In Which Half As Many Heroes Are Twice As Effective

Icaria: If I can't be there, I should probably go ahead and roll Medicine to treat Zanara.

Camena: So…

Camena: Did we ever figure out how we're killing this dude?

Icaria: Nine! So Zanara gets nine health levels back after resting.

Camena: Or are we going to go in dressed as the Ghosts of Calibration Past and Future?

Vance: I think the plan had gotten to "while he sleeps."

Camena: "Oh my god, Guard #4—look, it's the Scarlet Empress and Sextes Jylis!"

Icaria: Y'all really need to get over this obsession with going straight to the top of the barrel for disguises.

Camena: Shush, Mr. Bronze.

Camena: You do not have the moral high ground on the subject of conspicuous decisions.

Icaria: Well, I'm not made of gold.

Camena: Fiiiiine.

Camena: I'll go in dressed as…

Camena: THE MOUTH OF PEACE.

Icaria: Try "a guard."

Icaria: Don't make Icaria be voice of reason!

Svetlana: The problem with aiming below the top is that I, at least, don't actually know that many people to disguise as, and most of those are ridiculous.

Svetlana: I'll probably be a death knight, though, if I have any idea those exist, or a ghost, if I don't.

Camena: A guard FOR THE SCARLET EMPRESS.

Camena: I WILL BE MALFEAS.

Camena: SVETLANA, HOT GLUE THIS NEIGHBORHOOD TO MY INNER THIGH.

Camena: ICARIA, HAND ME MORE SELF-LOATHING.

Svetlana: It's weird that if I disguise myself as a different Night Caste and then let my caste mark show I take a -3 penalty to my disguise.

Vance: Your disguise falls off!

Vance: Would Svetlana know that deathknights exist?

Svetlana: What if it's my twin sister, who is also a Night Caste, and the main difference is that she shows her caste mark more often?

Vance: I think it's likely that Evdeniya would have had some idea of them if she was alive post-Thorns, and may have passed it on to you.

Svetlana: I suppose it is not actually a meaningful advantage to know about them, so I should probably just think about which disguise is cooler.

Svetlana: Which is clearly a mostly-skeletal naga with bone claw fingers and curse charms knotted into her lanky hair. Now, how to get the tail right, hm.

Svetlana: Boomerangs clearly need to look like hooks on the ends of flexible bone chains. Also tricky.

  • Svetlana ponders.

Svetlana: Possibly the bone tail is just impossible, which is sad. I mean, well, it's probably legal, although that's uncertain, but I don't know if black pants can sufficiently hide one's legs, and I don't think Larceny covers building a mechanism.

Vance: I'm fine with it if the mechanism just boils down to "make attacks."

Vance: I'm willing to give a fair bit of rules leeway under the aegis of a stunt.

Svetlana: I'm more thinking about if the tail is a costume with the legs in it, then puppetry is the only way to actually slither, and that seems like it needs a hidden slithercycle.

Svetlana: Because yanking oneself around with puppetry is not possible.

Svetlana: …at Essence 2.

  • Svetlana ponders this in depth, though, because she likes the visual.

Svetlana: …I think this is not out of my actual tech level but that it's a few week project without Craft Charms.

Vance: That means you should ask Camena for help!

Vance: (and give her precious Craft XP)

Svetlana: How advanced is Camena's Craft?

Vance: She has Craftsman Needs No Tools.

Svetlana: Oh!

Vance: Which is the sole benchmark, basically.

Svetlana: Yeah, that's good, then. Svetlana is certainly capable of planning this, since I've already convinced myself it's an extrapolation of a theater prop and she has enough Craft to have a solid concept instead of "sort of like, um, there's a thing."

Svetlana: "Camena, can you give me a quick hand with this?" Svetlana says, as she preps her new look. Or somesuch.

  • Svetlana ponders how this works. Probably the belly section of the naga where it transitions from mostly ghoul to monster made of bone parts is bulky and tall enough to hide the legs in what appears to be the curve of the snake-body descending to the ground, and then the two modes of the design are 'tail swishes with small hidden footsteps' and 'feet up on pedals move the whole thing in a quick dash or roll it slightly to the side.'

Svetlana: It is mostly fool-the-eye of course and if she didn't use magic it would probably be possible to see dark cloth trimming around the faux bones and such but nobody has ever really looked closely at Svetlana in her life.

Svetlana: I suppose if Camena has her own ideas as to how to make a functional naga tail then she could use those instead of Svetlana's, it's her Craft.

  • Svetlana ponders what to do if Camena doesn't have the motes handy. I guess my alternative then would be generic floaty ghost with bone chains dangling from her sleeves and an ominous metal barrel strapped to her back. (Nothing important about the barrel, it'd just be there to be ominous.)

Icaria: I could summon a water elemental with a tail and have them sit in the bottom.

Svetlana: That would be awesome but opens up all kinds of potential Initiative issues.

Vance: We could use mount rules.

Svetlana: I do have at least one point of Ride.

Svetlana: Exactly one point, as it happens, but I can afford a second.

  • Vance set the channel topic: "Let's Kill Bokuro".
  • Camena might have the flu.

Kukla: Feck.

Vance: Zanara, Icaria has healed of Zanara 9 levels of damage, after resting, which I think puts you back to full?

Zanara: Yep!

Vance: I think we can assume that y'all's mote pools will all be on full.

Zanara: The good news is that Zanara is now a lot likelier to survive someone getting up close and personal with her.

Zanara: Someone around here's gotta tank, after all.

Vance: 3, 2, 1, let's jam.

Zanara: (…which is to say I can get my Parry up to 8 if I'm not doing much else.)

Vance: Camena, Svetlana needs Camena to help Craftswoman Needs No Tools up a disguise.

Svetlana: Oh, right, I said that in the wrong window!

Camena: Camena cludges together some wood.

Svetlana: Yay!

Vance: -1 stunt!

Svetlana: But wait! The wood has a knot in it! It's not just any wood, it's wood… from a tree!

Vance: …but I will give you the benefit of Jenna's description, for a 2-point stunt.

  • Svetlana looks smug. See, that was an awesome stunt because trees are a key part of what makes Exalted's setting come to life.

Camena: I am in bed on the phone with a sore throat and wool in my head.

Svetlana: The best thing about trees is that when they're alive, they help us breathe, but when they're dead, they help ghosts breathe. They consume carboo dioxide and emit spooxygen.

Camena: Camena sets to work, a small fistful of carver's knives in hand. "We're gonna go through quite a few," she says, engimatically, and then there's a whirlwind of sound and pulp and dust. When all settles, there are several hundred bones of various length and design. Camena looks at them expectantly, coughs to show her displeasure, and smiles as they click into place, a perfect simulacra of delicately articulated wooden snake bits.

Camena: "The tail should slither on its own," she says, showing Svetlana how the bones are strung on flexible wires weighted to adjust with each step.

Svetlana: "Excellent," Svetlana approves.

Icaria: Meanwhile, Icaria uses a special sympathetic medicine technique, allowing Zanara to take actions while he spends the day resting for her.

Svetlana: Riding an elemental has the advantage of having a surprise elemental handy but feels a bit too much like a two-person horse costume.

Svetlana: So this will do me.

Svetlana: Do feel free to summon the poison elemental just in case we find him asleep, though. Zany disguise antics and direct battle are all well and good but if he's planning to sleep tonight I'd like to have him just… not wake up.

Camena: So, Camena still needs a disguise.

Camena: I think she's gonna go as 'sexy Chejop'. That's a green bikini, a shaved head, and a bucket full of bad decisions.

Vance: Blocked.

Svetlana: I don't know why you're blocking that the Green Lady is a canon Deathlord-associated character.

Svetlana: And "she's secretly just sexy Chejop" is a very popular theory.

Camena: Seriously, though, I guess if you're going as a naga, I should dress to match.

Camena: Unless we want to double-bluff them and have me dressed as a deathknight dressed as a Terrestrial.

Svetlana: Svetlana is mostly just really upset and expressing that upset by making a really mean and scary new self for the night, knowing that if all goes well nobody will see it except maybe Bokuro as he opens his dying eyes. So you can certainly play it your own way if you like. It's definitely true that sticking to the death theme will increase the chances of a bluff if fate falls out that way, though.

Svetlana: Pick your own Murphy's Law preference, I guess.

Svetlana: If we're both servants of Mask of Winters, then Murphy's Law predicts that we'll run into a bunch of well-intentioned Dragon-Blooded and one of us will flub Stealth. Probably me, but I do have the Excellency now! If you're something else then Murphy's Law says we'll have the perfect opportunity to confuse Bokuro but it'll be harder.

Icaria: I'll call up a heketa so you can enjoy her delicious poisons.

Camena: Camena's going to dredge through her memories for an appropriate undead guise.

  • Svetlana looks this up online. Oh, cool, a mixed martial arts elemental.

Icaria: Her name is Urqua.

Svetlana: Oh, wait, no, I should add "exalted" to my search terms.

Camena: I think she's probably encountered just enough to get a feel for their overall aesthetics, but would there be any well-known motifs particularly suited to the Mask other than… well, you know, thorns.

Icaria: A storm-causing poison frog, servant of the Frog Queen.

Svetlana: No one knows for sure, but I think it's possible he may enjoy masks, winter, death, and the refreshing taste of ice-cold adorja-cola.

Zanara: Poisoning Bokuro as he sleeps, eh? Yep, that's a major intimacy.

Icaria: He has a comedy-and-tragedy thing going.

Icaria: He likes being read to.

Camena: Fair enough! Failing specifics, she's aiming for the kind of spectral beauty that might seem a trusted courtier or envoy… one just enough to pass for mortal, but with a grim and gruesome beauty; cheeks like arsenic, lips like raw blood, feet covered in terrifying sores.

Svetlana: Oh, is Zanara going to object?

Icaria: And he likes parading his death-knights around and spoiling the surprise.

Camena: So, if someone did know about deathknights, she might look pretty similar.

Zanara: If she knows about the plan, yeah, she has a major intimacy re: harming defenseless people.

Camena: "He's sleeping in a fortress surrounded by guards patrolled by more guards. That's at least three defenses."

Icaria: He's an Exalted wizard with a private army!

Zanara: "You know what I mean. >:|"

Camena: "Shuuuuushpap."

Vance: Roll ♦.

Svetlana: Svetlana eyes Zanara. She scratches beside her nose with a bony claw. "Not a chance, boss," she says. "You want defenseless people kept safe, you need to focus on the hundreds of innocents that're gonna get massacred, not the boy who crawled into bed with death on his own two bloody knees."

Camena: Camena emotes "When Did Svetlana Become So Badass?"

Svetlana: It's the wires. It's all the wires.

Icaria: Irresistible Puppetry Method!

  • Camena also bodgers together a disguise for her dragonsigh wand: Loose casing that gives it the appearance of a black sanxian… but with a deadly surprise.

Vance: Take 2 silver XP for Svetlana's disguise.

Vance: She can give you another 1 if she strengthens her intimacy to you

Vance: For the sanxian, take 1, plus one if you have a relevant intimacy.

Svetlana: Hmmm.

Svetlana: I can't strengthen the magical intimacy to the group, I think, but I guess I can strengthen "I carry the will of the Dauntless Flame Duck Bureau in my heart" if that counts as to Camena as part of said bureau, or add an intimacy to Camena.

Svetlana: This is a rules question more than a waffling.

Vance: A separate intimacy for her is probably preferable.

Camena: I don't suppose I can make this gun-costume a statement about the Primacy of Art by hiding a deadly weapon in a sanxian?

Vance: It's nice to keep intimacies relatively straightforward and simple.

Camena: :stuck_out_tongue:

  • Svetlana adds an intimacy to Camena, then.

Camena: I probably want to get some input on mine later this week, then.

Camena: I have trouble with them for some reason.

Icaria: "I should make Camena proud with my criminality."

Svetlana: My intimacies are still terrible, but I'm trying to change one every scene in the hopes that eventually they will reflect my actual character.

Camena: "Man, coz; it seems like forever since I've gotten to pull an honest breaking and entering. Remember, the thing with Vi and Jaspindar? And the magical door? Remember how I picked the magical lock, and stole you some boomerangs? Man. Good times."

Icaria: They never did ask for those back.

Icaria: They must really enjoy getting beaten up.

Vance: Did I not mention their backstory?

Vance: They were a present from Jaspindar's least favorite aunt.

Svetlana: "Too much good-doing," Svetlana diagnoses. She casually takes her cousin's pulse. "Probably should eat more foods that strengthen the liver."

Icaria: I like my explanation better.

Camena: I mean, Dynasts can endure some impressive sadomasochism.

Vance: They're not in an open relationship!

Svetlana: OK, time to actually roll my disguise. And man, in some ways, this new Charm is a downgrade.

Svetlana: It has a WP cost and only lasts until I sleep! I haven't had more than 2 WP in ages!

Svetlana: And it upgrades the old Charm's cost so I can't get it back!

Vance: What about all those stunts?

Camena: 5m, 1wp for Perfect Mirror is a bargain.

Camena: It replaces.

Svetlana: I was already down to 1 WP when I discovered that "two-die stunt" always came with 1 WP, and that was also when I got my first WP-consuming Charm, so I haven't really recovered yet.

Vance: Okay.

Vance: Go ahead and reset to full.

Svetlana: Woohoo!

Svetlana: I'm probably going to Limit Break before anyone else so I wasn't too worried, but appreciated. ^_^

Vance: You've earned them!

Camena: A depressing 9 successes for Camena's disguise.

Camena: Wait—10.

Svetlana: Nyah!

Svetlana: 11. ^_^

Svetlana: We can sit in the barely acceptable disguises club together, taking dim comfort from the fact that at least Dragon-Blooded enemies trying to see through those disguises will be at a -4 dice penalty.

Camena: Let us take solace in both being very weakly disguised.

Vance: So, since we all seem to be here.

Vance: Let's kill Bokuro.

Vance: How do y'all make this happen?

Camena: I would assume that we are going in under cover of night.

Camena: But I am bad at figuring this out!

Svetlana: It was early night when we woke up, I believe.

Svetlana: We then relocated to… somewhere. Probably the ship and then snuck the ship off somewhere, because if they hit the ship and Tran dies that's no good, but maybe we evacuated Tran to a backup hideout in the island outskirts instead?

Camena: Yes, there was a backup shanty run by a smuggler Camena's got faith in.

Vance: Tran probably complains about being bored.

Svetlana: Then we waited a few hours to get motes back and for the night to get darker and Bokuro sleep to get more likely, then Camena and I snuck to likely locations for Bokuro, maybe with Saphir with us to go get Icaria if it turned out that a face-to-face fight was the only option?

Vance: If Icaria or Zanara do stay back physically, I'd like to keep them in the plan all Leverage-flashback style with introduce fact rolls and whatnot.

Zanara: I am one hell of a sniper.

Svetlana: I'm not sure what to do about Zanara being down IC and Icaria out OOC (or just leaving early OOC?) but am absolutely open to any plan suggestion that can facilitate bringing them in.

Vance: Zanara's back up!

Vance: Bokuro is a sorcerer, so having Icaria there might be worth it for that alone.

Camena: …sorcerer.

Vance: Two countermagic users are better than one.

Vance: So, everyone should roll Dexterity + Stealth. I'm going to let this result ride at least until any potential sub-boss fights, so it'd be a good one to dump a lot of personal motes into Excellencies on.

Svetlana: Svetlana is going off to kill him to try to be a proper Night, and is bringing Camena because Camena is practically a Night herself. The most likely reason to bring Icaria and Zanara in is if simply assassinating Bokuro is unfeasible, or if it's insufficient. I'm not attached as a player to resolving this particular problem Night-style; I'm just explaining what Svetlana is thinking. She is not trying to lead the group to battle. She is checking whether she can fix her regret for dithering around and getting her cover blown.

Zanara: And yeah, Zanara is not only 100% but honestly more like 120% thanks to some timely XP expenditure. >.<

Icaria: I'm hearing you, but party is happening. I'll do my best!

Svetlana: So I'm fine with it not working and with the group going to battle instead!

Vance: Oh, right, party.

Vance: Icaria will come in spirit!

Zanara: An improbable four!

Svetlana: 8 stealth successes.

Camena: 11 stealth successes.

Svetlana: Svetlana does not understand how the Eclipse does this. <shakes her head in puzzlement.>

Camena: Supernal Larceny!

Camena: …which can pull double-duty as Stealth.

Vance: So, all of you are sufficient stealthy to evade any mortal-level guards.

Vance: Are you going after him in his manse, which is presumably where he sleeps?

Icaria: Being present in spirit makes me good at stealth.

Svetlana: That is in fact the first place to check, yes.

Vance: There are guards patrolling the jeweled palace, but none of a caliber that you need concern yourself with. A few minutes of casing reveals that the manse only has a single entryway, the front door, and that the front door is locked.

Svetlana: Is it a single building?

Vance: Yeah.

Vance: I think I described it as a ziggurat.

Zanara: How about the surrounding buildings?

Svetlana: Oh, I see. Windowless?

Vance: Yes, although the gemstone walls are mildly translucent and in some places even approach transparency.

Camena: Locked.

  • Camena whistles.

Camena: Is this, say, a magical lock?

Vance: There are lots of surrounding buildings, although none of them reach as high as the manse does. The garrison you just fought is in among them!

Vance: It is a magical lock indeed.

Vance: The crystal doors to the manse have no mechanism or device. They simply rest, unmoving, in place.

Svetlana: Svetlana is curious whether Zanara can shoot through the transparent walls but isn't going to risk speech when the answer is probably "Not without a lot of effort; it's a manse."

Camena: Camena fogs the crystal with her breath; she hums against it to feel its vibration; she watches as the moonlight pierces through it, measuring the refraction. Satisfied, she knocks, very quietly and very politely.

Camena: LOCK-OPENING TOUCH

Zanara: All these buildings and not one up to fire code. Tsk, tsk.

Vance: One-point stunt.

Camena: 13 successes.

Icaria: I'd suggest a hammer, but we are here to steal this place.

Vance: The doors open themselves silently, with an almost deferential movement. The interior of the manse is dimly lit for night, with only the faint glow of luminous carnelians filling the dark.

Svetlana: If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning.

Icaria: Maybe impersonate a satrap at last.

Camena: <shit-eating grin>

Vance: Don't set it on fire, Camena.

Camena: "Silly Dragons never think anyone would try to get in by asking the door nicely!"

  • Camena considers setting it on fire.

Camena: Damned manse resilience.

Vance: Some manses can be set on fire.

Vance: This one's made of rocks.

Svetlana: Svetlana, or "Regret" as she dubs her current mask (it is short for "The Slow Revelation That One's Choices Have Been Poor Ones"), slithers inwards, gesturing with a flicker of bony fingers a few yards in that Zanara should stay a reasonable amount behind them.

Icaria: I observe, geomantically.

Vance: At some future point, your observation will be plot-relevant, at which time it will be determined!

Svetlana: Svetlana is somewhat concerned that sneak-assassination might be compromised by the party member that detests such things, that Deathlord-servant-impersonation might be compromised by the party member that is recognizable, and that the archer might be too close to the battle, although it's not like we actually have a proper melee fighter.

Zanara: Well aware that very tall women with giant golden longbows on their backs tend to stand out, Zanara does so.

Svetlana: Regret slowly realizes that her choice to focus on ranged combat may, in the end, have been a poor one.

Vance: You have essentially free reign over the manse—while there are some guards, they aren't anything you can't evade. You recall from your prior time here the way to Bokuro's chambers, as well as to his library. Who knows what else he has in here?

Camena: Camena, on the other hand, is plying her trade carefully… but sparing just enough energy to look for the best bits of art.

Icaria: "I don't know anything about the way to Bokuro's chambers," he said sulkily.

Svetlana: Regret shakes a lock of lank hair out of her dead eyes, locks her concerns about combat models in the box where her mortal self is always screaming, and takes a moment to slip into the library to poison a few of the most-often-licked pages of Bokuro's books before… hm. She glances at Camena. Exploration or murder? It would not normally be a question, but there is always a chance that he is not in his bedchamber and exploration will help with murder.

Vance: Bokuro's favorite books are lengthy Shogunate-era texts on poetic composition.

Vance: For all the lurid stuff in here, he doesn't actually seem to read any of it.

Camena: Camena looks back gloomily; clearly, her heart says exploration, but her desire to murder a Dragon says, well, murder.

Svetlana: Fortunately, Regret can smell the stain of mortal saliva or she might have poisoned the wrong books!

Svetlana: Regret nods, closes her slitted eyes for a moment, and follows the sensation of mortal heat towards Cynis Bokuro's bedchamber. Well, OK, she's actually seeing if she can sniff him out as actually in there, but "the sensation of mortal heat" sounds cooler.

Vance: Make a smell-based (Perception + Awareness) roll.

Svetlana: (3, but 8 successes if it's (Perception + Survival for) tracking or receives the benefits of such.)

Vance: You are successfully able to pinpoint the trail of someone who smells like Bokuro's body heat, leading into his bedchambers. There isn't a fresher trail leading out. Construe accordingly!

Camena: Grand Leviathan is loaded. Camena's will is set. Her body tenses with the knowledge of what comes next.

Svetlana: Regret reaches his door. She tilts her head for a moment, listening for nearby guards; unless they are almost upon us, she… opens the door unless it seems magically locked or alarmed.

Vance: Roll (Perception + Occult).

Vance: Everyone can, I guess.

Svetlana: 3 successes.

Camena: o-o

Camena: 6 successes on as many dice.

Vance: Camena has a bad feeling about letting Svetlana touch the door.

Camena: She stops her coz, grabbing her wrist silently and shaking her head.

Svetlana: Regret allows Camena to stop her.

Vance: She doesn't have much sense of the sorcery at play here, yet, but she's certain of one thing: there are two distinct magics at play here. One is a trap on the door, or something to that effect.

Vance: The other is tied to the door, but you can't discern what it does.

Camena: Can I warp the spells?

Vance: First one, yeah.

Vance: Second, you don't really have enough of a handle on yet.

Vance: Roll (Intelligence + Occult).

Camena: o-o

Camena: 6 successes.

Svetlana: Regret frowns at the door. Hm. It's not like she can go around. Hopefully my Bloody Cousin will be able to handle the matter.

  • Camena forgot that she had the power to pass-through doors.

Svetlana: Regret tries to think of a better name for her fellow servant of death when her fellow servant of death might have a name of her own. Hm.

Vance: As Camena begins warping the sorcerous power, a glowing sigil appears in the crystal of the bedchamber door—a green ring, filled with the Old Realm characters for "Five Great Pestilences."

Camena: I may not be Icaria, she thinks, but I know centipede-spells when I see them.

Svetlana: The Slow Revelation That One's Choices Have Been Poor Ones slowly begins to realize, as she stands before a green ring filled with symbols of pestilence, that her choices may have been poor ones.

Vance: As the tension of power at her fingers continues to build, the door begins to sweat venom, emerald droplets tracing their way down. Here and there, rivulets converge, and the poison grows into a spider, or a serpent, or a toad.

Vance: These vermin tumble onto the floor, in a state of some confusion, and scurry away harmlessly.

Svetlana: Regret decides that her cousin has it under control??? though, and instead focuses on establishing her Seasoned Criminal Method as a criminal with whom to be treated for members of a criminal organization associated with the Lord of Thorns.

Camena: (I assume I need to keep rolling towards the goal?)

Vance: …interesting.

Vance: No, this was a one-and-done trap.

Camena: (…wow, that's smart. You're smart, J.)

  • Camena follows suit as she sees Regret's feint, adding a little tilt to her posture that seems to imply everything she needs.

Camena: There's still the matter of the second spell. I don't suppose that having sloughed off the first has removed some noise?

Vance: In order to get a better idea of how that spell works, you think you're going to need to at least see the door open.

  • Icaria turns his gaze upon Creation once more and looks approvingly at Camena, totally legit sorcerer.

Svetlana: Regret gives Camena the companionable grin of one monster to another as she sees her posture tilt.

Camena: She give Regret a look that says: This is going to be risky.

Svetlana: There's the faintest hiss under Regret's breath as she pulls back a yard or two in acknowledgment.

Camena: Camena reaches out to touch the door…

Camena: …and appears on the other side.

Icaria: Maybe while I'm here I'll introduce a fact about doors.

Vance: You appear on the other side, in a room.

Camena: DOOR-EVADING TECHNIQUE

Vance: Err, (Perception + Occult).

Icaria: Crystal-type Earth geomancy relies on the mathematical perfection of their shape.

Icaria: It's very rare for a trap of this type to function when opened from the inside.

Vance: ^ You heard it, folks!

Svetlana: ("Doors in Creation are typically designed with a heavy focus on planned obsolescence, most of them lasting no more than a few hours before falling apart.")

Camena: Three successes.

Vance: The chamber is, much to your delight, filled with artwork—a portrait of Cynis, a replica statuette of the eagle of Danaa'd, and the traditional Cynis nudes. What it is not filled with is Cynis Bokuro. Or even a bed!

Vance: You aren't alone.

Vance: You can't make out the other people without an Awareness roll, but they aren't aware of you.

Camena: Are they near, far, or wherever they are?

Vance: They're not in this room, but like, the next one over.

Vance: The strategic layout of this room and where it sounds like they are makes it seem like perfect conditions for an ambush, except they don't know you're here.

Camena: Camena holds her breath and tries to crack open the door, motioning for Regret. Unless the door kills her first.

Vance: Door?

Vance: What door?

Camena: Oh, you suck.

Svetlana: Regret gives Camena… twelve seconds, before she will touch the wall beside the door and spend 5 motes to listen to what's going on on the other side.

Vance: I am going to really have to think about whether that will work here.

Camena: Wait, how did I not have a grasp on this one? Camena's totally played with space-warping magic before.

Camena: :stuck_out_tongue:

Vance: Okay, I think you actually can hear Camena.

Camena: Regardless, Camena will probably, unwisely, scootch forward to try and get a better vantage point.

Vance: Roll (Perception + Awareness).

Camena: Counteroffer: (Dexterity + Stealth).

Vance: You're already in concealment.

Vance: Unless that's a Blinding Battle Feint.

Svetlana: Regret can hardly ever actually hear Camena, but she knows her heartbeat. She knows the blood upon her feet. They are partners in death, and their Essence moves together, does it not?

Camena: 3 successes.

Svetlana: …but only 5 successes, even so.

Vance: That's enough to make out Camena, and probably at least a glimpse of a notion she's not alone.

Camena: I feel like we have a bad measure of how many successes is good.

Svetlana: Oh, 5 successes is great, I just know that you're 11 successes stealthed, so my only hope is that it's less than half as difficult when you're not hiding from me. ^_^

Camena: :stuck_out_tongue:

Vance: So, as you go out, stealthfully, you recognize the people standing guard in the hallways branching off this room.

Vance: You just dealt with them last session!

Vance: Jaleva, the Dynast with the meteor hammer, and the rest.

Camena: Efffffff.

Vance: Let me roll to see if they notice you.

Camena: Hmmm. Did it seem like they might be in on any shadowlands conspiracies?

Camena: That's a question to everyone

Svetlana: Regret considers this situation. Camena, not alone, on the other side of the door. No combat. Everyone very quiet. (My opinion is: yes, they are. You can get two naive hero bodyguards max.)

Vance: Jaleva is the only one that notices you move. "Hey, what the—no one's supposed to be here, dumbass. What are you doing? Who are you?"

  • Camena emerges, hands steepled neatly. "Who was I, you mean."

Vance: A read intentions to figure out her involvement with shadowlands is probably in order.

Camena: 4 successes.

Vance: Her reaction to your sickly appearance betrays more familiarity with creatures of death than she lets on. Her mild surprise has nothing to do with the way you look.

Vance: That's about all you can get on the evidence available.

Svetlana: One move, Regret thinks. She will give her cousin one move, one play, one gambit to extract herself, and then join her.

Camena: "You must excuse me, dears," the ghost-woman says, rolling her shoulders in their sockets. They creak and crack—a little paper lining her gown, of course. "I thought I would come in the traditional way. Through the door."

Vance: Gimme (Manipulation + Presence), with a one-point stunt.

Camena: Eight.

Vance: "Ugh. Another one from Thorns? What more do you people want?"

Camena: "The timetable has been… accelerated. Things will happen much earlier than expected, and I have been sent to convey adjustments accordingly. You can take me to the satrap, now. And do get the actual door; my pet is not quite as light on her feet."

Vance: "The satrap is in bed. You'll have to come back tomorrow—ha, if you can come out in the daylight." she says, letting her scorn show freely.

Camena: "You fail to grasp the magnitude. I am sure it is some inadequacy in my expression. The timetable is now."

Svetlana: Regret scrapes her bony nails gently on the door, twice, clocks five seconds, then opens it.

Vance: "If your Prophet wants to change the deal, he can come here himself. I don't conduct diplomacy."

Vance: Svetlana, make a (Perception + Occult) roll.

Svetlana: 1!

Vance: It opens into the room that Camena's been in all along.

Vance: You notice nothing amiss.

Camena: "I am certain that your bravado will be of great comfort to your lord when all erupts in… just under an hour? And come here, pet."

Svetlana: Regret slithers inwards.

Svetlana: Regret murmurs, "If they are betraying us."

Vance: "Oh, gods damn it." Jaleva says. She's pissed, but not primarily at you. "Listen, if you want to talk to him, go and wake him up yourself. You ghosting your way through his door is probably what triggered the trap."

Camena: "Hmmm?"

Svetlana: Regret's voice is the voice of someone who's been starved for quite some time. It is painfully hungry.

Vance: "Just open it normally. Physically, you know?"

Svetlana: Regret hesitates, and then snorts, before hacking a cough into her elbow. She is clearly not laughing at her mistress. No. Not in the least.

Camena: "Who would guard against—oh, for the love of the Mask. Come, Regret. We'll see what he has to say."

Camena: Camena spares a glance that says: I spent a lot of damn Essence on that trick.

Svetlana: "Mn," Regret nods. She surveys the room, giving several of them a warning glance, before following Camena away with a flick of her tail.

Vance: "Get your ass moving, if it hasn't rotted off yet. We have sentinel duty until dawn, and that means I have a pillow novel to finish."

Camena: "Charmed."

  • Camena goes through to the indicated room.

Vance: A short hallway leads you back into the main atrium.

Svetlana: "Hee," laughs Regret. "Heehee. Yes, you'll finish—ah." She coughs into her elbow again.

Vance: That is absolutely not how geometry is supposed to work.

Vance: This is probably all the facts you need to make another (Intelligence + Occult) roll.

Camena: 5 successes.

Camena: I am done with these mother-eff'in twists on these mother-eff'in planes.

Vance: Camena's experience with similar magic suggests to her that this is some kind of spatial warping—specifically, overlaying or entangling two rooms in a single physical space, so that a single door can lead to them both.

Svetlana: Regret mutters, "'Pet.' 'Light on her feet.' Just be ready for our next spar and hope the Master can recognize your face afterwards, 'mistress.'"

Vance: Why did it take you to one room, and not the satrap's? Unclear. But there's clearly some condition that determines which room the door opens into, one that the Dynasts believe a random delegation from Thorns would meet.

Camena: "Once more, Jupiter spits in my face."

Vance: You can now attempt distortion.

Svetlana: Regret is blissfully unaware that her companion can now attempt distorting the spell overlapping the space she is in with a different space inside a geometrically charged area.

Camena: Camena reaches out carefully, fingers just shy of the door itself. In her head, this is nothing but an enormous tumbler of considerable—but not impossible—complexity. She sends her mind and her Essence coursing through, probing at this magic's literal underpinning, just waiting for the right pins to slide neatly into place.

Vance: Take a two point stunt.

Camena: 9 successes. o-o

Vance: So, Camena is in the processing of completing the disruption of the spell when the axe-hefting Dynast shows up.

Vance: "Jaleva said you were looking for the satra—"

Vance: "Huh. Now, just what the hell are y'all folks doing?"

Camena: "Trying to get through this gods-damned door! We've got less than an hour now, and matters must be attended!"

Vance: "There's a doorknob. You're doing some sorcerous nonsense instead. What, is the ward not letting you through?"

Camena: "Last time, I ended up in there with your friend."

Vance: "Right, she told me. Your ghost Essence messed it up. But you can just go ahead and put your hand on the knob now."

Svetlana: "Is he bothering you, mistress?" Regret asks.

Svetlana: "Please say he is bothering you."

Vance: You can also complete the distortion at any time now as a miscellaneous action.

Svetlana: Regret looks at the man with hungry eyes.

Camena: "Life bothers me. Unlife bothers me. Deadlines bother me."

Vance: But that would be relatively "loud."

Camena:

Svetlana: Regret slithers closer to the Dynast. She lifts up a bit on her snake-tail to touch a nail beneath his chin. "Have you lived much life, big man?" she asks him.

Vance: "If you're asking whether I've bedded down with a serpent-person, then that's a very personal question."

Vance: "But, yeah."

Vance: "Let's try to stay on the point at hand. Snakey, why don't you give the door a pull?" he asks suspiciously.

Vance: "Could it be you want to kill Satrap Bokuro?"

Svetlana: Regret says, "That is not the point at hand. Mistress, the meat is trying to distract me."

Camena: "I'd like to kill everyone, eventually."

Svetlana: Regret gives a glance of grievance at her cousin.

Camena: "But death, age, and war always beat me to it."

Vance: That… could be an almost plausible bluff.

Vance: Roll (Manipulation + Presence) with a two point stunt.

Camena: Six.

Vance: "The Prophet had said that some of you were like that. Death junkies. A sick blasphemy."

Vance: "But the monks kicked me out and the satrap pays well."

Camena: "It is the curse of all addicts to chase the things that destroy us," she rasps. "Mine just happens to be that same self-destruction."

Vance: He puts his hand on the door, twisting it open. It leads to the satrap's bedchambers. "There you go. I'll send one of his servants to wake him."

Camena: "Please do."

Camena: "And… thank you. I hope your death is not as soon as I might otherwise desire."

Svetlana: "The Master will decide," Regret says, sadly, turning away.

Vance: The satrap has a staff of personal slaves that live in his chambers, on the other side of the warded gate. One of them, a young brown-skinned man in a light silk robe, appears at the ex-Immaculate's beckoning, and heads off towards Bokuro's bed to wake him.

Vance: (Unless Jenna wants to override with killing him in his sleep.)

Svetlana: The axe-wielding guy is still there, and there are a bunch of servants watching? Hm.

Camena: Also, for the record: I am dangerously low on motes.

Vance: Maybe half a dozen.

Svetlana: What do I think will happen in this situation if I invoke Easily-Overlooked Presence Method? I don't know how far it goes.

Svetlana: Like, I know alert guards will still track me, but I don't know if the axe guy is an alert guard.

Vance: He is not an alert guard for these purposes.

Vance: He'll just overlook you.

Svetlana: I can see Bokuro from here?

Vance: No. From the smell of it, his bed itself is one room back.

Svetlana: Then Easily-Overlooked Presence to slither after the servant, in hopes of being in position to get Bokuro before the servant wakes him.

Vance: I think you can easily make that happen.

Svetlana: It's very hard to recognize your poor life choices. People avoid paying attention to that slow creeping revelation at all costs.

Svetlana: It seems like it would be hard to not notice the gigantic bone naga in the room with you but it doesn't want to make an issue of its presence and against denial even the Unconquered Sun can not contend.

Svetlana: The Slow Revelation that One's Choices Have Been Poor Ones sees Cynis Bokuro in his bed and joins battle.

Vance: What is your intention?

Vance: If it's just to stab him and make him not be alive, we won't be needing any rolls.

Vance: He's asleep!

Svetlana: That is in fact the intention. A poisoned hook made of bone to rip his neck open. "You are no longer necessary," explains Regret.

Vance: "—" Bokuro doesn't say.

Svetlana: (Sorry about your low motes, Camena, believe me I know the pain, it's just, Svetlana believes a conversation with him would have just gone in circles.)

Vance: This ends Easily Overlooked Presence, right?

Svetlana: Yes.

Camena: (Oh, totally! I approve of this decision.)

Vance: The servants are panicked to hell. So is the Dynast.

Vance: He raises his axe.

Svetlana: Regret points her hook at the axe-wielding man. "Run, little mouse, for THE MASTER IS COMING."

Vance: He lowers his axe.

Vance: "Look, let me be honest with you here. I'm not much for the whole loyalty to my master ideal."

Vance: "So, instead of fighting me, why don't you get to know me? My name is Rat Coal."

Svetlana: Regret slithers forward. "It's not my place to befriend you," she says. "It's my place to kill. But… if you prefer to plead with the Master and not me, that is acceptable. You could survive, I suppose, if you don't send him poetry."

Svetlana: Regret glances at Camena and whispers, "See? I can be diplomacy."

Svetlana: Regret is to Svetlana's complete surprise an incredible dork.

Camena: Camena just gives her a face-palm look, but has too much dignity to actually do it.

Svetlana: "Get out of here," Regret says. "This is the Master's manse now. Do not let anyone come in even if there are screams or demons. Then he might like you. Or he might kill you and feed you to me. Or there might be a party? I like parties."

Vance: "The only poet in this room just got his neck torn out, ma'am. Quite erotically, I'd add."

Vance: He's, ah, rolling to seduce you.

Vance: Would you like to shut this down at the player level?

Icaria: The one night I don't show up, burly fellows start seducing people.

Icaria: Admittedly those people are murder snakes.

Svetlana: …um. I… am not going to shut it down on the player level, because I feel that my lower body being an elaborate puppet ought to be sufficient protection for my delicate sensibilities.

Svetlana: I reserve the right to fade to black if things somehow get around that though.

Vance: This probably isn't the context for an immediate seduction.

Vance: It's more of a smoldering look.

Vance: What's Svetlana's Resolve?

Svetlana: 3.

Vance: Despite all the rippling muscles Coal Rat has on him, and the spiffy green hair, Svetlana finds it in her heart to spurn his wiles.

Camena: "I will never understand your popularity with the fairer sex."

Vance: "No offense, ma'am, but the beauty of a deadly serpent-woman is among the Five Greatest Pleasures spoken of by philosophers of such matters. But it seems this is not the time for that."

Svetlana: Regret looks blankly at Coal Rat, then at her bloody bone hook. She looks shy for a moment, but shakes her head. "Thank you for the compliment but I aim for a baroque and anti-vital aesthetic from which eroticism would only detract."

Vance: "Maybe, instead, you could explain to me what you killed the satrap for. I don't much care for him, but he's still the guy who paid me. I feel like I deserve an explanation for why I'm going to be down and out."

Svetlana: "Death is cold and rotten and venomous and that is what I try to express when I kill people. I think the problem is that I am just too naturally incredible."

Camena: I'mma start casting Corrupted Words. It's my control spell, for some reason, so it's subtle.

Vance: Nice.

Vance: Make the first roll.

Camena: Four, pathetic four.

Vance: I guess every time Svetlana and Coal rat both get a line in, you'll get another roll.

Svetlana: "Oh," Regret says. "Well, the Master never actually liked him, and the Manse is pretty much the only place the child of the Scarl—of the Scar-Covered Prince in Mournful Panoply can be kept alive as a proper hostage, due to magic stuff, so it was time to take it, what with the shadowland mostly formed."

Vance: Roll (Manipulation + Performance/Presence).

Camena: (Are the mortal servants still around?)

Vance: They've bailed, at this point.

Vance: Mostly to escape the manse with as much treasure as they can grab.

Svetlana: 4 successes.

Vance: "Well, how about we make us a deal. I won't raise any alarm or let anyone know you were here. You want the Manse, sure, I'll stand down."

Vance: "But I need the promise of my safety—and Tourmaline's safety. Can I have that?"

Camena: 3 more.

Svetlana: Regret looks blankly at him. "…you sold out to the Master and helped open a shadowland underneath the island and you want its safety?" She reads his intentions for an Intimacy regarding the island.

Vance: (7/15)

Vance: Roll it with a one-die stunt.

Svetlana: (6 successes.)

Vance: "A shadowland? What the hell are you talking about? Is that what the Prophet's doing?"

Camena: +3 more.

Vance: (His confusion is unfeigned, and he seems to still have some core Immaculate scruples.)

Vance: (10/15)

Svetlana: Regret's eyes narrow in amusement. "Fine," she says. "Let's make a bargain, then. But not that one."

Svetlana: "I'll let you try to save the miners from the next massacre," she says. "I'll let you try to get the high-level agents of this scheme off the island, or bring in forces that will checkmate them. If you can actually do that, all on your own, little man, then I won't step forward myself to do the last few things and bring the Master here."

Camena: (Got the last 5, whenever my next roll kicks in.)

Svetlana: Regret dabs a nail with blood and, if he doesn't stop her, marks his forehead with it. "If you want Tourmaline to be safe, that is."

Vance: "I plain don't understand what you're talking about, ma'am. I don't know anything about the miners."

Vance: Camena, roll Int + Occult vs. his Resolve

Svetlana: "I never understand anything, mistress tells me," Regret says. "But I have to go on doing the great work. You get used to it."

Camena: …six?

Vance: What topic do you wanna censor?

Camena: "What's happened here tonight"

Vance: Good topic.

Vance: "So, let's say… I let you get away with…"

Vance: In the middle of summarizing the terms of the deal, Rat Coal starts hurling slug.

Svetlana: "I don't understand this," Regret says. "As an example. Is this a human mating ritual?"

  • Vance makes an Intelligence roll for Rat Coal.

Vance: "Well, I think that's a bad sign."

Vance: "But no, ma'am, I respect your declination of my advances. But you'll let me live so I can be around to fight the Prophet and his lackeys?"

Vance: He wipes the last of the slug-ooze away with a sleeve.

Vance: Not even Appearance 5 can make that look good.

Svetlana: "That's completely against my interests," Regret says. "Obviously. I'll let you live because it's entertaining to have you fight the Prophet and his lackey, and if you actually manage to win then I can report a recruitment prospect, which is even better than a successful mission."

Vance: "I can't say I've ever heard anyone talk like you before, miss. Nice meeting the both of you, and now y'all have just a great night."

Vance: He starts to bail.

Camena: "Wait, my boy."

Camena: "Dear Regret may not be willing to strike a deal, but I am."

Camena: "Your safety, and the safety of… what is it you really want to be safe on this mean little rock?"

Svetlana: "I struck a deal," Regret sulks. But quietly. "Sort of."

Vance: "I don't mind betraying a dead man, but I'm not betraying this town. If you want to hold someone ransom, conduct some intrigues, sure, go ahead. I'm talking about things like what happened to Thorns."

Camena: "We will make certain that this does not happen. We have no need for this place to sink into gloom and doom. But there is, as ever, a cost."

Vance: "I gave you the satrap and the manse, what more do you want?"

Icaria: It is a really nice manse.

Camena: Did we check him for a Hearthstone?

Camena: The satrap, I mean.

Camena: And what was the other DB's name?

Vance: Jaleva?

Camena: "Jaleva… is she as flexible as you are?"

Vance: "That woman's her own person. I don't think I deserve to be compared to her."

Vance: "But I don't think she'll shed any tears for Bokuro, here."

Camena: "Good. Affair conclu, precious young man."

Vance: And with that, the mini-session draws to its close.

Camena: Not that mini!

  • Vance set the channel topic: Palace Coup Boogaloo.

Icaria: Quick! Someone disguise themselves as a satrap before it's too late!

Camena: Except insofar as leaving others out! :disappointed:

  • Zanara rolls Limit, gets nothin'.

Camena: I literally do not have the motes to do so.

Icaria: We will content ourselves by drinking your sweet, sweet XP.

Vance: Man, that's gonna be an effective disguise with Corrupted Words in play.

Vance: 5 XP, 4 Solar XP.

Svetlana: Yeah, I'm sorry that Zanara didn't get to do anything.

Icaria: That's why it's important to keep it simple.

Icaria: Cheap, easy disguises!

Icaria: Icaria is disguised as someone who stayed in bed.

Camena: Wait.

Zanara: S'cool. She'll go give the satrap peace.

Camena: Oh, shit.

Camena: I do have the motes.

Zanara: (I was cooking dinner because Vivian is on deadline for most of the evening anyway.)

Camena: Well.

Camena: We done good, Jenna

Icaria: A most successful heist!

Zanara: OOCly, heck yeah, sweet manse, ICly, so much arguin' gonna happen. :3

Camena: We gots control-ish of the manse. Now we need to press forward and fix this shit.

Camena: Which also probably means taking care of the actual shadowland.

Zanara: Now that Zanara will be on board for.

Icaria: Yeah, it's funeral time!

Zanara: Mind you she knows zilch about how shadowlands actually work.

Icaria: Although… we still don't really know what's going on.

Icaria: It seems as though maybe the Mask of Winters isn't involved, after all.

Zanara: Maybe it's time to buy a dot of Occult for her, she's been hangin' out with y'all. Learning through osmosis.

Svetlana: Yeah, there's some sort of Prophet involved.

Svetlana: Prophet Yakult. Her doctrine is easy to digest.

Camena: Well, I assumed the prophet was either a deathknight or a mask for the Mask.

Zanara: Yeah, I've certainly named enough NPC Abyssals "Prophet of whatever" in my day.

Svetlana: True, that seems reasonable enough.

Svetlana: It could also be their pet name for Zanara.

Svetlana: Or Camena.

Zanara: I haven't tried to convert anyone here yet.

Zanara: Maybe I should, though. XD

  • Icaria rolls to reclaim his last banked XP. Success!
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