Hi everyone! I’ve been rereading Keith’s adventures so far, and there’s something I don’t like about it. It moves too fast; there’s too little placing of the characters in the world and too much plot movement. It made sense to me as I was playing, but I bet as a reader you’ll just end up confused.
I’m hoping to change that as we go along. I’ll still play as you’ve seen me write stuff up, of course, but when posting time comes I hope I’ve edited things a bit so the posts read more like a ‘lit RPG’ than an actual play report. Ironsworn is all about ‘the fiction’, after all, so having more ‘fiction’ than rolls should actually improve the experience for both the reader and myself, the player.
I think today’s post is, due to how close the deadline is, still not as well edited or written as I would like, but this is something I hope to consider in the future. In other words, while I’ve been having a blast playing, I haven’t considered how it would look like for somebody reading all of this without prior knowledge. I apologise for that. Since I realised this one day before the deadline this post may not seem like I’ve done much towards that, but rest assured that I am absolutely trying my best to make sure future posts are easier to read, and places the reader in the world and amidst the action so that you actually care about the outcome of the game. As it is now, I know it’s hard to care, but hopefully with all these changes we can make something good. I did warn you that I’m new to this whole blogging thing. Some screwups and mistakes were inevitable, but we’ll improve as we go along. Okay, on with the game.
Zooming across the rust coloured desert of Sanadris, Keith is thankful that the settlers thought to fit their speeders with environmental controls. Otherwise, he’d be inhaling the planet’s corrosive atmosphere due to his enviro suit being ripped to shreds by that giant bug thing. He took a look down at the wounds Xang had treated in the aftermath of the fight. It was rushed, true, but competently done – not something so common now in The Forge, since most of their medical equipment (and know how) was lost in the Exodus. Keith smiled involuntarily, despite the ugly wound. It warmed his heart to know doctors like Xang existed still – those who want the give the best care they can.
The northern exit of Paragon Stand loomed in the horizon. Having left from the settlement from that very same blast door shielded cavern, Keith found himself feeling relieved at the familiar sight. At his present speed, Keith would make the underground settlement within five minutes. Along with some goodies, Keith glanced back at the crate full of weapons he had taken from the shipwreck. The thought of the weapons ruined his mood a bit. For every selfless soul like Xang Toi there would be hideous reflections of humanity like the Cult of Dreadspire, those who would force all to think as they do – or die.
Back at the Dust Runner hideout, Keith cracks the crate open and pushes it towards his new agents. “Don’t say I never done anything for you,” Keith jokes. “Status report. What’s been happening since I was gone?”
“We managed to make a shortlist of people we suspect to be linked to the cult,” Kaz said, looking over the selection of guns that was now being laid out on the table. “We’re monitoring their chatter and trying to make sure we have all the right targets before we close in.
“Anything interesting you pick up on that eavesdrop?”
“Interesting doesn’t cover it, Colonel,” Talia Valentino, the Dust Runner with the gripper for an arm, said. “We’ve discovered that Overseer Jones has managed to smuggle in a large cache of weapons into the settlement. Your guns helped level the playing field, when it was supposed to give us an advantage.”
“We can take that advantage back, I feel,” Keith said. “Do we know where the cache is?”
50/50 – Yes. “We’ve managed to pin it down to this warehouse,” Talia points at a map of the underground settlement, “somewhere near the landing bays.” Keith’s eyes follow her finger. Paragon Stand was larger than he thought. He had seen the landing bays, and maybe some parts of the topside layers, but there were many levels deeper than he realised. Their target was somewhere in one of the topside levels he’d been to, but in an area he had never been to.
“Right,” Keith barks out orders. “Talia, you and the rest keep working on the cult. Get names and movements of any suspicious people, and somebody keep a tail on the Overseer. Kaz, you know where this is?”
“Then pick some of our guys and we’ll hit the gun cache. Remember – if the cult wants it, we can’t let ’em have it.”
The Weapons Warehouse
“D’ast,” Kaz swore. “Place is guarded tighter than a fort. There’s no way to sneak inside.”
Keith didn’t need to be told that. They had left after the settlement’s dark cycle for maximum cover, moving quietly in the shadows, guns tucked under their jackets and clothes. It was supposed to be an extra precaution – the warehouse district where they were headed was usually empty. One stood out however, as men with guns stood patrolling its perimeter.
“Well, Colonel?” Kaz asked. “We can do it loud, or we can do it quiet like.”
Keith didn’t answer immediately. He was busy watching the patrols of the guards, judging their lines of sight, checking whether a place was safe to move to. He was busy examining the warehouse up and down, eyes crawling every inch of the plasteel structure, noting each window, vent or opening they might use. He was busy watching the street, taking note of traffic, obstructions, signs…
Keith sees it. Talking through his plan would take too long, so he just says “I got it. Follow me,” and hopes the others manage to follow him. It’s all about timing. Dashing through as the lights flicker off, dodging behind a passing pallet mover, waiting behind a post for the guards to turn their heads just for one second. At the end of the run, Keith makes his way to a fire escape ladder hidden behind a trash compactor next to the side of the warehouse, and hurriedly climbs up. He turns as he does, to see if Kaz and the others make it, and he’s glad to see they do. He waits for them all to finish climbing the roof of the warehouse before congratulating them on following him.
“A little warning would have been nice, Colonel”, Kaz complains.
They pull out their guns – all energy weapons, set to the lowest (and quietest) setting for stealth. They still needed to minimise their usage, however. While a silenced particle projector gun made no noise above a loud whisper, the smell of burnt ozone that resulted from the discharge was so strong it would have drawn a lot of attention anyway. Weapons checked, Keith led the way to a door leading up to the roof, and finding it unlocked, opens it and enters the warehouse, as quiet as possible.
Whatever he was expecting, Keith wasn’t expecting this.
The hallway was short and led to another door. It was mostly empty…save for the sigils carved into walls. He didn’t recognise any of them – Keith made it a point not to associate with any ‘spooks’ worshipping the reality warping powers from the White Dwarves. He tried to look at them to study them but was forced to close his eyes – even glancing at them made his head swim. He cursed under his breath. D’ast spooks!
“Colonel?” There was fear in Kaz’s voice. “What…what is all of this?”
“It’s what the Stand will look like if we let the d’ast spooks win, Kaz,” Keith turned, blinking rapidly to shake the disorienting effect the runes had on his brain. “I don’t know how or why, but their Witchlight seems to be able to channel the star’s weirdness down here. Through these…things. D’ast, getting dizzy just looking at them.”
“Should we bust ’em?’” One of the Runners asked, behind Kaz. She was a young, shaven headed girl.
Keith shook his head. “We need to try and do things quiet like. No…we’ll have to try and make our way to the door.” He took a deep breath and turned back into the sigil infested hallway. “I’ll go first. Follow my lead.”
Keith manages to make it through. He tried to keep a normal pace, as if he was just walking down the Promenade in Paragon Stand’s light cycle, eyes focused dead center on the door ahead of him. Still, he couldn’t keep the sigils out of his periphery vision, and the walk to the end of the hall felt like an eternity. He kept hearing voices – laughter, conversation, screams – and kept seeing things dance out of the corner of his eye. When he touched the door handle, he half thought it might come alive and wrap around his hand like a cold tentacle. Fortunately, it stayed the way it was, and Keith opened the door and nearly fell out the other end. He managed to keep his dinner inside, and turned to see if the rest made it. He was grateful they all did.
Kaz had his hands on his knees, panting and gasping. “What…”
“Easy, Kaz, easy,” Keith pat him on the back. “Let’s hope there’s not much left of the spooks inside.”
Keith barely had time to register that they were in some kind of storage room when he heard an alarm go off. He cursed under his breath. Of course it was too easy. He turned to the rest. “Well, they know we’re coming, so no need to play it cute. Raise the power on the guns and let’s give ’em hell.’”
“Have a hell of a time explaining this to the Overseer,” one of the Runners commented.
“Hopefully we’ll have some dirt on him by the time this ends,” Keith responded. “Look alive, we’ve got company.”
Several guards burst into the storage area, carrying slug throwers. They barked at the intruders to halt, but Keith ordered everyone to fan out and take cover. No sooner had they done that than the guards started peppering their area with bullets. Keith ended up behind a storage rack next to Kaz, both trying to find a window to fire back.
Keith can see that they outgun the guards – Energy weapons are deadlier than slug throwers, even when theirs are handheld guns vs the guards’ long rifles. Bullets seem slow after getting used to projectile beams. Keith shouts at the Runners to press forward and make every shot count, while moving forward and shooting himself.
Unfortunately, the guards know they’re outgunned, and call in reinforcements, outnumbering the Runners and moving into a flanking position. The Runners are forced to find cover amid the bullets flying all around them.
Abruptly, the guards cease fire. Keith and Kaz look at each other, wondering what could be going on. Suddenly, from behind them, Shariff Jones appears from the door they came from, an energy rifle held in his hands. He aims the muzzle square at Keith.
“Oh, Ironsworn Vanadu,” he snickers. “I knew you were up to no good. And thank you for revealing the traitorous Kaz. I’m sure the rest of Paragon Stand will thank you for it.”
“So you really are in league with Dreadspire,” Kaz spat.
“Drop your guns, and come quietly with us. The White Flame isn’t as bad as you think it is, Kaz. We are prepared to grant you mercy – along with certain conditions, of course.”
“I assume you want us to join you in worshipping the crazy shit that the star spits out on the reg,” Keith said.
“Your words are born of ignorance and are thus forgiven,” Jones said. “We can help you see the truth in the White Light.”
The guards had closed in, meanwhile, ordering the Runners to drop their guns and surrender. Things were really not looking very good here, Keith considered. A terrifying thought struck him. He could Loop…but he hasn’t always been successful in looping more than a second or so back. Going back a full minute like this…he wasn’t sure if he could even do it.
Doesn’t mean I can’t try, Keith thought. Setting his mouth in a grim line, he extends his hands, dropping the gun…and reaches for the Looper around his wrist. Here goes.