Monday, February 26, 2018

Tiny Frontiers: Laneira #4

It occurred to me that the first chapter could be tied up quicker. Looking at it from an editorial point of view, I realized it'd take five scenes to explain what happens in this scene instead of just doing it here...

Icon for Hire, “Make a Move,” “Only a Memory,” “Supposed to Be”

A pool of blood lies frozen under the body of Brencia the Last. Visemar, suspended, a blazing sword arcing down at Laneira’s shield. The confident First Grey stands aside, watching.

“Delenn, huh? Didn't think you'd watch my B5 archive,” Fetu's voice is loud in the near silence; the music still plays quietly in the background.

“Not a good time,” I respond, pulling away from Visemar’s assault. “Besides, it's easier to say.”

I tear my eyes from the charred metal holding a flaming sword and glance at the other two.

“Don't know if I'm ready, but I wanna move on…”

“What’s going on?”

“I've never said that before…”

Fetu clears his voice. “D, Brencia was kind of important.”

I look over at Visemar, seething with anger, “Ya think?”

“That’s not what I-”

Visemar’s eyes flare a goldenrod hue and focus on Laneira, then… he vanishes. The dark metal grew fuzzy, indistinct, and, like ink in water, simply dispersed in a cloud of shadow.

“That’s… Fet, how?”

“I don't know. I didn't see it.”

But I knew.

“Look back on what I'm going through. This isn't my identity…”

Napana. Vince has a reputation. He's a one man assault team. Why? Napana, the spirit of fire and reflection, smoke and mirrors. Cultivated through research, trial and error, not like the accidental bond Delenn and I share. He could take one bullet, and she would multiply that four, six, ten times.

When Vince is pissed, really pissed, he says, “Fuck it,” and Napana reflects him just as easily. Imagine a soldier copied several times over with the singular task of murdering you. That's Vince and Napana working in concert, and I'm the only living person that has seen it. I think that's about to change.

“Make me better, I can't stay halfway dead forever…”

Perception Test at Disadvantage.

Player rolls Standard Test with Disadvantage for Perception: 2

From behind Laneira, an edge lined with fire cuts a wound across her arm. Roll a Standard Test for Perception and to resist harm.

Laneira takes 2 points of damage  (:30 minutes to midnight)

Player rolls a Standard Test to resist harm: 1, 2
Player rolls a Standard Test for Perception: 2, 6

The force of the thrust spins Laneira around; off balance, she trips and falls to the ground. However, she notices Visemar bleed back into invisibility. A heartbeat later, he reappears above Laneira’ s prone body.

“Getting so close, I can taste the hope, but I still feel the fear…”

My mind races as I see Visemar vanish then reappear. He knew. He knew the entire time, and memories from another lifetime press forward.

“If you do that, I do this. Then a line of fate is cut,” I had told him. “We collapse all avenues until only one remains. Their death.”

He wasn't copying himself. He was Skipping, cutting lines of fate until his opponent felt overwhelmed and simply… died. Two can play this game.

“Fet, get ready…”

Player rolls Standard Test with Advantage for melee: 1, 2, 3

Laneira vanishes from beneath the falling Visemar. She reappears above him, close to the ceiling, and blue white wings unfurl to catch her. As she aims Delenn at her target, he vanishes again, materializing beside her, sword reaching forward.

“to pull…”

Player rolls Standard Test with Advantage for melee: 2, 2, 6

Centuries of combat experience has prepared her for battles like this. Laneira disappears and returns in a crouch beneath the outstretched Visemar. Her pistol echoes within the chamber, a bullet piercing his armor and chest.

Visemar takes 2 points of damage (:30 minutes to midnight)

“me out.”

Fetu rolls Standard Test for hacking: 4, 4

“Got it. Might take a minute to do it safe.”

Visemar evaporates and emerges next to Laneira, his sword swinging in an arc cutting at her neck.

Player rolls Standard Test with Advantage for melee: 1, 3, 4

I barely manage to avoid the attack. Enough that I don't have a long cut across my throat, at least. I take the slice across my cheek when I duck to find a firing position. The second bullet is not as effective as the first, only scoring a glancing hit against his leg.

Laneira takes 1 point of damage (:15 minutes to midnight)
Visemar takes 1 point of damage (:15 minutes to midnight)

Visemar’s eyes blaze with anger, and he Skips forward, recklessly thrusting the sword toward Laneira’s chest.

Player rolls Standard Test with Advantage for melee: 4, 5, 6

I smile as I receive Visemar’s charge. I roll back and kick out with one foot, halting his advance. Braced against my leg, his head angling down toward mine, I meet his burning glare with my level one. Delenn aimed squarely at his visor.


The world goes black. Laneira quickly pries the helmet off her head and cable from the interface jack. Gathering her bearings, she notices a figure dressed in charred mithril with fiery ribbons for wings leaning against the door frame. A taut, thin pillar of fire burns over his shoulder and fills the small apartment with the muted roar of a foundry.

“Wake up,” he says, a parent coaxing a child from sleep. “We got work to do.”

“Who am I supposed to be? You're only a memory…”

Friday, February 23, 2018

Tiny Frontiers: Laneira #3

This was a challenge to write. Not because I’m out of ideas, but because I have too many of them. Once I realized the nature of Laneira, I started forming a plot. Then I realized I was switching from gaming to writing. Initially, I thought of ending her story arc and moving on to prevent her from getting railroaded, but, after some consideration, I’m thinking it may be a sign her first chapter is closing and chapter two should begin. I’m thinking between five to ten more scenes.

Icon for Hire, Make a Move

Two angelic women dressed in bronze and leather stand within arm’s reach of each other; hoplon shields gripped tight in preparation. The yellow sun shines down on the green meadow marked with a single hill. A small cave leads down into the depths of the earth beneath it. Trees form a fence around the perimeter, secluding this tiny emptiness from the rest of the world.

“Sisters, please.”

The two figures turn toward the cave, the origin of the woman’s voice. She’s a study of contrast: where the two warriors are lean, athletic and armed for battle; the newcomer is tall, voluptuous and wearing a thin flowing gown. Her hair is slightly more auburn; her eyes, a deeper shade of green.

“We are-”

“-NOT sisters,” I growl, made the more annoyed that Brencia the Last answered as I did.

“‘Cause everybody’s so scared. We don’t wanna go there...”

The delicate Brencia the First snorts, “We should talk,” and turns back into the mouth of the cave. Polite command versus polite request.

“Screaming in the dark while we just play our part…”

Brenica the Last scowls at her back, muttering, “We have nothing to talk about.”

“I’ll play right along like I don’t know what’s going on…”

I glance at her then make my way toward the familiar cave. Brencia follows my lead, her anger shifting from my intrusion to the object of her hatred.

The cave turns from earth to stone work steps that spiral gently down into a chamber beneath the mound. An immense statue of a raven with wings spread, tips brushing against the vaulted ceiling, stands furthest from the stairs. A stone altar supports the still form of someone dressed in anachronistic plate armor of charred mithril.

“Somebody make a move…”

Brencia the Last turns her surprised gaze from the figure on the altar and fixes the First with a burning glare.

“This is wrong!” she says, voice low and seething.

“Somebody make a move…”

Her empty hand flexes and pulls her spear from Elsewhere. Booted steps strike hard against the stone floor as she closes the distance between them.

“No, this is how it has to be,” the First calmly replies.

“Please, somebody make a move…”

“Wait,” I step deeper into the chamber and approach the other two. “Maybe she kno-...”

“We all know. We all know what’s going on…”

I try to tune out the intruding song.

Brencia the First smiles arrogantly, “Finally, a voice of reason.”

Pointing my fingers, the problem still lingers…”

Brencia the Last glowers, “I have nothing to say to you, bitch. I kill you; none of this happens; and Visemar is free.”

“Killing me will doom him.”

“They keep getting bigger, and I hold the trigger…”


And everything happens so quickly in slow motion. I see Brencia the Last lift her spear to lance The First Grey. Instinctively, I call to Delenn and the Thunderbird materializes in my hand.

Brencia the First looks on, unconcerned. Brencia the Last leaps at her, spear stabbing toward her target. The First shifts her eyes from her assailant and focuses on me. And I pull the trigger.

“Playing with fire, I live like a liar…”

Fetu's voice cuts in too late, “D, wait!”

The Thunderbird claps with an explosion of thunder and brass. The .50 caliber pierces the bronze shell of Brencia’s helmet; the Last lurches and falls lifeless to the stone floor inches from the First.

Instantly, the air snaps as a fiery blade springs to life, the charred visage of Visemar swings down on Laneira. One moment, he was lying on the altar; the next, he is in motion. His eyes burn a dull orange from the shadow of his angular visor.

A wireframe of glowing azure envelops Delenn, the pistol flares white and reconfigures into a xiphos; my shield comes up to intercept the incoming attack.

My voice is distant and desperate, “Fet, pause it!”

The world grinds to a halt. The only movement are tongues of fire licking the air from Visemar’s sword and the orange ribbons frozen behind him like tattered wings. Brencia the First, statuesque, her regal and elegant form still watching Laneira confidently. Echoing in the stillness of the air,

“Please, somebody make a move…”

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Tiny Frontiers: Laneira #2

Icon for Hire, Supposed to Be

An alert chimes within the cockpit; an incoming communication from Captain Novari aboard The Light and Dark.

“Yes, Captain?”

“Commander, looks like I’m delegating a task to you. I’m sending a Skip Boost your direction. Send the rest of the squadron back to the ship.”

Curious. “What’s the task?”

“Seem like someone wants to speak with the Starborn Collective. I’d rather not do it, so…”

Thanks. “Understood, Captain. Who am I meeting?”

“A human. Brencia the Grey. She’d like to acquire land rights in, as she calls it, The Raven Woods.”

My heart skips a beat; I let the information sink in until it picks up again. “Got it.”

Brencia. Acquiring land rights. I guess this would be Brencia the First, preparing her little empire with the founding of The Rook. I turn my attention back to the task at hand.

The thing I like about space? Getting deliveries is easy. Just put material into a rail cannon and fire it off in the direction you want it to go. The Light and Dark is doing just that, sending out a sub engine that will allow me to use the Skip Relay Network.

Laneira pilots her fighter toward the delivery point. From beyond Waka’i 3, a cannon’s payload rapidly approaches from her flank. Laneira match speeds; the Skip Boost harness settles into the clamps along the back of the craft. Twin engines light green on the console as the device comes online.

Skipping is a technology the Starborn had reverse engineered a couple centuries ago. It kind of works like quantum tunneling and entanglement with superposition. The quick explanation: The Skip Engine activates and uncouples me from the Universe. It finds the nearest, most likely result of trajectory and reintroduces my craft there.

Skip Boosts are still bounded by relativity. The further out I travel, and the faster I move, the greater the time dilation. Very important for a pilot to maintain a level head, especially in combat. Equipped with one of these, combat elevates to a different level. A panicked pilot may inadvertently Skip an immense distance and find themselves lost. Stranded. Or worse.

Laneira’s fighter transfers power to the engines on her back. What an outside observer would see is the craft growing fuzzy, indistinct. A beam of piercing energy flies toward the system’s Skip Relay then she disappears.

In an explosion of star light, Laneira rematerializes near her destination. The Relay appears as an immense rectangular ship. The bow is split like a tuning fork, large enough for the most immense battle cruiser to slip between. The Skip Engines communicate, sharing details of composition and locations. A green light flickers, and Laneira takes her place between the alien metallic arms.

And this is what I see as the Skip Relay powers up. The nose of the fighter becomes blurred. Copies of my ship appear above, below then surrounding me as my delicate grip on reality becomes equally indistinct. Then… darkness.

Travelling faster than light is rather hollow. Light blue shifts and lengthens. For the briefest instant, the stars ahead turn from pinpoints to streaks. Then they shift into a spectrum I can’t physically see. Except for the destination. That appears ahead of me as a tiny hole in the darkest tunnel.

As I exit at the other end of the network, the Skip Relay’s shields power up. Another fact about faster than light travel: the bubble surrounding the craft builds heat. When you exit and the bubble collapses, that heat goes somewhere. In this case, a cloud of plasma shoots forward at the Relay; the shield intercepts and begins leeching the energy, turning it into fuel for its own use. A self contained system.

“Tell me who I’m supposed to be now; make me better…”

A miniature comet streaks by. The ship’s systems casually scan it: a tiny parcel of organic matter heading toward the third planet.

A sinking feeling as pieces begin to fit together. I engage the Skip Boost and head toward The Broken Land, our name for the third planet. As humans expanded their reach; we retreated further until becoming an almost entirely space faring species.

“Can you fix this? Am I too far gone? I’ve never done this before…”

Nearing the planet’s single moon, the craft and comet are flying at matching speeds. The figure in the angelic nimbus glances over as four objects peel away and take shape around her.

“Fet, I want to talk to her, and I’m in a weaponized machine.”

“I can’t just rewrite the software you’re making, D,” he replies. “There’s a certain finesse that… Hold on.”

Fetu rolls a Standard Test for hacking: 2, 5
Laneira’s Trait “born to fly” overwritten with “voltaic angel of retribution.”

“I don’t wanna be stuck; I don’t wanna be crazy…”

“Best I can do. You might experi-”

Burning. It feels like a fever. At first. Then hot. Like searing heat. Then agonizing as every cell in my body explodes with fire. The craft around me burns to ash as I’m enveloped by a skin of pure energy. Flaming wings burst and spread from my back, electrical feathers touch the void.

The four conjured artifacts turn to ash; their light extinguished. The two angelic forms spiral down to the surface of The Broken Land. Their impact leaves small craters that crack the ground beneath them.

Brencia the Last rises, clad in a bronze cuirass and leather skirt, the hoplon gripped firmly. Her eyes burn with anger from beneath her Corinthian helm.

“What have you done?!” she screams.

“I fear, now, there’s not much left of me; when you take the sick away, who am I supposed to be?”

Monday, February 19, 2018

Tiny Frontiers: Laneira #1

Icon For Hire, Only A Memory

The loading area is a starless void carpeted by luminous glaucous fog. Fetu's voice emanates from the darkness.

“This VIU Point is a little different. I took some of the safeguards offline so your subconscious has more control over the module. Gonna buffer it about seven to ten seconds so I can check for problems. That's why the long loading screen.”

“So we're playing with my brain. How's that work?”

“Easy. It watches your activity and interprets what you're thinking into constructs.”

“You're reading my mind?”

“Well, yeah, that's how VIU Points work, yeah? No worry though, your activity is encrypted.”

“Wait. You're recording these?!”

“How else is the software gonna adapt?”

“Fetu. When I get out, I'm going to fuc-”

“Whoa. Hey. Look. It's encrypted ,’k? Besides, you're like a sista. That'd be like me thinking about my mom.”

“That's… just… no. You know what? Nevermind. Every VIU client is recorded?”

“You got it. Some things I seen? Twisted. Vince seems pretty clean.”

“Vince doesn't play games.”

Fetu fell silent for a couple heartbeats. “VIU Point done. Injecting.”

The void was lit by glowing outlines. Panels of white flickered among them, taking more tangible shapes and fading into a variety of colors.

Ha’ Fo’thi to’ha Ki’o Waka’i Mia
“The Flames of the Sapphire Sea”

The system got its name when the fleet arrived and was greeted by the blue star. Ki’o Waka’i has four planets orbiting around it. K’io Waka’i 3, later called Torrid Wind and Stone, would be colonized shortly after. Waka’i 3 has two moons, little more than orbiting asteroids trapped by the planet’s gravity.

The scene stabilizes. Seated behind a window of what seems to be shatterproof acrylic, D’s transfer completes. Buttons and switches line either side of the cockpit; a fist sized hemisphere of obsidian in front. A voice interrupts.

“Nalu’ta. Thi’ra’wo ni’ wa’setnali.”

Elvish. Fortunately, I grew up speaking it, so I don't need the translation routines to assist.

“Ya’nala,” I reply absently. I use the faint light of the console and buttons to take a closer look at my features.

A familiar face looks back. Sequoia hair pulled into a braid with moss colored eyes. Her uniform is reminiscent of brown and grey leather, though more militant with the insignia of Commander on her collar. Ageless, Laneira seems somehow younger looking out from her reflection.

The hemisphere flares to life. A miniature replica of the blue star, the cockpit is bathed in blue white light. The viewport dims and becomes slightly opaque. Superimposed over the view of Waka’i 3 above, prediction lines spring to life. Nine icons illuminate in response, burning phoenix emblems displaying the position of the 1st Defense Squadron arrayed around her. Three flights of three Predators under Laneira’s command: Dawn, Sunset and Midnight.

Ten elven warmachines lift off from the moon’s surface. The preliminary scans only show one enemy Devourer Spawn, but it was immense. The squadron moves as a single unit, switching from their humanoid warmachine mode to angular fighters. A quiet melody plays around Laneira.

“Fet?” I ask. “Why is there music playing in the background?”

“Dunno. It’s your brain, not mine. I just see music; didn’t look dangerous.”


Daikaiju class Spawn

armored plating, bioelectric discharge, born of rage, carapace, energy reserves, environmental healing (aetheric), lashing tentacles, massive evolution, regeneration, unstoppable mountain

17 HP, 8 Energy

The massive spawn is one of the largest created by the Devourer. A formless shape of dark tentacles that could rival the size of most buildings. A scattering of luminous green eyes stare out into the void, scanning for any kind of life nearby it can consume.

“Dawn, I need you to take point; Sunset grab one of its flanks. Midnight, we’ll gain position and open fire when it’s over extended.”

Three affirmatives come over the comms, mirrored by three phoenix sigils turning green. Dawn flight continues forward, and Sunset veers off at what could best be determined as its rear. Midnight skims down to get beneath the thing; transforming back into the warmachine configuration. The chorus of the song cuts in, softly filling the cockpit with lyrics.

“I will not bend until I break; how much can one bruised body take? Just not enough to silence me; you’re only a memory…”

“Whatever,” I mutter, also switching over to warmachine configuration and freeing the main cannon.

Dawn begins the assault and opens fire with their pulse lasers, emitting streaks of emerald fire that cycle at a rate measured in hundredths of a second. The energy beams lance across the dark skinned thing; the heat evaporating portions of its flesh.

Daikaiju takes 2 damage (15 HP remaining)

The spawn’s luminous eyes increase in intensity; yellow green electricity arcs between its tentacles. A storm surges outward and carves a path toward Dawn.

Dawn rolls a save with Advantage from Agile Dodge: 1, 1, 2

The lightning overtakes the flight and bioelectric energy surges through their systems. Dawn’s propulsion systems flicker and stall. The monstrosity’s tentacles whip out toward Sunset as they sweep by.

Sunset rolls a save with Advantage from Agile Dodge: 2, 2, 5

A tentacle seizes one of the passing ships and pulls it towards the roiling mass. A gaping maw lined with pearlescent teeth opens along its side.

Sunset rolls a Standard Test for melee: 3, 5

The flight members quickly switch to their humanoid forms; green energetic blades form in their hands. They hack into the tentacles holding the captive fighter. The blades burn through its flesh, even as the teeth gnash down on the crippled fighter.

Daikaiju takes 2 damage (13 HP remaining)

“I’ll scream these words ‘til they come true, then I will think no more of you. Look back on what I’m going through; this isn’t my identity…”

I take my time, kicking a leg forward to use its thrust to slow my momentum. I rest an elbow on a crooked knee and fire my rail cannon into its underside.

Midnight follows Laneira’s lead, taking aim with their rail cannons and adding the weight of their metallic slugs to hers.

Daikaiju takes 3 damage (10 HP remaining)

With Dawn temporarily out of commission, the spawn focuses its attention on the two warmachines circling it. The luminous green eyes lock on to one of the elven warriors and swings a massive tendril toward it.

Sunset rolls a Standard Test for melee: 6, 6

The two remaining members of Sunset flight thrust back and spiral around, weaving dangerously close to the approaching limb. Their green blades dart out and trace incisions along its length.

Daikaiju takes 2 damage (8 HP remaining)

“You’re only a memory; this isn’t my identity…”

We complete our deceleration and continue offering supporting fire with the rail cannons.

Daikaiju takes 3 damage (5 HP remaining)

The rail cannons meets with some resistance until a portion of its hide cracks; shards of blackened bone erupt into space followed by sprays of dark fluid after the slugs start tearing into it. The now familiar green arcs dance along its tentacles, directed toward Sunset.

Sunset rolls a save with Advantage from Agile Dodge: 1, 2, 4

Sunset flight disengages and pulls away as the electricity reaches out to power down their systems. The two warriors fly back a safe distance but out of melee range.

Green status lights flicker on Laneira’s console as Dawn’s engines come back online. The creature propels itself toward Midnight, reaching out to snare another victim.

Midnight rolls a save with Advantage from Agile Dodge: 2, 5, 5

“You’re only a memory; this isn’t my identity…”

I watch one of the tentacles wrap itself around a warmachine’s leg and direct Midnight to continue firing into the creature’s mass as Dawn comes back online.

Midnight rolls a Standard Test for shooting: 1, 3

The armored plating is tough. The metal rods from the rail cannons peel and shatter more of the plates but fail to make the creature release its captive. The teeth crush into it.

Dawn flight pivots and jets back into the fight; they open fire with pulse lasers and burn holes through the thing’s armor and skin.

Daikaiju takes 2 damage (3 HP remaining)

Sunset deactivates their energy blades and take aim with rail cannons. More metal spines tear into the spawn. Explosions of armored fragments accompanied by more dark fluid leak into the void.

Daikaiju takes 2 damage (1 HP remaining)

“You’re only a memory; this isn’t my identity…”

The massive beast quakes; the glowing green eyes glare defiantly at Midnight as it strikes at them with what time it has left.

I’ve lost two members of the 1st Defense Squadron; those are heavy losses. Excusable, considering what we’re up against, but hard to replace. Midnight flight are the senior members, followed by Sunset. Dawn are the newest members of the squadron.

I let the clamps on the back of the warmachine take hold of the rail cannon; the energy blade springs to life.

Midnight rolls a Standard Test for melee: 3, 4

Three energy blades light, and the members of Midnight flight charge toward the spawn. One tentacle snakes around another victim, green electricity shorting circuitry and cutting power. The green blade flickers and dies. Laneira’s blade slashes out and severs the limb holding the warmachine.

The last active member of Midnight and Laneira fly along the spawn’s mass, cutting into its bulk and slicing away its armor. Its limbs flail uselessly, the one gaping maw soundlessly screaming … something. Then the green light behind its eyes dim and go dark.

“You’re only a memory; this isn’t my identity…”

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Tiny Frontiers: Laneira #0

I really like Gallant Knight Games Tinyd6 system. However, like M20, it produces binary results. As seen in the combat posts, binary results can lead to some boring narration when both sides swing ineffectually at each other. I'm introducing one minor change, and that's the result chart from Waypoints. Just about everything else comes from Tiny Dungeon 2E, Tiny Frontiers, and Tiny Frontiers: Mecha and Monsters.

Image from the Elder Scrolls Online

Laneira, Commander of the 1st Defense Squadron

Starborn Sidhe Pilot: born to fly, charismatic, kinetic manipulator, opportunist, sneaky, vigilant, xeno hunter

6 HP, light ranged weapon proficiency (gauss pistol mastery)

Image from Robotech Reference Guide

Touch of Passing Breath, Striker Class Mech “Predator's Sting”

agile dodge, energy blade, flight engines, main cannon, reinforced materials, transformation core

In fighter configuration, the energy blade becomes rapid fire lasers.

10 Structure, 10 Fuel

Friday, February 9, 2018

On Moonlit Wings: Valtyr #4

Player rolls for next area: Monster

Plot Stress: +5 (28)
GM rolls Stress Check: 46
Location: (4) Fissure/crevasse
Quality #1: (74) Bird calls
Quality #2: (78) Serene
Quality #3: (79) Floral scents

GM rolls for Encounter Budget: 80 (!!)
GM rolls for foe encountered: 9 animals/mounts (18)
GM rolls for foe encountered: talented NPC, leader (10)
GM rolls for foe encountered: 9 average team members, religious (27)
GM rolls for foe encountered: 25 non-combatants (25)
GM rolls for foe rationale: Drunk/drugged

9 skeletal minions (CR 0, minions): 1 HP, AC 12, ruined melee weapons (1 dmg)

Priest of Fenrir (CR ¼): 5 HP, 6 MP, AC 14, warhammer +2 (1d6), diminish mind

Valtyr awakens, unknowingly having fallen asleep after the events of the battle. His hit points, magic points and arm ring are restored.

The cave he had fallen asleep in, beneath the glow of the coin beside him, shows stone and the corpses left after the fight. The kobold equipment are simple scraps and of little use. Pressing on through the darkness, Valtyr finds the tunnel continues beyond the cavern the fight had taken place.

It’s a gentle slope downward, heading back to ground level. The cavern walls grow steadily closer until the tunnel is barely wide enough for one person to walk. His quiet, cautious footsteps are broken by sharp bird calls up ahead; a cold wind brings the scent of flowers up to him. Soon, the ceiling of the tunnel breaks open to show starlit skies.

The cave’s opening drops precipitously into a ravine; a narrow path wraps back around to Valtyr’s right, sloping back up toward the tower. Down below, someone is speaking to a small gathering of, perhaps, a couple dozen people. A handful of animate skeletons walk the perimeter of the group. Just beyond the skeletons, several horses are hobbled and allowed free access to the wintry grasses that still grow in the fissure.

Valtyr just isn’t catching a break. His purpose is to recover the Sagas of Njordr, but the gathering of people also has his attention. What can he see from this distance?

Roll Intellect + Knowledge vs DC 15.

Player rolls Intellect + Knowledge vs DC 15: 3

Natural 1: The Candle is extinguished; Dread Track gains a second token.

That’ll teach me to ask questions.

From this distance, it appears they're some kind of cult, perhaps aspiring clergy. It’s hard to tell under a starlit sky without getting closer.

Question #1: Do they seem to be sacrifices?
Player rolls Yes/No: (73) No.
Plot Stress: +1 (29)

Asking for Trouble #1: Can they see me from this distance?
Player rolls Yes/No: (35) Yes.
Plot Stress: +1 (30)

Why am I asking questions…?

Ok, if they don’t seem to be sacrificial, Valtyr assumes they’re here willingly. That makes them bad people hanging out with animated corpses. He’ll continue up the slope and try to sneak back into the tower.

The glowing coin seems to have attracted the attention of a couple skeletons; they detach from marching around the perimeter and begin to ascend the steep slope. The priest appears to take notice and scans the cliff face. Roll Agility + Subterfuge.

Player rolls Agility + Subterfuge: 15
GM rolls Intellect + Subterfuge: 21

The priest spots Valtyr up on the cliff and points. The mass of people slowly turn and search for what the priest is pointing at. The remaining skeletons follow an unheard command and begin their own ascent up the slope.

Question #2: As a Cleric, were the skeletons acting under direct control of the priest?
Player rolls Yes/No: (93) No.
Plot Stress: +1 (31)

Well, double crap. Valtyr knows the path to the tower is narrow, so he can at least limit potential attacks. Time to fall back to the tower.

Asking for Trouble #2: Is the ground clear enough to avoid slipping into the ravine?
Player rolls Yes/No: (31) Yes.
Plot Stress: +1 (32)

Almost an Unexpected Event… Ok, Valtyr’s going to sprint toward the tower.

The closer Valtyr gets to the tower, the steeper the slope becomes. The gradual spiral of the staircase isn’t reflected on the tower exterior. Roll Might + Physical to climb the slope to the wall of the tower.

Player rolls Might + Physical vs DC 10 with Disadvantage: 9
Plot Stress: +1 (33)

Valtyr slides back down the slope as loose rocks give way. He can hear the slow methodical footsteps of the approaching undead that have made the climb. He can make another attempt at DC 15 and Disadvantage before the first wave of undead come around the corner.

Valtyr expends his 3 Hope to rekindle the Candle; that gets rid of the Disadvantage. Now it’s him vs. DC 15…

Player rolls Might + Physical vs DC 15: 14
Plot Stress: +1 (34)

Welp. 10 v 1. He’s survived that before…

Player rolls initiative: 5
GM rolls initiative: 15

GM rolls Might + proficiency vs AC 17: 15, 12
Player rolls Might + proficiency vs AC 12: 10
GM rolls Might + proficiency vs AC 17: 18, 6
Valtyr takes 1 damage, 9 HP remaining
Player rolls Might + proficiency vs AC 12: 24
Critical Hit, +1 Hope: 10 damage
Plot Stress: +2 (36)

Good news, they can only approach you two at a time on this narrow trail. Bad news, they have a spell caster.

The first exchange fills the air with rusted metal smashing against wooden shield; Valtyr’s riposte is off balance and wide. The next moment, a skeleton scores a hit with a rusty sword against Valtyr’s side. The Northlander’s shield swipes across the exposed jaw of the skeleton and knocks its head into the air and down the slope as he pulls his axe free.

GM rolls Might + proficiency vs AC 17: 4, 12
Player rolls Might + proficiency vs AC 12: 10
GM rolls Might + proficiency vs AC 17: 5, 14
Player rolls Might + proficiency vs AC 12: 11
GM rolls Might + proficiency vs AC 17: 1, 9

And roll Intellect + proficiency vs DC 12.

Player rolls Intellect + proficiency vs DC 12: 19
Valtyr takes 3 damage, 6 HP remaining
Player rolls Intellect + proficiency vs AC 14: 12
Player rolls Intellect + proficiency vs AC 12: 23
Plot Stress: +3 (39)

As one skeleton falls, another takes its place. The trio square off and exchange blows, neither side finding a useable opening. When the priest arrives, a pulse of magical energy washes over Valtyr, who manages to retain control of his faculties with some difficulty.

Valtyr aims the arm ring of blasting at the priest; the white runes lined in orange flare to life. A second ring of runes slides up his arm and a wide bolt of fire shoots toward the priest, scorching burns into the rocks behind him. The second ring merges with the first; a thinner stream of burning energy blasting a skeleton apart.

GM rolls Might + proficiency vs AC 17: 6, 20
Valtyr takes 2 damage, 4 HP remaining
Player rolls Intellect + proficiency vs DC 12: 8

A skeleton swings with a bent blade; Valtyr easily steps aside and avoids the attack. The replacement skeleton takes advantage of its position and stabs into the viking with a broken dagger. The priest breaks into a wide grin and sends another pulse of energy into Valtyr’s mind.


The VIU shuts down and Vince pries the helmet from his head.

“So. What you think?” Fetu asks.

“I think it’s a waste of time,” Vince replies.

“You only sayin’ that ‘cause you lost.”

“I’m saying that if I had a pistol, things would’ve turned out different.”

Fetu smiles. “A pistol? I got somethin’ you might like. Wanna be a pirate?”

“A… What? I got mission planning to do.”

Vince gets up from the recliner and heads toward the door. He glances back over his shoulder at the still form of Wendy lying in her own reclined seat, VIU over her eyes and software humming to life. The dim light from various displays cast her skin in green.

“This how she passes her time?”

“Pretty much. She’s lookin’ fo’ answers. I jus’ build the software. Wanna watch?”

Vince grunts and walks out of the room. “I’ll leave you kids alone; when mission prep is done, I’ll come by.”

“Too bad,” Fetu mutters to no one. “This VIU Point is unique.”