Saturday night is Fate
Stay Online Night!
While this session was initially imperilled by the dark dystopian forces of real life, the Fate-Breakers of <Shadow Puppetry> pushed through… albeit without the attendance of Mahar, our usual host, and a much later start time than intended thanks to worse-than-normal city traffic. It was my first time in Rachel’s spartan apartment, our temporary venue, but I quickly grew comfortable; what it lacks in furnishing it makes up for in mood. Around our quiet, dim, and isolated new table, the first question hit the table:
“So, what happened on your last adventure?”
Rachel and Pao deliberated: Alberic Sixwright and Luca Saturday had just come back from a deep dungeon expedition launched to gather materials, items, and team experience for an upcoming push into demon-held lands. They emerged with a large chunk of alloyed metal — once part of some ancient device — which Luca de-synthesised into craftable ingots to gain the advantage High Quality Materials on an upcoming Artifice roll of his choice.
Good timing, too, because where the two were heading after parting ways with the <Taztzelwurm> prepping party was the Succession Event of the legendary crafting AI, Omdahl. Succession Events happen when an AI announces retirement — Omdahl is retiring so he can join his fallen Stormbrothers in the eternal battlefields (ensuring the freedom of man) of the ageless Stormlord afterlife. However, Omdahl has also decided that he dislikes how his craft has been monopolised and monetised by the crafting syndicate guild, <The World Tree Organisation>, and so has given added incentive to participate in his event in the form of the Nidhogg Saw, his final invention, a replicable item that significantly reduces the difficulty of woodworking.
Naturally, this has pissed off the WTO, whom the players encounter in the city square of Talos. The WTO, dressed in grey robes and pounding staffs on the ground, have formed a picket line around the event square. “You Shall Not Pass!” is their standing cry against the angry crowds of lower-tier players trying to break through. Too bad no PVP is allowed in this zone.
As a Day One Player, Luca creates the advantage of remembering an underground tunnel system that ran under the square — a possible entry point. However, his search for it catches the attention of a WTO member who informs the party that The Tunnels Are Trapped and that entry into the square is thus impossible. Undeterred, Alberic and Luca split up to gather two full teams of players to storm the tunnels; Alberic notably recruits the notorious voidcallers Orphin Yvel and Two-Tone, while Luca meets up with fellow nightkin and professional smuggler, Escape Goat. Together, they best and disable the daunting array of traps in a testosterone-fuelled battle of speed and dexterity to open the path to the Succession Event for all interested players.
In the event square, they are welcomed by Cypher, Beloved Community Loremaster, who had arrived before the pickets were fully organised to stream the event live on Twitch. Also in the grounds is a team of Shielders from one of the progression guilds who had managed to force their way through. More people pour in through the tunnels to accept the timed event quest — to build a simple chair from the low-level rare resource, Morning Wood, a resource sadly actively bought out and excised from the market by the WTO in their effort to stop the event.
“Additionally,” reports Cypher, “Viewers on my stream are telling me that the nearby gathering points for Morning Wood are now actively guarded by <Angra Mainyu>.”
<Angra Mainyu> is the premier PVP guild on server. For players more accustomed to PVE content, fighting other players is no easy feat.
At least not without A Good Ol’ Fashioned Zerg. Alberic uses Cypher’s broadcast to deliver the plan to as many players as possible — overwhelm the PVPers with numbers and use the fight to allow woodcutters to harvest the material! With only four hours left before the event starts and an hour spent accumulating the zerg, Time is Against Them. The make-shift army marches out of Talos north gate — a sight not seen in the city since the demons were first forced out. The excitement of the event and the general annoyance at the WTO only makes their ranks swell.
By the time the “army” arrives at the crags where the Morning Wood spawns, Alberic’s punitive force is in the hundreds. The defensible position of the crags, however, give them pause, so Luca and Escape Goat advance to scout and meet with the leader of the PVPers, Ilya Thaliénor, one of the warchiefs of <Angra Mainyu> and a Fanatical and Intense Saber-class character, who gives them the chance to turn back or suffer reprisal. “We’re Here for War,” she tells them, outlining that while other players garner enjoyment from other aspects of the game, she and those with her get theirs through glorious combat against human-controlled characters.
While Luca considers backing down, Escape Goat runs forward on his mount to force the issue — yippie Ki-yay! The crusaders can hardly resist the outstanding bounty on this Kill Target of <Angra Mainyu>. Provoking the enemy into revealing their positions, Escape Goat dies to a hail of fire.
Escape Goat’s death is immediately seen on the party status bar, and the zerg surges into battle. Ilya directs her forces from the safety of her command post, but Luca, upset enough already from constant contact with a vast array of celebrity players carrying unique titles, goads the PVP leader into accepting a challenge to single combat. Her expectation of making it a quick duel are stymied, however, and her moment away from the field heralds the arrival of an unexpected complication.
Trying to affect the flow of battle in their favour because of the kind treatment he’s received from Alberic despite his reputation as Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know, Orphin Yvel sends forth his Homunculus Born of Demon Magic, Mordred, who grows to gargantuan, grotesque size. While initially this gambit works to the zerg’s favour, the Unstable Nature of Using the Tools of the Enemy means Orphin loses control when an <Angra Mainyu> sniper takes his HP to zero unexpectedly. Two-Tone encases her master and herself in a shield of ice, but Mordred turns loose, his wild demonic presence in such a low-level zone creates chaos on the battlefield.
It is for this reason Ilya loses concentration, an opening Luca exploits to send a sheaf of knives to the unprotected skin at her neck. She dies with an expression of shock and rage — having died to somebody not even on the PVP leaderboards will be a status wound she carries with her well past re-spawn, but not as heavy a one as failing in her mission. She leaves Luca with a Dislocated Arm that will affect his crafting later.
The PVP crusader army, its leader downed, moves immediately to Plan B — Clear Cut! The zerg is caught between managing Mordred and upping their gathering efforts. It is here that a third faction, gatherers hired by THE Market Profiteer, Stacks, come to take their helping of Morning Wood. The contest for the lion’s share — enough to supply Succession Event’s participants — is fierce, but ends in Alberic the Plant Collector’s favour. The heroes return to Talos victorious!
The euphoria of triumph on the way back to Talos, however, transforms quickly to one of tension as Omdahl’s contest begins. Luca, injured, gives everything to succeed at attaining the unique title associated with Omdahl — using even the rare metal obtained at the start. Unfortunately, fatigue catches up to him; having remained online for too long in one stretch, Luca falls asleep midway through the competition, his entry half-finished. The WTO’s participating crafters also fail to take the prize, which goes to another AI, Perdix of Talos. Everyone who managed to accept the quest despite the WTO blockade also receives the Nidhogg Saw and the recipe to replicate it.
His work done, Omdahl thanks all the Fate-Breakers for the years they’ve worked together. A cadre of ghostly Stormlords appear and Omdahl is accepted into the afterlife where he will fight as One against the demons who wish to corrupt the Storm. The event, as well as Luca’s and Alberic’s part in making it more accessible, are recorded and archived by Cypher. The Retirement of Omdahl, the struggle against the WTO, and the birth of the Nidhogg Saw become part of Fate Online history.
All in all, a great session! Special thanks to John Aegard for providing me with the best opening question (“So, what happened on your last adventure?” ) and his amazing Dragonslaying on a Timetable article and to Jacob Possin’s Two-Hour Fate article (primarily the session budget idea, which I shall continue to use), which can be found in Vol2-1 of The Fate Codex ezine.
Next Fate Online, April 18th! As usual, I’ll be plugging info into the wiki between now and then. Thanks for reading!