The player characters are a cell of radical dark elves, freedom fighters in a mile-high city called Spire that has been colonised by wicked high elves, aelfir, from the far north. The player characters are Ministers, members of the Ministry of our Hidden Mistress who worship a forbidden drow goddess of the dark side of the moon. They have sworn to overthrow the city of Spire and reinstate the drow as rulers by any means necessary.
The story takes place in Red Row, a smoky and dangerous hub of activity which brings the worst and the best of the undercity together. The most popular entertainment in Red Row is the Arena. Fights in the arena are fought to first blood or to death, with participants and audience alike betting vast amounts of money on the outcomes. An aelfir has written a play called The Fall of Spire in the traditional drow style of mixing fighting and opera, telling the story of how Spire came to be ruled by the high elves, that is to take place in the Arena.
The player characters have been placed here by their Magister, with two main tasks: protect a promising young occultist called Jessca, who is singing in the opera and who the Ministry have an eye on; and gain some leverage on the captain of the military presence at this opera.
An ex-military man, he was "dishonourably discharged" at some point in the past, and enjoys a drink.
Served under Sergeant Redweather in the military, and always carries an old gun.
An occultist that has replaced their organs with bees and leaks honey.
Monsoon is a sultry-voiced Idol, a magician and artist who bewitches people with his skill and beauty.
The party is being briefed by Magister Delf. She has a pamphlet for the opera, and tells them their main mission objectives of protecting promising young occultist Jessca Malriek, and gaining leverage on Captain Bonchance. They take a look at the cast list for the three-day-long opera.
Monsoon recognises one of the actors as something of a rival to him, a gorgeous and deeply unpleasant high elf with a drug habit. Redweather recognises another actor, Miasmara, as a hugely powerful woman who likely gets her strength from illegal implanted drow technology that lends her magical power. Jessca Malriek is playing one of her own distant ancestors, Aleen Malriek.
Mel notes that the plot is historically inaccurate, biased towards the high elves and portraying the drow as superstitious and incompetent.
The Magister advises them that the play would be very hard to shut down due to the military presence. Sergeant Redweather suspects that a bribe has taken place to aid Captain Bonchance’s rise through the ranks, which they may be able to use as leverage. Mel suggests that those with military expertise sneak into the barracks to get information on the Captain, and they themself will look into the history of the fall of Spire to learn about Jessca’s character. Monsoon volunteers to meet Jessca in person.
A couple of old warehouses and pubs have been reinforced to form the barracks. Redweather and Tirest can see guards around. Tirest suggests he find somewhere high up to provide cover while Redweather does the talking. Tirest goes to The Bawdy Gent, a pub run by a bawdy gent called Jean-Jacques whom Tirest knows, and convinces him to let him in. He goes into a room overlooking the barracks and blocks the door, then takes out his unnecessarily large gun and sets up at the window. The Sergeant tries to walk into the barracks and is stopped by a guard because he isn’t in uniform. The Sergeant claims he is in the play and therefore wearing armour. The guard is convinced and lets him in, but a second guard notices and is a little suspicious. He enters the kitchen; there is one very stressed-looking chef. Redweather offers to help and pretends to be a very good chef. The chef gives him supplies and instructions and leaves.
Mel made it back to their semi-infinite library through the Vermission. They meet Page and give him the pamphlet to eat. Their goal is to know the aelfir’s understanding of the fall of Spire. Page reminds them that there is still a slight infestation of ghosts, mostly owl-ghosts, in the east wing. They ask Page to assist them in their research; there is then a research montage. Referencing the history of Jessca’s ancestor, a blind woman named Aleen, they find out that she foresaw her death at the hands of the aelfir and went to meet them, killing about 12 with a bow and arrow before she was killed. This would occur about the end of Act Two in the opera.
Monsoon is in Laufernoire, where Jessca is. It translates to the black hell, and is pretty posh for Red Row. The aelfir artists who have been brought down for the opera have been put up here. Monsoon can easily charm his way in. There are two stages; one is playing dance music using industrial equipment, and a play trying to compete with the industrial music and failing. Jessca is dancing. Monsoon goes to the bathroom and casts a glamour on himself to make his appearance 'anything Jessca wants him to be'; a bit more rough and grimy, with a scar on one eye and a bit of ear missing. He then goes to the dance-floor and works his way into the group she’s dancing with. He notices something striking about her, he is a little taken. She looks a bit pale, like she’s gone a bit overboard with the drugs. They dance together but some artist friends take her away; he gives her a meaningful look to tell her that he will find her later.
Back to the Sergeant. He’s not having a great time cooking, having never really cooked before in the army or as a knight. The Captain walks past, recognises him and announces to the room that the Sergeant was “dishonourably discharged” 3 years ago and snidely remarks that if he needed food, he should have joined the beggars outside the gates rather than stealing from the kitchens. Everyone else is pointing and laughing, with Tirest awkwardly watching from above, unsure of what to do. Redweather leaves sadly.
Back to Monsoon. He finds Jessca's room in lodgings simpler than she probably is used to. He grabs a bottle of wine from outside a different room and knocks but there is no response. He opens the room; it is dark and in the corner there is a door to a passageway, which isn't uncommon in this place. From inside he can hear high-heels walking towards the room. Jessca walks in with heavy bags under her eyes and ectoplasm slowly leaking out of her face and drifting to the ceiling. She sees him and yells in surprise before fixing her expression back to a smile and asks how he got in. He apologises and invites her to enjoy a drink together. She seems a bit unimpressed. A moth flies out of her ear and she quickly grabs it. Monsoon starts to mention that he didn’t realise she was the actor Jessca Malriek, but she quickly gets frustrated and begins to explain that many people who take an interest in her are only after her family name, and she had thought that by coming down to this area she could find someone who could like her for her personality. Monsoon tells her that he wants to get to know her true personality. They continue to talk long into the night. They bond (it is left ambiguous whether they sleep together), with both purposefully avoiding talking about what happened in the passage. He learns that she is training to be a magician and possibly an artist, and has been heavily involved in making the costumes for the play.
Tirest stays in the bar a while, trying to learn the guard patterns. He notices the Captain sneaking out of the barracks while the guards look the other way and into the bar. He gives the barkeep some coins, gives him a greasy wink and walks up into the inn. Tirest can see that within the room the Captain enters, Miasmara is waiting on the bed.
The party regroups for a meeting. Redweather sits in the corner sharpening his sword and glares at anyone who tries to ask him what he learnt. Tirest points out that they know the time and place where Jessca will be in danger, so they can act on that, and they have some possible leverage on the Captain that they can exploit further. He proposes someone talks to Bonchance and someone talks to Miasmara. Monsoon turns up late, and suggests that he will be able to stick close to Jessca to protect her in the following days, and Mel comments that one way or another, Jessca will be dealt with by the end of the second day. Tirest proposes that as a last resort he could take position in the audience and snipe anyone putting Jessca in danger. Monsoon suggests that Tirest take out the actor who would be fighting Jessca, and then Monsoon could take their place, so there would be no danger to her life, and he himself would not be in real danger given that the fight is to first blood. Mel could provide a possible emergency exit. Redweather will go to talk to the Captain to establish some leverage.
Mel decides that their bee and portal powers would be helpful accompanying Redweather to see the captain, as he seems a bit more focused on vengeance than the mission. Mel has hidden in the cupboard and plans to release the bees at the appropriate moment. Looking through the keyhole, they see Miasmara enter and when she walks they can hear a strange scraping noise. She sits on the edge of the bed and Mel notices she has been in a fight. Miasmara sees Mel’s sticky footprints and throws open the cupboard door to find Mel. Miasmara lunges for them. Bees crawl out of their mouth, ears and from beneath their clothing. Miasmara yells and is swarmed in the bees. Redweather hears someone yell and runs in. Miasmara screams at him and he bashes her head into the wall, denting it and surprising the people in the next room. Miasmara tries to push him out of the room and get away from the bees. As Redweather is trying to pin her arms behind her, she elbows him surprisingly hard and dents his breastplate. She barely seems affected by him and yells for help. The captain yells her name from downstairs and starts coming up. Miasmara, weakened by the bees, is finally overcome and restrained by the Sergeant. The bees crawl back into Mel. Mel hides behind the door. Redweather places Miasmara on the bed and then joins them. The captain charges in and towards Miasmara, asking if she is alright. Mel closes the door and points their crossbow at the base of his head. He asks Redweather who they are and why they hurt Miasmara. Mel tells him it wasn’t purposeful; it’s just what happens to those who collaborate with the aelfir. The captain protests that he’s just using his talents to please the rulers and get ahead. He asks whether Mel will shoot him; Mel says that depends. If he is receptive to their requests the next time they or the people they represent come to him, people he cares about won’t need to get hurt. The Captain agrees to help them as long as they don’t hurt Miasmara, and reminds them that if they displease him he has quite a lot of sway and could make things very difficult for them, given that he knows they need him alive for leverage. Redweather raises his gun and reminds him of his current position. Having got his compliance, Mel and Redweather then step backwards into the cupboard, where Mel has created a portal into screeching train hell. Redweather’s anger allows him to enter with no negative effects.
Tirest is trying to find a vantage point from which he can snipe his target, who is in the barracks. The target, Bellerophon is a young, not very posh aelfir, sitting on a balcony and relaxing with some other understudies and minor actors. Tirest aims for the heart but misses, hitting him in the shoulder. The companions all panic, raising the alarm and trying to put silk on the wound to stop the bleeding. Bellerophon falls behind the balcony and Tirest angrily realises he can't get a second shot off. Tirest assumes that he has botched the mission and so heads to the Arena to finish the job from there.
Monsoon is meanwhile hanging out with Jessca in the dressing-room. Although he is enjoying himself, his thoughts keep drifting back to the moth and the ectoplasm that had come out of her face. The thought itches at the back of his head, and tastes like despair. Suddenly they hear a shot and the panic following. They run onto the balcony and see Bellerophon. Monsoon wonders who will play the role of Lumiere and Bellerophon stands up and proclaims that he will play Lumiere before collapsing. He is in no state to perform. He whispers to Monsoon that he needs to be seen to do this to earn his father’s approval and therefore Monsoon must take his place, pretending to be him. Monsoon agrees. The pair enter Bellerophon’s quarters. Monsoon averts his eyes as Bellerophon takes off his true mask and replaces it with his sleep mask. He gives Monsoon his true mask and swears him to secrecy. Monsoon assures him that no word will get out and nothing will go wrong. Monsoon runs down with the mask to put on Lumiere’s costume. Jessca is being led to the stage and Monsoon gives her another meaningful look. He still can't shake that strange feeling.
Tirest is in the upper tiers of the stands. Mel and Redweather are also watching the play. Jessca performs her piece, then draws her sword. The director steps forward and announces that the fight will be fought to the death. Jessca is terrified, looking desperately to the guards at the exits. Monsoon draws his sword and winks at her. The crowd are baying for blood.
Mel and Redweather realise that the actor is Monsoon.
Monsoon lunges and cuts her in the arm. She continues to panic.
Tirest notices that there is at least one other sniper in the audience and immediately aims at them. He decides they are the higher priority and takes a shot. The shot goes wide and they return fire, hitting the chimney behind him. Tirest tries to make his way around the arena to get closer to this sniper. Tirest manages to relocate somewhere that has cover and reloads his gun. The crowd is beginning to notice.
Monsoon cuts the back of her hand to force Jessca to drop her weapon and kicks her in the back of the knees. She cries out and falls onto her hands and knees. The director looks very flustered about the fight turning against Jessca’s favour and starts talking to a priest, who seems to start casting something.
Monsoon stands over Jessca, victorious, and then is shot in the chest. The bullet goes straight through and he staggers to his knees. His mask slips and Jessca is horrified to see his true identity. Attendants are rushing onstage to try and fix the situation, and the director looks terrified.
Mel sees this and drops Jessca and Monsoon into train hell. The floor opens up beneath them and they fall through endless tunnels, holding each other's hands until they land in the back of the last train.
Panic in the Arena. The director is angrily yelling about heresy and being escorted offstage. The audience has no idea what is happening. The Arena is being evacuated. In the chaos, Mel grabs Redweather and finds a door into the Vermission.
Monsoon wakes on the Vermission. His chest is painful to the point of numbness. Jessca is leaning over him. An emaciated, blind train hand stares at them, proclaiming that the train has provided them with two new converts. Jessca turns to him and places a hand on his head, causing all of his teeth to fall out, and pushes him off Monsoon. Some more moths flutter out of her mouth. She turns to Monsoon and tells him that she is secretly part of a church that taught her about the beauty that can be found in death and decay. They had planted explosives under the Arena and were planning to blow it all up, but through meeting him she realised that she wanted to live, together with him. She starts trying to think of ways to get the both of them off the train. He stops her, telling her that he’s not going to get off the train in time and makes her promise to seek out his associates and join the Ministry. She agrees, and he dies.
Mel and Redweather have found their way into the Vermission. Mel sends their bees to seek out Monsoon and Jessca. Some of their bees get lost in the long tunnels and don’t make it back, and Mel starts to feel drained. Redweather picks them up and carries them the rest of the way. The bees communicate through dance that Jessca and Monsoon are on the last train, which is moving this way. Redweather surveys the walls of the tunnel for somewhere they could jump onto the train from. He finds a bridge. He jumps into an open carriage at the back. Jessca stares at him, next to a corpse. Ectoplasm is now streaming down her face, she can’t control it really. Moths crawling in and out of her mouth and clothes. Redweather checks the corpse and realises it is Monsoon. He introduces himself to Jessca and invites her to come with him. They jump off the train together onto an abandoned station where Mel is waiting, leaving Monsoon’s body behind. Jessca tells them about the explosives under the Arena, the cult and how she no longer wants to be a part of it. Mel is sad to hear of Monsoon’s death and agrees that he often brings more meaning into people’s lives. Mel opens a door out of train hell for all of them.
The team meet up with their Magister. They are now all aware that the Cult of the Hungry Deep plans to blow up the arena at the climax of the show tomorrow, and that Monsoon is dead. Tirest points out that they need to stop the explosion, as it would kill many drow as well as aelfir, but removing all of the explosives would be hard. Mel can’t remove them all because the explosion could be amplified or affect any area in Spire if it entered the Vermission.
Mel proposes that they tell the Captain about the explosives and allow him to uncover the plot and become a hero in the public eye. Meanwhile, the rest of them can take a few barrels and place them somewhere to blow up the aelfir.
They manage to sneak into the tunnels under the Arena, despite the increased military presence following last night’s events. Jessca is disguised with some bandages around her face. Around the support beams they find six barrels of explosives. They take one, putting it in a cart and covering it with props to disguise it.
Mel and Redweather find Captain Bonchance in the street. He’s outside a bar, watching the troops. They tell him about the bombs under the Arena, and he says he will send people to check it out, although he doesn’t entirely trust the accuracy of their information. They sidle off.
They all meet up again near the aelfir district. Standing outside a fancy hotel, they realise they don’t know how they will get the explosives inside. They briefly mourn the loss of Monsoon, the only charismatic party member. Redweather realises he knows the bartender, Jacqueline. She invites them in and they claim they have a special delivery of mead for the celebrations that night. They take it downstairs. Jacqueline tries to taste it, and Mel hurriedly says that it is laced with aelfir drugs, but that only makes her keener. Tirest panics and hits her. She is knocked out. Redweather is understandably distressed. Tirest assures him that he can heal her. Mel sets the timer on the bomb for after the play when the aelfir will have returned to the hotel. They carry Jacqueline to a room in the Bawdy Gent, pretending she had too much to drink. Tirest heals her. She awakens, and they all pretend that she was knocked out by the ‘booze’. They all hear a dull thump from far away and do a bad job of pretending they don’t know what it was. The Eclipse is burning. Firefighters are ineffectively trying to put it out. Jackie is in shock, ignoring them and walking off. Redweather tries to follow but she pushes him away.
In the tunnels beneath the city, the last train rattles on its tracks, and tied to the front is a beautiful new sacrifice. Monsoon’s eyes snap open, blind white.
Dice rolls and Mechanics
Tirest makes a Compel check with the Low Society domain to get into the Bawdy Gent: 8.
Redweather makes a Compel check with the Order domain to convince the guard: 6. He succeeds but takes stress.
Mel makes an Investigate check with the Academia domain to research the play's history: 9.
Monsoon makes a Compel check with the High Society domain to get into Jessca's group: 8.
Redweather makes a Fix check with the Order domain to cook: 6. He takes the Humiliated fallout.
Monsoon makes a Compel check to seduce Jessca: 5.
Mel makes a Compel check with the Occult domain to release the bees: 9.
Mel makes a Sneak check to hide behind the door: 6. They succeed but take mind stress.
Mel makes a Compel check to get the Captain's compliance: 8.
Redweather makes a Resist check to resist the ghosts in train hell: 9.
Tirest makes a Fight check to shoot Belarifon: 10. He deals 3 stress.
Monsoon makes a Resist check with the Occult domain after interacting with Jessca: 8.
Monsoon makes a Compel check with the Occult domain to cut Jessca: 9. He deals 4 stress.
Tirest makes a Fight check to get closer to the other sniper: 10.
Monsoon makes a Compel check with the Occult domain to bring Jessca down: 10. He deals 3 stress.
Monsoon makes a Resist check against being shot: 1. He takes 9 blood stress and takes the Dying fallout.
Mel makes a check with the Occult domain to drop Jessca and Monsoon into train hell: 8.
Monsoon makes a Compel check with Mastery to convince Jessca to seek out his companions: 7.
Mel makes a Spellcasting check to send out their bees: 6. They succeed but take blood stress.
Redweather makes a Resist check to resist the ghosts in train hell: 7. He takes stress.
Redweather makes a Resist check to jump off the train: 7. He succeeds and takes stress.
Mel makes a Sneak check to get into the Arena: 6. They succeed but take stress.
Tirest makes a Fight check with the Low Society domain to hit Jacqueline: 9. He deals 4 stress.
Mel makes a Fix check with the Technology domain, with Tirest assisting, to set the timer on the bomb: 10
Tirest heals everyone for 3 blood stress.
The bees surround Miasmara and deal her some (d3) stress.
The bees deal Redweather 2 stress.
Redweather makes a Fight check with the Low Society domain to bash Miasmara's head into the wall: 10. He deals her 2 stress.
Redweather makes a Fight check with the Low Society domain to pin Miasmara's arms behind her back: 7. He deals her 1 stress.
The captain yells her name from downstairs and starts coming up.
The bees deal Redweather 3 stress and deal Miasmara some (d3) stress. Miasmara falls unconscious.
- Mel: At this point, I am beyond concepts of gender
--* Helen: Do the bees count as a crowd?
- Lydia: Yeah, I was gonna say-
- [Lydia and Helen make buzzing noises]
- Grant: No the bees do not count as a crowd. If it can’t cheer it’s not a crowd.
- Alex: I'll tell you what, this face - when it isn’t me, I do understand why everyone bullies me, I do get it now.
- Ben: We bully you? We’ve had a 100 episodes of you bullying us!
- Alex: I don’t bully you, I bully your characters, it’s called drama darling.
- Ben: As Helen just said, the bleed is real.
- Mel: Mmmm . . . what a sticky situation we’ve found you in
- [Helen laughs]
- Alex: It’s okay, it’s in character so it’s okay you see.
- Redweather: Boot’s on the other foot now.
- Mel: How sweet.
- [Alex wheezes]
- Helen: You’re like a batman villain!
- Jessca: Gods have to die. Elves have to die, drow have to die, humans have to die- everything is going to die. Do you understand? You, sweetness, are going to die. And through that you can attain such purity. Such beauty. Perfect stillness. But- you’ve shown me there’s so much more than just death and decay. I don’t want- I don’t want to do it anymore.
- Monsoon (his last words): You said there’s more to live for, there’s a cause to live for. Bring down the aelfir. Free the Spire. Help them. Free the Spire. Do that for me.
- Jessca: He showed me the meaning of love and now he’s dead.
- Tirest: Well I suppose that’s a win then, as a total.
- Jessca: Yeah, I guess it was efficient.
- Mel: Your career will light up in the way that the Arena didn’t.
- Lydia: Mel thinks she’s so smooth, but she’s just creepy as.