07 June 2013

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 18 - Flames of Avarice

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

Death's Sea forms part of the southern boundary of Barsaive. It is a the size of the Black Sea and has a smaller, slightly less terrifying body to the north, the Scarlet Sea, which is the size of the Sea of Azov. The most notable feature of Death's Sea is that it is comprised of entirely magma.

The legend of it's creation is that the Passions saw their Namegivers suffering at Death's hand and after deliberation, decided on a course of action to save them. Working together, they tricked and imprisoned Death beneath a flaming shield, turning the sea to flame and trapping Death in its new prison. The legend continues that Death's prison is weakened by each Namegiver's death at the hands of another Namegiver.

Those that have traveled to Death's realm and returned verify that Death does live under a vast dome of flame. As well, what little information can be gleaned indicates that entrances there are found deep under the earth in the area around Death's Sea.

Despite the obvious dangers involved with a sea of magma, there are reasons to go there. Mostly one reason: True Fire. It is the primary source of True Fire in Barsaive and the mining operations are as lucrative as they are dangerous. The dangers are not just the inherent ones associated with a sea that is molten rock that houses Death - there are things that live out there.

As the magma cools, islands of varying sizes form on the surface, known as clenkas. The larger clenkas, big enough to hold at least one person, are called fool's islands. They have a tendency to break apart and little can be done to save the unfortunate soul unaware of the magma flows below them. Creatures often make homes on the semi-permanent fool's islands, or within the magma itself. These are invariably dangerous, often having been twisted by the Horrors that make their homes beneath the waves of fire. That's right, there are plenty of Horrors in this tainted and corrupted place.

While True Fire is the main reason to venture over the molten sea, there are others. Only true fools would seek such legends, but such foolish adventurers have found truly wondrous things before. Stories say that there is more than just fire, horror and death in Death's Sea; that there are permanent islands. Places sustained by the magic of powerful adepts, dragons or even citadels seeking to hide during the Scourge.

Tales of hidden treasures, legendary Thread Items, Pattern Items sequestered to protect the Pattern, lairs, secrets and prisons are traded by those deep in their cups. They are laughed at by any with their wits about them - even if they were true, nothing is worth the danger. Still, to many stories, there is some nugget of truth. And that glimmer sends many expeditions into the heart of Death's Sea looking for the truth. Many never return and those that do have returned empty handed thus far. If there are secrets and treasures, they have not yet been discovered; not yet...

Adventure Log – 018 Flames of Avarice

Written By: Ting V'strimon the Merciless of Urupa

Date: 17 Gamhil – 30 Gamhil, 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

Hanging out in Travar; Jak needs to bargain for some crap. Trained some kid. Good; strange style though.

Once that’s done, we float west on the Serpent River in a K’tenshin boat, stopping at a small village called Trosk. As we arrived, we discover that the locals have been having recent trouble and need our help(1). They have been attacked by scorchers, riding horses(2). Jak decided to wait a few days to see if they attack again. They did not, and after three boring days we started traveling again, this time on foot.

We came to an inn that had been attacked by the same scorchers. Jak saved one guy from bleeding to death. The survivors, terrified that they will return, hide while we prepare for a throw down, should they return.

I chill on the roof. Honeysuckle and Elmod ride over to check the woods, and come back after finding nothing. Just after they get back, a bunch of riders come from the woods, coming our way.

After a long, glorious fight, where I nearly fell in battle to the horrible scorchers, when I had to take five at the same time. Once we rallied, we managed to take them down. We found a map of where they hide out and plan to move in and taken out the rest of them.

We rested a couple of days and then headed for the Scarlet Sea. The sight of the sea was pretty awesome. And hot. Really hot.

There is rope over the edge we naturally followed down. I was feeling faint from the heat. We started down the rope and were almost immediately beset by large fire birds, which Honeysuckle took down. We took some of their feathers which might have True Fire in them.

On the bridge just inside the cavern at the bottom, we are attacked by shadowmants. Once Sogun was in the center of the bridge, Jak ran on to attack and I after him. Managed to vault of the back of both Jak and Sogun to kill a shadowmant each time.

Continuing along the bridge takes us to a large, ornate room with a bunch of orks. One of them is a spellcaster for a change. We do our thing, bust in and wipe the orks up with our swords. I knocked one into lava.

There is a riddle on the door, “I can be larger than a man, or smaller than an ant, and yet I always weigh the same. Spawned by fire, I am neither hot nor cold. What am I”(3). We then went back to the inn to cash in on a reward for killing pesky orks(4).(5)

*     *     *
(1) If I had a copper every time I read that phrase...
(2) While always a problem across Barsaive, they have been significantly more active in the areas south of Throal and those in the West seem to be moving south from other logs we have been receiving.
(3) We need more information on where this vault is located. The answer to the riddle is straight forward, but this seems dangerous. Recommend a retrieval Group to the area.
(4) I resent that last remark. While some orks are a blight on civilization, the same goes for all Namegivers.
(5) Received and edited by Ela Pono.

This was an adaptation from a published adventure of the same name from Shards Collection Volume Two. It seemed like a fun little adventure and they were in the correct area. I wanted to have some scorchers active and more aggressive than usual in that area. The cause of this is the arrival of the urshan vanguard, who are competing with the orks for their traditional ranges in western Barsaive.

That was the only overall tie-in to the meta plot. Part of my goal with this was to dial things back just a little bit from the previous session and transition to some adventuring. When looking at the overall pacing, I wanted to push the next major event out a little bit for pacing reasons and that the most involved player in that plot didn't know if he would be able to make this day (he did).

Pushing too much on bigger events can sometimes lead to plot exhaustion early on. My preference is to vary things a little and not throw too many unconnected sessions with the same rough tempo at my players. By breaking it up like this and putting some distance between the events, it gives everyone a chance to get back into the "routine", which can then be played with by disrupting that.

In the short-term, this may not seem like an ideal practice. For a limited run game, I certainly wouldn't engage in it. But Earthdawn really supports this kind of play and giving the Group a chance to really feel like a Group can be an important element to long term play. This kind of lower-key (not plot heavy) session is often a crucial element of allowing the characters to move to the fore rather than have the plot front and center.

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