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IanPrice
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Headstrong (Exalted, play report)

05 Jan 2011, 21:58

So, I'm running Exalted now. Well, not right now - a couple days ago. And again in 3 months. It's a huge game - 12 players! It meets infrequently (see: 3 months), but for a long time (2 days, ~9 hours of play each). Now it's begun, and boy is it off with a bang. The story is set starting the year of the empress's disappearance. First, allow me to introduce the cast:

Yurgen Kaneko, the Great Bull. Exalted 5 years ago, being one of the dozen-ish solar shards which were not bound in the Jade Prison because their First Age bearers were slain after the final calibration feast. Now, his Zenith caste shamaness Samea informs him of a vision - they must travel alone to meet their Circle. Though the Tepet legions massing in Cherak are worrisome, he has never ignored Samea's visions, so he goes.

Ragara Jorel is the youngest son of Ragara Calel, and hasn't exalted yet. Still, he's ambitious, and with the help of his older brother and sister has taken command of a small jade mine belonging to the family. They're officially in charge on paper, but he does all the work and enjoys most of the pay and authority. Unfortunately, some toughs from House Tepet found out a mere patrician was in charge, and decided they could muscle in on the mine. A fight broke out with the Tepets and the troops they brought with them. When he saw one of the Tepet with his sister's blood on his blade, Jorel climbed into an essence-powered crane to take revenge. When he realized his brother's hearthstone wasn't in the socket, he slammed the controls in a rage - then exalted as a Dawn caste solar, and powered the device himself, dropping huge rocks on the attacking troops. After this, he had to flee the blessed isle. At the convenience of a closer port, and a subconscious urging from his new exaltation, he went North.

Ilsa Greenhollow, of Gethamane. Ever since crawling into long-unused maintenance tunnels as a child, Ilsa has been fascinated with the machinery of the gardens which others in her home do not understand. After traveling to Whitewall and learning the precepts of Sorcery, Ilsa located a broken connection, and realized all it needed was a source of essence. Digging deep, she called on all her reserves, and forced the damaged water purification system to work again. When her own well of essence ran dry, she found a power she had never known welling up within her. Even this new power - her Twilight exaltation - would not let her fuel the purifier forever, though, so she summoned up a demon for aid. The demon informed her she'd need something tied to the land, like a hearthstone or an essence tap. A spell cast by Samea found the same demon Ilsa had summoned, using it as a conduit so the two of them could talk. Samea had seen Ilsa in her vision, and sought to add her to the ordained Circle the Sun had shown her. Ilsa was eventually convinced, at least for now, since Kaneko and Samea were willing to help her obtain an Essence Tap, and Kaneko promised safety from the Icewalkers to Gethamane.

Alano Angelos, of An-Teng. As a young man in that country, he had come to hate the dragon-blooded who oppressed his people. His hatred became personal when an exalt who was his sister's suitor raped her, and Alano found her in tears after the event. He vowed revenge and set out to sneak into the military camp where the exalt was an officer, and though he was found and imprisoned, he broke out and continued his mission of vengeance. When his first strike failed to kill the durable exalt in one blow, yet he got up from the elemental bolt delivered to his chest, he exalted to the Night caste and slew the rapist, then escaped the camp without being seen. Shortly thereafter, he left the country in search of allies, not wishing to stir up more trouble for his family by building his rebellion at home. He plans to go to Great Forks, and return with divine aid.

Yim Cho, formerly of the Lap, formerly of Gem, shortly to be formerly of Chiaroscuro. Desert bandits forced him out of his farm on the edge of the Lap's lands. In Gem, he fell in love with a daughter of one of the Gemlords, and ran away to Chiaroscuro with her. But he just can't catch a break. His neighbor in this new city is jealous of him having such a beautiful wife, and has plotted against him. A few bribes and faked evidence, and one day Cho comes home from his job unloading caravans to find Wyld Hunt soldiers taking his wife and children. As he fights to free them, they are killed. He exalts as a Dawn and slaughters both the soldiers and the neighbor. From this point he turns to drink and drugs and wanders from port to port, trying to escape his own thoughts as well as his past.

Shiba Zahira, in a temple which has sunk beneath an oasis in the deep southern desert. The oasis is the heart of the thriving trading hub she lives in. Or it was, until the locust-men came. Sharing no common language, and unwilling to simply hand over the valuables the locusts wanted, the traders fought back - and are now being slaughtered. Zahira and her closest friends fought a mechanical champion of theirs, preventing it from activating the temple-manse beneath the oasis. Now, as the last of her friends lies dying, Zahira drags her up onto the altar, and does something both terrible and necessary, exalting as a Zenith. She soon discovers that her father's sand-sailer is actually a landship (traveling pagoda stats, looks like a boat), and heads out of town, exactly the opposite direction from the one the Sun asked of her in her vision at exaltation.

Galliyan, a slave in a Guild caravan, escapes with his life and survives several days in the wilderness. He meets Luna in a dream that isn't a dream, and she seduces him, and graces him with Lunar exaltation. Traveling in his new eagle spirit shape, his exaltation's lingering personality nudges his path towards the domain of Ma-Ha-Suchi. When he gets there, he is soon found, and brought before the insane elder. The personality dormant in his shard takes over, and after a series of events he doesn't clearly remember, he finds himself a tattooed Full Moon, leading a force of wolf beastmen towards Great Forks to retrieve a powerful Essence Tap. His sudden strong loyalty to the elder lunar is tempered by the obvious nature of Ma-Ha-Suchi's madness, but Kass, the lingering personality of his former incarnation, insists that Galliyan should serve and try to heal the elder.

Alain, son of Charles, Captain in the 11th Shogunate Legion has been searching the Wyld for the person who betrayed his kingdom. He doesn't know he's been gone from the world for 800 years - subjectively, he's only experienced about 50. He's a Fire aspect from the shogunate at the time of the Great Contagion, and now he thinks the traitor who sold his home to the Fair Folk is back in Creation. His purpose is the same as it has been since he left: find the traitor, and kill him.

Shinta is a child of two sidereal parents, and grandchild of a lust goddess. His exaltation as a Serenity caste has been known since his birth, and today is finally the day. What's the perfect present for a new Sidereal on his exaltation day? Why, scrolls in lacquered boxes! Assignments of work from superiors, and Oversight itself! Oh well. At least the living in Heaven is comfortable. Before he leaves, he is called into his Sifu's dojo for one last lesson in philosophy.

Arkadies is a junior filing clerk in the Division of Secrets at the Bureau of Destiny. He files all the new entries in room 305, working under Etsutara, god of unimportant unknowns. The things in these files are technically secrets, because few people know them - but they concern trivial matters such as the passing thoughts of those with no influence and how often a person throws away his nail clippings versus leaving them to lie on the floor. Then Arkadies gets a visit from his boss - the top boss in his division. Jupiter, the Maiden of Secrets. She assigns him to a task seemingly far beyond his capabilities, with little or no definition: find out what the Green Lady is up to. To his confusion, she shows him a mirror, and the sign of her exaltation on his brow. Before he can pursue his secret mission, though, he is assigned a more overt one: follow and monitor Yurgen Kaneko. The next several months are spent one step behind the Bull, until finally catching up in Great Forks, of all places.

Dhar Vishan Ursano is a cadet in Lookshy's officer corps, admitted young thanks to his intellect, charisma, and relationship to Praetor Ursano, current Chumyo. Many from the Gentes resent his father, and therefore him, for succeeding despite lacking their bloodlines. While touring the primary Marukan Redoubt, Dhar finds a large pile of sacks of firedust in an odd place - between all the barracks. Ripping into a sack, he found a fire pearl with some kind of sorcerous sigil on it, so he quickly ripped open all the sacks and removed the pearls, running them away from the barracks. When the spell lit off, he luckily avoided more than a light singing of the eyebrows, despite the firedust now covering his hands and front. A rapid investigation, co-opting as many officers of the redoubt as he could, showed that half the redoubt's supplies of firedust and fire pearls had been replaced with pepper and ordinary pearls. Taking a Windblade transport, Dhar and several officers set off to catch up with the last sorcerer to visit the redoubt who had the opportunity to set this up: General Teresu Hunperu! Dhar trapped the general with his own words and, in the process, exalted as an Eclipse. His father managed to keep this fact fairly quiet, and assigned Dhar to further training, to be followed in a few months with a field assignment to test his new abilities with a command.

Last but not least, Cassiel "Kassel" Everdeen is a Nexus street rat with phenomenal athletic abilities and a bit of a chip on her shoulder. She'd heard nobody ever went into the Tomb of Night and came out again. So she set out to prove that's just because they weren't anywhere near as good as her. It turned out that she was only barely good enough, but the Tomb of Night was also the Tomb of a Night. And, as she took up the hearthstone of the place in its amulet, and the symbol of hidden Sol burned on her brow, the tomb of her own first age incarnation!

I'll post more soon. There's an incredible amount to write up... these exaltation/introduction summaries only take us through the first 2/3 of day 1 of 2, the portion before the dinner break! There were about 3 more hours of play on day 1, and then a similar 6 before/3 after dinner break on day 2. Before I make my next post detailing all that, I need to poll my players to see if anyone remembers all the 3 die stunts. I'd like to include those, since they are by their nature the most epic and often important events to occur.
"May I say one more time, Mr. Xanatos, that the costs of this venture will be astronomical."
"Grand Viziers were always scheming megalomaniacs. It was probably in the job description."
"Three to one odds ain't so bad after I crack one or three of your heads open."
(You know.. I think I just broke my own art forum rules :o ) - Rai
 
User avatar
IanPrice
Essence 6
Essence 6
Topic Author
Posts: 1337
Joined: 23 Apr 2007, 15:44
Title: Knight of the Great Work
Exalt: Solar
Fighting Style: Descending Fire
Artifact: Bloody Sword of 10K Slain Conversations
Location: Where I'm needed most.
Contact:

Re: Headstrong (Exalted, play report)

24 Jan 2011, 00:51

It's been a month, I'd better finish this, before it all permanently dribbles from my brain! Of course, since there's so much, it's daunting to try to recap... @_@

So I'll give the short version: invoking my GM's privilege, I arranged for everybody to have reason to end up in Great Forks, most of them going after the same MacGuffin: a level 5 Water element Essence Tap. Specifically, Samea had a vision, which led her to take Yurgen on a secret journey away from his people to start meeting the fellow Solars in her vision. First they reached Gethamane, and secured the company of Ilsa, in exchange for what she needs (the location of a Water aspect essence tap, to repair the long-derelict sprinkler system in the gardens). Then they travel by Chariot of the Blazing Sun to meet the Enlightened Defender, who is willing to follow along with the Sun-granted vision, and thence to Great Forks. Meanwhile, they are trailed by Arkadies, who finally gives up on trying to keep up, and shortcuts through Yu-Shan, meeting up with Shinta and the Solar he's guiding, Kassel. They are traveling by river boat to Great Forks to fulfill some important fate (or, from the perspective presented to Kassel, to meet a prestigious client for the lucrative business she's just inherited by unlikely coincidence).

Dhar Vishan Ursano was promoted and trained and assigned to lead a Talon (or was it a Fang?) of Dragon-blooded in Gunzosha armor. He was assigned to set up a temporary camp near Great Forks and investigate reports of a powerful Essence Tap being moved through the city, because that could represent a significant shift in the tactical landscape. If possible, he was to ensure that if Lookshy couldn't have it, its enemies would at least not get it. Before launching his investigation, Dhar is interrupted by the appearance of Alain's warstrider, staggering into view seemingly directly out of the past. The two quickly agree to help each other - Dhar orders his technicians to repair the warstrider, and agrees to help pursue the traitor Alain is seeking, while Alain agrees to attach himself to Dhar's unit until his own can be restored.

Galliyan was, as mentioned, sent to retrieve the Essence Tap by Ma-Ha-Suchi. He wasn't entirely sure why he was following the crazed goatwolfman's commands, but after events his mind had fugued over, he was left with a strange sense of loyalty to the elder. What wasn't expected was how Galliyan started to feel the tug of his solar bond as he approached Great Forks. He'd soon find out that the source of that tug is Dhar.

Yim Cho was already in Great Forks, due to his drifting and drinking habits. Alano Angelos would reach the city about the same time as everyone else, en route to a meeting with a divine sympathizer to the rebel movement in his distant homeland of An-Teng.

The Essence Tap was in the great Water temple, sacred mainly to the dragon of the Yanaze river, but sub-letting space to lesser water elementals and deities as well for their cults. After a little was found out about it, the night was spent in Great Forks. The next day, Zahira's landship pulled into town. The parties after the Essence Tap noticed each others' presence, and paused to consider contacting each other; an NPC was also noticed in connection, a strikingly pale woman who entered the Water Temple on invitation from someone within.

The second night in the town, the great bull and his companions are attacked by assassins. Galliyan ambushes some assassins who were simultaneously about to ambush and be ambushed by Dhar's bodyguards. It quickly becomes apparent that there are a lot of assassins, spread out through the city, as if searching for something, and also engaging targets of opportunity. Their equipment seems to be of Realm manufacture, but the assassins can't be identified, because a sorcerous sigil on their masks turns their bodies to ash when their masks are removed. Yurgen Kaneko isn't about to take an army of assassins lying down, so he busts out Fury Inciting Presence, and beats the MDV of a good number of the lesser gods listening. As Dhar dons his armor and joins his unit, things rapidly turn into a mass combat battle. The assassins (who Shinta has determined belong to the Wyld Hunt) are pursued out of the city, where they are seen to be receiving orders from a signal mirror in the distance. Advancing on the position, it's found to be elite soldiers protecting a sorceror wearing a lot of artifacts. Between the elite Lookshyan dragon-blooded, and the impromptu unit led by Yurgen Kaneko, the assassins and even the elite soldiers are falling like wheat. Not to mention the ones being engaged by the landship's firedust cannons.

Galliyan slips off into the Water Temple to go after the Essence Tap. Alain slips off to get into his Warstrider. Kassel rescues some unconscious folks some assassins were carting off with them for some reason.

Just when Dhar gets the sorceror surrounded, an illusion drops from around said caster, revealing him to be some three times taller and with a bleeding caste mark - a strange thing which nobody in the world has seen yet, because this is half a year before Thorns falls. A massive spell goes off, and all the dead soldiers and assassins rose to life again.

Dhar panics and pulls his unit out, because the undead rising among his ranks unordered them. He withdraws to the city walls to better snipe the undead with force pikes, and call for reinforcements from the nearest Redoubt.

Samea gives the defenders a fighting chance by finishing her cast of Incantation of the Invincible Celestial Army. The Might and Holy bonuses granted by this spell even the field quite a bit.

Shinta panics and burns a resplendency to summon a celestial censor to help deal with the large scale undead invasion. As the situation worsens, he begins praying and sending requests for aid higher and higher up the chain of command in heaven.

Shield of a Different Day appears to Alain as he powers up his warstrider, asking to take from him the fate of his enemy who he could never catch up with, and swap it with the imminent destruction of Great Forks. Alain thinks this sounds like a great deal, and accepts. Then he blasts off towards the necromancer. Alano, who has snuck out to the Necromancer's position, Alain in his blazing flying warstrider, and Yurgen Kaneko all reach the necromancer at about the same time. He is struck with the same sleeping poison which his own assassins used, then sent flying and cut in pieces. Then the pieces connect to each other with necrotic essence, and strange geometries between them burst forth into a monstrous form of dead flesh (Birth of Sanity's Sorrow).

Before the city can be destroyed, the censor (who turned out to be the dragon of the Yanaze river) is able to flood the city streets to eliminate the undead. Most civilians were saved by Enlightened Defender and Yim Cho. The fearsome beast is wreaking havoc on the warstrider, Zahira's landship, Kaneko, and Alano, when Dayshield's charm interacts with Shinta's prayers, and the censor and his celestial lions are recalled.

The session closed on the vista of the giant undead monstrosity being obliterated by the attack of the Sun's own Godspear.

(this summary skips over a bunch of really fun flavor scenes which developed characters without advancing the plot. They were important, but are impossible to explain in a linear fashion.)
"May I say one more time, Mr. Xanatos, that the costs of this venture will be astronomical."
"Grand Viziers were always scheming megalomaniacs. It was probably in the job description."
"Three to one odds ain't so bad after I crack one or three of your heads open."
(You know.. I think I just broke my own art forum rules :o ) - Rai

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