It is another day within the Shadowvale Orphanage, and the midday lessons are beginning apace. Once class in particular has the honour of studying defensive alchemy - nicknamed by the students to have taken it as ‘the art of learning how not to be blown up.’ The class sits in the small chamber, perhaps studying the slightly worrying blast marks on the ceiling or the odd smell of boiling eggs that pervades the chamber, arranged in a half circle around a raised dais.
”Sapient beings,” Master Vandoe Ilia says as he enters the classroom, ”Today I shall tell you of bombs. Many of you shall encounter alchemists, such as myself in your journeys, and one of the weapons that alchemists love to use is the bomb.” The Master strides to the front of the classroom and hold up a small vial of pale liquid.
The Master glances at the vial as he continues to talk. ”Even if you choose to not use the skills learned here in the way we intend, for you to go out into the world and adventure, alchemist are not uncommon in an age where a hideous deadly gas covers much of our world. Indeed, some feel it is alchemy that spawned the Fog, and alchemy that may eventually solve it. As you are approaching your majority in whichever form that may take you are likely to have to deal with alchemists, and as such, potentially with bombs.”
”As I’m sure you all know by now, I am big on the theoretical. Therefore, I propose this simple exercise - how does one deal with a bomb? You know that they may not simply use fire and force to harm - some alchemists mix a great deal of unwholesome chemicals into those devices. The concussive forces unleashes bypasses the thickest armour. So what do you do?”
Stepping down, Vandoe added, ”I will give you two minutes to focus on a solution. Then I expect to see your findings put to use.” The professor smiled merrily before pulling out a large barrel and pouring the clear vial of liquid inside. Smoke started to rise from the hole. ”Because I am also quite big on the practical side of testing, too. Five minutes, children. Give or take.” Whistling vaguely to himself, the Master strode from the room and closed the door.
The barrel smoked ominously.
She looks on quietly as the master drones on. She stopped paying attention in the classes a long time ago, preferring her own company to that of the others. The redheaded girl taps out a beat on the edge of her seat, those pale eyes staring into the corner of the room.
She barely talks to the others, since the six months that she's been here at the Orphanage. They know her name - or what she thinks is her name - because the teachers introduce her to them. She's just the oddly quiet girl who keeps her own company and once managed to chuck a throwing knife into a beetle five yards away.
Sienna stirs as the master throws the group a curveball, blinking slowly as she looks at the barrel in the middle of the room, starting to smoke. She's no alchemist, but she knows that is not a good sign.
Standing up, she turns to leave the room, turning the handle on the door - when faced with a problem, first attempt avoidance.
Igor likes class in general. There is always a teacher around and Talus the bully has a low chance of being in his same classes as he's more martially bent. This class, however, was never his forte. Master Ilia always talks in alchemical riddles. Well, except today.
Igor stares at the barrel nervously. The odd, red-haired girl named Sienna makes for the door, and Igor decides that this is an excellent idea, though he has this odd sinking feeling that accompanies the gut intuition that that door must surely be locked.
Barring an unlocked door, how would he protect himself from a massive explosion in a room with no cover? Well, make some cover, of course.
Igor darts to a far corner of the room. He sits on the floor cross-legged and his features enter a state of intense concentration. Reaching into that tiny gap between here and there, he starts to pull out strands of silvery ectoplasm from the Astral plane. Sometimes kids mistook this material for Fog, but Igor knows it isn't.
He weaves this completely unstructured stuff together into a block measuring one foot on a side. He pays special attention to the internal structure of the grain, bringing a hard, old mahogany block into being over the course of a minute.
Over the course of the next five minutes (or until the barrel goes), he furiously concentrates, bringing more and more blocks into life on top of each other and interlocking for integrity, completely encasing himself in dense, sturdy, durable mahogany wood braced against the outer wall of the classroom.
Craft(sculpture) to form interlocking blocks for structural integrity: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (13) + 10 = 23
That is, if no one solves the problem of the smoking barrel first. If that happens, then he'll drop his current manifestation. The blocks will last one hour and cost no power points as long as Igor is focused.
Farash concentrated. Hard. He put all his mental power to the problem. There was an answer here, but he couldn't quite fathom it. He looked to the red headed girl, but she seemed to find the problem so "problematic" she was trying to leave the room.
Igor as usual was changing the world around him. Farash lost a few moments watching in slackjawed admiration before closing his mouth.
He thought about the problem again, but it was no use. As hard as he concentrated he couldn't figure it out. That was that, and the weird smoking barrel just made it harder. There was nothing else for it - he truly had no idea. It was definitely a hard problem. What did "sapient" mean?
Azeban loved classes that encouraged practical learning, and Alchemy in particular was fascinating to him. Still, Master Ilia leaving the room was the last thing he expected, and his dark eyes widened in panic as he searched around the room for a solution.
Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (6) + 4 = 10
Knowledge Engineering: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13
How big is the barrel? Are there windows? I assume, too, that the teacher has a desk?
There is a large window behind the dais, with a lectern on it and a small desk and chair to the side. The barrel is smallish, about 200 litres or so. Bar these things the room is remarkably bare - indeed, you notice the book shelves have been cleared off and delicate glassware removed.
Panic starts to rise in Victor's throat as the barrel starts smoking. He runs through his options quickly. Tip over the barrel? Not a good idea; likely to hasten the reaction. Throw it out the window? Also a bad idea; that would get him in too much trouble. Drag over a bookshelf and cover the barrel?
No, no, no! All stupid ideas. He desperately tries to think of a solution, but for now, hiding seems like a good idea. He starts tipping over desks, attempting to barricade himself against a wall.
Perception 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (9) - 1 = 8
Farash sees his fellows' actions, but he really has no idea why "sapient" is so dangerous or scary to them. He pretends not to worry, fearful lest he give himself away as a dunce...
The young girl doesn't wait around once the door handle has been tested. She opens it up and leaves the room, walking as safe a distance from that place and the smoking barrel inside as possible. She doesn't tell the others to follow or invite them with her in any way - it just seems natural they would do so instead of staying in the room with a bomb.
Igor has only a few inches of wood constructed when Sienna opens the door. He stares at the open doorway for a split second, shocked that it was open. His wood dissolves into thin air like smoke as he drops his manifestation and dashes for door. When outside, he maintains a safe distance from the quite Sienna girl while still moving away at a good clip. No teachers means the bully's come out.
Standing outside the door, Master Ilia smiles. "An excellent idea. Running away is certainly a valid choice in most situations. However, children, let us assume that running isn't the valid answer in this solution. Let us assume that something valuable - such as a good grade - will be blown to kindling when the bomb goes off, and you dare not flee from it. Still, very well thought out - extra marks!"
"...Understood." Sienna's voice is slightly raspy, closing the door before Igor can slip away, turning around to look at the bomb. Surely it isn't so dangerous that their live were in peril - the teachers here may be eccentric but never cruel.
She looks between the barrel and the window, another solution coming to form in her mind as she walked over to it and opens it up. "...out," She speaks again, pointing to the barrel and then to the window, before going over to it, grasping onto the bottom and trying not to breathe in the smoke.
"...Assist?" She asks the others, unsure that her athletic build is capable of lifting the barrel on her own.
Strength check: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Igor has now lost the time to make full use of his original idea, and the exit is no longer viable either. If something valuable was in the room...
Wait... Smoke means Fire! Fire needs air to burn! So, really, one must cut off the air! But Sienna is expecting help. But, Igor cannot help, he has to make a lid! But, help! Oh no. If only he had another pair of hands win which he could help Sienna and cast!
George! George could help! If ever there was a time to test his theories about how to keep George around for more than 6 seconds, now was the time.
Igor plants his feet and draws a large clump of Ectoplasm from the Astral plane about as large as himself. It streams in from various places around the room and gathers in front of his cupped hands. With complex motions and gestures he forms a bipedal creature with a sturdy fame and strong limbs.
After about 3 seconds there is a flash and the new thing darts forward. It grabs hold of the barrel and heaves with Sienna.
Casting the power Astral Construct. Stats as 1st lvl construct here with the Utility ability from the feat Advanced Constructs. It can assist in any check that requires a DC 10 or lower, which I think lifting the barrel qualifies. It has a Str score of 15. It will last 1 hour.
Str check for George, if necessary: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 2 = 14
Seeing the Android come back into the room with the same idea he had, Azeban smiles with self-satisfaction. As he approaches the barrel to help her lift it, he realises that the barrel is roughly the same height he is, and he won't be much good for lifting it.
Scrambling up onto the window sill, he works at getting it open instead, so that they needn't destroy the pane when throwing. Still, Master Ilia's words continue repeating in his head, and he wonders if there isn't some other way to stop the explosion. The bookshelves being cleared off means it's expected to explode, but that doesn't mean it has to.
Azeban's small eyes dart and back and forth across the room as he tries to formulate a better plan that doesn't result in an explosion.
Farash is fairly certain "Assist" means "help". And lifting heavy things is definitely his game.
He slows his breath and calms his mind. His head shoots forward as his neck bulges and cords of muscle ripple throughout his entire musculature. His arms bulge and legs slide further apart as his whole frame expands.
Mutagenic Form: Strength. DC 10 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
He just manages to control the change, and "helps". Holding the barrel he turns to Sienna.
"Where are we putting this?"
(19 Strength - can lift 350 lbs easily, or stagger with 700 lbs.)
The barrel, propelled by Farash's alchemically enhanced muscles, soars through the window and out into the courtyard below. After a moment the sound of wood smashing against flagstones followed by a yelp. Unfortunately this is followed by a loud bang! and an impressive cloud of purple smoke billows up past the window followed by a more angry yell.
Master Ilia bursts in, looking around. "It wasn't meant to go...wait, where's the bomb?" Glancing around, his shoulders slump slightly. "Oh, hell, you threw it out the window didn't you? I should have guessed. If you can't remove yourselves from the bomb, remove the bomb from yourselves. Perfectly sensible...if not a good solution for the people wherever you remove the bomb too. Still, it's the middle of class, so there shouldn't be anyone down there. No harm, no foul."
"VANDOE!" a ladies voice roars from the courtyard, "WHY AM I PURPLE!?"
"Headmistress?" Ilia looks up, thoughtfully. "Alternatively," he offered in a tentative but thoughtful voice, "We could all make new lives in a far away city. I hear New Katar is always in need of alchemists, after all."
Sighing, he turned, beckoning the class to follow. "Of course, the bomb was never meant to harm you," he explained as he headed for the nearest stairwell, "But it did, on it's final reaction, create a rather clever dye in smoke form. You'd likely be purple for the rest of the week, if you hadn't been able to solve the puzzle. Alas for us all, you did. Now, if her eye starts to twitch, I recomend a 'duck, cover and pray' method of survival."
Opening the door, Ilia revealed the courtyard. One corner, centred around the shattered barrel, is purple. Unfortunately the purple extends to the path - and the highly irritated looking Half-Orc standing on the path.
Ilia approaches. "Headmistress, I-"
Headmistress Quist holds up a finger. "Not you, Vandoe," she says, her normally placid voice worryingly low, as the finer swirches to pointing at any members of the class brave enough to follow, [/b]"Them. I'm not interested in flowery explanations about alchemy imps or how the laws of physics were accidentally and temporarily over-ridden. I want to hear how this happened. Now."[/b]
The headmistress, though a supremely important personage does seem to be very dull. Farash chews his lip, momentarily paralyzed by the inner struggle between not wanting to alert her to her own shortcomings and not wanting to disobey.
Honesty won out.
"I threw the barrel out of Master Ilia's classroom window, Headmistress." he says, pointing to the open portal, above.
"It was sapient." he adds helpfully.
Victor sighs. Something about Farash just intrigues him - he know's the big guy's a bit simple, and he can't stand to see him be the only one to get in trouble.
"Yeah, I helped. Kinda," he pipes in, scuffing the ground with one booted toe. "We... Well, I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time?" He offers up a cocky grin, playing the part of a lovable rascal. Sure, it's never worked much... okay, it's never worked at all; but that means that statistically, this could well be the time it works.
Igor follows, because what was the point in staying behind, and freezes on the spot at the sight of Headmistress Quist. She knew everything about him. Probably even his late night trips to the deep corners of the library. She was well equipped to be the best bully ever. Knowledge and the Power to use it almost without consequence. Igor stands behind Victor, using the larger boy as cover to remain unseen.
stealth: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16
George, however, is still around, and Igor simply doesn't notice. This new development has distracted him from checking on the results of his experiment. George is about the same size as Igor, and is standing a couple paces behind the goblin-boy waiting for new orders. Ectoplasm bleeds off of him like sublimating dry-ice.
"So...when faced with a barrel loaded with purple dye, for whatever reason, you all decided to to hurl it out of a window?" Quist rubbed at hand across her eyes, not noticibly dislodging the purple. "I don't want to know do I? I am going for a bath. One of you, go and get mops and brooms and buckets and such. Clean this up. I am going to go have a bath - Master Ilia, if this stuff is not likely to come off in the bath I humbly suggest that you go find something that will."
The headmistress turned and walked back towards her rooms, scrubbing ineffectually at her hand.
A great, wide grin stretches from one side of Igor's large, oblong head to another. So that's what it was like to see someone else get something dumped on their head. He likes.
It's only after the Mistress has gone that Igor finally notices a melting figure behind him. He is stunned nearly speechless by the construct. It should have disappeared in the classroom.
I DID IT! he yells, completely forgetting himself for a moment. He rushes the construct and wraps his arms around it, then proceeds to walk around and around his creation, scrutinizing it's every angle.
Igor analyzes and pokes his creation the whole time sienna is gone. When she's back, he can't resist sending George to help with the cleanup. George grabs a mop and gets to work. He sweeps and sops with mechanical precision, and never slows of tires.
Igor stands close by, scrutinizing George's every movement.
Victor stares humbly at the ground, watching the Headmistress out of the corner of his eye. When he's sure she's gone, he lets out a short burst of laughter, clamping a hand over his mouth to try and suppress it. He stops abruptly when he notices Master Ilia remains in the room, quickly grabbing a mop and bucket and getting to work.
He nudges Igor in the ribs gently, standing next to him, leaning on his mop. "So, you finally got him to stick around, huh?" He nods his head to what he assumes is George.
Igor nearly jumps out of his skin as Victor's poke. He slams back to reality and quickly looks around. Satisfied that Talus was nowhere nearby, his massive grin returns.
It took a combination of an inverted insectoid carapace, 50% increased mainline support frame mass, high density meta-kinetic inducers, and a mostly impermeable outer membrane, though he still leaks around the articulation points. It's taken months, Victor, but Talus might be leavin' off my case now!
Azeban had wanted to speak up, but the Headmistress had never particularly liked him, and he was anxious about being exiled. His dreams of saving people from the mist would not come to pass without proper training. Still, he felt he should take responsibility, and moved to help Sienna clean up the mess, getting down on his paws and scrubbing the floor.
Knowing he might be faced with anger, but unable to thwart his curiosity, Azeban looked up at Master Ilia. "Master Ilia," he begins tentatively, sheepishly embarrassed that the solution he had proposed had been incorrect. "What was the right answer?"
"It was an answer," the Master allowed. "Barrier capable of directing the blast, defusing the bomb, transformation have all been tried before. Even the leaving idea. No one has ever simply picked it up and hurled it out a window." He rubbed his hand across his eyes. "I really should have expected someone would try eventually, though. Alright, I'd better make the headmistress a soap or some such to wash the dye out of skin. It should scrub off stone alright but don't let it touch your skin too much. And, uh...ignore any purple plants. They'll probably be fine. Maybe they were meant to be purple?" With that, the Alchemist headed off, leaving you to talk among yourselves.
Victor nods back over his shoulder. "He's in my satchel. Dormant now. I'm able to make him bigger, now - there isn't much room for anything else in my bag once you've got four feet of mechapede in there!" He grins, scrubbing idly at a stubborn spot of purple. "That said, if you ever want Talus to wake up to something sitting on his chest in the middle of the night, giving him a dead-eyed stare through empty eye sockets, you let me know and I can arrange that." He drops the smaller boy a conspiratorial wink.
Farash watches Igor and Victor's easy camaraderie with a faint sense of ennui. Would that he could so easily treat with his classmates...
He watches Azeban curiously, trying to work out if the raccoonkin is a pet, the school mascot or a free moral agent. From time to time Farash catches himself staring at Sienna, little noticing that his heart races just a fraction faster when he does so.
A dark shape looms overhead accompanied by the faint drone of an airships engine. Even as people start to look up a barrel, not dissimilar to the one recently used as an example in a certain alchemy class, is tipped over the edge of the ship. Unfortunately this one is not a dud.
The explosion is premature, scything into the building several stories above the courtyard where a certain group of youngsters is currently cleaning. Chillingly, the classroom where the lesson had taken place is now exposed to the world, the window and much of the outer wall now missing and blacked by the blast.
An alarm spell sounds, a bell ringing out suddenly across the grounds. A distant boom and thud suggest the town's defenses have seen the attack and are opening fire, but the airships continue on, dropping more of the lethal barrels as they pass. Only seconds have gone by but there are several plumes of smoke.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25
"...Invaders." Sienna's eyes catch ropes being lowered from the airship bombers, wondering why they were being attacked for seemingly no reason. She drops her mop for the time being and draws her rapier instead, moving swiftly but silently towards where they may have landed, going it alone and vanishing swiftly in the shadows.
Stealth: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26
Igor nearly jumps out of his skin as bits of building rain down on him.
perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 3 = 10
Suddenly, Sienna is gone and more barrels are raining down from the airships overhead. Gosh I want to make one of those... he muses before another explosion rocks the ground. He looks around for his imaginary friend and sees George returning. He motions the construct over.
He looks up at victor. Where'd Sienna go?
Perception: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (10) - 1 = 9
Unaware of the imminent danger, Farash stares up in awe at the sudden arrival of more sapience. If only it were his own.
Eventually, he realises that the bell ringing is an alarm, and that there is some kind of danger. Not knowing the source of apparent peril leaves him feeling nervous. He calls out to no-one in particular.
Overlord - Farash doesn't generally wear armor nor carry his halberd to class - approx. how far away is Farash from his room/shared quarters?
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
Victor sees the ropes being lowered, and his heart freezes in panic. "Invaders," he whispers, then finds his voice and yells louder. "Invaders!" he cries to both Igor and Farash. "Come on, we have to get out of here!" With that, he bolts from the room, but runs back in a second later to grab his satchel. The overstuffed leather bag thuds against his hip, containing his dormant machine. "Come on!" he shouts at the remaining students, motioning a little more frantically to Igor.
Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24
Reflex: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (12) + 6 = 18
Azeban darts into view as a section of the building crumbles, looking in surprise that some of the others haven't yet moved. Turning his dark eyes to the sky, he can clearly see the airship, as well as the men descending from it. "Might be pirates." He claims, looking with worry at Farash and Victor. "Or worse." He draws his pistol, keeping careful not to point it at any of the other students. He hadn't ever shot it at a living target before, and wanted to be sure that the first thing he shot wasn't one of his colleagues. Feeling the reliable cold steel gives him strength. "We need to help the others escape." He announces, moving for the entrance of the orphanage.
Victor/Azeban - we aren't in a room/classroom. We are in the courtyard where we were cleaning up. Our classroom, several stories up, got part-demolished by a bomb.
Armour/weapons/penny dreadfuls would be stashed in a bedroom. Probably under a pillow, for the penny dreadfuls. It would only be a couple of minutes away.
A violent roar sounds above you. One of the ships takes a direct hit from the city's guns and is ripped in half from the resulting blast before both halves of the shattered hulk drop down to earth with a crash.
The school is chaos. Gun fire and explosions can be heard ringing out, even now that the initial barrage of bombs seems to have stopped, telling the tale of enemies within the grounds. But they're clearly not getting things entirely there own way. Many of the older pupils will be capable of fighting, and of course the school's faculty is a group of gifted and experienced adventurers who chose to retire to teaching - and you know that the old saw about 'those who can't, teach' does not apply to them. As you watch a vanguard blast attack sweeps one attacker off the roof with a sharp shriek, evidence that the Headmistress never reached her bath.
Outside the courtyard is devastated. It looks like a cannon strikes reduced this area to rubble. With a bit of climbing you can make it out easily enough, however.
perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (9) + 3 = 12
Igor's world is colapsing around him in short order. Rubble, dust, and screams have replaced the relative security of the orphanage. Even if he was bullied, it was better than this, and whatever this was, it was probably only getting started.
Igor keeps close to his classmates. Now was not the time to get caught alone. George is still sticking around, following Igor like a faithful puppy.
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
The girl pauses in her stealthy advance as she hears the sounds of crying close by, within the rubble itself. She approaches the pile and looks for the source, before sheathing her blade and starting to toss the heavy stones off to the side, to uncover the victim.