Saturday, 11 April 2020

"We All Like Water" - Ryuutama AAR, Part II

[Last session's recap 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

The PCs spent the night at Samantha's windmill, having agreed that in return for a safe haven they would fulfil whatever she desired of them in the morning. Having eaten well and sung great songs of their former glories, and been well fed by Samantha's starling servants, our brave adventurers settled down for the night. On the morning, they discovered the nature of Samantha's request. The witch had a rivalry with a mysterious neighbour, both of whom were competing to try to capture one of the giant tadpoles which had emerged from below the ground in a prior epoch. [See the background to the setting here.] Samantha suspected she knew the location of one of them, in the roots of a hill about two days' walk away. But for some reason she was unable to scry inside, and she was unwilling to risk danger on a wild goose chase. So she wanted the PCs to investigate, and gave each of them a single pebble to carry. She would be able to see through these pebbles and confirm whatever the PCs discovered. If they found a giant tadpole, she would know, and likewise if they didn't. If they managed to bring the tadpole back physically, so much the better.

The PCs set off. The first day brought more energy-sapping rain, but also an encounter with a friendly, or at least nonaggressive, myconid, a thing resembling a person made from the stalk of a mushroom. The PCs traded some of their rations with it in return for 3 exotically-coloured toadstools, though they were unable to discover the true nature of the things as they could not communicate with the myconid beyond gesture.

The next day was fine and the PCs made good progress travelling through open moor. They eventually came to the hill which Samantha had identified, which, sure enough, had a ravine cleft into the middle of it, with a large cave at the top. The PCs immediately realised they had planned poorly. They had no rations for the return journey, having run out that day, and no torches or other light-sources, or rope. They were able to remedy the problem of lack of light because Kestrel had no difficulty getting a fire going. Perhaps unwisely, they chose to ignore their other difficulties and press on into the cave (leaving Bartholemew to munch on grass outside.)

They immediately regretted not having a rope, because as soon as they were inside the cave they were having to ascent a steep slope of scree. But they luckily managed to get to the top without injury. They were then faced with a T junction - the left arm feeling somewhat colder than the right. Ogesana, reasoning that tadpoles are cold-blooded "so they'll like cold places", suggested left, but he was outvoted and the gang went right. They soon discovered a large open chamber with a number of doors. Listening at them, they heard nothing, but Hunter discovered one was rotten; he kicked it down and was confronted by a large cave cricket, as big as a horse, which immediately set to a shrill keening with its legs and frantically backing away from danger. Hunter and Ogesana tried to placate it, to no avail, while Jojo watched the other doorways. He was able at least to provide a warning when one of them opened to reveal two filthy, goblin-esque things decorated with feathers.

The situation could easily have turned violent. But our PCs in this game are explorers, not dungeoneers. They chose parlay. The creatures showed a willingness to listen, although they thought the quest for a tadpole to be absurd; they decided to summon their leader, the Great One, and his shaman. 

Minutes later a flock of the things arrived, together with their two leaders - the Great One, wearing a wooden sun mask painted black, and the shaman, wearing a similar mask painted red. They interrogated the intruders, but were soon won over by an unlikely gambit - Ogesana's observation, brought up because of their discussion about where tadpoles might be found, that all living things have something in common: a liking for water. Having established that, indeed, everybody present liked water, the ice was broken (pun intended) and the goblin-things told the PCs that these caves did indeed contain an underground lake far in its depths. But they themselves were terrified to go there and knew little of it; the shaman vaguely remembered a tale from his childhood suggesting that the lake led ultimately to that vast source of infinite water from which all seas, rivers, springs and lakes derive.

The PCs said their farewells, having promised to report back to the goblin-things their findings, if they did not die down there in the dark, and set off exploring the caves. They proved to be labyrinthine. Eventually, the PCs stumbled upon a half-collapsed chamber that was full of strange rectangular shaped pots, knee-high. These turned out to be filled with slates, each covered in unknown writing. They showed the slates to Samantha through their pebbles, and were about to move on, but then Hunter struck on the idea of eating one of the toadstools they had got from the myconid, reasoning that ingesting fungus can sometimes give a person insights which they would not ordinarily have. That seemed like a good cliffhanger at which to end.


An hour and a half is too short, really - it felt like we were only just hitting our stride when we had to end. But needs must. I remain to be convinced by Ryuutama. I experimented with the travel rules a little bit so as to try to make the effects a little less random, but in the end those rules barely featured because the players happened to be lucky with a lot of their/my rolling. 

I also deliberately 'soft pedalled' on violence and aggression and the negative consequences of poor decision-making, on the basis that this campaign is supposed to have a more friendly and innocent 'Squaresoft' feel. The player likewise refrained from doing what they would have if it were a different system. If this had been D&D there would have been no way the encounter with the goblin-things would have been peaceful. But it worked nicely.

1 comment:

  1. re Ryuutama I'm interested in the setting material and some of the kooky-looking mechanics, turned off utterly by book price

    unrelated - do you have an email address I can contact re a question about Yoon-Suin and fair use?