By way of quick reminder, our heroes:
- Junior, playing an Intelligent Jack who Carries a Quiver
- The Princess, playing a Strong Glaive who Employs Magnetism
We picked up the 2nd session right where the last one left off. They slept in the ruins, recovering their strength and wits. Junior sorted out that he could restart the machines with a focused burst of electricity but still did not know their exact purpose or what the Aeon Priest had been doing with them.
Junior had recovered a cypher from the priest that creates a wall of lighting, but he was loath to use it for non-combat purposes. In the end, he decided to keep the cypher and return to the ruins later, when he had another way of enabling the controls. The Princess reminded him that Cali needed their help back in Fasten, so they left.
Cali was anxious to see them. The strangers had been back to her cart every night in the week they’d been gone, and they were growing desperate, no longer even attempting to mask any evidence that they’d been snooping in her cart.
Junior and The Princess decided to go have dinner and then return to lie in wait for the strangers. The restaurant owner harangues the pair of them, bemoaning her rapidly depleted stores of fresh meat. Junior’s steak went for double the normal price, which really brought home the urgency of the situation to him, and he started to feel a little stressed that they couldn’t be everywhere at once.
They returned to Cali’s cart to make preparations for the night, selecting a small grove of trees with a good view of the cart. Princess climbed a tree and Junior hid behind another.
Be Very, Very Quiet…
Me: Night falls upon the town. The electric torches snap on all at once, as if by some magic. After some time passes, you see two figures approach the cart. One is wearing a long-brimmed hat and the other is wrapped in a robe. The cloaked figure climbs into Cali’s cart and starts picking through the barrels and crates, as though looking for something. The man in the hat keeps watch, his hand resting near the long knife tucked into his belt.
Junior: Can we see what they are looking for?
Me: No. Between the dark and the distance, you can’t tell what they are doing.
The Princess: I put on my goggles. Can I see now?
Me: Sweetie, remember – those only let you see through smoke or fog. If you put them on, you won’t see any better.
The Princess: I put them on anyway. Don’t I look fancy!
After several fruitless minutes the cloaked man hops down from the wagon. The two men appear to be arguing, and the man in the hat looks particularly upset. The Princess decides to sneak closer to hear what is being said. Meanwhile, Junior decides he’s seen enough and, pulling out his bow, creeps closer for a better shot. They can’t agree on who goes first.
The Princess wins the roll-off and then gets a 19 on her sneak check. Keeping low to the ground, she sidles up alongside the cart and crawls underneath. She catches a snippet of their conversation – someone named Ma lost a ring, or had it stolen. It should be on the cart only it’s not. The cloaked man wants to give up and look elsewhere.
About this time, Junior slips out behind the tree and creeps toward a cluster of barrels. He’s not privy to the conversation and, drawing an arrow, means to put an end to it. Only he rolls a 1 on his sneak check. His foot catches on a divot in the road and he sprawls onto his face, releasing the arrow in the process. It thunks into the wagon noisily. The strangers draw weapons and move toward Junior. They point them at Junior but make no real move to attack him.
Crawling out from under the wagon, The Princess defuses the situation by explaining to Junior that they are only looking for their mother’s ring, which was stolen. The men ask if they can talk about this someplace more private, so Junior and The Princess take them to their house in Fasten.
Weird Enough For Ya?
I ask them to describe their house, because why not.
Junior: It looks just like our house.
The Princess: Except it’s purple.
Me: Ok. They go inside with you. What do they see?
Junior: It’s mostly like our house. (He does have an imagination, just not for architecture or interior decorating it seems)
The Princess: Except there is no furniture. It’s empty.
Me: Where do you guys sit? Never mind. Anything else different or weird about your house?
Junior: There is a ghost of an old man that floats around and says random, crazy things.
The Princess: And we have a cat. Her name is Flip.
Me: Is there anything special about Flip?
The Princess: Yes. She wears a collar and I can hear her talk in my head. And I wear earrings so she I can talk to her.
Putting aside that my daughter just invented an oddity, I say okay because it’s a cool idea and it keeps her engaged. She proceeds to tell us how glamorous her earrings are. Junior, well-used to this, sits quietly until she finishes, then pumps the men for information.
The men are from a village some miles away. Someone stole a ring from Ma – which is actually short for Mafred, their leader, not one of their mothers. It is no ordinary ring, and in the wrong hands, it has the power to do very bad things, of which, they will not say. Fortunately the thief is unaware of the ring’s powers.
The men received a tip that the thief was going to try selling it in Fasten. Cali’s wagon seemed like the likely spot, so they’ve been digging through it every night for the past two weeks. They’re starting to think their information is incorrect, or that something happened to the thief on the way to Fasten. Junior decides to check with Cali in the morning to see if she has heard anything about a ring. The men depart their company, with plans to meet outside of town around noon the following day.
Investigating and Sleuthing
In the morning, Junior and The Princess go to Cali’s house to share what they’ve discovered. (The Princess decides that Flip will come and puts the cat into her backpack, leaving an opening for the cat to look out.) Cali mentions that someone had indeed contacted her about a ring they wanted to sell but he never arrived. The man’s name was Norbert, and he lived about three days east of Fasten. She gives the two of them the precise location and they leave. After conferring with the two men again, Junior and The Princess make the journey east.
They arrive at the location several days later without incident. There, a small, squat structure of mortared stone floats about 8 feet off the ground. There are no windows, but there is a door, and it is closed.
(Here I lamely had them make checks to jump to the door. I should have just given them a pass because the success was really just a matter of retrying enough times, and there was no penalty for failure. In a nutshell, the rolling added nothing to the game. This is another place where Numenera will require me to rethink what almost two decades of D&D have thought me, but that’s a positive.)
On the stoop, they find the door locked. The Princess uses her Magnetic Attack Drill cypher to bore a hole right through the locking mechanism (Junior suggested). The door swings open, revealing a monstrous antechamber, far larger than the house itself appeared to be from outside. Their boots echo on the polished floor, and the ceiling disappears into mist far overhead. The room is empty. A pair of doors open to left and right.
They both pass a perception check and notice a quiet whirring noise, growing steadily louder. Thus, they are ready when a trio of automatons roll into the room. Roughly humanoid in shape save the giant wheel where legs should be, the robots extend arms ending in sparking pinchers and move in on the young characters.
Our heroes win the initiative. Junior attacks with axe, rolling a 1. The blow hits with a resounding thud but by some quirk of fate, only does cosmetic damage. However, the axe is stuck fast in the robot’s chest.
The Princess decides she doesn’t like these guys and pushing the closest out the front door with my mind. That robot being the one Junior is fighting. I clarify, but she doesn’t care. She makes the roll and, quite out of control, the robot goes skittering out the open door, disappearing from sight as it falls to the ground. Carrying Junior’s axe with it.
Junior curses his sister, which in our house amounts to saying her name really loudly and somewhat crossly.
The remaining robots roll forward and engage the heroes, but both Junior and the Princess make all their dodge rolls, burning up Speed points in the process. They really don’t want to be hit!
Junior tosses his Lighting Wall at the robots, catching both of them in the blast. I decide it does double damage because they are metal and are more susceptible to such attacks. The robots begin sparking and smoking.
We spend a few rounds of swing and miss before the heroes put down the robotics. The Lightning Wall lasts for 10 minutes, so the kids decide to burn some recovery rolls while they wait. This was a good place to stop for the night.
Final Thoughts from a Second Session
Only had an hour to play but we covered a lot of ground. I continue to be amazed by the simplicity of the system. I’m mostly winging it here, and decided on a whim what kind of creature would greet the kids in the floating house. It was so easy to do on the fly, literally in 30 seconds I created the wheeled automatons from scratch. Gave them a level which drives health and difficulty scores for everything from initiative to attack rolls, and decided on a special ability (those pinchers). It’s just that easy.
Things to work on for next time:
- GM Intrusion: I am still only using this for botched rolls, and not to subtly nudge the story where I want it to go. Maybe part of the problem is only having a vague idea of the story myself when we begin.
- Not sure if I’m making it weird enough. Getting there, but it doesn’t feel quite right yet.
- I realized after our second session that I’m not keeping track of the penalty for wearing armor. Oops!
I continue to be thrilled with the game and system, and the kids love it too. I’ll share our next session, but it may be a few weeks before we get a chance to play again.