees in agony and exhaustion. Not slowing down, Turged whipped his blade around and [Attack fail, Luck for re-roll, Critical, Parry fail] slammed it down into the sorcerer’s head, shearing through the magical defense and through the ridged head as well [Choose location, head, maximize damage] right down to the clavicle. The body toppled sideways off the broad, seemingly blank, scroll it was sitting on and lay still.

A brief interlude…

With the sorcerer dead, Turged walked over to his companions in agony in the darkness and asked them if they were all right. In a moment of OoC humor, Lorne, Gorwyn’s player replied, “The Duke Abides. How about you?”

Not missing a beat, Peter, Turged’s player responded, “It was tough… that scroll really brought the room together.”

There was much rejoicing.

  • As Gorwyn and Tan were in need of serious attention. Both had suffered Serious Wounds [reduced in HP in that location below 0 but not by double the original value; Wounds, RQ6 p162] and although they had managed to keep in the fight [Opposed Endurance roll vs the Attack’s value],Gorwyn had lost the use of his arm [Endurance, fail]. Tan had managed to retain consciousness [Pass] but was suffering from the pain [Difficulty increase to all actions for a Serious Wound to the head]. Following Gorwyn’s lead [Augment Skill, RQ6 p76] Turged set about First Aid, stabilizing the wounds of his companions, cleaning them, and bandaging them. Not willing to use their last torch just yet, the Plenthan stripped the sorcerer of his bandages and soaked them in their small amount of lamp oil to create a short-lived light source. He noted in this process the worn nature of the inner thighs of the sorcerer’s garments and deduced that this then was the lizard’s rider. He must have had a way to get that beast down here. What, and more importantly, where, was it? As he worked on Tan, the Duke strode over to the corpse in the dying light of burning clothes and hacked the split head and neck off the body. He took one half of the head to the canal and dropped it in. “You cannot be too safe with sorcerers,” he said when he returned. No one said anything about it.
  • Among the sorcerer’s effects they found more writing tools, and a full scroll like the one that had been abandoned. It neatly contained the glyphs from the top of the wall panel down to the part where the other scroll began. No annotation or notes were appended. They found some vials of food which at first appeared to be jam, but then in the last of the light were revealed to be some sort of insects and grubs in a yellowish jelly or discharge. Appetites were lost.
  • Injured, and needing weeks of rest and care, not caring nearly enough supplies for such a delay, and uncertain when more Reptilians might arrive, or perhaps exploratory forces of nomads drawn here by the same curiosity which had drawn them, the group was faced with another dilemma. No one even had the strength to look questioningly at another person. In the darkness, silence asked the question for them.
Session Nineteen:

The nineteenth session recap will deal with the characters’ decision regarding their wounds and their present circumstances. Will they stay and benefit from the mystical energies of the complex, seek another source of respite out among the dry mountain peaks, or…?

Stay tuned~

Weekly Recaps

3 Responses to “Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 18 Recap”
  1. Kyrei says:

    Hehehehe, that was a fun session. “Do do dooo, lookin’ out my backdoor!”

  2. Murderbunny says:

    Hmmm…. could I game from 1AM Saturdays to 5AM….? At least my daughter would be asleep and unlikely to interrupt….

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