The Search for the Temple of Sha’Ha

Camping up in Slide Canyon on Friday, we had some down time and so I ran a short, casual session of my very vague understanding of Fate Accelerated, further simplified from my only source of knowledge: GM Showcase. This is my favorite “system” to run when while driving or just lounging around in hammocks, and it can be easily adapted for any setting (I may need to buy some actual Fate Dice, rather than just using an app). Part of what I love about it (specifically the Labyrinth of Eternal Horror and also Knives variant) is that when a major aspect of the story is ridiculousness, I can take the players at their word without hesitation and just have things backfire in nonsensical ways. I hope that that comes through in this report. The characters were:

  • King Arthur III (RiS)
    • Powerful wizard
    • Frequently loses spell components and wands
    • Wears very colorful clothes
  • Gancho (EnS)
    • Courageous Swordsman
    • Afraid of Heights
    • Loves dramatic theme music for his fights
  • Alfred (KeS)
    • Desert Warrior Monk
    • Terrible at magic
    • Loses focus constantly

It began with only King Arthur III (KA3), walking the magical, way-shortening road in the sky with his trusting guardian, Gancho. As the fields and forests rushed by beneath them, they saw a wave in the road approach and, not having time to respond, were thrown from the road into a swamp.

KA3’s initial attempt to cast a flying spell resulted in him dropping the feather component in the mud and while they searched for it a pair of glowing red eyes scared them from the area. They arrived at some ruins and entered, still hoping to find a feather. They learned that the first building they entered was the home of a crotchety, old man who demanded they leave his safe place, as he didn’t trust them. They offered to cast a spell of protection for him and give them their bowl of infinite food and water, if he would give them a feather, and he eventually agreed.

With a protective dome cast over the ruined building, they received the feather and then remembered that Gancho’s fear of heights would make flying difficult. Instead, they decided to ask if the old man had a rug they could use for teleporting and he gave them the use of a rug, as long as it got rid of them. They stood on the rug and KA3 cast the teleportation spell, instantly (and painfully) transporting them to the middle of a desert, where they found themselves standing on a rug matching the old man’s, just as the spell was meant to function.

Alfred arrived, finding them standing on his rug. He immediately attacked (KeS honestly didn’t realize the people I told him were standing on his rug were the other players), and in the battle that followed, KA3 eventually encased Alfred in ice and then summoned a horse which he and Gancho rode to the nearby village. Alfred followed, and after some more antics in the town was again bamboozled before KA3 and Gancho (overcoming his fear of heights) flew away, eventually ending up at a cottage where KA3’s mother, the dowager queen, greeted him. She said Alfred would be joining them shortly for tea and despite Alfred’s efforts to poison the tea, everyone (including the queen and himself) only ended up with indigestion.

At this point, I thought we might be done, as we had some other activities to get to, but the next time a free window opened up the players approached me wanting to continue the story, now with Alfred playing nice.

So we picked up again with KA3’s mother telling him that he needed to go on a quest to claim his father’s crown, which upon his death had transported itself to the Temple of Sha’Ha (channel your inner Mario when you say it: Sha Ha! With a sharp and exuberant rise in tone  on the second sound). He would need to obtain to prove himself worthy to be the next, true king. They were told that the Temple of Sha’Ha could be found by passing through the Cliffs of Insanity and then the Forest of Agony and Knives (I was exhausted mentally and physically).

They set out (carrying a carpet matching one of the queen’s) and soon learned that the Cliffs of Insanity were a maze of rocky canyons with little to no distinguishing features. They were soon lost. As they discussed how to get their bearings, and old man approached who was clearly driven mad by his time among the cliffs. They learned that he had come from the Temple of Sha’Ha when the crown appeared there and was on his way to inform the new king that he must go there to retrieve the crown (how very helpful). After some more shenanigans (I love voicing crazy people when the players expect them to be helpful), KA3 cast a spell that revealed the man’s past footsteps and they were able to follow them all the way out of the Cliffs of Insanity.

And into the Forest of Agony and Knives. The journey through the cliffs had exhausted all of their food and water, so they set out looking for something to eat and drink and soon came upon a cottage with an apple tree and a well, which they learned was the cottage of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (because of course it was). Having found no food in the cottage, they decide KA3 should cast a duplication spell on one of the (apparently mundane) apples, creating dozens of them. They all ate, and though Alfred and Gancho succeeded in resisting the poison, KA3 succumbed to it. With no true love’s kiss to help them, Alfred attempted a healing spell which miraculously didn’t backfire. With KA3 back, they sent Alfred out to hunt and he obtained a deer, solving their food problem.

Now with their focus again on finding the Temple of Sha’ hA (remember, exuberant “Ha!”), they decided that the best idea was to burn the forest down. To that end, they searched the cottage and find a marble for KA3 to use to put a protective shell around the cottage. He then started a fire, inside the shell, with the cottage. While the smoke built up they managed to beat the fire out, but didn’t know how to break the shell. Eventually, KA3 used a power spell to melt a hole, getting lucky not to fry himself or a companion.

With the plan of burning the forest down behind them, they started searching for the temple, surviving an ambush by knife wielding trees through Alfred’s combat prowess before arriving. The temple itself is at least seven stories tall above ground, and they enter to find it empty. KA3, having spilled his holy water attempting to bless Alfred’s weapons was pleased to see a font of holy water there. Eager to explore the temple, KA3 attempted to cast a haste spell, instead spilling all of his quicksilver on his head to no effect. Panicking, KA3 sipped the holy water and then, wanting enough to bless Gancho’s and Alfred’s weapons, cast a duplication spell on it, causing it to overflow and flow through the temple.

Alfred was tired of waiting, so while the others brought containers to catch the water, he attempted to empower his own weapon, causing it to burn his hands. KA3 remembered his original purpose with the water and empowered both their weapons. Alfred wasn’t satisfied with the power of it and again attempted to bless it himself, this time exerting all of the hijinks points earned by his previous spell mishaps to guarantee a mighty enchantment.

Meanwhile, the font had continued to overflow and KA3 realized that the lower levels of the temple were flooding. He rushed down to the bottom level, wading through holy water making sure the crown wasn’t there. While there, he was attacked by a giant snake, which he managed to kill just before Gancho reached him. With the bottom floor swept, they proceeded to the level above, where KA3 gets caught in a web and Gancho saves him from a giant spider that greedily claimed both KA3 and Gancho’s rapier as his own, both before and after its death. During the fight, KA3 discovered that he lost his whole pouch of spell components during the fight with the snake.

With no sign of the crown in the underground floors, they began a search of the upper floors, which they found to be more open with flying staircases that challenged Gancho’s fear of heights. They drove of ghosts that attacked them on the stairs and at the top of the temple they found the crown. Alfred was blown down the stairs when he attempted to take it, but King Arthur III claimed it before teleporting them back to his mother’s house.

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