Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Voices from the Coast - Alwin

Dearest Linn, 
I've had a miserable couple of weeks. As you know, work hasn't been plentiful here in the Lothrheim countryside. I had to get a contract with the Péridot Firm. I know what you're thinking. Didn't I know what happened to Father? Didn't I know better than to gain employ as a Cutter? But I didn't have a choice. I was desperate.
The bank sent me and a group of Cutters out on a job to go unearth some ancient ruin. I can't remember the details exactly. Or rather, my contract says I can't. They might get their hands on this letter, so I can't say too much. We managed to make our way up to the town of Hamburg, as far north as you can get before encountering the River Sten and the northern border. Once we'd arrived in the town, I knew something was off. 
You see, most of these coastal towns are bustling hubs. There's always people out and about, even late into the night. We'd been resting up in those types of places whenever we had the chance, better than in somewhere in that Aveth forsaken countryside. But when we came to Hamburg - it was dead silent.
When we walked into that town, we all knew at once what our job was going to be. Only one thing could create this feeling of dread in a coastal village. Plague.  This was last night. This morning, we've already seen our first deserters being carted off. If I hadn't been so tired yesterday, I would have been with them. 
The expedition supervisor gave us instructions on the task a little while back. We're going to enter the ruin to the southwest of the hamlet later today, clear out undesirables, and retrieve the assets. Failure would result in termination and collection of payment for the services rendered on this expedition. We all knew what this meant - we were Grue fodder. We were given a short period to rest up and get affairs in order if we need to and...shit, they're calling for us to line up. 
The small hamlet of Hamburg sits along the shore of the Holm Sea, and hearing children running through the streets of the lively little fishing village, it is hard to imagine the desolate scene described by one Alwin. I had acquired the letter from the local church, written documentation being scant in the best of times, and have reproduced it here for your perusal.

However, the strangest part of the ordeal was not the acquisition of the letter, but subsequent events upon further investigation of the document.  I had reached out to the Péridot Firm that had apparently been in charge of the expedition, only to receive notice that such an expedition had never been carried out. Furthermore, visits to the church resulted in assurances that such an event had never indeed happened, and the letter was nothing more than fictional fancy.

I would have written off the letter as a piece of fantastic fiction had I not received a summons by one Josef of Hamburg. Josef was one of the few in the village who had been alive at the time of the aforementioned expedition, an elder by even Academy standards. Upon visiting his homestead, he had pressed upon me a note given to him years ago by whom he claimed was the same Alwin I had been investigating, and that I must not let "them" get away with it. The note seemed to be a simple note of appreciation, written as if talking to a child clearly enamored, with an autograph at the bottom to boot. He remained silent to further questioning, and I eventually gave up and left the man to his worries.

I was not able to get away from my nagging curiosity, however, and having both letter and note in hand, contacted a colleague in the graphology division back in Firlund. I further contacted some other colleagues of mine, noted historians of Lothrheim, to see if I could piece together anything from their researches as well. What came of my inquiries seemed to raise more questions than it answered, but I will outline for you the highlights. Firstly, the handwriting between the letter and the note did indeed match, confirming the existence of one Alwin, or at least, the confirmation of an elaborate hoax by one individual. 

The second piece of information was that which I received from my colleagues in the history department. During the period the aforementioned letter was written, there had indeed been a well documented outbreak of the Plague in Lothrheim, like the many which had been seen across the Coast since the emergence of the disease. Tucked away in the mass of papers documenting this outbreak was reports from one Ebarim Zeef, an Academy magus tracking strange magical tremors giving off signatures that defied conventional understanding of magical law. These readings were understandably written off as a case of faulty detection of magic by administration and subsequent tests yielded roughly normal results. It was easy to see how it would have been brushed off without a second thought, and I wouldn't have looked into it either if not for the timing and location of the reports. The unusual tremors had occurred only within the reported time period of the Lothrheim plague outbreak and that too at a specific location - coordinates pointing to a location in the wilderness southwest of the village of Hamburg.

Of course, perhaps I am an old man reading far too deeply into something that may not exist, in which case, forgive me dear reader. As I often tell my students, I will leave it up to you to come to your own conclusions, for better or for worse.

-Dr. Arvis Trilf, Professor of Anthropology, Royal Academy of Firlund

Description: Untrained Journeyman.
Motivations: Associate Pride, Overthrow the Poor, Weaken Valor.
Bearing: Hostile, speaks of judgement in relation to his family.
Focus: Afflicting Illness.

-Randomly determined. 1-2=Poor. 3-4=Average. 5-6=Good.
-Penmanship: Poor.
-Language: Average.
-Heart: Poor.

Ink Pot:
1. bank/Péridot Firm (+1/+1)
2. northern/Firlish (+0/+0)
3. god/Aveth (+1/+1)
4. sickness/Plague (+1/+1)
5. monsters/Grues (+1/+0)

Total: 7, tepid reception with negative and positive consequences.

Well, I finally got around to playing a session and it was pretty entertaining. I'm not usually one for long form writing games but using UNE and Quill mixed with the Coast as a setting gave the experience some focus. Especially rolling the primary focus of the scenario as an "afflicting illness" immediately brought to mind the Plague, a defining part of the games I've played in the Coast (and considering when I'm playing this game, somewhat timely as well). Adding context to the letter outside of that turned out to be just as fun of a creative writing exercise, using the final result to roughly interpret how much information Arvis uncovered in his investigation. I'll probably be returning to the Coast at some point, though I may see if I can expand from Quill since I've gotten my hands on a gamut of journal and long form writing games that I want to test out at some point.

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