Friday, October 31, 2014

13th Age: The Men of Kadamar - Rhadamanthos

The entrance to the Daltosarian Tomb, the burial ground of the old Crusader Krigon who fell in battle during the reign of the Kaziaak, Empress of Radamanthos.
The World of Men: Radamanthos

Humanity rules over a great continent, driven by the ancient Dragon Empire of Radamanthos. Radamanthos is ruled by the Emperor Sonn’Khuul himself, a near immortal personage who seems to be almost an Elder Lord unto himself by some, for Sonn’Khuul is nearly a century old but does not look a day over forty. His near-immortalty is ascribed to a folk legend about his early days as a knight-prince in service to his father, when he journeyed to the Feywild and drank the ambrosia of the gods with Tiraenis herself. This imbued him with unnaturally long and healthy life as well as making him stronger and wiser than most men. His unchallenged rule has served well for a century now, though many forget that the first fifty years of the empire was won through blood and tears. When the Army of the Burning Sun threw its lot in with Radamanthos everything changed, and the empire consumed all of the kingdoms around it until it was a vast, monolithic empire containing all civilized lands save for the reclusive Hiramash of the empty lands, and the barbarian kingdoms of Sudirak and Ghoval.

Radamanthos encompasses a region that was once the dominion of over a dozen separate kingdoms, and it was like this for centuries; over the last three centuries these kingdoms have been gradually conquered and assimilated, with the last four falling under the reign of Sonn’Khuul. The world today is a great empire with fifteen provinces defining the old kingdoms. The kingdoms, now client states, still operate largely independent in their own regions, but answer to regional governors appointed by the emperor who utilize one each of the fifteen divisions of the Imperial Army to enforce their rule.

The twelve great cities of Khadamar:

Bastion – throne of the empire of Radamanthos

Thorn – the city of the Deep Wood

Pinna – the mountain enclave of the draconians

Noctem – the southern city along the cost of the Ashen Sea where the distant Sudiraki rule

Sidereus – the capitol of the high elves

Manis – the ruinous city along the edge of the Great Chasm where even the empire holds no sway

Infernum  – the fortress city of the Orc Queen

Incendium  – the desert city of the Chamarinthians to the deep south

Aurora – the city of philosophy, second largest city of the Empire

Tenebris – the drow city of shadows and seat  of Unseelie power

World’s End – the city of the machine culture, edge of the world and dominion of The Shadow.

Cradle – the heart of the empire, great city of man and fabled birthplace of humanity

Halo 2 Anniversary Trailer

The Master Chief Collection is going to compile all four Halo titles featuring Spartan John 117, alias Master Chief. To date Halo 2 has been the rogue title, not updated for more contemporary consoles unlike the original Halo. Now...we've got the anniversary edition coming up, and 343 Studios unveiled a trailer for the Halo 2 revamp...and what a trailer! If these are all from the new in-game cut scenes (and it looks to me like they are) they really went out of their way to spice Halo 2 up. Impressive stuff....makes me that much more keen on seeing if the same quality of effects go into the forthcoming Halo: Night Fall TV series.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

13th Age: Other Powers of Kadamar

The legendary Moon Pools are said to have been created during the Exodus when the enlightened of Hiramash shed their mortal coils and became Astral Travelers. The pools induce visions and dreams of prophetic nature on certain nights.
Other Powers of the Land

The Elder Lords are not the only icons of the world  who pull the strings of power. The Orc Queen  Saerithica seeks the power of the demon gods to make her people rulers of the world. The Dragons scheme amongst themselves in the Conclave ruled by The Three,  Emperor Sonn’Khuul terrifies the land with his might as the ruler of men, while in the Deep Woods the High Druid Zadamas dwells, destroying any who would encroach on his land. Last but not least, The Priestess Adartha, chosen of the gods, dwells in the high temple at the Capitol of the empire, Bastion.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

13th Age: Gods of Kadamar

Fizuriak, the loyal agent of the Lich King of Lost Morgos, seeks the hidden knowledge of the Sky Pyramids

The Elder Lords and the Gods

There are a handful of gods still worshipped in the world, but they are remote and feared by most; the truth is, at one time there was a great and ancient pantheon of deities, but the first Elder Lords rose to power and shattered the grip of power the gods held on the mortal plane by seizing control of a cosmic artifact known as the Crown of Infinity. Ownership of the crown not only barred the gods from the plane of man but also allowed the Elder Lords to forge the Planes from the astral essence. However the crown proved too powerful, and it tore the Elder Lords of the mythic age apart. It would be three thousand years before the Elder Lords  recovered the crown, hidden in the Planes forged in the Mythic Age, and again it led to a civil war amongst the powerful near-immortals of the world. These Elder Lords suffered greatly in their competition for power, but it was the sorcerer king Hathakor, the great Lich Obsidaros and the Fay Queen Tiriaenis of that era who saw fit to dispel the Crown of Infinity to a tomb buried so deep that it could never be found again…or so they hoped. This was a thousand years ago.

 The Crown of Infinity remains a potent force even today, buried in the deeps of the earth. The Drow, even eager for power still seek out the Crown, searching the depths with their vast armies of darkness. Meanwhile, the Elder Lords officially stand resolute in the ages-old agreement that the Crown must remain out of their hands, even as they privately scheme to find its magically hidden location.

The Crown itself continues to influence the world around it, despite being hidden away. The Crown is a fountain of eternal creation, and it endlessly sends out waves of energy that create ripples in the Planes, at the tenebrous gaps in reality where such emanations spill over into the Mortal Plane. Unknown to the Elder Lords (though suspected by some) the Crown continues to create new realms of existence out of whole cloth. It should not be “directed” to do so but somehow it is….as if there is some guiding force of will pushing the artifact to form new realms and beings. Who exactly is influencing the Crown is a mystery.

The gods persevere in their remote divine kingdoms, a part of the planar realms. Still, they all share a great desire to return to the mortal plane and affect the world directly, and create minions, send messages to oracles and prophets, imbue mortals with divine power and otherwise seek to influence the world to do their bidding. The greatest goal of all would be the destruction of their enemies, the Elder Lords, and the restoration of the Crown of Infinity to its rightful place at the height of the Temple of Datares on Mount Dol.

The gods, meanwhile, remain distant and unassailable forces, but they exist beyond the spectrum of the Planes, unable to directly influence the mortal realm. Instead the gods have elected to spread their power indirectly, through their followers. The gods include the following:

Helion, the Burning Light – the ever-burning flame of the sun is the nemesis of the Blight and the bringer of goodness, fortune, leadership and plenty. Helion is depicted as a warrior in most iconography, but his priests explain that he is the embodiment of light and flame, and no man may look upon him and live.

Males, the Blight – the power of darkness and corruption incarnate. Still called upon for divination and power by the Crusader and the Diabolist (and occasionally by the Lich King) the Blight is the essence of evil and corruption in the world. The Blight’s armies of darkness, the demons, exist on the fringe of the Planes, ever ready to escape into the Mortal realm to sew destruction. Thanos is depicted as a great mass of skeletons forming an immense, terrifying giant.

Tenebrae, the Shadow – Lurking in darkness the creatures spawned of Shadow will always feel a connection to this goddess, who dwell only where Helion cannot penetrate. She is an aspect of the feminine, of power in darkness, the mysteries of the Moon, deception and all things of the night.

Moraeos, the Dead – the god of the dead has been around since before the light itself, some stories say. It was the burning power of light that chased the dead things away and forces the darkness of Tenebrae to retreat, allowing life to blossom. The dead lurk in the earth and the dark corners of the world, an ever vile presence seeking a way of escaping the realm of Moraeos to feed upon the life force of the living. Moraeos is enigmatic, his designs inscrutable, but the Lich King holds counsel regularly with this dread god, seeking to understand his power over death and siphoning off a portion of that power for his own purposes.

Viridiae, the Green – The goddess of the living, she sprung up in the wake of the manifestation of Helion out of the eternal darkness. Where his light fell upon the earth the shadow and death disappeared and life sprang anew. Viridiae is the goddess of the living world, and is sometimes simply known as The Green. Despite her aspect as life-bringer, she is also a dark nature goddess, for her bind is firmly rooted between the light of the sun above and the tendrils of death below; so it is that she is representative of the bridge between the two forces.

Somniae, the Dreaming – the god of sleep and the realm of dreams is perhaps the only one who seems to retain a close tether to the Mortal Plane, for all mortals seem capable of accessing fragments of this realm and communing with its god, though for most the experience is fragmentary and easily forgotten. Stories tell of how the waking world and the plane of dreams were once two parts of the same coin of experience, and that to sleep was as profound an experience as to be awake….but the severing of the gods changed all that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Xbox One Sunset Overdrive Edition - Enjoying the PS4 while the Xbox One Loads and Installs

I actually took the day off to pick up and enjoy my new Xbox One Sunset Overdrive Edition, which is a fancy way of saying the white console version of the Xbone.

So far I've been enjoying my PS4 while waiting for the Xbox One to install games. It's a long, slow process, even with it cabled right in to the router. Sunset Overdrive comes as a downloadable code, so I have a sneaking suspicion it will be late tonight before I get to play. I've got Forza Horizon 2's disk in the machine now and it's installing at about just a bit over 1% per minute.

Oh! It's beeping at me....Forza is ready to play with 14% downloaded. Joy....!

Anyway, I've got Forza Horizon 2, Lords of the Fallen, Sunset Overdrive, D4, Dead Rising 3 Apocalypse Edition and Project Spark to explore today. More later......!

UPDATE: It took many hours to reach the 21% mark on Sunset Overdrive, but now it says it's playable with 80% to go....dare I tempt fate? The Xbone can't download while its installing disc-based games, and alas I had many disc-based games to feed into its maw. Such is life for this generation of consoles.

Lords of the Fallen is a hoot, however. Sort of like a mashup of Dead Souls and Diablo III, but with more explanation for how you play than the former and a more methodical, calculated style of combat than the latter; but something about it really pings off of my appreciation for both games, albeit with the conceit that I grew to hate Dark Souls with a strong passion. This one has some real potential....

13th Age: Realms of Kadamar, a quick key

More on Kadamar....

The Realms of Kadamar

Vator Kairn walks his caravan among the Sky Pyramids of Ancient Serano’Dehan, the fabled city of the Ancients.

Key Campaign Details: The Realms of Kadamar

The Empire: Radamanthos, ruled by the Emperor Sonn’Khul - shimmering empire of the eternal sun

The North: Ghoval - bitter northern wilderness and the hearty barbarians northmen

The coastal wilderlands: The Sudarak Coast, where the Wild Kingdoms are found, including Sukar, Yadak, Ederemid and Vaal’Drunaes - jungle kingdoms in the heart of the Green World, as it is known by the druids

The Badlands of Ghaetal: the Empire of the Orcs bristles beneath the surface 

The Mountain Kingdoms of Khamak, where the Iron King Progos rules, determined to set order upon the world with hammer and steel

The Isle of Shuningol, where the Diabolical Suzhariel reigns, keeper of the Abyssal Gate

The Swamps of Dremidal, where the Black Dragon Mazga rules

The Empty Lands, where the wonders of Ancient Hiramash lie in wait

The Ruins of Fabled Gol, City of A Billion Lost Souls, and Doomport, the city of Tomb Robbers

Zhetil Lenan: one of four drow underworld empires (the other three are Uton Hasal, Draekon Des and Vulmak Hetiir)

The Army of the Burning Sun: the wandering mercenary army of the Warlord Damedan; a sight to behold, currently in the employ of the Empire, but just as quick to turn on it should the emperor fail to pay their wages.

Monday, October 27, 2014

13th Age: Realms of Kadamar

Not sure if I will do anything with it, but I was working up a setting for 13th Age not too long ago, one which basically focused on the game's key strengths (heroic-age characters, icons, room for lots of OUTs and such). What I came up with is interesting....I may do something different, though. Anyway, here and in the next couple blogs I'll provide the campaign precis for contemplation...

Sibriani, Queen of the Sudarak Coast, entertains some barbarians from the north 

The Elder Lords

There are eight powerful entities, immortals who were once mere men and other beings that seized the power of the gods in an early era, trapping for their own use and making their lineages permanently immortal. These Elder Lords are the secret power behind the world of Kadamar, manipulating all of mankind, elvenkind and the other races toward their ultimate goals and desires.

The Elder Lords are mistakenly believed by many to be eternal as well as immortal; this is not so. The families of each original Elder Lord gained immortality granted by their acquisition of power, and they have a succession over the generations. The immortals cannot die of age or disease, but they cannot escape doom by sword or spell. As such each immortal clan has chosen to sequester themselves away, to forge a strong power base and insure that they are insulated from the rest of the world to guarantee their immortality. Moreover, the families of each lineage are not in and of themselves immortal; only when an Elder Lord dies does his immortal power pass on to his next worthy descendant. In families of great evil and chaos such as Damedan’s army or Meridiae’s vile court this means that death by assassination is almost routine. Cindros himself as a lord of assassins often conducts these murders, though he remains resistant to his own assassination by way of powerful defensive spells.

The Elder Lords include the following:

Hathakor, the Sorcerer King (Archmage) - Hathakor is the latest in a long line of ancient royal sorcerers, though he currently rules a no-man’s land in the dominion of The Empty Lands, where his ancient empire of Hiramash once existed. Today Hiramash is a paltry handful of ancient near-immortal nobles who cull slaves from neighboring lands while defending themselves by reputation as great ancient sorcerers. Hathakor himself is reclusive and too busy seeking the mysteries of the planar realms to worry about the decline of his ancient people.

Obsidaros, the Great Lich (Lich King) - Of all the Elder Lords only one has escaped death and held on to his power unchallenged for four thousand years: Obsidaros, the lich lord, was dead when he joined the ancient pact, and he remains dead now. His obsession with immortality began long ago, and paid out in spades. Rumors are that his ancestors suffered for his power lust, and that he must always insure his descendant from when he was still living continue to prosper, for he must once in a generation find a suitable host body to feed upon and subsume his vile soul into. Obsidaros dwells somewhere deep in the north, where the Ghoval barbarians fear his armies of undead.

Tiriaenis, the Seelie Queen (Elf Queen) – dwelling deep in the Feywild, Tiraenis holds the ancestral name of her title as the seelie queen though she is the latest in a long line of elves descended from her ancient Elder Lord ancestor. Tiriaenis has ruled for over a thousand years now, and struggles with war against Meridiae and the Unseelie.

Meridiae, the Unseelie Queen (The Diabolist) – the other side of the coin that is the Feywild, Meridiae is the dark elf mistress who bows before the power of Penumbrae even as she steals the divinity of the shadow goddess for her own.

Progos, the Mountain King (Dwarf King) – Progos is the latest in a long line of ancient dwarven kings, and longest-lived by far of his many immortal ancestors. All dwarven kings to date have fallen in battle, for it is believed that the destiny of each dwarf if to fall defending the Underrealm, the vast kingdom of dwarven citadels that stand against the darkness of Males and Moriae. There is a belief that only Progos and his descendants know the true location of the Crown of Infinity.

Damedan, the Warlord (The Crusader) – Damedan is the descendant of a fierce line of immortal generals who trace their ancestry back to the rise of the Elder Lords. Damedan rules his Army of the Burning Sun, and is arguably the most influential force in politics for it is said that whomever has the Army of the Burning Sun on their side will win. There is a rumor that the lineage of Damedan was founded by the first Warlord, who was a demigod son of Helion himself.

Cindros, The Burning Blade (The Lord of Shadows) – the lord of assassins and seeker of knowledge, Cindros is reviled by the other Elder Lords, for it is believed that Cindros has been responsible for the deaths of disagreeable Elder Lords in the past. Cindros is second longest-lived next to Obsidaros, believed to have survived in some manner for nearly three thousand years now after discovering a means of escaping even murder through a spell of transmigration which allows his spirit to occupy the body of his slayer. This has made him all but invincible in the eyes of some, and his fellow Elder Lords consider him the most dangerous of their own kind.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Halo: Nightfall Trailer

Yes, I admit I'm posting videos at the end of the week instead of making an stayed busier than I expected and my son has been monopolizing my evenings, so not much time to do as many blogs as I'd planned. I have lots of content....lots and lots from my 5E campaigns....but no time to polish it for posting.

Still, the newly released Halo: Nightfall video deserves attention. Nighfall is out, and it looks good. Very interested to see what the covenant CGI looks like (if they figure out how to do it as something other than CGI I'll be amazed). There's a lot in the Halo universe to explore, and Nightfall may do well as a result.* The fact that my Xbox One preorder for the Sunset Overdrive edition white console arrives next week, in time for my preorder of the Master Chief Collection Nov. 11th....oh yes, I probably should add in my blog byline "incurable Halo fanboy," did I mention?

Anyway, here's that great video:

*contrary to some opinions, Halo does have a lot of story going on, when you take all its avenues (fiction, comics, games) as a whole.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Avengers 2: Age of Ultron trailer

I'm just going to link this here in case by some miracle you haven't seen it. Marvel had to drop the first trailer for Avengers 2 a little early due to a leak, so now we have the official hi-definition version:

I like this trailer because its a bit hard to piece together what the story's going to be, or how it will all fit together. We know this much: lots of Ultron, probably a Stark experiment gone horribly wrong, signs of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, a traumatized Banner, and lots more. Oh, and the Hulkbuster suit shows up, too....fascinating!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

D&D 5E: Adding some bite to Magic Resistance

Over the course of running 5E the last couple months I've noticed that Magic Resistance, while impressive for what it does (simplify the concept using the advantage mechanic) really doesn't stack up all that well in actual play....although it could just be that the principle now is that spells which should "just happen" are more tightly defined. But ask yourself many spells have you now seen hit a creature with magic resistance...and had full effect....that you know would have likely fizzled out in prior editions? Even Magic Missile is a viable spell against targets with magic resistance since there's no saving roll! It's madness, I tell you....

My thought is to make an option with Magic Resistance in which it also forces a saving throw against any effect. In thinking about this it makes me wonder if that was the intent....but the only discussion I can find on how Magic Resistance works is in the description of MR itself in each monster entry. So, to make it more meaningful and also to follow the tradition of how MR has worked before, my suggestion would be this:

1. Magic Resistance does all it says it does, plus any spell that acts on the creature but does not require a saving throw normally (i.e. magic missile) now requires a saving throw based on the caster's magic DC to work (with accompanying advantage for the creature, of course).

2. Any spell which does not specifically have to target the creature or is environment does not provoke magic resistance (i.e. Entanglement, which RAW would normally do so, and Silence, which can target the area instead).

Ideas or suggestions are welcome...