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Cause and Effect (Circle of Hands Session Summary)

Session 1: Northern Rolke, a traveling Merchant's endeavors. Next component, an enchanted Amboriyon sword in the cliffside crypts, tended to by a priest losing his grip on reality. 

We begin with Wulf (Fisherman Wizard), Bern (L. Entertainer), Lutz (Priest), and another who regrettably had to leave the session early. They travel a bit north of the Circle's citadel following rumors of a merchant from Spurr stirring up things in a small farming community.

They come upon the communal farm not far from the longhouse and stumble through their first RP interactions with some farmers. Bungling it magnificently with some failed charm rolls unknowingly on a named character Ivo. Verbatim, Wulf begins with, "We be here seeking the opportunity for the king." Charm result: 4. The rest of the knights practically tug him away by the ear as the locals glare daggers into his back. 

Upon arrival at the longhouse, they meet the merchant who is sticking out like a sore thumb. Bern exchanges pleasantries and light humor, also nailing a charm roll. The merchant seems intent on plumbing iron-rich deposits in the mountains and "securing relationships" with the locals (read also: exploiting the populace). In character for an ambitious merchant far from his home.

Lutz ascends a peasant preparing food to guide him to the local priest. Upon meeting him, he notes that there's something a bit off about the priest's hut. It's practically glimmering with lights and shiny bits of metal. Uncomfortably bright for what would normally be a place of quiet contemplation and a hit of the hash. He stows the information for later and settles in, guided by inner voices that this is the right place to be and to trust this priest explicitly. (Player initially wanted a connection to gods, we workshopped a sort of schizophrenia that went well with the character's Romantic trait. Self-narrative, a delusion of grandeur, and so forth). He settles in for the night as rain begins to fall.

Meanwhile back at the longhouse. The knights are welcomed warmly, minus Wulf at the moment, Bern has started a song and dance with other entertainers. Keeping things lively while the local brewski's are passed around. A martial low woman and Bern get a bit intimate over some arm wrestling. She seems to be the community's keeper of sorts, she definitely doesn't like the merchant. However, she trusts that her community will sort him out in due course.

Wulf has overindulged and the same peasant that helped Lutz was befriended over food prep. They carry him to the stables to a soft pile of hay. Not long after three silhouettes open the gates and slip inside. Wulf vaguely acknowledges their presence with drunken grunts when he finds a knife in his gut. The player acknowledges he's thoroughly outnumbered and resorts to Web to make his escape. He tumbles back into the longhouse a bloody mess at the feet of the Martial Low woman.

She picks up her spear and a sputtering Wulf explains peasants tried to murder him in the stables. She reiterates her trust in the community to root out issues on their own. Seeing as they failed to finish the job she seems obliged to carry out the will of the people (yet another failed charm roll from Wulf at this point). Bern steps between them before more blows can be struck, successfully persuading her to spare Wulf's life. However, she refuses to make the same promise for the rest of the community and advises that they had best leave before the next night or ALL of their lives might very well be in the hands of peasants that are now even more justifiably pissed at a wizard and his accomplices.

A night's rest and a Balm later for Wulf. Back at the priest's hut!

Lutz is eating up the priest's talk of purity through the pursuit of personal illumination both physical and mental. The priest seems blessed with an insight at around this time and pressures Lutz to follow him into the night... along the edge of a cliff. Lutz follows, of course, leaving the nearly glowing hut behind in the darkness. They stand to look out over the rolling hills of Tamaryon in the distance. The priest speaks about finally being able to see clearly and that this was his time. Both of their times to attain that illumination. Cue a well-timed bolt of lightning that briefly show's the eyes of the priest completely whited out and starting to glow faintly as if under the effects of Perfection.

At this time they are hand in hand, the priest steps out. Split-second decision time, will Lutz follow him over the edge willingly or resist? A quick consult of the voices advises resistance. Luckily, he succeeds on a Quickness vs. 12 and twists his wrist out of the priest's grip. There's a brief moment where they hold eye contact and the priest is absolutely blissed out despite now being alone in his descent. He disappears into the darkness leaving Lutz stranded on the cliffside in the dark and the rain. Wits vs. 12 fails and he starts to fumble through the woods to try and find his way back. He eventually settles in against a tree's roots for the night after taking Brawn and Quickness damage from exposure.

The next morning the rest of the knights set out to check on him since he wasn't at last night's festivities. By happenstance and a solid recovery on Lutz's part for Wits. They reconvene and Wulf sniffs out Amboriyon further down the cliffs. Some local lore later and a brief exploration of the crypt they find the blade and make it back out. They quickly hoof it back to the longhouse where the merchant "mysteriously" is nowhere to be found. Seems the peasants found a more convenient target. The knights rightly consider it a good time to leave.

Post Session Feedback
-Bern's player had hoped for more combat. I explained how murder is their choice for the most part. They could have very well gone after the Webbed peasants and sorted that out, but they seemed to value nonviolence for the sake of the community.
-Lutz's player really enjoyed the scenario with the priest and workshopping the mental illness bit.
-Wulf's player expressed their understanding that they're going to need to boost their charm if they want to survive. I pointed out that they can also make use of spells and or alcohol/cannabis to better aid them for future sessions.

Department: 
Actual Play

Comments

Ron Edwards's picture

Hey Chris, that’s a great application of the components.

Your identification of cause and effect throughout play is a good example for others: whatever happens next is based on whatever just happened, NPCs make perfectly understandable decisions, and the knights can do whatever they want, not what’s planned or prepared as a canned step or climactic confrontation.

I’ve found that you can’t overcome the entrenched expectation that you are going to provide the “arrive-investigate-fight” structure; that they basically get what they deserve, and that naturalistic play will produce the most satisfying results. It may take some players a session or two finally to believe it.

Players do seem to learn swiftly not to let their low-Charm knights lead during the early part of the venture ... Here’s a little more about Charm that may help the players. First, it’s an easy step to get the two dice once you understand that point about naturalistic play again, and you as GM might help with that by starting “what do you do” play after they’ve been at the location for a while rather than exactly at the point of arrival. Second, the improvement rules are generous to low scores; one presumes a non-charming knight tends to adjust a bit better as time goes on, unless the current player really doesn’t want them to.

I greatly appreciate the player’s and your focus on the Romantic trait. It saw some similar use in a recent game discussed here – arguably it’s the most consequential trait, in that case walking them right into a tripwire.

What were the tripwires in this venture? They didn’t hit one, did they?

I really liked the outcome between Lutz and the whited-out priest, based on decisions and rolls alike. The latter is just begging for a reappearance if the venture preparation rolls suggest it.

CaramelCharcoal's picture

I kept the tripwires pretty straight forward as "If local named person is hurt/killed, then their supporter's rally." The priest bit wasn't a trip wire, but was something that kinda came about as Lutz was conversing with them. It seemed the character wasn't quite picking up on the stains of amboriyon affecting this person, or simply the lense of Romanticism pushing the red flags out of focus. So I thought it would be a good way to see how far the player would take this character's particular flaw.

Working on the summary for the next venture which takes them westward to Tamaryon. It's a new set of knights that go with Wulf. It gets quite explosive in short order.

Prepping up venture three which is in Tamaryon again. Knowledge,  Monster, Rbaja Influence for this one.

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