This is the 2nd piece in a series about cooperative storytelling. The first part explains a little about the mechanics of our cooperative storytelling. We came up with an intriguing world though, so I thought I’d share it.
At some point in the distant past, the entire earth was flooded with saltwater and most advanced technology lost. Only the tops of the highest mountains in the world remain above the water level. Most of humanity was lost in the apocalypse, but for some reason (unspecified), most or all of the world does not remember that the Earth was ever anything other than a bunch of island nations warring over fish schools.
What solid ground is available is considered precious the world over. Many religions has sprung up, but all hold solid ground to be sacred. Many people never leave their floating villages except to go on pilgrimages to various islands. Of course, with every religion comes the forbidden. In this case, since the bottom of the ocean is full of ancient relics like cars and cellphones, diving too deep is forbidden. Some religions consider any speculation about or interaction with these relics to be blasphemy.
Of course, with everyone living on the water, they can’t forbid diving entirely. Harvesting the sessile organisms that settle on the underside of the floating villages is an important but dangerous passtime. These organisms, along with fish form the staples of the diet. Diving is dangerous because a diver can become entangled under the village and drown. Fishing is also dangerous, but for a very different reason. The schools of fish which migrate across great distances are shepherded by semi-sentient shark-like creatures that must be kept at bay while the school is being harvested.
The other big challenge is fresh water. This is why shamans (really mages from mage the ascension) are so important. Each village has a handful of shamans who fill important roles like purifying water for people to drink. The limits of shaman’s ability to purify water is what limits the size of villages to about a hundred per shaman who can actively purify water or maintain a wonder that does.
The PCs that we created were all from the Evers tribe. It is somewhat unusual to have 4 shamans so close in age, but then our town has always been lucky like that. Each of us was apprenticed to one of the 4 shamans who maintain our village.
- Marcus was a corr 2, forces 2 mage with a focus of dreaming. Apprenticed to a mage who works with the fishing fleets.
- Zavid was a life 2, matter 2 mage with a focus of touch and diagraming. Apprenticed to a mage who specializes in purifying water.
- Annie, my character, was a mind 2, time 2 mage with a focus of pearls. Apprenticed to a mage who acts as the village historian.
- Terek was a life 2, prime 2 mage with a focus of blood and objects made from once living material. Apprenticed to the village healer.
We were brought together particularly to recover an astrolabe that had been stolen by the Jarins a few generations back. (Of course we had originally stolen it from them, but no one wants to talk about that.) It is likely that one or more of us won’t survive. Which is fine by our masters since there is always competition between mages, and the one(s) who succeed and return will lend great fame to their master(s).
We decided that despite the fact that it is expressly forbidden, we would travel under the guise of pilgrims to their island. It is considered a sin beyond almost any other to pretend to be pilgrims in order to infiltrate another nation, as such acts breed distrust between tribes and cause tribes to cordon off their sacred land from others, thus denying the rest of the world the chance to experience it. Of course, since the Jarins did it first, it’s okay.
So we caught the next pilgrim ship off our floating village. The ship was part of a small fleet, and like most boats, and indeed the villages themselves, was constructed mostly of plastics, carbon fiber, and other recovered materials. Wood is too precious to be used for ships and not durable enough against the storms and the sharks, so most religions look the other way and don’t say anything about the use of salvage from the time before to construct ships.
Each of us had to pay our way on the ship of course, since nothing in this world is free. Particularly with the captain we ended up with. (More about that later though). Marcus offered his service as a ship-hand, Zavid as a carpenter, and Terek as a rigging rat. Annie, having no useful skills, paid her way with two large, beautiful pearls. Annie has a small, animal-skin bag that can hold about 10 pearls
Of course the journey could not be uneventful. On the second night out, a storm hit, and we were separated from the main fleet. Several pilgrims were swept overboard. Terek was busy trying to save the sails. Zavid concentrated on trying to save some of the over-boards, but with only limited success. Marcus stayed below, as expected by his focus for magic. And Annie? Oh she was soaking wet. To be fair, everyone on deck was wet, but Annie had jumped overboard to try to assist Zavid. Only one little boy noticed her actions.
In the morning, we took stock of where we were. The main mast was badly crippled, having somehow rotated 45 degrees so the ship is less effective at cutting the water when the sails are full. (Paradox backlash from Marcus using forces to try to protect the ship from being completely destroyed.) Of greater concern was the attitude of the captain and the preacher on board, both of whom were convinced that the problem was the pilgrims on board who worship false idols in their eyes. They insisted on sacrifice of precious objects to appease their gods.
Marcus elected to get involved. He marched right up to the captain and the preacher and announced that he was a shaman from the Tibon tribe (far to the north) on his way to meet with a shaman in the Sydney nation. While they did let him try to help speed the journey, by falling asleep against the mast and with Zavid’s aid to stay asleep, – in order to nudge the winds – it would cause trouble later.
In the mean time Terek went on with day to day ship work, and Annie tried to entertain the kids on board by teaching them to swim better. The kid who had noticed Annie in the water the night before told his parents about her, which may have been a bad thing. As an attempted precaution, Annie attempted to suppress the suspicious sentiments of the captain and preacher.
Despite the setbacks, the ship did limp into port a few days after the rest of the fleet. The captain quickly engaged a soldier in conversation, and this set the PCs on edge. The four PCs quickly disembarked and headed for the nearest pilgrim’s hostel. Annie and Terek then went into the market to get clothes that would allow them to blend in with the crowds in Sydney rather than stick out as members of the Evers tribe. Annie paid for everything with three more pearls.
Upon their return however, trouble was waiting for them. A couple of soldiers had come by the hostel and were questioning the owner. Annie stepped inside to overhear their conversation and judge the emotions involved (no correspondence so no magic at range). The soldiers were looking for the shaman who arrived on the ship. Once one of the soldiers left, Annie nervously proceeded upstairs to investigate. She found Zavid alone in the room. Marcus had fallen asleep, turned invisible, and slipped out a few minutes earlier. Zavid and Annie met up with Terek and go searching for Marcus.
Marcus, for reasons of his own, went to the Shaman Sarkesh. The two of them talked for a while, and Marcus, who normally berated others for blasphemy for interacting with relics of the old world revealed a small plastic and metal box that with the push of a few buttons can be made to produce light, and supposedly talks to the stars occasionally. Sarkesh was intrigued by the object and agreed to trade for it with some other object tbd. Marcus then retired to a chamber and fell asleep.
He was frustrated in trying to contact the others, as the adrenaline of borderline panic kept them awake. Terek and Zavid use their life magic to alter their appearance to blend in better and avoid capture. Then Terek went to the docks to investigate if another ship was leaving soon since the group may need a quick get-away. After changing clothes, and then promptly falling into the water (she is kind of a huge klutz), Annie went among the crowd in the market, trying to listen in for any clue as to where Marcus could have gone. Zavid finally fell asleep, and Marcus filled him in on where he was. Waking from the dream, Zavid goes to tell the others this.
In the mean time, a couple of soldiers recognized Annie and took her into custody. They took her to the shaman’s house. To lead the others there, Annie left a breadcrumb trail of pearls. Terek started to wonder about this point how Annie can be so casual with something so valuable. Annie is reunited with Marcus, who was fast asleep, at the shaman’s house. She attempts to wait patiently for him to wake.
Marcus was deep in conversation in his dream. He contacted a woman named Elizabeth to report in. His mission, while somewhat delayed, was still proceeding appropriately. When he woke to find Annie, he became somewhat concerned about what foolish plan the others had concocted to “rescue” him.
Speaking of the rescue plan… Terek used prime magic to cut a small hole in the wards around the shaman’s house. Zavid then melted the wall to the room where Marcus and Annie were. The three of them then drag Marcus off despite his protests.
And so ends the story. But really it’s just a beginning. So many delicious places we could go next…