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The 11th Tribe Campaign

The 11th Tribe Campaign is a playtest campaign of InBetween running from September 2019.

September 22nd — The Eleventh Tribe, Session One

The 22nd of September saw the start of the Autumn term at my local gaming club, and therefore the start of a new campaign!

This time I am attempting a more open world/sandbox style of play. Following on from Conpulsion 2019 adventure, we return to the world of The Ten Tribes, one week after the last game. It is the holy season of Xmaz in the Ten Tribes of Factori, and Paperclip — the Queen who ruled for one day, before abdicating and vanishing — has just declared the existence of an eleventh tribe, a home for outcasts like her.

Three players — Alistair, Ryan, and Robyn — sat down to create the Eleventh Tribe (a 4th, sadly had to leave halfway through).

Instead of the normal Tribe Creation system (6 dice, three traits, abilities) we made a tribe with 3 dice, 1 trait, and no abilities — everything will come through play, so we will get to test out the Tribe growth (or diminishment) rules I worked on over the summer to see if they can successfully increase the Tribe, or whether it will founder.

Seeking Recruits, and a place to live

Year One, Rain

Three renegade Hylin — Pock, Tribble, and Cobalt — form half of the 11th Tribe's founding members. The seventh is Paperclip, still missing. The other six agree that their tribe won't have a Chief (for now) and will decide everything with a simple majority vote of their Tribe council, who right now consist of the six of them. What happens if (when) the tribe grows isn't entirely clear.

Lacking supplies, numbers, and most importantly a place to live, the 11th tribe has hung around the meeting place — where the Queen made her announcement — looking for new recruits amongst the gradually dispersing crowd of Hylin who gathered when the old queen was dying. They are woken up by the noisy chatter of the seven pups belonging to a Carpet Tile mouse named Refill, who appeared to have come to the gathering alone with a load of food to trade.

Refill is looking to sell her last five pots of hungdu paste, and the players decided it might be a good idea to trade with her, and possibly find out if she was interested in joining their tribe. The trade goes well, but Refill grows defensive when asked if she had a mate at home. Cobalt's attempts to help only make things worse, but Pock has a flashback to a time when he was taking part in the annual underground Carpet Tile wrestling contest. He remembers that Carpet Tile believed in arranged matings. Was it possible that since Refill was from an apparently persecuted minority her mate had been taken away? He manages to communicate his inspiration to Tribble (through coded whisker-taps) and get him to change tack.

Tribble promises — without a vote — that the 11th tribe will soon be visiting Carpet Tile on a "recruitment drive" and manages to drop hints about how the tribe would be a place of freedom and choice; enough so that are sure Refill will go back to her people and say good things about the 11th (i.e. Tribble spent 4 successes on it!).


  • Most of the session was spent on character generation. Two people used the new online character generator, and it seemed to work fine.
  • The flashback went perfectly. Alistair spent Luck when I won the roll and threatened to use a fact to say that he won the contest, but cheated.

September 29th — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Two

This week we return to the 11th Tribe, but with a slightly different cast of players — Alistair has to drop out, but Jaimie and Rick take his place, bringing us up to 4 characters. Jaimie's Dusty is a four-year-old failed tinkerer from Tangle, while Rick's Lozenge is a two-year-old from Ghost with a great destiny written in her fur!

To Carpet Tile

Year One, Spring

Following on from last week, the 11th Tribe head to Carpet Tile. Along the way they run short of food, and can't resist the smell of something sweet and edible in the distance. It proves to be a pair of brightly-wrapped sweets dropped by an Eater. The sweets are perched on a metal grid above the one they are making their way along, so getting their paws on them requires some climbing and rigging up a winch to lower them down, but they manage the task and refill their pouches.

The Clippies

Soon the tribe reaches an outpost of Carpet Tile. Half of the Tribe (including wrestler Pock, survivalist Husk, and Cobalt's snail Dartagnan) stay in the Between, while the others venture closer. They encounter a mouse with red ink on its fur who, clearly afraid of the secretaries, refuses to speak to them. It says it has been red lined and could be punished more for speaking to them. Eventually they persuade it to tell them where they might find Refil, and then leave it alone.

Refil proves to be away, but they encounter Legal, another Clippy, who explains to them how the Clippies are a minority in Carpet Tile and poorly treated. This is especially true in this bit of the nest, where the Secretary (like a sub-chief) Arch particularly dislikes them. It is Arch, the learn, who saw Refil's mate Entricod punished for having a litter without permission. Entricod has been red-lined and sent to Darkest, the main part of the nest. Refil turns out to have been trading for scraps in the hope of buying back Entricod's freedom from Arch.

They meet the rest of the Clippies here — Loop and Bic, and the yearlings, Tack, Pritt, and Scotch — and learn that there is even worse news! Two of Refil's kits — Patch and Tiny — got lost along the way back from the Meeting Place, and Refil couldn't find them. Instead she was forced to leave them behind!


The party want to recruit the persecuted Clippies into their tribe, but its clear that they are nervous, hidebound, hesitant. Obviously some rescue attempts are warranted! Lozenge insists that they rescue the kits at once, and after getting directions to where they were lost, go in search.

Following Cobalt's keen nose they find Refil's sleeping spot, and work out where the kits went — into a network of old wiring and insulation. When they find the kits they have dug themselves into the middle of a knot of wires to escape a swarm of hide beetles, who are crawling all over looking for food. Cobalt charges in, but is overwhelmed by bristly larvae! (Takes 2 Hurt).

Dusty waves food to distract the beetles away, allowing Lozenge and Tribble to try and extract the kits from amongst the naked wires. Luckily Tribble grew up around burning lines, and is able to direct Lozenge. Poor Tiny is hurt, but Patch is very grateful to Lozenge, and promises to have lots of pups with her when she is grown up.


When the party return with the kits, Refil — who has returned empty pawed — is overwhelmed, and impulsively offers to join the tribe, but the 11th Tribe isn't done, they insist on rescuing Entricod too!

This involves making their way to Darkest, and finding a way past the bureaucracy there. Legal produces a document for them, and explains the fur markings — Secretaries and their Guardians use blue ink, criminals are marked with red, and others use black ink. He also explains that they will have to Cross the Empty! (drumroll)

The empty in question is a carpeted corridor. The sight of it is enough to make most of the party terrified (1 Afraid), but they press on ... only to see an Eater coming around the corridor! Luckily they manage to scurry around the corner without being spotted, and squeeze under the massive wooden vertical that separates the empty from Darkest.

Darkest is nestled in the between beside a place that the Eaters fill with paper. They encounter red-lined mice working at gathering paper, along with Guardians with blue ink on their faces. When they approach, they are stopped by two Guardians who want to see their 'papers'. The younger Guardian is keen, but the older one sends him off to check the 'log book' so that he can invite the party to bribe him for papers, which they duly do. Once past the guards they find a teeming nest made from chewed and torn paper, where red-lined Hylin do the work while blue-pawed Secretaries scurry by.

The party splits up. Tribble and Dusty create a distraction by asking to see the Senior Secretary, while Lozenge and Cobalt go to look for Entricod. Luckily Cobalt has a pouch of blue chalk that she uses on her fur, so Lozenge powders herself to look like a Secretary. When they find Entricod in a work party they manage to fast-talk the Guardian into handing him over by waving Legal's fake paperwork, and scarper!

New Members

Entricod leads them back to the other Clippies, who are so overwhelmed that they all join the 11th tribe!


  • I used the same sort of system for recruiting the Clippies as I used for the Bondmice in the previous campaign. 8 successes would cause Refil to join them, 10 would get Bic's family too. Successes could come from Persuasion tests, or from completing the two rescue missions, which were worth 4 successes each.
  • The mini-challenges worked well, though I may not have explained Tinkering all that well.

October 6th — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Three

Today's report brought to you by the paw of Lozange

Our Tribe of exiles and outcasts from the other Tribes of mice in Fac-tory, voted on where to go next. It was a close call between trying to claim territory over the hitherto unclaimed Can-Teen (a far flung region of Fac-Tory, where adventurous mice sometimes go to scavenge); or seeking to instead to build alliances and seek aid from those remaining tribes that might be friendly to us.

So, it was decided to travel to visit my old Tribe, Ghost, who live on top of an industrial boiler and are kinda like Tibetan monks (David's doing, not mine for once). They're all albino mice, being escaped laboratory mice, who wear feathers knotted into their fur.

On the way we were attacked by centipedes, who threatened to eat our kits (baby mice). My heroic white knight killed the centipedes with her spear, and gained herself a chitin helmet fashioned from the head of a slain centipede, as a prize for killing the centipedes and thus becoming the first Champion of our new Tribe.

Eventually we were able to scale the treacherous ascent up the boiler to the Tribelands of Ghost; visit the tribe's Mystic who has a map to Death itself tattooed into her skin, which allows those who know how to communicate with the dead Queen of the Hylin (which is what the mice call themselves); and now we are recovering from our journey and making plans where to go next, while one of our number has taken to meditation upon the Void (the great drop down the side of the industrial boiler) in an attempt to find wisdom.


  • I tried an experiment with the travel. The journey was assigned a number of dice, as if it was an Obstacle, but one that required Damage to overcome (I may be calling this 'Resilient', stay tuned). The group made "Knowing (Places)" rolls against the Obstacle. They could spend successes on finding food, or places to sleep, or making progress, whereas I could spend successes on Encounters (or raising Danger).

    Naturally this meant that the first roll (against an Obstacle 8) was pretty much bound to fail, while the last few (against Obstacle 2 or 3) were bound to succeed ... which probably wasn't right. I think the idea of tracking successes to reach the destination is good, but I should have been rolling Danger instead of the Obstacle Dice ... of course that might have made it too easy ... something to think on!

  • The Centipedes were vicious. They had the Venomous Quality, so did 1 Sick damage for every 1 Hurt. Luckily no one took more than 1 Hurt from them, or we might have had some dead mice!
  • Trubble used the spend luck for a fact rule to have the Centipede bite him and not the kits, worked perfectly.
  • Lozenge showed that even a young mouse could hyper-specialise into one good roll (in this case Fighting), but that they are even weaker in other areas than an old mouse. Rick could pass all the fighting rolls thrown at him, but not anything else.

October 11th — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Four

From the paw of Cobolt

After spending some time resting at Ghost tribe, we decided to venture into Underboiler in search of potential tribe mates and information that may help us on our journey across Fac-Tory and onwards to Canteen.

The way down the vertical was treacherous but we managed to descend using our handy winch (tinkered by yours truly) and my noble snail D’artagnan.

Upon reaching Underboiler Dusty came across two arguing Hylin attempting to turn a wheel to prove their physical prowess. We offered help in the way of tools, but it seemed to offend them. We soon discovered that Underboiler tribe rules were vastly different to our own. While we at the 11th tribe are used to democracy, in Underboiler status is granted through the demonstration of great physical strength. After a brief fight between the two Hylin, Lozange turned the wheel herself and we were invited to come into their nest and seek training from their great champion. Unfortunately one of our tribe members is a disgraced member of Underboiler, having left due to their peaceful nature. It was up to me to create a something so brilliant that it could conceal their identity. I ended up tinkering him a mask so impressive that it concealed face completely. (They are hereby known as Lucho to avoid discovery.)

When we reached the training room of Underboiler’s great champion we discovered that the slander from stationary had already reached this far and that our tribe had been branded across Fac-Tory as kit-nappers! We quickly explained our situation to the champion and they agreed that they had indeed thought wrongly of us and that perhaps we should attempt to convince their leader of this to avoid a tribe war.

We sought council with the Valve master of Underboiler and were challenged to a wrestling match. Our brave Lozenge took on the Valve master Ratchet and won, proving our worth to Underboiler and saving us from a potential conflict.

We decided that after saving our reputation and learning about Underboiler, it was time to continue on our journey. The rest of the tribe were so impressed with my mask making that perhaps I shall get to make us all masks very soon!

The fight!
Lozenge and Ratchet fight


  • I did almost everything wrong in the fight between Lozenge and Ratchet: I used dice pools as initiative, I forgot to give Ratchet First Strike, I didn't notice that Rick used a Thing even though they were fighting barepawed, I let Rick roll Fighting instead of Pushing ... basically a disaster rules-wide, however it was still great fun.
  • Absolutely nothing about this session was planned — I'd expected the group to go somewhere else entirely. However it still flowed well and I was impressed by how well the system (Obstacles, Danger, Monsters, dice rolls) stood up to the sort of ad-hoc treatment we were giving it.

October 18th — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Five

Year One, Autumn & Winter

The 11th Tribe stay a double-pawful of days with Under Boiler, swapping bits and pieces they gathered up in Far Up for supplies they can use in their continued quest for Canteen. (I say that each character can swap Stuff for food on a 1 for 1 basis, and there are a few swaps ... turns out to be a bad idea later!).

There are a wide range of routes on offer, which boil down to:

  • Follow the Up level past Tangle, Stationary and Carpet Tile
  • Descend to Down, and try to make it past the terrifying Eater Beasts that infest the floor of Fac-Tory
  • Return to Ghost Tribe, and then go along through the dry feather wastes of Far Up
  • Enter the unclaimed Between of the far verticals and try to find a route that leads to Canteen
  • Go to Tangle, and then descend to Down to avoid Stationary and Carpet Tile

There are arguments, and votes. After a while the tribe announce that they will head back the way they came, scaling the side of the great boiler! A whole host of boiler-mice gather to watch, since they think it is an impossible task — and once the tribe gathers with all its kits and elderly mice they have second thoughts and agree!

"Of course," say the Under Boiler mice, "We've tried hurling each other upwards and that doesn't work ... if we wanted to go up we'd go to the vertical beside Chimney and go up there."


Chimney is a huge black piece of the Empty filled with heat and smoke. The Under Boilers believe that there are chimney spirits there who can set a Hylin on fire, or cause them to die without even touching them. They advise the 11th tribe to avoid them!

The route via Chimney is longer, but safer. (The distance they need to travel is now 13, with 8 rests before the Tribe takes an Exhausted Damage). The first few legs of the journey go without difficulty, though the way is long, hot, and sooty. After a few days they come across a colony of woodlice, eating a decaying tie-beam.

Woodlice (in InBetween) are stupid individually, but collectively inteligent, and love to gossip. Hylin try to stay on good terms with woodlice nests since they will recieve news that way. The woodlice offer to trade for information, and the 11th Tribe decide to spend a Rest telling stories. They learn that the woodlice know something about Canteen — it is apparently a place where a Tribe once lived, but they are long dead now.

The Far Up

Eventually the Tribe reach the Far Up. They are near Ghost Tribe's nest, but separated from it by a chasm, and decide to bypass it rather than try to cross. Their route now takes them along the rafters, a land of dry boarding, pigeon feathers, and huge panes of glass that they avoid. It is a dry and foodless place, and they start to eat into their supplies. Food they have, but no water, and even for Hylin this is a dry place. After a few days of travel the water supplies have fallen so low that everyone is exhausted (and as a result the Tribe also takes an Exhausted Damage), worse, the journey is taking longer than expected.

When the situation starts to look like a crisis, the players decide that they must stop and look for water. Besides Dusty, the only tribe member with any skills in scouting is Husk, who doesn't get on with anyone. Tribble tries to appeal to her sense of duty (she has none), Lozenge to her heroism (also none). In the end it takes bribery from Cobolt to get her help.

Dusty and Husk scout around, looking for a place where the glass might be broken and let water in, or maybe a river that's leaking. Eventually they find a place where the roof of the level is missing, exposing the wooden beams. There is indeed a broken pane of glass above letting water leak in from the Empty. There are also mounds of eater beast feathers, eater beast corpses, and the eater beasts themselves — huge grey things that perch on the beams or go in and out through the broken glass.

Despite the beasts, Dusty and Husk think that this is a practical place to get food and water, and also — they think, to live.

Roost Nest

Winter is closing in. The Far Up is cold and the tribe is exhausted, hungry, and lost. They vote on whether to press on through the winter to find Can-Teen, or try and set up a temporary nest here until Rain. It isn't even close, everyone wants to stop. Taking the scouts advice they decide that they can make a nest near the broken glass. There is stuff (feathers), water, and greens growing through the broken opening into the Empty.

We set the Difficulty of tinkering a nest at 10, and 7 scraps. There are 3 Rests left to do it — it will be a close run thing, especially since there just aren't enough scraps in the party to do the work. The tribe sets to work (using the new Tribe Effort rules I added), and manages to get hold of a reasonable number of materials, but Cobalt (the only Tinkerer) demands all sorts of stuff they don't have.

Dusty and Lozenge both set off to find the stuff she needs. Dusty, being a practiced scout, has a sensible idea, and tries to steal bits and pieces from one of the eater beast nests. That goes less well than it could, and he ends up in the nest when its owner comes back to feed its enormous pink chicks! Luckily he manages to hide beneath one of the chicks — it is literally sitting on his head — until the parent leaves, and make off with a pack full of stuff.

Lozenge has no ideas, only bravery. She heads off into the Between in search of Eater stuff that Cobalt thinks might be stored here, and immediately gets lost. Worse, she runs into a pair of roving cannibal mice from Asphalt! What are they doing up here? She has no idea, her only plan is to hide, keep very very still, and hope they don't notice her.

The Asphalt-mice smell something. They appear to be able to sense blood ... or is it hearbeats? Either way, they stop, looking for her. Luckily Lozenge manages to remain still enough that they leave!

Back at the Roost, the nest is built just in time. Snow begins to fall, winter is here. Luckily the new Roost Nest, although hastily built and somewhat fragile, is at least warm and snug. It is a place to wait out the winter. (Robyn takes a flaw — Fragile — to make the final roll, but then ends up also getting a benefit — Snug).

Winter in Roost

The Tribe spends the winter months in Roost. Everyone grows older, but no one dies, not even Sweep, who is now a Greyfurred Elder, but a few pups come along — courtesy of Lozenge and Cobalt (we used the random pup roll by group consent. Robyn ended up with a kit that she decided was pure white, and since Lozenge is pure white, it made sense that she was the mother). One of them, named Cyan, survived the winter and thrived.

Pritt and Scotch, the two Clippy Yearlings, also come of age. Clippy traditions say that they should keep their names, but Pritt and Scotch have now spent half their lives with the 11th Tribe, and make their own tradition, deciding to name themselves after things in Roost. Pritt becomes Bone, and Scotch becomes Feather.

We also took a Tribe Advancement, because the Tribe managed to survive the year undamaged (they healed the Exhausted Damage from lack of water earlier). Valid options were taking a Tribe Ability, or raising the Tribe's size from 3 to 4. Many arguments, but the result was increasing the Tribe's size.

A Stranger in Rain

We ended the session at the start of the Rain season. The nest has begun to rot, as has the ice, and the tribe is starting to consider starting their journey again. While Husk is out scouting she runs across a stranger lost in the Between, it is Twisted Pair, the Waykeeper who tried to rob them the year before. Some of the players want to leave him lost, others want to give him help, even invite him to join the 11th Tribe! There are arguments, and — of course — a vote. For the first time the result is a tie! Tribble prepares to hold a seance and contact the ghost of their dead queen to break the tie ...


  • We started late with this session, but really got loads done. Using single rolls and Facts to establish things is working well, though I'm still giving too much guidance on how to spend successes.
  • The new travel rules worked very well. There was a lot of tension around whether they could reach their destination in time, with the clock counting down. Every Rest they spent not travelling (looking for water, telling stories) was a big choice.
  • The new Tribe Effort rules (roll dice equal to the size of the tribe + 1 per player in the group activity) worked well for gathering resources.
  • Once again Lozenge got into a heap of trouble, and showed that a hyper-specialised character is a lot riskier to play outside their speciality. She was almost eaten by cannibals!
  • We got to properly play through a Winter Season for the first time, and it was great. Across the group we managed to hit every note: rolled for pups, ageing effects, death. No PC died (or lost a stat) but the amount of Luck in the party went down by 4 even as their Stats and Edges went up, which seems like a nice balance.
Cobalt and Cyan
Cobalt and Cyan

November 3rd — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Six

Year Two, Rain

This session was a week later than expected due to me being ill last week. It also had one fewer player — Rick was a way at a LARP event for the weekend.

The Queen Speaks

We ended the previous session with the vexed question of whether the wandering thief Twisted Pair should be allowed back into the Tribe's nest, or left to starve in the Between. Tribble conducted a ritual in his mouldering burrow, accompanied by Bone (formerly the yearling Pritt), burning paper to attract the Queen's spirit and pose the question. I'd previously asked a player from last year's campaign if she would be willing to stand in as Queen. I'd send her questions by text message and she could answer without context, as a ghost should.

The Queen's ghost appeared in the smoke and said that as she had been a thief, the 11th Tribe should accept even thieves. She went further and said that no one should ever be turned away ... a fact that Tribble kept to himself.

Dusty and Husk went out, found Twisted Pair, and escorted him back to the nest. There, he told the others that Stationary had been suffering disappearances, and blame the 11th Tribe. As a result they had formed an alliance with Carpet Tile, and have been sending out armed patrols of guard-mice. The players wonder if the Asphalt mice they saw back in Winter might have been responsible, but decide to avoid Stationary even more.

The journey resumes

With the advent of the post-winter thaw, Roost Nest rapidly becomes uninhabitable. The feathers it is made from get damp and rot, and are quickly eaten by beetles — which at least provide some food. It is time to move on, and Twist reveals that he knows the route to Can-Teen (or much of it, at least). They must make their way to a place where the Between descends in many dozens of small steps that the Eaters walk up and down. Can-Teen is at the bottom. A few weeks after his arrival, the tribe leaves Roost Nest for good. (I allow each player 1 Stuff, reclaimed from the nest).

The tribe makes slow progress through the rafters of Far Up (the first two navigation rolls are ties, indicating the minimum of progress). Here, there is wood below, but not above. Instead, huge cubic shapes of cardboard soar up into the darkness, their sides many dozens of Hylin long. The tribe stops to gnaw holes in the sides of some (to collect the cardboard) and discover that the shapes are hollow, with mysterious Eater stuff within (not food though).

Exploring, they find a place where one of the Eater Beasts sits in the open, without the cardboard shell. It is a strange and terrifying thing, made of black metal with many wheels and loops of metal attached. There are also signs that Hylin have been here before. They locate an old abandoned nest (big enough for one or two mice at most), and scraps of paper on which strange symbols are embossed. Tribble tries to examine the symbols, but they scare him.

The Machine

The tribe moves cautiously to examine the Eater Beast. They discover that a burning line (power cable) wrapped in black cloth enters one side, on the other is a single arm, lying limp. At the front, a steep slope rises up to a series of cylindrical forms. Between the ground and the shapes are four rows of strange platforms, a little like mushrooms, with long stalks and circular platforms on top that a Hylin could perch on.

Dusty, extremely nervous, circles the thing. On either side are wheels, some with teeth, some with cables wrapped round them. There are also springs, and things like jointed fingers. Tribble surmises that the beast might be missing a shell (perhaps the thing sheltering the camp they found).

The thing I am trying to describe is an electro-mechanical calculating machine a little like these:

an olivettie electrosumma 22R

Dusty warns that there is only danger here. The tribe should move on. Cobalt, the tinkerer, wants to have a closer look. He makes sure that his daughter Cyan is well swaddled, and creeps into an opening that one of the other mice spotted in the side. He penetrates into its innards, looking for its secrets. Unfortunately he trips something along the way. The machine whirrs, the wheels jerk, it begins to hum. The moving parts block the way back, he's trapped!

Lozenge, the mother of Cobalt's kit, rushes to his help, guided by some words of advice from Tribble (who has a quick vision in which he sees that the Beast has a beating heart, if they find the heart, they will find a way out). Lozenge, always brave, leaps into another hole and vanishes inside!

Dusty tries to get the rest of the tribe to back off, but the Clippies are in awe of the Eater Beast. Instead of running, they spread out around it, to see what it is doing.

A vision of the future

Alone with Tribble and Feather, Bone declares that she has had a vision. This Beast is a test for the Tribe, she says, the first since it truly came together in the winter. She is sure that she will find the parts she needs for her mask here. She says "I have seen, the Machine will mark me with its runes." Tribble tries to tell her that there is no evidence that she will also live, but she insists on trying to climb the machine, and Tribble reluctantly agrees to go with her.

Bone, young and agile, easily gets onto one of the platforms, but Tribble is a fat and lethargic mouse, and can't manage it. His attempts depress a key, and he is flung off, while the machine reacts by spinning and chattering (and injuring Cobalt inside!). At the back of the beast, a paper tape marked with cryptic symbols begins to spool down out of the air, causing the Clippies to bow down with their paws over the noses.

Bone starts to jump from platform to platform, trying to reach a place where some Thing is sliding back and forth, revealing symbols through a slit. Tribble can't follow, but then Feather points out that there is an easier climb to the right, where there are some large islands of red, green, and white, plastic (the enter, cancel, and minus keys). Tribble decides to climb here, but once again he manages to activate the machine! A deafening ring echoes out, and the upper parts of the machine slam from left to right, knocking Bone into its innards!

Cyan and Lozenge hear her despairing squeak, but decide that their kit is their priority. They run, and — amazingly — manage to make it out the back unharmed.

Not so Tribble, who decides that he must follow Bone and save her! He jumps into the machine to try and drag her out ... and is crushed to death by the moving parts!

Death of an Elder Statesmouse

At this point we break OOC so that I can explain the death system to the players. First, we check to see if another player is in the same zone as Tribble, and able to take an action that might save him. There is not (everyone else is out of the machine).

Then we ask if the players as a group are willing (and able) to spend 3 Luck between them to save Tribble. I explain that if they do this Tribble will definitely seem to have died, and will be Taken Out for the remainder of the scene, but will turn up in a future scene, having been co-incidentally saved. They spend the 3 Luck, and we spend a few moments brainstorming ideas of how he survived ...

Back in the machine, everything falls silent. Tribble becomes aware that something is moving amongst the cogs and gears, it is a massive pure-white snake — the mount of Death. The snake finds him and Bone, and they see that Death is perched on its back. It appears that Death is still smarting over the way that its domain was robbed, and holds the 11th Tribe culpable. However, before he can claim the two sad mouse ghosts for himself, the spirit of Queen Paperclip appears. She casts a handful of mouse bones in front of Death, and he is compelled to count them.

"Run!" She tells them

They run! Death pursues them through the twisting half world that forms the boundary from the Between to the realm of death. Eventually, after who knows how long, they are safe. "We have to find the others," Tribble says, but Bone insists that her vision is not yet played out. She must go back and be "marked by the machine", but Tribble must go to Can-Teen, where she will join him. The two argue, but Bone prevails. She guides Tribble to a crack that leads back into the Between and says he must go that way.

Tribble crawls through the hole ... and is promptly captured by two Stationary Guard-mice.

The Journey Continues

The rest of the tribe wait until the machine falls silent, calling for Bone and Tribble, but there is no sign of them, and everyone heard the horrible squeaks and crushing noises. Their fellow mice must be dead. With heavy hearts (the Tribe takes 1 Afraid Damage) they decide to move on, all save Feather, who insists on staying behind a few days longer.

The remainder of their trip is without incident. They skirt Stationary, and descend a long vertical until they reach the place that Twist described, and start working their way down towards Can-Teen. Halfway down they smell other Hylin, and detect traces of a recent camp. Cobalt, Dusty, and Husk creep ahead and spy two Stationary Guard-mice — well armed with hole-reinforcement mail and straightened paperclip spears — who appear to be tormenting a prisoner — Tribble!

The three can't explain how Tribble could be there, but attack anyway. They jump down and surprise the mice, who throw Tribble in front of them as a mousey shield. Dusty tries to flank them, while Cobalt goes for help, but the Guard-mice are well trained. They block Dusty and chuck a pouch of chalk dust to blind Cobalt, then make a break with their prisoner. Dusty valiantly manages to deflect them in the direction of the rest of the tribe, but they are getting away!

Which is where we have to call it for the week.


  • The adding machine was the first time I've tried a dungeon so to speak. It was moderately successful, though my descriptions totally confused everyone and no one knew what it was — at all.
  • Sections of the machine were represented as Obstacles with the Deadly quality, that could only be triggered if the machine was on (which required me to spend a success on a previous roll). It was triggering the Deadly that killed Tribble.
  • This was the first death of the campaign, but people seemed to grasp how it worked. They were happy to spend the 3 Luck, but actually only had 1 left, so it was a close thing! The ghost scenes were great fun to run.

November 10th — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Seven

Year Two, Rain & Spring

This session saw the addition of a new player, Ruth, who has played in some of the previous InBetween playtests.


We ended the previous session mid-conflict, with Cobalt choking in a cloud of chalk, Tribble unconcious and being abducted by guard-mice from Stationary, and Dusty chasing after.

The fleeing mice were intercepted by Lozenge, but she couldn't get her blows in past Tribble's unconcious form, which the guard-mice were using as a Mousetage, and got run through with a straightened paperclip! Dusty threw himself into the middle of the combat, trying to wrestle Tribble away, with the aid of Cobalt (who escaped the cloud) and Pock. Cobalt attached a battery to his spear and turned it into an electro-spear, but unfortunately ended up shocking first Dusty, then Pock, and finally himself! This gave the guard-mice the chance to flee, without Tribble (success!) but with Dusty (failure!).

By the time Lozenge, Cobalt, Pock, and Tribble had limped back to the rest of the tribe, Dusty was gone!

Form Filling

The two Stationary mice turn out to be Duracell and Placeholder (played by Ruth). While Duracell went to find a suitable camp-site, Placeholder questioned Dusty — accusing him and the 11th Tribe of mousenapping a series of missing Stationary members. Dusty denied all of this, and succeeded in persuading Placeholder that more investigation was needed, though when she requisitioned all his belongings (she gave him a receipt of course), she felt that some were very dubious in nature.

When Duracell returned, she raised the possibility of actually going and checking out the 11th Tribe for evidence, but this would require a 147c "Authorisation of Independent Investigation" to be filled out, and neither mouse carried a copy of that form. After some discussion (mostly motivated by how cold and unpleasant their current location was) Duracell decided to go back to Stationary for the form (a 4-day round trip), leaving Dusty in Placeholder's custody (she made him sign a good behaviour contract with slavery as the penalty clause).

Duracell headed off, leaving Placeholder to make the best of a bad situation — slowly filling out forms while sitting on top of Dusty's bound (with gummed paper-tape) form. After a little while she fell asleep ... which was roughly when the searchers from the 11th Tribe found her.

Lozenge and Cobalt tried to sneak up on them and slide Dusty away, but they woke Placeholder in the process. For a moment it looked like there might be another fight, but luckily Dusty is able to intervene, once he's been gnawed out of the tape.

Independent Investigation

The players take Placeholder back to their temporary camp where it soon becomes obvious that none of the missing Stationary mice are present. Indeed, some of the information appears to have come from Twisted Pair in the first place. Twist (now a loyal 11th Tribe member) insists that he only passed on what he was told.

Tribble and Cobalt suggest that the missing mice may have been taken by cannibals from Asphalt, but Placeholder thinks that's a crazy idea. Asphalt mice just don't come up here.

Placeholder, naturally, wants to wait for Duracell to return with the 147c forms ... no one else does. Since it is clear that there isn't really enough food where they are (mid-way down a flight of stairs, hiding under the wooden risers) she agrees to come to Can-Teen, which everyone assures her isn't far away.

To Can-Teen! (Again)

The 11th Tribe moves on. They have been seeking Can-Teen for a year, and can smell that it is close. After a few days of exploration they encounter three wandering mice from Conduit: Cyan, Rouge, and Madder. Cyan is entirely taken with her namesake (Lozenge and Cobalt's kit), the other two are vague and mellow hippie-mice on a random scurry-about. Tribble tries to recruit them, but they aren't interested. They do, however, know the way to Can-Teen (or think they do).

The directions they give Dusty are vague and not entirely reliable, but they are enough. After months of travel, the 11th Tribe reaches Can-Teen!


The tribe arrives at Can-Teen during the night, skirting a deep dark pit that smells alarmingly of rat. They find themselves in a narrow and tight level, with a hard springy surface below and metal just above. The metal is sticky with grease — they have to crawl to avoid getting it on their fur. It isn't a pleasant place, but it smells of food, from very direction.

Abruptly, Light! There is a hum, clicks, and then bright cold light shines in from every direction, forcing them into the shadows that cling to the middle of the narrow level. The light also reveals two other Hylin — a pair of scraggly and grimy mice dragging a pack full of food.

These pair don't give their names, and they don't give their information willingly either. Despite describing Can-Teen as a place of bounty and no law, they are nervous, as if expecting to be robbed. Nevertheless they share some information. This place is apparently the Waycamp, a place where vagabond mice camp when taking food from Can-Teen, which is the place out in the light.

Yes, Can-Teen, is the Empty!

The mice say that Can-Teen is a place where food falls from the sky. In one direction there is a place called scraps that is full of food when it is light, but which vanishes in the dark. In the other direction is much food stored out in the open, and then a cold place.

Tribble tries to reconcile all this with his vision from Autumn the previous year, but none of the places described sounds like the mysterious gate flanked with symbols. When he asks about the gate, his informant clams up. He doesn't want to speak. It takes all of Tribble's diplomacy to make him open up, and even then, all he gets is a cryptic warning. The gate is a dead place, they shouldn't go there. Indeed, they shouldn't stay at all. No one stays in Can-Teen.

By dark, the two mice are gone.


  • Ruth used the character creator to make Placeholder, and appeared to be able to do so without much supervision.
  • The fight with the guard-mice was confusing to run. It was all theatre-of-the-mind but fictional positioning was exceptionally important, and the players had terrible dice luck, so they didn't have the successes to improve their position. Luckily we had a number of plushie mice at the table to help out, but I perhaps should have drawn a map.
  • Placeholder's obsession with forms was hilarious.

November 24th — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Eight

Year Two, Spring & Summer

We had to skip a week due to illness. This week Rick was away, so Lozenge was not being played. Also Robyn chose not to play Cobalt this week.

Can-Teen Nest

Having finally arrived in the lands of Can-Teen, the Tribe need to establish themselves. They do not have food, or a nest, or much idea of whats in the Between around here. Everyone agrees that these basics must be the priority. A spot is picked where two verticals meet — this will be home.

To fully establish the Tribe, it must reach a score of 4 in each of four areas: Nest, Food, Territory, and Spirit. Its score starts at 0 in each, except Spirit, which is already at 3. For each 0 score it still has at the end of a season, it will take 1 Damage. Points can be accumulated as Long Term Activities. Additionally, any successful adventure can contribute 2 points to an area.

The characters agree that the basics of survival take priority. They put their paw to the communal efforts; adventures can wait.

Scores, end of Spring:



By the start of Summer, Can-Teen nest is established, though at a very basic level. The nearest parts of the Between have been explored, and a basic level of food gathered. The Tribe is not yet thriving, but it is surviving; enough that minds can turn to exploring a little further.

We divide the map of Can-Teen into four parts, and establish that the Territory score of 1 means that only the nearest part has been explored.

Many months ago, Tribble had a vision of a secret tribe hidden in Can-Teen, a nest with a door made from bricks, behind which were many mice. It is here that he hopes to find Bone, somehow alive. Scavengers looking for food near the nest have found strange marks scratched into the bricks, ancient marks left by strange Hylin. They resemble — a little — the symbols produced by the Eater beast in the Far Up, and also the marks that Tribble saw in his vision. He proposes following these to find the hidden nest.

Dusty and Placeholder are interested in going on the trip, as is a yearling called Bin, who idolises Tribble, and wants to grow up to be a beurocrat like him. Tribble forbids Bin to come on this dangerous trip ... he comes anyway.

Its a long trip: past the rat hole, past the scraounger's camp, and then to the Thin Vertical ... a narrow space of thin wood where the noise of the Eaters is constant. They make good progress, until their way is blocked by a huge gap in the vertical. The only route past is to climb a hundred body-lengths and go over the top, then drop down the other side. Dusty manages this easily enough, and helps Placeholder and Bin, but Tribble is left to try and get over himself — which he manages with aplomb! (Actually he falls, but bounces, and finds a scrap of label on the way which he gives to Bin.)

The Ancient Nest

Not far from the climb the group finds the gate from Tribble's vision. It is vast, the doorway is an entire brick. On either side, flanking it, are ancient inscriptions; unreadable. They try to find a gap (fail), and call to get the attention of anyone within, with no result. After a while they conclude that the whole brick must move due to some sort of tinkering, and decide to try and open it themselves, despite not having a tinkerer on hand.

Using the few scraps they have on hand they re-purpouse Dusty's nail as a lever, making a sprt of pivot that they can wedge under the edge of the brick. Meanwhile Bin, who has a knack with languages, manages to decipher two words on the inscription "Can-Teen Nest". Is this a lost 11th Tribe? They don't know.

The device is pushed into place and with much heaving the gate lifts — it is clearly connected to some sort of counter-weight. They can only lift it a little way, but it is enough to let the squeeze underneath.

They emerge in a huge dark space. They can't see anything, but they can feel a breeze with their whiskers, and hear the echoes of their paws. They guess at a hall with many entrances. It smells of dust. Things move underfoot ... bones! The whole place is a charnel house, filled with Hylin bones, many dozens of dead. They gulp, Dusty doesn't want to move forward, nor does Tribble, but they don't want to flee. Eventually Placeholder volunteers to explore the chamber with the aid of a faint beam of light that Tribble reflects from a scap of shiny foil.

Placeholder's search reveals six openings around the chamber, three to the left, two to the right, and one — covered with a piece of hard material — at the very back. The flow of air hints at many adjoining chambers dig out of the brick. Tribble summons his courage and joins her, and of course Bin follows.

Deeper into Darkness

They choose an opening at random and venture on, leaving the bones to Dusty, who edges right back to the door. By touch they find side-chambers, abbandoned burrows, twisting passages through the brick. Then, a glimmer of light. Bin heads towards it, thinking it might be an exit, only to come face to face with a squirming, pouring, mass of ghosts! A tide of dead mice, their eyes blank, their bodies translucent and luminous, pour forth in a frenzy, fleeing something terrifying. They swarm over and through Bin, chilling him to the bone. Ghost sickness!

Placeholder flees, but Tribble tries to save Bin! He calls out the ghosts, then — realising that the maddened spirits can't even hear him — throws himself towards Bin, but the tide of ghosts sweeps him back out into main chamber, hurting him badly. No one can save Bin, he's dead.

The group spends their last 3 luck to save Bin, but he is still left behind in the ghost nest, and will be raised by ghosts ...

Placeholder graps Tribble, and all three mice flee (leaving their stuff and lever device behind).

The Black Seer

Back in Can-Teen nest, a badly shaken Tribble tries to meditate as the Ghost Tribe taught him, to call up a vision that will bring some comfort. He sees Bin, alive, but surrounded by ghosts who treat him as one of them. Then he sees a different ghost, a black ghost, full of malice and hatred; a Black Seer, and the Seer looks back and sees him!


  • This was the first test of the Long Term Activities rule to allow the Tribe to do things on a seasonal scale, and it worked well.
  • The system of Tribe areas also appeared to work well, the scores give a good gut impression of where the Tribe is strong or weak.
  • The ghosts were terrifying ... literally. Lots of Afraid Damage, but it was the Sick Damage that they inflicted on poor Bin, who as Yearling only had 3 life, that proved so dangerous.
  • There are hints of a mystery here. The ghost nest, the old marks, the strange symbols from the eater beast ... Players are drawing conclusions.
  • .

December 8th — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Nine

Year Two, Late Summer

Ryan was not available this week, and Robyn went back to Cobalt, since Bin was trapped with the ghosts.

A need for food

After the disaster of the trip to the ancient nest, wandering ghosts have been sighted in the far reaches of Can-Teen. It's enough to put off any scrounging mouse, and so the food supplies of the 11th Tribe have been rather curtailed. The obvious answer is to deal with the ghosts, but Tribble is so overcome with grief and haunted by visions that he won't come out of his burrow — and Feather and Refil aren't inclined to help him either, so the rest of the PC's decide that they will go in search of a nearby food source.

When the tribe first arrived at Can-Teen, they were told of a place where the Eaters left huge amounts of food, a monolithic structure near the edge of the Empty that they have been calling 'scraps'. Although the monolith smells of food throughout the day, it seems to be empty and inaccessible at night, and the constant presence of Eaters makes tackling it in the daytime impossible.

Dusty, Cobalt, Lozenge, and Placeholder decide to take a look. They are accompanied by a yearling named Squab who wants to train to be a Scout, and looks up to Dusty. Refil, of course, won't allow Squab to go anywhere risky, but 'scraps' is just along the level from the 11th Nest, so she allows her to go.

The Monolith

The Monolith lies near the corner of two verticals, a little way into the Empty. It is tall enough that the Hylin can't see the top, but the bottom is visible from the little crack in the skirting that they slip out through. Everything in the Empty is lit green, by some light that casts deep shadows. It's scary, but they venture out.

The base of the monolith turns out to be inset, forming a space about the height of a Hylin standing on their back legs, with an overhang above. Although the outside of the structure is some sort of hard shiny plastic, the underside of the overhang is wood!

Lozenge immediately sets about trying to gnaw through ... that doesn't work so well. Not only does she not make a lot of progress (it will take weeks) but the noise attracts a roving rat, which has emerged to look for food. The four Hylin cower in a corner, paws over their noses, till it passes.

Plan B involves climbing the side. It's too slippery for paws, and too tall to jump, but they reckon that Cobalt's snail — D'artagnan — could haul a rope up, if they had one. They retire to the between to look for materials, and manage to scounge up some wire, and some strips of discarded plastic insulation from a Burning Line. With these they tinker up a long rope and a grappling hook made from a paperclip. It won't stretch the whole way, maybe, but most of it.

D'artagnan isn't all that smart, so Lozenge volunteers to ride him up. It's starting to get close to morning, but they don't want to give up, so they return to the Empty and set the snail on its way. The ascent isn't that easy (Lozenge falls once), but eventually she reaches a huge opening in the side of the monolith. Inside is a metal lining, dropping away below. Lozenge hooks up the rope and drops down into what seems to be a vast metal chamber. It smells of old food, and there are scraps of bread there that she can't resist eating!

Outside, the lights come on! The other Hylin shout for Lozenge, and then run for cover. Inside, Lozenge tries to find the rope, but she can't! She runs around in a panic, leaping up the walls and exhausting herself, but it's no good, she's trapped! A few minutes later an Eater enters and opens the monolith from above before dropping some sort of vast black Thing on Lozenge's head!

Panicing even more, Lozenge gnaws a hole in the black plastic and finds herself inside. Soon other Eaters enter, and start to drop food on her head!

Watchers in the Walls

The others know Lozenge is trapped, but there is no way they can help. Placeholder finds a vantage point further up the vertical to watch from, and the rest troop disconsolately back to the nest.

Placeholder keeps watch all day, snoozing when she can. Eventually, after a whole day, the Eaters pull the black bag out of the monolith and take it away towards the far reaches of Can-Teen. She runs to the nest and informs the others, who organise a rescue mission (without Squab). They head out along the verticals to the far end of Can-Teen, where they discover that they can slip through holes in the bricks to the place called Silver Pillars, where metal pillars support a metal roof over a floor covered in crumbs and fat. Beyond is the open floor of more Empty.

The Rescue

The Eaters carry their rubbish sack out of the back of Fac-Tory and dump it in a gigantic black container. Lozenge crawls out, but is stuck in the bottom, too tired to get to the top. As she ponders the problem, she spots movement, a strange Hylin is making its way along the rim of the bin.

Lozenge calls out for help, but the stranger is wary. He claims to be from Rubble Tribe, but Lozenge isn't convinced. Nevertheless she accepts an offer of help out in return for handing over the food she has on her.

The stranger says he saw Lozenge be thrown away. Once that happens, he says, she can never return to the Between. She is an exile now, and must stay here Outside. Lozenge refuses to believe this, and insists on being shown the way back to Facc-Tory. The stranger gives her a direction, but it's a lie. When she follows him — down a heap of rubbish and bricks — and heads away, she finds a huge vertical, so full of holes that it barely exists, with many plants on the other side, and beyond them some sort of flat black surface ...

Meanwhile, the others have crossed the Silver Pillars, tracking the scent of the black bag. It leads to the back of the Empty, where a narrow gap leads Outside. Mastering their fear (not without yet more Afraid Damage) they venture out, but soon lose their way. They don't know where the bag went, and don't dare cry out in case some Eater Beast hears them. They head towards a dark shape, and a bright light flashes out, blinding them! Luckily Lozenge sees the light, and scurries back to them, incredibly relieved to see her friends.

They all hurry home as fast as they can!

End of Summer

Although the adventure didn't secure access to food, it was a fine piece of exploration, so it increases their Territory score by 2. They allocate their Tribe Dice to Food and Nest and manage two successes on each.

Scores, end of Summer:



  • This was a very improvised adventure, but the Trouble and Test systems held up well, and it was easy to improvise the encounters.
  • It was hard to properly persuade the players that the Outside was suitably terrifying. I am not sure if I should have had a Penalty Dice alongside the Daring test, or maybe I should have scared them with an owl. An encounter like that would likely have killed them, though.

January 26th — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Eleven

Year Three, Winter

It's the first session of the new year, and I seem to have skipped a session ... ooops! Also I lost a player (Robyn moved to another game) and gained two more — Luca and Jamie (a different Jamie). As a result much of this session was spent on character creation for the two new characters, and catching up for the rest of the players. As well as checking out the Winter season results, which lead to Husk and Tribble having a kit!

A new face

It's early in the Winter of Year Three, the first Xmaz spent in the new Canteen nest, and the council is divided on exactly how to respond to the Black Seer's challenge. Should they concentrate on expanding the nest, or go in search of new resources, or make some sort of treaty with a neighbouring tribe — or even flee Canteen and the ghost's challenge!

As the discussions progress, a strange Hylin appears at the edge of the nest, a Many Rivers-mouse calling himself Rivet (played by Luca). It appears that Rivet is the first Hylin to actually seek out the Eleventh Tribe and apply for membership. There's a quick vote to approve his membership, it's largely a formality, but the voting doesn't stop there.

For self, or for tribe?

Tribble, it seems, has been brooding about the nature of the Tribe after the events of the Winter. He is convinced that it must pull together to meet the Seer's challenge. It isn't enough to just look out for yourself, no matter what Husk might say. The Tribe needs a new rule, ensuring that each tribe-mouse is compelled to look after the others. Basically, he wants the Eleventh to be a comune, where part of everymouse's labour is for the Tribe, not just for mouse-self.

Many of the Tribe agree, but some do not — especially Husk, but also Bone and Feather. Tribble goes into his usual campaign mode, attempting to persuade the others to his way of thinking, while meeting some unexpected resistance from Cobalt, and also Loop (who was being played by the new Jamie). Loop has started to have visions based on the sacred writings from the Far Up machine, and isn't certain that Tribble has the best vision for the Tribe. Rivet, keen to fit in, tries campaigning for Tribble, but only ends up annoying people. As a result, perhaps, the vote is tied, and Tribble has to appeal to the ghost of Paperclip ... who agrees with him.

Long live the Commune of Canteen!

The Death of Tribble
The Death of Tribble

February 2nd — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Twelve

Year Three, Spring


It is the start of the new year, the year that the tribe have been given to flourish by the Black Seer. Many plans are proposed: building fungi gardens, exploring the depths of the between, fighting the rats, travelling to rubble, or offcut. In the end it is agreed that a trade mission would be the best plan, exchanging the food that The Eleventh Tribe has in quantity (thanks to the exploration of the bin) for the scraps and other materials that it lacks.

This is not simply to be a single trade caravan, but the establishment of a new route, that will also strengthen the ties that they have with the rest of the 10 tribes. There are a number of possible destinations, but Tangle emerges as the top choice, since multiple mice originate from there, and it is within easy reach.


Before the expedition can begin, Squab and a number of other yearlings come rushing into the nest to announce that they have come across the most massive piece of food left by the Eaters! It's already attracting beetles and flies, though, so they need everyone to come and shift it.

A good portion of the tribe scurry to the camp level (where the tribe first rested on arriving at Canteen), and discover a huge piece of meat — pale, with rough skin, and a bone running through it — wedged near the edge of the between. A trail of beetle larvae and bluebottles are already swarming over it. While everyone contemplates this bounty, Loop goes to the edge of the empty in search of visions.

It's clear that everyone can eat their fill (some of the youngsters eat so much they can barely move), or fill their packs, but the players have a mre grandiose plan to transport the entire thing to the nest. Rivet proposes that he and Cobalt tinker something, but Cobalt refuses to be upstaged by a newcomer and insists on creating his own invention, with the result that neither of them is finished when Loop comes tumbling back into the group squeaking that he's seen some sort of the beast in the empty!

There's panic and confusion, so that, even warned, the group aren't ready when a lithe, russet, but enormous eater beast darts into their midst. In an instant it has caught Tribble in its jaws and bitten him to death! Rivet fires his pistol at the creature, while Lozenge leaps into its jaws, trying to pry them apart and wedge his spear in the gap! His ploy fails, but at least they dislodge Tribble's body.

Placeholder and Loop rally the other tribesmice into forming a makeshift spear-line, with the intention of driving the beast back, but it is focussed on it's meal, and they can't stop it snatching Tribble back by the tail and running off with him in its mouth!

During this conflict Tribble died twice — saved by successes the first time, and by luck the second time — and only a single point of damage was inflicted on the weasel!

Aftermath of the Beast — Asphalt!

The Tribe abbandons the food and flees back to the nest with their portions of meat, all except Husk, who insists that no one gets to kill Tribble but her! She goes in search of his body, and amazingly returns with Tribble alive, though greatly injured.

He tells a strange story: the beast carried him into the Empty, but met two strange Hylin there who seemed to be able to control it. These Hylin seemed unhappy to have caught the wrong mouse, though pleased that the 11th Tribe were close. They contemplated eating Tribble, but decided to abbandon him to fate and keep moving. There can only be one conclusion, these are Asphalt mice!

Loop says that he has seen a beast like this before — years ago he was bitten by one, and thus gained his seer's vision. He calls it a slither-beast and convinces everyone that they must prepare defences against it. Slither-beasts can be confused by mazes, it seems, and also travel low to the ground, so would be bothered by sticky obstacles. The tribe decides to build a sticky glue maze, blocking the approach to the nest.

Tribble, meanwhile, slowly recovering, forces himself over every detail of his encounter with the Asphalt mice, trying to remember something else that might help him. In one of these feverish vision sessions he encounters the spirit of the Black Seer, who takes him back to the place of his death and allows him to see the Asphalt mice properly. He tells Tribble that he has information on the cannibals that might be useful, and Tribble agrees to go to the ghost nest in the summer and stay there for a season (originally the seer wanted Lozenge's kit for half the year, but Tribble offered himself instead) in return. The seer reveals that the Asphalt tribe worships death, and must be working for it.


A few weeks later, when everyone is recovered, the expedition to Tangle sets out, with their packs full of food samples. Although there is a reasonably obvious route to reach Tangle, it passes through Stationary, so the group takes a riskier route across the bottom level of Factori, amongst the feet of the giant Eater Beasts that fill the main part of the structure. (Although Dusty is with the group, his player is not). Tribble does his best to guide the group back to his old home, but they are soon lost amongst the giant beasts, afraid to show themselves in case they are devoured, and running low on water.

Luckily they run into a Waykeeper from Carpet Tile named Underlay, who mistakes them for Stationary mice. Underlay is on her way to Offcut, and happily shares a little of her supplies, as well as directions to a place where she believes they can climb up to Tangle.


  • The fight with the weasel went terrifyingly well, in the sense that the weasel was terrifying and not something the group could easily defeat. Although it was statted to be much less dangerous than the cat in the previous campaign, (or even the rat champion) this group isn't full of over-optimised fighters.
  • The "save from death" rules needed to be revisited. It was clear that, although 3 Luck is a significant cost, there was something wrong with the concept of using it endlessly to save the same character — it stops feeling like luck and starts feeling like invulnerability. Each brush with death does add 1 Mortality to the character, but that just makes it more likely to die offscreen in winter, which is unsatisfying. We agree to try the rule that the cost of the "save" goes from3 Luck to 2 + Mortality Luck, so the first save is easier, but as the shadow of death closes in on you it gets harder and harder to escape fate.

February 9th — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Thirteen

Year Three, Spring

This session was missing the players of both Placeholder and Lozenge, but saw the return of Dusty

To Tangle

Parting ways with Underlay, the Eleventh Tribe expedition continues to try and find a route to Tangle, which is so high above their heads that they cannot even see it, but their bad luck continues. Even with Underlay's directions they wander for a day or more, only stopping at one point to feast on crumbs dropped by an Eater. Everyone is exhausted, even more so when they finally reach their route up — a vertiginous metal grid, filled with burning lines, that runs from the bottom level to the middle. Nevertheless they all scramble up, Tangle at last!

Tangle is the name the Hylin give to a mess of conduits, bundles of burning lines, junction boxes and cable-guides that hang in the middle of the empty above the main part of Factori. There is no level proper, just a web of passages and exposed routes that exist above the lights the Eaters use. As a result Tangle is made up of many individual nests (or labs) each run by a Master Tinkerer, and containing a dozen or so Hylin. Although the nests are linked by the various ways of Tangle, and trade constantly passes between them, each Master jelously guards their own inventions, especially the ones that gave them Master status, and co-operates with their fellows as seldomly as possible. Making a trade deal will require courting the favour of multiple Masters.

A complex history

The following history emerged in play in dribs and drabs:

Four or Five years ago, Tribble — then a young mouse — trained under a Master called Fibre, whose great invention was the Lightning Canon, a huge fixed device that dominated his lab. While there, Tribble had a daughter called Leckie. When Tribble decided to go and seek a mystic life elsewhere, he left Leckie behind.

Less than a year after he left, Fibre died when an experiment with the canon went wrong. He was succeeded by Volta, the best of his students. Volta took new students of her own, including Leckie and, later, Rivet. Although both Leckie and Rivet were gifted tinkerers, Volta was young, and it didn't look likely that either might succeed her any time soon (barring accidents). Rivet decided to leave and seek out the 11th Tribe, but Leckie — apparently — stole the plans to the Lightning Canon and defected to another Master, Arc-Fault, taking the secret with her. As a result, Volta branded her a traitor and Arc-Fault an enemy (though to be fair, Arc-Fault was already a rival), along with anyone associated with her!

Sadly for the group, neither Rivet nor Tribble currently know about Leckie's betrayal ...


At the top of their exhausting climb the group meet a wandering Hylin, Corona, who appears to be looking for a device she dropped. She is small, maybe two, with a complex lens aparatus perched on her head. As it happens Dusty found something odd — like three tiny gears welded together — at the bottom of the climb. It is Corona's missing invention, the Gearinator 2000, and she seems glad to get it back.

Corona turns out to be one of Volta's Junior-Junior Apprentices, and she happily guides them to the nearby nest, which is built inside a junction box. The smell of ozone fills the air, along with the crackle and pop of live current meeting the hanks of paper and lint that the Hyling have stuffed into the box. Looking up, they look directly through the workings of the Lightning Canon, which takes up much of the space.

Corona takes the visitors to her burrow, and they meet the other Junior-Junior, Caution, who is obsessed with measuring heads to see if there is variation between them. She wants a head from every Tribe — the group do not promise them. Both Juniors, on learning that they plan to speak to Volta, beg for the players to talk-up their projects so that Volta might promote them to Junior. Tribble and Rivet persuade Corona that her Gearinator 2000 doesn't do anything, and it turns out she knows it, it was why she threw it over the edge. Disconsolate she claims that she has nothing else, but it turns out (when the players ask) that she has a whole bunch of lenses like the one on her head, which they tell her are far better inventions. She lends Loop one of them — the Farsighter — for him to field test, and he uses it to stare into the void below Tangle, which both feels mystical, and helps him spy a better route back to Canteen. (+1 Dice on route finding).

The group climbs the nest to find Volta, a frenetic mouse who can't stop working (on things that sizzle and flash) while she talks. Although she knows both Tribble and Rivet she doesn't trust either of them after the Leckie incident — which is the first Tribble knows about it. Luckily, despite the group's exhaustion (and Tribble shocking himself on a piece of equipment) they manage to persuade Volta not to shoot them with the cannon, and instead to listen to their proposal. She does — distractedly — but then tells them that she won't consider their otherwise interesting trade deal until they go to Arc-Fault, get the plans for her canon and "deal with" Leckie.

Mechanical digression; to complete their trade deal the players need three things:

  1. A scouted trade route between the nests
  2. The agreement of at least 4 masters
  3. Seven successes from negotiation or side-quest scenes

Solving the Leckie situation will give them both a success and Volta's agreement, so the group agree to her demands.

Interlude for Rest

Although the group would love to move on from Volta's slightly frosty welcome as soon as possible, they are just too exhausted and injured to do so, so they abuse her hospitality for a few days while they recover. Rivet uses the time to dismantle the Gearinator 2000 for useful parts, while Tribble goes in search of some remains of his old master Fibre. He learns that some bits are in a box held by Volta's assistant, but he fails to persuade him to hand them over.

The Hub

The easiest route to reach Arc-Fault's nest involves first travelling to the Hub, a junction point where all of the parts of Tangle meet. From the Hub they can travel to the nest of Copper, and from there to Arc-Fault's.

The Hub is run by Nominal, a Master whose signature invention no one seems to be able to describe. It is a huge echoing vertical, broken every dozen body-lengths by a ring of metal connected to the edge of the vertical by metal spokes and supporting huge bundles of burning lines that run the entire height of the vertical. The Hub nest is supported on a half-dozen of these rings, with the entrances at the top and Nominal's lab at the very bottom.

Because the Hub is the centre of the various nests, it is used to visitors, and it seems word of the expedition have arrived before them in any case. The group find that the top level of the nest has a place where visitors can get food and sleep (sort of an inn). Here they ask about Nominal's inventions, but even the mouse who runs the rest-place doesn't seem to know what they are, only that she showed them to the other Masters and they all agreed that she was one of them. The party suspect dark things!

They agree that they should try and talk to Nominal while they are here, but they are interrupted by a supercillious mouse — Apparent — who appears to be Nominal's assistant (though he says he works with Nominal, not for her), and who seems determined to block them. He says that Tangle knows all about the renegade 11th Tribe, and that the best they can do is wait here while he petitions on their behalf. Naturally the players distrust him completely and decide to break into the lab when he's gone, in case Nominal is a prisoner, or indeed long dead.


  • We had a discussion about the role of Rests in an adventure without a strict timeline. If there is no time-limit, there is infinite healing. I concluded that the best thing was to treat Rests like Fronts in Apocalypse Worlds, and create a list of what happens in the background as the number of rests increases. E.g. after 1 Rest word of the party's presence spreads, after 3 it has reached all the nests, and so forth.
  • After the session I realised that the players had forgotten (or I had failed to make clear) that they could just use Luck to heal, which would have significantly changed how difficult their negotiation with Volta felt.

February 23rd — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Fourteen

Year Three, Spring

The Hub

After their encounter with Apparent, the group becomes all the more determined to speak with Nominal. They entertain the idea that Nominal is Apparent's prisoner, or dead, or an invention. Despite the fact that no one in the caravanserai (as they have taken to calling the top level of the next) has a bad word to say about Apparent, they decide that he is their enemy.

While most of the group take the chance to rest, trading for food and stuff collected by the Hub's scroungers, Tribble makes his way laboriously down the levels of the nest to reach Nominal's lab. It's oval — bean shaped — with metal struts running through it. A single bundle of cables reaches down to what Tribble learns is called a door, a moving panel of metal that blocks entry into the lab. There's no clear way in. Loop, meanwhile, uses his lenses to study the place from the outside, and realises that part of it can be detached and lowered down the vertical on a cable. He also spots a river, which cuts through the vertical just above the lab. It's the only place in the vertical close to water.

Placeholder takes quite a different tack. Spotting Apparent going about an errand she offers to help him. He's a little wary at first, but she paints herself as his equivalent — Tribble's aide. It turns out that Apparent is overworked and overstressed, trying his best to cope with Nominal's demands on his own. She seldom comes out of her lab, always busy, so Apparent has to do all the work. Placeholder chums him around the nest, carrying things, and ends up at the lab, where he lets her in through the door so that she can lug packages for him. She hears the gurgle and splash of something watery from further inside, but doesn't take the risk of having a look.

Back in their temporary burrow, Placeholder assures Tribble that Apparent isn't evil. Likely Nominal doesn't really know why they are here, and has heard all the usual propaganda from Stationary — if she even knows that they are from the 11th. She may have refused to see them on that basis alone. Tribble is persuaded to compose an actual message to Nominal, explaining why they want to see her, and give it to Apparent.

Rumours of Xerox

While they wait for a reply, they investigate the Hub more. It's clear that this would be a good place to trade through, it's already the practice of the caravanserai to ask for a proportion of everything traded through it, to cover the needs of visitors. Indeed some of the 11th end up doing some basic chores around the place to help ease the burden of looking after them. While they are doing so, they hear rumours of a mouse called Xerox a fixer for Stationary, who is dispatched when a problem needs to be dealt with. The players agree that they would rather be gone before Xerox hears that they are in Tangle.

Meeting Nominal

After a day or two, a reply comes from Nominal, she will see them after all. Half the party travel down to the lab (this time without sneaking) and are let in by Apparent. Nominal meets them in a small burrow, though it's clear that she's always got an ear on whatever it is that is gurgling next door. (Rivet really wants to know what it is.

Nominal turns out to be a very reasonable mouse, without anything like the madness that Volta showed. She understands the concept of trade, and is open to it, especially after the 11th offer to pay the usual fees on anything passing through the Hub. She suggests a condition of her own, that whatever route this trade takes across Fac'Tory it should enter Tangle at the Hub. Once the players agree, the deal is done, and Nominal is their first confirmed vote.

The trade deal is why they've come, but Rivet wants to know what Nominal's invention really is. He manages to appeal to her inventor's pride, and persuades her to let him see it. The invention turns out to take up most of the lab, it's a tangle of pipes, buckets, water, channels. Things fill, move, empty. Rivet is in awe of the scale of it, and even more so when Nominal explains what it is — a model of Tangle, showing the flow of trade, food, scraps, messengers. Basically, what we might call an analogue computer. With it, Nominal can anticipate the needs of all the nests, and keep them supplied. The Hub isn't just a crossing point, it's they key to supplying all of Tangle. They couldn't have made a better convert.

The Forge

The party have been in the Hub for many days, and the caravanserai is out of supplies, so the 11th decide to push on. Dusty's route takes them to The Forge, a small nest built on the dangling top of an industrial lighting fixture, where Copper smelts metals in the heat of the Eater device. Most of the tribe choose not to even try descending the pendulous cord, but a few go down. The Forge is small, cramped, and hot, barely big enough to hold the few mice that live there, and full of dangerous sparks and molten things. Copper, a middle-aged hylin with many burn scars, has no time or patience for visitors. Although Tribble raises the notion of trade, Copper has no interest in it — until Rivet suggests that Canteen has huge stockpiles of tin-foil that Copper could melt in his forge. This is a total lie, but Copper doesn't pick up on that. After some cut-throat haggling he agrees to vote for the trade agreement in return for two full packs of foil, delivered to his nest.

The 11th thank him, and leave quickly for somewhere less dangerous.


  • Much of this session was pure RP, without needing to engage much of the systems, but I think this was okay. We had a few Charm + Persuading rolls, and some Wits + Sensing.

March 1st — The Eleventh Tribe, Session Fifteen

Year Three, Spring

This session was missing the players of Placeholder, Tribble, and Dusty

The Knot

Having concluded their business with Copper, the 11th Tribe emissaries make their way from the Forge to the domain of Arc-FaultThe Knot.

The Knot is not really a nest, but a web of heavy skeins of burning lines and cables — bundles of them tied together with wire — crossing and knotting around each other. Hylins make little burrows in amongst the wires, suspended over the sheer drop, it's a precarious and tenuous place, with few big spaces suitable for a meeting. For that reason Placeholder and Dusty wait at the end of the conduit from the Forge, while the others go in search of Leckie.

The party stumble (literally) across a pair of Hylin sisters, the tiny Socket and large Relay. Socket offers to lead them to Leckie, who is conducting experiments for Arc-Fault, but Relay insists that they should go and see the Master Tinkerer first, since they are strangers. Rivet blinds her with dubious logic, persuading her (at least for a moment) that, since they have already met the sisters, it doesn't matter who they meet first any more. While Relay puzzles over the reasonableness of this they others scurry off with Socket.

The Burning Voice

Leckie is a little distance away, working on some sort of web of burning lines that she's spliced together. It's obvious to Rivet that this is work in progress. Tribble worries that Leckie won't even recognise him, its been so many years, but Leckie has a picture of him in a locket that she treasures (Lozenge's player spent a luck on this fact) and she recognises him at once, and Rivet too.

Although Leckie is initially a little suspicious of Rivet's motives ("Did Volta send you here to ... kill me?") she is quickly persuaded that her father and friend are there to help her. Reassured, Leckie explains the secret to her masterwork. While working with Volta's Lightning Canon she came to realise that the energy in the burning lines carried some sort of symbol, what she calls the Burning Voice, the voice of the Eaters. It gave her the idea that it might be possible to send your own message along a Burning Line, if you had sufficient power and could make and break the connection. It was this that made her steal the canon plans and go to Arc-Fault. She was sure that Volta would work out what she was doing and steal her invention, whereas the ageing Arc-Fault would be easier to fool. Unfortunately she's come to realise that she needs capacitors like the ones Volta has — one at each end of the connection. Without these she can do nothing!

Tribble explains what the 11th are doing in Tangle, and she immediately suggests that if they help her get some capacitors, and then set up her invention at both ends of a burning line, then the proof of a signal will instantly guarantee her a Mastership. Then she can give them her vote! Of course, it may mean stealing the capacitors from Volta ...

Rivet suggests that they could trade for them instead, perhaps from Plug, another Master. But first they should speak to Arc-Fault.

Arc-Fault? Leckie says — but don't they know that Xerox, the fixer from Stationary, is here, in the Knot, with half a dozen guardmice! She arrived the previous day, looking for the 11th Tribe, and is with Arc-Fault right now!


Although Rivet favours simply grabbing the others and making for Plug's nest right now, the others want to know what Xerox is doing, and what she wants. They decide that Rivet and Loop — neither of whom are well known members of the 11th — should go to Arc-Fault's lab with Leckie and see if they can't overhear something of interest. Lozenge, too recognisable to go openly, decides to follow covertly.

The plan is quickly put into action, and seems initially to be going well: Leckie, Rivet, and Loop do a solid impression of flunkies performing an experiment, and get to overhear Xerox insisting that Arc-Fault help her find Leckie, who she believes is connected to Tribble of the "Canteen outcasts". A couple of Stationary guardmice lounge nearby, well armed, but not paying attention to the tinkerers.

Sadly, they do spot Lozenge sneaking along a bundle of wires overhead, as do another four guardmice who are on the second swag of wires. The guardmice surprise Lozenge and manage to pin her down by her paws, but she breaks free. Loop, seeing this from below, can't help but cry out, attracting Xerox's attention. Before she can act, Rivet pulls his pistol and levels it at her, demanding that everybody freeze, or he will shoot Xerox! The guards on the lower level freeze, but the ones overhead lose their grip on Lozenge, who knocks one right off the strand, and leaves another hnaging! Luckily the Stationary mouse falls safely to the bundle below.

Xerox tells Rivet to put the gun down, and her force of will is so strong that he almost does it, but he regains his courage and keeps the gun (shakily) aimed. She tells them: "There's no need for this, I just want to speak to you." Rivet lowers the gun, and they agree to talk. Lozenge even goes so far as to haul up the dangling stationary mouse.

The 11th Tribe?

Xerox makes it plain, there can't be an 11th Tribe; the treaty of the ten tribes can't be changed, because their whole society would collapse. She has a different offer — Canteen can become a subsidiary part of Stationary. Semi-autonomous. Tribble could be a Secretary, and perhaps the remaining Clippies could be transferred from Carpet Tile to Canteen. It's an expedient offer, designed to find a way out of the confrontation between tribes; naturally Lozenge hates it. Lozenge insists that Xerox must know that the treaty has Canteen as a member instead of Carpet Tile, but is confused to discover that Xerox seriously believes that this is not the case. They realise that the original treaty must have been altered in the past, but Xerox insists that this is impossible, though she is reluctant to say why.

Loop tries her to persuade her to open up, pointing out that they have to resolve this impasse somehow. Eventually Xerox agrees. She tells them that she is certain that the treaty can't have been altered because it was written — somehow — by the Eaters themselves! The treaty is written on a series of paper strips, on which special mystical symbols are embossed into the paper. It's not something a Hylin could do, ergo, the treaty must be genuine.

"Symbols like these?" Loop asks, producing the fragments of paper tape produced by the Eater Beast in the far up (back in session six).

Xerox is, for the first time, unsettled. If the device that produced the treaty exists, and the Canteen mice have access to it, they are incredibly dangerous. It's clear that she's torn between the desire to resolve the conflict, and to wipe out the 11th before they can tear down all of Fac'Tory! To her, the treaty is sacred. Lozenge chooses this moment to make a counter offer. They could choose to alter the treaty, removing Asphalt and replacing it with Canteen. Xerox is aghast! If they do that, the whole ten tribes will collapse. The only way they could do that is if all ten tries — including Asphalt — agreed! It's insane.

Instead, she begs them to accept her original offer. Lozenge refuses, but admits that he can't speak for the whole tribe. They come to an uneasy agreement, Lozenge will take her offer back to Canteen and give it a fair hearing to the Tribe as a whole. With little more to talk about (other than to ask after Placeholder), Xerox gathers her guardmice and leaves. Once she's gone Arc-Fault finally recovers his courage and tries to shock them all with one of his tinkered things, but Loop calms him down. It turns out that the old tinkerer is exhausted from the confrontation, and he insists that the party come back in the evening after he's had a lie down.

To Plug, or not to Plug

Rivet suggests that they could use this time themselves to go to Plug's nest and try to obtain the capacitors. Leckie says that they need to steal back the Lighting Canon plans, so that Arc-Fault doesn't work out what they are doing, but they agree that they won't do that yet. Instead Tribble and Leckie will stay here, to speak to Arc-Fault (and stop him getting suspicious), while the others go to see Plug.

Dusty tells them that there are two routes to Plug — a quick route through Breakers Nest that will take a few hours, or a long route that would take days. It seems obvious that they should take the short route, until Socket (whose been hanging around unnoticed the whole time) tells them that Breakers has been abandoned after some sort of disaster a few years ago. She doesn't know what the disaster was, but no one goes there now. The players decide to take the quick route anyway.


Dusty, Rivet, Loop, and Lozenge make their way along the dusty rope of wires that leads from the Knot to Breakers. A similar hank of wires runs alongside in parallel. They are nearing Breakers when suddenly a dart (actually a thorn) flies out of nowhere and buries itself only a whisker away from Lozenge's paw! There, on the other strand, is a hunting party of ash-grey mice, hunters from Asphalt! Even across the huge gap (a 9 dice obstacle) they can smell the scent of stale blood, and feel the aura of menace that surrounds the creatures. Dusty and Rivet panic and dash for the shelter of the empty nest ahead. Loop and Lozenge decide to try and take cover on the far side of the strand, but not before Lozenge is peppered with thorns and badly wounded. Loop makes it, but Lozenge is pinned down and hanging from the wires.

The Asphalt mice chase in pursuit. They have plenty of thorns, while Lozenge, Loop, and Dusty, have no ranged weapons at all. Rivet, however, has his pistol, and he bravely stands his ground and looses a shot at the hunters. Amazingly (he rolled all successes) the shot carries one of the cannibals straight off the wire and down down down into the churning machinery far below. The other hunters, wounded and shocked, take cover.

The party take the chance to run into Breakers — a big metal box full of racks of ceramic blocks and buzzing wires. Although they can see nothing, they can feel a breeze on their whiskers, and smell a stale dusty scent overlaid with mould. Dusty, who has been there before, tells them that there is an open central passage that leads to the nest, which is in the middle of the blocks, and then out the other side. It seems easy enough to follow this route by touch, but Lozenge smells something she has smelt before — the stench of death. She puts her paw down on something soft and fuzzy that sticks to her paw. It's a corpse, and something is stuck to her! (she takes 1 sick).

Lozenge, feeling unwell and uneasy, persuades Rivet to use the last of his firesticks to make a light. At once they see that they are surrounded by corpses, and that everything is covered in a thick layer of mould. Twisted stalks of fungi burst from the bodies, twisting out of their eye sockets and mouths! It's nest rot, and Lozenge is infected.

The Rot Ghosts

Lozenge wants to get out, now! But the route back would expose them to further attacks from the hunters, so the only way is forward. Loop, hoping that there are ghosts here that could aid him, produces the skull of an ancestor from his pack and invokes a vision. This is a bad idea. He sees at once that he is surrounded by ghosts, but that these are fungi ghosts! A collective evil animated by the nest rot! "Flee!" his ancestor tells him, "I can't help you here!". Loop sees the rot ghosts extend their mycelia into Lozenge, who at once grabs a handful of fungi and tries to thrust it down Rivet's throat! Rivet manages to fight him off — it helps that Lozenge is badly wounded and sick — and they flee the empty nest before more of them can be infected ...


  • I hesitated about whether to apply higher Danger for being in the open air of the Knot. In the end I decided not to do so, but it might have been better, it didn't feel quite precarious enough.
  • Plot-wise, things are starting to come together. I'd been waiting for an opportunity to reveal the structure of the Treaty for ages.
  • Although we didn't use the revised "save from death" rules, everyone was very aware that Tribble would cost 5 luck to save. It made them very nervous of letting him get into any danger, and that's a good thing. We had the sense that his "luck was running out", which is exactly right.