Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sword Coast Legend Dev N-Space; R.I.P.

Enworld breaks the story here. Digital Extremes is the publisher, so this doesn't do much for fans of Sword Coast Legends other than to notify you that it is unlikely that the game's going to see future development or patches....and per the announcement the studio did manage to get the console edition of the game out before expiring. I'll wait until I see some reviews of the console edition; my suspicion is that, based on how the game plays, it might actually be more fun on console than it was on PC (but only marginally). If it gets rave reviews on the Xbone or Ps4 versions (mmmm Magic 8-Ball is suspect) I may look at it again.

D&D just can't get a break in the digital gaming sphere.....will we never see another D&D title to rival Neverwinter Nights in scope and quality? One can hope.

SCL could have benefited from better character models...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Battle of the Super Hero RPGs!

In the wake of Batman V. Superman I've been thinking more about that idea for a supers game. I have a few hurdles to make....including the top problem: convincing my players to try it out --easier said than done, but thanks to the proliferation of superheroes in cinema this might be easier now than it used to be (at least, barring time commitments to D&D 5E and White Star).

But what system and setting? I've got a few choices....

Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition -- yes, if crunch and time sink design is what I'm looking for. PRO: elaborate, build anything, mechanics are no doubt smooth once you learn it; CON: gotta learn it, no time.

DC Adventures -- ideal as a resource for DC gaming, but based on MnM 3rd so see above. PRO: most of the DC Universe statted out so easy access; CON: gotta learn it (see MnM).

Guardians -- the definitive OSR gaming system based on OD&D. A good prospect, but by nature of its source engine a bit limited (so, the reverse problem of MnM above). PRO: very easy to learn and get a game going; CON: a hardcore OSR environment seems a bit too sparse for comic adventuring...I could be wrong though (I was wrong about White Star, for example).

Savage Worlds Supers -- handled with the Super Powers Companion this might be my best bet; and i can use Necessary Evil and its sequel, Breakout, as settings. PRO: Savage Worlds is super flexy and has the support to do this; CON: the system seems to melt down at higher power levels.

Mutants & Marvels -- the definitive FASERIP variant I own, this is tempting but I'd want to jump to 2nd edition, which I don't have in print. PRO: it's really easy to pick up and very complete in a slim volume. CON: it's not a pure FASERIP clone, but embeds some D20 System stuff in it, which can be either a weakness or an advantage depending on your point of view.

Supers! -- the comic system powered by what looks to me like the D6 System (or a variant thereof), this is a nice production available in POD, but might be a bit more elaborate than I want (somewhere between Savage Worlds and MnM in complexity). PRO: D6 System is tried and tested for supers gaming; CON: see MnM above...this system (or maybe its just the rules) look a bit cluttered to me, but I'm reading it now and that opinion could change quickly.

Icons -- a slim and introductory system with some modern design elements aimed at younger or newer gamers. PRO: easy system; CON: might be just a bit too "new game design" style for my tastes.

MEGS System/DC Heroes RPG: I have 3rd edition. Nothing at all preventing me from running this....PRO: best super hero system EVER; CON: also quite dead and OOP, hard to sell players on dead and OOP games in my neck of the woods.

System I don't own yet but will get: FASERIP by Blacky the Blackball, of Dark Dungeons OSR fame. If it's a pure FASERIP version I may bump this up the list. Also considering D6Powers and BASH! which I actually own the old version of and kinda like.

Stay tuned as they battle it all out! My money's on Savage Worlds Supers but FASERIP could come out of left field...and DC Adventures could overwhelm my sense of propriety and convince me that using a load of preconstructed iconics is the easiest way.

Monday, March 28, 2016

White Star: The Rest of Netherspace Sector

Map is here! Rest of the detailed worlds of Netherspace are here!

This is pretty much the rest of Netherspace Sector, including what has come before, and what was never revealed.

Netherspace  Sector (part of the Altonian Cluster)

67 Tethys
Abandoned System ; caused by natural disaster (bombarded by a gamma ray burst from nearby black holes, most likely), leaving behind evidence of an impressive ancient culture that never developed spaceflight but which had an enormously sophisticated and technologically advanced planet. Had they been able to move in to space they might have escaped their fate.

06 The Tiberon Anomaly
First recorded by Old Era Spacers during the first colonial expansion, the Tiberon Anomaly is a region of space egregiously warped and damaged by an unknown energy source, leading to wormholes that actually project back and forward in time. Speculated that the weakening of space explains the problem with Kedrak Prime’s sun. Others suspect that the Keddirak were once more technologically advanced, or had precursors who created a timespace weapon that damaged the region badly long ago.

46 Serpicus
A peaceful, primitive species of reptilians dwell on Serpicus, which is a pleasant, humanlike world. The reptiloids of Serpicus are currently dealing with the incursion of a New Germanican starbase in their system, and active colonization efforts that are simultaneously trying to subjugate and enslave the Serpicans. The leader of this colonization is Talia Guthrie, Supreme Commander of Colonial Station Alpha. It is so far New Germanica’s best colonization effort. A major goal is to create a new refinery and generator to replenish the exhausted foldspace engines of the colony ship, to allow for communication and travel back to the homeworld. The colony knows that the homeworld survived a Void Lord incursion but for secrecy has not been notified that they have gained access to anti-matter technology.

62 NGC 44379-8 (Destination)
This abandoned system contains no noteworthy resources and an ordinary binary star system. Unknown to most, the indigenous species is an offshoot of humanity which was captured and placed in a colony in the system’s Kuiper Belt, in a complex series of engineered worlds, and hidden through cloaking technology. The humans are aggressive and have developed fairly current technology over the centuries; all are descended (possibly) from the original spacers who scouted the system but disappeared nearly a thousand years ago. Their captors are a mystery. The spacers call their home “Destination.”

15 Empty Space (Void station Vartinimos)
Hidden in this otherwise empty sector is the Vartinimos Naval Yard, built in a region where a brown dwarf and the debris of a half-formed planetary system still resides. The naval yard is the home base of a major hidden Void Lord fleet led by the Void Knight Commodore Malice, a cunning human woman converted in the early years of the Void Lord invasion to the cause.

13 The Second Anomaly
This anomalous region is like the Tiberon Anomaly recorded in hex 04, but unlike that hex this one has not been charted, though Void Lord scouts have found the anomaly. The fleet in hex 07 has a contingent plan to retreat to a known safe harbor in this sector which will mask their vessels; they are currently investigating the possibility they can use the wormholes to return to an earlier era and advance their invasion in a time before human expansion had taken hold, likely during the early era of Spacer Colonization when humanity would be especially vulnerable, or even as far back as the pre-spacefaring era of mankind (plot hook, anyone?)

01, 53, 73, 68 Black Holes
Cataloged black holes, there are an anomalously large number in the region.

27 NGC 1429 (Habaris)
The system of Habaris is mostly uninhabitable but a thriving colony of aggressive space savages dwells in a shanty town of collected asteroid bases and half-functioning ships. Unknown as to why they congregated here. Their presence makes for a dangerous risk to outsiders. One theory is that they are survivors of the Void Lord purge who escaped mental enslavement, but at the expense of sanity. The system also contains extensive colony remains of what was once a New Germanican station and city on Habaris Prime; evidence suggests that it was annihilated by the Void Lords. There are a handful of survivors who are currently dwelling in mining tunnels where they are hiding from the space savages, who they know arrived like dogs of war in the wake of the Void Lords.

47 Remandalis
The human colonists of Remandalis were related to the New Germanicans, and was their first colony attempt over two centuries ago, but it suffered a terrible fate as their world suffered a natural disaster due to a cometary bombardment. The survivors are technologically savvy and peaceful, but dwell in deep subterranean bunkers due to the utterly wild and uninhabitable surface, which is wracked by super-storms and extreme radiation. The colonists have discovered subterranean remains of an incredibly old civilization that they now believe colonized the planet three million years ago for unknown reasons, and have found evidence it may have harbored prisons for incredibly ancient aliens. The chamber of one such prison has been excavated, revealing an immense corpse and fossil skeleton nearly a quarter mile long.  

21 Bothar
The world of Bothar is a colony of the aggressive Quinlons, who migrated in to this region a few years after the passing of the Void Lords. The original colony was a monitoring station, used by the Quinlon mercenaries working for the Empire during the war, but it has since been claimed as a Quinlon imperial territory after the Quinlon/Makamian relations collapsed. The current base has a small defense force and refuels the Quinlon vessels that operate in the region. In the Dark Stars universe the Quinlons are aggressive, dangerous opponents of humanity, and look a bit like they walked off the set of Fury Road and onto the set of Predators….but with even more bony bits sticking out.

63 NGC-184923 (Hapson’s World)
The abandoned world of this trinary system is wracked with bizarre gravitational anomalies caused by severe local spatial distortions. There is a small research station in a stable corner of the system, the Kaon Monitoring Station, which is actually a front for military weapon design by the Toho Megacorporation, operating in what it considers independent space to avoid Imperial scrutiny.

33 Chalice
The grassy, friendly planet of Chalice is offset by the alien, aggressive centauroid Hammagath, who are primitive but powerful beings. They dislike offworlders, especially due to the fact that Quinlon like to kidnap them and haul them off to arenas for battle.

31 Graedos
This system has one habitable planet named Graedos locally, with indigenous falcon-men, who call themselves “the Graedii.” They are naturally aggressive and are locked in a lengthy cultural dark age of war and religious persecution. Visitors admire the planet’s impressive natural spires turned into amazing fortresses.

61 NGC 1338765
This cataloged star system shows evidence of an advanced ancient civilization that wiped itself out. The system is littered with ancient structures dating back 1.2 million years, and is noted for its impressive graveyard of ancient vessels, some of which still contain salvageable lost tech.

65 Hathor
The denizens of Hathor are humanoids who look very close to humans, and failed research efforts to study the Hathorites have failed to determine if they are genetically related or an example of convergent evolution. What prompts such questions is the well-established society of quasi-Egyptian ways, beliefs and architecture that encompass the equatorial band of life on the planet. The similarities are regarded as too much for comfort, and it is believed by those who have visited that the Hathorite reflect a lost group of humanity that was kidnapped and displaced on this world. Also of note is that the rogue Void Knight Sapellar, a reptiloid convert who somehow escaped control of the Void Lords during their retreat, has come to reside on Hathor and has convinced the locals to worship him as a god. He has been single-handedly escalating their society from an ancient tech civilization to a near-future singularity in the space of a decade.

30 Trigaros
The second local Quinlon colony, Trigaros was a rough world that had been terraformed partially back in the late 29th century before the Megacorp Ion abandoned the project, and also abandoned hundreds of workers for unknown reasons possibly related to an extraction cost. The humans who survived on the planet were able to hang on until the Quinlons arrived after the Void Lords fled the sector, and took over. For the last decade Trigaros has turned into a Quinlon military enclave and a refuge for the worst scum and villainy at the edge of frontier space.

00 Severis (and Optima)

The second system once claimed during the Megacorporate era by Ion, Optima was fully terraformed for human use when Ion folded during the Corporate Wars. The survivors were left to fend for themselves, but in 2254 a rogue moon entered the system, causing havoc with local orbits. Optima appeared doomed, but the survivors lucked out when a exploration ship of Mindoids stumbled across the colonists and assisted in moving a large number to the outer moon of Severis. As Optima was turned into a molten world when its own moons collided in the wake of the rogue planet’s passing, they found instead a weird future in the Mindoid colony station on Severis. Now the humans work as mentally enslaved agents of the Mindoids.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Classic Edition GM's Screen Kickstarter

Just a reminder to fans of B/X D&D and Richard LeBlanc of New Big Dragon Games to check this Kickstarter out....if you love cool GM screens, this one ought to grab your attention:

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Batman V. Superman - Dawn of Justice (review from an unabashedly biased DC fanboy)

In fair disclosure I have been a DC Comics fan --and specifically a Batman fan-- longer than I've been in to D&D, Star Wars* or even cowboys and World War II. I was pretty much Batman for most of age 4 (and occasionally Underdog, but that didn't quite take), wearing mask and cape constantly, I have been told. I jumped formally into DC Comics (moving away from Marvel) after the Crisis on Infinite Earths....I was still an avid collector of DC and Marvel before then, but post-Crisis DC really captured me, and I never let up, collecting 90% of DC from around 1986 to 1990 when college and women started vying for my attention. I stayed a loyal DC fan well in to the nineties, splitting my time only with Image for a while. I gave it up somewhere in the early 00's but that had to do with life circumstances, and was much less a choice. I came back a few years ago, thanks to the New 52 and the sudden realization that I could do so once more....and I've been pretty dedicated ever since. New 52 was a good way for me to return, and I have always appreciated DC as a broad spectrum of tales and worlds; I hadn't exactly been married to some of the prior eras; all iterations of the DC Universe has its good and bad, in other words.


So when I say that watching Batman V. Superman - Dawn of Justice is probably about as close to a religious experience as I am likely to feel, please understand that I realize I have a bit of a bias. Much of this movie was like experiencing profound, deep entertainment about characters I've been closely attached to...characters that I never thought I'd see together outside of Youtube cosplay fanfic.

So....was BvS good for normal non-DC-obsessed humans? As a DC fanatic I absolutely say yes. This is the comics writ large, in a Earth 3 or Earth 4 (or something) not far off from the DC universe of the comics. It's an amazingly fun ride, and spends about 2 hours and 40-odd minutes working hard to build up A DC Universe films have never envisioned but which comics have been nurturing for nearly a century. It was....eerie and amazing to watch this movie. Much more so even than watching Avengers, if only because Avengers had a gentle slope of solo movies leading up to it, and it had a roster of heroes who had rarely been depicted in film before (and the few who had were done a great injustice).

DC and Warner Brothers have some big hurdles, though. The film carries on in director Zak Snyder's darker tone set by Man of Steel, and that's a tone that, despite Man of Steel and a trilogy of grim Batman films, is at odds with the prior, lighter and much campier Superman and Batman films of a prior era. At one time in the past DC dominated superhero films, and it was all with the tone considered appropriate for its time. This movie ditches that completely in favor of a tone much closer the contemporary films as well as a dark mirror of Miller's Dark Knight Returns. In fact, this movie owes a lot to Frank Miller as well as some other works (including the Doomsday/Death of Superman event, albeit a truncated and more palatable iteration).

So when I say that one's enjoyment of this movie will depend heavily on how you received the Man of Steel and the prior Batman trilogy (which is not part of this new cineverse other than setting tone) I am not kidding: if you didn't like the new Superman in MoS, you are not probably going to be happy with his version here.

As for Batman, he's amazing, and possibly one of the closest adaptations to the comic seen to date. Batman is shockingly well portrayed by Ben Affleck, who manages to completely own the role to the point where about 60% of this movie feels like a Batman film in its own right. He's a darker Batman, though, and one in a post Marvel cineverse where heroes may kill badguys on occasion, but aren't overly concerned about it. Odds are, if you're not a fan of a post-Reeves darker Superman, then when you see what the Batman in BvS gets up to you'll likely be a bit incensed.

I assure you, though, this is the first time any DC movie has tried to seriously portray these characters in a manner consistent with the "best" of the DC comics spectrum. It's really hard to beat.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is a secondary player in the film but gets some important screen time. Her appearance is great, and her tit-for-tat with Batman even better. She's much closer to the current, sword-wielding Wonder Woman, albeit with the addition of her immortality brought to the fore. I am really looking forward to her solo movie now.

The movie spends some time world-building very casually and cleverly when you're not expecting it. There's a lot of not-so-subtle hinting that Darkseid and Apokalypse is in the DC Cineverse's near future (probably the Justice League movie). One of the stranger scenes in the film even shows dog soldiers and para-demons on a bleak post-apokalyptic Earth in which Superman may have fallen to Darkseid's control (those scenes of a goggle-wearing, gun-toting Batman in the desert come from this sequence, which is less a dream and more a premonition). Other sequences hint at Wonder Woman's history in World War I, Batman's history in Gotham (what may be Robin's suit, defaced by the Joker, as well as a burnt out husk of Wayne Manor), and we get to see very brief and intriguing cameos of Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman. There's even a Mother Box cameo. A Mother Box! On screen!

This movie had a lot of stuff in it. If they didn't need to so quickly make up for lost time in world-building they really could have cut about 40 minutes out and it would barely of scratched the core story. Despite that, it ripped along at a breakneck pace, and felt like they probably left another hour on the cutting room floor (or the recycle bin on the OS).

So what's there to complain about in this movie? I may be a DC fanboy but there are a few noteworthy items that I feel compelled to point out. First and biggest was the overt and gratuitous need for CGI in the film. The final fight sequence, while amazing, was also dark and this only emphasized how much of what we were watching was CGI (good CGI, but still). Some of the best shots were more reserved in the overt use of CGI, leading to (for example) the best Batman fight sequence yet seen on film, period. Other superhero movies have managed to pull this off to better effect, I feel...and I hate to say it, but staying away from night-time shots, and putting more color in to the film both would probably help to lessen the overt "in your face" feel of the CGI sequences here.

Batman's not shy when it comes to guns in this movie. Most of it makes sense (sniper rifle that fires tracking devices, or the grenade launcher he loads with kryponite-laden gas, for example), but Batman in the comics has an aversion to guns** which is profound, due to his childhood trauma....this Batman is more practical (and ultimately that's part of what draws the comparison to Miller's Batman). Still, early on he is shocked and horrified to witness Superman "saving" Metropolis from the Kryptonian invaders, trashing the city in the process....the view from the street in the movie was incredibly visceral and frightening, and Bruce Wayne being caught up in it was a great way to show just what a fight like that would feel like to the onlookers. Still, it set an expectation that got rather soundly walloped when Batman himself later careens through Gotham in a street chase that must have left more than a few thugs dead.

The movie also really made some core assumptions about its audience: at the very least it projects you in to the middle of an ongoing world, which is cool; but it definitely relies on the audience being of two minds: one would be the crowd that doesn't mind not knowing why Wayne manor is a torched ruin or why Superman was fighting in Metropolis at the beginning (if they didn't see Man of Steel). The other is the comic crowd that is eating up every detail and wondering what all the foreshadowing will lead to. Unfortunately I expect there will be a third group that is annoyed with all the intense but referential world building that either requires blind faith to understand or an encyclopedic familiarity the DC comics universe. These people will probably find the entire movie a bit frustrating.

Despite those criticisms, which are at best rather minor, this was an amazing movie. I can see critics hating it, but screw those guys.....this movie was amazing. And seeing Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman together on screen for the first time (and it's not a fanfic cosplay youtube video or porn parody!) was sheer spectacle.

I mean: seeing Batman figure out how to dodge being killed by Doomsday? Yeah, it was at that moment I realized that DC Comics can never, ever go back to the way it was before. Welcome --at last!-- to the future DC Cineverse. WB had better not flinch....this one needs to grow, big time. I can hold myself over on Marvel films, but pretty much all I want now is DC. We've got a good start....let's see if Suicide Squad can keep the momentum.


*I was dressing as Batman at age 4, and it would be another 2 years before Star Wars hit in 1977. Wooo way to date myself.

**Except for that part in the earliest issues of Detective Comics where he had no problem with guns, of course....or all the other times he uses guns (i.e. "rubber bullets, promise.")

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tales from the Sea of Chirak III: Beware of Sleepy Portside Towns

I have no idea if these are entertaining to read or not, but I'm enjoying writing them because I have unexpectedly discovered that putting sessions into a recap narrative is really helping me as GM...much better than relying on my messy notes! So regardless of how exciting they are, I shall continue this practice....

Last session Navira, Ungarak and Tia found themselves post-shipwreck in a quiet town called Kataspar, with the enigmatic Nehenac as their guest and the survivors of Captain Antare's ship in tow. In the middle of the night Ungarak awoke to see strange happenings up at the temple on the bluff overlooking the bay...

At the crack of dawn Ungarak awoke and roused his compatriots. They found the town quiet...too quiet...and a thick seaside fog had rolled in. There was evidence of something amiss....watery tracks in the inn's dining area, leading to (or from?) the kitchen, where the cook's dress and garb lay on the ground in a pool of water and seaweed. The tracks, strangely looked inhuman, and appeared to leave the building, heading out to sea....

The group investigates the town's dock area, while Captain Antares sends his sailors further in to find evidence of the locals. No one has any's as if they all transformed and walked in to the water. Suddenly, the group along the docks hears screams and shouts of murder from that moment Tia notices that the severed head of the jungle troll is missing from the entrance to the tavern (see last session!).....not good....!

The group rushes in to a cluster of houses and finds an 18 foot tall jungle/forest troll murdering sailors. They attack, and have a furious battle in which through mostly luck no one suffers a grievous wound (also, the paladin stands firm in taking the brunt of the attacks). The troll is at last destroyed and then thoroughly burned.

Around this time the Captain arrives with backup, and while investigating what happened, another sailor arrives, mentioning that he had gone to secure the river barge to prepare to leave, but the barge is now resting on the bottom of the bay floor.....because, it turns out, the tide is completely out.

The players had just been down there not minutes earlier, and realized something bad was happening....the tide going out like that, so quickly, could only mean a tsunami-style flood....they (and the NPCs) immediately ran for the highest ground, where the temple on the overlook was.

They arrived at the temple on the overlook in time to see a great wave and flood engulf the town and much of the coast for miles around. The barge they had planned to rent/pirate to reach Port Dunnare came untethered and was washed ashore deep in to town. No living souls in town, of course....but had there been, it would have been devastating.

In the weird temple, which Tia and Ungarak quickly identify as containing iconography and abyssal runes to the 113 Demon Gods and Piscrael, is an old temple caretaker.....and someone much more, they suspect. They also find a passage down  behind the old temple altar, with a barred gate to a steep staircase. The temple keeper tells them a story of how the town labors under a weird curse, and that the sea periodically tries to take the villagers for its own....but the temple and its gods keep them safe, transforming the villagers (how exactly he doesn't say) in to a form that insures they cannot be taken. He further says they are free to descend into the subterranean temple, where he claims many have taken refuge, or come to meditate on the spiritual offerings of the temple below. Navira has a bit of fun defacing some temple runes to distract the temple keeper.

The group decides to go down the stairs when the paladin hears the screams for help of a woman coming from below (Paladins! So predictable). They reach the bottom some two hundred feet below, opening in to another set of locked bars that the key opens...and evidence of much blood and a trail is found. They bypass the main hall and take a side passage to follow the blood trail, leading eventually to a refectory where three strangely acting acolytes of the temple suggest that they ought to be off, or at least properly going to the main temple first. The blood trail leads to another hall and a prayer chamber/room where a blood-drenched woman rests....a mirror in the room does not cast her reflection, and the group quickly finds themselves in a brutal fight with a vampire!!!

They defeat the vampire but now a temple priest/necromancer and a dozen acolytes have gathered to inquire as to their intent....they seem unperturbed by the "death" of the vampire...she was one of many, apparently, who are drawn to the temple to seek peace but who failed to find it. They advise the group should go to the temple and present themselves before the sacred pool of transformation, to see if the Vormiss will accept them....Navira uses some hefty charms to get the priest and his acolytes on her side in all this.

One of the acolytes turns out to be one of the missing sailors from Captain Antares' crew (they stayed topside, for the record). He has clearly been converted and brainwashed, possibly via magical means. Navira gets him to hand over his naval badge, as a proof they found him....but they decide to leave him be (to avoid a big fight, possibly).

The group ultimately decides to get out of here, retracing their steps, as they realize they might be in over their heads. They have a brief encounter with three minotaurs who are also dedicates to Piscrael or the mysterious Vormiss. They flee rather than fight.

Up top they run in to a gang of Kuo Toa who have taken the sailors and Captain Antares prisoner. More negotiation and charm effects later and the Kuo Toa hand over the captain and his men in exchange for pearls the PCs offer to buy them back. The group quickly leaves town, after confirming the flooding and tsunamis have stopped.

Back in town, the villagers have mysteriously reappeared, back from whatever transformation kept them safe. The villagers quickly help recover the barge amidst repairing the flooded town, and the bargemaster agrees to hastily get the foreigners on their way.

The journey takes a day and a half to get to Dunnare. Along the way they see muddy flats caused by the backwash from the flooding on the coast, witness giant ants in action, bypass an immense body of seaweed washed in that runs for miles, and have a brief encounter with a tentacled demon that claims they have all escaped the proper death of the sea, and so must pay....they manage to drive the demon off through a bit of clever bargaining.

The group at last arrives in Dunarre, a smaller port than Corlione, but with better defenses and an impressive Naval Shipyard in service to Espanea. The group quickly heads in different directions:

Ungarak finds the local temple of the forgotten gods and meets a priestess surprised to discover a paladin of her order is in town. He also notices the new temple, to the mysterious Hun'hunal, being built nearby.

Navira goes with Nehenac, finds the Royal Inn and prepares to enjoy a stay when she witnesses the minotaur Kargath, priest of Hun'hunal, being kicked out. She bribes the innkeeper to let him stay and then tries to figure out more details on who Kargath is....he's as much a troublemaker as a priest, it seems.

Tia finds the temple of Kalie'Yana, which pales in comparison to the Acropolis Temple in Corlione. She finds room and board as a priestess there, while fishing for information on where to go next. The news that is most interesting: no one locally knows what the recent tidal flood was caused by (no local volcanic eruptions or earthquakes to account for it), and it mostly damaged the portion of Dunnare built along the lower area of the river isthmus....most of this city is walled and fortified at high ground, specifically to avoid such tsunami-like floods.

More importantly: Tia finds out that a flotilla of Masirian ships are expected to arrive soon, as part of a diplomatic tour in which the Masirian royalty was invited by King Darego himself to come visit Espanea. Word of this reaches Nehenac, and the PCs spend time convincing him that vengeance against the descendants of those who imprisoned him now is not a good idea, but Nehenac is still seething with desire for revenge.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday Blaaagh!!!! On the physicality of books in gaming

This is physicality in the sense of "having a physical presence." We're talking, of course, print books. There's a division in the gaming hobby between people who can and do function quite well in electronic media, and those who really need a print book for the table. In the middle of this Venn Diagram is a segment that needs both (I'm square in the middle).

Some people can navigate their tablets and laptops with great ease and find PDFs that aren't properly bookmarked and indexed to be intensely annoying. Others find it quicker, easier or maybe just more comfortable to pull out the physical book and flip to page X. These are both styles that work great for most....but in the middle of it all are people like myself (I assume I am not alone in this corner) who actually quite enjoy access to both mediums for different reasons.

With an electronic edition I can read it on the go without hauling around a metric ton of tomes. I can read the PDF at lunch, on break, in environments or conditions that otherwise make it prohibitively difficult to drag out a 300 page hard cover to read. Those places are surprisingly common, and you don't notice how many places you can read until you have a convenient tablet allowing you to do so.

But at the game table I really need a physical book. Navigating PDFs on a tablet continues to be an obnoxious process and I am probably part of the last generation to feel that way, but at least for now it's still something that comes more naturally to me with a print book. The biggest reason, of course, is that I can have multiple tomes available and in front of me with no effort of loss of functionality (just clutter) whereas on my tablet having 5-10 books open at once is taxing my poor Nexus 7 in ways it does not like. Even my bigger Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 gets annoyed with too much stuff open....they're fine tablets, but they don't really grokk what a tabletop gamer needs to function properly.

I expect a lot of my problem is just one of my generation....the bridge/gap generation between old and new, there are probably a lot of 40-somethings falling on both sides of the fence, those who are quicker to adapt the technology and figure out how to work with it, and those who are not. To some extent, I wonder if the versatility of these devices works especially well in conjunction with the OSR movement and other gaming factions such as the FATE crowd or the -World crowd, where the games themselves function quite well on tablets by virtue of having a design that doesn't require a lot of page-flipping or multiple monolothic tomes remaining open. I am pretty sure, for example, that I could have run White Star from my tablet with minimal fuss had I not still preferred all the awesome little books I had lying around.

This is what your tablet looks like on the inside

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Kickstarter Madness: Mystery at Port Greely, Quests of Doom 3 and New Big Dragon Games GM Screen

First: I've backed out of the Conan Kickstarter entirely. It sounds, to be honest, "too good to be true" at this phase and I sort of feel like it's a Kickstarter gone mad. Admittedly, Modiphius (if any!) can pull it off....but that's a lot of stuff for some way-too-cheap backer prices. I want (and expect) them to succeed because I want Conan goodness.....but the risk averse portion of my psyche got overwhelmed by what the Kickstarter is promising against the comparable cost.

New Big Dragon (Richard LeBlanc) is doing a GM Screen Kickstarter for B/X and Labyrinth Lord games. It's a nice looking screen! Check it out:

Even better, Frog God Games returns to 5th Edition with a Quests of Doom 3 tome. I'm definitely backing this one:

Finally, there's still a couple weeks on it but a new Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea scenario is in the works: "The Mystery at Port Greely," and the backing price is cheap ($20 for the book). Only the anachronistic names of the AS&SH modules sometimes gets to me....hardcore swords & sorcery adventures with adventures that sound like riverside vacation spots near Arkham!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Middle Earth comes to D&D

Cubicle 7 announced that it will be producing a new D&D-powered edition of Middle Earth role playing, and it looks like it will be coming from the crew behind One Ring. They will continue to support One Ring, based on the announcement, but now fans of D&D who would like to see the setting in their preferred system can do so (I would be in that corner of the demographic). I'm kind of excited about this! I've always wanted to see a version of D&D done for actual Middle Earth gaming.

It's set for a Summer 2016 release. We may not have much more than Barovia and the Sword Coast for official D&D 5E, but in terms of 3PP we've gotten Primeval Thule, and now add Middle Earth itself along with the future plans for Scarred Lands to the list. 2016 is shaping up to be a great year for 5E.

Warlords of Lingusia: The Abyssal Age Part I: Have Time Cube will Travel

My Saturday game is missing some players this month as various people are out traveling to exotic locations and doing interesting things. We decided to do something a bit unusual.....we dragged out a mess of old level 13-15 characters from two prior campaigns and did a revisiting....which is always fun, especially in Pathfinder, where it is quite possible to spend as much time trying to remember how to play a high level character as it is rolling one fresh.

The group consisted of:

Pennywhistle the Bard, a swuave halfling adventurer who has been on many, many adventures in both the future timeline of Lingusia (Warlords era) and also the past (Ages eras) thanks to his time traveling status as an agent of the Seraphim Aeon, servant of Huaarl, god of time.

Revan the elven monk and servant of the sun god Naril, cohort of Pennywhistle and also an avatar, both of Naril, and servant of Aeon as well.

Malin, shadow fetchling rogue of Gloomwrought who has adventured on various material planes but most recently for a vacation in the Realms of Chirak, so this is her first time exploring the dominion of Lingusia. Her recent adventures with the Pillar of Eternity suffused her with chronoton particles, meaning her last plane shifting moved her in both space AND time....

The adventurers found themselves from their various places of retirement gate-shifted into the abandoned, ancient temple of the time god Huuarl called The Cave of Time, resting before the immense statue of Aeon, Seraph of Time. Pennywhistle and Revan have been here before on prior adventures....they know that their tales as chrononaut agents of the time god are recorded in the temple, and sure enough, it now mentions their return to the current era, as well as alluding to other future adventures yet to come. The Aeon Cube, the device used to travel in time, is resting in the statue's hands. They take it....and make the acquiantance of Malin, who is getting oriented.

While figuring out their situation the hidden passage to the Cave of Time is opened from the outside. Four adventurers discover the trio: Da Kataan De (a Zatacani warrior scout), Tanser Kel of Markek (human Octzellan druid), Asaea the Sharp (half-orc paladin of Graethos) and Tennos (hobgoblin champion of the Troll Queen). Asaea is the leader....they were hired by a local city, Rithias, to recover the Aeon Cube. The city, it turns out, is being threatened by the army of the Ogre King, who has said if the city hands over the cube then he will not raid and pillage. The group volunteered to find the Aeon Cube to save the city from what is apparently an overwhelming force.

Tanser Kel, it turns out, was a younger man when he had met the PCs.....but some years ago when they first explored the region of the Great Plateau and discovered the Cave of Time, Tanser was their druid guide from the village of Markek, which was being attacked by cylcopses who were driven by the spirit of the mad druid Waer'Ganos. The adventurers saved Tanser's village and drove both the demonic spirit of the druid and the cylcopses away.

The trio decides to help. They initially set out with the younger, less experienced adventurers to go to Rithias. After leaving the temple they travel along the Sullen Northern Lake, where spawn of a froghemoth gather and follow, but are wary to attack....they remember how the adventurers slew their mother six years earlier.

The party reaches a main road and shortly are confronted by a squadron of ogre warriors riding fiendish rhinos. The leader, Commander Gromask, moves to parlay after a combination of intimidation from Revan and bardic magic from Pennywhistle send his troops fleeing......Gromask does not flee but can tell these are powerful warriors. Gromask reveals he was sent by the Ogre King Greymasque to make sure the Rithians honored their deal, and to take the Aeon Cube.

The adventurers convince Gromask to take them to his Ogre King directly. They bypass Rithias, though the druid is sent in to town to notify them that the avatars of Aeon are on the job.

At the encampment of the Ogre King the group sees a large army of about 80% ogres and 20% mercenary monsters of other types, though it appears trolls are not a part of the retinue. They meet with the Ogre King, Greymasque, in his tent where three ogress concubines recline, along with his retinue of guards and his two orc advisors: the sorceress Saegrath and the warlord-mercenary Shagan.

The discussion is amiable: they learn that Greymasque has been ruling from the Griffon Mountains to the north, ever since his new queen, Tiriel, appeared and gave him the wisdom to rule. He has united a fierce army, but it threatens the northern subterranean kingdom of Endanir, where the troll queen Zesperida rules. Their forces have clashed, in the winding passages of the Lower Deeps, but no major action as yet. Unexpectedly, Tiriel was attacked with magic, and placed in some sort of stasis holding her outside of time. Greymasque instructed Saegrath to fix the problem....she couldn't, but she knew of the Cave of Time and thought the artifact of Aeon might reverse the queen's condition.

The group also figures out that Tiriel is actually not an ogre or anything: she's a drow! Specifically, an ashtarth drow of Dahik to the east, and possibly exiled royalty. It seems her two sisters rule Dahik but she was driven out for unknown reasons, and now seeks to use Greymasque to forge an empire in the empire carved from the troll queen's own empire. Tennos, the hobgoblin champion of the troll queen, does not like this. He tries to slip away to get a message to his queen, but the crew intervenes and talks him in to a wait and see mode.

They convince Greymasque to let them try and fix her condition. Malin has an artifact of Chirak: one of the Iron Spikes of a cult of demons which use the nails as dimensional anchors to "lock" them on the material plane....she wonders if it might disrupt some time displacement. Failing that, Pennywhistle has some curse removal he can try.

They march three days north with the king's retinue, which is uneventful because no wandering monster is going to tussle with an army of ogres and high level adenturers.They eventually arrive at the Griffon Mountains and Greymasque's massive southern fortress, stretching along the length of an entire mountain. In a crystalline cathedral in a glass coffin they find the tall dark elf Tiriel, both at rest and clearly frozen in time. They double check to confirm the ogre king has tried waking her with a kiss, once they see at the base of her coffin what was found with her: a golden apple with a single bite. The ogre king confirms, yes, that's like the FIRST thing anyone tries in a case like this, duh.

The group determine's Malin's artifact won't disrupt what looks like a curse in the form of some sort of permanent time stop. Pennywhsitle tries to lift the curse and with a shockingly good caster check he succeeds! The time stasis leaves Tiriel, though it now reveals after further discovery that someone has removed her soul and is trapped in a soul jar somewhere else, and she is still not awakening.

Through Legend Lore the group pieces together that Tiriel was indeed exiled by her sisters, and sought to forge a new kingdom in the west using Greymasque. She had plans to move on Zesperida's realm, it looks like. There are multiple suspects in who could have done this, and it is unclear why she thought eating from the golden apple was a good idea....but the apple appears to be a very magical object all on its own.

The group asks Greymasue to let them investigate by traveling to the troll queen's realm of Endanir. There they will confront Zesperida, queen of the Mihidir trolls, and see if she is behind this. They have a bit of a plan: if Tiriel's real design is on returning to Dahik and wresting control from her sisters, maybe they can convince the troll queen to forge an alliance to strengthen her territory?

Greymasque introduces them to a guide to get them through the Halale Wilderness to the cave entrance of Endanir: Zuun, the ratkin scout. He is only six years old, but already an adult by his kin's standards....his father was a ratkin swashbuckler captain that the crew used to travel with, and who had some prolific affairs with other ratkin women in the region back then. Zuun is ready to serve!

The group begins their journey through the Halale Wilderness.....a dominion still haunted by the demonically corrupted spirit of the ancient elven druid Waer'Ganos, who has a beef with the adventurers....


NOTES: This is a group known for it's ability to avoid using force by virtue of having one character (Pennywhistle) who can hit mid-forties skill rolls with bluff/diplomacy with ease, and the monk Revan who can do intimidate in the high thirties and low forties with little trouble. As a result, the way I tend to play it is lesser encounters usually figure out quickly that they are outmatched and will back down, flee, or cooperate. This leads to a lot of "non battles" which is fine with me!

The actual adventurers Revan and Pennywhistle are part of what was a larger group of 6 adventurers that gamed in the same campaign from 2010-2012, reaching level 14 before "retiring" after which they have had a couple more one-shot adventures. Their campaign defined the bulk of the Warlords of Lingusia era of the campaign, with their adventurers starting in 3,494 and reaching 3,502 in tonight's game. Missing from the group is the monk Horus, the Ratkin Swashbuckling Captain who's name I forget, a psionic elf, and a female half-orc paladin (named Target); there are others who were in-and-out as well.

Malin came from a lengthy level 1-15 campaign in Chirak which also involved time travel and was one of my most batshit crazy campaigns to date. She is a planar denizen so her presence in a different prime material plan isn't all that difficult to account for, actually.

Going back to Pathfinder at high level is easy pleasy for this group, which is very relaxed about the process and much more in to the diplomatic/social element then getting in to constant fights. Pathfinder high level fights tend to be crazily swingy, I've noticed...either the PCs wipe out the opposition with overwhelming force, of the opposition has some key immunity or attack that is devasating in turn. Still....there will be some fights, especially next session! I hope, anyway.....they will probably talk the monsters out of it and make friends.

Also, a hearty endorsement for Monster Codex. It's a very useful book when you want to use more conventional races for high level gaming and (as I do) you have no time or desire to spend hours working out stat blocks.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Kult - Divinity Lost Kickstarter

Damnit. Seriously...I don't need to be backing any Kickstarters....but Kult.....Kult is one of a handful of games that hold a very special place to me, and it remains my preferred grim, nihilistic gnostic horror setting and system. I may have to back this.

If you're not sure what the deal with Kult is, it's a horror game that originated in Sweden and went through roughly three iterations state side over the last few decades. It has had a card game based on it with gorgeously disturbing art. It's the game you go to play when you are feeling like you want to mix a bit of Clive Barker's Hellraiser with a dollop of Angel Heart, and maybe a dash of Twin Peaks thrown in for good measure (but in which everyone ends up in Oblivion at the end). It's about Metropolis, the city of the damned which stretches from one edge of your nightmare to the next, luring you to at last wake up from the "reality" of your current dream.

Back in the day I ran Kult adventures but not many campaigns....characters in my Kult games had a definite lifespan, either due to their frail mortality or their delicate psyches being rocked to bits. It was a tougher, meaner game I often felt than Call of Cthulhu. CoC was perverse in its aim at making man a speck of inconsequence on the inimical universe, yes. But Kult? Kult made the universe an intimate nightmare, a dreaming byproduct of purgatory for dead gods from which we were all one bad experience away from awakening from. So in CoC sure, the universe care nothing for us and star gods awakened. But in Kult, the universe wasn't even real, and the underlying nightmare was the devastation of a gnostic demiurge that decided "fuck it" and left.

The only problem I forsee is the use of the Apocalypse World Engine to power the game. It's not the full engine....they are modding it heavily to get rid of much of the player agency built in to the design of the -World games, which seems like an odd choice because fans of the AW style game experience really tend to think freeform play and heavy player agency are key to their experience...Kult fosters the opposite, at least when it comes to player agency....this is something you take away in the kind of horror Kult creates.  Still, I get the feeling the designers (a gang of Swedish gamers for whom this is their first KS) like the action economy of DW and that's why they're going with it. (Atleast they didn't choose FATE....!)

No matter.....Kult makes a return (fingers crossed) and I will be there.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Blaaagh Monday! The Lazarus War I: Artefact by Jamie Sawyer and more

Too much work....too much home stuff....everyone came down with strep in the last few days (including me, right now....ugh...) and so I am behind in setting up blog content. Here are six random things/comments going on:

1. First: go read The Lazarus War I: Artefact by Jamie Sawyer. It's a brilliant mesh of military SF and horror that I did not expect. In the future, mankind is facing a two front war with itself and an alien race that is (as is often the case) inimical to our understanding of life. The cutting edge soldiers are simulants...body sleeves controlled remotely by dedicated specialists who live, fight and die over and over again in their enhance bodies on the warfront. The story focuses on a team of veteran simulant pilots sent deep into the most dangerous corner of the alien territory...the Maelstrom, at which point I will say no more. Amazingly brisk, compelling read.

2. I am not buying in to Tom Clancy's The Division. I tried the beta on PS4 and was left with the most "meh" feeling I could ever experience. I'll wait for a game like this that involves alien invasions, zombies, or something more entertaining than the dubious practice of shooting desperate looters and survivors in a plague-ridden New York. Reviews may change my mind (I really felt like it could use a Die Hard kind of twist) but the beta was a let down, and felt to me like it was stepping in to some really creepy territory in terms of how an actual CDC event like this would play out. In Tom Clancy games, where realism (or the nod to such) is paramount, The Division feels like a step away. least it seems to have more to do than Rainbow Six: Siege...

3. Ubisoft's Far Cry: Primal is awesome, though. More on that soon. Whole family is playing it --including son, under careful supervision; the game is a bit on the comic-book side of neolithic life, but it's still far more accurate than any other effort in video game land to date.

4. Savage World's Beasts & Barbarians series is really cool, and worth checking out if you need a swords & sorcery & sandals fix.

5. Skyscrapers & Sorcery is also far more intriguing than I had anticipated. I am not sure precisely where to define it in the genre of modern fantasy, but it sort of rests in its own space and lets you fill in the blanks. My group has expressed an interest in testing it out soon.

6. Curse of Strahd is neat, but my plans to kidnap the current group of D&D 5E players into the Domains of Dread (well, Barovoia anyway) has been waylaid by the fact that the book is really aimed at a level 1-10 experience and the current group is already level 7-8.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Tales from the Sea of Chirak II: Have Ship, will Wreck

The kickoff session was short (a bit under 3 hours) and missing a full crew, but still, we got some gaming in. Yay!

Our group currently consists of a mixed bag of NPC sailors, some PCs missing the "P" part due to various vacations and absences, and three regulars:

Tia, an elven cleric of Kalie'Yana
Ungarak, a half-orc paladin dedicate to the Cult of the Forgotten Gods
Navira, a wayward human wizard and popular aristocrat of Corlione

The crew recently fled Isla Esrosania, a monster-haunted island with a dark secret and an ancient city of evil buried beneath it's volcanic peaks. More about that in a companion piece....for now, they are trying to escape on a leaky, abandoned merchant's ship they had salvaged, with a man named Nehenac that they rescued. Nehenac claims to be the immortal last Emperor of ancient Xaxican, held for centuries in the ancient city against his will by a cult of immortal alchemists who used the blood of his family line to create the elixirs of longevity that gave the Masirian elite their long lives. He's kind of a big deal to the powers that control Isla Esrosania right now....including the self-proclaimed lich king Malenkin.

The ship was assailed by a magical storm summoned by Malenkin and ultimately came apart under the constant battery. The group survived the ship sinking, thanks to water walking spells and water breathing potions on hand, but killer whales arrive to mop up drowning sailors. In a brutal fight the group clears out the whales and manages to save roughly 10 sailors, including absent PCs on auto-pilot right now. During the fight Nahenac helps, but his attack appears to be a necrotic life-draining strike with his bare hands...

As the storms die down, the group is left resting on a large chunk of debris from the shattered vessel. Out of the dark and fog a black ship crewed by skeletal minions of Malenkin, captained by the death knight Vas Kanadar, whom the group has met and fought previously in the subterranean city of Khorusan. Kanadar sails close, guns trained on the hapless crew, telling them that if they hand over Nehenac they will all live. The group scoffs and prepares to fight, but abruptly another ship arrives and's hard to make out what colors it's flying in the dark.

Tia conjured a whirlpool at the rudder area of the death knight's ship, to aid in restraining its movement against the attacker. The death knight dispatches three wraiths to deal with the crew, and focuses fire on the attacking ship. In the fight that ensues the ship never makes a successful save to break free of the whirlpool and the larger warship slowly blows it to pieces. A lucky strike from the skeleton ship ignites the gun powder reserves on the attacking vessel and blows it sky-high, but not before the crippled vessel is ripped into the whirlpool.

Tia. Ungarak and Navira with Nahenac fight the wraiths.....two are turned by Tia and flee, only to get caught in the cross-fire of the vessels. The last wraith is dispatched by Ungarak, who wields an ancient weapon called the Assassin Axe (an axe of returning). The death knight, before his ship goes down, fires an orb of abyssal fire at the crew to get his last revenge, but they survive. The whirlpool takes Vas Kanadar but no one thinks he is dead.

The crew notice two lifeboats fleeing the debris of the other ship, and hail them using light magic. The other ship was the Espanean Naval vessel "Furious Wrath" captained by Nikolo Antares of Port Dunnare, another Espanean city along the northern coast. He takes the survivors of the PCs and their henchmen sailors on with his surving men, and attempt to navigate south to shore.

Antares suspects the PCs were more than unfortunate merchants but does get out of them that they work for Kargan Thas (who is a bit like "Q" from James Bond in his role and reputation) and is satisfied knowing that much.

A day and a half later the crew are approaching shore, and from a remote town along the coast fishermen row out to aid in the rescue (the survivors on the two lifeboats had no fresh water, so it was starting to get unpleasant).  The sailors escort the survivors to the small bay of the town of Kataspar, a remote location isolated from most Espanean sea and overland trade routes.

The people are stand-offish and appear to wish the soldiers to recover and be on their way quickly. The group notices that the fisherman and locals have odd accents, and Navira identifies that they seem to speak with a mix of old Masirian and modern Espanean words....Nehenac determines that he thinks they are descended from the Masirian slaves who built the island fortress of the alchemists which held him captive.

The group also identifies a local temple, a one-story affair at a bluff overlooking the bay, with a single forty-foot black spire jutting from the building. Locals won't name the god or spirit the temple is dedicated to, calling him only "The Clawed One," or "He of the Many Forms." Ungarak and Tia both know those terms to be hidden references to the demiurge Piscrael, a known cult risk in the north of Espanea. Still....they decide to leave enough alone for now.

The group spends time at a local tavern and inn with a weird "sign" in the form of a live jungle troll head suspended just high enough over a brazier of hot coals to keep its regeneration in check. The sailors get a bit rowdy with some local serving maids and the group puts them in their place. They search out gossip, and try to aid the currently coinless captain Antares in securing passage for his men west to Dunnare to report in.

While poking about Navira overhears some fishermen at the end of the day warning they lost another to an attack of merrows. The merrows are acting hostile and the group doesn't know why....they are angry with the priest of the local temple, claiming that the offerings he provided to the "undercity" should be enough to appease the merrow. Hmmmm....

That night they relay concerns to Captain Antares and get some shut eye. In the middle of the night, Ungarak is awakened by noise, and outside his shutters he witnesses a strange bonfire at the top of the bluff behind the temple, where dozens of villagers are mingling with weird, hulking forms that are hard to identify. They dance and chant, and suddenly a multi-headded image materializes in the bonfire, and all collapse in tremors and shouts. The image is hard to make out but looks vile. It says something impossible to discern and then extinguishes....the crowd disperses, but the hulking forms lurch into the dark at the height of the bluff and Ungarak hears their splashes as they dive in to the bay....

To be continued!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tales from the Sea of Chirak I: What Has Come Before

I had a lot of fun recounting the adventures of the White Star campaign, and while it is on pause as I prep for Season Two down the road, I have returned to an ongoing Realms of Chirak campaign in Dungeons & Dragons 5E that I've been running. This campaign started at level 1, and progressed to level 7 when we paused to play White Star. To briefly catch you up to the current storyline's events, here's a quick rundown of what's been going on:

The group started as caravan guards escorting merchant to the barony of Ducher in the heart of the central Espanean Mountains. There they found work for the baron in locating local goblin and hobgoblin brigands, and also as a side quest to find a missing paladin named Tristan Amphaere. Their quest to stop the brigands took them to the Ruins of Old Kell, a lost dwarven colony that perished two centuries ago, and the entrance to the old dwarven citadel that was once ruled by King Dyson, which had long since been gutted and turned into a warren of monsters called Dyson's Delve (Plug! Get the book!)

After exploring all of Dyson's Delve the group ran into an organized orcish force led by an orc witch named Saegras, who had the paladin in captivity. She gave him back along with a reliquary to Akquinarios he had stolen from the temple, and ordered them to send a message to the Temple of Kalie'Yana that she would not suffer any incursions into her mountains, and that the orcs would claim the land once more. On returning to the barony they were asked by the baron to travel to the regional capital of Corlione and report on the amassing orcish forces, the witch's message, and return the paladin who was suffering some serious PTSD.

The goup had a interesting river trip to Corlione, and in the city became embroiled in a bit of politics before attracting the eye of Spymaster Kargan Thas, who hired them to journey aboard a ship called the "Musky Merman" under a privateer named Katarina Danzante, a mixed-blood Espanean-Grelmanic pirate currently in "good" standing with Espanea. Their goal: to determine what cargo she is carrying to a mysterious location called The Secret City, sometimes known as Hathar, other times as Khorusan.

The ship journey was fraught with various dangers and in a very long tale rendered short the group ended up with a rickety abandoned ship, skeleton crew, and cargo brought in to the subterranean city of Khorusan at the center of a monster-infested island called Isla Esrosania. Here they found a subterranean water passage to a hidden grotto beneath the island where an ancient city had been turned into a pirate haven. The city itself was now dominated by three factions: the pirate coucil, the lich king Malenkin who had recently arrived with his army of the dead, and a group of ancient, immortal alchemists.

In an even longer tale of crazy the group got embroiled in rescuing a man named Nehenac, held by the alchemists and wanted by everyone else because he is apparently the last immortal empire of the lost realm of Xaxican. They escaped with him on their leaky boat, but not before the Lich King Malenkin sent a magically conjured storm after them...and that is where the tale begins as we pick up "Season Two" of this blog!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Mutant Genlab Alpha Kickstarter -- HOOOOOOOOPSSSSSS!!!!!


I have to back it. I wasn't going to (I do love Mutant Year Zero, want to run it) but I'm really trying to A: not back Kickstarters and B: not devote ALL of my money to Modiphius even though they are making that hard not to do.

But....HOOPS. Or the Mutant Year Zero equivalent. I am powerless.

70 hours left! I'm in for the Tribe Elder level, hoping that Zone Compendium print edition unlock goal is reached. saving money instead and making a new househld rule to stop backing Kickstarters, but I really hope this one succeeds and that all the stretch goals are available at retail in the future.