Wednesday, November 12, 2008

CCF Refuses D&D Donation: Update

I'm sure a lot of you out there have heard that the Christian Children's Fund, a charity supported for a long time by Gary Gygax, refused a several thousand dollar donation from Gen Con this year. This cause a lot of anger, and confused a lot of people.

Personally, I was really put off when I first heard about this as a Christian gamer who is almost as passionate about gaming as he is about God. Now the idea of balancing God and D&D is one that I've done a lot of thinking about over the years, and is a topic I plan fully to talk about more in later posts, but for now I wanted to update anyone unaware on the charity situation.

Rich Burlew, author of The Order of the Stick (my favorite gaming webcomic) recently wrote a blog post with some updated information. Apparently, there was miscommunication, and the charity did not actually refused the donation - rather, it was unable to distribute publicity materials or something like that. I can't really work through it all since I been up all night, but it sounds like they're at least taking steps to make sure that doesn't happen again.

Rich quotes the following as basically what the charity has been saying in response to this whole controversy. Reprinted for your convenience:

"When Gen Con contacted CCF about its auction, we were pleased to accept donations. However, we couldn’t lend our name for publication because our policies have specific criteria for endorsements. We were unaware that this had caused any problem or concern for Gen Con until we began receiving emails. This decision was in no way intended to be a reflection on Mr. Gygax, gaming enthusiasts or the game Dungeon and Dragons. We have the utmost respect for the gaming community and were touched by the generosity expressed through your auction."

Anyways, you can read the whole statement here, and make sure to check out Rich's blog post here for the full update. Also, go read The Order of the Stick!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Crimson Throne D&D: In Retrospect

The following is an in-character journal recollection as written by Ryan, one of the players in my Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign path. He plays the swashbuckler/rogue Ramius, and has logged his memories of the events so far as follows...

A letter, by Ramius Lightfoot

As much as I detest the concept of fate, I am beginning to feel more and more that I should not try to tempt it. My encounters over the last few days indicate that perhaps fate plays more of a role in my life than I would like—a desire to become a grand adventurer, and consequently being thrown into the midst of a band of individuals devoted to the single purpose of achieving our individual revenges on Gaedren Lamm; a Harrow reading predicting that I would become a protector of Korvosa, and soon thereafter achieving an honorary post in the Korvosan Guard; a Gypsy woman who turns out to be dead but uses her Harrow deck to pull together a band of adventurers who otherwise would have been content to go their separate ways. As a result of these events, I find myself significantly shaken by an incident I would ordinarily be wont to laugh off—namely, a crazy old man we passed in the street who suddenly approached me and swore that he saw me dying in a dream. Had my most recent experiences with prophecy and fate not occurred, I would have paid it no mind, but now I must confess it worries me. I feel that I should perhaps be a bit more cautious for a while, just in case.

Our run-in with the renegade Guard Vancaskerkin proved… worrisome. The guards below refused to take us to him, and I later learned this is because Vancaskerkin knew nothing of his men’s plan to hire themselves out as mercenaries, but it sparked argument within the party over how to get inside. I was all for sneaking in the back, Einkil, of course, wanted to stand outside and look threatening until the guards came out to us, and Lowen and Tulia wanted to take another try at talking to them. Eventually they ventured inside and charmed one of the guards—but sparked a fight while Einkil and I were still outside. We took great efforts to keep the Guards alive, but it made our battle significantly more difficult, for they fought to kill. I was also concerned that Tulia ended up starting a fight while our two melee combatants, Einkil and myself, were standing outside, helpless to stop the other guard from attacking the poor magic-users. In such a small room with only one entrance--guarded by a rather brutish guard—it proved difficult for us to muscle our way inside to provide assistance as well, which is yet another cause for concern. I must be sure not to let Lowen and Tulia put themselves into such situations without either Einkil or myself around.

Meanwhile, my trust in Einkil, which was beginning to grow upon seeing the dwarf’s competence as a fighter, has waned once again. The tactless fool charged upstairs while we were dealing with the guards and engaged in single combat with Vancaskerkin. As soon as I was able to break myself away from the fight, I charged upstairs and tried to reason with them both, but to no avail. Einkil was dead-set on taking Vancaskerkin down himself… though Vancaskerkin seemed to be willing to at least talk with me if Einkil would disengage himself from combat—something the poor dwarf will never find himself able to do, methinks. The fool did not seem to consider that Vancaskerkin was wanted chiefly for information and that we should try to take him alive. His refusal to disengage and his insubordination upon receiving a scolding from the rest of the party upon Vancaskerkin’s defeat makes me wonder just how trustworthy this dwarf truly is.

Despite the… rifts… that Einkil’s stubborn individual engagement of Vancaskerkin created, I cannot choose but find myself at least mildly impressed that Einkil was able to single-handedly defeat a high-ranking former member of the Guard with a reputation as a notable fighter. I simply wish, though, that the dwarf had some degree of judgment in his person. Without it, I worry that he will get himself or someone else killed… quite possibly even me. We will have to keep a closer eye on him and see if he might begin to make better decisions.

Imagine my surprise — and horror — in finding, while returning to Citadel Volshyenik, someone I had once met, and now knew to be dead: naturally I refer to none other than Zellara. It has now been revealed to us that the Zellara we met with was merely an apparition created through her Harrow deck, whose purpose is to protect Korvosa and bring us together to defeat Gaedren Lamm. Tulia has now become the holder of the Harrow deck, as she is the only one capable of making use of it, although she, and the rest of us, are unsure of how devoted she will prove to be to the protection of Korvosa.

Despite entrusting the attractive young sorceress with this (apparently) powerful and valuable tool, Ziaphas seemed… strangely interested in the deck upon the revelation that Zellara was, in fact, dead. And by strangely interested, I mean eyes-widen-and-go-pale strangely interested, and he then asked to see the deck. Surprised, and mildly disturbed, by the sudden change that seemed to overtake Ziaphas, we all immediately told him no. This young wizard has yet to gain my trust, especially while he carries that damned snake with him—I will not deny that the slithering reptile disturbs me. And on that subject, so does Tulia’s furry rodent. The accursed fuzzball bit me!

Ziaphas himself seems eager enough to join our merry band, but at the same time, there’s something in it that is deceivable…and all I have are a small handful of pieces to analyze the man. He seemed frightened by the imps that we encountered, and said they may have been familiars of Academae mages (but what of that?); he was shocked when we were informed that the Academae’s doors had been sealed shut in the madness that ensued after the King’s death (as anyone of the Academae might be…); he was… strangely intrigued… upon learning that Zellara was long dead (as was I… though I was much more frightened than intrigued). I will continue to take note of Ziaphas’ behavior, and I feel he has warmed up to me fairly quickly — perhaps because I was the first to step forward to save his neck—so it should not be too difficult to learn more of him.

Field Marshall Cressida Croft seems to be pleased with the work we are doing for the Guard, and even went so far as to endow us with an even greater task to perform since we would not be recognized or acknowledged as affiliates of the Korvosan Guard. Much as I wonder at her eagerness to trust our little ragtag band, especially in such difficult times, I am proud to be considered trusted enough by Korvosa’s brilliant Field Marshall to conduct our own investigation into the Ambassador Amprei’s potentially underhanded dealings. Apparently, Field Marshall Croft (rightly) suspected that he is attempting to place an embargo on Korvosa so that when hard economic times ensue he can buy up half the city. As a result…she wanted us to investigate, and attempt to find blackmail-worthy material on him if possible. To be honest, it was simple.

We went to Eel’s End to dig up any material on the ambassador’s personal life that might have manifested itself in one of Korvosa’s… lower places. After some bribes and a couple of rather terrifying, but victorious games of “knivesies,” we convinced the Devargo Barasi, the King of Spiders, to give us some rather… vivid accounts into the ambassador’s love life. They were enough even to make Cressida Croft blush, and were deemed more than sufficient leverage.

I was surprised that I was so eager to partake in a game of knivesies even after being warned of impending death by the street prophet. Either I had too much to drink beforehand, or I was too eager to prove myself capable of winning the game after Einkil managed so bloodily, or I merely wanted to contribute so we could accomplish our mission—whatever the case, I jumped into a situation that apparently many men do not come out of. While I was successful, I daresay it was a rather foolish decision. Watching the drunk go flying off the table, though…that was highly entertaining.

Apparently my shameful addiction to shiver reached the ears of some higher crimelords in Korvosa—the King of Spiders being one. He even went so far as to bet a vial against me in knivesies…and suggested that we talk business after the game was completed. It was easy enough to string him along…but disposing of the shiver I won was far more difficult. If I come across more, I may have more of a struggle. It is my hope, however, that whenever I am presented with an opportunity I will do my best to thwart the shiver market.

After our little encounter with Korvosa’s criminal underworld, Cressida Croft presented us with yet another intriguing duty. I have personally heard many rumors that the King was assassinated, and Field Marshal Croft gave us the source—members of the Queen’s personal guard, one of which being Captain Antony’s late brother, who committed suicide after dropping a name: Trinia, a young art student at the university. It was feared that the mob would find her and kill her before the guard would have a chance to question her…and it was our job to find her, catch her, and bring her back safely to the Citadel Volshyenik.

We probably should have planned things out a little better in our search for the girl once we reached the Shingles…I’m sure we looked completely inconspicuous in our inquiries. A man in leather armor with a bow and rapier, a dwarf in chain mail with an axe, a skinny, nervous-looking mage, and a tall, heavily-cloaked woman all asking questions of residents of the same building as a rumored assassin and trying to pass it off as looking for my “cousin.” Wonderfully subtle. Naturally people who lived in the building had a system in place to warn Trinia of anybody suspicious…so when we arrived in her room there was only an illusion on the bed, and she was out on the roof. Upon Ziaphus’ informing us of the situation, I promptly leaped out onto the roof, and she promptly began running. The chase ensued.

I must say, I highly enjoyed the chase. The girl was quite nimble, and presented a challenge that the others—aside from Lowen, who caught up to me when I had difficulty with a wide gap—could not manage. Einkil actually fell to the streets below, though he was thankfully uninjured and elected to shove his way through the crowds to pursue us. I finally managed to pull ahead of the rest and catch onto Trinia, though…at which point she broke down in tears. She seemed…far too innocent to be capable of killing a king. Yet she did produce a skilled illusion and seemed to have a very strong escape plan that was not easy to foil. My heart tells me that she is innocent, but my brain tells me that there is a very real possibility that we caught a skilled assassin.

Perhaps I am in Cayden Cailean’s favor, despite all my past mistakes. Getting discharged from the Korvosan Guard may well be the greatest step in my career. I’m now a trusted agent of Cressida Croft, with yet another mission. Thousand-Bones has requested that we retrieve his grandson’s body, which was sold to a necromancer in the Gray, in order to prevent an attack on Korvosa. Naturally, I am proud for another opportunity to serve Korvosa and her people.

Another commentary on Ziaphas, while I am discussing our new assignment—he seemed deeply absorbed in thought when presented with our next task. He also... rubbed a strange, discolored spot on his temple and appeared to be in pain. I don’t know what any of this means, but there’s something he hasn’t told us yet. Time will tell, I am sure. Until then, Ziaphas shall receive the benefit of the doubt as a tested member of the party.

The prospect of going to the Gray, even with such a critical situation resting in our hands, makes me nervous. I’ve never bothered to go there to begin with, and I’ve heard from some that it’s not particularly pleasant. Also…I am yet untested against any wielder of magic. Everything I’ve done has been against fellow swordsmen and soldiers. This is truly an excellent opportunity to test myself, but I again bear the street prophet’s words in mind and approach this mission with equal parts pride, humility, enthusiasm, and hesitancy…

Ramius Lightfoot

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Crimson Throne D&D: To Catch An Assassin

[SPOILER: Members of my RPOL "Pathfinder: Journeys of Golarion" game should not read this post as it contains information as to the adventure you are currently playing.]

This series is a session-by-session recap of the Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign over the course of the school year. Enjoy! The current party:

- Lowen, Half-Elf Cleric of Irori
- Ramius, Human Swashbuckler
- Tulia, Human Sorceress
- Einkil, Dwarf Fighter
- Ziaphas, Human Wizard

"You've doubtless heard the stories that the king's killer has been named. Yet there's something more going on here, I'm afraid. Queen Ileosa could have quiety had this Trinia Sabor arrested at any time, yet the way in which she revealed the information to the city seems to me like she wants the riots to come back. Certainly with the mob and the Hellknights out on the street, the girl doesn't stand a chance at a trial - they'll lynch her the moment they find her... I need you to get into Midland, find Trinia, and bring her back to me so we can deliver her, safe and sound, to somewhere where she can be interrogated - preferably with magic, so we can be absolutely sure about her role in Eordred's death. Any questions?"

The girl, an artist by trade, had initially been named as the assassin of King Eordred following the confession of one of Queen Ileosa's royal guards. Apparently, the guard had helped her in the plot to poison the King during one of her sessions painting his portrait. Following the confession, rumors have it that the guard in question committed suicide by flinging himself from Castle Korvosa's highest tower.

Making their way to Midland, Lowen and Ziaphas realized exactly where they were going. The Shingles. The Shingles were Korvosa's largest slum area, where daylight rarely saw the street due to the tangle of mazelike walkways and building extensions in the levels above.

Making their way into Trinia's building they found it to be a complex of small one room homes. Trying to find Trinia's was difficult since every neighbor they met seemed to try and turn them around, or give them faulty information. Eventually, the fact that they were searching for Trinia slipped, and an alarm system quickly flowed through the building up to the third floor.

The door was barricaded, but when they entered, they found Trinia curled up asleep on her bed. Trying to be quiet, the approached the sleeping girl, but their ears were keen enough to hear movement on the roof outside. Suddenly, the sleeping girl vanished. An illusion! The real Trinia Sabor was out on the rooftops. Seeing that she'd been found out, the artist took of running, only to be quickly followed by the adventurers.

Manuevering over the rooftops was very difficult, and Ziaphas had trouble navigating the difficult slopes and passageways, as did Einkil who quickly fell to the streets below. Ramius and Lowen however kept pace with the girl. Ramius easily scaled walls and tumbled over crumbling rooftops, even leaping at some points over short gaps. Lowen kept pace with the dexterous man, though by spying out very well hidden shortcuts, rather then relying on her physical strength.

Finally, when Trinia was almost home free, she stumbled and failed to gain any ground. Ramius was quickly upon her and tackled the girl to the ground.

Taking her back to the Citadel, the group was intercepted by Captain Ant'ony, an old acquaintance of Ramius's. The man said that Cressida was waiting for them in a meeting with a Shoanti ambassador, as apparently a young Shoanti boy had been killed in the riots. Captain Ant'ony said that he could take Trinia.

The group, who was very careful about keeping the girl safe and wanted to deliver her directly to Cressida, refused.

The group quickly got into a heated argument with Ant'ony who seemed prejudiced against the girl and sure of her guilt. It was eventually revealed that it was his own brother who had admitted to working with her and who had killed himself because of her. Finally a compromise was reached as Einkil stayed behind to ensure the girl was kept safe as she was handed off to royal officials.

Entering the meeting with Cressida, they met the strange Shoanti ambassador known as Thousand Bones. Apparently, his grandson had been killed by racist Korvosans who had used the riots as an excuse to fuel their own anger. Thousand Bones seemed to be a kind and calm man, though he explained that his son and his people were not as forgiving.

All he desired was his grandson's body back, but the corpse had been sold to a man by the name of Rolth - a necromancer in the Dead Warrens. If the group could recover the young boy's body, then peace could be reached.

Inwardly, Ziaphas smiled...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Crimson Throne D&D: The King Of Spiders

[SPOILER: Members of my RPOL "Pathfinder: Journeys of Golarion" game should not read this post as it contains information as to the adventure you are currently playing.]

This series is a session-by-session recap of the Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign over the course of the school year. Enjoy! The current party:

- Lowen, Half-Elf Cleric of Irori
- Ramius, Human Swashbuckler
- Tulia, Human Sorceress
- Einkil, Dwarf Fighter
- Ziaphas, Human Wizard

"The sound of carousing booms from the elegantly painted ships moored to this long pier. Large signs painted in several languages hang from ropes slung between ships or are nailed to pilings. The closest ship to the east bears a sign that says, "The Twin Tigers - Take The Tiger by the Tail and Try Your Luck!" Opposite that, to the west, a barge's sign says, "Welcome to the Goldenhawk - No Safer Stay in Old Korvosa!" Further to the southeast is "Dragon's Breath Corridor - Dream the Dragon's Dreams at Affordable Prices!", while opposite that is the "House of Clouds - The Caress of Our Lovelies Will Take You Straight to Celestia!" Only the largest ship, to the south, bears no signage at all."

Asking around, the group quickly found that the furthest ship tied was Devargo's, but it wasn't a simple feat to just go in and talk with him. They knew they needed a little bit of a better plan. However, there wasn't too much time to think before a cry of "KILL HIM!" echoed from the nearby barge, "The Twin Tigers".

Rushing inside, the group found that - rather then there be any actual killing - the place was just responding loudly to a game of knivesies, a popular game in Old Korvosa. The game was just ending to cheers and applause. The Twin Tigers was a gambling hall, and every inch of the ships interior was covered with gambling tables, spinning wheels, glimmering coins, and shuffling cards.

Overlooking all of the festivities were Anpugit and Rejeek, the twin owners of the gambling hall.

Knowing that they needed some kind of doorway into a meeting with Devargo, Ramius and Ziaphas approached the casino leaders after bribing their way past a guard. They bluffed their way around the two owners, saying that it would be in their best interest to write them a letter of introduction to get into a meeting with the King of Spiders.

At most, the twins through that the two adventurers were amusing, but they decided that they might be able to help, in exchange for a favor. A delivery to the gambling hall from the Dragon's Breath Corridor was late. If they could go and pick up the delivery, then the twins would get them in to see Devargo.

Agreeing, the group set off.

Making their way below deck, the group quickly found Dragon's Breath Corridor to be a den of drugs. The whole place was filled with smoke with stung the nostrils. Refusing to pay the entrance fee, the owner quickly shooed them back onto the main deck while he fetched the delivery. 14 vials of Shiver. The man smiled as he said their was an extra vial in there for them, in case they wanted to try it.

Ramius seemed to easily be able to avoid the temptation as no one took the extra vial and returned it - extra vial included - to the brothers.

Getting more then they'd paid for seemed to amuse the twins even more, so they wrote and sealed a letter for the party, and said it would let Devargo know that perhaps these young adventurers were worth his time.

Getting in to see the King of Spiders, with the letter of introduction, was fairly simple.

The King of Spiders was an imposing man, who seemed to be entertaining a dinner party with some hopeful thugs of his, as the group entered. The room crawled with spiders which seemed to follow the man's every whim - earning him his nickname among Old Korvosa's citizens.

He spoke with a faint shoanti accent. "Greetings. Now, I know you all know who I am. But who the hell are you, and why should I care?"

Cutting right to the chase, the group made their intentions clear. They introduced themselves as hired mercenaries seeking to get the paperwork for their employer. Ramius introduced himself by name.

"Ah, Ramius. I remember you. A fairly steady customer if I remember correctly. I heard that the man I sold shiver to had cut you off. Sad news. But thankfully, due to some recent events, it would appear that the middle man has been cut out, so business should be much simpler now. I am indeed a fan of repeat customers." The King of Spiders smiled charmingly.

In order to get the papers, The King of Spiders made it clear that the information was valuable. After a large bribe, and two games of Knivesies, the letters were finally theres. Both Einkil and Ramius won the games of Knivesies - Einkil by brute strength, and Ramius by tripping up his opponent and dropping him off the table. Einkil's winnings yielded several gold coins, while Devargo himself bet against Ramius, with his winnings being a single vial of Shiver (which Ramius later discarded).

Bringing the letters back to Cressida, she told the group to take a break. Things were beginning to wind down, and they deserved a rest.

For two weeks the group relaxed, though it wasn't long before rumors began circulating that the King's assassin had been named...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Crimson Throne D&D: Welcome To The Guard

[SPOILER: Members of my RPOL "Pathfinder: Journeys of Golarion" game should not read this post as it contains information as to the adventure you are currently playing.]

This series is a session-by-session recap of the Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign over the course of the school year. Enjoy! The current party:

- Lowen, Half-Elf Cleric of Irori
- Ramius, Human Swashbuckler
- Tulia, Human Sorceress
- Einkil, Dwarf Fighter
- Ziaphas, Human Wizard

"Welcome to All The World's Meat! A sign bearing the image of a fat, smiling cow hangs above the entrance to this shop. Inside, a long counter runs over half theroom's width, beyond which a door stands ajar. A low bench sits against the east wall, while to the nort a marble-topped table displays cuts of meat before a wide grimy window. A few flies crawl and circle in the air above the meat. Surely this is not where Vancaskerkin is hiding out, surely there is a mistake, though a quick look at the burly thug standing guard outside quickly sets your hesitation to rest..."

Approaching the meat shop was the easy part for our heroes, it was getting inside which seemed to prove difficult. Despite their attempts to talk their way around the two guards who stood watch, the group seemed to be continually met with difficulties. A couple of the adventurers had heard on the street that in addition to giving meat out to the poor and needy, Vancaskerkin's gang was also hiring itself out as thugs...

After using the code phrase that they were interested in "the special night's cuts", the two guards seemed more then willing to do business, but whenever the group mentioned that they wanted to see Vancaskerkin to do business directly with him, the guards got very defensive - even worried. They tried to make it clear that the business would be done with them, and that Vancaskerkin was too busy to be bothered.

Despite diplomicizing and intimidating as best they could, the guards stoically refused to let them through to see the rogue guard, at one point demanding that they leave the shop.

Moving back outdoors to discuss strategy, the group noticed that the guards would often vanish from the room, only to come back. Probably warning Vancaskerkin, or so the group thought. In an attempt to "scare away business" the adventurers accidentally frightened off a poor family hungry for some meat, rather then individuals interested in hiring the thugs services.

The only response the guards gave them was to "kick off" followed by the door being slammed in their faces.

The poor family went hungry that night... and the young boy died of starvation... though our heroes would never know...

The party knew they had to get to Vancaskerkin, though their final attempt to force their way into the meat shop quickly turned to blows. The guards were ready, and a third guard in hiding launched crossbow bolt after crossbow bolt at the party. Tulia quickly charmed one of the men, keeping him as occupied as possible with her feminine charms while Einkil and Ramius charged in.

Einkil fought as hard as he could, though the dwarf's attacks always seemed to land a moment too late, allowing for Ramius and Lowen to fell most of the guards. The dwarf quickly became frusturated as the reason for his failure stemmed largely from the fact that they were trying to knock the men out, rather then kill them. This strange way of fighting caused Einkil to come up short as far as combat was concerned.

Backtracking, and driven by anger, Einkil scaled the staircase alone while the party was still engaged in combat with the guards below. Lowen tried to keep one of them who was knocked down by lethal means from bleeding out, while Tulia and Ramius met up and pondered over where the dwarf had gone.

The clash of blades upstairs however, quickly brought all three of them at a run to find the dwarf engaged in deadly combat with Vancaskerkin himself.

Vancaskerkin, still wearing his guard tabard, fought valiantly with his short spear against Einkil and the two exchanged equally deadly blows. Behind Einkil; Ramius, Tulia and Lowen tried to calm the Dwarf down. Verik seemed more then willing to talk, but not as long as the dwarf was trying to kill him. Einkil didn't want to give him the chance however, hoping to subdue the man lethally, bandaging him up, and then bringing him in for questioning.

Finally, the man fell. And to the victor went the spoils. From Verik they gathered several items of interest, though the most beautiful of which was an exotically crafted silver dagger.

Turning Verik in was not the end of the assignments however, as Cressida Croft was waiting for them with another job.

Returning to her office, Cressida introduced the group to a man called Vencarlo Orisini, one of Korvosa's most respected and renowned teachers of the honorable arts of fencing and swordplay. He appeared as a charming man, bowing deeply upon being introduced, and seemed to take on an immediate affection for Lowen, the cleric of Irori.

With a dashing smile he offered her his chair, and tried to engage her in conversation. From the short amount of time they could speak he seemed on all accounts to be a gentleman and a philosopher capable of carrying on intelligent discussion on a variety of topics.

Cressida explained the situation. Apparently, there was an ambassador by the name of Darvayne Gios Amprei who hated Korvosa with a passion. He was often sent here by the Cheliax government and wished to create embargos against the city. Cressida needed some kind of leverage against the man and had heard through Orisini's contacts that the Ambassador was having an affair with someone in Cheliax.

Apparently, the two had communicated via love letters during his time in Korvosa and these love letters have since fallen into the hands of Devargo Barasi, the King of Spiders. A crime lord who inhabited Eel's End, one of Korvosa's piers. However, since the man paid his vice taxes, he wasn't technically a criminal, and so he couldn't be put away.

Anyways, Cressida needed the party to head to Eel's End and to secure the love letters from Devargo. This would give them the leverage they needed.

Orisini led them to "Old Korvosa", the area that Eel's end was located within. The group headed to the pier and set to work...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Runelords D&D: Down Come The Rains

This series is a session-by-session recap of the Rise of the Runelords campaign over the course of the school year. The current party:

- Deanda, Elf Druid/Nature's Warrior
- Kiikii, Human Conjurer/Malconvoker
- Nakor, Human Transmuter/Knight Phantom
- Jaime, Human Cleric of Iomedae
- Kraca, Dwarf Monk/Ninja
- Slavla, Half Elf Barbarian/Fighter/Frenzied Berserker

You all are seated in Fort Rannick, some of you having just arrived back this morning. The fire burns brightly. All, at least for now, is at peace.

As our heroes had some time on their hands, they finally were relaxing -telling stories around the fire like they used to. Deanda, Nakor and Jaime shared some of their findings over the past two weeks. The adventurers were a little disturbed by Deanda's recounting of the Stone Giant assault, especially after Malfeshnakor's haunting warning.

Nakor made Lord Mayor Grobaras's information known, and only Jaime, he, and Slavla decided to take on the title of Lords and Ladies of Magnimar - pledging themselves to the defense of the city and it's holdings. To them fell the task of renaming the Fort, though in honor of the deceased Black Arrows they decided to not change the name yet.

The elves Deanda had met in the Mierani forest had come back with her, though the Fort was still very empty - despite the elves and their giant owl mounts.

And so, to a still and empty fort, our heroes retired to bed.

Dawn broke, and with it, disaster.

A frantic man, drenched in rain, and half-crazed had arrived at the keep an hour before dawn. Shrieking out in terror. Nakor and Slavla were quick to respond to the man's calls at the beckoning of an elf who had informed them of the man's arrival. He shouted his message through a veil of terror.

"They are drowning my Lords! The Skull River surges along its banks. Even the waters of Claybottom to the south invade the shore and spill across the land. Turtleback Ferry will be gone in a matter of hours! The people are doing their best to evacuate, but many are trapped in their attics watching the floodwaters rise. Father Shreed is holed up in the cathedrral with the sick, and they can't be moved easily, and what's worse, that old church could collapse an minute. You must help us!"

Within minutes, our heroes were hightailing it through the rains - most of them borne on the backs of Nakor's summoned shadow steeds.

When they arrived, the danger was clear an imminent. The floodwaters were rising, and a nearby ferry seemed about ready to overturn - filled with school children. Across the newly made pond, the church seemed poised to collaspe, though our heroes could still see movement within the upper stories.

Making for the boat, it wasn't long before a new threat presented itself. A nightbelly boa emerged from the water, and attacked little Tabitha Kramm - threatening to swallow her down - freckles, pigtails, and all.

Though our heroes fought hard, Tabitha was quickly swallowed up by the beast, as it wound itself around any who came close. Finally it fell, and with the help of summoned flying beasts, the adventurers were able to get the children and most of the sick to shore before... it came.

The creature which emerged from the waters was made from the stuff of legend and nightmares.

"A monsterous, undulating tangle of barbed tentacles explodes from the water. Its form spurns definable anatomy, a horror of prehistory atop a writhing mass of rubbery tentacles - some crowned with glaring infernal eyes. Its only recognizable feature is the black reptilian head rising above the morass of tentacles, a maw of flesh sheering teeth gaping wide before two piercing eyes, smouldering with alien intelligence."

This beast, Jaime announced, was a Mother of Oblivion. A servant of Lamashtu. Kiikii knew it better as Black Magga, a thought-to-be-mythical creature of the Storval Deep - a lake far to the north held at bay by Skull's Crossing - an ancient Thassilonian dam.

Suddenly, the tides had turned. Our heroes were mere playthings to Black Magga, who wrapped as many of them as she could in her barbed tentacles. A bite from her barbs drained Kraca's very essence along with Jaime's as she lashed out at Jaime, Slavla, and any others who dared to near her. When it looked as if Jaime had met his end, a puff of smoke and the smell of brimstone sealed his fate.

Malfeshnekor stood beside the grappled man. Lashing out with his sword however, Malfeshnekor struck down - not Jaime - but the Black Magga's tentacle. With one mighty sunder, the tentacle released it's grasp on Jaime. In response, the beast flung Malfeshnakor to the side, causing the man to fall to the ground - his infernal helmet falling to his side.

The infernal helmet however, was not an infernal helmet anymore. It was a tan, nondescript hat. A hat of disguise. Malfeshnakor was not a demon at all. The man's spined tail vanished, and for the first time, Jaime saw his true face. The man had beautiful features. Beautiful golden hair which shined in the sun, and amethyst eyes - matching Jaime's exactly. Malfeshnakor looked in every way like an older version of the young cleric. Malfeshnakor was Jaime's father.

The cleric could not believe his eyes. This was the man who had slain who he thought was his father those many years ago... Now lying at his feet. Not knowing what else to do, Jaime extended a hand to Malfeshnakor, trying to help the man up.

Malfeshnakor snarled. "No one kills my sons but me." And with that, he vanished.

As if the two were timed, The Black Magga - seemingly tired of these games, vanished beneath the water and fled. The rains had stopped, and the floodwaters were receding.

For now, at least, they had won.

The town of Turtleback Ferry cheered, and it was almost reminiscent of their days in the sleepy town of Saltmarsh. Once again, our adventurers were the heroes.

In their celebrations, Mayor Shreed offered the heroes a powerful restoration scroll from his treasury in exchange for one further favor.

"To the north lies Skull Crossing. It is the dam that holds back all of the Storval Deep. Even with these rainwaters, no flood like this should have ever happened, as the dam is equipped with floodgates to minimize the damage.

I'm not sure how the floodgates work, as the dam is also the home of a band of trolls. With these floodwaters arriving, and the appearance of Black Magga, a creature said to live in the Storval Deep north of this dam, it is clear that something must have happened at the dam.

It did not burst, for if it had, we would not have stood a chance. Something must be wrong with the floodgates though. Please, do us one last deed and head north to Skull's Crossing. Open the floodgates. Save our city from imminent destruction - I beg it of you noble heroes..."

What awaits our heroes next time... at Skull's Crossing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Runelords D&D: Twenty-Four Days

This series is a session-by-session recap of the Rise of the Runelords campaign over the course of the school year. The current party:

- Deanda, Elf Druid/Nature's Warrior
- Kiikii, Human Conjurer/Malconvoker
- Nakor, Human Transmuter/Knight Phantom
- Jaime, Human Cleric of Iomedae
- Kraca, Dwarf Monk/Ninja
- Slavla, Half Elf Barbarian/Fighter/Frenzied Berserker

DM Note: Our heroes had two weeks to do as they wished. I asked for player updates as to what they were doing during those two weeks. In response, for some of them I typed up information. I have reprinted that information here. PLAYERS - If you read this information, it is considered out-of-game. Do not metagame knowing information, unless they inform you of it in game.

Deanda visited the Mierani Forests to return the earrings. This is her story...

The cleaning of Fort Rannick went well, more or less. The stink of death still permeated the inner walls of Rannick, though the blood upon the outer fields had begun to wash away as the strange rains continued steadily. The outer walls of Rannick would need professional repairs to return to their former glory, and several of the inner rooms were now simply bare – as everything within them previously had been destroyed.

Taking to the skies, Deanda headed the Mierani forests. They were far, but as a hawk, the straight path was much quicker. Deanda felt a calming joy about her, as the wind whistled over her feathers high above the Varisian countryside. Down below the serene forests, winding rivers, and gently bustling towns of Varisia smiled back at her.

Finally, the forests of the Mierani Elves came into her vision. Deanda remembered the stories of them well, lush and green, pure and untouched by the civilizations of Man.

Surely, these were not the forests of her childhood.

The Mierani forests which once held her parent's home, now stood as blackened scars of former trees. Black tangled masses growing from a fertilizer of ashes now stood. A mark of death on the otherwise serene lushness of the Varisian countryside.

Searching through the shattered forest, Deanda was set upon by a small band of elves – nine in total. These elves may have once been the noble blooded of Mierani, but their hair was wild, and their eyes burned with anger. They easily saw Deanda’s true form through the guise she wore as a bird, and threatened to shoot if she did not present herself.

When Deanda did so, and presented the earrings, the elves fell to their knees. They apologized for their behavior and told Deanda the harrowing tale.

“They came at dawn. Thirty of them… Stone Giants all. They wished to pass to the shore, through our forests, but our Lord – your cousin – informed them that this was sacred land and they could not cross through it. Stone Giants are not evil creatures, and so our Lord approached the discussion as a kind one. But these Stone Giants were not good creatures. They… they slew him and swarmed our city. They were… too powerful. They uprooted entire trees. And they had… they had a dragon. The fires burned quickly. Your mother… your father and brother. They were visiting... They are all dead. I am sorry.”

“We were cowards, we fled at sight of the dragon’s flames. We nine are the last of the Mierani Elves. At least, so we thought. You are nobler in blood then all of us Lady Deanda. If you will have us, we wish to come with you. Our home is no more, and we have nowhere to go...” One of the older elves stepped forward. He bore a symbol on his tabard that none of the others did. “Lady Deanda, I am a member of the organization which you late family was. The Defenders of the Branch. If you can take us with you, I will gladly offer you membership. Though I am of low rank, I know of the initiation rituals, and am sure that your family’s spirits would be happy to see you join.” The elves looked to their new leader, waiting desperately for a reply…

Jaime officially pledged himself to the church of Iomedae, becoming a "blessed". He also joined the ranks of the Lightbringers. Jaime researched Iomedae. This is what he found...

Iomedae sees the world as a deadly place, filled with perpetual challenges and trials for those who battle for justice and defend the weak and innocent. Her followers should always act with honor and chivalry, and to uphold justice. Danger is to be faced head-on, with calm and resolve. Those who defeat evil are rewarded with Glory, while those who uphold the tenets of The Inheritor are rewarded with Virtue. The Inheritor's teachings are codified in a chivalric code known as the Iomedaean Code.

The Iomedaean Code
Duty to the People: This duty stresses courage, justice, mercy, valor, protection of the weak, and faithfulness to church superiors of officer of righteous law.
Duty to The Inheritor: This duty stresses obedience to Iomedae herself, devotion to the church, generosity, championing good against evil, putting the needs of the church and the faith above those of mortals.
Duty to a Lady: This duty pertains to the concept of courtly love, devotion to one's beloved, and respect toward all women in general.

A number of holy texts are venerated by the faith of Iomedae. The best-known work is likely The Book of the Code, a four-chapter work outlining the Iomedaean Code and providing examples of how one is expected to follow it. Another well-known work is the Book of Vows which details many of the vows taken by worshipers of Iomedae.

The faith of Iomedae is a very militaristic one, launching crusades against evil and championing causes. As one would expect, many soldiers, city watchmen, mercenaries, and others who make their living by the sword find themselves honoring The Inheritor.

Priests of Iomedae often travel the world on orders from their superiors to seek out and destroy evil. Older priests often work as strategists, military instructors, or judges. Their favored weapons are the longsword. Novices of Iomedae are known as the Blessed. Full priests are called the Glorious or, collectively, the Valorous Host. Other titles used by Iomedaean priests are Hero of the Third Rank, Hero of the Second Rank, Hero of the First Rank, Champion of Glory, Knight Gallant, Knight Courageous, Knight Valiant, and Knight Champion. Senior priests are called Paragons, while those who command armies are known as Paragon-Generals. These titles are separate from duty-titles such as postulant, novitiate, professed priest, cloistered cleric, affirmed priest, and templar. They are also separate from ranks within the temple hierarchy such as hierodeacon and abbot. In everyday use, senior priests are called Father or Mother, while lesser priests are known as Brother or Sister. There is also an elite order of priests known as the gloryswords. Priestly vestments include plate armor and red cloaks with silver trim.

A large numbers of paladins in Varisia follow Iomedae, as she herself is one. Because of this, and her utter dedication to Law and Good, paladins of Iomedae can be among the most devout, albeit overbearing, people on the Material Plane.

Affiliated Orders
The church of Iomedae is supported by numerous religious-military orders. One such order is the Lightbringers, a group devoted to the death of undead and evil outsiders. From the Lightbringers, many organizations spring, such as the Knights of the Chalice, and Sacred Exorcists. To join any of these organizations, a cleric or paladin must become an official member of the Church of Iomedae, not simply a follower. This involves monthly tithes, and the occasional call to duty. A follower of the Inheritor may sign up for membership at any temple to Iomedae.

Places of Worship
Temples, chapels, and shrines to Iomedae can be found throughout Varisia. Iomedae' temples are decorated with red, gold and silver trappings.

The Tests of Valor
Before advancing in rank, priests of Iomedae must clearly demonstrate their bravery, honor, and sense of justice. The exact nature of these tests varies, but they are revealed through prayer and divinely-inspired visions. They can range from tests of fortitude that can be completed within the temple to crusades against the forces of evil.

- - -

Jaime also research the way of death in this world. This is what he found...

When someone dies, they ascend to the Boneyard – Pharasma’s realm. The Boneyard is situated atop a gigantic spire which pierces the Astral plane. The sides of this spire are pierced with an endless number of hooks.

When a soul comes before Pharasma, if that soul worshipped a God in life, the soul sees their deity before them, instead of Pharasma. If their deity of choice allows them, they are sent to that deitiy’s realm to live out their afterlife there.

If the soul worshiped Pharasma and pleased her, she will allow them to serve in her palace of death. If they angered her, they are buried in the boneyard. Finally, if they did not serve any God or angered theirs, a soul is affixed to the Wall of Souls (the sides of the spire) for eternity.

Many say though that since Pharasma is not an evil Goddess she actually allows these souls to live out their afterlife in some neutral fantasy – trapped in a moment from their mortal life to live out their afterlife in peace.

- - -

Finally, Jaime received a vision...

As Jaime slumbers, he dreams... A book is open on the table before him. An image is painted across both pages, a small man surrounded by twenty raised pedestals. The book closes. “The Call of the Gods” is written in beautiful text along it’s long faded cover.


Nakor sent letters to his mother, and brother requesting their help at the Keep. Nakor planned to raise a small army and wished their help with training. His brother, Caleb, arrived. His mother however, was busy with Korvosan business and sent a letter in response. Nakor also sent a letter to Lord Mayor Grobaras of Magnimar making their ownership of the keep official. The return letters from Grobaras and Nakor's mother are below.

Nakor Islani,

I would send an official of the Magnimarian Guard to meet with you, though with Fort Rannick’s great distance from Magnimar, this is simply an impossibility. Word of your doings have reached my ear through letters sent by Mayor Shreed of Turtleback Ferry, and I commend you and your companions on a job well done. Though it is of course quite sad that the Black Arrows, a noble group of warriors, have fallen, I am glad to hear that a group of fine adventurers have taken up the Fort as their own.

From what I heard of Mayor Shreed, the recapturing of Fort Rannick was an equal effort by all involved. For this purpose, I am approving his decision to grant the Fort to the five of you, in addition to naming you all official Lords and Ladies of Magnimar. The only stipulation to gaining this land and this title is that any who wish must pledge themselves to the defense of Magnimar. I don’t think I have to tell you that, since Fort Rannick has always been on the outskirts of Magnimarian territory, it is rare that we would actually call upon your services, but those who wish to take on this reward nonetheless must lay claim to it’s responsibilities.

Any who do not wish to swear themselves to Magnimar’s defense will thusly forfeit their sixth of the keep’s ownership and their title of Lord or Lady.

As we do need a military leader there (given that I assume you are planning to pledge your loyalty to Magnimar and it’s defense as well), I am placing you – under Military Ordinance 22-38, as acting military leader of Fort Rannick. This means that you are being allowed to raise an army, on Magnimar’s behalf. You will be an acting Lieutenant of Magnimar, and will be allocated a small amount of supplies because of this. Keep in mind that this is an army of Magnimar, though you are being given duty to recruit, train, organize, and oversee it.

Also, though I am naming you as military leader of the Keep, this does not necessarily give you any more control of the keep then your fellow adventurers, who still earn an equal portion of it for their duties. You will however be in charge of all military happenings at the keep. I encourage you to have your fellow adventurers help out in the development of this army.

Your primary objective, if stationed at Fort Rannick, is to protect the countryside from the ogres of Hook Mountain. Be forewarned that these beasts are dangerous. Also, it is to ensure that the ogres of Skull’s Crossing are kept in line.

Finally, as the Keep has changed ownership, the six of you may choose to rename it if you wish. Please send me a letter shortly with the new name, along with which of your fellow adventurers also have sworn themselves to Magnimar’s defense.

Be well Lieutenant Islani. Please share the information in this letter with your friends.

Lord Mayor Grobaras

- - -


My son, thank you for your letter.

I hope this reaches you well, for outgoing and incoming post are now being monitored very heavily.

I hate to be telling you this through a letter, but the King is dead. He was killed.

The city has gone mad. Riots plague the streets.

Korvosa has locked it’s doors to any coming or going. And the Acadamae has locked it’s as well. None are allowed to leave, so I am afraid I must stay and do what I can to stop the madness.

It is a joy to hear of your newfound prestige.

Do not visit, you will not be allowed in the city.

~Your Mother

From the Desk of Professor Miranda Cartel
Instructor of Transmutation

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Runelords D&D: Retaking Rannick

This series is a session-by-session recap of the Rise of the Runelords campaign over the course of the school year. The current party:

- Deanda, Elf Druid
- Kiikii, Human Conjurer/Malconvoker
- Nakor, Human Transmuter/Knight Phantom
- Jaime, Human Cleric of Iomedae
- Kraca, Dwarf Monk/Ninja
- Slavla, Half Elf Barbarian/Fighter/Frenzied Berserker

You awaken to the smell of brimstone.

After a night of rest in Lucrecia's chambers - the lamia matriarch defeated - they were greeted by an unfriendly visitor at dawn. The two ravens chirped lightheartedly in the corner, the signals that Malfeshnakor was there. Instantly, swords were drawn and Jaime called out a challenge to the demon that had slain his father those many years ago. They all had their predictions about who this mysteriously cloaked infernal creature was, but for now, he was simply a voice in the darkness.

Malfeshnakor laughed at their conquests, stating that he could really care less whether or not they retook the keep. He did offer them a warning however. "If you start stepping on the toes of Stone Giants, then... you will have to be dealt with." With a chilling laugh, the voice was gone.

Making their way topside, our heroes carved through the giant's resistance at Fort Rannick. Heading to the top floor, they slew Jaagrath Kreeg - the pappy of the Kreeg Ogres. With Jaagrath defeated, and his magical human-slaying ogre-hook in hand, the heroes seiged the rest of the fort. They made quick work of Dorella Kreeg, one of the ogre casters, and swept their way through the rest of the keep - killing a twisted ogre painter in the process.

In their travels, they came upon a hidden compartment in the room of the former Black Arrow captain, Lamatar. The secret catche contained several love letters and poems, as well as a lock of what Deanda identified as nymph hair. Putting the pieces together, Jakardros determined that Lamatar must have had a nymph mistress, which would explain the occasional retreats he would take away from the fort proper. Most likely over to Whisperwillow, the nearby forest which was said to house many fae creatures.

The adventurers came upon one room where a group of ogres were fighting over a horse skull. Using some magical trickery, Nakor was able to mage hand the skull into one of the ogre's sacks which brought forth a quick and angry battle, leaving all of the ogres quite pathetically incapacitated.

Their assault was expected however, and when they made their way into the Keep's courtyard, they were met with an army of ogres. The brutes numbered over ten in total, their leader waving a large ladle in anger. With a warcry, both sides charged, and battle was joined beneath the pounding rain.

Spells were cast, creatures were summoned, arrows were fired, and blows were exchanged. Vale fell in the fight, as some of our heroes threatened to do as well. However, finally the battle was won, and Fort Rannick was free.

Riding back to Turtleback Ferry, the group brought good tidings. Though the Black Arrows were dead, Fort Rannick had been reclaimed. In return for this great deed, Mayor Shreed announced that from hereforth, the keep would belong to them, and if they wished, they would become Lords and Ladies of Magnimar.

Finally, our heroes had earned a rest.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Dice Were Everywhere...

With a cough and a sputter, Storyteller stumbled his way out from the shadows - a dull gray mist fading from this features as he blinked slowly - his eyes adjusting to the change in light. His gaze focused on those who stood before him. He sighed and shook his head.

"I suppose I have some explaining to do...

I woke myself an hour past dawn, as always, in order to take a walk and clear my head. As my feet reached the cool floor however, it happened. I could hear it as I opened my door, and as I brushed my teeth. The distant, yet distinct sound of a die rolling. It followed me as the day stretched onward. The sounds. The dice..."

Storyteller's eyes were wide as his hands gripped each other tightly. "I thought it was nothing. Maybe I'd stayed up too late. But it didn't stop. I couldn't focus. I failed tests in my classes, couldn't sit for more then a few seconds at the keyboard... Always the roll of the dice. Taunting me with failure.

So I decided to do something about it.

Late one night, the roll of dice woke me from my sleep. It had come from the room above, or so I thought. I climbed the stairs to the fourth floor, but they seemed to go on forever. Ahead of me always, was that infernal rolling. The smell of Cheetos and Mountain Dew began to permeate the staircase - burning my nostrils and beckoning tears. Still, I carried onward.

I met a goat on the staircase after my third day of journeying. The goat was wise, and offered me a riddle. I ate the goat, and with my newfound strength continued onward.

Finally, I came upon a door to the roof. A door that should not have been. A door that defied all I knew of reality. Yet here it stood. I knocked. Once. Twice. It swung open beneath my touch.

Beyond, the rooftop stretched to infinity, with the stars of the heavens high above. The roll of dice echoed from the endless gaming tables. I was drawn through the crowds, the Sun Chips, and the geeky laughter. I came to my table. The table of my life.

And there I was - a small figurine, red hair and all. The gridmap was blank, just lines and squares. I looked up to the man who stood across the table from me - who held a single die in his hand. He was cloaked in black and smelled vaguely of Pert Plus shampoo and conditioner. I asked, my voice shaking, 'What is this place?' He replied simply, 'This is the Game.'

I told the cloaked man, 'I must return, for I must blog, and pass word of this place to the people of the internet. I must tell them the truth!' To which the man replied, 'Very well, but when you do, you must tell them of all that is here. You see, it is actually quite a nice place. We have waterslides, and booths for every food and drink imaginable. And the lines are actually quite short.'

As I gazed out over the stands of food and drink, I saw that the man spoke true. Suddenly, I realized that the wise goat had left me quite thirsty. That was when the craving hit me.

Fruit Punch.

With no avail, I looked out in desperation over the thousands of drink booths, my throat aching for relief, my body begging for nothing more then the sweet release of Fruit Punch! Dismayed, I asked the man across the table from me, 'Sir, please tell me fast, where do I wait in line for Fruit Punch, for the goat has left me parched, and I am in need of respite.'

The man sighed, replying in a tone that was almost aching with sadness.

'There is no punchline.'

The end."

Amusingly enough, this story also can be adapted and used excellently if your character missed an RPG session to explain their absence. Now, back to work.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Avast! Internet Pirates!

Not to even mention Walmart pirates (but that's another story)...

Anyways, there's no real profound post here today, I just simply want to pass along a bit of knowledge that perhaps might make your day a little brighter.

If you have a Facebook account, you've probably noticed the new shenanigans they're trying to pull off with the layout. It's all a bunch of nonsense really.

But then, it all changed...

Step 1: Click the "Settings" button. It's in the dark blue header bar towards the right. Click directly on the "Settings" button, not on anything in the drop down menu.

Step 2: Choose the tab that says languages.

Step 3: Change your language to English (Pirate).

Seriously... do yourself a favor. Facebook just gained about 500 points in my book. Well done Captain Zuckerberg. Well done...

D&D: Riddle Me That!

Digging for riddles? I made a previous post with a bunch of D&D monster-based riddles (which no one even tried to answer. Here are some more riddles though, some of them easier, some of them harder. Some of them much harder.

A golden head without a thought
A golden tail as well
But a body have I not
Though futures I can tell.

When Dawn breaks o’er charted hills
I lie patient at your feet
All day I follow, escapeless still
Until the high sun you do meet
Or quickly vanish gone do I
When silver moon climbs up on high.

Lie there seas with no water
Coasts with no sands
The towns hold no people
And the mountains no land

If a man were to carry my burden
It would quickly break his back
I am poor as the poorest of beggars
Yet I leave silver in my track.

You are locked in a room
With no windows or doors.
You have a table and a mirror.
How do you escape?

Try your best! Also, as I mentioned in my last post, please let me know if you're interested in any topics! I'm interested in blogging for the people, so let me know if you have any burning questions, if you'd like me to expand upon anything I've already written, or if there's a brand new topic you'd like me to discuss. You can email me at, or you can just add a comment!

Happy riddling!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gamebuilding #3: Othercity

First and foremost, I know there are bunches and bunches of blogs out there to read, and goodness knows I read about fifty RPG blogs daily. Is there anything you, my wonderful (and quite attractive, if I do say so myself) readers would like me to do a blog post about? Let me know! If you really liked something I've posted about in the past, or would like me to continue a specific series I've delved into, let me know! Getting some feedback about what to post would greatly help me know what you want to read about!

Anyways, to the point...

As many of you may have noticed, I wrote a pair of rather vagues posts a while back here and here. I entitled these posts "Gamebuilding" for a reason, which ties back to the first post I ever made on this blog. One of my reasons behind crafting an RPG blog is to document my quest for publication! Over time I hope to submit adventures and material to several RPG magazines and publications, but the two posts you saw offer an introduction to my grand project.


Here's the first real pitch of this game, so let me know what you think!

Dear Diary,

Myth tells us of time's greatest cities... Atlantis. Babylon. Agartha. Places of fantastic construction, magical origin, and beautiful sights. The stuff of fairy tales, offered up to humanity as symbols of utopian hope and dreamlike wonder.

Every beacon though, however bright, casts a shadow. One fallen to forgetful pasts and dystopian ideals. This shadow, is Othercity.

Othercity is a world outside of our own. A seemingly endless reality of steel, stone, streets and buildings. Divided by districts and factions, it is a harsh place for all who live within it.

And then there's us.

To Earth, we are the lost. To Othercity, we are the Phasers. Nothing more then a bothersome thorn in the feet of Othercity's superiors. People looking for answers, people looking for truth, people looking to get home. Othercity has a system, but we operate outside of it. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we're special. Maybe it has something to do with what we can do here. Maybe it scares them. Maybe that's why they want to lock us up, or gun us down...

Some of the other Earth Phasers - Terrers they call us - say that Othercity was just another mythical location lost to time in idea and name. I think we've always known of Othercity though... just by a different name.

Welcome to Hell.

~Kayla Bradford

- - -

The way I'm envisioning Othercity is as a dozen or so different genres merging together all within this strange city. To name a few, there will be elements of Fantasy, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Post Apocolypse, Contemporary, Biopunk, and Superhero.

As a preview to further discussions of Othercity, here is a very quick briefing on each of the cultures/factions:

Wrakes: Law officials of Othercity, unnaturally strong and known to be ruthless and cruel, though much more likely to break your arm then the law.

Serpians: Othercity's gypsy population, you can't trust these drug-dealers any further then their forked tongues will reach.

Rasks: The rulers of Below, these rats will supposidely kill anyone for a price, if you can speak their language that is.

Kienta: A winged race of scientists. If bad looks could kill, these ladies could bring back the dead, not that they aren't trying to find out how to anyways.

Phasers: The chosen. The visitors. The invaders. The Terrers. No matter what you call them, they all have one thing in common. They're a long way from home.

Humans: In the hundreds of years of Phasers coming to Othercity, their "need-to-breed" has left thousands of half, quarter, or less "Humans" in their wake. The Phaser bloodline eliminates all Othercity characteristics in the child, leaving them "normal" in a city that prizes everything else.

Brights: [Data file currently inaccessible]

Coming soon... expanded culture/factions, Othercity's basic geography, and a lexicon of terms important to know in the Othercity world.

Also, I'm leaving the below in the post even though I didn't type it for one reason. Ginger Unity.

***This is proof that Betsy Fernsten (non D&Der) was here when [Storyteller] was writing this blog entry!! She however, did not interfere (much).***

Anyways, more to come on Othercity. I hope people are enjoying what they're seeing so far!

By the way, that fantastic picture above was made by Greywulf over at Greywulf's Lair. He's pretty much awesome so go check his blog out. Right now. DO IT!

Monday, September 22, 2008

LARPing: A Weekend In Pictures

Just got back from Steam & Cinders last night, and am happy to say it was a successful weekend. For those of you not familiar with what I'm talking about, Steam & Cinders is a LARP - or Live Action Role Playing game - that I work as a senior staffer for. You can learn everything you'd like to know (and probably more) about LARPS from my RPG posts. Specifically this one.

As a senior staff member I get to create and run plots, which is tons of fun. This weekend I got to play a Fire Spirit, a wacky chief engineer, and a native huntsman ritualist, not to mention the dozens of other things I found myself playing as the weekend went on. I may speak more about the event later, but for now, enjoy some pictures!

A Balihu vs. an Aniyonema. Who will prove victorious?

A scavenger and a diplomat out for a walk.

Yes, yes that is a Steampunk Watercooler.

A Jhandihari Merchant and an Aniyonema Totemic pose.

A chemist studying her notes...

As a last note, everything looks better in Sepia. That is all.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gone LARPing...

Well, I'm off for the weekend.

Off to hit things with fake weapons and run around the woods...

And to see the world in sepia...

See you Monday!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Use This Tavern!

Don't have time to create a tavern? Use mine!

The Silver Harp Tavern

The Silver Harp Tavern is often a way station for travelers, probably due to the fact that not only is it run by a pair of adventurers, but it also bears a large sign to the side of the door proclaiming “Adventuring Parties Welcome! Good Food! Warm Beds! Tasty Rumors!” The main chamber is an upscale dining hall with five large tables, a fireplace on the western wall, and a lifted stage to the east.

There always seems to be music playing the tavern, whether or not a performer is on stage. The floor is made of polished wood and the walls are covered in tapestries which depict various exploits of the two owners in their adventuring days.

This main chamber could fit between 20-30 people fairly comfortably, though it is often filled to a 50 person capacity if a well-known bard or storyteller is to be performing.

A long bar stretches along the back wall with a rather cheerful horned man with the legs of a goat mixing drinks, with a set of panpipes always around his neck. Every table is adorned with a large round candle, all of which seem to float an inch or so into the air. In the kitchen behind the bar every so often the sounds of crashing can be heard, but still the Silver Harp is known for its amazing food.

- - -


Basic Meal………….…………….…………1g
- Carrot and Mushroom Soup
- Honey Bread
- Smoked Boar

Full Meal……..………………………………2g
- Carrot, Mushroom and Onion Soup
- Honey Bread
- Spiced Krenshar
- Common Ale
- Sliced Pear

Deluxe Meal…………………………………10g
As Full Meal except:
- Sliced Peaches replace Sliced Pear
- Halfling Hazlenut replaces Common Ale
- Salted Salmon replaces Spiced Krenshar
- Add Hunk of Mushroom Cheese

- - -

In actual blog-worthy news, I am starting a very exciting reading project. As many of you know, I made a guest post a while back on Chatty DM's blog about how to make taverns more fun.

Well, for those of you who don't know I attend Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, and just the other day I was walking past the "Bucknell Authors" display in the campus bookstore and saw a book called "The World of the Tavern".

A book about taverns? By a Bucknell Professor nonetheless! It was destiny. Unfortunately, the book costs an arm and a leg, but luckily we had one in the campus library. So, I picked it up and plan on reading it over the next week or two. Hopefully you'll see some more tavern-related posts by me in the future with this unique insight. Maybe even an interview with the Professor who co-wrote it?

Happy Taverning!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Handout #1d100: Adding a Template

Every treasure horde needs something unique. Some groups may certainly be happy with just buckets and buckets full of gold, but sometimes a more unique sort of treasure is required. To some characters, a fully stocked library is just as valuable as any dragon's horde, but what can you give a player to appease their loot tooth?

Submitted for your pleasure is one "scroll" you can print out for your players. A ritual allowing them a chance at transformation into a half-celestial. This was written for 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons, but could certainly be adapted for any system. Many players would consider adding a template to their character better then treasure. I see such a ritual as a great roleplaying opportunity and a fun side-encounter. Enjoy!

Performing Transformations: An Experiment
by Malaki Tapprio

To alter not only the structure of one's body but the blood that flows through one's veins is a truly difficult feat, as it involves the body to be both disassembled and invariably reassembled with the assistance of powerful magicks. Altering merely the outer form of any object is simple, involving merely any illusionary or transmutation magicks to be successful. However, to change the species of a creature is a scrupulous task as it requires the very transformation of ones blood. This requires a much more powerful ritual, to be discussed later.

The most immediate issue approached when discussing self-transformation is that of the soul. Souls are a confusing subject as they are ethereal and therefore impossible to examine. This calls into question whether or not the soul carries important genetic information linked to the shape of a creature or merely that creature’s thoughts, memories, and emotional infrastructure. In my experiences I have found that it is impossible for any genetic information to be linked to this variable, as I have with my own eyes witnessed a soul enter the wrong body. This resulted in one creature literally seeing through the eyes of a different body.

The soul defined who they were, what they knew, their personality, and their memories, while the body was just a shell. However, while this might seem straightforward enough, and one would think merely calling a soul into a different body would perform a proper transformation, this is incorrect. Through several experiments on calling the souls of several Ratticus Norvegici into the bodies of various creatures, while the Ratticus Norvegicus still was able to function, and tried to eat food it was used to, the creature failed to use any of its new body’s abilities.

For example, when the soul of a Ratticus Norvegicus was called into the body of a Pan Troglodytes it did not make use of any of the Pan Troglodytes natural abilities, such as climbing. This works in the same way that trading souls between two humanoids would not allow them to use each other's learned or natural abilities or magicks. It is rumored that the druid cabals have capabilities of doing such reincarnations, but I have heard that it is unreliable at best.

When the soul is not in it's host body and is merely a ghost in a shell, it loses its ability to access any functions beyond those that are basic. This proves that the soul, while having no sway on the shape or makeup of a creature, when removed from its host body loses these functions. Along this line of thinking I have deduced that any changes of form must be made to the host body in order to fully become said creature. The soul however, having no sway on the appearance of a creature should be removed fully before any transformations take place. This is due to the fact that the soul is a very delicate variable, and is subject to possible change should it be present during the actual transformation. Despite what happens to the body, when the soul is called back it will recognize it’s host body as it’s own and reattach properly, now binding to the new shape and genetic makeup, allowing the user full access to all special functions of the new form.

Therefore it is conclusive that to properly transform one creature into another, and to attain all special abilities such as magicks, longevity or the ability to fly, first the soul must be removed from the host body. Following this, any and all transformations to the body must be made. For convenience sake, I suggest cutting the host body into very small bits so the body will already be in it’s lowest form (several hundred pieces) and the blood will be readily accessible and able to be altered if an inner change is required. Transmutation spells can be cast at this time to alter physical appearance.

Following all necessary transformations, the soul may be called, and reattached to its new body. Recognizing the body as it’s host body, the soul will make the proper changes and readily bond to the body, infusing the new shell with the memories, and emotions of the original person. Since the soul recognizes the body as its host, it will make the proper accommodations to allow most if not all of the new body’s functions to be activated and readily used. Along the lines of retaining magicks, magicks are tied to the body, therefore as long as nothing is taken away from the body, only changes, magick users will not lose their spells.

To properly “alter” the blood of a creature in their broken-down state, in the case of completely replacing blood or creating a mixture, it is not possible to merely remove the blood from the broken creature and replace it, rather, the blood must be magically replaced. If any substances are added to a corpse from which the soul has been torn, and the soul is called back, the creature reforms, despite where its blood may be, leaving the added substance behind. The blood therefore must be magically replaced or added to so the body recognizes these substances as now part of the body. This way, when the body is raised after the soul is reattached the substances stay with the body, and indeed, the very genetic substance of the creature is altered.

For example, if you wanted to infuse a human with troll blood, after removing the human’s soul a powerful spell must be used to replace the human blood with troll blood and to bind it to the body. When the soul is called and the body raised, the body would recognize the troll blood as part of the body, and would take the place of the removed human blood. The creature would appear normal, like a human, but with troll blood, abilities, and natural magicks running through it in addition to any emotions, memories and magicks that the human had before the transformation. However, any troll abilities based on the structure of the trolls body would be inoperable unless the humans body structure was also changed during the transformation. In essence, to change both the blood and the body, two powerful spells, most likely drawn from the transmutation path of magick would be required.

In the case of making half-breeds, the alteration of blood is slightly different, and easier. Instead of completely removing the blood of the original creature, you need only to bind the blood of the new creature with that of the original. For example, along the same lines if you wanted to make a human half-troll, after removing the soul, a ritual would be done to bind each drop of the trolls blood with a drop of the human’s blood. This is easier because no additional spell is required to bind the new blood to the body, as the bound blood will reform with the original blood.

The specificities of blood for distinct creatures are a hindrance however in the sense that blood cannot be made my magical means. So far, the only discovered way to perform such a blood transfusion is with real blood, usually acquired by killing the creature to which it belongs. This comes with problems though, because if the creature were to be raised after the transformation took place the blood may very well be ripped out of its new host’s body and cause irreparable damage. In the case of creating half-breeds however, some hopeful information has been found.

It appears that if both creatures are willing, a magical compromise can be made. If the souls of two creatures are removed, for example a troll and a human, and magick is cast to bind half of the trolls blood to the human’s, the same effect as before would be possible in the creation of a half-breed. However, to keep the troll alive, half of the human’s blood may be equally bound to the troll’s. In this case, both creatures would be able to live; only two full-bloods would become two half-breeds.

The experiment will be tested on intelligent creatures for the first time in history upon myself, Malaki Tapprio. I will attempt to become half-celestial by bonding with an Archon. Archons interact highly with humans and are also preachers of wisdom, knowledge and aid. My current plan is to find one through my prayers who wishes to be more in touch with the mortal realm and to offer the transference of blood as a suggestion. One candidate is Vretil, who specifically follows the aspects of knowledge; however he is a leader and such a sacrifice on his part I could not even ask. Though some of the angels under him may be willing. The ritual will be performed as followed:

Step 1: The assembled will pray.

Step 2: I will perform a ritual to consecrate and purify the land, so as to make the land both suitable for the ritual, free from unwanted interference, and pure enough for the Archon to set foot on.

Step 3: I will perform a ritual to allow the Archon to come into the Material Plane.

Step 4: We shall both be prepared for the ritual. Our bodies will be cleansed of any possible taint, all equipment shall be removed, and all others, save those needed to cast spells and oversee the ritual, will leave the area.

Step 5: The assembled will pray.

Step 6: Two sacrificial daggers shall be covered in acid. We shall both simultaneously perform the art of righteous sacrifice. Our blood shall fall by our own hands, and in one strike our souls will be removed from our bodies.

Step 7: A Transmuter of great power shall perform a ritual using purified components in order to provide a transference of half of our blood to each other, binding it to our remaining blood.

Step 8: A Transmuter of great power (not necessarily the same one), shall again call upon the their magicks to alter the structure of my body to one that can properly withhold the blood of a celestial being. Such changes will include wings and other adaptations connected to flight. Other possible changes may include hair and eye color.

Step 9: The assembled will pray.

Step 10: Two Clerics of great power will call each of our souls back to our respective bodies. They will bind with our new blood, and the structural changes to my body.

Step 12: We will all pray and thank the Gods for their guidance in this feat.

More information concerning the effects of this ritual are forthcoming, notwithstanding my horrible, horrible death.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Runelords D&D: Paradise Lost

This series is a session-by-session recap of the Rise of the Runelords campaign over the course of the school year. The current party:

- Deanda, Elf Druid/Nature's Warrior
- Kiikii, Human Conjurer/Malconvoker
- Nakor, Human Transmuter/Knight Phantom
- Jaime, Human Cleric of Iomedae
- Kraca, Dwarf Monk/Ninja
- Slavla, Half Elf Barbarian/Fighter/Frenzied Berserker

Having destroyed once and for all the foul beasts at the Graul Farm, the task of retaking Fort Rannick has fallen to our heroes. The three remaining Black Arrows stood ready to fight by their side, but what would be waiting for them in the keep beyond...

Following their victory over the Ogrekin Hillbillies, the party along with their four newest companions, fell back to Turtleback Ferry for supplies.

As they rested in Turtleback however, regaining strength and selling the treasure they'd found, Deanda happened upon an incredibly unsettling finding. As a commoner bent down to pick up a box of supplies, the druid spied a strange tattoo on the small of his back - the Sihedron Rune.

Approaching the man, the party quickly allowed their tone to become accusing as the man tried to hide the fact that he had any tattoo at all.

With a few... encouraging words from Nakor however, along with a shoulder squeeze by Slavla, the man - a hunter by the name of Tay'el - quickly told his story.

Apparently, there used to be a gambling barge which operated on Claybottom Lake which entertained many of Turtleback Ferry's male citizens.

The barge was run by a woman named Lucrecia, an elegant woman who had offered this man the tattoo as a sign of favor. Tay'el claimed that Lucrecia only offered this tattoo to the customers she preferred, and that it was used to avoid paying a cover charge to board the gambling boat.

Tay'el admitted that he had hid the tattoo initially because his wife would be furious knowing that he had gone to the gambling barge, a place called Paradise. But our heroes were much more concerned with something else. They had seen many copies of the Sihedron Rune before, and this one looked almost identical to the ones scribed onto the victims of the Sihedron Sacrifices before they were killed. The party wished to know who else had been inscribed with the tattoo, but the man said he didn't know since they were told to keep the tattoos secret.

Heading to the local chapel of Erastil, the group tried to learn what they could of the barge from Father Shreed, the town's mayor. He said that the barge had burned up in a fire a week or two ago, though no one was said to be aboard except for the barge's elegant matron - Lucrecia. The barge supposidly sunk to the bottom of Claybottom Lake, taking Lucrecia with it.

While this questioning happened, Slavla was doing some investigating of his own - though he didn't know it - as he seduced one of the waitresses at Bottoms Up. Surprisingly, the waitress had worked as a serving girl on the barge while it was in operation, and it wasn't long before the two were in a backroom, and Slavla found a similar tattoo on the girl's ankle. Several minutes later, Slavla made his way back into the common room, only to find the rest of the group seeking out the very girl he'd just seduced, as they'd heard about her working on the barge. Slavla smiled, gathered the questions they needed answered, and made his way to the back room to engage in some "pillow talk" about the girl's former place of employment.

After some private questioning the group found out that the barge was mostly staffed by unseen servants, though Lucrecia certainly ran the show. Apparently, the process of inscribing the tattoo was accompanied by a strange poem which Lucrecia would say in a foreign tongue. After Nakor recited a few lines of Thassilonian, the woman nodded, indicating that this was the language Lucrecia had used.

She was also able to point out that Lucrecia must have been incanting some kind of spell or ritual, as the weight of her words was not unlike Nakors as he cast detect magic on the tattoo. Even though the tattoo did not generate magic, it was clear that the image was part of some kind of magical ritual.

With this unsettling knowledge, the group decided that there was little they could do about the strange state of affairs in Turtleback Ferry yet. First, they had to travel to Fort Rannick. So, off the group marched - traveling for half a day before the reached the beaten and battered fort.

After watching the fort for the rest of the day, the group hatched a plan. Seeing as the new barracks build outside was foolishly crafted from wood, the group could easily set it ablaze. Then, as the burning barracks would form a distraction, they could make their way into the hidden caves through a waterfall entrance to the south-west of the fort.

When dawn came, Deanda took the form of a bird and flew to the barracks. Laying a talon upon the door, Deanda willed the wood to bend and shape itself, soon becoming a solid wall where the door had once been. To the cries from the 25 ogres within, Deanda summoned a crackle of lightning from the skies before setting ablaze the firewood beneath the structure, effectively making it look like a stray lightning bolt had set the barracks on fire.

Retreating, the group made their way to the waterfall and climbed into the inner caves.

After making their way across a rickety bridge, the group came upon a crypt within which Kraca faced off against an anguished spectre which sucked the very life out of him. Jaime, holding his holy symbol high, was able to bring about the final death of the creature, filling it with the holy power of his Goddess.

Shaken but not deterred, the group made their way down to the lower caves.

Soon, they came across a room filled with shocker lizards. These, the Black Arrows had said, were common creatures which bred in the keep's lower chambers. Finding themselves in cramped quarters with a slowly advancing swarm of lizards, the group acted quickly. Kiikii filled the chambers with thick swirling sand which burned at the lizards, while Deanda covered the walls and ceiling which the lizards clung to with hidden spikes. Through their combined efforts, the weak lizards didn't stand a chance, and quickly met their end.

Advancing further, the group found a small door which led into the jailer's den. What was a jailer's den on the map however, was hardly what they'd been expecting. The floor had been covered with silks, blankets and pillows, while the air was filled with the smell of incense. A woman who could only be described as elegant beckoned them in, introducing herself as Lucrecia.

The woman was no fool, and understood the predicament she found herself in. She made no intention of lying to the heroes and pretending to be anything that she wasn't, stating simply that she had a proposition for them. She offered them a place at her side, rather then against her.

"You're clearly capable individuals, and I just figure you'd rather work for the side in all of this that will actually be winning. Our side. Besides... Mokmurian would simply love to meet you." Most of the party seemed to be dead set against the woman's tricks, though Nakor seemed to want to see what she wanted to say.

The woman quickly noticed Kaven Windstrike, one of the Black Arrows who had traveled with them and laughed. Amused, she thanked Kaven for delaying his group of Black Arrows on their mission those many days ago so that the Fort could be taken so easily. At this, Jakardros flew into a rage and charged at his former companion. Battle was joined.

With a strange laugh, the woman's body transformed as her legs were replaced by a reptilian snake tail. Lucrecia was a Lamia Matriarch, just as Xanesha had been, and she was no less deadly. Lashing out at Nakor with her rapier and dagger, the man was nearly dropped as she drained his very wisdom away with each strike.

Kiikii summoned his fiendish ape to try and hurt the woman while the rest of the party tried their best to fell the Lamia Matriarch. Lucrecia was no simple creature however, as she lashed out with both blade and spell. She rattled the heroes with a lightning bolt, before dropping Slavla to his knees in laughter through her hideous laughter spell.

Just when the heroes thought they were getting the upper hand, Lucrecia cast shield on herself, but even the buffed up defense was not enough for Kikii's orbs of acid. Seeing her end in sight, Lucrecia through open the door behind her and took her normal shape, stepping through it. Would our heroes reach her before the woman turned and ran? Would Lucrecia get away?

Well, rather then steal their thunder, I'll just let the heroes tell you how it ended!

- - -

DM Notes: (These are player-safe, no spoilers)

What the party seemed to enjoy

- I think there was some great roleplaying that happened in Turtleback Ferry after the Sihedron Rune was discovered. The party seemed to really enjoy interrogating the various citizens in their... unique ways. What was just an information hook turned into a great set of roleplaying encounters.

- Planning the assault on Rannick worked well as the party learned more about the keep the more they planned it out, rather then just charging in.

- Proving victorious against the shocker lizards was actually a really big point of excitement at the table. The swarm was a true threat, but when the party's careful strategy worked with flying colors it was certainly a moment of celebration.

- I think everyone enjoyed my "special treasure" at the end of the session. Who needs in-game gold when you can have chocolate gold coins!!!

What I could have done better

- I had planned to stat out each of the NPC's so that a player could take on their stats. I didn't have an opportunity to do this, but since they still have all of Rannick to get through, I think I'll be able to do this for next session and I think it will work excellently.

- There was an encounter I had wanted to run between Turtleback Ferry and Fort Rannick, but skipped it due to time constraints. I wish I had been able to plan something shorter though as it seemed like an abrupt jump.


I think it's important every game to let one or two characters take the spotlight. Every session, I try to give someone a chance to shine. I try not to spread myself too thin, and try to focus on a different player or pair of players each session. All of the players have a chance to strut their stuff during each session in different ways though, even when they may not realize it.

- Slavla got to flex his muscles as always, but this session he actually got to be one of the party's spokespersons! Usually Slavla is the last person to talk for the group, but he proved key in learning a lot of information about the Sihedron Rune in Turtleback Ferry through his own special means of interrogation. I loved the way this encounter played out and I think Slavla really got to shine.

- Kiikii's skills contributed majorly to every battle that the party came across. Against the shocker lizards and Lucrecia, his spells helped to completely scale back the encounters. I feel like Kiikii always contributes in a major way but the party probably would have been in deep trouble this session if it wasn't for him, and I think they noticed that.

- Though it wasn't as big a spotlight, Deanda single-handedly took the torch to 25 ogres. It was a short encounter since it was so well-planned but through her mad druid stealth skills, she was able to turn a potentially disastrous encounter into a cakewalk.