Friday, March 29, 2013

The Herding of Thralls

This post is kind of a continuation of The Shipping of Leaders post. I split the topic into two posts, as I felt like it was going to get pretty lengthy if I heaped them both together. My issues with Leadership and Thrallherd are also different, so splitting it into two separate posts kind of makes sense. As I said, I do like the concept behind the Thrallherd, but I do have some issues with it.

My initial interpretation of the Thrallherd was that it is a telepath that generates a sort of wide burst psionic pulse that goes out and finds weak-willed individuals, rapes their minds and wills, and makes them the slaves of the Thrallherd. Since they are enslaved, the Thrallherd is under no obligation whatsoever to feed, clothe, or pay them. If they starve, more will just be drawn in by the psionic pulse. This initial interpretation was apparently wrong. There is still a certain amount of enslaving of will, but the pulse just goes out into the world and finds weak-willed individuals that are basically searching for someone to guide them or to be devoted to and the pulse draws them to the Thrallherd and turns them into fanatical followers of the Thrallherd and not mindraped slaves. The Thrallherd is still under no obligation to feed, clothe, or pay thralls and believers.

My initial thought, and one I did implement, is that Thrallherds cannot draw in divine characters with their power. Now, I don't use divine characters or gods normally. If I were to, I would house rule it that divine power only comes from deities and not abstract concepts or philosophical beliefs. Divine magic and arcane magic are external power sources that need special circumstances for mortal creatures to be able to control (training, a deity, a dragon for a grandpa, being really good at music, etc). This is my interpretation of arcane and divine magic and it is an interpretation I would extend to the house rules of any standard high fantasy setting I ran that had "normal" gods in.

Psionics, however, are a completely internal power source. That's not really relevant, just felt like saying it, because I like psionics.

The Immortals are kind of god-like in that they are powerful supernatural beings that can extend their powers to followers to grant them the ability to use divine spells and abilities from divine classes. They aren't even close to the power level of a normal DnD god. Maybe demigod, but that is about it. The reason I do not allow Thrallherds to take in divine characters is because these characters are already devoted and fanatical about something, the Immortal or god they serve. They're not searching for guidance and whatnot, they've already found it. Plus, all divine classes have a good Will save progression (Rangers don't, but they don't cast spells and thus aren't divine characters in my house rules). Not that that should really matter, as it removes a lot of arcane and psionic classes from the list of potential thralls and believers a thrallherd could have. How are people going to have their healerbots if I make that house rule?

Even if you could steal the loyalty/devotion/fanaticism of a divine character, they wouldn't be loyal to the Immortal or god anymore, so they'd lose their spells and spell-like and supernatural abilities and the Thrallherd couldn't give them any power because the Thrallherd is not a god. Additionally, depending on how high up in the hierarchy of the church a divine character was, the Immortal or god might come and try to take them back from the Thrallherd, or send other followers to do so. Jason came up with that last idea there.

One thought I had when I thought Thrallherds were mindraping and enslaving their believers and thralls was that if they should enter into an anti-psionic area, the pulse turns off and the thralls and believers would try to flee or kill their Thrallherd, depending on how they were treated. I could justify Grey trying to kill Donovan. There's no background tie the two have, Grey gets no special treatment from Donovan and his various needs are not addressed in any way or ever a concern. He just stands around keeping things from hurting Donovan. Plus he is an Elduman and even young ones like Grey and Donovan have a certain amount of pride and dignity and belief in their superiority. Any sort of bondage, especially mental, would likely infuriate them.

I mentioned some of my thoughts on all this to Jason and he exposed me to something interesting and infuriating that made me reassess what Thrallherding was and change my perspective from it being mindraping to it being fanatical devotion. The fanatical devotion thing doesn't bug me, as it actually strengthens the case for the pulse not affecting divine characters.

What infuriates me is that the Thrallherd ability is an extraordinary ability. Not psi-like or supernatural, extraordinary. So even if thralls were enslaved, anti-psionic effects would not affect the pulse and free them.

So just to give you an example of stuff, extraordinary abilities are special abilities that do not rely on magic to function that classes and races can do. Swift alchemy, rage, bardic knowledge, challenge, aura, nature bond, armor training, grit, monster lore, fighter training, flurry of blows, no trace, oracle's curse, divine health, favored enemy, sneak attack, mount, eschew materials, shield ally, witch's familiar, and arcane bond (familiar) are all extraordinary abilities from the Pathfinder classes. They're arranged in alphabetical order by the class they belong to, just for reference. A lot of abilities you see are going to be extraordinary in nature, especially the abilities of martial classes like the Fighter and the Gunslinger.

Spell-like abilities are those class or racial abilities that duplicate spells, but do not stem from the spells feature of spellcasting classes. Examples include the suggestion performance from the Bard, detect alignment from the Inquisitor, detect evil from the Paladin, summon monster I from the Summoner, and arcane bond (item) from the Wizard. I am sure there are more in like the discoveries and ninja tricks type sections of class documents, but I don't feel like digging through all of those to explain that spell-like abilities are abilities that function like spells of the same name. Psionics have their own version of this called psi-like abilities, and like spell-like, they are abilities that a race or class has that duplicate the effects of psionic powers and are not related to a class' ability to manifest psionic powers. Typically, psi and spell-like abilities do not have any material, somatic, or verbal components needed to use them.

There are also supernatural abilities. These are supernatural abilities or magical attacks, defenses, or qualities a class or race may have that don't fall under spell-like, generally it is kind of the category for weird innate stuff a class or race does that doesn't already have a clear cut spell or power to cover it. Alchemy, beast totem, countersong, channel energy, wild shape, judgement, arcane pool, ki pool, wholeness of body, lay on hands, twin eidolon, and blight hex are all supernatural abilities. Most martial classes don't have any supernatural abilities, or at least not access to them at all times. Barbarians have a few supernatural rage powers and I am sure Sorcerers have one or two in their bloodline powers.

Anyway. So what pisses me off is that the Thrallherd prestige class' thrallherd ability is extraordinary and works without any sort of supernatural, psionic, or magical effects as its source. So the Thrallherd, a psionic manifesting prestige class that can only be accessed by a class that can manifest psionic powers sends out a psionically generated subtle pulse of psionic power that calls to weak-willed individuals that want to be devoted to something and reacts with a hidden psionic resonance within them and nudges them towards the Thrallherd and being devoted to them. You know, now that I read that, it makes a lot more sense. Because a Fighter's armor training reducing the armor check penalty of armor he wears and increasing the amount of Dexterity bonus to AC he can have while wearing armor is totally the same style of ability as the thrallherd ability. Or a Ranger or Rogue's 20th level death attack ability that relies on skill, precision, and timing. Those are all extraordinary abilities. Sounds legit to me.

I am making my angry face right now because I feel a rage stroke coming on.

I mean seriously, by the logic of the thrallherd ability all charm and compulsion abilities are extraordinary abilities and not spell-like abilities, so spell resistance and anti-magic effects won't work on them. Sure, you have to be a spellcaster to use them, but that doesn't mean they are supernatural or spell-like in nature, just like you have to be able to manifest psionic powers to gain the thrallherd ability but it is a totally mundane in nature extraordinary ability. Charm person is a first level enchantment spell with a Will save to resist that makes someone your friend and does not grant you any control over them or even ensure they'll do what you want them to and they certainly won't do anything clearly suicidal or dangerous, and it wears off. That spell is a shit ton more mild than the thrallherd ability. Granted, it stems from the spells feature of classes, but a character can't use spells unless he is a spellcaster just like a character can't gain access to the Thrallherd prestige class and ability unless he can manifest psionic powers.

It isn't a perfect analogy, and I am not saying thrallherd should be a psi-like ability, as it doesn't duplicate any psionic power that I have heard of. I feel like it should be a supernatural ability that counts as a psionic effect though. I know most animal companion and mount abilities are extraordinary in nature, but come on. That is a pet. You have a pet. Everyone has pets. Having pets is ordinary. Your special connection to the pet and its improving abilities are the extra part, and thrallherd is far more potent than a familiar or companion ability. 

Speaking of mounts and companions, I have one last nit to pick at. If thrallherd is such a non-spell, non-psionic, non-supernatural effect, why are the Thrallherd and his thrall so linked that he gains a negative level for 24 hours if a thrall dies? I mean, a Samurai's mount is a loyal companion that comes to the Samurai and scales up in power over time and is an extraordinary ability all of which are true of the thrallherd ability. When a Samurai's mount dies, he mourns for a week and gets a new one, just like a Thrallherd gets a new thrall when one dies. The Samurai doesn't gain any sort of negative level or anything though. I don't think any mount or companion or familiar abilities give a negative level when the creature dies. Don't quote me on that, as I have no intention of paging through every class and archetype to check that. I will say this though, even a Summoner's eidolon, which is actually connected to the Summoner's life force, doesn't do anything like adding a negative level to the Summoner when it dies. This all seems peculiar to me.

In the future, I would switch thrallherd from extraordinary to a supernatural ability that is a psionic effect like I said above. I would also give all thralls and believers it draws to the Thrallherd a -2 to will saves and not allow any of them to take the Iron Will feat. I think this is appropriate because thralls and believers are weak willed and directionless individuals that are actively seeking to suppress their own desires and goals in favor of another's, otherwise they wouldn't be affected by the ability in the first place. I would also rule it that if a creature has power resistance as an ability, you cannot make it a thrall or believer. So you can still have Monks, but only if they are below 13th level. Remember, I have house ruled that Monks are psionic characters, so they gain power resistance instead of spell resistance. Since the pulse of a Thrallherd is so subtle and weak and non-mindrapy or invasive, it doesn't seem likely that it would be able to overcome even lower grade power resistance. 

So yeah. Thrallherds. I like 'em and think they're neat, but their mechanics sure do bug me.

I do also want to add one thing. Good on Dreamscarred Press for actually taking the time to make psionic powers that have names that fit the flavor of psionics and are not just stuff like psionic charm like WotC did. A lot of psionic powers are modeled after spells, but their names and descriptive text all seem to fit with the flavor of psionics instead of being "see spell X in rulebook Y." For instance, empathic connection has the mechanical effect of the charm person spell, but the descriptive text describes your mind reaching out and twisting the emotional strings of the target to apply to you. Much cooler than "see the effects of charm person" and a couple lines of text listing the augments for the power. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Shipping of Leaders

Sometimes I feel like I am a good GM. I feel like I give my players a lot of freedom to do what they want and for the most part play however they want. Outside of issues regarding my oh so sacred background material, I'll pretty much let most things slide and try to facilitate my player's wishes as best I can. Unless they want a feat that can raise the dead as a standard action that requires a healer's kit. Then something slaps me in the face and I am reminded that I am a retard and I am once more confronted with the taste of shame and failure. It tastes mostly like ash with hints of rainbows coated in industrial cleaner.

One of the big things from my Orcunraytrel campaign is Cary playing a Thrallherd and Eric, Jason, and my NPC taking the Leadership feat. Which leads to lots of low level flunkies and a few higher level guys hanging around. I have no beef with this, as it is kind of cool. The players are kind of setting up their own guilds and organizations. I actually really like the concept behind the Thrallherd, as it is something psionic that I have not seen duplicated with arcane classes and back in 3.5 psionics was mostly just copy and paste spell statistics into the psionics books but delete the description of what the spell does and replace it with something like "see spell X in book Y for a description of what this power does when manifested." I mean, how else was WoTC going to make their mandatory no more than 160 pages mark if they didn't slash and burn completely non-essential information like WHAT A FUCKING POWER DOES!!1! from a new book. Way to make psionics feel unique and special and different guys. Good call, you fuckheads.

Pathfinder's Ultimate Combat, Advanced Race Guide, and Ultimate Magic all have 258 pages and Bestiary 2 and 3 both have 322 pages (though those are the only Pathfinder books that aren't adventure modules that I can find with the same page count in my pdfs), so I guess Paizo does the no more than X number of pages thing too, but I feel like you can cram more content into 258 pages than in 160. Plus, Pathfinder books are like three cents cheaper per page than 3.5 books were, even at a full price of 30 bucks a pop for a 3.5 splatbook and 40 for a Pathfinder book.

Man. Went off topic a bit there. 

So I like Thrallherds and the Leadership feat. They're kind of neat and cool and offer up some interesting options for gameplay. That said, I do have some beefs with them. Beefs that should have been addressed earlier in the campaign and should have been fully considered and thought out prior to giving everyone the ok to do what they wanted. I did not do that, thus all the shame and ash and industrial cleaner coated rainbows and whatnot.

Now my interpretation of the Leadership feat is that it amounts to "Hey, you're a cool dude because [insert whatever reason]. We want to hang out with you." There are all kinds of modifiers to your leadership score that improve or penalize it on a permanent basis. Having a cohort die penalizes your cohort score, having a bad reputation penalizes your overall score, having a base (even if it is one that relies heavily on non-euclidean geometry and hammerspace physics to have room for everyone inside of it) improves your score with followers.

The rules for the Leadership feat are pretty vague after that point. There aren't any guidelines or restrictions on the possessions of your cohort and followers or what classes they use or whether or not you need to pay them or what might cause them to leave your service or anything like that. So the GM has to fill in all the little blanks with stuff, which I've done. My interpretation was that you have to provide food, shelter, gear, and pay them. Jason disagreed with paying them and I said ok. Partly because I don't like to say no, and partly because I didn't know how they would ever be able to afford to pay all the followers they would accrue from two players having the Leadership feat. Plus, they're really bad at handling money. Also, mainly, because this is a game and if someone wants to do something fun and cool and interesting and it doesn't end up taking a machete to my background material and isn't an aggressive abuse of some loophole in the rules, I'm predisposed to allow it because I want us all to have fun. 

This is not something I am planning to institute in the current campaign, but I feel like not paying followers falls under at least aloofness in the Leadership score modifier table. It isn't worth a -2 like cruelty, but I would still say it is worth a -1 like aloofness is. I'm not saying you need to pay followers well above what a hireling would make, or even at the base rate a hireling would be paid. But there should be some sort of compensation for being crammed into a 20 ft. by 20 ft. room with 20+ other dudes and being fed a steady diet of mushroom steaks and fungus beer with no diversions to waste time on within 200 miles. Not that you could actually engage in any diversions, as you have no money.

We'll set aside the fact that Karrak and Karl are complete unknowns that have done nothing noteworthy in their adventures as of yet. There are greycoats that have killed more undead and giants, there are pirates that have explored more of Orcunraytel, and others that have killed more Asosans. Freeing Andorian would be a big deal, if they were trying to recruit Sereth. Working as the Organization's agents to fuck with Vaux and Kusseth is certainly a bold as fuck move, but its nature makes it a secret that should not be spread around to attract cronies with your boldness. We'll set all that aside though.

So Karl and Karrak have this quality or reputation or musk (+5 to your leadership score if you have followers with the scent ability) or whatever that people see (or smell!) and go, yeah, this is a cool dude. He probably does cool things and I want to do cool things with him or help him do cool things. 

That's all well and good, but doesn't it make them assholes if they don't compensate their followers and cohorts in some way that is more valuable than mushroom steaks, fungus beer, iron chain mail, and iron spears? Plantation owners fed and watered their slaves, probably, and still had to chain them down to keep them around. Which is not to say Leadership is slavery or indentured servitude or anything like that. It is just an extreme example made for the sake of making an extreme example. These followers have free will and I can still make them leave if I feel Karl and Karrak are treating their followers and cohorts as slaves or indentured servants, which is really only an irritant, as more followers will show up after a while. 

I dunno, I've had bosses and supervisors that I liked and respected and thought were cool and would do things for that I wouldn't have done for other bosses (dicks might have been involved, not gonna lie). I was loyal to them and liked them and thought they were cool is what I am saying. That said, I wouldn't have worked for them if they weren't paying me regularly and probably would have only been willing to go a week or so without a paycheck before peacing the fuck out. All those overpriced, wafer thin 3.5 splatbooks weren't going to buy themselves, amirite?

If I could do it over, I'd probably institute a rule that says that if you're not going to pay followers, there needs to be compensation of some kind. Free whores, carnivals, drugs, good liquor, something that is a diversion that they don't have to pay for that you use to keep up their morale. The Fort is a shithole and they could die just from hanging out there. There's no room in it, it is in the middle of nowhere between natives with a strong military and invaders that piss them off, and it has been attacked twice after initially being stolen from the natives, it is full of giant rats (Goebleen rat dogs) that give you mange if you so much as glance at them, and the only food around is mushroom steaks and fungus beer.

Karrak and Karl both have friends from their background as their cohorts. That is a situation where I don't have an issue with payment. The cohort position is a closer bond than the followers. In my mind it is an ideal spot to place a friend or family member or person who's life you saved. Someone you have a somewhat close relationship to that wouldn't really have an issue not being paid for the pleasure of their company. I mean, Karl and Karrak and Gob are friends and it would be weird if they were all paying each other to continue hanging out with them, right? 

I dunno, just some thoughts on the Leadership feat.

Edit After The Fact: I remember now (after being reminded by Jason) that Jason's justification for having followers is him calling in favors and that sort of thing from various buddies Karrak had while  seafaring and whatnot, which I think is a fine excuse to use for attracting followers and such. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Alternate Rules: Crossbows and Bodkin Points

So the route Pathfinder went to show the power and penetration of firearms was to allow them to resolve as touch attacks, rather than regular AC attacks. In addition to giving them a x4 critical hit damage multiplier. Never in a million years would I have thought of this as a good way to represent the strength of firearms. When we used 4th Edition to play in Hekinoe the way I did it was that each firearm had a bonus to attack rolls when attacking an armored foe. Which when you think about it for ten seconds, makes absofuckinglutely no sense, as it makes it easier to hit a person in like leather armor than someone wearing no armor, as the bonus to the roll not only neutralizes the armor's bonus to AC, but still has attack bonus left over to help hit the target on top of it all. It was a wonky inelegant system. But most of what I did with Hekinoe with the 4th Edition ruleset was wonky and inelegant because 4th Edition just fucking implodes if you try to add any non-high fantasy elements to it.

So one of the features that differentiates firearms from bows is their penetrating power. Don't get me wrong, bows are nasty. Arrows are long and have sharp metal bits that hurt. They can do a lot of damage to a body and are a fairly precise and deadly weapon when used by a skilled archer. However, there's a reason modern military forces uses rifles and handguns instead of ye olde compound longbow, or a modernized equivalent.

Based on the way firearms resolve their attacks against touch AC, I am considering the possibility of crossbows and bodkin arrowheads resolving in a similar way. 

Crossbows have the potential to put much more tension on the bow than a human's arms can, and thus can impart a bit more energy to the projectile. I'll be honest, I am not any sort of authority on archaic weaponry or its modern variants. I just bum around Wikipedia a lot and read a lot of fantasy novels and game manuals. So my understanding is that the mechanisms of the crossbow give it more impact force than a longbow pulled back by human limbs. My understanding is that this gives the bolt more penetrating power than an arrow, in addition to other pros and cons that are irrelevant to this discussion.

My understanding is that there are also these things called bodkin points for arrows. Now we've all seen little target arrowheads and the big fat blade-like broadhead arrowheads. Bodkins are these narrow little kind of square shaped arrowheads. Supposedly this shape leads to greater penetration from such arrowheads. Theoretically, it makes sense, as it concentrates all the force of the impact into a very small area rather than the larger surface area of a broadhead. I kind of think of it as the difference between getting your hand stepped on by the heel of a boot and a stiletto heel. All arrows and bolts are more or less designed with a point because it concentrates the force of impact into a smaller point, but bodkins are still slimmer and more pointed than most other arrowheads I've seen.

So with these thoughts regarding firearms, crossbows, and bodkin points in my head, I am considering creating bodkin arrowheads for the game and allowing bodkin arrows and crossbows to resolve against touch AC like firearms. I think I'd restrict it to the first range increment though, like early firearms. We use advanced firearms in Hekinoe, so they get to resolve against touch AC within the first ten range increments, and I want firearms to still be unique. I'd obviously make bodkin arrows more expensive than normal bow ammunition, and maybe tweak the costs of crossbows as well, or restrict this ability to the bigger crossbows. Not sure. This was just a kind of interesting thought that occurred to me. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - Subscenario 01: Xein and John

In which two friends are offered and out, ignore it, and proceed deeper in. 

28th of Tenthmonth 9995 DK
Xein and Nakmander came to an agreement, Xein would do murder on the behalf of Nakmander, and in exchange, Nakmander would be more lenient in his control of Xein. Xein and John met Nakmander at The Jigging Jackass at the appointed time and discussed the agreement and the task at hand. Xein also inquired about some research Nakmander was doing in regards to a ledger of figures on his desk. Nakmander explained that he was studying the potential for sorcerous energy within the city, which the walls of the city supposedly absorbed and stored and he hoped he could someday harness to unleash upon the foes of the city.

Nakmander tasked Xein and John with finding a certain alchemy shop in the city and eliminating any Soulless or Fallen on the premises so he could freely access their laboratory where they were conducting experiments on fragments of the black walls of the city. John and Xein snuck into the shop and explored it, encountering and killing two Soulless, then advancing into the depths of the alchemy shop. In the basement of the shop they found a sorcerous laboratory and a Fallen. The Fallen was an unarmed, hand to hand combat expert and gave John and Xein a very difficult battle, but in the end they succeeded and destroyed the Fallen.  

After the death of the Fallen, Xein and John found what appeared to be some sort of devotional altar in the basement. On the altar they found burning incense and a stylized representation of The Bleak Tyrant, along with a collection of beads on a long bracelet. Curious, Xein investigated the bracelet and found that he could use his sorcerous knowledge to activate it, but only through sheer luck. When Xein activated the object, he suddenly found his mind in danger of being crushed by the attention of an ancient and unknowable intelligence that terrified him. Luckily, he dropped the object before the entity could turn its full attention to him and incinerate his mind.

John and Xein agreed that if they left the shop untended, someone might wander in and disturb the contents. Xein's knowledge of explosives told him that the alchemy shop was constructed quite sturdily and if they detonated some explosives on the first floor, the basement full of sorcerous experiments would be left more or less intact. Apparently, Xein and John detonated the shop, but had no memory of it. The explosive detonation of the sorcerous and alchemical contents of the shop put a blank spot in their memories, and they only came to as the blast was flinging them across the street. Once they recovered and guessed what had happened, they reported to Nakmander and then returned to the mansion. 

Edit After The Fact: This subscenario was also kind of about exploring Pathfinder and friendships between characters. During it, they also discovered that some Fallen apparently worship The Bleak Tyrant as some manner of deity. A discovery that isn't every really pursued or addressed in any way. I guess I should also explain that our friend John always plays human characters, or at least as close as he can come to human, and names them John. I'm not sure why. Jeremy once came up with a fun concept explaining that John the player wasn't playing John the character. He was actually playing John the character's steam rifle. In the continuity of the campaign, this subscenario takes place between the eighth and ninth scenarios and builds off of stuff Kethranmeer and D'alton discovered in their subscenario. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - Subscenario 00: D'alton and Kethranmeer

In which two brothers establish their brotherhood and buy their freedom at the cost of others'.

11th of Eighthmonth 9995 DK
D'alton discovers Kethranmeer sneaking about the mansion in the middle of the night. The two exchange words and D'alton accompanies Kethranmeer to The Jigging Jackass where Kethranmeer gives his cut of the group's money to Nakmander to purchase his freedom. Nakmander also convinces D'alton to take part in a ritual that will unlock the sorcerous potential in D'alton's thin Fell Human blood. D'alton also decided to take his share of the money and buy his freedom from Nakmander as well. Unfortunately, the use of this money left too little money in the group's coffers for the other members to buy their freedom. Kethranmeer was very agitated during the exchange, claiming that he had important duties to perform this evening. 

When the ritual was finished and D'alton unlocked his sorcerous potential, D'alton and Kethranmeer made their way to another district and spied upon an Fallen run alchemy shop. Kethranmeer explained that he sought to free his people from the sorcerous control of the Fallen. To do this, he needed to subdue the Soulless and implant a device created by A'lst within their chest. Kethranmeer tells D'alton that he has been tracking Soulless in the city and seeks to bring one into the fold that has been stationed at the alchemy shop to protect the Fallen.

D'alton and Kethranmeer hide outside the shop for a while, and D'alton's newly empowered blood reacts with a strong affinity to the shadows he hides in. The two gain entrance to the shop and find it empty. In the basement, they discover that the Fallen have been experimenting with the black rock of Hell's walls. They also discover that the Soulless they are looking for has left the building. The two attempt to track the Soulless, but neither of them are particularly skilled at tracking, but they manage to eventually find their quarry in an abandoned warehouse engaging in boxing fights with humanoids of flesh and bone, with betting being on how long a meatbag will last against the Soulless in a fight.

Kethranmeer challenged the Soulless to combat, and it agreed to join the rebellion if Kethranmeer could defeat it. After a tough battle, Kethranmeer and D'alton subdued the Soulless and dragged it back to the mansion. On the way, they stopped at The Jigging Jackass and mentioned to Nakmander that the Fallen were doing sorcerous experiments on the black walls of Hell. 

Edit After The Fact: This subscenario was kind an in game means of showing Kethranmeer's efforts to create the Rankethlek race and to also strengthen the bonds between Kethranmeer and D'alton. This subscenario is also how D'alton became a full blooded Fell Human instead of a Fell Human Descedant, and also allowed him to access the Shadowdancer prestige class. It was also an experiment with using the Pathfinder rules in Hekinoe, as we had not made the switch in systems quite yet. In the continuity it takes place between the seventh and eighth scenarios of The Rebellion Arc. Also, everyone was really pissed about Kethranmeer and D'alton taking their share of the money. Kethranmeer justified it by essentially telling the rest of the group to consider it back pay for taking all the hits everyone else was too weak to take. D'alton justified it by telling everyone, I'm a thief, what did you expect?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - 14: The Night the Sky Cried Tears of Fire

In which both Kethranmeer and Nakmander fall, and only one gets up. 

10th of Fourthmonth, 9996 DK
Once within the wolf-iron Dwenoren tunnels, Nakmander's group and The Robust Five (More Or Less) quickly came to the end of the tunnels and found a circular chamber with a skylight. Nakmander and his sorcerers used sorcery to excavate the opening so they could get a wider view of the sky and then set forth to creating a ritual. The fifteen sorcerers were aided by Derf, Xein, and D'alton in the crafting of the ritual. The sorcerers chanted, Derf etched runes to channel power into the floor, Xein laid down lines of sorcerously reactive powders, and D'alton gave birth to sorcerous shadows to enhance the energy of the ritual. Once the ritual was fully begun, the sorcerous energy within the chamber began nauseating and weakening the group.

Nakmander then explained that it was time for Kusseth to pay for all they'd done to his people and his city. He spoke to his cronies of making martyrs of Kusseth's innocents, innocents that had not raised a single hand in defense of Nakmander or his people. Nakmander said that they would use the falling stars themselves to make Kusseth pay. Kethranmeer and Xein said that they had friends and family within Kusseth that could be injured by the meteors brought down on  the city. Nakmander commended them for their noble death in the name of his cause, Kethranmeer and Xein felt this was not the way it should be and Kethranmeer leapt forward to attack the sorcerers and Nakmander stepped to their defense.

At this time, Gonigi Montoya rappelled into the chamber with forty wardens and Brasscoats in tow and all Hell broke loose and people began shooting and casting and generally just making a mess of everything. Derf immediately levelled his most powerful spells against Gonigi while Kethranmeer attempted to get past Nakmander to the sorcerers and D'alton and Xein attacked Nakmander with bombs and pistols. Derf's spell almost destroyed Gonigi then and there, but the warden managed to cling to life long enough to retreat and restore his vitality with his psionic powers while John attempted, and succeeded, in clotheslining Derf to keep him from killing the warden.

As the ritual began to reach full power, Kethranmeer fell to Nakmander's spells, his body reduced to slag and scorched rust by Nakmander's most powerful spells. Nakmander had not sought this and screamed at the group, asking them if this was enough of a price to pay for Kusseth's safety. Derf began attempting to take control of the ritual while John and Xein attacked the sorcerers and D'alton continued attacking Nakmander. Nakmander began marshaling his power, seeking to unleash one of his most  powerful spells upon the group, but sorcery slipped from his grasp and his power burned out the air in the chamber in a violent flash of sorcery that left most of his soldiers unconscious from lack of oxygen. Nakmander too was knocked down by his power, and D'alton stepped forward with a blade forged from Kethranmeer's own blade finger and plunged it into Nakmander's face. 

Derf managed to take control of the ritual, and in typical Derf fashion, directed the falling meteors at the northwest of Kusseth City, because he felt like it. Gonigi and the group engaged in brief dialogue, Gonigi was admonished when he irreverently lamented the death of Kethranmeer. Gonigi had only vague words for the players and pointed out that Nakmander's body had disappeared. He and his wardens and Brasscoats left quickly to head back to Kusseth to help restore order. 

12th of Fourthmonth, 9996 DK
The group, with Kethranmeer's body in tow, arrived in the 295th district of Kusseth City seeking to return Kethranmeer's corpse to his creator, luckily able to enter freely and safely due to the devastation the ritual had wrought.  They found the warehouse empty of A'lst. Their investigation revealed a thick layer of dust on the floor, but they did discover what they determined were the tracks of five Soulless in the dust, along with what they assumed were A'lst's small footprints. All six sets of footprints left the warehouse. Not knowing what else to do, the players left the warehouse and headed back to Hell.

16th of Fourthmonth, 9996 DK
The group returned to Hell and found their mansion and businesses in good order. Well aware of the fact that Nakmander's body had disappeared, they laid Kethranmeer to rest down in the bottom of the mansion near his forge, and set to defending their home in the event that Nakmander attempted to strike at them, if he was still alive.

Edit After The Fact: This was the final scenario of The Rebellion Arc. This run down doesn't really show it, but there was a lot of discussion and role-playing during and following it. I was so sad when Kethranmeer died, I actually had to get up and leave the room for a moment. As I've said before, I am too invested in this shit. Also, Gonigi was a warden errant of Kusseth that had previously interacted with the group in the hopes that they would help him root out Nakmander's plans and aid him in defeating the sorcerer. I don't recall if they every informed Nakmander of this, but they didn't exactly help out the warden. I guess I should explain the blade finger bit as well. When Kethranmeer was the Beast/Spineplate of Beltan, the wardens there fitted him out as a mining creature and replaced his hands with large wolf-iron claws that could hack ore out of the earth. Eventually, Kethranmeer requested that Xein and D'alton help him out and remove the blades and replace them with fingers and he returned to using hammers. As a sign of friendship with D'alton, Kethranmeer forged one of his claws into a short sword for D'alton. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - 13: Evasive Maneuvers

In which horses are forgetting, much to the chagrin of Rhetkhan Kannunn. 

5th of Fourthmonth, 9996 DK
The group rode north for a day and met with the pale, sickly creature called Callifay. Callifay inspects the coffin to ensure that the proper corpse is found within, once satisfied with the identity of the corpse, he and his escorts leave. Before doing so, they informed the group as to where they could meet Nakmander. 

6th of Fourthmonth, 9996 DK
The group reconvened with Nakmander and he informed them that now that they were truly in Kusseth territory, they were being hunted by more Brasscoats. Using sorcery, Nakmander and his sorcerers found ways to traverse the soil without leaving tracks. The group was ordered to take Nakmander's horses and mislead the trackers and eventually force a confrontation with them, leaving Nakmander free to reach his desired position in Kusseth. The group successfully misled the Brasscoats and fought them to the death. 

10th of Fourthmonth, 9996 DK
The group reconvened once more with Nakmander, settling down in a depression among some rocky hills a few miles south of Kusseth City. Nakmander made them welcome and explained that they would be cutting their way into a series of Dwenoren tunnels that would lead them to the place the ritual would take place. 

Edit After The Fact: The one liner for this scenario refers to the fact that during the fight of the scenario, I had planned on the firearms and lightning guns sending the horses the group was leading into a frenzy of fear and causing a significant hazard to everyone on the battlemat. I completely forgot this aspect of the encounter. Which was upsetting, but that's what you get when you try to run a scenario after working for twelve hours. Rhetkhan Kannunn is a joke Jeremy and I kind of came up with referring to me as a presence in my campaign world that periodically restructures background material as I adjust rules and add in new ones or change a piece of background information. Retcon is term for retroactive continuity, which means changing previously established facts and such in a fictional work. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - 12: Burn The Mother Down

In which the mother does not in fact burn down, a disguise is fashioned, and the merits of technology are irrefutably displayed via a lightning bolt to the face. 

The group spent 32 days traveling and returned to the city on 19th of Secondmonth. When the group returned to Hell, they met with Nakmander and were rewarded for their successful efforts among the Fremwightan. They also opted to report to Ko'serra, she was furious they had left for over two months without telling her. She gave them severance pay and fired them from her cabinet, and that was the last they ever saw of her. Once they reported to Nakmander, they had no real contact with him other than a few low key missions to drop something off or pick something up. 

4th of Fourthmonth, 9996 DK
At about nine in the evening, the group was hanging out in the Braun mansion and they heard the noises of rioting in the streets. When they investigated, they saw a mob down the street and a few nearby buildings on fire. Through various methods, they attempted to put out the fires and investigate the mob. The mob appeared to be a collection of excited drunken revelers celebrating the fact that Cenn the Reaver was dead. While they were dealing with the fires and the mob, messengers from Tesla's Boil ran up to them and told them that the bar was under attack. 

The group rushed to the Boil and engaged the looters in combat, relatively swiftly removing them from their bar. As they were finishing off the looters, another messenger came running up and told them that Nakmander desired their presence at The Jigging Jackass. When they arrived at the Jackass, they found the signs of battle and fire outside of the door, along with ten corpses. Upon entering the Jackass they found Nakmander entertaining the most elite of his cronies with the best food and drink in his establishment. There was also a coffin. 

When Nakmander addressed the group, he told them that Cenn was dead and that the time was at hand  for the rebellion to strike a blow at Kusseth itself. For now their part was simple, they merely needed to escort the coffin out of the city and masquerade as Nakmander himself so as to keep Kusseth wardens and Brasscoats from waylaying the true Nakmander. They would also need to deliver the coffin to a creature called Callifay. Augmented by Derf's sorcery, the ruse worked and the group soon found themselves in mortal combat with a group of Kusseth's Brasscoats and their lightning guns. The battle was difficult and hard fought, but the group succeeded and escaped Hell.

Edit After The Fact: The last few scenarios of the campaign become very stripped down in content. This was due to me becoming an EMT-B and working a new schedule that forced me into working opposite weekends of everyone else in the group. I would typically leave work at six or seven in the evening (I forget what shift I was working then) after getting up at like three or four in the morning, working twelve hours and hopefully getting out on time, and then go directly to Jeremy's to run the scenario. We'd finish whenever we finished and the next day I would work at nine in the morning on a shift that was encouraged to complete ten calls (mostly transfers) in less than twelve hours. Which is hard. The final few scenarios naturally suffered because of this, which frustrated me, but there was no real way for us to game other than that. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - 11: Further Descension

In which Okwighta are curt and Fell Humans do not act in a militaristic fashion.

17th of Firstmonth 9996 DK
The group received a messenger night fowl from Nakmander that ordered them north into The Fell Peaks to meet up with some Glenwighta. When the players arrived at some Glenwighta ruins they were approached by some Fremwightan Conwighta and after some dick measuring, their escorts agree to escort them beneath the earth without blindfolds. After much travel, they were escorted across a suspension bridge across a chasm that was set up so that it could be detonated, and entered into a massive stalactite and found a Fremwightan city. There were escorted very briskly and curtly to a meeting with an Okwighta known only as Konaleknostas' subcommander. The subcommander asked them what their battle honors were and when he heard tales of sufficient bloodletting and murder he told them that there were Fell Human soldiers in the area that were in danger of discovering the free city and the Fremwightan could not fight them, or they would know the city was there. It was necessary for outsiders to kill most of them and allow others to return to their base so they could bring stories of non-Glenwighta warriors back to their commanders. They were also notified that there might be ruins and treasures from the ancient empire of the Glenwighta, and their condition was to be preserved at all costs.

The group was given a guide that escorted them through the passages of the earth and discovered a strange portion of Swiss cheese like tunnels. The guide said that something called a cave wight was in the area and that they should be wary. The cave wight ambushed them, but they were able to defeat it with relative ease thanks to a spell from Derf that paralyzed the monster. The group continued on and discovered another chasm. In the chasm floated a collection islands with soldiers on them, the largest island bore some ancient ruins of strange metals. Ringing the chasm were a series of oval shaped sorcerous portals that used sorcery to hold the islands aloft. The sorcerous ovals were crafted of glassy black stone and had humanoidish bones within them, these bones were somewhat strange in design and looked as if they came from a humanoid roughly twelve feet in height. 

The group discovered how to sever the connection from the floating islands and their oval and were able to dispose of the majority of the Fell Humans that vastly outnumbered them, leaving only what they considered the leader and his cronies to contest with. Derf  dealt with them with a black tentacles spell that kept them mired in black tentacles for the majority of the battle. While engaging in combat, the group noticed that their enemies did not act in a militaristic fashion and were doing a lot of running around and screaming in addition to not acting in a militaristic fashion. The ruins were left untouched during the battle, despite Xein almost stealing some weaponry forged of a strange black stone-like material he had never seen before. 

When the group returned to the Fremwightan enclave, they were thanked curtly by the subcommander. Xein was rewarded with teeth of strange black stone-like material for his chainsword, Kethranmeer received a hammer of the same dark material, John received plates of dark material that reinforced his gun, Derf received a suit of armor studded with bits of glassy black stone that seemed to stabilize his spells, and D'alton received a fancy three barreled pistol. After they were rewarded, the group was shoved out of the city back onto the surface and ordered to return to Hell post haste. 

Edit After The Fact: It should be noted that at this time, I was still using single shot black powder firearms in The Known World. I have since retconned it that revolvers and multiple shot rifles and shotguns are common in this time period, but at the time Pathfinder had not unveiled revolvers and such built with their rules in mind. It should also be noted that this is the scenario I refer to when I say the group killed a bunch of Fell Human teenagers. The group of Fell Humans that The Robust Five killed were essentially a bunch of young twenty-somethings out partying in the wilderness of The Fell Peaks.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - 10: Convoooyyy!

In which a pixelated game is referenced and a mechanical bludgeoning device is fashioned.

7th of Twelfthmonth, 9995 DK
The group is called once more to The Jigging Jackass at Nakmander's request. this visit reveals that things at the Jackass have returned to normal and Nakmander appears to be fully in control of everything. No reavers are in evidence. Nakmander thanks the group for taking Menkelthel so skillfully, and informs them that he has yet another task involving reavers for them. The reavers must be safely transported south to a depot where they will be held until Cenn can claim them. There is one final cart of them waiting two days ride to the west, it will be the group's task to take them south to The Beast Lands and deposit them safely. A wagon and cover have been provided, but the group should be wary, there have been attacks on previous caravans. The group uses their connections with the rebellion to quietly exit the city. 

9th of Twelfthmonth, 9995 DK
The group arrives at the traveler's roost and sees what appears to be a wagon and two horses dressed up in the livery of Kusseth's wardens. Further inspection reveals a bunch of malnourished reavers in the wagon, along with plenty of bodily fluids, lots of repair supplies, and leather dusters done up in the insignia of the wardens. D'alton began impersonating a warden for unknown reasons, and succeeded, the reavers demanded their freedom. D'alton did not grant it and continued hemming and hawing while Xein and John fashioned a lever operated bludgeoning device that could strike all the reavers in the wagon simultaneously and then knocked them all unconsciousness. 

10th of Twelfthmonth, 9995 DK - 12th of Firstmonth, 9996 DK
The group spends this period of time travelling more or less south to their destination in The Beast Lands. During the travel time there were a few broken wheels on the wagon, a snake attacked a horse, and John contracted dysentery but was able to recover thanks to Xein's ministrations. At the tail end of their journey, the group came under assault by a group of bard pistoliers. The group was able to fight them off and continue to their destination.

13th of Firstmonth, 9996 DK
The group reached a stone and dirt fortress in The Beast Lands and discovered the aftermath of a battle with a massive ursine from the depths of the forest. They were ushered into the fortress and found it to be a foul, smelly place, with no comforts. The reavers were stacked in cages like cords of wood, screaming and defecating everywhere trying to assault their captors with their bodily fluids. The group made a space for themselves and set to killing time until Nakmander called for them.

14th, 15th, and 16th of Firstmonth, 9996 DK
The group bummed around the crude fortress found at the northern border of The Beast Lands waiting for Nakmander to call for them.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - 09: Kidnapping

In which the effects of chemistry, poison, and anatomy are utilized to unreave a reaver. 

1st of Twelfthmonth, 9995 DK
The group has been working as muscle for Nakmander since their exploits beneath the earth. They have been making a name for themselves in the rebellion as some of the harder hard cases working for Nakmander and typically guard money transfers and break down doors looking for collections or to root out Kusseth loyalist elements in the population. Once more, they find themselves called to The Jigging Jackass. They find Nakmander and his warriors dressed for battle. Nakmander is brief with them, saying only that things are afoot that require his direct intervention, and their task is just as important. They will be capturing a reaver. Alive.

Nakmander tells the group that he has brokered a deal of some kind with Cenn the Reaver and is allowed to remove reavers from Hell, through non-violent means. Cenn has told Nakmander, the death or injury of a reaver will result in the death of Hell. The group is instructed to find and subdue a reaver by the name of Menkelthel, a reaver that enjoys living in Hell and has a reputation as a formidable warrior and sorcerer. They are instructed to be careful and to remove him from the city in one piece, and to make it look as if he just up and left, rather than as if he was subdued and taken against his will. 

The group made their way to Menkelthel's tower fortress, investigated it and discerned that he was the only reaver in residence. They then began recon on the district itself, noting that there were no reavers in evidence, even going so far as to question citizens and get confirmation that the reavers have been growing fewer and fewer over the past week or so. Using cunning, the group was able to find an alchemist willing to deal in poisons and were able to gain entrance to the fortress via stealth, primarily through Derf's spells and D'alton's shadow powers, and affect Menkelthel with a paralytic poison. Despite Xein's bumbling and tampering with the chemical, the reaver fell to the poison and they were able to make off with him safely, despite almost forgetting his sword. 

After carting the reaver in a cart through Hell, they brought him to The Jigging Jackass and found it to be very odd. The main room was full of rebels pretending to be merry and feigning loudness. It was quickly revealed that the lower levels of the Jackass were full of angry, bleeding, screaming reavers and the noise above was made to cover the noise of the reavers. A canny guess showed that Nakmander was feeling a bit overwhelmed holding a few dozen reavers in his basement and quickly told the group to drop their reaver and leave him to sort through the mess. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - 08: Descent Into the Depths

In which Derf recalls a past life as Derf, Kethranmeer shames the group with his untrained stealth, and the results of poor pet care are experienced.

1st of Ninthmonth, 9995 DK
The group receives a visitor to the mansion in the early morning, the visitor said that he was a member of the Guild of Commerce and was here to collect he 300 marks in back taxes the group owed for starting a business in the area. He also said that the 150 mark late fee had been waved due to their place in Ko'serra's cabinet. The group paid the fee. Soon after, they received another visitor, this one calling them to The Jigging Jackass to meet with Nakmander. During travel, Kethranmeer was observed to be a little rusty and louder and clunkier than normal. 

Nakmander informs the group that they are capable, but not directly loyal to the rebellion, so they are expendable. He tells them that he has allies that seek entrance into the city, but they must do so in secret. To achieve this, Nakmander directs the group to the catacombs beneath the city, where hopefully they will find a sorcerous device capable of allowing his allies entrance into the city. If they do not succeed, they are not to worry, he has other means to achieve this goal.

The group heads into the deep, dark places of Hell, below the sewers into crude caverns of glassy black stone. They proceed further and further, encountering sorcerous traps and machinery that drain their vitality, finally coming to what looks like a fairly mundane boulevard complete with lighting and benches of glassy black stone. They proceed down this street and find a huge chamber with four obelisks of glassy back stone. In this chamber, bound by red lightning in the center of the obelisks, is a dragon. The beast has been mutated by sorcery and driven completely insane, its eyes looking sickly and its hide covered in cancerous black protrusions. 

The group investigates the obelisks and realizes that they have the ability to turn off the red lightning and open a portal where the dragon thrashes. Being warriors, they free the dragon and begin attempting to slay it. John is horribly scarred by the thing's acidic spit, but in the end, the group hacks the dragon apart and fires up the teleportation device. A yellow oval of light opens and out steps several Solwighta and Conwighta. Once they have ensured the safety on this side of the portal, a small Okwighta comes through and introduces himself as Konaleknostas. He congratulates the players and sends them back to Nakmander. 

Nakmander is quite pleased with the group's exploits and rather impressed with their actions in defeating the dragon. He also informs them that in the ancient days of Meroteth, his forefathers attempted to domesticate young dragons to ride them into battle. Once they grew too big to be ridden, they were put into the catacombs to prevent them from endangering the citizenry of Meroteth. 

Edit After The Fact: This is the first scenario in The Rebellion Arc that we use the Pathfinder system instead of 4th Edition. Additionally, Fred's wife decides prior to this session that she no longer wants to participate in our campaign. It is also at this point that Kethranmeer begins to disappear when not doing missions with the group and starts creating his sons by building them out of wolf-iron and springsteel pieces of himself and replacing them with scraps of iron and steel. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - 07: Of Course That Wasn't The End of It

In which an election is rigged and a formerly fat individual is deposed after being mostly ignored.

1st of  Sixthmonth 9995 DK
At some point, for no reason anyone in the group could discern, D'alton removed his pants and began walking the halls of the mansion without pants. Following this display of nudity, the group was called by messenger to The Jigging Jackass to meet with Nakmander.  Upon arrival at the Jackass, Nakmander greeted them warmly and asked them about themselves and what they've been up to and what they've seen in their time. No one was terribly forthcoming with information and Nakmander quickly turned to business. Because the group stole so much money from Nakmander, and because he was paying them a weekly wage, he needed to find a way to make their district profitable. His orders were to find a way to depose the current Governmental Liaison of the area, Phinaeusel the Formerly Fat Vyanth, and institute someone else that they could control and use to siphon money back to the rebellion. 

2nd of Sixmonth 9995 DK
The group began doing research in the area, finding out how Phinaeusel had stayed in power so long, despite keeping the area fairly run down with few amenities. As a means of seeking additional income, and as the fruition of a personal dream, Xein used some of their stolen money to finance the construction of a bar slightly south of the Braun mansion and named it Tesla's Boil. They spent the rest of the day getting information on the district and coming up with, and discarding, plans for how to proceed. 

3rd of Sixmonth 9995 DK
The group receives a messenger from Nakmander and are called to The Jigging Jackass. Once there, they fill Nakmander in on their plans and wonder if he has any suggestions as to who might be put into power as the Governmental Liaison. Nakmander says that they've been using Ko'serra Lem'kals as a means of leverage against Gahz'zarra, which is why he so readily informed Nakmander of the group's heist, and she was an official in Kusseth's government here in Hell and using her might be the best solution. It would bring her closer to the rebellion and potentially offer more leverage against Gahz'zarra, who in turn could be used as leverage against her if she was too strong willed to be controlled through advisers. The group agreed that she would be a good choice, and returned to the mansion to further refine their plans. 

4th of Sixthmonth 9995 DK
The group started out the day by meeting with Ko'serra, she and D'alton shared a somewhat awkward moment as they recalled their past romantic relationship in their youth. Once introductions were made, the group outlined a plan for replacing the current Governmental Liaison with her in the hopes that it would reinvigorate the area and bring it back to its once glorious past. The plan involved spending a lot of money doing good works in her name. She agreed that this was a good plan and offered the group five thousand additional marks to do works in her name. 

After their meeting with Ko'serra, the group hired a construction company to excavate three of the four walls surrounding the district to allow more access to the district so as to attract more passers by and the potential coin they might possess. Following that, they contracted an electrical company to restore electricity to the district. Not wanting to wait, they hired another construction company to build a soup kitchen and flophouse for the homeless and starving of the area. After a busy day of meetings and contracts, they returned to the mansion and sat down to discuss Ko'serra and a possible campaign slogan, coming up with "Ko'serra, A Better Place For A Better Future." That done, they began cleaning up the mansion, which was in pretty rough shape after years of sitting empty. 

5th of Sixthmonth 9995 DK
The group spends most of the day doing home repairs and restocking the mansion with fancy furnishings, when they reached the end of their expertise, they contracted professionals to finish the job.

6th of Sixthmonth 9995 DK
The electric company restored power to the district.

24th of Sixthmonth 9995 DK
Construction crews finished the new tunnels.

30th of Sixthmonth 9995 DK
Construction crews completed the soup kitchen and flophouse.

1st of Seventhmonth 9995 DK
Tesla's Boil opens for business. 

20th of Seventhmonth 9995 DK
In an effort to harm Phinaeusel's effort, John and Derf go out into the night and attempt to waylay some bag men bribing people to vote in Phinaeusel's name. They succeed.

1st of Eighthmonth 9995 DK
The night of the election is at hand, the vote comes in and Ko'serra has won the election. Phinaeusel is officially deposed. Now that Ko'serra is in power, Nakmander and the group come up with the ploy to seed her cabinet with loyal rebels so that they can funnel money from the area's coffers back to the rebellion. The group also laments the fact the Reginald E.C. Walthuler's expedition to the east has probably left by now. 

Edit After The Fact: I believe that Jeff stopped showing up to sessions after the previous scenario. His Sereth rifleman kind of fades into obscurity after this. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - 06: The Heist

In which a bank is robbed and a conveyance's location is questioned. 

19th - 20th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
Travel south.

21st of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
The group arrived at Hell, and seeing that the gate was guarded by wardens and reavers, attempted to get through without being logged, being more or less successful in this endeavor. Though Gidaeon and Kethranmeer were logged. D'alton quickly took charge of the situation and led the group to an old watering hole of his called The Pissing Pony in the 2nd district of Hell. By strange happenstance, he encountered an old friend form his days in the Vanbur'yen Boys youth gang named Gahz'zarra. Gahz'zarra told D'alton things hadn't been great here in Hell and that he'd taken to working for the rebellion as a means of work. Once they exchanged remember whens, D'alton left The Pissing Pony and showed the group to his rowe'dhauss. Once there, he began explaining that he had been sent to prison for botching a robbery on a bank that catered to less than legitimate and morally upright businesses. D'alton attempted, and succeeded, to convince the group that they should try and pull of this heist as a means of sticking it to the government that had wronged them all. 

The group resupplied and restocked from what D'alton had in his rowe'dhauss and determined that the first act of business was to case the bank. The group did so by D'alton and Manwathiel scurrying through the ventilation ducts of Hell to gain entrance into the bank and then having someone ride by the place in the night. After finding everything more or less as it should be, the group decided to go forward with the plans. 

22nd of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
In the morning, the group sought out a leatherworker so that they could procure enough bags to transport their ill gotten gains. During the night, the group sought out the night warden of the district to figure out his patrol route. During the day, D'alton sought out a chemist to confirm the condition of his specially made chemicals that were designed to penetrate the vault's special defenses.

23rd of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
During the day, the group set out to procure the services of a steam wagon so that they could make a swift getaway from their heist.

24th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
Under the cover of night, D'alton and Kethranmeer went out among the youth gangs of the city. Their intent was to foment strife among the youth gangs so as to make a distraction while the group pulled off the heist. D'alton was able to pay the Harr'yson Crew to attack the Line Runners and then was able to convince the Accountants that the Harr'yson Crew was seeking to take out their rivals in a play for power and that they would be coming for the Accountants next. 

25th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
John and Derf were logged while handling contract issues with the steam wagon rental company. 

26th, 27th, 28th, and 29th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
The group laid low in the rowe'dhauss readying themselves for the night of the heist. John and Xein spent some time improving their weapons, Derf mentally readied himself, while D'alton practiced his second story skills.

30th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
The group successfully gained entrance to the bank, despite the bank being vastly different from their eight year old schematics and some protections being new or improved (including a newly installed ventilation system designed to gas any infiltrators). When they penetrated the vault itself, they discovered that the safety boxes the bank held often had mementos that appeared to be of a sentimental nature. Toys, photos, old jewelry of minimal value, along with what appeared to be six reaver armbands, the armbands were interpreted as trophies of kills and killing reavers was a no no in Hell.

D'alton immediately realized that they were stealing from the rebellion, rather than the mob. Already in the middle of it, the group agreed to go through with it and began loading up their leather sacks and looking for the steam wagon. The wagon was late and its location was questioned, luckily it arrived before anything untoward could happen and the group swiftly made way to the rowe'dhauss with their loot in tow. While driving, they realized they had a tail, despite being on foot, that tail was following them via the rooftops to their rowe'dhauss. Xein felt that it was patently ridiculous that an individual on foot could keep up with a steam wagon, nonetheless, it continued following them and powered through the might of his disbelief.

Manwathiel leapt from the wagon and began firing upon the tail, with little effect, and the wagon had to swing back around to pick her up. Eventually the group just rode to their rowe'dhauss and hunkered down. D'alton's alarm systems revealed that Fell Humans, not wardens, were canvasing the sewers searching for something, but had not found them. Not wanting to be backed too far against a wall, the group secured their take and made their presence known, while keeping the rowe'dhauss' location secret. They met with Fell Humans and explained that they had robbed the bank and had no remorse for the act, then demanded that they be taken to the leader of the rebellion.

Not wanting to deal with the group definitively, the rebels brought them directly to The Jigging Jackass into the meat locker basement to meet with Nakmander, Last Knight of Meroteth and leader of the rebels. He stated that he very much wanted the money back. The players stated that they had no intention of returning it. There was much yelling and dick measuring and finally, the group decided to leverage the armbands against Nakmander. They believed that the armbands were proof that the rebels had killed reavers, and even if they weren't, Cenn the Reaver might take it as such and decide to level Hell as he had sworn to do. Nakmander very quietly said that they now worked for him and could consider the money they stole an advance in wages. He also advised them that they should be very careful how hard they push him and keep a close watch on those armbands. 

More or less intact, the group left The Jigging Jackass, and not wanting to lead the rebels back to the rowe'dhauss and their money, they made their way to the 170th district of Hell and went to 742 Evar'grehn Terr'hace, the location of the now derelict Braun family mansion.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - 05: One the Road Again

In which a ghost town and the meteoric curiosities associated with it are discovered.

16th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
The day was spent travelling south while suffering through a persistent, but refreshing, rainstorm. The group once more took their rest in a traveler's roost and John and Xein began their antics for the evening. John successfully loaded his steam rifle with most of Xein's gear and fired it up into the night air. Xein spent most of his watch picking through the surrounding scrub grass collecting his equipment. 

17th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
Upon waking, the group continued following the highway south and reached the outskirts of Tolon a few hours after noon. As they rode closer to the city they discovered the potato fields surrounding the city empty of workers and looking as if they hadn't been tended to in some time. Based on this information, the group elected to approach the city cautiously. They grew more cautious when they found the piggery untended as well and discovered that someone had been disposing of body parts and clothing by feeding the pigs with it, D'alton was extremely unnerved by the situation. Once the group entered the town proper, they found it completely deserted and most of the buildings boarded up or sealed from the inside as if to prevent someone from entering. The group investigated the mayorial residence and warden's office in an attempt to locate dispatches or missives that might indicate what had happened to the town, but there was nothing. The warden's office looked like someone had taken him by force, but everywhere else in the area looked as if people had simply disappeared or fled in the midst of whatever they had been doing at the time. 

Being rather stumped, the group decided to loot the local, and conveniently labeled, general store so that they could resupply and get the Hell out of the ghost town (although no tumbleweeds were in evidence). They found the establishment sealed in some sorcerous manner that they could not force open. As they were doing so they heard yelling nearby and found a Fell Human woman of the city running towards them quite frantically. She explained that her name was Eliza and that the city had been raided by infiltrators from the Fell Peaks and that the citizens still living had taken refuge in secret mine tunnels and sealed up the general store and other affluent establishments to keep the infiltrators from having the run of the place. She also mentioned that she was being chased, this seemed to be true because six infiltrators suddenly leapt from the top of the general store and ambushed the group, albeit poorly and ineffectively (one infiltrator broke an ankle when he fell off the roof). 

Once her "pursuers" were dealt with, Eliza agreed that it was probably a good idea for the group to get out of Tolon and that she would happily head back to the mine and find out the ritual chant to unlock the general store for the group as payment for "saving" her life. Eliza told them to take cover in the partially sealed Red Pheasant inn across the street and she would return the following day. After stabling their horses, Spineplate allowed everyone to climb on top of his shoulders so they could reach the second story window and enter the tavern through it after John blew out the boards with his steam rifle. 

Inside the tavern the group discovered some empty rooms, personal belongings, and the smell of decomposition. On the first floor they found dead men that looked like some sort of explosion or sorcerous discharge had burned them to death, one appeared to be one of Walthuler's postmen with a satchel full of burnt missives. The group looted the place, did a bit of fortifying and settled in for the evening. During the first watch the group was roused by the sounds of their horses dying, and Kethranmeer banging a part of himself against himself. Everyone leapt into motion and exited the tavern to protect their faithful steeds, Manwathiel literally jumped out of a window and over the roof of the stable to save her pony. Infiltrators were once more dispatched successfully, but only Manwatheil's pony was saved. The group returned to the Red Pheasant and attempted to rest for the rest of the evening.

18th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
The following morning, the group was greeted by Eliza at the now open front door of the Red Pheasant, she then let them into the general store where they resupplied and she essentially told them to get going while the going was good. Kethranmeer disagreed, citing the fact that their horses were dead and the infiltrators had made it personal by attempting to kill them twice and strand them in Tolon. He hungered for vengeance. 

The group left Eliza in the city and journeyed to the quarry to see what was going on there and if they might be able to extract some vengeance from any Fell Peaks commandos hanging out there. They did find an encampment of Fell Humans once they reached the quarry at nightfall, but found that there was some manner of sorcery in place the dulled sounds and blurred vision. As they entered the quarry they also noticed a meteor shower in the sky. Once the group crossed through the barrier they found sorcerers engaging in some manner of ritual over an asteroid or meteor or whatever you might call it, it was discovered by the group that sympathetic sorcery was being used on the meteor to affect another similar type of rock somewhere. They also found soldiers executing the citizens of Tolon with grenades and shotguns while they scrambled to escape the pit that would be their tomb. It was soon discovered that Eliza was directing the sorcerous activities and that she had worn a dress because her lower limbs were a mass of tentacles that sprouted bony growths, D'alton also noticed that she wore a black iron bracelet that glowed green intermittently. Kethranmeer became enraged when he saw one of the soldiers drop a grenade into the pit and turn a collection of citizens to pink mist, he charged across the field of battle, his spikes springing out of his body, and slammed into the soldier. The soldier fell into the pit and his allies immediately ganged up on Kethranmeer while everyone else just kind of hung back. Kethranmeer was resilient though and survived his four attackers while the sorcerers and eventually Eliza were dispatched. After the ritual was halted the group saw the falling stars they had noticed earlier come crashing down to the east, very close to Tolon. 

It was at this time that a warden of Tolon climbed out of the pit and approached the group, Xein greeted him happily and he was logged, as was D'alton, everyone else had the good sense to avoid that. Before fleeing the quarry everyone, except Manwathiel, grabbed a horse from the collection of ones the Fell Humans had been using, then they rode like bats out of Hell heading back towards Tolon. Tolon was in fine shape, but as they returned to the highway and continued more or less south they discovered a massive smoking crater in the road and felt the presence of sorcery. There was enough sorcery left clinging to the stones for the group to discover that they had been affected by sympathetic magic, just as the ritual rock in the quarry had been. 

Edit After The Fact: It is at this point in the campaign that we lose Josh as a player and he joins the Navy. Josh's Fell Human engages in seafaring as well and goes on to become a member of Haven's pirate fleets and swiftly rises to power and because the leader of the Orcunraytrel expedition somewhere around thirteen or fourteen years later.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - 04: Kusseth City

In which a theft, a reunion, and a fireworks festival occur in the largest city in The Known World.

5th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
The group entered Kusseth City and Xein immediately made every reasonable attempt possible to get rid of the presence of his time in the clink, even going so far as to get fresh clothes, see a doctor, and waste large amounts of marks on reasonably good quality food. Kethranmeer expressed a desire to see his maker, but had no idea where he lived. The group needed to resupply and Kethranmeer led them around the city to various establishments while also heading in the general direction of a friend, and warden, named Traith Harris. 

Before tracking down Traith the group attempted to find a bank of some kind in the hopes that they could cash the bank notes that they found in the brigand fortress. They found and were logged by bounty hunters at KGoB Branch 76345 and set up accounts in the bank and were paid for their bank notes. After leaving the bank the group did more shopping, John and Xein had the good fortune to stumble upon a mechanics shop and were able to peruse some high tech equipment, John finally purchasing an early model steam rifle and using the mecahnist's facilities to craft some homemade explosive rounds. 

With their shopping done, the group made their way to the 37th district of Kusseth City and Kethranmeer, in his frustration, assaulted the door of a station house. With no response from the station, Kethranmeer led the group east to the 39th district and made a scene in front of an apartment building and finally roused Traith from his home. As Traith, a sickly looking human of probably sixty years of age, began speaking with his old friend a series of gunshots rang out nearby. Traith, irritated by the prospect of work in his off time deputized the group and sent them to investigate after memorizing their citizenry numbers. The group discovered that a trio of karthak had assaulted two junior wardens and were in the process of eating them, the group intervened, killed the canines, and reported back to Traith. Traith used a telegraph and notified A'lst that the group was en route and then sent them on their way.

On their way to the 295th district the group ran into a group of bards and everyone remained fairly civil while the bards extorted marks from the group. After that it was a quick walk to A'lst's warehouse, which was fairly robust in nature and filled with a delightful amount of electrical equipment. A'lst paid everyone a ridiculous sum for escorting his friend home and even gifted Xein with a motorized battery that would run his fancy new sword electrically, rather than kinetically. A'lst expressed a desire to catch up with Kethranmeer and make some repairs on his friend's fairly abused body and the group was open to this, agreeing to return in one week's time to pick up their friend. Kethranmeer said goodbye to the group, D'Alton in particular, and they left. 

On their way to an inn called the Waltzing Warhorse the group heard a young girl crying down an alley and moved to investigate. Gidaeon's immense insight into the behavior and attitudes of humans made him suspicious of the girl's false sounding sniffles. Derf, without any sort of investigation, began throwing rocks at her while Manwathiel scaled the side of a building and discovered a dozen members of a youth gang perched above the cul-de-sac waiting for the unwary to "help" their lure. Manwathiel returned to her companions and everyone agreed that they girl deserved to be raped and that they were going to leave. 

Prior to entering the Waltzing Warhorse, the group encountered a somewhat smug looking soldier in the grey of Kusseth's infantry and were handed a message from their friend and ally Reginald E.C. Walthuler that detailed an account of his travels in the Whurent mountains. Upon entering the inn itself the group was accosted by a slightly bumbling (and malformed) thief. The theft of coin was discovered before the brigand could get away and the group chased him up a flight of stairs and murdered him hardcore, rather than dragging him to a warden or reporting him to one. Following that, the group was charged a ridiculous fee for rooms for the next five days to compensate the owner of the Waltzing Warhorse for damages done to the premises. The group spent the next four days holed up in their rooms together doing nothing. 

14th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
Kussethian Independence Day. Kethranmeer observed the holiday with A'lst, everyone else stayed holed up in their rooms at the Waltzing Warhorse, which is unfortunate because Kusseth puts on a pretty good fireworks show. 

15th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
Group returned to A'lst's warehouse and Kethranmeer, now new and improved and all shined up, rejoined them. After they left the premises of the Waltzing Warhorse, the owner of the inn lodged a complaint with a local warden and charges of murder and destruction of a business' property were added to the data associated with the citizenry numbers of the group (but not Kethranmeer, because he wasn't there). While wandering the city the group encountered Senior Warden Traith Harris and he told them that he was unaware of their involvement with the Beltan prison break and when he reported their presence in his reports an alert was wired to him by the analytical engines of Kusseth's lawmen and he was tasked with bringing them in. He mentioned that bards play nicer when Jack was out and about and that they were friends of Kethranmeer, so he was inclined to give them a head start to escape the city and his jurisdiction. Everyone procured horses and they left Kusseth City. As they were leaving Kusseth, D'alton stole two horses so that everyone had a horse to ride south, except Kethranmeer. The group rode south with no particular direction in mind, but they followed the highway that led directly to Tolon and crossed the River Nantul. In the evening they took their rest at a traveler's roost and waited for Kethranmeer to catch up. Xein and John attempted to one up each other in terms of pranks, but they were both too perceptive to be tricked by the other one's antics. John took the first watch and heard a rumble of thunder to the east. 

Edit After The Fact: I've mentioned logging numbers and such previous to this breakdown of a scenario. For those of you not aware, Kusseth tattoos a ten digit alpha numeric identification number on each of its legal citizens. This code is used to track the actions of most citizens. Most wards in a Kussethian city have only a few routes to enter or exit, so most citizens are logged in their travels around a city by guards and wardens and such. The code has rules and guidelines in my notes somewhere, but basically uses the citizen's race and social class and background and such to identify them and track their movements. The usefulness of this means of tracking is somewhat debatable, but keeping track of all the numbers and storing data on analytical engines creates jobs in the bureaucracy of Kusseth's Wards of Government. I try not to think about Kusseth's government and economy too much, it leads to stroking out.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Rebellion Arc - 03: To Kusseth City We Go

In which underground curiosities are discovered and brigands are lit afire and buried alive.

2nd of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
The group woke up and exited the Cavorting Colt and approached the Kemmel foundry. The group met with an Elduman official from the Kemmel foundry and agreed to seek out an ore transport that has possibly suffered road troubles somewhere between Kusseth City and Kemmel, the group was paid 300 marks to investigate and was promised double that when the foundry received confirmation of the wagon's condition and location. The Group stated that they had intended to travel to Kusseth anyways. Over the course of the day the group encountered no wagons, but found a traveler's roost around nightfall. In the roost, they encountered a warrior named Nakmander, last knight of Meroteth who was disgusted at the half-breedness of Xein and D'Alton, he instructed them to seek Meroteth if they had any pride or desire to learn of their true heritage. Nakmander also gave them a decidedly fell bracelet of black iron that glowed green intermittently.

3rd of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
The night passed peacefully, except for John throwing a few bullets in the fire to wake up Xein. The group arose early in the day, setting out for travel almost immediately. Around noon they heard a cannon being fired off up ahead and saw an indistinct shape on the side of the road up ahead. The wagon turns out to be the wagon they're looking for. The group joins the mine representative Ensel, and the four brothers of the house of Ethel and defend the wagon from an onslaught of Dwenoren that had marooned the wagon with tunnels and explosives. After the battle they are paid and the wagon heads off to Ensel, the group find its way to a traveler's roost and sleeps overnight. Xein creates a clever system of pulleys and ropes that leaves John hanging from the ceiling during the night. It is unpleasant. Kethranmeer stands guard. 

4th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
After another day of travel, the group reaches a traveler's roost after dusk. After a brief discussion they agreed that based on the ability of them all to see pretty well in that dark they decided they should rest for the next twenty-four hours and begin their travels anew at night to avoid the draining heat of the day. They discover that the roost they have taken refuge in is in much better shape than the previous two they stayed at. While moving around and arranging his gear Derf trips over a disengaged tripwire and smacks his face against the stone floor, discovering that part of the floor is actually a wooden board with fake bricks glued to it that conceals a secret shaft cut into the earth. In an attempt to overcome his claustrophobia, Kethranmeer follows the group below. Further investigation reveals that there is a Dwenoren sized complex hidden beneath the roost, somewhat excavated to allow for taller folks to enter it with slight discomfort. The group finds a mix of extremely sturdy Dwenoren construction and shoddily done layman work within the complex, they also find traps and tripwires, many of which are disengaged and no danger. While investigating a mess hall they come across a patrol of Uncout brigands that appeared to be guarding the place, the guards were extremely surprised to find the group in their home and blood was shed. The group finds the end of the hole and finds a loot closet, only managing to open it when Xein cuts it open with his torch, setting off an explosive fire trap in the confines of the small tunnel. As they leave the area and pass an open door they hear the sounds of voices expressing concern about what the Hell happened down here and who killed the guys who were left to guard the place. The group successfully sneaks past the first group of brigands, but immediately finds another in front of them. Xein and Manwathiel jury rig a trap from the remains of the one they set off and some matches and pitch to slow down anyone who follows them, then Derf runs out into the mob of bandits in front of them foaming at the mouth and bellowing like a moose or something. The rest of the group sidles into the room while the bandits are distracted and gets the jump on them. The sounds of battle draw the attention of the first group of bandits, but as they move to investigate they detonate the trap set for them by Xein and Manwathiel. When the battle finishes, Derf and Kethranmeer hold the door closed against the pounding of the brigands behind it and Xein welds it shut. The group safely exits the secret dungeon beneath the roost, but once again they hear voices nearby. They decide to wander outside and face their foes and engage in their most epic battle yet, Kethranmeer and D'Alton very nearly meeting their ends at the hands of their foes. Once they vanquish them they find a key to the loot closet they were forced to cut open earlier. With no more bodies in need of bloodletting before them, the group heaves the bodies down the shaft and closes it up. They continue their twenty-four hour rest period.

5th of Fourthmonth, 9995 DK
The group awakes after nightfall and continues on their travels. Before they get out of eyesight of the roost, a dirigible comes swinging low out of the sky towards them, trailing a rope and steam. Out of the cloud of steam belching from the airship a man swings down off of the rope, he bears a heavy satchel and states that he's an agent of Walthuler and hands D'Alton a rolled up scroll from that gentleman of the same name. D'Alton reads an account of Walthuler's travels in Whurent and the group continues on towards Kusseth City, eventually reaching the outskirts of the shanty town around it. They discover that there is construction on the walls and wardens are making patrols through the shanty town, which indicates that new wards will be built for the first time in two hundred years. They ignore the vendors, bums, and pickpockets and approach the gate. They're only forced to wait for a half an hour, and get to see an unlicensed Fell Human try to enter the city. After being logged by the guards they enter the mighty bastion of law and corruption that is Kusseth City. 

Edit After The Fact: It is at this point that we gain Fred and his wife as players.