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Lisa

Eternal Lies SPOILERS GMs ONLY

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nclarke

The airports zip file of props seems to be missing as it gives a No File result when trying to download it.

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Lisa

Thanks! Any odds of comments on how the new run goes?

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JustinAlexander

File has been fixed!

 

Surprisingly similar to the last run (at least in the broad strokes):

 

- Went to Savannah.
- Actually chased the Bangkok cultists out of Savannah (this was new), but gave up when they took a pond-jumper to Europe.

- Went to LA.

- Bailed on LA "early" to pursue leads to Ethiopia. (Key difference is first group deliberately bailed because it was too tough; second group somehow concluded they'd learned everything there was to learn without really scratching the main cult.)
- Prioritized Axum over Dallol.
- Are now on their way to Dallol.

There's been a long delay because one of the players left the group to take a job in a different country; and that delayed things until another player had to take a sabbatical to study for the bar exam. But I'm hoping things are getting back on track now.

Perhaps the most interesting detour, though, was in LA where they made a point of tracking down the hotel where the 1924 investigators made their reservations. They were willing to spend a bunch of points to make it happen, eventually putting them in touch with the house detective and getting their hands on undeveloped rolls of film that had been lost in the hotel's Lost and Found room. This mostly duplicated clues they could have picked up elsewhere, but they've ended up sending a telegram to the house detective and asking him to investigate Jack PIzner (who had harassed them while they were on their way to the airport) while they're out of town.

 

I'll be interested to see how that plays out.

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Lisa

Fascinating. What is the house detective likely to learn, and is he going to get flipped or suffer a Horrible Fate?

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JustinAlexander

They hadn't actually identified who Jack Pizner was, so Larry Tuten (the detective) was hired to figure that out. Tuten did so and sent them the information via telegram.

Not sure if they'll return to LA and pull on that thread after Ethiopia or not.

 

At the moment, they've decided they need to pursue the members of the Guardians who were drafted into the Ethiopian army. It's December 1935, though, so they'd be walking directly into a warzone between Italy and Ethiopia at Walwal. They might still get sidetracked to Ayers and then decide they don't need to do that after all; but I'm currently low-key brainstorming ideas for what a scenario down at Walwal might look like.

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Lisa

Wow. Me, I'd be all boring and probably have the relevant folks already be dead so I didn't have to make up more stuff about their lore. I'd probably also tell the players this was likely the case as someone would have the relevant Investigation skill. I'm looking forward to learning what more interesting things can be done with this.

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JustinAlexander

So one of the things I did in the remix (a least I'm pretty sure this is something I made up for the remix) was to split the Guardians up into three factions, each of which was charged with protecting one piece of powerful lore:

 

- The Spell to Open the Sky
- The volcano spell
- The Rituals of Self-Denial

The idea being that the Guardians of the first group would still be around (to give an additional angle for getting that spell). The other two would have been scooped up for the war effort to either (a) keep the volcano spell out of PC hands or (B) preserve the big reward for ultimately tracking down Ayers. (Otherwise I considered it quite likely that the PCs could get on friendly terms with the Guardians and then there was no logical reason the Guardians wouldn't share the rituals of self-denial with them as they had with Ayers.)

The intention was very much "they're at war, so they're not available". The first group followed that logic as anticipated and said, "Never mind." This group is a bit more persistent in their desire to get their hands on these rites (and any other pertinent knowledge these other groups of Guardians might have). I was initially thinking that, yeah, the volcano group would be wiped out during the Walwal fight, but, sure, they'll be able to get their hands on the Rituals of Self-Denial with this extra bit of effort, because why not?

But recently I've been thinking about summoning a volcano on top of Mt. Kailash and I'm thinking that might not be such a bad idea. (It's not like they can reasonably use the volcano anywhere else in the campaign; I'd make it a time-consuming ritual and it's not like they're going to willingly blow up the middle of a city... presumably.)

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Lisa

You've... met PCs, right?

 

Actually, different question: Can they summon a volcano ex nihilo? Or can they make a pre-existing volcano erupt?

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Hobbo

Hello everyone! I'm new to Yog Sothoth, and have been running Eternal Lies for my group since this January, using the wonderful Alexandrian remix. We're playing roughly every two months, for whole day ~10 hr sessions, and are about to begin session 5. 

 

I'm just looking to give you a flavour of my game so far, and to ask for some ideas on some antagonist reactions to events so far!

 

First and foremost, thanks so much to Justin for all the hard work on the remix. The changes to the campaign revelations improve it immeasurably, as do the wonderfully produced props. My players are swimming in discovered paperwork and are loving it!

 

So far, my players have followed Savannah and LA roughly you would expect, leaving LA with a raid on Trammell's mansion which killed both Trammel and Walker, and collapsed the house on the Mouth. 

 

They then went to Mexico, finding the campaign clue and sneaking in to the hidden recording studio and killing Leticia but leaving Brooks and the Mouth unscathed. 

 

In Bangkok, they scoured the exterior of Lowman's flat and the death match (and caught a glance of Thawi), but instead headed out to Ko Kruk, where a brilliantly atmospheric game of cat and mouse with Savitree played out. She tried to starve them out, but ended up cornered and went down fighting. They have taken her research, and headed back to the mainland, where they camped out on the road between Pattaya and Bangkok, waiting for Thawi or Lowman. Thawi was first along, who was promptly shot off the road, with car and body pushed in to the sea. 

 

And that's where we're picking up at the start of next session. As you've probably picked up, their strategy so far is to kill cult leaders and personnel, but leaving the Mouths (as they aren't sure how to defeat these yet).  I know their next step is planned to kill Lowman quickly and then flee Bangkok. 

 

So to counter their approach, and make clear that the cult will still flourish (albeit more slowly) without these leaders, I've introduced Sophia, a survivor of the LA raid, who has snapped up the land of Trammell's estate and has reached out to Lowman/Savitree for funding and guidance on how to rebuild the Nectar empire (my investigators have already found some correspondence on this). I'm expecting temporary shipments across the Atlantic to be added from Malta too. 

 

In Bangkok, with none of Savitree, Thawi or Lowman, I'm imagining the toughest of Thawi's thugs will start running the show, leading to Naphung spilling out on to the streets of Bangkok and beyond. They might pick this up in newspaper reports. 

 

I am having the most  trouble with Brooks's reaction, so I'd welcome any ideas you might have on this part! In my mind, he will be utterly distraught with the loss of Leticia, and perhaps less interested in the Mouth without her. I could see him leaving Konavalov or someone else in charge of operations in Mexico City - and they might do a better job than him on this front. 

 

He would clearly want revenge on the investigators - and they now have a clear bounty on their head in Mexico, but I'm not sure how far his influence would reach beyond that. 

 

My instinct is that he would then follow Dominguez out to the Yucatan to seek his god. But I'm not sure how much another expedition led by Brooks would add to this locale, or how to make a confrontation with the Investigators here feel narratively climatic. I'm also not sure about just having him milling around Merida - it feels like he'd be weak and exposed whichever way I play him there. 

 

So - any thoughts on how to integrate Brooks in to the Yucatan? Or any other ideas on his likely reactions to events so far?  

 

Thanks for reading this far :)

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JustinAlexander

Brooks has money and has a penchant for hiring people to do his work for him. So you can make him dangerous by having him pursue the same tactics, right? Hire a crew of muscle to come after them. (And maybe he keeps his distance and just keeps doing that until they can figure out how to track him down again.)

The other approach you could try would be for Brooks to believe that he needs to get to Chichen Xoxul to get the power he needs to seek vengeance on the PCs. So he mounts another expedition and either (a) gets tangled up in the temporal shenanigans at Chichen Xoxul or (b) becomes a cautionary tale about the other forces seeking to protect Chichen Xoxul's secrets. (Maybe the Xoxul cultists, realizing he's somehow connected to the PCs, murder him, stash his body in one of the PCs' beds, and frames them for his murder as a way of interfering with their expedition.)

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Hobbo

Thanks, that's helpful. 

 

In the end, the group interrogated Lowman, found out about the movements of the EBA, and headed to Severn Valley to try and intercept them - not what I was expecting! 

 

Had some great creepy moments at Deepfall Lake. Thr group ended up spotting Soliman across the lake seeking shelter back in his tomb from the sunlight, and ended up gunning him down, but not before he laid hands on one of the party! Tomb Herd machinations ensued, including looping them back to keep them at the lake. All went down brilliantly with the players! 

 

Thanks for the thoughts on Brooks. I love the idea of Brooks dead as a warning - very creepy, and makes the players ask all sorts of questions about the different factions at play (up until now, they have kind of been assuming that all the supernatural entities are part of one cult, although the Glaaki stuff is challenging that.)

 

So I think I'll have them catch wind of Brooks moving to the Yucatan, and then a potential encounter with some hired muscle if they go to Merida, before the grisly discovery...

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ATHooks

My run of Eternal Lies is off to a somewhat messy start. Having just escaped a gun battle with the LAPD, my players are fleeing to the Severn Valley. (Walker sent the cops to intimidate them, and things got way, way out of hand. It was fun, if completely unexpected.)

 

Obviously, I'm using material from the Alexandrian remix. Thanks, Justin! I can't emphasize enough how impressed I am with it or how much help it's been. I am a little confused about the setup for the Severn Valley. I think I'm getting lost in the node structure, and am wondering if anyone has a more narrative summary or detailed play through of just this section of the game. I've looked around a great deal and haven't found anything that goes into much detail.

 

My people will be arriving in England this weekend, assuming they don't get into another shoot-out with law enforcement while en route. I'm hoping to be prepared. Thanks!

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Hobbo

Hiya,

 

Interested in hearing about your game! What route have your players taken so far? How did they find out about the Severn Valley?

 

Happy to give a write up of my SV experience in play...

 

So my players arrived trying to intercept the EBA, not having been to Axum first. 

 

This means they spent the first few in-game hours charging around locations mentioned in Savitree's Notes looking for signs of them, so a quick trip to Brichester (the antiquarian in the party immediately seeking out an old bookshop and finding Yellowtree Books and its Revelation of Glaaki). Then to Deepfall Lake (vitally not inspecting the houses), then Severnford (not visiting the island), then back to Brichester, where they eventually caught wind from the owner of the Brichester Arms that they had checked out a few days prior. 

 

They then returned to Deepfall Lake, and really started inspecting the properties. With some of them sighting Glaaki watching on from the lake, and lots of atmosphere, this was wonderfully creepy. They grabbed many of the clues from the houses, leaving the violet cube undisturbed, before spotting Soliman across the lake. I had him returning to his tomb beside the lake as a form of comfort/confused action of his meddled mind. 

 

A couple of the party left the lakeside to investigate the path, and then had a nice brutal combat encounter with the Glakeen Soliman, managing to just bring him down, but with a connection to the Tomb Herd established. 

 

The party tried to flee at pace but found the roads circling back - which was wonderful drama!! They kept trying and spent the afternoon and evening reading the Revelations to try and find an escape, until I had the Tomb Herd eventually let them out as the linked member of the group got drowsy. 

 

That night I hit the linked player with dreams of Deepfall, Soliman's memories, and the Revelation of the Herd.

 

The next morning I had Tricia's letter arrive, with the encounter at Mercy Hill ensuing, including being entrusted with Volume XII and its key information. Following that, the party had a chat with Orwell Sangster and looked in to the fate of Daryl Owens, before deciding to tackle Temphill.

 

Their first go at the Church on the High Street was a slow atmospheric exploration of the church, up to the crystalline clock at the top where they heard the whistling. I had the player who looked out the windows have a brief flickering glimpse of the City, red shiny bodies on the ground. They didn't find Copeland's device. 

 

After a debrief in the pub and research on Copeland and the church, I had the Tomb herd send another brief vision to the linked player - just of themselves in damp darkness of the catacombs. This was enough to send them back to the Church for round 2, looking for passages underground. 

 

They found the pew passage, then after exploring the tunnels for a while, 2 characters stepped out due to claustrophobia. The remaining 3 characters approached the portal, tried to run, but were captured and held by the Tomb Herd overnight. 

 

The two characters outside frantically tried to find them, but to no avail, until they were discovered the next morning wandering out the church with deep convictions that they needed to return to Deepfall Lake. There was a bit of an interparty scuffle, a taxi hailed for Deepfall by one player chased and crashed in to en route by the rest of the party, some tranquillisers administered, and then an escape back to London, finishing with the looking up of the diaries of Marcus Laughton, providing a strange context for everything they'd encountered in England. 

 

My players really enjoyed the weirdness of SV, which is a notch or two up on the Mythos scale when compared to the other locales. They're now, in their own words, back to good old cult mob murdering in Malta :)

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ATHooks

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! Sorry it took me a bit longer…

 

I am really grateful for what you posted here. It is exactly what I was looking for and will be enormously helpful! It sounds like you had a fun play-through. I'm looking forward to some otherworldly weirdness myself…

 

It's early in my game, but my players hit on Severn Valley through a throwaway reference I had a character make while the PCs were researching Ayers at UCLA. It was one of those improvised moments that comes back to haunt you later. They don't even know from Ramsey Campbell, but they put what I said together with the fact that Ayers's itinerary lists several stops in England, and they decided it must be a very important locale.

 

As far as how they got there… Our play-through followed the established path at first. I did change the setting of that first meeting with Janet Winston-Rodgers to a shadowy office on the top floor of a newly built skyscraper. I found the idea of the hangar to be a little awkward, and decided to play up a sort of a noirish, urban vibe. I used the office to emphasize that the Winston business was a drug company. I thought that doing so made some interesting connections with the idea of nectar. Though I didn't mention nectar then, and I intend for it to remain a thematic link only. (I will not have Winston Pharmaceuticals marketing the stuff. ;))

 

After the opening scene, everything ran the standard route. The PCs got better acquainted, and then headed straight to Savannah. They hit the Henslowe estate right away, were impressed by the swampy atmosphere, and were intrigued by Caruthers's reticence. Having been turned away by him, they headed to Joy Grove.

 

We had some fun there, as one of the players took to snooping around, while the rest of the party toured the grounds and had a few creepy moments. The sneaky player got lucky with some combined Interpersonal-Filching moves and walked away with Job's and Henslowe's files.The other players had a good interview with Henslowe. I had Job rattle off some weird stuff about Set Theory, which they seemed to find compelling.

 

They headed back to Henslowe's estate. They got into the graveyard puzzle and solved it fairly quickly. They were impressed with Henslowe's journal and ready to hit Long Beach right away.

 

They had an entertaining run-in with Savitree's thugs. (One player is a Hobo who'd just been gifted a new suit. He missed a stability roll, panicked and ran off into the swamp, stumbled, fell into the fetid water…and that was the end of the suit.) In retrospect, I should have caught onto something though: some of the PCs have very itchy trigger fingers. Only one was packing heat at that point, but she unceremoniously opened fire on the thugs after only a couple of punches had been exchanged.

 

They headed for Long Beach. I was impressed by how smoothly they navigated through the story. They soon had Henslowe's box, but took little interest in Ecchavaria, aside from his farm. I'd written in a bit, where a character stumbles across a mummified body with a Minor Mouth calcified in it. My idea was that the cultists had buried the corpse there, and the construction crew had almost dug it up before they abandoned the site.

 

Everyone seemed to like that part a lot. They also got interested in Pizner, who blew his very first attempt at shadowing them. They encountered him a couple more times before he finally got frustrated, threw money at them, and told them to leave town. The PCs were pleased with this windfall. They were already planning to leave town anyway, as they'd followed up on Ayers right after visiting the farm. They had his itinerary and notes and decided Ethiopia made sense.

 

I was disappointed that they were going to miss out on Trammel, short-term at least, but was eager to see what they'd do. One PC is a retired soldier, and he insisted on stopping to call the cops before leaving town. He told them everything they knew about everything. He felt it was his civic duty. I decided that this might throw up some red flags for Walker, who would already be onto them. I had him send some cops to intercept them as they made a last stop at UCLA before leaving for Ethiopia.

 

The hobo has been doing a really good job of playing unhinged, and it's been fun, but he decided the cops must be cultists. He and the soldier made some spectacular rolls while under arrest, leading to a car accident and a gun battle in the L.A. streets. Our bookish Astronomer was arrested, while the pulpier characters fled to San Diego on the Silver Sable. Our resident scholar was left behind, perusing the UCLA lot of forbidden tomes. In other words, the party is now deeply split.

 

Basically, that's where we left it. Our dilettante has a very high Credit Rating, which she used to get the Astronomer out on bail, but he's stuck in L.A. So is the scholar, who's still processing what he read in the Rift of the Maw, etc. Janet-Winston Rodgers is brassed off and will be reading the PCs the Riot Act before they go anywhere. Otherwise I'm still trying to work out what I'm going to do with all this. I think their current impulse to flee the country will be helpful to me. I'm hoping to course correct a bit. It's been fun, but achieved a kind of lunacy that is hard to track.

 

Good luck with Malta. I hope to hear how it goes for you…Thanks again!

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JustinAlexander
1 hour ago, ATHooks said:

I used the office to emphasize that the Winston business was a drug company. I thought that doing so made some interesting connections with the idea of nectar.

 

You've just given me the idea of Janet Winston-Rogers learning about Nectar from the PCs' reports, "going evil", contacting Trammel or Donovan, and putting Nectar into mass production through Rogers Consolidated.

 

Or a version of the campaign where that was always her agenda.

In my current campaign I've put the various Sources of Stability and Janet on "Tension meters" -- basically, as bad stuff begins impacting them as a result of the PCs' investigation, their tension will go up. If the PCs don't mitigate the tension, they'll lose them. But I could easily see Winston-Rogers -- haunted by recurring dreams and visions of a voracious maw -- hardening against her father's secrecy, etc. etc. etc.

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Lisa

I could definitely use a scene-map diagram of the Severn Valley section. I had trouble wrapping my mind around how it works in play.

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Lisa
9 hours ago, JustinAlexander said:

In my current campaign I've put the various Sources of Stability and Janet on "Tension meters" -- basically, as bad stuff begins impacting them as a result of the PCs' investigation, their tension will go up. If the PCs don't mitigate the tension, they'll lose them. But I could easily see Winston-Rogers -- haunted by recurring dreams and visions of a voracious maw -- hardening against her father's secrecy, etc. etc. etc.

 

How do your Tension meters work? Is this online anywhere?

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ATHooks
9 hours ago, JustinAlexander said:

You've just given me the idea of Janet Winston-Rogers learning about Nectar from the PCs' reports, "going evil", contacting Trammel or Donovan, and putting Nectar into mass production through Rogers Consolidated.

 

Or a version of the campaign where that was always her agenda.

In my current campaign I've put the various Sources of Stability and Janet on "Tension meters" -- basically, as bad stuff begins impacting them as a result of the PCs' investigation, their tension will go up. If the PCs don't mitigate the tension, they'll lose them. But I could easily see Winston-Rogers -- haunted by recurring dreams and visions of a voracious maw -- hardening against her father's secrecy, etc. etc. etc.

 

The tension meter is a really interesting idea...I'm thinking of something like the heat index for Ethiopia? 

 

Janet Winston-Rodgers has become a pretty useful character for me, narratively. It's kind of fun to use her as a foil to various impulses the characters have, but I could probably be doing more with her as a character. I can see her as "evil" as well, and the PCs are pretty suspicious of her, despite the fact that she's a source of stability for my hobo, after picking him up off the streets. (She bought him the new suit...) 

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JustinAlexander
8 hours ago, Lisa said:

How do your Tension meters work? Is this online anywhere?

 

It's not. There's not much structure to it: Basically whenever something happens that I feel would increase the Tension in the Source's relationship with the PC, I give them 1-2 tension (whether it's a mild incident or a severe incident). If a Source gets to 3 tension, they cut off the PC. The primary advantage is that I can just jot down a list of numbers on my campaign status sheet to quickly summarize how their relationships with the various Sources are progressing.

 

The raw material for these incidents is largely drawn from the Act II stuff in the campaign itself. The way EL packages scenes aimed at your Sources is a really great way of tying your characters into a published campaign, IMO.

 

8 hours ago, Lisa said:

I could definitely use a scene-map diagram of the Severn Valley section. I had trouble wrapping my mind around how it works in play.

 

I'm not sure how useful you'll find it, but...

 

Severn Valley - Node Map.jpg

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Lisa

Thanks -- it gives me a place to start. I think I need to reread the section. I'm a little vague on what the PCs' goals there should theoretically be there and how they can achieve them (and survive to move on to the next location...)

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JustinAlexander

Those kinds of overloaded graphics is why I've largely eschewed visual mapping for my scenarios and rely on the text-based Revelation List.

 

There are basically two ways to organize revelation lists: You can list all the clues a node contains or you can list all the clues that point at the node. I often use the former when outlining/developing a scenario, but for actual run-time it's the latter that I find essential.

 

(1) I generally don't care if the PCs have missed the clues in their current location, but I do care intensely about whether or not they've missed all the clues necessary to find a node. That's what I need to track during actual game play, and it's also the information that's more difficult to glean on-the-fly without a properly organized revelation list because...

 

(2) The information about which clues exist in a node is already encoded in the text: The clues are listed in the node, right? Because that's where they are.

 

In terms of grokking how a scenario "works", it may be slightly more intuitive for some people to look at the list of clues a node contains and then follow where they lead. (It is, after all, how the PCs will think their way through the scenario.) But you can get the same basic effect from the revelation list here: You just need to work backwards. So look at a node and ask, "How would the PCs get here?" Then work your way backwards.

 

So, for example, the Isle of Severnford. How do the PCs get here? Pick one at random. The Obelisk at the Church in High Street. Okay, so how do they find the Church in High Street? Either the scrap of paper from the Deepfall Lake cabins or researching the sculptor of the Deepfall Lake tombs. How do they get to Deepfall Lake? Tracking the EBA and learning that they've gone there.

 

Go back to the Isle of Severnford. How else could they have gotten here? Letter from Tricia Piper. That's a proactive node and it can "arrive at any time", so you can trigger it whenever.

 

Do this a half dozen times or so and you'll start getting a feel for the contours of the scenario structure.

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Lisa

It's more the shape of the locale. I mean, I get Savannah. They can check out two locations, and might have one combat encounter. Well, two if you want the local wildlife.

 

LA is a nexus, and I'm confused about the interaction between the crooked cops and the ones the PCs might seek out and get a pool of Cop Talk from, but again, I understand how they travel from point A to point B, and how they physically move. Malta, New Mexico, same thing, only easier. Bangkok slightly harder because there are 2 centers, but I understand it enough to know how I tweak it. And so on -- I'm not asking myself "Wait, is space bent back on itself? Is this a TPK however you slice it?"

 

Which means I need to reread the section, slowly, and make notes. I'm not confused about how they get to the Severn Valley, more... is space normal? Is it a death trap? How do they get out of it again? I'm guessing it's all in there and I read it too fast the first time, and haven't read it again since then.

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Hobbo
1 hour ago, Lisa said:

Is space normal? Is it a death trap? How do they get out of it again? 

 

Yeah, it is all in there - and also some narrative on the Alexandrian hosting page on the doubling of time.

 

In brief, space is not normal in the SV, Glaaki and his cultists have doubled time and space around Deepfall, pushing Earth on to an alternate time line where Brichester et al exists. 

 

Is it a death trap, not by default, but both Glaaki and the stone at Sevenford are dangerous. 

 

How do they get out of it? They just leave... potentially with characters with a psychic link to the tomb herd being sedated and/or blind folded if the Tomb Herd are turning the roads back.

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JustinAlexander

In actually running the scenario, the macro-fold in space isn't something to worry about too much: For purposes of reality, Brichester exists. The fact that it shouldn't exist is an existential horror that doesn't change its essential nature. It's literally as if I said, "Chicago isn't supposed to exist." in our world. That's deeply disturbing (and it might even drive you mad as you investigate the subtle clues which prove it true), but for the most part... Chicago is just there. Being a city.

There is some dimension-bending stuff in individual locations, but its effects are local and should be fairly well explained in those locations.

As Hobbo says, escaping the Severn Valley isn't an ordeal. You just go. There's nothing holding the PCs there except their curiosity.

 

Functionally, Severn Valley simply... exists. It doesn't have a big finale or anything (although the PCs might end up constructing one for themselves). In terms of achieving goals, the PCs can piece together what happened to the EBA and they can glean lore surrounding Glaaki, its Revelations, and its Prisoner which may help elucidate other aspects of the campaign. But while the valley is intensely interconnected, it is not particularly "active" in a structural sense (unless the PCs make it so through their actions).

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chicklewis

I'm feeling stupid again.  I cannot figure out where to find the translation of the lower part of the album cover which is said to be called: "Reference - Create Hyperspace Gate".  Please advise, as there is a decent chance my players will crack that code  in the session tomorrow.

 

Thanks in advance for the ongoing invaluable assistance.

 

Chick

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