Monday, 13 July 2020

PARIAH ACTUAL PLAY — DISCORD SESSION 04

A summary of the FOURTH session of the discord live voice-chat game of PARIAH. Have a look at the previous session summary or indeed some of the posts collected under the label pariah or even visit https://atelier-hwei.itch.io/ if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

One of the problems writing up game sessions is remembering what happened.


It's not that I forge the story and general flow of events—this is usually pretty clear in my mind long after the session is finished—it's more the out-of-character decision making an mechanics that are fuzzy. While this is good for the game experience, I don't think this makes for especially rivetting reading: regular visiters to the blog will no that all to often I slip into a narrative format that... drags on a bit? Have a look at https://aloneinthelabyrinth.blogspot.com/search/label/campaign%20diary if you don't believe me!

So I'm sorry to report that there won't be so much in terms of mechanics and process going, but there will be battles with ANGRY APES (pictured).

DAY 9, CROW HALF-MOON


Weather is clear.

The party take some time to rest and recuperate, especially Quiet One, who has faced yet another brush with death and survived. In his own quiet way, he did his best to commune with the spirits, perhaps to unravel the mysteries of his own existence and mutation.

Witheringly-Footed-in-the-Point was able to trade a large animal bone for a spear and a shield, still hanging on to his old bonesword. He was able to strike up some conversation with some of Etau's warriors, and grasped that the chieftain was not happy with their performance against the ant queen.

Lake-in-the-Mountain spent some time learning about the settled peoples and their ways. He found the repetitive nature of some agricultural work boring, but found curious parallels with the rather dull diet that the settled people enjoyed.

Fox-through-the-Spring prepared some goat-hide to fashion himself a suit of primitive armour. In addition, he consulted with the adviser to chief Etau: the elder known as Wolfskin for the animal hide he draped over his shoulders and head. Wolfskin hinted that there might be other ways to overcome the Ant-Queen than direct conflict. More specifically, he suggested that the Ant-Queen was in fact a powerful spirit, and that an old witch living high in the mountains might be able to provide further assistance with her.

Note:
Two things. One, I said the witch was called Wounded Bird, which was annoying as they were separate characters and I didn't want players to have any preconceived ideas of her in case they read this blog. Admittedly, both witches were old women who lived in caves behind a waterfall but I promise I have an imagination and the two scenarios are significantly different.

Two, we had not really agreed what armour would do. My own preference for a prehistoric setting is  that armour be ablative, and that this is manifest as additional temporary HP that can be restored between combat encounters. Additionally, armour should provide resistance to damage types. I think leather should reduce slashing damage by 1.... but it can end up getting crunchy and the plan is not for players to be burdened with too much bookkeeping.


Back Up the Mountain

Once again the party arrived at the giant ant colony (described in the previous post), and once again there were no signs of life around the enormous ant mound (it would be a while before the party discovered that the ants only really ventured outside the colony to forage at dawn and dusk).

What was different on this occasion was the presence of the apes: they were nowhere to be seen. The hippos were happily wallowing in their pool a little further upstream.

As the party climbed the increasingly steep slopes, river they were following was broken up into a series of pools, cascades, streams and waterfalls. Spying a young goatherd, the party ascended the penultimate cascade to find a large pool, fed by a noisy waterfall falling from the mountainside.

The young goatherd stepped behind the waterfall and disappeared.

But the party were not alone.


Black Goat


Yes, this is black Philip from the VVITCH
An enormous black-furred goat watched them from the other side of the lake. The creature was the size of an auroch, much larger than a normal goat, and it's fur was so dark it was almost a silhouette. Even its eyes were entirely black, though reflecting the sun's light made them appear to be two obsidian gems.

Then it blinked revealing the eyes of a goat, and the party were not sure what they found to be less settling.

The party were wary, knowing that even if this were not to be a powerful spirit, an animal of such unnatural size would surely cause them great harm.

Quiet One said something to it, though I can't remember what it said in reply, other than it had a weird airy voice with some echo and it disappeared behind the waterfall.


Mother

They were instructed (invited?) to follow the child into the cavern behind the waterfall. Once again, Antelope  and the Nameless One Whisper remained on guard outside.

Within the cavern it was pitch dark, but small sconces in a side tunnel containing tiny fires provided  the faintest light by which to follow the tunnel down a series of steps.

The winding passage opened out into a small, domed chamber, within which an old woman and the small boy goatherd were sat on the ground by a fire. There was no smoke of which to speak, and a fragrant smell emanated from the stew pot sat directly within the fire.

Addressed as Wounded Bird, the old woman chuckled, stating that Wounded Bird was long dead, and that her name was Mother. The young goatherd did not speak, but it was revealed that his name was Boy.

Talk was extensive and went into how Mother did not fear the ant-queen, claiming that she could destroy her in the bat of an eye if she wished. She also claimed to born of the union between the Great Spirit of the Sea and the Hidden Spirits of the Mountain, so it's hard to know how much of what she said carried any merit.

The party reluctantly ate stew, but were assured by their food tasting skills that it was merely curry goat—and very tasty it was, too. Conversation veered this way and that, with the old witch revealing she knew of the party's travelling companions, and also telling them not to fear the Old Goat.

Mother did grant them a small gift in the form of a a magic potion: once Wither had drunk from the cup, he counted the remaining leaves at the bottom. Each one, when chewed, would grant him (and him alone) the power to communicate with animals for a short time. This would enable the party to gain safe passage through the ant colony.


Gaining a name?

Before the party left, Mother followed them to the mouth of the cave, calling Whisper to her. After looking into her yes and saying something quietly into her ear, the old witch bid the party farewell and hobbled down to the cavern.

Whisper seemed somehow more lively, more engaged, leading Fox to postulate that she had perhaps acquired a new name—a true name, to reflect the return of her own soul.

Quiet One ventured into the darkness of the cave to offer thanks to the old witch, but mother did not respond to his discussion with the darkness.

The party were understandably buoyant, especially after Whisper took out a deer with one shot, promising to cook a feast for the pariahs that evening.


When apes attack

Upon returning to the clearing, from the south side this time, the party saw a large gathering of white apes mustering on the western edge. With the river between them, they dashed northward hoping to use the ant mound as some kind of cover. The apes divided into two groups, attempting a pincer-type movement on the pariahs.

Whisper's talent with the bow was exploited, but unfortunately her aim was not good enough to take out the apparent leader of the troop, a bald ape wielding an engorged tree root as a club.

A very messy melee ensued. Fox powered through the waves of simian assault, and Quiet One jumped on the skull of the fallen ape-leader to intimidate the remaining followers, while once again Wither found himself grappling with an enemy of greater strength.

Ultimately the apes made their greater numbers count, and though they suffered heavy losses they were able to beat a retreat with 3 pariahs in tow. Though worse for wear, Wither was able to struggle free, slaying his abductor.

Lake, Quiet One and Fox pursued the two apes carrying Antelope into the forest, but were unable to keep up with them. Wither limped up behind them, and presented them with his plan.


An unlikely ally

Using the magic leaf, Wither was able to negotiate with the ants, theorising that they could broker a deal with their queen to help them find Whisper and Antelope. An enormous worker ant emerged, claiming that this was a tricky proposition as the party had only a week ago murdered four of the Queen's children. It disappeared into the hive, emerging moments later with a proposition of its own:

In return for an audience with the ant-queen, they would have to give the colony their faithful auroch, Rocky.

Flea the dog released a mournful howl.

* * *

Find out what happens in the next exciting instalment—SESSION 05 & 06 mega-post!

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