Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Hourglass of the Silver Sands: Session 4


Zenith Joanna as Mara, Travelling Monk
Jon C as Spectre, Sorcerer Supreme
Bill as Isandlwana, Travelling Matchmaker

Game Mastered by Krzyś

Release Date:

As the diplomat of the group, Isandlwana took over talking to the major. Without releasing his bonds, she moved the chair he was on outside and leaned it over his blazing house. The distance between him and the fire changed according to the usefulness of his answers. The sight of Mara with her bow drawn up on the rooftop scared off anyone who wasn't killed or captured yet.

The (ex)mayor of Daiyu told the Eclipse of the horrifying ease with which the Wind-Cutting Whirlwind slaughtered the people of Maret. He told her that he was the True Prince of the Earth, a title currently used by the Dragon-Blooded who usurped it from the Solars many centuries ago. However, this man was no Terrestrial Exalt. The mayor revealed that like the townsfolk of Daiyu, he served Cecelyne.

Spectre's knowledge of demonology proved useful here. Cecelyne was also known as the Endless Desert, sister to Malfeas, the King of Yozis. The Yozis were the beaten and imprisoned Primordials that the Chosen of the Gods fought at the Dawn of Time. Yet he has never heard of the Yozis to create Chosen of their own for this power lied only within the Highest Gods.

The (ex)mayor said the Whirlwind always walked with his face covered and spoke very little. Similarly to Spectre, he carried a scimitar with him. Apparently, the massacre at Maret was part of a ritual to summon Bahamut, a demon closely tied to Cecelyne. A little singeing later he said he heard he was heading to the Temple of Zun and swore this was all he knew. Taking pity on the man, Isandlwana dragged him to safety. Unfortunately, neither of the Exalts knew anything about Zun or its custodians nor did they knew what happened to the mysterious Exalt that helped them fight the demons.

When they told Mara what they found they were surprised to learn she was actually from Zun. She grew up in the temple and knew its history. It was once an ancient fortress built at the top of an artificial mountain placed thousands of miles away into the Southern desert. As expected, the monks therein practised meditation and martial arts but also made it their duty to store dangerous artifacts left from the glory days of the First Age. Mara was very displeased knowing the people she considered family would face imminent danger while the other two Solars were worried what Whirlwind would get his hands on if he were to successfully attack the temple.

Velvet Fist, who until now was fighting on the other side of town, felt there was no time to waste. She jumped onto her horse and went off into the sunset!

The more composed Spectre drew a pentagram on the sand. He took a trinket giving to Mara by her mentor and proceeded to call out his name and chanting the Dirge of Shadows. After he said it 55 times and the moon finally set, he threw his knife into the centre of the pentagram thus pinning down the shadow of Mara's mentor. She told the shadow of the danger to the temple. The shadow was released from its binding and it flew back to its owner who may now have a very unsettling nightmare warning him of a demon attack.

Meanwhile, Isandlwana went from door to door, kicking each one open and giving the people a piece of her mind. She tore down any blasphemous icons, carvings and anything else that was even remotely connected to the Yozis and ground them under her heel while wagging her finger at the occupants. She lectured them on the wickedness and folly of bowing down to demons, particularly those that take the shape of vermin. She reminded them that their ancestors must be ashamed of them. Her condemnations were usually very effective in inflicting taboos but she wasn't sure if the Unconquered Sun's blessing was strong enough in this case.

The ritual was hard enough that after all was done, Spectre turned to his fellow Solars and said:
"Now I must rest," he crossed his arms in front of his chest and his body fell down. His bodyguard was quick enough to catch him before his back touched the desert sand.

The Solars went to bed at dawn to rest before the ardours labours of the next day. When they arose from their slumber, Spectre asked how far away was the temple of Zun, to which Mara replied it is located on the top of an enormous artificial mountain in the far South, very close to the border dividing Creation from the powers of chaos.

"It will take us a day to reach the temple," Spectre calmly said.
"It took me THREE MONTHS," Mara was simply astonished.

The Twilight summoned forth a chariot made out of a shard of the sky, pulled by steam-breathing steeds of pure white and manes of sunlight. They had to wait until Isandlwana finished her business. She was in the process of picking a new mayor for the town and making him swear an oath to uphold the law and to have no traffic with demons. Her anima burst into life, forming Old Realm runes sanctifying the oath in the eyes of Heaven. Fate itself would strike against oathbreakers. Although it was a strong measure, she felt it was a necessary step in ensuring the safety of Daiyu.

With the ceremony finished, Spectre, his bodyguard, Isandlwana and Mara climbed on board the chariot and the horses galloped across the square and up into the sky. The speed with which they raced through the heavens was four or five times as fast as the quickest horse on land. Between Spectre driving and Mara navigating, they reaches the temple in time for the sun to set. Interestingly enough, it wasn't hard to find a place of land at the temple. It had stone blocks in a square pattern near the centre of the temple grounds that was ideal for landing from high above. Fortunately, they did not met with any resistance from the monks who could have fired First Age weaponry that could decimate cities at them.

They were greeted by the monks, among them Mara's master. Spectre was quite surprised that her master seemed very stoic today. In his experience, the targets of last night’s ritual were left with disturbing dreams throughout the night. It is then that they noticed Mara’s master has an earthy scent about him. In fact, nearly all of the monks had a hint of one element or another about them. Spectre and Isandlwana were worried for a moment that Mara might not have told them everything about the temple. Introducing Solar Exalted to a group of highly religious and martially formidable Terrestrials may have been something they’d rather avoid.

Ignoring their concerns in face of Mara’s utter trust, they began to research the literature on Cecelyne and Bahamut. They found a passage in one of the demonology tomes about Bahamut. The demon had the shape of a giant fish and he is the foundation on which Cecelyne, the endless desert, lays. The Exalts minds gave them a glimpse into the past, to the times when they fought the Primordials for control over Creation. Cecelyne, the sister of Malfeas, was the Principle of Order. After the war she was imprisoned in the body of her brother that became the Yozi's prison. Her defeat caused her to bow to the Solar for they were strong thus she now enforces order through power, rewarding those with the strength to force their will onto others.

Meanwhile, Spectre was on the lookout for any potential traits beyond the temple walls. It is when the two women came back that the Copper Spider noticed someone crossing the desert. It was a lone woman, seemingly unarmed but he could not make out much else other than the rich and worn down clothing before she collapsed, most likely due to heatstroke. Mara and Isandlwana descended down as quickly as possible. Mara tended to her before moving her back to the temple while Isandlwana stood guard. They remained vigilant in case this was some clever trap set up by the Wind-Cutting Whirlwind.

Bonus Material: Storyteller's Commentary

This session had some of my favourite moments. Isandlwana wagging her finger at the Yozi cultists and giving them a lecture, Spectre literally falling asleep and the reaction on Mara's face when she heard how long her journey back would take.

This session also explains what Velvet Fist was doing. Taking into account she was a Dawn, I decided she took on half of the town on her won... and then rode off into the sunset, in a very western way, because the player disappeared off the face of the Earth.

Another missing player was Whisper. A similar strategy was implemented here. He is a Night Caste so he simply didn't want to be found by the rest. They are the super-sneaky Solars.

Other than that, this session had a lot of exposition. I hope I managed to write up what's going on without confusing anyone who doesn't know the setting. I was quite happy to get the opportunity to add the Temple of Zun to the story, which is Joanna's creation. I love introducing player created elements into the plot only to let the player who created them describe them to the rest. I think it adds a certain realistic feel to the game.

I should probably give a little bit of info on the different titles the Solar Castes have. I am fond of using synonyms for them so here it goes:

Dawn - Ascending Sun, Child of the Dawn, Lightbringer, Bronze Tiger, Sword of Heaven, The Forsaken (derogatory)
Zenith Zenith - Resplendent Sun, Pillar of the Sun, Solar Thunder, Golden Bull, Hammer of Heaven, The Blasphemous (derogatory)
Twilight  -Descending Sun, Child of Twilight, Solar Lightning, Copper Spider, Arrow of Heaven, The Unclean (derogatory)
Night - Hidden Sun, Concealing Shadow, Nightbringer, Iron Wolf, Dagger of Heaven, The Wretched (derogatory)
Eclipse - Crowned Sun, Harmonious Voice, Solar Wind, Quicksilver Falcon, Quill of Heaven, The Deceiver (derogatory)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Fight On! #9

(Full disclosure, as well as providing some artwork for this issue, I've also submitted an article; I've written up this scenario, converted to the X-Plorers rpg, because it's more old-school than Rogue Trader is. That's only a tiny part of the magazine though, so there's something for everyone!)

When you're down to your last hit point, your last spell, the last charge on your laser pistol - what now? Fight On! Issue #9 is here, stampeding out of the gate with adventures big and small, a city-state, races, classes, monsters, spells, tricks, traps, tables, rules options, random encounters, NPCs, and a motherlode of mighty miscellaneous mysteries to give your game a boost! Dedicated to Paul Jaquays, this issue features contributions from Jeff Rients, Sang Lee, Tavis Allison, Kelvin Green, Geoffrey McKinney, Patrick Farley, Zak S., Erik Battle, James Quigley, Mark Allen, Jennifer Weigel, Gabor Lux, Peter Schmidt Jensen, Ed Heil, Paul Fini, Raven Daegmorgan, Eric Minton, Allen Varney, Baz Blatt, Geoffrey O. Dale, Jerry Stratton, Chris Robert, Calithena, Jeff Talanian, and many, many more!

Don't get caught without the old school's newest resources - check it out at ! From now until the end of June, Issue #9 will be available at a discount price of just $9!

But that's not all - our entire back inventory is on sale as well! Fill out your collection or pick up that special article you've been wondering about, at rock-bottom prices:

Issue 1 is $6.50, down from $6.99.
Issues 2, 5, 7, and 8 are $8.50, down from $9.99
Issues 3, 4, and 6 are $9.50, down from $9.99

Finally, and ONLY for this month, our unique June 2010 editions of the two Fight On! compendia are available in hardback. $40 apiece, each of these covers a full year of Fight On! (issues 1-4 and 5-8) under a single cover. Unique collector's items clocking in at around 400 pages each, these are great buys for those who prefer the format, wish to start from the beginning, or just want to have a cool and unique thing that nobody else does. You can see them here:

The sale only lasts until June 30, so pick 'em up while you can! The TOC for issue 9 is as follows:

Top of the Class (various)…………….…………………3
Bird-Men of Hyperborea (Jeffrey P. Talanian)………...…8
Knights & Knaves (SilverFish)…………………………..9
Spellslingers for Hire (James A. Smith)…………………11
The City-State of Khosura, Part I (Gabor Lux)....………12
Inter-Session Events (J.E. Badelaire)……………….…..24
Purchasing Potions (Eric Minton)……………………...25
The Hobgoblin God’s Crown (James Quigley)…………27
In My World… (Calithena)…………………………….40
Den of Villainy (Antii Hulkonnen)……………………..43
Education of a Magic User (Douglas Cox)……………...44
GBH (Peter Schmidt Jensen)…………………………...45
The Singing Cave (Mark J. Allen)………………………46
The Contemptible Cube of Quazar (Johnson & Lynk)…47
New Jersey After The “Big Whoops” (Adam Thornton).48
Creepies & Crawlies (Zak S.)…………………………...49
Ten Dooms of the Icy Wastes (Chris Robert)………….52
The Yellow Forest (Jerry Stratton)……………………...58
Tables for Fables (Age of Fable)……………………….63
Post-Apocalyptic Crafting (Lawson Reilly)……………..64
Dungeon Modules: Riverwalk (Geoffrey O. Dale)……...65
Two Tribes (Kelvin Green)…………………………….69
The Temple of Thek (Baz Blatt)………………………..73
Random’s Assortment (Random, Jensen, and Ant)……..77
Caves of the Beast Mistress (Tavis Allison)…………….79
Interview w/ Paul Jaquays (Ciro Sacco & Allen Varney)..90
The Darkness Beneath (Jeff Rients)……………………96
Merlyn’s Mystical Mirror (McKinney & Pookie)………104
The End of the World (Del Beaudry)…………………109
Witches of N’Kai (Caleb Jensen)……………………...113
Grognard’s Grimoire (Eric Minton)…………………...114
Artifacts, Adjuncts, & Oddments (Reed & Barber)……115
Front Cover by Raven Daegmorgan. Back cover by Mark Allen. Fight On! logo by Jeff Rients. Interior art by Paul Fini (3), Black Blade Publishing (black-blade-publishing. com: 5,35), Troll and Toad ( 6), Ian Baggley (8), Ed Heil (9,65), Peter Schmidt Jensen (10,33,45,103), Bronze Age Miniatuers (, 11), Gabor Lux (12,13,15,17,19), Jennifer Weigel (25,26), Mark Allen (, 27,32,37,46,49,50,51), Alex Schröder (27,29,66), Robert S. Conley ( 31,96), Steve Robertson (36), James Quigley (37), Erik C. Battle (38,41,68,75,97,101), Stefan Poag (39), Antii Hulkonnen (43), Douglas Cox (44), Jimm Johnson & Jeff Lynk (47), Adam Thornton (48), Zak S. (51), Patrick Farley (53), Kesher (55), Geoffrey McKinney (56), DEI Games ( 57), Kelvin Green (59,70,71,72,102), Wikimedia Commons (60), William Buckland (62), Steve aka Bat (62), Age of Fable (63), Lawson Reilly (64,65), Spellbook Games ( 67), Anthony Stiller (77, 78), Tavis & Javi Allison (81), Sang Lee (82,83,84,85), Sean Elliott (89), Otherworld Miniatures ( uk: 91), Jeff Rients (99), Kevin Mayle (100), Rjad (104), Christopher Cale & Co. (107), (108), William Miller (111), Robert D. Reed (115), Lee Barber (116, Knights & Knaves logo, Creepies & Crawlies logo).

Fight on!

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Scabbard and the Sword: Session 3


Bill as Brutus "Sten" Stentor, Lithium's Sound Technician

Jack as Joseph, the Hobo-Rat

Lisa as Five (now known as Two), Creepy Death Obsessed Darkling

Game Mastered by Krzyś

Release Date: 12th June 2010

About halfway to the Freehold's main Hollow, Lithium got a call from her agent reminding her of the upcoming gig. She had to go back to her place and make sure she's ready for it or else her contract would be in ruins. Thus only three changelings arrived at the Hollow to meet with the Winter Queen.

They found Ninian in the throne room playing chess. Sten approached her and began a lengthy monologue on what happened and what they found out. While he was giving the speech, with appropriate sound effects, the Queen motioned him to sit down on the other side of the chessboard.

"Your turn," she placed a pawn two spaces forward after Sten reached the point of the story that was a few minutes behind the present. Never having played this game before, Sten moved the pawn the Queen had placed back to its starting position.

"So you found the Privateers' hiding place," she contemplated Sten's move, trying to decipher his strategy. "Can I see the stew?"
"No!" Two tried to protect her own with her body. The Queen flicked her wrist in the air and the stew began to float through the air over to her. Two quickly slurped it all in, visibly annoying the Queen.
"Have you told this to anyone else?" she turned back to Sten.
"No," he mirrored the Queen's move after she move a bishop closer to the centre of the board.
"I would like to ask you not to tell about this to anyone else," she said after looking at his and Joseph's Mantles.
Joseph and Two agreed nearly straight away. Sten on the other hand hesitated.
"What will we do now?" he asked.
"The best thing we can do at this point... Hide," she nodded to her own words.
The changelings were dismissed.

Although Sten did mention that the Ogre was expecting his buddies to arrive with a new changeling during the witching hour, the Winter Queen didn't like their idea of trying to go and save a lost cause. Since they were told to hide, they decided the best place to hide was next to that cottage that they found in the Hedge.

On their way there, they stopped at the train station to gather some Glamour. Joseph stepped in the way of an office worker who was trying to catch a train. He tried to sell him the Big Issue and didn't take no as an answer. Even when the man took the magazine out of his hands and threw it on the ground, he simply picked it up and asked if he wants to buy it. Meanwhile Two was talking to a mother with a child, getting dangerously close to her baby and talking to it in a very creepy way. Unfortunately, this reminded her of how she was taken to Arcadia as a young child. The Darkling lost her mind, she fell to the ground shouting and screaming. Sten was pacing back and forth, trying to decide what to do when the Railway Police started to walk towards them. Joseph made a quick escape.

The police helped Two get up and escorted her and Sten out of the premises. They offered to call the ambulance but Two was regaining her hold on sanity. They went to the alley with the Trod. Joseph jumped out of the sewers and the three were back together before they entered the Hedge.

This time they stayed on the path. Luckily, Two noticed a string going over the Trod before either had a chance to fall into the trap. She put her arm over it so the other two changelings had no problems going over without triggering it.

When they finally reached the cottage, Joseph climbed a tree, Sten hid behind it while Two went off to have a peek inside. She saw the stew cooking above a blue flame, the Ogre they met having a nap and a couple of big bags. When she told them what she saw, they waited for the rest to arrive. Somewhere after the witching hour, they saw four changelings coming this way somewhere from the opposite way than the one they came. There was a man made out of ice, with a frozen nose and a colourful T-shirt with palm trees all over it, an Arctic fox and two chain-mail wearing Wizened with swords hanging from their belts.

After they entered the cottage, Two went off to take another look inside. She heard the Elemental shouting at the Ogre and saying something about the Goblin Market and a scabbard before she was noticed. As quickly as possible, she ran off and climbed a tree. The changelings went after her but didn't see where she went. Two felt safe until she noticed the Beast sniffing the ground. She tried to get her jacket off and threw it away as a distraction, but due to her frail body, she fell face down on the ground.

Seeing the events taking a turn for the worse. Sten charged in with a battle cry that he quickly wrapped around himself while Joseph started to jump from tree to tree. He made it in time to fall onto the head of the Ogre before he crushed Two under his fists. While Joseph was ripping the Ogre's face out of him and fending off another Beast, Sten engaged in single combat with the other Elemental who was now wrapped in cold and ice. Unable to grab a hold of the rat, the fox started to bite Two.

As the battle progressed, Two was slashed from behind while Sten heard a swooping sound of metal and the clanking of armour before he weaved out of the way. The two Wizened stepped out of their hiding places with their swords drawn.

The Ogre didn't took long before he fell down, barely managing to break any of Joseph's bones. The rat jumped off, with the Ogre's eye in hand and took the Wizened off Two's shoulder. He put his fist into the changeling's mouth, letting him have a taste of the Ogre's eye.

Sten momentarily took his attention off the two changelings he was facing and threw a shout at the fox's ears. This gave Two an excellent opportunity to first stab him in the eyes, then seize his muzzle so he bit his own tongue and finally biting his nose off.

It's only when they realised the battle between the Elementals ended with Sten being turned into a block of ice and shattering into a million pieces that they were overwhelmed. Two started to run, she shouted for Joseph to follow but he was too far gone into rage to take note of anything other than the next kill. The ice changelings closed down on him.

Bonus Material: Storyteller's Commentary

Stella and Daisy couldn't make it to this session. They said something about real life but I didn't quite understood what they meant. We at first thought we wouldn't roleplay and set up a board game when Bill showed up and we had three players! Enough to run something!

This session was odd. At first it started off with a lot of laughing and joking around until I asked for a break because the laughing was just too much. Unfortunately, I later realised that because of all the humour I forgot to put in a plot hook I've been keeping for the initial scene. No matter, I can put it back in at the next scene, it's not like this is the first thing this happens.

The scene at the train station was interesting. The players were basically trying to get some Glamour. It is a resources that they spend to use their special changeling powers (Blessings and Contracts). One way of getting it is through instilling emotions into people and feeding off them.

The problems started when they entered the Hedge. After the first trap I decided to skip the others since I wanted to get to the Goblin Market scene before the session ended but that didn't work out so well. I thought that upon seeing more than half as many people who are way better armed than the player group is, they'd try and not engage them in direct combat. Especially since I did say at the beginning that World of Darkness combat is lethal.

Instead of running away into safety or at least using surgical strikes and misdirection they decided to go for direct combat against impossible odds. I ended up killing two player characters (including one I really liked) which I despise with my whole being so much that I couldn't get myself to write this summary until now. I had to take Sunday off roleplaying just to calm myself down.

I think I know what mistake I made. I gave people too much room to take the story where they want but that's just falling flat. Right now I think I'll speed things up and aim to finish this game in the next 3 sessions.

PS: I'll explain the Courts with the next session summary since it looks like that one will be way more political than this one got a chance to be.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Hourglass of the Silver Sands: Session 3


Zenith Joanna as Mara, Travelling Monk
Jon C as Spectre, Sorcerer Supreme
Jules as Whisper, Master Thief
Bill as Isandlwana, Travelling Matchmaker

Game Mastered by Krzyś

Release Date:

Faced with obvious danger, the Lawgivers prepared themselves to fight. Mare drew her bow, ready to strike at the demon the moment it put on enough flesh to pierce through it while Whisper used the opportunity of everyone being distracted to step into the shadows. Confident in his ability not to be seen, he readied his swords and silently came closer to the demon. His skill in staying out of sight was so great that even Whisper himself didn't notice his own feet underneath him. When he tried to make the final step, he tripped over his own legs and fell down on the floor. The demon looked down on what lied next to its toes and tried crushing him with his pincers.

Spectre managed to pull the Hidden Sun out of harm's way before the pincer came down on his spine. It caught his arm but this did not seem to impede Shadow's ability to fight. Spectre quickly began to conjure a sword that could strike spirits in whatever form they would take while keeping an eye out for the other demons. As they were still dematerialised, he was the only one capable of seeing them and so he told his companions they have entered the ground floor.

Mara fired not one but three arrows in the span of time that it takes for a man to blink. Each carried a tiny spark of righteousness with it, enough to burn away the flesh of any unholy creature. As their battle raged, Isandlwana looked from the top of the building but saw no threats. There were two men firing at her but their precision was not worth her attention. Hearing Spectre's words, she bayonet to lever open the shutter of another window, jumped down onto the top of the swinging shutter, and swung into the room. Just in time to deliver the final blow with a blast from her firewand.

The demon vaporised, its body and soul gone. Yet Spectre informed told the other Solars that two more were rising up from beneath the floor. Although they couldn't see them, they were guided by the Twilight's insight and positioned themselves well enough to be ready when the demons took on a material form.

The room they were now in was brightly lit thanks to Mara's and Specter's anima blazing with the light of the Unconquered Sun. It was obviously much harder to conceal oneself when you're standing next to a Chosen of the Sun and perhaps this was why when Whisper struck with his blades from the shadow cast by a demon, the creature stepped forward and made the otherwise deadly wound shallow.

Not wanting to set fire to friend as well as foe, Isandlwana aimed at the demon not fighting Whisper. She recalled a story about a scorpion who stung itself to death after being caught in a circle of fire so she decided to test that theory. In the time a mortal gunslinger would shoot and reload his weapon, the Quicksilver Falcon had already shot four times, encircling her target in flames. It staggered, blazing but it didn't look like it would commit suicide any time soon.

Mara fired her arrows at the demon facing Whisper. Thanks to her extraordinary skills the arrows pierced through the demon's hide but not enough to go all the way through and hit the Night Caste standing behind it. The demon screamed in agony as the righteous fury of the Unconquered Sun burned it from within. Before it could succumb to its demise, Spectre chopped its head off with his newly conjured sword.

Outside, three more demons waited. Strangely enough, the townsfolk seemed to be on the side of the demons. The humans tried shooting at the Exalts who came too close to the windows. After noticing the Exalts stood their ground, two came forward to set the building ablaze. Whisper hurried to the ground floor and with a well placed thrust his blade went right through the wooden wall and into one of the assailants on the other side. The other one aimed his flamepiece at the resulted hole the moment the blade went back but the Dagger of Heaven was already gone.

Mara and Isandlwana fired at the demons from their positions on the first-floor while Spectre was shaping another spell. This time he summoned a bird composed wholly of flame. It flew through the window and up into the air. It quickly noticed its victim in the form of a demon in the middle of the street and flew down like a blazing comet on it. The demon jumped to the side, dodging a direct hit but even so, the bird exploded upon impact with the ground. Half the street was an inferno now. Some thugs were caught in the blast, as was the demon and the remaining arsonist. Even the sand itself was being consumed by the flames. Isandlwana made a quick look through the room and found a bottle of spirit that she then threw at a demon not caught by Spectre's spell. The bottle shattered somewhere on the ground.

The singed demon crushed through what remained of the front door. It found nothing on the first floor because Whisper has already made his exit out the back. He turned left and ran into a narrow alley. He saw some snipers on the rooftop so he jumped up and off the walls on both sides until he landed between them. Shocked by this sudden appearance, they both aimed their weapons at him and fired. Due to Whisper's body bending in impossible angles, they hit each other and were out of the picture without the Night Caste having to do anything.

The other three Exalts came down the stairs and got rid of the last remaining demon with their combined powers. Mara leapt through the air and caught the demon's tail with her fighting chain while Spectre and Isandlwana finished it off with their respective weapons. All they needed to do now is to interrogate the mayor while fending off frenzied attacks from half the population of the town.

Bonus Material: Storyteller's Commentary

This was a full on combat session. I never had this long a combat before. I'm quite glad I used a battle-mat for it because I sure wouldn't be able to keep track of what's going on otherwise. It doesn't help that my mind works on abstractions and I have difficulty imagining exact measurements so having squares as movement markers was a great boon and it made Athletics Charms that bit more useful.

I was very, very happy when the players realised that being Solars they don't have to worry about destroying everything in sight. They had to worry about keeping enough intact to have something to work with later on. Yes, all that carnage described above was caused by their attempts not to annihilate the surrounding region. Jon made sure that his spell wouldn't hit any more buildings... and I dare not mention the round square controversy we had! (oh wait, I just did!)

A little bit about the setting now. Exalted is a fairly standard fantasy setting when it comes to the level of commonly used technology. In the South, however, people do have access to guns (flamepiece) and riffles (firewand). The main difference is that these weapons don't fire bullets, they fire... well... fire.

The anima mentioned above is the result of an Exalted using their supernatural powers. The more they use them, the more they begin to shine with the light of their patron! In case of Solars, they become walking lightbulbs, filling the surrounding area with all the shades of the sun.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The Scabbard and the Sword: Session 2


Bill as Brutus "Sten" Stentor, Lithium's Sound Technician

Daisy as Zero, Reclusive Alchemist

Jack as Joseph, the Hobo-Rat

Lisa as Seven (now known as Five), Creepy Death Obsessed Darkling

Stella as Lithium-Morphian, Famous Singer

Game Mastered by Krzyś

Release Date:
5th June 2010

Before the day had a chance to end, the group went to the alley that Fiddler told them about. In front of the passage to the Hedge they were met by a very dirty rat changeling. He tried to sell them the latest Big Issue. Five came closer to him and started to inhale the smell of sewers that emanated from him. He told them his name was Joseph and that he can't let anyone pass. Sten managed to convince him that they have a pass but first they need to enter the Hedge before he can see it.

The Trod was opened through a door leading to a unused pub. Whilst opening, Sten made appropriate door-opening noises. He then showed a piece of paper to Joseph which he accepted as a confirmation of them being allowed to go look at the Trod and where it led. The part of the Hedge closest to the real world looked like the empty pub with a serious overgrowth problem. The more they went through the layer of mud, beer cans and broken bottles the more the Hedge looked like something between a swamp and a jungle. Sten continued making noises of wild animals. At some point Five decided to pitch her own finger on a thorn. When she was done enjoying the sensation of flowing blood, she told the rest she feels there's a Goblin Tree nearby. They all decided to leave the path and look for it.

After nearly an hour of going through the Hedge and getting themselves cut on the many thorns, they came to the conclusion they have no idea where the Goblin Tree could be. They tried going back onto the Trod but even though Joseph was extremely sure they arrived at the exact same spot where they left, the Trod was gone.

"RUN!" Joseph shouted. They all followed his lead until they hear Lithium's scream. A Briarwolf has pinned the Fairest to the ground and was about to bite her head off. They all stopped running and ganged up on the hobgoblin. Joseph kicked it in the groin. Zero pierced its side with her sword cane. Sten covered himself in Lithium's screams. Five tried to poke the beast and managed to stick her finger in its nose on the second try. Under the onslaught of this many changelings, the Briarwolf changed its strategy and threw Five into the air. Her arm landed between the beast's fangs. Joseph jumped and tried to gauge its eyes out but only managed to scratch the back of its neck open. The final blow came from Zero's sword-cane. She hit it in the chest and pulled its heart out.

Ignoring the fact she nearly lost an arm. Five suggested they leave this place before the rest of the pack gets here. They started running, following Joseph, the fastest of the group. Their run was stopped by the sight of a cottage in the middle of the Hedge. A blue flame cast shadows from inside. Joseph went to knock on the front door but before his fingers could touch the wooden door, a net sprang up from under his feet. Next thing he knew he was up in the air. A large man with patches of white fur over his body came out of the cottage. Lithium quickly changed herself to look more like the Ogre. She told him she was his long lost brother. The family reunion went extremely well.

The Ogre was happy to see the brother he didn't know he had. He asked if the changelings who were with him were for the lady-boss but Lithium said they were here to help him find his way through the Hedge. "Joseph, Joseph" Five stood right under the caught Beast. While he plainly started to bite his way through the net. The Ogre offered his brother some stew that he's been cooking for the rest of his Motley but Lithium declined. Five on the other hand was very interested in it so the Ogre went back to get her a takeaway. When he returned with a bowl of warm stew, Joseph was already out of the net. The Ogre was friendly enough to show them the way to the nearest Trod. When they were once again on the path, Five cut her finger on a thorn again to check if they should go left or right. On the left she sensed a crossroads with other Trods while the right led out of the Hedge.

On their way there, Sten was eerily silent while Zero tried to make Five give her the stew. She managed to barter a piece of meat from the Darkling before they reached the same alleyway they used to enter the Hedge. Zero quickly ran of to her laboratory to analyse the meat slice while the rest tried to agree on what to do next.

After a short discussion, they decided to report their findings to the Winter Queen.

Bonus Material: Storyteller's Commentary

This session went a lot better than the last one. I did plan on having a combat session but I didn't think it would be with a Hobgoblin. When Lisa said they would go look for the Goblin Tree, I allowed them to make a team effort roll of finding it and they failed. Then they failed the roll to find their way back onto the Trod so to speed things up I had a Briarwolf try eating them. The combat I planned for when they'd arrive at the cottage but since it already happened, I didn't make that be the default. I was very impressed with Stella's idea of turning into the long lost brother of the Ogre and fooling him into being friendly. Fortunately, Ogre's aren't that good when it comes to Composure rolls so at least that attempt succeeded.

I don't think I've ever saw this many failed rolls during a game. How can you not roll an 8-10 on ONE DIE when you're rolling EIGHT is beyond me but it happens. It will be interesting to see what happens next since technically, the players are running blind right now.

Five and Sten were the most exciting characters this session. I hope I did manage to mention their weirdness and odd behaviour in the write-up. That's pretty much what changelings are like. Spending time in Arcadia really screws your mind, body and soul. I should give them some extra experience points just for that.

And now a little bit about the terms used here. The Hedge is place where time and space don't follow the same rules as the real world. That's why Trods are so useful since they do connect two of the same points between the Hedge. It's also good to know where you're going when the Hedge is home to many strange creatures, known as Hobgoblins, whose motivation to catch changelings ranges from eating them to being their best friend for ever and ever! In the Hedge you can also find Goblin Trees. These are special plants that give Goblin Fruits. A Goblin Fruit can be pretty much anything. From an apple that has bullets in it to a cranberry that makes you hallucinate like you were on LSD... but the hallucinations are real. Some Goblin Fruits are benevolent, they can give you Glamour or cause your wounds to melt away. Unfortunately, you won't know what they do until you bite into them.

I also started to use synonyms for character names. Every changeling has a Seeming, it describes the type of changeling that they are. The Seemings: Beast (Joseph, Sophie), Darkling (Five), Elemental (Sten), Fairest (Lithium), Ogre and Wizened (Zero). I'll probably mention Courts in the next session summary.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Ministry of Blades : The Pyramids of Hertfordshire, episode 5

Curruthers meets an old colleague; Prentiss pulls the plug.


3rd June 2010.

Dramatis Personae

Lady Antonia deVore - a Heavily-armed Aristocrat.
Miss Constantina Spit - a Rebellious Debutante.
Captain Benson Curruthers - a Military Policeman.
Jack Prentiss - a Dodgy Pedestrian.
Miss April Sharpe - a Self-taught Inventor.
Rodney Marsh - a Partially-reformed Thief.
Mr Chester - a Foreign Gentleman of the Scientific Persuasion.
Jackson - an old Associate of Curruthers.
Two Anonymous Scientists.
A Sceptical Commandant.
A number of Heavily-armed ‘Gamekeepers’.
A large number of Shambling Corpses.


After the night's exertions, the team headed for the darkened lounge of the Inn and several members consumed a stiff brandy (at least three in Marsh's case). They prised Marsh's discoveries out of him and decided that they would visit the mysterious camp in person the following day, making no secret of their true authority.

They hired some riding horses and, after much deliberation over the best route, led them by the known forest trail over the ridge. They hit a well-packed gravel road to the north-east of the camp at around 1 pm and, surmising that it led to the camp, followed it to the south and west. Marsh followed them separately though the woods, acting as a kind of back-up.

After ten minutes of travel, they encountered a border-style checkpoint and were hailed by a man dressed in tweeds, armed with what appeared to be a very large double-barrelled shotgun. Curruthers immediately assumed an air of authority and demand access in the name of the Ministry. The man looked confused, but asked them to wait while he headed inside a hut by the side of the road. The heroes could hear him talking to someone whose voice couldn't be heard. A moment later, another man in tweeds poked his head out of the door and, this time, Curruthers recognised him instantly as Jackson, a Colour Sergeant he had known in India. They exchanged some pleasantries while the one-sided conversation in the hut continued, then Jackson returned to the hut and joined that conversation. After a minute or so, he returned, saying that the ‘Commandant’ had agreed to see them.

He accompanied them along the mile or so to the camp, which was revealed in daylight to be quite a defensive structure. A long earth ramp led to the main gate of the facility on the central rise, broken only by a makeshift drawbridge. A twenty-foot high guard tower containing two guards with a machine gun overlooked the main approaches and the bushes around the edge of the rise provided natural crenellations hiding snipers.

Watching from the woods, Marsh saw them cross the ‘moat′ and follow their guide into what appeared to be a guardhouse. Jackson asked them to wait while he fetched the Commandant.

The Commandant turned out to be a traditionalist type who immediately began to butt horns with Curruthers, pointing out that the project was a top secret operation of the War Office and that the Ministry (which seemed to know about) had no authority there. After much argument, he agreed to show them the experiments, on the basis that they were nearly completed anyway.

They were led to the open square at the centre of the camp, situated between four prefabricated structures, one of which appeared to contain a steam-powered electrical generator, and containing a tall mast, linked by cables to the powerhouse and the building opposite. Knocking on the door of that building, the Commandant entered and returned, accompanied by a short, moustached man, who he introduced as Mr Chester. Chester turned out to be Hungarian, judging from his accent, but was soon persuaded to explain how they were experimenting with broadcasting electrical power through the æther to vehicles and other devices.

This was then demonstrated as the generator was started up, causing hairs to rise on everyone, before one of his companions drove an electric vehicle out from behind one of the buildings. Miss Sharpe discussed the theory with Chester, putting forward the theory that the broadcast electricity was responsible for animating the zombies; both Chester and the Commandant rejected the idea as impossible and refused to consider the idea.

The Commandant now informed them that they would not be allowed to leave until the final experiments were finished and locked them in what appeared to be a barracks. The group immediately began looking for a way out, checking the floor, door and windows.

Outside the camp, Marsh became aware of movement around him and spotted numerous zombies shambling towards the camp. He panicked, transformed, after a brief stutter, into a rat and bolted for the camp.

Inside the barracks, the team were preparing to break the door down, when they became aware of gunfire, increasing in volume and rate of fire, and soon accompanied by the chatter of the tower-mounted machine gun. A number of screams were also heard and it became apparent that the guards were being overwhelmed. They renewed their efforts with repeated charges, then Curruthers bust the door open and was nearly flattened by a walking corpse. As he battled for his life, aided by Lady Antonia, the others tried to figure out how to shut down the electrical broadcast. Around them, the guards were attempting to hold a perimeter against the shambling attackers.

Prentiss sprinted for the powerhouse, bursting through the door, then ducking at the last moment to avoid losing his head to a shovel wielded by a panicking stoker. Marsh arrived behind the zombie fighting Curruthers, returned to human form and nearly decapitating it, followed up by bowing ironically to his combat trainer. Lady Antonia decided to try and help the guards while Miss Sharpe powered up her weapon and aimed it at the top of the mast, soaking it in a stream of corrosive liquid. Miss Spit followed Prentiss into the powerhouse, arriving just in time to see him pull a thick cable out of the steam-powered dynamo, causing a massive shower of sparks which made up for the lights going out.

The dynamo sped up, its whine rapidly rising in pitch, until the building exploded in a shower of flames and shrapnel…


Ooh! A cliff-hanger!

Will Prentiss and Miss Spit survive the explosion? Has Marsh finally taunted Curruthers one too many times? Did Miss Sharpe really understand anything Mr Chester said? What will happen if Lady Antonia gets her hands on a really big gun?

Find out in the next thrilling instalment of…

The Pyramids of Buckinghamshire!

The Scabbard and the Sword: Session 1


Bill as Brutus "Sten" Stentor, Lithium's Sound Technician

Daisy as Zero, Reclusive Alchemist

Lisa as Seven, Creepy Death Obsessed Darkling

Matt as Sophie Juliet White, Bunny

Stella as Lithium-Morphian, Famous Singer

Game Mastered by Krzyś

Release Date:

It is December 2009 and Brighton is suffering from the worst winter ever. While the Winter Court is proud of their season's prowess, it is making life difficult for everyone involved. Roads are full of snow to the extent driving is dangerous, the trains are delayed a lot more than usual and if heating breaks down in an office, it is easier to just go home and start buying cheap food.

Due to the severe weather conditions on the day, Lithium's gig was cancelled and she stayed in her flat for the day. At about midnight she heard knocking on her window. As strange as it was, having someone knock on the window on the second floor, she ignored it. A moment later said window was smashed with a piece of ice.

The gig cancellation also affected Sten who decided to have a walk down the beach. He was very enamoured with the sounds the waves did when they swept and melted the snow lying on the sand. He took his time throwing rocks at the wave breakers. At one point a wrinkly mad changeling jumped out and shouted him down for giving him a bump on the head. A few words of apology later, he went off to continue his sound making somewhere else. Sten didn't go far before screams of the changeling reached him. He came back to find the changeling's living place ravaged by ice and with a newly open Trod into the Hedge.

Seven was hanging around in her studio flat when she heard knocking on the door. Naturally she went to open it and was surprised to find a Trod going through the corridor. The Darkling felt a cold presence behind her and knew immediately she was in grave danger. Without giving it much thought she burst out of her flat and into the Hedge. Keeping to the path she seemed to have lost her assailant until she stumbled onto something. The next thing she knew she was in some large room with other changelings everywhere. They tried to get her up but she refused the offer of help. Later on she would hear that she ended up in a Spring party. Some time before she arrived, the lights went out and chaos erupted. When everything was over, some guests went missing while a newly opened Trod into the Hedge was discovered. No one noticed Seven wasn't invited.

Meanwhile Sophie enjoyed an evening on the beach with her boyfriend, Dave. They were lying down on the snow and kissing each other when something pulled the love of Sophie's life into the sea. She grabbed his hand and they were pulled in together. Her struggle to pull them both out of the ice cold waters ended with her letting go and saving herself. She looked at the waves and saw a figure in the distance, a woman in a white dress standing on the water. The woman was gone with the next blink.

Zero's routine was shattered with a knock on the door. It was a puppy changeling by the name of Fiddler, a fellow member of the Iron Spear. He told Zero that the Green Knight, the Summer King, needs something analysed. It was a piece of unmelting ice that was found on the scene where a changeling was supposedly kidnapped. Fiddler couldn't tell anything more since he had to run.

After rumours spread of changelings disappearing all over Brighton, the Winter Queen decided to call the whole Freehold in. The court held place in a Hollow with the entrance within an abandoned building close to the railways going out of Brighton Station. In order to enter, a changeling had to walk in through the door frame on the second floor and go back through it without turning or looking.

During the meeting, Ninian, the Winter Queen, tried to calm the Freehold down. She had hoped that whatever Zero found out would put everyone at peace. Unfortunately, she mainly said that the piece of ice was created by making a contract with Ice. The Freehold was quick to jump to the conclusion that a True Fae is working to bring all of them back to Arcadia. A heated discussion erupted where blame was thrown at each Court and their respective leaders. Either due to being bored with the bickering or deciding taking action is best; Lithium, Sten and Seven decided to help Zero investigate further into the matter. They went to find Fiddler. He told them where the place the piece of ice was found was and that there would be a guard but they just had to tell him they were on orders from the Summer King to look into the Trod's appearance.

I have to honestly say that this session was probably the worst I ever had. At one point of the game I just broke badly enough that I wanted to just walk out of the room and not come back. Instead I looked through my Magic cards as a distraction of sorts.

The unexpected arrival of three more players technically brought the game up to 11 players though 3 were absent from this session. Before the second one started two players bowed down and another two decided they won't be playing so we went down to 6, which is a better number. Due to 2 players leaving, I decided to edit the session summary to reflect only the currently active participants.

My plan for this session was to give each player a piece of the puzzle as to what is going on. I wasn't too pleased with it. I think we either had too much out-of-game distractions or I am way too subtle for my own good.

Looking over this summary I think I should say a few things about the world of Changeling The Lost. Changelings are people who have been kidnapped by the True Fae, taken to Arcadia and changed into something not-fully-human. Some were changed into animals, others into scenery while others were just servants. Some times a changeling escapes and goes back to the real world but they will never be human again, they will forever have the features of what they were in Arcadia.

In order to better protect themselves from the True Fae taking them back, they organise themselves into four Courts based on seasons. Each Court has a King or Queen who rules the Court and the Freehold during one fourth of the year. The Freehold is a term used to describe all changeling of a city/region.

The Hedge is what divides Arcadia from the real world. A Trod is a safe path through the Hedge while a Hollow is a piece of the Hedge that has been crafted into a safe place. The Hedge is not a nice place... the second session shows the players why.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The Ministry of Blades : The Pyramids of Hertfordshire, episode 4

Marsh dodges a bullet; April puts the boot in.


20th May 2010.

Dramatis Personae

Lady Antonia deVore - a Heavily-armed Aristocrat.
Miss Constantina Spit - a Rebellious Debutante.
Captain Benson Curruthers - a Military Policeman.
Jack Prentiss - a Dodgy Pedestrian.
Miss April Sharpe - a Self-taught Inventor.
Rodney Marsh - a Partially-reformed Thief.
A Cynical Landlord.
Two Shambling Corpses.
A Panicked Rifleman.
Several Less-panicked Riflemen.
Three Bushy-moustached Scientists.


Following their visit to the Manor, the team deliberated their next move over dinner, eventually deciding to try to locate and scout the camp in the forest that evening. Grabbing copious supplies of tea to keep them awake, they armed themselves and headed out into the gathering fog. Prentiss took the lead with his ground-eating pace, but Lady Antonia had to prevent him drifting off the faint path; in the meantime, Marsh's attempts to move quietly parallel to the group combined with his lack of wilderness skills led to him trailing them by quite a distance. They arrived at the ridge after darkness fell completely, settling down to wait for a few hours while Marsh scouted out the camp location.

Around midnight, they saw the lights appear over the valley, manifesting in several locations within the cloud before swirling together. There was no obvious source, but the effects were clearly centred on the camp. They could also feel the vibrations in the ground start up as they appeared. Curruthers tried to get a good look at the camp using his binoculars, but nearly blinded himself despite his best efforts. With nothing else happening, Curruthers and Prentiss both attempted to get some sleep.

Marsh arrived at the camp, which was situated on a small plateau, surrounded by a 10-foot bank, and followed the perimeter around, taking the occasional peek over the bank to survey the area. Noting the bright lights emanating from the camp itself, he was extra careful, but his second attempt was nearly his last: he was looking almost directly down the muzzle of an elephant rifle held by a well-hidden sentry. Luckily he was not spotted and was able to drop out of sight.

Back on the ridge, Miss Spit became aware that the surrounding woods were very quiet, then heard crashing noises in the fog. She quickly warned Lady Antonia and Miss Sharpe, then woke Prentiss and Curruthers to wait for the visitor. After a few minutes of watching, Miss Spit became impatient and used a spell to illuminate the area below the ridge and clear the fog, revealing a zombie.

At first, they hoped it was going to ignore them, and wander past, but to their chagrin, it began to climb the slope. Lady Antonia prepared to shoot it, but Curruthers reminded her that the shot would be heard across the valley, so she lobbed a rock at it instead, failing to do any damage. Several attempts were made to prevent it succssfully cimbing the slope, but it demonstrated dogged persistence, taking a swipe at Miss Spit as it arrived, but she had cast another spell to disguise her location so that it missed. Lady Antonia tripped it up, with some effort, and Curruthers pinned it to the ground with his sword. It continued to try and hit them, but they pounded it with rocks and batons (Prentiss sitting on its leg) and, eventually, April connected with a steel toe-cap and caved the side of its skull in.

It stopped moving.

In the valley, Marsh continued to silently skirt the camp, then stepped on a twig, causing a loud crack. This was immediately followed by a deafening blast and something whistled past about five feet away, while the lights went out. Thinking the shot was aimed at him, Marsh panicked and ran for the trees, while more bullets whizzed past him. He turned into a rat, then realised he was not the target as he saw several zombies heading towards the camp. The sentries were destroying them quite effectively with their large-calibre rifles, so Marsh decided to take advantage of the confusion and sneaked up onto the plateau, changing back to human to scout the camp itself.

As the lights came back on, he noted a central fenced-off area, containing two barracks buildings or offices, a steam-powered electric generator, some kind of laboratory and the mast. Standing in the central square were several soldiers and three gentlemen who appeated to be scientists by their dress. Marsh decided discretion was the better part of valour and, having memorised the layout, he returned to the ridge, where his colleagues, a little worried after the gunfire, were waiting for him.


I find zombies and fog always go well together… It took a while to take down the lone zombie - bad die rolls seem to cause lots of problems in this game, but it was nice to see Constantina's magic finally getting an outing.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

For the Emperor! (and Charity!)

I wouldn't normally use the group blog for selling something, but this is in a good cause.

In celebration of the upcoming Deathwatch Space Marine rpg and the new Storm Wardens Space Marine chapter introduced within, a group of gaming bloggers are putting together a complete Storm Wardens army for the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop wargame, and then are giving it away in a charity raffle.

To enter, just go to this post and donate as much as you like, via Paypal. $1 gets you one raffle ticket, you can buy as many as you like, and all proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders.

These guys, and this competition, are in no way affiliated with the Brighton Gamers group, or myself, but I thought it was a good project, and one worth mentioning to others.