Join Alex, Helen, Bryn, Lydia and Ben as they begin their voyage north! This week Hamid gets to know the crew, Cel wants juicy backstories, Zolf considers a self-care mutiny, and Azu does the weather.
Although the airship is making fabulous speed, the journey is going to take at least a couple of weeks. They’re going across lands that are dangerous or unexplored, cutting through the Northern Wastes and north of the UK. All of the player characters have things they’d like to accomplish during that time.
Zolf, because he now has a clear goal, is a lot more content and open towards others. He’s keeping an eye on Earhart, trying to ease her out of her self-destructive behaviour, or else being ready to mutiny if she too far. He’ll also be the ship’s cook, in addition to its first mate.
Azu is also keeping an eye on Earhart; she thought she’d made progress on helping Earhart, and didn’t expect her to go off the rails. She isn’t aware of the mutiny (because Zolf forgot to tell her) but wouldn’t be against it. She also wants to get to know everyone; she wants to hang out with Hamid and Cel, and will hang out with Zolf while watching Earhart. She wants to get to know Barnes (but not Carter), Friedrich, Kiko, and Siggif (depending on how taciturn the latter continues to be.)
Cel is unsubtly concerned about Earhart; they believe that her attitude will get them killed quickly. They also want to get to know everybody, and learn more about their pasts. They’ll also improve their Draconic and be friendly with the kobolds. [Note: Lydia states that while she didn’t want Sasha to be romantically involved with anyone, she has no such barrier for Cel.]
Hamid will mostly avoid Earhart, as he doesn’t want to attempt to appease another racist. However, he watches how she treats the kobolds, and if she treats them with disrespect or cruelty, step in; he’s on a hair-trigger for people mistreating them, and may go too far. Aside from that, he wants to socialise with people in a low-stress environment. He’s not interested in getting to know Barnes and Carter, given previous conversations with them, but he wants to re-bond with Zolf after their earlier tension and hear what happened to him during the eighteen months; get to know Azu better, since they care deeply about each other but don’t know much about the other’s pasts; make better friends with Cel, with whom he’s loved working (and blowing stuff up). He also wants to get to know the crew, especially because the risk of mutiny; get to know the kobolds as individuals, understand their individual personalities, and encourage their self-confidence; and learn what happened to Wilde during the eighteen months.
On the first couple of days, there is no chance for social interaction because Earhart is drilling everyone onboard into a crew. Everyone works hard, and falls asleep as soon as they hit their hammocks. Earhart is a good teacher, despite everything. [Note: at the end of these days, everyone gets a free skill rank in Profession: airship crew.]
Each member of the party finds their specialty onboard (besides Zolf, who’s already cook and first make.) Hamid takes to navigation because of his year of mathematics at Cambridge and instinct for flying. Earhart doesn’t like this, initially grilling Hamid and second-guessing him, but eventually backing off when he proves himself. Hamid isn’t combative with her about navigation, only about the kobolds (who treat Skraak as first mate.) Cel is chief engineer. Azu is a lookout, watching for weather, based on her history looking over the farm.
At the end of the three days, during late afternoon, Earhart summons everyone on deck for a mission briefing. She warns everyone not to head into the cargo bay, as some people have been poking around but there are things that may explode. She talks about the danger of the lands over which they’re traveling; they’re likely to encounter freak weather systems, unusual creatures, and extremely high levels of magical distortion, the latter of which will affect the ship’s systems. There’s a chance that they’ll need to land to do repairs. She’s flown on the outskirts of this region before. Their spare elemental may help them this time, but even so, the journey is unlikely to be straightforward.
Cel asks Earhart what dangers they might expect from her. Earhart says their primary objective is to reach Svalbard, and the secondary objective is to kill Guivres. They will not sacrifice their primary objective for their secondary objective, but if they can pursue the secondary objective without sacrificing the primary objective, they will do so. She directs any further concerns about this to Zolf, as first mate. Cel should work with Zolf to get their systems as resilient to magic interference as possible. Azu should look out for unusual weather systems, and let Earhart know immediately about any fog. Hamid should balance efficient navigation with safe navigation, and trust Earhart’s judgement for any “unusual wiggles.” Earhart also lays out specific orders for other crew members, says their training will be reduced, and permits them to take leisure time at designated times. She then returns to her captain’s room, which is basically a hammock and a desk, and asks for Zolf to come to her cabin in 5 minutes.
After Earhart gives a speech, there’s a tendency for everyone to make eye contact and sigh before going back to their work. The party discusses the speech: Azu says that it wasn’t reassuring, but Zolf says it’s an improvement and Hamid says it could have been worse. Cel re-expresses their concerns about Earhart getting them all killed, particularly because of her behaviour during the ship’s launch; they don’t trust Earhart not to take them on “unusual wiggles” into Guivres. Azu and Zolf agree that Earhart’s erratic actions at the launch were probably a one-off. Zolf says that they need to listen to Earhart as the voice of authority, and Earhart’s speech was typical for a captain, and not particularly authoritarian. Cel says they’ve spent time on ships and worked in groups, so they understand — they just don’t trust Earhart. Zolf asks if Cel trusts him. Cel hesitates; they say that although Zolf’s been occasionally overly-aggressive and rude, he’s generally fair and sensible, so they trust him. Zolf says that they can trust him to take care of Earhart, though with everyone’s help. Earhart’s their only option, but he won’t follow her to their deaths.
Hamid says that he thinks being in the air is mellowing out Earhart. Although she’s still clearly obsessed with killing Guivres and he shares Cel’s concerns, he trusts that she’s telling the truth, and the party has placed themselves in positions of oversight to watch her, and can act against her if she endangers their lives.
Zolf heads into Earhart’s cabin. She instructs him to lock the door. The cabin is small, though enough space for them both to stand without getting in the other’s way. Earhart says she trusts Zolf: he’s proven himself, and has improved greatly since his last journey on her airship. She’s afraid they’ll be a mutiny onboard, and needs him to keep it down.
Zolf asks whom Earhart suspects. Earhart says she only trusts Zolf and Kiko; Kiko will follow orders to the end, given their shared history. However, she doesn’t trust Cel, whom she thinks will “push for a pragmatic solution.” Cel could probably get Barnes onside, and possibly Carter. She thinks Wilde “wouldn’t miss an opportunity to be an ass.”
Zolf, speaking freely, says Earhart hasn’t done much to earn people’s trust, and Earhart replies that she doesn’t need to earn trust as a captain. Zolf says that that doesn’t sound like the Earhart he used to know. That comment hits her hard — she goes over to her desk drawer for a drink, and finding nothing, slams it shut angrily. Zolf says that he understands that she’s hurting, but that if she’s sad about needlessly endangering people’s lives, she shouldn’t do it again. Earhart replies that unlike her last run with her old crew, this isn’t needless. Zolf says that her “need” is between her and Guivres, and doesn’t involve them; they’re trying to save the world. As captain, she has a responsibility to her crew, and needs to shape up; she can’t lose their trust. Zolf asks Earhart if she’d mutiny in their situation, if she didn’t trust her captain and they tried to get her killed. Earhart says she’s never been a crew member, and Zolf suggests she try it sometime.
Earhart asks what Zolf proposes, and Zolf says she should work on her interpersonal skills while he holds the crew together. Earhart looks Zolf in the eye, spits in her hand, and says she’ll be a “good little captain” so long as, “when stuff hits the engines,” he knows whose side he’s on. Zolf says spitting in his hand and shaking hers, promises he’ll know whose side he’s on. He can’t decide whether Earhart believes him or not and leaves nervously.
That evening, people are relaxing on the deck while Earhart’s in her cabin. Although it’s cold, it’s not full of weapons or provisions, so people have started building a pseudo-bar/bivouac towards the bow. The night crew is Kiko and Skraak, and everyone else has their first bit of leisure time in several days. Siggif starts playing an accordion, but not singing. Friedrich passes out some watered-down grog. Azu sets up a dartboard and invites everyone for a game. Hamid, Friedrich, and Barnes join her, while Cel bows out and Zolf sits beside them quietly. Wilde also politely declines; he’s quietly observing while writing in his notebook.
Azu gives Friedrich the first dart, which is tiny compared to the size of his hands. His arms, which are so large that his hands brush along the ground as he walks, are covered in now-warped tattoos. He throws the darts poorly, so Azu divides everyone into two teams. Hamid has the opposite problem to Friedrich: the darts are too big for him, so while he’s often accurate, he can’t use enough force.
Hamid asks Friedrich where he’s from, and Friedrich replies Germany, though he’s been traveling longer and further than most. Friedrich returns the question, and Hamid says he’s lived in Cairo and England, and then traveled all over the place before Japan. Friedrich asks whether Hamid’s ever done a journey like this before, and Hamid says no; he’s flown once with Earhart before, but never anything quite like this — no one has. Friedrich pats Hamid on the shoulder, tells him not to lose his optimism, and sits for someone else to take their turn.
Barnes goes next; he’s very good, and is probably holding back a bit to generate goodwill. Azu asks him about what being a commander was like, and Barnes says it was really nice being certain about everything all the time, always knowing that what he’s doing is right. He compares it to faith, although he says he’s not religious. He doesn’t like the current suspicious atmosphere, but jokes that it smells better on an airship than a water ship. Azu asks how Barnes ended up in his current position. Barnes says he stayed with the Meritocratic Navy longer than he should have. The orders changed from normal to not tactical to bad; Earhart seems stable in comparison to the superiors he had towards the end. Barnes was ordered to fire on civilians, so he killed his commanding officer. Hamid says he’s sorry Barnes had to go through that, and Barnes says it was nice to be certain about something again. Now, he just has to take his own orders.
Cel and Zolf share a drink. Cel asks Zolf if they should call him “First Mate Smith” and Zolf says “Zolf” is fine. He informs Cel of Earhart’s suspicions of them mutinying, but says he might have gotten through to her. Cel clarifies that they don’t mind Earhart’s impoliteness, but rather the “burning fire of self-destruction,” which they recognize; they know that “rage turned inwards can be almost infinite,” can be used to excuse things, “can turn people into something monstrous,” and can hurt those nearby. Cel isn’t worried about how Earhart’s actions might affect them — they’ve heard stories about the Russian wastes, but they’ve crossed America on their own, and can get out of dangerous situations — but are worried about the group. Zolf says he doesn’t know exactly what Cel’s talking about, but he talked to Earhart about something similar, and they’ll have to see how it goes.
Zolf says that Cel’s earlier assessment of him, as occasionally aggressive and rude, was accurate, and apologizes. Cel says that people say difficult things under stress and acknowledge that they can be “too light-hearted,” which can sometimes be difficult. They hope they can move forward together, because they respect him, and want to know him better; Zolf agrees.
Dice rolls & mechanics
Zolf Bluff check to talk about the mutiny: 17
Zolf Bluff check to promise to Earhart: 9
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