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A Red & Pleasant Land, Part 9: Ballroom Blitz

More bare minimum note taking. 

Prep Time 

Quickly drawn and populated map for the Interior area where the Loach is being held captive. Consulted hex contents in the HexPop! notebook for ideas. 

Players 


  • Gor Orben - Amazon, "She is Gor" 
  • Borus Bleeve - Borus the one-handed. Borus the hand collector. Borus of the two right hands. 
  • Karl Min Valé - Another first-time TTRPG player. Possibly the owner of "Min Valé Industries".

  • Events 

    • The players arrive at the exposed entrance to the Interior -- a library -- during the morning. The decide to head in alone rather than waiting for nightfall for their vampire companions to be able to accompany them.
    • They find several useful books, mostly on biology and diseases. These can be used later as part of the "books provide d10 uses of information related to their topic" rule.
    • At the back of the library is a staircase leading down into the Interior. The party heads down.
    • They find a tunnel whose floor is strewn in books, dead rats and flies. They quickly discover -- by Borus losing his boots -- that the surface is strongly sticky. The progress through by walking from book to book.
    • The reach a choice of two paths. One is an ancient, crumbling spiral staircase leading downwards. The other is another hallway encased in magical darkness. A rotten smell emanates from both paths. The sound of music comes from down the stairs. The party heads downstairs.
    • They find a huge pile of bat guano at the bottom of the staircase. And a swarm of bats nesting on the underside of the stairs. They succeed in not awaking the bats. Ahead lies a door with flickering lights and music coming from inside.
    • They open the door and find a grand ballroom. 12 couples dance on the floor. A band plays by the fireplace. At the far end of the ballroom are pair of doors. One iron and prison-like. The other an elegant wooden door.
    • A couple invites them to join the dance. The party looks further around the room. They notice puddles of blood at random spots, blood dripping into them from above. They glance up. The entire ceiling is covered in spikes, bodies impaled above. The party elegantly refuses the dance.
    • They make a plan to make it to the otherside of the ballroom. Mostly it involves dancing and bribing the band to increase the tempo of the music. It also involves throwing some of the bat guano around the room to cause a distraction. The party makes it to the doors on the far side.
    • The iron door is indeed a prison. Several sullen figures are chained inside, dressed in ballroom finery.
    • The wooden door leads to another hallway. The party heads through.
    • Some distance down the hallway, the party encounters a pile of corpses that appears to have collapsed down from a hole in the ceiling. The party climbs up the pile into the room above. There they find an entire hill of corpses, with a single door sitting atop the mound. They can hear the sound of a beating heart somewhere in the room.
    • The party digs through the mound of corpses, searching for the source of the heartbeat. They find a single corpse, obviously dead, but with a heart obviously still beating in its chest. They cut the corpse open and remove the heart. It continues to beat.
    • They climb to the top of the corpse pile and examine the door. It is not a door built into a wall. It is simply a door frame and door sitting in the middle of the room on top of the body pile. And in the middle, is a heart shaped hole and several pieces of tubing. The party inserts the heart and connects up the tubing.
    • The door frame glows red. The party opens the door. On the other side they see a garden. They step through.
    • The garden is entirely surrounded by tall hedge walls. In the middle, they see a gazebo, and a podium on the podium. Resting on the podium is a gold and diamond encrusted locket. Inside the locket is a letter. 
    • “To the Colorless Bishop Sovereign Eign. I write to you from the gaol. I trust you found the map? Whatever you do, don’t trust the Blind Mirror. Sincerely, Lord Vortullak, Knight of Nephilidia.”
    • The party takes the letter and locket and returns through the door. 
    • Continuing back down the hole and down the hall, they find a staircase. The stairs rise up into the middle of a large, shallow pool of tepid, slimy water.
    • Some fish like shapes swim out of the darkness and suddenly rise up into the shapes of men. “You seek the Loach?” “We do.” “Then I seek you as well. Or, rather, I seek your acquaintance, the Cat.”
    • After some tense discussion, the party follows this vampire. He leads them to the cage (a metal sphere suspended in a bubble of water in some MC Escher nightmare room). Inside is the Loach. 
    • “I propose a trade. As you can see, we have what you seek. Bring us what we seek, the Cat, and we can make a deal.”
    • The party exits the Interior to consider the offer. 

    Questions before next session

    • How do you capture a Cheshire Cat? How do you hold on to something that can disappear at will?

    What worked well?

    • Nothing to call out specifically. I guess the map I prepared worked out well.
    • Also, another brand new TTRPG brought in, explained the rules, rolled up a character in under 5 minutes. How do people still tolerate 1 hour character generation sessions?

    What didn't?

    • So, I learned that “gaol” means and is pronounced the same as “jail”. When randomly rolling for the note they found, I thought “Gaol” was the name of a secret cult or something. If I had realized at the time, I think the players would have gone back and checked the jail cell in the ballroom again.
    And, with that, we're caught up for tonight's game. Back to furious coding on HexPop! and no-prep gaming.

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