Nov 25, 2020 6:24 AM
yeerk ma'ar in golarion
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The shuttle is trying to find the person but can't, but also he may have successfully shot them, there haven't been additional attacks. The ship is still on fire. 

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Well, there's a lot of water right there. Does the shuttle have any other means of putting out fires? ...Also he's suspicious that the flying invisible person is not shot and is just either hanging back or en route to another ship as fast as possible.

They should maybe just get all the stunned but still-alive crew onto the shuttle and leave the ship burning? It'll make it harder for any hypothetical rescuers to figure out what happened. 

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They can start hauling people onto the shuttle, sure. The ship burns around them. There are about a dozen stunned survivors and in a couple of minutes they're piled up on the shuttle. All of them are human men, variously burned. 

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He joins them on the shuttle. They should head for orbit right away, get medical treatment for the humans on the main ship, and Yeerk them once they're stabilized. 

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Sure. 

 

What the fuck was that. 

Who are these people.

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<...I am assuming this was the advanced technology that we have been expecting to find. We will know more as soon as we have Yeerks for the captives.> 

If any of the humans aren't too badly injured and can take a Yeerk, Mhalir can morph Yeerk right now in Alloran's body and Yeerk them to get the information sooner. 

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Some of the humans are medically stable and basically uninjured, and information sooner sounds really useful! They'll also be at the ship in only a few minutes, but it might be good to know whether any of the advanced technology would enable, say, tracking them.

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He morphs Yeerk, waits to be brought to an ear. 

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They lift him up to an ear. 

 

This is a sailor named Ioannes; he's from Oppara, which is the city of the Grand Prince in the empire of Taldor. He's twenty-six and has been sailing since he ran away from home at fourteen and he knows, hazily, how the world works. There is magic. Wizards learn it from other wizards, as apprentices, you have to be clever to pick it up, and they can throw fire and turn invisible and powerful ones can teleport and become gods and stuff, he doesn't know much detail about that. Other people are born with it, it's called sorcery when it comes to you like that, and still others bargain for it with powerful beings from other planes, which isn't the sort of thing you should do at home, you're as likely as not to find you signed away your soul. Their ship had a ship's wizard, like most do, in case of pirates. He shouldn't have been able to fly far enough to reach another ship, most spells don't last that long, but he might've had Sending, which conveys a message, and maybe he could teleport though most ship's wizards can't. Their ship also had a priest, for clean water and good fortune. Priests get their magic from the gods. There are lots of gods but in oppara it's Abadar, of cities and trade, Calistria, of whores and vengeance, Cayden Cailean, of luck and drunks, Shelyn of love, Norgorber of crime, the Dawnflower who runs orphanages and soup kitchens and so forth... Gods determine where you go when you die, and they meddle in the world for their own purposes. 

This ship brings spices and tea to Oppara from Vudra, on this route. In Vudra people are brown and have their own thousand gods. Along the route there's Qadira, perpetually at war with Taldor along some border or other, and other satrapies of the distant Kelesh Empire, about which he knows barely anything. He is equally hazy on Taldor's own history, and on its other neighbors; there's Galt which is always having a revolution and Andoran which more sensibly had one and stopped and Cheliax which is ruled by Hell and Osirion which is mostly desert. 

He doesn't know the slightest thing about how magic works, but rich people pay for magic laundry and lighting and protection and powerful artifacts, and even poor people scrape together the money for magic healing, when they're injured or when a woman has just given birth and is bleeding out.

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Conveniently, in morph Mhalir can still use thoughtspeech even when a Yeerk, and pass all of this on that way, it's faster than making the human body speak. 

Mhalir isn't sure he has ever been this confused before. In some ways it fits, their 'magic' - presumably some form of tech, maybe one kept secret from everyone who isn't a 'wizard' or 'cleric' - could explain the various features of the star system they had attributed to the presence of an advanced civilization. But what about the gods, they could be entities from some co-existing more powerful civilization but that doesn't quite hold together yet. 

They should be at the ship soon and can Yeerk the other prisoners and see if any of them can fill in the gaps here. And then think very carefully about their next approach to the planet, because it's both incredibly promising and terrifying. 

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They get to the ship and move the captured sailors on stretchers. Most of them are medically stable; the burns don't look like fun but they won't be deadly. 

 

"I have the ...priest?" someone says a couple of minutes later. "I - what the hell - I have no idea how you'd do this technologically - they pray, for magic spells, and they get the magic spells - I haven't tried to operate it and I'm not sure I should because I don't think we want the god's attention -"

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<No, please do not, if we do not already have the god's attention I do not want to change that.> Mhalir directs that to the Yeerk and not the host, and then asks someone to restrain the prisoner he Yeerked so he can emerge and demorph and hand them off to someone else.

He paces. Collects information, trying to piece it together into a coherent picture. Wonders if there's anything they could even do about a god coming after them. Or whether the ship's sensors would see it coming.  

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"The gods are... powerful entities who primarily reside in other planes. They act in this one mostly through appointing priests and giving them powers. Occasionally they also send their servants or their heralds; very rarely they intervene directly. They used to have precognition but now they don't because it's - broken? This one follows Sarenrae, who has an unusually evangelical church that pursues ...generic nice things, as far as I can tell. They run orphanages, lobby for the rights of widows, try to convert people. People believe that which afterlife you get depends on which god you follow, and he believes that Sarenrae's afterlife is a place of eternal healing and compassion and that other gods torture their followers in pits of flame but I'm not sure he has much reason to reach that conclusion."

"That fits, actually," someone else says. "Mine left a country where they worship the Evil god Asmodeus and he in fact is pretty sure all Asmodeus's followers get tortured, in maybe literal pits of flame? They go along with this because they believe it's inevitable and improving and part of some grand divine plan, and it's somewhat pathetic to get all worked up about it, and anyway you get executed for wrongthink -"

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<Why do they even have evil gods. Do the others also believe in those - mine did not think specifically about it.> Pace pace pace. His tail swishes unhappily. 

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Alloran thinks that it'd be really entertaining if Visser Three decided to suddenly pretend he was against torture.

 

They get a tally. Most of the hosts believe in evil gods! Known evil gods include Norgorber, god of crime, and Asmodeus, the prince of Hell, and Zon-Kuthon, god of torture (Asmodeus tortures people but he is not specifically a god of it, it's just useful), and there's a goddess of disease someone once heard of, and there's Rovagug who eats planets and who all Golarion's gods worked together to imprison in the center of the earth (maybe metaphorically).

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Do they know what being a god of crime or disease even means - do the gods in question meddle to increase the amount of those things in the world? 

Do any of the captives have any idea where gods come from in the first place - were they made, born, did they grow or ascend from other less powerful entities...? 

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Some of them are ascended humans; there's a thing called the Starstone, in nearby Absalom, surrounded by trials and tests of worthiness, and if you touch it you become a god. Norgorber and Cayden Cailien both ascended that way; so did Iomedae, lawful good goddess of righteous war and the destruction of Evil (Alloran immediately decides he likes Her, and starts shouting for Her in case that works), and Aroden, god of humans, who is now presumed dead in the same incident that broke precognition. The priest of Sarenrae thinks She ascended from being an outsider of some kind (outsiders are both the thing people become after they die and other things native to other planes), and some gods are promoted or empowered by other gods, and the origins of some gods are unknown at least to this random group of sailors. 

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Mhalir doubts Iomedae would get along with Alloran at all, but this is the least helpful thing to say even if he were still in the habit of interacting with Alloran, which he hasn't been for years, so he keeps it to himself. He's both alarmed by and curious about her; this is also his main feeling about Norgorber and Cayden Cailien. 

- Gods can be killed? Do any of the prisoners know more about the Aroden incident that led to precognition breaking? 

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It happened about a hundred years ago, there were disasters all over the world, it's when the Worldwound opened, Aroden's clerics stopped receiving spells from him and also a huge share of the global population starved and Cheliax fell to Hell. People mostly don't know details because it was a hundred years ago and none of them are literate.

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Well that's disturbing. 

Mhalir gives the problem of what to do about this world some thought. They can't just leave, even if some part of him kind of wants to. 

<I think we should try to capture a wizard> he says eventually, half-grudgingly. <It will be dangerous, but if we plan it very carefully I thought it ought to be possible. They can resist stun beams, it seems, but probably not sedative gas - we should stage something far away, where no one is likely to have heard about the ship.>

Though the ship's destruction might not even be that notable to the locals, it sounds like a dangerous world where bizarre things are happening constantly. 

<We know wizards come in different power levels. Can we make any guesses about where we might find weaker wizards - strong enough to have interesting magic, but not enough to defeat all of our forces in a fight.> 

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They discuss. 

Some wizards are adventurers - mercenaries who travel in small groups and deal with monsters and bandits and dragons and such. Those are likely to be overprepared for everything, maybe including sedative gas. Militaries have wizards, too, who tend less wildly overprepared but could present the same problem.

Some wizards teach at the great wizard schools in Absalom and Quantium and Korvosa. Those are probably too powerful to mess with. Ships like these tend to have wizards, with narrow ships-wizard training but maybe that's still enough, and they mostly won't be powerful enough to defeat his entire force at once?

If they want someone with more comprehensive training but not a lot of combat preparedness they might want wizards who make magic items; it requires lots of knowledge of magic, someone vaguely believes, but it doesn't give you combat reflexes and they're not as likely to have invisibility and flight prepared. 

But wizards who run magic shops tend to have lots of security, because stealing from magic shops is astonishingly valuable if you can pull it off. 

You might want a recent graduate of a magic school, with all that up-to-date magic training but not a lot of experience or power yet, likelier than average to be still living cheaply alone and keeping a low profile. 

Or a retired ship's-wizard type who quit once they got old and couldn't take the long journeys anymore.

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The last two options sound good. It'll require a lot of setup and surveillance to pick a target. 

Do they know the locations of any major magic schools, now? They have local(ish) human hosts, now, which they can use for some of the information-gathering; Mhalir can also scout in morph again, if they know what cities to start looking at more closely. 

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None of these people know very much about wizarding schools; Taldor doesn't have them. Cheliax does? Two Chelish cities are Corentyn and Ostenso, which the sailors know of because they're major port cities, but they don't know if those have excellent wizarding schools in particular.

 

They should be careful while information-gathering. Mindreading is not common but it's possible and it'd notice the two minds and then they'll be in trouble. It similarly might notice Mhalir in morph, though none of these people know how exactly magic would notice that.

 

Alloran shouts for Iomedae louder, just in case that is why She isn't answering.

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...That's a very good note. Until they know more about how the mindreading works, they should be very cautious. 

- probably this world has bookstores or libraries, though the illiterate sailor who Mhalir briefly Yeerked didn't know much about that. Maybe would it be easier to steal books from one of those, and get more background context? The language will be an issue but probably their computers can make some progress on that, if they get a decent-sized sample of books, and they can also kidnap and Yeerk a local farmer to get the spoken language in the relevant region, that'll help with figuring out the writing even if the farmer they grab isn't literate. 

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They speak Taldane in Cheliax, same as these sailors speak (the dialect differences are substantial, but they're mutually intelligible especially along the coasts.) There are libraries and bookstores in major cities, often affiliated with one church or another.

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