Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Blood Like Roses: Season 1, Episode 1, Scene 2

The interesting thing about Swords Without Master is that the Rogues can control how quickly the game ends by adding items to the three Motif Cards. To keep it a little more random, I'll use Miso to determine how many, if any, phrases I can add at a time. Miso will also be used to determine what influences a Tone may have as I create more scene cards.

Sebastian wants to add “Blood colored petals coalesce into a kneeling man,” and “A crystalline rose blossoms in his palm,” to the Motif Card.

Option A: Add both.
Option B: Choose one.
Option A - 1, Option B - 3

1st Motif Card
  • Blood colored petals coalesce into a kneeling man.

Option A: Feral - A Perilous Phase on the streets of the Court of Gaols.
Option B: Insightful - A Discovery Phase in a ward within the Court of Gaols.
Option A - 1, Option B - 5

When this is a Feral Tone,
Option A: and a Perilous Phase,
Option B: and a Discovery Phase,
Option A - 6, Option B - 1

When this is an Insightful Tone,
Option A: and a Discovery Phase,
Option B: and a Rogues Phase,
Option A - 1, Option B - 5

Blood petals emerge from a pool of liberty blue. Sebastian rises from his kneeling position beside a waist high lamp emanating a pale lavender. The room was once part of a hospital ward, lined with rotting beds topped by torn sheets. The entire area has swinging walls of iron to segregate patients from one another.

Moonlight peeks through tattered curtains, showing brief glimpses of empty dark buildings across the way. The sound of desperate wails fill the street below. In the distance, a feral howl cuts the air, temporarily silencing the fearful souls outside.

Overplayer picks up the dice and passes them to Sebastian.

Sebastian rolls for Tone: Feral - 4, Insightful - 5.

Sebastian is ready for the Hunt. The feral beast haunting the Court of Gaols must be stopped. Every moment it roams the streets, the fewer people will survive the night. The whispers carried by the wind would drive anyone mad, even other Hunters.

The closer a person’s mind comes to the Old Ones, the more bestial they become. It was a fine line to walk, knowing and not. Seeing too deeply behind the veil leaves a raving lunatic bent on destruction. Ignoring the haunting whispers, fighting against them, can just as surely lead to a transformation. The Old Ones will fuel their prey’s strength, twisting them into ravening beasts. To be a Hunter was to hear the silent voices and still have the strength to fight back.

Sebastian picks up the dice and hands them to the Overplayer.

Who had the creature been before its transformation?

Hunters walk the line between sanity and madness. Josef was such a Hunter. Within his Dream, he conquered several beasts with pistol and spring blade. But every Hunter may know failure.

Josef had returned to his Workshop to find it burning. The messengers had been banished, their stone basins cracked and destroyed. A sinister bell chimed in the distance, heralding an invasion. The bell chimed again, and Josef saw a figure move within the burning building.

It was human, bleeding with a dull ruddy glow. The invaders hand swept to one side, a long wooden handle extended a heavy serrated blade. The bells chimed again. Another red figure stepped from the burning wreckage. This one bore an immense axe.

One phantom, he could have dealt with. Two? Josef reached into a pocket and produced a small tarry sphere. He swallowed it and felt the primal surge of its contained ferocity run through him. Jose’s sword leapt into his hand as he charged.

But afterward… amidst the burning rubble and vanishing corpses of the two phantoms, a single monstrosity remained. It drew labored breath, clothing ripped and torn and skin marred by several wounds. The deep cuts began to seal as it looked upon the burning Workshop one last time.

A wolf’s head turned skyward and unleashed an anguished howl at the large moon.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Blood Like Roses: Season 1, Episode 1, Scene 1

Borrowing from the Index Card RPG, I think it might be fun to include scene cards with the
sessions. Similar to the Tales from session zero, the scene card will include two suggestions for Tones for a particular phase. They aren’t required to be used, but, if printed and used at the table, could offer some guidance for the setup or a character’s behavior. I will try to scale these to a 4”x7” index card for future printing.

Option A: Feral - A Rogue’s Phase within the Hunter’s Workshop
Option B: Insightful - A Perilous Phase in the Court of Gaols
Option A - 6, Option B - 1

The image comes from the Bloodborne Wiki, credited to Simon Barle.

A rippling puddle of liberty blue spreads across the dark earth of the Hunter’s Workshop. Blood colored petals gather and coalesce into the shadowed shape of a kneeling man, dark cape resting on his shoulders. He stands and takes in the desolate surroundings: a forgotten garden littered with grave markers, an ancient stone building that houses a Hunter’s tools, and the spectral gathering of messenger spirits within stone basins.

Beyond the wrought iron fence that lines the perimeter of the Hunter’s
Workshop, tall spires of stone emerge from an ocean of fog. Bolts of champagne and amber flicker within the mist. A howl cuts through the air from deep below, answered by the call of several others.

Overplayer picks up the dice and hands them to Sebastian.

Show us how you prepare for the Hunt.

Sebastian rolls for Tone: Feral - 4, Insightful - 5.

Sebastian awakens in the Hunter’s Dream, disappointment and determination warring
across his face. Disappointment that he has been called back into the Dream; determination, knowing that there are monstrosities that need to be dealt with. He reaches up and adjusts the leather tricorn, searching for his weapons with the other hand.

The pair of mercurial tonfa rest at his side, his own brand of trick weapon. Each house a
length of chain within the long end, and the shorter sides house the barrels of a pistol.  As with all things in the Dream, the bullets come with a price: his own blood. Blood and silver. The two materials lethal to the beasts locked in the Hunter’s Dream.

He takes a step toward the Workshop; the messenger spirits glance over and call to him,
offering new wares they have for sale for a small handful of Blood Petals. Blood Petals. The remains of those defeated within the Hunter’s Dream. They have a few purposes and can be bartered for items, infused into weapons and replenish a Hunter’s diminishing supply as he takes wounds in battle.

Sebastian shrugs and walks over to the tiny gangly spirits. They don’t speak, not verbally, but
he hears their offers whispering in his mind. His hand reaches out and a crystalline rose of crimson blossoms in his palm. It wilts, leaving red petals resting in his hand. Each of their greedy eyes illuminate with golden light. One nods emphatically and snatches the Blood Petals quickly, leaving behind silver bullets in their place.

He turns and silently walks up the steps into the Workshop. The old stone building is just one
room lined with bookshelves, a fireplace, a workbench and a locker. The place has been used by generations of Hunters before him. Sebastian approaches the locker, feeling the call of the Old Ones from within. Whispers seep into his mind making false promises. He knows their promises are lies, but the runes locked away hold power. Power to destroy the beasts lurking in the Dream.

His first rune, the Old One’s Grasp. A stone with a rust colored sigil written upon its surface.
Eight twisted lengths form an eight pointed star, each line highlighted in a softly glowing ocher; more fuel for his limited ammunition. The next, a polished river stone with a single red line cutting across it, shorter red lines reach down from the first, a pair rising up; the Hunter’s Waters offers protection like a light suit of armor. The last, a runestone with a golden eye surrounded by rays of mud. The Rapture allows Sebastian to recover quicker from battle by infusing him with the blood of a fallen beast.

Sebastian picks up the dice and hands them to the Overplayer.

Show us what waits beyond the grave stone.

The littered streets of the Court of Gaols. Plagued bodies are roughly cast aside
to lie among the gutters. Broken carriages and equally broken horses accompany them. Small bonfires mark tiny areas of inhabitants almost entirely forgotten, alone against packs of ravenous creatures.

One such pack roams the cobblestone alleyways. A small band of people driven
mad being locked within the city’s district. Bloodshot eyes with pupils too far dilated. Blue veins pressing against too tight skin. They howl like feral things, and another responds in kind. Upon a rooftop, a large muscular form with lupine head and obsidian claws stands on two legs.

The Court belongs to him.

Sebastian presses his hand against the cold stone and disappears under a cloud
of rose petals.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Blood Like Roses: Session Zero

I enjoyed Swords Without Master, even playing it solo. Adding a bit of Miso for a simple oracle is a natural fit, since the oracle relies on two options. Swords Without Master provides two seeds via the Glum and Jovial Tones.

Inspired by a post on G+, I realized that this was basically oracle only game play. Instead of pass/fail, Swords Without Master just sets the Tone for the action’s result. Miso provides a pair of options that the Overplayer will randomly narrate. So I’m going to streamline Swords Without Master by removing Heroic Feats and Tricks, so it’s entirely oracle based; I will still use eidolons and simulacra to represent characters and settings, but I won’t have to choose anything other than a Name. Only Tales will have anything further added to inform the overarching Tone of the adventure.

Swords With No Master. Swords Without Master stripped down to just Tone and assisted by Miso. Blood Like Roses is a blend of my favorite video game, Bloodborne, and the artistic style of RWBY.

Ever since seeing the RWBY Red trailer, I was inspired by the twist of turning blood into rose petals. The above image was a still I came across that really captures the Tone for me. She slaughters a pack of werewolves, but the whole scene is just petals floating through the air. Blood Like Roses will definitely be influenced by wuxia, as well.

Bloodborne is Gothic horror with Trick Weapons, which seems a natural fit for RWBY. Gothic horror wuxia seems like a strange combination, but it may turn out to be interesting.

An image I came across of a character named Kyoya Hibari from Reborn. I don’t recall where I found this, but the title of the manga gave me enough information to make him a Grey whose Trick Weapon are tonfa.

His first Tale, The Court of Gaols, is an image taken from Bloodborne’s Hypogean Gaol. It feels like a ward sized sanitorium filled with horrific monstrosities. Which also changes the Tones from Glum and Jovial to the Hunter’s Dream’s Insightful and Bestial. In Bloodborne, the higher your Insight, the more twisted and mad reality becomes as you see the truth; as someone becomes more Bestial, their bodies twist and become monstrous.

And I think that’s the end of Blood Like Roses session zero.

Azaril: Season 1, Episode 1, Final Scene

Overplayer rolls for Tone: Glum - 3, Jovial - 5
Overplayer rolls for Scene:
  • Option A: Rogue Phase, Azaril dashing across a wooded tundra.
  • Option B: Discovery Phase, Azaril in a crowded inn after his escape.
Option A: 2, Option B: 4

The long trek from the Tomb passes through snow covered woods filled with short trees and plains of ice. Mehrunes’ Razor hides beneath the tattered remains of Azaril’s burnt and torn cloak. Hours pass and the sun rises, offering a fair amount of warmth as he returns to Akh’taba’s Fjord, a mid sized town named for the khajiit that first settled here.

Azaril enters The Winter Wall, an inn, for a place to warm himself and get some food to recover from the exertions of the past day. The early morning crowd is filled with refugees from Tamriel, either seeking a warm meal for the day’s start or sharing a drink and trading stories as they pass through. Life in Akavir is chaotic and without the familiar rhythm of civilization.

Shaking snow from his boots, Azaril finds a table close to the kitchen. There are all sorts of people seated at the bar and various tables: elves, humans, a couple of khajiit. His roguish eyes catch sight of a dark robed woman at a table across the way. As she reaches for a mug of a mulled drink, the folds of her robe shift and reveal a blue symbol concealed underneath: three sharp lines covered by a sweeping arc.

Overplayer picks up the dice and hands them to Azaril.

Azaril rolls for Tone: Glum - 4, Jovial - 1

Azaril takes note of the now familiar sigil, keeping his gaze from resting on the woman to conceal his attention. His fingers drum slowly on the table while he waits for his food, ruminating on the past and stitching the few clues he has available. One thing gnaws at him. He had been invisible yet, even before the orb dispelled his concealment, something had known he was there.

He knew that the pull of magicka could attract attention. Summoning something was the most obvious, as the tear into Oblivion was a palpable thing. Illusions, those were subtle. They pooled and flowed around what they were concealing. This other mage couldn’t have sensed him draw magicka to make him invisible.

Azaril reincorporates a Mystery and asks the Overplayer: Who could sense an invisible intruder?

The black clad woman finishes her drink and tosses a few precious septims on the table. Sapphire eyes linger on Azaril a heartbeat too long, then she walks out of the inn.

It couldn’t have been magic that sensed Azaril, but they were senses. The Tsaesci, the Serpent Folk, are part human and part snake. They were cold blooded murderers that had hunted and eaten the previous settlements Uriel had started.

Azaril stares at the door the woman had walked through. There were some that claimed the word “eaten” used by the Monkey Folk meant something else: “assimilated.” The Tsaesci had corrupted the previous settlements and took them for their own.

Who could sense an invisible intruder? A creature whose senses include a sharp sense of taste, forked tongue flicking the cold air…

Friday, December 15, 2017

Azaril: Season 1, Episode 1, Scenes 3 and 4

Overplayer rolls for Tone: Glum - 5, Jovial - 1
Overplayer chooses a Discovery phase.

Azaril enters the large chamber, a meeting hall turned into a dining area. The room is noticeably warmer, heated for the comfort of living creatures. The bright torch light from the hall does little to illuminate the feast hall. Dark shadows gather against a set of double doors set in the wall to his left. An immense crack of shifting ice erupts from behind the door followed by a cold impact on the stone floor beyond.

Overplayer passes the dice to Azaril.
Azaril rolls for Tone: Glum - 3, Jovial - 2

Azaril gazes upon the set of double doors. The chanting seeps into the room from the gap beneath them. He knows that Mehrunes’ Razor lies within the next chamber with the cultists and snow demon. The snow demons emerge annually to visit destruction on the Monkey People of Tang Mo. They have been known to send a fleet to Tamriel in an effort to conquer the foreign land. Each time, they were driven back. With Mehrunes Dagon in power, who knows what would happen should they invade again.

Azaril picks up the dice and hands them to the Overplayer.

The Snow Demons spread destruction across Akavir and have invaded Tamriel before. What does a cold heart desire?

The thawing demon’s chest heaves from within his prison. His eyes burn with fury with the barest glimmer of resignation. He does as he is designed to do: to conquer. He would bring a glacial winter to Akavir. The cult mentioned that there were others, refugees from Tamriel.

The seething demon pins Mehrunes’ Razor under his burning gaze. Mehrunes Dagon. The Daedric Prince had succeeded where they had failed. He needed an army. Allies. He would need to speak with the Serpent Folk, the Tsaesci, and they would conquer Tang Mo. With the strength of three nations, Akavir would take the fight to Mehrunes Dagon; the outcome would bear witness to who would remain in power.

Overplayer ends the Discovery Phase and begins a Perilous Phase.
Overplayer rolls for Tone: Glum - 3, Jovial - 5

3rd Motif Card
  • A Cold Heart’s Desire

I'm experimenting with making the session a little more gamified by adding the two option elements from Bivius and Miso.

The doors open and Azaril creeps in, the floating dagger called Mehrunes’ Razor dangles on unseen strings. The four mages surrounding the blade stand with arms stretched to their sides. Blue lightning dances through the air, connecting them in some magical circle. The massive creature at the end of the chamber, dripping as the thin sheet of ice melts, stares fixedly at the Razor with eyes glowing like burning embers.

Overplayer rolls for the Storm’s actions:
  • Option A: The mages break the circle, sensing Azaril’s intrusion, and attack.
  • Option B: The mages intensify their ward to prevent the Razor from being taken.
Option A: 2, Option B: 2, Tie: Tone changes to Glum (B).
Overplayer picks up the dice.

Azaril senses a building of power; the enhanced senses of the mages detect the approaching thief. The blue lightning intensifies and forms an electrical ward. Two of the mages step away from the circle, pulling their position shut like a curtain.

Overplayer checks for the Storm’s behavior:
  • Option A: The two mages unleash magical attacks on the thief.
  • Option B: The two form defensive wards and pull daggers free.
Option A: 3, Option B: 6
Overplayer passes the dice to Azaril.

The two mages each raise a hand wreathed by cyan energy. The other hand pull daggers from their scabbard. The two stand sentinel in front of their companions.

As a cloak of blue magicka settles around them, one hand burns as it becomes encased with fire. The other channels a pool of amethyst energy into his fist. The air burns with purple fire, a black orb in its center calling a creature from Oblivion.

Azaril steps from the shadows and pulls his own daggers free, circling around the two to keep the summoned creature between him and the fire mage.

Overplayer checks for the Storm’s action:
  • Option A: The conjured familiar launches at Azaril.
  • Option B: The fire mage unleashes a firebolt
Option A: 1, Option B: 4

The fire mage clenched his fist as the magicka reserve fills to capacity. The hand stretches out and sweeps gracefully in Azaril’s direction.

Azaril leaps to one side, inching closer to one of the mages sustaining the ward. The blast of fire sears his side and burns away a patch from his cloak.

Overplayer checks for the Storm’s action:
  • Option A: The conjuror slings an icebolt at Azaril.
  • Option B: The conjured familiar leaps at Azaril.
Option A: 1, Option B: 4

The familiar steps into reality, the black portal snapping shut behind it. A spectral wolf crouches low with a menacing growl. It launches forward and tackles Azaril to the floor, teeth gnashing at his face and neck.

Azaril rolls for Tone: Glum - 4, Jovial - 6

Azaril presses his arm against the surprisingly heavy neck of the spectral wolf. One dagger stabs into the beasts side. The creature cries out in pain and leaps away from the unexpected assault. Azaril snarls and follows through, driving the dagger into the side of the spirit’s neck. The wolf erupts into silent cyan fire and fades back into Oblivion.

The thief slides across the floor and comes up in front of the fire mage. A pair of blades drive into his victim’s legs, and Azaril rises to silence the man’s screams with a vicious slash across his throat.

The conjuror starts to back away, hurling spikes of ice at Azaril. Azaril dances between them, the ice shards slicing and tearing into his cloak. One dagger flies at the mage, deflected by the magical armor encasing him. The armor flares sky blue and shatters with the sound of broken glass. The thief continues to glide forward and his blade pierces the chest of the conjuror.

The remaining two mages, torn between warding Mehrunes’ Razor and self preservation, drop the shield encasing the Daedric artifact. The closest mage brings up her hands, glowing with black fire, to protect herself. Azaril hurls his second dagger, embedding it deep with her shoulder.

The thief continues forward, reflexively snatching at Mehrunes’ Razor as he stalks by. The image’s expression turns to horror as the blade rips across her chest. For a moment, their eyes lock, then she bursts into a cloud of lavender light. Banished.

The remaining mage gapes at where his companion once stood then turns to Azaril before fleeing from the room. Azaril turns away from the retreating man and stares up at the titan in front of him. They stare at each other for a pair of heartbeats. Azaril turns and strides from the room, Mehrunes’ Razor in hand.

The Snow Demon’s eyes bore into Azaril’s back as he leaves with the Razor. More ice cracks and falls to the floor, steam rising from his massive form. He would be ready. Soon...

3rd Motif Card

  • A Cold Heart’s Desire
  • Shatters with the sound of broken glass
  • A cloud of lavender light

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Azaril: Season 1, Episode 1, Scene 2

Overplayer rolls for Overtone: Glum - 4, Jovial - 2
Overplayer chooses a Rogue Phase.

The light of the torches flicker and cast shadows along the wall, leaving the corners dark. The tunnel left turns back to the right as it slopes further beneath the earth. Azaril can surmise the other tunnel mirrors this one, a fork cut into the stone. This dimly lit passage leads to another set of heavy wooden doors banded with rusted iron. Another heave of breath echoes through the corridor, an exerted one, followed by more creaking of thin ice.

Overplayer picks up the dice and hands them to Azaril.

Show us how you sneak into the heart of the tomb.

Azaril rolls for Tone: Glum - 2, Jovial - 2
Azaril is Stymied by a Mystery, and the Tone becomes Jovial.

Azaril opens the door with a gentle creak, slipping between the opening and pulling it shut behind him. The torch light gathers intensity, leaving few shadows for the thief to use. He draws magicka from the world around him and cloaks himself, rendering Azaril almost entirely invisible. The dark elf sneaks through the passage, hearing voices echoing down the hall.

The corridor wraps around itself, showing a passage ahead that mirrors this one. A pair of doors are on either side of each tunnel, then the corridors expand into a large room. The voices come from this chamber. Azaril creeps along the bright hallway as quiet as possible, pressing an ear against the door on the left. More voices mutter conversationally behind the tanned mahogany.

There would be no easy way through this for a thief.

“What’s wrong?” a woman’s voice asks.

Azaril pauses, listening to the voices from the chamber ahead.

“I sense...,” comes a man’s reply. A starlight blue glows from the chamber ahead. “Go. Investigate.”

The heavy steps of armored boots come toward the tunnels, an orb of starlight following behind. A dark haired human in gleaming armor comes into view; a pair of swords pried free of their scabbards. Azaril wills himself into complete stillness. The orb hovers above the woman’s shoulder then sweeps into the hall. The burning orange of the torchlight mingles with the blue, illuminating Azaril in an aura of orchid purple.

“Thief!” she cries, striding confidently forward with her blades set in a fighting stance.

Two doors open as more armed cultists step into the hall. Azaril pulls his daggers and throws one while they process the situation. The blade strikes a man in the temple, felling him instantly. As he pries another dagger from his bandolier, the woman swings narrowly missing Azaril’s neck and scratching a furrow into the wall.

The thief backed further into the hall to control the number of enemies he had to fight at once. A second dagger flies from his hands and strikes another cultist over the warrior’s shoulder. The cultist clutches at his chest, blade protruding at the base of his neck. The woman presses further, swinging both of her blades in a dizzying display of prowess. Small cuts and tears open beneath her whirling swords, Azaril pushed further back into the hallway as tiny cuts begin to appear and trickle blood.

His back strikes the wall, offering him only two choices: to flee and head back from where he came, into the cold and snow, or to fight like a cornered beast. Azaril pulls his final dagger free from its bandolier with a determined sneer. If this was the will of the Night Mistress, so be it.

Azaril dove forward and shouldered the warrior to one side. He came to his feet between the remaining two cultists in front of him and the warrior behind. A dervish of whirling daggers, his blades snaked out and scratched into the two unarmored men in front of him. The woman parried some of the light blows and allowed others to strike ineffectively against her armor. The cultists, taken aback, gave a little ground, fighting and retreating beneath the quick thrusts and slashes.

Azaril was spurred on by more cuts opening on his back and shoulders. The warrior almost matched his speed with her swords. He stabbed into the foot of one cultist, driving the other dagger up through his chin as he screamed in agony. The thief spun and hurled one of his two remaining daggers into the final cultist’s eye; he spun and fell to the floor. The woman smiled. She had the advantage of reach and felt confident that Azaril only had the one knife left.

He met her smile with grim determination, ducking and weaving beneath her swings. He waited patiently, like a hunter waiting for opportunity. She had grown too confident. And, presently, the opportunity presented itself. The woman performed a perfect paired double flourish with her swords; Azaril watched as the blades completed their circles and opened her side. He struck, one hand pushing against her shoulder, the dagger coming up and beneath her shoulder.

She gasped, her rhythm interrupted. Azaril pulled the dagger free, using a foot to kick her free, then dove on her again, stabbing into her neck. He pulled the dagger free again and stabbed once more. Blood pooled beneath her as blood leaked from her neck and shoulder wounds. Her pained eyes locked with his accusingly.

Azaril adds a Mystery: “Who could sense an invisible intruder?”

1st Motif Card
  • A tapestry with black field and ice blue sigil.
  • A crack in a prison.
  • A quick staccato of three stabs.

2nd Motif Card
  • A dervish of whirling daggers.
  • The will of the Night Mistress.

Azaril picks up the dice and passes them to the Overplayer.

Show us what Daedric artifact the cult has discovered.

Within the heart of the tomb a pillar of moonlight strikes a silver blade. It floats and spins gently upon etheric wind. Four cultists stand at the cardinal directions, muttering incantations. Daedric script glow along the blade as pulsing red energy cascades through them.

The chanting intensifies, and one name is heard above the words, “Mehrunes Dagon.”

Overplayer passes the dice to Azaril.

Show us what Mehrunes Razor means to you.

Azaril rolls for Tone: Glum - 4, Jovial - 5

Mehrunes Dagon. The Daedric Prince of Destruction. The Daedric Prince that brought Oblivion to Tamriel.

Azaril clenches his fingers tightly into a fist. If the Septim line hadn’t been exterminated, the gates of Oblivion would have been sealed. The exodus would never have happened. They would be home in Cyrodiil, not in some land where every species hunted them. The Tsaesci had destroyed the last of the settlements back in the Third Era.

Mehrunes’ Razor. A dagger that could slay any creature, sometimes with just a scratch of its Daedric blade. If the Night Mistress blessed you with good fortune, any manner of creature could be killed with a single strike. As well, any creature slain by the Razor had its soul sent to Oblivion.

When the Dragonborn Emperor rises and rekindles the Dragonfires, the barrier between Oblivion and Mundus would return. Anything the Razor killed would be trapped on the other side. In Oblivion. Mehrunes Dagon could be banished.

Azaril passes the dice to Overplayer.

Show us the nature of the cracking ice and heaving breaths.

Within the Razor’s chamber, a titan stands. He resembled a Nord but three times the height of a human, heavily muscled with spines of glacial ice erupting from his back and a long beard in multiple braids. Thin sheets of ice cover his cold blue skin.

The titan takes a breath, ice creaking against his muscular form, seeking to keep him trapped. As he exhales, the muscles flex and press against his icy prison and more shards of crystal fall away from his body. Again, he breathes, mist billowing from his nostrils as he grows warmer, and more ice crumbles to the floor.

Each year, the Snow Demons thaw and raid, sometimes reaching as far west as Tamriel...

2nd Motif Card
  • A dervish of whirling daggers.
  • The will of the Night Mistress.
  • The Daedric Prince of Destruction

Azaril: Season 1, Episode 1, Scene 1

I wasn’t quite feeling the sci-fi vibe this past week. I think I just need to shift into something different. Something different came along earlier in the week in the form of Swords Without Master. While designed for three or more players, I figured I’d see what it’d be like to play solo. I’ve been playing a lot of Morrowind and Skyrim lately, which might explain why I wanted to do Akavir. It’s largely unexplored but frequently referenced in the games.

This is a Son of Svanir from Guild Wars 2 (taken from Kekai Kotaki’s tweet), but it might make a good Snow Demon from Kamal. A Nordic goliath with ice spikes? Kind of makes sense to me. Which gave me the title for this Elder Scrolls: Akavir adventure, “A Cold Heart’s Desire.” Swords Without Master allows for “tales” that can modify how particular actions take place, hence the “Tale of Dark Magic, Fabulous Treasure and Savagery” tag. I’ve resized the eidolons and simulacra to be roughly 5” x 7” in the event I decide to print them onto actual index cards.

Mehrunes Dagon destroyed the Septim line. Without a Dragonborn Emperor on the throne, the gates of Oblivion opened across Tamriel. Like two puddles, the two worlds slowly become one. A great many people fled the continent and dared to sail east to Akavir.

Two hundred years has passed since Uriel V invaded and was driven back by the Tsaesci, the serpent people of the far east. The fleeing folk of Tamriel found safer harbor in Tang Mo with the assistance of the Monkey People. The northeastern steppes and plains belong to the Tiger Empire of Ka’Po’tun. To the north and west is Kamal, land of the Snow Demons.

As Tosh Raka, the greatest of the Tiger People, discovered how to become a Dragon, the remaining Blades hope that, one day, another Dragonborn Emperor will rise. Once discovered, the Dragonborn may yet recover the Amulet of Kings and “close shut the jaws of Oblivion.”

Thus, the Blades and a scant few adventurers brave the wilds of Akavir, searching for a new Dragonborn Emperor. With Akaviri steel, the smiths forge weapons and armor in preparation for war. With rumor of Daedric artifacts to be found, one worshipper of Nocturnal braves the glacial tombs of Kamal…

Azaril Rallis is my character in both games: a dark elf mage thief which I’ve called The Thief of Dreams. While Swords Without Master uses Glum and Jovial as Tones, I modified them to Calculating and Reckless to better remember how Azaril behaves during the Glum and Jovial Tones. During Glum scenes, he can be cold, calculating, so his ability reflects that by having him assassinate someone from the shadows; during Jovial scenes, he’s more reckless, reflected in his ability to dance between multiple targets. For his one Trick, it’s the ability to demand a stealth related scene. While the image is just a dark clad hooded thief with gold accents, I kind of like it more than the basic Nightingale armor present in Skyrim. If I had any artistic talent, I might have edited the Nightingale set to suit. I don’t actually remember where this image came from, other than he’s a character from the Elder Scrolls Online Trailer.

The text in italics are the game mechanics; bold is the Overplayer’s (GM’s) voice; and normal text is Azaril’s.

Overplayer rolls for Overtone: Glum - 5, Jovial - 4
Overplayer chooses a Perilous phase.

The sun sets behind the line of mountains to the west, leaving the Tomb of K’mo’dia bathed in icy blue light. Icicles hang from the stonework framing thick wooden doors. The packed snow crunches underfoot as Azaril slowly plods toward the grave’s entrance.

The thick doors swing open, aided by the biting wind that brings a promise of more snow. The smooth stone floor is carpeted with a thin sheet of ice, a narrow slope leading down to the first tier of the tomb. Carefully, Azaril makes his way down the corridor and comes into a chamber with a tunnel to either side of him.

Torches spread their light, illuminating the stone room. A single tapestry hangs ahead of Azaril, black field with ice blue sigil spread across it: three upright wedges with a graceful arc above. A stone slab is supported by two more forming a rudimentary table which is covered with blood stained cloth.

The crack of ice shifting echoes from down the tunnels accompanied by a deep heaving intake of breath.

Overplayer picks up the dice.

A pair of robed Bretons walk up from the left hand hall, black robes lined in ice blue to match the hanging standard. Beneath deep cowls, their eyes settle on the dark elf, taking in the sight of Azaril’s ash colored armor with daggers wrapped across his chest. An intruder…

Overplayer passes the dice to Azaril.

One of the figures pulls a dagger from the folds of his robe; the other raises his hands. Azaril senses the pull of magicka flow toward the mage. The mage’s hands ignite and become wreathed in fire as the dagger wielding figure steps forward, preventing Azaril from reaching the spellcaster.

Azaril draws a pair of daggers from their place against his chest and steps behind the table to prevent the mage from targeting him with whatever spell he is casting.

The dagger armed man follows, stepping toward the wall with the hanging banner as the mage inches closer to the tunnel entrance. The foremost man comes around the table and thrusts his dagger at Azaril.

Azaril responds by stepping in and blocking the thrusting hand with his wrist, wrestling for control and position.

Azaril struggles with his assailant, the two evenly matched in strength. The cultist grabs Azaril’s free hand, leaving the thief with his off hand against the cultist’s strong hand. The mage haughtily steps around the other side of the table, afforded a profile view of the grapple, and spreads long fingers toward Azaril.

Azaril rolls for Tone: Glum - 2, Jovial - 6

The thief kicks at the shin of the Breton holding his wrist and flips the dagger in his off hand into a reverse grip. He slashes upward, slicing the grappler’s wrist, then traces a line across the cultist’s throat. The cultist gurgles and gasps, reaching up to his neck as air fails to fill his lungs.

Azaril swiftly drops into a crouch as a sheet of fire scorches the air above the table, burning the banner. He closes his eyes and listens, waiting for the hiss of fire above his head to stop. As the magicka fades, Azaril rises and vaults over the table, stabbing into the mage with his daggers. A quick staccato of three stabs into the chest from alternating fists ends him.

Azaril passes the dice to the Overplayer.

The air is filled with another shift of ice, another crack in a prison. While the black and blue standard burns and falls to the floor.

1st Motif Card
  • A tapestry with black field and ice blue sigil.
  • A crack in a prison.