Friday, 17 April 2020

"A Man of Strong Seed" - Ryuutama AAR, Part III

[The recap for last session can be found here.]

The Characters

  • Jojotekina Gyoza ("Jojo"), a technical minstrel armed with a flute 
  • Kestrel, an attack-type hunter who bears a mysterious scroll that he believes he must deliver to somebody, whose identity he does not know 
  • Ogesana Fall, a magic-type noble, and his trusty but ignoble donkey, Bartholemew 
  • Virid, the GMPC (Ryuutama has these, but they don't do too much and don't really appear initially), a mysterious green-bearded old man

What Happened

We had paused last time on a cliffhanger, with Kestrel about to digest a toadstool given him by a myconid, based on the theory that it would give him transcendental knowledge and allow him to decipher the text on some pieces of slate found in a collapsed chamber in the dungeon. It did indeed do this. He discovered that the slates were a 'saga' written by a dwarf called Cuthbert of Blackhaggs Rigg, who had come with an expedition to this hill in order to explore ancient tunnels and perhaps found a colony. The members of the expedition had entirely converted to the worship of something called the Moray God, and had gone to an underground lake and drowned themselves. Only Cuthbert remained, and the 'saga' was his re-telling of the tragic tale.

However, the toadstool also caused Kestrel to hallucinate that he was being attacked by a plague of locusts. His condition was made worse by the efforts of his comrades to revive him, which included blinding him with magic, and playing music into his ears, which only served to make his hallucinations worse. Eventually, he was reduced to a weeping wreck of a man, dreaming that he had entered into an infinite hell consisting only of locusts, all of them repetitively singing childhood songs, and having to be led about by his comrades by the hand.

All of this noise had also roused the attention of other dungeoneers. These appeared not long after all of this. Their leader, Portos, was a heavily bearded and moustachioed figure armed with a guisarme and with expensive-looking armour and clothing; he immediately took a shine to Ogesana Fall, who he recognised as a fellow man of good breeding, excellent pedigree and 'strong seed'. Accompanying him were his manservant and maidservant: Kyrie, a lanky bald fellow with a short sword, and Maria, a youngish hedge-witch. 

Portos and Ogesana established that both of them were in search of tadpoles - although Portas insisted on referring to them as 'polliwoggles' - having both been employed by mysterious 'powers' to do this. They drew up an agreement that they would join forces, but that at the end of their expedition they would duel to first blood to determine who would get the polliwoggle. They also rested for a time in a chamber which Portos and his comrades had discovered, which seemed safe. This was long enough for Kestrel to return to normality, at least, although his thinking remained muddled from the effects of the hallucinogen.

Portos's expedition had discovered a side chamber which appeared to be architecturally unstable, but which appeared to contain a figurine or statuette of some kind in an alcove. They had also discovered a way down deeper into the caves, and had heard sounds of water coming from that direction. Ogesana decided to investigate the side chamber first. Indeed, the ceiling of this chamber was sagging dangerously, and indeed, there was an alcove in its far wall containing a statuette of some kind. Ogesana went to retrieve it, creeping gingerly forward, but his efforts at stealth were to no avail - the ceiling caved in and gave him a nasty head wound. But he did managed to get the figurine, with some help from Jojo. 

The figurine proved to be brass one, depicting a moray eel rearing vertically upwards. At its base were words written in the same script as on the slates: Kestrel was able to read it as saying simply, 'Beneath, Infinity'. Maria attempted to tend Ogesana's wound, the pair having struck up a flirtatious bond of a kind, but eventually the group decided not to waste any healing herbs (of which they had one bunch) on him, and to press on downwards into the caves to find the source of water.

This involved a small amount of back-tracking and then a downward plunge into the black underworld. Eventually the explorers emerged into a very large cavern filled with stalagmites. Edging their way around it, they came to a large alcove, taller than a man, in which were the shattered stone fragments of what must have been a statue. Only its plinth remained, again bearing the motif, 'Beneath, Infinity'. Scraping through the rubble, Jojo discovered a beautiful golden dagger hilt, designed to look like a coiled eel with the open mouth at the pommel, and with a circular grip guard depicting waves. 

Immediately, it became evident that there would have to be a duel after the expedition was over between Ogesana and Portos to determine who would get not only the polliwoggle but also any other treasures recovered. Reluctantly, this was agreed, with the details planned to be hashed out later.

They continued exploring and came soon to a vast, dark, underground lake with a pebbled shore and no end in sight - which seemed to be moving with a very gentle wave-like motion. Through clever use of echolocation and Jojo's flute [I have no idea if this is even remotely possible] they established that there was solid rock some distance away in one direction, but that the lake seemed to expand limitlessly in all others. 

As they were doing this, THINGS rose from the depths. The skeletons of dwarves, grabbing hammers, and some hideous tentacled beast that seemed to be made of pure water. Battle commenced! But the fight, ultimately, was rather one-sided. Our brave explorers were victorious. But this did not come without cost: Ogesana was felled, left unconscious and at death's door. The task next time would immediately be how to save him.

*

This was a fun session but Ryuutama does increasingly have the feel of a 'beginner RPG'. The rules really aren't suited to creative play, and the combat system very rapidly becomes insufficient to adjudicate what's going on unless you treat it like a 'you hit me, now I hit you' Final Fantasy-type fight. Still, I'm looking forward to next time and what awaits our brave adventurers beyond the lake.

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