Never Parley, Only Plunder

We returned to the Lasers & Feelings hack, Parley & Plunder by Stephanie Godfrey, this week in which we play the crew of the Dauntless, a corsair ship charged with protecting the British crown under Captain Maynard, who lies unconscious after a particularly nasty battle. We four are running the ship in the Captain’s absence: Calico Jack the helmswoman who’s only in it for the money, Crabby Aiken the loyal rigger who hopes to prove himself, Sloane the officer and disgraced former captain who hopes to keep the crew safe, and Aurora Vane the grizzled gunner who seeks revenge upon the pirate who gave her that wicked scar.

Parley & Plunder logo.
Parley & Plunder logo courtesy of Stephanie Godfrey.

Once Doc has Captain Maynard safely ensconced in his quarters and we’re confident he’ll survive, we search the Captain’s desk looking for orders or clues as to where we’re supposed to go. We learn our primary mission is to protect His Majesty’s treasure fleet and ensure it arrives in England intact. We stop at Robb’s Island on our way to the fleet’s suspected location, but find smoke billowing from the village buildings. Once ashore, we attempt to gather supplies, and Calico talks with the local apothecary to get herbs that Doc needs for the Captain. There she learns that another ship, identical to the Dauntless, arrived not long before we did and attacked. In the local tavern, Sloane and Aurora encounter a pair of swaggering pirates looting the last of the alcohol, but Aurora wounds one and takes out the other while Sloane lands the final blow against the first. Searching the unconscious men, we discover they’re crew from the ship Undaunted who aim to secure the treasure fleet for France.

We sail for Tortuga to intercept them, and upon arrival, send a recon team into town while the Dauntless remains hidden. We see the other crew taking on lots of powder and cannon shot in preparation for attacking the fleet, but Aurora recognizes her Nemesis as their captain. Under cover of night, we attempt to hit their ship with a homemade pyrotechnic to ignite all that gunpowder, but the Roman candle fizzles instead of launches, so Sloane improvises a flaming bottle of wine. We toss it onto their ship after bringing our longboat alongside them, but we’re too close and can’t avoid the blast entirely. We each dive overboard and swim as deep as we can to escape the worst of it.

Pulling ourselves ashore, we encounter Captain Nemesis and a few of his men who weren’t onboard when the ship went up. While Sloane and Calico hold off his men, Aurora engages Nemesis with cutlasses. While the fight largely follows the pattern of their first encounter, Aurora marks Nemesis’s face this time. And after they get tangled up, she rolls away with his flintlock in her hands and pulls the trigger. His men run away, and Aurora recovers the necklace taken from her all those years ago. The Dauntless comes around the point, piloted by Crabby, to get us away from Tortuga before the authorities can investigate. Later, after we’re back under sail and safely at sea, Captain Maynard recovers consciousness, and we have some explaining to do.

For the Butterfly Heir

We tried another Descended from the Queen game this week on StorySynth, For the Heir by Lynette, in which we are the companions to the latest in a long line of claimants to the Lost Throne. The Lost Throne has sat empty for many an age, and the empire ruled from it has long collapsed into various warring and disparate duchies. Our Heir is a gender ambiguous shape-shifter of apparent noble birth, blessed with a corona of fire. We companions are: Varsa, a ne’er-do-well who nevertheless fights viciously with his pole-arm; Sashi, master of the Mirror Blade who may be easily distracted but is indomitable when focused; Arman, horned fae who serves as magic teacher to the Heir; and Harna, a practical herbalist with potions for all occasions.

Varsa met the Heir after losing a dice game to the wrong people and making bets he lacked the coin to cover. The Heir arrived in all their phoenix-fire glory, which held the brutes in awe until they could spirit the two of them away. Arman is very close to the Heir because his connection to the Faerie Realm is essential to recovering the Lost Throne. Arman believes the rest of us are jealous of that closeness, but Sashi just wants to know what they do when they go off together and keeps butting in. Sashi was recruited on the quest because she is the Master of the Mirror Blade, known as the Fae-touched mirror, whose magic can cut through illusions and reveal the truth. Harna was the last to join the Heir’s quest, and remains the most skeptical. Her father was killed in a magical battle between the Heir and a rival when they met, and she can’t see how seating an Emperor can be worth the high price she has already had to pay.

Varsa once showed the Heir a thing of great beauty, the rare bioluminescent butterflies who emerge after the rain in this lone forest that we passed through. Seizing the moment, Varsa extracts a promise from the Heir to declare these woods off-limits, a preserve for the the butterflies alone. Harna is concerned about our apparent lack of direction; we seem to be wandering aimlessly, not knowing where to go or how to find the throne. When she asks Varna about it, he says not to worry because we’re all making it up as we go along. As we travel on, Sashi eventually wanders off the path, tempted by some shimmering or other in the forest. After we’ve gone on a mini-quest to rescue her, she admits that she’s easily distracted and asks us to help keep her on task. Despite Arman continuing to push the Heir to their limit with magic lessons, the Heir is grateful and uses what he’s taught them to conjure an especially rare set of blossoms as a gift for the flower fairy.

As we travel from town to town, Sashi has taken to jokingly calling herself the Heir’s adopted knight, but she’s said it so often that people have begun to wonder whether this story conceals a bigger secret, that Sashi is the Heir’s younger sister. There is no truth to these rumors, but Sashi can’t tamp them down. Another rumor that won’t go away is that Varsa used his staff to hypnotize the Heir and demand the creation of the preserve, but the Heir needed no such prodding once they’d seen the butterflies beauty for themselves. In a quiet moment, when Harna is discussing her potions with the Heir and mentions something she learned from her father, the Heir admits to barely knowing their parents, and Harna sees a bit of the vulnerability and humanity beneath the Heir’s outward calm. We all believe the Heir’s true form is the one we see every day, the one to which they return after transforming for a fight, the one with the fiery halo. But only Arman has seen their true form, when the Heir first came to Faerie asking to be made ready for their task. Arman’s initial lesson was how to conceal their true form, for glamours can protect them while seeking the throne.

When at least we reach the Lost Throne and our Heir moves to be anointed the true heir, they are attacked by rival claimants who’ve followed us here. We each act to protect our Heir. Varsa leaps at the attackers and takes the fight directly to them. Arman uses his illusions to confuse the attackers. Harna quaffs a potion that grows her to twenty feet tall and blocks them from following the Heir. Sashi accompanies the Heir, guarding their flank and send them on alone to the Throne while she addresses the final challenge, a challenge she meets but not without being permanently scarred.

After the battle, when the Heir has become the new Emperor, Sashi becomes a true knight and serves the Emperor until her retirement decades hence. Varsa holds the Emperor to their promise and the preserve is created, but then moves on, continuing to let his mouth get him into and out of trouble until the end. Harna asks to be made the Guardian of the butterfly preserve and lives on the edge of the luminescent forest. Arman returns to the Faerie Realms, not simply going home, but serving as ambassador between the two realms, confident the Emperor will allow human and fae folk to mingle once again.

Fedora Noir

This week we played Fedora Noir by Caroline Hobbs using the abbreviated version on StorySynth. Our hard-nosed Detective is Scarlett Lane and her protégé is Jimmy Olsen. The client and intriguing new flame is Simon Worthy.

The case begins with Simon bumping into Scarlett as she’s exiting her office. He explains that he is part of that Worthy family, and his older sister, who is being trained to take over the family business, is missing. Their father seems blithely unconcerned with her whereabouts, insisting that he’s spoken to her and she’s fine. Scarlett agrees to take the case, but both she and Jimmy are preoccupied by what went wrong in the last missing persons case, when they found a body instead of somebody.

Black and drawing of a fedora in dramatic lighting over the words 'Fedora Noir'.
Fedora Noir logo from Less Than Three Games.

The next morning at the Worthy estate, they interview the house staff and determine that Miss Cora Worthy planned her absence, packing enough for a few days, and was supposedly headed downtown when she drove off in her car. Also, someone visited the elder Mr. Worthy a few days after her disappearance, and it wasn’t a friendly exchange. Simon keeps trying to impress Scarlett with tales of his archeology studies at Princeton, but she’s too preoccupied by this case and the last.

Scarlett decides, against Simon’s wishes, to go talk to the father. He’s a stocky plutocrat who goes on about how his family built this town from nothing thanks to their transport investments. And his son, who’s obviously put us up to this, isn’t worthy of the Worthy name. He claims again to have spoken to the daughter and explains that she is away negotiating an important business deal for him, which he is not at liberty to discuss.

Back at their office, Jimmy confronts Scarlett over her failures in the previous case and how this one seems to be going the same way. Scarlett thinks how he’s right and she’s going to lose another one. Awkwardly, the return to the investigation and focus on researching the Worthys and their business, trying to determine where Miss Worthy may be; could she be working on a merger of the Pholly and Worthy transport lines?

Simon calls and asks Scarlett to join him downtown at the end of the subrail lines. When she gets there he leads her into the tunnel still under construction and shows her an amazing archeological find, an old structure buried below the surface of New Hudson, and right in the way of his family’s latest tunnel project. As they ponder what to do, Cora Worthy steps out of the shadows and admits she was working with their father to hide this discovery and save the subrail expansion.

Simon seems almost wounded when he reproaches Cora for being so like their father, but then Mr. Worthy arrives pointing a gun at us. As Scarlett steps into the line of fire to protect Simon, she begins regaling Mr. Worthy with information she’s gleaned from the investigation, still peppering him with questions. Unbeknownst to Mr. Worthy, Scarlett aims to distract him from the approaching Jimmy, who beans Mr. Worthy with a shovel taken from the dig. Scarlett springs for the gun and tells Simon to get the police.

Later, Jimmy and Scarlett make up from their argument earlier, thanking each other for their work and their partnership. And Simon finally convinces Scarlett to meet him outside the confines of the case, but she only agrees to a quick bite at Andy’s Diner.

Rusting Giant Delve

Screenshot of the play invitation to The Rusting Giants in the StorySynth gallery. The picture is of three adventurers standing in front of a metal construct covered in green from overgrown plants and vines.
Image from StorySynth Gallery

In this week’s session, we had one player entirely new to role-playing games and story games join us, so we returned to Rusting Giants by Faie Meredith Baker for another two-player session, in which we play scavengers delving into the remnants of massive mech-ships crashed on a low-tech planet.

The Outlaw enters the Giant and immediately finds himself a cache of books and data cards and a supply of small batteries of some value. Using his rope and rigging up a makeshift pulley, he manages to pry open the heavy armored door to delve deeper into the Giant. Next he enters the barrel of a massive cannon where an armored half-crab, half-human mechanical warrior blocks his way. After blinding the creature’s glowing eyes, he slips past it to enter a chamber where he retrieves the uniform and comm-badge of the Giant’s former commander. After swinging across a chasm in the next chamber, he encounters two feral children who refuse to be coaxed into returning with him to the village, even after accepting food from him. He collects a large battery pack, and returns to the surface and to the village.

The Pilgrim enters directly into the Giant’s control center with still active displays showing a cartoonish avatar’s face. Climbing up from there brings her into a chamber open to the sky but contaminated by a toxic sludge leaking from the walls that she must shield herself from using shards of the Giant’s armor. In the engine room, she encounters another salvager who threatens her with a sword. Maneuvering around until they’re in the right position, she unleashes a nanite flame spell to ignite the oil leaked onto the ground and leaves him behind in the flames. The next room is a medical lab with valuable medical supplies, but she decides to forego them rather than face the wolf-cat beasts who nest here. Later she finds a tree native to a region far to the south growing inside the Giant and bearing healthy fruit, and a cache of nanite powder nearby. She collects them and savors the sweet fruit. Before leaving the Giant for today, she recovers a functional radio from the abandoned living quarters of the long-dead crew.

Back at the village, the Outlaw and the Pilgrim meet at the local trader’s shop. While learning the prices the local merchant will offer for their treasures, the Outlaw asks if the Pilgrim knows anything about these books and data cards. The Pilgrim suggests he go someplace with access to great learning to get them properly assessed, and suggests he accompany her on her journey for she leaves for such a place in the morning. Not wanting to tarry long in this town that specializes in bilking traveling scavengers by offering too little and charging too much, the Outlaw agrees to travel with her. Apparently, she’s leading him to a pilgrimage site at the base of a volcano.

One Last Corporate Job

In this week’s session, we played One Last Job by Matthew John in which we play a crew of thieves reunited for one more score in this hack of Lasers & Feelings (hacked further to run GMless) that includes a flashback mechanism (which we never engaged). Our crew consists of Benny the cocky Hacker, Peri the wildcard Grifter, Ruth the intimidating Bruiser, and Cyclops the charismatic Scrounger. We’ve been hired by geneticist James to steal back his top-secret research from his former employer, NuTech Pharmaceuticals from their corporate headquarters in a skyscraper downtown.

Our story begins with Peri and Ruth infiltrating the company as a window washer and a security guard to gather necessary intel. On the night of the score, Cyclops bluffs his way past the front desk as a painter with a work order for painting on one of the upper floors. Assisted by a disguised Peri, we roll our equipment into the elevator and begin. Outside via a direct connection through the wires entering the building, Benny runs technical interference and manipulates the cameras to hide our approach and keep the guards in the dark. Meanwhile, Ruth times her security rounds to rendezvous with us and swipe us into the research lab.

It takes us a while to find the right workstation. When we boot it up and try to get Benny connected remotely, the advanced network security blocks his access, though he manages to maintain control of the security cameras. Benny tries walking Peri through the steps to directly retrieve the data, but no matter how many times she tries, Peri can’t get logged in. When another guard arrives on the floor, Ruth intercepts him and offers to complete his rounds for him so he can go on break, which he surprisingly accepts, meaning she doesn’t need to take him out. After failing to login, we give up on making off with the research undetected, and Peri and Cyclops attempt to remove the hard-drive from the computer. When that fails, we decide to take the whole computer, so snip its security cable and return to our painting cart. Hiding the computer among the supplies on the cart, we successfully exit the building with the computer in our possession.

Back at our safehouse, Benny finally gets his hands on the computer and quickly realizes the machine is a honey pot rather than a repository. He tells us all to get out of there, but before we can act, a flotilla of vehicles arrives blocking our escape. In walks James dressed in an expensive suit and introduces himself as the Head of Security for NuTech Pharmaceuticals. He tells us he appreciates our help in identifying flaws in their security protocols, and offers us a job working directly for him on special operations. Frankly, why he wants us after our abysmal performance is beyond us. When he threatens to turn us over to the police along with the evidence of the job we just pulled if we refuse, we realize we have little choice. Looks like we’ll be working the corporate side of the street for a while.

Coming for the Other City

In this week’s session, we played the duet game For the Other City by Thomas Manuel on the StorySynth engine. We play as two detectives working a case together across the barrier between two cities occupying the same space in different dimensions. Our two cities are: Imperial Rome, expanded and continuous until the twenty-first century—corrupt, unified, and technological—and Kembe, a city in a world of scattered, isolated city-states—honorable, superstitious, and traditional. Detective Junius Rufio comes from Roma, and his partner is Detective Phan Bora from Kembe. Two bodies were found with a calling card bearing the same line of poetry, one in each city, and we are brought together to solve the obviously-linked cases. It turns out to be a long and difficult case, one where no suspects emerged until very late.

For the other city

After examining the crime scene in Kembe, Phan takes June to her favorite teahouse, where they discuss the case and decide they must track down the poem for clues. Perhaps we can discover where the cards were printed. Through contacts at a Roman university, we learn that the line of poetry is from Catullus, who wrote political satire so the crime could be politically motivated, despite sounding like a poem of passion. The Catullus line goes: “I hate and I love. And why? I don’t know … but I feel, and I’m tormented.”

Retracing the Kembe victim’s steps reveals that they went willingly into the blind alley where they were killed, likely lured or tricked there by the killer. Broken glass at the scene ends up being bits of specially treated Roman stained glass. We share a spicy Kemban meal, and Junius begins to appreciate this strange, foreign city. To solidify that connection, Phan gives Junius a small totem of a many-armed monkey god from Kemban mythology, explaining that Kembans believe this brings good fortune, and we’re going to need all the luck we can get to solve this case.

After we follow the trail to a print shop that’s been replaced by a poetry bookstore, Phan insists we allow the bookseller to come for an interview on their own schedule. Junius becomes suspicious of Phan when the bookseller is killed before they can arrive for the interview; perhaps, he thinks, Phan is connected to some sort of anti-Roman plot in Kembe. Next, we turn our attention to the crime scene in Rome, which is a treasure trove of clues. Junius points out the killer wore shoes with an unusual tread on the bottom, and he find a flower unknown in the Roman world at the scene. Phan finds a small piece of twisted metal she identifies as the tip of a ceremonial Kemban dagger, daggers that have a pair of corkscrewing blades that could have created the gaping wounds in the victim’s body. Also, a witness saw the victim calmly walking into the alley with another figure, a tall man with dark hair in his early 40s. Unfortunately, a large grey cloak hid any distinctive Roman or Kemban clothing, so we still don’t know which side the killer may come from.

Junius repeatedly calls into his Roman police headquarters but never has anything to share with Phan; she begins to wonder if he’s hiding evidence from her. Is he truly trying to solve this case? Before returning to Kembe, we find the Roman printer of the embossed cards with the poem on it. Although we can’t identify the purchaser from his records, we learn they also ordered a blueprint that shows a Roman structure situated in what appears to be Kembe itself. Back in Kembe, Phan sees a Roman senator exiting her police station after taking an unusual interest in the case. Later Junius is contacted by his captain, who tells him the case is being closed down, so he should drop it. Rather than give up, we go together to the Roman Senate where Junius sees the distinctive prints from the crime scene in the muddy streets. In the archives, Phan discovers that the Empire will soon face a critical shortage of raw materials and is in desperate need of more.

At last we have enough information to formulate complete theories. Phan believes the Senator is trying to manipulate and push the two cities into a cross-dimensional war because he hopes to save Roma from the impending crisis. She goes to the Kemban government to warn them of the looming threat. Junius, on the other hand, knows that Romans respect nothing as much as treachery, trickery, and violence, so he believes the Senator may be the architect of Roma’s war plans, but he is likely acting in an official capacity to create the pretext the Empire needs to invade. However unlikely a conviction might be, Junius decides to arrest the Senator to expose the plot and possibly avert a war.

Epitaph for a Photographer

This week we played one of my favorite games, Epitaph by Marc Hobbs of Less Than Three Games. In this game, you collaborate to create the life story of a character together. We chose to center our story around a steampunk circus carnival in the Victorian era, a world without imperialism or colonialism, and where global travel is quick and easy thanks to steam airships. Our character, the departed—named Joseph Forrester—loved photography and had an easy facility with language. His goal in life was to collect a single sentence written out in every language by a native speaker of that language. His sentence is: The stars shine equally brightly on the blessed and the grotesque alike. Of course, not even a global traveller can visit every place and secure every language, but his collection was vast by the time of his death. Below is the list of key people we identified in his life and the timeline of his lifespan.

Overhead shot of group of people sitting around a table covered in dishes while a warm glowing light shines from the right.
Epitaph cover courtesy of Less Than Three Games.

Key People

  • Lucky (he/him), harsh carny mentor
  • Eliza (she/her), aunty in fact if not in law
  • Imogene (she/her), fire-breather and big “sister” that he looked up to
  • Patrick (he/him), love of his life


Joseph Forrester (he/him)

Born 1849 – Died 1918

Born 1849 over the Atlantic
  • Born on board the carnival airship while it west flew over the Atlantic.
Age 10 (1859) – Attended a child’s birthday party
  • Scene : (Departed, Imogene (chaperone), and birthday girl). Imogene escorts Joseph to a birthday party of a local girl, while the circus is stranded repairing the dirigible. She convinces him to bring a big pink bear that is a prize from the games as a gift.
  • Reflection : One of his few glimpses into the world of a stationary kid.
Age 15 (1864) – First day he picked up a camera
  • Remembrance : Eliza remembers when Joseph grabbed a camera that he wasn’t supposed to touch. He had been lost and tried many things at the circus but never found anything that fit until he grabbed the camera. His hands knew what to do right away and he never put it down. It was great to see someone finding themselves.
Age 16 (1865) – Dia de los Muertos & the Portuguese Women
  • Snapshot : Two older women wearing Day of the Dead face painting, wearing marigolds in their hair, and carrying candles. Face painting was put on at the booth in the carnival, and want to preserve it despite the Day of the Dead being a reminder of transience. Joseph takes their photo and gets his sentence in Portuguese from them.
  • Reflection : He believes that while things fade, you can remember them better with a photograph.
Age 21 (1870) – When Lucky saw that Joseph would be okay and a true asset to the circus.
  • Remembrance : Lucky watched him becoming a real asset to the circus, speaking to the guests in their own languages, welcoming them, charming the children, and convincing folks that the circus was magic.
Age 38 (1887) – Meeting his beloved Patrick
  • Snapshot : Close up portrait of forty-ish man wearing a brown tweed suit, worn at the edges with a big handlebar mustache. In the background is the ironworks of the Eiffel Tower just beginning to be built.
  • Reflection : Patrick reinvigorated him, giving him new reasons to live, to do, to travel, and to see.
Age 42 (1891) – Patrick decided to travel with Joseph
  • Snapshot : Patrick meets the circus dirigible when it lands at a cobblestone-paved aerodrome in the middle of Quebec City. He tells Joseph that he doesn’t want to meet occasionally anymore; he wants to travel with him for always.
  • Reflection : This is when our relationship became real, permanent, like an engagement or a marriage.
Age 52 (1901) – When the circus patrons questioned his place in the troupe
  • Snapshot : Ringmaster and magician owners/leaders of the circus ask him whether he is making enough of a contribution to earn his place.
  • Reflection : Realized that he might not be able to stay with the circus forever and began to plan for how to see the world if he couldn’t travel with the circus.
Age 53 (1902) – Discovers his talent for advertising
  • Snapshot : He seeks other ways to contribute to the circus and uses his gift for languages to create large circus posters tailored to each locale and language.
  • Reflection : There’s always a place for someone if you look for it.
Died 1918 in Osaka, Japan
  • Succumbed to the Swine/Spanish Flu while visiting Osaka, Japan.


  • Imogene: She brought together everyone from the circus and light candles on small boats, and send them out into the Atlantic carrying photos of the sender with something written out in another language on it.
  • Aerialist: Aerialist remembers how Joseph wasn’t a performer or roadie, but how he was the one you went to when something went wrong. He was the one who listened, probably would take your picture. He was special by not being special. One time when hit the net three times, Joseph was there to talk to. He was the most real person the aerialist had or would ever meet.
  • Patrick: Creates a book to keep Joseph active in his life. The book pairs photographs of the places they’ve been, the people they met, and the sentences in the languages of the places that Joseph collected over his life. He takes it out often and flips through it, and shows it to anyone who comes to visit him in his dotage and tells them about Joseph.

Elementary & The Rusting Giants

We had only two players this week, so we played a pair of short mini-games on the  StorySynth engine. First, we played Elementary by Martin Dubuque, in which we are given a list of clues and must come up with the crime they describe. Our clues are Dolphin Statue, Ex-lover, Third Party, Medieval Dagger, Wife, Red Herring, Lizard, and Small Jacket. The crime is the murder of a wealthy man at his home in the tropics on the day of a big party on his estate. We have three primary suspects, the ex-lover, the wife, and the third party, his accountant, who all attended the event. Secretly the millionaire was running into money troubles and fought with his accountant about it. Later, he and his wife were arguing while the red herring was being served. She was angry about the ex-lover being at the party and grew increasingly heated while they talked. In a moment of anger, she grabbed the medieval dagger from the wall and plunged it into her husband. She went into the bathroom to wash off the blood that had splattered, but she couldn’t remove one spot, so put on a small jacket to cover it. When she started to return to the party, she was startled by a large lizard, so she killed it with the pointed dolphin statue. Once back at the party, she told anyone who asked that she had gone inside to grab her jacket because she had caught a chill.

Screenshot of the play invitation to The Rusting Giants in the StorySynth gallery. The picture is of three adventurers standing in front of a metal construct covered in green from overgrown plants and vines.
Image from StorySynth Gallery

The Merchant begins by entering a fallen limb of the Giant. He finds his way blocked by a wide chasm that he must cross to retrieve a cache of books and data disks and continue inside. He uses the vines growing along with walls to create enough support to shimmy across the narrow bit of armor that spans the chasm. Next, he makes his way into the command center of the Giant where he is threatened by another delver carrying a sword. The Merchant, in turn, draws his laser pistol and holds the man at bay while removing the Command Badge from the skeleton of the long-dead commander of the Giant and backs out of the bridge to safety. Afterward, he finds himself in a safe glade where the Giant’s torso opens to the sky and takes a moment to catch his breath and have a light meal. While eating he discovers a vein of nanite powder and collects it for later barter. As he enters the chamber with the Giant’s mechanical heart, he finds five wolf-cat beasts wrestling over a carcass. Rather than risk death trying to subdue them, he backs away the way he came to find another way through, abandoning the valuable pieces of the Giant’s armor here. The end of his dive is through another of the Giant’s limbs, where a mechanical warrior activates and rises to attack him. Instead, the Merchant uses the command badge taken from the bridge to override the default systems and deactivate these defense mechanisms. He then gathers the guns and a unique sword and returns to the village.

Meanwhile, the Pilgrim begins her dive by encountering a pair of feral children in the barrel of the Giant’s cannon. She lures the children to the surface with food and sends them on the path back to the local village. Next, she finds a working portable radio tuned to receive strange musical sounds, which she retrieves by avoiding a dangerous looking iridescent sludge dripping and pooling on the floor. Down the next passage, she finds herself in the living quarters of the Giant’s crew and finds a complete battery pack filled with batteries, each capable of powering an entire village for a year. A valuable find indeed. Blowing a pinch of nanite powder in the mechanisms, she unlocks a heavy metal door blocking entry into the cargo hold, opens it, and steps through. She determines that the cargo hold is safe, so takes a moment to pray and refresh herself. After her meal, she finds an unused and intact medical kit, a few smaller batteries, and materials that could be useful for construction. She’ll need to lead a team of villagers back to this place to extract the building materials and carry them to the village. Finally, she enters a chamber filled by a beautiful tree bearing fruit out of season, perhaps due to the unnatural warmth here. She asks the gods to bless the fruit and tastes it. It’s juicy and refreshing, so she takes a bagful to share with the villagers; perhaps they can harvest it when their winter supplies run low.

Back at the village, the Pilgrim and the Merchant meet up. The Merchant agrees to give the nanite powder and books to the Pilgrim in exchange for the med kit and a battery from the pack. The Pilgrim gifts the rest of her haul to the village.

Beast & Burrows

This week, we played a hacked together fantasy game combining elements of 1420 Beasts & Barrows by brine, 1400 Quest by James Lennox-Gordon, and 2400 Legends by Jason Tocci. We are a group of adventurers hired to rescue Favric, an acolyte of a local cult, from a bandit leader. We are Kaede the cat-folk Scout, Undyne the human Tinker, Raya the human Mage, and Logan the human-plant hybrid Mage.

We begin our search on the outskirts of town, but Undyne casts doubt on our mission. She believes it more likely that Favric was fleeing the cult and speculates that the bandit leader may have been his rescuer, or even his lover. Logan thinks we should fulfill our contract, no matter what. Kaede and Raya seek a middle ground, saying we should find Favric and ask him what he wants. But we can’t do anything until we find him. Kaede finds tracks in the woods that are likely the bandits’ trail. Raya decides to Scrye through the water and sees visions of a man she believes to be Favric, before a partially collapsed stone wall with a strange symbol on it. Logan believes the symbol may be magical, but Undyne says it’s related to the local mines,. She suggests we visit a friend of hers who owns one of these mines to ask him.

So, we go to the town of Abingdon to meet Undyne’s friend, Alan, who immediately suspects Undyne’s intentions, assuming she wants to borrow money. Raya draws the symbol she saw for Alan and asks if he knows anything about it. Alan says sure, its the sigil of the old Wizards Guild. They disbanded long ago after their tower exploded one night, bursting into flames. When pressed, he reveals the ruins of the tower are a days journey from Abingdon. Take the north road and head easterly into the hills. We thank him, buy him a drink, and leave for the north road.

We leave Logan in Abingdon to conduct his research and head north into the hills. We decide we need the answer to three questions: are the bandits at the collapsed Wizard’s Guild tower? Is Favric with them willingly or not? How do we rescue him, if necessary, or do next if it’s not. Kaede successfully sneaks into the camp setup at the tower but doesn’t return. After a few hours, Undyne and Raya decide they must investigate. Undyne is able to get close enough to determine that Kaede is still free but unable to get out without being seen. They decide they must mount a rescue.

Raya casts a spell to turn herself into an elephant, but can’t manage anything that large and settles for becoming a boar instead. The boar tears into the camp, causing havoc and mayhem that draws the attention of all those in the camp. Undyne is able to sneak in and meet up with Kaede, but they are spotted when they try to leave. Undyne attempts to convince one of the bandits that she’s friends with his sister. Although confused and delayed a bit, the bandit doesn’t believe her in the end, and a chase ensues. We each career through the woods until we’re able to find one another, and Raya casts a spell to mask us from the bandits perception. She can’t hold it for long, but long enough for us to find somewhere safer to hide.

We take this opportunity to compare notes. During his time in the camp, Kaede learned that these are definitely bandits, and probably the same bandits because one among them stands out as unlike the others, probably Favric, and Favric is definitely not their prisoner. He’s unfamiliar with their ways, but they’re all making an effort to include him. We decide we have to know for sure, so Undyne creates some colored powders and writes a note. Raya turns herself into a bird and delivers the note and two packets of powder to Favric. The note asks him to toss the blue one into the fire if he needs us to rescue him, and the red if he wants us to stop and leave him alone. Shortly thereafter, we see the red smoke and decide to leave this contract unfulfilled. We should probably avoid the town where they hired us to rescue Favric, but we can return to Abingdon to see how Logan has been getting on.

Mobland Archipelago

We dusted off Archipelago by Matthijs Holter to create a mobland story set in Chicago shortly after the stock market crash in the fall of 1929. There are three of us. Police Officer Jack, who lost all his savings in the crash. Jack’s broker is Lionel Bridges, whose brokerage is collapsing along with the market and is only a few steps in front of his creditors. Finally, Jack’s childhood friend is Tony, a mobster who runs the neighborhood, the local speakeasy and gambling dens.

Our story begins with Jack talking on the phone with Lionel because the bank is threatening to foreclose on his house. Lionel reassures him that the bank can’t possibly act quickly enough for him to lose his house; the bank will probably collapse first. The police chief comes in and orders him to investigate Tony; they want to shut the speakeasy down.

Down at his speakeasy, The Open Mouth, Tony is talking with Lionel and learns about another speakeasy that has opened up recently on the other side of the neighborhood, which shouldn’t be news to Tony but is. He tasks Lionel with finding out who runs the place. So, Lionel high tails it over the other joint and discovers that it’s run by the brothers who call themselves the Copperhead Gang. Unfortunately, he bumps into one of them on his way out, one who believes the crash is a hoax perpetrated by brokers to steal their client’s money. And he wants his money back now.

Next we see Jack meeting with Tony and offering to keep the police off his trail if Tony can help him with his money problems. He also tells him that Sam of the Copperheads believes in a conspiracy around the market crash. So, Tony goes to the drug store to confront the Copperhead brothers. When he mentions Lionel, Sam spouts off on his conspiracy theories while his brother, Giulio, leaves to find Lionel. Without his brother around, Tony overpowers Sam and leaves him inside after setting fire to the building. Across town, Giulio mows Lionel down in the street with a Tommy gun in a drive by. Then Giulio goes after Tony, firing indiscriminately into the Open Mouth and throwing Molotovs inside to set it ablaze in revenge for his brother.

Jack, having collected enough from Tony after his tip off, pays the bank off for his house but then hears about Guilio’s hit on Tony’s place. Shocked, he goes after Giulio alone, determined to bring him down. He manages to sneak his revolver into the Copperhead club and shoots Giulio but then he shoots himself. The camera pulls back from Jack’s dead body and stops high above it before the screen goes black.