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Double Plus Undead
Dec 24, 2010
Feels a bit off the mark if Elder Things perform it, since they're basically the oppressive aristocracy as is.

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Kavak
Aug 23, 2009


Double Plus Undead posted:

Feels a bit off the mark if Elder Things perform it, since they're basically the oppressive aristocracy as is.

No, the shoggoths are dressed up as the elder things, their old oppressors.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


THE DREAMLANDS EXPRESS – PART 4

I Already Made A Eurythmics Joke I Think

On the picturesque journey from Dylath-Leen to Zar, the Sarnathians do what they do best: be huge dicks. They invite their chosen dreamer to partake in their outrageously funny pranks on the Beings of Ib. The prank is, you grab a Being of Ib and shove them onto a wall or into a corner somewhere where they'll stick. That's Constitution to handle a Being, then Strength to hoist it up. The Beings don't make any attempt to resist and won't be able to get themselves down. Kind-hearted investigators with a strong stomach may pull a pranked Being from the place where it was stuck, at which point it will be escorted back to the Padded Compartment by Henri. Handling a Being either way will require a bath immediately afterwards.



Zar is the Abode of Unformed Dreams. As a city, it looks something like a Grecian temple complex, but it's full of the half-dead and incomplete objects of dreams now discarded. Henri warns against venturing into Zar, as the only reason the Express stops here is to pick up lost dreamers. Anyone who does disembark and sees Zar's interior loses 1/1D4 SAN.

The Madman tries to board in Zar. He's emaciated and wearing tattered clothing, babbling incoherently about the horrors he's witnessed. He's torn his own eyes out, but he can still see. He's clutching a ticket and wants to board, but will attack Henri or any dreamer who tries to help him. As such, Henri is reluctant to let him on and will need a Persuade roll to convince him otherwise, at which point the Madman will be tied up and locked in the Baggage or Padded Compartment. The truth is he's just a dreamer having an awful nightmare. A dreamer who uses Psychoanalysis will be able to partially heal his damaged mind; slowly, a green soapstone carving of the Madman's own screaming face will coalesce in his hand, his dream artefact. 1D2 SAN for helping him.

Murder On The Dreamlands Express!!!

Things heat up on the way to Aphorat.

After lunch, Henri passes through the dreamers' carriage on an errand. Karakov hurries down the corridor, his hand wrapped in a blood-stained bandage; if asked, he will say he suffered a shock at lunch and cut his hand ('Can't you hear them? The guns are so loud.'). A Being of Ib is squeezed into a corner of the roof by a Sarnathian. A dreamer might help the Being, which will require a trip to the baths, which will require a fresh robe from the sandlewood trunk their compartment. When they open the trunk, they find the body of Blackjack.



Yeah, rip. :ironicat:

The kitten has been stabbed three times with a sharp object as long as his entire body. First Aid suggests that the blood stains are too small for these wounds, so he was probably killed somewhere else and moved here. Medicine suggests a probable time of death as 2:00PM – asking other passengers reveals no one had seen him since before lunch. Another roll of either skill suggests that the implement used was unlikely to be a knife, since the wounds are thicker and rounder than a normal blade.

The smartest thing to do is call Henri and notify him of the murder, as doing so will immediately clear them of any suspicion. Dumb investigators will try to hide the body somewhere else, extremely dumb investigators will try to throw it out the window – a tentacle catches it and it'll take a Luck roll for it to not immediately go to Henri. The cats react to the murder by retreating to their compartment and hissing at any visitors. When Henri finds out, he respectfully asks for the investigators' help in solving the murder. A Law or Dream Lore roll will inform the dreamers that a murdered cat on his train breaks his deal with Ulthar and he risks losing that station forever as a result.

Since there's no way off the train while it's moving and the tentacles catch any disposed items, the murderer and any evidence are still somewhere on the Express.

(It's possible that the investigators don't help the Being or otherwise interact with their trunks, in which case they get a Spot Hidden roll every time they walk into their compartment to notice the smear of blood on the trunk.)

((It's also possible that they don't make the discovery at all before Aphorat. The consequences are dire: Blackjack's mother Sophie eventually discovers the body, and the investigators must help Henri in the investigation as before – this time with a two hour time limit.))

Next time: CSI: Dreamlands!

Down With People fucked around with this message at 08:21 on Dec 21, 2017

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.
Those bastards! Our cat!

Double Plus Undead
Dec 24, 2010

Kavak posted:

No, the shoggoths are dressed up as the elder things, their old oppressors.

Sorry, misread.

I suppose Blackjack was too good to last. :(

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009


Nooo, kitty! :cry:

I think I've come up with a quick fix for a Keeper and players who don't want to run Note for Note. In London, the professor drops a clear suggestion about where the Torso is in the city, they get to where its supposed to be... and its gone. Gone very recently, as evidence will show. Someone is on to them, as an attempted hit by a cultist or two soon proves, and now they're racing against the clock to find as many of the Simulacrum pieces as they can. Fear, paranoia, significantly less bullshit-- all make for a better scenario.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007

This probably causes more rage in most player groups than all the various crimes so far.

drunkencarp
Feb 14, 2012
Can you use the Dreaming skill to revive Blackjack?

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer
Long, circular puncture wounds? Do those rear end in a top hat Sarnathians knit, by any chance?

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.

drunkencarp posted:

Can you use the Dreaming skill to revive Blackjack?

Nope! The book doesn't mention it, but I'm going to assume you can't Dream hit points into Blackjack for the same reason you can't bandage up a corpse and bring it back to life.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E
GURPS Zombieland, USA

PART 2 – BLACK LAKE, CONT



THE FACE OF TERRISM

Deputy Amber Lane is a police officer who also runs the Zen House, a local East Asian-styled religious commune that accepts anyone willing to work in the gardens and maintain the building. Lane doesn’t run it for profit; it’s a labor of love for her, combining her contempt for modern society with a desire to teach her particular version of Zen Buddhism and martial arts. This lady, from her description, sounds white as hell, but she actually has East Asian constituents some academic knowledge of Zen, even if it’s kinda low, so :shrug:. She makes up for budget shortcomings with donations. She’s also secretly a radical anarchist who hides terrorists on the lam and the FBI is after her in both settings. There are two other religious institutions in town; the Church of Pure Values, your standard evangelical, “family values” church, and the Black Lake Free Church, a socially progressive church (in Autoduel, part of a broader network of similar churches).

Jesus Ortega is the town mechanic and an unparalleled engineering genius. He’s also blind. Like many blind people, he can mostly function on his own, only needing the assistance of his daughter Maria (a mechanic in her own right considering going into physics) and Uncle (some guy) when working with unfamiliar parts; either way, his reputation is such that the local say “Jesus saves” to anyone with malfunctioning automobiles. He’s also a passionate socialist who gives substantial discounts to foreigners to kindle brotherhood between nations. In Autoduel, he extends the same mechanical ability to maintaining and installing weapons.

Barbara Fram runs the local paper and is kind of an rear end, notable for trying to shout down interviewees and facing multiple libel lawsuits. Her paper is almost entirely local news and fluff pieces. She also employs Sydney Jonathan, a rich boy sent into rural exile by his father for misbehaving at Oxford. He loving hates laid-back, friendly, isolated Black Lake and would leave if he thought it wouldn’t get him taken out of his daddy’s will; he’s taken to working at both the paper and the local radio station, and easy listening station that doesn’t seem to make as much as it costs to run, to make up for the gambling debts he’s accrued trying to stay sane. In Autoduel, he’s actually a very capable fighter, as good as anyone else in town, but he shuns these hicks and won’t join the militia.


Eeeeeeeheheheheheheheee

Dr. Malcolm Fraser, the town dentist, isn’t terribly notable. He just has a high History (medieval torture methods) skill :laugh: EDIT: I doublechecked, it's substantially higher than his Professional Skill (dentistry) skill

Glory Muldoon is the Sheriff and (in Autoduel) leader of the town militia. She’s kind of a weird inversion of a stereotypical male ex-soldier; she has a military background, all sorts of military and policing skills, and she openly looks down on men while enjoying seeing male strippers. Despite this she’s universally respected by the townsfolk and runs a tight police department/militia. She doesn’t have any secrets beyond that. Her local opposite is Doc Willy Basset, the only doctor in town. He’s an expert physician, committed pacifist, and opponent of Sheriff Muldoon, someone he calls “the Soldier Bag”. He does have a secret; he has Magic Resistance, it runs in his family apparently. He doesn’t know why.

Wiley Kiley! He’s the ex-Army Col. who effectively runs the local retirement home. Kylie’s an old Patton-obsessed warhorse who spends his time organizing social events and doing whatever it is that old people do when no one’s watching. In non-Autoduel games, just like in real life, you want to tread lightly around the elderly retirees or they’ll ruin your life in the community. In Autoduel games? Kiley and his cohort play their part in defending their town by manning A loving ARTILLERY BATTERY :black101:


Tourism dollars well spent!

Geography and town history! Black Lake started life as a mining town during the Gold Rush and then the rush folded. The inhabitants switched to logging, then to tourism as time went on. The old mine is still around, but it’s been abandoned and gradually crumbling since – until the hilariously euphemistic ResourceCo snapped up the land, promised the locals they’d reopen the mine and provide them with jobs, and imported workers instead that never spend their pay in Black Lake or pass through it or even leave the mine. Boy, I wonder what they could be? There’s also the Black Lake itself, a hospitable mountain lake notable for being both unusually warm and unusually deep. The bulk of the lake is open to the public, and though the locals play up the :krakken: factor for tourists it’s perfectly safe… (Ellipsis from the book) The only part of the lakefront closed to the outside world is a mansion owned by a Midwestern medical firm called Columbus Meditech. The property is patrolled by armed guards and walled off from the outside world.

I wonder where the zombies come from?

Next time: Autoduel rules (pun probably not intentional)

Falconier111 fucked around with this message at 05:24 on Dec 21, 2017

Ratoslov
Feb 15, 2012

Now prepare yourselves! You're the guests of honor at the Greatest Kung Fu Cannibal BBQ Ever!

I say we find the murderer and feed them into the engine. Nobody fucks with our cat buddy.

Obligatum VII
May 5, 2014

Haunting you until no 8 arrives.

Down With People posted:

Massa di Requiem per Shaggai. I like the references to it in Delta Green where it's yet another abysmal failure project of the Shan. It'll absolutely summon Azathoth, but it's never been successfully performed to completion.

I'm just imagining a giant scramble by every other elder god aware of it to stop the play, since Azathoth waking up would be bad for everyone including them.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009


Obligatum VII posted:

I'm just imagining a giant scramble by every other elder god aware of it to stop the play, since Azathoth waking up would be bad for everyone including them.

Nazis summoned a bit of Azathoth near the end of WWII in Delta Green, blasted a couple square miles of Germany for their trouble.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

Kavak posted:

Nazis summoned a bit of Azathoth near the end of WWII in Delta Green, blasted a couple square miles of Germany for their trouble.
Bit more than that. It was a Nazi mountain fortress. Successfully summoning it instead transformed the mountain into a perfectly flat plateau on top of a hill.

Also you are absolutely correct that there should be Shoggoths dressed as Elder Things dressed as French high society.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009

IF YOU SEE ME SHITTING UP A THREAD ABOUT CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED MMORPG FINAL FANTASY XIV PLEASE REMIND ME THAT I QUIT THE GAME BECAUSE IT COULD NOT HANDLE MY LOFTY CRITICISMS OF VIOLENCE IN MEDIA

AND ALSO TO SHUT THE HELL UP

The Lone Badger posted:

This probably causes more rage in most player groups than all the various crimes so far.

This kind of thing is why in games I've run the party has only adopted a pet after I as the DM offer prolonged reassurances that I won't have bad guys kill their beloved team pet.

Foglet
Jun 17, 2014

Reality is an illusion.
The universe is a hologram.
Buy gold.

Kavak posted:

3: Les Miserables except it's performed by shoggoths with other shoggoths dressed up as Elder Things dressed up as the oppressive French aristocracy and French army quashing the rebels.

♫ Do you hear the blobbies sing
♫ Singing the song of angry blobs
♫ It is the music of a people
♫ Who will not be slaves again
Tekeli-Li ♬♬♬

Foglet fucked around with this message at 13:46 on Dec 21, 2017

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.

Foglet posted:

♫ Do you hear the blobbies sing
♫ Singing the song of angry blobs
♫ It is the music of a people
♫ Who will not be slaves again
Tekeli-Li ♬♬♬

:golfclap:

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.


Grimey Drawer
Ia! Ia! Encore!

U.T. Raptor
May 11, 2010

Are you a pack of imbeciles!?

FMguru posted:

The canonical use is from the Dragonlance modules, where the cute elf who helps the heroes is actually a polymorphed silver dragon (i.e. DM insurance in case the final encounter goes badly for the PCs) and she runs away with one of the NPCs at the end.
There's a bunch of dragons pretending to be humans in Dragonlance, really. Like the one who does it to be the mayor of a city because... he really likes doing that I guess :shrug:

Ghost Leviathan
Mar 2, 2017

Exploration is ill-advised.

Hostile V posted:

Bit more than that. It was a Nazi mountain fortress. Successfully summoning it instead transformed the mountain into a perfectly flat plateau on top of a hill.

Also you are absolutely correct that there should be Shoggoths dressed as Elder Things dressed as French high society.

That does make me wonder if there's something of that behind the Plateau of Leng.


U.T. Raptor posted:

There's a bunch of dragons pretending to be humans in Dragonlance, really. Like the one who does it to be the mayor of a city because... he really likes doing that I guess :shrug:

4e dragons mostly toned the wanton shapeshifting and free magic way the hell down, removed completely for the most part, though in turn there's a couple of dragons that specialise in it. Steel dragons actually pose as humans and seek powerful positions in society and property is considered their hoard, while Mercury dragons are basically T-1000s with ADHD who like their hoards to be differentiated collections, and will gladly trade away a double for something new.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010
In addition to the classics such as Healing, Charm, Summoning, and Protection, the supplement The Tome of Magic added many new priest spheres, including Numbers, War, and

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 63: The Deck of Genies and Giants

360: The SIght of Vengeance

The PC sees a huge ball of fire in the hills in the distance. A wizard tried to summon and trap an efreet in a bottle, but it broke free, burned down the lab-mansion, and is now burninating the countryside. If the PCs beat it (“including eliminating any chances for escape”), it’ll offer a wish in exchange for its life.

“If the party does not accept his initial offer, the efreeti will tell them that he is willing to take back his offer of a single wish for three wishes. If the party agrees to the new offer, the efreeti will demand three wishes from the party, chuckle deeply, and return to its home, the City of Brass.” Uh… can efreeti plane shift? If so, how did the PCs “eliminate any chance for escape?” And if they did block planar travel, I would just grant them the wish, efreet buddy, because you’re not getting out of there alive after being a smart alec.

Now, I’d be happy to play the efreet as a legalistic rear end in a top hat who would literally rather die defending his overly literal reading of his offer than grant the PCs three wishes. The bigger problem is that the PCs are almost certainly not going to try to capture it, they’re just going to waste it. I guess I could just have it surrender if it’s losing? I dunno.

Still, I suppose even the basic setup (‘efreet escaped and burned down a wizard lab’) is acceptable. Keep.

P.S.: Also, there’s 5000 gp of melted gold and platinum in the ruins of the wizard’s manor. And presumably scraps of hopelessly destroyed valuable tomes and broken magical items.


361: Gone Fishin’

Moving through rough hills, the party hears sounds of “brutish laughter echoing over a lake.” It’s six hill giants, “fishing with saplings and thick rope.” They’re using pixies as lures, pulling one out of a large wicker basket, pulling off their wings, impaling them on fishhooks (:gonk:), and casting them into the lake to try to catch a giant pike. (It turns out giant pikes have stats in AD&D 2E. I’m as surprised as you are.)

There are six more pixies in the basket. If saved and brought back home, they’ll “reward the party with six magic items chosen at random.”

Excuse me a moment. Using just the DMG, that’s... (roll roll) a potion of water breathing, beads of force, a cloak of elvenkind, full plate +5 (!), a long sword +1, and a long sword +5 (!!). Seriously, that’s what I rolled. There’s going to be one happy fighter in the party today. Also, some happy hireling that gets tossed a long sword +1 because nobody else wants it.

Well, I don’t know how I feel about six random magic items, but the scene itself is.. memorable. Keep.

P.S. How on earth did hill giants catch pixies?


362: Games Giants Play

The PCs are passing through a mountain valley, and come across five stone giants playing catch with a carriage (including father & daughter riders, who are hanging on for dear life and getting battered about).

The stone giants will drop the carriage if surprised, and gather up large boulders if they have time to prepare. One will pick the carriage back up and throw it at the PCs, which will kill the two nobles no matter what.

Near one of the giants’ feet is a six-foot long stone flute, which they care about for unknown reasons, and which the PCs could ransom for the nobles if they can threaten to destroy it. The nobles will reward them to the tune of 2,500 gp worth of gems and jewelry if saved.

Fine hook, with a few good twists to the encounter. Keep.


363: Cloud Slaves

The PCs are climbing in the mountains and six cloud giants attack, seeking to take them as slaves. Nothing interesting there - they throw boulders (at people they want to enslave?), then switch to morningstars in melee, until they’re forced to flee or the party surrenders. One of them has a +2 weapon, and I’ve got to say, a giant-sized +2 morningstar is much more interesting treasure than a human-sized one.

Most of the card is devoted to what happens if the PCs are captured, but that’s kind of generic, too. Some of them will be employed to mine silver, some to work as cooks and attendants. The giants are overconfident and have poor security, so the card simply states that “escape while the giants are asleep is not particularly difficult.” (Read: not particularly interesting.) There is a treasure room somewhere there, but the card says that most of the stuff will be “too large and heavy to carry out in secret,” except for the PCs' own stolen equipment. Sure, but what if the giant-sized goods are reduced, or stuffed in some kind of bag of holding, or teleported? I kinda can’t hand-wave away the whole treasure room of a giant castle!

A cloud giant castle warrants a one-page dungeon format, not a criminally brief textual description. Of course, that’s only relevant if the high-level PCs get captured and enslaved, which… uh, I don’t really see happening. If there’s one thing I’ve learned DMing, it’s that players do not like their characters getting enslaved and/or looted, and will pull out all the stops to keep that from happening. Given that I foresee this just being a “six giants attack” situation… I’m not sold. Pass.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 18:06 on Dec 21, 2017

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk


Dallbun posted:


362: Games Giants Play

One will pick the carriage back up and throw it at the PCs, which will kill the two nobles no matter what.

I'm still in love with these absolute statements. so throwing the carriage at the players kills the nobles, even if they've already gotten off of it and ran for cover. it kills them if the party's wizard manages to evacuate them away from the scene entirely. it kills them if the party's cleric has (for some reason) placed a death ward upon each of them. it also doesn't say that the giant has to succeed with his attack, so it kills the two nobles even if they've already abandoned it and the giant misses and the carriage goes sailing over some hills; when it finally lands the nobles just spontaneously die.

NO MATTER WHAT

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010

Freaking Crumbum posted:

I'm still in love with these absolute statements. so throwing the carriage at the players kills the nobles, even if they've already gotten off of it and ran for cover. it kills them if the party's wizard manages to evacuate them away from the scene entirely. it kills them if the party's cleric has (for some reason) placed a death ward upon each of them. it also doesn't say that the giant has to succeed with his attack, so it kills the two nobles even if they've already abandoned it and the giant misses and the carriage goes sailing over some hills; when it finally lands the nobles just spontaneously die.

NO MATTER WHAT

I'm sorry, that was my own absolute statement! The card says they'll die whether the giants hit or miss with the throw carriage. Your animus is, in this particular instance, misplaced!

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk


Dallbun posted:

I'm sorry, that was my own absolute statement! The card says they'll die whether the giants hit or miss with the throw carriage. Your animus is, in this particular instance, misplaced!

:lol: it's not animus, I genuinely love the natural language a lot of older RPG stuff uses in a very Murphy's Rules kind of way. it amuses me to explore all of the unintended interpretations that arise from absolute statements.

it seems like it's an artifact of older material just assuming that the DM and the players were going to correctly interpret the language being used, but for as long as I've played RPGs I've found most other enthusiasts to be a rather cantankerous lot, so when these kinds of situations arise at a table it frequently breaks into a 30 minute debate session between the players and the DM.

Foglet
Jun 17, 2014

Reality is an illusion.
The universe is a hologram.
Buy gold.

Dallbun posted:

The card says they'll die whether the giants hit or miss with the throw carriage.

Well, it must be technically true. They WILL die. Sooner or later. Same as the lives we live are killing us all, little by little, carriages or not.

Foglet fucked around with this message at 07:28 on Jan 9, 2018

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

Foglet posted:

♫ Do you hear the blobbies sing
♫ Singing the song of angry blobs
♫ It is the music of a people
♫ Who will not be slaves again
Tekeli-Li ♬♬♬


:allears:

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010

Foglet posted:

♫ Do you hear the blobbies sing
♫ Singing the song of angry blobs
♫ It is the music of a people
♫ Who will not be slaves again
Tekeli-Li ♬♬♬


*Dyer and Danforth flee through cyclopean tunnels, pursued by the insidious musical piping of off-key, a cappella "Castle on a Cloud"*

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 17:17 on Dec 21, 2017

DalaranJ
Apr 15, 2008

Yosuke will now die for you.

Freaking Crumbum posted:

I'm still in love with these absolute statements. so throwing the carriage at the players kills the nobles, even if they've already gotten off of it and ran for cover. it kills them if the party's wizard manages to evacuate them away from the scene entirely. it kills them if the party's cleric has (for some reason) placed a death ward upon each of them. it also doesn't say that the giant has to succeed with his attack, so it kills the two nobles even if they've already abandoned it and the giant misses and the carriage goes sailing over some hills; when it finally lands the nobles just spontaneously die.

NO MATTER WHAT

They shouldn’t have used the carriage as a phylactery.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:
At the end of the day you're another day older. Unless the Great One Awakes and consumes all of time.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

U.T. Raptor posted:

There's a bunch of dragons pretending to be humans in Dragonlance, really. Like the one who does it to be the mayor of a city because... he really likes doing that I guess :shrug:

I always thought silver dragons were the big biped fetishists.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk


Foglet posted:

Well, it must be technically true. They WILL die. Sooner or latter. Same as the lives we live are killing us all, little by little, carriages or not.

:perfect:


DalaranJ posted:

They shouldn’t have used the carriage as a phylactery.

:golfclap:

Foglet
Jun 17, 2014

Reality is an illusion.
The universe is a hologram.
Buy gold.
Of course Valjean is able to remain unrecognized, he's a shapeshifter.
Of course Javert goes to infiltrate the barricades without a shadow of doubt that someone may know a police inspector's face, he's an (Elder) God-damned shapeshifter.

Foglet
Jun 17, 2014

Reality is an illusion.
The universe is a hologram.
Buy gold.
Stars
In your multitudes
Scarce to be counted
Filling the darkness
With order and light
You are the sentinels
Silent and sure
Keeping watch in the night
Till at last you are right


This one scarcely needed any editing at all.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.
The Shoggoth version of the musical retains Hugo's multi-chapter diversion into a lecture on the structure of the Paris sewers and cloistered monks, sometimes with all new music.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

I could spend all afternoon putting it together but I'm 100% sure you could do the stage adaptation of The Producers note by note but replacing Springtime For Hitler with The King In Yellow down to Bialystock and Bloom hiring an incredibly incompetent cast and society loving their adaptation as a strangely endearing farce. Just replace Franz Liebkind with Francois Beaulieu, the mad cultist who vehemently denies he has ever been a cultist nor any blood ties to the royalty of Carcossa, he was just visiting for school and education.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.
Springtime for Hastur and Carcosa even -scans-, goddamnit.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
Way of the Wicked - Book 2 - Introductions

The Way of the Wicked(WotW) is a level 1-20 Adventure Path for evil characters published by Fire Mountain Games for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game system. It’s one of the more popular 3rd party adventure books for Pathfinder, showing up in the top 10 downloads of the weekly Paizo newsletter for years. Equally important, I ran the whole campaign from start to finish over the course of about 2.5 years. Next up is book 2 of 6: Call Forth Darkness. As a warning I’m not doing spoilers on anything so if you are or might be playing this campaign proceed at your own discretion.

Previously on WotW…our villains had escaped from the most secure prison in the kingdom of Talingarde. They were recruited into the service of the last High Priest of Asmodeus with the intention of overthrowing the Kingdom. After delivering a few tons of weapons and armor to a Bugbear horde they destroyed a key fortification allowing the horde to invade Talingarde.

INTRODUCTION
This book is where we start getting to the red meat, entering territory not usually encountered in a standard campaign. Far to the west of where we left off is the city of Farholde an often forgotten part of the kingdom that borders on a horrible secret. In the great forest to the south The Horn of Abaddon lies waiting, once the home of a daemonic cult. The PCs will take control there and make it a dungeon to call their own, for 7 months they will need to defend this dungeon from monsters, natural disasters and invading murderhobos to complete a ritual most profane. This book contains numerous encounters including 7 bands of adventurers intent on defeating the PCs or just looting their dungeon, the author offers some advice.

quote:

Personally, I’d replace at least one of those adventuring parties. Throw it out. Instead, replace it with PCs from your player's’ own past. You remember that annoying enchanter who mind-controlled all your monsters? The druid who stayed in bear-form most of the last campaign? The rogue who talked his way out of every death-trap you threw at him? Bring ‘em to the Horn. You’ve got 222 days for the players to receive a large dose of their own medicine.

A bit passive-aggressive*, including the other comments that now is the chance for the GM to take revenge on the players for all the times they wrecked up his carefully designed dungeons in previous campaigns.

We’re also promised an optional system for managing the mooks and underlings such wicked villains are sure to attract. We’ll be covering this later in the write up.

*(Fully justified if your group contains a Druid that gives invasive colonoscopies to dragons.)



BACKGROUND
So back in the last book we had a rad history of Talingarde to which I’m sure you all paid careful attention; just like my players. King Markadian I kicked a lot of rear end and united the kingdom, but during his reign he undertook a secret quest to banish a daemon prince from the island. For centuries a death cult that worshipped pestilence inhabited a fortress called the Horn of Abaddon hidden in the forests near Farholde. Markadian and his knights stormed the Horn, putting the cultists to the sword and the king himself slew the daemon prince Vetra-Kali Eats-the-Eyes, banishing him to whatever Neutral Evil shithole daemons come from in PF. The King being a wise Paladin knew that the daemon could eventually return so with the aid of his Clerics they fashioned a holy artifact that would forever bar the return of Vetra-Kali. The King did his best to wipe out all record of the cult and his quest against them.

Decades later Cardinal Samuel Havelyn would learn about the Horn and the great seal warding against Vetra-Kali. Now risen as the lich Adrastus Thorn he seeks to free the daemon and bind it to his service. The daemon can be forced to produce a horrifying pestilence that will devastate Talingarde from within while it is dealing with the Bugbear Horde of Sakkarot Fire-Axe. While the bugbears have won several battles the noble houses of Talingarde are mustering their armies to put an end to the Fire-Axe. By unleashing the plague known as the Tears of Achlys Cardinal Thorn plans to gut Talingarde from within while it deals with the external threat.

The PCs are being sent to Farholde to accomplish this unholy mission for Cardinal Thorn, but they are not the first of his minions to be sent. Months ago the Fourth Knot (Phlegethian) was dispatched retrieve this plague but after locating the Horn of Abaddon all communication with the ceased. The Horn, it turns out, is not completely abandoned and the Fourth met a grisly end. Cardinal Thorn has no idea what happened to the Fourth Knot but now that the PCs have unleashed the Bugbears this is now his highest priority. (This is a minor plot hole since presumably Thorn took the same precautions with the Fourth Knot as he did with the PCs and can just scry them to learn that they dead.) Now Thorn is sending the PCs and the Seventh Knot, Elise Zadaria and the White Ravens, to succeed where the others failed.

FARHOLDE GAZETTEER
The PCs will be spending much of their time in and around Farholde during this part of the AP. So we get some useful background on the region, interesting NPCs and possible side quests.

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Alignment: CG
Government autocracy chosen by the monarchy in Matharyn
Population 9,500 (7,500 humans; 1,100 half-elves; 650 elves; 125 dwarves; 90 halflings; 35 other)
Notable NPCs
Lord Argus Welshire, Duke of Farholde, Commander of the Castle Hamarhall - away at war
Sir Valin Darian, Knight of the Alerion, 2nd in command of the Castle Hamarhall
Baron Arkov Vandermir
Abbess Temperance Avigail of the Order of Saint Cynthia-Celeste
Hugo Hallynbeck, mayor and reeve of Farholde


Farholde is northwestern most city in the Kingdom of Talingarde, a backwater of the greater kingdom it has long served an important role as part of the Watch Wall protecting the Borderlands. Now the great Castle Hamarhall is mostly empty, it’s commander Lord Argus having taken the garrison east to join the battle against the Fire-Axe.

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And yet, here in this backwater, the fate of tens of thousands of Talireans will be decided. This could be Farholde’s moment of triumph, where alone it met a great evil and brought it low. Or, this could be its darkest hour, where less than a day’s ride from its walls, the city did nothing as a monster was born.

The city is built up on nine hills along Lake Scardynn to protect the structures there from annual flooding. Every year the Lake overflows it banks and deposits rich sediment on the floodplain making the surrounding farmland incredibly fertile. The other major industry in Farholde is fishing; Lake Scardynn is deep and home to all manner of fish and sometimes giant crayfish.

For untold centuries the region had been an outpost of the barbaric Iraen; this came to end a few hundred years ago when King Accarius IV (of house Barca, the previous rulers of Talingarde) to destroy the natives and establish a colony of Talireans. Now the Iraens haunt the forests and glens of the Caer Bryr.



Notable Landmarks of Farholde
1. Hamarhall - A symbol of royal might in this far flung corner of the kingdom it would normally be manned by over 100 knights and soldiers. Now it contains only a skeleton crew. The book advises the DM that PCs may want to perform an encore of the Burning of Balentyne here but it would only serve to warn those nearby townsfolk that something is seriously amiss.
2. The Accarian Beacon - A lighthouse at the place where Lake Scardynn meets the sea. It contains the winch that controls a sea chain meant to cut off the lake in case of invasion. Not sure who this is supposed to keep out or in. The keeper of the lighthouse is a minor noble, Sir Bonder, and he has a gang of ruffians known as the Breakers. He has potential to be an ally or rival for the PCs burgeoning criminal empire.
3. Calliver Green - Home to the six estates of the rich and powerful in Farholde, the Green is a gently sloping hill with access controlled by a small guard post and private security.

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Welshire Hall (the personal estate of the duke himself)
Vanderhall (Baron Arkov Vandermir’s estate)
Beaconhelm (the estate of Sir Bonder of the Beacon)
Hallynsgate (home of the mayor and reeve, Hugo Hallynbeck)
Cranstyn Spire (owned by Farholde’s wealthiest merchant – the lady Shalyn Marsten)
Far Ghasten (an empty but meticulously maintained manor owned by the powerful Ghastens of Ghastenhall).
4. Abbey of Saint Cynthia-Celeste - Sisters of the Order are a common sight around Farholde, they serve the memory of their devil hunting founder. Within the walls of the convent a 300+ badass battle nuns ready to defend the city or take the fight to the wicked if necessary. The are lead by Abbess Temperance Avigail.
5. The Vandermir Orphanage - What appears on the surface to be a charitable operation for the poor unfortunate orphan children is in fact a recruiting center for thugs and criminals to serve Baron Vandermir. Overseen by Master Bergill Mott (LE Human Wizard 4) he protects the reputation of the orphanage while the surrounding neighborhood becomes increasingly crime-ridden.
6. Bryrwatch (The Trident) - This 3 floored tower is manned by a half dozen soldiers tasked with warning the city of any threats coming from the forest or lake.
7. Auld’Irey - The oldest and largest part of the city; most of the markets, inns and taverns are found here. It’s a nice place to live, also being home to the city guard.
8. Templeton Rise - Rising above the Auld’Irey is the site of an ancient pagan temple later converted and rebuilt for use by the Talirean pantheon. Later when the Darian dynasty came to power and a new temple was built dedicated solely to the worship of Mitra the property was sold to powerful merchant family, the Marstens, currently led by lady Shalyn Marsten. This is the major trading hub in Farholde.
9. Newchurch - The neighborhood takes its name from the structure that dominates the hilltop, a beautiful church dedicated to Mitra. The construction was ordered by King Markadian during his visit here. Most of the temple staff have gone off to war with Lord Argus and his troops.
10. Drownington - A shanty town for local poors that sits below the highwater line. It is difficult for the city guard to get there so they largely ignore it, making a great place for criminals to hideout and vice to flourish.
11. Lord Drownington’s Manor -

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There is only one permanent structure in Drownington built on a slab of rock that is mostly above the flood line (by almost four inches!). There stands a stout stone bunker that has barely survived a hundred floods. A crudely made sign in front reads Lord Drownington’s Manor. Equal parts bar, brothel, fight club, black market and thieves’ guild, this is without a doubt the most dangerous place in Farholde.
This is the domain of a large, angry, profane, scar covered man, Rubal Thraam (CN Human Fighter 4/Rogue 2); he stabbified the previous owner and now runs the dirtiest place in town.
12. Wrecker Isle - A pile of stones and debris rising out of Lake Scardynn; the locals consider nothing more than a navigational hazard. Buried below it is the ancient barrow of a powerful Iraen druid. The restless spirit is the source of the occasional sea gigantic sea creatures that infest the lake. If the PCs stumble upon the tomb dealing with the spirit is a possible side quest.
13. Westell - Separate from the city of Farholde this is a small rural community. Beyond and to the south is fertile farmland, most of which is owned by Baron Vandermir. These farms supply much of Farholde’s food.
14. Corgan’s Landing - The cities main wharf a massive stone pier juts out into the lake. It contains numerous storehouse and business offices. The Harbormaster also keeps watch here, enforcing the king's law and collecting his taxes.


ALTERNATE CAMPAIGN OPTIONS
We get some options for less traditional groups and how that would affect the course of the campaign.

The Last Cult - All the PCs are Clerics, the last remaining faithful of the cult of Asmodeus. Multiclassing is restricted, PCs cannot take more levels in a non-Cleric classes than they have Cleric levels. We’re all familiar with the power divide between casters and martials in PF at this point so it’s not a difficult change to make.

The Blackfire Tribe - Goblins! Pathfinder loves it’s goblins and this option has the whole party as a misfit tribe of LE gobbos. The PCs are the last surviving members of a tribe that worships Asmodeus; it’s a chance to play out a David vs Goliath story, if David was green and 30% teeth by volume. Could be a fun option if your players are already invested in Pathfinder’s goblin stories, also a chance for 3 goblins in a trenchcoat to impersonate a guard.

The Knights of Nessus - The No Casters Allowed option. Players can choose from any martial class without spells and in addition cannot multiclass or take any prestige class that would give them spells or spell like abilities. The book recognizes you’ll need to make significant changes to the AP for this to work. To me it seems like an exercise in frustration, the GM would need to pile on healing potions, wands and a ridiculous number of other magic items for the PCs to deal with some of the encounters in this AP; good luck fighting a phoenix or a lich with no casters.

The College of Thorns - Decades ago Talingarde was home to one of the world’s greatest colleges of wizardry. With the rise of House Darius and the Church of Mitra the college was destroyed along with many of it’s members in a pogrom against arcane magic. The school went underground and the PCs are its last surviving students; each will play a specialist wizard. Henchmen will be much more valuable to serve as meat shields for the PCs before they go quadratic. This is a different exercise in frustration bordering on masochism for any GM, I’m getting indigestion again at the thought of an all wizard party.

The Infernal Thain - Centuries ago this island was home to a mighty dwarven kingdom, then came the Talireans. The human invaders conquered the island, destroying the dwarven cities one by one. Modern dwarves found in kingdom are those that knelt to the humans and betrayed their kind. Now only a few remain of this ancient and noble line, filled with bitterness and a thirst for vengeance they have been transformed from ordinary dwarves into Duergar. In this scenario all the PCs are duergar, and Cardinal Thorn is a duergar lich. A new feat is included to negate their sunlight weakness with a suggestion to give it to all PCs as a bonus feat. Evil dwarves is not territory we’ve seen explored before so this is an interesting option.

NEXT TIME: Encounter at Farholde Station

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E
GURPS Zombieland, USA

PART 3 – TOWN DEFENSE



Man, this town is weirdly square in BOTH settings.

In Autoduel, the worst parts of the biker-gang-pocalypse are long over, but there are still bandits, cycle gangs, and other assorted ne’er-do-wells roaming the nation and every town needs some kind of defense plan. The Town Council of Black Lake dedicates a full 4/5 of its budget to that task, primarily using it to outfit the Lakers, the town militia. A few pages of this chapter are dedicated to physical defenses of various kinds which I’ll largely skip. However! You know how I said the seniors had an artillery battery? Turns out I lied, it’s just a tank gun-equivalent made from spare parts mounted in the senior center’s tower. Still, they’ve got the land around town plotted out, have a spotter’s nest secretly positioned somewhere in the nearby mountains, and enough ammunition, operators, and training to greet unwelcome visitors with a tank shell to the teeth. Other than that it’s a mix of two drawbridges, a big ol’ ditch, and some gun emplacements.

The Lakers are actually pretty well organized, coordinated through the Sheriff’s office and divided into several squads. Hilariously, their backbone is three dozen arthritic old people, Kiley’s Senior Citizens’ Heavy Weapons Club. About 10 of them are on duty at any given time – the rest are sleeping, relaxing, or sick – and they man both the tank gun and a couple recoilless rifle positions. Then comes the foot soldiers: the scouts, who patrol the surroundings, gather information, and carry out raids on raiders; three infantry squads, one managing each drawbridge and another (associated with the Church of Purity) kept in reserve; a medical team run by the town doctor; and the irregulars, i.e. anyone capable of pointing a gun out their windows at intruders. Also there’s the AADA, the club that all the town’s Autoduelists belong to. Despite the name, these folks mostly avoid dueling in favor of target practice and nonlethal matches. The club’s membership is entirely NPCs described in sidebars, including my man the town dentist.

:allears: I love this guy so much

Next is a bunch of details on militia organization and planning I’ll cover if they come up in the adventure. Most important thing here is procedures for visitors; they enter through the southern drawbridge, get grilled by Sheriff Muldoon, and either enter without further harassment or get kicked out. Preparedness! Link emphasizes both the militia’s solid training and its inexperience. The only time they’ve had to face action was years ago: a bike gang slipped past Black Lake’s warning system but stumbled into the town defenses, the militia recovered from their surprise first and annihilated them. Since then they’ve never had to face anything worse then small raids on nearby farmsteads and the occasional rowdy visitor.

:siren: WARNING: THE REST OF THIS REVIEW WILL CONSIST OF SPOILERS! I’M NOT GOING TO BOTHER CENSORING A 30-YEAR-OLD ADVENTURE SO DON’T READ ANY FUTURE POSTS IF YOU CARE! :siren:

Zombie rules! A couple paragraphs of description on how Autoduel Americans might respond differently to zombies. Since I haven’t read the adventure yet, I’m not entirely sure how to interpret them thanks to their copious references to plot points. Still, three points emerge: violence is more common and accepted in general; second, the plot emphasizes using more subtle means than blowing poo poo up with mounted weapons to solve the scenario’s problems; and the adventure’s villain is some guy named Nash and his dastardly plot has something to do with clones. Organization!

A short section today; the whole chapter is like five pages long. Congratulations! We’re almost halfway through the book!

Next time: the actual adventure!

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Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


THE DREAMLANDS EXPRESS – PART 5

There's no order of events presented here. The dreamers are free to pursue their investigation however they think is best. There's a very comprehensive section detailing all possible pieces of evidence and avenues of questioning that should satisfy your players. Here's what they can find.

The Dreamer's Compartment
Spot Hidden reveals claw marks outside the dreamer's window and indeed all windows on their carriage, as if someone or something has climbed along the outside of the train.

Cat Compartment
Most of the cats return here after the murder, but others stalk up and down the train with flat ears and twitching tails. A small posse follows the dreamers and will actually help them by smelling evidence and contributing their observations (via Henri interpreting for them). Sophie is far too upset to talk to the dreamers.

Karakov's Compartment
Karakov keeps a cutlass under his divan for protection. It's likely to be covered in blood when the dreamers find it. The cats confirm that it's not cat blood, but they also don't know what kind of blood it is.

If they haven't already, dreamers will notice Karakov's wounded hand, which he claims to have cut at lunch. However, Psychology reveals he's nervous about something, and both Henri and Mac say they did not see Karakov get cut. He changes his story if pressed, claiming that he was frightened by a noise in the dining car and ran back to his compartment to arm himself; he grabbed his cutlass by the blade instead of the handle. He insists that he heard cannon-fire, but of course no one else did.

Bruja's Compartment
Dreamers will hear weeping when they come to Madame Bruja's door – a surprise considering her perfect composure at all other times. She was alone in her compartment when the incident occurred, as is usual for her between mealtimes.

She blames her 'her enemy' for the murder, and states that even if he's not on the train he has probably sent an emissary; one of the other passengers is not who they claim to be. It's possible that the dreamers have by now discovered her story in the Waking World and will want to ask her about it, but more on that later.

Mironim-Mer's Compartment
Spot Hidden notices one of the rugs here is rumpled, but if he's allowed to be present during the search Mironim stands on the rug to hide this. Pulling it back reveals the hide of the trainbeast underneath has been cleaned recently. Another Spot Hidden finds an overlooked blood spot that the cats will confirm is cat blood, though Mironim claims it's the result of a shaving accident.

Mironim-Mer was in his compartment at the time of the incident. He confesses that the Sarnathians have been making him uncomfortable, trying to get access to his stash of wine and pressuring him about the return of the lemon sails. Something strange happens when the dreamers try to use Psychology: one of them becomes certain he is lying, the other that he is telling the truth.

Mac's Compartment
As mentioned, Mac refutes Karakov's first story. There's nothing interesting in his compartment, aside from the fact that he's messily stuffed some of the more exotic furnishings into the wardrobe.

Zsusza's Compartment
Zsusza's compartment is covered in red stains that turn out to be lipstick and rouge. Dresses are flung about everywhere. This is probably when the dreamers will first notice her dream artefact.

Zsusza's as upset as anyone else about the death of Blackjack. In addition, she will tell any sympathetic dreamer her plan to get rid of her dream in the Gulf if she hasn't already. Fast Talk or Persuade will convince her not to, as there is at least one other person who believes in her.

The Padded Compartment
The Padded Compartment walls are covered in rusty brown stains. You don't want to know. The cats can't come to a consensus about it, but they think it's probably beetroot.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, the Beings of Ib think the Sarnathians are the most likely culprit. The Sarnathians are child-murderers who once drove the Beings into a lake at spearpoint, did you know? The Being of Ib who was stuck outside the dreamer's compartment says that they didn't see anybody enter or leave aside from the dreamer.

If the Madman was allowed aboard, he's Henri's first suspect. His babbling is indecipherable, though he mentions a cat conspiracy at one point. Mechanical Repair confirms that the restraints on him are in good condition, so it's unlikely that he could have slipped away.

The Sarnathian Compartment
The Sarnathians refuse to let anyone but Henri and their chosen dreamer into the compartments, where they've taken advantage of the sliding walls to join theirs into one big room. They've arranged their divans in a circle so they can lounge around feeding each other grapes. There's nothing suspicious about their compartment (the book doesn't say if there's knitting needles, Bieeardo).

The Sarnathians blame the Beings. The Being are horrid. The Beings are nasty. They're so disgusting they would do anything to anyone. They're the only creatures on the train that have claws. And anyway, the Sarnathians never killed any children, it was probably the Beings who did it to themselves. And on, and on. The Beings do have claws, but they're more like thin needles than whatever wounded Blackjack.

So, I'll turn this over to you guys now. Let's have a vote. Who's the murderer?

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