"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."
THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Friday, October 18, 2019
Thursday, October 17, 2019
- the player characters needed to have emotional stakes; the old plot hook of being hired at Gimpy’s simply wasn’t going to work. They had to need something that only participating in this episode would provide them.
- they needed an antagonist beyond merely the Lunars, something that cast doubt over the entire adventure.
- there would have to be some crisis, some stakes-raising twist, to turn the climax from “yet another big battle” into something really compelling.
- Runes: Harmony, Beast, Spirit
- Shaman and White Bull Spirit Tradition leader
- Goals: To unite the Tribes of Prax against the occupying Lunar forces.
- Notes: Yes…that Argrath. Argrath White Bull is the cliche riddle wrapped in an enigma and packaged in mystery. A Sartarite, he was found and taken captive alone on the plains of Prax by the Bison Tribe, who made him a slave. At the time he was just fifteen. Over the next five years of captivity, he stunned his captors by mastering their language, their customs, and more disturbingly, their magic…almost intuitively. Tribal spirits swarmed to the young outsider, embracing him as their own. When he heard the legend of the White Bull from the tribal elders, Argrath announced he would seek out the spirit and free it, much to the mocking amusement of the tribesmen. Then he did exactly that…his body cold and dead for three days and three nights while his spirit went out to find and bring back the Bull. When he returned with the spirit, much of the tribe fell on their knees to him. He was quickly accepted and trained into a shaman, and founded the White Bull Spirit Society. Argrath wandered Prax for two years after this, approaching other tribes and inviting him into his society, slowly building an underground army, a tribal confederation unlike anything seen in Prax in ages. In 1618 he relocated to the Big Rubble in Pavis, from which he leads his society.
- Roleplay Notes: Think Gandhi. Think Buddha. Think “deep, mystical, shamanic wise man.” For a young man of 24 years he seems ancient, with a gaze that seems to stare right through the Mundane World into the Spirit Plane. He has the same annoying habit as Starbrow of speaking in pronouncements (“you will do this,” “you are going to do that”) but when he does it, it comes off prophetic instead of imperious. In playing him, keep the Harmony Rune in the front of your mind. He is a uniter, a peace-maker, a healer. People come to him broken and he fixes them. They come to him drifting, and he gives them purpose. His society turns members of different tribes into the same tribe (their animals become albino as a sign of this shared unity). Now, if it seems odd to you that a man of peace is building an army, buckle-up buttercup, because it all gets weirder with the next entry…
- Runes: Air, Mastery, Motion
- Sartarite Wind Lord, Weaponmaster, Teacher, and Adventurer
- Goals: To personify Orlanth Adventurous, to be a thorn in the Lunars’ side.
- Notes: Sharpsword turned up in New Pavis two years ago, a Sartarite exile with a taste for adventure, ale, and attractive young people (of both genders). Charismatic, ridiculously charming, and just a little bit wicked, he is almost too much of a swashbuckler to be in a Bronze Age heroic fantasy setting…yet there he is. Sharpsword proved himself as a Rune Lord to the Wind Voices of the city, and to the adventurering regulars at Gimpy’s as a swordsman to be reckoned with. His mastery of styles, especially Wind and Dragon, is deadly. He regularly makes forays into the Big Rubble, sometimes alongside other adventurers like Krogar Wolfhelm, Wolfhead, and Griselda, sometimes alone. He has also joined the White Bull Society.
- Ropleplay Notes: Garrath Sharpsword is an adventurer who gets off on the thrill of danger. He is a risk taker. He puts others in harm’s way. He is a shameless flirt who sees lovemaking as a sport, and plays it with both attractive men and women. However he is also loyal, dedicated to Orlanth, and a man of his word. Like Batman and Bruce Wayne, you will never see Garrath and Argrath in the same room together (you do the math). As the anagram indicates, there is more to Garrath than meets the eye. In playing him play up the mischievous twinkle in his eye, the sly grin, the dashing charisma.
- Runes: Air, Mastery, Motion
- Adari Wind Lord, Adventurer, Rebel
- Goals: Vengeance against the Lunars for reasons he refuses to speak of.
- Notes: Another Wind Lord associated with the Orlanth cult hiding in the Rubble.
- Roleplay Notes: As the original Cradle pointed out, Jarang will speak extensively about Orlanthi honor, catalogue the long list of crimes committed by the Lunar Empire, and talk about the rich plunder this adventure offers (he will not say that part in front of Garrath, who expressly forbids any plundering of the Cradle
- Runes: Darkness, Death
- Dark Troll Zorak Zorani Rune Lord, lover of Queen Rebecep of the Javis Clan
- Goals: Kill. Rend. Maim. Tear. Fight Chaos. Serve the Queens of the Javis Clan.
- Roleplaying Notes: Being in the room with Javis Gan should feel like being a shark tank with a great white, or a cage with a tiger. You can never be comfortable in his presence. He is part of the Troll defense of the Cradle, however, and will channel his rage towards the Lunars.
- Runes: Fertility, Harmony, Magic
- Nymph of Life, protectress of the Child and Cradle commander
- Goals: Defend the Child.
- Roleplaying Notes: Inhumanly beautiful, slim, with pupil-less eyes and a melodic voice. She does not walk, she floats, her hair billowing around her as if she were underwater. The player characters will only encounter her if they go below decks on the Cradle. She understands that they are there to defend the Child, and if asked why the giants send their infants to Magasta’s Pool, she will answer only “They seek to save the Future.”
- Runes: Air, Motion, Mastery
- Wind Voice, the Rebel High Priest of Orlanth Rex in Pavis
- Goals: To restore the worship of Orlanth in the city
- Notes: Orvost is the grandson of Dorasar, the Sartarite founder of New Pavis (1550 ST). When the Lunars took the city, the Orlanth temple was outlawed and the previous High Priest killed. Orvost escaped with the sacred temple regalia into the Rubble, and has lived in hiding there since. The Lunars have placed Faltikus the Good (a worshipper of Maru, a storm god in Talasar) in charge of the city’s “Air Temple,” as closing the temple entirely was not an option (it is responsible for bringing the life-giving rains to the city). For the Sartarite true-believers, however, Orvost is the true spiritual heart of the community. he carries with him the sacred Lightning Bands of Saronil and the Silver Mantle.
- Roleplay Notes: Orvost is, perhaps, a bit too obsessed with Faltikus and the Pavis Air Temple for his own good. He speaks of the Lunar official priest as “the Imposter,” and even “Gbaji.” In his own mind he sees himself as Arkat, meant to bring the false priest down. Regardless, he is a good and true Voice of Orlanth and faithfully sees to the spiritual needs of those who come to him in the Rubble.
- Runes: Fire/Sky, Life, Truth
- Goals: Teol has promised him the ability to but his freedom at some point in the future, an option he likely would not have under a Lunar master. This makes him surprisingly loyal to Teol.
- Notes: No more than seventeen, his pale skin tanned by the sun of Prax, his hair pale blonde and eyes sky blue…is from the Lunar Heartlands. He is originally from a well-placed Dara Happan family that fell afoul of a Dart Competition. The adults in his family were sentenced to death, the children to slavery. Orin was sold to a wealthy Lunar magistrate soon after assigned to Pavis, and lost by his master in a dicing match. That is where Teolrian bought him. The boy is useful because he is fluent in Trade, New Peolrian, and now Praxian, knows arithmetic, and can read well. While obviously a Lunar, he is by no means a Lunar. He recognizes the Red Goddess and the Emperor as the supreme powers in the world, but culturally he is Dara Happan. He sees the Red Goddess as something that happened to his people, not something they have become. His father taught him that one day the Sun would vanquish the Moon…which is in part the kind of heresy that destroyed his family.
- Runes: Moon, Darkness, Spirit
- Seven Mothers Jakaleel Devotee (“…the Mistress of Black Magic, Keeper of Secrets…(h)er sub cult explores the horrors and solaces contained in the secrets of the Dying Moon, and has some close associations with the Blue Moon”)
- Goals: To redeem her failure by bringing “Starbrow’s Children” to justice.
- Notes: Ashagara never acts without consulting the Runes. She keeps a set on her person at all times in a black pouch at her belt. These are carved on the bones of her female ancestors. No one knows what she looks like. She is always covered from head to toe in black (robes, tattered cloak, deep hood), her face, hands, arms, etc are wrapped in black linen bandages. She wears lead claws on her fingers (these are like thimbles with long razor-sharp nails).
He grows very silent at this, his face flushing. “I…Kalliva I am not…I mean that is to say…” He falls silent again, then after an interior struggle forces himself to speak. “I was sold as a slave before I could take the manhood rites. I am still…a child. This Runespear has offered me the adulthood rites of my people this Sacred Time at the Pavis Sun Dome. I want…I want to be a man. It didn’t matter to me when I was a slave. I was nothing then. I never dared imagine I might have a future or…a woman…” He flushes again. “You freed me. You took the collar from my neck. But I still want your permission to do this. To go and become a man. Then I will come back to you.” He stammers. “I mean, of course, all of you.”
He sits beside Beralor on a low stone bench, noticing Beralor eyeing his sword. “Ah…have you never touched Iron before?” He hands Beralor the blade.
- Garrath Sharpsword, painted blue with sacred woad, is Orlanth
- Savdor the Copyist, is Lhankor Mhy
- Ystara the White-Handed is Chalana Arroy
- Vorgar the Listener is Issaries
- Three masked figures, whose identities remain unknown, play Ginna Jar, Flesh Man, and Eurmal
Roleplay out the reunion, but it needs to conclude with an important scene. At some point Affar needs to pull Beralor aside and confide in him. “Garrath has accomplished so much since he was the boy I knew…a Wind Lord, a champion. But Beralor…he is not the same person I knew. Something is different behind those eyes. Promise me you will be careful around him.”
- Unless you are using the Pass/Fail system, the difficulty here should be High (Base +6). This battle is an Extended Contest.
- The cradle defends itself. Once the assault begins the dragon prow breathes forth streams of flame. The wooden faces howl obscenities and curses in the giant tongue, their eyes firing bolts of fire and doom on those who dare profane the cradle.
- The player characters first contend with arrows and javelins being hurled at them, then with opponents who manage to get aboard through luck or magic. These boarders must be killed or driven off.
- This conflict is primarily a physical one; the Lunars are saving their magics for the second assault.
- This is the big, epic battle. It is an Extended Contest. Assume a Very High (Base + Mastery) difficulty.
- This time there is a great deal more magic. Lunes are summoned and unleashed, bolts of magical force fire from the spheres and smash against the walls of the cradle. Arrows rain upon the deck.
- The real purpose of the attack though is to distract the defenders from the real obstacle (see below) and to strip the vessel of its protections.
- The player characters may decide to attack the platforms with the magicians. If they can do this, it is possible to avert the disaster below…