For my second session as a player in the ongoing Rock’s Fall voice-chat playtest chronicle, Tepet Joselyn’s player returned to the group. Unfortunately, Touzen’s player had to leave the game for scheduling reasons, so once again it was a two-player session. In addition, for better or worse, the Storyteller fully revealed his penchant for low humor.
We headed up into the hills, to the site where we planned to start a new gold mine, to invoke the wealth-god Copper Road. The prayer to call him forth—which involved a lump of raw orichalcum glued to the bottom of a shoe—proved wildly efficacious (13 successes!), and he appeared posthaste. But he proved weird as gods go, demanding “shiny things” in exchange for his blessing, while exhibiting absolutely no interest in mortal prayer. When Joselyn and I studied him with All-Encompassing Sorcerer’s Sight, we saw that his Essence had been twisted somehow, in a manner beyond our ability to wholly understand or to reverse.
Given the god’s state, we dismissed our thoughts of promoting him to the position of the tutelary spirit of Rock’s Fall. Still, we expressed openness toward arranging a long-term bargain, and as proof of his divine abilities, he coated every road in Rock’s Fall with a thin layer of copper. Once peeled away, this proved a sizable quantity of metal, enough to be worth incorporating into future trade negotiations with local merchants.
Next, after I reconstructed the ritual to invoke the blessing of the agricultural god Seven Stalks upon the harvest, we gathered everyone, natives and mercenaries alike, to enact the rite in the context of a harvest festival. We brought out food and drink, arranged cooperative games, and made speeches about the future of the community. In so doing, we successfully inspired the crowd with joy, and instilled them with a Principle of, “Working together, we are stronger and richer.”
Once everyone had gathered and was in a receptive mood, we performed prayers and sacrifices to bring Seven Stalks among us. He turned out to be a very silly god indeed, with a penchant for stand-up comedy. Joselyn was soon irritated beyond measure and walked off. I overlooked the god’s odd behavior—and his offer of the strange beverage he called “tequila”—and arranged a deal. As with Copper Road, Seven Stalks was uninterested in prayer. Instead we would arrange a yearly harvest festival at which the god could perform his stand-up act, build him a temple, and cut him in on ten percent of the temple’s “door charge,” and in exchange he would ensure consistently rich harvests for Rock’s Fall.
(We didn’t actually use the [REDACTED] action here, despite the fact that that we were bargaining, because both sides came to an accommodation with which they were happy. No conflict means no rolling dice.)
After a brief stop in the rinky-dink city of Mercedes to investigate the merchant Adrian von Berger, who held a Guild monopoly on Mercedes’ foreign trade, on behalf of one of Joselyn’s contacts—a subplot with which I had little to do—we traveled down the Yanaze to Great Forks. There we meant to make trade arrangements to fund the Solars’ mercenary force, and to research why the gods of Mercedes were damaged and how they might be mended.
We soon found a consortium, Highmoon Shipping, that was willing to contravene von Berger’s monopoly. After some dickering, we agreed on a five-year contract to trade our surplus crops and gold in exchange for horses and cattle, and a steady supply of our copper in exchange for rhinestones—to supply Copper Road’s obsession with shiny things—and a modicum of silver.
(Once again, we reached an accommodation without resorting to the [REDACTED] action. Pressing for more might have undone the deal entirely by running up against a contrary fiscal Intimacy. We ought to stress test that rule, but knowing that it will stay out of the way unless we need it is a good thing.)
Next, in an effort to obtain more farmers to take advantage of Seven Stalks’ blessing, we visited the temple of a major agricultural deity. There we hoped that petitioners suffering from disastrous losses of crops or land might be willing to move to Rock’s Fall. Our generous offer—light taxation of net produce, with no ties of serfdom—proved irresistible, and the only trouble lay in weeding out potential troublemakers. (51 successes on an extended roll—impressive!) We wound up with 300 families of apparently upstanding farmfolk, whose move to Rock’s Fall we bankrolled with my remaining personal funds.
Lastly, we met with the savant Eight-Eyes, a bespectacled minor divinity with whom I had some ongoing correspondence. He expressed surprised when we inquired about the damaged gods of Mercedes, as we were not the first to come to him about that problem; he had received a similar inquiry a few months earlier, from a pair whom Joselyn recognized as two Abyssals that she and Touzen had encountered in the area.
Consulting his memories of the First Age, Eight-Eyes confirmed our hypothesis that long-ago Celestial Exalts had indulged in a feat of spiritual engineering to modify all the gods of the region around Rock’s Fall, and that the gods’ current damaged states were the result of some shared trauma. The damage could be reversed, he said, but doing so would require major feats of geomancy and soul surgery. We then procured a list of Solar and Lunar Exalts involved in the project in hopes of tracking down any notes they may have left regarding the process. To facilitate this, we asked for a list of their Dragon-Blooded lieutenants in case any of said lieutenants had borne away notes or other research material after the Usurpation.
Tepet Joselyn went on to jokingly suggest that perhaps we might find more information by exploring the ruins of Meru. On that light-heartedly suicidal note, we ended the session.
At no point did we push the system toward its limits, but we continued to get a feel for how the social influence rules functioned under normal circumstances, across a range of different dice pools. The social rules have more moving parts than I’d originally hoped, but fewer than I’d feared. And unlike a combat ruleset, where everyone needs to know how everything works, social influence runs smoothly as long as at least one person at the table is intimately familiar with the system.