Monday, May 22, 2017

Three Guns of Scarabae

Discovered in a hidden underwater burial chamber, the legendary sword Hexenburn belonged to a king of a rain-soaked and dismal island. The machinations and maneuvers that brought the sword to the Western Territories are many and lurid; a number of tall tales circulate about the weapon’s westward move–its own sacred Manifest Destiny–and all of them feature some admixture of assassination, seduction, unholy curses, and base deceit.

Hexenburn’s form was changed–though its nature remains the same. The fabled blade was melted down and its metal used to craft an exceptionally fine pistol. 
The newly-reborn Hexenburn has had a number of supernatural powers attributed to it. It’s said to give its bearer a powerful, commanding presence. It’s also a boon companion for gunfighters; when drawn from its holster, it emits a blinding flash that often stuns rival shootists. The holster is at least as remarkable as the weapon it holds. The wearer of Hexenburn’s holster may be wounded grievously, but his or her wounds never bleed. 

Mortal Pain
The ornate, enchanted rifle known as Mortal Pain is adorned with scrimshaw inlays carved from the bones of a great sea serpent. The rifle itself is beautiful, but mundane; it is its scrimshaw ornamentation that holds the weapon's deadly magical power. Mortal Pain is often thought of as a weapon of last resort--it has been used to kill brothers and sons who refuse to quit their quarrels with their siblings and fathers.

Shot fired from Mortal Pain hits with the force of seven pieces of ammunition; indeed, each ball fired from the gun splinters into seven separate projectiles within the body of its target, causing tremendously damaging wounds. Anyone wounded by the rifle can never heal completely from its shot–whether through natural healing or magic–until the shot is removed. 

Built from materials salvaged from an ancestral relic, Oathbreaker is a fearsome double-barreled pistol with a curious history. In its original form, the weapon that would become Oathbreaker was passed down through the generations by the scions of a blooded family of the northern reaches. When the current bearer of the gun was executed for treason, it was disassembled and refashioned into two powerful weapons, one of which was named Oathbreaker.

Oathbreaker given to a warrior by his noble father as an incentive for the son to give up his knighthood and govern the familial seat, but the knight refused his father's offer and instead gifted the weapon to a woman he tasked with finding and protecting the daughter of the supposedly treasonous northern lord. Anyone bearing Oathbreaker is effected by a powerful geas to complete the task of import. The first barrel transmogrifies its shot into a ball of abyssal flame. The second barrel transmogrifies its shot into a blast of elemental cold.

Friday, May 19, 2017

People Kicking Around in My Sandbox

Over at The Vanishing Tower blog, Jay Murphy has adapted my World Between setting for the Renaissance d100 system. I think that system is a really good fit for the campaign setting.

B. W. Mathers has been running a campaign set in my Scarabae setting. Here's an actual play report.

Mr. Mathers has also continued to do cool stuff with the Major Arcana of the Scarabae setting. Here's his take on The Fool, The Magician, and The High Priestess.

...and The Empress, The Emperor, and The Hierophant.

Information on the Courts of Swords, Cups, Coins, and Wands.

...and he rolled-up a character I hope I get to see soon in my online Scarabae games.

Check out these five islands for Scarabae.

House Stillwater, a woman-run criminal syndicate in Scarabae.

This post of mine on Sloppy XP got discussed a bit on the ggnore podcast. They agree with me because I am very correct. Now I just need to convince them that it's okay to describe combat in an rpg and that rolling to check for stuck doors is goofy and my grand work will be complete.

I think I linked this before, but G. S. Smith used my Thirteen Questions to make a City of Intrigue.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ides of Gemini, Igorrr, Volur

Both of these two music videos feature currently as part of the Krevborna soundtrack that exists only in my head:

Ides of Gemini, "Heroine's Descent"

Igorrr, "ieuD"

Volur, live at the Music Gallery (thanks to Cole Long for this one)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Playing D&D in Virginia with Goths, Punks, and Metalheads Who Have Important Jobs


Over the weekend I drove down to Virginia to play some D&D with a convergence of friends from the DC/NYC/NJ/Toronto areas. The drive was made much more pleasant by listening to the Boiled Leather Audio Hour on the way.

BLAH is a Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones podcast hosted by Sean T. Collins and Stefan Sasse. I don't agree with everything they have to say--I still don't buy that Game of Thrones isn't exploitative in its presentation of violence--but they raise a lot of interesting questions and have solid insights into the franchise.

I made a new first level character for the weekend's game:

Ivy Valerio, half-elf knowledge cleric. Ivy was abandoned or orphaned as a baby and left on the doorstep of an ascetic devoted to Jergal. Ivy grew up being trained as an undertaker and priestess of the forgotten god of death. Ivy was designed to be bad at combat; her low strength and dexterity meant that she is better off not using her mace or crossbow. Instead, she relies on her magic (sacred flame and inflict wounds) for damage--which was slightly a problem when I had to help destroy a magic diamond since I couldn't target it with any spells since it wasn't a "creature." Oops.

The rest of the party: gnome barbarian with an abiding hatred of goblins, dragonborn rogue who was formerly a fashion designer, human dandy highwaywoman, and a vengeful half-elf paladin.

Things that happened in game:

  • Our most harrowing fight was against giant badgers.
  • We may have used oil and ball bearings to remove a dead giant from a hole in the top of a stone pyramid.
  • It is inappropriate to call a magical barrier a "hymen."
  • Giorgio, the dragonborn rogue, nearly died and was brought back from death's door by magic so many times that he began to prefer the idea of death to constantly being brought back from beyond the pale.
  • Other things fought: tiny shrunken goblins, orbs with tentacles and a hovering magic diamond, kobolds, magma men.
  • We callously killed a small bear, which is probably for the best as it is likely we would have used it as a canary in a coal mine if we had kept it alive.
  • A small giant is just a dude.
  • I tried to use my character's shield as a stepping stone to cross a river of lava and rolled a one on my Athletics check. But fuck it, I survived and messed up a magical sigil of the Prince of Evil Elemental Fire. Fuck that guy.
  • We hit second level, y'all.

Giorgio's player is the least experienced with D&D, so I made her this icon-coded character sheet. So when she was like "What is my speed?" I could say "It's by the boot." I also brought a set of color-coded dice so I could say "The blue one is the d4." She said that both were helpful.

Also, I drank a liquor called Incredible Hook.

Opinion was split on the merits of Incredible Hook; reactions ranged from "disgusting poison to "delicious, smooth poison." I was in the latter camp.

My partner-in-podcast brought me back this rad vinyl soundtrack to Castlevania from the Roadburn festival. 

The hostess of D&D weekend gave us all prints from her recent art show. This is now mine.

Gotta find some wall space for it.

What did I listen to on the drive back?

I ran out of Boiled Leather podcasts to listen to, but I can tell you that this Ides of Gemini album is real good.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Land Born of Blood Crawls Forward Inexplicably

I've done a revision of the setting document for Krevborna. Initially, I started doing the revision for a mundane reason (I noticed that I had been using two different fonts for body text, ugh), but then I decided that since I had the files open I may as well make some changes and additions. The updated setting document is here.

Consider this the changelog for the setting document.

1. Added more points of interest to the Nachtmahr Mountains, including the presence of primordial entities and a school of black magic. This felt important since one of my current games is set at the Malcovat.
"It is rumored that the Malcovat, a school of black magic, is hidden within the Nachtmahr Mountains. The chthonic Mother Wolf and Father Spider prowl the mountains in search of converts and prey."

2. I've changed the information in the document about the people of Krevborna to account for the wider range of race options that are currently in the setting, as well as the possibility of bringing in characters from other settings.
"Most residents of Krevborna are all too human. Krevbornites are a people of mixed ethnic origins who share a common culture of folk tales and superstitions.

Krevborna is sometimes visited by people hailing from different lands—or perhaps different worlds—who are drawn into the land by its mystifying shrouds of fog.

Not all human bloodlines are pure. Some evidence the taint of angelic or fiendish ancestry, and others have becomes something entirely else due to accursed lineages or the corruption of undeath.

Though rare, descendants of the fey live alongside mankind."

3. Removing some of the information on the denizens of Krevborna freed up some space to include current threats to the land that the players might get interested in confronting during play. I've covered most of these menaces here, here, and here.
"A feral assassin, Mad Barnabas stalks the enemies of the Church. Sister Artemisia is the Church's cunning spymaster. Once a revered nun, Reverend Emeriana fell ill with a disease that transformed her into a horned beast that stalks the Silent Forest.

Lady Adeliza Kolokov, an agent of Countess Alcesta, engages in intrigues in Chancel. A dhampir duelist, Lord Hamlet Petrovich is always on the hunt for prey. 

Doctor Ulric Montmort searches for eldrtich secrets. Swithun Vanderhaus is a defrocked priest searching for answers that the Church has hidden.

The phantom of Queen Lilith, the last monarch of Lilitu, haunts the world for reasons unknown."

4. Fixing the fonts gave me some room to add folklore about the Wolves of the Holy Throne.
Though lycanthropes are greatly feared throughout Krevborna, ancient folktales tell of a group of pious werewolves who can control their transformations. These Wolves of the Holy Throne are believed to use their bestial might to combat evil in the names of the saints."

5. Also found some room to mention the twin clock towers owned by the mysterious Rue sisters.
"Brooding twin sisters of pale aspect, Pandora and Morrigan Rue dress in the manner of Lamashtuan noblewomen. They own identical clock towers in Chancel and Piskaro, and often hire adventurers for inscrutable ends."

6. Changed the name of the Sacred Butchers to the Sacretta Carnifexa because I think the new name is cooler.
"The Sacretta Carnifexa are a group of templars, witchfinders, and inquisitors associated with the Church of Saintly Blood. Their goal is the destruction of Lamashtu, the persecution of the undead, and the execution of Countess Alcesta."

7. Added two new saints, which are currently of importance in my Piskaro-based campaign on G+.
"St. Ophelia – The Spear of Faith
• Followers of St. Ophelia are dedicating to rooting out corruption within the Church
• Portrayed as a slender woman in armor bearing a spear

St. Seska – The Moon Sister
• Patron saint of those who fight on behalf of others
• Portrayed as a slim young woman dressed in boyish garb carrying a crescent shield"