The primary Thread Items that the players have been finding up to this point, and mostly go unmentioned, are the Bands of Fortune. They really should get their own write up, but I am almost entirely cribbing them from the books - some of the Ranks have been altered slightly, additional Ranks have been added, and the history changed completely.
I have always been a fan of these kinds of group items - they give everyone something to bond over. It becomes a shared point of history between everyone as they are working to the exact same goal. Through them I can also reveal a larger story that connects everyone together in an obvious way. These are some of the elements that I am using to tie into the overall meta-theme, fixing the mistakes of the past. This particular set of items is powerful for their costs and the Ranks, but fun and generic, which means they are good for everyone and since everyone (hypothetically) has equal access, there aren't any balance issues to be concerned about. Well, other than dealing with players that have impressive access to Karma.
Each of the bands is being introduced slowly and the Group has been invested in tracking them all down, so each character gets one. There have been hiccups with that particular bit, one intentional on my part, others unintentional (players unable to make the game). A cast change adds another twist. Part of the fiction that I introduced for them is that they will twist events to bring all of them together, which will frequently go very poorly if you happen to be on the short end of that pull.
There is one prominent NPC that has one of the bands (in the form of a formal sash of some kind), who they cannot help but really like, not matter how much they discuss murdering him and taking it. Some of those discussions got pretty serious. That NPC (Arthu Paen'drag) keeps meeting up with them during the course of events, with increasing levels of violence surrounding the events - always in the background, however. All of this is pointing to the inevitable conclusion of that NPC's arc, which I would hope has been sufficiently foreshadowed that it won't come as a surprise.
Adventure Log – 11 Fighting Against Time
Recorded By: Sogun the Messenger of Ayodhya
Date: 23 Doddul – 30 Doddul, 1506 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel
Group MembersElmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Windmaster
Sogun the Messenger
Ting the Swordmaster
We spent most of the day with the tailor and death moth wings(1). Ting seemed to complete her look of being a pirate with her dashing hat and bandoleer while Honeysuckle decided for something a little more refined and elegant with a blouse. Elmod went with the more practical route and got a vest to hold his alchemy tools and other creepy things a Nethermancer would need. I choose to honor tradition with a horkla.
While I was seeking something of a more personal manner, Elmod was once again proving indispensable by researching a few of the items that the Group had picked up along their travels. After my morning endeavors I took some time to visit my brother Omasu(3). It’s not very often we obsidimen find ourselves in the same town as a brother. So to not stop in to chat would have been very rude.
There seems to be some kind of Swordmaster tournament in town. I’ll have to go early in order to get a good seat because if Ting hasn't already signed up, I’m sure she will. As I wait for the tournament to begin I can’t help but notice that the guards seem to have a rather unusual manner about them. Some shops are patrolled while others are not. I’m sure it’s nothing but it might be worth investigating later.
Currently there are 40 Swordmasters entered in this tournament. The decor for the tournament is a rather garish display of color something I would expect from t’skrang rather than the dwarfs(4).
The Group bets heavily on Ting. I would have though such high stakes an unwise practice if I haven’t seen her fight before. Her opponent practically dwarfs her with his size. As the fight begins Ting seems to be outmatched in both strength and skill. As her foe moves closer to snatch his victory with a final blow, I catch a small smirk from Ting. For some reason I couldn't help but think of a cat playing with a mouse just before it finally kills it. Ting finally stops playing coy and ends the match with a decisive and skillful slice through her opponent. Leave it to Ting to not only best her foe but to play to the crowd as well.
Honeysuckle and I have been noticing a lot of disappearances around town lately. Mainly the people that have recently participated in the Swordmaster tournament. While out trying to track down one of the missing Swordmasters our young “tiruplaxi”(5) stumbled across a dead body in an alleyway. Which seems to be something that could prove quite useful to a Namegiver like Elmod. Elmod used some creepy magic to relive the death of our new friend. He learned that our dead dwarf was involved in some kind of slaving ring. Upon further investigation, it was revealed that the whole Swordmaster tournament was some kind of slaving hoax. It turns out that a few of the Swordmasters that claimed to be from Jerris, were in fact slavers from Vivane(6).
Before they could leave with their captives, we manage to put the pieces of their plot together and track down their airship and free the slaves(7).(8)
(1) See entry cataloged under: Adventuring Groups: Miscellaneous: Mismatched Steel - 009.
(2) I don't know what someone who travels with a friend of Fastoon Julari Makanth Phunkot would consider creepy.
(3) Omasu is kinda a big shot and this might shed some light on why he is chummy with this lot, that and his strange association with Maester Bleys. I'm certain that Zamrica would go on and on with this one...
(4) Because dwarf color schemes are the opposite of garish.
(5) No one has any idea what this means. Maybe some obsidiman thing?
(6) I had to walk away after reading this. It fills me with incandescent rage. Also, that is incredibly risky. Therans had to have someone operating within Bartertown already to set anything like that up. Maybe I can convince the dwarfs to actually do something about Bartertown for once.
(7) This makes me happy in a way that is difficult to articulate. Strange.
(8) Received and edited by Ela Pono.
* * *
A considerable amount of time was spent figuring out what clothes to make out of the death moth wings. Really, it was quite a while. This was entirely intentional on my part since one of the player's was absent, so I removed their pieces of the plot and I needed some padding to fill out the session and keep the pacing for the back end.
The primary goal for this session was to develop the events in Bartertown more, specifically the deep animosity between what are becoming the two dominant factions. There was considerable foreshadowing for the looming conflict and what is coming, but also for greater events and where some loyalties may truly lie. There was a lot of subtle maneuvering, from the existence of the tournament (to upstage the rival tournament), using it to gather slaves (not just any slaves, but ones that would support a particular group), dire warnings (not recorded here), and sides being picked. A great deal happening in the background.
It was also a chance for many of the players to show off a little bit. The Nethermancer spent some time researching the various Thread Items that had come their way. Despite what the log records, the fight was actually incredibly close and fell the way it did due entirely to luck, but that is what the dice are there for. Never underestimate the troll Swordmaster that uses "you're smaller than me!" as a taunt. The Group leaned more on contacts than in the past, following leads and gathering information to put all of the pieces together. The actual assault on the airship at the end took some considerable planning, that mostly fell apart because only the windling can fly. In all, they also got to feel like heroes at the end of it, which is going to be important given some of the events which will soon transpire.