Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ships, Sharks, and Waterspouts

Time slipped into a day or two before they knew it.  The exhaustion of the previous days had taken their toll.  Raschid woke first.  Mainly to someone hammering on his door.  He roused and drowsily made his way downstairs.  The hand on the door was a messenger from Phelan, the town mayor.  He sought Raschid's counsel.  After some prep, mainly in making sure he looked as best as possible, Raschid made his way towards the town's "conflict center".  That was synonymous with the town's fountains, where Phelan and often Sven had set up a makeshift center for everyone to report.  Since they had, things had become a bit more organized in the town's response to problems.  It was unfortunate that he did not even make it there before another piece of chaos presented its face.  Well, unfortunate to the town but not to Raschid.  He personally reveled in it!  This face, however, took the form of an airship, one careening out of control as it skidded across the clouds lingering over the town.

It turned on its side, burning, and Raschid watched as people fell from the sides raining across the town.  Raschid pushed back a laugh, smothering it when the messenger looked at him, startled by the sound.  They watched together as the ship continued turning, raining people before it burned across the town and then slammed into the mist somewhere past the town in the northeast.

Both joined the people rushing to assist those that fell.  Few lived and those they came upon were dying rapidly from the fall and burns.  All except one lady.  She was disoriented but okay.  Even had her luggage!  Her name, upon introduction, was Talara min Ándulán.  She was a passenger on the ship and had recently departed from Maelshyra.  They had left before Triangularus, hopeful of being safe by rising high above the clouds and into the night sky.  In an instant it seemed that they had transited a vast distance and next she knew the ship was under fire by something and tipped sharply back and forth.  When a great hole formed in the side of the ship used magic to soften her fall and push away the debris during the descent.  It exhausted her, which was why she was so disorientated.

Skeptical, but accepting her story, at last for now, Raschid sarcastically welcomed her to the shithole of the northeast, aka Leiberton.  Startled at his comment she passed her thank you back and accepted the messenger as an escort to the noble's quarter.  Raschid went back to meeting Phelan.

Of course, Chiktik had heard it all.  He was busy, though.  He'd gotten it in his head to make his way into the metal building.  He started with a shovel.  It made decent process.  When the impact of the skyship nearly collapsed his hole, he buttressed it.  Then, when pebbles rained down on him, first in one's and two's, Chiktik climbed out to find he had a fan group of children.  In quick order Chiktik organized them into helping him.  First in moving dirt and then in helping him craft and transport in buckets a makeshift solvent to dissolve the earth more easily.  He made it into a game, one that he knew human children liked, and it worked.
The Orc, given to following his appetites had done little but eat, sleep and occasionally fight when something made it far enough into the town.  Most of it he found quite edible.  The impact of the skyship was of mild interest but when no fighting ensued he ignored it.  The town was feeding him, keeping in alcohol and fighting.  

What did he have to care about?

Raschid, on the other hand, had a bit more to worry.  He made it to Phelan, only to see Sven give him an odd look and then depart, leaving behind a dozen of his engineers and several golems.  He filed it away for later examination.  Phelan, studied him and them let him know that his watchers had seen Sklarda walk into the mist yesterday evening.  The sounds of battle quickly followed it.  The outcome was pretty definite.  In the flat silence that followed, Phelan also added that he thought Leiberton was still a good town, even with the damage and fallout from Triangularus.  Raschid quirked an eyebrow and managed to look a slight bit guilty.  Phelan also noted dryly that he was going to have Raschid's quarters cleaned and upgraded with the best the town had available since he didn't want to leave the impression that the town was not thankful for all he had nobly down.  

Raschid accepted gracefully and made amends.

He returned, later on to find his quarter lavishly laid out.  He also acquired a golem butler.  Well, sort of.  It could open doors and close them as well a few other minor tasks.  It quickly showed its worth as he was visited by a stranger.  A man named Pond.  Rather a shadowy sorts though he had affected a noble's manner.  The marks of poverty and unclean life were clearly written on his frame, no matter what level of prosperity he currently enjoyed.  Pond also had the air of a man who commanded, not followed.  The conversation that occurred proved it.  Over good whiskey, Pond laid his complaint forth.  He tired of waiting for the good authorities to put things in order.  It was bad for business, this mess.  He found the mayors ineffective and stupid and wanted to take action, not wait for rescue like some fabled damsel in distress.  He knew from research that the underground was not wracked like the above with the clouds left by Triangularus and the nexus storm.  He was also sure they connected not to just one town to the west of them but a total of four.  He wanted to send groups underground re-establish communication with the towns.  Especially the town near Fort Blood.  Arduin stationed an entire regiment of troops there.  Not just anyone, though.  It would take men of standing and wealth for the commanders of troops to listen.  Someone only a man of rank in the military or rank in the nobility could inspire.  Which led him to Raschid.  As a noble of Arduin the military there would at least listen, if not send someone to replace the bumbling buffoons that led Leiberton currently.  Rashid offered to think about it and would give word this evening.  After Pond left, Raschid sought out Sven.

It didn't take him long to find the dwarven enclave and the golem foundry.  While he had to wait a bit he did get an audience.  He inquired with Sven about the idea of tunnels below the town.  Sven agreed that they existed but his family had plumbed their depths many times.  They had built the foundry in them and while
many of them wandered off randomly, most were of little use and led nowhere.  Those that were truly dangerous they had capped.  He knew of none that led to the other towns but admitted that it might be possible.  If anyone knew, it would be Pular DiamondEye, his lead engineer (and cousin, of course).  Pular had twisted his leg recently and was in the infirmary.    Raschid was welcome to talk to him but Sven warned him that he was old, cantankerous and disrespectful.  Raschid shrugged and said he didn't care. 

Pular was as insulting as described, as well as wild haired and stumbling around on a case, even though his leg was wrapped in a metal casing.  In between his bitching he reaffirmed that no tunnels led from the town to anywhere, especially south near the river (who builds tunnels near river?  Idiots!  Maybe goblins...they like to live in muck and shit.).  Raschid waded politely through the vulgarity until Pular finally nodded off and then he made his escape.  He wandered the town, inquiring (poorly) with any scruffy character he could find about smuggling and underground paths.
While Chiktik continued his digging, Úzgar found different fun to get involved in.  Eating and drinking had started to get boring so when someone dropped by and asked if he would see Conn, the Sun God Priest, he decided to go out of boredom.  He took his weapons and drug along the hardened femur he had liberated last week.  

In hindsight, it was a good thing he did.

Conn had been working the last couple of days on find a way to destroy the mist using the power of the divine.  Focusing his power over the sun's light, he had found that he could enhance it to burn away the mist.  After trying this with objects and whatever random animal he could find that didn't get away first, he was ready to upgrade to something a bit more mobile.  Namely a volunteer.  Úzgar didn't even bother to let him finish before motioning for him to continue.  Conn limned him in fiery light and bade him enter the nexus
mists.  Úzgar didn't even pause before leaping in!  The burning sunlight destroyed the mist around him.  After watching Úzgar destroy mist, Conn waved him back in.  He wanted him to do something grander.  To make a path to the wreck of the skyship that looked to be burning somewhere beyond the town in the nexus mist.  Úzgar agreed but not for free.  He didn't want gold or jewels but for a touch of Conn's deity to stay upon him, to heal him should he be hurt.  Conn agreed.  Anlorn, who had been late for the original call, chose to join Úzgar in making a path towards the skyship.  A small group was assembled to follow, mainly medics and a few man at arms to protect them.

While everything was being prepared, Conn reassembled his shrine to Saren, adjusting it to focus even more power on the two.   He then called over the two and bade them pick up doors someone had taken from one of the buildings nearby.  He was going to not only light them but the doors as well.  That way the two of them could break through more mist than just by pushing with their bodies.  While a bit uneven in height they make it work, clearing a wide corridor towards the downed ship. 

The first sign of success was when they began to come across debris.  Chunks of the ship embedded in the ground with great force.  They also found an occasional body, or at least what looked like one.  All were horribly burned nearly to being unrecognizable.  While slow, they made progress until they were interrupted.  They had no warning or they would have grounded the doors and pulled weapons.  As it was, the metallic tiger came over and around Anlorn's door before he could blink!  He got lucky and it ripped ragged gouges in the door instead of him. 

Úzgar was first to react and threw down his door while simultaneously unlimbering his axe.  He brought it high and around, embedding it solidly in the beast's back.  It cried out, wrenching the axe from his hands.  It also sprayed its acidic blood in his face.   He felt his skin and eyes boil and a cry of pain dropped from his lips.  He dropped back, cradling his face before he felt the burning flames of the sun sear his face and he cried out from a different pain.  It burned away the acid and healed his wounds though it vastly dimmed his light.

The incredible pain sent Úzgar into berserk rage and he ripped the bone weapon from his back while shoving his hand into one of his Owlbear claws.  He leaped on the metallic feline, just as it opened up Anlorn's side.  A blink seemed to go by before he came back to his senses, standing over the smote remains of the metal tiger.  He could hear the cries of those running from the town and the pain filled whimpers from Anlorn.  The tiger had coughed up a great amount of bloody acid on him and he was literally burning up from where it pinned him down.

He helped them free Anlorn and drug the metal tiger back to town.  Conn was exhausted but staggered to his feet to assist them.  Úzgar he sent on with only the barest of healing.  A slow healing that took a lot of time, food, and rest.  Conn was saving his remaining power to rebuild Anlorn's badly burnt body.  Seeing little else to do, Úzgar and under orders to eat until he could no longer, Úzgar left to do just that.
He couldn't name the place, even if he could read the stupid human scratch that adorned it.  The sign had a scrawny looking chicken on it.  At least to his eyes and that was good enough for him to find.  They plied him with food and beer and he ate. 

Meanwhile, Raschid found his attempts to find information hunger inspiring and stopped in at eatery that looked to hold the type of people he was seeking.  He was unhappy to find that dinner came with company.  Mainly Pond.  Who spent a few minutes insinuating that his feelings were hurt that Raschid didn't trust his word about the underground pathways.  Their verbal sparring led to Raschid holding the position that he would need to talk to his friends first.  That they were a necessary part of his decision.  Pond, in turn, indicated that he didn't care for such obstacles.  That Raschid may not even have a choice.  With that, Pond departed, leaving Raschid with a sour taste and a desire for better company.  Better company did arrive in the form of Talara.  Dinner was improved hundredfold at that point.

Chiktik found his way to the side of the building.  And something more.  He found an aperture he was sure he could manipulate to let him in.  That sent him back to his makeshift workshop to craft something to simulate what it expected.   

Úzgar now, he was eating prodigiously even for him.  Must have been the priest's magic.  When someone bought a round he didn't even bother to notice when more mugs slammed on his table.  It tasted odd, though, not that he cared.  Not much existed that he couldn't eat, be it fair or foul.  When he saw someone do it again and add something to the drinks, he got suspicious.  When he confronted the weasel looking man, he fled.  It seemed a good time to work off some food, so he gave chase.

Chiktik had formed a wooden hemisphere bound with metal.  He's pretty sure it can be used to trigger the sensor if he can get the size right.  He wrestles it into the hole and is setting it up when he sense dirt dropping into the hole.  Not a little either.  He moves to leave and is hit with a shovel full.  Chiktik scrambles past other flying mounds of dirt to find a golem trying to fill his hole.  It ignores him when it commands it to stop so it rips out its circuits and shuts it down.  He's above ground when he hears a commotion.  One with Úzgar bellowing.

After a brief glance at the hole, he jumps to a nearby building.  There he sees Úzgar chasing a thin human.  The skinny human ducks around a corner with Úzgar hot on his tail.  They don't get far before 9 people boil out of nearby buildings and alleys to confront Úzgar.  It seemed logical to assist and so he leaps into the melee.

Blood  flew fast on the wind and in a short time 2 men are down, shredded by Chiktik's nail filled gun.  Úzgar bloodies several others before two others join the melee, this one a man of power.  The mage quickly freezes Chiktik fast and holds him still.  The others, seeing him no longer a threat, go after Úzgar.  Except for two.  One had a steam gun and points it at Chiktik.  The superheated water both boils and nearly drowns Chiktik.  Held by magic he can do nothing but throw his will against it to break the domination.  Úzgar, pissed at the odds, goes berserk.  One of his foes gets lucky and cuts his achilles tendon.  A few others get hits in but he cuts down 2 foes in short succession.  The mage tries to extend his domination over Úzgar as well but it's too much and he fails.  Chiktik shakes loose and between him and Úzgar they defeat them all.  Chiktik takes the steam gunner and his guard prisoner.  Then he executes the guard to teach the other man a point.  Úzgar, heavily hurt (again) falls over.  He's barely alive thanks to his earlier beating and now this new one.  When people from the town show up (finally) they are requisitioned to carry him to Conn, the Saren priest for healing.  They take off with him and begin policing up the bodies.

Raschid and Talera show up in time to take control of the prisoner.  They drag him to a nearby abandoned building (no one wanted to live near the metal building).  Inside they try to get him to talk but are interrupted when someone tries to assassinate the prisoner.  Raschid shields him while Talera tries to foil the attack.  His shield was an invocation of chaos and when the next arrow flew to kill him it disappeared instead.  The prisoner rewarded Raschid by punching him in the unmentionables.  Raschid manages to hold it together, though and forms manacles and gyves with his runeweaving.  They lose track of the assassin.  Unable to get him to talk they go back out to the street.  In short order they run into golems and Phelan.  He had come to find out what had happened.

When he hears of the planned assassination, he takes control of the prisoner.  Grimly he tells them that someone had assassinated Conn with an arrow to the throat.  It seemed to come out of nowhere, striking him where he fallen in an exhausted sleep after tending the wounded.  He promises them that he will get the prisoner/would-be assassin to speak.  Enough time in the belly of a golem will make anything speak.  They try to find Chiktik but he's trapped the opening of the tunnel he had made near the metal building with his blunderbuss.  Unwilling to try it, they leave him alone.  Unbeknownst to the others, he succeeded in opening the metal building and was pulled inside.

The day passed with some anxiety but no further attacks came.  Úzgar got back on his feet with some help from Dwarven alchemists.  While no match for Conn's divine healing, their potions were extremely effective.  Unsure of how to deal with Pond or what he will do, they craft a deal with Filimine.  She agrees to capture him in return for a hefty price in well made jewelry.  Pond had asked her to kill Raschid's companions anyway and she had turned him down out of loyalty since they had all stood during Triangularus.  She agrees to let on to a change of heart and see if he will try to hire her again.

Concerned about Úzgar, both Raschid and Talara visited.  Talara used her mental powers to re-align Úzgar's mental image of his form.  Usually this forced the body to resume a more healthy alignment.  Unknown to her, Raschid boosted her power with his chaos rune, causing runaway regeneration to build in Úzgar until he was healed and some.  Unhealthy and powerful energy surged in his body.
Later the same day word comes while they meet with Phelan that a squadron of riders have come out of the mist into the town.  The riders are from Talismondé!

In quick succession they learn that the crown has been pushing riders along the crown roads to the towns.  Also that the riders have crystals constructed by the College of Magic that can temporarily push back the mists left by Triangularus and the Nexus Storm.  This group was the first to push northeast to Leiberton.  They had imposing figure, a Throon, one Sarlen the Fortold, Paladin of Xuanth, the god of fate and destiny.  While the king's men and Phelan/Sven coordinated, Sarlen went around the town.  He spoke to the people and followed the path laid out for him by his god.  When he came to the foundations of one of the destroyed libraries he was pulled by the six-fingered hand of fate.  Filled with divine power he invested the locals with divine purpose.   In short order, people showed up and declared their desire to rebuild the library, including Zuchin, who had stayed just to plumb their depths.

Once he was flush with the knowledge of the town, Sarlen felt emboldened to do more.  Hearing of the crashed skyship, Sarlen went to the royal riders he had accompanied.  He spoke to their lead until they agreed to lend one of the crystals to him to take to the skyship.  He swore upon his god that it would be returned. 

They agreed.

Armed with its power, Sarlen the Fortold cajoled the townsfolk to join him in going to the skyship.  When none stepped forward at first, he tried again.   Úzgar didn't wait long.  Feeling a bit left out, so did Raschid and Talara.  They more than prepared and set forth.

The mist pushed away like, ahem *magic*, with the crystal in hand.  In the path they walked, fields of debris were everywhere.  Some were huge, burned out ribs of the ships or still smoldering remains that burned with lingering heat.  Unfortunate remains of those who could not escape the skyship lay everywhere.  They checked those they could reach but none still lived.

As they progressed, the crystal seemed to strobe and pulse.  It pushed the mist farther back in waves rather than a stable circle.  They were puzzled by the strangeness but proceeded on.

In one especially powerful surge, it opened up a giant area.  One that revealed what predators had moved in to take care of the remains.  Airsharks, merely 7ft long on average, babies in truth, but more than 9 of them.  They dived from the sky in waves, focusing on the Throon more than anyone else.
The battle was short, but brutal.  Talara hid under the frame of a nearby chunk of the skyship.  She used her mental and magic powers to confound them.  The best was when she used fire to explode the bladders of one of the sharks, the ones filled with gas that they used to fly. 

Úzgar hacked and beat down the sharks with wild abandon.  Two fell between them all but the rest were
destroyed when the hand of fate pulled them into a wild tangle, including one with a burning tail courtesy of Talara.  The explosion was not without its side effects.  Talara hid in the lee of the ship piece and it sheltered her.  Sarlen had been bowled over by an airshark moments earlier.  That ended up saving him when the sharks exploded since the flames went over him.  Úzgar, as fate would have it, suffered the worst.  He was surrounded by the sharks when they were pulled in and suffered the full force of their explosions.  He was in part incinerated and in part ripped apart by it.  However, the unhealthy regeneration they had filled him with earlier kicked in, absorbing the parts of airshark that covered him.  What he returned as was something not quite Orc anymore and much more airshark.  The changes were disconcerting but quickly accepted since most were not obvious, at least to those who didn't know him.   In the end, no survivors were found and they returned to town.  They did figure out however, that the skyship's crystal engine was what caused the surges.  Feeling it was useful, Sarlen rolled the Throon sized crystal back to town.

Chiktik made an appearance shortly afterward.  He explained little about what had happened and did not hint that he had been taken into the metal building.  Or that he had spoken with its AI and that it had chosen to let him live in return for using him as a means to better understand Arduin and those that dwelled here.
Things were quiet for a spell but in time, the riders needed to depart once again on the trail.  The skyship crystal engine had been used with one of the crystals to clear a huge radius around the town.  It revealed to the south a strange oddity, a titanic waterspout churning in the ground and reaching into the cloudy sky.  Given a choice of leaving with the riders and checking out the waterspout, as a group they selected the waterspout (and to stay).

Investigation of the area revealed a field of iron and rock chunks that surrounded the giant waterspout.  It also got colder the closer they came to it.  The ground was frosty with ice next to it.  Recon also showed it was filled with deep sea creatures that moved and swam without care.  It also showed that the rocks and iron chunks came from the spout.  They were thrown every hour or so with wild abandon as well as other random odd things from under the sea.

Raschid, feeling it was more magic than nexus in nature, worked on unweaving it.  He wrestled with it for hours, nearly 9 in total before piercing it a little.  The break in the magic was its undoing as water squirted out in a long jet as it revolved.  In short order it further destabilized and exploded into a vast explosion that rained down for miles.
After they recovered, they explored the debris field, finding many curious things.  A magical shell, the size of a two-story house, surrounded by layers of magic.  Obviously some magic dwelling sucked from the depths of the ocean somewhere in the world.  It was sealed tightly with magic.  A long metal shipping container.  Numerous other things of use and power.  Not to mention a lot of potential edible seafood, which Úzgar and Sarlen slurped up with gusto.

Filled to the brim they return back to town.  Chiktik bargained for wagons to move his metal container.  Inside he had found crates.  Within the intact ones he found grenades of strange design but not beyond his intellect to fathom.  Upon return he bargained to get a workshop for 10 years in the town in return for the metal container (the dwarves wanted the metal and to understand its alloys).  The rest found their own way and took a short respite.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Triangularus in Leiberton

The new game (April 2014) began with Triangularus in the Year of the Dragon, CY 487.  A fell time worsened from the previous 60 years passed by the unexpected advent of a vast nexus storm.  A storm that wreaked terrible destruction upon Arduin with its arrival.  Empowered by Triangularus the storm lingered over Arduin with destructive consequences.  

But that's the boring version.  Here's something a bit less droll.


No son of Arduin or of its world walks ignorant of Triangularus.  Be it man, elf, monster or beast in the field.  It comes  but once every 60 years.  A cycle long enough that often times a generation of men or two may pass without the sight of the three moons in triangle formation gracing the starry sky.  The cosmic event takes all the world in its grip, opening nexus gates otherwise closed and aligning them to the outer worlds known in Arduin as the hells.  No single hell nor even nine has Arduin but 30 and more.  All of them crawling with things that no one living should ever have to meet.  It's a bad time of bad times rivaled  only by the Black Equinox, which thankfully comes on an even longer cycle.

Everyone prepares. 

All seek a place of harbor.

In most lands far from Arduin the night is little but a short space of terror, a miasma of lingering antediluvian fears that brings little to emboldened that dark space.  They sigh relief come the morning after and thank Saren the sun god for a new dawn.  Those closer to Arduin or within its mountainous boundaries face a different, more deadly time.  Nobles and those with means travel as far from Arduin's borders as they can to seek out safer ground.  For in Arduin it is the worst.  There the nexus gates that provide Arduin's bounty turn into its deepest vulnerability.  Those in the countryside come to the cities and towns or shelter in place behind thick walls or in deeper cellars.  The cities and towns are the safest.  They have sprung up in areas where nexus are less numerous, if at all. 

Leiberton was no exception. 

A walled town in northeast Arduin along the king's road, Leiberton is the hometown to several local beers whose taste and desire have spread like wildfire across Arduin and other countries.  Not to mention its alchemical laboratories and golems. 

Lots of golems.

Leiberton had a policy, the same that many towns had.  A policy to bolster its defenses by hiring mercenaries or even enticing travelers with the right scent of reward to stay for Triangularus.  Which was how Úzgari Ironjaw found his way from the Orc Treatied Lands in the west of Arduin.  He was passing through on his way farther north when he was enticed by the golden glint of talk and endless food and drink.  He supplemented the core of the force that would stay above during the night.  Those brave few would ensure that anything getting past the golems would fall to their hands and not ravage the town.  Chiktik the Silver, a phraint mercenary stayed for similar reasons.  Perhaps more of the  thought of gleaning technology from the city folk than the glimmer of gold.  Raschid, was late to depart Arduin like the rest of the nobility.  He chose to stay in Leiberton rather than try to escape in the short time before Triangularus.  Phelan and Sven DiamondEye, co-mayors of the town were glad of his presence.  A master of the ancient runeweaver traditions, his power would serve well during the night.  Sklarda was more an engima: a deodanth of unknown power and designs?  Her addition would be a gift or maybe a curse that only time would tell.

They were not alone. 

Others joined for reasons the same or differing.  Anlorn came back from the frosted north from his 28 year stint in the mercenary company of the Northern Vord.  He would rather stand with family in the town, ensuring their endurance than wait with mercenary brothers in some unknown land.  Filimine was more sanguine.  She came out of boredom and a chance to visit death without the law giving a care.  Zuchin, a magic master out of Khurahaen chose to stay to continue his studies when the night passed rather than depart and need to travel back.  Conn Z'ofier, follower of the Sun God arrived to be a light in the darkness.

And more. 

Many more beyond naming.

Everyone waited the pause between the sun's rise and fall across the sky in different ways.  Most stockpiled what they might need and reinforced the walls between them in the darkness.  Those who chose to stay out in the night made ready in their different ways.  Most looked to the sky as it rumbled and churned with thunderous clouds.  They watched the spidery displays of light from lightning.  It was rare to see of clouds on Triangularus when the nights were usually clear but the moons burned behind them clear enough. 

The moons aligned and the storm broke all in a single instance.  Those outside felt it like no other and as one knew this would be a Triangularus as never before recorded.
Nexus cracked the air and the sky raining like drops from the sky joining the hundreds that opened around and within the town.   Triangularus had begun and on its heels came a nexus storm whose maelstrom birthed nexus like drops of rain. 

Battle was conjoined instantly,  blood blazoning the earth as beings fell and alien poured from the gates and tears in reality.  No time for thought existed.  Only the swing of blade, the pump of blood and blazing of magic and mind.  Even those shivered in the booms and sky ripping displays of technology.  It was like a scene out of the battles of antiquity.

In the chaos of battle few noticed the great yawning nexus that formed out of raindrops of tears in fabric of reality.  It hovered over the town for a few moments mixing the rain of two worlds and the light of its 7 moons to Arduin's triune moons before dissolving.  Such event was not alone - nexus danced into being all around, spinning like jewels in the rain before dissolving, exploding or wrenching open to disgorge all manner of beings.

To the defenders the scene was of no import as they fought to stay alive.  The golems were overran in the blink of an eye – rendered useless with a wave of energy that swept the town, muting technology everywhere.  The effect didn't last but a stray chunk of rock the size of small building took out the portion of the town that had the direction/reset switch for them. 

The defenders weathered on and amazing feats of bravery occurred to quell the hellish invaders that scourged the town, eclipsed only by the greater heroics that followed.  Time pressed on relentlessly until all paused.  Defenders and few living foes alike look around realizing the pause for an intake of breath before something new came into being.  The new was a wave of muroid, akin to upright rats mixed with all manner of beings.  They crashed over the town and its inhabitants overrunning friend and foe alike.  While they freely engaged in battle none stopped long seemingly fleeing from something more deadly than the life stealing blades of the defenders.  That thing revealed itself shortly as out of the billowing clouds that were engulfing the town blew the horror of the Change Wind.  Everything  it touched contorted from its true shape to something else.  What was left died or howled for death from the bizarre shapes they had taken.

Our focus, however, is with a small group of the defenders, who out of desire for survive banded into a merciless machine of destruction.  Úzgari, Chiktik, Raschid, Sklarda, Anlorn, Filimine, Zuchin, and Conn.  They were not alone, but stood as the core of the larger group, its heart and soul that kept them striving through the darkness. Their bravery kept the northwest side of the town free most of the night.  In fact, they only retreated back towards the center rally point after a massive tree spun into being, ripping apart and replacing a building they were using as a defensive point.  Chaos favored them that moment and its arrival harrowed their enemies more than the defenders.  The fighting back to the retreat point was a blur of action and time inhibited by the thick fog and cloud.  Nothing, not even the night sky and the triune moons were visible.  

As sudden as it began, it ended.  

Only 12 out of the near two hundred that had volunteered to stay above ground survived.  It was a somber moment and in it the realization that the greatness and unity they had shared in the face of annihilation would fade and by doing so, they would become something lesser.   

Úzgari was the first to break the silence the rumble of his gut echoing in the clear silence.  It was the trigger that broke them all apart as the few looked at each other one more time and then slipped away to rest, recuperate and find what shreds of humanity still remained.

Time was slippery in the after of the battle and days slid into a week before any knew it, especially with the dawning realization that they were cut off.  The mist and fog never retreated.  Its presence provided an insidious barrier to communication beyond the town.  It also confounded any attempts to exit. 

None that tried the mist returned. 

Also, beyond the carnage inflicted by Triangularus, a curiosity had joined the giant tree.  A great metal building, sheathed in iron and humming with energy towered in place of the golden manses that had once been the jewel of the noble quarter.

Numerous tests were undertaken to what had occurred.  Raschid was involved in some, his intellect and knowledge of runeweaving not to mention his noble status made his inclusion unquestionable.  While their attempts led to nothing, Raschid did sense something profoundly chaotic in the mist, silently echoed by his own heart, not that he let this on to the others.  Conn, the follower of Saren, the solar deity had his own suspicions of Raschid, one he did not share outside of his disapproving air. 

The others were involved in other duties: policing up stragglers from the invasion or handling the disposition of the dead.  When someone landed on the idea of fishing with dead bodies in the mist, all but Raschid volunteered to help.  More out of boredom from piling up the dead than anything else. 

Raschid was trying to pry secrets from the odd building made of metal.  He was not alone but he had more success than others, employing his rune knowledge of metals to call out its true name to give up its secrets.  It complied, speaking to him of its many layers of wafer-thin iron, there to be burned off as it moved through space and grew hot.  Something easily replenishable as a resource.  Its inside was vast, full of intricate machinery, some metal, some other materials and maybe a part flesh.  Raschid sought more but some intellect, cold and callous but bright with awareness ejected him.  Further attempts to discern knowledge were met with the same rapid ejection.

Fishing, however, was bearing fruit.  For the most part casting the corpses into the mist was grisly but necessary business, since they were the only things cast out that seemed to occasionally come back.   Once such cast brought back a body and something right behind it. 
Anthropomorphic but large, ogre in size and girth, thickly covered in horned carapace.  This specimen had seen some damage, its horned protuberances  that decorated the arms, shoulders and spine were torn and broken on its left side.  That did not impede its ability to reach over its shoulders and grasp two large bones, curved and thick, like the leg bones of a mastodon.  Its bloodthirsty expression and menacing air left little doubt as to its thoughts.  It next act to bludgeon the life from one of their team members nearby erased any lingering questions.

Chiktik and Úzgari engaged it first though Sklarda had elected to bide her time for the right moment, probing its form with psychic powers.  Chiktik brought forth his wide-mouthed cannon (thick blunderbuss++) and let loose with a blast of nails, peppering its hide and blinding it in one eye.  Úzgari got a chunk of it with a hand ax he threw as he unlimbered his ax and moved to engage.  In the rather chaotic melee that ensued, Chik fired off his pistols, winging it more, Úzgari got it in the gut with his ax, hitting with a greater modicum of strength thanks to Sklarda increasing his inertia and speed with her mental powers right as he struck.  Under a flurry of follow up blows it fell, Úzgari taking its head with one great blow of his ax.  It flew and bounced, trailing the normal disgusting slime of gore and strange metallic lines like wires.

Securing the scene, they quickly figured out it had some form of squid/jellyfish parasite that nestled on its spine and sent filament tendrils throughout its muscularity and nerves.  This seemed worth reporting and Chiktik took control of it.  Rejoining Raschid who reported for them to the town mayors they puzzled over the strange creature before setting it aside.  Chiktik, not one to leave anything made sure the "set aside" was into the bag he had brought it in and back to his belt.

While fanning out to rest, Raschid considered several options and chose to drop into a meditative trance and let his chaotic nature guide his next move.  It was, in great parts, why he had chosen to stay in Leiberton.   In a short time it pulled him to his feet and out into the town though he knew it not.  Sklarda, interested, followed.  When she saw him walk into thin air and disappear.  Only to reappear on the top of a building nearby.  Intrigued, she followed with greater interest.  In quick succession he stepped through 4-5 invisible nexus tears – gently floating rips in reality that he somehow seemed to locate.  She followed right behind him.  On his heels, one after the other, until it ended them both in some place unexpected.  No longer in the town, Raschid snapped out of his trance when the harsh chilling rain beat down on him.  He would have fallen had Sklarda not gripped him hard while digging into tree bough beneath her feet with her toe claws. 

They were both in a giant tree or so she surmised in the gloom of the falling rain.  Sklarda could just make out the glow of light somewhere behind their position but it was hard to tell from the kaleidoscope of radiation that was playing havoc with her senses.

It didn't take a genius to figure that they were likely in the giant tree that had appeared in the town during Triangularus.  It was a likely surmise that fit with what was happening.  While limited in sight, Raschid had other senses and made use of them to determine that this gate was a two-way path, unlike the others that had been one-way apertures.  He guided the two of them through and was relieved when it returned them to town.  Interest more than piqued, the two of them rounded up what was fast becoming their "group".  It didn't take long  to bring Chiktik and Úzgari in. 

Úzgari was rip-roaring drunk and spent more time singing orcish ditties than anything  constructive but it seemed a good fit nonetheless.  Chiktik was intrigued heavily and demanded in his flat voice for them to repeat everything.  Úzgari eventually wandered out in the street, drawn by something sensed more than heard.  He watched as dozens of wooden crates dropped from the sky onto the cobblestones.  It made him laugh.  Those that broke spilled out a bounty of ice-packed seafood, mainly prawns, jellyfish and squid.  He amused himself by eating it before it spoiled, ignoring the fact it may be dangerous.  He was confident in his ability to digest anything.

Chiktik, hearing the whole tale, demanded to be shown.  He mapped the path, walking it several time with them, working out the positions of the tears to their previous ones.  It was rapidly obvious they had moved.  Floated randomly by the looks of it. 

 Raschid led him and Sklarda back to the tree.  The storm still raged and Chiktik, spurred by some idea, jumped into the foliage above.   He disappeared without a trace.  They waited, then inspired by some thought, Raschid pulled upon the chaotic form within his being.  He called upon its powers and it reacted, though in a way he appreciated.   The power ripped through the tree limb they stood on and sent it falling through space towards the ground. 

Sklarda made a quick escape via the nexus rip but Raschid, unable to do so rode it all the way down.  It crashed down at the base of the tree in the town.  As random luck would have it he was equally unhurt though momentarily stunned when it crashed down.  The branch landed at an angle, making a bridge upwards into the tree.  One Raschid, and soon Sklrada and Úzgari followed.  It wasn't without some discussion: the crash had coincided with what sounded like another assault on the town.   Their debate was short lived.   Between the bug they were beginning to fondly call "Clampy" and unknown invaders they chose Clampy and the tree.  While they trekked up, Chiktik aka Clampy had a quicker introduction to the power they would soon be facing.

His jump turned into a series of "falls" as gravity flipped on him in random directions.  Chiktik followed it until he came a line of "ants", if ants were grown to two feet long and possessed of a few more limbs.  They followed a slightly different path and he followed them.  Their path led to an aperture in the tree, a large one some 20 or so feet in height and breadth.  It was guarded by warrior types, larger versions near the size of his own frame (7ft).  His arrival and subsequent attempts to communicate led them to churn out more warriors and a different type of shield ant that barricaded the way in.  At a stalemate, Chiktik hunkered down with infinite patience and continued to attempt communication with them.

It paid off.  While the others fought their way through shifting gravity and navigated towards him a scarab version of the insects pushed its way out from the tree.  It was massive in comparison.  Easily ten times as much and of a different species.  Beyond its girth and obvious dominant presence, it was modified technologically.  Its underbelly held the protruding barrel of a firearm or laser weapon (Chiktik was betting bio-laser weapon) while its "mouth" had a telescoping blade.  Avarice thoughts danced in his head of acquiring said things and plotting thus entered his mindset as he was blasted with a mix of pheromones and sound.  Their communication was vast, intricate and layered in ways only an insect would understand.  In rapid succession he made them understand he was not a threat.  They in turn let him know that they considered him only mildly threatening.  Also that the townsfolk were considered a renewable food source.  Oh, and that they came from another world, one with more suns and moons than this one and much better air. 

A lot better.  Something they missed.

More perhaps could have been ascertained but the flow of information was disrupted by the arrival of the other three.

That led to a new flurry of communications wherein Chiktik (with some help) conveyed that they were not food to be eaten and were valuable.  The unfortunate displaying the squid spine creature in the follow up discussion led to the scarab destroying it with its belly cannon (and proving to Chiktik that it was a bio-laser powered by internal organs).  After some fast footwork and rapid discussion it also led to one of the hive queens showing up.

She/it attempted to psychically command them but failed utterly in the face of the strong will of the group and Sklarda's psychic power.  Unruffled, she/it demanded they remove the "corruption" which lay in the hive as well as remove the mobile "corruption" by which she meant Raschid, whom she maligned for some reason.   After some debate (and demands from Chiktik) they acquiesced but not without reservations.  Hearing the insects wanted to leave and could do so after the corruption was removed went a long way to swaying them towards helping.  Helping anyone, from bugs to the town, was starting to become a bit wearing. 
Chiktik, as an aside, wanted his dna adjusted by a queen to remove the instant obedience and subservience to his hive's queen.  Caring less, it agreed and gave him a coded dna globule.  It also provided different ones to the others, giving them a boost in some ways as well as protecting them from the trees defenses.

Set, they dropped below with some help from the flying beetles.  It didn't take long to find the rotting corruption that took over a part of the main trunk of the tree.  They were deposited abruptly and quickly grabbed their bearings.  Raschid, the only one blind in the darkness pulled a flashlight from his pouch and used it to see.  The rot was thick here and the stench was near overwhelming.  Sklarda warned them the place was awash with potentially dangerous radiation.  Knowing the threat, they pressed forward slowly.

It didn't take much to get a reaction as mechanical spiders tore from the pulped rot, their
insides transparent, lit with burning egg-like nodules floating in chromatic green liquid.  An aperture to their front opened and closed; Sklarda identified it as the origin of the radiation she could see (and possibly the source of the rot).   Past the six of them was the rotting remnants of a large soldier beetle like they had seen earlier. 

Not a promising sight if it was defeated.

As dangerous as they looked, they fell fast.  They broke half of them before the next threat arrived in the form of a skeleton of a large framed man complete with a large crystal/gem protruding from its chest.  The crystal blazed malignantly, gaining instant attraction from Raschid (for its entropic pull) and Chiktik (for its technological applications).  The smell of gunpowder overpowered the rot as the roar of guns from Raschid and Chiktik roared.  That, combined with the more physical prowess of Úzgari and the telekinetic powers Sklarda unleashed,  ended things rapidly.  In short order all the spiders and the skeletal man-thing were broken. 

The danger, however was not over.

From the body of the beetle exploded a towering snake-reptile head, its body embedded in the pulp of the tree.  Hot waves of radiation rolled off its skin and it towered over Chiktik, Raschid and the others.  Quick action and the luck of chaos paid off in his favor as Raschid used his runeweaving to empty the power of the crystal that lay in his hands to disrupt, spin and randomize the creature's DNA.  The scrambling turned it to jelly and it liquified before their eyes.

Thankful they had survived they took stock of wounds and the situation.  Chiktik made rapid work of the spiders, ripping from them all kinds of wire and stock electronics, even scavenging what he could from the beetle.  The others were no less sanguine, finding a stock of the "food" the ants had been storing here.  None were more than rotting corpses but the ants had "discarded" the inedible and being pragmatic, they rifled it for things to identify the dead (or what might be useful).  A few things were to be had and they quickly were put away as they pushed to depart.

The discussion with the queen was faster than expected since not one but two queens greeted them when they exited.  They were rapidly deposited on the ground and watched as the tree rippled and departed, leaving nothing but a gaping hole. 

The rest from there was clean up. 

The attack while they were occupied had been taken care of easily, since some of the mechanics had gotten new golems online.  They could have cared less.  They were too exhausted to give a damn and quickly went to rest. 

In the next few days they spent some time healing their hurts and just, well, doing nothing.  Well, almost nothing.  Úzgari feasted.   After all, an Orc travels on his gut.  He also mulled over a vision he had had while fighting the spiders.  That of Gorbragna looking over his bravery and savagery with appreciation.  It was uncommon for the Urukk god to care much for Orcs.  He clenched and unclenched the hand he swore Gorbragna had filled with burning power.  It made him think perhaps this god might be worth following – at least in an Orcish way!

Raschid slipped away to confer with Zuchin.  He was confident he would be able to assist in figuring out the things they had, ahem, acquired.  He was not wrong and Zuchin offered to trade him a few items for the source of power they had acquired.    Chiktik was engrossed in his new finds and cared for no interruption.   Sklarda was a mystery.  She slipped away and no one was certain where she had gone or if she would even be back again.

The Group

Uzgari Ironjaw – Orc Savage
Chiktik the Silver (aka Clampy) – Phraint Techno
Sir Raschid – Human Runeweaver
Sklarda – Deodanth Psychic

Notable NPCs

Phelan – Human Mayor of Leiberton
Sven DiamondEye – Dwarven Mayor of Leiberton
Anlorn DiamondEye – Veteran of the Northern Vord Mercernary group
Filimine – Morvaenian soldier of fortune
Zuchin – Master mage from Khurahaen
Conn Z'ofier – Priest of Saren, the sun god

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Rebooting my Arduin game

Moving to Texas took its toll on gaming and while I managed to keep some semblance of gaming going it was more of a here and there kind of play, mainly as a guest in others' groups.  Satisfying to a certain extent though by no means as fulfilling as running a game of my own.  A campaign game shall I say.  I've ran the new ABA ruleset over skype and in person a few times  but nothing more than one shots.  So it was with a happy feeling that I kicked off a campaign game last weekend.  It went well and I'll be sharing it and continuing games here.

I felt a bit sad at switching the name though.  The Cup, the Cupcake and the Wolf has graced the site for 3 years.  It was time though.  That group and those legends of heroes and heroines - their stories will live on, though I've need to finish publishing the tales.  It will take some time - we gamed for more than 3 years almost every week, sometimes twice so.

The new game began with Triangularus that fell upon the world in the Year of the Dragon, CY 487.  A fell time worsened from the previous 60 years past by the unexpected advent of a vast nexus storm that wreaked terrible destruction upon Arduin with its arrival.  Empowered by the Triangularus stellar event the storm lingers over Arduin with destructive consequences.

So that's my  teaser.  You'll get more in the first post.