Note: "The Animancer" is a chat-based campaign set in the world of Aqualon. Our "heroes" are Constantine Rajavadi, Adryean James Augustus Finkleroy, and Cassia Vazin Absethoshekla, who travel aboard the Temptress, a pirate ship pretending to be a tradesman cog, for various reasons. Since the earliest potential point of departure for one of them (Cassia) is around the Hooper Chain and they will travel by the Ainan island group, there will be plenty of stops along the way for the characters to experience fantastic adventures. And don't forget: somewhere, an animancer is up to no good, and Cassia for one has first-hand experience with the terror these madmen can conjure...
SCENE 1 - Aboard the TemptressIt was a relatively calm day with a gentle, fresh breeze blowing across the deck of the Temptress from the South-West. Captain Keen looked about with a sense of satisfaction on her face. Those rubes at the Rusty Shore had made her run in circles at first, but had become more amenable to her trade proposals once she had put her foot down. On their necks. She had a certain knack for aggressive negotiations, probably one of the few things her father had given her along the way. One may count the Temptress as one of these things as well, but the ship had hardly been 'given' to her. It had been more of a hostile takeover. Just like daddy had taught her.
Since their stop at the Rusty Shore, the Laughing Yaga was stored safely in a bolted crate by the main mast, and they flew the flag of a Hooper Chain tradesman-cog. They had been able to make some good coin along the way, and when a target too tempting to pass up crossed their paths... well, one could not blame them for getting out the old black flag.
Before leaving, two unusual passengers had found their way aboard. One a strange woman with... issues... Keen had taken pity on her and accepted her meager fare and the promise to really clean up the ship – in a literal sense; the other one by captain's request: a middle-aged SILF with some impressive credentials. The ship's magus had perished during a storm - blighted way too hard: heart failure and some such – and so, getting a SILF or Ferry from HJT had been imperative and also another reason to hide the fact they were on a pirate ship.
Keen's eyes lingered briefly on a distant mass of clouds blowing in with the breeze; then scanned the deck for the two passengers, only to glimpse crewman Fink.
Fink was leaning against the railing of the ship, his right sleeve pulled up to reveal a mass of springs and interlocking mechanisms that seemed to cover the bottom part of his arm, held in place by a collection of leather straps and rivets. His attention seemed to be more focused on the bizarre contraption than any of the other crewmen who wandered the deck. With a few final twists, he clenched his hand and the mechanism seemed to contract beneath his sleeve, causing him to smile.
"Knew I still had it." He patted his arm before adjusting his sleeve and putting his collection of small tools away.
Cassia was grateful for the passage granted to her aboard the ship. She had managed to pass off as a blind woman, her ruse aided by a thin piece of cloth over the eyes. She had approached the captain seeking mercy and promising to work for the trip. Truth be told, she was quite earnest about this, and with what little money she had left, she hoped to at least make it a few more weeks before she would have to resort to thievery again.
She had a knack for such things; it was almost as if her past had swallowed her up and spit her out to be inclined as such. But that wasn't going to happen if she could help it.
This rare moment of thought was whisked away as her eyes crossed another horrid display of filth: a pile of clothes atop some water-soaked wooden planks. Cassia sighed and set out to do her thing.
Meanwhile, Constantine, clad in a dark blue robe, stood beside the helmsman and looked out toward the horizon, where clouds amassed into a dark wall, paying little mind to the others on the ship. The clouds seemed really unusual and he wasn't sure about whether they indicated a storm. Considering they were headed straight for them, they couldn't be that bad, but he’d better ask someone - not the captain though, not with such an uninformed question. Scanning the ship, Constantine spotted Fink close-by and walked over to him.
"Hey, Fink, do you think those clouds ahead indicate another storm? I suppose it could just be rain, but they look very peculiar indeed."
Fink looked over his shoulder to the concerned Constantine before looking towards the bow of the ship. Placing the last tool, a small flathead screwdriver into the case, he stood up straight as he pushed heavily against his back with a grunt and a groan.
"Yeah, I guess that's worth checking out. Hold on..." He reached down to his belt, grabbing onto a large, bulky metal cube that hung from a belt loop. "I got just the thing for this."
He held it forward, towards the storm clouds in the distance, before waiting a few minutes for the wild shaking and clicking of the meters to settle. He pulled it back to himself and glanced at all the meters and gauges before turning to Constantine.
"The multimeter says it's gonna be a big storm. Pretty mean one too if these gauges are right. But I'm sure the captain knows that, right?"
The captain did not know that. She was somewhat distracted by the blind woman stumbling towards a pile of dishrags and being surprised by the feisty dog of crewman Finkleroy, Zosephine. Apparently compelled to do some washing, the gears knew how she found the rags, smell or sonar Keen supposed, she had then been utterly blindsided by the dog's amorous approach. It had jumped up to her out of the pile in which it had hidden itself and knocked her over. Keen was utterly enthralled by this.
A less than moderate scream escaped Cassias mouth, her surprise quickly turning to fear as she noticed the watchful eyes of Captain Elizabeth Keen. Cassia quickly set back to her duties, trying to feign ignorance of the Captains gaze, as any blind women would. But her attention kept returning towards the conversation of the crewman and the ferry, her mind wandered to the ever darkening waters, and her heart quickened with the deep terror of memory.
Briefly turning around to the captain, Constantine answered Fink, "I haven't informed her yet and she seems to be quite occupied with your pet. I'll tell her."
He walked back up to the helm and called out to the captain. "Captain Keen, there's a storm ahead! Fink's gadget measured a massive weather front and it will be challenging for me to handle a tempest of that magnitude. Do you think we could avoid it?"
"Avoid what?" she asked absentmindedly, looking up to the South-West, their current heading. The clouds she had noticed earlier were now menacingly close, expanding far and wide to the left and right. "Ah shit!" She fumbled for her money-chain and pulled off a silver key. A steep sacrifice, but if Vinclav claimed the ship now, all the golden keys in the world wouldn't do her any good. She kissed it and tossed it overboard to appease the evil god and keep away anything that went beyond the cruel fist of nature about to come down on the Temptress. She knocked first mate Lars away from the steering wheel and took over: "move it, man!" and yelled down the deck: "Everybody to their positions! Furl in the main sail, ready the auxiliary sail to be furled in too, move, you rats!" Then she turned back to Constantine: "Get to the bow, mister magus! Do what you can to keep us afloat, we're going to need all the magic you can squeeze out! Shit!"
There was no escaping this storm; they would have to sail right through.
Fink ran across the deck, pushing passed the scurvy crewmen before pushing Cassia into the laundry pile and grabbing the small black dog with both arms. The dog, a small female mutt with a large smile and wagging tail, began licking Fink's face as he pushed downstairs to the crew quarters. He threw the door open as the last of the men had just run to the upper decks. He tossed the dog playfully into the room before snapping his fingers. "Sit, Zoey!" The dog sat on the ground before raising a paw to shake his hand. "Good girl."
He closed the door before running back to the deck to help with the sails.
Summary of the Conflict
The Mechanics Behind the Conflict
In this conflict, the ship is pitted against the storm. Both have a number of stress boxes representing the remaining sturdiness of the ship before it sinks and the amount of storm between the ship and clear waters. Every turn, the storm makes a fight attack against the ship’s physique and the ship is then represented by the player characters, which usually perform “Create an Advantage” actions to bolster the ship’s chances against the storm’s attacks. If the defense exceeds the attack of the storm, the storm takes stress, meaning they progress further ahead.
(A) – An Aspect has been placed on the table.
(A-) – An Aspect has been overcome and taken off the table.
(I) – By expending 1 Fate Point, the indicated Aspect has been Invoked.
(C) – By awarding 1 Fate Point, the indicated Aspect has been Compelled.
(AC) – The Aspect is a consequence.
(;[charactername]) – The Aspect is on the corresponding character sheet.
As the fight against the storm begins, captain Keen calls the crew to man the stations (A), madly barking orders, which give the ship leg up in the race. Meanwhile, the clouds are beginning to fill out the sky and it is getting darker (A).
The winds hit them almost immediately and with staggering severity. Only because the captain had the crew man the stations (I) could they prevent the ship from toppling over and capsizing right away.
Constantine rushes towards the bow of the ship to face the storm. Using his attunement to the element of wind, he conjures up his magic to calm the storm, taking charge of the wind (A) with great success. Meanwhile, Finkleroy moves to the auxiliary sail to jerry-rig some makeshift stabilizers (A) that will help the mast withstand the wind shear.
Cassia, who has recovered from being pushed over by Fink, moves down below deck to retrieve her onyx lantern, the source of her Shadow Society magic. While having the lantern with her is neither necessary nor even recommended when using this magic, as the lantern glows brightly and heats up as this happens, this is exactly her plan, for the growing darkness outside is making the job of the crew that much more difficult. Having barely escaped a severe storm a few days back, she is not keen to be drowned by one now.
As the storm intensifies, it takes all of Constantine’s magic to keep the ship from flipping over, and Finkleroy has to really lock down those makeshift stabilizers (I) to stay afloat. But because it is getting darker (I) the work is difficult and mistakes easily made… Still, you can rely on Fink in a pinch (I;Constantine), and so they resist the onslaught by the seat of their pants.
By now it is almost pitch-black (A)
Realizing that the wind is not the only problem they are facing, Constantine utilizes one of his two spell-ink mandala atlases, the Atlas Incantamentorum Atramenti, to calm the waters (A) with great success. The storm becomes less and less threatening around the bow of the ship. Still, it is a rather large ship: the Temptress is a sizable brigantine.
Having implemented and somewhat fortified the new stabilizers, Finkleroy attempts to light the ship’s lanterns to provide some much needed illumination to the deck. But because the planks are wet (A), he slips and only manages to light one or two, which don’t provide a lot of light.
But this is where Cassia returns from below deck, her onyx lantern in hand. She uses her unusual clockwork magic to manipulate the shadows around the ship, making them strangely transparent, revealing what they should normally conceal in a desaturated outline. As she does so, her lantern simultaneously lights up brightly as it channels her magic, providing a staggering degree of illumination. Suddenly the fact that it is almost pitch black (A-) is no longer affecting the ship, which has turned into a strange darkless zone with perfect visibility in brightest day, in blackest night (A).
With all of this, they manage to make some solid headway deeper into the storm. In fact, their improved visibility and superb application of water and wind magic allows them to navigate into a calm spot which provides them with some much-needed time to regroup.
As Constantine now tries to gauge the winds ahead and manipulate them to flow around the ship once they leave the calm spot, Finkleroy once more goes below deck, now madly applying reinforcements wherever he sees potential weak spots within the ship but slightly sprains his ankle due to the wet planks outside. His clever reinforcements (A) are beyond peer and provide a significant boost to the ships integrity. At the same time, Cassia is preparing herself for an even more impressive feat of magic, refusing to yield to the storm even by one step.
Having improved the whole wind-situation, Constantine now expands on his efforts, trying to create a canal of wind for the ship to travel through, so that it may thread the needle (A) through the storm. Not yet satisfied with his work, Finkleroy works through his long-overdue to-do list of minor repairs, finding even the tiniest weak spots in the planking, slamming strips of wood left and right, bolting them down like a mad-man, making the ship practically storm-proof.
As she gathers herself, the shadowmancer Cassia reaches deep into her gates, drawing out immense magical powers to fight the storm itself. She expands the darkless zone she has created well beyond the ship, making the pitch-black waves themselves well defined and outlined to grant the ferry perfect sight of the waters ahead. While she is staggeringly successful, creating a strange reversal of darkness (A), she is also accidentally turned temporarily blind (AC;Cassia) with the harsh light her lantern emits.
Returning into the thick of the storm well prepared, they now make significant headway. The storm rages against them once more, but Finkleroy’s clever improvements and Constantine’s magic, aided by the powers of Cassia, easily stave off any damage to the ship.
As they can see the end of the clouds in the distance, Constantine rallies himself to perform one more great feat of magic. With the power of his wind magic, the insight granted by Cassia, and the reinforcements of the ship, he attacks the storm directly, doing battle with nature itself. With great effort, but also with style, he pushes the cloud cover above apart, creating a wedge in the storm, releasing the ship much earlier than it would have been. The storm is still raging, but it is now behind them and someone else’s problem, the Temptress not only prevailing, but oddly coming out of the ordeal with severe reinforcements and makeshift stabilizers attached to her auxiliary sail. The real price of victory: a sprained ankle and a temporarily blinded passenger. Not bad for a day’s work.