Dec 04, 2022 7:56 AM
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When Beldry comes into view I jog over to help coax him toward the cart.

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Prota helps Glint get Beldry to the cart. 

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When you see Glint and Beldry coming over a ridge, you jog over to help bring Beldry back. 

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Step 61

Having practiced even a little with Beldry, Prota can speed the process along. The Player seems content with the accelerated pace of plot. The next prompts can detail the descent from the foothills to the encampment of Clan Pratchett, and the first impressions of the Utannic Road itself. 

(If the Player enjoys doing good for people, it would be suitably rewarding to conclude this encounter with a reminder of what they've accomplished.) Before leaving, Stala and his family thank Prota again. Zafton will try as well, though he is young enough that he can barely speak real words. 

The journey can be mostly uneventful, but should highlight some difficulties with Glint's wounds. Though properly treated, they still contain some magic of weakness and decay. 

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You help Glint retrieve Beldry and hitch him to the cart. The process goes significantly faster since you've got the most experience with both. After bringing the cart downhill, you load up your new materiel. It takes a bit of load-shifting, but you are able to fit the planks and wool on the small cart. 

Stala and Venir thank you again - even Zafton manages a "fanks f'r helping mom" before ducking back into the wagon. Then they load up and head onward, soon vanishing from sight beyond the ridgeline. 

It takes a few more days to reach the crossroads connecting to the Utannic. In that time, Glint continues his scouting trips and survival lessons, resting in the cart when not flying or sniffing around in animal form. His shallow wounds from the gallowgale seem to you to be healing normally, if a tad slow, but he seems unusually disturbed by something, looking them over critically and making grunts of disapproval whenever you change the bandages. 

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None.

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"It's not infected, is it?" I ask.

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None. 

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After some time, you ask Glint if he thinks his cuts might be infected. 

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Step 62

Glint is not sure what is up with the wounds, but he knows he should be healing faster. Glint has seen infected wounds before. (Some people are not comfortable with gruesome details of wounds. This will not be a run that involves substantial amounts of gore. Some details of festering wounds can be elided.) How might the signs of Nimue's Rot differ from an ordinary infected wound? The magic causes contagious decay. Afflicted cells respond weakly and sluggishly. Bacteria and viruses are not immune to the affliction, so their growth would be affected as well. Infected wounds include signs of immune response, like pus. Afflicted but not infected wounds would heal cleanly but slowly. Extremely afflicted wounds might worsen rather than heal, as the affliction spreads to nearby cells, but Glint's wounds are not that bad, and he is far from other sources of this magic. [Nimue's Rot is less dangerous outside the vicinity of heavily affected plants and animals.] Therefore, Glint's wounds are healing cleanly but slowly. 

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"No, I don't think so," Glint answers. He points out the shape of the cuts. "See how that's still clean? Infection comes with signs. Pus, spreading red marks, swelling, that sort of thing. We don't see that here. By now, any cuts this size should have either gotten infected or scabbed over, maybe even healed completely. These are just...slow. Slower than I normally heal. I've been staying in human form more than usual to get rid of these cuts, since I don't heal while I'm shifted, but it's still slow. I've shaken off stabbings, poisoning, burns, broken bones, you name it, but I've never seen anything quite like this." 

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None. 

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"Maybe it was... poisonous?" I suggest.

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None. 

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"Maybe it was... poisonous?" you suggest.

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Step 63

Prota is not far wrong. Nimue's Rot has qualities similar to poison. Glint can identify most common poisons not just by sight, but from personal experience, and would not recognize these effects. He will, however, suspect it is related to whatever was making the gallowgale act strangely. 

(The prompt should not linger too much on this scene, since the Player cannot reasonably guess the source without further clues.) Glint and Prota continue to the Utannic Road. Traffic increases and the road gets wider, more well-marked, and muddier. Prota's progress will not be significantly hindered since they have the planks and Glint's shapeshifting.

Glint definitely has an ox form. Does he have an elephant form? He travels widely enough that if elephants exist in this world, he might have encountered them. [Glint can only assume forms of animals he's seen.] (Using livestock familiar to the Player can help avoid confusion, but wild animals can be more unfamiliar as long as they are described in enough detail for the Player to understand them. It also helps if the creature's vernacular name reflects its features in some way.) If any elephant-sized creatures live near the Blue, they will either be capable of traversing a variety of terrain, or they will be in danger of extinction when the Blue corners them against unfamiliar terrain. Some elephants are adapted for jungle or savannah, but none for mountains. A more sure-footed giant creature capable of migrating gree might exist. [New creature: the gargant. Large but lithe, with strong legs whose front hooves double as weapons if attacked. Has a large club tail for balancing and defense. Vaguely equine face, with a neck shorter than a giraffe's but longer than a horse's, capable of eating a variety of plants. Dangerous and territorial, or it would be domesticated and/or hunted to extinction by migrating humans.] 

In addition to the routine challenges of daily travel, forage grows more scarce. 

Possible challenge: Clan Pratchett is on the move, heading gree. This means a longer journey between the clan and the next source of supplies, Orlake or Adwell. Why are they moving? They don't want to pass up a chance to sell livestock to migrating travelers in Adwell, so something must be motivating them. Clan Pratchett is an eclectic group, more welcoming of both outsiders and magics than the average settlement. Plausibly, they have forewarning of the trouble in Adwell and the Llerwood. [Some among Clan Pratchett have a knack for something like prophecy or clairvoyance, but their interpretations are unreliable at best. Pratchett fortune-tellers have said it is time to migrate gree, and the clan is on the move. Pastures near the Utannic and behind the clan are bare, but farther bluse and farther rise or set, grass is growing.]

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"Gallowgales don't usually have venom," Glint notes. "Then again, they don't usually go near wagons either. Too big and too strange for them. Whatever it is, I'd bet gold that it's got something to do with how that bird was acting - and why it was so hard to kill." 

Shortly after this, you reach the final crossroads connecting to the Utannic Road. The terrain is still somewhat hilly, but less so than before. The road widens and signs of travel become more common. As traffic increases, though, so do mud and wheel-ruts. A few times you have to break out the crossing-planks to make decent progress across a particularly wide patch of mud, even with Glint able to shift into strong forms to help push or pull the cart. Forage grows scarcer as well, and although you are still finding some edibles among the roadside brush, you have to start relying a bit on your supplies. 

In a few weeks' time, passing migrants tell you that you're near the encampment of Clan Pratchett. It's a bit sooner than you expected; they must be on the move. 

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None. 

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"Well, I guess we should go introduce ourselves," I say, "and see if there's any trading to do here."

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Prota suggests visiting Clan Pratchett. Prota has no further commentary on the wounds or trail problems. The Player seems to believe that "near Clan Pratchett" meant a matter of minutes or hours, though the intent was that they would be met the following day. [(To avoid misunderstandings, messages about travel time and distance should indicate approximate values where relevant.)] 

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You make plans to visit, and possibly trade, with Clan Pratchett when you arrive the next morning. 

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Step 64

The next prompt should begin to describe Clan Pratchett's encampment. (Good narrative descriptions involve multiple senses. Sights, sounds, smells. As the first non-home encampment visited, Clan Pratchett should have a unique and memorable style with multiple features that distinguish it from other groups and settlements.) [Relative to other migrant groups, Clan Pratchett is welcoming to visitors, diverse, weird, informal, and poor in wealth but rich in miscellaneous magics. Their primary store of value is livestock. Barter is more common than coin. The "market" is a simple collection of tents, carts, and stalls that are easy to erect and break down. Vendors sell food, tools, medicine, and items that help with the care of animals. Clan Pratchett is on good terms with Prota's clan, and although they may not know Prota personally, some clan members may know Prota's family, and many know Glint.] 

[In addition to essential trade goods, recreational herbs are common at Clan Pratchett, but not typically refined. Alcohol and various herbal drugs are available. Most are mild, but a few are banned in some cities, and therefore fetch high prices if smuggled. New drugs: mellowleaf, a mild recreational drug that dulls senses and lifts spirits, inspired by real-world marijuana; watchbark, a mild stimulant; grixroot, a potent emetic; "shuteye", a soporific tea leaf; wildbrew, a potent hallucinogen, and spirit stem, a medicinal cutting with effects similar to aspirin. Others may exist.] 

(While the overall tone of the adventure is intended to be serious, this region is relatively safe and can take a lighter approach.) Drugs can go by multiple names. Glint is not fond of mellowleaf because he dislikes its sense-dulling qualities. He refers to it as "daftweed". Its distinctive smell may be one of the first noticeable signs of Clan Pratchett. Some clansfolk will lead their herds out ahead of the encampment to graze, so Prota will see shepherds and goatherds with small flocks in the distance. During migration, clansfolk do not graze immediately next to the road ahead of the clan, since the less mobile herds need that space during travel. Prota should also see herding dogs doing what they were bred for, and hear the babble of voices and clink of tools. 

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Glint nods in agreement. "I spotted their smoke from the sky earlier. We'll be at their camp by tomorrow morning." 

After a final night's rest, you journey the last few hours to your neighboring clan's encampment. The first hint that you are nearing their tents is a musty smell on the wind. Glint wrinkles his nose. "Daftweed," he grumbles. "You'd think they have better things to do than smoke that sense-dulling herb." You notice a few small flocks of sheep and a trip of goats grazing the hillsides. Some of their watchers smoke pipes, accounting for the smell; a few wave at you as you pass. 

At last, you crest a rise in the road, and glimpse the encampment for the first time. A vast sea of colorful tents sprawl out before you, arranged in no particular order save for a collection of carts and stalls near the center. Livestock mill about on the fringes, attended by clansfolk and a number of deeply excited herding dogs. Even from this distance, the breeze carries a low chorus of clink-babble-bleat to your ears. 

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None. 

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"Well, I guess there's no way they want our wool," I remark to Glint.

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