Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ken Follett's 'World Without End'

Well, here's the first post of '09. Happy New Year to everyone! Here's hoping for a peaceful and prosperous new year...

You're probably thinking that this is going to be a post about the book 'World Without End' eh? I hope I'm not going to disappoint you but it's not. What it IS about though is how it shaped my Labyrinth Lord game.

A bit of a preface is likely apropos at this point; My wife of over 15 years is absolutely accepting of my role playing proclivities, but she's only ever once partaken in role playing, and that was a Shadowrun game many many years ago. (before we were married) She tried it and was disappointed when she was told what "her" contact said. To be completely truthful, she's never had much patience with sitting around for more than an hour or two. A movie is about max. A good book is the exception, she can wrap up with an excellent story for hours upon hours.

Anyway, my daughters have been playing Labyrinth Lord with me and in the interest of getting a game in during our weekend stay in the mountains, I brought my gear with me. Turns out my wife finished her book, 'World Without End' and was bored. I don't know what possessed me but I thought I'd ask her if she wanted to play, knowing full well that she'd quite likely laugh and politely turn me down. She's a sweet heart and I love her to death for putting up with my hobbies.

Surprise of surprise, she accepted and said she'd like to play a sorceress. I scrambled and started rolling one up for her, knowing that the character creation process would frustrate and bore her. As I pulled the dice out she mentioned that she'd play anything. So I rolled some dice and came up with an Amazonian-like fighter, replete with an extraordinary strength of 18! Yeah man, no cheating required.

We played about an hour after I finished her character; Isabella. I couldn't believe it, my wife was sitting and PLAYING at the same table as my daughters and me. It was astounding and ground breaking.

It was awesome! And was exactly what my daughters needed, a little adult guidance and wisdom.

Following is a rough recap of that nights events:

Isabella - Female Human Fighter level 2
Ember - Female 1/2 elven Cleric level 2
Safira - Female Ice Elf level 2 (I know, I've been calling her Safara for eldest just corrected me the other night.)

The Gathering Festival was held under the great Oak near the edge of town. Due to the free food and drink, nearly the entire population of Botkinburg was in attendance. As well as food and drink there were competitions aplenty. A knife throwing contest attracts all of the martial crowd and this is where Safira meets Isabella as the elf wins the respect of the tall Amazon by winning the competition easily. They strike up a conversation and one thing follows another...Isabella is now part of the group.

All the while the party is speaking to potential hiring prospects and they find quite a few willing individuals who will all meet in 4 days time back at the Bent Hook.

Days flow past and random little chores are accomplished and minor gear is replenished. A few rumors are followed up during the interim. One of them being the sighting of Lisa Schuler, a farmer's wife, across the river on a couple of different occasions.

Visiting the Schuler farmstead, a ramshackle two-story building with a horde of 1/2 dressed children scampering about nets an interesting conversation with Mr. Schuler. It seems that Lisa has possibly been poisoning Mr. Schuler! Isabella finagles a small sample of Mr. Schuler's drink to test for poison.

The group goes to the Chancel and speaks with the good friar. The holy man casts a spell and confirms that indeed the drink is slightly poisoned but he tells them that w/out proof that Lisa is behind it, he can do nothing, and besides, it's not really his place to do much other than heal Mr. Schuler. They must go to the Sheriff with this information if they can provide proof.

While at the Chancel the party visits the ailing priest who's hired Fura, the halfling they met in the field on their way into town a few days ago. His physical appearance supports Fura's reports, he's thin as a rail and speaks in a barely more than a whisper. Ember and Safira ask him about his mission and he informs them that he's from a church far to the east and north, in the City State. Many many years ago the church was broken into and had its most important religious artifacts stolen. It's been his life's work to track them down and recover them. He's been successful for the most part and near the end of his life he only has a few more items to find.

His trail has led him here, to Botkinburg, in order to track down a man who is rumored to have access to much information. This man is known as the Hermit and he's supposedly exiled himself from society and is now a recluse in the Tangle Downs somewhere. This is the man Fura has been hired to find.

The order's patron is Saint George Gyxag! Gasping simultaneously, the girls pull out the statue and the old priests eyes water as he nods, yes he says, this is his patron. He asks where they found this and the girls say that they've just returned from an expedition to the Ruined Monastery in the Tangle Downs and that the rumor is it was built long ago by a priest from far to the west.

They then proceed to tell him the story of the key and the black door and the red caps, with Melchert, their leader, who are frantically working to find access to the black door. The rest of their items didn't seem to hold the old priest's interest but the door he said could very well be his tomb. And this was most certainly where his church's saint had disappeared to. This was a marvelous find! As the old man drifted back off to sleep he smiled and said that his choice in Fura was obviously the right one, for the halfling had obviously chosen his comrades wisely.

A little later that day the girls went to visit the goatherd that had reported seeing Lisa across the river. He didn't have much to add other than he saw her in the morning at the river's edge as if she were looking for something...the mists then rose and he lost sight of her.

The second townsman who claimed he saw here was Gunderman, the loon who lived in a house half falling into the river. As they approached they spied him sitting upon his roof, feet dangling in the water, fishing pole firmly ensconced in his fist. He greeted them warmly and told them that he had seen Lisa in the evening but he didn't have much more to add...unless of course they had a few coins to spare. 3 pieces of gold would buy them more information if they returned later.

Turns out that Gunderman has an aquatic green-skinned female friend from the river that has seen Lisa cross the river by summoning a giant gar with a small flute made of river reed. Lisa doesn't have the skill to produce a thing such as that and Gunderman couldn't think of anyone else who might be able to make such a thing. All this information though comes from Gunderman, who keeps his relationship with the river faerie hidden. (Safira spied upon him to discover who was providing the info.)

Now armed with all of this information the girls decide that they're going to hide on the river's edge and wait for Lisa. It is late when she appears, but as expected she pulls a small flute from her satchel and blows a few notes. Not much later a large shape emerges from the water of the Hruesen. Sitting astride it she crosses the wide river.

The girls wait. Just as the sky is turning pearly grey the notes of the flute are heard again and Lisa returns. They spring out to surround her and at first she flatly denies any of the poisoning alligations and says that no one would believe in the story of her crossing the river on a gar. But she drops the charade and says that if they mess with her that her allies will eventually make life hell for them. They ignore her and take her satchel, in which they find a couple of small vials, the flute and a few other small trinkets.

Lisa dives for the flute but her arm is kicked by Isabella as the flute is grabbed by Ember. She then makes a break for the river, running full out.

And there we pause our game. (we played the last portion of this in the car on the drive down from the mountains and I didn't have any dice we paused in that rather odd spot.)


NOTE: I do have to say that my wife is quite bright and intuitive when playing. She's a wonderful addition to the game. I'm not too confident that she'll be a consistent part of the game but nonetheless, it was a pure pleasure to have her to game with.


Brunomac said...

Man, it has easily been more than 10 years since I had a romantic interest (girlfriend) in one of my games. And many times in my history I've had more female players than males. It's great when they take an interest in your hobby, but in a lot of ways it has also been nice to have this "underground" thing that I do without the woman in my life being there.

Gamer Dude said...

You know, it's funny, I've NEVER dated a girl who likes to game. So this is in essence a "first" for me. (I'm not counting the time she sat down to play Shadorun. There might have been some coercion there. "shrug")

And odd as it seems, I've really only ever played in a game with no more than one female at the table at any given time. And that was AGES ago, in university. I don't know what it is...I just have no luck finding games that girls play in. Hmmmm, wonder if that says something about my pit stick? ;-)

So I guess I'm essentially in the same boat as you, MOST of my games (until VERY recently) have been sans love interests. And to be truthful, most of my old girl friends and now my wife, were and are very understanding of my "odd" hobby. I'll tell you what though, it's cool having 4 "gamers" under one roof. You've got a ready-made group at hand nearly all the time, it's pretty sweet.