dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
    • Drifting Snow, chuzan former farmer.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Just before dawn, Amos decided that he should scout out the necromancers' camp and see what it was that they had to face. Without waking any of the others--the Green Knight was already awake--he crept out of the camp to the north to within sight of the enemy camp. There were three figures sleeping near the fire, one large, one medium-sized, and one small, but that was all he noticed before he realized that the sapling next to him was a pole, on top of which was a skull, which turned and glared balefully at him before opening its mouth and letting out a sustained, ear-piercing wail.

Amos leveled his musket and fired at the shapes and then ran. He wasn't even sure he hit anything in the darkness, but he did see that the walking dead were coming for him. He arrived back at camp and explained, and after trying to start a prairie fire and failing due to the sodden grass from all the rain, the party mounted up and rode south for a mile in the lightening sky until they were sure that they weren't being pursued. They debated going back to try again, but eventually decided that now that knew where the necromancers were headed, they would go back to Gyere and see if they could raise a mob.

The ride back to town was uneventful and they were let in with only minimal hassling from the militia. They rounded up the militia captain and went to the tea house Three Wheat Sheaves, where they found the Band of the Red Dove drinking and dicing within. So they decided to call the mercenaries over as well, and with Captain Crimson of the Band of the Red Dove, they sketched out a map of the local area and asked the militia captain if there was anything that the necromancer could be heading for, a graveyard or a place of power or something. The militia captain recalled, in broken Floral and then in Muskalan with Bonnie translating, that he had heard stories of a cursed cave to the west of Rockfort during his childhood and maybe that was their destination. Then the party drew up a contract with the Band of the Red Dove and rode out at the head of a company of mercenaries.  photo 58-2nsylaw.gif

There was some side discussion of getting mounts for the mercenaries to try to beat the necromancers to the cave, but it was eventually dismissed as unfeasible due to the cost of horses, the likelihood of actually finding thirty riding horses in a farming community, and the fact that oxen aren't suitable for riding.

The mercenaries force-marched, and Shining Star called up the witch-sight as she traveled, and by mid-afternoon she saw a grove in the distance with a shadow hanging over it like a cloud. Bonnie immediately drank spirit-flower tea when Shining Star mentioned the miasma, and she saw pairs of eyes watching them as they approached. The mercenaries sent out scouts, and when they reported back, the party drew up a plan.

The grove surrounded a cave mouth that reared out out of the ground in a tiny hill, with two skulls on posts in front of it. There were no walking dead or necromancers visible, and the party decided to move closer and take up positions in the surrounding woods and try to lure the necromancers out by activating the skull guardians. Elaphe would send his bob-omb familiar above the cave mouth and, when the necromancers appeared, it would drop on them and then they all would attack. The Green Knight gave a brief sermon to Drifting Snow and then summoned the power of the forest to armor him in bark. The bark split through his skin...but it was gnarled in strange ways, with odd purple moss growing on it. Drifting Snow stared, unsure if this was what was supposed to happen, as the mercenaries began their plan.

Two mercenaries charged forward into the sight of the skulls and, as they started to shriek, they tossed off small bombs that made loud noises and then ran back into the trees. As zombies started filtering up from the cave mouth, mercenary archers began firing at did Amos and the Green Knight. The other members of the party waited as more of the walking dead appeared from the cave, as well as one ghul, which Amos and the Green Knight focused on until it ran forward and the mercenaries fell on it with swords.

Then, another figure walked up from the depths of the cave. Skeletal, with green balefire burning in its eyesockets and wearing black robes, it looked around the clearing, taking in the walking dead full of arrows and the shapes it could see in the trees, and shouted something back down the cave mouth.
Elaphe's player: "Are there any signs that this is a necromancer?"
Me: "Other than the obvious necromancy?"
At his signal, Elaphe's bob-omb ran over the edge of the cave mouth and exploded as it hit the ground, sending the walking dead flying in all directions. The necromancer was barely visible in the smoke, fleeing back down the cave mouth, as the mercenary heavy foot charged forward, tossing a few bob-ombs as they did, and began dismembering the remaining zombies to prevent them from acting.  photo emot-black101.gif Then, the party configured. The cave didn't seem harmed at all by the explosion and the opening had jagged edges that were uncomfortably reminiscent of teeth, so collapsing the entrance didn't seem like it would work. The Green Knight opined that it might be the corpse of some unholy beast that the necromancers were attempting to raise and they would have to go in after them, and that is ultimately the course they chose. One of the mercenaries pulled a crystal out of a pouch and squeezed it, producing a flickering orange-red light as bright as a bonfire, as the mercenaries and party together moved into the cave mouth.

I expected the party to ambush the necromancers, but I suppose that is what they tried! Maybe if Amos had done better on his Stealth roll.

The players were originally thinking of bringing along a bunch of the town militia, but once they realized the mercenaries were still there they immediately thought about hiring them. Trained warriors beats farmers with spears, especially when fighting the walking dead and necromancers. And thanks to some good tactical planning by Amos and outnumbering the walking dead (so far), they've done very well. Going into an evil cave? Well.

We stopped a little early because there wasn't time to run the final battle in the last twenty minutes we had, so exploring the cave will be next game.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Final met for another game!

Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
The party huddled with Black Salted Earth in the Three Wheat Sheaves, ordered food and mushroom beer, and planned. Black Salted Earth went over the situation--Gyere was again terrorized by a vampire who now was even attacking people in their homes, making the old advice to stay indoors useless. She mentioned that they had already considered the obvious suggestion to assemble everyone in the town square at noon, but the refugees and farmers from the surrounding countryside made it impossible to keep track of who was in town. Shining Star and Bonnie consulted a moment and suggested that the vampire might be a shedo, a group of vampires who could assume the forms of those whose blood they drank and who were vulnerable to silver's touch. That led to some more outlandish suggestions--wear silver rings and shake everyone in town's hands--and then they asked Black Salted Earth to send for Sigeferth and ring him into the discussion.

He arrived moments later, ordered food, and with Bonnie translating into Sarasan the party filled him in. He was troubled by their story of the vampire attack in the wilderness, mentioning that he had once hunted a brood of jiang in Sarasa, but they had been half-feral and the Veiled Ones had been able to flush them out into the sunlight. An intelligent jiang and a shedo working together was a bad sign. He hadn't seen anything, but said he would keep a look out, especially now that he had a description of the jiang. He asked if any of them could scry and try to find the necromancers they were looking for that way, and Shining Star said she could not, but that they should consult the old amanita who had helped them look into Old Three Eyes's disappearance, so that was their next destination. The seer asked if they had any items from the person they were looking for or something affected by their sorcery, and they handed over the old sword they had found on the battlefield. The seer performed the ritual, lighting candles and pouring water over the sword, and then their hand tapped the table and slowly moved a handspan westward.

With some idea of where to go, the group made final preparations. Shining Star and Bonnie sought the aid of Gyere's healer and performed surgery on Elaphe, trying to make sure that the wounds he received from the vampire wouldn't lead to permanent disability. After several hours, and with the aid of Shining Star's hedge magic and Bonnie's alchemy, Shining Star was satisfied that Elaphe would recover, and they all went back to the tea house to rest.

Amos and Sigeferth went up to the roofs to scout out. They didn't speak a common language, but with Sigeferth using the Royal Speech and Amos pantomiming, they were able to have a brief conversation about where Amos came from and whether he had ever fought a vampire before. They didn't see anything during their watch, and some time after midnight Amos went to bed.

The Green Knight rode in patrol down through the village, and when he heard the sounds of combat he approached the southwest wall. He asked the militia captain what had happened, and in broken Floral the captain said that there had been a few walking dead but the militia had taken care of them. Seeing the assembled crowd, the Green Knight made a speech about the glories of the Way of the Forests and the downfall of mortal civilizations. Then he turned to go and he was halfway down the street before he realized the someone had actually listened to him. A young female chuzan, brown-furred, clutching a spear and a wooden shield and wearing homespun undyed wool. The Green Knight didn't speak Muskalan and the chuzan didn't speak Floral, but through the Royal Speech he was able to learn that she did mean to follow him and he had finally acquired his first disciple. Flush with success, he returned to the tea house and went to sleep, though he had sure to caution his disciple when she climbed into the bed that the things built of mortal hands were all impermanent.

The others were shocked to find someone else in the room when they awoke. Elaphe had dagger out almost before his eyes opened, and Bonnie let out a shocked squeak. She asked the chuzan's name--Drifting Snow--and bundled her off to the baths with some soap after noticing that she hadn't taken a bath in probably days or weeks. The Green Knight explained himself while she was gone, and while the Shining Star and Bonnie were dubious, they weren't going to stop Drifting Snow from following them, and they certainly weren't going to let only the Green Knight talk to her. They welcomed her when she returned from the bath, and she followed as they checked in about the village--no vampire attacks the previous night--and then mounted their horses and rode out into the rain.

They left Gyere heading west, past some abandoned farms and a few still being worked and watched over by wary-eyed farmers with bows close at hand, scavenging food from the ripe fields. Elaphe took some of the trow weapons, a sword, spear, and shield, and gave them to Drifting Snow to use. Her eyes almost bugged out of her head, but Elaphe just waved it off.

After midday, in the middle of a small copse of trees, they came on a pipe standing alone. Bonnie asked Drifting Snow if she knew anything about it, and the chuzan said that she had heard of a pipe that led to somewhere warm and overgrown, like a jungle, and this might be it. That piqued Bonnie's curiosity, and over the objections of the rest of the group she went down the pipe. It did indeed deposit her in a jungle, steaming hot, in front of a plaza overgrown with weeds and small trees between the stones. In the distance, rising out of the jungle, was an immense ruined ziggurat. Bonnie returned and excitedly told the party about her find, pushing the treasure angle to try to get them interested, but Amos pointed out that they were chasing necromancers and on a timetable. Bonnie marked the pipe on the map, and they pressed on.

Before dinner they found the remnants of a campfire, but the rain had washed away all the tracks. The Green Knight used his sorcery to speak to nearby plants and learned the necromancers had gone north, and after half an hour Amos managed to pick up the tracks again. They kept going through the night, guided by Amos, until they saw a campfire in the distance with figures milling around it. They set up campfire in bowshot range, without a fire, and waited for the dawn. During the night, Amos saw figures continually milling around during his entire watch, and the Green Knight noticed someone setting up some object on the edge of the firelight, but the others did not seem to notice them and the night passed without incident.

When dawn came, we stopped for the night.

The Green Knight's endless speeches finally worked! His player even spent XP on the Followers Background to cement her loyalty, so she'll stick around and earn XP. Though come to think of it, Henchman might be better for that, though she's starting from a lower base. "Subsistence farmer" is a classic D&D start for an adventurer, but the combat ability of a farmer is pretty low. She might have Melee 1, or more likely, Melee 0 (Spears +1). And Survival 2 (Farming +2)

The next session won't be in five weeks, barring a sudden cancellation. I was expecting a hunt for vampires in Gyere, but the players surprised me again. Next time, a fight against necromancers and the walking dead!
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Since Elaphe was seriously injured, the rest of the party left him to rest in the abandoned village while they decided to scout out the battlefield that Spring Breeze had mentioned. They rode the entire day through the rain, seeing no one except a few animals that fled at their passage, and as the sun was setting their search bore fruit as the Green Knight found a rusted sword hilt poking out of the ground.

All of them spread out to search for any clues. Amos muttered one of the incantations he had learned and asked the birds in a nearby copse of trees if they had seen anything, and after some prodding he learned that there were a large number of the walking dead that had passed through the field and gone away to the northeast, a fact confirmed by the Green Knight's questioning of the local flora. That also revealed there had been three figures that had performed a ritual to call up the dead from the earth, but they had left as well. Shining Star sensed the remnants of dark magic pooling in low places in the earth, but it was faint. Whatever had been done there was fading and not a continual source of problems. Finding nothing else, the four spent the night in an abandoned farmer's house after burying the partially-eaten bodies of the amanita farmer and their family. The night was uneventful, and they left in the morning, again seeing no one as they traveled back to the village they had left Elaphe in.

They found Elaphe peacefully relaxing in the house, looking slightly better but still injured, and spent the night in the village. Near dawn, the Green Knight heard voices outside speaking in Muskalan, and he woke Elaphe who took a look through a shutter. He saw an amanita, a mycon, and a chuzan sitting around a fire, talking in low tones about the walking dead, how one of their number had been killed, and the lack of easy pickings in Fontina. Elaphe woke Amos, who readied his bow and snuck out of the house to get a clear shot, but after observing the group for a few minutes he snuck back into the house and shook his head. They weren't worth the trouble, and indeed, in the morning when the party woke up the bandits had moved on and left only the ashes of a fire.

The group saddled up and rode north toward the town of Gyere, which they had left a few days before after fighting a vampire in the streets. The roads were mostly empty, but just after midday they heard the sound of marching feet and overtook a company of three dozen chuzan mercenaries under the banner of a red dove holding a sword.
Bonnie's player: "Is he cute?"
Me: "He's grizzled."
The group slowed their riding and questioned the captain, who said that he had planned to winter in the Scarlet City but they had heard there was money to be made in Fontina fighting the walking dead. He was less than amused when Bonnie and Shining Star told him about the vampires they had fought, but seemed confident in his soldiers' ability to hold their own. He thanked the group for the information and they kept riding. A mile later, they spotted a speck in the sky slowly descending, and the Green Knight readied his bow, but it turned out to be a pigeon that landed on the head of Elaphe's claw strider. There was a message tube attached to its leg with a note inside that said:
"Vampire in the city. Come quickly."
They reached Gyere just before nightfall, where they found a cold reception. The militia kept the gate closed and demanded they identify themselves, leading to some disbelief until Amos fired off his musket and they quickly opened the door. Elaphe rode straight to meet with Black Salted Earth while the others questioned the militia captain. They learned that six people had been attacked and four were dead, but all of them had been in their homes. They knew the jiang they had seen before couldn't enter structures built by mortal hands without an invitation, so something else must be afoot...

Elaphe met Black Salted Earth, who after asking Elaphe to prove his identity and accepting the Black Rose code phrases he offered, explained that there must be a shedo in town, a vampire capable of disguising itself to look like others. The town was in a frenzy of paranoia because of it and Black Salted Earth didn't have any means of distinguishing a vampire from the person it was impersonating and asked if Elaphe's associates did. He conceded they might, and led the amanita back to the Three Wheat Sheaves, the tea house they had stayed in last time they were in Gyere, and we ended there.

The session this time was a bit shorter, since Elaphe's player has just returned from a two-week trip to Paris and hasn't entirely recovered. We're going to play again next Monday, though, and that's when everything becomes a paranoid search of the town. How do they find a creature that can disguise itself as other people and stop it? Good question. I'm looking forward to what they come up, though I do think they'll heavily consider "burn down the whole town" based on their past performance.

Gyere is, of course, based on "Gruyere," since in classic Mario tradition everything has a cutesy name.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Bonnie dragged Shining Star away to give her time to summon a Knowing Whisper, a spirit servant of Nyarhé that can detect lies and read others' hearts, as Amos and the Green Knight questioned Spring Breeze. The amanita claimed that they hadn't seen any people as they walked, only wild animals, and asked again if there really was all that trouble to the north. Amos confirmed that the walking dead were rampant north of them as Shining Star and Bonnie returned, and Shining Star told the spirit to verify Spring Breeze's story. The Knowing Whisper confirmed that Spring Breeze was not secretly a necromancer in disguise or some kind of spirit-possessed monster and that they believed their story. They did ask about locla battles and were told about a story that mentioned a battle between the Kong Imperium and an unnnamed enemy that took place there long ago during the Imperium's attempt to expand into Agarica.

And so after advising the amanita to turn back and take the longer road around to get to Etemenanki, the party turned around and rode north as the amanita's whistling faded into the distance behind them.

They spent the night in the ruins of the same village that they had left that morning, stabling their horses and eating trail rations in an abandoned house. They go to sleep and Shining Star's watch is uneventful, but in the middle of the night, the Green Knight hears something prowling around outside the house. He grabbed his shield and crept outside, but banged the shield on the doorframe as he left (botched the Stealth roll). As soon as he stepped outside, something grabbed him from behind.

As the other members of the party all groggily woke up, the Green Knight grappled with his unseen assailant. He tried to claw them with his wooden claws, but was seized with an unbreakable grip--and then fangs plunged into his neck!

Elaphe and Amos exited the house to find a chuzan holding the Green Knight's arms to the sides with its mouth over his neck, and Amos circled around to try to get a better shot with his musket. Elaphe threw the torch at the assailant, but the chuzan sidestepped without seeming to move, not crossing the intervening distance but avoiding the torch entirely. Amos fired, blowing off the creature's ear, but as they watched, the blood flow slowed and the wound began knitting itself closed. It lifted its mouth from the Green Knight and hissed, revealing blood-covered fangs and blood-matted fur. A vampire!

Shining Star summoned up blazing chains of light that closed around the vampire as it threw the Green Knight like he was a toy, hitting Amos but failing to injure or even phase him as he reloaded his musket. Elaphe darted forward and slashed at the vampire, ripping open its chest with his dagger and using the secret arts of the Black Rose--unlike with Amos's musket blast, this time the blood flowed freely. Bonnie sent her iron jaws to attack the vampire, but it dodged aside as its claws blurred. Elaphe blocked the first strike with his dagger, but he was unable to block the second, which torn a chunk of flesh out of his side and sent him reeling backward.

Shining Star blasted the vampire with white flames and the Green Knight stood up and readied his shield. The Green Knight and the vampire charged toward each other to little effect--the vampire sidestepped the Green Knight's claws, and the vampire's strike impacted on the Green Knight's shield. Elaphe retreated into the house as Bonnie hurled a flask of glue which her familiar caught and then it ignited on the torch that Elaphe had thrown, and it bit down on the vampire's shoulder and began to gnaw.

Amos fired again, and the vampire tried to get out of the way, but not fast enough. It reeled back and hissed, and as Shining Star hurled another beam of holy fire at it and Elaphe threw a dagger from inside the house, it fled, moving so quickly that it left only a blurred afterimage in their eyes, around the corner of the house and out of sight.

Injured and bleeding, the party decided not to pursue, and Elaphe drank a cinnamony Hero's Recovery while Shining Star administered first aid to him and the Green Knight. Real treatment of his wounds would require a longer period of surgery, but for the moment he slathered on an alchemical paste to prevent his wound from becoming infected and the party mostly went to sleep. The vampire did not return that night.

In the morning, Amos and the Green Knight tracked the vampire north to a stream, where the tracks vanished. The Green Knight spoke to the local plantlife which, after some prompting, said that their quarry had killed a deer and then flew away to the north, confirmed by a monjara hiding in a nearby bush that Amos asked. With their leads exhausted, they returned to the village, everyone climbed on their various mounts, and they rode out to the north.


I was a little worried partway through that I was going to have at least one death on my hands. The vampire could have killed Elaphe in a single blow--it did 2/3rds of his health with one attack--but beyond using a Charm that let it convert damage dice into damage successes, it didn't roll very well, which is a pattern with my NPCs. It's also possible that that vampire would have died, since several attacks only barely missed. But it got away to fight another daynight.

Elaphe doesn't wear armor--Black Rose Style forbids it--which is why he took so much damage. Enough damage to be seriously injured to the point of disabling. He has a crippling wound requiring surgery (or sorcery unavailable to the party) to heal, but it would require several hours of downtime the party isn't willing to spend yet. Maybe after they check out that ancient battlefield to see if there's a necromancer there causing this zombie problem!
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
With Shining Star as a translator through the Royal Speech, the party questioned the lurker about his business. He gave his name as Sigeferth, son of Osric, a Veiled One from Sarasa. Unfortunately, he did not know much. He told them that the Dragonbone Speakers had sent him to investigate the "darkness in the south" and that he had only recently been sent south, as well as that he had seen witchhunters from the Temple of the Holy Flame traveling in Fontina. He disavowed the accusations that he and his "brothers and sisters" were the ones causing the disappearances and was surprised to hear that ghul were working with the walking dead, but seemed very interested when the Green Knight revealed that he had seen a strange, bat-winged figure fly in front of the moons. There was little moonlight as both Tharu and Diang were crescents and Nyarhé, while full, was dark and gave off little light, but there were few clouds and so the group took to scanning the sky. It was Amos who spotted it, just as he turned his head, a figure diving from the sky and falling into another part of the town.

Elaphe immediately slipped off the roof and moved toward the shape as the others raced over the rooftops. Elaphe found it first, tall and bulky, towering head and shoulders taller than him in an alleyway and shrouded in a large cloak. He could barely see it in the gloom, but it seemed to be waiting for something, so he stepped out into the courtyard to invoke a hedge ritual to enhance his resilience. When Shining Star arrived, she spotted him and told him of their arrival in the Royal Speech, and Elaphe gestured at the alleyway and put up a hand. Sigeferth made a gesture and shadows enveloped him as he slipped off the roof. Unfortunately for Elaphe's plan, the rest of the group grew tired of waiting, and while moving into position across the rooftops they made enough noise that the figure heard them and dashed out of the alleyway.

The Green Knight and Bonnie immediately gave chase, keeping pace with it as it dashed across the town's dirt roads, now sprinting, now running on all fours. Shining Star tried to bind it with sorcerous chains, but it scuttled sideways as they closed on it and escaped their grasp. It was less lucky when Amos stopped running, took a moment to aim, and shot it with a flaming arrow from his bow, which sunk into the creature's flesh. To the party members on the roof it seemed to disappear, but the Green Knight and Bonnie saw that it just moved so quickly they could barely see it, down the street and around a corner behind a house. And then it took wing and flew above the rooftops. Shining Star hurled a blast of searing flame at it, but it corkscrewed through the air and dodged before flying away to the north.

During all this, Elaphe had attempted to give chase, but timed a jump badly and hit a wall face-first.

(Don't botch, kids!  photo ashamed2.gif Or, as summed up by Bonnie's player...)

The group reconvened afterward and Bonnie shared what she knew. From the wings, the appearance, the speed, and the apparent desire to hunt, she guessed it was a jiang, a type of vampire almost more beast and mortal. They could not enter structures built by living hands, but she was less clear on their other vulnerabilities--silver or garlic or running water, she could not say. The party decided they needed to tell the militia, and so they walked over to the militia staging area where they were waiting for the upcoming attack by the walking dead. On the way, Bonnie got Sigeferth to talk to her in Sarasan, so she could study it using her sorcery, and he sang a lay of the Sarasan's coming to their grasslands that Bonnie didn't understand a word of, but after which her sorcery granted her knowledge of his language. He seemed surprised at her sudden mastery of Sarasan, but mostly took it in stride.

Shining Star and Bonnie told the militia captain, a grizzled amanita who had probably been a farmer until a month ago, that there was more to worry about than the walking dead--that they had a vampire loose and needed to set up a curfew since the jiang couldn't enter their houses. The captain reacted with disbelief, pointing out that a curfew was impossible since the people of the village needed to be ready to defend against the walking dead who always attacked at night. The group did not really have a response to that, and after making sure they weren't needed against the night's attack--there were only a handful of walking dead, so they weren't--they returned to their lodgings to sleep. In the morning, after buying food and questioning some of the refugees, who worried about the food supplies in Fontina with winter coming on and so many crops abandoned, they left the town of Gyere and traveled south.

The weather was misty but not raining, and the whole first day they saw no one. There were some bodies on the side of the road, not badly decomposed, and after a debate over time vs propriety Shining Star settled for making a small blessing over each of them as they passed. It wasn't until they found a merchant caravan all dead that they stopped and build a pyre for them from the ruins of the wagon, piling the raptok's body, the bodies of the amanita guards, and the empty red robes and mask of a Silent One onto it. They spent that night in an empty farming village, in a house with a broken-in door but shutters that still worked. They wedged the door shut and piled furniture in front of it and lit a fire, but nothing troubled them in the night.

The next day, they were a few hours on the road when they heard singing from the distance in Muskalan heavily mixed with Floral. They thought about hiding, but on seeing that the figure was alone they waited until they saw it was an amanita traveling alone. Bonnie questioned the amanita, asking them why they were traveling alone in the wild. The amanita introduced themselves as Spring Breeze and said that they were a traveling minstrel from town of Tannin to the south and were hoping to make it up to Etemenanki before the winter hit to make money in Tower Town, and when the group expressed incredulity, they asked if there was something wrong. Bonnie explained the zombie plague, and the amanita was shocked--they said they hadn't heard anything about this Tannin, though they had noticed fewer travelers from the north.

At this point Bonnie, overwhelmed with suspicion, scribbled a note and ensorcelled it with a message to Shining Star, asking her to fake a sickness so she could call up a Knowing Whisper, which might be able to determine whether the amanita was lying. Bonnie dragged the "swooning" Shining Star away from the confused amanita into a ruined farmhouse, and we ended there.

Vampires! Oh no!

The party seems to have found that the walking dead plague is confined to the kingdom of Fontina specifically, but what will they do about it. Keep going, or turn back to defend the kingdom? They don't seem to have very strong goals at this point other than following the map, though previously they went far afield thanks to finding a ghost by a roadside. Is this wandering minstrel another divergent point, or will they turn out to be another victim of Elaphe while the rest of the group isn't looking?
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Woohoo! Twenty sessions and still going!

Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Sakuya led the group to Old Three Eyes' house, built away from the wall in a cluster of other houses with their backs against a courtyard. The inside was spartan, wooden floors with an opening to the dirt for a fire pit, a table and chair, cupboard, and a chest next to the mats set on a small platform above the floor, all in one room. The group spread out and searched, finding the remnants of what smelled like stew in the pot over the fire and an eating knife in the dirt and ash nearby, a few coins in the bedding which Elaphe pocketed, and--more damning--a few scratches on the windowsill. Amos muttered a few words and summoned up a witchlight, leaving the blue foxfire bobbing near the window as he walked around outside to the courtyard and checked the windowsill again, finding more claw marks on the underside. Shining Star opened her senses to the corruption of the darkness beyond the Star Road, but smelled nothing but dust. Elaphe and Bonnie climbed to to the roof and looked around, and Elaphe found a tuft of black and grey fur caught on a corner of the roof tiles. After about twenty more minutes of searching turned up nothing, the group decided to go back to the tea house and catch a few more hours or sleep.

In the morning, they split up. Shining Star went to the where the injured from the battle against the walking dead were kept and ministered to them, finding another victim of ghul fever and using her magic to aid them. She told the militia standing around to let her know if the victim's condition changed at all and, especially if they fell into a coma, to fetch her immediately.

Elaphe went looking for any kind of criminal underworld, and eventually outside a tea house he found an amanita named Black Salted Earth who understood his comments about rose gardens and led him to a more secluded table. Bonnie had secretly followed Elaphe, somehow managing to stay hidden, but she wandered off bored as the amanita asked Elaphe if he was in town on business. When he said no, she visibly relaxed and chatted with him about how her quiet life had been disrupted by the animated dead. She didn't know about the source of the plague, but was happy to keep an eye out, and took Elaphe back to her house briefly to introduce him to her pigeon, Zephyr, saying that it would provide a way to carry messages between them if necessary.

Amos went back out to the courtyard to talk to the other people who lived nearby and the refugees who had fled to the safety of the walls. They had not seen much, but they mentioned that Old Three Eyes had mentioned eyes watching him, and had sometimes trailed off in the middle of a conversation and then seemingly snapped out of it, returning to the previous topic without any sign of time having passed. One older amanita also mentioned that they had seen something flying high, silhouetted against the moon. Probably not a roc--it wasn't big enough and they didn't know of any rocs that nested nearby--but they were not sure what it was.

Around this time, Amos noticed a beroringa nearby licking some of the damage to the buildings and spoke it to. The spirit turned, seemingly surprised, and poked Amos for a moment with its tongue, which felt like being poked with a slightly warm feather even though it was larger than his arm. Amos asked it if it had seen anything, and the spirit mentioned the "darkness in the south" and that it could feel the rot in the earth, in a voice that Amos both heard with his ears and felt in his mind. Being a spirit, it didn't entirely understand Amos's perspective, but it did promise to keep watch any tell him if it saw anything. At this point Bonnie arrived and, seeing that Amos was speaking English to the air, quickly pulled out an old dose of spirit-flower tea and choked in down. She was delighted as the swirling colors resolved into the beroringa's body and questioned it in English, since that was what she heard Amos speaking, but the answers came to her in Chaian. However, she didn't learn much more than Amos did.

The party regathered near where Shining Star was administering medicine and shared what they had learned. They quickly formed a plan to stake out the courtyard near Old Three Eyes' house and watch for anything strange, along with some members of the militia, and returned to the tea house, this time paying for a private room and sleeping until sundown. The militia roused them, they ate a quick meal of stewed rice and mushrooms, and then took up their places on the roof.

Shining Star had summoned a Knowing Whisper, a spirit of knowledge in service to Nyahré, and as they waited on the rooftops it alerted her that there was something out there. She told the others and Amos, who could see in the dark thanks to the crystal he carried, gripped his musket and began to creep across the rooftops toward the distant shape as the Green Knight looked up and saw a shadow pass over the moons. There were arms, and legs, and wings. Perhaps one of the pidgit-folk, but with what they knew was happening in the town, that was not an assumption he would make.

Amos got close enough that the could see a shape shrouded in scarves or wrappings crouching next to the chimney of the tea house, and he remembered the rumors in Rockfort about people being attacked in an alleyway. He raised his musket and shouted out in Floral not to move, and the shape, clearly hearing him, looked up at him, letting him see the bridge of a nose and eyes peering out from the wrappings. Amos summoned a witchlight, illuminating the area, and asked who the shape was. He received an answer, but it wasn't in Floral, nor was it in Muskalan, which Amos didn't speak but had spent enough time around it being spoken to know what it sounded like.

The others arrived as the shape stood up, a tall mandragora- or human-shape with a red eye and teardrop embroidered on the chest of its clothing. When Shining Star saw it, she thought to use the Royal Speech, and greeted the shape. In a moment, she received a reply: "The Dragonbone Speakers sent me here to scout out the darkness in the south."

Mysterious! The Dragonbone Speakers are the shamans of the Sarasans to the northwest, which are a group of thunder lizard-riding grassy plains tribesmen that I based on the Hengist and Horsa-era Anglo-Saxons, so I can already say that this guy's name is "Sigeferth, son of Osric." I was tired of every horse-based riding culture either being based on the Mongols or the Native American plains tribes and wanted to do something different. Something different with dinosaurs and dragon-worshipping wizard priests.

The hordes of animated dead is something I thought that the players would want to go after earlier on, but I'm glad that they're checking it out now ten sessions after I expected! That also means they're better armed to deal with the enemies they might encounter, too, so it should all turn out of the best.

Elaphe's player pointed out they're amassing an army. A veiled one, the spirit of that courtyard and the buildings, the town militia...will it do any good? Hmm.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
It's been a long while since I did one of these posts, but I've written a lot more about spirits since last year, so here's a few more bestiary entries!


The spirits of the new moon, the dark, and the rare triple conjunction when all the moons are shadowed and the inhabitants of Agarica lock their doors and windows and light candles against the night, darkrai are harbingers of fear and bringers of nightmares. There are no ceremonies in their honor and no praises chanted to them, only propitiatory offerings in the hopes that they will keep away. They are occasionally called on by vengeance-minded summoners who seek to bring madness and despair to their enemies, but darkrai are exceedingly difficult to control, and more than one would-be avenger has died screaming under an assault of nightmares.


Hitokage are the bright spirits of sunlight and the heat of the day. They contain both the pleasant warmth of a sunbeam and the life-giving energy that causes flowers to bloom and crops to grow. They are often seen playing in the sunbeams on warm summer days, and are occasionally beseeched to provide extra light to help crops grow.


Bakeccha are the spirits of ripened crops, trees laden with fruit, and plants ready for the harvest. They sleep dormant for most of the year, emerging in late summer and remain awake until the first hard frost falls, which sends them back into their slumber. This cycle varies based on location—in B'rabt, for example, the bakeccha are merely drowsy for parts of the year, awakening each time the B'rabti bring in another crop of rice.

Because of their association with grain, bakeccha are also spirits of alcohol, and it is this patronage that makes them one of the most popular spirits in Agarica.


Nyoromo are the spirits of the tides, the coastal waters, and the river-mouths, all within view of the shore. They are used to mortals in their domains and usually do not hinder them during the course of their normal activities, but they can easily be roused to wrath by too much change. Fishing boats or children playing on the beach, for example, almost never provoke a nyoromo, but attempting to dam a river or building a pier can cause them to attack.


Pippi are the spirits of full moons, of the light that illuminates the countryside and turns night into almost-day. They are found on clear nights, dancing in the moonlight in rings on top of hills. They are usually placid, but do not like their dances to be observed and have been known to curse those who try to watch them.

In B’rabt, pippi are regarded with holy reverence as messengers of Yarikh the Lunar Serpent, and they are frequently summoned to dance at important festivals.


Camome are spirits of rainclouds, dancing in the raindrops and flying amidst grey clouds heavy with coming storms. They are most common near the sea, but will ride rainstorms inland and can be found far from the shores as long as the rain is heavy enough. Camome are not particularly intelligent and are easily distracted by shiny objects, and some farmers without the power to command them will place crystals or bits of glass near their fields in the hopes of attracting them.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
A few hours before dawn, Elaphe's keen hearing picked up the sounds of movement and voices outside over the crackling of the tea house fire. After listening, he woke up the others and they grabbed their weapons and walked out into the town square, pausing a moment for Shining Star to murmur a blessing to Nyarhé that left all their weapons gleaming with a faint silver light. They heard commotion from the south and made their way toward it. Elaphe, Amos, and Bonnie climbed to the tea house roof and leapt from building to building, and the Green Knight and Shining Star walked through the maze of streets.

At the edge of town, Elaphe peered over the roof onto the wall of wooden stakes around the town. On the dirt ramp behind the wall was a motley militia of chuzan, amanita, mycon, and a few mandragora, as well as two kappa each holding a pair of battleaxes, and on the other side of the wall were dozens of of the walking dead. The townsfolk were holding them off with rural weapons--spears, pitchforks, and bows--but the wall was starting to creak ominously, and Elaphe noticed that some of the walking dead seemed to be moving more purposefully and their eyes were shedding a faint red light.

He leapt down to the wall, followed by Bonnie and Amos, and hurled his bob-omb into the middle of the walking dead. It exploded in a burst of silver fire, hurling bits of dead flesh everywhere and stopping the press of bodies against the wall, but drawing the attention of the red-eyed monsters, who jumped onto and over the wall. Up close, with the stink in her nose, Bonnie recognized them as ghuls, the hungry dead, eternally driven by empty stomachs that could never be full and whose bites were infectious.

The ghuls were vicious combatants, but not very skilled. Perhaps the bob-bomb explosion had damaged them enough that they were slower than normal. Amos used his musket and blew one ghul off the wall, and Elaphe followed it down, running down the wall and leaping toward it, and hacked off its head. He then turned and hurled a dagger into the eye of another ghul that was strugging with a chuzan militia soldier with a spear, also destroying it.

One ghul ran toward Shining Star and, while it dodged the bolt of holy fire she hurled at it, it could not dodge the Green Knight's wooden claws, which extended and wrapped around its neck until they took off its head. Amos shot another one before it started grappling the kappa next to it, prompting Bonnie to grab it from behind. It leaned back and bit her, tearing into her shoulder, and then Shining Star incinerated it with white fire and it burned to ashes in Bonnie's arms, leaving her untouched.

The last ghul was ripped in half by one of the kappa, and the other administered first aid to Bonnie while she admired the smooth curve of his shell and the pointiness of his spines. Shining Star also looked at Bonnie's wound, and when Bonnie told her about ghul fever, Shining Star murmured some words over the wound and made a note to keep an eye on it. As Amos continued to shoot flaming arrows at the walking dead, the others questioned the kappa.

In Muskalan heavily accented by the tongue of the Kappa Wastes, he gave his name as Sakuya, and said his clutchmate Ayumi and he grew sick of the Dragon Emperor's sacrilegious abandonment of the ancestors and decided to go somewhere where they wouldn't be bothered. This softened Shining Star's attitude toward them considerably, and Bonnie next asked about the walking dead. Sakuya replied that they first showed up a month or so ago, first only a few and occasionally, but gradually increasing in number until now they attacked almost every night. The kappa cursed the king of Fontina, saying that he hid in his palace with mercenaries around his town and refused to help his people.

The party asked Sakuya about the rumors they heard in Fontina, about shrouded figures attacking and people on rooftops. Sakuya replied that there were often people on the roofs, but a chuzan named Old Three Eyes had vanished after complaining about seeing eyes in his window. A local wise woman had tried to find out where he went, but turned up nothing, even when using his precious locket given to him by his dead wife as a focus. The party asked if they could see his house, and Sakuya considered and then agreed to lead them to it.

Combat can take a while. I was expecting to get a bit more time in for investigation, but it looks like that will be the focus of next session. There isn't really anywhere in the town for someone to disappear to, especially now that there are walking dead outside the walls, so what could have happened to Old Three Eyes? Will the party actually have to talk to people and do detective work, or will they get bored and decide to just kill their way to a solution? I guess we'll find out!

Bonnie is infected with ghul fever now. Bitten is not as good as dead, but Bonnie also has a Stamina of 1, so it's closer to that meaning with her than it would be with the others. Though maybe not. I realized when I went to check that I hadn't actually written the rules for ghul fever yet, though it'll probably end up being a less severe version of The Embrace of Decay from canon Exalted, which niche it fills. So I doubt she'll die, but she might be unhappy for a while.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
The first half of the session or so was taken up with more logistics from last session in the Scarlet City. Buying a few more hedge magic spells and equipment, getting various alchemical concoctions to deal with future injuries likely while fighting the walking dead, and so on. After all that way accomplished, we picked up back in the Kingdom of Fontina.

B'rabht had been hot and sunny, but in the city of Rockfort it was pouring down rain and much colder. The party clutched their cloaks tighter around themselves and made their way through the crush of refugees to the closest tea house they could see, the Gateside, on one side of the square. They negotiated for a place in the stable and bedded down for the night, sleeping comfortably on the straw, though they were unpleasantly woken up early, shivering in a sudden cold snap.

Shining Star went to offer her services in the temple of the Blue Lady, the Fontinan goddess of love and the family, healing the refugees. Most of those she treated were wounded by exposure and malnutrition, not the claws and teeth of the walking dead, though there were some who had been injured in fights with other refugees. Amos prepared his armor and weapons and then went down into the tea house and spoke to the patrons, asking them what they had heard. They mentioned the walking dead coming from the south, and that some villages had to post guards around their graveyards because while the bites of the dead were not infectious except in the normal sense, their very presence seemed to raise other bodies nearby into unlife.

Elaphe pretended to sleep by the fire and listened to the chatter, and he heard people talk about shapes on rooftops and mysterious attacks by shrouded figures. The chatter wasn't clear on their appearance or exactly what they were wearing, but Elaphe remembered the rumors they had heard three weeks ago, about Sarasan Veiled Ones being seen in Fontina, and wondered. He also heard that the mercenaries from Etemenanki had arrived, but they were being used to guard Rockfort.

Bonnie went to visit Onyx to ask her to teach a spell to keep off the rain and bask in the wisdom of the sorceress. Onyx seemed pleased that the party had found what they were looking for, but she and Bonnie did not speak long. Onyx mentioned that killing the walking dead would probably be a good idea, and Bonnie made her excuses and left.

After lunch, the party took their gear and rode out the south gate, heading toward the place where the walking dead were coming from. They didn't meet any zombies on the road, though they occasionally saw corpses, both fresh and rotted, by the roadside. They didn't take the time to bury them, and Elaphe thought better of looting them to avoid trouble from wraiths, but Shining Star offered a brief benediction over every corpse they found. At sundown, they rode into a town surrounded by a palisade and took space in the common room at the sign of the Three Wheat Sheaves, and we ended there.

It took a while for people to figure out what else they wanted. Having not been in civilization for well over half the period of this game and finally being in a major city for a longer period--they were in tower town, but only for half a day--they went on a shopping and XP-spending spree.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the party does to deal with the zombies. Are they going to try to just kill all of them? Find the source? Blame the Sarasans? Bring in the witchhunters? We'll see!

Amos's player asked for a preparation montage, so I played the Shatterhand stage select theme. I also played the Super Mario 2 Underworld theme for B'rabt and then cut to the Link to the Past Opening Theme for rainy Fontina. I have so much music to draw on for this game. It's fantastic.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
During the night, Elaphe took the shield that Summer Rain was possessing and snuck into Dim Ember's room. As he opened the door, he saw the raptok's eyes open, and as she hissed out something in Raptok, he dropped the shield on the floor and returned to his room. In the morning, Dim Ember's party was gone, as was the shield, but there was a note underneath the door addressed to Shining Star. After a brief, wry expression of gratitude for the "present," Dim Ember assured Shining Star that she has a way of dealing with spirits, thanked her for her aid in killing Kurome, and said that they had to leave before dawn. She left a location that Shining Star could leave word if she needed to get in contact with her, at the Inn of the Three Coins on the Street of Clouds in tower town.

In a driving rain, with Shining Star nursing her wounds and the Green Knight and Bonnie slumped listlessly over their mounts, the party climbed the scaffolding around the pipe in the center of town, and entered the pipe. They emerged on a hillside under a cloudy sky, and spread out below and ahead of them was the Scarlet City.

It was bigger, and more consistent, than tower town. Inside the crimson walls ringed with cannons were dozens of tall towers topped with turnip-shaped domes, slender walkways spread between them like a web. Some of the walkways were even thinner, and the party was confused about their function until they saw some kind of car going between them. And above it all, anchored by ropes to the highest towers, was a giant floating balloon with some kind of cabin beneath it that they could see, faintly, movement on it as Silent Ones swarmed over the scaffolding.

The Scarlet City was order, but there was a riotous collection of buildings outside, and that's where the party went. After a bit of asking around, mostly done by Shining Star, they found their way to the Floral Quarter, where Shining Star visibly relaxed as she was surrounded by the clean stone lines and intricate metal grillwork of Floral architecture and as the amanita cast their eyes down and the mandragora nodded to her as she passed. She knows how Floral towns are built, and so she followed the roads to the center, where the temple of the goddesses is. Elaphe waited outside while they entered.

In the center was a pool surrounded by three statues of the goddesses. To the left was Diang, her long hair bound in braids around her head and her arms bare and she forged a blade on an anvil made of solid rock. To the right was Tharu, crowned in lightning, and her statue had been designed so that it was crying, and the water flowed down her cheeks into a bowl, which overflowed onto a small plot of rice and then into the pool. And in the back was Nyahré, robed and masked so no part of her was visible, and bearing a closed book in her left hand and a dagger in her right hand.

Shining Star spoke to the acolyte, who started and then bowed when she saw Shining Star's eyes. She said there was no priest of Tharu there on duty, but that she would go get one, and she came back later with an older mandragora man with a long light-green beard who walked with a cane. Shining Star explained their situation and then man agreed to look over Bonnie and the Green Knight. He couldn't diagnose their illness immediately, and so asked them to come back the next day after he had some time to research the symptoms.

The party took a room at the Inn of the Blooming Rose and settled down to heal and recuperate. Elaphe sent out some feelings to sell Kurome's black sword, eventually finding a Silent One who was willing to buy it, no questions asked, for a sum of money that was less than it was worth but with less trouble than selling the probably-cursed sword of a warlock would normally bring. Bonnie took a trip to the local outpost of the mandarinate in the Chaian Quarter, reported in and signed the forms in triplicate. The Green Knight grumbled about civilization. Shining Star sought out another doctor to treat her own wounds, allowing the priest of Tharu to treat her friends' Void Sickness without any distractions. And Amos wandered around the outskirts of the city, looking at the sheer variety of people. The kremling venomancer and his yojimbo, and the enormous, mutated kremling they had with them, almost twice as tall as the others and bearing a mace even taller than it was. The party of Veiled Ones from Sarasa, who had left their grasslands on an unknown purpose. The people from Makai, pale and hunched over, who spoke in low tones and kept to themselves. And, despite his searching, no other humans.

One day, the party bought day passes into the Scarlet City and passed through the gates under the watchful eye of the Silent Ones. Inside was the whirring of gears, the hiss of steam, and slow shuffle of robes, and...silence. The Silent Ones went about their business in complete silence, and the only voices were those who had bought day passes. They looked around, finding a few stores they didn't enter, and a library with a place to leave word if they wanted to hire the services of the Somnambulant Calculators, the Silent Ones' strange oneiromantic sorcerer-engineers. They left without buying anything.

After a week and a half, the party had fully recovered their strength and made to leave to return to Fontina and investigate the plague of walking dead. The temple of the goddesses threw a feast for them the day they left, with vegetarian Floral cuisine and wine aplenty, and then the next morning they took a pipe they had learned about that led to B'rabt, and which wasn't far from the pipe in the square in Rockfort, capital city of Fontina.

B'rabt was blazing hot in the morning and almost unendurable during the day. Shining Star took off her robes, Amos removed his armor, and Bonnie suffered in her fur, but the party rode north on the rode by the shores of the Kintai, with the Berha desert off to their left and boats going up and down the river and travelers on the road. They passed through several towns and villages along the way, and after nightfall, just as the temperature started getting very cold, they reached the next pipe they were going for and entered it, emerging in Rockfort.

And we ended there.

This session was mostly recovery from the battles in Greenwall and people healing, spending XP, and buying new items. The party still made out with a net gain in wealth with even after spending more money than a peasant family would make in three years on a private room at an inn and stabling and feed for their horses and Elaphe's claw strider--owning mounts is expensive and also peasants are very poor--and on training in hedge magic. A couple people are thinking of picking up hedge sorcery for their characters. They thought their characters had to be sorcerers to learn it, but that was a mistaken impression, so they might add cursing people and summoning spirits to their repertoire.

I'm also really happy I got to play the Temple of Time Theme when the party went into the temple of the goddesses.

But next session, we'll see what's happened in Fontina in the almost three weeks since they were there last!
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Shining Star attempted to diagnose the strange illness affecting Bonnie and the Green Knight that was turning their skins a greyish color and making their veins stand out black against their skin, but after a close examination she simply had no idea. Elaphe searched through the burning building to find the pieces to reassemble his bob-omb, while Meohan the hedge wizard sat despondently and Ringo and Dim Ember tended to their wounds. Amos got the idea to ask the nearby birds if they have seen Kurome, so he cimbed to the top of the tea house with Bonnie's help and began chanting the words of the Discourse with Birds spell.

The first set of starlings Amos asked flew away without an answer, but then he took some of his travel rations and scattered them around the roof. A pair of crows took the bait, and Amos asked them if they had seen anything of the warlock. They answered that they had, tripping over their own words and interrupting each other, and indicated the overgrown orchard to the northeast of the town center:

 photo Greenwalltown.png

The burning town hall is the building south of the central plaza area.

Elaphe sent his claw strider familiar to the east to search out that area, and the party asked Meohan about his scrying spell. He said that he could cast it, but he would need a reflective surface, and Elaphe went off to find one while Shining Star searched to the west, walking around the town and looking for any spot where she could smell lingering taint. The whole town smelled faintly like rancid meat to her sorcerously-enhanced senses, but she found a few houses where the smell seemed stronger. One house was empty, with a table set as for a meal but abandoned mid-feast, but another had a barred door and shuttered windows, though Shining Star could hear the sound of movement within.

The Green Knight walked around the town hall to the trees in the south and summoned up his connection with the forest, asking the plants nearby if they had seen Kurome. The grass did not remember, but the tree said that two rains ago, Kurome came from the rising sun. The Green Knight moved northeast and asked the trees the same question, and they told him that they had seen Kurome enter the orchard several times.

Elaphe brought out a bottle of wine, after taking a long drink for himself, and poured it into a bowl in front of Meohan. The hedge wizard stared at it for a moment, then shook their head and began moving his fingers over the liquid and chanting. Shining Star returned to the town center, as did Elaphe's familiar, and the group moved into the orchard, following the crows. Elaphe remained behind, some distance from Dim Ember, Ringo, Cheerless Sword, and the chanting Meohan, eyeing his bob-omb and considering.

The party searched the forest and, where Shining Star smelled the strongest odor of rancid meat, dug into the ground. They found several chunks of obsidian, shallowly buried in the dirt, and Shining Star recognized them as a ritual tool for summoning demons. She wrapped them in cloth and took them with her. The party then returned to the town square to find a distinct lack of explosions.

Meohan finished his scrying ritual and began searching the places that Shining Star pointed out. In the barred house there was a family of mycon who had pushed a table against the door and were cowering behind the bed, and another house was empty. But at the final house, to the northwest, Meohan frowned and said that something was interfering with the spell.

The party, accompanied by Dim Ember and Ringo, immediately traveled to that part of town. Elaphe climbed up to the roof and dropped his bob-omb through the smoke hole, and after the explosion, the door and windows were blown open. The house was empty of mortal inhabitants, but in the middle was an ever-moving, vaguely humanoid shape of greenish liquid. The ground hissed where it stood, and curls of smoke arose from the dirt. Shining Star and Bonnie recognized it as a metody, a demon formed of liquid corruption!

Amos fired an arrow, which went straight through the demon, but the arrow's fire singed it. The Green Knight charged forward to engage, swiping with his wooden claws, but the metody flowed out of the way and then dissolved into a green foam, washing over the floor--and the Green Knight's feet, eating away at his boots and flesh. Shining Star thought of using the last of her Essence to cast a spell, but chose to fire her bow. The arrow sunk with a splash into the metody and began dissolving to no other effect.

Bonnie pulled out some of her alchemical glue and began to craft a crude bomb as the Green Knight leaped out of the acidic foam. Ringo danced forward and swiped a claw through the metody, and its color changed to a slightly darker shade as it began moving slower. Bonnie gave the bomb to Elaphe, who tossed it into the foam. The bottle began dissolving, leaving flaming liquid in the demon. Amos shot another arrow at the house, setting part of it on fire, and Elaphe and his mount leapt into the wall, knocking a piece of flaming debris onto the demon.

The Green Knight, seeking more flammable material, crossed the street to another house and opened the door...and came face to face with Kurome! He made to shout a warning, but the sound died in his throat as he stared into Kurome's good eye and felt like he was falling into it. Kurome swung his black sword at the Green Knight's head, but the briarwitch retained enough presence of mind to turn it aside with his claws.

Galvanized, the Green Knight yelled "Kurome!" and charged, swinging his claws, but the warlock blocked with the flat of his blade and escaped injury. Bonnie and Shining Star spun around, and while Bonnie tried to silence the warlock's voice, Shining Star saw her chance. She called up the power of Nyarhé and hurled a bolt of white fire at Kurome. The warlock raised his sword again, and the fire split on the blade...but not far enough. It hit Kurome on both sides of his body, and as his arms and shoulders kindled in white fire, he threw back his head and soundlessly screamed. Then, smoking, he crashed to the ground. The demon pulled itself back together from its foam and, to everyone's eyes but Amos, vanished. Dim Ember stepped forward and fired an arrow at Kurome's head, and in a rain of floral blossoms, the warlock's breathing stopped.

Shining Star and Dim Ember both made the sign of the goddesses over the dead warlock, and in the most formal way, Dim Ember thanked Shining Star for her help. Shining Star also expressed her thanks, and she leaned down and stripped Kurome's eyepatch from his body, handing it to Dim Ember. Then they bowed to each other. Meanwhile, Elaphe searched the warlock's body, taking the warlock's sword--an unattuned enchanted item, so it was incredibly heavy--and a black crystal that is freezing cold to the touch. Then the party withdrew to the tea house to regroup.

At the tea house, they drank mushroom beer and wine, and Bonnie told Dim Ember about the ghost of Summer Rain. Dim Ember explained that Summer Rain's father was a merchant who sold arms to the Dragon Emperor during the way and used that money to fund a dowry for his daughter, ending with, "But what good will that money do him now, I wonder?" and taking a drink of her wine. After more drinks, everyone went to sleep. The villagers did not come to the tea house that night, and they slept undisturbed.

Kurome is dead! I made the map and chose a location for Kurome beforehand to give the party a chance. He picked a ruined house to hide and stuck a demon nearby, figuring that the taint would be enough to metaphysically disguise him and that the party wouldn't be able to search every house without bothering the residents. And he was right! It was pure chance that the Green Knight went off looking for flammable material and opened the right door.

The party got lucky in other ways too. If Kurome had hit with his first attack, he could well have incapacitated the Green Knight, dragged him into the house, and then made his escape. If the search had taken longer and the Green Knight's disease had been further progressed, Kurome could have commanded him to fight his friends. There was a real chance that Kurome could have won and driven them away to lick their wounds.

And that's good! The best way for an RPG to go is for the PCs to win...barely.

Next session, the PCs are thinking of going through the pipe at the center of town to the Scarlet City, stronghold of the Silent Ones, to sell their loot and figure out what to do next. It'll be nice to be in civilization again after a half-dozen sessions in the wilderness.

I made the map in Cityographer and projected it onto our TV during the game, so the players could always see it while they were planning. Maybe I should do that with the world map, if I expand it from its current contained-sandbox boundaries.

Also, I have to post this great quote:
Me: "I've got rules for dysentery, too."
Bonnie's player: "Great!"
Me: "Don't fail those Survival rolls, is all I'm saying."
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
We pick up in the middle of a battle against demons.

The enormous kong-like demon rushed toward the group, battering aside the Green Knight's attempt to stop him and deftly dodging Cheerless Sword's axe swing. It raised a hand, its claws glowing orange-red as it brought them down on Ringo, but the raptok's tail snaked out and batted the demon's attack aside. In retaliation, the Green Knight struck back, carving a deep furrow on the blood ape's back and making it roar in fury, but not as much as in a moment when Shining Star called down the fury of Nyahré and obliterated the demon in a blast of white fire.

Elaphe finally made a decision and hurled his bob-omb into the town hall, causing a partial collapse and setting the front of the building on fire. However, he couldn't see anything through the smoke.

The demon possessing the townspeople launched itself out of the amanita in one corner of the town square toward a chuzan on the other side, narrowly missing Amos. The Green Knight started moving toward the demon's new host as Elaphe sent out a call to his claw strider through the familiar bond, ordering it to attack one of the demonic hosts close to the stable. He then moved close to the town hall, peering through the smoke, but still couldn't see anything.

Bonnie ordered her iron jaws familiar to go harass one of the demon-possessed hosts as Dim Ember fired another arrow at the host which currently housed the demon. The arrow hit in a shower of rose petals, and the host soundlessly screamed as smoke poured out of his mouth, but the demon was not defeated. Nor was it defeated when Shining Star reached out with her magic, burrowing rays of Nyahré's light into the demon's host and trying to force the demon out. The demon forcefully repelled her attempt, sending her staggering backward.

Elaphe saw movement in the smoke and turned to go. As he ran away around the burning building, he felt a sudden enervation. Bonnie and Amos, who were watching, saw black wisps of something rise from Elaphe and float into the burning town hall. Kurome was obviously in there, and close enough to affect them.

The Green Knight reached the possessed chuzan and tackled him, bearing him to the ground. The demon reached out of the host and bit the Green Knight repeatedly on the shoulders and arms, but he maintained his grip and squeezed tightly with his wooden claws, popped the chuzan's head off. As the head fell to the ground, Amos saw a green pillar of flesh, asymmetrical and pulsating slightly, rise from the body. Dim Ember saw it too and fired at it, but this time her archery skills failed her and she missed. The demon, banished from the material world, moved through the air toward the burning town hall.

Elaphe mounted his claw strider and the group gathered near the town hall. Meohan, the other party's hedge wizard, ordered his pippi to enter the burning building while they debated what to do, and a few moments later he staggered backward, muttering about the link being broken. Dim Ember mounted on Ringo and road around the building, confirming that there was a back door, and the others quickly formed a plan--Dim Ember, Cheerless Sword, Meohan, and Amos, who were all relatively uninjured, would go around the back and try to go through the back door while Shining Star and Bonnie kept Kurome busy.

With Shining Star feeding her tidbits of information, Bonnie taunted Kurome as a dog of the Dragon Emperor, always the servant of one master or another, and for a moment then there was no response. Then they heard someone muttering something in the tongue of the Kappa Wastes, and then a terrifying shriek that seemed to crawl over their skin and into their hearts. Elaphe was far enough away to be unaffected, and Amos, Dim Ember, Cheerless Sword, and Shining star managed to throw off the effects of the dark magic, but a cold hand gripped Bonnie and Meohan's hearts and seemed to drain all the energy out of the world. It was followed by cold, mocking laugher until Bonnie called up a bit of Essence and sent it out, cutting off the warlock's speech.

Behind the inn, Cheerless Sword managed to use a sturdy wire device to remove the bar from the poorly-constructed door. Dim Ember opened it and revealed an enormous kappa, holding a black sword that seemed more llike a hole in the air than a weapon, and with his other hand not visible. Dim Ember made a few hand signs, and she and Amos raised their bows, and fired together, Amos launching a flaming arrow and Dim Ember sending four shots in preternaturally quick succession. All of the arrows hit Kurome, and he turned around to face the assailants. One eye was covered in an eyepatch but the other was black, like a hole into the void, and he glared furiously at the party. Dim Ember took a step back, her bow slipping in suddenly-nerveless fingers, but Cheerless Sword stepped into the doorway and Amos was unaffected.

On the other side of the building, Shining Star moved to the front door of the town hall, stepping into the smoke-filled hallway and seeing Kurome. The warlock turned and noticed her, and he made a quick gesture with his hand. As the shadows rushed in toward him, Shining Star hurled a bolt of white fire at him...but Kurome was quicker, and the star fires passed through the spot where he had been as the shadows fled.

Dim Ember and Shining Star both realized that he can't have gone far--warlocks can step through shadows, but not to any great distance--and made ready to search the town. And we ended there.

So close! At the end, I had a Wits + Occult roll-off between Kurome and Shining Star to see whose spell went off first, and it came down to a tie, which means the defender won and Kurome vanished just before the Star Fires would have hit him. It probably would have killed him if it hit, or at least incapacitated him. And now I do have to make a map of the village because they're going to do a house-to-house search to find Kurome before he can get away again. That will be the next game, and I'll need to come up with a way to make sure that whether Kurome gets away or not is impartial and there's a fair chance to find him if the players outthink him.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
The next morning, the members of the party separately and slowly came down to the tea house's main room to eat a breakfast of bread and gruel, Elaphe making sure to keep apart from the others to dispel any notions that he was particularly friendly with them. Ringo, the raptok member of the other group in town, was also eating, and Bonnie sidled over and sat down at her table. Bonnie didn't speak Raptok and raptok's mouths aren't suitable for speaking most other languages, but through pantomime Bonnie managed to convey that she wanted to hear Ringo speak, and after an hour she had enough practice to cast the Language-Learning Ritual, granting her perfect knowledge of the Raptok tongue.

Near the end of this period, Shining Star slipped upstairs to summon a Knowing Whisper, a minor servant of Nyahré in her aspect as goddess of secrets. She borrowed the senses of the Knowing Whisper to see the world of spirits and immediately noticed a purplish-black haze all over the room. Shining Star came downstairs and exited the tea house, followed by the others, and immediately noticed a haze in the town square as well, strongest around the town hall on the other end of the square. As the party was standing around wondering what to do, Elaphe slipped out and made his way around the edges of the square, sticking to the shadows and trying to move closer and Bonnie drank a dose of Spirit-Flower Tea so she would know if there were demons about. And then, she saw one. Shining Star and Amos saw it too, the same gigantic spider-thing that Amos saw when they first entered the town, crouched on the roof of a building near the town hall.

Bonnie ran inside to put on the armor she had bought while the rest of the other party, Meohan the hedge wizard, Cheerless Sword the yojimbo, and Dim Ember the Knight of the Rose, filtered outside. As Elaphe reached his position on a small road near the town hall, watching the square, Shining Star walked forward to the base of the building. She was tired of hiding and tired of waiting, so she reached out, called up her Essence, and dropped a Cloak of Night on top of the building. A moment later, she was rewarded as the demon leaped down on her from above, but Shining Star backflipped out of the way (something like 11 successes on 8 dice to dodge!) and then several things happened at once.

Dim Ember shook her walking staff and grabbed it with her other hand, and suddenly it changed, bending and turning green, deep grooves appeared on it and crawling over its surface, forming vines all over its length, until she was holding a bow. As Cheerless Sword and Ringo started running toward Shining Star, Dim Ember raised the bow and an arrow of twisting green Essence appeared as she drew back the string, trailing red and gold rose petals as it flew. It hit the demon, but didn't seem to injure it much.

The demon lunged at Shining Star again, biting her but not seriously, and she felt a tingling sensation at the wound which fortunately soon faded. The Green Knight looked around the square, noticing a few villagers who weren't running and were instead slowly walking toward the group with dull expressions on their faces. He knelt and touched the group, summoning up the Bramble-Commanding Aura around the largest group of villagers, and vines and weeds sprouted up from the ground and lashed around their legs. They didn't seem to notice, but it definitely slowed them down.

Amos shot at the demon with his bow, but missed and the flaming arrow hit the building behind it, which began sizzling. Ringo bit at the spider, tearing off one of its legs, as the spider attacked Shining Star again, but she stepped back and called up the Chains of Searing Light. Unfortunately, the pain distracted her and the demon easily slipped between them.

Elaphe did nothing, watching the old chuzan that was slowly and purposefully walking down the road near him.

Suddenly, the chuzen opened his mouth impossibly wide and a green pillar of flesh forced its way out and rocketed through the air, hitting Ringo and carving a chunk from her flesh, before continuing across the square and entering the grotesquely-open mouth of a mycon on the other side of the square. Dim Ember drew back her bow again and launched a flurry of arrows at the demon, two of them hitting and sinking into its flesh. It began to bleed black smoke as Cheerless Sword shouted to wait and attack on his signal.

Amos fired another arrow, this time hitting the spider, as Bonnie ran out of the tea house clad in her armor and Elaphe stepped forward and brutally half-decapitated the old chuzan from behind. The Green Knight moved up toward the demon spider as the door to the town hall was hurled open, nealry off its hinges, revealing the hulking form of a blood-ape--a monster a foot taller than a kong, with black fur, spikes on its joints and shoulders, and glowing patches as though its blood was burning and shining through its skin. As it began to move forward, Shining Star, Cheerless Sword and Ringo all struck at once, carving the demonic spider to ribbons and dissolving its physical form. Though, as Amos and Bonnie saw, not destroying it--immaterial, it began to run back toward the town hall.

The mycon's mouth opened wide and the green mode hurled itself across the square in front of the town hall, hitting Dim Ember a glancing blow, and disappearing down the mouth of an amanita across the square. As Amos fired at the blood ape, hitting it as it charged forward and the Green Knight moved to intercept it, Shining Star raised her hands and they began glowing with an eye-searing white light and she called up Star Fires and hurled them at the possessed amanita. The white light washed over them, and they began to cough black smoke and smoke drifted out of their eyes and ears. Dim Ember followed it up with an arrow which vanished in the air, but to Bonnie's tea-enhanced vision it turned into a cloud of rose petals which enveloped the possessed amanita.

Then a horrific shriek filled the square, emanating from the town hall. For those at the far end of the square it was merely blood-curdling, but those closer felt the sound crawling over their skin, seeking and entrance and trying to settle inside them...

...and we ended there for time.

Combat! It actually only took up the last half of the session, it's just that the first half was a lot of minor conversations and wondering what the group should do? The answer turned out to be "frontal assault," I think partially because Shining Star's player wanted something to happen and partially because she thought that Shining Star was tired of waiting. And for a combat with twelve participants--thirteen if you count Kurome--I thought it went pretty well.

The demons are showing no fear in combat because their bodies aren't them--as spirits, they can materialize and just dematerialize if sufficiently beaten up. Now, should any of the party show themselves capable of hurting dematerialized spirits, as Shining Star and Dim Ember can, then they'll be more cautious. Shining Star being a priestess of Nyahré is the reason why the demon spider was attacking her with suicidal fury, hoping for its poison to take effect. No such luck.

That shriek at the end obviously supernatural, but I realized after the game that I was wrong about who was close enough to the town hall to be affected by it, so I'll deal with that at the beginning of the next game. I also have to rewrite the spell that causes it, because right now it's boring.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Elaphe went back to sleep and Bonnie was out in the square by the pipe, but Shining Star, the Green Knight, and Amos were in the common room when one of the amanita from the group last night came downstairs, picked up a bowl of mushroom gruel from the bartender, and started to eat it. After a brief debate about how to deal with the other group, Shining Star took the initiative, stood up, and walked over to the amanita and sat at his table.

The amanita was closemouthed, but he was willing to engage Shining Star in conversation. She tried to subtly hint to them that she was in town for the same reason, but the amanita either didn't pick up on it or wasn't interested in revealing their own motivations.
Shining Star: "You come from the Kingdom of Flowers?"
Amanita: "There are many wanderers from the Kingdom on the road in these days."
She was thinking about what to do next when the mandragora companion of the anamita came downstairs and sat next to him. Shining Star tried talking to her using the Royal Speech, the mandragora ability to speak into others' minds, and had much more success.

The mandragora introduced herself as Dim Ember of the House of Hollyhock, Knight-Lieutenant of the Knights of the Rose, a Floral knightly order responsible for dealing with dangerous spirits. She told Shining Star that she had been tracking Kurome for weeks since they had heard rumors in tower town that he was in Greenwall, and introduced her companions--Ringo, a raptok sorcerer; Meohan, a hedge wizard; and Cheerless Sword, her yojimbo, the amanita sitting next to her.

As if summoned, Meohan and Ringo came down the stairs and joined them at the table, and Amos and the Green Knight--who had been engaging in a staring contest with both Cheerless Sword and then Dim Ember--also came and sat down when Shining Star used the Royal Speech to tell them what had transpired. Bonnie, who had been sidling from chair to chair to get a bit closer, sat as well, and even Elaphe woke up and came downstairs, though he affected to be unrelated and sat at the bar instead, keeping an ear out.

Most of the session was taken up with the discussion that ensued as the two groups tried to feel each other out. Now that she knew she was dealing with a fellow exile of the Kingdom of Flowers, Dim Ember was much more forthcoming, and while she didn't explain her past or how she met her companions, she did mention what she knew about Kurome--that he had fled from the wrath of the Dragon Emperor (she uses the term "usurper") to a village in the north of the Kingdom of Flowers, but a group of wandering heroes had defeated his attempt to conquer that and use it as a base to expand his power. He fled through the Forest of Shadows, somehow surviving the journey, and had come to Greenwall, and she meant to kill him.

Bonnie asked if Dim Ember is a sorcerer, and she replied that she is not but that Ringo is, and then Bonnie tried to find out if Dim Ember and her group really is responsible for killing Summer Rain. She rolls and...botches the roll, so instead of asking in a round-about fashion if the Knights of the Rose have a way of dealing with ghosts, Bonnie blurted out something about whether Dim Ember created any ghosts on the way south. That put something of a damper on the conversation, and moreso when Shining Star casts Scent of Corruption and learned that the bartender in the inn they're staying in has the touch of demonic magic on her. The spell wasn't specific enough to tell if the bartender was possessed, cursed, or under a compulsion, and Shining Star weighed the chance of exorcising the taint with the fact that she'd be revealing herself to Kurome if she did. She decided against it, and Dim Ember and her group left to do more scouting of the town.

Shining Star and the party, minus Elaphe, did the same, and they found a half-dozen individuals who were tainted in the same way. No one is sure where Kurome is, but the smell of rot was strongest in the town square and faded as they walked near the outlying houses and fields, so even if Kurome isn't physically present in the town, that was obviously where his influence was the strongest. While wandering around, they were confronted by a group of local mycon and amanita youths who were spoiling for a fight. One of them, who had the smoky haze of demonic influence around him, even went so far as to throw a clod of dirt at Shining Star, but when the Green Knight used hedge magic to disappear and reappear right in front of them, the youths all broke and ran. Back at the inn, the party conferred. Elaphe agreed to continue watching the bartender and the others went to bed.

That night, after the inn was closed and the bartender had gone to sleep, Elaphe slipped out the front and around the back and found a door leading out to an alleyway, so he chanted a quick bit of hedge magic to aid stealth and settled in to wait. After about an hour in the alley, the bartender left through the back door and began to purposefully walk north. Elaphe followed, noticing a few other people walking at night as well, and eventually climbed up to a roof to get a better viewpoint. The people all walked north into the grain fields and disappeared into the tall stalks, though he could see ruffling among the sheaves that told him they were converging on one point. He made his way back to the inn, encountering nothing other than a few drunks, and when he returned he saw steady light coming from the room that Dim Ember and her group were staying in. He decided to wake Shining Star, however, and explained what he saw and then lay down to sleep.

Shining Star knocked on Dim Ember's door and it opened onto a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth as long as her hand. But when Ringo noticed who it was, she stepped aside, revealing Meohan sitting over a bowl of water and moving his hands in languid motions. Shining Star explained to Dim Ember what Elaphe had found, and Meohan changed the focus of his scrying pool. From above, it showed ten people standing in a circle in a small clearing in the fields. The only sound was the wind, but Shining Star could see the glow of their eyes--not the verdant green of the Green Knight's eyes, but the sickly green-yellow of something poisonous. After a few moments, the group dispersed, and Shining Star returned to her room and went to sleep.

Like I mentioned, this session was almost entirely dialogue other than the spying at the end. The whole thing really turned on Bonnie's Charisma + Presence botch--without that, the party might have been able to figure out what really happened with Summer Rain and maybe resolve that. As it is, the shield was left in their room all day, so barring some kind of ghost power, Summer Rain doesn't know what happened. At least, they hope not!

Now the party has tentative allies, but the real question comes in for whether they'll be able to fight Kurome and what happens after they win. Elaphe's player does a lot of asking about the location of things so he can figure blast radii...
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Through a driving rain, though shielded by a faerie enchantment, the group continued down the road away from the faerie pond, seeing no one and nothing for hours on the road. It wasn't until nearly dinnertime when the Green Knight, tired from hours of riding, failed to see the dionaea that had taken root on a mushroom tree until it descended from above and snatched him off his horse.

Amos drew his bow and Shining Star dismounted as the dionaea lifted the Green Knight into the air. Elaphe leapt and struck it with his dagger, wounding it, as Amos also shot a flaming arrow that failed to kindle in the rain but wounded the carnivorous plant. As Shining Star drew her bow and Bonnie sent her iron jaws familiar to attack, Elaphe leapt again, severing the dionaea's stalk and sending its body crashing to the ground. The Green Knight stood up uninjured, his armor having protected him from the dionaea's grinding jaws, and after Bonnie took some samples of dionaea sap for her alchemy, they continued on the road.

They rode for two days. At sundown on the first day the serpent of shadow and flame finally winked out for the last time, but they were positive now that their quarry was in the village of Greenwall. They passed some bedraggled-looking amanita heading west on the road who gave them a wide berth, and after sundown on the second day, tired, saddle-sore, and sick of riding, they entered the gates of Greenwall.

The village was surrounded by a thornwall to keep out the walking trees and other animated plants, with a patch of bare earth a dozen yards wide on the inside so that any dangerous plants that took root would be easily spotted. Inside that were fields, again with patches of bare earth between them so that a contaminated field could be purged and with bakeccha tending the ripened grain visible only to Amos's eyes, and inside all that was the actual village of Greenwall. The streets were a little empty, and most villagers scurried on without looking more than once at the party as they rode. There was a subdued note in the air, but nothing obviously strange or wrong. They thought about asking the villagers for some news, but decided against it:
Me: "What are your Socialize skills?"
"One." "One." "I don't have it." "Me either." "One."
Amos's player: "Wow, we're just a bunch of wandering psychopaths!"
As they entered the square at the center of town and spotted a tea house with the sign of the green wall, Amos saw a giant spider, almost half-again as wide as he was tall, with twisted limbs and mottled yellow and black coloring, perched on the roof of a building. As soon as it realized that Amos could see it, it scurried back out of sight...and Amos, who was used to seeing things no one else could see, didn't think it was worth mentioning.

The tea house was filled with mycon, amanita, and mandragora drinking and talking. A female mandragora with hair the bright orange of autumn leaves worked behind the bar, and in the corner were four people that immediately stood out. A raptok, a mandragora, and two amanita, quietly talking amongst themselves.

The party arranged for a room and once they did, the Green Knight and Shining Star, tired from the road, went up and went to sleep after prayers to their perspective deities. The others went down the common room and drank mushroom beer. Bonnie chatted to the bartender, who answered halfheartedly and without actually saying much, and then goes back to Elaphe, who's listening in to the murderers' conversation.

After only a few moments, he learns that they're here in the city to kill Kurome.

They also mention that they want to head out that evening and look for "evidence of corruption," and so once they leave to do that, Amos and Elaphe follow them, Elaphe using a bit of hedge magic to make him harder to spot. The others do not spot them, and they follow for about an hour as the others search through the town square, stopping every few moment as one of the amanita looks around, and eventually make their way back to the tea house. They also notice a pipe in the town square, with a scaffolding built around it leading up to the top.

As they're watching, Amos describes the spider he saw to Elaphe, and Elaphe recognizes it as an anuhles, a demonic assassin that delights in poison.

Back in the tea house Elaphe heads upstairs when the others do, marking which room they enter, and weighs sending his bob-omb after them in their sleep. He eventually decides against it because he's not sure how protected they would be in their own room and because he'd have to retrieve the bob-omb's parts from the wreckage, and goes to sleep. In the common room, a mycon comes up to Amos as he's drinking mushroom beer and asks him where he's from in accented Muskalan. Bonnie translates and answers, telling the mycon that he's a "hyoo-man" from "The Kingdom of Tennaysee." The mycon asks where that is, and when Bonnie tells him it's from beyond the pipes, they make a sign with their left hand and quickly exit the conversation. Bonnie follows to their table and makes some conversation with the people there, but doesn't get much further than asking names--Cloud, Early Rain, White Axe, and Winter Frost--before she realizes that maybe it's not a good idea to be more conspicuous than she already has been and then she goes to bed. In the room, she asks Summer Rain if she knows exactly who murdered her, but the ghost doesn't reply. Bonnie only receives a sense of rage and helplessness from the shield the ghost is possessing, and she eventually gives up and goes to sleep.

In the morning at breakfast, Elaphe and Amos fill the Green Knight and Shining Star in on what they've heard. The murderers are not there, and so the party discusses what to do. Them killing Kurome and Summer Rain's lack of answers throw a bit of a wrench into their plans, but after some discussion, they decide to stay in the town for a few days and see if the murderers are actually murderers and how their attempt to kill Kurome goes.

Also, Bonnie asks around about the pipe in the town square and learns that it leads to just outside the Scarlet City.

And that's where we ended! Combat took up a bit of time and there was a lot of discussion over what exactly to do now that the party finally found the people they've been tracking for half the game. Especially since these people have a mission that over half the party (Shining Star, Amos, and the Green Knight) would be happy to see succeed and Summer Rain isn't being entirely clear about how she was killed. Are these the murderers? The ghost certainly thinks so.
"I haven't come this far to not kill somebody."
-Amos's player
Now I have to come up with a map of Greenwall and some key personalities in the town, since they might be here for a while. It'll be like the old test game I ran all in that one village!
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
Who knows if it'll ever get finished, but I decided to work on that fantasy RPG I posted about earlier, though with one change--I'm using 2d10 instead of a dice-pool, success-counting system. After all, I have Shadowrun 4e and Exalted already, and Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom is a great set of house rules for low fantasy. Might as well make something new.

I'm running into a problem, though. Specifically, about defense in combat. I want opposed skill rolls, and it's obvious what the attack rolls. But what about the defender?

Do I want a Dodge skill and if so, how do I make it worthwhile investment instead of buying more combat skill that can also be used to parry? What about shields--should there be a shield skill? If not, what does the shield-wielder roll?

For shields, I think I came up with the answer. Have some kind of Advantage called "Shield Training" that lets the warrior use shields with their normal combat skill, and incentivize shields by making them easier to defend with and able to block arrows (leaving parrying arrows for monks). Okay, that's done.

Dodge? Right now, I'm thinking of having an Evade skill that covers combat dodging as well as just generally avoiding bad stuff--the equivalent of a Reflex save as well, going with the Vigor skill and the Resolve skill. That's not super elegant, but it will work.

As for which to roll, maybe add in a couple things to incentivize Evade. Attacks that can't be blocked/parried, like some spells, attacks that are easier to defend against by one or the other defense like Exalted has. That has to be done carefully, though, in a way that conveys the proper information to the players so they can make informed decisions, and without that it's better off not to do it at all.

"Better off not to do it at all" is probably a good attitude toward the whole project, but I like tinkering!
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Woken up early by the river dragon and under a cloudy sky with a steady rain, the group decided to set out early rather than try to get more sleep, so they saddled their mounts, ate a quick breakfast, and set out on the road. They spent hours on the road with sparse mushroom trees on either side, seeing no one, though Amos did see a few camome dancing among the rainclouds. The Green Knight does pause and use his sorcery to contact a tree and ask it if it saw their quarry pass by, and it confirms that it saw them "recently," but is unable to provide further details and the party moved on. It wasn't until almost lunch that they saw two amanita on horses heavily laden with baggage, riding slowly through the rain.

Bonnie hailed them as they drew near and asked them where they were going. With much glancing at each other, the amanita explained that they came from Greenwall, the village in the middle of the mushroom forest that the hollow one's serpent of smoke and fire seems to be directing the party toward, and left because a kappa warlock arrived and corrupted the town council to his will. Shining Star perked up at that and asked if the warlock has any distinguishing marks, and the amanita said that he was missing an eye--as is Kurome, one of the Dragon Emperor's former generals, since disgraced and fled into exile. They added that they hadn't seen him up close, since they had avoided him as much as they could and got out of town as quickly as possible.

This starts a brief argument among the group over way to do. Shining Star has heard of Kurome and pointed out that he's a former general of the Dragon Empire, not some two-bit hedge cultist. Bonnie was a bit star-struck by the knowledge she could gain from a master warlock, but kept it under wraps in the face of Shining Star's vehemence. Shining Star wavered, but Nyahré's dictates to destroy the unholy win out over her caution against facing a warlock, and the group decided to continue on to the village.

The amanita also confirmed that they saw Summer Rain's murderers staying at a tea house near the western gate, but didn't speak to them. With no further information, the party bids the amanita fairwell and Elaphe spurs his claw strider to a trot.

As they rode down the road and the mushroom forest gets less and less sparse, Amos noticed that there were many more forest spirits watching them silently, and when he mentioned this, Bonnie stopped and brewed up a dose of spirit-flower tea for her and Shining Star. Both of them drank the hallucinogenic tea and their vision swirled with colors, but also revealed the shapes of fushigibana perched on the caps of mushroom trees, watching with them brilliant green eyes. The Green Knight consulted the voices of the forest and received a strong sense that the spirits wanted him in Greenwall to confront the warlock.

Just around a bend in the road were several vines hanging from the caps of the mushroom trees that Elaphe managed to see in time and rear his claw strider to avoid. The rest of the group followed his example, and the Green Knight grabbed a stick and threw it at one of the vines, which wrapped around it and whipped up into the forest canopy. When it didn't immediately come back down, the party started throwing more things, including Elaphe hurling his bob-omb, which sadly went wide and exploded harmlessly in the road. Eventually they were able to trigger enough of the stranglevines that they cleared a path for them to take that won't pass too close to any of them, and Elaphe led them through in single file.

Close to dinnertime they found a path leading north off the road that had been deliberately obscured, but merely marked it on their map and continued going. They settled in for the night at a somewhat secluded campsite under a cluster of mushroom trees, the rain having not let up for the entire day, and went to sleep.

That night, Shining Star prayed for guidance, but felt no answer from Nyahré.

Close to morning on Shining Star's watch, she heard the distant crashing sound that every child in Agarica has drilled into them from childhood--a walking tree. She woke the Green Knight and asked his opinion. The Green Knight said that walking trees do not hunt by sight or sound, and as long as they remain in their camp and do not bleed they should be safe, but he opened himself to the voices of the forest to be sure. He received a strong message to stay where they were, and conveyed it to Shining Star before he went back to sleep.

The next morning it was raining even harder than it previous day, something the party hadn't thought possible, but without any option than to go forward they saddled their mounts, ate some cold rations, and set out on the road. They were soaked almost the instant they left the cover of the mushroom trees.

Around mid-morning, Amos's attention was caught by a small pond on the side of the road that sparkled alluringly. Bonnie took a sample of the water and drank it, and it was some of the most refreshing water she had ever tasted. As she drank, she heard the faint sound of musical laughter. A few winged motes of light appeared, dancing over the water, and they whirled round and round until they coalesced into a woman in diaphanous garments with flowing hair and great wings beating in the air behind her. A great faerie!

Shining Star took the lead her as the faerie asked them if they were willing to stay a while and listen. The faerie waved a hand and the rain stopped a few inches above their heads, as a sign of her good will, but Shining Star said that they were on a quest that could not be delayed, but when it was finished they would come back to her. The faerie asked if she promised, and Shining Star did not do so, but she did offer up a ring with the seal of Nyahré as sureity. The faerie took it and spun it around her fingers, and it vanished in a flash of light. And moments later the faerie did as well, falling apart into winged motes and leaving soft laughter ringing in the party's ears.

As they moved back onto the road, the party noticed that the rain was still stopping above their heads, and gratefully they continued eastward.

Somewhat shorter session this time, but we still managed to fit some stuff in! This is all from random tables and provided a bunch of hooks that they'll get to...later. Elaphe's player pointed out that there's a good half-dozen things the party can investigate when they've finished their current goal, though who knows in what condition some of them will be in by the time they get back there.

This is the first session where I really started to keep track of time with the aid of an in-game calendar. I consulted the players about how esoteric they wanted the calendar to be and the answer was "not," so it has the standard seven-day weeks and twelve months. I changed the names with some inspiration from Japanese naming, though, so in-game we ended on Fireday, the ninth day of the Month of Falling Leaves. The 15th and 30th of each month (Silverday and Spiritday) aren't part of a week, but otherwise it's easily trackable. I even populated it with weather and celestial events like moon phases and comets, so I don't have to roll for any of that and can plan for it in-game! It allows some events that I couldn't otherwise track or would have to leave up to randomness, like other groups' plans being based around certain days or certain astronomical events. I did that in my WFRP game where there's a detailed calendar as well, and I like how it worked out.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Elaphe listened carefully to the rumbling, feeling the earth, but while it did grow closer, it then faded away and didn't seem to be deliberately coming toward the party's campsite.

When dawn finally came, the party awoke, ate a hurried breakfast, and then continued following the fiery serpent, only stopping when Elaphe and his mount nearly fell into a hole as the ground crumbled out from under them. It wasn't a gravecup--the inside of the hole looked like dirt, and though the light didn't reach down that far it seemed like it was part of a larger tunnel complex dug out by some creature. After some brief consideration, they decided to skirt around the tunnels, and carefully picked their way overland to avoid the unstable ground.

The next couple days were almost entirely uneventful other than the steadily more wet weather and Bonnie's miserable experience riding--at the end of each day, she'd fling herself off her mount to the ground with a sizeable Fatigue penalty. All they saw were birds and a few signs of animal life until after noon on the second day, when they entered the mushroom forest.

All forests in Agarica have a few mushroom trees mixed in, but they were now in a true mushroom forest. Vast mushroom trees rising to the sky, their trunks occasionally splitting into multiple caps. A carpet of moss and lichen on the forest floor in red and green and violet. Faintly bioluminescent sporebats floating through the trunks on their own path. The fiery serpent pointed straight through the forest, so that's where they went. And it went well for a couple of hours until Elaphe nearly rode straight into an enormous web strung between the trunks.

He pulled at the reins of his claw strider just in time and looked up to see half-a-dozen enormous spiders rushing down the web toward him. He pulled out his bob-omb and hurled it, and while it blew a giant hole in the web and knocked one of the spiders to the ground, the others escaped and continued their advance.

Elaphe's claw strider snapped at the spider on the ground, who managed to pick itself up and scuttle out of the way, while another one leapt down from above and bit Elaphe in the shoulder. He felt a burning and a brief feeling of nausea wash over him, but it quickly passed as the whole group turned their mounts about and ran. The horses were faster than the spiders, but they could match the claw strider until Amos turned in the saddle with his bow and shot a flaming arrow at the spider in the lead. It was a solid hit, and the spider peeled off and ran, with the others soon following it.

With a moment to breathe, the group dismounted and Shining Star took a look at Elaphe's wound. The poison hadn't taken, but it was bleeding freely and looking red and swollen with signs of infection, so she chanted a few words of hedge magic over it to stop the bleeding and help fight disease. When the swelling didn't seem to go down, Elaphe pulled out a poultice smelling of herbs and sandalwood and rubbed it all over the wound, and then for good measure, took out a vial, uncorked it, and drank it as an enormously spicy scent filled the air. Elaphe coughed, pounded his chest a few time, and then shook his head and waited for the hero's recovery potion to take effect.

The made camp that night and in the morning, they consulted their treasure map. It showed a road leading through the mushroom forest and a town in the depths of the forest along the road. Following the fiery serpent would lead them through the deepest part of the forest where the spirits and wild animals were thickest, but it was pointing almost directly at the town. Its fire was also starting to dim a bit and the smoke was venting slightly from its sides, so they needed to make a decision.

They decided to take the road. They went back west, out of the forest, and turned north, reaching the road in midafternoon. After a brief trip east, they saw between the road and the lake a wooden tower, four stories high, with blue-and-white cloud banners flapping in the breeze. It wasn't any heraldry that Shining Star or the Green Knight had ever heard of. They decided not to check it out, but marked it on their map since they'd be passing back that way, and continued on.

They made camp that night near the lake, trusting the road and the lake at their back to keep away predators, and went to bed. On the third watch, when the Green Knight was awaken, he went to a tree near the water and called on the power of the forest spirits to cast Whisper of the Grasses and asked the tree whether it had seen a raptok, a mandragora, and two amanita passing by on the road. The tree replied that many people passed on the road, but that it had not seen the ones the Greek Knight described. When he asked about the walking dead, the tree had seen those, heading west. The party hadn't seen any in the wilderness, though.

As the Green Knight thanked the tree and turned away, a river dragon lunged out of the water, its teeth snapping on the air and just missing the Green Knight by inches!

Elaphe awoke and scrabbled to his feet as the Green Knight moved away, bowing to honor the predator who had almost got him. As the Green Knight grabbed his lance and made to mount his horse, Elaphe hurled a bob-omb, which exploded on the river dragon without doing much apparent damage. The bob-omb's explosion woke the rest of the group, and when Shining Star chanted the words of the Chains of Searing Light and the river dragon barely even slowed down, they decided to just get on the move early. They quickly broke camp, mounted up, and left while the river dragon turned and went back into the water.

PCs ran from not one, but two fights?! Stop the presses!

It was probably a good tactical call. The giant spiders were pretty fragile but had higher dodge and accuracy, which also describes a large chunk of the party, and a couple members of the party were suffering from fatigue penalties from riding in armor. A fight would have been very risky, with the possibility to swing either way on one or two bad rolls, and with no obvious reward from winning. Unless the spiders had a stash of treasure from others they had eaten, but who knows now? The river dragon would have been bragging rights, like the time that the PCs fought an ox-dragon and won in the last Warlords game I ran. Of course, I learned from that experience and modified thunder lizard stats accordingly. I don't think the PCs could have beaten the river dragon except by pulling back and shooting arrows at it from range, and it probably would have ran back into the water before they killed it.

I'm actually really happy. I see a ton of threads online about GMs running hexcrawls who want to let their players know that the encounters aren't scaled anymore and there will be fights they probably can't win, so don't always fight to the death, but can't figure out how to convey the knowledge because of ingrained player habits. I don't have to worry about that. And that's good, because my random encounter tables are not scaled to level.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
While Onyx the "Void Witch" (as the players called her) bonded Elaphe's claw strider to him, Bonnie haggled over the formulae for two new recipes for the Lesser Path of Alchemy, and the Green Knight communed with the spirits of the forest and learns the remaining first circle spells of the Briarwitches, Amos Burnham wandered the streets of Blueash. The alleyways were packed with refugees, children in tow, chuzan and mycon and amanita all walking around aimlessly or sitting wherever they could find a free space. An occasional patrol of guards with the cow's head of the Kingdom of Fontina on it moved through the crowds.

Amos bumped into someone as walked and apologized in Floral, and when he looked he realized it was a Silent One. The Silent One's body wasstrangely rubbery, and for a moment it felt almost like Amos sunk into it before rebounding back. The Silent One apologized as well, and Amos was drawn into conversation, asking it about the plague of walking dead and how things were in the surrounding villages. The Silent One told him it was down from tower town on business, but that it hadn't realized things were getting this bad, and that it had heard that the king had sent for a group of witchhunters from the Temple of the Holy Flame to deal with the problem. And with all the refugees in the cities and abandoned farms, the crops are rotting in the fields without hands to harvest them and winter will not be kind. Amos listened to all of this and agreed, and then bid farewell to the Silent One and continued on his way. He took the few coins he had on him out of his pocket and gave them to a family of mycon he saw by the side of the road--not much, but enough to pay for a couple days of food--and the mycon profusely thanked him. At least, he assumed that's what they did since Amos doesn't speak Muskalan, but when he walked away, he saw one of the mycon head toward the market and smiled that at least one good deed was done here.

When the rest of the group arrived at the south gate looking for Snow, they found Amos sitting there watching people come in and out of the gate. Elaphe learned that Snow's shift started in an hour (he rolled a 10 on zero dice, bumped up to 1 die with a 10 required. Don't ask a murderhobo assassin to gather information for you...), most of the group waited, Shining Star and Amos discussing moral philosophy, while Bonnie headed back to a plaza they passed with a pipe in the center of it and a scaffolding of stairs leading up to it as well as a sign saying that the pipe has stable transit to B'rabt but there's a toll collected at the other end. Bonnie sees a few people going in and out, and when a chuzan with sandy-brown fur and longer legs than the Muskalan chuzen, she runs over and interrogates her. Through gestures she manages to convince the chuzan, named White Lotus, to tell her about B'rabt in accented Muskalan and talk with her in B'rabti long enough that Bonnie was able to surreptitiously cast the Language-Learning Ritual and imprint the knowledge of B'rabti in her mind. Currently, she has 20 motes of Essence out of 24 committed to maintaining language knowledge. She also revealed her full name when introducing herself--"Bonnibel."

Also, this is the point where we learned that Bonnie's player had written down Muskalan on her sheet as "Ratspeak." Rude.  photo emot-argh.gif

Speaking to Snow, they learned that the bandits had gone through the south gate, a little over a week ago, and they decided that it wouldn't be prudent to pursue them at night. They rented floor space in the common room of a tea house at grossly inflated prices and settled down for the night, Elaphe considering and then rejecting robbing the other patrons while the Green Knight meditated on the rooftop, and in the morning they set out for Rockfort, the capital of Fontina.

They made good time on the road, passing a lot of refugees and a few farms here and there. At one point they passed a group of amanita merchants bringing bread and food to Rockfort, but decided not to buy anything and kept going. Just after lunchtime, they arrived in Rockfort. True to its name, it's built on a small mesa overlooking a large lake, with dirt ramps leading up to the walls. Unlike Blueash, here the gates were open and the party went in without much incident, though they were unable to ask the guards more than if they're seen the bandits because of the line of refugees waiting. The guards had seen them--they arrived four days ago. But Blueash was only half a day's ride away. What were they doing in that time? Hmm...

Bonnie immediately scoured the streets looking for any sorcerers in residence, and after a relatively short search, she found a familiar shingle that says "Onyx, Disciple of the Abyss." When she looked inside, it was the exact same room, with the exact same tea table in the center, and the exact same curtains on the windows. Bonnie talked with the hollow one for a moment and Onyx seemed surprised until she realized that oh, they came from Rockfort this time. Bonnie asked if the hollow one can track down anyone who is lost, and she replied that she could if she had something more than just "A mandragora, a raptok, and two amanita," so Bonnie went off to find her companions and get the shield that Summer Rain is currently possessing.
Me: "You step across the threshold-"
Elaphe's player: "Deliberate word choice there."
Everyone except Elaphe refused to enter the witch-haunted house, but Bonnie and Elaphe went in with the shield and Bonnie relayed the information from Summer Rain. When it is done, Onyx spins her arms behind her, opening a hole into a void darker than that which lies between the stars. She turns around--Elaphe's player was surprised she turned her back on them--and pulls something out, and a twenty-foot-long serpent of heatless flame and roiling shadows explodes out of the hole in realities and exits through the front door. "Follow it!" Onyx shouts, and Elaphe and Bonnie hasten to do so.

The group all mounts off and gallops through the streets of Rockfort, not encountering much difficulty as the people all scatter out of the way of a party of galloping murderhobos pursuing a flying, sorcerous thing. They ride hard for several hours until Bonnie is nearly falling off her horse and the horses themselves, and Elaphe's claw strider, are panting and obviously exhausted, and then they make camp. As they sleep, the serpent of fire and shadow circles over them in endless loops and spirals, casting the camp into alternate light and dark.

When it's almost morning, on Elaphe's watch, he hears something faint with his keen chuzan hearing and feels the ground rumbling slightly. Something is coming nearer.

Yes, everything in the petty kingdom they're in is named after cheese. One of the players suggested Fontina and I ran with it. This is  photo emot-black101.gifserious sword and sorcery photo emot-black101.gif, but it's also based on Mario, which has places like "Vanilla Dome" and "Donut Plains" and "Beanbean Kingdom." A small kingdom with names like cheese is nothing.

I'm a bit surprised that everyone really wants to track down these murderers, but if that's what they're going to do, then that's what the game is about. Elaphe's player mentioned wanting to go through the pipe to B'rabt and change the whole plot, and I replied that the plot is whatever the characters do, so I'd have to scrap some of my notes and work on desert-based random encounters, but it wouldn't derail anything.

I would drop some rumors about the plague of walking dead happening out east, though. And if they treat that as background danger, that'll still be what happens.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Healed and rested after their battle against the animated dead, the group loaded up their horses and wagon and headed back toward the road under a cloudy sky. Elaphe "scouted ahead," meaning that he went straight to the road and to the nearest farming village, asking if the people there had seen a raptok traveling with a mandragora and two amanita. He didn't get much of an answer other than that they had seen them, but he did notice that a bunch of debris and wagons had been piled up on the southern end of the town across the road and two farmers were standing on top of the wall with bows. After looking around a bit, he headed back to the rest of the group, who were much slower since they were traveling with a wagon.

When the group arrived at the village at dusk just as the rain started, they immediately went to a tea house and paid for rooms on the floor and stabling for their mounts. The common room was filled with villagers, all of which were armed with bows, pitchforks, scythes, and other farming implements, who glanced nervously at them as they entered but soon went back to their talking. After a short meal of travel rations and watching the villagers leave and come back in groups, the group collapsed on the floor and went to sleep, though the Green Knight used a quick incantation to reduce his need for sleep, and so woke up in the middle of the night fully rested.

He left the inn and headed out into the rain, checking the wall at the south of town. Three villagers were lying inside the wall on blankets, dead or nearly-so, and when the Green Knight checked out the other side of the wall he saw almost a score of animated dead, mostly feathered with arrows. Looking over the villagers, he spotted a chuzan who seemed to be in charge, and questioned him. He used the Royal Speech, the mandragora ability to speak directly into others' minds, transcending language, and the chuzan spoke a little Floral, so they were able to communicate. The chuzan told him that the dead come every night, from the south, and that the villagers hadn't disturbed any graves or anything else and had no idea what the source of the problem was. He didn't know much else, and the Green Knight went back to the tea house.

In the morning, the group ate and left the town (having lent no aid whatsoever to the villagers--amoral sword and sorcery protagonists go! Shrug photo shrug001.gif), stopping briefly south of town on the road to look at the pile where the villagers had placed the bodies of the zombies on a pyre in preparation for burning them once the rain let up. Bonnie and Shining Star inspected them from a safe distance, both in case any of them were still moving and because they smelled truly disgusting, and were able to determine that the bodies were relatively recent and probably local. They were mostly wearing peasant homespun, so if a necromancer was raising them, they were doing it nearby. Then they set off to the south.

The party spent the whole day on the road, slowed down by the cart and the road which was little more than a mass of mud with only the faintest effort made at keeping the foliage away from it, occasionally seeing groups of travelers from the south. One group of six farmers, the group stopped to talk to, asking about the raptok, the mandragora, and the two amanita. The farmers told him that people of that description had passed through their village and they had warned them about the walking dead, but the murderers had laughed it off and kept going. The farmers also said they were going to tower town, because it had to be safer than their village.

Bonnie took out the haunted shield and asked Summer Rain, the ghost of the murdered chuzan, if she could tell her anything more about her murderers or about the animated dead, but she didn't have much to say other than being extremely vengeance-focused.

The group saw a kong messenger riding south as fast as he can with the armband of tower town officialdom on his arm. Bonnie called after him first in Chaian, then in Floral, but he didn't show any reaction to either language. Then she tried to ride after him, but lacking any dots in Ride, she lost control of her horse and utterly failed to catch up. The group found her later, her horse eating grass by the side of the road, and later camped on a hill in a copse of trees since the rain had slowed their travel and they didn't make it to a resting house before nightfall.

The night passed uneventfully, and the next day they traveled until around lunch time, when they reached a crossroads and a fortified village with the gates closed. The walls were just a wooden palisade, but they still stood and there were guards above the gates who opened them after a bit of bantering--the exact line was, "If they were walking dead they wouldn't talk back." The group went in, found a tea house under the sign of the drunken bear, and asked around about the murderers they were pursuing. They heard that an older guard named Snow had seen them, and there were some other strange things the townspeople had seen as well. A group of grey-robed monks, possibly members of the August Order of the Threshold, a group who makes a study of death and its boundary with life. Several Veiled Ones from Sarasa, guardians of the peace between the nomadic Sarasan clans, far from their grassland home and also heading south. Something was happening.

Then they set out for the bazaar to sell off their cart, which was only slowing them down, and buy some armor for Bonnie.

Newly outfitted in a thick leather coat, Bonnie, as well as Elaphe, Shining Star, and the Green Knight looked for a hedge witch to perform the bonding rite to link Elaphe's claw strider as a familiar, and they found more than that--a house with a shingle outside that had a black tower in a forest or jungle and below that, Muskalan writing that said, "Onyx, Disciple of the Abyss." They entered and saw a sitting room with a low tea table, a pot of tea on a brazier, and three cups already poured as a mandragora woman beckoned them to sit.

Shining Star looked back to her schooling and remembered hearing about a secretive group of sorcerers in a crater in the far north, in a windowless fortress built around a well said to have no bottom, who made their study of the pipes, the Warp, and other worlds. When asked, Onyx said she could perform the binding ritual, and Elaphe and his raptor settled down on opposite ends of a ritual circle, Onyx lit the incense, and it began. Shining Star, Bonnie, and the Green Knight waited the hours of the ritual--though the Green Knight developed an inconvenient leg cramp from looming too hard--and when it was done and Elaphe felt a new sense of connection to his claw strider, Bonnie immediately asked Onyx about her knowledge of necromancy and the walking dead, but Onyx said that it wasn't her area of study. Undeterred, Bonnie followed up by asking about alchemy and what she could teach, and the two settled down to bargaining, though with Elaphe wondering how long this would take and how much further they were falling behind their quarry.

Meanwhile, during all this, Amos Burham wandered the streets of the city, but since we were coming on time I ended it before we were able to deal with what we found there. Next session will start with that.

Bonnie's player wanted to learn the recipe for ghost rum, but I said that Onyx didn't know it. She does know the recipe for spirit flower tea, which lets those who drink it see immaterial spirits, which is probably something that will come in handy in the future.

This is part of me seeding events in the world that the PCs can react to if they choose. The first one, the election, was less interesting, but here's something in the group's way that's bringing back the unquiet dead. Will they stop it? Will they just try to avoid the zombies? We'll find out!
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.

I'm combining these two sessions because each of them had a single main event that dominated the session, though it was a different event for each session.

In the tower town around Etemenanki, the group slept at the inn, again spending the money for a private room (something like 20x as expensive as sleeping in the common room, though they don't have to pay per head for a private room) and in the morning they headed out check the markets. This ended up taking most of the session, and ended up with Elaphe selling the automaton to a Silent One and raptok pair of artificia dealers for a staggering sum of money--three ryō, roughly enough money for a peasant to retire on as long as they're willing to live in a hut and eat gruel for the rest of their life--and then turned around and spent a bunch of it. After some initial contemplation, he turned down the serpentine automaton assassin the dealer was offering, but he did buy an enchanted lockpick which reconfigured its shape based on the lock it was used with.

As soon as he had the money in hand, he headed out to a mount dealer and bought a claw strider with saddle and tack. He plans to bond it as a familiar once he finds a hedge wizard to perform the ritual for him.

Shining Star spent some time studying the materials she had managed to salvage when she fled the Kingdom of Flowers and finally mastered the incantations for the Cloak of Night, which is extra worthwhile because Amos has a crystal that lets him see in the dark.

Bonnie spent some time in a private library in tower town. After paying the entrance fee, she found a few books about Etemenanki--with a fortunately lucky roll, because she had no dots in Investigation--and spent much of the afternoon reading about the tower. She learned that, in megadungeon tradition, it offers great risk and great reward, with barely a fraction of it even explored, much less cleared and made safe. She found a reference to the pidgit-folk and looked up another book, Fading Mist's The Peoples of Agarica, which had a very brief section about the pidgit-folk. Mostly, she learned that there was a cleared route in Etemenanki that led to a balcony where the pidgit-folk would occasionally trade with ground-dwellers, that they lived on the Cloud Kingdoms, that they refused to touch the base earth, and that their sorcerers had command of the winds and storms.

That evening, everyone regathered at the Three Fishes inn and discussed their course of action. They decided not to go into Etemenanki, since it's enormous and not going anywhere, and they do have a treasure map. So they slept and at dawn, they headed out of tower town on the south road. The day's travel was uneventful and they made camp in a small copse of trees. The next day they set out, and around midafternoon Amos saw a sad-looking female chuzan standing over a hastily-patted down mound of earth off the side of the road. No one else saw her.

Unfortunately, Amos doesn't speak Musakalan, and the ghost didn't speak anything else. The group managed to arrange an a system of yes or no questions, where Bonnie would ask the questions in Muskalan and the ghost would nod or shake her head, which Amos would relay. After a while, they learned that in life, the ghost was the daughter of a merchant who had her marriage arranged, but she ran away to become an adventurer. She was on her way to tower town when she was killed by bandits, who included two amanita, a mandragora, and a raptok. She didn't know their names. She did confirm that her two guards also died but had not become wraiths, and the group debated what to do. Swayed by Shining Star, they offered up one of their number for possession, in the passenger rather than overshadow sense, and the ghost instead possessed one of the trow-crafted shields they had taken from the city. Bonnie idly wondered what would satisfy the ghost, and right next to her ear, she heard a hollow voice vehemently whisper, Their blood.

The next day, the group continued south on the road, meeting a few travelers here and there but mostly just making time. They made camp off the road behind a hill, picking Concealment and Sustenance on their Survival roll. During the third watch, near dawn, Amos smelled something rotten on the south wind. The moon was out and the sky was clear, and he could see a group of people moving ("Would you say they are...shambling?" was asked of me) vaguely toward their campsite, though he couldn't tell if the shapes were moving with purpose in their direction. He woke the Green Knight, and the two of them quickly woke the others.

The party debated whether to attack preemptively or not, and finally decided to do so when the Green Knight could handle the vile presence of the walking dead no longer, leaped on his horse, and spurred it toward them, though he did come around in an arc so that the others could approach from another angle. Elaphe grabbed his bob-omb and charged in, following by Shining Star, while Amos picked up his bow and started firing flaming arrows into the group of walking dead. The Green Knight crashed through the horde, somehow missing all of them with his lance and also picking up a passenger as one of the undead grabbed his leg, so he spent several actions trying to get it off. When he rode out of range, Elaphe threw his bob-omb, which did serious damage to many of the walking dead but didn't destroy any of them.

Amos continued to fire as the leading walking corpse got close, then it suddenly lunged for Shining Star, grabbing her arms and making her choke and gasp with the stench (-1 to non-reflexive actions due to nausea from a failed Stamina + Resistance roll). Bonnie sent her iron jaws familiar to save Shining Star while Elaphe got out his knife and the Green Knight finally dislodged his unwelcome passenger and wheeled his horse around, charging back toward the group. As the zombie snapped at Shining Star and she barely got her face out of range, he rode in, leaped off his horse, and tore it to shreds with his wooden claws, knocking Shining Star to the ground and covering her with gore, but leading her uninjured.

Elaphe disemboweled a zombie and another one lunged at Bonnie, grabbing her. Amos picked up his musket and fired it, snapping one of the walking dead nearly in half as Shining Star rose to her feet. The animated corpse holding Bonnie bit her, crunching through the flesh of her shoulder as Bonnie let out a scream. Her iron jaws familiar immediately flew to her defense, though not to much avail.

Shining Star chanted the words to the Chains of Searing Light and bound the zombie attacking Bonnie in solid starlight and flame, rolling four 10s, completely immobilizing it, and dropped it to the ground. Bonnie scuttled away from the battle as Elaphe cut the spinal cord of another of the walking dead and Amos shot one in the head, dropping it to the ground on fire. One of them grabbed the Green Knight, but he tore it apart with his claws before it could bite him, and the group made short work of the remaining walking dead, switching to bow fire to take out the last few who had followed the Green Knight away during his initial charge and only now were staggering back to the battle.

After the battle, Shining Star looked at Bonnie's wounds and was surprised to see that they didn't seem as bad as she thought, though they were bleeding heavily (she lost an additional Health Level from blood loss but managed to score 4 successes on three dice and thus passed the Difficulty 4 Stamina + Resistance roll to avoid wound infection). Her hedge magic wasn't effective, but she used bandages and bound Bonnie's wounds, but not before applying the Malfean Balm (here not powered by demonic energy) into the wound, which made it look a lot better, though turning her fur around it to a shining bronze color.

The group found a new campsite closer to the lake, and this time picked Comfort and Concealment. Elaphe took his claw strider hunting, and they rested for two days while Bonnie's wounds healed.

The combat between a dozen animated corpses, five PCs and one iron jaws took just over an hour, or two run-throughs of this compilation of all versions of Castlevania's "Bloody Tears". That's not bad at all for Exalted combat! Though it did drag a bit at times, but I'm not sure that's even possible to avoid in turn-based combat. At least tick-based timing makes it more unpredictable.

The battle could have gone a lot worse than it did. Bonnie has a Lethal soak of zero, but the zombie did two damage on nine dice. Another zombie missed Shining Star even with her lower Dodge DV and being clinched. No one ever hit Elaphe. Both zombies that grabbed the Green Knight failed to do anything. The Green Knight's horse passed its Valor roll when the walking dead seized it. Bonnie passed her roll to avoid infected wounds in an incredibly statistically-unlikely way (it's usually Difficulty 3, raised for 4 for animated corpses through their Plaguebearer power). Not something the party can always rely on, but I think it helped drive home that combat can be very dangerous. Especially when I mentioned that it would take Bonnie over two weeks to heal before they used the Malfean Balm to turn some of her Lethal damage to Bashing.

I need to add a way for the walking dead to do reflexively Coordinated Attacks if they surround a target. Right now, they're great at clinching but bad at biting (Clinch Accuracy 8, Bite Accuracy 4), so they rely on grabbing people and then biting them, which is thematic. But a group of them isn't dangerous enough, since they would have to take three actions--Coordinate Attack, Clinch, then Bite--to hurt someone. Letting them do it reflexively if there are more of them surrounding a character than that character's Dexterity helps drive home how dangerous it is to get surrounded.

I originally rolled up bandits, but it was 1 point off of the walking dead and I have some plans for things happening in the area the PCs are traveling in. One of the most important parts of a sandbox is that other groups also have plans that they carry on with that the PCs can interact with, or not, so it's not just a game of MOVE TO HEX -> SEARCH -> TREASURE Y/N. The Fairhaven election was one of those--and the election is over now, and one of the candidates won, but the PCs haven't asked in anywhere about it and didn't even check the rumor mill in tower town--and the random animated corpses are another. I've got a couple more schemes up my sleeve, too.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
This session was mainly Dungeons & Dollars, with much of the first part taken up by economic dickering.

The band of murderhobos came into town and set themselves up in a private room at an inn, where Bonnie and Shining Star analyzed the shields using their knowledge of sorcery. They found that the shields weren't enchanted, but that they had been made using sorcery, binding the steel and whatever other material the trow had used to make the reddish-gold metal. They couldn't quite understand its function, but it gave Bonnie an uneasy feeling, like the tingling when a limb has been asleep and is just waking up. Thus confused, they went to sleep.

In the morning, Elaphe took all but one of the swords, one of the spearheads, and two of the shields to sell, after first taking a trow spearhead to a blacksmith and asking them if they knew anything about it. The blacksmith examined the spearhead, tapped it a bit with their claws (they were a mycon), and said that it was trow work, pretty valuable, and seemed very excited that there were more. Elaphe came back with Bonnie and the rest of the loot and got down to haggling, coming out of it with a tidy sum of money that they immediately spent on a riding horse and cart.

Unfortunately, Bonnie rolled very well to sell the trow weapons (6 successes on the Bureaucracy roll, where each success shifts the price 5%), but failed on the horse roll and got swindled. Not to the point of getting passed shoddy goods, but they paid about 10% more than they had to. Still, it let them move the broken automaton onto the cart and head out of town, though not before Bonnie wrote a letter and sent it back west with a runner for the caravan to see if they would be interested in buying a trow automaton, mostly-intact.

The trip down the road toward Etemenanki was mostly uneventful, though Bonnie ran into a group of Chaian kappa from one of the tribes that crossed the Turtleback Mountains into Chai generations ago coming from the tower and, when she heard them speaking in her native tongue, excitedly stopped to talk. She learned that they had left their tribe to see the world as is traditional among their youths, and signed on with a Silent One who had determined he knew a secret route into the tower. He died, crushed by a falling block along with the crystalline cube treasure he found, and several other chuzan mercenaries he brought with him fell victim to pit traps, whirling flame whips, shadow monster, or terrible protean abominations that slithered along channels and absorbed their prey. Two of the kappa had died as well, and the three survivors were making their way back to their tribe. They snapped to attention when Bonnie revealed her rank--as an Auspicious Orator, she's a member of the mandarinate, albeit a low-ranking one--but she waved it off and they parted after a brief time.

That night the forest drew close to the road, and following the Green Knight's urging, they went off the road and made camp in the shadow of the trees. They all went to sleep--even Amos, who could see the fushigibana sitting on the branches and staring down at them--but were awakened by the Green Knight during his watch when he heard a crashing in the distance, a sign that all of them recognized as the tell-tale sound of the walking trees. The Green Knight told them to flee for the road and went off into the woods to find a wild animal to wound, since walking trees are drawn to the scent of blood. He found a deer, but it noticed him just as he snuck up on it and evaded his attack, so with no other recourse he wounded himself and ran. Fortunately, while walking trees are enormously powerful and their tenacity rivals the Terminator, they are not fast and will rarely leave the forests, so he managed to outrun them and make his way back to the group when Amos launched an arrow from his bow which burst into flames and worked as a flare.

The next day was mostly uneventful. There's a mandragora and her entourage that the band of murderhobos ignored, and they camped near the road, which was edged with stone to help keep the forest away. The next day they exited the forest and saw Etemenanki filling the horizon to the southwest and a group of people with armbands with towers on them who asked them if they're going to the tower town and if they know the rules. Elaphe said yes and Bonnie said no, and after a suspicious look the guard told them don't kill, don't steal, don't fight, and it costs one monme to enter the tower paid to the excise office, then they were waved on.

They spent half the day walking down the road, with the tower getting larger and larger, until around sunset, with the whole landscape in shadow because the tower blocked out the sun and several cloud kingdoms visibly orbiting the massive structure, they entered the tower town.

While there's nowhere in Agarica that's racially homogeneous other than the Scarlet City, the tower town was the most eclectic place any of the group had ever seen. There were amanita and mandragora and kong and mycon and kappa and chuzan all rubbing shoulders, a group of raptok goes by chatting in their hissing language, and there was even a kremling in a green robe and his two bodyguards. Amos thought he sees another human, but when he got closer he could see that they had wings. Truly, tower town is an amazing place.

Moving through the streets, Elaphe found the group an inn with the sign of the three fishes and decided they would stay there, and as they entered, I told them there were a few people inside, it was dimly lit in the back but there were larger windows in the front, and then I hit play on Shadow's Theme and mentioned a kong and a raptok drinking tea together in the corner. And we ended there.

This session was mostly dice-driven, with the guards, the walking trees in the forest, and the mandragora and her entourage all spawned from random encounter tables. I will need to come up with something for next game, though, since the murderhobos have a hot tip for a secret portion of Etemenanki. I could probably run the whole rest of the game as a megadungeon set around the tower--an idea I've had before--but that will depend on the party's decisions.
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
Around this time last year (thank you On This Day), I had the idea to take the Final Fantasy summons and recast them as a fantasy setting pantheon, the way that GURPS Fantasy II has the cast of Winnie the Pooh reinterpreted as capricious deities. I ran through a few and let the idea sit, and honestly I forgot about it. Then when it popped up again in my memories, I thought, "You know...I've detailed the gods of the Kingdom of Flowers and B'rabt in Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom, but nowhere else. Maybe I should use these?"

So here are the gods of Chai:
  • Bahamut: King of the gods, god of the sky, rulership, and government.
  • Leviathan: Queen of the gods, goddess of the sea, knowledge, and secrets.
  • Ramuh: God of storms, rain, and magic.
  • Alexander: Deity of the sun and of justice.
  • Phoenix: Goddess of healing, inspiration, birth, and renewal.
  • Shiva: Goddess of winter and of commerce.
  • Ifrit: God of destruction, ruin, and failure.
  • Siren: Goddess of beauty, love, jealousy, and song.
  • Maduin: God of boundaries, time, and transitions.
  • Carbuncle: Goddess of the home, construction, and defensive warfare.
  • Fenrir: Deity of the moon, transformation, and the spirit world.
  • Phantom: Goddess of death, dreams, and the afterlife.
  • Diabolos: God of night, murder, and offensive warfare.
  • Titan: God of earth, the fields, and the harvest.
I'm sure there are some aspects of the world that I'm forgetting here, but I'm hitting the limit of my ability to turn entities summoned in battle that have one power and maybe a few spells into deities. "God of the Sky" could plausible belong to Bahamut, Valefor, Quetzalli, Garuda, and one or two others I'm missing.

I'm a little tempted to cut one of them to make a numerically significant 13, but I'm not sure who I would cut without losing something worthwhile--maybe Maduin, though I want to keep him. I also just realized it's perfectly balanced--six gods, six goddesses, and two without gender. I didn't set out intending to do that, but I like the symmetry.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • The Green Knight, mandragora briarwitch.
  • Bonnie, kong Auspicious Orator.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.

Skipped last session, which was mostly traveling on the road and wandering through the hills, meeting a large cloth and spices caravan that runs between the Scarlet City and Chai and Bonnie getting an address to write to for more information about their travels or if she found anything worth selling, finding shelter from the rain, and Elaphe hurling a bob-omb into a group of bandits(?), and then ended with finding a ruined trow city, prying one of the doors open, and going inside.

Amos can see in the dark due to a permanent crystal he has and Bonnie had a lantern, so the group went in to the first chamber. There were some murals on the back wall with writing that no one could read, though Bonnie copied the text down. While she was writing, Elaphe felt the ground vibrate slightly (though no one else noticed it) and then they went into another room. This room had four waist-high statues of meguroko and a broken stone table, as well as a corridor ending in a solid wall and another door outside the room. Elaphe inspected the statues, but found that they were banded in bronze and not gold, and then the ground vibrated again. This time Amos felt it too.

Elaphe went to inspect the closed-off passage and found that it wasn't a solid wall--there was a small gap between the wall and the ends of the passage. Wondering what this mean, they didn't have to wait very long. The ground rumbled again and the wall began moving, rotating open to reveal a passage further into the ruins, which the group took. The next room was mostly empty, though Shining Star heard a voice whispering I see you. No one else heard it and Amos couldn't see any spirits around, so after a moment they continued on.

The next room was an armory, with shields fallen on the floor and a few sword and mace heads as well as two suits of armor in excellent condition in two of the room's corners. As the Green Knight positioned himself near the armor, Shining Star and Elaphe examined the shields and found that, while the straps had long since rotted off, the metal was some sort of alloy neither of them were familiar with, causing Shining Star to wonder if this is what the stories meant when they said the trow "poisoned the soul of iron." They looked valuable, though, and Elaphe scooped up a few spearheads, causing the "armor" to animate and attack, as the players knew they would.

The battle was short and didn't go well for the automata. None of their attacks did any damage to the Green Knight, and while they had strong armor, they were outnumbered and faced with opponents who had enchanted weaponry. The real end of the battle came when Shining Star's player rolled five 10s while casting Chains of Searing Light and the undamaged automaton only rolled one success to resist, slapping it with 9 CP and instantly immobilizing it. The other automaton fell pretty quickly after that, and the group beheaded the immobilized automaton hoping that it would deactivated it. It did, and they figured they had enough loot, so they rigged up a sled using the shields and a bunch of rope to haul the almost-intact automaton out of the dungeon. As they were doing this, the ground vibrated, and this time, they could tell that they were moving.

There were no enemies waiting for them, though, so they waited for the rings to rotate back into position and left the trow ruins, slowly hauling the automaton through the hills all the way back to the nearest city. They arrived as dusk fell and we ended there.

Well. One of my goals for this was to reduce the legendary rocket tag lethality of Exalted and I certainly seem to have managed it. Five people all attacking one automaton and they took something like 25 ticks to kill it, and they beat the other automaton because of an extremely lucky spell from Shining Star. Heavy armor is now a good defense! That's progress! And heavy armor can be beaten by grappling, which, if nothing else, is historically accurate.

Amos's musket would have been the perfect weapon to do a bunch of damage to an automaton, but he missed his attack. That's partially my fault because I forgot to apply the defense penalty due to being surrounded to the automaton, with which he probably would have hit.

Now the party is planning to take the automaton and shields to the villages around Etemenanki and sell them there. Will they make it slowly dragging an automaton along the road through the forest? Will someone try to steal it? Will they get annoyed and disassemble it for scrap? Stay tuned!
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
I realized that the an important part of sword and sorcery is the rise and fall of civilizations, and while the Predecessor ruins all around the landscape do provide an evidence of society's fragility, and also means there's a hole in history between the time of the Predecessors and the time the game takes place. Exalted taught us the problem with having the ancient past, modern times, and basically nothing in between, so I want to fill that in a bit with some other groups. Here are three:


The Kurokyura have not always been the rulers of Makai. Long ago, the people of Makai suffered from the tyranny of the arremer, who ruled the lands near the Cloudtop Mountains from their aeries. All rebellions against them failed because their strongholds were nearly inaccessible. Only a trained group of assassins could get in, and the peasants of Makai did not have that training.

Until the Kurokyura came. A group of vampires saw their opportunity and offered their assistance to the disparate rebel groups and martial monastic orders that had been attempting to resist the arremer's rule, and they were accepted. Their powers allowed them to scale the mountains, to penetrate the fortresses in the form of mist or rat or by bewitching the guards, and to kill the arremer rulers in their beds. The arremer were never numerous, and as the rebellion killed more and more of the overlords and the peasants openly rose up, most of them fled across the Cloudtop Mountains to the unknown western lands. The Kurokyura then settled into the abandoned aeries, rebuilding them to suit their image and creating modern Makai.

What became of the arremer beyond the mountains is unknown, but small communities of arremer sometimes live on the Cloud Kingdoms in western Agarica, surviving by raiding isolated villages or war with the pidget-folk. Their ability to breathe fire and wings make them superbly suited to this sort of raiding, and many people in the west look at any larger Cloud Kingdoms nervously and breathe a sigh of relief when they pass without incident.


In the south of the Kingdom of Flowers and west along the shores of the Narrow Sea toward the Great Bridge are occasional ruins, battered by wind and wave. The ruins look almost like they were grown out of the ground, with fantastic curves and whorls dominating their lines and opalescent colors shining through the grime of ages from the strangely-unbroken masonwork.

These were the cities of the kani, who lived in Agarica before there was a Kingdom of Flowers. They were amphibious, and their cities were always built partially on land and partially underwater to serve their dual natures. They kept mostly to themselves, having little contact with any of the surface peoples, thought there are stories that they maintained embassies with some of the civilizations of the ocean depths, like the half-mythical zora. They would sometimes raid nearby communities for food, though alternating it with trading fish from the sea and the works of their mysterious sorcerers, without any rhyme or reason.

The legends of the Kingdom tell that when the House of Wisteria first raised its banner and declared itself the royal house of the Kingdom of Flowers, their armies marched south to the sea and engaged the kani. The war was short but brutal, and though the Kingdom's legends speak only of the kani's atrocities, the scars left in the ruins and the trinkets made of kani-shell kept by some local communities tell all of the stories that the Kingdom's official history does not. The kani were not all killed, but their cities were destroyed and they were driven into the sea. The Kingdom suffered from kani raids for decades after the initial war, but the retaliation gradually petered out and now few shore-bound communities keep more than a token defense force.


In central Agarica, there are many round hills with entrances leading into underground structures, often ringed with partial pillars that stand unsupported and open to the sky. Beneath the earth, these hills expand into larger underground dwellings, carved out of living stone and supported with more pillars. These are the abandoned domains of the trow.

The trow flourished in their underground cities, farming on the surface and trading metalwork and precious gems for the crafts they could not make themselves. Their fame in blacksmithing was reknowned throughout Agarica, and many adventurers on their way to Etemenanki bought trow-forged weapons before heading into the tower, hoping to better their odds against the dangers they could find there. The trow carved fabulous murals on the entrances of their cities and the pillars that ringed them to demonstrate their wealth.

Then, one day, they vanished. Caravans found the doors of their cities closed and no trow answered their call. When explorers penetrated their cities, they found empty caverns, half-forged blades, tables set as though for a meal, and no sign of bodies or of battle. Questioning the spirits of the underground revealed little--the spirits were strangely reluctant to talk about it, with the most memorable statement spoken by an ancient and powerful meguroko: "They poisoned the soul of iron."

The ancient powers that keep Predecessor ruins mostly intact are absent among the trow ruins, and many of their caverns have collapsed on themselves. But occasionally an explorer will find an enchanted weapon or artificia among them, when they haven't become the home of dangerous creatures.


dorchadas: (Default)

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