20 April 2013

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 16 - Trilogy of Terror

This is the sixteenth Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

As per usual, the information presented here regards how things exist in this particular campaign and is not necessarily indicative of the canon Barsaive. That being said, feel free to borrow any of it you like - that's why it is here.

Travar is an amazing sight to behold. It was wondrous prior to the Scourge and one of the few major Citadels to survive unscathed. This city of brilliant white towers whose golden caps reach to the sky is where fortunes and legends are made. As a nexus for trade, this is where airships and riverboats from across the province bring adepts seeking fame. A place where fortunes are made and lost. A place where legends are born.

The powers that be in Travar do all they can to attract adepts to their walls. They are exalted as heroes and many Troubadours spend countless hours researching history and legends, penning new works, and learning forgotten tales. Nearly every major city within Barsaive has a particular specialization to what knowledge can be found there; legends and heroes is the specialty of Travar.

Adepts are so important to Travar's existence that they are critical to the "election" process. Ruled by three citizens each with a term of three years (one year off to "take care of private matters", which of course means "fully exploit their position monetarily"), their position is gained the Games when one of the terms ends each year. The events in the Games are a closely guarded secret every year and truly fantastic to behold. Their draw is a powerful one to any Namegiver that can afford to attend. As well to any adept looking to build their legend - many found were catapulted to fame from a stunning showing in the annual Games. Groups with a strong track record are often courted each year by those who covet a seat.

Not only do the Games serve a political function and boost the economy through trade and increasing the status of the city as a whole, but all adepts that take part in the Games are bound to serve in the protection of Travar. The formal requirement is for a year, but it is considered poor form to shirk on the duty if there is a need. Poor form in a city with that many Troubadours looking to be noticed is dangerous (just ask the Brave Sir Robin). In the end, Travar has a fantastic, if completely unconventional military, that serves as a strong deterrent to any potential aggressor (who knows what adepts are in the city at the time ready to just wreck things) and is free, allowing them to continually invest in making Travar a destination.

At the center of Travar are a series of massive mausoleums. These beautiful structures are ringed in statues, gardens, libraries and other impressive and important buildings. Within these crypts that extend far underneath the city are the remains of heroes that have fallen in the service of Travar. Those who are truly great are immortalized in stone in the surrounding area, carefully tended so that their legend may live forever. This is part of the true currency that continues to draw adepts to the city. Here are stories of the past (Key Knowledge) and a chance to live forever in the hearts and minds of future generations.

Despite the fantastic nature of Travar, it is also a place of terrible lows. Just as fame and fortune are won, so can they be lost. For every story of success, there are more of terrible failure. While it is illegal to sell slaves within the city, it is not illegal to own them and a vast slave market exists just beyond the walls. The fickle nature of the populace ensures that what was once a thriving community within the city, may shortly become unfashionable and home to downtrodden and soon-to-be unsavory individuals. Even many of the famed tombs have been closed for a very long time.

Somewhere between our Los Angeles and Las Vegas is Travar. It is easy to miss the corruption and darkness amid the majesty and glamour, but it is plain to see if you look.

Adventure Log – 016 Trilogy of Terror

Written By: Jak’Tak

Date: 09 Mawag – 24 Mawag, 1507 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Windmaster
Jak’Tak the Weaponsmith
Sogun the Messenger
Ting the Swordmaster


We return to find Elmod stitching on his doll. He invites us to his Blood Ritual. Elmod gives life to his child and Names her Regia(1). It is good to see Elmod committing to family life(2). He researches our tools as we wait for Ting.

Ting returns from Sky Raider adventures. Elmod finds that the Semi-Charmed Life is of pre-Scourge elf make. He finds that the apron is ancient and of elf-make.

Travar sounds like a good destination. The Confederation hires some Swordmasters called the Judges. Thugs, nothing more(3). Ardanyan is having issues with the dwarfs being racist isolationists(4). Our friends are having trouble keeping the peace. The elf Weaponsmith has been abandoned by her heartless mentor.

We head to Lake Ban. We stop off at Ban for a few days speaking with the obsidimen and t’skrang.

Travar is beautiful from afar. White towers and golden roofs. The city is full of activity. Thing found a t’skrang who recognized “Graduate”. The tombs might know more, but they are sealed. We find Arthu, who has become guide for the bear men(5). We wish him luck.

The mausoleum is for the glorification of the heroes of Travar. We look for ways down. One of the statues is of a t’skrang Weaponsmith, but the Name is lost(6). There is also a windling Swordmaster. We find an obsidiman statue with a strange gauntlet.

We visit the library to research the heroes. The obsidiman is mysterious, died in the defense of the city, entombed under the city.

Tools are purchased to break into the tombs. We attempt to bribe the guard. Sogun has to smooth things over. We break down the wall and make our way down. There are sounds of movement. The denizens of the tomb attack. Cadavermen emerge, but we retreat to a choke point and construct barricades to hold them off(7).

A sphere of ancient weapons and bone joins the fray. We smash it to splinters! We dispatch the remaining cadavermen, then find the tomb. The obsidiman has a gauntlet, but his name is not listed. The t’skrang and windling bodies are not present but we find his name: Kyyven Cotagin. We stay in Travar for a time.(8)



(1) This is by far one of the creepiest things that I have ever read.
(2) I love an ork with an actual sense of humor!
(3) Very true. This is becoming a problem out there, but no one in the Kingdom wants to do anything about it. Not until it's way too late. As usual.
(4) That sounds familiar.
(5) We have been receiving some spotty reports regarding these Namegivers, first cataloged in these logs (if you want the whole number, ask Zamrica). There have been incidents with scorchers, but so far they don't seem hostile. So far. The Eye needs to watch this development carefully. Find out more about this Arthu character.
(6) That is surprising and unusual. What would cause someone to deface the statue like that?
(7) Something we have suspected for a while, but now we have confirmation. No wonder they keep it under wraps - that's incredibly embarrassing for them!
(8) Received and edited by Ela Pono
*     *     *

The title of the session was emergent during play from the revelation of what Regia had become. Prior to then, she was simply a doll off of a belt from a noose. Which was creepy. It was unanimously decided that she did not get better when ambulatory. Along with the events below Travar, there were some unsettling events taking place.

To be completely honest, this session was never really one the rails in the first place. The original intention was to continue with the mess that Bartertown and/or Ardanyan were becoming. Clean things up. Make some change. Or make it worse. Instead, the plan devised after starting was to head West. The way of Horatio Alger and the Donner Party Crossing. What actually occurred was not according to any plan.

With all of that said, it went well. Some things that I had been saving for later were rushed to the front lines for deployment. The first part was exploring a new city, I've always quite liked Travar for it's incredible highs and devastating lows. Following that was planning the caper. Even though it's the penultimate paragraph, it was more involved. In the fashion of every gaming caper ever, it went terribly wrong. In no small part because they couldn't figure out how to bribe a guard that was totally willing to be bribed. In the end, it turned out... well, it turned out really badly.

Once in the tombs, it didn't take long to figure out why the place was thoroughly sealed: Horror constructs (which are generally a strong indication of Horrors). The fight scenes were connected and involved significant movement throughout the crypt as they searched for the right tombs. It had a great pacing with holding actions and retreats once the enormity of what they were facing was clear - they couldn't just resolve this by murdering everything.

The shatterspikes (spheres of bones and weapons) added some considerable tactical elements, though they were supposed to be countered by Elmod, the Nethermancer. However he left during the majority of the combat scenes to attend other events in town. This made things more difficult than I originally intended, lacking a clutch combatant when dealing with the undead. Nonetheless, everyone pulled though, though rather bedraggled. They came out of it with Key Knowledge and a new Thread Item. Also, they may have release some undead onto the streets of Travar and gotten some corrupt night guardsmen killed as they fled the scene. Oops.

In all, it was a good session. When facing a situation with no real plans, focusing on tempo becomes the most important element for me. Ensuring that the pacing is good, nothing dragging out too long, keeping scenes tight and interesting, plays an important role in the tempo. There wasn't much in the way of metaplot this session - it was specifically avoided - but I did work on two of the major themes of the campaign: mistakes of the past and the darkness under the surface. Those were where I decided to go with this session as it unfolded.