The continued adventures of our band of adventurers, with the last AP here.
Our party remains:
- Bricks the Boots (Halfling Guide)
Belief: As a Hendri and a Guide, I will not hesitate to forge the path needed, nor make the lost found.
Creed: Right to Roam: all have a right to walk paths and they must remain open. Paths write our stories and history into the land. To lose them is to lose a part of ourself. To destroy them is to cast away our history. They must be walked to preserve them and they must remain open.
Goal: Get to the ruin of the Hrel temple, and map it.
- Oddbjorn Bjornson (Bjorning Skald)
Belief: I will get my inheritance from the treasures lurking in the old places of the world.
Creed: Our names will be sung, so our deeds must match in glory and fame.
Goal: Find something worthy of song and story in Hrel.
- Osric Godtouched (Græling Shaman)
Belief: I will be more than the beast within me.
Creed: Only the Jotunn can give true power, mortal power is a pale, fleeting imitation.
Goal: Discover what was worshipped in Hrel in ancient times.
- Tösk (Changeling Thief - played by @DaveHiggins, of this parish)
Belief: Ancient Secrets are more important than coin.
Creed: All living beings have an equal right to thrive.
Goal: I will discover what the Hrelians… Hrelites… Hrelists… worship.
We are in the ruined temple of Hrel, in the wake of a successful Kill conflict against one group of Sorgian Dradkin.
3 of these Sorgian Dradkin had not been in the Conflict, but Calum, the orthodox Dradkin priest was very keen to go after these remaining “heretics”.
The party decides that sneaking up on the remaining Sorgian Dradkin was the best approach, and managed to get the drop of them, launching into a (well-scripted) Capture Conflict, and capturing all 3 of them, with no compromise, I believe?
Then, whilst Calum and the other 4 Dradkin proceeded to interrogation / confession / conversion of their fellow Dradkin, our adventurers take the time to look over the ruined temple, trying to discover who / what was worshipped here, and seeking out any treasures that might remain.
They conclude that, whilst the temple has been heavily desecrated by worshippers of the demon(?) Sorg, it was originally dedicated to some form of community / family-focused deity.
This is not the god Kranish, Dradkin Sea Captain (Who Would Fight Sorn & Command the Winds to Blow), which is what priest Calum and his companions follow.
Still, they work out that there must be some form of store / reliquary / “safe-house” under the ruins of the central chamber, and find a crawlspace in. It is likely that it was the final bolt-hole (and resting place) for those trapped here during the original assault that ruined the temple.
Tösk slithers down there and, using his Thiefy ways (level 5: Mechanic), finds the trap that has been set by those who were trapped within. Working carefully (and using things like Boots’ mirror), he manages to disarm it, and they are able to make their way inside.
The trap had been some for of tension-held crossbow/spiky-doom thing, using sharpnel, their own bones, a religious “ceremonial spiky mace”, help in place by the sinew and tendons of those trapped beneath.
It is clear that they died down here, having tried to last as long as they could, before doing what Dradkin do, and using the bodies of their dead to help them.
They gather what loot they can find, including coins, gems, a spell scroll and a magic earring, before scavenging for for torches and oil (as they are VERY low on light in this fathomless darkness).
The big thing for the session, though, is what happens afterwards.
(Survivor) Osric is still trying to work out how to act, given that (main) Osric is no longer part of his being / soul. So, he pulls out the small statuette of Kranish that the party looted a while ago, and places it down in, what he believe to be, the Kranish area of the ruined temple.
It’s what (main) Osric would have done, he thinks. Maybe?
Still, they then all rock up to find Priest Calum, and try to angle the conversation.
- Osric is looking to manipulate the remaining Dradkin into believing that this statuette’s appearance is a miracle.
- Tösk wants to them to explain this hearth / communal god to him, but doesn’t want to ask outright.
- Bricks wants, if memory serves, the Tomb Shields that hold the trapped souls of those slain in front of them.
They’re all twisty misleading approaches, so I call for a vs. test (Manipulator vs. the Dradkin’s Nature + Help/Advantage).
Oddbjorn is unhappy with this approach. His whole Creed is focused around them doing deeds worthy of song.
This is a change in his character from when he began, when exaggeration was all part of his approach. Now, being truthful is a core part of him, and how he feels the party should act.
Well, I’m happy for this to still be a vs. Test, but it’s between Osric and Oddbjorn now, with help going where appropriate.
Both PCs throw everything into this: Traits are used, they both tap their Nature into the mix (Oddbjorn’s Boasting, Osric’s Feuding), they spend Fate to open-end their 6s…
In the end, Oddbjorn uses his Storytelling-wise (which the table agrees is relevant) into it all, and wins.
(I can’t quite remember, but I think that Osric either used his Spirits-wise, or was already out of Persona and cannot muster further successes).
They have thrown all of the Rewards they can into it (leaving them without Persona, and either low or out of Fate).
Both players (and the whole table, to be honest) are delighted at how hard they’ve gone for it, and happy with how this is going.
Calum the priest is swayed by Oddbjorn, but before anything can come of it, an incensed Osric reaches for his Regalia of their Lith Band (Lith Band - see Bridge of the Damned p27-31), and communes with their Vættr, Halja Queen of the Dead, determined to go to a higher authority for a resolution!
The other PCs all help out, through their own Regalia, as they all want a say in this.
Thus, Halja, Queen of the Dead manifests through their Regalia, allowing them to talk with her, and gain her assistance.
Normally, a Vættr is only visible to the Lith Band, but given that everyone’s pulling out all of the stops, that Calum is a priest and that there are numerous souls around (either trapped in Tomb Shields, or recently killed by the party), I rule that Calum can also see Halja.
Whilst priest Calum does not see her as Halja, but as the Dradkin equivalent, the general tone and vibe is most definitely there.
Halja (as the party’s Vættr):
Descriptors: Claiming the Dead, Judging, Ruling Hel
Belief: Let no one take the merest grain that belongs to me.
Instinct: Always give to each newcomer according to their due.
Instinct: Protect my Lith.
Goal: Halja’s Reward to those who seek it. Halja’s Wrath to those who evade it.
She listens to them, calmly before passing judgment.
There’s definitely huge “Muuuuum! He hit me!” vs. “Muuuuum! He started it” vibes, from the characters. The players are absolutely loving leaning into this, although their characters are making their cases clearly and with grave.
In the end, she does a version of that thing familiar to many parents: “I don’t care who started it, but it’s going to stop now.”
Of course, being the Queen of the Dead, Halja has more style (and the Judging Descriptor), so it sounds way better.
She assuages her Lith Band’s feelings, and sets it out as an “I’m glad we are all in agreement about the way forwards, here.”
Halja gathers the souls of the dead to take back with her, and thanks priest Calum for helping her agents in the mortal world: our lovely party members.
In the conversation that follows, priest Calum tells them that the temple was once dedicated to Selya, Dradkin goddess of community, bounty and family, and one of the Sorgians converts back to the “orthodox” faith of the Dradkin.
Said ex-Sorgian reveals what few details he knows of a Sorg cult on the surface, a place where they are seeking to bring forth Sorg.
The last time Sorg manifested on this plane, it created / left behind “the Eyes of Sorg”: 2 pits in the bottom of the Ur-Menig that lead to a hell-realm. It was through these that the Ur-Menig sea drained, leaving only its memory to sail on.
This… sounds like another adventure lead to our adventurers.
Following this, the party return to a previous camp ground, doing their best to finesse the Grind, using up all their remaining rainwater, wine, etc.
Camp is made with the benefit of fourteen (14!) checks to spend, and a relatively small number of Conditions to clear up.
Whilst another Condition (or two) are earned during Camp, it is (overall) a success, with Bricks finally making the fireworks they wanted (without setting fire to anything!), as well as a couple of fear grenades, using sands from the shores of the Lands of the Dead (granted to them by Halja).
We’re long-overdue a Respite, and it is to this glorious (and expensive) Town Phase that our adventurers are planning to sail next session.
There’s a lead to golden apples guarded by a dragon, another to a cult seeking to bring Sorg into their lands, mention of the Steeps of Ur-Menig, not to mention the Ur-Menig to explore further, and such places as Sifoon to discover.
Oh, and we are now out of rainwater. We’ll have to see what happens to Bricks if they need to drink in the interim…