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Manaburst Actual Play, Session 1

Session Date: 11/18/2007
Gamemaster: Proprger

On Sunday, November 18th, we had our second session of Manaburst. I've decided to split up the commentary and actual play content into separate posts. This will be the first Actual Play post of the campaign.

The game opened with Feral arriving in the city of Frostmourn - the sphere's namesake - on a wagon she had hitched a ride on. Unlike the other settlements in the sphere which barely qualified as villages Frostmourn itself was a large walled city far larger than any other she had been to. After being dropped off a the gate Feral began exploring the city in search of the caravan heading off-world she was supposed to join.

As Feral wandered through the city, the world froze around her. The crowded streets were suddenly still and even the birds above had paused mid-flight. Although she recognized the onset of one of her prophetic visions, Feral was surprised with the speed at which this one had come on. As the color quickly drained from the world she unconsciously held her breath as she waited to see what her vision would show her.

Peering into the nearest store, a meat market, Feral caught sight of an item that seemed to stand out. Not only was the crank that the butcher had been using to grind meat still in full color, it was still moving. As it continued to turn, more gears and cogs slowly faded into view around it until her vision was full of the mosaic of machinery. She got the impression that the gears represented the people of Frostmourn. Each person interacted with countless others, exchanging services and goods in a manner that maintained the entire city's existence. Feral simply watches, entranced by the complexity of interaction within the city.

Eventually the vision fades and Feral finds the wagon train in the process of being loaded. Instead of an organized process she's met with chaos as people rush from wagon to wagon trying to fit more in place. Eventually Feral is able to locate the person who appears to be in charge - a younger woman trying to direct the chaos while referencing a clipboard. As Feral approaches the woman sends one of the workers off after a man named Path who is supposedly in charge and supposed to be making sure the wagons are loaded properly.

Feral attempts to check in with the woman with the clipboard - who says her name is Stalk - but it seemed that she wasn't on the list. The seer confirms that her chieftain had spoken to a man named Path, eliciting a heavy sigh from the overseer. As they wait for Path's arrival Feral produces a muddy, badly damaged scroll she said was a letter from her chieftain. Stalk is unable to read the scrawlings on the scroll and ponders what to do with Feral as Path finally arrives...

...or more appropriately stumbles forward, already drunk before noon. Stalk tries to get answers from the inebriated caravaner but can only get nearly incoherent lecherous responses from him. The two try to get answers from him but are unable until a loud bellow draws their attention to a rather large woman stomping down the street toward them.

Path turns pale as he spots the woman, who turns out is his wife. After being browbeaten and dunked in the blacksmith's trough the caravaneer whimper an apology to Feral and Stalk and, under the watchful guidance of his wife - gets to work organizing the caravan.

* * * * *

Meanwhile we shift to the royal family's chambers within the keep in the center of Frostmourn. Lore sits with Slate and Lord Pennywise, listening to the monarch drone about the current state of affairs. After catching Lore's loss of interest, Lord Pennywise turns the topic of discussion to his son and his desire to go out for a hunting expedition. The young prince apparently wanted to experience some adventure, but the King thought it might be too dangerous for the young lad and asked for Lore's advice.

Trying to balance the current King's wishes with the desires of his future lord, Lore suggest appeasing the young prince's sense of adventure on a smaller prey, something closer to the castle where an escort would keep him safe. Lord Pennywise seems inclined to accept the suggestion but remains very protective of his son and starts lecturing Slate on how one day the kingdom will be his responsibility as the scene is cut.

* * * * *

Back at the caravan with Path (or more appropriately his wife) getting the caravan organized, Feral and Stalk are left without anything else they need to do so they decide to head to one of the local taverns for lunch. They chit chat for a bit and the conversation eventually turns towards Feral's earlier claims of being a seer. Skeptical, Stalk asks for a demonstration.

Feral surprises the young waitress with a request for a pint of pigs blood. She began a reading on the blood splatters and the marrow from the leftover bones from her meal. Eventually she falls into a clairvoyant trance, her surroundings fading from her view except a single thread laying in front of her on her plate.

Curious, she grasps the thread and pulls, and as she does Stalk slowly fades into view with the thread attached to her chest. Even though Stalk didn't seem to realize she had been pulled into Stalk's vision no one had ever seemed to be a part of her visions before. Feral pulled the thread again and it snapped free.

Before Feral could ponder what that meant, the thread began writhing in the air, unraveling into four separate threads before lengthening and darting off. One jumped back into Feral's chest, two quickly flew out of the front door, and one spun back and connected itself with Feral.

From Stalk's perspective Feral quickly tranced out while performing her reading and after a few odd hand gestures as if playing out a line, Feral got up and still with the absent look on her face walked out of the tavern. Stalk quickly followed, intrigued and entertained even if not buying into the seer's performance yet.

The seer's path leads her through the city on a seemingly direct path. As Stalk follows, she watches as the city seems to open a path for Feral. Horses step aside at the last moment. People pass through doors and forget to close them, allowing Feral to follow. Feral even walks right through a home, surprising the family that had just sat down from lunch.

Finally Stalk can see where Feral's path seems to be leading - the castle in the center of town. At the gate Feral simply walks past the two guards apparently unnoticed but when Stalk approaches she is stopped but let past when the guards recognized her. The two wind through the castle, Feral continuing her ballet through the hustle and bustle of the castle and Stalk continuing to follow and apologize to bewildered onlookers.

After wandering through the castle halls, Feral and Stalk suddenly burst in on Lore, Slate, and Lord Pennywise's meeting. The only person not confused by this is the King, who, being a very polite and hospitable man immediately assumes Stalk is there on business and orders refreshments brought.

Lore casts a small incantation to see if Feral - who was acting strange as she entered - had tried to enscroll either of the Pennywise's. He doesn't detect any sort of enchantments, but does detect a strong aura of power around Slate, which is weird considering no member of the Pennywise line has ever had any magical aptitude before. Contemplating the ramifications, Lore files this information away for later use.

What follows is a fair bit of uncomfortable silence - Stalk expecting Feral to explain why she came here, Feral not knowing what's going on, Lore wondering how the newcomers got so far into the castle unhindered, Slate glad his father wasn't lecturing him. Lord Pennywise decides to excuse himself, declaring he will "let the young folks to it" as he gets up and leaves.

* * * * *

Later that night the King hosts a large dinner and party for everyone involved in the Caravan to Verdant. He gives a speech, telling all of the colonists how deeply he loves them and every one of his subjects and that it pains him to send them away, but what they are doing is necessary for Frostmourn's survival. There is much celebration, but many of the travelers are nervous with anticipation.

Long after the celebration Lore - not needing sleep - began going over his notes and research regarding his soulcage and how he might be able to guide Slate's apparent arcane aptitude towards freeing himself. His efforts are interrupted by a frantic knocking at his door. It was Slate, pale with fear.

Slate begins stammering that his father is dead, which Lore first dismisses as a dream. After being rebuffed enough, Slate eventually confesses that he has the ability to enter a person's dreams, and that he was in his father's dream trying to convince him to let Slate go hunting and something happens.

The young prince led Lore to his fathers chamber which, surprisingly enough, was missing the guards usually stationed outside. They found the balcony door open Slate showed Lore where Lord Pennywise had fallen, his broken body suspended in one of the trees far below.

Slate panics, not knowing what to do. Lore seems to take everything in stride - it wouldn't have been the first time one Pennywise had killed another to assume the throne if that is what happened. But Slate says he doesn't want to rule, he just wants to leave and asks Lore for help. Lore decides to seize the situation and start a plan in motion that may lead to his eventual freedom. Lore instructs Slate to forge a letter introducing Lore and Slate to whomever was in charge of the caravan to Verdant.

At this point Prorpger and I stated that our characters were going to use aliases to leave Frostmourn, but we still wanted to go by Slate and Lore through the campaign. So we retconned and said that up until this point, we had been using our given names instead and Slate and Lore were the aliases we decided on. Poof; the magic of meta-gaming at work.

Lore also instructs Slate to retrieve a small locked box his father kept behind his nightstand, pack and prepare for a long trip, go to the vault and retrieve a larger metal bound locked wooden box (which contained his soulcage), then meet Lore at his chamber in half an hour. That would give him enough time to prepare an illusion to obscure Slate's features so that he could get out of the castle and to the caravan unmolested.

* * * * *

Early the next morning the caravan gathers near a series of standing stones that were originally used to force the gate open. The path to Verdant would cross a couple of spheres but the first gateway was the only one so tenuous as to require such a complex ritual to open.

As a handful of priests prepare the area, Feral notices that one of the standing stones appeared to be crooked. When she tries to point that out to the head priest she is unceremoniously shooed away.

Slate and Lore manage to blend in with the back of the caravan as the priests finally force open the gateway. As people begin to move through the gate, the sound of alarm is raised from the castle. However with the gate only able to open for a period of less than half an hour every six months, there is no pausing to investigate.

* * * * *

Stalk - the first person through the gateway - halts in surprise as she exits the gate's far end. This wasn't Moor. There was no expanse of swampland, no overcast sky, no gurgling of stagnant swamp water. Instead she found herself standing on a large piece of sandstone roughly the size of a house. All around she could see the sky, it wasn't the sky she was used to.

It was as if a large shell had been formed around the chunk of rock where the sky should be. The sun was a hand drawn yellow swirl that looked to be attached to the sky. Indeed so did the many clouds in the sky. On the far side, she could see a darker half of the sphere, festooned with what look like hastily drawn stars and a crescent moon. None of the bodies seemed to move in the sky. Instead the sky - the shell - seemed to slowly rotate around her.

In the time required for Stalk to take in the surroundings, she finds Feral has joined her from behind. While the two look at each other in stunned surprise, the two men who they met when Feral's vision took them to Castle Frostmourn appeared behind them. There was no sign of the caravan that had entered the gate between when Feral and Slate and Lore entered. No sign of the rest of the people. No sign of the gate they arrive through. And no sign of a way off their rock.

* * * * *

Ok, that took way too long to do. Almost two weeks to complete, and another session is scheduled for Sunday. I'm going to have to cut back on details in the future - there's no way I can keep this up, especially when I am trying to prep sessions myself. But hopefully this will provide a good introduction to the game.

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