The Hidden Price – Part 1
This was run, with a few modifications, pretty much straight from the Core Rules. I’ll avoid revealing any major spoilers.
In Mulen, the adventurers gathered round the table in “The Queens Legs” and pondered over the map that Judson had got off Orrando. The target was an island, 50 miles off the coast and 3000’ feet up in the air. Some enquiries revealed that the city of Qi, capital of Draolis, used all manner of dirigibles and aerospheres. However, it was said that the machines would not function outside of the city due to the range of the beamed power towers. It appeared that many people in Mulen knew about the island, but no-one had actually visited it. It was one evening, when they had all but decided to give up, that the name Dracogen was mentioned.
“You want to get to the floating island? Dracogen’s your man. He’ll see you right, for a price”
“What’s his price?”
“Dracogen? Oh yes, he’ll help. But be warned, his price may be more than you’re willing to pay”
“What’s his price?”
The following day saw them heading for the outskirts of the city, where a curious coiled and twisted building rose above the surroundings. The top of the tower flared into a flattened bulb. As they approached, a door in the base slid silently open. Inside was a circular chamber, lit in purple and green from a dome in the centre of the ceiling. Seven smaller domes surrounded it and there were seven shallow niches in the curved walls. All of them pulsed in purple and green in a long, slow rhythmic pattern. In the centre of the chamber was a low circular table, flanked by two semi-circular sofas. After they entered, the outer door slid shut.
“Welcome”, said a soft voice from out of the air. “Please be seated”. From a passage in the wall opposite to the entrance entered a male human. He had dark hair and a short beard. His left eye was a construct of synth and crystal. He wore a trim tunic of grey cloth and a silver metal sphere hovered over his left shoulder. “How may I help?”*
The adventurers explained their dilemma and Dracogen considered. “I may have a solution, but it will take two or three days. Are you prepared to pay the price?”
“Here it comes”, thought Galadiir. “What is the price?”
“Any Numenera you find on the island, you will bring back here. You will place it all on the table and then you will spend the night here in the guest rooms. The following morning, you can collect your items and leave.”
They stared at each other suspiciously and then at Dracogen. “That’s it? What’s the catch?”
“There is no catch. That is the price. Do you accept?”
That evening, in “The Queen’s Legs”, they discussed this at length. ** They decided to do a little more asking around; Sonny used his Skill Flex to pick up some street gossip.
“Dracogen? He’s a sound guy; always keeps his word and delivers the goods.”
“He’s done good for himself. Don’t cross him though. You ever heard of Bajoz’s Boys? Well, you won’t hear of them again and they’ve never been found.”
Two days later, a small ball rolled into the tavern and bounced up onto the table. A small grille opened in it.
“You are wanted by Dracogen at the manse immediately. He has what you want”. The ball burst with a small ‘pop’ and smell of burnt cinnamon.
Inside the manse, on the table, lay four small packs with harnesses attached. On the buckle of each pack were four white crystals.
The voice spoke. “These cyphers will allow you to fly. Each has four hours of power; this is enough time for you to fly to and from the island and do some exploring. Remember the price”. The voice stopped and the outer door opened again.
Harrylock put on the pack; the crystals glowed and a small pair of wings sprouted from the pack. He ran his fingers over the studs and sliders set into the harness and shot up into the air; quickly followed by Sonny. Judson and Galadiir were not so adept; they collided on take-off and, hopelessly tangled together; careened off the top of a nearby building and spun into the air.
About an hour later they spied the island ahead through the drifting clouds. It was a rectangular slab of blue synth, with a large conical structure in the centre of the upper deck. The deck was slippery and wet but they all managed to land safely. Harrylock investigated the cone whilst Judson looked for any access through the deck. ***
Finally Harrylock and Galadiir managed to get the hatchway in the cone open and they entered. The inside was full of crystal and glass shapes, cones, rods, planes and blocks. At one point Sonny was dazzled by an intense flash of light and he stumbled; causing part of the structure to collapse onto the others; who took some damage.
Searching the chamber was not easy due to the razor shards of crystal and glass. They found some cyphers (a blue crystal pendant, a clear glass bauble and a synth rod tipped with a pointed gemstone), plus an odd curved piece of glass that spun round when there was any sound near to it. Harrylock took the spinning glass; there was a brief burst of intense light when he did so that dazzled him and Galadiir. Galadiir, meanwhile, was examining a glass tile with a micro-fine tracery of wires embedded in it. He couldn’t work out what it was, so Harrylock smashed it.
“Wait! Isn’t this island flying? That’s probably what was keeping us up.” The hastily made to leave; at this point they were all dazzled by an intense burst of actinic light.
They returned to Mulen safely; shortly after they landed the last crystal on the buckles faded. **** The door to the manse was open and they piled the Numenera onto the table. The other passage led to a dead end with four doors off; each led to a luxurious bedchamber with a table set with fine food and wine. Harrylock refused to eat anything; the others dived in. Judson saw to his horror that the Beast Timer was on two bars.
In the morning, after breakfast (not for Harrylock), they collected their items (which were all there and untouched) and left. They did not see Dracogen.
A week or so later, another ball rolled into “The Queens Legs”. *****
“Dracogen wants to see you immediately”.
* Interestingly; the only suggestion of “let’s take him and loot his stuff” was actually shouted down by the others (“I think this guy is a bad-ass and way more powerful than us”).
** Some of the discussion was hilarious, but far too long to repeat here. It centred around “what’s he going to do in the night / why does he want us to stay the night / what’s he going to do to us in the night?”
*** Judson didn’t notice that his Beast Timer artefact had beeped; one bar had turned red (Judson has Howls at the Moon and the artefact warns him if a change is imminent; there are 5 bars, each gives a cumulative 20% chance of the change happening that night.)
**** I was going to put in an Intrusion where a pack failed prematurely and there would have to be a mid-air rescue, but we were running out of time (we only get 2 hours on a Tuesday due to work and college commitments).
***** They call these Dinklebots. I don’t understand the reference, but they think it’s funny