I Went To Math Hell and All I Got Was This Colorful Marble

I’m back from Fifth Gate Silverfire game 2!

I’ve written about it else-web, so I don’t want to repeat myself excessively. But to elaborate on some things I wrote there…

We were once again at Zion’s Camp, the LDS camp in Raymond, NH. The site was in somewhat better shape, coming to it right after the camp season. The bathhouse in our camp (Lower Staff/Priesthood Pavilion) was functional, which was a big plus. It was full of spiders and their webs, which was less ideal. The cabin I stayed in (the same one as last time), was equally filthy, covered in rodent droppings and acorn shells.

There was also the small obstacle that half the cabins in our camp were still locked when we arrived on site, and that we didn’t have enough mattresses… but those problems was quickly resolved.

I made some changes to my costuming this game. I purchased this lovely velveteen dress in dark blue (seen above) from Sofi’s Stitches via Medieval Collectibles, and made a chemise to go under it. (I also had to hem it up like… eight inches, because I am short and it is designed to be floor-length, which is less than ideal while tromping through the woods). Of course, this weekend turned out to be very hot during the day, so I only wore it at night, and even then without the tie-on sleeves.

Overall I was very happy with this addition to Ianthe’s wardrobe. It kept me sufficiently warm, even at bird o’clock, and it is relatively easy to move in. (Only problems I had were getting up from sitting/kneeling on the ground; I kept getting tangled in my hem).

One big change related to my comfort was… anti-chafing cream. (Perhaps TMI, this). Given how hot it was during the day, I didn’t want to wear an extra layer under my day dress (the same blue/yellow silk underdress plus brown suedecloth corseted overdress), so I needed something to keep my thighs from rubbing themselves raw. I invoked the power of science!!, purchasing some anti-chafing cream Friday afternoon. I’m happy to report it worked well! I walked something like 50,000 steps over the weekend, and it kept me going without discomfort. At least, not from chafing…. (ow muscles ow ow).

Enough about that! How was the actual game?

Just as great as last time. This one was… maybe less fighty than the last one? There were probably as many field fights (two on Friday, two on Saturday, and one weird hybrid one on Sunday), but there was less roving pain, overall.

One thing I struggled with this game was staying in character. I felt like I never really fully immersed in the Ianthe headspace this game. I don’t know why that is. I started to immerse on Saturday, but something about the first field fight of the day plus math hell threw me out. After that, as I got progressively more exhausted over the course of Saturday (I’d been up until 5 or 6am, and walked all over the place, while fighting), it was harder and harder to stay in character. While working on a code, I described a symbol as “looking like an Up arrow on a computer keyboard.” I mentioned email. I found myself talking about my skills mechanically (“I used my event skill that fight”). My friends gently teased me when I did, which usually brought me around temporarily. I just hope I didn’t throw anyone else off by my lapses.

Let me illustrate some of my most fun plot moments, via quotes! (Don’t read on, Wrathborn players, if you don’t want to be spoiled with Silverfire stuff).

“Or we could just make awkward small talk.”

The Arcane Circle got to meet the founder of their Order, Avelina. She was delightfully awkward, and we were delightfully fannish about her. She and Scholarch Vexus visited late Friday/early Saturday to explain a complex field fight to us, which has gone down to history as Algebraic Battleship.

Basically we had to defend three points on the field, while simultaneously solving for x and y in equations written on slates. Once we had those numbers, we then plugged them into a second equation to determine coordinates to “bomb” — basically, deflecting Avelina’s tremendous power to destroy armaments being used against the wards of the Arcane Circle’s Academy.

We took heavy losses in this fight — there was a lot of confusion about what to do, and Silverfire Knights were attacking us even as we took the field. It lent a sense of danger to the proceedings which I probably would have appreciated more if it weren’t already stupidly late. As is, I do appreciate how simultaneously merciless and yet clean fighters the Silverfire Knight NPCs are.

“So we got this math puzzle down to about forty permutations, and then we had the Veiled brute-force the rest and soak the one damage for every wrong answer.”

Another… interesting mod was one that was designed for the Golden Temple and the Arcane Circle to work together. Demons (who are the antithesis of the angels the Golden Temple draw their Power from) were protecting a lockbox with mathematical wards. We needed what was in the lockbox to bind a pair of demons I heard variously called the Infernal Brothers and the Princes of Perdition.

This would turn into the chain of adventures we called “math hell.”

The first mod we went on for this wasn’t so bad — we fought off demons while we solved a puzzle to determine the combination for the lock. The problem was tricky — what four-digit number, when divided by 2 through 9, always has a remainder of one? The cleverer members of our Order determined that we only needed to figure 5, 7, 8, and 9 into the equation, as every other number was a factor of these, so they multiplied these together, got the result 2520, and then added one. Lo, the lock opened, and we received a chain, which we were given to understand could be used to bind the Princes of Perdition, with the proper ritual.

The actual “math hell” part came later. Next we needed to get sigils representing each of the four elements, in order to imbue the chain with power. This meant four groups went to do a very similar mod to the first — fight demons, get a combination to unlock a box.

Except there were complications. I was the first group, and we were tasked with an algebra problem with tangled wording. Despite all that, we found the solution fairly quickly.

But our guide had programmed the lock wrong, transposing two of the numbers.

We spent thirty more minutes banging our head against it before he realized it, and declared the lock opened by the power of Plot. I acquired the shiny yellow and black marble that represented Air (yellow for lightning, I was told).

Other groups faced their own challenges, some easier, some harder. Perhaps the most amusing one I heard of spawned the quote above!

Eventually on Saturday night/Sunday morning we had acquired all four symbols, and needed to do a ritual. Kaelin Umber (Melissa C) drafted the structure of a ritual to imbue the chain, and she and Friedrich Von Nida (Stephen G), Kein Vyland (Matt B), and myself carried it out. We each got to say a few words about the power of our element, and then we united all the sigils in a circle formed by the chain. It was a small thing, but this is one of my fondest memories from the weekend.

“That crown [of the Silverfire King] sure is something.”
“Yeah. Somebody’s compensating.”

The meta-plot of this game was that the Silverfire King — yanno, the guy who declared us all traitors last game — wanted to treat with us. He would come with only a few of his barons and have a chat with us, but in return he gave us a list of hostages he demanded. We could send others, but for every replacement we had to send two Champions instead of one.

Rolant was on the list of hostages, but Ianthe was not, so I got to play out being the worried sister. “If you die, I’ll be waiting at the Gate to kill you again,” might have been uttered.

This played out after lunch on Saturday, and a looooong time was spent in talks with His Royal Cuckoo McCrazypants Majesty. He seems to be under the impression that Power was something he gave to us all 50 years ago, and that any stories of the Orders having Power before then are just “legends.” He also has a telltale left-shift to his eyes when certain questions are asked — I would have read it as just deception, but some saw it as him listening to an invisible voice. Like the Silver Lady we’ve all heard so much about…

The king’s offer was this: help him defeat the Order of the Bloodred Moon, which is a threat to us all, and he won’t ask the Champions to give up Power again until after that threat is eliminated. He seems to have backed down on disbanding Orders and warbands. Still thinks the Veiled should just give up their Power and stop existing, though!

I believe he agreed to stop avenging himself on innocents, but as it transpired later in the weekend, he has an interesting definition of “innocents.” People who share a source of water with Ebonfall? Farmers who provide food to the town? Clearly not innocent, in his eyes.

At the end, someone out and out asked him about the Silver Lady. He vehemently denied knowing anything, of course.

Some of this I witnessed; some I heard secondhand, as Ianthe bored easily of the King’s evasions, and after I while I escaped to fight the Bloodred Moon (who of course chose this time to attack) and hang out by the Gate with other Champions and discuss our relative ages.

“So… do you study genetics in real life?”

… is what James, the game owner, asked me before game, while everyone was still gathering in the dining hall. This is relevant because Ianthe has an interest in heredity; lacking, say, genetic assays, though, her study is mostly probabilities. I told him that I did not (aside from the very basics), but I did study statics. “Good,” was his cryptic reply, before walking away.

Of course, then I wondered when I would be sent on the mod that involved filling out Punnett squares…

A use for Ianthe’s knowledge of heredity did come up, however! For Reasons, there is a question of heredity which the Umber sisters asked her to probe, with her newly-acquired Divination info skill…

“All you people with straw hats look the same.”

One of the mods we did on Saturday night involved helping the Disciples of the Tempest protect a monastery from an attack by Silverfire forces. The mod was hooked by Beaker* as one of the Tempest abbots. The quote in question was uttered by me, when I failed to tell him apart from Kaiden, another tall Tempest PC, played by Rob C.

* I don’t actually know Beaker’s really name, but he fits his nickname very well. I know him as the guy wot plays the Silverfire King, mostly. Which has led to us wanting to make image memes involving the muppet Beaker with a silver crown.

This turned out to be a fun, challenging mod. It started as a line fight where we were protecting the path to the monastery. Then the Tempest folks broke away and did their own thing for a time; when they came back, Kaala (Hannah R) gathered our warband and went to another point on the field, which we designated South. There were three other cardinal directions, too, and at each one, a Tempest PC had to do a two minute kata, wait for the next group, do a one minute kata, wait again, and finally do a thirty second kata, and then run around the points in order, as part of the ritual to push back the Silverfire attackers.

While, of course, still being attacked.

It was challenging, fighting in small groups like this, and I blew through all my healing and my attributes, as did the other healer in our group (Renfield, Chris S’s Veiled PC, and the Heart of the Warband). But Kaala finally signaled that she was successful.

And that… that was not all, but it sure is a lot. I should save some of the floon for writing my PEL…