In Which Our Parenting Skills Are Questioned

Vance: Okay, so.

Vance: As the time of the game draws near, I wanna get some player feedback:

Vance: Anything y'all would like me to change up?

Camena: I mean, I kind of stuck you with the scenario, but I'd say some downtime. We've been pretty hectic so far, in this one afternoon.

Vance: Yeah, you're gonna have a few days between where we left off and when we'll start.

Icaria: I shall spend some time summoning frantically.

Vance: Okay!

Icaria: I am quite tired of being caught without a proper retinue of conjured beasts.

Vance: What do you summon?

Icaria: First, I summon, or possibly go off and find, my sweet familiar, Emeraude, the greenmaw.

Icaria: She was probably at a restaurant.

Vance: Hi, Emeraude!

Icaria: Then, I will summon a FLAME DUCK.


Vance: Remind me of what flame ducks' deal is?

Vance: They're ladies, and also ducks?

Vance: Also, fire?

Icaria: They're fire elementals who are ladies and also ducks.

Icaria: So yes.

Vance: Anything particular they do?

Icaria: They don't have a signature mechanical trick, no. They're kind of good choices for a summoner's middle management.

Camena: They've got a Dodge specialty

Camena: in

Camena: Ducking

Icaria: (They could probably use a good trick so please think of a cool one for 3e.)

Vance: Oh, wait, hold up! I'm gonna need you to make some binding rolls

Vance: Intelligence + Occult.

Icaria: I already bought the familiar with Merit dots, do I need to roll for her?

Vance: No.

Icaria: Hm, and I can use motes, right?

Vance: yeah

Icaria: I'll use a full Excellency.

Icaria: With my specialty in the elements!

Vance: Indeed!

Icaria: Six successes.

Vance: That is definitely enough to bind a flame duck

Camena: If this were PbtA, then the roll would determine whether you summon Flame Duck Korra or Flame Duck Azula.

Svetlana: I am so sorry. :disappointed: I need another 20-30 minutes. You may think badly of me. It is allowed.

Camena: No apologies!


Icaria: Now that you've dared us we're going to think embarrassingly well of you.

Camena: Because it is not a problem.

Icaria: Hm, then I shall conjure the flame duckling Rubean, who will shore up my critical common sense deficiencies.

  • Icaria looks for something he can use as a quick equivalent of her stats.

Vance: I can do something up

Kukla: I may think badly of specific elements of your behavior but I refuse to think badly of you holistically.

Icaria: That would be cool, or the Young Dynast might work in a pinch.

Icaria: Even Jenna may be bad in the multiverse, Kukla.

Kukla: I scorn monolithic models of your identity.

Kukla: In the meantime, observe:

  • Kukla shaves a dog, and then paints 'bad dog' on its bald side.

Kukla: Now I am revealed to be a true villain.


Camena: Author of Ignobilis

Icaria: considers mirror-Jenna and her wicked roleplaying.

Camena: and Chuubo's Maleficent Wish-Eating Contraption

Icaria: Hm, what traits ought flame ducks to have? People basically think of them as cool because they have cool art.

Icaria: Some kind of burning flight, maybe.

Icaria: Resistance to bad ideas.

Camena: Delicious flesh.

Icaria: If you eat my elemental, my other elemental will eat you.

Camena: I advise them not to try.

Camena: Because I am a Solar Exalt armed with a Glorious Majestic Boomstick.

Kukla: Flame Ducks are so called because of where they live: on the surface of lava.

Camena: Which… I should really figure out some Evocations, shouldn't I?

Kukla: In their native environment they are dabblers, dwelling in subterranean magma flows and at the surface of volcanos, where they dabble in the manner of ducks and feed off flows of earth and fire from below.

Kukla: They occasionally attempt to relax in water for similar reasons but it always ends badly. On occasion they make do with thick, hot mud.

Kukla: They're born of stagnant magma that should not be so; the magma needs to be stirred and to flow, and so the flame ducks arise to stir it and flow it, but when the need passes, the flame ducks remain.

Icaria: Description: Flame ducks appear exclusively as dark green- to black-skinned women with feathery wings attached to their arms and fiery red tresses hot to the touch. Creatures of leisure in times of relative peace, flame ducks frequently find their way as gamblers, prostitutes and merchants. In times of great strife, however, or if of a particularly severe bent, flame ducks can hold their own as effective soldiers, possessing an incredible natural puissance in matters of soldiery. They fight best as a group and enjoy practicing flights in formation and other military exercises where they can show off their talents.

Icaria: Lakes of molten lava and active volcanoes are the natural habitat for flame ducks, though few stay in these places beyond the term of their youth (five years). Because they migrate semiannually, flame ducks see many places around Creation and eventually become very cosmopolitan creatures. Not many flame ducks can be found very far North, however, as they do not appreciate the colder climes.

Kukla: Oh cool, I thought the "lakes of molten lava" thing was totally made up.

Kukla: I was definitely thinking magma-mermaids.

Kukla: What's the boomstick?

Camena: I don't know yet.

Camena: Other than the fact that it's orichalcum and probably fires an alchemical concoction that makes the flames green.

Kukla: I got nothin'.

Svetlana: Here for real!

Vance: Okay!

Svetlana: Something got sprung on me, sorry.

Vance: Not a problem, I was just finishing up Rand's flame duck.

Svetlana: My charsheet is (link), btw, although I'm OK with undoing the XP spending for now and taking advice on it.

Vance: So offensively, Joint-Wounding Technique is a srs bsns debuff that you already qualify for.

Camena: I would also love any advice on not being the world's most useless shotgun lady.

Vance: Steel Storm Descending and Flashing Draw Mastery might be a good combo with your god-Awareness.

Vance: For Archery… you got Fiery Arrow Attack.

Svetlana: I was wary of it originally because of the Decisive aspect. It seemed like if I could plausibly guarantee doing 3 damage, I'd be expecting to do 5, which means I'd already be winning.

Camena: But I already shoot a flamewand.

Vance: Most big bad guys will have very big health bars.

Vance: @elliott: But can you shoot people on fire?

Camena: It's got the Flame tag

Camena: So… yeah?

Vance: Hush.

Svetlana: That's good information, re: the health bars.

  • Svetlana ponders.

Svetlana: Should I dive furiously into combat Charms to try to catch up to Icaria, or should I pick them up at a measured pace just to try to be moderately useful?

Icaria: It's not like I actually have that many.

Svetlana: Obviously at 20 XP this is a "1 or 2" choice, but it matters more in time.

Vance: I try to make sure everyone is able to get entertainment out of a fight regardless of how combat-invested they are.

Svetlana: Yeah, it's true; your actual combat prowess is your artifact.

Vance: So I wouldn't worry about catching up.

Icaria: Well, that and I just have a good bread-and-butter build that makes me the most capable solo.

Vance: Also, the real strength of Solar combat abilities is the terrifying Excellency.

Vance: We ended up having to take those away from Dragon-Blooded.

Svetlana: Realistically if I wanted to be good at combat I would mysteriously find an artifact floating on the water.

Vance: There are Dragon-Blooded about.

Vance: I'm sure they have treasure.

Icaria: I could summon one, with sorcery!

Svetlana: Take a look, it's in a book!

Icaria: Yeah!

Icaria: Actually, summoning things out of legend and record is a good sorcery for Icaria.

Camena: Summon the Sword of Ice.

Camena: Just to give Vance PTSD.

Svetlana: Hm.

  • Vance shared a file.

Icaria: The power of the duck!

Camena: I am a slightly worse combatant than a flame duck.

Camena: That's a good thing to know.

Vance: Flame ducks don't have Excellencies.

Icaria: Oh, there should be a specialty for swimming through lava or molten metal.

Icaria: Or, you know, piles of metal.

Icaria: Any pile of gold that happens to be around.

Camena: Excellencies are instant.

Vance: Scrooging is a dangerous and illegal pastime that Yu-Shan does not endorse.

Icaria: Thanks, Vance!

Icaria: I'm sure that Rubean will be an excellent lieutenant and will never sass me.

Vance: Of potential note: elementals can't dematerialize this edition.

Icaria: True, I'm going to have to give Emeraude a hat or something.

  • Svetlana reverts Investigation 4 and Divine Induction Technique, buys Joint-Wounding Attack, has 6 Solar XP lying around in case an artifact floats by but is not actually motivated to get one, she's actually expecting to use it on Investigation 4 still.

Icaria: I'll just tell people she's from Lookshy.

Icaria: I don't think you can buy artifacts after character creation.

Vance: @jennamoran Sounds good.

Icaria: They just sort of happen.

Svetlana: At some point I'd like advice on improving Maksim but I've already delayed the start of the game by a lot.

Camena: But you can buy Evocations with Solar XP.

Vance: What kind of artifact would you be interested in happening across?

Svetlana: Unless by doing so I cancelled the game, in which case I'd love advice on improving Maksim.

Icaria: Such as because you asked a friendly sorcerer to locate one, or because you asked an unfriendly Dynast to give you his weapon, or die.

Icaria: I'm free all night.

Vance: Same.

Icaria: I couldn't get suet yet, so I'm not cooking until tomorrow, which is my day off.

Icaria: But once I do, it's Christmas pudding time!

Camena: I am free all night, but bear in mind I am in Eastern Time.

Vance: You great Eastern buffoon!

Camena: And that I am often a drowsy dude.

Camena: Devin keeps trying to convince me to move to the West Coast.

Icaria: Is he a realtor?

Camena: He is a god-king.

Svetlana: I like the imagery of having multiple boomerangs to throw, and I think that artifact weapons are probably the best fix for combat uselessness, so I guess I'd be looking for a magic boomerang that is actually two or more thinner magical boomerangs or some device that improves one's existing boomerangs.

Vance: I will keep boomerang(s) in mind.

Vance: Are we all ready to start?

Icaria: I am.

Svetlana: I am!

Camena: I amish.

Svetlana: How can you amish online?

Icaria: Mostly you believe in a god who loves loopholes.

Camena: That's Judaism.

Icaria: Like Orthodox Jews.

Svetlana: I guess that there's nothing un-Amish about using a series of tubes.

Camena: The Internet is really, really great.

Camena: (for churning butter!)

Vance: When we last concluded, the three of you had accepted a bizarrely-contrived deal from the satrap's majordomo, Sesus Majal: stage a faux attempt on the satrap's life at an upcoming gala, taking out her personal guards without harming her. The Earth Aspect gave you a few days to build up your lives and reputations in Gloam. Icaria summoned some elementals. Did anyone else do meaningful things over downtime?

Icaria: I'm going to exercise my occult senses and try to get a subtle scope on the local witchery.

Icaria: Presence of notable spirits, sorcerers, or mystic weirdness that might be worth considering.

Vance: Roll Perception + Occult.

Icaria: Using four motes, five successes.

Camena: Camena is going to spend time fencing the remains of her cargo and establishing an alias among the local crime scene—specifically, a shadowy, cut-throat mafioso by the name of Bloodcrow and a much more gregarious fencer/procurer/fixer/marketeer by the name of Ujaat.

Vance: There's definitely another sorcerer somewhere in Gloam (beside Camena, of course). All the signs written down in the texts point to it—tea leaves that taste strangely metallic, cloud omens, the screaming cicadas. You can't pin down their location or feel them doing any workings, but they're somewhere here.

Vance: There are a number of spiritual presences, but nothing unusual for the ambient background divinity of Creation. The most notable in the local vicinity is Last Light Fading, Gloam's city father.

Icaria: "I'd say that was an ominous name for a city's own god, but then, look at the city."

Vance: When you try to cast a geomantic reading with a map and a pendulum, the whole thing gets knocked over by a stray cat, which, according to the geomancer's handbook, indicates maximum inauspiciousness in the local geomancy.

Icaria: "Yyyyep, that's exactly as bad as I was expecting, which is… odd, actually, because things are usually less interesting than I expected."

  • Svetlana tries to figure out how one actually starts scoping out a political situation.

Icaria: Hm, roll Perception + Socialize and ask the Storyteller who the power players are?

Svetlana: I suppose the way a magistrate has to start an investigation in a place like the Realm is find a local family of some repute whom their overall direct or indirect connections to are more positive than negative, who will gain face slightly rather than lose it if the magistrate visits, and visit and lightly ply them for information on the local situation.

Vance: Picking out the right family could probably be Perception + Socialize.

Svetlana: Probably eventually putting it out there that I'd heard of a possible threat to the satrap's life, but that the details were scanty, and wondering where that would come from hereabouts. If I spend 2 motes as a Night can I spend 5 motes on Perception + Socialize without anima flare?

Vance: Yes, but you could also spend out of your personal motes.

Svetlana: I thought there was like a 3 motes at once limit somewhere

Vance: no, you just can't combine your personal and peripheral pools

Svetlana: Huh. OK. I must have universe-jumped. 4 successes.

Svetlana: (5 motes.)

Vance: A few days of glad-handing locals points you in the direction of the Marukhati, a family with a near-monopoly in the trade of silk, cashmere, and all other manners of the textiles in the city's markets. The family is a client to a lesser Dynastic cadet family, itself a client to the Tepet satrap's own household. Jaal Marukhati is reputed to know everyone who's everyone, to appreciate the finer points of the deal, and to have an inordinate fondness for beetle-wrestling.

Svetlana: Man, I bet he usually wins.

Icaria: Well, you get some pretty big beetles out East.

Vance: You're able to arrange a dinner through a mutual friend (almost certainly a spy for Majal)—will Icaria and Camena attend?

Icaria: Oh, sure.

Icaria: I mean, if I'm invited.

Camena: Why not.

Vance: The Marukhati family is more than happy to oblige.

Svetlana: You're totally invited. One day one of us is going to slip up and show the sun and we might as well all be in the same place when it happens.

Svetlana: Reasoning!

Camena: Can I assume Camena's angling happened, then?

Vance: They live in something more than a house, but not quite a mansion, painted with stylistic depictions of silkworms grappling against the devil poverty. A throng of young Marukhati welcome you at the gate, offering up freshly-fried octopus balls and wine as they lead you to the estate.

Icaria: Hm, there are spells that will ward off the poverty devils.

Icaria: I don't know about the silk thing, though.

Icaria: Wood doesn't compel metal.

Icaria: Sometimes I feel like I'm wandering through a world of people who don't know how to read.

Svetlana: "How kind."

Icaria: In fact metal compels wood!

Svetlana: I've never actually seen metal compelling wood.

Icaria: You never chopped a log?

Svetlana: Only with a fire axe.

Vance: The Marukhati family is at least a dozen strong, through some combination of cousins or somesuch. Renshin, a woman approaching middle age and the current head of the family business, takes the hostess' role, asking Svetlana about her service as a magistrate and offering amusing tales of Gloam. Jaal is taciturn throughout a dinner of braised fish, salted taro, and ripe cheese from the docks, but begins to speak up once the after-dinner drinks are brought out.

Icaria: Western Coast Five-Element Theory may be slightly different.

Icaria: I use my mastery of five-element theory to scan for the presence of elemental demigods.

Icaria: Failing that I scan for the presence of attractive men.

Vance: Attractive men abound in this family.

Vance: "Magistrate, friends, thank you for honoring my house and tolerating my son's poor cooking. But you haven't said—what are you investigating in Gloam?"

Svetlana: I soak up these amusing tales, because honestly Gloam is still something of a mystery to me.

Icaria: That's the power of my wood essence! It naturally stokes the hotness of those around me.

Icaria: I think.

Icaria: I haven't yet completed my summa on five-elemental attraction yet.

Svetlana: "I came here following one matter," Svetlana handwaves, "but I'm currently more interested in the threats against the satrap's life."

Vance: "A threat against Jaspindar?" Jaal exclaims, noticeably shocked. "I'll be damned."

Svetlana: "I was having a most interesting conversation on the subject," Svetlana says, "before a hellboar interrupted it, of all things, and I lost my conversation partner."

Svetlana: "It's really… " Svetlana makes a face. "I have to admit it's embarrassing to have had an investigation impeded by a pig."

  • Icaria allows the others to drive the A-plot while he focuses his attention on the sea of attractive lads who might exist and tries to use the force of his knowledge and will to drag a plot-relevant stud into the is.

Vance: He clucks his tongue, fondly remembering hearing about other day's Hellboar Kerfuffle. "But tell me—can you tell me?—who would try to kill the satrap?"

Vance: Meanwhile, the son responsible for the (actually quite good) cooking sidles up to Icaria, who faintly remembers his name as being Yul Marukhati.

Svetlana: "This is an alien city to me," Svetlana admits. "I cannot rely on my own knowledge of the political landscape. If necessary I will spend the months it will take to change that, but for now any theories I have may be libelous. For now, I am hoping that if it becomes known that I am looking into the planned assassination, that the parties involved will expose themselves by, ah, coming to me."

Icaria: "That's a fine capon you have there," says Icaria to Yul. "So, who would want to kill the satrap? Everybody's talking about it."

Icaria: "I just know it isn't us."

Vance: "Kill the Satrap?" Yul blurts. "I wouldn't—I'm a good, obedient citizen! Or, um , I mean, I don't know. The Council's been at their throats since they made Gloam a satrapy, but it'd be the first time they'd gone this far."

Vance: Between Svetlana's keen ear and Yul's slightly-inebriated loudness, she hears this.

Icaria: "Ah, obviously it wasn't yul. Yul'd better tell me about the Council so I can get the story from someone who knows."

  • Icaria considers more obvious flattery.

Svetlana: "Perhaps you could tell me a little about the Council," Svetlana offers Jaal.

  • Icaria uses four motes trying to read Yul's intentions in this conversation, and gets four successes.

Vance: "Yul doesn't know the Council from a yeddim's breakfast," scoffs Jaal. "The satrap and her councilors, the imperial government of the satrapy. Jaspindar and her wife, Peleps Vi sit on it, of course. Majal, the satrap's rumormonger, too. And Tran, the baby councilor. There's some long feuds between them, since before they came to Gloam even, but I can't imagine one murdering each other."

Vance: (Yul is a little surprised and scared by the sudden diversion of attention to him, and is mainly hoping not to do anything stupid in front of his family.)

Icaria: Oh, I'm sure if he does anything too stupid I'll be able to top it.

Svetlana: "Mm," Svetlana says. "I can't imagine the satrap has done anything in particular to upset them recently, or you'd have mentioned it.… though most likely it's something she hasn't done yet."

Icaria: "Gloam must be quite full of rumors if there's an entire council seat devoted to them."

Vance: "Jaspindar makes an effort to rule by consensus—more than she has to, as satrap. I wouldn't imagine she'd have made one of them want to kill her. Maybe it's a foreign power, an assassin sent by some princeling who doesn't like Gloam's trade polices."

Svetlana: "It's only Peleps Vi, Majal, and Tran, or are they merely the notable ones?" (Unless this would be obvious to someone who knows Realm politics in general.)

Vance: Yul gulps. "Father doesn't mean rumors, exactly. Lord Majal is a—" he makes a series of furtive gestures, poorly conveying the notion of a spy.

Icaria: "Oh, one of them."

Vance: Jaal counts off names on his fingers. "There's another who sits in, occasionally, although I don't think he's a councilor proper, and there's some who could sit that don't. Jaspindar, Vi, Majal, and Tran are at every meeting."

Icaria: A useful summary!

Icaria: Of course, Icaria already knows that Majal is the murderer, and is mostly trying to decide whether he's supposed to intervene or not.

Svetlana: Svetlana closes her eyes and thinks. "Majal seems loyal enough, and one would like to believe in the marital bond. I don't know Tran. Jaspindar is likely not behind the plot." A wry smile. "You are most likely correct; foreign instigators are plausible. I assume she gets along well with the local House and mercantile interests?"

Vance: "The traders… preferred the time before the Realm took its taxes, certainly. Ill intent flows towards the satrap like water down a hill, but no one's tried to harm her. And if House Sesus isn't happy with her, well, they don't tell me."

Svetlana: "It would be terribly impolite of them to be closed-mouthed about it," Svetlana says, "so we must assume there is nothing there."

Svetlana: Svetlana smiles. "Thank you. That's been helpful. Will I be seeing you at the gala?"

Vance: "Oh dear, I'm not nearly important to attend the satrap's balls. Only the Dynasts and their households."

Svetlana: Svetlana looks troubled, but can't immediately find regretful words that don't sound potentially sarcastic.

Icaria: "Lovely," says Icaria. "You won't be a suspect if anything happens."

Icaria: Nothing Icaria says ever sounds sarcastic.

Vance: Yul seems a little more intimidated than seduced.

Icaria: I'm not going to seduce him in front of his father!

Svetlana: Svetlana grins. "I'm sure nothing will happen," she says. "I will hardly embarrass my post by letting her die, Icaria."

Icaria: Icaria is glad that we've established our policy on this issue.

Vance: "Let us all pray nothing happens," Jaal concludes.

Svetlana: "Well," Svetlana says. "Let us pray that the assassins or their sponsors, hearing of the direction of my investigation, show up at my door to remove a meddlesome obstacle, are captured easily, prove completely unable to resist interrogation, and the whole matter is wrapped up by the following sunrise. To pray that nothing happens at all would be dull."

Vance: "Magistrates have odd prayers."

Svetlana: "If it comes up," Svetlana says. "I would not mind if you let on the situation, or that I was somewhat close to finding them."

Vance: "Certainly, though Heaven forfend I actually speak to these scofflaws."

Icaria: "The rest of us will just have to hope that our stay here is interesting in a more conventional way."

Svetlana: Svetlana is not merely attempting to trap hypothetical assassins who are in fact her own Circle with this rumor, but also curious whether anyone else planning to remove the satrap or inspired to want to remove the satrap or highly interested in preventing it shows up at her door.

Vance: No such knocks are imminent upon your door.

Svetlana: Because you can't fake assassinate a satrap without "trap"!

Vance: Shall we cut forward to the gala, or do you want to do more investigating?

Icaria: Well, we already know that the killers are us and Majal respectively.

Svetlana: It's true.

Icaria: We should probably come up with a plan for the gala.

Svetlana: This makes the investigation very simple.

Icaria: It would be convenient if we could prove we weren't there.

Icaria: Establishing an alibi, as it were.

Icaria: This may be a job for our face, if she's still awake.

Svetlana: I was thinking that Camena and I could probably manage to slip ":-P you've been assassinated" scrolls into the guards' pockets, if they have pockets, if something doesn't happen first. I'm interested in hearing about this alibi although I think at least two of us are actually invited. And possibly one of our face's cover identities.

Vance: Are you awake, Elliott?

Camena: I am.

Camena: Just being cooperative, petulant, and/or reserved.

Camena: As for an alibi… we'd need someone respectable, who we could either convince, bribe, trick, or impersonate.

Camena: But Jenna's right re: our invitation.

Camena: Aren't we?

Vance: You are invited.

Camena: Hmmm. What would it take to procure schematics for the location of the gala that we could gently annotate and leave in some schmuck's basement?

Icaria: The alibi was mostly a joke, but it would be good to have a plan to turn the tables on Majal.

Icaria: "Things," I say to everybody else on a more private occasion, "are all wrong here."

Vance: Hmm. You know where it's being held (Legate Tran's estate), but the only person likely to have blueprints would be the architect. It might be easier to counterfeit the whole thing, if you want to go down that route.

Icaria: "We're engaged in some kind of shenanigan which is frankly beneath us, but that's only the surface."

Icaria: "The omens are bad. An enemy sorcerer works at unknown ends."

Camena: "Beneath us, certainly. Hopefully not beyond us."

Camena: Camena's been sneakily staking out the estate to make some rough plans. She's also been very, very careful to leave behind subtle but convincing evidence that it was someone else.

Vance: Um… Manipulation + Linguistics?

Camena: …why Linguistics?

Vance: Calligraphy, mapmaking, drafting.

Vance: Or any architecture-related Craft.

Camena: 6.

Vance: It is a pretty impeccable forgery

Vance: Now who do you plan to plant it on?

Svetlana: "I suppose I could impersonate Lord Majal while doing whatever we're doing," Svetlana says. "Though that requires getting caught doing it to be worthwhile."

Icaria: I'm okay with anybody on the council, since they're all basically evil, but ultimately the magistrate will have her way.

Camena: I feel conflicted about answering that for reasons.

Camena: So I'm going to go with Rand and Jenna.

Svetlana: "It is probably worth noting," Svetlana says, "that you are not actually magisterial staff, bound to serve me in all things."

Vance: Framing Majal would be tricky, since he lives in the satrap's estate, which has pretty good security, comparatively.

Icaria: "I am beginning to feel we have nothing to gain by intervening," I say.

Icaria: "I admit to being imperfectly invested in the satrap's fate, but it seems to me that if we succeed in springing the obvious trap, we still find ourselves surrounded by enemies."

Svetlana: "I feel uncomfortable just ignoring Lord Majal's request," Svetlana admits. "It's like, it doesn't create enmity, even, just endless awkwardness, which is worse."

Camena: "You need to get your priorities straight."

Icaria: "He is attempting to murder us. That is significantly worse than awkwardness."

Svetlana: "Is he?"

Camena: "We could always murder him. Maybe while dressed up as the other council members? I could be Jaspindar, if I could ever get a look at the broad."

Icaria: "I am no investigator, but I plainly see a future where the satrap is dead and Majal finds the bloody knife hidden in your coat pocket."

Icaria: "Everyone is shocked. I especially am shocked, when they tie me to the lightning rod."

Camena: "Well, then, we could always pull up anchor and let this god-besotten place implode. Already lost enough obols on the rotten city."

Vance: But Camena, what about the Jade Turtle Devouring Sun Tapestry?

Vance: It's beyond price!

Icaria: "I would rather avenge myself on the treacherous Majal, but I see no need to do it by following the trail of carrots leading into the carefully-propped-up box."

Camena: Camena groans at her own avarice, and also the ST.

Icaria: "Let's just disguise ourselves or something and find out his secrets from a secret lair."

Svetlana: "Mm," Svetlana says. "It's no good to just let the satrap die, so if you're confident that he plans to kill her, I suppose we need to investigate his house, office, and if we find nothing, monitor the approaches to the party?"

Svetlana: "Oh," she says, coming out of her thought. "Yes, that."

Icaria: "Perhaps we could locate the most likely actual assassin."

Svetlana: "Do you have any sorcery for that?"

Icaria: "Hm."

Icaria: "I could conjure forth a spirit of the air, to see without being seen and to hear all the voices upon the wind?"

Svetlana: "Mm," Svetlana says. "Yes, hearing all the voices on the wind is a good thought."

  • Svetlana turns on the persistent version of Unsurpassed Hearing and Touch Discipline.

Icaria: "Or possibly an oracle of scale and flame?"

Icaria: "It's said that the serpent-and-egg know all ill things, although honestly I kind of doubt it."

  • Svetlana commits either 6 or 8 peripheral motes, since she's using Night to muffle the peripheral.

Camena: 6.

Svetlana: "There are oracles?"

Svetlana: Svetlana sounds very aggrieved.

Svetlana: "Nobody told me there were oracles."

Svetlana: "You would think they would tell… Hesiesh wept."

Icaria: "Well, I mean. Their evidence wouldn't be admissible."

Camena: "And to think, I just thought this was going to be an easy heist. Now, they've made a mockery of my ship and got me solving a murder that I'm about to fake-do."

Icaria: "Ooh, fake-do!"

Icaria: "Let's just kidnap and replace the satrap beforehand."

Camena: "…that's actually vaguely inspired. I'm glad I came up with it."

Icaria: "We can protect her from harm, and if we get caught we can just say we were doing the hubris thing Majal wanted."

Icaria: "So, no awkwardness. Just execution."

Icaria: "Okay, who wants to become the new satrap?"

Svetlana: "I admit that there is a certain virtue to that audacity."

Camena: Camena looks at Icaria with an arched eyebrow, as if to say: no one is going to be but me!

Svetlana: "Flip a coin?"

Icaria: "Well, if people think you're an idiot, you might as well act like one."

Icaria: It should probably be Camena, but having Svetlana disguised as Evdeniya disguised as the satrap is hard to pass up.

  • Svetlana glances sideways at Camena's eyebrow. "Ah. Yes, that's fine, cousin, go for it."

Camena: "I mean, if you think you've got the hips for it, Icaria, I invite you to try."

  • Camena smiles at Svetlana.

Camena: "Why thank you cousin, I shall do my best."

Icaria: "But I'm still going to conjure a spirit of air and darkness, because now that I mentioned it that sounds really useful for all the stuff we just mentioned."

Vance: Gimme a binding roll.

Camena: "Fair enough. Best to know the lay of our Satrap's estate before we break and enter. Or, just enter, at least in my case."

Icaria: I shall spend ten motes, and roll eight successes.

Vance: That is sufficient!

Icaria: Thus conjuring forth Saphir, a newborn spirit of sweet night breezes.

Vance: You bind an ephemeral air elemental—presumably to the task of investigating Majal's residence and office in the satrap's estate?

Icaria: Hm, what do I want him to do?

Icaria: Yeah, I can get him to investigate Majal's place some time when I know he isn't there.

Vance: What kind of stuff are you interested in finding? This elemental guy can't read High Realm

Icaria: Why would I conjure a spying elemental who can't read High Realm?

Icaria: Why would I conjure an illiterate elemental under any circumstances whatsoever?

Icaria: I'm a librarian.

Vance: This poor baby is zero minutes old.

Icaria: Even the greenmaw can read.

Vance: It speaks Old Realm!

Icaria: Look, I'm not the spymaster.

Icaria: "Saphir, here are your aunts Evdeniya and Camena. Please defer to them as you would me. Learn what they have to teach as long as it isn't too dreadful."

Camena: "Are we supposed to teach the poor dear High Realm?"

Camena: "Because I don't speak that either."

Icaria: "I was thinking you could direct his efforts in spycraft."

Camena: "Oh, that's easy. You just lie!"

Camena: Camena is revealing herself to be in the Sterling Archer School of Spycraft.

Icaria: "I am not a spirit of air and darkness, please let me into your home?"

Svetlana: "I don't suppose, while we're engaging in a frenzy of subterfuge, that any of your summons can look like us?"

Camena: Camena, surprisingly optimistic: "That's a good start!"

Icaria: "Saphir can look like things but he doesn't have feet."

Vance: Saphir says his first words, an utterance in Old Realm meaning "Feet are inelegant and ugly".

Icaria: "Also he's obviously purple but at night that doesn't matter."

Camena: "Good thing the ponce-blooded all wear robes."

Vance: The air elemental volunteers that it could make its way in and out of anywhere unseen, but that it won't be able to bring back much else besides words.

Svetlana: I suppose Saphir could hang out near Lord Majal and listen for encounters with assassins, or, they could scope out the satrap's place. But both are pretty dangerous.

Camena: "Words are good. Memories are better. Do you think you could count some guards, note where they are, and give us a look at ingress and egress?"

Icaria: That seems reasonable.

Vance: "It should be easy enough. Boring, almost."

Icaria: "Please don't underestimate the Prince of the Earth. Although, if you stay well overhead you might probably be okay."

Camena: "Well, then: Our beloved patron, or our beloved fake murder victim?"

Icaria: Mm?

Camena: Who are we sending him to scope out?

Icaria: "I'd say both, but the satrap first, because frankly I'm more afraid of Majal."

Icaria: "Not that I don't have total faith in you, son."

Vance: "Thank you for your confidence, father."

Vance: Saphir fades into the nigh-invisiblity of the middle airs, and glides away.

Vance: Time to make some rolls for him.

Camena: "…well, here's to hoping he doesn't end up dead."

Svetlana: Was Lord Majal's office adjacent to the roof?

Icaria: :stuck_out_tongue:

Vance: The next day—the last day before you are appointed to meet with Majal to discuss your plans?Saphir returns to roost unharmed. He provides Icaria notes on guard rosters within the estate and a handful of openings and exits not already caught by Camena. "I was not able to spy on the Prince directly, father, but he had a conversation with someone I don't know. They weren't clever enough to check behind the door."

Icaria: "As you can see," I say, "he takes after me."

Vance: The elemental begins to recite a conversation between Majal and a female voice, recreating both perfectly from its unclosing jaw.

Vance: M: "—it won't be safe with her around. We'll need to be cautious… "

Vance: ?: "It's too late for that, now. I want to believe she's still herself, but… "

Vance: M: "I hope so."

Vance: ?: "She was the one who wanted to break into that god-damn tomb so much."

Vance: Jenna, make an absurdly high difficulty Perception + Awareness roll.

Svetlana: 9 motes, 7 successes. Unless the Unsurpassed Hearing I've been leaving on helps.

Icaria: That's absurd!

Vance: … well, I'll be damned.

Camena: Probably.

Svetlana: In which case, 8 successes and difficulty goes down 1.

Camena: o_O

Vance: You recognize the female speaker?not her voice, but the tell-tale pattern of her breathing and the signature of her heartbeat. You've heard it before. She was in the forest where the hellboar came from, although you never saw her.

Svetlana: squints "I should have known it would all come down to the hellboar."

Icaria: "No wonder he wanted to distract us from investigating her inappropriate executions, if they were confederates."

Svetlana: Svetlana will fill people in. Then, poking at memories, "I sort of remember that the smuggler who ran out of there said something about her, but I don't remember if it was anything interesting."

Icaria: "Something about letting hellboars hunt people, and then hunting the hellboars, and then hunting the people."

Icaria: "Why, is that a metaphor for our situation?"

Icaria: "…wow, that kind of is a metaphor for our situation."

Svetlana: "Well, I suppose it could actually be one of the prisoners I heard, who then suddenly ascended into Lord Majal's good graces, but it seems unlikely."

Svetlana: Svetlana ponders. "Good work, Saphir!"

Vance: "Thank you, auntie!"

Icaria: "You've made me proud, son."

Vance: "Pride is an ephemeral monument that finds no purchase on the shifting foundation of time, but thanks, dad."

Svetlana: "I suppose this only reaffirms that Icaria's plan is a good one, and oddly enough that Lord Majal's motivations are relatively benign. Although I suppose I may feel differently when he finishes setting me up."

Icaria: "That doesn't strike me as benign at all! People are opening tombs and possibly becoming somebody else!"

Icaria: "That's downright sinister."

Svetlana: "Yes, but he objects to it."

Icaria: "Lots of people object to stuff. All the devils in Hell are objecting to things now, because they aren't allowed to participate."

Svetlana: "I suppose that we should be prepared for the satrap to grow a second screaming ghost-head and black iron thorns when we kidnap her or whatever."

Camena: "It may be wise to revisit our strategy. If Majal is honest in his concerns, then… doesn't that mix up the odds?"

Icaria: "He's definitely not on the level with us. Let's find out something more about the satrap, and then we can use that as a hook to force him to reveal his true face."

Svetlana: "Well," Svetlana says, "honest is probably overstating it a bit."

Icaria: "Hm, when can we eavesdrop on a satrap who is possibly possessed by a crypt-thing or impersonated by a ghost or something?"

Icaria: "In the day? Does she go out by daylight? That's a super-important clue."

Vance: She's definitely not a vampire.

Icaria: Well, it could be relevant to ghost-related concerns.

Svetlana: "So it sounds as if he thinks the satrap is probably but not certainly possessed—which suggests, definitely changed—and he's planning to act on it at the gala. Icaria's theory is reasonably good, although I'm kind of bothered by his thinking it's not safe with 'her' there. If that 'her' is either the satrap or me, that probably rules out killing her and framing me. You don't generally say 'I want to kill Anaconda and frame Badger, but I'm not sure it's safe with Anaconda and Badger there."

Icaria: "I forget the relationship between ghostly overshadowing and sunlight, because that's not my field."

Svetlana: "I'm mostly wondering if he wants to try something like sealing this mysterious tomb or something and we're just the distraction."

Icaria: "He could have been talking about something else, like 'I'd like to just poison the satrap, but it's not safe with that magistrate there.'"

Svetlana: "There would have been a very easy way to avoid that."

Camena: (Hi all; it's getting really close to tomorrow for me, so I'm going to have to head out shortly. But I definitely am cool with y'all schemin' and plottin' and doing with Camena whatever is reasonable.)

Icaria: "Look, I'm not disagreeing with you; I'm just saying he's evil and therefore any logic that indicates that he isn't is wrong."

Svetlana: "I mean, if he was terribly concerned about my being there, he might have considered not inviting me. Or even inviting me but not insisting I attend."

Svetlana: Happy dreams, Elliott!

Icaria: "You're a threat to schemes in general while present in the city."

Vance: All right.

Svetlana: Svetlana buffs her nails modestly.

Vance: We probably won't get to the gala then, so in that case interim scheming is the order of the day.


Svetlana: Face my (mouth moves) Interim Scheming Kick!

Camena: Nacht, y'all. Vance: GG. Jenna and Rand: Cheers and be awesome.

Vance: Sleepy sleep!

Icaria: Thanks, Elliott!

Icaria: "Okay, Saphir. How do you feel about ghost satraps? Scared? Or scared… but interested?"

Svetlana: I mean, in general, kidnapping and impersonating the satrap is always a good plan.

Vance: "I only have a tenuous idea of what a ghost is, but I'm don't think I'm afraid of them."

Icaria: "Imagine if you didn't exist anymore, but you were still taking actions."

Svetlana: It's not really very dependent on the details of the circumstances.

Vance: "I've barely had object permanence for a day, and you're doing this to me, dad. That's utterly horrifying to imagine. I hate it."

Icaria: "Well, just find out if she's some sort of spookum, okay?"

Vance: "How do I do that?"

Icaria: "Uh… good question."

Vance: (Wanna introduce a fact?)

Icaria: Hm, a fact.

Icaria: "Well, obviously she'll have a negative reaction if sprinkled with salt. It doesn't do anything to normal people but even someone who just has a ghost in them will feel pain if you drop a few grains on her from above."

Icaria: Six successes, wow.

Icaria: That's the benefit of a classical education.

Vance: It's canon!

Vance: "So I just have to drop salt on the satrap? What if she notices me?"

Icaria: "Just sprinkle a bit on her and then run away."

Icaria: "If it burns her or anything, make a note of it."

  • Vance makes some more rolls.

Svetlana: "I don't think she'll react too badly even if she does notice. She's a seasoned professional."

Vance: A few hours later, Saphir returns in a panic, his body of tenuous airs shimmering in terror. "She saw me!" he yelps. "I did what you said, and it didn't burn her, but she looked right at me! She called for monks and exorcists! Father, I am to die."

Icaria: "We are all mortal. Even myself! In fact I have died several times before and spent milennia in darkness before finding myself Icaria Varus."

Icaria: "That said, I shall not permit you to be killed by monks."

Icaria: "That is the ultimate insult to my existence."

Vance: "Wait, you had previously characterized death as a permanent state."

  • Svetlana listens intently to see if the monks are in hot pursuit, as she estimates about 45/45/10 hot pursuit/no idea how to follow/show up eventually.

Vance: "If that's not case, then what am I even worried about?"

Icaria: "It's stable but not metastable."

Icaria: "In the event of your destruction, your elemental essence would merge with the energy of Creation and eventually be reborn in a new shape, but your identity as Saphir would be forever lost."

Vance: Svetlana is confident she'd hear the monks almost as they left, which they have not yet. Saphir is a sneaky, flighty thing.

Svetlana: "Unless you recorded it in a book, which a later elemental could read to absorb the identity as Saphir."

Vance: "How can I be "I", but not be Saphir?"

Icaria: "These are the questions that sages like myself grapple with."

Svetlana: Svetlana abandons her nebulous but hilarious plan to disguise herself as Saphir and lead them away.

Vance: "Does that mean I must become a scholar to truly understand what is good in life?"

Icaria: "It's likely, although you could also become a sybarite and enjoy the good without understanding it. Or a hero, who fights for virtue and may or may not understand it!"

Svetlana: "If I am pointing to a bowl on a table," Svetlana offers, "and someone replaces the bowl with another, then I am still pointing at a bowl on a table. In this fashion you may be yourself, but not Saphir."

Vance: "Hmm… a scholar would ask, "but where does the new bowl come from, and where does the old bowl go?" A hero would smash the table. I'm not sure what sybarites do."

Icaria: "Fill the bowl with intoxicating liquors."

Vance: Saphir discovers the experience of laughter.

Icaria: "Which is a good idea, but not now."

Svetlana: "I suppose we can ask around for information on this tomb, which is quite risky (unless it turns out that the satrap's house is a recent construction); or we can try to press Lord Majal for information, which has me feeling anticipatory frustration already; or we can continue our satrap-kidnapping plan. Any other notions come to mind?"

Vance: Icaria suddenly recalls his disastrous geomantic cast of the lay of Gloam.

Icaria: "The geomancy here is just awful. If this tomb is the cause, it shouldn't be that hard to deduce the location."

Icaria: "Especially if the change is recent. I can just compare the current state of affairs with documents from even a decade or so ago."

Svetlana: "Please feel free," Svetlana says. "If you need me to bother someone for the documents, let me know what they are so that I don't just bring you a decade-old pork belly tax assay, though."

Icaria: Let it be assumed that we do this thing, with Magistrate Evdeniya fetching the documents and me doing a quick geomantic survey.

Icaria: Eight successes.

Vance: Between the stunt and the records Svetlana turns up from the Realm's geomantic prospecting, add two more dice and a bonus success

Icaria: Two more successes total, then.

Vance: Okay so.

Vance: 10 sux.

Vance: You are literally blown back in your seat as you achieve a moment of perfect harmony with a wellspring of utter disharmony.

Vance: Only embers remain of the maps and charts.

Vance: You know a great many things.

Icaria: This is a very unorthodox librarian's technique.

Vance: You know exactly where the locus of this darkness, the "Tomb," can be found. It lies a few hours' riding out from Gloam proper, at the nadir of a series of caves kissed by cascading waterfalls.

Vance: You know that it is a place of geomantic power—a major demesne.

Svetlana: Librarians turn maps and charts to embers all the time, but they say they're out on "interlibrary loan." A paper thin justification! Has anyone ever seen maps and charts magically flying to a library? No!

Vance: You know that its aspect is not of any kind known to geomancy or sorcery—it has no part in the world of the five-element cycles.

Vance: That's about the gist of it.

Icaria: "Oh, gods," I mutter.

Svetlana: For timing purposes, how long till the gala?

Icaria: "Saphir, I'm fetching the wine."

Vance: In theory, one day in game.

Vance: It could be pushed back in-character so Elliott can play, or if y'all's plans barnstorm through it it may become irrelevant

Svetlana: Well, I don't think we're actually going to delve into the tomb without Camena.

Svetlana: That doesn't really feel like interim scheming.

Svetlana: It does seem like the three of us going to check it out might be next.

Icaria: I'd like to have a better idea of what it did to the last person who went into it.

Icaria: I dislike things that aren't my field.

Svetlana: Ultimately, it seems to have made her a bit salty.

Icaria: Well, I don't mind trying to abduct her just a bit.

Icaria: I think Vance may want to try out a few Dragon-Blooded combat builds at some point.

Vance: Is that where this is leading to?

Svetlana: Oh, yes, we should definitely do it in moderation.

Vance: I could probably handwave and say that Camena is being sneaky and doing ninja-like stuff.

Icaria: Icaria is much more comfortable abducting people than he is with necromantic pursuits, although that isn't necessarily a rational position on his part.

Icaria: Plus I don't have IPP.

Vance: Icaria actually would not classify the manse as necromantic

Vance: Not even close.

Icaria: Well, that's even worse.

Icaria: Things should stay in their box.

Vance: He's familiar with death Essence and the principles of Abyssal geomancy, and this is wholly unlike that.

Svetlana: Oh, so it's not a tomb, it's a bmot!

Icaria: I'm not really familiar with those things, but I guess I'm familiar enough to know that this isn't that.

Vance: Your textbook knowledge suffices.

Svetlana: I wonder if bmots and bon mots are related.

Icaria: Tell it a pun and we'll find out.

Svetlana: The opposite of a tomb is a good word.

Vance: Bmots are bon mots for behemoths, who gluttonously eat the e's.

Svetlana: So that's where the ees are vanishing to.

Svetlana: They're apparently a crucial part of our eecological system. :disappointed:

Vance: Maksim perches atop a bookshelf nearby, horfing down vermin. Small branch-like tendrils are beginning to grow out of it.

Svetlana: "Hey, Max." Svetlana smiles tiredly.

Vance: He makes appreciative predator noises.

Vance: (Incidentally, how many dots of Familiar is he?)

Svetlana: 3.

Vance: I will start posting some improvements into your sheet.

Svetlana: I have no idea if it's publicly editable or not. Or commentable. Or how to change it if not. Literally no idea whatsoever.

Vance: I think I can suggest, and then you can approve.

Icaria: I think the settings are under the Share button.

Svetlana: "How do you feel about kidnapping a satrap, politely interrogating her, and then checking out a tomb she won't tell us much about?"

  • Svetlana isn't actually expecting Maksim to understand this, though it's partly a continuation of her greeting. It's also partly a summary of her current thoughts to Icaria.

Vance: Maksim screeches fondly.

Vance: It's a screech that suggests bold action and whole-hearted endeavor. Or perhaps, morose resignation. Hard to tell.

  • Icaria goes to copy Emeraude's stats into his character sheet for convenient reference.

Icaria: I guess I'll have Emeraude and Rubean as familiars, and Saphir is just a bound servant family member.

Icaria: Hm, can I use the Twilight anima to summon spirit familiars I bought with Merit dots or acquired with Survival Charms?

Svetlana: "I suppose we should go the extra mile and figure out a disguise for you too, Icaria. Just in case the kidnapping goes wrong."

Icaria: "I could disguise myself as… I don't know, a normal librarian?"

Icaria: "Honestly, if I just leave my weapon at home and wear a hat nobody will recognize me."

Vance: @randbrittain Yeah.

Vance: Or at least, I'm gonna say yeah.

Icaria: It's certainly easy to keep track of, although it looks like it can't summon regular bound spirits.

Icaria: Still, being able to call on Emeraude and Rubean reflexively is still pretty darn good.

Svetlana: "I suppose it comes down to this," Svetlana says. "When you said you'd rather kidnap the satrap before investigating the tomb, were you thinking we'd say 'sorry, ma'am, we have to hold you for a while for your own safety' or 'tell us about the tomb and nobody gets hurt?'"

Icaria: "Upon reflection, I think I was grimly confident that once we had her tied up, events would proceed in such a manner as to make which procedure to take obvious."

Svetlana: "'Bwahaha, we are the evil Lord Majal and his sidekick, Moon Danger' is also possible, I suppose."

Icaria: "Or both!"

Svetlana: "I am not certain it will become obvious," Svetlana says, pensively. "If she is under a subtle mental influence, it may not display itself when she is successfully kidnapped."

Icaria: "I suppose you are correct."

Icaria: "But how then to find out what she knows while still retaining the opportunity to remove her from the scene later?"

Icaria: I may be too sleepy to consider the matter properly.

Icaria: Still, in aggregate we have plenty of suitably heroic options.

Svetlana: This may be true for me as well. I keep circling around the fact that I don't know anyone any of them would talk to about this even with perfect disguises, schemes, and social rolls.

Icaria: This is why I feel like the "introducing a fact" rules should apply to more skills than just Lore.

Svetlana: I want to pull a Leverage scam but I don't really know how to steal the tomb or even the gala site.

Svetlana: Though stealing the satrap is sort of ok.

Icaria: Hm, you want to steal the tomb?

Icaria: I might be able to work something out.

Vance: Hm.

Vance: You'd probably need a guy who knows the village's folk traditions.

Vance: Or a guy that knows what the dragon-blooded did last summer.

Svetlana: Well, I wanted a plan that would be headlined by Nate saying, "Let's go steal a tomb." but this literal idea is interesting.

Icaria: I was thinking more of some kind of ridiculous geomantic stunt that would force the land to shift and the tomb to relocate.

Vance: Ah.

Svetlana: It's true that if it were in Majal's office or at the gala site we could investigate everything more conveniently.

Svetlana: Annals of the Extremely Lazy Solar Investigator.

Icaria: Or we could just see who got really desperate to find it.

Svetlana: I kind of suspect something already got out.

Svetlana: And might not need the tomb any more. Or might not need to travel to it regularly.

Vance: Armchair Detective Prana.

Svetlana: That said, it certainly couldn't hurt to randomly throw the spanner in everything's works by moving the tomb. Well, it couldn't hurt much. I mean, it probably wouldn't cause more than one apocalypse. Two at the most.

Svetlana: At the most.

Svetlana: More likely, no apocalypses, just like 1.5 catastrophes.

Svetlana: Maybe even 5-6 lively mischiefs.

Icaria: Well, I will consider it over the next week!

Vance: Fare thou to sleepyland?

Svetlana: OK!

Svetlana: Happy dreams!

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