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[EX3][Campaign Journal/Actual Play] The Fires of Passion

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  • [EX3][Campaign Journal/Actual Play] The Fires of Passion

    Howdy do one and all.

    First off I'm going to start by saying this is the first time I've ever decided to recount what happens in any games that I have either run or taken part in. In fairness I can say its been a long time coming me actually doing one, as some things that happen are just to good to not share; or at least I'm hoping.

    Secondly a small note on the type of players that I have in my group; lax at best. What I mean by that is I can to them and give them a little pitch about what it is that I want to try and run and most (if not all) will respond in the casual "Sure, why not?" manner. This tends to make long spanning games incredibly difficult with my group, with our longest being six months. Im recording our exploits on here as a way to track and see how long this game keeps going.
    So in that vain my game has next to no long to term goals at the minute, with the players being the ones to decide on how they want to play it and thats fine. In my planning I have decided that there will be a fair amount of ruins from the First Age and the Shogunate from when the region was more tamed and agreeable with people living there. If the players want to build up a kingdom then they can, if they want to explore these ruins and learn more about what they are then they can, if they want to do something else then they can. I want to avoid rail roading them as much as possible as that has been a real killer of games for us.

    To kick things into gear I am running my game in the South, in a nice little region that I'm still in process of piecing together called Thari. The game has started however (currently three sessions in doing a "Prelude Story"; sort of a coming of age "this was your first great deed" type of thing. More on that later.) If there is any interest in having a read in the region, you can find it here

    The Circle
    Phoolon Devi is the circle's Night caste, born and raised in some backwater hinterlands village with no name on the borders of two land grabbing states. His village took the brunt of it too many times and he became a bandit with a group of like minded individuals. During a particularly careful raid on a caravan that turned out to be an ambush he was arrested and sentenced to death. In the cell, he Exalted and made his great escape fleeing into the outskirts of the city and carrying on going until he was three towns away.
    The character is rather self serving and sarcastic, sporting a pair of flame pieces while mounted on his old (nag?) simhata, Sancha. The supernal of choice for the character was Larceny.

    Lee Wung is a martial artist, explorer, monkey beastman and the circle's Eclipse caste. In his youth he was taken by slavers from the jungles around Rathess while he and others his age were out after hours. He was owned by a spiteful bitter man and when he passed away Lee was thrown out into the streets to fend for himself. An old man, blinded by cataracts took him in and trained him in martial arts. During a barbarian raid of a small valley'd region he Exalted in their defence and drove them off.
    The character is definately naive as the player wanted him to be quite young, just a bit over the "Exaltation Age" and his character is quite light hearted, with his supernal being Socialize.

    Alvan Nadir was raised in an enclave of the Cult of The Illuminated and was tought about the Shining Ones, as well as given rudimentary lessons on everything else but his main yearning was war. He trained the enclaves youngsters in how to fight in a formation and with simple weapons and tactics that would prove to be the most effective in the long haul. His Exaltation came about when an Immaculate Monk came to the enclave to put it to death. He fought with the Dragon Blooded, Exalting in the process and sparing the monks life.
    An honourable man is what the player is going for, who's word can be taken literally and will be there to support his allies at all times. In the players words, "coz I'm a slut for swords" his supernal is Melee.

    Last but not least, Kakhana Aguna the sorceror and the circle's Twilight. One day he decided there must be more to his life than what he was currently living with the Delzahn and he decided to leave them behind in search of divinity. In his travels he found his Earth Caste lover Zandros, and found his patron and mentor, the Ifrit Ranso. During a literal trial by fire, and after undergoing intense and rigourous tests he Exalted after being branded and covered in scars that have settled and look like ash. These blackened "tattoos" are in future going to be his artifacts, like the shadow tattoos of Mara only more flame focused.
    A sharp mind and a strong fisted character, he is coming across as doing the circles "Zenith Roles" as well as his own by being a moral compass and quite sensible, with his supernal being Occult.

    As a way to get the circle together, of which the players agreed with me doing it how interpreted, I chose to take it from Exalted 2nd editions storytelling advice section. A Sidereal who was from the region the PCs are going to, and was friends and an advisor to them during the First Age, is going to manipulate them into retaking the region from the Realm and forming it into a new Solar Deliberative with which he can help keep them in check.

  • #2
    Session 1:

    The players start the scene in a savannah-esque landscape complete with acacia trees, saw grass, boulders of various sizes and other environment appropriate objects. In front of them, a short distance away are a group of hobgoblins with lion heads atop strange and gangly forms. One had rended a goat carcasses in half and launched the back end at them before they growled and roared in unison *roll initiative*. (At this point, I kept the players relatively in the dark about why they were there. I told them prior to the session about it and how it fit into my "coming of age" tale and they were happy enough.)

    Phoolon launches into the combat, drawing out his paired flame pieces and incinerating one right on the spot (11 initative, 8 post-hardness dice = one dead hobgoblin) before a hob retaliates, screaming about how its going to eat his genitals as it launches into an attack but fails to connect by quite some distance. Alvan goes next, engaging with a pair of hobs trying to raise his tempo so he can lash out with a devastating counter attack (took Ready In Eight Directions and wanted to be more defencive, dealing the hurt in their turns to punish them on his next; sound idea, slightly bad practice) but had no luck, but managed to keep them in place. A hob landed a glancing hit on Kakhana, sapping some of his initiative before another did the same on its turn, putting him on the back foot, before Lee engaged and broke ones face with a vicious staff. The fight when it did end, finished with Kakhana unleashing his Heavens Thunder Hammer, launching a hob to medium range through a large boulder, with its gangly legs poking from it.

    After the fight had ended, I informed the players that they were here looking for a group of boys between 6 and 12 who were a small villages goat herders. This was a grazing ground for them but they should have been back. In the chaos of the chase the boys went into an abandoned warren, using their staves and a knife to keep the hobgoblins away who were feasting on the fear they gave off. After Phoolon almost lost his hand to a knife lunging from the hole he convinced them that nothing was going to happen and that their parents were worried about them and they were here to take them home.

    The next scene was a flashback for me to explain why they were at the village. They were travelling with a caravan, with the reason it was on the way to where they were headed but in a flash flood, they were dragged away from the caravan and left to fend for themselves. When they arrived at the village a small gathering of people in the village square drew their attention as a man who was viciously scarred and missing a forearm spoke on behalf of the village elders, announced something was going to be done about the shortages they were suffering from. As the issue with the boys was brought up Lee announced loudly that they would help. They were took into the main house to have the full situation explained, with how the goats are the villages life blood.

    A flash forward later and they were travelling back but had to make a camp because of the boys fatigue. In the early hours of the morning they woken up by a womens screaming, as she ran frantically towards them. Phoolon spotted high up in the sky a pair of gryphons about to dive on the woman, and he announced it as he went sprinting towards the woman he shouted out about them and they sprang into action. Alvan launched a javelin into the sky to force one off track, and Lee clobbered one mid flight to get it to drop, while Kakhana and Phoolon grabbed the woman and took her to shelter. With the amount of resistance (and real life time) the gryphons flew off defeated. The women went onto explain what had happened while they were away, about the assault by the forces of a raksha, about the whole sale slaughter that she managed to escape from. She was told to stay with the boys, to rest and to keep an eye on them.

    They ran to the village as fast as they can, but it was too late. Smoke rises from the buildings and hobgoblins feast on the survivors. The players "deal with them" and start to sift through the wreckage before they happen upon the scarred man who had been "crucified" upon a Y shape made from spears, with dead villagers at his feet. He was sparred to relay a message to them from the raksha, Lokshal Asla, who had done this to the village. "Come Children of the Sun and of Creation; see what I have done, witness and tremble." After the message was given, he begged for death announcing he couldn't live anymore with what he witnessed. After an intense moral conversation, Alvan granted his death to the disapproval of Lee claming him to be weak willed if he was capable of giving his life away rather than grow strong from it.

    And that is where the first session ended after they scavenged for provisions, and set off following the wake of destruction left by the raksha.

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    • #3
      Ok so its been a couple of days now since I wrote in the first session but fear not, hear comes Session Two.

      After the circle had scavenged for supplies, Phoolon had been looking around the town much closer than others and spotted that most tracks left behind are heading out southwesterly, towards the desert so naturally the circle followed. After a few days of scavenging supplies from other destroyed towns, finding Kakhana's Dragonblooded lover and Phoolon's simhata Sancha,they come to plateau's edge overlooking a patch of scrub land where, a destroyed caravan being looted, near a series of valleys and ravines. They formulate a small plan and descend down to the bottom of the plateau. The scavengers didnt take too kindly to the players asking questions, telling them to "Piss off or else". Phoolon began to get impatient and rode down to see what the problem was, when one of the scavengers recognised him and his mount and told them the caravan remains was theres, and wanted no part of it, exclamining that Phoolon should be dead. They searched around the caravan to find that the merchant who they were accompanying had been strapped to the underside of a wagon, and tortured to death in a manner very similiar to the scarred man from session one. They were expecting to be ambushed by the raksha's forces but they thought it would have been in the ravines if it was to happen at all.

      Lee and Alvan searched for tracks or signs of hiding places to make sure that no Wyld creature raiders would ambush them in their sleep and had managed to find Alvan's theomilitary forces taking cover in a large cavern, while Kakhana summoned forth a Cinder Wolf to help them in the upcoming battle which he was expecting to happen when they were travelling through the ravines. Phoolon on the other hand rested and tended to his old simhata.

      Morning came and they bit the bullet and began to traverse through the ravines. All was well for the most part but Phoolon had spotted a series of falling rocks drop from the ravine edges that hadn't just fallen away, and instead where knocked loose by a small pack of hobgoblins. Dubiously Lee traversed the edges to see if he could catch them but to no avail, their tracks leading away from the ravine the players in multiple directions. After a brief discussion about the merits of whether they should sleep in the ravine, they decided they needed to for the coming engagement. Feeling rested they moved on.

      They came to a bend in the ravine where it would follow naturally, with a cave on the right with an opening big enough to allow two people through walking side by side. Before any decisions could be made a land slide came crashing down on them, catchingall but Phoolon beneath it. For the next few hours they worked at digging out the rest of his circle and rather than dig out the rest of the landside, they opted to go through the cave.

      At the end was a raksha, whom they initially thought was Lokshal, but was one of his second in commands Dirish. With Dirish was a pair of manticores and a large horde of hobgoblins. After a meaningless conversation where Lee showed off his naivety they rolled initiative.

      For most of the fight Dirish and Alvan traded blows, lowering each others initiative and not being able to do much else. Lee engaged the horde of hobgoblins, turning on his White Reaper form and shattering their morale and numbers in just two rounds of combat, while Kakhana was forced to engage a pair of manticores getting quite injured in the process and being pinned by one, while the other was launched with an application of Heavens Thunder Hammer. Phoolon, not being a competetant combatant decided to aid Alvan in his fight against the cataprhact and help deliver a solid opening blow by using a distract gambit but was retaliated against and suffered a serious blow. To take himself out of the fight he rolled an Appearance+Larceny, on the grounds that is the roll for a disguise, to make himself looked dead, as he was unhorsed from Sancha and fell hard onto the ground. With Lee having pummelled the battlegroup so quickly, he rushed to Kakhana's aid and helped him fight off the manticore that pinned him, breaking its jaw in a vicious assault. Unpinned and seeing Phoolon killed, Kakhana started to gather sorcerous motes for Flight of the Brilliant Raptor, while Alvan had beat a wide gap in the cataphracts defence. In the last round of combat, the cataphract was pummelled by Lee's staff, slashed with Alvan's sword and blown to pieces by the spell Kakhana had unleashed. The remaining manticore fled the combat, seeing an opening and refusing to die here.

      Then came the mourning for their fallen comrade, before Alvan noticed him twitch from uncomfort. There was a "bro moment" between Lee and Phoolon before a force of tribesmen found them, lead by a man called Dashing Cheetah, who offered them to come to his village, but he and his men were noticeably twitchy with the flames still burning, and animas glowing. The trip to his village was quiet and when they arrived a relatively busy centre was turned quiet quickly. Then came a question; help me in our coming battle. Cheetah knew the Fair Folk were coming but they knew they would be destroyed. When the players asked him why, he told them "It is best to have your own demons to fight demons". For the next few days, Phoolon and Kakhana recovered while Lee and Alvan tried to help around town and come up with a plan.

      When the day came, and the preparations had been gone through, they waited for the day to come when the Fair Folk would arrive. The engagement itself due to time, and tiredness, we discussed more what happened rather than going through the motions through mechanics leaving it purely down to decription and theatrics. At the defeat of the warbands leader they found that Lokshal had split apart from the main battle group and headed out into the desert, and the circle began to argue whether they should continue after him or not. Alvan wished to pursue to rid the world of another monster, Kakhana had almost the same reason, while Phoolon would have much preferred to go to a city and find some comfort using a "carpets this thick" statement. Lee seemed obliged to agree with majority and so they set out on his tracks.

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      • #4
        Session Three:

        This session was slow to start as I was late showing up at my buddies house due to parental responsibilities, but we still managed to get a reasonably solid amount done and the session will be continuing this following weekend. So far:

        The players had trekked from Dashing Cheetah's village, leaving behind any retinues that would have slowed down the journey following the path of Lokshal to a small mountain seemingly just plonked into the middle of the desert. This mountain range was pox marked with cavern mouths, some only a mouse could use while others large enough for a yeddim to pass through, plus howdah and baggage. Scattered round the place are the sun scorched carcasses of animals and humans alike, and as they approached their mounts became seemingly skittish, with Sancha the simhata becoming more resistant and violent to being moved only going as far as the cave mouth they were going to go into. They hitched up their animals as best as they could dobefore delving into the caverns.

        Getting through the caves without being turned around was taken care of with an extended survival roll and along the way they spotted some crystals growing from the cave walls which glowed a gentle blue colour, growing more vibrant the players got. Kakhana took them as a point of study and noticed that they were seemingly reacting to the essence they gave off, while Phoolon took as many as possible to try and hawk off when they got back to civilisation. As they noticed the caves started to become increasingly more man made, they came out into a large opening and saw this (only with blue crystals rather than red, and some buildings carved from the roof of the cavern) Off in the distance was a trio of huge statues Atlas style, built to look as if they held up the ceiling of the cave, standing on top of a large structure with a platform half way up them suspended by huge white jade chains.

        As they wandered the streets in search of Lokshal they stumbled across some relics of the bygone city which, by this point, they haven't found the name of. Kakhana, knowing Old Realm, was able to tell them what was written on streets signs and plaques and they took momentos from the place; a little kinetic sculpture being one of them. After they stumbled across an automaton repair shop, they were ambushed by a chimera like creature; front portion of a lion, but its head had two sets of horns, that moved into a goats lower portions with its hooves having an extra toe, and a long sinuous hooded cobra tail. The creature was unnaturally swollen in size and was about as big as a yeddim.

        When the attack was sprung, Kakhana was trapped beneath its paw but managed to fight his way out from beneath it and the group fled as its weight destabilised the unmaintained ground and bridges. So they ran, being chased by the creature to the structure at the base of the statues that was a grand octagonal building. Lee and Phoolon distracted it while Alvan and Kakhana worked on loosening some statues that were at the entrace of the building. When the distraction team had led it away they doubled back and the muscle team pushed over the statues and they hid inside the building.

        Inside was a tale opulance with huge vaulted ceilings, murals on every wall of warriors in combat within the floor of a colliseum and plinths, seats and vendor stalls dotting the place. At this point a player began to ask about the state of things, curious as to whether the people of the city had died or if it just seemed like one day they vanished. As I described it, the citizens of the city had left but that is something I am going to revisit in a future story line, so the players have a better grasp of what they had witnessed.

        The players had decided that they were going to go up, and when they got to the door that led upstairs into the colliseum properly they had a flash back to their previous incarnations as they were invited to act as judges over gladitorial combats within the arena, and they had seen a Solar, clad in full orichalcum armour with an orichalcum sword fighting against hordes of demons single handedly. At the end of the flashback they arrived at his chambers to see him standing over the corpses of Dragon Blooded and all they heard from him was "Young Ones..." before they were themselves again. (This is another thing I want to have reoccuring in my game, where the ancient history of the location meets the current times and they see what was and now what is. A part of my "sales pitch" the players seemed to enjoy).

        After traversing literally thouasnds of stairs they found the entrance into the arena itself and sitting upon the hand of a statue was Lokshal, with his dream stuff spear lugged over his shoulder. They had a brief interaction with him, where Kakhana insulted him and Phoolon got the real reason as to why Lokshal is doing what he is doing. His answer was a simple one; to devour the souls of the young Solars, and in their coming battle someones saga was about to end, be it his or theirs. He threw them a bluff about being literally ancient, as old as when the Fair Folk Invasion happened but this was a straight up lie that the players decided to believe as there was no rolls made. Lokshal issued his formal challenge and then their was a roll for intiatives.

        Alvan was the first to go, lunging into combat to test the waters and Lokshal easily defended himself, in return Lokshal won a little intiative and maneuvered him away from the Circle. Phoolon being a little worse in combat than his circle decided to aim, to make sure he could land his shot, while Lee assumed the White Reaper stance and Kakhana started to channel sorcerous motes. In the next round, Lokshal used a charm that was effectively Sandstorm-Wind Attack, launching the shimmering blade towards Kakhana whose response was to make a clash using Thunderclap Rush Attack, but the clash was in Lokshals favour and the attack dealt a vicious wound. Phoolon took his shot and Lokshal flicked up a chunk of stone to knock the barrel, but as Phoolon botched the stone plunged into the barrel causing it to jam.

        This is all that was able to be done during the session as I was seemingly having a ditzy day and forgot to take my house key, and had to cut the session short before my partner went to bed and I would have been locked out. This means at the start of the next session, Alvan gets to retaliate before the White Reaper Lee and then see how the combat ultimately plays out against their cat and mouse game player.

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        • #5
          Before my game this weekend, and the eventual update of the Actual Play part of my game, I thought I would touch on the campaign journal a touch by putting in some things I suppose about future events I want to happen in my game.

          The first is "what was" and by that I'm going to be using things from their past lives, mainly some people and places. One of them being the flashback of the warrior clad in orichalcum in the arena, who is going to show up in their memories occasionally as a mentor figure; some one who taught their previous incarnations how to fight and defend themselves, as that is something I thought in an institution of 300 demi-gods would actually happen. Then there is the rest of the mentor figures circle from the First Age but I'll start with the mentor himself.

          The Lion of The Dunes, Lion'el Joheen; that is the name of the warrior and mentor figure. He was old enough to be powerful, but not old enough to have lost his mind, and was one of the few Solars who wasn't killed at the beginning of the Usurption. I think with this character who is mainly going to be seen in the flash backs is going to be my way of showing the righteous glory of the First Age and how with the Solars in rulership they managed to make Creation a better place.
          I'm going to portray him as a kindly but harsh tutor with something I saw in an episode of Arrow; in one flash back which will lead into my next story arc, all the players previous incarnations will be tasked with one thing to do. Ring a gong. *SPOILERS (I know the episode is in the recent season but some may not have seen it)* the whole point of the test is to get Oliver Queens new team to work together as a team, and so it works well for my mentor figure being harsh, as he is going to beat the daylights out of them to stop them ringing this gong.
          A lot of these flash backs are probably going to show things like this, little training montage parts so to speak and ways that Lion'el would have unified the circle in thought and action. I was thinking at some point they may actually meet the ghost of the dead Solar, locked away in his tomb with his memories fading, but I'm unsure if I want to do that just yet and show a sullied version of him. I'll probably see how events pan out.

          One of the other circle mates was going to be the Twilight. Daqsu was a genius who worked in very bizarre ways. Was thinking about him having an uncanny connection, and a way of him doing his sorcery and magic spells, through golem and automaton creations and having a strange ability to use Air essence as actual electrical currents. As far as I'm aware there is none of that kind of thing in Creation so it feels unique to me and my game.
          The main difference between Daqsu and Lion'el is that Daqsu is actually still alive after having faked his death in his own "tomb" that the Dragon-bloods just made that way. All of his creations are still in their; automatons for combat, a spirit that will seem more like an AI like in the Autochthon (cant remember if thats spelt right at all) setting. Unfortunately, and most likely so for the players, he is quite mad. He was a lot older and was a major player in locking away a creature I'm going to use in future that was driven beneath the earth by "swords" made of stone and obsidian in the Valley of Swords.
          Now my main plan is for the players to remember him how he was, as they were going to see that he had actually been "killed" and so none will really be expectant that the man they will eventually meet could be someone that they used to know in a different life. I'm thinking he is going to try and trick the players into unleashing this creature that will be some titanic super worm that can eat cities so that Daqsu can use it in his revenge fantasy against the Dragon-Blooded, regardless of whether the institutes have changed they were supposed to serve.

          "What Is" is currently going to be serving as a difficult step. They have already had images from the First Age on how splendorous the city that they are in for the prelude story was but for that I'm going to need to show them some stark differences in the only way I currently can think of. Ruins. Any large open space in the south of Creation, in my opinion, could hold a city, large town or similiar kind of premise; some place where people lived or gathered. Showing how these places used to look compared to how they do know is probably going to be my best touchstone.
          An example is going to be another future plot idea involving an Exigent of a vile desert god, who cursed his father to sire a son exclusively to curse, is searching for a mask to help him kill his "benefactor". The mask in a huge First Age city that was buried thousands of years ago, but the Exigent is able and willing to uncover it if the players help him rather than kill him (which touches on another plot that I'm going to be using once my prelude story has come to a conclusion).
          The players previous lives having been trained in the deep south would inevitably know this place and hopefully I can use that to show just how devastating time, the lack of strong rulership and the desires of greedy people can ruin a splendorous city.

          I know this has been a bit of a tangent, but Im thinking of dropping more things like this on here just so I can gather my thoughts I guess. Thanks for reading the first of many tangents from between the game play phases I shall keep you posted with any progress that is gathered in any shape or form.

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          • #6
            I know its a little bit late, its been nearly a week since my last game session and the finale to my prelude story so here it is.

            Session 4:
            Continuing the fight Alvan launched into his attacking, letting out a pretty solid shot and sending Lokshal into initative crash and the whole thing spiralled out from there. Lee did a decisive attack with his meager 4 initative and managed to total the amount of damage on his turn, then the landslide happened. Alvan and Phoolon both did a decisive and dropped Lokshal from his 6 health levels right the way to 11, so I moved on to my "next phase."

            What was initially planned was a three stage fight but with how much Lokshal had suffered I decided two was probably enough. The Khimira that had chased them to the colliseum was lured in by Lokshal and for his folly the beast attacked him, launching him to other side of the arena and killing him. The Circle had a bit of a hard time from here trying to do anything because of how low there initiatives were so there was a flurry of withering attacks to try and get some back, but because of the Legendary Size the Khimira barely lost any of its own initiative. The fight never really lasted long because of my realisation of how strong the thing was. A thing I wanted to try and emphasise was how strong it was and every attack it launched weakened the arena platform they were on.

            By the end of the fight it had taken 8 of its 18 health levels and had knocked Lee out cold with a savaging horn toss. Kakhana rushed into save after he successfully managed to cast his Invulnerable Skin of Bronze (after six turns; the group wondered why he was still casting it for so long even though they needed his ability to punch things into Malfeas and back). Phoolon had traversed some white jade chains that held the platform in place, while Alvan had tried to make a distraction and tried a gambit to see about slicing the points from its horns which unfortunately didn't work.

            The final outcome was Phoolon luring the beast to the chains, where it had launched an attack and smashed the statue the chain was attached too. The next part about their survival of the ruins collapsing around them I left ambiguous, instead deciding to move onto the Sidereal Errant Star and his familiar Gryfal who had been waiting to see if they would make it out, as some of the events were a destined event. I introduced a "big bad" of sorts in the form of a Bronze Faction member who was so fanatical he would try to kill Star, but I also left that rather ambiguous as to what has actually happened.

            That "session" ended, and rewards were handed. By this point in time it had taken two and a half hours to finish and I wanted the players to have a diceless bit of game session and so moved into my next set of plot line. I will go into that a bit later on tonight or tomorrow if I get the time. I know this round out was a bit detail-less and I apologise to anyone reading it but alas that is what happens when I get sucked back into Heroes of the Storm...

            Stupid game...

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