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Svinik

Writing adventures: Help please

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Hmm, slightly embarrasingly, having specifically asked people to help with dialogue, I've now twigged that the first 4 stages don't really have any, <sigh>.

 

This one may be an introduction for reckless PCs to the concept of a day in the infirmary...

 

Book-worms 3: Filing and fury

 

 

Filing is a quiet way to wind down so you have gained a habit with the other bookworms of popping into the book-pile towards the end of the evening and filing some of the sorted books back on to the library shelves, apart from being quite calming, you get to avoid the hurly burly of the dormitory wars that erupt some evenings without being considered a wimp as you are ‘working’.

 

While walking through the library with a bile of books for the history shelves you see a shadowy figure up ahead, it is too late for students to be here (at least officially), but even a student wouldn’t move this furtively, so you wonder who it can be.

 

Option 1.1. Huzzah! Call out as authoritatively as you can and ask them what they are doing there. [Leadership v 15]

Success: The figure stops and looks momentarily confused by your challenge and freezes as you approach. “You there! Explain yourself! What are you doing in my library?” Your voice and manner are so assured and authoritative that the figure is momentarily thrown off balance “err, I’m looking for a staff the cap’n needs…” the intruder shakes themselves and clears their head, growling at you “Bah! Unlucky Louie doesn’t answer to you! Avast there you’ll not make Unlucky Louie blather! Louie grabs a book from a nearby shelf and throws it at you before fleeing, quite a heavy book.

-1 vitality, +1 stress, -1 Danger sense skill level, +1 relationship Magsa Nembo, +1 relationship Sima Venesico, +1 relationship Tabin Furentzi, +1 relationship Orso Orsi, +1 Glory, advance to phase 2.

Failure: The figure freezes for a moment, surprised by your clear challenge, saying “Shivver me timbers you’ll not get unlucky Louie to blather boy! Louise then throws a book at you before fleeing, quite a heavy book.

-3 vitality, +3 stress, +1 Danger Sense skill level, +1 Schoolyard Education ss, +1 relationship Magsa Nembo, +1 relationship Sima Venesico, +1 relationship Tabin Furentzi, advance to phase 2.

[NB. Student is not expected to pass this as this should be an early adventure, so failure has some bonuses to compensate for spending the next day in the infirmary and because sometimes you learn from mistakes, they won’t know why the triplets are pleased with them until they do the triplets adventure.]

 

Option 1.2. Sneak after them and see if you can see what they are doing? [Move silently v 4]

Success: A direct confrontation probably isn’t wise while you are on your own. You carefully sneak after the figure, which isn’t easy as the figure is pretty sneaky themselves!

 

The figure takes several turns as they creep through the library, they are clearly looking for something specific, and after a while you realise that it is either a book about magical staves, or perhaps such a staff itself, as the figure keeps taking down books about magical staves and skimming them quickly before casting them aside (you make a mental note to come back later and tidy up). You are absently filing such a cast aside book without thinking when the ungrateful tome protests its mishandling by the figure and bites you. At your involuntary yelp of pain the figure turns and looks at you, before fleeing deep into the stacks to get away from you.

+1 damage, +1 Move Silently ss, advance to phase 2

Failure: A direct confrontation probably isn’t wise while you are on your own. You carefully sneak after the figure, which isn’t easy as the figure is pretty sneaky themselves!

 

It started well, you followed the figure through several turns – and then you lost them. Just as you turned around to go back and see if they took another turning something hits you on the head, something heavy, it’s fortunate that you’ve studied a little negation as without it you wouldn’t have been able to stop your head bleeding all over the library books! Being more attentive than you are sneaky you manage to see which way they run away from you as they go.

-2 vitality, +1 Negation Spells ss, advance to phase 2

 

Option 1.3. Scrutinise the figure. [Observation v 4]

You carefully scrutinise the figure and hear them whispering a few words half under their breath, “arr, where could she be? How does a fellow find where the swag be hidden in this cursed place? Books, books, curse them all, where is an honest map?”

Success: This clearly isn’t a student, or any staff member, this is a pirate! What on earth is a pirate doing sneaking around the Academagia?

Temporary +33 chance of success, choose again

Failure: You don’t see anything to give you a clue on who this sneaky intruder is, better do something useful quickly before they disappear if you want to do anything about them!

choose again

 

Option 1.4. Whatever, it’s late and you sneak around the library enough not to stop others doing the same. Leave it to the librarians.

Automatic: End adventure, access stage 3.

 

 

Phase 2: In pursuit of the intruder!

The figure runs deep into the stacks to get away from you, both without success, no book-worm is afraid of the shadowy paths, at least, not in this part of the library. The question is, do you follow them and get some revenge, or go and get help? Bookworms are supposed to be responsible, but they are supposed to protect the library from depredation as well, and this intruder definitely doesn’t have a library card!

 

Option 1. Run [boy/girl], run! Charge after the intruder and figure out what to do when you catch them! [Running v 4]

Success: The intruder has quite a head-start on you once you recover from your injury, but not for long! You know the library better than any intruder and are younger and faster to boot. You sprint down the aisles after them, as you go figures from some of the books call out encouragement to you while the curses of books further ahead tell you which way the intruder has gone.

 

Sure enough by the time the intruder gets near to the area of the library banned to junior students you are almost up with them. Slowing down and sneaking the last few yards you pause to consider how best to deal with the intruder.

+1 running ss, advance to phase 3.

Failure: The intruder has quite a head-start on you once you recover from your injury, but not for long! You know the library better than any intruder and are younger and faster to boot. You sprint down the aisles after them, as you go figures from some of the books call out encouragement to you while the curses of books further ahead tell you which way the intruder has gone.

 

The running part goes well, sadly the seeing-piles-of-books-left-by-an-idiot part doesn’t go well and you trip over and bruise your shins badly on Warwick’s Big Book of Unbreakable Structures, volume I. Fortunately while on the ground moaning quietly you see the intruders shoes just a few stacks over, time to sneak up and finish this…

-1 running ss, advance phase 3.

 

Option 2. Where are they going, figure out their path and cut them off by taking a short cut. [strategy v 3]

 

Success: The intruder clearly doesn’t know the library well, but there is a method to their path out and you realise that they are heading for the area of the library banned for junior students, time to take a short-cut!

Temporary +10% chance of success, +1 Strategy ss, hide option 2, choose again.

Failure: Either you are terrible at intuiting what the intruder wants, or they are hopelessly lost and you have no idea where they want to get to, you’ll have to try something else.

-1 Strategy ss, hide option 2, choose again.

 

Option 3. Time for some light around here, so what if a librarian comes? You are right to challenge and intruder and if you can see clearly you can move more clearly. [incantation spells v 4]

Success: Subtlety is for wimps, this is a school of mages! With a flourish your draw your wand and swiftly filling your palette conjure several balls of glowing light, “sic ‘im boys” you cry and laugh as the twist on ‘reader’s friend’ sends the glowing balls after the fleeing intruder. The intruder stumbles as the balls harry him, confused by the moving shadows they create, and you quickly catch up with them.

+1 Incantation spells ss, advance phase 3.

Failure: Light spells, got it, a light spell that conjures a glowing ball that follows you around so you can see, tougher, but easy enough with practice. Tweaking the spell so that the ball follows someone else and dances around them to confuse them? Much more complicated than you could handle, especially when cast in a hurry. The blinding bang that results from your overloaded palette leaves you dazzled and your ears ringing, you are only glad when you can see again that your wand is in one piece, and the intruder was as stunned as you were – they are running again but only just ahead.

+2 stress, +1 theory of incantation ss, advance phase 3.

 

Option 4. That’s it, enough for the night, you hurt already and there are librarians for this sort of thing.

Automatic: +1 Patience ss, end adventure, access stage 5.

 

 

Phase 3. Bookworm’s revenge

The intruder pauses and looks around, obviously not wanting to been seen when they use whatever entrance they snuck in by. You take the chance to look around yourself, the banned area is just off to the right, and the luck of the gods is with you! Professor Briadi is deep in conversation with another woman in the shelves now twenty feet away! All you have to do is get the professor’s attention and she will sort out this intruder in no time. But how to do it? Call out to the professor and the intruder might attack her first, but if you draw the attention of both the intruder might hurt you again.

 

Option 1. Call out to the professor. [Voice v 4]

Success: The great thing about calling out, it you get to keep well away from the intruder. Which is great mainly in this case because you have time to duck when they curse and throw a wicked looking knife at you. Which is a great mistake on their part as it leaves the professor to stun them, so skilled is the Professor you note admiringly that she has ensorcelled some of the chains to hold the books down to wrap around the intruder before they even hit the floor. Oddly the professor’s companion has vanished leaving you to walk back to your filing alone through the dark library aisles while the professor drags the intruder to the Legate.

+1 Voice ss, +1 relationship Professor Briardi, access stage 5.

Failure: I really should have thought of a place to hide behind, you absently muse while you stare at the flashing blade as it spins towards you, with all the wit and speed of a paralysed rabbit. It feels oddly like a soft punch, as the knife stabs into your arm but the burst of pain a moment later drives away your mental fog. The intruder pulls out another knife to throw but then freezes and topples over as the Professor enspells them. “Next time duck you idiot!” The professor calls as she walks over to remove the knife, “or call from further away!”

-1 vitality, -1 Voice ss, +3 merit, access stage 5.

 

Option 2. Challenge the intruder and distract them so the professor can deal with them. [Duelling tactics v 4]

Success: Even a professor can be hurt if taken by surprise you think, the important thing to do is be loud in your challenge to draw the attention of both, but avoid getting hurt. Casting a protection charm you create a bright light to illuminate the intruder and order them to stop where they are.

 

The intruder snarls and pulls out a knife and throws it with a practiced fluid movement that would probably have resulted in quite a nasty injury if your protection charm hadn’t deflected it. You hastily rebuild your defence charm but it isn’t needed, Professor Briadi creates a blurry wall in front of you, while her companion calls something out and her familiar pounces on the intruder. Quite how you missed a lion of darkest black with flaming eyes and mouth you don’t know, but the Shadow Lion pins the intruder to the floor with ease and moments later the professor is congratulating you on your negation skills and shooing you away saying that she would take care of the intruder from here.

+1 Duelling tactics ss, +1 relationship Professor Briardi, access stage 5.

Failure: It was, you think a good plan, a courageous plan, a plan that a valiant student who doesn’t want to see a valued member of the faculty injured would come up with. However as the intruder pulls out a knife and throws it with a practiced fluid movement you realise that it was not a wise plan. The pain from the knife makes you collapse to the floor, the intruder advances on you with a terrible snarl on their face pulling another knife as they come. For three steps. And then your plan starts working, as you hear the professor shriek in fury and a wave of force from her wand picks the intruder up and hurls him through two book shelves. “Seize him Euneycia! I need to deal with that knife wound!” cries Professor Briadi and as you fall unconscious you see the professor swiftly drawing negation phemes to heal the worst of your wound, you’ll hurt tomorrow, you think blearily, but at least you made sure that the intruder was dealt with.

-1 Duelling tactics ss, +1 Courage ss, -3 vitality, access stage 5.

 

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Stage 4. A little more interaction from other clubbers.

 

Book-worms 4: Ink and Orthography

 

 

Neera looks quite excited when you arrive at the book-worms club this evening. “Tonight is something special” she says, her hair swaying in excitement, “Professor Aventyrare is giving a talk on phemes and spells devised over the last few decades in Ealland and she has asked the librarians to assist with preparing some leaflets to give to the attendees.”

 

Neera explains that the professors and senior students give presentations to Minetan worthies and visiting wizards several times a year – the Academagia is quite proud of these presentations as they ensure its reputation remains high and often bring in donations. The librarians often help for their part by preparing brochures and leaflets to give to the attendees.

 

“I know that you are new to the book-worms, and for that matter the Academagia, but this is a good chance to get involved in maintaining the prestige of the Academagia” says Neera, “your role may be small but everything has to be perfect! Don’t worry, I’ll check what you do, and if you do well I’ll put in a good word with the Professor.”

 

So what shall you do to help?

 

Option 1. Make some ink for the leaflets. [ink Compounds v 3]

Success: It’s a grubby smelly job, but making ink is one of the more important tasks you think, if the ink isn’t made correctly it will be harder to write with, more likely to smudge, or dry to an uneven colour which would be ruinous. Fortunately the basic inks are fairly easy to make, it’s really just a matter of taking care.

 

The library always has ink in various stages of manufacture, so although the librarians preferred ink takes hours to steep you manage to get 3 pots ready within half an hour or so, and spend the rest of the time mixing ink preparations so that the next person won’t have to start from scratch either.

+1 Ink compounds ss, hide option 1, choose again.

Failure: Making ink is one of the unglamorous smelly messy jobs that everyone hates to do, so you figure that you’ll get extra credit for volunteering to do it.

 

After half an hour you have 3 pots of ink ready, and you’ve even got everything prepared for the next person, raw ink stewing to absorb the dye over there, ink simmering on the hob to extract dye from chopped roots and leaves over there, ink slowly filtering to remove solids by the window, and ink on you, all over you, hands, head, robes, somehow you must have got ink on your hands without noticing and now it is everywhere. Now you’ll have to get yourself cleaned before going back to your dormitory or everyone will laugh at how grubby you are!

+1 stress, hide option 1 choose again.

 

Option 2. Make some bindings for the leaflets with Courtenay. [book-binding v 5]

Success: Courtenay looks up as you wander around looking for something to help with, “the contents of the leaflets are important of course, and so is the artwork, but if they fall apart that will all be undermined. And of course, the binding needs to be artistic itself, and match the artwork on the leaflet.”

 

For Courtenay that’s quite a speech you think, but it sounds reasonable. So you carefully scan the leaflets for colour and overall pattern, and then choose the correct binding ribbon to match them, before binding the leaflet carefully to make sure that there is no stitching or glue out of place.

+1 Book-binding ss, +1 relationship Courtenay de Surval, hide option 2, choose again

Failure: Courtenay looks up as you wander around looking for something to help with, “the contents of the leaflets are important of course, and so is the artwork, but if they fall apart that will all be undermined. And of course, the binding needs to be artistic itself, and match the artwork on the leaflet.”

 

You suppose that he’s right, given how deep in a book his nose usually is, you aren’t even surprised when he starts telling you which glue to use. However when you start doing some of the book-bindings yourself you quickly find that Courtenay is extremely exacting, and none of your book-bindings satisfy him, every time he declares that he has to re-do some stitching, add glue to fix down an edge or remove excess glue that you have used, not that you can see any improvement afterwards.

-1 book-binding ss, -1 relationship Courtenay de Surval, hide option , choose again

 

Option 3. Figure out some clever Ealland word-games with Ausdaur. [Cryptography v 5]

Success: “Hmm”, says Ausdaur, “I asked Neera and apparently it is traditional to include some word-play, hidden symbology and the like in the artwork at events like this – something for the guests to figure out, not too hard but enough so they feel satisfied about their wit.”

 

You can’t write anything on the invitations as the librarians say that it must be in the correct formal address, but you can do something with the artwork, and perhaps with some of the minor parts of the leaflets. Ausdaur finds coming up with the puns and hidden meanings in art a little tricky, but your experience in this area gives you enough ideas for the pair of you and it isn’t long before you are looking up who the invitations are to and including animals and symbols from their family crest, college, famous deeds by their ancestors and the like in the art, and generally spicing up the various signs and suchlike so that a clever guest can intuit the meaning of an exhibition piece without reading the text if they are clever enough.

+1 relationship Ausdaur Mollers, +1 Cryptology ss, hide option 3, choose again

Failure: “Can you help me with this?” Asks Ausdaur, “I asked Neera and apparently it is traditional to include some word-play, hidden symbology and the like in the artwork at events like this – I’m really struggling to come up with stuff that isn’t too hard, so the guests can’t figure it out, or so easy that it’s embarrassing.”

 

“Here’s the plan” says Ausdaur, “we can’t do anything with the wording of the invitations, that’s all formal stuff, but we can do pretty much what we want in the artwork, and come up with wording for display pieces, direction signs and so on.” OK you think, this should be fairly easy. Unfortunately your first puzzle is solved at a glance, and in your efforts to make the second harder you make it so tough that Ausdaur can’t crack it without a dozen clues, and looks like she disagrees with you even then. “How about you help someone else instead?” Says Ausdaur, “I think I can do this better on my own.”

-1 relationship Ausdaur Mollers, -1 Cryptology ss, hide option 3, choose again

 

Option 4. Make a display stand for the leaflets. [Carpentry v 3]

Success: There’s no denying it, even the finest art on the most interesting leaflets is undermined if they are displayed on a scruffy battered case, a scruffy battered case like all the ones in the library turn out to be when you check. Well there’s nothing else to do then but make a better display case!

 

Fortunately the case doesn’t need to be particularly complex, more of a lectern than a proper cabinet, so after some quick explanations to the librarians to procure some properly decorative face-boards for the lecterns you manage to make some attractive lecterns to display the leaflets.

+1 Carpentry ss, hide option 4, choose again

Failure: There’s no denying it, even the finest art on the most interesting leaflets is undermined if they are displayed on a scruffy battered case, a scruffy battered case like all the ones in the library turn out to be when you check. Well there’s nothing else to do then but make a better display case!

 

Unfortunately carpentry is a little more complicated than just sticking wood together, you need to stick it together, preferably using the natural tension in the pieces of wood to work against each other and so hold the creation together, while at the same time getting the lengths just right so that it doesn’t wobble. As your lecterns do. Hopefully the guests don’t look at the bottom of the plinth you think as you hastily revise a few fractions of an inch of this leg and that until the lecterns stand upright.

-1 Carpentry ss, hide option 4, choose again

 

Option 5. Illustrate some guidance notes for the introduction to phemes with Basia. [illustration v 5]

Success: The leaflets need to have the right text, and you are sure that Professor Aventyrare’s notes are perfect, particularly given how careful the older students are to write them, but the pages need something a little more, some art to make them not merely instructive but attractive.

 

Basia has numerous ideas and with your help you quickly add minor illustrations to each leaflet to make each a little more unique and colourful.

+1 Illustration ss, +1 relationship Basia Rydz, hide option 5, choose again

Failure: The leaflets need to have the right text, and you are sure that Professor Aventyrare’s notes are perfect, particularly given how careful the older students are to write them, but the pages need something a little more, some art to make them not merely instructive but attractive.

 

Unfortunately your idea for cute cartoon animals and stylised phemes does not match Basia’s more classical style, and when you argue your right to a more populist stylistic interpretation she gets a librarian to order you to stop in no uncertain terms.

-1 Illustration ss, -1 relationship Basia Rydz, hide option 5, choose again

 

Option 6. Write some invitations to the presentation with Milena. [Calligraphy v 3]

Success: The wording of the invitations is already agreed, but there’s a stack of invitations waiting to be written out, and poor penmanship is simply not an option. Quite aside from embarrassing the school you would be embarrassed to undermine the artistry of the cards

 

Milena, inevitably, has plenty of advice on how to write, from the particular calligraphy style to use to the colour of the ink, but her advice is usually good so you take it with good grace. Milena’s advice turns out pretty good as the first invitations come out very well in your view, and everyone else encourages you to keep going.

+1 illustration ss, +1 relationship Milena di Montors, hide option 6, choose again

Failure: The wording of the invitations is already agreed, but there’s a stack of invitations waiting to be written out, and poor penmanship is simply not an option. Quite aside from embarrassing the school you would be embarrassed to undermine the artistry of the cards

 

Milena, inevitably, has plenty of advice on how to write, from the particular calligraphy style to use to the colour of the ink, but you think it would be better to have some variety in the art style than have all of them come out looking the same. Unfortunately not only does Milena not agree, she complains to a librarian who demands on conformity so that your invitations look exactly like Milena’s.

-1 Art Appreciation ss, -1 relationship Milena di Montors, hide option 5, choose again

 

Option 7. Check the fine details of the phemes categorisation with Zoe. [Orthography v 3]

Success: Each leaflet describes a number of phemes from Ealland, Professor Aventyrare has drawn, on an unusually large scale the phemes in question so that there is no reason for error in their reproduction.

 

You see Zoe frowning worriedly at a leaflet prepared by another book-worm. “I’m’ not sure they have properly drawn this pheme” she says “the larger strokes are fine, but look at the fine detail, some of it is missing.” You take a close look yourself and see she is right, as always. You quickly explain the omissions to the copyists and make the necessary corrections to the leaflets already drawn.

+1 ss, hide option , choose again

Failure: Each leaflet describes a number of phemes from Ealland, Professor Aventyrare has drawn, on an unusually large scale the phemes in question so that there is no reason for error in their reproduction.

 

You see Zoe frowning worriedly at a leaflet prepared by another book-worm. “I’m’ not sure they have properly drawn this pheme” she says “the larger strokes are fine, but look at the fine detail, some of it is missing.” You take a close look yourself and it looks fine to you, frankly, there are a lot of phemes to draw and not a lot of time. Your argument doesn’t satisfy Zoe however who exhausts herself correcting each and every single omission no matter how trivial.

-1 dedication ss, -1 relationship Zoe Melis, hide option 7, choose again

 

 

Option x. Help out here and there until Neera is happy you’ve done enough to avoid letting anyone down.

Reveal at start, hide after any 1 success.

Automatic: Everyone seems happy enough with your help, and after you’ve done enough to avoid looking like a make-weight you make your excuses and leave.

+1 relationship Professor Lisle Aventyrare, -1 Dedication ss, access stage 5.

 

Option y. Help Neera on whatever jobs she needs until you are done.

Reveal after 1 success, hide after 4 success.

Automatic: Neera is really happy with your help, and offers to give you some help with your magic studies when the leaflets are ready for the talk.

+2 relationship Professor Lisle Aventyrare, +1 Dedication ss, Advance to phase 2.

 

Option z. See if Neera is impressed by all your hard work.

Reveal after 4 successes.

Automatic: Neera beams as you approach, “thank you so much for everything you’ve done, I can’t thank you enough, most of the 3rd and 4th years didn’t do so much to help, Professor Aventyrare was really impressed and awarded your house 3 merit points, I’m grateful too so if you want to talk some magical theory over a mug of cocoa I’m happy to oblige!

+3 Merit, +2 relationship Professor Lisle Aventyrare, +1 Dedication ss, Advance to phase 2.

 

Phase 2. Neera’s favour

“So” says Neera, “I know a few areas of magic, which would you like some instruction in?

 

Option 1. Theory of Enchantment

Automatic: Enchantment? The most wondrous of schools of magic, and perhaps the one with the most enduring potency. Certainly the one which makes the wealthy appreciate us the most for so many of them lack the patience or interest to learn magic themselves. Neera’s enthusiasm for Enchantment is infectious and over a few mugs of coca she gives you some insights into the theory of enchantment which are truly exceptional.

+1 Theory of enchantment ss, access stage 5.

 

Option 2. Theory of Incantation

Automatic: “Incantation? Of course, the transformation of mystical energy into the substance of the natural world, most evocative of the arts!” Neera proves quite skilled at Incantation and gives you some fascinating insights into the school of magic.

+1 Theory of Incantation ss, access, stage 5.

 

Option 3. Theory of Glamour

Automatic: “Glamour, the most beautiful and artistically satisfying of the arts!” Neera has a clear knack for glamour spells and shares with you some practical tips and keen insights that you are sure will give you an edge in your studies.

+1 Theory of Glamour ss, access stage 5.

 

Option 4. Theory of Revision

Automatic: “Revision? Of course! The most practical art, that of making the useful from the useless and the better of the adequate!” Neera is fairly skilled at Revision and swiftly teaches you some handy tricks and provides some useful tips.

+1 Theory of Revision ss, access stage 5.

 

 

 

Option 5. Theory of Gates [Persuasion v 15]

Reveal only if the PC has at least 1 gates skill of level 1 or more.

Success: Neera shivers, “what do you mean Gates? Why would you want to learn about that!” You make mollifying gestures, “don’t worry, it’s nothing bad, I’m worried a friend is hanging around with the wrong people and might do something foolish – I just want to know what to look out for” Neera shakes her head, “Why would you think I know anything about such magics?” You make yourself look apologetic, “I saw some symbols in your personal notebook a few times, one was a pheme….” To avoid drawing attention you casually sketch it in the froth of her mug of cocoa “I won’t tell anyone, I know you’d never do anything foolish, I’m just worried about my friend.”

 

Neera looks frightened, you are not sure whether by the thought of you telling the professors about her notebook, or of telling you about it. Neera sighs “your friend needs to stop hanging around such folk, such magic is horribly dangerous, even the most skilled mage in such arts is at risk of their mages going awry, or having unpredictable side effects” she shivers and you realise her fear is deeply personal, “I’ll give you some pointers of what to look out for in terms of rituals, spells, phemes, interests and so on, but you must never tell anyone I did, and if you see any of the signs in your friend tell me, I know a professor who can look into it discreetly.”

+1 Theory of Gates ss, access stage 5

Failure: Neera blanches, Gates? Don’t be ridiculous! What would I know of such things!” You press, explaining that you’ve seen her notebook, and know what some of the phemes mean – she is clearly studying Gates to at least some degree. She can trust you, you just want to know what some symbols in a book you read meant, you aren’t going to cast any banned magic now are you? Neera shakes her head, “whatever you read, forget about it, and whatever you thought you saw you were mistaken, Gates magic is horribly dangerous, to its own users as much as anyone else, that’s why it was banned. No, ask me to teach you something else.” You can see she is fixed in her mind, and suspect that her incriminating notebook is not long for this world, you think you’d better not talk to her about Gates again.

-1 persuasion ss, choose again.

 

 

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Book-worms 5: The day after the night before

 

Another multiple-choice adventure.

 

 

 

Usually you just turn up to the library when you have some spare time and feel like it. Today however you get a note from the librarians. “Dear book-worms, please can all of you who are available come to the library to assist with some urgent cleaning.”

 

On arriving the issue becomes clear, the library is a terrible state, it looks like the aftermath of a prank-war in a dormitory, though most pranksters are wise enough to steer well clear of the library, the outraged litany from the head librarian as he shows professor Storey the mess suggests that the pranksters will soon find out why.

 

It is obvious why the librarians have called all the book-worms in, there is just so much mess to clean up! Books have been thrown all over the place, puddles of foul-smelling goo are on the floor, the direction signs and notices have been torn up and moved around, and various other oddities abound that older students are dealing with.

 

Neera walks over to you when she sees you looking weary, you suspect she has already been working on the clean-up for some time, “wonderful, you’re here! First years are on the physical duties – clean and tidy please, this library will be open by lunchtime and spotless when it does so! Pick a task, they are fairly obvious, and do what you can to help please.”

 

Only 1 phase, pass or fail each try removes an option from 1-7 below. Exit ‘x’ is open from the start, exit ‘y’ reveals after 1 success, exit ‘z’ reveals after 5 successes.

 

Option 1. Do grunt work, move sorted stacks of books from the book-pile to the right shelves. [brute strength v 6]

Success: Some of the books have already been gathered, soothed, and put into neat stacks for each section of the library. Grabbing one of the librarian’s book carts you get stuck in, hauling each stack to the distribution point for each section of the library, where other students can do the actual filing without needing to traipse all over the library with each book. It is tiring work but quite satisfying.

+1 Brute strength ss, choose again.

Failure: Neat stacks of books for different sections of the library? Check! Librarian’s cart for pushing stacks of books? Check! Aaran Ledale doing the same job up for a competition? Check! At first the two of you are level pegging, each taking about the same time to shift each stack of books. After half an hour however they have a good lead building up so you start to run. Unfortunately librarian’s carts make for very poor racing carts, and combined with elderly rugs turn out to be significantly deficient in the brakes capacity when you round a corner at full tilt and see poor Ausdaur Mollers dead ahead. Fortunately the books don’t seem hurt, and the librarian’s cart was already quite battered, so they are ok, Ausdaur Moller on the other hand is likely to have quite a collection of bruises thanks to you, and with the time to help them back up and reload the cart you’ve definitely lost the race!

-1 relationship Ausdaur Mollers, choose again

 

Option 2. Time to file! Sort the heaps of books into neat piles to be carried back to the shelves. [Filing v 6]

Success: The first order of business you think is to pick up the books and smooth their pages before they crease, once the books are properly closed they need to be filed, after that, well, if you are done in time you’ll think about afterwards then. The books seem very grateful to be gently gathered and settled, and filing them into stacks for different sections of the library is quite satisfying.

+1 Filing ss, choose again.

Failure: Picking the books up, smoothing their pages, closing them and then sorting them into neat stacks is so calming that you quite lose track of what everyone else is doing. Which is something of a problem as other students are clearly less diligent, Aaran LeDale in particular obviously got carried away hauling books as they push their librarian’s cart far too quickly, and given the choice of hitting the books or you, choose the target easier to heal… Fortunately Neera negates your wounds but Aaran seems somehow to blame you for the telling off he gets which seems, you think, quite unfair.

-1 relationship Aaron LeDale, choose again.

 

Option 3. Hold your noise and mop up the foul smelling puddles [Endurance v 6]

Success: It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Gathering a mop and bucket you mop up the foul-smelling puddles taking care not to step into them or let any of the vile fluid splash on to you. Your club-mates are only to please to let you handle the puddles and the librarians look pretty happy with you as well!

+1 to relationship to 2 random students from (Ausdaur Mollers, Aaran LeDale, Basia Rydz, Courtenay de Surval, Milena di Montors, Zoe Melis), choose again.

Fail: The trouble with being thoughtful you think glumly taking a mop and bucket, is that those who rush in sometimes grab the best jobs leaving you with, well, the mopping up. In this case mopping up puddles of truly foul smelling fluid, no matter how you try you can’t avoid getting some of it on you and although you’ve done the worst job in the clean-up you suspect that no-one will want to come close enough to thank you.

+1 endurance ss, gain stenchtastic condition, choose again.

 

Option 4. Soothe the angry books. [Diplomacy v 6]

Success: While the mess is obviously a problem for the librarians and students, you know that the books hate to be shown such disrespect too, and the last thing you want is for angry books to start taking revenge on random students. Finding the more sulky books and talking them into a more positive frame of mind takes some doing but in the end the shelves are more likely to mutter words of encouragement to the clean-up crew than to grumble imprecations about disrespectful students.

+1 Diplomacy ss, choose again

Failure: When characters from the second book started muttering ‘young ruffians’, ‘scallywags’, and saying things like ‘in my day we respected our library’ you knew that someone would have to soothe the hurt feelings of the library books in addition to the physical cleaning up, you should possibly have left the soothing to someone else though, as all you do is rouse some of the books into ever more furious denunciations of the current student body. Well, at least you can tell the librarians which books will cause trouble, if only you’d managed it before a book on siege warfare blasted you and Basia Rydz with tiny pots of burning oil, your robes manage to avoid igniting but her hair isn’t so fortunate. She will forgive you….eventually.

-1 relationship Basia Rydz, choose again

 

Option 5. Figure out some of the more obscure filing references and file the harder books. [Library [knowledge v 6]

Success: Filing isn’t just about grouping things together in the obvious order you think, each library has its own way of doing things, and that goes double for a magical library. Several tomes had to be removed from sorted stacks when they started getting restless and squabbling with the other books, while others may nominally relate to one area of study, but actually contain information of more use to another in their actual text. Fortunately the inside cover of each book has a filing categorisation, that would make it simple but for the fact that over the generations librarians have changed the categorisation systems several times, and re-categorised numerous books. That’s no real trouble though if you know the history of the filing system, and so it doesn’t take you long to properly identify which categorisation system should be used.

+1 Library knowledge ss, choose again

Failure: This should be easy you think somewhat glumly. Every book should have a library reference in its inside cover. Unfortunately over the the generations librarians have changed the categorisation systems several times, and re-categorised numerous books, and some terribly humorous students have amused themselves by obscuring the references. After a fruitless half hour you decide to try something else before you start tearing your hair out in frustration.

+1 stress, choose again.

 

Option 6. Write new notice boards and direction signs [Elumian v 5]

Success: It’s boring but necessary, and you force yourself to be precise and write clearly even after you’ve done dozens of signs. You know how picky the librarians are and so it is quite satisfying when the librarian you give the notices too says ‘well done’.

+1 Elumian ss, choose again

Failure: How embarrassing! After half an hour copying signs you suddenly realise that you’ve managed to copy a typo into at least a dozen, give how picky the librarians are you don’t dare let them see your mistake and by the time you have hidden the evidence and hastily written new signs you are quite flustered.

+1 stress, choose again.

 

Option 7. Scout the library for issues. [Patrol v 5]

Success: Looking around you realise that the mess isn’t just untidiness, the pranksters have booby-trapped some of the library mobile ladders to break when they are climbed, and weakened some of the shelves to give way and drop their books onto someone who starts loading the books back on to them, nasty! You’ll need to get a carpenter to deal with this!

Hide option 7, reveal option 8, choose again

Failure: choose again

 

Option 8. Fix the ladder and reinforce the damaged shelves before they break. [Carpentry v 3]

Success: Looking at the ladders and shelves you realise that the reason they are sagging and dangerous is because a number of dowels have been removed, it’s not too complicated to fix, you just need to find the dowels, or whittle some more from wood, and knock them in place to the hold all the pieces of wood together.

 

Finding the dowels is not too hard, most of them have just been dropped near where they were removed. A few need to be remade or reshaped, and pushing the wood back into place so the dowels can hold it together, but with a little effort you manage to get everything firmly fixed together.

+1 carpentry ss, choose again

Failure: The problem with the ladders and shelves is easy to diagnose, someone has removed the dowels holding the various pieces of wood in place. Unfortunately it turns out to be a lot harder to make new dowels then you thought, it turns out that there is more to it than just whittling small bits of wood down to the right size, as the first time you put a shelf ‘back together’ the new dowel breaks when the shelf is loaded with books dumping them right on top of your head. After a few tries you get the hang of it, you need to use a hard wood, make sure that the grain of the wood runs along the dowel, and put it in place so that the tension in the various pieces of wood then work against each other to hold the shelf together. Not bad for someone with minor concussion from being under a book avalanche you think!

-1 vitality, +1 carpentry, choose again.

 

Option x. Meh, no thanks, let others clean up, that is what paid staff are for.

-1 relationship Professor Storey, end adventure, access stage 5

 

Option y. You’ve done your share, time for something more fun.

Gain ability: A Quiet Night’s filing, access stage 5, end adventure.

 

Option z. The librarians have stopped clucking, and even Professor Storey is smiling, time to go.

+3 relationship Professor Storey, Gain ability: A Quiet Night’s filing, access stage 5, end adventure.

 

Ability: A quiet night filing: +1 ss random library skill, +10 pims, and 50% chance of +1 ss random skill or -1 stress

 

 

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Bookworms 6: Digging through the bookpile

Sitting at the book-pile digging through the returned books is always a bit of a voyage of discovery, if sometimes terror when one of those books is in the pile and the librarian or a senior book-worm pounces before you can go near it uttering some terrible warning that leaves you wondering what the book was about, after all, the really dangerous books are couriered to and from the library by carefully chosen students, so what could be so bad about the pile?

 

No the most problematic tomes you comes across in practice are those that need repair work, or which simply don’t seem to fit any filing system. For example the book on dwarven love sagas that three generations of book-worms have left in the ‘too difficult to file pile’ and which the librarians refuse to discuss. What you do know is that if the book is filed in the poetry section, the next morning finds the floor covered in pages torn from elven poetry books and crushed blossoms all over the floor, while if it is filed with the military songs and sailing chanties section the next morning finds the poetry book outside the section and the other books huddled away from the terrible dwarven tome covered in ale and breadcrumbs with McGrannigan’s book of siege-craft reeking of spirits, its shelf sodden with tears and cracks in the mortar around it.

 

And then of course there are books like this. Neatly labelled, oh so neatly. But not in Elumian, no, that would be far too common for such a tome. These exquisite books on some abstruse arcane point are borrowed only by the most senior (or pretentious) students and wealthy (and even more pretentious) Minetans, and mere Elumian simply wouldn’t do. This book is labelled, with painstakingly perfect calligraphy, in Oncestrian. The language for those who wish to make clear to all that they are better bred, or at least better educated than everyone else.

 

Option 1. Translate the label and figure out where it needs to be filed. [Oncestrian v 5]

Success: Elumian is derived – distantly – from Oncestrian and the book turns out not to be too hard to figure out once you take a look at a few of the illustrations. Determining the exact placement takes a bit more work, but the real oddity is the note you find tucked away near the back, a strip of paper covered in faint writing that was obviously forgotten about by the borrower of the book.

+1 Oncestrian ss, advance to phase 2.

Failure. Elumian may be distantly derived from Oncestrian, but the distance becomes clear every time you try to figure the language out. You eventually figure out that the book is about something to do with manners and stuff it back on one of the Etiquette shelves hoping that it isn’t too far from its exact proper place. Now you just need to figure out what to do with the note you found tucked near the back.

-1 Oncestrian ss, advance to phase 2.

 

Option 2. Ask Milena if they know someone who can translate for you. [social skills v 7]

Milena knows everyone, or at least, everyone who knows anything that other people want to know. Half of some people’s pocket money goes on paying her to hire someone to help with homework. Slightly carefully, as you don’t want to risk her thinking that you are asking for paid advice, you pass the book to Milena and ask her if she knows someone who can read the label.

Success. Milena smiles, "if you are interested I know some good tutors – if you want to get on in life you’ll find Oncestrian really helpful. I can read it well enough for this though, you want the Etiquette section, aisle 3, shelf 6, anywhere should do." The two of you swap jokes over the next few minutes about how stuffy the borrower had to be, to write the label in Oncestrian and how good Milena is at finding people tutors before she gets engrossed in repairing a text leaving you to wonder about the note that fell out of the back of the book while you were straightening out some of the pages.

+1 relationship Milena di Montors, advance phase 2.

Failure. Milena looks up clearly annoyed at being interrupted from her own sorting and sniffs critically, “me of course, everyone of taste, breeding or education can read Oncestrian, and this is written so clearly you could have figured it out with Elumian. It’s etiquette – the book that is, table manners for formal dining with one’s peers from another culture. I’d recommend you read it but there wouldn’t be much point, I’m sure you can get by with crisps and berry juice.” You are so upset with Milena’s haughty put-down you don’t notice the note tucked at the back of the book until it falls out when you ram the book back into its spot in the library.

+1 stress, -1 relationship Milena di Montors, advance phase 2.

 

 

Option 3. Put it in the difficult pile and move on. [Patience v 7]

Success: The idea is to file books properly – books plural, not to spend the entire evening faffing around over one book that someone more senior could categorise and file properly in 10 minutes. The book fits easily on the difficult pile shelf and you are on to the next book without a second thought, quickly getting into a soothing routine.

-1 stress, +1 patience ss, access to stage 7.

 

Failure: The idea is to file books properly – books plural, not to spend the entire evening faffing around over one book that someone more senior could categorise and file properly in 10 minutes. The book fits easily on the difficult pile shelf and you are on to the next book, part of you wishes that you could spend the time investigating but you console yourself by amassing a small hill of books sorted for proper filing back in the library.

+1 stress, +1 planning ss, access to stage 7.

 

Phase 2. See if you can use read the faint writing on the note

The note is so faint that you are sure it must be magically concealing its message, you might just be able to read it anyway,

 

Option 1. Try to work your way through the glamour [Magical appraisal v 7]

Success: You think you should be able to figure out the glamour with a little effort and in fact it isn’t hard at all as you manage to see through it without even dispelling it just be concentrating a little. As you read the note the minor glamour covering the note vanishes and the writing becomes clear, Henri obviously is more enthusiastic then talented in his magecraft.

 

The note is from ‘Henri’, a third year student who wants help wooing ‘Ciara’ from his friend ‘Jacques’, who clearly likes to use heartfelt pleas for aid as a book-mark, Henri needs better friends you suspect. Henri has asked Jacques to find him some pure pink rose blossoms and a book of love poetry so he can come up with the right verse to impress Ciara.

 

Henry may not be much good at magecraft but he does however obviously have good friends you absently muse looking at the note, as his note is written on the back of a study permissions slip for one of the private booths in the library.

+1 Magical appraisal ss, advance phase 3.

Failure: You think you should be able to figure out the glamour with a little effort and get stuck in, almost an hour later and with your head pounding from stubbornly bludgeoning your way through the glamour your efforts manage to dispel the glamour.

 

The note is from ‘Henri’, a third year student who wants help wooing ‘Ciara’ from his friend ‘Jacques’, who clearly likes to use heartfelt pleas for aid as a book-mark, Henri needs better friends you suspect. Henri has asked Jacques to find him some pure pink rose blossoms and a book of love poetry so he can come up with the right verse to impress Ciara.

 

Henry may not be much good at magecraft but he does however obviously have good friends you absently muse looking at the note, as his note is written on the back of a study permissions slip for one of the private study booths in the library.

+1 stress, advance phase 3.

 

Option 2. Try to read the faint script [Decipher handwriting v 7]

Success. A glamour makes the writing hard to see, but as you focus on it you realise that the glamour isn’t doing much more than that. Carefully considering the flowing writing style you manage to piece together what the message says even through the weak glamour, it turns out that Henri, a third year with family in Mineta wants some help with romancing a student named Ciara, ahh, l’amore!

 

Henri’s family must have some clout as you notice that the note is written on the back of a study permissions form for one of the private study booths in the library.

+1 Decipher handwriting ss, advance to phase 3

Failure: Reading the tiny faint script makes your eyes water, but eventually you figure the note out, at which point the glamour fades leaving you to wonder if you could have saved yourself the effort if you’d waited, or if you somehow broke the glamour just by figuring the note out. It turns out that Henri, a third year with family in Mineta wants some help with romancing a student named Ciara, if the glamour hadn’t left you with a headache you’d have found it quite sweet.

 

Henri’s family must have some clout as you notice that the note is written on the back of a study permissions form for one of the private study booths in the library.

+1 stress, advance to phase 3

 

 

Option 3. The writing is hard to read, but you can often figure out a lot in a message just by looking at how something is written. [Orthography v 5]

Success: While the writing is faint, it is quite precise. From the layout it is fairly clear that it is a request, so you figure that makes the bit there the writer’s name, that bit is the recipient’s name and likely a standard plea from one of the popular romances, leaving this bit here for the request itself. The florid twirls to the writing and flowers indicate a romantic request, while the use of blue ink suggests an informal request between peers, rather than a romantic plea itself.

 

After some work you manage to get the general gist of the message. Henri (a third year from certain class references) is writing to his friend Jacques to get some poetry and pink rose petals with which to impress a student called Ciara. Amused at figuring out the note you absently wonder whether you should return it to one of the three students involved – or make use of the study permissions form for one of the private study booths in the library that the note is written on the back of.

+1 Orthography ss, advance phase 3.

Failure: It takes quite a while, but are able to reduce the note to its constituent parts through its layout, allowing each part to be worked on independently, once you have the first bit the second isn’t too hard and the last bit then practically falls into place on its own. More effort than a plea for help from a romantic third year called Henri, than the hapless would-be-suitor for ‘Ciara’ probably deserves given that his glamour collapsed as soon as you read his note, you can’t help that the money his parent’s are spending on the Academagia study is poorly spent, certainly the hire of a private booth is, given that Henri used the back of a permissions form for his note!

+1 stress, advance phase 3.

 

Option 4. See if you can’t freshen up the text with a handy potion [ink compounds v 5]

Success: While the glamour is making the writing harder to see, the effect isn’t much more than badly faded ink – and you have a cure for that over in the book repair room! A little effort and you rustle up some ink refresher potion and soon after the note is easier to see, still faint, but it should be much easier to figure out.

Temporary +33% chance of success, hide option 4, choose again.

Failure: Nope, you are out of luck, the book repair room is utterly lacking in ink refresher potion. You make a note for the librarian’s to request more from Professor Leith and consider your options with regard to the note.

Hide option 4, choose again.

 

 

Phase 3. What to do with the note now?

Option 1. Ownership is nine tenths of the law! Take the benefit of the note to enjoy a sneaky bit of research in the study.

Automatic: You need to get the right to a private study booth more often, no interruptions, no distractions, just you and a notes tube to request books with, bliss! Hopefully Henri never finds out you took his note though!

+1 stress, +1 study habits ss, +1 to random research skill, access stage 7.

 

Option 2. Romance should always be supported! Get the poetry book and rose petals yourself and give them to Henri!

Automatic: Getting hold of Ciara’s library request list is easy for a book-worm, and you see that she regularly checks out books of poetry from the Early Empire, particularly one book – just the thing for Henri to show her that he is the guy for her! Rose petals are almost as easy at this time of year, needing little more than a walk through the gardens and careful gathering of fallen petals.

 

You find Henri pondering deeply at the part of the lake that the note referred to, after his initial surprise at seeing you he thanks you profusely for your gift, particularly when you explain that you brought Ciara’s favourite book. “You are the very messenger of Amorii, my friend, I have some poetry to memorise, but I promise you a thank you after my date with Ciara!”

 

True to his work a few days later you receive a thank you note and some candy, no good deed goes unrewarded!

+1 Romance ss, gain 5 caramel chews, access stage 7.

 

Option 3. Pass the note to its intended recipient.

Automatic: Given that Henri is a blundering dolt who can’ figure out what poetry to use or gather rose petals on his own, and Jacques is the sort of person who uses a heart-felt plea for aid as a random book-mark, you don’t think either one is a good recipient for the note. You don’t feel it is right to throw it away though, or use the oh-so-tempting permissions note, so you decide to give it to Ciara.

 

Ciara turns out to be a pretty if not in your view particularly stunning girl, who takes the note with some trepidation, saying “not another note from some blethering idiot who doesn’t have the courage to deliver it himself!” She reads it and shakes her head, “no, even worse, one who has spent so long staring he didn’t think to listen to the poetry I talk about! But then why would my feelings matter to him when he’s so wrapped up in himself?” She chuckles, “but for all his faults Henri is an amiable enough fool for someone with his money, and I can turn this to my advantage easily enough, my thanks for it, here, a little something for your trouble.

+1 intrigue ss, gain 50 pims, access to stage 7.

 

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And now the first stage in the story-arc to take our hero to the end of the book-worms club.

 

Book-worms 7: A Night in the Library

 

 

Sometimes time goes at a strange pace in the library, or so it seems. You’d swear that you’d only spent an hour or so in the library filing books (and trying to stop Zoe Melis and Milena di Montiors from killing each other) and yet when you get to the main door you find that the doors are locked, oops, you’ve missed curfew. “I hope we don’t get caught” says Milena, ‘even book-worms aren’t supposed to be here after hours.” Zoe pipes up, “the librarians do one set of doors at a time, the main doors first – if we each run to a different exit and meet up at the central stairs if it’s locked, we’ll know which ones haven’t been locked yet by whoever isn’t back!”

 

You don’t have time for a better plan so you each head for your favourite exit, locked! Argh! Running quickly back to the stairs you are sad to see Zoe and Aaran LeDale are already there. [Milena’s door must not have been locked, let’s run!” says Aaran, “I don’t think so” says Zoe, look, here comes Your Lofty-ness now.” Sure enough Milena is just in sight running back to the stairs. “What, all of you too?” Milena looks aghast. “They can’t have locked all the doors already!” Zoe shrugs, “well unless you know another exit than the ones we agreed to try…” says Zoe leaving the question hanging, Milena’s shaking head suggests otherwise.

 

OK, let’s not panic” says Aaran, “the library is banned after dark, I mean, it’s not actually dangerous it it? Umm, I mean it wouldn’t be, would it?”

 

You would have felt so much better, and found it so much easier to reassure him, if there hadn’t been an odd clattering sound from the darkness just when he said that…

 

Option 1. Peer into the shadows and look for movement or reflections. [Observation v 8]

Success: Keep your eyes open, it’s the best advice for when you are looking for something, and with four of you, you can cover all the angles. Something you need to point out to your friends every time something makes one of them jump and they all start looking in the same direction!

 

It doesn’t take long before you see some movement in the stacks and the four of you quickly hunt down the disturbance to a corner of the library, where you see a book on the floor in the centre of a moonbeam.

+1 Observation, advance to phase 2

Failure: You don’t see anything except shadows and jumpy club-mates, you’ll have to try something else.

Remove option 1, +1 stress, choose again.

 

Option 2. Listen for anything moving. [Perception v 8]

Success: At first you don’t hear anything, but after a while (and shushing Zoe and Milena who keep blaming each other for you all being late) you hear some scuffling from a corner of the library. Nervously investigating the source of the sounds the scuffling noises led you to a book lying in the centre of a moonbeam.

+1 Perception ss, advance to phase 2

Failure: You can’t hear anything over your bickering classmates for more than a few moments, there is certainly something out there, but you have no idea what, maybe you should try some other way to find it?

Remove option 2, +1 stress, choose again.

 

Option 3. Cast Ancillo’s Horoscope to see if there is danger about [Astrology spells v 8]

Success: You see a book, outline in a circle of moonlight coming in through one of the skylights… the cases nearby are decorated with carvings it must be on the east side of the library! Maybe that’s where the sound came from, you’ll have to investigate, if you don’t figure out what caused the sound you’ll be worried all night!

+1 Astrology spells, advance phase 2.

Failure: You are swiftly engrossed in drawing your spell palette, unfortunately just as you are about to cast your spell another sound makes everyone jump – in the case of Milena right into you. You just manage to ground the spell before it goes horribly wrong, but looking at the odd smoke coming from your wand and feeling it vibrate, you figure you’d better not try casting with it for a few hours. You’ll have to try something else.

Remove option 3, +1 stress, choose again.

 

Option 4. Take a good look around. [Patrol v 8]

Success: The gloom of the library makes it hard to see anything, though moonlight filters in through some of the skylights to give a little illumination. Not wanting to split up the four of you patrol, wands out and skittish as kittens. Nothing seems out of the ordinary however, at least, ordinary by library standards, and you are about to consign yourselves to a nervous night when you hear scuffling sounds ahead, hurrying forward you see a faintly glowing book in the centre of a moonbeam.

+1 Patrol ss, advance to phase 2.

Failure: Summoning your courage you patrol the library with your club mates. Creeping down one creepy dark aisle after another isn’t your idea of a good night, and by the time you get over to the west side you are jumping at every shadow. Which is probably how you manage not to notice the cloak someone dropped on the floor until after you have tripped over it. “You clumsy idiot” shrieks Melina, probably because of the way you grabbed her dress and half pulled it off as you fell, but still you feel somewhat miffed by the insult. Still, the sight of a faintly glowing library book in the dead centre of a moonbeam makes you feel a little better, somehow you know it is connected to the spooky noises.

-1 relationship Milena di Montors, advance phase 2.

 

Option 5. Meh, just find somewhere to sleep and sneak out in the morning.

Well, you may have avoided traipsing around after shadows all night, but with your club mates jumping at every sound you don’t get much sleep. Oh well, you should be able to make a story out of it to share with your class mates later.

End adventure, access stage 8.

 

 

Phase 2. The strange book

The book is quite a chunky one, ornately bound – though that isn’t unusual in the library, even the faint glow is fairly humdrum by the standards of some of the texts you’ve handled this term. The way it lies so centrally in the moonbeam however is curious.

 

The book cover flaps slightly as you watch, despite the absence of any breeze, and you see its pages shiver. From the shelf beyond the moonbeam is an ominous rustle that sounds almost like a growl, something is clearly going on here!

 

Option 1. Clearly address the book and command it to explain the strange noise. [Command v 8]

Success: “The legend of Rohan the Werebeast slayer” you say reading the title. “Explain yourself what is going on here? What is with all the commotion? We heard you right across the library!” There is a moments pause then the book shuffles slightly and a small hunter climbs out from between the pages, looks up at you and says, “quiet child, the beasts prowl without!”

+1 Command ss, advance to phase 3

Failure: “The legend of Rohan the Werebeast slayer” you say reading the title. “Um” you pause wondering what you had planned to say next but forgetting, “do you like the moonlight?” Not on reflection your best question ever you think. A moment later however the pages rustle and a small hunter climbs from the book. “Like the moonlight child? Like it? What would ever make you think that when here my book lies circled by it pray tell? Perhaps the fact that as a hunter I find the moon casts light by which to hunt mayhap? But then what beasts are roused in darkness save those that prey on men? So perhaps a better question would be what beasts despise the moonlight, and by the answer come to understand why I am within it, as any sensible child should be right now with the beasts lurking outside!”

-1 command ss, advance to phase 3.

 

Option 2. Walk into the moon beam and pick up the book. [Courage v 8]

Success: “Well, they do say that the gods love fools and little girls” says Zoe, “maybe one of us should just walk in and pick it up. “You first shopkeeper” responds Milena, “That positioning screams warding to me.” Zoe flinches at Milena’s catty tone and retorts “by a book? A natural shield against Selenophobics at best, nothing that should affect any of us, unless you have something to tell the rest of us Your Lofty-ness?” Not for the first time you wonder how quieter the book-worms club would be if one of the constantly squabbling pair left the club, probably much, but Zoe practically lives in the library and Milena finds half her tutors in it, so both of them are keen to keep the good graces of the librarians by helping out as book-worms.

 

Sighing deeply you walk up to the moonbeam, those two will be squabbling for a while, so it’s up to you. Stepping into the moonlight is something of a let-down as it doesn’t even tingle slightly. As you pick up the book however you feel that it is vibrating, the book opens and the pages turn to an illustration of a hunter. To your surprise the hunter in the picture looks at you. “Stay in the moonbeam child! The beasts prowl outside!” For a moment you hesitate, but the hunter sounds sincere. “Guys, the book says there are beasts outside the moonbeam…”

+1 Courage ss, advance to phase 3.

Failure: “Well, they do say that the gods love fools and little girls” says Zoe, “maybe one of us should just walk in and pick it up. “You first shopkeeper” responds Milena, “That positioning screams warding to me.” Zoe flinches at Milena’s catty tone and retorts “by a book? A natural shield against Seleneophobics at best, nothing that should affect any of us, unless you have something to tell the rest of us Your Lofty-ness?” Not for the first time you wonder how quieter the book-worms club would be if one of the constantly squabbling pair left the club, probably much, but Zoe practically lives in the library and Milena finds half her tutors in it so both of them are keen to keep the good graces of the librarians by helping out as book-worms.

 

You certainly aren’t going to step inside the beam and pick up the book though, so while Zoe and Milena bicker, Aaran does so, giving you a scornful look as they go. “Um, guys” says Aaran, a picture of a hunter in the book says that there are beasts prowling outside the moon beam and we should step inside…

-1 relationship Aaran LeDale, advance phase 3.

 

Option 3. Draw the blinds over the skylight to shut out the moonlight. [Danger sense v 8]

Success: “If we draw the blinds over the skylight we should break any enchantment based on the moonbeam without directly interfering with it” you say nervously, “what do you think?” Zoe frowns “most moon-magic is protective, at least for a full moon like this, I don’t think we should draw the blinds.” Milena, always on the other side of any discussion with Zoe in it, sneers “that shows what little you know of moon magic shopkeeper, there are plenty of lures and bewitchments based on moon magic and the full moon has plenty of madness magic associations”, Zoe of course retorts “for a standing moon-beam? And without any focus for the lure? Unless you are very fond of books? I think not Your Lofty-ness” Aaran LeDale steps towards the draw strings for the skylight obviously not interested in listening to the ongoing bickering, but something makes you put a hand on their shoulder to stop them. Which is possibly for the best as you see a small hunter climb from the book with an alarmed look on his face, the hunter cries out “Halt” surprised you look at the book where you see a small hunter leaning out from between its pages, “there are beasts in the darkness foolish child, step within the light!”

+1 relationship [student], +1 relationship Milena, -1 relationship Zoe Melis, +1 danger-sense ss, advance phase 3.

Failure: OK, the book is clearly out of place lying in the middle of the floor like that, and its placement in the centre of the moonbeam is too perfect to be coincidence, it practically screams ‘magic’ bathed in the moonlight like that, you don’t know the spells yourself yet but moonlight magic is often used in lures you think, so this is clearly a trap. But there’s an obvious way to cancel whatever magic is about, and that is to draw the blinds shut, any magic based on moonlight will fade as soon as the blinds shut out the light.

 

Without hesitation you reach forward and pull hard on the draw-cords, “what are you doing?” Shrieks Zoe jumping forward to grab your arms, “out of the way shop-keeper!” Commands Milena blocking Zoe’s path, and with that the blinds shut and for a moment the library is pitch black.

 

A deep growl echoes around the library, almost like a laugh and your confidence in your plan evaporates. “Did…did anyone else hear that?” Says Milena very quietly, The second growl is closer and you hear a clatter heading towards you, then a small voice cries out “the light children! The beasts despise the light!” There is a third growl almost on top of you and then suddenly light again, Aaran you see having pulled the blinds open again. You see something moving just outside the light, something big and…evil. “Step further into the light children! Quickly before it charges!” You see a small hunter standing on the book waving you in, and with the growls from the darkness don’t need to be told twice! As you squeeze in Zoe stares at you like you are mad “I can’t believe you drew the blinds!” She hisses, “Haven’t you read a word on Moonlight wardings???”

-1 relationship Zoe Melis, advance phase 3.

 

Option 4. Ask your club mates what they think you should do. [Conversation v 8]

Success: “OK guys, we could just grab it, but I’m not sure that that’s the best approach, what do you think?” Aaran LeDale considers, well, it is just a book, and it doesn’t have any locks or chains on its cover, so it shouldn’t be one of the really dangerous books.” Melina frowns thoughtfully “there are some nasty lure charms based on moonlight, though not usually with a book as the focal point of the lure, in the library though it would make some sense…” Zoe purses her lips, “I hate to agree with Her Lofty-ness, but I’ve heard of those charms too. She casts a spell so quickly you don’t get to see what phemes she writes in her palette, a moment later she looks surprised, “there’s no particular magic in the moonbeam, but there’s something in the shadows beyond!”

 

“Indeed there is something in the shadows, most insightful mistress mage!” The voice is small but defiant, “foul beasts lurk beyond the moonlight, step within and be safe!”

+1 relationship Zoe Melis, +1 relationship Milena di Montors, +1 relationship Aaran LeDale, advance to phase 3.

 

Failure: “OK guys, what do you think we should do?” Says Aaran LeDale “It doesn’t have any locks or chains on its cover, so it shouldn’t be one of the really dangerous books, but when the books are awake they can be quite powerful.” Melina frowns thoughtfully “there are some nasty lure charms based on moonlight, though not usually with a book as the focal point of the lure, in the library though it would make some sense…” Zoe purses her lips, “I hate to agree with Her Lofty-ness, but I’ve heard of those charms too.” Shaking your head you say “good grief, you lot would stare at it all night if I wasn’t here!” Before they can do anything else you step into the moonlight and pick up the book, only to drop it in shock a moment later when a small hunter climbs from the between the pages. The hunter picks themselves up from the floor and gives your club-mates a withering look. “So this is what the student body has sunk to, 3 terrified babies huddling at the sight of a book and only one of you with the gumption to step up to me! Or for that matter, the wit to realise that there are foul beasts prowling without the moonbeam and safety lies within!” You note with some amusement the angry looks on your club-mates faces at hearing the hunter’s scornful words, oh how silly they must feel! Hang on a moment, what did the hunter say? Beasts prowling without???

+1 practical jokes ss, -1 relationship Zoe Melis, -1 relationship Milena di Montors, -1 relationship Aaran LeDale advance to phase 3.

 

Option 5. Take a good look at the book before going near it [Magical appraisal v 8]

Success: The book looks like it fits in with this part of the library, ornate cover, eldritch glow, a title written so fancily it is barely readable, “The legend of Rohan the Werebeast slayer” not necessarily right for this shelving which is all about various magical beasts, rather than heroes who slew them, but close enough. In fact the slight incongruity of the titles gives you a clue what may be going on here, the book may be squabbling with its neighbours who don’t like having a hunter amongst them.

Temporary +25% chance of success, remove option 5, choose again.

Failure: It’s a magical book, well, what a surprise being as you are in one of the biggest library of magical books in all the isles. “The legend of Rohan the Werebeast slayer” is the title, beyond that there really isn’t much you can tell from a distance.

Remove option 5, choose again.

 

 

Phase 3. The beasts

Exchanging quick looks all four of your step into the moonbeam, making it quite crowded to be honest, particularly as no one picked up the book and you need to step around it, and the small hunter who has perched on the end of the book.

 

“Sooo” says Milena, “who are you and what beasts are you talking about?”

 

“Me? I am Rohan, the Werebeast slayer” says the small hunter proudly, “fearless defender of the people and tireless foe of the beasts that prowl the darkness, beasts such as that!” Turning in the direction he points you see something charging at you, it is hard to see what it is beyond darkness, fangs and claws, and given its pace you don’t have much time, what do you do?”

 

Option 1. You have a wand, blast it! [incantation spells v 8]

Success: As if some shadowy beast is a match for four students! As Milena and Zoe duck into the moonbeam for cover and Aaran picks up a heavy book to thump it with, you draw your wand and with a practiced flourish blast the beast with icicles, with a cat-like yowl the beast staggers backwards, before dissipating into smoke. Aha! A book-spirit! Just as you thought!

+1 Incantation spells, advance phase 4.

Failure: Of course, Aaran, you really need to remember to check where Aaran is before you try casting anything exuberant, as magic has a bad habit of going horribly wrong around him. Like when you tried to blast the shadowbeast just now, and instead managed to blast Zoe with icicles instead. Which is a pity as Zoe is quite friendly most of the time. “Bad luck shop-keeper!” Calls Milena as she draws her spell, “Try to remember to duck next time [PC name] tries magic!” With that she casts her own spell and a bright light flashes from her wand and strikes the beast. The beast staggers, and then evaporates into smoke, “Hmm” says Zoe, “not bad your Loftiness, you can actually do something for yourself after all – even if it is only dissipating a book-spirit!” Zoe gives you a hurt look as she brushes icicles from her robes and negates the injuries you caused, as least Aaran seems sympathetic you muse.

-1 relationship Zoe Melis, +1 relationship Aaran LeDale, advance phase 4.

 

Option 2. Lob a book at it! [schoolyard education v 8]

Success: There’s no time to think, or to cast a spell, you grab the nearest hard heavy object and throw it. Rohan the Werebeast slayer spins through the air before striking the beast square between the eyes. The beast stops in its tracks stunned, and the pause gives your club-mates time to cast their spells, a windcharm from Milena di Montors that blows the beast back and pins it against the wall, followed by a blast of intense light from Zoe that leaves you all blinking but the shadow beast utterly eradicated. “Huzzah! Another beast dispatched! My legend lives! Congratulations sir we make for a fine team.” Rohan seems not to mind the rough treatment of his book and your fellows are well pleased, particularly Alan who seems somewhat embarrassed even as you congratulate him for restraining himself from casting and risking chaos.

+1 schoolyard education ss, +1 relationship Aaran LeDale, advance phase 4.

Failure: There are times to think clearly, times when a moments rational thought can avert calamity, some day you need to figure out how to find such times when you need them, as screaming like a little child and throwing The Legend of Rohan the Werebeast slayer at the shadow beast was possibly not the best idea, particularly as the poor book had been in the moonbeam precisely to avoid fighting the beast.

 

The shadow beast bats Rohan out of the air with ease, before pouncing on the poor book and scratching it with its claws. “Get off of him” shouts Aaran, before anyone can stop him Aaran casts a negation spell, a surprisingly powerful negation spell that utterly obliterates the beast. Zoe and Milena stare at him briefly before Milena says, quietly, “oookkkaayyy Aaran, it’s gone, good spell, um, next time let’s not risk fate and when [PC name] does something really stupid let me fix it ok? That could have gone horribly wrong like most times you cast magic.” Zoe sighs deeply, “well done Aaran, and you’re getting better, don’t listen to her Loftiness, it’s only about half the time that things go horribly wrong when you cast spells, I mean, being around Ana when she casts is far more dangerous.”

-1 relationship Milena di Montors, +1 stress, advance to phase 4.

 

Option 3. This is clearly a beast of magic, negate it! [Negation methods v 8]

Success: You can’t risk Incantation spells as you are in the library, most of them won’t work here anyway, but this appears to be a magical beast so it should be possible to negate it. “Negate it everyone” you cry as you start drawing phemes, Zoe and Milena join in with their own spells while Aaran lobs a bookend at the beast to distract it. The three spells hit the beast at almost the same time and it vanishes in a puff of black smoke, victory!

+1 relationship Zoe Melis, +1 relationship Milena di Montors, advance phase 4.

Failure: Most incantation spells won’t work in the library, and glamours are unlikely to be much use in the gloom outside the moonbeam, but this appears to be a magical beast so it should be possible to negate it. “Negate it everyone” you cry as you start drawing phemes, Zoe and Milena join in with their own spells while Aaran lobs a bookend at the beast to distract it. Even though your spell fails to do anything, you take some consolation that your suggestion worked as Zoe and Milena negate the monster with ease. Aaran pats you on the back, “nice try [PC name], spells are hard sometimes, at least you didn’t suffer my sort of bad luck. Given that Aaran is already infamous throughout the Academagia you aren’t much reassured.

+1 stress, advance phase 4.

 

Option 4. Is this thing really a threat? [Danger sense v 8]

Success: Ok, the shadow beast rushing towards you has to be a magical creation, likely a book spirit, there’s also no need to panic as its target is the Legend of Rohan the Werebeast, and you are all standing in or near the moonlight. So pull everyone into the light and take some time to think.

 

The beast recoils when it comes to the moonlight, and starts prowling around the circle of light. “So what do we do now?” Says Aaran, “sleep standing up?” “No” you reply trying to sound confident. “We take the time to figure out how to shine some moonlight on it”. “Oh” says Aaran, “that’s easy”, with surprising confidence he waves his wand and draws some phemes and moments later the ceiling of the library goes transparent letting the moon and starlight shine in “I cast this spell all the time for readings” he says “every astrology student should, you get to watch the sky while warm in bed.” Watching the sky isn’t the plan however, instead you watch the beast which recoils and tries to hide under a bookshelf to avoid the light. Without success however and with a few incantations from Zoe and Milena the beast is soon destroyed.

+1 danger sense, +1 relationship Aaran LeDale, advance to phase 4.

Failure: Ok, take stock, you are in the moonlight so safe, Rohan the Werebeast is in the moonlight, Aaran is in the moonlight, oh yes, “Milena, get into the moonbeam!” Your cry overcomes the shock at seeing the beast rushing towards her for Milena, but too late for poor Zoe, as the beast, lacking any other target, pounces on the slight student. “Help!” Screams Zoe, in moments however the beast has dragged her out of sight, if not earshot. Zoe’s screams stop abruptly and as the three of you shiver in horror within the moonbeam you here a welcome ‘BOOM’ and flash of light. Zoe, bleeding and her clothing torn limps back into view shaking, thanks for nothing guys, I could have been killed while you hid in the moonbeam!” Only Milena seems unabashed, Aaran obviously worried jumps forward “I’m so sorry Zoe, I was afraid to cast a spell in case I got you, don’t worry, I know how to bandage up wounds like that, and the infirmary is open early in the morning, we can go straight there when the doors open.”

-2 relationship Zoe Melis, +1 relationship Milena di Montors, advance phase 4.

 

Option 5. What is it? [Mammals v 8]

Success: How curious you think, obviously one of the larger cats of some kind, from the way it melds into the shadows highly magical, the initial pounce from the top of a bookcase indicates an ambush predator while the rapid rush towards you indicates a predator capable not only of killing prey by jumping down on it from a height, but also of running it down swiftly while it is paralysed by surprise. Ah yes, a Catooli Demoncat, one of the most fearsome predators of men known, though native to islands far to the south. “A demoncat?” shrieks Milena, “ah, in that case the moonbeam will protect us” says Zoe casually looking at the charging beast, “Demoncats can’t abide the touch of it”.

 

Sure enough the beast stops just short of the moonbeam, and rears in front of you clawing the air. “It’s quiet at least” you note, still hoping that you can sneak out in the morning without being seen. “Yes, says [student], I’ve heard of them, they hunt in total silence, it has to be a book-beast though, a real Demoncat would never get through the spells protecting the library.” You’d thought as much too, though why the books would pick tonight to squabble is uncertain. Looking carefully at the bookshelf that the cat leapt from you see the likely culprit, “Turnbull’s fiendish folio” you read, “a codex of beasts malevolent and benign” A picture of some vicious looking humanoid demon with a magnificent greatsword forms the cover, but from the shadow beast obviously it has many horrors within its pages.

+1 Mammals ss, temporary +25% chance of success, choose again.

Failure: Um, big growly thing with claws and teeth, charging at you, yes, bad scary thing. That’s about all you really get from a first glance, and you don’t think you have time for another.

-1 Mammals ss, choose again

 

 

Phase 4: Talking to the Hunter

The other book is defeated – at least for now – so turning to the hunter you ask him to explain, “well, my book has never really fitted in the magical beasts section of the library, my book is about yours truly, Rohan the Werebeast, slayer of, well, magical beasts. So while my book does describe, in rather exceptional detail if I say so myself, a number of magical beasts, it does so from the perspective of killing them, well, also some rather adventurous culinary exploits and more than a little rugged masculinity as a result of my dashed good looks and virility.

 

My would-be nemesis on the shelf yonder is the fiend folio itself, or at least, the primer version – the true tome of horrors is of course chained in the dangerous books section of one of the other libraries – one I know better to speak of before you ask, particularly to first year students! The folio and I have been at loggerheads for decades, usually the harpist soothes the savage beast, and keeps me well amused, but in her absence our natural rivalry has flared somewhat, and with me weakened from the fight I sought refuge in the moonlight – it is where I am strongest and the folio weakest.

 

Option 1. It is just book rivalry, the librarian’s will sort it out in the morning, go to bed

Automatic: End adventure, access stage 9.

 

Option 2. Ask what happened to the harpist? What fight?

The Harpist is my long-time friend, a friend to everyone really, she plays so beautifully to us, she doesn’t really belong in the common library, the Celestial Library is where she should really be, but the librarians keep her here as she soothes the other books so well.

 

The library was invaded last night, whoever it was knew what they were after, the thieves crept right to the Harpist. I was watching though, and when I realised what they were up to I roused myself and fought as best I could. The small hunter looks sad, “alas I was too feeble, the thieves beat me harshly and threw my book to the ground.”

 

“The leader of the thieves was a short fellow, with two gold teeth and a patch over his right eye, from his accent he was Vilocean I would say. I did here them say that ‘we have our prize, back to his lordship’s townhouse’ though, no doubt they were mercenaries for some local lord, for Viloceans are often found in the service of others.”

Reveal option 4, choose again

 

Option 3. Search the bookshelf where the Harpist rested

The bookshelf is mostly unremarkable, there are some scuff marks, likely from where Rohan attacked the thieves, you are about to give up when Zoe cries “aha!” And triumphantly points to a small piece of cloth that caught on a nail. “Got them” she says with a gleam in her eye, “I can use astrology to track down where the wearer of this piece of cloth is” says Aaran confidently, “together with a physical description of the thieves from Rohan and the details we can get on the Harpist from her reference and the library lists finding where they are should be quite simple

Reveal option 4, choose again.

 

Option 4. Promise Rohan to recover the Harpist and return her to the library.

You don’t even hesitate “don’t worry Rohan, we’ll track this villain down and recover the Harpist”. Rohan cheers but then turns thoughtful, “be careful children, you are valiant, but this may be a sterner challenge than you can face, worthy though your offer is, I must urge caution – the librarians and professors can deal with this.”

 

Zoe frowns thoughtfully and speaks before Rohan can draw his next breath, “Rohan, did the thieves use any magic?” The small hunter looks thoughtful “no mistress mage, merely brute force and low cunning” Zoe smiles “well then, we should be able to recover the Harpist without bothering the faculty afterall.”

Gain: The Legend of Rohan the Werebeast slayer, advance phase 5.

 

Book: The Legend of Rohan the Werebeast slayer.

+3 mammals ss

+3 courtly love ss

+3 recipe’s ss

This is the journal of the legendary Rohan the Werebeast, slayer of magical beasts, combat chef and lover extra-ordinaire. While the journal cannot turn its owner into the virile bon vivant himself, reading it can give some insights into how to be dashed manly while cooking a stack of cockatrice pancakes.

 

Phase 5. Feuding tomes.

OK, you’ve had enough of this book rivalry, time to sort things out so you can have a quiet night’s sleep.

 

Option 1. Throw the nasty book into a delivery shute and slam the entrance shut. [Wrestling v 8]

Success: There is a shelf by the wall with several delivery shute’s opening to it. You know those shutes, wind-charms were put in chutes to carry books from one end to the other, the idea was to avoid the need to have people constantly carrying stacks of books between the shelves and private study rooms or the book-pile, the idea was that the book was put in the chute, the wind-charm then carried it to the desired location. They stopped being used much years and years ago, you forget why. If you sling the nasty book into the shute it should be carried to the other end, probably the book-pile, and you can ask the librarians to deal with it tomorrow.

 

It is a lot harder to do than it was to think, the nasty book struggles mightily, tiny beasts leap from its pages to scratch and nip you, but you are resolute and with a final heave you force the book into the shute, shout and slam the chute shut, dragging a pile of other books in front of the entrance just in case the book tries to make its way back.

 

Zoe eyes you with a mixture of admiration and horror, “look at the mark over the shute, it leads from the library of Longshade book-pile – accessible only to those chosen by the Longshade library ghosts, no-one has been chosen by the ghosts to sort the book pile in years so it must be a terrible state! There is a terrible curse associated with the library of Longshade that stops anyone going there, some day someone will lift it but for now it is best avoided. That shute should have been sealed with spells like the door into the book-pile, let’s put a ward on it and tell the librarians in the morning.”

+1 wrestling ss, +1 relationship Zoe Melis, access stage 8.

Failure: There is a shelf by the wall with several delivery shute’s opening to it. You know those shutes, wind-charms were put in chutes to carry books from one end to the other, the idea was to avoid the need to have people constantly carrying stacks of books between the shelves and private study rooms or the book-pile, the idea was that the book was put in the chute, the wind-charm then carried it to the desired location. They stopped being used much years and years ago, you forget why. If you sling the nasty book into the shute it should be carried to the other end, probably the book-pile, and you can ask the librarians to deal with it tomorrow.

 

Throwing Turnbull’s fiendish folio down the shute is a lot harder to do than it was to think, the nasty book struggles mightily, tiny beasts leap from its pages to scratch and nip you, and you fall back. At the last moment before you drop the book Aaran grabs it from you, jumps forward and throws it down the shute. Zoe and Milena slam the shute door shut and pile books in front of it to block it from opening again. Job done! You just wish it hadn’t hurt so much.

-1 vitality, -1 wrestling ss, +1 relationship Aaran LeDale, access stage 8.

 

Option 2. Play some music to soothe the angry books anger. [Harpsicord v 6]

Success: “The harpist soothed the book before, perhaps we can do so with some music” says Milena, “Rohan, I saw a picture of a harpsicord in your book, can you manifest it?” Rohan looks thoughtful, “indeed I can mistress, let us see if you can soothe the savage beasts”.

 

After a quick discussion with Rohan about what music the Harpist played to soothe Turnbull’s fiendish folio, you try The Mourning Bride by William Congreve. The Folio simply lies on the shelf, you suspect it is deliberately ignoring you. Recognising that the Folio needs something more modern you try several works by Alianna Boone, the famous sidhe beast tamer, and to your delight Turnbull’s Fiendish Folio takes on a much calmer air and even Rohan takes on a dreamy grin and sinks back into his book.

+1 Harpist ss, +1 relationship Milena di Montors, access stage 8.

Failure: Um, right, music. How hard can a harp be to play anyway? Of course you don’t have any music with you, but you can just do a modern piece on the harp right? That will work surely? Now what did you hear in the common room earlier?

 

In retrospect death metal hard rock doesn’t sound good played on the harp, though you think there should have been some credit for effort, as it is more monsters are starting to be generated from the Fiend Folio when Milena takes the harp from you and makes a passable attempt at The Mourning Bride by William Congreve which settles the Folio back to rest.

-1 Harpist ss, -1 relationship Milena di Montors, access stage 8.

 

Option 3. Talk to the book and agree a peaceable solution. [Diplomacy v 6]

Success: Both books are currently active enough to talk to, and hopefully the Folio is tired enough from the destruction of its manifestation to listen reasonably calmly.

 

Putting the Folio close enough to the moonbeam to kick it inside if need be, you adopt a conciliatory tone and say “OK, you are both library books, here to bring wisdom and enlightenment to the students of the Academagia. Now I guess we could just bring this dispute to the librarians, but I think it would be better to come to a reasonable agreement without bothering them don’t you?”

 

There is a few moments quite, then a small savage looking figure creeps out of the pages of the Folio, “ooh” says Zoe, “a cannibal from the rain forests of the skyward islands, umm, not technically a beast, but certainly fiendish I suppose.”

 

“Hmm, yes, well when the book is written by a committee you’ll find all sorts of strangeness inside” grumbles the cannibal. “But you wish to discuss terms of a fair truce then we’ll talk terms.”

 

The source of the grievance between the books takes some time to draw out but isn’t complicated. Rohan likes to sing songs of his hunting exploits, extoll the benefits of exotic culinary dishes made from the beasts he slew, and so on, and the folio, well, consists of many such beasts who take offence at Rohan for, well, his hunting exploits and culinary habits.

 

Although there doesn’t seem much common ground to work with, you realise that the Folio doesn’t want you to report it to the librarians, and eventually you settle for Rohan and the Folio being placed at opposite ends of the bookshelf, and Rohan singing at most once a week, well, after you return him anyway.

+1 Diplomacy ss, access stage 8.

Failure: Right then, we’ve had about enough of this trouble” you say sternly. “The library rules are very clear, all persons within are to be quiet and respectful of all others”.

 

“Bah! Typical goody goody student drivel.” The voice is small but angry, and a tiny cannibal climbs out of the Fiend Folio. “ooh” says Zoe, “a cannibal from the rain forests of the skyward islands, umm, not technically a beast, but certainly fiendish I suppose.” The cannibal sneers “when the book is written by a committee you’ll find all sorts of strangeness inside, for example a skinny city dweller being so ignorant that they consider the free folk savages!” The tiny cannibal continues ranting at you without seeming to pause to breath until with a loud ‘fwoomp’ Aaran brings a book down on its head smashing it. He wallops the fiend folio a few more times for good measure before putting the book in a metal case and chaining it shut. In the stunned silence he says “talking wasn’t working, I saw one of the cases for dangerous books over there and figured I’d shut the Folio up while there was still time to get some sleep before morning. You nod, sleep sounds good, you’ve been up late and need to sneak out early.

-1 Diplomacy ss, access stage 8.

 

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penultimate stage, Schwartzbart, please can you check the Vilocean in phase 4?

 

Book-worms 8: The book-thieves

 

 

Phase 1. Sneak out of the Academagia

So, you all agreed to meet up and go after the book – now – and here you are alone. Aaran and Zoe had done Astrology to find out where the book thieves were hiding in the city, but you’d heard that something had gone wrong with a late prediction and both of them had wound up in the infirmary. You hadn’t heard anything about Milena, but you guess that she was busy with her tutoring business.

 

So be it, you square your shoulders, alone then. You are about to set off when there is a thump at the door. Opening it you see the other book-worms, Ausdaur Mollers, Basia Rydz and Courtenay de Surval. Basia grins, “ok, we missed out on the war of the library books, but we heard all about the book thieves from Milena, and since she is busy and Aaran and Zoe are in the infirmary, we figured we help you out!”

 

OK. Ausdaur, the quietest girl in the Academagia; Basia the exam fiend at least knows her way around a wand, but Courtenay is almost as quiet as Ausdaur, you’ve barely seen his face she hides inside so many books! Mind you, four of you should have a much better chance than one, and these are your club-mates.

 

So, you can get into the grounds easily enough, but you need to get past the gate guards. How to do it you wonder?

 

Option 1. Courtenay nervously clears her throat, um, maybe we can just sneak past them if we move really quietly? [Move silently v 7]

Success: OK, you need to be quiet as quiet can be, all four of you. It’s lucky that you have the quiet students you think. Not the most practiced at being quiet perhaps, but certainly those to whom quiet comes most naturally.

 

You miss the first few chances through nerves, but when the guard’s kettle starts boiling you know that your chance is here. As the guards gather for their tea and the kettle whistles you head for the gate, a quick negation on the lock and you are through, and away before the guards look up. Success!

+1 relationship Courtenay de Surval, advance phase 2.

Failure: Right, just sneak past. OK. Well you’ve snuck past your parents haven’t you? How hard could it be? About 10 minutes later, stuck outside the gates unable to move forward or back without a guard 5 paces away seeing you, just as you are wondering what now there is a noise off to the left, a clatter and a stifled yelp! The guards immediately rush to investigate and you to your relief you see your friends rush through the gate. “Come on” whispers Ausdaur urgently, “my glamour won’t last for long”. Sigh, at least you are past the gate even though you wish you had been the one to distract the guards.

+1 stress, advance phase 2.

 

Option 2. Ausdaur smiles, maybe a glamour spell to make us hard to see or distract the gate guards? [Glamour spells v 9]

Success: You grin “the guards are probably used to normal distractions, so we need to make the distraction something they expect – like maybe some students sneaking back in to the Academagia after missing curfew?” The two of you quickly discuss plans and start casting your spells, and a few moments later you create a noise to the left of the gate, a clatter, crash and muffled yelp as though a student just fell while climbing over the gate. Ausdaur then has shadowy phantoms run away from the wall towards the Academagia. You hear the gate guards shout and see them run after the phantoms and are quickly through the gates, “awesome plan Ausdaur, it was like taking candies from a baby!”

+1 relationship Ausdaur Mollers, advance phase 2.

Failure: Ok, create some glamours to distract the guards. Ausdaur had some soppy plan about students sneaking back in to the Academagia, but you have something much grander in mind, time to impress your club-mates. Yeah, time to impress, like, with some invading giants! You are quite proud when your first giant steps over the Academagia wall, yeah! That’s the ticket! Unfortunately the gate guards appear to be made of pretty stern stuff. They grab weapons from inside their guard house and throw glowing globes at the giants which immediately negate the glamour spells, rats!

 

“For goodness sake!” Says Basia “Ausdaur said something subtle, I mean really, what did you expect the guards to do? Call the professors???” Basia shakes her head, “time for my plan, there’s a tree of the right sort by the wall over this way.” A few minutes later you get to the tree Basia suggests and she revises its trunk and branches to make them more supple, the tree slumps over wall leaving with you an easy way to climb over. “You see?” Says Ausdaur, “No running guards, subtle, effective.”

-1 glamour spells ss, -1 relationship Ausdaur Mollers, advance phase 2.

 

Option 3. Basia says “I suggest we revise one of the trees to bend over the wall.” [Revision spells v 9]

Success: Basia’s plan is simple, but sounds like it should work. Find a tree near the wall, and revise it so it hangs over the wall and you can just climb it to get out. Fortunately you find a handy tree without too much trouble and after some quick planning with Basia you help her to revise the tree so that its trunk becomes rubbery, and it slumps out over the wall. Now there’s a trick to remember! The four of you scramble over and are well on your way to Mineta long before the spell fades.

+1 relationship Basia Rydz, advance phase 2.

Failure: The simple plans are the best right? Unfortunately it turns out that they are also the ones most likely to be suspected by the Academagia faculty, as there turn out to be no trees close enough to the wall to be used for the plan. In the end Ausdaur spots a pattern in the patrols and you manage to sneak out while the guards are brewing their tea, not quite the stylish exit that you had planned.

+1 stress, advance phase 2.

 

Option 4. The gate guards are wise to magic, but they are predictable. Figure out their pattern so you can sneak by. [strategy v 7]

Success: Guard duty sounds pretty boring, so you figure that the guards probably fall into pretty repetitive routines. This turns out to be correct, after the four of you exchange notes and you watch the guards for half an hour. The guards gather together for tea once an hour, and go for a leisurely wander along nearby parts of the wall every 15 minutes or so, in practice the guard duty seems limited to watching the gates and you suspect the intention is more to warn away townsfolk as any student who really wanted to get past the guards should be able to do so easily enough with magic, at least, as long as the Academagia isn’t expecting trouble anyway.

+1 Strategy ss, advance phase 2.

Failure: “We can figure out the guards routine” you say confidently, “it’s quiet, they are bound to fall into a pattern that we can exploit!” Courtenay looks unconvinced “are you sure? They only really need to guard the gate, and they only need to leave one of them for that.” Somewhat affronted that your wonderfully simple plan has been challenged, you say casually “well then let’s watch, a quarter of an hour or so should see who is correct.” Half an hour later even you have to concede defeat, the guards always leave at least one guard by the gate.

 

“Wand time” says Ausdaur, with a somewhat disheartening ease she casts a glamour that makes you all almost invisible, and feeling more than a little put out that you weren’t confident enough to pull off the glamour yourself you traipse after the others as they stroll through the gate.

+1 stress, advance phase 2.

 

Phase 2. Break into the house

Finding the house turns out to be fairly easy, say whatever else you will about Aaran, and plenty of people have said a lot (at least in terms of complaints), but he really knows how to cast Astrology spells, he and Zoe turn out to have described the house – well mansion really – perfectly, right down to the weird symbols on the door. “They look familiar” muses Courtenay, “I’m sure I’ve read symbols like that somewhere.” Basia shakes her head “not me, do you remember anything about them?” “No” says Courtenay, but I vaguely recall being told off for reading the book.” You all shrug, you get that all the time, someday someone needs to move all the books first years aren’t supposed to read out of the main library…

 

As you watch the house you see that the front door is guarded by two tough-looking Viloceans, but also that there is a side door, leading to the servants quarters from the way it opens every now and then for a servant to come, go or throw out rubbish. Hmm, that gives you some ideas…

 

Option 1. Wait for a servant to go in and then pick the lock to the servant’s door. [Lockpick v 7]

Success: Summoning your confidence you say “give me a moment guys, I think I have a way in.” Waiting for a servant to go back inside, and ignoring the foul-smelling slop they just threw out into the street, you pull out your lockpicks and have a go at the lock. This must be a rented townhouse you think absently, nobody who lived in here as their main residence would tolerate so feeble a lock, click, click, sproing, click! And with that the door is open, time to go. You even lock the door behind you to avoid arousing suspicions.

+1 lockpicking ss, advance phase 2.

Failure: The lock doesn’t look that hard from here you think absently, and I didn’t hear a bar being dropped, maybe I can just spring the lock? You wait for a servant to throw something out, and then trying to look nonchalant stroll up to the door and then pull out your tools and try picking the lock. “What are you doing???” Hisses Basia, “people will see!” Yes, you think starting to sweat, if this dratted lock doesn’t budge soon, and try as you might it doesn’t seem to be budging at all. You stand up and try a quick revision to shrink the locking mechanism and to our surprise the door falls open slightly. Trying to look like that had been your plan all along you mumble “the trick is to open parts of the lock manually so the spell is easier.” Your friends are unimpressed at your lock-picking skills however, “good grief” moans Basia in a haughty tone that you hope is at least partly affected, “we are questing with a common hoodlum!”

-1 relationship Basia Rydz, advance phase 2.

 

Option 2. Say you have a message for the book-thief. [bluff v 9]

“Ausdaur, can you cast a glamour to make me look like a member of the messenger’s guild?” You ask, she blinks, “what, you’re just going to walk right up there and knock on the door?” You nod, “yup”. There is a brief pause and the other book worms smile weakly, “take care okay, the rest of us are more comfortable in the library” says Courtenay, here, I’ll write you a note that looks official, I got enough information off Aaran and Zoe to come up with something plausible but a messenger does need a message!”

 

The guards are there to keep out people who don’t belong you think, and such people sneak. So walk up confidently like you belong and have every right to be there, and they will assume the same.

 

Glamour to look like a messenger from the messenger’s guild. Now what was the master of the house called according to Zoe? They’d scried the house from a distance and looked up the seal embossed on some leters in the library, crumbs, it wasn’t something Vilocian like the thief, something Merilen, the Comte de la Roche, that was it. OK, you had the elements needed for the plan.

 

Walking up with a casual ease that Prudence Cossins would have envied you speak clearly “Good eve gentlemen, I have a message for Monsieur le Comte.” The guards look somewhat bored, but you are young and clearly harmless, the glamour makes you look like a member of the messenger’s guild who are famous for their honesty and brutal treatment of members who steal, so with barely a look at Courtenay’s letter they wave you through, a few moments later you let your friends in through the servants’ entrance, success!

+1 bluff ss, advance phase 2.

Failure: Everyone has done their bit. Courtenay has drafted a message, Ausdaur has used astrology to confirm that the man of the house is the Comte de la Roche, and Basia has revised your robes so that you look like a member of the messenger guild. All you need to do is pull off the scam.

 

You are quite nervous as you walk towards the guards and that clearly rouses their suspicions. “You? Haf you business here?” The question, like everything said in Vilocian, sounds somewhat threatening, you remember how Antonio de Reyez e Irizarry-Vargas almost got reprimanded for ‘playing threatening martial music’ until Professor Sido laughingly pointed out that his song had in fact been the recipe for making apple pie. “Vas ist los?” Snapping out of your panicked reverie you stumble out your story, the guards don’t seem convinced and demand to see the message. Fortunately Courtenay’s handiwork saves the day as the calligraphy on the envelope is so fine that the guards grudgingly accept it as valid and wave you in. As you let your friends in the servants’ entrance a few minutes later their looks make clear that you aren’t the only one who thinks you almost blew it.

+1 stress, advance phase 2.

 

Option 3. Bribe a servant with 50 pims to let you in. [Economics v 9]

Success: It doesn’t take long for the door to open again, and you notice that the servant looks particularly impoverished, hollow cheeks and word faded clothes, barely decent for such a house! A slight jingling of your purse at the same time draws their immediate attention, ok, with a winning smile you admit to them that you in some trouble with older children, if you could just hide briefly in the house you’d make it worth their while, the servant considers for a brief moment then says “stay out of sight or the master will set his dogs on you, and I never saw you!”

-50 pims, +1 economics ss, advance phase 3.

Failure: It doesn’t take long for the door to open again, and you notice that the servant looks particularly impoverished, hollow cheeks and word faded clothes, barely decent for such a house! A slight jingling of your purse at the same time draws their immediate attention, ok, with a winning smile you admit to them that you in some trouble with older children, if you could just hide briefly in the house you’d make it worth their while, the servant considers for a brief moment then says “and be beaten black and blue if they found out as it was me as let some urchins in the house? Be off with you before I call the guards!

Choose again.

 

Option 4. Loiter by the servants’ entrance and talk your way in next time the door opens. [Minetan Swagger v 7]

Servants, hmm, you have an idea of how to get in, you’ll just need to be ready with the cleaning revisions afterwards. Casually hanging around looking like you aren’t actually loitering, you just happen to be here, is something of an art-form in the Academagia, and while you doubt that Cyrus Dawes would consider your efforts highly, much less a mistress of the skill such as Prudence Cossins, but no one says anything despite you standing around for several minutes. Then you here the door unlocking and move into position covered by a slight ‘nobody’s here’ glamour, and with perfect effect get a blast of old washing water as the servant throws it out. “Gods forfend!” You shriek, “My robes! I’m filthy and wet!” Your friends quickly dash up to ‘console you’ and challenge the ervant on their clumsiness “oh lawks, apologies young [miss/master]” says the servant shocked, “I didn’t sees you there, I’m so sorry”. Courtenay steps in making placating noises to you and says to the servant “unfortunate my dear, but something we can fix, a few minutes in your laundry room and I can clean my colleague up, no need to bother your master over something so easily fixed.”

 

The servant barely hesitates, swiftly ushering you in and pointing to a laundry room “I hopes everything you need is there young sirs, I have my duties, would it, I mean, perhaps, be that you could let poor Elena to her chores and see to yourselves, you’d have my prayers of thanks for a week I swear.” Continuing his gracious manner Courtenay ushers the servant back to her chores promising her you will all be as quiet as mice, and be out of the house without trouble ‘once our little chore is done” as he says through a grin after the servants leave, technically not even a lie.

+1 Minetan Swagger ss, advance phase 2

Failure. A simple plan, loiter near the door, when your hear the servants opening it step out in front with a spell to make you overlooked, if the servant bangs in to you fall over and claim to be messy, if the servant throws something out do the same and tell them that you won’t complain to the master of the house about their clumsiness if they let you clean up inside.

 

Technically the plan works perfectly, you had just assumed that whatever they threw out would be less… disgusting. Yes, disgusting is the correct word for the smell coming from your soggy robes right now, and your outraged wails over the servant’s carelessness are entirely correct. The servant is aghast, but with the mess clearly ‘their fault’ and their clear fear of their master’s anger for their carelessness if you raise a complaint they usher you into the laundry and give you some candy in exchange for promising to leave quietly and say nothing, fortunately Basia is able to revise the slop you are covered in into water and then dry you with another spell, she is so good at it that you don’t even mind her taking the candy.

+1 stress, advance phase 2.

 

Option 5. Watch the people of the house and get a feel for their character. [Observation v 9]

Success: Every house has its own character, and it doesn’t take long to get a feel for this one. The house is spotless – doorsteps scrubbed, paint immaculate. But the guards seem to have no enthusiasm for their job, and the servants seem alternatively sullen and desperate. You suspect that they have little loyalty to their employer, which should make things a little easier.

Temporary +33% chance of success, choose again.

Failure: Guards, servants, big house. Um. Right. Yeah. So how are you going to get in then?

Choose again.

Phase 3. Finding the book

Inside the house is decorated sparsely but opulently. “Hmm” says Ausdaur, “odd that there is so little stuff in here despite the obvious wealth of the owner, the house must be rented.” You shrug, not knowing what difference it makes. “Does it matter?” You say, trying not to sound superior. “It might” she muses, “it should be easier to find a book from this Island if most of the belongings are from elsewhere.”

 

Ausdaur casts an astrology spell and smiles “as I thought, the spell is giving a fairly clear indication that the book is in the attic!” Sneaking up to the attic turns out to be relatively easy, as the house has few servants and the master is, from overhead conversations between servants, out tonight with some associates, so it isn’t long before you get to the attic.

 

The door is quite foreboding, as someone has carved some nasty looking runs on and around it. What now?

 

Option 1. What do the runes mean: [Theory of enchantment v 9]

Success: The runes are quite confusing, as although most seem to be correctly carved, they just don’t seem to fit together sensibly. You aren’t quite sure what to make of it, but you don’t think it is actually dangerous and after a nerve-wracking moment you push on the door and it simply swings open – obviously the runes were just to scare off nosy servants!

+1 theory of enchantment ss, advance phase 4

Failure: You can’t make head or tails of the runes, the patterns simply don’t make sense. Unfortunately as you explain this to your club-mates they assume that you simply don’t understand and crowd forward for a look of your own. You barely stifle a scream as the four of you topple forward into the door, but fortunately it turns out that the runes made no sense because they were nonsense – just magical looking runes to scare off servants, taking a deep breath to calm your nerves you step through the now open door.

-1 theory of enchantment ss, advance to phase 4

 

Option 2. Take a look at the door generally. [Observation v 9]

Success: The door isn't used much, that much is obvious, you suspect that the servants don't dare to go near it. But, as you look more closely you note that the footprints in the dust show no apparent pause in the steps of whoever does walk through while they disarm the runes. Nor are there any of the dead bugs you would expect to find near a strongly warded door. You laugh "I think it's a ruse, these are just fakes". Basia frowns "are you sure? They look pretty nasty" You nod "they do, but if the door was warded the footprints would cluster in front of it as the person stopped to disarm the wards, instead they carry on at normal pace as though the person barely even slowed down to open the door." Sure of your deduction you push the door and sure enough it simply swings open, hah! Clearly they weren't expecting anyone who knows magic to come in here!

+1 Observation ss, advance phase 4.

Failure: You take a close look at the door. It isn't used much - only one set of footprints leads up here, that probably means that the runes are so dangerous that everyone avoids the room. You say as much to your club-mates, "that's bad" says Courtenay, "maybe we should go back and get a professor to recover the book". "No" says Basia with a confident tone to her voice, "what we should do is laugh at the ineptitude of [PC name] here, as they can't even recognise a contradictiory pheme pairing when they see one." Basia casually points out the phmes with her wand, and then just to rub the point in waves at another pair of contradicted phemes. "This is just a show" she announces, and before you can say anything she pushes the door open and walks through. Slightly dissapointed that she isn't zapped and rather embarrassed you follow her meekly.

-1 Observations ss, advance phase 4.

 

Option 3. Orthography. What sort of runes are these? [Orthography v 9]

Success: At first glance these look like fairly nasty warding runes, but Orthography is all about the precise details, and when you take a closer look the details are all wrong. These look like magical runes, but they aren't - not unless whoever drew them is insane. You snort, "Whoever drew these runes obviously doesn't want the servants to enter, but they won't scare off anyone who knows anything about magic!" With that you push the door open and walk confidently through.

+1 Orthography ss, advance to phase 4.

Failure: At first glance these look like quite nasty warding runes, unfortunately at second glance they still look quite nasty. There are a few oddities, but you are still figuring these out when Courtenay accidentally jogs your shoulder too much and you touch the door. There is a moment's horrified hush and then you all laught at the trivial fizzle of magic. Trying to sound confident you say "I'd been wondering how the primary phemes were tied to the secondaries as the links were all back to front, it looks like the answer was that they don't! They should have gone to the Academagica!" The door no longer a threat you walk through.

-1 Orthography ss, advance to phase 4.

 

Option 4. Negate any protective wardings over the door: [Theory of Negation v 9]

Success: OK, when in doubt of strange magic, negate it. Professor Briardi’s advice to consider what sort of magic you are dealing with and shape your negations to take advantage of flaws in your target rings in your ears however and so you consider the runes. As you look the flaws simply keep leaping out at you, it is like someone just drew random phemes on the door your think confused. Your testing negation spells splash over the door and there is barely even a fizzle as they pass through the runes. Snorting in derision you push the door open, “these aren’t real wardings” you say to your club-mates, “just scratchings to scare servants, come on.”

+1 Theory of Negation ss, advance phase 4.

Failure: To negate a spell there are two basic approaches. The first is mere brute force, cast a negation spell strong enough to suppress whatever magic might be in the wards. The second is through skill, cast a negation to take advantage of flaws in the warding, or with phemes that inherently oppose the phemes of the warding. The trouble as you study the wardings is that you simply can’t figure out the underlying logic of the phemes that form the warding, they seem completely random and often contradictory. In desperation you try several negation spells but they barely even cause the wardings to fizzle. “Oh get out of the way” mutters Basia, she scrutinises the door briefly and laughs, “for reference, negations only work on actual wardings, not these peasant-scarers!” With a smirk and flick of her hair Basia casually pushes the door open and walks through, at least Courtenay and Ausdaur don’t laugh too loudly as they pass you by.

-1 relationship Basia, advance phase 4.

 

Option 5. Consider what you know of wardings and have a think about the door. [Magical appraisal 9]

Success: You carefully scrutinise the phemes supporting the ward and the odd runes surrounding them, it only takes you a few moments to realise that these are not real wardings, just random phemes drawn (often amateurishly) with swirls around them to look ominous. Smirking you ‘accidentally’ brush the door and make a face of horror and pain causing your clubmates to start to panic, before casually saying “only joking troops, the runes are a sham to scare off servants” and walking through the door. At least Ausdaur looked amused by your little joke you think.

+1 Magical appraisal ss, advance phase 4.

Failure: OK, really obvious nasty looking runes, obviously magic, almost a caricature of a warded door you think absently. OK. Step one: look for the phemes and see if you can see where the triggers and safeguards are in the warding, step one should you think after a minute be followed by steps two and three, but here you are stuck at one. The runes are drawn by a madman or genius, for their logic is entirely beyond you. “I..I don’t get it” you say eventually to your club-mates, “the wardings just don’t make any sense, I mean who pairs heat and cold phemes like that bit there?” Courtenay laughs, “of course!” He says clearly amused, “sometimes the best way to fool someone, is to let them fool themselves, the reason why none of us can figur out the pattern of the spell is because there isn’t any – that’s not a real warding, it is just something to scare servants from daring to go near the door.” You frown, “careful Courtenay, if it is real we could get hurt by it.” Courtenay shakes his head, “nope, it’s pretty obvious once you look at it with the right perspective, puzzles are oftne like that.” And with that he simply pushes the door open and walks through, after a moment of sheer terror that he is about to be disintegrated or worse passes without any harm you feel quite sheepish and follow him rather embarrassed.

-1 magical appraisal ss, advance phase 4.

 

Phase 4: Get past the guardian.

Looking around the room you have entered doesn't take long. At the far end of the room is a set of chests forming a crude desk on which are some scrolls and books. In front of them is an old but well-maintained looking mannequin of a Vilocean gentleman duelist (at least that’s what Courtenay claims it looks like), some drapes add a little colour to the room but otherwise it is as stark as the rest of the house.

 

Suddenly you hear steps coming up to the attic. Ausdaur quickly whispers a spell as you huddle behind a drape and her glamour makes everything look normal – you hope.

 

One of the Vilocean mercenaries suspiciously steps into the room. Calling back to his colleague he says “Die Tür steht offen!” The mercenary looks around “Sonst aber nichts verdächtiges zu sehen.”

 

A deep voice answers, but you can't hear any details. The mercenary grunts and addresses the mannequin “Golem halt! Neuer Befehl: Jeden angreifen wo sich dem Tisch nähert.”

 

Taking a last look around the mercenary goes back downstairs closing the door behind him, safe!

 

Option 1. Just run and grab the books! [Running v 9]

Success: The mannequin looks like an obvious guard, and the way the Vilocean mercenary spoke sounded like a command, so you suspect that the mannequin will attack you if you try to take the books. But… the mannequin doesn’t look all that agile, and you doubt it is as quick as you are. “I have a plan” you announce, “if Ausdaur distracts it with a glamour I will run for the books, Basia if you could revise the floor to make it slippery under the mannequin. Courtenay if you can get me some luck with an astrology spell I’d be grateful”

 

Courtenay blinks, “so you take all the risk, ok, that sounds sensible, I’m not much of a runner myself.” Basia and Ausdaur also seem happy to let you tackle the mannequin so after taking a few moment to ready yourself you charge.

 

The mannequin starts moving almost immediately, but Courtenay’s lucky moon charm must be working as it slips over in Basia’s wood-to-oil revision spell, without waiting to see what happens next you jump forward and grab the books from the desk, and turn and run past the mannequin before it can regain its footing. Easy!

+1 relationship Ausdaur, +1 relationship Courtenay, +1 relationship Basia, advance phase 5.

Failure: You figured that after the fake wards on the door, the mannequin would be either non-magical, or weakly enchanted so that it was very slow. It turns out that the mannequin is something that the book-thief didn’t skimp on, as soon as you start running to the desk it starts moving – quickly.

 

Basia’s oil-to-wood revision spell on the floor in front of the mannequin makes it fall, but you find yourself skidding and sliding too. As you scramble to the desk you hear Courtenay call a warning and barely manage to dodge the mannequin’s blow. “Run!” Basia hisses as the mannequin stands up and lumbers towards you sword in hand. “Get the books!” Calls Courtenay, nice to know he cares you think as you grab the books and run. You were quite chuffed at how well you dodged the mannequin until its last blow cuts deeply into your arm. Barely muffling a scream you keep running until you are out of the house.

-1 vitality, advance phase 5.

 

 

Option 2. It looks like a duellist, so duel it! [Duelling conduct v 7]

Success: “Huzzah sirrah!” You call, hoping that the play you saw a few weeks before was an accurate portrayal of gentlemanly combat. The mannequin turns and looks at you, which is rather unnerving given its unblinking star you have to say. The mannequin doesn’t speak but it does draw its sword and adopt a formal martial stance and then halt, as if waiting for you to mimic its posture.

 

“Not possibly the best idea” mutters Ausdaur as you take out a knife, it won’t bleed”. “No” you say with increasing confidence, “but then this thief doesn’t seem like someone to spend too much money, and any golem is expensive, I suspect that this is a trainer doll, more to scare away the superstitious than truly kill, all I should need to do is set formal duel conditions and then have one or the other of us meet them.”

 

Much duelling is in Vilocian, which was the language used by the mercenary to command the mannequin you muse. OK, hopefully the Code Duello comics got the basics right….

 

“Golem wir Uben. Sieg: Drei Treffer oder Aufgabe”

Hoping that you got it right you step forward and mimic the stance of the mannequin.

 

As soon as your blade is up the mannequin moves forward, fortunately it is somewhat jerky in its movements so after a few feints and parry’s you manage to land your first blow on the mannequin. To your relief it immediately steps back and takes up the ‘ready’ pose again, after nodding its head to recognise the blow. Good, you think, you’ve got this.

 

A few more minutes and you manage to beat the mannequin 3:2, and it steps back against the wall. Gasping for breath you grab the books and leave to the admiring glances of your club-mates, well except for Courtenay who clucks over how you nearly damaged the books with your knife!

+1 relationship Ausdaur, +1 relationship Basia, -1 relationship Courtenay, +1 Duelling conduct ss, advance phase 5.

Failure: “Huzzah sirrah!” You call, hoping that the play you saw a few weeks before was an accurate portrayal of gentlemanly combat. The mannequin turns and looks at you, which is rather unnerving given its unblinking star you have to say. The mannequin doesn’t speak but it does draw its sword and adopt a formal martial stance and then halt, as if waiting for you to mimic its posture.

 

“Not possibly the best idea” mutters Ausdaur as you take out a knife, it won’t bleed”. “No” you say with increasing confidence, “but then this thief doesn’t seem like someone to spend too much money, and any golem is expensive, I suspect that this is a trainer doll, more to scare away the superstitious than truly kill, all I should need to do is set formal duel conditions and then have one or the other of us meet them.”

 

Much written about dueling formalities is in Vilocian, which was the language used by the mercenary to command the mannequin you muse. OK, hopefully the Code Duello comics got the basics right…. Speaking confidently you proclaim “Golem wir uben. Sieg: Drei Treffer und Aufgabe”, hoping that you got it right you step forward and mimic the dueling stance of the mannequin.

 

As soon as your blade is up the mannequin moves forward, it’s a bit jerky in its movements but it is surprisingly fast and despite a few feints and parry’s it quickly stabs you in the side. To your relief it immediately steps back and takes up the ‘ready’ pose after raising one finger.

 

OK, that hurt. A lot. But you think you have its measure now, and with a growl you launch your next attack, the mannequin parries your lunge with ease and riposte so quickly you barely stop it stabbing you through the chest, even so you can feel blood trickling down your chest. You stagger back but the mannequin doesn’t pursue, instead raising a second finger. Oh, right, yes, you know that you got the word for three right, it is obviously tracking the blows. So you have at most one last blow to suffer. Grinning bravely at your club-mates who are now standing shaking outside the room you go one more time. This time you attack more carefully, and you very nearly manage to land a blow on the mannequin, but at the last moment you realise that the mannequin is about to stab you and twist so that it barely grazes you. To your relief the mannequin then steps back and slumps, the sparring session over.

 

Trying to sound like that was your plan you quietly say “phew, I wasn’t sure I could outlast it” struggling to avoid showing your pain to your clubmates you walk forward, grab all the books (you aren’t waiting for the mannequin to activate again), and quickly walk out of the room. “Impressive” says Courtenay, “it would probably have been smarter just to command it to sleep, but not nearly so stylish!”

-2 vitality, +1 duel conduct ss, +1 relationship Ausdaur, +1 relationship Basia, +1 relationship Courtenay, advance phase 5.

 

 

Option 3. What did the guard say? [Vilocean v 7]

Success: The first statement had just been a statement that the door was open and the room was undisturbed, an easy translation, the second is more difficult. The guard was talking to the mannequin you think, so the word “Golem” might be its name, after that you think the mannequin was ordered to attack anyone who approached the desk.” It’s a short order, possibly you think overly simple than was wise, though if the mannequin obeys anyone who speaks in Vilocean there might be an even easier solution.

Unlock options 4 and 5, hide option 3, choose again

Failure: Um, right, Vilocean, like talking after gargling with razor blades but meaner. You try to remember what the mercenary said, something about attacking the desk?

-1 Vilocean ss, hide option 3, choose again.

 

Option 4. Order the Duellist to go to sleep. [Mimicry v 7]

Success: It didn’t sound like there was any special command given to the mannequin, so you think maybe you can give it a command of your own.

 

Pitching your voice that deep is beyond you naturally, but with the help of a little glamour magic you just about manage it, in your gruffest magic-enhanced tone you growl “Golem halt! Neuer Befehl: Schlaf”. For a moment you aren’t sure it has worked and then the mannequin slumps to the floor. Success! You enjoy the admiring looks of your club-mates as you coolly grab the books off the table and walk out of the room.

+1 Mimicry ss, advance phase 5.

Failure: So, the mannequin obeys commands spoken in Vilocean you think, well how hard can this be then? Just tell it to...um… sleep, how does that go? “Golem halt! Neuer Befehl: Schlaf.” You are quite proud that you got the word order right, but something wasn’t quite right you realise when the mannequin abruptly lunges at you with its sword. “Golem Halt! Neuer Befehl: Schlaf.” The mannequin pauses slightly, which is lucky as otherwise it would have skewered you, but you still get a nasty cut. “Try a deeper voice!” cries Basia in a panicked tone, oh, right, yes, like the mercenary’s voice… Pitching your voice as low as you can you try again “Golem Halt! Neuer Befehl: Schlaf.” The mannequin stops visibly for a few moments as though confused before continuing its attack catching you with a backhand blow that sends you reeling, trying one last time you order the mannequin to sleep. This time with the help of a little glamour magic to make your voice deeper, and to your relief the mannequin slumps to the floor.

 

“That…that was too close” says Courtenay from his hiding place outside the room, “are you ok?” Adds Ausdaur sounding concerned. Basia is more practical and comes in to the room to negate your wounds, but although she stops the bleeding and revises your robes clean you know that you will be left with bruising for days. Taking the books from the table you stagger from the room, time to go home you think.

-1 vitality, -1 Mimicry ss, +1 relationship Basia, advance phase 5.

 

Option 5. Use an incantation to bring the books to you without approaching the desk. [incantation methods v 9]

Success: “Attack anyone who approaches the desk” was the command given to the Mannequin, at least you think it was. The mannequin still hasn’t moved but you don’t want to risk it attacking if it really is a defense of some sort. Fortunately the command has an obvious loophole.

 

Windcharms are easy, focusing the wind so it blows the books to you instead of all over the room is a little harder but the four of you manage to blow the books off the table over to your side of the room without much difficulty. Success!

+1 Incantation Methods ss, advance phase 5.

Failure: “Attack anyone who approaches the desk” was the command given to the Mannequin, at least you think it was. The mannequin still hasn’t moved but you don’t want to risk it attacking if it really is a defense of some sort.

 

Windcharms are easy, focusing the wind so it blows the books to you instead of all over the room is sadly harder and the books are caught up in a whirldwind that starts to get faster and faster. “You’re going to damage them!” Cries Courtenay starting to cast something frantically, “Stop Courtenay! Let me negate the spell” says Basia casting a quick negation, the whirlwind slows and Courtenay grabs the books from it as it fades giving you a reproachful glance.

 

“We’ve got the books” says Ausdaur “but they may have heard the racket – we need to run” you don’t need any more encouragement and you run downstaris and out through the servants exit moments later.

-1 relationship Courtenay, advance phase 5.

 

Phase 5. Outside the house

You put a few streets between you and the thieves’ house before you all stop to catch your breath and take stock. “Which books belong to the Academagia?” Says Basia struggling to read the titles in the gloom, “All of them” says Ausdaur in an uncompromising tone, “They stole a book from the library, they can ask the librarians if they want any that were theirs back!”

 

“This one must be the Harpist” says Basia holding one of the books, look, “Celestial servants of Elumian legend – the picture on the front is of a Heavenly Harpist” You look at the book, and grin, “that must be her. So, um, what are the other books?” Ausdaur looks at the book she grabbed

“Hypatia’s Wards Against Darkenbeasts” wow, she says “I filed this a few weeks ago for Professor Rupprecht, it’s a book of really strong spells for protection against creatures summoned by gates magic.” “My books not as nice as yours” says Courtenay with a shivver, “Nightmares of the Realms Beyond and Spells for Summoning them.” He takes a peek inside and hurriedly snaps it shut “I don’t think we should be caught with this book, I don’t recognise the classification pillar symbol inside the cover it must be one of the banned schools. ” You hear a gulp and Basia says “I don’t think we want to be caught with this one either”, refusing to discuss her book she says “I think they must have stolen the Harper to calm the book on nightmare beasts” her look suggests that none of you should ask her what the last book is called.

 

“Let’s just dump the banned books” you say, “No!” says Courtenay scandalised, what if someone found them?” Basia says “With our luck they cause havoc, or worse they take it to a professor who does an Astrology spell to find out who handled the book – meaning us!” You think for a moment “OK then, we need to get the two nasty books back to the library, but we can’t risk anyone knowing that we have them, so we’ll sneak them in and hide them in the banned section of the library”. Seeing how reluctant the others are to have the books you agree to keep them until they can be put back.

+1 relationship Basia, +1 relationship Courtenay, +1 relationship Ausdaur, access stage 8.

 

 

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After reading through Phase 4 I think

instead

"Golem halt! Neuer Befehl: Jeden angreifen wo sich dem Tisch nähert"

I think its better to use:

"Golem neuer Befehl: Jeden angreifen der sich dem Tisch nähert"

 

 

Its üben not uben in Option 2. You also can write ueben if you prefer to avoid the ü.

 

Option 4 looks fine. but for the first failure command I still would use Schlag instead Schlaf ^^.

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Thanks for the warning Legate, a pity that preliminary potions probably won't see the light of day, I'd done 4 or 5 stages and it's on the computer up at my parent's home.

 

Book-worms 9: Returning the unfortunate borrowing

 

 

 

Phase 1: Sneak into the banned section of library

Ausdaur and Basia are only too happy to forget about the ‘liberated’ books, clearly having found the trip to the thieves’ house more adventurous than they expected. Fortunately Courtenay is still keen to return the Harpist to her rightful place, and Zoe and Milena are available to help you sneak into the library. The question is, how do you get the nasty books into the banned section where they will blend in and no-one will think to wonder who last touched them?

 

Option 1. Forge a library pass. [Forge v 8]

Success: The banned section of the library is, well, banned, but it’s still there. So some people must have the right to go there you think, and given how bureaucratic the library tends to be, that probably means that there are passes or some such. Which turns out to be right, everyone has a library card of course, but you’ve already noted that different people have different cards.

 

Sneaking a look at Neera’s card seems a bit unfair as she has always been so nice to you, but it pays off. You see that she has several cards, and two of them have the crest of the main library – but while one of those looks just like yours the other has all sorts of extra symbols on it. You know better than to try forging it with magic, but with a fair amount of effort, and several tries, you manage to make a reasonable copy of her special card.

 

The banned section has several entrances, one goes right by the head librarian’s office, that one’s a no you think, one goes to the book-pile, but you know that the book-pile door is locked and usually has a senior book-worm or a librarian near it. Which leaves the gargoyle gate, a small door guarded by two gargoyles.

 

Courtenay whispers as you look at the gate “the old library exit was here, when they extended the library they left a lot of the old walls in place like this.” He sounds nervous, as well he might, you suspect that Courtenay hasn’t crept into the banned section before.

 

Well, there is only one way to find out if your forged pass works, and that’s to try it. You walk forward confidently, and when the gargoyle stares at you present the card. The gargoyle takes the card and looks at it, before to your surprise eating it. The gargoyle then turns back to stone allowing you to pass unhindered if surprised, clearly those passes are a one-time use only! Onward!

+1 Forgery ss, advance phase 2.

Failure: Forging a library card for the banned section turns out to be quite difficult. Courtenay knew of a little used entrance to the banned section, part of the wall of the old library guarded by gargoyles. He’d seen them looking at library cards so it was fairly obvious that they were enspelled to let people with the right cards in.

 

But your regular library cards didn’t do a thing, the gargoyles just stared at them for a moment and then turned away bored. So while ‘accidentally’ rifling through Neera’s personal stack of library cards (that left you wondering just how many libraries there were in the Academagia) you had a look for one for the banned section. You managed to find one with the main library crest but which was much more ornate than the usual card, and did your best to make your own copy.

 

And now the moment of truth, the gargoyles stare at your forged card, and stare, and stare. This isn’t good you think, at which point the gargoyle grunts and throws your card back at you. It is about to cry out when Milena pushes her own card under the Gargoyles nose and commands it to look, the Gargoyle stops, and then takes her card before returning to its position and turning to stone. “Gods” moans Milena “you have no idea how much that pass cost, why didn’t you check your dratted card was drawn properly?

-1 relationship Milena di Montors, advance phase 2

 

Option 2. Sneak in behind a librarian [Move silently v 10]

Success: The banned section of the library is more banned by rule, than barred by real barriers, you think absently. Librarians go into the banned section, and do professors and some older students and visitors, sadly you have no idea how someone gets permission – though you suspect that not being a first year is a good start.

 

However being a first year, and thus fairly small, is good start for sneaking in behind a librarian to avoid being seen. “Timing is everything in such matters” mutters Zoe, “I read up on this earlier, we need to seize the opportunity when it presents itself and look casual”. Milena rolls her eyes “I don’t think that you can learn how to sneak in behind someone from a book shop-keeper”, Courtenay “shush! If you start squabbling there won’t be any sneaking because we’ll all be in detention” says Courtenay, “the stars are with us tonight though, look over there by the beastiary section, Courtenay is clearly right, heading towards the banned section is a librarian pushing a book-cart – a heavily laden book-cart. Waiting for them to pass you carefully sneak behind them and get through the gate to the banned section with ease. “Nearly there” says Zoe “we just need to file the nasty books reasonably so no one wonders why they are out of place.” File them, of course, just dumping the books on a random shelf would have been far too easy…

+1 Move silently, advance phase 2

Failure: Getting into the banned section isn’t as easy as just walking along the aisle and ‘accidentally’ going a few aisles too far, there’s a gate with some sort of pass token thing. But even though it is banned, the banned section still sees some traffic. The librarians go in and out as do Professors and the odd guest (some very odd).

 

“We should be able to sneak in behind a professor” you say, “or a librarian”. “A librarian” says Zoe fervently, definitely NOT a professor”, “I agree with the shop-keeper for a change” says Milena, “a professor will give us detention and demerits on the spot – we might get away from a librarian.” “Particularly a slow near-sighted one pushing a heavy cart and thinking only about their midnight coca” says Courtenay absently. “That’s a bit specific Courtenay” you respond, “Not really” says Courtenay, look at Old Lum over there, the gods only know why he hasn’t retired decades ago, but with the amount of black and red binding on the books in his cart and him already past the bestiary section he must be heading through the gate to the banned section.

 

“Sweet luck” you say, let’s go. The gate opens and Old Lum pushes his cart through, your luck turns sour though when you accidentally knock a book that was perched on a shelf shortly after getting into the banned section. Old Lum pauses and as you quickly scatter and hide behind the shelves he looks around confused. “Oh dear little one” he says abruptly leaning down to pick up Katarche, Courtenay’s hedgehog, “you have got yourself lost haven’t you, hiding from one of those nasty dogs in the library perhaps? There’s no slugs or snails in here for you, you know, I’ll set you outside in a few moments don’t you worry, you can find your way back to your master from there.” Old Lum gently places Katarche on his cart and carries on. “He’ll be fine Courtenay” whispers Zoe, “Old Lum’s as gentle as they come and no one would blame a familiar for being in here. You can tell from Courtenay’s face that he isn’t convinced and clearly blames your carelessness for his familiar’s predicament.

-1 relationship Courtenay de Surval, advance phase 2.

 

Option 3. Traps – disarm the traps first! [Traps v 8]

Success: The banned section has only a few ways in, there’s no point trying on of the places with people around you think, talking your way in simply isn’t an option. But there is an old gargoyle gate from before the library was extended which is quite isolated.

 

The gate is fairly small, you presume that it would probably have been completely blocked off if it hadn’t had magical guardians or had been larger. Looking at the gate you can see how it works, walk past the gargoyles ‘decorating’ the gate and they will shout out. They probably need to be shown some token to stop them doing so, you think, recognising faces is probably beyond them.

 

Looking more closely at the gargoyles you can see that they are mostly mechanical devices, as the gate is pushed open, the movement pushes rods into the gargoyles, and, you suspect, forces air through the gargoyles mouth to make a sound. “We can’t enspell the gargoyles” says Zoe, “they are bound to be protected against magic.” Milena smiles “Direct magic yes shop-keeper, but perhaps not something indirect, perhaps a bubble of air around them to stop the sound spreading?” “Not likely” says Zoe drily, “any bubble would have to cross the wall and some of the shelves, and those will all be protected against magic too, but perhaps we could throw some junk into their mouths and then block them with a revision spell on the junk?”

 

A search of your bags turns up plenty of non-incriminating junk that can be thrown, and the gargoyles invitingly wide mouths turn out to be fairly easy targets. Courtenay in particular is a surprisingly good shot. The gargoyles mouths gummed up you carefully sneak towards them, when you are a few paces away the gargoyles activate and look at you, and after a few moments in which they stare at your hands (so the token is a special library card of some sort you think!) they try to shout, only to make barely a squeak. Laughing you all squeeze past them into the banned section. “Now we just need to find where to file the nasty books” says Zoe happily, oh yes, of course, you don’t want anyone looking at these books and wondering who last held them – like say a librarian looking at something badly mis-filed might do. Oh well, the banned section isn’t too big, it shouldn’t take too long.

+1 Traps ss, advance phase 2.

Failure: The banned section has only a few ways in, there’s no point trying on of the places with people around you think, talking your way in simply isn’t an option. But there is an old gargoyle gate from before the library was extended which is quite isolated.

 

The gate is fairly small, you presume that it would probably have been completely blocked off if it hadn’t had magical guardians or had been larger. Looking at the gate you can see how it works, walk past the gargoyles ‘decorating’ the gate and they will shout out. They probably need to be shown some token to stop them doing so, you think, recognising faces is probably beyond them.

 

Looking more closely at the gargoyles you can see that they are mostly mechanical devices, as the gate is pushed open, the movement pushes rods into the gargoyles, and, you suspect, forces air through the gargoyles mouth to make a sound. “You can’t enspell the gargoyles” says Milena, “they will be protected against magic.” Zoe grins “anything obvious yes your lofty-ness, but it’s a lot harder to protect against indirect magic, like, say, us stuffing paper in their mouths and revising it into goop.”

Milena doesn’t look to happy about Zoe’s plan, but then the two never agree on anything, still she does her part in trying to throw paper balls into the gargoyles mouths, and then revising the paper into goop.

 

As you walk past the gargoyles they try to scream but don’t make a sound, until that is Zoe tries to squeeze through when with a ‘pop!’ one of the gargoyles manages to spit out its goop and starts to scream. Not wasting a moment Zoe grabs a book from her bag and rams it into the gargoyles mouth, muffling its cries and hastily revises the book into more goop. Sobbing in relief she staggers through the gate, you’re in!

 

Milena laughs, deeply amused by Zoe’s misfortune, “was that a book from Garibaldi’s shop-keeper? I wouldn’t have thought you could afford his prices, what a pity you spurned my offer at the start of term” Zoe curls her lip “oh yes, your oh-so generous offer that left you collecting a fee for the next year for a few referrals I’d have got anyway once people knew me, I’ve got plans of my own your Lofty-ness and if I need help I’ll find a partner who pulls their weight instead of leaving me to do all the work! And for the record Garibaldi and I get along just fine!”

-1 relationship Zoe Melis, advance phase 2

 

Option 4. Library knowledge – through the shutes! [Library Knowledge v 10]

Success: Zoe frowns, “there is one way into the banned section that should be safe from discovery” she muses, “if we could shrink ourselves we could just walk through the shutes.”

Unlock option 5, hide option 4, choose again

Failure: “Maybe we could sneak in through the book-pile door” you say thinking over the possibilities, unfortunately you say it out loud leaving your friends to roll their eyes at your folly, Milena says, in a tone so sarcastic you can only be glad that Jere Niemela wasn’t around to hear it and repeat it for weeks, “well if you want Neera or a librarian to see you then of course, if however you want to sneak in without being seen I suggest something less blatant!” Courtenay laughs “well, we can’t take the main entrance either, how else do we get in?” Zoe smiles, “through the delivery shuts – all we have to do is shrink ourselves small enough to fit and walk down the old delivery shute into the banned section.

-1 library knowledge ss, unlock option 5, hide option 4, choose again.

 

Option 5. Revision – make yourself small for the shuts. [Theory of revision v 10]

Success: Getting to the shute that leads to the banned section isn’t hard, figuring out an astrology spell to guide you through the maze of shutes to the banned section is a bit harder but Courtenay is well ahead of you. Making yourself small, well, must be possible as it’s in all sorts of legends, but, hmmm. Takes some though. Eventually with Zoe’s help you figure out the combination of revision spells that will reduce you for a while and manage to shrink yourself down so you can fit through the book delivery shute system. After that getting into the banned section is a cinch!

Failure: You divide the job into teams, Milena will sort out a distraction to make sure that you are the only book-worms near the delivery shute system in the book-pile, Courtenay will get an astrology spell that can lead you through the maze of shutes to the banned section, Zoe will negate the spells in the shute system long enough for you to pass through, and you will handle the shrink spell. Unfortunately for a spell that features in fairy-tales on every isle it turns out to be very fiddly, and in the end you need to get help from Zoe, who annoyingly had managed to master the intricacies of the old spell system in no time.

-1 theory of revision ss, advance phase 2.

 

 

Phase 2: Find the section for the nasty books

So, the banned section, somehow you thought it would be… darker... yup, dark and gloomy. Of course the main library isn’t too light, but frankly aside from more of the books having black covers you can’t see much difference, well, until you start reading the titles anyhow.

 

“So, anyone figure out the filing system yet?” Whispers Zoe, “Other than alphabetic within sections no” murmurs Milena, “I don’t recognise most of the categorisation symbols, there must be whole banned categories!” Courtenay frowns, “I don’t think so, I think it’s just the category system they used during the middle empire, I don’t know what they mean but they look familiar.” Milena blinks “why use an obsolete filing system?” She asks “to stop regular folk from finding anything?” Says Zoe, “and because post-ban there wouldn’t be any symbols for banned schools anyway, so you’d have to use the old symbols.”

 

So how are you going to find where to file the nasty books?

 

Option 1. Just sneak around quietly until the titles look similar. [Move silently v 9]

Success: Figuring out the filing system will take forever, the titles in any area should be fairly similar, and as long as the books are on roughly the right shelf you should be fine. So really all you have to do is sneak around without bumping in to anyone until the titles look about right.

 

Zoe and Milena spend their time trying to figure out the system, but Courtenay finds space for the nasty book that Basia found fairly quickly, and you find somewhere roughly ok for “Nightmares of the Realms Beyond and Spells for Summoning them” after 10 minutes or so. “OK then” Milena says, “let’s get out of here before we’re found!”

+1 Move silently ss, advance phase 3.

Failure: Figuring out the filing system will take forever, the titles in any area should be fairly similar, and as long as the books are on roughly the right shelf you should be fine. So really all you have to do is sneak around without bumping in to anyone until the titles look about right.

 

Which would probably have been done in about 10 minutes if you had been on your own “not there!” Hisses Milena, “The other books are histories!” “What are you doing?” Whimpers Zoe “The other books are pheme research!” Courtenay doesn’t get much of a word in and you suspect that he like you would have put the books on a shelf long ago, you suspect that Zoe and Milena are right that the book would stand out from others if you’d put it on the shelf, but you can’t find anywhere for this book. It’s not just the fact that a quick peek (no one wants to look at it any longer) of the first few pages (none of you dared go further) shows that it contains all sorts of phemes, weird rituals, and terrifying pictures and descriptions of monsters from beyond gates instead of staying on one topic, there’s a sort of queasy vibration to it, you start worrying that the book will simply stand out anywhere in even the banned section of the library. Eventually you manage to find a space on a shelf where you can stuff the book without your colleagues arguing, but you feel exhausted by the search – and the struggle to avoid screaming at Zoe and Milena to stop arguing with each other.

+1 stress, advance phase 3.

 

Option 2. Watch out for librarians while the others search. [Danger sense v 8]

Success: “If we all search the shelves a librarian or visitor could creep up on us” you say “I’ll keep look-out.” “Good idea” says Zoe, “be subtle though, do a simple poke spell or something to warn us.” Like you had to be told that!

 

Courtenay and Milena are pretty good at checking the shelves, but Zoe is simply phenomenal, you find yourself wondering if she’s been here before as she is so good at deciphering the old filing system and in quickly identifying the types of books on the shelves. Zoe files the book on Nightmares from the Realms beyond pretty quickly, the…other… one is harder.

 

Several times you warn your club-mates about librarians and visitors giving them time to hide, and eventually Zoe mutters “finally, this shelf looks to be books that contains multiple topics, and from the amount of dust it doesn’t get used much – I’ll put it here and use a wind-charm to spread the dust over it” you watch as she does so and then the four of you quickly scamper for the exit.

+1 Danger sense ss, advance phase 3.

Failure: “If we all search the shelves a librarian or visitor could creep up on us” you say “I’ll keep look-out.” “Oh great” says Milena, “So you don’t have to read any of this horrible stuff and get to run first! Thank you for being such a hero!”

 

“Milena, you and Zoe are the super-students here, and Courtenay never found a book he couldn’t read, someone needs to keep a look-out, and I’m pretty good at it, don’t worry, I’ll warn you all before hiding.” Milena seems pretty unsure but Zoe and Courtenay are happy enough with your plan. Which turns out to be a mistake as you get distracted by moaning coming from some books on a bookshelf and only Milena (it would have been her) sees a librarian coming in time to warn anyone. When Zoe finally finds somewhere safe to file the books you creep out behind the others feeling about three inches tall.

-1 relationship Milena di Montors, advance phase 3.

 

Option 3. Figure out the old filing system. [Filing v 10]

Success: Looking at the filing symbols on the shelves and books you think that Courtenay is partly correct, some of the symbols are from the Imperial filing system of the Middle Empire, others however are different, and after some hard thinking you figure out that different aspects of the filing system, author, topic, type of text, study level and so on are all from different filing systems. Once you figure out the pattern it is easy enough to file the book on nightmares stolen from the library. Filing the other book is tougher, but Zoe finds a space that you all agree is good enough for the book and you file it and head quickly for the exit.

+1 Filing ss, advance to phase 2.

Failure: Looking at the filing symbols on the shelves and books you thought that Courtenay was correct, but after a few minutes of fruitless wandering the shelves you realise that the author symbols just don’t work, the study level text symbols are completely meaningless, and the type of text symbols are only right about half the time.

 

Trying to use the imperial filing system from other era’s of the empire doesn’t work either, sometimes one of the symbol types works but never more than one.

 

You are still trying to figure out this crazy filing system when Zoe announces she has found a spot for the second book and Milena grudgingly admits it’s a good spot, Zoe shakes her head as she brushes past you “you couldn’t have at least tried to help instead of just wandering around sightseeing!” She hisses disappointedly.

-1 relationship Zoe Melis, advance phase 2.

 

Option 4. So what was the old system, you must have read about it somewhere. [Library Knowledge v 10]

Success: The filing system of the Middle Empire, you read something on that, but what was it? After a few moments struggling you remember some bits on the topic categorisation and can see that Courtenay was right, the topic categorisations are the same as the system used during the Middle Empire, but looking further you realise that those are the only symbols that match. A few moments thought and you realise that the phemes symbols couldn’t be from the Middle Empire, and looking further you realise that they are from the Early Empire, once you realise that the rest of the confusion is because the librarians have use a different filing system for each type of categorisation you are able to figure it out without too much trouble.

 

Finding the right place for the 2 books, particularly for the book that none of you dare to read past the first few pages isn’t easy even knowing the filing system, but after half an hour or so you manage well enough to satisfy everyone and you head for the exit.

+1 Library knowledge ss, advance phase 3.

Failure: Right, the Imperial Middle Empire filing system Courtenay, um, why in all the Isles would anyone have learned that??? Some of the filing symbols look vaguely familiar, so….maybe… “um, so this section would be books on historical events?” For a moment the others take a look, “No” says Courtenay, “that’s how the Early Empire filing systems categorised historical events.” “Also” muses Zoe “the book titles refer to papers by scholars on protective phemes, presumably against banned or dangerous magic or these books would be in the main section of the library.”

 

Right. So much for your thoughts. You just wish Milena didn’t keep looking at you and sniggering, you try to comfort yourself by telling yourself that she’s probably just nervous. You try to help your friends but don’t want them to laugh at you more so don’t make many suggestions. Fortunately Courtenay finds a good place for the book on Nightmare beasts and Zoe finds one for the even nastier book. Fine, at least you can go now and hopefully Milena finds something else to laugh at once you are out.

-1 relationship Milena di Montors, adance phase 3.

 

Option 5. Do the numbers to understand the underlying meaning of the numbering system [The Everard Equation v 8]

Success: You breathe deeply, this is part of the library, run by the librarians, and librarians need an orderly filing system like a fire needs air. And although you don’t know what the symbols mean, the underlying logic must be there, and so must be susceptible to identification via the Everard equation.

 

Quickly discussing your hypothesis with Courtenay the two of you work the equation on some of the symbols and to your pleasure find a place for the book on Nightmare beasts in just a few minutes.

 

The second book is harder as it doesn’t have much in the way of identifying marks, but even so the equation lets you narrow down where it should go in the library, making it much easier to find somewhere that you can all agree it should go.

+1 The Everard Equation ss, advance phase 3.

Failure: You breathe deeply, this is part of the library, run by the librarians, and librarians need an orderly filing system like a fire needs air. And although you don’t know what the symbols mean, the underlying logic must be there, and so must be susceptible to identification via the Everard equation.

 

Declaring your perception you set to work doing the equation on the filing system, but after 10 minutes you’ve got nowhere. Sitting back and frowning you mutter “I don’t get it, the equation doesn’t work!” Courtenay who has been working his own equation growls – actually growls - “yes it does, you just got your differentiation incorrect, NEVER doubt the equation, EVERYTHING can be found within it.” Um. Right. You try smiling at Courtenay but the furious student stomps off followed by Zoe and Milena, unfortunately it looks like Courtenay is much better than you at working the Everard equation as he leads you straight to the place for the book on Nightmare beasts and finds a fairly good spot for the even worse book pretty quickly. At least you can get out of here now even if you do feel like an idiot.

-1 relationship Courtenay, advance phase 3.

 

 

Phase 3: Caught!

Walking back to the exit you feel much lighter with the books now out of your hands. But you don’t have much time to enjoy the lighter feeling before you hear steps in the library, steps heading your way!

 

You start to move more quickly but are restrained by the need to keep quiet. The steps get closer and closer and you start looking around for somewhere to hide, but you are close to the exit from the banned section and there aren’t many places to hide without heading back deeper in – and towards the footsteps.

 

And then you are at the exit, your heart leaps as you pass through safe!

 

Except not. A librarian’s hands grab your collar, “you child! What are you doing here? To be heading out this way you must have been in the banned section! How dare you go in there! What were you doing?”

 

Option 1. ‘Fess up [Character v 10]

Success: For a moment you consider lying, but frankly the four of you are pretty much bang to rights, and you respect the librarians far too much to directly lie to them. You stand up straight and look the librarian in the eye. “I’m sorry sir, a library book was stolen and we retrieved it, we could tell from the title it should be in the banned section. We were worried we’d get into trouble if anyone found it, and so we snuck in to put it back.”

 

The librarian frowns, and then looks thoughtful. “I cast a truth-tell before I grabbed you child, and either you are good enough liar to fool it, or you are telling the truth.” The librarian frowns for a few more moments. “Well I believe you, I can’t see any malice in you and I know you from the book-worms – yes, we’ve noticed you, good little helpers you are and someday perhaps good librarians. Well, it is for a professor to decide what happens now but I’ll put a good word in for you.”

+1 Character ss, advance phase 4.

Failure: For a moment you consider lying, but frankly the four of you are pretty much bang to rights, and you respect the librarians far too much to directly lie to them. You stand up straight and look the librarian in the eye. “I’m sorry sir, a library book was stolen and we retrieved it, we could tell from the title it should be in the banned section. We were worried we’d get into trouble if anyone found it, and so we snuck in to put it back.”

 

“Huh, a likely story!” Says the librarian, “You must think me a fool to believe that, you’d just have handed the book in to the head librarian if you’d found it you fool, and how would children like yourself ‘retrieve’ a book if it had been stolen, which it couldn’t have been as no-one can steal a book from the library! The professor will deal with you rapscallions, try your silly stories on them!”

+1 stress, advance phase 4.

 

Option 2. Make up an excuse for why you were there. [Lie v 10]

Success: Hmm, telling the truth briefly crosses your mind as an option, but you dismiss it at once, afterall, it is the banned section, not the discouraged-unless-you-have-a-good-reason section.

 

Looking shocked by the accusation you say “what? We weren’t in the banned section, we were putting back the books we borrowed from the magical beasts section, we borrowed ‘fey folk of the Imperial Reserve’ you can check if you like, it’s the only one of the books by Vlain Sunderpost without dust on it!” The librarian looks taken aback, but also unsure, “hmm, well, I can see someone’s been at the bottom shelf, but I was sure that I hadn’t heard anyone ahead of me. “Well” says Zoe, “It is the library, we’re supposed to be quiet.” The librarian looks confused for a moment and then shrugs, “well, it isn’t for me to decide, the professor will consider your explanation.

+1 Lie ss, advance phase 4.

Lie: Hmm, right, yes, what would you be doing here? Carefully looking shocked at the accusation you do your best to look innocently accused. “We weren’t in the banned section sir! We were..um…looks at the history books on the Middle Empire.” The librarian sighs, “right, the ones behind me that you were heading towards, even if your friend hadn’t still been half way through the entrance when I caught you that wouldn’t have been even an adequate lie child! To the professor with you and no trouble!”

-1 Lie ss, advance phase 4.

 

Option 3. Think of grounds for your behaviour being ok. [Library knowledge v 10]

Success: There’s not much point trying to deny you were in the banned section when caught right outside it, so breathing deeply you try to make your case as best you can.

 

“I understand we aren’t supposed to go in there sir, but we had to return some stolen books, and couldn’t just leave them out where someone innocent might come across it. We were on a quest from one of the books you see, a main library book had been stolen and we had sworn to return it, we hadn’t realised we would find a banned book at the same time, but we couldn’t breach the terms of a sworn quest sir, not from one of the books!”

 

The librarian frowns, “the books have been restless of late, and we’d told the professors of the theft – the books should have trusted us to return their colleague. But quest or not you should have told adults, a book quest will speak in your favour but I’m afraid you’ll have to explain it to the professor.

+1 Library knowledge ss, advance phase 4.

Failure: Caught bang to rights you think, another few steps and you might have been able to argue otherwise, but with only one set of bookshelves behind you there isn’t much chance to get away with claiming you were looking at them.

 

“Errr, we were returning a stolen library book sir, the regulations say we can’t borrow or read books from the section, not that we can’t take a book back. And we couldn’t just leave it out where someone could find it could we sir?” The librarian arches an eyebrow, “No, that’s why you should have handed the book in to us, instead of hoping to sneak it back unseen, if that’s even what you were doing! The professor will deal with you!

 

“well done” says Courtenay in a sarcastic tone, “just admitting it” he shakes his head, “last time I let you do the talking!”

-1 relationship Courtenay de Surval, advance phase 4.

 

Phase 4: Answering to the Legate

“We should have burned it” says Zoe forlornly as you sit waiting to see how much trouble you are in. At that the stern looking librarian who dragged you in looks aghast, “never destroy a book” sas the librarian in a voice of deepest horror “only a savage or a fool destroys a book!” When Zoe starts to talk about books containing forbidden knowledge the librarian shushes her with a fierce stare “knowledge is dangerous, or course it is, knowledge is power and power is dangerous in the wrong hands, but I tell you know that even banned knowledge is safer in a properly caged book then it would be if loose in the wild!” He catches himself, clearly unwilling to explain his words, but stops himself. “If you find such a book again bring it to me, I will show you have to seal the book and cage it, and never, never, go into the forbidden library without a senior librarian again. Far worse things than detention await you if you listen to some of those books!”

 

The Legate looks stern as he enters, but you see a twinkle in his eyes. “Well, you all have been busy.” He says, “found out about a book-smuggling ring stealing our books, and retrieved some of them no less. Although I must say of all the student groups I wouldn’t have expected the book-worms to be the ones to sneak out of the grounds and get rambunctious with thieves!” The legate shakes his head “that…other… book you brought back though, is not something even to be contained in the banned section, I doubt even the Harpist could have helped to keep that book calm for long, the trouble they had were but a shadow of what would have happened had it awoken properly.” The Legate frowns, “Professor Storey and I will shortly pay a little visit to the thieves and explain our displeasure at their activities, the Captain can hardly blame us for taking matters into our own hands when they’ve been caught with our books in their property! And with the only law-breaking being by under-age children we are exempt any serious criticism, ah, to think that when Kate cast the horoscope that predicted this I thought she must have been mistaken!”

 

The Legate smiles, “recovering the two stolen books compensates somewhat for sneaking in to the banned section, and the other book – let’s say I’d rather not have to make any entry in the discipline book that might have to mention it even in passing. So today I think I shall retroactively grant you a special dispensation to enter the banned section for the purpose of putting the Nightmares book back and let no-one say anything of the other one!” He looks you meaningfully in the eye “nothing, understand?” When you nod he smiles and says “now then, the Academagia is a school, so tell me know what you have learned from this escapade!”

 

Option 1. That you should support your friends

Automatic: You grin, that we should stand by our friends, we’d never have managed to recover the books alone, but together we did pretty well.” You friends smile clearly happy with your answer and the Legate smiles, “A good answer, but don’t underestimate yourself, you did rather well for a first year, I shall keep my eye on you!”

+1 Charm, +1 relationship Orso Orsi, gain ability: filing like a pro, end adventure.

 

Option 2. That you should fight for what’s right!

Automatic: The Legate laughs, “very exuberant of you, but perhaps there are other options than fighting at times?” He turns serious, “but yes, there are times when we must be prepared to fight for our principles if we wish to keep them. Just be prepared to ask for a little help next time, you very nearly got badly out of your depth, had the master of the house been home things might have got quite nasty, they are not to be trifled with.

+1 Strength, +1 relationship Orso Orsi, gain ability: filing like a pro, end adventure.

 

Option 3. That the professor’s know more than they let on to the students?

The Legate laughs… “Well of course, although it’s only fair, the reverse is true as well! In time perhaps you will be told more of such things, but such things are too dangerous for most students, and certainly most first years, though you do show significant promise.”

+1 Insight, +1 relationship Orso Orsi, gain ability: filing like a pro, end adventure.

 

Action.

Filing like a pro: +1 skill of your choice, +1 random pheme, and 1 from the following table: -1 vitality, +1 stress, +1 random research & +3 relationship random student; OR +1 stress, +1 random research, +2 relationship random professor; OR +1 random research.

 

 

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Well, after 9 months delay, and hopefully in the nick of time, another adventure, it is club related but not to a club that the PC is in, rather 2 rival clubs that older students are in where the PC walks into the middle of an odd competition between the two. Hopefully the [redacted] elements aren't a problem.

 

It is a 1-stage (action) adventure with 5 or six phases to it, with 2 paths, one for each club that the PC helps.

 

My Bologna.

Hopefully this is fair use and doesn't cause any copyright issues, the references to the song are mainly only in phase 1. It is a early game adventure with (almost) all checks being difficulty 5, an incautious student could rack up a lot of stress and damage but that is supposed to compensate for being a short adventure with an ability point at the end - and to get thoughts of mortality into players minds perhaps.

 

Phase 1: My-y-y-y Bologna!

Walking to the Admiratio one day you hear a street-seller singing ahead in a youthful (and rather good) baritone:

Ooh, my little hungry one, hungry one
Open up a package of my-y-y-y bologna
Ooh, I think the toast is done, the toast is done
Top it with a little of my-y-y-y-y bologna

Never gonna stop, eat it up
Such a tasty snack I always eat too much, to-to much
But I'll soon be back for m-m-m-myyy bologna

 

The singer is a somewhat scruffy lad perhaps 3 or 4 years older than you, he stands behind a crudely built wheeled stall with a board in front which shows a roughly sketched bologna toastie, the smell from his stall is however very appetising.

You are however somewhat surprised that he is directly opposite another street seller, an attractive and somewhat aristocratic lad a year or so older, who also appears to be selling bologna (albeit from a much fancier cart) – and who is giving the singer an extremely cold stare. ‘Odd’ you think ‘to have two lads selling the same goods right opposite each other’.

 

Both of the young men have small stalls but as yet few customers; seeing them exchanging dark looks you wonder which sausage snack you fancy – the singer appears to be selling cheap but cheerful bologna on toast, with mustard for garnish at just 10 pims. The second is selling ‘proper’ Regnalien Mortadella in a crusted bun stuffed with wholesome looking fresh salad and an array of spicy sauce (paprika, nutmeg, coriander and so on) which all looks quite delicious, albeit at the eye-watering price of 50 pims.

 

“Bologna on toast!” calls the boy who was singing, looking straight at you, “10 pims for just what a young scholar needs to recover from the cafeteria!”

 

What do you do?

 

Option 1. Buy some bologna on toast

Automatic: Lose 10 pims, lose 1 stress, proceed to phase 2a

I’ll buy a toastie you declare, “great!” says the boy, “let me spread a little mustard on for you, I can only spread a little as I don’t want to run out!”

 

You buy the bologna toastie and take a mouthful, mmm! delicious! How could anyone regret 10 pims for something so surprisingly tasty? “I haven’t seen you here before” you say munching through the bologna on toast, “I would have noticed as bologna is such a tasty snack though I have to make sure I don’t eat too much of it and wind up making myself sick!”

 

Option 2. You are hungry, but pims are hard to come by, try to look deserving of charity… [seeking friends in hidden places v 5]

Success: +1 Seeking friends in hidden places ss, lose 1 stress, proceed to phase 2a

You know that the poorer people are, the more generous they tend to be on someone down on their luck, and recently you haven’t felt very lucky (a common feeling around Cirillo Laziosi you muse absently). Patting your pockets, you smile apologetically and ruefully say “sorry, I don’t have any coin but they look delicious’, thank you for the song, it was hilarious!” The boy laughs, “nice try, and I’ll give you the bologna on toast, but you’ll do me a favour to earn it – with Academagia student robes on you should be giving charity not begging for it!”

 

Failure: -1 Seeking friends in hidden places, gain 1 stress, proceed to phase 2a

The boy looks at you and frowns, “yeah, I used to try and sucker street vendors for freebie’s when I was a first year too, then I found out that I’d pretty much won the best lottery in all the islands by getting into the Academagia in the first place and started working to help others with the skills I learned.”

 

[if the PC is Godina] Be glad I’m doing a duty right now or I’d tell Professor Massioti you came begging for food!” Seeing you start to drift over to the fancier cart in hope of better treatment he calls you back, his voice oddly concerned – even urgent “Look, steer clear of his snootiness on the other side, those seeking charity don’t want to go anywhere near him! I tell you what, you do me a favour and you can have the toastie, maybe you can show you are worthy of our house!”

 

[if the PC is not in house Godina] “Hmm, I’m glad you aren’t in my house if you think a student of the Academagia should be trying to wheedle food from a street vendor! Just be glad you didn’t try it with the snob on the other side… I tell you what, as the usual charity we in Godina show to the lesser houses I will let you have a toastie for a minor favour.”

 

 

Options 1.3 and 1.4 are only available to the sort of people with 50 pims to spend on a snack and a family background to consider doing so: History: Descended from Heroes, History: Descended from Royalty, Station: Nobility, Station: Wealthy, Station: Well-to-do

 

Option 1.3. [Only if background is from the above set] Buy a Mortadella crusted bun for 50 pims.

Automatic: Lose 50 pims, -1 stress, advance to phase 2b

The bologna toastie’s smell good, but really, who knows what standards of cleanliness such a cheap stall holds too? Better by far to spend a few extra pims than to risk a serious stomach upset.

 

Crossing the street to the far smarter cart selling proper mortadella crusted buns (with you note an artistic baking symbol carefully arranged on top of each) you request a crusty bun and pay over the 50 pims. “Well chosen” says the lad behind the stall “I can see you are a more discerning sort of customer, it is good to see that the new crop of first year students isn’t filled entirely with commoners”. Seeing your surprised look he flicks open his overall to show a House Aranaz badge, at your continued surprise that he is manning the stall the lad looks a little pained, “I’m Dominic and I’m here because I’m doing a duty” at your look he says, slightly condescendingly “you’ll get them in time, suffice to say that the patron of my – ah – club – has required me to prove myself better than a rival, and this ridiculous contest is the result. Obviously I would never stoop to mere mercantile behaviour normally.” He frowns at the sight of another peasant looking at his wares, blanching at the price and buying a cheap toastie instead. “Look, I admit it, I’m struggling against the guttersnipe, if you give me a hand I will return the favour.”

 

Option 1.4. [Only if background from above set] Sneer, I’ve no interest in eating such common muck, leave me alone boy! To the singer. [Command v 5].

 

Success: +1 Command ss, advance to phase 2b

The singer sees you and calls on you to buy one of his toastie’s, with another verse “Going to the market now? Market now? I’m the cities b-best bologna seller! Walkin’ to the Admiratio, Admiratio! Fill up your mouth with my-y-y-y-y bologna!” The verse is strained and obviously made up on the spot, your contempt for his presumption is instant. “No thank you, that cart looks like it was thrown together by a blind carpenter yesterday, I’ll not trust my stomach to its wares!”

 

The singer looks surprised at your cutting retort but before he can retort his rival laughs loudly “They are on to you Wyrd Al! Here my discerning friend, have a crusted bun with hot mortadella on me for your repartee!” The aristocratic lad behind the Mortadella cart hands you a tasty hot mortadella crusty bun and smiles proudly as you savour the taste of the culinary creation. “I am Dominic, you might want to make sure Al knows you have my favour if he decides to even the scores back at the Academagia, it’s not the done thing for a 4th year to bully a 1st but Al’s a strange fellow at the best of times. But if you give me a hand to show him his toasties are poor fare he will be bound not to do you harm” he pauses, “you will come to understand the etiquette of a duty sometime I’m sure…”

 

Failure: -1 command, +1 stress, advance to phase 2b.

The singer sees you and calls on you to buy one of his toastie’s, with another verse “Going to the market now? Market now? I’m the cities b-best bologna seller! Walkin’ to the Admiratio, Admiratio! Filling up your mouth with my-y-y-y-y bologna!” The verse is strained and obviously made up on the spot, so you sing back “I’m going to the market now, but I’ll not be poisoned by thy bologna!” The boys’ crowd of customers laugh at your flimsy retort and the roar of laughter as the singer makes a joke to them leaves you crushed with embarrassment.

 

“Careful my friend” says the aristocratic lad behind the Mortadella stall, “Wyrd Al never forgets a slight, even when so roundly returned. Help me against him, we are set this foolish contest as a duty – ah – you will learn of those in time, Professors and the like often set odd tasks to test favoured students and there is strict etiquette against the seniors harming juniors involved in such escapades.”

 

 

 

Phase 2A: Wyrd Al’s favour

 

 

“I’m Al, of House Godina” says the lad, “Most folk call me Wyrd Al – I may explain why someday if we get along well. My rival over there is Dominic of House Aranaz, our rivalry doesn’t comes from our houses though, each of us has a – ah – patron who helps our cliques with some studies of interest to us but who frequently set us a duty – a task designed to test skill, ingenuity, run an errand for them or simply test our loyalty, this time we are each set to beat the other at a contest, Dominic challenged, so I got to choose the battle – and I chose Bologna!

 

So, how will you help me out-sell him and show that my Bologna is the best Bologna?

 

Option 2A.1. Play along to Wyrd Al’s singing to lure in customers! [Lute v 5]

Success: +1 Lute ss, advance phase 3A.

Al is clearly quite the singer, but every singer is better with a little music, he has a lute beside the cart but he can’t sing, serve Bologna and play at the same time – so the lute is your job!

 

Taking up the lute you quickly get the hang of the tune Al is singing to, it is a catchy number from the Island of Alperin that swept Mineta a few years ago, the knack of playing it is to make it sound like it has a stuttering beat. It doesn’t take long for customers to be attracted by the music and for Al to then make the sale. The aristocratic lad behind the Mortadella cart opposite looks positively murderous with jealousy!

 

Failure: +1 Lute ss , -1 vitality, advance phase 3A.

Al is clearly quite the singer, but every singer is better with a little music, he has a lute beside the cart but he can’t sing, serve Bologna and play at the same time – so the lute is your job!

 

You know the tune Al is singing to, it is a catchy number from the Island of Alperin that swept Mineta a few years ago, the knack of playing it is to make it sound like it has a stuttering beat. Taking up the lute you start playing and it goes well – too well! The customers are not just attracted, you find yourself trampled in the rush and badly bruised – hopefully Al managed to make the sales you think blurrily.

 

Option 2A.2. Cook some more bologna for Wyrd Al so he can sell it hot! [Recipe’s v 5]

Success: +1 Recipe’s ss, advance phase 3A

The best bologna is hot bologna you think, Al has plenty of cold bologna to put in the toast, but you know that if you cook some as you go the smell will attract more customers so you light a small fire with your wand and start frying the bologna with a little onion, paprika and some other spices.

 

Before long you have a steady stream of customers and Al is raking in the cash, to the intense annoyance of the aristocratic lad you note.

 

Failure: -1 Vitality, +1 Baking, advance phase 3A

The best bologna is hot bologna you think, if I start frying up some bologna the sound and smell should attract plenty of custom. A few minutes later while Al serves and take the cash you start frying up the bologna. “10 cp cold, 15 hot everyone” says Al as a crowd swiftly start to gather “hot” says the first chap “oh yes, hot for me too” pipes up a lady near the front “and me” comes another voice – and another – and another. Everybody wants it hot you realise with a feeling of dread.

 

You fry frantically desperately trying to keep up with the orders but it’s really hard and time after time you burn yourself on the hot frying pan as you rush. Al negates most of your injuries during a quiet moment while congratulating you on your baking skill.

 

Option 2A.3. Take over the singing for Wyrd Al so he can make with the sales patter [singing v 5]

Success: +1 Singing ss, advance phase 3A

Al is trying to do everything you realise, cook and serve the bologna, collect the cash, and attract custom with singing, but no-one can do everything and he’s losing custom every time someone has to wait. You figure that the singing is the easiest bit, and making up lyrics to Al’s melody sounds fun.

Al agrees to let you have a go, and after the first verse pretty much lets you do all the singing, in between serving and a little chopping anyway. All in a day’s work of course and after an hour or so you figure Al is drawing well ahead of his fuming rival.

 

Failure: +1 singing ss, -1 vitality, advance phase 3A

There is nothing quite like a song you figure, and Al has shown the way. Preferring to sing than slave over the stove you try a few lines and Al soon lets you improvise whole verses dedicated to the joy of Bologna.

Everything is going well until a hard of hearing chap from the nearby village of Averre mishears your lyrics and decides you are insulting his ‘fair Sharona’. After he gives you a vicious clip around the ear Al intervenes and sends the man on his way muttering “terribly sorry, the locals can be a little rough in this neck of the woods I fear.”

 

Option 2A.4. Wyrd Al can bring the customers close, but someone need to close the deal, make with the sales patter! [Minetan swagger v 5]

 

Success: +1 Minetan swagger ss, advance phase 3A

The secret of sales, you ponder, is confidence. If you don’t sound sure of your product, no-one else will be sure of it either. With that old aphorism in your mind you breathe deeply (savouring the smell of bologna) and start the patter. “Roll up, roll up, taste the finest bologna in all Mineta” you bellow, “bologna on toast for just 10 pims” seeing people look you address them “you sir! You look like a man with a full day of labours ahead of him, start your day on a fuller stomach, buy our best bologna!” Once you get started the spiel gets easier and before long you are selling Bologna as fast as Al can cook it.

 

Failure: -1 vitality, advance phase 3A

“Let me know what you think you can help with most” says Al “cooking, selling, the patter to draw in the marks – er – customers.” The choice isn’t hard you think, cooking is greasy smelly work and you don’t want to ruin your nice clean robes, while if you handle the money any mistake could cost money – possibly yours if Al gets upset, that leaves the patter.

 

You spy the first potential customer, a rotund merchant heading your way and jump in front of him to attract his attention, “you sir! Can I interest you in a fine bologna toastie? Just 10 pims sir!” The merchant recoils “bologna? Why-ever would you think I should be interested in Bologna?” You knew your response was wrong even as you said it but just couldn’t stop yourself in time “um, because someone as fat as you always wants food?”

 

A few second later with no sale and ears ringing from a severe cuffing you blink back tears and try with the next customer, a tall thin woman walking briskly to the Admiratio. “Milady! Milady! Can I interest you in a fine Bologna toastie?” The woman sneers “be gone urchin! What interest have I in your snacks?” The voice in your head that should tell you to stop fails again – you wonder if you have been cursed – as you can’t stop yourself saying “well, you look like you need feeding-up Milady”. A second ear-drubbing latter leads Al to suggest that you take over the cooking while he tries the sales patter.

 

“Don’t worry” says Al sympathetically, “I have a plan for getting ahead of Dominic.”

 

 

 

 

Phase 3A. Asked to guard the cart while he ‘plans some fun for his rival’

 

 

“Dominic is doing better than I thought but still looks like he is losing” says Wyrd Al, “but despite being behind he is getting far too smug for my comfort. I’m going to see if I can find out if he has something nasty planned, and perhaps arrange some fun of my own.”

 

Sneaking off to cast some astrology spells sounds smart, but Al has barely snuck out of site when some ruffians come in to sight and lumber towards Al’s cart with disturbingly intense if oddly dead-looking eyes. As they draw closer you see them raise cudgels menacingly, oh dear, this doesn’t look good!

 

Option 3A.1. Call a guard! [seeking friends in hidden places v 5]

Success: -1 vitality, +1 seeking friends in hidden places, advance phase 4A.

Thugs on a major street heading towards the Admiratio? In broad daylight? There must be guards nearby to deal with them! You think, sure enough a hasty look around shows a guard a few hundred yards away. An incantation or glamour spell should attract their attention you think, time to make with the magic and get some help!

 

Quickly weaving the phemes to your palette you set off a small rocket to attract attention, and when the guard looks over to see what the noise is holler “help!” You take a few bruises from the ruffians before the guard comes over the break up the disturbance and the cart is somewhat battered but at least you stopped it being completely smashed.

 

Failure: -2 vitality, +1 Chirurgery ss, advance phase 4A.

There are too many of the ruffians to fight you think, particularly as you are only a child. Better to call for a guard – there should be some around this close to the market.

 

“Help!” you shout, “I need help!” Unfortunately all that your cries seems to do is encourage the few passers-by to walk away quickly and give the ruffians time to get up to you and start lashing out with their clubs. Panting for breath as you desperately try to dodge the cudgels your cries for help become more of a shriek, but fortunately a guard hears you screaming for help before the ruffians finish pummelling you unconscious. On the plus side you pick up some tips on how to set bones and close wounds from watching the guard patch you up until Al returns and negates most of your wounds.

 

Option 3A.2. Those ruffians shouldn’t have tried to match clubs against a wand! Blast them! [incantation spells v 5]

Success: +1 Incantation methods ss, -1 vitality, advance phase 4A.

Magic isn’t rare in Mineta, but most people don’t know a lot about it so even a trainee wizards can be quite effective you think, to your surprise the first few spells you blast as warning shots don’t seem to have any effect – the ruffians don’t even flinch. Switching to bolts of lightning to stun them is more effective but you are surprised that how the ruffians don’t seem to feel any pain or fear and although you finally manage to stun the last one you take several bruises. Odd, you think looking at the ruffians, now they are down they look like regular folks, I wonder why they attacked the cart? Looking across the road you see that the ruffians didn’t bother Dominic at all, in fact he seems very smug about the beating you and Al’s cart took.

 

Failure: -2 Vitality, +1 Caution ss, advance phase 4A [Can a wand break? If so swap the breakage for one or both Vitality losses]

OK, you think, a gang of ruffians with clubs and whatnot, and me with a wand, how hard can this be? Pride it turns out goes before a fall as it soon turns out that a few weeks at the Academagia has not, in the event, turned you into a wand wielding spell throwing engine of destruction.

 

The ruffians beat you quite badly and you have to hope that the crunching breaking sounds are the cart and not your bones, just as you are losing consciousness you hear Al shouting and the ruffians are abruptly sent flying, Al negates the worst of your wounds but you will obviously have to be more careful next time.

 

Option 3A.3. Grab a weapon and fight them off! [schoolyard survival v 5]

Success: -1 vitality, +1 courage ss, +1 schoolyard survival ss, advance phase 4A.

There are quite a few of the ruffians, but they seem to have something wrong with them, they are more shambling than walking and from the way they trip and bump into people don’t seem to pay much attention to things around them. I can handle them you think, grabbing a pole from the cart you lunge at the first ruffian tripping him over, the second goes down to a wild swing to the head. After that it gets a bit harder as the ruffians just keep getting up even when anyone normal would have run or collapsed and you are quite battered by the time the guards turn up to deal with the ruffians, but you feel a glow of pride at how you managed to hold them back.

 

Failure: -2 vitality, +2 stress, +1 caution ss, advance phase 4A

The ruffians look fairly odd, scrawny street-folk but oddly vacant, they are probably drunk you think, somewhat disgusted at their state given the early hour. A few blows and they will back down. It was a thought, not as it turns out a good thought, but a thought nonetheless. The ruffians turn out to be amazingly single-minded and intent on smashing Al’s cart, the only time they bash you is when you try to top them, which is the only reason you probably don’t get killed by them.

 

Even so by the time Al gets back to drive off the ruffians you are badly beaten and the cart is quite battered. Luckily Al turns out to be fairly good at negating wounds but you suspect you will ache all over tomorrow.

 

Option 3A.4 You didn’t sign up for a fight, time to run!

Automatic: +1 Caution ss, End adventure.

You would be happy to help Al, but not at the price of possibly being killed, so you run as fast as you can. A few days later you get a note from Al apologising that ‘Dominic’s thugs’ tried to beat you up and telling you not to worry about him losing his contest – first years are better off staying well clear of fights between older students.

 

 

 

Phase 4A. Help Al to get back in the marketplace!

 

 

Al surveys the damage to his cart with a sad look on his face. “She needs some work” he says “and I need to replace all my stock, those ruffians sent it all over the street.” He laughs “at least my little plan should slow him down, so if you can help me to get the cart ready I should still be able to win, I’m sorry to take up your time but I’ll make it up to you I promise.”

 

Option 4A.1. Fix the cart [Carpentry v 5]

Success: +1 Carpentry ss, choose again

The cart is fairly battered but with a little care it can be reinforced so it lasts long enough for Al to win his contest with Dominic. Al revises you a hammer, some nails and other tools you request and you set to work shoring up the sides and generally making the cart serviceable. After a few minutes you sit back and test the cart for sturdiness, not bad work if you do say so yourself!

 

Failure: -1 Carpentry ss, advance phase 5A.

The cart is quite battered and you try to reinforce the sides with some spare wood and makeshift tools. It turns out to be quite hard though, you have no idea where Al got the wood for the cart but its grain is like nothing you’ve ever seen before and you wind up running out of nails before you finish as you waste so many trying to hammer them into the odd wood. Al is sympathetic when he comes over from his baking and says “not to worry, I can revise the rest of the necessary repairs now you’ve fixed the worst of it.”

 

Option 4A.2. Make more bologna buns! [baking v 5]

Success: +1 Baking ss, choose again

Al was selling bologna on toast, but you figure that buns are no harder to make and will make it easier for people to load on onions and spices. Making the buns is fairly easy as Al is friends with a nearby pub owner who lets you use his kitchen, they come out quite nicely if you do say so yourself!

 

Failure: -1 Baking ss, advance phase 5A.

Bologna needs a good piece of toast – or a bun you think and the ruffians trampled all of Al’s bread. You manage to talk a pub owner into letting you use his kitchen and you quickly make some buns, you just hope that the customers don’t mind that they are a little overly crusty as the oven turns out to have been hotter than you’d expected. “Not to worry” says Al, “I can revise off the black bits so they will do fine, thanks for all your help.”

 

Option 4A.3. Prepare the spices and other toppings. [Roots v 5]

Success: +1 roots ss, choose again

The secret of good bologna, you think, is the spices, you need some black pepper, nutmeg, allspice, celery seed and coriander, but most of all myrtle berry. Getting the right mix is a little difficult but with some help from the cook at a pub that Al is known at you manage it and blend up the spices quite quickly.

 

Failure: -1 roots ss, advance phase 5A.

Bologna is all about the spices you think, and fortunately you know enough cooking to know that what you need is pickling spices and, most importantly, myrtle berry. Unfortunately although you can chop and grind with the best of them, getting the mix precisely right is a lot harder. Luckily Al is friends with the owner of a nearby pub and his cook is able to give you some help preparing the right proportions of spices to the sausage meat but you’ve spent so long that there is no time to help Al on other jobs that need doing to get the cart ready. “Not to worry” says Al, “I can handle it from here, thanks for all your help.”

 

Option 4A.4. Cook up some more Bologna [Recipe’s v 5]

Success: +1 recipe’s ss, choose again.

There is no point having a bologna cart without having bologna you think, Al talks a pub-owner into letting you use their kitchen and you quickly mix and grind up some bologna. It really should be aged you think, but with a few extra spices it should be fine.

 

Failure: -1 recipe’s ss, advance phase 5A.

Bologna is basically just a spicy sausage grounds very finely so the different bits aren’t obvious you think, it should be easy enough. Making and cooking the bologna goes reasonably well, but you suspect that Al will be cleaning up his friend’s kitchen for hours given the mess you managed to make while doing the cooking. He seems happy enough though saying “speed is of the essence my young friend, don’t worry about the mess, that’s a problem for later, right now Bologna it what we need!”

 

Option 4A.5. [Revealed if at least 1 success] Ask Al if he needs you to do anything else.

Automatic: Advance to phase 5A.

“No” says Al, “that’s really good work and I will have the rest done soon, I don’t want to take up much more of your time as you have been so helpful already – and I’m not letting you go out near Dominic again in case his goons beat you up again. He’ll pay for that in time, don’t you worry.”

 

Option 4A.6. [Revealed if 4 successes] Tell Al the cart is ready

Automatic: +1 Fame, advance to phase 5A.

Wow” says Al, “you are awesome, that’s really great work, you may hear from me and my friends again, they will certainly hear about you from me!”

 

 

 

Phase 5A. Al’s reward

 

 

“OK” says Al, “You’ve been really helpful, and I feel guilty about all those bruises, so it is only fair I do you a favour. To know what sort of reward would be most appropriate though, I need to ask you a question – what do you most hope for from your time at the Academagia?”

 

Option 1: To learn about revision magic.

Automatic: +1 theory of revision ss, +1 revision methods ss, +1 Intelligence, end adventure.

“Revision is an awesome pillar” says Al, “and it’s really valued in the world. A good reviser never lacks for good work, great choice” he then gives you some tips on revision magic that you know will stand you in good stead in the future.

 

Option 2: To learn how to stand up for myself in the world.

Automatic: +1 strength, +1 endurance ss, gain location [the covered wells], end adventure.

“Being able to look after yourself – and others – is really important” says Al, “I’ll teach you a few exercises that will toughen you up, come and have a walk around near my place if you ever want to put your skills into practice, it’s a rough neighbourhood and you are bound to get a chance to practice your skills, don’t worry about being reported whatever you do there, nobody in the neighbourhood ever saw anything about anything, no matter how much the guards ask!”

 

Option 3: To have fun and getting into trouble!

Automatic: +1 Luck, +1 playfulness ss, +1 creativity ss, +1 satyric revelry ss, end adventure

Al laughs, “for all that people talk about study having fun is probably at least as important.” He chuckles, “and don’t worry, the Academagia will give you plenty of chances for both – just make sure that you don’t take risks that are too big, you could have been badly hurt by those ruffians! Dominic and his cohorts play some really nasty games and their victims don’t always get better afterwards – ever so you need to steer well clear of the likes of them for a few years.”

 

Option 4: To really get to know my familiar well.

Automatic: +1 to bond of iron, +1 bond of silver, +1 bond of stars, Familiar gains +1 to 3 random stats and +1 ss to 3 of (observation, perception, danger sense, jump, patrol, hide, playfulness.)

Al nods, your familiar is your best friend, and you will come to understand far more than that, all great mages spent time bonding with their familiar. Let me give you a few tips and have a few words with your familiar and you will soon see a real improvement.

 

Option 5: To learn about magic and magical monsters so you can protect people from them

Automatic: advance to phase 6A

 

 

 

Phase 6A: Al’s question.

 

 

Al pauses, for the first time looking very serious, before you can really be sure though his joking façade is back, “so”, he says, with a studiously nonchalant tone, “you want to learn about magic and creations so that you can protect people from them, what is the important thing to remember about that sort of knowledge?”

 

Option 1. To make sure that you are a socially responsible user of magic, people need to know that the mistakes of past centuries are in the past and they are safe.

Automatic: +1 Insight, +1 to 3 of [theory of incantation, theory of glamour, theory of negation, theory of astrology, theory of revision, theory of enchantment] end adventure.

“Of course” says Al, “fortunately the old knowledge of the banned pillars is long gone, let me give you a few tips on the basics of the righteous pillars as proper thanks…” But you see that he is disappointed in your response somehow and you wonder what answer he had hoped for.

 

Option 2. To cast your spells effectively so that your enemies are destroyed quickly and completely.

Automatic: +1 Fitness, +1 diction ss, +1 Manner of a champion ss, +1 strategy ss, end adventure.

Heh” laughs Al a little nervously, “that’s a bit more brutally pragmatic a response than I’d expected”, he looks disappointed somehow but continues “there’s a lot to learn on that front, so let me give you a few tips.”

 

Option 3. To make sure you cast your spells safely so you don’t cause more trouble than you are trying to stop!

Automatic: +1 Finesse, +1 duelling circles ss, +1 duel conduct ss, +1 duelling forms ss, end adventure.

Al nods, smiling, though he looks a little disappointed, “of course, there is no point being a bigger problem than whatever you are trying to solve.” He leans forward and grins, “there are plenty of ways to minimise the risk of your magic going wrong, let me give you a few tips about how to duel properly so you can handle rogue mages you meet in the future more safely.”

 

Option 4. That the important thing isn’t the method, it is the outcome. You should seek to protect the people, the world, and if possible any beast causing trouble, by whatever means are most effective in minimising the harm.

Automatic: Unlock: The House in the bog adventure, +1 perception ss.

For just a moment Al looks like he is going to give you a hug, but he quickly hides his feelings. “yes” he says “the most important thing is the outcome, though it is worth remembering that some means are dangerous so should be used with caution.” He looks serious for a moment, “I’m going to write you a letter, it is an introduction to someone I respect greatly who can teach you a lot if they consider you worthy so remember what is important when talking to them. They live in a small house in the bog nearby, I’ve drawn a map on the letter, it’s a bit cryptic but you’ll figure it out. Walk with respect around them though, they are not to be trifled with and have no time for those ambitious or self-centred.

 

Al gives you a few tips on how to figure out what people want in life but obviously thinks that his real payment is the introduction, you wonder who this person in the house in the bog can be that an introduction to her is of such value.

 

 

 

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And the second adventure path where your PC gets to help Al's rival Dominic. This path is only open to PCs with the right background, as I wrote it in a very snooty manner.

 

As noted above options 1.3 and 1.4 in the first phase, this path is only available to the sort of people with 50 pims to spend on a snack and a family background to consider doing so: History: Descended from Heroes, History: Descended from Royalty, Station: Nobility, Station: Wealthy, Station: Well-to-do

 

Phase 2B. Help Dominic to sell his crusty baps

 

 

“I am Dominic, of house Aranaz” says the aristocratic youth behind the Mortadella stall, “I am of course no mere purveyor of foodstuffs, this is a duty required of me by my – ah – patron. The peasant peddling Bologna over yonder is Wyrd Al, he and I are rivals, not merely personally though it would be inevitable that so foolish and prideful a boy would resist the consequences of his true station in life, but we both have certain interests which hold competing worldviews and the – ah – clubs to which we belong are thus rivals as well. He and I clashed recently in a slightly more public manner than pleased the patrons of our clubs, and were required to undertake a – less direct contest to see which of us is the better, as a gesture of his contempt the peasant chose the selling of sausages and thus here we are.”

 

“Wyrd Al is quite the nasty piece of work around his betters, and seems to have been annoyed by you. So I suggest you aid me for a while – not only shall I reward you but it would be most improper for him to then take any action against you.”

 

“So” he says “how can you help me?”

 

Option 2B.1. No thanks, fight your bologna battle on your own.

Automatic: +1 Patience ss, -1 stress, end adventure.

Dominic shrugs his shoulders, “so be it, enjoy your Mortadella bun and the rest of your day, good bye.” And with that you go on your way, enjoying the rest of your tasty snack.”

 

Option 2B.1. Make up Dominic’s hair so he really stands out as a step above that scruff Al! [Court Hairstyles v 5]

Success: +1 Court Hairstyles ss, advance phase 3B.

At 50 pims a bun only persons of consequence are likely to buy from Dominic you think, and such people will buy only from someone properly attired and presented. Such a shame that the important things in life are so often overlooked, for all Dominic’s care in selecting his wardrobe, his hair is a standard student boys straight back and sides cut, utterly unworthy of him. You can’t do a lot with such short straight hair but with a little effort and some magic you manage to make his hair properly presentable, now he has a proper hairstyle his sales should increase significantly now he looks so good you think contentedly. Dominic himself seems very proud of his new hairdo and you hope such a naturally superior lad will take proper care of his hair from now on.

 

Failure: +1 Court Hairstyles ss, +2 stress, advance phase 3B.

Dominic is a naturally good looking lad who, from his manner is clearly from a family of a station well above the common rabble you think, but his haircut is hopelessly lower middle class. “Dominic, you need to look the part to sell and your hair is all wrong” you say, “let me have a few moments to do something about it and hopefully I can make it a little less common.”

Turning Dominic’s hair into something presentable is a real challenge, as like far too many boys he has short hair, but despite the wind and general street conditions you finally manage to wrestle his hair into something presentable though the effort leaves you exhausted.

 

Option 2B.2. You Sir! Come here! That foul pap over there will content the peasants but you are made for finer fare! [Command v 5]

Success: +1 Command ss, advance to phase 3B.

You know how proper people think, and how to address them to get them to buy a tasty Mortadella crusty bap. The better class of tradesmen are also potential customers but their naturally subservient nature to their betters requires a more commanding approach.

 

Directing the appropriate call to passers-by, and completely ignoring the peasants (of course), you quickly direct a number of paying customers to Dominic and he is rapidly busy in making sales. Success!

 

Failure: -1 Command ss, +1 Insult ss, +1 stress, advance phase 3B.

You call out to passers-by to attract them to Dominic’s call, ignoring the bizarre singing of ‘the Bologna boy’ as you mentally term Al, and have a fair degree of success. Until that is you call out a perfectly reasonable (for a superior talking to a clear social inferior) request to a merchant who turns out to be irredeemably common, and clearly of far lower class than his attire indicates. His blunt retort and following insults (gaily echoed by the Bologna boy) leave you quite shaken, fortunately Dominic lets you swap with him so your interaction with peasants is curtailed.

 

Observation 2B.3. I say, that fellow over there looks famished, direct your sale pitch to him Dominic! [Perception: v 5]

Success: +1 Perception ss, advance phase 3B

Looking down the street you size up the right people to approach to get them to buy Dominic’s Mortadella crusty buns. At first you approach several people without success, but before long you know the sort of people to look out for, wealthy folks (of course), not hurrying too fast, and preferably who respond to the enticing smell from one cart of the other indicating that they are hungry.

 

Failure: -1 Perception ss, advance phase 3B

There is no point bellowing out across the street you think, and there are too many to ask them all individually. Looking at your potential customers you try to pick out those who look most interested in Dominic’s Mortadella crusty buns. Sadly time and time again the people you ask are either in a rush, can’t afford 50 pims for a snack, or get swayed by Wyrd Al’s blandishments.

Dominic seems annoyed about his poor sales compared to Wyrd Al, but fortunately he blames Al and not you, “don’t worry” he says, I have a plan to undermine the guttersnipe’s success.”

 

Option 2B.4. Careful sir, I saw mice scurrying around yonder cart – buy our fine crusty baps and be the only one to have eaten them! [Lie v 5]

Success: +1 Lie ss, advance phase 3B

Wyrd Al looks like he bashed his cart together yesterday with a mix of bodged carpentry and revision magic. He is scruffily dressed and the street around his cart is littered with scraps of food that has fallen from his cart or been dropped by customers. In short he is exactly the sort of person to accuse of uncleanliness.

 

So when you see some potential customers eyeing Al’s rickety cart you archly note his poor hygiene and the preponderance of vermin that may be attracted by the mess around his cart, quite often the result is that they buy from Dominic’s immaculate cart instead.

 

Failure: -1 Lie ss, +1 stress, advance phase 3B

The issue, you consider, is not how to get them to look at Dominic’s pristine cart piled with excellent high class fare, it is how to get people to turn away from the cheap alternative. In your view the answer is simple, lie – err – make that aggressive marketing. Wyrd Al might be an entertaining chap with a funny song, but his cart is a slapped-together wreck and frankly is a mess, if his offering wasn’t so simple he would never sort it out.

 

So when people start looking at Al’s cart you try to spread rumours that mice have been seen around it, flies are on the bologna, the ingredients are inferior (perhaps less a rumour than a statement of the obvious) and so on, which all goes fairly well until a fat merchant gives you a vicious clip around the ear saying “pah! I’m back for my second toastie and there’s nothing wrong with them, its snobs like you who ruin small businessmen like me and I’ll have none of your lies!” After his loud denunciation Al pays you plenty of attention and you don’t dare be so obvious again, which is a pity as it seems like Al’s pile-them-high-sell-them-cheap approach to snacks is working better than Dominic’s effort to maintain standards in cuisine.

 

 

 

Phase 3B. Guarding the cart

 

 

Dominic frowns “the guttersnipe is outselling me with his cheap bologna, even the bourgeois are buying from him instead of me. He must have glamoured his bologna, even the peasants should have more taste.” After muttering a few more insults directed towards his rival Dominc smiles “well, enough of playing nice, I will be away for a short while to arrange a good thrashing for the guttersnipe, guard my cart in case he has similar ideas.”

 

Sure enough not long after Dominic has left you see a gang of street urchins approaching the cart with oddly intent looks on their face, they aren’t just after stealing food you realise as they ignore Al’s cart completely, they are targeting Dominic’s stall. They abruptly charge at Dominic’s cart screeching like cats and even yapping like dogs, it’s time to do something – but what?

 

Option 3B.1. Call over some Militia men to stop the urchins! [Leadership v 5]

Success: +1 Leadership ss, -1 vitality, advance phase 4B

A quick glance tells you that half a dozen street urchins are too many to handle, even for a mage, so the obvious thing to do is call for a guardsman.

 

Your first call doesn’t seem to do very much, but a little magic to make your voice louder works wonders and shortly after the urchins start attacking you and the cart you here militia whistles and two stout militia men appear and drive off the urchins, success! A pity that the cart got a little battered and even more so that you took several blows from some of the brats, but at least you stopped them destroying the cart completely.

 

Failure: -1 Leadership ss, -2 vitality, advance phase 4B

Gods! Stampeding hordes of urchin brats! It is like being at the cafeteria but without a professor to protect you if the savages turn cannibal. Whipping out your wand and blasting them with lightning is a surefire way to detention, however justified so you call for the guards.

 

Typical of the lazy Minetan guards however, there are none around when they are needed. A pity you think as the urchins jump on you pummelling and even biting (the poor are cannibals when proper authorities are absent it seems after all). You do your best to fend off the urchins with your wand but end up quite badly beaten before Dominic returns to blast the urchins with spells and send them fleeing whimpering in terror.

 

Option 3B.2. Hah! Give the rabble a taste of fire! [incantation spells v 5]

Success: Incantation spells +1 ss, -1 vitality, advance phase 4B

The urchins charge towards you hissing and even yapping, clearly unable to muster a coherent word between the six of them. Terrified that they may stab you with a knife or otherwise do something brutal and common you whip out your wand and blast them with lightning and fire, not nice, and certainly something your professors would have harsh words about if they found out, but in the circumstances you consider perfectly justified.

 

Fortunately all goes well and although you take a few blows and the cart gets pushed over and kicked somewhat you send the urchins running screeching in fear. Fortunately you have enough knowledge of revision to eliminate the more obvious evidence and by the time anyone asks what on earth the commotion was you can plausibly claim that the noise was just a few glamour charms to attract custom and scare away some crows.

 

Failure: Reprimanded by Professor Storey, -1 vitality, advance phase 4B

The urchins charge at you with bared teeth and hands raised like claws, screeching like a pack of monkeys they jump on to you and the cart and start biting and scratching at you like animals. Well, if they wish to act like rats then they will be treated like rats you think, time for some lightning! With that thought you quickly scribe the phemes to your palette and blast the first urchin with lightning, one after another you hurl bolts as quickly as you can but there are too many of the urchins and once they grab you it is hard to aim and your spells go astray allowing the urchins to beat you quite badly.

 

The urchins are abruptly pulled off you and you see a furious looking Militia patrol. Unfortunately though they drive off the urchins they seem very angry with you, berating you for using dangerous magic in such a reckless manner and saying they will complain to the Academagia about your reckless use of dangerous magic. Dominic manages to calm them somewhat so that they agree not to march you directly to the gates with them but you suspect that you will not have a pleasant welcome back at the Academagia.

 

Option 3.B3. Urchin rabble, the brats are as cowardly and superstitious as they are stupid, drive terror into their hearts with glamour and see them run! [Glamour spells v 5]

Success: +1 Glamour spells ss, -1 vitality, advance phase 4B.

The urchins charge at you screeching like monkeys and you respond with a panicked glamour designed to drive terror into their hearts, the first more complicated emotions seem to wash over them without any effect, but as you focus on the simplest types of fear the urchins stagger, you take a few bumps and bruises as they knock you over while fleeing but you and the cart survive with only a minimal amount of harm.

 

Failure: +1 endurance ss, -2 vitality, advance phase 4B

For a moment you hope that the urchins will pass by, but no, they abruptly all charge at you screeching and yammering like animals. You try to cast a glamour spell to scare them off but it is hard to draw a proper pheme when someone is punching you and someone else is biting your head. Eventually you manage to cast a shaky glamour and with the moments pause it gives you cast a series of proper glamours, success you think, but you suspect you will be covered in bites and bruises tomorrow.

 

Option 3B.4. Impel the urchins to go elsewhere. [Mastery spells v 3, reveal only if aware of Mastery Spells]

Success: +1 Mastery Spells ss, advance phase 4B

Dominic smiles thinly, “well done, quite a - persuasive – manner you have to you, we must discuss your studies in more details when we can find a private moment.” You notice that Wyrd Al is clearly suspicious of your spellcraft however as the bologna seller stares at you for ages as if burning your face into his memory.

 

Failure: -1 Mastery spells ss, advance phase 4B

Some people fail to recognise a good tool when it is right in front of them, you think, and at times like this mastery is the obvious sort of magic to use. You draw your phemes quickly if furtively, but the first casting doesn’t catch all of the urchins and several of them start attacking you and the cart, odd-looking brats you think as you urgently start casting a second spell they hiss and shriek rather than talking and look oddly animalistic, their looks distract you and you wind up casting the second spell much more openly than is wise.

 

Oddly despite your rushed spell-crafting and your worry that you had been too obvious in your panic nobody seems to have noticed anything, you notice Dominic has returned and is casting furiously, with his spells cast the last few suspicious looks vanish from onlookers faces to be replaced with lethargy ad the onlookers trudge on their way. Dominic smiles thinly at you and you realise from the phemes he was drawing he has been casting spells to conceal your mistake, although you don’t recognise many of the phemes he was using.

 

 

 

Phase 4B. Fix the cart and get new stock ready!

 

 

Dominic rights the cart and looks at the damage the urchins did. “Well, it looks like you stopped them totally destroying it, but they have done quite a bit of damage” he rubs his chin surveying the damage before seeing your hurt look “and pummelled you somewhat as well of course, bruises you can bear with pride I dare say.”

 

“Now”, he says, “I have hired some space in a nearby delicatessen, why don’t you see what you can do to get the stall ready for sales and I will do the rest.

 

Option 4B.1. Arrange for the cart to be fixed [Leadership v 5]

Success: +1 Leadership ss, choose again.

There are plenty of carpenters, painters and the like in the city, and Dominic looks happy to pay whatever pittance they need to fix the cart, the only thing he really needs you to do is arrange for them to do the work.

 

That turns out to be quite straight forward, the delicatessen owner knows plenty of craftsmen and in short order you have a small team at work on the cart to fix its every scratch and loose part. Dominic pays them off with a gleam in eye complimenting you on how swiftly and skilfully they worked under your supervision.

 

Failure: +1 Leadership ss, +2 stress, advance phase 5B

There is no point trying to fix the cart yourself, you think surveying the damage, you will take twice as long as a craftsman to do the job half as well, besides this sort of work is what staff are for.

 

Organising for a carpenter, a painter and so on to come and fix the cart winds up being very stressful (servants can never understand a simple direction and constantly need oversight you have come to understand) but you manage it eventually, Dominic is at least very pleased by your effort.

 

Option 4B.2 Create an extra tasty mix of herbs and spices so the Mortadella is truly magnificent [Creativity v 5]

Success: +1 Creativity ss, gain ability: Afternoon tea at Leonardo’s delicatessen, choose again

Every Mortadella has common ingredients, myrtle berry, coriander and so on, but the key to the best taste is in the aging of the herbs, the proportions used and the method of preparation. You have a good chat with the delicatessen cook to seek their views and with their help you prepare a mix that results, when tested, in a mix that the cook says will be the new house recipe!

 

Location ability: Afternoon tea at Leonardo’s delicatessen. -20 pims, +1 conversation ss, +1 dating ss, +1 innuendo ss, +1 bluff ss. Leonardo’s delicatessen hosts some of the cream of Minetan society and for a few pims a quiet student can listen in to quality gossip for hours.

 

Failure: -1 Creativity ss, +1 stress, advance phase 5B

You stare absently at the herbs and spices that the delicatessen cook puts on the table in front of you (with an audible sniff of dislike for the fact someone has dared to enter her kitchen and seek to do their own cooking). After several tries at mixing the right mix of herbs the cooks continual depreciatory mutterings take their toll and you let the cook do the work and give the resulting Mortadella to Dominic mortified at your abject incompetence.

 

Option 4B.3. Arrange for a cook to make the Mortadella in the delicatessen [Recipe v 5]

Success: +1 recipe ss, choose again.

The delicatessen is well stocked and clearly a fine establishment, the owner is very obsequious to Dominic so when you raise the need for more stock is only too happy to order his cook to help you. With the cook’s help you quickly make plenty of new Mortadella and it isn’t long before you are asking Dominic what else he would like help with.

 

Failure: +1 Recipe ss, +2 stress, advance phase 5B

Good staff are, you are coming to realise, well worth a little coddling, for the cook at the delicatessen is decidedly unhappy at being told to help you make Mortadella by the owner (who is highly deferential to Dominic you note) and takes every opportunity when your attention is diverted to slack off. You eventually get the lazy cook to finish the Mortadella but feel quite exhausted by the effort.

 

Option 4B.4. Buy some more Mortadella (100 pims) [option closed if 4B.2 or 4B.3 completed]

Automatic: advance phase 5B.

There seems no point to getting your hands grubby when you are already in a delicatessen, the shop-keeper is only too happy to sell you a number of Mortadella sausages for Al’s cart so with the task in hand complete you ask Dominic for your reward.

 

Option 4B.5. [only if successfully completed at least 1 of 4B.1 -3] Ask Dominic if you have done enough.

Automatic: advance phase 5B.

Dominic nods and says, “yes, very well done.”

 

Option 4B.6. [only if successfully completed all 3 of 4B.1 -3] Tell Dominic that the stall is ready.

Automatic: +1 Fame,

Dominic smiles widely and says, “magnificent work, I shall be sure to tell my peers about how skilled you are.”

 

 

 

Phase 5B. A just reward!

 

 

Dominc looks at the completed cart clearly happy, “this should be more than adequate to trounce the peasant” he declares, “so, I always pay my debts, for good or ill, so tell me, what to you is the purpose of studying at the Academagia, or indeed studying at all?”

 

Option 1. Learning the skills I need to serve society of course

Automatic: +1 Charm, +1, gain Mark of the Prey (+1 Flirting ss, +1 Character study ss, +1 flattery, vulnerable to Mastery magic)

Dominic smiles oddly – more of a smirk really – and says “of course dear, how very sweet and noble of you, what higher calling is there than to desire to serve?” He chuckles to himself and says “there is certainly much to learn in order to serve best, I will give you a few tips to help you on your way.”

 

Option 2. Learning history – unless you know where we have come from, we cannot see where society may go

Automatic: +1 Insight, +1 to 3 random history subskills.

Dominic smiles thinly and says, “of course, without knowledge no decision can be properly made, though history will tell you nothing of which of your desires should be sated and which should be set aside as mere conventions imposed on you be your lessors. I shall give you a few hints on where to focus your studies into history.” He is clearly quite skilled in the area and after a short discussion you are much more aware of how much you have to learn regarding human history.

 

Option 3. Learning the skills I need to become wealthy and famous

Automatic: +1 Charm, +1 Dispassion ss, +1 Patience ss, +1 Puzzles ss, end adventure.

“Money and fame, how…transient and superficial a desire” mutters Dominic. “But there is certainly much to learn that may assist you, the most important of which skills are doubtless the ability to view things objectively without your passions blinding you to reality, the patience to strike at the right time and the ability to figure out the crux of any conundrum, I will teach you a few things to consider in each regard…”

 

Option 4. I study to gain knowledge that grants me power over my inferiors

Automatic: Gain +1 Strength, Mortadella of Damnation.

Dominic smiles widely, “careful my sweet, while undoubtedly correct you must be more circumspect in your speech, the truth is not popular amongst our lessors. I thought I recognised your spirit properly and baked you a particularly beneficial Mortadella, eat it late at night - soon - and we shall dream together you and I.”

Mortadella of Damnation: When eaten (as an action) +1 Theory of mastery ss, +1 Concentration ss, +1 Manipulation ss, +1 Lie ss, +1 Enspell ss. Lasts only 1 week.

 

 

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And hopefully also in time, a short adventure for the preliminary potions club.

 

Stage 1: Preliminary potions

 

 

The notice-board is covered with the usual requests “has anyone seen my familiar?”, “looking for 3 oz of finely grated soapstone”, “rimbal practice for the Gyphons after dinner”, “Aarlen Ona playing at Alice’s for the next 3 nights only” and the like, but it also has some newer notices which look interesting. One is on professor’s notepaper and thus worth an immediate read – you never know what a professor might be wanting or offering and it’s always worth finding out if only to be very definitely busy somewhere else next time that you see them.

 

The note is from Professor Leith for a change, and reads:

To all first year students. A preliminary potions club will be run this evening for those first year students wishing to learn a little about practical potion-making in advance of formal classes commencing in year two.

 

After you arrive at the potions classroom at the allotted time you find Cante Caviti already engrossed in reading one of the notebooks set out on the desk – that’s hardly surprising as he seems to drink as many potions as he does of the canteen’s milkshakes, although given the quality of the milk shakes (and the rumours of just what beast may have produced the milk) perhaps he isn’t so odd in that regard after-all.

 

Asmita Tidar and Emilia Picotti follow you into the classroom talking animatedly about some herb from the gardens, then Zoe Melis and Vuilaume Eparvier discussing something complicated involving ‘pocket cauldrons’, and Iustus Venture and Vincent Eins, the later explaining loudly that the sleepy Iustus will never learn to brew properly before Vincent manages it.

 

Professor Leith waits hopefully for a few moments before closing the door and starting to speak. “Just the eight of you? I had hoped for more.” For a moment Professor Leith looks quite crestfallen, “not to worry, it just means I can spend a little more time with each of you.”

 

“As you have probably noticed from your class timetables a separate potions class was not available for first year students this year.” Professor Leith pauses for a moment as though pained before continuing. “Potions will be taught - in passing - in a number of classes, but such an ad hoc approach to tuition will make proper study next year quite difficult for the serious students.”

 

“The Legate has kindly allowed me to provide a class for first year students interested in potions, albeit on a voluntary after-hours basis. My aim is to start by setting out the basics, and building up from there in future club evenings.”

 

“Now, how about we start with you trying one of the basic exercises I’ve set out in the notebook on your desks and see how it goes?”

 

1.1. Look over the tools that Professor Leith has provided for you. [Alchemical tools v 3]

Automatic: +1 Alchemical tools ss, advance phase 2.

There are a lot tools around the room, but most of them are either locked in cabinets or otherwise marked as restricted for older students. The table-top cauldrons are neatly set out along one wall. With stands and coals set out for heating them so that the potion mixes can be heated. Pedestals, mortars, graters, mashers and juicers of various kinds are set out by the supply cupboard. The glass retorts and piping look complicated so you try out mashing up some raga root and then boiling the juice until the juice takes on a clear purple colour.

 

Professor Leith compliments you on following the guidance in the notebook so well and shows your fellow students your clear purple juice.

 

1.2. Try out the simple analytical tests in the notebook. [Analyse v 3]

Automatic: +1 Analyse ss, advance phase 2.

Professor Leith’s notebook is clear on how important it is to identify potion ingredients properly, use the correct measurements of ingredients, and properly review the brewing of a potion to make sure that it is heated to the correct temperature and properly mixed.

To assist a would-be brewer the potions classroom has a number of weights and measures, colour-wheels that allow the colour of a fluid to be measured, sieves of various sizes and so on. You try several of these measuring tools and after a few false starts are pleased to see that they are relatively straight forward to use. Seeing you carefully measure samples into vials and label them correctly Professor Leith smiles and congratulates you on your accuracy.

 

1.3. Have a go at the “common chemical interactions” suggestions in the notebook. [Chemistry v 3]

Automatic: +1 Chemistry ss, advance phase 2

The notebook sets out several simple chemical experiments that you can practice which are commonly used in potion-making. They sound easy enough and quite fun so you give some of them a go. Mixing some common reagents and heating the mixture until the reactions start happening produces some interesting smells and after a little fiddling with the height of the mixture bottle over the flames you manage to run-through the first three experiments recommended by the professor.

Carefully noting down your results you are pleased to see that they match the range of outcomes described in the notebook indicating that you measured the ingredients properly and maintained the correct temperature of the mix during the procedure. Professor Leith compliments you on your accuracy and calls the other students to see how carefully you set up your equipment.

 

1.4. Take a good look through the dangerous mixtures pages of Professor Leith’s notebook. [Poisons v 3]

Automatic: +1 Poisons ss, advance phase 2

Professor Leith’s notebook is careful to explain that while some potions, herbs and minerals could be tasted to check that they are the material in question, or that a potion is being brewed correctly, others are very dangerous and should never be tasted, or in some cases even smelled, due to the poisonous nature of the material.

 

Checking whether a substance that you aren’t sure of is poisonous is obviously important, and Professor Leith’s notebook sets out a number of tests for common types of poison. Professor Leith gives you a trio of small samples and after using the tests set out in the notebook you identify one of them as poisonous, seeing the Professor’s smile you realise you correctly identified the dangerous sample and your confidence in working with potentially dangerous materials lifts somewhat.

 

1.5. Just enjoy some fun time with your club-mates and potions. [social skills v 3]

Automatic: +1 Social skills ss, advance phase 2

There’s plenty of time to learn in class, and from what you’ve heard professor Leith likes students to explore and enjoy the learning process, at least, as long as they don’t blow things up and generally respect the apparatus.

 

So you take the time to get to know the others better and have some fun, at first they are hesitant to experiment, but as you show the way purifying some chemicals, extracting the juice from herbs and testing the colour is correct, and crushing some crystals down to powder ready for the experiments later, they start to experiment at producing the raw materials needed for the experiments set out in professor Leith’s notebook themselves, amused at your enthusiasm Professor Leith shows the class several neat concoctions and a few easy to master spells to help you separate mixed herbs, mix fluids well and so on, you are quite disappointed when the professor says it’s time to move on to the next step of the evening.

 

Phase 2: Working together

Professor Leith bustles around the small group of students offering tips and generally making clear that potions would have been one of the most interesting lessons in the calendar… if not for unexplained scheduling difficulties.

 

After Cante’s first potion starts to effervesce a little over-exuberantly the professor suggests that you try one of the “simple mixtures” that he recommends in his notebooks with a friend so you can watch over each other. Asmita and Emilia quickly pair off as do Zoe and Vuilame, which leaves you to pick from Cante, the keen if hopefully skilled potion maker, sleepy Iustus or the competitive Vincent.

 

2.1. Work with Cante and see if you can stop him causing any havoc. [brew v 3]

Success: +1 relationship Cante Caviti, advance phase 3.

Cante has been talking about potions since the first day of term, and his brewing endeavours have landed him in the infirmary on many occasions. So you team up with him partly out of interest in seeing what he’ll do next, and partly thinking you will need to keep him safe.

 

Sure enough after a few minutes of scanning professor Leith’s notebook Cante picks the experiment which is described as “giving you the ability to breathe fun little fireballs” and talking about making it a “bit more exciting”.

 

What the heck, as long as Cante is the one drinking it, this potion sounds like fun. You help Cante with the potion brewing, and together you quickly manage to brew the potion detailed in the book. As you expected after his initial delight Cante quickly decides that the potion would be much better if you just added some crushed fire-rose petals in place of the pepper juice and swapped a pheme or two in the boiling spell, after telling you not to be so cautious Cante brews the potion. It’s quite fortunate that you had the thick gloves and a mug of iced water out ready as almost immediately Cante starts coughing and snorting up fireballs like a miniature dragon, all the while gasping desperately for air.

 

You quickly pass Cante the mug of iced water and pat out the small fires Cante’s breath starts, it takes him a few moments but Cante gets his fiery breath under control before Professor Leith has to intervene leaving he professor to shake his head at Cante’s over-enthusiasm and give you a thank-you pat on the shoulder with the wry quip: “well done, it got a little exciting there didn’t it?”

 

Failure: -1 relationship Zoe Melis, advance phase 3.

Cante, you’d known he’d be in the potions club as soon as you saw the notice on the board, he’s always brewing potions and you’ve carried him to the infirmary a few times as a result. So whatever he is brewing is bound to be interesting, and probably a little too hard for him.

 

Sure enough Cante flicks through Professor Leith’s notebook and picks out a ‘fun little potion to let you breath fireballs’ and promptly decides to ‘give it a bit more oomph’. OK. Time to be a supportive friend by helping him, while a) avoiding the blame when it goes wrong and B) making sure that it doesn’t go wrong badly enough to hurt anyone.

 

“Sure Cante, let’s brew up some fun” you say, “just don’t get too carried away ok?” Cante just laughs and starts fiddling with potion ingredients. You gather the ingredients recommended by professor Leith’s notebook and start brewing the potion and then stand well back as Cante takes over with his ‘improvements’ to the formula.

 

As Cante’s potion starts glowing red and frothing you carefully gather some buckets of water in case of accident ready to put out any fires, but you aren’t expecting him to cough so hard and the fireballs go right across the classroom, Iustus barely dodges a fireball by ducking under a table and Vuilame only just deflects one with a visor “alert!” She cries “desist your assault fool!” Cante shakes his head coughing fireballs uncontrollably “I can’t” he gasps between fireballs, “I’m burning inside!” At that he gives one last huge cough and hits Zoe square in the chest with a fireball. Zoe shrieks as she is hit and falls over, which is rather fortunate as it makes dumping a bucket of water over her much easier. From her baleful look you can see that she blames you for this. “Hmm, try to restrain Mr Caviti next time dear child” murmurs Professor Leith “the idea of partnering is that you stop each other making mistakes, not that you egg each other on.”

 

2.2. Work with Iustus and see if you can keep him awake. [brew v 3]

Success: +1 relationship Iustus Venture, advance phase 3.

Iustus looks up from his avid reading of Professor Leith’s notebook, rubbing his eyes he says “so, um, it all looks like fun stuff, is there any experiment you’d like to try?” You take a look at what page he’s on and see that it refers to a “wide-awake potion”, yup, that sounds like something that would be useful to Iustus, he’s always falling asleep in class.

 

Iustus perks up when you offer to help him make the wide-awake potion, and you quickly start toasting the beans and grinding them up adding the herbs and spell recommended. With both of you working on the same potion it goes quite quickly and it isn’t long before you have a thick brown fluid. Gulping it down Iustus grimaces at the bitter taste, but within a few minutes he is noticeably bouncier and he carefully notes down the potion and asks Professor Leith for some of the beans.

 

Failure: -1 relationship Iustus, gain pala pansy seeds, advance phase 3.

Iustus looks like he’s reading Professor Leith’s potion book intently, so you figure he should make a good partner. “What are you thinking of making Iustus?” You say, Iustus points at a page in the book grinning widely “this one, it is a wide-awake potion, I’ve been really tired since coming to the Academagia and got lots of demerits for sleeping in class. I figure that this should be pretty handy if I can figure it out.” The potion does sound fairly useful, so you agree to help.

Professor Leith can be pretty stingy with his potion ingredients you’ve noted, always saying you should use carefully measured amounts and phrases like “less is more”, “a little is more than enough”, but you figure that if you are going to make yourself a potion you can cut down the amounts you use for Iustus and just about have enough for a small potion for you.

 

The potion brewing goes fairly well, but the end result is a fairly pale potion rather than the thick brown fluid suggested in the book. Iustus frowns “I’m not sure we did it right, but I guess there’s only one way to be sure.” With a shrug he drinks the potion and waits, and waits. Iustus sighs obviously unhappy, “I was sure we had done all the steps properly.” He starts to clean up the set-up and then spots the ingredients you ‘accidentally’ forgot to add to the pot “idiot! You forgot to add half the ground pala pansy seeds, of course it didn’t work!” You manage to look somewhat sheepish and make out that it was an accident but you suspect that he will watch you closely next time.

 

2.3. Work with Vincent and see if you can keep up with him. [brew v 3]

Success: +1 relationship Vincent Eins, +10 pims, advance phase 3.

Vincent is already busy crushing a series of shining berries to extract the juice when you walk over to his bench. Beaming he says “apparently if you filter the juice and cast a simple lumen spell as you mix in the reagent and bindweed you get a bottle that glows for ages.”

 

The experiment sounds kind of cool, and as the professor wanted you to try something simple it sounds like a better idea than something more complex. Vincent bubbles with enthusiasm and you can’t help but enjoy making the potion with him, it isn’t long before you each have a brightly glowing potion bottle and the compliments of Professor Leith who says that they will be handy for an outing he has planned for some second year students and gives you 10 pims each for the bottles. The potions won’t last long, but Vincent seems as happy with your help as if you’d brewed them to last a year!

 

Failure: -1 relationship Vincent Eins, advance phase 3.

Vincent has already chosen a potion to try brewing from Professor Leith’s notebook, a fairly simple one that results in a glowing bottle of fluid. It sounds a little pedestrian but you can see the practical value. You figure that it sounds a useful potion to know and when you offer to work with him Vincent agrees, but ever competitive then asks that whoever makes the most bottles that glow to the professor’s standards gets to keep the lot. By this time everyone else has paired off and you don’t want to work on your own, so you say “Ok”.

 

Vincent turns out to be pretty good, and you pick up a few tips but Vincent’s competitive streak gets the better of him and seeing you keeping up he heats up his cauldron a bit much in an attempt to brew more quickly. His cauldron starts boiling and glowing extremely brightly and afraid that it will explode (or worse) you blast the fire with a freeze spell.

 

Vincent of course refuses to accept that his cauldron was about to explode and accuses you of using the spell to win the contest, even when you give him the potions you’d made he seems put out, you suspect he’s just embarrassed that you were doing better than him.

 

Phase 3: a clean bottle

“Right-ho everyone” says Professor Leith, you’ve all done very well together, I’m very happy at how the evening has gone. However there is always one last element to any proper potion-work, cleaning-up. It’s less fun than making the potions in the first place, but without properly cleaning the equipment, residues can build up that will contaminate the next batch.

 

So, who wants to do which bits of the clean-up?

 

3.1. Scrub out the cauldrons and rinse them thoroughly. [Endurance v 3]

Success: +1 Endurance ss, advance phase 3.

It’s late, and you figure that figuring out the filing system for the powders and roots, or even just the labelled jars and vials, is far too complicated for this time of night. On the other hand scrubbing out the cauldrons just requires water, a scrubbing brush and lot of effort. The other students happily let you do the hard work and after half an hour’s work Professor Leith proclaims the cauldrons are spotless and congratulates you on your effort.

 

Failure: +1 Stress, +1 Endurance, advance phase 3.

It’s late, and you figure that figuring out the filing system for the powders and roots, or even just the labelled jars and vials, is far too complicated for this time of night. On the other hand scrubbing out the cauldrons just requires water, a scrubbing brush and lot of effort. The other students happily let you do the hard work. Which turns out to have been the best idea of the night, scrubbing out the cauldrons takes you hours and only your stubbornness keeps you going when Professor Leith offers to let you go and leave him to finish off. Finally the cauldrons are spotless and you head off for your room for a well-deserved rest.

 

3.2. Figure out what part of the tidy up is easiest and volunteer for it first. [schoolyard Education v 3]

Success: +1 Schoolyard Education ss, advance phase 3.

There are a lot of jobs to do, plenty for each of you. Some however are much harder – or messier – than others, and frankly figuring out that you don’t want to be the one who gets rid of the noxious concoction Vuilaume put together takes no time at all.

After a moment to think, you volunteer to help Professor Leith to move the larger boxes needed for the first class tomorrow – it looks like a big heavy job but it turns out to be a lot easier than you expect, the Professor takes much of the weight of the larger boxes but your help in opening doors and moving things out of the way for him makes it much easier, while moving the smaller boxes while he takes the biggest makes the job go much more quickly. The other students are very grateful that you took on “the hard work”, it seems your choice was pretty good, you got the admiration of your fellows without actually having to do too much hard work.

 

Failure: +1 Stress, +1 Schoolyard Education ss, advance phase 3.

There are a lot of jobs to do, plenty for each of you. Some however are much harder – or messier – than others, and frankly figuring out that you don’t want to be the one who gets rid of the noxious concoction Vuilaume put together takes no time at all.

 

After a moment to think, you volunteer to help Professor Leith to move the larger boxes needed for the first class tomorrow – it looks like a big heavy job, but your hope that the boxes wouldn’t be too heavy turns out to be mistaken. It isn’t long before your arms are aching, but eventually the boxes are put away, and your friends congratulate you on doing “the hard work”, you’d rather have fewer aches but the thanks are nice enough.

 

3.3. See if you can read the labels on the jars and vials and put them back in the right places on the shelf. [Decipher handwriting v 3]

Success: +1 Decipher Handwriting ss, advance phase 3.

Professor Leith was clearly keen to let you see how much interesting stuff there is to learn about in potion making as he got out hundreds of small vials of various herbs, sands, crystals and often unidentifiable things – unless one reads the tiny handwriting.

 

Putting all the vials back is not difficult physically, but putting them back in order is a real challenge. Fortunately it turns out you don’t have to figure out which powders are from mineral, plant, or whatever other source, each vial’s label has a series of codes along the base of the label. Figuring out the pattern is easy enough from the newer jars where the labels are clear, reading the labels on the older vials is a lot harder. After a little fumbling, some careful observation with a magnifying glass, and a little ingenuity in deciphering the scrawl, you manage to figure out where every vial goes – pretty much – and you manage to put the vials away to the Professor’s satisfaction

 

Failure: +1 Stress, +1 Decipher Handwriting ss, advance phase 3.

Professor Leith was clearly keen to let you see how much interesting stuff there is to learn about in potion making as he got out hundreds of small vials of various herbs, sands, crystals and often unidentifiable things – unless one reads the tiny handwriting.

 

Putting all the vials back is not difficult physically, but putting them back in order is a real challenge. Fortunately it turns out you don’t have to figure out which powders are from mineral, plant, or whatever other source, each vial’s label has a series of codes along the base of the label.

Well, you thought figuring out that the scrawlings were code would make things easier. Sadly between smudges, smears, and some truly atrocious penmanship figuring out where the vials goes takes ages. Fortunately the Professor comes over when the others have gone and, thanking you for your help, waves you off towards the canteen saying that you have done enough and he will finish putting the vials away.

 

3.4. Figure out the filing system in the samples and put them back straight. [Filing v 3]

Success: +1 Filing ss, advance phase 3.

The professor seems to have emptied the storage cupboard out onto the classroom surfaces, samples, note pages and equipment is everywhere. You guess he wanted to show you all how much cool stuff there was to play…er…work with in potions.

Putting it all away is however not just a matter of shoving it all back on the shelves of the cupboard, tempting though that sounds. But, if you did just shove everything away then nobody would find anything and you’d probably get demerits from the Professor for being so slack. Or, given how genial Professor Leith is, a disappointed comment that would somehow be worse.

 

Fortunately the cupboard shelves are fairly clearly labelled, and the samples, whether bags, tied roots, or vials all have labels of their own. It doesn’t take long to figure out the filing system and then you are off. In just a few dozen minutes you have the bulk of the sample put away neatly and the professor happily waves you away to dinner saying he will sort out the last few bits.

 

Failure: +1 stress, +1 Filing ss, advance phase 3.

The professor seems to have emptied the storage cupboard out onto the classroom surfaces, samples, note pages and equipment is everywhere. You guess he wanted to show you all how much cool stuff there was to play…er…work with in potions.

 

Putting it all away is however not just a matter of shoving it all back on the shelves of the cupboard, tempting though that sounds. But, if you did just shove everything away then nobody would find anything and you’d probably get demerits from the Professor for being so slack. Or, given how genial Professor Leith is, a disappointed comment that would somehow be worse.

 

Sadly the filing system is so tortuous that you have barely put half of the samples away before Professor Leith finishes helping the others and comes over, chuckling “the filing system takes a little getting used to I’m afraid, don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it soon enough, I’ll finish off here, you go get some dinner, you must be starving by now.”

 

 

 

Stage 2. A Slight Mishap

 

 

Phase 1: Figuring out what to make

OK, first potion club you mainly got familiar with the basic equipment and talked about the real basics. This time you want to try making something a little more interesting, Professor Leith liked how you all worked together last time, and seems to think it should reduce the risk of mistakes being made, the question is which of your fellow club members to work with.

 

1.1. Work with Asmita Tidar to make a flavour enhancing potion

Automatic: +1 relationship Asmita Tidar, advance phase 3.

Asmita suggests that you start with a simple flavour enhancing potion that can be sprinkled over boring food, “we could just use salt, but the kitchen puts far too much salt on food, I’m hoping that if I can make them a simple potion they will cut down so we can actually taste the food not the salt!”

You aren’t sure that you really want to taste the cafeteria food, somethings are better not to know, but the potion looks quite interesting to make so you pitch in, crushing a block of salt into fine powder to be added to the potion while Asmita works on the enhancing phemes, and heating the cauldron to just the right temperature. When Professor Leith comes over a few minutes later he is quite impressed at your results.

 

1.2. Work with Emilia Picotti to make a nose-clearing potion

Automatic: +1 relationship Emilia Picotti, advance phase 3.

Emilia peers at you a little bleary, “sorry” she says, “I’m recubbering from a cold-curz dis mording, the curz has been dizpulled but m’m still bunged-up, wubb you helb me make sumding do clear my dose?”

 

Emilia’s very sweet and it sounds like a handy potion to know how to make so you volunteer, the potion is quite fiddly so it takes you a little while but after one gulp Emilia’s nose clears up and she becomes intelligible once more.

 

1.3. Work with Vincent to make a luck potion

Automatic: +1 relationship Vincent Eins, advance phase 3.

Vincent is so positive that he’s almost always fun to be around, when you go over to him he is deeply engrossed in Professor Leith’s notebook and noticing you says excitedly, “a luck potion, it’s just what I’ve been looking for! Can you help me?”

 

Everyone needs luck, and while Vincent seems to have more than his fair share, you can’t see anything wrong in getting some more. It takes you quite a while to get the ingredients together and prepare them, so it’s quite disappointing when the potion turns a rather nasty share of green. “Is it supposed to do that?” You ask, Vincent frowns but before he can answer Professor Leith leans over and says “No, you had the cauldron a little hot and a little too much essence of Orbet I fear, a good try though, perhaps you will do better in a few weeks when you have more practice.”

 

Phase 2: Gathering the ingredients

After you’ve had some fun trying out various simple potions, Professor Leith spends half an hour or so teaching you about potion-making, before setting you the challenge of making a cleansing potion, something any serious potion-maker needs to be able to make to ensure that their equipment remains uncontaminated.

 

2.1. Search for the needed roots in the gardens. [Roots v 4]

Success: +1 Roots ss, advance phase 3.

It takes you a while to find the scouring roots, particularly as the gardeners are in one of their keener moods and unwilling to accept that you have Professor Leith’s permission to be in the garden much less digging for roots, but with a little luck and guile you manage to find the scouring plant and harvest some of its roots for the potion.

 

Failure: +1 Roots ss, +1 stress, advance phase 3.

It takes you a while to find the scouring roots, particularly as the gardeners are in one of their keener moods and unwilling to accept that you have Professor Leith’s permission to be in the garden much less digging for roots, but with a little luck and guile you manage to find the scouring plant and harvest some of its roots for the potion with only a few minor injuries and a pounding heart from being chased out of the garden by an irate rake-wielding legion.

 

2.2. Take a walk around the grounds and see if you can find anything useful. [Explore v 4]

Success: +1 Explore ss, +10 pims, advance phase 3.

The Academagia is vast, and has all sorts of hidden nooks and crannies, you’ve often found that simply wandering somewhere you’ve never gone before can have all sorts of interesting (if sometimes hazardous) outcomes. Today however the grounds are simply teeming with older students, often senior students which means couples, and couples of older students means severe risk of being grossed out or stomped on for being accused of spying, as if you’d care.

Today however is a lucky day, and while dodging amorous seniors you find a small bag with some pims and crushed ammonia salts, well, it would practically be rude to refuse providence like that and you return to the potion club happy at your fortune.

 

Failure: +1 Explore ss, -1 vitality, advance phase 3.

The Academagia is vast, and has all sorts of hidden nooks and crannies, you’ve often found that simply wandering somewhere you’ve never gone before can have all sorts of interesting (if sometimes hazardous) outcomes. Today however the grounds are simply teeming with older students, often senior students which means couples, and couples of older students means severe risk of being grossed out or stomped on for being accused of spying, as if you’d care.

Your luck runs out when you accidentally run into a couple and get a thump for your carelessness. Fortunately the female senior is solicitous and you get away with just the one, and a bag of ammonia salts to correct your dizziness. Well, you need the salts for the potion, and given your ringing head you figure you should head back before you run into another couple.

 

2.3. Borrow a hammer and chisel and go see if you can get some “samples” from the rock garden for the potion. [Chemistry v 4]

Success: +1 Chemistry ss, advance phase 3.

Everyone knows that centuries ago some gnomes planted a crystal garden (typically called the rock garden) near the Vernin dormitory, even if nobody can now remember why, but the garden grows as only a gnomish garden can, and like so many other oddities has become a fixture in the Academagia. The crystals are jealously guarded by upperclassmen for some reason though, making it hard to sneak in a chisel off a sample of the desired crystal when you need some for a potion.

 

However upperclassmen – at least those who are men – have a ridiculous habit of turning into buffoons when upperclasswomen are around, so with a little planning and sleight of hand you are able to sneak in to the rock garden while the “gardeners” are showing off for Professor Knoht and quickly chisel off a few samples of the rocks you want.

 

Failure: +1 Running ss, +1 stress, advance phase 3.

Everyone knows that centuries ago some gnomes planted a crystal garden (typically called the rock garden) near the Vernin dormitory, even if nobody can now remember why, but the garden grows as only a gnomish garden can, and like so many other oddities has become a fixture in the Academagia. The crystals are jealously guarded by upperclassmen for some reason though, making it hard to sneak in a chisel off a sample of the desired crystal when you need some for a potion.

 

Your plan to sneak in by the old trick of pushing a cart of tools over into the garden “as a punishment” works to get you in, and some quick hammer and chisel work gets you the samples you need, unfortunately the upperclassmen notice and you have to run to escape, and keep running until you are almost back at the clubhouse.

 

Location: The Rock Garden – grants access to ability ‘prospect in the rock garden’, +1 dating ss, +1 flirting ss.

Prospect in the rock garden: Spend a few hours prospecting the rock garden for any useful crystals that have grown recently, it would be nice and peaceful if not for older students using it as a make-out spot! +1 stress, gain 10 pims, and one of: Sandstone, ironrock dust, pyrite (small).

 

Phase 3: A slight mishap

As the club is coming to a close and Professor Leith is happily chatting about techniques and phemes that you should practice for the next club there is an abrupt boom from the other side of the class, followed by a terrible smell and the familiar sound of breaking pottery and glass.

Looking over in shock you see Vuillaume Eparvier, surrounded in a corona of sparks and lightly covered with soot standing besides the ruins of an alembic and a profusely smoking heap on the table. “Quickly children! Professor Storey has the room booked for detention in 10 minutes and you don’t want to be added to his collection, sort this out sharply!” Professor Leith’s words are enough to shock you from your surprise and you quickly start to think about what you could do to help.

 

3.1. Revise the smoking heap into something less toxic! [Revision methods v 4]

Success: +1 Revision spells ss, access stage 3.

The first thing to do is stop the mess from getting worse, which means stopping the smoke from being produced. Carefully drawing your phemes you take aim at the smouldering heap and revise the broken pottery around it into a hard ceramic shell. Vincent immediately grabs the shell and carries it out of the room, while Professor Leith drives the smoke away with a wind charm. After that cleaning up is fairly humdrum and you are away from the classroom well before Professor Storey arrives.

 

Failure: +1 Calligraphy ss, +1 stress, access stage 3.

You figure that the first thing to do is stop the smoke from getting any thicker, so you try to revise the broken pottery on the table into a shell around the smouldering heap. You had thought that the shell would be strong enough to hold mere smoke, but moments after you have made the shell it starts wobbling and ominous cracking sounds are heard. “Vincent, open the window!” Professor Leith leaps to the shell and hurls it through the window just before it explodes sending shards of pottery out hard enough for them to be embedded in trees two dozen paces away. You don’t even wait to be shouted at and instead simply run out of the room before you do any more damage. You spend the evening carefully writing a letter of apology to the Professor and are quite exhausted by the time you are finally done.

 

3.2. Tend to Vuillame’s cuts and bruises [Field medicine v 4]

Success: +1 Relationship Vuillame Eparvier, access stage 3.

Looking at Vuillame you note that she is covered in more than soot, and you are far from sure what the strange coloured blobs of fluid (presumably from her potion) will do to her skin. Grabbing one of the buckets of water and sponges (Professor Leith always prepares the room for dealing with potential mishaps) you sponge her clean and then carefully dress her minor burns and negate her shock a little. Between your aid and her familiarity with explosions Vuillame swiftly recovers and before long is helping you clean the room so you can be well away before Professor Storey arrives.

 

Failure: +1 Field medicine ss,-1 relationship Vuillame Eparvier, access stage 3.

Everyone else is concentrating on the mess, so you figure you should help Eparvier. You are just in the middle of your negation spell to fix her scalds when she sees you and cries “no!” knocking your wand, your spell goes awry and clearly so does whatever spell you were doing, “unthinking buffoon, I am well versed in ameliorating such petty discomforts without need for your fumblings, I need no assistance after so trifling a mishap!” Chastised you shuffle away and help Vincent sweep up fragments until the Professor says that you’ve all done enough and can go.

 

3.3. The first rule of potion mishaps, open a window to let the smoke out. [schoolyard education v 4]

Success: +1 Relationship Matain Leith, advance phase 3.

You’ve been around Cante long enough to know that the best place for oddly coloured smoke from a potion mishap is outside, so while the others leap forward and promptly start choking on the smoke, you run for the windows and start opening them all. With a little help from a simple wind charm you quickly have the room cleared of smoke allowing your classmates to clean the mess (and Eparvier) and depart before the dreaded Professor Storey arrives.

 

Failure: +1 stress, +1 Schoolyard Education ss, advance phase 3.

Normally you are sure it would have been a good idea, open a window, let the smoke out so everyone can breathe. Normally. Not however this time, the strange smelling smoke attracts some dusk fairies out early and only seems to encourage the smoke to fill the room, between the extra smoke and the fairies zipping about the room swiftly degenerates into chaos and Professor Leith finally clears the room to be rewarded with a slow sarcastic handclap from the dour Professor Storey who promptly gives you all a lecture in classroom safety. At least your classmates give you some useful advice on what not to do next time between glares and pinches.

 

 

 

Stage 3: Boom badda boom boom boom

 

 

The club meeting goes very well, with the Professor showing you several new potions, but it is hard to miss Vincent and Eparvier arguing throughout about relative prowess, in particular, who can make the bigger boom, with Vincent clearly unimpressed by Eparvier’s mishap at the previous meeting.

As the club progresses it becomes clear that there is only one way for the dispute to be settled and both start pilfering Professor Leith’s supplies for a contest after the club.

 

1.1. Help Vincent by swiping some hellebore powder. Lockpick v 5

Success: +1 Lockpick ss, advance phase 2.

Although you get on well with both Vincent and Vuillame, you figure that Vincent needs more help. He is busy gathering the ingredients and talking to the professor to get hints, from the professor’s look you figure he isn’t entirely convinced by whatever excuse Vincent is using to explain why he’s asking about explosions but the professor is at least distracted, which leaves the secured cabinet with the ingredients for older students vulnerable to a little lock-picking.

Waiting for the professor’s back to be turned you quickly sneak to the cabinet and pull out your trusty lock-picks, a few moments later you have a few hellebore seeds warming your pockets and are re-locking the cabinet. Job done and a clear advantage for Vincent, hellebore seeds make any explosion bigger.

 

Failure: -1 Lockpicks ss, advance phase 2.

Vuillame is clearly the more experienced of the two students at making explosions, you’ve had to dodge more than a few of her experiments in the past. So you figure that Vincent needs a hand – and not in the sense of someone to carry him to the infirmary.

 

If you can swipe some hellebore seeds you figure that Vincent can use them to enhance any explosion, the trouble is that only older students are allowed to use the seeds as they are considered dangerous. But what’s the importance of a petty safety rule when pride is at stake? Or of a lock when you want to open a cabinet?

 

Well, it turns out that the senior student potion cabinet has quite a good lock and that Professor Leith clearly isn’t new to the idea that younger students might want to help themselves to an ingredient or two. Like many cabinets the potion cabinet is intricately carved, with the face of a lion carved with the keyhole as its mouth. As you start picking the lock you expected there might be an alarm and had cast a hush spell, but you hadn’t expected the carving around the lock to animate. The lion screws its face up as you try to feel out the interior of the lock and then abruptly bits shut leaving you looking at its grimace and the remains of your lockpick in shock. OK, no seeds for Vincent…

 

1.2. Help Eparvier by sneaking into the storeroom and swiping some firestone powder. [bluff v 5]

Success: +1 Bluff ss, advance phase 2.

Vincent is nice enough, but you aren’t sure you want to be around him when he’s brewing something meant to explode, his potions go wrong enough of the time as it is.

 

Vuillame on the other hand welcomes your assistance “your offer of assistance is timely, I need help to extract some illicit constituents for my concoction and subterfuge is indispensable to avoid chastisement.” A few quick queries make clear that she needs access to the storeroom while the professor is distracted, so you come up with a ruse to distract him and spend the next 10 minutes in a detailed discussion about how precisely to grind stones to get the appropriate particle size for a potion recipe, a very dull 10 minutes but at least Vuillame is happy.

 

Failure: +1 stress, advance phase 2.

When it comes to explosions, Vuillame is clearly the expert compared to Vincent, or for that matter anybody else. She usually has soot on her robes and is constantly trying experiments which involve things that go boom.

 

Vuillame needs something with a little more oomph than first years normally have access to if she is to beat Vincent properly though, so you agree to distract Professor Leith while she raids the store-room. “Um, professor?” you say “I was wondering about step 3 of the potion, it says grind the soapstone until the grains fit through a fine sieve, what happens if you grind it too much?” The professor then spends an excruciating 10 minutes finding things to say about the need to grind powders to the right grain size, and how to sort grains by size with different sieves. You survive the tedium, but only just. At least Vuillame probably had enough time to get whatever she wanted you think.

 

1.3. Help Eparvier smuggle some of her loot out of the classroom. [Conceal v 5]

Success: +1 Conceal ss, advance phase 2.

You figure that Vuillame will want to make a particularly impressive bang in her competition with Vincent, and that will require some special ingredients so you offer to help out “Vuillame, do you need me to distract the professor while you raid the stores?” Vuillame smiles “my thanks, but a superfluous offer, I have already sated such needs, if you could assist however with extricating my plunder I would be gratified.”

 

After a moment to translate Vuillame’s request into regular Elumian you agree to help her smuggle some of her haul out of the classroom past the eyes of Professor Leith. At the end of the lesson, carefully arranging your robes so your pockets don’t bulge, you walk out as casually as you can and breathe a sigh of relief when the professor doesn’t stop you.

 

Failure: -1 Conceal ss, advance phase 2.

Deciding that you are on Vuillame’s side is easy, Vincent is more fun you think, but Vuillame has a much better reputation when it comes to making explosions.

“So Vuillame, are you going to just make something go bang or put on a proper show?” You ask quietly after sidling up to the industriously toiling student. Vuillame grins, “no mere bang my inquisitive colleague, I will make a spectacular illustration of pyrotechnic virtuosity!” That sounds pretty, cool, you’re in. “So what can I do to help?” You ask, “if you could assist me with smuggling forth the spoils of my plundering the stock cupboard my gratitude would be boundless my friend.”

How hard can it be to smuggle out a few roots, berries and some such you think? Sadly it turns out Vuillame thinks a little bigger than that and passes you a small mountain of alchemical supplies to smuggle out for the classroom – which turns out to be a little too big for your robe to conceal as the Professor blocks your path at the end of the club as you try to sneak out with Vuillame’s supplies and with a practiced hand fishes several pouches of supplies out of your pockets.

“I just wanted to practice a bit more professor” you blurt out “we only get an hour here!” Professor Leith sighs “I know, hardly any time really, look, try some ground tarra root instead of the Hellebore seeds, you really shouldn’t have those at your age, and be discreet, next time just ask me…” Ah, a professor who understands the youthful need to explore and experiment, such a wonderful thing! It is a pity you had to hand over the Hellebore seeds though as Vuillame looks quite disappointed in losing them when you talk to her later and pass over the few supplies to escape the professor’s search.

 

1.4 Help Zoe to calm them both down. [Diplomacy v 5]

Success: +1 Diplomacy ss, advance phase 2.

As Vincent and Vuillame exchange retorts through the club their boasts escalate and Zoe starts looking worried, “you two need to calm down, someone will get hurt” she says worriedly. Vuillame sniffs “no need for concern my pallid compatriot, I will trounce this upstart with ease”. Vincent laughs and mutters “overconfident as always, never fret Zoe, I will make sure the crowd is protected.”

 

Failure: -1 Diplomacy ss, advance phase 2.

Zoe looks quite concerned about the increasingly extreme boasts and taunts Vincent and Vuillame are exchanging and whispers “Help me to calm things down please, this could escalate to the point someone gets hurt if we aren’t careful.” A valid point you think. “Er, Vincent” you said thinking as you go, “I think you should calm down, everyone knows Vuillame’s the best boom-maker, you don’t have a chance, just stop now before you hurt yourself.” In retrospect perhaps not the best approach to use on the ultra-competitive boy. Vincent snorts in derision, “then everyboy is about to learn something, she may make a boom but my bang will shake the room!” Yup, sounds like your approach backfired. Zoe shakes her head “there’s a skill called diplomacy, I think you need to learn it…”

 

Phase 2. Finding the right spot for the contest

Well, evening comes and both Vincent and Vuillame are hell-bent on proving they can make the bigger explosion, since you can’t persuade them to compete in something less likely to end in detention – tiddlywinks perhaps – you figure the best thing a friend can do is find somewhere safe-ish for the contest. So…where?

 

Option 2.1. Down by the duelling bridge, nobody will be surprised by the noise!

Automatic: +1 relationship Vincent, advance phase 3.

The duelling bridge is well known, and unofficially tolerated. You are fairly sure that the professors have laid magic that prevents anything too serious happening and so it should be safe to use. Vincent in particular likes the idea of their contest being ‘a duel’ and so the stage is set, your club-mates quickly hurry to the duelling bridge to make sure it is empty and prepare it for the show.

 

Option 2.2. Somewhere well away from anywhere else with a duelling circle!

Automatic: +1 relationship Vuillame, advance phase 3.

OK, what you need is somewhere fairly quiet obviously, but more importantly you need to have a clearly defined space where the contest is and most importantly passers-by and spectators are not, and you need to make sure that any trouble is contained. The answer is obvious and when you explain the need for a proper duelling circle Vuillame immediately declares “of course! The duelling bridge, the inevitable locale once the obvious was stated, well done my friend!”

 

Option 2.3. Ask around for ideas.

Automatic: +1 relationship Asmita Tidar, advance phase 3.

The Academagia is a huge place, and if people are willing to sneak out (something fairly common in most cases) there is no end of possibilities for the contest. Rather than call out a suggestion and wind-up in a shouting contest you figure it would be better to quietly canvas opinion and then offer the options with your recommendation of which is best. It doesn’t take long to get a list and pare it down to the most popular of the bunch. Asmita’s suggestion of the duelling circles wins the day due to its practicality.

 

Phase 3. The contest and the bystanders

The agreed time for the duel comes around quicker than you could imagine, the rumours have been flying around the Academagia (as ever) and so you have to run to make it the duelling bridge in time to help with the setting up. Vincent and Vuillame are already there exchanging jokes and insults in equal measure and the rest of the potions club turns up shortly afterwards.

 

Option 3.1. Draw a duelling circle! [Duelling circles v 5]

Success: + 1 Duelling circles ss, choose again.

First things first, you think, make sure that a proper duelling circle is drawn so that al bystanders are properly protected! Drawing the circle is fairly easy, the bridge has been used for duels for centuries and you find that the stones ‘remember’ the phemes so well that they practically write themselves, you are done in a few minutes to general acclaim, “wow, you did that so fast” exclaims Asmita, “I’m so glad you came to do it”, Vincent nods “pretty good going there [PC name], you must have a secret duelling habit that you’ve not mentioned!”

 

Failure: 1 Duelling circles ss, choose again.

The first thing to do is obviously to draw the duelling circle so that the bystanders are protected from any magic that might go astray – and the obvious side effects of being near to large explosions.

 

You have barely drawn the phemes for the first few feet of the circle through when Zoe Melis says in alarm “watch out [PC name], you just drew subtract in reverse, and you are drawing the circle far too small!” Vuillame looks over and says “indeed, such proximity to the explosions will be most hazardous even with a circle, you must enlarge it to a credible stature for my skill!”

 

Option 3.2. Keep the crowds away from the display! [Command v 5]

Success: +1 Command ss, choose again

“Everybody stand back!” you say seeing the crowds starting to gather, you quickly mark out a boundary for spectators so that they stay well away from the action, Vuillame can be dangerous at the best of time and Vincent has yet to learn the meaning of the word ‘sufficient’ so a contest between the two could be very dangerous to anyone who gets too close!

 

Failure: -1 Command ss, choose again

“Stand back” you cry, “we need to keep back so no-one gets hurt”, unfortunately the gathering crowds don’t pay you any attention, and the horror of public speaking prevents you from raising your voice. Fortunately Iustus, normally the most sleepy of students, casts a glamour that gets everyone’s attention and uses another glamour to amplify his voice to warn everyone to stay back, phew, at least someone knew what they were doing!

 

Option 3.3. Talk to Vincent and Vuillame and check their supplies are good [Analyze v 5]

Success: +1 Analyze ss, choose again

Vuillame and Vincent are both pretty jumpy and you suspect that neither is in the mood to be properly calm and objective when checking their components. Fortunately both accept you as an honest broker and so let you check their materials, which is fortunate as Vuillame’s volcanic dust had spilt and contaminated some of her pyre powder already (“my most sincere appreciation for your diligent perusal of my ingredients my friend, I shall reduce the relevant addition to recognise the opening composition”) and Vincent has somehow managed to get the bungs of his potion vials so tightly stopped that without your discovery he would have been toast in the duel (“thanks [PC name], I was worried about them spilling when I ran down here so I tried a spell, but I never thought they would be this hard to open!”)

 

Failure: -1 Analyze ss, choose again

You figure that someone should check that both duellists have prepared their potion bags properly, and it turns out that no one else in the club is willing to risk checking either bag, so you offer your help to both Vincent and Vuillame. Which of course means that both of them assume that you are trying to help the other and when you do find problems with their packing both immediately assume you caused the problem! With friends like these, who needs enemies you think glumly as you retreat back to the observation line while both of them look daggers at you, I’d better be careful in case a ‘stray fireball’ comes my way you think.

 

Option 3.4. Negations spells at the ready! [Negation spells v 5]

 

Success: +1 Negation spells ss, choose again.

If things get out of hand, someone needs to be ready to intervene you think absently as you watch Vincent and Vuillame making their final preparations, a quick chat with your fellow duellists reveals a worrying lack of negation ability, though Zoe has managed to learn a fair amount despite not taking the class (no surprise there you think given she practically lives in the library and joined the preliminary potions club because the librarians said she should ‘get out more’) You all discuss options and after a quick practice think you are ready with the right mix of negation spells in case things get out of hand.

 

Failure: -1 Negation spells ss, choose again.

“OK” says Cante somewhat nervously, “if this all gets out of hand – and bear in mind it’s Vincente and Vuillame trying to make the biggest explosions they can – who is good with negation spells to stop any carnage?” Everyone in the club agrees that this is a good question, albeit possibly one to have considered earlier, since it turns out that none of your club-mates chose to take classes in negation. You suggest a few options and blush in embarrassment when Zoe Melis points out how and why they wouldn’t be good choices, oh well, between you all hopefully you will manage!

 

Option 3.5. [Reveal after one of 3.1. to 3.4. is attempted and failed] Tell the duellists to get on with it before everyone gets bored of waiting for the fun to start.

 

Automatic: Reprimanded by Matain Leith, +1 relationship to 3 of Asmita Tidar, Cante Caviti, Emilia Picotti, Iustus Venture, and Vincent Eins, access stage 4.

Vincent and Vuillame quickly cast the duelling circle and protect the bystanders, and set-up 3 small cauldrons each. “We will take turns to use our potions” announces Vincent, “give us 10 minutes to get the first ready” adds Vuillame.

 

The two brew furiously and then, as promised take turns to drink their first potions and spit their first fireballs. Vincent breathes out a quite impressive blast of flame, while Vuillame creates a bright if cool blast of light, each then depreciates the other Vuillame decrying Vincent's effort as a mere “fountain of flame” while Vincent affects a bored tone and says “Vuillame dear, fire is supposed to be hot!”

 

The second round is more fun, with both producing proper explosive fireballs, you are so engrossed in the competition now that you shake off Zoe who seems desperate to distract you from the fun, it is only at the moment that the pair set off their third potions that you register what Zoe is saying “the warding circle has broken, they didn’t make it strong enough.” Oh. Oops. You really should have paid attention to her you think as the fireballs explode.

 

Fortunately Zoe had given up asking for help and casts her own negation, which with the hurried spells you and the rest of the club cast is just enough to divert most of the blasts into the air. Once you can see again you look around, everybody is covered in ash, somewhat singed, and looks somewhat stunned. A second look (about as your hearing returns) shows a concerned looking professor Briardi tending to some fallen students and an angry looking Professor Leith heading straight for you.

 

“Don’t worry” says Professor Leith “your eyebrows will grow back eventually, I can’t believe none of you thought to warn me about this, someone could have got killed! You will have to be much more careful in future, a professor won’t always be around to help you out!” After handing out reprimands he walks off ordering you to make sure the bridge is properly cleaned up before you go.

 

Option 3.6. [Reveal if at least 1 success and hide option 3.5.] Tell the duellists that if they are ready, they might as well start.

Automatic: +1 stress, +1 relationship to Asmita Tidar, Cante Caviti, Emilia Picotti, Iustus Venture and Zoe Melis, access stage 4.

Vincent and Vuillame have clearly discussed the format of the contest and decided that a traditional duel is not appropriate, instead each carefully sets up three small cauldrons over a fire and starts brewing at the signal to start, which makes the first 10 minutes or so of the ‘contest’ quite dull to watch really.

“I’m ready with my first” calls Vincent, “As am I my vainglorious colleague, time to commence our contest!” responds Vuillame “about time!” Calls someone in the crowd.

 

Vincent goes first, taking a deep draught of his potion he belches forth an impressive gout of flame to general applause. Vuillame waits for the applause to calm down and says merrily “well, the mouth-wash did nothing to quieten your breath, let me show you a fire-ball, not a fire-fountain!” Her potion results in what is at first quite an unimpressive result, a red pea-sized ball that she spits high into the air, whereupon it explodes in a bright flash that leaves spots in front of your eyes for the next 5 minutes. “Bright I will grant you” says Vincent in response, “but where was the heat? The flame? The concussive impact?”

 

After a few more friendly insults both have another go resulting in even more impressive explosions. “Better make the last ones quick kids” calls a voice from an older student, “those last ones can’t have been missed, a professor will be here any minute!” With that encouragement Vincent and Vuillame agree to use their final potions at the same time, something that you realise is a bad idea about the time they drink the potions and Zoe worriedly mutters “uh oh, look at the warding circle, half the phemes have expired!” One of those observations that would have been really useful if made just a few moments earlier.

 

You are half way through casting a spell to strengthen the circle when the fireballs go off, the circle holds for a few brief moments, which is fortunately just long enough for Zoe to cast her negation spell, followed shortly by your own effort. Which leaves the blast so weakened that it barely singes the watchers.

Ahem!” Oh dear, you recognise that voice, turning you see Professor Briardi standing next to Professor Leith, the former looks somewhat cross (although it is hard to tell as the look suits her so well), the latter appears to be struggling to restrain a wide grin.

 

Professor Briardi raises an eyebrow “Matain, if they hadn’t had the brains to take basic precautions I would be recommending reprimands all round, do please try to remember that the idea of a sponsored club is that the children explore useful skills in a responsible and above all safe manner” she flicks some ash off her gown “they’ve clearly studied well though, so much for the idea that first years aren’t ready to study potions!”

 

Professor Leith nods, “Of course Polisena, I’ll tidy up here and have a talk to those involved.” Raising his voice he calls out “I’m sure nothing exciting is going to happen now and you all have homework to get on with – if not homework can be arranged”. The crowd disappears in an instant and after a brief lecture on safety Professor Leith thanks you for making sure the contest was safe before telling Vincent and Vuillame to see him in his office, oh well, at least the rest of you seem not to be in trouble. “That was fun” says Emilia, “but a little too close for comfort” says Zoe, “perhaps we can avoid such loud contests in future?”

 

Option 3.7. [Reveal if 3 or more successes and hide option 3.5.] Tell the duellists that they can proceed with the duel.

Automatic: +1 relationship to Asmita Tidar, Cante Caviti, Emilia Picotti, Iustus Venture, Vincent Eins, Zoe Melis and Vuillaume Eparvier, access stage 4.

The duel should be safe you think, taking another look over the preparations. Sure enough when Vincent and Vuillame set off their first explosions the warding circle doesn’t even twitch. The second, more impressive blasts do make it shake somewhat, but after you buttress it everyone agrees that it is safe for the final blasts. Which are very impressive you have to say.

 

Everyone agrees that the blasts were very good (except you suppose the charred trees around the bridge, but they can’t talk so hardly count), but you are caught surprise when the older students abruptly vanish, only to why when Professor Leith abruptly appears.

 

Professor Leith chokes back a smile and says in mock seriousness “I could see those explosions from half a mile away! Well, there’s no damage I suppose, at least you all learned to be careful around exothermic experiments, just try to be a little more discreet next time, those blasts shook the windows all the way to the cafeteria!”

 

 

 

Stage 4: Pure sources

 

 

Professor Leith is quite busy when you get to the laboratory booked for the club, “hello everyone, I’m glad you can make it. I have some ideas for you, but I got caught up in some administrative matters so if you could help me out a little I would be grateful, as you can see the last class left the classroom in something of a state, so if you could get it ready for the next class I would be grateful.

 

Meh, cleaning up a classroom again, somehow that sounds exactly like what is likely to be a recurrent theme in club meetings you suspect.

 

Phase 1: Getting the class room ready

Option 1. Look up the class project and set the base fluids brewing so that they are ready for the older students when the class starts [brew v 6]

Success: +1 Brew ss, unlock option 5, choose again.

One of the typical issues with potion brewing is the need for various roots and herbs to be slowly stewed or otherwise brewed before they are ready for use. After checking with the professor what the next class will be brewing and when the base fluids will be needed you set several cauldrons brewing so that all will be ready on time.

 

Failure: +1 stress, advance phase 2.

The joy of long brewing you ponder, is the hell of doing the math required so that it is ready at the right time, rather than 3 hours before or afterwards. That means not just getting everything ready but carefully calculating how hot the stove has to be based on various tables written out for each kind of potion. You have no idea who calculated them all or why the time varies depending on the temperature so much but you suspect that without the tables it would all have gone horribly wrong, as it is you know that numbers will swim through your head all evening.

 

Option 2. Test the murky liquids to see what they are. [Analyse v 6]

Success: +1 Analyse ss, unlock option 5, choose again.

Before getting rid of old potions and chemical compounds, it is important to find out roughly what they are so that the proper disposal procedures can be followed. That means going through a long set of tests on each of the various liquids dotted around the laboratory and hoping that they test positive to a test early in the sequence.

 

Failure: +1 stress, advance phase 2.

Marvellous, you think, the last lot didn’t clear up their potions, or finish from the look of it, which means that you have the joy of figuring out how to get rid of it all, which given that some of the brews could have dangerous properties if just dumped down the sink means going down a long list of tests and hoping that an early one works. Hoping forlornly it turns out, as your eyes are going blurry before you finally figure out the last fluid.

 

Option 3. Carefully clean the equipment so it is ready for use. [Temperance v 6]

Success: +1 Temperance ss, unlock option 5, choose again.

“Cleaning alchemical equipment isn’t hard, it is just really tedious” mutters Cante, “You have to be so thorough to avoid contaminating the next brew” You nod sagely and say “which makes learning to be patient and thorough key skills for a master potion brewer”, Cante cheers up “I guess so, I’ll start over here, why don’t you do those over there?” Between the two of you the job doesn’t take too long and the sight of gleaming clean alembics, retorts and whatnot is soon giving you a warm glow of pride.

 

Failure: -1 Temperance ss, advance phase 2.

Cante looks at the messy equipment, “right, the important thing is to clean it thoroughly” you nod calmly “any residue could contaminate the next batch”, you nod again slightly less calm, “we need to clear spell residues too, you never know if they left a half complete spell in some of the brew” you nod hoping that Cante will get a move on before you die of tedium, “and we have to rinse properly too, soap and other detergents will act as contaminants too” you sigh deeply, Cante can get a little carried away about potions at times and you suspect that your hopes of a quick wipe-around with a cloth and rinse under the tap were futile. Indeed they were, by the time Cante is happy with the alchemical equipment it is too late to try anything fun and you are about ready to murder Cante.

 

Option 4. Prepare the ingredients so that they are ready for the next formal potions class. [Chemistry v 6]

Success: +1 Chemistry ss, unlock option 5, choose again.

Emilia is already sorting out the ingredients that the students will need, “we don’t need to prepare them really” she says “that’s the students job, but we need to get the right bottles out on the classroom shelves so they don’t have to go into the storeroom too much.” That makes sense, and it isn’t hard to get some sort of order to the ingredients you get out so that the right one can be found quickly.

 

Failure: -1 Chemistry ss, advance phase 2.

Emilia Picotti is at her most exacting today, you planned to just get out the common ingredients and the others on Professor Leith’s list for the next class and dump them on the shelves, but no, Eilia insists on getting them in good order “there’s no point carefully getting them out of the storeroom onto the shelf, if they can’t find them and go looking in the storeroom” she scolds “the whole idea is that you don’t have the whole class traipsing in and out all lesson.” The fact that she is self-evidently right doesn’t make it any less stressful trying to satisfy her desire for order.

 

Phase 2: Looking for quality ingredients

The club itself goes quite well, you get to test a new potion for relieving stress and figure that a few more tries and it might just work, at least this time got it to taste like a nice cup of cocoa which is fairly good in itself.

 

After you have tidied your apparatus away you hear Cante ask Professor Leith a question “are you all right sir? You look distracted”. Professor Leith smiles ruefully “I’m fine Cante, thank you for asking, I just need to get old of some fresh blackwood mushrooms, in as good a condition as possible – no bruising, or damage from insects if at all possible, I need them for a particularly delicate potion but don’t have time to go to look for any in the grounds.” Cante grins “Don’t worry sir, we can find them for you, can’t we?” You colleagues chorus yes’s and you ask “what do they look like sir?” Professor Leith frowns, "why don’t I make it a bit of a challenge? You’ll find when older that you need to figure out where to find many of your ingredients, if it’s too hard come back and let me know as I do need to get them.” He quickly describes the mushroom but leaves you to figure out where to find it. As your colleagues dash off you ponder how best to do so.

 

Option 1. Have a think about who might know where some particularly pure ingredients might be found [Perception v 6]

Success: +1 Perception ss, advance phase 3.

So how to find out where the mushrooms grow you wonder, well, you could try the library, but you suspect that information about the grounds themselves probably doesn’t get written about much, however the gardeners would surely know where everything that grows could be found. Then again the gardeners are as likely to reprimand you for some imagined slight such as walking on the grass as help you. Then you twig, the senior students surely know where to find everything, and after club meetings you’ve often seen some of the senior potion class students popping in to the lab to do some special brewing, considering briefly which of the senior students seemed the nicest you pick your candidate.

 

Failure: +1 stress, advance phase 3.

Asking for help could get you thumped, laughed at, or left owing a favour if you ask the wrong person you think, none of which sound very appealing. You need someone knowledgeable, nice, and not likely to ask for anything in return. It is a short list. A very short list. Eventually you settle on a senior student you’ve seen helping Professor Leith a lot, you hope that they respond positively.

 

Option 2.2. Have a look around the grounds for some perfect specimens [Observation v 6]

Success: +1 Observation ss, advance phase 3.

After an hours fruitless searching for the mushroom described you are about ready to give up, when suddenly you notice one of the senior students walking into the potions laboratory, probably planning to brew up a personal potion you think. Of course! You’ve often bumped in to senior students in the potions laboratory during the club, even helped a few of them now and then when they needed something basic doing. A few moments thought and you know exactly which one to ask.

 

Failure: +1 stress, advance phase 3.

Most mushrooms aren’t too hard to find as they stick out of the ground, this one apparently has 2 types of flower, and at this time of year its flower is underground, so you wonder how you are supposed to find it. After several hours wandering you take a break back in the lab hoping for inspiration, then inspiration strikes, if these mushrooms are so handy for some potions, the older students are bound to know how to find them, and as luck would have it you know an older student who is awesome at potions and approachable as they have helped out at the club a few times.

 

Option 2.3. Ask around the campus to find out who is really good at potions. [interrogation v 6]

Success: +1 Interrogation ss, advance phase 3.

If in doubt, ask for help. One of the first pieces of advice you got at the Academagia and one that you have tried several times (albeit with increasing caution as asking for help and showing weakness that invites attack are the same thing to some of the meaner students. But it doesn’t take you long to think of a good student to ask, one of the senior students who you’ve seen in the potions lab at all hours, they are bound to know where all sorts of ingredients can be found.

 

Failure: -1 vitality, advance phase 3.

If Cante doesn’t know, then nobody in potions is likely to know you think. But zoology students generally know about stuff like that as familiars have a bad habit of eating stuff in the grounds so need to be warned away from powerful mushrooms. Just your luck however to run into the wrong zoology student when asking for help though, Philippe thumps you reflexively before realising you were asking for help and saying “like I care what mushroom you want to find, go ask someone older who cares about potions if it so important.” Not a bad idea you think rubbing your bruise, and fortunately being in the potions club has given you a chance to meet some older students who might help.

 

Phase 3: Proving your worth

Unsurprisingly you find the potions genius, a 4th year called Sabine Dubois in a laboratory brewing a potion. Somewhat shyly you explain that Professor Leith needs some particularly pure blackwood mushrooms. “I don’t think I should tell you that” says Sabine quietly obviously a bit concerned, “they are quite powerful but need careful harvesting, 1st years really shouldn’t be trying to harvest them for either reason.” You smile contritely and say “they aren’t for me, they are for Professor Leith, he said it was a bit of a test.” Sabine brightens and nods, “oh, a duty” she grins “Professor Leith must like you, you’ll find that Professors will give you little tests and errands if they get on with you. Well he must think you are ready or he wouldn’t ask you, but you’ll have to prove yourself to me first, that’s how it always seemed to work when I got given a duty anyhow.” She thinks for a second and then gestures at the heavily laden workbench in front of her. “Show me you know what you are talking about and aren’t just trying to trick me into helping, tell me what you would do with this equipment, how you would check that the ingredients are free from contamination or what common compounds you could make from them.” She smiles, “I’ve never been on this side of a duty before, it’s fun!”

 

Option 3.1. Explain how to use the equipment

Automatic: +1 Alchemical tools ss, advance phase 4.

You find Sabine’s enthusiasm infectious so happily explain what you can do with the equipment, what you are supposed to do with it, but also some tricks you’ve heard of, and what would be better done with other equipment. When you are done Sabine bounces happily on her stool “that’s great, you are a real potion brewer” she straightens abruptly serious “there’s plenty more you can do with the equipment, I’ll give you some tips as well as a few ideas on where to go for the mushrooms.”

 

Option 3.2. Explain how you would test the ingredients

Automatic: +1 Analyse ss, advance phase 4.

You are a bit shy around an older student, but Sabine is hardly one of the Marchant brothers and you quickly relax and explain what the ingredients are, how you check them, and venture some guesses on a few of the ingredients which you don’t recognise. Sabine laughs merrily at one of your expositions and you spend the next 20 minutes or so getting a detailed, if highly interesting explanation of why the test you describe goes horribly badly wrong on certain ingredients and what you should try instead before Sabine remembers your question and tells you were to find the mushrooms.

 

Option 3.2. Explain how you would mix the ingredients to form common compounds

Automatic: +1 Chemistry ss, advance phase 4

Sabine has quite a lot of ingredients in front of her, and you don’t recognise all of them, or even, you realise surveying the array most of them. You realise though that it is ok, you know several of them and can happily chat about them, Sabine picks up where you trail off explaining some common compounds made from some of the others and then explains where you can find the mushrooms.

 

Phase 4: Gathering your reward

 

 

It doesn’t take you long to follow Sabine’s instructions and find where the mushrooms are being grown, that does however leave a problem. According to the professor the mushroom flowers twice, the firs time underground and the second time above ground, he does, of course, need the flower that grows underground. The question is how to extract it without bruising it.

 

Option 4.1. Dig up the mushrooms [Roots v 6]

Success: +3 relationship Matain Leith, +1 Roots ss, gain action: attend preliminary potions club.

The answer to how to get something out of the ground, is to dig it up, you think, and to get it out without harming it dig around it so you get out a big clump of earth and then slowly remove the earth until you are left with what you want.

Easier said than done of course, but with a little patience and time you manage to dig out a bundle of dirt containing the mushroom and after a little careful excavation extract a perfect specimen. Professor Leith is very impressed by your skill and hurries off to make his potion.

 

Failure: -1 Roots ss, +2 stress, +3 relationship Matain Leith, gain action: attend preliminary potions club.

Digging something up requires a spade, and that requires sneaking into the gardeners hut and borrowing one. Not particularly difficult as the huts generally aren’t locked, but a slight issue when, on carefully digging out an enormous lump of earth containing the mushroom (so you can break it apart gently to remove the mushroom intact and not worry about putting a spade through it) the spade handle cracks. Hoping that the gardener won’t notice you sneak the broken spade back into the shed and flee.

 

At least professor Leith is happy with his mushroom.

 

Option 4.2. Insects: Command ants to bring you the mushroom spores from beneath their nest [insects v 6]

Success: +3 relationship Matain Leith, +1 Insects ss, gain action: attend preliminary potions club

Digging up the mushroom is bound to damage it you think, the professor needs the mushroom undamaged to get its spores you think, an idea abruptly coming to your mind, so there is perhaps another way. With a little magic and some zoology you figure you could make the local ants harvest the spores for you. Sure enough you manage to convince the ants to help you in exchange for a few sugar cubes and before long they have amassed a small heap of perfect spores on your handkerchief.

 

Professor Leith is very impressed by your ingenuity in using the ants and rushes off to make his potion.

 

Failure: -1 Insects ss, -1 vitality, +3 relationship Matain Leith, gain action: attend preliminary potions club.

You find the spot where the mushrooms grow easily enough, but try as you might you can’t dig them out without damaging them. Realising that you are at risk of destroying the entire crop you stop and taken stock of the situation. On seeing some ants you have an idea, a little glamour magic and you manage to convince the ants to harvest the spores of the mushroom in exchange for a few sugar lumps. Sadly after carefully storing the spores in your robes a gardener appears and seeing the carnage you have wrought to the mushroom crop they chase you off the patch bashing you with their rake and shouting at you.

 

At least Professor Leith is grateful to you for the spores, and quite impressed by your dedication “the gardeners are mellower with older students” he muses “you should probably be more careful around them for a few years, they take keeping the grounds immaculate quite seriously.”

 

Option 4.3. See if you can talk a junior gardener into helping you dig up the mushroom. [Persuasion v 6]

Success: +3 relationship Matain Leith, +1 Persuasion ss, gain action: attend preliminary potions club

Given how delicate the mushroom is supposed to be, and how important it is to get a perfect specimen you are somewhat nervous about digging it up yourself, so despite the risks you decide to ask a junior gardener for help. It takes some doing but you persuade them to help you out with a lot of flattery and references to how important it is to Professor Leith that the mushroom is undamaged.

 

Professor Leith is delighted with the mushroom and applauds your skill.

 

Failure: +3 relationship Matain Leith, -1 vitality, -1 Scouting ss, gain action: attend preliminary potions club

Your first effort at digging up the mushroom isn’t good, your mushroom, or more accurately your half of a mushroom, looks like it got attacked by one of the cafeteria cooks. Taking a chance you ask a junior gardener for help, and they agree to dig out the mushroom intact if you help them with ‘a little digging’, the little turns out to be quite a lot and you take you prize back to Professor Leith aching, at least the professor is grateful.

 

 

Action: attend preliminary potions club (one per week): Gain 1 ss to 2 of alchemical tools, analyse, chemistry or poisons, 50% chance gain 1 skillstep to one of orthography, temperance, test-taking or forgery and 50% chance gain 1 random skill.

 

 

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Thank you for the compliment, I had hoped to do 6 or 7 stages for each club, but since each stage is multi-phase and RL has been manic I didn't have time.

 

Not much excuse given how long I've had, but I was hoping to get on to the end credits :rolleyes:

 

At the outset I had thought that maybe people would bandwagon and either do a club or a stage or 2, but it didn't work out. I seem to have killed off Paz too :(

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Or any other, for that matter. It's made a few older threads rather disjointed at points where people are reacting and responding to a post that isn't there.

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We have the ability to delete our own postings but if I remember right if an account is deleted instead of hidden all postings are gone

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