Wednesday, March 9, 2011

One Morning in Brisbale...

Though I don't usually openly admit this to most people, I am a bit of a gamer. No, I don't spend my spare waking hours and precious should-be-sleeping hours sitting in front of a monitor while computer generated avatars do, whatever. I own a console system and some cool games for it. But I know that if I pop one in, I will play for 3 days straight and miss out on life. So, I usually do not play games on it.

I do, however, satisfy a guilty pleasure of playing various Role-Playing Games. I mean the social-style games that require a certain amount of face-to-face player interaction. To amplify this vice, I also "run" two games in addition to the others I play. One is a Live-Action Roleplay (LARP) hosted by the Camarilla gaming club. The other game I host and referee is the setting for the following short.

First, I must introduce the cast of characters:

Elfrida -- A tall, human female with flowing red hair and a vicious nature. She is an assassin, and all that entails. To make this character a little more interesting, it happens to be played by my buddy Jared. For some reason, he always finds himself playing female roles. I'm glad he is secure in his manhood (and his wife keeps a secure hold on his manhood).

Blue -- Blue is a Dwarven slayer. That means, when Blue was young, somebody insulted Blue's courage and honor. So, Blue set out to prove Blue's reputation by taking quests to kill something big, ugly, evil, and otherwise annoying. Blue liked hunting greenies so much that Blue sort of just stuck with the gig. It turns out that Blue is quite good at killing things. Blue is also good at socializing, as long as the social setting involves fighting, ale, mead, and mostly Dwarves. Oh, I don't refer to Blue as "he" or "she" because, well, all Dwarves have beards. Blue has an axe, and a blue mohawk. Blue also has runes tattooed on Blue's skull. So, we don't know Blue's sex and really don't want to endure the pain of asking. Blue is played by Jared's lovely wife and my good friend, Kate. Kate is ALL female.

Kohoi -- I always have to check the spelling and probably still have it wrong. I think the player would do me a solid and just write the name in kanji so I may actually understand it. In any case, K is our resident elven cleric. He's a goody-goody of a sort that does well in a scrape and doesn't get too preachy. Mostly he finds some great quest good for his professional development just in time to realize the rest of the party is leaving. Unfortunately, these side quests would make for good role-play and I tend to feel bad that K is stuck missing out on something. Well, it just so happens I made it up to him during the last game. K is played by Michael, a great guy. Michael runs the Requiem venue for our local Camarilla Domain. So, I use this game to get back at him for being an evil storyteller. 

Malina -- She is another elf. As elves go, she is pretty quiet. She is also an assassin of some talent. However, she is getting tired of killing for cash and is looking for another job; one with animals. Being a combat vet, I empathize. In most fights, she stays reserved and only acts when absolutely necessary. Malina is played by Leah Colburn.

"Shad" -- nobody knows his real name. He may have once been an assassin. Now, nobody is sure what he does. However, people tend to talk to him and give him information that he puts together into some form of idea about what is going on. Shad is our third elf. Shad is portrayed by my old friend, Carl, AKA Spookee. Carl has a twisted sense of humor. So, although the character will act in seriousness, he tends to get caught up in things that wind up rather humorous. For example, a couple of months ago, while wandering in the desert, Shad and K came upon a group of merchants that were a little overdressed for the road. Shad got himself invited to share their fire and some drink. This drink is a nasty one made out of fermented "dream berries". Dream berries are a little necrotic. They feed off of living creatures whom they plug their roots into. So, they have a bit of an evil and hypnotic effect upon many. Well, too much dream berry mead leads to bad things. These merchants were Chaos cultists.

Now, let me explain a bit about Chaos versus Evil in this game. Evil is that tyrannical impulse that wants to dominate the world and deny freedom to those that oppose it. It wants to impose a rule of law that falls within a nature of oppression. It is not nice and it is self-serving. Chaos, on the other hand, wants to not only upset the natural balance, but destroy the scales. It seeks to undo creation by creating instability. By "instability" I mean mutation, disease, war, famine, and death. They do so by changing what is into what will serve them best. Those afflicted by the magics of Chaos find they have little choice: die or join the cause. Usually, once Chaos has infected someone or something, it's will, soul, and mind become so mutated and twisted it is more than happy to join the cause.

So, naturally, these cultists decided to put the mark of their chosen Chaos god on Shad's neck. They got into town that afternoon. Blue made friends with a local rune master. So, through payment and coercion, Blue convinced the dwarf to use his magical skills to remove the tattoo. How does a rune-master remove a tattoo? Well, you have to burn it out of the skin. What is the best way to do that? With a brand made into the symbol of the primary dwarven god. Did I mention that Shad is an elf? Elves and Dwarves do no exactly get along. Mostly they tolerate each other. So, Shad won;t be going home to his people anytime soon.

Remember how I said that I made it up to Michael (as K) with his quests? Well, K found a teacher to help him get promoted in his order. During that period, K also found a mystery about something that affects his deity. So, he was up all night meditating and pondering. 

Leah was in her shell a bit during the last few games. So, to break her out of it, I gave her a chance to change Malina from an assassin to something that plays with animals. Of course, changing careers is not such an easy feat. To learn the new skills, she was given a three-part quest. Well, that had her, also, up all night for a second night in a row. Interestingly enough, part of her quest matches what K is investigating.

So, our story begins an hour or two prior to sunrise. The party had been up the entire previous night traveling towards this town. This first night in town mostly likely resulted in everybody getting some much needed sleep and recovery.

Let's see how the day turned out --

First of all, our favorite female elven assassin didn't go to bed that night after you got into town. An hour prior to sunrise, she started busting into rooms looking for everybody. Red (Elfrida) wasn't in her room. She had slept there, obviously. There was no sign of struggle.

Kholai wasn't in his room. The bed was not slept in at all. None of his trappings were there either.

Wondering if everybody was out and about and as sleep deprived as she was, she next went to Shad's room. The knock on the door garnered a cranky and moaning response. Shad was slightly hungover and still trying to recover from his ordeal with the Chaos cultists and a little experience with Dwarven tattoo removal techniques.

She was able to motivate Shad into joining her on whatever urgent business she had. The last stop was Blue's room. The knock on Blue's door did not receive so gentle and answer. The response was a thud and
the barest edge of a battle axe protruding through a fresh perforation in the mahogany. Evidently Blue was not getting out of bed until after having a draft of morning motivation.

Shad was still not in the best condition to go investigate anything. Milana needed something to keep going as well. At the hotel, the keep stated that breakfast was not all that appetizing because they did not even attempt to compete with the Brisbale Brew Club down near the farmers' market.

Down the hill our two intrepid adventurers trod on their quest for tasty morning morsels and motivating mixtures. (phew, that's enough alliteration practice for the month). To summarize, they walked in. Elfrida was seated talking to a contact. He waved  them off. The restaurant was just opening and Mr. Bob was just starting to poke his head from the horizon. So, they ordered food and some of the "special morning brew". After a lot of steam billowing out from a strange contraption, very hot water was forced through a black, sand-like powder made of burnt beans and herbs. Through a small tube, the excess steam bubbled through some cream until it formed a froth. You get the idea... Bisbee breakfast club combined with that coffeehouse espresso shop in the main commerce building. Great food, good coffee, and K joining up with them.

K and Malina exchanged stories. They investigated the manor on the hill and found some evidence that pieced a story of a gory attack by some large animal against some rather sentient dog-like creatures called kokopelli.  (Think VERY smart and rather social coyotes). K's portion of the mystery brought the trio to the main temple. K explained certain things he discovered there. Realizing that little more investigation could be done until nightfall, they headed back to the main merchant area of town.

Here our normally neutral adventurers, plus K, discovered a band of Illitanians extorting a local shop owner. So, they had to step in. Wait? Where are those pesky Sworn dudes when you need them? They are all over the place. See, Brisbale is their retreat and one of their academic centers. They come here on sabbatical or vacation. So our wonderful two jedi were off goofing around and not getting involved. They were too busy socializing with the others of their order. I guess monks must party once in a while, too.

So our trio bloodied some noses (and thensome). From here they headed towards the Illitanian gang's camp just outside of town. Let's set the stage here. These Illitanian gangsters are best described as a Requiem brujah horde with horses instead of motorcycles. A band of five is a nuisance. A gang of 50 is an
infestation. (Crap, I'm giving Michael ideas). So, how do you approach a biker gang made up of 50 1/2 Sicilian 1/2 Mexican roughnecks? My suggestion is a tactical nuke. It is either that or treat it like a killer bee hive:  once you see it in the distance, go another direction.

Well, they tried to reason with them and get information from them. Like good little gangsters, they took Malina as collateral to make sure they'd get paid top dollar for their bargain basement information. Nobody said they were smart. 

After trading some geld for information, the leader told Shad and K they could retrieve Milana. So, what was Malina's response to having been tied up? Five dead gangsters in a single combat round. That girl was pissed!

So, Malina and Shad marched into the main meeting hall to confront the leader about his lack of hospitality. Remember my suggestion? Shad pulled a gun. Malina moved to strike. K, well, he didn't drop a tactical nuke. he dropped a flash-bang. In the process, arrows flew. But they weren't aimed, just loosed. People still got hurt.

Shad shot his pistol at the leader, and hit him in the shoulder. Did I mention that Shad did this while diving across the table? Well, he didn't make it and ended up laying face down on the table. That was advantageous as K shot a lightning bolt at the leader. As that happened, though, the leader pulled the trigger on the blunderbuss he had under the table. The load of shot went right into Shad's abdomen. Shad and the leader both got singed a little by the lightning bolt. This knocked Shad unconscious.

K stepped sideways like a forsaken. In WFRP speak, he went into an astral form. Malina bolted for the door, but took several arrows to the back as she exited. She was able to get on a horse and escape just
as she fell into unconsciousness. 

Shad woke a little disorientated with a splitting headache and a foul taste in his mouth. He felt the shock beginning to take back over as some of the gang members picked up his body and tossed it into the
street. Feeling that death was certain, he was amazed to wake back at the inn to see K doing a healing spell on Malina.

Shad is having a bad week.

Lunch anyone? Yes, all that happened by noon.

That leaves us where we currently sit. So, Blue and Elfrida, what did you guys do this morning?