Players: Aron, Janae, Josh, Karina, Kyle H, Nate
This week’s East session focused on intrigue, politics, and divinities as the Circle focused on conversations with the various factions of power in Abinue. Janae brought in a new character, the Zenith caste Nadia of Aeovast Abbey, and Shou suffers various nosebleeds as he absorbs the information-dense spirit/artifact “The Lexicon” directly into his mind.
For the sake of those who haven’t been introduced to them, here’s a look at the composition of the East Circle:
Arashi “Still Sky” Tenchi: an Eclipse caste Solar. Still Sky is the owner of the Whispering Sakura, a tea house on The Avenue of Blue Herons, and a grizzled veteran who abandoned his career as a cavalryman in the army of neighboring Rhonioto after a dark incident in his past. World weary, protective and thoroughly rooted in the community, Still Sky seeks to right wrongs by wresting power away from corrupt authorities by turning the hearts of their own people against them though his impassioned speeches and righteous pen. Played by Aron.
Nadia of Aeovast: a Zenith caste Solar. A precocious, young warrior priestess of nineteen years of age, Nadia went from an obscure acolyte to a national hero after becoming exalted by the Unconquered Sun during a beastman invasion in her native Oscalon. Representing her young nation in a diplomatic mission to Abinue, her goals are nothing less than the obliteration of the Immaculate Philosophy and spreading the worship of the Unconquered Sun. She’ll do this through sweet words or the blade of her grand grimcleaver, making those who disregard the former regret their decision when they fall victim to the latter. Played by Janae.
Imak Bluetide: a Full Moon caste Lunar. Young, spirited, and athletic, Imak hails from the West. He finds himself in the Scavenger Lands as a foe of the Guild and all slavers, dealing barbarian justice to those who would trade in flesh. His outspoken demeanor and uncivilized ways are a shock of cold water to the socialites of Abinue, with Imak resisting any attempts by his Circle to learn tact. Whether striking out with multiple limbs in combat or grilling nobles about their thoughts on slavery in an otherwise relaxing party, Imak is always on the offensive. Played by Josh.
Xia Wren Ta (“Silver Lotus”): a Changing Moon caste Lunar. Trained for the art of assassination in the Realm, Silver Lotus fled her old life to become the matron, top-end prostitute and secret bodyguard of the Whispering Sakura. Hiding her lethality behind her natural beauty, her loyalty to Still Sky was strengthened by her exaltation as the Lunar mate to the Solar he became. Capable of sweet smiles and quiet restraint, in battle she becomes a leanly muscled fox-woman wielding a massive moonsilver grimscythe, capable of hewing down the most heavily-armored foes. Played by Karina.
Tunsu Kaido: a Twilight caste Solar. Quiet and restrained, Tunsu lets the outspoken members of his Circle lead the way, whether through a delicate negotiation or a disastrously destructive battle, and supports with a serene smile (if sometimes a rueful one). A master of the esoteric Crane Style, Tunsu expertly defends his peers from deadly attacks, weaving a nearly impenetrable barrier of parries and deflections with his seemingly-delicate fans. When battle has ended, Tunsu’s life-saving mastery of healing Charms patches them up before their next fight. If it weren’t for the quiet wanderer’s aid, many of the Circle would have moved on to their next incarnation by now. Played by Kyle H.
Shou of the Boiling Pond: a Night caste Solar. Shou’s sole ambition was to take his grandfather’s renowned noodle-house, The Boiling Pond and to continue its legacy as the premiere destination in Abinue for delicious, filling food. Destiny had its own agenda, however, and since his exaltation Shou has found himself in countless escapades and battles wielding an orichalcum powerbow and seeking out foes with Charm-enhanced eyesight. Although combat becomes more and more routine for him, with his fingers now wielding a bow’s drawstring as easily as they once wielded a spoon, his heart and mouth continue to bumble and fumble as he gets peeks of just how torrid and horrid the world outside his restaurant can be. Played by Nate.
The session opened with Aria Rising in Sober Triumph, the exotically lovely Midnight caste Abyssal that has been traveling with the Circle, indicating to Still Sky that yet more tidings of disruption and danger have been coming from the nearby shadowlands. Unable to ignore them any longer, she heads out for Brightwall, the necropolis that stands in Abinue’s shadow in the Underworld. There she will seek out the source of these dark rumors and send word if she can.
In the late morning, the Circle is approached at the Whispering Sakura by Lord Primthorn, a member of the Royalist faction, ally to the Circle, and supplier of much of the Whispering Sakura’s tea supply. He leads them to their appointment with Lord Steelcut the self-made noble, wealthy owner of Abinue’s leading arms-manufacturing company, and the leader of the city’s Honest Brothers.
Meeting him at his manor atop the Hill of Forges, the party carefully hid their Exalted nature as they plied the powerfully-built businessman to learn more about the white-armband wearing Honest Brothers and their goals. Although his support of strong community ties and stated intent to remove the Realm presence from within and around the city are in line with their own plans, they seem less-pleased by his plans to then request that Prince Slender Willow abdicate in favor of a democratically elected city council. After some verbal jousting and digging into his intent they quickly withdrew to remove an increasingly more verbal Imak from invoking Steelcut’s ire.
The Circle then paid its respects to Valdeen, the childlike city mother and patron goddess of Abinue. While making plans to rendezvous with the goddess at her temple that evening to meet in secret with Prince Slender Willow, they are introduced to Nadia of Aeovast, a Zenith caste Solar who is an influential priestess from Oscalon. The city-state’s representative to pay their respects to Slender Willow prior to his coronation, she bears a dangerous relic from the First Age that needs to be secured from Creation’s enemies in a location none other than the Solars can enter… such as the fiery manse beneath the Hill of Forges.
At the manse, the Circle discovered a secure armory they had not found earlier. There they found a vast, aircraft hanger-sized chamber. It contained a heavily-warded vault as well as two royal orichalcum warstriders. In the vault they placed the dangerous relic, which was revealed to be a plate-sized disc of blue glass that had a strange, burning liquid fire trapped inside. They discovered several items in the vault, including a rune-covered orichalcum reaper daiklave that appeared to belong to Still Sky, a small, notebook-sized slap of crystal that seemed to go to Shou, and an ornate orichalcum and moonsilver necklace that seemed to belong to Nadia.
Things went awry when the crystal suddenly was absorbed into Shou’s skin. Tunsu was able to determine that it seemed to carry a spirit that embedded itself in part of Shou’s mind. During the integration process Shou suffered from all sorts of ailments, including blindness, a loss of language, the appearance of Old Realm runes over various people and objects he looked at, and several nose- and ear-bleeds. Imak tried to shake him out of it, triggering a defense system that locked the armory down and caused it to fire an essence cannon at the Lunar.
After some alarming moments where Shou seemed to be able to see from and interact with one of the warstriders, the Night caste was able to shake off the symptoms as the image of a Dragon King appeared in his vision, indicating that it was the Lexicon, a collection of information that could be shared to Shou on any topic from his own extensive notes in an earlier era.
The Circle was finally able to disable the security as Shou started seemingly talking with himself for a bit, and after a good deal of explanation the group left for its appointed date with Valdeen and Prince Willow.
En route they stopped at the city wall to seek out the old god of the First Age city that Abinue was built upon the ruins of. Instead of finding a babbling, apparently insane old man, they found a dusty, somewhat elderly individual with an old fashioned uniform with the insignia of the Blue Skull company and the ability to speak. Revealing his name to be Altenion, he initially brushed off their various entreaties for him to work with them, bemoaning his loss of any purpose after the fall of the once-great city he protected. However, Nadia was able to break through his malaise, and he agreed grudgingly to join them in their meeting.
God in tow, they arrived at Valdeen’s temple. They were shocked to discover that Prince Slender Willow had brought the Dragon-blooded woman Peleps Telessa with him, whom they believed to be complicit with the Realm “occupiers” and the Wyld Hunt. A complex political conversation that ran on many hidden levels ensued, with accusations, entreaties, disguised statements and bold claims all interchanged. By the conversation’s conclusion, Altenion had agreed to work with and protect Valdeen, Slender Willow had made it clear that he couldn’t directly oppose the Realm but that he wished to keep his city-state independent (offering up the Royal Manse’s hearthstone to Shou), and Peleps Telessa showed herself to be less concerned with Immaculate doctrine and more concerned with her own position in the Realm’s current game of houses.
The Circle learns that neither the Hunt (under the command of the monk Pool) nor the legion outside the city’s walls have her interests or the interests of House Peleps in mind, providing an unwanted escort that serve other, nebulous goals. She also clandestinely warns of the existence of a scouting party that has left to the north in a search for unclaimed manses and artifacts in the region.
Slender Willow is clear in intent, if cloaked in words: he needs a bride, which Telessa might someday be as he has currently no other choice. He still intends to create a strong, independent Abinue, but the city has no other military force than the Royal Guard and the mercenary contract with the Blue Skulls. Due to its position on the Yangtze, Abinue needs a navy to guard its interests, and gives the Circle a Letter of Marque to empower them to create one at the expense of local river pirates.
At the meeting’s conclusion the Circle gathers again at the Wandering Sakura where they lay out their next steps. The Realm scouting party poses a great risk, and must be stopped. But Still Sky has a plan: Perhaps they can be converted, not killed. Tea is poured, the Circle each offers up his or her own suggestion, and plots are made…
This was my favorite session of the East Circle to date, with smooth integration and a good deal of involvement on each player’s part in the night’s events. I noticed in particular how hard each player acted to get others involved, finding ways for one another to participate in the creation and execution of plans in ways that complemented one another.
Synergy: Although Exalts are often pillars of perfection, with each person finding their shtick and becoming very good at it, you’re always all far better when you actively cooperate. This is most strikingly clear in combat, when multiple PCs focus on one dangerous foe to better contain and defeat him. In social scenes, even ones that aren’t social combat, it’s even more useful. Tonight proved that in spades, as you guys collectively hounded or guided the conversation to your ends in various scenes to great effect. Go team!
For the most part, this session focused on roleplaying over dice-rolling, so I have no real feedback on mechanics to offer. But in regard to role playing, I have a very small handful of notes that are mild nudges and suggestions.
Nate and Kyle: By and large you two are consistently the quietest members of the party in most social scenes. On social-heavy nights this makes me worried that I might be accidentally excluding you from participation. In cases where you feel your character genuinely wouldn’t be involved conversation-wise, I’d prefer some level of roleplay engagement to at least ensure me that you’re involved roleplay-wise. For example, Shou’s cake-eating was a pretty good method of staying involved (and pretty funny to boot). More of that (without interfering with actual speaking peeps of course) is great.
Josh: I really appreciate how you showcase Imak’s agenda (anti-slavery for example) and his barbarian-like forwardness (mouthing off around the prince, etc) but are completely content (at least, it appears) with others then scrambling to hush him without any sort of actual drama. That’s a great way to contribute to social scenes without making a scene, and it certainly adds some delicious spice.
Janae: I’ve told you already, but I like Nadia a lot. She’s a great fit for the party, and adorable in her own right. It’s great to see how she’s focused on the divine aspect of social scenes, with gods, religion and such clearly in her focus. It provides a great boost to the Circle.
I really, really appreciate how everybody is coming together for social scenes more, finding ways to each break in with your own ways to contribute, and cooperating more coherently. Thanks, guys!