Saturday, February 23, 2013

Melancholy of the Sea: The Second Dream

Once again I return to A Cat's Dream. Doing something a bit different tonight, I'm using 9 scenes, keeping the cat theme as I further explore Uriah's dreamscape.  This has been really fun so far, though I have a few issues with the system, things I'll address at the end of my narrative.

More after the jump!


A slow day at Uriah's clockshop. With not a single customer, he muses on the strange dream
he had the previous evening. For surely it could be nothing more.  As the door opens, its tiny
silver bells tinkling, Uriah looks up, only to see the same cat from before. With a start, he
gives chase, only to find himself tripping through his door, finding himself standing in the
small cathedral.

First Scene: Meet Friendly Townsfolk, Hope 1.

The creatures press around Uriah, his two newfound colleagues standing behind him.  "Newcomer." One of the creature speaks, its clay face framed with an idiot smile, "Hello newcomer!"

"H-hello?" Looking around,  Uriah looks down at a presence in his hand. Once again he holds
the pocket watch that the metal face tried to relieve him of. "Can... you help me?" He asks
of the crowd, "I don't...  what's going on?"

The elementals press around Uriah, guiding him to a seat in the cathedral.  From among them,
a gnarled old woman formed of various bits of metal junk shuffles forward, joints literally
creaking. an age since man has walked the

"You are not of this world." She croaks,  bolt-fingers clutching her cane. "It has been an
age beyond an age since Man has walked the Atelier..." Slowly, she explains the sad fate that
has bound the elementals to the ship. The creator elemental, Time herself, had been seized and
bound by one selfish human, a man who wished to defeat death, decay, the inevitable passage of time. To accomplish this, he bound Time to a mystical watch. Placing the watch into his workshop ship, he set it to travel the seas, safely away from those who would free time.  Such was the craftsmanship of the watch that simply destroying it would not free Time. Only when the end of days was struck by the watch, would she be free. Sadly, the watch is imperfect, and cannot strike the end of days. None within the Atelier have the knowledge or means to reforge the timepiece, cursing the world to remain eternally still.

Second Scene: I can do this! Resolve grows

"That's... horrible!" Uriah protests when the metal woman falls still. "How could one man be so selfish?!"

Looking down at the watch he holds, the clocksmith frowns, "I...  I build timepieces, in my home. Perhaps I can...I will help!"

"Ho?" The old woman boggles, "You?!" 

"Me!" Uriah nods, holding the heart to his breast. "... If I can."

Third Scene: Try interesting food Hope 1

Around Uriah, the creatures break into celebrating. A feast is declared, and Uriah is plied with
strange food, crafted from sealife gathered outside the Atelier and drawn from the Master Clocksmith's own pantry.

Invigorated by the meal, Uriah  seeks council from Baba, the old, metal, woman.

"Where can I find the tools to repair the watch?, Baba?"

"You must pass the Guardian of the Atelier. Soma tells me you have already fallen victim to his
wrath...  I will work my magic, disguising you as a metal man. Then, perhaps, you can sneak past..."

Fourth Scene: Disguise fails, fear challenge (I cheated here, using scene four to help fluff out scene 3.)
Result: Success (barely. Met the score).

After a bit of preparation, Baba Yaga works her magic, transforming Uriah into a man of metal, with one exception. His hair, a scruffy mess, remains unchanged. A frown, and Baba claps a metal pot down onto Uriah's head, covering his hair.

"There!" Looking pleased with herself, the woman makes shooing motions, "Off with you, a destiny awaits, Uriah."

Alone, the watch tucked into his breast pocket, Uriah returns to the guardian of the Atelier. A bit of dickering, and Uriah bows, letting the pot slip and showing a lock of his hair.

"You!" The Guardian booms.

"Me?" Uriah clamps his pot firmly atop his head, "I..." The watch in his pocket glows softly, its light strengthening Uriah.

"Me!" He affirms, "M-Move aside, Guardian! I have come to save Time!"

"You? Save time? Ha!" The Guardian smirks, then fades, revealing a door, "Try as you might, you will fail..." The guardian's voice echoes to a whisper as the door swings open, revealing a soft glow.

Fifth Scene: Ate something you shouldn't have

Uriah steps through the door, revealing a workshop laden with tools of all description, several he recognizes, more that he doesn't. As he sets about exploring the workshop, he hiccups. The strange meal plays poorly with Baba's magic!

Scene Six: Friend Disappears. Discard next strength card (since Uriah has no friends with him, assuming the watch)

Another hiccough, and in a flash, the watch is gone, Uriah's pocket is empty! A mad scramble as he searches for the watch, and Uriah drops down onto a stool. "Oh no..."

Scene Seven: Threat of Discovery: Fear Challenge (assuming the 'threat' comes from the antagonist, not entirely sure how to interpret otherwise). Fear Challenge (ouch)...
Result: Success! One point higher! (I actually cheered at this...)

"So!" Booms the disembodied voice of the Guardian, "Already you have failed!" Chortling, it continues, "Surrender, man. There is nothing you can do..."

"No..."  Uriah sighs, "It can't... I won't believe you!  I'll find her, I'll find time and I'll set her free!" Standing from his stool, he looks around, then sets off.

Scene Eight: Running on unsafe path Hope 5:
Result: Failure! (Not gonna Try Again this time. Suits the scene better).

Exiting the workshop through a side door, Uriah finds himself navigating a maintenance corridor for the Atelier. The corridor eventually leads to an open chamber between hull and hall, a light at the other end of the chamber draws Uriah on. He darts across the narrow catwalk, only to slip and fall.

Scene Nine: A friend shows you the way!

Tumbling head over heels,  Uriah is caught by Soma, the amber hound.  "Undone!" the thing  chides sternly, bearing Uriah on its back.  Uriah starts to respond when Soma lands on a catwalk below, jolting the clockmaker.

Uriah jolts awake, hand having slipped from beneath his head. Once again he is in his home, this time leaning on his counter, head previously propped on his fist.

So, thoughts.  I've yet to really see the use of Strength, except  in Fear challenges.   Try Again seems too forgiving, despite its intended purpose, and, in a similar vein,  Out of Cards seems useless. While I haven't played the full 15 scene framework (9 actually feels like the sweet spot, after playtesting further.) I've never once come close to running out of cards.  A bit of tweaking is in order there. Tomorrow, I'll consider some changes that might make the game flow better, and present them to Mr. Abad.

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