Friday, July 29, 2011

Alternate Rules: 0 Level Characters

So this low level play nonsense from the other week has been rattling around in my head and gave me an idea. This idea is only really useful in a situation where you want the characters to start off prior to being adventurer types. Like if you want to start them off as Tom Bucktooth with a pitchfork or some such and you want to kind of develop their background through play. 

Every character starts as something other than an adventurer, perhaps your Fighter began life as a dogawfully strong farmhand or the implacable and untiring blacksmith apprentice. Mayhap your Cleric started out as a clerk in a temple and your Wizard as an accountant. Anyway, even the mightiest of heroes and villains began play as something other than what they ended up us, they were all a 0 level character somewhere in their background. 

My thought was that the base classes of d20 Modern would work perfectly to represent 0 level characters. The classes are vague and unfocused enough that they don't have any iconic abilities like Fighter and Rogue or Cleric do, but they have enough ability to survive low level encounters without truly being as powerful as first level Pathfinder or 3.5 classes. The feats, talents, and initial skills they have access to can form the character's background and you can also turn classes like Fighter and Rogue into advanced classes accessible at like level three or so. 

This little idea doesn't really do or change anything other than delay higher level class abilities, however, I think it might be kind of neat to use in a situation where the players are townsfolk and their town comes under attack or some such and it wouldn't make sense for them to already be Fighters and Clerics and such. Also, I like d20 Modern and its class system. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Wild Lands

This is the flag of those tribes of The Wild Lands that have banded together in a loose alliance, each tribe retains their own flag, but also bear this flag to show themselves as allies to one another. The field of green represents The Wilds Lands themselves. The black triangles at the sides of the flag represent the inherent dangers of The Wilds Lands, the great beasts. The four white circles in the field of green represent the tribes of the Uncout and Greenskin Abraxens, small points of civilization and safety in the great expanse of the forest surrounded by the dangers of their homeland. The close proximity of the circles to one another represents the alliances of the tribes in the face of the dangers of their homeland. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Fell Peaks

This is the flag of The Fell Peaks. The black obelisk represents the black stone of the Necropolis, the origin of the Fell Human race. The field of red represents the blood shed during the journey across The Known World that the Fell Humans undertook to find a homeland of their own. The black lightning bolt represents the wild and destructive power of sorcery, the birthright of the Fell Human race. The two halves of the split obelisk represent the shared origin of the Fallen and Fell Human races and the different ideological  views on the use of sorcery that separated them into two nations. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Inquisitivity: Part 2

We gamed earlier this week. More information was found. Huzzah! The guys actually got lucky and drew a few memories from a series, so they kind of had a picture of what was going on at that point. It didn't illuminate much really, but they at least got a picture of the scene and know that at some point, they were in a cave with Nakmander's artifact. 

They pursued the Kalarel information that Krieg gave them, and found out about the Fell Human witch doctor Daun'mok and how he and Nakmander were attempting to create some form of Soulless. Xein discovered that Enchantment/Charm school spells can be used to manipulate the minds of people, which Pyrel could have told him, as Pyrel has the ability to ingest a creature's blood and gain a bonus on all Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Bluff checks against them as a supernatural Charm ability. 

A lot of information was found is what I am saying.

There weren't any real surprises during the scenario though, everything pretty much followed the path I had laid out, if a bit slower than I would have hoped. The final scene of the scenario was them contacting the bardic colleges and asking to do some violence related freelance work. Which means I have to work on a system for organization affiliations. I've seen them before, I just need to sketch them out for the bardic colleges. I've been meaning to do it for a while for organizations like the Organization, Steeltown, the Fremwightan, and so on, but I think their choice to contact the bardic colleges for freelance work, rather than information, is a good impetus to get cracking on that. I also need to come up with a series of Job of the Week type quests. I have some ideas, and these types of quests tend to come up with themselves fairly easy. 

However, the problem is that when the guys have a boss, they tend to just stop thinking. They go out and do what they're told, rather than thinking critically about that. For instance, Xein is a "good guy," or at least not a murderer, however he has agreed to begin doing freelance work for an organization built on assassination and espionage and violence in general. He wasn't tricked into it either by a sneaky bard, he sought the work contract out, along with the rest of the group. 

There were some problems during the scenario, for instance, Eric and Jeremy don't seem to understand that Fred is playing his character and not caving about it like he did last campaign when Derf suddenly began coming up with all the plans and leading the group. There were also some microphone/video issues, but Google+ seemed to remedy those quite well. 

Overall, I am pleased with how the scenario went. The guys got the information I wanted them to have, though they didn't really latch on to it the way I'd hoped. Eric believes even more fervently that they are clones, Jeremy even more fervently believes they are not. I am fascinated. 

On to the next one!

Edit After The Fact: I really like the way the Eastern Bardic College affiliation score/rewards worked out. Very pleased actually, it just needs a bit more tweaking and I'll show it to the guys. To be honest I am kind of irritated though. I spent a solid seven hours making a scenario Wednesday from start to finish, from scratch, and now Eric is kind of balking at working with the bards. If they decide not to, or continue to ignore the contract on our Facebook group, I will be a little irritated, as it will mean we probably won't be able to game in nine days like I'd planned. Oh well, shit happens I guess.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


This is the flag of Kusseth. The grey field represents the grim, utilitarian nature of the country's origins. Kusseth was and bleak and unforgiving land of labor camps where men and women were literally worked to death so that The New Empire could prosper. The twelve stars represent the original twelve labor camps that revolted against the oppression of The New Empire. The stars are a maroon color, a shade very similar to the soil of Kusseth when soaked with blood and represent the blood shed by those first freedom fighters to ensure that Kusseth became a place of freedom for all races and nationalities. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Fallen Empire of Man

This is the flag of The Fallen Empire of Man. The black fortress on the flag represents the Necropolis itself, while the rising black sun behind it represents the rising power of The Bleak Tyrant. The placement of the sun behind the fortress represents The Bleak Tyrant's support of the Fallen, it is his power that sustains their empire. The black rays of the sun represent The Bleak Tyrant's goal of spreading his plague of undeath all across the face of The Known World. The white spaces between the black rays are rays as well, representing the purity of sorcery bound and controlled by the will of The Fallen. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Timeline 101

So, I am working on a campaign book at the moment. I am basing the layout and content on Paizo's Inner Sea campaign setting guide thing. They have a pretty neat timeline in it that is pretty fantastically informative, so I am trying to expand upon my own timeline. I want to throw up a semi-complete version of my timeline here and also want to talk for a moment about a few things. 

The timeline is ten thousand years long. That is a long ass time. In our world, we move from the death of Jesus and metal weapons to the internet and cell phones that can use the internet in the span of two thousand years. Fred and I were discussing the industrial revolution of The Known World yesterday (which is like last week at this point). My logic for the extended timeline is twofold. 

Fantasy worlds always have that never ending faux-medieval setting where no one can ever fathom anything like the printing press or any other key technologies that advance the technology beyond steel weapons and masonry. I have replaced the never ending faux-medieva settingl with a never ending faux-Old West setting. Sort of. Basically, it amounts to, because everyone else does it.

The second reason is sorcery. Sorcery can prevent the need for a lot of things, even if it is dangerous and unreliable. Don't need cannons so much when you can launch fire from your fingertips. Don't need a telegraph or post system or even a written word when you can use psionics or sorcery to beam your thoughts to someone on the other side of the country. Now, wizards and psions represent a small percentage of the population (in most nations), so sorcery and psionics alone can't account for a slower technological advancement. However, I feel that these sorcerers and psions are detrimental to the advance of technology in a second way. In our world, the scientists and guys who make breakthroughs are the people that are intelligent and curious about things, they want to understand how things work and have ideas about how to figure that out. In a fantasy world, a lot of these curious and intelligent types would be putting themselves to work unraveling the mysteries of sorcery and psionics, rather than physics and masonry and metallurgy. So basically my second reason is, ta-da, a wizard did it. 

Anyway, the following is an updated timeline. It isn't complete because there are a few things Fred and I discussed that I'd like to really find a place for in it. The timeline is written from the standpoint of common knowledge, or knowledge you could find relatively easily in a classroom on history or a library. Fred had some concerns about it being too informative from those standpoints, as there are no truly widespread forms of commuication like the internet, and most races are at each other's throat. His thought was that the earlier sections should have more in common with myth and folklore than hard fact, it was a good point. However, several races of The Known World are immortal and were actually there several thousand years ago, and Kusseth is kind of a melting pot of The Known World and has members of all races and nations, so I feel that it isn't too unrealistic for an informative timeline like this to be accessible to most people. Who knows, it is what it is. 

-0 DK: The ancient kingdom of Kaleshmar is obliterated by a catastrophe of enormous proportions. Scholars say an arcane experiment gone awry is believed to be the cause. Complete chaos and destruction ensue and the only records of the time are legend and lore. 

-16 DK: An unnamed soldier of ancient Kaleshmar begins organizing refugees into large groups to survive the chaos of the aftermath of Kaleshmar. 

-51 DK: The black skinned giants of The Great Ravine begin building their black pyramids.

-1012 DK: The Uncout that will become the Niht clan raise a green backed moon banner and begin fighting the beasts of The Beast Lands as a large group for mutual protection. 

-2793 DK: The ancient empire of the Glenwighta meets that of Whurent and they clash in battle.

-3806 DK: The empire of Vyanthnem undergoes an ideological shift and the two kings, the Silver King and the Briar King, split their nation in two: the Vyanth loyal to the Silver King, and the Sereth loyal to the Briar King. 

-4120 DK: The leader of the Sereth, the Briar King, uses his sorcery to fill The Great Ravine with stone and dirt and sand, destroying the giants living there and raising his own kingdom in its place. 

-4506 DK: The people who were once of the kingdom of Kaleshmar drag themselves out of the dark ages of their civilization and begin to build and develop their society once more, outlawing magic. 

-5006 DK: From the far, far north come ships full of bloodthirsty humanoids led by a creature named Volung, they settle near the foothills of the ancient Dwenoren fortress of Whurent and carve for themselves a bloody kingdom hidden in the wilds. 

-5493 DK: The ruler of the Sereth disappears, and when he leaves, his lands begin to die and return to the sand and stone they once were. 

-6506 DK: A shipful of Abraxens becomes shipwrecked on the western shore of what will be called The Known World. They settle in what will become known as The Beast Lands and join together with the primitive Uncout tribes already living there. 

-8043 DK: Construction on a tunnel that crosses The Narrow Sea begins. 

-8306 DK: The Elduman armies that will one day become The Fallen Empire of Man leave the lands of the Old Empire journeying north and begin rebuilding the bizarre city that will one day be called the Necropolis.

-8375 DK: A clan of barbarians from the wild untamed land known as The Beast Lands cross The Great River and migrate to the mainland. These Uncout are somewhat more civilized than those they leave behind. 

-8396 DK: Eldumans cursed with the sorcerous taint that infected them in the bowels of the Necropolis migrate east.

-8397 DK: Fell Humans begin raising their empire, The Fell Peaks and encounter the Glenwighta race.

-8399 DK: The Fell Humans decide that it is not enough to possess only the surface of The Fell Peaks, and begin waging war on the Glenwighta empire. 

-8405 DK: The Fell Empire successfully subjugates the Glenwighta race using the sorcerous power of their blood to bend the minds of the Glenwighta. They cap this conquest by destroying every written record of the Glenwighta empire, including its very name. 

-8419 DK: The Old Empire sends a cavalry force to investigate the unexplored lands north of their kingdom. Most meet with The Fallen Empire of Man, but some split off and form a clan of nomads inhabiting The Plains of Dust.

-8423 DK: After four years of settlement building by the cavalry force a large caravan of settlers leaves The Old Empire and settles just outside the gate town of the now tamed lands. The settlers call these lands The New Empire. 

-8429 DK: Warriors from The Plains of Dust encounter Dwenoren for the first time and capture them, so they can show them to emissaries from The New Empire. 

-8474 DK: In an effort to get more out of the dregs of their society The New Empire creates prison camps near the Dwenoren mountain ranges. These camps are actually forced labor camps and the prisoners are worked to death in the mines and lumber camps. 

-8499 DK: Officers of The Old Empire's navy desert and found Haven in the far north.

-8603 DK: A massive and incredibly successful revolt occurs in the Kusseth prison camp that quickly spreads to other camps.

-8609 DK: Despite six years of attempts The New Empire fails to put down the mass revolts in the prison camps and the former prisoners declare themselves the free nation of Kusseth.

-9003 DK: Whole towns in every nation are suddenly leveled leaving only scorched earth behind. Caravans never reach their destinations while platoons of border guards and armies mysteriously go missing. A long line of mysterious and bizarre events occurs, with no explanation. Every nation suffers, but no one claims responsibility. Each nation assumes another is to blame and a whole continent goes to war. Except for the Old Empire, who seal the gate to their lands and cut off all communications with the Known World. All Old Empire diplomats disappear as well. 

-9130 DK: Kusseth miners from the Beltan mining camp dig deep and discover an ore that will one day be called beltanizine. Dwenoren commandos raid the town and slay all the miners, stealing the beltanizine. Later it is discovered that beltanizine is made up of fragments of lost Kaleshmar that are saturated with the arcane energies of the catastrophe that destroyed that land.

-9206 DK: Cenn's Reavers, a mercenary band in the employ of Kusseth, take the Fell Peaks capital city and alter the Fell Peaks/Kusseth border permanently for the first time in the war.

-9209 DK: Dwenoren smiths begin to develop rudimentary forms of gunpowder and gunsmithing techniques. Over the next five hundred years they refine their art and slowly the knowledge of firearms is distributed throughout the world. 

-9606 DK: Pale creatures from the sea begin seasonal assault on the coastal tribes of The Beast Lands.

-9872 DK: A waning population leads artificers in the Fallen Empire of Man to begin experimenting with a form of man-sized machine called the Soulless. In coming years these sentient constructs will become the main staple of Fallen armies. 

-9906 DK: Miners turned soldiers of Kusseth begin construction of a great mass of trenches and tunnels they believe will let them into the dwenoren stronghold of Whurent. The Dwenoren dig their own trenches and tunnels and The Great Trench becomes one of the most blood-soaked fronts of the war. 

-9985 DK: What some singers and poets dub as The Age of the Meatgrinder ends. War drags to a standstill because there aren't enough people left to maintain a front, let alone two or three at a time. 

-9990 DK: A slave labyrinth of Glenwighta is able to successfully free themselves from their masters with the aid of Hellian rebels.

-9995 DK: leaders of the Witch Hunters in The New Empire seize power and take control of the empire, imprisoning King Rudolph II and his council of advisors. 

-9995 DK: The last of the giants leave the mountains of Whurent, finally giving up their claim to their ancient homeland and sailing north in search of a more hospitable home. 

-9995 DK: Wandering adventurer Reginald E.C. Walthuler meets with Volung of Volungshemle to purchase the services of the latter's warriors as protection for Walthuler's undisclosed upcoming venture. 

-9995 DK: Commander Kothos of Mesl launches an expedition into Whurent through a previously undiscovered bolthole in the nearby mountains and after a week of bloody fighting, is able to set up a relatively permanent underground outpost.

-9995 DK (Fourthmonth): The Kusseth city of Tolon is almost obliterated by the curious course of meteors from the sky.

-9996 DK (Thirdmonth): Steeltown is secretly built in one of the mines of The Fallen Empire of Man and a year later, the Rankethlek enter into full rebellion against The Fallen Empire of Man. 

-9996 DK (Fourthmonth): Cenn the Reaver is murdered by sellswords in the streets of Hell, and the city riots in celebration.

-9996 DK (Fourthmonth): The rebel Nakmander and the upper echelons of his organization make a terrorist attack against Kusseth City itself and so weakens the country that he is able to wrest control of Hell back from Kusseth and can finally restore the name Meroteth to the city. 

-9996 DK (Seventhmonth): The Fallen Empire brings their most potent sorceries to bear against the rebellious city of Steeltown, and are dumfounded when they have no effect on the fortress city. They then decide to wage more conventional war against the Rankethlek with their own Soulless and hordes of undead, with little or no effect on the cannon studded and wolf-iron armored walls of the city. 

-9998 DK: Laram, Son of Volung, and all of Cenn's Reavers that were Children of Volung return to Volungshemle and refuse to serve any other king but the father of their race. 

-10000 DK: Nakmander, the Sorcerer Magistrate of Meroteth disappears from his city.

-10002 DK: Volung and his children cease selling their services as mercenaries and begin returning to Volungshemle en masse.

-10004 DK (Ninthmonth): Nakmander returns suddenly to prominence in Meroteth and erects a strange sorcerous artifact atop the and uses it to lay waste to armies that come against his city. 

-10005 DK (Firstmonth): Following his return to Meroteth, Nakmander flies north to Whurent on a secretive mission.

-10006 DK: (Firstmonth) Nakmander flies south at the head of a fleet of zeppelins, searching for a new land.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


This is the flag of Haven. The skull and crossbones have a very simple motif: death. The pirate nation of Haven has only two desires from ships that they come for, surrender or death. The skull and crossbones are a warning of what is coming across the waves for ships. The third eye socket on the skull's forehead represents the fact that most pirate captains of Haven are Eldumans. They are not mere thugs and brigands, these are ancient sea captains that can read minds and bend lesser creatures to their will, and they are not to be trifled with. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

City-State of Meroteth

This is the flag of the City-State of Meroteth. The white of the obelisk represents Nakmander's belief in the purity of the Fell Human race. The lightning bolts arcing from the top of the obelisk represent both the mighty power of sorcery, and the unstoppable destructive power of Nakmander's artifact. The obelisk itself represents Meroteth's contempt for and belief in their superiority over the Fell Peaks by being a whole obelisk, while the Fell Peaks flag has one split in two. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Alternate Rules: Achievements

A long time ago, I posted about an idea for Pathfinder achievements and some feats that went along with them. I am tracking what my players do as far as damage and skill use and so on, but I still haven't come up with any feats with requirements for X amount of skill checks or whatever. Oh well, some ideas sound good but never take. Like achievement feats, this post might go that way as well, but I'm not too concerned about it.

....maybe achievements might be more appropriate in a Fourthcore style game....hmmm.

Anyway, this post is kind of about achievements. I've spoken before about how I am irritated about some of my players and their obsessive need to be high level for the sake of being high level, and having no purpose for having those high levels. I've spoken before about a blog called The Alexandrian and his musings on the idea that Aragorn  is not 20th level and in fact didn't do a single thing in the movies that warranted being above 5th level. This post is going to kind of touch on both of those previous topics.

My beef with this level gain obsession situation is kind of humorous, because at the end of the day, I am the guy that awards the levels and it is up to me to determine how fast they advance. Heh.

Last campaign, my players ended up at 15th level. They were badass superheroes among men, skilled enough to lead armies, and powerful enough to alter the very reality of the world through their various supernatural abilities. However, they were essentially acting as low level mooks. They were Nakmander's cronies, his button men. They were not treated, and certainly did not act, as if they were some elite hit squad he sent out when matters were most dire and he needed the earth scorched. They essentially acted like Kirk's red shirts the entire campaign, stumbling around getting blown up and shot and poisoned and so on. They never died, because they were superhuman. Regardless of their status as unkillable heroes, they acted like 0-level red shirt mooks, they didn't really plan anything and really just followed the orders of whoever was talking to them at the time.

Why did they need to be 15th level if they were just going to be mooks or thugs or button men? The inevitable answer is, because high level is cool and we want to be cool and do cool stuff! In my mind, that is lame, because they didn't do cool stuff. They just sat there for fifteen levels and waited for Nakmander to tell them what to do. There was no drive or ambition in them, other than Xein's sword and John's gun getting jury rigged into being  bigger and better. Kethranmeer needed to be high level, because he was founding a nation and freeing a race from bondage. He could not have fought off Black Souled Monks of the Necropolis as a 5th level Fighter. There was a clear and present need for him to be more powerful than he was back in the Beltan mines. When Eric thought up Xein building a tavern and an information network, that got interesting, that was worthy of higher levels

Anyway, the concept I am toying with is using the story to unlock higher tiers of play. In 4th Edition, levels one though ten are the heroic tier. You are getting your feet wet and figuring out how things work, trying to stay alive and make some money while doing so. Levels eleven through twenty are paragon tier, your actions are changing the borders of nations and bringing down despots and so on. Levels twenty-one thought thirty are where you are literal gods among men. Your actions now reshape the planes and so on.

I wouldn't want to follow that exact progression scheme, but something similar. I think I would call my heroic tier levels one through six or eight, or something. This is the basic level, you are trying to figure out your class, how your character plays and if you like that playstyle, and also how my wonky rules muck everything up. This is also the period where we figure out if your character has any survivability to him.

If we go back to earlier editions of the game, ninth level is kind of a big deal level, it is the level where you attract followers and gain the option of going out into the wilderness to build a stronghold. Xein building Tesla's Boil, or a quest line that resulted in D'alton reclaiming the mansion, rather than just being handed the deed by Nakmander (which is my fault, I should have turned that into a quest line), would be a similar thing. Anyway, the stronghold kind of represents that you are a big deal and are well known in your area. It represents the fact that you have more on your mind than where you are going to get your next meal or find your next "kill X brigands" quest. Calling men to your banner and carving a chunk out of the wilderness is kind of a big deal, it takes effort and work and determination, and people, friends and foes, take notice. It is something a 0-level mook or red shirt would never think to do. This would kind of be the gateway between mook-hood and person of interest-hood. 

So getting a stronghold would be the key to accessing a higher level of play. This wouldn't be simply buying an apartment or killing a farmer and taking over his farm, though depending on how much work they put into that, I guess it could. What happens if they decide to stick their feet in the mud and don't want to go to the effort of creating a stronghold? Does advancement stop? Do you end the game? No. The game is a game and it is a social contract that says we should all be able to have fun. If they have fun with high level play, the GM has a responsibility to allow them to have fun. So yeah, they should be allowed to level.

There are other ways of leveling though. If it is the high level abilities that they want, you can deny them access to higher end gear, or reduce the amount of treasure they find. This sounds dickish, I know, but it just depends on how you implement it. If they rob a wealthy business man, yeah they should find cash, but probably not a sorcerous artifact. If they fight a pack of huge wolves in The Beast Lands, they can probably sell the hides, but they won't find cash, and the hides are only going to be really valuable if the guys properly skin the wolves and tan the hides and such.

I guess this is me trying to force my style of play on my players, and perhaps that is offensive to them, but it is my game and my campaign world and I have bent and broken rules for them to aid their fun. Once in a while, they should bend for me. Also, I would never ever cap their levels or do something that they really thought made the game not fun for them. We're all friends and I want them to have fun. If they don't want strongholds or to create nations or explore the world, that is fine. However, I would slow their progression by using the slow columns in the experience and wealth tables. I've told them multiple times, the more goals they have, the more quests and side quests I can throw out there for them to complete and gain experience points from and I really think the game is about them and the story of their characters, and their goals should drive the campaign. I want them to have goals, so I can reward them for completing them.

This is just kind of a kernel of an idea, and I don't know that my players would even care for this concept. I think it does kind of inch towards railroading. But I just can't understand why they need to be higher than level three, if all they want to do is run around killing street gangs. If Eric had come up with a plan to create his information network and had actually determined a purpose for it, I could definitely milk that for a few scenarios and that would definitely be worthy of higher levels, as the leader of such an organization would need to be a leader of men and one skilled in many different areas of expertise. 

I guess I think on it all a bit more and see what crops up. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The New Empire

This is the flag of The New Empire. The sword represents their unrelenting willingness to combat sorcery and mutants that attempt to weaken their homeland and destroy their race. The sickle represents the common man of The New Empire, the farmer attempting to scrape some manner of sustenance from the less than ideal soil of the Empire, but more often being forced to turn his simple farm implements to the task of bloodshed when monstrous creatures from the north wander into The New Empire. The red represents the blood that has been and will continue to be shed in pursuit of the ideals of freedom from the foul powers of sorcery and the ruin it bring. The white represents the purity of psionics and the Elduman race. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


So many things are happening!!1! OMG!!1!

Monday, July 4, 2011


Zandu is my Human Gunslinger from Eric's campaign, the Carrion Crown adventure path from Paizo. I really like  the class. I am a fan of westerns and alternate fantasy settings that don't fit the whole never ending faux-medieval time period setting that seems mandatory for a fantasy RPG to have longevity. I believe Blackmoor had firearms though and the 2nd Edition AD&D PHB had arquebus on the equipment list. I have a lot of affection for the Deadlands game/setting because my love of westerns and fantasy and for those same reasons, the Gunslinger is a pretty cool alternate to Fighter for me. 

Anyway, I played Zandu in a fashion that I would consider brash and straight forward and honest. I have listed his alignment as Chaotic Good and I feel that is appropriate. Eric kind of called me Derf, but I don't think he understands the character.

Zandu is a Varisian, he is swarthy and has dark hair and eyes. His facial hair is scraggly at best, and his mustache could be described as a creeper's. He has a multicolored and embroidered scarf wrapped around his head, thin enough that it is more like a doo-rag or bandana than a turban. This is his kapenia, a Varisian tradition of plotting an entire family tree on a scarf.

Anyway, he is bold and brash and honest. He has no ranks in Intimidate, Bluff, or Diplomacy and I have played him as such. The first part of the scenario involved the party carrying professor Lorrimor's casket to his grave where he was to be laid to rest. Professor Lorrimor was Zandu's friend and Zandu had saved his life more than once, and Professor Lorrimor had returned the favor. When inbred hicks decided that the professor was a necromancer and decided to desecrate his funeral and waylay the procession, there was only one response available to Zandu: stop them. His pistol is literally chained to his hand, and never far from being drawn, so he produced and brandished it and then warned the hicks that if they attacked, he would kill them. Then delayed till after they went in the initiative order.

Eric asked for an Intimidate check, which I didn't give, I wasn't trying to make Zandu intimidate them, I was just informing the hicks of cause and effects. Anyway, they attacked, I tried to kill them, then the plot took precedence and apparently bullets only wound in Golarion. Anyway, the logic behind the attempted murder of hicks, is thus: Lorrimor was a friend that had died, it was supposed to be a quiet and reserved burial honoring the death of a friend that spent much time doing good in the world. The hicks blundering in like inbred buffoons was offensive and sacrilegious to the proceedings.

Zandu isn't Lawful, and isn't concerned with murder being illegal and certainly doesn't care about the laws of some inbred hick town. He isn't Neutral Good so he isn't terribly concerned with the greater good or anything like that. He is Chaotic Good, he tries to be a good guy, in his own way. Warning the hicks of the consequences of their intent to defile his trusted friend's corpse was his way of being good. Killing them outright with no warning would have been an evil act in Zandu's mind.

I'm genuinely annoyed that all of a sudden a priest came out of nowhere and magicked the dead hicks back to life. Zandu wanted them dead for interrupting Professor Lorrimor's funeral procession, and Eric took that from him. DnD is utterly boring and uninteresting if you cannot make meaningful choices in the game to determine your characters actions. Obviously, murdering hicks would have cost us trust in the community, fuck if Zandu cares about the backwater community of Ustalav. 

Anyway, a little bit prior to play I was filling in some blank spots on my character sheet and noticed that deity was empty. There is a god I really like in Golarion, Cayden Cailean. He started life as a sellsword and drunkard, a Good one, but nonethless a drunkard and sellsword. Apparently, he got drunk one night and during his revelry he was dared to touch the Starstone and drunkenly stumbled through a series of trials that resulted in him attaining godhood. As a god, he acted as he was as a mortal, a drunken warrior fighting for the cause of good. 

So, when I filled in deity, I put Cayden Cailean. I kind of felt that Cayden was a good choice for Gunslingers. They are supposed to bold and brash and perform deeds of daring do, and that is pretty much Cayden's wheelhouse. Right before I printed out the character sheet, I purchased a gallon jug of ale and decided that Zandu would spill it on fallen foes as an offering to Cayden Cailean. 

This character is ending up more devout than I ever intended, and I guess I am considering running a Gunslinger/Cleric. I have no intention of playing him as like a healer Cleric, more like a wrath of the god(s) Cleric. Jeremy is kind of the healer of the group, what with the access to the healing spells and whatnot, and I have no intention of stealing that from him, and I don't want to. I think I just want to explore this aspect of Zandu that I haven't fully thought about until now. We'll see, I don't necessarily need levels in a divine class to play a character as devout, it would certainly be impressive if his bullets were guided by the hand of his god though. 

Eric has said that if we are displeased with our class or abilities scores, or anything really, we can reroll or pick a new class or change whatever has displeased us. So I guess any choice we make now isn't going to cripple for the rest of the adventure and we'll be able to keep tweaking till we have something we like. . For now I am happy with my Gunslinger, and we'll see how far I take the whole divinity thing. Eventually, when Ultimate Combat comes out, there is going to be a Gunmage archetype, and that sounds delicious, so we'll see how I feel then. 

Friday, July 1, 2011


He sagged against the damp stone wall, breathing heavily and reloading his revolver from the spare ammo he kept in his duster. He'd found the sword among the Niht clan, as Doc had said he would. He holstered the revolver, a KMT model, and a well used weapon. He withdrew a thick glass vial from another deep pocket and shook it a bit, grimacing. It was cloudy and looked the color of pus.

He'd watched Doc brew the sorcerous concoction, he'd watched the man boil the grey flesh off of a six fingered hand and grind up the weird multi-jointed bones of the dead Vyanth. He'd mixed it with other, most likely fouler, things, but watching the flesh melt and run off the bones had stuck with him more than the the powders and plants Doc had mixed into the strange brew.

He sighed, he'd found the sword yes, but he had no idea if he'd make it back to Doc to tell him. Something was wrong with the Niht. Something dark and unnatural had taken hold of them. They painted their skin and hair black, and powdered their faces white, like skulls. Some kind of strange war paint they'd never used before. 

He heard them then, the Niht warriors, shuffling along barefoot in the damp cave. They knew he had nowhere to go, and were patiently waiting for him to take the first move. The Niht had hidden the sword in a sort of shrine in the bottom of the cave complex, and had heaped treasures and trophies from battle around it, as if they worshiped the black blade. He had gotten in easily enough, now it seemed he would be fighting his way back out.

Rumor had said the blade was here, other tribes had confirmed it, but Doc needed proof, he needed one of his agents to see it before he was willing to act against the Niht, the tribe of his birth. Well, the damn blade was here, the difficulty now lay in finding his way out of the caves and back into the dim light of the day in The Beast Lands, and perhaps making it back to Doc.

His brain quietly worked on the mystery of the blade while he took turns almost at random, attempting to generally head upwards and in a more or less northerly direction. The blade had been like ice, even through his leather glove. That had cost him, he had touched it with his gun hand and his numb fingers had only killed two of his pursuers when they'd found him in the room and he'd emptied his chambers into the horde of them.

Doc thought the blade was some sort of talisman, an item of sorcerous power related to the shadow monsters. It was certainly cold enough, and black enough, and sorcerous enough. Being near it had filled him with a cold ache and put the hairs on the back of his neck standing straight up. When he touched it, he could feel the wrongness of it in his bones, it set his teeth vibrating in his mouth and turned his legs to rubber, but he'd had to confirm it for Doc. Doc said it was necessary, any tinsmith sorcerer could paint a spell-wrought blade shiny black and leave it in some cave for primitives to oggle, but the one he sought was distinctive, and a touch had confirmed it.

Something had been luring the shadow monsters to The Beast Lands decades before Nakmander Zauber'konig had ever left and returned from the poisonous shores of Fresgulen with his mysterious weapon. Doc and the Organization, believed it was the sword. The sword had been in The Beast Lands for a long time, longer than Doc and the Organization had been around. Doc had said he'd grown up hearing legends and stories about the blade from his grandfather and the old Cenn of the Niht. The stories weren't as old as the ones about The Watcher In The Trees, but they were old enough.

They spoke of a blade just a bit too huge and heavy to be wielded in one hand, forged all one piece of black material, like obsidian, but smooth as if forged and not knapped. A blade so keen it could cut hair and chop down a tree with equal ease. The cold was deadly, a chill so numbing that the only cure was going to battle in the thick hides of a great ursine, even then it still numbed the fingers and left frostbit flesh around every wound it dealt. Sometimes, if the weapon dealt enough death, silver points of light glimmered within the blade, like stars coming out at night.

Doc's foul concoction was still in his hand as he rounded the corner of a tunnel and twenty Niht warriors leapt out at him like shadows hungry for his blood.

"By Hell's black walls," he swore as he downed the foul concoction.

Doc had said it was different from his normal formula, the ground up Vyanth bones would alter its composition, make him quicker and faster, rather than beastly like what Doc became. The change was quick and painful. Muscle and fat withered instantly, making him gaunt and wasted looking while his skin thickened, like a callous over his whole body. His fingers clenched and twitched and his knuckles popped like small caliber rounds fired from a derringer, but they flowed over the gun and his ammo like liquid.

The shots were thunder in the cave, and he was leaping around like a frog. His duster spinning and flapping as he dodged spears and crude stone clubs. The Niht howled their war cries, deafening him just as much as the thunder of his gun. Whether it was the thunder of his hammer falling or the bloodthirsty cries of his foes, more Niht came for his blood.

He bled from a hundred narrowly avoided deathblows, chips of stone and splinters of wood studded his duster and had caught in his flesh. The concoction fueled him with its alchemy, but he was never going to be able to kill enough of them to free himself from this tomb. They'd lay his skull at the foot of the black sword's pedestal.

There was nothing for it, he let his trusty revolver from his days as a Brasscoat fall to the floor and he drew the Cinderswitch.  It was all brass, the stylized dragon mouth that was the barrel, the ornate edges on the rounded sides of the black glass of the "chamber," even the trigger was steel embellished with shiny brass tracery. Three chains depended from the but of the weapon, each one holding a brass talisman, a star, a triangle, and a simple circle.

He called to his blood, boiling within his veins and seething to be released, his power came and he cast it out into the Cinderswitch's "chambers," biting his lip and snarling in frustration as his sorcery howled within him, kicking and bucking and trying to burn his brain out rather be bound by the will of a man. It relented, like an unruly hound that could knew it could only try its master's patience for so long, and he pulled the trigger.

The thunder did not come. The "chamber" did not turn. No hammer fell, for the weapon had none. The eyes on the dragon glowed red like embers and smoke swirled out of its nostrils. Then, and only then, was there noise. And light. And fire. The black rock of the weapon's "chamber" took his sorcery from him and fed the Niht fire and death from the dragon's mouth and each time he pulled the fake trigger fire scoured the cave wall, searing meat and flesh to bone and giving him time to breathe.

He'd never understood why the Cinderswitch weapons always had dragon's mouths for barrels. He'd never heard of any fire breathing dragons, just the huge brown and green beasts that spat acid, though technically acid did burn. Regardless, the weapons dealt death well enough, he gave a mental shrug and kept pulling the trigger as fast as his enhanced reflexes would let him.

He'd burned two dozen Nith down to melted stubs of black bones and runny flesh by the time more warriors of the clan showed up. It was hot in the cave now and cloudy with cinders and ash, and the Niht kept coming and he was backing up instead of forging ahead. The Cinderswitch kept the Niht from closing with him, but it didn't stop their flung spears and bows. The potion's effects were still strong within him allowing him to duck and dodge and aim quicker than any foe now seeking his blood. Despite his worries and questions, Doc had only been willing to say that it would last long enough. 

There was a thunderous crash, not from his guns or the howling warriors backing him down into the cave, but from above. The walls of the cave shook and rumbled and their were cries of pain and fear from above. There was the sound of stone breaking, the roars of a mad beast, and the angry chugging and buzzing that were iconic to a weapon he knew well, he understood now why Doc had said that the effects of the alchemical concoction would last long enough.

It was then that Savage Doc Managan strode into battle against the clan that he once called home and family. Doc was gripped fiercely by the full effects of his specialized elixir. Huge and monstrous, nine feet tall with skin thicker and darker than that of a Child of Volung. His limbs were tree trunks and his torso had the girth and solidity of a mountain. His face was a twisted parody of Uncout features, thick yellow teeth and bulging red eyes, lines of drool and spittle running down his chin as he bellowed angrily. 

The noise was deafening now, for on Doc's back was a coal burning engine that powered a great buzzing weapon clenched in his massive fist. The blade was slick with oil and blood and jerked wildly as four lines of motorized wolf-iron teeth slid up and down along the edge of the blade, the hilt of the weapon was clotted with blood and tissue and the fragments of broken weapons. 

Savage Doc Managan roared and swung the massive weapon in a deadly arc, splitting torsos and tearing off limbs with the chugging and buzzing blade. In his other hand he tossed a large grenade into the air with a yellow starburst pattern painted onto the side. As Doc tossed the grenade, he let off one shot with the Cinderswitch and then hid his eyes behind a flap of his duster as it exploded above Doc's head and erupted into a piercing light that confused and blinded the Niht around them.  It took moments to finish off the rest of the Niht warriors.

Doc was growling and twitching when he approached him, "I thought you weren't willing to act against your kind until you had confirmation."

Doc grunted through tusk-like teeth, "Is it here?"

He nodded. 

"Then I have my confirmation."

"Are we taking it back then, or destroying it, or what?"

Doc grunted and grimaced, his concoction flooded his body with powerful chemicals that made him tough and strong and nigh unstoppable, but they often left his brilliant mind dulled and sometimes hard to focus.

Doc gestured with his now quiet blade, "I have no need of a weapon, will you put down your guns to wield it?"

He shook his head, "Why did I risk my life to find it then?"

The muscles in Doc's bull-like neck flexed and strained but Doc spoke, "Because, I seek to connect the shadow monsters to the Niht. We know the blade is here for certain now, now we observe the shadow monsters and where they roam in relation to the blade's location. If the blade is the epicenter of their hunts through The Beast Lands, then we know the monstrous creatures are connected to the legends of the black blade and the Organization can proceed from there."

"Proceed where?"

Doc smiled and turned to go, "Where the Organization goes and what we do with the black blade will depend upon what Nakmander Zauber'konig decides to do when he returns from his adventures south of The Known World. If he continues to confine his mad and unrestricted use of sorcery to Meroteth, we will leave him be and turn our hands to other tasks. If he seeks to spread his influence across the continent, we will stop him."

He nodded and said, "Fair enough then." and followed the now slowly shrinking Savage Doc Managan out, reclaiming his trusty KMT revolver as he did so.