Sunday, October 4, 2015

Cypher System Fantasy - Ardeyn - Session 4



It's been over a month since our last Cypher Fantasy game… too long, I know.  Even so, we almost missed this week's game since I was sick on Tuesday and had to push the game to Thursday.  Unfortunately this meant that two of our players, Craig and Andreas, couldn't make it… but at least we played.

It's been kind of crazy over the last few weeks here in Jim Land, so this game summary is a bit different from my last few.  I'll be blending my "behind the scenes" notes into a brief adventure summary.  

You've been warned.

Living 4 Crits Presents

Cypher System Fantasy Campaign

Ardeyn: Land of the Curse


Cast

  • Sister Sariety, a Charming Speaker who Works Miracles, played by Frank
  • Zamani, a Spiritual (Ugallu*) Explorer (Magic) who Masters Foot and Fist**, played by Andy
  • Shenuesh, a Graceful Adept (Combat) who Wields Two Weapons at Once, played by Jeremy
  • Verren, a Spectral*** Adept who Casts Spells, played by Marc
* Ugallu is a race option from Broken Immersion by Ryan Chaddock Games
** Masters Foot and Fist is from Worlds Numberless and Strange by Monte Cook Games
*** Spectral is a new and original focus written by Marc Plourde and featured on his blog, Inspiration Strikes

Episode 4: Glitch


It only took a few days for the adventuring party to complete their dream patrol, and the last hours of the mission were certainly much quieter than their first.  No more creepy children, no fleshy demons, and certainly no more necromancers…

… at this point the three they were dealing with were more than enough!

Figuring that it was time to collect their 300 crowns from the Citadel Hazurrium, but knowing that they planned to return to Trazzoek for some additional dark and dangerous work, the party agreed to split up.  Milja and Yaren would travel back to the Citadel to collect the cash while Sister Sariety, Zamani, Shenuesh, and Verren the undead mage would seek out Trazzoek.  

[It's pretty obvious that I needed a reason to explain Craig and Andreas' absence during this gaming session.  I could've had their characters float into the background, but I hate doing that.  This made more sense.]

Finding Trazzoek was easier than expected, in fact he showed up just a few mile down the party's path.  The strange, and dark necromancer greeted the group, with a distinct interest in Verren.  Trazzoek toyed with the Spectral Adept, and danced around his knowledge of Verren's origin.  

"There's something about you that is very… familiar," Trazzoek stated, a wry smile on his face.

Trazzoek insisted that the party take part in their next "journey", a mission to clear Catacomb 1000 of a Dream Patrol by another band of mercenaries.  Verren questioned Trazzoek as to why he wanted the additional rune-carved skulls, and what he would be doing, but the necromancer was cryptic and just plain weird.  

[Cryptic... get it?]

Trazzoek seemed more interested in making tea and coffee by a fire than communicating clearly with the adept.  Trazzoek spoke of his plans, and his goal to save the soul of "Ralli", one of his apprentices who lost half her "life" to an entity on the other side of the living.  Verren couldn't figure out how the skulls could possibly assist in this kind of ritual, but when he noticed that Memnosh, Trazzoek's other apprentice, seemed displeased with his master, the information was conveyed to the rest of the group.  

Despite appearing insincere, Zamani was able to convince Memnosh to accompany them on the next leg of their adventure.  Trazzoek was fine with this arrangement.

[At this point in the adventure I realized that we hadn't really had a significant GM Intrusion.  Come to think of it, I don't think there were 'any' GMI's yet.  Although the Cypher System Rulebook has a bunch of examples for GMI's I tend to come up with them on the fly.  Usually when a player announces an action, I try to think of something I can twist.  In this last scene, Andy missed his roll to convince Memnosh, and I offered the GMI.  When Andy took it, I decided to alter Memnosh's personality and make it very,  very annoying.  I turned him into a raging-emo, Napoleon Dynamite emulating NPC... gosh!]

During the walk to Catacomb 1000, where Trazzoek had alluded that a team of lizard-humanoid mercenaries were on patrol, the  party pressed Memnosh for information.  After several very painful hours of conversation with the depressing and mopey teenage-necromancer-in-training, the party was able to uncover the following pieces of information:


  • Memnosh was lured into his apprenticeship by Trazzoek on the promise that they would save the teen's enslaved siblings.
  • After two years of service, Trazzoek had never fulfilled his promise, but continued to say that the day would come.
  • Memnosh fell in love with Trazzoek's other apprentice, Ralli, during their training.

Convinced that Trazzoek's plans for the rune carved skulls, including his own, would be devastating to the entrapped souls, Verren  wanted nothing to do with aiding the necromancer's plan.  Rather than proceed to Catacomb 1000, the party asked Memnosh to take them to Ralli instead, so that they could examine the half-dead girl.  Zamani promised Memnosh that they would help save his siblings from bondage in return.  

Memnosh agreed, and took the team of adventurers to a quiet cabin in the woods to the south.

When the party opened the door they found, standing in the middle of the sparsely furnished room, the half-dead necromancer's apprentice, Ralli.  The girl stood there, head down, radiating some kind of strange aura that Zamani believed to be a defensive ward.  Hoping that he would have some kind of connection to this undead, Verren approached.  From the look and appearance of the girl, and the strange "necromagicks" emanating from her form, Verren could tell that there was something on the "other side" of life and death clinging to Ralli.  Nothing that Trazzoek did could aid in bringing her back, rather, it could only push her further to unlife... or worse, bring something terrible into the world of Ardeyn.    

Verren called out to Ralli, only to see a terrible face appear... the face of his long dead associate Krad.

"Brother, I've missed you," Ralli said in Krad's deep voice.  

Pressured to talk with Ralli, Memnosh was dragged forward.  This time, the face of his sister appeared... Ana.  Clearly Ralli had become a conduit to the land of the dead, and so that meant...

... Memnosh freaked out!  

Hoping that her healing touch could help, Sister Sariety stepped forward.  Carefully, the woman laid her hands on Ralli, and the girl immediately started to appear and reappear, first above the floor, and then halfway into the floor with her legs sticking out somewhere else in the room.  Back and forth, back and forth as the sister pressed her hands into the acolyte's cold flesh.

[Please refer to the title of this session.]

At the end of the ritual Sister Sariety was exhausted, but her energies had freed the girl from whatever was holding her on the other side.

"Behold the miracle!" Sister Sariety declared.

The party asked Ralli what she remembered, and it was very little.  She was camping around a glowing blue crystal near Shalmarn, along with Trazzoek and Memnosh.  The three would soon be entering a very dangerous crypt.  That was it.  

Memnosh took this opportunity to tell his "love" how he felt.  "You don't need Trazzoek... all you need is me."

Ralli's face scrunched.  "Eww," she groaned.

That's when the party heard the slow clap.  

It was Trazzoek!  The necromancer arrived flanked by a pair of zombie ogres.  

[I used The Strange Bestiary for the Necromancer stats (level 5) and then upgraded the zombies out of the Cypher System Rulebook from level 3 to level 4.]

"This is bullshit!" Trazzoek screamed, just before Verren blasted him with a spell.

The battle with Trazzoek and his minions was fairly defensive.  The party had a very hard time hitting the necromancer with their attacks, and they focused on the zombies before going after Trazoek.  Memnosh was prompted to try controlling one of the zombies, which he did, albeit briefly.  Shennuesh kept Trazzoek out of action with a rage gas cypher, causing him to go after one of the zombies while the party attacked from a distance.  Sister Sariety focused on encouragement.   

[The only one rolling well during the fight, at least at first, was Andy.  For the first few rounds Zamani was the only character connecting any attacks.  I don't remember if Verren even hit at all, to be honest.  Shennuesh jumped into action later in the fight as well.]

When he realized he couldn't win, Trazzoek started to beg and plead for his life, but the party wouldn't have it.  Zamani landed the killing blow and that was that.  The team offered to take Ralli back to the Citadel Hazurrium and made no plans for raiding any other rune-carved skulls from the catacomb.  

[I had plotted out two "paths" for this adventure: one that would lead to the Catacombs and the other that would go to the cabin in the woods.  If the party had approached Catacomb 1000, they would've come across a very affable group of lizardfolk mercenaries just doing their job and enjoying some fine folk music.  Dispatching the lizardfolk would've been cruel, but in hindsight I could see Shennuesh tearing them up.  After dealing with the lizardfolk, either peacefully or with violence, the encounter with Trazzoek would've occurred outside the wall Catacomb, but before he had the rune-carved skulls.]



Quotes



"He's from PETS.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Skulls." - Jeremy

"This is a lengthy on the job interview." - Marc describing the party's weird relationship with Trazzoek.

"I don't know if you've heard… but I'm the wizard of the party." - Andy gave up and just became the wizard of the party.

"It's not your skull its MY skull!" - Marc's words were quite true.

"So it's like 'Bachelor' for skulls." - Jeremy

Frank - "You have necromancy knowledge?"
Andy - "Yes."
Frank - "And you're confused about why we think you are a wizard?"

"I don't think I can deal with an emo necromancer?" - Marc

"Does Jeremy really need to be more aggressive?" - Marc, although the rest of the party was thinking the same thing.