A Clown Venture

We played Venture by Riley Rethal this week, but placed our troop of adventurers in the early twentieth century. We are the quiet rogue, Shadowblade, who values freedom above all else; Ember Suzudz, a soothing and compassionate cleric who definitely will not be sacrificing herself for you; the unarmed fighter, Calvina, who fights to protect the weak; Zizzo the clown who entertains by inciting joy; and Menalania, a good-natured, cheerful wizard whose magic is very enchanting.

Our story begins with Menalania meeting with Zizzo after a show, asking him why he pretends those mishaps are part of the act when we both know that his magic makes it happen. Zizzo complains that these things just happen, that he can’t control them. Menalania chides him for never seeking any training to better control his powers, and she suggests he needs to find himself a wizard to train with. Now, if he only knew a wizard….

While walking through town, Calvina and Shadowblade encounter a group of thugs roughing someone up, probably a mugging gone wrong. Calvina dances around and taunts them, relishing the opportunity to fight, which takes Shadowblade aback, but he manages to get the victim to safety. Later at the temple, Ember sees all the injuries on Calvina and insists on performing the healing rites. Zizzo comes to Menalania asking why she’s been avoiding him, and she admits she doesn’t know how to teach someone to do magic. They discuss how she learned, and the exercises that her mentor would have her perform, but how to do that with magic that causes mishaps to befall people? Calvina recommends a magically imbued straw-man, like they use in martial training.

As we make the straw-man at the temple, Shadowblade keeps having bad things happen to him: an impossible water balloon falls from the sky, slipping and falling, and mouse running up his trousers. He decides to slip away before things get worse; he hates drawing that sort of attention. Prompted by Calvina, Menalania animates the straw-man, which seems to suffice to activate his power, as a fish emerges from a bucket of water and interrupts the straw-man’s attack. They keep at it for some time, but Zizzo never makes the bucket do exactly what he wants. Calvina and Menalania conduct an experiment, in which one boos a Zizzo performance while the other cheers. Each time, no matter which of them it is, some mishap befalls the heckler: a heretofore unseen monkey jumping at her face or a rubber chicken falling on her head. It seems Zizzo’s magic protects him, non-lethally, from the ill-intentioned. He’s taken his first steps into a wider world.

Venture to the Bane

We played Venture by Riley Rethal this week, as a group of adventurers commissioned by the royal family to rescue the Prince, lost in the haunted forest. We are well-known in the kingdom for our skill, honor, and (most of us) loyalty: Sebastian the honorable Paladin, Topaz the scavenging Rogue, Dalavarr the weather Wizard, Aloisius the doubting Cleric, and Claresta the impulsive Fighter.

Our adventure begins being called to the palace and taken to a hidden royal garden to meet the Lord Chancellor who explains that our mission is delicate and must be kept secret, but the Prince was lost recently on a hunting mission, pulled into the haunted forest and did not emerge. All fear that the Bane has taken him and recall what we’ve heard of the creature: its rows of razor sharp teeth, that it is a cursed human, that it guards the forest, that it is intelligent, and that it prefers to be left alone. We ride for the point where the Prince was lost. On the road, Topaz decides to unload some items she picked up at the palace: a pair of chainmail gloves that Sebastian accepts without asking their provenance, but Claresta rejects the steel dagger with the runes because it’s too puny a weapon. Sebastian takes a quiet moment to ask Aloisius why the cleric does not trust him. Aloisius explains that the fervor and breadth of the paladin’s faith are disconcerting to him, who has never felt such divine passion, but trusts that he will do his duty.

At last we enter the forest, but we keep finding ourselves emerging back where we started. Dalavarr attempts to conjure a wind to dispel the forest fog, but first the fog envelopes us and as it clears, we find ourselves in a market, populated by fae folk. Dalavarr warns us of the dangers of bargains with the fae, but we find ourselves the object of much attention. One goblin is amused by us and approaches to offer help to the strangers out of place. Learning we seek the Bane, he laughed at us for thinking we could find the what we seek when entering the Bane’s forest, and suggests we return with the intention to fill this bag he hands us with forest bark, which he trades us for a lock of Dalavarr’s half-elven hair.

Taking the goblin’s advice, we return to the forest seeking bark but find, instead, a line of mushrooms marching through the forest. Topaz purloins one and returns to the group, but the mushroom taunts us relentlessly until we give up on them leading us anywhere. After catching up with the other mushrooms, we’re able to trade showing us the bark near the Bane’s home in exchange for creating a new damp place for the mushroom’s home. Topaz sneaks up to the Bane’s window and sees the creature sitting together at a table with the Prince. Sebastian takes the lead and calls out to the Bane, who is suspicious but eventually lets us into the house. The Bane tells us that he will not release his companion and that we must go, but Sebastian volunteers to stay in the Prince’s place. We all agree to come back to visit regularly, so the Bane agrees to release the Prince. We agree to return at least every fortnight, and we bring oxen as a gift.

In the epilogue, Claresta asks the Prince if he can summon woodland creatures to do his chores (No.) while Topaz ponders how to use the royal boon that she’s earned. Dalavarr, having a long-time secret crush on the Prince, spends much of the trip back talking and getting to know the young man. And the Prince agrees to keep the Bane and the pact secret. Once we’ve filled the goblin’s sack, it disappears to return to the fairy realms.

Time Venture

This week we delved into Venture by Riley Rethal once more, this time as a group of adventurers living on the Taiga against the great mountains in a small outpost town, Hadna, on the edges of a great empire. Our group includes the lanky and pale, silent and secretive rogue Dave; Reinhardt the Just, a paladin who believes in a higher power and is dedicated to protecting the weak; the ripped and rash fighter, Lydia, whose more likely to let loose with her wrapped knuckles in a bar than sell her sword arm; Quill the wizard in a witch’s hat too lazy to ever cast a spell; and Ivris the cleric who serves Unphin the Unmoving, god of the mountains.

Our story begins with Lydia and Quill returning to Hadna from a mountain trek arguing about why Lydia insists that Quill walk into town. In Hadna itself, Ivris interrogates Dave about the clock he’s lost to Elnor and his gang and whether he can get it back with the help of a little magic. Reinhardt approaches Lydia about her family and how our group has replaced the families we left behind or lost, as Lydia’s was in the great war, and each believes that the Watchmaker’s clock can change one’s fate. In a tavern, Quill keeps pressuring Ivris to come back to her bed, but the cleric rebuffs her advances. Finally, Dave asks Reinhardt to lead their effort to recover his lost clock, which is magical and an heirloom.

After Lydia acquires a cart and donkey to carry Quill, we make our way through the seedy back-alleys to the underground tavern where Elnor’s gang dwells. Elnor tells us about his obsession with clocks and time, calling his gang the Keepers of Time. He tells us about a prophecy he found on the back of Dave’s clock and explains his plan to capture time by controlling all the timekeepers in Hadna, even the King’s pocket watch. While Reinhardt and the rest of us keep Elnor and gang’s attention, Dave swipes the clock back and quietly walks away; before anyone notices, he’s gone.

We catch up with Dave ourselves later and immediately escape into the hills with him, the clock, and the donkey cart. When we examine the clock, we discover that Elnor misread the prophecy entirely: it wasn’t about five fools gathering, but being placed in the light of the full moon, which at the right moment, will reveal the Watchmaker’s will. Dave explains how he found the clock from a man frozen in an avalanche and how it saved him from servitude to cruel masters. Out in the mountains, Dave discovers that if he (but no one else) moves the hands of the clock, which had stopped working long ago, he can shift us through time, so we shift ourselves to the night of the full moon. Under its light, Dave speaks in the voice of the Watchmaker, asking what needs to be rectified. It seems we each get to change one moment in history, to correct one mistake.

Lydia returns to a moment before her family and home were destroyed in the war and rescues a peace envoy whose mission could avert the war entirely. Dave returns to improve his parent’s lives, so they will not be so destitute and uncaring as to sell him into servitude. Reinhardt changes a rescue of the king he performed, so the assassins don’t get as close and the king doesn’t become paranoid and fearful. Quill understands better how to approach Ivris about her experiments in exploring dreams in the hopes of finding a god’s true name and succeeds in getting the cleric’s cooperation back at the tavern. And Ivris decides to save her moment for another day.

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.

Venturing toward Phoenix

Tonight we played Venture by Riley Rethal as a group of adventurers living in a seaside port defined by a rivalry between its school of magic and its elegant cathedral. We are Jacques the Bard, Grifter the Rogue, Lordan the Wizard, Tabris the Cleric, and Malcolm the Fighter.

After working through our distrust of one another, we discover that the youth of the city have begun spreading graffiti through the use of magical vials of blue liquid. Through trial and error, we learn that when ingested the blue liquid enables the user to spray anti-religious words onto any surface. Through further investigation, we discover that the magic depends on the trapping of the spirit of newly reborn phoenixes. Struggling to return the young spirits to their rightful place, we perform a ritual to learn that a phoenix nests across the narrow sea atop a mountain, and promise to embark upon a quest to find it.