mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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Oubliette: Session Twenty-Eight: The Black Mesas & the Diabolical Androgyne.

(Blue Glory the Nightmare Lotus; "Amala & Her Blade"by The Wooden King.)

(A Duke Slumberheart variant; Jitsu from He-Man.)

Sunday & I'm off to run my Oubliette campaign! I left the apartment wearing the Vriska Serket shirt that Edbury game me, so that was a good start to things. Got to Sam & Tracey's apartment, collected James, & we were ready to roll. Ready to role! We had wine & rugelach to tide us over till it was time for dinner, at which point we ordered sushi; all in all, it was full bellies & big imaginations. The recap for this session is going to be very picture heavy, since...well, I had a lot of pictures ready to go, & there was a "kabuki dream theater" interlude again, which is almost like a montage. Also, the players really generated a lot of the drama, which is my favorite; the narrative didn't progress that far, but that was because the character arcs deepened. Everyone took the threads of the story & wove something personal out of it, which is sort of exactly what I want from players. Above you can see a picture I found for Tracey, that reminded me of her character, & a He-Man character that has a lot in common, from the Japanese influence to the armored gauntlet & sword. Of course, his character is actually a Jack Skellington scarecrow, but it is cool nonetheless.

(The Praetorian Pfifltrigg; flight mode & normal; Photo by Mordicai.)

Last session had the party finally meeting up with the princess, Miss Glass, in the company of a highly placed religious official in the secretive church of Arioch, the Hierarchy. The players fought off an attack by a rival religious faction, holding them at bay until nightfall, at which point the princess' pet vampires crawled out of their coffins & butchered the surviving enemies. Our session kicked off this time shortly thereafter, with the little boy vampire-- Master Silk, the princess called him, though Duke Slumbering Heart Dwells in the Blue House recognized him as formerly Shang, the champion of the Order of the Cow-- disappearing silently when no one was looking. The group decided to climb through the catacombs & break their way out through a weak wall in the crumbling cathedral; the Grand Pardoner, Eldil, said he would break away to draw off pursuit, but insisted that Miss Glass take one of his Praetorians to help guard her. Concerned that he was undertaking a suicide mission, Miss Glass ordered him to stay alive.

(Mister Fleece; "Myrddraal" by John Seamas Gallagher.)

Before they leave, Curie First-Light of the Stormstruck Tower needs...a little medicinal pick-me-up. He was shot by a Heresiarch musketeer, clobbered by the enormous blind eunuch, & is utterly spent after using his raw lifeforce to shoot lightning bolts out of his anabaric cannon. The strange half-Karnak Atahwa had given them "moon lotus" when they parted ways, & Blue Glory the Nightmare Lotus gave hers to Curie, hoping its restorative properties would help. Curie ground it up & snorted it with a bump of cocaine. It wasn't a particularly great trip for him; largely a meditation on abandonment. A lot like how Blue Glory used to feel, come to think of it. Still, it caused a sort of self-reliance that was mechanically helpful, of emotionally harmful, & it certainly deadened the pain. In his addled haze, he sees a tall, bald, eyeless figure lean over to whisper in Mis Glass' ear, as does Blue Glory, with her supernaturally augmented senses. One of the vampires, invisible, counseling her.

(The Black Mesas; art by Nick Gindraux.)

They ride across the brambles of the plain, toward the Black Mesas (that was a joke, ha ha, fat chance), their eventual destination-- the eponymous "Blue House" of Slumberheart's name. Before the mesas block it, the party gets a long look at the fat BLUE SUN on the horizon, speculating that it looks much the same as the blue gates in the Terror Wolf Mob creche & in the Untergraf's labyrinth. Along the way, Miss Glass rides with the sometimes distraught Curie on the back of Fenrir Stormstruck, the Praetorian rides with Slumberheart on the back of the increasingly malicious White Bodhisattva Annointed by Rose Water & Carkoon rides on the back of Herakles Nightmare with Blue Glory. They have had a flirtation that, as time wears on, threatens to grow into something more. Carkoon-- a Demon Prince & a member of the Adeptus, both-- has publicly sworn his intention to marry the princess, Miss Glass, so we might be hedging into romantic tragedy, here. Not wanting to press on too quickly, the party stops for the night, hiding in a small ravine. Blue Glory & Carkoon's dalliance continues, though nothing happens; it is the sort of "nothing" of young sweethearts, hand holding & whispering to each other with their faces close together.

(Commisar Wondelone & The Unknown Champion; photo by Mordicai.)

On the second day, Slumberheart asks the Praetorian what his name is. "Uh...crumbs, I have a name for like, literally every single other NPC on these sheets," stumbles the DM. He's supposed to be a cross between a Navy SEAL & the British Queen's Guard, so I had planned on playing him rather laconic...but hey, a point blank question deserves an answer. Um, well, I've mostly been pilfering Out of the Silent Planet for the names of religious figures (& the John Carter books otherwise) so I went with "Pfig," which is short for Pfifltrigg. All pleasantries aside, the group spots an ambush up ahead; there are dust clouds on top of the black mesas, which they conclude are probably from musketeers looking to surprise them. Lucky for them...Pfifltrigg can fly. "For short bursts." He advances up on wings of soft light-- think the God Warrior from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind-- & the group continues along the winding paths, snaking around the ambush.

(Commissar Wondelone; "Lirianne" by Wayne Reynolds.)

(The Unknown Champion; artist unknown.)

They don't entirely evade the trap! As established, the Heresiarchs have been splitting themselves up into groups to allow for contingencies-- they expect to be tricked or outwitted, & so they plan accordingly. All thanks to the tactical mind of Commissar Wondelone, the gunslinger in charge of the musketeers & mamluks. She & the leader of the mamluks-- the current master of the gladiator's circus, the Unknown Champion-- spring out & put the screws on the party! Or they try to, anyway; it doesn't really work out in their favor. The Unknown Champion grabs Carkoon & holds him up like a shield, but Blue Glory, her crush in danger, leaps into the fray, holding the Unknown Champion's sword in her hand, fingers around the blade. "Stop," she says, trying to gentle him, to diffuse the situation...& then tugs, & failing, has her hand above the thumb sliced clean off. Curie blasts the Unknown Champion with a taser bolt, Agonizing him. Miss Glass, dismounting, says to Wondelone-- as the Commisar levels a brace of pistols at the princess-- "kneel," & the pistoleer does. The princess has some Dominate! Slumberheart, meanwhile, just throws his sword through the Champion's head. Slumberheart don't shiv. The singing sword exists in a sort of quantum Schrödinger state...until it collapses into "the Champion is dead." Wondelone, meanwhile, is weeping in the arms of Miss Glass, & has converted to their cause. (I didn't even get to blow up any of the mines I laid down! Or have explosions collapse the walls of the mesas! Don't underestimate the player characters, is the moral of the story.)

(The Blue House; City Palace, Jaipur, India)

We move now to the Blue House. A shifting place where truth is revealed. Truth; not facts, not reality, but Truth. The door is in the ground, almost like the entrance to a root cellar. They go in together-- Blue Glory & Carkoon are holding hands. Her good hand; not the bloody stump of half a hand. There are impressions, scattered dreams, visions, hallucinations.

(The Dream of the THRONE; "Sigil of the Empty Throne" by Cyril Van Der Haegen.)

They see a THRONE. Like the THRONE beneath the Weeping Thern, it is laden with significance. I ask the players to talk to me about it, to give me their ideas, their impressions. The details wash over everyone.

(The Blue House; Sean Hart, SHINE, Blue Planet)

Sam & James make Gin Pahits for everyone, & they delve deeper.

(The Dream of the Man in Black.; "Silence" by by Andrew Ryan.)

Who is this? Is this the Man in Black from the very beginning of the campaign? Is this a broken Slumberheart, consumed by leprosy? Is it Curie's Frankenstein-esque son, Tesla? They all repeat on a theme, an archetype. Who is the walking ghost?

(The Blue House; Sean Hart, SHINE, Blue Planet)

The Blue House shifts & groans as the party goes deeper, as things alter & follow stilted dream logic.

(The Dream of the FRUIT; "Treat" by Soey Milk.)

The Pearl Queen is eating a bright read fruit, her face smeared with blood. "The best outcome of the War of Iron would have been for the haemophages & the automata to create some kind of...hybrid..." muses the addled Curie First-Light.

(Tinidril; "Inner Demons" photos by Jerry Bennet, modeled by Manchester, styled by Alex London.)

Two Tinidrils are there. They have been haunting Slumberheart ever since he pricked his finger on the throne, like the "Head Six" from Battlestar Galactica. Before, there was one urging treason & one urging nihilism. Now, there are two urging nihilism.

(The Blue House; Sean Hart, SHINE, Blue Planet)

(The Dream of the Sword; "Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow" by Ayami Kojima)

The last oracular vision through the mists of time is the Pearl Queen girding herself for war. She knows now what the Man in Black wants. He wants to die. He has to be stopped. You have to stop him.

(The Blue House; Sean Hart, SHINE, Blue Planet)

& they come out. They have made it into the fractal labyrinth of the The Blue House. The corridors turn in on themselves; they are unassailable, unnavigable, & big enough to contain whole armies in secret. The Champions of the Adeptus are here, ready to lend their might to the cause of Miss Glass.

(Carkoon as Alchemical Rebis; "Succube" by Yayashin.)

Carkoon goes to change into his armor, to be ready to meet with all the other Adeptus Champions to pose as a team, & he asks Blue Glory to help him put it on. See, as important & symbolic as the tea ceremony is to the nobility of Anise, the levée is to the aristocracy of Arioch. As Carkoon strips naked-- because, of course Carkoon strips naked-- he reveals to Blue Glory that he is in face a hermaphrodite. Not intersex so much as the alchemical rebis, the divine androgyne-- or in this case, the diabolical androgyne. That explains why Carkoon was always so weird about having a tent & having a private space; he's been keeping that secret, most likely because of his ambition to marry Miss Glass. Revealing it to Blue Glory is a bit surprising, but shows a supreme level of trust. I didn't show this picture to any player other than Tracey, so she's the only player who knows about this. We'll see how it shakes out next session: we ended this one with Carkoon coming out fully armored, ready to rejoin the other Champions & Slumberheart. Next session will begin with that. So, the motif of "injury to hand" continues; in the last campaign Sam's character Damocles was missing an arm; in this one, Curie's arm was shattered during the Fall of the 101 & replaced cybernetically. James' character Slumberheart had his hand horrifically burned in the fire at the Sinagogue of the Last Supper & then had Curie make him a prosthetic gauntlet. What will happen with Blue Glory? Who can say!

(Carkoon in ceremonial armor; by Guangjian Huang)

(Map of Arioch ; made by Mordicai, click to enlarge.)
Tags: campaign3, maps, oubliette

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