Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mutant Hero Zombie Robot Slave Apocalypse

Intro for this new campaign:
After the venerable Spiral Tower University capitulated from within as a consequence of a sudden uprising by Warforged patriots, the Warforged Leader Cinder 8 was murdered, almost as if by accident, by roaming mercenaries who chanced upon him; the entire Forged Revolution fell apart without his guidance. By now entire countrysides had been cleansed of all humanoid life, and grand Forges built on the crumbling ruins of civilization. They existed for the purpose of building ever-more Warforged soldiers... The Forges ran day and night until they sputtered out, and for some reason yet unknown, now they were all left vacant; the wandering infantile products of the Forges roamed across the land, examining all they saw in their new eyes, looking for purpose in life. Without the clear direction of a strong leader, most of the Warforged eagerly took orders form any passerby, and swiftly became a happy slave caste beneath the stinking toes of all men, even peasants.

Then the plague hit.
Some said it was a weapon released by the Warforged to finish the job of murdering all men, while others said it was a pox from the gods. What was certain, however, is that anyone affected by the sickness became a ravenous zombie, pathetic and insatiable. The plague was very effective in galvanizing people into groups based on various ideologies. Today these groups are all highly influential in politics and everyday life.
• The Humanists are composed of several religious groups with one goal: to exterminate the Warforged slaves and abolish the creation of such abominations. Few in number, their righteous valor and hatred are powered by the gods themselves, in spite of widespread corruption and well-documented abuse.
• The ForgeMasters: a collection of Warforged that seek to reactivate the Forges and annihilate all mankind and gods alike. They are quite organized but lack the means of operating the Forges, for now.
• The People: a conglomerate of disparate folk and ideologies that only share one common ideal, which is that everyone can get along if they choose to. They abhor the use of Warforged as slaves, and are bitterly loathed by the Humanists. They are generally progressive, disorganized, and freedom-loving.
• The governments of Latebrosa and Fallcrest: two states which have been at seemingly-endless war, yet rumor has it that both are being led by the same sinister forces, and that the war is a ploy to control the populace.

Other than the stale war that has been waged between Fallcrest and Latebrosa for the past century, the various kingdoms and duchies that dot the map are respected in name only. Fierce ideological battles erupt in mob violence regardless of borders, and secret meetings are a fact of life in taverns and chapels everywhere. The real question in this cloak-and-dagger puppet show is, who is pulling the strings?

Here's where you come in.
About forty years ago, well before the Forged Revolution was even a dream, the governments of Fallcrest and Latebrosa engaged in an unfriendly competition. Each, controlling several surrounding kingdoms, exercised crippling taxes on their peoples; each with a specific secret objective: the funding of secret experiments that would produce superior soldiers out of regular men. The rhetoric told the public differently: it was made clear in public announcements that the opposing nation was composed of liars, fornicators, and generally unwelcome blights that should be eradicated for the greater good, and it was they who were stealing the kids. Paranoia ran high on the national level, with each nation's name becoming a curse in the mouths of the opposition's citizens, all eager for bloodshed.
   Meanwhile the experiments ran unabated. First, animals started disappearing; then children from all kingdoms disappeared from their beds at night. Families appealed to the authorities, but the half-hearted investigations always ran dry, and no wonder: the children from all kingdoms were being held captive in the same arcane laboratories, experimented upon in some of the most outlandish, ignorant, and sometimes surprisingly effective ways that either side could imagine.
   The first thousand children's souls were sold briskly to devils in exchange for arcane knowledge. Those children were skewered and thrown into pits they had been forced to dig with their own hands, then buried by others, who were then flensed, tortured, injected with alchemical reagents, and rendered down for the needed chemicals that their bodies could provide. Palpable evil permeated the place.
   More kidnappings followed. These children were injected with a "miracle serum", composed of the arcane reagents rendered from the previous batch of children and forced through re-education programs. A handfull of this batch were sleep-deprived until the very entities between the stars could no longer ignore their madness and turned their baleful gazes at the accumulated madness that gathered around the little ones, and those star-sized beings found gateways to the natural world via those young twisted minds. The particular wing of the compound in which those little ones were held suddenly exploded one moon-lit night in a singularity of star-fire, and the children and their heinous overseers were never seen again, and that particular method of torture was discontinued.
   More kidnappings. Hourly exercise was mandatory for all subjects. It was rigorous and excessive: broken limbs and blisters were the least a child would suffer, and violations of the crassest nature pierced the night with howls and begs for mercy that seemed to never come.
   In spite of these horrors, some of the children survived their practices, and fewer still excelled. It appeared that the miracle serum was working, but in unpredictable ways. Some children gained super-human strength, and had to be killed while several overseers held them fast. Others gained mastery of telekinesis and had to be kept blindfolded to prevent them from destroying their cells. The overseers underestimated the intelligence and resourcefulness of these desperate children. Some of those first ones, the older ones, whose souls had been sold for knowledge, had slept in their unmarked dirt graves for months and years. Their fatal wounds were knitted together with patches of diseased flesh, and they clawed their way through the dirt into the smoldering night. Soon it would all be over.
   The overseers had neglected part of their early infernal contracts. In their haste, they didn't bother to read the eighty-eighth section, on page 88 of Document 8, Volume 8 of the contract, which had a comma that was positioned in the most awkward way, which negated the previous seven volumes of contract on behalf of the infernal beings and placed the onus of expense squarely on the shoulders of the overseers. As they were by this time quite delinquent on the remainder of their payments, the time of reckoning had come.
   The compound was assaulted by the blazing fists of the recently un-deceased; and the resurrected, infernal youths cascaded like wildfire through the chambers, freeing some and murdering others. Shackles were shattered, straightjackets were shredded, and blindfolds obliterated. The magically-sealed bars and arcane marks that held the young captives were cast aside, no longer potent after the demise of their casters. However, several more innocent children would die in the flames that consumed much of the place, the flames licking out to claim their adequate price.

   The remainder of the children broke down the barriers of the compound and realized they had no idea where "home" was. The landscape was indeed foreign. They huddled together for warmth in the autumn winds. With none else to turn to, the children banded together. Small grouped and branched off to become robbers, while some older ones took the initiative to guide the rest: they looked down, felt the soil, and took straight to plowing their own fields. They agreed that they had been hurt by the world outside, and would never trust outsiders again. With their new-found powers, they could light their own fires, purify their own water, dig wells, and build crude houses with ease. At first they decided that they would never let anyone hurt them again. The wisest of them, Ideravad, declared that they should go one step further: to make sure that the innocent would never suffer again. The pact was unanimous, and children with too-old eyes swore together to make the world a better place. Today they willingly train themselves and each other, ever striving for excellence in austerity, and venture into foreign lands to punish oppressors everywhere. After some debate, they settled on a name for their group. They call themselves "The Revengers."

In the cities of Fallcrest and Latebrosa, every few years, a strange person will come through, asking questions about missing children, old parents and families; and the government spies that infest the cities will do their best to make that person disappear. Lips stay sealed in these paranoid cities, but whispers in the dark mention other facilities like the one you were tortured in, which have produced diseases and monsters that ravage the land. Now the plague has taken its toll on municipal resources, and crime of every stripe goes unpunished and the innocent are made to suffer. The tyranny and the lies have to come to an end.
   It is up to you, the Revengers, to set the record straight, to reunite with your families, and to save these people from their oppressive governments and the monsters they created.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bad men.

Moral ambiguity did it.

Problems started with the regular crew becoming a revolving door of players, then irregular players, and finally all but one of the original players was gone, and the original premise was generally unknown (while gameplay remained awesome), and consequences, therefore, seemed disconnected or irrelevant. These are all workable.

We had a circumstance in which an encroaching army pressed forward with untenable force, and the team was forced into a position of teamwork or die. One player, taking an opportunity to throw an infinity of monkey-wrenches into the works, threw an infinity of monkey-wrenches into the works.
 - Having obtained what he needed to activate the device (which, ostensibly, would have saved the entire gang), positioned his teleporting amulet squarely into the control panel and disappeared along with the device, leaving his half-dead mates to a brisk and merciless doom.

There was a palpable air of sadness when these new players found their carefully-crafted characters obliterated, and a need for vengeance became immediate. Bad feelings permeated the room, barely held back with the delicious white chocolate cookies the shop owner's dad had made. Two players looked across the table and wondered at the actions of their alleged friend, because the fact is that it is very difficult to distinguish between one's character in a game and one's character in life. Yes, there was some acting involved, but I can assure you that neither of the betrayed gentlemen will be lending the fine traitorous actor any money in the foreseeable future.

I have an arrangement with one of my friends, where, when we play a good game of RISK, we have a gentleman's agreement to never attack the other in their native lands, which utterly infuriates all other players; but why? We have tapped into a principle of strength which is this: integrity. All comers quickly learn that they must overwhelm us and form their own alliances to hope to defeat us, even as we wage cold war across the continents. United we stand. That relationship has traversed the game table and proceeded to form a trust between us that is peculiarly firm.

My message is this: please consider that you are not merely playing in a game. You are also playing with the man across from you, and repercussions will attend your actions. You will be known.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dungeons and Dragons: Advanced tactics, Strategy and Operations

This is Bob.
I'm about to start a new group, and with it come the regular issues that begin a new campaign, especially with new players. Most will try to optimize self-sufficient, front-line assaulters that rely on eliminating the enemy through sheer force. There will be very little cooperation, and probably one guy will be issuing all the orders, which the others will ignore. There will be much blundering into rooms in search of ill-gotten treasures, and I thoroughly anticipate belligerence towards obviously-superior enemies. Most players don't believe I could ever throw anything at them they can't take. I do.

Let's discuss the next step in tactics, which will enable players to take on far superior forces. The next step is cooperation, or planning around your team mates. I'd like to start with an example, followed by more examples.

1. The Half-Orc Rogue and his Never-Hitting Warlord friend: The Half-Orc has a mace, and is optimized for doing damage. The Warlord uses only abilities that allow his allies to strike better and  harder. The result is very often a target that must roll to save against death.

2. The Infernal Warlock and the Sorcerer/Wizard: The Wizard or Sorcerer uses an attack that creates a minimally-damaging zone, such as Storm Pillar (wizard) or Blazing Starfall (sorcerer) within movement range of the warlock. The warlock then attacks a target, using Hellish Rebuke. If it hits, the warlock runs through the prepared, damaging area, forcing Hellish Rebuke's secondary attack to activate.

3. The Warlock and the Wizard, Level 5: Indelible pull! The Wizard uses Visions of Avarice, pulling all enemies towards a central point, doing no damage in and of itself... but his warlock friend has unleashed Hunger of Hadar at the center of the Visions of Avarice, forcing the enemies to return again and again to a painful, dark death.

4. The Avenger and his Defender: The Avenger has maximized himself for resisting opportunity attacks at high speed. After the Fighter is in position at the front, the Avenger runs through his enemies' threatened zones, provoking opportunity attacks. The Fighter ally at the front is equipped with a mordenkrad and the Headman's Chop feat, along with whichever feat lets him knock enemies prone, to maximize on this inverting circumstance.

5. The Shaman Ambush: A party may consist entirely of Shamans and will not only be none the worse for the wear, but will be much more powerful than a normally-balanced group. The fact that shamans can summon their animal allies within 20 squares (cubes, really, meaning vertical positioning is useful as well), in conjunction with the backgrounds that Wizards of The Coast offers, allows your shamans to add to their class skills: most importantly in this circumstance, STEALTH. Equip your shamans with whatever materials and equipment are needed to be stealthy. Add to their stealth first and foremost. Give them the feat that adds +2 to all the defenses of their Spirit Companions. You will always get surprise rounds, and you will minimize damage to your shamans by keeping them hidden. The Spirit Companions do all the work. Consequently, it makes the most sense to use only Panther shamans for such an attack.

5.1. The Shaman Ambush, Amplified: With at least one Panther Shaman and a Shaper Psion, use the psion's Static Mote power to pin enemies while spectral panthers annihilate the enemies. Make sure that your psion takes the Discipline Adept feat, to ensure distancing from himself and the enemy, while focusing on utility powers that grant him a stealthy approach. Take the "Arcane Agent" background for STEALTH as a class skill. This is an incredibly brutal combination that utilizes the doctrine of battle by proxy at its finest.

6. Psions: Such Great Heights: Psions (especially of the Shaper and Telekinetic sorts) are perniciously adept at moving things. The at-will Dimensional Scramble is among the most underutilized powers in the entire game. Simply put, it teleports enemies into the air, and they fall for extra damage. If they manage to save against the teleportation (on a roll of 10 or better) they still fall prone in their space. This is cruel, combined with various feats that frontline men can take to crush prone enemies...
Let's assume an ordinary yet optimum circumstance, in which 3 psions have elected a target to die. The first psion scrambles an enemy (assuming a failed save versus the teleportation) outside of a burst 3 (being a cube of dimensions 3x3x3, has been sagely placed in the air one cube above the target) the target may be teleported up, vertically at an altitude of 4 (the ground being altitude 1, as it must be measured cubically), whereupon he who has held initiative for such a circumstance also engages his Dimensional Scramble, and places the target at altitude 7 (assuming a second failed save), whereupon the third follows suit, placing the target at altitude 10. If a fourth psion is present, and in this scenario we assume that the Discipline of Shaped Consciousness has not been manifested in any way ABOVE the users, limiting the vertical range to a nominal 10 for the powers, the scrambling still may eject the target at an altitude of 12, with 10 being the focus of the burst. Altitude 12 - Altitude 1 (ground) = 11. For every 10 feet (2 cubes) a medium-sized creature falls, it takes +1D10 damage. In a single turn, our decisive attack has netted the psions a staggering 4D6 + cumulative Int modifiers (probably +5 each, so 20?) + 10D10 damage. Minimum damage will be 4+20+10=34 damage, enough to kill many first-level creatures or characters; and a maximum damage of 24+20+100=144 damage, enough to displace brutes of upper-heroic tier proportions...
In one turn.

7. The Cadre of Spell-Slinging Wizards: Magic Missile is a daft thing. It auto-hits. It auto-hits ANYTHING, regardless of level or armor class. Damage resistance is the only way to obviate Magic Missile, and not much ignores force damage. It takes about 50 level-1 wizards, all equipped with Magic Missile and Wizard's Spellfury (or something like that) as a daily power and two rounds to kill Orcus himself, while getting none of themselves killed... under optimal circumstances.

I hope these examples help you consider building your characters as a team. Before you pick that piddly +1 to fire damage feat, think to yourself, "What can I do to let my allies double or triple the overall damage of this round?"
I think you may be surprised. Some feats that sounded like utter crap are actually overpowered in the correct circumstances. Of course, for all the advanced tactics explored here, there are countermeasures. Rarely will you get just the right scenario... but when you do, exploit it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Game-Breaking Experiment:

I've broken Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition with the following build. I call it the "Psionic Bomber".

BUILD: Shaper Psion
Required Level: 2.

+ Static Mote
+ Dimensional Scramble

+ Daily 1: Living Missile
+ Daily Utility: 2: Telekinetic Lift

+ Hedge Wizard's Gloves
+ Bag: in which to place dirt

+ 1: Discipline Adept
+ 2: Vicious Advantage

+ 1: Mordenkainen's Disk.

The basic concept of the bomber is to create a class that maximizes, in a most obscene fashion, the generally unused third dimension of the game. The idea is to drop objects on enemies to devastate them quickly and efficiently. The attack used is not a traditional power, but one house-ruled to accomodate this ballistic approach.
 Dropping items from a height is a simple attack, used by defenders in their towers for centuries. A creative use of arcane and psionic powers makes for a much more mobile, aggressive approach.

Bombing attacks utilize the following power.
"Bombs Away!"

Attack: Intelligence VS Reflex
Target: Any creatures under the boulder, be the boulder medium or large, depending on materials.
Hit: The Target(s) take(s) 1 D10 per 2 squares dropped. (A maximum-altitude boulder will render 15D10 falling damage to a target!)

Miss: the target must move 1 square to get out of the way (not shifting, possibly provoking attacks of opportunity) or takes half damage.

Simple bombing attack:
Using Mage Hand to grasp an unattended rock or other blunt object (a minor action) and lift it up and over to 5 squares (a movement action) then drop said item (a free action) the "Bombs Away!" attack ought to be able to be made, with 2D10 damage possible on flat ground.

Simple group attack:
Prepare by using Static Mote's auto-slowing of adjacent creatures, and utilize the feat Vicious Advantage's benefit of Combat Advantage; cripple your enemies and then hurl them into the air with Dimensional Scramble, causing an additional D10 of falling damage to anyone who fails their save against the teleportation, or will knock them prone if they manage to resist the forced teleportation.

Massive attack:
Use Telekinetic Lift to carry boulders up to 400lbs into the sky; using SHAPED CONSCIOUSNESS up to twice to extend the range of the Telekinetic Lift when needed. Proceed as follows: manifest your Shaped Consciousness, then use that manifestation to manifest Shaped Consciousness again, up into the air both times, for a maximum vertical altitude of 20 squares. Given that Telekinetic Lift's massive altitude is 10, the combined range grants you 30 squares of altitude on this if you are standing flat on the ground. Bombs away!

Multi Massive attack:
As above, and add the Minor Creation's ability to conjure out of thin air two treasure chests that plummet downwards at a rate of 100 squares per turn, which last for 5 minutes each, though I surmise they are destroyed upon impact. That means that when you release your Telekinetic Lift's target, you can add two extra minor-action attacks to the mix.

Ultimate attack:
Place the bag of dirt under the disk, stand on the disk, levitate the dirt using Mage hand, keeping it under your Mordenkainen's Disk to ensure smooth aerial travels. Use Telekinetic Lift to carry boulders up to 400lbs into the sky; using SHAPED CONSCIOUSNESS up to twice to extend the range of the Telekinetic Lift when needed. When you have arrived at the desired altitude, destroy anything. Combine with Minor Creation treasure chest bombs and you can kill anything you hit.

I hope you have found this to be insightful.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Last Game In Town

A Bad Start

May 01, 2011 14:42
There was a knock at the door upstairs, muffled through the walls, and Esteban came down a minute later with an envelope in hand.
“Uh, there’s a letter for you.” He handed it to Drew, who dangled it suspicously.
Drew mused, “I wonder if it’s poisoned?”
Brug, the half-orc with a stick of jerky in his mouth, reached for it. “I’m good at this stuff. Leave it to me to-” but he was cut off by the stocky arm of a rather dwarvish-looking man across the cheap plank table. The envelope was snatched out of Drew’s fingers before Brug could take it, and the stocky man tore it open. “It’s from your cousin.” he spat.
Drew squinted at him. “You’re… that was pretty reckless, Merik.” he said. Merik shrugged indifferently, and spun the paper to Drew, who missed it, and had to pick it off the floor.
Esteban asked, “Well, what, uh, what does it say?”
Drew looked it over carefully before reading it. Brug shook in his chair, and stood up, leaning over the table. “Let me see it!” and reached for it.
Drew held it away. “You can’t read anyway! Knock it off.”
Brug sat down but continued to fidget.
Drew finished reading. “Says we have work if we want it. It’s from my cousin. Says there’s a good ‘harvest’ this year. Must be a pilgrimage, maybe.”
Merik snorted. “Whatever. If it’ll keep my belly full I don’t really care. Let’s do it.”
Drew twirled a twig between his fingers on the table. “Doesn’t add up.”
Esteban said, “Well, if you have work you’d better get out of my mom’s basement. You’ve already cleared out our cupboards, and you know she’s sick. Come on, man.”
Drew pursed his lips. “Right. Let’s get a few coins together here and head South.”
Merik scowled. “We’d have enough coin, scrip and anything else we’d need if you could just keep a lid on your purse.”
“It’s a man-bag, shorty, and just you remember who paid for lunch yesterday.” Drew folded up the letter and shoved it into his tunic.
Merik stood up and slapped both hands on the table. “You paid for it with MY MONEY.”
Drew smirked, “See? You admit it. I paid for it. I did.”
Merik felt his collar becoming hotter and tighter as blood seemed to boil in his veins.
Drew knew he’d have to diffuse the situation. He said, “Fine fine. I’ll pay you back the moment we make some money. Esteban, get us some grub for the road.”
Esteban stammered, “Uh, I don’t uh… don’t have any more food. Like I said.”
A muffled yet grating voice clattered down the stairs. “Are your friends still in there? Tell them I said they have to go!”
Esteban looked pale. Drew sighed, got up, and snorted, “Thanks for everything you’ve done, good buddy. Pal.” and slapped Esteban on the back as he passed him, ascending the stairs to the main floor of the house. Brug was close on Drew’s heels and looked at Esteban apologetically. Merik gritted his teeth and walked up the stairs with his eyes closed, feeling his way up. He managed to close out the world just long enough for the rage to pass.
The moment Drew opened the front door he knew he’d screwed up.
By the porch, which led directly onto the cobblestone street, stood a man in what looked to be a lightweight suit of plated armor, shining even on this overcast afternoon. He smiled, his imperfect teeth marring his otherwise handsome, if bald, face. “Are you Drew?” he asked.
Drew hesitated, “Yes?”
The man bowed deeply. “Then please, allow me to introduce you… to my sword!”
In an instant, a radiant, oversized broadsword appeared in his hands, and he was somehow leaping in the air before Drew could respond. The blade nicked Drew’s leg on the downswing. “Where did you get that?!” Drew demanded. “Brug! Merik! help me out here! Kill this Vecker!”
Brug scrambled out the door, swung over the banister, and swatted the back of the bald man’s head with a blunt object, having taken advantage of the man’s slowed swing. Drew gasped, “Is that a spoon?” Brug ducked the massive broadsword. “I grabbed it from the kitchen!”
The bald man shrieked, “Shut it! Why do you defend this sinner?” and lurched for Drew again. Merik had shuffled out of the house, and walked casually down the front steps to the street, taking up a defensive position with his shield and sword. Seeing the reckless swinging of the man in front of him, who appeared to be some sort of holy man, he saw an opportunity and jabbed forward, cutting into the man’s side. The man shimmered out of vision, and reappeared a few steps away.
“Don’t you know who I am?” howled the holy man.
Drew sneered, “Uh, I slept with your mom? Are you my son?”
“Bahamut damn you!” the man retorted, swung wildly at Drew, and missed entirely, much to Drew’s relief, which lasted half of a second when the man teleported behind him, reached his arm around Drew’s throat, and pulled him across the knee, slamming him into the ground face-first. Drew coughed blood into the dust. Brug twirled the ladle in his hand and slammed it with all the fury a half-orc can muster, knocking the avenger to his knees, breaking the ladle at the handle.
“Damn.” Brug grimaced. The wind was picking up.
Across the street one of the neighbors, an alchemist, came out of his front door nonchalantly, caught notice of the mayhem occurring at the porch across the way, muttered, “Oh, HELL no.” then went back into his narrow, towering apartment, locking the door with a heavy CLICK.
Back across the street, Brug searched through his own pockets and finally found his small mace. The avenger got back to his feet and wedged his sword into Drew’s leg, only to take the flat side of Marik’s own blade across the chin. Brug motioned to Marik frantically, trying to communicate a plan for a quick attack, and leaped as he noticed a sweeping kick dart out from the avenger. Drew mumbled, “Whuuutrrr you waaaiting forrr kill emmm…”
Marik and Brug nodded to each other, and swung down hard, simultaneously, crushing the bleeding avenger to the ground. He croaked out a brief squeal, choked, and stopped moving entirely.
Marik sighed, not so much in relief as in exasperation. Brug tried to help Drew to his feet, and was shoved away rudely by Drew. “Korddammit! How the Vecna am I supposed to do this on my own, huh?”
Brug stammered, “But I was-”
Marik reached out and slapped his face. “A ladle. A LADLE.”
Drew got up to a knee and gasped out, “What were you going to do? SERVE him?”
Brug stopped shaking and started to smile a little as he said, “I think I served him up pretty good.”
Marik and Drew paused in their chiding, noticing that for once Brug had stood up for himself, and started laughing with him, and then all three were laughing. They felt slightly awkward, with that odd feeling that one is being watched. They looked to the window and saw Esteban clutching his hair, as pale as whitewash, mouth agape in horror at what he had just seen.


Brug wasted no time in searching the avenger’s body. Drew wiped the blood off his own cheek, and said, “It’s pretty clear what this fellow was: light armor, angel wings on the collar, massive sword, and a pernicious penchant for killing a man when he’s out with friends…. MINDING HIS OWN BUSINESS!” He shouted, and kicked the face of the corpse in front of him. The lights of the street started to turn on. It was only too lucky for the men that most of the neighbors had gone a few blocks eastwards to the central plaza for a public execution.
Drew, filled with delight and a sick adrenaline rush, kicked the face again. Then again. And again, and again, trying to smash it with his scrawny legs. Marik noted, “Um… We’d better go inside. That alchemist across the street has to have called the authorities by now.”
Drew was positively manic. “What are they going to do? Self-defense, baby! WOO!” and stomped on the head; the skull was finally giving way. Brug felt a sickening feeling in his stomach at the sight of it. “Drew, maybe you’ve had enough.”
“GO INSIDE!” Drew barked at him, then took a suddenly weary look around him, half-smiled, half-winced, and shuffled indoors.
“Get out of my house! What- what did you doooo?!” Esteban howled. “Morons! All of you!”
Drew riposted, “You just called us morons. Let me make this clear: we just killed a dude outside your house, and you think you’re going to talk to us that way? Brug!”
Brug stood to attention, uncertain but ready to smack Esteban with his mace.
Esteban tore at his hair, and psychotically minced aroud his living room. “Idiots! What do you think? Do- do- do you think that b-body is just going to disappear? By the gods! Agh!” He heaved himself around the room, and Marik took one step back cautiously. Esteban shrieked, “I promised, I PROMISED I would never go back. Oh! Okay. Okay. Okay.” he cradled himself.
Drew eyed him.
Esteban looked up, arms crossed. He looked less like the weakling they had pushed around for the past week and seemed oddly… what was it?, Drew tried to figure. Uncertain, he took the initiative. “Look, we’ll cut up the body and shove it down your toilet.”
Esteban stood upright, suddenly, his arm bolting towards the door with a finger pointing, shaking. “Go. Go to the mason and get lime. And… cover up the blood on the porch. Brug, help me bring the body out back. We have pigs that’ll take care of him. Vecna’d illegitimate sons of…” his lip quivered as he shoved his way past the much-shorter Merik, and picked up the body around the torso. “Merik, go get the lime. NOW!”
Merik looked to Drew pleadingly, with a look as if to say “You’re not really going to let him tell me what to do, are you?!”, but Drew was occupied, looking in a dusty mirror on the wall, examining his increasingly-puffed lip. Drew shot a glance of wonder at Esteban, and said to Merik, “Well, you heard the man. Mush!”
Merik buttoned his lip, clenched his fists, and walked out. He didn’t even look at Brug nor Esteban, who were hoisting the body like professionals.

Merik stormed down the street, huffing each half-mumbled curse he could think of to condemn Drew for even permitting Esteban to talk to him like that.
A block down the road he noticed a shadow keeping pace with him. He looked down and to the right, and a pug-nosed dog kept pace with him. Its feet were moving in rapid succession in order to keep up, and it panted, looking up at him. The light was fading from the sky, but the street-lamps kept a decent yellow glow in the increasing fog. The stone buildings on either side of the street echoed with each of Marik’s booted footsteps. Ahead, from the warm glow of an alley, a weasel stepped into the street, holding a nail in its paw. The dog barked at it. The weasel spoke, almost in a high-pitched man’s voice, “Sonofabitch! You screwed my sister!”
The dog barked back, “So did you!” and it bolted right for the weasel. The two fought furiously, immediately, and their scuffle carried them back down the alley. Marik passed it, wondering to himself that there must be a wizard down there. “And now damned talking animals. What’s next?” he grunted. He could feel his hatred for spell-slingers turn his own body temperature up, and his vision was darkening to a cheap, wine-stained red. “Now all that’s missing is a dwarf.”
He hated dwarves. He’d been kicked out of the Fallcrest Military Academy four months ago, after spending a month in the brig, for attacking his dwarven staff sergeant with a shield over the head. The sergeant had simply been asking why Marik was such a short, stocky man, and repeatedly insinuated that a dwarf had cuckolded Marik’s grandfather.
Tonight, the dwarf at the masonry shop was working late. When he opened the door he asked, “Why, you’re rather tall for a dwarf, ain’t ye?” he asked in that ubiquitously Scottish Dwarven accent.
Marik shoved a pouch with a few coins in it in the dwarf’s face. “Lime. Now!”
The dwarf scowled at him. “You’ll be respectin’ yer elders, ya hear?” and trundled off to get a sack of lime. He returned with a massive bag of white dusty lime. “Who was yer mum? I’d like to give her a talkin’-to fer raisin’ a surly pup like yerself.”
Marik barely contained the seething rage. His lips pursed angrily, jaw clenched, and his pupils shrank to pinpoints. He grabbed the sack fiercely and choked out the words, “I. Am. NOT. A. DWARF.”
The little dwarf was taken aback, and Marik strode off in a huff.
“Poor poor lad’s in denial.”
Esteban heard Marik coming up the street before he saw him. “What in the nine hells are you DOING?!” he demanded of Marik. Marik hoarsely croaked, “WHAT!”
Drew poked his head outside. “You know, you’re swearing at a guy who just dismembered a body not-” and Esteban shoved Drew’s face back in the house, cutting him off mid-sentence.
“You’re leaving a trail of lime, you Vecna’d imbecile!” Esteban whispered, at the maximum volume a whisper will allow.
Marik looked behind him, and dropped his eyes for a second, then looked up at Esteban and said, “I need a broom.”
Esteban retorted, “Ohh, like you’re just going to sweep it up for two blocks!?”
Marik paused, then grinned. It was a grin that should have sent shivers down Esteban’s spine, but didn’t. “I have an idea.”
Esteban disappeared for a moment, then returned with a wide, wicker broom. “Get to it.” he hissed.
Marik scooped a sizeable lump of lime from the ripped bag, grabbed the broom, and proceeded forwards to the alley in which he saw the fighting animals disappear. The trail of lime started just a few feet before that on the road. Marik looked up the alley, and reaffirmed the wizard’s signpost on the side of the building on the left side of the alley, from where he stood. He pulled out the pouch and sprinkled a trail of lime generally towards the door, stopping when he ran out, then traced his steps back to the street without disturbing the lime, and swept the trail, what little of it there was, roughly in the same direction. When the authorities investigated, they would find a trail of lime leading back to this hive of spellcasters. “Disgusting vermin. Get what you deserve.” he grunted, and went back to Esteban’s house.


Brug was awakened by a sharp sensation in his foot. He opened an eye and saw every half-orc’s nightmare: an elven Guard. Elves were known for their racism against half-orcs, even more than the usual racist human. The elves insisted that all orcs, even half-orcs, had a bad smell about them, and generally insisted that they could do no good.
The elven guard poked him again with a dull dagger. “Wake up boy! I said wake up! Rise and shine, you lazy bastard!” the elf ordered. He was prim and proper in dress, and twirled his badge around on a string. “Neighbors have reported a disturbance.” He drew the word out long and loudly.
Brug rose up and bowed plaintively. It wouldn’t take much for a ‘civilized’ town like this to gather a mob together for a good old-fashioned lynching. While most Orcs kept to themselves and tended their flocks, the more notorious ones (read: the ones that didn’t want to be run off their ancestral grazing grounds by other races) had become raiders and pillagers in their own right. Even the word “orc” was an Elven swear-word that referred to the demon-lord of undeath. The Orcs called themselves ‘Menintah’ which is to say, ‘The People’. However the case may be, the general opinion of Orcs in Fallcrest didn’t exactly require an altimeter to measure as much as it could, metaphorically speaking, use a shovel to find it under the dung-heap. Brug, being a half-orc, was despised as the illegitimate son of a raped Orc woman, and as his superhuman strength fell well beneath that of other Orcs, he couldn’t find his way in Orc society, which primarily valued strength. Now he found himself at the apparent mercy of something worse than the mockery of other Orcs: he was being picked on by an Elf. He could never let any Orcs find out about this. Where was Drew when he needed him?
“You done it. Now admit it. You done it, ain’t ya boy?” The Elf looked over his dark glasses at the squirming half-orc. Behind him, on the street, a Warforged corporal mechanically stepped, in slow-motion, from point to point, looking through a wooden box that was festooned with an array of lenses that whirred, whirled and clicked. It was examining the lime trail that led to the point. Another one with absolutely vicious weaponry stalked around, its metal head snaking around on a long neck, watching the perimeter. The elf held a riding crop up to Brug’s chin.
“You done it. It’s alright, you can admit it to me. I know your kind.” The Elf said.
Drew looked through the blinds, being careful so as not to be seen. “Ohhhhhhhh ogreshat. Esteban, come here. Come here
“What’s that?” Esteban shouted from the back yard.
“Ssshshshsssshhhhhhhhh!” Drew blasted spittle all over his finger as he held it up to quiet Esteban.
“What?! What you say?!” Esteban shouted while wiping blood and pig feces off of himself.
“Korddammit, Esteban!” Drew snapped.
The Elf deputy looked towards the house when he heard all the shouting. “Looks like you got yesself some friends, I’d wager. Corporal!” He spoke over his shoulder. The one with the nasty blades strobe-stepped forwards. The Elf continued. “Keep an eye on this one.” he said, motioning to Brug.
Drew opened the door quickly. The Deputy reached for his sword instinctively, and Drew said, “What the ogreshat is going on?”
The deputy glared at him, sized up his scrawny frame and smirked. “Now looky here! You care tellin’ me about the body that was dee-posited here last night ’round sundown?”
Drew was nonplussed. He’d dealt with meat-heads like this before.
“What are you doing to my friend here?” Drew insisted.
Brug cowered and scrambled into the house, ducking the deputy’s riding crop and gibbering, “Please don’t hit me, don’t hit me…”
The deputy had to re-evaluate the circumstance. He saw in this skinny young man’s eyes the unmistakable glint of mad genius, the sort where the madness is clear, crystallized, and cold. He licked his right gums, where some teeth were missing. A warm breeze stirred some papers along the street. The sun was out, and the alchemist from across the street was standing in his doorway, arms folded, frowning at Drew.
Drew knew he didn’t have much time. Disposing of the body had taken longer than he’d thought it would, and he thought the alchemist would be smart enough to keep his fat mouth shut. Drew’s mouth might be able to buy him some time.
“I screwed your mom. Vec you, little girl.” he spat at the deputy. It backfired.
The deputy grappled for him, shrieked, “Corporal!” and growled, “You’re under arrest for public misconduct, assaulting an officer, and suspicion of murder!”
The mechanical corporal moved forward and grabbed at Drew with strong metal fingers.
Drew twisted out of his grasp. “You mean I screwed your mom?” he laughed at the deputy.
The Warforged corporal lunged again. It realized it had underestimated the agility of the waif ahead. This time it grabbed one of Drew’s arms near the elbow for better control, and saw the tattoo on Drew’s arm, which marked him as a member of the local military academy. “You ought to know better than to behave in such- OOF!” Drew twisted again and used the momentum of it to shove the Warforged corporal through the wooden bannister of the porch, over the edge and onto the street a few feet below.
“My leg!” it shrieked. Oil was leaking from a gash in its wood.
The deputy hadn’t been waiting. The moment the corporal moved in to accost Drew, the deputy moved in for the kill. Its blade arched through the air and missed Drew, becoming lodged in the door-jamb.
Drew howled back to the house, “Men! Get out here and kill this Vecqer!”
Brug was coming up the stairs with Marik, who was in full armor, ploddingly coming up the stairs. Brug snuck past the wedged blade and got behind the deputy, who was struggling to reclaim his sword from the wood, and Brug smashed the back of his head with his mace. The deputy dropped to the unfinished wood of the porch. Drew half-giggled, and Brug’s eyes widened in amazement at what he’d just done. “Oh, Vecna, I’ve killed a Guard!”
The Warforged corporal in the street rose up, focusing its right eye-lens on the deputy, making sure that the recording imp in his eye could illustrate it quickly and get a good description of the suspects.
Marik stormed out the door and saw the deputy on the ground, then looked at Brug in exasperation, who looked back helplessly. “You killed a Guard?”
The deputy rose up to his elbows. “Not dead yet…”
Marik, in sheer surprise, plunged his blade into the deputy’s spine, severing it, as he leaped from foot to foot. “Oh Kord.” he said when he realized what he’d done.
There were two Warforged on the street, but one was still faithfully recording every grain of lime on the road. The other Stood with its weapons brandished in as aggressive a stance as it could muster. It ordered Marik, “Drop your weapon!”
Marik looked at his blood-stained blade, and back at the Warforged corporal. The alchemist across the street was whirling his hands in the air and making a racket with his mouth.
Drew stood on the porch with his arms raised, palms up above his shoulders, and shrugged. He had the look of a little boy who’d been caught. Marik looked back to the corporal, who was advancing. Marik sighed, and walked down the steps.
DROP YOUR WEAPON” the corporal ordered. Drew said, “Kill it! Turn him into firewood!”
Marik raised as if to slice, feinted, dodging the corporal’s massive, jagged sword, and stabbed his blade straight through the corporal, but to little effect on the intelligent machine. Marik drew back. Brug had sneaked off the porch, trailed around the side, and gotten behind the Warforged corporal with the Recording Imp Box, (or R.I.B. for short) and nonchalantly readied his mace for some serious impact. The corporal with the R.I.B. stood up just then and said to the other one, “I think this trail leads back to the Wizard’s shop. We had better question… Oh.”
It turned around to survey the situation, just in time to see a spiked mace strike it with such force as to remove it from the shoulders. Oil sprayed as the head hit the ground, though the body stood, slightly crouched, motionless. The other corporal shouted, “Drop it! Drop it!” to Marik, then scuttled over to the head of its comrade, picking it up and stashing the head under its arm. The alchemist finished his incantation, and hurled a quavering energy wall into the street exactly adjacent to the Warforged corporal. “Fall back, officer! Come to safety!” he said.
Brug saw the opportunity first, and motioned for Marik to shove the corporal, and Marik obliged.
With a single, potent shove from Marik’s shield, the corporal slid into the energy wall, glowed for a milisecond, and exploded in a shower of cinder and wood, metal and gears. The high-pitched screaming of the recorder-imp in its eye buzzed past Marik’s ear as a chunk of hot metal embedded itself into his unarmored thigh.
Brug clapped. “Not bad!”
Drew snapped his fingers at the alchemist to get his attention, and made kissing motions.
The alchemist’s jaw dropped. He dismissed the energy wall, and slammed his heavy metal door shut. A glowing sheen of energy encompassed his tower. Drew was grinning wildly. Esteban’s voice came from inside the house. “What was it you wanted, Drew? You know my mom’s sick and I had to take care of the last of…”
Esteban stepped onto the porch, saw the shrapnel on the street, the blood and the deputy’s body to his right.
He sat down and cried.
Marik mused, “Time to go!” and started running. Brug and Drew followed suit.

As they ran down the street, they saw the weasel with a dog's skin in its one paw, an iron nail in the other paw. The weasel was drenched in blood. It sneered at them, "Yeah, keep running, ya cowards!"


Drew's attitude went from furtive, fakely casual and falsely wry to stone cold in a second. In the tavern the trio stopped at for supplies, the imp-view expander was running as fast as it could over a the stone mouth in the wall. Voices continued to change as the swiftly-animated, torch-lit panels scrolled from one roller and onto another, behind the wall. Recorder imps were furiously sketching, so fast that their drawings looked to be in real time, although their interpretations were a little... artistic.
It was only lunch time, and the nightly news should have been a long way off, but here, at the last watering hole in Fallcrest, Drew, Brug and Marik found themselves looking at an emergency broadcast of charicatures of their own faces.
The recording continued,
"...Witnesses say the trio murdered a helpless holy man in the street last night, and when police came to investigate, they found a half-orc resting casually on the front porch of this seventh-district neighborhood. He savagely murdered all three of the police as can be seen on this recording..."
The scroll of paper continued to roll, and the recorder imps made a facsimile of a recorder imp, drawing frantically. The effect was very crude, but dashing illustrations of a handsome half-orc graced the screen between slashing blades.
Brug muttered, "But... But I used a mace!"
Drew slapped his hand over Brug's mouth. "That damned recorder imp must have made it back to the precinct. We don't just have to get out of town, boyos. We need to come back and tear it apart, brick by brick. At least the Academy."
Marik looked at him, dumbfounded. "You're and idiot, do you realize this? You've lost it. Hmmm The Adacemy, you say?"
Drew waved his other hand at Marik, brushing off the commentary. One of the patrons at a nearby table looked at the scroll on the wall, then back to the trio, looked like he thought the better of it, and returned to his quart of mead.
The recording continued, "Investigators followed a trail of lime powder back to the laboratory of noted professor Willow Demarqueue, whose assistant Thorn had this to say..." The screen swished to a sketched view of a weasel, who wags a nail menacingly, and says "I ain't no snitch! Smoke you!"..."No further comment was available from Professor Demarqueue's lab. If implicated, it could mean that his race for mayor is compromised. Locals commented..." the screen changed to the animated face of the alchemist from across the street. He spoke, "They broke into my lab, ruining thousands of Marks worth of equipment, and stole multiple items. I'm sure you'll see in your recordings an energy wall that I was experimenting on. They took the scroll for it and murdered at least seven police with it. I saw it myself!"
Drew muttered, "Mother..."
The screen droned on... "Be on the lookout for a tall, athletic half-orc wielding weapons of mass destruction, a thin human and an overweight dwarf."
The handle of Marik's stein shattered in his fist.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The World of Heptagalum

The world of Heptagalum is a massive Terran Planet (Jupiter size)  The surface of the planet is 90% Land and 10% Water. 
Humans appearred on the world a mere 500 years ago.  How they arrived, not even they know. For all of their exploring since arrival, only 5% of the landmass has been charted. 
Four Kingdoms have sprung up. 
Tayrippen - (Roman Empire)
Kasawary - (Japanese Shoguns)
Ith - (Britons)
Ban Un Ta - (Zulu)

These kingdoms have each spread out from each other, as space is seemingly unlimited.  There are other races present, so the land often has inhabitants who do not like the usurpers taking what they will. 

The Ban Un Ta have taken to the East, in the open grass lands.  Here they have encountered resistance from Dog Creatures and Horse Men.  The constant conflict has caused the Ban Un Ta to be guerilla warfare fighters without equal.  The Ban Un Ta follow grazers and live life almost exlusively on the go.  While they are an empire by name, they have no static cities. 

The Kasawary Have gone south, taken up residence on the shores of a large inland sea (Kasa).  Competition for the seas resources abound (from outside and within...)  Fishing and farming are the main occupations, and everyone is a soldier. .  The Gnomes hold fast to an Island Mountain inside the sea. Fishmen and other monstrosities seemingly come in unlimited supply from the depths.  Three large Castle Cities (Hoj, Sako, and Beyo) fortify the north west corner of Kasa. It is here that the Kasawary stand defiant.     

The Ith have gone North.  There they have found allies in the Elven in the forests from the west, and Dwarves from the Mountains to the north.  They are plagued still by raids and war parties of Orcs and Goblins and all forms of monsters that come down from the mountains, or from the earth below.  Battle Hardened and supplied with Dwarven Arms, they hold fast to the Fortresses and Towns they have formed in the Valleys below Worlds End Mountains. 

The Tayrippen have held tight to where they arrived. A small inland lake, with plenty of farm land and forest marks the seat of The Empire.  The least beset by the monstrous races, they had the time to gather massive armies.    They claim to be the original, the superior race.  While they have open trade with other sentient creatures, non humans are rare within the borders.  Seeing the other humans as inferior, they are quick to war over what they view as rightful resources or land.  And the Tayrippen deem anything found as a rightful resources...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Recent Events In the Kingdom of Tayrippen

The Tayrippen have been at war with the Ith for the past 24 months over a set of mines on the southern border of the Ith Empire.  The Ith were supplied by the dwarves and reinforced by the Elves.  All the defense was for naught, as the Tayrippens Phalanxes have taken and secured the mines, and the surrounding area. 

The 3rd son of the King of Tayrippen lead the assault.  After a long and bloody conquest is on his way to return to Rojuan (Capital City) as the victor. 

The great TayRippen Prophet, Jixon Racie has made public a prophecy he has written 6 years ago.  It has been three weeks since it has gone public, and Jixons head now adorns the highest pike it could be stuck on.
Few have heard the prophecy, and repeating it can cause open execution.  Many rumors and myths abound as to what the Prophet said that caused his doom.  All known documents with the prophecy on it have been destroyed.

In one weeks time is the Festival of War.  Despite the name, this is a happy time in the kingdom of Tayrippen.  They all gather at the Altar of Kord in the Center of Rojuan.  Here the High Priest of Kord calls upon the God for blessing.  Every few years an Avatar of Kord will grace the Kingdom and bestow his blessings upon them.  The hopes are high that due to the successful campaign in the north, this will occur!