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Archive for October, 2012

The Cast (Sketch)

October 30, 2012 11 comments

Left to right: Knostril, Crias, Julie, Lachlan, Zasahl, Aladraian

Here’s a very simple depiction of the party. Stuff like shading, colouring and backgrounds might come later if I get the time.

Most of the characters were based on the portraits supplied by the players, while I filled in the blanks. Neither our rogues, nor cleric have portraits so their appearances are made up from whole cloth. So if I’m way off how you pictured your character looking let me know.

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Categories: Behind the Scenes

Session 4: The Duel that Never Happened?

October 28, 2012 9 comments

The session started with Crias making a fumbled attempt to get Zasahl’s shock stick. He was intimidated into submission and spent the rest of the session cowering in a corner.

Fun fact: Intimidate is a straight up roll vs Will, and Zasahl has a godly intimidate bonus!

From there things got a bit strange – Zasahl and Knostril  began to see each other as enemies and began a fight to the death. Both were well armoured and had trouble doing any real damage to one another, and any time that Zasahl was hit he simply healed himself. The two fought through the lobby, wearing each other down slowly, as their battle spilled into the hall. Zasahl retreated into the Faraday memorial room hoping that its enchantments would distract his foe. Unfortunately the room’s effects only render its contents uninteresting, not its occupants, and Knostril found himself free of distraction and utterly focused on Zasahl’s end. Realizing his mistake, Zasahl allowed the psionic effects of the room to free his mind of distraction as well, and the two began beating each other bloody (repeatedly). Before the final blow could be struck, Knostril hesitated, unwilling to gamble what little energy he had left on one last attack.

As he began to make his move, the two found themselves floating in a stellar void, before being returned to the lobby  – apparently the Astrosage had her own agenda with this fight. Thinking no more of it, Knostril charged, only to miss, as he no longer had the focus the Faraday room provided. Zasahl went to burn him with a sacred flame only to find that he had not been fighting Knostril after all – he had just shattered the Psionic Nexus of a Faraday Corps defense construct. The machine had sensed the damaged Arcane battery, and detected intruders, using its psionic abilities to wipe the minds of most of the party, and project hallucinations into the mind of the remaining two. Knostril’s final blow and Zasahl’s holy fire had shattered the source of its power, breaking the illusion and narrowly averting disaster. After salvaging the shards of its nexus and the twin daggers it wielded, the two threw its body into the Arcane fire, and the conflicting magical power sources reacted to slow its spread. With any luck, the party should now have enough time to come up with an escape plan, but they won’t be able to depend on any healing from Zasahl.

Bonus Feat for Zasahl and Knostril: Fire-Forged Friendship

Through their duel, Zasahl and Knostril gained an intuitive understanding of each others’ fighting styles and capabilities. Now when they aid one another, either through a skill check or in combat (through flanking etc), they get a +3 bonus instead of +2.

New Mechanic: Escalation Die

In addition, we’re going to use the Escalation die mechanic from 13th Age in combat – each round of combat with a successful hit increments a d6 by 1. The value on the die (1-6) is added to all attack rolls the party makes. So if the ED is 4 everyone gets +4 to hit. Enemies don’t – it represents the party learning their foes’ weaknesses and being able to better circumvent them.

~~~

That was a fun fight but a lot of people were busy today and couldn’t make it. Would it be more convenient to move the game back a day to Friday (US etc)/Saturday (NZ/Australia)?

So the next session would be 6 days from now instead of a week.

Let me know if you can make it.

Categories: Mechanics, News, Session Log

Setting: The Obsidian Vault

October 24, 2012 3 comments

I mentioned on twitter a while ago I might write another Age of Stars campaign for my friends at home. Whether it pans out or not is yet to be determined, but I thought you guys might find my pitch interesting. It occurs pretty far away from the goings-on on Ferrosa, with different icons to the ones you’ve seen, but there’s some relevant info on Nasca here that you might like.

Categories: Setting

Session 3: The Bellerephon Cascade

October 21, 2012 4 comments

As a note, I’m expecting people to get to level 2 as of next session, provided they escape the burning tower. I’m tracking XP kind of informally and I figure level ups will be at suitably dramatic moments, rather than after an arbitrary point total. If you want I can try formalize the whole thing a bit more, but I think it’ll be more fun to have level ups be defined by something awesome happening instead.

~~~

As our heroes were debating what to do, Aladraian returned with help from the colonists. The Duchess, after initially discovering Yorick, panicking and flinging wild accusations at the group sent a bunch of people to dig out the entrapped druids, while asking the party to investigate the assassination covertly so as not to cause a panic. She, meanwhile would post guards around the shuttle bay and attempt to keep the Assassins from fleeing. Zasahl was able to clear his own name thorugh Yorick’s testimony that the assassin who killed him was female. Unless there’s some really weird alternate universe time travel going on. They decided the best way to do this would be to investigate Kraall’s tower, in case his soul was bound to it, or in case there would be anything suggesting a motive for people to kill him. They noticed the lightning storm had been coalesced into a series of water globes filled with arcing electricity.

On the way, they encountered Ceylon Tuatha, who thanked them for dealing with the Biome problem, agreed to look into the matter of Yorick’s ghost, and took an immediate interest in his possessed friend. Tuatha, being familiar with the history of this place, was able to interpret for the spirit in Kraall’s body who referred to herself as “Glissa of the Caverns”. She informed them that she “lived” within the mountain on which Ferrosa is built, in a subterranean village. He offered to answer the group’s questions as promised, but they instead asked his help in getting by Kraall’s defenses first. He agreed on the condition he could be allowed to continue to question Glissa, which the party agreed to allow. Despite evidence that Tuatha was some kind of Paradox Warlock.

Ceylon opened Kraall’s door by reverting the wood into seedlings, and the party began exploring. Crias came across a fancy walking stick engraved with the eye Seal of Grayson Faraday (Note: The Faraday corps symbol is identical, but with a star, not a galaxy as the eye’s “pupil”). They also broke into a room containing an active starship engine hooked up to an Arcane battery, and a small closet that Kraall had apparently been painting with a substance that resembles space when applied. The paint was wet so Zasahl and Crias began trekking nebulae through the hall. Lachlan meanwhile found a spyglass that seems to clearly show shadows but not people. In the next room, rather than a spiral staricase they found a grand hall, with a series of sliding staircases leading to various doorways set at varying heights along the walls. One was a kitchen (Kraall likes spicy food), while another seemed to be a portal leading to the other side of the room. However, upon being approached by Aladraian, holding the Psionstaff the portal shifted to a room full of Kraall’s Faraday corps memorabilia. The room was protected by an psychic effect that caused individuals with will less than 15 to lose interest in it.

It seemed Kraall had once been Faraday’s personal apprentice, and while he was not a psion (indeed Faraday has no restrictions on those he takes as apprentices) he had worked closely with the Corps. There were several portraits of old campaigns and star maps,  as well as a crystal containing a memory of the day he shot down a craft of escaping convicts, only to find out later that his sister Pyxis was one of them. Pyxis Tyrulian was a pyromancer, who had evidently become estranged from her family and incarcerated.

Moving on, the group managed to access his study, coming across scattered papers suggesting that Kraal was aware of Ceylon’s arcane dealings, and confronted him about them. He had also done some research into the Primordial Seals below the village, and theorised that they could be opened somehow. Perhaps if Glissa had been available she might have been able to offer some insight, especially now that they had a mind reader, but as it stands they’ll have to go back for her. Nonetheless, Aladraian came across a locked journal, which Crias promptly attempted to shock, and the resulting clash of enchantments drained the two effects, bringing the leatherbound volume to life. It has roughly the personality of a spiteful cat, but none of the ability to move.

This explains why natural paradox mages are so rare.

The diary contained an account of Kraall meeting Grayson Faraday, who seemed interested in the Bellerephon Cascade – an obscure nebula with strange and unpredictable properties. He then left his walking stick with Kraall and vanished not long after. At this point, his whereabouts is completely unknown, though the Corps has denied it. As they continued to search through Kraall’s stuff, they began hearing an ever louder hum. Moving downstairs they saw the door locked, the Arcane battery ablaze and the entrance regrown into sturdy, regenerating oak trees that could not be felled despite Knostril’s best efforts. Suspicious Draconic footprints lead from the star closet to the door, meaning the assassins seem to be involved. Their attempts to fell the trees unsuccessful, the party will have to search through Kraall’s abandoned, chaotic tower to hopefully find another exit.

Or be burned alive in arcane fire.

~~~

At this point, the killers could be working for any of the icons except Grayson Faraday, on account of him being missing and that making no sense.

Categories: Session Log

Setting: The Thirteen Seals

October 20, 2012 1 comment

Each Icon in the Age of Stars has their own seal, representing them in some abstract way. These seals are unique to the icon, and are not used by anyone else, except when referring to them. The seals are used by agents of their respective icons to verify that they act with that person’s authority. Often such insignias are used to tag certain areas where the icons’ influence has been exercised as a way to signal other agents. Such marks are typically enchanted by a glamour, allowing only the icon’s allies to see it. Such enchantments can easily be dispelled, but doing so will erase the glyph, and being able to detect an Icon Seal is not the same as being able to read it. That said, some with conflicted or even negative relationships with certain icons have reported being able to detect and read their seals, though it tends to require more effort than otherwise.

Each icon has a corresponding seal, whether chosen by themselves or associated by them by others.

Some Icons choose to use the insignia of their organization as their seal, while others simply use a personal logo. They can be a statement of intent, something the icon believes reflects their personality, or simply a design their followers refer to them by.

What to they all mean?

Ceylon Tuatha chooses to identify himself through his terraforming efforts, the ones that earned him his title. He is immensely proud of it.

The Huntsman’s spiderlike insignia reflects his name and Drow heritage. It is functional, but the Huntsman would prefer to have no identifying marks.

Grayson Faraday encourages others to see the universe as it is, and his icon is about as clear an illustration of his teachings as he could muster. As such, it adorns the uniforms of the Faraday Corps.

Diin Aradesh refuses to use the symbol of Ioun unaltered, though he has had trouble disassociating himself from it due to his station. He insists Ioun’s symbol should be revered, not misattributed to him. As such his symbol is ever so slightly different.

Myddea Luminastra founded the Galactic Order of Astronomy and as such bears it’s symbol. After stepping down as the high priestess of Correllon – a position her preincarnations have held for a millenium – she proved to be an arcane prodigy, earning the right to bear the Star of Correllon once more.

Oona’s many avatars sign her name with a smile. It is customary for her foes to cross her seal’s eyes to prevent her from spying on them.

Shahrukh’s seal came from a political cartoon depicting her holding the fate of the universe within her claws. The webbed wings were meant to compare her unfavorably to Lolth – spider-goddess of the Drow, however she reportedly took a liking to the depiction. That said, she doesn’t breathe fire, she breathes poisonous gas. The cartoonist was reminded of this in the manner befitting a fine steak dinner.

The Blood Emperor’s seal depicts a heart cut in two. Opinions are divided as to whether he uses it literally to refer to his title, or metaphorically to refer to his sensitive, poetic side. OK, so they’re not really divided so much as people like to make fun of him from a very, very safe distance.

The Wild Man’s seal reflects his views on the duality of nature – it’s serenity, contrasted with its ferocity. The fact his ferocity is apparently tearing serenity apart is a connotation he has never explicitly rejected.

The Dwarven Hammer above Briginan Earthroot’s mountains is said by his political rivals to represent the size of his ego. He however would state that it merely refers to the Dwarves rising above their station. With overwhelming force.

Darvill and Amelia represent themselves with the ancestral seal of the house of Whitecliffe, the sun representing a new dawn for humanity.

Quartorzi’s seal is the subject of great debate. The fact she refuses to explain it is only partially owed to her muteness. Most people just settle for crystals=shardmind and leave it at that, but few seriously actually believe that’s all there is to it.

The origin of The Revolutionary’s symbol is unknown. It is used by her followers or supporters to show solidarity, but it is unknown if she ever uses it personally. It is unique in that it is only ever inscribed under glamour, and appears as another icon’s seal to anyone who is not already sympathetic to her cause.

What does this mean in-game?

Spot a seal, an icon had some influence here. You might spot a seal as a result of a successful relationship roll, or simply come across one if you’re in their territory. What it means can vary greatly, but seals are almost always beneficial to those they reveal themselves to. They will show up via detect magic as an indistinct blob splattered onto a surface, but can only be identified through either  successful relationship roll with the icon it represents (positive relationships identify them automatically).

You can also use a seal to identify yourself or others to an icon’s followers, or their enemies.

Categories: Setting

Setting: Ferrosa cross-section

October 16, 2012 2 comments

Area Map of Ferrosa (Session 2)

For those curious, here’s the map of Ferrosa as used in the campaign. It’s not to scale obviously.

The planet Migdol on which Ferrosa is located has an ecosystem of its own, including giant space squids who uproot treebirds from the forest for food, but are otherwise docile.
Because of this, Phillipe is considered the colony mascot, and the druids sometimes feed him from the top level of the biome (the upper dome has openable windows).

As the campaign progresses more of the map will be revealed. There is for example a subterranean cavern system which the party has yet to explore, but are consistently suspicious of.

The design’s a bit different from the original image but that’s because the original is wrong.

Categories: Setting

Session 2: Paradox Space Cowboys

October 14, 2012 7 comments

Curious as to the location of Druid Bob (real name Druid Boboroska Vigni) Julie and Aladraian left to find him, while the others descended into the animal containment area.

Cassie set to work fixing the power, while Crias showed off his Nature knowledge, by identifying several primal markings within the surrounding cages, which would cause them to grow legs, walk up to the Biome and either catch or release their respective inmantes. Said inmates ranged from the mundane (cows, hunting dogs) to the esoteric (Adumla) to the velociraptors (velociraptors). Verifying that the other animals were in no danger of escape, the four uncovered the containment room which included a variety of branch wands designed to imitate the flash and roar of lightning and thunder (4).  They also looted several potions of slowing (6), some tangleroot bags (6) and Druid Bob’s extendable ten foot feeding pole. After shenanigans happened, they successfully caused Cassie to storm off, thus avoiding further annoyance  from those wielding the wands.

Knostril learned that Adumla can consume poisonous substances, but will filter out toxins, remaining edible even under extreme conditions. Yay for Science!

The group encountered Druid Bob on the way up, where he claimed to not have seen Julie or Aladraian, and claimed to have witnessed Ceylon Tuatha performing an Arcane Ritual. Bob, being knowledgable but cowardly (and lovable) suggested that Ceylon might be a Paradox Mage – a rare type of caster who wields multiple power sources simultaneously, making them both powerful, but magically unstable. He explained that he himself was a Paradox Sorcerer, being a druid from a long line of sorcerers, but because Ceylon had no known family history of Arcana, he might be a Paradox Warlock (most paradox mages gain those powers through deals with powerful entities). The party decided that such accusations could wait until they completed the task at hand, and specifically introducing Bob to Yorick. They were able to use the shocksticks to charge Yorick’s ghost and allow him to speak audibly.  The former was disturbed, while the latter was glad to be of more use, hoping that if indeed Tuatha was a warlock, he might have a chance to be raised. The others told him not to get his hopes up, and decided to deal with the Adumla (lizard cows).

They realised the druids trapped in the control room could activate the cages, but with Julie gone they lacked a means to communicate, eventually deciding to send Yorick’s ghost through the wall. This resulted in the three attempting to lure the cages through the non-collapsed rooms using rehydrated berries to entice their primitive sapience. They were successful, resulting in the Adumla being retrieved without a fight. Then Crias had the brilliant idea to zap them with a shockstick, causing them to panic, and collapse one of the cages. Luckily it held, but Bob insisted on confiscating their sticks.

Eager to find clues of the mysterious assassins they came upon Kraall, who was mostly dead, covered in blood and showing signs of having been beaten to death with a morning star. Despite this, he had no visible wounds. Luckily, Zasahl’s healing abilities were able to bring him back from the brink of oblivion, where it was discovered that he spoke only Deep Speech and was thoroughly confused, glancing at the lightning. The group quickly deduced that the Primal magic of Migdol had somehow corrupted the resurrection process, which was confirmed, upon Yorick identifying Kraall as one of the limbless ghosts of those who came before – apparently a very confused woman. It was established that Yorick sees spirits, not bodies and thus was unable to recognize Kraall when asked. This was likely because the planet contains a massive primal heart or similar source of primal energy, which Crias remembered from earlier.

The party ascertained that Kraall’s assailants had either failed at their job, or possibly orchestrated this possession intentionally, and the Spirit itself seemed confused, suggesting it wasn’t responsible for its current situation. They also realized that for the duration of the Solstice Kraall’s ghost might still be contactable in the same way Yorick’s was. They could not figure out the sequence of events leading up to his demise and hence exactly how the possession came about (it was theorized Kraall or someone else might have summoned the lightning that shattered the Biome, which might have caused his possession). Additionally, they were unable to discern why or how Kraall’s  wounds were healed before they found him, only that it made forensic analysis that much more difficult, which could have been a motive in and of itself. It is possible that searching Kraall’s tower may yield some additional information, as might confronting Ceylon Tuatha, assuming assuming he isn’t in some way responsible for all this.

At this point, they have a number of leads (the spirit, the tower, the world builder, the primal heart etc), but no practical way of following them without reuniting with the rest of the party.

Categories: Session Log