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So, I didn't see one of these anywhere in particular, but I thought I'd create a place to talk about it. Given Paizo's community, and the fact that our very own Crystal Frasier woo! was asked to write an entry for their newly Kickstarted revision, it seems like an RPG - or at least a setting - that would be at least moderately popular around the community.
So who here plays it? Do you use the current d20 variant rules, or did you convert to True20, or PF rules, or some other system? Are you looking forward to the A.G.E. rules, or do you prefer the d20 chassis, at present?
If you use the system, do you use the setting? Related, do you know many (any?) other Romantic Fantasy settings?
I'll hopefully pop in with a few of our own stories soon, but I wanted to open this up.
Hopefully, this can be going pretty strong when the new Kickstarted one finally hits the shelves! (Still sad about that lack of Steam Punk, though! Arg! :D)
Have at thee, may the fires of Leonoth guide you to the light, and hail to Queen Jaellin!
Starting out with a request instead of a story (sort of)...
So, hey: anyone know a suitably "intense" sound that can also be used for a courtroom drama/heavy exposition with no actual combat?
The situation: the PC finds herself having to defend a psychic bond between a rhy-cat and a young man (not quite legal age, aka "15 and three months" out of sixteen) as not only not vile sorcery (it's not), but also not of evil intent (it's not), and natural (it is).
She must do this as a foreign diplomat - from Aldis - in a land of devoted theocratists who believe that it is vile sorcery, of evil intent, and unnatural (Jarzon).
Basically, intense, but not "action" or "violent" in tone.
She has a solid logical, legal, and religious argument, but must present it in such a way as to force the Keeper's Council and Hierophant (basically the high priest council - akin to cardinals of the Catholic church mixed with the council of lords in other countries - and the king-/pope-equivalent) in such a way that it doesn't cause a diplomatic issue.
(Such an event would normally be swept under the rug and ignored by such high-profile, powerful people; the decision would be left in the hands of whatever local Keeper - i.e. "priest" - was in charge of a given area, and probably little thought would be involved, however it's kind-of not possible when its the son of one of the council members themselves. Also, the animal - a rhycat - is a citizen of Aldis who traveled there as a merchant, and was caught up in an exceptionally unlikely event. Sooooooo... diplomatic nightmare!)
One key as a possibility of making this happen at all is that many of the men are honest, despite their deep-seated devotion to certain cultural mindset that they currently hold. Effectively, if she's persuasive enough, they'll be forced to agree.
Hopefully, she can do so in such a way as to not start an internecine war in Jarzon.
That particular passage of their scripture is generally described as being metaphorical, but it's an impossible argument to hold - it's part of a series of decrees (right in the middle of them, in fact), all of the rest of which are literal (and, as a whole, described as such at least three different other occasions), and all of which are accepted as such, with the one line being given exclusive "that's not what that means" status among the whole. Of course, the entire passage can be declared metaphorical, but then that means that many of the things that are literally applied have to be dropped entirely, which opens up a whole different and dangerous bag of worms.
Oh, uh, hopefully it would be something extendable and just able to be left "on" instead of having to repeatedly restart it (which kind of kills the mood for intense RP to have the GM fumbling around with either mouse or iDevice to hit the thing). Thanks!
EDIT 2: Oh, and Chrono Trigger's The Trial is really good, but it doesn't quite have the "feel" of "make this diplomacy count or two countries could go to war, and/or one might be shredded by a civil war that kills many innocents" vibe...
Though I do have that ready to go, "just in case"...
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Like I mentioned in the other thread, my go-to recommendation would be something from the Phoenix Wright games. The entire game series is about a lawyer working on cases, and half of it is as a result set in a courtroom with appropriate (IMO) music.
You should be able to find playlists by searching "Phoenix Wright OST playlist" on YouTube; once you find one you like, just search "Phoenix Wright (song name) Extended" and you should have little to no trouble finding a 15-30 minute version. Alternatively, copy-paste the url over to InfiniteLooper.
BIG EDIT: BAM! Gyakutan (Phoenix Wright) Meets Orchestra. Orchestral covers of Phoenix Wright soundtrack songs.
|Irnk, Dead-Eye's Prodigal|
Thanks, Orthos! Pretty good... but I'm not sure it's quite what I'm looking for... but I do think they're even better than The Trial, so I'll hold onto 'em!
(It feels a bit too "peppy" or something, maybe? I'm not sure what the quality is that I'm looking for. These consistently feel more like train chases than presenting a tense issue to avoid a needless execution or war. They're really good, though!)
So... story time, I suppose, since others haven't yet gotten to it!
First, some clarifications on our game.
(Because it's unusual. Like me.)
There is a single PC who has various allies and compatriots from time to time, as the story demands, not as the adventure. To make for this somewhat (and their tendency to vary wildly in level), the PC was made with "1.5 times the (generic) things you usually get" - so more feats, more skills, and more ability points.
At the end of every adventure from a prescribed set, she "learns something" - i.e. gains an additional skill known. At the end of three "adventures" (they tend to be short) she gains one level.
Having chosen a vata'an* she acquired some nice arcane things. Having chosen expert**, she was skilled. Having chosen a very high charisma, a solid wisdom, and a decent intelligence, with entirely unremarkable physical stats, she was primed to be a diplomat and a healer. Her name was Brianna Lancaster, or "Bree" to her friends.
* Vata are a humanoid race akin to a cross between half-elves/-drow and aasimar/tieflings. Born to humans more or less at random, they are descended from the mythical (and now extinct) vatazin. They come with small innate arcane abilities (arcana is a kind of skill-based magic system). Vata'an are the half-elf/aasimar-like creatures; generally pale with fair features, though they are always depicted (never described) with lines around their eyes. Vata'sha are the drow-like equivalent - though still born to humans at random, they were the result of the vata'an being experimented on by eeeeeeeevil sorcery (sorcery = corruption magic).
** Three classes: adept (primary arcana user), expert (six skill points! middling other things!), and warrior (all about that base, 'bout that base a-taa~aack).
She chose a reasonable starting age - a freshly appointed noble hot out of school, and ready to make the world better.
So, naturally, before I let her play the character she chose and created, I made her play a younger, even less-experienced non-noble version of that character, who had her first ever "adventure" in school, two years before graduation, with her three friends - the older Alysha, and the younger Dorian and Jann. (I... let her keep her stats.)
She'd used her excess feats well, and had chosen to go with fascinate (like a bard, but just through something like bluff, diplomacy, intimidate, or perform, rather than magic; she chose Diplomacy), and suggestion (similar), and mass suggestion (again, by use of Diplomacy).
But what could I have in store for her first-ever adventure?!
Something taken from the book. So... spoilers.
EDIT: put in a new post, 'cause daggum that was larger than I intended.
* The country of Aldis is "the" country of the setting, with others, like Jarzon, Kern, and Rezea, bordering it. The name "Aldis" is shared both by the country, and it's capital city. So Aldis's capital is... Aldis.
Brianna sat, enjoying the day, and eating lunch in companionable silence with her stoicly grim friend Jann (actually also named Brianna, but nicknamed Jann for various reasons in an effort to avoid confusing the two)*, and Dorian** - the latter of whom was also absorbed in a book. The view from the quad was gorgeous, and fair. Jann quietly hummed to herself weaving flowers in the vata'an's hair, as she tried different styles and looks. Brianna's ever-excitable, energetic, and equally-justice-loving but far more adventurous and eager friend, Alysha***, came bounding up to the table, eager with "news" for her fellows.
* Brianna "Jann" is a hardy, flower-loving swords-expert from a deceased family who's aunt's entire life-savings had gone into purchasing her an education in the very exclusive Briarwood Academy in the town of Briarwood, near the capital. She is grim, having lost the rest of her family, and most of her village to a Kernish raid when she was little.
** Dorian is a shy, bookish fellow, and a caria... though he's found exactly zero other guys with whom he can relate - and the few who he might be interested in, he can't come close to doing anything about due to his excessive shyness. Doesn't stop Jann or Alysha from trying to get him to hook up, though! Brianna is much more patient, having been relentlessly pushed toward some romance as well, despite her current lack of interest.
*** Alysha is the great granddaughter of one of the former queens - Queen Fashi - and the child of two nobles. Though a swordswoman, like Jann, where the former wields large and heavy blades, Alysha prefers lighter, faster weaponry. Skilled with a rapier and diplomacy, she's always dreamed of the romantic imagery of the Rose Knights - those elite few of the Sovereign Guard - and longs for a life devoted to the Sovereign. She excels at her classes, and the future title of "noble" is all but guaranteed.
The friends were their own little circle of folks - not exactly misfits, as Brianna was far too lovely and capable, and Alysha far too outgoing; but not exactly "social" either, what with the excessively bookish and awkward Dorian, and the ever-protective and usually-grim (except when teasing her friends) Jann - the fact that both of the latter came from relatively financially-poor families and were here through "barely afforded" means (a scholarship for Dorian, and a sacrificial aunt for Jann) didn't help. They had other friends (or at least acquaintances and/or crushes, in Dorian's case), of course, but these were their best friends. A solid cadre of folk to talk (or not) with, to eat (or not) with, and to generally enjoy being together. Of the four, Alysha was almost always the one to press them into doing... anything. Though Brianna occasionally found something she wanted to attend, or Jann something she wanted to witness or practice, Dorian would otherwise just retire into his room to read and study (and, incidentally, hide from any of his crushes).
And so Alysha thought it generally rested on her own shoulders to get the group out to doing things. Alysha was a great motivator... all she needed to do was convince Brianna, who could, in turn, convince everyone else! A perfect system!
And so she came! With news! Exciting (if terrible) nnnnooooooozzzzz!
... after some humorous silence, Brianna finally asked - as she knew she'd been supposed to - about the news.
"Bandits!" Alysha explained, breathlessly, filled with awe and wonder and outrage all at once. "There are rumors of bandits! Not just rumors, either!"
A grim look overcame Jann, Dorian managing to entirely ignore what is probably the most significant thing anyone in history has ever said, while a dubious look spread across Brianna's face. There were no bandits this far south - and so near the capital! "I question your sources." replied Brianna. But then, more gently, "But I'm sure if there are, the city will take care of it quickly. Probably by tomorrow!" she said, with a comforting hand to her friend. Ridiculous - bandits! But even if there were some sort of criminal activities, Aldis had the greatest criminal justice system of any country in the world - and one day, Brianna would be part of it. There was nothing to fear here. And that, as it were, was that. Jann, knowing Brianna was right, went back to styling hair. Dorian continued to not know what was being said.
"But that's just the thing!" Alysha explained, fervently. Why didn't they get this? "They're not taking care of it! This is the eighth raid in two-and-a-half weeks!" Arg! Her friends needed to understaaaaaaaannnnnd~!
"Again," said Brianna, now ever-more-dubious, "look into your sources of rumors." That couldn't be true. The envoys or Briarwood guard, or the local magistrate's staff would have handled it. Even the noble. Silly stories indeed. How could Alysha fall for such.
"But it's not a rumor!" Alysha came back in an outburst. Then, settling, looking around, she started more quietly, but no less fiercely, "Look: I know it's not a rumor, 'cause I saw it myself!"
Brianna sat upright at this. "You saw the bandits? Why aren't you reporting this to the authorities?"
"No, no!" Alysha explained, "Not the bandits! The home! Look, I was doing my daily jog, okay? Going on a milk run - you know how much better milk tastes when its fresh - but then I was passing by one of the farms, the house was wrecked! Doors were broken, stuff was strewn everywhere, and a number of things were just... gone! Entirely! There were a few of the local magistrate's men talking with the farmers, but I learned there that it's 'allegedly' been going on for weeks! Asking around a bit, I learned that it has been going on for weeks. The kicker is that the bandits don't take 'normal' things! It's so weird! They act like bandits, but... not! There's lots of stuff they leave that could be, or should be portable, and they tend to wreck things in ways that bandits normally wouldn't when in such a populated area!"
Brianna was genuinely starting to consider the possibilities of Alysha's story. But still... so far-fetched. "Surely, though, the local authorities-"
"Aren't doing anything!" interrupts Alysha. "They're just... just... sitting there with their thumbs up their... noses!" she finishes, glancing up at a disproving Jann.
"But, look," replies Brianna, "even if the magistrate isn't available, surely either his master, the local noble, um... Lord Darrol, right? Yes. Surely either he or the traveling noble, Lady Layanoh* would do something. They're nobles! It's they're job!" Brianna protested firmly, but politely. It would be her job, one day, too. To ensure that others would do the right thing. She would help order and keep all of Aldis in harmony by doing her part as a noble in The System - it worked, after all. She knew it did. Her parents both passed the test to become nobles, and she would too.
* I might be remembering her name wrong. My notes aren't accessible at present.
"But they haven't." explains Alysha. "And someone needs to figure out why." she says, firmly.
"'uhh." Brianna sighs - with a slight edge to it. "And you want it to be us, right?" she says, eyebrow arching high. "We're not the authority, yet. They are. I'm not about to break the law just so-"
"No!" interrupts, Alysha. "No, I don't 'want' it to be us, it's not about me. It needs to be us, because, regardless of 'authority', they're not doing anything about it! So who else?" She looks squarely at Brianna, challenging, yet pleading. A friend in need. "And," she adds quickly, "definitely nothing illegal... nothing is more foolish than fighting shadow with shadow." An old aphorism... but appropriate.
"What this about bandages?" asks Dorian, coming out of his book.
Ignoring him, Brianna steeples her fingers, convinced. "Okay, fine. If neither magistrate, nor local noble, nor traveling noble are currently acting on this, we'll do something." She looks at Jann who nods firmly and grimly, and Dorian, who just kind of shrugs his ascent.
"Yes." says Alysha.
"So, the first step is to bring this to the attention of the authorities." says Brianna.
"Whaat?!" asks Alysha in confusion, "But, I thoug-"
"And we have to do it in a way that gets their attention and makes them listen." She stands, firmly, and looks around, searching for the local noble's son, Dain Vechevni - he and his posse had made several invitations to Brianna and Alysha (though not to Jann or Dorian) which they'd declined, and were very popular and influential. But, much more valuable and important than any of that nonsense: they were contacts - people who could be used to get the attention of valid authority.
Brianna stood, and walked confidently over to them, as they were lounging, chuckling at some joke or another. All but one of Dain's posse of six was present, including Yarrin (that lanky and tall grim blonde guy), Gogo (the self-chosen name of an exceptionally outgoing seafolk), and others*.
* I've... kind of forgotten them. I believe that one was a Rezean with adept potential (I think he was missing), one was a daughter of a wealthy Jarzoni expatriate, and one was the rhy-bonded daughter of a city-Roamer from Aldis. I... could be wrong about that, though.
"Lancaster!" Dain radiated a smile, mirrored by Gogo. Yarrin blushed somewhat, but grimaced a bit. Eyebrow arched, Jann grimaced back, a tad bit more. They proceeded to have a minor ellipses-off during the ensuing conversation. The remaining two female faces dimmed, though one replaced it with that kind of smile that's both rueful, but not really able to hold it against someone. The last just put on an entirely fake smile. Both had just been... leaning... across the table toward Dain, though now their postures were more upright, and partially turned away to see the newcomers. "Jarlane." he added slightly more cooly to Alysha, to which she responded with a single nod. The eye of the fake smiler twitched slightly. "To what do I owe the pleasure? Changing your mind? Joining the cool kids?" His smile grew. Faker's eye twitched again.
Finding he was (pleasantly enough) being ignored, Dorian returned to his book.
Putting her personal distaste aside, Brianna smiled, though with an expression of serious professionalism. "Actually, a serious matter has come to our attention." Brianna calmly and smoothly went right into it.
"Oh! Right to business, alas..."" muttered Gogo, eyeing Dain out of the corner of her eye.
Brianna, ignoring this, smoothly continued, sitting across from him, between the two girls. "I'll get right to it." she said, seriously, "There is a serious problem plaguing Briarwood of late." she explains, to somewhat bemused expressions of Dain and crew. "There is a plague of banditry causing mischief and mayhem and they must be stopped immediately."
Though it was subtle, the entire tone of the meeting just... switched. Like turning off a warming shas crystal, leaving nothing but a cold breeze, the company suddenly became chilly. Yarrin almost lost his ellipses-off with Jann, the fake smile stopped trying entirely, and both Dain and the rueful girl's smiles became plastered on. The change was almost imperceptible... but palpable. The only one still smiling broadly was Gogo, with the exact inscrutable expression as everyone else. The sudden change was noticed by both Brianna and all of her friends, in spite of the efforts of Dain and his crew. Dorian continued to pretend to read, but was paying sharp attention, now, while Jann subtly tensed, ready to spring into action if need-be. Alysha casually rested a hand on the hilt of her rapier - no biggie.
Hair on the back of her head rising, realizing they could be in extremely deep trouble, she decided to forge ahead, but changing plans on the fly. Getting from Dain to his father to get something done legally was "out" - and suddenly it made sense why the magistrate, having been put into position by Lord Darrol, would be likely to look the other way of the wrongdoing of his superior's son... so that left the unknown quantity, that vata'sha traveling noble. Her new goal.
Passionately, she begins a speech of the necessity of Dain and friends, and Brianna and friends working together to do absolutely whatever it took to ensure that the city no longer suffered under the predatory eye of the bandits and their destructive ways. She informs them that she has an idea, and that their wealth and importance are able to help her to accomplish: they need to get the attention of the traveling noble and give all of the information they have to her, and become heroes, hopefully even giving the bandits a chance to come clean and become respected and valuable members, instead of reviled jerks that no one likes.
Fires up the fascinate, and suggest (and mass) feats, by powering up her Diplomacy. She also makes an untrained Bluff check against their Sense Motive checks. Diplomacy roll: 20. Not enough on it's own. Will saves to oppose her DC: three 1s and a 4... and one 20. One failed will save against Jann's intimidate later, and she, too, is following the group.
As Brianna exhorts her friends, and Dain's group, they travel all the way to the noble's mansion - a house kept for any traveling nobles that rest in Briarwood - and meet the guards (two of the Sovereign Guard). After a little persuasion from Alysha, the guards retrieved the noble. The door opened, and all anyone saw was armor, axes, and the tallest and most terrifyingly muscled man any of the students had ever seen.
He permitted them to enter, and a young vata'sha, barely older than the characters who'd come to her, timidly came forth to listen. The mountainous man of muscles and death stood behind the students.
With a brief introduction by Brianna (who led off with a "this is important, yet we must show both mercy and strength, helping mend all the ruined lives" type speech) she yielded the floor.
More cajoling by the noble (with, Brianna noticed, mountainous muscle man's encouragement, and silent suggestions) and a little more by Brianna and Alysha was needed, and one final use of her suggest feat (which went unnoticed by all but Mr. Muscles) but in the end, confessions were wrung from Dain and his group, and the entire story - bored young noble-heirs with nothing better to do decided to cause some mischief. Sorry for what they'd done, they were overcome with guilt when chided and shown the harm their actions had caused to innocents, and were sentenced to hard work to help in the recovery and restitution (and more!) of those who were harmed.
And the mystery of the "Briarwood Bandits" was solved almost immediately by high sense motives, low bluffs, one phenomenal diplomacy roll, and poor will saves. Excellent.
Brianna would go on to learn that Yarrin was the bastard older son of Darrol - making him Dain's older brother, but unrecognized - and a man who was never given love or care. Unlike the others, he'd joined, not from being bored, but bitter and frustrated with his lot in life. So, though she didn't have or want any romantic interests, she became something he'd never truly had, even among Dain's group: a friend. She sponsored his way through rehabilitation, school, and personally paid for all the things he'd need to get onto the polo team. Gogo, in the meanwhile, was so impressed with Brianna that she briefly pursued a relationship (she was turned down, which phased her not at all) and then pursued an alliance (which was mostly one-sided, which didn't phase her at all), and settled into a relationship with Dain. The others slowly just... went their own ways, as the cohort just... broke apart.
Of course, the traveling noble, the Mr. Muscles, Alysha, Jann, and Dorian, and, perhaps, some others would become vital, reoccurring figures in our game. But that is not today. Today, Brianna and friends, the noble, and Muscle Man just... went to lunch. And Brianna's circle of friends grew by two.
(And Mr. Muscles ate an enormous burrito given him by an excessively smitten Brianna while intimidating rambunctious students into behaving.)
So, that was a lot bigger and a lot more in-depth than intended. Feel free to make your campaign recollections even bigger! Or much, much shorter! For example:
So my PC, after refusing the quest hook for a little while, decided the best course of action was to get the attention of legitimate authority to let them handle it. Instead, she chose the exact people who (secretly) were the problem-causers to talk about solving the problem.
Due to a momentary misunderstanding, she saw through their attempts at covering, and used mad-awesome Diplomancy to walk them up to the authorities and got them to confess on pain of "those other people are really seriously hurt by your actions"... all while being a school-girl working on earning her nobility.
^ This is also an acceptable length of story-stuff. Fun times...
|Crystal Frasier Assistant Developer|
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I've run two short games, but we were a little frustrated with the d20 system's weakness when it comes to political and social play. In one, the PCs were nobles in the capital trying to track down a secret society of nobles that had been controlling grain prices, leading to famine. It was probably my first political intrigue game and probably a little rough.
My other campaign was more tongue-in-cheek. In the original Blue Rose, the only mention of transgender characters existing was in the gender paragraph, and asked if a trans character would risk corruption to modify themselves with unnatural magic, and it gave me an idea for a game that sort of mirrored the mainstream gay rights movement, where it was awesome and acceptable to be gay, but being transgender was horrible and embarrassing and sexist, so the happy fantasy kingdom had special camps to "educate" trans kids and adults into compliance, and the PCs were prisoners trying to escape on of these camps (the situation in Blue Rose was very obviously an error of omission/inexperience--just a few things that were innocent on their own that added up to an ominous message if you looked for them, and I'm happy to say this won't be the case with the new edition).
One of the things that we try to do is allow each nation to half fit it's fluff and half its own propaganda, with a few darker elements woven in. Thus, Jarzon, while restrictive and harsh, is honestly after the Light, and is better than it seems in the book: in fact, so great is their genuine faith that a local unknown Wellspring in Leogarth has become a secretly centralized expression of that faith: will saves and psychic shield get a +10 boost; darkfiends and sorcerers take -10 penalties, and Fire recieved +2 in all non-corrupt hands. (And, while present, the Heirophant gains a +10 to Cure, Ward, and Heal, and is outright immune to Psychic arcana, while destructive arcana is minimized.) The whole world has shadows within - dark bits of malice and madness that creep subtly in the strangest ways - and we show this with the darker sides of Jarzon, Resean, Aldin, and Roamer cultures as known quantities. Several things deemed corrupt or sorcery by either Jarzon or Aldis are not (and a few things they don't consider sorcery are).
Jarzon's success (and the costs and burdens) have been demonstrably shown, and we've been sure to see the seedy underbelly of Aldis.
That said, our characters are Aldin, and are extremely loyal and devoted at that. Currently, the PC is kind of hopped up on arcane power that can (literally) topple armies... and she deferred to the queen and Director when they preferred to let others handle some thing, even when she could have done it better or more efficiently. And she still holds them as friends, despite the fact that some of hers died. What has been really fascinating is the change in tone and character - Jarek struck out in retaliation for an important successful maneuver, and she has now become a kind of super-crusader, devoted to the elimination of Kern, and the ever-deepening alliance between countries.
Anyway, more later, maybe.
So... question for those knowledgable about the setting, or those who can contact any who are: what is Grala's Rest? There are two places on the map of Jarzon that are thoroughly unexplained: Grala's Rest and Yazan - both in the northern part of the country. I'm guessing that Yazan is a large city or settlement, considering it's a Farsi word that means "resolved" or "determined"... and it's one of the farthest northern dots on the map.
But Grala's Rest is even further north, and I may just be skipping over it, but I can't find it in the text. The only reference I can find to a "Grala" at all is the Lar'tyan island... not exactly a candidate for anything Jarzoni...
All of the other maps are better explained than Jarzon's, though sometimes that is hidden... does anyone know what the intent of these two things were? Am I missing something? Was something cut for space or time? Im really curious as I was planning on using this for something, but I also like in-game lore, soooooo... I'd appreciate any info!
Specifically, I'm looking at World of Aldea, for the record. Thanks!
For the record, a guy named RPGpundit gave a review I've seen in the past, but don't have and don't feel a burning need to find. The short version is that he loves the system, but hates the setting (feeling the book is overly-preachy and heavy-handed; some of his criticism and critiques are fair, but his basic premise is flawed, and he - ironically, in the coincidental way - comes off as overly-preachy and heavy-handed). If you'd like you can find it, and I may post it, but am looking for information he didn't have sooooo... away!
Also: aaaaaaaarrrrrrgggg: why is it so hard to find more information on Aldea?! I've resorted to repainting a dungeon crawl from Eberron inside a teleporting volcano that is literally off the map... (though that is pretty cool, I've gotta admit...).
More accurately, the lair is stable, but you have to get their by passing through more than one well-hidden, still-functional shadow gate: ones that weren't corrupted by the Sorcerer kings. But "teleporting volcano" sounds cooler...
Yes, yes: BR isn't a dungeon-crawl game. But when you've got a player who can be invisible and cloud minds and shapeshift and summon elementals... you kinda want to see them do it, you know?
Anyway, currently a pixie is riding on the head of a stone statue into which she summoned an earth elemental. It was pretty awesome when she used her elementals to devastate those vampiric aberrations and then shunted them out into the volcano which, in turn, with its periodic blasts of hot air, shunted their vapor forms out into the bright, bright sun with no hiding spots. Kind of poetic.
Monster (original/root) - brief description
Xiekivi (kobold) - always-female, with semi-random individuals who change gender to make in response to the needs of the community; shadow-spawn that hatch from eggs
Dollokvrenys (dolgaunt) - aberrant a created by sorcery and darkfiends, these were amalgamations of human, squid, ettercap, and an unknown extinct race and, unlike the original, have an ettercap' abilities with webs, and a squid's ink, though the latter is mostly worthless on land and they are not inherently amphibious
Waruiithid (mind flayer) - an alien aberrant kind of creature that arrived after Anwaren's madness from another existence entirely; they occasionally still arrive, though scattered and isolated due to their method of travel; still, though no foothold has ever been established, they are (over-all) attempting to prove for and ultimately colonize this world for themselves; though alien, it was their presence that influenced and taught darkfiends how to make aberrant creatures in the first place
Thricthric (nothic) - a kind of psychotic "pet" made by darkfiends for aberrant slaves ages ago; controllable only by sorcery
Naushindirstoth (grimlock) - a servant race crafted by dark fiends and sorcery
Malsvirvakil - the seven gods (exarch of shadow) that are worshiped by the unknown humanoid (but inhuman) race. Their "herald" was (incorrectly believed to be) a darkfiend devourer ([ooc]a kind of darkfiend that looks like a worm with tentacles around its mouth, a gate directly to shadow in its third gullet, and who also sometimes devours darkfiends to produce a shadow aligned "light eater" slime (a "good eater" from book of fiends)[ooc]) who was said to deliver the souls of the dead to their rightful place at their gods' side (the Shadow itself). Comes from [malsvir (evil) vakil (seven)], though none worshiping them had that in mind.
Tundaranqu (a blend of goblins, dwarves, worgs, and barghests, though the latter were fiendish offspring) - the unknown (now-extinct) inhuman race of short stature and shadowy temperment. Their interaction with darkfiends and aberrants are what permitted these early mortals to live and thrive, but also what gave darkfiends such power before the interference of the gods of twilight and advent of the gods of light. These are a primal shadow-aligned mortal race. Some descendant sub-species still live, but they are dying out, as most have reincarnated into human-kind, which lack their innate malevolent predisposition (though not inherently shadow-aligned, they are greatly predisposed to it, due to the origin of their race).
Whedabkavar - darkfiends; confused with the gohesh (aberrations) and the terms are used interchangeably.
EDIT: this is, effectively, to broaden the world and history a bit to get Hamunaptra, Freeport, Marshulpa, and a few other settings integrated, as well as placing ancient twists into the myths, reminiscent of Faerunian and Eberron ancient history, though very, very different from those settings' histories.
For the record, history, as it is known, extends 1,500 years into antiquity in the Blue Rose setting, with the founding of the city Aldis.
800 years past, the Old Kingdom was destroyed and overrun by the Empress of Thorns, who died a century later.
600 years past, the long Shadow Wars started, eventually culminating in the destruction of almost all of the Sorcerer kings, 350 years ago, and the re-founding of the city of Aldis, as the capital of the country of Aldis (also Jarzon).
Though it's had many monarchs, Aldis had one - a vata'an - who ruled over a quarter (almost a third) of its existence (about 90 years). She was... popular.
A solid understanding of history only stretches back about four hundred to five hundred years or so; though the gist of prior is pretty firmly established, many specifics are lost. And nothing but myth remains prior to 1,500 years ago.
Hence, I'm taking the opportunity to weave in history that was probably pretty important in its time... but has been effectively forgotten today.
Related: in Hamunaptra, the "Zep Tepi" was the advent of the Four Primordials from the Sea of Possibility (and Twilight); the sea itself is alternately any, Atum, Ptah, or Amun. In this, the four are depicted variously as eight (two each) forming the Ogdoad, the four first offspring of Atum, or so on.
Wikipedia this puppy, for the curious. I lack the Hamunaptra source book(s) so anything I make will be vaguely inspired rather than lifted (unless I somehow get that book); similarly with Freeport, and Marshulpa doesn't work as-written anyway, due to system differences.
I've also introduced the basics of the Rajahs (kings of Marshulpa), Traders (genericly Asian, though most heavily leaning on the Chinese for inspiration), and the Land of the Rising Sun (Japanologue) through the eyes of a lost rajah who recently lost his kingdom and ended up very lost. The similarities aside, these are definitively fantasy versions... and what's more romantic fantasy-colored... so not perfect imitations of the actual peoples or even usual stereotypes (not any more than Aldis is Medditerranian/Liberal NorthWest fusion, or Rezea is Plains Indian/Mongols gestalt, anyway).
Currently, what is known, is that Marshulpa is divided into several (I'm unsure if it's six, seven, or eight; you can weigh in, if you have strong cultural knowledge or references that I lack) Empire/kingdoms with Maharajahs. Each of these have a number of Rajahs (merchant-Kings) who serve them (roughly analogous to the Sovereign/noble relationship in Aldis) and each of whom rule over a merchant city and its military forces. All of the maharajahs are in competition (sometimes mercantile, sometimes war), and there are many other horrible dangers, such as the rakshasa (an as-yet unexplained phenomenon). There is a rigid caste system, but a heavy requirement of kindness and care to temper it (lest a king fall in his next incarnation). Fakirs have been introduced as court philosopher/priests. It should be obvious how little I know of such things by this point. :)
It is currently unclear whether this is part of a new world entirely of just really far away on Aldea.
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I realized that I referenced the relationship of the Sovereign and nobles ins Aldis.
Then I realized that some might have no idea what I'm talking about.
Let's fix that!
In Aldis, there is a Sovereign, and four councils (only one of which can actually pass laws, and only three of which are actually known to eachother).
The first, law-making council, is the Sovereign's council, comprising of the Sovereign (either king or queen) and representatives from the other three. The sovereign gets two votes, the rest get one.
The others are the Nobles council, the Merchant's council, and the Rhydan's council.
The nobles council is elected from among the nobility by the nobility; there are 36 members of the council, one of which is a director (and Sovereign's Council rep) - they are all elected every two years, and choose the director from among themselves. They assign nobles to tasks, and care for general governing concerns that do not result in law alterations (but might include policy changes, per review by the Sovereign). From what I can tell, they can command military action, but are automatically over-ruled by the queen of the higher up military commanders. Nobles become nobles by passing a set of tests (hypothetically able to be passed by anyone who goes through the free education system; it is a non-hereditary title) and then by passing the test of the Blue Rose (touching a magic scepter that notes that they are either not light aligned or don't have Aldis' best interests at heart - either way the test only works once, so if they fail the first time, they are never able to become a noble, a title they retain for life or until disbarred).
The merchants council is elected from the merchant's guild (after meeting requirements); there are thirty six members, again, one of whom is a president (and Sovereign's Council rep); all of whom are elected every four years, and choose the president from among themselves. They generally govern the merchant's guilds policies. They can request military intervention in deadly situations, from what I can tell, and are influential, but cannot order the military or Finest.
The Rhydan council is composed of psychic rhy-creatures (almost exclusively cats and horses, it seems) who care about human politics; there is no governing system, but instead votes are held psychically from across the continent to elect a single representative to the Sovereign's council. They govern nothing else.
The military is the Sovereign's Guard - a relatively small, elite force that relies more on complementary forces of local volunteer militia from among the free people of an area than personal military might. There is an elite division called the Knights of the Blue Rose, or "Rose Knights" who are the best of the Sovereign's Guard.
The other major governmental organization is the Sovereign's Finest: a group of trouble shooters and adventurers who are governed by a Director and his four psychic assistants. Either they are sent on specific missions, stationed at a location to supplement (or even be) the local equivalent of a constabulary (which are the responsibility of a given local noble), sent to work with traveling nobles, or otherwise assigned to do useful things. These are beholden directly to the Sovereign.
A Sovereign is a lifetime ruler, chosen after the previous Sovereign's death. After the tragic event and mourning, the nobles gather together and a golden hart stag that is magically summoned from a window. It usually chooses the sovereign from among the noble assembly, but sometimes it chooses commoners or others: there is no known way to influence this decision, as the creature is immune to sorcery. A chosen ruler is marked with a golden sigil and brought to the front, and handed the Blue Rose Scepter which (to date) has always flared with beautiful light, confirming the Sovereign. In the case of corruption or insanity (each of which has happened only once), the stag appears and removes the sigil (with a firm kick to the head and addition of an indelible gray footprint in the case of the corrupt King) and then goes and finds a new ruler. The stag is otherwise not walking around, though it was a figure integral to defeating the sorcerer kings when they oppressed others and the rebellion against the sorcerer kings happened so long ago.
Aaaaaaaaaand... that's Alids' government!
The PC has passed through four working Shadowgates... and by "working" I mean "the safety features that are a required part of creating them haven't been ripped out so they can be transformed into summoning devices for dark fiends" - you know, as you do.
Anyway, the first was under the swamp town of Mistwold.
This led to a series of questions based off of "stereotypical man" interests (like sports statistics, famous warriors, and other similar "man" things) among other tests - she passed them all, and tricked the rest.
She entered into the top of an enormous spire of weird crystal-and-metal (clearly shaped by arcana) freestanding in the middle of an impossibly tall active lava-filled volcano. There was a crude, once-mysogynistic statue that had clearly been defaced at some point in the past by crude earth shaping. She used her arcana and stealthy skills to avoid contact with living creatures and destroy the few unloving she came across in her travels (the vampires mentioned earlier, and, later, a few zombies).
She worked her way down and,below even the lava flows, discovered ancient catecombs with sarcophagi and an ossuary (and lots of niches for the bones) of an unknown race of creatures who's society seemed to worship aberrations and darkfiends.
Clearly these burial places were older than the tower. At the end of the tunnels below, she found a naga and some naushinderstoths and an unnamed choking a ration who preyed upon the naushinderstoths... and the second gate.
Through the second gate (a surprisingly easy pass), she discovered a spiral tunnel-chamber culminating in an hourglass-like central room, the first of which had thirteen men in weird crowns that covered all of their face and ears, hooked up to a central shas crystal, and in the second, a radiant Vata'sha woman with adoring slaves and a pet wolf. The latter was mostly illusion: the slaves were human zombies, tundaranqu skeletons, and a wolf skeleton, and she was ancient and ragged... and like the men, insensate.
The PC has now discovered The Prince In Silence: she uses partially real illusory projections to take on half a dozen different identities (and effective immortality), control and recieved feedback from her criminal empire, and grant the thirteen a single projection each (and similar quasi-immortality).
What happens next? We don't know yet! It's exciting!
By the way: the above is canon for our game only. The actual Prince in Silence is left entirely a mysterious figure.
In'nassi itself will be a villain later as well, tying back to ancient crimes. But that is later...
Hm... looks like it's a delayed action, preparing for assault and take down. Dramatic! Part of the wait is for after the Jarzoni trial, because she can purify the area near the Prince's throne, but any attempts at such, violence, or other similar actions are potentially corruptive, such is the abuse heaped upon it and evil used with intent from the beginning. She wants to honestly avoid all potential corruption, even doing hopefully good things, prior to the trial.
I suppose it's time for another game update!
Going back to the beginning, this is the general "start" of the campaign, after the introductory adventure last time. In this session, we established who the PC was (a noble and an envoy), how (more or less) she became both, and re-introduced one extremely important NPC!
Two years after the first adventure, the PC, Brianna Lancaster, went on to graduate and finish her education.
Though not a genius-level intellect, she had a strong mind, was exceptionally studious (though she did start taking additional time off for Polo), and generally worked hard to ace her tests to be the best young zealous (and a tad prideful) noble she could possibly be... for great justice!
Generally, Brianna avoided any but the most casual of interactions with Dain's group, except for Gogo (Gogo was interested in more, but accepted that Brianna was Cepia; instead, she often linked the two of them politically, at least in the circles of the school, even while she maintained an intimate relationship with Dain), and Yarrin (whom Brianna worked hard to support in his Polo activities*).
* Which is totally canon... in our Aldis. :)
During the final two years, the noble from before (and her body-guard, the "Mr. Muscles" from before - who's real name was Master Gravin) had periodically visited the students and enjoyed time together, when possible. Brianna had also grown a tremendous crush on the man, who's service had ended a few months prior.
Finishing strong, she graduated in a year they were having a Service Day - a holiday held once every two years where new nobles are chosen and introduced to the queen, a new council is elected, and otherwise the nobility kind of has the 'time off' as it were - and thus was able to pretty much immediately take (and pass) her noble's exam (with flying colors) and the Test of the Blue Rose, and start her career.
During Service Day, however, she made it known in the occasional casual conversation that, even as a noble, she understood the need for Envoys, and would not mind being inducted, so long as her duties did not conflict.
(She also requested the services of Master Gravin, if such was available and willing, to be part of her Guard, until any Reassignment became necessary.)
And so it was that she soon noticed a guy following her around, suspiciously. (Impressive notice check, you got there, 1st-Level!) Though subtly, she began to turn that around, until she got close enough to spook him, and, as he left, managed to track him and others who were watching (or attempting to follow) her down. Eventually, she received a message to head to a certain place on the palace grounds, which she did.
There, she was inducted into the Envoys as a Novice... if she could prove herself. She was sent through a grueling series of challenges that she wasn't meant to complete*... but thanks to her Cure and Body Control arcanum (and a couple of natural 20s), she managed to anyway**. She was then, while shivering, wet, in pain, and covered in uncomfortable substances (most of which was mud), she was forced to endure a grueling and bewildering set of examinations that she couldn't possibly know all of the answers to*, as well as hard punishments (such as revisiting parts of the course), if she failed to answer them properly. Once again, at least partially through astounding luck on d20 rolls, but also through clever wordplay and insight into the purposes beyond the questioning she exceeded expectations** to ridiculous degrees.
* It was to teach her humility and that failure was sometimes necessary and impossible to avoid**.
** It failed.
Sent through the obstacle course one more time, she was met and congratulated on passing her first test. She was dried off, given rough but serviceable clothes, slightly warmed, and sent to the office. There, she sat before an aged and skilled envoy, who informed her that she did "acceptably" on her first day of training, and that she would be coming back here for three more months, six days a week, and mastering that course, as well as a "few more" that were "worse"... and required her to sign a document to commit to the proper training protocols and Aldis. After Brianna explained that her first priority was to Aldis and the Queen (thus, if the Queen required either noble duties or envoy duties to come first, she would act on what the Queen prioritized), which was understood by the senior envoy in front of her, she signed the document without qualm or hesitation.
The envoy nodded, explained that she'd passed, and that she no longer needed to come here (it had been another test - of will, after such a hard day); instead, training would be handled as she progressed in her duties, as-needed, and periodic returns would be required, pending reviews of duties as-executed.
Breathing a huge sigh of relief (and deflating a little bit - she'd been propping herself up mostly on force of will), she shakily made her way through the partying streets to an apartment recently assigned her (which she'd also purchased).
Unfortunately, she was forced to not-quite-collapse, as a knock came at her door... to which she forced herself to look as professional, calm, and strong as possible, before opening the door... to find Master Gravin, assigned to her service for "one or two years (as needed)" - she smiled, and he helped her get to a place she could rest, to sort out important details on the 'morrow.
We generally stopped there, though we also mentioned two other team-members that were part of her entourage as a noble: the young tough-looking woman Gene, and the slightly-older frail and grumpy man Francis. Unlike Master Gravin, who took his position as "body-guard hyper-seriously, they did not stay at the apartment - they had their own accommodations. It was also made explicit: Master Gravin was not a romantic availability, as he was on the job, and this would be a conflict of interests/potential point of being compromised. This was disappointing, but understandable and accepted.