This week I read:
The Urth of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
Despite the name, much of the book takes place away from Urth, as the first part concerns Severian’s journey on the ship that sails between universes and times to reach Yesod, the planet of the Hierogrammates, to petition them for a New Sun. This bit is pure science-fantasy at its best, the “ship” is clearly a spaceship, but its sails and rigging catch the starlight, and everyone who works on deck wears a necklace that surrounds their head in an air bubble.
The other part of the book is about Severian back on Urth, in different times and places as the power of the New Sun gives him the ability to walk the Corridors of Time, though not with perfect control it seems. We learn the truth of a few mysteries (such as the origin of the Claw of the Conciliator), but more are introduced. The book definitely doesn’t make the mistake of explaining everything.
And that’s that. The next book in the Solar Cycle, The Book of the Long Sun, is in the same universe but following different characters. The Urth of the New Sun is an ending to the New Sun stories, and it’s a good one.
Murder on Arcturus Station continued this week, with the players getting about 10 hours of game-time done. It turns out you can do a lot with three characters parallelising their work where most tasks take an hour!
They’ve now interviewed all the suspects, found the murder victim’s secret files—which are full of his nefarious doings, eg blackmail material against several of the suspects—and managed to break through the reticence of two of the more taciturn suspects and so flesh out their timeline a good deal more.
They’ve even caught the actual murderer in a small lie (she claimed to have seen one of the other suspects approaching the victim’s room, at a time when that suspect has an alibi). But there’s also a clue apparently proving that the liar couldn’t be the actual murderer! Well, unless they discover that the murderer found a low-tech way to confuse the door access logs…
Since we’re coming up to the Christmas & New Year period, next weekend will likely be the last session until the 8th of January. I don’t think pausing a mystery for three weeks will work well, the players will forget things, so I’ve asked them to show up to next session with a plan: they now know all the suspects, they have a pretty clear picture of what happened on the night of the murder, they’ve ruled out some of the suspects completely: what evidence do they need for each of the others to either convict or exonerate them?
In unrelated news, I made a wonderful discovery on Friday. You see, I’ve been putting a lot of work into this campaign. The setting isn’t the standard Third Imperium, but most published adventures are set in that or a comparable place. There are some Traveller spinoffs in different settings, but they don’t really match the tone I’m going for either. So I’d kind of resigned myself to not having much in the way of published resources to draw upon. But on Friday I learned that the default setting of Traveller 4e is the late Long Night / early Third Imperium!
There’s a whole product line I can draw upon for inspiration!
This is great. I grabbed a few of the books from DriveThruRPG for cheap, and I’ve already got a bunch of directly useful ideas, advice, even whole adventures. I’ll be going through this all in more detail over the Christmas break, and start to bring it into upcoming sessions.
Advent of Code
Still with it, though I haven’t managed part 2 of today’s yet. It’s one of those puzzles where there’s a number theory trick you just need to recognise, as doing it the naive way is just infeasible. Never having studied number theory, I’m not so great at these. But I will give it a shot when I’ve got some time.