Using My Monsters

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Tasric - Level 10 Poison

I'm Not Dead!

The last Ormid et Al game was a battle that ran over two sessions, and the last Shnecke's Wolves game was cancelled, so I have not had anything to post here.

However, I will be posting something soon, as Grigori and the gang finished their grim battles last night!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A Bit of Lore

SOLUMITE REUNIFICATION, THE (Third Age – Post Sundering); The twenty eight year  period between 1479 and 1507, where the “Seven Solar Orders” became one great order, and sought to unite the church of Solum'Tassadexes under a unifying theology akin to that held in earlier ages before the fracturing of the Sun Gods mind.

Lumor, the ancient (and at the time of the sundering, contested) holy city of Solum'Tassadexes, was strangely untouched by the dimensional catastrophe. This was seen by many as a sign that Solum'Tassadexes had some great plan for his children, a plan, many realised, that could not be realised as long as the church was so wildly divided. The Unification started on the 31/12/1479 (7 years, 7 months and 7 days after the sundering) with the legendary “Seven Brothers Moot”; a meeting of the seven most powerful orders swearing faith to Solum'Tassadexes in his aspect as a wrathful soldier of light and holy power. This meeting was called by the most powerful amongst these - the Order of the Silver Lion - at the behest of their Lord (soon to be High Overlord of the Unification Crusade) Lucentius Solan. 

At this meeting, a pact of unity and shared brotherhood was sworn by the gathered orders, and each was given 1/7th of the holy city to rebuild and protect (leading to the “Great Restoration” of the ancient site). This gave rise to a new, incredibly powerful Order, known as the Refulgent Order of the Solar Lord (usually just shortened to the Refulgent Knights, Refulgent Order, Solar Lords, Sun Lords, or Knights Refulgent). Their standard depicted a stylised sun, from which radiated seven fiery swords, blades pointed outwards.

Initially the main focus of the order was to bring unity to the faith as a whole; the plan being to accept into their brotherhood those that could be convinced to see their viewpoint, and to exterminate those that could not. This lead to the Unification Crusades – a bloody and vicious time of merciless warfare between the supporters of Solum'Tassadexes' various alternate scriptures, and to the emergence of Lumor and its war council as a major rallying point for the people of Fey in the dark years following the sundering. 

(It should be noted that although the main push of the crusades ended in the autumn of 1507, there are always ongoing conflicts between the Knights Refulgent, and various other factions of Solum's church).

With the reunification “compete”, the Knights Refulgent worked to create a stable and peaceful realm around the holy city, safe from the predations of the horrors of the sundering, and within 250 years of the “end” of the unification crusades, seven citadels guarded the edge of Lumor's domain, each named after a Lord of the founding Orders.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Shnecke's Wolves - Session 12

24/6/1472 – 14:20 – The party are far from the mountains and the disaster that unfolded there, having spent the last five days heading southwards, hoping to find one of the many port cities that once linked Kai'Yassan's exterior to the realms beyond the waters of Nawa'Sikei (Mother Ocean). They hope – given the continents strange new state of existence – that in such a place they can find some way to return to Irin, and re-establish communication with the Order.

* * *

As they have wandered, Varracuda has explained that in pre-sundering Kai'Yassan, the regions far removed from the Imperial City of Quei’Soi Leng, tended to be fairly autonomous, despite, in theory, being loyal to the Imperial Throne. Many of the cities that grew up along the shores of the Nawa'Sikei traded with Yissen merchants, and a chain of wealthy cities stretching from the Awa'Gao (World Cradle) Mountains to places as far removed as Ancient Iradesh and Sunken Aurym, could trace their wealth in part to these relationships. There were, he is quick to add, a number of Imperial ports, which were linked to the Imperial City by walled roads, that lead directly from the coast to the heart of the throne's rule, though he is unsure as to where, or how many, they were.

“So we head south, and when we hit the coast, wander along it until we come across something?” Asks Lia, her pale skin blotched by mosquito bites, her hair grimy with sweat.

“In a nutshell, yes.” Comes the equally harassed genasai's reply.

Whilst travelling the group have seen numerous wonders and horrors related to the Sundering. For example, as they left the cavern in which they slept following their escape from Gasharo' realm, a strange dark green rain had started to fall, spawning ever thickening growths of alien mosses, ferns and eventually trees where it touched the ground. By the time the group had been on the move for an hour, they were stalking amongst the boles of trees that, had they not known better, they would have said were hundreds of years old. And then, suddenly, they had come to the end of it, the usual terrain suddenly there before them across a clearly delineated line. Stranger still, as the group had crossed this line, so the entirety of the strange forest they had just passed through simply vanished; the normal terrain clearly laying behind them where it should be.

A Planar Transposition, Grigori had called it – a subtle layering of another reality over the realm of the physical, adding earnestly that “We were lucky not to get transported into the other plane.”, unaware that behind him the assassin quietly whispered “Yeah, cos we all know how hard he works to stop us ending up in alien universes don't we?”, grinning and nudging the barbarian – who entirely doesn't get his sarcasm at all...

* * *

The group are currently in a flat region of marshland that stretches from horizon to horizon. Visibility is seriously hampered by the ubiquitous cane grasses that grow thickly here, each individual stalk reaching some 6' height, and the terrain is murderous on their rate of progress, being either sucking ditches filled with mud, mosses and writhing water, or spongy hummocks. By day, the air becomes thick with mist and biting flies, and at night, a heavy fog, studded with the meandering lights of fireflies, prevents progress. On more than a few occasions a member of the group has become stuck fast in a sucking bog, or almost vanished into the throat of some hidden, water filled shaft, the risks only increasing with their gathering weariness.

14:20 – 15:15 – And so, the group are almost grateful when they notice that far away, possibly beyond the horizon, something strange is occurring; the sky in a distinct area shimmering as if affected by a heat haze. Sure it must be another manifestation of the sundering (an opinion backed up by the presence of low-key earth tremors and a curious throbbing of the air which makes teeth ache and sinuses feel painfully full), the group decide to check it out, the assassin agreeing to scout ahead, whilst the rest of the party follow at a distance.

Moving with grace and speed through the bog, Jaeger soon finds himself far away from the party, though he is sure he can find them again even in the tall reeds, thanks to the din they make as they splash and slog through the marsh. Hunkering low, and sticking to the raised hummocks, he has soon covered several miles, and is able to see more clearly the disturbance ahead, his keen ears picking up distant sounds of horror.

Sharp, rapidly repeated sounds that have a hard yet almost liquid quality to them. Human screams. Tinny, ripping sounds that carry oddly in the moist atmosphere.

Frowning, Jaeger finds a fallen tree stump on a hummock and stands upon it, giving himself a clearer view. Reaching into his backpack, he produces a telescope – a fine thing he purchased back in Irin for a small fortune, made by a Lower Malgorothian chronometerist – and peering through it, he gets his first view of what lies ahead.

It is, he realises, a great distance away, almost certainly beyond the worlds curve, but is of such height and size that it can be seen above the horizon; some kind of spire, greyish-blue through the heat haze that surrounds it. It seems to be oddly made, possibly a composite structure formed of vast bundles of spindle like objects set vertically together, though he is unable to say for certain. As he watches, Jaeger gets used to the view, and begins to make out finer details.

Firstly he realises that his guess about the size of the structure is spot on. It is something mountainous. He also realises that it is entirely alien. Definitely something that has entered this world from another. Finally he begins to see shoals of tiny glinting things flying around the structure; hundreds of speck like things that glitter as if reflecting light, and move in vast clouds.

As to what is causing the heat haze, and from where the strange sounds are coming, the assassin cannot say. It is – ignoring the fact that local dimensional effects could be influencing them – impossible that that sounds could be carrying over this great distance from the spire, and so, he concludes, something born of it is far nearer than the structure itself.

Having gathered all the information he feels the party needs, he starts to head back towards them.

15:16 – 15:20 – Jaeger meets up with his companions and relays all that he has discovered. “Something terrible has entered this world.” He begins grimly, “And I don't think we can do much about it. I think we need to head around it.”

Several members of the party agree, though Varracuda and Lia both raise their concerns about the source of the all too human screams, both still feeling very guilty about the catastrophe they helped to materialise upon the village days ago.

Eventually however, it is decided that the group shall try and skirt around the area of strangeness ahead, even though it will mean extra days of travel, and with that said, they continue on.

23:00 – 23:20 – Night has fallen with disturbing rapidity, and the party have made camp on a hummock, the assassin and barbarian working to create a dry and hidden shelter for them to rest in. Heavy fogs have risen from the stagnant waters, and the night is alive with the chirrup of insects and the songs of amphibians. To the southwest, the night seems brighter even through the cloaking fogs, through the sounds of death and devastation stopped some time ago.

Suddenly, out in the distance in the same direction, the group hear human-like cries of fear, and rapid, stumbling footfalls, awkward and desperate. Above those sounds is another; a high-pitched whining that is barely perceptible, and which causes everyone to wince at its touch. Instantly alert, the group decide to investigate, the assassin and genasai grabbing their gear, and vanishing out into the fog to try and intercept the sources of the racing footfalls.

They move through the dark like a pair of wolves, and soon manage to cut the unseen humans off, appearing before them like fiends. There are four of them; a man and woman in their mid twenties, a child of about four years age, and another child who seems a couple of years older than the first. All are clearly exhausted and near to collapse, and are filled with primal terror. At sight of the pair, they scream, slipping into the mud, the children too exhausted to cry, before scrabbling to their feet, weakly slapping at the two adventurers and tearing off in another direction into the marsh's embrace.

Jaeger winces, something about the four striking a chord within him. “head back to the others,” He whispers to Varracuda, “I'm going to find out what they are running from.”

Following the source of the painful whine, the assassin slips through the darkness, whilst the genasai, able to move over the waters of the bog without hindrance, goes to alert the rest of the party to his intentions. At first Jaeger - to whom the night is bright with a spectrum of shadowy hues, his alien eyes able to see clearly in the darkness, though the fog hampers him still – can see nothing but the damnable reeds, and the fog. Then, suddenly, he spots amorphous patches of colourless light in the skies ahead; at first it is a homogeneous blur of luminosity. However, within moments it resolves itself into six distinct forms.

Crouching down, the assassin despairs as he hears the fleeing humans cry out nearby, having clearly run in a great circle in their blind panic, and with this sound, the blurring lights begin to move with purpose, their strange forms becoming clear as they near his position.

All of them are composed of something that seems simultaneously have the properties of light and a solid. Each is quite beautiful, being a luminous, mathematically perfect polygon, which shines with the brittle, strange light, hovering without apparent means or effort. Most of them are about the size of a dundorin, whilst one, is three times the size of a man, and the assassin can suddenly taste burnt metal as they near his position. All of them are surrounded by orbiting structures, which whirr and flicker as they spin around; razor edged crescents, bundles of shimmering, needle like things, or hooked, blade like constructs, and as they gain on the fleeing humans, these objects begin to lock into place with a metallic snap, leaving the shade in no doubt as to their deadly purpose.

To the assassin's north, he can hear the group charging through the bog, and he spots the lead thing – the massive one – suddenly stop, its hooked blades snapping round to face the parties approach.

“This is stupid, but.”

Jaeger, unseen by the things, suddenly stands up, and shoots the massive entity with a well placed bolt, the shadowed quarrel scratching a fine silvery line in its strange surface. Apparently confused, the massive entity and its companions stop their advance, giving Jaeger a chance to unleash more attacks, his shade magic wreathing several of them in a scarring wave of shadow-duplicate bolts. He then snaps off another bolt at the larger being, scouring another line into its exterior.

Still far behind the lone assassin, the rest of the group pound their way through the sucking mire to catch up, and arrive just in time to see him dodge a violent spray of force projectiles, fired from the entities with the needle-like bundles.

“What the hell are they?” Wonders Varracuda out loud.

“Who cares!” Grunts Shnecke, hefting his axe, “Let's kill em all!”

The battle is not an easy one, as these strange entities are both resilient and evasive. Their attacks tend to favour invisible fields of force, which contuse and bind those they strike, hampering their movements, whilst brutally crushing them. The monsters also (save one that Grigori brings to ground with a powerful proclamation of logic), remain airborne, out of reach of many of the parties normal attacks. However, combining their efforts, and drawing upon their manifold talents, the party manage to bring all but one of the strange things down; the lone survivor hurtling high into the fogs above before any harm can be visited upon it, the fallen vanishing in a burst of teleportive magics – each one causing a local air tremor as the planar fabric responds to its manipulation.

Of especial note in this battle is the psychic bastion summoned by the ardent, which created a ghostly psionic tower around the group, hardening their will and their bodies against the attacks of the aliens, and saving them time after time from their attacks. Jaeger also draws some remarks, having shown something akin to a human side in his sudden defence of the fleeing mortals, and more than a few wonder what this can possibly mean.

23:21 – 23:30 - “We need to know what's going on.” Mutters the assassin, his form miraculously unharmed during the battle. “We need to catch up with those mortals.”

“But you don't speak the language?” Protests Lia.

“I do.”

Varracuda steps forth, limping, his wounds from the battle mostly restored thanks to Lia's psychic and Grigori's divine manipulations, though livid new scars are apparent across his upper body, his once fine armour badly torn and filthy.

“The people of this land are hugely fearful of the native spirits are they not?” wonders Jaeger aloud, “Could you Varracuda, not appear before them as a bog spirit, and cow them into compliance?”

The genasai shrugs.

“Well, it's worth a try. Lia, give us those spare rations you have, we don't need them, and Varracuda, get ready to run with me. Let's try and find out what they know.”

Soon the pair are once again tearing as fast as they dare through the reeds, fog and bogland, their keen senses reaching out, listening for the panicked humans. It does not take them long to find them, and less time to catch up to them, for by this point they are almost at the point of collapse. Varracuda scouts a little ahead, and waits for them to approach, whilst Jaeger lurks nearby, keeping watch over his ally.

The humans, sobbing and retching with exhaustion and terror, soon stumble towards the swordmage, their gasps and hard, ragged breathing deafening in the black stillness of the bog. When they are close enough to see through the stalks of the bog grasses, Varracuda cracks a sunrod, the bloodless, alchemical light from it throwing back the darkness in a shifting globe of golden-green light, the shadows of the reeds forming dancing spokes of darkness through the illuminated vapours.

(In Low Yassan) “Hold mortals! Who are you that wanders my realm uninvited and with no care? Show respect, and bow your head to me, the spirit who guards this place!”

Shocked and beyond rational thought, the four humans simply freeze, their eyes wide and bright with stark terror, their golden skin pale and ashen.

“Speak mortals, unless you would have me drown you in my bottomless bogs, or have my swarming hosts drain you of life!”

Still struggling to process what all this means, the adult male staggers a few steps forwards, falls to his knees, and bows before the genasai. When he speaks, it is in a raw, sobbing voice.

“Please mighty spirit, have mercy on me and my family, and accept our humblest apologies for trespassing in your realm without making the correct sacrifices! We flee a catastrophe that has befallen our town and many others. Have mercy powerful and mighty Lord!”

“A catastrophe? What manner of catastrophe could be so terrible that you would forget your sacred duties to the guardians, and trespass in my realm?”

“Please,” chokes the man, his hands held high in supplication, “The sky has brought forth daemons of strange and terrible power. A great citadel has appeared in the once fertile south lands, and from it have poured swarms of strange things that burn all in their path with magic, and...and...”

The man struggles, the last of his strength seeming to leave him. His family sink to the ground, their own horror finally catching up to them, shivering in the dark at the memories they hold.

“And what mortal? Speak up! I grow bored and angry!” (Jaeger notes that Varracuda is struggling to keep up the charade of an angry spirit, obviously moved by the fleeing villager's plight).

The man's jaw clenches, and he locks his gaze with Varracuda's, his eyes bright with tears.

“They...dismantled...everything alive that they came across. Cattle, men, women, trees, fish, all of them stripped from flesh to marrow, and carried away back to the tower. They took pinches of soil and leaf, and drained waters, and took it all back. For what purposes I know not. We fled. Our respected elders too...too...”

“Enough.” Says Varracuda softly, allowing all pretence of anger to fade, “Your actions here lack neither honour or hold any malice, and I welcome you to these realms. Here, take this food that you may survive, and rest here tonight, knowing that I shall watch over you and yours.”

The genasai gives the man the rations, and then picks up the sunrod. He smiles at the family, his own eyes stinging with tears, and then pockets the rod, stepping back into the sudden, heavy blackness that engulfs them all.

Monday, 9 January 2012

If it worked for Paizo...?

I've signed up to take part, but really, 4e suits me down to the ground. Then again, I seem to remember saying the same thing when 3.5 was ending and 4e had been announced...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Shnecke's Wolves - Session 11

- (From the “Kitsune, Dragon and Yissen” by Nendenaki Takashaiwa)

Year 17,358 Imperial (Mortal calendar), 26 days since the Sky smote the Earth.

And so, the huge dead human bore an axe of flame and struck the door with all his rage, bending its internal magics enough that it opened to them, and allowed us all into the monster's treasury.
And what a hoard we found. Coins of every type, mintage and metal lay strewn about in huge drifts, glinting beneath a veil of dusty ages, whilst rare metals and fine grained woods shone in the sides of coffers, chests and delicate vases – themselves stuffed with riches. Weapons, armours, and arcane devices that chuckled and fidgeted with magic were sprinkled throughout, and I must admit, that even I, a beast with little use for mortal treasures, could feel the lust for their possession stir within me.

With effort, the mortals closed the door to the chamber, and rudely, bade me begin again the ritual to open a door from this dimension to the mortal world. Hungry, dirty and eager to be gone, I managed – somehow – to swallow my indignation at their lack of gratitude and their simple lack of manners, and began the Opening Chant once more.

I shall not lie; mortals are idiots. As you, dear reader, almost certainly know, any ritual, especially one worked by oneself, requires a huge amount of concentration. Well, imagine trying to concentrate when the small chamber you are in is filled with battle!

Yes, even in here, the mortals found something to fight!

It seems that some of the coins, and one of the larger coffers, were in fact guardian creatures. They called them “Mimics”, though this word has no meaning to me. Whatever they were, they were able to perfectly imitate the items they were spoofing, and so were able to surprise everyone with their opening attacks.

I shall not wallow in the details of battle, except to say that it was a tough one. The monsters were quite resilient, and the larger one made life miserable for all by spewing blinding, stinging gas, and at one point, disturbed my ritual by giving out such a terrible shriek that I was quite unable to think of anything for a moment.

And of course, no sooner had they been dispatched, then the dragon himself appeared outside the chamber; roaring, coiling and railing against the Arjiin portal with his claws and spirit fire.

Well, we were as good as dead I thought, and though my instincts told me to try and flee, or to offer the mortals up as some kind of bargaining chip, I continued with the door making, hoping that the mortals might at least slow Gasharo down enough that I could escape.

At first they seemed to pin their hopes on the door holding the raging T'ien Lung back. However, they realised with horror that the monster would destroy it long before I could weave my portal, and so they began to panic.

Is there a secret way out?” Screamed one idiot.

Maybe there is a powerful item we can use against him!” Screams another.

Maybe we can threaten to smash something he loves!” Bleated a third.

And then a frenzy of activity whilst they search for non-existent exits, non-existent super weapons and non-existent treasures.

A moment then, the door denting and warping in its frame, the air filled with the deafening rumble and bellow of the dragon's rage, where the mortals simply seemed dazed by their predicament; the realisation that they were going to die in that place finally settling into their minds.

And then something amazing happened.

All at once the mortals began to scream at the dragon, the water spirit translating the words of their woman, whilst the others chipped in with ideas for what to say. He spoke of mistakes and pacts – words that Gasharo spat down in his rage, reminding them that there had been no mistake when they had slain his three captains, freed his prisoners and murdered scores of his troops. They spoke of misunderstandings and apologies, but Gasharo merely railed against the door some more.

And then they threatened him!

Even lost, as I was, in the casting of my door, this seemed like suicide. However, I fancy their words had baffled the dragon; a creature used to seeing his enemies flee at his mere presence. So, to have the soft little mortals then seriously threaten him, seemed to give him pause – long enough, I am pleased to report, for me to masterfully weave my escape portal, and for the mortals to grab some treasures before they fled.

Gasharo did however, have his revenge.

He had actually begun, as a fine, golden mist, to flow into the chamber as we left, and sent a burst of spirit fire through that singed my tails. However, this was naught compared to the revenge he then took on the village the mortals had sworn to protect – already aflame from the vengeance of the dragon's Oni. It was too terrible to tell of, and the mortals - shameful, dishonourable things that they are - decided to leave the site of their failure alone, and to seek new lands far away from their disgrace.

I had planned to follow them a little while, to see what they would do in the face of adversity. However, so disgusted was I with their cowardice and lack of accountability, that I left them to fend for themselves. I believe they are heading south, to seek a port. I suspect they will sow even more ruin before something stops them.

May the ancient masters keep them far from my door."