The Initiative: Superhero RPG Appendix N Blog Challenge

Theron of My Dice Are Older Than You turned me on to Barking Alien‘s Superhero RPG Appendix N Challenge:

I challenge you, the Superhero RPG GM, and/or player, to list between 5 and 10 Superhero comic books, and 5 to 10 Superhero live action or animated shows or films, that typify your style of Superhero RPG campaign.


Minimum is 5. Maximum is 10. This means you have to really think about the ones that best embody the type of Supers gaming you prefer. Who’s up for the challenge?

I feel like this could devolve into listing my favorite comics, rather than highlighting titles that convey the superhero ethos I want in the campaign I run, but let’s give it a try.

Comic Books

  • Starman: The Robinson and Harris series, in which Jack Knight is reluctant heir to his father’s legacy as Starman. One of the recurring motifs was a loving embrace of the goofiness of the Silver Age, and treating it straight-facedly. The straight face is key. The idea may be ludicrous, but the characters treat it as a credible threat all the same, not unlike a giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
  • New Mutants: A school is always a useful campaign frame for superheroes. The player characters may not necessarily be students, but a school or training facility setting offers so many options for supporting characters, interwoven story lines and a home base to contrast the familiar with new locales.
  • Excalibur: The early days of the comic felt more like investigating weirdness with a sense of whimsy than the soap opera of the other X-Men books at the time. And whatever happened to W.H.O., the Weird Happenings Organization, led by Brigadier Alysande Stuart, speaking of useful frameworks that give the right mix of structure and leeway to player character groups?

TV Shows and Films

  • Heroes: It was riddled with plot holes and idiot balls, but the basic concept of every day people “breaking out” with astonishing powers is a solid hook, and puts the players on the ground floor of a new era in history.
  • X2: This was the X-Men film that had the right mix of the sensibility of heroes in the contemporary world and the sweet point in their development, beyond having just broken out, but still developing and making new allies

Other Resources

  • Paragons: Green Ronin’s toolkit setting book for Mutants & Masterminds needs a shout-out here. It includes so many different approaches to modern heroes, from the explorers of weirdness that early Excalibur exemplified to the classic superpowers appearing — or reappearing after an absence — in the everyday population. And it heavily influenced my Paragons of Freedom campaign.
  • Suppressed Transmission: Once weirdness is on the table, you have to deal in Suppressed Transmission. It’s a trove of McGuffins and sources of superpowers.

Mummy’s Mask: The Half-Dead City

The Half-Dead City cover art.Since Carrion Crown wrapped up last December, my role-playing opportunities have been a little sparse on the ground. Other obligations kept my schedule from lining up with other opportunities, which have been surprisingly plentiful, as Burlington has enjoyed a boom in public tabletop game opportunities in the last nine months, but it hasn’t ever really worked out.

Until recently, when Dan, he of Horace Gunderson and Auberon Crane, decided that the best complement to an every other week campaign of Wrath of the Righteous for Pathfinder would be the Mummy’s Mask adventure path on alternating weeks.

I dithered over a character for a long time. Long enough that almost everyone else settled on some kind of spell-casting class, which made it pretty clear we needed more than the dwarven warrior-matron Victovich. So, having seen the class in action with Geoff’s character Andris in Carrion Crown, I picked up the Expanded Spell-less Ranger PDF from Kobold Press. Clumsy name, but I liked that it brought rogue talent-like capabilities to the ranger, whose later level new additions tend to be “have some low level druid spells!” It’s so early in the game, that Mentu the spell-less ranger is exactly like any other ranger in Wati. I’ll keep you posted.

So far, the PlunderCats, doing business as . . . some other, less compelling name that I didn’t come up with, became a fully authorized team of tomb raid — antiquities reclaimants. They successfully explored a general’s tomb and circulated valuable goods into the local economy. Their second assigned job proved more problematic, with a swarm of scarabs and some kind of sand elemental proving the most troublesome.

Broken Moon on Carnagecast

Broken Moon cover.The latest episode of Carnagecast features Dan, Hunter and Toby, fellow compatriots in our Carrion Crown campaign, talking about their thoughts in playing through the third module, Broken Moon. Go give it a listen and hear about some of the stuff that I didn’t recap.

And hey, if you rated the show in iTunes, that’d be pretty cool, too.

[RPG Blog Carnival] Pimp a Game: Northern Crown

rpgblogcarnivallogoIn this carnival of sharing our under-loved favorite role-playing games, I’d like to talk about Northern Crown.

Picture a history of the world mostly as we know it, but painted with the palette of d20 Dungeons & Dragons. Amid the hardworking artisans and farmers of Uropa stride adventurers: trained soldiers, paladins of God, wizards and more.

The powers of western Uropa have turned their gaze to the west, where a massive, uncharted land, called Northern Crown for the distinctive constellation in its night sky, has been found by explorers. Those Uropan nations have unsurprisingly taken to the prospect of new, open lands with alacrity, settling all up and down Northern Crown’s eastern coast.

Of course, Northern Crown isn’t empty of inhabitants at all. Wild, fantastic beasts dwell here: catamounts, horned serpents, stony elementals, fairies and more. Moreover, people live here. The nations of the First Ones span the landscape, blending into the existing environment that most Uropan settlements don’t. As you can tell, it’s a match for the ages as the First Ones struggle against foreign interlopers in their lands.

Northern Crown stands out from other fantasy settings in several ways for me, who’s accustomed to most fantasy settings being “Okay, it’s pretty much standard Dungeons & Dragons, but darker!”:

  • Anachronistic alternate history. Part of the world’s charm is it’s not only an alternate history of the world as we know it, plus magic, fell beasts and all that, plus it’s the greatest hits of renaissance/reformation Europe and colonial America. Fantasy Thomas Jefferson and Wizardly Ben Franklin lead a nation of freethinkers in the 17th century, while exiled King Charles plots against the half-fey Gloriana reigning over Albion.
  • Humans only. The dominant sentient species in Northern Crown are humans. There are fairies and outsiders, but they start off as non-player races. There are no elves or dwarves, etc. Replacing the racial axis in the Cartesian grid system of character creation is culture. Players choose a culture in which their character grew up and receive feats and abilities based on what that culture values. Albions learn minor glamer magics, Vinlanders train for the life of a sea wolf and Sophians prize education and reason.
  • Straddling the divide between medievalism and industry. True to its historical roots, Northern Crown incorporates advances in technology from the default pseudo-medievalism of Dungeons & Dragons. Firearms are relatively common, though the rules as written make them more of a pain than they’re worth, which is how I think the designer wanted them. The apex of melee combat is fencing, more intricately developed than the art of swinging a greatsword. Natural philosophers have begun to categorize and plumb the depths of phenomena observed in the world — they’re mechanically a kind of spellcaster that relies on specific tools, but the process and effects are wholly scientific.

To the goal of getting Northern Crown into the game-playing public’s eye, in December I began the project of extracting the setting’s declared open content — so wonderfully much of it; indeed, nearly everything — and updating it to Pathfinder, presenting it in the style of You’ll find Project Boreas, currently a work in progress, available for perusal and populated with ever more material for exploring the lands of Corona Borealis.

Updating the source material to Pathfinder has been interesting. So far I’ve focused on things that don’t need a lot of change. But I’m coming to the point where Northern Crown‘s unique classes — agent, natural philosopher, rake, raider, soldier and witch, namely — need attention. Sometimes, there’s a Pathfinder class or archetype that does most of the job, or there are already written class features that can transport over pretty well. The question is: when is it worth making a change to something already written?

My own inclination is to change as little of the source material as possible. Let GMs and players make their own decisions. Some things, like upgrading a class’ hit die, are no-brainers. Northern Crown‘s unique classes also need level 20 capstone abilities. Other things, like the fencing rules, perplex me. They were written before the codification of combat maneuvers into CMB and and CMD rolls. How does one gauge the utility of a hilt smash or rondo against the venerable charge and bull rush? Plus, there shouldn’t be a feat to gain access to fencing moves. So either all the classes that get Fencing for free either need a new free feat, or that Fencing feat gives a CMB bonus to fencing maneuvers; CMB bonuses are reportedly rare as hen’s teeth in Pathfinder, outside the cad. I may like Pathfinder, but I certainly don’t have the level of system mastery to know when tugging on a string knocks down a load-bearing column on the far side of the rules complex.

Fun questions, right? That’s what I’ll plug away at as I can for the next few months. Spending more time observing conversation on the Paizo forums has proven very instructive in getting a read on things that are considered vital, over-powered or lackluster in the eyes of forum-going players.

All this game mechanic work is in service to running a Northern Crown game someday, of course; hopefully after we finish Carrion Crown. Picture it: the hard-set Free Republic of Vermont lies in the nebulous marches between Nouvelle France and Nieu Amsterdam, antagonistic Uropan powers, sharing that contested space with First Ones bands and the fantastic fauna of Northern Crown. After a rough winter, its citizens — some of whom may not agree that they “belong” to any such republic — need new leaders to succeed the aging Ira Cole, chief of the Green Mountain Rangers. Leaders who ought to be handy with swords, flintlocks and spells to defend their lands and neighbors.

“Your pickle wife, while beautiful, is a gopher.”


Auberon Crane puts the mayor of Illmarsh in his place.[1]

[1] That gem floated up out of my deep memory last night. As it was uttered during the great recap hiatus, I must ensure its existence outside the Twittersphere.

[Carrion Crown] On the Road to Caliphas

Cover of Ashes at Dawn.This week in Carrion Crown, a Dan (Auberon Crane), Geoff (Andris Kreitov), Joey (Thadeamus Straw), Toby (Solis Lightwarden and his eidolon Gea) and Tyler (Alexandros Callimachi) and GM Hunter struck out on the road to Caliphas.

. . . Only having once completed their shopping errands, of course. After a retreat to the Stairs of the Moon in the Shudderwood to help Solis convalesce from his sharp break with good ideas, the adventurers return to Lepidstadt to pick up commissioned items and release Thadeamus Straw from the cell in which he slaved away, crafting wondrous items for his new “friends.”

“Don’t take any wooden pickles.”
— advice from Judge Daramid

The dark rider’s letter spoke of Caliphas, so that’s where they head, urged on further by Judge Daramid, who suggests checking in with the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye’s membership there. Viktor the coachman happens to be available for hire, so there’s a familiar hand at the reins as they travel across Ustalav to the nation’s capital, a hive of debauchery and excess, by all accounts.

The first night, sleeping by the roadside, Andris hears a coach passing by during his watch. When he investigates, the coach instantaneously halts. The door opens, as if in invitation. Andris, for once in his impulsive life, stands his ground. The coach moves on. In the morning, Viktor is shaken to hear of the incident, recounting the old tale of the black carriage, whose chosen passengers disappear after its second passing.

“Why would you ask questions? They’re already dead. Aside from ‘What’s that worth?'”
— a Dan

Later, as the coach approaches a bridge, as Gea and Andris detect the scent of rot, they catch sight of dire wolves stalking through the trees. Across the bridge, a mounted figure blocks the way. Unflappable, stoic Viktor is at a loss, so as Callimachi yells, “Drive!” Kreitov grabs the reins, whipping the horses into a frenzy to cross the bridge.

The horses gather steam. The rotting dire wolves keep pace initially. Crane and Callimachi awkwardly fight them off from inside the coach. Once they build up a lather however, the now-panicked horses leave the undead monsters well behind. The figure ahead in the road smartly moves out of their path.

“This went differently in my head. *urk*”
— Andris Kreitov

As the coach passes, Kreitov gets a good look at the figure, noticing it lacks a head. And that it’s astride a fiery, smoking nightmare of a mount. Andris’ impulsive nature returns from its holiday. He launches himself from the coach in a flying tackle of the headless horseman. They struggle briefly before the Ustalavian hunter finds himself bodily lifted by the throat into the air.

The horses have their full head as Viktor clings to the bench for dear life and the reins flap uselessly. Solis crawls out of the coach to take charge of the situation once Callimachi gives him a boost. Thadeamus looks back to block the wolves’ progress across the bridge with a wall of ice. Crane rolls from the runaway coach while Gea flies overhead, both making to join the fray against the headless rider.

Looking back down the road, Callimachi gestures for Straw to move the two of them back into the action via dimension door. This has the unintended side effect of putting them right in the path of the ghoulish dire wolves creeping out of the river, but not before Callimachi gets off a bolt of searing light on the rider.

The nightmare breathes gouts of smoke as its rider swings an improbably long flail through the air. Andris, Auberon and Gea are at it hammer and tongs to put the rider down, even forcing him to dismount.

Once the horseman and wolves are dispatched and Solis has reined in the frothing horses, reflection suggests this was a dullahan, a sort of fairy. Checking its possessions, Andris receives yet another shock of searing pain as he discovers a particular amulet reacts negatively to his touch — and that of anyone else in the group. Almost as though it were opposed to being in the possession of someone who might be called “good” . . .[1]

[1] And that’s all that happened that night. Despite the brevity of the recap, that was a long-ass fight against the dullahan and ghoulish dire wolves. Some very nice cinematics, with the runaway coach and Andris leaping off to confront the rider. Apparently we missed some expository dialogue, but you’ll have that when putting the NPCs on the defense. Apparently the dullahan didn’t expect to be charged by a rattletrap coach with a wolf and a snake on the roof.

[Carrion Crown] Mother of a Thousand Young

Wake of the Watcher cover.This week in Carrion Crown, a Dan (Auberon Crane), Geoff (Andris Kreitov), Joey (Thadeamus Straw), Toby (Solis Lightwarden and his eidolon Gea) and Tyler (Alexandros Callimachi) and GM Hunter plumbed the final depths of a truly wretched hive of skum and villainous mi-go.

The cavern still reeks of whatever ichor the inside-out Gea-thing seeped from its exposed organs before finally fading away to . . . where? Where does an eidolon filtered through the Dark Tapestry go once it’s had the ectoplasm beaten out of it?

“You have other friends, right? Celestial friends with giant feet?”
— Callimachi gauges Solis’ current tactical use

The only person in any position to answer that question lies deep in the cozy embrace of a crossbow whipping-induced nap. His compatriots stand over the crumpled elf, debating earnestly whether it’s better to leave him there and what if the Gea-thing comes back? In due time, Solis is revived with a bit of healing magic. His first concern is for Gea, but some inept fast talking distracts him — which only goes to show just how addled the elf truly is.

Meanwhile, Andris scouts beyond another purple membrane portal, finding a room filled with mi-go machinery and a great glass dome looking up on the bottom of the lake. He almost regrets his decision, as he espies still more mi-go and, strapped to an operating and seemingly lacking the finer benefits of anesthetic, a man stripped to his black trousers undergoing the monstrosities’ surgical terrors.

This news provides a kick in the seat of the armor to everyone, for whom the breather was turning into a lengthy chat about how Solis can be made “safe,” given his current state of mind. Thadeamus’ suggestion of dominating the elf is taken dimly. Instead, Straw leads off the offensive with a tastefully placed fireball, after which everyone rushes in and starts a-swingin’.

“I cast dominate person on Andris.”
“‘No time to read minds! Make a Will save.'”
— Joey and Hunter

The battle is over shockingly quickly. Solis brings on a cavalcade of rhinos and slows the mi-go’s inhumanly fast reflexes. Auberon and Kreitov get in close and personal with the fungi creatures. Callimachi unleashes a hail of crossbow bolts. The wizard Straw forgoes indulging in his desire to whip out his rapier.[1] While running a mi-go through, Andris catches sight of its victim, finding him thrashing in his restraints as star slugs burrow under his skin. The hunter grimaces, remembering his own encounter with the slugs’ life cycle at the Undiomede manor.

It’s in the clean-up that the true dimensions of the situation become clear. Andris glances up and his jaw drops, sword likewise dipping to the ground as his mighty thews go slack. One by one, the others in the chamber notice the direction of Andris’ gaze and follow suit. And one by one, they are completely staggered by what they see.

Emerging from a gaping portal in the water overhead is a writhing mass of tentacles, mouths, talons, horns and hooves that can only be the one, the only, Shub-Niggurath. Not enough to suborn the Dagon-worshiping skum, the mi-go have, for unfathomable reasons, elected to bring this great old one into the world from beyond time and space. It is, all things considered, a highly questionable plan.

To make things even better, as Shub-Niggurath crawls out the rent in reality, the man in black explodes. The star slugs inside have done their business, rending his frame to shreds as a tree-like beast of tentacles bursts forth. With two menaces before them, the adventurers focus of the — slightly — more immediate threat of the thing that erupted from the dark rider. Happily, the death of the abomination resonates with the emerging great old one above. The portal contracts and Shub-Niggurath retreats beyond the Dark Tapestry.

The force of the portal’s abrupt closure, however, rocks the skum dome, fatally fracturing it beneath the crushing pressure of an entire massive lake. Solis snaps alert at the impending threat. With a speed no one could have expected of him at this point, the elf grabs Callimachi and Kreitov to teleport them all up to Kroon’s boat on the surface. The ranger notices a small casket on the floor by the operating table, however, and twists away to grab it. Thadeamus provides egress for himself, Crane and Kreitov, joining moments later the others on the surface as the skum lair gives away beneath the pressure and collapses into a waterlogged ruin.

Callimachi leans over the bow railing of the boat to watch the waves as it makes for the shore.[3] Investigation of the casket reveals not only the sea sage effigy, stolen all that time ago from Lepidstadt University,[4] but personal effects and correspondence confirming that man was the dark rider from Feldgrau, which pretty much made his evisceration by the mi-go okay. The letter also provides a lead: the rider was to meet his correspondent in the capital of Ustalav, Caliphas, at a particular inn.

Caliphas can wait for another day, though. The heroes have to tend their wounded, decide whether to claim doctorates or money from Crowl for the return of the sea sage effigy,[5] and make use of some of the treasures liberated on the Illmarsh expedition. Crafting commissions are placed in the street of cunning artificers and, on Crane’s suggestion, they all repair to the Stairs of the Moon in the Shudderwood for a period of time. Surely the relaxing natural scenery will do Solis a world of good, once they put those werewolves in their place again.[6][7]

[1] I forget how it came up, but as we launched the ambush, Hunter made a joke about the PCs making all these John Woo battle moves — Callimachi sliding across the floor, launching bolt after bolt, that sort of thing — while . . . Straw ran away because he lost his invisibility? I think that’s it. Joey will be along shortly, I bet.

[2] You realized it was the damned dark rider we chased across Ustalav, didn’t you?

[3] Vowing to kill every miserable soul in Illmarsh, no doubt.

[4] So long ago I didn’t recognize the name of the fellow who promised us all honorary doctorates, Montaign Crowl, at all.

[5] Hint: no one took a doctorate.

[6] Because who set up the current chief of the werewolves in their place? That’s right: we did.

[7] And thus we dinged 11th level. The rest of the evening was spent pawing through equipment listings to optimize the expenditure of a shocking amount of loot for returning that effigy. Plus Solis got himself a mi-go mist projector that surely will never, ever prove problematic in the middle of a fight. Oh heavens, no.

[Carrion Crown] Depredations of the Mi-Go

Wake of the Watcher cover.This week in Carrion Crown, a Dan (Auberon Crane), Geoff (Andris Kreitov), Joey (Thadeamus Straw), Toby (Solis Lightwarden and his eidolon Gea) and Tyler (Alexandros Callimachi) and GM Hunter delved ever deeper into the lake bottom lair of the skum and what seem to be their new fungoid overlords.

Once the mi-go are dealt with, Solis, looking more wan than ever before by the light of glowing cave moss, insists he needs to rest. Kreitov and Crane don’t disagree too strenuously. A plan is crafted whereby Thadeamus casts rope trick and the rope itself camouflaged among the glowing moss throughout the cavern complex. Everyone scampers into the extradimensional space for some fitful rest, sleeping with one eye open and trained on the “window” looking down into the cave.

“Could we put these in the handy haversack?”
“Did you bring one?”
— Thadeamus and Alexandros

Eight hours later, they emerge refreshed in resources, if not emotionally. Solis weakly tries to dissuade the others from investigating the chambers from which the mi-go emerged, but they are undeterred. Most of the chambers are empty, as though they’ve been cleaned out. One contains a few stray parts made of a greasy black metal. Thadeamus pieces two together and abruptly disappears with a snap, reappearing seconds later and talking backwards at impossible speed. He blinks in and out of existence repeatedly while Callimachi and Crane look on in disbelief and growing concern. Just as suddenly, Thadeamus snaps back to reality with a crackle, somewhat perturbed at the holy warriors leveling blade and bolt at him, demanding to know who he is.[1] At Callimachi’s great reluctance, the array of mi-go technology scraps are packed away for another day.

Further down from the mi-go’s chambers, they find a dead end chamber with that abbatoir stench. The rent remains of human and skum alike litter the ground. It’s as still as the grave — until the stone of the floor distorts and shoots upward into sharp-edged spikes and a ravening multi-armed beast with a vertically-oriented jaw snapping ferociously. The spikes divide the group in half, but Gea easily glides over them to join in the melee, which sorts the gug, as Thadeamus dubs it, in short order. The spikes persist after its death, so it takes a dimension door to get everyone out of the chamber without navigating its razor sharp bounds.

The central dome continues to beckon, leading the investigators down the southerly hallway. Kreitov and Callimachi sneak up on a trio of skum, two “modified” with exposed brains and inexplicable bits poking out, one corpulent and otherwise whole — that seem to be in the middle of stripping a shrine to Dagon, pulling gold and shell artwork from the walls. With barely a shared glance,[2] the pair launch a volley of missiles, getting the drop on the chumps for very little payoff. In the course of the ensuing fray, it seems the unmodified skum is a priest of some ilk, calling down flame strike and wielding searing light. Inspection afterward reveals the skum worshiped Shub-Niggurath, not Dagon as one might presume. The implication there are factions forming among the skum, perhaps at the prompting of fungal overseers, is not lost on the group.

Beyond the shrine, the way forks again. To the east is something completely unexpected: a shaped, rectangular chamber, lined with columns and pedestals. In the natural cave system the skum inhabit, this crafted hall with 90 degree angles sticks out like a sore thumb. It must be a new addition by the mi-go. Certainly, it’s filled with their handiwork. The pedestals lining the hall each bear a glass cylinder filled with a bubbling, blue fluid in which are suspended whole brains. The sickening truth connecting the chamber of eviscerated human and skum remains and this room of brain cases sinks in with everyone. Solis slumps to the floor, murmuring to himself quietly. Kreitov and Gea guide him toward the hall. Thadeamus detects thoughts within the room, most of which are the screaming insanity of poor souls trapped in a sightless, soundless black void. Straw zeroes in the one whole mind in the room that isn’t one of his associates: that of Mayor Greedle, pleading for someone to help him.[3] Fiddling with controls in the pedestal, the magician elicits first nothing but an arrhythmic clicking that puts everyone’s teeth on edge, then slowly brings forth the voice of the mayor, still pleading for help.

“They must have ordered it late one night off the electric radish.”
— Geoff on Mr. Chunder

The only help they can provide, though, is the peace of the grave. Grimly stone-faced, Crane and Callimachi go about removing the brains from the sustaining fluid as Thadeamus works out how to release the catches sealing their containers. As they perform last rites for the victims of the mi-go, Kreitov scouts down the other passage. What he finds is very nearly as unsettling: a dimensional shambler throwing skum corpses into the gaping, swirling bladed maw of yet another mi-go device of greasy black metal.[4]

Doubling back, Kreitov updates the group. No longer completely swept away by the prospect of having the element of surprise on their side, as in the Dagon shrine, they take this opportunity to do a little preparation. Callimachi beseeches Iomedae’s favor for the group. Straw disappears in a pop, weighing the relative merits of fire and electricity against vegetable matter. Solis, in a heap on the floor and mumbling vaguely under his breath this whole time, nods decisively as Gea evaporates without warning, which is not her usual style of exit at all.[5]

“It’s going to be better now,” the elf announces. No one is certain what to take away from that, so they opt to table questioning his meaning for now.

Thadeamus peeks around the corner to lob his fireball, which goes down a treat with shamblers and mi-go alike. Andris bolts forward and wrestles with a shambler, intending to hurl it into the mi-go chunderizer, but finding the shambler rather opposed to that plan of action. Crane and Callimachi join the fray at close and medium ranges, respectively, just as the air sizzles and something slithers into existence. It’s serpentine and vaguely Gea-like, but massively bigger with bony wings. In fact, there are bones all over, as though the serpent had been pulled inside out.[6] Solis, around the corner and by himself, giggles deliriously, apologizing to no one in particular for stealing the book Straw found, On Abstruse Geometries, but he had to do something to give them an edge against these monstrosities, so why not fight Dark Tapestry with Dark Tapestry?

Crane’s skin crawls at this clearly evil monster from beyond, but it turns toward the shambler and mi-go, so that’s acceptable for the moment. Once they’re dealt with, however, the Gea-thing lingers on. Then this distortion of an eidolon, filtered through the Dark Tapestry, becomes the problem. Auberon and Andris engage the beast, discovering that as they deal blow after devastating blow and normally internal fluids spatter everywhere, it seems unflagged, almost as though something were feeding it vitality, as summoners are wont to do for their eidolons. Callimachi bolts back around the corner. Raising the butt of his crossbow, he savagely cracks Solis across the temple. The elf, worn, weary and perhaps forcibly drained of life by the Gea-thing, falls unconsciously to the ground, but there is no expected corresponding pop. The eidolon is stronger than anyone expected. The Gea-thing continues clinging to the material plane until Andris and Auberon finish it off completely. It vanishes with that same skin-crawling sizzle, leaving the four humans breathing heavily in the now-still cavern.

[1] Hunter brought up “evil doppelganger passwords,” where when a group splits up, they assign each other a line of poetry to recite on reconvening, just in case someone gets replaced by an impostor. It’s a pretty good idea.

[2] Callimachi remembering the last time he insisted Andris hold back for a moment. It didn’t go well for the hunter.

[3] Thus explaining Thadeamus’ extreme reaction to scrying for the mayor when he first disappeared.

[4] Dubbed “Mr. Chunder,” which the mi-go must have drunkenly ordered late one night off the electric radish.

The electric radish being the riddling mushroom that so vexed us in the previous session.

[5] And really, that was our out-of-game warning something was up. Solis never voluntarily dismisses Gea without extreme coaxing.

[6] Looking something like a venomthrope, as Hunter explained.

[Skull & Shackles] The Story So Far

Skull & Shackles: The Wormwood Mutiny Cover
Raiders of the Fever Sea cover

It’s been a long, long time since the doings of the wayward conscripts aboard the Wormwood.[1] Since the capture of the Ulfen vessel Man’s Promise:

  • They were assigned as part of the skeleton crew to bring Man’s Promise into port.
  • In very short order, they led a mutiny against the contemptible Scourge and Plugg, prompted by Viola being set up for the murder of crewmates. Plugg died in the fracas, but Scourge weaseled his way to an arrangement of being dropped at the next port.
  • A storm ran the ship aground on an deserted island teeming with ghouls, grindylows, and flies carrying ghoul fever. The latter claimed far too many lives of good crew as they struggled to repair the ship.
  • Once off the island, Man’s Promise made for Rickety’s Squibs, painfully aware that Captain Harrigan would be on the lookout for his tardy prize. The bulk of their loot paid for disguising the ship, as well as improving its handling.
  • While enjoying a game of ten pins, a hunger-maddened naga assaulted the group, maiming most and dragging Felix the inquisitor off to sate its hunger.
  • They traveled up-river to the kingdom of the nagas, seeking redress for the violation of the arrangement between the nagas and Rickety. The queen turned out to be quite the looker and most hospitable, putting the travelers up in a temple full of talking monkeys and giving them a lead on ruins of note.[2] Investigation yielded scars, bruises and a circlet of persuasion.
  • Felix Cailean, briefly lunch for a naga, was reincarnated by a local druid. This had the unforeseen side-effect of turning him into a half-orc.
  • Taking to sea in a squibbed ship now christened the Irredeemable, boasting the figurehead salvaged from a Cheliaxian galleon, the crew took its first prize, a longship belonging to the Aspis Consortium.
  • Arriving in Blood Cove, the officers of Irredeemable were greeted nearly as soon as they set feet on the ground by an agent who ushered them to a meeting with Aspis agents, eager to reacquire their ship and its cargo.
  • Negotiations for the exchange of crew and cargo for currency led to an arrangement of Irredeemable taking occasional assignments from the consortium, the first of which was to escort the Kirstov and its cargo of weapons to fuel a revolt in the Mwangi expanse.[3] In return for this errand, the consortium paid for the services of a cleric to remove the lingering malaise Felix Cailean suffered since his reincarnation.
  • Cornelius of the Aspis Consortium joined the Irredeemable‘s complement, bringing arcane and divine magics to the mix.[4]
  • One consortium agent took a shine to Lady Viola, offering her a peerage in the Cheliaxian empire in exchange for vassalage. Lady Blood was right on board with that.
  • There was a flurry of debauchery and commerce, as Blood Cove was the first settlement with a sufficient wherewithal of trade for the sailors and adventurers to put their long-idle coin to use.
  • Orson and Cornelius were kept busy crafting wands and brewing portions. Captain Jetsam procured a mithril chain shirt for himself. Lady Viola acquired bling. Morley hit every tavern in town, drumming up infamy and recruits, bringing Irredeemable‘s complement up to 40 odd souls, plus camp followers secured by Sandra Quinn, who maintained she could no longer sustain the whole crew’s morale by herself.

And thus Irredeemable set out from Blood Cove, escorting the Kirstov with its cargo of arms for revolution because war is profitable.

[1] There is no way I could recapture everything that happened since my enthusiasm for writing up these sessions ran dry over the summer. Think of this as a sort of clean break. I plan to carry on recapping from here, but better controlling the amount of time it takes up. The Story So Far takes us through the end of The Wormwood Mutiny and well towards what must be the end of Raiders of the Fever Sea — as the characters close on 6th level, that seems fairly probable.

[2] Morley’s pulse quickened and his fingers twitched.

[3] Where the consortium wishes to help itself to a number of Osirian tombs. Oh, how Morley struggled to maintain a disinterested expression.

[4] And thus we welcomed Paul into the group in this most recent.

[Carrion Crown] The Story So Far

When last we left the junior justice defenders of Lepidstadt (ret.), they stood poised to ambush a gang of trolls in the gatehouse of Schloss Caromarc. A lot has happened since then. Briefly:

Trial of the Beast

Trial of the Beast cover

  • They forced their way through building after crumbling building of Caromarc’s cliffside estate. Where decrepit architecture didn’t threaten their lives, the count’s experiments or “gifts” left by the Whispering Way did. At the pinnacle of a perilously slanty tower, they found the Beast itself joined in battle with another monstrosity of a golem while an electrical storm raged over head.
  • After dispatching the golem they cared for less,[1] the adventurers find Count Caromarc himself stashed away in a cupboard. Crane takes the tactic of blaming Caromarc for everything that’s gone wrong, as there would have been little to threaten anyone if not for his innumerable experiments in alchemy and fleshcrafting.
  • Perhaps feeling a little guilty about the whole affair, Caromarc offers gold and a lead in the further doings of the Whispering Way: an exclusive hunting lodge deep in the Shudderwood. Continue reading