Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday Abscenses

I have been and will continue to take a break from posting here until after the holidays. The current game is also on hiatus until after the holidays as well. I have plans to give this blog more attention in the new year, so please be patient with me. There are things on the horizon!

In the meantime...

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 1, 2014

No Quarter Sessions 3 & 4 - Discoveries

PCs:        Sir Durhum Lentilles (250 point Paladin of Saturn).
NPCs:     Mirko (unknown), Father Robert (unknown).

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, we had to run our session a bit late last week and that shortened it considerably. That combined with the general lack of much happening during the session made me think I'd be best off combining its summary with this week's. So here you have it. Our intrepid paladin has finally learned what he is fighting!

Two weeks ago, we left off with Sir Durhum and Mirko approaching Ashby. As they approached, they felt eyes watching them, but no one was in sight. They passed by an abandoned farmstead on their way to the main hamlet. Ashby is a small, small community consisting of maybe about dozen and a half families. It had small buildings and wasn't much to look at. Especially since there weren't any people there. There weren't any at all. He two investigators poked around the hamlet a bit and stumbled on a partial track where someone was dragged into or out of the local temple. Otherwise, there was nothing – no signs of struggle, whatsoever. It was as if everyone just vanished.

Sir Durhum didn't want to spend the night in Ashby out of fear of a midnight ambush, so he and Mirko pitched a tent a bit outside the abandoned village. The night passed without incident, but when they awoke, they found footprints encircling their campsite. Human footprints. This unnerved Mirko a bit, but Sir Durhum remained calm and determined as always. Together they broke camp and began the journey back to Robston.

Along the way, they came on a pair of goatmen tracking something. He called to them from afar, but they didn't understand the human tongue. After some difficult long-distance signing, the two sides managed to communicate that they weren't looking for a fight and that Sir Durhum was going to just continue on his way to Robston. That's when the sporebies burst from some bushes. Half a dozen men with vines sprouting from their necks shambled out of some bushes. Sir Durhum shouted to Mirko and the goatmen to flee, which they did, but that only got the sporebies riled up. They began to chase Sir Durhum, but being slow were quickly lost after a moderate run. The rest of the trip back to Robston was uneventful.

Once back at Robston and Durhum having had fulfilled his obligation to get Mirko there safely, Durhum tracked down Father Robert and reported his findings. Robert confided in Durhum that some of the villagers had taken to talking to themselves and the miller had told Robert that he was hearing voices that told him to do terrible things. Over dinner, the two decided to exhume Will's body and burn it in the middle of the night. They also decided not to tell the people of Robston just yet, so they wouldn't go mob-with-pitchforks just yet.

After dinner and after making sure Mirko wasn't telling zombie tales, Durhum visited Hilda, who, in her usual colorful way, told him that the sporebies weren't true undead and that Saturn, the agriculture/plant/civilization god would probably have more to say on the subject. She also said she might be able to perform some scrying if she could get a piece of one of the zombies. Thanking her, Durhum left to go grave digging.

At the graveyard, Durhum and Robert found a strange vine beginning to grow out of Will's grave. Together, they exhumed the corpse and a rather long tendril of ivy that occasionally moved of its own accord. The collected the body and brought it to the outskirts of Robston, where the church groundskeeper had prepared a pyre and Hilda was already waiting with rabbit's-blood-soaked leeks for her scrying. She has a thing for leeks.  As they burned Will's body, Hilda tossed in pieces of the vine from his grave, which revealed four images: first, a shadowy figure standing before a heart-shaped cave with an ivy growing about it; second, a group of people feeding a man to thorn-toothed maw; third, Will being dragged to the creeper by sporebies and getting stabbed in the neck by the vine; and last, the visage of a beautiful farmer's daughter at a market stand. Finally, the pieces came together and Sir Durhum figured out what he was facing: a Yellow Musk Creeper. One that has eaten or enslaved an entire hamlet. One that has infected another village. Now he has to find the cave, destroy the yellow musk creeper there, and prevent any new ones from springing up in Robston.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

No Quarter Session 2 - The Road to Ashby

PCs:        Sir Durhum Lentilles (250 point Paladin of Saturn)
NPCs:     Mirko (unknown)

We picked up today with Sir Durhum setting out on the road to Ashby. It was a nice day for a walk, and the scenery was bucolic initially and transitioned into peaceful scrublands. It progressed like that for a couple hours when he heard the din of combat. Upon cresting the next hill, he saw a boy fighting a pony-sized spider and generally getting driven back despite his agility. Being the courageous and selfless paladin he is, Sir Durhum joined the melee.

He approached the spider from behind and shouted for the boy to get behind him. As the boy made his way around the spider, it continued to try to intercept him. This somehow kept Sir Durhum behind the spider, despite the runaround attempt, which was fine. Durhum got one good stab to the gonads – first random hit location roll of the day, and it gives us gutter humor – which certainly got the spider's attention. It turned on him and barreled into him. Of course, this isn't particularly good for the person holding the Reach 2 polearm, so Sir Durhum was in trouble. The spider slashed him up good with its pedipalps, but eventually, the paladin managed to disengage and get enough distance to bring his mighty weapon to bare in a successful parry that lopped off one of the spider's pedipalps. The thing retreated a little in fear and surprise, so Durhum gave it a good thrust to the vitals and it fled to lick its wounds (do spiders have tongues?).

He then bandaged up his wounds and tended to the kid, who turned out to actually be a really short 15 yr old named Mirko. He had run away from a homestead he was helping at because nature was getting a little too close and unfriendly, and Durhum being the responsible adult he is, insisted on taking Mirko to Ashby with him. That way, the boy would at least be safe, even if Mirko was headed to Roberston to find a better life out east.

The rest of the day passed uneventfully, as did the night. The next day, they continued their trek to Ashby, when they came on a jaundiced man shambling about the road with something growing from his neck. Durhum decided to detour wide around the man and approach Ashby with caution. He is pretty sure everyone in the town is dead, but he wants to be careful. He is injured and not in much shape for another serious fight.

Nest week: Ashby.

Bonus Creature: Monstrous Wolf Spider

Wolf spiders are robust and agile hunters with excellent eyesight.  They live mostly solitary lives and hunt alone.  Some are opportunistic hunters; while, others will chase prey or even ambush prey from burrows.  Despite being only mildly toxic, wolf spiders are the thing of nightmares, because they carry hordes of young on their backs.

Venom:  Wolf spider venom is not particularly lethal, although in large doses, it is quite painful.  Someone bitten by a wolf spider must roll against HT-5.  Failure results in pain dependent on his margin of failure:  1 or 2, Moderate Pain; 3 or 4, Severe Pain; 5 or more, Terrible Pain (see Incapacitating Conditions, p. B428).  Each level of pain lasts for a number of minutes equal to the victim's margin of failure, after which the degree of pain lessens by one step – from Terrible to Severe and then Severe to Moderate.  Each step lasts as long as the previous.

ST: 18                            HP: 18                                               Speed: 6.00
DX: 13                           Will: 10                                              Ground Move: 6
IQ: 1                               Per: 12                                               Climbing Move: 3
HT: 11                           FP: 11                                                SM: 0

Dodge: 9                        Parry: N/A                                        DR: 6

Fangs (15): 2d impaling + follow-up Venom (see above). Reach C.
Pedipalps (15): 2d cutting. Reach C.
Baby Spider Horde: This is a 3-yard-diameter horde of baby wolf spiders.  They take a Move maneuver to disembark their mother, and have Move 1.  They disperse after taking 100 HP of damage and will then regroup on their mother's back.  The horde inflicts 1d cutting damage per turn with Venom (see above) as a follow-up, but resisted at HT rather than HT-5.

Traits: Acute Hearing 2; Acute Sense (Vibration Sense) 2; Ambidexterity; Climbing Line; Clinging; Cutting Striker (Pedipalps; Cannot Parry; Limited Arc Front); Discriminatory Smell; Extra Legs (Eight Legs); Horizontal; Impaling Striker (Fangs; Cannot Parry; Limited Arc, Front); Injury Tolerance (No Neck); No Fine Manipulators; Payload 1; Peripheral Vision (No Depth Perception); Sensitive Touch; Silence 1; Ultravision; Vibration Sense (Air). 
Skills: Brawling-15; Climbing-13; Running-11; Stealth-15; Wrestling-15. 
Class: Giant Animal. 
Notes: Venom glands containing enough venom for 2d doses ($10 each).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

No Quarter Session 1 - Roberston

First off, allow me to apologize for not keeping up with this blog. I was gearing up for a game I'm running with a friend. It is a fantasy game using GURPS 4th Edition, and Sir Durhum Lentilles is the lone PC. We had our first session this past Sunday, and so far, it is a blast.

No Quarter - Session 1

PCs:        Sir Durhum Lentilles (250 point Paladin of Saturn)

The session began with Sir Durhum arriving at a small town on a hill named after someone named Robert. Roberston may be poor, but they do have a Church of Saturn, patron god of farmers. And that is where Sir Durhum first went. There he met the groundskeeper, an elderly man and next door in the one room rectory, he met Father Robert (no connection to the hill). The priest invited Durhum to that night's service with the intention to talk the brawny paladin into helping fix up the church a bit – specifically, to add a second floor to the barn-like structure. Unfortunately, in the middle of the sermon, a young man named Will burst into the church coughing and clutching at his throat. Several of the townsfolk rushed over to help him; even Sir Durhum who was sitting at the front of the church was making his way toward him when Will dropped to his knees, looked up, and a long, plantlike stalk burst from his throat in a spray of pollen and spores. Everyone nearby began coughing but eventually it subsided. The paladin and the priest convinced everyone to leave while they took care of the body. Upon examination, the two uncovered a round puncture wound in the back of Will's neck They also collected the stalk to take to the local witch, a woman named Hilda.

The next morning, Durhum visited Hilda to see if she knew anything about the stalk. She didn't have much to say, and what she did was cryptic enough.  Durhum spoke with a few other townsfolk, including the Innkeeper, a grizzled middle-aged man. He learned that Will had recently visited Ashby, the next town over, to seek marriage with a girl from there. He also learned that Ashby's farmers had not been at the last market day. While at the inn, Durhum also met a local trapper named John, though he seems to have a few other names he sometimes goes by and a rather quiet monk from far to the south. It was suggested that he speak with the Hakraz, a local tribe that lives in the forests to the west, as well. Since they speak a different language, Durhum tried to hire John as a guide and translator, but his rates were too steep for the impoverished paladin At least he has a free room at the church as long as he needs it!

The session ended with Durhum scratching his head over Hilda's cryptic musings while gathering up supplies with the rest of the day's light. In the morning (next session), he plans to set out toward Ashby to see if anything happened to Will there.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dust Wight

I am amidst the preparations for what I hope will be a long and interesting fantasy action adventure campaign. It will center largely around dungeon crawling with most Action!-y things done in town (e.g., information gathering, planning, etc.), each of which may turn into a side quest of sorts to help facilitate the overall dungeon crawl. To that end, I'll be posting a variety of enemies I've created for Starfall (and will likely use in this game, as well) until I have more time to write properly for this blog. Neither Dark Horizons or Starfall are being abandoned, but they are somewhat on the back burner right now.

Dust Wight

Gradually, the random movements of the dust dancing in the sunlight grew more ordered.  An outline of a man gradually congealed and extended a diaphanous finger.  Meleena erupted in a fit of coughing, and Broon looked as though he could not breathe.  Then the pain hit.  The agony of having my life force slowly stripped of my body.  The dust wraith was upon us, and only Rob could save us now.

Dust wrights (sometimes called "dust wraiths") are what remains after undead skeletons have been reduced to the earth from which they came in life.  Chaotic energies cling to the particulate left behind, binding them into an everlasting being that can vanish into any dusty area and emerge at will to drain the life from its victims.  Common in ancient cities and tombs, these corrupt creatures lie in wait for unsuspecting intruders to draw near, and then they release a choking miasma that causes fits of coughing, sneezing, and in severe cases, choking.  They then drain the life from their prey in an orgiastic feast that usually leads to the creation of more undead.

ST: 0                              HP: 10                                               Speed: 6.00
DX: 12                           Will: 10                                             Air Move: 12
IQ: 8                              Per: 12                                              
HT: 10                           FP: N/A                                             SM: 0

Dodge: 9                        Parry: N/A                                        DR: 3

Life Drain (14): 1d fatigue. Reach 1. This is a Contact Agent.
Miasma of Dust (HT-2): Everyone within 2 yards of a dust wight who breathes the air must make a HT-2 roll or begin Coughing and Sneezing.  Any failure by 5 or more causes Choking.  Anyone aware of this trait can make a Will roll to avoid breathing when they first enter this area.

Traits: Bestial; Blindness; Body of Dust; Chameleon 5 (Accessibility, Extremely dusty areas); Doesn't Breathe; Doesn't Sleep; Fragile (Unnatural); Hidebound; Immune to All Mind Control; Indomitable; Injury Tolerance has Infiltration; Intolerance (All Living); Mute; No Manipulators; Regeneration (AP; HT/Second); Silence 5; Unaging; Unfazeable; Vibration Sense (Air).
Skills: Brawling-14; Camouflage-12; Stealth-12.
Class: Undead.
Notes: Unwilling to negotiate.

Friday, October 10, 2014

On Writing

With Green Ronin's search for new freelance writing talent, and the reactions of several game designing friends to the specifics of their requirements, I have decided to write a little bit about my experience thus far in the industry. I am a member of an elite club/mentoring group of which I may not speak, but I can say that our aim is to produce publishable gaming material for a certain online periodical. Since joining at its foundation last year, I have written over 19,000 words over four completed articles and have another 6,000 word article in the works. Of these, two have been retained for future use. The journey here has been fascinating and, at times, frustrating. I'm still waiting to see my name in print, but I'm confident it will happen.

I have always been fairly imaginative, and had to write a lot in grade school.  I had a couple of essays even place in writing contests, but I've never attempted to make money at it before. It is a lot different than one might think, especially in the gaming industry. That isn't to say that it is difficult, but it isn't the "make up creative mechanics, slap the rules down, and send it in" that I always pictured it to be. Sure, that's part of it, but it is just as important to use proper syntax, grammar, and always, always, always adhere to the house style. The latter most was the largest obstacle for me. Fortunately, I have had the help and guidance of two very experiences writers who, together, have had 28 articles and a book published by +Steven Jackson Games.

My personal process was and continues to be one that +DouglasCole and +Christopher R. Rice both espouse as crucial: begin with an outline. This serves as a road map and lets you tweak overall structural elements without having to rewrite anything. It also helps to organize your thoughts, demonstrate where you are spending your word count (yes, it is a currency!), and greatly speeds up the actual writing process itself. I can't stress enough how useful outlining truly is. I use it even for setting material and game prep.

Next, I hammer out a first draft, which adheres to the house style from the start. Learning and internalizing the house style takes practice and nothing else. Do it always and often. This first draft contains the basic ideas in a stripped down fashion. It is enough to convey the concepts for what I call an "Is This Anything" check. What it doesn't include are fluffier bits like introductions, boxed texts – these usually just have a short blurb about what will be covered – or fully fleshed out examples. I send this out for an interest check among some people (including my mentors) who tell me if its worth continuing and if I'm focusing on the write things.

After an article passes its Is This Anything check, I make any content adjustments on the outline, then go back and write a proper draft with everything written explicitly. This becomes my first draft. I usually pass around drafts to several reviewers who give their opinions on everything from grammar and syntax to adherence to house style to actual rules and balance issues – nothing is ever off limits. After several rounds of revision and review, I usually take a week or so and don't look at the article at all. This lets me clear my head and approach it with fresh eyes. Then I do one final review, myself, during which I chop, cut, and edit it until it fits in the word count I want (I always aim for a certain number of pages), and then shoot it off for one last review. Barring any glaring omissions or errors, this becomes the final draft and is submitted to the editor for consideration.

I have not progressed beyond receiving an email requesting permission to use the article in a future issue. I've seen and helped review a couple of articles after layout was already complete and only minor grammatical or math changes could be made. I look forward to the first time I receive an article back from the editor with requests for revision or change, though. I want to see exactly what he is looking for. I suspect the first time this happens, I will likely write another blog about just that.