Monday, March 22, 2021

Beyond the Bizarre Armoire: Session 1

Today I got back in the DM saddle for the first time in about a year to run a GLOG game in a setting of my own design. While a bit bumpy, it felt good. It came with some important reminders. Most importantly, it's got me looking forward to running the next session.

For session 1 the players were:
-Maxcan7 (, as Mr. Fox and his War Dogs
-Oblidisideryptch (, as Sieur Alastair the Knight
-TheisticGilthoniel (, as Ibrahim the Adept

We began with a grave situation: the Countess Aluya had disappeared from her chamber with her wedding to the Count Omedo right around the corner. If news of her disappearance were to break out, it could lead to brutal war breaking out again in the recently united countries of Nalas and Dula.

The Count assembled a crack team of heroic(?) souls he could trust to find the Countess without letting word slip: Mr. Fox and his War Dogs, old friends from the war, Sieur Alastair, promised a promotion from bastard-dom if he succeeded, and Ibrahim, a dabbler in forbidden schools of magic whose stay of execution would be lifted if he failed.

Their first lead was the Countess's handmaiden Nadiya, who was with the Countess when she disappeared. Poor Nadiya was roughed up and imprisoned in the pantry, left to wallow on a bag of flour. While at first Nadiya was reticent to talk, believing what she had witnessed to be insanity, the team got her to open up and admit that she saw a bunch of dudes dressed as sailors pop out of the Countess's armoire and grab her. They also managed to talk her down from going to the Countess's father, instead remaining under watch until the Countess was rescued.

A search of the Countess's room revealed a puddle of water leaking from the armoire, and that it had a crude back not fitting with the rest of its beautiful worksmanship. More investigation (smashing) revealed an entire snowy forest beyond this boarded-up back of the armoire, a forest with leaves of brocade instead of greenery.

Not keen to embark without his horse, Sieur Alastair suggested they bring the armoire down to the stables. Along the way they encountered the stablehand, who with fast-talking and quick thinking they convinced was drunk without him ever actually drinking a drop, showing him a flash of the world beyond that bizarre armoire.

Soon after leading the party into the armoire Sieur Alastair is nearly clipped by a warning shot from a watchtower thats' growing right out of a tree. The errant arrow is found to have been loosed by a humanoid pinecone, a pinecone knight in the service of the King in the Pines by its self-description. The pinecone knight's initial defensiveness is soothed by a claim of fellow-knighthood, and it is learned that its comrade is gravely injured. A bargain is struck, and the party promises to return with medicine from the outpost further north in return for the knight escorting them to the King. The party also learns the finer points of pinecone knight dueling etiquette, and that the knights stationed this far south are there because they've dishonoured themselves in the eyes of the King.

Throughout the forest there is a growing stench of rotting pork that interferes with the War Dog's attempt to pick up a scent trail. Until that was taken care of they'd be dependent on the directions of others.

Following a trail of footsteps in the snow north the party arrives at a razed village with a well at its center. A friendly, floppy face calls out to them from a window, and after some hemming and hawing identifies himself as "Clothiere". The War Dogs immediately suss out that something's up, as they hear Clothiere's voice ventriloquistically projected from within the well.

After some menacing exposition on hunger and the beauty of fashion Clothiere gets Sieur Alastair to sit in a chair. The chair turns out to be a trap woven from the same sticky silk as Clothiere himself. The thing in the well tries to drag the good knight in, but succeeds only in tearing his seat away, and a War Dog pisses in its eye for its trouble. It then attempts to do something similar to Ibrahim with the puppet Clothiere, but its arm is cloven apart by Alastair.

Cowed by their display of strength, the thing in the well reveals itself to be a very large and haute couture-obsessed spider. It bargains with them where before it threatened, promising that if they deliver someone else to it for its ministrations then it will provide them with stylish and warm silk cloaks.

Debating the ethics of human (or not-so-human) sacrifice in return for dope duds, the party continues north as night falls. Their camp-setting is interrupted by the sound of digging, which is revealed to be a mannequette (a mannequin-like wooden humanoid creature) dressed in worn armour. The mannequette is given a torch to better see by (scavenged from the wreckage of the razed village). That night everyone dreams of being back in the war, where they're slain and buried by that same mannequette. Distant cries and massive flapping wings intermittently disturb their sleep.

Continuing forward at dawn, they come across more mannequettes, these ones dressed as sailors, hanged from the boughs. They also encounter a contrary-talking snow fox who postures at divinity and extorts a vial of poison from Sieur Alastair and a show of submission from a War Dog. Satisfied, it confirmed their directions and went south to unknown, probably poisonous ends.

Finally they arrived at the forest's edge, a slushy morass where it gave way to stinking swampland spattered with the tops of giant turnips. There they found the pinecone knights' outpost, and one of the knights' number locked in a stockade while the rest jeered and pelted it with rotten root vegetables.

Sir Alistair soon butts heads with the outpost's captain, Sir Ambersap, staking his own honour in a duel to restore the stockaded knight's, and to attain some medicine for the knight way back south. Incredulous that he'd risk so much for those so low, Sir Amberdrip accepts.

After the duelists trade some glancing blows, Ibrahim espies Sir Ambersap's second attempting to spike the match with a handful of white-painted caltrops, and, thinking fast, distracts the second by transferring some recent wounds to him with a cantrip. This works, but handily attracts the attention of the second, who sidles towards him with a dagger.

Just then, Sieur Alistair strikes a mighty blow, and fells Ambersap! All subtle maneuverings are forgotten as Ambersap groans heavily, and the pinecone knights hoist Sieur Alistair to their shoulders. Medications are procured and applied. The bound knight, Sir Pineleaf, is freed from his restraints, and pledges himself to Sieur Alistair to the ends of the earth and beyond.

Where will next session take our heroes(?)? What machinations is that snow fox machinating? Will the stablehand maintain his sanity? All this and more, next week on... Beyond the Bizarre Armoire!


  1. I tried articulating this after the game but was well into a glass of plum brandy by that point and am doubtful if my point came across effectively.

    As you know, I love worldbuilding and Weirdness, and as I've been trying to explain and refine on my blog, what I want from RPGs is less so necessarily the standard things like problem solving, telling a narrative, or tactics and strategy, and more so about experiences and novelty.

    So for that reason, I often struggle as a player, where I have much less control over the design of the world or of it's facets, and admittedly I can be difficult to please.

    That being said, basically the moment we encountered the first pine cone knight, I felt like I could just lay back, relax, and enjoy the show. I bought into the world pretty much immediately and enjoyed every weird thing we encountered and look forward to more to come.