Thursday, 25 September 2014

Session eleven; an appointment with Doctor Theopolis

The cadre and their mercenary allies are confronted with an automated energy weapon protecting the doorway to their potential fortunes.

Beorn determines that it seems to track movement so they stay as still as possible.  Lawrence slowly goes for his gun.  The Scraver lines up a shot as the nerve of some of the mercenaries breaks and they are wounded in response.

Lawrence fires and hits the device, damaging it but not destroying it.  Hasimir then rushes forwards, standing below it he strikes upwards with his sword, rendering the weapon inactive.
They take stock and find that while Maurice and two more of the mercs are injured there are no fatalities yet.

The Scraver gets out his Thieves Keys and Scrambler pad and gets to work on the doorway. Unfortunately it seems to be beyond his ability and he almost triggers a second blast door to descend. He signals Crazy Maurice and the prospector gets to work on placing charges on the door.
Everyone takes cover as the door blows but Maurice must have miscalculated as he gets caught in the back blast and is killed.

As the smoke and dust clears, and lamps are relit the group moves forwards into the gaping hole left by the explosion.

They find things to be much as Maurice had described to Lawrence: the room appears to be an ancient security C&C station with supply bins mostly full of dust and decay but some with dozens of Genelocks in sealed boxes. They organise a chain and start to load their carts with gear. After a few minutes a morbid disembodied voice breaks through the gloom.

"I don't think you should be taking those..."

Lawrence engages the voice in conversation and it transpires that this is "Doctor" Theopolis, a Second Republic Think Machine tasked with advising on city security.  Over the last thousand years it has dwelt here alone and may be quite mad. It warns the group that it will need to take action if they don't desist and all of Lawrence's attempts to talk it round seem to have no effect.  As they continue to load the wagons Beorn hears a mechanical grinding, "cupboard" doors slide open and a group of three security "golems" emerge.  Hasimir is caught by surprise and immediately knocked out by a stun blast from one of them.

Beorn, Hemlock and Arcadia draw swords and engage in close combat with the robots while Lawrence and the mercs open fire. The golems take down most of the mercs in short order, two appear to be armed with stunning rifles while the third has a lethal assault blaster (and targets more pressing threats). The cadre manage to damage the golems but their tough outer shells and mechanical construction make it hard work. Beorn is knocked out and the remaining mercenaries drop to the floor. Hemlock manages to finish off the blaster armed Golem and Lawrence disables another.

Eventually only Lawrence and Arcadia are left conscious with a single Golem adversary.  Arcadia manages to get the final strike in and Dr Theopolis warns that he will just build more...

Friday, 19 September 2014

It's time for a poll! Opinions please.....

So, The Scottish people have decided...the Union will continue for now. But in this atmosphere of democracy and exercising your right to have a say, how about sharing your opinions below?
What would you like to see more of on the blog?
Game stats for the characters and non-player characters involved
More illustrations, art and photos
More fiction
Background material about the campaign
Fading Suns material not directly related to the campaign
General roleplaying and gaming articles
Poll Maker

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Session ten; Into the bowels of Deepcore 104

The cadre convene at the Baroness' mansion to find out what Lawrence and Lady Arcadia have been working on.  Lawrence explains what Genelocks are and that a cache of Second Republic ones has been unearthed. They are organising an expedition to recover them and Hasimir, Hemlock and Beorn are in on it.  However they are to tell no one else (Lawrence doesn't want to deal with "Claim Jumpers" and Arcadia is looking at whatever profit she makes on the deal being her means of becoming more independent from her parents), therefore the cover story is that they are going on a hunting trip.

They spend the rest of the day preparing to set off, finishing the arrangements for travel, reinforcing the cover story (Hemlock chatting to the General about hunting methods etc.) and making a few relevant equipment purchases.

That evening they set out to the Weeping Mole and meet the well armed and equipped professional mercenaries that Lawrence has hired.  Hasimir, Hemlock and Beorn recognise the men as those who were taking away the arsonist mob the previous night.  It appears that they work for a local freeman named Milo who has no Guild affiliation but is on good terms with the Muster. They are indentured to him and act as mercenaries in order to buy off their contracts. Lawrence meets with the prospector, Crazy Maurice, and they are on their way.

Maurice leads them through a sealed off section of the city and heads down, deeper towards the core.  Travel is slow but steady with the prospector leading and the mercenaries spread through the "marching order".  They have two mule drawn wagons with them, one is handled by Beorn, another by one of the mercenaries. After about three hours of travel they make camp in an old plaza.  The group rests and things seem to be progressing well.

Some hours later they awaken in the gloom and breakfast but their repose is broken as the ground trembles and debris begins to cascade from the dark above. No one is injured but Crazy Maurice explains that it was a "Core quake" - a tremor in the lower reaches of the core and that they have been increasing in frequency and severity recently.

They are packing up camp when they notice a mob approaching the way they had come.  Beorn zooms in with his cyber-eye to see a group of about 20 peasant looking types with weapons and torches.  The party move their gear out of sight and hide in nearby buildings while Lawrence waits to confront the oncoming mob.

The mob are a force of the peasant levy, led by a serf foreman named Clodius.  He knows Lawrence by name (the Scraver immediately starts checking off the mental list of who he could have insulted...) and the foreman and his men had got wind that Lawrence had hired Milo's men and have taken exception to it.  "What is wrong with the Baroness' men?" they ask.  It is a matter of pride to them that their work, ability and loyalty is beyond question and that it should be their duty to accompany any endeavour on behalf of the Baroness' House, not some freelance sell swords.

Lawrence confronted them head on and (proving why he has such a high Knavery score) explained that they couldn't deprive the Baroness' mines of such an efficient labour force.  Their Pancreator appointed duty was to serve in the best way they could, toiling for their lady, they should not be distracted with such flights of fancy as this! This was a suitable task for expendable mercenaries, not the backbone of House Justinian! At which point Lady Arcadia steps forward to add impetuous and authority to Lawrence's words.  Suitably cowed, Clodius and his mob retreat and head back to work.

The party get underway again but are soon subjected to another Core quake.  This time it is stronger in intensity and Arcadia and two of the mercenaries are hit as a wall collapses. Arcadia's armour protects her from harm but the mercenaries are both slightly injured.

Once first aid is administered the group starts off again and after a time they feel like tiny eyes are watching their every move...They cannot trace the source but there is a constant scratching, scampering and crunching noise that follows them. To begin with it was oppressive and intimidating but our group is made of sterner stuff and it soon just becomes an irritating background noise.

Suddenly though, the sound ceases as whatever the source is hurries away. The cadre realise that this is a precursor to another Core quake, but this time they discover the immediate cause; a building collapses as a millipede like creature, about the size of a coach bus, bursts through. Maurice names it a "Borer", he's heard rumours of them but never seen one until now.

Beorn draws his swords and leaps at the beast, striking it easily but not penetrating it's rubble proofed armour. He then gets knocked aside, sustaining a minor injury. The others scatter, Lawrence and the mercenaries trying to lead the wagons out of it's path while Hemlock rescues Crazy Maurice.

They leave the beast to it's passage and the creature ploughs on, the tremors subsiding as it does so.
Towards the end of the day Maurice starts to get more excited and enthusiastic as he realises they are getting closer to the stash. Perhaps that excitement leads to carelessness on his part but just as he is pointing to the secure doorway to their destination he fails to spot and triggers an ancient security system.  Arcadia is the only one in the group who manages to see what is happening and shouts a warning but it is too late. With a mechanical click and whirr a weapon drops from the ceiling and blasts Maurice with a bolt of energy. He drops to the floor. The gun pans across the group...

Monday, 15 September 2014

Session nine; "I'm a special secret psychic, in a secret psychic hat, I can read your mind like *this* and read your mind like *that*"

We were lucky this week in that we were able to fit in an extra session, but with a slightly different mix of players in the group. Because of that I wanted to run a story that would fit with the overall narrative but that stood alone as one of the players (Lady Althea), probably wouldn't be able to play again for sometime. This is what happened... 

It is later in the evening, Hasimir and Hemlock have retired to bed when the mansion receives a visitor.  The lady who arrives is a penitent psychic Justinian Knight and cousin to both Arcadia and Hemlock, a Lady Althea Justinian. She is passing through and seeks refuge in her aunt's mansion for a few nights.  She is welcomed in, fed and settled into a guest room.

A few hours later the house is awoken again by alarm bells.  Peasants have arrived to warn of a fire in the city below, a mob of local serfs have set light to a local Orthodox chapel.  The Baroness explains that her knights are away fighting in the Austram War (supporting her relation Countess Cassandra Justinian Hawkwood) and so she entreats the cadre to assist.  Arcadia and Lawrence are nowhere to be found (more on that in the next session...) so Hemlock, Hasimir, Althea and Beorn head to the scene.

There they find De Havilland (who is staying at a local inn) already trying to calm the mob and lend him their assistance. With stern words and the pricking of consciences they get the serfs to calm down and find out that they started the blaze after the priest took a young girl from her mother's house.  They set the peasants to work putting the fire out (although some refuse) and once some of the Baroness' guards arrive they hand over to them and decide to find the priest.

The cadre learn that the girl, Carrie, is known for being wise in the ways of herbs and healing but that the priest, Father Helsing, believes she is a witch or psychic.  The group splits up, Hasimir and De Havilland going to visit the girl's mother while Beorn, Althea and Hemlock track the Priest, based on information from the local serfs.

Hasimir and De Havilland learn more about the girl; she seems a kind and gentle soul but does have a significant pentagrammic birthmark. Meanwhile the trackers find Father Helsing holed up in a small roadside shrine.  Althea tries to stop him but Beorn bursts in and knocks the priest to the ground with a single blow with the flat of his blade, he then leaves to collect his Muster chains (which he'd forgotten). Hemlock "squwarks" the others to let them know they have the girl and priest and they rush to join them at the shrine.

The Priest maintains that the girl needs to find absolution and instruction in the church while Hasimir argues that there are other ways. Althea checks that the girl is ok and unties her and then senses her reading her aura; she is certainly a psychic. Althea explains that being a penitent is good and productive.  It will be hard and painful but is a positive thing.  Carrie seems encouraged.  Hasimir is outraged by the priest's conduct but it seems that his hands are currently tied.

The Priest had informed the Bishop about the girl so men are coming to collect her in the morning and take her to St Hombur's monastery for her "education".  Hasimir doesn't want her out of their sight and neither does Helsing.  By way of compromise they agree that Cassie will be returned to her mother's house until she is collected and that Helsing and Althea will watch, and pray, over her.

Hemlock tries to grill Hasimir on the way back to the mansion about how a psychic could exist other than becoming a penitent.  Hemlock now assumes that Hasimir knows about these other ways due to his apprenticeship with the Reeves: he knows the price of things, and the money a psychic could potentially make (for themselves or someone else). Then Beorn arrives, having collected his gear.  The three of them see wagons taking the peasants who set light to the church away (Beorn had seen them being loaded earlier).  The men driving the carts have no insignia or emblems but when challenged inform the knights that these peasants are being punished with indentured servitude.

The following morning the cadre gather to see Carrie off, Althea giving her the jumpgate cross she wore as a token. As they watch her leave those with Sqwarkers chime; it is Lawrence, "Listen everyone, I have a plan..." 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Session eight; A family dinner

One of our more talky-focused sessions.  Lots of in character conversations and plenty of set up for what will come in the next few weeks. We began with a bit of housekeeping (some experience point spending etc) and then got stuck in.

We started the game with an introductory explanation of what the Deepcore city the cadre now found themselves in was like. and then moved to catch up with what each of the cadre was doing prior to dinner with Arcadia's family.  Mostly that involved bathing and taking advantage of the relative comfort that they found themselves in. The notable exception was Lawrence who located the mansion's library and took advantage of the opportunity to read up some local details.  While there he received a call on his squwarker from "Louie" a Scraver in his gossip network. Louie had got wind of a deal in Deepcore 104 that might be up Lawrence's alley; a member of the Prospector's Guild known as "Crazy" Maurice had allegedly found a stash of 2nd Republic Gene-lock security devices. Louie gives Lawrence the contact details (a watering hole known as "The Weeping Mole").

At dinner the cadre are introduced to their hosts, Baroness Helena and her husband General Anthony and their youngest child, a quiet and demure teenage girl named Stephanie.

Baroness Helena Midden Justinian (born 4933)
Baroness Helena is very regal and stately in appearance and demeanour and maintains the image of the demure and slightly stand-offish matriarch.  She is always impeccably dressed and is renowned for her skill at floristry and floral arrangement. Those who have only seen this side of the baroness have little clue as to the recklessness of her youth and of her past as a seasoned front line soldier and officer. She made her reputation fighting alongside Hawkwood allies against Decados forces, even prior to commencement of the Emperor Wars and retired from active service a highly decorated veteran. Now she sees all that as almost a past life, her duty has always been to her House and now that requires her to be a political leader, stateswoman and ruler. She sees much of herself in her eldest daughter, Arcadia, which makes her equally proud and fearful.

General Sir Anthony Masseri Justinian (born 4945)
The General (as he insists on being referred to) first met then Lady Helena on the battlefield. He was a junior officer in command of a House Masseri artillery unit supporting House Decados forces, having attained his role by birth and rank rather than any ability or merit.  His unit was then essentially sacrificed by their allies and were swiftly and completely overrun by the Justinian forces led by Helena.  As a noble and officer he was placed under arms and retained as a captive for ransom. The almost impoverished House Masseri never attempted to pay a ransom, and behind closed doors many say it was a sign of how much he was valued.  During his “imprisonment” he remained a housebound guest of Helena’s family and the two began a friendship. Helena’s father saw the political benefits in a marriage with an enemy House and so the prisoner became the bridegroom. He adores Helena and sees himself as every bit her equal, she on the other hand has always seen him as little more than a comical buffoon, somewhat charming at times but ultimately beneath her. She has, and has always been a dutiful scion of her House and so when duty required that she wed the pompous walrus she did so, and he has helped her bear four Justinian heirs of whom she is dreadfully proud (Arcadia (born 4980), Selwyn (born 4983), Tarquin (born 4986) and Stephanie (born 4989)).
These days the General feasts, gambles, hunts and offers uneducated and short sighted opinions loudly. He is every bit the stereotypical landed gent feasting off the backs of the peasantry and he is very, very content with his lot.

Dinner becomes quite a boisterous affair as her parents question Arcadia about the events of the tournament and discover that she is now betrothed to Hemlock. They will not countenance this and decide to find her a suitable match, much to Arcadia's protestations, even suggesting De Havilland.  They also declare that they will need to contact the Bishop to arrange for a replacement confessor to be appointed. Hasimir and Hemlock work to calm things down and placate the family and peace is restored but no issues resolved.

Everyone except Beorn retires to the drawing room for games and light conversation with the General playing cards with Hasimir, Lawrence and Hemlock.  As soon as Baroness Helena retires for the night Sir Anthony replaces the chips with real cash and things start to get a bit more serious.  The General is rambunctious and a cad but the cadre seem to warm to him (especially as Hasimir and Lawrence win significant amounts of money from him).

When Arcadia excuses herself Lawrence also leaves and suggests that they get away from the mansion and head into the city proper.  She relishes the idea and they rouse Beorn (who'd gone to bed) to join them.

Lawrence leads them to the Weeping Mole tavern and while Arcadia and Beorn enjoy a drink he makes contact with "Crazy" Maurice, an old, bearded, one eyed guilder. They talk around the subject for a while, sizing each other up and eventually appear to trust each other.  Maurice shows Lawrence an example of the tech and it appears authentic.  He thinks the cache contains about 500 similar items but he has no means to recover or fence them. Lawrence offers terms and they agree to do business.  They will meet in the Weeping Mole the following night and go recover the valuables.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Tale of Saint Gavin of Suryada

The tournament that formed the backdrop to the events of our first seven sessions was nominally held to celebrate "Saint Gavin's Day", so early on I decided I needed the tale of this erstwhile saintly hero which was read as part of the opening festivities.  Of course I chose to make it very tongue in cheek....

"For 'twas in 4528 that a barbarian invasion force of the Vuldrok Star Nation broke past the heroic lines of the Hawkwood fleet defences and made planet fall on Ravenna.

Across the world battles raged, in the capital, noble land holdings, Guild workings, monasteries, no place was left inviolate.

Defence forces were spread thin and many were left to fend for themselves.

A local Dormouse farm on Follari was no exception.  The raiders came without warning, burning, pillaging and ransacking the Dormice. But then the Pancreator sent a saviour. As if from nowhere Saint Gavin arose, his blessed spatula in hand, and slew every last one of the barbarians, their hosts and bearded masses. Then did he despoil their vessels with flame.

And their was much rejoicing.

To this day a wooden sliver is all that remains of the spatula and it is considered a treasured holy relic."

Of course this tale explains why every meal served at the festival involved Dormice ( and the players have yet to discover that the tale might not be so miraculous seeing as "spatula" was mistranslation of the local church record which mentioned Gavin's "spatha" (Latin: "Broadsword")...

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Memorable NPCs

Back in days of yore, when I was young and, in all likelihood, you were even younger (if you were even born...), the main RPG I ran was Marvel Superheroes Advanced by TSR (now Wizards of the Coast). At the time the company's house magazine was "Dragon" and while I wasn't a big D&D player I'd often fork out the cash to get it for ideas, especially if there was a Marvel related article.

One particular article, which I cut out and kept to this day was all about making memorable NPCs.  The arguement was simple - the players could potentially meet hundreds of concerned citizens, scientific experts, pushy cops etc all of which could be cookie cutter stereotypes and easily forgotten but a simple way to lift your game above the usual is it make those pieces of mobile scenery or plot vehicles memorable.  I took this to heart and try to always lift the NPCs in my games beyond mere "set dressing".  To do so I use the following as simple benchmarks:

1.Use memorable names - Stan Lee used alliteration when he named characters simply to help him remember his own creations' names, if that works for you, great! Personally I tend to use plays on words (often I'm the only one who gets the joke...) or a reference to the role the character plays or some other aspect of the character. e.g the villainous Scraver Façade is nothing if not "false faced". 
2.Give each NPC a memorable trait - it doesn't have to be much, it doesn't have to be earth shattering but just something "different" - The dock hand who constantly has a lit smoke in hand, the war vet with the filligree'd brass cyberarm, when the rest of his replacement bionics are greasy brushed steel, the Muster boss who always bows in the presence of a lady.  Don't overdo it though - just a single element can give a distinction to set the person out from the crowd but load them up with attributes and they become a parody which will detract from the overall story and flow of the game
3.Act it - I'm a GM who tends to try to give his all; I tend to run games standing up, I move about, strike poses, rub my hands together gleefully as a scrap dealer, always hold a cup or glass in my hand when I'm slurring out the drunken commands of a gin-soaked nobleman.  My players know me for my "memorable" character voices (when one of our guys first watched "The Phantom Menace" when Watto teh Toydarian first spoke he was alledgedly heard to say "That's a Ben voice!") I'm not good at impressions (my "John Peel" is abysmal) but they are memorable.  Voice conveys alot of character - it's a great shorthand for helping players get a gauge for what are otherwise just numbers and words rather than living people - the same with actions and body language. It doesn't need to be an oscar winning performnce just something that the players will remember for the next time they meet the character, or simply when they are relating the stories about the game to friends.  Now I guess that there may be some reading this who will find this the hardest advice to take on board and implement but believe me once you start the easier it becomes and the more involved you will find the players becoming. 

An immediate question might be why bother?  These are after all the supporting cast, not the heroes of our tales.  I'd suggest the reasons are threefold:
1.It helps the players - Bless 'em, there's a lot going on in plots and games - especially when you are sat on the player side and haven't got the advantage of seeing the "big picture" plot.  You'll probably have heard of the phrase "Putting a face to the name" - this is a way of doing that in game without having a cast of hundreds sat in your living room.  Having these memorable "tags" that the players can use to associate with NPCs will help them order the flow of events in their minds and keep abrest of what's going on, to who, where and when.
2.It helps the GM - Memorable traits are as much a shorthand and aid memoir for a GM as for players.  You have all of the Known Worlds to manage! If knowing that the arms dealer they last spoke to on Criticorum had a peg leg and clockwork parrot it's a mnemonic that will help trigger a whole bunch of other recollections about the character and what happened last time they met.
3.It makes it all a little more real - We know this is all a game. This is a fantasy setting where spaceships are sailed through an ocean of black by a motley assortment of noble knights, pious priests, money-grabbing guilders, mystics, psychics and ne'er do wells...this is by no means real.  However, in my personal experience rpgs are at their best when the players and GM have some sort of emotional investment in the game, something which is very hard to create when it is "only a game".  Having memorable NPCs can help to do that; you are adding a touch of uniqueness to these faceless characters, just a small touch of individuality.  It will add a hint of realism to the campaign and it does pay off.
To be completely honest I think that trying to apply these techniques has been the source some of the success of my own games and I'll hopefully publish a few more specifics in forthcoming posts...

More NPC miniatures

I've still been beavering away on more miniatures for our campaign and here are some samples...

Above: Count Innocence Decados accompanied by two of his House Guard

Above: Baronet Theodore Gangrel Trusnikron.  I'm particularly proud of the House emblem his back banner.

Above: A generic "traditional noble" that I've used for Sir Selwyn Justinian and could see use as a Hawkwood.

Session seven

It is the early evening of the fifth and final day of the St Gavin's festival. The new Baron's heralds and criers have announced that his court will be held in less than thirty minutes to resolve the matter of the old Baron's murder. Meanwhile Sir Hasimir Torenson sits with Baron Cuthbert and the Reeve, Herbert Pufflenaff, discussing the fate of Dame Arcadia. Hasimir tells them that he believes a Scraver known as "Façade" is responsible and that it is she who needs to be brought to justice.  The Reeve requests proof.

Hasimir leaves and Sir Hemlock then seeks an audience, which is granted. Speaking to the Reeve he questions him as to whether he feels that the actions of the murderer, as witnessed by Timmy, fit with what he has witnessed as Arcadia's behaviour.  He also requests that he be allowed to borrow one of the Bailiffs; simply to accompany him in an effort to lure out Façade.  The  Baron is slightly aghast but the Reeve agrees, showing sympathy for Hemlock and in an effort to lay the matter to bed once and for all.

Hemlock, accompanied by Hasimir and the Bailiff, go to the tent where they last say Sir Selwyn and Façade. They are still there and Hemlock bursts in announcing that the Reeve wishes to see her. Selwyn protests that this is ridiculous but Façade demurely agrees and follows them. Selwyn follows behind making a great fuss about how his maid is being persecuted, but does not seem in any great hurry. He is accompanied by Hasimir who notices his slightly curious mixed reaction.

Having failed to provoke a reaction so far Hemlock takes Façade to the Baron's tent and once within draws his sword and slices at her.  The baron's guards and the Reeve's Muster Guild Bailiffs act to shield their respective charges but as this is a noble assaulting an apparent serf they do not intervene. The wound reveals Synthsilk armour below her maid's uniform.

At that point Hasimir and Selwyn enter.  Selwyn shrieks at Hemlock while Hasimir tries to restrain him but fails.  Selwyn draws his blade and attempts to strike at Hemlock who weaves away with his Torero skills. Hemlock turns and strikes Façade again as she cowers on the flaw, apparently every bit the fearful peasant.

Then things change, she springs up, releasing a flash bomb that disorientates all assembled except Hemlock, Selwyn and Hasimir, and runs. Hemlock dashes after her, followed by Hasimir and Selwyn.

The huge flash alerts some of those who have assembled for court and Beorn rushes to the scene. Hemlock reaches Façade and with a final slash of his blade he cuts her down from behind. Selwyn screams in rage and frustration then storms off, declaring that he will revenge his love.  Beorn arrives and examines the body, noting the armour suit and that she is very dead.

The Reeve and Baron appear, with entourage and have the body examined, finding her physical stigma therefore corroborating the knights' tale of psychic misdeeds. Hemlock apologises humbly to teh Baron for drawing a weapon in his presence but asks for understanding due to the circumstances. The Baron, understanding grief and passion when it comes to a loved one and accepts the apology. After receiving council from Pufflenaff he also states that he believes that justice has been done and his brother's killer executed. Arcadia will be released.

The Baron's court convenes and he shares an abridged version of events with the assembly.  He releases Arcadia and compensates her financially for the time she was incarcerated (which she shares with the party in thanks for championing her cause). After explaining events to Arcadia the party try to locate Selwyn but there is no sign of him, it appears he has already left.

The planned final dinner is held and during which Count Innocence Decados approaches to wish them well and thanks them for ensuring that he "did not have to intervene". They are left to wonder what that may have meant.

Arcadia and her entourage leave the following morning and head to her parents' estate in Deep Core 104. After a few days of uneventful travel they arrive and are welcomed by Potter, one of the household staff. Arcadia sends him to set up guest rooms for her party but before which they ask about Sir Selwyn, Potter confirms that he has not been there for some months.