invisible-sun, stories

Stepping in to The Actuality

The Irregulars haven't played a long-term tabletop game since ending our multi-year Dungeons and Dragons campaign in 2011. Last Sunday, we embarked on a new adventure set in Monte Cook's Invisible Sun. It's pretty weird (like Monte's other titles, Numenera and The Strange), so I'll defer the quick explanation to him:

Do you think you live in the real world?
You don’t. This world you see around you is Shadow—a world illuminated only by the Grey Sun. You think it is your home, but that’s because you have forgotten your true self. Awaken, and return to the Actuality and Satyrine, the city under the Indigo Sun. You are a vislae, a wielder of fabulous powers and capabilities, a shaper of reality itself. You sought shelter in Shadow to escape the war, but the war is now over and your home has called you back.

Having GMed Dungeons & Dragons, Numenera, and a few other tabletop RPGs in the past, I'm really excited to run a narrative that's driven by character arcs – every character in Invisible Sun grows primarily through their arc. They come in all shapes and sizes, from Finishing a Great Work to Uncovering a Secret. Instead of preparing an on-rails adventure where the characters are just participants, this new system puts the control in to the players' hands. The GM still does quite a bit of work, but the preparation is more piecemeal. That cavern you put together could be the hideout of Dark-Eyed Manfred. That older man with the goldfish head and animated anteater tattoo on his arm? Brigand, shopkeep, or whatever else you need him to be.

As we dive in to this weird, surreal world, I'll be logging our adventures here with updates roughly every two weeks. To start us off, here's...

Our Cast

Bet, an Itinerant Empath of the Order of Makers who Is Adored by the Sea

In Shadow, Bet was a housewife trapped in a loveless marriage with no children. Dreaming of escape, Bet discovered that The Actuality was the true reality. Since returning, Bet learned that she was a much-feared pirate who sailed The Alone in search of secrets and power. With no ship and no crew, she hasn’t done much sailing as of late. She seeks to assemble a band of sailors and resume her travels across seas of water, salt, and aethyr alike. Bet is rivals with Locke.

Her neighbor is Franklin Wells, a sapient shadow who runs the Dockside bar. He’s adjusted surprisingly well to Fartown.


Jeremiah, an Itinerant Gallant Apostate who Channels Strength and Skill

Jeremiah doesn’t remember a lot from before the War that forced the vislae in to hiding, but in The Shadow, he was a Catholic chaplain during World War I. He believes strongly in the true teachings of Christ, channeling his righteousness in to helping others.

Since returning from Shadow, he’s fallen in love with reggae music. He never stopped believing in his Shadow-gods, and currently lives in a run-down chapel on the northern edge of Fartown, near the Changeries, just on the edge of The Bleed. He frequently hosts orphans, the homeless, and others down on their luck. He's also fated companions with Locke.

His neighbors are:

  • Corian McMasters, gentleman. Corian is in the process of buying up as much land in Jeremiah’s neighborhood as possible to make room for a new Satyrine Rail stop. He detests the poor, and keeps attempting (and failing) to demolish Jeremiah’s church.
  • Endrima, a self-proclaimed expert on ghosts, the Dead, and “necromancy.” She is tall, her natural paleness enhanced by cosmetics, and long black hair that hangs like serpents. Her house is covered in gargoyles and filled with ornate, spooky decor. It’s undoubtedly the most haunted place in Satyrine, as she encourages ghosts to co-habitate with her.


Locke, an Established Gallant of the Order of Makers who Breathes Runes

A prison executioner for the English Empire in The Shadow, Locke learned he wasn’t terribly thrilled with the ideal of harming living things. Currently residing in an uptown section of Fartown near Kryven’s Books, Locke owns a castle with spinnerets, towers, and far too many crenelations. Now that he’s back in Satryine, Locke seeks to help others become become their best selves. He believes that violence is the last answer, and wears an unusual amount of armor because “it’s not violence if they can’t hurt me.” He is rivals with Bet and fated companions with Jeremiah.

Cheery and optimistic in a grating sense. His neighbors are:

  • Wystrin, a 4th degree Vance who teaches Advanced Spell Mechanics on the Vancian Campus. She’s got an office there, businesslike to the point of being severe. She loathes the massive amount of crenelations on Locke’s castle, and finds his cheery demeanor to be most unbecoming. She’s also the head of the local homeowner’s association. Her home is a stately cylinder made of thousands of tiny silver spheres.
  • Myriam, a 3rd degree Goetic who works to reduce poverty in The Hollow and Satyrine’s other less-well-off districts. Her primary home, is next to Locke’s castle, though she has other abodes throughout Satyrine.


The Professor, a Volatile Mendicant of the Order of Weavers who Dwells in Darkness

In Shadow, The Professor was a...professor...of astronomy who hated teaching classes. She preferred research above all else. Obsessed with near Earth objects and life on other planets, teaching was more of an obstacle in the way of the search for truth.

After returning to The Actuality, she’s searching high and low for the people who stole her name and threw her in to Shadow (far before the War). She basically “missed” the entire thing. She doesn’t have a home, per say, currently residing in an alleyway near the Vancian Campus in Fartown. She's fellow students with Kenny, having studied in the same Weaver cell.

Her neighbors are:

  • The fraternity house of the Delayed Fireball, a group of Vancian University students specializing in fire, heat, and melting substances. They seek to uncover the secret to burning that which is inflammable, and are…begrudgingly…tolerated by the faculty. Their house is never dark.
  • Nefy Esott, a 2nd degree Vance who teaches Spellbook Upkeep at the university. Clad in spectacles, Nefy’s recently joined the faculty at the University and dreams of teaching something interesting (to him). He loathes the fraternity house even more than The Professor does.


Kenny, a Connected Empath of the Order of Weavers who Converses with Everything

In Shadow, Kenny was a regular working-class joe employed as an office worker for a paper company. Not particularly driven, he never advanced far from his initial position at the firm. His possession from The Shadow is an 16oz Thermos.

Since returning to The Actuality, Kenny has discovered that was of a noble bloodline with a number of connections to high society. He hasn’t done much of anything since coming back…mostly mooching off of his family and taking advantage of their resources. Since getting a close confidant pregnant, he’s moved in with his lover in a middle class part of Fartown, near the Taragal Artist Commune. Perhaps he's finally realizing that there's more to life that being a dilettante. He's fellow students with The Professor.

His neighbors are:

  • Bartholomew Elewip, a foppish writer who, according to neighbors, has been working on his first (and only) book The Secrets of Love, for the better part of the past ten years. He desperately seeks a way to remove his nigh-permanent writer’s block.
  • The Othrim family: Meredith, Joseph, and their five children (a pair twins, Joseph Jr & Josephina, and triplets, Bill, Phil, and Steven). Joseph Sr. works at the Emotion Mill Consortium during the day and practices his woodworking at night.
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About Kyle Bedell

Kyle's been writing about tech, ludology, and storytelling since 2004. When not soldering, playing board games, or geeking out over hardware, he can be found reading a good sci-fi or fantasy novel.
  • Massachusetts, United States