Session 1: A Grain of Truth in the World of Ardu is a game session report for Worlds without Number. We played via Zoom on .
The Player Characters
In our session 0, everyone rolled up characters. We used the 3d6 straight down replace one score with a 14. Everyone also rolled random backgrounds along with random growth and learning. Worlds without Number 🔍 uses the same procedures as Stars without Number: Revised Edition 🔍. You can read more about those procedures in my Character Creation post and Example Character Creation post for Stars without Number: Revised Edition.
A scout and survivalist.
- Background: Barbarian
- Class: Adventurer (Warrior / Expert)
- Foci: Unarmored Combatant 1, Impervious Defense 1, Wayfinder 1
- Skills: Survive-1, Exert-0, Punch-1, Sneak-0, Know-0
Healing Touch: Commit Effort for the scene as an Instant action; for the rest of the scene, you may heal 2d6 damage plus your Heal skill to a touched ally as a Main Action. This healing adds 1 System Strain to the target each time it is applied.
An immigrant doctor who’s helped a lot of people.
- Background: Physician
- Class: Adventurer (Expert / Healer)
- Foci: Gifted Chirurgeon 1, Polymath 1
- Skills: Heal-1, Trade-0, Connect-1, Know-1
- Healer Arts: Healing Touch, Far Healer
Khalid “the Khopesh”…
A marine shock trooper.
- Background: Soldier
- Class: Warrior
- Foci: Close Combatant 1, Whirlwind Assault 1
- Skills: Stab-1, Punch-0, Sneak-1, Notice-0, Exert-0
Cold Flesh: You no longer require sleep and feel pain only in an abstract sense. You can suffer no more than 1 point of damage from any given instance of Shock and you have a natural Armor Class equal to 13 plus half your level, rounded down.
A wandering death-haunted necromancer.
- Background: Wanderer
- Class: Mage (Necromancer)
- Foci: Diehard-1
- Skills: Survive-0, Ride-0, Perform-0, Magic-1
- Arts: Cold Flesh
What follows is my best recollection of our session; While running this session I took notes. However, those notes disappeared into the ether.
We revisit the initial situation. And I frame the immediate Magistrate Udku, Clerk Orin, Clerk Esther, and the character depart Tadja by river boat.
- Magistrate Udku: A Konuk official for The Ministry of Harvest, known for his thorough (and grating) administrative skills.
- Clerk Esther: A middle-aged dutiful clerk devoted to the Ministry of the Harvest; Which helps ensure she can feed her family.
- Clerk Orin: A middle-aged injured Yorgumek veteran, now guaranteed a low-level administrative position in the government.
As part of the journey, I ask the characters “What does Magistrate Udku do that pisses you off?”
- Amir: Udku has a map, and he’s always consulting it and attempting to correct Amir’s navigational choices.
- Khalid: Udku focuses only on the path ahead, failing to look at the side roads; His single-mindedness and vocalizations ruin any option of stealth.
- Soven: While the others sleep, Udku always seeks to talk with Soven.
- Gordon: Udku uses the word “Actually” a lot; Doubling down on bits of incorrect lore or counter arguments.
I then ask “What do you share around the campfire?”
- Gordon: Shares his flask.
- Khalid: Share army stories with Orin.
- Amir: Shares knowledge and beauty of the zucchini flower.
- Soven: Restless, tends to share the wood and brush he gathers for the fire.
They journey three days up the Arpachau river to the village of Geshmiche in the heart of the Bukansihal An ancient farmland long ago engineered for optimal farming. In these latter days, the land is failing. .
Arriving in Geshmiche
On the third day of journeying up stream, in the distance, they see the village of Geshmiche. They see a man on the wharf and docks waiting to greet them. The village itself has been built amongst the ruins of an ancient city. They humans in the farming fields, working in the late afternoon sun.
As they pole their boat up to the dock, the man introduces himself:
“I am Subvester Harinder of the Weary One. What brings you to our village of Geshmiche?”
Magistrate Udku, brushing past Subvester Harinder without acknowledging the greeting, proclaims “I will speak with Envoy Abhamalt, the rest of you unpack the boat and get to work.” This served two purposes: First, I wanted to highlight that Udku focuses on the task at hand. No pleasantries. Second, I didn’t want a conversation between two Non-Player Characters (NPCs 🔍).
Gordon, responding to Harinder’s enquery, says, “Good Vester, we’re here to investigate a reported situation and look into the efficiencies.”
They have a brief conversation, and it’s clear that Harinder’s not going to give them much to go on. Suggesting that they seek some rest and a place to stay.
While the characters unload the boat, Subvester Harinder heads to the temple of the Weary One, and talks briefly with a woman. The woman, makes her way to the docks and introduces herself.
“Good day tired travellers, I am Vester Deena. You are Magistrate Udku’s entourage? Tell me about this man.”
The characters describe Udku and his exacting investigative skills.
Vester Deena describes the situation. The Betonahkma, or Bets, have begun harrying the village. The Betonahkma have slain several Geemit villagers, yet Envoy Abhamalt sees them as disposable. Vester Deena claims that Envoy Abhamalt’s interested in attracting more baseline human settlers.
Vester Deena show’s the location of the last attack. From afar Magistrate Udku‘s whistle blast calls his entourage to come to him. Udku uses a whistle, not for emergencies, but to signify the start and end of work.
The characters gather with Magistrate Udku and he share’s the following:
I have begun my interviews with Envoy Abhamalt. That building will be my office. And that building shall be your dormitory.
I do not want you to elimate all of the Betonahkma; based on some numbers I’ve seen, there may be too many Geemit for this village. There’s a delicate balance in farming both above and below ground, and right now there are too many Geemit. However, I know that the Ministry will pay 50 Silver piece(s) (sp 🔍) per Betonahkma pelt. I wouldn’t want to deprive you all of additional pay.
Now Clerk Esther and Orin, you’re with me. Settle in and tomorrow morning we’ll get to work.
And Magistrate Udku blows his whistle dismissing the characters.
With a few hours remaining before sundown, the character’s return to the location of the last attack.
I wrote about this skill check in a previous post.
Amir began scouring the location for tracks. To help:
- Soven listened for the spirits of the recently slain.
- Gordon provided insights on the topography.
- Khalid provides some insights around sneaking around.
The group follows the tracks through the fields and ancient city ruins to several hills. They find what is certainly the lair of about a dozen Betonahkma. With sunshine failing, they head back to Geshmiche.
In the waning hour of light, the villagers (a mix of Geemit and baseline humans) gather around a fire to share tales and food. Geemit signdancers tell tales of yore.
Here, they meet Gulg, a Geemit farmer. Gordon and Gulg talk; Gordon can sign Trade Geemit. Gulg talks briefly about the toils and fear of the Betonahkma. The Geemit, in their fluid nature are vulnerable to the Betonahkma bite. The Betonahkma secrete some enzyme that hardens and congeals liquid; Dangerous to the ameboid Geemit.
Gulg also speaks ill of Envoy Abhamalt.
That evening, as the rest of the characters sleep in their dormitory, Soven Grim-Whisper sets up a post to listen and observe. Soven does not need sleep. I call for two tests, Survival Difficulty Class (DC 🔍) 6 and Notice DC 8. He succeeds at survival but fails at notice.
Throughout the night Soven’s perch remains secure. He hears several Betonahkma prowl through the village, but never sees one of them. Soven succeeded on his Survival, keeping him safe. But failed at his Notice, so gleaned no actionable information; Instead learning that at night the Betonahkma have reign of the village.
We wrap up our session, with the characters ready to explore the hills and lair of the Betonahkma.
I reiterate that the village of Geshmiche has no watch nor anyone to spare. Instead, it operates at full capacity in its harvest of grain and mushrooms.
My goal in this is to highlight that the people of this game are full of bias and personal agenda.
Questions I Plan to Ask
- Soven Grim-Whisper, tell me more about your Cold Flesh art. Was it your choice? What have you come to miss from the days prior to your transformation?
- Gordon, tell me why you left your home lands?
- Amir, what memory do you hold regarding the zucchini flower?
- Khalid, share with us a harrowing moment of a past military campaign?