|Session 18: Rightfully Restoring Royalty|
|Real World Date||November 29th, 2014|
|Game Date||May 15 - 16, Year 0|
|NPCs||Princess Syrila, Stone, and Swifthoof Direbeam|
Session 17a: The Complainers Compromise
Session 19: Bureaucratic Bull$h!t
The Party escorts Princess Syrila to Eyehedge before journeying back to Kamtala.
First thing in the morning, Emilie takes a bath in a nearby river and thoroughly rinses everything she owns to remove the smell of her dip in George's lake. Then The Party sets off toward the nearest town: Eyehedge. Princess Syrila asks them to recount once more the events that transpired on the island in Tendaji's gulf in Session 15. She is still upset that they didn't bring Lily's corpse back. Emilie almost reveals that the Tome of Time revealed a memory of bubbling magic harming the dragon, but awkwardly stops herself just in time. However, she does let the bubbling part slip, and this confirms the princess's hypothesis that a people called the Illithids were involved.
"'Cahoots, Emilie," Namfoodle nudges. "It's 'cahoots.'"
Syrila says that the Illithid menace is overblown by paranoia, which is why the reaction that The Party faced was so dramatic. They asks how they can help get her back on her throne, but she doesn't know. The party is made up of humanoids, which are slave races in Tendaji, so they won't be taken seriously by themselves. The Party really wants to put Syrila back in power, because then she will be indebted to them and may serve as eyes and ears in Tendaji for their cause. (I mean... because they are altruistic saints. Of course.) They will develop a plan once they reach Eyehedge.
As they approach the town, guards stationed on the wall train their arrows on the party. Syrila hastily rides ahead and starts angrily speaking in Sylvan. She is able to convince them to allow the party passage. She relays to The Party that the guards have agreed to send messages to the cities of Tendaji warning of Illithid, or "worm" movement in their continent. They have also been alerted that Kamtala is not willing to be diplomatic about this matter at the moment. Syrila grants the party free passage on another ship out of Kamtala on one condition: they must deliver a letter to Stone's second in command: her uncle Swifthoof Direbeam. The letter will explain the party's side of the story, and hopefully cause Swifthoof to subvert Stone. This will hopefully turn some of the guard into Syrila's allies, which in turn will lessen the number of centaur lives she has to end when she returns to Kamtala. The deal is ensured by the simple fact that if the party does not deliver the letter, there is no way that they will be able to sail unhindered out of Kamtala with nothing but Syrila's decree that it be so. The party accepts the task, and the princess excuses herself into a building that appears to have governmental significance.
"She finishes conversations very quickly," Isaac comments.
"Centaur culture must not be a very social one," Emilie agrees.
Nearby, a couple of centaurs chat at amiably at length. Emilie is racist.
The plan is to take a roguish approach to the mission. The Party will disguise themselves as slaves being sold by Isaac, who will also be in disguise. He will claim to be completing a deal with Swifthoof, and hopefully he will thus gain information on the centaur's whereabouts. Then Namfoodle will cast invisibility and flight on himself in order to find Swifthoof Direbeam inside the city gates.
Nam first enters the market to purchase a spellbook and a mirror for scrying purposes. Isaac accompanies him so that no one is alone, while the other three adventurers seek Princess Syrila's council regarding their plan.
Posing as slaves shopping for their master, Nam and Isaac try to find useful items among the vendors. After extensive bartering with a French-esque merchant, Nam finally gets a good price for a mirror that will work for him. He is not able to find a spellbook that meets his needs though. Isaac is in search for raw mithril, with which he can craft armor for himself, but he offends the jeweler by asking for raw stuff instead of appreciating his artisanship. They leave to rejoin the others in the building Syrila disappeared into.
Syrila does not have great advice to share with the party, but she agrees that the slave merchant disguise is a good enough idea. Thusly prepared, the crew prepares to travel back to Kamtala by foot.
"So long, Princess," Isaac waves. "We wish you luck."
"You too," she responds.
"...Good work," Isaac adds awkwardly. Syrila, who is not Formian, is puzzled.
(Note: I never actually stated on this wiki that "Good work" is a common salutation among the Formian people. Forgive my impudence.)
On the Road
After hiking for the remainder of the day, The Party makes camp and settles in for the night. Isaac and Emilie think that now is a good time to discuss interpersonal tensions that are interfering with the party's effectiveness.
Isaac starts the chat. "So, Namfoodle. What I couldn't help but notice is... rather than bringing up your concerns to the party, you chose to run off. I don't think that was the best approach. Do you think you could--"
Here, Emilie interrupts the artificer, scolding him for opening the conversation by placing blame on the guy who's already hurting.
Nam confirms that Isaac is already coming off as a little condescending. Isaac is beside himself. "No, I was characterizing the magnitude of the problem by saying, 'wow, it's such a big problem that he'd rather run off than talk it out.' That's why it's important that we address it now! Clearly, it's a very big problem!"
Emilie relents and agrees with that mindset, but maintains that Isaac could have chosen a less accusatory tone to get the point across. Namfoodle has decided that Emilie gets to moderate.
"Women," Kal contributes.
Namfoodle dismisses the conversation, saying that clearly he should just bury his problems so that they never inconvenience the party.
"No, but that is exactly why we need to talk," Isaac counters. "I think you have misconceptions about how we all feel about you."
"Yes, because I'm always wrong right?" Namfoodle smiles ironically. "I feel much better, thank you."
Emilie shames Isaac for putting the brunt of the responsibility for improvement on Namfoodle, since Namfoodle is the one who is suffering the most here and it just seems unfair to ask more of the wounded. But DM-Kal (Kal's player was absent) asks Emilie to consider a fountain; that is, a mechanism that is both the source and the recipient of water, just as Kal believes Nam to be both the primary source and recipient of The Party's misery. Gettin' deep, DM-Kal!
From here ensues a long-winded debate about whether or not it is in Namfoodle's "job description" as a member of the party to be likable. Emilie leads the assenting argument, insisting that likability is a prerequisite for trust and a feeling of safety within a group. Not only are these important elements for a venturing party to have, but they are the ones that Namfoodle is complaining that he lacks!
Namfoodle rejects this, saying that all he needs to offer to be useful to the party is knowledge. He asserts that so long as he doesn't make errors, he is not required to do anything more in order to pull his weight, and the others should get off his back! "There's never been a lot of likability in me. I've never cultivated it, and it's too late to start now."
Isaac tries to steer the discussion back on track. This isn't about what the others are asking of Namfoodle. It's about giving Namfoodle reason not to ditch the group! And if the party can't supply him with a good enough reason, then Namfoodle can leave! So long as he doesn't endanger himself and the others when he does so.
Nam, true to his form, takes this to mean Isaac wants to absolve himself and the others of all responsibility for whether or not Namfoodle feels respected.
If I may offer objective analysis, it seems everyone is talking out of both sides of their mouths! Namfoodle wants to be accepted for who he is, but doesn't wish to make himself an acceptable person. The others want Namfoodle to stay, but only if he changes. So do they really want Namfoodle? If social disgrace is as integral a part of who Namfoodle is as he claims it is, removing that element will cause him to cease being Namfoodle. But that is the part of him that the others find objectionable. So if Nam is just doomed to be a dick, and the party can't accept that, they all either have to agree that hating each other will be part of their relationship, or else Namfoodle has to leave the party.
On the other hand, if the jerkness is not a major part of Namfoodle, and his stubborn refusal to change is simply a symptom of the jerkness, then it's an all-around win if he gets rid of that part of himself. It'll increase his self love and the party's approval of him, and the latter will in turn improve his sense of belonging among the others.
So in short, Isaac was right! It really is all up to Nam! And he has three choices:
- He can work hard to become a socially respectable person
- He can choose to continue being tortured by Kal and the others
- He can leave
Is there a clear-cut winner among those options? Nope. Not even a clear-cut loser. Namfoodle is faced with a really hard choice that isn't fair but has to be made. Poor guy. We'll see which path he takes!
In the end, Namfoodle agrees to try harder to be conscious of The Party's feelings. He also confesses that he's the one who set the accordion on fire (Session 10). By all accounts, he should die in this moment, but Kal is already asleep, so Nam will see another sunrise. Vic forgives Nam, commenting that "everyone experiences jealousy."
Nam retires for the night as well, leaving Emilie and Isaac with the reserved cleric. The two more vocal members bicker over how the discussion could have gone.
Emilie demands Isaac tell her why Lizzy (Session 10) thought Isaac had sent him on a ten-year wild goose chase trying to escape a crime organization. Isaac says that he really did think that Lizzy was being pursued by the people to whom he owed money. However, they were only there by coincidence. This misunderstanding only incited Lizzy to be even more distrusting of Isaac. Emilie points out that the only evidence of Isaac's innocence is Isaac's own word. But she tells Isaac that she believes him, because of who he is. She just can't see him committing the acts that his old party members say he has perpetrated.
Satiated, the pair turns to Vic and starts asking about the quiet man's past. Vic tells them that he is on a quest to find the remainder of his family, after many of them had been slaughtered. Emilie and Isaac had no idea he had so dark a past, and they are a bit shaken by this sudden reveal. They didn't know he had already suffered so much before they met him. Vic does not say that his family was actually wolves, and this makes the story of their death by hunters twice as gruesome.
"But I know that when I find them, I'll be able to recognize them," Vic asserts wistfully.
Isaac considers this statement. "...Because you'll... you'll just see them, right? And they'll be... your family."
Vic nods, and in turn goes to sleep. Isaac stays sitting up for a second longer to chat with Emilie privately. She opens up to him about her long-standing struggle with self-acceptance, and about the details of her death. Isaac is receptive and sympathetic, as usual. More than that, he promises Emilie that once she comes back to life and the party is able to stop the Time Magic threat, they will embark on a feminism tour across Enderland to show her country in no uncertain terms that women -- and more specifically, Emilie -- make excellent soldiers and have incredible value besides their traditional practices around the home. JUST SHOVE IT IN THEIR FACES AND EMBARRASS THE OLD FOGEYS AT CRANDALWOOD BY SHOWING THEM HOW WRONG THEY WERE ABOUT HER. I'm sorry. I got emotional. I just really love Emilie.
He bids the girl goodnight, and with that, the last person able to sleep does so.
The Party reaches Kamtala the following afternoon; their hands tied by a rope that Isaac carries. The disguised artificer speaks in a pirate-y voice to the guards at the city wall, asking for passage into Kamtala to sell his slaves. The guards give him trouble at first, but reluctantly allow him to go in, once he claims to be fulfilling a special order for Swifthoof Direbeam. After some aimless wandering and Isaac's slave master character having shouting contests with the local guards, The Party finally reaches Direbeam's estate. Namfoodle uses magic to render himself speedy, flying, and invisible, and helps himself over the estate wall in order to scout out the proprietor. He finds a centaur that matches Swifthoof's description without much trouble. However, he also finds Stone. The lead of Kamtala's guard is having trouble finding reliable help, to Namfoodle's pleasure.
As Swifthoof Direbeam is about to read a missive from a soldier, Namfoodle sends him a magic message saying he has news from Syrila. He is hesitant to trust Namfoodle because naturally, Stone's word that Syrila is working with the Illithids has reached Swifthoof first. He reads the note, but Namfoodle is running out of time on his flying spell, so he has to make a hasty retreat. The Party doesn't know if Direbeam believes the message.
Some of the soldiers, drunk at the end of their shifts, begin bathing in a nearby fountain. Emilie and Namfoodle fail their hide checks and decide that hiding in the fountain AMONG THE CENTAURS is the BEST PLACE TO BE RIGHT NOW.
Fortunately, they don't know that they should be looking for the heroes, and so nothing really comes of that. Suddenly, yelling can be heard from Swifthoof's estate. The commotion grows in volume and intensity, and soon the sounds of battle arise. It sounds like Syrila's letter has done its job! With some help from Namfoodle, Emilie is able to climb the wall of the encampment in time to see Swifthoof strike Stone down. Some centaurs appear to have been killed in the uprising, but the living ones have sided with Swifthoof, and they tie up Stone as the latter screams in protest. Whatever happens from this point on is in Swifthoof's hands. The Party has fulfilled their promise to the princess, and it seems that she will soon be in charge once more.
The Party decides not to directly confront the illithids in the Trail of Chains for now, and it doesn't make sense to head back to Zyne Vul just yet, so that leaves the uncharted island of Kirabo as the next destination!
- Kal Grobnar's player had to work, so Kal was proxied by the DM.
- The human jeweler has a niece named Helena Silvertongue and this will probably never matter but I thought I'd document it anyway.
- Having an audio recording of the role-play intensive was immensely helpful in creating documentation for the session. However, doing the whole session from an audio log was horrendous. In the future, recording should be used only for segments of heavy role play. Also, a way to record everyone's audio should be applied, even if it means multiple people record.