RPG Crossing Home Forums Create An Account! Site Rules & Help

RPG Crossing
Go Back   RPG Crossing > Recruiting, Solos and Open Gaming > Open Roleplaying > Outplay Arena > Outplay 2019 > Outplay 2019 archive
twitter google facebook

Notices

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools
  #16  
Old 08-09-2019, 12:23 AM
Cereal Nommer's Avatar
Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer is online now
Mmmm, crunchy.
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 09-20-2019
RPXP: 4776
Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer
Posts: 2,419
Eugene
left-aligned image
"Hhhsss!" His plan worked better than he had any right to hope for; he barely splashed into the garish green goo. He ended up in a heap at the end of the darkened tunnel but given that he'd deliberately teleported into a glob of acidic slime he made it back out with only trifling impairment.

Which wasn't to say it didn't sting.

Eugene was unaccustomed to pain and his tolerance of it was abysmal. If he hadn't been trying so hard to keep up a brave face about it he would have to bemoan his fate. He went to stow his newly acquired potion in his belt purse and recalled he'd been carrying a potion for healing minor injuries and ailments for just such an occasion. Though in the murk of darkness that surrounded him he'd be unable to determine which of the potions he had was which.


As Eugene pondered the sensibility of simple drinking a vial at random in the dark, the gloom began to fade and he could identify his belongings once more. In the strange light of the tunnel he could see more than that however. Psyliana had fallen near him, battered, burned, and now scarred by acid, she'd clearly suffered so much more than he had to get this far. The dwarf that had saved her before was still nowhere to be seen, though that was to be expected.

"That was my last potion, and I did say I’d stay out of her way this time -- have you anything for the jerkface elf, boy?" He heard. So evidently she was still there, and could do nothing for their injured companion.

Even if he didn't understand the extent, Eugene realized he had coasted along in comparison to the other competitors.
By all rights that should have been me lying there. He thought, with unintended arrogance, for he truly should never have made it past the first test. What kind of hero would I be if I let her fall here?

As much as he valued his own comfort, he valued his ideal more. He'd been brought up to respect the concept of chivalry and decency demanded he help her, despite their competition or rivalry or even his own well being. Ignoring his own pain, a more noble gesture in his own mind than it might seem to an outside observer, he poured the contents of his healing potion down Psyliana's throat.

Another lesson, I'm surprised came in handy. He mused. I never expected I would actually come across a situation where I'd want to force an unconscious woman to drink something, but I guess that old hag knew what she was doing with her lesson plans.


When Psyliana came to he told her "You might want to consider carrying some of those yourself in the future." With a cheeky grin before heading off down the tunnel to catch up, presumably to where Berthe had gone off to.



Deeper and deeper the tunnel went, Eugene was glad when the dwarf reappeared and he could follow her clearly superior sense of direction in the cavernous stone. He wasn't quite able to Got ninja'd again at the last minute. My post was almost done too. keep up. He was glad to final see something other than natural rock as the approached the room at the end, but his excitement was short lived.

A riddle?! What kind of challenge has riddles!? He wondered as the runes revealed their meaning. Hard ones of course. Did I really expect they would make someone a member of the Nine if they couldn't solve a riddle. He chided himself. The dwarf was already sharing her entire life's story with the stone, which he wasn't confident would be helpful.

There was nothing for it now but to puzzle it out himself. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Maybe means to add something together to make it bigger? He thought, a Berthe's words subconsciously influenced his thinking.
Your strength alone will now allow you to pass. But I'm not very strong, well what about the next part.

All who would enter must share their very essence to open the way. My essence... well I'm rich and handsome... but I already share my pretty with the world... I didn't bring much money though. I don't know if telling the rock my life story would make any sense though.

If any withholds, all will fail. I need to give something? Maybe? I can't give up, I at least need to make a good guess. No, a great guess! He concentrated hard. "If only..." he muttered, trying to talk his way through the conundrum, "if only there was a strong way... to literally throw money at the problem... to make it bigger..."

right-aligned image
Deep in thought he considered his options, and then... "I've got it!" He cried. Reaching into his purse he pulled out a brilliant yellow diamond. "I was planning to use the for a component for one of my trickier spells," he said. "Though I've heard one can use an ordinary diamond, I find it easier to use one that's already magical. I think it's worth spending it to solve this confounded puzzle though!" He said smashing into the stone floor, from which emerged a hulking humanoid figure.

"Now, my large, strong, money minion, smash down that door!" He ordered.


 

 
__________________
Currently GMing: The Fate of the Mushroom Kingdom
Currently playing: Pendo in The Thunder of the Soul Forge

Last edited by Cereal Nommer; 08-09-2019 at 12:31 AM.
  #17  
Old 08-09-2019, 01:44 AM
AlphaP's Avatar
AlphaP AlphaP is online now
Dragon-obsessed Wizard
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 09-20-2019
RPXP: 2122
AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP
Posts: 1,026
Psyliana Amastacia
left-aligned image
It seemed Psyliana had prematurely celebrated her victory. The wind kicked up once more and knocked her back onto the acid one last time as she attempted to evacuate the tunnel. She thought she would be fine, but something inside her broke at that moment. The trauma from her less-than-elegant crash into the building, plus the sudden shock from the acid across her back, was enough to recall the darkness into her vision.

No! Not again, not now!

The elf sank to her knees, desperately trying to stay awake. How? How could she have fallen so much? She had an immaculate track record back in the elven realms, had run assignments far more dangerous than a corridor of challenges without a scratch. Was she simply not challenged enough in her homeland, and sorely underestimated the tasks? Were the Nine intentionally pushing her down, did they regret their decision to invite her? Or was it a god, punishing her for her hubris?

Please, stop this! she mentally cried out, her mind about to slip once more and desperate enough to bargain with something that might not even be there. Whatever being has seen fit to torment me, stop! I just want to help, to protect, to…

The thought never finished, as Psyliana’s plea was cut short by her slumping to the floor, out stone cold once more. She was not entirely asleep though, as her now slightly delirious mind continued to remind her of some of her actions. Like pages of a book, memories flipped through her unconscious head: of demanding her competitor switch to a different task just because Psyliana felt she would be more effective with one already chosen, of talking to the dwarf about the ineptitude of their fellow champions even though they constantly proved otherwise. Of directly insulting both Eugene and Berthe at the beginning of this gauntlet, despite not having information on the later and having seen the proof of the former’s skill. These specters tormented her last moments, as her body struggled with the massive amount of repairs to be made, its resources almost completely spent.

And yet, Psyliana’s eyes reopened once more and once again gazed upon a face that had chosen to spend its resources on her. Too weak to even say anything to Eugene as he assisted her, the elf desperately tried to stand once more. It took her a while to crawl back up onto her feet, but at least she was alive. The thoughts that had run through her head still haunted her, and she stayed silent for the time walking up to keep up with those who were far more generous than she.

At the pedestal, Psyliana’s mind immediately began analyzing it, her scholarly nature kicking in full force. But, while she needed to take the time to analyze it, she could still experiment a little. So, what was the approach? The now-elvish script on the pedestal must be a clue of some sort.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts… not mathematically correct, but its meaning is clear. We must work together to solve this.

Your strength alone will now allow you to pass. Contradictory to the last statement, but it might be referring to something other than our powers.

All who enter must share their very essence to open the way. The strength must be an inner strength, then. And it must be shared, so it is either something sacrificed to the shrine or something given to each other.

If any withholds all will fail… we must be unanimous in the correct answer, and we must not be cheap with our sacrifice


While she pondered upon this, the other two already tried an approach. Berthe took it to mean give of one’s inner thoughts, their “essence” being their secret truths. Eugene, on the other hand, decided that he should try and brute force the problem. Still puzzling over the solution, Psyliana decided on a course of action.

"Eugene, call off the elemental,” she said, her voice soft and somewhat uncharacteristic of the wizard when explaining. ”We must be unanimous in our efforts, and I feel that Berthe has found the solution. This alter cares not for our physical or material things, that much is clear. It seems to require a sacrifice much more personal.”

Stepping forward, Psyliana detached a wooden, rune-covered rod, her old arcane focus, from her robe and held it above the alter.

”I have had this rod since my acceptance to the Academy. Even though I have far better tools and enough skill on my own, I always kept it with me. It was given as a reward, for being the most promising up and coming mage. It represented my potential, my skill, my…” her voice paused, ashamed of the next word. ”superiority.”

Her hand shook with the rod in it, as though unable to let go. Psyliana gritted her teeth. Why was it so hard to let go? It was not even that useful, but it meant so much to her. She remembered the moment when the headmaster handed it to her in front of the assembly, the feeling of euphoria as she was displayed to all as the best. It was a feeling she wanted to feel for the rest of her life, and a spark was carried with the memory.

Psyliana took a deep breath, and allowed it to fall on the alter. She placed her hands on the indentations of the sphere and began to pour her essence forth.

"My name is Psyliana Amastacia. Ever since I was old enough to think, I have always sought to be the best among all. I would never settle for second, and I was skilled enough to achieve that. My intelligence was praised since my youth, and I was one of the youngest to ever enter the academy. I was almost immediately recruited for a special honor: being a bladesinger. I was chosen to be a protector of my people and protect them I have. I have stopped countless threats and have been declared a hero multiple times over. It was I who stopped the hobgoblin invasion. My work is praised, and my studies are duplicated for many aspiring wizards.”

”And I am a fool of the highest order.”

”Every step on my path, I have looked down on everyone else. I looked at you two and thought you unworthy fools, people who never had any business being here. And yet, it is you in your generosity which allowed me to stand here now. I though my skill would be enough to protect me, that these ‘petty challenges’ would be unable to touch me. And yet, I have fallen twice now.”

”Even since my childhood, I have been a prideful fool. I sneered at anyone when they did not spend as much time in a book as I did. I would always tell the other children how stupid they were, playing when they should be studying. All that time, I thought that people disliked me because they knew I was better. It was because I was, I am, a jerk.”

Psyliana’s voice began catching and tears welled up in my eyes. ”Did I become a bladesinger to protect, to be something useful for my people? No, I did it to boost my ego. I thought it was my right to be given special honors, and of course this position would bring new laurels. You would think that the difficulty of the training would have beaten some sense into me, but my pride only fed on it. I thought I was invincible, that I could overcome every problem.”

Tears begane to roll down her cheeks as she finally recognized the gravity of her pride. ”It was always said that it was my master, my teacher, who came up with the plan to dash over the hobgoblin hordes and strike at their command tent. I suggested it. I thought that we could handle anything, that some goblinoids would stand no chance against the greatest elvenkind had to offer. It was because of my pride that my master died.”

The elf’s voice became broken by sobs of guilt. ”Berthe, you say you believe I would do the same for you, but would I? Would I really, having been insulted, sacrifice myself to help a competitor? Or would I simply chalk it up to me being more worthy, and walk away? I… I don’t know.”

”So there you have it. My true essence. A prideful wretch whose heart is so drunk with her own success, that it killed her master and almost killed herself. Take of me what you will.”



 


 


 


 
__________________
I have taken the Oath of Sangus.

Last edited by AlphaP; 08-09-2019 at 01:49 AM.
  #18  
Old 08-09-2019, 08:30 AM
Wynamoinen's Avatar
Wynamoinen Wynamoinen is offline
Eternal Bard
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 09-20-2019
RPXP: 16557
Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen
Posts: 5,493
The pedestal and the doorEugene now shares his potions with Psyliana, and she rises once more, groaning. This day's trials have been brutal on her. The trio heads through the winding tunnels. Berthe sees that they are old, almost impossibly so. The ruined Labyrinth above could easily be multiple millennia old. At least 1200 or 1300 years, by her estimation. But it was built atop these tunnels, which are vastly older yet. There are clearly dwarven techniques being applied, but the stonecunning used is inelegant. The passages barely constitute "smoothed caverns". They strike her as an art before history. The Door to the Nine must be buried in the very bones of the earth.

At the pedestal, Berthe suspects a mistranslation. There is something to that. Eugene summons an elemental, which assails the door to less-than-nil effect. The door is unmoved, and shards fly off the elemental itself. If strength is the key to opening the way, it's not THAT kind of strength. Something more personal, more innate is demanded.

Berthe sets her book upon the orb, and lays hands upon it. She pours her heart out, and she holds nothing back; she offers all. Her family, her dreams, her shame. The orb glows a green light, and for a moment Berthe is unable to take her hands off the orb. She glows that same green glow, and then her green glow migrates off of her body, and into the orb. Her hands are released, and Berthe loses FOUR, yes, 4, points of WISshe feels as though she has lost something profound. Her green slight swirls around the orb.

Berthe removes her book, and Psyliana places her rod on top of the orb in its place. She lays hands on the orb, and she humbles herself. She reveals her fears, her failures, her pride. She permits the orb to take what it will. Now Psyliana can not remove her hands. The orb glows a bright yellow, almost white in its brilliance. That brilliant yellow wraps Psyliana, and then is taken from her. Her hands are released, and Psyliana loses THREE (3) points of INT.she feels dimmed.

The glossy black orb now swirls with two energies, green and yellow. The door shudders as if it wants to open, but the orb refuses it. All who would enter must share. None may withhold. The women, drained, look to each other in their shared vulnerability. Then they look to Eugene. Will he give, and will he give ENOUGH?
OODMAs usual for a Friday update, from here you all will get two more posts: the one in response to this update, and one in response to my weekend update. I hope to get something up on my usual timeline of "mid-morning EST" tomorrow, Saturday. But I'll be at the family lake house for the weekend, so I may experience delays.

 
__________________
GM of Uncaged: Our Fair Maidens, a folklore-inspired D&D 5e one-shot adventure module.
  #19  
Old 08-09-2019, 06:08 PM
oztk's Avatar
oztk oztk is offline
Yankee in the UK
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 09-20-2019
RPXP: 5551
oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk
Posts: 1,354
Extreme MomitudeA thrill of excitement passes over Berthe as the orb glows green, then passes to her, in this chamber as old as history. This is what I became an adventurer for, this is what I dreamed of.

But as the green light leaves her, and returns to the orb, it takes something with her. It’s a bitt like having her extra-strong potion pulled out of her by the anti-magic field; the high of her excitement is instantly shattered, she’s left feeling flat, dizzy. The world is colorless. Sounds, smells, touch -- it all feels muted, subdued, distant.

Psyliana’s words cut through the haze, though, make her feel. The pride was all too recognizable -- World’s Greatest Treasure Hunter? What had she been thinking? It felt like the wish of a lifetime ago, of a different person. Berthe’s tears returned as the elf talked about her master, and her role in her death -- there was someone she’d left behind, left to their death -- a beardling...what was his name? She couldn’t bring only the haziest outline of his face to mind, mostly just remembered that he was fat. He’d been more important to her, she knew, knew that this was some side-effect of whatever the orb took from her.

When Psyliana steps down from the pedestal, Berthe can see that she’s experiencing a similar loss, and lifts off the ground and flies up to her, puts her arm around her, gives her shoulder a gentle squeeze (anything more seemed too much). "Maybe you would have saved me, maybe you wouldn’t -- it doesn’t matter. You’d save me now. It feels like a loss, what the orb did...but maybe it's a gain? We did it. Well, almost..." and she tips her head towards Eugene.

Eugene -- she doesn’t know what to say. Freya never listened, why would this soft human boy? Anyway, Psyliana said everything already. So Berthe says nothing. She frowns, shakes her head slowly, gives him that mom look -- you know the one, "I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed" -- and points towards the orb with a tired sigh.


 


 
  #20  
Old 08-09-2019, 10:47 PM
Cereal Nommer's Avatar
Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer is online now
Mmmm, crunchy.
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 09-20-2019
RPXP: 4776
Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer
Posts: 2,419
Eugene
left-aligned image
The orb in the center had started swirling with energy. Eugene's solution had clearly been inferior though he didn't know quite why. The other two seemed to have it figured out though and he understood well enough to follow their lead.

Puzzle solving was tricky for him at the best of times, but luckily there was someone there to solve the puzzle for him. There was always someone to solve puzzles for him of course. Everything always just happened to work out for him, and trying to do things his own way usually just ended badly.

He kept stubbornly trying to make things happen, rather than just allowing the world to accommodate him.
Which was exactly what had landed him in this situation.


His summoned Elemental was completely ineffective, and Psyliana had said they must be unanimous.

right-aligned image
"That's enough!" He told it. "You go through the stone to scout ahead a bit. Then come back and indicate if there's danger on the other side of the door."

"Return quickly, I might need you to confess your innermost feeling to this altar if the door won't open after I do." He added as it turned to leave.

Assuming the swirling essences meant the other had figured out the puzzle correctly, he approached the altar as he'd seen them do and placed his hands on it. "Hello orb, my name is Eugene de Gesincourt, third son of Reginald de Gesincourt." He began, feeling awkward but feigning confidence. "And least important of his house."

He wouldn't let himself hesitate so he just let all his insecurities pour forth.

"I was the unnecessary spare heir, and nothing much worth mentioning until I came of age. Then, as is the ancient custom of the visiting courtiers of the fey courts I was granted a series of blessings of great worth. More than my own worth I dare say. I owe everything I am to beings more powerful than I who shaped my image, my grace, my very words are not my own." He admitted. "My looks are hardly but a glamour become real, my voice is filled with a true magic and eloquence not mine but granted to me. I tried to learn to make use of these gifts, to make myself great. They did so through no credit of mine."

"In truth I should not even be here. If not for my family's great wealth and station I'd never have caught the attention of the Nine. Nor would I have passed even the least of the challenges. My expensive trinkets that helped me succeed were gifted me. The spells I cast worked themselves through magic given me, not learned. Even the skills I've used..." And here he did hesitate. To admit even his actions, his choices, weren't of his own efforts but selected for him and placed at his disposal meant admitting he was irrelevant. He could have been anybody... nobody even, and it would make no difference.

"I never would have known to use them. I was coached in every thing I've done this entire trial. Saving children, defeating enchantments and answering in kind, even avoiding being caught in muck... all of it was trained into me. I've been left almost untouched by things that have devastated those far worthier than I, and what harm has befallen me was due only to my own idiocy." He said bitterly.

"My brothers... I always felt their gifts outshone my own." He continued. "But it didn't really matter. I was envious of what I didn't have, but it amounts to much the same thing. Strength, courage and health, or insight, wit and patience... whatever form these gifts took would amount to much the same thing. I may be special, but I'm not exceptional. My path was easy and effortless. I didn't choose to walk it, I took it because it was laid out in front of me."

He felt a burden lift from himself as he finished his confession.
"I've had everything handed to me my whole life. I'm not meant to be a hero. I'm not meant to be anything, I'm just pretty to look at, and I wasn't even meant for that."



 

 
__________________
Currently GMing: The Fate of the Mushroom Kingdom
Currently playing: Pendo in The Thunder of the Soul Forge

Last edited by Cereal Nommer; 08-09-2019 at 10:57 PM.
  #21  
Old 08-09-2019, 11:47 PM
AlphaP's Avatar
AlphaP AlphaP is online now
Dragon-obsessed Wizard
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 09-20-2019
RPXP: 2122
AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP
Posts: 1,026
Psyliana Amastacia
left-aligned image
She knew it had to be something more than a confession. That was why she had told it to take what it willed; but it did not make it feel right when the orb reached into the elf, its magic going straight into her mind. Those last four words, take what you will, echoed within her mind. The fear of anticipation crept into Psyliana’s mind. It would be enough, certainly. But would the sacrifice be worth it?

Psyliana shuddered as the magic pulled away from her pulling part of her with it. As soon as the bond which bound her hands to the orb released, the elf stumbled back, her hand rising to cup her head. It was not painful, but something was definitely wrong. It felt numb, like an arm when it had been slept on. She felt as though a fog had rolled into her mind; everything was still there, but it was obscured. Of all adventuring dangers, it was this one that she had never encountered. It was also losing intelligence that Psyliana feared most.

”No. No, no, no, nononono!” The elf muttered, slumping against the wall, immediately fearing the worst. She was a wizard; to lose intelligence was to lose her capabilities her power. Cautionary tales had been told of careless adventurers who had become little more than animals, and that thought caused the elf’s breaths to become rapid with fear. But, she was still thinking, wasn’t she? She had to remain calm, take inventory. Yes, that was it.

”The Weave is the essence of magic, which can be… used, by…” the elf began mumbling to herself, recounted random magical facts and trivia. It seemed she was able to complete every thought, but she would stutter and stop often, rolling her hand as though turning an invisible gear every time she got stuck. It seemed that she had to step her vocabulary down, seemingly going for larger words but instead using smaller ones. But she had not fully forgotten, it was just hazy.

It was still sobering, to lose what you have spent your whole life honing and relying on. The emotion from her confession carried into a mourning of loss. The tears continued to flow, until the dwarf floated over to her to console her. Psyliana stood up and embraced the shoulder of the dwarf, as a soldier would another to comfort. She was still a protector of her people, even if she was no longer as great.

”Berthe, I do not know how much solace this will be, but your prowess is not only imaginary or a dream. You are already a great adventurer. I am honored to be your companion. I just had to have some sense knocked into me to recognize it.”

As Eugene walked up to the pedestal, Psyliana watched, already predicting that the pedestal would take his charm. She listened, and there was a grim humor to what was likely to happen. Eugene longed for a chance to prove he was something more than the enchantments granted to him by the fey. The pedestal was about to give him that chance.



 


 


 


 
__________________
I have taken the Oath of Sangus.

Last edited by AlphaP; 08-10-2019 at 12:00 AM.
  #22  
Old 08-10-2019, 07:49 AM
Wynamoinen's Avatar
Wynamoinen Wynamoinen is offline
Eternal Bard
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 09-20-2019
RPXP: 16557
Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen
Posts: 5,493
The pedestalBerthe and Psyliana share a moment, two very different women going through the same awful trial.

Eugene sets his elemental burrowing away from the door. It has an easy time punching through the primal earth for about six inches, but then the resistance becomes much heftier. It is not simple stone, anymore, that it tries to work through, and its not clear that it will be able to make much more headway.

Eugene pours himself into the orb - his nobility, his grace, his insecurity. He becomes wrapped in an elegant purple light, Lose three (3) points of CHA permanently.which then passes into the orb, mixing with the yellow and the green.

The orb pulses gently for a few moments, and then the thick metal door without a handle swings open silently, and the group passes through it.
Portal to the Nine
left-aligned image
Entering the door, you come to a brightly lit chamber with two other doors identical to the one you just entered. They are not yet opened, but you can hear someone trying to open one of the others. In the center of the room is a freestanding stone archway which contains a portal of pure light. Next to it stands the smiling form of Rostamoinen. There is no sparkling transparency. This seems to be the arch-mage himself, smiling and in the flesh.

"It seems I have chosen you well." he greets you, a look of pride filling his face.

"You have done well to get this far, my friends. And so it is that there is only one obstacle remaining until you may come and meet with us at the Square of Nine."

"Our members must be willing to give the Nine everything. They must willing to sacrifice everything they have if they are to sit at the Square of Nine. You have given up much already, it is true. But it is not enough. It is never enough, for such responsibility. And so I lay before you my last challenge." he says as he looks deeply into your eyes.

He produces an ornate knife. He reaches out, as if to hang it on a hook in mid-air. It does indeed hang there, suspended.

"The Razor of Uduk-Khulakh will take all that you give. If you wish to join us, you must be willing to give yourself for the greater good. Now is the time for you to decide: what are you willing to give? How much of your lifeblood do you keep for yourself, and how much do you now devote to the Nine?"

"We will chose our new co-equal from those of you, here, who pass this last test. I wish you luck, and I hope to see you soon." The wizard steps backwards through the portal of light, leaving the adventurers alone in an empty room. It seems obvious that the portal will not admit anyone but him, just yet.

Another sacrifice. He asks for 'lifeblood', and produces a knife. This does not seem particularly metaphorical. Since we're pressed for time, I will explicitly lay out the nature of this sacrifice. The knife does not do you damage - when you touch it and "use" it, you will not lose any CURRENT hit points. Instead, you will lose MAXIMUM hit points. If your present hit points are 2 out of 65, the question is: how much will you reduce that 65? Please make that mechanical choice clear, somehow, in this, your last post of the round. He appears to actually want blood..

 
__________________
GM of Uncaged: Our Fair Maidens, a folklore-inspired D&D 5e one-shot adventure module.
  #23  
Old 08-10-2019, 02:36 PM
Cereal Nommer's Avatar
Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer is online now
Mmmm, crunchy.
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 09-20-2019
RPXP: 4776
Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer Cereal Nommer
Posts: 2,419
Eugene
left-aligned image
Eugene looked on as the orb took his "essence" and realized, what he was losing wasn't even his. He own feelings and ideals were nothing compared to the magic that suffused him and had made him what he is... was.

The orb took his strength, his self, and it wasn't even him.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It had said. Did it mean without his blessings, without being whole, he was less than even what the magic had been on its own?

"Well, I guess I did figure out the puzzle." He muttered after he staggered back from the orb. "I really am irrelevant..."

The magic wasn't gone, not entirely. He hadn't intended to hold back, but the energy still pulsed within him despite being much subdued. He wasn't sure how to comprehend the sensation other than feeling something within him seemed to be clinging to his soul.


"Just go home." He dismissed the Elemental.
It wasn't needed now, if it had a story to tell this wasn't the time or the place. The stone, despite seeming natural wasn't yielding to it and physical strength didn't seem to matter much anymore.

Nothing much seemed to matter anymore.

He walked toward the door, his false confidence shattered. He was a sham and everyone could see it now.

I wanted to learn to be strong on my own, and instead I learn that I'm nothing without more help than I deserve. He thought. I wanted to learn not to be selfish, and instead I ride on the coattails of others. Even when I help someone it only brings me closer to the finish line. What did it hurt me really, giving up a potion or some magic dust, a few kind words, a bit of magic that shouldn't even be rightfully mine.


He stepped through the door with the others. Feeling dejected and unworthy even to give of himself, his true self to open the way.

"It seems I have chosen you well." Rostamoinen says smiling as they enter.

He's barely listening, the test doesn't seem to matter anymore. What would it even accomplish to have a seat at the Square of Nine.

To prove he can be a great leader? Far from it, the Nine seem powerful but not likely to be truely respected so much as feared.

To be more powerful? With someone else's strength again? To prove, to himself at least, that his journey meant nothing?

"Our members must be willing to give the Nine everything. They must willing to sacrifice everything they have if they are to sit at the Square of Nine." He hears the arch-mage continue. "You have given up much already, it is true. But it is not enough. It is never enough..." It was true.

He'd given up his hopes, his blessings, his deepest most innermost secrets... and it wasn't even close to enough.


He stepped forward and took up the knife. "It is never enough..." He repeated. And plunged the blade into his own chest.

You want my lifeblood? Take it. He thought as he collapsed to the floor. I don't need it. Clearly I'm not putting it to good use anyway.



 

 



...






"Not that much you moron!" Eugene heard as he bled out. He finally realized what that unusual sensation was.

"Stupid simpering brat! Pe-channas! Dôl gîn lost!" The hag cursed. "You know how hard I toiled?! How long I plotted and schemed! I was to have a meek servant on a seat of the Square of the Nine!"

He could do nothing as she launched into a tirade against his very soul.

"I practically handed it to you!" She screamed. "And you threw it all away right at the end!" She confirmed what he had believed, he'd been just a disposable tool. Flashy enough to get the attention of the Nine, and ignorant and foolish enough to manipulate to her will.

"I should have known you'd turn out to be worthless!" She spat in her fury. "I don't know why I'd ever expected anything of you!"

At least in the end, he thought I did something right.
__________________
Currently GMing: The Fate of the Mushroom Kingdom
Currently playing: Pendo in The Thunder of the Soul Forge

Last edited by Cereal Nommer; 08-10-2019 at 02:48 PM.
  #24  
Old 08-11-2019, 01:15 AM
AlphaP's Avatar
AlphaP AlphaP is online now
Dragon-obsessed Wizard
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 09-20-2019
RPXP: 2122
AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP AlphaP
Posts: 1,026
Psyliana Amastacia
left-aligned image
The change over the prince was instantaneous; the glamor of the fey fell, revealing his true form underneath. It was still most certainly Eugene; but, now, the dust and grime of their journey had caught up to him. His hair, once ever in place and flowing in the wind, settled into somewhat of a mop around his head. Truth be told, Psyliana preferred this version of the bard better. The sugar-coating of Fey gifts was just a bit too obvious for the elf’s tastes. But, it seemed that he felt even more defeated by the loss of his charm that in having it.

Psyliana, now with newfound desire to repay for her pride, wished to console him. To tell him that he wasn’t irrelevant, that to prove this seemed to be the purpose of the test. Her sudden lack of clarity, however, caused the elf to second-guess herself. Was it really? Perhaps Eugene was not as down as he appeared? So, Psyliana said nothing.

As the trio progressed into the next chamber, Psyliana’s spirits rose significantly. They had made it! They had made it to the doorway! It should have been a time of celebration, and the archmage seemed to be in a similar mood. But it was too soon, and the Nine had yet another challenge to throw at those who wished to join their ranks. Another sacrifice, but this time they seemed to have a choice in the matter. This time, it was will they wished to test.

Certainly another puzzle! The wording must mean something, some hint as to what it required. Oh! If only that pedestal had not clouded my mind! Psyliana thought, trying to get the now sticky gears in her head turning. There was a meaning, she just had to find it.

Before Psyliana was able to come to a conclusion, Eugene took the knife into his hands. This shocked Psyliana, but it was also pleasing; Eugene, having doubted himself, was taking the initiative. As he plunged the blade into his own chest, Psyliana was thinking of how to congratulate him. To say she was sorry for every time she had put him down throughout the competition. And so, she watched the gory scene of blood pouring out of his chest, wondering just how far he would go.

And she watched.

And she watched.

And she watched.

”Eugene, forgive my saying so, but you have more than proved yourself. You are not irrelevant. Just, don’t die trying to prove it. Please.”

And she watched.

And she watched.

And she watched.

Until she could no longer stand still. Wondering from what well the princeling drew such fortitude from, Psyliana walked around Eugene until she could see his face. To look into his eyes, see whether it was duty or spite or hope that compelled him. The eyes could tell all.

And, in the eyes of Eugene, Psyliana saw nothing but despair. And Eugene fell to the floor.

”EUGENE!” the elf cried, flying over to the bard and clutching his shoulders, desperately shaking him out of his depths. ”Eugene, you are not irrelevant. You are not worthy. You saved me when I had done nothing but shoot you down. You are infinitely more worthy than I! You are more than what was given to you! These tests, they weren’t about our skills. I see that now. Everything we did, it was about something more! You passed these tests! I’m sorry I ever called you a fool! I’m sorry I said you couldn’t handle this honor! I’m sorry!

The only response from the bard was his arm dropping from the knife, leaving it embedded in his chest. Psyliana instead grabbed the handle and tried to pull it out of him, sobbing over a new source of guilt.

”I’m sorry!” She pulled, no response. ”I’m sorry!” Another tug, the blade seemed stuck in the chest of Eugene. ”I’m sorry!” A third tug, and this time the blade came free like a knife through warm butter. But Psyliana knew it was too late. Eugene had truly given all up.

”No, not again!” the wizard cried, memories breaking through the fog the pedestal had summoned in her mind as she fell weaping on the chest of the fallen. Of her, off handedly, commenting on the reliance of bards on others when Eugene had dragged the wyvern to her. Her statements earlier, of how this was not something Eugene had any part in. ”Why?! Why must my pride cause yet another death?!”

Perhaps Psyliana was giving herself too much credit, but there are few who would dispute that her statements contributed to the problem. But now, she stood there, the knife in hand. It was now her turn to give tithe to the Nine.

Her hand performing the odd tick she had picked up with her loss of intelligence, Psyliana began to think through the problem. There always was a solution, often staring them in the face. They expected something specific. Perhaps Eugene had, inadvertently solved the puzzle. Perhaps it required literally everything they had to offer.

Would the Nine really demand we kill ourselves, just to prove commitment? Psyliana puzzled, not sure even her full mental faculties could find a clear solution. I know they said they cared not for moral concepts, but this seems too far, even for them. But, they can raise the dead…

The thought of sacrifice brought an old voice into her head. Her master, once, had spoken on this subject. In one of her spats of pride, Psyliana had once accused other bladesingers of not devoting enough; for, they would often take time away from studies and training to relax. She accused them of not understanding the noble sacrifice that all protectors must perform. Her master had chastised her. ”Yes, we sacrifice, and so do they,” the elder said, ”but of what use is the sacrifice if we lose sight of why we do it! We sacrifice so that all may live in peace, and sometimes enjoying that peace allows us to understand just why we sacrifice! Someday, you will understand.”

Psyliana thought of Berthe’s story. She had sacrificed her past, her family, her home, all for a dream. And she had lost sight of what she knew was important without that link. The sacrifice had consumed her, and in turn it had brought nothing but hurt for everyone involved.

It was then that the elf gained clarity. The Nine made as though they were above the world, but each still were connected to it. They all had their enjoyments and desires, and that was why they sacrificed. To ensure that this world lived on, so that others could experience such things as well. Had they sacrificed their connection to the world, then they would have not been capable of the things they had done. It wasn’t about sacrificing everything, it was about sacrificing everything you can; to do that, you had to have an anchor, something that gave your sacrifice meaning. Something that allowed you to keep on sacrificing.

Thus, as the elf pushed the knife into her own chest, she gave everything she could. Every ounce of vitality she had left, except for one speck. One measly little string to hold her to the mortal world. If she gave her whole life, then her sacrifice would have to be enough, for she would be unable to give more. But if she kept herself anchored, then she would be able to keep sacrificing. Yes, it would never be enough… so long as she had life to give, she would give it to the protection of her world. But that required there be something to give. Thus, Psyliana sacrificed everything to the Nine, present and future.





 


 


 

 
__________________
I have taken the Oath of Sangus.

Last edited by AlphaP; 08-11-2019 at 01:16 AM.
  #25  
Old 08-11-2019, 09:40 PM
oztk's Avatar
oztk oztk is offline
Yankee in the UK
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 09-20-2019
RPXP: 5551
oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk oztk
Posts: 1,354
Going homeEugene’s words to the orb were heartfelt, but Berthe was still reeling from her own encounter with it to truly be touched by his plight, and as with Psyliana’s speech, the strongest reactions were to the parts that seemed to describe her own story: “what harm has befallen me was due only to my own idiocy.” What an idiot she was, to ever leave her family, ever leave Flintknap.

When he’s done, she does manage a more enthusiastic hug than she did for the elf. He was only a child, and she had long practice of setting aside her own emotions to comfort children. She manages a trite "It doesn’t matter if your gifts were given, if you were trained -- it’s what you do with it." but her heart isn’t in it.

* * * * *

What am I doing here? I need to get home…

Seeing Rostamoinen in the flesh sends a panicked jolt through Berthe. The waxed mustache, greasy eyebrows, the shiny pate, the chilling “It seems I have chosen you well” like he’d selected a particularly delectable steak from the butcher -- she may have freed herself from her over-active imagination, but it hardly takes a fantasist to be drawn back to the call to adventure, to that first vision, to the fateful moment that she’d written to her family and told them that instead of coming home she’d be following this, this -- madman instead.

Now that she’s been divested of her dreams, everything since that first moment feels like one. The beardlings she saved, and the big one she couldn’t, the wolf-bites and the capering, clowning goblins, the long hard voyages, the companions left along the way and with her now, Kalas and the acid -- all of it up to the orb feels like a terrible nightmare that she’s now woken up from, screaming.

I was on my way back to see them. I could be in my kitchen, now, stew on the fire, Magnus and Freya telling me about their days, their gloriously boring days, over flagons of my ale.

She doesn’t scream. Without her dreams, she sees things more clearly, the rose-tinted glasses are off. Rostamoinen, The Nine -- they’re clearly insane. They nearly killed Psyliana twice, they had killed who knows how many children. Mice? Maybe they were children that the Druid turned into mice after the fact, I wouldn’t put it past these freaks.

She can’t scream. Berthe only wants to get home, now, and screaming would jeopardize that. They were hardy just going to let her turn around and go home at this point, were they? “They must willing to sacrifice everything” -- those were the words of a cultist. No, she couldn’t just ask to leave, couldn’t turn to run -- they’d kill her, surely. The only way out, for now, was forward. Play their game, be what they wanted.

And they probably didn’t want a screamer.

* * * * *

I need to get home, how do I get home…

Berthe’s too busy pondering how to escape to take the knife first. Too busy plotting, planning, to notice how far Eugene is taking this.

Only when Psyliana speaks up does Berthe realize what’s happening. Though she turns ashen, and purses her lips, she doesn't cry out as Psyliana does -- (I need to get home. They won’t let me go home if I cry. Maintaining balance, preserving the universe -- can’t do that while crying). She thinks instead of another suicide.

She was only a wee lass - four? five? - when her mother had called for her, on her deathbed. Berthe hadn't understood what was happening, that a fistful of arsenic was too much for even a dwarven constitution. The candles by her mother’s bedside, the heightened emotion of her father -- she'd thought it a holiday, her birthday. She’d asked where the present was.

“It was not enough. It was never enough”. Rostamoinen's words may as well have been her mother's. Berthe and her father Charles hadn't been enough for her. She'd dreamt of balls and palaces, the heaving-breast romance of novels. She'd had affairs, borrowed more than she could afford to spend on the latest fashions, but it still wasn’t enough. When the debts came due she’d killed herself rather than face the shame.

She’d been dangerously close to following in her mother's footsteps, Berthe realises now. If she’d still had her imagination, would she have given her whole life, as her mother had, as Eugene had? She's not sure, she's not that person anymore, she can’t understand how she’d thought, why she was here on this quest in the first place. The wild fantasies are gone, all Berthe wants now is to return to her family.

Steady girl. No crying. You’re going home.

* * * * *

If in Eugene's death Berthe saw her mother's, as Psyliana takes the knife she sees her father. Emma's death had ruined him. A simple man, Charles had had no clue of her infidelity, of her debts. No clue even of her unhappiness. He’d loved her simply, deeply,

Berthe had found him slumped dead less than a year after her mother died, had thought he was playing and pushed his corpse over. Berthe thinks Psyliana is headed the same way as her father, killing herself from guilt, from despair. She longs to plead with Psyliana, as the elf had pleaded with Eugene, but again, it’s not in the plan.

You need to go home. Be hard. Be what they want, so they’ll let you go home.

Only when the elf has finished does Berthe come forward, and rather than support or comfort, her voice is hard, offers only judgment (Be one of them. Be one of the Nine. Be what they want) "You fool girl. You're still breathing, but you're as dead as the boy. There's more competitors left, a challenge remaining. You’re no good to The Nine in the state you’re in. No healing potion's going to bring you back next time you’re hurt..."

Her voice was harsh, but her face was still soft, motherly, straining to undercut her message, to show Psyliana some compassion.

Don’t hug her. Save it for your family. You’re going home; they won’t send a hugger home.

* * * * *

You’re going home. Do what they want, so they let you go home. Give them some, just enough. You’re going home.

Berthe breathes deeply as she takes up the knife. She doesn’t really need her strength anymore, she’d give it all, as Psyliana did, if she thought it’d help. She’s done adventuring, wants nothing more than to settle down again with her family. But she couldn’t make it home like that, much less past whatever else The Nine had in store. There was no point in passing this challenge if it meant she was doomed in the next one.

How much? I’ve no healing left...give them everything I’ve already lost. I've used my potions, they're not letting us rest -- I’m not getting it back anyway…

Rather than plunge it into her chest, as the others do, she rakes it quickly, harshly down her arm. She passes the knife to other hand, and repeats the quick slash on her other arm.

Then blood dripping down her arms, she walks toward the yellow portal, waiting to see what happens.

She’s not planning on dying, not like the two poor fools she’s with, but she wants to stop, take out her paper, write another letter her family, just in case. But The Nine wouldn’t look kindly on that . "You must be willing to sacrifice everything"...that must include families. Stay strong, Berthe. You’re going home.

So she writes it in her head. Her vivid fantasies may be gone, but she can still manage an imaginary letter.

* * * * *

Dearest Magnus, Darling Freya,

You’re enough. More than enough. Always were, if I hadn’t been too blind to see it.

I was broken, sick, but the diseased parts have been cut off, and I’m whole now. Or I will be, once I’m back in your arms.

I love you. I’m coming home.

Berthe


 


 
__________________
Eventually: DMing an Eberron 5e game...
  #26  
Old 08-15-2019, 11:52 AM
Wynamoinen's Avatar
Wynamoinen Wynamoinen is offline
Eternal Bard
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 09-20-2019
RPXP: 16557
Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen Wynamoinen
Posts: 5,493
The DoorAfter all the adventurers engage in the perverse bloodless bloodletting, the portal begins to glow brighter and brighter. Finally, it flashes with a blinding intensity. When the light diminishes, the room is empty.
OOCAfter consultation among all the judges, our awards for 'mechanical' success in Round 3 are as follows:

Character Obstacle 1 Obstacle 2 Obstacle 3 Obstacle 4 total
Berthe 50 55 70 70 245
Eugene 45 60 50 60 210
Psyliana 25 50 60 60 195
      
Ikol 65 50 60 65 240
Kayne 65 60 45 55 225
Vordur 45 60 45 50 200
__________________
GM of Uncaged: Our Fair Maidens, a folklore-inspired D&D 5e one-shot adventure module.
Closed Thread

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:02 AM.
Skin by Birched, making use of original art by paiute.(© 2009-2012)


RPG Crossing, Copyright ©2003 - 2019, RPG Crossing Inc; powered by vBulletin, Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd. Template-Modifications by TMB