Monday, February 23, 2015

The Keepers Session Report 7: Srady's Penny Part 1

This is late in coming.  Let's get to what was a fantastic session.  Srady's Penny was the second of a
series of story arcs based on my characters.  During these story arcs, one character is put front and center.  Last time I had made a mistake, not doing anything to draw the other players in, so I crafted a bit of a b-plot to try and give them something to do.

This session was centered around Ash Wiseowl, Kyra's character.  Ash is an Ursyklon[1] and an "archaeology major", or a thief in other words.  With a bit of a fiery temper and big ambitions, she often goes big instead of going small.  Sometimes that gets her in trouble.  In this story, she stole something valuable, but for a good reason.

Scene Question: Do Aldo and Gav let the Ratkings take Faru?
Before the session started I had asked my players for three truths.  The truths I got weaved a rather elegant tale: Ash stole a valuable painting, and by the start of the session, had been caught and drug through a rather insulting tirade of questions from journalists.

At the start of the session I gave Kyra the background matter, based on the truths the players had given me.  I asked her to think things over and decide where the painting had been stashed.  I never ran the part about the painting being stolen.  Instead I let Ash's player digest the information and spend a few minutes to decide how her character acted after stealing the Solemn Crown, the painting in question.

Until she was ready, I turned the spotlight on another player, on the b-story of the arc.  Gav Zarak and the rest of the Keepers (except for Ash, who was busy pulling a caper), were with Gav's best friend, Aldo.  A member of the Ratkings came to confront them about another NPC member of Gav's gang, a young boy named Faru.  The Ratkings are a gang of sewerdwellers, with some affinity for rats.

The man claimed to be Faru's father, and wanted his son returned.  Aldo and Gav refused.  The man took offense at Gav's attitude toward him.  Afterward Gav asked Faru about it.  The small boy fled from Gav and the rest of the gang, insisting he had to leave to protect them from the "others."

Confused, Gav wasn't able to follow when Ash appeared.

A rough sketch of "The Solemn Crown"
By Finley of Northcrown
Scene Question: Does Ash react well to the insulting questions of the journalists as she's being brought into Crimsonspire for her arrest?

Ash, after making sure the painting had been hidden, was arrested and taken to Crimsonspire.  Home to one of the three police forces in Crux, the Metropolitan Police.  The tall red building was covered in press too.

Ash didn't react peacefully to the journalists questions.  Most were insulting, questioning if she were part of some Ursyklon plot to take over the city.  As she was dragged up into Crimsonspire she screamed and cursed.

The Metro tried to interrogate Ash.  But she had none of it.  She asked them politely to tell her the fastest way out of the building.  They didn't like that.

After being left alone to "think on her options," Ash had no trouble getting out of her bonds.  Ash has a stunt that prevents her from being detained- she always can find a way to escape.  The small and fierce ursyklon uncovered a hidden passage out of the interrogation room, uncuffed herself and walked out of Crimsonspire.  She headed for Poorfellows, to get Gav and the rest to help her.

"You stole the most important painting in history!"  Gav exclaimed when Ash explained in Station House.

"Well, that isn't the reason I stole it."  Ash replied.  "I stole it for a better cause."

Ash explained to the rest of the Keepers how the painting had a map to a missing artifact of her clan.  The Wiseowls had lost a coin, called Srady's Penny, thousands of years of ago.  But on the back of the painting should be a map left that leads the way to finding the Srady's Penny.

No one knows what Srady's Penny does, only that its own supposedly did all sorts of trickery with it.

Professor Rill knocking at the door startled Ash, and she convinced the rest of the Keepers to follow her through the Station House door that exited into the Wolf Quarter.  Since the Station House could connect distant parts of Crux through its magic, the Keepers quickly arrived near where Ash had stowed the painting known as the Solemn Crown.

The Solemn Crown was painted by Finley of North Crown, a famous artist from five centuries previous.  It depicted Boilfalls, a waterfall that drained a hotspring in the volcanic Burning Mountains north of Crux.  A beautiful piece, the Solemn Crown is considered Finley's greatest work.  Ash stole it from the Chancellor's private collection, but her accomplice- a feyborn Ferret by the name of Kaze Skysword- managed to get away with it.

Ash takes the Keepers to where she and Kaze are supposed to meet: her sister's home in the Wolf Quarter.

Scene Question: Do the Keepers find where Ash has hidden the Painting?
The Keepers ascend a building that is part tree and part stone.  At the very top they arrive at Ash's Sisters, an apartment full of songbirds.  Ash's Sister (I somehow have forgotten her name, I need to remember to write it down), showed how much she despised Ash.

With a face full of scars, she let the Keepers into her home.  On the floor were the three ferrets, hogtied.  Aghast, Ash asked why.

"I had to.  Little murderers wanted to eat my songbirds.  You always let them eat my songbirds."

After untying Kaze, he pulled out the a tube with the painting in it.  A tiny painting, the Keepers copied the map on the back of it.  Meanwhile, Pyro was fascinated by the merging of plant and stone that comprised the building.

The Keepers then left.  Ash's Sister, relieved to finally have them out of her home, made a snarky comment about Ash's goal to go into Gruudl to look for the coin.  "And I hope you go into Gruudl without permission.  I'm sure you'd look great as a tree."

Ash pauses, thinking that over.

But not for too long.  The Keepers exited the building, entering Tengril Square.  A trio of figures greeted them.

"Hand over the little lass," a bounty hunter with a rifle told them.  "All we want is her."

And that was where we ended it.

Unlike the previous story, this one kind of rocked.  Considering I was sick when I ran it, I managed to do well.  Also unlike the previous story, most of the content this time was collaboratively driven.  The idea of it being a relic hunt was something Ash's player suggested.  Having Faru appear as part of a b-plot was another player's suggestion- Gav's- because he wanted to interact with his character's NPCs more.

I also had each player help me create the map of the place that Srady's Penny was being kept.  Each of them contributed something to that map.  All I did was draw it out.  Later I would add complications, but they would find them in part 2.

I felt more on track with this story arc.  My style relies on players being proactive, and me reacting to them.  I help them find plotlines if they are floundering, but most of the time they know what they want their characters to be doing.

1Ursyklons are a race resembling halflings, but to call them that is to use a racial slur.  Feral and lupine, they once came to this world as interstellar conquerors, but have long since forgotten the secrets that let them sail between the stars.
All Artwork on this page belongs to and was created by me.  They are free to be reused or colored as linework, so long as credit is linked back to me,