Thursday, 11 November 2010

Chapter: Point of Catastrophe, part I

Chapter Two of the Black Spear

Galder Fjord, near Caernfarena Abbey

Cast: Master Galan, Master van Saar, Master Bansl, and introducing: Toadface. Also as NPCs: William Blackstaff, Master Octavian, Brother Osberth, and Brig. Gen. Bothwell.

The following takes place between 23 and 24 Octavum, YE 1022.

Last time the heroes discovered the true might of the OUT navy, and were forced to flee.

When the Pius landed in Armac bay, off the Pendrellian western coast, the lookout spotted a small skiff laying in the bay. As soon as the Pius settled on the water, the skiff set sail and came towards the magicians. William Blackstaff was quickly recognised as one of the three aboard the smaller vessel. He looked to be pale and harassed.

He soon came aboard, and could tell that the Queen of Stars had sent a terrible demon after him, to get his staff, the Black Staff of Argos. The demon had nearly succeeded, and William had barely survived this encounter. He further advised the cabal to go north, to Caernfarena Abbey. On the question why, he said that there they would meet new friends. More than that he could not say. He also asked the cabal to take a man aboard.

This new man, a large and ugly fellow, looked a little like an ogre and introduced himself as Toadface. The cabal found this new acquaintance extremely fascinating, and spent some time getting to know him. Apparently he came from Bigwoods, a location he could not put on a map - this frustrated the masters greatly. He claimed to be able to talk to a turtle, and great wisdoms that his grandmother had taught him. As for a name, his grandma had told him that no one should know his real name, and so she had never told him.

from  In this time, Octavian, the cabal's old friend, called on the cabal. In the telepathic conference that followed, he could tell that the First Amalgam had discovered the nature of the disappearances along the Pendrellian coast. It had cost the life of two of its members, but they had discovered that flying vessels from the OUT were behind it all. Octavian was informed of the ADMIRAL VORTIGERN, something that disturbed him greatly.

After an argument over what course to set, the cabal agreed to follow William's request and sail to Caernfarena. While the magicians argued, Commander Spearhawk set sail for the north, on the captain's orders. Once an agreement had been reached, the Pius teleported to the Abbey.

There the heroes were met on shore by two Black Friars, both wearing warswords and advanced revolving pistols. The younger of the two also carried a very sophisticated longarm. Once they met Brother Osberth, the abbot, he proved to be very knowledgeable about the Thulists, but he would not disclose how and why his brethren carried such futuristic equipment. He did promise that everything would be explained after Vespers, when someone would be there to talk to them.

Vespers, something that Toadface could not wait to experience, enraptured the magicians. When the choir sang, it was like the souls of those who listened became filled by the light of creation. Only van Saar remained sceptical to what he called, "primitive occult practices."

After this, the magicians were introduced to a short and pugnacious fellow wearing what could only be described as blue uniform. This character, one Brig. Gen. Bothwell, was said to command the forces of the Commonwealth of Man on Argos. He cheerfully suggested that the abbot pour some of his famous brew, and that they all had a good, long chat.

Amongst the things that were discussed were the strategical situation on Argos. The problem, the general said, was that the only route into the world was through an eye in the Æther-storm that surrounds Argos. This storm was, according to Brother Osberth, the Dreamshell created by Morpheus. The Eye is not only a hazard for the Commonwealth's ships, but also held by two ships just like the one guarding the Waymar Islands. Further, the general suggested that if the Pius Cabal could provoke the ships stationed in the Eye to leave their station, the Commonwealth navy could make the passage and then pound the bastards out of the sky.

After this talk, the magicians were given a demonstration of their new friend's toys. They fired rifles and automatic cannons, and inspected the general's ship, the Bounder. Master Bansl used this knowledge to forge a similar cannon to be mounted in the bow of the Pius.

Now the wizards sat down to plan their assault on ADMIRAL VORTIGERN. Their goal was to destroy it, thus drawing the other two in. Although a simple enough plan, it still needed preparation to minimise the possibility of defeat. After long deliberations, they decided to use the same plan as last time, with the addition of breaching the hull of the great battle-ship. This they proposed to do by forging a projectile to be fired from Bansl's new cannon. This projectile only had to penetrate the enemy's hull. Galan, Master of Space, would then use the missile to establish an Arcane connection, and a boarding-party would be teleported aboard the enemy. Once aboard, the heroes reckoned, even OUT-forces would be able to withstand the might of a war-cabal.

Toadface now asked whether his gauntlet could be of any use. Van Saar almost ended up insisting that it be thrown into the Bansl Apparatus and used to forge the magical missile. Not wanting to sacrifice his heirloom, Toadface proved less than enthusiastic about the proposition. So after a round of debate, the choice fell on the sword recovered fro the OUT scientist on the Dark Continent. Deicide was placed in the Bansl Apparatus, and the masters wrought powerful spells into the ritual. Content with their work, the order was given to take the Pius into combat.

When the ship teleported into the air, high above the Western Isles, the three of the Reaver-wings started to climb, while the rest moved to form a formation above between the enemy's main base and the city of Freeport. The magicians immediately opened fire with the heaviest spells they knew. They quickly discovered that the Reavers were capable of taking a deal of punishment before being destroyed. Rather than blow the OUT vessels out of the sky, they had to hammer them with a prolonged magical barrage. Eventually they managed to shoot the closest wing down, but the other two retreated to form up with the rest.

ADMIRAL VORTIGERN did not enter the scene.

And so this chapter ended with a cliffhanger.

Storyteller's note: Before this session I had actually written down and prepared each scene. This is something I usually never do, but as a link in my GM-awareness project, I decided to try something new. I'm quite satisfied, as the players ended up at least somewhere close to where I wanted them, although there are a couple of scenes that didn't get used. It really is like herding cats.

I used this session planning template posted on Gnome Stew, and I think I liked it enough to give it another go.

I must also say that the players went about tonight's actions with a good eye towards the strategic picture. For a wile now, they've had a tendency to either invoke greater powers, elves, dragons, spirits, etc., or to make a full frontal assault. I'm no longer that afraid that I'll have to kill them ;)

We also had a new player join the group. The grand total now is up to seven, but so far we've never had more than five at the table. Even if the group is mostly aboard a ship that travels far and wide, the magical nature of the ship has now become so established that I can have people coming and going without it being too weird. Also, now there's enough players that there's always someone to curtail the long ramblings of the masters.

[Picture source: Fotoviva]


  1. Talking to turtles, holy singing, beer and new weapons. Sounds like they had a good time- and they didn't APPEAR to get into trouble... =)

  2. No trouble as such, no, but it'll be exciting to see how they proceed once the battle begins in earnest.