So on to the second session. At the beginning of the night we were on schedule as far as my expectations for the plot. I didn’t have too much planned for the evening except that they would arrive at their destination and receive the invitation to adventure. Spirits were generally high with a lot of banter and conversation before the game began, though one player had been on a night shift the night before and was exhausted.
I began by introducing the two players who hadn’t been able to make it to the first session. As with the first session I did this by having them encounter each other on the way as they investigated signs of recent activity in the cavern where the rest of the party had sheltered from the storm. They found common purpose and went on together, which made my life easier.
The rest of the group was camping at the chasm, planning to cross over it the next morning when, perhaps, the bat-demon-things would not attack. After establishing who had the watch I described how a mammoth, his rider and a group of people and oxen emerged from the early morning mists to meet them at the chasm.
Things took a bit of a downturn here because the roleplaying didn’t flow very naturally between the arriving players and the ones who had been camping at the chasm. The player who’d been on watch did her best to encourage introductions and conversation but things here were somewhat stilted and I quickly moved on to their chasm-crossing efforts.
One of the players tittered when I described the chasm as a ‘gash’ in the land, so I somewhat stupidly made a few similar descriptions over the next few minutes; this probably wasn’t conducive to player immersion and the mood I wanted. “An axe-wound, if you will, in the landscape,” for example.
The next scene was quite amusing. Initially planning to call for Athletics rolls to safely navigate the bridge, one of the players negated the risk of ice on the planks by describing how he took salt from his supplies and scattered it across the slippery surface. Instead it became more of a challenge for players to encourage their mounts on to the wide yet unstable bridge.
I think I managed to introduce a fairly decent sense of tension as the heavier mounts traversed the chasm. A moment of drama was provided in counterpoint to this by a player botching his Ride roll and being dragged on his backside halfway along the bridge. Midway across another player realised he’d only taken two allies as backgrounds but had described three in his retinue; I fixed that by having the extraneous ally grabbed by a dark tentacle from the abyss and pulled to his doom.
Overall I was quite pleased with this scene.
We moved on, and I described how the group passed into an area of morraines and valleys left by glaciation. Soon after a Frozen Fog descended, restricting vision and causing them to need to wrap up warm due to its supernatural chill. I stumbled a bit here when I mentioned that some of those who enter the frozen fog exit somewhere completely different. I had meant that they were magically transported across large distances but one of the players took it as obvious and literal: “Ooh, who’d have thought! Somewhere different!”
This slightly disrupted the mood for a bit, but things improved during the next scene. I described how they exited the fog to a plain of jagged ice crystals ranging between a few feet and a dozen metres in height. I had to describe this scene at least three times due to various players not paying attention, which was a little annoying. From the fog behind them emerged a Snow Wyrm – a flying, burrowing white-furred serpent with multiple fins and dagger-sharp teeth. Weakened by its sudden disconnection from the Wyld I planned for it to be quite a tough fight, but one with a time limit of 25 ticks. At that point the worm would have collapsed and begun to die, weakened by the static nature of reality outside the Wyld.
The first couple of attacks merely grazed the creature, doing minimal damage. The next two attacks however completely obliterated it, leaving four players having been unable to take part in the combat. The total duration of the fight was five ticks.
While the bat-things had been a quick test fight to get people comfortalble with combat, I’d intended for this to be a bit more of a challenge. I admit that I underestimated the power of basic combat charms allowing successes to be doubled for purposes of calculating damage pools. I don’t regret that the beast was so easy to kill, but with hindsight I should have provided more than one target to ensure that everyone had a chance to take part in the fight.
Having said that, the novice Exalted player who helped to take down the serpent was obviously impressed with the way in which he’d been able to achieve such horrendous damage with use of so little Essence; He had obviously enjoyed the moment and perhaps this was a real taste of the power of an Exalted.
We wrapped up the session as the group drew near to their destination, a manse of ice crystals and light surrounded by a moat or chasm crossed only by bridges made of filmy rainbow light.
I’d expected to get a little further than this and to have them meet who was inside the manse, but this was perhaps an even better place to end the session.
Next week my plot could radically diverge depending on the players’ actions and it will be interesting to see which way things go. I am looking forward to dropping hints to the nature of their situation and what choices the characters will make. The potential combat scenarios I have planned should give the opportunity for everybody to take part, with the potential for some more threatening opponents that can give challenge to the more combat-effective members of the group.