Edmund pulled out and oldy but a… well, oldy. Skyrealms of Jorune is pretty fascinating for what it was trying to do, even if it was pretty impeded by it’s own trappings. More on this below.
3000 years in the future humans abandon earth and colonize the planet Jorune. Unsurprisingly it’s inhabited by a race of people called the Shantha, and equally unsurprisingly the humans pushed these peaceful creatures to the bring of extinction in their greed to colonize the planet. Finally the Shantha hit a breaking point and called upon the magic of the planet (which they can control reflexively) to destroy the humans. The result was near mutual destruction and each species was reduced to a fragment of their former population and resources.
500 years later the humans have adapted somewhat. They have found ways to live on Jorune, and genetically modified many other creatures (bears, wolves, and cougars) to be bepedial and sentient. There are also other alien races present (some native, some not), and in a “golden age lost” theme all the great technologies and wonders of old are now either lost, broken, unusable due to lack of knowledge, or just very rate.
Where we are now
Burdoth, empire of the humans, had two forms of citizens. Those protected by the law and afforded basic civil rights (not sure the name for these folks, but it’s most people) and the Dren, who are full citizens capable of running for office, and generally the recipients of great wealth and glory.
There are several ways to become a Dren but the quickest and most foolhardy is to go adventuring and accomplish great deeds that are recognized by other Dren. Folks attempting this are called the Tauther, or Player Character for short.
Who are these two?
Dark Mood (Sophie) is a Bronth (bear-person) investigator. As a child Dark Mood was actually quite scrawny and was protected by Persiphon Wison and the two became fast friends. Now many years later Bronth has an impressive frame, wielding a giant two handed sword with east. As well as fitting in a fedora and suit, because, Sam Spade.
Persiphon Wison is a durlig farmer who had never really know more than the farm, but like her archetypal predecessor, years to go to Tashi Station and pick up the power converters. Wison has a huge family, which is made larger by the local community which form a co-op that shares child care, resources, etc. Persiphon normally manages Thrombo to pull up the giant durlig root but her Thrombo is sick, and recently has asked Dark Mood to help her with his great strength to pull up the massive roots by hand. Slow work, but the harvest has to come in one way or another!
A Thriddle Runs Through It
Down in the durlig trenches, we looked up as we felt the ground rumbling and were then trampled (gently enough) by a Thriddle racing past.
What’s all this funny business? Though we tended to the Thriddle we noticed it was quite cold and too afraid to communicate. We followed it back (easy to track thriddle prints in a recently plowed field) and found it came out of the ground where there had been a cave in. Beneath the loamy soil was a crystal gateway, or Tra-portal, that seems to have appeared out of nowhere. We covered up the cave in to try and learn more, but while talking to the Thriddle, little Jesa went missing.
We returned to our makeshift thatch covering and found it had been opened. Oh no Jessa must have gone through the portal!!!
Skyrealms of Jorune
Garbed in as much cold weather gear as we could muster, we passed through the portal…into a Skyrealm!!!
We had clearly traveled nearly to the other side of Jorune and were on a Skyrealm that was traveling through a frozen blizzard. At the base of the portal were many corpses of several different species, all of which who died violently. And no surprise a Cleash guard appeared and violence ensued. Dark Mood drew up a giant axe from a fallen Guard and not only defended Persiphon but also slayed the armed Cleash.
[The combat system in this game attempts to account for situational awareness, the experience, that in the heat of the moment, it’s difficult or impossible to be completely aware of your surroundings. A combination of fear and adrenaline clouding your senses and things happening very fast. The mechanical representation of this is that each round you have to roll for advantage. A low roll indicates you cannot take any actions, a middling roll indicates you can either attack or defend, but not both. A high roll allows you to perform both actions, and a very high roll allows you to perform both actions and you a bonus on your rolls to do them.
The actual attack/penetration/damage system was reminiscent of Rolemaster, but clearly toned down. There were several charts to determine what kind of weapon did what kind of damage, but nothing compared to the miasma or tables found in the Arms Law, which had a separate table just for Two Handed Sword damage and then TWO tables just for the Two Handed Sword critical hits. Seriously, check these out, they are remarkable.
The portal was closed behind us, so after we dealt with the Cleash guard we had no choice but to move forward. On the ground we found Jessa’s Teddybronth. Oh no! She’s been taken!
Exploring the Tower
We navigated through the blizzard and found a tower, amazingly untouched by the elements. There was no ice on it, and the stones seemed perfectly intact as though brand new, despite our knowledge of Skyrealms telling us it had to be hundreds or thousands of years old.
We stepped inside and the cold instantly abated. In the basement downstairs we found the kitchen where Jessa was hung upside down (but still alive, thankfully) while a Cleash cook prepared a stew. Dark Mood and the creature battled, but this time the Clean used it’s Isho (magic) to paralyze Dark Mood. Terrified of what would happen to her friend Persiphon took up a heavy metal skillet and smashed the Cleash from behind. It did him no harm but it gave Dark Mood the moment he needed to regain control of his body and do the real fighting.
With Jessa then rescued they needed to find another way home. The skyrealms could move but they did so very slowly… and there were still plenty of Cleash to deal with. In order to keep them off our trail Persiphon started a grease fire in the kitchen and then Dark Mood stealthily led us around the Cleash patrols as they rushed to the kitchen to see what was going on.
[Again Jorune tries to do something innovative here. Like Unknown Armies that often does not require you to make a roll for something if you are skilled in it, Skyreams has various levels of proficiency (unfamiliar, familiar, experienced, and seasoned). The more experienced you are, the more situations you will not have to roll at. For instance Persiphon was familiar with cooking, so she didn’t have to roll to start a grease fire, something that is easy to do on accident!
Dark Mood did have to roll, however, to sneak us past the guards, I think in part because the system still fell back on the idea that all contested actions should involve opposed dice rolls]
Finding the Shantha
At the top of the tower we found a thaumaterical lab filled with alien instruments, many of which had been destroyed. Seemingly tossed in the corner was a large prisim that appeared to contain a preserved Shantha inside! These are creatures that were from myth and legend!
Inspecting the somewhat ruined laboratory, Dark Mood discerned that he was inside a crystal that preserved him perfectly, and that the crystal could only be opened by a very precise frequency of sound. As we discussed what would make this sound (and made several vain attempts) we heard Cleash, lots of Cleash coming up the stairs.
In a panic we rolled the prism down the spiral staircase, knowing it was indestructible and very heavy. We succeeded in knocking out or killing all of the Cleash on their way up the stairs, but we also accidentally killed the Thriddle they had captive with them. In his death throws the Thriddle vibrated his quidnodes at the just the right frequency and then prism cracked open, releasing the Shantha that had been contained in it for hundreds of years.
The Q Moment
Like Picard at Farpoint, we were taken to a foreign realm and put on trial to defend the actions of humankind. How could we make amends for the near destruction of the Shantha race? Well, we couldn’t. In fact, we couldn’t even show that we were fit to live on Jorune at all. We couldn’t really breath the air, eat the food it produced, channel the Isho, or other wise sustain ourselves without causing massive damage to the environment.
But…we could get there. We could become something that could live on Jorune. The Muadra were humans that had been changed by the planet, and were better connected to Isho. They were our evolutionary path. In communing with all of us the Shantha either revealed that Jessa was as Muadra, or possibly the Shantha changed her into Muadra (it wasn’t clear). As expected, the future is our children.
The secret was in Lamori, whatever that is.
A welcome home
When the Shantha returned us home the portal was nowhere to be seen, but the Thriddle we tended to returned and introduced himself as Hiosta, an Al-Gorno, which are the bravest of the Thriddle (and a kind of rolalty). If we wished to know more of Lamori, we should travel to Tan-Sid, and he would personally sign our placards of accomplishment, that got us one step closer to Drenship.
Thoughts on this Game
Gaming with Edmund and Sophie is always a blast. We played on lots of tired tropes but we knew we were doing it and happily (knowingly) engaged in them. The Teddybronth (Bronth are the Bear people) was particularly adorable.
Jorune tries to do some cool things with the system but it is horribly burdened by an overwhelmingly intricate setting, and the mechanical innovations are stacked on top of conventional rules, instead of being put in place of them. For instance, it’s great if you have a skill that you can just “do”, but if there are 400 skills and you never know what you’re going to need, your wiff factor goes right back up. We ended up getting some great gameplay but I know a lot of that came from Edmund and Sophie being awesome players who embrace failure and system quirks rather than shy away from them. There are some really good principles buried in here, and I’m glad to have played this new-to-me system
Hahahahahahah. Dren spelled backwards is nerD. Hee!