For Some Drama

Tonight we divided into two tables, each of which played a pair of games Descended from the Queen at At one table, we played a session of The Lost Island by Steffen Jörg in which our plane crashing on a deserted island led us through fevered sickness with hallucinated voices and visions, burying the dead, arguments over whether to stay on shore or move inland, memories of our past lives, and eventually a rescue just as we’ve secured enough food to sustain us. As we leave the island, we take with us an appreciation of how precious time is, the importance of withholding judgment, the necessity of working together, and newfound confidence in our abilities in the face of hard times. The relationships we’ve formed may carry forward into our new lives.

Next we played a round of For the Crown by Monsieur Alceste in the kingdom of Shangrila, a land where your place is determined by the strength of your magic and where the elderly King Fangor lies ill after a long and prosperous reign. We are Faisal, the king’s brother and leader of his armies; Leona, a teenage wizard’s apprentice who has vast stores of untapped magical potential; Taro, advisor to the king these past five years who came from the lowest rungs of society; and Nogard, the king’s youngest son but also the only one with any aptitude for magic. Which of us will inherit the crown and become the new ruler of Shangrila?

Screenshot of For the Crown game portal.

We start with Leona attempting to form an alliance of the underclass against the aristocrats close to the king by meeting with Taro, who agrees that the next king should not be related to the current one. Of particular concern is Prince Nogard, who has long been rumored to be corrupted by dark magic and who even the king kept away from court for years. Taro believes she is the best choice because of her experience of all walks of life, but Prince Faisal has been loyal to the king for decades and has the most experience of any claimant. His failure at the Battle of Bone Bridge that led to the death of Taro’s uncle, however, has turned the adviser against him forever. Leona calls both Faisal and Taro together in a conclave to conspire against Nogard and his claim, but Faisal will do no more than to talk to his nephew about standing down from the contest while the other two agree to reveal to the people how twisted magic has made him.

When the neighboring kingdom turns militaristic and decides to test the strength of the ailing kingdom by invading, Nogard tasks Faisal with securing the capital and rides off to lead the army himself. While Nogard returns after successfully repelling the invaders, Taro secures a holy writ against him for practicing dark magic for which he must atone by performing light magic rituals. Nogard sees a chance to change his image and agrees to perform the rituals. But now it is time to choose the new ruler as King Fangor finally passes away at this dramatic moment. With Faisal, worried about his nephew’s ambition and corruption, refusing to back him and promising to serve the crown no matter who wears it and Taro throwing her support behind the upstart Leona, Nogard is thwarted and Leona is proclaimed the new ruler of Shangrila due to her vast magical powers.

Wizard’s Querulous Dram

Tonight we played The Wizard’s Querulous Dram by Jason Morningstar & Lizzie Stark as wizard’s arranging a royal marriage between the Black Mountain and Smallwood kingdoms, both beset by the rebels led by Wyoh. The future of both kingdoms rests on the success of this union. We must pick one of the two royal children from each kingdom to marry: Prince Chadwick or Princess Aster of Smallwood to marry either Prince Winthrop or Princess Tiffany of Black Mountain.

After debating the merits of each of the four possible pairings, we easily settle upon the combination of Princess Aster of Smallwood as regent and Princess Tiffany of Black Mountain as consort. We believe that Tiffany’s pageantry and popularity combined with Aster’s foresight and planning will guide the kingdom well.

Lasers & Feelings & Legends

Tonight we again played Lasers & Feelings as the crew of the Consortium ship Raptor in an encounter with the Hive Armada at the mouth to a quantum tunnel. With Captain Darcy once again confined to a medical pod after succumbing to a psychic entity, our crew consists of robotic scientist 32011J known as Jay, Kalista an alien seeking to explore new worlds, Sabik the ships erstwhile engineer returning after several years spent building xir social media presence, and the ship’s doctor Tase Duglas, who as ranking officer ends up serving as captain for the mission.

Two of our characters are depicted, the square bodied robot 32011J and the eight-eyed purple-skinned alien Kalista.

We begin with Sabik assembling our new science-bot and providing whatever upgrades xe can to the standard build-out while filming the whole thing for Rumblr. In the sick bay, Dr. Duglas consults with Kalista about the mysterious illness that has brought down the captain. In her travels, Kalista has seen the Void incapacitate people before but never heard of any effective treatment, and although some do recover, survivors usually lose a large portion of their memories. In a video for GalacticTube Sabik plays “who is more likely to” with Kalista. Although they agree that Kalista is more likely to steal the ship, get lost on the ship, get angry and punch a wall, or speak an alien language, they often both choose themselves. They agree, though, that Sabik is more likely to invent something useful. On the bridge, Dr. Duglas encounters the science-bot Jay for the first time, who informs him about finding a stable quantum tunnel through spacetime nearby. The robot points out that regulations require the Raptor to investigate, and that as the highest-ranking officer currently aboard, the Doctor must take command. Sabik offers to command the ship, but the conversation ends in a squabble between Sabik and Jay, so Dr. Duglas accepts his fate and orders the Raptor to make for the tunnel at best speed.

As we approach the quantum tunnel, we learn that a swarm of Hive ships are flying around the tunnel’s opening, and that on the other side of the tunnel lies a hitherto unknown planet. The Hive ships do not immediately respond to our hails, but finally convincing them to open a channel, they state their intention with the tunnel is “tear mending.” While we ponder what that might mean, we convene the officers to discuss our options. Jay and Kalista tell us of Hive legends involving a people known as the Irks who once conquered most of known space and were imprisoned on a far-off planet millennia ago after their final defeat. Scans indicate the mending the Hive wish to complete is collapsing the quantum tunnel entirely. As a unique natural phenomenon, Duglas decides that we must reach out to Consortium command for instructions and attempt to delay the Hive activity until command can assess their activity and determine if it’s allowed. We attempt to negotiate with the Hive, citing the terms of the Consortium-Hive treaty, but the Hive insist upon destroying the tunnel and huffily cut off all communication. In order to stop them, we have to place our ship between them and the tunnel entrance, raising our defensive screens to maximum power, even shutting down other systems, to withstand any Hive attacks. And attack they do. Our screens hold, but with the engines offline, one explosion knocks us backward into the tunnel, which sucks us through to the other side and sends the ship careening toward the unknown planet.

Sabik is able to restart the engines fast enough to prevent us from crashing uncontrolled into the planet, but not soon enough to keep us from being pulled down to the planet’s surface. As soon as we’re down, we’re contacted by Irk elders who offer whatever assistance they can and insist we accept their hospitality, which we gladly but warily accept as we’ll need more fuel to get back through the tunnel. The welcome we receive on this planet, which the Irks call Riciri, is friendly, and the Irks explain that no matter what may have been done by their people in the past, they’ve found peace on Riciri and wish only to know more of the galaxy beyond. While Kalista and Jay study their library and historical documents to learn what they can about the legendary Irks, Sabik spends the time interviewing as many Irks as xe can in order to make a documentary to tell their story. Now that we know the Irks are not a danger, we complete our refueling and fly back into the tunnel. Duglas orders Jay and Sabik to infiltrate the Hive network and bring their activity to a halt. In a cheeky bit of social media savvy, Sabik uploads the documentary xe made about the Irks into the Hive network, putting it on a loop so the Hive systems can’t do anything but play it on repeat, which brings the entire Hive armada to a complete halt.

With the time bought by our actions, the Consortium is able to stop the Hive’s tunnel deconstruction project through diplomatic channels, and the long negotiation to broker peace between the Hive and the Irks can begin.

Venture to the Dragon’s Mirror

Tonight we concluded our story using Venture by Riley Rethal about the quest to defeat to an evil wizard that we began last week. Our crew once again consists of Nelrim the Wizard, Alexander Smith the Paladin, Alder the Cleric, Perebraithe the Bard, Orenn the Rogue, and Melor the Fighter. When last we left our heroes, they had just met in the healing temple to prevent Orenn from dying after saving Perebraithe’s life and pledged to work together to bring down the dark wizard causing mayhem among the populace of Port Royal.

We begin still inside the healing temple and decide that the best way to find the dark wizard is for Alder to call upon the True Sight of her order. Orenn rips the binding from his recently stitched up arm and volunteers to be the ritual’s blood sacrifice. As Alder chants, storm clouds and lightning appear in the sky until the clouds suddenly part and a dead dove falls into the temple’s courtyard from the center of the cleared sky. When alder checks the dove, she finds a key embedded in its belly, then goes berserk and attacks Alexander Smith. Once Melor gets him in her grip, Perebraithe sings his calming tune until she returns to herself and tells us of the vision she had of a ruined hillside chapel, which Orenn identifies as the Chapel at the Dragon’s Mirror. We set out for the Dragon’s Mirror at first light.

On the road, Perebraithe asks Nelrim about the dark wizard and learns that he was banished to the astral plane and has no physical form, but has enough power to induce psychotic anger in people on this plane. The wizard had been initially defeated by forces led by the Marquis and so his revenge is now extended to the city itself since he can no longer attack the Marquis directly. As we near the Dragon’s Mirror, we see smoke billowing from the volcano reflected in the crystalline lake that gives the area its name. We stop at a stall run by a poor family and, while eating out soup, learn that the Chapel was once the center of a pilgrimage, but that the last pilgrimage festival was cancelled due to a large sinkhole that appeared on the road to the Chapel, out of which stream a swarm of oversized crabs. We debate whether they are normal-sized fire crabs or giant-sized normal crabs, but we remain unprepared when we come upon the sinkhole and several enormous crabs emerge and pull several horses underground with them.

Dismounted and disoriented, we manage to regroup further down the road behind some boulders and begin planning our next move while Orenn sneaks away and looks inside the sinkhole where he sees a tunnel but also a strange boulder with a keyhole in it. When we learn what Orenn has seen, we silence our feet with towels sneak to the sinkhole ourselves while Alexander Smith loudly clanks away in the other direction to distract the craps. Once at the sinkhole, Alder opens the boulder with the key taken from the dove. When the key turns the boulder flies into the air and shatters and out from the newly formed door flies a powerful being wearing darkened robes, who fries the remaining crabs with lightning. Have we released the dark wizard from the astral plane?

We regroup inside the temple, which is dedicated to the same order as Alexander Smith, and he leads us down into the catacombs below the temple where we discover the remains of the knights and paladins who died fighting the dark wizard alongside the Marquis. Nelrim reads the runes to learn that we must disrupt the dark wizard’s power and Perebraithe learns from the Marquis’s parrot that the Wizard’s true name is “Damascus.” Orenn notices the pattern of one funeral bier, recognizes it matches that of a dagger he picked up outside as we came in, and returns it to the paladin’s scabbard, causing the paladin to appear before us in spirit form. He says if we speak the name at the volcano’s lip, it will summon the wizard so we can destroy him once and for all.

And so we do. We climb to the volcano’s mouth, Nelrim prepares a moonbinding spell, Alexander Smith, Melor, and Orenn gird their weapons, and once we’re all ready, Perebraithe cries “Damascus” to summon the dark wizard. The spell holds him tight for just long enough for the weapons to find the marks, the wizard’s blood oozing into the volcano. Alder sees her opportunity and throws the key into the volcano and it seals itself with an audible pop; the volcano is gone. As the earth shakes, we run down the hill to see the lake begin to bubble then calm allowing us to see the largest fire crab of all time uncovered in the quake sitting at the bottom of the lake. As the crab is just sitting there, we opt to return and begin the long journey to Port Royal on foot, happy to put the Dragon’s mirror behind us.

Venture in Town

Tonight we played the first act of a story in Venture by Riley Rethal as a band of adventurers in a capital city at the sea, Port Royal, rife with rumors of curses and home to a magical academy. Our number include Nelrim the Wizard, Alexander Smith the Paladin, Alder the Cleric, Perebraithe the Bard, Orenn the Rogue, and Melor the Fighter.

Our story begins when Orenn brings an elegant, beautiful parrot to Perebraithe, who he names Windbright. After Perebraithe expresses his gratitude for the gift, Orenn promises to never leave his new friend’s side. When Alexander Smith arrives in Port Royal, he demands Melor direct him to the evil in the city, so he sends the paladin down to the docks. At the healing Temple, Alder is interrupted by Nelrim who has an experimental spell he’d like to try for healing people that would bypass the complicated process the clerics employ. While Alder is all for more ways to help people, she is worried about possible negative consequences. From out of those waiting for treatment, Alexander Smith, fresh from a beating on the docks, volunteers for Nelrim’s experimental treatment and asks after the curse he’s heard emanates from the Academy. We first hear about an evil wizard inspiring violence by luring victims into the woods and laying a curse upon them here. Nelrim and Alexander Smith continue discussing the evil wizard as they leave the temple, form an alliance to put an end to this curse, and pledge to recruit a party who can end the dark wizard’s plans, beginning with Melor.

Perebraithe and Orenn go for a walk along the waterfront zoological gardens where the nobility go to walk their unusual pets. The noble with the peacock on a golden chain is the first to greet them and note that Windbright looks like the Marquis’s parrot, but the nobleman with the emu insists they are remarkably similar. But Orenn begins to scarf down the emu’s snacks and Perebraithe cannot convince him to stop even after promising him a pastry if he leaves it alone. Orenn leaps into the water and returns to the surface pulling out a watch, a comb, a cloak, then a body. The noble runs off to retrieve the city guard who take charge of the body, who appears to be the Marquis and confiscate Perebraithe’s transit papers, which will prevent him from leaving the city. Orenn swam away but noticed strangle marks on the victim’s neck. In another part of the city, Melor reunites with his Alder after a long absence; they discuss the problems in the city and increased acts of violence that have kept the Temple full of those seeking healing. She suggests that the fighter seek out the strange wizard about his next job.

Having secured the services of Melor and hearing about the death of the Marquis, Nelrim is certain his death links to the activity of the dark wizard and decides to seek out the one’s who found the body. Catching up with the bard Perebraithe performing in a tavern, Nelrim and Alexander Smith discuss the dark wizard’s power and the mysterious death of the Marquis with Perebraithe and Orenn when a brawl breaks out in the tavern. Perebraithe calms the crowd using his powers, but the brawlers are acting unconsciously and don’t know why they started fighting. But the fighting continues and one senseless brawler comes at Perebraithe with a long dagger, so he dives in between and takes the blade in his arm. Arriving just in time to witness this, Melor smashes through the remaining brawlers and the crew race to the temple carrying the injured rogue. Melor leads them through streets filled by a crazed melee as the curse spreads throughout the city. When they reach the Temple, Alder is able to heal Orenn, and pledges to help the team in their battle against the evil wizard.