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In Progress Torment on the Shards, Part 36 - Planescape-inspired CYOA

Discussion in 'Choose Your Own Adventure Land' started by Lithium Flower, Dec 8, 2016.

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  1. Storyfag Arcane

    Storyfag
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    A1 A4
     
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  2. hello friend Arcane

    hello friend
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    I'm on an actual spaceship. No joke.
    A1
    A4
     
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  3. Lithium Flower Prophet

    Lithium Flower
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    Hello.

    In the last few months I concentrated on successfully finishing the PnP campaign I had been running in this setting. Plus I got a new job, which is nice. Let's see if I can also finish this tale.

    As its been a while, and Codex is kind of fucky when it comes to notifications, I will tag in everyone who has contributed to the thread in some way since the last long break:

    Show Spoiler


    Story so far (if you need more info or general setting questions, feel free to ask me as always):

    Show Spoiler


    You are Strider, a herald who once made a living exploring other shards with a partner and an old friend, beholder sorcerer Whisper. Some time ago you have found yourself transported into the belly of a giant creature when trying to teleport to the Cold Shard, after which Whisper appeared to have been overcome with unspecified guilt, forcing you to flee the Shard with him still on it. He reappeared sometime during the Shard's absorption by the Deimurge and his City, but managed to avoid your numerous attempts to reconnect with him. Your separation forced you to become a freebooter, sometimes selling your services as a shardwalker and other times as a lowly mercenary.

    Around four days ago, you received a letter from Whisper, who – apparently dying and/or delirious – requested that you recover some of his belongings. Around the same time you have had a brand new gambeson...appear in your apartment while you were out, with a note suggesting that you visit a door at the end of an endless hallway in the Termitarium ward for assistance, information, and employment opportunities.

    You have successfully recovered Whisper's belongings – specifically, a fleshy sphere with changing anatomy, and a large vial of senses stored in beholder excrement - from a shack of a manus whore recently executed for miscegenation (Whisper sure kept strange bedfellows...hopefully not literally in this case). In doing so, you met a strange killer that spread chaos throughout an area of the Voidship Yards with a single murder, and were spotted by an Inquisitor's spy. You also heard alien thoughts in your head, like herald telepathy, yet with no apparent source. Fearing persecution, you moved quickly to offload the items to your sorcerer accomplice Knowns, who agreed to study Whisper's belongings in exchange for either 200 gold, or by telling him of how one feels when imbibing a potion of Freefall on the Shard of Curious Depths (Knows provided the potion and suggested that you see Veil, a magic user who hunts for portals, to find a safe portal to the Shard).

    To pay the rent, you decided to work for Lord-Foreman Steel, a notorious member of the Enterprising League, by simply accompanying him to a party at the house of his rival, Lord-Foreman Sees-It. There you reconnect with Step-There, a fellow shardwalker who has travelled wide but never far, and was a member of your final voyage to the Cold Shard with Whisper.

    The party ended in a massacre engineered by your employer, and Step-There a would-be assassin working on his behalf. Although the latter lied to you and you had almost killed him by using him as a meatshield, the two of you reconnect over your shared falls from grace.



    Despite the fact that Steel's machinations forced you to kill and lose an eye, you suck it up and shake on his part of the bargain: as much of the vault's contents as you can carry, and Steel's continued “friendship.”

    Reminder that there are now three parties that appear to have their hooks in you:
    1. A Lord-Inquisitor's spy saw you inside Seamstress' hovel, where Whisper's illegal possessions were kept.

    2. Someone broke into your previous hideout and left left behind a sketch of a door within an endless hallway, proposing that you find that place within the Termitarium ward for "assistance, information, and employment opportunities."

    3. Lord-Foreman Steel is keeping beholder memories of you killing Lady Loyalty so that you don't tell on him.
    Now that you are finally done with Steel's task, and are financially secure as a result, you have the mystery of Whisper's strange belongings to look forward to. Perhaps Knows already has some results for you?

    ---

    Part 28 – No Triumph

    You do not shake Steel's hand as much as you allow him to shake yours. The shock of the last few days still rules your mind, rendering you numb inside and out, as if everything was less real than it should be – as if you were dreaming.

    Gore joins your hands even after you've pulled yours back. You stare at the substance that stains you, pulpy fluids mixed thoroughly; your blood, Sees-It's blood, Loyalty's blood, Whisper's blood...

    “Very well. I've a bonus for you. I'm sure you are terribly interested to know the secrets of this building.”

    You are no longer certain of that. Perhaps Steel robbed you of your agency when you first met. How long have you been reduced to a mere object in his world? Still, you do not protest. You are not even angry. You simply allow Steel to take you to Sees-It's desk.

    He starts pulling out drawers and rifling through papers, but your gaze wanders almost drunkenly. The balcony looks surprisingly calming. On the other hand, the blinds complement the dull interior, thus appearing way too drab. A metal grate cover lies on the floor, betraying the means by which Steel entered the room. Above is the hole it covered, leading to some sort of ventilation system, like the kind one could see inside of...

    ---

    “...the largest airship ever made,” Steel exclaims triumphantly and shoves a bunch of papers into your hands. Claims, patents, grants. A familiar blueprint. “He had it all figured out. Made models, did tests, the works. Of course, something of this scale had no precedent and therefore had to be approved by the Auspicious Assembly. Sees-It expected that this would be a triviality, that the Officials would bend over backwards to accommodate a request from a champion of industry like him. Only, they didn't. Perhaps they were afraid of the implications. Or maybe they simply didn't care for one rich taker's ridiculously expensive toy...”

    As Steel speaks you respond with passive nods, your mind blank. These revelations should impact you somehow – and in other circumstances, perhaps they could have – but right now they are nothing but a story to you, something dead.

    How much time did you spend listening to Steel? How much time did you spend in this building? Two days or ten months?

    “...but as you saw outside, he's got the smallest airship, too,” Steel continues, “so he was clearly obsessed. He couldn't take refusal, oh no. He was a taker, after all, if only a very shit one. So he did the next best thing. He took the design, turned it upside-down...”

    ...and stuck it in the Gambit Badlands. Right here, on this spot.

    “Precisely,” Steel leans in and whispers theatrically, “as if he was raising a fist towards Heartisle. Oh, to think he lingered so on his obsession only to be shot in the back by the person he most certainly despised. I'm sorry, am I...boring you? I thought you would be interested in this.”

    The herald lost enthusiasm after noticing the lack of your own. You shrug and turn away. The sofa is draped with red velvet...

    ---

    The garden is a tunnel. You gingerly run your fingers across the surface of the bandage covering your empty left eye socket. It will take you precious time to get used to this.

    You can just barely make out that the garden's walls slope inwards slightly, now that you are aware of that fact. This must be the reason why the design had to flipped on its head – an inverted pyramid wouldn't do a very good job standing upright. The sloping would be most noticeable in the central “garden”, which would explain why Sees-It tried to cover it up with all the foliage.

    The airship had been moved off its platform, though you have no idea by whom or how. Steel and yourself approach the exposed marble slab. One of its edges looks cracked, almost melted, exposing some sort of internal mechanism.

    “Remember yesterday's storm? Lightning precisely struck the lock. Just our luck.”

    To think that takers are still tolerated when their powers resemble the Trickster's.

    Steel clears away the ruined marble with the head of a crowbar he brought with him, then thrusts it under the exposed latch and pulls it up. The entire marble cover lifts with ease, as if it is much lighter than it looks.

    “Behold, the fourth floor,” Steel's raspy voice is coloured with satisfaction, “little did Lady Loyalty know that, serving as the mance's foundation, it became a basement. Or, more accurately, a sub-level.”

    The cover swings on a hinge until it is completely open completely, revealing a large descending staircase. You squint into the darkness below. Actually, it is two staircases, and a smooth slope between them – probably to make the transportation of boxes and such easier.

    The tired herald removes a pocket-watch from his waistcoat and sighs, almost sadly.

    “I expect you to see yourself out in thirty minutes. That should be enough time to fill your pockets, no? As per our agreement, if you need something – a job, a favour, good company – you may look me up. I am not a hard herald to find,” Steel says and later, as he is walking away from you, he calls out, “oh, do cheer up! You may have lost a great deal, Strider, but the others lost much more – that should be enough to feel triumphant, I think!”

    You look back on your hands, which are no longer smeared with gore. Steel gave you the liberty of washing yourself, but you don't feel clean. Whatever stains you still is no triumph.

    Your hand reaches for the railing but your eye misjudges the depth and you find yourself grasping nothing when you take a step forward, almost falling down the stairs. You are suddenly afraid, staring anxiously down the dark stairway as if it was some sort of obstacle or trap. Precious time...

    ---

    The sub-level lights up when you reach the bottom of the stairs, perhaps by alchemical lights that reacted to your presence. At the foot of the stairs is a pedestal on which a translucent crystal the size of your palm stands atop of a small leaflet. The latter reads:

    “THE ADJUSTER: A USER'S GUIDE
    1. Remove a spindle of wires from the base of the crystal

    2. Wrap the two wires around the object in need of adjusting, tying the ends together. Make sure the wires fit tightly around the object.

    3. Inhale stardust (single standard dose)

    4. Concentrate and visualize the desired size for the object (must be smaller – NOT LARGER – than current size!!)

    5. When ready, touch the crystal while visualizing the above. Object should adopt a new size soon afterwards

    6. Effect lasts for ten minutes. Make sure that the object is surrounded by empty space equal to or (preferably) greater than its original size prior to the termination of the effect

    7. If necessary, steps 3-5 may be repeated to prolong by effect for ten minutes per repeat
    8. For storage, carefully wrap the wires around the spindle and insert it into the base of the crystal”

    Perhaps this alchemical device was developed by Sees-It as means of transporting large objects here?

    The sub-level looks no different from the rest of the building, especially now that its interior has been revealed to be the guts of an airship that never was. There are no riches in plain sight, no ostentatious artifacts – only strange labels on every door, combinations of letters and numbers that you have no time or interest to decode. With no time to explore the entire floor, you open the very first door you see and step inside.

    The room is full of all manner of strongboxes, crates, and other containers, each labelled similarly to the doors. There are, however, some valuables in plain view: the set of furniture Lady Loyalty had gifted clutters the room and the sword-cane – Lord-Inquisitor's tribute – rests against one of the wall, presumably since these items arrived too recently to be properly stored or categorized.

    To your surprise, you also a see a large, intricate sculpture in the middle of the room. Its base is a table-sized model of Demiurge's Shard made from white marble, textured to look as if it consisted of evenly-sized bricks. This texture shifts to a hole of cracked black marble at the Shard's side. A worm-beast of deep black stone (onyx?) the length of your forearm is stuck through the hole, impaling the Shard, its surface smooth, almost slippery. You are surprised by how disgusted the sculpture makes you feel, as if this creature is tunnelling through the Shard like a smaller one would through rotting food. Yet as you examine it closer, you start noticing smaller details: the beast has a face, its maw twisted into something like a frown, and small bits of clear crystal form at its segmented eyes like tears. Its belly, partially obscured by the Shard's insides, is lined with tiny teats, almost indistinguishable from the rest of the creature if not for the smaller beasts hanging from some of them.

    Curiosity, however numbed by shock and fatigue, flares up in you and you reach for one of the smaller worm-things, carefully tracing your finger where its miniature “face” would be. You feel a sting and find a narrow scarlet line across your finger – you've cut yourself on a tiny bit of crystal. A drop of blood drips down and stains the side of the Shard. That is when you notice the small inscription at its base:

    “The Trickster and his Demon Apostles”

    You feel uneasy despite the fact that such a sculpture is not strictly illegal. Indeed, while many publications of heresies and wizardries and the like can get one killed, the image of the Trickster is not forbidden as long as it does not venerate the entity – and this particular representation is nothing but wretched and pathetic.

    You step away from the thing, having wasted enough time. You move through the containers and open them. The first you come across is a small rectangular case and when you pull off its lid, a thick envelope of unusual black leather falls out, which you quickly pocket before moving on. You find gems, silks, art, precious ores even, until finally you come across an unlocked strongbox full of gold coins.

    Besides the gold, which items do you take with you before leaving the mance for good? (choose as many as you'd like, or none at all)

    1A) Your Gambeson (worn, 1-armour, 1 weight)

    1B) Silver's Smallsword (d6, close, fast, light, 15 coin, 2 weight)

    1C) Bloodsensing Swordcane (d6, close, fast, light, 15 coin, 2 weight)
    This elegant blade is concealed in a finely-made cane and can only be drawn by the last person to deposit a drop of their own blood into a ruby-like vial in the handle.

    1D) Adjuster Crystal (150 coin, 1 weight)
    After inhaling a dose of stardust, the user is able to reduce the size of a thing in physical contact wrapped by the device's wires for ten minutes per dose.

    (You need to decide which items you are going to take with you at the expense of the amount of gold that you will be able to carry out. A 100 gold coins takes up 1 weight and your total carrying capacity is 8 weight, so if you wish to take no items with you, you may walk out with 800 coins but if you wish to take, say, your gambeson and Silver's smallsword you will only carry out 500 coins.

    The envelope is not significant in terms of weight or volume. You also get your topcoat back, which doesn't encumber you either.

    Expenses to keep in mind:

    -Rent of 70 coin, due in 2 days

    -Knows asked for 200 coin to continue researching Whisper's belonging, however you can do him a favour (take a trip to the Shard of Curious Depths and record the experience of falling there while under effects of Potion of Featherfall) instead)

    ---

    Lithium's Note:


    Ok, inventory management in CYOAs is asscancer and I understand that. So let's try it like this: an item needs at least half of the total number of votes to be taken. So if we consider that we mostly got 5 votes in the past, 3 of those would be necessary to take an item with you. Of course, I have no idea how many votes we are going to get since ELEX! just came out and people probably forgot about this story anyway, so I might adjust this later. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know.

    ---

    You plan on coming home to your place at the Voidship Yards tonight to rest there, then going to see Knows in the morning to see if he has discovered anything about Whisper's belongings. How do you consider spending the night? (choose 1)

    2A) You are in a terrible shape, both physically and mentally. First see a physician regarding the former, then some spend some coin to distract you from the latter. (costs 15 coin in total but you will improve your chances from recovering from your injuries faster)

    2B) Spend the night alone. You don't want to draw extra attention or spend more money than you have to.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2017
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  4. Lithium Flower Prophet

    Lithium Flower
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    Ooops. Accidentally hit enter and posted this too early, during editing. Forgive the title etc. Will change things in a second.

    EDIT: Post should be good now.
     
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  5. Storyfag Arcane

    Storyfag
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    You said we found gems. These should be worth more than the same weight of coins. Other than that, I'd take:
    1C the swordcane
    1D the adjuster.

    2A
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
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  6. Lithium Flower Prophet

    Lithium Flower
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    Basically the way I see it, Strider needs money he can use now and he doesn't want to be connected to this place more than he has to be, so he grabbed actual cash. If he had a contact that could act like a fence, like the Swift Bros. he would probably grab the other valuables instead.

    EDIT: although if the majority support the idea, sure. I will randomly generate value for a bunch of gems instead. Just be mindful that they might not be accepted as currency or barter items everywhere and/or you will need to find a contact that will buy them
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
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  7. baud Savant

    baud
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    I finished reading all the previous updates yesterday, just in time for your update! :positive:

    1A)
    1C) the swordcane

    2B)
     
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  8. hello friend Arcane

    hello friend
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    I'm on an actual spaceship. No joke.
    1A - We definitely need armour when we're rolling single die d6 for health.
    1C - Lithium Flower I'm assuming the swordcane isn't very recognisable? It just looks like a regular cane?
    1D
    2A
     
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  9. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
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    Codex 2012
    Cash
    Cane
    Crystal

    [EDIT]
    2A
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
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  10. Lithium Flower Prophet

    Lithium Flower
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    baud

    Welcome to the land of dissapointment

    FYI its actually d6+2. So your health ranges from 3 to 8 depending on the result of your recovery roll.

    Yeah, the sword is concealed in the cane. It doesn't look like a weapon unless drawn. that being said, it is a fancy cane, the type designed primarily to accessorize the rich rather than to aid mobility, and it does appear to have a ruby in the handle.
     
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  11. baud Savant

    baud
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    So we're either going to get mugged for it or arrested by the cops because they'll think it's been stolen?
     
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  12. Lithium Flower Prophet

    Lithium Flower
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    More likely to be the former but the latter is not out of the question.

    Its a very classist and racist world, but both isms are double edged swords. A gaudy herald is massively privileged over a poor buzzer in many circumstances, but in the Facade Ghetto? The herald isn't going to last five minutes without serious protection and/or discretion.

    Speaking of Strider's appearance (without the party getup, ofc), its poor. Not "unwashed beggar in scraps" poor but definitely "unemployed, possibly homeless" poor. The absence of a wig is something that is a massive faux-pas in high society, to the point that it alone will get you turned away from the majority of businesses in Demiurge's Plaza, but is more or less a non-issue in poorer wards. Strider will get some new threads now that his financial situation has improved, which in turn will allow him to fit in more respectable places.
     
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  13. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    1A
    1B
    1C

    2A
     
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  14. hello friend Arcane

    hello friend
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    I'm on an actual spaceship. No joke.
    I'm curious as to why you chose two swords, Grimgravy. You thinking dual wielding, or 'the right sword for the right district'?
     
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  15. Grimgravy Augur Patron

    Grimgravy
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire
    The latter. Plus the potential of being disarmed without being disarmed is nice.
     
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  16. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    1C the swordcane
    1D the adjuster

    2A

    What a wonderful clusterfuck. I dearly hope to read the post-mortem sometime, it was a great and very well thought-up setup. The Codex attempts at being detectives aren't great, are they? Still, we are alive, and the mansion didn't end up on fire. That's an improvement, right?

    I didn't get what you meant by Sees-It turning the design and turning it upside down. Can't visualize it.
     
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  17. Lithium Flower Prophet

    Lithium Flower
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    I probably could've have explained this better, but the airship was meant to be a very particular shape.

    When you were examining its blueprints:

    Basically, I should have used the term "inverted square pyramid" instead of box for clarity but I never paid attention to that class in high school.

    So the airship would've had this shape:

    [​IMG]

    For a standing structure, this isn't sound from either the aesthetic nor construction perspectives (although I guess one could build a really deep foundation like Polyhedron from the game Pathologic, but Sees-It's wealth isn't infinite, the Badlands soil is not easy to work with, and if one digs deep enough they will literally tunnel out of the bottom of the Shard and fall to the Void, so...)

    The design was flipped on its head, so the result is that the mance has this shape:
    [​IMG]

    Although the taper would be much more gentle than in the images above.

    Now, much confusion arose due to the fact that the vault is supposedly on the non-existent fourth floor of the mance, whereas in reality its in the sub-level (the base of the pyramid buried under the soil).

    Quiet told you this:

    Basically, the blueprints that the Assembly got their paws on were transitory ones. The structure in the bluperint no longer had anything that identified it as an airship but it differed from the current version of the mance.

    So why would Sees-It go through this entire ordeal to get this shitty, ugly thing made?

    Arrogance, greed, and pettiness.

    A true member of the Enterprising League would have gotten what they wanted through pure ruthlessness or sheer force of will, like Steel. Sees-It, however, acted like a spurned child. He wanted to create unprecedented shit and be known for it so when the Assembly didn't approve his idea, he decided to stick the design into the ground where people in the Plaza and Heartisle could see it. Part of the reason why the design was turned on its head and why there were copies of the original airship's blueprint framed in the guest rooms was Sees-It's desire to sneak a giant middle finger pointed at pretty much everyone, but the Assembly in particular. He would invite important guests, some members of the Assembly, and this whole time that which they denied Sees-It was literally under their nose and they never realized.

    Of course, the irony is that Sees-It's original design was remarkable in the sense it was the biggest airship ever, but the mance is completely unremarkable in every way, its just a large, ugly house. Sees-It's spite and pettiness did not ultimately lead him to accomplishing his original goals. He ended up with his second-best, which was greatly inferior from what he wanted in the first place.

    The entire conflict between Sees-It and Steel was to contrast the mentalities of Namer and Member Takers. Both individuals had a difficult goal in mind (creating the Shard's biggest airship vs going into the home of a very important person, killing them and taking all of their shit). Sees-It failed in his goal and sacrificed much effort and assets to get the second best result, which wasn't even all that impressive. On the other hand, Steel did exactly what he set out to do and managed to offload much of the sacrifice onto his pawns. The difference is that Sees-It didn't want to be a robber baron, he thought himself as somehow above that. Steel had no such qualms. He genuinely and strongly believed in Taker principles and the idea that best relationships are mutually exploitative, and the strength of his convictions translated into the strength to carry out his goal.

    Another time when the aforementioned character traits sabotaged Sees-It was when he hired the largely cosmetic guard as he thought his own sorceries to be protection enough. He also completely bought into Steel's misdirection and discounted him as a threat, thinking that he was only there to rob, due to his very low opinion of Steel and high opinion of himself.

    Fun-fact: I had NOT realized that Steel and Sees-It are names with great double-meanings very appropriate for two takers (Steal, Seize-It) when I named them. I just thought of an industrious name for the former and something to do with beholders (or their superior perception) for the latter. I realized what I've done around Part 23 or so.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2017
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  18. Storyfag Arcane

    Storyfag
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    Ok, but would the airship work when inverted? Or was that purely a cosmetic thing, to build the mance in its image?

    For the record, I completely failed to take magical proplusion into account, therefore, in my mind, the airship should have had an envelope filled with gas. If not for that short-sightedness, perhaps I would have made the connection between the plans and reality. Could you please remind us about such setting-specific differences when possible?
     
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  19. Lithium Flower Prophet

    Lithium Flower
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    It was stated to be a hybrid steam/magical propulsion system, which is pretty unprecedented as typically its one or the other. Since magical propulsion works by willing the ship into motion, the ship's shape or indeed physics are not crucial considerations. Although the more plausible it is that the ship could fly, the less willpower it takes to will it into motion, so it is still a factor. That is why technology was to be used in the ship's propulsion - its easier to believe that a ship could move when it has proper engines one can actually see, plus the machinery can pick up some slack if the pilot's will falters.

    I am not going to lie, though, I did not really consider how sensible the shape of the airship was. It was mostly a setup for the other parts of the plot, like the mystery of the vault's location.

    I will do my best. If you guys ever need more detailed information or clarification about anything, I encourage you to drop a post in the thread as well.
     
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  20. Usury Arcane

    Usury
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    1A and 1D. Also 2A. The ability to temporarily alter the size of objects might have significant... commercial applications.

    Thank you for your honesty.
     
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  21. Lithium Flower Prophet

    Lithium Flower
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    You take the gambeson, enchanted sword-cane, and the adjuster crystal with you. This means that you pocket 400 gold, plus a bonus of 27 gold I randomly generated, which brings your wealth to 472 coin. You are going to spend 15 of that tonight to help you recover and an additional 5 to buy a ticket for the transit via undead worm.

    Part 28.5 – Melancholy

    It is damn cold outside. The air is full of grit, like sandpaper in your lungs, and every gust of wind seems to bring the noxious fumes emitted by the refineries on the horizon closer to you. It is very dark; yesterday's storm brought the charcoal clouds of pollution to the manor and the faint evening light that manages to bleed through them is dim. At first you feel as if you are in a massive cave, then realize that all the broken mesas and gullies make the Badlands look more like a giant, never-ending maze.

    You slowly make it down the mance's steps with the assistance of your newly-acquired cane. It makes this descent far easier and safer than your previous one yet its presence makes you feel ever more broken, like someone old and sick and forced to use a cane for support. At the bottom of the stairs a piercing gust hits you, chilling you to the bone, and as you turn your head in order to bury the better part of your face in the raised collar of your coat you finally notice them.

    Two mani figures stand close together dozens of meters away from you, the darkness obscuring all but their silhouettes. One raises three hands and waves slowly, uncertainly. Dumbstruck, you return the gesture and watch them turn and leave.

    You do not sit down as much as you sink unto the steps. How long have they been waiting in the cold, the poor bastards, to see that you've made it out safe? What for? To see a wretched backstabber off? Death and demons, you almost got him killed! And he almost got you killed with his lies. Does either one of you deserve forgiveness?

    A bitter feeding spreads through your body, followed by the numbing cold. No, of course not. You've made your confessions in that dark room; you are cowards and thieves, lining your pockets with the coin of the dead. There isn't even any significance to your wickedness, no strength of will or character, for you simply did what you were told.

    But neither of you had a fucking choice! You were beasts in this maze, following the path that Steel wanted you to take, Steel and-

    You grasp at the lapels of your coat as if it was constricting you, sobbing inwardly as you are far too tired to do so physically. Something above shifts and the light changes, barely catching your attention. The clouds part for but a few seconds and past the thin, dimming magical atmosphere of Demiurge's Shard you make out the impossible shape of the Shard of Curious Depths. An exit...

    ---

    It is near midnight when you get back to the Voidship Yards where you find yourself restless despite your exhaustion as your melancholy drags you all over the ward, avoiding corners and alleys – difficult, as the ward's twisting inner streets make it something like a maze - and your first stop, not that you intended it to be one, is Cobbler's Market where, upon finding several struggling shops which are still open at this hour, you make a few purchases and afterwards you see a physician in Almanac Row, then cross a rickety bridge and wander the dock aimlessly before realizing that you've nearly worn out the soles of your shoes, so you knock with great lethargy on the every dockside door until you somehow locate a shoemaker and then you are back into the cold, the night, the Void staring at you where you realize that you don't want to go home - or rather to the place you rent, your room – because you are afraid that you are still in the maze, hounded by promises of food and sleep to a dead end where something terrible is going to happen to you and with that realization you reach into your coat carefully, gingerly almost, as if afraid of you might find, and place a numb hand over your heart and feel nothing, not a thing, which makes sense as your mind is also free of the apprehension you felt earlier, as if this day reduced you to nothing but a hollow thing and you are almost certain that if someone was to knock on your head or chest it would produce a loud, resonant thump characteristic of a tree with rotted insides which tells you that your concern is founded not on nerves but sound judgment, so to make your judgment less sound you stumble into the closest watering hole where you get a hot meal and too much to drink and then there is a manus with a glint in his eyes who flashes you his jacket lining and you oblige him with money and later you are walking with someone down the same dockside but there is a noise, preaching coming from a loud herald who is gesticulating, almost dancing in the light of his lamp, and shouting, “all ye who are tormented by questions, in the Demiurge you will find answers; all ye who are wanting purpose, in the Demiurge you will find purpose; all ye who are burdened with guilt, in Demiurge you will find forgiveness and salvation both,” and as you pass him you can see that his face is scarred, much like yours you suppose, and he shouts, “you there! Herald, fellow child of the Demiurge! You could use his help. Are you in mourning? I can see it in your eyes,” but you ignore him as you are going someplace but he shouts after you, “the Trickster mourns also!” and suddenly you stop, stumble almost, and for some reason your fingertips ache slightly as he continues, “he is a miserable creature, and this misery provoked him to defy the Demiurge's order. Lowliness and jealousy led him to attack that which he could not create. It is in sadness and self-pity that we become sinful. Only in faith and service to the Demiurge are we granted his mercy, his forgiveness, a salvation from our sadness, for he is the sole creator of our laws and lives, the only order to exist in the Void...” but the sermon fades away into dull pain in your temples as you suddenly feel dizzy and weak on your feet so you lean onto your companion and ask her to take you to the inn because it is so cold here and you just want to sleep

    ---

    “That's vault,” Step-There says with a strange certainty, pointing at Sees-It's silvery airship with six arms plus a tail.

    The two of you prowl across the dark garden, trying to stay out of someone's sight until you reach the small vessel.

    “That's exit,” the manus repeats, “I will get it up and running.”

    Step-There deftly climbs into the cockpit and out of sight. You follow him, climbing into the ship's interior where you find the entirety of the vault, rooms packed with valuables and all. There is also a large carpeted staircase which you climb, emerging on the top of the airship.

    “Its ready,” Whisper says in his usual quiet, deliberate tone as he fusses over a magical engine, “the ballast, please.”

    Above you is a massive balloon, the size of a bloated airbeast. The airship doesn't take off as much as it glides upwards and Demiurge's Shard gets smaller and smaller. You are suddenly mesmerized by something impossibly large – another shard – which grows even larger as you approach it until you find yourself standing on a broad, metal-reinforced wooden drawbridge connecting to it.

    “We're here,” says Whisper, who is on the drawbridge with you.

    The shard is entirely flat, its surface still and white against the blackness of the Void surrounding it. You cross the bridge together and step onto the shard finding the ground to be soft and slightly warm.

    “This place is wonderful in the same way a blank canvas is. A painter would love it here.”

    Black and white. This world feels you with serenity and calm and sadness, too. You lie down on your back though you feel as if you are on your side, slightly curled up.

    “Get up,” Whisper asks gently, tapping you with a tentacle.

    You don't want to.

    “Why not?”

    Nothing matters.

    “But you have problems to solve. Exciting new things to find.”

    Not here. Nothing matters here. You've left your guilt behind.

    The beholder above you sighs, his eyes scanning the horizon.

    “I understand how you feel. What's the point of getting up if there is nothing out there? It is much better to stay down and do nothing. To cease being, perhaps. That would certainly spare you future suffering. But...”

    Whisper slowly waves a tentacle in front of you, and the Void changes. Inky azure colour fills the black, like a drop of oil in water. Your perspective shifts and you find yourself looking down at the shard, which turns into a spot of deep purple against the blue. Your breathing quickens and you find yourself overcome with emotion.

    “...if there is nothing out there, nothing that matters, why not create something that does? I learned sorcery out of respect for people who do just that: the Demiurge, magicians, artists, parents, ordinary people. I could have stayed where I was and quietly disappeared but instead I found you. You found the time we spent together fulfilling, no? All the adventures we've had? The knowledge we gained, things we saw that no one else did?”

    Those were the best days of your life. You spent them on so many different shards, yet each bore similarity to this one.

    Gently sloped hills and mounds rise, followed by convoluted, twisting trees crowned with violet. The latter bloom like flowers, silky petals spreading to form a vast canopy. Creatures take shelter in the shadows beneath, where they make burrows in places that are warm and safe. Soon, their curious minds turn to wonder as to how their world came to be while in the blue above spots of pure white glow, mesmerizing and inspiring all who look. Awe. Curiosity. Hope.

    “Good. Now, please get up...”
     
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  22. Lithium Flower Prophet

    Lithium Flower
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2016
    Messages:
    970
    Part 29 – Collected

    Rolling... (open)

    ...three Recovery die
    Health Bonus: +2
    Constitution: +1
    Result: 5, 2, 4; You now have 8 Hitpoints!


    You startle awake.

    It takes you some time to realize that you are in the Last Meal Inn and not back at the mance. The room looks like something out of an old dream: vaguely familiar yet different from what you remember, its contents messy and strewn about, smelling of dust and...something sour. The events of the past few days, too, feel like a dream and do not even occur to you until your own twisted reflection – fresh bandages, ruined face – forces itself upon you in room's tiny, cracked mirror.

    Your anxiety is largely gone, replaced with your usual curiosity. A single question, specifically: what exactly happened last night? There is a heap of things on the floor by the bed, perhaps the result of your shopping spree. Without even bothering to dress you crouch down and begin examining them:

    Gray trousers, wool flannel. Durable, probably inexpensive. The fabric is thick, but wool breathes – like your coat, these trousers will keep you warm at night and cool in the day. Useful for walking the Yards (or the Shards, for that matter.)

    A few sets of new shirts, undergarments, socks...

    Between them, a small leather eyepatch.

    A wool formal coat in midnight blue – almost black - with matching trousers. The fabric is fine but not too fine, the garment is definitely not new. You remember noticing something like this in a thrift store a week ago. These clothes are out of fashion but conservative enough as to be inoffensive in most places where such things matter. Something for the Plaza, perhaps? Or another party...

    Underneath, a long, black, asymmetrical wig, bangs covering the left side of the face almost entirely. It is very cheap and stiff, almost unpleasant to the touch, which should work well for the purposes of covering up the eyepatch.

    Overall, surprisingly rational purchasing decisions, which is is an assessment that you fear will be reversed the second you take a look at the bed, which is now clearly the source of the stench. You pull back the covers to find the pillows and mattress to be covered with red hairs...now you are starting to remember the herald whose company you've purchased last night and her cheap scarlet wig. Clearly, your debauchery did not stop there, as the chamberpot – by the bed as opposed to underneath where it should be – is caked with dried food and bile. You must have vomited into it last night. It is unusual that you do not have a headache, what with all the drinking you must have done. Perhaps fatigue trumped inebriation that one night?

    A glimmer behind the chamberpot interrupts your musings. You reach for it and almost cut yourself on broken glass. A small vial – alchemical, you fear – lies shattered. You can think of only one substance that could have been in there: stardust. Perhaps this can explain the queer dream you've had? You must have been very drunk to have brought this here.

    Stardust comes from the Void. It is known that the Void, for all its nothingness, is filled with dormant energies of creation that come alive whenever something – like belief – awakens them. That is how a powerful idea can literally reshape the physical world. There is no order in the Void, however, so when these forces are trapped there, they corrupt everything they touch with chaotic growths. A tumor is a kind of life, after all, one that grows with no control. At times forces of creation crystallize into starstones – great glimmering rocks, hurtling towards Shards and crashing onto their surfaces. Starstones transmit much of this chaotic, unstructured energy and can turn anything into an abomination within minutes of exposure, and are thus strictly illegal as are any Void-wraped items, which can sometimes transmit their wrongness to other things.

    Pieces of starstones small enough to carry are called starshards, and some are ground into stardust. Both are used as magical catalysts, as the raw power contained within is enough to empower most magic, but the latter also double as potent hallucinogenics when inhaled. Stardust has a sufficiently low concentration of creation in it that it won't corrupt you without repeated and frequent use, but it is still an illegal substance to anyone except magicians sanctioned by the Censors College.

    The remains of the vial should be disposed of as soon as possible, as there are probably ways to discern stardust residue from it. You can't afford to risk it with everyone wanting a piece of you.

    You step away from the mess (or try to, anyway – it is a small room,) feeling collected and in control for the first time in days. First of all, you will have to clean up, dispose of suspicious items: broken vial, bloody clothes, etc. You will need to set things straight, come up with a cover story or alibi, find some explanation for your recent erratic behavior or perhaps move somewhere else. Secondly, you will need to see Knows as soon as possible. Figure out what exactly you are holding onto for Whisper, how much trouble it got you into, form a plan based on this new information. Lastly, you should try to make it so that whatever happened to you back in the manor never happens to you again. Since money is not an issue for now, you've the means and time to conduct some training.

    In your free time, you will study a new skill (choose one):
    1A) Lore
    1B) Athletics
    1C) Awareness
    1D) Deception
    1E) Leadership
    1F) Rhetoric
    1G) Stealth
    1H) Treatment
    1I) Melee
    1J) Marksmanship

    You will also work to develop a new ability (choose one from 2 OR 3)

    2 – continue improving your Shardwalker craft:

    2A) Daring
    You can always attempt to avoid environmental dangers before they affect you.

    2B) Direction
    When you are in an uncharted territory or a dungeon, you can always sense where up and down, north and south are (if such exist in your location), and are able to locate the closest source of shelter and sustenance.

    2C) Hunter
    When your target is unaware of your presence, roll damage twice and take the better result at range.

    2D) Scout
    When you take the lead in an uncharted territory or a dungeon, you always spot your targets before they spot you.

    2E) Whisperer
    You can communicate with and attempt to command beasts.

    2F) Sniper
    When you are in a concealed or elevated position relative to your opponents, get +1 armour (cannot be pierced or ignored, doesn't stack with armour bonuses from other Abilities).

    3 – you've always taken an interest in magic, particularly since Whisper was a user. When you visit Knows, pay him a 250 fee and have him train you in some magic:

    3A) Alchemy
    You can imbue magic within a potion, salve, or item. You start with three alchemical formulas.

    3B)Magebane
    You can attempt to dispel or prevent magic spells, enchantments, and conjured elementals from manifesting.

    3C) Healing
    People under your care always get an extra Recovery die. Additionally, when you use a Healer's Kit, you automatically succeed in giving a person under your care an extra Recovery die.

    3D) Sorcery
    You are able to cast spells that, while limited in scope, are much safer than the raw magical power of Wizardry. You start with three spells.

    3E) Conjuration
    You can conjure up elementals – the physical manifestations of certain ideas – from the Void, to seek their help...or so that you can bind them to serve you. You start with two bound elementals that you can call upon.

    3F) Vehemence
    When you use damaging magic effects, roll damage twice and discard the lowest result.

    3G) Warded
    When you are using magic, your protective wards keep you safe, granting +1 armour (cannot be pierced or ignored, doesn't stack with armour bonuses from other Abilities).

    3H) Wizardry
    You can use the raw power of the Void to literally will magical effects into existence. Such effects are powerful and wondrous, and not limited in scope like Sorcery. However, the risks of weaving such energies have hazards, both extreme and varied.

    “Notes” (open)


    When will the ANGST be over? Not for another update or a half. Tune in next time for ANGSTPOSITION!

    Skills: make it so that you cannot fail a roll relevant to the skill (a result of 6- counts as a success with severe negative consequences) and you have a chance to land a critical result on a roll relevant to a skill (12+ counts as a success with extra positive consequences). For example, if you try to hit a dude with a sword and you have the Melee skill, a 6- is no longer a failure – you still hit the guy, but maybe he retaliates with damage and knocks you down, while on a 12+ not only do you hit him but you also disarm, or stun, or do extra damage, etc.

    Magician abilities: you can choose whichever one you like, but Magic is basically broken down into 4 major categories and you must pick the relevant ability in order to have access to each one:

    “Magic” (open)


    -Wizardry: the purest form of magic. Wizards harness the unused powers of creation trapped inside the Void with their own power of will and the strength of their belief, using their own bodies as catalysts to channel the magic until it takes a desired form. This allows for quite a lot of freedom in creating complex spells. The more complicated the spell, the more requirements it might have, so some might require elaborate rituals and preparations while others can be cast on the fly. No memorized spells, you just make shit up as you go along, very freeform and creative. However, the repeated abuse of these spells will taint your body with the chaos of creation faster than you can say “Warhammer Fantasy” and spells often have side-effects. Greatly benefits from the use of stardust or the possession of starshards. Heavily dependant on INT and WIS. Illegal as all fuck in all forms and with no exceptions. Also a popular series of blobbers.

    -Sorcery: the “safe” version of the above. Belief necessary for magic is ritualized into a system known as sorcery. While a wizard manifests spells through pure strength of will and conviction, sorcerers rely on established formulae, mental exercises, and the idea that if a spell once worked for someone else, it should also work for you. This approach is safer: no chance of Void corruption and significantly less side-effects, but it comes with disadvantages compared to wizardry: dramatically reduced power and each new spell must be learned before use. On the plus side, they typically require little preparation. Sorcery spells moderately benefit from the use of stardust or possession of starshards. Spell attempts require an INT roll but only if there is risk involved (so typically in the middle of combat, but not during exploration). Legal if sanctioned by the Censors College.

    -Conjuration: you will a physical representation of an idea or concept into reality. These representations are called elementals. Summoning these guys takes quite a lot of preparation but once you do they are forced to perform a single request of yours to the best of their ability, although they WILL interpret the request according to their aspects (much like dealing with the devil, these guys give you what you ask for as opposed to what you want. One of my players was a conjurer who used an elemental of deceit extensively. Boy, the fun we had...) You will also have an opportunity to bind elementals, which carries extra costs, but that way you don't need to go through the trouble of going through the summoning ritual every time you need to use them. Usage of stardust or the possession of a starshard may be used during the summoning/binding ritual in place of other requirements. INT rolls are for the binding ritual only, which can also be helped by the Lore skill, and CHA is useful if you want to build rapport with your elementards. Legal if sanctioned by the Censors College.

    -Alchemy: requires a lot of preparation and some dough but allows for the creation of everything from potions with various effects to magical gadgets (the Adjuster Crystal you nicked is an example of an alchemical device). Buffs, healing, poisons, devices that allow you to perform superhuman acts with the inhalation of stardust, etc. Stardust usage is not involved in alchemical creation but its inhalation (or, alternatively, the possession of a starshard) might be required for an alchemical device to function (again, see Adjuster Crystal). Attempt to manufacture an alchemical creation require an INT roll, which has some synergy with your crafting skill (for gadgets, anyway, as I intended the Crafting skill to represent knowledge of mechanics etc; the Lore skill is more appropriate for potions and things). A legal practice for the most part.



    As for the Magician training, this is a one-time fee so that if you wish to get more Magician abilities on a future level-up, you will not have to pay.

    If you guys need a refresher on mechanics, refer to the 2nd post or drop a question in the thread.

     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
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  23. Azira Arcane Patron

    Azira
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2004
    Messages:
    7,814
    Location:
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Codex 2012
    Lore
    Sorcery
     
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  24. Storyfag Arcane

    Storyfag
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2011
    Messages:
    5,797
    Location:
    A Dark Place
    Deception
    Direction
     
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