City of Dragons was good, and the last book in the series is in my 'to read in the near future' pile (as opposed to the 'to read at some point' pile).
I'm about 2/3 of the way through Stuart Cloete's The Silver Trumpet, a collection of short stories set primarily in Boer times and lands, though some are set as late as the 30s and in central Africa. The stories are mostly OK, mostly rather bland and clumsy prose with occasional passages of actual good writing. Considering the time and place and most of the stories are set and the protagonists being Boers or Boer-adjacent, you have to expect a bit of extreme racism here and there, and damn if there isn't some unpleasant stuff mentioned very casually. On the whole the stories are all about the whites so the nasty stuff isn't shoved in your face regularly. I don't know much about the Boers so I can't comment on the accuracy of the portrayal other than to say it aligns with what little I do know.
The trip to Ascanor Lodge was uneventful (I usually ignore the encounters that are nothing but xp padding) and Saigo Diplomacies his way past Belik. He puts Duristan in his place when the boy rudely demands that Saigo join him, declines the rephrased invitation, and enters to get some dinner.
He arranges to meet with Estovion the next day and after spending some time in the common room getting some curious looks from the members - no one bothers to introduce themselves at the moment. He is just about to retire for the evening when he hears a bloodcurdling scream from the woods. Grabbing his bow (now a dagger) and rushing out without his quiver which was left in a closet in the entry of the Lodge, he heads out with the rest of the guests looking on curiously. He is not impressed by the werewolves despite this being the first time any of his lives has met a lycanthrope and tells them to get lost. They warn him and the Lodge to not get involved in their affairs him and Saigo decides to avenge the dead servant lying on the ground. He easily kills the first lycanthrope and gravely wounds the second. It runs off.
Saigo returns to the lodge and plans to follow the tracks the next day once he has had a meeting with Estovion. The next day Estovion manages to Bluff Saigo and not seem suspicious when he says he has to arrange a few things before bringin Saigo into the loop with the EOPE. Saigo easily follows the wounded werewolf's trail despite its attempts at wiping the trail, and gets to the Stairs of the Moon. Here he easily defeats the first few lycanthropes that attack him but has to cast Fly and get out of melee after the Silverhides and Mordenacht get in a few good hits on him. After this he is basically untouchable and manages to get the werewolves talking with him. They want the humans at the Lodge to stop messing with werewolf ancestor spirits. Saigo assumes they mean Auren Vrood but they say no, that guy came through a day or so ago and the spirit problem has been going on for some time. Saigo agrees reluctantly to end the spirit summoner at the Lodge in exchange for the werewolves leading him to Vrood.
Now he has to wrestle with his conscience about whether he should make a deal with evil werewolves at all, if killing them out of hand is a bad thing, if killing them after having fulfilled their bargain is better or worse than just killing them, and if letting them go is morally more acceptable than killing them.
The trial initially goes as the mob desires: a litany of crimes are laid at the Beast's feet, but it is on trial for three specific crimes. Kemple presents the evidence to a chorus of protests from the crowd. When Judge Daramid asks if anyone has any final evidence or testimony they wish to enter, saigo stands up and presents a new written testimony from the sisters at Hergstag.
Now having a little more time to work with, Saigo visits Sanctuary and Morast and rather easily finds the clues that lead to the chemical works. Tomokato was rather blunt and since the rakasta is the primary and dominant personality in Saigo, the new-born elf is also blunt. When Grine comes to answer the ringing bell Saigo asks "I want to know why you were buying bodies from Sanctuary." Grine looks shocked, is gone a few minutes, then comes to let saig through the gate. Saigo knows an ambush when he sees one and warns them not to try it. The chemists and their mongrelmen minions attack anyway.
The trial ends with the Beast being aquitted of the charges brought before him. Saigo easily calms the angry crowd and escorts the Beast back to Caromac. The count is in much better condition now than he was the last time Saigo saw him, and is a little more forthcoming asbout why he was found in such dire straits the first visit. Caromac was a member of the Palatine Eye though recently he has drifted away from them. "These days they are too fond of talking and lazing about instead of doing actual work," he says disdainfully. Vrood came to get hold of the Seasage Effigy, an item Caromac had in his possession for a some years before donating it to the 'university'. Like Crowl at the university, Caromac thought the statue queer and slightly discomfiting, but it did not radiate magic so he considered it of minimal interest to his work and gave it away. Obviously someone thinks it rather important and with the capture of the spirit in Ravengro, Saigo begins to suspect someone is collecting 'things' for an unknown purpose. Caromac agrees and hypothesizes that Vrood has some information from one of the Order's members, one working on outdated info. In interests of safeguarding his future peace and getting revenge, Caromac is happy to let Saigo go after Vrood and writes a letter of introduction to the Ascanor Lodge, a gathering place for the Order where they ostensibly meet to discuss matters of arcane interest but these days is more of a gentleperson's club than a place of work. Saigo notes how Caromac dismisses the Beast with little interest now that it is free and how the Beast seems despondant and forlorn. As I expected, Saigo tells the Beast that he should head to the Thunder Rift to seek a new home where he will find acceptance.
Back in Lepidstadt Daramid thanks Saigo for his efforts and reveals some secret EOPE matters, specifically the results of an expedition to Davania some years ago which uncovered some ancient pre-Blackmoorian ruins. In addition to some interesting relics they found the Carrion Crown ritual (or Charnel Crown - the scholars argue about the exact translation) which can forcibly and permanently corrupt any being to a dark master. Saigo instantly picks up on the danger he's in. The actual verse of the Carrion Crown is poorly translated because Lorrimar - who took part in the expedition that discovered the ritual - had an unfortunate need to translate everything into Thyatian rhyme at the expense of accuracy.
Upon the ashen pathways tread
A spirit gone from true to false
Keeper of the damned's soul take,
A hundred slain lie innocent,
Hallowed words no more spoken,
Blood spilt atop the Iron Thorn
In any case, the capture of Hawkran's spirit probably fulfills the second verse, since Hawkran's initial lofty goal of rehabilitating criminals quickly turned to horrible torture of the inmates of Harrowstone.
So now Othariel will have a talking flesh golem show up and say Tomokato sent him. Some discussion among the players about whether Othariel will try to make a paladin out of the Beast as well.
The Will of the Tribe wasn't good. Even ignoring the racist bits (which you can't, even if it was probably less derisive than many other works of the time and acknowledges that white people are eradicating native culture) the writing wasn't good. When people were yelling or emotionally charged it felt like watching those old Russian dubs of western movies with zero acting ability.
On to better things: the third of Robin Hobb's Rain Wilds Chronicles, City of Dragons.
My grandfather and later parents had/have a few of those Time Life series, and I absolutely love them.
The Road to Mars was as much an exploration of the nature of comedy. A few oddities that made the setting feel off, like how Vaudeville is somehow back in fashion, and somehow comedians can make a living traveling throughout the solar system and putting on acts. The book made me smile frequently but I don't think I laughed once, which may very well be a "it's not you, it's me" problem.
Now reading The Will of the Tribe by Arthur Upfield, one of his Inspector Napoleaon Bonaparte books, an Australian sleuth. This is another one I picked up when my work was getting rid of a few things and so far I've found it hard going. Partially because I'm not a big fan of mysteries, mostly because of the descriptions of the First Nations. Mentions of the 'wild' tribes and the 'semi-tame' tribes, and how the MC can "think like a black man and reason like a white man" abound. Granted I know bugger all about First Nation cultures (I don't think having watched the Crocodile Dundee movies counts), so I don't really know how accurate the portrayal of them here is, but the language rubs my special snowflake woke sensibilities the wrong way.
The project is not dead, just moving slowly since I'm spending most of my time preparing for an AP. I'm mostly done converting spells from the 3e CRB. Just need to check them against other editions. Nearly done updating secret spells of the clans from their respective books, about to start on yet another splat.
I'm not sure how I feel about leaving Immortus unresolved but f%!+ it if it wasn't the ending most of the characters deserved. A few quibbles, like how Vic had just decided to become Cyborg again and then decides to become a teacher or how fashion apparantly stagnated over the next 40-odd years, but damn if those onion ninjas weren't infesting our living room.
The only encounter that inconveniences Saigo on his continued journey through Alpon Caromarc's home is the leech swarms. He has no way of dealing with them so he uses his last Fly spell to just get out of their range. The vargouilles, girallon flesh golem and the blind flesh golem are just meat to the grinder. The Promethean is something else and very nearly kills Saigo, who survives only because his awesome bow has the Transformative quality, which allows him to use it as a dagger. I think I forgot one instances of constrict somewhere in the fight but the player assures me that was no problem on his account. He levels to 7th, frees Caromarc from his imprisonment.
The count is grateful and drinks some offered water but declines the healing potions offered - he follows Glantrian law to the letter but is willing to overlook Saigo's possession of contraband in light of current circumstances. He digs out a potion of his that temporarily gives him a boost of energy so he can try to salvage some dignity in the situation and after changing clothes entertains Saigo to the best of his limited ability. He admits to being the creator of the Beast ("little Adam," as Caromarc refers to him) and acknowledges that he may well be guilty of various murders but he has no knowledge of these specific crimes. He has little interest in the Beast itself since it was a failure but does not wish said failure to reflect poorly on himself. He offers to pay Saigo to keep the origin of the Beast secret and do what he can to free the golem.
Returning to Lepidstadt, Saigo then realizes that the trial is the next day and in his eagerness to go straight to the obvious source of the problems neglected to interview the witnesses used against the Beast. Running low on energy and spells but refusing to let the giant child die , he rushes to the site of the child massacre and quickly gets to the bottom of things there. Luckily for him the sun is still shining brightly when he discovers Brother Swarm and wins the initiative and gets out of the little cave. He buffs himself to the gills with his remaining spells, lobs a Fireball in, then Divine Illumination and moves in and uses his last channel, then shoots the wraiths to death. After a round they pinpoint his location but his AC meant only 20s hit so he only lost a little Constitution. He recovers the skeletons of the lost children and gets new testimony from the three sisters/witnesses.
This however is all he has time to do before the trial so he heads back to Lepidstadt, feeling very weak and tired.
That was in some ways a very annoying plot (let's time-travel to find the thingy we need, nevermind the potentially destructive retcons this will cause) and the writing seemed a bit rushed in places but still a solid episode with plenty of character moments.
I suspect this series will get a Doom Patrol ending.
Whiff of Death was rather dated and not all that good. It was an interesting look into what Asimov himself must have experienced in his stint at university with the development of new techniques crowding out old, but his portrayal of women and psychology was ..... not very good. TBH I'm not sure if the pscyhology on display was decent for a lay person's understanding of the field at the time it was written but it hasn't aged well. I'd stick with his SF stories.
Currenlty reading Eric Idle's The Road to Mars. 25 years old at the moment and it feels a little dated. Some moments of insight and genuine humor with a lot cringe at a comedian past his prime. To be fair I'm not very far into it so it may improve.
Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
Work today, tomorrow the plan is to prune a tree, get some house work done, make lasagne for dinner, make a couple of cheap shelves to display minis on, and paint some minis to put on said shelves. I expect to get at most one of those done, probably the dinner.
I got the trees pruned and the shelves made and painted for an hour or so. Two-and-a-bit of my plans with some extra (processed two pumpkins for my mother) is better than expected and way better than average.
Thief's Magic was OK all the way through: not bad, not good. If I find the sequel cheap I may pick it up.
On to Asimov's A whiff of death. I've tried a couple of his mysteries before but not been terribly impressed. Mysteries aren't really my thing unless you add magic or robots to them. However the book was free and I generally like Asimov and I'm always willing to give him another chance.
Considering his options, Saigo asks Kendra's permission to peruse the books he has volunteered to take back to the University. She gives him permission only slightly reluctantly: she wishes to honor her father's requests but is more interested in finding whoever killed him and this is the best lead they have. The holy texts of Orcus and Alphaks are dark reading but nothing he isn't already familiar with, at least in broad strokes. The cook on the Outer Beings is more interesting but it is quickly apparent that it is little more than a few vague hints and tidbits with a lot of supposition and assumption. Frankly, it’s hard to determine how much of this is useful and how much is nonsense or worse. The Palatine Eye’s scrapbook is at first glance less interesting, once he cracked the code. It too is little more than a collection of odds and ends of various mystic rituals and beliefs, some of which Saigo knows more of than the writers, some which is entirely new to him. He is initially inclined to write the whole thing off but catches a passage that references an expedition not listed in the manual. In itself this would not be a major issue but it took place just before Lorrimar moved to Ravengro. With this as his only lead, he heads to Lepidstadt, a small town in the principality of Aalban.
Though bigger than Ravengro, Lepidstadt is still quite small and he wonders how it can be big enough to be home to a university, his major points of reference being the University in Sundsvall or the Great School of Magic. When he sees the ‘university’, he understands: it is little more than a manor that has been turned into an academic institution with a name bigger than its size. Professor Crowl is welcoming and taken aback at the death of Lorrimar and Ovne. He is grateful for the return of the books - the religious ones are not exactly illegal in Glantri but definitely frowned upon so it’s good to have them back where there is a veneer of an educational institution to protect the keepers. When Saigo shares the contents of Lorrimar’s last letter, Crowl seems to know what his old friend was afraid of and wants to do some fact checking and confer with the remaining EOPE members in town before sharing anything with Saigo.
After excusing himself from Crowl, Saigo heads to Judge Daramid. She too is shocked and saddened by the deaths of her friends and privately is somewhat insulted that Petros even suspected her of nefarious deeds. Like Crowl she wants to talk to the rest of the EOPE before informing Saigo on what precisely Petros was afraid of. She is also somewhat suspicious of Saigo showing up unannounced like this and digging into secrets they had thought hidden. Kendra’s letter of recommendation is only partially successful in assuaging her fears. Since she is busy with the Beast’s trial she can only devote so much time to other matters. Hoping to keep Saigo busy a while and perhaps even making her own job easier, she drops hints about the matter and sees what he does. She does not have the highest opinions of Kaple’s abilities and has her doubts about the Beast’s guilt, and would appreciate someone else doing some digging.
As any good PC, Saigo picks up on the dangled plot hook and goes straight to the courthouse. Barrister Kaple is less than happy to have outsiders butt in to his business but more than happy to have people to whinge at. Golems and other constructs are hardly news in Glantri, he informs Saigo, but what makes this case more tricky is that this is to all appearances a sentient golem - any other monster or rogue construct would have been killed out of hand. A sentient being is entitled to a trial - hence the hullaballoo in town. He thinks the case is open and shut, has made a perfunctory investigation, talked to the witnesses, and ignored the Beast’s protestations of innocence. Saigo is a decent sort and after interviewing the Beast is of the opinion that Kaple is not doing a good enough job but for various reasons cannot
He gets to Scloss Caromac which, like the University of Lepidstadt, is far too small to be worthy of the name. He easily overcomes the little opposition - he may not have Fly and Invisibility at will but he does have constant True Seeing and Detect Thoughts, the Fly spell and an amazing bow. He clears out the main keep and the lab and the storerooms, leaving only the towers when we end the session.
Fast progression through the AP. Since we run milestone leveling Saigo starts this book at level 4 and is supposed to be 6th by the time he gets to Caromac, so he jumps right past 5th to 6th. So far this is going a lot faster than Mummy’s Mask but there is a lot less dungeon crawling in CC than MM and this player is good at making sensible decisions and getting on with things instead of waffling around in indecision.
I'm running Mystara, mostly the WotI version, so Immortal means god. Gods have stats in BECMI but I haven't fully converted the system to PF1 yet. One of their more notable features is Immunity to Mortal Magic (some confusion about whether this means all magic or just mind affecting). In either case this should flat out negate the Tyrant if it works exactly as Dominate Monster - the range and suicide exceptions are irrelevant in this case if the target is immune. Making things more complicated, HDoMT is an artifact and as such it's in the borderlands between mortal and Immortal level in power, though I'm leaning toward Immortal because that fits with artifacts as presented in BECMI.
The PC wants to convince the possessor of his heart to give it back so he doesn't have to worry about trying to kill someone who can't be killed or having a boon given and immediately revoked.
This card could make this the easiest quest on record. As GM I could just rule it doesn't work but I don't want to be a dick about things simply because PCs ruin my plans - PCs ruining plans is like cats whining about food or clawing up furniture. Frankly, it would be hilarious if it worked because it can have consequences that make for fun later.
The bottom line is that I try to be consistent in my understanding of and application of rules and not change things on a whim. I do change rules but I try to do so as little as is reasonable, I warn players in advance of changes and try to stick by decisions made, for good or ill.
Normally I spend about 40-45 minutes getting to or from work. Yesterday I spent 3 hours. Every year half of Norway, at least in the Oslo area, forget that snow is a thing and act all surprised when it comes. Yes, it can take a while to plow the roads but that's no excuse for the idiots who still drive on summer tires well after the first frost. Especially when the weather forecast did warn that there would be snow.
This is a roundabout way of saying my plan today is to get home.
In lighter news, the Yr website has a sense of humor about weather for Halloween.
The tags going clockwise read:
I know I know, I said I wouldn't do any more of these but hear me out, OK?
Tomokato Katamura, rakasta smaurai, paladin of Ixion, was born in the Myoshiman empire on Patera, the invisible second moon of Urt. He left his home and his family to go on a sacred quest to the main planet below and there he met Arlynith, Ranya and Otheriel who all became his best friends. They had many adventures together and he eventually decided to attempt Immortality. In a surprising turn of events he did not turn to his patron deity Ixion an follow the Path of the Paragon but turned instead to the new, basically unknown Matter Immortal Lokena to pursue the Path of the Polymath. Ixion, old and experienced, did not take this personally as Tomokato was a good servant while it lasted and He had bigger things to worry about.
Tomokato's first two reincarnations went well but his third came to a sticky end. When trying to sneak around a temple in Oenkmar he was caught and sacrificed to Atzanteotl. The evil Immortal recognized the soul sent to him as something far more interesting than the weak kobold it thought it was. He realized it was a powerful spirit on the Path of the Polymath. Even better it belonged to his hated rival Ixion. Being able to stop a petitioner from becoming a Matter Immortal is prize enough but Atzanteotl loves corruption so he attempted to corrupt "Longjaw". He confronted the kobold persona and said he would return the kobold's heart if he just did a little job for him. Longjaw, knowing no better, agreed. Had Longjaw kept to the new bargain, not only would Atzanteotl have corrupted a powerful minion of Ixion, he would have guided a new petitioner to Immortality in the Sphere of Entropy. This would have been an immense win for him. As it was, Longjaw got a little hint that keeping to the bargain with Atzanteotl was a Bad Idea and was put on the right path again. Atzanteotl failed to corrupt Longjaw but was left with the beating heart of the kobold and as such a powerful spiritual connection to Tomokato's essence and soul. He could just kill the cat and be done with it and it would still count as a win but his ego wants him to press for a bigger win.
The Vaults of Pandius were rapidly emptying. The necessary meetings were done and few bothered to hang around and chat. Atzanteotl, in the shape of a handsome elf, lounged conspicuously in sight of Lokena and Ixion, two of the few who had some more business to conduct before heading to their home planes. When they cast a glance his way he tossed a little object insolently into the air and snatched it again. A small heart, still bloody.
Ixion, old and experienced, showed no sign of caring but Lokena could not hide her discomfort. Atzanteotl grinned a grin that could start blood feuds and sauntered over. "Looks like you both lose. My condolences" he said with a politeness made blatantly false by the look on his face.
He awoke to a cacophony of thoughts and impressions. His ears were wrong, his eyes seemed to have spectacles with warped lenses on, his nose was not sensitive enough and his body felt wrong and misshapen in every way. He squeezed his eyes together and tried to make sense of things. Slowly, interminably, he began to understand. Four different sets of expectations and muscle memory were trying to make sense of a fifth, unknown body. Four different voices tried to make themselves known in his head, four different personalities. Aral, the human wizard who had found the Heart of Winter in the far north. Jaques, the rotting lupin who had taken the horn of Zargon. Longjaw, the kobold who had taken soul stones from the Shadow Elves’ City of Stars. Firstly, lastly, and most importantly, he was Tomokato Katamura, whose deeds were too numerous to list. He was all of these and now he was…he did not know.
His hands roamed over his face and head and quickly noticed the unmistakable ears of an elf. He opened his shirt and saw the gaping hole where a heart should be. So. Atzanteotl still had it. That was a pretty good indication of what he needed to do. Still, first things first: he now needed to know where he was.
I know it has been many years since we last spoke and that we parted on poor terms but I hope you will at least finish reading this letter before you decide what you will do with it. I admit you have good reason to dislike me but I regret nothing of what happened between us because regret would mean I was wrong and I cannot believe that. In spite of this I beg you to set aside what resentment you might still bear for me and hear my plea.
I do not wish to say much in a letter in case it is intercepted or falls into the wrong hands but I can say it has to do with our work with the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, a secret I was certain we all would take with us to our respective graves. Either someone has come across this secret independently of us or - and I scarcely dare think the thought - one of us has given in to the temptation to use it for personal gain.
Silmeran, I beg of you, come to Ravengro and speak to me of this matter. I am an old man and cannot travel far or fast, and I must watch Harrowstone; else I would have come to you in person to plead my case. I would not tear open old wounds without good cause but there is something terrible afoot. You are the last person I would imagine breaking their word and in case one of our colleagues is involved in this matter we must work together to stop them. In any case, the Order must be warned and you are the only one I can trust.
With deepest humility,
The second letter was much shorter.
It is with heavy heart that I write to you to inform you of the death of my father, Petros Lorrimar. He died yesterday in a terrible accident. The burial will take place three weeks from today and I hope to see you there as there is something I must discuss with you.
Ravengro, 12 Ambyrmont
The language was Thyatian, probably a Glantrian dialect. He was unfamiliar with Ravengro but the name could indicate Glantri as well. Better keep his divine abilities and worship a secret, then. Tomokato put the letters inside his coat and took stock of his possessions. His bow, a weapon as mighty as any he had encountered in his lives, with a quiver of arrows. Daggers, a rapier, a pack with some food and rope. Nothing else. He took a deep breath and use his daggers to dig a shallow grave for the hapless elf. Done he wiped off his hands and choose a direction on the road and started walking. There would be at least a 50% chance of heading to this Ravengro if his assumptions were correct. As he walked his thoughts drifted to his current position. Previously he had been given an audience with Lokena and then reincarnated. Granted he didn’t remember the audience or his previous life at the time but this time he remembered everything, just not any preparation by his patron. Tomokato….frowned. Tomokato was the wrong name now. He thought of the languages he knew, well over twenty, and tried to find the most esoteric and unknown of them and realized his native Myoshiman tongue was the best. Taking the name Saigo, he traveled on hoping to find more of a clue to where he should go.
The trip went quickly as he spent his time pondering his ultimate goal. Getting back his heart seemed the obvious endgame but he could not rule out there was something else going on. Hopefully once he found out precisely where he was he could get some hint about what he should do. No last meeting with his patron and the presence of his bow, a weapon powerful enough to make up for his clumsiness as he assimilated four sets of skills and retrained them to a new body. He was somewhat surprised he was allowed to keep it. Perhaps that was in itself a clue.æ
Some time after midday he came to a small town, smaller even than Melnir in the Thunder Rift where he had spent so much time. It looked a sleepy, bucolic town with plenty of fields of grain and grazing sheep. His eyes were soon drawn to the foreboding building on a hill just outside of town. “I know bad news when I see it,” Saigo said to himself. “Time to meet the locals.”
The day if the funeral is bright and cheerful, dimming even the impressive presence of Harrowstone. When Saigo mentions his intent to check the place out, Kendra begs him leave it alone and promises to speak to him about it after the funeral. Saigo respects her wishes and goes for a walk instead. He quickly notes the ruffians who go to bother the minimal procession (only Kendra was there as a mourner - the rest were pall bearers and chief Grimburrow). Saigo intercepts the ruffians, tries to talk them out of their intended actions, and rolls a nat 1 on his first roll of the campaign - an auspicious start. The ruffians turn to violence but Saigo easily disarms them even without Improved Disarm and dodges every attack they make. Faced with obvious superior skill, they mutter and leave. The rest of the funeral proceeds without interruption. Escorting Kendra home, Saigo is present for the reading of the will, which strictly speaking does not apply to him. Lacking any other recipients, Saigo offers to take care of the books for Kendra.
Saigo reveals his discovery to Kendra and she claims ignorance of it and is more than happy for Saigo to take the things and get them out of the house. She has no need of arrows and does not want to have contraband in her house. She is surprised that her father even knew how to get this stuff. Kendra then tells Saigo everything she knows. She knew her father was fascinated with Harrowstone. Harrowstone started as a workshop started by Hawkran McGregor, a small twig on the family tree of the Klantyre’s ruling clan. McGregor was interested in using magic to treat criminals to prevent them from breaking the law again after being caught. He wanted a more permanent solution than a spell which could be dispelled, so founded Harrowstone and used it as a prison-laboratory. The rumors of what went on were unpleasant [think A Clockwork Orange only less family friendly] but things were pretty calm for the villagers. One day a fire broke out and killed everyone there. It soon became apparent that the ruins were haunted but soon after the fire another McGregor came and put up wards which limited the spirits to the grounds of the prison, unable or unwilling to lay them properly to rest. Since then Harrowstone has been a creepy but harmless feature of Ravengro. Children dare one another to spend the night there but few even make the attempt. No one in the town has actually been bothered by the spirits though plenty of people like to blame it for any bad luck they may experience.
When Kendra was a child she and her father moved here and he exhibited a great interest in Harrowstone. His interest and his outsider origin caused some friction with the locals, as evidenced by the ruffians at the funeral, but Kendra had no inkling that it was anything more than academic interest until just before her father’s demise. He had suddenly become very serious and spent a lot of time in his study or at the ruins, neglecting almost everything else, including food and sleep. Finding him dead only a few days after this sudden change in behavior was suspicious but Kendra found no one else interested in trying to uncover a possible murder - the rest of the town was more than happy to write it off as an accident and leave it at that.
Now that Saigo is so conveniently here and seems so trustworthy, she asks if he could possibly help her. Seasoned adventurer as he is, Saigo says he’s way ahead of her, stocks up and heads to Harrowstone.
He spends a few minutes outside trying to interpret the remnants of the arcane sigils on the walls and correctly identifies both the now broken necromantic wards that kept the spirits trapped and the newer ritual that summoned and trapped a specific spirit. He uses one of the Hide From Undead scrolls and makes his way through Harrowstone. The spell dulls most of the haunts as well as prevents him from being seen by undead. Sadly this does not help against stirges so the second scroll goes as well after that fight. It also doesn’t help against the gray ooze but instead of fighting it he just leads it out into the rest of the complex and lets it handle most of the lesser corporeal undead before it finally dies.
He sees the more powerful undead like the headless burning skeleton and decides he does need to clean things out but now that he knows to a large extent what he is facing he feels more confident in attacking things head on. With Hide From Undead still active he pulls a bed from another cell and blocks the room where the burning skeleton is pacing and then attacks. The first arrow deals about one third the creature’s hit points in damage. The skeleton turns and moves after Saigo but crashes into the barricade and spends its round getting past. The second arrow hurts it even more and the skeleton’s axe fails to connect with Saigo. The final arrow fells the fell dead and Saigo is immediately set upon by the Lopper. The Lopper hurts Saigo a bit but is no match for ghost touch arrows and a smite. Saigo cleans out the rest of the haunts and undead and nothing else comes close to harming him thanks to his good saves and powerful weapon. He converses with Vesorianna and learns the details of Petros’ death and the abduction of Hawkran’s spirit. With hostile spirits defeated and a a proper priest performing last rites and bathing the place in holy energy, the haunts of Harrowstone are no more.
Saigo returns to Kendra to inform her of his findings and make ready his next move.
So years ago IRL and more years ago in game, one PC pulled the Tyrant from the Harrow Deck of Many Things. He's been sitting on it so long I had forgotten it until he brought it up yesterday because he's in a bit of a pickle and this would be an easy out if it worked. Problem is, we disagreed on how the card is supposed to work.
The character gains the one-time ability to issue a single command to any creature in the multiverse and have the order obeyed. The target is affected as if by the spell Dominate Monster, and even orders for the target to kill itself are followed. Any creature targeted by this effect knows that it is acting against its will, and knows the identity and location of the character. Immortal creatures cannot effectively kill themselves, and the act only causes them considerable but fleeting pain. Additionally, creatures with the ability to grant such boons typically also possess the power to revoke them, and do so as soon as the command releases them. The GM ultimately decides what this command can accomplish. The character may use this card’s effect whenever he wishes, but may only use it once.
I argued that since it says it works as Dominate Monster it is subject to the same limitations as Dominate Monster, with the noted exception that you can command the target to kill themself. The target still receives a saving throw and any immunities to compulsions they may have, and the effect is still subject to SR.He argued that since the first line says the command is obeyed there are no limits to who can be commanded and no way of avoiding it. To make matters more interesting he's considering using it on an Immortal (i.e. god).
Any input would be appreciated.
Interesting. As with everything, this really depends on how undeath, souls and Clone work in your game.
Off hand I would say you cannot make undead out of inert objects. There is no life there to corrupt.
Even assuming that the clone body is a valid target, does vampirism need a soul to corrupt or will a living but soulless body work? It would be fun to have mindless ravening vampires from corrupted clones but if you assume vampirism is a curse as much as a disease I wouldn't think it would work without a soul to attach to.
Assuming 3.x Clone I might possibly allow the clone to be a vampire if the soul tries to transfer to it. Equally possiblly I would rule that the clone is ruined as a host for the soul. Depends on how dickish I'm feeling at the moment and what would be best for the story. Assuming pre-3.x Clone it would absolutely work.
Frame it less as an all-out assault and more as a scouting mission or a raid. Go there, assertain the number of enemies, do some stuff to weaken them, then return with usable intel to plan a proper assault. If they figure out it's going easily enough to take out the entire place, great. If not, they can go back and request reinforcements.