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[ICON] - Episode One - "Going Off the Trails Towards a Walking-Train"

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    mrpakumrpaku Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    (OOC: What are my Risk and Effect for Command?)

    Risky and Powerful: Threatening to throw a soldier from the Horned Grandfather's *own* crew off a two hundred foot fall from the heights of Jengin's Hold because he offended you is roughly akin to declaring yourself a one-man-Warlord of the Valley: win or lose, you'll have established your credentials as someone "not to be f***ed with" around here. Also, the Horned Grandfather is well known to respect strength of will over loyalty...

    On a Loss, you'd be looking at a couple of well armed and well trained rivals conspiring to see you fail fresh out the Gate, a negative reputation with the Sister Cities/one-separate-faction you all haven't learned of quite yet for challenging the status quo, and Rochester the Garou might even use that knife of his to make sure you don't *ever* forget this encounter

    On a Success...the tale will spread that you just got bullied by a War Hero's Honor Guard, and then scared him/bullied him back/humiliated him sufficiently enough to get an apology from Siso. Afterwards, the Grandfather's soldiers will whisper your name as some sort of trickster Demon, and Swims will immediately be seen as a "force to be reckoned with" by the general public

    mrpaku on
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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    edited September 2023
    (OOC: I'll wait and see if Ember helps, I wouldn't mind an extra die in my favour. Ol' buddy ol' pal ;) )

    [edit] Heard from Ember-side, "Yeah, you tell 'em!" +1D

    Glal on
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    AustinP0027AustinP0027 Registered User regular
    Ember sighs as the scene unfolds in front of him. Cities were such a mess of chaos and emotion. Give him the open plains, a forest, heck even a swamp was preferable. Clear out as many people as possible and your problems were much simpler.

    Swims is spouting threats already, not the wisest of moves given their location and who else inhabits the tower. Still, it's Watcher versus Merc, and Ember knows which side he lands on, even if his actual involvement is minimal. He raises his voice, ignoring Siso for the moment. "I doubt he's bluffing there. Watchers don't live long if they don't learn to take down threats of all sizes."

    Looking back down at Siso, the Trogg inclines he head towards the other pair shrugs a little bit. He had already learned something more about Swims today, the Otterkin seems to have a razor sharp temper.

    Spending 1 effort to give Swims Aid.

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    jdarksunjdarksun Struggler VARegistered User regular
    Eirlys hooked a finger under the woven hemp necklace she wore, and pulled forth the old metal disc hanging from it. She offered this to the Garou Captain, letting him hold the burnished copper and iron swirl circled with a snake wrought from lead. Inlaid into the curves of gray and brown was a crescent of silver.

    "It seems Tsumi isn't through with me yet," the Lopen offered with a shrug. "Been a few years since I was called upon to do more than give peace to the dead or help instill joy to the living. But I still remember which edge of the scythe is sharp."



    (( Taking a bit of liberty here with some Harvester symbolism; iron to represent growth and strength, copper for balance and cultivation - swirled together to temper aggression into protection. Lead for death and transformation; the snake to ward off the misfortune that can come from it. And a silver crescent to represent the moon and call directly back to Tsumi.
    I figure this would be Eirlys' "old badge of rank" from her Veteran's Kit. ))

    Eirlys doesn't have any questions for the Sheriffs.

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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    edited September 2023
    (OOC: pushing for another die)

    Geth, roll 5d6k1 for Loud Otter

    [edit] Well, I see my luck never changes!

    Loud Otter:
    5d6k1 4 [5d6k1=[4], 2, 2, 2, 1]

    Glal on
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    kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    Glal wrote: »
    (OOC: pushing for another die)

    Geth, roll 5d6k1 for Loud Otter

    [edit] Well, I see my luck never changes!

    4 is better than 3! :tongue:
    mrpaku wrote: »
    As a grumbling Captain Lupin unfurls the scribbled note, the feathered Lorito responds in dulcet tones: “Section two-dash-B of the Town’s founding charter: “A standing force always for our people, to be stationed between the safety of the morning sky and the treacherous dwellers within the earth.” Goes back to when this place used to get overrun by Demons once every other fortnight, I think?…” The bird shrugs non-commit-ally at Eiko, equally unimpressed at the current necessity for the standing force. “Now it’s mainly for to deter the settlers from seizing bulk military supplies or emergency rations on a raid…or the rare occasions where Raiders from the Valley sneak in looking to abduct the townsfolk, or wreck the machinery up.”

    Eiko tilts her head, a worried look on her face. "Demons? How long ago are we talking, here? Long enough, I hope, that it's not something you really expect to happen, given the slaughter there'd be below. But somehow short enough that you never bothered to update the charter?"

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    mrpakumrpaku Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    Eiko/Eirlys

    Captain Lupin, face beaming like a child on Christmas, accepts the offered disc from Eirlys as though it were made of the most precious gold. “A curse removed, and a blessing offered,” the Garou half-chants in awe of the offering, just loud enough to be overheard (although none of the other Sheriffs seem to notice). A few of the guards, upon the mention of Tsumi, each silently cross their hands down from chest to hip, and then across their bellies in the customary fashion: the Faith is still alive and well here in the Hold.

    “Madames, I am honored,” the wolf bows deeply to the Thyrnn, and then the Lopen. “You have both brought me great gifts this day, greater than either of you could imagine!” Kissing the disc before slipping it into his pocket, the Garou turns to summon the elevator. “Brother Kuma will be joyous to see you, Lady of the Moon! Though he no longer follows his Faith, the bear still proudly carries the title “Brother” from his days among the Faithful followers dwelling within the Monastary of the Morning Light, and is always happy to meet a fellow “traveler on the path!””


    Meanwhile Jade, the Lorito Captain, tilts her head, trying to give a thoughtful answer to Eiko. “Hmmm…last swarm o’ the “little biters” was about…twenty years ago? Maybe thirty now? I know Brother Kuma was alive to see it, but I doubt many others here were. You know, that’s how all the Gate Towns got built, originally!…trying to contain the buggers inside the Valley, keep em’ from pouring out an’ slaughtering the surrounding communities. A whole generation of the Old Guard sat here, trying to build walls big enough to keep the Demons in, while the beasts were at the Gates trying to tear it all down!”

    “Eventually, the swarms just sort of…stopped? Some figured they’d all been killed or worn down, or that the Demons followed the quakes south towards other emergent ruins, or that maybe they just figured we weren’t worth the trouble really, and crawled back to Ruin’s Prism to go back to sleep. There’s other, less comforting theories, of course…”

    The Lorito shrugs. “Like I said, more tradition than anything at this point. No one is sitting up these nights worried of Demon swarms! The higher-ups simply never updated the charter for the same reason it seems impossible to change anything in the Gate Towns: the Old Guard, those whose forebearers claimed this place and held it, fight unreasonably to maintain their independence from the Sister Cities. But, few of the Old Guard yet remain…once the elder leaders of the Gate Towns pass…” Jade trills bittersweetly, her feathers ruffling as though she’d caught a sudden wind. “Time’s are changing!” the Captain cryptically concludes, as the doors of the lift swing open…


    The Upper Hold

    The lift slowly climbs along the steel tower, giving a rising view of the inner working of the town. You see the townspeople starting their days, drawing back the curtains on their rusted out motor-homes, beating out dirty rugs into the streets below, chatting in line as they wait to enter some of the public showers available. A schoolteacher is giving a musical lesson teaching children (and a handful of adults) the alphabet (A is for the Arken Lords who wore their crowns/B is for the Bastions who saved our towns/C is…), and everywhere you look, meticulously maintained plants of all shapes and sizes are being grown out of the nooks and crannies and couplings of the Hold. Young saplings provide meager but much-needed shade from the beating sun overhead, green vines join along the cracks between motors, binding the city everywhere the concrete doesn’t. You could see how people would come from hundreds of miles, to live this sort of idyllic, quiet life…

    Further up, less greenery, less serenity. These motors have been mainly hollowed out, torn apart, rejoined, finally bolted together with thick straps of steel. Here, Sheriffs meet, conscripts drill, rough seeming individuals shoot target practice, and stern looking people in heavy armor march about, looking important and barking orders. Much of the construction here is new or ongoing, and where once the standing force of the city was largely made up of citizens, many of the new recruits appear to be outsiders to the Hold.

    The arrival at the top floor is worth the trip by itself. You look out from him over the Gran Umbras Valley, all of it. The Elwood spills out before you in its majestic, verdant splendor. Skyrender rises to your right, its long shadow already creeping from one end of the pass to another. To your left, the endless, gnarled hills of the Titan’s Toes, their foothills cloaked in mist. To your back, the Ornyxian Wastes, the desolate plains glowing with a strange beauty in this morning light. And beneath you, the teeming anthill of Jengin’s Hold, its tiny people below busily going about their mornings


    Embergaze/Swims-to-Glory

    Rochester, slowly circling Pridi and Swims, eyes never leaving the Otter, stops when he sees S-T-G pull out the badge and angrily toss it to the ground. The steel shield bounces along the grating, threatening to fall to the streets below before spinning to a stop near the doors of the lift. The Garou’s face, first smirking, has now grown sterner, and his body language tense.

    “No Riverlander then…simply a “Milkman”,” The soldier states dryly. The Garou’s teeth curl into a self-satisfied smile. “And here I thought all the “Milkmen” had retired.”

    Rochester’s face goes dark as Swims demands an apology. “You’ll demand nothing from me, Milkman. I don’t answer to the Holds…I don’t answer to the Sister-Cities…and I certainly don’t answer to the pissant errand boy of a half-dead old-bear!”

    Complete silence. The tension can be physically felt by everyone in the vicinity: birds cease chirping, the voices within the tent have stopped, even the wind seems to be holding its breath.

    An instant later, all hell breaks loose. With a whip-like speed, Rochester goes to pull the knife; Swims, seeing the motion a half-second before it happens, goes to grab the arm. Pridi is knocked aside, and Siso the Goblin moves to stand between the combatants and Embergaze, his hand menacingly to his belt and head shake telling you, “Don’t do it friend…let them be, or it’ll be us next

    The Otter, still clutching the hand with the knife, skillfully trips the Garou, but the dog holds, taking Swims down into a heap with him. The two tumble one over the other like bound snakes, when S-T-G suddenly cries out

    c1qcifcktrza.png

    It’s over in just a few seconds. Rolling over on top, Rochester looks down at the otterkin, a triumphant look on his face, blood dripping from the knife…


    Everyone - Ember, S-T-G, Eirlys, Eiko

    The lift from below arrives exactly at this time. Eiko and Eirlys, the doors open onto the scene of a soldier and otterkin fighting to the death over a knife, a Trogg and a Goblin glaring at each other nearby, and a frightened koi fish, futilely deciding whether to intervene in the tussle. Just as the newcomers arrive to the scene via the elevator, yet another party joins the fray…


    The draperies of Brother Kuma’s place are thrust aside, and with unnatural speed, a looming figure emerges: you are all immediately able to deduce that this must be the Horned Grandfather

    kz9t5pacoz19.png

    As the General takes in the situation, four more soldiers, all cloaked in their familiar heavy armor, step out behind him soundlessly. The Horned Grandfather momentarily glances past Embergaze…takes note of Eiko and Eirlys…but his gaze stops on the sight of the fallen S-T-G.

    From somewhere within the mask, a deep voice rasps out, “Rochester. Drop the knife. Now

    Rochester doesn’t hesitate; he drops the knife.

    “Get up.”

    Rochester doesn’t hesitate; he gets up.

    The Horned Grandfather, still moving with the speed of a man a third his age, strolls towards the dropped blade and scoops it up in one hand, followed six feet behind by the rest of his retainer. The General stares down at the fallen otterkin, the breath within his mask deep and rattling. He turns to the Garou soldier, and the voice rasps out, “Do you know who this is?”

    Momentary confusion across Rochester’s face. “A…Watcher?…Sir?”

    The knife comes out of nowhere, the Grandfather’s slash quick and deep. Rochester cries out in pain and confusion, his hand instinctively going to grab his face, but the dogkin stoically controls himself and stands at attention before the General, openly bleeding. The Horned Grandfather wipes the blade clean on his cape, then returns it to the soldier’s belt. The skull figure turns to Swims-to-Glory. “Apologies. My soldiers are not picked for their knowledge of foreign politics. Let it never be said that the House of Ophidia does not repay what it owes in kind.”

    Turning briefly to the other witnesses, the towering, skull-helmed figure gives a brief bow. His voice hisses out with an unnaturally pleasant tone, “Welcome to the Gran Umbras Valley!” And then he turns to depart towards one of the upper apartments, cape sweeping behind him and soldiers falling in line behind…


    The big “bring everyone together” update! So what do you do now- how do you all first meet?

    Swims-to-Glory just received a nasty slash on his face, the exact twin of the cut Horned Grandfather just inflicted on Rochester. How's he doing? And does he have any parting words for Rochester?

    Embergaze probably wondered at what he’d helped escort into the Valley, or maybe was curious at the poor, unwitting witnesses upon the lift

    Eiko and Eirlys, both sweet souls, arrive at the top of Jengin’s Hold to the gorgeous view. *Then* the immediate sight of hired authority types seemingly trying to murder an otterkin, and the local military leader subsequently assaulting his own man for it (that was odd, want it?). A Watcher badge is lying next to the elevator: none of the soldiers went to claim it, so it stands to reason it would belong to the Trogg or the Otter here

    The soldiers are leaving, not yet gone, although frankly out of your weight class in a fair fight (which doesn’t mean you couldn’t try to pick a pocket/make a guy trip/study them as they leave, etc etc).

    Brother Kuma has been neither seen nor heard. The drapes around his apartment lie half open, and a dim light shines within

    mrpaku on
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    AustinP0027AustinP0027 Registered User regular
    Swims escalates, but Rochester doesn't back down. The moment is tense, then with a sudden movement, it's worse. Rochester draws a knife, Swims retaliates. Probably most annoyingly to Ember, Siso steps in front of him, in an attempt to stop him from interfering.

    Ember doesn't move at all, but his muscles tense. This situation was already dumb, but it just got dangerous for everyone involved. Before a reaction was required, though, they were interrupted when none other than the Horned Grandfather himself steps out, cloaked in more soldiers. The Trogg admits to himself that an amount of respect was built for the masked figure just from the way he commanded his man so easily. That type of obedience wasn't easily gained, doubly so when heated words turn into violence.

    Just as quickly as he arrived, the Horned Grandfather turned to leave. Better that way, Ember reasoned, so that no one needed to save face. His eyes found Swims now, with a mix of annoyance and sympathy. That wound would linger longer than he liked, but it was brought on by his own stupidity. Whatever had pulled both of them to Brother Kuma, Ember would need to be vigilant.

    Ignoring the soldiers as they were leaving, Ember walked over to Swims, pulls out a strip of bandage from a pouch and hands it over, then starts walking towards Brother Kuma's apartment. Not much needed to be said here, not right now.

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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    (OOC: dang, we're being welcomed by General Kael? We're in trouble!)

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    mrpakumrpaku Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    Glal wrote: »
    (OOC: dang, we're being welcomed by General Kael? We're in trouble!)

    In rusted Golden Armour! With Lord Humongous's voice! And merc-ing one of his own men!

    Just *piling up* the red flags about this guy

    Nearly added a "hope you survive the experience!", but figured it was a bridge too far
    :p

    mrpaku on
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    kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    mrpaku wrote: »
    Glal wrote: »
    (OOC: dang, we're being welcomed by General Kael? We're in trouble!)

    In rusted Golden Armour! With Lord Humongous's voice! And merc-ing one of his own men!

    Just *piling up* the red flags about this guy
    :p

    Seems friendly to me! I mean that's basically "treat others the way you want to be treated" no? :lol:
    mrpaku wrote: »
    Eiko and Eirlys, both sweet souls, arrive at the top of Jengin’s Hold to the gorgeous view. *Then* the immediate sight of hired authority types seemingly trying to murder an otterkin, and the local military leader subsequently assaulting his own man for it (that was odd, want it?). A Watcher badge is lying next to the elevator: none of the soldiers went to claim it, so it stands to reason it would belong to the Trogg or the Otter here

    "What... what's going on here?" Eiko doesn't shout, but her voice is definitely rising in shock and disbelief. She's been in fights, before, ruins are never completely safe-- sometimes with beasts or monsters, and sometimes with treasure-diving Scavengers. But this menacing figure was cold and savage... Plus, this was supposed to be civilized (relatively at least), why was there a fight here? With blades!

    kime on
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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    Swims-to-Glory reaches up to touch his face, making sure his eye is intact, then gives a thankful nod to Ember and gets up, holding the bandage against the wound.

    "You do your house proud, general." He ignores Rochester, his eyes instead on the retreating general, a hard to read expression on his face. With the guards dispersed his koi wriggle-swims through the air and bumps against his side, its owner gently shoving it away, "Sem v redu..."

    He looks around for his badge and heads for it, finally noticing the new arrivals. This time his expression is unguarded and plain to read- surprise. He clearly did not expect to see Eiko again, let alone up here. The otter quickly masks again, picking up the metal shield, "Just a dog that doesn't know when not to bite. You are...?" He does not offer his name in return, at least, not yet.

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    kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    Glal wrote: »
    Swims-to-Glory reaches up to touch his face, making sure his eye is intact, then gives a thankful nod to Ember and gets up, holding the bandage against the wound.

    "You do your house proud, general." He ignores Rochester, his eyes instead on the retreating general, a hard to read expression on his face. With the guards dispersed his koi wriggle-swims through the air and bumps against his side, its owner gently shoving it away, "Sem v redu..."

    He looks around for his badge and heads for it, finally noticing the new arrivals. This time his expression is unguarded and plain to read- surprise. He clearly did not expect to see Eiko again, let alone up here. The otter quickly masks again, picking up the metal shield, "Just a dog that doesn't know when not to bite. You are...?" He does not offer his name in return, at least, not yet.

    "Oh! Sorry, didn't recognize you, on account of you being bleeding on the floor and everything." She smiles, and it seems sincere, but there was definitely a hint of playful mocking there. "My name's Eiko. And yours? And do you... need any more for that cut...?"

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    jdarksunjdarksun Struggler VARegistered User regular
    The elder Lopen clicked her tongue and stepped forward, letting her staff drop before gently prying hands and bandage away from the Otterkin's face to check the wound. "I'll never understand that behavior. That Garou will feel shame and hatred every time he looks in the mirror. Or at one of you two." Eirlys pinched together the edges of the wound, then returned the dressing. "Keep pressure, bleeding should stop soon. Though I expect you know all this already. I can stitch it if you want to be sure it leaves no mark." She studied him for a moment. "Or we can pack it with ash, if you want the scar."

    I'm assuming that's Strain, and not something I can immediately assist with healing? ...although looking at the rules, I'm not sure there's a lot I can do for either regardless. Cure yield Vigor, which is temporary HP, and Stress falls off when you camp?

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    kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    jdarksun wrote: »
    The elder Lopen clicked her tongue and stepped forward, letting her staff drop before gently prying hands and bandage away from the Otterkin's face to check the wound. "I'll never understand that behavior. That Garou will feel shame and hatred every time he looks in the mirror. Or at one of you two." Eirlys pinched together the edges of the wound, then returned the dressing. "Keep pressure, bleeding should stop soon. Though I expect you know all this already. I can stitch it if you want to be sure it leaves no mark." She studied him for a moment. "Or we can pack it with ash, if you want the scar."

    I'm assuming that's Strain, and not something I can immediately assist with healing? ...although looking at the rules, I'm not sure there's a lot I can do for either regardless. Cure yield Vigor, which is temporary HP, and Stress falls off when you camp?

    We're not really on an expedition yet (right, paku?), so there's really no Strain to think of. Aka, this minor cut is nothing to a great adventurer like Swims-To-Glory! So it's just a cosmetic wound and whatever narrative implications are for the reputation S-T-G is getting.

    Vigor and HP are things that will only affect us in Tactical Combat, which is the only thing that is deadly and dangerous enough to be a true threat.

    Paku, all that match with your expectations?

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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    Before Swims-to-Glory can formulate a response to the cheeky youngster the elder begins to fuss over his wound and he clearly cannot deal with it, looking between the two in exasperation before pulling his head back, grunting tersly, "I am fine."

    There's the faintest trace of pink to the corners of his ears and he walks back to the Trogg, nodding towards the hollowed out engine, "Think we made enough noise to announce ourselves?"

    The brightly coloured koi flits closer to the other two, clearly not sharing its master's temperament and giving them a... sniff? Whenever it stops moving it seems to slowly keep gliding as if on ice, using its fins to keep its snout pointed at them. The moment either reaches for it it shoots off after the otter with surprising speed.

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    AustinP0027AustinP0027 Registered User regular
    "And then some." The Trogg responds.

    Ember looks past Swims to the other two who had come up the lift. "You two being up here doesn't seem like a coincidence. Am I right that you're also here for the job?"

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    mrpakumrpaku Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    kime wrote: »
    We're not really on an expedition yet (right, paku?), so there's really no Strain to think of. Aka, this minor cut is nothing to a great adventurer like Swims-To-Glory! So it's just a cosmetic wound and whatever narrative implications are for the reputation S-T-G is getting.

    Vigor and HP are things that will only affect us in Tactical Combat, which is the only thing that is deadly and dangerous enough to be a true threat.

    Paku, all that match with your expectations?

    100%! The Expedition won't begin until you guys leave the Hold...everything between now and then is just building narrative! Glal's "4" bought Swims the respect and notice of House Ophidia, suspicion from the Sister Cities, a probable rival in Rochester, and yet *another* chance for me to injure one of his PCs, which is a bit of a theme for us!

    To help move things along, let's say Embergaze makes his introductions just as you all are entering Brother Kuma's Hut...



    Brother Kuma's Hut

    The vivid red draperies swing open to reveal a twenty-by-twenty foot squared "apartment" house, roughly constructed of four motor carriages welded unevenly together. The floor is carpeted in a circular blue and yellow rug that nearly touches the corners, it's patterning just as exquisite as the drapes above. Sanded and polished wooden stumps, a mix of candles burning brightly over the top, decorate the room. Simple but gorgeously crafted wooden furniture, from the looks of it all handmade, lie about: a bed, a table, a bookcase, a closet, a chest. Bric-a-brac busily adorns the place: next to the bed, a rock imagining of a Titan, standing fully erect (and fully nude); here, a Mother-Tree, face serene, small playful Hobs crawling over every inch of her; the gas-breathers and horned helms and plaster masks of half a dozen or more Raiders along the walls; a long stick, the feathers and horns of countless species glued along its sides. It is the acquired inventory of a lifetime, Big Sleep's history coloring every bit of the place

    Over one section of wall lies a large map of the Gran Umbras Valley very similar to your own, but likely thrice the size, and far more detailed. Small pins have been popped in along various parts of the page, and random notes of varying legibility cover the topography seemingly at random

    The table barely contains room for all the vials, powders, and potions atop it. A stick of incense here, bitter-smelling but strangely calming, clouds the enclosure with an odd scent

    Around the bookshelf and bed, a score of different volumes have been left lying about, either fully opened or with velvet bookmarks sticking out the sides of them. The same hand from the map has scribbled notes among a few of the pages

    The large chest is the only thing in here constructed with wood and metal. It sits firmly locked. The closet contains four beautifully designed, absolutely gigantic kimono-style robes, one for each season

    So crowded and maximalist is the space that you all hardly realize you've already noticed Kuma, and mistaken him as part of the decor: a bearkin, the largest you've ever seen, lies completely motionless against a back wall. You assumed it was stuffed, because he seems dead


    What do you all do? Let me know if any of you wish to Sense or Study any part of the room, or Brother Kuma himself...

    mrpaku on
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    AustinP0027AustinP0027 Registered User regular
    Ember feels boxed in almost immediately upon entering the apartment. Cities were busy, but somehow Brother Kuma has packed even more into a smaller space. The Trogg yearned for the freedom of the wilderness. I can't get out of this city fast enough...

    His yellow eyes scan the room and it's contents, noting the large map, which draws his attention further. That is, until he see what first appeared to be a stuffed bear on the far wall that under further attention, might be alive. Ember's eyes narrow slightly as his attention is focus in that direction.

    Using Sense on Brother Kuma
    Geth, roll 2d6k1 for Sense

    Sense:
    2d6k1 3 [2d6k1=[3], 3]

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    mrpakumrpaku Registered User regular
    Using Sense on Brother Kuma
    Geth, roll 2d6k1 for Sense
    There's not a visible mark on the bear, but he's not moving... doesn't seem to even be breathing...and he feels cold....

    Oh shit, did the Horned Grandfather just come in here and murder Brother Kuma, and you've stumbled onto the crime scene? Or did the bear accidentally just overdose on one of these odd vials lying about? Maybe he simply died of old age in a coincidence right as you all arrived, but still, not a great look for you to have been the last ones to see him!

    This is bad, Embergaze, really bad- things like this are what keep you out of the Cities! What are you all going to do?!

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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    edited September 2023
    The otter enters alongside Ember (and presumably Eiko and Eirlys, but he's pretending they don't exist right now), letting out a whistle from under his breath. There's packrats and then there's this guy...

    He completely misses the bear's presence and walks around the outside of the room, glancing at the open volumes strewn about, then the pinned map, trying to identify the significance of the pins.

    Geth, roll 2d6l1 for Study, his other best skill

    [edit] "It's not a real map! This was a prize from a Happy Meal!"

    Study, his other best skill:
    2d6l1 1 [2d6l1=[1], 2]

    Glal on
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    mrpakumrpaku Registered User regular
    Glal wrote: »
    "It's not a real map! This was a prize from a Happy Meal!"
    ....the red pins sort of make the shape of a bird, if you turn your head sideways a bit? If it was like, a constellation maybe?

    The blue pins fall mostly along the main roads...although a handful of them don't? And some circled in red?

    The yellow pins all have shapes drawn next to them: an upside down triangle with a question mark inside; a frowny face wearing a halo; an upside down heart?

    The purple pins all have different colored threads connecting them as pairs, and some have ornaments hanging from the strings: a bell, a kerchief, a pouch of herbs.

    The scribbled notes confuse the situation further, if that's even possible: love sonnets, chess moves, religious text, recipe fragments. At one point, they just start naming off body parts

    Best Swims can tell, the art project made of this map is either the workings of a very imaginative child, or a crazy person

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    AustinP0027AustinP0027 Registered User regular
    Ember's eyes go hard for a moment. "I'm not sure we should be in here."

    There's hesitancy in his voice, and he takes a step backwards towards the door. He doesn't flee, but he is uneasy at the moment and looking back and forth for a possible explanation.

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    kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    "And then some." The Trogg responds.

    Ember looks past Swims to the other two who had come up the lift. "You two being up here doesn't seem like a coincidence. Am I right that you're also here for the job?"

    "Yeah. Didn't plan to come up so soon, but opportunity knocked and who am I to leave the door locked!"

    Entering the room, Eiko looks around. Her attention is immediately drawn to the books, and she rushes over, half-heartedly mumbling for permission as she goes ("can I please take a look at your books thanks"). She wonders what interesting information may be among them or the notes, particularly anything about new ruins or advances in Aetherical research.

    Geth roll 3d6k1 for Studyin' those books

    Edit: *dusts hands off*, ezpz :tongue:

    Studyin' those books:
    3d6k1 6 [3d6k1=[6], 2, 1]

    kime on
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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    OOC: out of the 9 dice I've rolled so far, only one of them was not an outright failure (1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4). This means Swims is about to roll crits for a while, right, that's how probability works.

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    jdarksunjdarksun Struggler VARegistered User regular
    before
    Eirlys inclined her head when Swims-to-Glory pulled away. "Apologies. Probably should have asked first. Old habits. Some being older than others."
    "Am I right that you're also here for the job?"
    "I've been called, yes. Maybe for the last time, but we'll see."

    now
    In the bearkin's quarters, the older Lopen moved to the desk - hoping to find something that might wake the sleeping giant.

    Geth, roll 2d6k1 for Tinker, to make sense of the alchemy components on the desk

    Tinker, to make sense of the alchemy components:
    2d6k1 5 [2d6k1=[5], 5]

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    mrpakumrpaku Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    Eiko

    The Thyrnn is able to discern much from Brother Kuma's literature...
    - The bearkin has been reading several tomes on chess strategy and military history. In particular, Big Sleep seems to have bookmarked sections focused on stalemating games while losing as few pieces as possible, and battles that were won with minimal bloodshed. It would seem the bulk of the bear's attention has been on making an attempt to solve the regional conflict within the Valley and between the Sister Cities in a way that would make everyone happy...

    - A few of the scripts are medical in nature. This one is opened to a treatment for narcolepsy, this one a catalogue of various terminal illnesses, and their treatments...oh dear, this one looks to be on "end of life" care. From what you gather of all this, Brother Kuma must be dying (although, given his narcolepsy, is likely not dead yet...just a particularly heavy sleeper.)

    - A handful of these are actually journals, almost all written in a different hand. Flipping through them, Eiko realizes these must have been kept by the previous Watchers: some are dated back nearly ten years. The most recent of the notebooks are all signed by a "Santiago", the Watcher who must have come before you. It looks like in these, Kuma has circled sections pertaining to certain factions around the Valley: "The Children", "The Neighbors", "The Whispers"

    - A book on spycraft. The chapter explaining hidden ciphers and secret languages nearly has the pages falling out of it
    "...particularly anything about new ruins or advances in Aetherical research..."
    ...this is what you were hoping to find here!!! It's an ancient, hardbound book, likely dating back all the way to the Fall. It seems to be a sort of map/tourist's guide of what the Gran Umbras Valley must have once been, long, long ago. Now of course, this area looks nothing like it once did, but the attractions they have in this thing: "WITNESS! THE WALKING TRAIN!"; "SEE! THE MOON-CUTTER!"; "BEHOLD! THE "GOD-BOARD"!" Eiko salivates at the idea of any of this stuff still being buried out in the Valley somewhere...


    Eirlys
    The table is covered in various remedies for several highly serious conditions. Half of the items here are heavy-duty painkillers, including a few they only provide those at death's door: the bear appears to be very, very sick with something, and from the look of his extensive (some items wholly illegal) medicine cabinet, Brother Kuma isn't long for this world

    Among the other items on the table, the Lopen finds just the thing- a vial of camphor crystals, which should be enough to roust the fellow!

    mrpaku on
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    jdarksunjdarksun Struggler VARegistered User regular
    Spotting what she was hoping to find, the rabbitkin picked up the vial and shuffled over to their slumbering contact. Eirlys brought the container near to Big Sleep's nose and mouth, then pulled the stopper. The Lopen watched for motion, ready to cap the vial as soon as its contents had taken effect.

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    kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    Eiko gasps, and pulls out a small book to begin to scribble notes on what she's found.

    Battle.net ID: kime#1822
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    mrpakumrpaku Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    vysrqdk68drh.png

    Brother Kuma (for the first time that any of you have noticed) inhales deeply, the bear’s chest filling like a great balloon. After fully half a minute of this, the bearkin exhales in gruesome fashion, a series of wracking coughs shaking his massive frame (as well as rattling the walls of the hut around you)! “Sleep” makes several further attempts to clear his throat, eventually procuring a large rag from nearby (roughly the size of a beach towel) and *hocking* something awful inside of it.

    Finally opening his eyes to the room, the bearkin raises a great fist, voice a threatening growl, and continues on a previous conversation, “…and another thing, you great golden snake, the Valley won’t…oh!…” Big Sleep’s demeanor changes once he notices the new visitors. The bear blinks and does a double-take. “Well…I suppose the bastard has left then. Good riddance!”

    Turning to the four of you, Kuma gives a large smile, and slowly pulls himself to his feet. “And hello there! Now this is a pleasant surprise!…” The bearkin moves to his bed, and from beneath it procures a small camping stove, a kettle, and a half dozen (beautiful) porcelain cups. Making some space on the table to place the stove, the Brother busily gets started at boiling water. “I am glad you’ve finally arrived! There is much to do, much to discuss, and little enough time! I see you all received my letters…err…” Big Sleep takes account of the crew again, carefully counting your number. “Hrrm…wait, now did I call all of you?” The bearkin seems to be trying his damn-dest to remember your names. “Forgive an old bear his foggy memory…I know this, but…you all were?…”


    Brother Kuma is S-T-G’s and Emberkin’s contact as Watchers, the last of the Old Guard (unofficial leaders) in Jengin’s Hold, and a person of significant influence in the Valley. Once everyone introduces themselves (and asks any questions), he’ll be explaining your basic duties as Watchers of the Ways, the current political situation of the Valley (from his perspective), and how to plan your tours, ie Expeditions (basically, cutting triangles between the Holds, hitting points of interest on the way).

    Big Sleep has answers (at least *half* answers) to *many* of the questions you may have about the situation you’re getting into with this job. He’s also narcoleptic, infirm, and possibly suffering some early stage dementia. So, there’s that! Once the conversation with Big Sleep wraps, unless any of you need to stop back in the lower town for anything, your first Expedition into the Gran Umbras Valley will commence!

    mrpaku on
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    AustinP0027AustinP0027 Registered User regular
    Ember pushes away the moment of small panic he had where something had tripped him up into thinking that Brother Kuma might have been dead. He steps back up to the group, much more relaxed.

    "Emberkin, Brother Kuma. Watcher of the Ways."

    A number of questions came to mind for Ember in the moment, but he left them silent. Maybe it was the embarrassment of being wrong a moment ago, maybe it was a natural inclination to observe before reacting, but whatever it was, he was content to let Kuma offer up more information first.

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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    At the sound of the bear rousing the otter pushes the pin he'd been removing from the map back into its position. Nothing to see here. He steps forward to stand next to Ember, "Swims-to-Glory, one of the new Watchers." Under his breath he mutters, "Ta bo crknil, preden bom plachan..."

    Waiting for the other two to start talking to mask his voice, he lifts his head towards the Trogg beside him (his long body appears to gain half a head of height as it straightens upwards), whispering, "We still get paid if he croaks in the meantime, right?"

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    mrpakumrpaku Registered User regular
    Big Sleep's eyes shine with sudden recognition, "Yes, that's right...I'd heard good word of you from Shoshak! "Dependable", "Bit on the Quiet Side", "The-One-Who-Refuses-to-Sleep-Under-Metal-Walls", correct?" Brother Kuma begins dropping tea bags into the fancy cups, then fishes around back in the nightstand beneath his bed for honey and sugar. His tone fraternal, the bear adds pleasantly to the Trogg, "Rumors have it, you fell in love with the Valley at first sight! It was why I chose to extend my offer, sight unseen you see..."

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    mrpakumrpaku Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    Brother Kuma nods over as Swims-to-Glory introduces himself. At the sight of Pridi, a large grin spreads across Sleep's face, the bear clearly a fan of the animal. "Heh...what a beautiful creature you have there...Ah yes...the Islander! Of course, I've heard many different tales of you." The bearkin rises one eyebrow, shooting the Otter a knowing look. "Welcome to the Gran Umbras Valley, my notorious whiskered friend! I appreciate you accepting my offer...I believe the Valley will benefit greatly from having an "Outsider's" perspective at this delicate moment..."

    mrpaku on
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    kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    mrpaku wrote: »
    Turning to the four of you, Kuma gives a large smile, and slowly pulls himself to his feet. “And hello there! Now this is a pleasant surprise!…” The bearkin moves to his bed, and from beneath it procures a small camping stove, a kettle, and a half dozen (beautiful) porcelain cups. Making some space on the table to place the stove, the Brother busily gets started at boiling water. “I am glad you’ve finally arrived! There is much to do, much to discuss, and little enough time! I see you all received my letters…err…” Big Sleep takes account of the crew again, carefully counting your number. “Hrrm…wait, now did I call all of you?” The bearkin seems to be trying his damn-dest to remember your names. “Forgive an old bear his foggy memory…I know this, but…you all were?…”

    "Oh, hello!" Eiko replies. "You don't know me! My name's Eiko, and my hobbies involve delving into dangerous ruins and investigating new ways to manipulate and empower Aether. I heard you're looking for folks to do some of that, and help out keeping the roads safe. I figured I could help! Anyways I see some old references here, stuff that I don't recognize on modern maps, do you know where they may be?"

    She pauses for a moment, thinking back to the other things she read that didn't quite grab her attention as much initially. "Oh, and, umm... Sorry, I didn't know you were asleep at first. I didn't mean to pry into your privacy here. I did ask... I'm here to help you out, if I can."

    Battle.net ID: kime#1822
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    jdarksunjdarksun Struggler VARegistered User regular
    "Eirlys, long time servant of Tsumi. Called out of a peaceful retirement, again, for the sixth or seventh time. But who's counting?" The Lopen settled herself on the chest in lieu of a chair, and waited for Brother Kuma to finish composing himself.

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    mrpakumrpaku Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    Brother Kuma listens keenly as Eiko and Eirlys introduce themselves. Whistling bewilderment, the bearkin muses, “…are you sure I didn’t send for the two of you? An eager Churner child, and a fellow Elder of the Faith?” The bear chuckles with an exquisite joy. “Between you pair and our hardened friends here, I believe my Prayers have truly been answered!”

    When Eiko presents the Old World tome to the bearkin, Sleep nearly begins choking again. Quickly (but gently!) taking the book back from the Thyrnn, Brother Kuma closes the thing in a futile effort to hide the secrets within. The bear shakes his head with a frustrated, embarrassed resignation; that volume was not something anyone was meant to see.

    “….well, I suppose it was going to come up eventually, anyway. Hrrrm,” the bear ponders with concern, looking about the other books opened around the room and casting a wary eye back at Eiko. “…wonder what else you did learn from my collection, ey’ there clever lass?…”

    The kettle begins to hiss, and Big Sleep moves to make the tea. A few minutes later, he deposits in front of each of you a steaming hot cup of something delightful smelling. To the Thrynn and the Lopen, he reverently passes their own Watcher Badges without another question. Then, sitting cross legged upon the floor in front of you all, Brother Kuma closes his eyes, and takes a deep, cleansing breath. Exhaling, the bearkin looks up, and spends a moment to stare at each member of the party in turn. To Embergaze, he remarks, “A sleeper under the stars”; to Swims-to-Glory, “a palmleaf among the Elwood”; to Eirlys, “a servant of Tsumi’s Pale”; to Eiko, “a beacon of “The Wonder”…”


    Watchers of the Way

    “...I appreciate you all answering the call, whatever ambition may have brought you here. The Watchers of the Way are an ancient, noble order, dating back to the earliest days of the Green Age. They have been Post-persons…Diplomats…Warriors and Wayfarers…Guardians and Guild Leaders. Protectors of the Peoples, the Trees, the Ruin Beasts, the Hobs, and the Waters of this Sacred Valley. Speakers to those Lands Beyond. Bearers of Ill Omens, Heralds to the Rising Sun, and Delvers Among the Old Paths...” The bear has obviously repeated this speech a few score of times before, but you can tell he still believes every single word. That deep, booming voice is noticeably somber, however; the bearkin sounds like he’s describing a great fallen World-Tree, or an ancient tome of the Faith crumbling to dust before him

    The next bit is clearly unrehearsed. Kuma seems to be picking each word carefully, diplomatically, “…but now, the times have changed. The “Old Ways” are being pushed out by the will of the Sister-Cities and false Emperors. These newly-sprung Empires view the Valley not as the frontier of freedom, a growing, breathing thing - but yet another shiny jewel to be plucked quivering from the earth. And the Peoples of this blessed land have taken note…retreated, become more isolationist even than they once were, and for good reason now…”


    War For the Valley

    “You’ve no doubt seen the batch of troops being garrisoned below? Heh…they’re said to be here for the “safety of the Valley”, “protection against a rumored threat”? Replacements for Watchers, some even say…but no…Zrebus and Rovel, they’re mustering Armies right now. Tightening their grip. And once they’re at full force among the Holds…I’d say within the year, maybe less…the Horned Bastard an’ his friends are prepping to march over the place! Cover story is to be it’s for the People’s own protection…clearing out a handful of ancient Demon nests, putting to rest a Bandit castle or two, breaking up an underground mutant-fighting ring…but the real move is to be running over the villages, clamping down on dissent, and annexing territory for the Sister Cities by force, if needs be!”

    The sleepy bear ruefully declares, “Think they’ve been waiting for us Old Guard to finally die out before making their last move on the Gran Umbras, but just got impatient and decided to pave the road ahead of time! Me, Reggie the Reaver, and the Glitter Triplets are just too obstinate to die, I suppose…”

    “Which brings me to your friend Eiko’s unique find, here…”


    Brother Kuma’s Request

    The bearkin takes out the Old World book he’d grabbed back from the Thrynn, and carefully begins to open up certain, very-carefully selected pages before the lot of you:


    Pictures you’re allowed to see include: Something that looks like a giant nervous system transmitting data to a massive spider’s-body; a grouping of odd shaped clockwork bugs shown chewing through a mountainside and beams of metal; a depiction of three absolutely *massive* lasguns carving symbols onto the moon; four black spires, a different, bizarre looking dancing character atop each while small figures cower beneath; yet another clockwork bug, this one segmented, hollow, and seemingly building/retrieving tracks from inside itself.- This is all S-Grade, “a-kid-on-a-playground-told-me-once” Old World stuff…almost certainly exaggerated, if not outright *fictional*. Fairy tale stories… right?


    Brother Kuma’s closes the book with a snap. Now slightly wheezing, the bearkin requests: “I would like to see that the “Treasures” of the Valley, should they be found, may pass to those they truly belong to…the rightful dwellers of this place. The Children…the Architects…maybe the Verdant Blades, or the Whispers. The Neighbors even, I suppose…That they may be a gift between, and for, the People!”

    Big Sleep says the next bit quietly, but firmly. “Heh, truth be told… *no pressure*, of course…but my last hope…an old bear’s futile dying wish… is that you are the four who may somehow fulfill my dream of peace within the Valley.” Big Sleep looks once more around each of the new Watchers. “The People are guarded, and keep the secrets of this place well, and jealously. Many of the villages would cut off their own noses, were it to spite the cities or their neighbors. But once it was the Watchers who bridged these difference…building trust, mending broken bonds…And to Watchers who could aspire to such again?…” Big Sleeps eyes shine bright once more, a hint of the youthful warrior who once was peering out from behind the wizened old bear. “…I promise, I can foresee glorious riches just beneath the soil, the wealth of the Arkenlords spilling out- can picture the Gate Towns, alight with the reclaimed Treasures of the Old World! And above all, can dream of the People clutching their own Right, rising above those who would take their Lands, clutching sunken artifacts of the Arden Lords, and simply stating, “No!””

    Big Sleep slurps his tea, subtly taking in each of your expressions as he tells the tale/reveals his allegiance. After awhile, the bear quietly adds, “You may wonder that I would trust you with all of this, us being complete strangers. Well, to be quite frank, it is because… I am out of time. Out of options, to do otherwise. Understand this…it’s why I brought in only outsiders for you batch of Watchers, see? No one in this room has ties to the Sister Cities, or the Ophidia, or the Old Guard…you’re not strictly on Rovel’s leash, or around Zrebus’s circlet, or among the Horned Grandfather’s chains. You’re all independent agents, as it were. Heh…a “roll of the dice”. Maybe I was right…maybe wrong…”

    Brother Kuma clears his throat once more, turning away for a few seconds to cough. Wiping his nose on the towel, the bearkin turns back, anxiously awaiting the party’s response

    mrpaku on
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    GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    Swims-to-Glory tries, he really tries, but sweet deities does everyone here love the sound of their own voice. His posture sags and his face sinks into a stone mask of Get It Over With, though he does appear to perk up when 'Treasures of the Valley' are mentioned.

    The bear's speech complete he clears his throat, "...so you want us to delve into some ruins and bring back some treasures?" The otterkin is trying to keep his question focused, so as to hopefully cut the bear off from going into another speech. Please. No more pontificating.

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    AustinP0027AustinP0027 Registered User regular
    Ember looks down to Swims with a half-smile forming on his lips. "Distribute." he says, "Distribute some treasure, Swims, should we even find it."

    Ember looks back to Brother Kuma, "Getting about the Valley is nothing new for Swims or me, but I'm guessing you aren't just opening the door and pointing out. Hidden or not, there must be some info on where to start."

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    mrpakumrpaku Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    Glal wrote: »
    The bear's speech complete he clears his throat, "...so you want us to delve into some ruins and bring back some treasures?" The otterkin is trying to keep his question focused, so as to hopefully cut the bear off from going into another speech. Please. No more pontificating.

    Big Sleep patiently corrects, "If you were to earn the trust of the Valley's people as their Watcher, I believe they may show you the way to these "Treasures" of which I have spoken...and with them, Swims, Dust beyond your wildest dreams...enough to build a Kingdom with!"


    Note: This is obviously just Big Sleep's opinion: likely, there are *many* other ways to discover the location of these "Treasures " now that you know of their existence, if you wanted to skip the whole "Guardian of the Valley" thing

    Ember looks down to Swims with a half-smile forming on his lips. "Distribute." he says, "Distribute some treasure, Swims, should we even find it."

    Brother Kuma nods; Embergaze seems to get the way of it. "Just so!: The Valley-dwellers keep the secrets of this place with their very lives...but they take care of those who take care of them as well. Wherever these Wonders are still buried, in one piece of twenty, I can guarantee you should you uncover them, you will be rewarded in kind!"


    Note: Should you manage to discover one of the aforementioned "Wonders", it's your own business who you choose reveal its existence to. *However!* From the apparent size of them within the book, *none* of the Old World machines are the sort of thing you could just pick up and carry away by hand: they'd need to be dug up, pulled out, restored, reactivated, etc etc. Unearthing would take labor, and likely would draw attention. The Bear is correct, though: anywhere one of these massive technologies would lie, absolute *massive* piles of Dust could almost *surely* be found


    Ember looks back to Brother Kuma, "Getting about the Valley is nothing new for Swims or me, but I'm guessing you aren't just opening the door and pointing out. Hidden or not, there must be some info on where to start."

    Brother Kuma rubs his chin thoughtfully. "I suppose that would depend," he replies, "...on which of the Treasures you all thought to seek first..."


    Brother Kuma will reveal one current "suspected location" of a Wonder (first one's free). Among the shown Old World "Treasures" lying about the Valley, which one currently draws the group's interest the most: the "God-Board" (some giant spider-thing)? The "Deep-Cleaners"? (ravenous clockwork termites)? The "Moon-Cutters" (absolutely massive lasers)? "The Zoo" (four binded giant figures)? Or the "Walking-Train" (a clockwork carriage-beetle)?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E2ag7ctTwE

    mrpaku on
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