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Gaming Tales / Re: Players at wordbuilding
« Last post by David Roomes on April 01, 2018, 09:28:26 PM »
Sounds like you've got a good start on the story. Lots of political intrigue and power struggle between kingdoms. That's ripe for adventure.

Also, regarding players knowing the nature of the campaign before they roll up characters... it works both ways. I've had campaigns where the players knew something about the storyline and had the opportunity to make characters that would be particularly useful in that kind of adventure (rangers in wilderness hunts, thieves in all city campaigns, etc). But it's usually minor and subtle. Didn't seem to make a whole lot of difference. Then again, that might just be my players.

Gaming Tales / Players at wordbuilding
« Last post by Drul Morbok on March 31, 2018, 07:17:52 AM »
Unfortunately I plan a lot more than I actually play, so most of what I write here about ideas and settings still waits to be met by actual players. But here's a new idea I already found interested potential players for:

It seems to me that in many settings, players are expected to react rather than act: If the players do not step in, someone else will reach his goal (or sometimes not reach it), and this would be bad for the game world.
I want the players to be the initiators: If they do not step in, things will go on as they are, but they do have an ambition to change it.

Maybe an example would do best:
I might ask my friends "Hey, what about a campaign where the protagonists get access to an artefakt that gives total control over a race of shapeshifters created by said artefact?" (I guess the source of inspiration is obvious  ;))
One of them might say "Why, yeah. This sounds like a perfect tool for someone who wants to take over rulership in his kingdom, realm, whatever"
Another one might say "Yes, but maybe not take over rulership, just control the current rulership because we think ist is weak. We are loyal to our nation, including whatever current authority, but we dream of restoring former glory. Less petty struggles"
Than I might say "Well, in this case, I already thought of something called the War Vale. Wanna hear?"
The might say "yes, this would be a cool campaign: Using this artefact to somehow unite the War Vale. Not becoming rulers of it, more like a paramilitary secret service...never seen, but able to install a nation-wide legal system and military, getting people to get their identification from being citizens of War Vale and not of their duchies."
I might say "Wait, wait, the Rukemian Empire might get nervous about a unified military. Come to think of, it, they might prefer the current state and already be actively working on keeping it that way."
They might say "OK, in this case out goal is independence from Rukemenia"
I might say "Well, I can't promise success, but you DO have a powerful artefact, and it sounds like something that someone in the game world might try, and if we stretch the campaign over decades of ingame time, inserting time lapse periods,...and you know, even failure could make for an interesting story. Let's do it.
Oh, by the way, did I say that you DO have a powerful artefact? Well, that's not quite true. You DO have pretty certain indications of where to find it, but doing so would be the first part of the campaign.
So now let's talk about what group of characters might secretely come together to plan and conduct all of it."

And so on. In any case, much of was planned before could be changed sooner or later thereby deviating from Khoras canon. The fact that I used some Khoras names above is to (somehow) properly credit my source of inspiration, and because it comes with a lot of information I'd otherwise would have to first invent and than write in my post.
Ocean travel might seem too much, so I (or rather *we*) might do away with all geography, history and so on that comes from Khoras. A whole race of shapeshifters might be too much, so we might change it to an artefact that can create and keep alive a small number of shapeshifters at a time.

And of course the players might make different decisions in the first place. Maybe they want to use the artefact to incite a "savage" race to an uprising, centering the campaign around the Mandalar.

In any case, I'm looking forward to trying such a (at least for me) new approach, since my former approaches were more like first creating the world and the strory hook, an than presenting it to players who made their characters without knowing much about what awaited them.
The Art of the Game Master / Metaphysical sidenote: space and time
« Last post by Drul Morbok on March 31, 2018, 05:12:13 AM »
I just wanted to mention something I came up with for my game world:

Within it, people believe in a 5-dimensional world. Or, as they'd say, there are five directions, three of wich can be walked either way, and two that can only be walked one way.
The first three are spatial (up/down, forward/backward, left/right), the latter two are temporal (earlier, later).

So past and future are independent dimensions, rather than forward and backward on the same axis.
This effectively removes all kind of time travel paradoxa - if you first "travel" one minute into the future, and than one minute into the past, you do not end where (or rather "when") you started, but sqrt(2) minutes away from it (by the theorem of Pythagoras).
There is no such idea as to "turn back time" - time only turns forward, either into the past or into the future.

This might be hard to imagine for someone used to think of time as one axis, but someone used to think of it as two axes and never coming up with the idea of one axis could live consistently in this worldview, at least in a fantays word. And he would in turn find theidea of one axis rather strange.
And to be honest...I'm not even sure if modern real-world science could easily prove the idea of two time axes wrong (there even might already be such a theory of two axes, but if so I do not remember it).
Gaming Tales / Re: The Prismate – Story idea
« Last post by Drul Morbok on March 30, 2018, 10:38:35 AM »
I edited a less short version of the creation into my last post. Now for what it has to do with the Prismate:

Wortklaubers work with the primal echo of the rune words. So their powers are older than the Gods, and people are more afraid of Wortklaubers then they are of the Gods. Also the goals of a Wortklauber are more alien to mortals then the goals of the Gods.

One rune word is carried only by one Wortklauber at a time.
There is a prophecy that one say, there will be the Word War, where all Wortklaubers will fight each other until only one remains. This will be the end of the world as it is known.

In the campaign I intend, people will see the characters' encounter with the Prismate as a sign that the Word War has started.
Pieces of Eight Campaign / Re: Session 26 Summary
« Last post by tanis on March 22, 2018, 04:12:01 AM »
Damn, that was an excellent session!

I particularly liked the casual disintegration. That'll get people moving quick. XD

I'm excited for the rest of the campaign. ;D

Definitely a good birthday present, man. Thanks.
Pieces of Eight Campaign / Re: Session 26 Summary
« Last post by David Roomes on March 21, 2018, 11:10:43 PM »
Happy Birthday, Tanis.  ;)
Pieces of Eight Campaign / Session 26 Summary
« Last post by David Roomes on March 21, 2018, 11:10:03 PM »
Session 26 Summary

The Player Characters  (aka the "Heroes")

Winlock – orc/dwarf barbarian, wearing heavy chain mail armor and wielding a big war hammer
William – the party’s wizard, human male, robed and armed with a broad array of spells.
Belkor – the dashing human swordsmen/mariner wielding twin scimitars
Listig – the elven thief/archer equipped with several different enchanted arrows
Halimir - An elven archer/ranger. Good tracker. Expert archer. Has transitioned from NPC to PC.

The Current Non Player Characters

"Humble" Almahdi - A likable Padashani beggar with quick wit. Talkative. Funny. Fluent in several languages. Street smart, but somewhat cowardly.
Grim Rigor- A huge ogre warrior. A former slave and gladiator. Extremely tough. Good in a fight. Cured of a zombie infection by Belkor.

Session 26 started with the party still in the city kingdom of Herota. They had returned the star sceptre, freed the magrakian captain from prison and set everything right. They had also successfully looted the dragon's lair and retrieved the Star Scepter of Rashi.

To celebrate the return of the Star Scepter, the Khalizar decided to throw a lavish banquet to honor the heroes that had returned the cherished relic. The party graciously accepted the invitation.

As the banquet was the following night, the party had a full day of freedom. They spent the day harassed by a throng of people wanting to ask them about their adventure, the scepter, the dragon, its lair and so forth. They got numerous offerings from tailors for new clothes to wear to the banquet. Several local farmers offered up their daughters for marriage to the heroes.

Amidst all this, the party discovered a copy of the wanted poster on a public board. It looked like it had been up for many weeks. They took it down and asked the locals about it. Apparently, it was no secret that the party was the ones Anquar was looking for. The locals said that an Anquar Black Guard warship had stopped in their harbor a few weeks ago. They searched the city, planted a few flyers but then left.

That evening was the banquet. A courtyard was decked out in silks and sparkling jewels, enormous tapestries, colorful banners and flags fluttering in the wind. Minstrels on a raised dais in the corner played a lively tune as the guests entered. Tables groaned under the weight of food. The air was thick with the heady fumes of perfumed candles, scented oils and smoking braziers.

The party (including Humble Almahdi) were the guests of honor. Grim Rigor, uncomfortable with such social situations, had volunteered to stay with the wagon and guard it and all of the treasures, weapons and armor that were stored within.
The heroes came wearing new clothes that had been given to them, but only lightly armed. They socialized with the Khalizar (king) and the Khals (the nobles) of this tiny kingdom. Everyone wanted to meet the heroes and ask questions. Where were they from? Did they see the dragon? How big was it? How did they escape with the Star Scepter and their lives?

The party answered the questions as best they could without giving anything away about their true quest. For the most part, they stuck to their tried-and-true fictional narrative of being a “big game hunting party” exploring a new part of the world.

Amongst the crowd they spotted a familiar face, one of the thugs from the local gang of thugs that had tried to assault the party on the docks of this city weeks ago when they were stealing the ship. It soon became clear that he was here with several other thugs in various disguises. A brief but loud confrontation between Listig and the man soon had the thugs retreating and the palace guards arrested them.

The Khalizar gave a speech to the assembled crowd and then, much to the surprise of the party, knighted each one of them, giving them the title “Knight Commander and Defender of the Realm”.

Following that was a magnificent banquet consisting of seven courses, each more elaborate and amazing: roasted lamb stewed in fine herbs, pork in pastries, capons filled with fig jelly, pheasant stewed in grapes and honey and chunks of herb rubbed meat skewered on a glittering spiral horn which the master chef insisted was “roast unicorn”.

Finally, during dessert, the Khalizar asked to hear a full recounting of the tale of the Star Sceptre so that all could hear. Humble Almahdi (being central to the story of the scepter, fluent in the language and the most charismatic of the party) recounted the tale. Soon he had every lord and lady hanging on his every word. He embellished the story quite a bit. In his version, the party actually faced the dragon, fought it and escaped a fiery death by mere seconds.

After that, there was much dancing. The princess had softened her anger toward Almahdi and danced with him. A rather rotund noble woman grabbed Belkor and dragged him onto the dance floor. Listig and Halmir both found themselves getting a lot of attention from many lords and ladies who had never before met an elf.

With the Khalizar’s blessing, the party stayed at the palace for another six days as guests. He invited the party to stay in Herota, but the party insisted they must leave. Although he and the princess had reconciled somewhat, Humble Almahdi was determined to see this quest through to the end, and so he opted to stay with the party.

During these six days, Belkor learned to evoke the last two functions of his Talisman. Assuming “water form” and summoning “ice armor”. Both of which he experimented with and learned to control.

Meanwhile, William continued his studies into magic, like all wizards do. During his recent studies, he had unlocked two spells: The first was Delayed Blast Fireball [which could be used to recharge Belkor’s fireball gauntlet] The six day delay allowed William to cast a single Delayed Blast Fireball spell each morning, fully recharging all six gems in Belkor’s gauntlet.

The second new spell was called “simulacrum”. This spell allowed a wizard to form, out of snow and ice, a crudely fashioned copy of a person. Such a simulacrum could accompany the party and even fight with them. William plans to make a copy of Winlock and use the simulacrum on the battle field, during particularly intense battles.

On the morning of the seventh day, the party packed up their wagon, bid goodbye to the Khalizar, the princess and the court, and began the long journey ahead of them.

William, using the Talisman of Dreams, scanned for the last Talisman before they departed. It’s location was the same… somewhere in the Border Clans region that lies between the Padashan Empire and the Kingdom of Anquar. He would not be able to get a more precise reading until they got much closer to that area.

It took three days to reach the free city of Salhanrasha, which lies on the southern border of the Padashan Empire between Padashan and the Juenta Kingdoms.

[DM Note: I may have mentioned this before, but I’ll repeat it anyway… the free city of Salhanrasha, the Padashani city of Qazadeen and the Juenta Kingdoms are all new material which are not on the current Khoras map, but which are being incorporated into the new Khoras map, which I am working on now].

The party was, in essence, retracing their path, heading back up into the Padashan Empire. Previously, the party had passed through Salhanrasha without stopping. This time, they decided to stop for a day, sleep in a proper bed, have a bath and perhaps pick up a rumor or two in a tavern. It was a large town with frequent traffic and caravans passing through. The party felt that they could “blend in” to this city without attracting much attention.

While walking through the city, Listig caught the eye of a young street urchin who had a sudden look of recognition on his face when he saw the party. When the young boy noticed that Listig saw him, he turned and fled. Listig alerted the others, slipped through the crowd and chased after the boy. Between his longer stride, his camouflage cloak and his invisibility ring, Listig had no trouble catching the boy.

"What are you up to, boy?" growled Listig in a threatening voice.

“M-my name is Gellesh. There’s a man here in town… h-he told me and other street rats to keep an eye out for you. He told us what you looked like and your wagon… even had a wanted poster that he showed us. Said if you came through town to fetch him. Whichever one of us spotted you first, he would pay 1000 habans!”

“Why is he looking for us?”

“He said he needs to talk to you… that’s all”

Listig thought about it. One thousand habans [padashani copper coins] was only about 11 Drakkellian gold. Listig took out a small pouch of gold coins and bettered the offer.

"I’ll give you twelve Drakkellian gold coins if you forget all about us".

The boy readily agreed and took the gold.

Listig asked the boy where they could find this man who wanted to talk to them. The boy told them his name was Radik and directed them to a tavern.

The party went to the tavern, found the man and confronted him. The man was Padashani and did not seem threatening. He had the look of a thief about him. They agreed to meet privately in a back room.

The man introduced himself. “My name is Radik. I’ve been waiting for you here for weeks. I work for the Bellowguard. My master is Kalrotus, who now rules the Bellowguard. He bid me find you and give you this letter”.

[DM Note: Just a reminder, the Bellowguard is the thieves guild in Qazadeen, the city that had the hidden tunnel, the plague, the zombie horde and the battle at the temple with the cult].

Radik handed them a letter sealed with a wax seal.

“And this” said Radik, “goes with the letter. He said you would know what it meant… proof that the letter was from him”.

Radik set an iron ingot down on the table. It was imprinted with the standard of the Karoush Mining Consortium, the same type of iron ingot that the party had found at the destroyed caravan, the same caravan they had alerted Kalrotus to.

The party read the letter.

To Those Who Wander in the Wagon,

The Bellowguard has done well since your departure from the city. We recovered the wayward shipment of iron that you alerted us too. We have also been manufacturing and selling the antidote. From both of these endeavors, we have profited greatly. My thanks. I also thank you most deeply for your part in saving the city of Qazadeen.

Things have changed here since the plague. The civil war ended bloodily. Jhad Hassal, who rebelled against the empire, was defeated. He was publicly executed, as were the nobles who supported him. A new Jhad has been installed, one more loyal to the emperor. This change in government has been accompanied by an influx of new noble houses, new money, legions of imperial soldiers and many conscripted mercenary groups. All of this is to stamp out any remaining embers of rebellion.

Your actions in Qazadeen did not go unnoticed. Your battle at the temple, the defeat of the Death March cult, the antidote, the river. Stories of your deeds have spread in Qazadeen and beyond. They call you the Heroes of Qazadeen. The poor love you for delivering them from the plague. Countless families pray for you because the antidote gave their loved ones back to them. Children play mock battles and pretend to be you. As happens with stories oft retold, exploits become inflated, details become fuzzy. However, certain aspects of your group remain known to all – that among your party are two elves, a dwarf, an ogre – all races not common to this part of the world. Take care to conceal these four especially. If these four are seen travelling together, as a group, the chance of you being recognized increases greatly.

These same stories of the Heroes of Qazadeen have made you enemies. The new Jhad and his noble court feel such idolatry for outland commoners is offensive to the natural social order. If your journey takes you once again to Qazadeen, be very careful. Imperial solders march the streets with orders to arrest you on sight. I wanted you to know that before you marched up to the city gates unaware. If you do have need to enter the city of Qazadeen, you may use our secret entrance... the hidden path you used before. You know the one. Do you remember the name of the tavern?

You should also know that King Dalmoran has not stopped his relentless search for you. My own wizard has been unable to spy upon you even with his most powerful magic. I suspect you have somehow masked yourselves from such far seeing spells and that is good.

Dalmoran has scattered his soldiers far and wide. In every city and many a town throughout the Padashan Empire, there are small groups of his soldiers. In many places, they try to blend in with the common citizenry. They dress as we do, eat as we do, some of them even speak passable Padashi. But my men can sniff them out. Be careful. His agents are seeking you always.

I believe that Dalmoran has cast such a wide net because he has no idea where you are or where you are heading. That is your greatest advantage. Be careful if you take to the sea. His entire navy circles Qeshir, searching every coastline, harbor and port city. Ships are being stopped and searched by force.

When we first met, you told me you were searching for clues to the location of a lost treasure. I believe you withheld the full truth. I think you have found at least one of that which was lost, perhaps even more than one. Why else would Dalmoran search so desperately for you?

You are not alone in this fight. There is a group that opposes Dalmoran. Known simply as the Resistance, they number in the thousands. Mostly small groups that meet in secret and cooperate with each other. They work endlessly to overthrow him. They dwell mostly in Anquar, but they also have many agents in the Padashan Empire. The Resistance is searching for you also. They seek you so that they may ask you to join their cause. If you have truly found what you were looking for, then your aid to the Resistance could change everything. I, for one, would like to see my empire triumph over the Mad King. If you ever wish to speak to the Resistance, get a message to me or any Bellowguard agent (such as the one who gave you this letter). The Bellowguard can arrange such a meeting.

Wherever your wandering path takes you, I will pray to great Hram to watch over you. May you find that which you seek.


The party thanked Radik, took the letter and went on their way. They discussed it at length as they ate that night. The next morning, they were back on the road heading north, into the Padashan Empire, leaving Salharasha behind them.

They decided to avoid Qazadeen. No reason to go there. Better to continue on to the next Talisman. There was a brief discussion of which way to go. Sea? Too long of a voyage and not a good idea according to the letter. Cut west directly through the Tanlur Mountains? That would take too long and they would most likely have to leave the wagon behind and go on foot. In the end, they decided that the best route would be to follow the imperial roads... from the Broadlands up to Ankan and over to Ikemar. Ikemar stood at the western border and held the only easy pass through the mountains into the Border Clans.

The party started the journey. It was 15 days travel from Salhanrasha to Ikemar.

Kalrotus’ letter had warned them about the Blackguard leaving teams in every town, disguised as locals and the way two elves, an ogre and a dwarf/orc stood out. They decided that, from here on out, whenever it seemed necessary, they would use the Talisman of Blood to alter the appearance of those four to look like Padashani.

The journey north was uneventful until day 10. On the morning of that day, they came upon a group of bandits in the processing of attacking a caravan. Some caravan men were still fighting, but several lay dead. The women were being rounded up and thrown into a cage wagon.

The party sprang into action. Listig handed Winlock one of the teleport arrows and fired the other. The arrow arced high and hit dirt. With a flash, Winlock was in the middle of the fight, swinging his new hammer. [An enchanted hammer he looted from one of the defeated undead knights last session].

The rest of the party charged in. Among the bandits was a very big one, standing almost ten feet tall. Possibly a small giant. And the giant had a huge ten foot scorpion that he was treating like a pet. Those two proved to be very difficult to kill.

Belkor used his magic boots to race into battle and then used one of the more powerful functions from the Talisman of Sea. Water enveloped him and took the form of a giant humanoid body, made of water, with him riding inside. In this form, he was able to swing huge fists of water and deliver devastating blows. In this form, Belkor and the giant began trading blows, back and forth.

Listig and Halimir kept up a constant barrage of arrows into the fray while Grim walked into battle swinging his sword and William fired spells.

The battle raged for only a minute or two before the tide of battle was turned. Very quickly, a dozen bandits lay dead along with the giant and the scorpion. Another dozen bandits were fleeing. The party noticed that once they were well away from the battle, the fleeing bandits were all heading in the same direction, up into the hills. Their cage wagon was facing that direction too.

After mopping up the battle and stabilizing some of the wounded caravaners, the party charged up the hill in pursuit of the fleeing bandits. About a mile into the hills, they came upon the bandit’s camp in a narrow box canyon with only one way in, a narrow path barricaded by a crude palisade and spiked gate. A cluster of bandits were just inside the gate, arguing with each other, grabbing weapons and making quick repairs to the gate.

William cast fly on Belkor who immediately took to the air. Belkor flew over the gate and the surprised heads of the bandits and dropped a fireball [from his gauntlet]. Ten of the bandits died screaming. Two others managed to dive out of the way, only getting singed a little.

The party quickly destroyed the gate, subdued the two remaining bandits and searched their camp. It seemed the bandits had been at this for months and had amassed a small fortune in stolen goods, partial cargos and so forth. Casks of wine, various foodstuffs and crates of cargo were piled high. They also had several prisoners, a mix of men and women.

A quick scan for magic revealed little. There were a couple of potions and scrolls hidden among the booty, but no major magic items.

While searching through the stolen goods, the party discovered three sets of weapons, armor and helmets of Blackguard soldiers. Immediately, they realized that three of the prisoners that the bandits had put in cages were Blackguard. It was easy to sniff out which three.

The party released the other prisoners and sent them down to join the caravan. The three Blackguard soldiers were kept in their cages. The party questioned them. Two were cooperative, wanting only to live. The third simply spat at the party.

It turned out that these three had become separated from their unit in the midst of a terrible sand storm. Afterwards, they had wandered the desert for three days, almost dying of thirst until they stumbled upon the road and a caravan. They joined the caravan and travelled with them for only two days before the bandits attacked it and captured them.

The three men were just troopers, the most common type of soldier in the Anquaran Blackguard. When asked about the Blackguard army, the men were only able to confirm what the party already knew… that Anquar had lost track of the party and cast a very wide net… that they had small units of soldiers stationed at dozens of cities and towns on the lookout for the four “Knights of Endroad Keep”.

The party discussed it, but decided they had no choice but to kill the three soldiers. If these three somehow found a way to reunite with the Blackguard army, the enemy would have an exact date and pinpoint position of the party. So they killed them. Three unarmed men. A difficult choice, but a necessary one.

Having freed all the prisoners and finding nothing else of interest in the camp, the party resumed their journey.

A few hours later, they reached the city of Ankan. They stayed only one night in Ankan. While in this city, they realized that they needed to return the bones of the man they found in the Juenta fortress weeks before. These were the bones of the man whose sword, Fate Breaker, Belkor now carried. The note found with the bones and the sword had asked the finder to return the bones to his family in the capital city of Aramanda.

The party had been in the empire long enough to learn of its imperial postal system – a network of caravans and horse messengers that connected all the major cities of the empire. The party gave the bones to the imperial messengers along with a note and enough payment to ensure it got to Aramanda.

Having done that, Belkor felt he had earned Fate Breaker.

The party continued on. The rest of the journey to the city of Ikemar was uneventful.

Although the party had been in the Padashan Empire now for many weeks, they had not set foot on the far western side. None of them knew much about this region or the city of Ikemar.

When Ikemar finally appeared on the horizon, they saw that it was built around a huge, central fortress. There were mountains a few miles away to the north and to the south. A tremendous wall stretched from one mountain to the other, a distance of about 40 miles. The city of Ikemar lay exactly in the middle. The fort, the city and the wall guarded the pass between the two mountains.

The party entered with other caravans going into the city and did their best to blend in. They noticed that, despite the intense summer heat, there were dozens of buildings with huge chimneys churning out black smoke. They soon found out that these were kiln houses baking bricks for the wall and that the construction of the wall was not finished, but ongoing.

The party chose a tavern at random, one called the Horn of Plenty. (They liked the name… it sounded less threatening than the Gaping Maw, the Sand Viper’s Den, the Broken Spear, the Desert Dog and others).

Within they were greeted by a hugely obese, bearded padashani dressed in silk robes and covered in rings and jewels. His lustrous black beard was braided and adorned with gems.

Come in my friends, come in! Ah, by the look of you, you have traveled quite some distance. And you have the look of wealth about you. I am Babook ibn Hashan and YOU are my guests.

He snapped his fingers at a mostly nude servant girl who brought out goblets and began filling them with wine.

My elven lords! Welcome! It has been a long time since I have had any of your noble race grace my humble establishment!

Now, all of your… how may Babook bring a smile to your dusty and road weary faces today? May I interest you in a platter of roasted sand lizard? Scorpion surprise? Honeyed fire cakes? Perhaps some hashish? Or a girl? Ask and it shall be yours!

The party began asking questions about the wall and the lands and people beyond. Babook said that, if they were really interested, they should speak to a man who was in the back. Babook had one of the servant girls fetch him.

Not long after, as the party ate and drank, a roguish human appeared. He was an Ithrian southerner, by the looks of him. He was wearing a mix of Padashan and Drakkellian clothing and reeked of ale.

He introduced himself as Kulvarim. He was a mariner on leave while his ship was undergoing extensive repairs. He had travelled to Ikemar to see the wall and see a real live mandalar. He had been living in Ikemar for six weeks. He sat with the party and answered their questions in exchange for ale.

What can you tell us about the city?
The Great Fortress of Ikemar and its city protects the western border of the empire. There are more than a thousand soldiers stationed here. There’s another, smaller fort at each end of the wall.

Why have they built a wall here?
Wall’s not finished yet, but they’re getting close. Another year, I’ve heard. The wall is mainly to stop mandalar raiders from coming across the border and attacking Padashani villages and towns. But also it’s to keep padashani civilians from wandering into clan territory. The jhad, that’s the local provincial governor… he’s declared no one goes across the border without permission. Other than the occasional well armed caravan or military patrol, no one goes into clan territory. It’s pretty much suicide. The mandalar kill everyone.

Tell us about the lands beyond the wall and the mandalar.
It’s known as the Border Clans region. Some ancient empire held sway there a few thousand years ago. Now, nothing but ruins. Lots of ruins. It’s home to the mandalar clans. Big brutes, horns. If you ask the locals, they’’ll tell you all kinds of stories about how the mandalar are vicious, blood thirsty, primitive barbarians. They’ll even tell you stories about the mandalar eating their prisoners. In truth, I think their view is a bit skewed. They’ve been fighting the clans for years. War has a way of brewing hate. I’ve spoken to a mandalar. There’s one living right here in the city. And he didn’t seem like a mindless savage. You should talk to him if you really want to understand the mandalar. He could probably tell you all kinds of things about the mandalar and the lands beyond. He’d know better than anyone. But I’ll tell you this… the mandalar are tough. Tough as iron and strong as an ox. Just one mandalar is worth five padashani soldiers. But what really scares the piss out of both Anquar and Padashan is the horns.

Yeah, a mandalar’s head is crowned by two huge horns. Something about the horns makes it so magic don’t work right on them.

How do we get beyond the wall?
Why would you want to go beyond the wall? All you’ll find is battle and blood. Well, there’s a lot of ruins. But if you’re tomb raiders, give it up. It’s not worth it. They say there are hoards of treasure out there, but there are also a hundred thousand mandalar warriors who are as likely to butcher you as talk to you. The only people crazy enough to go out into clan territory are the caravans and the soldiers. But they do so in groups. Large, heavily armed groups. And sometimes they don’t come back. Well, except for the Iron Dragon. I think that one has survived the journey a dozen times.

Where do the caravans go?
They trade with Anquar. While the Kingdom of Anquar and the Padashan Empire are technically still at war, they do still trade. The wagon caravans are politically neutral and make the occasional trading run.

What’s the Iron Dragon?
A very large and well known wagon. Well, actually, more like a land ship. You’d have to see it for yourself.

The party asked where they could find the mandalar he had mentioned. Kulvarim said the mandalar was a slave working in the brick district. They went there and found the mandalar easily enough. He was a tall, well muscled humanoid covered in grey black fur. His two great horns had been sawn off of his head, leaving only stumps. He limped on a mangled left foot and his back was covered in old whip scars.

There was a confrontation with the slave owner, but after a tense standoff, they came to an agreement. The party would get to speak to the mandalar for 10 minutes and the slave owner got to keep his health. However, the mandalar refused to tell them anything unless they purchased his freedom. The party ended up buying the mandalar’s freedom for 100 ujan (padashani gold coins) in exchange for the mandalar serving as a guide for them.

Having procured a guide, they decided the best way to get into the Border Clans was as guards on one of the caravans. They thought about sneaking through the unfinished part of the wall or hiking through the mountains, but the former could result in capture and arrest and the latter would take a very long time.

They went to the caravan plaza inside the main city gates that face the Border Clans territory. This huge stone plaza held hundreds of wagons. One stood out… a massive contraption of wood and steel. It was as large as a small ship, three stories tall and had eight giant wheels.

They approached the enormous wagon and heard one man yelling at three others saying “don’t come back until you find him!”. The three scattered and the party approached the remaining man. He was a big man with a mane of white hair and a moustache. He didn't look Padashani, more like an Ithrian who had been living here a long time. He introduced himself as Kaizan, Captain of the Iron Dragon.

The party said they wanted to get across the border and asked if they could hire on as guards for part of the trip or as passengers. Kaizan explained that there were only certain guards spots available and they had to be approved. There were also strict laws against smuggling anyone over the border. They discussed a bribe, but Kaizan said doing so would risk his license. For that, he wanted no less than 100 gold coins for each of them and 300 to transport their wagon. They were unable to barter him down.

The party was reluctant to part with more than a thousand gold ujan (which was almost all of the wealth that they had in Padashi currency). They decided to ask him what he had been yelling about when they walked up and he explained that his dog had gone missing three days ago and none of his men could find the animal.

The party said they would find his dog for him and asked if the dog would be worth the price of smuggling them across the border. Kaizan agreed emphatically. If they could find his dog, he would get them and their wagon across the border and into Clan territory, no charge. He would need to come up with some cover story to explain why they were towing a wagon behind the Iron Dragon, but he said he could do that. Kaizan gave them a description of the dog and told them the last place anyone had seen it.

The party walked out of the plaza and William pulled out the Talisman of Dreams. Finding the dog was a trivial matter for the ancient relic and it quickly pointed them to the Desert Dog tavern.

When they arrived at the tavern, it was immediately obvious that this was a cover for the local thieves guild. A number of shady looking characters were scattered about the dimly lit drinking room. William used his Talisman to mentally “encompass” the whole building and probe it. He sensed a secret door in the back with stairs leading down to a subterranean room with three people and a dog.

They asked the barkeep about the dog downstairs and several faces at a nearby table looked up from their card game with alarmed expressions. One of the men got up and growled at threat at the party, telling them to leave. Tensions rose as strong words flew back and forth. The party refused to leave and the thieves threats got more dire. Finally one of the thugs drew a blade and bellowed  “Enough talk!”. He charged.

Listig fired two arrows as William cast a disintegration spell. The arrows sunk into the man’s chest a split second before a sizzling green ray struck him and vaporized him on the spot. Stunned silence swept the room.

"Give us the dog".

The youngest thief at the card table stumbled toward the secret door at the back of the tavern and ran downstairs to fetch the dog.

Ten minutes later, the party was walking back into the caravan plaza with the dog licking their faces. A tearful reunion followed between Captain Kaizan and his dog, “Saffron”.

The Iron Dragon was set to depart at noon the next day. The party laid low the rest of the day and that night, staying off the streets and out of sight, not wanting to attract any more attention than they already had. Early the next morning, they hooked up their wagon to the back of the Iron Dragon and all of them spent the morning hiding inside the huge vehicle.

That morning, as the crew of the Iron Dragon was preparing for departure, the party finally saw what propelled the massive thing… six huge rhino-like creatures, very similar to the beast of burden they had used in the land of the secambru giants. These six enormous creatures were yoked into harnesses beneath the vehicle between the front two and rear two axles. The creatures were completely inside the vehicle and protected from attack.

The party stayed out of sight, hidden in a small cargo compartment inside the Iron Dragon, when a group of city officials came by inspecting things.

At noon, onlookers clapped and cheered as the enormous city gates slowly swung open and the Iron Dragon rolled forward, heading out into the realm of the Border Clans.

And so the adventure continues…

Gaming Tales / Re: The Prismate – Story idea
« Last post by Drul Morbok on March 09, 2018, 02:41:48 PM »
I'm glad you like the idea.
In my game world, there'd be a saying that „you don't master magic- it's magic that choses you to wield it“.
It's symbiotic and individual..there'd be no „fire mages“ as a generic class, there'd be one „fire wortklauber“ somehow inspired by superheroe scenarios where there's one character for one supernatural power.
Everything about the character would fit with the superpower, and vice versa.

In my game world, the wise-guy from above would now continue with a lesson on words:
„In short:
In the beginning, there was the word.
Than there was the sentence.
Then there was the question.
Than there was the story.
Than there was you.

In long:
In the beginning, the world was bijectively described by the runes inscribed into the scales of the Black Dragon Norazûhl: There was no aspect of the world that was not described by exactly one rune, and there was no rune that did not describe exactly one aspect of the world. Our scientheologists speak of this as the world-word-monade, but this is rather inaccurate, as there are what we call words that do not refer to aspects of the world, like "as".

Than there was The Ancient Gnome Mother Ms. Chief, and She read alout each word on each scale, and the echoes of the words rose up and flew around and about. Our scientheologists call this the word-echo-dual, and since then, the world is described by the echoes of the words. It is also often called the beginning of time, despite the obvious inner incoherence of such an idea.
What today we call "demon" is actually such an echo, a manifestation of a prime aspect of the world.

And the words mixed and joined together. Our scientheologists call this the word-sentence-multitude, but the term "sentence" has somehow changed its meaning and today mostly refers to a sequence of words. Originally it named what we might call the fabric that hold the words together.
What today we call "Gods" are actually those sentences, as they built words into terms.
And yet, it was still such that sentences described the world, if only in an infinite multidude.

But there was one sentence that was not satisfied with this dualism of describing and creating the world. His name was Retmayeb an he started describing the Gods. He actually mocked them, claiming that while they where able to shape word and worlds at their will, they still where "all shape and no content".
So the Gods grew angry and worked together to cast Retmayeb into what they considered a miserable shape with a torso, two arms and legs and a head, and forced him to reproduce livings of his own alike for all eternity, and they ripped of his eyelids so he had to  watch his creation forever.

And here we are, His creation, taking pride in it and our duty:
Retmayeb mastered infinity once by describing all Gods, and he will master eternity and rise again.
We are scientheologists, knowledge is our faith, since the day we, his creation, have described the the whole world, He will be all there is to say about the world, making Him truely Everything and Always."

[GM note] Remember that this is not a "true" creation myth of my world, it's some guy talking to the player characters. First and foremost this means that he is translating the myth into their language, and as we all now, you can't translate without losses. For example, the relationship between "sentence" and "God" can only poorly be translated into the language of Earth dwellers.
Also this guy tends to get carried away. At first he tries to stick the long version to the structure of the short version, but he doesn't keep it up.
When interrupted, he insists on finishing the story first, but after that, he will try his best to make things clear by elaborating vague points. [GM note off]
Gaming Tales / Re: The Prismate – Story idea
« Last post by David Roomes on March 06, 2018, 09:25:44 PM »
It's late here too and I'm going to keep this short. But I do look the imagery you described. First of all, the idea of the asymmetrical patterns and the two dimensional "flat" nature of the Prismate sounds like it would be visually awesome. The kind of thing that ILM or some other special effects studio would make look really cool if it were a movie.

I also like the idea of mages shaping magic with just words. That's a cool idea.

Finally, the method of his dodge, sucking into a cone in one space and spewing out in another. Yes, I know exactly the Photoshop effect you are describing. I can picture it. At least, when you described it, I envisioned the effect that one gets when you apply a polar coordinate filter to a square image and adjust the intensity. You get this really good effect where the image is sucked into a single point of nothingness, but reappears in a different location, spewing out of another single point. Anyway, that's what I pictured.

Anyway, interesting stuff!

Gaming Tales / Re: The Prismate – Story idea
« Last post by tanis on March 04, 2018, 03:00:17 AM »
It sounds interesting, and I really like these ideas. I have a few thoughts/questions, but it's 6:00am here and I haven't been to sleep, so I'll have to table them until later, but I'm looking forward to hearing more.
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