[ZEITGEIST] The Continuing Adventures of Korrigan & Co.

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
I feel like this thread has turned into an existential version of that joke. Let’s put it this way: the scene went on long enough, and so has this line of questioning. :eek:
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 238, Part Three

The Fermented Peaks


And so to Dunkelweiss, where the rivers flowed with beer. Here on Dunkelweiss (and therefore on any world to which it was linked) alcohol was good for you. It produced the same intoxicating effect as usual, but did no damage to long-term health. Indeed, hangovers were easily held at bay with a brisk workout, meaning the heaviest drinkers would tend to be the most fit. A night of intense carousing could even remove terrible afflictions.

The dwarven all-king known as Ron the Grand ruled his people nobly for a century. Upon his death, the dwarves did not merely craft him a tomb, but petitioned their gods to create a demiplane that would encapsulate all that made Ron so damned Grand. Alas, the high priests got too drunk celebrating after the funeral, and they accidentally left the key that opened a portal to the world inside the world itself. King Ron was at peace, and his planar tomb drifted through the cosmos, like a burial at sea. Centuries ago Dunkelweiss, a thirty-mile mountain range of soaring snow-capped peaks, majestic forests, and brisk mountain lakes, crashed into the Gyre. Such was the dwarven craftsmanship that it was barely jostled by the impact, and the borders of the world are quite sturdy. Celestial goats frolic on its grassy hills, and bearded eagles soar over the mausoleum, keeping watch of the king’s rest.

But woe now gripped those eagles, and each day they shed a single tear, for they failed at their duty. Decades ago, pirates from Hunlow had snuck onto Dunkelweiss and plundered the tomb, carrying away King Ron’s two radiant axes.

All of this was related to them by one of the eagles, who invited them to drink from the rivers, but warned them to stay away from the tomb. “No one will be allowed there except to return what was stolen.” When it turned out that they already had the axes, the eagle was overjoyed.

Even on Dunkelweiss, Rumdoom had refused to join them, so they had to send back to the Coaltongue and politely entreat him to come. He arrived with his retinue and went into the tomb of King Ron alone. When he returned, without the axes, he said “We should choose this plane for our world.” Then he went back to the ship.

Uru suggested shore leave for the crew of the Coaltongue. Korrigan agreed and they spent the rest of the day here.

During the carousal, Uriel asked the eagles about the key to their home plane – if they knew where it was. Their response was guarded. Uriel suggested that if they were to link this plane to their own – rescuing it from certain doom – then the ability to travel here easily would be valuable.

The eagles said, “If such is within your power, then do so, and we will discuss the matter of the key at that time. A one-off trip to retrieve the key must certainly be possible, if you are able to realign whole planes. …”

While the crew enjoyed themselves, Korrigan decided to deal with a matter he never seemed to have time for. Together with Leon, he entered the Dream Palace and visited the bedchamber where they had laid Linia to rest ever since she had been freed from the Vault of Heresies. Korrigan used every ounce of his power to heal her of the maladies that afflicted her, hoping that her mind would become whole as a result.

After the ritual, Linia remained unconscious, though she was no longer deep in a coma, as she had been before. Korrigan was loath to leave her to wake up alone and suggested that they transport her to the Coaltongue, but Leon told him this was impossible: Just as they could not travel from the Dream Palace to Lanjyr, so Linia could not travel to the Gyre, having not travelled there with them. They would take it in turns to visit her, it was decided.

Perhaps, when she awakened, they could ask her to relay a message back home for them?
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 238, Part Four

Party Boat


It was now time to cross the vast empty space between the southern and northern half of the Gyre. Gupta was gratified to hear that their first port of call would be Ascetia. She had waited a long time since the sweeping beam of the lighthouse caught her eye and inspired a fascination that she could not fully explain. While they traversed the empty void, she stood at the prow, slightly nervous with anticipation. As well as the regular sweep of the lighthouse, another source of light attracted her attention: smaller, irregular pulses in the darkness to the north-west. When they persisted, she dutifully reported the occurrence, despite knowing that doing so would cause them to divert from Ascetia.

What they saw though a spyglass (and confirmed with Korrigan’s clairvoyant eye) was a Golden Legion warship, very much like – no, identical to – the Aurum Treasure, moving at a sedate pace across the void, busy with activity (indistinct at this distance) and emitting prismatic beams in all directions.

They pointed the Coaltongue at the newcomer, but jumped ahead to take the crew by surprise. (If they couldn’t handle what they found there without back-up, they would jump back to the Coaltongue and engage them ship-to-ship.)

When they arrived, battle-ready, they were overwhelmed by pulsating noise. But instead of finding themselves in the midst of demonic legionnaires, they were surrounded by frolicking fey, who – though surprised by their arrival – were used to such strangeness and soon welcomed them aboard and enjoined them to dance along to the beat – a beat provided by the repurposed alarm system they had been subjected to on Av. The lights were faeries fire glancing off a round, golden globe suspended from a high vantage. It had been worked to provide multiple facets from which the faerie fires could dance.

This was indeed the Aurum Treasure, and these were refugees from Av, rescued by none other than Rock Rackus who now stood at the helm. He saluted them and beckoned them over. Shouting over the din of the music, they asked why he hadn’t responded to Korrigan’s telepathic messages. Rock lifted his skullcap and showed them a tin-foil lining inside: “You guys put me on to the works of the Grumbler, don’t you remember? The tin-foil hat was his idea. Stops all kinds of mind-control bullshit in its tracks!” He told them he had salvaged the ship and renamed it the Aural Pleasure. They misunderstood and laughed heartily. “You guys have dirty minds. I mean aural – for the ears!”

All of their fey friends were here: Sly Marbo, Rambylon, even Mista Knyves, whom Uru had been so fond of. He was overjoyed to see the cantankerous ettercap and greeted him enthusiastically.

Rock told them he was headed to Egalitrix to rescue Thisraldion. This presented them with a quandary. They figured out his current trajectory and realised it would bring him to Elofasp, home of the terrifying supplicants and ravants! They couldn’t allow him to press on alone, but they didn’t want to have him tag along with them either. He lacked subtlety and was a terrible glory-hog. At first they suggested that he back-track and wait for them: “We have business on Ascetia, but after that we can move on Egalitrix together. Why don’t you head back that way towards Dunkelweiss. It’s a plane where beer is good for you.”

“We’ve already been there!” shouted Rock. “Stayed there for days!”

It was no good; they would have to come along. It wouldn’t be long before they struck at Egalitrix now anyway, and they would need all the help they could get.

While this was being arranged, Uru was made aware of some tensions aboard the ship – the enmity between Rambylon and Mista Knyves persisted. Rambylon sidled up alongside Uru and told him he had seen Mista Knyves captured by the Golden Legion as they rampaged through Clover. “That’s not the real Mista Knyves, it can’t be!” he said.

There was a simple way to resolves this: Uru asked Korrigan to train the power of the Humble Hook on his ettercap friends and establish his real name. Korrigan obliged, without alerting the target, and told Uru that ‘Mista Knyves’ was in fact Copperhat the Headless! Leon squinted at him. His truesight did not penetrate the disguise, so it was no illusion. “Must be a polymorph spell,” he said.

Uru glowered and stalked away. Korrigan watched him as he sidled up to the ettercap, whispered something in his ear and then cut his throat!

The partying fey gasped and formed a wide, wary circle.

Wind whistled out of the slit throat. As the life drained from Copperhat’s polymorphed eyes, he was able to utter, in a mysterious, sibilant, sing-song whisper: “They’re he-ere!”

Baffled, Uru almost wished he’d kept him alive long enough to ask him some questions, until Uriel stepped up and proved that such caution was unnecessary: he summoned Copperhat’s spirit, firstly to prove that he was really, finally dead, and then to quiz the angry little creature.

“What did you mean by that?” he demanded.

Compelled to answer, Copperhat said: “Look behind you.”

They did so and at first could see nothing. Then they noticed a blackness against the blackness – two different shades of black, one looming out of the other – a vast shape, growing gradually lighter and more distinct, until they realised that what they were looking at was a gaping mouth of immense proportions, dwarfing both of their ships. In seconds it engulfed them and as it began to close, they recognised it as an undead whale, grown to an impossible size.

Weary Enid’s leviathan had swallowed them whole!

End of Session
 

SanjMerchant

Explorer
Is it bad that I keep wanting to sing Dunkelweiss to the tune of Eidelweiss? I mean, it's... somewhat justifiable thanks to the existence of "excuses to drink" musicals and operas like The Student Prince or Die Fledermaus, though the show Eidelweiss comes from is well after that fad petered out.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 239, Part One

Battle in the Belly of the Whale


As the darkness enveloped them, they became aware of a deleterious miasma. Not a gas or a poison, something more akin to the necrotic energies of the Bleak Gate or Nem. While they might be strong enough to resist it, the fey refugees and crew would not. Leon used the last drops of Panarchist oil to bathe everyone on board the Pleasure with regenerative energies.

Then the flying lacedons struck. The first wave, a score or more across each ship, took the occupants by surprise. Fey on the Pleasure and crewmen on the Coaltongue fell, paralysed. A couple were killed outright as the creatures swarmed out of the midnight aether.

Korrigan took to the air to see if he could tell where they were coming from, but the blackness was entire. Each of the unit picked off as many of the creatures as they could, which was a fair few on the golden legion flagship – over half the creatures were felled by Uru, Quratulain, Uriel and Rock. (“Welcome to the party!” Rock shouted as he fired.) But only Rumdoom remained on the Coaltongue (ably swinging the Stone of Not and obliterating foes instantly), though Calily and Amielle joined its defence.

Gupta invoked the Vision of the Fall on the nearest lacedon, which caused all of them to quail and falter, assaulted by radiant fire. This bought the unit and their allies a moment before a second wave of lacedon appeared.

Landing on the deck of the Coaltongue, Korrigan held the Symbol of the Sun aloft and once again, the lacedon shrank back before it. Leon tried to figure out a way to get everyone into the aura of the Wayfarer’s Lantern. He cast the incredible spell he had discovered on Padyer – Time Stop – and used it to open five portals between the two ships. The he stepped through one from the Pleasure to the Coaltongue and enjoined the fey to follow him.

Only Sly Marbo and his family followed (although that was something like thirty individuals). Rock was annoyed at this plan to seemingly abandon his ship, and gave orders for the fey to hold their ground.

There were too many lacedons. Uru had already killed six, but for every one he shot, two more appeared. He ghost-stepped down to the Coaltongue’s gundeck and used his ghostly entourage to fire a sudden broadside, but it didn’t do much good, swallowed by the blackness.

Uriel dominated a lacedon in an attempt to find out what was going on, but the stupid creature could provide no insights, so he gave up and had it attack one of its fellows.

Korrigan tried to guess where the mouth of the whale was, and ordered Admiral Smith to fire the brand in that direction. Smith said he was already working on it, turning the ship so that the Aural Pleasure was not in its sights. Korrigan told Rock to be ready to run if the brand gave them a clear exit.

Although it was draining, Leon cast Time Stop, again! This time he used it to get eyes on the situation, to figure out where the lacedon were coming from and where Jenny Greenteeth and Weary Enid might be lurking. He teleported out into the murky blackness. His first jump landed him in the midst of dozens of lacedon that appeared to be emerging – literally crawling – out of thin air. Here was an arm, reaching out of nothingness; here a leering face; over there the head, arms and torso of another – all frozen in place by the Time Stop spell. Leon used another teleport spell to explore further, but this one only took him a few feet. Something was amiss! He tried again and this time, he travelled such a huge distance that it took him a moment to reorient himself. There was the battle in the far distance, frozen. But even when the Time Stop spell ended, the scene remained still, as if time were moving much faster for Leon now he was far out into the dark.

Though a minute or so had passed for Leon, his findings were relayed immediately to the others, almost as soon as he left the ship. Quratulain stopped fighting – except to defend herself – and began to study their surroundings, focusing her incredible intellect in search of answers. Around her, the battle turned against them: Gupta fell, paralysed (though she fell out of sight of the ghouls, and was not killed); Korrigan realised he was their primary target as a dozen or more of them swarmed him in an attempt to get to Kai.

Slowly, slowly, the Coaltongue banked. When its prow was clear of the Pleasure, Smith fired the Brand. It did nothing! Swallowed by the blackness, just like the broadside. This was no good at all. They were trapped; the lacedons just kept on coming.

Quratulain finished her calculations: time and space were being stretched by magic; they needed to enter the miasma and find their way to the centre of it somehow. It might feel like they were abandoning their allies, but only moments would pass on the ship in the time that they were gone.

“Whatever you do, you need to do it fast!” cried Smith, alerting them to the fact that the command deck itself was under heavy assault.

Korrigan was fending off too many undead; he couldn’t lead the charge. Suddenly, a path was cleared for him. Ayesha’s children, the young gith, had come to defend their youngest ‘brother’, Kai. Korrigan yelled his thanks, and gave orders for the unit to follow, as Leon opened a dimension door between himself and the ship.

Leaving the Coaltongue and the Pleasure to fend for themselves, the unit plunged into the miasma.
 
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gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 239, Part Two

Greenteeth

It was up to Uriel to guide the others through the miasma. Only he had the arcane mastery, insight and perception to penetrate this lightless, empty maze. On top of fighting off the bewildering effect of the miasma, he needed to weave the fate of many of his friends, such that they could not lose him as he went. (Though they tried to stay linked together, they found they drifted apart, coming close to losing consciousness at points.)

After a journey that seemed to take forever, and left the travellers feeling woozy and disoriented, they finally came upon something solid: a group of figures clustered in the distance, on what must have been a solid surface, though no clear distinction between where they stood and the rest of the black fug could be perceived. Even from this distance they could make out two hags crouched at the centre of a cluster of lacedons and scrags.

Jenny Greenteeth they knew, some better than others, though it was a very long time since any of them had laid eyes on her. She was wiry and bare-limbed, her skin such a dark green as to be almost blue; hair jet black and wild. She loomed over the shoulder of a hooded hag, who seemed to be conducting a ritual of some sort – a ritual which caused this miasma, and the incredible warping of time and space. This was Weary Enid. Runes could be seen floating in the air before her, along with an image of both of their ships.

Though mentally fatigued, Uriel threw everything he had into a powerful spell that would overawe Enid and trap her in a beam of radiance, incapable of further action. This done, he cried out for aid, which Korrigan duly provided, bathing most of his allies in pure, positive energy.

Leon had already dropped Uru in behind Enid. When Uriel’s spell struck her, Uru went for Greenteeth instead, shrugging off the fey charm that prevented him from doing so. But his shot didn’t kill her as he’d hoped. She cried out in pain and surprise, and vanished.

Lavanya had accompanied Leon, invisibly. “Get me close to her,” she whispered in his ear.

Quratulain stepped through Leon’s portal, used her magical mask to cast truesight and shot her with a freeze ray from her Lantern Blaster. This time, Greenteeth became incorporeal. “Us girls should stick together,” the hag admonished Quratulain, seeking to dominate her with a powerful spell. Quratulain felt herself bending to Jenny’s will, before Korrigan freed her with his bracers of liberty. Jenny gave a cry of frustration, and for the first time became aware of the cluster of enemies who had stayed at a distance. She cast a confusion spell at them, which they were all able to resist, except Rumdoom, who fell back on a trusty magical item: “She’s knocked my fucking hat off!” he cried in outrage.

Jenny tried to sound defiant, despite this sudden, unexpected counterattack, and the undoing of their subtle but powerful ruse: “Give me the child and your friends will live! Otherwise, Enid’s minions will feed on their flesh!”

Now the nearby dozen lacedons and the half-dozen scrags mobbed Quratulain and Uru. They defended themselves as best they could, and Quratulain continued to attack Jenny Greenteeth relentlessly. Jenny teleported away; Leon used the Wand of Egal the Shimmering to prevent her from doing so again.

Uriel, bolstered by Korrigan, continued to pin Weary Enid. Rumdoom stepped through Leon’s portal and set about obliterating scrags. On Korrigan’s orders, Quratulain attacked Weary Enid. All the while they were swarmed by lacedons; one claw nicked Quratulain, who struggled to fight off their paralytic poison and landed a final, killing blow on the sea hag.

Jenny swept through the air towards Uriel, Korrigan and Leon, who were still some distance away from the melee. Leon teleported to meet her, dispelled her magical defences and attacked her with the Dreaming Blade. Whatever Lavanya hoped to achieve, she failed. “She’s too powerful!” she lamented, clearly surprised. Jenny tried to control Leon, but could not do so (though his mental defences were exhausted).

Korrigan summoned a future self, who stepped through Leon’s portal into the melee with the ghouls. “Which one of us do you want?” he goaded. His second self joined the fight beside Quratulain. “I really appreciate your help,” he said as she cut down lacedons left, right and centre.

“You know I love it,” she replied, sounding almost as if she really meant it!

With Enid dead, the scrags and lacedons fell back, though they had nowhere to run. Rumdoom continued to attack them, regardless.

Although he couldn’t see her, Uru knew Greenteeth was somewhere near Leon and flew on Little Jack to help him. Leon, flagging, teleported away, concerned he might not be able to resist another attempt to dominate him. Uriel cast truesight too, and threw a radiant bolt at the witch. Then Quratulain took another shot and killed her.

Or at least, killed her host. She cried out and ‘fell’, only to hang in mid-air, contorted but stiff, as bright-green vapour poured out of her mouth, nose and eyes. This sentient cloud sought a target and fixed upon Uru. It seethed towards him and he braced himself, whereupon Lavanya manifested in ghost form and deliberately absorbed the noxious mist, inhaling it like therapeutic vapour. She cried out, her form blurred and shifted. Leon flew closer to see if he could help. The ectoplasmic spasms went on for a short time, then stopped. When he form stabilised, it was no longer the spirit of Lavanya, but of Kasvarina.

“That was unexpected,” she said.

Leon was speechless.
 

SanjMerchant

Explorer
Quratulain ... shot her with a freeze ray from her Lantern Blaster.
And Quratulain-Is-Samus is further cemented in my head. :)

Lavanya had accompanied Leon, invisibly. “Get me close to her,” she whispered in his ear.

...

When he form stabilised, it was no longer the spirit of Lavanya, but of Kasvarina.

“That was unexpected,” she said.

Leon was speechless.
Weird that she, of all people, was surprised. Once Lavanya asked to get close to Greenteeth, I figured recombining into Kasvarina was specifically the plan.

Weirdly glad to see Kas back, though.

Out of curiosity, Gideon, when did you decide to integrate the Lavanya, Greenteeth, and Kasvarina plot threads this way? I know Lavanya started out as part of Leon's backstory, Greenteeth was something you added during your earlier stopgap adventures, and Kas is obviously from the published adventure. Was integrating them something you had in mind when the character was introduced or was it a later idea to help trim down the plot threads? Or is it a different answer for each of the two?
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Weird that she, of all people, was surprised. Once Lavanya asked to get close to Greenteeth, I figured recombining into Kasvarina was specifically the plan.
If I was writing a novel, I'd change that line, but I'm writing an account of what was said at the table, and that's what I said as Kasvarina. Anyway, I didn't exepct the enocunter to happen right then and there, or in the way it did. If Uru hadn't offed Copperhat so mercilessly it wouldn't have done. I thought they'd recapture him and drag him round the Gyre for a bit.

Weirdly glad to see Kas back, though.
Me too. Made the next session a bit of a headfuck though!

Out of curiosity, Gideon, when did you decide to integrate the Lavanya, Greenteeth, and Kasvarina plot threads this way? I know Lavanya started out as part of Leon's backstory, Greenteeth was something you added during your earlier stopgap adventures, and Kas is obviously from the published adventure. Was integrating them something you had in mind when the character was introduced or was it a later idea to help trim down the plot threads? Or is it a different answer for each of the two?
See post #659, paragraph 4, to be specific.

It was indeed intended to tie up loose threads, and dispense with arcs I no longer had use or time for, now that the campaign was published. So if RangerWickett doesn't like all of the time-travel baloney, he's got his own slow release schedule to blame! ;)

Seriously, though, folks, when I came up with the idea it was before Diaspora, when I didn't think I would end up liking Kasvarina. The original idea was only to connect Lavanya to her; having Jenny Greenteeth spawned by the same process occured to me much later. Once that happened, unifiying the two in spirit form was a nice way to bring her back. She's a much stronger female presence than Lavanya, who suffered from me never knowing who she was until it was too late.
 
It is sometimes much easier to start running a campaign after it is finished, it avoids those problamatic revelations which contradict all those clever ideas you had earlier.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
It is sometimes much easier to start running a campaign after it is finished, it avoids those problamatic revelations which contradict all those clever ideas you had earlier.
Actually, this campaign was very well-planned out. I didn’t have any issues like that, really. All of the complications were of my own making.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Session 239, Part Three

The Hidden Jungle


Copperhat, Weary Enid, Jenny Greenteeth, all dead. Lavanya gone; Kasvarina returned. It was all too much to take in.

Uriel explored the ritual site and found that Enid had been using a broken silver fragment of Reida itself, etched with runes he recognised, fey runes that pointed to the Voice of Rot. Together he and Leon worked to dispel, or undo, whatever magical effect had trapped them here. It was a desperate, slightly reckless effort, as they could not be sure of the outcome, and they had to wrestle with magic of the highest order.

All of a sudden, they found the miasma was gone. They floated in regular space, with Enid’s dead (no longer undead) whale drifting beneath them. In the distance they could see both the Coaltongue and the Pleasure. The reassuringly familiar beam of Ascetia swept over them.

Using teleportation and flight, they made their way back to the Coaltongue. The lacedons were gone. A dozen more men were dead, as were many fey. Worst of all, Admiral Smith had been killed in defence of the command deck. He had been laid out, respectfully, along with the dead crew. Words were said, but no funeral took place out here in the nothingness.

Grimly, solemnly, they returned to their journey, sailing silently on towards Ascetia.

Kasvarina spoke quietly to Leon. “I wonder how much time I have? I know that they will find my body soon. Perhaps this is why?” She gestured to her recent transformation.

Quratulain approached Kasvarina and said, “You know, I’ve decided you’re a pretty decent person after all.”

“Thank you,” said Kasvarina.

Gupta resumed her place at the prow, watching as Ascetia approached.

The flashing beacon strobed twice a minute, visible from hundreds of miles away. As they drew closer, the lighthouse Calily had told them about appeared, rising up from the edge of a tangled jungle which extended all the way to the precipice of the floating world. Using her spyglass, Gupta could see that the lighthouse was unostentatious but solid, constructed of hand-carved limestone bricks thrusting a hundred feet above the jungle canopy. A small barn and a few satellite buildings surrounded it in a fifty foot clearing, and a walkway of logs led from the lighthouse door to the very edge of the world.

The top of the tower had a roof covering the mechanism of the beacon, whatever that was. The windows were open, without glass.

As the Coaltongue drew near (with the Aural Pleasure close behind, beat silenced at the unit’s request) a figure emerged from the lighthouse and walked calmly down the walkway to a bench, where it sat down and waited, as if inviting them to dock. When they drew close enough, he gave a friendly wave. From this distance they could see his salt-and-pepper hair, cigarette, and the faint, ghostly glow about him.

It was William Miller!

End of Session
 
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