001 - Bolton begins his quest

Bolton was riding in the hills near Krell Keep when he felt the stirrings of a Trump Contact.
Not many people held a Trump of him – most likely [1-4 in 6] it would be his Father, Prince Caine of Amber or Flambeaux, the demon-kin painter from the Courts [5-6 in 6].
Who is calling? (D6) = 4 CAINE


A scene appears, tinged with red as though viewed through thick red glass. A room in a stone tower, manacled and bloody hands, a pool of blood on the floor with bolton’s image floating indistinctly. A bloody cough and Caine’s head lifts to look out of a barred window to a white-tipped mountain, revealed in the moonlight of two moons. A door clangs and there are gruff shouts, pain and…. silence.

What could his father have meant, why contact him? Bolton wracked his brain to try to understand what he’d just experienced.

Gather Information 2 +2 wits +1 bond with Caine = 5 (2 & 5) WEAK HIT
On a weak hit, the information complicates your quest or introduces a new danger. Envision what you discover (Ask the Oracle if unsure), and take +1 momentum
Oracle Action – Break
Oracle Theme – Faction

Either his Father had only been able to contact him (Caine hadn’t seemed to be holding a Trump Card, but was staring into a pool of his own blood!) or he couldn’t trust anyone else! Bolton knew that there were many factions and alliances among the Elder Amberites and that often Family members were not to be trusted.

Until he learns more, Bolton will avoid bringing his Father’s brothers and sisters into this. “Snow-capped peaks and two moons” is not a detailed description, but he might be able to Shadow-walk to it.

Bolton has a handful of Trumps of his own, gifts from his Father or from Flambeaux. He lashes his yellow and grey striped horse to a tree and quickly opens the leather case. The cards are face down, showing their brightly-painted backs, three show the Silver Unicorn – these were from Caine’s own pack, painted by Dworkwin. He knew they would show Caine himself, and two of his brothers – Benedict and Corwin. The other two glittered in a kaleidoscope of colours that hid a serpent. One would show the demonic face of Flambeaux, grinning like a true devil, the other showed the dancer, Vengra caught mid leap in a ballet scene, her long red hair streaming behind her. Her small silver horns, peeking through. No! He wouldn’t ask Vengra for help!

For a few moments he studied Caine’s card, concentrating, seeking contact.
Trump Use 3 +5 spirit +1 bond with Caine = 9 (9 & 8) WEAK HIT

It took a minute or two to feel any kind of connection. He felt his spirit draining [-1 Spirit – now 4/5]. Alive, but not conscious. In pain, probably weak from blood loss, but not dying.
“Father! Father, wake up!” But it was no good.
Reluctantly, he passed his hand over the face of the card, breaking the contact. He knew there were others with more advanced mastery of the Trumps who might be able to break through, but who could he trust?

In that moment, he decided to swear a Vow – “I’ll find you dad and either save you or avenge you”.
[!!!!I forgot to Roll the Swear an Iron Vow!!!!!]
Silently, he rode back to the keep to pick-up Supplies for a long journey and to tell the Steward that he might be gone for several days.

The Shadow “Magdalene” is a medieval land with a fairly low population, [Tech-0, Magic-0, Pattern+2]. Ride four days to the west into the Forests and you could find a path into Arden. A few days to the south, past villages of simple peasants and vineyards to a small port city where fishing boats bob at the harbour wall, but sometimes great ships on voyages around the Golden Circle stand off the coast, tended by row boats.

But Bolton knows that his journey will be through Shadow, seeking a place with snow-capped peaks and two moons. The manacles had seemed plain, low-tech things. the room was also just a stone cell, no glass in the barred window. He could try to Hell-ride towards it or take it slow. As he doesn’t know what he’ll find there, perhaps best not to arrive exhausted from a Hell-ride.

[Shadow-walk acts like Undertake a Journey , as he has only had a glimpse of the destination, it will be an Extreme one]. He sets out, riding his yellow “Banta”, one of the zebra-like horses common to Magdalene. He points her towards the distant line of hills, and they begin to climb. Unfortunately, there are no mountains in Magdalene, within several days, but he knows they will not be in Magdalene for long. Slowly and carefully he begins to focus on the few details he remembered from the brief contact.

[Because Bolton does not know the Pattern Axiom of the target Shadow, it is assumed to be the same as where he starts, so no penalty to the roll]

Shadow-walk 4 +2 wits +1 bond with Krell Keep = 7 (8 & 1) WEAK HIT
On a weak hit, you reach a waypoint and mark progress, but suffer -1 supply. (For an Extreme journey, a Waypoint is only a half-tick so 0.5/10)
For Shadow-walking, you also make a roll on the Shadow-walking table.
Shadow-Walk table (D10) = 5
Encounter Obstacle (overcome it to gain +1 Spirit)
Oracle Location – Cliff
Oracle Location Descriptor – Blighted

The land changes quite rapidly through that first day as he is seeking mountainous terrain. His Banta is nervous and needs a lot of reassurance when strange birds screech from nearby pine trees. As they leave the tree line, they have approach an escarpment, rising steeply about a hundred feet. It seems to have no obvious track and Bolton feels his grip on the Shadows beginning to falter. They turn right and make their way along the line, Bolton determines that around the next bend there will be a steep but manageable path, zig-zagging to the top.

[for this obstacle, it makes sense to use another Shadow-walk roll to overcome it, but with no additional waypoint or Supply loss as this was a full 8 hour session of travel. Any hit will allow the path to exist, but on a Weak hit, there will be a roll required to climb it]

Shadow-walk 1 +2 wits = 3 (1 & 6) WEAK HIT

Bolton finds the steep track he was looking for but decides to rest the night before tackling it.

Make Camp 1 + 4 supply = 5 (4 & 9) WEAK HIT
On a weak Hit, choose one (+ 1 momentum)

The next morning, Bolton resumes the Shadow-walk. As he leads his mount up the steep track it allows him to choose what appears over the lip.
Shadow Walk 3 + 4 spirit = 7 (3 & 7) WEAK HIT
On a weak hit, you reach a waypoint and mark progress, but suffer -1 supply. (For an Extreme journey, a Waypoint is only a half-tick so 1/10)
Shadow-Walk table (D10) = 7 (Interesting Location)
Oracle Location – Cairn/Grave
Oracle Location Descriptor – Perilous
Is it abandoned (likely 26-00) or is there a funeral taking place?
(D100) = 99 (Abandoned)
Is it of somebody he knows (likely 26-00) or a stranger?
Oracle (D100) = 58
Is it his Father’s tomb (likely 26-00) or his own?
Oracle (D100) = 70

Perhaps something from his own subconscious fear has led him to Caine’s tomb. According to stories he’s heard from various sources, Caine has faked his own death a few times. Maybe this is from one of those? Maybe this is a true vision, indicating Caine is really dead now.

Is it worth the effort of lifting away all the stones to investigate further – Bolton decides on the “subconscious fear” explanation. However, he will try again to call his father by Trump.

Use Trump 6 +4 spirit = 10 (4 & 6) STRONG HIT

[For the purpose of the Story, I’ve decided he won’t get through, but the Strong Hit deserves something…]

For a moment, it seems as though he’s making contact. Caine’s face is fixed, staring, sweat on his brow, something in the eyes warns him, some glimmer of movement and colour reflected in the brown.

Bolton breaks the contact, but glimpsed the thing that tried to interpose between them. It looked familiar, like the image of the serpent on the back of Flambeaux’s cards except this serpent had a mouthful of silvery tendrils that had reached towards him INTO THE TRUMP!

I guess he won’t be trying that again, but maybe he has learned something. A creature or construct like that would most likely be in a place far from the Pattern and a place full of magic. He could add that to his mental picture.

Gather Information 3 +2 wits = 5 (1 & 4) STRONG HIT
On a strong hit, you discover something helpful and specific. The path you must follow or action you must take to make progress is made clear. Envision what you learn (Ask the Oracle if unsure), and take +2 momentum.

Thinking back over those few moments of contact, he’d also noticed more detail of the stone tower room. Sunlight was streaming in through the bars and it the sky was tinged with green – like some kind of aurora. Two moons and a green aurora, bright enough to see in sunlight – this is a strange place indeed.

[If Bolton risks another contact and makes another Strong Gather Info, I might judge that the Shadow-walk becomes only Formidable]

At least he knows Caine is still alive and it seems that whoever (or whatever) is holding him, is aware of Trumps and has set a trap!

Oracle Location – Ridge
Oracle Location Descriptor – Occupied

After passing Caine’s cairn, the path up the cliff seemed to steepen and despite his efforts, each turn of the track seemed to hardly move the top closer. When he finally approached the ridge about mid-afternoon, he could see it was occupied. A small group of men were starting down the narrow path.

Oracle Character Role – Mystic
Oracle Character Descriptor – Passive
Oracle Character Goal – Restore a relationship
3 Men…
Oracle Character Role – Raider
Oracle Character Goal – Find redemption
Oracle Character Descriptor – Kind

Bolton shouted up at them to wait and let him finish his climb. They might be able to get past Bolton himself, but would never make it past the Banta. Fortunately, they seemed willing to wait the five minutes or so it took for Bolton to reach to top.

The three tough-looking men in studded leather armour nodded as he approached “Nice horse”. One of them held the arm of a bald, black robed man with all-white eyes. He seemed very careful to help the blind man, guiding over stones and explaining what Bolton and his “horse” looked like.

Oracle Action – Seize [doesn’t seem to fit with the passive mystic but here goes…]

The Mystic holds up a hand with the fingers splayed and says something that sounds like “Harmanga”.
Bolton stops, letting the Banta catch its breath. “Hi”.
One of the men grabs his arm. “That’s not how you respond to our holy man, are you one of those heretics?”

Bolton’s first instinct is to hack off the man’s hand for his insolence, but then he might have to kill them all and he has little stomach for leaving a blind man to fend for himself at the edge of a cliff. He calmly apologises and explains he is a stranger in these parts and doesn’t know their ways.

Compel 2 +1 heart = 3 (6 & 2) WEAK HIT
On a weak hit, as above, but they ask something of you in return. Envision what they want (Ask the Oracle if unsure).
Oracle Settlement Trouble – Disastrous accident

The blind mystic begins to speak in a sing-song voice…
“The stranger shall come up from below
He shall come on a pale horse
He shall bring peace to the raving”

The man holding Bolton’s arm releases him hurriedly and turns to the old man. “I thought you said that was a metaphor for DEATH?”

“We Haramanga are not gods, not even really priests, we are mortal men and sometimes we might make mistakes. Stranger, would you be willing to aid us ? A few miles back along our path is my monastery, the Haramanga have long guarded a chest that contained two angry spirits. Yesterday the roof of the temple collapsed and broke the box. The two angry ghosts emerged and have entered the bodies of two of my fellow monks. They ran amok, screaming and laughing and killing three of our servants with unnatural ferocity and strength. They would have killed me too had not these fine pilgrims been staying in the Temple and led me to safety. The runes on the outer wall seem to have the creatures still penned within but I fear, without the roof, the walls are not stable. Is it possible you could help us?”

When he was learning about Shadow-walk from Caine, he was told that “everything you meet comes from inside you – some half-remembered dream, some unresolved issue or secret desire. We MAKE the shadows and they show us what we are. To master the Art, you must understand what you are.”

Bolton sighs and says, “I’m on an urgent mission of my own, but I’m going that way anyway and if it’s only a few miles, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look.”

The men still seem dubious and explain that the possessed ravers appear to have supernatural strength and toughness and feel no pain or fear, but the Mystic is very grateful and says “With or without you my friends, I will return with this stranger, to do what must be done”. Sheepishly, they agree.

Bolton lets the mystic ride and leads the Banta. The other men follow a few paces behind. As they approach the little temple building (a long, low pagoda) the screaming of the two ravers is plain to hear.

Gather Information 1 +2 wits = 3 (8 & 9) MISS
On a miss, your investigation unearths a dire threat or reveals an unwelcome truth that undermines your quest. Pay the Price.
Pay the Price (D100) = 74 (It is Stressful)

Bolton recognises some of the words in the ravers’ savage screaming. They are speaking a broken form of Thari used in the Courts of Chaos. These “angry spirits” are actually ty’iga (spirits from the Abyss, usually summoned as assassins by the Lords and Ladies of Chaos).

Ty’iga are usually bodiless but can possess people and grant them great strength and toughness. These two appear to be driven mad by their long imprisonment. The mystic explains that his order has been guarding the box for about 400 years!

Bolton’s options appear to be…

  • walk away
  • try to talk the ty’iga down
  • try to fight them (but they will be Formidable even with some help)
  • try to get some info about them/help from his two Chaos contacts

Before trying to get help from either Flambeaux (a Chaos Trump Artist) or Vengra (a Chaos Dancer), we should investigate who and they are and what their prior relationship with Bolton has been. After that Bolton would need to consider the possibility that if Caine is imprisoned by a Logrus user, either of them might be involved!

Flambeaux is a Trump Artist from the Courts of Chaos. I imagine that Caine must have used Flambeaux before and asked him to produce a Trump of Bolton. As one of the few “empowered” creatures who knew of Bolton’s existence in those early days, Flambeaux must have had Caine’s trust (or Caine must have had some form of control over him) and seems to have exchanged Trumps with Bolton so probably they became friends during the process of painting Bolton’s Trump. They would have met before the Patternfall War so relations between Amber and the Courts has been strained by the War. Currently it is about 5 years after the Patternfall and King Random has only just granted sovereignty back to the Courts in an uneasy truce. There are still Amber troops in the Courts, led by Benedict – probably helping the new Emperor keep control.

I imagined Vangra as being a noble daughter of one of the minor Houses with whom Bolton has had a torrid affair. This would have been called off during the War and neither of them have tried to get in touch since then. Perhaps they have grown apart now, and it certainly isn’t true love. Vangra was a ballet dancer (but this might turn out to be a cover for a school for assassins!).

Flambeaux is most likely to know of ways to control ty’iga, as he uses Trump and Logrus Sorcery. In Bolton’s estimation, Vangra is likely to only know generic info about these creatures as she does not know any Sorcery (and wasn’t yet a Logrus adept at the time of their affair).
Decision D6: Contact Flambeaux 1-2, Contact Vengra 3, contact neither 4-6 Decision (D6) = 4

It’s too risky. Caine is being held by somebody from the Courts!

Decision D6: Contact Benedict 1-2, Contact Corwin 3, contact neither 4-6 Decision (D6) = 6

His father had always told him that Benedict was dangerous and Benedict is currently based in the Courts – it could be him behind Caine’s imprisonment!
Corwin has been out of touch since the Patternfall. He apparently created a NEW PATTERN (The Rose) and disappeared into it – out of Trump range.

So, Bolton is on his own. He’ll attempt to sneak up on the Temple and take a look.
Gather Information 3 +3 shadow = 6 (6 & 10) MISS
On a Miss, Pay the Price (D100) = 08 A person or community you care about is exposed to danger
It’s either my Banta (1-3) or the Monk (4-6) Decision (D6) = 3

Suddenly a monk, screaming with rage, clambers up through the broken roof and hurls a spear at Bolton’s Banta.
The Banta is not a Companion Asset, so I’m only giving it 1 health.
Companion Endure Harm 5 +1 banta health = 6 (8 & 5) WEAK HIT

The beast is injured and scampers away.

Killing the physical hosts of the ty’iga is one thing, but killing the ty’iga themselves can’t be done by physical damage.
Bolton will talk to the blind Mystic about how the spirits were contained.
Secure an Advantage 6 +2 wits = 8 (4 & 3) STRONG HIT
Take +2 Momentum, now 8.

The wooden box was sealed with a jade dagger that held the clasp shut. It is believed this dagger can slay the creatures. But it would take two Face Danger successes (1 Strong or 2 Weak hits) to sneak in there and grab the dagger.
Face Danger 1 +3 shadow = 4 (1 & 3) STRONG HIT

While the creatures are raving on the roof, Bolton sneaks in and locates the jade dagger. The ravers leap down into the ruined temple to attack him. Now he has the dagger, they are only Dangerous Foes.

Enter the Fray 5 +1 heart = 6 (8 & 7) MISS
On a miss, combat begins with you at a disadvantage. Pay the Price. Your foe has initiative
Pay the Price (D100) = 80 A surprising development complicates your quest.

One of the two ravers is a young girl, about 13. Boston knows she is merely possessed and doesn’t want to kill her. This will push the fight back up to Formidable.

Clash 3 +2 iron = 5 (10 & 2) WEAK HIT
On a weak hit, inflict your harm (3/10 – granting +1 for the Jade dagger), but then Pay the Price. Your foe has initiative.
Pay the Price (D100) = 06 A person or community you care about is exposed to danger.

The blind Monk has followed him in and the Raver girl leaps at him, clawing and biting.

Companion Endure Harm 1 +0 iron = 1 (2 & 9) MISS

The Monk gasps, “no, daughter, no, don’t you recognise your own father” then his throat is ripped out!

Clash 3 +2 iron = 5 (1 & 6) WEAK HIT
On a weak hit, inflict your harm (6/10 – granting +1 for the Jade dagger), but then Pay the Price. Your foe has initiative.
Pay the Price (D100) = 81 A surprising development complicates your quest.

The Ravers’ claws seem to extrude as green razors – they will do 4 damage on a hit!

Clash 5 +2 iron = 7 (4 & 6) STRONG HIT
On a strong hit, inflict your harm (9/10) , you have the initiative and choose
Inflict +1 harm (10/10).
I’ll inflict the last point and go for…
End the Fight 10 PROGRESS vs (3 & 8) STRONG HIT

Bolton manages to drive the spirits of the ty’iga out of the bodies and stabs each of them with the Jade dagger. He thinks this MIGHT have released them back to the Abyss, or might have killed them forever. The Jade Dagger is just a normal weapon, except against ty’iga it does +1 and can kill them.
Sadly the Mystic is dead but the other folk are grateful and Bolton can Make Camp with a +1 bonus.
Also he gains +1 Spirit for overcoming the obstacle (now 5)

Make Camp 1 +4 supply +1 grateful villagers = 6 (7 & 6) MISS
On a miss, you take no comfort. Pay the Price
Pay the Price (D100) = 99 Roll twice more on this table. Both results occur. If they are the same result, make it worse.
Pay the Price (D100) = 00 Roll twice more on this table. Both results occur. If they are the same result, make it worse.
Pay the Price (D100) = 80 A surprising development complicates your quest.
Pay the Price (D100) = 19 Your action has an unintended effect.
Pay the Price (D100) = 44 A new danger or foe is revealed.
Pay the Price (D100) = 51 It causes a delay or puts you at a disadvantage.

What a set of bad rolls – I’ll wait until next time to work out what the in-game effects are in Big Trouble at the Little Jade Temple

  • STORED Game ID Ambersworn.001 on Sat May 11 2019 22:37 *



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