Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Shadowrun - Other survivors and a ray of hope

The final instalment in the write up of the Shadowrun game I played in as a teen. Index here.

The game continued long after this, but I only wrote notes for these sessions.

~~~

By now, they were tired. They wanted to get back to the others to warn them about the drones and possible security risks. Drazen cut through the wall in hope to lose any pursuers. A medusa attacked them. Again, they were lucky to get away before the explosion.

An office slightly further down also had blood smeared across it, leading out the front. Drazen stuck his head out quickly to see where it led, and noticed guards exiting the lift. They ran down the offices in a slight panic. A medusa jumped from the ceiling at them, but 3 people appeared and laid into it with sticks. One was killed outright by the metal beast, but it was destroyed with Maya and Drazen's help.

They were pulled into the ceiling and held there in silence as guards and drones passed beneath them, heading towards the hot dog warehouse the others were fortified in. Once the danger had passed, Maya and Drazen insisted on rescuing their friends, whilst Dave, an ex-candy floss seller, and Renneck, a dwarf who had been Christmas shopping, waited in the roof panels. Between the group, all the security was killed, and Dave and Renneck led them into the ceilings. Jaz was still in no condition to be moved far, so Tark and Ryan stayed with her as the others were led through the air vents and similar shafts to the others in the small band of survivor. Cal, an office first aider, reluctantly attempted to patch up Keneda, the worst off of the group. A small girl called Mel, and an old woman known as 'Gran' also sheltered by the large fan in the freezing tunnels.

Meanwhile, a Medusa had discovered Ryan and had pulled him through the ceiling to the ground. Tark destroyed it with a spell, and Ryan and Jaz miraculously survived the ensuing explosion. As soon as Maya heard it, she insisted they returned. A stretcher was improvised from Keneda's climbing gear, and the Colonel agreed to carry her. Ryan was also fairly messed up again.

Back in the larger area the survivors lived, talk again was turning to escape. Mel offered to take Jaz's place as decker, but it was deemed too dangerous for her. Dave offered to lead Keneda, Maya, Tark and Drazen towards the monorail station, as Maya and Drazen (not pleased that Ryn had turned himself invisible and returned to the others without sending help) had heard explosions from that direction. Gryn, the man who'd been killed rescuing them, had been the only one who really knew the tunnels, but the path was fairly straightforward.

The going was slow, but a plan was formed: Tark and Ryn summoned lots of weak spirits, then Ryn turned the Colonel, Drazen and Maya invisible. Renneck threw grenades from an air vent into a security office whilst Tark cast an illusion of a group of shadowrunners running a different route to the one taken by the invisible people. Keneda shot anyone who came close to the illusion. The Colonel got the 3 into the monorail tunnel as a mage saw through Tark's illusion, and everything turned towards the 2 hidden in the air vents. A spirit, whose master was killed in astral combat by Tark, removed the invisibility spell from the Colonel, who was killed medusas in the tunnel, as Drazen and Maya sprayed bullets into the few blue-eyed guards at the end, by the hole they planned to escape through, and the spinning dervishes, medusas and spider drones surrounding them. Once the Colonel was dead, Drazen became visible. Droids started to attack him. Maya shot some as she ran to the exit, providing him with the chance to win, but she became visible and was also attacked. Drazen came to her rescue, and they bundled through the hole in the wall.

They were outside the arcology, but far from safe.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Birthing Debrief pt1

From the title of my previous post about the arrival of Ziggy (here), you probably twigged he was born on Christmas Day. Just.

This is the post where I'm going to go into a lot more detail of the labour and birth. If that doesn't interest you, here's a photo of the Cat. If you are interested, carry on reading below.

 

He was due on a Sunday. I had my 28 week appointment at 28+2, the Tuesday after the 28 week mark based on the due date. That afternoon, I developed Braxton Hicks 'practice contractions'. They'd build up until we thought labour was starting, then stop for 8-12 hours. This continued until the Saturday 6 days after he was due, when I felt a big shift in his position. He'd been beautifully head down and was close to engaged, back slightly to the side of perfect, so I was hopeful this was him (or it, as he still was at the time) getting fully engaged ready for labour. Contractions were 7 minutes apart for an hour. We kicked our roleplay group out and started clearing things ready to call the midwife. The contractions stopped.

Something was different when I woke the next morning. No contractions yet, but I knew this was the day labour would start. It was my big sister's birthday and I was a bit concerned it wasn't the most diplomatic day to arrive (though she would have been delighted). We met my younger siblings at a pub for lunch, then wandered back to brother's house for tea and chatting. Sister handed me niece, who was nearly 7 months at this point, and i sat and sniffed her head (sniffing the head of a newborn is said to help people go into labour. Of the old wives' tales on the subject, this is the only one I know anyone to have had any success with). Slowly, I became more confident that the contractions weren't Braxton Hicks any more, and Husbit and I headed home once more.

The midwife at the end of the line wasn't my midwife, and (given my niblings arrived in quick labours and based on what I described) she suspected I would have the baby if not that Sunday then certainly early enough on the Monday she'd be the one delivering it rather than my midwife. I was to call back as things progressed.

It becomes a bit of a blur after that.

She didn't come out until the Monday morning. My contractions still weren't fully regular, but the intensity was such she came to check. I was 2cm dilated, though she could already stretch me all the way to 10 (I gather this is unusual and suspect relates to my hypermobility). She checked and found he'd gone back to back, and did a membrane sweep (which I was due to have that day anyway). When the contractions started making me throw up, she reassured us that this was normal for some women, something about the muscles helping push on the baby. She advised feeding me teaspoons of honey, as the sugars are absorbed through the gums so even if I ended up unable to keep anything down, at least I'd have some energy going in. I became very grateful for this advice. The midwife then left, saying mine would come along as soon as her shift started, which she did.

My stepmum had stayed over the Sunday night, and my sister came to relieve her on the Monday. I remember asking Husbit for a back rub, and the Cat, clearly concerned hopping onto my back and kneading the exact area. I remember my midwife making me lie on my side during contractions to help him back to the right position, only once she'd said I could labour how I felt comfortable again (labouring on you side is painful) I went back on all fours and he went back to the wrong position. I remember the gas and air making me feel even more nauseated and high and slightly out of control. I remember the birthing pool was the only place I had any comfort or relief. I remember squatting in it with Husbit pouring new water in close enough to my lower back to soothe it, but ont so close as to scald me, and staring at my sister saying "I can't do this" with her holding my gaze and very calmly repeating "you can do this. You are doing this. This is what doing this feels like." She doesn't remember what she said, but it was the combination of her calm tone and the focussed eye contact as much as the words that helped me through.

 
Progress was so slow. I was barely 4cm dilated by the afternoon, my contractions weren't coming at sufficiently regular intervals, and weren't consistent strengths. It was real labour, but it wasn't a good one. My midwife broke my waters and said she'd check dilation again a bit later, but if I still wasn't far enough we'd need to go to hospital. Bang went my secret dream of him arriving in his sac, but I was too exhausted to regret it for more than a few seconds. It was a weird experience, and I had a brief panic that the shower curtain we'd laid over the sofa wasn't waterproof enough before deciding I didn't care (turns out it was fine). I remember finding it a surreal experience, and that the waters were really warm, but I don't remember much else until we got to the time my midwife had said she'd do her next examination. She started to say that she'd take a look, but as I turned my exhausted face to her she said she wouldn't bother: I wanted to go to hospital either way. I could barely nod agreement, then had the panic that I couldn't have gas and air in the car. Even though I'd hated it, I felt like I couldn't cope without. My sister had to leave at the same time, but fortunately my stepmum arrived just intime to accompany us. She sat in the back of our car with Husbit driving and me desperately sucking on the mouthpiece (unconnected, I actually found it gave more relief because I could breathe deeply with it without worrying about the side effects) beside her. It's a 15min drive down nice, wide roads, but I don't think a drive has ever been so frightening for Husbit.
 
My midwife met us at the hospital, helped me into a chair and I was wheeled to the delivery suite. I could tell we were there by the grunts, cries and screams behind the closed doors around us. They quickly found me a room and my midwife handed me over to a stranger. Somehow, I hadn't realised that coming to hospital meant giving up the midwife I'd built a relationship with, and part of me wanted to change my mind and try again at home. I knew I couldn't, but I didn't want Marghuerita to go. 
 
Among the other benefits of a homebirth is that my birthplan was pretty loose: I'd like to give birth at home, in the birthing pool. I don't want pethadine (family history of issues). I would like delayed cord clamping (default option for our local homebirth team). As for the injection to speed placenta delivery, we'll see how I feel when we get there. When the first of the hospital midwives took charge of me, she wrote down the ones still relevant: no pethadine and delayed cord clamping. She also asked us about cord cutting, and we offered that to my stepmum (as Husbit didn't want to do it), which she was delighted by. Husbit went to buy me some energy drink (something pink, either raspberry powerade or pink lucozade. I drank a lot of both over the next week). The anaesthesiologist arrived to talk me through the epidural, but she went faint and dizzy as she went to start the procedure so went home sick, meaning we had to wait for another to come over from the main hospital. This took so long and I was in so much clear distress that the midwife now in charge of me had talked me round on pethadine and had the needle in her hand when the replacement arrived. He went through all the spiel about the dangers etc, then very quickly fixed me up. He sprayed me with a cold spray to check it had worked - clearly had, because I remember giggling where it tickled my sides, though I couldn't tell the difference in where it should have taken effect, something the midwife noticed so she re-sprayed me more slowly after he'd left. She felt that the epidural wasn't quite even but not to worry about. I could still barely feel a difference between the affected and non-affected area, but it was enough. They examined me and found he'd swung into the correct position and I'd jumped to fully dilated in the time it had taken to give me the epidural, so while I was still in huge amounts of pain for 2 out of 3 contractions it had clearly worked.
 
I was now in the active, push push push stage. So I push push pushed. After an hour or so, he hadn't budged so they gave me an oxitocin drip. This switched up my contractions: the third weak contraction dropped away entirely, and one of the other 2 increased in strength, but he still wasn't moving. They upped my epidural a couple of times, though never so much I couldn't move my legs. They kept checking my pushing, telling me to push "like I was doing a poo" until I doubted my ability to defecate under normal circumstances (Husbit says he thought they were expecting me to actually poo - a common occurance in childbirth - and kept trying to explain to them I hadn't been able to keep any food down for over 24 hours so was unlikely to do so). Eventually, they got in a doctor, who checked, confirmed my contractions were still all over the place and that I was pushing correctly, he was just stuck. She said she'd be able to use forceps in the room and to call her back once I was prepped... I don't think it took long (though by this point I was so out of it I was sleeping through some contractions), but she'd been called into surgery when they went for her. I'd been anxious about being in stirrups, thinking I'd be working against gravity but the bed could be adjusted so that wasn't the case. I was in that active, push push push labour for 3 hours 56 minutes.

The consultant did eventually return. Very quickly, my epidural dose was increased (I heard the doctor tell me to do this, but was too tired so a midwife kindly did it for me) and I was snipped, the forceps inserted and I was instructed to push as they pulled. I was too exhausted. I had nothing left. The midwife pushed down on my bump for me. I must have dozed off immediately, because they'd told me to do nothing on the next contraction, but my experience was that that next contraction was the one where he arrived.

The floomph of his body leaving mine was intoxicating.

They switched off the epidural immediately. I heard Husbit and my stepmum's voices, but not the words. I heard someone - the doctor or a midwife, not sure - say he was a boy and I had enough time to think "but I wanted a girl! What if I can't bond with him?" before he was shoved up the hospital gown to land on my chest in a puddle of goo. I had two concurrent thoughts then. One at the weight of him: "That's not what a newborn feels like! No wonder I had trouble.".

The other thought, at the feel of him, the smell of him, the sight of him, was overwhelming, so powerful it must have deafened receiving telepaths and given all psychics a headache this county and the next one over.

"MINE!"

 

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Character A-Z: B is for Buffy

It's a little while since I posted the first of these, but despite appearances I hadn't forgotten! 

I thought this would be a nice, easy thing to work on with Ziggy still so young, but between him and the Cat this isn't going smoothly at all! I don't know what it is about typing, but Kitty will happily ignore me all day if I'm doing anything else yet feels shemust sit on the keyboard if I'm using it.gfff

Buffy Anne Summers, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I know the show is problematic in many ways, that Joss Whedon's feminism isn't all it's cracked up to be, that the few non-white characters are treated all that well, that Willow is treated as flipping from straight to gay instead of having her bisexuality accepted, and Spike in general... I know there're more issues, yet I cannot help loving this show (so expect more characters to make the list).
 
I was hooked on the show from the first trailer. As we watched her backflip over a sarcophagus, my younger sister and I knew we had to watch the show. We're a similar age to Buffy, both also slim and blonde. We'd never before seen someone who looked so like us leading a show and getting to be kickass in the process. 

Representation matters. And even more so, a range of representation matters. Skinny blonde white girls aren't exactly in short supply on our screens, but skinny blonde white girls with agency are rarer, and skinny blonde white girls with agency and the ability to best bad guys in hand to hand combat were pretty much unheard of.

I loved her for it. She showed the anger I felt as a teenager and was forbidden as a girl. She was confident and a leader and she screwed up and she tried again. She was flawed and she was powerful and she was real. She arrived at a time in my life when I needed her and so will always matter to me.
 
 

Friday, 1 February 2019

Christmas Day Baby

Breaking my silence.

The bump got so big I couldn't comfortably type on the laptop, so I stopped blogging, and then Ziggy arrived and everything's been a bit of a blur since. I want to write up the birth and first few days, because it was very hard but I got through it and hopefully there things I can say that might help someone else, and writing about it will help me deal with it all. Ziggy still needs a lot of my time and energy, though, so it won't be just yet.

For now, some photos.









Monday, 5 November 2018

Happy Bonfire Night!

Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November
Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot

Or that's how I thought it went. Today I learnt that there's loads of version of it, icluding one that's significantly longer and includes a lot more details about Guy Fawkes and the plot and how he was caught.
I love bonfire night. As a child, we'd have a big bonfire in our back garden, on the veg patch (good for fertilising the soil). The next door neighbours and the neighbours over the road, who both had children around our age, would come over with food and fireworks and sparklers, and Dad would make mulled wine, carefully boiling off all the alcohol so we could have some too. Some years we went next door while the adults were prepping, and watched The BFG.

I remember one year waiting in the front garden for other guests to arrive by car, and they were taking so long, but then we saw shooting stars so started making wishes on those - eventually realising they were rockets.

We'd bring in the guinea pig and rabbit, and make sure the cat was in too, but they never seemed fussed by the noises. (Our current feline cohabitee seems to actively enjoy fireworks: if she can, she'll sit on the window cill or in the back garden to watch them, coming back if she hears more after she's moved away. If she can't see anything, she'll sit in one of her usual spots and never flinch when the bangs occur.)

The only bit I didn't like was burning the guy: Dad would make it out of his old clothes stuffed with newspaper, and I didn't mind helping with that (though I'd sometimes get upset if he was intending to use a jumper I particularly liked), but when it was burnt I always felt like we were burning him, somehow, so I'd go inside and put underpants on my toys heads (ears through the leg holes; no idea why I did this!) and re-enact displays by drawing fireworks and mimicking the noises.

Screaming rockets have always been my favourite fireworks.

(I love Hallowe'en too. Dad used to be annoyed by trick-or-treaters that have grown in number in the UK over my lifetime, until he connected it with the old "penny for the guy" that he'd done as a child. Started out by saying that at least his showed some skill, before realising that we and most of our friends were putting together our own costumers and also that he was begging for money, while we were after sweets.)

Anyway, this year is our first in this neighbourhood. We were very impressed with the amount of young, polite trick-or-treaters we saw out last week, and this week I've been impressed by the amount of firework displays going off - and especially that they're done by about 9.30! Lots of young families and older people around here.

They were talking on the news last week about how some older people find fireworks very stressful, especially those with dementia and memories of the war. That hadn't occurred to me before, but reiterates to me how important it is to check on your elderly neighbours. There's what we think is an old people's residential unit over the road from us, and they had a lovely display Saturday evening, so I think they were probably well supported.

It seems funny to continue to celebrate a failed attempt to kill a king over 400 years ago. Dad told me it was a way to fold in pre-Christian rituals that continued to hang around in a way that was acceptable to the Church at the time, and that presumably there's something in the human psyche wanting a celebration with lots of fire and things to ward off evil spirits (the masks of Hallowe'en and the fireworks of tonight) about now. The onset of winter (in the northern hemisphere), one imagines. Reminds me of a post I read on another blog recently, about encorporating holidays into RPG's.

Anyway, if you're celebrating, have fun tonight, and don't forget to check for hedgehogs before lighting your bonfire!

Monday, 29 October 2018

Exalted - Calibration and Manse Building

This is the story of our Second Age Exalted game, told from the point of view of my character, Cathak Taji. Click here for the index.
~~~

It was the run up to Calibration in the year 757, making us 17. We'd been in the army a couple of years, been promoted a few times. Reilly sent us back to Rose Black at High Castle, not giving us time to see Rey before we left. When we got there, the quartermaster greeted us: we'd sent back the various things he'd asked for every opportunity we'd had, and to show us his gratitude he gave us a power bow and a flame tongue repeater, with ammo pearls and a kit to make more.

My overriding memory of our return to High Castle was the sheer number of Dynasts strutting around the place. Rose Black called us to her as soon as she could, to explain that we'd been in the army long enough to be allowed home for an extended period, even to leave. However, she continued, they had a continuing real problem with beastmen and we'd proven ourself against them, and in particular she was worried by a threat from the north, an Anathema calling themselves "The Bull of the North". If we came back, she'd give us our own command. We looked at each other, torn: I wanted to go home and see my family, but I liked Rose Black a lot, and I knew this would help the Empress too, and beastmen were a menace, and I think Kito felt similarly. She read our inner conflict and told us we didn't have to make a decision until after Calibration and sent us back to Gruncle's.

The Emissary joined us to travel back and invited us to a sorcerors' meet, a feast from the end of the First Age. It's held on the nights when the rituals to summon the most dangerous demons must begin: by gathering the most powerful sorcerors together, this can't happen without knowledge. The Realm doesn't following the tradition and it's fallen out of practice. He wants to bring it back. The Empress can't attend due to her position (though says she may come in disguise).

We talked with him about Lunar's Warriors. He called them Stewards and explained they're paired with Lawgivers. The Bull of the North, we learn, is a Lawgiver, but won't be open to negotiation: he'll see us as representing a force trying to oppose him. The Emissary showed uncharacteristic emotion then, looking demonstrably worried: there should be 300 Lawgivers, but he only knows of Tsung (the Seer) and the Azure Titan (our former incarnations' mentor). With the Bull of the North, that's 4, or 6 if he's right about our destiny.

When we reached Gruncle's, Hak's there and we showed him the bush where Kito saw the mouse. He told us we're truly blessed. 

Once we'd been greeted by everyone and been fed and fussed, I sought Gruncle alone in his office - the one with the stunning view over the Estate that makes it look like the grounds are aflame as the sun sets. It was an awkward conversation, but I walked away  reassured that if Kito and I do end up Anathema then he will at least still talk to us, and he knew I understood he would protect us as best he could, but had to put the safety of the House first.

And then the Emissary told us it was time to leave for the feast. He drew a glass globe from his sleeve and dropped it to the floor, where it shattered to dust that rose to create a shimmering, transparent door. He opened it and ushered us into a corridor of similar doors, with large double doors at one end. Others of the doors like we'd entered by opened and people came through until around 25 people stood there. We walked through the main doors and I realised we were approaching a manse, somewhere in Elsewhere - that place that isn't the Wyld, isn't Creation, but is everywhere else. From the steps to the Manse door walked down two inhuman women, perfect mirror to each other, with strange metallic tattoos or engravings across their skin.

Most of the guests seemed snobby. Not rude towards us, exactly, but uninterested. The Seer - Tsung - was about the only exception, and the Emissary didn't seem entirely pleased by our acquaintance. We didn't recognise him to begin with, but I, at least, was pleased to see him. We talked to him about things we'd struggled to get others to explain to us, and finally learnt the significance of the white mouse and the symbol Kito had seen: a boon from the Unconquered Sun, a symbol of his favour, a moment of luck or inspiration to help overcome insurmountable odds, and very, very rare. His favourites may see one or two in their entire lives.

The food was incredible, which made up for how lonely it started to feel.

In the morning, the Emissary took us and Hak to check on some of his freeholdings in the west, leading us through a set of sliding doors to a mountainside overlooking the ocean. An archipelago stretched out, leading to a larger island in the northeast, but we walked away from the view toward the mountaintop, a blackened caldera. The heat haze and a wisp of smoke showed this to be dormant, not extinct. All the same, even at the centre the heat felt merely uncomfortable and not deadly as I'd expected. As the Emissary reached through the solid rock, I activated my All Encompassing Sorceror's Sight and realised there were no elementals around. He pulled on an orichalcum chain the other side of the rock, and the heat dissipated, the mountain melting with it to leave an evergreen forest. It felt unnatural: we hadn't left the tropical region, so these trees were distinctly out of place. 

"This is the first freehold," our expressions led him to explain more. "A freehold is a stable area in the Wyld," and he went on to explain the Wyld we'd been in before had been the Border Marches. We were now in the Middle Marches and beyond that was the Deep Wyld, chaos unformed. I looked more closely at our surroundings and realised we stood in a bubble: there was a distinct circumference around us where the trees and bushes were well-formed, moreso even than in Creation, but beyond that things started to blur.

We followed the Emissary as he led us to the Deep Wyld, the bubble continuing to protect us. A path formed as he trod, and we took care to stay on it. Beyond that was darkness - the darkness of a child's room, filled with monsters. Nothing there, yet everything.

He created a safe area for the 3 of us to wait in while he worked, and we chatted with Hak. He told us he'd never been to the Deep Wyld before: Viziers like him rely on Ambrosia - on prayers made manifest - but Lawgivers, frustrated by the limitations of Ambrosia, had learnt to manipulate the Wyld. 

"Isn't that dangerous?"

"Very."

Golems stepped into existence around the Emissary, 12ft tall and golden. No, not gold: orichalum. Once there were 12, they knelt to him; he looked discomforted by the servitude, and tired by their creation. They returnedwith us, and Hak quietly explained to Kito and me that things created in the Wyld become unstable in Creation - further magics are required to give them solidity here, or they degrade. The magics were lost in the First Age: maybe 5 people have the knowledge now, and only 3 the power. 

The Emissary sent the golems around the island, which I now realised the caldera marked the very centre of, as we sat on its edge. He waited about 40 minutes - to allow them to get to the right places or for the sun to be in the right place, I wasn't sure - then clapped his hands as though into prayer and was hit by a torrent of light from the sun, cascading from him to flood the island until it reached what I surmised were the golems: 12 beams of light returned to the sky and expanded out to create a shield. As soon as the shield was complete, a 4-armed creature climbed from the soil to patrol the island, and magma began to bubble, rising from the ash of the caldera to reveal a simple sructure made of a composite of the 5 magical materials. The domed roof opened and the Emissary sank in.

Hak looked interested. As far as he'd known, only one person could do this, and that was the first sorceror, who'd been given her power by the Unconquered Sun.

A door appeared in the structure and the Emissary stepped out. He explained he had 30 planned, but could only manage maybe 10 this Calibration. Our offer of help was accepted, and Kito summoned a cloud to take us to the next location, a tiny rock in the ocean barely big enough for the 4 of us. The remaining golems (slightly smaller now) took their places beneath the waves and again pillars of light rose from them. The island seemed to shift as the ritual continued; once complete, a throne of glass waves stood before us, with a basin on a pedestal. The Emissary scooped out the ball bobbing in the bowl and explained there was a second manse below, which he'd created in a set of ancient ruins, and that was the relay manse to match the one he'd created earlier.

We took a portal to Gruncle's garden: stepping through felt a lot like walking through the Deep Wyld.

I peppered the Emissary with questions, of course. Manses are created during Calibration and are best given years of planning. There are many ways to use a manse that have been lost since the First Age - to learn more about that, I'd need to Meru herself, but the great city is no longer on top of the Imperial Mountain. He'd looked and found nothing but the ruins of hovels, long picked clean: no signs of the glory of the city.

There were feasts every night for the next four nights. The other guests continued to be uninterested in interacting with us, but the food and drink were phenomenal. The mirrored twins wore increasingly elaborate outfits: black fabric that flowed like water; a strange, metallic or stone-like material in white and silver; greens in a leafy, flowery, viney pattern; and finally, flickering, fiery reds.

We helped build manses again the second day, again in very remote spots: a section of a tropical island gave a multi-tiered tree; a four-armed statue of the Unconquered Sun, facing the Realm, above a small bay, where a rock formation created a natural wind tunnel that enhanced the sound of the crashing waves; an abandoned mine in the side of an equally abandoned quarry became a steel disc inscribed with runes supporting a throne and pedestal on a small island not far from a Shadowland (which had grown a lot since his last visit, 200 years perviously). On some of these, I saw statues as we left: the golems settling to take the exact appearance of those statues outside Nexus, with the Emissary's features.

The Emissary didn't take us if he did anymore on later days, but Mum took me to a manse in the north of the Realm to attune the hearthstone in her bracers.

It was good to spend time with our family, because we'd made up our minds what to tell Rose Black: the Bull of the North was a real threat, one even I appreciated we couldn't take on yet, but we would need to one day, so we might was well take the opportunity to learn as much about him as possible with our own recon unit.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Amaryllis "Blazing Shield of the Sun" (Exalted First Age Solar)

As well as the Second Age Exalted game featuring Taji which I'm slowly writing up, Rich has been running a First Age game for Bells (Kito)  and Ash, another of their friends. I was invited in, as Ash is going to join our Aberrant game (which starts next week 😀).

Game Background
Bells and Ash are playing teenagers, brand new Solar Exalts attending Meru High. They've both inherited cities and vast fortunes from their previous incarnations and are learning about what it means to be Exalts. It's an alternate history of the Second Age game, so there's a few familiar names and faces, which is fun. 

As with the Second Age game, various liberties have been taken with the official setting.

Character Background
I've joined as an older Exalt, a Zenith by the name of "Blazing Shield of the Sun" who also still goes by her mortal name of Amaryllis. She Exalted maybe 100 years ago, so is still young in Solar terms. Her Lunar mate (Nevalia or Nevaris, depending if they're in female or male form) is older again (several points in the Ally background). They're close, friends and lovers, currently with an adopted daughter Mara (a few points of the Ward or Dependent flaw, forget the name), though they have raised other children that one or other has birthed (need to double check that about Nevalia, but I assume they've both carried babies). Amaryllis is also the ruler of Ondar-Shambal (inherited from her previous incarnation), and is a devoted follower of the Unconquered Sun. She has a following within Ondar-Shambal (Cult) that she finds embarrassing and does her best to reflect the praise to Ignis Divine.

Personality
Amaryllis's overriding trait, the one that gives her the form of her Great Curse, is Compassion. She can't stand by if she sees innocents suffering ("greater curse" flaw means her trigger track is shorter than normal). This is how Mara came to be in her custody: she arrived too late to stop the destruction of a town caught between two warring factions. The only survivor was a young girl, whom she immediately took in.

At the opposite end, her Temperance is very low, meaning she acts compulsively and, when not actively engaged in praying to the Unconquered Sun, is restless and finds it hard to sit still. Her Deliberative paperwork is vastly out of date, she rarely shows up for non-religious official events she's expected to attend, and she's easily distracted. Fortunately for her health, she overindulges as much in healthy things as unhealthy: she's always eating fruit, trains rigorously in martial arts for the pleasure of movement, enjoys sex and parties, drinks too much, reads romance and adventure (but nothing non-fiction unless she has to)...

She's a loyal friend, fiercely protective and hates letting people down. She worries that her lack of temperance makes her unworthy to lead Ondar-Shambal but trusts Lytek knew what he was doing when he chose her.

Attributes and Abilities
She's quick-witted, sharp-eyed, smart, charismatic, tough and resilient. She loves martial arts and is an effective fighter - though she's rarely been called on to use her skills for real, and even when she has, it's been to defend an innocent (or innocent group) from someone significantly less powerful than herself. Her love of movement extends to high acrobatics. She's got a good stage presence that helps her lead group worship, and prayer is a big focus for her. 

While she never had the patience or commitment to learn sorcery, Nevalia/Nevaris is an accomplished sorceror and some of the knowledge has rubbed off on Amaryllis.

As well as being a religious centre, Ondar-Shambal is an active trading partner and, despite the tedium of it, she has become fairly skilled in bureaucracy as a result

Most of her charms relate to resilience, acrobatics and martial arts. Her hearthstones focus on memory and reading (to help her complete necessary tasks she finds dull as quickly as possible), and healing.

The Game...
May or may not get written up at some point.