This session was different. Up to this point there’s been some rather standard role-play. All that three tiers stuff – exploration, combat and social interaction in some balance. Each session’s balance was different, but most followed a particular pattern.
- Introduce problem in the episode
- Try to solve the problem
- End in a place of sanctuary
That’s basic episodic style and necessary because the group of players has a core and others that drop-in for sessions when they can. Having a sanctuary enables simple entry points and doesn’t have to include a drop-in riding an axebeak from the horizon.
In session five timing prevented an adequate sanctuary. Four characters raided the village of Nak and they were still there when we ran out of time. In order to create some permanency of play and not skip three or more weeks due to soccer schedules session six took place in just 90 minutes.
And because of real-life schedules one of the four raiders was not present. One of the two more regular characters was going to be at this session. Again, the group of three-four is inside a town with multiple patrols and maybe other obstacles preventing them from leaving. We have 90 minutes of play.
The solution was a co-operative narrative montage.
Session six did not start in Nak. It starts with an out-of-game recap of situation as stands for each character after session five and then begines in the Glass Tower’s basement about 16 hours later. Cortez asks Behn how they got the Lorebook from the Cult of Nak.
Behn described the battles and conflicts of session five when Cortez interupts, “But how did you get away?”
Maurice responds that they had to sneak around the patrols that were between them. The discussion continues as Aamar describes an encounter with a bear at night. Shonie thanks them for returning and asks why Samul the Barbarian is exhausted. Another explains how fierce the barbarian fought, and Behn brings up that the two were shot with some kind of magic missile.
Cortez no longer cares for the tale of escape and asks for the Lorebook. He sees a few pages that are mere remnants of themselves. “You found Chorl?”
This ends the montage portion.
The mostly confused group say “no.”
“You said there were three patrols, but you only needed to avoid the two. Where did the other go?”
“To the North, up the mountain,” Mo answers.
The Five do not know if Chorl is present in that group, but Cortez seems confident that he was and he will be coming back to them. Chorl is a halfling and former student. He seems to have taught Anderson something as well. Anderson no longer breathes and cannot answer if this is true.
Shonie interrupts, “they are coming to us. Should we stay or attempt to get back to Telse. Kellamon never sent a receipt message back to us.”
Behn asks Aamar if he can use his Stone to talk to Telse. “The Stone does not connect to Telse. It’s messages are vague, but certainly not from Telse.”
Cortez and The Five start to discuss the options of defense in place, noting that Shonie repaired some of the damage to the observatory windows. It would be better than running, since Cortez would need help and does not want to abandon his books. As the group is discussing a trap involving a flanking operation with missile support from the observatory Aamar heads to that highest of floors. Maurice followed closely and asked the wise cleric of Quar if he could read the book that Mo took earlier. Aamar says it is “The Creation and Use of Transmutation Stones During the First Age.”
All but Samul follow. He is on the first floor in the guest room recovering from his exhaustion. From the windows on the 3rd floor of the observatory they look out at the skies. Towards Nak they see three giant eagles in the air. They seem to be circling and searching rather than heading straight to the Glass Tower. Just beyond those eagles the volcano appears more active than typical.
Aamar asks Cortez “is the volcano normal?”
“It is more active than in my lifetime.”
To the southwest past the Cliffs of Gallinor is a storm with that sickly greenish-grey. To the east is a thin trickle of smoke out over the Bay of Sheljar. Nature looks ominous and the Five, with their allies, believe that soon the rest of the Cult of Nak with their leader Chorl will be coming.
Chorl and his followers are willing to destroy the Lorebook. The group know Chorl had 10-16 people with their bonds of wolves and eagles on patrol. The Five don’t know when they are coming, just that they took the Lorebook once and will almost certainly try again.
This 90 minute or so session moved the story along while regrouping the various participants inside their “homebase.” Using a small amount of available time assured that the tale will still be told, even if in smaller chunks than are typical.