Maxim’s Story – Session 03 – Into the Fire

This was a fun session.  I need to say that first, because I am likely going to spend a lot of time complaining about things that went wrong.  But I did have fun, so lets clear that up first.

We pick up right where we left off, the church had just erupted in Sorcerous Fire, and Maxim did not know where Anya was.  The explosion had knocked the barricaded door off of its hinges and so Maxim braved the flames to get inside.  Inside there was a body, and no one else.  The place was not safe, so Maxim got close enough to determine the body was not a woman, and got out of there before the building fell down on him.  The arcane fire died down, and so Maxim checks where Anya was posted.

He finds signs of a struggle, one of her daggers, and a taunting message scrawled in blood, great.  He follows footprints in the snow until they abruptly end.  He stands there for a while, trying to figure out his next move, when he hears a voice call out to him.  It turns out to be Breven, who is armed with a crossbow.  They talk for a bit, turns out he is with the masked man that Maxim killed earlier.  Maxim admits it, but gets frustrated with the whole conversion, and asks Breven to help him find his friend or shoot him, and Breven agrees to help (perhaps wanting another sword arm to take down Nikita).

Breven uses some magic (of course he is a wizard as well) and is able to continue following the tracks.  Maxim fails a forte test against exhaustion and cold and is going to be at an obstacle penalty until he rests.  They find more bandits, Maxim fails a roll and kills an unknown guy in one of their tents, but they manage to take them out.  The one surviving bandit doesn’t want to talk and Maxim gets pissed and tries to torture the guy (which he is not good at), mangling his hand, and knocking him out.  They investigate the dead guy, and Maxim identifies him as a noble.  He might have known something, but Maxim is not in the mood to feel too bad about it.  He takes everything valuable he can find while they plot their next step.  Maxim is actually up to 8 cash die at this point, so pay wise this job wasn’t that bad.

They have no leads, so when Alexi comes and tells Maxim the village is on fire, much like what happened at the church.   Maxim reluctantly goes back to help.  He meets Sergey in town who asks him to help organize a bucket line, but Maxim knows that won’t really help with magic fire, and he spots a group of strange men in the distance, assumes the wizard’s gotta be with them, and so he rides towards them on a Militia Horse.

There is Nikita with some of his goons, and he has Anya tied up.  Maxim wants to negotiate for her, and Nikita asks what’s a shitty mage like her to him.  Maxim doesn’t want to admit that she is basically the only friend he’s got at the moment (she is), and he certainly isn’t going to say he loves her (he might). He wanted to not seem too desperate about it.

So he says “She’s a good fuck”, which is hugely insensitive especially given Anya’s background, but it is what he says.  Whoops.  Nikita doesn’t seem to want to negotiate for her, so he just suggests he’ll see that for himself and tries to leave.  Maxim stopped giving a shit about the possibility of getting help from this guy right then.  I shoot him in the back.

Or rather, I try to.  I spend some artha to shake off my exhaustion for the scene, like you would a wound.  I put my will to live persona into my Bow skill.  I BARELY make the roll.

…And he no-sells it.  This was bad Burning Wheel play.  I think one of us (not necessarily Blaine) should have caught it.   What happened right there was that I only succeeded at my task, hitting him with an arrow, not my intent, killing the fucker.  I actually don’t know WHY the arrow did nothing, might have been armor, might have been magic.  But whatever it was it should have either increased the obstacle, or I should have been told it wasn’t a valid intent (because magic) and we could have just gone directly to the no-sell. We both got caught up in the moment over the particulars of the rules right there, which happens, but the game would likely have been better (or at least a more satisfying use of my last persona) had we followed them more closely.

I then get in a Fight! with this guy.  I won’t go into the blow by blow but I get off my horse for the sole reason that I don’t want to get into the mounted combat rules.  I also waste two actions cutting Anya free which I take a Midi at the end of.  Now, I was fine with this, Maxim’s only real goal was to free Anya, if he HAPPENED to get out of this fight intact as well, that was just a bonus.  I make it to the end of the round, fails to disengage, just barely, but my horse would likely have made it.  I take a 2nd midi, which knocks Maxim out.

He wakes up some time later in what’s left of the town with the various friendly NPCs looking after him, his wounds have been treated, but have not closed.  He asks for Anya and she got taken again.  It’s annoying because Maxim had a pretty good block and strike situation set up, which, if he had used that from the beginning instead of cutting her free to apparently no use, he might have won.

He tries to stand, fails, and tries again.  Eventually he gets up and starts putting his armor back on and getting his things together.  He’s told he should rest (and at -2 dice he really really should), but he asks Breven if the Winter Wolves (their unit in the war), ever left a man behind.  Breven admits they didn’t and offers to go with Maxim, his group is trying to take out Nikita as well after all.  Maxim welcomes the help and we call it there.

I at the very least get a nice handful of artha for all of this, but that is all likely going to the health tests I still have to make, and it is likely going to be a bit of a rough road ahead.  Maxim has a handful of skills he simply can’t use because of his injuries and most of the remaining skills are at b2 until he recovers.  The upside being, if he survives long enough, he’ll likely earn some sweet stat tests between now and then.  There were definitely some shaky spots near the end there where I think our communication/rules mastery could have been better, but I do want to reiterate that I did have fun overall.

 

Kento’s Story – Session 2 – The Kidnapping of Yabe Nana

Session 2 of Kento’s story and our first full-length one! We do a quick recap of what happened in our last session and dive back into it.  Kento wants to determine if he knows something he can use against Koji Kohaku.  I called for a Beginner’s Luck Koji-wise test, and he managed to make it.  I kind of had a picture in my head about what Kohaku was like, so I laid it out for Blaine.  Kohaku is an honorable man, perhaps to his own determent, Kento might be able to leverage that.

He goes into the Magistrate’s office and demands that Ichiro be turned into his custody, claiming he is wanted for several serious offenses in Yabe territory and that the Yabe Clan-chief has the greatest claim to him.  He completely botches the falsehood check, and can tell that Kohaku does not believe him in the slightest.  Kohaku will not publicly question a fellow Samurai’s honor, yet, with all that he knows, the pieces of the puzzle are sliding into place.

He releases Ichiro into Kento’s custody, and “generously” offers some of his men to escort Kento and Ichiro to the edge of Koji lands.  Ichiro asks about his wares, but Kento can’t secure too much more than his cart for a “wanted criminal”.  On the way back he tries to question Ichiro and Kasumi, but Ichiro knows nothing and Kasumi doesn’t really want to talk business in front of her husband.  Still, she assures him that his uncle will get what he paid for.

Kento’s uncle eventually sends for him, and asks him for his accounting of the events.  He’s not entirely pleased with how things turned out, but he seems to have gotten at least some useful information.  Kento asks him what was in that ledger, and Tengan Tennak simply tells him he can go.

We take a look at Kento’s beliefs at this point.  He honestly has some decent ones about killing his uncle and taking power for himself, but they were lacking in immediate action, unless he wanted to ride out and assault his uncle’s holding then and there (which would have been sweet, but probably futile). It wasn’t a huge deal, because I had another task in mind from Tengan Tennak for us to cut to, but it was something that was worth calling attention to.

A week goes by, and we are once again in Tengan Tennak’s tea room.  As I had been describing it every time these two men met in there, only once the tea had been served and the maids had left does Tengan Tennak get down to business.  He says it has been decided (and the tone implies not by him), that one of his granddaughters, Yabe Nana will be getting married.  The Groom being Hirafune Yuuki, Kento’s cousin and Koan’s son and heir.  Tradition mandates that the head of the Hirafune be married to a Yabe, and Nana’s marriage to Yuuki would further legitimize Koan’s line of succession.

Tengan Tennak asks nothing of Kento during this meeting, merely saying he wanted him to be one of the first to know.  He happens to point out that if something were to happen to the bridal procession, say, in Hirafune territory, he knows Nana has friends in the Imperial City.  If she were to flee there for her safety, she would be out of Koan’s reach.  He then spends the rest of the meeting talking about how they grow up so fast, and things of that nature.

Kento wants to circle up a mercenary, a disgraced Bushi.  I set the obstacle at 3 (1 base, +1 lower station, +1 time requirement, having to be ready to go before the Bridal Procession), unfortunately, his circles is only B2.  He manages a linked test and throws a point of Persona into the roll, and all come up successes!  He names this guy Iha Yasuro, a bushi from a family that sided against Koan during the coup.  He greets Kento as a friend and they drink together as they discuss business.

He can get 5 guys ready to go, and he’ll cut Kento a deal.  He’ll do it for 50 (we realize we aren’t really sure of the proper units of currency, but we call it an ob 3 resources test).  Kento wants to work carefully, taking time to try and get all the money together… And still fails.  I tax him down to a B1 resources, but I do give him the gift of kindness.  Still it doesn’t give Iha much time to get the group together, and they are rushing to catch up to the procession as they leave.

I rule that they manage to get ahead of them, barely, but don’t have enough time to find a particularly good spot for an ambush.  Kento tests Warcraft to try to make the best of it, and manages to succeed, using himself as a decoy while the mercenaries get into position.  He stands in the middle of the road and acts as a bandit, while the honor guards draw their bows.  He rushes them and we come to a Bloody Vs.  I give him advantage dice for the ambush but I give the enemy a few as well (Numbers, longer weapons, horses).  The guards manage to win, and so while I say Kento manages to get a few of them, the rest, including Nana’s carriage, manage to speed through and take off down the road.

It turns out Blaine forgot to factor in Kento’s armor into his defensive roll for the BV, so I let him roll it to negate the arrow that hit him, which he manages to pass, although his armor is damaged as a result.  He rolls a wise to try and discover where that procession will stop next, success leads him to a small village.  The town is on alert and so he has the mercenaries pull some of the local militia away and use the distraction to sneak in.  Success gets him to the window to the room where Nana is staying.

He is wearing a mask, so Nana is frightened by him at first, but he pulls it off and convinces her to tell the guards it was nothing.  He says he is here to rescue her, and she is rather confused by that.  Apparently she was not in on this whole plan.  He tries to convince her that Yuuki is basically the devil, and can not make that untrained persuasion check.  She says she doesn’t really get all that political stuff between Kento and her Grandfather, but she knows she could do a lot worse than the wife of the next clan chief.  Kento then tells her she can come willingly or he will take her anyway and give her to bandits, geez!  He’s actually trained in intimidation so he manages to scare her into silence.

I decide that now having a hostage in tow that would betray him at the first opportunity she thought would be successful is enough of a change in the situation that his first stealth test to get into the village no longer rode.  He weighs his options, but he is mostly looking at a hefty obstacle penalty either way.  When that penalty is factored into the guard’s observation he ends up looking at obstacle 5.  Though some miracle and I think the last of his artha he manages to make it and meets up with his mercenaries outside of the village.  I roll a die of fate for them to see if they took losses, and they didn’t.

Kento takes Nana down river and they meet with an underling of Sone Baba, Kento’s relationship among the river pirates.  He pens a letter to his relative in the capital asking them to ensure Nana got to Tengan Tennak’s friends and called it good.  Now, I had assumed that Kento would be going along on this boat trip and knew that they would encounter trouble along the way.  So when the pirates asked for payment and he failed to properly assure them they would be paid later, I knew exactly what would be the result of that low morale.

Kento returns to the Yabe estate to rest up and determine his next act of sabotage against his uncle.  A little while later, a letter from Sone Baba arrives, informing him that, as far as Sone Baba can tell, a rival group of pirates attacked the ship.  Several of his men have been slain, and Nana is no where to be found.

We call it there and do Artha, this time a few persona and a few fate are handed around and it is a somewhat decent haul.  We forgot to do situational Honor and Shame tests, (and I think Kento may have earned a few of the latter), but we’ll pick them up next time.  We’re still finding our rhythm with these two games, but I honestly think they’ve been going pretty well and we are on track to get even better!  It’s back to Maxim next week, and then after that we will deal with the fallout of Nana’s abduction.

Maxim’s Story – Session 02

These games are the first time that I have done serious one on one play, as well as the first time I have done bi-weekly sessions (at least by intention and not by people flaking). Honestly, while I might notice some differences in pacing or something in the long term, I didn’t see much difference with a week to week game, and I slide back into it about as well as a session 2 can be expected.

We kick things off the next morning, with Maxim being the first up in the barracks, some of the Bandits are feeling pretty brave and just stride right in to try and talk with him. They want their friend back, and are willing to pay to get it. They even offer to go bother some other town as well, but Maxim doesn’t really believe them. He could take the money and abandon the town, but he didn’t want to just abandon them. Besides, he reasoned, if they could offer him his much just to get their friend back, there’s probably more where that came from at their base. The men tell him to go ahead and keep the money, and turn to leave. Maxim stabs their leader in the back.

One of his cronies run, the other reaches for his sword, and Maxim is able to dispatch him too. One of the two is ‘merely’ mortally wounded, and Maxim tells the militia members to get him treatment “If you think he deserves it”. He goes and reports this to Sergey, when Anya (who was taking a watch) arrives and says she chased after the runner, but he got away. She DID manage to get a crude map off him, to what she thinks is their hideout. The man they captured is still in treatment, so it is as good a lead as any. Maxim actually takes some Militia with him this time (3 of them) and they head out.

On the way, they encounter a man in a mask, leaning over the body of a bandit, repeatedly stabbing him with a knife. Maxim tries to talk with him and he tries to bolt. Maxim manages to get a hand on his robe, and has the militia grab him. He killed a bandit, and he might have a good reason for it, but if he’s not saying anything Maxim feels like he can’t let him go. He has one of the Militia bring him back to town and presses on with the other two.

After a bit, the remaining Militia ask where we’re going, and when Anya shows them the map, they freak out. Apparently, it is the ruins of some village that was destroyed in the war, and it is ‘cursed’. Maxim says he isn’t going to force them to come, but if they don’t deal with their hideout, their village won’t really be safe. Maxim is untrained in persuasion (but has a high will), but it is not good enough. The remaining Militia bail, warning Maxim to stay out of the church. Anya thinks the whole thing is bullcrap, and that is good enough for Maxim.

They press on, and make it to the edge of the clearing where the town is. A voice tells them to stop. They look around, and eventually find a masked man in the tree (It might have been the same masked man?). He demonstrates some magical power, and tells Maxim to not get involved. They debate a bit, and Maxim is pretty much ready to either work with this guy in taking out the bandits, or just take the gold he got as his bribe and let this guy finish the job for him. And then he reveals he is here to kill the Bandit’s leader, who of course happens to be the man Maxim is looking for.

Maxim draws his bow and shoots him, clipping the mask and knocking him out of the tree. Anya stands over him and seems pretty pissed at him, demanding answers that he isn’t giving, and generally upset at another wizard acting as an assassin and giving the rest of them a bad name. He begs for his life a bit, but it eventually becomes clear to Maxim that he will just go ahead with his mission either way. Maxim gives the go-ahead to Anya and she ends up killing him.

The noise from this whole thing has attracted a pair of the bandits, trudging through snowy meadow and trying to find the source of the sound. They stay just out of range of Maxim’s bow, and ask if Anya’s “Advantage” effect could get him there. This was almost certainly a major bend of the rules (I am pretty sure art magic is meant to be read conservatively in terms of effect), but Blaine allowed it. Maxim spent time lining up his shot, and just BARELY met the increased ob. Clipping the guy in the leg, he fails at trying to reposition in secret, but gets a challenging speed test in the process! I’m actually getting more speed tests than BL steathy tests with how Blaine was rolling tonight, but that means I am no only one difficult away from advancing speed, sweet!

Anyway, they’re coming after Maxim instead of going for help, so he shoots them again as they get closer. Taking out one, Anya manages to incinerate the other with magical fire! Maxim makes sure they are dead (by stabbing them for good measure), and they press on.

They find the town mostly in ruins, all that is standing is a church, a grainery and a militia office. Having been warned by the militia to stay away from the church, they naturally check it out first. There seem to be people inside, who almost notice Maxim, but he manages to hide to the side of the window when they go to investigate. There are at least five of them, but there seems to be no way for them to get into the church. The windows are boarded up, and the door was barred from the OUTSIDE. They could remove the bar, but since those people had weapons, Maxim suspects there is another way in, and the front door is a trap.

They investigate the office, finding papers inside, including a note that Nikiat wrote about having one of his underlings send a letter to Volkov Manor. The letter itself is sealed, so Maxim takes it, but doesn’t open it yet. When they leave, they see a man looking around outside and notice Maxim’s tracks in the snow. He runs into the Grainery and seems to disappear. Maxim is able to locate and force open a trap door, leading to a cave beneath the surface.

Anya suggests that going down there might be a mistake when the two of them can just wait the people in the church out, and Maxim thinks she has a point. However, she wants him to stay in the office while she stays in the Grainery. Maxim suspects that she just wants to go down there on her own, and demands they switch positions, which she eventually relents to.

After a while with no movement, Maxim suspects that there may have been another way out of the church (perhaps the tunnel also led somewhere else) and goes to retrieve Anya. At that point, the church erupts in magical flames.

We called it there and handed out a number of fate points, no persona yet, but I think we are getting close. In two weeks we will likely wrap up the matter with the bandits, one way or another, but in the meantime we’ll be diving back into Kento’s story!

Kento’s Story – Session 01

War, now memory
Shed blood shared turns to shared blood

Three swear brotherhood
How quickly children forget

A peace can not last
Brothers betray their brother

Son against uncle
Sworn cousin against cousin
Now, Nihon is Burning

The other half of of our pair of one on one Burning Wheel games is a game of the Blossoms are Falling. Neither of us has done Blossoms before, so it should be an interesting experience!

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Maxim’s Story – Session 01

So, on the 1st of the month, I met online with a new roleplaying buddy Blaine, to organize a pair of one on one Burning Wheel games. The plan is to meet weekly and switch off on GMing every week (So I control a PC one week, GM the next, and so on). The session 0 we had was pretty sweet and I had been working on writing it up, but in the interest of getting the actual AP written up, I’ll just summarize what we came up with for this game and get right to it.

We had decided pretty early on that we both wanted to play nobles who had gotten screwed over and were out for revenge. By virtue of the fact that it made for some better drama, and the fact it saved an RP during character burning it ended up being our PC’s uncle who was our enemy. It’s a parallel in both games, so when I go into the other game next week, expect to see it again.

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Actual Play: Devil Survivor 22XX – Sessions 14&15 – Tuesday (Parts 6 & 7)

Things have been busy at work lately, and I have been working on setting up a new laptop (which still doesn’t quite work the way I want it, it is what I get for picking a non-noob friendly distro of linux), and also have recently been getting into Crusader Kings 2 again, which is a huge time-sink.

Anyway, these last two sessions (and we have another tonight), were pretty good. Since Caine and Venkata split up at the end of last session, I ran a one on one for both of them simultaneously (which is an advantage of the text form).

Caine talked with Jake for a bit and asks about the men that attacked Chris and ruined his farm. Jake replies that the two men, to atone for their failure, are spending time in “reflection chambers”. It’s a funny little bit where Jake is trying to dress it up as nicely as possible for Caine, and it WORKS, except it just makes Caine MAD about the conditions they are in.

Caine asks to meet them, and I decide that it is more interesting than not allowing it, so Jake takes him to them. The “reflection chambers” are guarded, and, when he goes inside to talk to the first one, named Simon, he sees that they are completely dark inside and that this man has not had food or been out of here since the attack on the farm. Caine tries to get some information out of them, and it mostly seems to go along with Jake’s official story of things getting out of hand. Simon though, mistakes Caine for a cult member, reveals that the prophet is female. Before now I had been careful to either avoid pronouns, preferring ‘The Prophet’ when possible, or using a singular they/their when not. He realizes his mistake when Caine presses further and clams up.

Caine weighs his options and decides he is probably not getting any more out of these guys, and, while he would like the punish them somehow, he doesn’t think he can get away with it, and these guys are already in a bad spot for what they did anyway.

Meanwhile, Venkata changes into his robe, and goes in to find his girlfriend, Vanessa. She’s made a mess of this area and is munching on some snacks, but it seems like the room is a large magic circle of some kind. Venkata is on guard because it seems like she is here willingly, but at the very least she is happy to see him.

Venkata begins to ask her some questions, but she first asks him if he knows who the prophet is. He admits he doesn’t, and she tells him that means there is stuff she can not tell him. That naturally pisses him off, but she clarifies that she actually MEANS incapable, not merely will not. Still she can tell him about IG’s plan.

Summoning demons damages reality, and, in order to create their new world, IG will need to poke enough holes in the fabric of existence. Once that happens, they will consume the existing world and use it to make their new one, bringing a select few along for the ride.

Vanessa also confesses her role in all this, she is a demon, possessing a human body. It takes Venkata a while to get it, partly because she keeps beating around the bush. The key thing is though, that she has been a demon for as long as Venkata knew her. She is the goddess Mut and was summoned into an unborn baby as a means of her resurrection (the literal meaning of Shin Megami Tensei is “True Goddess Reincarnation”, and the rebirth of a goddess is a common theme in the series as a result). She will be the medium by which the Prophet will remake the world.

Venkata is not taking all this too well, but she manages to somewhat redeem herself in his eyes by saying that while she can not defy the Prophet due to their contract, she would be willing to let him kill her if he really wants to put a stop to it. He elects not to, and asks if there is an alternative. She tells him that IG can not proceed with their plan while the lockdown remains in place, and if he can gain control of the demon summoning programs before then and stop more demons from coming through, the world will eventually recover from the holes in reality on its own.

We call it there for both players. The week after ends up being a mostly player driven session, as the two of them mostly catch each other up IC. It’s a good session from a roleplaying point of view, and they did a good job coming up with their own next objective when I admitted OOC I didn’t have a “next step” planned for them.

They debate for a while, and decide that Ryan might be their best ally against the cult. He seems to have the demon summoning program already, and has an investment in the status quo which they are worried O’Connor’s people won’t have. Caine feels a bit torn, as he likes O’Connor and is a lower caste member himself, is pretty sympathetic to their plight. In the end though, he decides to trust Venkata’s judgement, and so they make plans for their next step to get out of here.

That’s where we will pick up tonight, I might be too busy to get tonight’s session written up by the weekend, but I will try to get it done by monday.

Actual Play: Devil Survivor 22XX – Session 13 – Tuesday (Part 5)

Our sessions of Devil Survivor on Wednesday nights have pretty consistently become a single scene or two short ones a week. It’s the nature of the beast when we are playing text and only have about 2 to 3 hours to dedicate to it. I don’t think there is really anything wrong with this, but if these last few recaps (including this one) have seemed short, that’d be why.

Anyway, last time Caine and Venkata agree to basically be kidnapped in order to get access to the Cult’s sanctum. They get searched for weapons, Caine is unarmed, and Venkata willingly gives up most of his, but tries to sneak a stun gun by them. I call for a roll, his cover vs the guards will, and he just barely passes it. I describe it as a close call where the guard came THIS close to finding it.

They leave their demons behind, and Matthew asks them about their needs. The players are curious if there is a magical disadvantage to telling him this, and I tell them there isn’t (in fact, if anything it actually strengthens the binding), but it does mean that they’ll know what the demons want and could try to bribe them. They reply in vague terms and leave the demons behind

They get bags put over their head, since this game takes place inside a large building AND the elevators are out, the mode of transportation was being slung over these large men’s shoulders.

They are brought down to this area without much incident and are greeted by a man I tell Caine that he knows. His name is Jake (would have to check the logs for his last name), and he ran a greenhouse down the hall from Caine. Now, my original plan was to have this guy be someone Venkata knows, as the cult is the faction I tied most of his stuff to. I changed my mind at the last minute, because of how we’ve been lingering on Venkata stuff for a while, and I wanted to try to get Caine more involved.

Anyway, this Jake guy is NOT the Prophet either, who he says is “conserving their strength”, but says he is able to negotiate on the Prophet’s behalf. He apologizes for Caine’s farm, calling it “collateral damage”. He says they were trying to take Chris into their custody to contain the demon summoning program, and things got out of hand due to the people they sent jumping the gun. He comments that not only did those two fail in bringing him in, but they didn’t even take his COMP, inferring (since he knew Caine didn’t own one) that it was the same one Caine now had.

He offers Caine and Venkata a place to lay low as way of apology, and the two of them ask what the cult is planning. He replies, in fancier words, this world has gone to shit, so they are going to use demons to make a new one. When pressed for details he admits that the current world will be destroyed in the process, but he sees it as a necessary sacrifice.

Venkata wants to see his girlfriend, and so Jake has one of the cultists take him to her (I joke OOC that in the anime version this woman would be dressed as a Miko). He is lead down a hallway which has a dog-headed demon guarding the far door. The woman shows him a side door and asks him to go inside and bathe to “purify” himself. When he asks if that is really necessary, the demon insists.

We call it there, if I have time during the week we might try to do some one on one sessions for the split party so we can reunite come game day, but if not, I probably can just do both at once next Wednesday.