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Dan
Posted by the GM
Mummy's Mask
Background
Osirion, a land of shifting sands and arid wastes, may seem like one of the few constants in this ever-changing world, but it has had its share of upheavals in its 80 centuries of history. One such event took place in the city of Wati 2000 years ago, when a cult dedicated to the goddess of madness and monsters unleashed a plague that killed most of the populace and drove the rest into exile. Over 400 years later Pharasma's church claimed the ruins, turning them in a vast necropolis to honor the dead within. As time passed, a new city sprung up around the old one and Wati lived again. Old Wati's dead have lain undisturbed for centuries, but the time has come for that to change.

Seven years ago Pharaoh Khemet III, something of a modernizer, decreed that Osirion's ancient tombs would at last be opened, and the country's history shared with the world. The decision was a pragmatic one for several reasons. A) There's little point in ruling a kingdom known for vast wealth if most of that wealth is buried beneath a billion tons of sand, B) adventuring parties tend to sell their spoils in the nearest city that can afford them, rather than lug them around the globe to fence, C) the little sods were so prone to robbing tombs on the sly anyway that a cottage industry had arisen dealing in adamantine shovels and crowbars, and D) the only things the tombs were more famous for containing than wealth were deadly traps and deadlier guardians. Better them than the military.

The plan was a success, with each unearthing of a major ruin causing an economic boom in the area around it. At last it is Wati's turn, and your little band has come to claim its chance at the riches, power, and knowledge that surely lie just beneath your feet.
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Your mission, Pathfinders...
You and your fellow Pathfinders have joined noted Osirionologist and Pathfinder, Professor T. A. Forthlake, at Sandswept Hall, the Sothis Lodge. As you relax around small tables in the cool shade of the Lodge's garden, a servant pours tea. After a leisurely exchange of pleasantries, Forthlake finishes his cup and peers over his monocle as he addresses you.

"I understand your time is valuable, so please forgive me if I dispense with formalities and get down to brass tacks--or rivets, as it might well turn out. Venture-Captain Balentiir has received a letter from one Eliza Baratella, an Alkenstar Minister of Parliament, requesting the Society's aid in a matter of some delicacy."

He leans in. "Apparently, someone in Alkenstar's government is plotting against Minister Baratella and the Clockwork City itself. Now look here: despite our individual proclivities, the Society as a whole tries to stay above local politics. However, we have standing arrangements with the current government of Alkenstar that could be jeopardized if this plot were to result in a tumultuous regime change. And that, young fellow-my-lad, is something we cannot allow. Moreover, the opportunity to get a seasoned team of explorers into the Mana Wastes is one we can't ignore.

"Your mission, Pathfinders, is to travel to Alkenstar, meet with Minister Baratella at her offices at the Brass Guild, and aid her in any capacity. While you're there, keep your eyes open for anything that could be of interest to the Society, but remember your primary duty is to suss out the truth of this seditious plot.

"Be advised: the Mana Wastes are so called because the ancient war between the archmages Nex and Geb scarred the region. Magic may function unpredictably there, if it functions at all. The locals have developed clockwork constructs and sophisticated gunpowder weapons to defend themselves against the mutants that roam the wastes. You won't be able to travel by magic as you may be accustomed. I've arranged for you to teleport to Nexus House, in Quantium, where you'll take a boat up the Ustradi River from Nex. You can provision yourself here, or in Quantium or Alkenstar; all are major cities, though you're unlikely to find any magic for sale in the City of Smog.

"Now, I'm sure you have questions, but I'm afraid you will have to save them for Minister Baratella. I've told you all I know about the matter."
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Tags: Introduction
Episode 1: The Traitor's Gambit
STAR WARS: DAWN OF DEFIANCE

Episode I

THE TRAITOR’S GAMBIT



It is a dark time in the galaxy. The evil Galactic Empire has spread from the Deep Core to the Outer Rim, and everywhere the Empire’s tyranny can be felt.

Fleeing from the oppression of the Emperor’s minions, agents of Senator Bail Organa have run to a remote space station above Brentaal. Known to be a vocal opponent of the Empire, Organa may be the last hope of freedom in the galaxy.

In the hopes of stopping these dissidents before they can reach the Senator, the Empire has alerted its forces on Sel Zonn Station, where the struggle for liberty rages on, and the first sparks of rebellion have begun to burn...
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Epic × 2!
Meetings and Beginnings - 1/14/2015
An adventuring party has been assembled to assist the hamlet of Kusnir, in Berghof. All in attendance have been summoned by Evard, a mage and information broker of some repute:

Corin Starbreeze (myself) - a Human Avenger (Paladin)
Varis Sungreeter (Clint) - A Wood Elf Cleric
Anton Ramondo (Ray) - A Human Ranger
Oscar Stoneslapper (Chad) - A Dwarf Ranger
Aramil (Ben) - A Half-Elf Fighter (Eldritch Knight)

We met an old man named Kurst, who spun a tale of the town's recent misfortune. Something has been making off with food/animals/people, leaving odd graffiti scrawled here and there, and just causing general distruction. Kurst believes the culprit is a Skulk - a shadowy, subterranean creature of the night - though he seems unclear on what a Skulk actually is.

To begin with, we examined the scene of a recent attack. Varis took notes of the graffiti... it seemed to be some sort of arcane mark... or possibly just a language none of us could read.

Next, we mingled at the local tavern, and asked around for information on the attacks. Many of the locals claimed to know what was going on, and we heard the following rumors... though not all seemed credible:
  • (Probably True) Group went to cut logs north of Ganaway 2 months ago – didn’t come back
  • (Probably True) The cause of all the troubles in Kusnir is a mad Skulk
  • (Probably True) Only a skulk could’ve done the terrible things that have happened recently in Kusnir
  • (Unclear) Ganaway has been attacked by a horde of small blue men
  • (Unclear) There’s an encampment of evil creatures by the river Lewyn, upstream from the bridge
  • (Unclear) Corpses of strangely colored (blue?) creatures have been seen floating down the river near the bridge past Ganaway
  • (Probably False) An assassin is at work in Kusnir
  • (Probably False) There’s a tribe of Skulks living in a camp by the river Lewyn
  • (Probably False) Swarms of huge rats have overwhelmed farms near Chiswell
  • (Probably False) Lake Spendlow is inhabited by an evil spirit, which must be appeased by sacrifices

We stayed the night at the inn, and Anton (who spent the night on the roof) woke to more graffiti scrawled next to him at some point in the night. It seemed to be the same as what we had found earlier. With nothing further to investigate in town, we stopped at a nearby marketplace... in hopes that someone there could translate the graffiti.

At the marketplace, we came across a gypsy fortuneteller. We negotiated with her for a translation of the graffiti - for 15 gold and a reading for Aramil. The reading mentioned that he would face his past, that it would come to a head underground, and something about a sickly blue face. Around that time, Aramil noticed that his signet ring was 'missing', though it was fortunately recovered.

The graffiti translated as follows (according to the gypsy):
  • Danger – forces of evil gather
  • Come to me - free the power to combat evil
  • Hasten or witness dire destruction
  • I await the coming of the bearer - I am the Sentinel
  • Evil grows strong - Help me overcome - Danger

This gave us something to think about, regarding the nature of this 'Skulk', but no clear path forward. Thus, we returned to the scene of the last attack. Anton and Oscar led the way in following the creature's tracks. The tracks led East to the river Lewyn, followed the river NorthEast (across the road), and on to a small fort on a hillock.

The fort had a simple log wall, and assorted spears/helmets/etc poking over... suggesting it was occupied. We approached the fort cautiously... circling around to make sure the tracks didn't lead off elsewhere. It turned out to be deserted (above-ground at least)... the helmets and such were strung up, and swaying in the breeze. We did find a tunnel inside, which led into the hillock.

As we made our way down the tunnel, Aramil encountered a pit/spike trap - concealed by a tarp. We were able to help him out, and resolved to test the ground more carefully going forward. There has been no sign of recent occupants in the tunnel thus far. The tunnel was clearly dug by humanoid hands... though in some haste perhaps (or just not intended as a permanent structure). Onward, to the Skulk, or the little blue men, or something else entirely!
Session: The Journey Begins. - Wednesday, Jan 14 2015 from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
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First Session Recap
"What fool hath added water to the sea, or brought a faggot to bright-burning Troy?" - Titus Andronicus Act III, Scene I

Travelling companions, Sebastian the Magician, Roly the Dwarf, and Varica the Elf, arrive at The Inn of the Three Squires as the sun begins to set. They find the inn lifeless. It has been ransacked of anything useful or valuable, and a trail of smeared blood leads down into the basement.

Roly lights a large fire in the hearth of the inn to rest up and think over their plans. After an hour or so, they alight a torch and descend into the basement of the inn.

The rickety stairs give out from underneath them, the beams having been cut by whoever lurks down in the darkness. All three successfully cushion their falls by rolling.

They find themselves in a large room with two doors. The left door has been barricaded while the blood trail leads to the right door. Varica puts her ear up to the barricade and hears the whimpering of an animal. She asks Roly to remove the barricade, and the three of them enter the room. Inside they find a dog cowering behind casks of (mostly) spoiled sour beer. Varica gives a portion of her rations to the dog and comforts it. Her keen elven vision also spots that one of the racks of kegs is on wheels. Moving it aside, she springs a net trap that ensnares her companions! Additionally, the snarling and grunting sounds of some hideous man-creatures are heard coming from the other door in the basement. Just as Varica is able to cut her companions free, a band of five Kobolds arrive. Sebastian recognizes these creatures, and even understands a little bit of their language.

Kobolds: Long ago, there lived a half-folk along the rivers and in the hills. They were a simple people, fishing and tending small gardens. One day a priest of the White Wyrm came and offered them salvation or death. Those who took 'salvation' followed the priest and his minions deep underground, where they drank of the Wyrm's blood and became the lizard-like creatures called Kobolds (from the Dwarven word Kahbilte, which means Wyrmling).

Thinking quickly, Sebastian disguises himself as one of the creatures with his weirding spell, 'Arcane Semblance'. He tries to convince the Kobolds that he has caught the dwarf and elf, offering them as gifts to the champion of their clan, whose prestige precedes him. The kobolds however do not buy the story, and attack them in a swarm.

Sebastian, Roly, and Varica wake up in the dim light of a large wooden cage deep inside a limestone cave. Off in the distance they can see a band of kobold warriors roasting the dog on a spit! Varica becomes enraged at the death of the dog. They realize they have been stripped of their gear, which sits in a pile against the wall near the Kobolds' fire. In the cage are also 11 other prisoners-those from the inn who were not killed and eaten. They tell the travelers that the kobolds plan to cook them in a stew or offer them as sacrifices to the White Wyrm. Hungry, thirsty, and exhausted, the travelers desperately try to escape the cage. The inn's carpenter gives them crude 'daggers' that he made by dearing off strips of wood from the cage. Roly notices a loose beam on the roof of the cage, and crawls up to move it aside. Will they escape without alerting the Kobolds? Can they save the other people and escape the limestone cavern?

To be continued...

[Game Notes] We learned a few things about Torchbearer. Coming from games like D&D and WOW, it was hard for all of us to wrap our heads around the idea that failing roles can still mean you succeed at what you're trying to do, but with consequences. When Sebastian tried to trick the Kobolds we treated it as a riddle/trick conflict. This was probably not the best type of conflict for our very first conflict ever. It was confusing as hell trying to learn the conflict rules in this extremely abstract situation (where you 'attack' 'defend', etc. in a... ugh, trick). It was frustrating to find the book lists trick and riddle as the same type of conflict, then only gives 'weapons' and examples for actual riddles (like Bilbo and Gollum style riddles). To make matters worse, Jen (playing Sebastian), the party leader for the conflict, rolled all fails on every die! They lost the conflict by a margin of three, and this is where I messed up the rules. As a twist, I went a little over-the-top and had the Kobolds knock-out and cage the party. After reading through the book again, that was a pretty hefty punishment for failing a riddle conflict. I probably should have let it escalate into a drive off or some other conflict, with a compromise (I realized I was not giving out very many conditions). Anyway, lesson learned. Now they are deep in the dungeon, and maybe, to look on the bright side, they've found the prisoners, at least. We are all pretty excited to continue next week.
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