Monday, March 22, 2010

Seattle Campaign 2.3: The Wraith Remains

3/14/10 Trouble at Maskhigh

--experience awarded
--from the Stone of Thanuran, the party members gain +30 XP; they are also "cursed" by the Stone's remaining corruption
--many characters are ready for their median tests
--the party is unconscious from the Ritual of Cleansing and Dividing for almost three days; they wake the tower of Loxias; Ti'anti tells them what happened after the ritual; they eventually return to Loxian and are put up in The Adventurine Inn
--every party member remembers strange dreams; they feel as if they are full of energy that ebbs and flows; they feel on edge some of the time; they feel like they have memories not their own; their dreams are troubled; the power of the Stone heightens some of their darker or more troubled thoughts and desires
--their thoughts are also tinged by the geas that binds them to Loxias: "You must liege to Loxias, protect the Realm's interests, and honor the Sovereign Temples for a year and a day"
--Lord Mayor Loxias meets with the party; he looks much stronger, much better
--he tells them that the ritual was mostly successful; he says that the power from the Stone will take some time to become "integrated;" he says that whatever they do, whatever actions they take, whatever thoughts they think can affect how the power settles; Loxias says that the party must give the power purpose
--Loxias says that their first task will be to track down the wraith fragment that escaped from the Stone
--Loxias provides the party with a small sphere of smokey quartz that can sense the direction/presence of the wraith (since its power is connected to the Stone's power); it seems that the party also can be detected; they are touched with a little bit of "undeath"
--Ti'anti provides the party with further resources: everyone receives a magical weapon (which will be useful for battling the wraith); Tirdim receives new magical formulae
--the wraith has moved southeast of Loxian; heading perhaps down the river toward the coast; the wraith will need to take life in order to grow stronger
--the party travels down the Masked River; they stop first in Maskhigh, a small village a day's ride from Loxian
--in Maskhigh, they try to find any sign of the wraith
--the next morning, while performing devotionals, Telisa and Wren are approached by the village elders who say a local woodsman Venny is having trouble with his father-in-law Taubin; Taubin is aged and infirm; Venny says that he has locked himself in his room and refuses to come out; Venny and Taubin do not like each other; Taubin seems to be a bit of a mean fellow; Venny asks for the village healer Litra's help and Litra asks Telisa and Wren to check on the old man
--Telisa and Wren tell the rest of the party; the situation may not be related to the wraith, but the priests decide it was important to check anyway
--Telisa, Wren, Tirdim, and Galen go ahead to Venny's farm; Lanthorn and Riseif wait behind
--the initial party arrive at the homestead to discover Venny dead, throat cut from behind, dead in the main living area of the house; they find the old man Taubin holed up in a wardrobe in his bedroom; Taubin is covered in blood and he seems to have killed his own son-in-law; he also seems to have drank Venny's blood; Taubin seems mad
--the party calls for Lanthorn and Riseif
--the old man Taubin is possessed by the wraith; Tirdim tries to hold the wraith in a summoner's circle; the wraith tries to possess Tirdim but fails; the wraith tries to provoke the party and Tirdim puts the old man to sleep
--the wraith raises the corpse of Venny; the party dispatches the zombie quickly
--the old man seems to freak out and Galen crosses the summoner's circle and stabs the old man
--the wraith escapes
--Tirdim uses one of Burnbeard's potions of resuscitation to bring back the old man
--they move the bodies outside and think about how to get the wraith, who is hiding somewhere in or under the house; they consider burning the house down
--a cat under the house caterwauls; the party circles the house to find the cat thinking the wraith might be possessing the cat; they open the crawlspace under the house and a mangy cat rushes out; Riseif kills the cat but there is no sign of the wraith
--realizing they have left the bodies alone, they return to the front of the house to discover that both bodies have been reanimated and moved off in different directions
--the party splits to chase down each body; the body of Venny (already broken) is dispatched again; the body of the old man is possessed by the wraith; the party stops the wraith but the wraith escapes into the shadows of the trees; Taubin is dead
--the party tells the village elders and plan to pursue the wraith further down river

4/4/10 Wildin of Masden

--the adventurers assuage the village of Maskhigh as best as possible before leaving
--they follow the wraith using the wraith stone to the southeast along the Masked River, ostensibly heading toward Middern, a small town halfway between Loxian and the coastal city of Floodern
--travel is slowed and miserable as the weather turns ugly and winter rains soak the land
--less than a day out of Middern, the wraith's path turns away from the road and heads east of the river; nothing on the map shows any noteworthy settlements (though there are always small camps and homesteads); something must have turned the wraith's attention
--the adventurers follow into wetter, muddier, wilder territory
--Telisa and Wren, during morning devotionals, receive visions from their gods; they sense the presence of the wraith in the forest east of the river and the presence is getting stronger; they both are given messages that their faith will soon be tested
--late in the day on the second day turning from the main road, the party comes upon a deserted village; the village, more like a dozen or so houses built together, is completely empty of people, though there is no sign that they packed up and left; the village seems recently abandoned
--in one house, the party discovers signs of a fight and blood stains; the house belonged to a family--two parents--and a boy named "Wildin"
--Tirdim uses psychometry to learn some things about the boy; he is still alive somewhere
--the party beds down in one of the larger houses
--in the middle of the night, the first watch hears someone running through the rain soaked street; Telisa and Galen follow; they stumble upon two corpses buried in the mud between two houses; the corpses look like they have been drained of blood and life; they dispose of the bodies (chop them up)
--there is sign that whoever is moving about is the boy, perhaps possessed by the wraith
--in the morning, they find a body left sitting, looking to the north east (the direction of where the wraith's presence is), in the middle of the road outside of the party's house; the body is also drained and unnaturally aged; the group takes it as an invitation
--on their way to the northeast, they come upon another body, this time of a woman, hung up in a tree by her toes; the wraith is playing with the group
--the party discovers a cave; Lanthorn and Riseif are both claustrophobic but manage to will themselves inside; in the cave they discover eight people, tied up, unconscious, who look like they have been bitten and bled, as if something was feeding off of their blood
--why would the wraith need to drink blood? why wouldn't it just absorb the people's life force? why the "moves" of vampirism?
--the wake one of the people, a woman named Oret, who is frightened and confused; she reveals (after some fumbled conversation rolls) that the boy Wildin was a wilding, a child that grew up in the wilderness, perhaps raised by darklings; the boy was adopted by a couple in the village; but the boy tended to the cruel and "feral"
--the party surmises, perhaps, that Wildin had some spark of darkness/evil that drew the attention of the wraith
--the wraith remains out of sight, reach; Telisa thinks she sees a young boy in the distance
--the wraith sets fire to one of the village houses, perhaps killing more villagers trapped inside or burning bodies; again the wraith seems to be toying with the group
--eventually, the wraith sets off away from the village and heads toward Middern
--the party leaves the remaining villagers to fend for themselves
--they ride hard to arrive in Middern; the town is small but there is an inn and a working dock and local guard; they find rooms as the Inn of the White Wall; they warn the local elders of a "infectious" boy; Riseif talks to the local blacksmith and makes some silver holy symbols for the party
--there is some discussion about why the wraith has taken over the boy's body
--the presense of the wraith does not enter the town but remains somewhere north, where there are homesteads and farms, away from the bustle of Middern; the party decides to head north to try to track it down

4/11/10 Aquellon the Waterwise

--the party investigates the village of Middern; they investigate the inn, the town, and they tell the village Elders about a "diseased" child on the run
--in the middle of the night, Tirdim is woken from sleep sensing the voice being used far in the distnace, enough magic that seems like a magical combat
--the party gears up and rides to the north of the village; they come upon a small farm and house; the land around the house is set with pools for growing water plants; when the party arrives, they find the house and the immediate ground completely frozen, covered by frost and thick ice--ice that is pale blue-white and glows slightly
--the house is guarded by water elementals that look like rushing columns of water; any time someone approaches the house or attempts to enter the house, the elementals attack
--the house is surrounded by incredible cold; they eventually crack through the ice on a window, break into the house; inside the house everything is covered in glowing frost; inside they also find an old man completely encased by the same blue-white ice; it seems the old man is a mage and the frost was a spontaneous, last-ditch effort
--the party is attacked by ice elementals; shattering ice from around the room form into spider-like icy golems; they defeat the ice golems
--the wraithstone senses the presence of the wraith centered on the old man in the ice; the party thinks the wraith might be trapped inside the old man
--the party discuss what to do about the old man; Tirdim touches the mind of the frozen mage and senses only rage, paranoia, fear; meanwhile, something tries to influence some in the party (particularly Wren) to free the mage
--the party decides to wait till morning; in the morning, the magical ice melts, evaporating; the mage is freed and is completely enraged; Tirdim manages to put the mage to sleep; they move the mage to the bed
--suddenly, the wraith (in the body of the young Wildin) appears outside of the house; the wraith enters the house and attacks the mage, drinking deeply of the mage's blood; the party attacks the wraith; the wraith summons a sphere; Telisa dispells the sphere and the party attacks the wraith again but not before the wraith completely drains the mage; the wraith then phases through the floor and escapes
--the wraith tells the party that he has now gained enough power to evade them and soon will be powerful enough to come back for them:
"I am no longer spirit and hate, I am spirit made flesh
I am no longer flesh and weakness, I am blood and hunger
I am no longer alone and longing, I am greater and stronger
I am no longer afraid and small, I am murder and fear itself."
--the wraithstone no longer can sense the presence of the wraith
--the party discovers the old man is a mage named Aquellon Sirn or Aquellon the Waterwise; they uncover money, a number of potions, two magic items (rod of hydromancy and letter opener of erase page), Aquellon's research and spellbook
--they decide to return to Loxian

Seattle Campaign 2.2: The Ritual of Cleansing and Dividing

--when the party returns to Loxian, they are sent for by Lord Mayor Loxias; Loxias tells them that the ritual is nearly ready for them; the Ritual of Cleansing and Dividing will work on a simple principal: the party will be protected by magics to keep evil from touching them, from infecting them
--the party tells Loxias that they wish him to have a portion of the Stone's power
--Loxias says that the ritual will be set up at his former tower, which is a day or so ride from town in the wilderness; Loxias wants to make sure that if the ritual goes awry, the town is not threatened; also, the tower still retains some magical protections useful to the rite
--Loxias prepares the Stone to be transported by the party to the tower; he does not want to teleport the Stone for fear that the magic of the Stone will cause the spell to fail or become unstable; also, his strength has not fully returned and he fears that he will not be able to transport the Stone magically
--the party will carry the Stone in a prepared iron box, which has been enchanted to be much heavier than normal; with the use of magical bracelets, the box can be picked up with relative ease
--the adventurers take the Stone and ride to the tower; on the way, the evening of the first day of travel, they come up on a small camp; in the camp there are four priests of Day, who are waiting for the party
--the four priests are: Lentin of Rune (who contacted them earlier from Cavalon), Tholand of Valadarin, Danyara of Irriste, and Callair of Vessa Lune
--the four priests of Day are an envoy from the Sovereign of Temples of Cavalon; they were sent to beseech the party for the Stone; through divinations they knew that the Stone would be on the move; they wanted to "achieve" the Stone while it is out of the hands of Loxias
--the parties exchange words; the adventuring party is reluctant (even offended and angry); the envoy are haughty and demanding; they explain that divinations reveal that the Stone is extremely dangerous if it remains in the hands of Loxias; however the envoy from Cavalon disagrees with the rulings from the Sovereign Temples at Grand Takare
--Telisa invokes turn animal to scare the horses away; the horse carrying the iron box with the Stone runs off; the box falls off in the middle of the woods
--Tholand Valadarin goes after the stone only to discover the enchantment on the box
--Telisa messages Ti'anti that the box is in danger; Loxias magically summons the box away
--the envoy from Cavalon is extremely angry, but now that the Stone is once again in Loxias's hands, they have no recourse except to leave; all of the priests magically return to Cavalon; Lentin remains behind in an attempt to try diplomacy
--unfortunately, the party is attacked; Lentin is shot in the chest with an arrow; a combat ensues
--a priest of Iirago named Joven, a comrade of Rissa, and companions attack the party; the party fights Joven, two giant darklings, a rogue named Lamm (invisible, met previously), and an archer
--the combat ends with many hurt, Lentin killed, most of the attackers dispatched, Joven escapes (called back by Rissa)
--the party uses one of Burnbeard's master potions to bring Lentin back to life; he is made comfortable as he recovers from revivification; the party camps with the sunstone out
--there is a clap of thunder in the distance, a clap of thunder that sounds like when the Stone was first removed from the Valley of Thanuran
--suddenly, they feel like something is calling them, summoning them; Loxias is magically attempting to bring them to him; they give into the magic of the summoning (leaving Lentin behind); they are brought directly into the Ritual of Cleansing and Dividing
--the ritual seems to be hastily wrought; they stand in a circle around the Stone; magical protections are laid upon the party; Loxias breaks the Stone; the power is split among the seven; a sinister wraith-like presence leaves the Stone; Loxias forbids the wraith from tainting the ritual; the wraith escapes
--the party feels the power rush into them and black out

Seattle Campaign 2.1: Rissa Retreats (Scene 1)

{SCENE: a cave or rough underground chamber, like a dungeon. The walls are hewn but unfinished stone, the floor is tamped dirt strewn with gravel. Torches set into brackets hastily hung from the walls light the room in a flickering, shadowy light. The smell of burning cloth, wood, and oil is heavy in the air. A woman, dressed in fitted leather and brigandine, paces in the room. Rissa, as she has taken to call herself these days, seems worried or impatient. A single opening is the only entrance into the room, which is exactly five strides across. She takes her measured strides and glances at the doorway. There are no furnishings in the room.}

RISSA: (irritated) What is keeping her?

{The sound of footsteps can be heard in the tunnel beyond. A younger woman, in her early twenties with braided dark blonde hair and Takaran features, hurries into the room carrying a basket. Behind her, two others follow at a more measured pace. A man, tall and burly, dressed in a mixture of chain and plate. He wears no helm and his face is tanned, scarred, and cruel. The other is a shorter, frailer man, clearly Feth, with prematurely graying hair, narrow face, and curiously large, dark eyes.}

YOUNG WOMAN: (curtsying) I have brought what you requested, Rissa Ittar.

RISSA: I can see that, Alorna. Set them down.

{Alorna, who wears an aspirant’s symbol to Ittar, sets the basket down. From the basket, she spreads a small blanket on the floor and begins to unpack and lay out various items—clothes, a small wooden box, items of healingcraft, brush and mirror. Rissa watches the process with a critical eye and then looks up to the others entering the chamber.}

LARGE MAN: (nodding) Rissa Ittar. Good to see you back…so soon. Where are the others?

RISSA: (nodding) Joven Iirago. (firmly) Dead.

FETH MAN: What? Abraxal Rul?

RISSA: The lord demon and Loxias battled. I do not know what has become of them. The so-called heroes of Burnbeard sided with the lich.

JOVEN: I see you survived.

RISSA: (defiantly) There was no more to be done. They felled both of Abraxal’s guard, the giant darkling, and the necromancer.

FETH MAN: A pity. It took quite a bit of magic to re-empower the corpse.

JOVEN: So, you fled?

RISSA: I do not make it a habit to come between a master mage and a demon lord.

{Rissa begins to slowly, calmly, without any shame, undress. Alorna helps the Priestess of Ittar with her armor. The two men seem surprised. Joven lewdly watches. The Feth man turns away.}

JOVEN: (seeing the Feth man’s expression) I think you have worked too long with your corpses, Mhitai…


RISSA: At least one of you has some manners.

JOVEN: (laughing) Propriety from a priestess of whores.

RISSA: (fiercely) You will learn to hold your tongue… (drawing a dagger) or I will hold it for you.

JOVEN: (laughing again) You may hold whatever you like…

MHITAI: It is unwise to provoke a woman…

JOVEN: There is no better way than to poke and prod…

RISSA: (icily) Enough. (finishing dressing) I have more pressing matters than unmanning you, Joven. The box, Alorna.

ALORNA: (picking up the small wooden box) Yes, mistress.

RISSA: (taking the box and opening it, revealing a crystalline sphere of fiery quartz) Abraxal’s sphere is unbroken. It means he is still alive, somewhere.

MHITAI: Can you contact him?

RISSA: I will try. (touching the sphere three times, intoning) Once to hear. Once to see. Once to be seen and heard. Lord Abraxal, I call you. Abraxal Rul, my lord.

{The sphere shimmers for a moment. A voice, deep and gravelly, speaks from the crystal.}

ABRAXAL: (wearily) I hear you, Ittar.

RISSA: By the Lady, what happened?

ABRAXAL: (anger rising) The lord fool fought well. Though he summoned the aid of the gods to his cause. How did he come by a Seal? I am trapped now. Trapped until freed. But he, too, suffered at my hands…

RISSA: What do you wish of us?

ABRAXAL: Mhitai will prepare a summoning.

RISSA: Your will will be done, my lord.

MHITAI: (worried) I do not know if I can break the power of Loxias.

JOVEN: If the demon lord commands it, you will try and succeed or you will fail and die.

MHITAI: It… It is not that easy! If the Lord Mayor possesses a Seal, an artifact of the Age of Power, then he has trapped Abraxal Rul with the equivalent of knowing the lord demon’s True Name. I cannot break such a power.

RISSA: Lord Abraxal, Mhitai expresses concern about his abilities to… (she pauses for a moment as if listening to something the others cannot hear) Your will be done, my lord.

ABRAXAL: Prepare the ritual in the chamber of return.

RISSA: Mhitai, prepare what you need. Joven, Alorna, you are to leave at once. Joven, you are to prevent anyone from entering this chamber till Lord Abraxal has been summoned.

ALORNA: Yes, mistress.

JOVEN: As you please, Ittar. But perhaps I should stay to assist. My god knows the ways of summoning as well.

RISSA: Lord Abraxal commands that only myself and Mhitai may be present during the summoning.

JOVEN: (suspiciously) Very well.

{Alorna quickly gathers up the belongings on the floor. Both Joven and Alorna leave.}

MHITAI: (to himself) This is impossible…

RISSA: No, it is not. Abraxal Rul has revealed to me how it will be done.

MHITAI: I cannot undo the magic of a Seal.

ABRAXAL: Give the sphere to Mhitai. He will hear my thoughts. He will know how to summon me.

MHITAI: (incredulously) How?

ABRAXAL: I will tell you my True Name.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tellings Revision: Critical Damage/Increased Damage Skill

Here's a game philosophy question: What does an extra damage, critical damage, increased damage skill mean?

More accurately, what are the game mechanics justifications for such skills? One fo the central issues that the Tellings revision faces is to push what seems to be proprietary to Tellings and to soften, retool, or remove mechanics reminiscent of other game systems. The whole mechanic of doing extra damage or critical damage is common to many games, of course. It is a perk, a special effect, a game changer. For example, backstab in most games is about striking an opponent from behind, from surprise, ignoring most defenses, and inflicting double or more damage. This makes sense for games like D&D when a character's wound level is measured (generally) by how many hit points they have. Therefore, an attack that does a lot of HP damage is a "big deal" and can be overlaid with additional rules about incapacitation.

However, for Tellings, this kind of thing is covered by hit location, Trauma Point, and Trauma% rolls. In other words, the measure of whether a strike is a "big deal" or not is different than a big hit to a HP pool. In fact, most Tellings characters never really gain additional BODYpts. Wounds and critical wounds work differently.

Therefore, does it make sense to have skills like Killing Strike, Charge, or Crushing Blow (which can do up to 4 x damage)? Wouldn't buying Weapon Skill Levels: Damage and increasing Attack Score to make called shots more effective fit the game philosophy more? Or is there a place for some critical damage skills modified and tailored for the Tellings system of damage?

Would something like changing Find Weakness to allow the character to change their weapon/attack damage to PEN damage make more sense?