Saturday, 7 June 2014

13th Age - no, it's not Shadowrun. Really.

Archon - ally of the Prince of Shadows
Our little band of heroes continued on their way to meet with the smuggler, Archon, in his lair at the mouth of the Gold Leaf River. En route, they visited the last of the ruined Elvish towers they had been exploring, but this was a mere pile of rubble and there seemed little of interest. Archon proved friendly enough, and in return for a share of any treasure, agreed to loan the adventurers sail, tackle, and 15 crew. All of the crew will be cut in on any loot. Sartheen watched dismally as his share of the prospective booty seemed to be getting smaller, and smaller as the negotiations went on.

Finally it was time to return to the elvish keep and fit out the ship. The smugglers provided a lift in one of their boats to the entrance of the underground harbour. Soon enough, we were at sea, and bound for Horizon, capital of the Arch Mage. We lack a navigator to see us over the tempestuous seas to the Lost Islands that Jordan Young describes when he is in his cups. Morgan, one of the best navigators in the world, is known to be detained in High Rock, a top security prison belonging to the Arch Mage, which is currently floating thousands of feet above the city of Horizon. On the advice of the smuggler, Archon, we sailed for Horizon with the intention of springing Morgan.

We slipped through the Koru Straits with seemingly no interference from Drakkenhall, and were south of Omen before we ran into trouble. This took the form of a thunderstorm, in the midst of which, flying towards us, came Borgram Gliz, a powerful mage and a friend of the Arch Mage. He summoned four lightning elementals to attack the ship. Floating on a cloud, Borgram demanded that we hand over our money. "Never!" we yelled.

More brutal violence followed. Amras took care of three elementals, and I think NeOn downed the fourth. Sartheen shot Borgram, who fell into the sea, although it has to be said he'd already been sorely wounded by other magics flung at him from our ship. Floating next to the scorched corpse Amras found a magic wand.

And so we arrived in Horizon. We spent much time asking around about High Rock and learned much of interest. NeOn had once served as a guard on High Rock, but his memory of the place was sketchy. He suspected someone had wiped part of it deliberately. Either that, or he banged his head when the wizard's tower he was imprisoned in crashed to earth.

Here are some interesting facts about High Rock for the curious visitor:
  1. It only holds six prisoners at a time, half of whom don't need to be fed.
  2. A workshop is kept there for maintaining guards (indicating they may indeed be automata of some kind or even war forged).
  3. No prisoners ever leave High Rock.
  4. Very few people ever get to visit High Rock.
  5. High Rock moves around - it doesn't stay permanently over Horizon.
  6. There are at least 10 guards.
  7. The lower levels are off limits and probably fatal to explore.
We decided to rent out one of the flying skiffs we saw darting around the skies above Horizon. This, we reasoned, could take us to High Rock under cover of darkness. Sartheen also recalled that Surothank, a mage of some standing in Horizon, was being blackmailed by the Prince of Shadows (the Prince knowns that, in his capacity as a magistrate, he hands over street orphans to a school run by a vampire). Surothank provided Sartheen with an amulet that would identify him as a member of the Council of Mages to the guards.

The party re-grouped and rented a skiff on a no questions asked basis, flying up to High Rock as it bulked in the night sky over the glittering panorama of Horizon. Jordan Young was left on board to make sure the skipper stuck around. It was agreed that a burst of colour spray from Amras would be the signal for the skiff to come back in and pick us up.

Landing on High Rock, NeOn was able to bond with the energy cortexes that ran through the rock. He became aware of symbiotic communications between the rock itself and its guardians. Some small, hovering robot-like beings (I hesitate to use the word drones) emerged from the undergrowth on top of the rock, but Sartheen was able to convince them we were legitimate.

We began to speculate that the rock might, indeed, be a living entity. Amras had used an illusion ritual to disguise the party as humans (mages from Horizon), so we proceeded confidently into the bowels of the prison.

Our first encounter of note was with a chef. He was an automaton, but also a chef, as he kept insisting. He even had a chef's hat. Despite a lengthy grilling (!) he was unable to divulge much more detail on the prison and its guards, other than to tell us that the entrance to the mage's office was trapped (I seem to recall that the Arch Mage has an office on High Rock, but maybe it was just the caffeine making me overly optimistic).

Leaving the chef to his chores, we proceeded in our search for 'Captain' Morgan (!). We eventually met two guards who finally realised we weren't who we claimed to be. Violence ensued. The guards were both broken up for scrap. However, NeOn now became aware that the Rock itself was sending out an alert. We fully expected more guardians to converge on our position.

Swiftly we plunged on through the dark tunnels, and found a cell door with the number 666 on it. Amras wanted to open it. He had a good vibe about this door. The rest of us persuaded him against it. We needed to find the damned navigator! Eventually, we came to a ledge which ran outside, along the side of the rock, before re-entering it. Looking down, thousands of feet below, we could see Horizon. That was about the time a small pack of flying automata appeared to attack us...

1 comment:

  1. You are not as caffeine-addled as you think; the Archmage himself does sometime use the quarters on High Rock.