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.
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!
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.