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  1. I haven't been able to spend as much time as I want to with the forums lately, and then mostly to approve new members. I've started working again AND we've gotten a fresh spawn in the house. As a result, I'm rather occupied these days. Current work assignment ends April 1st, should be able to siphon some more time for BRP Central then. Cthulhu is wispering in her ear. She's only been an initiate for 10 weeks, but was able to cast the Attract Attention spell from the beginning.
    10 points
  2. So my PCs decided to kill Harrek the Berserk. Here's how it went. (for context, see and First, before I recap this, here's the cast of PCs we're working with: Androgenus, a genderfluid Esrolian Eurmali trickster with the Illuminated Illusion, Earth, and Luck runes. They're out for blood vengeance against anyone who's ever victimized their family, their clan, and their homeland. in that order. Recently illuminated as part of a Heroquest that gave them temporary use of the Infinity Rune. The player has been coming up with some awesome ideas for how Illumination might work, and I've been wholeheartedly stealing from what @davecake has said on Illumination to try and inform the player on what they might want to do. Iris, an Esrolian Earth Priestess in service to the Goddess of Moss (I don't know who that would be in actuality, but when her player heard "land of ten thousand goddesses," she immediately came up with a gaggle of minor Earth goddesses that barely anyone might care about). She's got the Earth, Movement, and Spirit runes. Iris wants power at all costs, both for her cult and her personally, and sees the group's adventures as the ticket to recognition and glory. Zonthor, a Praxian sorceror of the Impala Tribe and expert archer. The player always uses that name if he can get away with it in ever game I've ever played with him. Zonthor learned sorcery from a demonically possessed spellbook he plundered from Big Rubble, and has the Fire, Disorder, and Magic runes--he's only in this for himself, and is up front about how he's only working with Iris as long as she can pay him. The Wolf Pirates have plenty of treasure, treasure that Zonthor wants. and finally Waddlestomp the Bloodybeaked, a Hueymakti Duck thane with the Water, Death, and Truth runes. He has sworn a dread oath that he will personally slay one human for every Duck that is or has ever been killed or otherwise victimized by human hands. Played by the oldest in our group, and the most experienced with Glorantha. He now holds an enchanted shield he got in the same adventure where our party Trickster got Illuminated. For future reference, I use bold text to denote Traits, Runes, or other abilities the characters use. We join Our Heroes a few days after they have accidentally rampaged through the Esrolian city of Valadon and escaped with the city guard hot on their heels. Androgenus's mind is reeling with the infinite possbilities of Illumination and the horrible truths contained within: there's no purpose to any of it. Even rebellion. Everything has a place, which is nowhere. Nothing means anything, so everything means everything. You only struggle against yourself. While having this cosmic existential crisis, Iris, Zonthor, and Waddlestomp are discussing their next move to murder Harrek the Berserk and avenge the Holy Country. Iris succeeds at a role against her Noble Trait, with the breakout trait Connections At Court--she's heard a wild rumor at court that the queens of Esrolia, working with Caladraland and the Shadow Plateau, have amassed the remnants of their armada. They seek one last chance to strike at the Wolf Pirates and throw them out of the Mirrorsea or die trying. Zonthor once again gets reminded that the Wolf Pirates have plundered the City of Wonders, and that they've got to be swimming in loot. "As long as I get my shares," he says, emphasizing the plural, "Then you have my magic. I want to see that smug pirate die just as much of the rest of you." "Maybe not as much as they do--" grunts Waddlestomp, gesturing at the party Trickster, who's walking down the road a little bit ahead of the rest of the party, rambling to themself and waving their arms in the air "--so we should probably hasten us to our deaths before they decide to do something really unexpected." A brief travel montage later, the party arrives in Nochet, just ahead of bounty hunters sent from Valadon. Androgenus crits on his Beggar trait to find a bolthole for the party to hide in while Iris begs an audience with the Queens during their war conference. Meanwhile, Zonthor learns a new spell from his grimoire (he defines the ability Mass Migraine tied to his Demonic Grimoire) that he thinks will be useful in the coming battle, and Waddlestomp meets a sage to identify the enchantment on his shield. As it turns out, when thrown, the shield will always return to its wielder, a la Captain America. Later, Iris barely wins an audience with the Queens and drags along Androgenus. However, they are told that if they so much as breathe a word that isn't an abject apology for the riot they started in Valadon, they'd be next on the sacrificial altar to Maran Gor. They overhear the Queens discussing strategy with the surviving admirals of Caladraland and a representative of Shadow Plateau. As far as they understand it, the plan is that some of the Holy Country's naval remnant will engage the Wolf Pirate treasure fleet as it leaves the City of Wonders's ruins, hopefully bogging them down in the classic ram-and-bow brawl while the rest circle around and engage from the rear in a classic pincer maneuver--and let a regiment of Dark Troll marines do their brutal work in boarding actions. About then, Androgenus opened their dumb mouth. "This won't work, Your Highnesses." "What?" exclaimed the assembled Royalty, as Iris quickly tried to silence her bound trickster. "It won't work. You'll get slaughtered, and the Wolf Pirates will stay here forever. Broyan the Betrayer will have his barbarian mercenaries, and he'll come to rule Ketheala. Unless..." replied Androgenus, stepping away from his mistress. The assembled Esrolian queens and Caladralander admiralty immediately began demanding the trickster's life for his insolence. The Troll mistress in attendance held up a hand to silence them. "Unless what, snack?" "Why, unless you kill Harrek the Berserk." Disbelieving laughter. Derisive laughter. A call for Iris to silence the Trickster before someone else did for her. The troll interrupted: "Is that all? I wasn't aware it was that simple. How should we do this, snack?" "Well, that's simple. I'll betray you." Androgenus's player then managed a major victory with their Illuminated Illusion rune's breakout ability Tell Two Stories At Once, which they defined as tricking different parts of the same audience into hearing different things at the same time. About now, we called for a brief break so that Androgenus-player could discuss the plan with me in private. When we came back, Androgenus told the rest of the party what would happen: Androgenus would Swallow his companions and steal a fishing boat. Then he'd travel to the Wolf Pirates, and beg an audience with their leaders. They'd tell them the entire plan for counterattack against the Wolf Pirates. Hopefully, that would buy enough confidence with the Wolf Pirates to let them speak to Harrek. At which time, they'd regurgitate the PCs, use the Infinity Rune to forcibly separate Harrek the Berserk from the god he wears on his back. Then it'd be up to the rest of the party to murder the (probably very angry) berserker and his inner circle before things went sideways. There was a perfect, silent moment after Androgenus recounted their plan. "That's a stupid plan," said Zonthor, after composing themselves. "We're all going to die." "Do you have a better plan?" asked Androgenus, flatly. "No," spluttered the sorcerer, "But we're still all going to die." "Better we die our task fulfilled than live forever having failed," quacked Waddlestomp, grimly as ever. The other heroes stared at the murderous Duck for a while. Eventually, Iris broke the silence. "I for one love this plan. I'm excited to be a part of it!" Cut to two weeks later: the group bought a fishing boat (at a severe discount due to Waddlestomp's Unexpectedly Terrifying breakout ability keyed to his Death rune), and Iris whistled up a wind spirit to fill its sail. A day's calm sailing later, they approached the Island of Wonders from behind, drifting with the tide. As night fell, they reached the beach, hid their boat, and made camp in a secluded seaside cave. There, they talked more about their pasts and their motivations. Iris related how her family has always been scorned for serving the Moss Goddess, despite their faithful service to Esrolia. Zonthor could relate--he was ostracized from his clan after learning sorcery, despite the fact that it was his own chieftain who ordered him to retrieve a treasure from Big Rubble. Waddlestomp merely sharpened his sword in preparation for the morrow's battle. When he did speak, he talked of how Duck Valley was once a beautiful place, and how every time he closed his eyes, he saw the humans who came, screaming Orlanth and Sedenya's names, and slaughtered his people en masse. Androgenus nodded sorrowfully and tried to comfort the Hueymakti thane...he also wanted revenge, so sharp and painfully he could taste it at every moment. Androgenus sheepishly offered Waddlestomp one of their "stabbing effigies," a sort of homemade Voodoo doll that so happened to be shaped like a Lunar soldier. Waddlestomp awkwardly took it, and poked at it with his knife. "I do feel a little better," he grudingly admitted. The party laughed, and with that, went to sleep. Iris awoke last, just before dawn. Waddlestomp and Zonthor had already been Swallowed into the Trickster, and Androgenus had waited for the priestess to awaken on her own, because, as they put it, "What happens next isn't going to be pleasant. Best to have a good night's sleep first." "Run the plan down for me one more time?" asked Iris, getting a weird feeling with a minor victory against Androgenus's opposed Trickster flaw. "Well, first," they said, picking up a piece of driftwood, "I betray you." The fight was short, but a few unlucky rolls from Iris had her knocked out and trussed up. Androgenus dragged her down the beach to a Wolf Pirate foraging party. Some tense negotiation later, the tricksy Trickster easily wormed their way into the Wolf Pirates' boat on their way back to the main force of looters. They were enbyhandled onto a pirate ship and interrogated at swordpoint by the captain himself--a massive man from the Far South, who demanded to know why they were spying. Androgenus said he'd brought a prisoner--Iris--and had knowledge of the Holy Country's plans to oust the Wolf Pirates once and for all. Some quick thinking, good rolls, and fast talk had Androgenus parlay the captain into bringing them and their hostage to his higher-ups. It was about now that Iris woke up and started screaming bloody murder. She pronounced Androgenus a traitor. She begged, threatened, cajoled--and Androgenus just smiled. Her thrashing actually served to convince the pirates of Androgenus's truthfulness, despite his Illusion rune. We montaged the next hour or so of Androgenus being passed from pirate to higher-ranking pirate until finally, he stood on the deck of the Ice Serpent, in front of Harrek the Berserk, and at his right hand, Gunda the Guilty. "I'm going to kill you, Eurmali," rumbled the vast pirate lord, "But speak quickly and speak the truth--if you can--and I'll make it a quick death." "I know Esrolia's war plans to drive you out of the Holy Country. And this priestess here is head of a conspiracy to kill you, o mighty lord." "You do, now? Hrm. Y'know, Gunda and I have a rather reliable policy: kill every Trickster I meet. You have five heartbeats to change my mind," said Harrek, standing up, popping his neck, and grabbing his axe. I made sure to describe how Harrek's bear cloak growled in response to its wearer's movement, the ears twitching in the sea wind. And here's where things went even more off the rails. Androgenus rolled, and I kid nobody reading this not, three critical successes in a row. First, they rolled a critical success with Look Harmless to lull Harrek's bodyguards into a false sense of security. Then, he critical'd an opposed check against the assembled pirates with Tell Two Stories At Once: Harrek and the pirates heard the Holy Country's original plan, the pincer movement that wouldn't have worked. Iris heard him talk about the real plan: the Holy Country would beach its navy in a nearby hidden cove at low tide, then drift back out to sea (and directly behind the pirates, cutting off their retreat) when the tide shifted, catching the Wolf Pirates unawares. Iris, enraged beyond all reason, loudly proclaimed that Androgenus would die for betraying Esrolia. All of that 'proved' Androgenus's veracity even more. Harrek stepped closer to Androgenus, staring the little Eurmali down, madness matching madness. "Do you feel that I should reward you for this?" asked Harrek, "I've had enough of Kethaelan traitors to last me a lifetime." "Oh, mighty lord, getting this close to you is reward enough," replied Androgenus, who then made the sign of the Infinity Rune with their hands and placed it over their eyes. (In Roll20, this was accomplished by making finger goggles and pulling a rather amusing face). The third critical was activating the Infinity Rune they'd earned from the Heroquest. For a moment, the world stopped. Androgenus was Eurmal the Lightbringer, grasping the net of the Cosmic Compromise. He was Illusion Illuminated, separating Real from Unreal, remolding the Cosmos to his will. Harrek reeled as the energies of Creation surged through his boat, threatening to capsize it. He felt his magic drain from him, forevermore locked into the God Time. The Bear God left him then, leaving a confused, dizzy, and for the first time ever, frightened Harrek the Berserk retching on the deck of his ship. "Harrek?!" exclaimed Gunda, rushing to his size. "What did they do?" "I don't know! They took my bear! Kill! Kill them!" And then came the fourth critical: Androgenus cast a glamer with their Illusion Rune that seemed to split them into five mirror images, each one taunting and jeering at the onrushing pirates. Then they regurgitated a sorceror (who'd been preparing their Mass Migraine spell, ready to cast as soon as he was out of the Trickster) and an angry Duck. Hilarity, as they say, ensued. This was the first big fight I'd ever run using the HeroQuest rules. Per the rulebook's suggestions, it was mostly narrative, with few rolls (which is weird for me, accustomed as I am to crunchier systems like D&D and World of Darkness, or even Fate, for that matter). Waddlestomp rolled well with his Truesword, Magic Shield, and Vengeance-Seeking Swordsduck to carve a path through the pirates and get the attention of Harrek and Gunda. Zonthor managed to get off his Mass Migraine spell (and had a lot of fun narrating its grisly consequences among the pirates onboard) and untie Iris. Then he failed hard against Gunda the Guilty, nauseated but still single-minded, who ran the little Praxian through with her spear and tossed him overboard for the sharks. Iris also got heavily wounded before she could scramble away from the pirates, but managed a bare success to get to her feet and summon up shark-spirits, attracted by the blood of the battle, to further harry the pirates. Androgenus...just stayed alive and taunted Harrek. The battle concluded with a lookout's call--Kethaelan ships approaching, rowing hard for the pirates! The tide had come while Androgenus had distracted the pirates, and given the Esrolians a chance to get into position to ambush them. Harrek took a mighty swing at Androgenus--only for his axe to pass right through the little Trickster. Dumbfounded, Harrek tried it again--and again, his axe passed through (in game terms, this was an opposed Illusion check vs. Harrek being the most lethal man on Glorantha that I hid the results of until it was dramatically appropriate). "You can't kill me, Harrek, but it's okay," said Androgenus peacefully the light of Illumination glowing in their eyes, "There is no struggle against yourself. You did well, but be at peace. Every story has an end." And then Waddlestomp jumped on his back and stabbed him repeatedly. Harrek the Berserk, God-Traitor of the Rathori, Destroyer of Worlds, was brought low by an angry duck and a Trickster with a grudge (who, now that the exchange was over, was found to have gotten a Minor Defeat, and was very very injured, but had hid it with their Illusion rune for a few moments). Gunda the Guilty howled in rage, and leapt for Waddlestomp, murder in her eyes.... Right as an Esrolian galley rammed the Ice Serpent. Nearly capsizing her. We narrated the rest of it. Waddlestomp cut his way through the panicking pirates and Iris helped him haul Androgenus's broken, disemboweled body to the Troll marines who were stomping aboard and slaughtering the stunned pirates. They passed the trio onto the Gannet, the Esrolian trireme, and received emergency healing. The last they saw of Gunda, she was cutting down a pile of trolls around Harrek's form. Eventually, the Ice Serpent sank, but nobody was seen to have escaped. Surely, nobody could have escaped. Surely... It was with that that we closed the session for the night. Everyone seemed to have had a good time. Waddlestomp's player in particular was dumbstruck that only one of them had died, and Zonthor's player took his death in good stride, promising to come up with someone with an even more ridiculous name next time. I left the players with hints as to what had come: they had now become capital-H Heroes of the Holy Country, and would be feasted and hailed as such...and they had also earned powerful, implacable enemies, and a key role in the world-shaking events to come. Whether they wanted it or not.
    8 points
  3. I have decided to start writing recaps of my ongoing RQG campaign, which is centered on the Bardori clan in Sartar, of the Dundealos Tribe. I've been feeling like it would be helpful to get myself writing regularly again, and I would like to have some sort of record of our campaign. Hopefully, folks will also enjoy reading about an ongoing story in the relatively new RQG system. I began my current campaign back in March. My plan is to quickly cover the background and events of the campaign so far, and then hopefully write more detailed coverage once I catch up to the present. Background After immersing myself in Gloranthan material for many months, I found myself struggling to find the right framework for creating a campaign. There was simply so much lore and background information to absorb, I didn't know how to do it justice. Then I discovered The Coming Storm/Eleven Lights, which inspired me to run a campaign focused on a single clan in Sartar. This seemed like the ideal way to tie a group of PC's together, and give them the motivation to go on adventures together. Faced with the choice of which system to use, I found myself more interested in the new RQG rules. I usually prefer more rules-lite systems or story games, but Runequest seemed to be experiencing a revival that was very exciting. I also liked the idea of setting the campaign later in the timeline, after the Lunar occupation. My next big decision was choosing which region in the core book to focus on for my campaign. I felt like Sartar and Prax were the most detailed with prior published material, and Sartar was slightly more interesting to me. With a clan-based campaign, I also had to choose which tribe would be a good fit. The Dundealos immediately jumped out to me as being in a unique position in the setting's start date of 1625. They were one of the few tribes to be completely disbanded by the Empire, but they had returned to resettle their valley after the Dragonrise. This is detailed very briefly in the core book on p. 108, under the section on Swenstown. This would allow me to run a campaign focused on rebuilding, and reforging a lost connection with past traditions (not unlike King of Dragon Pass). The Dundealos also have some interesting neighbors, who could make good allies or antagonists depending on players' actions. These include the nomads and creatures of Prax, the impoverished Balkoth Tribe, and the slave-taking Sambari Tribe. When I was writing notes on the setting, I found the fanzine Hearts in Glorantha very helpful. The first collection contains an article on the Dundealos Tribe by Jeff Richard, of which I used most of the clans for in my campaign. It also has an article on the Balkoth, which I made use of (and it's awesome, there's so much more to them than just goats!). The Sartar Companion was also very helpful in mapping out the Dundealos Valley. The Bardori Clan I wanted to create a clan of my own for the campaign. The Bardori are typical of many Dundealos clans: they herd more sheep than cattle, they produce many fine riders, and they tend to fight in a skirmishing style with bows and javelins from horseback. They are also unusual in several ways: their clan wyter is a rooster, they consider all chickens (especially roosters) sacred, and they see Elmal and Redalda as equally important to Orlanth and Ernalda. They worship several heroes known for their skill in riding, including Hyalor, Ulanin, and Derik Pol-Joni. The Bardori were disbanded in 1618 by the Lunar Empire, after the Dundealos rebelled, and were defeated. The survivors either went into exile, lived as bandits, or were enslaved and forced to work on the New Lunar Temple. The core rulebook for RQG states that the tribe was disbanded in 1615, while the HQ books say 1618. For my campaign I went with the later date, because I wanted there to be a faction of former slaves in the clan, and 10 years felt like too long for anyone to survive in a Lunar slave camp. The core book mentions a "Pol-Joni adventurer" being responsible for recreating the Dundealos tribe. I decided to flesh out this character more, and give him the name Ekil Blackmane (or just Blackmane). He led a band of warriors back to the valley, only a few days after the Dragonrise, and destroyed the remnants of the Lunar Enstalos tribe. He then became the new tribal king. What exactly happened to the Enstalos people, specifically the women and children, was left to the new clan chieftains. Most were enslaved or ransomed if possible. The new Bardori chieftain, Angarr Broad-Back, returned to the Dundealos Valley with his warriors at the same time as Blackmane to reclaim his people's land. The harvest was not yet complete, so he chose to go against clan tradition and keep the Enstalos survivors as thralls to finish the harvest. All of the player characters were either children or teenagers when the clan was forcibly disbanded. When I had my players make characters, I had them think about how they fit into their clan's recent history. This was in addition to the normal family history generation, but they ended up being fairly compatible. They had the following background options to choose from- Exile - Fled with family or sent to live with distant kin. If players chose this option, they had to also choose where they spent their exile. This option allowed players to choose Homelands other than Sartar, to reflect a different style of upbringing. Banditry - Stayed in or near the former Dundealos tribal lands, and lived a precarious existence as bandits. Enslaved - Forced to work in Sartar in Lunar slave camps, or sent to Lunar Tarsh. Players could also choose to be married or adopted into the clan, which opened up even more options. Here is a segment of the Dragon Pass map by Darya Makarava. The river running from Boldhome into Prax (near the Dragonrise), and the surrounding valley, is the campaign's "home base." The river is called the Willow Beck, and the valley is named for the Dundealos Tribe. The Heroes We started with three players, and ended up adding a fourth fairly recently. Garkar - Former bandit, Initiate of Orlanth - Garkar lived as a bandit, and fought against the Empire after the clan was destroyed. The harsh life of banditry formed him into a vengeful, somewhat paranoid man with many grudges (most of his passions start with "Hate"). Garkar has few ambitions other than to see his clan back on their feet, and to punish their old enemies. Erindros - Exile in Esrolia, Initiate of Issaries - Erindros is the scion of one of the two merchant families in the clan. His wealthy aunt in Nochet took him in as a child, and he was raised in the (relative) safety of great city. When the Empire was driven from Sartar, Erindros was encouraged to reclaim his family's land in Dundealos Valley, and he did so (somewhat unwillingly). He discovered his family's farm was in great disrepair, and set about rebuilding it. Erindros is effete and snobbish towards his "barbarian" cousins, but in spite of this he is a great leader in battle. Egajia - Praxian, adopted into the clan by the chieftain, Initiate of Daka Fal - Egajia was born among the High Llama riders, her family were rebels who fought the Lunars alongside Angarr Broad-Back and the Pol-Joni. Her family were all killed, and Angarr adopted her into his own household. She returned to the valley to serve the chieftain as a thane, and lives a strange half-life, spending time with her new kinfolk, and visiting her shaman mentor in Prax. He Who Spits at Chaos (formerly known as Brun) - Exile in Prax, Initiate of Storm Bull - Most of Brun's family were slaughtered by the Lunars after the last Dundealos uprising. He found a sense of belonging with a band of Storm Bull warriors based in Prax. After his initiation, he took his new "name." HWSAC only recently joined the campaign, and is determined to build a shrine to his god on Bardori land, which will also double as an inn and beer hall. His kin appreciate his talent at fighting Chaos, but see his future ambitions as... problematic. Next time... More background material, and covering the campaign events up to the present. Thanks for reading!
    5 points
  4. This years Kraken was shorter than the biannual Gaming Vacation we have gotten used to from the Kraken team, but not having to wait another year for it I was quite happy with a shorter Gaming Retreat. In preparing for Kraken 2015 I found excellent use for the Guide of Glorantha. It worked perfectly as a bookpress for the booklets I was bringing for the Chant-Along event! This year I went down with 3 other Norwegians - Linda (my highly pregnant girlfriend) Jaran and Morten (a Kraken virgin). Me, Linda and Morten took the plane to Berlin on Friday and drove a rented car to Schloss Neuhausen, 2 hours north-west of Berlin, where Kraken is hosted. The Shuttlebus brough Jaran and the rest of the Krakeneers, but as it got stuck in traffic we started the convention with some quiet and relaxing hours at Schloss Neuhausen. When the ShuttleBus finally arrived, it was time for the opening ceremony which was held by the Kraken head organizer Fabian: We had a late night game called "The Omega Option", a Needles and Pins game created and GM'ed by Philip. It was a lot of fun, but due to player screw-up it ended early after about 3 hours with everyone getting sucked out of existence (maybe into a parallel dimension called Universe #1, we'll never know). Saturday started early with the game "Carry on up the Kartolin" a scenario written by Pete Nash for RQ6 (in Glorantha), GM'ed by Mark who had just gotten back to gaming after a long hiatus. We played a chaos infested lunar troop and my character was an ogre with the "Cook Sapient Flesh" skill and a frying pan in his inventory. Only heavy GM railroading kept prisoners and other players from my frying pan... Later the same day, we had Axe throwing and Bow practice under the guidance of Risto, one of our Finnish friends. No major injuries this year either! Then I attended Chaosiums seminar by the name "What's up Chaosium?" hosted by Jeff, Neil and MOB - the contents of which has already been discussed in the forums. Ending that day was the Chant-Along-A-Squid - where we chantet/sung/screamed the ancient lyrics of familiar tunes to summon the old and outer gods. It was the best Chant-Along I've hosted so far, but alas, the world is still not overrun with monsters, so better luck next year! We ate a heart during the Chant-Along. It looked human. I'm not saying it was human, but I'm not not saying it either. It went down with Norwegian potatoe-spirits. Sunday, last full day of the convention, we started with the game "Akkadian Stars" - a science fantasy scenario by Jason Durall, using Magic World rules. Lot of fun! And we survived! Then we had the pancake wars - Finnish vs. Belgian Dutch pancakes. The Finnish took the victory. It took several hours before I recovered from the huge one I ate. Later I had a productive talk with Jeff, Neil and MOB (the Chaosium guys at the Con). We'll get back to this in a few days. Closing ceremony Sunday Evening to mark the end of another great convention at Schloss Neuhausen, with the guests of honor in front: We managed to squeeze in another game in the cellar - "Folklore" - a new fun game by Pedro Ziviani An that was it! Now we have to wait an entire year for more! It comes with my highest recommendations. If you have the chance to attend next year, grab it!
    5 points
  5. I've had the recent fortune of having a few Keeping Conversations with new Keepers. They always want advice, and I am normally happy to provide some, so long as the advice can actually do some good. Most advice given in the world is wrong. Not in of itself, but given with poor timing and without considering someone's improvement needs. Human experience is too varied for advice to do what it is intended to do. It isn't about "what worked for me." It is about what will work for the other person. I've been mentoring colleagues as an educator for many years, and the way we address this problem is by giving less advice and instead asking more questions that can help someone find what they need to be successful. I do believe that there is some baseline advice that can be safely given to new Keepers. 1. MGF (Maximum Game Fun) 2. Work towards balanced involvement at the table. (Quieter people may want to stay quiet, and that's ok. But also, some people need to be invited to participate. You shut down a table hog by inviting others to be involved and using the phrase: "Great idea, I'll come back to you" for people who Bogart time.) 3. Communicate with players early and often. (topics that are off the table, are we at MGF? etc) I think that is pretty safe advice and gives new Keepers actionable things to practice. Anybody can practice asking questions around a table so all are involved. Each of those has their own specific skills that need to develop, but it doesn't hurt to have them as axioms to aspire towards. But what about advice that most Keepers wouldn't immediately think of? What is deeper advice that could make a big difference? I'm specifically thinking about scenario execution. This leads me to the title of this post. I also just want to give a disclaimer here that I am not a scenario designer, nor am I trying to unfairly criticize scenario designers. I don't have those skills, but at the same time, I know what I most frequently change about scenarios. I think there is a generalized fallacy that is assumed in role-playing games that I'll call the "perfect timing fallacy." The idea is that many encounters are designed such that player characters are expected to be in the right place at exactly the right time. This classically manifests itself in a variety of ways. Dungeons are all stocked full of monsters that, for some reason, stick to within the boundaries of their room despite their being open corridors between them. They are always awake. Investigators stumble upon a ritual exactly as it is being completed, or right before they can have an impact. The cop who saw something is on duty when the investigator's ask for them. Monsters in a room are always prepared to fight, or willing to fight. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of those examples, so long as it is fun for the participants. Scenario designers frequently do a great job of proposing "alternatives outside the norm." And sometimes "the norm" is what produces MGF. And that's great. Perfect timing is arguably critical from a narrative standpoint. It moves the narrative along when it needs to move. That isn't lost on me. Managing the ebb and flow of the story at a table is another critical skill for Keepers to develop. But what advantages can be gained by breaking with perfect timing? I think that it is also worth considering the potential benefits of imperfect timing for investigative horror role-playing (or role-playing in general). I think Jaws is a perfect example of using imperfect timing as a narrative tool. Brodie, Quint, and Hooper spend most of the movie too late to do something. And the shark is only barely on screen for the majority of the movie. Them always being late produces a frustration that drives the narrative because it just makes them work harder to engage the threat. Now, imperfect timing works until perfect timing is needed. The movie has a time cap and they gotta ramp it up, so the shark shows up. And when it does show up, the payoff for the audience is huge. They had to work to get the payoff, rather than the payoff just appearing immediately for all to see. So how does this translate as a tool for gaming? Here are some examples: 1) Curating existential dread. Fear of the unknown is one of the greatest and most primal human emotions. This is why horror movies that work are those that don't show the threat ever or until as late as possible in the narrative. In the Jaws example above, the dread is created by the heroes arriving after the shark attacks and seeing the grisly aftermath. And the shark promptly sinks back into the waves and out of actionable distance. It is often better for the Investigators to arrive late to something happening, especially if violence is involved. The pendulum can swing the other way too. Don't underestimate the power of investigators arriving early and then having no idea how to prevent or engage with an issue. Being early and being late is often far more frightening to people than being "right on time." This also has the advantage of really selling the idea that "shooting your gun" or "swinging your club" isn't going to fix this situation. Taking that off the table forces investigators to use other means to address a threat. As always, know your group and what they like. 2) Eliciting healthy struggle. If your players always arrive on time, there may not be as much brain work that they have to do to work out a situation. Speaking for myself, when I play, I love not knowing what is happening with a situation because it encourages me to turn the wheels in the head. This can be particularly useful when players arrive really early and the number of clues present in a location, right at that moment, is minimal. Or, they may stumble upon a total orgy of evidence but have no idea how it all relates to the current time at the current location! That in of itsekf can be frightening. Or, maybe they arrive early or late and what could have been a critical narrative location has now become a red herring. This last one is particularly useful when running games in which the players know the scenario and are struggling not to metagame it! 3) Keeping investigators alive in campaigns. If you play mostly one-offs at conventions, it is understood that the gloves are pretty much off for lethality. People who play CoC at Cons know that their characters aren't likely to live, even if they make a string of good decisions. There is also the "Sandy Petersen killed me" dream of a lot of gamers. But when you do campaign play, it is a completely different ball game. This is an area where communication is key. And while some players are perfectly ok with their character getting slaughtered or going insane at any turn, many players get attached to their characters. If we could criticize one aspect of early (1970s) scenario design, it is that a lot of early scenario work featured "gotcha" deaths that were nearly impossible to avoid if ran as written. That does not contribute to a positive table feel unless it is known in advance to expect that. People often ask me how I am able to Keep (capitalization intended, he he) characters alive when playing campaigns with a reputation for lethality. The answer to that question is that players often arrive early or late to situations that would just end the narrative unnecessarily prematurely. in thinking about MGF for my group, they are very attached to their characters. I think it is incumbent upon CoC Keepers to consider that scoffing at that attitude in players isn't the most productive way to get to MGF, even if you think that "frequent character death and insanity is how CoC should work." This is less about how a game works, and more about how your table works. If you play a game the way it "should work" and your players aren't into that, then you've failed. You can have your cake and eat it too in campaign play. It just takes considering having characters arriving early or late to encounters that are designed to be "right on time." These techniques are not new to horror role-playing. Many published works emphasize rigid or flexible timelines for events. The key is simply to consider the possibility that "right on time" may not be the best decision for maintaining a slow descent into madness. I'm prepared to venture that going extended periods being alive and sane is far more frightening than just dying and going insane instantaneously. Your game will vary, of course. There is a sprawling continuum of what different people find fun. The key is to consider: How can you avoid being trapped by perfect timing as a Keeper?
    4 points
  6. I played RQ3 back in the 1980-ies. I remember running Apple Lane and Trollpak. I also remember the PCs all died when they attacked a Dream Dragon on their way to Pavis. I returned to Glorantha with the new edition and ran a play-by-forum game for awhile. We ran through the Apple Lane scenario of the Gamemaster Screen Pack, and I was hooked. Having found five interested players I've now decided to start a new tabletop campaign. We will play by the new rules, but I've decided to run the old Borderlands campaign set in 1615. As some of the players are new to rpg:s and almost all are new to Glorantha I decided to reduce the number of variables and make them all Sartarite exiles from the Red Cow clan. They will be siblings or cousins, and we will generate their family history together when we meet for our first session tomorrow. I decided on the Red Cow to leave open the remote possibility of having the PCs eventually return to their homeland to run through the Eleven Lights campaign. The probability of the campaign lasting that long is low, but one can dream. The campaign starts ten years earlier than the standard RQ:G-campaign, so I had to rewrite parts of the family history section. With help from the BRP forums and some Glorantha blogs I added events for earlier years. I also decided to replace the personal skill bonuses with added language skills, in order to make the characters be able to communicate in Prax. My plan for the first session is a short intro talk about Glorantha (bronze age, runes, gods etc) and Runequest (skills, deadly, etc) followed by Daine's Briefing. After any questions, we'll do the actual character creation. That might take the entire evening, we'll see. I use Kanka.io to store my information. I've also prepared a Discord server. At the first session we will talk about our attitude to online activities between game sessions.
    4 points
  7. During my time here on BRP I've come to more deeply enjoy the world of Glorantha, and may have gotten some understanding of some of its "secrets", the style with which the texts are often written, and arguably some of the intent behind them. While it's unlikely that anything I write down is totally in line with the canon, it would be fun to try my hand at making up some hopefully-engaging pieces, most likely some kinds of flash fiction and the like. These are my current ideas, off the top of my head: - How Moss Was Made and How Moss Died (Green Age, Greater Darkness Plant Myth) - How Ygg Seastorm Saved The World (Greater Darkness Yggite Myth) - The Tragedy of Shargash, Most Dutiful of Sons (Storm Age and Greater Darkness Shargashite Myth, possibly heretical, definitely secret). - The Buraroxi of Northern Pent (Overview of Storm-worshipping Muskox pastoralists of Northern Pent, not based on Guide material). - Yelmalio the Scapegoat (Low-tradition folktale of the Cold Sun's selfless sacrifice in the Greater Darkness, likely apochryphal). - Rearguard Shale's Last Stand (Greater Darkness Praxian Myth, and guide to gaining spell based on said myth). Not sure when/if they will be made, but I thought I might as well post it up so I don't forget about them.
    4 points
  8. I added to these thoughts over a two-month long period from release of the PDF to this posting. RPG Imaginings Stream-Of-Consciousness Children of Fear Reflections Chapter 1: Reflections: 1) No work in Call of Cthulhu, to my knowledge, has devoted such thoughtful consideration to a common section as the "Involving the Investigators" section in this campaign. Great care has been taken to suggest potential character motivations for beginning the campaign and to designing investigators that are suited to the types of goals for the travel posed. I think this is solid modelling for considerations for any campaign start. 2) The "Experiential Learning" section suggests some of the most developed additions to the game for in situ learning mechanics for players. Anyone who Keeps the game knows that acquisition of specialized skills that are uniquely suited to a particular storyline just doesn't work with the existing RAW of the game, particular with learning languages. Narrative story-telling frequently requires characters to learn specialized skills more quickly. I think many an experienced Keeper (myself included) have resorted to house-ruling in this regard. Its nice to see suggestions for ramped-up skill training to be codified with such detail in an official product. I'm not saying that it is unique to this campaign. Other writers have certainly done variations. This section just seems to hit the problem head on. If a character needs Language (Chinese) to be effective in a campaign, the Keeper needs to give them opportunities to learn Language (Chinese) much more quickly than in the RAW. 3) This brings up another point I forgot to mention. You can also essentially choose the nature of the origin of the key locations as part of this. I know that's vague, but I don't want to spoil anything. Dr. Hardy has given us something like four potential Mythos explanations, making an unprecedented level of Keeper choice to suit the desires of different groups. And, as you say, non-Mythos is an option too! What that does is allow this game to be set into virtually any campaign, because there are options that allow one to fit it in to whatever your particular threat-vision or group aesthetic is. 4) I am also enjoying the "What Your Investigator Knows" handouts as an expeditious way to give context. I'm sad to say that many Western players may not know a lot about the Far East. Sad, yes, but true. And I think these handouts are particularly important for that context. One thing that I have always appreciated about Dr. Hardy's work is that she has a very clear forward-thinking vision as to how games play out, and what the practical needs are of Keepers and players. Chapter 2 Reflections: This campaign has a lot of potential for bringing up the ethical issue of Western interference in Eastern cultural history. I could see that being a major secondary plotline in a campaign. I also like how many of the NPCs are real historical figures. It means lots of additional background information that can be brought in at the Keeper's discretion. Chapter 3 Reflections: 1) Experienced Keepers write tips and options into their writing to give different groups the options they need to have their particular flavor of fun. Subtle things like "reward ingenuity where possible" are important tips. This campaign is chock full of "this or that or this might happen" that helps Keepers anticipate outcomes. 2) Without spoiling too much, there is a campaign-wide mechanic that rates investigator decisions. I've always been a big believer in rewarding or penalizing investigators with tangible and intangible consequences for their choices. It can only help the immersion, in my opinion. RPGs tend to devolve into murder-hoboing simply because there are no consequences for thoughtless play. CoC has always been better at this than most other games. It is a distinct in-theme feature of this campaign. 3) This campaign is particularly good for teaching Keepers how to run campaigns and how to let player choice drive what happens in games. If the Chapters in this book give you the impression that it is "linear" until Chapters 4-6, that couldn't be further from the truth. Other than Masks, I've never seen a greater variety of encounter and lore options within individual Chapters. Many of the options are far more in-tune with the story than the sub-options in Masks. I'm not anti-Masks. I'm saying that there are dimensions of this campaign that very much seem to me to be comparable to Masks, or better. That is a compliment. 4) The campaign won't waste your time giving stat blocks for "generic profession" NPCs. Be real. The stat blocks of "Resident Archeologist" or "This One Priest" doesn't need to be different for the purposes of game execution in different Chapters. The generic professions section of the Appendices is a welcome replacement for (I'm sure unintentionally) wasting page count on producing stat blocks for every individual NPC, over and over again, when 90% of the stats are the same. I'm going slow because I'm a print-reader. I can't read a PDF as fast as I can read print. But I'm really enjoying what I've read so far! I just finished Chapter 3. Yes, I know. I'm slow. I'm a teacher and this is our worst year of our careers. I don't have a ton of time to read and focusing is a struggle right now. Thoughts: 1) Chapter 3 wasn't what I expected. It was better than I expected. The quandary that the investigators are faced with in obtaining a campaign McGuffin is complex and has many potential solutions. It screams "Classic 1920s CoC challenge for academics." I could see any group of players coming up with a unique solution to the problem. 2) The section headed "Missing Pieces" made me laugh out loud. I said to myself: "That escalated quickly." Players may not be able to succeed in their McGuffin-finding. No worries. The "solution" to their failure is dark. And I can imagine a major NPC nonchalantly explaining to them, with a straight face, what they would need to do. Good stuff. 3) I can't help but think of Dr. Hardy's scenario Scritch Scratch when reading this Chapter. @Lynne H, can you confirm that you are a fan of a particular terrestrial mammal? Chapter 4 reflections: I really enjoyed this Chapter and it was a quick read. 1) <compliment sandwich> I have many reasons for loving and playing CoC, and an opportunity to learn world and local history is one of the big ones. This Chapter is REALLY scratching my itch for that. There are dimensions of Buddhist and Hindu culture that are likely to really challenge some Western readers. And I think that is great. We grow when we are challenged. I'll give an example that I think is prescient. Some cultures feature genital mutilation as a rite of passage. These practices are (rightly) highly controversial, debated, and sources of activism in Western culture. But it is an incredibly challenging discussion because of the Western history of colonization attitudes, manifest-destiny policies, and aggressive attempts to covertly and/or overtly supplant indigenous religion. I'm not saying that to debate it here, but rather draw an analogy. The point is that there are aspects of culture here that are certainly likely to make Western players squeamish. I applaud Lynne for challenging readers. 2) For those of you who think I'm just a Chaosium yes-man, I do have a gripe at this stage. And it could just be my own ignorance of Eastern geography that is the real problem. There is a LOT of geographic territory covered in this campaign, much of it that Western readers may not recognize. That's fine, but I think there are aspects of the text that could do a bit of a better job of helping a Keeper out with locations. I recognize that this isn't likely to change before publication. Specifically, there will be sections that will talk a lot about specific routes that investigators could take in between locations. A lot of the time, half of the names don't appear on the maps. And maybe that is ok, because the intent is just to name the options without mapping it out for the sake of red-lining expediency. I'll reference the page 158 section "Getting to Sitavana" as an example. This is an example of a section in which a lot of locations have been mentioned before, but the maps of the immediate area in the Chapter don't mention half of the locations presented. This could be a problem for me in that I am simply a visual learner, or because I just need to accept the fact that the descriptions are simply "performance aides" for the Keeper to sound like they know the region. I just personally prefer text mentions of locations to be over-represented in maps. I recognize that there is an aesthetic variable of not making maps too busy. When I balance all those variables I end on the "frustration" side as a reader/Keeper, and that makes it worth mentioning to me. 3) I love the table on 168. It may be my favorite use of Luck as an investigator stat in anything I have read. He he he. In addition, given how important "ritualism" is in CoC, I think this particular table is a really good model for a general mechanic for any Keeper to use in setting investigators on a task to prepare effectively for a ritual. Ritual components do not just have to be a binary (you have a component or you don't). The quality of the component can and should matter. From a metagaming perspective, it is just another way to reward players who are careful and intelligent in how they solve problems. </compliment sandwich> 4) Full credit for use of the word "susurrations." #OxfordEnglishDictionary? 😜 5) I find Handout: Bones 5 to be interesting. It's good to have for Keepers needing expediency and could be ditched entirely by Keeper's wishing to have the teaching by the lama be a role-playing set piece that require players to carefully learn their role for the ritual. Different groups will value different approaches, and any could be successful here. A lot depends upon the prior choices players make earlier. 6) Suggested manias and phobias for a Keeper in specific situations are always appreciated. As is the Keeper aide provided on page 180! It is now time to bust out an overview book I have on world religions and delve more deeply into Buddhism and Hinduism. I think it may actually help me to appreciate the campaign even more! Chapter 5 first part 1) The use of dreams to continue to drive the action is a common and useful Call of Cthulhu trope. What sets this campaign apart from many scenarios/campaigns is the detail given in each Chapter to aide the Keeper in describing those dreams to players. Many scenarios will vaguely say things like “use dreams to keep the tension up for players” or something of the like. And in a short scenario, that may be perfectly adequate. But in a campaign of this size, the detail given to theming dreams as a cohesive whole while aiding Keepers with specifics is much appreciated. 2) The campaign really (rightly) punishes groups that don’t take on the aide of a major NPC. I mean, I won’t ever tell a group what to do or how to play a specific subset of investigators. But if they elect not to take the aide of this character, they’re really hamstringing themselves. Personally, as a Keeper, I would do everything that I could to subtly encourage them to take his aide. The person I’m referring to is also a very interesting character for role-playing, and I feel like a running of this campaign would suffer by side-lining him. I’m curious as to how it play-tested, which groups kicked him to the curb immediately, and how they fared as a result. I mean, the campaign writes in detailed suggestions for what to do if this happens, but I gotta think that option is only for groups that are really deliberately golf-handicapping themselves. I don't think this is a flaw of the campaign. I think that CoC groups should always avoid alienating potential allies. I've played in enough Con games to know that a lot of role-players can't help but engage in self-sabotage. If it's in character, fine. Just not my style. 3) I think Chapter 5 illustrates why a balance was struck for overall campaign locations. Anticipating travel between three locations, when the players can take them in any order, gets real complex real fast. People like things in threes. A fourth location would really increase the complexity. There is a lot of dense travel information in Chapter 5, but it would have to go somewhere. The decision was clearly made to arrange Chapters according to a “typical” route, which I think was the correct choice, with Chapter 5 including the “flex travel info” needed depending upon individual group choices. When needed by a Keeper, this information would be key. Chapter 5 second part Just finished Chapter 5. I doubt I'm going to be able to read the whole thing before it goes to print. Professional duties and a bunch of life groin-kicks have gotten in the way. If you want to pay me to be a proofreader I could finish it in time. 😜 I did find zero typos in the second half of Chapter 5, so kudos to the first few passes! 1) There are two boxes in Chapter 5 that do a really nice job of helping Keepers stay engaged on over-arching plot points and mechanics. 2) This section of the text answers a key concern I had with motivation and plot. I don't want to spoil it here, but if you're wondering how the baddies are able to do a baddie thing that at first seems illogical or unlikely, there is a very elegant explanation for how it happens. Makes sense. 3) I like the ally/antagonist/friend of my enemy is an enemy dynamic in the latter part of the Chapter! Chapter 6 reflections: I've been trying to synthesize my thoughts on this Chapter and what I keep coming back to is that the skills of the Keeper are going to factor in tremendously as to how it goes. I think that the "main event" featured in this Chapter is a real challenge to run, largely because it centers around the age-old table issue of how to work with players who have lost game autonomy. The key, I think, is description. Skilled Keepers are going to be at a great advantage in successfully running this Chapter. This Chapter is not for novice Keepers, and I predict that a novice Keeper could find themselves in a tough spot in which their players feel like the outcome was pre-ordained (even if it wasn't) or that their "success" was entirely due to chance. In addition, players could very well feel railroaded if a Keeper isn't careful at describing what they see. I'm not saying this is a "bad" Chapter. Just that I think it is very challenging to run effectively. I suppose I could make the argument about the whole campaign too. You need solid Keeper skills to run this. There are a lot of rolls for the Main Event. I personally would not use the quantity of rolls suggested, but the rolls seem more designed to "prevent the investigators from failing" rather than "helping them succeed." The question will be what the "right" amount of rolls will be for a particular group, as I could see my group considering these rolls to be tedious. All that said, the "main event" of this Chapter is the event that the game has built up to until this point. It is potentially very grisly and will need some level of veil for some groups. My group would, for sure, need it veiled, because of some pretty intense body horror. But for groups who like that sort of thing, it will scratch the morbid itch. There are a lot of very useful Keeper aides in this Chapter that will help one keep track of the logistics. Dr. Hardy is truly a master of practical Keeping, in this regard. In most role-playing supplements, many of us find ourselves needing to spend time constructing even the most basic aides to run a certain game, and Dr. Hardy has anticipated the most critical of that work! This Chapter has some really nice art. The Karmic Balance mechanic sees direct utility here and I appreciate the description offered as to how each investigator may be impacted differently depending upon their Balance. Tons of options are given here as to how to proceed with or conclude the campaign at this stage. There is a lot of fodder here for surviving investigators to continue within this narrative, or on to other adventures. Great care was clearly taken in suggesting options here. I really like the setup of classic Mythos villain combined with new creature in this Chapter. This campaign oozes "classic" 1920s as written. I truly believe, after six Chapters, that this one is going to go down in history as one of the greats. Chapter 7 reflections: This Chapter is an absolute delight. It not only follows a classic investigative arc, but adds depth and humanity to some campaign creatures in a Runequest Trollesque kind of way. This isn't unique to this campaign (Paper Chase is another notable example), but it is a Chaosium tradition to add depth and ethics to foes treated far more stereotypically by most game companies. That's why I play the types of games Chaosium makes. More deferential to quality story-telling. Less brutish, more intellectual. How's that for a compliment? 1) There are several plot-oriented environmental hazards in this Chapter that follow both the larger and smaller plot. Variety of challenge is the spice of life and this Chapter has it. 2) Care has been taken here to provide options for combat-oriented or investigation-oriented groups. There is nothing lazier (in my personal opinion) than role-playing scenarios that resort to "fight happens here because we need a fight." It happens way too often in role-playing writing. Yes, partly because some groups "expect" it. But many of us find it tired and cliched. This campaign is largely investigative and cultural and I cannot stress enough how important it it to me that Chaosium and Dr. Hardy have the courage to produce a campaign targeted at those of us who prefer classic character-interaction-focused gaming experiences. 3) This Chapter has a tremendous amount of utility, either in the context of this campaign or elsewhere. I think that even if the Investigators "succeed" and technically "end" the campaign in Chapter 6, Chapter 7 could quite easily serve as a backdrop for many different further adventures. There is a lot of substitution that can be had here. Dr. Hardy has created a wonderful underground "playground." I plan to use the framework of this scenario very soon in my own campaign, but with replacing the location, creatures, and McGuffin(s) with situations and objects unique to my own campaign. 4) The action location map is truly wonderful. I love great cartography. 5) There is just so much cross-referencing in this book. And I love that. Makes everything so much easier to run and to prepare for, for a Keeper. This is truly a campaign that serves as a culmination of everything we've learned about effective practical game-running in decades in the hobby. 6) Loving the suggestion of a non-human NPC joining the party if they are short on characters. Chapter 8 reflections: 1) If you like tea, like I do (I'm partial to Jasmine and a good Darjeeling), this is the Chapter for you. I remember fondly my tour of the Cutty Sark when I visited London in '14. 2) If you have a charismatic villain, use them! I love the very forward approach here. 3) The environmental hazards escalate and are liable to be incredibly unnerving to the Investigators. Reminds me of certain popular science fiction franchises that shall remain unnamed. Perfect for Call of Cthulhu. Like elements of the prior Chapter, these could be dropped into any game. 4) There are tough ethical decisions in this Chapter for the grand finale. I appreciate the playtest notes and Keeper hints as to how investigator creativity might help them avoid a gruesome fate. 5) I like learning British colloquialisms from Call of Cthulhu authors from across the pond: "or by the investigators making a hash of things." Appendix A (NPCs) reflections: 1) I very much like this idea of having a "stable" of generic NPCs by occupation to draw from. This campaign spans multiple countries over potentially a year and naming all of the NPCs that the characters might encounter in a Chapter wouldn't be feasible. Or it would just bloat the page count. 2) "couldn't give two figs about the concept of customer service" LOL 3) As with the previous comment, there are quite a few quality exercises in humor in this section. Don't skip the backgrounds of the generic NPCs! 4) The "real person" vignettes are a welcome addition. 5) The characters in this section could be used in virtually any campaign, with some modifications to cultural placement. Appendix B reflections: 1) I think it is a really nice gesture for Chaosium to include the nearly full text of some Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos Magic spells in this text. Many of us, of course, possess the book, but some may not. It has allowed Dr. Hardy to use the full command of "the catalogue" in her writing, without setting some readers at a disadvantage. Many companies would quite cynically either cheapen the depth of narrative to not require it, or simply require the book to get full use of the campaign. Chaosium is considerate of gamers. 2) There are a lot of really nice "utility" style spells in this Appendix that I could see being very useful and interesting for a lot of investigative groups, even outside the confines of the campaign. They are all also appropriately costed, meaning that they aren't like DND cantrips or anything where they could be cast on a whim. Many require large investments of Magic points, so if an investigator wants to utilize them, they must be used infrequently. POW expenditures abound too. I am very much of the school of thought that investigators should have access to lots of spells in the game (this is an unpopular opinion), but that the costs of learning them and the costs of casting should be such that they really need to think long and hard if their use is "worth it." Mask of Reason stands out to me as a really fun spell (a key to this campaign!) with a cost "the number of Magic points the target possesses!" There are lots of twists on spell costs like that in this section. Another notable: "All Magic points but one," reflecting that the spell just basically exhausts your eldritch reserves. Appendix C reflections: I commented on this section in my early reading. This campaign is arranged so that Investigators may be regional. In that case, these handouts become "common knowledge" for your character. For non-regional investigators, these handouts effectively become "investigative red-lining" so that the first step of entering any populated area doesn't need to be a Library Use roll if that process can be expedited. Library Use rolls are reserved for highly specialized info instead. Interestingly, this is an example of a Call of Cthulhu campaign that isn't as heavily dependent upon the Library Use skill as others! Appendix D reflections: 1) The need for overland travel in this region of the world is critical and the hiring of porters and guides is an absolute must. As such, this section gives you all the guidelines needed to work through the process. I can see it as being a key obstacle at the start of the campaign that gets progressively more "red-lined" as the action continues. 2) The perspective on the photo on page 254 is fun. There is a train of four camels, two riding abreast, but the photo makes it look like there are five- or six-legged camels. 3) As a part of the travel process, this Keeper would likely offer Investigators improvements in a concentrated area of their choice for observing the caravan in operation. Navigate, Survival, and Appraise (as reflected in the need to barter) might be candidates. 4) The Travel Times tables are super useful. In reading the text (I tend to read books sequentially, so didn't look ahead here) I was concerned about keeping track of travel times. This is handled with these Keeper aides! Appendix E reflections: 1) I will definitely be checking out the resources listed here to learn more! Call of Cthulhu gives wonderful opportunities to learn. 2) The music suggestions are something that tends to not be included in these sections and is refreshing here. Targeted key words to search for on YouTube will make it very easy for Keepers to find appropriate regional music quickly. Appendix F reflections: 1) Handout quality is superb, as is befitting one of Call of Cthulhu's signature features. Do you expect anything less? I'll tell you, once you play a game like Call of Cthulhu it's really hard to take the handouts of a lot of other RPGs seriously. I love Curse of Strahd, but the four handouts that the game offers, in the context of that game, is just a joke. Yes, I will throw shade at DND here. 2) I appreciate that the large regional map on 384-385 is full-page with no page numbers. 3) Subtle additions, like the external view of the Peshawar Museum on 391, are greatly appreciated. Appendix G reflections: This is an example of a campaign where I would probably ask my players to seriously consider using the pre-generated investigators. In lieu of that, I might ask them to re-spec their existing characters as "alternate universe" versions with slightly different backstories that match the skills proficiencies of these pre-gens. Although this campaign oozes Classic-era 1920s, I don't consider "Miskatonic Country" skill sets to be useful for this campaign. Index reflections: I've commented on the extensive cross-referencing in this campaign before, and the index is very detailed. It includes multiple topical sections which will, no doubt, be very useful for Keepers. Final thoughts (While drinking a cup of Blue Shadow tea. Yes, we have tea shops in Omaha, Nebraska. No, we aren't all farmers. 😜 ) I haven't run Children of Fear, so note that these have been my reflections on first read-through. I think this campaign is exceptional, with an incredible amount of depth. I also think that this is a great overall addition to the Call of Cthulhu product line. Like Masks, this is not a campaign for novice Keepers. Chaosium has done a great job over 7th edition of providing resources for novice (Gateways to Terror, Call of Cthulhu Starter Set, Doors to Darkness), intermediate (Mansions of Madness Volume 1, Harlem Unbound, Two-Headed Serpent, A Cold Fire Within) and advanced (Masks of Nyarlathotep, Children of Fear, Horrors on the Orient Express) Keepers. It will take a fair amount of research and Keeper skill to run this effectively. But the result will be a spectacular foray into Hindu and Buddhist mythology, as well as a lot of regional culture. There is a lot here to challenge people. Cannibalism, human-sacrifice, and charnal grounds are all aspects of Eastern religions that are likely to challenge Western players. Keepers will need to take care to know their groups and veil where appropriate. That is not a criticism. This campaign takes risks, and it will require an empathetic Keeper to mitigate the outcome of those risks. I've commented many times before that Dr. Hardy and the Chaosium team know what it is like to run games. They are in our heads in writing this campaign. Running it will be easier as a result of their hard work. I also need to comment that this is my style of Call of Cthulhu game. The emphasis here is largely on role-playing interaction, learning, exploration, and investigation. This is what Call of Cthulhu is, at it's core, in my opinion. It is different than a lot of Miskatonic Country investigations, and that is ok. We're globe-trotting here. And this is a region of the world hitherto not explored in-depth in Call of Cthulhu history. I'm a "physical book gamer," so I likely won't run any aspect of this until the hard copy is released in February/March. I'll be picking up the Leatherette, as is befitting of a legacy work like this. So, @Lynne H, I hope to hell you're proud of this work, because you should be.
    3 points
  9. Huge step for this industry.
    3 points
  10. 3 points
  11. More Character Creation We started our RQG campaign back in March. At this point I don't actually remember how many sessions we've had, something like 8-10. Before character creation, I gave everyone a brief overview of the setting. I explained that their characters' choice of cult was one of the most important, and probably something they should have in mind beforehand. At first, I was kind of reluctant to do the Family History generation. I wanted to fit character creation into one session, and I feared that we wouldn't be able to. Thankfully, my players insisted that we go for it, and I'm now glad they did. Here are some notable highlights for each characters' history. Garkar - Grandmother was a bandit who fought to save Boldhome, then was killed by the Sambari Tribe. Father fought in Starbrow's Rebellion, and was killed by the Lunars. Garkar nearly starved during the Great Winter, and lost other family to troll raids. Fought in the Liberation of Pavis. Erindros - Grandfather was killed at Grizzly Peak. Mother was a Dundealos Vingan warrior who fought in many uprisings against the Lunars, but died of illness. Erindros fought in the Siege of Nochet, and distinguished himself at Pennel Ford. Egajia - Grandmother was (oddly) a Lhankor Mhy sage who married into the High Llama Tribe. Father was a typical Praxian who died in a raid on the Redwood Elves. Egajia refused to pledge loyalty to Argrath, due to the influence of her new Dundealos kin (the Dundealos distrust anyone who would revive Jaldon Goldentooth). Took part in the Liberation of Pavis, but was nearly driven insane by Lunar magic. Garkar and Erindros' players rolled up fairly average characters, who excelled at a few things (fighting and bargaining respectively), but were rather poor at using spirit magic. Egajia ended up having very impressive stats for a future shaman (POW 20, CHA 18), and a spirit combat skill of 125%, partly thanks to her encounter with the Lunar demons. For occupations, Garkar chose warrior, Erindros chose the life of a merchant, and Egajia went with assistant shaman. We had to discuss how these occupations fit in with their character histories. Garkar technically started as a bandit, but after the clan's return to the valley, became a weaponthane for the new chieftain. Erindros had learned the merchant trade with his family in Esrolia, and decided to expand the family business to Sartar. Egajia's role as an assistant shaman was somewhat hard to explain, due to the great demands placed on assistants by their mentors. We decided she would have an agreement worked out with the clan chieftain where she would spend roughly half a season serving him as a thane, and the other half in Prax with her shaman teacher. Early Sessions - The Sacred Rooster The first session of actual gameplay involved a journey east into Prax. It took place in late Earth Season, 1625. The clan was still in the process of trickling back to their ancestral lands, but the PC's had all returned. A new chieftain, Angarr Broad-back, had been chosen by the clan. He in turn had chosen his Inner Ring, including a mix of cults and people representing different groups from the exile. The PC's, being prominent heroes already, were considered to all be thanes on the Clan Ring. Other clans in the Dundealos Tribe had also returned by this time. Most of these had to create new wyters for their clans, although a few had managed to preserve their old wyter. The Bardori wyter was traditionally bound in a red rooster, supposedly of a lineage of males going back to before Time began, originally owned by the clan's founder. The last wyter was defeated and lost during the most recent uprising. Angarr had resigned himself to creating a new wyter from a less exalted lineage of birds, at the risk of weakening the clan's magic. However, he began having recurring dreams of being trapped in a cage, and looking out on the chaparral of Prax. He believed that the old clan wyter still lived in it's original body, and was trying to communicate with him through visions. The chieftain summoned Erindros, Garkar, and Egajia to discuss his dreams. He explained that the Sacred Rooster was likely imprisoned somewhere in Prax, and described a place of weeping statues, with a small sheltered pool nearby. He also mentioned seeing a man with a painted face, wearing a long-horned headdress. He asked the three of them to travel east to the oasis of Day's Rest, and determine if anyone could help them find the place, or the mysterious man. The chieftain provided everyone with riding beasts and supplies. They set off for Day's Rest, which took more than two days to reach. On the way, they encountered a group of Morokanth travelling with their herd-men. Egajia attempted to give them gifts from the clan, and ask if they knew any information to help their mission. She addressed them through song and dance, hoping to flatter and praise them. Unfortunately, she made a poor choice of improvised lyrics and compared them to stupid beasts (the result of a fumble). Instead of talking with them, the Morokanth commanded their herd-men to chase them away and pelt them with feces. Which they did, quite successfully (after all, you can't parry flying projectiles). Eventually the party arrived at Day's Rest, tired and still covered with shit. The oasis was bustling with activity, as the Sable Tribe had recently been driven out, and the oasis claimed by the Bison Tribe. The party planned to stay the night at a Geo's Inn called the Shady Rest, run by a person (gender unclear) named Fosli the Beautiful. They were permitted to bathe behind the stables. Day's Rest included an inn, an Issaries Market, and several sandstone dwellings on one side of the watering hole. On the other side, the Bison Riders made their camps, near a small village of Oasis Folk. The party set about ingratiating themselves to everyone around, seeing if they could gather some information. Egajia met with a group of Bison Riders led by one Mokwar, all apparently Storm Bull cultists. Gaining their trust, she learned that they were hunting a shaman from the Sable Tribe, an enemy of their clan and a Lunar collaborator. After describing to them the man from the chieftain's dream, they confirmed that he was likely the same shaman, named Keshluk. Egajia told them about the place with the weeping statues, and they claimed to know of a place half a day's ride east which fit the description. Unfortunately, the Bison Riders were ready to spring into action immediately and investigate the place, and the party was forced to ride after them in great haste. They rode until sunset, and then approached several tall rock formations, which sheltered an ancient courtyard of ruined statues. The Bison Riders charged in. They quickly found their shaman, but he had been dead for several days, and picked at by vultures. They rode off, leaving the party to poke around on their own. Garkar noticed that Keshluk's throat had been cut, and his various charms and fetishes had been smashed around his body. No one could immediately locate the Sacred Rooster, or any other valuables in the shaman's camp. Egajia used Second Sight to look for any spiritual activity. She found that there were several powerful Death Spirits gathered around the shaman's ghost, which was writhing in pain. They appeared to be inflicting some kind of spiritual torture on him. She attempted to communicate with them, and determined that they had been enslaved to Keshluk, and were now enacting their revenge. They spoke only in the vaguest of terms, and mentioned the shaman being killed by "the boy." No sooner had the spirits mentioned this, than the party was attacked from the shadows by three human-like figures. Up close, they realized that these figures were human, but likely possessed by malevolent spirits of some kind. Their heads, hands and feet were all twisted backwards, and their fingers sprouted long claws. Garkar and Erindros held them off while Egajia engaged them in spirit combat to drive out the possessors. The party defeated them fairly quickly, and the spirits fled after being driven from their hosts, fearing Egajia. The three attackers appeared to be from the Sable Tribe. They needed healing after their bodies had been so grossly malformed. Simple spirit magic fixed the problem. The party bound and interrogated their attackers, and learned that two of them had served as bodyguards to the shaman, and the other, a young boy, was his apprentice. The boy, named Maralak, had murdered his master after he returned from a taxing journey in the Spirit World. Keshluk was apparently a cruel man, and the boy regretted nothing. Except for the fact that all of the shaman's bound spirits were set free, and then took control of Maralak and the bodyguards. The Sable men asked to be ransomed back to their tribe. The party agreed. Maralak told them of a cave nearby where Keshluk kept his valuables. The entrance to the cave was blocked by an earth elemental, which moved when Maralak spoke a certain word. Within the cave, they found the Sacred Rooster, along with other stolen goods and charms. The clan wyter was happy to see it's kinfolk. It had been trapped in a cage made of wicker and iron nails, which sapped it's magic points. The party destroyed the cage (it had been built specifically to hold the wyter), and looted the shaman's former belongings. The heroes traveled back to Day's Rest, and paid an Issaries priest to bring their captives to Pimper's Block for ransom, in return for a percentage. They returned to Bardori lands in triumph, and the chieftain threw them a feast. The wyter had returned just in time for the chieftain to perform a heroquest that would ensure the hens' fertility, and that they would produce a supernatural surplus of eggs to enjoy in the winter. This involved a ritual dance in full regalia for the chieftain and his wife, and then the two of them spending a vigorous night together. Thank you for reading! I've been trying to stick with the seasonal model for my campaign. This first session was the Earth Season adventure, next time, Dark Season 1625. P.S. Comments are welcome, but no chicken jokes please, I've heard them all from my players.
    3 points
  12. Last night was my first time GMing Runequest. As a veteran GM of DND (all versions since 2) and Call of Cthulhu, the challenge for me was making sure that I effectively communicated just enough Glorantha lore, system feel, and fun all in one evening. I think it went well. I did a lot of prep for this game, with most it focusing on making sure I had blocks of text to introduce lore, and that my players had the resources to engage with the combat system. Example: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10uZrm72-Sd6_CAA0L8tWetBnomVZqw9Bw2QHuetI2zA/edit?usp=sharing I recognize that there are probably errors in that document. Feedback is appreciated. Try to see all the newness through a new player's lens! Cattle Raid spoilers to follow. My players chose from among a pre-selected sub set of the starters. I included the complete rules text of every one of their spirit and rune spells, including the stat for the rune they were associated with next to it. The goal being to not have to flip through a book or packet in order to know what they could do. I began by reading the "blurb" at the start of the QuickStart and added in some specific information about the Dragonrise. My players were really interested in the in media res aspect of starting with a cataclysmic event. I began by just having them walking through Apple Lane and seeing a sign advertising the need for a group of heroquesters to protect local cattle. This was a good opportunity to emphasize some culture of Glorantha and I had them make some culture and homeland rolls. The fruits of these rolls were gaining some reasons as to why their characters would want to take risks to protect cows. I tied these reasons to their passions as well, particularly loyalty and devotion to temples. This provided a further opportunity to talk about passions and augmentation. I introduced Brightflower, who served as a strong intro NPC to give them further reasons to help. I also used this as an opportunity for them to introduce their characters using the italic text on the sheets. Brightflower played off of each one after they gave their little speech and I used her as a vehicle to give the players some insights into the motivations of their characters, given how new everything was. The big challenge of the first adventure of a brand new game is that players really don't even know what questions to ask. So, as GM, my job becomes finding creative ways to feed them information from the adventure text questions, without it seeming canned. I think I did a good job of bringing up some things to get them thinking. They took the job and suggesting bothering after Brightflower offered the 50 Lunar. They lead with room and board as an add-on, but Brightflower was so impressed with their Critical success roll on Bargain that she upped the sakkar fee to 100 Lunar. She fetched Heotarl (who I nickname Tarl, because I find Heortarl awkward to pronounce) and they set off for the Gejay Hills! I portrayed Heortarl as written in the text, being a bit overeager towards heroquesting. I went and had him express marriage interest in one of the Adventurers as a way to introduce the "forwardness" of Glorantha social custom. My players did a great job of playing off of what I was doing. I was able to include in the information that Heortarl is designed to give the players about ignorance of the ruins, as well as setting up the Orlevings as an antagonist. Upon arrival at the herd, I used Jareena as a counterpoint to Heortarl, with her chiding him for his "frequent proposals" to young women. One of my player's played Nathem and asked if she could send her Shadowcat on a scouting mission. I wasn't sure how to play this, given that I don't know the extent to which trained Shadowcat's "follow orders" like familiars in DND. So, I had her roll Nathem's Beast Rune. She got a regular success, which I deemed as not good enough for the Cat to go wandering off away from the safety of the fire. I wasn't trying to say "no," so much as do what I thought was realistic. I also wasn't interested in her losing her shadowcat by it just being eaten by sakkars, although maybe that was the most exciting play. Let me know what you think about that? The group followed the cattle the next day, as written. My players made judicious use of Scan and Search to find some sakkar scat. One of my players rolled Critical on Scan and noted a significant rustling in the grass right before the sakkars attacked. Cattle Raid suggests that the sakkars don't want to fight humans. While I totally understand that from a Runequest flavor perspective, I was getting the impression that my group was ready for action, and it was starting to get late anyway. So, I elected to have them fight to the death. Here is the map I prepared for the encounter. Solid lines are increasing elevation and dashed lines are decreasing. The X is where the sakkar attack occurred, and the circled letters refer to the herders. T is HeorTarl. I asked the players how they planned to move with the herd and they elected to spread out. I deliberately made the scale large to increase the tension. I also made a point to emphasize with them that the down slope towards the upper left of the diagram leads to Orleving farm lands. My players did discover that the Varmandi had been grazing within Orleving boarder stone boundaries prior to this. This close proximity made them appropriately nervous. The sakkars attacked! My plan was to keep them near the kills and to feed on them, until anyone chose to intervene. With my players being spread our over the whole map, the challenge was getting them involved with combat and not be sidelined just because of positioning. Vostor was the only one close to the attack, and he elected to use his javelin as a melee weapon. A big part of this first combat was players figuring out "how this works" and I think they did a fine job given the newness and circumstances. They did a good job of attempting augments with skills like bargain, homeland, culture, etc, but really struggled with the idea of augmenting weapon attacks. This is my fault because I could have done a better job of emphasizing that weapons could be augmented too! The "it is whatever it says on my character sheet" mentality is potentially a barrier for people coming over from other games, because skill augmentation is pretty novel for most role-players. Mobility was the most commonly used Spirit Magic and the player playing Yanioth was absolutely dead set on making the biggest Earth Elemental possible to deal with the threat of the sakkars and I couldn't blame them. The beginning of the combat was a brief introduction to how Strike Rank works and the logic of it was well-received by my players. The first few rounds were largely positioning rounds and getting out of the way of cattle. I had the cattle split into three main groups, and having the map really helped here. Players really had a lot of positioning choice and many of them were adept at "finding the gaps" between the three groups to avoid being trampled. Everyone had to make at least one DEX roll and nobody was trampled! But the THREAT of the trample played out really well and definitely influenced the sense of threat. Vostor immediately took a savage gut swipe to his abdomen from the big male sakkar. 17 points to that one location! I basically was fudgy on the movement rules during this section. I recognized that the scale I provided for the map was perhaps a little too much on the harsh side for the combat, as some players were starting hundreds of meters away from the battle. They used Mobility and full moves to get there as quickly as possible. On the other side of the coin, I recognized immediately that I had set it up risking a lot of players just being straight up irrelevant in the battle. Which is not a good thing. So, that resulted in some generous movement responses to player decisions. I didn't play it perfectly by the numbers, because if I did, it really would have punished some players who basically made the logical choice to protect on all sides. That said, Harmast was close enough to Vostor to be able to get to him with a healing potion. We did the Strike Ranks accurately (Dropped weapon, 5 SR take out potion, 5 SR administer) but I did fudge the movement a little. With mobility, Vasana and Yanioth were able to cross the field and get to the threat by the fourth round. Yanioth dropped all four of her Rune points to make a medium elemental and used it to engulf the female sakkar. Vasana trampled it's head with her Bison, killing it. Harmast made a special success sword attack against a failed parry of the male sakkar and it went to the head! It didn't quite do triple damage to the head, but given that it was at less than zero main hit points, I called it a beheading. Where was Nameth this whole time? Nameth ran after Heortarl to guard against any shenanigans with the Orlevings. I had Nameth see two riders in the distance. She (the player) grappled Heortarl to prevent him from doing anything stupid. She wasn't able to wrestle him to the ground. Deseros and Erlanda approached and I played out the expected threats between them and Heortarl. Kari did a great job of rune and passion augments to bargain with them. With a great speech, a logical augment, and a good roll, she talked them into only taking half of the cattle from this sub herd! So, all told, the group only lost 18 cattle and managed to eliminate the sakkar threat. Yes, I know that cuts across the "sakkar run" tactic of the scenario, but based upon the combination of time, table feel, and this being their first adventure, I felt that it was appropriate to have a longer fight. Even if that cuts against the "monsters and people flee" rule of Runequest. We did get the cultural thing in at the end with Nameth and the Orlevings and the negotiation. Most importantly, they want to play again. So, the current plan is to play Defending Apple Lane for our next session! Questions: 1) What do you think about the Shadowcat situation above? Do Shadowcats "follow orders" like familiars? Whether they can or not, how would you have avoided an effective "no" under that situation? 2) Is an elemental's damage physical or magical damage? In other words, does Armor apply? I wasn't sure in the moment, so I made it physical, with the hope being that Yanioth would roll a 4, 5, or 6 on its damage to overcome armor. She rolled a five, and it was appropriately epic, but I'm wondering if I played it correctly. It just seems odd to me that you'd drop four rune points to control an elemental, roll a two for damage result when it engulfs, and have the elemental do no damage to a foe with armor. Seems a potentially huge waste of a large rune point investment. 3) I wasn't sure how creatures with natural weapons "parry," so I just used their claw statistic. Correct? 4) Any skill not in any NPCs list happens at base value, correct? The biggest aide that was missing was a list of skill base values, and I will have that for the next session. Thanks for reading!
    3 points
  13. We just had another upgrade of the BRP Central software. The last big one was a move from the bloating vBulletin software to Invision Power Board. Lost some downloads in the process and had quite a bit of hassles with it, but a major step forward from an administrator point of view. Or current update went from IPS 3 to IPS 4, which got all the downloads deleted. I kinda freaked out, but with help from the support staff at IPS it was restored from a backup the next day. Just the pictures out of the cardboard boxes and up on the walls again. Will probably still be some bugs to iron out, but I'm confident that can be managed. A currrent bug is that you can sign in with your display name but not email, even though the text says both can be used. Please just report any bugs you encounter, or any improvements you would like to see. There just might be a setting to tweak for it!
    3 points
  14. (Note: Bold text refers to a Trait, Ability, or Rune that a character in question has). DRAMATIS PERSONAE Androgenus, a genderfluid Esrolian Eurmali trickster with the Illuminated Illusion, Earth, and Luck runes. They're out for blood vengeance against anyone who's ever victimized their family, their clan, and their homeland. in that order. Recently illuminated as part of a Heroquest that gave them temporary use of the Infinity Rune. Now missing the Rune, and grappling with the fact that his role as a Trickster may be just as meaningless as the society he rebelled against. Iris, an Esrolian Earth Priestess in service to the Goddess of Moss (I don't know who that would be in actuality, but when her player heard "land of ten thousand goddesses," she immediately came up with a gaggle of minor Earth goddesses that barely anyone might care about). She's got the Earth, Movement, and Spirit runes. Iris wants power at all costs, and now finds herself with an opportunity for it. Waddlestomp the Bloodybeaked, a Hueymakti Duck thane with the Water, Death, and Truth runes. He has sworn a dread oath that he will personally slay one human for every Duck that is or has ever been killed or otherwise victimized by human hands. Played by the oldest in our group, and the most experienced with Glorantha. He wields an enchanted shield originally crafted by the Square Circle Temple, and is making grim plans. and finally K'dud (pronounced Ka-Dude, after the persona of a Knight in our local chapter of the SCA). K'dud is a Caladralander priest of Vestkarthan, God of Volcanoes, and also an initiate into the cults of Gustbran and Kalvan as well. He holds the Fire, Law, and Mastery runes. He is a master of the Bronze Arms and Sharp Soul schools of unarmed combat, and seeks to help his people navigate the uncertain future after Belintar's death. To this end, he's attached himself to Iris and her gang of misfits, but more on that later. So last week, the heroes had killed Harrek the Berserk, one of the prophecied capitol-H Heroes of the Hero Wars. This week, the players wanted to rest on their laurels for a moment, lick their wounds, and let the player of the late Zonthor ease his new character into the game. I had other plans. We began the game at a celebratory feast in honor of our heroes, having slain (and barely survived the slaying of) Harrek the Berserk. The heroes were seated at a high table in the royal palace of Nochet, being toasted again and again and again by grateful nobles. Iris was wary of poison--she was the first to recognize that their deeds had painted a target on the party's back a mile wide. Androgenus didn't care; they were gulping down horn after horn of rich God Forgot-brewed beer and singing along (badly) with the songs of praise being expounded forth by a young poet who had captured (and dramatized) the events of last session. So far, he was playing up Iris's contribution to the battle as a fearless leader who had come up with the entire plan and was solely responsible for Harrek's downfall. Androgenus thought that his small part in the song (tricking Harrek into casting off his bear-skin cloak) was hilarious, and Waddlestomp wasn't amused at all, especially when the song mentioned him as a 'feathered friend.' Zonthor's ex-player (an enthusiast in Mediterannean archaeology) and Waddlestomp's took great pleasure taking turns to describe how bright and colorful the hall would have been, and the low tables piled high with rare delicacies brought from across the Six Nations. Well, five nations. I mentioned that since the betrayal of the City of Wonders and the fracturing of the Holy Country, Heortland was largely on its own. The Lunars (though beaten back earlier in the year) still prowled the northern frontiers, towards Sartar. Esrolia, the Shadow Plateau, God Forgot, and Caladraland still stood more-or-less together....but the Orlanthi ruled by the vile Broyan the Betrayer, the Last Vingkotling? They'd have to face the oncoming storm by themselves. In fact, rumor around the table was that the Shadow Plateau and God Forgot (I made sure to underline how much of a surprise the latter would be) were apparently preparing to attack Heortland to avenge the fallen God-King. Belintar's death--although caused by the Lunars--was being blamed on Broyan. Perhaps, the rumors said, Broyan had been in league with the Lunars all along. Perhaps he had wanted sole kingship of the Holy Country. In ages past, Vingkotling ambition had led to strife and turmoil again and again. It was to be expected....so perhaps it'd be safer all around if the other former Sixths dealt with the threat first. Iris was dragged into this intrigue when Samastina (Queen of Nochet, recognized as the leading Queen of Esrolia) leaned over the table, looked to her left, and asked Iris her opinion on the "Heortling question." Iris badly fumbled her Noble trait roll, and was completely tongue-tied, offering little more than confused noises and halfhearted platitudes about how unity in times of crisis would probably have been what Belintar would have wanted. "Yes," said Samastina coolly, as the local High Priestess of Maran Gor looked at Iris strangely, "But Belintar, blessed be he, is dead. Should we unite with those who spat on his memory, or against them?" The feast hushed, as if the entire hall was craning in to listen to Iris the Bearslayer's response. Androgenus loudly belched, trying to break the tension with their Trickster Trait, and scored a bare success. Despite herself, Samastina smirked, and things seemed less instant-death for Iris. Our Earth Priestess composed herself, and said, "I would counsel that we consolidate our forces. The Wolf Pirates are scattering, as moss mites do when you smash their nest. However, like moss mites, they will burrow deep and make more nests if we don't track them down and burn them out now. Broyan, if I may be so bold, can wait. The Wolf Pirates should not." Samastina smiled. Iris's player cursed loudly. "Exactly my thoughts as well. My young friend--" Iris's player groaned and cursed again"--is exactly correct. It is at this time precisely that we should strike together against the remnants of the Pirates. Gunda the Guilty is still out there, and may rally the survivors to attack us once more." There was a murmur of agreement. "To this end, and working with my esteemed friend King G'gardas of Caladraland, we shall send Queen Iris of the Three Step Isles to reclaim territory once stolen from us!" Iris choked on her wine. Androgenus fell over, clutching their side and laughing uproariously. Waddlestomp facebilled. A great cheer went up in the hall, and Iris managed to barely restrain herself from glaring daggers at Queen Samastina. After all, apparently she was a Queen herself, now! ....of a trio of remote, pirate-controlled, sheep-infested islands. ....very far away from the Esrolian power centers. Immediately, Iris's player figured it out: they had just made themselves the biggest threat to the Esrolian Queens' power. Howling barbarian demigods? Well, yes, those are horrible dangers to the Queendom and her people. But previously unknown adventurers who can kill those threats like it's nothing? An unknown quantity, particularly when one of them is such an obviously power-hungry Earth Priestess as Iris. The rest of the dinner was a drunken blur, discussing grand strategy and lofty goals: a phalanx of Esrolian pikemen backed up by caladralander naval support, led by Iris and her retinue, retaking the Three Steps in a swift invasion. Plundering the pirates' hidden treasure troves. Building a grand temple to the Moss Godess. Constructing a grand fortress in the middle of sea, from which the Holy Country (with Esrolia at the helm, naturally!) shall project its strength across many lands, for the greater glory of Kethaela! More raucous applause. Androgenus attempted to leap atop the table to improvise a praiseworthy poem, only to be stopped by Waddlestomp grabbing the wounded Trickster and yanking them back down onto their cushion. The feasting nobles laughed uproariously again, and we fast-forwarded past the feast, to later that night. Midnight in Nochet: celebrations for the death ofIris was abed already, having drunk herself into a stupor to deal with being outplayed by the Grandmothers. Waddlestomp was, as ever, sharpening his weapons and meditating on how much he hated humans. Androgenus, meanwhile, was being seduced by a comely servant from God Forgot. Androgenus had gotten even more drunk after the feast, and was busy trying to sleep their way through the entire serving staff. This one servant--a cupbearer that had taken his eye at the feast--was trying to lead them to a quiet stable in the outer bounds of the Royal Palace. Androgenus failed an opposed roll with his Paranoid flaw, and was led, stumbling and muttering, into a suspiciously empty stable. Well, it'd probably have been suspicious if Androgenus wasn't so stinking drunk, anyway. The Trickster wasn't laid down onto a soft pallet of straw, but rather a hard wooden table. They were tied down--which wasn't that much of a dealbreaker for them--but rather than inestimable pleasure, they felt the cold prick of a bronze knife poking them in the forehead! They could vaguely hear a cold, high-pitched voice (with a pronounced God Forgot accent) say: "The Rune may be vanished, but echoes of such a great power still remain, even in such unworthy flesh as this. Haruspex, are you prepared?" "Yes, lord," said the cupbearer, raising the knife. The Trickster sighed, the gravity of their situation sinking in past all the wine. They'd sort of figured it might end this way. It was now that we introduced K'dud. He burst into the stable (literally, using his Fire Rune's breakout ability Bronze Arms Style to punch through a stone wall Kool-Aid Man-style!), easily dispatched a burly Heortling mercenary set as a guard on this dark work, and set about attacking Androgenus's kidnappers. As it turned out, Androgenus had been taken by a Zzaburi sorceror--one taken with studying all sorts of forbidden God Learner-era lore--and his retinue. They sought to extract whatever remnants of the Infinity Rune still might be in Androgenus's carcass and use it for their own foul ends. K'dud wasn't having any of that. Using his Sharp Soul Style, he easily beheaded the Haruspex with his bare hands, dodged a retaliatory bolt of magical energy from the sorceror, lurking in the rear of the stable, and proceeded to kick the babbling, pleading Zzaburi through another wall. After untying Androgenus and using some Fire magic to help them sober up a bit, K'dud made his introductions: he was the youngest son of the King of Caladraland, dedicated to Vestkarthan and the Lowfires, master of several ways of unarmed combat, and he was here to protect Androgenus. Well....he was here to protect Iris, actually, but as Iris's sworn Trickster, K'dud's protection extended to them, too. Androgenus fell over himself (literally) thanking the burly, be-loincloth'd warrior, and scurried home to his quarters in the Palace. This wasn't the last of would-be assassins, either. As the in-game weeks went on in preparation for the conquest of the Three Step Isles, K'dud helped the party overcome a party of assassins sent by a rival priestess of another minor Earth Goddess, seeking to usurp Iris's position in the Three Step Isles (which baffled Iris to no end), a group of surly beastfolk who accused Waddlestomp of selling out their kind to humans by killing Harrek, and on the eve of the fleet's launch, broke the arms of a Dragonewt warrior who sought to punish the party for "usurping infinity with their unworthy mammal parts." Meanwhile, Waddlestomp began meeting contacts he had with other Duck expatriates in the Holy Country--enough was enough. He'd had it with obeying the orders of murderous humans. Once he'd returned from those blasted islands, he'd lead every Duck he could find in glorious war to reconquer their homeland. One way or another, anyway. Androgenus got into a philosophical argument with another Trickster about the illusory nature of Creation and their place within it that ended in a barroom brawl, and K'dud received a quiet pep talk from his father about how important it was for the Sixths to remain unified, even after Belintar's death. We stopped the session just before the fleet to the Three Step Isles set off. Iris had been told in no uncertain terms that she and her....warriors were not to return unless the Three Step Isles had been fully pacified and brought into the fold of Esrolia. Succeed, and a grand temple to the Moss Goddess would be constructed on those islands' chalky hills. Fail, and, well, they'd probably be killed by pirates. Or by Samastina's assassins, should they try to leverage whatever power they think they had back at home to disobey her orders. Thoroughly cowed, Iris finally agreed to this quest, and prepared as best as she could to conquer the Islands.
    2 points
  15. Review: Refractions of Glasston for Call of Cthulhu When I first heard of a group of college students working with faculty and Chaosium mentors to write a scenario I was simultaneously hopeful and skeptical. On one hand, anyone who has played role-playing games for an extended period of time knows that writing content for a wide audience for a game is challenging. My head spins a bit when I think about taking quality writing and needing to support it with art, handouts, editing and layout that makes for a truly professional-looking package. That isn’t easy. On the other hand, Miskatonic Repository has provided a lovely platform to allow amateur writers access to publication avenues that were not present in the past. Why shouldn’t a college course provide an opportunity for experiential learning? With these competing perspectives in mind, I dove into Refractions of Glasston (RoG henceforth) with a positive and open mind. And I was not disappointed. The scenario is a 1920s-era investigation set within the historical context of Indiana at the time. This is probably my favorite part of the endeavor. I learned a bit of Indiana’s glass manufacturing history by reading this scenario. Call of Cthulhu has always had the advantage of being a nice vehicle for exploring true history in the context of fiction. Having real world tie-ins in any CoC scenario are useful for giving players reasons as to why their character would be present and engaged. I think this will help the scenario especially if run at conventions. At this point, note that there will be spoilers moving forward. There are specific plot points that I want to give as feedback to the student writers and I can’t really do that without making specific references to happenings. I enthusiastically recommend this scenario for play, so if you are a player and want to send it off to your Keeper, I think you can feel confident in doing so. Please direct your Keeper to read the rest of the review for tips for running it. I have a long list of things that I like about the scenario. The biggest one for me is the cast of characters. The authors have done a great job of fleshing out the details of a wide variety of different characters for players to interact with, each with their own personal motives. This micro-setting feels “lived in” and the characters give it that authenticity. I think it is particularly important for a scenario of any game to have characters that players want to interact with. RoG has NPCs with a variety of motives. The town is really well fleshed out. Glasston, as presented, has the right number of buildings for exploration activities to have solid depth, while not also being overwhelming in scope. Of particular note is the temporal variations that the authors have worked into the text about specific locations. There are many options as to what could happen depending upon the timing of when the investigators explore a particular location. Whether a Keeper uses these as written, or adapts them to their own purposes, it can never hurt to have more options. I find “the monster” of this scenario to be very interesting. I think fear of being cut by glass is a very real phobia of a lot of people, and for good reason. Any scenario that targets common fears is immediately aiding in the development of mood. The Glass Plague is creepy and deadly and gives investigators added incentive to continue to find out more critical information as to what is happening in town. This threat also has a calculating intelligence behind it. I think the scenario could probably stand on the Glass Plague alone, without the entity at all, but the added layer of a cold, directed intelligence behind what is happening just makes everything even more interesting and terrifying. The attacks of the creature are varied and interesting. The overall organization of the scenario follows three distinct acts. The first act is a sandbox with a large amount of supporting material to help it feel fleshed out. The last two acts are a bit more prescriptive. One of the most interesting elements of the sandbox act is the idea of the suspicion tracker. This is a simple but very powerful mechanic that I think could be broadly used in many investigative horror scenarios. A question constantly facing Keepers is timing of when sinister elements make their move. I’m sure opinions on this will vary on a continuum from “when the Keeper deems the time to be right,” to a more objective method of determination with the suspicion tracker. At the end of the day, the “correct” answer is whatever makes the game most interesting for a particular group. The suspicion tracker adds a concrete option for Keepers who prefer discrete triggers to events. The extent to which particular events contribute to the tracker make sense in the context of the overarching narrative. The layout of the scenario is professionally done. Everything that makes the organization of 7E scenarios great is present here, down to the consistent formatting of character information blocks. This standardization makes it immediately easy for new fans to pick up the importance of getting characters down first before any events transpire. The art of the handouts, the town map, and character portraits are all well done, given the amateur group producing the scenario. It is refreshing to see character portrait artwork that breaks the mold of what is “usual” for 7E. That isn’t a criticism of 7E so much as an appreciation for art variation in any product. The pre-generated characters are well designed and each follows the “Holy Trifecta” rule of at least one or two critically useful skills (Library Use, Social, Investigative). This is a free product being produced for learning purposes for students and as a benefit to the community. So, I think anyone needs to keep that in mind when they are evaluating. I’m not inclined to get too nitpicky here, except when that could have a positive impact on learning. I’ll end my “things I like” section by just mentioning how important I think it is that a class at a religious college is publishing this scenario. Role-playing in general, but especially “occult”-themed games like Call of Cthulhu, are often demonized by faith groups. I think it is a critical act of gaming leadership for a class at a religious college to publish a secular scenario. Thank you for sending a positive message about story-telling from your vantage point! As to stretches, there are a couple aspects of the narrative that I think deserve mention for prospective Keepers. A linchpin of the narrative is setting up the concept of the Sand Pit as a key location for the third act. The sandbox portion is pretty light on concrete mentions of the Sand Pit. It would be up to the Keeper to plan by having a list of NPCs that are the most important sources of Sand Pit information. For me, the top four (in order) are: Dennis Adkins, Gloria Hillis, Barry Coddle, and Elias Winters. Barry Coddle is the only character that gives explicit references to the Sand Pit. I think that relevant sections of the text would benefit greatly from reminding the Keeper that each of these characters are important sources of information for helping the investigators learn about the significance of the Sand Pit. For example: “Keepers should note that, if the investigators have not learned about the Sand Pit before now, Gloria is an excellent opportunity to communicate that information...” A journal entry handout cryptically references “sand.” But other than that, scouring the scenario, I find scant reference to the main sources of info about the Sand Pit. I’m guessing the authors had the idea firmly placed in their minds as they wrote and edited. In my opinion, it doesn’t come out in the text. I could see an inexperienced Keeper failing to do enough to set up the idea of the Sand Pit and, by extension, I could see a group of players completely lost as to how to act on the information they have about the Glass Plague. As written, it is entirely possible that if the investigators don’t talk to Barry Coddle, they would never hear the term Sand Pit uttered in the adventure. A good axiom to follow in scenario preparation is that players always need more chances to find information than you might think. References to the Sand Pit seem too light to me. There are a couple points in the scenario where the NPCs seem overly aggressive. For example, the interaction with the Sheriff seems odd. One failed Fast Talk roll and not leaving immediately is enough to get an investigator shot? By the sheriff? Yikes. I understand that one of the central ideas is that the Glass Plague alters people’s minds, but this action seems in direct contradiction to what we learn about Joan McKay in her character bio. She wants to “keep outsiders from suspecting its plans” and her “strong moral code often outweighs Kh’yrenery’hk’s influence.” These statements seem to directly contradict her just shooting an investigator because she doesn’t like the cut of their jib. Shooting somebody isn’t an effective way to curtail suspicion. Another example would be the Brawl in Aisle 12. That just doesn’t sit well with me as a Keeper. It kind of smacks of “let’s be sure to get a combat encounter in here.” I think perhaps the goal is to give investigators an opportunity to study the Glass Plague, but those opportunities abound in the scenario. Does it function to influence the suspicion tracker? Is the goal to increase tension through violence? It just seems overly aggressive. The Jim Crow Laws sidebar feels like a tacked-on and missed opportunity. It basically says: “Jim Crow Laws existed. Use that if you want.” Without any guidance on how to use them appropriately, I think the section potentially does more harm than good. Maybe the writers didn’t feel qualified to write advice on using Jim Crow in a historical scenario? If that’s the case, it is probably best to not try to do something you aren’t prepared or qualified for. It just leaves a hollow taste in my mouth. I feel like Call of Cthulhu is a great opportunity for us to engage on tough social issues as gamers. But without guidance on how to do that it risks making a mockery of very serious historical issues. So, my advice is either to flesh out this sidebar a bit more to give the tips needed for Keepers to be effective (maybe consulting with someone who can give appropriate guidance?) or to just ditch it entirely. I think this is a pretty deadly scenario, whether we are talking about physical or mental harm. This could be considered a strength or a weakness of the scenario, depending upon who you ask and whether it is used as a one-shot or as part of a campaign. I wonder if it was independently play-tested, because I see a TPK here as being pretty likely, unless the investigators have a well-thought-through plan for fighting Kh’yrenery’hk. Very minor nitpicks: Page 24, first paragraph: “Visint” Page 26, first column, last paragraph: Sounds (pun intended) like it should be a Listen roll, not Spot Hidden. Page 28, Glass Behemoth stat block: Damage bonus is +5D6, but Brawl attack has +1D6 In summary Refractions of Glasston is an excellent scenario with an interesting cast of characters and a truly frightening, otherworldly, unique threat. I find it easy to visualize squirming at a gaming table as the clues are uncovered and the Glass Plague is encountered. This student group should be proud of what they accomplished! Verdict: A solid 4 out of 5 for me. Highly recommended.
    2 points
  16. Really enjoyed this amazing podcast, made me want to play a game I had really never heard of!
    2 points
  17. Hello All, So, I'm way behind on my recap blog. Things got really crazy back around the holidays, and I lost my motivation to keep writing. Our campaign is still ongoing, although it is scheduled to end after Sacred Time 1626. Right now we are in Storm Season. At this point I have some more free time on my hands due to being shut in from the virus, so I figured I would catch up on my chronicle. These will be more brief because I've forgotten some of the details. Earth Season 1626 Finale - How my players became terrified of Sakkars The party had successfully tracked down Angtyr of the Horn to a hidden cave in the southern Yellow Hills. Instead of charging right in, they returned to Darrold's Hold and rounded up the posse. King Orkarl himself decided to accompany them, along with 20-ish warriors. This session was one big string of battles, most of which were very one-sided. Garkar was nearly killed after getting stabbed in the neck by a sentry, but recovered with some quick healing. After that, the posse split up to cut off all escape routes for the bandits. The party and King Orkarl continued with 10 men. Sneaking up on the cave proved impossible, and the alarm was soon raised. Angtyr appeared, naked and wielding a very large spear. After some banter and mockery, he commanded his bandits to attack while he slipped away. I was hoping this final battle would prove to more challenging for the crew, but I had given them one particular toy that threw things way out of balance: the Sakkar spirit. Since they had spent most of the last session trying to find and ally with it, I wanted to make it worth the trouble. They had already used it to help find Angtyr, but it had another useful ability. If it was allowed to possess a human host, it would transform that person into a flesh-and-blood saber-toothed cat. I figured Egajia would do this, but it was decided her spirit magic would be more useful. Erindros, who is somewhat lacking in combative skills, volunteered for possession. Angtyr, who was a priest of Gerendetho, had the power to summon rockfalls from his god. He started the fight by doing this, bringing down Orkarl and a few other warriors in a large rockslide. He then ran for it. As soon as Erindros saw this, he invited the Sakkar spirit in, and transformed. Egajia cast some damage-boosting spells, and Erindros/Sakkar managed to leap right over the defensive shield wall that was guarding Angtyr. The bandit king had a hefty Shield spell up, and as soon as Egajia realized this she called on an ancestor spirit (pre-summoned) to tear it down with a big Dispel Magic. Angtyr had lasted only 3 rounds before Erindros caught up with him. In tiger form, he managed to tear open Angtyr's chest with a claw swipe, which was nearly enough to kill him. Then he rolled a Special for the bite attack on his HEAD! Typical. He rolled high enough damage to decapitate poor Angtyr, so that was it. Before his untimely demise, Angtyr had pulled on a rope nearby, opening up a pit in the ground. Out of the pit climbed a massive broo, vile and pustule-ridden. As Erindros engaged with the beast, the other bandits were quickly falling to Garkar, HWSAD and Egajia's signature Sleep spells. The giant broo lasted another two rounds, but was quickly eviscerated by saber-tooth fangs, and a finishing blow to the chest by HWSAD's maul. King Orkarl was healed, and everyone witnessed the Sakkar bound up a cliff and back into the woods. This was done to make the Balkoth men think that the tribe was avenged by a local spirit, rather than by a group of Dundealos adventurers. Egajia took Angtyr's enchanted horn as a gift to the Wozer clan, and the rest of the party split up the spoils with King Orkarl. They returned to the Wozer clan in triumph, presenting the chieftain with the horn, and sealing their friendship. Next time I will recap Dark Season, which will also likely be short. Thanks for reading!
    2 points
  18. For our most recent session, the players took the reins and decided to visit the neighboring Balkoth Tribe. I hadn't really planned for this, but thankfully I had some good material to fall back on from Hearts in Glorantha, with the Balkoth article by Stuart Mousir-Harrison. Erindros' player could not make it for this session either, but since he had a wedding to plan, it was easy to explain his absence. Friendly Neighbors I usually start off a new season by sharing the local news from passing merchants and travelers. The biggest news came from Boldhome. For weeks after the Battle of Queens, Kallyr had lain in state at the Royal Palace, her body preserved with magic. Finally, in frustration, Leika Blackspear of the Colymar Tribe decided to torch Kallyr's body, and leave the city with her entourage (these events are covered in various books, including the core rulebook). The PC's reacted with unease at this news, until a messenger from Blackmane arrived. The messenger explained that the Dundealos would stay strong even if the Kingdom of Sartar disintegrated, thanks to their close alliance with the Pol-Joni Tribe. Earth Season rolled through, with the harvest being meager, but free of raids or strange occurrences. The players reviewed some of the recent problems affecting the clan, and pondered their next course of action. Bandit activity in the Verge was getting worse. A gift from the Bardori to the Hyaling clan had recently been stolen. The Wozer clan of the Balkoth had successfully repelled all counter-raids after stealing cattle from everyone south of the Willow Beck river. Many Bardori thanes still agitated against them. Many Storm Bull warriors from the Valley were heading to Heortland to fight the Scorpion menace. Egajia meditated on the problem of the Wozer clan. They had always been troublesome neighbors, with a long history of slights, raiding, and land grabs. However because she was adopted into the clan during the Dundealos exile period, she didn't have quite the same animosity towards them as her kinfolk. Their behavior since the Dragonrise had been unusually hostile, and she sensed that something spiritual might be the cause of this. She made up her mind to speak with the Wozer's wyter spirit, and convinced Garkar and He Who Spits at the Devil to go with her. Here are some maps to get a sense of where the Balkoth live (the left one is from the AA Atlas, which is why it still includes the New Lunar Temple). None of the PC's could remember what the Wozer spirit was, or where it was kept. Egajia tried speaking with the Bardori's chief trader, Stolf Argin's Son, who visited the Wozer occasionally. He was uninterested in helping them, as he suspected that Egajia was trying to get neighborly with the Balkoth clans. He explained that the Balkoth were once the wealthiest tribe in the Swenstown confederation, but since the occupation had become the poorest, losing all of their cattle and gaining nothing but filthy goats. The Wozer were the poorest clan of the tribe, and their constant cattle raiding was because no-one would willingly trade with them from the Valley. He wanted to keep things this way, as "weak Balkoth mean strong Dundealos in the Swenstown markets." Egajia left in frustration, and decided to visit the Wozer chieftain without any background info. The plan hatched by the three heroes was that they would openly approach the Wozer patrols, and announce that they were investigating rumors of Chaos activity nearby. Because most clans are eager to dispel any rumors of harboring Chaos, this would hopefully get them an audience with the chieftain. They crossed the Willow Beck going north, and immediately met some hostile weaponthanes on horses, demanding to know their business. Garkar did some fast talking (unsuccessfully), and then HWSAD relied on his intimidating bluster to demand an audience with chieftain Orvengar. The patrolmen acquiesced, not wanting trouble from Storm Bull. The party passed through the stunted, yellow pastures of the Wozer. Gaunt herders tended to goats (gasp!), sheep, and the occasional cow. The Wozer's harvest was clearly even more pathetic than their neighbors'. Egajia was not bothered by the omnipresent goats, but I really tried to underscore the revulsion that Garkar and HWSAD would feel at confronting these beasts. I described them as "basically broos with four legs, playing with children." The PC's also noticed a lack of young men or women, with many folk being older, or just children. The chieftain's hall was located on high ground, near a rocky outcrop of sandstone. Chieftain Orvengar was a twisted old man, nearly crippled from falling off a horse many years ago. His hall was filled with cows stolen from various clans. He was in the process of milking one of them when the heroes entered. He greeted them with jeers and derision at having their beloved cows stolen. Egajia did the talking, while the other two fumed at the obnoxious old man. She accused Orvengar and his people of betraying all of Sartar with their raids and selfishness, and also said that he brought Chaos upon everyone with his reckless leadership. Orvengar denied that Chaos had visited his people, and said that raiding was the right of any Heortling clan. Egajia then suggested that the Wozer clan looked "sick" to her, and asked when the last time the chieftain had spoken with the clan's wyter. This seemed to catch him off guard, and after more pressing, he admitted that he had not consulted the wyter for several seasons. Egajia asked to join him in consulting the wyter, and promised to help him "overcome his clan's sickness." He agreed to this, although they were accompanied by armed thanes. They went further up into the Yellow Hills, to a hilltop crowned with broken sandstone. There they found a hidden statue of a grotesque-looking man, with massive hands, feet, and genitals. As Orvengar prayed to the statue, it became animated, leaping about and making faces at the chieftain. It excoriated him for not making proper sacrifices, and ignoring it's advice. After many apologies, Egajia asked the statue what troubles affected the Wozer clan that they could help alleviate. The statue grinned and said- "Change is coming to the Yellow Hills, and our people must embrace it! But they cannot become strong again until they remove all traces of the shameful past. We must cleanse ourselves of past stains, and bring justice to the one who brought that shame unto us!" After this, the statue went silent again. Egajia was not sure what all of this meant. Orvengar explained that the statue was talking about the Balkoth's former king, Angtyr of the Horn. While he didn't know about "embracing change," he knew that Angtyr unquestionably was the tribe's greatest shame. He was a Lunar hostage, who returned to rule the tribe during the Occupation. He brought foreign goat cults with him, along with the Seven Mothers, and lived a debauched lifestyle while his people starved. After the Dragonrise (which he managed to avoid), he became a bandit and disappeared into the hills. While Angtyr had not come from the Wozer, he had targeted them for reprisals due to their rebellious disposition. The people longed to see him brought to justice, but so far he had escaped discovery from the new Balkoth king. Egajia then offered help join the hunt for Angtyr, if it would help the Wozer. Orvengar said this would help to build friendship between Bardori and Wozer, as well as friendship between tribes. But the Balkoth had already been hunting Angtyr for many seasons, with no luck. He also said there was no chance of anyone getting their stolen cows back. "A Goat King, for a Goat People" The chieftain offered the PC's hospitality for the night. They decided to ask around among the Wozer folk about Angtyr, and see if they could learn anything interesting. They didn't pick up much (bad rolls again) other than what they already knew. One bit of info that Orvengar shared was that the two "goat cults" Angtyr had introduced to the Balkoth were still going strong in his absence. These included Gerendetho, an Earth god from the Lunar province of Kostaddi, and Uryarda, the Goat Mother. Angtyr himself was a priest of Gerendetho, embodying his more violent and hedonistic traits. The Gerendetho cult had been outlawed by the new king, but Uryarda's was still going strong. The people found that the goats did well in the dry Yellow Hills, and many admired their hardiness. There were also rumors that Angtyr still had supporters among both of these cults. The heroes decided to try something that would get some attention. They improvised a song satirizing Angtyr, and sang it to an assembled crowd of farmers. Their rolls were successful (and their lyrics were spot-on), so after a few hours the whole clan was singing it. I can't remember the lyrics now, but they involved Angtyr's alleged flatulence, and something about "blowing his own horn." While they had their crowd laughing away, they noticed a group of women at the edge were clearly not amused, and saw them slip away into the night. Garkar successfully followed them without being seen. He observed the women entering a large stead, and hunkered down to wait for anything interesting to happen. He heard loud arguments from within, and eventually a man stormed out of the stead. He mounted a horse, and surprisingly, the horse took off into the air on it's own, galloping as if the air were solid ground. Garkar, as a former outlaw, recognized the signature spell of the god of outlaws, Gagarth, the Wild Hunter. He assumed this man must be a bandit, and possibly might have a connection with Angtyr, the local bandit king. He heard the women refer to the man as "Destor," and also heard mention of "Darrold's Hold". He returned to the others to share this information, and also let Orvengar know. The chieftain told them that the women they saw were of the clan's Uryarda cult, and he would question them himself. There was no-one in the clan named Destor who fit the man's description, so he was likely an outlaw. Darrold's Hold was a hill fort owned by the neighboring Daldari clan, and the current seat of the Balkoth king, Orkarl Windstorm. The party decided to visit Darrold's Hold and find the mysterious Destor. Orvengar offered the services of one of his thanes, an Odaylan hunter and tracker named Hiark. He would guide them to Darrold's Hold (only a day's journey), and also make an introduction to king Orkarl. The heroes set off. They were going into the Yellow Hills, which were the traditional lands of the Balkoth. Dry, dusty, and rocky, the hills make for poor grazing, and are part of the reason for the tribe's poverty. The terrain is more like Prax than Sartar. I showed the players some random googled images to give them a sense of the place. After a few hours of travel on a herder's path, they entered a dry ravine (classic ambush spot). Egajia sent her fetch away from her body to get a bird's eye view of the land. She noticed two horses tied up near the edge of the ravine, and a man hiding nearby in the brush, readying a sling. Garkar noticed him as well, and warned everyone to take cover. The party cast a few spells in preparation, and then arrows and slingstones started to fly from both sides of the ravine. What followed was a short but bloody battle. HWSAD rode his antelope up the edge of the ravine, trying to close distance with the one attacker they had seen. Garkar and Egajia ran up on foot, he with his shield up, and she casting Disruption spells. Their guide Hiark stayed back and fired arrows. Her fetch continued to float above the battle, trying to locate other attackers with Second Sight. Egajia took an arrow in the arm from behind, Garkar was hit in the leg, and was forced to stop and heal himself. They noticed two other bandits, one a tall, muscular man with a bow, and the other a short woman, who began running for her horse after seeing HWSAD charge in. The first bandit they had seen rose up, and drew a two-handed sword. He was well-armored and tattooed in Death runes, marking him as a Humakt initiate. He whispered prayers to his sword, and closed in. HWSAD caught up to him first, and cast Berserker on himself. He then prepared to leap from his steed, but the Humakti got the first blow in. He cut deeply into HWSAD's leg, and had he not been raging it would have been severed clean. The extra hit points allowed him to keep it attached, and the Bull's rage kept him from going into shock, but he was now crippled. He fell to the ground. Thankfully, he could still swing his maul from the ground, and rolled a special success against the Humakti. As usual, he dealt a massive blow and rolled well for damage. The other warrior was crippled as well, and sank to the ground screaming over his crushed leg. Garkar let loose a javelin and impaled the big fellow, also through his leg. He then ran up to heal HWSAD, who rose and finished off both bandits. Arrows continued to fly from the other side of the ravine. Garkar took one to the head, but his helmet stopped it from doing serious damage. Egajia meanwhile was pursuing the fleeing woman. She attempted to cast her go-to Sleep spell, but the woman had fairly strong Countermagic up. The bandit leaped onto her horse, and it took off into the air, rising quickly. Egajia sent her bound Wraith after the bandit. Before it even caught up, Hiark, who had not accomplished much up to this point, let loose a well-aimed arrow. We ruled that a ranged attack from below would most likely hit the horse, and... it did. The arrow went through the poor horse's skull, and it died in mid-air. Rather than crash to the ground, it slowly sank down. Egajia's wraith enveloped the bandit, and began sucking her very life force way. The woman screamed for mercy, and then jumped free from her falling horse. She offered herself up as a prisoner. Everyone then looked over and saw another bandit, an impala rider by his steed and stature, take off into the air from the other side of the ravine. He was heading in the direction of Darrold's Hold. That's all! Pretty good session, considering I improvised almost the entire thing. With our next session, we will go deeper into the wild parts of Balkoth country, in search of Angtyr of the Horn. Thanks for reading!
    2 points
  19. Our most recent session was very eventful. Three of the heroes fought in the Battle of the Queens and survived, only to see Prince Kallyr cut down by Lunar assassins. In the aftermath of Queen Leika leaving for Boldhome with her entourage, Erindros, Garkar, and He Who Spits at the Devil contemplated the future of Sartar. Upon hearing the rumor that Kallyr could not be revived from death, even with the most powerful magics, HWSAD wondered if there were some way to succeed where others had failed. Short of attempting their own Lightbringer's Quest, which was beyond the party's abilities, no one could think of any solutions. They trudged off for home, hoping that things had not fallen apart in their absence. Egajia Finds the Garlic Man Egajia's player decided not to participate in the big battle, since it didn't really play to her skills. Because she had to sit out for much of the last session, I gave her some extra screen time as she attempted to cleanse the Bardori tula of disease spirits. She was approached by the clan's own Chalana Arroy healer, a man named Durri Kind-Eyes. He was a soft-spoken man who had endured life as a Lunar slave for much of the exile period. Durri had been trying in vain to drive off the foul spirits that had been plaguing everyone since the last broo attack. He told Egajia that he knew of a powerful healing spirit that had helped the clan before, but it could only be contacted in the Spirit World. The spirit was known as the Garlic Man, and he (it?) could create charms that would protect the people from further infection. Egajia agreed to travel into the Spirit World to find the Garlic Man, and bargain with it for help. She spent some time preparing to discorporate. She rubbed herself in rancid butter and garlic oil, and also chewed enough garlic cloves to make her breath deadly. Her fetch stayed behind to guard her body while she journeyed. Without the fetch present, Egajia's POW score was much reduced, making her magic weaker. I also ruled that she could not bring her bound spirits or charms with her to the Spirit World. She could still draw on her fetch's magic points however, so she wouldn't be helpless. The journey began in Egajia's hut. Although her senses were dulled in the Spirit World, she could detect the faint scent of garlic, drawing her on towards distant mountains. She followed her nose, and flew towards them. As she went farther beyond the border reaches, which resembled physical Glorantha, the landscape became more twisted and Seussian. She was soon drawn to a canyon, and then a dark cave. The area was festooned with garlands and garlic charms. Egajia looked within the cave, and saw a humanoid figure, tall and musclebound in a loincloth, with a head resembling a massive bulb of garlic. The strange being was wrestling the largest disease spirit Egajia had ever seen. This creature resembled depictions of the goddess Malia: spherical, with many limbs, and a gaping, fanged, vertical slit for a mouth. This was obviously the Garlic Man, so Egajia prepared an ambush. Egajia was alone in the Spirit World, without her fetch, so she only had her reduced POW to draw on for casting spells. In past battles with otherworldly entities, she has used spirit magic in conjunction with her powerful spirit combat skill (now also reduced) to bring down her enemies quickly. She attempted to Befuddle and Disrupt the disease spirit, but both spells failed. The spirit was alerted to her presence, and charged. The Garlic Man seemed incapacitated, so it was a one-on-one spiritual duel. The disease spirit proved very powerful, after a few rounds, Egajia had to draw on her fetch's magic points to stay in the fight. She managed to fire off a few Disruption spells to even the odds. Because both entities were in spiritual form, their combat was envisioned as a simple wrestling match, with Egajia also using her deadly garlic breath to great effect. Eventually, Egajia was reduced to a mere 4 magic points. She had to face the choice of fleeing, or being defeated and likely possessed by this vile spirit. Thinking of her clan (and her Passion, Loyalty: Bardori Clan), she chose to stand her ground. First she attempted to rouse the Garlic Man, hoping he could help her. She used her Sing skill, but was drowned out by the shrieking of the disease spirit. She had to withstand one more round of spirit combat, but managed to win by a hair's breadth (92 against a 94). The disease spirit then chose to flee, inflating itself like a balloon and floating off to the horizon. Egajia let loose a parting shot with a final Disruption spell. She couldn't finish it off, but she did manage to pop a hole in the spirit's skin, which made it's escape much more undignified. The Garlic Man eventually recovered his strength, and stood before Egajia. They negotiated in Spirit Speech. She asked him to inhabit the Bardori tula and help protect the community from further infections. He was grateful for being rescued from the disease spirit, so he agreed. But he did ask to for "flesh" to inhabit while he stayed in the physical world. Egajia assumed this meant possession, but the Garlic Man assured her that he just needed a single limb. She popped off her left arm, and gave it to him as a fetish. Back in the real world, Egajia's physical arm actually came off at the shoulder, her skin healing smoothly. When she came back to her body, she wrapped up the arm in bandages and gave it to Durri to use. The arm was still warm, and pulsed with a heartbeat. The Garlic Man bade her farewell, and assured her that she would get the arm back after the tula was fully cleansed. A Rude Welcome The other three heroes returned from the Battle of the Queens, bearing the bad news about Prince Kallyr to the clan. Afterward, they reunited with Egajia and retired to Erindros' farm to rest. As soon as they arrived, one of Erindros' cousins ran to intercept him. He explained that a stranger from the Blue Jay clan had come to speak with him, and seemed angry. The man soon materialized, a young warrior, handsome, but clearly drunk and worked up into an impressive rage. He staggered up to Erindros, took a swig from a wine skin, and spat into his face. He then unleashed a tirade of insults, claiming that "the woman Oranvale" was his alone to marry. That "she had already chosen him", and should Erindros pursue her, then they would meet on the dueling ground. He also claimed that he had defecated in Erindros' boots, pointing to a pair of boots that belonged to someone else. Erindros had only an inkling of what the man was talking about, remembering a certain encounter with a Togarth woman back in Storm Season. The man stormed off, climbing onto his horse, falling off first, then successfully rode off. Erindros' cousin then explained that before the Blue Jay man showed up, a woman from the Togarth clan, "lightly pregnant," had arrived with servants and asked to speak with him as well. Wiping his face, Erindros decided to pay this woman a visit at her own farm. He donned his finest hat, and mounted his ostrich. His companions joined him for moral support. They passed through Togarth farms, and the patrols recognized him immediately as one of the heroes of the Rastorling raid. They directed him to a rich farm owned by a woman named Oranvale. They noticed fat herds, sun-ripened crops, and many tenants working in the sun. They found Oranvale with her servants, weaving a tapestry. She was a classic Sartarite beauty, in fine clothes and with a healthy Ernaldan figure. She was unmistakably the same woman that Erindros had a fling with after the big raid in Storm Season 1625 (see the end of this post for more details). They greeted each other in an almost business-like manner. Oranvale told Erindros that since their last encounter she had been with child. Divination had shown that the child was his. She was the only daughter of an exalted bloodline, who traced matrilineal descent back to Orgorvale Summer. Because of her wealth, beauty, and magically powerful ancestry, she had had many suitors for marriage after she had come of age. Now that she was pregnant, she was ready to choose a husband. She informed Erindros that she planned to marry a man of the Blue Jay clan named Andrinorth (the same cad who spat in Erindros' face). As a renowned warrior and skilled rider, he embodied the qualities of Ulanin the Rider more than any other suitor. However, as the true father of her child, Erindros had a right to be also be considered as a marriage prospect. After a pregnant pause (pun intended), she asked Erindros if there was something he wanted to ask her. With as much awkwardness as possible, he doffed his hat, and proposed to Oranvale. While I don't remember the player's exact word choice, it was something romantic like, "I would like to enter into a marriage contract proposal with you!" She asked him if he had brought her a gift (he hadn't). He presented her with the ostrich feather hat, and promised her a pleasant life on his farm with the Bardori clan. She accepted his gift, and informed him that if he was serious, she would sponsor a series of contests between him, Andrinorth, and anyone else who wished to compete for her favor. She explained that as a descendant of Orgorvale Summer, daughter of Vingkot, she sought a husband who displayed the qualities of Orgorvale's husband Ulanin. Namely, his skill in riding, great strength, and a mix of cunning and bravery. She proposed three different contests, of which Erindros would have to best Andrinorth in at least two- A race to display skill in horsemanship. Or at least skill in riding some kind of animal. A wrestling contest to prove strength. A contest to outwit or defeat Oranvale's fierce family guardian, a giant pig with skin made of bronze. She informed Erindros that she would announce the contests to her clan, and they would start preparations immediately. The Great Togarth Race A week went by. Erindros received word that the Togarth were preparing a race course, and inviting folk from other clans to witness the event. Oranvale announced that anyone who wished to take part in the race could do so for their own glory and renown. But the choice of her future husband was between Erindros and Andrinorth. Garkar, Egajia, and HWSAD all decided to participate. Erindros was anxious about this particular challenge. Andrinorth was reputed to be an excellent rider, while he had middling skill at riding an ostrich. Egajia had an idea at how the odds could be evened. She proposed contacting one of the clan's Pol-Joni ancestors, and asking them to "help" Erindros with his riding. By this she meant have the ancestor temporarily possess his body, and win the race for him. Erindros was reluctant to accept this plan, not because it seemed dishonorable, but because it was dangerous. He considered the next two challenges. He was a fairly good wrestler, and the contest with the Bronze Pig could be solved any number of ways. After realizing the race was his weakest prospect, he assented to the possession plan. Everyone traveled to the Togarth race course. Hundreds of people were gathered to watch the event, and some two dozen Dundealos folk would be racing. The riders were mostly on horses, but there were a few exotic Praxian beasts as well. The party gathered in a tent near the race course. Egajia summoned a powerful ancestor from the Pol-Joni tribe named Jekk, who claimed to be a master of riding every animal in Prax, including ostriches. He assured Erindros that as his ancestor (or distant cousin?), he would take good care of his body and steed. Egajia then cast Incarnate Ancestor. Erindros felt as if he was floating out of his body, and then observing himself in the third person. Jekk took charge, and swept out of the tent with great panache. He mounted his ostrich, and headed for the race course. The riders were gathered at the bottom of the chieftain's hall, where Oranvale and her household servants stood watching. Chieftain Arnsulva welcomed everyone to the event, and wished luck to all those racing. Erindros (actually Jekk) flashed a roguish smile at Oranvale, who smiled back confusedly. HWSAD decided to harass Andrinorth with insults saying, pointing to Erindros and saying "he's the father!" Andrinorth pointedly ignored him. I ran the race using the chase rules from the core book. Everyone made Ride rolls each round, with the degree of success determining how far ahead they got each round. We used six counters: four for the PC's, one for Andrinorth, and one to represent the other competitors. When I made Ride rolls for "the other guys" I gave them a very high skill to make it difficult to actually come in first place. Erindros was not expected to win the whole race, just beat Andrinorth to the finish line. The race track was basically just a herder's path that went through some woods, near the Willow Beck, and then back to the chieftain's hall. The race went as followed- Oranvale threw a sheaf of barley onto the track, and everyone took off in a cloud of dust. HWSAD rolled a critical, and blasted ahead of everyone else on his horse. Egajia on her llama had a bonus to her rolls, so she kept up, and so did Erindros and Garkar. Andrinorth failed his initial roll, and trailed behind. The race passed through some pasture land. As soon as Erindros passed near some cattle pens, a group of men with sticks opened up a gate, and began driving cows right into the race! Things ground to a halt as everyone was caught in a slow stampede. Those who were trailing behind soon caught up, and Andrinorth was now neck-and-neck with Erindros. HWSAD still held a strong lead. The competitors passed through a wooded area, and the track began to wind. I imposed a light penalty on rolls, but everyone succeeded except for He Who Spits. He now had lost his lead as other racers got ahead of him. Erindros was floating above his body as a spirit, and saw a strange, grotesque thing flying toward him rapidly. Egajia saw it too and recognized it for a Fear Spirit. She cast Befuddle, and then convinced it to fly at Andrinorth instead. It complied, and his horse began to buck and kick. The race passed near the river. Andrinorth kept pace with Erindros in spite of his spooked horse. HWSAD had now fallen behind the rest. The chieftain's hall came into sight. Andrinorth had apparently shaken the Fear Spirit, but still fell behind Jekk's peerless riding. Erindros' ostrich practically flew along the ground. As the finish line approached, there was a great clap of thunder, and an incredible gust of wind kicked up dust. Some were thrown from their mounts, and most were slowed in the dust and wind. Erindros brought out his trump card. Since he had incarnated Jekk the Pol-Joni, he had access to all his spells, including Rune magic. He cast Decrease Wind to create a pocket of calm around himself. He saw that Andrinorth was also shooting ahead in spite of the wind, but he couldn't beat Erindros to the finish line. None of the PC's actually won the entire race, but Erindros defeated his rival, and so won the first contest. Andrinorth cursed and spat, and had to endure more insults from the PC's. Before Jekk left Erindros' body, he swept Oranvale off her feet for a kiss. She assented, but reminded him that he had two challenges to go. Next time, mud wrestling and pig wrangling! Thanks for reading my recaps!
    2 points
  20. While I work on the Tragedy of Shargash and the Buraroxi Muskox People writeups (titles pending), here is a teensy thing that was inspired by a discussion in the RuneQuest forum a while ago: when you cast Rune spells during play, what does your character do? Do they literally just say "I cast [spell] for [x] number of Points of Worship"? I prefer to think no, so I came up with this generic prayer that a character (or player, for some extra immersion) could recite fairly quickly. May not fit with what anyone imagines this to be, but this is my take on it: Generic form (feel free to change): O, hear me [deity], [additional title]! Your most worshipful follower calls upon your divine grace for a boon! In this, my hour of need, I seek your [positive quality of deity] to aid me against my foes! Always have I kept your laws, and given unto you the worship that is yours, always have I remained virtuous in your eyes! Now, I call upon your [spell effect]! As once you did [quick summary of mythological story that associates deity and spell effect]! Protect your faithful, and I will bring you honor, always! Example: O, hear me Orlanth, King of Storms, Master of the Middle Airs! Your most worshipful follower calls upon your divine grace for a boon! In this, my hour of need, I seek your Mighty Breath to aid me against my foes! Always have I kept your laws, and given unto you the worship that is yours, always have I remained virtuous in your eyes! Now, I call upon you to Clear the Skies of Clouds, as once you did clear the skies for your sons, the Vingkotlings to protect them against hostile Cloud Raiders! Protect your faithful, and I will bring you honor, always! Hope this might be of use to someone.
    2 points
  21. Preparing for the Expedition For this session, we played without Egajia. Because everyone was heading into Prax again, and she was ready for her shaman initiation, we explained this by saying she had ventured out early to meet with her mentor and prepare. The other three party members would organize the caravan, and meet with Egajia at the Paps. Here is the route that everyone decided on for reaching Pavis. The party divided up their loot from the raid on Ft. Enstala, and made some purchases. They gave a portion of the goods and silver they found to the Togarth clan, another portion to the Bardori, and some for personal use. The rest they put aside to purchase trade goods, supplies, pack animals and steeds. I allowed them to purchase animals on loan from various sellers around the valley, so they ended up with three pack mules, two bison, and a sable antelope at a discount price. The heroes had achieved a small measure of fame for successfully looting the ruined fort, but their chances of returning alive from Prax were still seen as not good by the clan's elders. They set off on their journey with little fanfare. As they passed through the neighboring Hyaling clan's territory, He Who Spits decided the caravan needed more hired guards, and grew very excited at the prospect of hiring some "real native baboons." There happened to be a mercenary troop camped near the household of the Hyaling chieftain. HWSAC continued the party tradition of botching Communication skill rolls while negotiating for rates. The alpha baboon would only offer the services of two green recruits, but Erindros still managed a good price for their services. Thus, baboons Kurruk and Garr joined the caravan. Day's Rest and the Block After roughly three days of travel, the party arrived again at Day's Rest. The oasis had changed somewhat since their visit back in Earth Season 1625. There was a great mustering of Praxian warriors, several hundred in all, from four different tribes. Erindros learned that most of them were riding to Pavis, where Argrath White Bull was gathering his new army. He saw a familiar face among the Bison Riders, the very same Storm Bull warriors who rode with them to hunt the wicked shaman (see the second blog entry). Their leader, Mokwar, greeted them as friends. He and his band were also traveling to Pavis to join the White Bull's army. Before they did so, they planned to travel to the Block with a young member of their clan, a boy of 16 named Argwaha. The young lad was preparing to initiate into the Storm Bull cul t, but before he did so, he needed to visit the Devil's Marsh and kill a creature of Chaos. Erindros and the rest of the party were undecided on whether they wanted to make a detour to the Block. Mokwar told them that he would consider it a favor if they could accompany young Argwaha, and act as witnesses for his initiation trial. He also offered to give them the name of his cousin, an Issaries trader at the Block, who was known to trade in precious Truestone. The party agreed, and Mokwar and his Storm Bulls left immediately for Pavis. Argwaha proved to be something of a handful. His desire to kill a creature of Chaos was somewhat unsettling, and he saw enemies in every shadow. The journey to the Block took a day and a half, and when they arrived, they didn't have time for sightseeing. Argwaha immediately dismounted his bison, and ran off screaming in the direction of the Devil's Marsh. The PC's followed in hot pursuit. HWSAC had been to the Devil's Marsh on several occasions before. Although he had also shown little restraint around Chaos creatures in the past, now he was cautious, having seen many good men lose their lives to the Marsh. He encouraged Argwaha to show caution as well, but the boy was scornful and bellowed challenges to any creature who could hear him. After a few hours of mud, quicksand, leeches and mosquitoes, the landscape of the marsh took a more Chaotic turn. Soon there were tentacled trees, whispering puddles and frogs that shrieked in human voices. Argwaha finally blundered into a broo hunting for its dinner. The broo defended itself against his attack, while secretly it's mate lay hidden in the bushes from all eyes present. Everyone else initially stayed out of the fight, only casting protective magic on Argwaha. But then the hidden broo threw a javelin, piercing the boy in his side. The first broo took advantage of this and drove it's own spear into his leg, impaling him. Argwaha fell to the ground, but stayed conscious. Garkar flew at the hidden broo, trying to drive it off. Erindros healed Argwaha in time, and HWSAC "shared" a portion of the Bull's rage by casting Fanaticism on the young warrior. Argwaha rose up and then struck a mighty blow in the broo's most vulnerable location (you know the one), killing it at once. Garkar crippled the other broo's leg, and allowed the boy to finish it off as well. With two bloody broo heads to bring back for the Bull priests, the young Praxian had succeeded. He thanked the party for their help, and apologized for his rash behavior earlier. Upon returning to the Block, everyone found that a raucous celebration was beginning. This was no great surprise, as people were always getting drunk and celebrating there, and there was no particular reason for it other than surviving another day. When the Praxians there learned of Argwaha's success, the party grew more wild still, and everyone broke out the bison kumis. Erindros managed to drink a seasoned Storm Bull warrior under the table (he has unusually high CON), while HWSAC was doomed to suffer a hangover the likes of which he had never experienced before. The next day, the party located Mokwar's cousin, and presented a token that he gave to them. The trader revealed his hidden wares, several shards of valuable truestone. He drove a hard bargain for it, but Erindros managed to drive the price down slightly, and purchased three good-sized shards. Argwaha planned to stay and complete his initiation rites, and the party was free to venture on to their next stop, the Paps. Next time, I will have finally caught up to the present session! The party will reunite with Egajia at the Paps, and she will attempt her shaman initiation rite. Thanks for reading!
    2 points
  22. Edit: I've decided to add more of my AWFUL maps to help visualize the many different locations I'm describing. Storm Season (Off-time) At this point in the campaign, I think we had about 4 sessions under our belt. I decided that I wanted to allow the players more control over what their characters did each season, and so I took a break from the usual, "Chieftain tells you to do this for the good of the clan, so do it." Instead I started giving them a quick overview of what the clan folk were doing week by week, dropping rumors, and sharing news about what the other clans and neighbors were up to. My hope was that they would either choose something interesting to look into, or come up with a scheme of their own. At the beginning of the Storm Season, the events were as follows- In spite of their vindication, the Bardori are still angry at the Togarth clan. There are disputes about stolen pasture land, and their chieftain also refuses to return the cattle that were lost the previous season. The Balkoth clans, in particular the Wozer (another one I created) are hitting everyone in the valley with repeated cattle raids. Now that they don't have to herd goats anymore, they are replenishing their herds (although they still have the goats). Fort Enstala, the ruined capitol of the late Enstalos Tribe, is rumored to be haunted by vengeful ghosts and demons. It is also rumored to still have treasure hidden in the Temple of the Seven Mothers, passed over by Blackmane's raiders. Chieftain Angarr has forbidden anyone from raiding until next year. He feels the focus should be on rebuilding steads, repairing defenses, and reestablishing old ties of friendship and trade with other clans. In spite of this, the young weaponthanes are chomping at the bit, and ready to fight their own neighbors. The atmosphere is a bit tense. Erindros agrees with the chieftain that feuding with the Togarth would be a bad thing, and cattle raiding may not be enough to satisfy the hotblooded warriors. He comes up with a plan that will hopefully improve relations with the Togarth, and also let the warriors test their mettle. Storm Season: The Big Raid (or, Everyone Hates the Sambari Tribe) Political Map of Dundealos Valley Erindros' idea was this. He, Egajia and Garkar would go to the Togarth chieftain as emissaries, bearing gifts and offering to smooth over recent disputes. They would then propose a joint raid as one-time allies against a common enemy: the Sambari Tribe to the northwest. The Sambari are famous thrallholders, and many of their clans once paid annual tribute to the Togarth, who would go raiding against them otherwise. Since the Dundealos Tribe was disbanded, they have not had to worry about this of course. Raiding one of their clans, specifically the Rastorlings, would help to reestablish the old tributes. The Bardori have no quarrel with any Sambari clans (except for Garkar of course), but they would benefit by liberating and adopting more thralls. Erindros and Egajia convinced the chieftain and the Inner Ring that this would be a good idea. They then had to visit the Togarth chieftain, Arnsulva One-Eye, and convince her. The party got a cool reception at first, and had to suffer various insults from Arnsulva, a Vingan warrior. Then Garkar, bolstered with magic and fueled by his irrational hatred of the Sambari, convinced the Togarth thanes that the thrallholders needed to be taught a lesson. He also impressed the chieftain, and plans for a joint raiding party were agreed upon. The Togarth would send the chieftain's eldest daughter Orane, a warrior of Humakt, and eighty warriors. The Bardori would send one hundred, led by the PC's and a member of the Inner Ring named Leif Lightspear. Leif was a Sun Thane of Elmal, and originally from the Pol-Joni. Before setting out on the raid, the clan prepared with rituals and prayers to their war gods (mainly Orlanth, Elmal, and Humakt). The chieftain presented the Black Arrow to the clan's warriors, and took part in the masked war dances. The next morning the raiders set out north, and met up with the Togarth contingent on the way. Rastorling lands would take a full day and a half to reach. On the way, the raiders would have to pass through the Ulandring clan's territory. The Ulandrings are a Dundealos clan, and in my version of the setting, are the more cool-headed parent clan of the Togarth. They allowed the party to pass without issue, and even allowed a few of their own warriors to join the raid. The Rastorling clan (I can't remember if I made them up or not) are based in the northern Tantrell Hills around a hill fort, simply called Rastorl's Fort. The raiding party camped for the night at the edge of Ulandring territory, then struck out the next morning. They stayed under the cover of woods as they approached the fort, and Garkar scouted ahead to help everyone avoid the border patrols. The raiders managed to reach the fort itself without being discovered, and were thus able to strike before the full Rastorling militia was prepared. The fort's defenders numbered about 100, including the farmers nearby who took up arms. Before the two sides clashed in battle, challenges were called out. One particularly obnoxious warrior named Orlestan "Mad-Beard" was getting under Garkar's skin, and he met the warrior's challenge. Unfortunately, Orlestan had a Lightning spell prepared, and nearly blew off poor Garkar's sword arm. Garkar decided the duel wasn't going well, and used his Leap spell to get safely back to his allies, and Egajia's healing magic. The battle was then met. The raiders outnumbered the defenders, and again Erindros' leadership skills in battle helped to win the day. The defenders were driven back into the fort. Rastorl's Fort boasted a high stone wall and a stout gate, and the raiders had little hope of breaching it. Erindros realized however that the Rastorlings' most valuable assets, their thralls, were also likely imprisoned in the fort. He went to the front gate, dodging arrows as he went, and attempted to rouse the thralls within to fight back against their captors, and open the gate for their future liberators. Perhaps sensing an opportunity, the thralls within (who now outnumbered the Rastorling defenders) responded, and after a short brawl within, raised the main gate for the raiders. They swarmed into the fort, and the looting began. Further Complications The raid was a success. The Togarth warriors were allowed to take the larger share of silver and loot, while the Bardori rustled the cattle, stole food, and rounded up as many thralls as they could find to offer them freedom. Erindros, Egajia and Garkar were overseeing this process when they noticed something odd. By this time, it was late afternoon, and the sun was sinking low. Yet, from the southwest, a massive shadow was quickly approaching. It looked as if night was falling, but only over a region a few miles across. Suspecting that some foul magic was at play, they ran off to warn Leif and the other raiders. No sooner had they done so, when a cold shadow swept over the Rastorlings' entire tula. The sun became a dim blot in the sky, and general visibility was reduced to only a few meters. Soon after this, the PC's began hearing terrifying howls, grunts and squeals. A band of trollkin wielding spears came loping out of the darkness, and tried to engage the party. Egajia also sensed through Second Sight that other, more powerful creatures were staying hidden and watching in the darkness. They all decided unanimously that they were too spent to fight any kind of troll, and retreated. The trollkin couldn't keep up with them, and they escaped successfully. Unfortunately, the darkness combined with the bewildering noises made it difficult to find their way, and everyone became lost. After a few hours of wandering, the strange darkness dissipated, and gave way to actual night. The PC's found Leif Lightspear and other Bardori warriors under the effects of a Sunbright spell. They learned from him that trolls had swept in to take advantage of the chaos and carry off prisoners and cattle. The giant shadow was apparently a massive elemental, of the kind found in Shadow's Dance. Among the prisoners taken was the Togarth chieftain's daughter, Orane. The party was then faced with a difficult choice. They felt they needed to save Orane, as it was the honorable thing to do, and it could also potentially put the Togarth chieftain in their debt. By this point however, they had spent their rune magic, and other resources as well (augments, MP). Still, they decided to follow the trail of the Uz war party (which was not hard to find at all). Their quickly improvised plan was to ask Leif to use his remaining rune magic to distract the trolls, while they crept in and rescued Orane. The trolls had left to the south, into thick woods. The party borrowed horses, and rode along with Leif and a few others to follow them. The trolls left a trail of mangled brush and discarded bones that was not hard to follow, even in the dark. The rescuers found that the trolls were traveling with several giant rhinoceros beetles, laden with spoils (mostly food), and crude cages to store prisoners. These were mostly Togarth warriors, many wounded and unconscious. There were dozens of trolls present, and twice as many trollkin. Thankfully, Leif's distraction worked as he blinded the trolls with light, and set trees on fire. Most of them gave chase. Garkar and Erindros freed as many Togarth captives as they could, but were not able to heal those who were otherwise too wounded. They found the chieftain's daughter, who was unconscious, and carried her back to the horses. Several trolls noticed the heroes escaping, but Egajia still had plenty of MP left for Sleep spells. They escaped, as did Leif, and the trolls did not bother pursuing. The group had to go the long way around Rastorling land and avoid their patrols again, which they managed to do. They were reunited with the raiding party, and breathed a collective sigh of relief. All in all, the raid could still be counted as a success. The Togarth were furious at having their men taken as food by the trolls, but none of them blamed the Bardori or the PC's. Orane, when she came to, gave them her thanks. The raiding party returned the way they had come. Arnsulva One-Eye praised the PC's heroism at rescuing her eldest daughter, and threw a feast to celebrate the successful raid. While she could not be convinced to set up a permanent alliance between the two clans, she admitted that she was in their debt. Sacred Time 1625 Originally I had planned to make Sacred Time a separate adventure unto itself, but the timing didn't really work out. Instead it was treated as part of the seasonal off-time. I narrated the story of the Lightbringer's Quest, and each PC took part in a ceremony for their respective gods. Egajia was off in Prax for most of the two weeks, celebrating Daka Fal's high holy days. Here is how the Sacred Time sequence from the core rules worked out for everyone- Worship ceremonies - None of the PC's had more than 4 rune points with their gods, and they manage to recover them in previous weeks. Heroquest - No one felt like they were ready for this, and I didn't have to time to invent my own Heroquesting rules (can't wait for the Campaign/GM book to come out!!!) Harvest - For modifiers, the omens of the previous year were Ill-Favored, due to the Dragonrise and general instability in the region. I also considered the attack from the Lunar garrison to count as Light Raiding (-10% modifier). This added up to a -20% for the Harvest roll. The result was Bad. People were hungry, and barely scraping by, but at least it wasn't a famine. Adventurer Income - Despite the poor harvest, Erindros and Egajia succeeded with their rolls. Garkar did not (should have spent more time on the farm I guess). Erindros' player realized that he did not take steps to increase his stockpiled goods, thus his merchant income was meager. For the next year, he decided he would plan a trading expedition. Aging - Everyone is in their early 20's, nothing exciting here. Family Rolls - Nobody felt motivated to get married yet. One of Garkar's uncles was blessed by Orlanth and received a magical spear. Nothing interesting happened in Egajia's family. Erindros was the big winner, fathering a son! We all tried to figure out when and how this would have logically happened. Erindros' player agreed that the big party with the Togarth clan may have resulted in a drunken liaison. This also meant the baby was not born yet, so this would give Erindros time to figure out how to take care of his new family (and if he was going to get married). Omens - I knew something of what was coming for 1626. I decided the omens would definitely be Ill-Favored again. The chieftain was the one to perform the divinations, using a sacrificed rooster of course. He went into a frightening trance, and gave the following prophecy- "The Red Moon waxes bright, Chaos grows strong. A foul wind blows from the East. A great house shall fall, and after comes war and darkness." The spilled blood from the cockerel then moved of its own accord, and formed into the distinctive shape of a woman holding two curved swords. Next time, Sea Season 1626. The next season actually contains multiple adventures, so I will summarize it in 2-3 entries. Thanks for taking the time to read about our campaign!
    2 points
  23. Edit: I've added some AWFUL maps that I made in a free paint program called Artweaver. Dark Season (Off-time) To the best of my recollection, my players and I spent one session doing off-time activities, and then preparing to introduce the next big adventure. Still, they were very busy during this off-time. Sartar was in great upheaval, and emissaries arrived at the chieftain's hall claiming that Fazzur Wideread was marching on Sartar to crush the latest uprising. The PC's were given the option of joining Kallyr Starbrow in the north to defend Sartar against the Tarshite army. Partly because all the PC's had relevant Passions (Hate: Lunar Empire), and partly because they all wanted to take part in a big battle, they rode north to Swenstown and joined the 1st Swenstown Foot Militia, and then on towards Kallyr's camp at Red Cow Fort. I used the material at the end of the Eleven Lights campaign to provide details and imagery for the battle, and actually read Kallyr's speech before the big fight. In some ways this felt like cheating, because players in the Red Cow campaign have to come a long way to earn this epic finale. But I thought it encapsulated the struggles of the last few years very well, so I went for it. After a whole lot of buildup, we actually handled the Battle of Dangerford as a simple series of rolls using the Battle skill. Garkar and Egajia fought well, but Erindros (who oddly enough had the highest Battle skill) took command of a group of fighters defending the Isle Dangerous, and played a decisive role in holding off the Lunar advance. After the battle ended in fiery carnage for the Lunars, Kallyr Starbrow herself commended Erindros for his leadership. The party returned to Bardori lands in triumph, but they found that all was not well at home. The clan's ancestral spirits, who resided in a series of sanctified barrow mounds, had manifested and marched into the chieftain's hall, in a rather foul mood. They demanded to know why their descendants had deigned to keep thralls when doing so was forbidden by clan tradition. The chieftain had in fact kept about 50 survivors of the Enstalos Tribe as thralls to help finish the harvest after the Dragonrise occurred, and ensured his people wouldn't starve for the winter. The chieftain told the spirits as much, but they were unsatisfied with the answer, and threatened to withhold their blessings unless the situation was rectified. Chieftain Angarr then summoned a clan moot to discuss the issue. These Enstalos survivors were mostly women and children of Tarshite origin, although they included several families of former Dundealos who had converted to the Lunar Way. These families had joined the new Lunar tribe instead of supporting their kin in the last uprising. When they were discovered by Angarr and the returning clan, all were spared death to avoid the curse of kinstrife. The clan moot was a loud and raucous affair, and it became clear that factions were forming between different members of the Inner Ring. Two different solutions were proposed- Free the thralls and adopt them as full members of the clan, or- Sell them at a slave market, either to the Sambari Tribe or at Pimper's Block. The PC's mostly argued for the former option, with Garkar abstaining from the debate, and only saying that the Sambari Tribe didn't deserve anyone's business (Garkar hates the Sambari Tribe). On of the main sticking points for the adoption argument was that the thralls seemed reluctant to abandon the Lunar religion. The PC's were unable to sway the chieftain's opinion, and so he vowed to think on it for another week before he made a decision, and call another moot then. Dark Season - Murder and a Nighttime Raid Bardori Lands The party gathered again at the chieftain's hall a few days later, after hearing grim news. A young man of 16 had been found dead that morning at the edge of some pastureland. His name was Aldis, and he was a member of a Pol-Joni family that settled with the clan. Many of the clan's cattle had also been stolen. Some were found scattered throughout the tula, while others were sighted across the river to the north, in the lands of the Togarth clan. The Togarth are a Dundealos clan (also of my own invention), but also a War Clan who were known conduct cattle raids against fellow tribesmen. Many Bardori thanes assumed that the Togarth attempted a cattle raid that went badly for them, and Aldis was killed before he could alert the militia. More hotheaded voices demanded immediate retaliation against their northern neighbors. The chieftain called on the PC's to discretely look into Aldis's murder. He personally suspected that the Togarth had nothing to do with it, and wanted to avoid a potential feud so soon after resettling. They agreed, and started by examining Aldis's body. They met with the boy's father, and convinced them to allow an "autopsy." They had only one chance to examine the body, as the family were Elmal worshipers who cremated their dead. They found that Aldis had been shot from behind with several arrows, but were unable to gather any more relevant information. They did notice that Aldis's sister seemed nervous and reluctant to speak with them. Erindros attempted to speak with her in private, and she offered to give him more information on her brother's death after the cremation, when she could get away from her father. Next the party decided to inspect the place where Aldis was killed. This was at the edge of pasture land belonging to one of the clan's main bloodlines. There were many confusing tracks, and much spilled blood. There had also been light snowfall the previous night. Thankfully Garkar had decent Tracking skills. He discovered that Aldis's body was likely dragged to the place where it was found, from closer to the southern edge of clan territory. They walked to this place, near the edge of a tract of woods. Here they found more fresh blood, and the tracks were much clearer. The evidence suggested that the boy was attacked by a small group that came out of the woods. They also noticed poorly concealed tracks leading back towards the thrall stockade, where the Enstalos folk were kept prisoner. At this point, various theories were being batted around about the killing, including bandits, some other clan, or a person within the clan who had a motive to kill. Before jumping to any conclusions, Erindros decided to speak with the victim's sister, whom he had met earlier. She told him that Aldis had been seeing an Enstalos girl named Sostra, who was a thrall. She didn't want to reveal this in front of her father, for fear of dishonoring him, and because her family hate the Lunars. With this information in mind, the party finally went to visit the thrall stockade. This was a hastily constructed series of shelters, surrounded by a wooden palisade. Within they found Sostra, and encouraged her to cooperate with them, for the good of her own family. She admitted that she and Aldis had been meeting each other secretly in a hay loft for the last few weeks. The previous night, Aldis had awoken and seen a cowled figure leaving the stockade. He followed in order to determine the person's identity, and then never returned. Sostra lay awake worrying for the rest of the night, and then saw the mysterious figure return to the stockade shortly before dawn. The party promised the girl their protection, and went about privately interviewing the other community leaders of the Enstalos thralls. They proved a tight-lipped bunch, and no new information was gleaned. At this point, the day was drawing to a close, and Erindros and Garkar decided to report what they had learned to the chieftain. Egajia, sensing that something dangerous might occur soon, decided to visit the site of the killing again, and attempt a divination spell to reach Daka Fal. Chieftain Angarr, after listening to the report with a grim countenance, decided there might be a danger that one of the thralls could be communicating with outsiders, and planning something. He raised the fyrd, increased patrols along the boundaries of the tula. Thinking that the thralls might be planning an uprising, Garkar decided to have them all moved to the chieftain's stead, and placed under careful guard. Egajia, meanwhile, had successfully contacted her god, and asked him to show her the face of Aldis's murderer. She received a vision of a man walking through a forest, holding a torch. She had never seen or met this man before, but he wore the battered armor of a Lunar infantry officer. She also saw that he marched at the head of several dozen other well-armed men. Egajia assumed that this was the mysterious group whose prints they had seen at the edge of the woods, and that they might be headed for the tula. Still naked and covered with ash, she ran off barefoot through the snow to tell the others. When she reunited with the party, they saw that farms were burning on the northern end of the clan's land. Knowing that the chieftain was already riding with his weaponthanes to deal with any raid, they decided to head for the thrall stockade. They suspected that the intruders, apparently Lunar soldiers, might try to meet with the mysterious cowled figure they had learned about at the stockade. If this were true, then an ambush could be staged. Erindros organized a group of militia to hide in the thralls' huts, and wait with bows drawn. Garkar and Egajia waited by the palisade gate, planning to close it after the soldiers entered. The Lunars did in fact come, bearing a bundle containing swords, spears and axes. Egajia saw the officer from her vision leading a handful of men into the hut which belonged to Sostra's uncle. She then closed the gate behind them, and cast Glue to shut it. A fierce battle ensued. Egajia was nearly burned alive by a fire elemental, and the others narrowly avoided being struck with Lunar madness. But with the help of the fyrd's bows and javelins, and Egajia's Sleep spells, they took all the Lunar soldiers alive. The chieftain fought and killed the other raiders, who had been sent to burn steads as a distraction. The raiding party was discovered to be made up of Lunar garrison survivors, who had been hiding in the hills since the loss of Fort Enstala. Their commanding officer was a man named Vasilides, from Tarsh. He was executed by Aldis's father. The next morning, it was found that Sostra's uncle, a thrall named Gontar who was once of the Dundealos Tribe, had been sneaking out to meet with Vasilides, and was planning an uprising. Aldis had discovered him meeting the Lunars at night, and Vasilides killed the boy with his bow before he could escape. Gontar then tried to make the murder look like part of a failed cattle raid. He came forward to the chieftain to proclaim his guilt, and implicated his sons and a few other followers in his conspiracy. But he claimed that most of the other thralls did not know of his plans, and asked for the people's mercy in judging them. The chieftain called another moot to discuss the issue. Most of the clan folk were enraged, and ready to take extreme measures to punish the conspirators. Egajia successfully calmed the crowd, and reminded them that most of the thralls were likely innocent. Gontar clearly was not, but killing him and his family would still technically be kinstrife. She proposed exiling Gontar and the others to Prax, with little more than water and some supplies. The chieftain was swayed by her words, and assented. Egajia then spoke to the remaining thralls, saying that it wasn't impossible for them to be accepted as future members of the clan, but they would need to work hard at winning everyone's trust, and leave their past behind them. Taking her implied meaning, they all publicly renounced the Red Goddess and the Lunar Way. The chieftain later chose to adopt the Enstalos thralls into the clan as cottars. The clan's ancestors were satisfied by this, and stayed quiet in their barrow mounds afterwards. Next time, Storm Season 1625, and maybe Sacred Time!
    2 points
  24. My expectations for Skaerune' were that it would likely be third in line of the games I was working on. When I came here and really started getting into the site, I thought it might move up to #2. Well, now it's number one on my list and no regrets. The game is falling into place nicely and I feel like I have a good handle on it. I have made templates for myself. The layout is under way and looking good. Once I have a version people can look over, I have a good feeling about it. I am also keeping more of the OpenQuest 2 SRD than I imagined, which is as testament to that game and to Newt on designing a great version of d100. So now I think I need a stuffed Rakshasa to sit on my office (i.e. desk) and demand I work harder, as stuffed mythological characters are want to do.
    2 points
  25. As I don't believe it adds productively to the conversation, but is still something I need to express, I'm posting the following here in isolation. I seek no answers, plainly see the writing on the wall, understand that change is inevitable and am glad that Chaosium will survive. That doesn't mean, however, I don't have strong feelings. I am a child of the great divorce when RQ (BRP) and Glorantha separated and went their own ways 30 years ago. I have never been a Glorantha fan, and though an admirer of Greg and his mythology, I wanted to build my own myths and legends. RQ III’s culture-centric spin offered an amazing sense of “perfect fit” and yet “old comfort” (having come from SB1e). It was exactly what I needed and wanted. I have operated within those parameters for the last thirty five years: SB 1e, RQIII, Monographs, SB 5e, the BGB, (an RQ6 experiment my players sadly found too crunchy) and finally MW. 35 years a faithful fan to Chaosium’s BRP centered products; 35 years spending money despite what I considered poor business practices. 35 years of operating within a BRP sub-culture that, intended or not, Greg and Co.’s business decisions gave birth to. Despite well-intended reassurances, I presently feel like a “fired fan” (as some one put it). I understand that business can have no truck with romance if it wants to survive. Change is a given; adaptation is a must, thus I see my feelings in an honest light. Of the 100% of Chaosium’s present and potential income and sources, my BRP makes up for less than 10% and of that my dollars represent but 1/1000th of a percent. I see this and accept it, but it also represents nearly 75% of my life measured in loyalty and faith which makes Chaosium’s potential new emphasis difficult to consider without concern. Will I remain faithful despite this? I don’t know. I do know that it won't be for a remarried RQ and Glorantha. Though I’m happy for Greg and all those Gloranthaphiles for whom this is an unforeseen fulfillment of dearly held hopes and dreams, and for Loz and Pete and its confirmation of their hard and brilliant work as RQ torch bearers, I on the other hand, as a BRP bastard child, suddenly feel bereft of place and sitting below the salt watching others, the true-born, celebrating.
    2 points
  26. Here and now “What do you want to know? My name? Which one? You already know all of them. My friends and my family call me Aendel, so let’s use that. Where to start? The beginning? My mother, Jareen Londrosdottr, gave birth to me during the fourth year of Dangmet’s reign, the wWild day of the Truth week, during the great Umath season. My clan was the Taraling. Here, my kin count lots of kings, such as Leika my lovely cousin, Kangharl the shameful, unfortunate Kallay and many more. My father has nothing to be ashamed of with his lineage. But I discovered this point when I (just) was a young adult. My mother wanted me to become king. She planned, acted and manipulated for her obsession. She obtained a good position in the Runegate Earth temple and was selected to incarnate Ernalda at the Spring fest. In exchange for favours, she obtained a noble warrior as her Orlanth. She explained to me later that he was visiting the clan before moving far away, so he was a good candidate, allowing her to educate me like she wanted, without having to convince a “bull” of her choices. Of course, she sacrificed all the few resources she had and Ernalda blessed her pregnancy. She gave birth to the wonderful baby who now sits in front of you. And mother started my education. She taught me all our lineage. She taught me all the Heortling laws a king must know to lead his people. She taught me how to order and convince a crowd, to manage a house. When other boys discovered woods and rivers, stones and sticks, I recited Vingkot’s story. Fortunately, sometimes, I was able to escape her attention, and seeking to resemble my unknown father, I trained with my sword. Alone. With such a weird education, few children wanted to play with me. Some did, but I quickly discovered they were forced to by their parents, who hoped to gain some social benefits in the future. That was a bad bargain. I refused these false friendships, and, angry and wounded by such lies, I swore to always tell the truth. And then the drama came. We had to flee out of our clan land from Lunar invaders. Mother decided to reach for Boldhome. I think she planned to impress the Prince, to make some alliances and to place me in the court. The plan would be great…. if the Lunars were defeated. When she saw the forces beyond the ramparts, she kissed me, ordering me to follow my destiny, to become the great leader she dreamed of. And she joined the army, and she was in the front line, and she died, bravely, spitting her blood in the face of her murderer. Here is my fate, by my blood and my will, by the winds and the truth, I was born to be king. All my choices are dedicated to that. And nobody, nothing, not even you, will prevent me from accomplishing my destiny.”
    1 point
  27. (Note: Bold text refers to a Trait, Ability, or Rune that a character in question has). DRAMATIS PERSONAE Androgenus, a genderfluid Esrolian Eurmali trickster with the Illuminated Illusion, Earth, and Luck runes. They are attempting to explore the mysteries of Illumination without a teacher—without any type of teacher—and are beginning to wonder whether or not existence is worth all the trouble. They’re also being watched very closely by... Waddlestomp the Bloodybeaked, a Hueymakti Duck thane with the Water, Death, and Truth runes. His quest to avenge his people has hit a small speed bump while he’s been pressganged into helping Iris conquer the Three Step Isles (see below). In the meantime, his patented Waddlestomp’s Big Ol’ List Of Humans That Need Killin’™ has just gained a new member: Androgenus, after the cowardly Trickster abandoned him in the middle of a merfolk fight last session. Currently mourning the loss of his enchanted shield in that same fight, and nursing some serious wounds. K'dud (pronounced Ka-Dude, named after the persona of a Knight in our local chapter of the SCA). K'dud is a Caladralander priest of Vestkarthan, God of Volcanoes, and also his sons Gustbran and Kalvan. He holds the Fire, Truth, and Mastery runes, and through them has mastered the Bronze Arms and Sharp Soul styles of unarmed combat. His player, after two weeks struggling to define a personality trait for K’dud beyond “Vaguely helpful and a bit dumb,” has decided to embrace it—and renamed his core Trait in the process. More on that later. And last but certainly not least: Iris, an Esrolian Earth Priestess in service to Takakia, the Goddess of Moss, who holds the Earth, Movement, and Spirit runes. Iris is the supposed leader of the party, but finds that bossing around a bloodthirsty Duck, an erratically insane Trickster, and a somewhat gormless volcano priest to be a tad more difficult than nailing Jell-O to the wall with an office stapler. Plus, she’s also having to deal with a smuggler captain who blames her and her alone for getting their ship stranded in the middle of someone else’s mythos... That’s right, this session opened in the God Time. I revealed that right at the start by calling for everyone to roll against their strongest Runes, with the possible consequences for failure being that they’d be even more confused by what was about to happen than normal. Everyone passed—except K’dud, which became a running theme. Therefore, everyone except K’dud twigged onto what was going on and where they were immediately. As the red sun dawned over multicolored, shimmering waves, wind spirits and fish spirits visibly dancing about them, everyone (including most of the NPCs present on their ship, the She’s One Of Ours, Sir), except K’dud, realized they were not in the material world, but in the Godplane! Iris got it first: they were probably sucked into the God Time during the storm, which did seem even more violent and magical than usual. Her Spirit Rune glowed brightly, showing that they were closer to the spirits, clueing her into the magic all around her. Then Androgenus understood another nugget of what was going on with his Beggar background Trait, he recognized snippets of a story he’d heard from Triolini dock workers in his youth. He recalled the tale of Magasta, God of the Seas, fighting the Fire Tribe, plundering treasure ships and coastal settlements for the bride-price of Brastalos, Goddess of Waterspouts and Sea Storms. The last session’s fight against the merfolk during the storm, and the island they were marooned in front of, both seemed familiar to them somehow, but they couldn’t recall any more details other than that they were definitely trapped somewhere in a merfolk myth. Then Waddlestomp, with his Death Rune affinity, sensed the presence of another great dealer of Death—the Merfolk Hero from the battle, still somehow alive, despite the grievous wounds that K’dud had inflicted on him! He advised the rest of the party to be wary-that kind of Hero seldom leaves a task unfinished, particularly if they got swept up into a Heroquest. Meanwhile, K’dud stared overboard and gawked at the brilliantly-colored fish flitting around the oyster-covered reef below. He was interrupted by the ship’s captain. The damage to the She’s One Of Ours, Sir had been repaired in such a way that the boat was literally pinned in place by a chunk of oystery coral; more extensive repairs were required to actually move the ship, which would take materials that just weren’t on hand. The mythical tropical island laid out before them, however, looked like it had plenty of wood, fresh water, and perhaps food. Everyone knew the risks inherent in foraging—for supplies in the God World—travel is dangerous even if you knew the story you are traveling through. Going blind through another culture’s myths? That was tantamount to very incompetent suicide. But they needed to do it. The adventurers set out in a longboat for shore with a work party of sailors; they were looking for fresh water, some food, and enough timber to repair the ship. Waddlestomp made sure that he was sitting riiiiiight next to Androgenus, so the Trickster didn’t start any funny business. “I don’t know what’s on that island, but I swear by Hueymakt’s cloaca that when shit goes down, if you so much as twitch wrong, Androgenus,” muttered Waddlestomp out of the corner of his beak, “You die first. Get me?” Androgenus nodded and smiled, apparently happy to hear it. “Glad to know you’re back to normal. How’s the arm?” They responded. Waddlestomp’s arm had been impaled by the merfolk Hero the previous session. “All the better for you to mind your own business, mammal,” grunted the thane, giving Androgenus the world’s biggest stink-eye. (The players cracked up at this: Waddlestomp’s player acted this out through his webcam and everyone started making jokes about The Rock that went on for about thirty minutes.) The boat made landfall with nary a sound on an isolated, picturesque beach. Iris Called Up Local Spirits (swiftly becoming her favorite stunt), secretly opposed by the watchful eyes of the island’s mythic guardians. With a marginal failure, she learned where a good supply of fresh water would be—the base of the waterfall that could be seen from the She’s One Of Ours, Sir, and furthermore that the pool had a decent population of fish for the ship’s larder. Iris led the way, tailed by K’dud (who kept gawping at everything with a slack jawed “Gosh!” Every few minutes). Androgenus and Waddlestomp stayed behind to help out the smugglers and hoplites that were busy chopping down a decent-sized tree that stood a few yards back from the beach’s treeline. Androgenus managed a critical success against their Paranoid flaw, so we ruled that they were jumpy, but justifiably so—they could tell that they were being watched by something, and not just the local spirits. They alerted Waddlestomp, who grudgingly stood on guard as well, contemptuous as he was of the Trickster’s flighty antics. As the crew got to work knocking down the tree, they were proven right! Out of the trees, a band of gold-armored, flame-armed warriors sprang, instantly cutting down a handful of the workmen and putting the others to rout. As the crew fled down the beach and Waddlestomp met burning bronze with killing Truesword, we “cut” to Iris, K’dud, and their crew contingent. Iris led them to an eerily tranquil pool underneath a roaring waterfall. Roaring, as it so happened, because it was actually an enormous Water Dragon, chained to the cliff with ropes of pure dancing sunlight! Immediately, they were set upon by a trio of fish spirits that leapt up from the pool. K’dud’s Bronze Arms Style (tied to his Fire rune) burned away two of the fish, but not before the third savaged Iris with snapping jaws and razor-edged fins. The moss priestess was knocked into the pool, barely conscious and no doubt doomed to drown... ...And we cut back to Waddlestomp and Androgenus. Androgenus got a solid success with their Luck rune's breakout ability Clumsy Curse against the onrushing soldiers, making many of them drop their weapons and shields in their charge down the beach. Waddlestomp used Vengeance-Seeking Swordsduck to great effect, laying many of the soldiers low and holding their attention long enough for the She's One Of Ours, Sir's crew to escape back to the longboats and row hard for the reef. But it wasn't quite enough--Androgenus found themself swiftly found by soldiery searching the trees, surrounded with a flaming spearheads, then wrapped in scintillating chains of fiery light. Waddlestomp merely took a good luck at the wave after wave of fire-clad, weirdly identical warriors that were streaming down the beach towards him, and did the unthinkable for a Hueymakti warrior: He laid down his sword and surrendered. This started a bit of an out-of-character argument, and also was the midpoint of our session. I'll recap the other half of the session soon! We took a mid-session break with Iris struggling for consciousness in a deep, dark pool, K'dud barely fending off fish spirits, Androgenus and Waddlestomp captured, and four players arguing vehemently about whether or not Waddlestomp's god would let him surrender.
    1 point
  28. The Brothers were discouraged. They looked around at the busy, bustling fortified village. Warriors were talking, drinking and gambling. Where are we asked Wulfhere and where is Grim's Dyke? The man grinned and motioned them to look to the northwest. See that dyke stretching into the distance? That’s Grim's Dyke. Built by giants long ago. There was a great earthwork that stretched to the northwest into the dusk. This is Grim’s Dyke Burgh. The Brothers were beginning to find Angle humour hard to take and if they had not been so tired, they might have started an argument. Uthric asked if Ealdorman Wiglaf was here and if so would he see three travellers? I think he might, replied the man, but not at present. This turned out to be another bit of Angle humour and when they complained that they came from a place where people talked plainly and not with riddles or sarcasm the man grew grumpy and told them that if they insisted on asking stupid questions, they would get stupid answers. Southerners have no sense of humour. The Thane in Grim's Dyke Burgh was Wictred and he was more approachable than the guard at the gate. He was interested that the Brothers had seen five Wealsc, as the Angles called the Britons. Wealsc means foreigners, which is a bit ingenious thought Wulfhere as the Britons lived here before either Angles or Saxons came to this land. Still it serves a purpose and gets us fired up against the Britons. Wictred praised Uthric and suggested he might be known as Eagle-eye. Often Wealsc scouts move through the countryside unseen. The first thing that a person knows that there are Wealsc around is when a spear suddenly sprouts from your chest. Wictred laughed at his own joke and added that it is also usually the last thing you notice too. When he had calmed down somewhat, Wictred gave the brothers more ale and asked them for their news. Wulfhere, as eldest, explained they had travelled from Portus Caester to talk with Wiglaf. Wictred commented that he wasn't sure where Portus Caester was, but he considered that the Brothers must have important business with Wiglaf to come into Mierce. But that discussion would have to wait a while longer, for unfortunately, Wiglaf had left and gone to Mershford before last Midsummer. He was using Mershford as a base to attack the Wealsc. Mershford was only two days travel on the Old Road, however he did not expect the brothers would meet Wiglaf there as it was summer and he would have taken his Warband north in search of plunder. The next day the brothers travelled to Danasted. They met a Warband on the way in a temporary encampment. The Warband had come off worst in a fight with the Wealsc and were recovering before moving on. Towards evening they arrived at Danasted which was a fortified camp and were given lodging and food after they had chopped wood and carried water to the communal kitchens. They left early in the morning eager to get to Mershford. On the way, Eagle-eyed Uthric again saw some men watching them. This time they were Angles, who waved at them from a distance, after reaching the conclusion the Brothers were not enemy troops. At Mershford, they learnt from Thane Offa that Wiglaf had returned to Mershford a moon ago but had returned to a city in the north called Ratae. Wiglaf had stormed the city last harvest time and was fortifying it. Offa counselled against going. The Wealsc are thick around here and if it is not urgent business with Wiglaf they should stay. The Brothers disagreed saying that the business could not wait for Wiglaf to return. Offa gave them hospitality but remarked that the Wealsc were likely to kill them and their business would be unfulfilled. Dunstan thanked him and said that he, for one, had other plans than to die at the hands of the Wealsc. The Brothers thought Offa a gloomy man and wondered how a gloomy man could brew such good ale. Ratae was five days travel north and they got directions when they bid farewell to Offa. The days travel took them to Tondbertsburgh, a fortified village that straddled the road and even had market stalls. Some of the buildings had been built by the old people. Particularly impressive was a temple and a place where you could have a bath. The Thane, Tondbert, would not see them and eventually they left his hall to find food and shelter. Tondbertsburgh was a meeting point where the Old people’s road met with another road that seemed to be made from white stone. It shone faintly in the moonlight. A man who had watched them look at it told them had been made by Thunor driving his goat driven cart to get to the Western sea. Uthric did not think it was impressive as the old people's stone roads even if it glowed in the moon and suggested Thunor might be better employed killing giants. The man laughed and asked if all Saxons held similar views about the gods? Wulfhere said that the Brothers thought for themselves and did not listen to wet nurses’ stories. During the next day’s travel, they saw a large Warband moving across their path in the distance going westwards. The Warband had mounted scouts or perhaps even some of the feared British Horse warriors. The horsemen rode closer but did not interfere. Uthric said they were Britons and what was odd is that woman and children were in the warband. They discussed the fact that the Angles might have killed so many British warriors that they now had to use children to fight. If this was indeed the case said Dunstan, Briton would soon belong to the Saxons and Angles. Even the Jutes could have some more land if children were involved in warfare said Wulfhere. The Brothers watched as the Warband moved on. They arrived at Pendaburgh shortly after dark and were only admitted when they had been closely questioned. Pendaburgh was an impressive fortification which had both ramparts and ditches. There were ruins of old people's homes outside the fortification and one of their burial grounds on a hill opposite. It looked as if someone had dug up the graves, no doubt looking for gold. They thought the old people had been clever builders but they obviously did not understand military defence as they had built so many of their homes outside the walls of the Burgh. No wonder that their houses were now burnt and they were no longer here. They gave news to the Thane Penda and asked for directions to Ratae which they were told was two days at a fast pace. Travelling the next day was hard. They met a Thane called Aelfryth and ten of his Carls coming from Ratae. The Thane told them to be careful as there were lots of Wealsc in the area. The Brothers said they had made it this far and as their luck was excellent they expected to reach Ratae without much problem but to be on the safe side they asked Aelfryth for his advice. Aelfryth told them the directions and when they got to the crossroads they should leave this road and travel east. They should reach Ratae by tomorrow night if all went well. That evening they reached the place where two of the old people's roads crossed. It was marked by a building that had a roof but no walls. On the roof was an orb and a cross. Dunstan wondered if the old people didn't feel the cold or perhaps their water heaters kept them warm. The other two had no opinion on the matter and were more concerned about having somewhere safe to sleep. The next day they took the new road that went to the northeast and at sunset reached the city of Rate. They were directed to Wiglaf's fort known as Caer Leonis. The old people's city, though still grand, was mostly deserted. but Wiglaf's halls were bustling with warriors. The fortifications were still being repaired and there were pieces of wood seemingly abandoned by the woodworkers everywhere. Wiglaf invited them into his hall to hear the news and their business. He welcomed them warmly when they told him they were Hrothgar's sons and cleared some of his Carls from the top benches to give them a place of honour. Wiglaf was saddened by their mother's dream. He had been fond of Hrothgar and had invited him to stay and make his home here. But Hrothgar had wanted to go back to Hildegard. Your mother must be very special for Hrothgar to leave me for her he laughed. Dunstan was told by a man sitting beside him that it was the first time the Ealdorman had laughed in days and that the Brothers should come more often. There had been a slave revolt a few days ago and all had escaped with a Wealsc princess called Ydwina. The warriors were glad she had gone as she caused strife among them and Wiglaf had lost interest in doing anything except being with her. The opinion of the warriors was that Ydwina was a sceadugenga and it was well she had gone. Wulfhere and Uthric, on hearing the story, told Wiglaf of the Wealsc warband they had seen and they had commented on the woman and children in the group. Wiglaf became excited and pressed the Brothers for information, particularly if there was a blonde-haired woman amongst the Warband. Wulfhere said he could not say for certain if there had been as his attention had been more focused on the Horse warriors that had ridden close. Uthric told Wiglaf he was known as Eagle-eye and was certain he had seen a woman of outstanding beauty with golden hair leading the woman and children. Wiglaf got more excited and knocked over his horn of ale calling for one of his Thanes and spent time in private conversation with him. The warriors seated near to Uthric gave him hard stares but he ignored them and told an amusing story of hunting rabbits When Wiglaf returned he apologised for being a poor host. He asked the Brothers their intentions and how he could be of help. Wulfhere asked about the message that Hrothgar delivered and could that have been the cause of treachery. Wiglaf said he would not think that was important. Aelle had wanted to know if Wiglaf would join him in an expedition. Wiglaf had replied by asking the King for his terms in the deal which he said meant no as he did not want to form an alliance with a Saxon king. Uthric then asked what had been his opinion of Beorthric and Wilfrith but Wiglaf said he had no opinion on either as he recalled neither of them. He did ask his Carls if anyone had anything to add and one said that Wilfrith had a gambling debt still outstanding to him. To much laughter, he asked if when the brothers met Wilfrith could they remind him of his debt before they killed him. Wulfhere promised this would be the case. Wiglaf took the brothers aside and heard the details of the vision. He was as perplexed as the Brothers and could not read what they meant. He did offer to let them talk to Isen, a laece, who was in Ratae at present. He also offered gifts for the brothers in recompense for their father’s death. He upbraided them for travelling north without any helmets. He thought that being so young they had not thought of the danger and they were perhaps of the opinion if they get hit on the head that it would cause no ill effects as they had perhaps not developed brains yet? However, whatever their opinion on helmets, he would remedy that they had none and, in his opinion, needed them. He also gave them fine silver arm rings. He asked them if they wanted to stay and fight but they declined saying that although he was a generous Lord, they must find out what happened to their father before they thought about their own futures. In the morning they met Isen. They were much the worse for wear having tried stupidly to match Wiglaf cup for cup of ale. Isen was blind. It was said that he had plucked out his eye to gain knowledge like Woden and then had lost the other eye to disease. He also had a servant who constantly whispered in his ear and made the Brothers uneasy. However, Isen’s blindness did not seem to trouble him, he moved with the surety of a sighted man. Isen laughed when the brothers told him of the vision and declined to help. He disparaged Wiglaf for telling them he would help and for being a fool in general. The Brothers were disappointed with the outcome as they were no further on in finding out what happened to Hrothgar. One bit of information that they did find was that Wiglaf had met Hrothgar at Mershford. He had never come so far north as Ratae. He had left Mershford and travelled South. Wiglaf was sending one of his Thanes and 20 men to Offa at Mershford to go after the escaping slaves and the Brothers gratefully accepted the offer to travel with the men.
    1 point
  29. In the third year of King Aelle's reign, on the first day of Solmonath, three brothers woke early to help their mother prepare the cakes that marked the end of winter. The three brothers known as Hrothgarsons and were well liked and thought of in the village of Caedering. Their mother Hildegard had told often them that they were descended from Thunor but Uthric, the middle brother, scoffed at this idea. How can I be descended from Thunor? I don't have red hair or carry a hammer. I don't like goats except for the excellent goat stew you make and I certainly would not hitch them to a cart. They all laughed but Dunstan, the younger brother, thought it might be unlucky to make fun of the gods. They were good natured, likeable boys and the neighbours said they would make fine young men like their father. Their father, Hrothgar, had led a force north to deliver a message to Ealdorman Wiglaf of Mierce but never returned. Only two housecarls came back, Beorthric and Wilfrith. They had said that Hrothgar had stayed behind to fight a pursing enemy to allow the others to escape. Caedering was an inconspicuous settlement on the borders of Aelle's land and ruled over by a Thane, Osberht. Osberht was mostly unremarkable and had no outstanding talents, but was good at most things. He brought peace and prosperity to the people who owed him allegiance. He was not too proud to help with the harvest or go looking for the farmer’s lost cow. His Carls grumbled about a lack of glory but the women were glad that they could bring up their children in peace. And so, this was how matters stood. The brothers made their living by hunting, bartering what they did not need for goods their mother needed. It was on one such trip that the younger brother Dunstan asked his brothers if they thought their mother was ill. We have not noticed said the others, but now you have mentioned it we will pay greater attention. Returning home after the days hunting they asked their mother if she was ill but she denied it and ruffled their hair and told them it was a pity their father could not see them now. And so, the days passed and Hildegard seem to grow older and more tired before their eyes. Wulfhere, the eldest, again confronted Hildegard asking what was wrong. With a great sigh she told them that after Yule she had been having dreams of their father. He comes to me at night, He has wounds in his head and on his body and a large death wound in his chest. He speaks but l cannot hear. The brothers were perturbed but tried to console their mother. Uthric brewed a sleep potion by boiling herbs that he gathered. When that didn’t work they tried to keep guard on her at night but the dream always came. Why is it our father has not gone to Neorxanwang, the Fields of Contentment, they asked each other. Eventually they agreed they would seek guidance from Osberht. The Thane was dismayed at their news and asked for Beorthric and Wilfrith to recount what they knew of Hrothgar's death. It was the first time the brothers had heard from the Carls and what they heard perturbed them. They had a sense of unease about the story and felt that both men might be holding back information. Wulfhere challenged the men but they added little to the story of Hrothgar's death or their part in it. Osberht took them aside afterwards and offered to pay the price of the fee for a laece to enquire of the spirits what the truth of the matter was. My advice said 0sbehrt is to ask Aelfwith with when he comes to the Eostre festival. The brothers were content with Osberht's words and counsel but were concerned at their mother’s plight. Uthric bartered a wild pig head for a potion of Nightshade from Eadgyd who was expert in making potions. The potion brought relief to Hildegard but it turned her nails black. She thought it was a small price to pay. At dusk before the Full moon, the village lit bonfires to celebrate the goddess’ return and in the morning Aelfwith came. There were lots of travelling merchants and peddlers who brought news from the South or further away in the East. Chief among the news was that Cerdic, Ealdorman was gathering an army to attack the British. Eadgyd told everyone she was disgusted by kings and nobles. They were forever declaring wars and disturbing the peace. However no-one paid attention to Eadgyd unless they needed a potion for toothache or help with the berthing of babies. The brothers approach Aelfwith with their bargain. I see no benefit in this for you replied Aelfwith. The risk for you is that the spirits might keep your souls and your body would be vacant until it withered. But for me the risk is greater and I fear that not only would my soul remain sundered from my body but it would be tortured by the unfriendly spirits Aelfwith would not be convinced by the brothers speeches, not even when they offered him the silver arm ring. Osberht’s arm ring is poor recompense if I cannot spend it. The brothers were discouraged by Aelfwith’s words but he told them of another laece, Stithwulf who was presently in Portus Caester. The brothers resolved to ask Osberht for leave to travel and seek out Stithwulf. He gave them a second silver arm ring as he thought they might require extra money. The journey to Portus Caester was uneventful and they followed the level road made by people long ago. They found Portus Caester a marvellous place seeing for the first-time houses that had upper floors and steps that went upwards without the need for ladders. Most exciting of all was the harbour with boats which came from faraway places. They found Stithwulf in a tavern drinking ale and told him of the bargain they wanted to make. Stithwulf made the brothers nervous. He had a habit of not replying directly to questions but often waited. He eventually agreed that he would take the brothers hunting tonight and they would see what became of it. Confident that if this was a trial, they could easily pass it, being accomplished hunters. When Stithwulf told them they would be hunting dangerous plants at midnight, they were perplexed but did not question what they were asked to do. Hunting plants is dangerous said Stith wolf and you must sneak up on the plant, overcome its willpower and then gently remove it from the ground, taking care not to damage the root. The brothers did find that hunting plants is much more dangerous than wild boars and Wulfhere suffered greatly before he had got the required Monkshood and Wormwood. They were tired following the hunt but got no rest as Stithwulf needed their help to build a spirit tent. Dunstan was most helpful as he had been formerly an advisor to Osberht in building withies to keep the sheep paddocked for sheering, Uthric gave up as no matter what he built fell down. Stithwulf at Uthric to build a fire pit instead. A task he accomplished with some style. The brothers were then set tasks to prepare their plants for the coming travel to the land of spirits. The spirit tent was hot and stuffy and they found breathing difficult. Stithwulf gave them each a horn of drink made from the harvested plants. To their horror they began to see spirits gather in the corners of the tent. Spider spirits came first, then bird spirits and finally larger animals. Stithwulf warned them not to move and to not pay attention to the spirits who would not harm them if they were ignored. The spirits had come to watch the laece. Then the visions started .. You are standing in a forest at night. The wind rises suddenly and in a short time it roars through the trees tearing off leaves and branches. You hear howls of dogs or wolves getting closer. The sound of horse’s hooves beat the ground. Horsemen and hounds sweep past you and you are dragged after them in their wake. You travel fast over hills and down into valleys, through forests in what you think is a northerly direction and slowly you are left behind as the riders increase their speed and disappear... In a valley there are two armies fighting. The Shield Walls clash, men shout, heave and die, screaming and shouting. You see the ghosts of the dead looking bemused and you are carried through the air by a violent storm. Thunder crashes close, deafening you and lightning blinds your eyes with its brilliance… ..to be set down in a dark forest. A huge wolf with red eyes comes into the glade where you stand and asks you what you want. Before you can answer you are flying through the air again.. You look down at your arms and they have turned into wings. When you look around you are in the middle of a flock of geese. Suddenly an arrow hits your chest and you fall, tumbling over and over, hitting the ground with a loud sickening smack.. You land by a forest pool and a woman asks you if she can take the arrow from your chest. Before you can answer she pulls the shaft and you feel a searing pain. From the wound maggots and insects flow out and start eating your legs and arms reducing them to bones You collapse and sink into the earth, falling and tumbling a great distance that seems like hours.. ..landing on a shore covered in bones. It is dark and the waves crash onto the shore of bones. In the distance you hear a noise as if something monstrous is moving. it seems to be getting closer and the sound of screaming gets louder. A vast shape moves towards you with gleaming eyes and sharp long teeth. Unable to move as the creature lunges at you, swallowing you. It is dark and the stench is unbearable.. it is death… and you move forward, feeling a rocky ground. Water trickles from somewhere and there is a faint light ahead. Slowly you make your way in the darkness towards the light. As you turn a bend the light floods in blinding you momentarily… ..focus returns and you see a red hat in front of you. You put it on and feel that it is wet. When you look at your hands they run red with blood. Two men walk towards you and laugh. They seem familiar but you cannot recall their names or focus on their faces when you try. They seem to be telling you something but you don't hear words. They spit at you and make a sign against evil. You pick up a piece of wood and there are runes carved on it. You look at the runes and as you stare the runes enlarge and glow. You can only see the runes and you fall or are absorbed by them. You awake in a forest, there is a pool. A woman looks at you and you feel movement. A snake comes out of your mouth and talks to the woman. She nods and gives the snake some bread dipped in honey. The snake crawls back into your mouth and you feel it move against your skull… You are moving again, flying through the air. flying south past forests and a settlement on a hill, past a forest, past your village and into your hut… You open your eyes. Your body is weak and sore. It’s difficult to move. You have bruises and cuts over your body.. a healed arrow wound in your chest Panting and exhausted they looked to Stithwulf to understand what they had seen but he just shook his head and said he had no power to interpret what had happened. What you have seen may be from the past, the present or the future. If it is the future you will know what it means when it happens. He took the largest of Osberht's silver arm rings as payment.
    1 point
  30. The huge raven alighted on the branch that buckled under her weight. The object of her attention was a man leading a horse through the forest at the edge of the lake. The raven was ravenously hungry, anticipating a feast of eyes, tongue and liver when the Rusalka was finished with him. The thought of the Rusalka made the raven nervous. She shifted on the branch making the man with the horse look up suddenly. "Stop following me, bird," shouted the man, breaking the silence. He looked around for something convenient to throw at the raven but unable to find anything but contented himself with muttering some curses. "The gods have forsaken this land. There are no animals or people anywhere.," he mumbled, “except for that demon pretending to be a raven.” The raven looked at him curiously, paying a bit more attention to her prospective meal. She could hear other being’s thoughts if she concentrated although she seldom did so much these days. Sometimes in the past she had been more curious about people. She often had flashes of a different life but when it happened it made her uneasy. The best way to get rid of those intrusions was by hunting and eating. The past was the past. The present was what mattered. The raven focused her attention on where she thought the Rusalka would be. When it started singing she had better get out of hearing. She would come back for the meal when the Rusalka had finished with whatever it wanted with the man. The two predators had worked together from last Spring and the raven saw no benefit in becoming one of the Rusalka's victims. The unlikely partnership was what had allowed the raven to stop the endless searching. She had forgotten what she was searching for which made it hard to find whatever it was. The raven croaked in what might have been a laugh if her vocal chords could have made the sound. Maybe partnership was the wrong concept, the Rusalka was unlikely to enter any sort of partnership, she was the most powerful predator in this region. But Autumn was here and with food becoming scarce she might have to resume her endless flight. The Rusalka seemed to be getting sleepier as the colder days arrived and was less active. That meant less food and more active hunting for her. The raven turned her attention back to the man. The horse he led was lame and both seemed wet, hungry and exhausted from the recent incessant rains. It was unusual to see people travel in late Autumn. The man must have a pressing need. The raven listened to the man. Perhaps with her acute hearing she could hear sub-vocalisations or perhaps she could hear his thoughts. She never really was interested to find out which. The man was thinking of his wife and three daughters. He was calling them over as he pictured himself sitting in a comfortable seat beside a fire. He was explaining to them that the Boyar had asked him to take a message to the Prince of Kiev and that it could not wait for Spring. His words or thoughts changed and seemed to move to the present. He was telling his wife that he missed her and feared he would not return. She needed to look after the girls and make sure that Boyar Yaromir found them good husbands. He cursed Yaromir and wished him all manner of unpleasantries. In the middle of his monologue he slipped and fell, twisting his ankle on an exposed tree root. He cursed the gods, cursed the marshes, cursed the lakes and in particular, cursed tree roots. What I need he said out loud is Baba Yaga's hut. His thoughts and words were interrupted by singing. The raven started, stretched her wings and flew off. She did not want to be caught by that beautiful, unearthly song. Her brain was fogged by images of wellness and desire. She had only to find the source of the song and she would have anything she desired. But the Rusalka lied. She always lied. The only reward for anyone who believed the song was a watery death. From a safe distance she watched the man drop the horse’s reins and swollen ankle forgotten, move at almost a run towards the source of the sounds. A short time later the music stopped and then an ethereal shout of ‘Elena’ echoed through the empty woods rising to a crescendo and then fading like the wind in the empty night. The raven knew it was time to eat. She soared over the cold, deep lake, quickly spotting the body. Landing beside it, she chased off several other scavengers who wanted the fresh meat. They all gave way to the outsized Raven. She started with the eyes, the juiciest parts and would finish with the liver. She was interrupted by a bear but it backed off. The raven ruffled her feathers, proud that she was powerful enough to scare a bear only to be quickly corrected in her assumption. "I am curious," said the voice behind her. The raven shifted position to look at the Rusalka sitting on a rock observing her. “I am curious about a raven that is not a raven," said the Rusalka. "So am l," said the Raven." but I can't help you with the answer." "Do you get sleepy too in the winter? I find I grow very sleepy in winter and my memories fade. In Spring I awaken refreshed and remember who I am, who I was" "Not at all, this is not similar for me” answered the raven, "and l have always been a raven.” "But that is not what I see," said the Rusalka smiling," I think l was once a woman, who was warm and loved. Maybe I loved too much. But the memories are dim. I think you also were a woman, but did not love like I did." The Raven looked anxiously around, judging if she could escape the Rusalka. "Fear not!' said the grinning Rusalka, "I am sated and warm after I fed on your meat’s soul, I will not harm you. I can see you were once something else. Have you been ensorcelled?" "I have always been a Raven. I do not recall any other existence but there are sometimes dreams." The Rusalka seemed to lose interest in the conversation. She began to look around. The raven became wary. "Maybe you would like me to sing for you," said the Rusalka. The Raven did not wait to reply. She stretched her wings and flew. Her flight was followed by the sound of soft laughter.
    1 point
  31. The rain began to fall heavier again as left the cottage behind, re-crossed the Rubicon River and made their way to the Green Man Gorge. Darkon, who had the map, struggled to keep them on course and they got frequently lost. Arguments about directions, whose turn it was to cook, clean the dishes and feed Stove got worse as the days went on. They were generally soaked with the rain, cold from the wind, tired because they hadn't slept and hungry because they struggled to light fires. Things didn't improve when they discovered some sort of beetle had got into the hardtack and none of them dared to eat it. Eventually they found a river that might be the Green Man River and following it. According to the map might get them to the Gorge. By the third day of travel, the land on either side of the river began to climb. They had not seen any signs of habitation but were desperate for somewhere to dry off. Rust started to spot their weapons and equipment felt twice as heavy as it was soaked through. Not for the first time they thought 100 silver was too little for all this suffering. Maybe they needed to renegotiate it with the Fatman. By midday of the fourth day they stood at the entrance to Green Man Gorge. The wind howled in their faces and it looked as if there might be a thunderstorm soon. The hair on their necks stood on end and their nerves jangled. "Let’s find a campsite that we can defend, I don't like the feeling here, hemmed in by all this rock," said Darkon. "Is there a Green Man in this gorge?" asked Egil, clutching his spear and nervously. "How should I know" answered Darken," Never been here before, and the map has no attached tourist information. It might have been useful to pay the extra 2sp for the guide. Hindsight is wonderful. ” "I heard some merchants talk about a Green Man they met who was four metres tall and demanded a toll for allowing them to pass. If they wouldn't pay the toll or didn't have it he demanded a head," said Graphen is a whisper. Quietly they picked their way through the gorge trying to keep to the bushes that lined the path. After an hour the rain stopped and the wind died down. A thin mist seemed to rise from the ground getting thicker as they trudged on. After half an hour it had risen to their knees and obscured the ground making walking at any speed tricky. "We need somewhere to camp for the night. I really don't like this fog" said Egil. "It’s not a fog, it’s a mist." said Graphen. "A fog comes down. A mist comes from the ground." "No, it’s definitely a fog" said a voice, "and my advice is find higher ground, and quickly." All three stopped and looked around. They couldn't see anyone or anything through the fog. "Fog is thicker than mist," said the voice, "and reduces visibility." "Who are you? “ asked Darkon," or even where are you?" All three were back to back with weapons drawn, staring her into the thickening fog. Stove had been left outside the defensive ring and was using his considerable intellect to curse all three, He would have turned and bolted back the way they had travelled if his reins had not been caught by a small wrinkled man who smelt like elderberries. The wrinkled man coughed politely waited for the three companions to notice him. "My name is Rooskin and I couldn’t help but correct your mistake about the mist. I also thought I should stop your excellent donkey from bolting. Can I be of service?" It’s a well-known fact that people who adventure in the Wilds often make mistakes about who to trust. This was indeed the subject of the plenary session of the 12th Symposium of the Adventurer’s Guild, but sadly, it did not draw any conclusions but did set up a committee that is yet to report back. If there is, for example, a sequence of good creature, bad creature, helpful creature, good, bad, helpful etc. and the adventurers get the sequence wrong then they are always going to make the wrong decisions. This was the case with Rooskin. He was one of the helpful creatures who spent his life dong good deeds much as making shoes for poor Cobblers, turning water into wine, giving sweet almonds to young children and specifically helping people get through the Green Man Gorge. He was also Chair of the Orphans and Waifs Holiday Fund, but that as they say, is another tale. Our three companions, however, chose to believe he was a demon sent to waylay them and therefore jumped him, tied + gagged him and threatened bodily harm up to and including chopping appendages off if Rooskin didn't tell them if he had any gold, any food and how to get out of this fog. Despite the rather rough treatment and the threats to his physical integrity, Rooskin was one of the good folk and had forgiven the three men putting it down to anxiety + possibly the fact he had surprised them. However unable to persuade them he didn't need gold therefore didn't have any and he had no dwelling nearby, he began to grow annoyed. Egil also lost patience with the small wrinkly person, not believing for an instance he didn’t have a pot of gold hidden under a bush somewhere and tossed him on the packages on Stove's back. "We can keep him with us as a hostage." said Egil. "If any of his fellows try to attack us we can threaten to harm him. That should keep us safe and what’s more, I’m sure he has gold somewhere. Creatures of his ilk always do.” The group moved on slowly and after 10 minutes the fog appeared to be getting thinner to the point they could eventually see the ground again. It took them a while to realise they were on a mound and rather than the fog disappearing they were actually on an island in a sea of fog. In the centre of the island was a huge stone that looked as if some ancients had carved a face on it. It was difficult to say what the carving represented as it was so weathered. "We’ll stay here for the night," said Darkon," Egil, light a fire and let’s get some hot food. In the morning we can take stock of where we are.” Rooskin struggled in his bonds and make odd nooses. The three men gathered around him. "What’s he doing?" said Graphen "I think he's casting some form of hex" said Egil," I've seen this kind of thing before.” "Maybe he's trying to tell in something" said Darkon. After some discussion they agreed that the strange wrinkled man was trying to cast a spell on them and they stuffed more rags in his mouth and made sure the ropes were tight. Stove watched the scene unfold. He was certain the wrinkly man had said don't light a fire on the mound at the dark of the moon. Stove turned his head to see Egil's fire spring to life.
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  32. I am loving this system, and so felt it was time to go back to my roots and create a new "How to get into" mini series, this time focusing on the unique and awesome system/game/setting RQ:G
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  33. General top 5 for all role-playing games. As always I stress the importance of tying everything to the unfolding narrative, but also express the opinion that most puzzles actually are drags and must be used with caution.
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  34. We go over what goes into making spells, and how much they differ from most other spell systems.
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  35. In this video, you shall see the pros and cons of each system. Thank you for all the awesome support, we're almost at 100 subscribers:)
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  36. Here is the recap for our last two sessions. The first one ended up being very short so I decided to lump them together. Previously, the heroes had learned that their neighbors, the Wozer clan, were having trouble with bandits in the Yellow Hills, particularly those led by Angtyr of the Horn, former king of the Balkoth Tribe and Lunar stooge. Egajia, in the name of restoring spiritual balance to the Yellow Hills and neighboring communities, convinced the other PC's to find this man and bring him to justice. The Wozer chieftain specifically requested that Egajia bring him Angtyr's enchanted horn as proof of his capture. To simulate the party's overland exploration of the Yellow Hills, I tried experimenting with a map-making program called Hex Kit, which I picked up in a Bundle of Holding. It allows you to draw a hex map, and then (if you have more than one screen) present a fog of war map to the players. It worked fairly well, but we had so little time for both of our recent sessions (each less than 3 hours) that we didn't do as much random exploration as I planned for. Anyway, here's a simple map I made of the Yellow Hills. The landmarks, towns and villages are mostly taken from the Hearts in Glorantha article by Stuart Mousir-Harrison. Each hex is meant to represent a mile, which makes it not quite consistent with the AAA maps, or accurate in general. Balkoth country covers the hills, the northern edge of Dundealos Valley, and the area south of Swenstown. Last time, the PC's were traveling from Wozer's Redoubt to Darrold's Hold, in search of a bandit with possible connections to Angtyr. They were ambushed by more bandits on the way, but managed to kill or drive off their attackers. They captured one of these, who failed to escape on her flying horse. Although she initially proved reluctant to talk, Egajia successfully intimidated her after an augment of the Death rune, which she is very strong in. The bandit, whose name was Zavia, proved easy enough to interrogate. She was convinced that her brother Destor, the leader of their band, would suspect her of treachery one way or another, and try to kill her. She agreed to share info on Angtyr and her gang if the party let her go afterwards. They agreed, so she spilled the beans. She told them the following- She and her brother had been raiding caravans for years during the Lunar Occupation. After the Dragonrise, Angtyr of the Horn was driven out of Harnafal's Rest by Orkarl Windstorm, and went bandit. Orkarl became the new king of the Balkoth. Angtyr took control of the bandit gangs and families of the Yellow Hills, and started raiding his own former subjects. Any bandits who resisted his takeover were killed or driven away. Angtyr is always on the move, and Zavia and her brother rarely speak with him face to face. Instead he sends messages to his lieutenants, who run their own gangs. Her brother Destor is one such lieutenant, along with an Impala Rider called Naveed, and a Telmori woman. She said these other two raided caravans near Swenstown, and near the forest at the heart of the hills respectively. Angtyr is personally very dangerous. He was a priest of the Gerendetho cult in the Yellow Hills, and still has access to powerful magic, including the ability to summon rock slides. When the interrogation ended, the PC's let Zavia go. She headed off in the direction of Prax, with the look of a person who hadn't yet escaped her death. Darrold's Hold Later in the day, the party arrived at Darrold's Hold. This was the traditional home and tula of the Daldari clan. They, the Wozer, and the nearby Untralos clan had stayed rebellious against the Lunars during the occupation, unlike the Penbal and Fimburos clans. After the Dragonrise, the former king of the Balkoth, Orkarl Windstorm, had returned from exile in Prax to reclaim his position. He set up court in Darrold's Hold, rather than the traditional tribal capitol of Harnafal's Rest. Upon arriving the party rendezvoused with Erindros, who had returned from business in Swenstown. Darrold's Hold is a stout hill fort with stone walls, built to withstand Praxian raids. There was a market outside the fort, and before speaking with King Orkarl, the PC's decided to listen for rumors or signs of bandits nearby. Egajia noticed one man standing out at the market place, due to his strange aura, which resembled red flames. He had a bushy red beard with singed tips, and wild hair. He was festooned with garlands of dried peppers and spirit charms. She also noticed he had a fetch, appearing as a small ball of flame. He introduced himself as Old Man Pepper, local shaman and seller of "invigorating herbal remedies." He claimed to be an expert on the nearby hills and woods, having lived rough outdoors for many years. Egajia asked him if he knew of any strange spiritual happenings nearby. He claimed that the local hunting spirit in the Smallwood to the north had been driven out of it's range. He had seen wolf spirits roaming the hills where none had been before, and heard rumors of Telmori attacking the goat herds. After asking if the PC's were hunting Telmori, he suggested that finding the lost hunter spirit would help in their search. He said the spirit resembled a giant saber-toothed cat (a sakkar). Egajia thanked him, and the party all purchased some hot pepper charms. These supposedly granted the ability to breath fire, although they had to be eaten, and thus only worked once. Next the heroes visited King Orkarl. They were granted an audience thanks to the Wozer guide, Hiark, who introduced them as emissaries of chieftain Orvengar. Orkarl was a fierce old warrior, who was suspicious of Dundealos emissaries at first. His thanes even more so. Egajia explained that they were operating independently of their clan and tribe, and wished to help the Balkoth hunt down their most notorious bandit. Orkarl's thanes reacted with shouts and disdain, demanding to know why the glory of finding and killing Angtyr should be given to Dundealos warriors. First Egajia sang the party's hit song about Angtyr that they had introduced in the Wozer village. It left the crowd laughing as it had the last time. Then Egajia explained that while Angtyr had betrayed and humiliated his people, he should not be given the status of a feared enemy. Rather he should be treated as a coward for hiding in the hills and stealing from his own people. Secondly, she and her comrades had no wish to steal anyone's glory. They only wanted to help build peace between her clan and their neighbors, and as skilled trackers (somewhat exaggerated) and deadly fighters (more accurate) they were in a good position to help. Orkarl was convinced, and offered the cooperation of his household warriors in hunting Angtyr. But he also explained that bringing the bandit in needed to be a joint effort, and he expected Egajia to report to him anything that the party learned. Egajia and the others agreed to this. The PC's then conferred about whether to stay in Darrold's Hold and look for the bandit Destor, or go deeper into the hills to follow leads on the Telmori. They went with the latter option, and set out north. Wolves and Smilodons Travelling for several hours, they met some friendly goat herders, who shared an odd rumor. Many herders had seen individual goats from their herds walking in a straight line out to the hills, then disappearing. No one knew where they went, or why they would walk off with such fixed determination. Occasionally these goats would be found later, dozens of miles away in a different clan's herd. Some suspected trickster magic. As the day went on, the hills gave way to a small valley filled with pine forest. This was the Smallwood shown on the map. Egajia did some cursory scouting with her fetch, but did not notice any major threats, spiritual or physical. Night was beginning to fall, so she decided that the time was right to go on a journey to the Spirit World to find the Saber-tooth Spirit. HWSAD was able to locate a rocky overhang that provided shelter, and some defense if necessary. Egajia performed the ritual of discorporation, and left her fetch, and her companions, guarding her body. It should be mentioned that we didn't have Garkar for the first session. We explained his absence by deciding it was Orlanth's seasonal holy day, so he had to stay behind at Rooster Stead. Thus, it was just Erindros and He Who Spits physically guarding Egajia. After about an hour, HWSAD's Chaos sense started tingling. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this in previous recaps, but HWSAD's Sense Chaos ability manifests as a pain in the back of his neck, a la Berserk. He and Erindros prepared for trouble, and soon a shadowy figure appeared in the trees. I showed the players the picture of the Telmori from the Bestiary (who looks a lot like Kurt Cobain!). He was accompanied by another hunter in the shadows, and two very large wolves. The first one approached and warned HWSAD that they were trespassing on the Wolfbrothers' hunting range. He Who Spits tried and failed an Intimidate roll to run them off, and he was met with thrown javelins. Thus began a fairly one-sided battle as the Telmori hunters got more than they bargained for. We ended our first session here, and then picked it up a week later with the werewolf fight, and Egajia's spirit journey. She successfully used Spirit Travel to locate the Sakkar Spirit. It wasn't far from where she started. She left the forest, and flew towards the hills. She found the spirit being chased by a pack of wolf spirits, nearly a dozen. The sakkar was huge, the size of a horse, and covered in glowing runes. But Egajia could see through her Second Sight that it was in a severely weakened state. After casting a powerful Spirit Screen, she charged right into the pack of wolf spirits, and engaged one of them in spirit combat, hoping to frighten the others. Unfortunately, she couldn't best it, and the pack soon surrounded her, taking turns in trying to overwhelm her soul. On the second round, she managed to roll a critical, and tore one of the spirits apart. The wolves momentarily withdrew in fear, and she used the reprieve to try communicating with the sakkar. She then failed her Spirit speech roll, although it wasn't a fumble. The sakkar did not attack her, but instead fled. It jumped into the sky, and began leaping from cloud to cloud. She had to use Spirit Travel again to keep up. The spirit wolves ran after them (flew after them?). Meanwhile, back in the world of flesh, the Telmori cast their eerie spells of transformation. They began to sprout fur, and take on more bestial features. Their teeth and ears elongated, their eyes became the yellow color of a wolf's. This was just from a casting of Wolfhide. The first Telmori charged, along with the two dire wolves, while the other threw javelins. HWSAD remembered that Gbaji's curse allowed the wolf-men to shrug off normal weapon attacks, so he whipped out one of the magical hot peppers. After chewing it, he immediately noticed certain side effects of the enchantment that the shaman had neglected to mention. His mouth was literally on fire at first, and he took 1 hp of damage to total hit points. But then the pepper worked as advertised, and a cone of white hot flame shot from his mouth, enveloping the Telmori brave and his wolf. They survived the blast, but were badly burned. Garkar (whose player returned for the second session) was tracking his allies through the woods to their campsite, where he saw the unfolding combat. He decided not to waste any time, and made a dramatic entrance by firing a lightning bolt at the first Telmori. It struck his leg with a crack of thunder, and he fell to the ground crippled. Erindros' player decided to roleplay his character's general ignorance and simply attack the other Telmori with his axe, to no effect. The tide was turning against the wolf-men quickly, and they made ready to flee. Egajia found herself swimming through the sky, up into the bottom of a black lake. She could still see the Saber-tooth spirit above her, and chased it up through the surface, onto a sandy shore in a forest. She knew the wolves were following as well, so she tried to talk with the spirit again, but failed a second time. The wolves came charging out of the water and swarmed her again, but she rolled well this time when defending herself. She blasted apart another two wolves in spirit combat, and again the pack withdrew, frightened. Looking at the sakkar in it's weakened state, she realized it might be easier just to subdue it. She grabbed it by the tusks and started to wrestle it. She was forced to do this and fend off wolves at the same time, and the sakkar proved to be a tough opponent in spite of it's depleted POW. After taking a few big hits in spirit combat, she managed to defeat it. It's spiritual body became hazy and amorphous. She turned it into a kitten (a symbolic defeat), and tucked it into her pouch. As the wolves began to renew their assault, she used Spirit Dance to make her escape. HWSAD had to fend off attacks from both of the wolves at once, but managed to cripple one with a swing of the maul. The fight had yet to turn truly deadly, when Egajia returned to her body. She fired off several Sleep spells, and soon had the Telmori and their wolves subdued. Garkar succeeded in a Lore roll to remember certain details about the Telmori and their customs. He remembered that they valued the lives of their wolves and treated them as family members. He advised not killing the wolves, and so they were trussed up along with their humans. Garkar graciously healed their wounds so they weren't crippled an longer. While they slept, Egajia bound the sakkar spirit in her fetch, and cast Visibility on it. She then woke up the Telmori, thinking they would already be intimidated upon seeing the saber-toothed cat. She was correct in her calculations, and the two wolf-men admitted to being in league with Angtyr of the Horn. They said that they (both brothers) and their sister Ashara had been driven south from Telmori country after a raid from the Cinsina Tribe had killed many of their family. They joined with Angtyr when he promised them protection. Erindros asked if their sister would take them back for ransom, and they said she would track them down sooner or later. The party decided to pass the night in the forest with their captives. The Telmori voiced their appreciation that they had spared their wolf brothers and healed their wounds. He Who Spits, who was initially prepared to cook the wolves in front of the Telmori, softened up on them a little in spite of their stench of Chaos. Egajia spoke with the sakkar spirit. The Telmori had already found them obviously, so the spirit was seemingly no longer useful. But she then learned that it was Angtyr himself who infected the sakkar with a soul disease, diminishing it's power. It claimed that it could help Egajia track down Angtyr, as it knew his scent. It could smell him within a kilometer. It also knew some useful spells, and had the ability to possess someone and change their shape. She decided to keep it bound for the time being, but as an object of local worship for hunters in the Yellow Hills, she planned to eventually heal it and set it free. The night otherwise passed uneventfully. Follow the Goat In the morning, everyone heard a strange bird call, and the Telmori called back in response. A woman appeared, dressed and tattooed the same as the other two, with her own wolf at her side. She harangued her two idiot brothers for getting captured, and then asked the party what their terms were for ransom. Erindros asked only that she help them find Angtyr of the Horn. She agreed, saying their alliance was one of convenience, and nothing more. She performed a strange ritual, drawing a rune resembling a goat in the dirt and whispering chants. She then instructed everyone to hide. After about an hour, an actual goat appeared out of the bushes. It stood still in front of her, not moving. She told it to give Angtyr a message, saying that Orkarl Windstorm was closing in on him, and he would have to move camps again within the next few days. After it left, she simply said, "follow the goat." She then left with her brothers. Instead of following the goat directly, Egajia sent the sakkar spirit after it. Everyone else stayed about a mile back from it. The goat walked in a straight line for a few miles, and eventually climbed down into another valley. This particular valley (the Balkoth call them "cuts"), was rocky and bleak, with more Praxian vegetation. He Who Spits sensed the lingering taint of Chaos on the place, although he didn't detect any specific entities. The goat wandered on towards a series of well-hidden caves. As soon as the sakkar spirit could smell Angtyr of the Horn (who smelled like goat of course), Egajia called it back, fearing any possible defenses he might have at his camp. The party then planned to return to King Orkarl, and inform him that they had found their quarry. We ended the second session there. I had originally hoped that the party would be able to confront Angtyr before we all took a break for the holidays, but alas, it was not to be. So next time, the heroes will finally take on the Goat King! Thanks for reading!
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  37. We started up our campaign again last night, after a month-long hiatus. It was good to be back in the GM saddle! We left off last time with a successful sojourn into the Big Rubble. The party acquired a valuable set of enchanted armor, originally worn by their tribe's greatest hero, Derik Pol-Joni. Additionally, Argrath had entrusted the PC's with delivering a gift for the king of the Dundealos Tribe: a herd of fine cattle, horses, and even ostriches. The PC's set off west on the Pavis Road, which would take them back to Sartar. Everyone made a concerted effort to finish up their business in Pavis before the end of Sea Season. I had given the players several warnings about Fire Season being the prime time for Praxians to hit caravans, so I didn't want to punish them for listening to me! Thus, the journey back to Sartar was blissfully uneventful. The party was accompanied by a dozen or so Pol-Joni who drove the herds for them. They passed by the Obscure Plinth, Jaldon's Rest, and after about a week of travel re-entered Sartar in the forested hills of Telmori Country. Everyone was on their guard against werewolves, but the Pol-Joni assured them that they were still licking their wounds after being thrashed by the Cinsina Tribe several years back. They passed on to Dangerford, then went south through Jonstown and Boldhome. From there they continued to Fort Jaldonkill, the de facto capitol of the tribe. The fort didn't look like much at first, being a handful of steads and small temples, surrounded by a wooden stockade. It's claim to fame wasn't that it was impregnable, but that Derik Pol-Joni had finally defeated Jaldon Goldentooth there in the time before Sartar was founded. The king of the tribe was Ekil Blackmane, more commonly known as just Blackmane. He had brought many of his Pol-Joni kin to resettle Dundealos Valley after the Dragonrise, along with the remnants of the old clans. Blackmane is a man in his forties, with distinctive long coal-black hair and beard. I decided the "Pol-Joni Look" for men is long, un-braided hair, trousers made of hide, and the usual Orlanthi tattoos. The PC's wanted to impress him, but their "social skills" are somewhat weak. Egajia decided to make an entrance with a dance, and she also summoned a Pol-Joni ancestor spirit, a female warrior. The spirit was made visible to everyone else in the king's hall, and introduced the PC's as "heroes of the Bardori Clan." Egajia succeeded so well with her Dance and spell rolls, that Blackmane was immediately impressed. He rose from his throne (an ornate milking stool) and danced with the spirit with wild abandon. He then welcomed the PC's with embraces. Blackmane was pleased with the gifts of cattle and horses. It was agreed that the small herd of ostriches would make an ideal gift for the bird-loving Bardori clan. Notably, the PC's avoided mentioning that they had recovered Pol-Joni's armor. Instead they planned to gift it to Angarr, their chieftain. I hinted that there might be later consequences for this choice, but my players firmly made their decision. Blackmane was also immensely curious as to why Argrath White Bull was sending gifts to him and other tribal leaders in the first place. The party mentioned the hordes of Praxians (and Pol-Joni) gathered in Pavis. Before everyone left, He Who Spits at the Devil met with one of the tribal ring officers. Ynga the Rock was the Bardori clan's representative on the ring, and also the rep for Urox/Storm Bull. She was described as a massive "Valkyrie-esque" woman of impressive musculature. She mentioned to HWSAD that many warriors of the Bull were gathering together and heading south to Heortland. An army of scorpion-men were flooding out of Larnste's Footprint, and claiming the lands of their clan's ancestors in the name of Chaos. Ynga was heading south as well, and invited her kinsman to join her in the next few seasons. He Who Spits was intrigued, but also wanted to start building his mead hall. The party took their leave of the king, and continued on to the Bardori tula. They brought the ostriches, and several cows with them to present to the chieftain. Everyone got to use the Herd skill for the first time! Even though the PC's were terrible at herding, they successfully drove the cattle and ostriches along the valley without losing any. Angarr welcomed them back with embraces, and they received cheers and applause from the Clan Ring when they presented the exotic herd, and the many goods and treasures from Pavis. Stolf, the clan's Issaries representative, grudgingly praised Erindros and the others for their success. When Egajia presented the armor to Angarr, he grew silent in awe. He then ordered the weaponthanes to bang their shields in praise for the four heroes. Fire Season 1626 The heroes settled in for some off-time, which of course was very busy. HWSAD decided to forge ahead and began building his mead hall (mostly alone). Erindros convinced the chieftain that the clan could make good money if they expanded their ostrich herd. He set about converting part of his family farm into an ostrich pen. Egajia was now free of obligations to her shaman mentor, so she started laying the groundwork for being the clan's shaman. Garkar went back to his patrols. While the party was away on their mission, a few notable events occurred for the clan- A band of broos arrived in the valley and began impregnating herd animals from many different clans. The Bardori lost some cattle and sheep as a result, and now disease has been spreading among animals and people alike. The broos were driven off however. In addition to the broo attack, the clan has been beset with bad omens and strange happenings since Kallyr's failed heroquest. Vultures flying backwards, cows' milk turning sour in the udder, and stillborn calves. A delivery of gifts and silver meant for the allied Hyaling clan was stolen by bandits in the Verge. The Wozer clan of the Balkoth stole some Bardori cattle and escaped back across the river. Several weeks went by. Later in the season, a messenger from the Kheldon tribe arrived, bearing a request on behalf of Kallyr Starbrow. Angarr called the Clan Ring to hear the message. Kallyr was attempting to muster the tribes of Sartar again to meet an attack from Lunar Tarsh. This time the invading army was led by King Pharandros himself. The messenger left to call on other clans to the south and east. The Clan Ring discussed the possibility of sending warriors north again, as they had done when the Lunars came to Dangerford. Unlike last time, there was much uncertainty and some grumbling about the prospect. Many of the farmers blamed Kallyr for the Chaos incursions, and ill fortune that had befallen the clan. Even the weaponthanes seemed unsure about leaving the tula behind when there were bandits and broos on the loose. The PC's spoke out in support of Kallyr, and for fighting off the Lunars again. This was only after much discussion however, as they all had different priorities at this point. Erindros was interested in retaliating against the Wozer clan, Garkar wanted to hunt bandits, HWSAD wanted to go south and kill scorpion-men, and Egajia wanted to cleanse the tula of disease spirits. Fighting Lunars was the choice everyone had in common. In the end, Egajia stayed behind while the other three rode north to join the Kheldon militia. The Battle of the Queens The tribal armies were gathering at Runegate. The PC's went to Boldhome first to join the Kheldon warriors. The quickest way to Runegate was to travel north to Jonstown, then west along herder's paths. They joined Cinsina and Culbrea infantry along the way. After a journey of three days, they arrived in the lands of the Colymar tribe, and were told that Kallyr and her household warriors were preparing to meet the Tarshites at the bottom of Old Top Hill. The PC's camped there. They caught glimpses at a distance of the various tribal leaders that were present: Queen Leika of the Colymar, Queen Amalda of the Malani, King Ranulf of the Culbrea, and King Farandar of the Cinsina. Previous to this, HWSAD had expressed interest in trying to meet with Kallyr in person. He and the others had heard rumors that she suffered from wounds that would not heal. He proposed that if they could do something to heal her, or at least alleviate her pain, it could help remove the curses and bad fortune plaguing the Dundealos. He decided to wait until after the battle to try getting an audience, thinking that if he distinguished himself in the fighting, it might help... The next morning, the Lunars crossed the Creek over the ford at Two Sisters village. Soon the two armies squared off. The three PC's who had joined the fight saw that the Lunar army was greater in numbers, and a contingent of Lunar magicians had come along as well. Given the choice to hang back in reserve and guard Prince Kallyr, or fight on the front line, everyone chose the latter option. There was little time for glorious duels or challenges in this fight, as the Tarshites marched forward with shields up. Soon Erindros, Garkar, and He Who Spits were caught in the crush of the front line. We handled this battle in rounds, using the Battle skill. I avoided having the PC's fight in normal combat, because Egajia's player was sitting on the sidelines, and I didn't want to draw things out too much. I allowed everyone to cast protective spells if they wanted to. If there wasn't an obvious effect for this, I just let them have a 10% bump in their Battle skill. We went through 3 rounds. Depending on the strength of their rolls, I narrated certain events to make everything a little more exciting. The three PC's had to survive the initial crush. Everything was blood, mud, screams, and the clang of swords on shields. Erindros got a special success on the first roll. We decided he inspired the fighters around him with his bold antics. He was also riding his ostrich, so he was hard to miss. Garkar failed his roll, and nearly had his arm crushed by a heavily armored Tarshite. HWSAD started plowing through the enemy ranks in an attempt to disrupt the mages behind the line. Overall, the Sartarites were pushed back towards the base of the hill, and began to falter. Erindros and Garkar rolled well, HWSAD did not. Garkar freed himself from the enemy soldier by stabbing him through the foot. HWSAD was pig-piled by infantrymen, and wounded in the arm with a sword thrust. Rather than give up his ability to fight with his enormous maul, he called on Storm Bull to fill him with the holy rage. At the end of this round, there was a bright flash. Far up on the hill, everyone saw a group of strangely dressed warriors (some of them looked like trolls) suddenly surrounding Prince Kallyr. She and her guards fought them off for as long as she could, but it wasn't long before everyone heard cries of "Kallyr has fallen!" Some of the Sartarites began to lose heart and flee. Erindros (who should have been a Trickster) casts Flight on himself and He Who Spits while he is in berserk mode. The two of them attempt to reach the sorcerers behind enemy lines and disrupt their spells. At this point, said sorcerers have summoned Moonfire, which trickles down onto the Sartarites in glowing threads from the Red Moon. It does not make for easy flying. Erindros attempts to rally those Sartarites fleeing the battle, and does so successfully. Garkar, hanging back, is confronted by an elite soldier, well-armored and wielding a scimitar. He fights for his life. After the third round, Queen Leika rallies her own warriors, and leads a desperate charge into the heart of the Lunar battalions. Her ferocity and the strength of her magic are so great, that she manages to turn the tide of the battle. When her charge cuts off the escape route across the ford, the Lunar soldiers panic and begin fleeing into the Creek. The players participating in the battle were given the choice of joining Queen Leika in pursuing the Lunars. They all chose to do so (HWSAD didn't have a choice actually, he was still berserk). Erindros and Garkar cut down many more soldiers as they fled into the rushing waters. HWSAD was struck in the head by a stray slingstone. Were he not already in a bloody, frothing rage, he would have been knocked unconscious and probably drowned. The pursuit of the Lunars into the wilderness continued into the night, and on into the next day. The three Bardori men did not join in for this part, and retired to Two Sisters village. Kallyr Starbrow's body was guarded by the Colymar warriors, as all of her household guards had been killed. When Queen Leika returned the next day, the PC's witnessed her riding back to Boldhome, with Kallyr's body carried behind her on a bier. Sartar no longer had a Prince... Thank you for reading! Next time, we will continue adventuring in Fire Season.
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  38. Our last session was a short one, partly because HWSAD had to bow out for the evening. Still, we covered many exciting events, and the party finally arrived in Pavis. Leaving the Paps There were still a few loose ends to tie up at the Paps, including worship rolls and a traditional celebration for Egajia. Erindros also decided to buy some copper to sell in Pavis. When all this was taken care of, Mok bade farewell to his protege, and wished the rest of the party well. The caravan then set off again for the dusty plains. The plan was to take a day for travelling around Eiritha's Sacred Hills, as no-one wanted to offend any devout Praxian khans just for the sake of taking a shortcut. The party then crossed the Long Dry over a period of roughly four days. Everyone loaded up the mules with extra water and rations, and because it was still Sea Season, the weather was only slightly blistering. Our heroes reached the Zola Fel River Valley after another day, and stopped to rest at a small farming village with an inn. The next day they reached the famous city of Pavis! New Pavis Given that information about New Pavis in 1625 is somewhat lacking, I had to add a few details of my own. I decided that the biggest visible difference is that the walls around the South Gate have been pulverized, and what was once the Farmer's Quarter has now effectively become the Nomad's Quarter. The tight streets and alleyways of the city have become even more cramped with Praxian herd beasts and nomad warriors strutting around as they please. Several large nomad camps also cluster along the southern side of the walls. This was the direction that the caravan entered, and thankfully no-one gave them any trouble. Argrath, the "King of Pavis," had occupied the Count's Palace for his court (I wasn't sure if it was there or the Temple of Pavis, but the former was more convenient, for reasons which will eventually be made clear). He Who Spits at the Devil decided to stay at the temple of Storm Bull, and drink himself into a stupor for the next few days (this is how we explained his player's absence). Erindros set up his market stall in Founder's Market, and stored the caravan's goods near the temple of Issaries with the baboons to guard them. Garkar and Egajia were both present at the liberation of Pavis, and had spent some time there before their exile. They both recommended staying at Gimpy's for the good food, reasonable rates, and fine entertainment. Many of those already staying at the inn were warriors from Sartar, looking to join up with Argrath's army. They passed the night uneventfully in a shared room. The next morning in the common room, Garkar saw a familiar face. In his days as a bandit in Sartar, he had often crossed paths with Orstalor Spearlord, one of the most prominent rebels during the occupation. Orstalor and his band, Miki's Mudhens (mentioned in the Coming Storm) raided the empire in the northern parts of the kingdom, and Garkar aided them on several occasions. The former rebel had now joined Argrath's band of heroes and was helping to organize his army. Just as a note, I wasn't sure if this particular NPC had even joined up with Argrath yet. Looking back on it, it almost seems more likely that this would have happened after the Battle of Sword Hill, but out of all the Sartarites connected to Argrath, Orstalor seemed to be the most likely person that any of the PC's would have met previously. Orstalor told everyone that word had gotten back to the King that a caravan from the Dundealos Tribe had come to the city. As a representative pf Argrath, he hoped to offer gifts to the king of their tribe, and asked Erindros if he would be willing to see these gifts safely back to Fort Jaldonkill. He offered goods, silver, and a herd of 50 cows, 20 horses, and for the bird-loving Bardori clan specifically, 10 rare riding ostriches! Erindros was trained in ostrich riding, but so far had failed to find a proper steed in any Sartar market. Thus he was thrilled by this offer. Still, he and the others were somewhat suspicious at Argrath's generosity, and questioned Orstalor as to why he sought the favor of the tribe. Orstalor said only that the King was looking to build alliances and encourage more trade with Sartar, and that he had sent gifts to many tribes already. When asked about the many warriors, nomads, and adventurers gathering in Pavis, Orstalor said that the city couldn't support them for long, and that he would be "back in his old stomping grounds soon enough." Everyone found this a bit disturbing. Before he left, Orstalor also shared a rumor that he thought the party would find interesting. During the city's occupation, the Lunars had supposedly gotten their hands on a suit of iron armor that belonged to none other than Derik Pol-Joni, the Dundealos Tribe's greatest hero. After Pavis was liberated however, the armor went missing from the vaults at the Count's Palace. Not long after that, a group of dwarfs from the city's Flintnail cult presented Argrath with another, entirely different suit of armor as a gift. Orstalor pointed out that dwarfs rarely give gifts to anyone, and when they do it is often more than simple generosity. He suggested they speak with the leader of the dwarfs, Ginkizzie, at Dwarftown, about the missing armor. Finding it and presenting it to the Dundealos tribal ring would be even more impressive than showing up with lots of cows. Dwarf Problems For the rest of that day, Erindros sold many of the goods he had purchased in Sartar and Prax at a decent profit. Egajia went among the Pol-Joni camp outside the city, and offered her shaman skills to help fight off disease spirits infecting the camp. Later everyone went to Dwarftown to speak with Ginkizzie. Speaking with any of the local dwarfs proved difficult, as they were all very caught up in their routines. Speaking with head dwarf seemed impossible, until Erindros mentioned that someone from Argrath's band had sent them. After that, Ginkizzie appeared at the front office within minutes. None of the PC's (or the players) knew about Ginkizzie's unusual heritage, but it was clear that he looked a bit different from the other dwarfs. His features were more human-like and symmetrical, and he also had a pale, greenish cast to his skin. Otherwise he dressed like a gold dwarf, ostentatiously. When asked about Pol-Joni's armor, the head dwarf only said that whoever had stolen it from the Lunars' vaults was likely hiding in the Big Rubble, and that they should search for it there. Garkar noticed that their presence and questions were making him uncomfortable, and he pressed the dwarf for more information. Ginkizzie relented, and invited everyone into a private office. He explained that the disappearance of Pol-Joni's armor was because of a local dwarf. Argrath knew this somehow, and so Ginkizzie had offered him a different suit of enchanted armor to placate him. Meanwhile, he and the other members of the Flintnail cult had been searching for the rogue dwarf who stole the original armor. His name was Vorlokk, an iron dwarf and expert blacksmith. Ginkizzie explained that Vorlokk had been acting strangely over the last few seasons. Some dwarfs fall prey to a strange illness, in which they become obsessed with recovering items that they have made and lost (or given away). Vorlokk was the original creator of Pol-Joni's armor, and gave it to him when they met at Dwarf Knoll in Prax, centuries ago. Vorlokk disappeared from Dwarftown not long after Pavis was liberated. Since then, the humans in Manside, and the Loricek troll clan have also been robbed of artifacts that Vorlokk had originally made. Ginkizzie is certain these events are connected to Vorlokk, and now considers him to be an apostate from the Pavis community of dwarfs for his reckless actions. He asked the party if they would be willing to lend their efforts in bringing Vorlokk to justice. In return, they would be allowed to claim the armor for their tribe, but would have to swear that the dwarfs could reclaim the other stolen goods and any dwarf secrets. He also asked that they keep the entire matter a secret from other interested parties. The PC's agreed, and so Ginkizzie introduced them to one of the renowned Rubble Trackers, another iron dwarf named Chain Song. He would assist them in following leads in the Big Rubble. We ended the session with the party debating the best place to start looking in the Big Rubble for Vorlokk and the stolen armor: the human community in Manside, or the trolls of the Loricek clan. That's all, thank you for reading this rather exposition-heavy recap! Until next time!
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  39. Storm Season Postscript There was one important detail I forgot to mention in my last entry. Actually, we forgot to address it in actual gameplay too, so we had to do a flashback of sorts. One of the main reasons Erindros proposed the joint raid on the Sambari clan was to liberate thralls, and then offer them a place in the clan as cottars. Even with the former Enstalos cottars bolstering the population, the Bardori are still at just over half their former numbers before 1618. The party was able to liberate just over 100 thralls in the big raid, they were mainly composed of 3 distinct groups. Sartarites - These were the biggest group, made up of former outlaws and indentures who had fallen into debt. Most of them agreed to join the Bardori clan, and Erindros was able to convince the chieftain this would be a good idea. Praxians - Mostly Impala and Bison Riders. Egajia attempted to convince them they would be welcome in the clan, but I gave her a pretty hefty penalty for her roll, due to the Praxian distrust of the settled lifestyle. All of the Praxians decided to take their chances on the plains, and attempt to find their former clans. Egajia generously gave the group a portion of her loot, to help them purchase new mounts. For this I gave her a free 1% bump in reputation. ??? - The third group were mysterious to the PC's, and no one could figure out where they came from. They spoke a strange dialect of Heortling, and didn't have any identifying marks or tattoos. One of them came forward to explain that his people were purchased by the Rastorlings from the Sun Dome Temple to the west. They called themselves "Ergeshi," and claimed to worship their own gods and ancestor spirits, although none of their past owners had allowed them to worship these. Their spokesman claimed that they had kin in the Holy Country, but that they would not be welcome there, having been isolated from them for generations. Egajia was personally offended that their worship rights had been denied to them, and insisted on offering them a place with the Bardori. The Clan Ring debated whether it was a good idea to let them stay or not, as they were "weird and unsettling," but the issue was allowed to lapse, and they hung around, out of sight and out of mind. Sea Season 1626 - Planning an Expedition Here were the local and major events that occurred in Sea Season - Kallyr Starbrow failed in her Short Lightbringer's Quest, with serious consequences for all of Sartar. Chaos attacks were reputed to be on the rise, and the Prince's position as leader of the kingdom became much more tenuous. The Bardori had cattle and sheep stolen by their immediate neighbors in the Balkoth Tribe, the Wozer clan. Argrath White Bull has been building a new army in Pavis, and gathering more Praxian warriors to his cause. He is rumored to be planning an attack on the Lunar Empire, or their allies. Would-be heroes from many clans have gone to explore the ruins of Fort Enstala, but none have returned. We discussed what the PC's next course of action would be. Erindros expressed interest in planning a trade expedition, either to Pavis or the Holy Country. Egajia felt ready to attempt her shaman initiation, but was willing to wait until other business took them back into Prax. Garkar was on board with a trade mission. Between Nochet and Pavis, the group decided that going east would be a better idea. Egajia could visit her mentor, and the clan could reestablish old trading links with the their distant kin in Pavis, and among the Pol-Joni. They did some calculations, and decided it would be prudent to ask the clan for a loan for purchasing mules, trade goods, and other equipment. They met with the chieftain and the Inner Ring, and made their case. The Issaries representative on the Ring, Stolf Argin's Son, was the head of a Bardori bloodline which had long controlled the clan's trading interests. His family considered Erindros and close kin to be rivals, and the feeling was mutual. Stolf argued that an expedition to Pavis would be reckless and dangerous, and that the clan should instead work to reestablish regular caravans in Sartar, and expand their influence in Swenstown. Egajia is generally the party spokesperson in these situations (which is funny because she only speaks a little Heortling), and she tried to rouse the Inner Ring's excitement by pitching the journey as an adventure that would be worthy of a clan of heroes. Once again, she fumbled on her roll. Her player explained this by inadvertently putting emphasis on the dangerous aspects of the journey - "Only a clan of true heroes could face the hordes of broos, screaming nomad warriors, cannibals, whirlvishes, dust storms, etc!!!" The chieftain and the Ring refused to give them a single clack. They would have to fund their expedition themselves. They tried to think of a way to quickly get some disposable income. Raiding was out of the question, as most of the clan was involved in sowing the crops. Garkar pointed out that Fort Enstala was rumored to still have piles of silver hidden away somewhere. The party agreed to check out the ruins. Before they did so, another exile arrived in town from Prax. He Who Spits at Chaos Our newest PC, hereafter known as HWSAC or He Who Spits, rode into town and introduced himself to the chieftain. He was boisterously welcomed and offered mead. HWSAC is a follower of Storm Bull, who had spent his exile in Prax riding with a mixed band of Sartarites, Pol-Joni, and Praxians, all Storm Bull cultists. He returned to his kin upon learning of their resettlement. He also harbored ambitions to build a shrine in honor to his god, which would double as a beer hall. He immediately pitched his idea to the chieftain, who responded with hesitancy. Being strapped for cash, and hearing of his other kinfolk going raiding in a potentially Chaos-infested ruin, he asked to join them. They welcomed him along, thinking that his skills could be useful. Fort Enstala The fort was the capitol of the Enstalos Tribe from 1618 to it's recent destruction in 1625, after the Dragonrise. The chieftain, Angarr Broad-Back, was present when the fort was attacked and razed. He met with the PC's before they set off to describe it's layout. The fort itself consisted of a stone tower, with a surrounding village and temple, all encircled by a wooden palisade. He mentioned that Blackmane had allowed the Lunar garrison to evacuate their women, children, and elderly before the attack, but some had insisted on staying. The outer wall was easily breached, but the garrison held out in the tower for days. In the end, someone had lit a fire which consumed part of the structure. The remaining soldiers either fled, or burned to death. None of Blackmane's warriors were able to breach the Temple of the Seven Mothers. It was apparently guarded by a powerful spirit or demon, in addition to more warriors, and so they left it alone. With this information in mind, the party set off. The fort was located in the foothills of the Stormwalk Mountains, and technically lay within Togarth lands. This was a complication, as that clan might decide that any loot within the ruins might belonged rightfully to them (even though they had so far failed to take it). At Angarr's suggestion, the PC's decided they would initially go to the fort in secret, but then offer a portion of any treasure they found to the Togarth chieftain out of respect. They traveled north for a day, through the foothills, and arrived without incident. SEE AWFUL MAP ABOVE - Entering the ruins was simple enough, as the walls had been breached and the main gates destroyed. The former village was in shambles, with most of the longhouses partially burnt down, and overgrown with vines. Nothing of major interest was discovered. The party continued to the fortified tower. Here they found many corpses in various states of decay. Most were in a charred pile near the base. Other bodies were found that were more fresh, appearing to be slain Togarth adventurers. Most curious of all were several dusty skeletons, wearing antique hoplite armor. Erindros recalled various painted urns he had seen depicting Dara Happan soldiers from the First Age, which these seemed to resemble. Before investigating the tower, Egajia used Second Sight to see if she could locate any ghosts or spirits. She was not disappointed. She witnessed dozens of ghosts arrayed around the tower, some of them resembling Sartarite warriors, and others Lunar soldiers. They were locked in combat, and ignored Egajia completely. They appeared to be caught in a loop, reliving their final moments in the battle to capture the tower. The PC's decided they needed to learn more before they could help lay any of these spirits to rest. Within the tower itself, they found more of the odd armored skeletons slumped against the wall. Unlike the ones outside, these were the moving variety, and they attacked. HWSAC proved his combat prowess here, using Berserker and smashing skeletal limbs and heads with his maul. It didn't actually take very long to wipe them out, and Egajia had to use a Sleep spell to put him out of commission, before he turned on his companions. The party left their new Storm Bull friend asleep outside, and continued to explore the tower. Egajia used Detect Enemies to see if any other threats were inside. She felt a malevolent presence on the second floor, and so everyone attempted a stealthy approach going up. Unfortunately, they all had to climb a creaking wooden ladder going up, and everyone failed their roll. The second floor was partially collapsed, and a man watched them from the darkness. He was dressed like a local, either a hunter or else a bandit. Yet he also wore a Lunar officer's plumed helmet and cloak, and had a wild, haggard appearance. He demanded they help defend the tower from "the accursed rebels," and then began asking what regiment they were with. Egajia immediately suspected possession by a ghost or spirit. She used Second Sight to confirm this, and tried casting her Free Ghost spell to remove the possessor. The spell worked, and the man fell unconscious. Soon after another man, who looked to be in even worse shape than the last, called down to the party from the top of the tower. He introduced himself as Bermakt, and claimed to be a hunter who was passing through the area with his companions. One of these was a woman named Yandissa, who was badly wounded at the top of the tower. The other was named Harstar, who was the man possessed by the spirit. Bermakt was otherwise very vague about which clan they came from, or why they were in the ruins in the first place They had been camped near the tower, when they were attacked by the armored skeletons and chased in. Soon after, Harstar began acting strange, and attacked the other two. They managed to climb up to the roof, where they had lain for an entire day. The party offered to heal them and give them supplies. Bermakt warned them that they had seen the skeletons come out of the Seven Mothers Temple, and that a voice had told them to leave when they tried to enter. The PC's did a little more exploring in the tower, and then moved on to the temple. It was a rectangular structure, built of marble. The outer walls were decorated with scenes of the Red Goddess's victories, and a large red globe protruded from the top of the temple. The first room contained a series of small shrines with votive images, devoted to many different Lunar deities. The party was not able to admire them long, as He Who Spits began smashing and defacing them with his maul. Immediately after that, a horrible creature materialized out of thin air. Eight feet tall, four-armed, fanged, and with skin coated in black slime, it introduced itself as the temple's guardian, a demon of the underworld who served the Red Goddess. HWSAC's Chaos sense was tingling, and without any hesitation called on Storm Bull to fill him again with the holy rage. The others stood back and cast magic while the berserker went after the demon. It drove it's claws into his stomach, and raked his arms, but then He Who Spits aimed for the head, and rolled a critical. Overcoming the demon's (very high) armor, he crushed it's head like a rotting pumpkin. The demon, now headless, turned, walked into the altar room, and disappeared. HWSAC gave chase, but it had apparently discorporated. He then set about trying to bring down the temple by smashing it's supporting pillars. Egajia used Detect Enemies to see if the demon was still present. She found that it was, although it's presence seemed to be dispersed throughout the temple. The party was now in the main hall of worship, where there was an altar, and a silver plaque depicting the goddess. The hall was littered with the bodies Enstalos men, women, and children, in an advanced state of decay. Something had brutally killed the people who had fled to the temple for safety. Each adjoining chamber was a smaller shrine to each of the Seven Mothers. Egajia searched each one, using Second Sight. She eventually found the demon in incorporeal form, hiding within the altar to Queen Deezola. She bested it in spirit combat, but even this would not drive it away completely, as it continued to flee to the other shrines. The party decided they needed to loot the place before the demon could reconstitute itself. HWSAC eventually came out of his rage before the building came down. The party went through each room, some of which were trapped with Safe spells. In the dormitories they found an old man, and a young girl dressed as Teelo Norri. The man turned out to be a wraith, mad with grief and rage. Egajia defeated it, and trapped it within a charm she had kept as a family heirloom. The girl was a ghost, but not hostile. She told the party that she had been hiding with her parents in the temple during the attack. The junior priest had called the temple guardian to fight off the Dundealos raiders, but then lost control of it. It turned on everyone inside, killing all her kinfolk. She did not seem to be aware that she had died. Egajia again used the Free Ghost spell to give her rest. The vaults on the upper floor of the temple held silver, trinkets, and valuables including silk and rare books. The PC's took as much as they could carry, and made ready to leave. They noticed as they were prying off the silver plaque, that there was a passageway underneath the altar. Egajia crept down it and used various Detect spells to see if anything dangerous was there. A tunnel ran beneath the temple, into what appeared to be a large barrow. She sensed many beings ahead of her that sounded like the skeletons from before. She raced back up, and tried to block the entryway. Erindros realized that the large globe that hung above them, made of interlocking bronze plates, was suspended with ropes and wedges. He and Garkar cut the ropes, and knocked the globe free (after everyone cleared the area). It fell onto the altar, crushing it, and fully blocked the tunnel entrance. The heroes then ran for it, dragging their many spoils behind them. They determined to come back at some point, and permanently exorcise the place of it's remaining ghosts, and demon(s?). But for now they had what they needed. Behind the Scenes I spent a lot of time planning this adventure, since it was our first dungeon experience. There were a lot of things the players ignored or avoided because they had burned through their resources fairly quickly. These include- The 3-Headed Dragonsnail from the map - I included it just to give the Storm Bull player something to use his abilities on, but he used his spells really quickly on other (non-Chaotic) things, and it didn't seem fair to hit everyone with such a tough monster after that, for no story-related reason. The Priestess' quarters - The former priestess of the temple was the one who bound the demon to serve as a guardian, and she knew of various ways to control it, mostly based on impersonating the Red Goddess. Had the PC's been unable to defeat it, they could have tried some more theatrical solutions. Honestly the demon was pretty tough, he had 15 armor and 15 hp! I just didn't count on that critical hit, and he almost rolled maximum damage to the head. That's the way it goes sometimes (sigh). The possessed guy also had a Seven Mothers "rosary" amulet that they could have used to repel the demon, had they examined it or tried using it. They took it off him, but forgot all about it afterwards. There was also a Trickster NPC that I wrote up who would have acted as a sort of unreliable guide, but we just didn't have enough time in the evening to fit him in. Anyway, next time the party sets off on their big trip to Pavis. Thanks for reading!
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  40. No statistic has been as ill defined from the very beginning of role playing as the Charisma stat. I think this is true for most games. In some ways I imagine it derived from "leadership" scores that many units or generals have in table top war games. I do not know this for sure of course, but I surmise this was the case. No one seemed to use it correctly and at least early on among the games I played it lacked real emphasis in design. When I began playing Runequest and found that the role playing stat had been replaced with an appearance stat and now I could role play however I wanted, I was quite pleased. It held a great deal of appeal to me. To say that many years later when I noted CHA creeping into d100 games, I was a bit baffled.Why was this happening? Why were designers making this choice for a stat no one cared about before anyway. Was it the sudden use in d20 games, which revived CHA as a meaningful stat? Despite my confusion, I was forced to reconsider some kind of stat that encompassed an element of personality and decided that personality was just what I was looking for. In Q21, PER / Personality is an important stat. It is a measure of force of personality and presence of the character. How the character chooses to use this depends on what skills that they choose.Those skills are listed under Communication skills. But what about appearance? On the one hand no one can help the face they are born with and we have to make the most of it. Often a strong personality overcomes societal preferences, but is there something useful in having an actual appearance stat? I do not want to put in a stat to just have one and I want to not be on the fence about it.Right now Q21 does not have any appearance stat and I am not inclined to add it in, even though I have a great deal of nostalgia for it.
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  41. Research is finally complete, to the tune of 183 pages of notes. Well, mostly. Now that I have the basis, I'm going to check out some of the wikis to see if they have anything interesting or unique to add. The synthesis begins. I realized in researching the last book that I was missing the two stories that were the germs of Earthsea, The Word of Unbinding and The Rule of Names, both from Le Guin's short story collection, The Wind's Twelve Quarters, which is basically a sort of retrospective of her first decade of published work. (I happened to have that book as well, primarily because when I find an author that I really like I tend to buy up everything that I can get my hands on that they've ever written.) Unfortunately, they have a much different tone than the Earthsea series, and some of the rules of magic are in flat contradiction to the later books. So I read and discarded them; there's really nothing in there that I find that bears on the setting that isn't already better explained and executed later. This brings me to a question that cropped up while I researched the last few books. While there are things that Le Guin meant to be mysteries from the beginning, there's one issue that nags at me. It has to do with Segoy, the Creator. In the very useful appendix to Tales From Earthsea, where she gives a great deal of background for the world itself, there's a small section relating to Segoy which is as inconclusive as it is unsatisfying (to me). The logic is a bit complex, but bear with me. Let me quote the relevant statements here, interspersed with my own comments. Note: I've omitted page references because of the differences in various editions, using somewhat less specific but indicative ones. So there is no being before Segoy, whether he is a being or not. (I'll use the general pronoun, with the understanding that gender is inconclusive or even inapplicable.) Here we come to multiple ambiguities. If Segoy is an Old Power, he must be the first, since there are no Old Powers of the Earth that aren't connected to one of the islands, unless you count the sea itself, which isn't in the mold of the other Old Powers. I don't find the supposition that Segoy is another name for the Earth particularly compelling either, but it's not germane to the issue I want to deal with. As for 'what is certain,' I don't find it certain at all: If Tehanu calls Kalessin 'Segoy' in the Language of the Making, at best the etymology is the reverse: that the Old Hardic words are a derivation of the name Segoy. Assuming that the familial references are literal, Kalessin, being the son of Orm, cannot possibly be the Segoy, since Segoy was before all beings. This leaves us with the assertion that Segoy is an ancient, respectful nominative, and brings me to my contention: that Segoy is the word for Father in the Language of Making. Segoy is the Creator, the Father of all...and Tehanu calls Kalessin Father because it is literally so. (One wonders how that works out, since Tehanu is one of the 'winged people' and Kalessin is a dragon, but Tehanu's true origin is shrouded in mystery.) The reason I bring this up is that it will definitely appear in the variant...so, does anyone have any counterarguments? Is there some logic I'm missing or that is fallacious, or do you have other interpretations?
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  42. Five books down, only one left to research: The Other Wind. The light approaches. After having increased the margins to make hunting for entries faster (and thus reducing the total number of pages by about 15%), the notes still grew to over 140 pages. Tales From Earthsea has by far the most notes of any of the books. Alright, so why am I doing this research, anyway, if there are numerous wikis out there on Earthsea? Well, I'm glad I asked. Three main reasons: first, I didn't want somebody else's filtering getting in the way of the content. Second, I've read entries from a few of them, and none provides much of the information that would be useful in RP'ing, that the books do: physical description, motivations, mannerisms, etc. Mostly the wikis are about history, "X did this, then he/she did that." Or "X was Master of Underwater Basketweaving." Finally, it immerses me in the world to an extent that wikis just can't, so that I have the proper mindset when I start writing. OK, now for some ground rules. You've all read the books, right? Good. About true names: in keeping with the practice in the books, the only true names that will be used in the variant itself will be a small selection of names of objects or animals so that GM's can have some kind of baseline to extrapolate other names, and those personalities whose true names are public knowledge (Lebannen, some dragons, the old Kings/queens). If they really want the other names, enterprising wizards (and GM's) can go through the lore-books. Of course, sneaky bastage that I am, I have a master list of names. (I never quite got why kings would want their true names bandied about; it seems like a security risk to me, at the very least. They're not that well-protected, especially in a world chock full of mages.) Next is physical combat. I think there are a total of three such fights in all the books, excepting the last, which I haven't gotten to yet. While occasional mass battles or dragon-on-wizard violence are mentioned in passing, none of the stories focuses on any kind of melee, or archery, for that matter. Magical duels are much more common; even wizards' staffs aren't used to beat on people, other than the occasional recalcitrant student. So the rules will tend to work accordingly. Besides, a warrior isn't going to be much good when the mage he's fighting binds him. There is one type of magic (wizardry), not three as in Glorantha. The two examples of organized religion, both Kargish, are about temporal power and politics; there's no evidence in the stories that any magic derives from them other than calling the Old Powers in particular ways, and they're limited to the proximity of the Power. Theism otherwise is dead except for the semi-pagan rites of the Long Dance and Sunreturn, and they don't seem to have much practical or spell-like effect. They're more a way of retaining and passing on the oral history of the world. Spirits don't play the same role as they do in Glorantha, either; they generally don't have much effect in the physical world other than informationally. And witchery is just a weaker offshoot of wizardry. So that's where I am right now; at this point I only have general impressions rules-wise, since most of my effort has been doing research...and the dull brain which it tends to engender. Once that's finally done I'll be able to apply more brainpower to synthesis.
    1 point
  43. So...a few weeks ago I learned that one of the seminal fantasy authors, Ursula Kroeber Le Guin, had passed on into other realms. Earthsea being one of my early fantasy influences, and never having done much with it other than reading it, I determined to create a campaign using the setting. Doing some preliminary research, I soon realized that the Heroquest 2 core rules would be a fine system with which to run the game, and would eliminate a lot of time spent in reinventing the wheel just to be able to play it. Now I'm around 800 pages into the initial research phase, with over 100 pages of notes. Suffice it to say that there will be no shortage of material for this project. It balloons beyond where I thought it would go. But that's putting the cart slightly before the horse. Let's go back into the mists of time to the '70's, the land of disco (bleh), Rocky, the Bicentennial, gas lines, and Watergate. My father was an avid reader, and, like many readers he was a packrat. He had stackable strawberry crates filled with paperbacks, including fantasy, mythology, fiction and nonfiction, sci fi, and a veritable library of the sci fi periodicals...Analog, IASFM, that sort of thing. (Not particularly good for preventing aging, but then the books weren't nearly that old then.) And, of course, he had a full set of Tolkien's books from The Hobbit to The Silmarillion. One week I was home from school, in sixth grade or so, I think, with chickenpox. Feeling like crap and having nothing better to do, I rummaged through his boxes and pulled out his Tolkien books and, in the space of that week I'd read them all. Thus began my fascination with reading, and fantasy and sci fi in particular. I was soon devouring every book in sight. Flash forward a few years. My grandparents had given me the princely sum of $150 for my birthday (it really went a long way then, especially for a teenager). As far as I can remember, it's the first time I'd ever even held more than a $20 bill in my hand. So what did I do? I blew it. Only I blew it on something that would last...mostly, books which would become the core of my fantasy collection. There was a bookstore about a half mile from home, and I walked back with a large box filled with paperbacks, some new, some used. Stephen R. Donaldson, Roger Zelazny, Fritz Leiber, Piers Anthony, Michael Moorcock, Robert Silverberg, Robert E. Howard, Anne McCaffrey, Patricia A. McKillip... I still have most of them in somewhat less open-to-the air boxes, or replaced some of the more treasured ones with hardback collections. And among them there was a set of three thin, grey books with interesting art and enticingly simple but evocative and thought-provoking storytelling. You guessed it, the Earthsea trilogy. I read and reread them over time, as I occasionally do with my favorites. This was roughly the time that my interest in RPG's developed, as sort of a natural offshoot of my reading. But I wouldn't do anything with this particular combination for 40 years. Back to the present. Having decided on a course of action, I hunted the internet to ensure that there weren't any books that I was missing. I went rummaging through my book boxes for the trilogy, and the few continuations that Ms. Le Guin wrote later. This was a project in itself; I have a lot of books and, though they're categorized and the boxes marked, I still had to dig through stacks of boxes to get at them. It took me several hours to find them all, mostly because there was a book of short stories (Tales from Earthsea) that I knew existed but wasn't with the rest for some reason. Which brings up another interesting vignette. I finally found that book sitting with some others in a box, all of them in mint condition. (In my collection, if a paperback is in mint condition, it means I haven't read it.) As nearly as I can figure it, I bought those books on one of my occasional binges to replenish my reading list, and moved soon after. The books went into a packing box and I forgot about them, and there they've sat for over 15 years. You can imagine my delight at finding an unremembered and unread gem. I'm just opening it now for the research, and am looking forward to exploring new territory. As it turns out, that short-story book looks to be the most important to the project; it has a fair bit of background material that Ms. Le Guin wrote in working on the newer novels. And now, a note about research. There is no more drudge-like drudge work. Book to word processor, back to book, back to word processor... It does tend to limit my enjoyment in reading this time. The fun stuff won't really come until later, when I integrate the notes with the system. But work is work, a set of obstacles to be pushed through. Part of the motivation for this blog is that if I write about it, and people read it, it puts an onus on me not to procrastinate or, worse, let things go altogether. So, that's where I am right now. Further entries will touch on processes, difficulties, and other related things. Reader beware: Here there be spoilers. If you haven't read the books yet, and have enough interest to be reading this blog, shut down your computer, get into your car or go to Amazon or whatever your favorite online bookseller is, buy them, and read them... and wait until then to look at any future entries of mine.
    1 point
  44. Gods! Suwolfe unconsciously tightened his grip on ship’s rail. The roleplaying seas change yet again. He shook his head in wonder gazing sightlessly out at a horizon he could not see but where he knew sea and sky met. “Around and around and around we go; where it stops, nobody knows,” he chanted under his breath to the rhythm of the bireme’s oars. “Orders, lord?” his first mate asked softly. He acknowledged the man with a slight turn of the head but said nothing. The crew was nervous. Orders indeed. They’d been without support, or even the promise of it, for quite some time now. Separated from the fleet during the last great storm they, along with two other galleys, had maintained visual contact but an unexpected squall around dawn had scattered even that tiny squadron. Now they were alone with the seas still shifting and unpredictable. Where to, indeed. Eventually they’d eventually need provisions—even if they foraged for themselves, as they had done for so long before the fleet had gathered, sooner or later they’d crave support. Glorantha? Out of the question. Though its particulars were fascinating to some, they’d never held much allure for him or his crew. Another rune quest? He mentally sighed. What was the definition of madness? Something about expecting different results? He couldn’t remember, besides, there was really no point, considering its ties to Glorantha. BRP? Again, there was the issue of support. No doubt the scattered fleet, or what was left of it, was just as much at a loss and concerned for supply and supplement as he was. There was treasure off to the east and though he knew it existed, eastern landfall was distant and he wasn’t sure his crew could last the journey without some sort of respite. There was also rumor of a new group of islands to the north. Though they were closer, he suspected they were some they’d already visited and had simply been renamed. He’d enjoyed them, but his crew had not. “Can a leopard change his spots…?” he murmured. “Lord?” “West” he said, “turn her head to the west” “West, Lord, but there’s nothing—“ Sunwolfe’s sharp look cut off the man’s protest. “Yes, Lord” he amended quickly and began relaying orders to make his captain’s wishes reality. His gazed about lovingly at the battered ship. “It’s my fate; I suppose,” he whispered. Sailing with the old and outdated, taking what was needed, solving their own problems, it was really nothing new. So, pirates once again, he smiled ruefully…though there had been a time when he’d hoped they’d finally found a home port—he shook off the thought with a shrug and turned back to face the blurred and unknown horizon. It doesn’t matter, really; for now, we yet sail.
    1 point
  45. Gods! Suwolfe unconsciously tightened his grip on ship’s rail. The roleplaying seas change yet again. He shook his head in wonder gazing sightlessly out at a horizon he could not see but where he knew sea and sky met. “Around and around and around we go; where it stops, nobody knows,” he chanted under his breath to the rhythm of the bireme’s oars. “Orders, lord?” his first mate asked softly. He acknowledged the man with a slight turn of the head but said nothing. The crew was nervous. Orders indeed. They’d been without support, or even the promise of it, for quite some time now. Separated from the fleet during the last great storm they, along with two other galleys, had maintained visual contact but an unexpected squall around dawn had scattered even that tiny squadron. Now they were alone with the seas still shifting and unpredictable. Where to, indeed. Eventually they’d eventually need provisions—even if they foraged for themselves, as they had done for so long before the fleet had gathered, sooner or later they’d crave support. Glorantha? Out of the question. Though its particulars were fascinating to some, they’d never held much allure for him or his crew. Another rune quest? He mentally sighed. What was the definition of madness? Something about expecting different results? He couldn’t remember, besides, there was really no point, considering its ties to Glorantha. BRP? Again, there was the issue of support. No doubt the scattered fleet, or what was left of it, was just as much at a loss and concerned for supply and supplement as he was. There was treasure off to the east and though he knew it existed, eastern landfall was distant and he wasn’t sure his crew could last the journey without some sort of respite. There was also rumor of a new group of islands to the north. Though they were closer, he suspected they were some they’d already visited and had simply been renamed. He’d enjoyed them, but his crew had not. “Can a leopard change his spots…?” he murmured. “Lord?” “West” he said, “turn her head to the west” “West, Lord, but there’s nothing—“ Sunwolfe’s sharp look cut off the man’s protest. “Yes, Lord” he amended quickly and began relaying orders to make his captain’s wishes reality. His gazed about lovingly at the battered ship. “It’s my fate; I suppose,” he whispered. Sailing with the old and outdated, taking what was needed, solving their own problems, it was really nothing new. So, pirates once again, he smiled ruefully…though there had been a time when he’d hoped they’d finally found a home port—he shook off the thought with a shrug and turned back to face the blurred and unknown horizon. It doesn’t matter, really; for now, we yet sail.
    1 point
  46. It’s been a few months now since the “Old One’s Returned…” in early June and the only official mention of BRP or MW since has been in Ben Monroe’s tagline: “Chief Operations Officer, Magic World/BRP Guru, Earth Ro-Man”—I wonder if he’s even “Chief Operations Officer” now that the company is a web address? We forumites haven’t heard from him in sometime. Since June, I’ve been hoping for some official shout out, even a small one, from Chaosium: “We’re keeping BRP, but (understandably) it is the lowest of our priorities…don’t worry though, we remember all our loyal fans…”. Save for brief flashes concerning Epsilon, Blood Tide and After the Vampire Wars, however,—works that were finished just prior or just after the return of Stafford—nadda. Oh, I realize I’m not on the inside; I don’t know the whole story, and if knew what was planned…I’d understand,but in lieu of a leg-up from Chaosium, here’s what I understand: Gloranthaphiles, Cuthulhuites and RQ6ese got news; BRPians and MWers got nothing. Therefore, in light of that nothing: I’m gonna let this out and hopefully lance the boil, because it’s eating me alive, and, as it adds little to constructive conversation, I’m going to do it here on my blog where it can be easily identified as the negative rant of a mad man who can’t keep his angst to himself and ignored as childish petulance. Despite “saving” the company, this whole thing has ultimately been a downer. I know Gloranthaphiles or Cuthulhuites are excited and they have a right to be. I, on the other hand, look at my BRP shelf with stuff that stretches back to the 80’s and wonder: what about my loyalty? If I add the investment up, I find I probably could have bought a used car! Yes, yes, I know that the loss of active BRP support doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the titles I have, but, honestly, since the ‘rescue’, my RPG playing enthusiasm has ebbed. Even my Here’s-Barsoom-In-Your-Eye protest has run out of steam. I know it’s because of the disappointment I feel toward the company and its seeming choice to ignore BRP and that such anger is unreasonable. I mean, it even blows my mind that I’m reacting so emotionally, but I just can’t seem to set it and the feelings of abandonment aside. God, do I need therapy?! What really gets me is that BRP loyalists, like me, are left to wonder and speculate in isolation. I mean, for God’s sake, there are some here who still actively hope for a MW Chronicler’s Companion! Chaosium, couldn’t you offer a mercy bullet…or even throw a we-will/can-no-longer-support-BRP/MW bone as a reward to those who remain(ed) loyal to the company for BRP sake? I would laugh if I wasn’t so frustrated. What the hell Chaosium?! Is the strategy to keep an oar in the water, so if financial tides turn, an announcement can be made that “The long wait is over BRP fans; we really never gave up on you!”? God, the whole driving-off-into-the-sunset spin just makes my blood boil! Far from romantic (the band is back together) or nostalgic (the end of an era), it smacks of an absentee father who suddenly returns home only to grab his things and leave again after some mumbled nonsense about how ‘I’ll always be your dad…’. Yeah, yeah, I know, completely necessary and expedient for Chaosium to survive and completely unreasonable and childish for me to crave. Well, if that’s the case, I think it’s high time for me to grow up and lay this foolishness aside. If I must have an RPG system and a company to offer my loyalty to, there are plenty of them out there ready to take my money. So…good riddins, dad…thanks for the tadpoles and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Now, I need to go meet with my therapist.
    1 point
  47. My mind runs the dry ocher covered sea bottoms of Barsoom as I continue to read and reread Burroughs’ work collecting materials for a BRP-MW based sword-and-planet game I hope to GM someday. I say ‘hope’ and ‘someday’ because the members of my game crew can be rather fickle. Once it’s served up to them, my efforts are just as likely to result in, “meh” as they are to illicit, “cool”. Seriously, the whole endeavor could turn out to be nothing more than a mental exercise. I wonder at times why I continue with it at all. I suppose, first and foremost, I continue because John Carter and Burroughs’ Mars are cool and simply beg for RPG treatment, at testament to which can be traced in all the game designs and setting attempts made to bring the Red Planet to GMs and players. For me, however, I suspect it goes deeper than that. As I’ve ruminated over the last few weeks, I’ve concluded that John Carter, both as a character and as a movie, resonates with me as a metaphor for this whole Chaosium/Moon Design/Greg Stafford/Glorantha/RQ/BRP/MW mash up. Though to some, it might be a bit of a stretch, I cannot help but see parallels between BRP’s present limbo, and the uneven promotion and dismissal the movie John Carter received at the hands of some of Disney’s marketeers and executives*. The ultimate disposition of BRP and MW has yet to be revealed. Whether or not they are to be regulated to the back shelf or the dust bind is a matter of conjecture, but when what official news there is slows to a trickle or concerns itself almost exclusively with CoC, Glorantha, and Glorantha RuneQuest, what is left but to draw conclusions, even subconsciously, though we might resist trying to do so? It’s easy to doubt the advent of a long promised Chronicler’s Companion as the list of monograph selections narrow, and the latest BRP supplement, After the Vampire Wars, receives little fanfare and is offered for a paltry $100,000,000.00 :-T. I point this out not in an attempt to lay blame—a useless exercise and particularly so when much of that which has occurred is far beyond one person’s ability to control—but to underscore that the handling and promotion of BRP by Chaosium reminds me of that with which John Carter was treated and echoes, for me, present circumstances. I also see a parallel in the loyalty of John Carter fans to their movie and in my loyalty to BRP. Though not a perfect realization, the film was done with love and care, something even a purest can respect. The Facebook page Take Me Back to Barsoom! and The John Carter Files website attest to this regard and I can’t help but be reminded of BRP Central. Long after the official light of BRP has been extinguished or relegated to obscurity, I have a feeling the few, the proud, and the stubborn will continue to hold vigil here--working up conversions, offering the fruit of faithfulness, laboring at downloads—for as long as BRP Central exists. It really doesn’t matter what those in power decide, I will continue to play, to create, to dream and remain loyal to BRP. Finally, John Carter’s resolution inspires me. His response, “We still live!” to Dejah Thoris’s despair in the face of incredible and overwhelming odds strikes a cord in me and I cannot help but feel the stirrings of some “Virginia fighting-spirit” of my own. I want to ‘plant my flag’ and adopt a defiant no-matter-what-you-do stance despite a possible future wherein Chaosium survives but as an actively supported concern BRP and MW does not. To what end this stand…a BRP or MW not only allowed to exist but to flourish and grow? No…of course not. As I have said before, as the silence lengthens, the writing on the wall becomes clearer that things have obviously gone beyond the point of appeal to modify. But maybe, possibly, such a mental stand will help me and, like 9th-ray buoyancy tanks, elevate my spirits and change my attitude about the whole mess. Maybe from the strength of such resolution, I can learn to accept the inevitability of the situation, taking joy and happiness in what I can control and letting go of what I cannot. In reality, I have two bookshelves full of BRP goodness to draw upon…material to literally last the rest of my life…that should and will be enough. So godspeed, Greg; do what you can to preserve your legacy. I envy you the chance to get your house in order and reunite Glorantha and RuneQuest under a new Chaosium to the joy of all Gloranthaphiles and Cthulhu-ites. I wish you and them luck and years of enjoyment. Long live Chaosium! Long live Runequest! Long live Glorantha! As for myself? I will return to Barsoom and continue my exploration, for despite the life-long fulfillment of your dreams, I and BRP/MW “…still live!” and we will pursue our own. “I am done.” *Sellers, Michael D. John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood. San Bernadino: Michael Sellers, 2012.
    1 point
  48. I've been thinking about it for a long time now, but finally I had some days to actually update the site. Our move from vBulletin 3 to vBulletin 4 was not necessarily an improvement, but this one I think is. Most of the troubles we encounter now in the initial days of the transfer is due to errors from the bloated vB database and my incompetence with the new software. This will however improve, just be patient. Please do tell me of any bugs you encounter (in the [url="http://basicroleplaying.org/topic/3457-bug-reports/"]bug thread[/url]) or any features or design you miss. Cheers, Trifletraxor
    1 point
  49. I spent yesterday looking at Mad Knight’s new range of Gloranthan figures and playtesting a set of Skirmish Rules to go with them. They are very impressive figures, harking back to the best of the Citadel figures from RuneQuest’s hey-day. We played using broos and trolls, as they were the painted ranges and swept through a Sun County village with devastating results. The sides seemed fairly evenly matched, with the trolls having more figures, half of which were trollkin. We ended up with one of the troll leaders ably supported by two Great Trolls fighting each of the broo leaders in hand-to-hand and killing both of them twice! Very satisfying, especially as I was playing the trolls . The rules worked well. They were fast, easy to use and very, very simple. We even had Gloranthan magic and Divine Intervention for Leaders, which worked very well indeed. Some areas need polishing slightly, which is why it was a playtest, but most of the rules worked well first time. Hopefully, Mad Knight will be able to run the scenario at Chimeraides at the end of October. In the meantime, they have a Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/madknight/ if you are interested in what they have done so far.
    1 point
  50. In this morning stroll through Engadget I came across two stories that related to the science of Rubble and Ruin. When I wrote R&R I was trying to take modern science as seen from my perspective as a professional scientist and project to a near future where everything was cranked up to 11. For AI brains being used to “man” automated weapons systems I give you http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/13/darpas-msee-to-develop-new-mathematical-language-race-of-senti/. Of more interest to me, R&R has a “fantasy” element of nano-psionics. This was intended to represent some new discoveries coming out of the Second Global War that could not be predicted from our current vantage point – the idea being something like asking someone in 1910 to predict the atomic bomb. There were probably people thinking in terms of both big bombs and unlocking the power of the atoms, but I don’t think anyone had a clear idea of how it would be done. Likewise I don’t believe anything like nano-psionics will appear in our future, but I do believe there will be things we have yet to think of. Still, it was interesting to see that people are using tattoos of subdermal nano-particles to create biomonitors. See this link: http://www.engadget.com/2011/07/21/fluorescent-nanosensor-tattoo-monitors-glucose-under-the-iphone/
    1 point
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