25 January 2007

Plans, Counter Plans and a Change of Plans

Best session yet, by some margin. There was a lot going on and I'm sure I missed half of it because at any one time the group were generally split: in character conversations, plotting and conniving between PCs were commonly in parallel to others working with the GM elsewhere in game.


After Zeff had stormed out, the others at the table were treated to Col outlining an outlandish plan to steal the Trebezond, involving flaming swords, dressing up as dead gods, tarring and feathering people and much more. It was enough to drive even Adenaar to drink (with a little prompting from Kelvin) but Col spun his ideas as a weaver works a loom and had both Kelvin and Adenaar - and, indeed, Kasmin - convinced by the time he was done, along with roles assigned for the act itself. Adenaar had too much to drink (it was his first exposure to alcohol) and wandered off, failing to make it home and with no memory of anything that happened after he left the inn and only a hazy recollection of the plan.

Zeff, meanwhile, had been taking Kasmin's words to heart. After storming around the city to work off his rage - being called simple (whilst true) was too much insult for him to take - he decided he had to show everyone that he could think and act for himself. Earlier that day he had, by accident, discovered that his channeling could make him intangible - he had been running from the Sky Cities guards after pilfering the "zapper" when his powers took him through a wall instead of up it - and he figured that this would make getting onto the Trebezond a simple task. If he could walk through walls then how could anyone stop him?

By midnight he'd made his way over to the docks; once there he began his rhythmic "dance" and tried to replicate the feeling he'd had earlier. It worked. Zeff brazenly approached the guards on the walkways around the tent under which the ship was being constructed; when commanded to stop and show ID he just continued on.... through the guard. Convinced now, Zeff moved on and into the tent, then up onto the deck, pausing only to taunt and "scare" - the guards had named him a ghost so he played on it a little. He was attracting a lot of attention, but none of the guards could touch or impede him (equally Zeff could not harm them even had he wanted to); one did wave a doll, wailing about spirits and, in an effort to perhaps lose some attention, Zeff "fell" through the floor onto a lower deck. The aim had been to look around the ship, but no-one was working at this time and below decks no lamps were lit; not being able to see in the blackness Zeff called it a night, resolving to get himself a reliable light source and come back another night.

Next day; Col went to "work" on the Trebezond and found rumours circulating about ghostly presences the night before. Intuitively he talked them up, stirring the pot and encouraging the sense of fear and uncertainty that accompanied the unexplained, serendipitously they fit well with the ideas he had for causing fear and confusion at the launch party, especially as Zeff's rather peasantry appearance had already been exaggerated over the early hours to a likeness of the god encased below - complete with flaming sword. Kelvin spent the day in his workshop, working on a substance to recreate flaming swords in actuality - it was integral to Col's plan, after all. Adenaar turned up late to his teaching appointment: he had committed himself to teaching the squad of widowmakers. Hungover and unsure of his last few hours he bungled through the lesson in constant need of water and a clearer head. It was as the class ended that Zeff happened by - commenting on Adenaar's lack of wellbeing and wondering what had happened the night before. They walked and talked - about plans, Col and what to do about the Trebezond. Zeff told Adenaar about his late-night visit, and the latter counselled against an immediate return or trying to destroy the ship where it was but could sense that caution was not (entirely) sinking in.

They went in search of Kelvin and found him in the pub that evening; Zeff was trying to talk the alchemist into providing him with some of his more explosive or flammable creations but Kelvin was having none of it. He did, however, show the two of them his way of recreating the flaming sword effect - by lighting Adenaar's knife in the middle of the pub. Col happened by by the end of his shift (and a date with Captain Winter, one of the widowmakers to have been with them in the underfaust) and heard from Adenaar about Zeff's escapade the previous night (Zeff himself had nipped out when Col appeared) and was immediately struck with questions. Kelvin, meanwhile had another new idea, utilizing the explosive power of cowshit and ran off to "play" whilst before Col could ask Zeff anything Adenaar's revelations about the speaking stone (he'd just clicked that it was now speaking his language) prompted a more urgent trip. Col and Adenaar headed off to the Opera House to see the priestess who, it turned out, was Col's daughter. Much hypothesizing on Skygarden and dragons followed, but it was determined that the dragons were being sent from the future somehow, the stone could sense the temporal distortions. By the time the conversation had run its course and Adenaar went off to the restaurant to work his shift (sweeping up at the end of the day), Col had returned to the pub as he hoped to catch Zeff to ask him about the previous night, but the latter had retired for the night, heeding Adenaar's advice that a quiet night on the ship would stoke fears and uncertainty more than a repeat appearance.

The day dawned with Col again going to work on the Trebezond, but managing to fit in meetings with sundry others with whom he called in favours in order to prepare his plan for stealing the huge ship. Adenaar was much better prepared for his class this time, and recaptured the faith of those that showed, though he was visited by Whitehands who revealed that the Council of Surtur's Throne did not actually know what the Trebezond was for; Whitehands had apparently argued against working with the Sky Cities to build it, but the other council members had overruled him. Kelvin was again in his workshop, this time working on smoke bombs; Zeff was hanging around him like a bad smell (in the hope of getting the chance to lift something explosive without Kelvin noticing, given the alchemist's refusal to give Zeff anything) and getting in the way. Kelvin sent the boy out to get lunch, and in the time he was gone worked unfettered and perfected the smoke devices.

Zeff returned and showed enough interest in Kelvin's work to convince the older man to show him his explosives; Kelvin demonstrated the power of the "fertilizer bomb" he'd manufactured from manure. Further prodding convinced Kelvin to refine the mixture - it was too liquid to transport easily, and the alchemist worked on a drier form, essentially creating a very powerful bomb in his old leather pack. Kelvin was very edgy about this creation, not at all sure of its safety but Zeff has never seen any of Kelvin's creations fail and with the confidence that can only come from youth and stupidity gladly took possession of his tool - his aim to secrete it on the Trebezond that night and find some way to detonate it; from the scaled down tests Kelvin had demonstrated, the pack contained enough oomph to cripple the ship. Kelvin had run from the scene to the pub and was drinking heavily. Zeff had wandered back and, unconcerned, had just stashed the bomb in his room in the inn; when Kelvin realised this he went white and tried to counteract the "danger" by taking the pack an immersing it in water - but Zeff dogged his every step and his hectic, fidgety nagging combined with Kelvin's worst-case brain working overtime spooked the alchemist who simply handed over the pack and ran off into the night. Zeff shrugged, went to store the pack again, and descended to find Col and then Adenaar in the bar.

Col asked Zeff about his intangibility and whether he could use it on others but Zeff wasn't sure; all his powers are derived from instinct and feeling (as far as he is consciously aware) and he'd never used them on anyone else. Besides, trust in Col was running low and Zeff still did not know the details of the man's plan, having put his efforts into his own. Zeff was waiting for midnight as he planned to pilfer a lantern, take the bomb and load it onto the Trebezond that night, before finding some way to set it off. Adennar, on his arrival, sensed that Zeff would not wait; he also bore news (from the speaking stone) that more temporal incusions had happened beneath the city. Specifically it reported that 24 dragons ( or rather eggs) had appeared in the underfaust. He made a case for advancing the theft: they could no longer afford to wait for the launch party, he said, and somehow he made Col believe him. They would act that night if the ship would fly, and Col estimated that it would.

Final preparations were hastily made: Col dragged Zeff with him to clue in his crew (Col's vessel had a part to play later in the piece) whilst Adenaar went to track down Kelvin and convince him to take part. They would meet back in the pub at midnight and proceed from there.


And there we left it, on the verge of major happenings. The combination of rushed and incomplete plans, a (presumed) super-bomb in the hands of an overconfident and headstrong simpleton, the forthcoming theft of a major artifact and the unknown threat of dragons beneath the city is one hell of a setup for next time but, whilst that gives good potential for action and events next session what really made this session for me was the fact the characters really came to life.

It was the second game that all four players had been present and it showed, with a marked improvement in flow compared to the last one and characters tripping off each other now a degree of consistency was there. I think all 6 possible pairings of characters shared moments, and there were moments with groups of 3 whilst one was doing stuff with the GM too. Personalities and outlooks really came to the fore and there was real verve to the interactions and schemes. Adenaar's straight-faced truthfulness showed up Col's flashy untruths and Zeff's unthinking impulse. Zeff's impetuosity and impulsiveness were at stark contrast to Kelvin's caution and I particularly enjoyed the interplays between the two in context of the backpack bomb. Col's exuberance and embellishment won over doubters, yet he was himself implored (by the NPC Kasmin) to look at how he treated Zeff in light of their frosty relationship. All in all this session provided everything: big personal decisions and milestones, provocation of self-examination and whilst there was no overt action there was always something going on and it all felt part of an inevitable crescendo.

In short: the game has started to really fulfill the potential I saw in the group of PCs, and that rocks.

No comments: