- Plane Weaver
Want to make a difference? Looking for an opportunity to contribute to the military glory of our great Empire from the safety of the Embrace?
Devout Vitomir of the Throne has an exciting offer for you - yes, you!
Some combat experience required. Secrecy essential. Payment subject to performance.
Contact the Order of the Throne for more details!
An elderly, almost wizened man who probably couldn't take on a child, let alone a house full of criminals introduces himself to the party. His name is Shaper Stojan and he's so glad they've come to help him take back his home from those terrible, evil bandits. The fact that he pings as a Paladin somewhat detracts from this introduction, but before the party can question it…
“Wait,” he says, looking over them over. “Which group were you again?”
It becomes clear that Stojan misunderstood why the party are here - he thought they were the attacking party, what with how impressive they all look! But no, they're the defending party, he gets it now!
He removes his disguise and re-introduces himself as Devout Vitomir of the Throne. The party have been hired to assist in one of his very first immersive special operations simulations which are coordinated so as to assess up-and-coming adventurers, fighters and spies before they can be deployed into enemy territory. Today, the adventurers will be tasked with neutralising a band of criminals who have invaded an old Shaper’s home. The real Shaper Stojan has been paid handsomely to donate his house for the cause and to set up a couple of obstacles under Vitomir’s instructions so that the adventurers only have one possible route to take.
The party, Vitomir explains, are to play the role of the criminals. He could have recruited any old untrained brutes to populate the house, but it's important that his trainees get a good run for their money. It is crucially important that the party stay in character. If the adventurers find out that their opponents have been planted there, it'll not only ruin this simulation, but potentially all other simulations, past and future! They’ll be provided with a handful of disguises to make themselves look like visually distinct bandits between rooms, but Vitomir doubts that the adventurers will question anything. They never do.
He gives them the means to communicate with him as they progress, as well as a stack of very basic disguises. He dons his Shaper disguise once more and leaves so that he can greet the training group. As he goes, he once again reminds the newly-recruited bandits to stay ahead of the adventures, to feel free to fight tough, and above all, no matter what, to keep up the act.
As they attempt to enter the house, the party immediately encounter a slight problem in that the house used for this simulation does actually have a pretty tight security system. A hatch in the ceiling opens up as they pass through the lobby, and they are attacked by metal spring-creatures which attempt to bat the party away from the building. The party manage to shove the security measures back into their holding space and gain entry to the building; when informed of the hold-up, Vitomir apologises - he was certain he disabled it in advance! Ah well, he says, the party handled it just fine, so no harm done. Mabel cures both Jemil and Alessia of a rather passive-aggressive affliction given to them by one of the security measures, which compelled them to knock before entering a room.
Shortly after this, the first wave of adventurers arrive at the house: a band by the name of the Heroes of the Shining Sun. The party decides to stage an ambush - which they perform with much exaggerated villainy. Alessia meets a new rival in the form of the hard-hitting Rod Paladin Hammerhand while the other two party members struggle to keep up with the healing abilities of a Connection Weaver. Having finally defeated this wave, the party sneaks further into the building to set up the next attack. However, on their way to the staircase leading up to the next floor, a heavy vault door concealed within the walls slams across and blocks their progress.
Fortunately, the party decipher the strange colour-coded locking mechanism and the hallway is cleared. They speed forward so as not to be seen by the adventurers behind them, and they eventually reach the hall containing the staircase.
Once the next adventuring party arrives (an exuberant group who call themselves the League of the Doers of Heroics), Mabel declares herself to be the Dread Bandit Bella and challenges one of the adventurers to a duel. The others politely stand by and watch until Alessia (under the name Safiya Hubristus) and Jemil (as Fabian “The Shadow” O'Reilly) criticise their group name. Outraged by this mortal insult, the Doers of Heroics leap into action to Do Heroics… but Jemil and Alessia vanish, soon followed by a triumphant Mabel.
Returning to the scene after healing each other, the ‘bandits’ are surprised to find that the adventurers have taken the initiative to run away. Following them upstairs, the party find the heroes happily eating a meal in the dining room; whilst their initial reaction is to defend themselves from the bandits, a bit of careful negotiation leads to the formation of a tentative truce. A game of poisoned cups fails to heighten trust between the two groups, so they instead decide to settle the score with another couple of one-on-one duels.
Alessia challenges an old Erosion Weaver to a ritual showdown. Standing on either end of a long dining table, they each carve out elaborate ritual circles and spend five minutes insulting each others’ Weaving abilities. Alessia's attempt to make the Erosion Weaver's ritual backfire is successful; the Erosion Weaver's attempt to erode Alessia’s hard work on her ritual circle is bounced back onto his own circle and he is blasted off the table. Triumphant, Alessia cackles maniacally and falls a little further into the character of Safiya Hubristus.
Jemil defeats a heroic Torch Paladin in combat, much to the despair of the adventurer who promised Alessia their sense of pride in the event of that outcome. Alessia, despite drifting ever further into the bandit lifestyle (“Hm, what if I traded one of you the heroic parts of myself so I can get more into character?”) shows mercy and decides not to perform the trade of intangibles.
The heroes heroically stick to their promise that they would leave if thoroughly defeated, and Vitomir shortly chimes in to wonder why a group of disheartened adventurers have walked out on the simulation. He seems concerned by Alessia’s aggressive attitude in particular, but admits that he’s impressed by their commitment to their roles.
As Vitomir delightedly brags about the really difficult logic problem he set up for the adventurers, it becomes immediately obvious that this too has been activated early so that it now blocks the progress of the ‘bandits’. While Vitomir searches through his notes for the solution, the party manage to solve a puzzle hidden in the portraits lining the walls and unlock the door.
Even then, though, the puzzle still appears to have gone wrong somewhere. The portraits seem to come to life and attack the party - “No! That was only supposed to happen if you failed!” - but they manage to fend off the defences and move on. Vitomir is baffled by how wrong all of this is going. Did he somehow miss something in his meticulous preparations?
Despite these setbacks, the party make it to a drawing room decorated with beautiful painted screens. The windows have been blocked off and the room is dark, which Vitomir hopes will improve the next fight - this time against a band called the Unscrupulous Explorers. Jemil is encouraged to use the full extent of his training as a Shroud Paladin to thoroughly disorientate the trainee adventurers. They do so, despite the room abruptly flooding with light midway through thanks to a curtain moving of its own accord. The reappearance of Hammerhand seems to motivate Alessia in particular to ramp up her bandit behaviour to the point where she now threatens her targets with limb theft. Once the Explorers have been defeated, Jemil takes the opportunity to lift a sword from a display case and stashes it in his shadow.
Vitomir interrupts again, clearly panicking. Having used his scrying abilities to look along the intended simulation route, he was shocked to find that the few remaining adventurers have managed to find a faster way up. Mabel literally leaps into action, carrying Jemil through a bizarre structural support layer between floors while Alessia waits below. Jemil finds that he is the subject of another passive-aggressive lesson in manners, as he realises that he now holds an aversion to sneaking around where he shouldn't. This is deeply problematic considering his calling as a Shroud Paladin. Alessia, after teleporting between floors using her farlink, offers to take the affliction onto herself. Jemil accepts, and Alessia resigns herself to a life without sneakiness for now.
As they wait for the final remaining adventurers to arrive, the party speak once more to Vitomir, who seems disheartened by the whole affair. With how far things have deviated from his plan and with how unlikely it is that any of his trainees will make it past the full might of the adventurers, he expects that his superiors will call this a failure on his part and stop him from running simulations for a while, if not forever. And then one of his rivals will inevitably swoop in and take over his position, and everything will be terrible, and…
Wait, he says. He acknowledges that it’s a lot to ask, but he wonders if the party could perhaps… throw the upcoming fight? Just to let a couple of people pass this simulation? Then he can report back and declare this simulation a success and everything will be alright. He’ll pay extra, he promises. This seems reasonable, and despite Alessia managing to bring the party back from the brink of death following their fight with The Legendary Warriors Who Kill Stuff, the party decide to lie still and play dead while the one remaining adventurer celebrates his victory.
Somebody seems to object to this turn of events, however. After being briefly menaced by some inexplicably mobile suits of armour, the party encounters Shaper Stojan (the real one, this time) accompanied by another Paladin. The stranger introduces himself as Devout Dejan of the Throne, and he proposes a deal…
It emerges that Dejan bribed Stojan to help him sabotage Vitomir’s simulation - Mabel questions his motives for this and he explains that as a rival to Vitomir, he felt it necessary to step in and see to it that this failure of a training program was put to rest for good. This, he claims, is what he does as a devotee of the Throne: he ensures that obsolete structures are torn down to be replaced with the new and efficient. He offers the party his gratitude if they were to quietly ‘deal with’ the remaining adventurer standing between him and the closing down of Vitomir’s project. Mabel outright refuses and manages to inform Vitomir of Dejan’s interference before being attacked by the Paladin and a handful of suits of armour under Stojan’s control.
Meanwhile, Jemil kills the adventurer, much to Dejan’s surprise and amusement. Mabel is appalled by this and chases Dejan as he flees the scene. The two share a conversation at the entrance to the house, during which Mabel accuses Dejan of being responsible for the adventurer’s death. He denies this and insists that Jemil’s choice was entirely his own - Dejan never used the word ‘kill’ in his suggestion, which makes both him and Mabel little more than bystanders to murder. In the face of his lack of repentance, Mabel swears a vow that she will never again leave the helpless unprotected.
Dejan claims that he’ll willingly go along with Mabel into custody… but then uses the last of his Might to drive her back, allowing him time to race off into the streets and vanish. Mabel calls in a favour from House Keelen before returning to the party at Stojan’s house.
What she sees there comes as a surprise: the adventurer who had been killed by Jemil is alive once more! Alessia claims that the adventurer was never really dead. Mabel raises her eyebrows. Alessia changes tack and admits the truth: having communed with the dead adventurer, she decided to trade his death for forgiveness - which would naturally involve her own death. Being Blessed, however, she shortly returns to the party.
The formerly dead adventurer comes to and is congratulated for having ‘won’ in some sort of test. He is very confused by this. Mabel tells him not to worry and to go and speak to Jeremiah Stingelhelm about his future as a warrior for the glory of Rastaban.
Reporting back to their hirer, they find that Vitomir is exceedingly grateful for their completion of the simulation and their help dealing with Dejan. Mabel suggests that they should team up to help train new heroes - between Vitomir's love of creative ideas and her common sense, they could turn his pet project into something genuinely successful.
Mabel's contacts in House Keelen also support this endeavour. Having found Dejan attempting to flee through the Barrens, they had been intrigued by everything he revealed to them about this ‘immersive simulation’ job. Mabel has Dejan sent off to Vitomir and she agrees to help move funds into the Barrens by hiring Keelen people to help with training. Jemil, after apologising to Mabel for killing the adventurer, uses his influence as a Thief Laird to send out a recruitment call for this job.
Alessia performs a ritual to strengthen her mindlink with Carmen. She confides her concerns about Carmen's safety in Jemil, who reassures her that Carmen will probably be just fine.
Finally, Mabel uses her Wheel abilities to return to the space she once visited within Legacy. She locates a note and a diary from Artemecia's room, and through them learns some information about Artemecia's suspicions regarding a prominent figure in Rastaban.