Saturday, October 24, 2020

Building Upon Mythraelai, Raven Grey...

Seven days before Halloween, and I am still picking Descriptors apart. I pulled together pieces of Masque of the Red Death, the unofficial Masque of the Red Death Player's Guide for 5th edition, Bloodborne and Dark Souls to make a setting that feels more comfortable. Comfortable. Relatable. Either word comes across wrong for some.

The Grey Raven, Uncertain Hexblade : cautious, determined, intimidating, resistant

Raven’s hair is burnt umber; her eyes are a grass green, all concealed under the shadow of a tricorne. Years of unending fighting has kept her athletic and perpetually wary. Beneath the dark leather duster, her affluent Victorian clothes seem coated with a layer of ash. The Edge of Eternity, the signature blade granted by The Raven Queen, hides in the space between worlds.

Borrowing from the Ethanol Pop setting in Descriptors, Raven can trade one adjective for two consumables to represent the Warlock spells and invocations at her disposal. My initial thought is that casting a spell requires bidding two adjectives to represent the Dark Powers check from Masque of the Red Death. Failing to bid two adjectives means the spell takes effect, and The Dark Powers notice. Incorporating the Unearthed Arcana Arcane Gunslinger Invocation, Raven can conjure a sword or a pistol as needed but never both.

Opening : Skarlett Riot, Feel

"We did it," Laneira whispers.

I glance up from my seat at the Virtual Interface Unit. Laneira and Vince are across the room sitting on a couch; her head rests on his shoulder.

"She did it," Vince replies. "I had to learn to let go, and I..."

And I couldn't do it. They think I can't hear them. I shake my head, donning the helm and activating the VIU interface. I... couldn't do it. I couldn't shatter Eternity and lose them. Silly, isn't it? That the product of a piece of software in this in-betw-

"You 'k?" Fetu asks over the VIU's communications.

A smirk dances across my lips, reminiscing about a book I have never actually read, "Always."

My vision flares to life as the neural interface injects itself into my perceptions then turns to shadow. For the briefest moment, I am alone. In darkness. In silence. Nothing external. Just... me.

Closing : AmaLee, Brave Shine

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Stirrings of Mythraelai

I came across a link to Descriptors, a quick play diceless, adjective based role playing game. I read it (and it was quick, the rules are one page long) and considered what could be done with it. It actually reads like FU2 but diceless. So, I pondered where to go with it and figured I hadn't done Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay in, I think, ever. Sprinkle in the Agenda and Principles of Simple World, this is what I end up with...

I rolled d1000 twice to figure out what her starting career would be from the Warhammer Career Compendium, randomized her other attributes on the tables provided in the core rulebook and came up with Rae. Naturally, I had to mess with it to suit my personal gaming needs:

Locations and Fishing : I need to keep myself honest, so I will randomize the quantity of available adjectives by rolling d4-1, in keeping with the suggestion of 0-3.

Challenge Rating : Again, to keep me honest, a d6 will be rolled per scene. A result of four or less is a bid of one adjective, and a five or six is two. Challenging scenes, such as a final scene, will add one to the amount of bids; four or less is two adjectives; five or six is three.

Gear : Borrowing a concept from Vornheim, gear can hold one adjective per syllable. Gear begins play with no adjectives but may gain adjectives if safely shopping in town, foraging, looting or some other narratively appropriate action.

Advancement : While unlikely, I envision advancement to be adventure based. Borrowing from Primetime Adventures, a career advancement is available every nine sessions.

With all that in mind, 

Mythraelai, Elven Messenger : calm, knowledgeable, perceptive, precise

At 5'5" and 100 lbs, the wood elf has a braid of copper hair and grey blue eyes. She was born in Reikwald Forest under the sign of The Greased Goat sixty years ago, a decade older than her brother Halfaren. Mythraelai wears travelling clothes under a leather jack.

Gear : backpack, clothes, dagger, leather jack, map case, riding horse, shield, sword and 16 crowns

Friday, October 9, 2020

Rewrite of Amynta for Freeform Universal

With this being October, it was time to transition into more festive gaming. The beta for Freeform Universal 2 was released on the 5th, so I naturally want to give it a try. Since Amynta was already available and hasn't started anything yet, I translated the translation from QuestWorlds to FU2 by, basically, just using the Abilities and filing off the score.

As far as her setting goes, I'm inspired by the Fate World of Adventure Eagle Eyes. Eagle Eyes is set in Rome, but I brought the timeline forward a bit to match the (more or less?) historical time period of Thyatis: the late Byzantine era. GURPS Constantinople, Horror and Cabal will factor into the game at some point, of course. But it's still set in Mystara. I just want a more historical Mystara, which sounds really weird now that I typed it out, but, there you have it.


Amynta is a Thyatian Forester. She has been trained in archery, fights with kite shield, sword and spear, and learned The Revelations of Artemis. Her Lawful nature can sometimes cause problems. However, she believes to dishonor herself is to dishonor her clan.

The Revelations of Artemis allows Amynta to cast each spell inscribed in her spellbook once per day. The spells written are: Charm Person, Detect Evil, Hold Person, Invisibility, Read Magic.

Her russet hair is tied into a Psyche knot, and her brown eyes are hardened from years of combat before joining the Eagles. Amynta has an average build since being transferred from soldier to investigator. The clothing beneath her mail shirt is plain and functional, light tunic with dark trousers accompanied by boots in place of sandals.

Drama Points [ ] [ ] [ ]

[:45] [:30] [:15] [:10] [:05] [--:--]

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Khadiya the Branded and the Hidden Jewel

I have translated the Simple World version of Khadiya to QuestWorlds; the updated character sheet is at the bottom of the post. Taking notes from my last post regarding QuestWorlds and D&D, I've tried sorting the Abilities into a logical sequence. I've invested just enough points into her Warlock class to get Khadiya to fourth level since her XP track doesn't quite translate from one game to another. However, I do like how the "ability scores" end up resembling D&D ability scores.

I'm not entirely sure how I would translate treasure values to a resource, so I'm still thinking on that. Part of me wants to make a particular amount of gold to equal one resource point, like, say, 5 to 1, but I need to take a closer look at treasure values first.

Wilderness Adventure : Massacre Site

Enemies : Undead revenant, author of the slaughter, feaster upon the slain

Friends : Sorrowful ghost, investigator for the local lord

Things : The secret they were killed to keep

Complications : The dead deserved it.

Places : The last stand, gory shambles in the wilderness

"You did well," Mahdi's voice says from behind her shoulder. "Lady Hamada appreciates how you handled Naazim."

"Do you ever not sneak up behind people?" asks Khadiya.


A folded parchment taps her shoulder. Khadiya grabs it with a questioning look, "What's this?"

"A request."

"Am I taking orders from Lady Hamada now?"

"A request," Mahdi reiterates.

"And deny a request from Lady Hamada." Khadiya turns and faces Mahdi. "We both know what the answer will be."

Mahdi smiles behind his mask, "Then I'll report back the request has been accepted."

Khadiya turns away and glares at the sand dunes in the distance. Her open hand crackles with burning energy. Perhaps one day she will be in Lady Hamada's position, doling out requests that others can't refuse. Today is not that day. Today, she lives to serve. The parchment unfolds, revealing a map to a site just a day beyond Yrkala. Khadiya sighs. This task would be more suited for Hamada's Ghostwise not a cursed sorcerer.

The desert radiates with the oppressive heat of the sun above. The solar tendrils reach out immeasurable distances to vainly grasp at the land below. The sand stretches just as immeasurably in every direction, Yrkala far behind Kadiya. Her feet guided by the map, she has no problem with locating the last location of ... whoever Hamada wanted to be found. Just before cresting another dune, Khadiya hears faint clicking noises punctuated by hollow sounds.

Khadiya rolls Dexterity to stealthily see what's beyond the dune against Rank 1 Resistance 17: Khadiya rolls 4; Mantis-folk roll 20. Success.

She stops at the crest and peeks over the dune. Below Khadiya, a caravan of wagons has been overturned and ransacked. Three large insect like humanoids, tan carapaced with foliage green multi-faceted eyes, pick over the corpses of the travellers. Their leather belts bear trade goods and each pair of their arms hold a staff. The three mantis-folk seem to be communicating with each other, their throats emitting strange clicking noises. The punctuating hollow noise comes when their mandibles snap together. 

The people below were murdered by heavy blades; these mantis-folk carry staves. Though they may have their edged throwing blades, those blades wouldn't inflict the degree of harm the bodies demonstrate. Khadiya watches the central figure, pointing at a couple of travellers, rapid clicks punctuating the air.

"I don't understand," Khadiya mutters.

A heartbeat interrupted. One-two, one... that turns into an unending rumble of thunder. The air fills with the sound of a hanging heartbeat, and the movement of the mantis below Khadiya slows to stillness. The particles of sand tracing patterns along the wind freeze, a stream of scintillating motes outlining the currents of air. The thundering half beat of the heart intensifies, growing louder until it fills the skies with eternal thunder.

A voluptuous woman fades in from an ethereal curtain. A woman's body in a revealing, sensual gown topped by the dark head of a jackal. If a canine's muzzle could smirk, she would be wearing one. Yrkali walks between the frozen mantis-folk around her, towering over them almost twice their height. Khadiya is, perhaps, as tall as her thigh.

"And why should you?" asks Yrkali, her jackal head tilting to one side in amusement. "They don't even speak the language of civilized creatures."

"What do you want?" finding her voice, Khadiya's question is a forced whisper.

"What do I want?" mocks Yrkali. "Is that any way to greet your god?"

"My god?" Khadiya pulls free from the majestic aura of Yrkali and glares. "What game are you playing at? Why are you doing this?"

"Because it amuses me," Yrkali says, focusing her sapphire eyes on Khadiya. "Too trite? Perhaps. Then, because you fight," The towering entity leans forward, her large blue eyes boring into Khadiya's, "Even now, you fight."

Khadiya's patience wears thin, "What. Do. You. Want?" she asks, each word forced into being in spite of Yrkali's presence.

Yrkali smiles a dog's smile and produces Khadiya's Grimoire. The silver edged tome hangs suspended in the air as the jackal-headed woman inscribes sigils upon an empty page in flowing arcane script. Khadiya's skin burns as azure runes sear themselves on her back, fading into chalk white. The book snaps shut and cuts off the rolling thunder of the heartbeat hanging in the air.

"I want what you want, child. Success."

Yrkali evaporates back to wherever she came from and time resumes. The tome turns and presents the newly scribed spell to Khadiya.

Khadiya rolls Intelligence to augment her Infernal Grimoire against Rank 0 Resistance 14: Khadiya rolls 12; Resistance rolls 19. Success. Khadiya rolls Infernal Grimoire to cast Comprehend Languages with a +3 bonus against Rank 0 Resistance 14: Khadiya rolls 10 and bumps failure to success with Mastery; Resistance rolls 7. Success.

An azure mandala unfolds in the air between Khadiya and the mantis folk. The ring turning clockwise; the runes inscribed along its perimeter slowly following the track. The creature's incessant clicking slows to something more conversational and brings Khadiya back to the present.

"You," the central mantis creature says, pointing at the third, "Grab what you can carry before they come back." It turns back to address the second. "Not that, too much blood gone. Insides spilled. Take the whole ones to share." It turns toward the north east, "Be quick."

She glances at the mutilated corpses then back at the three mantis-folk. The body thrown aside, entrails casting a lazy line across the desert sand. Khadiya turns and faces the north east, scanning the horizon and waiting for the mantis creatures to complete their grisly task.

As instructed, the three mantis folk quickly scavenge through the caravan, pulling valuables and mostly intact corpses to carry off to the south. Khadiya moves across the sands, the sun beginning to set and taking its heat with it. Cresting another rise, broken pillars reach toward the darkening sky; scattered sand reveal a series of steps leading beneath the ground. Cautiously, Khadiya steps between the pillars to approach the opening.

Khadiya succeeds with an assured success to cast devil's sight.

One of the eldritch invocations bestowed by Yrkali allows Khadiya to see through darkness as if it were brightly lit. Begrudgingly, she is thankful to have that ability this evening. Without needing a torch, Khadiya would have an advantage over anyone requiring one to see. And if whoever "they" were were human, then they would require them.

The cracked stone steps open into an underground chamber. The floor is tiled in stone, the walls painted with murals showing feasts : goat, dates, olives, bulgur and rice. The one lone exit ahead of her propped open by a wooden staff. The sand and dust across the floor hold obvious traces of movement; things being dragged, feet being planted. Footsteps echo from the exit, the light of a torch dimly striking the corner behind the propped door.

Khadiya rolls Infernal Grimoire to cast Spider Climb to sneak past the approaching guard against Rank 0 Resistance 14: Khadiya rolls 16 and bumps failure to success with Mastery; Resistance rolls 16. Success.

Khadiya summons her spellbook and recites the incantation to Embody the Spider's Walk. The blue mandala shatters into anklets and bracelets, which she uses to scale the wall then ceiling of the entry room. A figure enters the room, torch in hand, beige keffiyeh and robes covering his features. She smiles. Most people never look up. Her slim form crawls along the ceiling and into the hallway beyond.

"Pathetic!" the word carries back to Khadiya.

She pauses from her perch on the ceiling and listens.

"Promise to spare them, and they tell us exactly what we need to know. But this..."

Khadiya stalks toward the voice, peeking beyond the threshold of another doorway. The room is similar to the one back at the entrance. Stone tiles. Murals. These murals depict a similar feast, though the attendants are skeletons. A feast of goat, and hearts and eyes. Floating in the center of the room is a crystal suspended on invisible strings, shedding a blue white light. The speaking figure robed in black lined with filigree of blue; a servant holding a pillow in simple trousers and shirt.

"But this is worth any price," the figure says, hand reaching toward the floating gem.

Khadiya begins the extended contest by rolling Infernal Grimoire to cast Command against Rank 1 Resistance 17: Khadiya rolls 1; Resistance rolls 11. Success. Khadiya RP : 1, Resistance RP : 0.

She detaches from the ceiling and drops into a crouch on the tiled floor. The azure anklets detach and merge into a small mandela as Khadiya claps her hands together. An incantation flows from her, the grimoire erupting violently into the air.

"Stop!" she shouts.

The primary figure pauses mid grasp; the servant turns as if to berate the interruption.

Khadiya continues the extended contest by rolling Infernal Grimoire to cast Burning Hands against Rank 1 Resistance 17: Khadiya rolls 10; Resistance rolls 14. Failure. Khadiya RP : 1, Resistance RP : 1.

"Take her," the figure rumbles, hand stretching out to grasp the floating gem.

The servant drops the pillow and rushes toward Khadiya unarmed. Reflexively, she recites the spell to becoming the Conduit of the Burning Sun and sends a gout of fire at him. The servant screams as his clothing burns away and skin begins to melt.

Khadiya rolls Borrowed Time against Rank 1 Resistance 17: Khadiya rolls 17; Resistance rolls 1. Failure. Khadiya RP : 1, Resistance RP : 2.

"Yrkali take you!" she growls.

"No!" the figure shouts back as a stream of energy courses from the burning servant into the floating gem. "I take you!"

Khadiya rolls Fragments of Forbidden Knowledge against Rank 1 Resistance 17: Khadiya rolls 12; Resistance rolls 18. Success. Khadiya RP : 2, Resistance RP : 2.

"Yrkali will not be denied," seethes Khadiya, a bolt of eldritch energy raking across the back of the man. He grunts then screams in defiance, his grasping hand pulling back reflexively.

Khadiya rolls Infernal Grimoire against Rank 1 Resistance 17: Khadiya rolls 10; Resistance rolls 19. Success. Khadiya RP : 3, Resistance RP : 2.

Khadiya strides forward, summoning the icy shards of the Rime Cloak around her. The room chills with bitter cold.

Khadiya rolls Fragments of Forbidden Knowledge against Rank 1 Resistance 17: Khadiya rolls 12 and bumps failure to success with Mastery; Resistance rolls 8. Success. Khadiya RP : 4, Resistance RP : 2.

"Yrkali has no power here!" he screams, hand once again reaching for the floating jewel.

Her hand rises and clutches empty air; an azure ring circles the other man then phantom spines rise from the floor and tear into his clothing. The man, pinned by the energetic talon, howls, his hand inches from his prize.

Khadiya rolls Infernal Grimoire against Rank 1 Resistance 17: Khadiya rolls 11 and bumps failure to success with Mastery; Resistance rolls 3. Khadiya RP : 5, Resistance RP : 2.

His outstretched hand brushes against the enchanted gem. Khadiya snorts and holds her own hand toward it. The jewel tears free from its ethereal anchor with the help of Khadiya's mage hand and rests within her grasp.

"No!" shouts the figure in defiance.

"Yrkali. Will. Not. Be. Denied," Khadiya repeats.

He screams, his essence torn from his body and filling the gem within her hand. Khadiya sighs.

"I'm sorry."

Khadiya the Branded, Baleful Warlock

Khadiya has flowing black hair and light brown eyes. Her tan skin is marked with white arcane sigils along her arms and back. She wears teal brigandine made of lizard skin and bone over her black sirwal and white tunic. Khadiya carries a pair of daggers, a crossbow and her adventuring pack.

2M1 Flaw : Lawful Neutral

17 Flaw : Bound to Yrkali

2M1 Fiend Pact Warlock

+2 Borrowed Time : You have the Blessing of Yrkali and, once per day, may gain a Benefit when you take a life. The blessing resets at dawn if not used.

+2 Fragments of Forbidden Knowledge : You have the ability to invoke eldritch power. It may be augmented using Charisma.

Eldritch Invocations Discovered : devil's sight, thief of five fates

+4 Infernal Grimoire of Yrkali : You possess a spellbook and have the ability to cast spells. It may be augmented using Intelligence.

Cantrips Learned : eldritch blast, mage hand, minor illusion

Spells Inscribed Within : Conduit of the Burning Sun (burning hands), Embody the Spider's Walk (spider climb), Rime Cloak of the Ancient Past (armor of agathys), Scrutiny of Words and Deeds (comprehend languages), The Emir's Decree (command)

16 Charisma

15 Dexterity, Intelligence

13 Constitution, Strength, Wisdom

13 Community : Yrkala

17 Baleful

Gear : adventuring gear (5 uses), arcane focus (beech wand), blanket, common clothes, crossbow, daggers, herbalism kit (4 uses), leather armor, rabbit's foot, rations (5 uses), scroll case of arcane research notes (5 uses), 5 gold

XP [x] [x] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

More Character Creation : QuestWorlds D&D

I've been awake too long, but this came to me out of the blue. I've been playing Simple World with Fate Accelerated style Approaches. QuestWorlds says Abilities are how a character solves a problem, which, as I've been playing, are Approaches. So what happens when you take ability scores and turn them into Approaches then make them Abilities? Below is a D&D character translated through Simple Worlds then QuestWorlds. She was surprisingly easy : six ability scores, race, class, distinguishing personality trait then three class abilities. I also made her alignment a Flaw because, well, adhering to an Alignment is kind of a compulsion, isn't it?

There is just a bit of Greek, too. The Thorakitai were a hybrid of hoplite and skirmisher. Akontio is javelin; dory and hoplon is spear and shield. "The Revelations of Demeter" is Amynta's spellbook because, as taken from Dawn of the Empire's Player's Guide to Thyatis, some elves taught humans how to do magic while wearing armor. These are the Foresters.

In keeping with my initial thoughts on QuestWorlds, every five points in a class is one character level, so that translates Amynta into a, roughly, fifth level character. As a fifth level character, she begins with two first, two second and one third level spell. And so... classic D&D filtered through Simple World double filtered into QuestWorlds.

This is kind of fun...

Amynta, Intuitive Thorakitai

13 Thyatian

5M1 Thorakitai

..:: +2 Akontio

..:: +3 Dory and Hoplon

..:: +2 The Revelations of Demeter

....:::: Spells Known : Charm Person, Detect Evil, Hold Person, Invisibility, Read Magic

17 Intuitive

15 Strength

15 Dexterity

13 Constitution

17 Intelligence

13 Wisdom

13 Charisma

5M1 Flaw : Lawful

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Another Character Creation : HeroQuest Rokugan

Working off my previous thoughts, I've considered trying a Legend of the Five Rings character filtered through Sengoku while I read through GURPS Greece. I've played in L5R for a long while, so I'm more comfortable with it than Glorantha. The character below is basically a Dragon Clan Samurai with quotes from Mirumoto attached to give it flavor.

"One Man, One Sword, One Strike," was said by Kakita before Mirumoto replied, "Two hands." Thus, the invention of the Dragon's niten (two swords) technique.

"If he attacks first, kill him, etc." is a good call back to the card Kharmic Strike. In a duel, you win. You may die, but you take your opponent with you.

"I do not believe I can win. I know I will." is another good Mirumoto inspired quote. You can't doubt. You can win, or you can die.

For my three "Runes" I chose the Four Heavenly Kings from Buddhism and Amaterasu (Lady Sun in L5R). I finished it off with the Tao of Shinsei because it seemed fitting for a Dragon Clan bushi. Now, do these three Runes have actual, manifesting powers? Probably not. It's the conviction that matters. But, who knows...?

Hoshi Yonagi, Tempestuous Sohei

13 Dragon Clan Bushi

+2 "One Man, One Sword, One Strike... Two Hands."

+2 "If he attacks first, kill him. If you attack first, kill him. If you both attack at once, kill him."

15 Defender of the Northern Towers of Flame

17 Sohei

+2 "I do not believe I can win. I know I will."

17 Tempestuous

1M1 Shi Daitennou, The Four Heavenly Kings

17 Tao of Shinsei

+2 "Do not be deceived by the surface."

+2 "What you do not show..."

13 Amaterasu

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Random Character Creation Fun

There's something fun about passing time following a Traveller life path. I remembered that I own Sword of Cepheus which adds Sword and Sorcery or Sword and Planet to the Traveller based Cepheus Engine.

Generating characteristics - with the Iron Man optional rule : Roll 2d6 in order

Strength 11, Dexterity 8, Endurance 7, Intelligence 8, Education 5, Social Standing 9

Fancy, I get to introduce the hexadecimal method of portraying characteristics. Anything over 9 becomes a letter code, and that leads to some fun things like the Universal Personality Profile. More on that later.

6-8 is average, so he's clearly stronger than average, not as well learned and, for some reason, is almost aristocratic.

Background Skill

Large City is probably appropriate for a near-aristocrat. As he's not well educated, choosing Craft would be inappropriate, so it's either Carouse or Streetwise. Carouse is probably more fitting, so : Carouse-1

At the young age of 14, I try to qualify for my first four year term in a career. A Soldier requires an Endurance check of 8+ on 2d6. Failing to qualify means he can be a Commoner or Vagabond.

Qualification roll : 11. He's going to be a soldier!

During the first career, a character automatically learns the six service skills at 0. At Rank 0, he gets a free upgrade to Melee Combat.

0-Archery, Artillery, Craft, Recon, Riding

1-Carouse, Melee Combat

Survival Throw : Here's where you see if you died or not. However, I'm using the Mishap optional rule. For a soldier, that's STR 6+. With a STR of 11, that's a +1 to his survival.

Survival roll : 8. He's made it to be 18!

Skill Table : Each term, you roll to learn one thing from one of the four tables. For the first term, you learn two from two of the tables. As he is only EDU 5, he can not learn anything from the Advanced table.

Service skill : Archery, Specialist skill : Liaison ... I was hoping for Stealth... I guess his aristocratic nature is showing.

0-Artillery, Craft, Recon, Riding

1-Archery, Carouse, Liaison, Melee Combat

Advancement roll : SOC 7+, with his SOC of 9, he gets a +1 to this roll.

Advancement roll : 9. Rank up! He is now a Tesserarius and gets Leadership-1 and an additional skill roll.

Personal Development : Melee Combat. Welp...

0-Artillery, Craft, Recon, Riding

1-Archery, Carouse, Leadership, Liaison

2-Melee Combat

Event Table : Each term, you roll to see what significant thing happened.

Result : 7, Life Event. Life Event Result : Something good happens. +1 Benefit roll.

More on that later. Maybe. Finally, re-enlistment opportunity. Failure means mustering out. Success means you can choose to continue in this career. 12 means you're required to continue in this career. I'm using the optional rule that you can leave a career and try to qualify for another, but he's pretty happy where he's at right now.

Re-enlistment 5+ : 3. Well, he was happy. They don't want him back. Maybe because he's still a teenager. Who knows. Either way, his soldiering life is over, time for the benefits.

Mustering Out : One roll per term of service on either Gold or Material. This character gets +1 Benefit, so he gets two rolls of his choice. Fortunately, he has Carouse-1, so he gets +1 on his rolls if he chooses Gold.

Gold Benefit : 100 gold coins. Material Benefit : SOC +1. Interesting. Maybe he was tossed out of the military because he's too aristocratic. SOC 10 places him just under knighthood. I mean, the dude can carouse, lead, liaise and stab people in the face. Or back. That being said, here's the final character with the awesome Universal Personality Profile (UPP). It's one of the reasons I enjoy Traveller so much. It's concise.

Lars Renatus, Aristocratic Tesserarius, 18 years old B8785A

0-Artillery, Craft, Recon, Riding

1-Archery, Carouse, Leadership, Liaison

2-Melee Combat

Aside from the skills, and whatever gear I give him, that one bold line tells you almost everything you need to know about Lars. B8785A is the UPP code for his ability scores. If only more games could condense all that information into one line.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Ivar and the Shrine of Vithar

Ivar Arkynson, Devoted Warden

Red hair, a focused gaze, with the strong build of living life beside nature. He wears a blue wool tunic with grey trousers and leather boots decorated with antler buckles. Ivar is armored in a mail brynja and spangenhelm, and he wields an ash bow, axe and shield.

5 Retribution in Vithar's Name

4 By Axe and Shield, You Fall...

3 A Hunter by Trade

1 There Are Nine Noble Virtues

Resolve [ ] [ ] [ ]

Image of Ivar's Eidolon from Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed : Valhalla

[ Opening Theme : The Hu, Wolf Totem ]

Adventure Tags : Dueling Explorers

Enemies : Ruthless tomb thief

Friends : The ruin's true owner

Things : The neglected spiritual shrine

Complications : The treasure is dangerous to seize

Places : Chasm with ledges, a bloodstained arena

Dungeon Type : Geomantic nexus, up to 11 locations

The tracks lead up to the mouth of a large cave, the rocky formation looms up toward the sky, blocking the light of the sun behind it. The snow covered trees of the forest lie silent behind Ivar. Even the animals knew to avoid this place. This is where he was destined to go. Waiting at the cave's entrance, four shorter, crooked people keep watch.

Ivar has seen the likes of them before. Disheveled. Sickly. Minions to whoever would offer them food or silver. Dark haired and hunched over, they behaved more like beasts than people. But these four were keeping him from his prey, and Ivar couldn't risk allowing one to alert anyone within.

Ivar creeps along the tree line and moves closer to the entrance. When he nears the small group of grunting guards, sniffing at the air like dogs, he pulls his axe free. Ivar charges toward the rear most guard, blocking retreat back into the cave and swings his axe at the closest enemy.

Threat Rating : 3

Ivar rolls six dice using By Axe and Shield, You Fall… : four active dice, two defensive dice. Four active successes, one defensive success.

The creatures are taken completely by surprise as Ivar storms toward them. The axe cleaves into the shoulder of the first. He kicks his axe free and hacks into the next closest opponent. One of them recovers quickly enough to claw at Ivar's shield. Ivar responds by driving the shield's rim into the thing's neck then slicing across his abdomen. The last standing guard whimpers but is quickly silenced as Ivar's axe opens a wound across its throat.

Ivar stalks quietly into the cave, lighting a torch to push back the shadows as he walks deeper into the narrow tunnel. The air cools. The silence broken by running water somewhere up ahead. Minutes later, the tunnel expands into an underground chasm; the river several man heights below. A narrow rope bridge sways in the breeze funneled by the chasm; a single tunnel continues beyond.

He grabs hold of the top most rope and begins to side step his way across the rope bridge. His torch held tight in the grip of thumb and first finger, leaving the other three free to support his effort. Usually cautious, Ivar is urged forward knowing that his target was already ahead of him.

Threat Rating : 2

Ivar rolls three dice using Hunter by Trade : two active dice, one defensive dice. Two active successes, one defensive success.

The tunnel curves back and forth as it winds deeper into the rock. The flickering light of the torch picks up the shine of silver coins strewn along the cave's floor. Around another bend, a chair of carved mahogany collects dust. In surprisingly excellent condition, he could think of a jarl or two that would be pleased to add this to his collection. Ivar was not about to carry a chair across a rope bridge.

The curving tunnel widens, the bottom of the chasm he had just crossed by rope bridge. A river flows languidly past Ivar. The river's bed has more silver coins scattered beneath the water. The other side of the river holds a small alcove with no exit; Ivar follows the flowing river downstream. The water eroded the stone for centuries, leaving behind a small room covered by the mass of stone. The air at the bottom of the chasm is warmer, misty, more humid.

The stone pocket expands into a large cavern. The light of the torch pushes back the darkness but can not pierce far enough to see where the walls were. Immense columns of rock jut up from the stone like a forest made of earth. Beyond the stalactite forest, the tunnel begins to meander once more, leading deeper beneath the earth. That was when he heard the voice up ahead. Around the corner, the temperature increases accompanied by a dull orange glow.

"Take it," a hoarse voice seethes.

A different growls and hisses in reply.

Ivar stalks closer to the voices and takes a glance around the wall. A flow of liquid rock spilled across a rocky shelf. The shelf had several runes written across its face. Resting within its shrine, a tablet of stone with spiraling runes carved along it. A saga of Vithar and how the god survived Ragnarok and pried the jaws of Fenrir apart. Enshrined in a temple preserved only by wardens like Ivar. Within the small chamber is a disheveled Skraeling, lean and emaciated compared to the more robust balding man in mail.

Emboldened by the shrine dedicated to Vithar's legacy, Ivar strides confidently into the cavern, axe drawn and kicks the balding man away from the Skraeling and shrine. His arm swings down, crashing the back of his axe on the shrine as he glares at the dirty, pitiful creature, "Leave."

Threat level : 4.

Ivar rolls five dice using Retribution in Vithar's Name : three active dice, two defensive dice. Three active successes, one defensive success.

The Skraeling whimpers as the axe crashes beside it. It turns and runs back up the corridor. The unknown balding man snarls from the kick and leaps forward, grappling Ivar. Ivar gives way to intuition and experience, driving his knee up into the bald man's chest. His shield crashes down into the man's face.

Ivar snarls as well, "You should not be here," and stalks forward menacingly. The bald man rubs his face with the back of his hand, blood writing itself across his skin.  Ivar's axe rises and falls once more, hacking into the prey that would dare to steal from Vithar's sanctuary.

Ivar rolls six dice using Retribution in Vithar's Name : six active dice, no defensive dice. Six active successes.

The unnamed figure screams, the blue tattoos along his scalp pulsing with the beat of his heart. Ivar's axe cleaves into the man's skull; he presses his foot against the thief's chest and pushes away. His lifeless form collapses to the ground besides the flowing lava. The Saga of Vithar, safe for any that would travel to its shrine, watches stoically between the rivulets of molten rock.

"Your grace and your silence," Ivar reverently whispers, raising the head of his axe to his eyes in salute. "In your silence, patience and wisdom."

[ Closing Theme : Skáld, Rún ]

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Scarlet Heroes, Kishani and Session Zero

I've been using Scarlet Heroes a lot. A lot, a lot. So much so, I wonder why I haven't actually gamed in the setting. Khadiya and Harmony are still being written, but I wanted to get this idea on paper. What I find most intriguing is how Scarlet Heroes handles elves. Specifically, there are exactly 100,000 of them. Then there are the Scions who are elves that end up reincarnating in human bodies. They lose the ability to use magic but gain a different set of abilities. The class I chose is the Gloom Stalker from Xanathar's Guide to Everything, backported via Old School Essentials Advanced Fantasy to Simple World.

Taming the Westmark

Genre : Fantasy

Size : The Domain of Ektau

The Westmark remains largely empty, much as it has since the Ravaging almost two centuries past. Dead cities and ashen villages stand in silent memorial of that great overthrow, waiting for those souls brave enough to reclaim what their ancestors lost in fire and screams. There is no law in the Westmark beyond the strength of a man’s sword arm, and the empty land attracts many who desire a new life, or the opportunity to prey on those who do.

Shade in Summer Enclave

Heretical Strife

Enemies Clerically-empowered heretic priest, Corrupt traditionalist priest

Friends Venerable local theologian, Local seeking help for a newly-zealous relative

Complications The traditional faith is corrupted and enfeebled

Things Jeweled holy relics, Magical artifact empowered by local faith

Places Isolated shrine outside the settlement, Secret meeting of believers

Court Type Tong

Mhek Shade in Summer, Honored Sage, spy from Tien Lung

Kishgadan Shade in Summer, Elder Brother, uses Rendak to inflate his reputation

Halai Shade in Summer, Allied Merchant, attracted to Calai, Caretaker of the Meeting Hall

Thyrna Geirbjornsdottir, "Kishani Shade in Summer"

Elven Scion Gloom Stalker (archery, stalking, wyrd abilities)

Haunting amber eyes with braided golden auburn hair, her unnatural, ageless spirit marks her compact form. Kishani wears plain traveling clothes of walnut and beige covered by a pine green gambeson. An elven soul born in a human body. A changeling. Something to be distrusted. The years passed by, and Kishani grew more distant from Skandr society; eventually, she spent more time in the forests of the Westmark reminiscing about her past incarnations. That was where she found solace, a small tribe that understood her turmoil, her Creed: to be the Shade in Summer, a shield in the heat of battle, shelter in times of turmoil.

+2 Dexterity

+1 Charisma*, Wisdom

+0 Constitution, Strength*

-1 Intelligence

Archer in a Past Life : When you do something related to archery, add +1.

Umbral Sight : You have the ability to see in darkness.

Wyrd Things Happen : You have the ability to pull dreams into reality. It counts as a basic move using Charisma.

Scion Wyrds Known : solipsistic forge, walker in dreams

Gear : dagger (1-harm, hand), explorer's pack, gambeson, glass eye, handaxe (1-harm, hand), hunting trap, longbow (1-harm, 3 ammo, near, reload), necklace of black bear claws, staff, traveler's clothes, 10 gold

[:45] [:30] [:15] [:10] [:05] [--:--]

XP [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Khadiya and the Giant of Yrkala

GM Note : Using the Cinderheim Adventure Generator for the pilot session. "A mutated brute is trying to colonize a precarious pleasure palace." Oooook, this should be interesting. Definitely sounds like an urban adventure which I've never tried via Scarlet Heroes, so, why not?

"A location is struck by a fire, riot... basically a calamity."

Location : brothel, disaster : hostile takeover. Actors : cynical investigator, exquisite dancer, puzzled foreigner. Threat level : 5.

Khadiya VP : 0, Naazim VP : 0

Conflict scene : Support an Actor working against Naazim. Fight Difficulty : 11 

The rounded sandstone buildings provide very little shade from the burning sun. Its solar barbs outstretched and reaching toward the world below. The skies are clear, but the desert wind brings the sting of sand on bare skin and the muffled sounds of a struggle. The Chattel Market, normally busy with people, is remarkably empty. Khadiya sees a small man, dark haired and dressed in grey trousers with red vest, being attacked by a figure clad in scale armor made of horn. The large figure wears a blood red mask over its face and wields a savage blade of sharp obsidian embedded in hard wood, raised over head to chop the smaller man.

Khadiya pulls her beech wand from her sash, her right hand upright. A black lizard skinned book materializes, cradled by the air above her upheld hand. Silver lined parchment flips to the page upon which The Emir's Decree is written in azure ink. She reads the incantation, tracing a sigil in the air with the coffee colored wand. A blue mandala forms in the air, its color mirroring the words inscribed in the book.

"Hold!" Khadiya shouts.

Khadiya rolls +INT to cast Command on the armored figure : 6.

The obsidian edge of the macuahuitl comes down on the smaller man's leg, slicing down into the bone. The larger figure's mask turns in Khadiya's direction, the demonic face bearing a wide grin. It strides past the small man and heaves the heavy wood and stone weapon over his shoulder as it prepares to swing the weapon.

The book evaporates back to the ether, and Khadiya reaches back, grasping air. She hurls her open fist toward the approaching figure. A searing beam of blue light lances towards it.

Khadiya rolls +CHA to attack with Eldritch Blast : 13 and inflicts 2-harm.

The bolt scorches along the bone scales and breach through the eyes of the mask. The swing falls short, and the weapon digs a furrow in the sand. One hand comes up to its face as it screams in pain.

"No one will stop Naazim the Heavy Handed. I will make sure of it!" The voice behind the mask is deep and primal. It lurches forward, awkwardly chopping at Khadiya with one hand.

Khadiya rolls +CHA to attack with another Eldritch Blast : 11 and inflicts 2-harm.

Half blinded and wielding its massive weapon in one hand, Khadiya sidesteps the blow and hurls another energetic beam. The beam slices a burning path across the arm holding the macuahuitl. Fabric melts away and its skin begins to blacken and char.

The figure howls with rage and grabs the macuahuitl in both hands. The mask bears a burned scar from its jaw up to its eye. Beneath the mask, burnt skin peeks through. It swings the weapon back and slashes heavily at Khadiya.

Khadiya rolls +CHA and attacks with an Eldritch Blast : 12 and inflicts 2-harm. Blessing of Yrkali adds two to her Harm track.

Khadiya drops into a crouch, and the weapon slashes the air above her. Rising, her hand sweeps upward and the bolt of energy traces a line from inside its thigh up toward its face. Another scream as the mask separates and falls in half, the flesh beneath burned beyond recognition. The figure lands on the ground with a heavy sound.

"Should Yrkali take you, you will be reborn and fight again."

Khadiya VP : 1, Naazim VP : 0

She walks toward the groaning man and kneels down to inspect the wound. The man attempts to crawl backward. Instead, he screams in pain when he tries to use his wounded leg.

"You're a sorcerer!" he screams, panicked.

"The one that saved your life," she coolly responds. "I can try to treat this, or you can die."

He keeps his mouth shut, staring up at Khadiya with disbelief.

"Your choice," she says.

Khadiya rolls +WIS attempting to treat the wound, and marks XP : 4.

He nods. "I am Amal," he says then screams in further pain. "What are you doing?! I thought you said you would treat this!"

"I said I could try. At least you're not going to die of blood loss. Infection? Maybe."

"In... fection?"

"You'll need to see a surgeon, I'm afraid. This is beyond my ability to treat."

"A surgeon? They could take my leg."

"They could. They could also save it," Khadiya turns to leave.

"Wait! Aren't you going to help me?!"

"I already have."

Investigation Scene : Infiltrate a location where the activities relate to a clue.

The pens are located near The Chattel Market. After the sudden attack by the armored figure, Khadiya understands why the streets are vacant. Curiously, so are the pens. The Market is where people can often be purchased after a successful raid or taken in as indentured service. The lucky ones, if they can be called that, are inducted into Hamada's army. Of all the rulers, Lady Hamada is, perhaps, the most patient and thoughtful.

"Naazim took the pretty ones away," a gruff voice says.

"Pretty?" asks a nasal voice. "Everyone in the pens was dirt covered and scrawny. None of them seemed strong enough to even take up a knife!"

Khadiya rolls +DEX to sneak closer to eavesdrop on the conversation and marks XP : 11.

"You know how messy power struggles can be. Look what happened when Naazim first took over. Now he wants a share of the market."

"I guess. I wouldn't want that kind of power anyway. Taking care of the gang and all our needs?"

"And wants."

"Yeah, that, too."

The voices fade into the distance as the pair walk away discussing money and how best to spend it.

Khadiya VP : 2, Naazim VP : 0

Action Scene : Plunder needed resources for the plan.

Khadiya follows behind the two men, unable to overhear the rest of their conversation but close enough to follow them. The two stop at another pen and kick at the door.

"Get up! You're not a pretty one, so let's see how well you fight!"

"But I'm not a fighter!" a voice pleads from inside the pen.

"Well, that's a shame. You're up against Nasir, and he's got a lot of fighting experience."

Khadiya rolls +INT to cast Burning Hands : 9.

Khadiya raises both hands to her shoulder. The grimoire materializes in the air in front of her. Against the wind, the pages turn and open to Conduit of the Scorching Sun. She reads the blue sigils etched upon the parchment, her hands come together, fingers splayed out like a fan. Flames erupt from her fingers and the two men scream as their clothing turns to ash and skin begins to blister under the weight of searing heat. Khadiya steps closer and focuses the fire on her victims until charred bones start to show beneath the burning skin.

A series of slow claps sound from Khadiya. "It's been a while since I faced a sorcerer."

Khadiya turns and sees a muscular man, bare chested with mud colored trousers. His head is shaved. He seems to have no weapons. The man cracks his knuckles and confidently walks toward Khadiya.

"Let's see what you'll be worth," he says, charging forward and punching at Khadiya.

Khadiya rolls +CHA to use Eldritch Blast : 6 and 1-harm received.

Her hand reaches back to draw arcane energy into a bolt, but Nasir is faster. His fist impacts near her diaphragm, forcing the breath from her. He smiles and pulls back his other fist with another attack.

Khadiya rolls +CHA to use Eldritch Blast : 9, 2-harm inflicted and 1-harm received. Borrowed Time expires.

The fist strikes Khadiya across her cheek, causing her head to snap back. She falls back a couple of steps against one of the pens. Khadiya pushes away from the pen and swings her fist at Nasir, energy crackling around her hand. The bolt leaps from Khadiya into Nasir's chest. His skin turns an angry red.

Nasir grimaces but remains quiet in spite of the burning heat. His eyes narrow, and he charges at Khadiya for a tackle.

Khadiya rolls +CHA to use Eldritch Blast : 9, 2-harm inflicted and 1-harm received.

The tackle catches Khadiya by surprise and drives her back against the pen with another outrush of air. She grunts from the impact, her eyes burning with unnatural light. Her hands grasp both sides of Nasir's head, and she channels the eldritch bolt between them. Nasir shrieks as elemental energy pours into his skull and the bones of his face crack beneath the heat. He collapses to the ground of the fighting pit, tendrils of smoke drifting lazily on the wind.

Khadiya VP : 4, Naazim VP : 0

Khadiya walks over to the burnt corpses in front of the pens and searches for the key. The man inside is thin, bookish with sandy hair and emerald eyes. His clothing looks rich and foreign. She uses the key to unlock the pen.

"Thank you," he hurriedly and hoarsely says. "I don't even know why I'm here."

"You are new to Hygaea," she states, either explanation or observation.

"Yes," he replies.

"The only why is because you allowed yourself to be caught."

"My caravan was raided, and I awoke locked inside a cart. You said this was Hy-" his voice trails off questioningly.


"Hygaea," he says, disbelieving, as if she were mocking him. "Hygaea was destroyed."

"Was?" Khadiya asks, pointedly looking around her.

"This can not be. I must return home."

"You are," she replies.

"No, I must return t-"

"There is no return. Head any direction you like, you will find only desert."

"The desert must end somewhere."

"Does it?" Khadiya shrugs and turns back the way she had come. "If it does, none have returned to say so."

"Wait! What am I supposed to do?"

"Not get sold," she shouts over her shoulder.

Investigation Scene : Ambush an Actor who holds a clue.

Walking away from the fighting pits, Khadiya passes the pens once more. A lone figure walks by each pen and checks their condition. The man is dressed in simple lizard skin, short black hair and a sword that swings by his hip. He tugs on each door when he passes by. Each door as solid as the one before.

Khadiya rolls +DEX to sneak up on the man to get a clear shot : 5.

Khadiya sets a bolt in her crossbow and stalks forward. Not as quiet as she preferred, the man notices her approach. His sword comes free of its scabbard, and he marches towards her.

"What are you doing?" he shouts.

Khadiya rolls +DEX to fire the bolt : 8, 2-harm inflicted.

The bolt flies towards the man and pierces the leather armor near his shoulder. He jerks from the impact and snarls, his feet kicking up sand as he charges at Khadiya, sword held in one hand and raised to stab.

Khadiya rolls +CHA to strike him with an eldritch bolt : 8, 2-harm inflicted and 1-harm received.

Khadiya drops the crossbow and readies herself to receive the charge. Her hand crackles with energy. At his approach, she shoves her hand outward and unleashes a torrent of energy into him. The leather darkens, and his skin blisters. The bolt cuts down her assailant but not before his momentum carries his thrust against her side. The blade tears open a light wound in her arm; she gasps from the sudden cut.

Her bruises and the fresh cut will need to be tended to. She takes a few minutes to rest, dressing the cut on her arm. With that done, she searches the corpse for a key. He seemed to have been a jailer or custodian. Instead, she finds a hastily scribbled note :

"Bring the valuables you find to the brothel for sorting. We'll separate what's sellable from what's useable and what's worthless there. It will be our new base of power."

Power? Khadiya scoffs. Lady Hamada might have something to say about that. Yrkala was hers by combat, and she had an army behind her that supported her cause. These intruders may have started a fight they couldn't win. But if Khadiya could prevent the fight from ever starting...

Khadiya VP : 5, Naazim VP : 1.

Action Scene : Pass incriminating evidence to an Actor who can make sure important people learn of the evidence.

GM Note : Convenient...

Khadiya heads towards the brothel in The Chattel Market. Not nearly as upscale as the ones toward the city center, but this was visited by the ones who could barely afford to live beyond The Market. Passing a dirt intersection, the wind still kicking up abrasive sand, Khadiya barely heard the sound of footsteps behind her.

"Causing trouble?" a figure asks. Dressed in tans and browns, he wears a mask over his face, hood to cover his head and soft soled boots. His voice was not so easily masked. Mahdi was one of Hamada's Ghostwise, a scout that, by all rights, should have been able to sneak up on her.

"Me?" she asks. "Preventing, more like." Khadiya hands the scrawled note to him. "The streets are empty, Mahdi. There's an underground struggle taking place under your nose."

"I'm not city folk," Mahdi concedes. "I'm off in the desert most days. Care to tell the tale?"

Khadiya explains what she's learned so far about Naazim, The Market and the brothel. Mahdi nods, listening attentively. He takes another steady look around The Chattel Market as if seeing it for the first time. He nods to himself and turns back to Khadiya.

"I will see this delivered to Lady Hamada," he says, holding up the note. "You're sure you want to do this?"

"Or do what?" asks Khadiya. "Much as I dislike this power, I can put it to use, and Yrkala has become my home."

Mahdi shakes his head, she thinks she sees a smile in his eyes. "A sorcerer with morals. Wonders never cease."

Khadiya narrows her eyes and continues to the brothel.

Khadiya VP : 7, Naazim VP : 1.

Investigation Scene : An allied Actor can get you a clue at personal risk. Skill test to assist.

"Hey!" a hoarse voice whispers. "Over here!"

Khadiya stops near the brothel and looks toward the sandy alley where the voice had come from. The round sandstone building provides shelter for the thin man with emerald eyes. The two floors offering just enough height to create shade from the sun. She crosses the distance and stands in front of him, one fist on her hip.

"What are you doing here?" she asks forcefully.

"Where am I going to go?" he responds. "I don't even know where here is!"

"I told you where here was, but I want to know what you are doing here," Khadiya says, pointing at the ground in front of her feet.

"Maybe I don't like being abducted and want to pay them back. Look, I can help you get in. Unless you got a key, I doubt they're going to invite you in. You help me pay them back; I help you get inside. Easy, right?"

"What do you need me to do?"

"If you can climb up there," he points to the roof, "you can get in through the second floor."

"Me?" she asks. "What are you going to do?"

"If you swear to do this, I will be the bait."

"The what?"

"You'll see. Just make sure you save me, alright?"

"I think your idea of self-preservation is a little off but alright."

Khadiya rolls +INT to cast Spider Climb on herself : 10.

Khadiya approaches the wall as the man exits the alley and heads to the front of the building. Her hand opens, the book appears and turns itself to Embody the Spider's Walk. She performs the incantation, the mandala flares to life and breaks into four glowing rings of runes. Two rings attach to her wrists, spinning a lazy circle. The other two slide around her ankles.

Not troubled by the vertical surface, Khadiya walks along the wall as if it were any other floor. Nearing a window on the second floor, she crouches beside it and peers in. The room is extravagant compared to the rest of The Chattel Market. A bed that actually seems comfortable. Soft pillows. A burgundy rug with an intricate pattern traced in gold. And a tanned woman with wavy black hair. Blue bedlah lined in silver with a similar blue sirwal.

Khadiya rolls +DEX to sneak into the room and marks XP : 3.

Not much of a thief, Khadiya's foot scrapes loudly against the sandstone as she enters. The dark haired woman turns, startled, and sees Khadiya coming through her window while crawling on the ceiling. She lets out a scream. Almost instantly, a guard outside the door bursts in.

"What's go-" the guards words catch in his throat, turning toward the window that the dancer is pointing at. "How?"

Khadiya rolls +CHA and shoots the guard with an eldritch bolt : 11 and 2-harm inflicted.

His hestitation is all she needs. Kneeling on the ceiling, her hand flings a bolt of energy at the guard. It strikes him in the sternum and sends the guard into the wall. Her knees and toes release, and Khadiya lands on the floor.

"Please don't hurt me," the woman says. "When you came in..." her hand waves to the window.

Khadiya doesn't have the time to determine if she is lying or not. "The guard outside. You're a prisoner?"

The woman nods. "Basilia," she says, tapping her chest. "I dance here, but I think Naazim has other plans for me."

"You have met Naazim?"

"Yes. Unmistakable. He is nearly seven feet tall, large, like an ogre. He looks and sounds like a savage, but there is something in his eyes."

"Where is he now?"

"Downstairs, most likely."

"Wait here," and Khadiya walks out the door.

Khadiya VP : 8, Naazim VP : 1.

Action Scene : Sabotage to prevent the foe from using it.

Khadiya leaves Basilia in the room and takes a quick look outside the door. From the second floor, she can see over the railing down to the first. To her left and right, rooms, likely similar to the one behind her, line the walls. She looks up toward the ceiling, an elegant chandelier, far more valuable than a brothel in this area is likely to afford, sheds light throught the two level room.

Tables have been turned to sorting piles, valuable goods on some, worthless detritus on others. Barking orders down on the first level, a giant man paces and gesticulates, ordering his surrounding crew where particular goods should be placed. Near the front door, the emerald eyed man is talking animatedly with another. That other man in rust colored leather slaps him on the head and pushes him into a chair. The group of men gather at his plight, laughing amongst themselves, their duties momentarily forgotten.

"A perfect distraction, stranger," Khadiya mumbles, looking back at the chandelier.

Khadiya rolls +INT to cast mage hand : 10.

Limbs still encircled by the bands of glowing runes, she walks up the wall and across the ceiling. Her dark wand appears and waves a series of signs in the air, and a mandala opens, a spectral hand emerges from the center. She directs it to the chain preventing the chandelier from falling and takes a hold of it herself.

She counts to three silently then heaves the chandelier, assisted by the summoned hand, and barely pulls the source of light from its cradle. Gravity takes over and the chandelier is pulled from her hands. It falls and crashes on to the group of men beneath her.

Action Scene : Finale.

Naazim turns at the crash, his crew broken beneath the weight of the chandelier. He turns his dark gaze upward and spies Khadiya kneeling on the ceiling. Naazim sneers and walks to the table with valuable goods and rummages through the pile. From her vantage point, Khadiya rains a bolt of blue white light on Naazim.

Khadiya rolls +CHA to attack Naazim with an eldritch blast : 7 and inflicts 2-harm.

The bolt tears into the giant man, scoring a red welt across his shoulder and back. Naazim's back spasm, and he grimaces with a sharp intake of breath. The grimace becomes a grin as his hands find the object of his search : a bow. He turns up to Khadiya, an arrow ready to take flight.

Khadiya rolls +INT to drop to the floor and cast Armor of Agathys : 9, 2-harm received.

The fall from this height sends a shooting pain through her legs, however, she rolls forward to alleviate some of the impact. She comes to her feet and casts Rime Cloak of the Ancient Past, the wand and words summoning another mandala that flares to life then shatters into shimmering shards of ice. Her skin encased in a sheet of pale blue ice. The arrow finds its mark, crystal slivers spray back from Khadiya's shoulder as it deflects the attack. Naazim snarls and charges at her, pulling a sword off the table.

Khadiya rolls +CHA to attack Naazim : 8 and 4-harm inflicted, 1-harm received. Armor of Agathys expires.

Khadiya lances Naazim in the leg, the eldritch bolt slicing into his thigh. Undettered, Naazim swings the sword and strikes Khadiya in the arm. The rime sheathe turns the blow aside, more ice fly from the blow, then the rime cloak shatters. Icy shards swirl around Khadiya in a miniature whirlwind and tear through Naazim's flesh. A multitude of tiny cuts from razor thin edges. Naazim screams and collapses to the floor.

She turns to the man with emerald eyes and simply nods.

"Thank you," he says, "I wasn't sure if you would actually save me."

Khadiya smiles, "You were on the way."

"I see that. Thank you all the same." He gets up from the chair and walks up to Khadiya. "Nevan," he says. "Nevan Ferguson."

"Well, Nevan, let's pray that the rest of your stay is not nearly as eventful as today..."

Khadiya the Branded

Khadiya has flowing black hair and light brown eyes. Her tan skin is marked with white arcane sigils along her arms and back. She wears teal brigandine made of lizard skin and bone over her black sirwal and white tunic. Khadiya carries a pair of daggers, a crossbow and her adventuring pack.

+2 Charisma

+1 Dexterity*, Intelligence

+0 Constitution, Strength

-1 Wisdom*

Borrowed Time : You have the Blessing of Yrkali and, once per day, may increase your Harm track by +CHA when you take a life. The blessing resets at dawn.

Fragments of Forbidden Knowledge : You have the ability to invoke eldritch power. It counts as a basic move using Charisma.

Infernal Grimoire of Yrkali : You possess a spellbook and have the ability to cast spells. It counts as a basic move using Intelligence.

Cantrips Learned : eldritch blast, mage hand

Eldritch Invocations Discovered : devil's sight, thief of five fates

Spells Inscribed Within : Conduit of the Scorching Sun (burning hands), Embody the Spider's Walk (spider climb), Rime Cloak of the Ancient Past (armor of agathys), The Emir's Decree (command)

Gear : adventuring gear (5 uses), arcane focus (beech wand), blanket, common clothes, crossbow (2-harm 3 ammo near reload), daggers (1-harm hand), herbalism kit (4 uses), leather armor (1-armor), rabbit's foot, rations (5 uses), scroll case of arcane research notes (5 uses), 5 gold

[:45] [:30] [:15] [:10] [:05] [--:--] [:--] [:--]

XP [x] [x] [x] [ ] [ ]

Monday, August 24, 2020

Khadiya the Branded, Session Zero

What is this game about?

A sword and sorcery take on 5e D&D. An Athasian feel without being completely Athas, perhaps try Cinderheim again.

What are the stats?

Standard D&D ability scores : assign +2, +1, +1, +0, +0 and -1. For the solo game, the two highlighted stats will be determined by rolling a d6 twice.

Handling classes :

Classes follow Simple World instead of playbooks. Title with three specialties to start.

The Warlock (infernal grimoire, eldritch invocations, fiendish pacts)

The infernal grimoire is to recapture the spirit of spellcasters needing tomes and scrolls instead of having abilities internalized. Also in keeping with the sword and sorcery vibe, there are very few pacts available : fiend and hexblade, for example. The number of spells they know are the only spells in the grimoire and no other can be learned (keeping in line with earlier editions of D&D). Each spell may be cast once per day with the exception of cantrips. A character starts at the equivalent of third level ability.

There are no clerics or paladins in Cinderheim. There are healers, but the gods have left Cinderheim since the cataclysm.

I don't know if I'll actually use a gear list this game, but I've included it in session zero, just in case. I doubt I need much more than noting how much Harm something does or prevents.

Agenda, Principles and Moves :

Will be handled by Simple World first, Dungeon World second.

Khadiya the Branded

Khadiya has flowing black hair and light brown eyes. Her tan skin is marked with white arcane sigils along her arms and back. She wears teal brigandine made of lizard skin and bone over her black sirwal and white tunic. Khadiya carries a pair of daggers, a crossbow and her adventuring pack.

+2 Charisma

+1 Dexterity*, Intelligence

+0 Constitution, Strength

-1 Wisdom*

Blessing of Yrkali : You have the Dark One's Blessing and, once per day, may increase your Harm track by +CHA when you take a life.

Fragments of Forbidden Knowledge : You have the ability to invoke eldritch power. It counts as a basic move using Charisma.

Infernal Grimoire of Yrkali : You possess a spellbook and have the ability to cast spells. It counts as a basic move using Intelligence.

Cantrips Learned : eldritch blast, mage hand

Eldritch Invocations Discovered : devil's sight, thief of five fates

Spells Inscribed Within : armor of agathys, burning hands, command, spider climb

Gear : adventuring gear (5 uses), arcane focus (wand), blanket, common clothes, crossbow (2-harm 3 ammo near reload), daggers (1-harm hand), herbalism kit, leather armor (1-armor), rabbit's foot, rations (5 uses), scroll case of arcane research notes (5 uses), 5 gold

Harmony and White Breath Cave Finale

Re-reading Simple World, it's actually even simpler than the moves and such I had created. I'll lean more toward Simple World as written but keep the moves I made in the event Harmony tries something that isn't quite covered by Simple World. I've also shortened this adventure to more of a five room dungeon so I don't waste time writing about Yet Another Empty Room. Harmony had two encounters previously, so three left.

I'm still in a Simple World mood, but I also have an idea for 5e Mystara Sword and Sorcery. Mystara is still being internally debated, though.

White Breath Cave, Part III

"Ok," Harmony says, stepping up to the kneeling sorcerer. "What is Ghost Eye really doing in the cave? Why does he need laborers?"

Fung clears his throat. "It should have been a simple recovery mission. Get it, get out. But after we cleared the rubble, we came across the traps. The mist is poison; breathing it killed the first few laborers. Then the statue... when a laborer reached for the scroll, it came to life and cut him in two! A vicious beast made of metal. Ghost Eye sent laborers, one after the other, to no avail."

"And you allowed this to happen?" she asks, voice dangerously quiet.

"Well, yes, I ha-"

The jian sings as it whips out of its scabbard. One slice and Fung falls quiet. Blood pours onto the ground, and Harmony cleans the blade before putting it back in its place.

"You lost your soul dealing with sorcery."

One of the other men begins to stir. Harmony glances over her shoulder, saying, "Go back to Willow Bridge. You have a chance at redemption," then walks back towards the trees.

Harmony's meager scouting ability reveals a hidden path leading to the north. She eyes the trail that passes around the hills, deciding that this may shorten the journey. A day later, the cave looms in front of Harmony. Her approach is lined by trees slowly mutating, the leaves curl and wither. The trunks warp and grow bulbous protrusions. Twenty feet from the cave, all vegetation has died. White mist seeps from the cave's mouth and conceals the ground.

Harmony rolls +Thief to search the hall within the cave and marks XP : 10.

The thick mist roils across the floor, reaching up to her knees. Harmony enters the cave and makes her way down into the passageway carved into the rock at an excruciatingly slow pace. The mist nearly conceals everything under her feet, so she takes extra precautions to keep her footing. Her caution is rewarded as she nears a four way intersection; Harmony's eyes catch the briefest glimpse of a pit in the middle of the intersection, a narrow ledge allowing safe passage down each corridor.

Picking a careful path around the pit, Harmony continues toward the right hand passage, the other two entombed beneath rubble that had not yet been cleared by the laborers. The passage takes her through a small series of rooms : a dining hall, a kitchen, sleeping quarters for the lower ranking members of the cult. Then a light catches her eye. Her pace slows even further.

Harmony rolls +Thief to stealthily approach the room and marks XP : 7, reveal an unwelcome truth.

Harmony approaches the doorway and peers in. A lone figure is pacing and talking to himself within a room covered in carvings of demons rampaging across the countryside, other carvings show demons slaughtering people. The eyes of the demons within the carvings seem to watch the figure in his pacing. His black robes are tied by a yellow sash. His head clean shaven but for the well groomed white goatee.

"We've lost all the laborers to that accursed statue," he utters to the carvings. "No matter what we try, the thing kills whoever touches the scroll." He rubs his chin, "Thankfully, it can not get past the treasury."

Harmony looks down the hall then back at the robed figure. She has an idea and slips by the opening. Further down the hall, she finds the vault the man had been ranting about. Lined with torches lit by ghostly blue flames, the entire chamber is covered by tapestries depicting scenes of slaughter. In the center is a suit of ornate armor, its mask the visage of a smiling demon. Its hands hold an equally ornate jian. At its feet is a bamboo scroll, corpses surrounding it with signs of singular cuts.

"Can't leave the vault, hm?" she ponders, pulling her rope and grappling hook from the satchel she carries.

Harmony rolls +Thief to snare the scroll from the vault and marks XP : 7, show signs of an approaching threat.

The grapple sails through the air and lands behind the bamboo scroll. Harmony smiles and begins to draw the scroll towards her. The head of the statue snaps to level an empty gaze at Harmony. She pulls the rope faster, even as she hears footsteps coming down the corridor behind her.

Harmony snatches the scroll from the floor just as Ghost Eye comes into view. The statue runs toward the door with supernatural speed, the jian rising in preparation for an overhead chop.

Harmony rolls +Warrior to tumble forward and push Ghost Eye out of her way : 8, turn their move back on them.

She rolls away from the blade as it crashes into the stone where she stood. The suit emits an infuriated howl. Harmony breaks into a sprint and runs along the wall, using her momentum to spring at Ghost Eye and shoulder past him. Ghost Eye falls back against the wall, his hand flailing out and catching a hold of the scroll. Harmony and Ghost Eye glare at each other, both of them holding one end of the scroll. Ghost Eye's other hand pushes forward to knock Harmony off balance, using the scroll and her as leverage to pry himself off the wall.

Harmony rolls +Warrior to avoid the shove and elbow Ghost Eye : 9. 2 harm inflicted.

Harmony attempts to roll with the shove, her elbow striking Ghost Eye across the temple. He exhales sharply but continues forward, one foot snaking behind Harmony and tripping her to the ground. His free hand comes down toward Harmony's shoulder.

Harmony rolls +Warrior to grapple Ghost Eye with her legs : 8, 2 harm received.

She hisses as the fist impacts her shoulder, the grip on the scroll loosening. Harmony brings up her legs and wraps her legs around Ghost Eye's head. Ghost Eye grabs hold of the scroll with both his hands and pulls.

Harmony rolls +Warrior to grab one of Ghost Eye's arms in an arm bar : 7.

At the expense of losing the scroll to Ghost Eye, both her hands grab one of his arms. Harmony uses her legs and his head as a fulcrum and twists. Ghost Eye's arm locks uncomfortably beneath one of Harmony's knees. He stands in spite of the pain and punches at her leg.

Harmony rolls +Warrior to break the arm : 12. 2 harm inflicted, 2 harm received.

The fist sends pain up Harmony's thigh. Enough of an incentive to end the fight quickly. Using one leg and both hands, she applies as much pressure on Ghost Eye's arm as she can muster. The limb gives way with an audible crack. He screams, relinquishing his hold on the scroll and falls to the floor while cradling his arm gingerly. The animated armor seethes from his view at the doorway, white mist billowing from the nostrils.

Breath heaving, Harmony rises and grabs the scroll from the floor. Her jian comes out of its scabbard as she stalks toward Ghost Eye.

He grimaces and stares up at her, "This is only one part of The Battle Scroll," he grunts.

The jian stabs into the back of Ghost Eye's neck. Harmony pulls the blade free and sends a glare toward the demon statue. It continues to loom in the doorway, its bulk blocking most of the light. Sheathing the jian, she sets the scroll within the satchel and turns back toward Willow Bridge.

GM Note : End of session, Harmony spends her 5 XP to learn a new move. She chooses to learn the technique from The Battle Scroll.

Lin Jingyi, "Harmony"

Harmony's small athletic form wears black cotton trousers and sash with a steel blue cross collar tunic. She has long ebony hair pulled into a tail and mahogany eyes.

Moral Code : somewhat kind, totally focused, somewhat selfish, very honorable, very brave

Descriptors Heart of silver; selfish but just

+2 Warrior

+1 Detective*, Scout, Thief*

+0 Alchemist, Leader, Mystic, Scholar, Sorcerer, Strategist

"Air is as Real as You or Me" : While you have one Qi, you may leap long distances as part of your movement, run on water and move on vertical surfaces.

Final Parry : Spend one Qi, you may destroy your weapon or shield and reduce incoming Harm to 0.

"Overwhelming Phoenix Strike" : Spend one Qi, your attack is +1 harm.

"Thundering Whirlwind Kick" : You may split your Harm inflicted against multiple opponents.

Gear : fine fan, grappling hook, Heavenly Pill (cure one condition), jian (2-harm hand), needles (1-harm 3 ammo close), Pill of the Ox (+1 forward on physical tasks), riding horse, survival pack, 3-tael

[:45] [:30] [:15] [:10] [:05] [:--]

XP : [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ] [ ]

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Harmony and White Breath Cave Remastered, Additional Thoughts and Part II

With a few more hours to think it over, I've come to the conclusion that there are a few more tweaks needed for this. Back in 2018, I contemplated that Fate is Apocalypse World is 5E. Could this be Fate of the Wuxia Apocalypse?

1. Harm should work more like Fate's Stress. It clears at the end of every scene. I think that would make it more cinematic.

2. There are two basic moves (arguably, three) that is omnipresent:

When you attempt to overcome an obstacle, roll +appropriate skill :

On a 10+ : You do the thing.

On a 7-9 : You do the thing with a minor cost.

On a 6- : You either fail to do the thing or do the thing at a significant cost.

When you attempt to create an advantage to do a thing, roll +appropriate skill :

On a 10+ : Impose a condition (read Aspect). Take +1 forward until the condition is handled.

On a 7-9 : Take +1 forward.

(Optional) When you unleash a flurry of blows, roll +Warrior :

On a 10+ : choose 2 : Inflict stress, avoid receiving stress or take the hit in exchange to inflict stress again.

On a 7-9 : choose 1 : Inflict stress or avoid receiving stress.

Those two, or three, moves should cover just about every situation that will come up in game. These are borrowed from the Fate SRD. The Defend action won't be needed.

3. In coordination with the Stress track, you can take conditions (read Consequences) to remain fighting. These can represent sprains, broken bones and the like.

4. Qi. Every session, start with one Qi. Why one? Because we have a move that can generate three. If you want three, use the move.

5. Qi can function like a fate point. Descriptors can function like Aspects. Aspects can be compelled to award a fate point. Descriptors could be compelled to award Qi. Maybe include a title or High Concept as well, or would that be too much Qi? Is there such a thing as too much Qi?

6. If you'd rather use hit points instead of a Stress track, I'd suggest 15 hit points, +3 per rank in Warrior or Mystic (whichever is higher). Why Mystic? Because monk like characters that aren't necessarily warriors should be rewarded, too. Maybe they practice Iron Body.

That being said, the next scene or two or more in the story with the above in effect.

White Breath Cave, Part II

Harmony looks down at the two unconscious bandits. "So, you decided to rob the tea house?"

"You don't understand," one of the bandits mutters. "Since the four men with yellow sashes came, people have gone missing. Ghost Eye hired several of us as laborers to work in the cave, then people started disappearing. Some even died!"

Mother Chong steps in from the kitchen. "It's true. The trouble began when Ghost Eye and his companions showed up."

The other bandit nods, "When we found out that Ghost Eye wanted to uncover a demon relic, we ran. This village was the first one we've seen in days."

"What does this cave look like?" asks the blind man in a hushed voice.

GM Note : I had mistakenly written the village was named White Breath last post; the village is Willow Bridge.

"A demon's face with white fog."

The blind man leans back in his chair. "White Breath Cave," he says. "I was there once. The cave was a meeting place for Ming sorcerers."

"And you are?" asks Harmony.

"Mang Zhao," he nods politely toward the sound of her voice. "I believe the demon relic is really one of the six chapters of The Battle Scroll." Mang Zhao leans forward, "It may not be a demon relic, but it is powerful. If it were not for..." he taps the bandage across his eyes. "Some of my possessions were lost in that cave. If you swear to recover the chapter, you are welcome to them."

Harmony marks XP for Heart of Silver.

Vows are not sworn lightly. Yet, Harmony can't let these Ming cultists walk away with a chapter of The Battle Scroll unchallenged. And there was the matter of Mang Zhao's possessions. Perhaps helping this village would work in her favor. "Alright, I swear to retrieve the chapter of The Battle Scroll or prevent the Ming cultists from doing so. Where is this White Breath Cave?"

One of the bandits replies, "3 days north, through the hills."

"An adventure requires supplies," Mother Chong adds. She hands a small bundle of goods accompanied by two bottles to Harmony. "Food, wine and medicine. One box with a Pill of the Ox; the other has a Heavenly Pill." She winks, "I can make more than just food. Thank you for your help. And the four of you," Mother Chong becomes stern, hands on her hips. "If you were looking for work, you can start by fixing that table and chair."

Pill of the Ox : +1 forward on a physical move when consumed.

Heavenly Pill : Cure one condition.

Harmony rolls +Scout to follow the trail left by the bandits : 11.

Halfway through the first day of travel, Harmony spies three men sitting by a camp fire. All three wear black trousers and tunics; the one sitting and eating something off a spit wears a yellow sash. The trio are just off the dirt path that the bandits from Willow Bridge probably used. The surrounding terrain is populated with hills lined with tall trees. Harmony enters the tree line to stalk closer to the three, pondering how best to make the yellow sash talk.

Harmony rolls +Thief to stealthily approach the group and marks XP : 10.

"Maybe we shouldn't have left the others," one mumbles.

"And do what? You saw the same as me, the other three are cruel."

"But Fung just eats. How are we going to survive if he's sitting there eating."

Harmony shifts her gaze toward Fung. The daylight reveals a black sigil tattooed on his forehead. The first step, then, is to get Fung alone. She looks back at the inattentive pair.

Per other Powered by the Apocalypse titles, this isn't a combat, so there will not be a die roll. Harmony simply inflicts harm as they are taken by surprise.

Harmony glides forward then takes a quick sprint up the trunk of a tree. She kicks off and swoops down on the two unsuspecting men. Putting her Thundering Whirlwind Kick to use, one foot snakes out, a flying kick drives into one man's head. Harmony lands in a crouch and springs to her feet, another kick lashes out and strikes the other's chest. The second man flies back into a tree and slumps to the ground.

The one named Fung sets the spit with half-eaten food on the ground. He rises to his feet, hands up in supplication. Older, head and face shaved, Fung almost looks the part of any other laborer. "I'm not here to fight," he says.

"Then you can answer some questions."

"No, what I mean to say is, if you want to avoid this fight, you will pay me to leave you alone," he smiles, eyebrow arching thoughtfully. "A hundred tael?"

"A hundred tael?" Harmony scoffs, "For what?"

Fung begins to chant thick, guttural sounds, a language that borders on inhuman. Coils of black smoke begin to coalesce and snake around his hands.

Harmony rolls +Warrior to unleash a flurry of blows : 9. 2 stress inflicted; 2 stress received.

Concerned that this is some kind of malicious spell, Harmony surges forward and smashes into Fung's chest with a palm strike. Fung staggers back with a vicious grin and punches in her direction. The coil of smoke that wraps around the limb extend, parting like a striking viper and bites into her arm. Fung's hand jerks upward and tugs, as if the tendril were some kind of rope or leash; Harmony begins to lurch forward.

Harmony rolls +Warrior and follows through with another attack : 8. 2 stress inflicted. 1 stress received. Fung chooses to take one condition instead of being knocked out.

Fung's other hand whips a second tendril around Harmony's neck. It constricts and tightens, cutting off her breath. She retaliates and kicks Fung in the stomach, loosening her restraints. She takes a deep breath then hammers her fist down on the back of Fung's head.

"I yield!" his voice a rasp, his own breath slowly recovering. "I yield," he says in a defeated tone. The dark vapors dissipate and release Harmony. "I left the other three; I couldn't support them any more. They aren't worth dying for."

GM Note : Encounter #2 complete. Reviewing to see if Fate of the Wuxia Apocalypse needs anything else.

Lin Jingyi, "Harmony"

Harmony's small athletic form wears black cotton trousers and sash with a steel blue cross collar tunic. She has long ebony hair pulled into a tail and mahogany eyes.

Moral Code : somewhat kind, totally focused, somewhat selfish, very honorable, very brave

Descriptors Heart of silver; selfish but just

+2 Warrior

+1 Detective*, Scout, Thief*

+0 Alchemist, Leader, Mystic, Scholar, Sorcerer, Strategist

"Air is as Real as You or Me" : While you have one Qi, you may leap long distances as part of your movement, run on water and move on vertical surfaces.

Final Parry : Spend one Qi, you may destroy your weapon or shield and reduce incoming Harm to 0.

"Thundering Whirlwind Kick" : You may split your Harm inflicted against multiple opponents.

Gear : fine fan, grappling hook, Heavenly Pill (cure one condition), jian (2-harm hand), needles (1-harm 3 ammo close), Pill of the Ox (+1 forward on physical tasks), riding horse, survival pack, 3-tael

[:45] [:30] [:15] [:10] [:05] [:--]

XP : [x] [x] [ ] [ ] [ ]