Sunday, February 7, 2016

Board Game: Eldritch Horror

I have this problem with board game posts: I play the games and take the pictures, and then completely forget to do the blog post for the list.

Anyway!

The Game: Eldritch Horror
The Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Time: Oh, hell. Upwards of 4-5 hours?
Players: Me, +Michelle+Rob, Mike, Sarah

Countdown to extinction.
Game Play: Eldritch Horror works a lot like Arkham Horror, and in some ways it's less involved, but it's not really fair to call it an "easier" or "lite" version, because it's neither. Every play controls a character with a distinct set of starting equipment and a couple of special abilities, and you romp around the world collecting clues and trying to solve Mysteries. Before playing, you pick an Elder to be your special friend for the game; the game advised that, for our first game, we use Azathoth, who's fairly straightforward. Naturally, we instead chose Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods.

Winning the game requires solving three Mysteries. Mysteries come in a deck, shuffled, and then flipped one at a time (so you have to solve them in a sequence; each Elder has its own Mystery deck). Mysteries involve gather clues, killing monsters, shutting gates, which involve moving around the board to various cities and having encounters. Encounters involve, ultimately, rolling some dice against one of your scores and trying to hit 5 or 6.

Setup still takes freaking forever, though.

Now, much of this is ported over from Arkham, but there are some important differences. Monsters stick around if you don't kill them, but you can wound them, meaning when you go back they're still wounded, meaning you can tag team them. You can rest anywhere, recovering health and sanity, rather than having to schlep all the way to a hospital. Turn order doesn't go clockwise, but passes from one player to a player of their choice, meaning you can strategize a little that way.

Probably my favorite change is that when a character is defeated (dies in battle or goes mad), they don't just vanish. Your body stays where it was, so other players can get some of your stuff and have a neat little encounter to finish up your story. This became relevant in our session, since Michelle "inadvertently" murdered three people.

"Oops. I seem to have sacrificed you to a Dark God. Again."
Ultimately, we lost. There's a Mythos deck, and at the end of every turn, you draw a card. Sometimes these Mythos phases are fairly benign (a gate opens somewhere, a monster appears, yeah), and sometimes they herald events that make everything very inconvenient until you fix them. But if you run out of Mythos cards, you lose. We lost not just because we ran out of cards, but also because the Black Goat woke up because our Doom Track filled, so we suddenly had to contend with getting to South America and fighting the Goat and Her Followers.

The important thing is, we tried.
Opinions: Look, if it seems like this is complex as I'm explaining it, you know nothing. Like Arkham, this game has so many moving parts that trying to explain it from memory is impossible. If you're committing to an evening of Eldritch Horror, you need to start at 3PM and plan to finish around 8PM. It might not take that long (especially if you suck at the game, because you'll die quickly), but ours did.

Now, with that said, I will say that the game is a lot of fun. It feels like it progresses more than Arkham does, and the addition of the Mythos phase of things and the depleting deck of cards adds an urgency that wasn't always there before. Like I said earlier, it's not any easier than Arkham, just some of the rough edges have been filed down and the players have some options that weren't there before - the game feels, perhaps deceptively, more forgiving.

As with similar games, you must be patient if you're going to play Eldritch Horror. It's kind of like reading Lovecraft, in that way.

Keep? Yes.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Character Creation: Atomic Robo

So, y'know, I like to make characters for games before I run them, when possible. Since I'm running Atomic Robo tomorrow, I figure I should make a character real quick. So heeeere weeeee goooooo!

The Game: Atomic Robo
The Publisher: Evil Hat Productions
Degree of Familiarity: Not much with this particular game, but it runs on Fate Core, which I'm pretty well versed in.
Books Required: Just the one.

Atomic Robo is a comic, and it's one I haven't really read, but it's very much up my alley - Tesla creating robots, crazy sentient dinosaurs, very pulpy and action-sciencey. +Michelle has been wanting to play it for a while, so when the group that was Monsterhearts morphed into its current form, we wound up choosing it as our next game.

Creating a character for this game works a lot like other Fate games. I need a concept to start out. I've overseen chargen for this before, so I know I want to play a weird character, but I don't know that I want to be as weird as +Travis and his gentleman octopus. There are a number of sample weird modes in the book; nothing says I couldn't make up my own, of course, but I kinda want to play a psychokinetic. I don't know that I ever have played a character with some stripe of telekinesis, but it's far and away one of my favorite super powers, and I think it'd be kind of cool. Ooh, and I have an interesting concept, with a little inspiration from Stranger in a Strange Land. Actually, as I'm thinking about it, maybe I do want to make up my own mode.

So, Adriago Valetti is my character. His parents worked for a branch of Tesladyne investigating "parallel harmonic alternate dimensional entities," or PHADEs. The equipment worked by vibrating the participants' molecules at precise frequencies, such that they moved out of synch with the world around them. The eight original PHADEnauts vanished into a parallel dimension, and came out two years later, each having aged almost a quarter-century. With them was Adriago, born in-PHADE to two of the PHADEnauts.

Adriago, once the vibrations stopped, was stable, and ages at normal human rate here (time passes different in his phase; about one year of time per one month of normal Earth time). Adriago is trying to adjust to life here, but it's so weird - people here have so very little control over their lives. They're at the mercy of things like "gravity." My concept aspect is "Stranger to this Frequency."

Now I need to buy modes. I get 30 points, and each mode costs a number of points based on the Skills it includes. Action, Banter, and Intrigue each cost 9, and Science costs 3.

Well, I know want Action, which includes Athletics, Combat, Notice, Physique, Provoke, and Vehicles. Hmm. I picture Adriago as being pretty stoic and naive, so Intrigue doesn't seem to fit. Banter, however, is just as "off." I'll go with Science as my other one (which is just Will and Notice, which is why it's cheaper). That's only 12 points, so I have 15 to build my weird mode.

So, my weird mode is going to be called "PHADE". It's about how Adriago is a denizen of another dimension, basically. Hmm. Well, obviously I'm drawing heavy inspiration from Valentine Michael Smith, here, but I don't want to just play that character. So I think Adriago is going to keep Mike's largely gentle, kind of childlike demeanor, but be more physical - this is an ACTION! game, after all. Being from a different dimension, his senses don't work quite the way ours do - not sight, smell, etc., but more his more subtle social senses. So I'll add Rapport and Provoke to this mode. Also Will, too, definitely. And then I think PHADE is going to allow Adriago to use some psychic type powers (maybe TK, maybe not), but it grants him a fluidity of movement, so I'll add Athletics. Ooh, hell, I need Empathy, too. That gives me 8 points spend, here. I'll Notice and Physique, too, for an even 10.

Now I need to rate my modes. I think PHADE should be first (Good), and then Science, and then Action. That was easy.

Now I reinforce Skills. Basically, if they show up in more than one mode, they get a boost. Right now I get:

Rapport, Provoke, Will, Athletics, Empathy, Notice, and Physique under PHADE.
Athletics, Combat, Notice, Physique, Provoke, and Vehicles under Action.
Notice and Will under Science.

So Notice shows up three times; Physique, Will, Athletics, Provoke show up twice. That means Notice starts at Trained in Good, but moves up twice to Specialized (Superb). Will starts Trained in Good and moves up to Focused (Great), as do the others, actually. Holy cats, I really stacked this well.

The book says to figure out Stress Boxes, but since I could in theory improve Skills yet, I'll let this wait. Game designers - derived traits always go last.

I should fill in some aspects, though, before I do stunts. I need an aspect for each mode, and then an Omega aspect that's just kind of quirky or troublesome. For my PHADE aspect, I'll take Harmonic Manipulation - Adriago can shift harmonies around at will. This qualifies him for some weird mega-stunts, which I'll get to. For his Science aspect, I take Everything is Different Here - his approach to science involves learning about the underlying principles of his strange new land. And for Action, I'll take Didn't Know I'd Do It Till It Was Done - Adriago is a man of action and is somewhat impulsive.

That leaves an Omega stunt. Ooh, drawing on another of my favorite novels, kind of, I'll take So It Goes. Adriago is, philosophically, inclined to see people from their own perspective, which is great, except it means that he sometimes loses the thread of the whole "good/evil" thing, because evil never thinks of itself as evil. He knows that nothing ever really stops, and so he has a hard time grieving something just because it changed form. This can make him seem insensitive or even naive.

Neat! Now stunts. Hrm. Mega-stunts are the super-power kinds of things, and I know I want a couple. I had been thinking TK, but eh. I think instead, we'll start with one based off of Adriago's temperament - he doesn't get afraid. We'll call this stunt Perspective, and it's kind of based on his ability to see things long-term, big-picture. It makes him immune to fear-causing attacks, but also gives it a cost or weakness. I think he'll be weak against social attacks that use sincerely held belief (so you're not going to get anywhere lying to him, but if you really believe what you're saying, he'll go along with it).

I also want a short-range teleport, called Harmonic Slip. This allows an absolute action; he can overcome physical barriers by slipping over or through them. I'll take a cost, there, allowing the GM to compel my concept aspect (or my PHADE aspect, for that matter) once a session.

I get three more stunts. I can take more mega-stunts, if I want, but I dunno. I can take a stunt to let me attack with Empathy, that might be fun (remember that "attack" means "causes stress"). So I think I'll take a stunt called I See You, meaning that I can use Empathy in an attack action after a successful Provoke or Rapport attack action.

Likewise, it'd be nice to use Notice, my best Skill, to defend against physical attack. I think it makes sense; Adriago can sense vibrations all around. So I think I'll take another mega-stunt called Tuned In: I can use Notice to defend against physical attacks and I get Armor:2 after the first round of combat (giving me time to get tuned in).

One more. Hmm. Oh, something I totally missed before is that because I have Science as a mode, I get all the science Skills ever at Fair. I think I should use some of my points to increase Harmonics, though. I have 5 points left, so I'll spend three points to bump it up to Specialized (Great). And then for my last stunt, I'll take Everything Has a Frequency - I get +2 to Create an Advantage with Harmonics, provided I can touch my target first.

OK, I have two points left. I can focus a Trained Skill for for 1 point or Specialize a Focused Skill for two. Hmm. I'll spend one to bump Empathy from Trained to Focused. And then I have one lonely little point left. Can I buy another Skill? Oh, I could bump another Science Skill to Focused under my Science mode, couldn't I? I'll do that. Let's say Anthropology.

And now I do stress boxes! My Good mode has both Will and Physique, so two more boxes, and then my Fair mode has Will, which adds one more mental. I'm ready to rock!



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

No Fighting! This is a Hospital!

Feng Shui was Monday, you see. Last session is here.

So, the characters had beaten up a bunch of thugs in suits, carrying guns and machetes (the thugs, not the suits). Celeste was tending to the wounded dude they'd found in the armored truck, and saw a badge on his belt - she recognized him as Johnny Zhu, and he had been around when she was trying to help the cops find her missing sister. So she really didn't want him to die, and got him on gurney for the hospital.

Meanwhile, the other characters (mostly Tang) dragged one of the toughs around the corner for some questions. He was quite willing to talk, threats of violence aside: He belongs to a group called the SLA (though he didn't say what it stood for), and they were trying to kill "the Dragons." When told that Zhu was alive, he seemed disappointed, but said that "Ape Mask" would finish him off soon enough.

Tang recognized the name "Ape Mask" - she was a soldier for hire from his time. Realizing that Zhu might still be in danger, the characters piled into Celeste's SUV and headed to Sacred Heart Hospital.

The IC floor was hopping, with a bunch of cops, doctors, patients, and so on. They walked in (and everyone except Celeste gets stares, because she's the only one from this juncture) and looked around, but no enemies yet. Celeste talked to Chief Ban, and warned him that the SLA would try to kill Zhu again, but he chortled and said, "not with this many officers up here."

At that moment, the elevators doors open, and Ape Mask and her cohorts stormed the place.

Ape Mask was accompanied by some other toughs from the future juncture that Tang recognized, including Hammer Head, who'd been there when his partner was killed. The battle was joined! Some highlights:


  • Chung Do deflecting bullets with his sword. 
  • Bai Lin taking on Buzz Smite-Yer, a crazy thug with a buzz-saw hand, and fighting him to a standstill. 
  • An Austrian soldier (turned out he was named Otmar Schlenk) carefully taking shots at Tang and Leon and nearly putting them both down. 
  • Hammer Head required three of the characters to take him out - Tang kicked him in the chest, Celeste wrapped her whip around his neck, and Leon fried him with a Chi Blast. 
  • Ape Mask threw a grenade at Zhu's room. Tang picked it up, intended to throw it back, but miscounted. Leon, thinking quickly, hit him with a Magnetic Blast and propelled the grenade out of his hand and into the elevator, where it exploded safely off-camera. 
  • Celeste and Do taking on Titanium Tu, a man with iron fists! (And Celeste felling him with a kick to his decidedly non-titanium nuts.)
  • Leon Chi-blasting a mook out the window of Johnny's room, whereupon Johnny looked at Leon and called him by his real name.
  • A nurse jabbing a mook in the leg with a sedative, whereupon he shot another mook (I rolled boxcars and then like a -10 for the mook's attack). 
When the battle was over, the character's checked out Zhu. He seemed to know Leon (as "Li"), and told the characters that they were "Dragons." He could explain more, but they had to get him out of here. He told them, quickly, that Otmar was the "face" of the SLA, and that he had arranged to buy out a medical company called Genomic Solutions. Celeste checked Otmar's body (Leon had felled him with a Chi Blast to the face), and found a keycard for this company. 

They spirited Zhu out of the hospital and to a nondescript-looking building that Leon felt was a place of power, awash with Chi. Zhu punched in a number on the keypad...and was immediately electrocuted! The door unlocked, though, so they brought him inside and Leon kept him alive, but he was unconscious. The characters looked around the room, and found a map of the world with multiple sites (mostly in China) marked, and then a corkboard with some photos - one of which was of Celeste's sister! Another was of a collapsed building that Chung Do recognized as his dojo. 

In the corner, the characters found a computer with a note saying "Do not turn on." Tang, never one for following the rules, switched it on, and a voice greeted them! This "Sylvan Master" said he had once been human, but had become a computer program for reasons he couldn't remember. He wanted to be connected to the Internet; Celeste, sensing trouble, refused. Tang, however, was curious, so he allowed Sylvan to connect via Zhu's phone, and Sylvan started assimilating data. He also told the characters about the Chi War, raging across the four main junctures, and how they had to pick up the slack now that the other Dragons were dead. But then he zoomed off to comb through Tumblr. 

Unsure at what to do next, the characters decided to check out Genomic Solutions. So next time, we'll see where that leads. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Character Creation: Witch

I'm running a one-shot of Witch in about two and half hours, and so I figure I should make a character since I'm gonna be running a group of bright-eyed gamers through this process soon (I don't have pre-gens, see). With that in mind:

The Game: Witch: Fated Souls
The Publisher: Angry Hamster Publishing
Degree of Familiarity: Not a heck of a lot. I've read the book.
Books Required: Just the one.

I backed this game on Kickstarter, and the author, +Elizabeth Chaipraditkul, is a friend a fellow member of the IGDN (as such, yes, I'll be reviewing this game for RPG.net). I really like the premise - you're playing one of the Fated, someone who has sold their soul to a demon of one kind or another for the power of magic. The tone of the game floats between World of Darkness (secret magical society next door to ours) and Sorcerer (you do magic by means of a demonic pact which could wind up fucking you long term). However, Witch also has a notion I enjoy - you can, in theory, given magical mastery, get your soul back.

With all of that in mind, what sort of witch do I want to make? The game provides seven Fates, divided up by what kind of demon owns your soul and therefore what kind of magic you do. Character creation starts with a section called Building a Backstory, which I think is pretty cool. Let's try it.

Before my Fating... Life was idyllic. My character grew up comfortable, not rich. He put forth effort in school, but didn't struggle. He interviewed for jobs, but he always got hired.

I was Fated because... The seventh sons of seventh sons in his family are generally sacrificed to a demon, but when it came time for Brian (for 'tis his name), the sacrifice went weird. Turns out Brian's father sired a son before he was married, making Brian the eighth son of a seventh son, and making the whole ritual go whack-a-ding-hoy.

My relationship with my demon is... tense, but cordial. My demon is cooly polite, because it knows that this cluster-fuck isn't really Brian's fault. Brian, for his part, wants out of the deal, but magic is pretty cool, so he wavers sometimes. His demon has suggested, but not outright agreed, that if Brian finds the actual sacrificial target (his older brother) and completes the ritual, he can have his soul back. Said brother, Timothy, ran for the goddamn hills right after the ritual, and Brian isn't sure where he is.

Today I am... half-heartedly searching. Brian isn't sure he can actually kill his older brother, both from a "that's an evil thing to do" standpoint and from a "he has mystical power of his own" standpoint (I'd leave it to my GM what sort of power Timothy has). As such, Brian is working to build up his own magic in hopes of completing the ritual. His demon, meanwhile, bides its time, fully aware that at no point did it agree on these terms.

There, good start. What's next? Choosing a Fate, of course. Heks sounds good, as does Lich - I can see the ritual involving pulling out Brian's heart and putting it in a jar, which would start. But Seer works just as well, and for a character like Brian who's going to be doing the "wander around getting in adventures" thing as he searches for his brother, having visions works nicely. So I'll go with Seer. That gives me an Underworld taint; I have little spikes coming from my spine. Not sharp enough to hurt anyone or poke through clothing, though they do make getting massages difficult. I also get visions of the future and memories of past lives (in the family, no doubt).

I have two Spells, Oculus and Brutalis, but I have to look up what they do. Just a moment. God I wish I had a physical book.

Hmm. OK, Oculus is straightforward enough; it lets me grant my visions to other people and slow the visions down to interact with them, which is actually pretty cool, though it does require a GM who'll remember I have visions and let me use them (note that Seers can't force themselves to have visions). Brutalis, though, is weird. I have an affinity for some kind of animal, and I'll pick spiders, because a) they're everywhere and b) they're awesome. They follow me around, and the cantos (kind of the specific things you can do within a given Spell) allow me to GAAAAAAAAH either heal people, possess them, or torture them JESUS GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU LIZ.

Ahem. I'll pick Mens, because possessing people with spider-drones is pretty badass. I actually don't think I'll bother putting any points into Oculus; it's cool and all, but I think I'll get by with just the cantrip (which lets me say something true about a person the first time I meet them). I'll take canto I of Mens in Brutalis and Canto I in Animus, which lets me remove a sense from a victim by using spiders. Good lord, that's horrible.

Now I get 18 points to spend in Attributes. A rating of 2 is supposedly average, and we've got 8 attributes, so I could put 2 in each one and have two points left over. But hrm. Do I want to do that? I think I do, actually, because Brian was raised to be pretty much average across the board. So I'll put the other two points into Dexterity and Perception, making him a little better than average there.

OK, then. 20 points in Skills, plus I pick two Skills that I get a +2 bonus in once per session. I'll put those in Streetwise and Deception, I think. Otherwise, we'll do it like this:

Athletics 2 (always take Athletics)
Brawl 1
Deception 3
Dodge 2 (booooo)
Etiquette 1
Melee 1
Perform 1
Ranged 2
Spot 3
Stealth 2
Streetwise 2

And that's Skills, then. Talents are my magical abilities. I get only 4 points. I know Casting is important because you roll it to, duh, cast spells, so I'll put 2 there. And I read the potions system and I think it's pretty slick. so I'll put 2 there, too. Oh, hang on, I get to pick a Talent Focus, and then I get a free point there. Hmm. Well, if I take Casting, I can deal more efficiently with demons. If I take Potions, I can identify plants better. But hang on again. I also get a bonus based on my Fate. For Casting, that's "summon a massive swarm of spiders and shape it into stuff," while for Potions it's "put my spiders into potions and I pick the aspects." Oh, decisions, decisions. I think I'll go with Casting, but it's a tough call.

Now, Pursuits, which are like Backgrounds in OWoD. I'm not crazy with how this is split up; Funds and Property are two different things. But I'll take Prestige (I like the idea that Brian is known in Fated circles) at 2 points, Funds at 1 (walking around money) and 2 in Contacts (you meet people, y'know?).

Now I get 10 freebies. I could buy another canto, if I wanted, but that would eat them all. Hmm. I'll spend 4 and buy 2 points of the Thievery skill. And because I thought it was an Attribute and missed it before, I'll spend 4 more and buy 2 points of the Wits Skill. That leaves me 2, which is either a Pursuit or a Skill. I'll buy a point of Status, meaning I'm known in my social circle (which is to say, weirdos in the occult underground).

And then we've got some derived traits. Hit points are...based on a static number and Stamina, sure. Initiative is the higher of Dexterity and Perception, so it was actually dumb of me to make them equal, ah well. CD (Combat Difficulty) is 11 + my Dodge, which really should be Athletics because splitting "Dodge" off from Athletics is silly, but whatever. And soak is equal to some weird foreign word called "armour", which I think means love? But I haven't got any, so I guess it's zero.

OK, then! Brian Arcott is tall, thin, white, light brown hair, scruff but never anything you could legitimately call a "beard." He wears jeans and a button-down shirt, and an old pea-coat when it's cold. He lives out of his car and couch surfs occasionally, but he moves around, chasing leads on his brother. He's got a spider-web tattoo on his back, and gets it expanded every new city he's in. There aren't any tattooed spiders on it, but real spiders like to hang out there, which can be freaky. Oh, and of course he's got those spines on his back, which I'm sure is fun to explain to tattoo artists.



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Changeling: Implications of the Word "Queen"

I ran Changeling: The Dreaming 20th  the other night. First session is here.

So now it's Wednesday morning (in-game, I mean). Krysa is at work, Zulkis is in the freehold, Thaia is asleep (late night with her actor friends) and Ambrose is stripping copper wiring from an abandoned building. Sander, the satyr who wasn't there last time, is working as well, scouting a location for an event (he works for a party planner).

Ambrose has a couple of buddies who are garbage men, and they're doing their rounds that morning. Sander notes the garbage truck coming down the street, and sees the two men walk down the alley by the building as if they've seen something. His interest piqued, he follows them.

Meanwhile, Bexley (one of the garage men) calls Ambrose. "Found something weird," he says. "We'll send you a picture." And indeed he does, just as Sander slips into the alley and sees what they're seeing: Corpses of rats, torn in half, and then used to write something on the alley wall. It's an alphabet that neither Ambrose nor Sander understand right away.

The garbage men see Sander and recognize him as a satyr (they're both Kinain, so they can see his fae mien). They take off, but Sander is looking at this, now, and Ambrose is already on the way, by way of Thaia's place. Sander contacts Zulkis and Krysa, and Krysa is, understandably, pissed.

The motley convenes at the alley and studies it a bit. Sander figures whatever did this was big and strong - they grabbed the rats and twisted them in half. A troll, maybe? Thaia and Zulkis look at the lettering and interpret it as a warning or a challenge, but Thaia looks a little deeper (by Unleashing Soothsay) and realizes it's more an acknowledgement of a challenge, like "you threw the gauntlet, we picked it up." This would seem to point to Rista the Rat-thing, whom the characters kind of humiliated the other night.

Krysa is pretty furious at all this. She calls up her rats (well, the rats are still following her) and talks to them. She learns that the rats were baited and lured here, and the rats smell "cat-rat" in a bolthole in the wall. A shapeshifter, maybe like Rista? Rista wasn't big enough to do this, but maybe she had help. Zulkis thinks on this, (and uses Kenning) and comes up with the feeling of death, and a flavor of Glamour he hasn't seen before.

The characters fall back to a coffee shop to think about this. Thaia reads tea leaves (using Soothsay) and sees a hammer - the symbol of House Dougal. Count Maldiset, the ranking sidhe in the city, is House Dougal, and he's not a fan of the democratic way this Duchy is run. But would he work with Thallain? And why target Krysa? The changelings figure they need someone more well-versed in Soothsay than Thaia to wrangle this, and Ambrose and Krysa know a guy - a boggan street salesman named Dosan.

They track down Dosan, and he agrees to do some casting on their behalf. He casts a Soothsay cantrip, and then explains what he's found - Krysa is the Rat-Queen. Whether she meant to or not, she got the Dreaming's attention with her Unleashing, and she now matters in a big way (lots of rats in NYC!). How that all ties in with the political situation, Dosan can't say, but he advises the motley to figure out what they know already, maybe that'll help. They thank him (and Ambrose trades him the copper wire for a pocket watch, while Thaia asks to come back and learn some Soothsay), and they fall back to the freehold to chat.

Zulkis points out that he was a noble before Maldiset ordered him to murder a man named Michael Hecton, a city councilman. Krysa's heard of this; Hecton was angling to sell off the old subway stops (like the one the characters use), and then he was run down by a car. But Zulkis says a sidhe named Ulsa was responsible for this, and Maldiset ultimately made the call. Ambrose, too, has some dirt on Maldiset.

But neither of them think Maldiset would knowingly work with the Thallain; he's Seelie, after all. There must be another player involved, and it isn't someone the characters know.

They decide that since the Parliament of Dreams is meeting tomorrow, they'll go and observe. Maybe there, they'll find some answers.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Epyllion: The Black Sands

Last time, the dragons had fought the Eel-King (again) and fought against the inertia of elder dragons. Finally, they had a lead, though - the Black Sand Island. They spent some time at White Falls, and prepared to leave. Veris had haunting visions; he saw a huge black disc in the ocean at night, and realized the island was liquid. But then he saw the sun rise, and the island solidified. Veris figured he'd better look into this a bit more, and went to find an elder dragon of his house. He listened to their stories and started poking and prodding, trying to get advice. He finally got an older dragon named Draven to speak with him, and stood up to an older dragon to get some information about that island. Draven advised him that if they flew due west, they'd find the island, but if they went north slightly, there was a small island where they could rest.

That night, they set out, with Biscuit (who'd become Nova's lover) coming along, and sure enough, found the little sandbar island. They rested, and Veris kept a lookout while Nova and Freja slept and Hawley and Azrael flew on ahead. Azrael, in fact, had scored a skin of a smelly paste that acted like a powerful stimulant for dragons, so she was flying too fast, up ahead...she acted despite danger, and the black liquid rose up and swallowed.

Hawley flew back to get the others for help, and they cut short their rest and headed for the island. Azrael, meanwhile, was stuck in a black cavern, the walls covered with sticky black stuff. She rubbed some off and made a ball, and discovered it oozed, but very slowly. She figured that maybe she could harden it with some dragonfire, so she used dragon trade to try to craft it. She missed, however, and lit the whole place on fire, taking Harm.

The rest of the clutch, inbound, saw the fire erupt from the liquid island. Freja called upon the spirit moon to give them a safe place to land, and wound up with a little outcropping of earth next to the black liquid. Nova tried to call on the storm moon to hit the black stuff with lightning, but she missed, and took a Shadow Point. Hawley shared the load to take the point, and flying higher, called upon the storm moon himself, seeing what Nova had been trying to do. He succeeded, but lost control. Chain lightning lanced down and shocked some of the dragons - everyone acted despite danger. Azrael, now freed, took Harm, as did Freja. Nova flew in front of Biscuit to protect him and took Harm, while Hawley was flying high and had no problems. Veris caught Azrarel as she was blown out of the black stuff and took some Harm, but was otherwise OK.

Freja used scent of a place and realized this place could provided building materials and a way to defeat the Eel King. Veris grabbed some of the black stuff and flew upwards, acting despite danger. It solidified around his paw, trapping it. Azrael, testing the place, called on the void moon, and lost control of the magic (but it was exceptionally powerful!). The island developed topography. It had structures, stairs, meeting places...it was worn, but expertly sculpted.

Surprised by this, the dragons started looking around at these new features. Azrael tried to find the highest point, a throne, if you will. Veries examined the island, but missed, and wandered off on his own. He found a pit or well in the center of the island, a place that swallowed light and sound. He examined the Darkness Well, and missed, found his hand turning black...and his scales...

Back with the group, Freja asked her spirit guide where Veris was, and Oodle told her he couldn't sense Veris anymore, but had lost him near the center. They started heading for the center.

Veris used a new move - touch the Darkness. He had a vision about Azarel, and about her learning to activate the obsidian and control it. Veris saw Biscuit, and followed him; Biscuit said he'd lead him back to the clutch.

Meanwhile, the rest of the clutch, including Biscuit, found the Darkness Well. Freja called upon the liberty moon, but missed - all of the buildings collapsed, stunning some of the dragons who were still in those buildings. Azrael, wanting the buildings back, called upon the void moon, and everything reformed just as before. Hawley, ever the daredevil, dove into the Darkness Well, acting despite danger, but pulled up just in time - it's a trap. The Darkness Well is deadly.

Meanwhile, Veris was following "Biscuit" and sensing something amiss, studied him. He realized that it wasn't Biscuit and tried to fly off. He acted despite danger and missed, and found himself cornered by the imposter. Veris called on the liberty moon to escape, but missed again, and the imposter became blackness, and oozed toward him...

We shall see, next time, what becomes of our heroes.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Changeling Notes

Players, don't read past the rat. I'm serious.

Squeak!

OK, not reading if you're playing?

Good.