"So, Rynn..." Cedrick started, he always thought spending time finding out about the odd ex-paladin was worth his time when they were engaged in mindless tasks like finding an inn, "you don't have a family name?"In Question 4, I get to be the player first, and be a little proactive. I decide that Cedrick isn't just looking for an inn or tavern, he's looking for a particular type of inn or tavern, so that he can investigate his friend Deviss' untimely demise using his guild connections. I roll a story cube, and get a book. Crap. Well, since I just went on about how Lady Korynn is such a great reader, and she is a divine magic healer, maybe she finds something instead of Cedrick. I also need to be the GM, and make this turn into an encounter of 'appropriate resistance' to their inquiry.
"No" she replied, not taking her eye off of the stream of signs which lined the promenade. She had spent more time in books than Cedrick, so while he could read, she was simply more efficient at it. "It's the custom in Mennatyre for nobility. My father was Lord Caleb, and my mother was Lady Ennifer. To the people who matter in Mennatyre, that is name enough."
"And there were no other noble ladies named Korynn? In all of Mennatyre?"
She smiled, "Unfortunately, it was a very popular name the year I was born. We used nicknames to differentiate amongst ourselves, like when you call me 'Rynn,' or I call you an idiot. There, mine was Kory."
Cedrick snorted a laugh, and when she looked at him questioningly, he told her "In Umbarr, where I'm from, Kory is a boy's name."
Korynn narrowed her one eye at him. "It is in Mennatyre as well."
As they passed a peculiar storefront, Korynn stopped, and Cedrick examined the shop which had grabbed her attention. It was a dingy, disreputable place, though Cedrick noted it had a stylized moon painted on the storefront, which for some reason reminded Cedrick of the Sun which had been painted on Rynn's armor back when they had first met. "What is that symbol?" he asked her.Whew! I decided that a good battle for the heroes would be an evil magick user to counter Korynn's goody-two-shoes abilities. Also, I decided that I should not always just let the heroes activate first, so invented an initiative rule. They rolled their warrior die. Korynn rolled a 10, the witch rolled a 3, and Cedrick Heroically rolled a 1. Rynn attacked and hit for a mighty 2 damage. The witch casts a fireball, rolling a 4 for damage, frying Cedrick good for 12 damage (nearly killing him!), and singeing Korynn pretty well for 4 just for being nearby. Cedrick rolled an even number hit, so his pistol actually fires, and punches a hole in the witch at 9 damage. Korynn attacks, and scores the final 5 hit points. Ding dong the witch is dead!
"A Moon glyph." she responded cryptically.
He rolled his eyes, fortunately while still standing behind her. "Thank you, Knight-Captain Obvious! Why are we going inside?"
"I want to ask a few questions of the proprietor..."she paused, "and you can use some of that gold you stole from the bandits to buy me a new Solar talisman so I can perform healing magicks again."
The door swung open, and the pair stepped into the cool, dark magick shop. It was musty inside, a smell which reminded Cedrick of spider webs. A crone stood behind the counter, and Cedrick was about to make some quip about all the women in magick shops looking like...
"Witches!" Lady Korynn screamed, and unhooked her morning-star from her belt. Cedrick wasn't ready this time, and snagged at the pistol tucked into his sash. As he brought it up and on line with the hag behind the counter, she spoke, and the words slithered around in his skull like snakes, and a giant fireball leapt from her fingertips. He was burned, but the fire discharged his gun, and this time the ball struck! A sparkling bubble appeared around the witch, then cracked open like an egg made of rainbows. Cedrick toppled over backwards, collapsing from the pain of his burns.
Korynn grabbed a fistful of the witch's hair and pulled her down over the counter, then smashed the morning-star down. It was over.
When Cedrick's eyes opened, it was a blurry picture of warm lights, golden hair, a pale face, and...harps? "Are...you an angel?" He asked, then his vision cleared and he saw it was Korynn, and she was holding a golden sun in one hand.I figure with Q4 in the rearview, it's high time to roll my next story die and get on with Q5. Still not entirely sure I'm doing this right, but rather enjoying myself, I roll a tower, and a 3 meaning a revelation, and a 6 meaning combat! Um. Maybe I'm being a little too literal, but who in Qalimbaq has a tower? The Vizier!
She seemed taken aback, and sat down from her upright kneeling position. "You're an idiot." she said when she gathered herself enough. "I found a talisman, and I healed you. As well as I could, anyway." She sighed "I'm glad your pistol worked, I was starting to think you carried that thing as an excuse to avoid actually fighting."
Since she had just spent a good deal of her energy to heal his burns, he overlooked the slight to his beloved handgonne. "Uh, thanks."
They searched the store, but Korynn wouldn't let Cedrick loot, which he pointed out was hypocritical, since the most valuable thing in the place was the golden sun she had taken.
"I can't leave it here to be defiled," she explained softly, as though to a child, "besides, you should be happy, this means you can keep those gold coins from earlier." She was right of course, that did make him happy.
Ironically, Cedrick's first impulse upon leaving the Witch's den was to alert the city guard. They went back to the gate, but it was different guardsmen there now, and when Cedrick told them of the dark Magicks within the city walls, they directed him to the governance tower in the middle of the city, and insisted the Vizier and his Personal Guard must be informed at once.Now that my time as the GM is done, I'm back to being the player, I decide Cedrick is going to fast talk his was past the Vizier's Guard and bully his way into the tower. These guards are clever, and loyal directly to the Vizier, so I set the difficulty at 6. Cedrick should still be fine, he has a d12 for this. I roll a 3. Urk. I decide that instead of the guards just rushing out to fight, my GM side gets to have a little fun...
As they headed toward the center of town, the tone of the town began to change. Instead of seedy but cheerful bazaars and alleys, the streets were wide, and patrolled not by the city guard, but by the Vizier's personal troops. The Red and Black livery marked them as different, and their arrogant mien immediately put Cedrick on edge.
Korynn noted it too. "If the Vizier has this many troops in his service, why would he lock up the city over a few bandits raiding caravans?"
There was more too "Do you see the defenses? New serpentines on the walls, even a few culverin at the main towers." When Korynn looked at him quizzically, he elaborated "Different types of cannon, Rynn, advanced, very expensive."
"Ah," she might not know the nomenclature, or how to fire one, but she knew the ramifications. The Vizier was preparing Qalimbaq for a major siege. One he planned to win.
"I am High Lord Cedrick of the King's Inquisition!" bellowed Cedrick at the door guards at the foot of the tower. "This is my advisor, Paladin Solar Lady Korynn of Mennatyre..." he paused, a bit breathless after what he considered a preposterously long honorific. "We are on an urgent matter from the King. I demand audience with the Vizier at once!"Cliffhanger...bum bum BUUUUM!
The tallest guard, with the most feathers in his hat, smiled laconically and bowed deeply to each of them in turn. "Of course, High Lord, Lady Paladin. Follow me?"
They followed him and the tall door swung noiselessly closed behind them. "Lord High Inquisitor?" Korynn mouthed at him incredulously.
"I didn't think that was actually going to work" he whispered back.
Abruptly, the guard stopped, and turned to face them. Several more guards materialized from tributary doors and halls. "Now, whoever you two really are," he smiled again, "You will die."
Ok, this was a lot of fun. I'm either figuring out how this 9Q thing works, or I'm failing in a spectacular enough fashion that it doesn't matter.
I'm getting a good feel for the characters, and I am happy with the dynamic that's forming between Korynn and Cedrick. I've hit that spot with them where they are starting to write themselves, and act on their own, if that makes any sense. I can just plop them in the middle of a situation, and they do the rest. It's not terribly complicated, he'll do something irresponsible, or urbane, or sleazy, and she'll roll her eyes, or back him up, or call him an idiot. Then, usually, something exciting happens.
Seriously though, I need to think of a name for this series.