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Ephemeral GameMaster

Mar 3, 2023, 12:58 pm

Spirit of Pinvendor wrote:

As some of you may or may not know, the next section of Curse of the Crimson Throne is very Open World/sandbox. Aside from the chaos in the city, the players are left to their own devices and choices with a little guidance from the GM.

Truthfully, it's a dangerous place for an adventure module as the choices you make could take us completely out of the written path if none of you bite the bait that could be dangling or make the choices the AP is expecting. Pretty funny place to be taking over as GM, as naturally, I don't have anything yet prepared of my own for looping you back to the main story if you go rogue (assuming that's even the best direction based on your characters' choices/desires). But we'll see what you all do, and I will adjust accordingly.

I provided fair warning.

You say I’m not engaging all the players? We agree; I’m not. But not because I didn’t try. Because most of the players chose not to be involved in what was presented.

Garrett was a non-presence no matter what I tried.

Lina had a personality conflict with Cinnabar in and out of character so she left because she felt disengaged due to it.

Abella never once indicated there was any problem and frequently cited RL for slower posting, so until the blowout when I asked about the posting slowdown, I had no insight. I tried to turn that around and also get the party into the barrel for the starting shot, but possibly because of my RL delays, she felt unheard and chose to leave.

Regarding Pip and his little adventure…I actually considered this a success. I introduced an element (Dendren) and got Pip to engage with the party. I thought this would be a sure fire win as it would get reactions from everyone and discussion going, but…somehow yet again, my attempt to find a non-PC specific NPC hook to engage the group failed.

How many failures does that make for me now? I’m not sure. A lot.

How many hooks got thrown into the wind to try and find a single unifying idea for why your little group stays together and ends up going to see the queen?

Help Garrett decipher the ledger so his father could be freed from prison? Failed

Investigate why Lamm and party were impaled on the docks? Failed

Interest in why a sketchy group was breaking into a dress shop after the party made them important? Failed

Join Shrike on her visit to the Gray to bury Zellara and son’s remains? Only Shrike, but even bigger failure as now the party is split.

Almost unification in finding the lost children? Hit and miss. Interest waxed and waned, and I barely consider this above a “Meh” from most of the team.

When larger scale ideas weren’t working to draw interest, I resorted to light hearted events with NPCs such as Von Heller’s shop in the hopes these kinds of things would draw people out of their shell and the chance for something fun.

Abella: Success
Everyone else: Meh
Shrike: Hated it. Fail

Then there were some of the player driven attempts to engage which other players disregarded or shot down. I won’t go into all of them, but the most notable was Pip expressing interest in the political scene of Korvosa which was almost universally disliked by the other players. I actually liked it and wouldn’t have minded a touch of politics, but it would have been very light as this isn’t Hell’s Rebels or Council of Thieves.

So, AdamWarnock, you are right. I failed to engage all players. Despite my PMs checking in with people at various times; despite attempts in game to figure out just what will get certain people involved; despite trying, I’m being judged for succeeding with two of you.

So let’s go ahead and tally up.

Success at engaging Shrike and Audria? Actually a Fail per the most scathing review of a GM almost universally praised by all of you when I first took over.


I guess that’s that. Who could possibly want to continue after such a horrible review. Harsh? No, that post was miles beyond harsh and gave me zero credit for any of things I may have done right.

I hope you can find another GM. I’m out.

Ephemeral GameMaster

Again, I’m confused. My response did not indicate that I wouldn’t roleplay anything out. I merely commented that your NPC knows what you want her to know about your PC and her backstory. I made no assumptions aside from your background profile states a point in time that Jessica and Audria met. I merely reiterated that I assume Jessica knows Audria as of that point in time. Anything that came prior would require you to indicate that Audria told Jessica.

Just like you telling us you worked at a reception desk for a while. I only know because you told us. :P

Ephemeral GameMaster
AdamWarnock wrote:
I want to redo that conversation between Audria and Jessica because I'm not happy with it, but there's a part of me that wishes that you'd decided to play it out with me instead. I think it would be better and would add something to the story we are telling.

I'm addressing this separately because I am really confused by it. You wish I had decided...instead?

When exactly was I given the choice? You wrote a huge dialogue and chose to give Jessica's answers for her without even offering to let me be involved. I would certainly have played it out with you, but given the conversation pretty much ended within your self-contained post, I did not have a clue what else you wanted. I even asked you about it here in the discussion in case you did want something more. I left that entirely in your hands.

Ephemeral GameMaster

@AdamWarnock: There's a lot of accusation in that post and sadly most isn't warranted.

One of the complaints Abella made was not having the time (and possibly the desire) to keep up with all of the "walls of text" and all the many conversations with the NPCs. She indicated a while back she's not as interested in producing the larger amount of creative writing you and Cinnabar have shown and wanted more specific and focused post requests and less free form. While she did not provide a direct reason for choosing to leave, a certain amount of dissatisfaction regarding all of the NPC interactions instead of getting on with the story was at the heart of her message. So, the exact opposite of what you're accusing me. I tried to explain that Open World RPG Korvosa is exactly what this section of the AP offers, and we had now reached the end of that, but she still chose to bow out.

Neither her nor Pip nor Dal offered any NPCs to be used for interaction in this section, and as this was (again) an optional choice, I chose to respect that by not conjuring up a random NPC without their implied consent. I asked, they did not respond, and I abided by that non-verbalized decision.

In prior communication Pip had expressed a concern to me regarding not having played in a game prior to this one where players such as Cinnabar, yourself, and even Abella provided long interesting narrations and wasn't sure he belonged. I reassured him that such posts were not required, and even when I've offered and asked about NPCs such as trying to put a name to the family for whom Pip used to work, he chose to keep this confidential insisting Pip is just here with this group now.

I'm not intentionally excluding Pip or Abella from these developments, I'm honoring their current wishes, stated or implied.

As you pointed out, this is the precipice from which the game descends into its true form. All my request in the prior posts is about is to improve the communication we have between us, so there are less misunderstandings and moments of silence which cause people to feel confused or uncertain and certainly not having to feel defensive about who should or shouldn't have been posting next.

In the current scene, what you all decide as a group to do next will greatly affect the outcome, and this is literally the ticket with which you use to board the Adventure Path Railroad because from here on out, the options from which you will be able to choose will largely be assumed to go down a single track. So for once, the random choices and conversation you're choosing to make is leading to more than just long-winded posts.

This is why I wanted to discuss a better way to communicate important moments without telling you "these are important moments."

Ephemeral GameMaster

@Abella: I responded to your message, and I thank you for letting us know.

@Audria: My main goal is to increase participation. Unless I'm misreading the room (been known to happen recently), it feels as if a lot of people are choosing to not engage (a totally valid choice) with random hooks and therefore are expecting me to push forward when said hooks are not bitten or that possibly nobody likes those hooks because they don't obviously indicate an advancement to the story rather than some distracting NPC fluff. As I'd like to find a balance and also make sure everyone has the same expectations, I feel I can no longer "just see what we go for," as if no one verbalizes they are going for none, I'm waiting on my thumbs without any feedback, and you guys are waiting for me to do something interesting. Staring contest ensues, and that's going to kill this game if I let it continue without attempting to calibrate things.

As I have been rather awful seemingly with trying to communicate without offense recently, this is my attempt to initiate a friendly and open discourse on how we signal to one another when we need more from each other.

Ephemeral GameMaster

OK, so I appear to be running into a limitation of PbP format.

I'm trying to give everyone the chance to do what they want, discuss things, and also keep some tension by not specifically telegraphing my intention when scenes could take a dramatic turn. However, this also seems to cause some lag in posts as without knowing what's coming next, you may be expecting something from me while I'm looking to see what you choose to do and and adjust the scene based on it.

I see Abella has been silent for a bit, and while I may be making a bad assumption, I believe it's because she may think this is another prologue scene. I've also noticed some delays between others in the conversations, and I worry that everyone is basically waiting on me while the scene is technically on you, the PCs, and I'm looking for what you're choosing to do with the stimulus I'm giving you at the moment.

I believe we need a way to solve the "Whose turn is it?" dilemma.

The way I see it, we can run things a couple of different ways:

  • I post as regularly as I can, but the assumption and awareness is you have 24 (maybe 48 hours) to post in between my posts, and there are no retcons. If you don't post in the period, it doesn't happen.
  • I telegraph when things require your input, collaboration, or decisions. This would make it a lot more video gamey as this would be artificially drawing your attention to a thing or situation.
  • Everyone signs their posts (or spoilers) with an ooc #hashtag indicating from whom they are expecting a response. 95% of the time, I'd expect it would be #GM or #playername, but it could be #NPCname when a GM post for a specific NPC is desired. The #GM would also be used to close out a scene, or an indication a player is ready for me to move it along if the other players don't pre-empt me by initiating additional roleplay with that player.
  • Your suggestions?

    My thoughts:
    I will abide by the group's decisions, but here are my opinions of the options I provided:

    * In my opinion, option 1 is overly penalizing as RL happens and having a super hard line in the sand only benefits the players who have the time to commit daily. I play in a game that's run with this mindset, and it's tough sometimes especially when I devote more time to arranging things for this game or RL stuff takes away my focus. I'll come back to it a day or two later to find I've lost 1-2 turns in a combat as the GM bots no one.

    * Option two is doable, but it will ruin immersion greatly and removes the delusion this is a story. Also, I anticipate the style and frequency of posts would likely change. Overall, I think this option would change the timbre of the game significantly.

    * Option 3 has the potential to get messy, so we'd probably need to codify it a bit to help make sure everyone's on the same page. I would add something to the game header for everyone's reference.

    I'd like everyone to weight in here when possible. Thank you for your attention.

  • Ephemeral GameMaster

    Meeting Keyra Endrin

    Keyra hops off the chair to drop the barest of curtsies having been given instruction by her governess to be courteous when meeting new people. She then promptly returns to her place on the chair.

    "Quite lovely to meet you." A tad perfunctory, but it would do.

    Keyra's eyes go wide with shock when Pip curses, and she giggles even as her face flushes.

    Registering...a complaint!

    The dour faced man glances at the nervous man who appears to be his companion perhaps his attendant and gives a start when he sees the man's condition.

    "Pull yourself together!" he hisses.

    The nervous man jumps and winces at the rebuke. His eyes shift around the room and he jumps again when he notices the party members eyeing him. He scrubs his palms on his robe leaving sweaty marks on the fabric.

    The berating from Magistrate Tuttle to the clerk continues though she might winding down finally s she takes a breath...and then launches into a fresh new tirade quoting several Korvosa city codes in their entirety.

    The dour-faced man stamps his foot in frustration earning a stark glare from Druvalia. He returns his own with fury, but the woman dismissively returns her attention to the clerk. A vein begins to pulse in the man's temple.

    Keyra snickers, "Wow! Dread Lord Druvalia is in rare form today! Merula, I feel for you. You're always so patient when dealing with her."

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Orisini: Knowledge (Geography, Local, or Nobility) DC 8:
    The Orisini Academy is a famed school of swordplay located in the heart of Old Korvosa where young scions of nobles houses are trained in the art of fencing. Word is the current owner Vencarlo Orisini has mostly retired from teaching leaving one of his most senior students in charge.

    Here's a little something while I work on some larger posts.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    I understand. My own creativity well has been feeling drained. Today has been a very bleh day overall. We'll see how I feel later though. Some inspiration may come forth.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Yikes! Stay safe. I'll do my best to keep Pockets alive.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    @Pippip: I'm leaving it to you to roleplay any discoveries you have with the others.

    @Merula: To answer your earlier question, no one of any particular political or notable presence is in the room currently. While having the head of the Acadamae would have been fun, he would not actually be present at this moment (mostly because he's way too powerful and would render the next scene irrelevant if he was here.)

    @Audria: As you kind of went ahead and answered for Jessica in your spoiler, aside from having her sympathy, are you looking for her to do more than having sung soothingly at this point in the past?

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Save me from boredom, Merula. You're my only hope!

    Keyra seems a tad less interested when Merula admits the group is not a theater troupe there to perform for the event. Her eyes boggle a bit when introduced to Brother Theolan, and she points at him suddenly.

    "I've seen you during the Crystalhue! When I was eight, you actually helped me send my Zonzon doll adrift down the river!" Brother Theolan smiles and nods at the excited girl.

    When asked about her father, Keyra's expression turns sour. "I haven't really seen him. He sends messages and quick little notes here and there, but he's been too busy to come home." She shakes her head slightly. "I know he's doing his best to keep the city from burning, but..."

    She doesn't finish her thought, but Merula can tell Keyra's fighting to keep herself from looking sullen and disappointed. Clearly, she's ashamed of the selfish feelings she has when she knows Korvosa needs the Sable Company Captain's attention during these times.

    Registering...a complaint!

    Across the room, Magistrate Tuttle continues to lecture the clerk regarding the law. A rather dour faced man with a long nose dressed in some kind of official robes speaks up, "Please, Madam, would you possibly be willing to file complaint on this later? We would very much like to finish this process and be shown our rooms."

    Spinning towards the man who had the audacity to address her mid-sermon, Druvalia spits, "I will be finished when I'm finished!"

    A man in what might be loose scholarly clothes nervously rubs his hands on the legs of his trousers.

    Perception DC 15:
    The agitated one is sweating profusely. The room temperature is actually rather comfortable, so his discomfort is certainly not from the heat.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Pip's Rumor #1:
    A female gnome with electric blue hair says when asked about the unrest: “It doesn't matter who ends up with the ruling seat. No Korvosan monarch has ever died of old age. No Korvosan monarch has ever produced an heir after being crowned. They call it the ‘Curse of the Crimson Throne.’ No way in hell would I ever sit in that chair if I got crowned!

    Pip's Rumor #2:
    A nervous tiefling who's surprisingly thin and a bit on the androgynous side whispers, “All sorts of unsavory groups are capitalizing on the unrest. Thieves, anarchists, wererats, and even cultists of the goddess of undeath are plotting against us in the shadows! My Harrower confirmed it when he read the cards yesterday. It's all true!” S/he licks his/her lips. "My Harrower even confirmed King Eodred didn't die of an illness but was murdered! Regicide!

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Audria: You may roleplay whatever you wish. As far as what Jessica does or doesn't know is entirely based on your introduction of her in the Dockside Doxies spoiler, and the presumption that Audria and Eliana get her attention from time to time for the wig making. Her behavior represents a fondness acquired over time and the feeling of ease she has to let down the walls of her persona when alone with them.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Down to the wire, but I pulled it off!

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Jessica L'Morie the Calamity of Scandal:
    Audria wrote:

    "JESSICA!" Audria's shout of indignation is the loudest and sharpest anyone in the party has heard her be; even her tone with Shrike wasn't so harsh.

    "Some things are better left private," she says through clenched teeth when she has the woman's attention. Her face is darker than her hair thanks to the furious flushing from her embarrassment. She calms, marginally, as she takes in a deep breath. "And you know exactly what Brother Theolan meant. (At least I hope he meant styling hair.)" she grumbles, the last part a little louder than she intended or wanted it to be.

    Jessica's head whips around her eyes wide with shock and whatever completely innocent words she may have been speaking to Dal cut off instantly. "Oh, my dear sweet duckling. I had no idea my little story about learning to dance was causing you such discomfort." Jessica smiles softly while continuing to scoop up the pleth-hair-a of strawberry blonde waves before depositing the mass into Audria's own arms. "Don't you worry, pumpkin, I'm going make sure you don't have any need to be jealous of what a wonderful time I had. We'll be certain you're ready for your big debut in front of all the fine and yummy lords and ladies tomorrow. You'll be able to have your pick for the dance!"

    "Bye for now, you bewitching man, I'm sure I'll see you later." Jessica throws Dal the smile of a perfect angel as she herds Audria and her tresses towards the young paladin's room.

    Jessica L'Morie, Student & Doxie:
    As soon as the door closes, Jessica's wide eyes narrow shrewdly and the innocent smile twists into a crooked grin. As she looks into the flaming red and rather cross expression Audria presents her, Jessica soon breaks into a fit of giggling rapidly escalating to full laughter leaving her own face quite red as she gasps for breath.

    "Did-did you see that boy's face?? I think he was a hair away from propositioning me right there in the Sanctuary atrium!" the young woman laughs and collapses onto Eliana's bed. She doesn't even attempt to be modest and the brevity of her skirt allows Audria to see the rather tiny satin undergarments (if they can even be called garments!) Jessica is wearing.

    "Oh, I love coming here. It's one thing to play my routine at the Doxies, but everyone expects it to one degree or another. This place...it's like you all have found a way to reinstall innocence over the top of everybody's sins." She leans forward. "Audria, my love, I promise you, Jenelyn is no saint of virtue. You've seen her. She's gorgeous. No way she doesn't know something even I haven't seen."

    Her laughter under control, she smiles at Audria in that way Jessica has. Her real smile. That one she reserves for those she really cares about. "How are you doing, kiddo? You seem a bit more high strung then usual. Is it because I embarrassed you in front of your new friends? Tell me about them."

    And just like that, Jessica was Audria's big sister again. Before she knows it, she's sitting on a stool, and Jessica has those special shears which can somehow cut Audria and Eliana's magic hair without it fading into shimmers of light. There's a lot to cut, and Jessica takes her time letting Audria talk as much as she wants, and then singing softly when Audria has quieted. Her voice is enchanting as she sings versions of Varisian folk songs Audria seldom hears.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Familiar face in an unfamiliar place

    Pippip Ooray wrote:
    With a quick change of clothes as the servants come in, the hobbit changes his mannerisms to those he learned as second nature to the servant class that needs to survive by avoiding eye contact and taking a deferential pose. He followed some of the servants back in a trickle, with a goal to join the main throng that inevitably led to the place the servants gather to gossip. At the manor house it was the kitchen, but in this large castle he was eager to see where it was.

    Unfortunately, security is particularly tight today. The servants providing water go in and out of a room where they are gathering to rest and chat between trips. A pair of Abadaran clerics are on hand using divine magic to refill a few barrels with spouts with clean, crisp water. All other exits to the room leading deeper into the castle are guarded by men and woman in heavy armor and sporting heavy maces and bastard swords. They do not concern themselves with the activity of the castle workforce and ostensibly ignore the attendants and servants of some of the more powerful or notable guests who've entered the room. The side-eye observation isn't as discrete as they might think however.

    Pip is able to hobknob with many of the castle servants and obtain some gossip. Roll 2d20 to see which rumors and gossip you receive, Pip, my boy.

    As he makes his way through the crowd of staff making jokes and commiserating with the workers, Pip hears a familiar voice.

    "...cifically requested be kept here. My master sent an entire cask ahead of us, so it could be chilled by the time we arrived. Please check again. Orisini, Vencarlo Orisini."

    It is Dendren, the man Pippip nearly stabbed to death.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Save me from boredom, Merula. You're my only hope!

    Merula Antius wrote:
    When they are granted entry through the gates, she disembarks and enters the castle behind the others, unaffected by the fine surroundings but looking around covertly to see if anyone she knows is here. She spots Keyra Endrin, her red hair as neatly arranged as Merula has ever seen it, slouching and mutinously scratching at the uncomfortable-looking ruffle of her high-collared dress as she studiously ignores the attempts of her governess Miss Mhartis to bring her in to a polite conversation with an old man with a long beard.

    The url for the old man doesn't appear to be working, or else my browser hates it for some reason.

    Keyra's eyes roam around the room looking for any distraction from what must be a boring adult story or insufferable compliments about what a pretty young lady she is or insistences on how long her parents have been acquaintances. She honestly has no idea since she hasn't been paying any attention beyond the need to know when to interject a "Thank you, kind sir," or "My, that's exactly right," or "Oh, what wonderful advice."

    Wait, who's that? Merula??

    "That's-such-a-sweet-thing-to-say. I'm-so-terribly-sorry, I-see-someone-I-absolutely-must-talk-to-right-away. Thank-you-bye-bye-for-now. Excuse-me," comes the rapid-fire string of teenager chat before the girl hops up and flounces her way towards the party. Tall and gangly for a girl on the cusp of early womanhood, she hasn't quite grown into her height or limbs, but she moves with hints of grace like a dancer or even perhaps a swordswoman instead of the loping gait one might expect.

    "Merula! Oh, thank Abadar. You're literally saving my life right now." Keyra looks Merula up and down before snatching a glass of water off the tray of a castle servant walking by without even turning around. "Wow, you look great! You know the shindig is tomorrow, yeah? You should save the best stuff for then." Without waiting for an invitation, the thirteen year old with red-orange hair like fading sunset promptly plops herself on whatever edge is showing of Merula's chair precipitating a need for the woman to scootch a bit to make room. Merula can smell the human teen on the girl with her sensitive nose. The hormones and extra oil on her skin isn't terribly unpleasant thankfully, and clearly Keyra's governess must have insisted on some type scented soap, but its fragrance has all but faded now.

    Keyra sweeps her gaze across the group while she gulps down half the goblet of cool water. She raises an eyebrow at the bird and the cat and squints at Brother Theolan with the hint of recognition forming in her eyes. "Quite an interesting bunch. Are these your friends, or..." she lets out a gasp, "Is this your troupe? Are you performing for the King's memorial?"

    Across the room Magistrate Tuttle is continuing to voice her opinion on being subjected to the tests despite who she is and her position within the government. The beleaguered woman to whom Druvalia addresses continues time and time again to get a word in edgewise, but Druvalia just hasn't run out of steam yet and barrels forward.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    My pre-order of the latest version of the Harrow Deck arrived today. Pretty slick. Could easily be mistaken for an actual tarot deck (well, I guess an oracle deck, really) with its unusual and interpretive art relative to the name given each card.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    The universe conspires against me! While I have received a low number of tickets at work today, so far each of them has had ridiculous amounts of time required to complete them hence my continued silence. However, I promise that before 12:00am AZ MT tonight, I will finish all of my planned posts that have been building up.

    I'm sincerely sorry I have been slowing us down after my big speech about increasing the rate of posting.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Sorry for disappearing. Wife made me go to urgent care when my eyelid got swollen. Spent the night with warm compresses and antibiotic ointment treatments. The eye is fine, don’t worry. Just a non-painful stye. Took today off work and spent most of it sleeping in between treatments. Just wanted you to know I wasn’t ghosting you guys.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Promised Jessica post is completed for your amusement. I will be getting some more posts ready as well, so be on the look out this evening.

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    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Jessica L'Morie the Calamity of Scandal:
    Jessica's eyes brighten even further as she sees Audria's strawberry blonde head which is now rapidly growing hair and filling the space around her. Has Dal experienced this yet? She turns her gaze back to Dal with another award-winning smile and a little scrunch of her nose making her little spectacles dance.

    "Thank you so much for all your help," Jessica says with such gratitude, one would think Dal had just returned from an epic quest producing Audria as proof of completion instead of standing there trying to control his gaze as the woman's bosom practically hits Dal's jaw, the frisky flesh jiggling for no discernible reason. She brushes her fingers lightly across the surface of his tunic as she speaks, and somehow Dal can feel the movement like she ran them over his bare skin.

    Will Save DC 12 or Dal shudders visibly.

    "And what have I said to embarrass you, dearest Audria?" Jessica blinks innocently. "Are we not in the house of love where all expressions of joy and passion for one another is expressed? Surely, no one here is unaware of how we humanoids most frequently express our love for each other?" She slides around Dal so closely, it may be a dare to him to reach out and stop her.

    "Oh, look at all of this!" the attractive woman squeals with joy at Audria's overa-blonde-ance of hair. She reaches into her satchel and whispers some words, and, when she removes her hand, there is the slightest of luminescence encasing her fingers. She reaches down and gathers up the mounds which surprisingly do not fade into magic sparkles on contact. As she bends over to retrieve the threads of Audria's golden mane, some gasps are heard from those onlookers who stand in places where such a movement might produce a rather spectacular view. Some stand mouths agape while others look away as Dal had done. Most begin to mirror Audria's own crimson complexion while some—both men and women—get a hungry look in their eyes. Sister Jenelyn shakes her head with her eyes closed and, with no attempt to be surreptitious, clears her throat causing Jessica to straighten up and peer over her shoulder. When she's sees her audience she smiles sweetly and pokes a hand through the hair to wave at them. Could she really be so unaware of why this attention is given?

    "Away to your room, my sweet innocent darling. If you prefer for all your friends not to know all the wonderful things you need to know for your first time at a noble party. Is that not why I have been summoned? Brother Theolan's missive indicated I am to help prepare everyone for a gala at the castle. I remember when I was first invited to a magnificent evening of passionate dining and delicious dancing." Jessica speaks in such an innocent manner with wide eyes and a sweet tone, it's almost conceivable she doesn't seem to know how her words are coming across. Hmmm...

    Her eyes turn to Dal once again, and it's almost as if she's speaking directly at him. "It was a student mixer when I started at the Acadamae. Not quite a gala at Castle Korvosa, but I assure you those mages sure have incredible balls, using the magic of their staves, and lasting long into the night. I was indeed up for the challenge and I was determined not to settle for my first dance partner because we must try many dances to determine what we enjoy, no?" As she speaks, her voice seems to get softer, breathier until the last which is almost a whisper only Dal and Audria can hear.

    If Audria doesn't stop her, Jessica will launch into a rather precise and probably scandalous tale of her first *ahem* dance. Most anyone who hears it will certainly think "dance" could be replaced with another word entirely...

    Regardless of Audria's potential interruption, Jessica will favor Dal with another cute smile and reach out a finger to flick any dangling strands of hair he may have showing. Raising her voice but yet still seemingly speaking directly to Dal "If you or anyone else attending the event needs a trim or a new styling for your appearance, I'm available." Again, the words are so innocently spoken...

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Work today hasn't been busy, per se; just annoyingly consistent. Every time I started to dissect the posts to decide responses, a new ticket shows up. :/

    I will still be getting something up later on tonight if I can't do it within the next couple hours.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    I will have a spoiler for Jessica coming up, but it will be mostly fluff where she offers to cut hair.

    If any of you wish to take her up on this, you may feel free to include in your RP anything about your new cut or style while in the waiting area.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Toilday, 11 Desnus 4708

    Maralictor Georgiy returns and removes his helmet, revealing his warmly smiling face to everyone once again.

    "This is where my knights and I leave you. In the capable hands of the Korvosan Guard who will see you safely to Registration."

    With that, he lowers his handsome face and replaces his helmet. His aide quickly barks an order and the squad of Hellknights and armigers form up and march away.

    As expected, a Korvosan Guard sergeant approaches giving the maralictor's back a sour look before introducing himself as Sergeant Murtus. A smaller number of Korvosan Guard soldiers than the Hellknight team which had just departed takes up positions surrounding the wagon, and after Sergeant Murtus hops up next to the Brother Theolan on the driver's bench, the party and escort proceed slowly up the ramp.

    Ahead and behind are other travelers on foot and as well as carriages and wagons. It's probably safe to guess most are related to the event in some way as guests or attendants or even workers. All along the length of the ramp and stairs are members of the Korvosan Guard and Sable Company watching the entrants carefully.

    Soon enough the wagon crests the ziggurat and Sergeant Murtus directs the wagon through the impressive gates of Castle Korvosa into a large courtyard and into a small line of vehicles. Eventually the group is able to disembark where they are led into a well furnished room full of well-appointed furniture and walls lined with tapestries depicting Korvosa's history. Complete suits of armor and ceremonial weapons adorn the empty spaces.

    The party can see several people milling around all waiting to be seen at one of two desks each with a pair of humanoids checking the registration lists and administering a simple test via an orb ensorcelled to indicate if the person touching it is lying. Each person is asked two questions: Do you intend to cause any harm to anyone at Eodred's Remembrance (the name given to this event)? Do you wish to harm Queen Ileosa?

    Sergeant Murtus gestures inside the room and recommends everyone get comfortable while they wait to be processed. Brother Theolan locates an unoccupied space with chairs and a divan and leads the group over to find seats. The priest wears his ceremonial robes and sashes while Jessica is in a surprisingly modest dress...if one ignores that it is so tight across certain areas, if she breathes too hard or bends over, the dress's seams will be in for the fight of their lives.

    Serving staff moves throughout the area offering fresh water while people wait.

    There is a map up on Roll20. Feel free to take a peek at the layout of the room. I placed everyone on seats. FYI, on Roll20, if hold Alt while dragging token, it will not snap to the grid if you feel the placement is not quite aesthetic with the background.

    @Everyone except Audria: There is a high chance NPCs of your acquaintance will be present, so if any of you would like to indicate such an encounter, please feel free. If you can indicate in [ooc] if the encounter is friendly, hostile, cold, etc. it will give me an idea of how to proceed with those characters as well.

    @Audria: I've already got plenty of your NPCs going at the moment, so no need for you to add more. :P

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Yeah, I do inner monologue with italics as well.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    I think my confusion is I don't see Merula saying the word "Stop" to Audria anywhere, so it kind of felt like you were putting words in her mouth...? I even did a word Ctrl+F check with all of Shrike's/Merula's spoilers expanded on the last two pages of posts (16 & 17 for me), and not once did Merula say the word "Stop" to Audria, so I'm not really sure in what context Audria would be hearing this in her head which is why it felt like a name mistake for Tally.

    Ephemeral GameMaster
    Audria wrote:
    "Stop," Merula's voice cuts through her thoughts.

    Did you mean Talanaliel here given the following sentence?

    Audria wrote:
    She can feel the concern flowing over her link with Talanaliel, and she sighs. Of course Tallyfeather could tell what she's thinking.

    Ephemeral GameMaster
    Dalmano "Dal" Imperiosus wrote:
    "I meant that maintaining such a large castle on top of the top of the city for only a handful of the elite [potential comma or parenthesis] while so many of those who work to keep the blood pumping throughout Korvosa [missing phrase (e.g. starve slowly in their own homes] [potential comma or parenthesis] elicits certain negative emotions from me."

    I believe this sentence is meant to be a "this happens instead of that" structure, but the "that" wasn't completed. Commas or parentheses could have been used to separate the clauses, but that would merely have been a literary device to draw emphasis if desired.

    Forgive my red pen-ing of your post, Dal.

    Also, I'm looking to get more done today, but work has just been non-stop. Thank you for the roleplay. I am enjoying it.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Lol, you used the wrong name silly.

    Ephemeral GameMaster
    Audria wrote:
    Abella's 16 years old,

    Still time to edit this. :P

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    For anyone who doesn't already have it in their profile, what are your full names and rough idea of height/weight/"appearance of age"?

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    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Toilday, 11 Desnus 4708

    Jessica L'Morie the Calamity of Scandal:
    At the trill, Jessica's head snaps in Dalmano's direction. Whether she sees Audria or not, she immediately approaches the man and favors him with a brilliant smile. The buxom brunette leans forward unnecessarily giving Dal quite the eyeful while daring her dress to finally slip off entirely. Cocking her head, she brushes some stands of her hair behind one ear.

    "Hi, there. Would you happen to know where I can find the young Audria? I'm here to teach her how to draw the attention of her potential lover." She winks at Dal. "If I don't find her soon, I might have to keep shouting about all the things I need to teach such as learning how to touch someone to bring arousal so she can hear me."

    Spoiler: Required - Dal and Audria.
    Spoiler: Available - anyone

    As evening approaches, there comes a knock at the front door of the Sanctuary of Shelyn. It is the handsome Hellknight maralictor and a contingent of his subordinates who will be escorting the party representing Shelyn. As weapons will not be permitted in Castle Korvosa, the Hellknights are there to see the party to the castle grounds safely.

    Once everyone is ready in their street wear with packs stuffed full of any fine dress, accessories, and cosmetics, Brother Theolan assists everyone in boarding a horse-drawn cart with simple benches for everyone to sit. Maralictor Georgiy barks an order and the Hellknights form a box around the horse and cart. The driver eyes them nervously but clucks at the horse who moves forward at a steady pace but not so fast the armored soldiers have any problem with keeping up.

    Korvosa is far from quiet. Ranks of armed soldiers seem to be everywhere with checkpoints at several intersections. The party is only minimally challenged as Maralictor Georgiy's aide is quick to run ahead and present documents with official seals before the group has even reached each them. Soon enough the massive ziggurat the Grand Mustaba is all that stands between the Sanctuary's delegates and the imposing Castle Korvosa itself. Covering the entirety of the flat-topped ziggurat of the Grand Mustaba, The Castle Korvosa is an impressive sight and one visible from nearly all corners of the city. For many this is as close as they will ever get to the monumental structure. Looking at it from here, the castle walls and spires rise high into the sky above and almost straining the neck to see it all. A large contingent of Korvosan Guard stand at the base of the massive ramp flanked by steps leading up the Grand Mustaba to the castle. the Hellknights maralictor and his aide approach them and begin conferring while the Guard cross-reference lists of their own.

    While waiting, Brother Theolan turns to the group. "I know this can be very overwhelming. I..." He glances up at the structure above. "I am still not used to it myself. Every time it's just as impressive as the time before."

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Sorry not sorry, Audria. It's like that.

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    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Toilday, 11 Desnus 4708

    A young woman named Merula who seems to know Audria appears sometime after Shrike departs. She offers to show people some of the basics of aristocratic table manners and how to perform the basics of bows and curtsies as dictated by the style of dress of the individual conveying the respect. While the actions of respect are easily taught, the labyrinth of forks and spoons and the timing of eating but with deference to the queen's actions are like a complex form of martial arts. Merula is convinced by Audria and Brother Theolan to join the group leaving for the castle.

    A second young woman also enters the Sanctuary sometime during the day. The front door bursts open, and she practically falls into the room taking several steps to catch her balance as if she was thrown into the room from outside. Time seems to stop as everyone in the main atrium turns to look at her in surprise.

    The woman's appearance is immediately eye-catching as ignoring her curvaceous frame is nigh impossible. Her hour-glass figure is emphasized by a pale yellow dress(?) which looks very much like a long shirt that's been belted around her waist while the bottom portion barely reaches mid thigh leaving perhaps a foot-length expanse of skin before the start of the open cuff of the tan high-heeled boots covering her entire lower leg including the knee. The boots appear fully functional, but the fabric seems thin and made of a material similar to suede. The top of the dress has the two thin straps meant to keep it in place on her shoulders, however they abandon their posts easily slipping down onto her arms leaving the fabric clinging to her ample cleavage with desperation and only the sheer size of her bosom prevents the dress from simply falling off of her. A small half-jacket, which has also fallen loose of her shoulders, covers her arms to the elbows and seems more like a fashion accessory than functional garment. Her long brown hair is cut to curve the ends around her face. That face is astonishing in its appeal: wide brown eyes with artful lining of black kohl, an adorable petite nose adorned with a pair of cute round spectacles almost on the tip, and luscious full lips which have a delicious pink color.

    She looks around in surprise at all the people staring at her. She bites her lip innocently as she returns their gazes looking from one to another. One of her well-manicured hands holds the straps of a bag packed to the brim with something. With the other she absent-mindedly reaches up to sweep one of her dress's thin straps back onto her shoulder. It promptly slips off again.

    "Um," she begins. "I was told to come here to assist Audria with getting ready for an important date." For no reason at all, the woman's voice gets louder before softening again. "My name is Jessica. Jessica L'Morie. I understand Audria might even get her first kiss if all goes well." Again her voice increases for absolutely no reason when she says a certain phrase.

    Please go ahead and spoiler any actions/conversations from the past with Catching up: Audria/Shrike/Abella/etc. for any items related to the past going forward to help keep the timeline straight.

    I have more coming, but I'm at least getting this up.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    I have a post started. It’s on a tab on my browser. I write a few sentences every so often, but it’s been slow going. I’m going to get it posted by the end of the day. I swear it!!!

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Gah, the job has been kicking my ass. I apologize again for the delay here. I'm trying really hard to get something up before the end of the day. I appreciate your patience.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    That's probably up to Shrike, really. As far as I know, only Audria knows who Merula is.

    If Shrike wants the opportunity to roleplay Merula's "first" meeting with the rest of the folks, however brief, I'd leave that decision to her. But of course, if we're going too long without posts, I'll do what I have to to keep us moving.

    Ephemeral GameMaster
    Lania 'Shrike' Fordyce wrote:

    Since it looks like we're going to the castle, staying the night, and being interrogated by officials(!), can we arrange things so that Merula, and not Shrike, also accompanies Brother Theolan as an attendant not associated with the adventurers who retrieved the brooch, like Jessica the stylist? Something like: 1) Shrike declines the invitation, 2) Merula shows up for etiquette lessons, 3) Audria asks to take her along too for support and in case they have last-minute questions? And then just skip ahead to Merula being there with the Sanctuary of Shelyn group broadly. Like I said, I don't want to miss the banquet or split the party, but the whole thing should just make Shrike very leery. Especially if we're not allowed to bring in weapons, which would make sense for a celebration in these very tense times.

    I have no problem with this description.

    It's quite possible forcing seeing the Social identity to in action may have been a part of my plan all along...

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    I'm actually feeling fortunate so many of you have had some delays as it makes my own seem less disruptive.

    Yesterday and today were crazy at work, but I had a chance to get an important Raven post put up, and a smaller intermediary piece right before I shift us to the Castle Korvosa entry.

    Fair warning, my plan is to try and keep posts a decent rate which may mean I move past an event you'd like to address or roleplay into. I will pause and respond or allow roleplay as long as you all notify me you'd like some time with the scene. As using OOC header titles of varying degrees of cleverness seems to work, I will use that as well, and if any of you would like more time with a particular header, just post up something quick here in the Discussion thread letting me know, so I don't move us past it if you need a minute to write it up or think through how you will respond.

    Looking forward to this next bit quite a lot! Even if it's just for my own writing, I'll enjoy it, but if you all want to throw up some words, you have my support.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Toilday, 11 Desnus 4708

    Brother Theolan encourages everyone to rest and prepare for the coming event. He leaves to oversee the dismantling of the make-shift barrier as part of the missive he received requested the streets be cleared to allow the Korvosan Guard, Sable Company, and the Hellknights increased ease of passage if the nearby causeway was needed to reach any new threats to Korvosa's social order.

    Sister Jenelyn appears and let's everyone know they will need to be ready to depart this evening as Queen Ileosa's administration wants everyone sequestered and vetted prior to the banquet and related events. Attendees will be given rooms for the night and subjected to some questioning. Jenelyn assures everyone as long as they have no intent to harm Korvosa or the queen, there's little chance they will fail to qualify.

    "I am sending a request for the presence of a stylist the Sanctuary often has dealings. Her name is Jessica L'Morie, one of the many adorable friends of the young Audria and Eliana. Despite her personality, she is brilliant when it comes to presentation. She will accompany Brother Theolan as an attendant but will not take part in the proceedings. If any of you would like to make use of her services preparing for the audience, she will be available," the beautiful Shelynite priestess says.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    I was wrong on it slowing down. I will probably have to something later tonight.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    Oh my gosh, work tickets falling from the sky today! It should calm down this afternoon, hopefully. I will try to get something posted then.

    I will be advancing us forward when I have a few moments to write, so if anyone would like more time, please let me know as it will be a fairly large jump.

    Ephemeral GameMaster
    Abella Tribastarion wrote:
    For what it’s worth, I am antsy to push ahead, which is why I am not going on tangents with Abella’s posts. It’s very much feeling like we are in a “prologue” at the moment and I’m feeling ready for the “logue.” We’ve gotten a lot of tasty appetizers but I am ready for some meat. We’re not quite hitting the right balance for me yet.

    You are not wrong. As I expressed to Lania/Shrike in a recent PM, I've been intentionally stalling this part of the adventure a bit more because I don't feel the campaign as written really does a good job of giving the players reasons to stick together nor does it really make the meeting with the queen the rather significant event it should be.

    This is a "hometown" adventure with the initial reason for the whole campaign start being to defeat Gaedran Lamm...which is the first thing that happens. Absolutely nothing that comes next encourages the players to stick together especially since the next event is a city wide crisis which should actually engender a desire to separate as each PC rushes off to find and protect their family and friends (especially in the event you find any of the loved ones alive at Lamm's hideout), temporary posse dispersed. If I had written this, Book 1 would have entirely been finding Gaedran Lamm as the riots create the opening needed to finally locate him. In my mind, Lamm should have been the BBEG to defeat at the end of Edge of Anarchy with it culminating in the discovery of Lamm's inclusion in a plot which threatens Korvosa at large now encouraging the team to stick together since only they know the threat.

    I chose to keep the "prologuing" going to help cement the team's desire to see things through and grow on each other a bit more. Now that we've arrived at the visit to the queen I have a feeling things will start to move a lot more quickly which inevitably means a lot more combat, ha.

    Sorry it has been feeling less exciting recently as soon the sense of unease and urgency will begin to multiply quite rapidly especially with the start of Book 2 which, all in all, we're probably not too far away from depending on how quickly/easily you handle the next few events.

    Ephemeral GameMaster
    Dalmano "Dal" Imperiosus wrote:

    “Any idea as to other attendees?”

    Brother Theloan wrote:
    "All of the heads Korvosa's religious temples and various civic organizations including the Acadamae and the University of Korvosa have been strongly encouraged to attend."

    Following Dal's inquiry, Brother Theolan provides a dizzying array of names most of which Dal may even have heard before today as many would be people the citizens would have much gossip about and even seen at large civic or religious celebrations giving speeches.

    Ephemeral GameMaster
    Lania 'Shrike' Fordyce wrote:
    Audria wrote:
    "Brother Theolan, with all due respect, I would feel a little more comfortable if we had at least some basic instructions on etiquette. Who would you recommend if not Zach?"
    "I might know someone."

    Is this your way of introducing Merula to the team? I like it.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    I'm certainly winning a communication award this week.

    @Shrike: In my mind it made sense since I knew what I meant. I suppose the relevant information missing is that I was thinking of delaying the banquet scene until you had returned. I had initially planned to have the party stay as guests in the castle overnight before the event, and if I run that scene, it should allow you plenty of time for your trip but not be overly burdening for posting while on your trip.

    Of course, all of that is moot if Shrike/Merula declines the invitation.

    Ephemeral GameMaster

    I certainly did not intend to chastise, merely express my confusion as to the recent slowdown as I was unsure if something is being expected of me as the GM. I apologize if my words sound like a rebuke. I can assure you the intention is merely me trying to remove any confusion you may have and also set a precedent for future moments of this nature in which my NPCs make statements in a similar manner.

    I’d thought the lighthearted “Choose Your Own Adventure” reference would make that clear, but as it did not, I apologize.

    Edit: Also, I had noticed an uptick in players RPing, so I have allowed more time for that specifically. I leave it you all to decide when that’s finished, and I try to allow time before I advance the plot so we do not have too many split posts as that has led to some confusion in the timeline of events recently.

    My concern about slowdown is aimed at not always reading the room to know if you have finished the player-to-player RP before I push it forward.

    Ephemeral GameMaster
    Lania 'Shrike' Fordyce wrote:
    I will be traveling from tomorrow through 8/16. I hope I'll be able to post pretty normally from my phone, but please don't wait on me for any decisions or hesitate to bot Shrike if it's been 24 hours.

    This is noted, and as a result, I may extend the upcoming scenes as I feel your presence in the banquet sequence will be better served with more time to post. I had originally planned on having the party actually spend the night in Castle Korvosa, so I might go ahead with that plan. More than likely the ensuing roleplay will stretch long enough to cover the length of your trip.

    @Everyone (except Audria): Please remind me of any and all NPCs with whom you have an association which could possibly for any reason make an appearance in the castle or you would like to have show up. This is one of the reasons I asked about the family for whom Pippip used to work. ;)

    @Audria: I'm already well aware of your potential NPCs, don't worry. Two which have remained off-screen until now will have their debut.

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