Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Daemon Tells His Tale

The Daemon Tells His Tale

By Jason Zavoda

Your world is cold and plain as the skin of a virgin stretched on a drying rack. What I can tell you of the places beyond thought and behind reality would make you cry tears of blood, make you scream till your throat was stripped raw, pleasure you beyond pain and understanding.

Can you see the colors of death? Can you taste the sublime flavors of damnation or hear the unending chorus of those trapped between the veil of life and the curtain of eternity? You would have me rip a handful of threads from the weave of fate and place them in your grasp though each strand would flay your soul. Truly I would laugh at such a sight and bask in the radiance of your torment.

Would you sail with me on the boat of dreams past the boundary of the sane? Take bleeding wings sewn with the severed silver thread that binds your spirit safe to Earth?

The mystic heavens have no place for mortal travelers. To hear of what far fabled lands reside beyond the birth of the moon and the far reaches of the outer dark will set you on a path that will forever take you from the world of man.

There is no safety in words. They will not shield you from the horror of the empty dark. The words are a doorway, a gate to fear and wonder, that once opened can never be closed.

I will tell you of places unreachable filled with the nameless and the unimaginable from which there is no return.

The Hill Giant Chief - Nosnra's Saga - Part 65

"Can you walk?" Gytha asked Jalal.

The old man still lay on the floor with his back propped up against a wall. He breathed deeply and seemed asleep till Gytha spoke, but then his eyes opened, lively and bright.

"I don't know," he said. "I will try."

With a groan he shifted onto his side and got to his knees, Gytha reached out to help, but Ghibelline put his hand on her shoulder and drew her back. Jalal's bones creaked as he stood, and he used his hands braced against the stones so that he could straighten up, but when he faced them it was with his shoulders back and his pride in place.

"We must go," said Telenstil.

"I have a friend here..." Jalal began.

"I am sorry, we have also lost companions, the one who was left here and another, but we cannot stay." Telenstil explained.

"There are places we could hide, and the orcs, they are in rebellion, we could enlist their aid," said Jalal.

"I am afraid that we have had a confrontation with the orcs. They will not help us," Telenstil told him and shook his head sadly.

Jalal sagged a bit at the news, but caught himself and addressed Telenstil once more. "I cannot abandon my friend."

"We may be able to return. I had not planned to leave entirely, but this foray, we have stayed much longer than I had thought to." said Telenstil. "Come with us now and we will try to help your friend and rescue our companion."

"I will come. You promise to return?" Jalal asked.

"I can only promise that we will try," said Telenstil. "I cannot even promise that we can escape."

"Come Jalal, we cannot leave you here. We will do all that we can," said Ghibelline. "That I promise."

"Then we had best leave," said Jalal.

"Is there another way out of here?" asked Gytha.

"No, there are tunnels that have been started and a warren of caves where the orcs hide, but the stairs are the only way that I know of to leave the dungeons," Jalal told them.

"Harald," Telenstil called to the ranger as they left the cell. "We are taking Derue, please help him up, but be careful. I think he is awake, but pretends to still be senseless."

"If he is dangerous, why not leave him here?" asked the thief.

"He is not himself," Gytha said. "There is a spirit within him."

"How do we know?" Harold asked, still questioning the sense of dragging the scout along. "He has always been a suspicious sort. I have never trusted any of them, him, his brother or that priest who employed them."

"And now they are all gone or mad," added Talberth.

"I would suspect them more if they were still here or if they had showed us a pleasant and friendly face at the start," said Telenstil. "They have been honest with us, I feel. I did not like them, but they did not break their faith with us, at least not till they found those weapons that the giants hid."

Harald went to retrieve Derue and he found the scout still out cold and breathing stentoriously through his open mouth. The ranger reached down and grabbed him by the belt, hauling Derue up into the air. As his feet left the ground the scout spun and placed a kick against the ranger's leg, just missing the knee.

* * *

Harald dropped to the ground as Derue's kick sent his leg out to the side but failed to break the thick bone. The ranger let himself fall forward. He slammed Derue face first into the stones and brought his other knee down hard against the scout's back. Dazed, the scout moaned and tried to wriggle free. Harald grabbed a handful of his hair and bounced Derue's forehead on the hard rock, knocking the man cold.

"You were right," Harald called to Telenstil. "This time I'm tying his feet. I'll have to carry him."

"Are we ready?" Telenstil asked.

There was a murmur of assent, the little thief started off first through the vast and almost empty hall. The orcs had gone, but they had left the bodies of their dead behind, several dark lumps of flesh and cloth left lying by the walls and a carpet of dead, the bodies thick, one against the other, where Talberth's magic bolt had slain them by the score. The group stayed together, Harald carried the scout like a sack of grain across his wide shoulder, Ghibelline and Gytha helped Jalal keep the pace, the old man had his arms around the elf and cleric's necks. They half carried him, but Jalal barely weighed a thing, he was only skin stretched over bone. Before they reached the stairs Harold came running back, he waved to them to stop and rushed up to Telenstil.

"There are orcs ahead, a small group waiting on the stairs," Harold reported. "They didn't look threatening. They look more like a group of beggars in a marketplace."

"Let us proceed with care," said Telenstil.

"Let's get out of this hall," said Talberth, "and up from this dungeon."

The ranger unslung Derue when they reached the arch before the stairs, leaving him leaning against the wall.

"Ho there!" he called in the orc tongue, but he received a reply in the common traders' language used across the Flanaess.

"You there," the voice called out. "We wait for you. We had deal. You lead us out."

"I had no deal with you!" Harald called back.

"Not so loud!" the voice hissed back. "I come down, you no kill." The orc dropped down the stairs and walked into the light. He was the one called Boss, but his followers had almost all deserted him, a bare half-dozen remained waiting up the stairs.

"I deal with that one," Boss said pointing to Derue. "He make deal. We help, you help."

"The orc is correct," spoke up Jalal. "Your companion promised to help them, as he promised Ghibelline and myself."

"Then we will accept their help, and help them as well," said Telenstil.

"Help these monsters?" Harold spoke up surprised.

"There are worse than orcs about, and they are no friends of the giants," the ranger said.

"Come, we delay ourselves for nothing," said Telenstil. "We will honor our companion's word. Let us be out of here."

The ranger nodded to the orc. "We will help you. Carry this one," Harald said pointing to Derue. "He made the offer. He is your burden."

The orc beckoned to his companions and the other orcs came down the stairs. They waited for the Telenstil and the others to climb, following last carrying the still unconscious body of the scout. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Wormy's World - Characters - Dudly - #33

Wormy's World - Characters - Dudly - #33


On their way to the Ogres with snookerball in hand Dudly and Frank are set upon by some of the more rowdy diners (and survivors) of Irving's dwarf-burger stand. The three monsters, Goblin, Wereboar and Wererat all have torches in hand to deal some permanent damage and Frank urges Dudly to break open the snookerball and let the little blue demon loose. Dudly doesn't agree and tries to fend off the Goblin and Wererat. A stream in the woods gives him some protection from the burning torches and gives the Wererat a good smash in the head as it jabs its torch at him, but also makes Dudly drop the snookerball in the water. After leaving the Wererat face down and blowing bubbles Dudly manages to catch the Goblin with a good smash in the face from his mallet but takes a burn from the jabbing torch.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wormy's World - Characters - Wormy - #32


Wormy has an idea about the origin of the Snookerball Demons and while Irving is busy poking at the roasting fowl in the fireplace Wormy tells him his theory and works at proving it. With a chisel and a hammer Wormy is able to split the broken snookerball in two and one looks inside the shell at the demonic writing inside his theory goes to Hell.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Characters - #1 Rolfr


#1) Rolfr - HouseKarl - Northman

- Ftr 7th Lvl HP72 AC(9) {0 in +3 Chain Shirt} [-1 with +1 Shield]

RuneHelm - The runes for clear vision are inscribed on Rolfr's helm. The helm itself is dwarf-forged steel but the enchantment is good skaldish work. Wearing the helm allows Rolfr to see through fog and minor spells that would alter perception (up to 3rd level and thereafter giving him a +3 save against higher level spells where allowed). He also gains a +3 save against attacks that would cause blindness and increases his general eyesight by 20ft as well as allowing him to see that much greater in dim light or moon light. These runes were crafted only for Rolfr and the helm is only well crafted steel to anyone else.

Arrowcatcher - This shield gives a +1 bonus to armor class but it also draws any normal arrows, slingstones or darts to be attracted to it and bounce off harmlessly. Enchanted projectiles are unaffected.

Silk-Metal - This chain shirt was crafted by an elvish people beholding to Rolfr's kin. It is a family heirloom and will be ransomed if seized in battle. If not ransomed then it will be the object if quests and bounty to have it returned. It provides a +3 bonus to armor class and has the texture of silk against the skin of the wearer as well as weighing only as much as a shirt of the same material.

Drawn Blood - is a bastard sword of elven origin but altered by a Northern songsmith of the Eastern lands. It bears an enchantment that allows it a +2 bonus to hit but the songsmith made sure that any wounds would bleed for an addition 1d6 damage with a 20% chance that the wounded would swoon from blood loss and suffer a -2 AC and -2 to Hit penalty for the next round of combat.

The Green Cloak - Allows Roflr to ignore enchantments that might slow or trap him.

The Red Pants - these pants absorb 1 HP of damage for every damage dealing attack against Rolfr. If an attack only causes 1 HP damage then Rolfr is unharmed.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Wormy's World - Characters - Irving - #32

Wormy's World - Characters - Irving - #32


Always a dab hand with a pitchfork, Irving is busy standing in the fireplace and poking at a trio of roasting fowl while Wormy examines the broken snookerball from which one of the blue demons appeared. Wormy has a theory that the sharp-clawed puffs of blue smoke might be Hellish inhabitants but Irving doesn't remember them from his own time in the Abyss. With a little effort Irving scales the table to see what Wormy is up to but remains mystified even as the broken snookerball revels its secrets.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Raid - Post 1

The Raid

Inspired by the zine Mystic Pangolin's "Port of Call - Haefod" I've begun a project to create an adventure mixed with a random encounter system that uses decks of cards instead of the more traditional paragraph system found in Solo adventure books such as Fighting Fantasy or Lone Wolf.

This is a crude map of Wealstown on Sea, a port often stopped at by traders and small merchants who ply the coast or cross the Straight Sea for nearby foreign ports. It is known for its fishing and the loose virtue of its tavern wenches. Unfortunately it has also been espied by a band of Northmen who are currently plundering the town.

The adventurers have lodged for the night in a dock-side tavern only to be awoken by the smell of smoke and the sound of screams.

The cards will represent encounters and events. Map locations will be numbered and lettered with both set descriptions and random card draws. Some cards will have unique descriptions and will be discarded or kept for reference while others will be returned to the deck.

These posts will showcase the work in progress but hopefully I can work out a solo random card adventure system that can also be used by a DM with a little alteration as a more traditional adventure scenario.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Space Hulk 2014 - Mission 1: Beachhead

Space Hulk 2014

Mission 1: Beachhead

At the last moment the hulk shifted. The ancient and rotted metal of the nameless ship which formed the outer edge of this section of the twisted and warp-melded merging of a dozen human and xeno vessels leapt as if it were some feral hound rather than an artifact technology. Instead of breaching the center protruding round of some interior chamber the boarding torpedo tore into a lightless corridor to its right. With a shriek of metal and an explosion of gas into vacuum sergeant Lorenzo lead his squad into the interior. To his right was an ancient valve, to his left the corridor opened into the chamber they torpedo had been aiming for with another closed doorway just before it. He could see another corridor and at its end another door. Turning quickly he faced the door close on his right and a glance at the movement display at his wrist he saw the greenly pulsing blips of the enemy just beyond. He stepped forward and faced the door, raising his bolter and putting himself in overwatch as his squad emptied from the torpedo behind him.

Beachhead is the first Mission for Space Hulk. I haven't played the game since Space Marines had beaks but the rules are simple and straightforward. I love the look of the new minis but my slop and go style of painting will not do them justice.

The scenario is simple and you are given two squads of Marines while the Genestealers are limited to 16 blips. 10 at start spread all over the place and 6 reinforcements that are dribbled out 1 at a time from turn 4 through turn 9. Each blip is 1-3 Genestealers so the Marines are outnumbered only about 2 to 1. They have guns and the Genestealers don't. This was my big mistake on my first play through.

The victory conditions are Take and Hold the six chambers of the map for the Marines without losing more than 3 figures and the Genestealers just need to kill Marines. My first game was an embarrassingly easy  Marine victory. I frittered away my limited supply of Genestealers when I need to concentrate them and wait for the right moment to pounce and overwhelm.

It is a fantastic game and I plan on replaying mission 1 again to try out some different tactics. I do feel that Mission 1 is a bit weighted in the Marines favor but a few replays should tell me if it is true.