Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria: Corvus the Grim

I finally have AS&SH in print, in its gorgeous little box with spiral-bound tomes within. The system is AD&D with lots of refinement...I really like it. The flavor is exotic, captures the feel of the pulp sorcery and sword genre remarkably well, and evokes the ghost of Howard, Ashton-Smith, Carter, Wagner and others quite handily. Anyway, if you're interested in what a typical AS&SH character looks like, here's my first: a ranger, ready to head off in to the world to die at the claws of Yithians or worse. Note that the ranger is one of a very modest number of core classes you'll recognize...there are a lot of interesting subclasses in AS&SH; it's part of the "options heavy" genre of OSR titles, which I really like.

Name: Corvus the Grim (“Grimcrow”)
Ixian (human) male, Chaotic Good, Ranger Level 1
Attribute             Test/Feat
STR         17           4:6/32%                +1 to hit, +2 damage
DEX        14           3:6/8%                  +1 missile attack
CON       15           3:6/15%                +1 HPA, +1 poison Adj.
INT         11                                           
WIS        10
CHA       12
Hit Dice: 1D10   Hit Points: 11   Fighting Ability: 1     THAC0: 19   Attack Rate 1/1
Saving Throw:   16           Modifiers: +2 vs. death, +2 vs. transformation
Armor:  Scale Mail            AC: 6      DR: 1

Ranger Abilities: Alertness (-1), Ambusher (3:6), Discern Noise (4:12), Hide (5:12), Move Silently (5:12), Otherworldly Enemies (+1 dmg/level), Tracking, Track Concealment, Traverse Overgrowth, Weapon Mastery (scimitar, +1 to hit and damage, 3/2 attack), Wilderness Survival

Secondary Skills: guard/watchman
Languages: Common, Thracian

Scimitar (1D10+3 damage 2-H style, +2 attack)
Short Bow (1D6 damage, +1 attack)
Quiver with 24 arrows

Backpack, fishing hook (12), fishing line, soft leather pouch, 50 ft hemp rope, leather scabbard, 5 torches, waterskin, leather belt, normal boots, normal clothing, hooded heavy cloth coat

2 GP; 7 SP; 2 CP


Corvus the Grim, known to his comrades as Grimcrow, is an Ixian ranger who served under the monster hunter Laithos, who perished several years ago while thwarting the necromancer Sevixar. Laithos left his wisdom to Grimcrow, who while still inexperienced in hunting abominations nonetheless feels he is ready for the task. Though there are more than enough opportunities to hunt the abominations summoned by the sorcerers of Scythium in his native land, Corvus the Grim has decided to march out into the greater realm of Hyperboria in search of the most fearsome beasts from beyond the starry nights that he may slay them all, or die trying.

System Notes:

AS&SH uses a simpler die mechanic for physical feats, the "test of strength" as well as for Con and Dex which is a D6 roll against a target number defined by stat. It also allows a percentile roll for extreme feats, and that gets a +8% modifier if you have a class that uses that prime requisite. 

The system uses a single save modifier, with class-specific adjustments. This is a welcome borrow from S&W.....seriously, once you see the one-save mechanic in action it's hard to go back.

Armor Class:
AS&SH also uses descending armor class, but employs a "Fighting Ability" value which determines the column you look up your hit chart on. The hit chart appears to be consistent with the THAC0 concept for purposes of easy notation.....so the method in AS&SH is to Roll 1D20, add your bonuses to hit for the weapon and strength, and then see how close you get to THAC0 (or look up your chart). EX: Corvus rolls a 17 to hit, adds 3 for his scimitar skill (due to weapon mastery plus strength) and gets 20. he knows he hit AC -1 then, because his THAC0 is 19, so his THAC-1 would be 20. Later he rolls a 13, plus 3, for 16....so he knows he hit AC 3 (THAC0 19 minus 16 is 3). The format means it will make explaining AC easy to players new to the concept as it keeps everything consistent.

Action Resolution:
Since AS&SH is modeling AD&D mechanically, it actually addresses an action economy (action resolution) to handle multiple attacks per round. It's interesting to see this tightly defined....I've run AD&D multiple different ways when it came to the action economy. Given I have a strong, compelling desire to sun AS&SH I'll have to think about whether I want to stick to the action resolution system as presented, or play it fast and loose like S&W White Box editions tend to.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Dark stars XII: New Germanica

37 New Germanica
The colony of New Germanica was founded during early colonial expansion from mostly German spacers. They have developed starfaring technology over the last thousand years, and are now advancing in to the colonization of the system.  The current regime is a fascist xenophobic array of personalities who are preparing for “war” against the outsiders, i.e. the Makamian Empire and the Void Lords. The leader of New Germanica (NG) is Hans Grueller, a strong personality who is seen as a war hero, the man who “drove out” the Void Lords and refused a treaty with the star knights. New Germanica barely survived the Void Lord incursion a little over a decade ago, and had the Void Lords not began a retreat when the star knights arrived they would have been annihilated. The Void Lords retreated when the star knight fleet of the Lost Seven arrived, and it was through NG subterfuge that they did not detect the incomplete Void Lord technology left behind.

Resting at the edge of the star system is a monolithic structure, the Anti-Matter Wave Generator that the Void Lords were building to extinguish the system. The Empire of New Germanica has done all it can to keep the evidence of this weapon secret, and will do all it can to hide its existence, even as the New Germanican scientist pour over the device in an attempt to reverse engineer the technology hidden within, so they may complete the construction of the device. Early results have been successful in learning how to harness antimatter particles and store them indefinitely; these are now being converted into crude but incredibly dangerous weapons and raw sources of power.

The starships of New Germanica are only equipped with foldspace engines, so they have yet to expand beyond a few light years of space, but this has led to colonies on Remandalis, Habaris and Serpikus. They have deep space explorers moving slowly toward other star systems; part of their mission directive is to capture any advanced FTL technology, at any cost.

Events at New Germanica:

Capturing FTL Drive Tech: The NG has slow foldspace drive, so they can travel without relativistic effects but it takes years or decades to go a parsec or two. They have been trying to capture a working Transitional Drive for a long time, and try to lure “xenos” as they call all outsiders into traps to gain access to a working drive. However, they have a couple complications…

The Modified Von Neuman Plague: The NG was exposed by someone (possibly Tesla Dane!) to the Von Neuman Plague, which is a rampant nanovirus that destroys and assimilates any target it is programmed for; it was originally released on a remote colony called Last Call and spread rapidly throughout the old Triton Commonwealth, leading to that sector’s downfall. The version released in NG territory is designed specifically to target Transitional Drive technology, although mutational strains of the nanovirus have begun targeting bioforms again recently.

Zomborgs: Cyborg zombies are a plague in the NG’s “slums” where most non-eugenicized races live in squalor. The nanoplague occasionally mutates and resets back to its original condition, which is to convert bioforms into mechanical life and a machine hive intelligence. These zomborgs are like assimilants, but any physical contact requires a save or the individual in question contracts the nanovirus, which takes 3D6 weeks to slowly convert the organism into a man-machine hybrid slave of the hive mind. The goal of the hive mind is to expand indefinitely….it has no other purpose.

Zomborg Stats: AC 15 (carbon plate armor); HD 4, HP 16, Move: 9, Attacks 2 or by weapon, claw (1D6) and bite (1D4) (and make a save or contract the Zomborg nanovirus) or laser rifle (2D6), ST 15, HDE 4/120 

The commoners of NG think that the zomborgs are a product of the NG government, and their lack of response is due to the disinterest the government has in "unmodified" genotypes. They are half-right: scientists of the NG did, indeed, seek to modify the Von Neuman Nanovirus initially to stop it from destroying T-Space tech, but later they realized it had a "locked" programming which they tampered with, then exposed their test population to. It got loose....but so far the threat is regarded as nominal to a system with a massive overpopulation issue and an elite genetically "superior" aristocracy in control.

The Dark Matter Aliens: There’s a sophisticated effort in the dark matter realm, which is bridged only while in Transitional Space, to destroy vessels which try to leave the NG system. The dark matter aliens are called the Kerig, and they use a complex form of biomechanics for their ships. More on these, and their motives, later….

Friday, February 5, 2016

It was the Skooma


Dark stars XI: Blight System

49 Blight
Blight was noted for its singularly unimpressive post-apocalyptic primeworld, the original name of which was long ago lost in favor of the scout’s nickname of Blight. On Blight rests the remains of an unknown civilization bombed back to stone age in what appears to be a genocidal war; debris in orbit and on the three moons of the planet clearly indicate they had progressed into space and were colonizing their system when the extinction level warfare took place. Now, the survivors of Bight are a handful of desperate wastelanders competing for precious resources with a large mass of mutated flora and fauna, a byproduct of biogenetic engineering for warfare and mutations from bioweaponry.

Events at Blight:

1. There is a strange orbital station/ship that looks like a vast, mirrored lens or saucer around Blight. It is defended by automated snub fighters, but may be friendly with the right approach. The vessel is run by a chilopteroid called Chiron, a race of ancient  near-immortal vampire bat-men. Chiron has arrived here from his home planet of Gleison, ostensibly to study the plight of the people of Blight; he represents himself as a benevolent god to them, and sends them on missions to gather ancient relics which he claims he is studying to determine what happened to the planet. In truth, he is implanting the natives with a red organic crystal, which he uses to sap psychic energy from the natives, feeding himself and his chliopteroid clan, and allowing them to continue with their indefinite life span. He is also secretly trying to find the Stellar Librarian (see below) which he believes contains the secret to true immortality.

2. A star cruiser from the Segurandi Dominion called The Infallible and piloted by the star witch Kalabretta (Mystic level 3; S 11 D 17 C 10 I 12 W 14 CH 18; HP 9, HD 2; AC 13, Attack 1, Star Sword +1 attack, 1D6+4 damage; ST 12; Meditations: invisibility, detect life, speed burst (gift); Mystic is in Between Star & Void, page 8). She has a dozen soldiers (WS page 80) in her service. She is investigating two issues: what the chilopteroids are up to (they are an enemy of the Segurandi Dominion and the witch queen in particular), and the recovery of a lost artifact: a Stellar Librarian. The Stellar Librarian is a holographic recording device that she believes is located in the ruins of one of the largest cities still standing on Blight, a haunted location which is overgrown with deadly flora and fauna. The Stellar Librarian may have been hidden here during the invasion of the Void Lords to save it from destruction, since the Void Lords tended to ignore already devastated systems. Kalabretta might be willing to hire the PCs to aid in its recovery, offering them 300 credits and the promise of an assist in the future if they need her help.

Bestiary of Blight:

Blight Natives are seven foot tall humanoids with insectoid features, four arms, and deep red and blue hues of “skin.” AC 13, HD 2, Move 12, Attacks 2, swords 1D6 or crossbows (1D6+1), ST 17, HDE 2/30; Special: most natives have odd random mutations, and all natives have all-around vision; surprise only 1 in 6 chance)

Gromics are 20-25 foot tall gorilla-like beings with wide, membranous wings. They actually have a limited form of telepathy which they use to gain lift and they then glide on the intense winds of Blight. AC 14, HD 6, Move 12 (15 fliying), Attacks 2, Fists 2D6+1 each or throw rocks (1D6), ST 13, HDE 6/400

Chilopteroids of Gleison are six to eight feet tall, and resemble humanoid bats. AC 13, HD 3, Move 15 or 18 fly; attack 1 (claw 1D4) or laser pistol (1D6+2), ST 16, HDE 3/60; chilopteroids can become invisible at will as per the meditation; a chilopteroid with its blood crystal receptor will regenerate 1 hit point per turn, and leaving a body around will let it come back to life eventually; only destroying the body will stop the regeneration.)

Spider-Hunters prowl the ruins of Blight, looking something like a furry mammal combined with an arachnid, the Spidere-Hunters were unleashed on Blight to hunt down Chilopteroid enemies and escaped slaves. They are larger than mastiffs and have a vile poison. AC 14, HD 4, Move 12 (climb 12), attacks 2, claw/pincers 1D6+2 each, plus poison (Save or suffer paralysis and take 1D6 damage/turn for 1D12 turns as guts liquefy); ST 15, HDE 4/120

The Stellar Librarian is a cosmic inter-dimensional sentient probe from another universe. It can be attacked but is made of matter from another dimension and can only be temporarily disrupted, reforming 1D12 hours later after HP reach zero. It can impart knowledge to those who desire it, releasing a small black globe which when absorbed requires a save; if the target fails, then the subject is cocooned and gains the abilities but begins to slowly transform into strange matter from another dimension (more on what this means soon!). Effects that can be granted include: gain a new skill (if using skill abilities), wild talent psionics (if using Psionics supplement), a meditation or even something more exotic at GM’s discretion. AC 18, HD 12, HP 42, Move 20 (levitation), attacks: none; the Stellar Librarian is pacifistic, but it can engage in a probe for 200 feet; targets must make a save, and on failure the Stellar Librarian knows all data on the subject; Chilopteroid nervous systems tied to blood stones are disrupted by this for 1D6 turns, and may affect unshielded cybernetics in the same way; ST 7; HDE 2,000

Zunathics are also other-dimensional energy beings, and are also made of a strange matter which fluctuates in an indeterminate matter/energy state. They can take any form (the one with the Stellar Librarian appears as a unicorn made of cosmic stardust….yes, that is right). Zunathics can absorb 50 points of energy damage before further damage disrupts their form; physical damage has no effect (but see below); if one is reduced to 0 HP it is disrupted and reforms 1D12 hours later. AC 19, HD 8, HP 28, Move 12 (18 running), Attacks 1, Particle Beam Horn 4D6 damage and make a save or take 2D6 damage for 1D4 additional rounds; Special: any physical attack striking the zunathic forces the attacker to make a saving throw; failure means the object is disintegrated or the creature takes 8D10 damage (and is disintegrated if hitting 0 HP); ST 11; HDE 8/800 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Dark stars X: Netherspace Sector Survey Chapter 4

This session got a little crazy....what I would describe as what happens when you suddenly have 8 players, one of whom is an unexpected guest with limited information on the current plot, another who is aiming for a playstyle I would describe as "cause as much inter-party strife as possible (Wes!!!!) which is already a niche another regular player aims for.....(Jason!!!!! although Jason does it "in character" so it works well....heh...) but despite it all they persevered.

Highlights of this session, in rough sequence:

1. Group did escape the post-apocalyptic world of Blight, although it involved brutal negotiations against the Chilopteroids who failed in their mission by trusting the PCs. In the end the Stellar Librarian and his crew stayed behind, possibly safe, and the party has made enemies of the chilopteroid Chiron and his crew. Star knight brutus engaged in especially bloodthirsty actions that left everyone suspect of his status as a star knight....

2. Dyvinil figured out how to get in to the mysterious cabin/cargo hold at the bottom of the ship, and discovered a super-cooled chamber with a stasis pod, what appeared to be a bizarre frozen metal-organic growth, and Captain Ephemeran in stasis, apparently covered in said growth. One of the players has read Revelation Space so he's worried he knows where this subplot is going.

3. Before parting the Stellar Librarian revealed that he knew a fellow probe had encountered evidence of Tesla Dane in a neighboring system a little over a year ago. The group figured out they were few parsecs away and decided to focus the survey on heading there.

4. The group surveyed another uninhabited system before making it to New Germanica. They discovered a robust, bustling slow-FTL civilization that had spread across a dozen terraformed worlds and moons in the system, evidence of three slow-FTL colony ships (using Foldspace tech) under construction, and one very worrying structure at the edge of the solar system: a functional void lord anti-matter wave generator, one of the 400 km long machines used by the void lords to wipe out entire star systems.....surrounded by a vast debris field of destroyed ships, including evidence of The Lost Seven, the original star knights that arrived from another dimension a decade ago to turn the tide of the war. Their first fleet was MIA early on but their opening attack was what pushed the void lords in to retreat.

5. Group is politely invited to go to one of the starports/construction yards to meet the Chancellor of New Germanica. Quickly evidence piles up that New Germanica is a eugenically modified culture of clones leaning on a "unmodified" underclass for cheap labor, worshipping a Fuhrer named Grueller who is possibly centuries old. They appreciate learning the fate of their colony ship at Blight.

6. From the moment everyone sets foot on the station things are clear the New Germanicans want the T-Space drive tech on their ship....somehow they know of it, but can't replicate. They have been backward engineering the antimatter generator tech on the void lord station they have captured, however, and are rapidly improving their power capabilities, but the ability to use T-Space eludes them for unknown reasons.

7. Group demonstrates what I call the "cohesion problem" when you have too many players, no leader, at least 2 players who are out to actively sabotage the party, a 3rd who is out to privately sabotage the party for self-gain, and a small handful who hang back as they realize the entire scenario is going south. The events more or less played out as follows:

--both star knights (Brutus and loaner character Day-Ro played by unknown guest gamer #23) try to sell the tech to the chancellor for profit
--Tamralese tries to negotiate an exchange of information on void lords for the T-Space tech; suggests she would be able to transmit in an exchange
--Sam the crazed alien brute offers to loan them his DNA so they can make an unstoppable army of brutes, in exchange for....um....not sure....
--Dirk realizes this has gone south fast
--Chancellor quickly figures out they are not emissaries of the Makamian Empire but divided mercenaries, has no intention of dealing fairly with any of them, and seeks to stall while his vacc-troopers move to secure the ship in its docking birth. Crew smart enough to remain on the ship (Dyvinil, Erin, 101010) prepare to escape when the blast doors start dropping down to seal them in and let the troopers engage a boarding action
--A fight breaks out. Tamralese and Dirk make it back to ship, Sam (who found a "black sun grenade") pops a local singularity in the boarding area and takes out a lot of stormtroopers. Both star knight ronin are swept into the vacuum of space but have personal shields which I have ruled work like Flickinger Fields from the McDevitt Academy novels, so they are safe from decompression in the vacuum but intense cold will get them soon. The ship opens fire, wiping out the vacc-troopers and proton torpedoing the blast doors to escape. Erin fires up the T-Space engine and in a difficult maneuver jumps right into transitional space from the dock....Dyvinil mercy-kills the two ronin a second before the backlash of energy in local space wipes out the dock and all in it (no tears were shed).

The group broke flight into T-Space and immediately was hailed by something --in T-Space-- nonbaryonic dark matter aliens, with three bizarre "worm ships" on approach! Queue cliffhanger.

...Yes, quite a mess! We talked for a bit about the game, the logic in the minds of the villain afterward, as the new guest player seemed keen on doing the right thing but was unclear on what that was, so I explained that the setting is operating on Star Wars type moral logic....the sort of logic where yes, Luke and leia and Han stop Jabba and all is well, but fridge logic points out a lot of slaves and innocents died on that slave barge, too. Sort of like how Finn is good, and realizes the First Order sucks, but he also had working relations with a lot of stormtroopers....who are all, like him, presumably kidnapped and indoctrinated through brainwashing as children, too...and in his escape blows up a lot of them. You have a moral gray sea with pinpricks of white objectively good justification, essentially. So the chilopteroids early on had not attacked the PCs when they betrayed them, yes....but the PCs had quickly figured out the chilopteroids were slavers and wanted to gain control of a powerful sentient probe for their own gain.

Meanwhile, the moral quandry of the New Germanica encounter is layered:
--they are space nazis, yes, and the longer you interact with them the more evidence piles up in support of this fact
--but they are also humans of a lost colony, and introducing them to the galaxy can only help humanity survive, right?
--but they subjugate "non-eugenicized" races to a worker class, so they are bad
--and they have access to void lord tech of incalculable power, and if they gain t-space drives they could possibly turn the antimatter wave generator into a devastating weapon
--AND they are otherwise very organized, and there's evidence they've had access to T-Drive tech before, so how did they not figure it out, or did they lose it? Or is someone actively preventing them from developing the tech?
--but they were saved by the first seven star knights, so maybe a higher moral purpose precludes assuming they are inherently evil (I think guest player star knight was going in this direction with their negotiations, but Brutus star knight just wanted to sew havoc and party strife by selling tech away; as GM I am always interested in trying to decipher why the party's interactions/cohesions fail catastrophically on nights like this, but sometimes it just boils down to players deciding their goal is to hose their cohorts...)

....For the record, I have never, ever had a successful player or GM experience when nazis of any type become the key villain. My CoC WWII games would go south, my GURPS Horror with Nazi madmen would go south, Pulp Nazis would go south....and now things got crazy with the Space Nazis. My only good experience in fact was a GURPS WWII game I got to play in a long time ago with Brian Underhill.

It's like a Godwin's Law for RPGs: as soon as you invoke the presence of Nazis in the game, it will fall apart.

Pathfinder Horror in July

Saw this announcement on ENWorld and have to say, I'm really kind of excited for this one:

From the promo:

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Horror Adventures includes:

  • Corruptions that can turn your character into a monster, from a blood-drinking vampire to a savage werewolf.
  • Character options to help heroes face the forces of darkness, including horror-themed archetypes, feats, spells, and more.
  • Rules for sanity and madness, giving all the tools needed to drive characters to the brink and beyond.
  • Tips and tools for running a scary game, along with expanded rules for curses, diseases, haunts, and fleshwarping to bring your nightmares to life.
  • New templates to turn your monsters into truly terrifying foes, from creatures made from living wax to the stalker that cannot be stopped.

Unfortunately my Pathfinder/Ravenloft conversion campaign just started, so I could really use this book NOW.....but I guess when it arrives in July it will be with plenty of time to prep a future campaign that takes advantage of the thematics in the book.

First Curse of Strahd, now Pathfinder Horror....I did not expect 2016 to be the "year of horror" in fantasy gaming.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tales from the Cannadad Dei: Haddaran Zamac (villain)

Here's a snippet of a possible future villain and plot in Realms of Chirak...as yet not realized, but the possible plot lingers for some future date. It's a bit complicated, however....and I've been favoring simpler scenarios lately, so who knows when I'll get around to exploiting it:

Haddaran Zamac

The cruel Masirian sorcerer-exile of Masiria, Haddaran Zamac has been living in the dominion of Nubirion for more than a century now. He was exiled from his homeland for the most grievous of crimes: the practice of chaos magic, entropomancy. In his secret mastery of this magic, Zamac stumbled across a dark secret about the nature of the old lord of chaos, Ga’Thon, and in doing so he discovered the secret of the dead god’s offspring, the Thousandspawn.

Zamac discovered that the Thousandspawn were immortal reanimates, godflesh given the semblance of life, and that the creatures were made “alive” by the tiny shards of the topaz Aries Stone, the divine source of Ga’Thon’s power. It was a clever means of surviving, Zamac realized….Ga’Thon had fractured his soul and his power into a thousand pieces, but it preserved his existence in the form of countless “offspring.”

As Zamac continued his research he delved deep into the nature of chaos magic, and began to explore the depths of the entropic magic. Zamac discovered that the source of the power came from the Far Realm, and in turn the Far Realm was the nebulous tether to the madness of a chaotic realm beyond which all of the universe was encompassed by. It was there that he discovered the “tunnels,” holes bored into reality from which the Far Realm propogated, and so it was that he saw fit to follow these “tunnels.”

Zamac discovered that the tunnels led to ancient Chaos Gods, the first and oldest such gods, beings of truly unimaginable power and might. These were gods in the truest sense; their point of existence was to destroy, to unmake the ordered reality of the world. As Zamac delved deep into the hidden corners of chaos, he realized that at least two of these beings had arrived in the mortal realm of Chirak in the dawn of time. One was called Molabal, and was trapped via the Pillar of Night in the dreamlands. The other creature had arrived and apparently been slain; it’s moldering corpse rested deep beneath the caverns and tunnels of the underworld below Nubirion. It’s body still resonated with power, he learned…though the beast had somehow been slain in some ancient prehistoric conflict with the Twelve, the flesh of the creature continued to hold unfathomable power.

Zamac was exposed for his vile thaumaturgy and cast out of Masira a century ago, but it suited him to do so, for he could continue to carry out his research, specifically in the land where he could learn the most about chaos magic. He traveled to Nubirion and took up residence for a time in the Yellow City before his experiments eventually forced him to migrate to Tedron, where he was able to remain to the present. In his time in Nubirion he forged a loyal group of servants, soldiers and followers, and spent decades delving into the depths of the earth in search for the body of the moldering lost Chaos God.

A decade ago, Zamac was at lat successful. The body of the dead god was immense, and filled a cavernous stretch for miles beneath the earth, beneath the Venedati Mountains. He found much more than just the corpse of a primordial old god, however: he also found Skazas, the Destroyer, first spawn of Ga’Thon.

Skazas was a formidable foe, and set thousands of years ago in the cavern by Ga’Thon to guard the secret of the Old God by destroying any who entered the cavern. Skazas sought to murder Zmac and his men, but Zamac had come prepared, thanks to his study of the Thousandspawn. Skazas was captured and bound to Zamac’s will.

Zamac then began the ritual, and partook of the flesh of the Old God, as he had now determined Ga’Thon must have. In so doing he realized that this process held the secret to Ga’Thon’s terrifying might at the end of the Final War, and may have accounted for his ability to forge the Thousandspawn at his moment of death.

Zamac survived the ritual, but he was forever changed, his flesh absorbed into chaos such that he was no longer himself, and his physical form was but a shadowy puppet in the mortal plane. The new Zamac realized his ambitions at the mastery of chaos magic, the discovery of Ga’Thon’s secrets, were pale shadows of the real truth. He was the offspring of a great, ancient destroyer called Sarvanilos: he was the inheritor of a power that was meant to undo creation, to bring to universe back into the folds of chaos. Though his “father” had perished tens of thousands of years ago, his destiny was the same: he could unmake reality.

It was Zamac’s companion, the gorgon Semilta, who brought him back from the brink. Her gaze no longer affected his corrupted flesh, but it calmed his madness, and brought back the man Zamac. His sanity restored with her gaze and touch, Zamac realized that the chaos magic he now wielded, if he could learn to channel it, would allow him to conquer the very world, and then remake it in the image he desired….exactly the same sort of power which Ga’Thon had once craved.

His only problem, he realized, was that the power to do so lay in the Zodiac Aries Stone itself. Ga’Thon held the stone, and it had been divided into a thousand shards. There must be a way, he realized, to reunite the stones, and to abolish the consciousness of Ga’Thon hidden within the flesh of the thousandspawn.

Zamac set about pushing to discover a way to do this. He learned in his research of an ancient order of wizards who had studied this phenomenon, albeit with the intention of imprisoning or destroying the Thousandspawn: The Order of the Grey Wren. He found out Lord Adan Nistur of Varkal was one of the members, and so he sought the man out. When he stole Nistur’s knowledge and memories, he turned then to the next on his list: Malenkin.   

Monday, February 1, 2016

Eschaton of the Star Gods

I might be light on posts for a week or three....there's been a lot of stuff going on in my real life adventures in business that's sapping free time away into a black hole, so I'll post as I can. I actually have a lot of White Star in the can, but can't reveal until after it's been used in-session to avoid spoilers....

Anyway, as a side note I started another Tumblr blog to collect art I like. Tumblr, I just can't quit you....

Eschaton of the Star Gods is now open at Xeno's Other Arrow. Yes, it may have NSFW content.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Saturday goes Ravenloft

The Saturday group has gone to Ravenloft. It's an odd transition to the Domains....a concession that my Enzada campaign was not quite working for all players (or even me) as intended, but allowing me to segue into a new campaign featuring existing characters kidnapped into the Domains of Dread for some horrible fun.

My Ravenloft experience is pure 2nd edition, so I'm running from the Domains of Dread sourcebook, as I have none of the 3rd edition material done by White Wolf anymore, and didn't much like it's style, anyway....2E's Ravenloft was a setting with brief but concise guides that gave you just enough info to be inspired, then a lot of modules with a "show don't tell" approach to the domains that worked great for me. 3rd edition's licensed adaptation suffered from the problem so many 3E era settings did, with authors who were getting paid by the word (it seemed) to take something you could convey in 10 pages and do it in 50 instead. It heaped lots of special rules in endless splatbooks and managed to drag out the brevity of the Domains into an endless churn of sourcebooks, and hardly any effort at all was made to make actual modules.

Anyway, the Saturday group is still enmeshed with Pathfinder, so I'm doing a sort of on-the-fly 2E Ravenloft to Pathfinder conversion as I go, running a series of modules from late in the setting's history. Opening session was a lot of fun, though it became evident this will be an interesting experience for all: even the one player in my group who once ran a couple modules for Ravenloft used them in the Forgotten Realms and not the actual domains....none of these players have actually ever played in Ravenloft.

It's going to be interesting to contrast this experience with the 5E Curse of Strahd when it arrives! Either way I'm enjoying a chance to return to one of my favorite published D&D worlds, from two rather interesting angles.