Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Breaking Down The Psychogenic Fugue Arc: Crazy Train

We all know Derf, that lovable bat shit crazy killer from Hekinoe. Once a witch hunter, but that didn't work out when his sorcery manifested by teleporting him to the Necropolis and scarring his face during a duel. From there, things went downhill for Derf. He got to kill a lot of people and lead an adventuring party, but he stopped taking baths or washing his scars, so he just got ickier and ickier as time progressed. One thing no one, not even Derf himself realized, is that not only did his mind break and his ability to teleport manifest, he became unstuck in time and space. Not only did his mind fragment, it literally left his skull and the time period.

Derf's abilities and the vagaries of sorcery in general broke apart his mind piece by piece, facet by facet, and flung the pieces far and wide across time and space. Aspects of Derf, in addition to the herd of clones that were made of crazy sociopath Derf, litter the world. Basically any time you read of a red-eyed Elduman in my literature I am referring to good old Derf, or at least one of them.

Just a few things that hop into my mind while thinking about this, a red eyed Elduman restarted Elduman society after the fall of Kaleshmar. Kelik and Krin channel their powers through the red eyed skeleton of their father to stabilize sorcery in Ieanagatniv. I think those are the only two overt references to aspects of Derf, but I assure you there are more.

Each of these aspects is a two dimensional version of Derf. Derf Prime, as we will call him, is a caricature of a person. Homicidal and sociopathic beyond all reasonable belief. Each facet of his personality is taken to its extreme. The honorable one doesn't just adhere to a code, he adheres to a merciless, iron fisted, code unaffected by mercy or mitigating circumstances and such. 

Basically Derf is the Eternal Champion of Hekinoe. If you are unfamiliar, there is this dude called Michael Moorcock. He is well knownish for writing stories of Elric. Moorcock writes this pretty good sword and sorcery (and also sci-fi) novels. I am a big fan. All of his heroes, Elric, Erekose, Corum, Hawkwind, and so on and so forth, are aspects of the same Eternal Champion that exist in the multiverse. Like many things in Hekinoe, I ganked the Derf idea from somewhere else. 

So, in conclusion, Derf is everywhere and everywhen. Any questions?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Breaking Down The Psychogenic Fugue Arc: Shadow Zone

Shadows feature prominently in this campaign, from the shadow monsters to D'alton's silent, lurking, gunslinging shadow. that is just two things. The whole point of these blog articles or whatever you want to call them is to explain what would have happened in the campaign. I still have secrets about the world, like I haven't explained Gorelon or the Nel or Keroen Skathos or anything like that, but I have explained A'lst and the clones and whatnot. Anyway, shadows. 

So we have these big black semi-transparent semi-two dimensional twelve foot tall shadow things that exude this awful numbing chill and drain energy from stuff. They are the Vacusu, they are the fifth Elder Race, the youngest, and their sole purpose in existing is to devour everything. At one point they lingered at the far distant reaches of the universe, and to a certain extent they still do, they kind of keep it from extending beyond its ability to sustain itself and eat the distant remnants for sustenance. 

The biology and reproduction of the Elder Races is kind of bananas. I wish I could explain, but that reveals secrets. The Vacusu devour life and energy and their life cycle is tied to that devouring. Long story short, Vacusu reproduce by hollowing out planets and laying eggs in the molten core of the planet, the eggs absorb the energy of the core and hatch, eventually, it takes a while. When they hatch, the planet kind of cracks in two and turns to space dust as the eggs have finally completely consumed the core of the planet, which is never a good thing.

As the eggs absorb energy and life, they tend to hollow the planet out and cause the lines of reality to blur and the deep interior of the planet kind of becomes a very cold and weird place. One of the reasons the underground areas of The Known World are so chilly is because the core of the planet has nearly been consumed by the Vacusu and their eggs. Luckily enough, a Conteog (A'lst), a Saevoi, a Lacerat, and an Everseon have decided that they like Hekinoe (for a very specific mysterious reason that would likely never ever get explained) and have misplaced the eggs across the planet in an attempt to forestall the final stages of this hatching process. The shadow monsters, in between bouts of hunger where they decide to slurp at Nakmander's artifact, are hunting for these eggs, which is part of why they have become so visible in the past five or so years. 

So there is this door in Derf's old room in the Braun family mansion. A very very cold door that the guys were very hesitant to investigate when they first woke up. I assume they have forgotten completely about it at this point. This door was created by Derf as a means of quick travel to The New Empire, it leads through a very dark place that eats life. When D'alton shadow jumps around, he flits in and out through the warmer shallower sections of this place. This place is the bizarre void created by the devouring nature of the Vacusu eggs. The void still exists within Hekinoe, Hell, if you dig deep enough into Hekinoe you will literally fall into the void. But that is deep deep, like deeper than the dark places where the Dwenoren first began gnawing on rocks to build their empire. 

This empty void is so cold and alien to the minds of mortal creatures that they cannot truly process it. I imagine Derf found it cozy when he wandered through it though. So, the human(oid) mind being what it is, they fill in the details. The place ends up full of winding passages and staircases and massive monoliths and dark and winding architecture and it is never the same to any two people, or even to the same person. You can't map it or store things there, the whole place exists beyond the comforting normalcy of reality. Time and space are relative terms, so D'alton may spend a week in there to cross sixty feet with his shadow jumping, but he blinks right in and out when he does so in the real world. 

Fundamentally, this boils down to this place being the Plane of Shadow of my universe. Any questions?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Breaking Down The Psychogenic Fugue Arc: Kashmir

The secret elders of the gentle race. That is the line that ties this post to the song in the title, just a note. That line inspired me a long time ago to create the "gods" (read: super powerful aliens) of my universe. The Elder Races: the Conteog, Everseon, Lacerat, Saevoi, and Vacusu.

So A'lst would have had this like white shadow kind of part of him in the second scenario of The Bottom of the World arc. This is because A'lst is a Conteog and to use his abilities, he has to let a little bit more of himself out of the can than he normally does. Whoa. Anyway. A'lst doesn't resemble any of the races of The Known World because he isn't a member of any of them. He is a shapechanging alien called a Conteog. The Conteog are the second of the Elder Races, the first being the Saevoi, perhaps I'll talk about them in another post.

The Conteog are creatures of balance, call them Lawful Neutral as a race I guess. They are the balancers of the universe, the accountants that form order and purpose from the random chaos and burning starstuff of the cosmos. The Conteog instinctively understand the laws that keep the cosmos spinning around and expanding and whatnot, and like all of the Elder Races, they can manipulate them. Matter and the laws of physics are mutable to them. 

A'lst has been around for a long ass time, he saw the fall of Kaleshmar. So A'lst has been around a long time, what is his game though? He is an alien from a super advanced civilization basically slumming in Hekinoe playing around with electricity. Why? Mainly to oppose The Bleak Tyrant. It is why he took Kethranmeer under his wing and helped create the Rankethlek. He has great affection for Kethranmeer's legacy, he wouldn't have absconded with a Cosmic Engine to bring him back to life (kind of) if he didn't. However, he seeks to deny The Bleak Tyrant access to the Soulless through the Rankethlek and their society. 

So A'lst is an alien and his real name is Prase Me'kal. I'm not sure what more to say. The guys have always wondered what race he is and have thought he was some kind of precursor to the Glenwighta. Surpise! Alien. Any questions?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Breaking Down The Psychogenic Fugue Arc: What Is And What Should Never Be

So, The Bottom of the World was supposed to be this interesting three part arc before the players headed back north (perhaps stopping in The South to confront Nakmander and his clone army). I've posted about the first part and you were either there or read about what went down, so I'll skip that part.

The finale of the most recent scenario saw the group in an armed encampment at the base of a black pyramid. They were to accompany A'lst into the pyramid in search of some power source that could be used to help defend Steeltown. To pause for a moment, if we had played all three scnenarios of the arc the players might have learned something interesting: sorcery does not misfire in The Bottom of the World. I hate to just say it like that, there would have been some verbal theatrics to go along with it if we had had the opportunity, and they still would have made misfire chance rolls and such, but yeah, sorcery doesn't misfire in The Bottom of the World. To continue, the next part of the arc would have seen the group accompanying A'lst into one of those black pyramids, essentially a dungeon crawl with some strange traps. These traps would have little effect on the physical world, but would strongly affect energy, like the fire from Xein's bombs and elemental damage from his spells.

Inside the pyramid, the group would have found that any spells and supernatural powers they had were far more likely to misfire than spells cast in The Known World were. Ultimately, at the conclusion of the scenario, the group and A'lst would have found themselves at the foot of a twenty foot tall topaz colored diamond object, the twin of Nakmander's artifact. There would have been some questions and A'lst would have attempted to give some answers, but then shadow monsters (Vacusu) would have descended on them and the group would have fought for their lives. A'lst would have thrown bolts of lighting and static at the monsters and when the monsters were eventually scared off (not killed/dissipated) A'lst would have used his fancy lightning powers to claim the artifact and drag it back to his main workshop. Outside of the pyramid they would have found evidence battle with other shadow monsters and that sort of thing. While fighting the shadow monsters, the group would have noticed a kind of white shadow extending up out of A'lst, not like the opposite of a shadow monster or something like that, but a hazy white suggestion of a twelve foot tall figure kind of lurking behind A'lst, something in that vein.

Once the crystal was brought back to A'lst's compound, he would have wired it into the metal platform that the group originally met him at. Once that was all taken care of, he would have walked to another section of the compound with another platform and console on it. When everything was all set up and ready to go, A'lst would have pulled a lever. When the lever was pulled, white lightning would have erupted from the diamond thing, with arcs of it jumping from the diamond to all of the Rankethlek and Soulless in the compound, along with A'lst, Omne-4, and Kethralzahn. A large portion of the lightning would have arced up into the ceiling of the compound and headed north for Steeltown as well.

I probably would have had A'lst scream something theatrical at this point simply to be silly and be a showman.  Slowly, building in size and intensity, a hazy bluish figure would have coalesced on the platform. A shape forged of lightning with only the barest suggestion of solidity and physical presence. The lightning would have eventually formed into, forgive my bluntness, Kethranmeer. It would not be the battered and rusted Kethranmeer that D'alton and Xein knew so well though, it would be a, I dunno, white knight holy paladin version of Kethranmeer. Some idealized noble version of the warrior with a perfectly formed body duplicating gleaming plate mail and a masterfully crafted hammer. This hyper idealized version of Kethranmeer would have looked at his surroundings and seen Xein and D'alton and he would have gestured at them and bellowed "Murderers!" and then he would have charged them, swinging his shining hammer. The hammer would have passed right through them, leaving a feeling of tingling numbness in its wake and Kethranmeer would have looked at it confusedly. A'lst and Omne-4 would have approached this Kethranmeer and spoken to him in Thoeleknair and eventually A'lst would have rejoined the group and explained what was going on.

This lightning Kethranmeer before the group was an afterimage, an echo, a memory powered by the device A'lst unearthed and shaped by the perceptions of the Rankethlek. It is well known that each Rankethlek is built with a splinter of Kethranmeer's body within them, a tiny fragment of their father bound somewhere within them to symbolize their brotherhood and shared ancestry. What is not know is that each splinter of Kethranmeer is bound to the psionically active bone of an Elduman. So long story short, the power source connects to the splinters of Kethranmeer and powers up the Elduman bone, which draws in the thoughts of Kethranmeer that the Rankethlek or Soulless has and allows their thoughts and beliefs to shape the construct. In Forgotten Realms, gods can only exist if they have worshippers praying and devoting energy to their belief, it is kind of like that. However, this is not the real Kethranmeer, it is an echo shaped by the beliefs of his sons, none of whom really truly knew him beyond the first five, so he is this idealized noble warrior that blames Xein and D'alton for his death. At this point, A'lst removes his shirt and reveals this horribly infected and swollen lump of pus and infection on his chest and produces two splinters of Kethranmeer's body bound with Elduman bones. He explains that like the Rankethlek, he has bound a piece of Kethranmeer in his body to help form this echo and he would like Xein and D'alton to do so as well, because they knew Kethranmeer far better than any of his sons did. This will come at a cost though, implanting the splinters will cause constant pain and irritation and be infected, in game terms it would cost Xein and D'alton some hit points and a penalty to Fortitude saves. If they took the splinters into their bodies, A'lst would ask them to concentrate on their memories of Kethranmeer and we would do something like a Will save or Concentration check or Wisdom check or some such that would in general terms determine how accurate the echo ended up being. I would also have asked Jeremy if D'alton thought about Kethranmeer's corpse, and his answer to that question would determine the echo's appearance. 

So yeah, there you have it, the ghost of Kethranmeer. He wasn't going to rejoin the party or anything like that, he would be next to useless anyways at this early stage in his development. This Kethranmeer is a creature of purely mental power and his physical prowess is next to useless in this form. One thing I did have planned was if D'alton and Xein ever drew close to death was the ghost suddenly appearing and wreaking psionic fury on the foes of the group. There was a planned conversion process, the longer the ghost was around, the more of his levels were converted from fighter to psion, so he would be more useful as time progressed and he learned to master the powers of a being of pure thought and energy. As this progression occurred he would in effect become smarter and more vocal as he fully ascended into the realm of pure thought. He was going to go all fucking hippy dippy philosopher on the guys. 

I've had this idea planned for quite a while, it was based on an amusing conversation Fred and I had while working in Frankenmuth one day. Something to the effect of the ghost of Kethranmeer all in chains haunting D'alton for his death kind of in the vein of  Marley's ghost haunting Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and whatnot. At the time it was just something hilarious we rambled about, as was our nature in Frankenmuth, but over time I thought about it and it kind of became something I really wanted to roll with and put into the campaign world. 

So that is what The Bottom of the World arc was going to culminate in. Any thoughts or questions?