- Norm and Kenta ran as fast as they could for the shelter of the canopy, but even the few minutes they were exposed was enough to give them significant sunburn. After a brief rest, they decided to try to make it all the way back to the linking point that day. As they neared their destination well after sunset, they found themselves tailed by a large creature. They only got the most fleeting glance at the beast's teeth and face as it barreled into them, nearly sending them tumbling off the catwalk. Kenta lashed out at it with his machete and believed he managed to give it a cut, but something that hit returned the favor, giving him a nasty - and unusually clean - slice to his face and neck.
- When they finally made it back to the original linking point and rejoined Kat and Reis, they compared notes about the book exchange and the undersea research facility and made plans as to their next steps. They believe they need to return soon, but Norm has decided they should make their own linking book back to Er'cana before they leave - and they're all a little curious about the area east of the linking point...
- As the hum and vibration in the heart of the undersea complex increased to a near violent pitch, Norm noticed the row of routing switches that had all been deactivated. In a split-second decision, he threw the switches up and the station's power output stabilized - unfortunately not before an electrical discharge ruptured some sort of gas conduit, pumping a noxious yellowish smoke into the control room. Norm and Kenta hurried out, closing the bulkhead-like door behind them.
- Meanwhile, back at the linking point, Kathleen and Reis compiled some details on their new "friends" before returning to their research efforts. Reis spent the day continuing her experiements on the large trees and their fruit (a specimen of which she was able to obtain with Kathleen's help), and Kat decided to delve into the text of the Er'cana descriptive book they'd traded the Malves book for.
- Power restored, Norm and Kenta two proceeded back to the "airlock", which they found to be apparently functional. They discovered its actual purpose was as a pressurization chamber as the room on the other side contained a diving hatch for access to the ocean floor.
- After decompression, they emerged from the pressurization chamber to find the lights in the facility were now blinking red and water was trickling in from somewhere and running down the steps they were going up. Norm returned to the control room, holding his breath against the smoke, and "undid" his previous actions, but only managed to kill the lights. The background hum of the station had ceased, and the facility now seemed to be almost completely without power. The door out to the ladder still operated, and opening caused a few inches of water that had gathered in the tube to flood in. Concerned that the station may be lost, the took some time to gather some of the books and research materials from the study area before climbing back to the surface.
- Still staring at the eel-like shark, Kenta felt a slight sense of virtigo as he maintained eye contact. A sense of calm curiosity settled on him and he took a half step toward the chamber's glass wall, but knew he wouldn't be able to get much closer to the creature. Norman noticed his friend's unnerving stare and called to him to snap out of it, at which point the monstrous creature swam away - quickly disappearing into the dark water.
- Kathleen and Reis regarded the appoaching pair somewhat suspiciously but answered their greeting and with as much neutrality as possible. The man took the large book from his companion and presented it to them. The book turned out to be the descriptive book for the Age of Er'cana - the age they were currently standing in. They said they'd be willing to trade it for the Malves age which Kenta had stolen from them a few days earlier. After some discussion, they decided to take the offer and made the trade - not least because Kat realized that, with the descriptive book here, all incoming links were disabled, and that, if these other people controlled the descriptive book, they could cut the guilds and themselves off from access to the age - or worse, they could damage or destroy the book, rendering it inaccessible permanently. While the other age was also of interest, they'd been sent to study *this* one, and so it seemed the higher priority.
- Meanwhile, Kenta and Norman continued to explore the undersea facility, finding a kind of "control room" and some sort of laboratory(?) down a long, tunneled stairway. The other stair led them to a sealed bulkhead and airlock with some buttons that didn't seem to be operating correctly. After some evaluation, they decided that maybe the airlock was having some sort of power issue - they had noted in the control room that the gauges they guessed to be related to power supply read only 5-10%. They decided to return to the control room and experiment with the panel to try to increase power to the station. As Norman slowly pushed a large lever upward, the hum and vibration that had been present in the facility intensified...
- The others having not returned, Kathleen and Reis decided to stay the night in the bunk room in the fortified "bunker" structure below the canopy huts. Meanwhile, Kenta and Norman retreated back up the catwalk into the jungle some distance - feeling a bit safer beneath the canopy than out under the open sky.
- The following morning, Norman and Kenta returned to the dock and made their way down the ladder into the copper and glass tube descending deep into the waters at the end of the pier. At the bottom, they discovered a panel full of switches that seemed to control the sealed doorway that led into some sort of structure.
- Upon awakening, Kat and Reis decided to go back down to the puzzle-locked office they'd previously found - Kat had been looking for clues and working on a few possible solutions. With some minor input from Reis, she was able to identify the last symbol on the dials and, after a couple more attempts, managed to get it to open. Inside they found some detailed journals on the facility's pellet production process as well as a linking book to the Ashem'en District in the Cavern, and a strange television-like device that seemed to be viewing a far-away place. The image showed a large chamber, a massive statue, daylight, and vines growing along the stone walls.
- After some discussion and examination of the switch panel, Norman decided that the panel indicated some kind of conversion from the D'ni distance/depth measurements he'd noted etched into the tube as they had descended. While unsure what his math was converting the distance units to, he was able to complete the conversion and enter the solution using the numbered switches. The door clicked and slid open, exposing some rather stale air inside.
- The undersea complex was composed of circular copper and glass rooms that overlooked the ocean around them - water that was getting a bit more illuminated as the day progressed, even at this significant depth. They found some D'ni furniture and even clothing remarkably well preserved, as well as a common area that seemed to be something of a study room, containing padded chairs, desks, and numerous journals. Kenta's attention, however, was captured by the flashing purple eyes of an enormous eel-like shark just outside the glass bubble.
- Having discovered all they could in the bunker, Kat and Reis emerged, discussing plans for the day. It wasn't until the man spoke that they became aware of his approach. Approaching form the catwalk to the east of their position were a man and a woman, neither of whom were immediately recognizable, but Kat was pretty sure she knew who they were. The man was saying he had a "proposition" for them, and the woman was carrying a large, hard-bound book under her left arm...
- Norman managed to talk the fleeing woman down enough that some of the adrenaline of the situation began to wear off. Unfortunately, in the process, her attitude shifted from one of fear to something more like anger. She accused Norman and Kenta of stealing a book from her and her companions and told them she'd come to retrieve it, even offering them a substantial sum of money in exchange for its return. When an agreement didn't appear to be immediately forthcoming, she retreated down the catwalk into the jungle, promising to return with an "offer".
- The group discussed this turn of events for a while the next morning, but ultimately decided to continue their investigation of the Age as planned. However, given the promised return of unknown persons, it was decided that Kathleen would conduct her study of the descriptive book in or near the bunker on the jungle floor, the entrance to which Norman had discovered a way to bar. Reis decided to continue her expirementation in the canopy unless Kat raised the alarm.
- Meanwhile, Norm and Kenta travelled along the catwalk to the west. They found one additional canopy hut above it a couple of miles away, but then nothing. As midday passed, and they hadn't discovered where the conduits following the catwalk led, they decided to press on and prepare to spend the night away from the linking point. Just after the sun had sunk below the horizon, the catwalk led them out of the jungle and onto a long pier protruding into a large body of saline water. The pier had sustained some damage; near the end they found some mangled machinery and a ladder descending into a tube-like structure that led into the darkness below the water...
- While Norman, Kathleen, and Reis were finishing up their studies for the day, Kenta was attempting to gain entry to the hut with the light. While he was investigating the trap door on the underside of the hut, he heard the unmistakable sound of a link, and began to hear footsteps and voices in the room above. The two voices seemed to be arguing about a few things, and Kenta heard some references to "others" he interpreted to be himself and his companions.
- Kenta told the others about what he had overheard when he returned to the canopy area they'd linked into. Believing the unknown people also in the Age might be after the book Kenta had taken from the man they'd seen when they first arrived, Kat decided to hide the book in her sleeping bag before they went to sleep. She was awakened by creaking sounds outside sometime during the night. She quietly roused the others, and the group of them were ready when a figure attempted to enter the hut they were sleeping in. Kat shone her flashlight at the intruder, and the bright light temporarily blinded everyone. The figure gasped and ran - with Norm and Kenta chasing it in the dark.
- Down on the catwalk, as Kenta and Norm began to catch her, the woman who'd intruded on their hut spun around and began frantically shouting at Kenta to stop his pursuit and leave. As Norm caught up to the two, he found Kenta standing about 35 feet from a dark shadow, only slighly illuminated by a red tactical light, and caught the steel glint of a revolver pointed at them...
- Identifying the buzzing sound as a swarm of approaching insects, the group hurried back into the canopy and took shelter in one of the larger hut structures. From there, they were able to see the thousands of 6" insects swarm over the area, eating the edges from the tree leaves while the large blue birds preyed upon a few of their number.
- Once the swarm moved on, the group emerged and discussed what their plan should be now that the initial distractions were fading. The group set about learning what they could from what they could find: Norman decided to dig through the D'ni documents looking for any mentioning of known threats to include in his report. Kathleen decided she would look through what written records she could find in search of the purpose of this Age and what the D'ni were doing here. Kenta set aboutt exploring the surrounding area, trying to get some sense or scope of the complex. Reis began conducting some experiments in an effort to learn something about the massive trees populating the Age's jungle.
- For his efforts, Norm was able to find references to the "Vorr Cats" - a large and hyper-aggressive predatory species inhabiting the jungle floor that seemed to be the primary reason for the canopy dwellings as well as the bunker-like nature of the ground structure(s). The swarming insects - called Dravax - were not regarded as a particular threat, though they were capable of biting. Sitings of a massive bird that flies above the canopy were concerning, but no direct interaction was recorded. Interestingly, Norm found some records indicating that the fruit of the trees was toxic to the D'ni as well.
- Kat was able to discover that the Age of Er'cana, like its sister ages Er'duna and Er'jerah, was constructed as a food-production Age. Unlike those ages, however, the complex the operation here is much smaller (compatively) and specifically dedicated to the production of high-nutrition/calorie pill-like pellets that could sustain a D'ni individual and requiring very little space or weight. The pellets were being made from the fruit of the gigantic "Talithus" trees, as well as some other components including a tree-top fern and the carapace of some subterrenean grubs.
- Reis discovered a few interesting properties of the trees relating to their gel-like interior, as well as their interesting relationship with a certain kind of luminous vine that grew upon them.
- Kenta found that the nearby huts showed evidence of having been searched by someone else fairly recently, but did not bear any further evidence of habitation. The following day, he descended to the long catwalks and decided first to follow them eastward. He discovered some additional bunker-like ground structures - these were smaller and round in shape - as well as some additional canopy huts. One of the huts was located in a tight grove of trees accessed by its own spoke off the catwalk. As Kenta approached to get a closer look, he noticed light coming from one of the structure's windows...
- The group descended into the metal structure to investigate, seeking a way out into the jungle - or to possibly determine whether that was adviseable, as the spikes on the surrounding walls have them reason to think maybe there was something...bad...out there.
- On the top floor they found some offices, bunk rooms, and equipment/gear storage. Some written records suggested production and/or mining facilities were housed within the structure, and spoke in general terms about the state of the ongoing project.
- Below this level, they found a large production floor that contained machinery that was apparently used to produce small, pill-like pellets. They found a few kegs of these pellets in one corner - one of them had been torn open and its contents spilled across the floor. Strangely, some of the pellets glowed with a faint orange light. On this floor they also found the locked door to a corner office and a pair of heavy, metal, double doors leading outside. These doors were accompanied by bold warnings about venturing outside, citing dangerous fauna and possibly other, unknown perils. Coming to the conclusion that no one else would likely be going after the linking book that had fallen into the jungle, they decided to make a note in their reports but to leave it for now.
- The corner office turned out to be secured by a D'ni puzzle-lock, and while Kat and Ries examined it, Norm and Kenta decided to look at what was below them in the 'basement' of the structure. There, they found something of a strip-mining operation that seemed to be extracting electrically-charged crystals from underground - and heard something moving around in the darkness.
- Unable to solve the puzzle lock at the present time, the group decided to return to the canopy above and investigate further. As they emerged from the metal building, they heard a buzzing sound approaching from the west...
- The group linked through to the age of Er'cana to begin the primary evaluation they agreed to and, as perviously mentioned, immediately saw a man with a large book flee the hut that contained the linking point. Kenta gave chase across the catwalks and platforms suspended more than 100 feet above the jungle floor between massive bamboo-like trees. He eventually caught the man as he ran toward the edge of the platform - causing him to drop the large book he was carrying. The man hesitated only briefly before jumping off the platform and linking away, letting the linking book he'd use flutter into the darkness of the jungle floor far below.
- Kat examined the large book Kenta had "recovered" and found it to be a Descriptive book to an Age called Malves. The viewing panel showed circular, glass and wood buildings lining a shallow river canyon. She told them she would need to spend some time studying the writing in the book to learn anything more about it, but it was definitely a major find.
- After a brief discussion about what had just happened, Norm decided that the presense of others in the Age represented a potential security risk and that they needed to know where the man had gone, so they decided to descend to the jungle floor to attempt to find the man's linking book.
- The group found a stairway leading down to the roof of a very solid metal building rising up out of the enormous fern-like plants covering the jungle floor. They noted that the edges of the roof were lined with metal spikes protruding down and outward as though to keep someone or something from climbing up onto it. They located a sturdy metal hatchway among the debris on the flat roof and opened it, seeing a staircase leading into the absolute darkness below...
- After being told about the new Age by Stephen, Norman had made his way to the office of Thomas Acklesen, a co-guildmaster of the Guild of Cartographers with whom he was on generally good terms. After some negotiation and agreeing to perform some Primary Evaluation tasks in the Age for the Guild, Thomas agreed to let Norman and his team in a little ahead of schedule.
- From there, Norman gathered his friends to discuss the oppotunity, and then made his way to where lead explorer Loren Granville lived. She was isolating herself as a precautionary measure, having just returned from an undocumented Age. She gave Norman her field notes and told him she had a somewhat uneasy feeling about the place. She also told him she doubted whether the "giants" he was searching lived there.
- Meanwhile, Kenta went looking for an acquaintance in the libraries of the Guild of Scientists. He had previously "assisted" Reis Lennox with some sample-gathering on the shores of the cavern lake. It took some convincing, but she agreed to accompany the group if they'd be willing to pay her a small amount for her time.
- As they gathered to make the Link to Er'cana the following morning, Thomas and Kenta learned that there had been an attempted break-in at the Guild of Cartographers' area of Tokotah I. Kathleen, however, was greeted outsider her front door by a ghostly-white figure of a man that seemed to speak mutely before disappearing...
We began tonight's session by "finishing" characters - assigning some skills, adding a few aspects, etc. There are still some blank spots on the sheets, but in the interest of actually playing a little we decided to leave them for now.
- Norman was in a shared study area of the Guild of Cartographer's offices in Tokotah I. He had been writting a dull report on a recent excursion to a further-afield area of the Age of Miristenn - which unfortunately hadn't produced anything exciting - when he was interrupted by Stephen Tviet, one of the Guild explorers. Stephen knew something about his search for the "giants" some D'ni records had suggested may have existed somewhere in the Ages, and had heard Norman's "low gravity" theory that may have made their existence possible. It was due to this specific detail that he was there, excitedly relaying some news to Norman about a new Linking Book the Guild of Archivists had just sent for survey. Only an initial team had so far been sent through, but one of the things they noted about this new Age was its the low gravity - just over .4g. Stephen had thought Norman might want to talk to one of the Guild leaders about getting "first crack" at examining the new Age.
- Norman assembled the others in his "team" and the 4 of them made their way to Tokotah I early the next morning where they met a Guild representative that gave them a linking book to "Q" (a quarantine location in Ae'gura), a couple of blank linking books should they be needed, and led them the linking book to the Age of Er'cana.
- They had only just linked through when they caught sight of a man dart out of the hut that was the linking point - with a large book under his left arm...
It was getting late and I really wanted to leave this session with the group seeing the unexpected person with the book running away from the linking point, mostly in order to create interest and excitement as the game had barely started. For this reason, I played with the timeline a bit. At the beginning of next session, we're going to go back and fill in some details between Stephen's tip and actually linking to the Age including their discussion with the Guild leader Thomas Acklesen to determine the conditions of their access to the Age, to see if they're able to talk with Loren Granville about her field notes on the initial survey, and any preparations they want to make for the excursion. In addition, they decided they were taking another individual with them, so we'll talk about who that is. Then we'll jump back into the current situation and what they want to do from here...
For the first time in 1.5 years or so, a few of us got together to start a new in-person campaign. After some talk, we decided we'd start with the Fate-based "Unwritten" - a game based on the cosmology and mythos of the Myst games that I've always loved.
Tonight we began work on characters and talked a bit about how they knew each other.
- Kathleen Isen [Sheri] :: Artistic Linguist
- Kenta [Tony] :: Primitive Survivalist
- Norman Osborn [Tim] :: Tenacious Adventuring Historian
We also put together the beginnings of an Age Library to be featured in the campaign.
- The Shattered Plains :: a fractured wasteland, written by Kathleen
- Callux :: a low-gravity, giant forest that Norman has heard rumors about
- "Jargono" :: the savage swampland Kenta accidentally left via linking book