Piratecat's storyhour reborn! (updated July 4, 2006)


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  1. #1
    Writing TimeWatch!
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Piratecat's storyhour reborn! (updated July 4, 2006)

    Where we start. . .


    If you're new to the Defenders of Daybreak, this is where to start.

    My campaign started in June of 1992. When we pick up the story hour in the post below this one, the campaign is roughly eight years old (with 13th and 14th lvl characters.) As I write this in May of 2006, the campaign is closing in on 14 years and still going strong (with 21st-22nd lvl characters!)

    This story hour details all the adventures between those two points. Much of this has already been posted in various threads on various incarnations of the boards, but I’m gathering it here in one thread to make life a lot easier for anyone trying to read it. I’m closing my old storyhour threads, but they’re still available to anyone who wants to read ahead or peruse original commentary. They're just a little unwieldy.

    Additional campaign background, including “the Defenders of Daybreak: the Early Years” (logs of the first 3-4 years of the campaign, written by Sialia and Bandeeto) can be found at www.piratecat.org. Much of the campaign deals with religion; a quick view of the pantheon can be found here.

    I’m picking up the story at a good starting point in the campaign. At this point in the game we had just recently started playtesting 3e, but it would be roughly another six months before the game launched. We were working off of photocopied playtest documents at this time, and rules changed weekly. At the start of the story, the gaming group had just had one person (Eltariel) move to Texas, and one person (Raevynn) join the game. The group had recently finished a sizeable campaign arc, and was heading off to tie up various loose ends. One of these loose ends was a former party member making ripples in his church.

    As this story hour starts, the Defenders of Daybreak (in order of appearance) consisted of:

    Spoiler:

    Velendo of Calphas: Played by Sagiro. An elderly cleric of the God of Protection, Velendo often finds himself acting as the voice of reason against more ebullient - and chaotic - party members.

    Nolin Benholm: Played by KidCthulhu. Nolin is a free spirit who shares his soul with that of a phoenix. A famous bard and musician, he is also the founder of a bardic academy that trains bards as spies.

    Sir Valdek Nurin: Played by Aithdim. Valdek is the kind of fighter that young warriors might look up to; a commoner raised to knighthood, a breeder of magnificent warhorses, a quiet man of honor.

    Tao Camber: Played by Jobu. Tao’s a half-elven ranger/cleric who enjoys getting into bar fights just so that she can beat up muscle-bound men. She’s a fervent worshipper of the nature goddess Galanna, and her rough manners are slowly getting polished by constant exposure to Nolin.

    Kirisandra Kulberg (Kiri): Played by Wisdomlikesilence. Kiri is Nolin’s half-sister, another child of their philandering elven father. She’s a charming, sharp-nosed sorceress/rogue with a drunken sot of a familiar. Kiri has a long history of skipping from religion to religion in an attempt to find some sort of peace.

    Raevynn: Played by Raevynn. Sent by the druidic council of Galanna to join the Defenders and investigate a former member of theirs, Raevynn has little patience for the trappings of proper society. Everything else being equal, she’d rather disembowel someone than make small talk with them.

    Tomtom Badgerclaw: Played by Tremere. TomTom is a halfling rogue/psion, and has been described as the kind of thief who steals entire cities. He dresses in jester’s motley and wears boots, all the better to distract people, but he’s the power behind the shadows. Underestimate him at the expense of your wallet.

    Shara (Sharala Clearwater): Played by Fajitas. Shara joined the party after being released from a djinni bottle found in Sigil, but she’s far more than the beautiful enchantress she appears to be. Shara has a history that will soon come back to haunt her.
    Last edited by Piratecat; Thursday, 6th July, 2006 at 07:54 PM.
    - Piratecat, EN World Admin. Now writing TimeWatch, an investigative time travel game.

 

  • #2
    Writing TimeWatch!
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Part 1: Leaving Bearspittle


    Really, it was probably the easiest mission they’d ever had.

    Velendo, a cleric of Calphas the Wallbuilder, twitched his reins with an age-spotted hand as his horse ambled down the sun-dappled forest road. He was riding slower than most of the adventuring group. Velendo shifted the large shield that he used as a holy symbol and swatted at a stubborn horsefly. “You know, I really expected more trouble than that. Normally we end up having to fight something.”

    “I know. It’s a nice change, isn’t it?” Nolin Benholm idly strummed the strings of his mandolin as he rode alongside, and the flames of his hair flickered in the soft wind. “He was so, so. . .” For once, the bard was at a loss for words.

    “Reasonable?”

    “Exactly! I mean, Rofan has been ‘enthusiastic’ ever since he first adventured with us six or seven years ago.”

    Velendo wrinkled his forehead. “Enthusiastic?”

    “By which I mean a certifiable nutcase.” Nolin grinned. “There’s a reason why he didn’t stay with the group for long. He may worship the same nature goddess that Tao does, but they’ve sure got a different way of showing it. Ask her about it some time. I think you met him once before, but that was only briefly. You probably missed his best sermons. If he wasn’t such a heretic, he’d have made a great evangelist.” Nolin chewed his lip for a moment. “Or maybe even a good bard. No, I take that back. A good jester. I ever tell you about the devil’s fruitcake?”

    “The what?”

    “The Devil’s Fruitcake. This was after Rofan was already getting unmanageable and prone to go off on tangents. We were at an inn and TomTom offered him some fruitcake. Not only did he refuse to eat it, he got up on a table and declared it to be ‘the devil’s fruitcake!’ Apparently, he declared fruitcake to be an unholy pastry item and anathema to Galanna. He must have preached about it for twenty minutes. It became a running joke amongst the Defenders. . . and I think we parted ways with him soon after. Not a very clever boy, our Rofan, but he always has had a certain personal style.”

    Velendo chuckled. “You could say that. I know we first heard some weird rumors about him when he claimed he was a 'bear prophet' and decided to lead some religious cult off in the middle of the woods, but you know, I didn’t see any of that insanity when we visited him just now. He seems to have finally calmed down a bit.”

    “Seems so,” said Nolin. “Mind you, that cult’s the reason that the church of Galanna asked us to investigate. They said he was worshipping animals instead of the nature goddess Herself, and that he was involved in some sort of taint.”

    “Well, I didn’t see it.” Velendo wiped his brow and winced at an odd twinge in his back, like a nagging bruise. He wasn’t getting any younger, that was for sure. “He had some other worshippers there, but their village was entirely proper. There’s no reason to worry.”

    “There’s no reason to worry,” agreed Nolin, a little distantly. “None at all. Want to catch up to the others?” Velendo dug in his heels, and their horses trotted jauntily up the path and away from the town of Bearspittle.

    -- o --

    “There’s no reason to worry,” said Sir Valdek Nurin. He pulled off the breastplate of his armor and stretched tired, sore muscles. One of his old battle wounds seemed to have reopened, and the pain made him wince. “Quite a relief. I never knew Rofan that well, but he was friendly enough.”

    “Yup,” admitted Tao Camber grudgingly as she tossed more fuel onto the campfire. Across the fire, Kiri caught Valdek’s eye and they smiled a secret smile to one another. Tao pretended not to notice. “He was a nut. But all we had to do is explain to him how he differed from the church, and he realized his mistakes. A big change from the way he used to be.”

    “You never used to like him, did you, Tao?” Velendo was leaning against his shield and sipping from a water skin. The warm summer sun had turned his bald head an uncomfortable shade of pink during their long ride.

    Tao frowned. “I didn’t dislike him. Not personally. It’s just that he used to see the Goddess in every living thing.” Tao indicated a brace of rabbit hanging across the campsite. “I worship Galanna and know that She created the trees of the forest and the animals of the field, but I have no guilt about hunting. Predators eat prey, that’s the way nature works. But Rofan always worshipped those animals as if they were her. He’d refuse to crush an ant in case it might be the Goddess Incarnate. He’d pray to his horse, and treat my wardog as if it were going to answer his prayers and grant him miracles.” Tao wrinkled her nose, causing the tip of her pointed ears to wiggle slightly. “You can imagine that he got to be a little much. I’m more of a ranger than a priestess, but even I know better than that.”

    “You should know better than that.” The druidess Raevynn stepped out of the shadows, her blond hair gleaming red in the firelight. “He was a heretic. The druidic council of Galanna sent me here to help you and make sure he either renounces his heretical ways, or is punished. Just as you are, I’m glad to see that his feet have finally found the true path.”

    “He’s not a heretic.” Across the campsite from Raevynn, TomTom Badgerclaw looked up from where he was expertly skinning three dead squirrels. “He’s not entirely sane, mind you, but he has always meant well. I don’t think you want to start labeling people as heretics when you don’t really know them. And anyways, you met him and he’s fine, right?”

    “I suppose,” allowed Raevynn. She didn’t look satisfied.

    “Stew, anyone?” Nolin backed out of the depths of his tent, laden with soup bowls and utensils. “Tao’s got the fire going nicely. It’ll be ready before too long.”

    “Not for me, thank you,” said Raevynn. “I had a few mice while I was in hawk form.”

    “I’ll have her share!” said TomTom. The Halfling looked hungrily at the cooking pot. “And someone should get Shara. Where is she?”

    Nolin snorted. “Miss Prissy is asleep already. I don’t think she’s used to traveling.”

    “Stop being so judgmental.” Kirisandra laughed and looked over at her half-brother Nolin. One hand idly stroked her sleeping pseudodragon. “Nol, did you know that I actually belonged to Rofan’s cult for a while?”

    Nolin looked shocked. “You did?” Kiri fidgeted as everyone turned to stare at her. She shrugged defensively.

    “Yes.” Silence. “What? It was years ago. It was a phase I was going through.” More silence, this time disapproving. Kiri’s dismissive laughter was like a bell.

    “What was it like?” asked Valdek finally. He had taken out his sword Warwinner and was slowly honing the blade. The rhythmic noise cut through the warm night.

    “Boring.” Kiri idly poked at the fire. “A lot of people worshipping some bear, or a rabbit, or whatever animal they saw that morning. Maybe twenty people treating Rofan as some sort of prophet, and him completely oblivious to the attention. Bad food, all raw, and bad hymns. No cute men. A few gnomes running errands.”

    “Oblivious,” said Nolin. “That’s our Rofan.” The fire popped.

    “No gnomes there last night,” remarked Raevynn.

    “Right,” agreed Valdek.

    “None at all.”

    Other voices chimed in. “But that’s no reason to worry.”

    “We got there. . .”

    “Isn’t it odd. .?”

    The group began reciting, almost as if in unison.

    “Things went so smoothly.”
    “No real arguments, no fight.”
    “He apologized and agreed to change his ways.”
    “He sure did.”
    “Then he showed us around.”
    “We had a nice dinner.”
    “We stayed the night.”
    “No problems.”
    “No reason to worry.”
    “No reason to worry.”
    “No reason to worry.”

    They all looked at one another, disquieted. The wizard Shara suddenly stepped into the circle of firelight, standing up abruptly as she left the darkness of her tent.

    “I agree that everything went perfectly well. I know deep down there’s no reason to worry. We left peacefully after settling the problem in our favor.” Everyone nodded and stared at Shara quizzically. Her deep blue eyes were icy as she took a deep breath and lifted the hem of her tunic.

    “But if that’s the case, when exactly did I get stabbed?”

    -- o --

    “Stabbed?” Raevynn the druid threw up her hands. “I don’t remember anything about you getting stabbed!”

    “Stabbed. And partially healed.”

    “Who would stab that perfect body?” leered Nolin. Shara just rolled her eyes and ignored him.

    Valdek scowled. “I just found dried blood on my armor that wasn’t there yesterday. I think it’s my own. I don’t know why I didn’t notice it before now.”

    “It’s not just that,” said Velendo. “I think someone hit me as well. I’m also missing prayers that I should have prepared this morning, and that I remember having prepared.” He flung a small stick into the campfire as mocking shadows danced around them.

    “Same here,” said Raevynn in annoyance.

    Nolin did a quick mental inventory of his magical repertoire. “I’m missing some spells, too. I don’t know how I missed it. Do you actually remember praying, Velendo?”

    “Well, sure. I remember preparing spells. . .” The old cleric’s voice trailed off into a mutter. “Well, sort of. I remember that I prepared spells, but I don’t really remember praying for each individual one, if that makes any sense.”

    “It doesn’t,” said Tao. She sat with her back to a tree, staring out into the darkness.

    “Sure it does,” said Shara. “Let’s go over this. What does everyone remember about the last two days?”

    “I remember riding into town,” said Kiri, “and seeing Rofan come out to meet us with some friends in tow. He looked the same as I remembered him looking. Young kid, kind of pimply, unwashed, red hair standing straight up in back where he slept on it. And I remember us leaving really clearly. But everything in between is a little bit like I read it.”

    Tao snorted in the darkness, and Nolin glanced over. “You’ll learn to read eventually, Tao.”

    “That hardly matters right now,” said Raevynn. She sounded angry. “No one ever lived or died because they could or couldn’t read.”

    Nolin snorted but got back on subject. “Okay, so we rode in to town. Then what?” Everyone spoke at once.The babble of voices sounded oddly repetitious.

    “We confronted Rofan. . .”
    “He apologized for how he was worshipping Galanna. . .”
    “We were shown around the village.”
    “They made us dinner.”
    “We had a nice house to sleep in.”
    “And then we left.”
    “No reason to worry.”

    Velendo rolled his eyes. “We all remember it the same?” Everyone nodded. “Exactly the same?” More nods. “What color was the house?” No one said a thing. “What did we have for breakfast this morning? What did Rofan’s friends look like? What is Rofan’s new religious philosophy?” Silence.

    “Son of a bitch,” said Tao wonderingly. “Rofan’s an idiot. We all know that. But someone changed our memories, and we’ve just been suckered.”

    The ride back to Bearspittle was considerably more urgent than the outward ride had been.
    Last edited by Piratecat; Wednesday, 10th May, 2006 at 05:18 AM.

  • #3
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    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    And, as every Piratecat storyhour needs a comment from a player stressing just what a Rat Bastard the man is, here's mine.

    There we were all talking around the table, wondering what we'd find in Rofan's city, blah, blah, blah. Then PC says "It's a beautiful morning and you're riding out of town, with a job well done behind you". To say that were were caught flatfooted would be an understatement.

    Do not do this to your poor players' brains unless you are sure of their flexibility and agility. This is a trust move!

    As another note, it's PirateCat's birthday. Wish him a happy one, everyone!
    Ia! Ia! Cthulhu toboggan!

  • #4
    Writing TimeWatch!
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Part 2: The Prophet Rofan



    “I still don’t remember any gnomes,” whispered Tao.

    “They seem to remember you,” whispered back Valdek.

    “... so glad you’re back!” effused Rofan. His shirt was covered with small twigs and drying mud. He brushed back his bright red hair with one hand. “You left suddenly, and I was worried I had somehow offended you. We’re old friends, and that’s the last thing I’d want to do.” He looked at the group fondly, eyes wide and guileless, and put his arm around Nolin’s shoulders. Rofan’s sleeve smoked slightly where it brushed the base of Nolin’s hair, but the fabric never caught fire.

    Standing ankle deep in the moss beside the road, the tiny forest gnome named Pickett bowed in respect and fond recognition of the heroes’ return. Pickett seemed smaller and quieter than any rock gnome, and had carefully positioned himself three feet behind Rofan and to one side. He swept his conical hat back onto his nut-brown head and nodded his head in time with Rofan’s words, as if memorizing the speech for posterity.

    “Rofan,” said Velendo cautiously, glancing sidelong at the gnome. “Is there somewhere we could talk by ourselves?” They walked slowly towards the small village of dingy wood huts. Ancient trees spread overhead like the rafters of a church.

    “Why not right here?” Rofan stopped suddenly and spun, hands in the air. “It’s just us and Galanna. And the townsfolk. Galanna’s going to listen in anyways, of course.” His voice grew conspiratorial. “She’s in the leaves, in your horses, in the beetles, in my little friend Pickett here, in the birds, and in both the snapes and the squakes. She’s. . .” Rofan spun and stared at Velendo. His eyes bulged. His mouth fell open in astonishment.

    “What?” asked Velendo, his voice rising. “What? What?” He jerked his head around to look behind himself, but saw nothing amiss.

    “She’s HERE!” Rofan fell on his knees in front of Velendo, his voice rising with the ecstasy of religious fervor. Pickett the forest gnome leapt backwards to get out of the way, stumbling partially into a small hole. “That inchworm on your shoulder! Galanna favors you, Velendo! She rides with you, She is on you and in you, and we must all worship the inchworm!” Rofan grabbed Velendo around the waist in a huge hug, and then dropped to grovel in the dirt at his feet.

    “Um, Rofan?” Velendo looked appalled.

    “Worship the inchworm! Worship the Goddess!” Other members of the village, drawn to the rough road by the sight of strangers, likewise dropped to pray. Within seconds only the Defenders of Daybreak were standing. Everyone else, human and gnome alike, were abasing themselves in the muddy roadway. Velendo stood uncomfortably in front of them as his face grew flushed.

    “Told you he was a nutcase,” hissed Nolin.

    “You think?” Kiri hissed back.

    “This is just wrong,” muttered Tao.

    “What’s a snape?” asked Raevynn.

    Velendo looked up to the heavens and sighed. “Well, this is awkward.” He glanced down at the groveling nature priest. “Rofan? Get up, Rofan.” Velendo finally had to yell. “ROFAN!” TomTom finally stepped forward to poke at the priest with the end of his small boot.

    Rofan stopped in mid-obeisance and glanced up at TomTom with puzzlement. Velendo just looked pained. “Didn’t you promise yesterday to give this up?”

    “What? No, of course not. Why would I do that? Deny my holy calling?” Rofan jumped back to his feet, apparently unconcerned that the divine essence of Galanna was now gone from the inchworm. The other townsfolk stood up as well and slowly began to disperse. “Absolutely not, Velendo. We reached an agreement about it.”

    “We did?” asked Tao. Her hand had drifted ever so slightly onto the hilt of her favorite sword.

    “You’ll have to forgive us, Rofan. With the warm sun yesterday, we ended up a little bit confused.” Nolin sounded totally relaxed. “Let’s go somewhere and talk. Remind me, where did we go yesterday?”

    “Why, to the town square. You had wanted to address the crowd.” He pointed to Tao and Raevynn. “Both of you did. It was nice of you to let me talk, though. Galanna is good, and blesses us.” His smile was genuinely happy.

    “Let’s go there now,” said Valdek. He hobbled his warhorse by a stream and quietly loosened his weapon in its sheath, then followed the others into Bearspittle.

    -- o --

    TomTom looked about himself as they wandered through town. He had a memory of the village as a clean, nicely kept refuge. The truth was far less impressive. The huts were ramshackle and mostly insulated with mud, although two or three of them looked to be slightly better constructed. It was a town for people who had no firm grip on reality. Deep down, TomTom had the sneaking suspicion that the residents had their gaze so firmly fixed on the afterlife that they weren’t bothering much with their here-and-now life.

    “Keep a sharp eye out,” he instructed. The group had paused for a moment for Rofan to worship the Goddess in the form of a very confused blue jay. “If something was done to us, it probably happened in the town square when Rofan was speaking. And it clearly caught us by surprise last time. We can’t let that happen again.”

    “Absolutely right,” said Kiri. “We’ll be ready. Of course, we probably said that yesterday too. . ." She trailed off. "You know, I’m not so sure that Rofan’s responsible for whatever’s going on.”

    “I tend to agree.” Valdek was standing beside Kiri, their shoulders barely touching. “He may just be a tool.”

    “Watch me not make the obvious joke,” said Nolin.

    “Seriously,” said Valdek. “I’m more likely to think he’s being manipulated by someone or something.”

    Kiri blinked. “Speaking of which, Rofan is still there, but where’s Pickett?” She craned her head around to try and spot Rofan’s assistant. The forest gnome seemed to have quietly slipped away.

    “Damn it!” said TomTom. “Okay, I’m going to split off and try to find Pickett. Never trust a gnome, especially one that servile. Raevynn, maybe see if you can spot him from the air? The rest of you should go with Rofan, but be ready for trouble.” Standing between two shacks, no one saw Raevynn slip her skin and take on feathers. By the time she did so, TomTom had already slipped into shadows. Rofan was so entranced by preaching to Tao that he never even realized that they were gone.

    -- o --

    “The mist will probably be rolling in soon,” remarked Rofan.

    “What mist?” They were standing at the edge of the town square. It was nicer than the rest of Bearspittle; people had clearly taken the trouble to level and pave it. Poorly carved statues of animals ringed the space.

    “We’re in a foggy spot. It’s not unusual to get morning or afternoon mists in here. That’s a holy sign, and I know that’s when it’s time to preach. Sometimes the Goddess takes me, then, and I don’t even remember what I say.” Rofan looked beatific. “I’m very lucky.” A forest gnome appeared by his leg, and Rofan reached down automatically to pat the little fellow’s hat.

    “That’s not Pickett, is it?” Nolin tried to tell.

    “Nope, that’s Tunkitt,” said Rofan. “Pickett is the only one who really speaks our tongue. His whole family is here, a real clan. They live in tunnels under the village. They’re just like in the stories; leave them a bit of milk by the doorstep, and they build huts, polish shoes, mend clothing. You name it.”

    Shara eyed Rofan’s torn and filthy jerkin with a critical eye. “Really.” Shara raised one eyebrow.

    “Uh huh. All they want is to be able to worship the Goddess, too. They’re very insistent on regular services.”

    The gnome tugged on Rofan’s pants, and the young priest bent down to listen. Meanwhile, the Defenders took a few steps away and whispered to one another.

    “I so don’t trust those gnomes,” said Nolin.

    “I might be able to guess at what happened to us, though,” said Shara. “There’s a powerful spell called mindfog. It dulls the mind and makes people easy to manipulate. If someone used that spell under the cover of a mist rolling in, we might have been ensnared. That still doesn’t explain how our memories were changed, though.” Privately, Shara vowed to remember this trick in case she might use it herself some day.

    “That would do it,” agreed Velendo. He looked around for any sign of fog.

    “It’s worse than that,” said Tao. “This space isn’t holy to Galanna. I know what Rofan believes, and there’s some power being worshipped here, but it sure as heck isn’t the Goddess. He kept going on and on about how Galanna loves every creature, even the slimes and abominations. That’s heretical, and simply wrong.” She twisted around to look at the poorly carved stone animals, and at a second glance they looked less poorly carved and more like they had been deliberately twisted into a mockery of their normal shape.

    “Something that Rofan said before,” said Valdek in a worried tone.

    “Right,” said Kiri. “What exactly is a snape or a squake?”

    “We. . .” Velendo swallowed dryly. “We may be about to find out. I think TomTom and Raevynn tracked down the source of the problem.” He pointed with his free hand across the town, and everyone heard the sounding of splintering wood and grinding stone. A shadow fell upon them as something rose from the ramshackle huts and eclipsed the sun.

    Rofan looked up from his conversation with the gnome. “Oh no,” he said plaintively. “Not again.
    Last edited by Piratecat; Wednesday, 10th May, 2006 at 08:50 PM.

  • #5
    Writing TimeWatch!
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lela
    I'd love to get a few more details from behind the story hour. After you told them that they left, how'd they work it out? Was that chant actually done in game? Any behind the scenes info would be appreciated.
    So, there was a bizarre metagame amusement rocketing around the table. They knew they'd just been screwed with, but they weren't exactly sure how. Suspicious so-and-so's... y'know, I could have just wanted to give them a nice easy adventure success. . .

    not so much.

    So there was a rapid-fire array of questions about what had happened in the past day. I kept providing general responses that were way too uniform, and way too bland, to be real memories. The players were great and framed any realization that something odd through their own character's knowledge; they knew something was weird, but they had to figure out a way for their characters to figure out the same thing.

    As they slowly realized that soreness and bruises were actually unhealed wounds, and yes, people were missing spells if they thought to ask, then the group of characters came to understand that someone had been messing with them. The more specific a question they could ask me based on character knowledge, the more obvious it was to them that my bland answers for what they remembered couldn't possibly be the truth. I answered all the false memory questions with the same phrasing and with the same offhand comment ("there's no reason to worry.") They started picking it up themselves as they talked about this in character, and that similarity of everyone's phrasing was also a big clue that something was weird.

    The players also understood that I wouldn't just declare that this had happened unless there was a real in-game reason. I'm honored that they trust me to that degree. As the characters returned to Bearspittle, they were really vigilant for powerful mind magic. Mind flayers were definitely mentioned as a possibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lela
    I'm considering yoinking this for my game of course. I'd better give the new players some time to get to know me first though.
    Be aware that I was absolutely prepared to go on to the next adventure. If they hadn't picked it apart immediately, I would have gradually given them more hints every game session that something wasn't right. That would have made it even more fun when they finally figured it out and returned.

    After the game, Sagiro pointed out to me that I could have made the "visit summary" more realistic if I had really wanted to fool them. True, but I didn't really want to fool the players! It was more fun for everyone that the players knew that something is up, but their characters didn't.
    Last edited by Piratecat; Tuesday, 6th June, 2006 at 06:47 AM.
    - Piratecat, EN World Admin. Now writing TimeWatch, an investigative time travel game.

  • #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat
    After the game, Sagiro pointed out to me that I could have made the "visit summary" more realistic if I had really wanted to fool them. True, but I didn't really want to fool the players! It was more fun for everyone that the players knew that something is up, but their characters didn't.
    That's a nice distinction. I'd probably have played out the encounter but quickly and glossing over a few details and then slowly let the players work out something was wrong, but I like your method too. Your method also has the added advantage of not spending game time playing out an encounter which is only a figment of their imaginations.
    shilsen is broken - Crothian (and this is why)

    My Eberron Story Hour. Updated (Finally!) November 11. The Grand Finale!

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    Writing TimeWatch!
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Some administrivia:

    1. Sagiro and I are considering changing how we work experience points and level gain in our games. If you want to put on your pointy-headed-gamer hat and join in the discussion, we'd love your feedback.

    2. I loved the birthday greetings, but please don't be surprised if I regulalry trim some posts out to keep down the thread length (I'd much rather have people comment and occasionally remove comments, because banter is fun.)
    Last edited by Piratecat; Tuesday, 6th June, 2006 at 06:51 AM.
    - Piratecat, EN World Admin. Now writing TimeWatch, an investigative time travel game.

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    Writing TimeWatch!
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Part 3: Fire and Stone



    TomTom Badgerclaw hugged the outside wall of a mud and daub hut, confident that no one could see him. He could hear people stirring nearby, a baby crying somewhere, hymns being sung as several people prayed. He didn’t recognize the language. There was the muted slap of tiny boots and the gentle click of a closing door latch. Then the turn of a key.

    Good, Pickett had gone inside.

    Gnomes. You just couldn’t trust them. Gnomes were too much like squirrels. TomTom slipped his head around the corner. Ahead of him was one of the more sturdily constructed huts. It stood at the edge of the muddy path fifty feet away, and it had no windows. It did, however, have a familiar raven perched jauntily on its roof.

    “Squork?” asked Raevynn. The druid seemed impatient.

    TomTom narrowed his eyebrows at the bird and it bobbed its head in annoyance. A gentle mental push, and TomTom and Raevynn were psychically linked. Raevynn’s mental signature was one of surprise.

    “You can do that?” she asked mentally.

    “Obviously.” TomTom moved up to the door and examined it with a critical eye. He started low and moved upwards. The bird shifted from one leg to the other.

    “I now know why we forgot what happened yesterday. Obviously, we were so bored by waiting that we blanked it out of our minds.” Her tone was acid. “Can we hurry a bit, please? Or do I need to change back and open the door myself?”

    “If you want to set off the trap.” TomTom glared at her, fully meeting her black and beady bird eyes. “There’s some sort of magical rune on this door. Thanks all the same, but I’m going to disarm it so it doesn't go off.” Raevynn squorked once and then fell quiet, keeping watch from the roof as Tomtom brushed away the pale pigment of the rune.

    “What would it have done?”

    “I have no idea. Let’s see if anyone is actually inside.”

    The halfling pulled out a small cone. His ear went against the cone, and the cone went against the wooden door; he’d only had one encounter with the verminous grubs known as ‘ear seekers,’ but that had been enough. Caution never hurt anyone.

    Silence.

    He idly picked open the poor quality lock and eased the door wide. Pickett had disappeared. The inside of the hut was a shambles, but not the sort of mess that results from a fight. Soiled clothing lay draped on moldy food scraps. Chairs lay where they had been tipped over by gnomes too lazy to set them upright. The smell was of old boots after a long hike.

    “This?” said Raevynn. “This is not normal forest gnome behavior.”

    “I’ll agree with you there.” TomTom turned slowly in place, his eyes finally settling on a section of moderately clear floor underneath the low table. “Stand back,” he said. “A trapdoor, and maybe another trap.”

    He bent over the flooring, and the edge of his finger crossed an unseen spider-thin web of magical energy. The floor erupted in flame with a dull “whump!” TomTom’s reflexes were good enough that he flipped his small body up onto the filthy table, avoiding the blast entirely. Raevynn was nowhere near as lucky. The smell of charred feathers filled the air, and she forced her body back into half-elven shape so that she could beat out the flames.

    “Ouch?” asked TomTom.

    “Ouch,” confirmed Raevynn. Her arms were livid from the partially healed burns. “That really hurt.”

    “Whoever set it is more powerful than we are, I’m guessing.” TomTom eyed the now untrapped trapdoor with distrust. “We should probably get the others.” Then something scuttled across the thatching overhead. TomTom turned and pivoted, the magical jambiya at his belt flung up in one smooth motion. It thunked into something small and whirled back around into Tomtom’s hand. The carcass of a small rodent fell from the thatching onto the detritus at Raevynn’s feet.

    “Squirrel?” asked TomTom. He thought it was, but now the silhouette looked wrong.

    “No,” said Raevynn in disgust. She dangled the dead animal from two fingers, pinching its red bushy tail. “An abomination. Half squirrel, half snake. Half viper, to be exact.” Her face was red with fury. “An abomination of nature. Didn’t Rofan mention ‘squakes’? This is no holy place, no temple of Galanna! I think it’s much more likely to be. . .”

    Raevynn was interrupted when something ripped the top of the hut off.

    "Orrrrthysssss." Looming over them was a massive statue of twisted, inconstant stone. Ancient cobblestones and the stone foundation of huts were embedded in its side, and its face was caked with the rutted tracks of a wagon. It rumbled in a grating thrum, and a huge stone fist smashed down into the hut’s interior.

    -- o --

    “What in the world is that?” Sir Valdek stared up at the stone behemoth in amazement, then pulled down the visor of his helm. He didn’t wait for an answer. Warwinner cleared his sheath as he ran down the road towards the earthen abomination.

    Velendo blinked. “It looks like an earth elemental. But those are small, a lot smaller than that, at least. I’ve never seen one that big!” Only once, he thought, and that one was was the size of a mountain. I suppose I should count myself lucky. He turned to Rofan. “You’ve seen these before?”

    The prophet looked confused. “I… I think so? I’m not sure I remember. I think Galanna sends them to punish non-believers.” His eyes grew wide. “It must be one of you! One of you doesn’t believe, and she has sent the earth to smite you!”

    Nolin snorted in contempt. “It wasn’t Galanna who sent that. And I have the sneaking suspicion that whoever sent it is trying to kill TomTom.” He turned and sprinted towards the hut, hard on the heels of the rest of the Defenders. Rofan stood in confusion and watched them go.

    “The goddess. . .”

    “Don’t worry,” said a gnome who suddenly appeared at his side. The little creature’s face was twisted into something ugly. “We won’t let the heretics hurt you, great Prophet. We’ll see to that.” The gnome scuttled after the Defenders of Daybreak, disappearing into the brush at the side of the path.

    "Good?" asked Rofan. He watched them run away from him, and watched as the elder elemental stood up and silhouetted itself against the late afternoon sun.
    Last edited by Piratecat; Wednesday, 17th May, 2006 at 12:24 AM.

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    Writing TimeWatch!
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    It's worth noting at this point that no one in the group had even heard of an elder earth elemental at this point, never mind having fought one before. The Monster Manual was still in playtesting. Better yet, in the original playtest manuscript you could summon an elder elemental at a lower level than you can nowadays.

    This was a fun way to introduce one.

    It's also worth noting at this point that Orthyss is the campaign's God of Monsters and Twisted Creation; his existence makes abominations possible.
    - Piratecat, EN World Admin. Now writing TimeWatch, an investigative time travel game.

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    I'm really glad for this chance to get back into this as I had fallen way behind in the old thread.

    Oh and ya gotta love mindfog. I once used it on he PCs disguised as pipe-smoke.
    How to Write a Story Hour. | "Out of the Frying Pan" Story Hour Portal Thread


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