So, a quick summary of the first session of my first post-Kickstarter-PDF Ex3 game.
Note that the table’s mood seesaws quite a bit between immersive and game-y. This is partly because we’re still getting used to the system and sometimes need to focus on rules at the expense of atmosphere, which should smooth out over time. But it’s mostly because we’ve been playing a somewhat goofy beer-and-pretzels D&D for six years now. Also, the rest of the group is self-admittedly poor at naming NPCs, which is where we get NPC names like “His Holiness Mouth-of-the-Fish,” “Yueh Pork-on-Water,” and “Vince Smar.”
Anyway! The game is set in the city of Randan, on the islet of Randan amidst the river Randan, flowing from the highlands of the great Western island Randan. (See the previous note about issues with names.) Aoki Sanrei, Twilight Caste sorcerer-swordswoman of the Potter’s Lodge, was returning to her homeland aboard the vessel of Night Caste smuggler-prince Von Der’Harr. On landing, they learned that Sanrei’s dead family had been killed on order from the royal palace for purported meddling with demonology (which was news to me), and that their bodies were going to be cremated inside ceramic coffins and thrown from the cliffs in a shaming ritual that very night. Sanrei cut a deal with Von that he would help her recover the bodies in exchange for free rein to loot the halls of the Potter’s Lodge proper.
For assistance in gathering information and infiltrating the Lodge, they visited the ornate pagoda of Blood on the Petals, the city’s most beautiful courtesan—and, though they didn’t know it, also an Eclipse Caste Solar (and the third player character). Together they hatched an unnecessarily overelaborate plan involving forgery, disguise, seduction, and a couple of barrels of firedust.
Von led the crew in disguise as a grandee of the Potter’s Lodge, bearing a tablet of authority crafted by Sanrei. He was accompanied by his bodyguard, the sea-spirit Vince Smar. Sanrei and her cousin Kumanni, both clad as members of Randan’s caste of mysterious, masked street-cleaners; and several crew members carrying long boxes. They opened one box to show the Lodge guardians a selection of extraordinary ceramics—knocked together by Sanrei in an afternoon—that were ostensibly a gift for the Lodge. The other boxes contained fresh human remains (I don’t know where Von obtained them) to substitute for the dead Aokis, their body cavities packed with firedust. Finding the ceramic coffins in which the Aokis were stored, we replaced the bodies and resealed the coffins.
Meanwhile, Blood on the Petals enthralled the Yueh elders with her dancing, then drew Madame Yueh’s husband, Pork-on-Water(!), away from the bulk of the Lodge’s residents and kept him entranced until Sanrei could arrive from her other tasks. Petals persuaded Pork-on-Water that a threesome with the “street cleaner” would be delightfully decadent, then left the other two alone in the Yueh elder’s chambers so that Sanrei could unmask, intimidate the man into revealing intimate details of the plot against the Aoki family, then terrify him so thoroughly that he died of fright.
Petals and Sanrei repeated the process with Madame Yueh, isolating her in a basement workshop, where Sanrei extracted further information on the plot and the location of her kinfolk’s bodies in exchange for agreeing to let the Yueh elder live, then immediately breaking her word by throwing the old woman into a fiery kiln. Meanwhile, Petals climbed to the roof to observe the shaming ritual, at the height of which the ceramic coffins—heated to cremate the remains within—exploded from the firedust stored inside them, sending shrapnel through the crowd and signaling Von’s men to start looting amid the resulting chaos. While those inside the Lodge seized every valuable in sight, several dozen more henchmen outside incited the people to riot, preventing Lodge and palace troops from intervening effectively.
Sanrei came away from the attack with the names of the remaining conspirators—the master swordsman Strife Yueh; three palace functionaries; and the mysterious Perfumed Man, who had kicked off the plot by offering to purchase the bodies of the Aokis and bring them to his masters in Skullstone. Von raked in a sizable amount of wealth for himself and his crew. And Petals’ seductions in the Lodge had garnered her four gorgeous masterwork pots, which she spent the wee hours of the morning arranging in her pagoda’s foyer.
We spent a good bit of the session playing around with the social influence system and adjusting Intimacies. At the end, everyone got a full suite of Solar XP, which was good. I’m usually averse to variable XP systems, as I hate being left behind or seeing someone else left behind, but that’s not an issue in Ex3 because the rewards aren’t zero-sum.