Saturday, October 25, 2014

Norwin Game Knights Event - Numenera - Into the Violet Vale

You need to make sure you are prepared with this crew!

Open Game Night

Once a month the Norwin Game Knights, a local tabletop gaming club in Western Pennsylvania, gathers to play some awesome games.  On a typical night we've got everything from Settlers of Catan to dominoes going strong in the basement of a local church.  Usually we also have a role-playing game taking place, and we've had one-shots of Savage Worlds, Basic Fantasy RPG, and Numenera over the last year.  Numenera holds a rather special place within our group though, since the very first RPG at the Norwin Game Knights was a year ago when I first brought that thick orange book to the table.  

So this month I wanted to do something special since its our RPG anniversary!  

This summer I ran two sessions of Into the Violet Vale at Gen Con 2014 and I thought I'd share this wonderful adventure with my players back home.  This rather unique adventure was written just for Gen Con.  But now that the adventure is on sale at Monte Cook Games, the cat's out of the bag.  I thought it was about time that I run a session with some of my favorite gamers (and a brand new player!) and put together a little summary of our excursion.  

A Few Things

First, let me say that there are spoilers in this adventure summary, so if you haven't played Into the Violet Vale, and you intend to, you may want to skip this section entirely.  Otherwise, feel free to read on!

Second, if this adventure seems compressed its only because I had 3 hours in which to get the game ready, introduce the system to a new player, and then run the game.  Typically at a convention you'd have four hours.  

Clockwise from bottom left: Andy, Michelle (observer, and Michael's Mom), Bobbie, me (Jim), Emily, and Michael

Cast of Characters

  • Remmi, a Graceful Nano who Talks with Machines, played by Emily
  • Benthre, a Charming Jack who Fuses Flesh with Steel, played by Michael
  • Rygax, a Mlox Jack who Sees Beyond, played by Andy
  • Daylen, a Learned Jack who Wears a Sheen of Ice, played by Bobbie

Adventure Summary

Our incredible band of numenera hunters, Remmi, Benthre, Rygax, and Daylen, had become rather renown in the Steadfast as folks who could get any job done.  While this sort of fame can be extremely useful in some situations, it can also cause unforeseen complications.  So when the four adventurers found themselves in Sharash recently, they were all dragged before the vile and evil Baron Asdren, who demanded their services.  The Baron was being plagued by a local rebellious militia called the Steel Star.  This group of guerrillas had been quite successful in disrupting trade and communication in the area around Sharash, but recently lost their edge when their leader, a "woman" named Sinter, was revealed to be an artificial life form.  Some of the rebels turned on Sinter, forcing her to flee into the wilds. 

Baron Asdren demanded that the party hunt down Sinter and bring her to Sharash alive.  The Baron was just as interested in Sinter's form and powers as he was in stopping the rebellion.  At first the numenera hunters had balked at the idea, and that was when the Baron unleashed his wicked plan: he informed each character that he had captured one of their second cousins and was holding them hostage!

When this did not have the desired effect, the Baron chirped in that he would also pay each character 200 shins!  

Long-story short, the party went out into the wilds and managed to track down Sinter.  It wasn't especially hard, since she seemed rather melancholy and disinterested in preserving her own "life."  But no matter, she was tackled and bound with a special cord that would keep her from using her full artificial strength.  

Of course this is where our story begins…

Along the trail back to Sharash the party encountered a small encampment alongside the road.  The numenera hunters were careful to keep an eye out for rebellion participants who could still be loyal to Sinter, so this camp seemed potentially dangerous.  Rygax decided that caution was necessary, and so he stealthily approached the camp.  Remmi, the problem-child that she was, preferred to throw caution to the wind, so while her Mlox pal skulked forward she bounded behind him rather noisily.  The two reached the camp around the same time, leaving Daylen and Benthre to watch over Sinter.  

The camp seemed abandoned but only recently so.  There were three tents and a small fire at the center.  All of the tents were full of supplies, and at first there was no sign of guards or patrols.  Remmi took a look around the camp's perimeter and instantly became the 9th World's greatest detective (Emily rolled a 20 on an Intellect-based Perception roll).  The Graceful Nano was able to tell that there were about six humans in this area, and that recently they were attacked by something… something large.  Finding a few large footprints, she figured that the creature was a massive biped.  Remmi also found some dung, which she… tested.  

This led to several jokes about vitamin deficiencies, monster bowel regularity, and pro-biotic yogurt commercials.  It also led to Remmi chucking a piece of poo at Rygax, which got lodged in his third eye.  

Once the Activia jokes started flying Emily couldn't keep it together.  

After clearing the dung from he third eye, Rygax continued to check the tents and came across a note from a journal.  The camp belonged to the rebels, and some of those that were loyal to Sinter were preparing an ambush on the bounty hunters that had captured her (the adventuring party).  Rygax read this aloud, and once Sinter heard it, she took off towards the trees.  

Nows a good time to discuss the foliage surrounding the camp. There were two distinct types of plants that grew in this area, both in great number.  First were the great fern trees, that stood between twenty and forty feet high.  These were typical for the region.  But the other plants were not.  Strange purple plants, about waist high at most.  Daylen, the party's botanist, was going to get a chance to get a good look at these plants very soon since she was the one chasing Sinter.  The artificial woman got free of Benthre and charged right into a grove of the purple plants.  Benthre took off after her, but stumbled when trying to run up a hillside, so Daylen used the fallen jack as a springboard and continued bounding after Sinter.  

Here is where things got… weird.

The rest of the party followed in the direction that Sinter and Daylen traveled, but by the time they found the trail, it seemed to be four hours old.  Eventually they came across the Learned Jack and her quarry; Daylen had used the cable and a nearby fern to cause Sinter to stumble.  But when the team turned it appeared that the clearing the party just entered was actually twenty miles away from the camp they just left seconds ago.  Searching the area, the only sign of interest was the corpse of one of the rebels, sticking out from beneath a bush.  It looked like the rebel's head had been crushed just an hour beforehand by something large… possibly the poo-dropping sixteen foot tall monster.  The team was going to pick the pockets of the dead man when they heard a thumping.  Remmi turned north and saw a misty, nearly ethereal creature moving towards the team!

Rygax ordered the numenera hunters to move, and started running east.  Going through a dense part of the forest, the party exited the ferns and it became night.  Another shocking change in time became even more strange and alien when Daylen came across the decaying and worm-eaten body of the rebel they saw just a few minutes before.  At least three weeks had to have passed for the body to be in that condition.

Andy's seen a lot of stuff in Numenera, but he's never experienced the craziness of the Violet Vale!

Something was warping space and time, and Daylen had a pretty good idea what it was.  Given that the purple plants seemed to have an alien origin, and that they were warping the gravity fields of the native ferns around them, she deduced that they were the cause of the time-jumping.  But then the booming footprints started up again.  The "Pale Stalker" found the team again, and again Rygax shouted "run!"  

The numenerians ran for twenty minutes, at least until they stopped hearing the thunderous footsteps of the creature.  But they had to stop abruptly when they ran right into a sheer cliff-face.  The Black Riage lay before the team, the mountain range that was previously thirty or more miles away was now blocking their path!  There were some plants on the ground of another color here, this time yellow.  Benthre felt compelled to check one, and when it "poofed" in his face, he panicked but was able to get the weird substance off.  Daylen identified the plants as "Shrill Blooms" and kept a few… just in case.  

There wasn't anything else of interest at the bottom of the cliff.  Stumped the team looked at each other and shook their heads.  And then a light voice spoke up in Remmi's mind.  Sinter felt that she had a connection of sorts with the nano who could converse with machine-kind, and she requested that the party give her some trust.  Sinter offered to aid the party in their quest to get free of the Violet Vale so long as they free her from her bindings.  Nothing else seemed to be on the table, so the team agreed and let Sinter free. 

Traveling along the side of the mountain face, it wasn't long until time and space jumped again, and rather than a cliff there was a massive ivory tower.  The front of the tower was guarded by two brutish looking creatures wielding clubs.  Taking this as an opportunity to use his charm, Benthre's mechanical form strutted forward and he started talking with the creatures.  The jack spent a few minutes talking until he realized that he wasn't getting anywhere.  It was about that time that the doors opened and a female form came out from inside the tower.  She introduced herself as Lady Weiss, and she welcomed the party to the Violet Vale.

Upon some questioning, the Lady admitted that she had a way out of the Vale but that she would want something in return for the trouble of using her special device.  The head of the Pale Stalker is what she sought, claiming that the creature was troublesome and had harmed her other creations on occasion.  The numenera hunters agreed to the trade and set off to slay the misty predator once and for all!

Dry erase markers and ceramic tiles - perfect to sketch out the encounter scene!
Ambushing the Pale Stalker ended up being fairly easy for the team.  Daylen was able to launch several arrows at the creature as it charged them, and before it could reach the team Remmi commanded Sinter to start striking.  Actually, Sinter's heavy fist would end up causing the beast quite a bit of damage… the Steel Star leader was quite the soldier!  The creature had a hard time landing a claw on any one of the characters, they were just that good!  Benthre's crushing mace unbalanced the beast while Rygax's arrows pierced flesh and tore tendons and muscle.  Eventually the Pale Stalker would collapse… the nightmarish creature was nothing more than a paper tiger in the face of this amazing troupe of hunters.

Lady Weiss was good on her word, and used her device, a teleportation platform, to send the party on to Sharash.  From there, the team would need to decide on whether or not they would join Sinter and those few forces who remained loyal to her, or of they would turn her over to the Baron Asdren.

Oh what a night!

Quotes from the Table

"So who's my Jude Law in all of this?" - Emily felt like her character was a Sherlock Holmes type.  

"Okay, diplomacy sounds like the perfect thing to do with a giant monster…" - Andy wasn't certain that Emily's idea to give the Pale Stalker a warm hug would be beneficial to the party.

Andy: "Let's run sideways." 
Emily: "Like a crab?" 

"I kind of want my second cousin over Sinter." - Michael

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