An Unexpected Journey – About Conflicts, Resistance and Retrospectives ( Adventures in Diagramming, Part 5)

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An Unexpected Journey – About Conflicts, Resistance and Retrospectives ( Adventures in Diagramming, Part 5)

Welcome back - to the 5th part of the adventure about the four heroes Caroline, Marcus, Pauline and Angie, who are suddenly transported from their office in Austin, Texas, to a strange world on a normal day. There they meet King Gaudenz the Elder, who explains to them the precarious state of his kingdom of Connectalot - and that he needs the team's help to defeat the evil that threatens his realm. After initial hesitation and rescuing the priest Father App from a blazing inferno, the four colleagues begin to accept their new abilities and agree to help. After the fateful meeting with Atlas, the silver dragon and guardian of knowledge, the four-member team of our heroes finally has a concrete destination - the city of "Wiesgooden", the birthplace of the legendary "Eierlegende Wollmilchsau". But the roads are dangerous these days and the journey ahead will undoubtedly be challenging. So let's hope that nothing unforeseen will happen…

On the way to Wiesgooden or: why the journey is not the destination

Perched on their borrowed horses, Caroline, Marcus, Pauline and Angie are on their way to Wiesgooden. Some more elegantly perched than others, all of them are deep in thought. The night before they had a sometimes heated discussion by the campfire about whether it would be better to break off the adventure and ask King Gaudenz to send them home. Today, this question is once again on everyone's mind.

Angie irritably flicks dust and dirt from her reinforced leather armour. "I'm really starting to get tired of horses. Can we please talk about what we're going to do once we reach Wiesgooden? Just ask around and see what we find? Or are we going to do it some other way? We need a plan!"

Pauline exhales audibly. "We know what your plan would look like, Angie, and it involves a one-way ticket back to Austin. Look, we're almost in Wiesgooden; if things go bad here, we can still go back to King Gaudenz and get out of here."

Marcus agrees with the elf. "We don't even know what to expect in Wiesgooden yet. On the map, it looks like a pretty important city. Hopefully, the people there are not completely stuffy or unfriendly to visitors. Too bad Atlas couldn't give us a lot of information and threw us out the door. But look on the bright side, Angie - maybe we can get a brush for you," says Marcus with a wide grin.

Angie opens her mouth for a hissy response, but Caroline suddenly sits up straight in her saddle and raises her hand. The others go quiet. "Did you all just hear that? A high-pitched, sort of muffled screech?"

An unexpected interruption

The group immediately halt their steeds, who prance somewhat anxiously in place. They clearly heard something too. The four party members exchange nervous glances and all of them listen intently to the unnaturally silent woods that envelop the path.

"Are you sure you heard something, Caroline? I didn't hear anything weird. Come to think of it, I haven't heard any sounds in these woods in hours…" Pauline quietly interjects from her mount.

Suddenly, from the stretch of road in front of them they hear a long, drawn-out, pitiful wailing. The sound reminds them of some kind of deep, yet growly avian screeching. And, just as Caroline described, it is strangely muffled.

The horses perk up their ears, flare their nostrils and in an instant all four rear up. The four heroes, who are not at all used to sitting on a horse, let alone holding on to one when it rears up, land in the dirt one by one, while the horses turn around in a panic and gallop away from the terrible sound. "Yup, definitely tired of horses," Angie groans, holding her right arm as she stands up.

"Is everyone okay?" Asks Marcus, only to be interrupted by the dreadful noise. Apparently, something - whatever it is - hears the commotion on the road and is trying to make itself heard.

As everyone is scrambling to take cover, Caroline draws her sword and grips it firmly with both hands. "Let's see what's screaming at us over there. We better be careful!" Marcus, the Agile-Coach-turned-dwarf, looks longingly after the horses and then follows the others, who walk cautiously in the direction of the strange screeching.

A monstrous encounter

The group, led by the armoured fighter, turns around the embankment in front of them and catches the first glimpse of the thing responsible for the ruckus. A sheep-sized creature is stuck with its head in a clay jar. In thick letters, the jar reads "honey", suggesting its contents. Next to the strange beast lies a beehive that has already been broken open and plundered. In a small clearing behind the creature rests a rucksack, whose contents have been carelessly strewn across the grass. The muffled cries resume as the entity senses the group approaching.

"What kind of monster is that?!" exclaims Pauline, who stares in horror at the bizarre figure of the beast, which seems to have crawled right out of the children's book "The Gruffalo'': The paws of a bear are supplemented with long, black and curved talons, almost resembling human fingers in length. Currently, they are tugging at the sides of the vessel that encloses the head of the creature. Its muscular body is covered with a mixture of fur and feathers, which are coloured in various shades of brown and black, giving the helpless little something a dangerous yet graceful appearance. The group stares at the struggling animal, all standing behind Caroline, who is unsure as to what to do.

Marcus, however, finally pushes past her and takes a step towards the defenceless creature. "This must be like in a fairy tale; we help it, and it helps us. Like the lion with the thorn in its paw, right? Maybe we'll get lucky and this is the creature we're looking for?" He runs up to the little monster before anyone can object, and gently extends a hand towards the jar.

Almost as if he had crossed a magical boundary, the honeypot shatters into its individual pieces, revealing a fleshy interior, the edges of which are studded with jagged yellow teeth and a purple tongue that slithers around the newly formed maw. The rest of the bear-like creature bursts apart in a similar way: tentacles form out of the interior of the abomination and shoot towards the Agile Coach, and, if that wasn't enough, fanged mouths form at the tips of the tentacles.

Marcus lets out a sharp scream as the tentacles wrap around his waist and wrestle him to the ground. As the surprise wears off the rest of the group, they take the initiative and charge toward Marcus, who is being pulled closer and closer to the creature's writhing form. But, before Caroline reaches her friend, she hears a hissing and buzzing sound from her side as the presumed beehive also springs to life.

From the fragments of the honeycomb a gigantic jaw forms, leaning on slimy tentacles, which throws itself at Caroline and the others in an almost insect-like way. Saliva runs from the creature's horrible body onto the ground as golden brown blubbery eyes twist out from the surface of the abomination behind the open gullet.

Of resistance and conflicts that have to be dealt with

Caroline blocks the disgusting thing's attack with her blade but the impact almost makes her lose her grip. Angie rushes past the fighters towards Marcus, who has been pulled so close to the enormous bear-like creature that he can look all the way down its slimy throat. She grabs her colleague by the arms to try and wrestle him from the grip of the tentacles. The dwarf strains with all his might against the grappling octopus-like limbs, but to no avail. "Caroline! Your sword! Here! Now!" Angie shouts in the direction of her PMM, but the latter is too busy defending herself against the monstrous, honey-coloured entity in front of her that is pushing her further and further back.

The massive figure of the bear lying on the ground now rises to its feet and begins to close the last few feet on Marcus. Meanwhile, Pauline looks back and forth between the two wrestling parties, unsure of what to do, while ice is forming around her hands. "Guys, you're too close! I don't have a clear shot - what if I hit you?!"

Caroline lashes out at the twisting hive in a wild flurry of steel and sweat, but none of her strikes hit the Agile Hive. It playfully dances around her, constantly snapping at her arms and legs.

A piercing cry breaks through the turmoil - it's Marcus! The former honeypot has driven its teeth deep into his leg. But before anyone can react, they hear a huge bang followed by a shockwave of intense heat - at the same moment, the creature and Marcus disappear from the clearing without a trace. Only a semicircle of charred grass is visible where they were wrestling each other moments before. Still sitting on the ground, Angie stares at her hands, stunned, while Caroline, on the other side of the road, remains in complete focus while she exchanges lightning-fast blows with the hive.

Now it's personal!

Something stirs inside Pauline, who is deeply shocked after her Agile Coach literally vanished into thin air. She shuts her eyes and surrenders to a Wild Surge of suddenly emerging magic. A deafening crack makes the whole clearing tremble, accompanied by a flash of light that she perceives even under her closed eyelids, until the whole thing ends with an unsettling "splat". The elf opens her eyes again and faces a completely honey-soaked and dumbstruck Caroline, whose hairs are still sticking out in all directions from the electrical voltage of the conjured lightning.

Are you all right, Caroline?" asks Pauline tentatively. A grim-looking Caroline nods. They've lost Marcus; now it's personal.

Look at this!" calls Angie, who has gone through the contents of the rucksack. "It looks like our tentacled friends had to leave this behind. The map shows Wiesgooden, and here it says 'Hideout Entrance'; not very subtle, if you ask me."

Caroline helps the cat to her feet. With a grim look on her face, she turns around, adjusts her armour and steps back onto the road towards Wiesgooden. "So, are we going to this 'Hideout' now?" asks Pauline a bit sheepishly.

"Of course," Angie replies, her newfound determination making her seem like a new person. "He may be an idiot sometimes, but that doesn't mean I don't like him, or that I will leave him behind in this godforsaken fairytale land full of fiends and foes."

The diagram inspiration of the week (and for your next quest)

Overcoming challenges can push us to the limits of our own abilities. It doesn't matter whether we have to fight against honey pots gone wild or against a tight deadline. In both cases, it doesn't matter whether we take a vacation afterwards or rest in a tavern with the treasures we've found - the important thing is to take a step back after the work is done and reflect on what has happened. This is the only way to keep learning from the processes - something every Agile Coach knows all too well. If our heroines had another Agile Coach at their side, they could learn a lot from this confrontation.
Since Marcus is currently preoccupied, we took care of that for him with this “Good, Bad, Ideas, Action, Kudos” retrospective. What do you think? adventures in diagramming part 5 - Good, Bad, Ideas, Action, Kudos retrospective

Want to know how you can use for your own tabletop RPG adventure, or just get some inspiration how to use it in your daily work life with entertaining use cases? Then head on over to the blog, where you can find extra articles with practical examples!

And of course, after the retrospective we wish you: Happy Diagramming!

If you would like to prepare your own retrospective just as clearly and directly in Confluence, we recommend that you try - you can download the app from the Atlassian Marketplace and test it free of charge for 30 days.

Further Reading

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