Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 21 Recap

This post, hopefully one of two on this 5th anniversary of the Casting Shadows blog, continues the exploration and implementation of RuneQuest 6th Edition in a collaboratively-developed sword and sorcery campaign setting. This session dealt with finding a way out of the underground temple, surviving the harsh mountain environment, and making the hard decision to seek help from the fanatical sect of Plenthans who in ages past, removed themselves from their society to found Pumoth Deep far from all known cultures and settled lands.

Check the list of links below for recaps of the previous sessions complete with system detail and analysis, as well as other related articles on RuneQuest 6 and this campaign. Less-detailed video recaps are also available on my YouTube Channel.

Session 21 involved many changes of scene and introduced quite a few new characters. Compared to the last few sessions, it covered more ground both in terms of distance and in terms of resolving outstanding questions – all while resulting in more questions and more distance yet to travel. While much was accomplished, much remains.

Gorwyn’s player is still in the midst of his lengthy absence, but the rest of the group got on well with each other and the expanding roster of NPC characters.

Problems  & Solutions:

We had no mechanical issues this week, other than brief a moment with connectivity issues brought on by the arrival of the ‘wet season’ in Darwin. The rain was loud enough at times to evoke a real sense of the imaginary waterfall in the first moments of the cavern scene~

Thoughts on Running the Game:

This session was mostly conversation, which was good. The remainder was mostly exposition, which is the price you sometimes pay for entering totally new communities, cultures, and terrain all at once. We opened with negotiation, segued into exploration, transitioned into planning, stepped into action, and from there, encountered reams of exposition. Given the characters involved and the roleplaying choices the players made, this potentially dry section was brought to life and allowed to flow smoothly from scene to scene. Interestingly enough, it brought about the birth of a new Passion in Duke Vonge, so that will be something to watch out for in the future.

Session Twenty-one: Unexpected Allies

This session was run on a Saturday afternoon, with two players present. It was a varied session with a lot of interaction with the environment and new characters. 

The Session

The session began right where we left off in the previous session, with a short recap to re-orient the players in the dimly-phosphorescent chamber, deep under the mountain. With most of the group injured, and all but Vonge needing rest and recuperation, play began with dealing with the Reptilian prisoners and setting camp.

Session Recap:

  • The Duke took the stone from the plinth and noted a corresponding decrease in its internal glow. Certain he not could swim back to the others with it in his hands, he asked Turged to toss him a pack and a rope so that they could ease his return across the calm waters of the deep pool. Tan and Gorwyn stood guard over the prisoners, but they offered no resistance. Once everyone had had a chance to examine the stone and recognize it for what it was, there was a moment of silence. Turged was most affected, wondering how it was that they had found this place, and the original temple, without looking for it. No one took him up on that question. Had a priest been present, perhaps that would have been different, but right now there was work to be done. Tan elected to stay on watch while Turged got some much needed rest. The Plenthan was swaying on his feet, and needed time to sleep. Gorwyn likewise stated he wanted the opportunity to step off into the darkness to meditate and rest. Although not as charged with mystical energy as the temple, this cavern was still touched by its strong whorls and eddies. Vonge, packing the stone away, found himself completely refreshed and ready to travel. He theorized it may have been the waters of the pool which had restored his vitality, and persuaded Tan to follow suit. Tan noted the vigor of his long-time friend, and so removed his own bloodied armor and clothes and cleaned off the filth of battle and travel in the pool. When he emerged, he did not feel restored, as Vonge had reported, but he did feel better for being clean. They debated putting the stone back on the plinth to see if that mattered, but Turged urged them to rest instead. With Gorwyn and Tan standing guard while Turged stepped away to meditate, Vonge opted to explore the rest of the chamber.
  • As he made his way around the cavern, Vonge noted that with the exception of the rear wall which was still glistening wet from the upward flowing waterfall which had filled it before he’d taken the stone, the whole room was smooth-walled, with a curving ceiling and walls over a slightly curved floor. Even at the back, along the base of the walls were rocks and boulders piled into seats and odd shapes. The path around the pool was kept clear of stones, rocks, and obstructions. Everything was lit with the spectral green glow of the fungus, which when touched or brushed, glowed brighter. At the rear of the cavern near the base of the waterfall, Vonge found the travel packs of the Reptilians, six of a plain, heavy fabric, and one of a thick tooled leather. The plain packs contained travel rations consisting mainly of live grubs and wet vegetation and fungus, rolls of tough fabric, and simple tools for hunting and climbing. The quality pack contained scrolls in heavy leather cases, spare clothes, and better rations.  Vonge paused his exploration at this point and brought the packs back to Tan and Gorwyn. They briefly went through the items, and offered the two Reptilian captives some food which was gratefully accepted. The mountain lord then returned to his survey of the chamber. He located a large entrance, with a collapsed stone archway and crumbled stone debris denoting its age, which after a short run of smooth stone-faced passage, continued on as a natural tunnel. This was roughly across from the elevated passage that they had followed into the chamber. He proceeded around the pool to the narrowest point of its oval shape and found only tumbled rocks and darkness. Finishing his loop of the pool brought him back to his companions and their captives. Something would have to be done about the captives, but at the moment, rest was far more important. Still feeling fully refreshed, Vonge relieved Gorwyn and Tan, and took over guard duty. As a part of their rest, Turged and Gorwyn took several hours to reflect and meditate in this potent place.  The two mystics of differing traditions found that their inner reflections and meditations were very much colored by this location, and perhaps by the mysterious object that they had found within it [Magic Point Recovery; RQ6 page 174+].
  • With the darkness, even lit as it was by the soft green glow of the mossy growth covering the walls in patches, came a deeper rest than had been had in weeks. As the others slept, Vonge had little to do but contemplate the events which had brought him here, and the strange stone they had encountered. Turged was convinced it was one of the keys which had kept Chaos in check since the dawn times, and here it was, just sitting. That what Turged and Gorwyn felt about the stone was true was hard to dispute. One only had to look upward at the crystal dome of the sky to know that things were not right. The effect of the Frozen Sun on the land, on crops, on sleep was not diminishing with time, rather it was worsening. It even felt like fewer of the Aliran cloud cities drifted by overhead. How the leaders of the nations of the Firmament could be ignoring these events and these effects made no sense unless the political maneuvering and plotting seen in microcosm at the High Temple were being played out on a larger scale by those in the service of Chaos. Aelroth would be a definite contender for such duplicity and self-service. Hours passed, and thoughts of the mountain lords and their squabbles with each other and their fear of Aelroth took over most concerns. At the core of these worries was, as always, the resource of fresh water. Vonge found his mind slowly filling, as a cup in rain, with ideas of how to better manage, purify, store, and discover fresh water in the mountains of his homeland. In time, he believed he could do much to end the fractiousness and privation their high, rocky homes led to. He found himself clutching the stone tightly, and vowing to protect it. Vowing to take it with him to his home, and find a way to put it to use. [forming a new Passion, RQ6, p36]
  • As the others began to rouse themselves, clean up, and eat, Vonge kept a close watch on the prisoners. Once everyone was ready, they settled down to discuss what exactly to do with them. No one had the stomach to simply execute them, particularly when they had been so well-behaved as prisoners. They decided to offer them a choice: guide them quickly and quietly out of this place in exchange for their freedom and all their gear, or be left down here with nothing. The answer was not immediately confusing, “Go with You,” but soon would be. To further establish a bond of trust Turged dressed their wounds and even attempted a minor Healing [Folk Magic] on them. Once freed, they reorganized their gear and waited for the group to get ready. With little more delay, they headed out of the cavern via the large exit on this level. The Reptilians pointed out small stone bowls stacked to the side of the entrance and gestured for the group to fill the bowls with the glowing moss. Once done, they found the illumination to be much brighter. The finished section of the passage contained more fungal art, but none had been maintained in ages. The lines and images were unclear, but repeated imagery of the Chariot of the Sun, of the dark spaces under the surface of the Firmament filled with ‘people,’ and a tower inspired a lot of speculation – especially if the tower depicted were the Tower of the Dawn. As the conversational capabilities of the Reptilians in Plenthan were insufficient to discuss symbolism, the group pressed on. Once they left the finished section of the passage the tunnel continued on with a greater degree of randomness in width, height, and direction. There were offshoots from time to time, but the Reptilians seemed confident about finding their way. As that way seemed to be continually moving upward overall, the group offered no complaints. After a fairly lengthy run in one passage, it split into two equally wide tunnels. The Reptilians were emphatic about which one to choose, and the group was inclined to believe them, but a quick investigation by Gorwyn of the other tunnel soon revealed the distant sounds of drums. No one had trouble choosing the passage which avoided those. The insistence of the Reptilians to avoid that passage went a long way toward confirming their integrity, and conversation was opened again which dragged on until they reached the surface quite a while later. They found the way out was marked with a similarly old, but not yet crumbled stone arch, hidden behind a screen of natural shrubbery. After a few minutes, they were able to get their bearings and realize that they had passed through the heart of the mountain and come out on its sunward face, about 45 degrees from where they had entered it. The Frozen Sun hung midway up the sky and glared down on them coldly from between two soaring granite peaks. While their eyes were slowly adjusting back to the white light, the Reptilians were shielding their large eyes with their thick forearms. When the group tried to release the Reptilians, the two refused to leave them. “Go with You” was all that was said. It was not a question. Covering their trail as best they could, the group moved away from the entrance and took shelter in the shade of a crevice to discuss what would happen next.
  •  Facing facts, the group did not have enough rations or strength to cross the Screaming Desert in a months long journey back to the High Temple. The tricks and denizens of the desert were too varied and inimical to travellers to even consider it, let alone the time it would waste. However, pressing on through unknown terrain toward the Temple of the Dawn seemed like a high-sounding name for suicide. With everyone injured, some gravely, now was not the time to chase after bands of potentially enmitous nomads through rough terrain now known to be the territory of aggressive giant lizards. While that seemed like surrender in a way, and the group deliberated long and hard, the truth of it was that they could accomplish nothing if they were dead. Accepting the realities of their current situation, Turged brought up the possibility of seeking aid from a fanatical sect of Plenthans who had in ages past come to these mountains and founded a Deep where they could serve Plenth without distraction or contamination from misguided fellows. Turged was convinced that a heretic like himself would be in grave danger in making contact with these people, but he felt that no matter what their views on him, their views on Chaos were clear, and for that reason alone they might aid the group… if not him. This was not an easy decision, but Turged faced it bravely. Once made, it became a matter of logistics: Could they find the Deep? Did they have the means to sustain themselves in the many days it would take to reach where Turged thought it was based on the many maps of the mountains he had seen at the High Temple? Did they have the means to defend themselves from the local wildlife? With the alternative being dying from thirst and eventual starvation in these rocks if they went nowhere, the group chose a course through the rocky landscape and headed for the Deep. It was not long before the skill of Duke Vonge in mountain survival, and the Reptilians for recognizing local trouble, showed itself. For the first time, the pressure of survival lifted a bit.
  • The first day of travel was mostly uneventful. The area around the mountain they had descended into and escaped from, apart from the giant lizards which the Reptilians seemed to have a method for repelling, was devoid of large predators and much plant-life, beneficial or otherwise. They had a goodly supply of water, and the mountain lords were confident that they could find more. The second day was not so uneventful, bringing with it strong winds, dust, and the dreadful sight of a massive winged creature high overhead – draconic in nature, but not a dragon. Such a thing could only be a servant of Chaos. They took cover and waited, but it did not return for them. The next day of travel, they were gladdened to encounter a patrol of 10 Plenthan warriors which somewhat reluctantly, but stoically, gave up their assigned duty to escort the group to Pumoth Deep. The first camp was uncomfortable to say the least. Gorwyn commented wryly that they made Turged look like gregarious. “The famous Plenthan taciturn nature!” Unbothered by the young man’s observations, the Plenthans went about the business of preparing to rest and eat. They seemed to operate in pairs, and while one member of the pair simply rested, the other aided in setting up camp and preparing a simple meal. Turged and Vonge managed to warm their reception slightly by offering some of their supplies, but for the most part there was little conversation. Eventually, the commander of the squad enquired, “What are you doing here?” Turged’s general answers about the Tower and the Frozen Sun satisfied him and he rolled up in his cloak and went to sleep. The group knew that it would have to talk about the stone sooner or later, but now did not seem like the time. The 2nd in command came to them some time later and did not seem bothered by the presence of their Reptilian escorts. “We have been waging war with them for some time now,” was the response. “We have seen this change of loyalties before. We find we can trust it.” No further explanation was forthcoming, but the man did check the bandages of the wounded, and tended to the injured. He claimed no knowledge of any warnings coming from any of the other Deeps despite Turged’s claims to have sent written warnings, but after more questions from Turged, he mentioned that the war with the Reptilians had begun at a time that Turged calculated would be equivalent to the freezing of the sun in the sky… the day the Chaos Dragon’s chains were loosed enough that it could reach out from its prison of millennia and renew its war on the Firmament.
  • The Plenthan squad roused themselves a few hours later without comment or complaint and the member of the pair who had not set up camp was tasked with taking it down. The group then gathered in an informal circle and began to worship. They prayed and meditated for what seemed to be an hour and when they were done, the commander noted that Turged had been meditating along with them, and had almost seemed to be following along with their prayers. “Do you speak with the Firmament?” he asked, and made a nearly familiar hand gesture. “No,” answered Turged. “Then we will carry you,” was the response. The Plenthan warriors paired up with Turged, Gorwyn, Vonge, and Tan, ignoring the Reptilians. Each politely asked their charge to drape their arms across their broad shoulders and walk with them as a trio, in sync. Once they agreed, the group mediated briefly again and began to move lightly across the rocky terrain far faster than the newcomers believed to be possible. They did not seem to stumble, falter, hesitate about where to step or leap, not did they seem to grow weary [Mysticism, Campaign Specific Talent: Flow; allows the Mystic to follow the natural contours of a path, free from obstacle or delay (similar to Folk Magic: Pathway but can be augmented to increase narrative movement rate) so long as that path is a ley line; Enhanced Attribute: Fatigue]. Lagging far behind them, their Reptilian followers through themselves into leaping and bounding pursuit with abandon, scarcely able to keep up [Reptilian Folk Magic: Mobility, Pathway, and Vigour invoked in an animistic cultural analog to align with the spirit of the great Dragon from whom they believe their life springs, RQ6 p192].
  • They travelled this way for a ‘full day’ and then rested as they had the night before. Each camping period they divided the labors as before, checked the wounded, and asked a few polite questions. The commander spoke more with Turged about the group, and the second in command sought out Vonge to bolster the man’s spirits with a tale of their god’s qualities. He spun a tale of Plenth (whom the humans know as Ael, the god of war in their understanding of the Firmament’s pantheon) having been wounded through both calves with spears and being unable to divide and conquer his enemies. He spoke of the god ramming the spears deeper through the muscle of his legs so that he could use the spear heads in his mighty kicks, decapitating his foes. He finished the tale with, “…and if you believe that nonsense, you are not as smart as you look.” Everyone slept deeply, and there were signs that the Reptilians were exhausted, but they did not complain, merely ate their fill and drank a lot of water before crashing into a deep slumber.
  • The next day was a mirror of the first, except the commander of the squad spoke the prayers very slowly and ensured Turged could see what he was doing. Again at the end, they spoke and Turged as asked if he could speak with the Firmament. This time he answered, “Yes.” Time was taken to show him how the secrets he had already learned of Plenthan mysticism would lead him to understand the method of travel the squad was using. Turged was shocked that what he was learning was considered a valuable and essential part of warrior training in Pumoth and was so deeply rooted in the religion which in his home Deep had branded him heretic and outcast. The commander did not speak ill of Maroth and Granoth Deeps, but his disdain for their ways was evident nonetheless. They travelled just as fast and just as far as they had the day before, and when they made camp they learned that they would reach the Deep the next day. It had been much closer than they had thought, and they had travelled much faster than they had ever thought possible on foot. Their Reptilian escorts had lagged even farther behind this time, but again caught up without complaint; ate, drank, and collapsed. Duke Vonge and Turged noted their desperate fatigue and dehydration, exacerbated by such constant exposure to the light of the sun, and grew more concerned. This time, the second in command took notice of their injuries and exhaustion, and provided them with more nourishing food, but something else needed to be done. Speaking tactfully, the situation was brought to the Plenthan commander’s attention. He took the matter very seriously, went and immediately apologized to the Reptilians, and included them the following day.
  • The next day did see them arrive at a carefully shaped killing zone before a grim set of towering metal doors sunk deep in the dark granite of the sheer face of a mountain. They were granted entrance, and representatives from among the priests, the warriors, and the elders were called to the Grand Cathedral to hear their tale. Their Reptilian followers were treated as any other member of their group. Turged spoke with Vonge, whose possessive attachment to the stone was evident; and with Gorwyn, whose ardor for the quest to reclaim all the stones now defined him, and told them that in these circumstances he would need to tell the whole truth. They agreed, but Vonge had some reservations. The Grand Cathedral lived up to its name, being a massive geode deep in the mountain of deep blue crystal. The crystals were carved into pews and aisles, and glorious art praising the virtues Plenth expected in his people – virtues they still believed they had not attained – was etched into smooth surfaces wherever the eye paused to rest for a moment. The light was indirect, but reflections took the eye and mind regardless.  At the urging of the priests, Turged told the entire tale from his exile, through the pilgrimage and what happened the day the sun froze in the sky, he told of their discoveries in the hidden temple, of the Reptilians in the High Temple and the political struggles there. He reiterated that he had written to the Deeps to warn them of all of these events and to prepare, and was again told that no messages had reached Pumoth – and should have in such dire need. That was a problem the warriors of Pumoth would deal with. The story done, the warriors, the elders, and the priests conferred and gave their thanks to the group before requesting to see the stone. Upon seeing it, they agreed that there was little else it could be, and agreed what must be done about it.
  • The group was still driven to act, but the Plenthans helped them stick to the reason they had displayed in seeking the Deep. Healing and rest they must have, as well as time to speak of legends and the forgotten with the elders. Teams would be sent out into the world from Pumoth Deep, teams to support the Quest for the Tower of the Dawn, teams to seek the other stones, teams to support the High Temple, and teams to raid the underground holdings of the Reptilians for intelligence. They are far from the center of the world, but in the thoughts of the Priests, one does not fence in a prisoner from the inside. As all of this was being organized, Turged was taken into intense training with a squad of warriors, Gorwyn was taken into isolation, Duke Vonge, and Lord Tan were taken into the quiet spaces of the Cathedral where an elderly priestess and her acolytes began the arduous and painful process of healing their injuries – physical and spiritual [Theism,  Heal Body, Rejuvenate, Soul Sight; RQ6, p271,4].
Session Twenty-two:

The twenty-second session recap will deal with the launching of new Quests from Pumoth Deep~

Stay tuned~

Session Recaps

Comments
6 Responses to “Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 21 Recap”
  1. Kyrei says:

    Damn, sounds like a fun session. Sorry my thespian activities have gotten in the way of participation. A few more weeks, and I am eager to get back into Gorwyn’s skin.

  2. Carl S says:

    You should just start a novel. You’d have a trilogy by now!

    • Runeslinger says:

      Funny how all these games we play and the stories that come from them never seem like novels when they start, but in hindsight they reveal tremendous depths in the players~

  3. Murderbunny says:

    These are fun to read. I’m glad to see one follow so soon on the heels of the previous recap.

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