|Session 20: The Impossible Institution|
|Real World Date||December 13th, 2014|
|Game Date||May 28 - 29, Year 0|
|NPCs||Merek and his colleagues|
Session 19: Bureaucratic Bull$h!t
Session 21: Mismatched Morals
The Party discovers what happens to civilization when its magic is taken away for several consecutive centuries.
On the way to Merek’s house, his son Lief continually asks Namfoodle to use prestidigitation and Nam continually tells him “no.” Merek also floods the party with questions, and requests samples of them and asks if they’ll participate in studies. Isaac deflects the questions, saying that they are overwhelmed and will discuss these matters later. Merek offers the party food and shelter, with the understanding that they will share information about each other’s worlds. The guest room has a ceiling fan and a lamp. It’s weird and incomprehensible. There’s a TV in the main room. Stop the world; our heroes want to get off!
Emilie and Namfoodle poke around and ask questions, trying to figure out how electricity works. They believe that electricity is a hidden school of magic that only golems can practice. They conclude that in this timeline, people have lost the ability to cast magic, and they have somehow come to believe that electricity is not magic. Perhaps to give themselves the illusion that they are still in control, they have collectively decided that they have invented this school of magic that only machines can use.
Through conversing the Merek, the adventurers are able to glean that no one off the island has ever been contacted, and that the volcano houses the only power plant. Remembering the suppression field that Namfoodle detected in Session 19, he and Emilie try to convince Merek to let them into the power plant. Merek finally allows them passage, on the condition that he can study them at length and collect tissue samples to reconstruct their genome. He maintains that the party will not be allowed deep inside the power plant. Just in the more office-like areas. Isaac takes a walk to scout the area and encounters a car that drives by. He isn’t able to find anything useful in his brief hike, so he returns to the house to sleep.
In the morning, Merek offers the party French toast... whatever "French" means. Once they’ve eaten, he escorts the heroes to the power plant. The building has been cut into the rock wall of the volcano, and it is adorned with emblems of familiar style that depict rams. Merek says it’s an ancient design that has stayed in their culture for sake of tradition.
The party has to pass through a metal detector. The process is very stressful because the party is fully armed, but once the first bit of weaponry is discovered, the party’s anxiety is put to rest, because the staff assumes that the gear is just artifact samples brought in from the field. The party gets temporary photo ID’s and they are scanned in to the next area. Emilie and Nam are very creeped out by a flat golem taking and displaying their likenesses, and also by the fact that the elves are refusing to admit that this is magic. Isaac, however, thinks this piece of technology is fascinating, and looks forward to taking it home with him.
Namfoodle can’t detect the suppression field from this close of proximity. However – an empty instance of the Tome of Time lies inside one of the artifact exhibits on display. An assistant offers to fill out the paperwork to have it removed from its container for the party. Nam enthusiastically confirms.
Merek leads the party into his office, but an elf in black named Dr. Salt stops them and asks Merek to follow him. Another doctor, a woman named Jory, escorts the party to follow as well. Dr. Jory leaves the party in a cell-like room and closes the door behind her, saying it will just be a moment.
It’s five hours.
While the party is panicking, we leave our in-character selves and realize oh my god we totally forgot Namuffin. So let’s retcon that – as soon as the party entered the magic suppression field at the end of Session 19, Namuffin collapses, motionless. But Isaac takes no damage, so it can be concluded that the homunculus can probably be resuscitated at some point.
BACK IN THE PRESENT! Or rather, the future. But actually the present because it turns out this is all just incorrect inferences from the data at hand. Anyway. Namfoodle decides to break the swiveling boxes (actually cameras) and fake plants (actually not cameras) just in case the party is being watched (they are). Then Kal breaks down the door. No one is in sight. The door that Merek was taken behind faces the heroes. Emilie, Kal, and Namfoodle all try to force the door open. It super doesn’t work like at all. Isaac uses some crazy artificer magic to open it. It works. The room is empty, but a door on the other side is ajar and leads to a big office. The office is… also empty. Merek is not here anymore. Nor is he in his office. The party has not seen anyone at all. Emilie and Isaac feel responsible for whatever crap Merek is stuck in now, so they want to find him. However, the complex is massive, and while Merek’s life is important, the party may be running out of time to grab the Tome segment. Vic and Emilie retrace their steps to the artifact chamber, and Emilie smashes the display case with her diamond. There have still been no signs of life whatsoever since the party was locked up. Emilie forces the blank Tome of Time together with the augmented one in her pack, and they fuse into one entity.
The suppression field collapses, and as magic floods the area, the party is whisked centuries into the past, and they witness a scene in which two ancient elves debate in the volcanic chambers that this land used to be. One elf argues that the time magic should be contained in a suppression field to preserve it for posterity. The other argues that this is effectively the same as destroying the time magic, except it carries inherent risks. Both are willing to kill for their argument to win. The first elf does so.
The vision ends, and the party is brought back to the laboratory. It is at this point that Nam’s player tells Emilie’s player that Merek does not live in the future, but rather “his present is our present is the present is the present.” In a euphoric blast of explosive comprehension, the session note-taker realizes that the magic suppression field was preventing the anomaly from expressing any symptoms at all. The scene in the volcanic chamber was the first sign of the anomaly, and now that the rift has closed, it is also the last. Merek, and his perception of Kirabo, is the present. The loss of magic and communication with the outside world forced the natives to develop technology and electricity much earlier than the rest of the world. This also explains why the party was able to communicate with the inhabitants of Kirabo. There was no time travel involved in this session or the last one at all! Just Galapagos-style isolationism.
Alarms sound as the display case for the Tome of Time falls to pieces, and a blast shield starts to lower itself. The party escapes into the corridors just in time. It’s hard to know what is happening to Merek, or where he’s being held. Most importantly though, the party has to get off of this island.
Two questions about Kirabo remain unanswered, though. The first is: Why does no one leave? The second is more disturbing, especially considering the elves in black, Merek’s disappearance, and the party’s incarceration: What happened to the explorers who docked at Kirabo in the last several centuries?