Just a very quick update.

Todd rocks. He’s done everything that needs doing for the prelim release. This means three things.

  1. I will be locking down everyone that’s submitted their survey between 3pm and 5pm on November 24th.
  2. Everyone that has ordered digital files – Lost Hall, Dungeon Grappling, The Manor Collection, and Bogie’s Map Pack should be able to download it that day. All files that will be distributed have already been uploaded to Backerkit’s digital distribution hub.
  3. I submitted Lost Hall for a preliminary proof hard copy a few days ago. The files are in prep; hopefully I’ll be able to order the hardcopy Real Soon Now, or receive word of changes.

What might those changes be? Usually something with bleed (stuff that runs over the place where the pages are trimmed) or Total Ink Coverage. If the colors in an image are too dark, they can flake or not stick. That happened to me before with CreateSpace (which is why I’m not going with them at all this time around).

But if the files are approved and the proof looks good, I’ll let y’all know and then start a 10-day countdown clock. That’s when you guys can read your digital files and let me know if I missed anything.

Then Todd and I will make final changes, submit those files to the two printers, and start the clock ticking on orders. I find it likely – but not certain – that folks will start to get physical copies of Lost Hall and Dungeon Grappling in January. February at the latest.

Ironically, because printing through DriveThru/Lightning Source through the UK has a lot of print volume behind it, my international backers are very likely to get their product before my domestic backers. I will keep everyone informed of exactly where we are in the process though.

Again: mad props to Todd, John, Juan, Gerasimos, Michael, Rick, and Cornelia for meeting or beating all deadlines laid before them, which allowed production to go as smoothly as it has (to date, anyway). We’ve done very well, schedule-wise, and that kind of performance requires a great team.

What is GURPSDay?

GURPSDay is something that started as a bit of a lark in February 2013. I somewhat off-the-cuff decided that Thursday is “GURPSDay” and from there, started ensuring every Thursday, I had a GURPSy post going on.

Other folks got in on the act (or were already posting lots more than me about GURPS, but joined in on the Thursday thing).

Later – much later – Phil Reed apparently got wind of the GURPSDay thing, and wondered out loud about it. That resulted in this Daily Illuminator post (and to be fair, Sean and I are long-time friends, and since he was one of the first interviews I did on Gaming Ballistic’s Firing Squad, he knew about the blog and my Thursday thing).

Then Jeffro Johnson helped me out, and wrote a PERL script that trolled RSS feeds and pulled in and formatted different posts, including a nifty Precis feature that allows commentary to be embedded in the post. Merlin Avery then improved the script in ways that are beyond my ken, but made it much more likely to successfully import RSS feeds from various platforms. He is a ridiculously accomplished code Jedi.

In any case, that’s where GURPSDay really took off, since the import and formatting of the content was automatic. To date, I now have 92 blogs on the roll, and we pick up one every few weeks.

Everyone Can Play

GURPSDay includes some real ringers. Christopher R. Rice (Ghostdancer on the GURPS Forums) effectively owns Pyramid magazine, he’s published there so much (deposit a thousand dollars, and the bank owns you; deposit a billion dollars and you own the bank). Peter Dell’Orto, ToadKillerDog and the author of GURPS Martial Arts and winner of the Dungeon Fantastic prize for elucidating the Principle of Conservation of Ninjitsu is there too. Lots of other GURPS authors – such as the inimitable Hans-Christian Vortisch (High-Tech, Tactical Shooting, Gun Fu) are on there.

Some aren’t (or aren’t yet) GURPS authors, but post amazing content nearly every day. Some post less frequently . . . but the script doesn’t care. If you post that week, it gets scooped up.

How do you get on the list? Just email me and ask. The note in every GURPSDay post says:

If you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.

That is sincerely meant. If you write about GURPS, or want to, start up a blog and have at it. Or contact me or one of the others known to host Guest Posts until you’re comfortable doing it on your own.

Is all I need is your blog name, the name you want to be credited under (some, like myself, use their real names; others use pseudonyms), the RSS feed for your blog, and the blog address.

The two most common blog platforms are Blogger (a bit more editing-friendly) and WordPress (less WYSIWYG, but can more easily be turned into your own domain and can host eCommerce natively). The script likes both of them pretty well.

Write Here, Write Now

GURPS is resurgent these days. From the Dungeon Fantasy RPG boxed set to now being available to millions of customers on DriveThruRPG and other affiliates, there has never been a better time to investigate and play the system.

The community is vibrant if occasionally fractious . . . pretty much like every internet community everywhere. There are some truly helpful folks on there, who if approached with any reasonable degree of civility will bend over backwards to help you out.

Oh, did I mention those people include the Line Editor, Sean “Dr Kromm” Punch, and his plucky sidekick Jason “PK” Levine, the Assistant Line Editor? That some of the most prolific authors will engage in nearly any constructive conversation on powers, world-building, how to run a “rules-light” GURPS game, or how to prune away the monstrous amount of material that could be used into just the right amount of material that you need?

It’s a great group of folks, for the most part. And if you have something to say about GURPS on any sort of regular and constructive basis . . . I want to include you in the blog roll.

And to the existing 92 bloggers: WRITE MORE. 

So: GURPSDay!

Welcome to the second year of GURPSDay, and here’s the pull for this week.

We’re currently drawing content from 92 blogs. We added GURPS Mega Dungeon, by John Morrison to our rolls today! As always, the new blogs are listed first. Only 8 more to go until we’re pulling from 100! But we’ll need your help. And if you just started a GURPS blog – and I know that some of you have – email me and get on the list!

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all the posts.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Nov 10 – Nov 16, 2017”

What Happened Before

The team had tracked down a whole mess of stuff in order to sort out who was perpetrating all the badness over the last three days. We figured out that someone was likely using Babel Stones to help naturally force the Mist to help provide cover for the supernatural activities and even the mundane ones. We tried to take the fight to the enemy, but Kamali fell down a well or something and broke stuff. We healed him up, but discovered we were adjacent to the Labyrinth, the extra-dimensional space that The Conclave uses to test their members and also keep Bad Guys in jail. We meet the Lady of the Lake . . . or one of them, anyway . . . and trade in some of our problems for others. Including giving up the cursed sword to a lady with long experience in caring for magic swords. And Amos gave up his slingshot. He’s still long in the face about.

Dramatis Personae

Kamali Blackshear (18): Kamali is a young man in his late teens. He is healthy and is of mixed ethnicity of Caucasian South African and native South African. He is a determined youth who believes in a justice of his own, likening himself to the knight of the round table whom he has read deeply into. Just as they stood against the darkness of their age so too does Kamali seek to do the same. For his sister, for his friends, and for the world.

Tag: “A knight without a sword wielding freaking Excalibur carrying a faith nobody believes.”

Lorenzo DeModouco (18): A man with movie star looks and a voice that belongs on the radio. Slowly coming to grips with the fact that he isn’t exactly human, but a “Lupus Dei” – “Wolf of God” – otherwise known as a Benandanti. He’s still cheery and always trying to make others happy, but has become a shrewd student of human behavior, which he uses for the benefit of the rest of his team. Lorenzo’s recently joined the Boston Fire Department as a volunteer as a means to get access to places he normally shouldn’t be able to go as well as medical gear and information that might not be available to the public. He’s become a master of spear fighting and like the rest of his brothers is a highly capable combatant.

Tagline: “You can take me to the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down and I won’t be turned around.”

Amos M. Humiston (20): The Linguist and Librarian. He is the brains to the rest of the group’s brawn; but by the same token, he’s slow and cautious compared to the other Orphans, preferring not to charge forwards until he has the answers that he’s looking for. Those same answers that he more than happily provides the rest of the group when they turns to him about the more esoteric aspects that they’re working with and against. Recently Amos has nearly completed his double Masters in Library & Information Science Archives and History and has also managed to get a rather special job lined up. He has also learned from others that he hold the potential to be a Sorceror which if unlocked would be able to enhance his already considerable talent with ritualistic magic.

Tag: “True alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.”

Gabriel MacAlister (18) – Built like the natural athlete he is, he is tall, strong, and solidly good-looking, but deeply scarred from much combat. He’s missing his lower leg, which he lost fighting zombies. It is capped by a carbon fiber prosthetic that doesn’t seem to interfere much with his activities. A quiet and hard-working man, always ready to lend a hand with any work, which he will do without complaint or obligating the other person to respond. He is an expert martial arts teacher, and has been following in the footsteps of a carpenter for some time now. Emphatically not a pushover or weak personality, but also not one to purposefully show off. Has been in many horrible places and seen many horrible things; he’s a bit of a compulsive planner as a result, as well as always feeling that most folks don’t really know how lucky they are. He was cursed to carry a magical sword for a while, and gave into its Wrath before it was parted from him magically. He’s since given it up, in exchange for unknown burdens.

Tag: “To serve others is the highest calling; to protect the meek the noblest endeavor, and our works are judged by the effort that went into them”

Hey . . . Where Do These Stairs Go?

Dates: Starting Date: May-4-2000 (2030 hours) ends on May-5-2000 (0030 hours)

After we gaze at the Lady of the Lake’s departing . . . back . . . a set of stairs opens up and we follow them down into a very large cavern that seems to be made of natural-ish crystal formations. There are random objects here and there. Ancient stuff, mostly weapons and jewelry, armor and other wearables. We look around and get the feeling we shouldn’t be there.

We added another player today. Rob, playing Devin Broadhurst. We realize that he’s actually been there our entire lives. But our memory of him goes away as soon as we stop looking at him. Apparently we’re all either Dory or Fifty First Dates, Ceteri version.

Kamali calls out for Vivien, the “good” Lady of the Lake. She comes around the corner and her eyes are wide. “You shouldn’t be down here – you need to leave before she comes.”

Yeah, that’s the sister we want to avoid. Time to Bomb Squad this locale (“if you see me running, you want to be ahead of me). We beat feet out of there. Vivien follows us up the stairs . . . and a wooden old-style chest is, well, following her along. Bobbing and floating. She walks over to us, chest in tow, and Devin asks “what’s with the chest?”

It opens, and Devin peeks in. Swords, and all sorts of things. She reaches in, pulls out a sword, and hands it over to Gabe. And then she hands me a shield, made of all white metal, with a red cross decorated on it. It bears an uncanny resemblance to blood. “Ma’am, the last time I handled a weapon coated in blood, it didn’t end well for me.” “This is the shield of Josephus – the Shield of Evalach.

She pulls out the sword from the scabbard, and the blade is also white. “What’s it made out of ?” says Devin. “Faith,” says the Lady. “How do you make a material object out of faith?”

“With faith. This is Arondight, the sword of Lancelot du Lac.”

Kamali says “Devin, if you keep interrogating the nice lady with the weapons I’m gonna roundhouse-slap you to the face.”

She pulls out another sword, and dubs Kamali a knight with it. And hands it to Kamali. He looks at it . . . one side says “Take me up; the other says Throw me away.”

Oh. My. It’s Excalibur.  Continue reading “Ceteri Campaign: S1E8 – A Simple Wooden Cup”

The Lost Hall post-campaign goings-on still go on, and they are going strong.

Backerkit, Huzzah!

This one’s all on y’all. So far, in one day, about 60% of backers have filled out the surveys. This is good. I’d like everyone to do it, of course, but if you are one of the 115 backers that expects to receive Lost Hall of Tyr or Dungeon Grappling as a physical product, I must have your shipping address, and I’d very much like it through Backerkit.

I’m also quite gratified at the number of you guys that are electing to procure some of the cool Add-Ons that are available. I’ll note that the Manor Collection is a great deal, and if you’re an OSR fan, you’ll dig it completely. Dan’s map collection is very cool, and if you play via VTTs you’ll appreciate being able to drop in a new encounter at short notice.

Stythja Still Available

Just a shout-out for this one. The top-tier pledge was the styðja, or patron level. It features the following three things:

  • The opportunity to generate a character that will effectively be a “pre-gen” for Lost Hall
  • The character will be visualized as an epic figure by one of the artists who worked on the project.
  • Finally, part of this process is a preview of the Character Generation, Races, and Classes chapters of Dragon Heresy, my forthcoming SRD5.1 full RPG.

Here’s a peek inside:

I can tell you I had a lot of fun with these, and there’s a lot more in there than just what appears in the SRD. History, different takes on the races and classes, entirely new clerical domains based on Norse mythology, new abilities and fighting styles, and more. I can tell you this: shields are going to get way cooler.

It’s still a work in progress . . . but there’s been a lot of progress and playtesting, so while it’s not perfect, it will give a feel that captures the kinds of characters that will fit easily into the world of Etera, and provide what I hope is an exciting glimpse of what’s to come.

I will be contacting those that have elected the Styðja character levels shortly after the Backerkit phase ends and distributing the required digital files at that time. The PDF collection of characters thus created will be available prior to April 2018, as promised in the Kickstarter rewards section.

Production Progress

Todd emailed me what looks to be the final file (maybe one change pending), and I’ve approved it. This means that he can start building the Table of Contents as well as hyperlinking the document.

The result of his hard work, and the excellent responsiveness of the editing and art teams, is that unless something drastically horrendous happens, the penultimate version of the digital product will be in your hands within the week after the Backerkit phase closes.

As noted in the prior update, two things happen during this phase. Firstly, I send the files to my two print vendors for proofs (actually, this is likely to start happening this week or next). Just as importantly, you guys review the heck out of your document and find what we missed. There’s always something. Check spelling, clarity, and layout issues. Test all the hyperlinks. Head to the blog post on Gaming Ballistic’s website and leave a comment in the thread that will be started for the purpose and I’ll update the “Errata” list with notes on whether we can accommodate the request. Feel free to suggest other hyperlinks that you feel will be useful.

Map Pack

The maps for the adventure are provided as 8.5×11 full pages in the back of the adventure. They are also provided at a lower (more screen compatible) resolution of about 200dpi, and are 32″ x 40″ in size at that scale. They will come as a compressed file of JPEGs so they can be pulled into your Virtual Table Top program of choice, or you can have them printed as posters or anything else.

They are full color, and have no grids or scales on them, so that for those that do use the VTT’s native grid functions, you don’t get the case where either you can’t quite match up the map grid with the program grid, or for folks like me that like hexes, have to deal with a hex overlay on a square grid.

I am working with Bogie maps on a few fun extras to make choosing between grid options easy, but no word on those yet.

Endgame and Next Projects

So that’s where we are. Thanks for coming with me so far, and please do take advantage of the “share” functions of the various forums. Give the project a re-share from Kickstarter or Backerkit. Even better, throw down a nice comment or two on the usual places: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit, or the various DnD-flavored groups or RPG forums.

This won’t be my last product. I expect that within the month I’ll take delivery of a 115,000-word manuscript for a completely original Sci-Fi game that I cannot wait to get started on, which includes core rules and three short scenarios. If that goes well, the author has 27 more adventures ready to go.

And of course there’s Dragon Heresy, and I hope that I’ve convinced you that I have the project management chops to deliver even a very large project on time. The only reason that one isn’t out already is that I want to do the same quality job with it that I have done (says me) on Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr. That means art . . . and lots of it. The Dragon Heresy draft that went to Ken Hite (yes, that Ken Hite) for editing was roughly 400,000 words, or approximately 800 pages in 3 volumes. I’ll need anywhere from 200 to 400 pieces of art to do it how I want . . . and that requires a very successful campaign.

When it comes time, I hope you’ll help me with that.

Until then, back to the wilds of production for me!

Last night Kickstarter processed the funds for the campaign – everyone’s payments cleared but one, which is a darn good percentage.

This morning, I sent out the Backerkit surveys. Each of you should have received an email as follows:

“Thank you for supporting the Lost Hall of Tyr Kickstarter!

The primary goal of the survey is to collect shipping and email information so that we can get you your physical and digital rewards. There are also a few “marketing and interest” related questions that I would love to get feedback on so that I can better tailor products to suit, and improve Gaming Ballistic’s customer experience as the company grows.

Thanks for your pledge, and for your time!”

I actually wound up dispensing with the marketing survey part, because you were forced to answer the questions, and I wanted minimum fuss.

In any case, you’ll be asked if you want your physical copies, if any, signed. You’ll go to a page that has pre-added your rewards, and you’ll either show a shipping fee, or possibly a credit if you pledged more than your reward.

You can add stuff if you like, and allocate your money or even buy more if you decide (for example) that you want several physical copies or that you want one or more of the custom characters. In that case you’ll be asked to pay the balance.

The Backerkit phase will run until November 24th. Then it’ll close down and that’s it.

Pre-orders are also open! This means that folks can order Lost Hall, and just for simplicity, they can do so at the Kickstarter discount. Retail price of the PDF will be $10; Print will be $20, and the bundle of both will be $25 . . . so if you have friends that want in, send them to the Pre-Orders Page!

Progress Update

So . . . I don’t want to jinx things. But Todd and I expect to finish the final PDF within a couple of days. That means in all probability, the PDF will be ready to distribute the day the Backerkit phase closes.

So digital distribution of Dungeon Grappling (if you ordered it) and Lost Hall (why you’re here) will occur on Nov 25 or so.

However! That won’t be the final file. I’ll be ordering proofs for print copies, and you guys will have a week or two to read the digital file, ask questions, and point out errors. If you find any, we’ll note them in a spreadsheet that I’ll maintain on my blog, Gaming Ballistic.

Once that’s done and I like the print file look, I will incorporate any clarifications or fixes that don’t break the layout that the backers notice, submit and order final files, and order print copies. Then I’ll order International copies from DriveThru, and take delivery at my home of the US orders, pack ’em up, and ship ’em out.

So . . . things are looking good in terms of schedule.

Schedule

This is just a reminder of some administrative dates and estimates for the Lost Hall campaign.

The Kickstarter funds usually take “about two weeks” to settle, which means some time between today and something like Monday or Tuesday (Nov 13-14), everyone’s cards or other payment options will be charged.

As soon as that happens, I will make the Backerkit process live. A link will go out and your balance from your pledge will transfer over. Your reward amount is usually automatically added, and you might have a balance if you upped your pledge for add-ons.

Regardless of that balance, you will then pick the add-ons you want, and the shipping charges for your reward level will also be added. That final total will be charged at the end of the Backerkit portion – which is also where I’ll get the address information and a few other things.

The Backerkit portion will go until November 24.

Once that closes, I will start the process of assembling “lists” or “segments” for digital and physical distribution. If you bought a PDF copy of Dungeon Grappling, you’ll get that immediately.

Lost Hall Final Layout and Proofing

I’m pleased to say all the final art assets are in my hands, and Todd showed me a preliminary final layout yesterday. We’re not done by any stretch, but things are strong.

The way I did Dungeon Grappling, and the way I’ll do this campaign, is that when we have a final PDF, we’ll distribute it to backers, and then order proof copies of the product from the two printers we’ll be using. Getting proofs (physical ones) can take several weeks.

During that period, I’d ask for your feedback. It’ll be entered into a spreadsheet like this one, and I will discuss with Todd which if any changes can be accommodated. The only ones that can go in at that point are things that don’t break the layout. Reasonable requests will be accommodated, but at that point we’re mostly checking clarity, typography, and grammar.

Add-On Highlights

I’m pleased to report that Bogie Maps (Dan Roy) has completed all the maps for the add-on map pack. Some samples below:

 

 

There are three more as well, and you’ll be able to see them when the Backerkit goes live.

The other two add-ons are a excellent collection of OSR zines by my friend Tim Shorts, and of course Dungeon Grappling, which is available in both PDF and Print+PDF.

We’re coming down to the end, and things are going very well at this point. I’m much farther along than even for the Dungeon Grappling project, and that one delivered substantially ahead of schedule.

So: GURPSDay!

Welcome to the second year of GURPSDay, and here’s the pull for this week.

We’re currently drawing content from 91 blogs. As always, new blogs are listed first. Only 9 more to go until we’re pulling from 100! But we’ll need your help. And if you just started a GURPS blog – and I know that some of you have – email me and get on the list!

How? Two action items: post more, recruit more. It’s really that simple. More posters is more posts, and more interest in GURPS.

Below you can find the blog activity for the last week. There’s a whole lotta awesome GURPS going on. Read all the posts.

Not every blog posts about GURPS every week, but some are ridiculously prolific! The list is randomized, so different bloggers will be highlighted at the top of the post each week.

As always, if you’re interested in having your blog consolidated here, navigate over to The Instructions Page and drop me a line. Take special note of the RSS Settings Fix if you’re on WordPress.
Continue reading “GURPSDay Summary Nov 3 – Nov 9, 2017”

What Happened Before

The team had just rifled through an occult shop, put the very angry ghost owner to rest, and “requisitioned” a bunch of blood for an unauthorized project. The group had chased after the source of blood that was being fed to vampires. The mission was to put the blood equivalent of a dye pack in the vamp food, so that we can use it to trace and then destroy the vampire threat. The occult shop visit was to get a better version of the tracking spell. The game ended before the ritual was completed.

One important note: the ritual to restore Myriam to life took a high toll on the team. In game-mechanical terms, each took a several-hundred-point haircut in the overall ability level. The core of each character is the same, but restoring life to the dead and leading such a strong spirit as Myriam back to the world of the living forced the team to pay a mental, spiritual, and physical price for her return. No one is the same as they were.

Dramatis Personae

Kamali Blackshear (18): Kamali is a young man in his late teens. He is healthy and is of mixed ethnicity of Caucasian South African and native South African. He is a determined youth who believes in a justice of his own, likening himself to the knight of the round table whom he has read deeply into. Just as they stood against the darkness of their age so too does Kamali seek to do the same. For his sister, for his friends, and for the world.

Tag: “A knight without a sword carrying a faith nobody believes.”

Lorenzo DeModouco (18): A man with movie star looks and a voice that belongs on the radio. Slowly coming to grips with the fact that he isn’t exactly human, but a “Lupus Dei” – “Wolf of God” – otherwise known as a Benandanti. He’s still cheery and always trying to make others happy, but has become a shrewd student of human behavior, which he uses for the benefit of the rest of his team. Lorenzo’s recently joined the Boston Fire Department as a volunteer as a means to get access to places he normally shouldn’t be able to go as well as medical gear and information that might not be available to the public. He’s become a master of spear fighting and like the rest of his brothers is a highly capable combatant.

Tagline: “You can take me to the gates of Hell, but I won’t back down and I won’t be turned around.”

Amos M. Humiston (20): The Linguist and Librarian. He is the brains to the rest of the group’s brawn; but by the same token, he’s slow and cautious compared to the other Orphans, preferring not to charge forwards until he has the answers that he’s looking for. Those same answers that he more than happily provides the rest of the group when they turns to him about the more esoteric aspects that they’re working with and against. Recently Amos has nearly completed his double Masters in Library & Information Science Archives and History and has also managed to get a rather special job lined up. He has also learned from others that he hold the potential to be a Sorceror which if unlocked would be able to enhance his already considerable talent with ritualistic magic.

Tag: “True alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.”

Gabriel MacAlister (18) – Built like the natural athlete he is, he is tall, strong, and solidly good-looking, but deeply scarred from much combat. He’s missing his lower leg, which he lost fighting zombies. It is capped by a carbon fiber prosthetic that doesn’t seem to interfere much with his activities. A quiet and hard-working man, always ready to lend a hand with any work, which he will do without complaint or obligating the other person to respond. He is an expert martial arts teacher, and has been following in the footsteps of a carpenter for some time now. Emphatically not a pushover or weak personality, but also not one to purposefully show off. Has been in many horrible places and seen many horrible things; he’s a bit of a compulsive planner as a result, as well as always feeling that most folks don’t really know how lucky they are. He was cursed to carry a magical sword for a while, and gave into its Wrath before it was parted from him magically. He’s since given it up, in exchange for unknown burdens.

Tag: “To serve others is the highest calling; to protect the meek the noblest endeavor, and our works are judged by the effort that went into them”

Make it a Blood Light

The team, having retrieved the proper references, was digging into the spell to turn the blood into a tracking spell. The team returned to the firehouse to investigate the grimoire in peace. The spell is complex with many parts. We figure using the spell there are 300-1,000 vampires that might be reached by the spell. A roll against Path of the Undead at -16 is called for. Rituals usually go for “the nearest target,” but this is a Mass Seek spell. It’s way more complicated, and the blood we’ve “spiked” as a tracer makes it possible at all.

There are many physical components to the spell, and many of the team are still injured from the last session. We do have about 20 vampire teeth on Kamali’s necklace, which helps. We’re going to have to burn some serious fatigue/HP – we elect Fatigue, and toss in a lot. We need to make an Occult! roll to tap into another source of power, but the donations and skills push the net roll up to Path+3, so we kick butt. He makes the roll by 2, and the spell goes off as intended, we think. Even so, that just means the targets have to only beat their own resistance by 2 . . . so Kamali spends his Drama Card to boost the roll – it’s a great card, so we wind up with a margin of 8, which is much more difficult.

We’re pretty much wiped after that.

We send Lorenzo back with the blood to mix it in with the general supply. We check on Desiree (upstairs) and Carl senior (unconscious). We then chill out for a bit, and take stock of things we need to check out.

  • We have pixies looking for rumors and vampires
  • Running down any missing persons reports
  • Gabe goes on patrol to ensure that the team stayed safe during recovery
  • Heading to Elysium to check for rumors
  • Talk to Elias Muldoon – the criminal that told us
  • A creepy guy in the park (Vitala) whom we can ask three questions, no more, no less, and mysterious stuff if we dork it up
  • It’s only been three days since things blew up and Myriam got killed and all sort of bad. It’s basically 6pm on Day 3.

At this point I had to take a conference call from thailand; I missed a bit.

The group decided to go visit Edgar Creel, the homeless guy we spoke with a while ago that Amos thought might have been a vampire. Well, he’s wandering around in the daylight, so either he’s Blade or probably not a vamp. They also went through Desiree’s purse for a banking slip to see if the Conclave did banking at the same places that got hit. We were looking to do some forensic accounting to try and figure out which accounts got hit, and why. So follow the blood and bodies, and follow the loot and robbery victims, and that gives Gabe an idea.

Something blew up – that means explosives and that means someone bought or made them. We also have pieces of the truck, which will have residue on them.

Amos goes into high gear, and tries to get the information on what was used: det-cord, nitroglycerin, and gasoline. We deduce they made the explosive (nitroglycerin can be homemade) at the garage we went to visit. So we have another thing to track – the physical components of the attack. Det-cord has to be bought. Guns (used to attack us) are not exactly plentiful in Boston.

The map of trucks Amos can put together was 10 sites, 11 for Myriam. The remaining 8 violent sites were violent attacks, contract killings, and other violent nastiness. We wonder if there are trucks waiting to explode somewhere. We also find out that one of the contract killings was accomplished by Norse trolls – with swords. Another was killed by a kelpie; very dangerous this close to the harbor.

The kelpie vicitim was Janos Valentine, a prominent alchemist in the city. The troll victim (trolls, really, 3-5 against one guy) was Jesse Cusumano, a retired hunter. The alchemist liked to sell potions to the rich; he was very rich himself. Ooo – life extension and stuff. We need his client list.

The remaining six locations for the trucks were the bank robberies, the Conclave, and the conclave’s military police force, the Custos.

We also remind ourselves that with all of this coordination, across so many fronts, that there’s not nearly enough evidence. Gabe speculates that someone has set up just enough supernatural activity to cause the mist to react, which provides a level of obfuscation that would be extremely difficult to achieve through mundane coordination, but happens in a “self-organized” way when the strings are plucked in the right way. Some creatures can do this deliberately.

Babel stones can confuse communication, magical or otherwise. They act as active jammers; they can be detected. They theoretically could be used in a ritual that would only interfere with certain types of communications. That requires them to be on a ley line; Amos has a map of such from C-Team. Amos determines that there must be one location in a certain place. It’s rumored to be very haunted.

Take the Fight to the Enemy

We decide that we have an opportunity to get inside Team Bad’s OODA loop if we can put a magical wiretap on this stuff. The opportunity to get proactive is too tempting to pass up. We drive for an hour, and then have to hike . . . oh, crap. Merlin/Kamali takes 6 points of damage to his foot from a natural 18 Hiking roll crit fail. He turns his ankle when he falls into a cellar, buried in the rubble of Dogtown.

So we biff our chance to be proactive because of a bad die roll. Sigh. Frustrating.

Lorenzo does first aid; he’s not able to put pressure on the bone at all.

Gabe kneels down; he prays devoutly for some time. With a rustle of wings and the flap of a trench-coat, Gabe’s hands glow brightly, and the injury is completely healed. Completely. Kamali lurches around, and finds a piece of the cellar he’s in, and he just knows that there’s a panel in the wall, and a secret one. The door doesn’t open, the stone opens like in some Harry Potter-esque tesselation stuff, and there’s a stairway down. The flashlight immediately burns out when we turn it on the stairs.

Shield and sword at the ready, Gabe leads the way. We go down, and sense that we’ve gone down at least seven fights of stairs – nearly impossible. And there’s a dim glow down there. We keep on. As we get to the bottom, the cross Gabe wears around his neck bursts into brilliant light. He offers his thanks, both silently and audibly.

We arrive at a large door, 5-6 feet across, with hinges on both sides but no handle. There’s light coming under the door. We knock three times. Then after a pause, there are three hugely loud knocks, and the door swings inward from the left. We see a hallway with odd grey cobblestones. The hallway is 20-30 feet long. Gabe moves quickly down the hallway, and starts to go left; Amos actually sees symbols all over the wall, but no one else does. They’re in Enochian and other languages. Amos reads them . . . he can’t not. Blood comes out of his nose and eyes as he reads the Latin and other symbols. Gabe invokes Protection from Evil; nothing happens. We try and move him; he’s frozen in place. Kamali uses his Ten-Hut! skill and crits, trying to boost his will, and the next Will roll at +2 and he snaps out of it.

He says something, and we’re all blown backwards by a supernatural shock wave.

Amos just encountered, and learned, a logos. A word of power. (Power Word: Stun? Nah.) It’s burned into his soul, now.

Kamali wonders what this place looks like on the Astral plane . . . and as soon as he thinks of it, the door slams shut. We’re fairly sure we’re Inbetween. We’ve managed to stumble into the Labyrinth. The conclave’s prison and testing ground. The center of this prison is where they put their worst criminals. The conclave also uses it to test their would-be sorcerers. We’ve stumbled into their testing grounds.

So, the left-handed hallway just opens up into this area with grass, trees, and a lake. We try right. It opens up into a field with trees and a lake, the exact mirror of the other one. Alder, ash, birch, and a smooth-leaved elm. All the trees we’re seeing look like Briton. Kamali feels like we want to go right . . . so we go right. We smell apples. We also see something man-sized moving under the water, leisurely. A crown of blonde hair, and a woman walking, dressed in white. Her dress seems completely dry.

I think she’s the Lady of the Lake. THE lady, as in Excalibur. We’ll see.

Kamali greets her. She smiles. She’s still walking – on top of the water – towards us. Gabe kneels politely. The rest back away.

She picks up a leaf, the same one that was on the door, and hands it to Kamali. “I’m glad you chose me and not my sister.”

“Well, I had a feeling this was the good way. Where are we?”

“You’re in the heart of the labyrinth. Not the center, the heart.”

“How do we get out?”

A door appears.

“I feel like there’s something that we’re here to do. Is something going on here.”

She’s very concerned. The folks that help her maintain the labyrinth have been out of communication. They locked on to Kamali’s light.

We quickly explain why we’re here. She gives Amos a ring; it’s a ring of Dispel. It will break any enchantment. Gabe mutters about his sword. She notes it’s tightly bound to me, and also that I could give it to her. There were nine swords that were made. Three to Titania, three to Maeve, and three to the High King. I have one of Maeve’s. She could take it, but she’d have to give me something back to balance.

I’m tempted. 

The original Merlin bound them here – she’s Vivian, her (nastier) sister is Nimue.

The Ladies of the Lake. Hrm. They’re fairly well qualified to handle swords of all types, it would seem.

Gabe decides to pray. He remembers something from TS Elliot. The mythical excalibur had two phrases on it: One was “Take me up.” The other was “Throw me away.”

“I have taken up the sword of wrath, and used it well and poorly. It is time to return wrath, and return to diligence and devotion. I will accept any burden you choose to place upon me in exchange.”

“So be it.”

Kamali offers up his own sword; Lorenzo offers up his guitar.

Vivian looks at Amos, and gives his slingshot the side-eye. Gabe reminds Amos that there is a time to leave behind childish things.

He hands over the slingshot. She turns and walks back into the lake.

****************

We end there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dramatis Personae

Kamali Blackshear (18): Kamali is a young boy in his early teens. He is healthy and is of mixed ethnicity of Caucasian South African and native South African. He is a determined youth who believes in a justice of his own, likening himself to the knight of the round whom he has read deeply into. Just as they stood against the darkness of their age so too does Kamali seek to do the same. For his sister, for his friends, and for the world.

Tag: “A knight without a sword carrying a faith nobody believes.”

Lorenzo DeModouco (18): A handsome and charismatic musician. The loss of his parents didn’t dampen his spirits and he soldiered on after their death. He’s the cheery one always trying to make others happy and sometimes spontaneously breaks into song. Perceptive of others and their feelings, Lorenzo is the one who knows what people are thinking by the looks on their face. He’s also a boy scout and is quite comfortable in the wild.

TAG: “He’s a Jukebox Hero. He’s got stars in his eyes. A Jukebox Hero – he’ll make sure you survive.”

Amos M. Humiston (19) – This boy is far from where he started out at the orphanage. His comfortable existence already gone and instead has gotten used to his new life. Not like his brothers, his talents lay more in mental pursuits and has already started towards getting a double Masters degree at a local college aiming for his goal of becoming a research librarian. Following in his family’s footsteps almost unknowingly, he exhibits certain talents towards more occult pursuits such as druidism and alchemy, mixing up herbal supplements and elixers for the team. And while he’s still somewhat still slipping along behind the group, he has become a lot more outgoing with the rest of the Orphans and have started making friends with folks outside his adopted brothers. Always showing concern for them and trying to make sure they know everything that they need to when it comes to the dangers they face.

Tag: “True alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.”

Gabriel MacAlister (18) – Built like the natural athlete he is, he has grown taller, stronger, and more solidly good-looking. A quiet and hard-working lad, always ready to lend a hand with any work, which he will do without complaint or obligating the other person to respond. He is an expert martial arts teacher, and has been following in the footsteps of a carpenter for some time now. Emphatically not a pushover or weak personality, but also not one to purposefully show off. Has been in many horrible places and seen many horrible things; he’s a bit of a compulsive planner as a result, as well as always feeling that most folks don’t really know how lucky they are. He lost a leg fighting zombies; he got an artificial replacement and kept on fighting the good fight.

Tag: “To serve others is the highest calling; to protect the meek the noblest endeavor, and our works are judged by the effort that went into them”

Timothy I Mitchell (19): Timothy possess an honest if forgettable face. He tends towards comfortable, though inexpensive clothing and durable running shoes, rounding off his typical attire is a deep pocketed jacket and a backpack slung over one shoulder. Timothy appears to be a poster-boy for bad kids, often finding himself in trouble with any and all forms of authority. A victim of neglect, driven to never become a victim again he often acts seemingly on impulse, taking any dare or challenge in his stride. Timothy doesn’t have friends, not in any real sense. Too few of the people who enter his orbit can deal with him in anything more than bite sized pieces, a fact which only further frustrates the young teenager.

Tag: “Darkness is within all of us, it’s how you use that darkness that matters”

Murphy’s Laws and Complications

When we last left off, we got a lot of information from the vampire that was interrogated. Myriam is unconscious but alive and set up with a drip. In the meantime, the boys went out hunting, the first safehouse was taken down flawlessly, but the second one had a lot of trouble and somehow everyone knew that they were coming, either that or they had gotten lucky. But the sheer amount of vampires overwhelmed the group, Timothy had held them off the best that he could taking down the entire warehouse with him in a fiery inferno. When they come back to check, there are just too many bodies to even try to identify his remains.

Slightly defeated, the boys return back to the firehouse.

Looking for direction, Kamali turns to Aldrick to question him.  Asking him for what is going on with the city, learning that someone had just disabled the largest werewolf pack in the city. It seems like there’s something out there pulling strings, taking down chess pieces from the board. Asking them if they know what a Vetala is. A spirit that jumps from corpse to corpse from outside of the dharmic cycle from Indian myths, though he tends to be a real ass, and this one in particular seems to really enjoy high class drinks and while they normally hang around graveyards, this guy seems to prefer hanging out at a skate park that Kamali seems to know about.

Aldrick hands the boys some asafetida, a powder that is meant to protect from spirits, and warns them not to ask any questions within range of the Vetala and to keep themselves straightforwards. Not willing to actually work with a spirit medium, Amos goes back to working on his murder boards on how to work with things. He confirms Kamali’s theory that there’s someone pulling the strings, but there’s also a hole in that there’s been a large amount of lower class disappearing and that there’s some links that bring them back to the unseelie fae.

Looking also for places that vampires may have breaking into clinics and ordering blood from butchers. After ruling out the restaurants that serve blood sausages, the boys also think about getting some food and maybe checking out a bar for information. At about halfway into the afternoon, the boys decide to actually head over there.

The place is packed with several various supernatural folks and it’s hard to get a table. There’s even a few sorcerors in full war gear and a man in a mullet staring at a thick red liquid in a glass with a stalk of celery. Gabe storms up and starts harassing the man asking if he’d like a steak causing a confrontation while the other boys throw out a couple orders for the local special of Death Wings before sitting down at the man’s table.

Ordering the man another Bloody Mary and got the death wings. Amos chomps down on the wings while the others choke on the wings and are in rather a large amount of pain while Gabe stands menacingly behind him with a glass of water. The man spills out the name Annie, one of the Murphys as the vampires start stuttering and trying to convince Kamali that there’s numerous things that don’t connect him to the island going poof. Kamali demands his wallet and takes the man’s cash and sneaking a glance at his driver’s license and seeing the name William Boone.

Instead Kamali starts demanding information and that the man volunteers at certain shelters and then Kamali instead started to push and verbally attack William under the pretense of doing the right thing. Cowed by Kamali and driven into a corner by Gabriel, William writes down an amount of addresses to crosscheck later and then lets on that a meeting will be happening later that night at Elysium before slinking out.

Afterwards, the Table Pixies come out and Amos is more than happy to order them a large meal causing an ear piercing whistle that gathers more when Kamali pulls out a large bag of skittles. A single table pixie sits down and ask what the group wants and Kamali asks for them to keep an ear out for vampires and their plans. Agreeing to it, the pixies exchange numbers with Kamali and things spread out while Gabriel heads back to the firehouse to check on Myriam.

The group plans out what they can do, possibly by tracking down the blood itself by using a tracking spell for things. Pulling out blood, tainting it, and putting it back for the vampires to tag all of them.  Acting on that, they head to the Conclave safehouse for a basic ritual and ingredients and then stops by The Sleeping Dormouse to try to find a better grimoire on the shelves, slipping in through the back door where there’s no police tape.

Kamali detects the spirit of the slain owner and starts trying to help the spirit go to the other side as it grows mad and starts becoming a poltergeist. The others try to talk it down, eventually snapping out of it once Amos takes a chair to the abdomen. Telling them that they need to find something within the room and make sure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, forbidden to speak more about it due to an oath and to find his heir, his daughter Luana Conatser before begging to be exorcised.  Kamali and Amos help each other to help Rhys’s spirit over.

Once gone, they search for the objects revealing a single lockbox with an empty foam core about the size of a missing book and another lockbox, thousands of years old and full of shattered remains. A quick look through says that it’s the shattered remains of a philosopher stone, useful for making a new one. Worth millions of dollars to the right buyer and even more to an alchemist. Quickly shutting the lid on that, Amos turns his search for a useful grimoire for the tagging spell, finding a really useful one within the shelves and deciding against leaving an IOU for it. The session ends with a cooler full of blood packs and a grimoire full of power.