Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Knights of the Astral Sea Session Log #12

Last Saturday's session of Knights of the Astral Sea proved to be a test of my improvisational abilities. After an extended down-time, it was up to the player characters to figure out what was going to happen next. I had a campaign's worth of continuity and NPCs to draw from (and vague notions of upcoming plots) but, for the most part, I was reacting in response to the actions of the PCs.

As promised, here is the session write-up (generously provided by James Di Benedetto):


15 April, 1939

Capt. Alastair Hawkesworth
HMAS Richard Lemon Lander

My Dearest Alastair,

I have been grateful both for the peace that has begun to take hold on our new homeworld of Tudor since the restoration of Queen Artoria to her throne, and for the time together that it has afforded us. Despite your absence thanks to frequent combat missions, we have been more fortunate than I could ever have hoped. But now it is I who must embark offworld on a quest.

As you know, my rule of la Cour d’Automne has been overthrown by the former minister of intelligence, Lord Siam. I had left Lord Tybalt to maintain the realm in my stead, and unfortunately, he has made himself unavailable, I presume so that he would not have to discuss the events leading to that unfortunate event. When we next meet, I shall have hard questions for him. But regardless of the causes, the cure is plain; Lord Siam must be removed from power, and introduced to Madame la Guillotine, and myself restored as la Reine d’Automne.

In this quest I shall be accompanied by the same companions who restored Artoria to her throne. They have all been occupying themselves most usefully these past four months.

Elspeth, as befitting her career in the intelligence services, has been advising Artoria on those matters, and grooming a new minister to serve as the head of intelligence for the future. She has also been given a formal “license to kill” by the Queen, not that she (or, indeed, any of us) has needed such in the course of our adventures.

Colonel Rasmussen has taken it upon himself to work with the surviving remnants of the Royal Society, to train them in the effective use of magic in battle. Also he has been studying with our other sorcerer, Jude, to learn the very different magical techniques which Jude employs. Besides that, he has been searching for clues to the whereabouts of his proper body, which was magically switched with that of a young girl back on his own homeworld. He believes that if we return to the world where we met him, Greenstone, there may be clues to lead him back to his homeworld, and his body. Thus, once my rule has been restored, our party shall proceed through Faerie to Greenstone and thence to the Colonel’s homeworld.

Jude, as noted above, has been instructing the Colonel in his particular style of ritual-based magic. And in turn, I have been instructing Jude, in the fine art of diplomacy and court politics. As the acting leader of the Royal Society, he has clear need of such instruction; I have felt much like Professor Higgins trying to educate Eliza Doolittle, and I can only hope that I have even half as much success. Jude was presented with an immediate challenge, as he had to address the acts of his father, also a sorcerer, during the rule of the Usurper; his father had sided with the wrong side, and it fell to Jude to determine whether his father was acting out of ignorance, self-preservation, or treasonous motives.

Marcus continued his duties as the chief bodyguard of the Queen, and trained others in those duties, while our newest compatriot, Mr. Picton, bravely served as a spy in la Cour d’Automne, bringing back much useful intelligence. I have promoted him to General, and provided a suitable uniform; once my rule is restored, he shall lead the Armee de l’Air.

Having arranged our affairs and having made our farewells, we obtained passage on an airship towards Glastonbury, where we would proceed into Faerie. On our approach to Glastonbury, however, darkness began literally to descend. On the bridge of the airship, a storm was observed, and Marcus’ sword, which glows in the presence of danger, began indeed to glow.

We headed for the ground, alarmed by garbled screams over the radio from the garrison set up to guard the portal to Faerie. General Picton leapt from the bridge and flew down to a watchtower, whereupon he immediately entered into combat with a musket-wielding guard who, we later discovered, was possessed by a demon. The fight was a difficult one, as the demon lent the guard tremendous strength. As we descended further, I was able to render assistance to my General; I could not use my weapon directly, but I fired into the supports of the watchtower itself, causing it to collapse. General Picton was able to fly away, while his adversary fell to the ground with the collapsing tower.

Meanwhile, Marcus went down to investigate the warehouse on the ground along with a contingent of marines. As they attempted to enter the warehouse, something magical happened (I shall explain below; we did not know until later what had happened), and several marines remained outside the warehouse, and a change came over them – they became possessed, while Marcus and the other marines entered the warehouse in full possession of their faculties.

Marcus re-emerged and single-handedly knocked out all his possessed fellows, while Elspeth shot another possessed individual from above.

While all this was going on, our two mages had left their bodies and began travelling in the Astral Plane. They discovered that there were many, many demon spirits, all headed for the warehouse, clearly attracted by something. Colonel Rasmussem fought several of them, while Jude cast a spell to create a magical ward around the warehouse. This kept the demons outside from getting in, and prevented the demons inside from escaping. That was also the reason that some of the marines with Marcus were unable to enter the warehouse.

Meanwhile, in the warehouse itself, General Picton had entered and knocked out two more possessed guards. At this point, Colonel Rasmussen, in his Astral form, entered, saw a sorcerer holding a glowing green orb and conducting some sort of ritual, which all the demons were focused on. The Colonel attacked and killed the sorcerer, who, it transpired, was an ally of the vile Mr. Kelly. General Picton grabbed the green orb and, thinking it the best course of action, brought it to me aboard the airship.

I acted immediately; I shouted to Picton to throw the orb aside, and I aimed my weapon and fired. A bright beam of energy shattered and destroyed the orb, and a piercing, terrible scream was heard. And then the storm lifted, and the demons dissipated, no longer having anything to attract them. Again we see that the force of Science overcomes the vagaries of magic!

So now we are at Glastonbury, ready to step onto the path to Faerie. When next I write you, mon cher, I shall, I hope, be restored as the rightful ruler of la Cour d’Automne. Pray for my safety and success, as I do for yours.

Until then, I remain your most devoted and grateful friend,

Genevieve Chantal Therese de Lisieux Lamballe


Trey said...

So are you using both (or all,I guess) of the GURPS magic system--both the standard and ritual? Any other particular permutations?

Risus Monkey said...

The default magic system for the campaign is Ritual Magic (Voodoo->Spirits->Thaumatology) and Jude is a ritual magician. Since it is a dimension-hopping game, almost any system of magic is available and Col. Rasmussen decided to go with the standard rules.

As for other permutations, I'm particularly fond of Elemental Magic: http://www.io.com/~sjohn/element.htm and the system in Gurps Castle Falkenstein.