Impractical Applications (Seeking Marten)

In last week’s Imprac, I’d mentioned that I’d started off the alternate timeline in my solo game with two search plots. The second, the one currently in progress, was the player’s original intention. The first one, though, was a chance to get used to the new situation, and see how the player/character would handle it. Kiriko, in general, is one of the most uncertain PCs I’ve run for: one of the first I’ve seen as GM or player for whom “It is better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission” is not a creed to live by. In the old time, coordinating with those above her in the pecking order was easy, something that could almost be taken for granted. The new timeline throws that dynamic on its head: the powers that be are elsewhere, the occupiers are everywhere, her fellows cheerfully admit they’re making it all up as they go along, and of the two people she trusted most, one is a ghost and the other is technically responsible for the current situation, meaning that Kiriko has to be very careful whom she tells about searches involving either of them. (For the record, this is more due to how the timelines diverged than to any desire to mess with the player’s head and playstyle.)

I couldn’t send Kiriko off on her original objective first, for several reasons. One, it was the first search plotline we would have done with me in the GM’s seat, and I wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting into: how subtle I could make the clues, how PC-driven I could expect the search to be, that sort of thing. Two, the person Kiriko wanted to look for was inhumanly good at not being noticed, convinced she needed to hide from much more powerful enemies than Kiriko, and objectively correct about said need to hide. Any search for her would be very long, difficult if not downright impossible, and downright dangerous for both concerned if word were to reach the wrong ears. Not a good run for a first-timer.

My solution came in the form of the other most trusted character. Amaya was very interested in meeting Marten, her next incarnation, and for various reasons couldn’t go to look for him herself. Instead, she sent Kiriko. Unfortunately, other groups, in varying flavors of local, were also interested in Marten: one, a political power in the Underworld who had sent one of her most trusted servants to look for him; two, a local political power whom Marten had offended and who had sent a small group after him; three, a mutual friend of Kiriko and Amaya with an interest in keeping Marten out of a wide variety of definitions of harm’s way. Pretty heavy competition for a semi-divine housecat! With this many people, most quite skilled, on the hunt, and with Marten unaware of anyone but the second group (from whom he was industriously hiding), the question wouldn’t be whether he was found, but when and by whom. Both the first and second groups were quite distinctive to Kiriko’s magic-senses, and of types that she would have known to be cautious around.

Left to her own devices, Kiriko had the resources to find her quarry. The first person she spoke to, who was willing to outline the situation to the best of her ability, was aware of Group 2, unaware of groups 1 and 3, and completely unconcerned that she was in conversation with a talking housecat (another reason why I wanted to run this search first, as this was one of the few parts of the setting in which being a domestic quadruped wouldn’t be too much of a hindrance). Marten, she explained, was “out there somewhere”, no location specified, possibly no set location at all, but there was at least one local leaving food for him in the evenings, one prone to wearing a strong perfume. Kiriko tracked the local in question to her house, asked after Marten (“I don’t know where he is, but if you get him caught you will be my rug”–this informant, as with the last one, was very aware of Group 2) and moved on.

This was when she met Group 1, in the form of a dignified but very corpsey-looking woman who went by Bloodstained Window. Having overheard some very strenuous negotiations on the subject, Window was aware of Group 2 (but unaware of 3); she recognized Kiriko’s pseudodivine nature, began conversation… and soon found herself being asked for help with Kiriko’s mission. Being socially adept, and knowing a useful chance when she saw one, she wasn’t going to disabuse Kiriko of her notions! Window ended up putting Kiriko back on the track of that night’s dinner drop, allowing Kiriko to make first contact before sweeping in, mesmerizing Marten….

….and discovering the as-yet-unknown-to-anyone existence of Group 3 in the form of a boot to the head, allowing Kiriko and Marten to flee.

Leave a Reply