Adventures in Arborology

   The last World Tree campaign ran for about two years. Most of the group had never heard of the game, but everyone was up for a few sessions of almost anything I recommended. World Tree is a very good game, hence that brief experiment ran for longer than most of them expected. It only really closed down because one of the major players was moving away and another would be unavailable for quite awhile – and because a hundred sessions worth of experience, along with two in-game decades worth of the party training each other in their best skills, was stretching the limits of the game system – so we closed it out with a bang. One of these days, we’ll start a new campaign. Until then, here’s a quick summary of how things went. If any of the players remember a correction, I’ll put it in. I’ve got my notes, but the campaign was a while back.


The Main Characters:

   “Harry Otter”: A constantly self-narrating Orren “Thief “who generally referred to himself in the third person, as in “The stealthy orren crept forward, lurking behind the curtains to conceal his presence!”. He tended to defend his activities on the grounds that anyone who let him take their stuff while he was narrating his attempt to do so to them obviously was willing to let him have it. He was usually regarded as street theater.

   Zerech Cassinarius Sarsarah Kai: A Rassimel “specialist in handling problem individuals”/occasional assassin. Emirion generally preferred to deal with “problem individuals” (anyone he was paid enough to deal with) by persuading them (in whatever fashion was required) to go somewhere else, but was not averse to combat if problems arose.

   Benthor Orrkimara, a.k.a “Benthor Worldsplitter”, a Gormoror berserker. Unfortunately, Benthor was completely psychotic. All you needed to do was point him at a target – a monster, a village, a building, a detachment of troops, or a section of the landscape, say “Kill!” and he would either destroy it or die in the process. The only problem was the occasional accidental misfires… He eventually wound up on indefinite “time out” when he attempted this tactic on Iraz Halix after dying on a quest to reach her.

   Marentari Pellhamer, a Khytosis Spellbinder and gang leader, was surprisingly “sophisticated” for a Khytosis (having actually managed a university education), but – thanks to a bit of legal trouble – was more than happy to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

   “Sparky” – a young Zi Ri specializing in spontaneous magic – simply attached himself to the group, apparently on the grounds that they were going adventuring and he wanted to have some adventures. On the theory that – however young he seemed – a Zi Ri spellcaster would probably be an asset, the group took him along.

   Damethallis Tolrickstannel: a Rassimel Healer in search of a better location, who accompanied the group for a time (the player soon switched to a Zi R smith resident in Shivolin, with a name I cannot either find in my notes or recall: If I do, he’ll get his own entry since he was a very high-powered durador mage).

   Ardenharius Sen Thrachten Philosos: A Rassimel sorcerer-spellbinder, obsessed with magical research and development. Arden tended to immediately come up with ten theories in response to any question – and then to gladly explain, and attempt to test, all of them, regardless of how poor an idea an objective observer would feel that this was. (Arden did not join the group until after their arrival in Shivolin).

   Orkan Varell, a.k.a “Quiggles”: a Kythosis Brewer, Winemaker, and Master Smith. Quiggles was happily violent, brutal, cheery, and obliging, and was responsible for numerous sidequests, since he could never refuse a plea for help, a chance to crash a party or other celebration, or a good fight.

   Other characters included Azriel, a Zi Ri knight-mage who liked melee combat (a very odd choice indeed), the aforementioned Zi Ri Smith (who was a major character, but who’s name I cannot place), Ivarell (a young Cani with a truly remarkable sense of smell), and several more who were briefly played.


Major Campaign Events:

   Having rendered themselves unwelcome in the city of Rilmond via variety of escapades – and Zerech having taken a sizable bribe to get them to go elsewhere – the group set off for the Duchy of Shivolin, where a power struggle between the local noble houses promised activities galore for free agents.

   While Shivolin was in a rough area of the bark, and quite near the Verticals, the group could readily have handled more external trouble than they found along the way. They had more than enough internal trouble to deal with anyway.

   In Shivolin the group got entangled with street chaos, festivals, low-status Cani burglars, disputes over upgrades to the city walls, organizing an improved farmers market, breaking up a kidnaping ring, smuggling high-end magical weapons from Ketheria (including the VenomStorm Ring), street children with mentador magic, and both smith guild and noble politics. They interfered in the local slave trade, fought other groups of mercenaries, worked as skyship guards, bodyguards, and as a strike team, competed in cookery, blew up the Smoking Cinder Inn (twice – not that this was unusual), and salvaged a fallen skyship after dealing with the monsters that were living in it.

   They eventually discovered the presence of a hive-minded mentador swarm-creature which hid its separate components in people’s minds and fed on new and unusual experiences. Chasing it out of Shivolin proved extremely difficult – and involved a near-civil war between the Noble Houses. While it hadn’t exactly been “hostile”, its expulsion led to a considerable reduction in the level of sheer random chaos in Shivolin, allowing the group to start a number of business ventures – such as a multiple-city newspaper (and the ensuing dispute with the criers, printers, and messengers guilds), wine-making, mail services, educational and medical programs for the local street-children, and numerous missions into the Verticals and to other cities nearby.

   They helped arrange a peace treaty and had quite a discussion about suppressing the introduction of a system of off-tree magic – but eventually concluded that it would weaken the magical superiority of the Primes, and that, out of sheer species loyalty, they could not allow. It took a great deal of work to seal off the dimensional weak point which was allowing the leakage of such off-tree knowledge into the realm, but they managed it eventually.

   Eventually, on one mission into the Verticals, they discovered that the Cyarr were quietly moving against the Sleeth and were intent on wiping out a village of Gormoror who were too near their current theater of operations. After the defense of the village, Arden attempted a social-engineering solution to the vulnerabilities of the Sleeth (a project that burdened the group with several Sleeth Kittens) – and the rest of the group concluded that all of them liked the individual Cyarr they’d met at least as well as they liked anyone else. They decided to negotiate and arranged that, in exchange for the Cyarr putting a hold on their attacks on the Sleeth and Gormoror for a time, they would attempt to reach a god and ask them what it would actually take for the Cyarr to achieve Prime status.

   That first involved a lot of talking with priests, then an attempt to reach Shax Shay Shazthrough a mighty illusory quest (with a subjective duration of several years), and then an attempt to attract the notice of one or more gods by pumping the a gargantuan cley overcharge into their best spellcaster and then dumping it all into hammer-casting a minor line-of-sight “laser” spell (with numerous special precautions against botches) in an attempt to ignite the sun a few minutes early. Unfortunately, they pumped so many hundreds of cley into the attempt that they actually managed to damage the sun – spewing an arc of burning sun-fuel that splattered across the top of the Tree and caused enormous damage before it settled down to cascading down the sky.

   This did get most of the gods to notice them, and at least one to intervene: Reluu sent down a fire elemental with some information how they could go about developing spells to work on sun-glass, orders to help them with fire-protection spells until they got the sun fixed, and orders for them to FIX THE SUN. NOW.

   That was quite a project – but they did manage to get a few more answers from the elemental while they were working; if the Cyarr were to achieve prime status, a delegation of primes would have to obtain approval for their petition from each god.

   The group decided to attempt the quest. After all, what made prime civilization great was the diversity of the prime races. Adding another would surely make it even greater… Of course, while getting organized for their quest, and gathering up their more reliable allies, and a couple of Cyarr, it was (dubiously) necessary to participate in the ice-dancing competition, a Khytosis wedding, enter a variety of competitions, teach a youngster to suppress his mentador talents, and judge competing fruit drinks (trust me: all of those seemed like perfectly sane decisions at the time). Besides: they needed to visit all the gods anyway. It seemed like it might be wise to apologize in person – and they also needed to be far, far, away from the rest of prime civilization. The rewards which were being put out for the heads of whoever’d damaged the sun were appalling.

   Fortunately, the priests could give them a fairly good idea of where to find most of the gods. Unfortunately, sheer travel time devoured years – despite their ongoing research effort into methods of even faster travel. Most of the gods tasked them with various errands – locating 23 plant and 11 animal species which had been created to be useful but were, as yet, undiscovered, developing and spreading spells to accomplish various tasks, fixing various social problems, distributing Birkozon’s books, establishing new orders, chasing down and eliminating off-tree menaces, visiting the past to chronicle it without disturbing it, cleaning out Iraz Varuun’s tower and the various flawed experiments therein, the development of a new system of combat maneuvers relying on magical manipulations rather than physical ones, and many more. Perhaps the easiest was the request of “Variohharsh the Standing Wave” – a water elemental who was managing things as best he could for Merklundum Harnipsundum the Dog who Killed a Fish while he slept – and wanted some public acknowledgment of that fact and a few shrines and statues. Most of the gods accepted the apologies. A number even took favorable notice (resulting in appropriate magical knacks) of the sheer gall of various characters – and most were willing to approve at one price or another. There were a few that looked like they might be difficult though…

   Along the way they fell off the tree (it took a LONG time to fall hundreds of millions of miles), adventured in other realms, encountered the civilization of anti-primes which was growing halfway down the trunk, battled their way through the realm of storms, experimented with higher-order aspects of the other nouns (mostly on Harry Otter, since he was both willing to try anything and constantly narrated the results) – after all, if there was world-tree wood and sun-material-durador, why shouldn’t there be similar higher orders of the other materials? – dealt with the Flokin’s Paw – an old military ship carrying doomsday devices left over from the Holocaust Wars – learned many magical secrets, researched yet more spells, trained each other in their various skills, and collected a number of Graces and Glories.

   During a battle against an extra-dimensional lich-mage, who’d been draining the life-force and magic from entire worlds to fuel his quest for godhood, Harry Otter managed to reach the mighty device he was using as a power accumulator – and reached out with his unsurpassed thieving skills (he was, by now, capable of stealing abstract qualities, thoughts from your head, and items that were many feet away in safes behind locked doors in sealed rooms) and stole that power.

   It combined with the enhancements he’d been given, with the elements of his body, mind, and spirit which had all been upgraded to “true” materials (as World Tree wood is “True Wood”), and with his incredible skills (the result of many many sessions worth of XP and years of inter-party training) to push him into Transcendence. In a timeless moment he absorbed the essence of the entire orren species and became ORREN, childe of Pararenenzu, the infant god of “Stealoc” (a verb which could substitute for certain other verbs in some spells – or when spells were used for particular purposes).

   That hadn’t been supposed to happen for tens of thousands of years. All of prime civilization reeled and the tree trembled. An epidemic of panic and hysteria spread. As a final favor – in the last moments before his will was swallowed up into the slowly-maturing combined mind of ORREN – Harry quietly stole all traces of the identities of the people who’d damaged the sun from the Tree, freeing his remaining friends from pursuit – or at least from pursuit based on that particular escapade.

   Now that the Primes were short a species, there was definitely room for the Cyarr. The group also had a bargaining point of sorts with the remaining gods: they didn’t want any more information about the “True Elements” or “Ascension” to leak out. ORREN was in for a long and confused childhood; it would be thousands of years before the spirits of the prime species were truly prepared for such transcendence – and, while the gods would be taking precautions, they were no longer so sure that individual Primes would not manage it early, or at least use the secrets of the True Elements to attain excessive levels of personal power, if such information was spread about. Yet another group would be needed to keep an eye on things – and this group already knew such secrets and was powerful enough for the job. Besides, if the Cyarr were joining the primes, someone had better be ready to help handle the transition period.

   The group had created the problem, they might as well be made responsible for managing the consequences and soothe civilization. Fortunately, they now had the resources to found their own organizations and orders for doing so – and the extended lifespans to manage them. In the distant future, the Primes and Antiprimes would meet – but that was a problem for another era.