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Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 7, Part 2

A splash of cold water revived the groggy Satampra the swashbuckler. He felt nauseous, his whole body ached, and it was an effort to move his limbs. But he was still alive, because ever since 3E D&D, poison has been an amazingly ineffective way to kill someone in this game. Despite the drama of my description, the reality was that Satampra only took 1 point of Strength & Constitution damage. Then he had someone fetch his totally-not-Keoghtom’s Ointment and used almost of it to cure himself and all the other lords.

Now that his system was no longer being ravaged by dark reaver powder, the Emperor recalled that he saw a servant with blond hair and ice-blue eyes sprinkle something on the dishes that were headed to the lords’ table. At the time, he had just thought it to be some spice, but now the act took on a more sinister cast. Guards were sent out to look for the servant, but it appeared that he had fled before the poison had taken effect.

Remesio the cleric suspected that their host, the deathly ill Lord Biala, was involved with this attempt on the rebel leaders’ lives, and he demanded that he be allowed to diagnose the Lord. The other leaders supported him, and the Lady Jalina Biala was forced to rescind her previous order that her husband be left alone. A sorcerer from House Orlovsky accompanied the priest to check for any arcane funny stuff. They found that Biala was, indeed, lying in bed and looking very sick. Though after giving him a thorough Heal check, Remesio determined that Biala was not suffering from an illness so much as he was suffering from a slow-acting poison! The last of the Restorative Ointment was fetched and applied, but it seemed to have no effect on the victim.

Back downstairs, Lord Poul Orlovsky had been questioning the servants about the poisoner, but the obviously terrified servers claimed that they didn’t know him and begged for mercy. On the lords’ orders, they were locked up until their innocence could be assured. Furthermore, the town gates were closed so that no one could enter or leave Wightwood.

Masked Menace

As the different parties desultorily left the keep for their assigned quarters in the surrounding town, Satampra donned his black mask so that he could roam the dark rooftops in his vigilante guise! Wightwood, being a smallish sort of settlement, didn’t have much happening on its rooftops this evening, so the swashbuckler turned his attention onto the guards at the town gates.

He leaped down in front of the guards, startling them, and started to question them about anyone entering or leaving despite the orders to close the gates. The guards, understandably, did not not take kindly to this masked stranger barking questions at them, and leveled their weapons at him. But Satampra is an 11th level martial PC, and he quickly disarmed them and then Intimidated them into submission.

“We were just following orders,” muttered one of the guards. When pressed, they revealed that the Lady Biala told them to say nothing to the visiting dignitaries about any other strangers in town, or their Lord would be killed! Clearly, thought the masked swordsman, the Lady is being blackmailed! With that information in hand, the mystery man leaped away, removed his disguise in a convenient alleyway, and made for Lord Gurev Medyved’s lodgings.

Knife From the Dark

The Emperor pounded on the door, told the servant who answered that he needed to speak to Lord Medyved, immediately, and was asked to wait outside while the Lord was roused and made ready. Even the best homes in Wightwood were too basic to have a foyer, apparently. While Satampra stood there, wondering how to expose the blackmailer, he caught sight of motion on a roof across the street! He drew his blade with great alacrity, only dimly aware of something hurtling towards him, but was unable to dodge it or strike it off its course. The thrown blade sunk deeply into his shoulder, dealing quite a bit of damage and poisoning him as well!

The swashbuckler ripped the blade out and bounded up to the offending rooftop with the help of his boots of elvenkind. There he found his prospective assassin, who seemed surprised that Satampra was both still alive, and sharing the roof with him. The assassin was not the man whom Satampra had seen sprinkling something – presumably poison – onto the food, which meant there was more than one enemy to contend with. But this fellow had no intention of divulging the names of his accomplices! He clicked the heels of his rather fancy-looking boots together, and took off at a very great speed, much faster than Satampra could follow.

After conferring briefly with Gurev (“Good gods, Emperor, you look terrible!”), Lord Poul Orlovsky and the Swordlords were also roused, and all marched to the keep, where they confronted the Lady Biala. She threw herself onto the ground, sobbing and begging for forgiveness. She told them that strange men arrived in town before the dignitaries, and poisoned her husband, and would only agree to give him the antidote if she let them pose as servants and kept everyone else’s mouths shut. She didn’t know what they planned on doing! And she had to protect her husband!

From her confession, the lords determined that there were about a half dozen of the enemy agents hidden among the servants. Which meant they had all been locked up earlier! But when the group marched down to retrieve them, they found the guards’ throats slit and the assassins gone. The regular servants remained locked up in their cells.

With that grim discovery, it was agreed that everyone should spend the rest of the night in the feast hall, under heavy watch. Hopefully that would frustrate any further attacks from the assassins.

Next: further attacks!

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Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 7, Part 1

Noleski Surtova’s initial attempt to strike at Caerelia had not only failed, it inspired a rebellion against his rule as Regent of Brevoy! The various players in the rebellion – the Great Houses, the city-state of Restov, and Caerelia itself – have readied their armies, but winter was almost upon them. There would be time for one great battle, if that, before the snows came. If the rebels hoped to win the war, they needed a decisive blow to be struck before the Surtovas could solidify their defenses.

Frustrated with the limits of sending spells, the leaders of the rebel side called for a face-to-face gathering in order to discuss strategy. A site roughly in the middle of rebel territory was chosen – a small town in southern Medyved lands called Wightwood*, located south of the East Sellen River. The meeting was to take place in one week, which gave the Caerelians just enough time to get there on their flying carpet.

* Originally I had named the town Whitewood, but when Bill heard me say the name he assumed it was Wightwood. Which was a much cooler name, and definitely better suited for a settlement in D&D land! And so when he asked if that’s how the name was spelled, I smiled and said, “Yes!”

The Caerelian armies were ordered to garrison at Oleg’s Gate, save for the kobolds who were sent to assist Salar’s Pathfinders – a small unit of elite rangers – in keeping an eye on the border with Fort Drelev, where there were still scattered reports of raiders. With the main forces underway, Satampra the swashbuckler, Remesio the cleric, Orseen the warpriest, and Aurelius the halfling fighter hopped on their carpet and started flying north to Wightwood! Aurelius Heptamus was Bill’s character before Orseen, a sword-and-board fighter who died, was reincarnated as a halfling, and subsequently retired from active play. Bill likes to bring him out for diplomatic occasions such as this, as Aurelius is still the kingdom Councilor. This meant he had two characters to play, but the other players didn’t mind, and the halfling only participates in talky scenes anyway.

The flight north to Wightwood was mostly uneventful, save for a surprise sending from the High Priest of Brevoy to Emperor Satampra! As sendings are limited to 25 words, it took the Priest a couple of castings to get through all of his titles, and then all of Regent Surtova’s titles, for whom the cleric was speaking. Satampra rolled his eyes as the voice droned on an on, until eventually it got to the point, which was also expressed in convoluted language and took a few more prayers to get through. “The Regent congratulates you on your victory over the unlawful invasion of Baron Jaroslav Kruskel into your holdings. Nevertheless, the Baron is a close personal friend,” [break], “of the Regent, and we wish to secure his prompt release. We are aware that he survived the battle, but are concerned that your messenger,” [break], “carrying the terms of Baron Jaroslav Kruskel’s ransom may have been waylaid. We wish to discuss this matter directly and resolve it forthwith.” 

Ah. In fact, no such messenger had been sent, and the Emperor was in no hurry to send one. Especially now, since it appeared that the Baron was so highly valued by Regent Noleski Surtova that he went through all of this trouble! This surprised me a bit as the group had agreed among themselves to ransom Jaroslav back, but it seemed that since that time they had become concerned that sending him home might lead to trouble.

“Additionally,” came the voice again into Satampra’s head, “the Regent wishes to avoid this misunderstanding from leading to further violence. Baron Kruskel acted of his own accord, and the Dragonscale Throne does,” [break], “not desire further conflict with Caerelia at this time. We wish for our two kingdoms to deliberate upon this unfortunate accident further, under terms of,” [break], “peace.”

Ah! So news of Caerelia’s allies rising up against the throne must have reached the capital. Responding was technically a matter for the full council (after the Grigori incident, the PCs agreed to run these sorts of decisions past the entire council first), but Satampra was too pleased with himself to wait until they were back in Stagfell before answering. After a brief discussion with Remesio and Aurelius, Remesio prayed a short and simple sending back to the High Priest of Brevoy: “No and No.”

Still, if the Regent was trying to entice them to sit out the rebellion, he had probably also gone to work on the other members of the rebellion. The rulers realized they should be wary when they reached Wightwood.

The Last Supper

Wightwood was a small town nestled in the great Gronzi forest in Medyved lands, located near the East Sellen River. It was ruled by a minor Lord named Biala, who ruled from a small, squat keep that sat atop a small, squat hill. The House Orlovsky and Medyved contingents had reached the town ahead of the Caerelians; everyone was now waiting on the Swordlords. But in the meantime, the Emperor of Caerelia finally got to meet the patriarchs of two of Brevoy’s Great Houses, Lords Gurev Medyved and Poul Orlovsky. Gurev was a genial man, who acted friendly with Satampra and asked after his niece Pelagia, who served as Caerelia’s Marshal. Poul was somber and serious, until the topic of the Surtovas came up. It was clear he hated them with a vengeance for “seizing” the Dragonscale Throne and “not lifting one finger” to find the missing royal bloodline.

The leaders were given quarters in town, and the meeting was to be held in Lord Biala’s fort. Remesio headed over there to scope the place out, and then went in search of the local Lord to obtain permission to conduct rituals of forbiddance in the meeting hall. But he was soon told that Lord Bialla was deathly ill! The Lady Jalina Biala came to greet the High Priest, and apologized profusely on her husband’s behalf for not being able to greet his important guests. The cleric offered his services, but the Lady refused; she explained that he was already under the excellent care of their local priest, and didn’t wish to upset his condition by having strangers casting spells upon him. Puzzled by her response, Remesio asked to at least speak with the local priest about the Lord’s treatment. Lady Jalina clearly looked uncomfortable, but told the cleric where to find the man.

Wightwood’s priest was a middle aged servant of Erastil, who regarded the tipsy cleric of Cayden Cailean with some suspicion. He said that his Lord was sick and he was doing all that could be done; he didn’t need the help of outsiders from disreputable kingdoms that followed disreputable deities. Remesio tried arguing the point with the man, but got nowhere. Convinced now that something odd was going on, he resolved to cast his rituals of forbiddance in the meeting hall on the sly.

The next morning, three Swordlords – Ruva Vadilow, Alexi Sosnik, and Callok Soyka – and their retainers arrived in town. They reported that they were delayed by attacks on the road. Restov was surrounded by lands once held by the vanished royal house of Rogarvia, which were now mostly held by loyalists to House Surtova. In order to reach the meeting, the Swordlords had to hide, run, and fight the lordlings whose land they rode through.

Now that all had arrived, the gathering could get underway! That evening, a feast was held in Biala’s keep for the many important visitors who had come to Wightwood. Lord Biala did not attend, of course, but his wife sat in his place, though she did not eat much. Nerves for her husband’s health, no doubt. Or worried that his ill health reflected poorly on their name. Her hall had rarely been packed so full, and never with such important people before. Talk and laughter and the clinking of plates and cups filled the humble space as servants rushed about, filling goblets and bringing out the food.

Satampra took a swig of wine and leaned back in his chair, feeling like there were too many people in the room. He was sweating, and felt strangely twitchy. Then a tremor shook his bowels, and for a moment he wondered if the cooks hadn’t served him some rotten food. But before he could ask if anyone else was feeling off, the room started spinning… He reached out to steady himself on the table, but his arms were made of lead. He opened his mouth to cry out, but his voice was dried up and gone. With a supreme effort, he turned his head to look at the others, and saw that they were in similar distress, but no one else had seemed to notice yet. Then his plate of food came up in a rush to cushion his oh-so-heavy head.

Next: whodunnit!

Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 6, Part 2

On the way home from stopping the Swordlords’ slaughter of the Nomen centaurs, the rulers of Caerelia decided to pay a visit to their kobold vassals. The Sootscales joined with the kingdom back in its early days, and although plans to have them labor in a silver mine and/or rehabilitate bandits back into polite society didn’t pan out, they had at least kept their Lawful Evil snouts mostly out of trouble.

Upon their arrival, the group was surprised to discover that in the intervening years the kobolds had dug out quite the warren in the hills of the Kamelands, and multiplied sufficiently to fill that warren! “We have to keep digging to have room for all the younglings!” beamed proud papa Chief Sootscale. As it happened, without external threats to their well-being or food supplies, kobolds reproduced at a prodigious rate.

Which was perfect from the PCs’ point of view, since they had come to ask for soldiers to fight in their wars! After the obligatory feast of cave lichen, lizard, and subterranean fish, the Chief was happy to oblige. He promised to send as many kobold warriors as could be spared to Stagfell. “But,” he reminded them, “we can’t stand the light! Only send them out to fight in darkness. Preferably when the enemy is asleep. That’s the best time for the stabbing!”

With that accomplished, they got on their magic carpet and flew back home.

Born Again

In Stagfell they picked up their Tiger Lord barbarian General, Boliden, and flew off to northwestern Caerelia to track down the other Tiger Lords that had reportedly been raiding farms and villages. The hope was that Boliden might be able to talk with his kinfolk, and that their common heritage might overcome his terrible Charisma score. Remesio the cleric used prayers of sending to coordinate with Salar’s Pathfinders, an army of two dozen elite rangers that was already in the area, and together they were quickly able to track down the band of barbarians.

Boliden approached the group alone. He was taken into their camp, where it looked like he was able to talk to their leader. However, even from a distance it was apparent that the conversation quickly turned sour, and weapons were soon drawn! Boliden, poor in social skills but mighty with his axe, began to cut down the Tiger Lords as the others rushed in to aid him. Soon the enemy barbarians were on the ground or running away, with the Pathfinders in close pursuit of those that fled.

When asked what had happened, Caerelia’s General reported that his kinfolk seemed to truly believe that the legendary warlord named Armag had returned to lead them to greatness. According to them, this Armag – known as the “Twice-Born” – had several artifacts that the Armag of old was said to have possessed. Though when they had mentioned that this Armag wielded an axe, Boliden had scoffed at them; Armag was said to have carried a great sword, one crafted by Gorum himself! Then the barbarians had insulted Boliden, claiming that he no longer looked or acted like a Tiger Lord, and now was a slave to the weakling city folk. A true Tiger Lord would join with his people and follow Armag Reborn, not fight against them! And that was the end of that.

The others were not familiar with the story of Armag, so Boliden recounted it for them, or what he could remember of it in any case. The original Armag had led the Tiger Lords to their current home, and waged great wars against the humans and centaurs of Iobaria. Over time he gained the favor of Gorum, but then he had angered Pharasma by promising to live forever. The two gods battled over the fate of his soul, a battle that Gorum won. Or so it is said among Boliden’s people.

As the group chewed over the story and its relation to recent events, Orseen the warpriest asked Boliden if they said Armag Twice-Born wore a green hair ring. “Maybe this Armag is another servant of the Green Lady?” Though he acknowledged that Orseen’s question was a good one, Boliden admitted that he didn’t think to ask that of the barbarians before he killed them. Did the original Armag have such a ring? Boliden scrunched up his big meaty face in thought before shrugging his shoulders; he had no idea.

Show of Force

With the raiders taken care of, the rulers headed back to their capital for a kingdom turn. It was a mostly uneventful one, although they did make use of the Royal Enforcer to lower Unrest, in order to show the allies of the former Thieves’ Guild that they meant business. Whenever they had tried that in the past, they would fail the follow-up Loyalty check, but for perhaps the 1st time ever the roll succeeded and their gambit worked without a hitch! Aside from that, they finished up some highways so their armies could move faster, and raised some more armies to replace those lost to Baron Jaroslav’s vanguard. They recruited:

  • The Immortals Too, a Colossal army of human fighter 2’s; ACR 9
  • The Armored Saints, a Medium army of human cleric 5’s with heavy horses and masterwork arms & armor; ACR 4
  • A Sootscale warband, a Huge army of kobold warrior 1’s; ACR 2

And now they felt ready to make war on the Dragonscale Throne… but they would have to hurry, for winter was fast approaching!

Next: the gathering!

Torg Eternity: Character Generator, Update

Example of NPC interface

Text output looks similar to official stat blocks

While I am quite behind on my various writing projects, I haven’t been completely idle! I’ve been working on completing my Torg: Eternity character generator, and I think it is now basically done. At least until the splatbooks start coming out! It can now do character generation and advancement by XP, as outlined in the rulebook that hasn’t been published yet as of this writing. 🙂 It does PCs, it does NPCs, it outputs stat blocks to text or PDF. Furthermore, the game data (skills, perks, items, and whatnot), the character generation settings (how many points players have to spend, etc.), and even how much it costs to advance the character’s numbers can all be customized. All in all, it’s a spiffy little piece of software, if I do say so myself! All that time I spent on the Kindom Manager application really paid off; I can almost design these kinds of systems out in my sleep at this point (the actual coding, that takes much longer…). I hope that when the game is published for real, groups will find this to be a handy little tool for their games.

Character events

Once character generation is complete for a particular PC, the program enters “XP Mode” by default, where XP is required to change the character’s stats or add new perks. This can be switched to “Free Spend Mode” in the Character menu, which allows one to change things willy-nilly. But to keep the user from needing to switch back and forth a bunch, I codified common game events that would cause a character’s stats or inventory change outside of regular advancement. These “Character Events” include losing an add from the Reality skill due to reconnection mishaps, losing a point of Charisma from failing a Corruption test, gaining a Corruption perk, or even finding a random magic item or having an item spontaneously enchanted in Asyle.

Customization is a bit tricky since it involves modifying XML files (or not, if you’re familiar with HTML or XML). There are some Readme documents in the install directory that give some instructions to get one started on that front. But please don’t modify the files in the Data directory! Or else they’ll be lost if you install an update. Customizations go in the CustomData directory, and there are some example files there.

The latest version is 1.0.5.5. It can be downloaded here.

Torg Eternity: Character Generator

Ulisses Spiele’s Torg Eternity Kickstarter is over, and the backers have the PDFs in their hot little hands! I decided to use the PDFs to whip up a character generator for the game, which admittedly isn’t very useful to non-backers – for the moment! The rule book will be in stores soon enough, and in the meantime I wanted to be the first out of the gate with this snappy little program. It’s called TOCG – The Other Character Generator – a little play on TORG, which originally stood for The Other Roleplaying Game while it was initially being developed.

This is still a work in progress! I still have to add vehicles, and implement some of the item effects, and implement the rules for spending XP after character creation is over, but it’s mostly there.

A quick how-to: new characters get 40 points to distribute between attributes, 15 skill points to distribute between skills, 2 perks (kinda like feats), and $1,000. Attributes top out at 13 for humans (6-7 is baseline) and skills top out at 3 “adds” during chargen. The Character menu has some export options – text (in both original style and the newer format), and printable HTML (using the current character sheet, in either color or grayscale). You can also save and load characters from a file; there are some samples provided.

The game data is pulled from XML files, found in the same directory as the executable. So you can add or modify items to you heart’s content, although doing so might cause some issues if you don’t follow the existing patterns!

So anyway, enjoy if you’re a backer, or even if you’re not! I believe those coming late to the party can become after-the-fact backers through something called Backerkit? I don’t know much about that, as I am not an experienced Kickstarter backer. And in any case, the game’s planned release is in October.

As with my other software projects, this application is Windows-only and requires .NET 4.5 or later. It can be downloaded here. My version of InstallShield really does not like the program for some reason, so you’ll just have to unzip it in your desired install location, and create your own shortcuts. Sorry about that!

UPDATE: I’m putting out version 1.0 at this time. There’s probably some bugs still lurking in it, but as far as I can tell at this time it executes character creation flawlessly. Now to move on to advancement…

Dark Sun: Sands of Blood, Part 5

Concluding the story of an old 3E Dark Sun game. Our heroes (?):

  • Krik, a thri-kreen fighter-in-training, alone and hunting for a new clutch
  • Basal, a female half-elven earth priestess, wastelander healer
  • Karick Reshaw, a male human psion (kineticist), wanderer and guide
  • Aral Karef, a male human psion (kineticist), scion of the merchant houses
  • Kanyth, a male human bard, free-spirited story teller

Read more…

Dark Sun: Sands of Blood, Part 4

Continuing the story of an old 3E Dark Sun game. Our heroes (?):

  • Krik, a thri-kreen fighter-in-training, alone and hunting for a new clutch
  • Basal, a female half-elven earth priestess, wastelander healer
  • Karick Reshaw, a male human psion (kineticist), wanderer and guide
  • Aral Karef, a male human psion (kineticist), scion of the merchant houses
  • Kanyth, a male human bard, free-spirited story teller

Read more…