Saturday, September 4, 2021

Spire: Eidolon Sky: Episode 1

Blixa Pew, a resident of New Heaven and Carrion-Priest, is contacted by his handler in the Ministry, Azekel Dorna, another charnel priest. He asks him to meet him at an address in New Heaven with a team to help investigate something - he will explain when he is there.

Blixa was a killer for th eAelfir and is now a charnel priest. He has a trained hyena, and wears unimpressive leathers. He knows Argenta from when he stopped him from taking venegeance for Argenta's friend, who was killed.

Blixa gathers a group of associates and fellow revolutionaries;

1. Argenti Silver-in-Sunshine, an Idol artist who is well connected with the Aelfir and makes art from his own blood.

2. Choronzon Zanner, a Vermissian Sage who knows secrets about Argenti's blood art, and is close friends with a demonologist expert, Abraxas Kadaman.

3. Tavesh Szat, a Masked who worked as a spy for his mistress, Alari Nariael, a diplomat to the humans. He is still close with her maid, Kaviri Unaro, and her cook, Hagiro Ulaira. He also knows a dark elf human emissary called Joran Havini. He knows Unkasu Nasiavi from when he found some information for him from an Aelfir household to help him profit on a trade. He wears green robes with black trim and carries a knife.

4. Unkasu Nasiavi, an Azurite dealer. He wears fine blue robes and gold necklages, nose rings and bracelets holy to Azur. He   knows Azekel from when he helped him out of debt for reneging on a contract to kill someone. He also knows Drada Dinuil, a trader who distills pain and sells it to the Aelfir. He has a bodyguard, Zakfaein, who fears snakes and the outdoors.

They travel to the safe house at New Heaven. Zakfein refuses to come outside, and waits a level below for Unkasu to return. The safe house is a badly appointed single room apartment below an apothecary in the commercial district of New Heaven. They are unimpressed.

Azekel Dorna arrives soon after them, and greets them. He explains that a new drug, Drek, has hit the streets in New Heaven, and it is having a very destructive impact on the area. The Ministry also believes that a recent implosion of a building was a demonic incursion, and they think it is linked to the drugs somehow. He wants the players to stop the drug problem.

He explains that Drek is a cruelty drug - it makes the user cruel and heartless, laughing at others misfortune and actively seeking to cause it.

Unkasu sees that Azekel really wants to be confident that the group can solve this problem, and they immediately begin exploring theories and showing off their confidence in the situation. An almost tearfully grateful Azekel is convinced they are capable and will solve this problem, and tells them he will visit them again in two days.

Blixa knows a small-time drug dealer, Imbay, in the neighborhood and decides to make him a visit. They find him in a bad way - shivering and in withdrawal from Drek. He agrees he can get some for them in return for a few silver coins. They follow him and see him pleading with the street hustler who reluctantly gives him some Dreck - Imbay returns to Blixa, and then uses the silver to pay off the dealer. Blixa gives a sample of the drug to Choronzon who enters the Vermissian to find Abraxas and his lab, to break down the drug.

Choronzon quickly deduces that Drek is a cut down and dirty derivative of Sulphur, a drug made by scraping off the residue from demonic incursions. So the Ministry was right - the demonic incursions are almost certainly related to the drugs. The drug is extremely addictive as well, and acts by destroying the empathy centres in the brain and making the user cruel.

Meanwhile, Blixa and Argenti follow the dealer. Argenta attempts to help by putting a glomour on the dealer, a street dealer named Percum, and taking him to a bar where Percum lets out a little too much to Argenti - he mentions he knows the big boss, a man named Bern. But Argenti pushes it a little bit far and Percum suddenly becomes suspicious of why Argenti is so curious. Argenti distracts by suddenly creating a party at the bar. 

Blixa seeks out Bern - he is a wealthy but relatively low key merchant who seems to be heavily protected by guards and has signs of new wealth. Blixa follows him and after a while sees him go to a heavily guarded warehouse - and then several hooded gnolls with a pack animal go in, and then leave without the pack animals. 

Blixa follows the gnolls to another heavily guarded building, but he manages to find a way to look in. Inside he sees gnoll and drow workers assembling some sort of large, fridge sized, ornate brass device...

He returns to share the news to his companions but is waylaid by three giggling Drek addicts kicking a hyena puppy to death in an alleyway. They turn and see him, and giggling, and leaning on each other, they draw knives and approach him. Blixa's hyena leaps at them, and he cuts one in the femurial artery before fatally slashing a second across the eyes. He takes the second thug's unreliable looking pistol, and then swiftly kills the third thug. Surprised by his own effectiveness in the fight, he leans and quickly patches up the hyena puppy, carrying it gently in his arms as he hurries back to the safe house...

Friday, June 19, 2020

Alien: A Season in Hell Episode 3

Aliens Log Episode 3

This is episode 3 in an ongoing campaign - did not write up episodes 1 & 2 but basically the crew are salvagers who got  sweetheart lead on some abandoned computer parts on a remote world as a result of giving dirty nuclear bomb equipment to terrorists on the occupied world of Tientsin.

The crew retire to a seedy spacers bar to discuss what to do. Finally they agree to the extra $10k offered to them by Ancane Shipping, on the expectation that the company lives up to their offer of a generous contract next time. The idea of trying to sell the components of a dirty bomb to terrorists on reflection seemed a little risky.

They let Bolan, their agent know, and she is relieved to hear they've accepted the deal. She tells them that the remaining payment will come through once the Agamemnon is docked at Cartwright Base. They ask if it's safe to bring all that contraband in and Bolan tells them that Ancane has ... people who will take care of that.

They jump a day into interstellar space and hook up the Agamemnon and tow it back to Eta Bootis A III. They dock it at Cartwright Base and Ancane comes out to thank them, arranges their payment, and then goes off to discuss something with a military officer called Colonel Ross. The crew wonder if this means that the military are really planning to fake a dirty bomb to destroy the rebels, or whether Ross is working with Ancane to get the contraband through customs. Before he goes, though, Ancane shakes Jones' hand and hands her a sealed manila envelope. "This is to say thanks."

Jones first checks its not a bomb or cash by feeling the envelope, and then opens it in the privacy of the ship. It is a series of maps of a scientific outpost in the nearby 2 Tau Bootis system, run by a company called BioDyne. There's a number of printouts of reports and equipment manifests - it seems that about two years ago the lab was rapidly packed up and abandoned for reason or reasons unknown - after operating on this remote ice world for seven years to study local single celled bacteria. A highlighted item is on the printed manifest - $150,000 of computer and technical equipment, which apparently was left behind. That's a lot of money they could use to shore up their mortgage.

Between the money they stole and the extra cash for the job they have about $7k left over after making their last mortgage payment. They leave $1k in the petty cash, put $1k aside to buy a new android eventually, and give each crew member $1k each. They gear up.

Meanwhile, Jones does a bit of research - she manages to find that the owner of BioDyne, a man named Damian Drew, died at about the time that the lab shut down - after a long illness - so she guesses that the reason for the shutdown was that once Drew died, his heirs had other plans. She reads some other reports of high security at the base - but that's not uncommon for 

The only glitch in this heist is that it requires an ability to land on a planetary surface - a capability the Korsakov lacks, since it doesn't have a dropship or landing capability. Jones and Simon work to try and solve that and they find a broker called Sweeney, who is prepared to loan them an ex-military UD4 Cheyenne dropship (in pretty poor nick, to be honest, and with all weapons and military tech removed) in return for a share of the booty worth $20k. They feel happy with the deal - even when Sweeney insists he come along as well to keep an eye on his asset. Jones likes the look of Sweeney and is happy to have him along.

They load the Cheyenne into the cargo bay and set off. The crew sleeps and Simon takes care of the maintenance of the ship. The first thing he does is blast all of Torres' cigarettes out the airlock. During the 20 day trip (Syd manages to crank a little more out of the engines to reduce the travel time from 25 days to 20 days) Simon unfortunately makes an error in maintenance and breaks the artificial gravity. Fortunately the sleeping crew don't drown in their pods, and Simon works diligently to just repair the gravity in time for the crew to wake up at their destination and never notice that anything was ever wrong.

The crew rouse themselves and gear up. They scan the planet - they easily find the base (it has an active navigation beacon still going). They decide to spend a prudent 24 hours doing a few orbits of the planet - it's an icy rock, covered in sheets of water ice, average temperature -50 at surface. There are dark patches where bacteria are clustered on the surface, around thermal vents or sheltered area. There is only one sign of human habitation and that is the abandoned lab.

Satisfied that they know the lay of the land, they clamber into the dropship. Sweeney decides to stay on board the ship - he didn't sign up for any risk nor any heavy labour. They debate whether to leave anyone with him but decide to let him alone - but Jones carefully locks him out of the computer systems just in case.

The descent is rough due to the atmospheric storms but not especially perilous. The dropship is old and a bit shaky but fairly solid. They manage to located the landing pad above the y-shaped lab next to what appears to be a small energy plant. The borders of the lab and the energy plant are smeared with black mold. They also see some sort of large shape buried under the ice - perhaps a vessel of some kind but it is covered in ice and it is hard to tell.  

They set the dropship down and review the lab - the whole place is dark. Though scoured by winds there is very little atmospheric water so barely any snow. They don their suits and exit the vehicle - the dropship doesn't have an airlock so they are straight into the icy air. They make their way to the airlock and try to open it - but are unable to crack it. 

Torres lights up his cutting tool and makes an excellent job of cutting and then sealing the airlock behind them. They are inside the compound. As expected the lab is completely empty - it has been totally stripped. In a warehouse they find boxes and boxes of the expected computer equipment. In an abandoned lab they find that outside the window there is a large pile of scorched and half buried synthetics - about twenty or so. They look like they have been melted with an incinerator unit and then abandoned outside.

As they head down the corridor they come across - a man, zipping up a jumpsuit. He seems shocked and surprised to see tham - he says he has just woken out of cryosleep and when they tell him the year he says he has been in sleep for two years. He says he was left behind due to a shortage of cryochambers and expected to be rescued within a week or two, when they abandoned the base. He says his name is Tait, and he was a scientist on this base. He says he was doing research on the monocellular molds that grow on this world.

He mentions he's hungry and they go to the canteen and try to rustle up some food - but the cupboards are quite bare. He's dehydrated from his cryosleep. Jones goes and inspects the cryochamber - there is one open pod and the others are empty.

Meanwhile Syd and Simon try to see if there is any evidence of files or the research on the base. Pretty much everything has been stripped and scrubbed but they find one video file, corrupted, buried deep in one of the servers embedded in the station. Simon and Syd take a shift to try to repair the file enough to read.

Meanwhile the others try to get more information out of Tait. Torres threatens him with a wrench, and Tait seems frightened and confused. Torres ups the stakes and makes to take a swing at Tait. To his surprise Tait swiftly pulls a pistol from his jumpsuit pocket and plugs him. The others pull their weapons and Tait takes cover, letting loose several shots. But Torres brains him with the wrench and he takes a bullet. He is hurt and he drops the gun and surrenders. Jones, furious and suspicious, steps forward and kills him with a well placed bullet between the eyes...

They repair the file and cluster around the monitor enough to watch. It is a grainy file and they see a dissected human body, connected via tubes and wires to a large black object that looks like a huge ribcage. Syd is shaken - this looks like alien technology. The body is hooked up to a Simon synthetic, strapped to a gurney. A scientist directs a number of other scientists, and they seem to set some machines going. The Simon wakes up, and starts screaming and thrashing around. It manages to break one strap and it's arm thrashes about, striking a lab worker. The head scientist gestures and a security man steps forward with an incinerator unit and incinerates the Simon while the lab workers flee. The file ends...

Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Lost Tomb - a Five Room Dungeon for kids

A Five Room Dungeon for my kids

Recently, my two kids expressed an interest in playing Dungeons and Dragons. I had to decide between D&D 5th Edition - which is the most 'modern' version of D&D, but I landed on Old-School Essentials, as it is a lot simpler and easier for kids to understand.

My daughter rolled up an Elf, Pine Goldwood, and my son rolled up a Dwarf, Lead Hammer (Lead as in Leader, not as in lead pipe).

So I decided to create a short 5 room dungeon, following the guidelines from

The Lost Tomb

The Town of Bodmin

On the fringes of the great Western forest, days from the nearest town, is the small village of Bodmin. There are few travellers, but there is a small inn 'The Gamekeeper' for the occasional traveller and noblemen who hunt the fringes of the forest.

The innkeeper in Will Barrowman, a portly man in his fifties, who takes great care with his guests. If they ask after dungeons, or it becomes known they are aventurers, he tells of the last time adventurers came here - three of them, a man, a woman, and a halfling (man) who asked after the Hill Tomb nearby - they went out and never came back. This must have been twenty years ago.

The Tomb itself is two miles away, west into the forest. It has a bad reputation and locals shun it, and is thought to be haunted. It is far from the hunting trails. But he is happy to give them directions as long as they pay their bill ahead of time.

In the town, they might notice three men keeping an eye on them. These ne'er do wells have assumed that these strangers will not be missed. They rob noblemen when they can and they are not used to people fighting back.

The Bandits

About half an hour into the woods, the three men will step out of the trail ahead of them, and demand their purses. They will not be expecting a fight - and if they are attacked they will fight for a couple of rounds or until they are injured and then will flee.

Bandits AC 8, HP 4, THACO 19, Dam 1d6 (Stannis, Jed, Magwitch)

The Tomb in the Cliff
For a further hour, the trail winds deeper into the woods - it is overgrown and hard going. But then the trail opens up into a little clearing. At a far end are two large stone slabs set into a low cliff, with a lintel stone atop it. However, it looks like the cliff is unstable. 

The rightmost door is cracked - and has been wedged open and broken. The previous adventurers used hammers and crowbars to crack open the large stone door to the tomb, in order to slip inside. However, in the decades in between the lintel has slipped, and the cliff face has consequently become unstable. Any dwarf will see the danger - as will anyone making an INT or WIS roll. 

The players will need to think of some clever way to get past the unstable doorway - they might use massive strength to move the door, or construct a support to stop it from collapsing, or use DEX to slip in without disturbing the cliff face. Any clever idea should be rewarded. 

The Flooded Chamber

Inside, there is a wide tunnel 20' wide and 40' long. Either from the broken door or from shifting water tables, the tunnel is flooded. The water is dark and it is impossible to see how deep it is (it is pretty evenly 6' deep). It is also freezing cold. The challenge will be to travel to the far end, where large stone double doors and steps leading up can be seen. 

The danger, aside from drowning if the character is short, is that goods become soaked - such as magic books or torches and lamps. They will be useless and perhaps permanently damaged. Also, the weather is icy cold - a saving throw vs breath attacks is required to not have numbed fingers and uneven breathing and be -4 to fight.

The Stairway Guardians

Stairs rise up from the icy water. As the players approach, three skeletal guardians rise up. One looks ancient - its clothes and armour are in an ancient style and the skin is completely rotted from the bones. But the other two are mostly skeletal, but their weapons are varied and their clothes not rotted - these seem to be the adventurers who obviously destroyed a couple of guardians but then joined their ranks. 

The three attack until destroyed. 30 XP to fight them all.

Skeletons AC 7, 4 HP, D1d6, THACO 19 

Any characters who die will rise up at the next full moon and join the ancient guardians to defend the tomb.

The ancient skeleton has o assets, but the two recent skeeletons carry a total of 20gp in leather pouches.

The Sarcophagus Room

The large stone doors are slightly ajar. Inside is the stone mausoleum with a stone sarcophagus. The corpse is dressed in fine ancient robes, only slightly rotted, and wears a fine gold necklace. It has obviously been here for centuries. Beside the tomb is the halfling adventurer - long dead. A poisoned spike has skewered his hand and he died from the poison. There is the only one trap and the players are quite safe but it will be interesting to see if they are extra cautious in the room and around the sarcophagus. 

There are two main treasures in this room. The first is the gold necklace - worth 120gp. It is safe to remove and can be sold in the village. The second gret treasure is a map - n ancient map with charcoal notes scrawled on, in a map case on the halfling's body. He has 5gp in a purse. The map is a map of the Lost Valley of the Kings. It shows a path from the village of Bodmin past this tomb, deeply into the woods, where, apparently behind a waterfall, there is a path to a secret valley unexplored for 1000 years, where the tombs of the old Kings adventure to come once they have left the tomb...

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Runequest - The Coming Storm - Episode 14

That sacred time there is a disaster. The usual rituals to awaken Orlanth fail and the wind completely stops. This happens, the group learn, at the moment Whitewall fell. Wando, as a priest of Orlanth, can no longer use his magic. Ernalda falls asleep as well - the winter does not end and Ernaldans lose their ability to cast magic. The clan initiates many desperate rituals to try to bring Orlanth back to life, but all fail. Kerolar summons many spirits to bind and give to the Orlanthi, so they have some ability to do magic. 

The Lunars, who are now deeply hated, enclose themselves in their fort and do not come out except in armed convoys. Kerolar asks Estana Goldeneye, a Seven Mothers missionary, what is going on, and between gushes of the Red Mothers bounty, etc, he learns that King Broyan and Kallyr Starbrow somehow escaped Whitewall, the Crimson Bat was defeated, and the Lunars plan an enormous temple to extend the glowline to include Sartar. 

Faradar, the freedom fighter, takes a large number of his freedom fighters and they take to the woods, to fight the Lunars. Word reaches the clan that the entire Culbrea tribe have risen in rebellion against the Lunars.

Brodi though, despite his (many) faults, has been prudent enough to ensure that there are ample food stores in Red Cow Fort. Animals are slaughtered - Wando gives up his two cows. The Ernaldan priestess is deeply distraught her magic does not work. A prophecy is passed around by word of mouth - that Orlanth is dead, but that the Three Stars will bring a new hope.

Winter does not end - it continues for an entire year. Kerolar takes a geas and in return learns the secret of curing disease, to help the tribe. The clan healer decides to convert to the Red Goddess, so she can continue to heal. Many people convert out of hunger, fear or desperation. As winter continues though, many people grow to hate the Lunars more and more for the misery they have inflicted on the tribe.

Refugees flood Red Cow and as many as can be accommodated are put up in the Bothys. Kerolar, never much interested in wealth anyway, gives away 500l worth of good and jewelry to help the hungry. 

After nearly 14 months of winter, Brodi calls the adventurers to a meeting. The day before, he sent Jaronal to Brightwater on a routine patrol, and he has not returned. He asks the adventurers, plus an extra fellow, a wood turner called Harald, to travel to Brightwater to find out what is going on.

They leave at once. On the way they see refugees from the Two Pines, and offer them some food. They tell them that there was some fighting at Brightwater yesterday and they fled. They thank the refugees and head on their way. As they approach the stead they see a pillar of smoke - larger than a stead fire. They stealthily approach and see the stead on fire, many dead, and Jaronal and several other people crucified on hastily assembled crosses. As they watch, many Tarshite mercenaries, assisted by Orlanthi lunar converts, stickpickers mostly, load up two sleds with food and goods. A man, obviously their leader, approaches Jaronal and pulls out the Meteor Spear, a Red Cow clan treasure, from under a blanket. He stabs Jaronal with it and he quickly dies.

Kerolar asks the others to guard his body, and he enters the spirit world. He quickly possesses the leader, and surreptitiously heals the two nearly dead Orlanthi, one of whom spits on him, not realising, of course, what is happening.

He then pretends he needs to relieve himself, and goes tot eh treeline, then circles around to where Wando and Harald are, explains the situation to them, and hands them the meteor spear - replacing it under the blanket with a large stick. He asks them to keep Jaronal's body as he will bring him back to life. He returns to the crucifixes.

A man comes up to him and seems to ask whether they should leave. As Kerolar does not speak Tarshite, he pretends to swig wine and grunts and gestures, and the others pull the sled. He follows them.

Once they are out of sight, Wando and Harald dash down and retrieve the two living Orlanthi and Jaronal. They drag him to safety.

Meanwhile, once they are some distance away, Kerolar shouts, draws his sword, shouts at the Orlanthi to flee if they value their lives, and starts to smash up the skis on the sleds. A Tarshite companion comes up to him, wanting to know what is going on, and Kerolar, with the element of surprise, manages to cut him down with one swift blow. He shouts at the others to flee, and some do, most of the Tarshites stand around in a wide berth, giving Kerolar a good quarter of an hour to disable the sleds. Then he is ejected from his host body.

Kerolar wakes up and then stands over Jaronal's body and calls on Kolat to bring him back from the silent halls. He wrestles with Jaronal's spirit and brings him back to life - he is unharmed but otherwise fine and quite shocked to be alive again.

They follow the sled tracks and find that the Orlanthi and Tarshites have abandoned the sleds, and carried off what they can on their backs. The adventurers load up themselves and Wando's horse with as many supplies as they can, and hide the rest, and return to Red Cow fort.

There they are lauded as heroes for returning both Jaronal and the Meteor Spear. Brodi praises all three but singles out Kerolar for special praise. Jaronal, sadly, is shaken by his experience and retires as a weaponthane to think about his life. To everyone's surprise, Brodi places Ortossi Kettelson, a thorughly brutal and obnoxious man, as his replacement to be the leader of the huscarls. Everyone anxiously awaits the next few weeks as supplies start to dwindle...

Friday, January 31, 2020

Runequest - The Coming Storm - Episode 13

The adventurers volunteer to fight the Telmori. Wando however, is against this and gives an incredible and moving speech convincing most not to help. At the Red Cow, a clan hostage is brought forth - he is a descendant of Sartar but had been kept as a hostage for the Telmori to keep the peace - his life forfeit if they broke the truce.

He is about to be executed when, as he is reciting his lineage, and enormous snake appears. Krolar immediately recognises the sanke as a spirit and charges in with his iron sword. Others join in - one thane is swallowed whole. Wando also senses it is a sacred snake, holy to Esrolia. They kill the snake, inspired by their loyalty to the clan. But the hostage had fled while the battle was joined - but he is quickly found - he had fallen into a hole and broken his leg. Instead of the quick death he was to have, he is killed slowly and painfully. 

Hopi and Kerolar join the army, one of the few score Red Cow fighters joining the battle. The Telmori are driven off from Stonefort, but at the cost of many lives on both sides. 

That ends the year 1620. The adventurers rest and recover. Kerolar teaches the others spirit magic spells (part of his shamanic abilities). They see through the sacred time and wonder what the new year will bring...

Runequest - The Coming Storm - Episode 12

The group are clearly outnumbered by the Telmori, and are already badly wounded and depleted of magic. Kerolar calls on Kolat to bring forth the ancestors of the Red Cow clan - and he succeeds! His fetch is drained of POW and a dozen ghostly warriors rise up and fall on the Telmori. Most are killed but a few run away. The ancestors, enraged by the Telmori betrayal, pursue them into their lands. The adventurers follow them, liberating a couple more mules along the way. Kerolar heals Borngold and drags him to the shore of the river. 

They arrive on a ridge wgere they can see over a large wooded valley - and there they see about 800 Telmori assembled, and watch as Black Paws hands over the remaining mules to a figure with no eyes and no shadow - this is obviously Jokar Sog, the Telmori shaman. It looks like a Telmori army has assembled here to attack - someone. 

They return to Red Cow fort. They relate the news to Chief Brodi, who takes back the treasure but rewards them all with a gold spiral bracelet and a horse each. The warriors take turns boasting about their achievements. Kerolar is recognised for his act of magic. 

Heroloran tries to find Frakor's family - Frakor was killed in the fight - and asks if he can retain the sword he used during the battle. They agree. It is a generous gift. 

It seems obvious from the position of the Telmori army that they are poised to take back the Wolflands, and attack the settlements of Jomas Horstalor, a Lunar lord who was granted the lands from the Telmori. There is much debate about whether to help or even warn Jomas - he is a Lunar after all. This could be a chance to weaken two foes at once. After a long debate, in typical Orlanthi style, they decide to warn jomas, but not to help. Kerolar seeks out the queen and tells her they will undertake this mission, and she rewards him with the genrous gift of an iron sword, which he names 'Ironsword'. 

They ride tot eh wolflands until they are met by some riders from a local stead, lead by hiord the tall. They explain the situation to them, and they take them to a nearby hall. Jomas is away in Tarsh currently, but they immediately begin preparing for wall - building up defences, calling up the army, etc. The adventurers argue over whether they should stay or not but decide to return to Red Cow Fort as originally agreed after a heated oration in front of the Lunar settlers. It was such a heated debate it became known as one of the three great Debates of Stonegate. 

They return to Red Cow fort and word reaches them that Stonegate has fallen, after bitter fighting, to the Telmori. They wonder whether they might have changed the tide.

Back at the fort the clan ring is assembling for war - all expect that the Telmori will attack them next....

Runequest - The Coming Storm - Episode 11

As soon as the children are safe, Borngold takes control. Warriors take up their weapons and race into the woods to pursue the Telmori. They shoot arrows at the tailmost but most get away - a single Telmori is killed. Kerolar goes into a trance and one after another possesses two of the Telmori muleskinners and leads the mules away, tying them to a tree, leading the muleskinners away, and then releasing them. 

The others manage to ambush a group of Telmori and capture a couple more mules. They see a group of Telmori and, now joined by Kerolar, rush at them, but they retreat up ropes up a low cliff and rain arrows down on the heroes. Typically, the adventurers use the tactic 'full frontal assault', climb up the ladders and get shot badly but drive off or kill the Telmori. Wando heals Kerolar, who is nearly out of magic points. 

As they clamber back down the cliff, they hear the clash of swords. They rush towards the noise - it takes them to the river, the boundary of the Red Cow lands. It looks like a number of Telmori warriors have ambushed Borngold and a couple of the other, more aggressive, pursuers of the Telmori. As they watch, Borngold is struck, and falls, face down in the water...

Runequest - The Coming Storm - Episode 10

The heroes, to recap, are thanes of the Red Cow clan. Haroloran, Wando the Wizard Wobbler (famed seducer), Hopi, and Kerolar Hawkwind, a shaman.

Haroloran is at Red Cow fort, talking withOrandal son of Falban and Oraniere Horsetracker.In the evening they hear howling - it seems the Telmori are howling for Kostajor Wolf Champion, a Telmore descendant of Sartar, who was killed by a giant snake.

Word comes that Ashart Duskeater, fugitive Priest of Orlanth, has secretly returned to Red Cow lands, after being ejected from his hiding place in Telmori lands as the Telmore blame him for the death of Kostajor.

Brodi, the chief, summons the adventurers to his court. There are a number of the clan ring assembled, along with Farandar Orandalson, a rebel sympathiser, Kalina the Fat (apparently the Red cow are big on body-shaming), and Borngold Many-brothers, a Heler worshiper with red hair and blue skin.

Apparently the issue is that Black Paws, the son of Kostajor, has sent a ransom note. He has kidnapped 18 children from the Green Meadow stead and are demanding ransom. Dana Longcoat insisist the ransom be paid - 16 donkeys laden with treasure. The others want revenge, and to ensure the Telmori pay for this crime.

Kerolar tries to argue in defense of the Telmori, but is just ignored - he is no great orator. Brodi asks Haroloran to lead the expedition. Dana Longcoat takes him aside and asks him to ensure that, whatever else, the children are kept safe.

The group try to find Ashart to try and learn more about what is happening with the Telmori - kidnapping children is out of character for them. They manage to find him hiding at a nearby highland stead. Ashart thinks Black Paws was generally a good guy. He has no idea what happened with kostajor's death. He seems to think that a powerful blind Telmori Shaman, Jokar Sog, is behind the trouble. 

A further note is received - they have to meet the Telmori with the ransom at Two Crowns in two days. Dana Longcoat invites Wando to dinner - she wants to ensure that the children are rescued. She gifts Wando with an iron sword - called Wolfbiter. Borngold finds Haroloran and Wando and tells them that he should be in charge of the expedition - in order to get revenge on the Telmori.

Then Farandar finds them and tells them that they shouldn't stir up trouble with the Telmori, and that they should keep the  treaties of Sartar.

Meanwhole Kerolar uses the night time to go into a trance and travel through the spirit realm to the Telmori. He possesses a wolf within the Telmori clan caves. It is late but he can see that they are sharpening their weapons and preparing for an expedition.

The next morning they set off, with 16 mules laden with wealth and coins. A significant portion of the clans wealth. They head out. Borngold argues with Wando, who has now maneuvered to be in charge of the expedition. They agree that once the children are secured, Borngold will be in charge of the expedition to take revenge on the the Telmori.

Kerolar uses his Hawk familiar, Hudson, to scout the area - they see a spy archer hiding in the woods. Black Paws shows up and they challenge him on the spy - he at first denies it, but then whistles like a bird and the archer retreats. They begin the exchange - the children are brought out one by one and exchanged for the treasure. Then Black Paws warns them not to pursue him and retreats with the last of the ponies into the woods... 

The Ultraviolet Grasslands Episode 16: I Believe In a Thing Called Love

The group heads towards the forest of meat. As they aproach, the foliage turns slowly over time into more menacing, carnivorous looking plants and trees, and their initial optimism of ripe steaks hanging from tree branches starts to evaporate.

They camp within a sinister whispering glade, and late at night they hear a roaring and crashing - an enormous carnivorous Baobab tree crashes towards them. They leave a horse behind to distract the creature and flee while it gorges itself on the poor creature. Renko is slowed down by his porcelain armour and quickly peels himself out of it as they flee into the night.

By dawn they reassess their position and supplies. It is obvious there is very little to forage here and they are running desperately low on supplies. They decide collectively that they are very disappointed in the forest of meat.

They push through and finally the fetid dripping wood thins out and they find themselves on the other side and fare ahead they can see the great black sea, and on the shore of it, the Black City. Scattered all over the landscape are deep black cubes, of varying sizes from human sized to enormous Stonehenge like monoliths. As they come over a rise they see, flanked by giant monoliths, two black knights guarding the path. They weild jet black swords adorned with stars. Beyond them they can see the black sea and on the edge of that the Black City - set above the city are seven great mirrors, or perhaps portals, sitting in the sky about half a kilometer in the air. Within them there can only be seen black stars set into an endless void. On the ground by the shore are set seven great monoliths, each one aligned to a portal.

They descend the hills and enter the city...

Both Renko and Sissy are badly hurt from the fight with the Black Star Knights. In the city they find a hospital - they check int here for a week while they sell one of their walkers for $12,000 - they were nearly out of cash. As they wander the city one of Sissy's polybodies disappears - and reappears 1 minute later with no sense of time having passed. The time code mismatch causes a weird psychic jarring in sissy but eventually the two polybody minds merge again. The effect is weird and unsettling. Time and space seem to be damaged and torn here.

They ask around and find that they must place an offering at the altar by the black wall to gain entrance to the sea. Expecting to be at the end of their quest they load the offering bowl with gold and gems - and wait, and wait, and wait. After about 50 minutes the offerings disappear. There is a short wait and a doorway opens in the wall.

They pass through and see seven platforms on the edge of the sea - each one lined up perfectly with the sky portals above them. Carefully, they go through the sky key dances. They finish the last one and wait.

There is a huge crash and an enormous black pillar shoots up from the sea into the sky, and then meets another pillar shooting downward, making a black cable stretching into space. As they watch a disk like vessel traverses down the cable and lands before them. The doors open and a thin neo-neanderthal in a jumpsuit stands before them. 
"Why have you summoned me here?" he asks, "And who are you?"
"Although we don't look it, becuse we have new bodies, we are like you, neo-neanderthals. We have travelled across the Ultraviolet Grasslands to fulfil a prophecy to save the world from fire and darkness."

They recite the shaman's prophecy and the ancestor neo-neanderthal strokes his chin and say, "Well all right I suppose you'd better come with me then."

They step into the elevator, and the doors close behind them. They ascend into space.... 

Friday, January 3, 2020

The Ultraviolet Grasslands episode 15: Where Dreams Go To Die

Vitreous Orange and Renko still have some of their possessions and they manage to find a merchant who buys their cat coffee from the Violet City and the crystallised cup and towel for a good price, which allows them to at least find good accommodation in the Spectrum City, but not really enough to travel.

Vitreous Orange has lost contact with his polybodies and is feeling a little out of sorts. Renko puts the headdress back on and finds that there is actually a comments section - they are able to write comments to their companions in the comments of the game, and communicate that way. They are still unsure if they are in a virtual world, or a real world with their original one being the facsimile. Eventually they compare notes about the meteor striking the Earth and decide that, matrix or not, they are in the same level of reality as each other at least.

The adventurers left on the moon are unwilling to travel instantly to the Spectrum City via the headsets as they will lose their gear and treasure. So Sissy and the remaining Vitreous polybodies and the King, stepping up now the Renko is absent, decide to work together to get the crystal power walkers to the surface. 

They manage to get them up to the surface of the moon, but as they have inadvertantly shifted the moon it is looking much harder to transfer them to the surface of the Grasslands. Vitreous' two other polybodies buy a complicated pulley system and they attempt to rig it up to move the large power walkers. They attach one end to a rock on the moon and the other to a stout tree stump in the swamp. Miraculously, it works! Both exoskeletons are carefully shifted down and the adventurers clamber down after them, glad to leave the moon behind.

Counting their loot, they go to find Life-Is-A-Game and tell her that they could not find her friend in the moon. Orca Malificent, the Ultra possessing the body of Dante Thunderstone  , pleads with her to tell them the location of the sky key. He tells them that the meteor was the first sign and there will be others. She relents, and finally admits that she doesn't actually know where a sky key is. She lied to try to get them to help her. Orca wonders if he should get revenge but instead they decide to grab their loot and travel with all haste to catch up with their companions in the Spectrum Palace. 

As they travel Renko and Vitreous party and debauch themselves to pass the time. Vitreous finds himself sold into a pit fighting gang, but manages to escape. Renko makes friends among the Satraps (as much as anyone can befriend strange alien spacesuited figures). They learn of the Temple of th eWelcoming Eye, in the centre of the Palace compound, and Renko uses his connections to wrangle an invitation - at a cost of $500. 

Meanwhile the King leads the others to the Spectrum Palace. He manages to use ancient codewords to decommission an enormous and ancient robot half buried in the wastes that tried to come alive and destroy them. But otherwise their journey was uneventful.

The group is reunited, pleased that they are in the same reality. Renko sells another of his famous returning brooches, and Sissy befriends a local merchant by the name of Boderic.

They ask around and find an excellent lead that there is a sky key that can be found in the Dark Light Path beyond the Ivory Plains. This is the last sky key they need.  They immediately cash out and buy supplies for the long journey westwards.

On the trail, the grasslands give way to dry pale earth. On their fourth day of travel, they come across a large group of rotted zombies, dancing continually in a circle. Sissy shouts insults at them and, roused by the sight of warm flesh, they break their dance and rush towards the caravan. They quickly decide that the best thing to do is flee, and they leave one of the ponies behind to cover them - the undead fall apon the poor creature and they are able to get away.

In the Ivory Plain Renko unfortunately is infected with a lung fungus - it is not fatal but he has an incurable and persistent cough that reduces his endurance. The plain falls away to the endless paths and gullies of the Dark Light path. They descend into the calderas and steaming chasms and come across an encampment of Quarterlings. They greet the party warmly, and announce that they have been given visions and have been waiting for them to give them their final directions. They say that the Dead Eye of the Blue god keeps the key, in the nexus of cables, 4 days hence. The caravan worries about their supplies but their final quest is so close they decide to head off immediately.

After avoiding many cloud-herds of chemovores they come across a great chasm in the side of a gulley, with many cables and wires running to and fro. Inside is a great pit, and they see many pale worms writhing amongst the wires and cables. They manage to create a diversion and enter the tunnel without encountering the worms, and find themselves at the pit - they see a cable car dangling from the edge, and an enormous god like churning black void at the centre of the pit. The void addresses them, introducing itself as the Blue god, and says it will help them but they must each give up a dream. They discuss and agree to do so. They seem to have little choice.

Renko gives up his dream of ever becoming a proper magic user and graduating. Sissy gives up his dreams of becoming a super cool assassin. Vitreous gives up his dreams of being rich.

Renko then gives up his soul - and in return the Blue God directs them to the cable car - they manage to work the controls and bring the cable car up, and inside they find several mummified people - it looks like their minds are connected to some sort of device which they activate and it turns out to be an encyclopedia of the world long gone.  They quickly find the files on the sky keys - and they follow the instructions to learn the last one. The encyclopedia entry goes on to say that the keys are used to bring the great sky elevator down and they must be used at the short of the Black Ocean in the Black city.

They clamber out of the pit and return to the quarterling encampment, almost entirely out of supplies. They manage to trade for two weeks of supplies to keep them from starving, and set off immediately for the Black city, via the Forest of Meat, where they hope they can get some more food. I mean, if they can't find a square meal in the forest of meat, where can they? As they set off they discuss trees laden with juicy steaks and roasted chickens...

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Ultraviolet Grasslands Episode 14: A Perfect World

The explorers re-enter the cave. This time they take a different path - and get lucky. The path winds down and down, deep into the moon. At a certain point the livingstone gives way to a weird semi transparent crystal - the walls and floors are all made of this material. 

Renko finds a towel and a mug lying on the tunnel floor - all made of this crystal. It looks like the crystal substance slowly takes over other substances and replaces them. They take the mug and towel in case they are worth something. They enter a wide tunnel that is only partially taken over by crystals - it is filled with about 20 cryogenic chambers. Inside are sleeping humanoids that they do not recognise but are not entirely human. 

They debate whether to disturb any of them but finally decide to try to wake one up. Sissy manages to interpret the controls and they open one of the caskets. The inhabitant sits up and screams - and a weird black creature leaps from its throat, killing the humanoid. They rake the little creature with fire - it dies bleeding green acid onto the floor, shrieking. They decide not to wake any more of the cryogenic chambers, and worry about the strange aliens.

They come into what looks like a loading bay - again it is partially turned into the weird pink transparent crystal. There are two industrial looking loading exoskeletons there - made entirely out of the pink crystal. 

Renko and Sissy try to get them going and with Vitreous Orange's help they manage to get both started. Sissy and Vitreous suit up and stomp along behind Renko. The bay turns into a silver torus that they clomp along - past a number of mummified figures with their dessicated brains plugged into some sort of complicated looking computers. 

Next is a large square black chamber - it looks long abandoned but somebody made their home here. There are dozens of book sized black boxes with wires and headsets attached to them. Renko puts one on his head and is hums into life. Renko sees in front of him three menu options - in an alien language that he can strangely read - 

1. Encyclopedia
2. Relaxation
3. Perfect World

He takes off the headset and puts it aside for later. 

They head down a corridor and too late, sense movement above them. Camouflaged in the transparent crystal ceiling is a transparent crystal humanoid creature with an elongated skill like head. It lunges onto Renko, and rips into his armour. The others mow at the creature with their bolters, and it explodes in a wave of acid which pour over Renko burning him badly. But luckily his porcelain armour manages to neutralise the acid and he survives with only a deeply painful bruise from where the creature landed on him. 
A crystal alien, dancing on the edge of copyright

They carry on and find a control room - with multiple weird crystal dials and levers. At the far end is a strange organic egg shaped object. Sissy has managed to find the x-ray setting on his Porcelain mask and he sees that there is some sort of spider shaped creature writhing inside. They mow it down and it dies, shrieking in a pool of its own acid. 

They examine the room, and experiment with some of the switches. There is a low hum and it looks like some sort of deep engine in the moon has been activated. They move a crystal and feel a lurch. From outside their polybodies report that the moon has shot up about another 100 meters into the air. The entire Near Moon camp is in uproar. They try to fiddle with the controls again and the moon lurches about 500 meters to the west. At this point Renko panics and quickly shuts down all the engines before something catastrophic happens.

They feel they have explored the moon but they still haven't found the mysterious Memories-Best-Left-Forgotten. Renko tries the mysterious headset - he looks at the Encyclopedia and finds a lot of information about an ancient alien civilization, looking to escape their doomed world many hundreds of light years distant, tens of thousands of years ago. 

Then Renko tries the 'Perfect World' setting and a message comes up 'Do you Wish to Enter the Perfect World?' - Renko says yes and disappears. 

The others flip out. Vitreous Orange tries the same and also disappears. His polybody immediately loses track of his other body. Sissy, somewhat shocked, now only with Orca Malificent, grabs the walker and the headsets and heads for the surface.

Meanwhile - Renko and Vitreous find themselves standing together in a weird dusty city surrounded by space suited figures. They try to ask a stranger where they are.

"Why, don't you know? This is the Spectrum Palace, my friend."

Spire: Eidolon Sky: Episode 1

Blixa Pew, a resident of New Heaven and Carrion-Priest, is contacted by his handler in the Ministry, Azekel Dorna, another charnel priest. H...