Join Alex, Helen, Bryn, Lydia and Ben as they pull the plot threads together.
The party is still in the holding cell for the rest of the week, and have gotten quite drunk. They wake up the next morning, hungover; Barnes is on the stairs still, Carter is facedown where he was left. Azu goes to check on him, and then puts him the recovery position. Zolf is sleeping late, Azu is fine, Cel is snoring in the hammock and cuddling the bottle of elvish mead, and Hamid is fine. He gets up and pulls out a piece of chalk, beginning to write out his own conspiracy board with the following sections, questions, and information. At some point, the rest of the party wakes up, and Barnes, Carter and Zolf provide a lot of information about the infection from the past 18 months (Barnes has had the most combat experience with them), with Cel helping with some of the more science side of things:
(editor’s note: this is categorised by how Hamid initially introduced the categories, and is not in chronological order of when things were spoken of in-episode)
- Where did it start, what is the mechanism of infection, what is the goal of the infected? Is there any coordination? Tactics?
- Organisation is absolute. Barnes has seen people coordinating in a way that isn’t possible -- has lead to the theories about it being a hivemind -- he has seen people “throwing something behind their shoulder, to get caught by someone who wasn’t there (opening a door to catch it)”
- Tactically: keen on taking prisoners, they rarely go for the kill (aiming instead to wound) and try to avoid direct conflict. They only attack when they have overwhelming odds in their favor.
- Goal: relentless expansion/propagation; if you wanted to capture every single person, this is how you would go about it, and they are very good at it (Azu compares it to a parasite?)
- Origin: no one knows beyond a shadow of a doubt where it started. As far as the characters know, the riots began in Other London, then spread to London, followed by Paris, and then spread around through Europe
- Important note: rumor mill is strong - Other London is a reasonable assumption; regardless, London was the epicenter
- Contagious: being exposed to an infected person guarantees infection to a degree (highly likely) although the mechanism for how it is passed is unknown
- Have been cases of mass infection: where it's believed that there has not been a blue veined person present (perhaps asymptomatic/contagious before symptoms)
- Dead bodies tend to not spread it (recent development). People have started doing autopsies on corpses with blue veins, and it hasn’t passed to them
- No idea if its fungal, spores, a disease, magical, mind-altering… could be all, could be none, could be combination. You could transfer it through what Zolf calls a memetic effect - which Zolf then shortens to a “meme” - a thought virus
- No idea how it’s passed: airborne, magic, water, touch, who knows - signs seem to point heavily to airborne?
- How is Shoin involved? What did he do? What else does he know?
- Severed the corpus callosum to stop the infection completely taking him over, might know something?
- Unsure about if the infection is magical or natural (maybe interdimensional, interplanar) [Zolf says it most likely can’t be magical because of the fact that it affects paladins]
- Combination maybe?
- Re: degradation, telling who is infected beyond the blue veins:
- They don’t believe that the infected are dead (Shoin seems to be proof enough of that)
- Capable of speaking and access to the memories of the hosts bodies. If their host could cast magic, they can too
- Note for paladins: it’s complicated. Some still have their magic, but their magic may no longer come from their belief in their god. Not as straightforward for them - not an evil paladin. However, like Zolf, could have their faith shifted (a lot of these are rumors; heard only a bit about paladins having blue veins and still being paladins, same w clerics). Zolf says that they could be taking it from their belief in whatever is behind the infection - powerful entity, god, something
- Important note: ability to regulate/show appropriate emotions is severely impeded
- They are rubbish at lying, according to Carter, and have no sense of embarrassment [which is why Zolf farted in front of Azu and Hamid episode 128 - he had never explained it before now, and after realising this, shrinks in on himself in embarrassment - which Hamid says is a good sign that he isn’t infected]
- They have access to the memories of the host, and can use that, but they are… disconnected from it. They don’t get conversation, as a thing, and are very literal (Cel makes a connection between this and Mr. Ceiling). It’s like they’ve read the memories and understand, but don’t know how to actually properly demonstrate emotions from those memories
- Tesla designed the Simulacrum, but Edison built it. It’s capable of self-producing, and someone had a factory churning them out. Not sure who was running the factory (they think Cult of Hades? ‘Wellington??’). Destination was unknown, receiver was unknown.
- Tesla made a kill switch (found the partial design in the Cairo vault) and cleric of Hephaestus started working on it (they have apparently disappeared).
- Seed is related, but they really don’t know anything about it. (meta note: required a knowledge nature check though, and Cel has never seen anything like it before) -- Zolf thinks its potentially a weird natural plant, maybe, as opposed to being related to the infection, because the infection affects paladins as well?
- Designed by Henri, shared with Shoin. They are unsure if other instances were founded - know Paris was thoroughly destroyed
- He was sort-of a hivemind, but Zolf compares them to cells in a body instead of ants in a hill (which is more like the infection)
- Power source: was it successfully miniaturised/modified, is it present in other places? [Maybe, may be the thing that links some of the walls?]
- Refer to the fact that Mr. Ceiling mentioned setting himself up under Cairo and under London, unsure if that actually happened, what happened if it was successful, or if breaking the one under Paris halted that.
- Unsure about a lot re: energy sources (Liliana’s research, and stuff)
- How were they communicating/controlled, did the party disrupt it? What was Shoin’s goal?
- When they took out Shoin, the weird weather stopped
- The strange weather has been happening for a while - probably just as long as the infection/simulacrum - may have been a precursor
- Cel wonders if there’s a way to take a little bit of a kraken and then use that and combine it with a cyborg kraken [mechasquid]; potentially, you could take a single kraken and make multiple from a single one. [This leads to an entire discussion about Cel inventing the word cyborg and Zolf saying that he can’t be a mechasquid. Cel also explains cloning]
- Were they responsible for the weather [probably yes] -- stories of kraken used to bring bad weather and bad luck
- Seems like a high probability - anytime they’ve gone somewhere with weird weather patterns, there’s been evidence of a weird kraken (see: Dover and the Channel, the tentacle). Seems like there must be a lot, considering how many places have been affected
- Tesla, Henri, Shoin - all pushing the boundaries of magical knowledge and technology and biology in ways they haven’t seen before (Cel is interested in this)
- Mary Shelley exists in this world and has recently published Frankenstein (it was well received but didn’t receive the attention it deserved); she is still alive. (Azu mentions that someone created a weird person and was very mean to them for no reason; Hamid mentions that they know what happens when you resurrect someone with magic, so doing it without magic wouldn’t change it, in his mind.
After the entire red stringing section, they start to discuss again if it’s safe to share this information in case one of them is infected, but Azu says that she needs something to do because she can’t even work out. Zolf, then, remembers that he can work with stone, and resolves to make the place bigger tomorrow. Cel questions where the excess stone goes, and mentions that they’re much happier with the rigidity of engineering theory. Hamid explains that that’s how the planes work - there’s a elemental plane of fire (which the energy for his fireball comes from) and one of stone, etc, summoning it and banishing it from the plane. Carter is incredibly hungover, and asks them to move on so that they can get this done because everyone is being loud.
Zolf and Barnes are still a bit worried about opsec, but Hamid says that they need to be doing something so that they can understand what their next moves should be once the quarantine is over. Zolf agrees, but says that they should maybe wait a few days because they will be more sure no one is infected toward the end of the week instead. Cel offers an alternative for passing the time, basically suggesting that the entire party play a ttrpg [Meta note: Alex immediately nixes this idea, letting them go on with it for a bit but continually warning them as all of the players run with this idea. Ben suggests they play Meritocrats and Meadows].
Time skips to the middle of the night, where Azu hears something get knocked over upstairs. It’s not outwardly worrying, but it is unusual. She notices Carter is on the stairs tonight, having been forced there by Carter, and she attempts to climb over him to listen at the door. However, she stands on Carter’s hand; he starts to cry out, but Azu covers his mouth to stifle him.
She leans down and tells him to be quiet, and Carter asks if they should go have a look at whatever is going on upstairs. Azu declines, saying that she’s trying to listen. She hears multiple people being quiet in the inn, and then hears a set of lockpicks being opened - it’s Carter, and Azu slaps him. He says that they’ll come back down afterwards, but Azu says that they aren’t going to leave, calling him a pile of dung. They go back and forth calling each other that for a while. Eventually, Azu presses Carter against the wall to pin him, covering his hand with his mouth, and tries to listen again. She thinks someone is searching the place. She goes and wakes everyone up as quietly as she can, letting them know what’s happening. Zolf says that they should make loads of noise to wake Wilde up. Barnes asks if there’s a magical way of waking him up, but no one has the ability to. Cel hears the sound of something mechanical happening nearby, and they think it’s a lock. They say that they should open the door, and Carter says that he’s on it; Zolf threatens him telling him not to, reminding them that if people get in, they’ll be stuck in the cell with them. Azu says she doesn’t want that, and they argue about this for a while. They all hear voices coming from above them, speaking Japanese, but cannot make out what they’re saying. It sounds like the innkeeper.
Everyone starts making loads of noise, with Zolf and Cel yelling to ask what’s happening and Azu bashing her armor on the floor. There’s a surprised noise and a loud thump of someone hitting the floor, and then they hear Wilde’s voice, and then the sounds of lots of running feet - the party enters initiative. After Hamid casts fear, he calls to ask if Wilde is okay, along with Azu and Zolf doing the same.
Cel says that Wilde is impolite when he doesn’t respond, but Zolf says that he might be dead. Azu and Hamid want to go and check, but Zolf stands firm, saying that they can’t break protocol because they risk infecting the entirety of Japan. Hamid looks through the keyhole, and can see the entrance to the trapped room, and in the corridor through the entrance, can see a set of small claws poking out. Zolf says that Wilde is his friend, but the choice is between Wilde and the whole country. Hamid notices that the claws are red, and, seemingly confused, asks if it’s Skraak.
Dice rolls & mechanics
- Azu makes a Heal check on Carter: 18
- Cel makes a Knowledge (nature) check on the seed: 14
- Zolf makes a Knowledge (religion) check about clerics/paladins: 7
- Everyone makes a Perception check: Azu gets 24, Hamid gets 17, Zolf gets 13, Cel gets 21
- Azu makes a Stealth check to not wake Carter up: 5
- Azu makes a Reflex save when Carter is awoken: 18
- Azu makes a Perception check to listen at the door: 21
- Azu makes a Perception check to listen at the door: 18
- Everyone makes a Perception check: Azu gets 23, Hamid gets 17, Zolf gets 17, Cel gets 28
- Zolf makes a Constitution check to yell Wilde’s name as loud as he can: roll isn’t said
- Hamid makes a Perception check to look through the keyhole: 22
Initiative: Hamid (28), Zolf (16), Cel (13), Azu (10)
- Hamid: Shouts “Wilde, what’s happening?”
- Zolf: Gets up to the front of the door, saying they can’t leave.
- Cel: Casts shield on themselves.
- Azu: Asks if they should put on their armour, and then starts. Zolf helps.
- Wilde: Gives a cry, and the sound of boots moves toward Wilde.
- Barnes: Waits at the base of the stairs with his sword drawn.
- Carter: Actively trying to fight through and unlock the door, with Barnes blocking him.
- Hamid: Gets up close to the door and casts Fear, pointing it through the door. The DC for the Will save is 18. The way he casts it is he forms a dragon face in front of his face and gives a roar.
- Zolf: Still helping Azu with her armour and keeping an eye on Carter.
- Azu: Still putting her armour on.
- Wilde: Gives another cry - not one of panic.
- All the boots on the floor scatter to the winds.