Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 22 Recap

This post, hopefully as a surprise to no one, continues the exploration and implementation of RuneQuest 6th Edition in a collaboratively-developed sword and sorcery campaign. This session dealt with launching the quest anew, bolstered by the support of the Plenthan ‘fanatics’ of Pumoth Deep. I am a session behind in recaps at the moment, and session 23 should appear soon as it has already been completed. We estimate that there are perhaps two more sessions left in this leg of the campaign. Once done, it will be put on hiatus so that we can enjoy Mythic Britain.

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 22 saw us explore parts of the culture and layout of Pumoth Deep, heal wounds, regroup and refit, and head back out to seek the Tower of the Dawn. Gorwyn’s player was still in the midst of his leave of absence to tread the boards, but the other players and the now immense NPC cast were present and accounted for.

Problems  & Solutions:

We had no mechanical issues this week; everything worked as it was supposed to. This session was almost entirely roleplay, and nothing new with the system was attempted other than careful application of Theism by experienced Plenthan priestesses in the background of events, so there are no problems to report their, either.

I can foresee some minor problems in the last few sessions of this leg of the campaign, however, and I am taking steps now to address them. These relate to the ease of running 8 NPCs and keeping them useful, differentiated, and present from scene to scene.

Thoughts on Running the Game:

This session was almost entirely conversation, which this group seems to enjoy as much as more dangerous pursuits. There was still a lot of exposition, but this time it felt driven by player investigation of the framework built in the preceding session rather than by purely narrative needs to establish scenes. It was great to see the details planted the week before being remembered and used by the players to good effect.

In this session, it made sense for the travellers to be joined by members of the Deep. For two of the three, plus their Reptilian allies, to make the journey across harsh terrain without guides or warriors to replace their fallen companions was untenable. The end result of this is an expansion of the band by 6 additional characters. Over the course of the campaign there have been 4 PCs on this quest, and varying numbers of NPCs, but never so many as 10 characters in the actual questing group in any given scene. Those days are over.

Thanks to the nature of percentile-based games, and thanks to aspects of RuneQuest 6 – namely Passions and Combat Styles – this will be less daunting than it might otherwise be, but I am concerned about giving each NPC character their own voice, and having it be heard appropriately as events arise and play out. To make matters more challenging, the group is in one sense of things in pursuit of one or more parties of nomads seeking to carry out their rites of passage into adulthood. In the next session, I could have well over twenty people in a scene, all talking at once. I am not concerned with these potential scenes because they involve large groups, but because they involve large groups which I need to convey through the medium of a Hangout. Many of the non-verbal cues I would normally employ to add sense and agency for the players cannot be brought to bear through my webcam, so I have to develop new ones. It will be interesting to see how they work~

Session Twenty-two: A Call to Arms

This session was run on a Saturday afternoon, with two players present. It was a roleplaying session with a lot of interaction with the and new characters and culture encountered in Pumoth Deep, on the very edge of the Firmament’s explored territories. 

The Session

The session began right where we left off in the previous session, with a short recap to re-establish that Vonge and Tan were in painful recovery at the hands of the medically-minded among the Plenthan religious leaders, Gorwyn was in seclusion undergoing similar treatment but with considerably more screaming, and Turged was being inducted into the deeper mysteries of his suddenly non-heretical brotherhood.

Session Recap:

  • The Duke spent time speaking to the priestess and her acolytes between healing sessions (referred to as torture sessions due to the length of time which had passed since the injury, which resulted in judicious application of chirurgical technique and screaming in order to heal it). This proved very valuable later on when volunteers began to present themselves to join the quest, and when dealing with the council of elders in regard to the Stone, and the Tower. Tan’s treatment was far more severe, painful, and dangerous, so the two men took the time to say their farewells in case he did not survive. Even though the Tan pulled through the worst stages of the healing ministrations, Vonge recognized that his old friend would not be able to continue the journey to the Tower. More importantly, he recognized that he wanted one of his group to live to make the journey home. One childhood friend had already fallen; he did not want to risk losing his last. To ease the shock and disappointment of his request, Vonge compelled Tan for the sake of their long friendship (Passion: Love; RQ6, p420) to honor his request to carry news of the quest back to their mountain homeland and prepare the people for war. Tan came to understand the serious nature of his wound, and how even the ministrations of the healers of the Order of Aveth at the Crystal Temple in Pumoth Deep, were insufficient to restore him to health in time [Healing from Injury, RQ6 p.121]. The two parted, and did not see each other again while the quest was prepared and subsequently departed.
  • Returning to the chambers reserved for patients, Vonge found Turnan, someone he knew was an acolyte healer, waiting for him. He had spoken with her once or twice during the worst ordeals of his healing, and knew her to be someone who has been under the tutelage of Agan,  an elderly woman of brusque but friendly attitude who serves in Pumoth Deep as the Priestess of Aveth. While most who have been healed by Agan love her like a mother, those in the process of being healed by her view her more like a torturer. Turnan was clearly starting to walk in those footsteps, but now as she stood there in her worn armour, was just as obviously a warrior who served the Deep regularly on patrol. According to rumors and the sounds of pain echoing all through the healers’ quarters, battle was common. Worried she had come to treat his injuries in some painful way again, he was surprised and relieved to learn that she had been sent to help him organize the petitions from various squads of warriors seeking to join them on their journey to the Tower. She let him know that every squad was needed in the defense of the Deep, but the Elders had granted one squad its freedom to assist them. She had wanted to come to him on her own initiative to speak for the squad she serves in, but before she had been able to do so privately, had been called formally to the task of introducing all the squads which had volunteered. She has been named to this duty by Kolad, the High Priest of the Crystal Cathedral. She tried to hide her disappointment, but was not successful. Vonge recognized right away that she was hoping to promote her squad over the others, but was being constrained not to. His inquiries as to why soon led to an understanding of the situation of the Deep, and in what conditions these Plenthans lived. Unlike Maroth Deep, the oldest and the one nearest Vonge’s mountain homeland, or Granoth Deep from which Turged had been exiled, Pumoth Deep was not solely engaged in fighting the mindless forces of chaos which bubble up from the depths below the Firmament. It was also engaged in a full-scale war with the Reptilians, striking from their nests and warrens along the dark, underground coasts of the slowly growing Sunless Sea. Although there had been a rough peace for generations, the leaders and priests among the lizards had sparked off the war not long before the sun was frozen in the sky. The temperatures underground inexplicably began to drop. Fogs and mists began to fill the unsafe open spaces beneath the surface. As the war escalated from minor skirmishes through patrol and border clashes,  and ultimately to a siege depriving Pumoth Deep of its water supply, the routine rise of chaotic creatures from the depths grew in both intensity and frequency. The latter reached a ferocious pace with the freezing of the sun, and has not let up. Every few hours sees breaches from below violating once-protected havens in the Deep, allowing creatures large and small close to those unable to fend for themselves. The warriors had been at the breaking point for weeks, with elders returning to arms, and those too young to fight being trained in support roles. Suddenly, almost a week ago, the Reptilians fell back and went into hiding; leaving their forward positions and abandoning their secretive villages. The tides of the Sunless Sea had ceased, and with them, the natural warmth of the underground returned. No one had known the reason why until Turged’s tale revealed their recovery of the Stone of Water. With the air cleared of any hidden motivations or reservations, Vonge went with the warrior-healer to find Turged, then to meet off-duty representatives of the other squads.
  • Turged had been run ragged with training and elevation in his brotherhood of warrior-monks. When not training mentally, spiritually, or physically, he was questioned by the ranking priests of the pantheon in Pumoth – typically Kolad, whose great joy was to speak for Plenth. Kolad asked to hear the details of the temple beneath the sands over and over again, asking for tiny details of its construction. He would compare these to what Turged told him of the second temple they had found, holding the Stone of Water. His questions reawakened a thought in Turged about those temples, but he decided to keep it to himself. During this time, he had learned much the same information about the pressures the Deep had been under, and the situations leading up to their arrival, that Vonge had. He had also learned that the teachings which the priests were shocked to learn were now branded as heresy in the other two Deeps, were once considered the gifts of Plenth, and signs that his chosen people were at long last following his will for them. That they had been cast aside did not, for their kind, bode well. In addition to gaining a deeper understanding of the philosophy behind his previous training, Turged also came to understand Plenth’s gift of moving with the Flow of the Divine Force across the land [campaign-specific Mysticism Talent], as it was presented to him as an extension of his ability to cling to rock surfaces despite his orientation in space [Mysticism, Adhesion, RQ6 p.226]. As he was sorely tired, and in need of rest, Turnan arranged to have them meet the volunteers in the Deep’s extensive heated baths. Once situated in the warm and soothing waters, Vonge asked Turnan to explain the nature of her own squad before they met any of the others. She was happy to do so, and intimated that as the commander of her squad was inexperienced, she felt that they were being assigned duties which did not make use of their talents and training. She hoped aiding in the success of this quest could rectify this. Her focus on that point caused some concern among the two listeners, but some truth began to ring out when she described her squad. Its new leader was a young man named Kered, a warrior-monk like Turged, and very attuned to the Divine Force. He was untested as a leader but had earned much renown among his peers as a warrior, even having been responsible for defeating immense chaos creatures with limited resources at his disposal. His right-hand was Gejan, a warrior-sapper with a fatalistic outlook, but a good head for strategy born of a desire to end conflict before it starts. Next, she described two brothers, different but very capable in their own areas. Donad was their scout. He is confident, hard-working, and clever. He does not, however, see much reason to withhold criticism. His older brother, Denad, is one of the few warrior-priests of his age. Although only in his 40s, he is long past the time where traditionally, he should have retired his weapons and turned his attention to serving the Deep from the Cathedral. He has refused that duty again and again for his preferred duty of fighting on the front lines with his fellow warriors. Last, Turnan described herself as a warrior turned healer, who has been called to turn her own attention to Aveth, but like Denad, feels the time has come to be focused on the pain and suffering out among the people of the Firmament. She knows war is coming, and she wants to fend it off, not wait for it to come and crush her. Hearing these descriptions, and feeling a bond with Turnan’s attitude, Vonge and Turged decided to reward her initiative and loyalty with selecting her squad to accompany them to seek the Tower.
  • Their first duty was to report to Kolad for blessing of their quest and a discussion of the fate of the Stone. It was hard for Vonge to surrender, and his mind was still full of visions of using the Stone to end the water deficiencies of his war-torn region, but in the end he saw the sense of it. Resolutely, Duke Vonge entrusted the Stone to their care, but in his heart vowed to return to retrieve it. No one could really comprehend the reasons behind why the Stone had been abandoned when the group had chanced upon it under the mountain, but no one wanted to risk having it fall back into the hands of Chaos again. Kolad reiterated to Turged that he would ensure the people of Maroth and Granoth Deeps were warned, and that the forces of Pumoth would be marshalled to support the Patriarch’s call to form an army of Law. With the Reptilians in retreat or called away for some other duty, he hoped that communication, at least of a mundane nature, could be restored. Communication via the powers vested to them by Thenil was still impeded. Kolad then assembled the Elders of the Deep to answer whatever questions they might have, but frequently deflected questions to Denad to answer. Answer he did, but still made it clear that he felt his place was not in the temple, but in the trenches. They spoke of the founding of Pumoth Deep at the very edge of the Firmament as a bastion against Chaos. Denad had travelled to the actual edge of the Firmament more than once, and was confident that they would be able to make it to the Tower using the lore Turged had recovered in the library at the High Temple. Donad had likewise travelled to the edge with his previous squad and was similarly confident. Both claimed the distance would require them to travel fast, and resort to long uses of the Flow to even have a prayer of catching up to the lead bands of nomads – if they could catch them at all. That detail was not lost on Vonge or Turged, and time was spent discussing how Pumoth could be said to have been built on the edge of the Firmament if that edge were in reality weeks of travel away. The priests of the cathedral did not have an easy answer for that, but Denad offered that metaphor is often a great teaching tool and memory aid, but reality rarely conforms to it. After a night’s rest, and a proper outfitting for the hardships of the trail ahead, the group set off on their journey with little fanfare.
  • Once far from the Deep and having made their way to a well-known site where they could employ the Flow to harness the Divine Force to hasten their journey, the ten-member group drew closer together, locked arms, and were led in prayer by Turged. Within moments, they were hurtling across the rough terrain, but still had a sense of what terrain they had traversed. Two ‘days’ saw them far beyond the edge of Turged’s map, and nearing the furthest reach of normal patrols – the very edge of the Firmament. Their Reptilian allies kept to themselves, but were very attentive to the needs of Vonge and Turged. Supplying them with berries, moisture-filled leaves, and small edible creatures. They did not comment on the journey, but were visibly uncomfortable under the never-ending glare of the Frozen Sun. The third ‘day’ of travel ended suddenly as several things transpired at once. First, a shift in the feel of the Divine Flow beneath them slowed their passage, then noting that there was no end or edge of the Firmament in sight slowed them further, and column of smoke in the distance brought them to a halt. Donad was sent out by Vonge to scout, and he soon summoned the rest to the edge of a ledge overlooking a narrow valley below. Down in the lowest part of the valley, far below them, was a stone, bowl-like, depression in which a low campfire burned in a stone fire-pit, while around it writhed painted bodies uttering low chants. A ring of horses stood calmly around the edge of this depression, hobbled and secured to a line. Were these revelers a party of nomads they were seeking to overtake? Were they close to the Tower? Should they not have found the Edge of the Firmament by now? Questions ringing in their heads they observed the strange sight below for a moment, but all thought was soon brought to a crashing halt as the rocks and scrub below darkened as though suddenly put under a shadow thrown by a storm cloud. Looking up, the group took in the immense form of a scaled body with saurian head and gaping maw filled with glittering teeth. A form held aloft on leathery wings tipped by a vicious, hooked claw, the beats of which cracked out like thunder in the valley as the creature settled near the lip of the depression.  Its roar shook stones loose from their vantage point as they slid back out of sight and reached for their weapons…
Session Twenty-three:

The twenty-third session recap will deal with the perils found at the edge of the Firmament~

Stay tuned~

Session Recaps

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One Response to “Casting Runes 6: A Season for All Things – Session 22 Recap”
  1. Nice cliff hanger!

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