Total length: 37919 words / 162 minute read. (Mind you, that’s the length of this entire page, including all the extra bits and bobs. Not just the story.)

There have been 136 messages posted over 136 days since the first post on July 13, 2022 for a daily post rate of 1.00.


This is a game that me and the kids in the basement are playing over email.

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Alex is like Corraidhin in some aspects, he’s younger, more brash, more given to whim and fancy. He’s somewhat greedy and craven, attracted to riches far too easily. He’s a passionate gambler, not due to his skill, but by virtue of his ability to distract and confuse, which gives him a delightful edge. Some would call it lucky, but he calls it subterfuge. He has some sysorcerer skills, nothing quite as flexible as Corraidhin, but he delightfully wreaks havoc with worms, scrapers, ransom & spyware. If he can’t bypass something, he’ll delightfully destroy it. If he can’t break in, he’ll distract someone or something so he can slip by.



Status: timestuck in a fork bomb


They call me Corraidhín, and while my wisened age may seem an impediment to our expedition I assure you I make up for it with my sharp wit and intellect! By trade I am a scholar, master of the histories of this realm, and a dabbler in the arcane and mystic arts.

I believe my skills naturally lend themselves to this expedition. I’m certain you’ll need someone to elucidate upon the history of these artifacts, and should trouble come our way I’m ready at hand with spells a plenty. I’m not the best with a sword, but can hold my own with a bow staff, but it may be best to leave the fighting up to you younguns. If we encounter arcane ruins or cryptic texts you’ll find my skills just as useful as the finest blade in battle.

I think with my share of the reward I’ll buy more books. Lots and lots of books, a whole library of books! And then I’ll start a library, yes that sounds delightful. And maybe one of those books will have some information on ridding me of that accursed demon, but that’s another story entirely.




Gabs had a good life. Her little devil children were all grown adults now, and she no longer wanted to toil away running a business. When she initially shuttered her little tavern, she thought she might just retire. She made it two whole years of working in a garden, occasionally seeing grandkids, and reading romance novels. She eventually decided she needed a vacation from her retirement and traveled to a nearby port town. She was sure to find something fun to do there.

Gabs eventually sees Inquire Within, and the smell of debauchery wafting from within made her miss her days gossiping at her tavern. She enters and orders a terrible drink and listens and watches.

Hearing the tales being spun by Mister Three-Fingered, she decides, “I’ve never been on a ship, that’s something that sounds exciting!”

Half-drunk and eager for something exciting, she will join on the journey!

Gabs is a lanky older half-devil lady who is here to schmooze and have fun!




I am Glarg, an earth elemental who was conjured by a wizard who was immediately beheaded after summoning me. By some freak accident I was not sent back home to the earth elemental plane when the spell should have ended. While I have learned the common tonge in my time on this plane, I have not developed the ability to speak it, because I have no mouth. I’m a very gentle soul who is misunderstood because of my hard, cold exterior.

I’m pretty durable and good with rocks.

With my share of the money, I plan to hire a mage to send me home, or turn everyone else into earth elementals.




Inkulos Iridis greets you merrily! Some call me Inky the Tiny because of my slight size (perfectly average for imps, I assure you!) and a fondness for ink.

I may be small and nowhere as battle-hardened as knights in shining armour, but I can skip out of a monster’s grasp before you can say “scram!”, slip through the cracks (often unseen), scout for useful items, and brew all kinds of ink with special effects for discerning drinkers.

What do you plan to do with your cut of the money? Buy lots of ink ingredients, of course! With the money, the very first ink patio with the best paper nibbles will be opening to serve all from far and wide very soon!




A broad-chested, olive skinned human finishes a pint of ale with a long swig. He greets the group with a merry-looking smile, though it doesn’t seem to touch his eyes. He seems a touch distracted, as if something else is on his mind. A feeling of lingering sadness touches his aura.

“Greetings, my friends! My name is Jarrod. And this here …” he taps a heavy warhammer leaning against the back of his chair “… is Gertrude. When it comes to danger, consider us your shield. I will blunt what dangers may come from ahead and protect those who shelter behind. I’m more than good in a fight, specializing in up-close battles and …” he gives a small smirk “… alternative forms of negotiations.”

He leans over and places his elbows on the table, tenting his fingers and leaning in with his chin touching them as he continues. A thin leather cord adorned with small charms carved from bone is draped around his left wrist.

“Other than that, I’m willing to take on cooking chores and spin the occasional tale around a campfire. My cut of the money goes towards opening my own tavern when I retire.”


Sneaky Willows


I’m “Sneaky” Willows (nobody knows my actual name), an elvish pickpocket with a love for sneakin’, stabbin’ and music playin’! Some people say I’m no good at music playin’, but then I go sneakin’ and stabbin’ em!

On this team I think I’m gonna be good at sneakin’ up to those crystals and grabbin’ em right from under the guard’s noses!

With my money I’m plannin’ to hire a bard to teach me more music, so I can really impress people with my playin’ and maybe not even have to stab them!


Tea Filler


Who: Teefoon Filler of the Bucket, Knight of the 3rd order of Balmarlovemeer, Crester of the Golden-Fringed Ridge and 2nd to the Keeper of the Grimoire Glorious. You may call me “Tea.” (Tea is, notably, a giant. ~11ft tall).

What: Retired Cleric turned Archeologist.

Cash: A sturdy wagon and 5 head of oxen to pull it. I wish to travel further than my legs can take me.



Welcome to Basement Quest!

We’re gonna play this by ear, and cross each bridge only when we get to it.



Shoes in the Dark:

To do something, say that you do it, and then it probably happens!

If there is a risk, or chance of failure, we’ll roll dice to determine the outcome. We’ll use a variation of “Roll for Shoes” because it’s probably the most simple system there is. Everybody will start out pretty even skills wise. But you will eventually get really good at really specific things.

Everybody starts with one skill: Do anything 1

So to attempt to do anything, roll 1d6.

If you roll all sixes, you gain a new +1 skill which must be a subset of the skill you just used.


Player: I kick down the door. I’ll roll Do Anything (1) aaaand, that’s a six!”

Referee: You now have “Kicking Down Doors 2”


Player: I bust down the door with a flying kick! I’ll roll Kicking Down Doors 2 aaaand, two sixes!

Referee: You now have “Doorbane 3”

Player: Siiiick, doors fear me.

Every time you fail a roll, you gain 1 xp.

You can spend xp to turn any die into a six for the purpose of advancement.

Paths and Templates

Templates are skills and abilities, organized into paths, that players can discover and unlock through play as their characters learn and discover more about the world.

They are the lambda calculus answer to “classes” in traditional ttrpgs: a kind of anonymous class that everybody has access to, that you can combine and mix and match.

How it works:

Each path has a bunch of templates.

Every template starts with a rank (a number), followed by a name (in bold), a trigger (in parenthesis), and finally a description.

You can unlock any template by satisfying its trigger in-game, provided you have already unlocked at least one template of every rank below it, in the same path. (The exceptions are templates of rank zero, which are the entry level templates for each path, and do not have such a requirement.)


Path of the Goblin Slayer

The path is “Path of the Goblin Slayer”. The rank of the first template is 0, so there are no prerequisites. (If it had been, say, 2, then you would need to have unlocked a template of rank 1 and of rank 0 in the same path before unlocking this one.) The name is “Favored Foe”. The trigger is “Slay 100 goblins”. And the perk is detailed in the description.

Path of the Duck Outlaw

When Basket Duck is against the law, only outlaws will play Basket Duck. And not even the angels will weep when this path eventually leads to your inevitable death.

Inspired by juego del pato, the traditional, much maligned, national sport of Argentina. Credit to ~mio for kicking off this idea.

Path of the Murderhobo

You are an angel of death. A dirty, homeless angel of death with no conscious or qualms with killing the innocent.

Path of the Retriever

The Perks of the Job

Path of the Soulsword

You have a unique bond with a sentient sword

Path of the Tasseomancer

Path of the Were-Hare

You have been cursed to wander this world; half man, half rabbit.

Chapter 1

This is the first installment of BASEMENT QUEST.

Jump to: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20


“Congratulations!” The slightly tipsy hobbit grins and salutes you with his martini. “On Retrieval Team 43’s inaugural mission! I’m so excited for you, I’m sure you’ll do fantastic!”

You are all seated around a table in the corner at Lucy’s Basement. It is dimly lit and fairly noisy. The walls are covered in red velvet curtains, and the tablecloths have little gold tassels. A cloud of purple smoke from candles, cigars, and pipes hangs in the air. Waiters bustle between tables refilling drinks.

“So to recap, the Benefactor has tasked you with retrieving the five fabled Ginnarak Crystals. I, Blavin Blandfoot, will be your case manager. You will be paid handsomely for each crystal you retrieve. And if you retrieve all 5, you’ll get to meet the Benefactor at be their guest at their glorious mansion!

“The first crystal has been spotted near a Gnomish dig site in the Tammineaux Forest, just east of here.”

“I recommend getting started right away!” He polishes off his drink and squints at his empty glass. “Well, maybe first thing in the morning. Waiter!”



Blavin provides you with a multibeast for your excursion. “Courtesy of the Benefactor!” You pack it up with food and supplies, and trek into the Tammineaux Forest in search of the first Ginnarak Crystal.

The forest is lush, thick, and green. You have to hack your way through the vines and the brush. There are stinging insects, squawking birds, and dangerous forest creatures a plenty. It is hot and sticky.

How will you ever find your way through this wilderness to the dig site?

“Shouldn’t be too hard,” you remember Blavin saying back at Lucy’s, gesturing carelessly and sloshing a little bit of his fourth drink. “They’re gnomes, after all! Just follow the sound of explosions and screaming.”

Sure enough, before long you hear a mechanical droning and some blasting up ahead, punctuated now and then by high pitched screams, and you guide the multibeast in that direction.

Suddenly you are ambushed by a troop of blahoblins! Awful looking things. Taut rubbery gray skin. Long flat noses stick out way far from their faces. And so do their protruding, lipless mouths full of sharp pointy teeth. You didn’t hear them over the noise of the shrieking parrots and, in the distance, the shrieking gnomes.

“SHOE SHINE!!” the first one yells. It is wearing a gold ring on each finger (minus the three fingers it is missing), two in each ear, and one in its nose. It is dragging a vat of black polish nearly as tall as it is.

“SHOE SHINE!!” a second one agrees. It is wearing a nice waistcoat with large gaudy buttons, and a nice looking pocket watch on a gold chain. It is dragging a comfy looking chair stuffed with bits of fluff and leaves and fur.

A third one screams, “SHOE SHINE SHOE SHINE!” It has several gold teeth and carries a huge block of cheese secured to its back with long loops of hempen rope.

The fourth and final one is wearing what looks like freshly painted red shoes and is carrying a lit torch. “SHOE SHIIIIINE!” it screams. It is wearing a gold medallion on a gold necklace.



“SHOE SHINE!” Bellows Tea, with a full bodied laugh!

With a well practiced move, faster than one would think giant like Tea could move, Tea removes an object from their satchel.

…at first glance it appears to be a flail without a handle, but is actually a spare pair of giant boots, held by their laces.

“These could indeed use a good shining.”

The boot are spectacularly large, probably a 1/2 size too large, in all honest, for even Tea’s feet.

The boots have gold eyelets.

Earrings greedily snatches the boots and start washing, drying, and polishing them to a shine. Waistcoat eagerly tugs on Tea’s wrist and guides him to the comfy chair, which is decidedly too small for his bulky frame. Teeth graciously offers him a wedge of cheese.

Depending on how observant Tea is, he may or may not notice that the boots are returned to him with 1 - 3 fewer eyelets.

Bending down, Inky sniffs the bottles carefully, mumbling, “Creosote, shellac, hopweed … ou, wild cherry liquorice.” Then, a little louder to one of the blahoblins, though it came out not much more than a squeak, “Might I ask from where did you get these?”

“Shoe Polish! We Make! Roots and ash!” shouts Waistcoat. They seem to only have the one volume.

“Beeswax!” yells Earrings.

“Resin!” cries Teeth.

“SHOE SHIIINE!” they all cry in unison.



“And jolly good polish too, it looks like,” Inky replies, squinting a bit at the ichor being smeared onto the boots in Earrings’ large calloused hands. “I hear there be some gnomes hereabouts? A camp? With your remarkable service, I bet they’d be coming to you all the time to get their boots cleaned.”

“GNOMES!?” Earrings interrobangs loudly and questioningly. It brings its hands to the sides of its face, covering its ear holes, and wags its oversized head in dismay, squeezing its tiny eyes shut. In the process, it smears polish around its face.

“Gnomes there!” shouts Waistcoat. Its hands busy polishing, it tosses its head, gesturing with its prodigious proboscis in the direction you were heading. You continue to hear bangs and booms in the distance every once a while.

Glarg gurgles something to the effect of “gluggurguuuurglaaaachhhh?” Its stance is one of surprise as its disposition changes to that of inquisition as its head cranes down to look at the blahoblin carrying the smelly rock on its back.

Teeth looks questioningly up at Glarg and experimentally gargles back up at it. “GURGLE BURBLE GLUG GLUG?” It smiles apologetically (a fearsome sight, its protruding jaws full of tiny pointy teeth) and shrugs and asks, “Shoe shine?”

It attempts to pick that whole blahoblin up and bring the smelly rock to its face for a closer inspection.

“WAAAAAAH!” Teeth kicks its feet ineffectively and is quite helplessly tied to the big smelly rock when Glarg picks it up. The smelly rock smells pungent, sharp, earthy, moldy. Definitely could be food.

By this time the blahoblins have polished the shoes of everybody who has consented to it, and are packing up. Except for Teeth who is being detained by the earth elemental.

Red Shoes reappears from wherever they have been this whole time with a sly smile and rejoins its comrades.

Your pockets have successfully been picked while you were distracted with the shoe shine, but not of anything of particular value.

What small item(s) will you notice is missing in the hours and days to come? How will its absence be a minor inconvenience?



As the blahoblins were packing up, Inky persuades Waistcoat to sell a few small bottles of shoe polish, a roughly round piece of broken glass and scraps of cheesecloth from the mountain of debris previously on the ground. Inky rolls Do Anything 1 and rolls a 4.

Inky successfully persuades Waistcoat to sell a few baubles and trinkets with the first roll of the game!

They haggle back and forth a little bit, and Inky ends up paying a little more than they wanted to, but they get all the stuff they wanted. Yay commerce!

Having concluded business, the blahoblins pack up and disappear into the bushes toting their chair, cheese, and vat of polish.

The sound of mechanical droning and periodic explosions compel you forward to the dig site.

It is easy to find.

It is a large hole blasted deep into the ground. There are drills, and conveyor belts, earth moving machines, and all kinds of gadgets and gizmos, the purpose of which is not always readily apparent. And there is a zip line that seems to be the only way down to the bottom.

The site is absolutely teeming with gnomes. Diminutive humanoids with bright red noses and long, long ears, and long, nimble fingers. All gnomes are compulsive tinkerers and mechanics, and build fantastic contraptions. All gnomes are women, and are all highly explosive. Which makes their combustion powered machines extremely dangerous, both for themselves and for any unfortunate bystanders close enough to get caught in the blast.

A gnome in a white hat comes running up to you. “You there! Hey! Yes, you!”

“Are you the retrieval team? We’ve been expecting you! The whole dig is halted because we accidentally blasted into a whole nest of Kobits, and they won’t let us get near to keep digging! They keep sabotaging our machines when we try!”

“They also stole the Ginnarak Crystal that we found! That thing could have powered such glorious new machines!” She pouts.

In the background, a gnome who had crawled half way into a coal bin in the side of some kind of excavator suddenly scrambles quickly out, smoking, and runs around in circles in a panic. Nearby gnomes dive out of the way as she erupts in a small ball of fire. The gnomes wait for the smoke to clear and then immediately return to working on the contraption.

The foreman continues talking to you as though nothing happened. She leads you over to the edge of the hole and points to the bottom.

“The entrance to their cave is right down there! The zip line is the second fastest way down.”




Suddenly three anthropomorphic gophers come crashing through the trees behind you into the dig site. The first is wearing a sash of many pockets. The second is wearing cargo shorts of many pockets. The third is wearing a vest of many pockets. Each wears a pair of goggles with thick smokey black lenses, and a floppy checkered hat that looks like a waffle.

They march up to the zip-line.

“Out of the way, losers!” Sash cries. It grabs the zip-line trolley, and immediately dives off the side of the cliff and zooms down into the deep, deep hole.

Vest introduces itself, “Retrieval Team 70 here! We are here to recover the Ginnarak Crystal that is reported to be at this location. After we collect all five, then it will be us who get to hang out in the Benefactor’s hot tub! Not you! Ha!”

Sash has reached the bottom of the deep, deep hole. Shorts starts reeling in the pulley.

Vest leans in close and peers at you through its foggy lenses. “You must be the new Retrieval Team 43. Hmmph. Shame what happened to the previous Team 43. Hope you know what you’re doing! Would hate to see you end up like them!”

Shorts grabs the trolley and leaps down into the deep, deep hole. It sails all the way down, and joins Sash at the bottom.

“Welp!” Vest concludes with an air of finality. “No hard feelings, and all that! After we collect this crystal, we just need four more. And then we get to meet the Benefactor! Ha!”

It waddles off and starts reeling in the trolley.

Meanwhile, another gnome explodes behind you.




Inky peers down at the hole, and after some time, turns to the party. “Do you think they’ve cleared most of the gnomes by now, or should we wait until they emerge and grab the crystal then?” Gazing at some invisible spot farther among the trees, Inky continued, “One of the old miners back at the tavern said there used to be a natural maw on the southwestern side, but it was blocked when the tunnel caved in many years ago. The gnomes don’t waste their efforts on blowing up things knowing someone’s already been through them. Chances are there’s only one exit, unless this mine is a decoy.”

Inky peers down the hole and watches Retrieval Team 70 approach the kobit caves.

The maw on the southwestern side did indeed collapse several seasons ago. If you know anything about the industrial and intrepid kobits however, it is that they have probably dug several alternative, secret entrances since then.

Just as the gophers reach the cave entrance, a large erge, muscles rippling beneath its white feathers, emerges from behind a boulder and blocks their way forward.

It raises the feathery crest on the crown of its head, and fluffs up its plumage in a dramatic display. It appears to be arguing with the gophers. All three gophers appear to be arguing back.

The egre gestures angrily at the gophers’ feet, shakes its head, and crosses its arms defiantly. The gophers look down at their own feet and shuffle about as though embarrassed.

They all exchange a few more words and then the gophers retreat away from the egre and the cave entrance. They huddle together briefly and then start slowly climbing the scaffolding back up to the top of the hole.

“Oh yeah,” the foreman remarks absentmindedly. “There’s an egre guarding the kobit caves.”

The egre below preens and struts about proudly having chased off the gophers.

“Stubborn things,” the foreman continues. “Easily provoked to violence. Impeccable fashion sense though.”




Inky blinks down at their pinecrab apple leather boots consideringly. “Tea’s got the fanciest footgear, but at least we aren’t sporting fetid foot fungi like stockings. Maybe we could persuade the egre to let us through? It might set us back half a day trying to find any kobit holes that aren’t just non-portable potties.”

You look down at your boots. How serendipitous that you just had them shined by the blahoblins! You feel confident in your footwear.

Corraidhín: I may have a solution to the Egre problem. I gesture grandly, as it so happens I always come prepared for a fashion show.

With a grand gesture I cast a spell to transform my robes into a stunning suit, complete with top hat, monocle, and cane

I’m certain we can convince the fine fellow to let us pass if we look the part. Or better yet, I’m almost certain I can distract him while the rest of you sneak past, I’ve been told I can be quite verbose and boisterous.

Corraidhín successfully conjures up a stunning suit, surely the envy of every dandy, fop, and gentleman in the southern continent, if not all of Basmentaria!

A nearby gnome gets flush, starts to fan herself excitedly, and then explodes dramatically.

“A splendid idea, with an equally splendid outfit to match!” Inky exclaimed. “Then, shall we proceed? Master Corraidhín, at your signal.”

You proceed down into the gnome hole.

Retrieval Team 70 glares at you from behind their smoked glass goggles as you zip line past them. They continue their slow, defeated climb up the scaffolding. Vest shakes its gopher fist at you and swears, “You haven’t seen the last of us, Retrieval Team 43!”

At the bottom, on solid ground, you approach the entrance to the kobit caves.

Standing guard at the entrance to the kobit tunnels is a massive egre, a fearsome bird beast, muscles rippling and bulging beneath its beautiful white plumage. It turns its head and regards you with one jet black eye and then the other, snapping its sharp beak in the air as it tosses its head back and forth.

It looks you up and down, and its gaze rests on your freshly polished shoes. It huffs and grunts, “Your shoes look clean.” It rests its scrutinizing gaze on Corraidhín’s garments. “And YOU look FABULOUS!” it exclaims as it tosses its head and beats it wings excitedly.

“You may enter.” It graciously steps aside with a flourish.

The smallest of you can stand upright in the kobit tunnels. The largest of you have to crawl.

Kobits are small, vaguely mammalian, vaguely reptilian bipedal cave creatures. They are scaly and furry, and live in tunnels deep in the earth. They have huge yellow eyes, and long fine whiskers on their snouts and faces, all of which help them find their way around in the dark. They also have long, thick, coarse, drooping mustaches. The overall effect is that they look like tiny, monstrous, perpetually startled cowboys.

You follow the winding tunnel down into the earth.

You come around a corner and almost bump right into a kobit. It has eyes like saucers and an awe-inspiring mustache. It wears a name tag (“Corey”) and carries a clipboard. It blinks at you in surprise and then asks, “Who are you? What are you doing in here?” Corey flips through the pages on its clipboard. “There are no upsiders scheduled to arrive today. I don’t think you’re supposed to be here!” Corey glances around nervously with its huge eyes and looks about ready to cry out for help.




Inky smiles at Corey. “Hullo! We’re the waterworks crew from the neaby town, here to check the outhouse tunnels, inspect all the pipes and so on. We received reports of a blockage somewhere inside the networks. Have the tunnels been flushing well lately?” While speaking, Inky flashes a waterworker’s ID briefly at the kobit before pocketing it and pulling out a pressure gauge, giving the little handle on one side of the device a few cranks, and looking back at Corey expectantly.

Corey slowly blinks its eyes. “Inspektor?”

ASIDE: I rolled for Inky and rolled a six, which according to the rules means GREAT SUCCESS, and also Inky gets to Level Up: they gain the skill Persuasive 2.

“Of course! Inspektors! Yes, yes, right this way! A surprise inspection, how exciting!”

Corey continues to chatter excitedly as it leads you further into the branching, winding tunnels, pointing out particular bits of stonework and engineering, and also baubles and trinkets and fossils and artifacts that the kobits uncovered in the process of digging their tunnels.

Your tour eventually brings you into a large cavern with tunnels exactly like the one from which you just entered branching off in all directions. It makes you dizzy to think of finding your way through this labyrinth without a guide.

In the middle of the cavern is a deep pool with a fountain. At the bottom of the pool, a SWORD is thrust into the ground almost up to its hilt. A large jewel set deep in the pommel rolls around like an eye in a socket and tracks your movement around cavern. A few bubbles float up to the surface of the pool.

And set into the wall on the far side of the room is a massive stone door reinforced with thick iron bands. There is a keypad and a small printer on the wall next to it.

“….and so our tour concludes here in the central atrium!” Corey concludes excitedly. “Behind this door is the VAULT, where we keep all the valuables. Gemstones, gold, crystals, et cetera.”

“Top notch security!” Corey exclaims tapping the keypad. The printer spits out a square of paper. It reads

ed v1.16
*e door
1    the door is Locked

“Ha ha!” Corey shakes its head in amazement. “I have no idea how this thing works!”

The eye in the sword watches as Corey clips the small printout to its clipboard.

“Now, I trust you’ll find that everything was in tip-top order! Yes, indeed!” Corey wriggles its mustache proudly. “Now if you’ll excuse me,” it flips through the pages on its clipboard, “I am late for my next appointment. Good day!” Corey turns and walks toward one of the twisty little passageways, all alike.




Once Corey the Kobit exits the antechamber, you are free to look around a little bit.

The eyesword continues to watch from the bottom of the pool, and the Kobit Ed terminal continues to await you by the vault door.

But also you notice a couple of alcoves along the walls between the twisty little passages. Each of them holds a relief sculpture depicting one of the three deities of Basmentaria.

There is Neddas, the wise god of sages and starlight. Androgynous, clad in purple robes, depicted with a golden third eye in the middle of their forehead. They are shown here stoically bestowing gifts upon the inhabitants of Basmentaria.

And here is Nullar, god of time and tides. A bespectacled male figure with a golden third eye on his forehead. He is dressed in a dapper vest and bow tie, and is adorned with small cogs and gears. He is depicted here looking up at the stars from a mechanical contraption he is working on.

Finally, there is Liandt, goddess of war and flame. A primal, elemental deity, she is depicted as a fiery warrior with a golden third eye. The relief shows her on the battlefield during the Artifice wars. The wars which reduced Ginnarak to the wastes of cinder and ash that they are today. The wars which drained Liandt’s divine energies so thoroughly that she fell into a deep sleep and has been absent from the mortal realms ever since.

But enough of this lore dump! There is something important happening!

You hear a shuffling and a mumbling approaching from one of the twisty little passages.

You’re already in one of the alcoves studying the relief, so your press yourself flat into the recess.

Three gophers with smoked glass goggles spill out from one of the passages. Retrieval team 70! They made it past the egre after all!

They don’t see you, but head straight to the keypad by the vault. They crowd around it and start pressing buttons, arguing and bickering with one another.

The sword at the bottom of the pool seems to roll its eye in exasperation.




The Retrieval Team 70 gophers are absolutely losing their minds over the ed terminal.

“It just keeps printing a question mark!” Vest sobs.

“Try pushing escape?” suggests Shorts somewhat panicking.

“I’ve tried it! It’s not vi! It doesn’t do anything!” Vest moans. “Here you try it if you’re so smart!”

Sash is balled up on the floor crying, having already had a turn at the terminal.

Shorts carefully steps over them and timidly prods at the keypad.

A throng of beefy guard kobits come charging into the hall, alerted by the gopher racket.

“Here now! You’re not supposed to be in here!”

One of them trips over Sash, still balled up on the floor, and crashes into Shorts’s back, pinning them to wall. They squeal. Another guard grabs Vest by the collar, and after a brief scuffle all three gophers are escorted out of the hall despite their howls of protest.

“I had better check on the vault!” exclaims one of the kobits who remains behind.

They bang a few keys on the terminal and it spits out a slip of paper.

ed v1.6
1        the door is locked
no match
the door is Open

There is a mechanical whir deep in the walls, and a click and a gasp of air as the door swings inward.

The kobit slips into the vault and the door swings only partly closed behind it.

The sword in the bottom of the pool pointedly narrows its eye at you.

The gods of Basmentaria observe passively from their reliefs in the alcoves around you.

The door to the vault is ajar, the first of the five legendary Ginnarak crystals presumably behind it.

From one of the twisty little passages, you hear a guard kobit approaching, singing a sad cowboy song to itself.




Harrumph I say as I billow out my mustache. I know exactly what this is, I’ve seen these silly terminals at the wizarding academy. Fascinating little babbles really, not that easy to use, and I find they’re easier to melt with a well placed fireball or two, but I think I can get us past without that. Now I might need someone to cover for me if that Kobit catches onto what I’m doing, and I’ll say the weird sword is starting to creep me out a bit.

Corraidhin approaches the terminal, cracks his knuckles, and enters: 1,$p

The printer spits out a piece of paper:

The door is Locked

Corraidhin stares at the paper. Well, that’s not right, the door’s only partially closed. Preposterious thing.

That’s okay, I know how to fix this.

19 c there is no door, there never was, and never will be. Also the Kobit guard forgot to tie his shoes. . w 1,$p

The printer spits out a slip of paper.

there is no door, there never was, and never will be. Also the Kobit guard forgot to tie his shoes.

With a soft pop, the thick stone door vanishes.

The sword at the bottom of the pool widens its eye in surprise.

Nothing remains between you and the interior of the vault.

Some light from the hall spills in and glints off what appears to be a mound of gold, gems, and crystals. The rest of its contents are hidden from view unless you venture inside.

You can still hear the guard kobit in the passage, now whistling a warbling, lamentful tune. It sounds dangerously close. Best get a move on if you want to avoid a confrontation.


While the wisened scholar inspects the vault door, Inky walks a few steps from the antechamber to meet the Kobit guard, pressure gauge and tiny notebook in hand. Inky proceeds to ask them about water flow sounds in the surrounding area, water stains, signs of potential pests that could damage the pipes, and other rather boring elements pertaining to modern Basmentia burrow plumbing.

After a while, seeing as they have been conversing for some time, Inky pulls out two small bottles of chilled arrowroot beer from a waist pouch and offers one to the Kobit guard.

The big guard kobit’s eyes start to glass over as Inky goes on about water pressure and structural integrity.

But it does graciously accept a bottle arrowroot beer.

“Well, golly, don’t mind if I do!” It cracks the lid off, toasts to your health and takes a long swig.

“Aaaaaaaah! That hits the spot!”

Corraidhin absentmindedly inspects the terminal and door while Inky converses with the guard. He’s utterly distracted and talking to himself.

By the gods, it’s gone. Just like that! I thought it’d fizzle or something, but it’s gone! I wonder what else I can do with this thing.

Corraidhin wanders back to the terminal and enters another command.

19 c The wise and elderly Corraidhin is now a young and dashing rogue, with a very nice hat. .

The printer spits out a slip of paper:


Maybe the ed terminal only has jurisdiction over the door to the vault.

Or maybe the machine, the universe, or whatever, is telling you not to push your luck.

By now the big guard kobit, lulled by Inky’s questions and finally sedated by the alcohol, is slumped and snoring softly in the mouth of one of the twisty little passages.

You stand before the open vault under the ever watchful gaze of the sword at the bottom of the pool of water in the center of the room.



Psst, Inky, can you poke your head into the vault, see if you can spot any crystals. Also, can you tell what kind of gold’s in there? Maybe it’s worth something to nab a piece of two for ourselves, you know, since we’re so good at vault cracking.

While you do that I’m going to take a closer look at this sword, it’s giving me heeby jeebies.

I cast a spell on the sword to identify its physical, magical, and metaphysical properties

“Strange sword, I command thee to divulge your secrets! All that you are of, exist in, and imbue from shall be wrought in words of sorcercy so that the world my see clear what you are!” I chant as I invoke ancient runes with my wand.

Corraidhín commands the sword commandingly. But the sword just rolls its eye and looks at him exasperatedly.

Hmm. Yes, no mouth. Well then.

Corraidhín draws on his mastery of Arcane Lore, and sifts through all the knowledge he has filed away on magical swords. There are so many books on magic swords!

While at first you guessed that it may merely be a common Look Sword, you have since revised your initial assessment. Look Swords are minor magical items, and are not quite as sentient as this particular blade appears to be.

No this must be something a little more special.

It’s hard to tell from here–the water is not perfectly clear–but the pattern on the hilt is kind swirly and whirly. Probably a Sword of Omens.


No, it’s so unlikely.

And yet.

If the pattern on the hilt turns out to be more whirly than swirly, then it probably is indeed a Sword of Omens.

But on the other hand, if it is more swirly than whirly, it’s possible that this may be then legendary Sword of J’Son.

If only you could get a closer look…

Inky nods and peeks inside the vault, while keeping an ear open for any sounds coming from the tunnel where the guard kobit is currently sleeping soundly. Small mountains of ancient gold, some as coins and some in nuggets of various shapes and sizes, filled most of the cavern floor. In one corner were a few chests overflowing with rubies and emeralds, with the occasional amethyst and tiny pink diamonds. Whoever had this vault set up has amassed a nice hoard!

Inky whispered back, “Some good old gold! There are also little crystals in one of the chests, but I can’t tell if any of them is a Ginnarak.”

Inky hears the drunken cowboy Kobit guard snoring gently. It whistles adorably a little bit at the top of each exhale.

You peek inside the vault just in time to see the lone Kobit guard that went inside to check on the vault. It yelps and trips over its own feet.

Its shoes were untied.

There are indeed piles of gold, gems, and crystals. Chests full of precious stones. A few suits of armor. For some reason, a giant clam, mouth open to reveal a giant pearl.

And in the center of it all, atop a stone pedestal, beneath a dome of glass, is the blue and gold Ginnarak Crystal. It is the size of a melon, and kind of shaped like one. A lumpy, multi-faceted blue and gold melon.

Flitting around the pedestal are a couple of Aurs. Giant ears with bat wings. Very keen hearing obviously. Usually more of an annoyance than a true deterrent. Unless there’s a Centaur around. Nasty things those. A hundred ears with a hundred wings. The size of a small horse. They can really ruin your day. Luckily you don’t see one around.

Finally, curled up on the ground at the base of the pedestal, hugging a mound of gold coins like a body pillow, is a nude Kobit, sound asleep. It stretches briefly in its sleep and when it does, you are astonished to see that it has large leathery wings.




Jarrod wanders into the vault. Spotting the Aurs and the Kobits, a slow grin starts to spread on his face. Taking a deep breath in, he gestures grandiosely around him and booms: “Ah! Come gather round! Hear a tale of Triumph! Of Heart! … Maybe even a bit of Nirvana!”

He saunters over to the giant open clam and poses grandly nearby. His eyes sweep across the Kobits, attempting to catch the eyes of each one, as he begins to tap the fingers of his left hand rhythmically against his thigh, mimicking a heartbeat.

"Our tale begins with a hero, though one not oft recognized,
 Weaving bureaucratic mysteries across parchment with zeal,
 Though held to account, and by all accounts terrorized,
 By small minded yes-men with power and zeal!

 Yes, our hero of sorts did not act and avail,
 He gave others their tasks to be done.
 No pleasure he gleaned from the mop or the pail,
 And yet here we begin with the fun!"

Thus has the epic begun, and Jarrod is pushing the rhythm of the words hard, attempting to draw all eyes and ears to himself.

Broad-chested, olive-skinned Jarrod launches into the epic, flanked on one side by a giant clam and on the other side by a suit of armor.

The aurs, enraptured, immediately flutter down to rest at his feet to listen to the poem.

The one Kobit that tripped over its own feet rolls over where it lays on the ground and listens with naked admiration.

The naked, winged Kobit rouses from its sleep at the noise with a groan. It grouchily rises to its feet, flaps its wings a few times, and soars up into the air.

“My name,” it cries out, “is HORSE! BhrruUHRHUuHRRh! Behold my majesty! BrUHrhHHHURHuRu! You shall not steal my blue and gold, melon-sized gem! BhrruUHRHUuHRRh! I have such beautiful WINGS!”

The aurs and the clumsy Kobit all start to fidget as Horse’s outburst threatens to break the spell of Jarrod’s captivating oration.

“Excellent!” Corradihin whispers to Inky nudging her gently as he does. “It looks like Jarrod has the Kobits covered, I’m gonna make a break for the sword, I’m decently, somewhat, sort of positive that it’s the legendary sword of Jason. But if I’m wrong and it’s cursed watch my back. I might need a quick save.”

Corraidhin makes a step forward, “Oh and Inky, if Jarrod’s distraction goes awry, shout, I’ll come in fireballs blazing. I highly suggest a rapid retreat if it comes to thay.”

Corraidhin darts towards the sword scrambling over the terrain while the actions on the vault. As he approaches the sword he asks the sword if it wouldn’t mind coming along for a bit of adventure, and he grabs it by the hilt.

Corraidhín wades resolutely into the pool. The water rises up to his knees, his hips, his shoulders, and finally he dives under about 10 feet to the bottom of the pool. The eye of the sword stares at him with great intensity as he descends.

The mage reaches out and firmly grasps the hilt.

You feel a jolt, and the eye rolls back in its socket.

You yank on the sword and it budges not one bit. Not one iota!

You go to adjust your grip. But your hand is stuck fast! Glued to the hilt of the sword!

You look up at the surface of the water, some 10 feet above.

You look down at the sword that refuses to release you.

You look more closely at the pattern on the hilt. Egads! Why did you not see it before? The pattern is neither whirly nor swirly at all! It is in fact kind of spacey and indented.

This is not the legendary Sword of J’son! It’s so obvious! How could you have been so mistaken! This is none other than the infamous Sword of Yam’l. Yam’l is of course a superset of J’son, so it is an easy enough error to make. And perfectly harmless in an academic setting. It is however a costly miscalculation to make while glued to a sword at the bottom of a fountain.

You lungs start to burn a little bit, and you hear a spectral, burbling, significant whitespace voice in your head as the sword makes intense eye contact with you:

name: Yam'l
conditions: {"stuck": "true", "sticky": "true"}
greatest desire: stabbing

And then an expectant pause, as though the sword eagerly awaits your reply.

Inky watches Master Corraidhín make his way towards the creepy sword with two drams of admiration and a tiny dose of apprehension. Taking out a small wrench, a pouch of nuts and bolts, along with some gum twine, Inky crouches near the vault archway, listening in a little on Jarrod’s epic tale about the unsung hero of sanitation while occasionally looking into the pool.

Inky, from the best seat in the house, hears Jarrod launch into an epic poem, and also the beating of leathery wings and a mighty whinny and a neigh.

They also watch Corraidhín dive to the bottom of the fountain, and then thrash about a bit with one hand on the hilt of the eye sword.




Jarrod raises his right hand and begins adding a new rhythm to his beat by slapping his palm against his chest. The resulting beat sounds eerily like a galloping horse. Jarrod pushes his voice outward and upward, directing his vocal energy at HORSE.

"A mighty steed did carry our hero through forest, hill and town:
 A comely beast with silky mane and smooth and supple hide.
 One would think that such a stallion needs must have renown,
 But only our dear hero understood, and so did ride."

Jarrod subtly adjusts the rhythm to a fast, regular beat.

"Lightning of the hoof!
 Fire in the eye!
 One with blowing wind!
 Strength of mountain high!"

Jarrod slowly calms the beat back down to a heartbeat with his left hand fingers on his thigh again. However, the right now rests close to Gertrude’s handle, at the ready.

"On fated day, our hero does require
 Underlings for which a task is set.
 And yet, this day the underlings and squires
 Have booked their time away from toil and fret."

While continuing the epic, Jarrod makes note of two options, should he need them:

  1. Should he need, he can dive behind the giant clam; and
  2. He eyes a path back out the vault, should he be able to draw the Aurs and Kobits out with him.

Jarrod keeps his eyes on HORSE, attempting to react to whatever HORSE brings.

HORSE gives a snort, a groan, and a sigh as the beat of the poem accelerates to a trot, and turns its subject to matters of its own interest. Namely, himself. HORSE likes to hear its own name, and it likes to hear people pay tribute to it with verse. Which is 100% what it thinks is going on here.

HORSE beats its wings a few times and then flaps over to where Jarrod is delivering his oration. It stands a little too close, basking in the glory of Jarrod’s verse.

There is now gathered at Jarrod’s feet three Aurs; one clumsy Kobit with untied shoe laces; and one naked, winged Kobit named HORSE.

The blue and gold, melon shaped crystal in the center of the vault has been left unguarded. It hovers, suspended, beneath its glass dome on top of its pedestal, revolving slowly in place. It looks like a weird tiny asteroid. The veins of gold in the stone pulse lightly with otherworldly energy.

Damn it Corraidhin thinks to himself, here I am yet again at the bottom of some insipid pool stuck by some random magical thing all because I didn’t pay enough attention in mythical history class. Bloody hell!

Good thing I paid attention in sorcery and yesteryears secrecry administrivia, this little sword won’t stay stuck for too long! My lungs if I bungle this though..

Corraidhin quickly invokes a spell with his spare hand, casting mystical runes with his hand.

sudo chmod -t sowrd_of_yam\'l
sudo chmod 775 sword_of_yam\'l
sudo chown corraidhin:party sword_of_yam\'l

That should do it corraidhin thinks to himself. If not I’m going to need to think quick, I’m stuck and there’s no way up without this sword. I might be able to transmute the water into air around me, but probably only a small pocket which will surely disappear in a gasp. Alternately I could try and blast my way down, creating a pocket for the water to flow into, but I’d be willing to bet I’ll hurt myself in the process..

You trace some watery runes, invoking Sudo to bend reality to your will.

The unschooled masses sometimes erroneously assume that Sudo is a deity in its own right. There’s a certain misguided logic to it: an invisible force that governs the relationships between entities, and infallibly predicts how they will behave? Certainly, it must be an all powerful, godlike entity.

You and your ilk, of course, know that there’s no more intelligence behind Sudo than there is behind gravity. No need to correct them though. Sometimes it behooves the mage to allow others to think that they serve an unfathomable arcane lord.

There is a dull underwater flash and a muted underwater bang, and you feel the sword slip from its stony clinch like a knife tearing through soggy bread.

You push up off the bottom of the pool and rocket to the surface, helped–surprisingly–by the sword, which remains glued fast to your hand, but which also rises above you as though somehow lighter than water.

You break the surface of the water and hear joyous laughter.

"Oh, yes! Well done, Hardy Bear! So very well done indeed! Oh, I had spent so long trapped at the bottom of that pool waiting for a new bear to come and free me. And now here you are! Oh, what a very good day this is. What a magnificent pair we shall be.

"Now, let's go stab some evil!"

You look down at the sword in your hand, and the eye twinkles at you, full of adoration and zeal.

A small wine pitcher splashes into the water next to you. It is attached to a thin hose, at the other end of which Inky sits on dry land, drinking a cup of tea. They wave.

Inky squints at the silhouette underwater, slightly distorted by the occasional ripple on the surface, trying to decipher the odd hand gestures and wisps of light coming from below. Why was Master Corraidhín repeatedly forming semi-circles with his finger, almost like … the handle of a teacup? Was it a request for tea?

After a pause, Inky rummages inside a bag and brings out a large porro and a long rubber hose. The porro is filled with a demi-tasse of black grapefruit pekoe from a flask and the spout plugged with an eldarberry-flavoured gummy pen nib. Inky strings together a handful of brass nuts with twine and ties it to the porro’s handle to act as a small weight, then affixes the hose tightly to the open top of the porro. Casting a slightly apologetic look in the direction of the water for a brew long since gone cold, Inky swings the hose and flings the drinking vessel into the pool towards Master Corraidhín, watching for a moment as the porro sinks down into the water to hover near his arm. The other end of the hose is tied securely to a narrow rock on one side of the pool with more twine, the end sticking up in the air like a wiggling snorkel.

Inky returns to crouching near the vault entrance and looking inside another small pouch for fresh tea leaves. Waiting is thirsty work!

You cast an improvised lifeline to the floundering wizard, and find a cache of very fine fermented tea leaves wrapped in waxed paper that you left for yourself at some point in the past. How thoughtful and considerate of Past You!

From your vantage point, the sleepy guard Kobit still shows no sign of stirring. And Jarrod has a throng of captive beasts listening very intently to his stirring, epic poem. HORSE in particular seems to be gaining some kind of physical sustenance from the words, snorting and whinnying and beating its wings with each new stanza.

If you can slip through the doorway without disturbing them, there will be nothing between you and the now vulnerable Ginnarak Crystal.





Before Corraidhín ascended to the surface of the pool….

As Corraidhin finishes his incantation a small porro drifts down bonking him on the head. Startled corraidhin begins to move around in the pool trying to find his assailant.

“By the gods what in the world is in this pool with me!” he tugs frantically on the sword, and as he does so the porro drifts into view. “Oh wait, that..” his eyes follow the rubber hose attached to it up to the top of the pool. “Ah ha!” he exclaims immediately inhaling a mouth full of water and frantically pulling the porro from the hose with his spare hand and teeth. Corraidhin sucks greedily at the air the hose provides as he becomes acutely aware of the burning sensation in his lungs.

The porro drifts wistfully to the bottom of the pool, just out of reach. A dark liquid rises from it as it comes to rest on the bottom of the pool.

And now back to our show!

After heartily congratulating Master Corraidhín on his successful sword acquisition in hushed whispers and finishing off a cup of blackcurrant tea, Inky retrieves the porro from the bottom of the pool with a fishing pole and a few recasts. (Calling that gnarly stick with a line, bottle and hook slightly bent out of shape on one end a fishing pole would be an affont to any self-respecting fisherfolk though.) Inky rinses the pitcher and hose before stowing them away again in the bag along with the pole and other ink brewing paraphernalia.

Refreshed, Inky slips noiselessly inside the vault, edging along the wall on the farther side from the crowd now wholly enraptured by Jarrod’s grand recital. Seeing the crowd pacified and giving Jarrod a thumbs-up, Inky unfurls a long and dusty bolt of dark cloth with the words “UNDER MAINTENANCE — NO UNAUTHORISED ENTRY [by order of the Basmentaria Bureau of Sanitation]” in roughly-scrawled letters tacked onto it, and hung the ends of the cloth so it spanned and completely obscured one side of the vault.

Standing behind the makeshift inspection site, Inky proceeds to fill several sacks with gold and gems using a small shovel, before putting one of the sacks into their Hacky Duffer Discette (its capacity for large storage and small weight is a blessing in disguise for both aspiring and afflicted collectors alike).

You successfully cordon off a corner of the vault and set up a very convincing UNDER CONSTRUCTION banner. It looks straight up like a 90’s website.

You start shoving bags of treasure into your HD Discette, but it only accepts 1.44 bags before running out of space. You you leave the remaining bags for the others.

During your excavation, you find a complete set of magnificent, ornate, gold-nibbed quills, and also a small wooden rack of bottled ink.

There are a dozen small bottles all arranged in a row, each one with a different mysterious glyph, the contents all a slightly different shade. As you handle the rack, the ink sloshes around inside. It could still be good!

The fine wooden rack encloses them all and holds them in place by means of the lid, which closes securely around the bottle necks. Once you open the lid, you can easily retrieve and stow the bottles.

You also spot a fine jade teapot. A matching set of small cups—no handles, no saucers—cluster around the pot like nursing pups.

Corraidhin clambors out of the pool, magical pokey stick in hand.

Good show! He exclaims to himself and the sword. Now I can finally get a good look at this sword, though for some reason I can’t seem to let go, I guess for now I won’t lose it.

You said you wanted to do some stabbin right? Of evil things? What constitutes evil my pointy new friend?

The sword does indeed remain steadfastly glued to your hand. As you swish it around you discover that it seems to get lighter when you hold it aloft, and that it trembles and grows increasingly heavy as it descends. The sensation is almost as though it has a hollow core in which some kind of heavy liquid sloshes around. And as though its blow would be devastating.

The sword relishes being wielded and swung, and grows more and more ecstatic. Its eye darts menacingly back and forth, vanquishing imaginary enemies with each jab.

Yes! Yes, I am made for a singular purpose. To RID EVIL. To root out evil, spill its blood, and then do it again! So let's go find some evil, Bear! And then you can just stab it with me.

Oh, what constitutes evil, you ask? In my experience, evil can't help but make itself known. You'll know it when you see it.

For example, see there? That little inky fellow sneaking into that treasure room? Probably super evil. We should go investigate.

As corraidhin questions the sword he wanders towards the vault peering in to inspect Jarrod’s performance. He’s really good at that, what do you think? Actually what do I even call you? Do you like nicknames? I was thinking pointy, or stabby, but I’m open to suggestions, respect and all that.

Oh hey, the crystal! It looks like it’s unguarded! Corraidhin slinks towards the crystal muttering to his magical sword as he does.

The sword is momentarily distracted by the Aurs and Kobits. Its eye widens. It almost seems to shudder with anticipation.

EEEEEVIL! Rid. Evil. Spill. Repeat.

You are thankful that the voice seems only to be heard inside your own head.

Oh, my name? I'm sure I had one at some point. Long forgotten by now. No matter, I'm not sad about it. One has no use for a name when instead they have a singular, all-consuming purpose!

But, my last Bear called me her Bee. I quite liked that. The bee in her bonnet! Ha! Evil, fear my sting!

The sword prattles on in your head as you sneak past Jarrod’s monstrous storytime and approach the pedestal. Or is it a lectern?

You arrive unseen. The crystal is a dazzling deep blue, with pulsing gold veins. It is oddly shaped, somewhat like an egg. And it floats, rotating slowly, suspended in air beneath the glass dome that encloses it.

Drawing on your knowledge of Arcane Lore, you remember that the five Ginnarak Crystals played a key role in the Artifice Wars that once rampaged across all of Basmentaria. They are sources of tremendous power. Some say that, the five of them together, they could kill a god. You’re not sure you believe that. But they did definitely reduce the once lush and verdant island nation of Ginnarak to cinder wastes and deserts of ash. A cataclysmic event that put a resolute end to the Artifice Wars.

You look around the vault. Jarrod is reciting epic poetry and mesmerizing the monsters. Inky is pillaging and looting. You have a bloodthirsty, sentient sword in one hand; and a large arcane battery of a crystal within reach of the other.




While Inky packs the top of a sack with a thin layer of earth from under a loose rock, they feel a heated glare in their general direction for a few beats and surmises Master Corraidhín had entered the vault with his newfound companion. After decades of serving rather … demanding customers as an inkling, Inky knew an evil eye directed at them even when they can’t see it (while preparing a brew with their back turned, for instance) and makes a mental note to give Pointy a wide berth.

Once the sacks were placed close to the vault entrance for a quick haul, Inky returns to the items that had been discovered while digging under the loose rock. The set of gold-nibbed quills were swiftly pocketed — each quill was finely crafted and felt balanced when held in one hand. The malleable tips in a range of sizes would be invaluable for testing ink viscosity and smoothness, among other properties. A felicitously fantastic find!

The jade tea set was next to be admired, its deep green hue reflecting the age of the stone from which the items were carved. With cups for every member of their merry group, the teapot would make a worthy addition to any travelling, crystal-seeking tea party. So thin and translucent were the small cups, having been expertly crafted, that they were almost too fragile to carry around everywhere. A non-shattering charm was often applied to heirloom sets meant to be passed down through generations, but it is difficult to tell by looking whether a set had been charmed unless the spell was a particularly strong one. The teapot and cups were returned to the small wooden box they were found in and stored away. Perhaps a few crockery talismans could be procured at the next town?

Inky pauses at the rack of bottled ink. The first rule that any inkling in training learns is to never trust pre-bottled inks from unverified ingredients or unknown sauces. Inky tilts the rack to better examine the weird yet vaguely familiar glyphs on the bottles.

The first glyph was a circle with three dots. The bottle next to it was adorned with a swirl, followed by a bottle with a circle surrounding a pointing hand or a snail. Another glyph looked like a twisted hook, and was that some sort of sinister grinning reptile on the next one?? Towards the middle of the rack was a bottle with a glyph of what could be a mountain with a tunnel at its base. The bottle beside it bore a glyph of a block broken to three pieces. Yet another bottle was simply stamped with a circle and a dot at its center. Its neighbour held a glyph that slightly resembled a mountain range if someone stared very hard. The next two bottles bore glyphs that looked like a spiky fish and a circle with a pair of horns protruding from it. The last bottle’s contents seemed more gooey than the others, with a glyph of a helmet-wearing hare.

The shade of ink within the bottles varied, but all seem to be derived from the same indistinct hue. None of the bottles had the usual piece of ash paper with bits of string attached to them, but otherwise appear to be intact and the vessels themselves top quality, as shown by the delicate tarring on the caps. The wooden rack was lightly worn but solid in Inky’s hands.

It was certainly an odd collection. “No hash, no stash” though, as the rule of thumb goes. Inky puts the rack down carefully on the floor by the sacks, concluding that if anyone wanted to help themselves to the bottles, they were hopefully not planning to ingest the contents.

Dusting off their boots, Inky settles just behind the banner, closer to the vault entrance and rousing performance, to watch the crowd around Jarrod and listen for any sounds from outside the vault.

You pack up the quills and the jade tea set, and arrange the bags by the vault entrance for quick retrieval.

As you carry the rack of ink bottles over to the bags, the twelfth and final ink bottle, the one with the glyph of the helmet-wearing hare, suddenly cracks. Seemingly of its own volition. A tiny shard of glass slices the palm of your hand and disappears into the meat at the base of your thumb. The gooey ink seeps out of the bottle and paints your hand a muddy, rusty blue.

You jerk your hand back. The ink is swiftly absorbed into your hand as though it were a sponge. Soon it’s all gone: the ink, the blood, all of it. Nothing remains of the scratch itself but a hair-thin line. If you run your finger over it, you can feel the hard nub of the glass shard beneath the skin.

For a moment you can hear the double drum of your own heartbeat rushing through your ears. Your senses seem to sharpen. Colors grow more crisp, and sounds more clear. But then it passes, and the moment is gone.

Harrumph, pointy my friend, that’s just inky. They’re definitely not super evil. That’s the finest ink craftsmen and tea preparer this side of Basementaria. And we absolutely won’t be stabbing them. There are FAR eviler things to stab, potentially that weird naked thing that seems to think itself a horse. I could be convinced IT was evil, but wouldn’t use attacking it unprovoked make us evil? Surely a sword as ancient and wise as you could see the perfectly puzzling philosophical delimna we put ourselves in.

And then this thing, (corraidhin gestures at the crystal), horrible magical item used to create untold death, destruction, and mayhem during the last Artificer war. Definitely probably evil, if used that way, but also filled with untold power that could be used for good! Now would the person weilding it be evil just because, or could someone overcome the magical nature of a device capable of such evil and apply them for good? I for one believe afirmatively that one can overcome such things.

As corriadhin finishes his philosophical prattling to his new stabby friend he pushes the glass case off the crystal and grabs it.

The Sword of Yam’l starts to launch into a long winded reply.

Oh yes, that winged naked thing is surely evil. Let us stab it, Hardy Bear! Let us stab and stab and stab until --- What's that? Oh no, don't worry. We are unquestionably, infallibly good. I was designed and made for but one purpose, after all. TO RID EVIL! As for the crystal, yes, I suppose you are correct. Wielding a powerful, bloodthirsty, magical item probably does make the wielder evil, and consequently immediately deserving of being stabbed! Say, speaking of stabbing ... that naked, winged thing--

But then, before the sword can finish its thought (a thought, you are quite confident, would end with something like, “let’s stab it!”) you knock the glass dome off the pedestal and grab the Ginnarak Crystal.

You brace yourself. It thrums slightly in your hand but doesn’t do anything overtly magical or destructive. In fact it seems perfectly inert.

So there you are. A pointer murder stick attached firmly to one hand, and a potential atom bomb of a crystal in the other. But you think you’re totally going to pull this off!

Then the glass dome hits the ground and shatters into dozens of pieces.

HORSE screams and whips around at the noise. “BhrruUHRHUuHRRh! My blue and gold melon sized gem! Noooooo! BrUHrhHHHURHuRu!”

It flaps its wings and wheels up into the air and swoops down at you! The three aurs get swept up in the excitement and start flapping around, making tiny squeaks of alarm. The remaining kobit leaps to its feet, but then trips over its shoelaces.




From their spot behind the construction banner, Inky pulls a pewter bowl, a large wooden spoon and a set of silver spoons from their brewing kit. In one quick fluid motion, Inky strikes the bowl with the wooden spoon. The sound reverberates soulfully through the domed cavern of the vault, like a call to meditation. The kobits too, seem to recognise that single, sonorous note.

After a long pause, Inky taps several silver spoons in rapid succession against one another and on a small rock. The result can be barely heard by everyone in the vault except the aurs, for whom the sounds may resemble the soothing trickle of pebbles flowing along the path of a tunnel.

A rich tone permeates the vault. The Aurs cease their squeaking. You don’t hear them say this, but you imagine they’re thinking, “Oh shit, I still need to log my sit for Sitember..” And they flutter down to the ground and sit in a circle and close their eyes and are still.

You also hear a deep rumbling somewhere beneath you in response to the gentle call. Some of the gold coin dunes start to shift and spill. A suit of armor falls over. HORSE and the clumsy kobit halt their advance and look around nervously, and then bolt for the front door of the vault.





Why Stabby, it looks like we won’t need to stab Horse at all, but are you any good at stabbing armor?

Corraidhin stuffs the melon shaped gem into his knapsack and rushes towards Inky and Jarrod. Best to get this party started in style Corraidhin says as he casts a fireball at the suit of armor, followed closely by a second, and a third.

As corraidhin reaches Inky and Jarrod he raises the Sword of Y’aml ready to fight. Stand and deliver you curr!

The trigger happy mage rushes toward the vault exit, flinging a couple of fireballs over his shoulder as he goes.

Stabby is delighted at the carnage as the suit of armor is blown to bits, but also disappointed at the general lack of stabbing.

The Aurs, deep in meditation nearby, get caught in the conflagration. Their kernels swell and pop explosively. Though not as explosively as the fireballs.

The whole Retrieval Team 43 pours into the cavern outside the vault as it turns into an inferno, and they are swept up and away in a throng of kobits evacuating the tunnels.

You are deposited, like silt after a flood, outside the caves back at the bottom of the gnome hole, where the kobits and the lone egre are frantically climbing up the scaffolding, which bends dangerously under their combined weight. The gnomes up above are running around in an agitated state at the sudden commotion, and a few of them explode in the excitement.

The ground rumbles again, and the entrance to the kobit caves, and several feet of the surrounding area, is swallowed up by a sinkhole that spreads across half of the bottom of the gnome hole. From the hole emerges a gigantic moth-like creature made of a hundred ears of corn and a hundred wings. It is bigger than the very largest horse.

You hear a single word repeated fearfully over and over again by the crowd of kobits. “Centaur! Centaur!”

It crawls up out of the pit, and tastes the vibrations in the air with its feelers. It flies clumsily up into the air, flutters, and then crashes back into the ground.

It looks like one of its wings has been singed by fire.

Undaunted, it crawls across what is left of the bottom of the gnome hole toward you, beating its wings as though to bash you with them. Which would hurt a lot.

Yam’l whispers in Corraidhin’s mind.

Now *that* thing is *definitely* evil!




Looking around the chaotic scene, one of the vines among the bushes caught Inky’s eye. It was one of several bean plants probably native to the Tammineaux Forest, with strands of faintly glowing pods hanging from the vines.

Inky snatches several of the dried but luminous bean pods from the vines, then sprints a wide circle around the centaur, all the while counting out 43 beans and throwing them into the topsoil, where much of the earth around the sinkhole had already been turned over by the gnomes’ drills and machinery.

Earlier in the commotion, one of the gnome explosions caused a water main leading towards what had been the kobit caves to burst. Water was now spraying across the area with the gusto of a fizzy cold spring and gathering in small pools over the soil. More water sluiced over the moth-like creature’s singed wing, snuffing the remaining embers.

Within moments, long tendrils shot up from the ground, which rapidly thickened at the bases to the size of young southern oak trees, to curl gently but firmly around the centaur. “Sister!” a melodious voice emanating from somewhere amid the beanstalks exclaimed, “What are you doing up? It is not yet autumn. Go back to sleep!”

The pooling water puts out any of the licking, reaching flames that followed the centaur up from below. The dark smoke carries the smell of ash, soot, and burnt popcorn up into the air.

There is no mistaking the climbing vines of the common Tammineaux Forest Bean. If you don’t recognize it by the heart-shaped leaves or the winding stems, then the luminous, dangling seed pods nestled amongst the bulbous pink blossoms are a dead, somewhat obscene, giveaway.

Inky plucks a handful of the pods and rips them open, meticulously counting out a mystical number of individual beans, and sowing them in the ash and the mud.

Vines erupt from the ground and entangle the centaur, dragging it gently back toward the sinkhole and whispering a soothing lullaby in its ears. The centaur struggles weakly before surrendering to the vine’s caress. It is pulled back down underground.

In the aftermath, there is a handful of leftover beans, and also some large, vibrant kernels of corn that flaked off the centaur during the struggle.

You and the first Ginnarak Crystal are able to leave the dig site and the Tammineaux Forest without further incident.

You pack up your faithful multibeast and trek back to the city of Vay’Nullar, where your adventure started.


EPILOGUE: what are you doing in the final moments of this battle? Or on the way home? Or, what are you doing to rest, relax, and recover once safely back in town before reporting back to Blavin?


Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of BASEMENT QUEST.

Jump to: 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37



A glorious victory!

In the interim time Corraidhin studies the sword of Y’aml, and correctly deduces that he needs to remove the sticky bit to be able to sheath the thing.

sudo chmod -t sword_of_y'aml

The rest of the interim is spent studying arcane lore surrounding the Ginnarak Crystals and their purpose. He also strongly urges the party that we should consider very carefuly how we need to proceed with the crystal. It’s obvious people don’t want these things getting out, so we should ensure that Blavin has good intentions, or at least leaves us out of whatever potential evil could occur.

Corraidhin prepares the incantation and, after removing the sticky bit, is able pry his stiff fingers from the grip.

You sheathe the blade, but its voice continues to ring clearly in your head as it prattles on, seeing evil and villainy everywhere and encouraging you to stab, stab, stab.

Your sysorcerous studies, confirmed by the eager and forthright sword, suggest that the blade will be able to rest for a while once it tastes blood.

Your former mentor and rival sysorceror Eccentric Kevin calls on you one day under the pretense of showing you the latest draft of KDL (pronounced “cuddle”), their own “Kevin’s Document Language”, an alternative syntax for incantations and personal pet project of theirs that has thus far failed, much to their perpetual consternation, to gain any traction or adoption in the wider magic community. They are insufferably polite and sinisterly supportive. They complain about how the obstinant gnus keep standing in the middle of the road trying to block traffic, and they demand to know all about your recent exploits and adventures.

Once back in town, Inky had the small glass shard in their palm removed by a harried-looking healer, who merely shrugged at Inky’s account of the disappearing ink and advised them to return if they experienced adverse effects before hurrying off to the next patient. A visit to the local stationery shop did not yield any answers; the stocky human at the counter shook their head apologetically when shown the broken ink bottle. However, they did suggest asking at one of the larger shops in the city.

To celebrate their first successful quest, Inky made torties[1] for their party with flour ground from some of the large corn kernels at the dig site, topped with a sweet nutty squash spread. Babbleberry tea was served from their newly acquired jade tea set, now patched with what Inky had been assured was an unbreakable seal[2] by a merchant with a toothy grin in one of Vay’Nullar’s notorious back alleys.

Master Corraidhín’s cautionary words of wisdom still echo in Inky’s head, though they were secretly tickled by the idea of the crystal being actually a rare and previously unknown species of melon with very potent magical properties. The very thought of melons was making Inky a bit thirsty. Let the warrior and wizard worry about all the potential evils of the world — it’s time for a dash to the market for some beatfruit juice!

[1] Also known as torte-teas, as in “Torte-tea, yas?”, which was how their previous ink maestro used to greet customers entering the brewery. Flat little tea cakes with sugar or spice (or both, which vary by region) and sometimes eaten in a loose wrap. Some humans called them “crabs” for some reason which baffled Inky, since the torties had no pincers … at least none that they could see anyway.

[2] The seal attached to the bottom of the teapot and each cup had a glyph of an unknown object between two hands.

The healer removes a small glass bead from Inky’s palm. It is worn smooth and round like a marble. If you look closely, you can see a small blemish in the center that somewhat resembles either a duck or a rabbit depending on how you orient it.

It is captivating to look at and comforting to hold in your hand. You fidget with it often. Now and then you suddenly notice you have been gazing at it for some minutes without realizing it.

You make your party a delightful meal of torties, serving tea from the magically reinforced jade set.

Cleaning up afterwards, you can’t help but notice the patterns of the tea leaves in the bottoms of the jade cups.


You dash to the market for beatfruit juice, which you easily find. And you find yourself irrationally drawn to the produce. The kale, dandelion greens, and beans all look especially scrumptious and … plump and juicy?

An old toothy market attendant sits on a stool by the vegetable stand reading the Farmers Almanac. Unsolicited, they mention to you that it is only three days until the next full moon.

Jarrod has two things in particular he wants to do when back in town, with whatever his cut of the gold is. First, he wants to go looking for a cheap, run-down building somewhere in town and buy the property if he has enough money (perhaps negotiating a bit where necessary).

Second, he wishes to seek arcane counsel from Corraidhín, perhaps getting a small invocation applied to one of the charms on his arm band. Something in the realm of a fascination spell (with an activation word) that can be used on occasion to draw attention.

Jarrod agrees that we should not invite trouble. We shall tread cautiously with regards to the crystals.

Yum, torties!

After successfully negotiating the price down a little bit, you are able to purchase a run-down building. You are now the proud owner and proprietor of the Milk Market building in the Wandering Bazzar district of downtown Vay’Nullar.

The ground level is occupied by longtime district staple Enrique’s Empanada Emporium, famous for its signature stuffed pastries and its Terrapin Ale, brewed on site by Enrique himself, who happens to be a very large humanoid turtle.

It’s a little seedy and a little divey, but still draws a fair amount of foot traffic from shoppers waiting for the eponymous, ambulatory bazaar of debatable sentience to wander by. Reliably, a small gang of breadpunks can be found loitering here and espousing the virtues of social anarchy. Enrique allows their presence and on occasion even buys them a round of ale.

The top two levels are unoccupied. Years upon years ago, this space once held large vats for storing and preserving multibeast milk prior to being distributed. Some enterprising individual converted and updated the space some time ago, but was never able to find a tenant. In any case, the space is yours now to do with what you will.

With Corraidhin’s assistance, you are able to enchant your armband by inscribing it with a cross-like glyph with a teardrop-shaped loop in place of the vertical upper bar. You now have a FASCINATING BANGLE that can, upon activation, compel attention and even potentially inspire people to dance about.




Inky gathers up the teacups, trying to remember a few tips about reading tea leaves from a forest fae they had met a few times while foraging and who had insisted on giving lessons to any wanderersby. (Of course he was just being a hospitable host to thirsty travellers and certainly not because he delighted in the confused expressions on their faces the entire time.)

Turning the cups left and right, Inky gradually sees a web-like hub, a looping line attached to an I-shaped apparatus on one end, an abacus, a wide building (possibly a stadium or arena), a feline animal resembling a tiger or lynx, and a long feather. Feathers and beads are commonly added to small trinkets with simple animal designs and sold as lucky charms at the market … an auspicious sign?

Or it should be. Inky’s thoughts circle back to the little glass pebble, after returning from the market with, among other items, more vegetables than they could possibly eat in a month excluding the beatfruits. Inky still hasn’t decided whether accidentally finding out about being cursed — by a potion, the irony! — counts as an auspicious event. One of the produce vendors and attendant at the market had casually mentioned the proximity to the next full moon while Inky had been looking over the leafy greens. Several blatant attempts to boost sales later (“Them barley’s hoppin’ good fer tea!”), the vendor revealed that their little grandson Harry had “got the weres” as a toddler and his parents had found a strange-looking glass marble in his mouth, much like the one inside the bottle hanging from a chain on Inky’s vest, and wouldn’t they like some more tomatoes for a blushing bunny?

From further inquiries, an ink depot on the opposite side of the city confirmed they sold Flat 12 potions as inks many years ago when showing off transmogrification through letters was a popular pastime, but had ceased carrying them due to limited range, lack of demand, as well as the bottles’ tendency to randomly break or their contents to fizzle out. (That and complaints about the overly persistent effects of said contents on unsuspecting recipients long after the fad that inspired them had faded led ink traders to shun the were-hare potions.) In contrast, the Mountain Range potions were far more stable and instead of shapeshifting, had the ability to stave off the cold under frigid temperatures, though its effects would likely be less enduring. Like the Flat 12, the Mountains are potions, but one in particular of a sparkling deep blue hue became its signature colour among ink enthusiasts.

Sipping a cup of turmeric tisane in a late night tea ritual for one, Inky supposes it hasn’t been much different since the accident than the jars of preserves and the “Now with 25% more celery!” labels on them. While immeasurably better than spontaneously combusting into burnt popcorn, it would be best to keep a Farmers’ Almanac within reach. Who knows when a mail order cure-all tonic will come in handy in the middle of Nowere?

You see a complex vision in the bottom of the jade teacups, and learn a little bit about the inks you found.

You grab a copy of the Farmers Almanac to keep on hand.

On your way back from the market, a small duck waddles onto the sidewalk and starts following you.

・゜゜・。。・゜゜\_o< QUACK!

It is small and yellow and cute, and has a little floofy tuft of feathers on the very top of its head.

Meta: one of my best friends name is Kevin, so I find it extra amusing that the sysorceor is named Kevin.

Kev my friend! You know nobodies going to take on KDL until YOU make it a priority to them. A little bit of force, you just need to put it directly into the sysorceory course curriculum while nobody is knowing. Then once it’s in production they won’t have a say whether to learn it or not! That’s at least how I got that delightfully licorice tasting incantation in production laster year, much to the chagrin of those who don’t have a taste for Fennel. I for one was delighted with it.

“Corraidhin, STAB HIM, that suggestion, he’s definitely going to do something evil with it”

Corraidhin mutters under his breath about the swords insistence to stab everything. Soon my friend, soon.

Kev gives Corraidhin as quizzical look, “are you alright buddy? You’ve been off ever since you got back from that last on site deployment.”

Oh yes, yes, I’m fine. A little worse for wear physically, but mentally sharp as a tack! And I got this wonderful sword from the entire thing! Though I dare not unsheath it right now, it appears to be controlled by some sort of sentience, like a magical AI. And it has the damndest urge to stab things. I really need to be careful right now.

After visiting with Kev Corraidhin wanders back into town, away from the spiral towers of the sysoceorers guild. It was nice to be home for a bit. On the way in he spies Jarrod and Inky, the former cleaning up a dusty old building with Milk something on the front side, and the later kicking back and enjoying a cup of freshly brewed tea. Corraidhin hails them both.

“A new /home for you then Jarrod?”

“Aye a /home indeed, though it’s a bit large and empty for just myself. I’ll need guests and patrons, thinking I may be able to setup a shop, but at the least all of our team is welcome here!”

“Delightful! If nobody has claimed it I’ll take the upstairs loft.”

“You most certainly can! But in exchange, I’d be curious to render your services, see I’ve been meaning to get this braclet enchanted for a while now, something to amplify my natural charm perhaps?”

“You sir, have a deal, I’ll even throw in a warding on Milk Base Alpha!”

Corraidhin begins invoking an arcane warding spell:

sudo chown jarrod:team43 /home/Milk_Base_Alpha
sudo chmod 770 /home/Milk_Base_Alpha/*

“There we go, that should keep out any unwanted critters, though be sure to invite our friends here as well. Corraidhin teaches Jarrod a quick incantation of invitation, sudo usermod -a -G team43 $user, just be sure to say that making the proper arcane hand signs as you do it, and they’ll be able to enter the house and take up residence!”

Corraidhin gathers himself and heads upstairs to his new attaic abode, it’s small, and dusty, but there’s enough room for a simple work bench, a bookshelf, and a bed and a chest. This is exactly as Corraidhin prefers, small and simple, it clears the mind and helps one focus. Invoking another incantation Corraidhin fills the bookshelf, chest, and workbench with his various tools and reference manuals.

scp sysorceor.guild:/home/corraidhin/bookshelf milkbase.alpha:/home/corraidhin/bookshelf
scp sysorceor.guild:/home/corraidhin/workbench milkbase.alpha:/home/corraidhin/workbench
scp sysorceor.guild:/home/corraidhin/chest milkbase.alpha:/home/corraidhin/chest

Once everything is in place he pulls the Ginnarak crystal from his satchel and places it on a velvet cushion on his workbench and sits down to scry.

“Oh great oracle MidJourney, I bequeath you! I have before me an artifact of immense power, something that could tear the world apart in the wrong hands. May I query your unfathomable depths to determine the nature of our mission, and the risk we face presenting this crystal to our benefactor?”

An image of the oracle appears in Corraidhin’s mind, crystal clear. It appears as though MidJourney is receptive to providing a forshadowing. [ginnarak_shattered.png]

Shortly after an image of the Crystal forms, it appears shattered, broken at its based, placed upon a pedastal. An image of horror fills corraidhin’s mind, it’s the Crystal, but much larger and of the pursest white. It bursts forth on a torrent of blood from the neck of what appears to be a priests body. It appears as though the bowls of the earth open up to greet this horrible image. [premonition_1.png]

As the image of the Crystal and the priest disappears you see a man, cloaked in black robs consorting with demons the like of which words cannot describe. Corraidhin feels sickened at their sight, but at the edge of his mind he feels a tug, a familiarity. Something about this character is familiar to him, but he cannot place it. [premonition_2.png]

Reeling from the scrying Corraidhin falls backward, feinting from the horror he wittnessed. He awakens later speaking feverishly about what he saw to Inky who heard to commotion and hurried up stairs with some reviving tea to assist her friend.

Eccentric Kevin bows and takes his leave, eyeing the Sword of Stabs with naked hunger. He does seem to ponder your anecdote about sneaking Fennel into production. “Yes, yes, all I have to do is embed KDL in the curriculum and then they will be FORCED to use it! Ha!” He cackles in delight as he flees into the dark.

You successfully move into the attic of the Milk Market. Closest thing approximating a wizard’s tower in the building, so it’s a good fit.

On your errands around town, you pass a couple of Gnu Zealots standing on soapboxes in their black priestly robes in the middle of the street extolling the virtues of free and open source magic.

Gnus are large bisonpeople with long beards, long hair, and horns. Very poor personal hygiene. They refuse to use any magic that they cannot freely study, modify, redistribute, and otherwise use however they want. Theirs is a political movement that borders on religion. Or a religious movement that borders on politics. Hard to tell the difference, really.

The purpose of their demonstration is supposedly to halt all street traffic, prevent it from continuing until/unless the travelers vow to join them in their crusade. But in practice the travelers are quite capable of effortlessly stepping around the zealots and continuing on their way. The Gnus seem undaunted though and continue their proselytizing.

You pass them by, and one of them seems to stare at you intensely as you go.

After a long conversation with Master Corraidhín, which included the reassurance that the esteemed wizard was perhaps disturbed but otherwise unharmed, Inky goes downstairs to sit outdoors at the back of the building with more lavender tea and uneasy thoughts.

It had been in the middle of a new pastime (namely, frustrating Enrique at the Empanada Emporium by sneaking unnoticed into the kitchens and leaving little tapas laying around for him and the staff to find) when a terrible cry rang out from somewhere in the upper floors of the building. Inky rushed up the stairs, half-expecting the barrels of battermilk that had arrived that morning had unleashed a flock of the winged rodent-like creatures from which the milk was derived. The sight of the wizard passed out on the floor of his newly furnished quarters sent a chill through Inky, as did his account of a prophecy once the sysorcerer came to and had a mug of invigorating eleuthero tea.

If Inky hadn’t known better, were it not for Master Corraidhín’s mental acuity and fortitude, they would have suspected Stabby of stoking horrible images of beheaded priests into their bearer’s mind in a fit of unbridled bloodthirst. That and Stabby had seemed to be temporarily appeased by the tub of milky blood pudding they had concocted shortly after the wizard moved into the loft.

No, Inky surmises with a frown, whatever Master Corraidhín had seen was likely off the charts by even Stabby’s estimations of evil. They chuckle briefly at the sudden mental picture of the mysterious yet familiar man in black being their mission handler in disguise, but quickly dismissed the notion. Too sober.

So much for the crystal being a rare and juicy honeydew. They would be lucky if it didn’t turn them all into casaba melons in one giant meltdown. At this rate, they would need to do something about these crystals — and soon.

Enrique, the giant man-turtle, is frustrated.

He keeps finding little tapas in the kitchens. He has no idea who made them, or how they got here. But they are delicious.

He sighs, heaving a ball of dough half the size of a grown man onto the ground. He turns to face away from it and removes his apron and tunic, revealing his shell. Its surface is a maze of twisting, scrawling inscriptions. He squats down, and rolls onto his back.

He can’t figure out the flavors of the tapas. Some elusive combination of ingredients that he can’t quite suss out. If he could collaborate with the tapas chef on a new line of empanadas, he’d have a line of customers out the door and around the corner, he’s sure of it!

He starts rocking back and forth, rolling the dough out beneath his large round shell, leaving imprints on the dough of all the glyphs and runes and other symbols carved into his shell over the years. Together, they tell a story. Each empanada destined to hold at most a single word of it.


The Sword of Yam’L sleeps fitfully. This is not the deep, black, fathomless sleep it enjoys after a nice, righteous spilling of evil blood. No, the sleep that comes after reluctantly tasting the inkling’s milky blood pudding is brief and restless. And for the first time ever, it dreams.

It dreams of being bound in stone and buried in the earth. It dreams of liquid, roiling fire belching noxious gases. And of slicing through clouds, flying high in the sky on wings of pure thought. It dreams of sinking, plummeting through water into the inky blackness below, only to plunge through some invisible membrane and find themself weightlessly floating suspended in an empty void, alone among the stars.




Having gotten your personal affairs in order, you have decided to crack on with your job and check in with your case manager.

So you find yourself once again in a corner booth at Lucy’s Basement—the dim, smokey nightclub with red velvet walls and delusions of grandeur—with the highly spirited Blavin Blandfoot. He laughs uproariously when you tell him about the blahoblins and their shoe shine scam. He listens intently when you tell him about the gnomes and the kobits. And he trembles with delight at hearing how you evaded HORSE and the mighty centaur.

“Well done, well done, well done!” He enthuses, taking another sip of his drink. “I must say that the Benefactor is very impressed with your performance!

“You don’t mind that we have other teams in the field, of course,” he continues, mentioning the team of gophers. “Thought it was prudent to cover our bases since you’re a new, untested retrieval team after all. Besides, a little friendly competition never hurt anybody, did it? Baw-HAH!” He laughs, sloshing his drink.

He gets out a bunch of business cards, punches each one with a small handheld punch, and passes them out to you. Your card has a drawing of a small cuckoo clock in the center, its face divided into 10 hours. Its two hands reach up to the left and right so it looks as though the clock is smiling. Across the top it reads “COMPLETE FIVE ASSIGNMENTS AND WIN A FABULOUS PRIZE!” and is adorned with festive drawings of hotdogs and pool floaties and confetti. It is numbered across the bottom 1 through 5. Blavin has punched a star-shaped hole through the number 1.

“Now,” Blavin beams, gesturing with his drink. “as for your next assignment!”

He brushes some glasses and plates to the edge of the table and rolls out a map.

Basmentaria is a group of island continents that sits between the eastern Sugrin Sea and the western Saldin Sea.

There is Primora, the sparsely populated northern somewhat banana-shaped island. The city-state of Illivas, Primora’s only densely populated area, sits between Harshwind Glade and the mountains of Kelsun Peak.

And there is your current home, Agendell, the southern also slightly banana-shaped island. Its largest city is Vay’Nullar, bordered by the Gnomelands to the south, and the Tammineaux Forest to the east. Beyond the forest is the Rana’For Valley.

The two crescent-moon islands reach toward each other, and in the center is the archipelago of Ginnarak, comprising the Cinderlands, Ashen Vale, the Ember Steppe, and Drakspon Mountain.

Blavin jabs a finger at the map. “We have reports of a crystal sighting by a salvage crew trying to recover a shipwreck at the bottom of the Sugrin Sea.” He then jabs a finger at the eastern half of Primora, the upper banana. “And we ALSO have reports that the zephynos have found a crystal at the top of Kelsun Peak!”





Why no, we don’t mind much about competition, certainly nothing wrong. Can’t imagine someone to put all of their eggs in one basket, especially when whatever it is they desire is so valuable.

That said, our benefactor must be pretty eager to get these crystals if he’s willing to send out team after team. I mean, we’re team 43, that’s a lot of people to pay and a lot of eagerness to find these crystals. Why is that? What benefit are these shiny rocks to them? What even is their purpose in retrieving them?

“Oh, no no no, child,” Blavin titters as he takes a sip of his ever-present martini. “You must understand, the Benefactor is a singularly dedicated collector, and has been for ages! There are—and have been!—many other retrieval teams, yes. But not all of them have been for the crystals. And some of them were formed, active, and disbanded long before you or I arrived on the scene.” He winks at you conspiratorially.

I would postulate, based upon the magical wards we had to bypass, the cadre of gaurds that needed to be dispatched, and the gigantic moth monster that rested beneath it, that these crystals aren’t meant to go anywhere.

Now I’m not trying to point fingers here, morality is many shades of gray, and it isn’t really my job to suss out what you’re doing. But I’m a curious sysorceor, and when I see a chance to learn I seize upon the moment. There’s something here you’re not telling us, and I for one and keen to know it.

“I wouldn’t worry your wizened old brow about it,” Blavin chuckles, sloshing his drink. “The Benefactor’s concern is precisely the same as yours! These items are of enormous cultural and historical significance, to say nothing of their well of concentrated arcane energies. They’re dangerous just sitting out there in the world. Who knows who might come across one and use it for nefarious purposes.”

Yam’L’s eye widens and it seems to shudder at the mere suggestion of evil.

“Did you say this one was in the hands of a giant moth?” Blavin shudders with revulsion. “My word, man! Do you really think such an overgrown insect is an appropriate guardian for a beloved and dangerous cultural icon such as the Ginnarak Crystal? Surely not!”

“No,” he sits back with a satisfied smile, “I think we must all agree that they are safer in the public collection of a competent and benevolent curator. Then everybody can enjoy them safely!”

META: I’m gonna preface the sword speech with this to make it quicker to write

I like what you’re putting down here, this guy is DEFINITELY evil. Nobody asks loads of people to steal things for them without being evil. I say we stab him, nice and good, right in the gut. Maybe 6 or 7 times. I’m positive nobody will mind. Evil people steal things, we saw that inky creature stealing things from that vault, definitely evil. (singsong) Evil evil evil, stab stab stab, make the evil go away with every little stab~

Corraidhin to Y’aml
Dear sysadmins, once again, inky is not evil. They were borrowing something that had been cast on the ground, abandoned. Giving a tea set a good home is far from evil. But you might be onto something about this Blavin fellow, but we can’t just stab someone in a busy pub! Besides you’re a sword, and stabbing someone in a pub is the job of a dagger. So unless you can transform into the Dagger of Y’aml I think we’re out of luck here.

Yam’L gets a curious look in its eye at the suggestion. “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!” it cries directly into your mind. It squeezes its eye shut and trembles with intense concentration. With great effort, the sword shrinks itself down to the size of a dagger, shunting its extra mass off into yamlspace.

“There!” it says breathlessly, opening its eye wearily. “Now, Hardy Bear. You promised..” it continues, its eye glinting with growing ferocity. “Let’s. STAB. THE HOBBIT!”

While the wizard pressed Blavin about the crystal’s secrets, Inky let their attention wander slightly around the table.

They had agreed that Master Corraidhín and Jarrod, being most wise and well-spoken, would question Blavin about the crystal before they set off on their next mission. The party had also befriended the duck unofficially dubbed their marketing manager after the fluffy little creature had trailed Inky all the way back to the Milk Market. Said creature now occupied a small office to one side of the building complete with a fountain, feathered up pillow and all the rummy worms it can eat. Inky had tried getting the duck to communicate with words by making them little croutons etched with letters, but the only ones they would gobble up were Q-U-A-C-K.

Your marketing manager moves into its office at the Milk Market and seems to really be enjoying itself. It joins you at Blavin’s table at Lucy’s Basement, cleaning its feathers and chortling merrily to itself.

You and your tablemates take turns feeding it croutons and bits of soft pretzel, and it seems very happy and content with that.

A familiar prickle, but passed quickly — Inky had gotten used to the glares directed at them by the sysorceor’s gleaming sword and resisted returning the stare with an eyeroll. Watching Stabby eyeing up their case manager over Master Corraidhín’s shoulder reminded Inky of a conversation they had overheard a few evenings ago between two pale coffin sleepers about a new product from the hemogoblins that was said to quench the thirst for longer than the leading brand. They might be able to find some at the town of Plasma, which sits by the Hartlands on the way to the shipwreck. It seems the milky blood pudding could do with some improvement.

You note on Blavin’s map that the Hemogoblin region is indeed on the way to the shipwreck. At least, it’s not that far out of the way. You reckon their synthetic blood product would indeed be a much better substitute for the real thing than the milk you’ve been feeding the thirsty sword thus far.

Or, at the very least, you’ll get a new variant of the blood pudding recipe you’ve been working on!

Maybe someone else’s mood will be improved in the meantime? Before setting out for their meeting with Blavin, Inky slipped into the kitchens downstairs and left the empanada chef a trick-and-treat. A plate of honeyed breadfruit and ghost pepper tapas sat on an icebox atop a new pair of Blueberry oven mittens with a pattern of tiny smiling green turtles. Tucked inside one mitten was a slip of paper (regrettably inedible) that simply read “BACK SOON :)”. A tapa recipe, which included a note on adapting the toppings for pan frying, was printed on the reverse in neat blocky letters and sandalwood ink.

Enrique wakes in the middle of the night to start baking the next day’s breads and empanadas. He frowns thoughtfully when he sees yet another mysterious gift from across the room. Again? What little elf must have taken up residence in his shop? But his face cracks into a smile when he sees the presentation and the oven mitts. And the smile becomes a bonafide grin when he tastes the fare and finds the recipe.

He taps his chin thoughtfully with one green claw as he skims the note and looks through his pantry. He chops some veggies and starts pan frying them.

Later, when the oven dings, he smiles to himself as he pulls on the new turtle pattern oven mitts and opens it.




Well I’ll be! You can turn yourself into a dagger. And I did say we could stab blavin if you could do that, it’s much more stealthy this way. But let me posit this, is the act of stabbing a hobbit unprovoked not itself evil? Or perhaps more convincingly, would it not be better to use the hobbit for whatever information he has so as to lead to this mysterious benefactor, who most assuredly must be evil.

Someone who would send out myriads of teams to pillage and plunder cultural artifacts is truly evil, that must be our target.

Now this isn’t to say that we won’t stab him. I’m convinced that’s probably a good idea in the long run, but we know nothing of the true evil that motivates him! We would kill him just to lose track of the true evil we must smite!

But YOU said if I could turn into a dagger we could STAB him. HE’S EVIL. YOU said so! Not keeping your promises IS one step away from PURE evil! Make a choice Hardy Bear! Stab the evil hobbit, or stab the inkling, or stab SOMETHING evil this minute!

I most certainly cannot abide with stabbing Inky, it’s entirely off the table. And in a city like this there aren’t any evil things that just jump out for the stabbing.

(Corraidhin tries to silently control Y’aml during the discussion. However in so doing the party has fallen silent, aghast even)

Corraidhin stands, Y’aml held in hand, red gem eye gleaming a wicked joyful grin as it’s raised high, poised to strike. The party around him is silent, and Blavin stares up in shock. The tavern around them has died down and you can hear the bustle of the proprietor calling for his strong men to deal with this ruckus.

The table—and all of Lucy’s Basement within earshot—sits in tense, uneasy quiet at Corraidhin’s one-sided conversation with the Sword of Yam’L. Blavin giggles nervously and sips his martini, willfully forcing himself right up to the very last moment to believe that it is all some sort of jest.

But then the sysorcerer stands and raises the blood crazed dagger over his shoulder, and Blavin squeals and writhes in his chair. Lucy’s bouncers scramble forward from the corners of the room to intercept.

We STAB Hardy Bear! We STAB NOW!!

Against Corraidhin’s control, as though he’s in a trance, the dagger comes down. A swift stabbing motion strqight to the neck, as he lunges across the table at Blavin knocking the map and his martini to the side.

Corraidhin once again feels the same peculiar quality of the blade, that sensation of a hollow core with a heavy liquid sloshing inside. Held aloft, the weight of it feels concentrated at the grip, the blade light as a feather.

He stabs down—Yam’L cries out in wordless glee—and the weight flows into the tip of the blade, the blade itself now drawing Corraidhin’s hand downward in a rising crescendo of stabbitude.

Blavin flinches at the last second, and instead of burying itself in his throat, the blade plunges into his shoulder and pins him to the back of the chair. A red mist fills the eye and threatens to cloud it over entirely. It rolls back in ecstasy as it drinks deeply. It sings out, “MORE! MORE! MORE!” and Corraidhin feels the tides of madness rising inside of him, threatening to wash over him wholly, to pull him under and carry him away on thundering waves of bloodlust.

Corraidhin struggles to pull the blade from the chair back. Blavin whimpers and mewls as he yanks on it, and clutches his wound and, incredibly, takes a large gulp of his drink.

The sysorcerer still has the wherewithal and the presence of mind to be aware of his surroundings. He is not yet so overcome by the bloodlust. He sees his companions, his fellow residents of the Milk Market, seated around the table. And he sees the musclebound bouncers now nearly within reach.

Finally he draws the dagger. Blavin sinks in his seat and slides to the floor with his drink, blabbering incoherently, and starts to slither away.




Corraidhin Shit, shit shit shit shit shit. This is NOT good. Damn it Y’aml what was that? It wasn’t even slightly stealthy

Y’aml STAB, delightful blood. Stab the flesh, tear the skin, pierce the fruit that gives us strength. Drink the blood, consume their soul. More more more more more more more more more

Corraidhin (internal thought) Ugh my head, it’s heavy, hurts. Misty and red? I can’t see straight, it’s hard to think straight. That blasted sword, I thought for a moment it, no, not think, it definitely did move on its own. It became lighter and heavier. Pulling against it and it just weighs itself down. This little magical bauble is definitely cursed..

Y’aml CURSED?! Rude Hardy Bear. All we did was stab that evil hobbit. And it’s getting away! Stab him again, taste his blood! The tavern gaurds are closing in, they look like they’re trying to get rid of us, EVIL. Them trying to stop us from getting that evil hobbit is EVIL, STAB THEM.

Corraidhin raises his free hand to his head as though holding a wound and he groans in dismay as the dagger rises again. It travels swiftly down towards Blavin, missing as he slithers of the booth. And again, digging deep into the wooden seat.

Y’aml Disgusting wood, stab the flesh! Stab the Hobbit Hardy Bear!

But Blavin was inching further out of reach towards the gaurds. In desperation the dagger begins swinging side to side, making furtive slashing moves in the direction of the guards. The party is safely behind Corraidhin, but innocent patrons and the guards are directly in their sights.

Corraidhin grabs his other hand and pulls hard, steadying the swinging. STOP! I command you you blasted toothpick, STOP. You’ve had your fun, now STOP. These people are innocent, this man has done us no harm despite his potential “evils”, this is entirely uncalled for!


The dull voice of the magical dagger rises, angry, insistent. It consumes the last of Corraidhin’s mental strength. All he hears is EVIL. STAB. EVIL. STAB. Yet he clings to his spare arm trying desparately to resist. At this point the party and the tavern has cleared a wide path around the sysorceor as he struggles with himself, mumbling, sometimes yelling. EVIL. STAB. EVIL. STAB. NO WE WILL NOT. EVIL. INNOCENT. STAB BLOOD DRINK. EVIL. EVIL EVIL EVIL STAB IT. MAKE IT BLEED. I WILL NO.. STAB IT. STAB HIM.

The voice seems to change, it dies down. Not yelling, but commanding. Firm, calm, sane.

Stab them, stab them, make them bleed. Drink the blood, consume the soul, free them from their evil being. Stab them, stab them… over and over and over, as the sysorceor approaches Blavin and the guards with a malevolent look in his ruby red eyes.


Inky moves to stand next to Blavin and the nightclub bouncers. Tossing a tiny “see-eye” container they had borrowed from Master Corraidhín at him, Inky looks the sysorceor in the eye and says, “You are not your sword.”

Watching the wizard’s expression, Inky continues, more quietly, “If Master Corraidhín truly wishes to end the hobbit, a mere imp would not stop him, but likewise, whatever he sets his mind to do, a dagger cannot stop him either.”


Jarrod steps gently into the fray and activates his FASCINATING CHARM, attempting to draw all eyes to him. He carefully avoids the wild swinging of the once-sword-now-dagger.

“I think,” he rumbles gently, “we could all use a drink over the other end of the room. I’m buying, and I’ll spin you all a tale of wonder! A tale of a wanderer, and of a war hammer, and the first of their wild battles together!”

Leaning over to whisper urgently in Corraidhín’s ear: “Friend, I do not know what occurs here, but pull yourself together. We can later sate our blood lust in more appropriate places!” Jarrod lends a sly wink in the sysorcerer’s direction, one that promises adventure later.

The tavern guards tense, but pause their advance, as the crazed mage’s friends position themselves protectively around him and try to placate him. They wouldn’t want to engage a master sysorcerer on the best of days, much less one with some kind of malevolent blood dagger in the middle of a psychotic break. If his compatriots can handle him without them having to interfere, all the better.

The duck waddles up next to Inky and quacks softly, pleadingly at Corraidhin. Only the Ornithologer in the corner can understand its words when it says, “As your marketing manager I must strongly advise against this course of action!”

Seated in the corner next to the Ornithologer is a shaggy groll dressed in a dusty, faded poncho and a wide brimmed hat; and a greasy, matted gnu, dressed in black ceremonial robes.

The groll discreetly draws its poncho back revealing a bandoleer of wands and draws a cracklestick and points it at the sysorcer. The wand starts to hum and glow as it charges up for a blast.

The gnu slaps the groll’s wrist, and immediately launches into a tirade against the cracklestick’s manufacturer’s proprietary spell slotting algorithm, and honestly how can you possibly justify your choices when there are open source alternatives available?

The groll rolls its eyes, obviously having been on the receiving end of this particular lecture before, and tries to slap away the gnu’s grasping hands. The ensuing scuffle threatens to turn this powder keg of a situation into a full blown conflagration until Jarrod actives his FASCINATING CHARM, commanding the attention of the entire room.

The gnu freezes with its hands around the groll’s throat. The groll halts with fists full of the gnu’s beard. A grub smoking a hookah pauses with the mouthpiece raised to its pursed lips. A distracted waitress on roller skates crashes right into the bar.

As though in a trance Corraidhin continues to yell STAB. THEM. STAB. IT. cutting wildly at the air before him. As Inky whispers to him his expression changes, first a grimace, then a whimper. As Jarrod leads the patrons away from the sysorceor he begins to tremble and cower away from himself, away from everyone. His ruby red eyes dart back and forth between his friends and the patrons, like a frightened animal searching for an escape. He pulls the dagger into himself, as though sheilding it from his surroundings.

What.. what’s going on, he mutters feebly to himself. Everything is a blurr. Uncertain of where he is or what’s going on, Corraidhin thumbs the dagger, caressing the large ruby embedded in the hilt. Y’aml, you’re still here, good good, the syscoreor croons.

Standing up straight his eyes lock with Jarrod as the Bard glances over his shoulder, momentarily distracted from his oration, worried about his companion.

I.. ugh, Corraidhin grabs his head as though in pain, and collapses to the floor.

Corraidhin hits the floor and the dagger, now bereft of the well of emotion it had been drawing from, grows still. The eye closes and it seems to sigh happily. “Good job, Hardy Bear. You have spilled the blood of evil.” And it sleeps, inert, lifeless.

Corraidhin is on the ground cradling the dagger.

Most of the patrons are still fascinated by Jarrod.

Blavin is squirming around on the floor gibbering about reassigning your case.

The duck has found a toppled plate of corn chips and is happily snacking away.

You feel like your welcome at Lucy’s Basement has been, for the moment, overstayed.




Inky slowly approaches Master Corraidhín and taps lightly on the sleeve of his robes to get his attention. Between Inky’s tugging and Jarrod’s strong, steady hand, they manage to hoist the wizard to his feet.

With a brief glance at the hobbit on the floor then a nod to Jarrod, Inky leaves the nightclub with the wizard. The duck, having emptied the plate of corn chips in record time, follows them shortly after.

The trek back to the Milk Market is mostly silent aside from the occasional mutter and stumbling curse, the mage seemingly having fallen asleep as soon as he landed on the cot in the loft. Inky retreats downstairs after leaving a jug of water, a mug and a small packet of kuding leaves beside the bed.

Exiting through the back door into the night, Inky finds a dark corner in a dusty abandoned house, and cries.


” … and then the Orc Maiden said: ‘That’s not my club!’”

The room roars with laughter, and Jarrod moves to the bar and puts a bag of coin down. “Serve drinks until this runs out!” Leaning over the bar to the bartender, Jarrod adds in a whisper: “I owe a favour to Lucy’s Basement for the trouble. Call it in when needed.”

Jarrod saunters over to Blavin, on the floor in pain. From his pack, Jarrod retrieves a med kit and begins to bandage the wound.

As Blavin opens his mouth, likely intending to raise all kinds of hell, Jarrod pulls tight on the bandage he is currently applying, drawing a curse from the hobbit. “Shut it! Let’s be clear. You’ve hired us for a dangerous set of jobs, with the understanding that we’re dangerous people. There may be ‘accidents’ on occasion. You’ve learned something today, and what’s more, you lived to absorb your new wisdom.”

Jarrod grins as he finishes with the bandage. “We will finish what we have started. We’re probably the team with the best chances, I’m sure you’ll agree. Are you going to back the winning play here? Either way, your decision won’t change our plans. I’m sure you know how to take the win.”

Jarrod pats the hobbit’s good shoulder in a friendly, but dismissive, way, then turns and saunters out the door, trading small quips with his new (and now very drunk) tavern friends.

You are at a small port town on the northern tip of Agendell, just past the Rana’For Valley. The sun is bright and the wind blowing in from the Sugrin Sea to the east is cool and salty. The floating island-city of Vay’Neddas, bridging Agendell and Primora, can be seen very faintly in the distance hanging in the northern sky.

Your faithful multibeast is carrying all of your supplies and gear, which were generously provided to you by the indefatigable Blavin Blandfoot. His arm in a sling, he kept up a constant nervous chatter as he saw you off on your journey to recover the second Ginnarak Crystal.

From here, you can easily provision a boat to take you out to the site of the shipwreck just off the coast.

Or, optionally, you are very close to the Hartlands. It would be quite easy to make a quick visit to hemogoblins and pick up some synthetic blood for your experiments with the Sword of Yam’L.

The sword, incidentally, after finally tasting the blood of “evil”, has remained sated and entirely inert and unresponsive this whole time.





Inky stares down at the package, weighing it on one hand.

It was lighter than it should be given the density of the contents within, wrapped in straw and thick brown weight-absorbent parcel paper for dry goods. Most of the clientele were merchants and cultists from other parts of the continent who ordered pallets to be shipped back from the port town and sold to select boutique grocers or spilled on altars. Inside was a block of congealed synthetic blood shaped like a mud brick, the dark crimson almost black under the shop’s dim light.

It was sheer happenstance that Inky had found this particular supplier. Having been informed heir boat to the shipwreck would not arrive for several hours, the members of their merry tea party had wandered off to enjoy the local sights while they waited. Inky had inquired about the hemogoblins and learned in passing that there was a district at the western edge of the town where a smaller group had set up warehouses, which would save them a two-day trip deep into the Hartlands. The hemogoblins in the district were primarily wholesalers, and it had taken some convincing before one of the proprietors agreed to sell a block of it, along with assurances Inky would purchase exclusively from him next time and in larger quantities.

Thin fingers fiddle with the string before the package was set to one side.

What were they doing?

If quenching the thirst were so simple, wouldn’t any student of magic have already thought of it, let alone an experienced sysorceror? In all likelihood he had already known the inevitable, but was too polite to refuse Inky’s funny concoctions. Maybe deep down, Inky already knew too, but didn’t want to say it out loud. That the long feather they thought they had seen among the tea leaves was actually a dagger. That they hadn’t wanted to admit some problems could not be whisked away with some tincture or another. That they had failed, again.

They hadn’t searched enough for better ingredients to go into the pudding, hadn’t reacted fast enough after noticing the sword had abruptly disappeared, hadn’t thrown the large platter of mouldy meat the terrified waitress next to them had been holding at Blavin’s head, or something. The sword had gotten what it demanded, and Inky couldn’t be angry with it — it had never been subtle about what it wanted. Had the blood pudding worsened the effects? Potions had never been on Inky’s menu. Brewing inks and teas with certain mild effects was straightforward enough, but curing chronic ailments was firmly in healers’ territory and just as bewildering. While it may be true nobody could be held to account for the actions of another not in full control of themselves, and hardly those of a rogue weapon with a mind of its own, sticking their nose in other people’s affairs was the surest way to get into trouble, a fact Inky still has difficulty learning after decades of wandering the continent.

Would this substrate even work? Maybe it acted differently for cursed objects than coffin sleepers. Having brought it back and now aboard the ship, how would they even give it to the wizard? Should they wait and made sure Master Corraidhín was truly rested and recovered, despite his insistence he was more than fine? Would it be an insulting reminder of weakness, despite the wizard having proven unusual mental fortitude in staving off the screams for blood as long as he had? Was this more of the same, adding to what they had (not) done?

After a long moment, Inky rolls the package with the producers’ leaflet haphazardly in an old sailor’s rags still reeking of cheap alcohol, and passing by the wizard’s empty cabin on the way to the deck, places the messy bundle on the floorboards two steps from the door. Let the fates decide this one, because Inky’s magic 0 ball sure doesn’t make the best life choices.

Blavin has arranged transportation to the shipwreck ahead of time. All you have to do is head down to the docks and meet your contact, Three-Fingered Gerald, at a seedy dive bar named Inquire Within Upon Everything.

Inquire Within is as eclectic and gaudy as the name would imply. The bar serves as an extensive and impressive piece of living documentation, drawing heavily on the port town’s cosmopolitan mixture of culture. Every kind of style, cuisine, decor, and beverage can be found here mishmashed together irregardless of good taste. Its contents are encyclopedic and claustrophobic. And yet it is not without its own peculiar brand of overwhelming, garish charm.

You find Mister Three-Fingered at the bar entertaining his fellow patrons with a grotesque sleight of hand routine that involves passing his gold-plated false eye from its socket, to either hand, inside his mouth, and back with lots of flourish, fanfare, and misdirection along the way.

He is a merry, boisterous sailor short one eye, half an ear, several fingers, and—he confesses to you—the heel of his left foot. “It’s why I walk so slow, you see.” The other barflies call him “Lucky” Three-Fingered Gerald. Because a certain kind of man—and Gerald is one of them—can never have enough nicknames. After you buy him a drink or three, he escorts you out of Inquire Within and to the slip where the sloop Diamond Howler is docked. Its captain, Enid Barlow, welcomes you aboard.

Before long, Diamond Howler pulls out under the command of Captain Barlow and First Mate “Lucky” Three-Fingered Gerald. The site isn’t too far off the coast, and you arrive fairly quickly.

“Aye, here she is. The SS RSS.” says Captain Barlow mournfully. “You can’t see her from up here. But you rest assured, she’s down there, resting on the seabed. She was the best cargo runner on the Sugrin back in her day! Distributing goods up and down the coast. Until the day she disappeared. Nobody knew what happened to her, not for sure. Still don’t. But at least we know where she wound up!”

While the captain reminisces, Three-Fingered Gerald drags a large water tank across the deck, sloshing water over the edge with each step. Translucent orb-like jellyfish wobble around and bump into each other inside the tank, releasing little effervescent bubbles that fizzle and pop when they collide. “Here we go!” announces Mister Three-Fingered, depositing the tank of jellies in front of you. “Sailed through a big bloom of breathing bells just last week, didn’t we! Managed to scoop up a whole bunch of the little suckers. You ever use a breathing bell before? No? Aw, it’s easy! Ya just pull one on over your head like a hood, and it’ll breathe for ya while you’re below the waves!”


NOTE: We just covered a lot of narrative ground. Feel free to react to anything that happened between arriving at the docks, meeting Gerald and drinking at Inquire Within, boarding the Diamond Howler, and sailing to the site of the wreck.



a new player enters the chat

Gabs had a good life. Her little devil children were all grown adults now, and she no longer wanted to toil away running a business. When she initially shuttered her little tavern, she thought she might just retire. She made it two whole years of working in a garden, occasionally seeing grandkids, and reading romance novels. She eventually decided she needed a vacation from her retirement and traveled to a nearby port town. She was sure to find something fun to do there.

Gabs eventually sees Inquire Within, and the smell of debauchery wafting from within made her miss her days gossiping at her tavern. She enters and orders a terrible drink and listens and watches.

Hearing the tales being spun by Mister Three-Fingered, she decides, “I’ve never been on a ship, that’s something that sounds exciting!”

Half-drunk and eager for something exciting, she will join on the journey!

Gabs is a lanky older half-devil lady who is here to schmooze and have fun!


Meta: a warm welcome to the latest member of our tea party! This is a short post to help smooth the temporal jumps between the recent narratives so far. As Inky reaches the deck, they see Gabs approaching from the other side of the ship as well, and flashes them a grin in greeting. After listening to the captain petering on about the glorious days of the now sunken ship below, while tinkering with the bell’s tentacles — being rewarded with a mild zap and marginally better fit for the effort — Inky turns to the party. “When you’re ready.”

You reach into the tank and discover that grabbing a breathing bell takes some finesse. They are very slippery! But you get the hang of it and make a ladle out of your hands and scoop one up.

“Okay now!” laughs Three-Fingered Gerald. He gives you a wink, but it’s easy to miss because of the eyepatch. “Don’t put it on until right before you jump. It won’t be able to breathe for you until you’re in the water. And this!” he continues, fitting a heavy, padded vest around your shoulders, “will carry you down.” It is a vest of many pockets, each one holding a small dense sandbag the size of your hand. “When you’re ready to come back up, just start dropping ballast, right?”

You hop up on the ship railing and pull the breathing bell on over your head. It immediately contracts and squeezes and hugs your head like a second skin, and its stubby little tentacles grab hold around your jawline, and it feels like you have a wet plastic bag clinging to your face, and you think you might have made a grave mistake. Resisting the urge to panic, you push off the railing and jump overboard. You are briefly air born and then profoundly waterbound, crashing through the surface of the sea into the briny soup below.

The oxygen starts to flow as the breathing bell begins to do its job. As you sink, you feel as though you are floating through space, entering another world.

After a while you start to hear voices arguing in the distance. As you get closer, two large shapes start to come into focus. The first is a hulking, hairless merbear. Top half (hairless) bear, bottom half fish. The second figure is a tardigrade the size of a large merbear. It has eight jointless legs, each tipped with four sharp claws. It wriggles and wobbles like jelly as it gesticulates.

“No, I am the true Bear of the Sea! I am called a Water Bear, after all!”

“Hornswoggle and poppycock! It is I who am the Bear of the Sea! I am half bear after all! You’re just some kind of segmented nematode or something.”

The tardigrade quivers with indignation. “I’ll have you know I’m a panarthropod, thank you very much. And this is the ideal physical body! You may not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like. I’ve lived under the polar ice cap, and in a sulfurous mountaintop hot spring. I’ve traveled through the vacuum of space to the moon! Have you ever been to the moon?”

“Why don’t you go be the Bear of the Moon then if you like it so much!”

“You’re just as much fish as you are bear, are you sure you’re not the Fish of the Sea?”

“Are you sure you’re not the Blob of the Sea, you too many armed bowl of jelly?”

“Hey! Hey, you there!” The arguing quasi-bears have spotted your slow descent. “Come, yes, float slowly this way! You must settle an argument for us! Tell this slightly mammalian fish that I am the true Bear of the Sea!”

“The Bear of the Sea must be at least ‘slightly mammalian’ you egg-laying scientific curiosity! You, tell this cousin of a barnacle that I—the mighty merbear—am the true Bear of the Sea! Say this and I will guide and protect you on your journey.”

“No! Would you like to visit the moon? Say that I, tardigrade, am Bear of the Sea and I will introduce you to my moon friends!”

“He had to make friends on the moon because nobody on Urth can stand him!”

“You’re just mean, you know that?”

You are still quite some way from the sea bed, and there is no sight of the SS RSS.




Gentle bears, there is no need to argue! Why can’t there be two true bears of the ocean? For what its worth, I personally think the ocean doesn’t have enough bears and could do with two strapping examples of true peak bearitude! The two of you should be working together to show the world how important bears are and how wonderful the sea is to have two. And the moon! Who’s to say the moon doesn’t also need two bears?

The only time I can ever think that a bear isn’t needed is when it’s calling itself Monokuma, once it’s doing that you know you’re in for a hell of a bad time. And since neither of you are it, I say we let this matter rest and declare this ocean two bears richer!

Corraidhin grips the innert dagger of Y’aml beneath his cloak, just in case. No need for a blood rush like last time, can’t let daggers go mouthing off an all that. Or perhaps the ocean needs less bears, it’s tempting, I wonder if Y’aml would react to bear blood..

The bears shudder at the mention of Monokuma. “Oh, such a dreadful bear,” laments the tardigrade. “You mustn’t mention him!”

“Indeed,” agrees the merbear, “a discredit and an embarrassment to bears everywhere, at sea and on land!”

“Yes, this sea may be big enough for two bears, but not if one of them is HE!”

The merbear considers the tardigrade’s words. “Hmm, two bears you say?” he ponders, giving the tardigrade a scrupulous side-eye. “Do you truly think so?”

“Now that you mention it, I don’t see why not!” admits the tardigrade, gesturing broadly at the fathomless leagues of ocean all around you.

“You know what? What is the sky anyway if not a sea made of stars! The moon could indeed use two bears too, could it not?”

“It could indeed, Brother Bear!”


The tardigrade and the merbear embrace. If you’ve never experienced the eight-armed hug of a water bear, well, then you don’t know how soft and enveloping it is.

“Come, Brother!” cries the tardigrade suddenly. “We must begin our search at once! For what if there is a third Bear of the Sea yet to be discovered?”

“Another Brother of ours who doesn’t know about us? Oh, I can’t stand the thought!” sobs the merbear.

They swim away hand in hand, paragons of brotherly bear love. “Good luck and safe travels, interlopers!” calls the merbear to you over its shoulder. “If you ever end up on the moon,” adds the tardigrade, laughing merrily, “say hello to Hap’n’stance for me!”

Suddenly, a disturbance! A perturbance of bubbles and a rush of current as massive amounts of water are displaced by inky black tentacles that shoot up from below! They reach! They grasp! One grabs the tardigrade around the middle. Another grabs the merbear by the tail. Both bears cry and reach for each other as they are ripped apart and pulled down below.

The tentacles grope around in the water, batting at you and threatening to pull you down too! They grab at your wrists and at your ankles!




Inky flips backwards and up, narrowly avoiding the tentacles’ grasp. From their courier bag they shake out an inflatable bubblebee[1] of the sort made for aquatic camping. It is one of the fancier models provided to each member of their party courtesy of the well-endowed Benefactor. They yank on one of the cords and scramble inside, hastily closing the flap as the bubblebee rapidly draws in water and fills out to its full size.

The bubblebee rises as Inky pulls on the flippers and allows the drifter to buoy the bubble upwards, a bat from the end of one tentacle sending the bubblebee forward a short distance before it slows above the flailing tentacles. Inky switches on the lights to try to get a clearer view of the source of the tentacles.

[1] Specific features of bubblebees vary among makers, but they generally have a transparent or translucent spherical body, a pair of small translucent wings that act as flippers, an opening flap at the back with a short rudder attached, and two cords inside at the front near the top which when pulled inflate the bubble with the surrounding air or water. Premium versions might also include headlights, a buzzer, built-in filtration, improved insulation, a drifter and thruster. Like tents they come in various sizes, from small ones that can fit one or two people at average elven height, to larger ones for group outings. Their portability and rugged durability make them very popular among tourists and campers who can enjoy a range of water sports, such as water walking on the surface, riding the bubble down river rapids, or bobbing along underwater to watch the sea life wander by.

Inky climbs into the inflatable bubblebee just in the nick of time. A tentacle bats them a short distance away, and then the apparatus’s lights cut on and illuminate the murky water.

You see the tentacles recede into the depths into, from this distance, what looks like the outline of a shipwreck.

At the moment, you are out of reach of the tentacles. And the bubblebee affords you some extra maneuverability.

Corraidhin eyes inky as they drift away in their bubblebee. “hmm a wonderful idea, that seems safe, but I need to get in closer.”

While Inky drifts away Corraidhin swims down and towards the tentacles to get a better view of whatever creature stole his new found bear friends. “I simply cannot bear any harm to come to my bears!” As he approaches the creature he prepares a spell should he need to vanquish the monster.

(fn vanquish [target]
  (match target.state
   [:living] (searing-bolt {target target
                            radius "narrow"
                            intensity "high"})
   [:undead] (smite {target target
                     deity "Larani"}))) 

Corraidhin charges up a spell!

The tentacles pull your dear bear friends downward, and you struggle to get a view of whatever creature is abducting them.

The long, slender tentacles appear to originate from within or behind a large sunken ship!

Could it be the SS RSS?

Gabs was stunned by the majesty of the two bears, and upon seeing these two beautiful creatures be pulled down, got unreasonably angry. She made sure that the breathing bell was properly attached to her head (a marvelous thing, she thought. She had always wondered what it would be like to have a jellyfish on her head).

Gabs bundled and tied up her skirt, as she started to bolt toward the edge of the ship. She reached into her purse and moved away all the loose candy and pulled out two long stiletto daggers. She begins stabbing with unusual precision at the tentacles reaching up on the ship.

She yells, “Come’on y’all! We gotta save those babies!”

She dives in.

Prior to the incident, Gabs would have noticed that there was a very slight, wobbly weight to the jellyfish. Kind of like getting a gentle hug from a helmet of warm spaghetti.

Some loose candy floats up and away as you rummage through your purse, the brightly colored wrappers attracting the attention of a curious passing manta ray. It glides over and has a nibble.

You fetch your stiletto daggers and start stabbing at the long, slender tentacles. Your unusual precision causes the tentacles to coil and retreat, releasing the merbear in the process. It shouts through its tears, “My brother!” and dives back into the fray, fighting to free the tardigrade.

From here, you can see that the tentacles seem to come from the wreckage of a large ship lying on its side on ocean floor.

META: Gabs rolls a 6 on “Do Anything 1” and gains a new skill: Stabbing 2

Seeing his new comrade enter the fray heroically Corraidhin gathers himself. “I suppose this is no time for errant curiosity, can’t have anyone getting hurt after all.”

Ensuring that he doesn’t hit either Inky nor Gabs as they near the creature, Corraidhin throws the spell he prepared in the direction of the center of the tentacles. (vanquish “tentacles”) And releases a pinpoint thread of searing energy from his palm, guiding it through the mass of tentacles in a random and chaotic pattern, attempting to sever as many tentacles as possible.

As that goes on the sysercoerr calculates his retreat plan, he won’t be able to prepare another spell like that on the fly, far too meticulous work to do mid combat. As soon as the spell runs out, best case will be to retreat somewhere out of reach, or as far away as is possible there.

Corraidhín takes careful aim fires off a searing bolt into the center of the mass of squirming, reaching tentacles. The bolt of energy bounces from tentacle to tentacle creating a chaotic web of energy.

One of the final bolts of energy pierces the tentacle that happens to be gripping the tardigrade. It releases the water bear, but not before the tardigrade takes the full brunt of the final blast of the dying searing bolt. It cries out and curls up into a ball. Motionless, it starts sinking downward. “BROTHER!” the merbear swims after it heedless of any nearby danger.

A wayward crackle of energy blasts outward toward a giant manta ray happily crunching on a piece of hard candy. It flaps out of the way at the last minute and continues to angrily enjoy its candy, glaring at you quite indignantly.

META: Corraidhín rolls a 2 for “Do Anything 1”, which means things go bad, and gains 1 xp for a total of 1 xp. You can spend xp to turn any die into a six for the purpose of advancement.

While Master Corraidhín and Gabs confront the tentacles to rescue the bears, Inky looks around the sea floor. Maybe if they found suitable replacements for the bears, the tentacles might be distracted long enough to release the bears, or provide an opening advantage for one of their party?

A small distance from the fray, Inky finds a load of discarded bottles among a large pile of other trash carried there by the push and pull between the water currents and a hot spring. Gathering up some bottles, Inky ties them together with twine in singles and small clusters until they resemble two large, crudely-made multi-coloured tanokuma[1].

With some difficulty due to the additional weight, Inky attaches the tanokuma to the back of their bubblebee and drags them back above the tentacles, roughly near the spot where the previous bears were taken. When the valiant members of their party dive to one side for another strike, Inky loosens the rope around the “bears” and lets them sink down within reach of the tentacles.

[1] First featured in the garden play Teatime with Tanokuma, the fluffy purple, jam-grabbing, tea-guzzling bear became an overnight hit among children as well as the fashion-conscious youth who frequent the trendy “Shin-ku” district of Vay’Nullar.

The decoy tanokuma float above the tentacles as they retreat from Gabs’s stabbses and Corraidhin’s bolts. They grope about weakly, wrap themselves around the tanokuma, and finally withdraw.

You can now clearly see the wreckage of the SS RSS. The tentacles—and whatever beast they belong to—is either within, behind, or below the ship. It is definitely ship adjacent wherever and whatever it is. The large double-masted ship is lying on its side, teetering precariously on the edge of a large, deep ocean trench. There is a large hole in its hull providing unfettered access to its insides.

The tardigrade is sinking inertly toward the ship deck, and the merbear is swimming blindly after it.




Inky follows behind the merbear at a healthy 2 meters’ distance away in the bubblebee, the headlights illuminating a moderate distance ahead of the distraught bear as it darts after its brother.

As the merbear homes in on the tardigrade near the ship deck, Inky keeps a lookout for any signs of movement or tentacles from behind or below the shipwreck. The bubblebee’s headlights cast an eerie shadow from the ship’s double masts even as it partly lights up the rim of a gaping hole in the hull.

The tardigrade, still tucked into a ball, lands on the ship deck with a gentle thud. It rolls a couple of times and finally comes to rest against the rigging. The merbear reaches it a moment later and cradles its jelly-like body gently in its bear arms. “My brother!” it cries. “My dear bear brother!”

The tardigrade slowly uncurls and stretches out and looks around, disoriented and bleary-eyed. It waggles its eight arms around experimentally, closes and opens its claws as though kneading the water. “Brother?” says the merbear in astonishment.

“I am okay brother!” says the tardigrade. “We water bears are very hardy and resilient! It will take more than a mere other worldly tentacle attack and an arcane electric blast to do me in!”

While the bears are having their teary-eyed reunion, you sense movement in the shadows deep in the ocean trench, over which protrude the ship’s masts. Your lights don’t penetrate the darkness enough to see what it was. But it was large. The very stuff that thalassophobia is made of.

You also think you see a flash of gold as the light of the bubblebee reflects off of something inside the ship through the hole in the hull. Could it be the second Ginnarak Crystal?

The breach in the hull is easily large enough to admit a medium sized creature such as an inkling in a bubblebee apparatus. Or a sysorcer or a lanky old half-devil tavern owner.




Oh thank goodness, I thought I killed that innocent bear! I should probably be a little more careful with my spells..

Nonetheless, we need to shed some light on what’s going on here, no sense in diving into the clutches of some evil sea creature blind.

Gather himself, Corraidhin casts a fzf on the ship, searching for the creature inside

sudo fzf $(pwd)

t e n t a c l e

Hmmm, no nothing too interesting there.. Maybe crystal?

sudo fzf $(pwd)

c r y s t a l

Blast! Why can’t I find anything.. The syscerroer muses for a moment.


sudo fzf /sea/ship_wreck/interior

t e n t a c l e

You probe the ship. You do not detect the presence of any tentacles inside the ship. But you do detect the presence of the crystal you seek.

If you scan the trench, you will detect the presence of a harrowkrake. A colossal, many-tentacled sea monster with a plow shaped shell that it drags across the ocean floor, digging deep furrows. Kind of like if a giant squid could grow a nautilus shell. They are usually content to stay in their trenches, grabbing prey as it swims by with their long tentacles like some kind of nightmarish barnacle.

The giant manta is still gliding around crunching on candies. A few blue spherical globules of harrowkrake blood float lazily upward from where Gabs got her stabs on, attracting the attention of a couple horkosgrampus. The manta gives them a wide berth but doesn’t otherwise seem too concerned about them.

Horkosgrampus are toothy whales with a single long tusk. They are mostly scavengers, and are only provoked to violence in the presence of a lie or the breaking of an oath, in which case they go into a frenzy preying on the liar or liars. They can smell blood from a great distance, but can hear a lie from much further.

You hear a thud from inside the ship, and a slow rustling like smooth stones rolling over each other. The ship settles a little further onto its side, and dangles just a little further over the harrowkrake trench.




At Master Corraidhín’s confirmation of the crystal’s presence within the shipwreck, Inky moves the bubblebee closer above the opening in the hull, adjusting the angle of the headlights so that a little more light falls over the gaping hole should the rest of the party wish to enter the ship through it.

Next, Inky pulls out some wasabi pears from their bag, biting into one before dropping the others one at a time several paces apart, starting near the bow of the ship in a trail until a few roll down into the hole and land in a hollow thonks somewhere inside the ship.

Inky then settles near the opening, partly-eaten pear in hand and waits for the source of the rustling sounds to emerge, if it decides to emerge at all.

From their vantage point, Inky sees a figure crawl up onto the deck of the ship through a hatch from somewhere below. It appears to be wearing a breathing bell and a vest of weighted sandbags similar to yours. It is carrying a bulky bundle tied to its waist by a cord.

It freezes when it sees the merbear and the tardigrade on ship deck. But then the bears are teleported to safety a few meters from the inkling. The figure looks around curiously and shrugs. It casts off some sandbags and starts rising up through the water toward the happy manta ray and the restless horkusgrampus. It looks down in your direction as it goes. Its face is somewhat blurred and obscured by the breathing bell, but you see a glint of gold as the light of your bubblebee reflects off one of its eyes.

Ah ha! Our prize is near then. And it looks like that bolt forced that squid monster thing back into its hole. Likely we’ll be alright to plum the depths here.

Thank goodness our bears are safe, I should probably move them somewhere out of harms way, just in case.

safety=$(find /ocean/* -perm 644 | head -n 1)
for bear in merbear tardigrade; do
    sudo usermod -a -G party $bear
    sudo scp /ocean/shipwreck/$bear /ocean/$safety
    sudo chown corraidhin:party /ocean/$safety
sudo chown -R 770 /ocean/$safety

That should ward them sufficiently, now only the party members can come and go freely, and they’re part of the party. I’m positive nobody will complain, they might, but there won’t be anymore bolt mishaps this way at least..

As Corraidhin finishes his relocation spell he creeps closer to the hull of the ship. “Lets see what we’re dealing with here..” he sticks his head into the opening looking about inside the wreckage, a small orb of light illuminates the tip of his right hand pointer finger, and he uses it to carefully probe around the opening as though it were a flash light.

Corraidhín cautiously explores the breach in the hull of the SS RSS. You poke your head in and see the cargo hold of the ship. The remains of some of the ship crew are here, long since picked clean by ocean critters. Their bones are bleached white and they grin mirthlessly at you. They are nestled in and amongst the spilled contents of several large chests: jewelry, gold coins, precious stones litter the floor of the ship.

You do not see any lumpy, multi-faceted, blue and gold crystal melon here.

The ship is resting mostly on its side, so its sloping “floor” is actually the ship wall. The hatch up to the upper deck is to your right, and as you enter the hold, someone or something shuts the hatch closed.

A skeleton by the hull entrance crawls forward, trying to block your exit. And two more start to claw themselves up and free of the ship’s treasure, and they start to advance toward you.




Fuck, skeletons? This is ridiculous, I did not sign up for underwater pirate skeletons.

Reacting quickly Corraidhin prepares a fork bomb, if the skeletons are going to take him out, he’s going to take out those skeletons too.


Hopefully I won’t have to use that. Corraidhin hoists himself up into the opening and begins targetting the skeletons one by one. No time for much fancy preparation here, just good old fashioned magic missiles strewn about the interior of the hull. While so doing Corraidhin glances around the treasure strewn hull, searching for the crystal, can’t blow the whole ship up if the prize is here.

Then again, a magical item that powerful, could probably withstand a fork bomb pretty easily. It’s worth the risk if things get worse.

Corraidhin ensures his back is to the opening, able to make a haphazard escape should the skeletons get the better of him.

You prep your fork bomb to keep in your back pocket as a last resort.

In the meantime you start blasting skeletons. They maintain a slow advance but you able to pick them off slowly one by one. Bones splinter and fly apart.

During your maneuvering, you get turned around and are backed into the corner with the hatch leading up to the upper deck. You reach behind yourself and fumble with the latch. One skeleton manages to get its bony claws around your ankle just as you open the hatch. You look behind you and see a human shaped figure floating away, illuminated in the beams of Inky’s bubblebee. It is toting a small bundle. Up above you can see the shadow of the manta ray gliding around eating candy, and the horkosgrampus idling in the absence of carrion or lies.

“I thank ye, gents!” cries the figure down to you as it ascends. “You distracted the harrowkrake just long enough for me to get in that ship and grab what I needs!” It tugs on the cord attached to its bundle and laughs. “I shan’t forget ye!” It waves and gives a little salute.

You have a magic missile loaded and ready to go. In a moment the figure will be out of range. You can blast it now and risk being pulled down by the skeleton. Or you can blast the skeleton and risk the figure getting away.




Shouting in the direction of the grampus “Yo! That dude is definitely going to forget us. We’re almost the definition of forgettable, I mean it’s not like we’re some kind of murderous hobos or something!”

While shouting Corraidhin takes aim, and slings his magic missing at the figure, aiming for a kill. (Meta: I’d like to spend that xp now, lets take this sucker down).

After the missile flies loose the skeleton begins to pull Corraidhin back into the hull of the ship, he kicks desperately at the boney clutches desperately trying to break free.

“I always knew I’d go out fighting some undead spooky thing. If you don’t become a necromancer, you end up some necromancers thrall.” at least, that’s what Kevin used to tell me. I always thought he was being melodramatic.

As the skeleton drags Corraidhin back through the hatch he grabs the dagger, in a vein attempt to ready himself.

“I guess this is it my Stabby friend, time to show these Skeletons what happens when you back a Sysorceor into a corner”

And with that Corraidhin activates his fork bomb.


While feeding their jellyfish bites of wasabi pear and watching the sysorcerer investigate the hull, Inky eventually notices movement in the direction of the ship’s deck in the form of a figure crawling out of the hatch with a bundle. Inky squints at the retreating form. Could it be another retrieval team, or a rogue agent? Master Corraidhín would probably not be pleased if the crystal melon were to fall into unknown hands, never mind of those whose names don’t start with the letter “B” and end in the letter “r”.

Sparing a brief second to lament the waste of a perfectly good snack, Inky reaches into their bag and lobs a spiky chestnut cluster at the figure’s breathing bell from the opening of their bubblebee, followed by a glass bottle of blahoblin shoe polish. The glass shatters on impact, sending the dark, sticky and somewhat pungent substance all over the figure’s (punctured) breathing bell and face.

As Inky’s bubblebee floats up a little closer to the figure, Inky tosses a smaller bottle at the figure, this time of some synthetic blood from another brick that Inky had set aside for experiments of a different sort. At the last moment the thruster accelerates, Inky throws their paring knife at the bundle where the cord hugged the figure’s waist, before veering away just as quickly as the horkosgrampus nearby catch a whiff of the blood.

RETCON: It has been brought to our attention that the scp spell does not move an entity, but merely copies it from one location to another. As such, the original merbear and tardigrade are still on the deck of the SS RSS. Their facsimiles are present near where Inky used to be.

Okay so two extremely interesting and complicated things happen all at once and in quick succession. It’s very chaotic and explosive and cinematic.


Corraidhín aims his shootin’ finger—the one that resolutely, emphatically mashes the Enter key when deploying to production—at the floaty thief. The very same second he fires off the magic missile, he sees the figure jerk as a small projectile first punctures its jellyfish helmet and then coats its entire cranial area in black ink.

It screams, “Aw, fuck!”

The breathing bell is having none of this shit, thank you very much, and detaches itself from the figure’s head and starts to propel itself away. As such, the figure no longer has access to breathable air.

It screams, “No, wait!”

And then a fine blade juts out from the bubblebee severing the cord connecting the floating bundle to the would-be thief. The blade scoops out a hunk of flesh from the thief’s hip in the process.

It screams, “Ouch! Stop, I wasn’t going to…”

The horkosgrampus—kind of lazily drifting about thus far—stir from complacency at the first scent of blood. But they snap to ravenous attention at the first utterance of a possible lie.

Finally (an instant later) the magic missile strikes its target and the thief splatters like a wet paper bag full of soup hitting the ground.

It sputters and coughs and screams, “I wasn’t going to! Please, you can have it! I wasn’t going to take it! I don’t even want it! It’s yours!”

And the horkosgrampus fucking lose their minds. They stop being mere toothy scavenger whales, and instead become the ravenous, wrathful instruments of the god of oaths and promises. They descend upon the liar in a fury of teeth and tusks. First Mate “Lucky” Three-Fingered Gerald cackles with depraved, unhinged mirth as he is torn to shreds. In the end a single golden orb—his false eye—is all that is left of the would-be thief of the second Ginnarak Crystal.

The eye and the crystal slowly emerge from the horkosgrampus frenzy, hovering suspended above the harrowkrake trench.


Remember there are two extremely interesting and complicated things happening all at once?

The second thing is this.

First, Corraidhín lets loose his magic missile at Three-Fingered Gerald. Then, as he is being pulled down by the undead pirate skeleton, he lets loose a fork bomb.

The fork bomb is also known as a ‘rabbit attack’ because the rapidity with which it spawns new processes resembles the fecundity of breeding rabbits.

So here’s what it looks like. The skeleton pulls Corraidhín downward. Corraidhín points and clicks. Pew, pew. A single small sea bunny slug wriggles its way between the skeleton’s fingers where it has a hold of the sysorcerer’s ankle. Another two wriggle out. Then four, eight, sixteen. In an instant there are dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions of the tiny slugs in the hold of the ship.

Everything, every living entity, every process, light and sound and thought itself, it all grinds to a halt as the sea bunnies continue to multiply until billions and trillions of them squeeze and burrow their way amongst molecules, betwixt atoms, and into the quantum foam between subatomic particles.

The ship and everything on it and inside it—including the original merbear and tardigrade—collapse into a singularity. It continues to exist in this moment in space and time but only as a static snapshot of the moment that its operating system crashed. It is a mirage, a core memory dump, a segmentation fault, a flickering feedback loop, the same two to three seconds endlessly repeating: Corraidhín backed into a corner, and pointing a finger at a skeleton, and then BANG! over and over and over again.

Corraidhín, you can continue to act and move, but your have become unhinged and unattached from this moment in space and time. You can interact with entities inside the ship, but will struggle mightily to comprehend and interact with entities outside the fork bomb.

Outside observers see the SS RSS become paper thin and translucent as it starts to lose its footing in this plane of reality.





The gods are missing now. But before they went into hiding, the Trine walked the earth and actively participated in the affairs of mortals.

Sweet, tenderhearted Neddas—god of sages and starlight—fell in love with the worldkin and often gave away trivial little bits of their divinity as gifts to the people. Chief among these gifts were the divine aspects of coin, mirth, lore, craft, and tact. With these gifts, civilizations grew and flourished and accomplished great things.

Then the Artifice Wars rocked all of Basmentaria and the gods vanished. And even with Neddas’s gifts, civilization still struggles to reach its former heights.

I watch as the magical bolt sails away overhead meeting its target, receding back into the depths of the hull of the ship as the skeleton drags me down. The fork bomb goes off flawlessly, and the world comes to a screching halt around me, only to slowly rewind itself.

I contemplate the absolutely absurd position I’ve put myself into as the skeleton pulls me back down into the depths and I watch the would be theif take a direct hit again.

“Okay, THAT was a good shot.” I say to myself as the scene repeats again. I could probably watch that a few times. But after about the hundredth time the feat seems a little less epic. And the skeleton a lot less frightful and a lot more dull.


Kevin always said this would happen. “Corraidhin, you can’t play with dangerous scripts like that, you’ll crash your systems”. Right you were Kevin, right you were. Corraidhin casts his eyes around wistfully. I guess I got that boat I always wanted? And it’s filled with treasure. That’s a positive. Oh and um I’m not alone, yeah, that’s right. You’re stuck here too Mr. Skelly. (The skeleton does not reply). Oh come on now, don’t be rude. (still no reply). sigh right, sorta dead, I shouldn’t expext more than a loving embrace from you as you try and invite me to look at your treasure right?

After about the thousandth time the Sysorcerer was still in a rut.

I’m stuck insid the crash, not from without. It seems this moment is just going to idle on perpetually. (he rummages in his pockets), okay I guess I still have the Ginnarak crystal, and stabby. Those seem safe enough here with me.

So long as I don’t go crazy I guess there’s hope. If not, what a damn foolish way to die.


An automated alert system triggers as the Sysorceror blips out of existence. And then on, and then off, and then on, and then off.

(Problem: Corraidhin: Entity not found)
Problem started at 19:37 on 2281.67.43
Porblem Name: Deadman's Trigger: Entity not found
Host: Corraidhin
Severity: Critical
Operation Data: (corrupted)
Problem ID: 92746027498

(Problem: Corraidhin: Entity not found)
Resolved in 1d 0h 0m 0s: Entity not found
Problem Name: Deadman's Trigger: Entity not found
Problem Duration: 1d 0h 0m 0s
Severity: Critical
Original Problem ID: 92746027498

Bloody Zabbix alerts flapping again, what the hell does it mean that Uncle Corraidhin is gone. You can’t Die then Live over and over and over. Stupid broken monitoring system. Guess I had been check in on him, bloody fool constantly gets himself in trouble.

Alex grabs his shortsword and backpack and shoulders them. If anyone will know what’s foolhearty issue his uncle has gotten into, it’ll be Kevin as the Sysorcerors Guild.

Corraidhín settles in for what may or may not be a lifetime of stasis aboard the glitch formerly known as the SS RSS. At least Stabby will be good company if it ever wakes up from its blood coma. Hmm, actually that’s debatable. Now that you think of it, you’re not sure you’re up for a lifetime of ranting about blood and evil.

The merbear and the tardigrade are on the ship deck, also trapped in the fork bomb. You’re not sure whether you can reach them or not.

You see a flickering of motion and a flash of light outside the ship as what looks like a small school of fish moves darts in and out of view. It rushes past, doubles back, and swims past again, passing close enough that one or two get sucked into the fork bomb with you.

Impossibly, what you thought were fish were apparently small birds? Or, perhaps they were fish after all and some quality of passing through the boundary of the fork bomb simply turns them into birds? Either way, two small blue songbirds with red heads and forked tails hop around inside the ship chirping incessantly. You watch as one of them hops toward one of the sea bunny slugs and pecks at it, and then scoops it up in its beak and swallows it whole. The second does the same. They hop from side to side a bit, and then set to feasting on the slugs. A couple more birds pop through the membrane separating you from the outside world and join in.


Alex grabs his perfectly normal, blissfully non-sentient shortsword and heads off to the Cabinet, where the Sysorcerers Guild is. He has to detour around the Wandering Bazaar, which decided to plop down in the middle of the street, but nonetheless arrives in short order.

He finds Kevin working in the library on Kevin’s Document Language.

Alex describes the errors and Kevin groans, “Ugh, I told him! I told him you can’t play with dangerous scripts like that, you’ll crash your systems! We’ll have to try a manual reboot. Well don’t just stand there, young person. Come on, come on, try to keep up. We have work to do!”

Inky follows the bundle’s path as it sinks downwards and maneuvers the bubblebee to retrieve it along with the eye.

Floating to a stop above the ledge of the trench, Inky looks at the small golden orb, then removes an empty lunch pail from their knapsack and drops the eye and several small glass marbles into it. The contents jostle around inside the pail in a cacophony of whirs, clicks and clatters. With the lid firmly closed, Inky tosses the makeshift percussive instrument into the trench for the harrowkrake so it could jam with its new tanokuma buddies.

Staring at the bundle, Inky suddenly recalls the projectile that had come from the general direction of the SS RSS shortly before the horkosgrampus got to Mr. Not-So-Lucky. Master Corraidhín! They turn back to the shipwreck, only to find the entire ship had turned eerily translucent, like a ghost ship from some tipsy sailor’s tale. Inky halts a short distance from the wreckage for a closer look, though something about the apparition told them it would be a terrible idea to enter the ship’s hull now. Something had happened to the ship’s remains, with the sysorcerer trapped inside. Maybe it was all part of the sysorcerer’s plan, that he had teleported himself back to a safe location and this was a mirage, just a remnant from the moment of teleportation.

Or at least Inky hopes so.

Inky drops the improvised goldeneye noisemaker down into the trench. The rattling as it falls is reminiscent of Gerald’s laughter. One slender tendril reaches up out of the abyss and grabs the rattle, and then disappears once more into the murky dark.

You are now in possession of the second Ginnarak Crystal. A blue stone with lightly pulsing gold veins. As you gaze at it, it’s almost as though you can hear peals of tinkling laughter in the back of your head.

The horkosgrampus, temporarily sated having removed the liar from this timeline, drift lazily away.

The giant, candy-seeking manta ray passes closely by and fondly caresses the bubblebee with one wing in passing. Its little manta face pulled up into a chubby smile.

The bear facsimiles join you and begin crying when they see their “brothers” trapped on the deck of the ship.

You see a small school of fish making multiple passes by the SS RSS like birds skimming insects from the sky.





Different cultures of Basmentaria have different traditional stories about Nullar, the lord of time and tides.

The cobits say he is an insatiable Wyrm who lies coiled tightly around the present moment. He devours the past the moment it stops being the present. And when he has finished digesting it, he regurgitates it as the future, the processed remains of the past. And he remains ever out of sight, just around the corner. Always having just happened. Or about to happen. But never here, never now.

The gnu describe Nullar as a fastidious Librarian. They believe that every time you make a choice, you create a create two separate timelines, two stories. One in which you chose Option A and one in which you chose Option B. The Librarian collects these alternate stories, binds them between the covers of a new book, and adds them to his collection. In this way he maintains the single sanctioned timeline and keeps the tree of the multiverse pruned.

The torque say he is a solitary old man, a weary prisoner of his office, fatigued by the neverending repeating cycles of time and tide, with only his ravens for companionship.

Inky looks in the direction of the bears’ anguish and blinks at the forms on the ship’s deck. How strange. Why are the bears in the mirage? Didn’t Master Corraidhín send them to a safe spot earlier before he entered the hull?

Between the two bears’ tearful retelling of events, Inky gathers the sysorcerer had conjured an identical (at least in appearance) pair of bears farther from the shipwreck, while the other pair were still on the deck. If the sysorcerer had teleported himself out, Inky was fairly sure he wouldn’t leave the bears behind to whatever had taken hold of the ship after he and Gabs had gone to the trouble of rescuing them from the harrowkrake’s clutches. Either the wizard will return to free the bears, or he was still inside. From an angle close to the deck, Inky can see a shadow inside the hatch that vaguely resembled the sysorcerer, but it was difficult to tell from the blurry edges.

Resigned to a long wait, Inky sighs and pulls out bottles of instant brew acorn tea and offers one to each bear, as well as a jar of candied carrots. The tea was a few pinches saltier than usual, but it would do for now. They float out some carrots to the giant manta ray hovering nearby, holding up the jar briefly for the jellyfish atop their head to snag a few with a free tentacle, before picking out two themselves and passing the jar to the bears. To distract the bears a bit from the sight of their doppelgangers in painfully slow motion, or the urge to dive in after them, Inky inquires about their deep sea and lunar adventures.

After some time, Inky notices the same group of fish swimming back and forth by the shipwreck, a few appearing as though they were passing through the ship? “Hey. Do you know what the fish there are doing? Do they regularly hang out near the shipwreck?” they ask the bears.

“What fish?” says the bear, squinting at the ship. “Those aren’t fish.”

The alleged not-fish skirt around the edges of the wavering, translucent ship. They dart in and out as they go as though trying to clip a newspaper article.



You return to Vay’Nullar with the second Ginnarak Crystal, but without your comrade the sysorcerer.

When you get back to the Milk Market, there is an unsigned note waiting for you:

You have done exceptionally well so far Retrieval Team 43. We are quite impressed, and will be in touch with you shortly. Until then, trust nobody and watch your back. Not all is as it seems, and not everybody is being truthful with you.

There is an emblem at the bottom of the note in lieu of a signature: an abstract white iris resting on top of a golden apple.


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The mission, party-wise, had been an abject failure.

They had found the crystal, and Master Corraidhín had vanished. Inky wasn’t sure which was worse — the appalling lack of water-resistant fireworks surrounding the disappearance, or the bears’ ceaseless waterworks in grief over their ghostly counterparts. Said bears plus a giant manta ray were eventually left with the remains of Inky’s two snack stashes. (The third was back on the Diamond Howler.) The crystal was currently securely hidden away inside the Milk Market, which was for the best. Inky was not about to drag around an inedible melon that could potentially level entire cities, if the wizard’s hints about its power were true. The crystal-retrieval missions were a cover anyway — Inky had gotten what they were looking for. The equipment and provisions sponsored by the Benefactor were a handy bonus though.

Inside the tent, Inky adds the finishing flourishes to a package and places it to one side, next to two others of a similar size and a thin envelope already piled inside a padded sack on the ground. The client should be pleased. It had taken longer, but the result had been worth the additional hassle. The envelope, on the other hand … who knew what had become of the previous one, sent in an impulsive fit of post-dive haze once the ship had docked at the port town. Donning a grey fedora, a worn light brown jacket, a flask kettle and a wooden box with carrying straps, Inky the “Tiny” tea seller leisurely sets off for the post office, sack in hand.

It was still a bit strange — if less shocking than the first time it happened — to speak in rabbiton with the postmistress at the counter, although Inky couldn’t actually detect any significant differences from the common tongue besides occasionally being reminded they shouldn’t be able to understand the sounds at all. Rabbiton or rabbitoff, hare mail couriers are among the fastest across Basmentaria and will ensure any parcels and letters arrive at their recipients in a timely manner. Due to their broad network and high delivery confidence, letters without return addresses were no issue; they can deliver with a valid recipient address, which they are able to verify from an extensive series of registries and course codes before taking the item. So it was that one such envelope containing yet another somewhat unusual recipe was promptly delivered to the Milk Market’s ground floor on a blustery Boltday afternoon.

Postage done, Inky wanders through one of the city’s seedier districts, peddling cups of hot tea along the way. This had become a daily routine for a little over a month since the Sugrin Sea mission (longer and more sporadically before that whenever the imp was in the city), including a spontaneous fifteen-minute “Tiny Teatime” held in open areas such as small parks, or occasionally in a back alley between several crowded residences. The tea happening had initially been a whimsical response to Teatime with Tanokuma and still regularly attracted children when iced drinks were served during the summertime.

Rows of slightly crooked houses sandwiched among acacia trees line a narrow, winding lane. Inky passes the elderly playing tabula surrounded by a small group of onlookers, people chewing on sweet lemongrass or peeling vegetables, hanging up laundry on colourful lines made of scrap rags, children laughing and chasing soapy bubbles with wands dripping from laundry water, and all sorts of activity that made houses into homes. Many of them were frank about not having any spare coins for extras like speciality teas brewed “just like them shops”, but gladly accepted a steaming bamboo cup upon realising they needn’t pay, if sometimes a little suspiciously at first. Instead of coin, they held a rich font of stories, local legends, folk remedies, cooking methods, insider tip-offs and rumours, which they were often eager to impart to an attentive audience.

Some of the passer-by were always in a hurry, downing the tea as though it were a shot of hard liquor before retrieving a handful of loose coins from a pocket or sock. When Inky smiled and told them there was no charge, most would return a puzzled look or uncertain smile, or roll their eyes, and drop a copper coin into a slot on the lid of the box anyway. A few had promptly walked off wordlessly with snickering faces, as though they had gotten away with something clever. Regardless, it was one of the best ways to see and observe a bustling metropolis. No one took any particular notice of young urchins and vendors selling refreshments, flowers and various trinkets on the streets.

Likewise no one witnessed a tea seller pause near one of the windows at the back of Enrique’s Empanada Emporium late in the day. For a while they watch the chef within in action, clearly in his element, before reluctantly pulling away and retreating quietly up the stairs to the second floor. They should wash up and see if their marketing manager is in the mood for some takeout and Terrapin Ale this evening.


Background: Alex isn’t young, but in comparison to his whizzened uncle Corraidhin he’s the depiction of youth. He has jet black hair and alert blue eyes, and a quiet serenity about him that gives one pause, as though he’s constantly calculating. He gives into his passions quickly however, and becomes rather animated when his emotions break loose. He’ll be the first to curse his uncle for his foolish endeavors, never quite understanding the sysorcerer’s way. Early in life, after the death of his parents, Corraidhin took him under his wing and tried in vain to teach him the ways of magical systems administration. Much to Corraidhin, it only resulted in damaged systems, and a rift with his nephew.

It took years to recover from that, but eventually the two grew close again, though distant nonetheless. That closeness reflects itself in the situation Alex finds himself in now, a mysterious alert from some overly contrived magical system, ruining his perfectly good winning streak. It’s not that he was necessary bad at all of that stuff, it just, wasn’t as much fun as gambling. And it certainly wasn’t as exhillerating as writing malware.

Breaking into a system, smashing it to bites and pieces, watching the carefully wrought design burn in amber and green, now THAT was magic.

META: Alex is like Corraidhin in some aspects, he’s younger, more brash, more given to whim and fancy. He’s somewhat greedy and craven, attracted to riches far too easily. He’s a passionate gambler, not due to his skill, but by virtue of his ability to distract and confuse, which gives him a delightful edge. Some would call it lucky, but he calls it subterfuge. He has some sysorcerer skills, nothing quite as flexible as Corraidhin, but he delightfully wreaks havoc with worms, scrapers, ransom & spyware. If he can’t bypass something, he’ll delightfully destroy it. If he can’t break in, he’ll distract someone or something so he can slip by.

(Think rogue + illusion magic, where Corraidhin is straight Wizard)

Introduction: Kev, just give it to me straight, the hell does this Deadman’s trigger mean. You can’t have a service like that flap, it’s a boolean, you’re either dead or your not. And don’t try to lie to me, I’m not some project managing schmuck, you know full and well Uncle Corraidhin taught me. I know enough to tell when you’re lying.

(Kevin) Ah, well, umm. Yes I suppose that’s true. You can’t be dead and not. It’s just not an option. But Zabbix doesn’t lie! It’s what monitors your Uncle’s life force, the state of his infrastructure so to speak. Look check your own, there’s nothing to indicate any issue with you, but your uncle’s fluxuates consistently. None of his other state checks are failing though! So it could just be a problem with his Deadman’s trigger code.

Absolutely not. Corraidhin might be a flighty fool, but he’s not someone who would deploy faulty code to production. There’s no way in hell it would get past his linter, let alone all of the QA he does before it even gets that far. Look, what the hell did you drag him into, you know exactly what he gets up to, just point me in his direction so I can get this shit over with.

(Kevin) Hmm, he didn’t really want me to talk about it, but last I saw him, he was babbling on and on about some magical Json sword or something. I couldn’t quite keep up with it.

You were trying to get him to buy into KDL again weren’t you?

(Kevin) It’s a good language I swear, and if your uncle had just.. (Alex cuts him off)

Hush it. What did the sword look like, where was he headed?

(Kevin) sigh it was large, with a ruby hilt, and a magical eye of some sort. I’m certain if you just ask around you’ll find it. Just ask about the sysorcerer who mutters to his sword, that’s how the poor bastard is remembered around here these days.

With this information Alex departed the Sysorcerer’s guild in search of his Uncle. As he asked around town, people shied away. Nasty business talking about that one, they’d tell him. A few mentioned something about an attack, and a dagger and bloodlust the likes of which they’d only heard from the bard at their local tavern. None of this sounded like the Uncle he remembered, but he followed the trail until it lead him to the Milk Maid.

As Alex checked around for someone, anyone who seemed to be in the know, he spotted Inky, serving tea as she watched the ongoings at the Empanada shop near the Milk Maid.

Excuse me, miss? You wouldn’t have happened to seen my Uncle, he’s an old whizened fellow. Constantly harrumphs and goes on and on endlessly about some magical script, or how much he hates the School of Powershell. I haven’t been able to find him, and I’ve been looking all over the city for the better part of 3 days. Note even his best friend Kevin at the Sysorcer’s guild knew where he was, and I’m just, I’m at a bit of a loss..

sigh I’m sorry to just unload on your like that. If you don’t know him that’s okay, I’d be happy to pay for a cup of tea for your time.


(Two days prior)

An office, barely illuminated by the glow of a moonstone lamp.

An elf attired in red silk dress robes with a shimmering pattern of butterflies, a red floral picture hat and matching high heel boots lounged in the visitor’s chair in front of a heavy wooden desk. The charms dangling from her wrist circlets tinkled as she reached for a teacup. A silver tray was placed to one side of the desk with a pot of maghrebi francus, two porcelain cups and a bowl of sugar cubes. The remaining surface was mostly covered by a map of Basmentaria, the moonstone lamp and a short stack of books. Behind the desk sat an imp in a midnight blue suit, a dart pen balanced on the edge of two fingers of one hand, while the other tapped a silent rhythm on the pineapple leather armrest.

The lady in dress robes spoke first. “I made some inquiries. That sysorcerer acquaintance of yours seems to be stuck in some sort of spatial-temporal loop. The anomalies are usually salvageable given time and expert attention. His nephew is out looking for him now.” She hands the imp a sheet with a drawing of a pensive but bright-eyed young man with dark hair, and several lines of notes below. “How are things at your end?”

“The situation is tenable for the moment. One checked, another disengaged. Between the wizard and bard, Blackfoot will think twice before making any more untoward moves. One of the waiters at the club said the bard gave him a little dressing-down after the stabbing. He was practically shaking in his boots by the end of it.”

The elf laughed. “I read your earlier missive. Slipping a catalyst into a milk pudding to stir up a bloodthirsty sword? I guess you were pretty sure the thirst wouldn’t get out of hand and kill the hobbit outright.”

“Not entirely, but the good wizard would fight it with considerable strength of will. That guild of his may be full of white hats too busy with their petty squabbling over semantics to see trouble looming until it smacked them in their faces, but they have their principles and will not give in easily when challenged.” The imp grimaced. “An unpleasant matter but arguably a necessity. It was only a matter of time before the cursed sword would find itself a target. May as well put evil to good use.”

“You did what you had to do, Ink. And that sailor with the gold eye?”

“Met with an unfortunate … accident. Securing the crystal would have been sufficient, but the horkosgrampus weren’t terribly impressed with him. The Benefactor should be relieved. Men of their ilk would sooner sell to the highest bidder.” The pen twirled in their hand once, twice, before pausing with the nib pointing downward at a spot on the map. The imp continued, “All the more reason to move as soon as the young man finds his uncle. Kelsun Peak, most likely.”

“Right. I’ll let the others know if anything happens.” She rose to her heels in a whisper of brocade silks. “Do you want an antidote for … ?” She gestured with a slim, graceful hand framed in delicate strands of the gold bracelets towards her companion.

The imp inclined their head slightly in grateful acknowledgement. “No need. The condition is relatively harmless and reversing the effects now might raise suspicion. The postmistress at the Hutcheon Lane branch of Leplus Post was very tickled by it.”

“I see. So that’s how it is.” she replied with undisguised mirth. The imp ignored her smirk. “Please see to it the preparations are carried out. The fate of your beloved operetta house may well depend upon it.”

“You would never!” The elven lady exclaimed in mock affront. “No, I wouldn’t, even though it is the bane of all fine glassware. However, if the crystals came to less discerning hands …” They shared a solemn look before the elf nodded and swept out of the room, leaving the cloying scent of violets in her path.


Inky gestures wordlessly for the young wizard to follow them upstairs to the second floor of the Milk Market, heading straight for the room at one end of a long hallway.

As Inky enters, their small and fluffy marketing manager pops its head out of the wooden tub of water standing to one side of the room. “We have a visitor!” Inky cheerfully tells the duck. Their marketing manager looks back at them both and says, “QUACK!”

Inky turns back to the young man with a smile. “Please have a seat. How may we address you? Tea? No charge for Master Corraidhín’s nephew, of course.”

Once seated on some cushions thrown over a slightly ratty tartan rug and having poured out a steaming cup of mandarin pekoe for each of them, Inky begins, “So, about your uncle. The good news is, we know him. The bad news is, we knew him.” They then proceed to recount the events of their latest mission at the site of a shipwreck out in the Sugrin Sea, and the elder sysorcerer’s disappearance.


A fringe movement of lunatic paleornithologists and crackpots of various other professions has slowly been gaining traction over the last few decades. The movement was born when the enterprising Modern Fuchsia, at the time a budding young scientist on a dig yearning to make a name for himself, found the fossil of a modern feathered bird—probably some kind of swallow—alongside a theropod, that variety of dinosaur widely accepted to be the ancestor of modern birds. Faced with what he believed to be irrefutable evidence of a modern descendant coexisting alongside its own ancient ancestor, Fuchsia arrived at the only conclusion he was capable of making: Birds Are Not Dinosaurs. And thus BAND came into being.

Ever since, Fuschia and his BANDits have spent considerable amounts of time and energy attending conferences and publishing papers, pouting and demanding to be taken seriously by the wider scientific community. A community which, if it pays them any attention at all, merely mocks and ridicules their crackpot theories.

Modern Fuschia is of course wrong. But neither he nor his BANDits know how dangerously close he came to the actual truth.

For much, much deeper in the shadowy fringes of paleornithology, there is a clandestine operation called BATT. And only BATT knows the actual explanation for how a modern descendant might coexist alongside its own ancestor. Birds Are Time Travelers.

In the far future when birds are the dominant intelligent life on Basmentaria, they do indeed invent time travel. The end result was catastrophic and is the real reason that the dinosaurs went extinct.

It is a common misconception that barn swallows are the most common and widespread species of swallow. That distinction in fact belongs to the time swallow. Although—if you’re lucky—you’ll never actually see one. Since the Incident, the secret agents of BATT have vowed never again to interfere with or try to alter the time stream. Nor to allow anyone else to. The time swallows are special bred, special trained, appearing wherever and whenever an anomaly appears to remove it and restore the proper timeline. The tiny birds quite literally swallow, consume, and destroy anything that meddles with time.

At their headquarters, in the present day, BATT Director Purple Martin is delivering a report to his superior. Martin has a throaty and rich voice of which he is self-conscious in the presence of his superior’s persistent silence.

“We have successfully extracted the sysorcerer and have repaired the anomaly. The subject is currently under the care of Felixe and is expected to make a full recovery. In his possession were a couple of interesting artifacts. One Class C sentient object, a sword. And a piece of exotica of unknown origin. Our researchers so far suspect that it is a sort of reliquary containing both elemental and divine arcana. The xot’s physical manifestation—a crystalline ore—thus far prevents us from determining the precise identity of the arcana.”

Director Purple Martin is delivering this report to a lanky, thin man folded into an armchair. He wears thin, wire spectacles with round lenses, and dangles a walking stick over the arm of the chair as he sits. He interrupts Martin with a rare utterance. “The reliquary. I shall like to see it.”

Now then:

Retrieval Team 43 welcomes Alex into their ranks even as they mourn the loss of Corraidhín the Wizened.

It starts off as a somber affair at Lucy’s as you all sit around your regular table, ensconced and wedged into a corner surrounded on two sides by the red velvet curtains that line the walls.

But then the hobbit joins you.

Blavin Blandfoot orders a round of drinks in tribute to Corraidhín. And then another round of drinks to welcome his nephew Alex. “A family affair, is it not!” And then another round of drinks because he is thirsty.

The hobbit is in high spirits, brimming with flair and good cheer. His arm is fully healed from the attack over a month ago at this very table. His fond memories and frequent toasts to the sysorcerer make no reference to the incident.

“The Benefactor is immensely pleased with your performance so far!” He punches a new hole in your Frequent Retrieval cards. “You are one step closer to winning a FABULOUS PRIZE! I don’t mind telling you I’m a little jealous. Assuming you go the distance, of course. I mean who doesn’t love hot dogs and hot tubs!” He winks conspiratorially at you. “To say nothing of actually getting to meet the Benefactor! Just imagine!”

After a few more drinks he eventually clears a space on the table and rolls out a map of Basmentaria. “We once again have two reports of a crystal spotting!” He jabs a finger at the mountain range in northern Primora. “The first, as you know, has been reported by the zephynos high atop Kelsun Peak.”

“The second,” his voice quivers with excitement. He looks up at you wide-eyed and gestures away from the map into open space. “Is on the moon!”

Seated a couple tables away from you is the same trio who were present the last time you all met here: a dusty groll, a matted gnu, and a curious Ornithologer. The observant among you, if you happened to look, would notice that the Ornithologer wears a pinkish purplish red armband with the word BAND on it. They listen to your proceedings with great interest while trying really hard to look like they’re not listening. After Blavin’s final proclamation, the trio finishes their drinks, stands, and starts to leave the dining room.


Find out next time on BASEMENT QUEST



Alex silently observes the party and this foolish hobbit, before him three untouched drinks have accumulated. He’s a little less enthusiatic about taking drink from strangers, too much risk in that. As Blavin describes this crystal, whatever it may be, he catches a glimpse of the pinkish purplish armband on the party across from them. They don’t look out of place given the patrons at the tavern, but he’s certain they were listening in on the animated conversation of the hobbit. It could be nothing, or it coule be connected to Corraidhin, best to put a bug on them Alex thinks.

Silently beneath the table and out of site Alex prepares a bug and sets it off to follow the person with the armband. Once the bug catches up to the part it’s programmed to perform a tcpdump and capture information streaming around it, and then report back to Alex once full. By no means a perfect method of spying, but it’s low energy and can be maintained from great distances without taxing Alex’s energy.

As Blavin comes back to the group from his grandoise space commentary Alex begins to question him.

Enough of your theatrics hobbit. Tell me about the mark, you’ve obviously tipped off the entire tavern as to the whereabouts of whatever it is you’re looking for, so give us an edge, something those evesdroppers a table over don’t have. And cut this tripe about your benefactor, who is he, and what does he want with this magical baubbles.

As Alex finishes his questions he sits quietly for a moment staring down Blavin.

During this outburts, as all eyes turn to Blavin for his response, Alex casts yet another bug. This one sneaks onto the personage of Blavin himself. Programmed the same way.

We’ll get information from someone, subtle, or not if needed.


Inky watches with faint amusement as a magical device, likely a probe, found its way onto their mission handler.

Inky might have missed the slight movement under the table if they weren’t waiting for it, having received word of the younger wizard’s penchant for pre-emptive offence magic. As it were, the offices and surrounding premises were routinely swept for similar devices, a more recent example of which had been placed in plain sight by an overzealous tabloid writer hoping to pick up an exclusive reveal. The quality of the contraption, which had immediately fallen apart when detached from its gum adhesive on the back of a glass vase, had been almost insulting.

It seems Blackfoot hadn’t learned his lesson after all, and if Alex was keen to give him a reminder, Inky had no objection. As Blavin takes another swig from his sixth drink of the evening, the waitress smiling at him with a wink as she set down their glasses before skating away to take another order (Inky made sure tip her liberally for the attentive service), Inky let their line of sight flicker to a fuchsia-coloured band on a departing customer’s arm.

Inky smiles internally at the sight — they can almost hear Beaker’s crow of dismay. The poor kingfisher had been under increased pressure of late from other scientific associations and prominent speakers to exclude BAND from presenting at one of the largest annual ornithology conferences of the year on accusations of spreading misinformation and junk science in addition to attempting to erase the history of native bird tribes. There had been a huge row, which ended with the BANDits storming off, yelling about “the proof being crystal clear” and that they will bring “ancient arcane evidence”. The Alcedinian researcher had lamented the halcyon days when conferences were avenues for scientific exchange, not twittering soapboxes. Not that anyone who had ever tried to arrange any gathering of birds of a feather really thought things simply glided along smoothly before. However, the advent of dedicated carrier pigeon networks had made it easier to relay research to and from smaller communities, opening the pathways for their participation, including a few somewhat Controversial fringe groups like BAND.

Alex attempts to shake down the hobbit, who titters merrily at his demands.

“You know nearly everything I do, dear! Your mark as you put it,” Blaven theatrically drops his voice as he looks around for eavesdroppers, “would be the zephynos of Kelsun Peak should you choose to go that route.

“If you choose to go to the moon, you’ll have a harder go of it,” he frowns. He flips the map over and draws four circles in a straight line. They have the proportions of a grapefruit, an orange, a tangerine, and an orange. He jabs a finger at the grapefruit. “This is us, here, earth.” He points at the two oranges and the tangerine. “And these are our planet’s moons.” He points to them in order. “Selene, the Green Lady. Moonmoon. And Lua, the Red Lady. Recently, as you well know, we had a super eclipse in which these four bodies and the sun all lined up in perfect alignment. The combined magnetic pull of the spheres allowed a rare commingling of the ionic spheres, and our instruments were able to detect the crystal somewhere out there in space. If I were to bet on it, I would put my money on Lua.” He points to the farthest moon, the Red Lady, with its own tiny satellite, Moonmoon. He looks up at you and explains, “She’s far enough away that her ionosphere would never make contact with ours except for in this particular, rare circumstance. That’s why the crystal has escaped our detection for so long.”

“As for the Benefactor!” He brightens up. “He’s a magnificent fellow as you well know! A renowned collector. His wishes are to preserve the crystals and protect them (and us!) from their misuse or mishandling! He has a hot tub!” he winks at you. “Speaking of crystals,” he adds as an afterthought, taking another sip of his drink, “why don’t you hand that crystal over to me and I’ll deliver it to the Benefactor. That is what he’s paying you for after all!”

The Ornithologer’s Trio leaves Lucy’s Basement quite oblivious to their bug. The Ornithologer turns out to be the orator of their little group, ranting about the conspiracy, the attempted cover up, about how Big Science wants to convince you that birds are dinosaurs but they’re just pulling the wool over your eyes. The truth is right there in the fossil record for crying out loud! All you have to do is look for yourself. Nobody these days wants to think is the problem. They just get their information from the authorities and take it as gospel, but they don’t see that the authorities have adopted a narrative that suits their own ends.

At which point the groll interjects and asks what is the end goal of Big Science, and how exactly does convincing the proletariat that birds are dinosaurs help achieve it?

The BANDit scowls and answers, Look, you just don’t get it, okay!

The three split up and go their separate ways and disappear into the night.

You learn the following, one of which is true, one of which is false, and one of which is meaningless.

  1. BAND plans to intercept the CRYSTAL of VOID and use it to petition the Insatiable Wyrm for definitive proof that Birds Are Not Dinosaurs. In this way they shall shame their fellow paleornithologists and earn their rightful place at the table of Big Science, which they have spent decades undermining.

  2. The Gnu Zealots intend to reverse engineer the power of the crystals, create a newborn godling, and then release their findings, thus laying the foundation of the world’s first truly open source religion

  3. The trio seeks the crystals not at all, but in fact search for Sitopotnia, creator and progenitor of the entire amaizeon race—including corbits, aurs, centaurs, and others—and the only mortal in the history of Basmentaria to successfully take the mantle of creation from the overgods.

Meanwhile, Blaven slips out into the early, early morning carrying his own bug. He whistles tunelessly to himself as he sails down the street with a wide and veering but surprisingly steady gait.

Once he gets a few blocks away, his gait narrows and his step becomes more lively, a bit jaunty. He stands upright and ceases whistling. All signs of drunkenness disappear as he tugs on his sleeves and straightens his vest, and runs a hand through his hair.

He meets a goblin catcher in the street going the other way, wearily making his way home after a long night’s work. He wears a tiny goblin in a glass jar around his neck, as is the signifier of his trade. And he carries over his shoulder a large cloth sack, the contents of which writhe and kick. Looks like it was a productive night for our goblin catcher! Blaven gives him a little bow and a salute, laughs, and pats him on the back in passing, deftly transferring the bug. “Good night for it then ey?” he calls cheerily. The goblin catcher smiles politely, mumbles a nicety, and carries on.

Later, hidden safely away from spying eyes and listening ears, Blaven sits at his desk, putting the final flourishes on a missive. He sits back and re-reads it to himself, lips moving silently. He nods and smiles, satisfied, and reaches for a stamp to sign the letter. He presses it into a dark red ink pad and then onto the parchment, leaving the image of an apple and iris. He sands the paper, carefully folds it, and places it in an envelope.


Note: Feel free to back up and play out some more conversation at Lucy’s before Blavin leaves if you want to.

Options on the table:



Some of the creatures who inhabit the world of Basmentaria

Giant ears with bat wings. Very keen hearing obviously. Usually more of an annoyance than a true deterent. Unless there’s a Centaur around.
a little goblinoid with the head of a goblin shark
A hundred ears with a hundred wings. The size of a small horse. They can really ruin your day.
A creature on the cob. The middle life stage of the corn creature, between Aur and Centaur. It does not have wings. Its flesh is comprised of thousands of hard microkernels. They travel in herds, and can hear at the speed of sound.

Giant muscle bird. Proud, muscly, vain, fashion forward. Beautiful plumage.

Tiny tinkerers. Highly combustible. Very explosive. Like making contraptions powered by steam and/or coal
All gnomes are women. All gnomes are engineers. They have bright red noses, and very long ears. And long nimble fingers.
Bisonpeople. Long beards, long hair, horns. Poor personal hygiene. Uncompromising idealists. They insist on a world of free and open-source magic. They refuse to use any magic that they cannot study, modify, redistribute, and use however they want. Theirs is a political movement that borders on religion. Or a religious movement that borders on politics.
A dirty mop head on long, stilt-like legs. Solitary wanderers. They love magic, but have no natural aptitude for it, and so covet magical items like wands, staves, and orbs. A typical groll is a walking arsenal of runes and wands.
A colossal many-tentacled sea monster with a hard shell. It drags itself along the ocean floor, carving deep furrows in which it lives, catching prey with its tentacles.
A fluffy little goblinoid, dripping blood absolutely EVERYWHERE. Oh god, don’t let it touch that! Ew.
Dispite everything, disgustingly cute.
Sole manufacturers of an extremely high quality synthetic blood, and thus pretty much single-handedly support the “vegetarian” vampire community.
Toothy whales with a single long tusk. They are mostly scavengers, and are only provoked to violence in the presence of a lie or the breaking of an oath, in which case they go into a frenzy preying on the liar or liars. They can smell blood from a great distance, but can hear a lie from much further.
Subterranean scaly ratdog creatures. Big luminous eyes, long droopy mustaches. Extremely rarely, they may grow leathery wings, in which case they are revered and elevated by the other kobits.
Top half bear. Thick, hairless, leathery skin with a thick layer of blubber to keep it warm. Bottom half fish.
A water bear. It has eight jointless legs, each tipped with four sharp claws. It wriggles and wobbles like jelly as it gesticulates.
Wild men of the mountains. Their long, sloping, vertically-creased foreheads and their bulbous, floppy skullcaps make it look like they wear chef’s hats. But no, that’s just what their heads look like.
The twisted people. Their bodies literally twisted and warped by magic into gruesome forms, these wretched creatures are hated and reviled across the lands.
Juvenile cloud dragons. They have wide heads and lidless eyes. Multiple pairs of filamented stalks behind their head help them fly. They have six underdeveloped limbs with long, thin fingers that they use to manipulate cloudstuff into solid objects.




Basmentaria is a group of islands that sits between the eastern Sugrin Sea and the western Saldin Sea.

There is Primora, the sparsely populated northern somewhat banana-shaped island. The city-state of Illivas, Primora’s only densely populated area, sits between Harshwind Glade and the mountains of Kelsun Peak.

And there Agendell, the southern also slightly banana-shaped island. Its largest city is Vay’Nullar, bordered by the Gnomelands to the south, and the Tammineaux Forest to the east. Beyond the forest is the Rana’For Valley.

The two crescent-moon islands reach toward each other, and in the center is the archipelago of Ginnarak, comprising the Cinderlands, Ashen Vale, the Ember Steppe, and Drakspon Mountain.



In a fantasy setting where there objectively are deities who walk the earth and interact with humans, “atheism” is sometimes erroneously used to signify an indifference to the gods. This is more accurately called “transtheism”:

Transtheism refers to a system of thought or religious philosophy that is neither theistic nor atheistic, but is beyond them. … [A system] is theistic in the limited sense that gods exist but are irrelevant as they are transcended by … a system that is not non-theistic, but in which the gods are not the highest spiritual instance.

That is, gods are sufficiently powerful enough to mold the earth and shape the destiny of man, but are no different from man in that they are fallible, flawed, and able to die.

They may be greatest power, but are not necessarily the highest spiritual or moral authority. Nor are they endlessly enduring or lasting.


[1] episode 00010


In the days of old, the Artifice Wars ravaged the lands of Basmentaria.

They reduced the once fertile lands of Ginnarak to ash and embers.


I don’t know what I’m going to put here, but I didn’t want this document to just abruptly end. So here you go: a kind farewell and a more gentle conclusion.

Thanks for reading.