Long Farewell (Session 1)
Long Farewell is a fun, innovative little game that I found while wandering around on Itch.io. The premise is that you're a witch living in a hut among trees and marshes. Recently your mentor has passed away and you need to perform parting ritual, all the while helping people with their troubles and honing your brewing potions skill. At its heart, Long Farewell is a journalling game with a crafting system and an innovative prompt oracle that utilizes a deck of poker cards and a stack of dominoes.
I love games that take creative approaches like this, so I was on board to try it right away. I couldn't wait to break out my laser-etch Mayan Dominoes (an amazing thrift store find from last year,) some of my favorite dice and my favorite deck of cards. I also pulled out one of my Punkin Figs shamans to represent Wind-Spark, my protagonist for this story.
For this game, one must divide the poker deck into three separate, smaller decks, so I used some plastic gems I had laying around to indicate which deck was which. Yellow indicates "Day In, Day Out" cards, which are kind of like encounter cards that set the theme for each day of gameplay, green indicates "Trouble" cards, which are used to show what difficulties people will come to you with (or what certain omens will portend) and clear indicates mementos, which are collected during gameplay for the final rite of parting.
I honestly have to say that the mechanics of this game are very sleek and well honed. This game does a great job of inspiring prompts for each day of gameplay and there wasn't even once where I had to make a house rule, a personal call or fudge anything to make the game work. It's so well constructed! I think it is technically possible to run out of dominoes between clients, but even this is managed so well as to be very unlikely. All in all, it was definitely an enjoyable experience.
A record of play follows below:
It was only yesterday that Shell-Bangles was taken from me. I still can't bear to leave her grave. I wish I'd told her about how I felt about her, what I wanted for us, for the future, but now it's too late. Now all I can do is try to pick up the pieces and make something of this life, this role here in the deep woods. Sometimes it seems as if I can still feel her, and maybe that is why the parting ritual is so necessary. I'm only keeping her here with my grieving. I need to move on. I need to let her go.
I managed to tear myself away from her grave long enough to gather some fresh ingredients. motherwort, lambs' ear, the usual. I need to be prepared if I'm going to move on, if I'm going to try to fill her shoes here.
I had a terrible dream in the night about a great crackling orb pursuing me through the deep woods. I knew, even then, that it was her. I knew that it was Shell-Bangles come to warn me about the war already unfolding in Brialda. A lot of people are going to be hurt. A lot of people are going to die, and all for a king's pride. After the dream, I spent the day in bed, reflecting, grateful to live so far away from it all. Maybe it is too much to hope that my life will remain untouched by the war, but I can still hope. Gather herbs to help the coming wounded, but still hope nonetheless.
I spent the day gathering again. If the war becomes as bitter as the birds are predicting, then I will need to stock up on self-heal and bone-knit. I cleansed the hut with a fumigation of mugwort and juniper, for it feels like I will finally have visitors in the next day or two. I can feel Shell-Bangles close by, following my movements. She is eager to leave. I wish her presence put me at ease, but she often lingers at the foot of the bed, and it keeps me awake at night.
I refreshed my stock of horehound and kingsfoil today. Call it nervousness, but I plan to be prepared, no matter what the birds are saying about the coming war.
I put this potion together wrong, lol. One of the ingredients is upside down. Whoops!
An elderly man came to me today seeking help from Shell-Bangles. All I could do was apologize and offer my own talents in her stead. It seems that in his old age, the old man's memories are slipping away, disappearing like dust in wind. Feverishly I paged through tome after tome trying to find him a cure, to find some way to bring back what he had lost. First, I brewed him a potion of amber knotberry, copper roll-rim and blood cranberry to restore his lost memories, then a potion of ruby stone bramble, dryad grasshopper and drowsy setwall to soothe his soul. He went away happy and refeshed, giving me a locket containing a tiny drawing of the one person he could never forget, his boyhood love. Looking at the drawing, I could feel his joy so strongly, but by the time I turned to share the feeling with him, to ask him more about it, he was gone and I was alone again.
Today I was visited by a farmer who had lost his whole family to the war, His harvest was taken by brigands and, grief stricken, he had come to me for any solace I could offer. First, I made him a potion of fogbow iris, golden buttercip and weeping moss to help him see the bright future still yet ahead of him in the days to come. Enlivened by that hope, I then gave him a potion of flamy moth, ghost puffball and freezing cornflower to enliven his body and give him the strength to rebuild his home and farm, to start again, and keep his eye on the bright tomorrows even through all the toil he knew he would have to face in the in-between. In thanks, he gave me a single bright feather, one his grandfather had given him long ago. The hope instilled in that little feather was so tangible that it was almost overwhelming, and I felt myself renewed, ready to face the coming week.
I returned to my mentor's grave again, drawn back after a week of silence. In tending her grave, I took a moment to reflect on the first potion she taught me to make, one of serpent dragonfly, unicorn's cowberry, and ravenous chestnut that gave me the power to transform into a wolf and run free through the glens as she chased me. It is a beautiful memory, one that brings tears to my eyes even now, and so I returned to the hut, to life, and everything that must come after, hoping to find joy again in something, in anything on the road ahead.
Much to my surprise, today I was woken by the secretive and sudden arrival of the king himself to my humble hut. It seems that even now, so soon after his war has begun, he has come seeking my aid in it. While I tried to listen to his needs with an open heart, he confided in me that his quarrel with the kingdom of Brialda is rooted in his love for the Brialdan king's daughter, Panacea. His gestures picked up speed and became frantic as he expressed in lurid detail how he wished to take Panacea in the night like a rutting animal. When he begged me for a potent glamour potion, something to make him irresistable to Panacea and promising me a fortune for it, I told him that I would make him something better instead, that I would make him exactly what he needed most- a potion to end all potions. Unbeknowst to the king, I made him the very first potion I ever learned how to make, and this time, I made it permanent. The brew was potent and heady, but he gulped it down greedily, screaming and cursing only as he realized that he'd been turned into a newt. As a consolation, I also made him a potion that allowed him to speak with animals, and then I deposited him in my medicinal menangerie. Suffice it to say, perhaps this is the best end for such a king, and for such a pointless war. As a memento, I have kept a strand of his hair, and I find it satisfying that I can still smell his fear in it.
My stores were running low, so I went into the deep woods today to gather starlight blueberry and swirling hazel, among other things. I felt Shell-Bangles again, felt her with me the entire time, and I know, somehow, that the final ritual is close. A stranger will come soon, and the final elements will come together for the parting rite.
A man came to the door of my hut today claiming to be a simple potter, but I could see in his heart that he was something far more devious than that. He had come searching for the lost king, and worse, he had come to kill him. Having no patience for this Brialdan mercenary, I played along with his game, listened to his story of trying to find lost love, and finally handed him a freshly brewed potion that gave him the sight to see and speak with ghosts. The results were rather amusing, as my hut is full of ghosts, and chief among them is Shell-Bangles, who gave the assassin a tongue lashing from beyond the grave that few could recover from. In the end, the would-be assassin fled into the woods sobbing, and I was left alone to gather the mementos and herbs I would need for the parting rite. In doing so, I found something the assassin seemed to have dropped- a dried flower that had an aura of joy around it. What a strange thing to find on an assassin!