Short answer is: Work. Man, I've been busy lately. Trying to finish a book proposal (with a bit of writer's block to work through), regular teaching, some committee and admin work, that sort of thing. All in all, I'm doing some pretty cool things. I can't complain about that.
Here's the latest thing I got involved in. Can you spot me?
Someone thought I should be on this search committee. How could I say no?
It's been a while since my last play update from the Lacuna Locurae campaign, and I'll be taking care of that now, if only briefly. A lot has happened.
The students in my face-to-face group returned to the colony's main port (Magyaru) carrying 300 pounds of gold purloined from a transmuted standing stone. They left approximately 11 tons more of it behind. This fact was discovered shortly thereafter by an Imperial patrol. It had come to their attention because the local tribes whose sacred site had been defiled started getting pissed off and fighty. It's funny how a weird bit of mercurial magic can cause ripple effects, isn't it? I anticipate that a war may be brewing. Further, the gold being brought in from the hinterlands has had the effect of inflating the local economy somewhat, but the larger effects will be felt in the Empire itself, and will take a long while to manifest (as the Spanish discovered during their colonial period). This assumes that the gold actually reaches the Empire, which is not as certain as it could be. I'll explain in a moment.
In the meantime, the PCs have made contact with a faction of the local underworld. They think it's The Thieves' Guild, but my guy feeling tells me that the situation is far, far more complicated, and the power structure of the city more complex. They've made an alliance, and chosen a side. This may later have repercussions, once I determine what other powers might also be at play. They changed their gold for silver coin, and (of course) paid extravagantly for the service. Still, each PC was left with something like 5,500 sp. Several of them pooled resources to buy a piece of property. They propose to build an inn in the Low City, and call it the Red Lily. It's being constructed, and will be done in a few months. They will, however, need some more money.
Their underworld contact, Molo Kratz, mentioned offhandedly that the Empire's "black ship" would be arriving soon, to transport the many tons of fine gold back to Ur-Hadad. As I hoped they might, the players saw this as a great opportunity to sate their avarice, and began to hatch a plan.
It also became quite clear that they PCs would need help to pull this off. Molo Kratz provided some logistical help and advice (for a percentage of the take). He, of course, had been playing these fish, and knew he'd get his cut from the very start. The PCs are pretty green, and don't really understand how dangerous these people are. Later, one of the PCs, a thief, got a bit big for her britches and, while conversing with Molo, got from me one of the creepiest monologues I've ever delievered as a Judge. He let the PC know that the partnership was for HIS convenience, not theirs; that they were potentially partners, and not partners in fact, and still being tested; and that he could easily remove them from the board, should they disrespect him. Very menacing.
So, the plan is something like this. Wait for the Black Ship to arrive. Take out some of the sailors from the ship. Get on the rolls at the Seaman's Guild, and replace them. Being low-level jamokes, they couldn't do it without aid, and sought the help of Mr. Kratz and his associates. They also sought the help a wizard, one Amor Ba-Gish, a creepy little fucker whose "help" can only be bought for future obligations, not gold. They will owe him a favor, later. To ensure they don't take the ship, he has poisoned them with a toxin that will liquify their innards in exactly 10 days, if they don't return to him for the antidote. He provides them with arcane means to (a) slow time and (b) to make dense fog and (c) to Sleep a ship's crew.
Long story short, the Molo Kratz's guys demonstrated frightening efficiency in taking out the 12 sailors. The PCs managed to pass for competent replacements. Red Tarza, a notorious pirate, was asked to help out. She agreed, for a suitable cut. This negotiation was through Kratz. They also noticed that the Imperial legation included someone who appeared to maybe be a wizard. Hmm... perhaps this is going to be a bit more complicated than they thought... Also, the ship has a contingent of Imperial Marines. I really, really, hope that Sleep concoction the brought aboard is effective. It would be a shame if lots of their potential foes make saving throws, wouldn't it?
Next session: The Heist. If they pull it off, they'll be stupidly rich. They also will contribute to a ridiculously inflated local economy, become high-value criminals hunted by the Empire's thief catchers, be drawn into the machinations of Molo Kratz and Red Tarza, and owe a favor to a particularly nasty wizard. What could go wrong?