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These are the ramblings of Matthijs Kooijman, concerning the software he hacks on, hobbies he has and occasionally his personal life.

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Symbols 3: Calm? Yeah, right

(Disclaimer: This post is about a game. It is all fiction.)

I originally wrote this post a few days after Symbols 3, but I never got around to fully finishing it. So, don't mind the wrong date references ;-)

Last weekend was the third Symbols event, which I attended with as nightkin character Rallin. Before I delve into everything what happened exactly last night, which I expect to be quite lengthy, I will first touch the highlights and main story thread. Further on, I will give a longer somewhat chronologicalish description of this event.

Getting around to stuff

Symbols 3 can be summarized for me as "I didn't get around to it". I have been talking (at length with Ailiva and Taima), tracking (some big creature and a murderer), woodworking (gardening tools for Hallistrad), mourning (for our Sicheii and his apprentice), partying (for the lives they lived), comforting (my little sister Pakuna), getting my ass kicked (multiple times) and dipping (being out of character when you're supposed to be in character).

Dips on Saturday

Especially the last one is rather uncommon. There are always a few moments during the weekend where you just sit around being out of character for lack of things to do or lack of play offers, but Saturday night, just about everybody sat around dipping. I missed the first part of this due to sitting around Varaashi's sick bed. I spent there with a few other people being IC (but barely) and playing the domino game Ailiva brought.

After that, I tried pulling the Nocona (the group I play with) back IC, but that didn't really work out. The Nocona group is one that tends to generate a lot of play by itself, so does not tend to dip a lot. Still, it happened anyway. Later on, we were gonna do our funeral rites for Rallin's grandfather and his apprentice, so this would get people back in character. Just around the same time, a few friendly mist creatures came by, drawing the attention of just about everybody ("Why are all these people in our camp? We just wanna give the last honor to our dead! Oh wait, those mist creatures are here..."). I'm not sure if this lasted, since I haven't left our camp thereafter.

Anyway, I have been thinking about what has caused this massive dip. Main cause seems to be the weather Saturday afternoon. There was a little rain, but mainly very hard winds. A few of the tents that served as healers guild, library, etc. got broken, so nearly all tents were brought down as a preemptive measure. On one hand this thwarted a number of plots prepared by the SLs, that depended on having those actual IC locations. On the other hand (together with the cold), this caused people to sit together in large groups at the campfire or the inn, since there wasn't really anywhere else to go. In general, I think, large groups of players have a large tendency to fall out of character quickly and are pretty hard to get back into character once they do. In the end, I think all this worked out pretty nicely, since people got back into character eventually and did seem to enjoy their time dipping as well.

Stuff to do

About the "not getting around to it" part, I had a lot of stuff to do. I did some of those things, but a lot of them got postponed because I didn't get around to them or couldn't put myself to do them. One thing in particular I regret, is not having a decent conversation with Seth, the changeling death cultist that walked into Runewall. I exchanged a few words with him walking into the tavern, but didn't get around to asking him a thing or two. I think he died in the battle on Saturday, though he is rumored to have died before and returned from that (typical for a death cultist, I would say).

Another thing I regret is not asking Ailiva to teach me some healing. I wasn't really sure what or how I wanted that really at first and there wasn't any good opportunity later on. I'll have to ask her at the forum now, or perhaps on the next event. We'll see. Rallin did manage to learn a few unofficial lessons about nerves and diseases, from Ailiva reading from the new books she received and her teaching Hallistrad. If anything, this just made Rallin more interested.

Another thing Rallin should get around to, is how to properly wield his dagger, maybe something bigger than that. Thinking back about all the Symbols events, I think Rallin only managed to inflict a handful of wounds on his enemies, while receiving a multitude of that back from them. Perhaps he should ask Vaj to help him with this.

Anyone, let's get over to what actually happened.


It has now been over 6 months that our pack of Nightkin, the Nocona, have arrived at Runewall, the mysterious and cruel village that we would nearly start to call home. As much as we hate being here, locked inside the blue cage at night, while the woods are getting more dangerous during the days, we can't just leave. Simply put, it seems that my little sister Pakuna got the honor of protecting the village against the "things outside" (by some non-understood mental feat). Though nearly nobody in the village knows this, we expect that if she would just leave, it will possibly hurt Pakuna and most probably void the protection of the village, essentially condemning all the villager to die. If we would, on the other hand, just explain them and tell them we are leaving (so they can also leave), half of them wouldn't believe us, while the other half would probably capture Pakuna and keep her locked up for their protection...

Friday Night

So, we are still in Runewall. Last weekend started out calmly. Thinking back I can't really remember what happened on Friday. I spent most of my time sitting by the fire and talking. There were a couple of new Nightkin in town, some of which I met at our fire. One nightkin of note was Vorashka. She was interesting in a number of different ways. We had seen her before, or actually the future version of her. Also, she now arrived directly from the Raava, the pack most of the Nocona originated from. She brought good news, everyone was well. Lastly, she had been apprentice to Mekram, the powerful mage that got us in all the trouble at the last special.

Talking, walking and tea

Being still pretty confused with all this future stuff, what to tell to whom and what to do with what you know? I spent the better half of the evening walking around town talking to Taima, our packleader. Our talk about these issues was interleaved by discussion of pack leadership. On one hand I was comforting her, since she doubted her own doings and felt she had to take care of everything. On the other hand, she was trying to convince me to be the "backup packleader". This issue was raised before, but nobody really stept forward to take over, should anything happen to Taima. Rallin did not really consider himself for this task, since he did not think himself qualified for the task. Yet, since other people had suggested him and Rallin conceded that he might still be the best option, despite his unqualification, pretty much settled this issue.

Later fridaynight, Rallin was strolling around Runewall to find himself stranding at the healer's guild, as he had done a couple of times before. There he spent some time with Ailiva, Bast and Morpa, three of the town's healers, talking and drinking tea. After a while he spent some time talking to Ailiva alone, which he rather enjoyed, about various things. Their conversation was somewhat disturbed by Vorashka, who joined in the conversation (making it no less interesting, mind you). This conversational threesome did not last for too long, leaving Ailiva and Rallin alone again (but still with some questions and unspoken words for Vorashka).


The next day, Rallin realized he might have said a few things the night before that would result in exactly the opposite effect of that what he had in mind. A few things, related to stuff Rallin had seen in the future, had been discussed in an attempt to better understand things, but this actually made it more likely that what he had seen would actually come to be. Sneaky stuff, these future things.

Saturday was a busy day. I'll try to do the quick summary. We started with leaving the village to do some tracking, perhaps hunting. Varaashi wanted to learn how to properly follow tracks, so we showed him. We did not find what we were looking for, but we did find some other nasty beasts, that carried the blood thirst disease. We had faced them before, so the problem was quickly resolved.

Somewhere during the day, I spent some time finding a good pole to use a grip for the gardening tool Danthor had made for Hallistrad's herb garden. Though Rallin still hates the idea of a herb garden (since it is a symbol for settling and not moving on), he started to accept the effort Hallistrad is making, since they appear to be stuck for some more time...

Later during the afternoon, Varaashi and Rallin spent some time scouting the forests surrounding Runewall, searching for some army. I still don't know how they knew something was coming, but well. We didn't find anything anyway. We spent some time looking at and talking to a group of children of nature. They were supposed to be scouting the other half of the forest, but were a little preoccupied with looking for Lotus' sister, who went missing.

Our own problems

Anyway, we had our own missing people to worry about: Ayana, one of our priests had gone missing. She went out for a day of meditation, but had not returned yet. We gathered most of our pack to go looking for her. Maldorak, our grandfather and Ayana's teacher lead us to here usual mediation spot, where we found her. Dead.

Through some unfortunate falling branch, she had found the end of her time. Being overwhelmed with emotion and grief, Maldorak suddenly lost the artificial youth he had been given a few months earlier. Now again being the old man he actually was, he seemed all the more burdened by the loss of Ayana. As if his body had decided this was a nice moment to quit, he lied down next to his apprentice and pretty much announced he would not bother to get up again. Ever.

Thus followed a very pretty scene, involving lots of emotions and Pakuna-Rallin moments :-) I did, however, learn a lot about how Rallin (and probably me too) works and thinks. There had been a few other moments at which Rallin had to comfort Pakuna and this was definitely one. Yet I found it hard to do anything but sit and holding her close. I realized that Rallin tends to comfort Pakuna by [relativeren] and making jokes, neither of which were appropriate in the face of a loss like this. So, I settled for silently holding.

Since we did not want to drag the two back to our camp in Runewall, only to perform their funeral rites inside the walls they hated so much, we erected a funeral pyre right there and then. We sent someone off to the village to fetch our last two pack members and a torch. They also brought our portable altar, which we setup there. We would save the real funeral rites and festivities for during the night in our camp.

Our return to the village was pretty cool: A few of the people that we consider the friends of our pack were standing at the village entrance in respectful silence, while we entered with our full pack, carrying the flame that had burnt our two pack members.


The first news we got when we returned to our camp that an attack of the aforementioned army would be launched in 15 minutes. Rallin was not really inclined to do fighting and sat at the camp fire, fueled with the flame carried from Maldorak and Ayana. Yet when the enemy did actually appear at the gates, sitting and doing nothing stopped seeming like a good idea. Ending up at the front line, to do some defensive fighting next to Varaashi, since Rallin had run out of arrows. All attempts to go out to find decent wood for new arrows had failed, due to being attacked and having to hold funeral rites.

Battle was pretty chaotic and Varaashi went down not before long, taking Rallin with him (since Rallin was defending Varaashi while people were taking too much time to carry him away). After getting some divine healing from the Shining one, Rallin focused on carrying wounded out of the line fight, since nobody was really trying to coordinate that. Along the way, he managed to get a few ribs bruised, on account of some demon creature with a huge war hammer.

As soon as battle was over, Rallin spent some quality time lying on the ground in the Nocona camp. He had not seen Varaashi after he got carried away, but heard that he had done some heroics and was completely beaten up and lying in the council tent to rest. Since it was about dinner time, but Varaashi was not able to come to the Nocona camp to have his dinner, Rallin motivated people into moving the meal to Varaashi, which was rather fun.

As always, we did some dipping during dinner (though we did manage to mix some IC talk through), but not too long after dinner, we resumed play. A few people were left hanging around Varaashi. Rallin and Ailiva have been there for a while, Bast and Morpa walked in and out, and a few others were there as well. I had to break the news of Maldorak's and Ayana's death to Ailiva, who had apparently not found out. This was a nice roleplaying opportunity, which we gladly took up. Sometime later, we had some fun playing domino: Ailiva had a nice wooden domino set lying around.

In the end, Varaashi became bored of lying down, so he got up (with permission from the healers) and carefully limped to the Nocona camp. Unfortunately, most people were dipping there, but we managed to improve that to being IC most of the time and dipping occasionally.

Fun on the drums

Later saturdaynight, just as we were gathering pack members to start our funeral rites, three mist creatures appeared. Yet, instead of the usual aggressive, hostile creatures, these just walked around and bowed to people. Coincidentally, they encountered the Nocona camp first, so when they made their first bow, people exclaimed: "They bow to the nightkin!". It became clear quickly that they were bowing to everyone, though.

The creatures kept walking the same round, but on the third time or so they passed our camp, they walked closer, drawn by the drums we had. I'm not sure exactly how this happened, but Varaashi ended up showing the creatures how to play drums. So, at the moment I wanted to commence the last ceremony for my grandfather, the whole village (no kidding!) was standing in our camp.

Words, music and booze

Once the creatures (and thus also the villagers) left our camp, we started with our ceremony. Usually these ceremonies would be conducted by our priest, Maldorak. But, since that was currently a problem, Rallin took the lead instead. After saying some words in remembrance and farewell, we started the best part of the ceremony: Passing around the booze and making loud music, to celebrate the life our two former pack members had lived. This celebration slowly shifted from IC to OC, so we were fully OC some time before official time out. This is the reason we did this ceremony a few hours later last Symbols, but since everybody was tired and broken (and not that much IC anyway), we did it earlier this time.


Sunday was much more quiet than the day before. I don't remember much of what I did then. I do remember trying to find Ashala, a new Nightkin tailor in town. During the battle the day before (and also during the last special) I had made a tear in my cloak. I found her and asked for her help in repairing the tears, which she did. Halfway through the second one, some people asked if we had any trackers, since they needed to track a criminal. Ashala left the second tear as it was (I still need to finish the second half) and I gathered my stuff and went along.

About murderers and blackhammers

It turned out they had found somebody murdered just outside the village. I was asked (together with my little sister Pakuna) to find the murderers tracks. I faithfully improvised some tracks and led the party somewhere random. Since there was no SL present, and Judith, who called us in did not have any idea where the tracks would lead (I mean, I am not a real tracker, you know..), I reckoned we were not supposed to find the bad guy and I planned on following the tracks for some time and then declaring them lost.

Yet, before that happened, Pakuna spotted the bad guy already. It took some time to make me see him too (I'm not that good a scout without my glasses ;-), but we started surrounding the crook. He started yelling things like, I'll kill myself if you come any closer, you'll never know why I did it, stuff like that. After chasing him for a minute or so, we had him again surrounded. Using a well placed magic arrow and a storm rush to subdue him, we had managed to capture him alive.

Next up was stopping him from dying from his wounds. Not before long he came to, but we managed to knock him out again. I immediately looked for my rope and gave it to the blackhammer who tagged along, so she could tie him up. After a few minutes, I noticed she had not tied him up yet, but was toying around with the rope a little. Afterward, I heard she didn't want to tie him down until he was fully bandaged, which is the most badly placed attempt at pity for such a lousy murderer.

Just as I was about to shove here away and tie the guy up myself, he woke up again and managed to grab a small sword to end his own misery. There we were, no clues, no murderer, no nothing. Though strictly this was none of Rallin's problem (the victim was not somebody we knew) and he didn't really care about the loss of the murderer, this did prove once more the incompetence of the blackhammers at anything else than being a front line. ;-)

The beginning (or end?) of the calm

Just before time out on Sunday, the council (or was it just Elana?) called a meeting, since they had an announcement to make. Elana told us that Runewall had been attacked in the past few months by creatures of mist and pain, which were minions of beings similar to Denométhama (who was apparently hanging out underneath Runewall, protecting it with his blue walls). Since the other creatures had not once been defeated, they had signed a treaty to declare Runewall as neutral ground. There would be no more fighting over Runewall and the creatures of pain and mist would be allowed to enter Runewall freely. Bloody brilliant. Now, its really time to get out of here...

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