Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Multitudinous Seas Incarnadine, Session 8

18 March 2008

Session Summary

The Humans choose Flak
The Vaylen choose Take Action against the Humans

Roy's Building: While Elisha is researching the ancestor cult, he discovers that (a) the wild Mukhadish have a primitive religion similar to the ancestor cult, (b) only Mukhadish who have borne a child can be mediums, (c) mediumship is unique to the Muhkadish on this planet, (d) Muhkadish can detect their blood relations through smell, (e) the strongest mediums are the ones who give birth to the strongest male children, and (f) one of the areas with herds that produce the best mediums is also a hotbed of recent pirate activity. [Elisha's Research: Ob3 on 7d]

Upon finding this, he tracks down Jael. "A connection between the pirates and the ancestor cult. I knew it," Jael says. Jael starts trying to make connections to the island: any mediums, any known pirate henchmen, etc. [Jael's Investigative Logic Ob2 on 6d; help from Elisha (Muhkadish-wise)] Using the DNA taken from Elisha's wounds, Jael discovers that Goliath is Elizabeth's son.

Ted's Interstitial: The Archcotare arrives in the capital to tell Michael it's time for him to deal with the ancestor cult. Michael is concerned about what will happen to the Muhkadish if the cult is shut down; Daniel says that he doesn't care, so long as the normal workings of the Wheel are interfered with. Daniel suggest that Michael insinuate himself into Miriam's good graces as her chapelin.

Paul's Interstitial (Daniel): Daniel meets with Tay (apparently at Tay's request).

Christina's Intersitial: Miriam, alerted about Daniel's meeting with Tay, summons him to the palace.

Miriam: "Spoke with my son today."
Daniel: "Yes, my nephew was interested in talking with me."
Miriam: "I suppose I can guess what about."
Daniel: "Can you?"

Miriam notices that Daniel is watching her the same way the Psychologist did.

[Daniel's Psychology: Ob5 on 6d]

He realizes that Miriam thinks Michael put Tay up to talking to him about joining the Church and that she will not take such interference with her family lightly.

Daniel: "Is that really what you think he came to talk to me about?"

Miriam reveals that Tay had seen a Psychologist, and as Daniel leaves, her body language is clear: "I won't have you stealing the rest of my family, Daniel."

Roy's Color: Jael and Elisha, while drinking and eating the intoxicating Kerrn delicacy.

Elisha: "Maybe this Pitr, he has the Koro."
Jael: "Koro?"
Elisha: "It is this disorder where the human feels his penis is retreating to his body."
Jael: "Can it do that?"
Elisha: "No."

Miriam's Color: Meanwhile, in Miriam's bedroom.

Miriam: "Do you want to talk about it?"
Pitr: "No."
Miriam: "Is it about Jael?"

Paul's Conflict: Pitr jumps Nimrod in the hall and beats him up, humiliating him before they're pulled apart.

[Close Quarters One-Roll
Pitr: Ob3 on 5d (5s)
Nimrod: Ob5 on 6d (3s)

Michael's Color: Michael finishes talking with Miriam's mother, hugs her medium, and walks out with the hint of a tear in his eye.

Roy's Conflict: Jael confronts Miriam with the evidence of pirate infiltration of the ancestor cult.

Miriam: "Where's Pitr?"
Jael:"Last time I spoke with him, he said he had other priorities. Which apparently include beatin up my signals tech!"
Elisha: "Have you noticed if Pitr has a problem with his penis?"
Miriam: *laugh*
Elisha: I take it that is a yes?
Jael: Enough about Pitr, enough about Nimrod, enough about external genatalia.

Later, as the family prepares for a ceremonial dinner, the argument reignites, with Michael siding with Miriam and Tay siding with Jael.

Jael: "Tay, when you were working with the pirates, did you ever meet Elizabeth's son?"

Jael realizes that an attack against the ancestor cult is an attack against Miriam, but they both agree to increase security around the mediums, including the island where the mediums are harvested. Jael suggests that she and Miriam review recording of the meeting with her mother afterwards.

Miriam: "I don't want hearing what's said between me and my mother. It's just a matter of piety."
Jael: Just play them back when you're not in the moment to make sure there's nothing suspicious."

Jael: Persuasion, 1 Routine
Miriam: Persuasion, 1 Routine
Elisha: Rhetoric, 1 Routine
Michael: Persuasion, 1 Routine
Tay: Persuasion, 1 Routine]

Roy's Interstitial: Jael goes to tell Cerelia she's failed in her attempts to undermine the cult. She's

Jael: "It is too important to her, to her rule, to just cast aside."
Cerelia: "Well, you did what you could."
Jael: "I have concessions. You will increase the security at your family's harvesting operations."
Cerelia: "Jael, it is our place to advise. It is hers to rule."
Jael: "Has this happened to you before?"
Cerelia: "Of course.
Jael: "How, how are you sure again? When your advice is wrong, because she knows it it wrong, how are you sure enough to advise her again?"
Cerelia: "A very wise man once told me, if you're dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you're smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you. The truth is like a slippery fish. It is hard for any one person to hold on to it. We make our choices, we advise her as best we can, by the mere fact that she continues to ask our opinion, we know that they are worth listening to. We are not the smart people surrounding the dumb one."
Jael: "You set my mind at ease."

They agree that Tay would be a good person to head up the security operations.

Ted's Building: At his hidden facility, Michael begins converting the Muhkadish trainees to the Church (albeit his slightly heretical flavor of the Church). [Michael's Persuasion: Ob2 on 5d]

Later, Michael bribes a temple official and obtains a copy of Miriam's mother's braintape. [Michael's Scheme-wise: Ob1 on 3d; Resources: Ob4 on 8d; failed, Gift of Kindness, taxed 1]

End of Maneuver

Daniel's Investigative Logic: Ob1 on 7d (3s)
Miriam's Persuasion; help from Michael (Persuasion, Court-wise)
Offense: 6d (5s)
Defense: Ob3 on 3d (1s)

Vaylen: 14, Humans 13

Epilogue: At the ceremonial feast, we see that no matter what the rifts are between specific family members (including Daniel), they're still a family; communications are still working and the rituals still occur. "At the end of the day, even if they disagree, there's still this other level of interaction.

Daniel avoids Tay.

Things we learned (fiction)

There is some biological agent in the atmosphere that causes a high percentage of miscarriages among female children. The Church condemns going off-planet to conceive because you're going against the Wheel. When they were in power, the Church benefited from families not having heirs. Now that they are no longer in power and more upper-class families can afford to go off-planet, the merchant clans have become more stable and more of a political threat to the Church.

Muhkadish genes are very easily sequenced and family relationships are trivial to determine.

Pitr and Cerelia's family is big in the medium-harvesting business.

Muhkadish culture emphasizes being servile.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Multitudinous Seas Incarnadine, Session 7

4 March 2008

New Characters
  • Rachel: Makeda's eldest and favored daughter
  • Leah: Makeda's younger daughter

Session Summary

The Humans choose Take Action against the Vaylen
The Vaylen choose Take Action against the Humans

Paul's Interstitial (Hagar): Hagar, Ahab, and Jabin plot to purge the traitors and informers from their ranks.

Christina's Color: A funeral procession for those martyred by the pirates, led by Muhkadish mediums, comes to the gates of the Cathedral, which are closed to them. The mediums are recounting the ways in which the martyrs died and the procession denounces the impiety of the pirates.

Paul's Conflict Scene (Omri) : While Jael and Nimrod examine their data on the pirates, Nimrod raises the possibility that Pitr is either a willing or unwilling spy. While Jael talks about duty, Nimrod focuses on Pitr's ambition. Jael agrees to cut Pitr out of the loop until his loyalty can be proved. Nimrod's respect for Jael grows as a result of his willingness to run an isolation op.

[Duel of Wits: Jael's Persuasion, 1 Routine; Nimrod's Persuasion, 1 Challenging; Jael ends up with a complicated Relationship with Nimrod.]

Ted's Intersitial: Michael finds Cerelia and Miriam having breakfast and reviewing the footage from the funeral procession. Cerelia leaves. Michael's been trying to understand what's happened to Tay, and he's concerned that Tay was coming after Miriam next. Michael suggests that they use Miriam as bait for a pirate trap.

Michael: "I don't want to use Tay again. I want to give him a chance."
Miriam: "I'm giving him a chance."
Michael: "By fucking over everything he's worked for?"
Miriam: "Yes, when what his work was was to betray me. I'm giving him another chance by allowing him to tear this down. After all his treachery has been buried with his own hands, then we can start again."

Miriam wants to make sure she can count on Michael's military support.

Miriam: "Will this be official or unofficial?"
Michael: "Does it matter?"
Miriam: "It matters a great deal to me."
Michael: "I think it's too early to make it public. Rumors are fine, but I will not be used for your propaganda."
Miriam: "I don't want to appear to be in Daniel's debt."

Paul's (Hagar) Building: Hagar rounds up a traitor in her ranks (someone from Makeda) and executes him in front of the assembled pirate fleet. [Hagar's Circles: Ob5 on 8d] "We have been for too long under the thumb of the Forged Lord and crushed beneath the Wheel of the Church. We must band together if we are to find a new place for ourselves, if we are to raise ourselves up. But there are some who do not share our dream. Some who feel it is better to sell out the dreams of their companions. Some who feel that this world is not worth sacrifice. For them, there can be but one fate. *blam* Such is the fate of all who would oppose the future. Who would keep those down that would rise above their stations. Such is the fate of the old world, for we are the new!"

Roy's Building: In the war room at the Cathedral, Jael, Michael, Esau discuss the pirate situation. Jael: "We lost a good man today, shot like a gaffed pike."

They plan ambush to draw out the pirate leaders. Jael asks, "What can we do to convince them that we've actually put the Forged Lord at risk?" Tay plants rumors among the pirates that Miriam is arranging a marriage for him.

[Jael's Investigative Logic: Ob5 on 8d (6s); help from Michael (Scheme-wise, Conspicious) and Miriam (Noble-wise) vs. Hagar's Investigative Logic: Ob6 on 7d (5s)]

[Hagar's Circles: Ob5 on 8d; Enmity Clause, the observers are Tay's men]

[Troops' Infiltration: Ob3 on lots of dice; help from Jael (Command) and Michael (Strategy, Sodalis-wise)]

Christina's Interstitial: Just before the ambush, Tay reassures Miriam that Michael will be fine. He asks about what the Psychologist did to him.

Tay: "Is this affection I feel for him real, or is this something you put in my head? I don't know any more."
Miriam: "I think it's real, but remember, you chose to let the Psychologist in. I never would have forced that on you."

Miariam: "Tell me, why was it Makeda that you listened to?"
Tay: "Maybe because her family is much like my father's and mine: discontent with their place in this world, scrabling for a higher rung. A kindred spirit? Maybe it was just the right words at the right time. Maybe she said something that resonated with me. Maybe I wanted to prove myself to you. Maybe I wanted to prove myself to him. Do we really know so much about why it is we do what we do?"
Miriam: "Your interests and mine don't have to conflict."
Tay: "It's hard not to hate you for what you have done. But you're right, I need to look at things rationally. Sometimes we're forced to do things by our circumstances, not because we want to do them, but because we must."
Miriam: "So what you're saying is that if I married you to any woman, I wouldn't be able to trust either of you not to betray me again."
Tay: "Yes."
Miriam: "I can respect that." Thought bubble: "He's like his father."

Ted's Conflict: On a small island, the ambush takes place. Michael's forces steamroll the pirates, capturing Ahab, though Jabin and the flagship escape.

[Firefight: Michael's Command: 1 Routine; Tactics, Ob3 on 6d; Close Combat Ob5; Esau's Command, 1 Routine; Tactics, Ob 3; SSW Ob2 on 5d; Ahab's Signals, 1 Routine; Command, 1 Challenging; Tactics, 1 Challenging; Jabin: VW Ob3 on base ]

Roy's Interstitial: Later, Pitr storms in to Jael's office.

Pitr: "Why wasn't I informed?"
Jael: "Why would you have been informed?"
Pitr: "I'm her husband."
Jael: Thought bubble: "We fooled him too. Is that why we fooled them?" Aloud: "I assure you, she was never in any danger."
Pitr: "I saved your life, Jael. I deserve better than this."
Jael: "We have a job. I did it. I didn't take action against you. I didn't put your wife at risk. How is it that I have wronged you in this?"
Pitr: "I don't know enough about Kerrn biology to know whether or not the idea of impotence gets through your skull. I have a role to play in this. I have something that she has given me to do and you have taken that from me."
Jael: "This human problem is something that thankfully we do not suffer from, this castration fear you all carry around with you."
Pitr: "I trusted you, Jael. I thought we had an understanding."
Jael: "I thought we had an understanding, too. I thought we had an understanding that we would do whatever it took to protect the Forged Lord. Tell me, wouldn't you do everything for her?"
Pitr: "Did it work?"
Jael: "I worked very well, and I would appreciate your input as we reviewed the debriefings."
Pitr: "I'm sorry. There's something else I need to do."

Christina's Building: In space again, Miriam meets with Makeda to discuss marrying Erik to one of Makeda's daughter to seal the bond between the families. Makeda offers Rachel, but Miriam suggests Leah for Erik's sake.

[Miriam's Circles: Erik (Ob4 on 8d; help from Michael; Enmity) and Leah (Ob3 on 9d; help from Michael; predisposed, relationship)]

Ted's Color: On the Isle of Beasts, Uriel frustratedly realizes that her medical texts on Muhkadish didn't have a large enough sample size for their studies.

Roy's Color: In a scene very reminiscent of the opening, Ahab's interrogation begins. Jael presents his findings to Miriam, who denounces the pirates to the merchant league.

End of Maneuver

Jael's Investigative Logic: Ob2 on 7d (2s); help from Michael and Miriam (Rhetoric); 2 Persona
Hagar's Investigative Logic: Ob2 on 7d (2s)

Vaylen: 19, Humans 15

Epilogue: The merchants give the Forged Lord a standing ovation while Pitr consults his encrypted files.

Things we learned (fiction)

Pirate ship going underwater would be cool.

The Church is gendered female (and has lots of husbands).

List-making is masculine.

Makeda has two daughters, Rachel (the favored daughter, two husbands) and Leah (the other, no husbands)

Things we learned (rules)

As long as you know roughly what both sides want from a DoW, you don't have have to spell it out exactly beforehand.

Against independent actions, all Point successes reduce Body of Argument (same thing with Take Action).

Cloaking against Sensors is best combined with cloaking against Signals.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Multitudinous Seas Incarnadine, Session 6

19 Feb 2008

New Characters
  • Nimrod: Security specialist, formerly employed by Anvil Lord Omri

Session Summary

The Humans choose Take Action against the Vaylen.
The Vaylen choose Flak.

Paul's Interstitial (Daniel) : Late at night at the Temple, Levi hands over a datapad to Daniel. "You're right, Levi," says the Archcotare. "The time to take action has come."

Christina's Interstitial: In the family throne room, Tay reluctantly accepts his orders from Miriam but blames her for his current state.

Tay: "I don't understand. Why won't you let me see my father?"
Miriam: "I don't trust him."
Tay: "Like you didn't trust me? Maybe you could send him to the moon."

Before he leaves, Miriam gets Tay to admit his role in the smuggling operation, which was entirely commercial: buying stolen goods, money laundering, etc.

Tay: "What do you want me to do? Stop selling them grain or poison it?"
Miriam: "They don't all know that you've turned yet. I say we insinuate ourselves deeper. I presume it won't be too much of a burden on you to pretend disloyalty to me."
Tay: "Before we do, I'd like to speak to Grandmother."

Roy's Interstitial: Somewhere in Jael's chambers (where Jael's Kerrn-scale workout equipment has been brought), Jael questions Tay yet again about the pirates. "I owe your mother the loyalty of a daughter, but I don't owe you the loyalty of a sister," says Jael. Tay tries to get Jael to question Miriam's loyalty towards her. "You hate the Muhkadish, don't you? Doesn't it grate on you that she goes and listens to them?" Tay asks. But Jael is having none of it.

Tay admits that Miriam was the Pirate Queen's next target. "She wanted you for what you did to her, but then she saw that you were merely the knife, not the hand that holds it. She has grand ambitions. I spoke with her once. She is a driven and dangerous woman. She rejects the teachings of the Church. She sees the Wheel as slavery. She would break the chains of this world. But, I sensed in her a tiredness. A sense that perhaps time had passed her by. Perhaps this world no longer had room for her. Perhaps she'd grown to big for it. Perhaps she was like the [fish], that when it grows too large and too old is nibbled to death by its children. Perhaps she could sense her children coming for her. . . Children. . . She has a daughter in the Church."

Based on this recollection, Jael and Tay identify Uriel as Hagar's daughter.

Ted's Color: Tay, wandering the palace, checks the old dead-drop caches that he and Erik used as children and finds a message from Michael.

Roy's Color: During a training exercise, Michael's computer systems alert him that Jael has run a security scan on Uriel's records.

Paul's Interstitial (Omri): At a secret meeting in orbit, Makeda introduces Security Specialist Nimrod and Jael. Makeda has drafted him into service (which doesn't come cheaply) from her ex-lover Lord Omri to help repay her debt to Miriam. Nimrod is deferential to Jael and enthusiastic about the idea of working together. Nimrod hands over communications data from Omri's files to help spy on the pirates. He admits his previous employer had problems with the pirates. Miriam is outwardly pleased but inwardly frustrated with Makeda: "She's outwitted me again. First she gives my son back to me, and now she gives this other man."

Paul's Conflict (Hagar): Michael forces a meeting with Jael and Tay about Uriel, with Uriel listening through the curtain and speaking in Michael ear. Tay is eager to prove himself to Michael and reveals the information about Uriel's parentage. Tay says, "We thought you should know there's a possibility of a spy in your ranks."

[Duel of Wits: Tay's Persuasion, 1 Routine; Michael's Persuasion, 1 Routine; Jael: Persuasion, 1 Routine; Uriel's Oratory, 1 Routine]

Tay tries to press the issue, but Michael shows them the precautions he's already taken, but Jael realizes that when it comes to his family, Michael's intentions are to be trusted.

Michael: "She married another because of my failure."

Paul's Color (Daniel): Simultaneous planetwise sermons condemn the ancestor cult and announce an upcoming address by the

Paul's Interstitial (Daniel): Daniel calls his brother to discuss the sermons. "I know we disagree about many things, brother, but can we not agree that this is an abomination?" he asks. They spar about the relationship of Muhkadish to the Wheel. ("Do you question my authority, Cotar Fomas?" "Not at all, Daniel.") They eventually agree that the ancestor cult is tantamount to slavery.

Christina's Building: Miriam talks with Jael about the sermon.

Miriam: "It's obvious what they were aiming at. Do you understand why? ... You realize the face of politics on this world relies on the negotiations between our families, between our long-lived clans and our ancestors. And that the easiest way for the Church to regain power is to destroy the political bonds that everyone else works to ensure they can't."
Jael: "Would you not have the same ancestors without these Muhkadish to speak for them."
Miriam: "If you can't bring your ancestors to the table and they have no voice, then how can you possibly form bonds with them?"
Jael: "Come. You must know what they are like, as I know about my Motha, and my Motha's Motha, all the way back to the Kerrn who stood before the Emperor. I can speak for them without any alien to speak for me." Miriam: "You were there when we welcomed Makeda. You've seen that happen a millions times. Explain to me how we could have done that, where it would have had that sort of effect on her, on us, where it would have affirmed those bonds without..."
Jael: "You know I haven't seen what goes on in that chamber! I see what happens afterward, but what they say there..."
Miriam: "They say the same thing as if you loaded a brain tape on you computer, I suppose. That's not the point. The point is that the Church is trying to take away one of my most valuable political tools, and they're trying to do it through the realm of doctrine, which is how they always do it."
Jael: "Well, can you not, as they say, each two fish with one gulp? What if you did use a computer?"
Miriam: "The palpible prescence of our ancestors is what gives them their power."

Miriam encourages Jael to attack the Church's position by making it an attack on the ancestors rather than their representation, thus angering the populace.

Roy's Conflict: Jael, having discovered that Levi is the originator of the sermon, contacts him. Jael, playing off of Levi's hatred of the Muhkadish, whips him into a frenzy.

[Duel of Wits: Jael's Persuasion, 1 Challenging; Levi's Oratory, 1 Challenging]

Michael becomes aware that this call happened.

Ted's Building Scene: Michael, concerned about the fate of Muhkadish, approaches Tay about setting up an "underground railroad" for them. Tay agrees and spends a sizeable fortune to set up a secret training facility for Muhkadish forces on a small, out-of-the-way island. [Michael's Scheme-wise: Ob1 on 3d; Resources: Ob 8 on 10d; help from Tay, failed by 4; Michael taxed 2, Tay taxed 4]

Later, Michael confronts Uriel in her lab about her mother. "This is what I was born to. She abandoned me to it. I have no bond with her. I owe her nothing. Tell me what to do." [Uriel's Pharmacology: Ob6 on 5d]

Christina's Color: Miriam uses the ancestor cult to mobilize protests against the Archcotare's address, particularly war veterans.

Paul's (Daniel) Building: The Archcotare implores the faithful to reject the cult's teachings. "For too long, the Church has remained silent and allowed these dead voices to speak and to be heard. ... I know that many of you long for the touch, for those voices of those you held dear, those who have left us, those who have gone to the sea. But we must not, we cannot, we shall not let the living be controlled by the dead." This goes well until he brings the Forged Lord into it, at which point it looks like a blantant political move. [Daniel's Oratory: Ob8 on 8d vs. Miriam's Propaganda: Ob2 on 8d + 2 Persona]

Remaining rolls:

Michael contacts Cedric, the Muhkadish leader, who leads a troop of Muhkadish to the island [Michael's Circles: Ob4 on 10d; relationship established]

Miriam checks on Tay's activities and discovers the island. [Miriam's Accounting: Ob1 on 5d]

End of Maneuver

Jael's Investigative Logic: Ob1 on 6d (3s)
Daniel's Oratory: Offense: Open on 5d (2s), Defense: Ob3 on 5d (1s) (help from Levi with Oratory and Locals-wise)

Vaylen: 21, Humans 17

Epilogue: Levi calls Jael to apologizes for his failure, and Jael realizes Levi is in her power.

Things we learned (fiction)

The land around the Temple is always frozen.

There are multiple throne rooms in the palace.

Nimrod is very competent but has a history with Pitr.

Conversations with the dead are more private than conversations with the living.

There is both a braintape and non-braintape method of channeling the ancestors.

Things we learned (rules)

Thinking about each maneuver as an issue of a comic book helps.

If you can't immediately set the stakes, you probably shouldn't have a Duel of Wits (yet).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Nerds On The Beach

This past weekend was the second Nerdly Beach Party, an RPG get-together inspired by the east coast's Camp Nerdly. For the second year in a row, roleplayers from northern and southern California camped out at San Simeon State Park, in the shadow of Hearst Castle, to game. This year's attendance grew from 14 to 22, and our organizing prowess grew to compensate. But I'm not here to talk about the event, I'm here to talk about what I played.

Friday evening I facilitated two simultaneous playtests of A Penny For My Thoughts. If I been thinking, I would have printed out the most recent draft to see if the "read it at the table" procedures work yet. Alas, I forgot, so I had to explain it. Fortunately, writing that chapter drilled into my head how to explain the game, so it was pretty easy. I floated between the two groups, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Saturday morning I convinced Josh Roby to start a campaign mode game of Sons of Liberty. Originally it looked there were only going to be three of us, so I figured we could get a couple of battles in, but a few more players turned out. Our Patriots were John Hancock (Albert Andersen), Paul Revere (myself), George Washington (John Kim), Sam "Ringo" Adams (Michael Parker), and Abigail "Yoko" Adams (Meghann Ahern), while Josh took up the Tory mantle. Sadly, the Beatles references mostly stopped after the travel hand. Highlight of the game: after converting freed clockwork slaves to Deism, we had to fight the Tory Robo-Theist. It was a big disorganized at first, but it turned into a lot of silly fun, as usual.

Saturday afternoon I finally got to try out Dirty Secrets, which I've been looking forward to since GenCon last year. Jesse Burneko declared that I would be the Investigator, and I was only to happy to oblige. We played the novella-length game (which was just about right) with a total of five players (which I think was perhaps one too many). I think novella is probably the sweet spot for this game, and I think it would absolutely sing with three players. In any case, it landed smack dab in the middle of what I want out of a collaborative mystery game. It was great fun working with Jesse, Laura, Morgan, and Colin to make sense out of what the game was giving us.

Saturday night I dipped my toe into a playtest of unWritten, but we were all so tired that we stopped after the first round. It's got a lot of potential, and it's already got two things going for it that will score points in my book. First, there's a mechanism to reward people for presenting obstacles that the other players find interesting enough to engage. Second, every scene, whether you engage the conflict mechanics or not, results in a mechanical change to the character and the setting. I'd like to try this again as the text gets polished a bit more.

Sunday I only got one game in, but it might have been the most satisfying single-session game I've played. Ryan, Jesse, Laura, and I busted out a game of In a Wicked Age, which I've been longing to play since Dreamation. We had pretty much a perfect confluence of gaming styles and personal knowledge, so we ended up playing to each other to great effect. There's a more detailed discussion of this game over on Ryan's LiveJournal, but the quick summary is that we all had wicked amounts of fun.

And that was the weekend. We're hoping to do it again in late September. If it's half as fun as this one, I'd gladly go again.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Multitudinous Seas Incarnadine, Session 5

12 Feb 2008

New Characters
  • Lord-Pilot Magnate Makeda: head of Clan Kraken, Avram's mother, and the primary conspirator among the merchants
  • Cedric: a leader of the Muhkadish

Session Summary

The Humans choose Assess the Factions

Paul's Color (Hagar): Jabin slips Goliath in to the temple complex to visit Elizabeth, his mother.
[Jabin's Infiltration: Ob3 on 4d]

Roy's Building: Jael, Miriam, Michael, and Cerelia meet to discuss their current position. (Michael is present via super-secret comm link.) Jael's investigation has revealed that the primary connection between the pirates's is Clan Kraken, headed by Lord-Pilot Magnate Makeda. [Jael's Investigative Logic: Ob3 on 9d; help from Miriam (Accounting), Cerelia (Accounting), and Avram (Court Gossip-wise)] Miriam suggests considering revoking their charter; Cerelia counters that the evidence so far isn't strong enough justify such an action without tremendous outcry from the other clans. Jael, in his search for leverage over the Church, has been looking for incriminating prostitutes but doesn't have any hard evidence yet. ("The dregutai are celebate. . . nominally.") [Jael's Investigative Logic: Ob3 test on 6d; help from Michael] Michael suggests that the Muhkadish represent an opportunity rather than a necessary threat, which Jael and Cerelia object to. In private, Jael relates to Miriam a story from Elisha about the fall of another planet due to Vaylen infiltration of the Muhkadish. [Elisha's Human History: Open test on 6d]The primary divergence from this world is that the Mukhadish were all free, rather than slaves. Miriam thanks Jael for the advice. "The reason I keep you by my side is your paranoia."

Paul's Conflict (Hagar): Lord-Pilot Magnate Makeda comes to visit the Forged Lord. After the ceremonal exchange of gifts (performed by the Mukhadish ancestors), Makeda confronts Miriam about Tay's imprisonment. Miriam convinces her that Miriam's marriage to Avram binds their families together and they must both face the pirates. "I see from the ancestors you brought that you value the bonds of marriage. That's what hold us and our planet together." Makeda assents and agrees to convince Tay to accept the Psychologist's touch.

[Duel of Wits:
Miriam's Persuasion, 1 Routine
Makeda's Persuasion, 1 Routine]

Ted's Color: In flashback to before he joined the League, Tay gives Michael power of attorney over his medical care when he's incapacitated.

Roy's Color: Jael and Cerelia have been sponsoring a campaign of violence against the Mukhadish. A gang of local toughs beat a Mukhadish to death.

Christina's Interstitial: In flashback to near the beginning of Tay's imprisonment, Miriam calls Michael from the moon to confront Michael about Tay's legal situation.

Miriam: "Technically, this will be easier if I have your permission."
Michael: "So you're willing to let him back into your life? You know that's a risk."
Miriam: "That's the same with everyone else in my life."
Michael: "Jael usually doesn't let people who betray you back in the building."
Miriam: "But we know there are exceptions."

Michael: "You promise you'll give him a chance to shine?"

Michael:"You're not going to just stick him in a room somewhere?"
Miriam: "No, I plan to marry him off."
Michael: "Marriage doesn't always work."

Michael assents to the procedure.

Roy's Interstitial: Elisha, hearing that Miriam is looking for a Psychologist, comes to talk with her about her relationship with her husbands and with Tay.
Elisha: "These men that you marry, they trust you, are at their most vulnerable with you, are they not?"
Miriam: "Some of them."
Elisha: "It is a hard thing when you have a child that betrays you, disappoints you. You humans, humans, you have saying, "Flesh of my flesh? You know we Kerrn, we bud. Flesh of our flesh indeed. The Fazzia, it grows from him, you watch it develop. Sometimes, there is the bad bud, though, you know. They do not do what they are told. They go off, they hide in places on the Omship. I have seen it happen even in the students in my Yeshiva. You look and they, day by day, they have slipped away, you know? They are fermenting biologically active compounds. Suddenly, you do not know them. The Fazzia, they come and they do not know this thing they have made, this thing that they thought was like them. And what you do then, it is a very hard thing. Sometimes, you sends them to become Solzaja; the displine, it molds you. Sometimes I suspect so it was with Jael. But sometimes, you must do hard things. Sometimes you must treat them sternly. You cannot let your feelings for a bud threaten the Omshiip. I know that you will do what is right. You world means so much to you."

Ted's Building: Cedric, a leader of the Mukhadish, comes to Michael to beg for help and protection against Jael. [Michael's Circles: Ob3 on 8d]

Cedric: "He is no better than a plant. He cannot rise above what he is."

Cedric: "They think we are traitors? We speak for their dead! We have given many of our number so they may speak with those who have gone to the sea."

Cedric: "We shall ride the Wheel!"

Michael asks him for a Mukhadish volunteer for medical experimentation to develop a treatment to seal the Naiven tube. Uriel begins work on her research. [Uriel's Pharmacology: Ob6 on 5d]

Later, Michael tries to find the security tech who hooked up the palace's system so that he can tap into it, but fails. [Michael's Circles: Ob5 on 9d; using two Reputation dice]

Paul's Building (Omri): The Vaylen Usurper gets a new gun. [Resources: Ob3 on 9d]

Christina's Building: Miriam meets with the Psychologist on the moon. "I want him returned loyal to me, and want all the details of his treachery." [Miriam's Circles: Ob4 on 8d; help from Elisha]

Makeda arrives and convinces Tay to submit.

Tay emerges newly loyal to the family, but if push comes to shove, he'll pick Michael over Miriam.

End of Maneuver

The Vaylen choose Flak.

Jael's Investigative Logic: Ob1 on 8d (3s) (help from Michael (Investigative Logic and Miriam (Accounting)
Hagar's Persuasion: Offense: 1s on 3d, Defense: Ob3 on 3d (1s)

Epilogue: Jael sitting in her office late at night, going over Makeda's debriefing, a chart of Mukhadish deaths, and a pixelated video of a dregus and prostitute moving out of range of the security camera.

Vaylen: 23, Humans 19

Things we learned (fiction)

The temple complex isn't in the palace.

Lord-Pilot Magnate Makeda's clan is the single biggest player in off-world commerce.

Clans are identified by totemic ocean creatures: Scylla (Michael), Leviathan (the second husband), Kraken (Makeda)

Clan Kraken is not old money.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Multitudinous Seas Incarnadine, Session 4

29 Jan 2008

New Characters
  • Serena: Miriam's mother, the previous Forged Lord. Deceased, but her brain-tape resides in the hands of the ancestor cult
  • Elizabeth: Sereana's Muhkadish spirit-medium

Session Summary

The Humans choose Go To Ground

Roy's Interstitial: Jael, still recovering from his wounds, seeks out Cerelia to discuss the dangers inherent in the ancestor cult and the sway it has over Miriam. Cerelia explains how the brain-tapes and mediums work. They both agree that problem needs to be dealt with.

Ted's Interstitial: Micahel goes to to Daniel to convince him that more fighting men are needed in the capital. Daniel says that the pirates have been freeing Mukhadish, and Michael express his concern that they're allied with the merchants. "Those who do not know their place on the wheel will be crushed beneath it," Daniel says. Michael agrees to send military assets, "but for our sake, not for hers."

Paul's Interstitial: Meanwhile, in another part of the Temple, Levi conspires with Jabin. "Anything I can do to help," Levi says. "It is their fate to be destroyed."

Christina's Interstitial: Miriam seeks guidance from her mother's spirit through her Muhkadish spirit-medium, Elizabeth.

Serena: "I trust you've found yourself a husband?"
Miriam: "Yes, several."
Serena: "Have any of them betrayed you yet?"
Miriam:"Yes, several."

Serena: "You must forgive a dead woman her faults."

Miriam: "I've long considered the Church the greatest threat to my power."

Miriam: "It's not just him. I need to find a way blind all of the other eyes with my walls."
Serena: "Did I teach you nothing? We are always watched. There is no place we can escape the eyes of those who wish us harm."

Serena: "Only the dead keep secrets from your enemies."

Ted's Building Scene: Michael and Jael meet in the chapel to discuss Miriam's security. Michael asks for assistance in rooting out Daniel's spy among the new men. Jael asks how Michael would go about planting a spy among his ranks: "If you were going to put a spy in my security service, how would you do it?" Michael points out that the Vaylen co-opt people in place; thus, doing the opposite (long-term sleepers) is the best way to avoid Jael's detection. With Jael's help, Michael goes over the records of the new men. [Michael's Circles: Ob5 on 9d; help from Jael] They turn up clean, which, of course makes Michael suspicious.

On Jael's advice ("What we need is scanning. We need to detect bombs, sacs of toxins, and of course, worms."), Michael goes to Cerelia to request better security systems in the palace. "I've come to spend the Forged Lord's money," he says, and he brings her a gift. Michael volunteers his men to help with security; Cerelia is concerned about a scandal. Cerelia confesses that Miriam asked her to become Regent if necessary; Michael is shocked. Cerelia is concerned that Miriam is so worried and agrees to purchase the appropriate equipment. [Cerelia's Resources: Ob14 on 21d; help from Michael and Jael; gets Automated Security 7 for the palace]

Paul's Conflict (Hagar): Tay and Jabin try break out the merchant captured at the pirate rendezvous [Jabin's Security Rigging: Ob5 on 5d (5s) vs. Automated Security: Ob5 on 7d (5s)], but they are discovered and a firefight results. Pitr, realizing his mistake, rushes in. Tay hits him with a stet gun and knocks him out. Tay's forces are doing well until Michael shows up. Michael takes out Tay with his stet gun and his forces captures everyone except Jabin.

[ Firefight
Pitr: Routine Close Combat, Routine Command, Routine Tactics, Challenging Steel
Tay: Difficult Close Combat, Difficult Command, Challenging Steel
Michael: Routine Command, Routine Resources, Routine Close Combat]

Roy's Building: Jael reports to Miriam, "Your son and your ex-husband will both live." They both head to the interrogation room to see to the wounded as the stragglers are rounded up. Uriel sees to Pitr. [Uriel's Surgery: Ob2 on 7d; Pitr's Forte: Ob2 on 6d] Jael presses for Tay to be interrogated immediately. Uriel says to Michael, "I will heal a man for her, but I will not torture one." (Pitr will, however.)

Christina's Building: Miriam offers the opportunity to ask for forgiveness. [Miriam's Intimidation: Ob4 on 9d; help from Pitr, Michael, and Jael] Tay spits on her. Jael tries to stop him, but Michael wounds Tay again. [Jael's Power: Ob2 on 1d (1s) vs. Michael's Power: Ob1 on 3d (2s)] "He's your son," objects Jael. "He gave that up when he joined the Church," replies Miriam.

As Michael is hustled out, Miriam tells Jael, "You get out of here too." Jael agrily complies and deactivaties the recording system. "Do you have any idea what your life is going to look like from now on?" Miriam demands. Silence. "Do you care?"

Roy's Color: Jael is in a rehab facility for maimed Hammer (all women).

End of Maneuver

The Vaylen chose Take Action against the Humans, so it's a versus roll.

Miriam's Persuasion: Ob3 on 11d (6s); help from Michael and Pitr
Hagar's Smuggling: Ob6 on 7d (3s); help from Jabin

Nine months pass. . . (And Tay makes his recovery roll. [Tay's Forte: Ob3 on 4d])

Vaylen: 23, Humans 20

Things we learned (fiction)

Nurses are male. Surgeons are female.

Cerelia loves off-world art and artifacts.

There are feasts where the ancestors get together to renew old grudges and feuds. The relationships of the dead never change.

There was a feud between Michael's family and one of the other husband's.

When possessed by Serena's spirit, Elizabeth is the Forged Lord.

There are no security pickups in the ancestor cult chamber.

Cerelia is a devout follower of the Church.

Cerelia thinks Michael is hot.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Multitudinous Seas Incarnadine, Session 3

15 Jan 2008

New Characters

  • Tay: Michael and Miriam's son; merchant league official.
  • Cerelia: Minister of Trade, Tourism, and Public Relations; Pitr's sister.
  • Uriel: Michael's surgeon and second-in-command

Session Summary

Humans choose Take Action against the opposition.

Paul's Color (Hagar): Hagar wishes Ahab and Goliath good luck as they head off on a mission.

Roy's Interstitial: In the Briefing Room, Jael and Pitr (in Anvil armor) inform Miriam of their plan to disrupt a meeting between the conspirators and the pirates. Miriam is worried about the political ramifications, and she wants concrete evidence of treachery. Jael assures her that by the time things become public, there will be a way to link the merchants with the pirates.

Ted's Interstitial: Michael goes to visit Tay in his corporate apartment. There is tension between the two of them, as Tay resents being pushed into the merchant league by his father to further his family's ambitions. Michael lets Tay know that he's worried about someone going

Christina's Interstitial: Miriam and Cerelia go to visit Elisha in the hospital. Cerelia asks Elisha about his attack, and her dislike of Mukhadish (and the ancestor cult) become clear. She arranges for a television crew to interview Elisha in order to help turn public opinion against the pirates. After they leave Elisha, Miriam asks Cerelia to act as Regent if anything happens to her. Cerelia asks Miriam makes her so nervous. Miriam says she doesn't trust her husbands, she doesn't trust the Church, and she doesn't trust Micheal. Cerelia expresses surprise at this last bit, but she he

Ted's Color: As he leaves Tay's office, Michael tells his observation team to begin operations against Tay.

Paul's Color (Omri): Jabin sends a message to someone in Iron that the pirate operation is beginning.

Roy's Conflict: Jael's assault team drops in on a covert meeting between the merchant conspirators and the pirates. They kill the pirate leader and capture a maimed merchant leader, but Jael is gravely wounded and Pitr is forced to assume command.

Jael: Challenging Command, Difficult Close Combat
Pitr: Challenging Tactics, Routine Close Combat ]

Christina's Building Scene: While Jael is in flight to the hospital, Miriam calls Michael and asks him to bring Uriel to operate on Jael. [Uriel's Surgery: Ob4 on 7d] While Jael's in surgery, Pitr does his best to take credit for the operation. Uriel informs them that Jael should make a full recovery, but he'll be healing for a while. [Jael's Forte: Ob4 on 11d]

Paul's Conflict (Hagar): Using the transmitter in Elisha's head, Hagar contacts Miriam on her private channel to ask about Jael. Hagar tells Miriam that's a personal matter between herself and Jael. Hagar accuses Miriam of ignoring love in favor of practicality, while Miriam argues that Hagar is not acting purely out of personal obligation.

Hagar: "It's only when we know what we have to lose that we can truly understand what matters. What got us here and what keeps us alive are two different things."
Miriam: "And I know that I can lose anything, and ultimately who am is not tied up in that man."
Hagar: "Perhaps you're right. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe this wasn't a personal matter. Maybe this is about survival."

[Duel of Wits
Miriam: Routine Persuasion
Hagar: Routine Persuasion ]

Christina's Color: Elisha's interview airs. ("I would like to send a big get well to my friend [CENSORED], because if you think I'm bad you ought to see him.") The anchors attempt to link the pirates with the Vaylen, in the way they always link anything bad with the Vaylen. On the street, rumors spread about the captured merchant leader.

Ted's Building: Michael's scouts play back some tape of one side of a conversation Tay has. Tay clearly know about the conspiracy and is concerned that the captured leader will expose them.

End of Maneuver

The Vaylen also chose Take Action, so the tests are independent.

Miriam's Rhetoric: 3s on 4d
Hagar's Smuggling: 4s on 6d

Epilogue: Aboard the ship, Hagar curses Miriam. "Damn it. She's too good. The frog isn't enough."

Vaylen: 23, Humans 20

Things we learned (fiction)

Tay is in on the conspiracy.

The role of Regent is normally filled by the father of the heir.

There have been prior attempts on Miriam's life.

Things we learned (meta)

Don't get shot.