This is a follow up to my previous session report about first four sessions in The Sword, The Crown and The Unspeakable India. We play in our fantasy Ancient India, or at least our European Slavic understanding of it. I'd like to invite you to use my previous Adept Play submission as a reference to this article.
It's near impossible to me to recreate six sessions from a memory, so instead of describing each of it, I've decided to make some points and impressions.
How Player Characters changed?
What happened during 5th-10th session, from the perspective (agenda) of each player character:
Yaghadis (The Beloved, he/him):
- He got almost killed once again, and once again by Horus. This second time, he had been abducted and politely compelled to accept a proposition of a deal from The Curtain. With a help of The Curtain, The Watchers will rid off the Ghostspeakers from the city Maratha. In exchange, The Watchers will accept the submission of 10 adepts chosen by one of The Curtain leaders (Indrani, Mistress* of the Discretion) to The Watcher. It was about infiltration of The Watchers and making an unprecedented move in caste system (only those in the 1st Caste were allowed to join The Watchers).
- Yaghadis was the guarantee of the above. During the play, he had to accept covering of The Curtain's adept/spies (-1 Barter per session!), due to concers of his faction.
- After several issues and an another intrigue, he finally dismissed his patronage over Svatka [9th session]. It was the player's decision after considering the fiction and actual dynamics between Yaghadis and Svatka. While Svatka recovered from "2 disobedience" from her Patron, it only delayed the inevitable (I think).
- After whole Ezra's Soul/Mystery of Wanton Death Scroll thread (lead by Horus), he managed to get The Scroll from Horus. This happened after a meeting between two leaders of The Curtain plus Horus, Yaghadis and Swatka. Soon, he discovered that The Scroll describes the process of sending out the threat of Wanton Death for eternity: to siphon out and make a fall of magic in this world!
- He, his militant followers (equipped thanks to Maratha's Citadel armory) and Horus, ventured into a Niramaya Snana sacred healing pool, now turned into wetlands. So far [10th session], they managed to get there, fighting off the ambush of Talking Tigers in a meanwhile.
- He (rightly) suspects his best apprentice – Arya – as his personal threat, as he learnt about her making allies with Talking Tigers of Bangaluru!
- He earned just 5 advancement so far [the lowest count], including boosting his Wily and Arcane stats to +3.
* – I hate, then female equivalent of "Master" in English invokes unnecesary sexual connotation, as "female lover".
Svatka (The Voice, she/her):
- She gets a new Patron, brahmi Kalidas, the Archivist Warden of University of Maratha. That NPC is the same one, who sacrificed his own subordinate (Ezra) for trading her soul with Talking Tigers in exchange for The Scroll. As turns out, the latter failed [read Horus' story]. Back to Svatka: for two sessions, she managed to have two Patrons at the same time (including +2 Barter per session from them!). There was a price for that: she accepted her dismissal from Oracle of Love & Family position, to get alternative job as priestess of Temple of Artha.
- She tried to intercept archivists' contraband "Ezra's Soul for The Scroll" in some elephant farm, but Horus was quicker and more effective. She used Yaghadis' followers [it happened before first and second Yaghadis' attempt for his life], BTW.
- She had "affair" with one of The Curtain's agent, Seth (assasin and spy, Horus' buddy). It got it's own ups and downs. Firstly, she managed to secure some crucial informations about Horus and The Curtain. Secondly, she tried to make Seth her lover and double agent, but it failed and she narrowly escaped with life. Thirdly, she "saved" Seth from the consequences of execution "for Horus' crimes" (being buried alive), by getting him out of freshly buried hole. I mean, she destroyed The Curtains' plan to save Seth, as the place of the execution had been deliberately influenced, and Seth wanted to escape from some hidden tunnel into a pond.
- This above is important, because at least she managed to please her boss, Archconfessor Madhuri. Svatka finally delivered her some The Curtain agent (Seth), after several sessions.
- Her new Patron (brahmi Kalidas) gave her a subtle quest about "finding someone, who smells like Ezra's soul: as lotus and incense". She managed to learn about two targets so far (both from Yagadhis' faction!)
- Brahmi Kalidas also asked Svatka for finding out "how close Yagadhis is to Dharmic Wheel" (to die). Her investigation lead to a trauma of "seeing waterwheels propelled by Kali's fork in every moving body of water", because she whispered to Unspeakable Power. BTW, that Temple of Artha has waterwheel too!
- Whispering to Unspeakable Power failed her once again, when she tried to find the true meaning of Temple of Artha. It turned out that Temple of Artha was a vanity project ("atheistic gnosticism") of some raj, 700 years ago, then abandoned. It's hollow, void of any Deva nor cosmic force, and the wheel of history turns again, when Kalidas wanted to find the meaning of the world once again in That Place.
- Due to her new Move (from The Hex playbook), she cursed the Hours in revenge. He curse had been activated once so far, when Horus tried to endure his wounds (the Move about taking harm) after recent fight with Talking Tigers.
- She gets End of the Season move, "Let the Right One In". Description below:
Every time you perform some more than trivial act using The Unspeakable Power, especially something epic and/or bloody, make a notch. When you hit three notches, you and the MC together will choose one of the following:
† The doors of reality crack and something horrible comes into your world, devouring you in the process. If the game continues, the MC will make a new Threat based on what slipped through, and you may create a new character with one free advancement.
† Something enters you and burns your soul away. You’re gone, but there is a new tenant in the building. Your character is now an NPC that looks like you but decidedly is not you. If the game continues, the MC will make a new Threat based on whatever is now wearing your face and flesh, and you may create a new character with one free advancement.
† Something esoteric and beautiful entices you into a world far away. Describe it, in all its indescribable grandeur. Retire your character to safety. If the game continues, create a new character with one free advancement.
Horus (The Black Hood turned to The Gauntlet, he/him):
He transformed into a new playbook after 9th session, as a conclusion of his deeds, possible changings in The Curtain faction (to vigilantism, essentially).
- He messed with the contraband between two archivists and the Rakshasa, securing both the (empy) Soul Catcher vessel and The Scroll, in exchange for the morbid deal with Rakshasa. The condition were: Horus has to deliver sacred man (preferably Yaghadis) to Rakshasa, each week of delay means +1 Harm.
- He accepted the contract possession with some female ghost, Hema, for a exchange for compassion (like, they had consensual sex), companionship and mutual protection. At this point, majority of The Curtain was infiltrated by Phantom Runners. BTW, thanks to her, he learnt that his Patron, Adil, also has his own "ghost protector": his grandfather from 2nd, warrior ghost.
- That's why he kidnapped Yaghadis. However, his boss and Patron (Adil, NPC) stepped in and demanded to give him both Yaghadis and the Soul Cathcer. Genuinely, I tested out (as MC) when Horus will say "NO", but it didn't happened then. Horus needed another sacred folk for Rakshasa.
- Horus almost finished the morbid deal by delivering an alternative: Arya, the priestess. Almost, because failed "Persuade with Leverage" move revealed unexpected (for players) turn: Arya's place of birth is the distant Kashmir to the north ("where folks in the Sky Mountains preach Sky Father") and "Kashmir human's meat" makes Rakshasa severe gastric problems. I mean, that's why Rakshasa refused the deliverance and in anger, attacked Horus! That scene happened in Niramaya Snana.
- He barely managed to kill Rakshasa, getting 3 Harm and "Clouded" debility in the process, plus getting cursed by everlasting cover of pitch black rakshasa blood! Only miracle (or miracleman) can get him rid of it! As you may guess, that's why Horus is still interested in Niramaya Snana sacred pool and it's re-consecration!
- He impressed The Curtain and Yagadhis as the Killer of the Rakshasa. It was during the same scene, when he had been pushed to choose, to who he gives The Scroll (Svatka or Yaghadis). He chose Yagadhis.
- During the venture to Niramaya Snana, he singehandedly fought back the Talking Tigers' ambush, with a price of overall 4 Harm (then lessened to 3 Harm, after eating some crocodile's skin). It happened, because he upgraded one of the Basic Move (Engage In Combat), rolled 12+, so he chose to end the combat quickly (killing couple of tigers, forcing remainder of 50 to retreat).
- At 5th Session, Adil gave him a quest to find & train a replacement for Samira, tragicaly lost due to Ezra's assassination. Horus only managed to find promising candidate, but he failed to abduct or convince that person, because she outsmarted her. The event happened in Black District. I mention it, because…
- It seems that his quest of finding out replacement for Samira lost any of priority because more important things happened in Maratha (including week long quarantine of the city, due to Phantom Runners danger and The Watcher intervention). But it's not the end of the "quest". Adil gave him the quest about negotiating with Black District (Coalmaker district, with organized smuggling of forbidden cow meat), as The Curtain wants to protect them instead of rivalring them. So far, Adil gave Horus 3 days of leave "for personal deals".
During the play, one Threat has been destroyed (Phantom Runners), while they were at 3/5 progress of a countdown to complete their infiltration to The Curtain and the 2nd Warrior Caste.
I created an another Threat, as "Wanton Death's Second Coming". It has been revealed that deva Kali is responsible for the first one in the past. So far, only Horus is 100% sure that Wanton Death = Kali. It didn't has much progress in countdown, yet.
Another Threat (anti-Svatka coalition) fulfilled his main goal, but there's secondary one: avenging Ezra's death. I would like to remember about it in the next sessions. However, I'm aware that more urgent and more interesting things are happening right now. For Arya's Threat, she's really close to conclude her own countdown!
We play sessions, which lasts for 160-180 minutes, which is short. I think that impacts the structure of the campaign, because of rituals as beginning of the session moves (Patrons, Yaghadis' benefits from the followers, and so on). It has the heaviest impact on Entangelement criteria (+1 xp, chosen by MC for each Playbook), due to the fact that often we can't find enough time to even try to get into a scene, when player can try to fulfill criteria.
He have first Tier Two advancements, including first End of the Season. According to the book, when those starts to show up, the group should start to plan, when to wrapping out the campaign (season). I don't want to abruptly end this campaign, but I need to consider that it should lead to some conclusion. Some endings made, some endings left. After all, reaching End of the Season criteria leads to inevitable abandoning of the player character. Sooner or later, the players will play different characters.
I feel like we all (four) experienced satisfying character development arcs. The Horus' one is the most visible, but also Svatka turned into some kind of bitter schemer, who failed so far. Yaghadis also took control of being tokenized by both player characters, into a leading (fiction-wise) character once again.