Game: Aether Sea (FAE)
Adventure: It’s Only an Elven Moon
Session: Zero
Players: 4
Gameplay Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 5.5 hours

Session Zero Continued…

Three and a half hours later, AKA how not to introduce players to Fate, my player’s characters were (mostly) made and we were ready to begin. To be fair, we were eating, drinking, talking about things other than Fate, and doing some careful character construction during that time. Even still I should have gotten them going quicker. To counter my counter point I am extremely proud of the characters they came up with. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what they’d come up with before the session began.

I was wrong.

Warning: This post contains minor It’s Only an Elven Moon spoilers. Players proceed at your own risk.

The Crew and Their Ship

Freemont Cole – A saucy, dishonored war hero human pilot and the ship’s ceremonial captain. There’s not a button he won’t press to solve a problem. Given his Flair for the Dramatic, this ought to go well for them.

Xantharian Elderroot – An elvish tinkering arcane mechanic. Now that he’s an Estranged Magical Research Division SCU Agent, he’ll need all the cleverness he’s got. Or a toothpick and soup can lid.

Daphne Fle…nderson – A run away Duchess from House Fletcher, this Sheltered from the Aether girl is about to go on a big adventure as the ship’s medic.

Pizza Muffin – He may be a Tight-Lipped Cook, but this troll is actually ex-special forces. If you ask him about his time in the military, he was “just a cook.” His current weapon of choice happens to be a soup can.

The Resurgence – This quick and sneaky Repurposed Interceptor ship has got it where it counts. In scrap maybe. Maybe its new crew can breathe life into its rusty hull.

A Different Start to a Familiar Story

Many session zeros stop after the system info dump and character creation. Traditionally it takes awhile, so I can see why. To my players credit, they wanted to keep at it and see what the aether had in store for them.

If you are familiar with the beginning of It’s Only an Elven Moon you know it begins with them already on a job, traveling to meet someone. My players were coming from D&D and I know they enjoyed a bit of combat, so…

Finn’s Prairie

Jebediah Finn was a farmer. Or so he’d like you to believe. The fact that he claimed and named three planets, their capital city, and the stretch of space they were in after himself should tell you something.

Finn Prime, the capital planet of the three agricultural production planets known as Finn’s Prairie, has the only bustling city–Finn City–for any stretch of aether. The other two planets, Finn Two and Finn Three, only contain farms and shipping ports. Off in one direction you have the Red Corridor, a whole lot of nothin’, and then the Annular Necrocracy. Off in the other directions you have lawless, or at least Royaless, planets. Being on the edge of Royal space has its perks. You’re just far enough out that the Royals don’t pay too much attention to you, but you can still apply for a few good annual tax credits. Given its position, Finn’s Prairie is a unique ecosystem of Royal and black market operations.

The crew had just finished fixing up their brand new ship. Or, you know, newish. Okay, not really new. It was…well used. And mostly defunct. But it was the only one they could afford. Okay, they couldn’t actually afford it either. They were a new crew and even after pooling all of their money together they still had to take out a loan. Which is how they came to starting out their new adventures together with their third and most generous resource box marked off. It’s also how they were “invited” to a sit-down with a local “business man” named Big Oz.

Had the crew known they were actually taking money from Big Oz they might have sought out other options. Honestly, they should have known better. Every loan shark on Finn Prime goes back to Big Oz in one way or another. Same with every other crime and a good amount of legitimate businesses as well. Big Oz was the big player and Finn Prime was his home.

The crew knew about Big Oz, but had never seen or met him before. Oddly enough, no one seemed interested in mentioning what the man even looked like. Needless to say, when the crew was invited to his place of business they knew they’d better go. Besides, with an incentive like We Owe Big Oz Big Money, how could they refuse?

Meeting Big Oz

The first thing the crew noticed when they walked up to the building Big Oz called home was how out of place it was. They certainly weren’t in a poor part of town, but, even still, this house looked like it should have been sitting right next to Finn Park (see what I mean, the man liked himself). The timbers and exterior work of the house were all hand carved and of an intricate design that screamed Dwarves. The massive oaken door in the front screamed something else entirely. Where the other houses and doors on the street stood at average folk height, this door towered above all who stood before it. Except, of course, Pizza Muffin who thought the door looked just the right size.

A knock on the massive door made it instantly clear that its size was not limited to height, but extended to depth as well. An even heavier knock was required to summon someone from within.

An eyehole hatch slid open and a set of irritated troll eyes peered out. Seeing only Pizza Muffin at his eye level, he growled in agitation.

“Go away,” he grumbled and slid the hatch closed again. The crew looked back and forth at each other for a moment and knocked again. Once more the troll opened the hatch and peered out.

“We have an appointment with Big Oz.”

“You should have said so the first time,” the troll lamented and shut the hatch for a final time. With a groan and a creak, the massive oaken door opened up. Their suspicions were confirmed. It was a massively thick door. Good job team.

The first thing everyone noticed was how big everything was. The ceilings were vaulted and the interior looked bigger than even the exterior led them to believe. A single room took up the majority of the building with only another single door in the back behind a single, giant wooden desk and a single, giant chair facing away from the room itself. The walls were lined with shelves holding all sorts of treasures and collectables. The room was massive enough to make the four troll bodyguards patrolling the room (and Pizza Muffin) look normal sized. All four trolls were dressed in black, immaculately tailored suits.

Freemont wanted a closer look at the collections, but was immediately stopped by one of troll guards.

“No touching. Sit.” He pointed at the table, where four chairs had been produced for them. Once seated, the troll moved around behind the desk and rapped twice on the door before taking up a calculated position beside it. With another loud creak, this door–also massive–opened, seemingly on its own. For a long moment nothing seemed to happen. They couldn’t see much past the large chair behind the desk, but what they could see…looked like another large empty room. With no one in it.

That is, until they heard the scuffling of feet, an efforted grunt, and watched the chair bounce slightly as something landed in it. The motion caused the chair to swivel around to face them, allowing the crew to finally put eyes on Big Oz.

The little goblin.

Finally, a Job

“Welcome! Welcome! What can I do for you?” Big Oz grinned as he welcomed them enthusiastically and as if he really didn’t know why they were all here. Oz looked especially tiny, given the largeness of everything around him. He was in fact, just the right size for a goblin, albeit the only one any of them had seen with access to a good tailor. He looked every bit the “Legitimate” Business Goblin he was, white collared shirt, black vest, gold watch chain and all.

“Uh…you…asked us to come here? You said you had a job for us?” Freemont cautiously asked Oz, still a little thrown the criminal mastermind on Finn Prime was actually a goblin. Goblins were still scraping themselves along as independent folk, most of them still holding jobs that reflected servitude, and here Oz was running a criminal network.

“Ah yes, the crew of the…” Oz sifted through some papers as though he didn’t know exactly who they were, as though it weren’t obvious that he knew they knew he knew. “The crew of The Resurgence. Brand new crew too! Ready to set sail off into the aether sea on their very first job. How exciting, no?!”

“I am honored you came to Big Oz for your very first job!” The crew looked at each other. The knew very well they didn’t go to him by choice. They also knew, once again, he knew they didn’t come by choice. “It is easy job too. I give you cargo. You take cargo someplace else. You give cargo to someone else. You gets paid.” There was a short pause and Big Oz’s voice dropped a little. “I gets paid.”

“Where are we taking the cargo?”

“The Red Corridor, good meeting place, no?”

“What’s in the cargo?”

“Can’t tell you,” Oz quipped cheerfully.

“Who’s our contact?”

“Can’t tell you.”

“And after this our debt to you is paid?”

“You deliver the cargo, you get paid, you pay me. Not very smart is he?”

The crew looked at each other. They didn’t like it. This was clearly a shady deal and they were about to do the leg work.

“We’ll take the job,” Freemont said, regretting it almost instantly.

“Fantastic!” Oz clapped his hands, overjoyed – perhaps for the fact that he didn’t have to employ other methods to convince them to do the job. “My men will deliver the cargo to your ship post-haste! Good luck!” And without a further word to them Oz hopped down off his chair and disappeared back into the room from which he had come. Before any of them had time to ask any other questions of the criminal overlord they were ushered out of the building.

The crew walked back to their ship talking about what just happened. They were so engrossed in their conversation that all of them failed to notice the cargo hold door on their ship was Unlocked and Clearly Tampered With. And so, mid-conversation, the crew walked into the hold of their ship.

And right into four Khlenaki pirates stealing their shit.

Light Combat and a Story Thread for Later

“You’re not suppose to be back yet!” The leader of the thieving pirates snarled. He — no, no, it was a she…they think — looked genuinely surprised. In fact, all of the would-be-thieves did. This gave the crew time to react.

Freemont, the man of action he is, jumped to the side and began madly pressing buttons on a small control box near the side of the door. Getting lucky, more than anything, he released the clamps that held up a cargo crate. One of the orc’s went down underneath it, getting Pinned!

Xanth narrowed his eyes and –thanks to a misunderstanding of the rules–animated his sword straight into the lead Orc’s face. Or tried to anyway, it looked very cool. With a sweeping motion of his arm, the sword unsheathed itself and flew across the room to challenge the orc.

Unable to distract the orc enough, she was able to get a shot off at the group, lodging a bullet right into the largest target. Pizza Muffin. He did not like that.

What followed next was a veritable bit of chaos on everyone’s part. Daphne was able to dive for cover, but the only cover she could find was The Smallest Crate You’ve Ever Seen.  She did manage to shoot an orc with a tiny boot pistol, but it only pissed him off.

Xanth found Cover Behind a Crate while making his sword fight orcs from across the room.

Freemont kept Mashing Buttons and when that didn’t work, slipped into combat to help the very frightened and scared Daphne.

Which leaves us with Pizza Muffin. The “cook.” Both major highlights of the fight came from Pizza Muffin and only Xanth saw it happen. With Xanth’s sword engaging itself in front of the orc, Pizza Muffin charged forward and literally bitch slapped the sword into the chest of the lead orc. Could he have grabbed the sword out of the air and used it together with Xanth? Sure. But no, he bitch slapped into the Orc with GREAT success. The leader was instantly dropped to the floor, Bleeding Out.

At another point, Pizza Muffin was engaged with another orc when Xanth managed to disarm the orc’s pistol. Catching the pistol out of the air from his kneeling position on the floor (having been Brought to His Knees by a previous attack), he Fanned the Hammer point blank into orc. It just so happened the orc’s groin was at the other end. Or what used to be the orc’s groin, because after that attack it was more a Cloudy Mist of Testicles.

Once again, Xanth was the only one who witnessed their “cook” catch a pistol out of midair and blow away an orc’s groin.

The End of Combat and Beginning of their First Job

Combat drew to a close when the remaining orc that had not been taken out conceded, having finally overcome being Pinned only to his leader Bleeding Out, one of his friend’s Shot Down and the other’s Blown Away Groin. As the chaos settled, the crew finally had time to put a few things together. Khlenaki pirates didn’t tend to rob people in broad daylight in busy cities. And the leader orc had said, “You’re not suppose to be back yet” implying they had known the crew was going to be gone and were suppose to be gone for a certain amount of time.

Before Xanth was able to use some of the shifty skills he had picked up while being an SCU field agent, the local Finn Prime SecForce came onto the scene. Seeing no real problem with the crew dispatching some thieves on their own ship, the bodies were removed and no formal charges pressed. In fact, they were a little too nice about the whole thing.

The crew couldn’t dwell on it too long, because Big Oz’s men came by with their cargo and a timetable that required them to leave almost immediately. At long last, the crew would finally head off on their very first job. Gathered at the helm, Freemont flipped a few levers and punched a few buttons.

“Let’s do this,” Freemont exclaimed climatically and activated the lift controls. The ship rose into the air with a swelling of dust…and then crashed back into the landing bay.

“Shit, sorry, forgot to…okay, there we go.” Adjusting a few levers, Freemont commanded the ship to raise once more and flew off into the aether sea.

The True Beginning of It’s Only an Elven Moon and the End of Session Zero

The crew had some travel time, which they filled cleaning up the cargo bay and talking about what they knew of The Red Corridor. Other than the red star and some uninhabited planetoids, The Red Corridor was pretty much just empty space on the way to the next sector and The Annular Necrocracy. Which meant it was a great meeting place for shady deals. There was a whole lot of nothin’ and you didn’t need to exchange contact details. Your contact would be the only thing floating out there that wasn’t a space rock.

Which is why when the proximity alarm to alert them they were arriving at their destination went off, they could do nothing but stare at the scene before them.

Instead of a whole lot of nothin’…there was a whole lot of somethin’.

Over a dozen Royal Navy airships including the flagship The Royal Glory, a giant SCU station, another dozen or so Dwarven mining ships, and a whitefaced planetoid with single green splotch on it that made it look like an eye filled up their viewports. They were instantly hailed by The Royal Glory.

“This is Captain Glada Aetherborn Shipright of the Royal Glory. By mandate of the Royal Hegemony this sector has been declared high risk. You must be taken to a nearby station for processing. Stand by for vector coordinates.”

And so session zero ended.

Aether Sea Campaign – It’s Only An Elven Moon Series

  1. Session Zero (Part 1)
  2. Session Zero (Part 2)

If you’re interested in the custom character and ship sheets I made for Aether Sea, you can check them out on the Fate Materials post.

Featured image from jordangrimmer (DeviantArt)