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”

Curses and Their Removal

The group had planned to investigate the twelve engines that had been sent to some nefarious character, but as they’re deploying, the get a call from Carl. Gabe has come into the safe house, and blood from Gabe is flowing off of him into the sword he’s clutching in his hands, hugging it to him like a very violent steel teddy bear. He’s barely conscious, and operating on a near-feral level. Wounds and not-wound injuries are both draining into the very thirsty sword.

There are black veins coming from his hand. When Kamali tries to shake Gabe awake, there’s a response as if he’d love to bisect Kamali in half . . . but the sword is just too thirsty to let the blade move from the blood. The motion is suppressed – not by Gabe’s choice.

The team looks to cast the separation ritual to separate him from his sword. But . . . that’s going to take too long, they decide. Timothy of the fast knives just goes to lop off Gabe’s hand. The swords blurs in automatic response, and cuts one of Timothy’s favorite knives in half. Timothy blames Gabe for this. “Oh, Gabe is going to pay for that knife.”

Well, they decide, let’s to the curse removal ritual. They do the spell, and separate him from the sword, wrapping the blade in white silk. They think about brought about the sword’s transformation, and come up with it seemed to transform in the cave when Gabe rescued Dierdre.

Gabe comes around slowly. The first thing he hears is “You f**king owe me, brother” as he kicks the pieces of his bisected knife towards Gabe. Gabe, confused, pulls out his wallet, which Timothy relieve him of quickly. This somehow seems oddly correct to Gabe at the moment. He’s feeling hungry. And poor.

Timothy pointedly reminds me that I killed his good knife. And that no, he’s not going to loan me money for a Chicken Burrito. Anyway, the team is uncertain whether Gabe is at 100% and more of a liability than is worth taking to go after the engines. Kamali goes for some mental mojo – reading aura, holding hands . . . it’s a very tender moment.

Kamali sees Gabe slaughtering pale folks. He’s pretty sure they’re vampires. The way the sword gets you is by helping you go after things you hate; once the hooks are in, you start hating everything.

Kamali goes full psychobabble on Gabe. There’s an analogy to the Emperor and Luke and Darth Vader somewhere in there. We decide there might be a story in that, but why ruin a perfectly good villain by dwelling excessively on a backstory?

In any case, Kamali has SeekerSense, and he can use the blood to track; the blood and the engines are kind of the same directions.

The Firehouse Ghost (and they were monster hunters) says “you’re going to fight vampires with THAT?” looking at Kamali’s assault rifle and machete. He sighs, walks over to a wall, and pushes a panel. The wall opens. We see a fresco of the order of St Eustace. Hunters. Trappers. Firefighters. One of the few soldier-saints.

The door opens into another room which looks a lot like Myriam’s mysterious disappearing room from whence the sword came. Gabe gets a quick download on Myriam’s confusing and secret history. Another wizard with a secret history and questionable past filled with pursuits of power. Hmm.

Timothy suggests we talk to the “f**king ghost” about the best way to hunt vampires. The ghost takes a quick inventory of our current weaponry. He suggests shotguns if we can get them, high-caliber weaponry if we can’t. And spears. They would keep the vamp away with a spear. Then blast off important bits.

We get a quick download on vampires and their weaknesses

  • Hawthorne, greenheart wood, and silver stops them from regenerating
  • Holy attacks and fire will hurt them, as will sunlight
  • Immersion in natural water or sunlight is extremely dangerous to them
  • They will be uncomfortable around natural running water

Gabe stumbles across a whole drawer of ammunition that looks like silver and wood and garlic slugs for shotguns. We also are well supplied with silver knives.

A few things strike was weird: hard-cased shotguns shells with glyphs on them. Also some liquid-suspension rounds with garlic, water, wood chips, sliver. . . called “The Works.”

We spend a LONG time kitting up. Timothy is honking the horn with a “get this the f**k on with it” thing. Naturally, the spectral dog jumps into the car. Through the door. 

We head to the location. We decide “bring one alive; the rest? Toast.”

Lorenzo and Gabe are on point. Amos is taking care of the trees. “He don’t have no weapons, just a slingshot!”

We head over to the site. Windows blacked out. We enter through a garage door, and there’s a one-armed vampire sleeping on the bar. Lorenzo runs up and stabs him with a spear for 9 impaling. Others, including Gabe, follow up with various nasty attacks to vital bits. Still – unliving, so not much additional damage. We pin him in place, but then the garage door starts to slam down, catchign Amos’ hand underneath. His hand is trapped under the garage door.

Timothy: “Amos. Stop f**king around. Lift the door.”

The spectral dog tries to run through the door . . . and bursts into blue flame, running away, yipping. Timothy makes a mental note to steal a piece of the door for later anti-dog operations.

Lorenzo passes, but Kamali decides to place the barrel of his shotgun against the guy’s head, and pull the trigger. The vampire has expired. It is now dead.

And then vampires drop or rise from freaking everywhere. Gabe gets hit on his left hand for 5 HP of injury; not crippled. Kamali gets his leg crippled.

Gabe invokes Smite. 2d6 burning damage to everyone within . . . hrm. Usually Range 4, but for some reason, Range 2; he steps into close combat and delivers 10 points of holy fire to three targets. They are not amused. They’re not dead or incapacitated, but they’re not amused.

We continue to fight; Timothy is struggling with the doors. Gabe gets grappled from behind. Kamali spends fatigue and other things to avoid being grappled. Gabe invokes Smite again, and my assailant bursts into flame. But hangs on, making my back really hot. Apparently it’s time to stop, drop, and roll.

We continue to fight. A vampire is attacked, dodges and drops, fast-draws a shotgun from under the counter, and acrobatically kips up. He tries to shoot Gabe, who goes full Neo and dodges. He sheds the grapple of the burning vampire limbs, and tries to stab the vampire 2 yards away. He crit fails and falls down. Oops.

Timothy goes through a window, and hurls a stake at the vampire’s face; the vamp grabs it out of the air. Seizing what is hopefully a moment of distraction, Kamali takes aim for the face of Vampy McGrabbypants.

We smell rotting flesh coming from map-south.

The vampire that caught the stake tries to pin Lorenzo to the floor with the wooden stake. An acrobatic dodge later, Lorenzo jumps down and dodges.

Kamali finally gets a chance to shoot a vamp in the face and hits.

Oh, and big nasty thing. Stitched from multple corpses. Amalgam of many parts. 9-10′ tall, putrid, SM +1. And fast. It comes running at Gabe. It slashes him for 12 damage, 10 absorbed by armor, and 3 injury get through. A toxic attack is shrugged off with enough margin that I might well be immune. Gabe strikes back: a hit for 9 cut and 1d flaming damage, which comes up a 1. This is an abbatoir demon; a body is built for it which the demon occupies. It’s weak to holy water.

Timothy moves around to the back of the thing; he makes a deal with the unholy knife to take the soul of the demon. The knife says “The pact . . . is sealed!” Kamali and Gabe can both hear this, somehow. He stabs it right in the chest, and it folds around the knife, dying.

So, net/net: dead demon. Several deep sleeping vamps. One captured vamp. We do a purification on the giant pentagram/summoning circle. There were wards set up against us. But we managed to clear the hall.

***

We end there. We head back to the firehouse. We meet Desire, who looks like she’s ready to collapse. Check that: she actually collapses. Oh, this is going to be one of those conversations later.

 

 

 

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”

Conflict at the Conclave

Last we left off, we are at the conclave headquarters as Gabriel has just stormed off, disgusted at not being able to see his long-term girlfriend.

Lorenzo helps treat people in the lobby of the Conclave while Timothy helps out by using his knife skills with surgical precision.

After aiding the folks in the conclave lobby, Timothy turns to diplomacy and speaks to the man that seems to be in charge of the whole operation, laying out what has occurred in the past couple hours, trying to distract the man from what has been happening the past couple hours.

Once the boys disarm themselves and Lorenzo helps the patients, the old man leads us to a conference room. The old man shows a quartz that glows and then shows a bird’s eye view of the city of Boston. Sickened by the view, Timothy asks for some water. The map starts glowing a bit as numerous red dots have started showing up.

Red dots match up with the bank robberies from yesterday, along with multiple others and several residences but Myriam’s house hasn’t shown up until Timothy gives the old man the news. The news isn’t quite new to the old man as he mentions that there have been multiple other car bombs have been going off all over the city.

Kamali lays down the situation with the homeless group and the abandoned house that had been infested with vampires. The old man agrees that it lines up with everything else that has been going on before debating how things are going with vampires. The old man insists that the local leadership of the vampire clans insists that they haven’t been moving at all. In fact the vampires that attacked us are revealed to have had their abilities long enough to be comfortable in their undeath, mature vampires and definitely not recently turned.

William Sims, the old man, tells that everything that occurred seemed to happen all at once and explains that the psionic blast from last night was the explosion from Murphy Island, the oldest family of Boston and have the resulting Custos powers within the city and within 100 miles.

William reveals that he isn’t even supposed to be in charge, instead he was just the head gardener and merely obtained the position through everyone else being lost. The main power structure having been at a meeting when the building was attacked and the emergency ritual took place and shifted dimensions, however now they can’t actually find the building. Kamali suggests that there was someone blocking the signal causing William to curse in realization.

The local vampire boss, Landry, has her hand in pretty much every sort of vice out there and has been questioned by the Conclave using a Truthsayer spell to ensure the entirety of her questioning to result in the truth.

The boys discuss the wisdom of going to visit a vampire master.

The conclave are members, not necessarily part of, and once she left after questioning. The group exchange numbers and are given a marble in return. The marble given is the same as those in the bag that Amos bought long ago in the Yukon. It’s requested that the Conclave look them over and it’s revealed that the bag of marbles are actually memory orbs. Amos is given a piece of paper with a ritual and the doorkeeper’s phone number.

Amos pulled out a doodad to pull a piece of the truck from his pocket to aid in a divination spell to try to figure out where the truck that blew up Myriam’s house came from. Amos draws tarot cards to divine where the truck came from, casting a ritual to divine from where the truck came, gaining a flash of insight that it came from a used car lot. Continue reading “Ceteri Campaign – S1E3: Vampire Diary”

Did you Play Lost Hall at the Grappling Smackdown at GenCon?

I know a few folks – maybe one or two – who played what was called then “The Tower of Justice” or “Grappling Smackdown” with me in the IGDN booth at GenCon this year.

Friday and Saturday mornings, 10am start time. Each day was 7-8 people, some who’d signed up, some who didn’t.

As the book that will be now titled Lost Hall of Tyr: Dómstóllinn is closing in on its basic funding goal, I want to give you folks playtest credit. And a free copy.

So: email me! You have my card from the event. You can also hit me at gamingballisticllc@gmail.com, or leave a comment to this post. Let me know which game you attended, what character you played, the name you wish to be credited with, and the most memorable thing that happened to you during the game.

What happened before

Last time, we got ganked at a barbeque. We survived and won, and walked away with a gigantic arsenal. Full-auto converted AR15 rifles, 2kg of heroin, modern body armor. We fled the scene with the evidence, and found that Myriam may have been killed in a simultaneous attack on the house, which is a smouldering wreck when we roll out to a safe house.

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”

Conversations in a Warehouse

We got into the safe house at 9am. We then slept immediately for four hours each; we all have Less Sleep. The action really picks up at 8am the next day (May 2), but we have some things take care of, first.

We try and make sense of what happened. We suspect that the vampires mind controlled the gangbangers, since all of the potentially incriminating evidence in the vans is not typical method of operation for a drive-by shooting. Way too much “riding dirty.” The fact is they hit us in broad twilight, so to speak, and hit the house – as well-warded as it was – at the same time. Potentially taking out a major player in Myriam. We’re skeptical that they actually got her until we see the body; Schrodinger’s Myriam until then.

We begin to suspect that the trouble that Kamali’s sister had gotten into that drew Myriam off her guard was engineered, and set about to gently question her about the situation.

First things first: Carl’s dad. Bit by vamps.

First stage is The Burning. Lethargy, symptoms like hemorrhagic fever. But he’s susceptible, it seems, and fading fast. We can administer the sap or juice of a juniper tree . . . or holy water, garlic, or a few other things. Huh – we can turn the crash kits each which come with saline IVs. So Gabe blesses the saline and Lorenzo or Carl adminster the IV. A good roll for Amos’ esoteric medicine skill means he already has all that stuff on hand. Amos is also pulling out a Bolster Attribute on Carl’s dad, and Gabe can do Lay on Hands a bit, both of which will keep him alive and not succumbing to The Burning.

We need to keep him stable for three days, and something tells us that we don’t have three days to play nursemaid.

Kamali places a few calls; finds out who’s missing both gang members and two kilograms of heroin. Then calls them directly, and lets them know he’s got the drugs. But is wondering why their boys got trigger happy all of a sudden. The boss wants to talk to Kamali.

“Mr . . . Kamali? Would you have happened to find these items in Christian Herter park yesterday?” Well, yes. “Assume you were not the one involved in its initial loss?” No, just dropped in my lap with a significant lead deposit. The Boss would certainly be interested in retrieving his lost item. Bring it. Yourself. To a certain place. Can Kamali bring a friend? Of course. 9am, then.

Timothy is volunteered, and volunteers to case the joint up close. Gabe volunteers to be on overwatch with a rifle. Nah. But the coffee is good, and they have outdoor seating. We decide that Gabe will accompany Kamali, being the obvious (non threat) with the gimpy leg and the cane. Hopefully that’ll be an obvious distraction, with Timothy being the somewhat hidden threat. We are ready and looking for double-crosses as well.

Gabe will bring his body armor (flexible, not the trauma plate), his sword cane, and his concealable pistol. Continue reading “Ceteri Campaign – S1E2: Alarums and Excursions”

This is a bit of a cry for help. I know a few folks – maybe one or two – who played what was called then “The Tower of Justice” or “Grappling Smackdown” with me in the IGDN booth at GenCon this year. Friday and Saturday mornings, 10am start time.

Each day was 7-8 people, some who’d signed up, some who didn’t.

As the book that will be now titled Domstollinn: Lost Hall of Tyr approaches both Kickstarter and finalization, I want to give you folks playtest credit. And a free copy.

So: email me! You have my card from the event. You can also hit me at gamingballisticllc@gmail.com, or leave a comment to this post. Let me know which game you attended, what character you played, the name you wish to be credited with, and the most memorable thing that happened to you during the game.

 

Last night in the Ceteri game, my character had the opportunity to unload an RoF 15 weapon in a narrow cone with something like five or six targets in it. It was a good chance to use the rules for suppression fire, which basically give you a 6+RoF bonus chance to hit there.

We use some generally agreed-upon rules – a combination of “this is the way we think the rules are actually meant to be applied,” common sense, and a slight tweak on the RoF bonus table.

The RoF Tweak

It’s not much. Look up the number of bullets fired on the Size and Speed/Range table, and read out the size modifier. Divide it by two, but round UP. Yes, up. That’s not the usual, but it works. Continue reading “Action Report: Suppression Fire in GURPS”

The New Season Beings

We had another time skip, though this was a brief one: 10 month. Almost a year. Mostly things that changed were personal. We’re “growing up and moving out,” by and large moved out of Myriam’s house, but still spending lots of time there. Gabe has taken up residence in an apartment on top of his martial arts studio. He’s still Average wealth; whatever money comes in goes right out to charity and helping the folks that need help from the supernatural.

Plus gear. And trying like hell to get rid of the white-hilted, blood-drinking sword. Yikes.

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”

Sword Research

 

We’re at a shop on May 1, at about 5am. We’ve all met there because we’re trying to identify what sword it is that I actually have. after some money, research, etc. our contact has come up with something. We meet an antique shop called Things of the Past; even the outer store is antique. In the basement, there’s a “weird stuff” section that sells spellbooks, arcane paraphenelia, and other not-normal things.

Timothy looks about, and sees many obvious cameras and several hidden ones. He keeps his head deep in his hoodie. Amos is sort of in charge here, as the guy with ridiculous skills in this department. “Come in, boys, come in,” says Roger Friendly (yes, really), and we do. We head into the basement, and is all we smell is ridiculously good, rich coffee.

As wee move through the basement, we see photos of Gabe’s sword and post-it notes. Kamali sees some rare occult books, and is directed to the restricted section: “Don’t go in there alone. I wouldn’t.” And that’s from the proprietor. There are symbols on the floor and ceiling: probably wards.

Kamali, Timothy, and Lorenzo heave open the bar to the door, and are immediately greeted by the slowly turning head of . . . naturally a cursed doll. They engage it in conversation, and Mr Friendly says “please do not disturb the cursed objects. Please don’t go in there. Someone’s going to get possessed and I don’t have a shop-vac filter big enough for all that pea soup.”

“Have you tried sawdust instead?”

“Not helping.”

The ancient doll keeps its eyes on Kamali. We decide that the doll is racist, and move on.

Back to the table; there’s a perfect illustration of the red hilted sword. The language is Scots Gaelic; it’s more or less gibberish to me because it’s not been translated properly. It may even be middle english. He slide it over to Amos; he decides it’s old Irish, and he recognizes it because it’s in the exact same language that the old book that we picked up from the biker gang is written in.

There’s a verse, it’s not exactly rhyming, but not exactly not, either.

Three for the Kings and Queens of Summer,
Three for the Kings and Queens of Winter,
And three for the High King’s life to preserve,
The first with a blade of black and a hilt of snowy-white,
Only for a worthy man will it burn bright,
{The next two couplets are unreadable]
The fourth with a blade of starry night and a hilt of black,
Only by the clever will it protect from any attack,
The fifth with a blade of iron and a hilt of red,
Only by the loveless will the thirsty blade leave blood unshed,
[There are four more lines, but they’re smudged]
[the sixth line contains the phrase “blade of glass”
[“once dead” on the seventh line]

We’re not sure which of the swords mine is in terms of summer, winter, or high king . . . but he says that the legend is that Weyland the smith was ordered to create nine blades to help protect their own. They were some of his finest works, but something happened. Not all of the blades were true in spirit, even if they were magnificent in nature. There is a curse: whomever claims the blade is sealed to it until death. Continue reading “Ceteri Campaign – S1E1: Vampires and Vengeance”

So, GenCon has come and gone, and I got a lot of business done while I was there. Some of this will be reflected in what projects GB is working on.

The Tower of Justice – Adventure Scenario

The brief scenario that I over-prepared for (two hour session, but I wanted to ensure we didn’t run out of fun) went over very, very well. I can confirm that 15 folks, from newbies to grognards, went through it, and despite grappling appearing constantly, everyone was engaged and had fun. The give and take of control damage was as compelling to them as it was to me.

The scenario is built around the Dragon Heresy world, and the strong undercurrent of Norse-ish mythology that flows through it was well received.

The “do we or don’t we go this way” puzzle that was supposed to be one of the scenario forks (which one needs for a con game, though much less so for a campaign) was so compelling (and frankly, not hard enough) that both parties just got it. I came up with a good re-arrangement of things that will resonate better with sandbox play, as well as providing larger exposure to more potential resolution pathways.

So . . . I’ll be publishing this, for real. The GenCon folks that were at my table will get free copies and playtest credit, if they email me. Otherwise, I will work it up for 5e and Swords and Wizardry, at least, plus of course Dragon Heresy.

There’s a ton of work done already, and turning it into a short adventure supplement should be fairly quick. I suspect that I can re-use a lot of art I’ve purchased for Dungeon Grappling. I may even re-use the Dungeon Grappling layout template, which will push my InDesign skills to grow and improve.

In short, I don’t think I’ll need to crowdfund this one. We’ll see. I could also Kickstart it when it’s basically ready and see if folks have enough interest to help me fund custom art. That way, I’d be able to work with some old and some new artists – many of whom I met at GenCon – on a very short project with little risk. Test out working relationships and whatnot, and keep in practice for crowdfunding. Besides . . . I love generating new art (well, paying others to do so).

What about Pathfinder? I will need to consult my oracles; I’m not as good with this ruleset than others.

The adventure itself stands at 11,500 words – roughly 23 pages as-is, which would grow a bit with maps and fleshing out all parts of something designed for “until it’s done” rather than “cram into two hours.”

Dragon Heresy: Starter Set?

I watched “Ashcan” versions of various games in development fly off the shelves in the Indie Game Designer’s Network booth for four days. The 5e Basic Rules were pretty popular.

So, I’ve got a project that will be in editing for a while, but is fully playable. The system plays well and has some neat tweaks to it. The setting is compelling enough, and has loads of room to support adventures.

So I’m pondering and chopping a very, very limited version of the game that only covers Level 1-4, ditches all optional rules, and is otherwise a nice intro. I’m shooting for something like 60,000 words, which is about 15% of the total three-volume set.

I’ll see how far I can distill it. There are advantages to doing this that solve some issues I had with my Kickstarter planning, too.

The full game is still progressing! And again, with the artists I chatted with, I’m very hopeful I could go from “funded” to “done” in a reasonable time period through the glory of parallel processing. But . . . I think I can get something fun out there that’s playable, and will only improve with time as Ken does his magic on my writing.

Venture Beyond

Just for completeness’ sake, David and I are closing in on a first-complete-manuscript. We’ve nailed down a lot better where we’ll be conventional in business development process, and where we’ll take risks for the sake of time to market.

I’m feeling good about where we are, at least for now. Not much of an update, but as with a lot of “below the waterline” stuff, there’s a lot to unpack in the words “making progress.”

I was at GenCon’s 50th Anniversary this past week, and I had the honor of observing the first of Gaming Ballistic’s Dungeon Grappling demo games, and playing in the second. Here are my thoughts, for those that are considering its use:

Summary

It’s not as scary as you probably think.

Qualification

I have 20+ years experience with D&D in general, maybe five or so with Pathfinder, and a month or two with 5e. I have always felt like grappling, in general, has gotten less attention than it deserved in pretty much any system, including all editions of D&D, and have had characters/moments in-game where I’ve found myself grappling (with the rules and/or the enemy) and found them a bit awkward. At the point of the convention, I had not read the Dungeon Grappling book (and still haven’t as of this writing—but I will), though I am quite familiar with its spiritual-ancestor, GURPS Martial Arts – Technical Grappling, so I did have a basic understanding of how it works beforehand.

Observations

In my brief exposure to the Dungeon Grappling system, I found it to actually be very easy to understand and smoothly integrated. It uses the normal attack-damage mechanics. “Control” is just damage of a different sort, the accumulation of which inflicts one of a handful of “grappled” conditions. Those conditions are well-defined and sensible, using established mechanics. A character can “attack” to add more to his own control, reduce his enemy’s control, aid allies’ grapples—it’s very intuitive. It works the same against larger or smaller opponents. The book has all the right cheat-sheets in easy-to-find places. I know the book does delve into more detailed grappling situations—and I generally like the more crunchy stuff—but really, the little bit that I observed is all you need to make grappling in D&D a bit more interesting, and it’s simple enough that I couldn’t give anyone a good reason to not use it.

And, I’m told Dungeon Grappling addresses that burning question I’ve always had in D&D and never found and answer for: how far can you throw a halfling? 😛

Note from Gaming Ballistic: Pretty darn far if you’re an Ancient Red Dragon

My 2¢.

Saturday was packed for me. I was busy from 9am until 10:30pm with good important stuff. Sunday, the last day of the con, was basically open for me – a free day – until the show closed, at which point I was to help tear down the booth.

The Big Day

Well, I awoke realizing that I’d left my battle-mat in the booth. No big, assuming it was there. I beat feet over before, it turned out, that the convention hall opened, which was 9am. So I went over to my gaming room, set up early, then chatted with some of the IGDN members there. I described my grappling system to Sarah at the booth, and another member sat down, and “oohed” and “aahhed” over my book, which was on the table. She opened it up and started avidly reading. I just grabbed a pen, signed it, and made a gift of it to her. If she’s that enthusiastic, she can have one! Continue reading “GenCon: The Big, The Free, and The Teardown”