Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Tested by the Elements - TLOD S07 E10

As she gasps for breath the catgirl Ai-Nyx is pulled out from under the hulking corpse of the Giant.  

Searching it's huge corpse Wulf finds a two handed sword the giant was using as a table knife and a bag containing some mixed coins.  Our heroes lick their wounds, and press on to the Eagles Eerie.

Are "Enemies" Electric?

By noon they have made good progress trudging through the light snow and howling winds when suddenly the clouds darken and the air becomes still and heavy and.  Lightning tears Argos the sky. And with a flash Tarigoz is hit by a bolt which bounces of his metal breastplate and coalesces into a crackling humanoid figure made of blue jittery light.

Lightning Elemental by Chalmer Relatorre
Laurel is immediately reminded of the bedtime tales her Aeroimm Father used to recite to her about the strange elemental beings which inhabit the clouds.  She recognises this as a lightning elemental of sorts.  A force of nature with no evil intent, just primordial awareness.  She waits to see what it does.

However, Jan the Sell Sword knows nothing of elemental beings and strikes the creature with his magical sword Maraghbur, wounding it.

The elemental flashes across the pass, seemingly attracted to Tarigoz's metal armour, flashes across the pass in an instant.  In a dazzling show of lights, tendrils of electricity arc around the Knight and discharge with raucous barks.  Ssinkar attempts to strike the creature with his wooden staff, Styx strikes with her sword but misses it and Nyx throws a javelin straight through it embedding itself in the cliffside.

Tarigoz bashes the creature with his shield but the creature seems unperturbed.  Wulf strikes at the creature with his newly acquired sword and is rewarded with sparks of crackling blue energy which run up the length of his blade and lick up his arms shocking him.

Laurel grabs the peace stick which hangs from her belt.  A strange foot long smooth black rod which terminates in 3 embedded glass rings which give off a faint glow.  She swings at the creature but misses.

Jan invokes Maraghbur to flame and strikes the creature carving off a chunk of crackling blue energy which dissipates.  The creature retaliates blasting Tarigoz a hundred feet down the pass in a shower of blue flame and sparks. Styx strikes the elemental solidly with her sword and like wulf before her is rewarded with a shocking surge of energy which passes through her body singing her hair.

Undeterred the Barbarian unleashes his primal fury and once again is rewarded with stinging pains throughout his whole body.  Laurel hits the creature with her peace stick and with a bang, the elemental seems to shrink in size.  Laurel's weapon grows strangely warm in her hand.

Once again Jan brings down Marghbur's fiery vengeance down upon the elemental and the creature blast him with energy knocking the sword out of his hands and the mercenary back 60 feet into an unconscious heap.

Styx picks up Maraghbur and the sword assaults her mind with the question "Who the Hell are You?" The Catgirl was not expecting this and is stunned.  The barbarian rages on.  Tarigoz picks himself up and charges headlong at the elemental hitting it squarely with his shield.  Sparks fly off and around him as he pushes the creature back against the cliff.

Laurel snatches Maraghbur from Styx's outstretched hand and hits the creature, her other hand swings around and stabs with the peace stick which once again emits a bang and the elemental is reduced in size.  Styx grabs laurels Peace stick and hits the now child sized elemental with and it dissipates with crackle.  Styx immediately drops the peace stick in the snow as it grows to hot to handle.  A cloud of steam rises up and the snow is quickly reduced to a puddle of water which bubbles vigorously before evaporating.  After a short while it cools and can be picked up again.

Ikkarikka urges them on as the Eagles Eerie is not far.

Giant Bird in Flight by ArtificialGuy on DeviantArt

Entreating with Eagles

A few hours later, as they approach the snow line of the mountain, they are buffetted by winds from above and a giant eagle lands on the ledge above them.  The Eagle speaks to their minds directly asking them

"Who are you and what brings you to Mount Durcas?"

Nyx explains their mission and recants the Arakocara shaman's vision.  The Eagle tells them that the they have seen the dark clouds gathering and it concerns them.  The tower of ice and the frozen lake is known to them.  It is many days travel from here and they agree to take the party there.  However, Ikkarikka must attend the council of Eagles.

More Eagles swoop down from the clouds above and snatch up the heroes in their great talons.  The journey to Mount Ederglow takes a few hours by Eagle and one by one they are deposited on a ledge outside a cave mouth.

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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Get Knotted - TLOD S07 E09

Our Heroes rest the night at Tikka Ti-Jarra whilst the remaining Aarakocara pack their belongings for the journey to the last refuge at Tchichi-Kwaaka. 

As dawn breaks they head off with their new guide Ikkarikka heading for the Eagles Eerie.  They descend the mountain and into the valley and it is not long before they are once again climbing into the mountains and wending their way along the mountain road.

Danger Round Every Bend

As night begins to fall they find a shallow cave in which to shelter from the wind and the snow.  Without firewood they huddle round the flaming sword Maraghbur.  During the second watch Styx's hears gruff voices coming from above them.  Maraghbur's dim flickering affords her keen vision enough light to pierce through the darkness and illuminate the faces of two Giants who have spotted the party from the ledge above.

Awesome Artwork by Einar Martinsen

Returning to the group she wakes them all and describes the interlopers.  Maraghbur is extinguished and in the darkness she listens to the pair hatch a plan to ambush the party as they traverse the pass in the morning. 

Forewarned is forearmed as they say, and the heroes hatch a cunning counter plan.  Laurel, Styx and Nyx scale the 100 feet of steep but not sheer cliff which separates their ledge from that of the giants.  They stealthily approach the now slumbering Giants and tie their bootlaces together before retreating up the pass and around the next bend.

Before dawn Tarigoz leads the other half of the party along the pass around the switchback to within earshot of the still sleeping Giants.  With a battlecry he leads the charge and in a simultaneous pincer movement Laurel and the two Phylus attack from the other side.

Caught Flat Footed

The Giants are quick to their feet but one stumbles and falls, its boots tied together by stout laces the thickness of good rope. Ssinkar recites a blessing as the combat ensues.  Despite having the boon of Kriskar vested upon them both Tarigoz and Wulf's blows are found wanting whilst Jan envokes his firry blade and strikes solidly at the standing Giant who retaliates with his big club catching Wulf a mighty blow to the chest. 

Styx pounces on the fallen Giant and her sister swings at it with her nunchuks to no avail.  Laurel catches it with one swipe of her scimitars slicing the creature a deep wound. 

Whilst Tarigoz's attack is parried away Ssinkar commands the standing Giant to Sleep.  Offering no resistance the Giant is struck by both Wulf and Jan who open new deep wounds in the creatures flesh.

Styx is roughly tossed aside as the second Giant lurches to its feet, Nyx stabs at the creature striking it in a vulnerable spot.  Laurel strikes once again and both blades find their targets opening wicked wounds across the Giant's arms.

Tarigoz lands a blow on his foe who stands as still as a rock under he Salamankari Clerics thrall.  Ssinkar reiterates his command and regains control of the Giant.  Jan plunges his fiery blade deep into the creatures belly.

A Crushing Defeat

Laurel once again deals a serious blow to the other Giant.  Tarigoz finally despatches the enthralled enemy and it tumbles off the ledge and down the mountainside.  Wulf critically injures the second Giant and Tarigoz finishes the job.  The Giant teeters and totters before crumpling to the floor on top of Nyx. 

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Monday, 20 March 2017

Death from Above - TLOD S07 E08

As the heroes caught their breath they could see that fighting had broken out on the amphitheatre ledges surrounding them.

Laurel shot at a flying ape on one of the eastern ledges hitting it squarely in its back, Wulf followed suit with his longbow piercing another's bat like wing.  Ssinkar rushed across the plateau towards Jan who had crashing to the ground like a meteor falling from the sky, landing on one of the ledges where a winged ape commander was overseeing the attack.

Having slaughtered their initial Aarakocaran targets some of the winged apes swooped down to attack the heroes.  Styx was soon engaged and struck at one with her short sword.  With enemies closing in on her Laurel tossed aside her bow and drew her scimitars cutting down her nearest foe with a whirl of her wickedly sharp blades.  Undeterred by losing  his beloved sword, Wulf flicked his dagger out of its sheath flipping it between his hands as he chose his moment to strike, plunging the dagger into the winged ape's chest.  Tcho'eh was set upon by another flying ape which clawed viciously at his scarred skin.  Wulf's opponent was joined by another and both cut deep into the barbarian as they tried to overpower him.

Jan picked himself up only to find himself beset upon by a flying ape commander.  The quick witted mercenary cried "Parr" and shot skywards from the melee like a cork from a bottle. 

Across the field of battle Nyx whirled her three segment nunchuck staff at another winged ape striking it squarely in the shoulder.

With Jan gone, the winged ape commander leapt from the ledge and into melee with Ssinkar clawing at the Salamankari like a vicious beast.

Laurel engaged with a fresh enemy making a solid strike.  With a holy word Ssinkar channeled a prayer of Hold Person on the commander freezing him to the spot.  The creature attacking Tco'eh struck the birdman's beak and recoiled in pain at the shock of his hand hitting the hard keratin.  Wulf's foes continued their assault on the Euborean raining a bevy of battering blows on top of him.  Luck was not on Laurel's side as a strike from her enemy temporarily blinded her.  Fortunately Tarigoz was close at hand and he leapt into the fray slaying the creature with a mighty blow worthy of a bard's tale.

Above the Clouds

The sword Maragbhur pulled Jan screaming skywards, piercing the black cloud layer and emerging into clear bright sunlight.  As he arced gracefully over in a backflip he could clearly see the minarets, turrets and battlements of a small castle floating atop the castle.  Winged apes scuttled around the ramparts and flights of creatures assembled for yet more waves of attack. Just as quickly as he had emerged from the clouds he reentered their dark embrace to return to the fight below.

Armed with one of Styx's short swords and the shield he scavenged from the Northern gatehouse tower at Fanjr, Tcho'eh pressed his attack and with more luck than skill lunged at his opponent lodging the point of his blade in the creatures eye socket.  The top of the creatures head exploded in a mess of blood and brains as the Aarakocaran claimed his first kill.

The Temple of Tikka Ti-Jarra is Lost

A huge explosion rocked the mountain top as a great bolt of lightning cracked from the heavens crushing the top of the temple like a spoon on an egg.  Great chunks of what passed for Aarakocaran masonry rained down on the combatants below.

Blinded but unbroken, Laurel calmly waited for Tarigoz to lead her to the next enemy to be slain.

Blood filled Wulf's eyes as the rage swelled inside him.  Armed only with the small dagger he u
sed to peel fruit he attacked the nearest winged ape who grabbed his wrist turning the blade against Wulf himself and the barbarian felt the blade slowly pierce his flesh.

The tide of battle was turning against the heroes as a winged ape flew in to protect its leader striking Ssinkar on the head and knocking him unconscious.  Nyx's enemy struck her with a battering blow of its clawed fist.  Wulf's rage was fading as one of two apes attacking him struck him across the face whipping his head from right to left, blood and sweat streamed from the barbarian as he fell to the floor vanquished.

A winged ape fresh from killing a family of bird people swooped down upon Tcho'eh and floored him with a single blow.  Tarigoz turned towards the beast and ferociously swung at it with a strike worthy of a hero cutting the abomination in two.

Through clouded eyes Laurel stumbled over to the downed figure of Wulf in a desperate attempt to stop the creatures from attacking her fallen comrade, blindly flailing with her scimitars.

Meanwhile the Flight Leaders eyes could only blink as Jan's flaming sword struck his frozen body.  The sell sword landed clumsily on the ledge a moment later.

Tarigoz ran to Styx's side to defend the plucky cat-girl as she boldly fended of an apes advances.  She chipped away at its grubby grasping clawed hands.  Laurel's sight cleared and she carved a chunk out of the ape who had felled her friend Wulf. 

On the ledge, the effects of Ssinkars prayer waned and the Flight Leader's body sagged as control of his muscles returned.  Jan struck him again in a blaze of fire and sparks.  His attack left an opening for his enemy's subordinate to rain down a flurry of blows which battered the brave sell sword.

Laurel despatched her winged ape opponent and stood over the crumpled barbarian like a mother lion protecting wounded cub.  The embattled Jan struck once more with his scorching sword and once again was rewarded with a howl of pain and anger from the flight leader.

A Horn Blast shook the heavens sounding the retreat for the flying apes and with a flap of their bat like wings they attempted to disengage.

As it leapt into the sky, Tarigoz cut down the creature he and Styx were engaged with.  It's companion, who had been attacking her sister Nyx, managed to get one foot into the air, the other would never leave the ground as Styx severed it from the ape's leg with a swipe of her short sword.  The creature screamed in pain as it clawed its way skywards , the ragged stump spraying a sticky blood trail on all below.  The Flight Leader and its subordinate dove off the edge of the ledge and swooped into the air heading back to the safety of the ominous clouds above as they lazily drifted away from the destruction that they had wrought.

Aftermath and Interrogation

Despite being near to death himself, Jan administered Ssinkar's healing draft to the Salamankari cleric, who swiftly returned to consciousness.  He began to scour the amphitheatre, that had so abruptly been turned into a battlefield, for dying and injured to treat.  Sadly only six male and four female Aarakocara had survived the Cloud Giant's wrath and so he stabilised Tcho'eh's wounds and then said a healing prayer over him.  Life returned to the birdman with a sputter.  Likewise Nyx who was also close to death received a healing prayer from Ssinkar.  Laurel used her healing potion to revive Wulf.

The group helped the Aarakocara in their solemn task of collecting their dead together before turning their attentions to the sole surviving assailant who cowered under shadow of one of the ledges.  The heroes attempted to communicate with the beast who could only retort with guttural animal howls grunts and whoops.  Nyx thought that the creature might be trying to communicate with them but could only converse in his own tongue.  Fortunately Ssinkar remembered that one of the scrolls he recently had acquired contained a prayer which would allow the creature to speak and understand them.  As he read out the prayer the words on the page glowed and faded, crawling up his hand like a snake.  The beast recoiled from the holy power and tried to escape.  Nyx wrestled the creature to the ground and in the scuffle Ssinkar accidentally touched Nyx.

Suddenly the young Phylus could understand the creature and that it was demanding that the group kill it. 

"a Ba'atun without wings was as no Ba'atun at all!" cried the creature.

Nyx questioned the creature and it blurted out that they would all suffer the wrath of his mistress the great magic user Yesork Pahyeh.  No haven was safe and her cloud castle would return and her Cloud Giant plaything would wreak a vengeance upon all before she turned her attention to the ground dwellers.  All would face a fate worse than death.

When the interrogation was over the Ba'atun pleaded once more for death and Jan obliged, clutching the creature around the waist he commanded the sword to lift them into the sky where he promptly dropped the wingless Ba'atun over the edge of the mountain promontory.

After a few hours the Shaman Kirraka emerged from the temple and told the group that he had consumed the seeds which allowed him access to the spirit world and he had had a vision.

The chosen would need to travel to the eerie of the giant eagles who would help them find an ice tower piercing a frozen lake and inside lay a silver sky fish which was critical to the defeat of the cloud giant.  He excused Tcho'eh from this quest and instructed his most trusted underling shaman, Ikarrika, to guide them to the eagle's eerie.

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Sunday, 19 March 2017

Clarke's Third Law... Librarians Style

Clarke's Third Law is a popular trope amongst GMs particularly for those running Sci-Fi games and stems from this famous quote:

Arthur C Clarke
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
You've seen examples of this in the movies include:
  • Star Trek Into Darkens - When Kirk orders the Enterprise to move in order to save Spock, he breaks the prime directive by revealing the ship to the volcano worshipping Nibirans, who immediately begin worshipping the ship.
  • Star Wars - On seeing C3-P0 the primitive Ewoks believe him to be a physical manifestation of their long prophesied deity "The Golden One" and do his bidding.
  • Apocalypse Now - The primitive tribesmen are easily swayed by the imposing god-like Colonel Kurtz, and become followers of his own personal army/religion.
However, in the The Librarians episode "And the Rule of Three",  writers Paul Guyot and John Rogers  flipped the trope around, making a magic spell indistinguishable from a mobile phone app.

The central premise of the episode was that each time you played a wishing game on your phone you actually cast a wish fulfillment spell and were rewarded by things happening in the real world.  This instant gratification becomes addictive, just like Candy Crush or Angry Birds. 

A Conceptual U-Turn

This conceptual U-Turn opens up all sorts magical and supernatural possibilities for modern day games like Cthulhu Now, Shadowrun and The Laundry RPG which take place in our current technology obsessed world.  Even though we use these devices every day, very few of us really know how they operate, ie: at the machine code level, for all I know 4G might just be the fourth gate to Hell.  Is it a coincidence that the Steve Jobs chose "Apple" as the name for his company?

We put a lot of trust in our tech, we don't really want to know how it works, just that it does.  We are okay with that, our devices enrich our lives and make things easier (mostly). 

Our global IT Networks are central nervous system connecting us all together through our devices, much like the Ley Lines of myth, through nexus sites like Stone Henge.  Why wouldn't modern mages piggyback this global telecoms network in some way, harvesting energy from the unsuspecting masses, or feeding energy into it or even just piggybacking on the signal.

Arthur C Clarke - The Father of Global Telecomunications

Arthur C Clarke died on this day in 2008 at the ripe old age of 90.  Coincidentaly, Arthur C Clarke is most famous for inventing the concept of the geostationary orbit used by telecomunications satellites and underpins the whole shebang.  Is it a coincidence...

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Fight and Flight - TLOD S07 E07

Our heroes escape the mountain fortress that is Fanjr Way-Station leaving the ramshackle occupying force to fruitlessly search for them.

Hurrying along the pass, as they turn a corner, Ssinkhar spies the silhouette of a lone figure standing in the road.  As he Points and gesticulates to his friends the figure darts behind a large boulder.  The cat girls Nyx and Styx immediately spring into action and bound into the shadows of the mountainside and stalk their new prey.

The Madman on the Mountain

As they pounce upon the boulder they briefly see a wild eyed human male dressed in shabby furs  crouching behind it.  Startled by the sudden appearance of the two Phylus the man suddenly shrieks and disappears with a pop.

The rest of the party are immediately aware that someone is behind them, turning they briefly see the same shabby man clutching at an amulet with both hands.  With a pop he disappears, reappearing some 100 ft further along the pass.  Tarigoz boldy walks forward to engage the man in conversation but when he gets close to the fellow he once again vanishes to only reappear a second later in between the Knight and the rest of the party.  The two cat girls get ready to pounce and the man blinks out of existence reappearing next to Ssinkar.  With alacrity the Cleric strikes the man on the head with his staff and stuns him.

When he comes to, he gives a madness filled rambling speech about white winged demons  descending from black clouds.  He struggles to his feet and as prances too and fro on the narrow pass, mimicking the demons in flight, swooping down on their targets with claws .

"All dead, they're all dead now" he cries before launching himself over the edge of the cliff.

The heroes continue along the pass until they find a shallow cave, little more than a depression in which they can see out the approaching night.

Pairs of Watches are set and on the third, Laurel notices that they are being watched by a pair of eyes.  Eventually the form of a mountain lion looms out of the night unaware that Laurel's natural night vision, the half elf knocks an arrow and shoots the cat in the side.  It whelps and runs off.

A Mountain Lion

In the morning, the snow which had fallen through the night had banked in drifts along the pass.  The hungry heroes trudged on.  Nyx caught a whiff of blood on the air and it was not long before they saw a solitary familiar arrow poking out of the snow.  Scraping the snow away they discovered the corpse of the mountain lion Laurel had shot the night before.  They butchered the animal and continued further down the pass until they found enough vegetation in order to build a small fire to cook the meat.

Stomach's filled as best they could they set off down pass into the valley until they came to a fork in the road.  A rudimentary sign points East towards the town of Melmond.  They briefly contemplatea visit to the outpost town to gather supplies but Jan reminds them of the urgency of their mission.
The path to the left took them further into the mountains until they came to a steep sided gully between two towering cliff faces.

Deadly Whirlwinds

As they traversed the gully suddenly the wind picked up unnaturally and in front of them a spinning whirlwind appeared from nowhere and rushed towards them.  Tcoh'eh, who was guiding the party from the front, leaps to the left pressing himself flat against the rocks.  All but Jan followed suit and the sell sword was picked up by the tornado and flung violently up the gully to land in a crumbled heap of broken bones.

Just as they recovered another even larger whirlwind came barrelling down the gully and Tcoh'eh flung himself to the right side of the gully and grabbed onto the cliff.   The heroes followed suit but Styx and Wulf were tossed by the hurricane force winds and bashed against the unforgiving walls of the gully.  As Ssinkar healed Jan and Wulf, Nyx administered her potion of healing to Styx.

From the maelstrom descended at least a dozen or more Aarakocara, two of whom swooped down to pick up a protesting Tcoh'eh whilst the others hovered brandishing long ropes and sharp spears.

A few seconds later they began their attack swooping low over the rag tag band of adventurers.  A shrill shriek pierced the winds and one by one the heroes were lassoed and carried off into the clouds.

The Temple of Tikka Ti-Jarra

The heroes were deposited in what looked like a natural amphitheatre.  A bowl like cluster of rocky outcroppings which served as terraces for the many Aarakocara who looked on with an equal mix of apprehension and hope.

They were then led into a large egg shaped lattice structure from which lights sparkled and danced and presented to the Shaman of the nest, Kirrikaraka.  The Shaman told them that his species were being systematically hunted down and their nests destroyed by a cloud giant with the assistance of some white winged creatures.  He explained that they were poor by land dweller standards but they offered what little they had, presenting some jewels and a few potions.

At that moment the bell suspended in the roof of the nest begins to ring and Aarakocara warriors shrieked

"The cloud giant approaches"

Rushing outside they immediately spotted that the skies were dominated by boiling black clouds.  Suddenly several groups of winged creatures began to descend towards the amphitheatre and attack the Aarakocara who perched on the ledges.  As the group neared the centre of the amphitheatre they were suddenly surrounded by one of these flights of winged creatures which resembled white baboons with great wings.

Flying Ape miniature from Footsore Miniatures

Great White Flying Apes 

Laurel lets fly an arrow, grazing one of the white whinged apes.  Sinkar casts a hold person prayer on another.  Tarigoz strikes one with his sword dealing serious damage at the same time Laurel switched to her scimitars dealing two light wounds to a second.

Jan, who had singled out one of the leaders, used his flaming sword to good effect.  With a mighty swing Wulf eviscerated his opponent and it crashed to the floor in a pool of blood and entrails.

Laurel struck twice again at her enemy killing it.  Plucky Nyx, managed a lucky strike on what was clearly some sort of commander knocking him prone.  Jan continued to hack away with his flaming sword and was soon joined by Wulf.  Ssinkar swung his staff at a third flying ape, knocking him unconscious.  Wulf's foe retaliated and drew the barbarian's blood.

Tarigoz finished off his protagonist whilst Laurel chose another target and struck twice more.  Jan continued to press hiss attack, his flaming sword biting down on fur and feathers.  Ssinkar's prayer wore off and he returned to finish off the creature.

To prevent the unconscious creature from escaping Tarigoz chopped off its wings.  Laurel struck her foe twice again killing it.  as Wulf attacked his foe parried and with a crash of metal, Wulf's blade shattered.  Ssinkar pressed his attack onto the lead creature.  Sensing that the fight was lost the creatures fled.  Jan struck his fleeing enemy in the back killing it.  Nyx managed to graze the fleeing commander with her nunchucks as it peeled away.

Jan does not look at all like Jet-Li with his flying flaming sword

In his mind the sword Maragbhur said " after him son, Paar, Paar" the sell sword echoed the word and with a whoosh the sword pulled him off the ground into the air.  Unaccustomed to flight Jan gripped the sword for his life and a brief dogfight ensued.

The commander of the flying apes prevailed, striking Jan to the ground.    

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