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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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First Symbols special: My head is spinning!

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

Last weekend was the first special of the Symbols LARP. I'm playing in a very nice group of Nightkin there, a race of moon-worshipping nomad like vegetarians. Our pack is called the Nocona and we're hanging out in an eventful and mysterious town called Runewall.

The first days of the special (friday night and saturday afternoon) I did not participate. There were two quests then, one for the group of Blackhammer mercenaries and one for the changelings (another race) and my character was not invited.

Evening: At the bar

Saturdaynight, there was a party at the local bar, for which everybody in Runewall was invited. There was a little plot going on I think, but being more of a background player than a plot player, Rallin, my Character, spent most of the evening working on a leather sleeve for my saw (he is a ranger and woodworker). Rallin should really learn the leatherworking skill, but the leatherworker in Runewall and Rallin don't really get along well...

Later on the evening Rallin had a very nice chat with his little sister Pakuna, who wanted to break up with her boyfriend Hallistrad. Initially trying to convice Pakuna to work it out and not be to harsh on him, after hearing some things about how he would yell to her and was never around, Rallin's opinion slowly shifted to "That will serve him right!". So, they broke up for now and Hallistrad pretends not to care. We'll see when he goes mental and starts killing people...

Just after the breakup, the real plot started for us. Three nightkin appeared, unconsiously. After they woke up, they appeared to come from the future. We had to go from when they came to save Pakuna from some mess she was in. So, after some serious mistrust, Pakuna running away because she got more attention than she liked and Rallin trying to calm Pakuna and prepare her for the next day of time travelling, we went to sleep.

Day: Future

The sunday consisted of the main Nocona quest: We got up early (for Nightkin standards) and walked north to perform the ritual we had got. After a few unsuccesful attempts (they should add better manuals with magical rituals, dammit!) we finally got it to work and were zapped two years into the future, into the middle of a village, Brakka, which had arissen there.

We quickly learned that there was a magical wall surrounding that village, similar to the one around RuneWall, but without any gates. Some of the villagers had already given up any hope of escaping, so our sudden entrance was particulary delicate.

After a somewhat friendly welcome from the village inhabitants, we saw Ailiva (which I didn't recognize at first...) in the village, claiming to be our contact in the village. She explained that (the future) Pakuna was mortally ill in the town of runewall, but the needed antidote that was manufactured in a city to the north never got in Runewall. It was rumored to be in or around the village we were in.

The antidote, the blue stone & the wall

We spent the afternoon searching for the antidote, a mystical blue stone somebody had lost which we suspected would power our return trip to the past and a way out of the wall around the village.

Evil Elana

After some time of not progressing, Elana walked into town with a few other people. They came from Runewall, where Elana is a council member. She is also connected to Denométhama, which seems to be the driving (good) force behind the wall around Runewall. So much for that, since Elana openly declared that the wall around this village was placed there to punish the inhabitants of this village (and accidental passers-by) for leaving Runewall. Not only did she admit this, she made no attempt at all to justify this, as if killing people for moving from a town was as normal as getting up in the morning.

Elana did however offer the Nocona a way out of the village to deliver the antidote. She gave them two hours to find the antidote, after which she would leave, with or without the Nocona.

Desperate villagers

As soon as the villagers found out that Elana had the power to get people out of the town, their desperation panicked and they decided to take hostages. They captured Taima our leader and Pakuna, Rallin's sister. Almost immediately they let Pakuna go, as a sign of good faith. They demanded to be taken outside, or they would not release Taima. Rallin, realizing these people were desperate and had not better be tempted to do crazy stuff, managed to convince Serran, Taima's brother not to charge in to free here. That would probably mean having to kill all the villagers, which we were not prepared to do.

Instead, Rallin tried to understand what the villagers were thinking and wanted to talk about it, but not out in a hallway, with enraged and frightened Nocona behind them. So, he walked in after the villager, without actually asking for a negotiation or something. He simply walked into the inn through the back where he found himself in room full of villagers sharpening their pitchforks.

Deciding against quickly walking out and for taking a chance, Rallin walked in (passing an astonished and tied up Taima) talking a little to the villager he followed. Not being an unreasonable man, he even offered Rallin a drink. Rallin settled for just sitting, listening and seeing what happened.

Eventually, Elana agreed to the villager's terms and all gathered around the gate. Rallin was half surprised that Elana actually did let the villager go, but everyone was outside.

The not-so-special blue stone

Now, we still did not have the blue stone, or the antidote (or actually, Rallin did not know we did). The two men we suspected of having the blue stone,then made a run for it and a few others pursued. Having talked to one of those two men, Derek, before, Rallin convinced them to come back and discuss our paths before they left. They did, but quickly left again. At that moment, Rallin was doubting whether to pursue and use force, or let them go, but his choice was made. Ailiva opened fire on the two and fully trusting here judgement Rallin ordered Varaashi and perhaps another Nocona to pursue.

Varaashi actually ran a lot faster than the two escaping men and before Rallin could tell Varaashi to focus on the more dangerous and unfriendly right guy, Varaashi had already mowed down the left one, without even slowing down.

Seeing that his bow would not be too useful (and since his quiver belt snapped) Rallin decided to make a charge at the guy's back (who was facing Varaashi). For some reason this did not turn out the tactical advantage it had seemed and Rallin found himself getting a particular nasty flesh wound of the guys two handed sword, who still managed to get a decent swing at such a close range.

Some time later, when Rallin was able to stand again (due to some help of our pack healers and a priest of the Shining One), he found out both the antidote and the blue stone were in our posession. The blue stone turned out to be a useless stone and was not needed for our return trip. The antidote however, should be delivered to Runewall in some way, for which we basically had two choices.

Choices & Trust

The first choice was simple. We would give the antidote to Ailiva and Merita, who would simply return to the town of Runewall without any further time meddling. The second choice was to take the antidote back to the past and saving it for two years.

Since the second choice has lot's of oppurtunities for losing or destroying the antidote or something similar and Ailiva proposed the first choice, Rallin argued the first choice. He based this for a large part on an unconditional trust in Ailiva, whose kindness and friendship to the Nocona had already helped them on multiple occasions. It was not until now that somebody pointed out that (the future) Ailiva had shown some changes in the last day, which Rallin had not yet noticed. She suddenly wore a lot of black instead of white, had a generally more grim look and apperently used a "Pain" spell and showed other signs of bloodthirstyness, which led most to believe that she either turned evil or was controlled by some evil power.

In the end we settled for giving the antidote to Merita, escorting both Merita and Ailiva to just outside Runewall for protection and return to the past afterwards. Since Rallin sensed Ailiva's disgust with their distrust, he tried explaining to her.

An interesting talk

This explaination ended up in walking under Rallin's (oversized) cloack together to Runewall, while having a most interesting conversation. I will not see what exactly this conversation was about, but Rallin has learned a number of things that will require some serious thought before they can be acted upon. Also, the dilemma that has gripped the Nocona since their arrival in Runewall, simply put whether to stay or to leave Runewall again, has gained some more depth and complexness.

My spinning head

Hopefully, writing all this down will stop it from spinning around in my head. Also, it will help Rallin's memory at Symbols 3 in a few months. As you can imagine, all this future and time traveling business is rather complex, especially if you want to keep your thoughts in-character (Rallin does not have the level of logic thinking or knowledge of the world as I have, but does have a decent amount of religion in his thinking). So, looking forward to Symbols 3 already :-D

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