The Age of Worms, Sessions 5-7

I joined this game a few sessions in, right before the party were to make their second foray into a temple/tomb created by some race the others had discovered were called the Wind Dukes. There, we surveyed the place, seemingly avoiding the worst the place had to offer, until we came upon a great pillar of air and its guardians, beings seemingly made entirely of hard air, which quickly cut down my character, but were defeated thanks to the help of the party's patron and summoned hippogriffs.

After a retreat to recover, the group again delved the temple/tomb, this time with a new member and the full complement of party members. This time, we were more successful and were able to discover a tomb that held a few magic items and the interred remains of what we assumed to be a Wind Duke.

Returning to our patron and gaining information about the items recovered and about the goings-on in the town, which I am still a little unclear on, having joined the group last of everyone playing, we then decided to uncover what was going on at the local mines(?)!

Devising a plan of attack and going in, we as the party, plus our wizardly necromantic patron and his pet owlbear zombie, without too much of a hitch, we finally reached the bottom of the mines, down an elevator, only to be ambushed by Tieflings and a large group of skeletons.

Dispatching them after a pitched battle, we moved on into the complex and came across more resistance, which cut down Corwyn when he was overwhelmed after the Halfling went to chase a possible escapee, which was cut down quickly, along with the group that took out the Cleric of the Laughing God. Another small group was found and slain as well before the group took camp within the compound, then pressed on to find a dire boar in a large chamber in the complex, which was taken out with no casualties by smart thinking of the group.

Cast of Characters
Corwyn Brand, Human Cleric of Olidammara 1/Rogue 1 (Deceased) - Me
Itsok Bluecloak, Dwarf Cleric of Dugmaren Brightmantle 2 (Deceased) - Me
Mullins, Gnome Rogue 1/Wizard 2 - Paul
Rosebud, Gnome ?? ?? - Tina
Able Nightengale, Human Healer 2 - David
Bade, Halfling Fighter 3 - Taylor
Xan, Maenad Duskblade 3 - Andrew

As you can tell from how short this post is, and from the "Cast of Characters" part, I have a big disconnect from this game. It's not that Angela is doing a bad job, it's just, I think, the fact that I've had a bad run of characters lately, and I probably will be more into it than I have been once I have a character that has more investment in the party and actually knows what's going on. I, as a player, of course know, but I valuate my character's usefulness on how much they can actually contribute to the party.
I really like how all the characters are portrayed, and how well alignment and each character's personal views and goals are brought to light, such as Taylor's (almost Chaotic) Neutrality, and David's Healer's avoidance of causing harm to any creature. The game is fun, the group is fun...now all I need is to keep one of my guys alive.

Edit: Inserted missing character information in the Cast part, but shame on me for not originanally remembering my own character's name, though he did die the first session I played of the game.

Curse of the Crimson Throne, Sessions 5 - 7

With a few of the Crown's agents now dead (The Magpie and Jasper,) the party decided to regroup, meeting at a tavern where a couple more barbarians from the northlands had come to relax. One, a tribal shaman that had been convinced to pursue study at the Academae to better serve his tribe, and the other a shaman harnessing the powers of nature, itself. Both greeted Shao Goth in the proper manner of their peoples (except the woman was trying to mate with everyone) and began talks of working together for coin and other gains.

Before too long, another personage, also seemingly of the barbarian tribes, but an elf, was brought in on the talks, and it was agreed that the three barbarians would help Shao Goth in his missions to aid the Crown and help restore order to Korvosa. Upon arriving at Citadel Volshyanek, however, nobody with any authority had time to meet with us, for which we were to gain more employment opportunities, so we did the next best thing, (after a certain messenger crawled into some windows,) we went to see the King of Spiders!

Once in meeting with him, he explained to us that if we were to do a small favor for him, he would reward us greatly for the service. A ship carrying some recently acquired cargo of his was behind schedule, and believed wrecked somewhere along the coast. To add to the frustration for our patron, he had already sent a crew to retrieve the ship and/or its cargo, but had yet to hear from them, either.

Needing the work (and money!), Shao Goth gathered us and went down the coast on a chartered skiff. A day or so into the voyage, into the night, we came upon the wreck, as expected, though no sign of the Spider King's skiff was found, though another craft was moored against the larger ship that carried the cargo. We hailed the boat and made our intentions to come aboard known, then were met with three faces over the deck railing, all of elves, save with skin the color of coal.

Some banter between the two groups ended in both calling the other pirates, and then a crossbow bolt was fired, sparking combat, giving the dark elves the advantage of higher ground and cover, as we had yet to gain purchase on the deck of the larger ship. Shao Goth climbed up swiftly, but everyone else sputtered about a bit in the water on the way to the boat while he cleaved down our foes. Once they were dispatched, though, everyone was able to regroup on the target vessel, and a short exploration commenced, uncovering more of the dark-skinned elves, who also quickly fell to the party swiftly.

A further exploration brought us to the lower hold, where we came across a room with magical wards, into which the druid stepped, and I tried to haul him out before he got hurt, just to be bitten by the phase spider lurking within, myself. The poison of the creature overtook our young mage, and no efforts of the group were able to stave off his death. (Notice how bad things happen to me in holds?) This was a bittersweet ordeal, as the group was able to skeleton crew the ship into Korvosa, uniting the King of Spiders and his cargo, and being rewarded handsomely with the cache of valuable items The Magpie had on her body when she died.

After this mission, and a period of rest and restocking, when en route to Citadel Volshyanek, the party was surprised when a vile creature (an otyugh!) burst from the sewers, waving barbed tentacles and gnashing with its hideous maw. In their endeavor to restore peace to the city, they leapt into action, along with an unknown bystander, to put an end to this thing. The battle was quick, but dangerous, and in the aftermath, Shao Goth offered the bystander, a former Honor Guard of King Eodred, a place within his company, which the warrior accepted, having no place in the current regime.

An entertaining drunkard was met a short while after this, and upon resting a day, the group headed the to Citadel and were contracted with bringing to justice one Trinia Sabor, whom the Crown suspects of the recent regicide of King Eodred II. Simas suspected this was to quell the rising prominence of rumors that the Queen had something to do with the King's death, but kept his mouth shut for safety's sake. Regardless, if this proved to be true, the girl, an artist that had painted the King's portrait not long before and knew the lay of the castle somewhat, needed to be brought to justice for her crimes.

Her whereabouts were well known and upon finding her, a thrilling rooftop chase commenced, with Shao Goth managing to snatch the girl up right before she was able to shake the group. Gildor, perhaps being afraid of heights, stuck to the street level, keeping the chase in view, and surpassing Simas, who had found a secret passage upon the roofs and was trying to map its course for future reference. *nods*

Trinia captured, we returned victoriously to Volshyanek, where we were met with praise of our patrons there, and from an emissary, later, of House Ornelos who had word from his master (The Headmaster of the Academae), that we excelled as hired specialists for certain discriminating jobs. The Headmaster offered us 10,000 gold coins to restore a familial manor to a livable condition, by exterminating certain "pests" from the property, which an ancestor of his did summoning rituals in long ago.

The place was, indeed infested, but with denizens of the lower planes. Vile creatures made of amorphous flesh, hounds seemingly from hell itself, and a manner of pestilential dwarf that managed to make Simas very ill, but had less of an effect on the others, thankfully. All of these beasts on the lower floors of the manor, we dispatched with haste, and are steeling ourselves before venturing upstairs to ensure we exorcise the place of otherworldly taint!

Cast of Characters
Shao Goth, Orc Barbarian 3 - David
Simas VanCaskerkin, Human Cavalier (Honor Guard) 2 - Me
Selene Adivina, Elf Witch 2 - Angela
Fanta, Half-Orc Druid (Urban Druid) 2 - Richard
Gildor, Human Fighter 1 - John
Zero, Human Bard 1 - Koree

The game is still going great, despite some heavy character deaths (2 me, 1 Richy), and doesn't seem to suffer from either missed sessions or alternating attendance from some of the group. Taylor has obviously read the adventure and has prepared well for running it, making it seem seamless, even when things may be glossed over or added.
Speaking of additions, those familiar with the printed adventure will note that the King of Spider's Cargo and the Headmaster's Manor are both side quests that Taylor added himself, to help the party's newer PCs catch up some on xp before sending us further into the adventure path. As stated before, these scenes are transitioned perfectly, and I have to give Taylor much due credit for putting the time and effort into these side quests.
That, and he gets bonus points for the Manor's map being the one from the original Resident Evil.

Edit: Remembered Koree and Richard's character names.


A Slight Facelift

It's very apparent that the layout of the blog has undergone a change. When I started the blog, I felt the brown had an antiquated look, and it seemed fairly classy, but the text column has always been super narrow, even when I fiddled with it in the settings.

I'm okay with light text on dark background, but I know some people have problems with it. At least I didn't go with a garish color on the whole body, or white. Too much contrast would be bad, too.

At any rate, I'm happy with it as it stands now. If you have any questions or concerns, I'd like to see feedback in the comments.

Revising The Duskblade For Pathfinder

Shortly after the conversion to Pathfinder for my first Wilderlands game, I started to think about all the classes being played, and realized that only Steve saw no changes, due to playing a non-core class.

A few months into the game, Paizo released the Magus in Ultimate Magic, but ultimately, Steve decided that while similar, he felt the Magus wasn't exactly what he wanted with Jadazh. While the power scale didn't shift dramatically, there was a slight creep for all the republished classes, and now we had a similar class to compete with, so I decided to see what we could do with the Duskblade, with our revisions informed by the Pathfinder Conversion Guide and revisions made by other players on forums, etc.

Steve and I had worked out a little bit of background for the class before, and I continued to expand that, creating more division between the two classes so that each would be an interesting choice for a character.

Fluff, however, isn't what draws most players.

The first obvious mechanical changes are hit die and skills, but the rest is quite a lot more fiddly. The spell list, for instance, was kept intact to preserve a level of oddity in the campaign, setting the Duskblade apart from other spellcasters with magic unknown to the larger world.

The class is presented in the format used for classes in Pathfinder RPG products. Here's what I have so far, which is subject to change:

Duskblade (Pathfinder Revision) 

Enigmatic and powerful, the duskblades combine the hardy discipline of expert martial artists with the raw fury of arcane might.
Originally the saviors of the goblinoid races, granted their abilities by foul gods to preserve and protect, to lead and to teach the goblins. Treated as both prophets and pariahs within goblinoid society, the magical powers they wield making them distrusted among society even as their martial prowess exalts them, each goblin gifted this way walks a line ill-defined in their present culture, when such gifted beings are seldom born.
Some say the gods are once again looking upon the goblinoids once again, as the number of exalted births is slowly starting to creep upward, however detractors are quick to point out that the race has little hope since some of the new duskblades aren't even goblinoid.
Regardless, the duskblade is almost a match for both a fighter or a wizard, and those gifted with their abilities are well suited to the adventuring life, and a welcome addition to any party.
 Role: A duskblade's path is one of personal preference, as a paragon of war among goblinkind, they are given much leeway in that society as to their actions. Most goblinoids will remain with their kind, serving as spiritual and martial teachers and as protectors of their tribes or clans.
Duskblades who are not goblinoids generally spend most of their time travelling, selling their abilities or trading them in their quest to attain more knowledge of their granted abilities and how to access the power within themselves.
 Alignment: Any.
 Hit Die: d10.

Class Skills 

The duskblade's class skills are Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Fly (Dex), Knowledge (all) (Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Stealth (Dex), Swim (Str).
 Skill Ranks per Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All the following are class features of the duskblade.
 Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A duskblades is proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with
all armor (heavy, light, and medium) and shields (excluding tower shields).
 Spells: A duskblade casts arcane spells drawn from the duskblade spell list presented below. He can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time. To learn or cast a spell, a duskblade must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a duskblade's spell is 10 + the spell level + the duskblade's Intelligence modifier.
Like other spellcasters, a duskblade can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given below. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Intelligence score (see Table 1-3, Core Rulebook).
Arcane Attunement (Sp): The duskblade can use the spell-like powers dancing lights, detect magic, flare, ghost sound, and read magic any number of times per day, as the Cantrips ability of a Sorceror. These spell-like powers do not count against his total of spells per day.
In addition, a duskblade may cast acid splash, disrupt undead, ray of frost, and touch of fatigue a combined total of 3 + Intelligence modifier times per day.
 Armored Mage (Ex): Normally, armor of any type interferes with an arcane spellcaster’s gestures, which can cause spells to fail if those spells have a somatic component. A duskblade’s limited focus and specialized training, however, allows him to avoid arcane spell failure so long as he sticks to light armor and light shields. This training does not extend to medium or heavy armors, nor to heavy shields. This ability does not apply to spells gained from a different spellcasting class.
At 7th level, the duskblade learn to use medium armor with no chance of arcane spell failure.
At 13th level, the duskblade learn to use a heavy shield with no chance of arcane spell failure.
At 19th level, the duskblade learn to use heavy armor with no chance of arcane spell failure.
 Eschew Materials: The duskblade gains Eschew Materials as a bonus feat at 1st level.
 Combat Casting: A duskblade gains Combat Casting as a bonus feat at 2nd level.
 Somatic Weaponry: At 2nd level, when wielding a weapon (or holding an item of comparable size) in one or both hands, Duskblades can use that item to trace the somatic component of a spell, rather than using their fingers. This allows them to cast spells with somatic components even while their hands are full or occupied, as long as at least one hand is holding an item of proper size.
  Arcane Channeling (Su): Beginning at 3rd level, the duskblade can use a standard action to cast any touch spell he knows and deliver the spell through his weapon with a melee attack. Casting a spell in this manner does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The spell must have a casting time of 1 standard action or less. If the melee attack is successful, the attack deals damage normally; then the effect of the spell is resolved.
At 11th level, the duskblade can cast any touch spell he knows as part of a full attack action, and the spell affects each target he hits in melee combat that round. Doing so discharges the spell at the end of the round, in the case of a touch spell that would otherwise last longer than 1 round.
 Spell Power (Ex): Starting at 3rd level, the duskblade can more easily overcome the spell resistance of any opponent he successfully injures with a melee attack. If he has injured an opponent with a melee attack, the duskblade gains a +1 bonus on his caster level check to overcome spell resistance for the remainder of the encounter. This bonus increases by +1 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter.
 Quick Cast: Beginning at 4th level, a duskblade can cast one spell each day as a swift action, so long as the casting time of the spell is 1 standard action or less. He can use this ability and additional time per day for every four levels beyond 4th (twice at 8th, three times at 12th, etc.)
 Arcane Bond (Su): At 5th level, this ability grants the duskblade the choice to either gain a familiar as if a wizard equal to his duskblade level, or choose a weapon and gain a benefit that is identical to the weapon option of the divine bond ability of the paladin, except the is not limited to the listed weapon abilities, although he is limited to the level-based plus allotment.
 Supernatural Spell (Su): Beginning at 10th level, the duskblade can choose to cast one of his spells as a supernatural effect once per day. A spell converted into a supernatural ability automatically bypasses spell resistance, does not provoke attacks of opportunities, requires no components, and has a Saving Throw DC of 10 + ½ the duskblade’s class level + his Intelligence modifier.
At 14th level, he can use Supernatural Spell twice a day. At 17th level he can use it 3 times a day. At 20th level he can use it 4 times a day.
 Supernatural Critical (Su): At 20th level, when the duskblade scores a successful critical hit while using his Channel Spell ability, he can choose to convert it into a Supernatural Spell as an immediate free action. This use of a Supernatural Spell does not count against his daily allotment of them from his Supernatural Spell ability. Alternatively, if the duskblade scores a successful critical hit while not using his Channel Spell ability, he can cast any spell he knows as an immediate action as long as the opponent he scored the critical hit against is targeted by the spell or within its area of effect; this spell is automatically considered a Supernatural Spell and does not count against the duskblade’s daily allotment of Supernatural Spells.

 The Duskblade

Attack   Fort      Ref       Will
Level    Bonus  Save     Save     Save     Special                                     1st    2nd    3rd    4th    5th
1st         +1        +2        +0        +2        Arcane attunement,                         2
                                                            armored mage (light),
                                                            Eschew Materials
2nd        +2       +3        +0        +3        Combat Casting,                              3
                                                            Somatic weaponry
3rd         +3        +3        +1        +3        Arcane channeling,                         4
                                                            Spell power +1
4th         +4        +4        +1        +4        Quick cast 1/day                            5
5th         +5        +4        +1        +4        Arcane Bond                                  5     2
6th         +6        +5        +2        +5        Spell Power +2                               6     3
7th         +7        +5        +2        +5        Armored mage (medium)                 6     5
8th         +8        +6        +2        +5        Quick cast 2/day                            7     6
9th         +9        +6        +3        +6        Spell power +3                               7     6
10th       +10       +7        +3        +7        Supernatural spell 1/day                 8     7      2
11th       +11       +7        +3        +7        Arcane channeling (full attack)         8     7      3
12th       +12       +8        +4        +8        Quick cast 3/day,                           8     8      5
Spell power +4
13th       +13       +8        +4        +8        Armored mage (shields)                  9     8      6
14th       +14       +9        +4        +9        Supernatural spell 2/day                 9     8      6      2
15th       +15       +9        +5        +9        Spell power +5                               9     8      7      3
16th       +16       +10       +5        +10       Quick cast 4/day                          9     9      8      5
17th       +17       +10       +5        +10       Supernatural spell 3/day                10   9      8      6     2
18th       +18       +11       +6        +11       Spell power +6                             10   9      8      7     3
19th       +19       +11       +6        +11       Armored Mage (heavy)                  10   10    9      7     5
20th       +20       +12       +6        +12       Quick cast 5/day,                         10   10    10    8     6
                                                            Supernatural spell 4/day,
                                                            Supernatural critical

 Duskblade Spell List

 1st Level - Bigby's tripping hand*, blade of blood*, burning hands, cause fear, chill touch, color spray, jump, Kelgore's fire bolt, lesser deflect, magic weapon, obscuring mist, ray of enfeeblement, resist energy, rouse, shocking grasp, stand, swift expeditious retreat, true strike.
 2nd Level - animilistic power*, bear's endurance, Bigby's striking fist*, bull's strength, cat's grace, darkvision, deflect*, dimension hop*, ghoul touch, Melf's acid arrow, scorching ray, see invisibility, seeking ray*, spider climb, stretch weapon*, sure strike*, swift fly, swift invisibility, touch of idiocy.
 3rd level - crown of might*, crown of protection*, dispelling touch*, doom scarabs*, energy aegis*, energy surge*, greater magic weapon, halt*, keen edge, protection from energy, ray of exhaustion, regroup*, vampiric touch.
 4th Level - Bigby's interposing hand, channeled pyroburst*, dimension door, dispel magic, enervate, fire shield, phantasmal killer, shout, toxic weapon*.
 5th Level - Bigby's clenched fist, chain lightning, disintegrate, hold monster, polar ray, slashing dispel*, sonic shield*, waves of fatigue.

Spells marked with an asterisk can be found in the 3.5 Players Handbook II.

Edit: Sorry for any formatting issues, I'm trying to resolve them. My ability with tables in html is severly lacking!


Scion: Requiem for the Fallen Cities, Sessions 1-4

This campaign got off to a shuddered stop and almost didn't continue after losing more than half its players. Things have leveled out somewhat now, and the story has kick-started into action with the small, eclectic Band. Now, with a few more weeks' inability to run it, I hope it's not dead in its tracks right as things are heating up.

The action so far:

White Sands, New Mexico. It's the beginning of Summer, and a lightning storm has been raging through the area for almost three weeks. There's no movement of cloud cover across the land, though the clouds seem to form and dissipate in natural ways. There's also no precipitation from the storm, just near-constant lightning strikes, though thankfully no living thing has been found to have been struck, nor has many structures.

Each of the Band, during their visitations (which we defaulted to short descriptions instead of scenes in and of themselves, as the players wanted), had been told to seek out lightning in one form or another. This led them all to the town of White Sands, not the famous Missile Testing Range, which sits far outside the city.

Here, they floundered. I suppose the prevalence of inexperienced players and the fact that some of my more experienced players chose to take up meek characters caused this. I know that the experienced guys were really taking a back seat to let the new guys shine, but without some guidance, there was quite a bit of just... mundane living taking place, by the children of the gods, no less! Some of them booked into the tours at the Missile Testing Range, Alex went and talked to a local tv meteorologist about the weather pattern on the pretense of being a New Mexico State student doing a paper, and Sid went to a diner and ate while Eddie went to the diner to try and get his attention...by sitting a few tables down and staring at him, though we had decided that they had formed a Band a few days earlier.

More aimless information-gathering caused many in the band to split, feeling betrayed by their parents, possibly, at the lack of guidance, though Jimmy had prior engagements and promised to return asap. The questioning finally led to the Band learning of two individuals of interesting character, both having a "foreign" look to them, a hulking man and a beautiful woman. Nothing more turned up about this pair, and while waiting for the tour of the Missile Range, Alex drowned himself in drink with Taylor keeping him company.

Then, Steve showed up. A hunter from the South, Steve's element is the outdoors, and he greatly expanded the scope of the Band's search for clues after joining, when he took to the desert and hilly scrubland surrounding the epicenter of the storm (the base). Skirting around the edges of the Missile Range's property, and using his unparalleled knowledge of and skill in the wild, Steve discovered that the lightning was striking randomly in what eventually made a pattern, though almost incomprehensible as it was symbol laid upon symbol. This prompted him to seek counsel at White Sands National Monument, where he was told he could find someone who might know something about native symbology.

While Steve was at the Monument the next day, Alex had sent a ronin kami along and was discussing further plans with Taylor, when Jimmy returned to town from his wrestling engagement. Steve, however, was learning much information, albeit somewhat cryptic, from an park employee named Tom, who seemingly had worked at the Monument for decades...far longer than most people live...and who revealed himself to be a Scion, as well, but did not share of whom, only hinted that his divine patron was dead. Tom did share that an unnamed God had called in some favors to have the storm manufactured as a beacon to Scions to quell what is felt to be a great threat, but that was all he knew and said he would share more once that mysterious God had told him. This was a small lead, but one the group began to discuss immediately, trying to decipher what they needed to do with what little information they had.

Then came time for the tour of the Missile Range, and the monument on it commemorating the first atomic detonation. Taylor had secured spots on the tour for everyone, but Alex remained behind, deciding to try to puzzle things out on his own from the bottom of a bottle. At the Range, Steve noticed some burnt sand around the obelisk itself, as well as some coyote tracks, which was amazingly odd, but stored the information away for when it could be applied in context to things they may know. The tour was informative, and offered a couple of clues, but nothing more. Things, however, were about to heat up.

While Steve, Taylor, and Jimmy (and his ever-present tiger, which couldn't accompany them on the tour, sadly) were on their way back to White Sands, Alex caught a bright flash of light and felt/heard a boom in the distance, turning to get a better look, he then heard another boom and saw flames leap into the air over some buildings a few blocks down. This spurred him into action, as he raced out the door, spoke nice to his motorcycle's kami, improving its performance to competition levels, and raced off to see what was taking place. When he arrived, police were setting up barriers and if the cars that Alex passed were any indication, more police and Homeland Security (the town is right next to an important military installation) were on the way.

Skidding to a halt close to the action, Alex spotted a beautiful woman whose skin looked to be the color smoldering ash, and who, in a display of power and intimidation flicked her wrist and made a police cruiser burst into flames. Epically cool and Charismatic, Alex explained that her heat might not be a match for what the authorities can bring to bear and told her to get on his bike. She did, and away they went, racing down side streets and dodging traffic to elude escape on the magically suped-up bike. Once what he felt was a safe distance, he pulled the bike into a warehouse and began talking to the woman, who said that she had grown frustrated at her and her partner's lack of progress finding what she called the "Path of Fire," and she had attempted her destructive path to perhaps draw out possible Titanspawn or their pawns in hopes of getting a lead. She then explained that her Bandmate had decided to pursue another venture and had left, and she feared he was going to the Missile Range because he felt the military personnel there were protecting the Path of Fire for the Titans.

Alarmed at this, Alex tried to call his Band, but some sort of interference emanating from the woman was preventing him from making the call. Once a good distance away, he finally contacted them, telling them about the other Scion's plan. This prompted Steve to turn around and begin heading back to the Range, while Jimmy and his tiger bailed from the vehicle and started trekking through the desert looking for the man, which they found in short order, having made his skin into solid rock and walking with purpose directly toward the Range. Jimmy spoke to him for a short time while they walked, but gained no further information than the man thought this foreign military was keeping them from the Path of Fire, and that it was imperative to open it to use for the war against the Titans.

Taylor and Steve were able to reach the Range and get entrance to discuss with them a possible threat to base security. At that point, each Scion had sand swirl around them and coalesce into the form of men, one for each Scion, which then engaged them in battle. The Titanspawn weren't very dangerous, and caused little harm before being dispatched back to dust, but it only further infuriated the stoneskinned giant of a Scion, and upon reaching the base, he leapt over the fence and attacked American soldiers, killing a few in short order. Taylor and Steve had just made it outside to see the foreign Scion smash the roof of a Humvee in a couple of blows from his giant mattock.

This is where we left off, with the majority of the Band staring in horrified bewilderment at the destruction wrought by another Scion on soldiers of their country while Alex is holed up in a warehouse with another strange Scion, discussing what they need to do next.

Cast of Characters
Alex Saito, Heroic Scion of Tsuki-Yomi - Taylor
Army Major General (Ret.) Taylor Chong, Heroic Scion of Athena - Richy
Jimmy "Lu Bu" Nguyen, Heroic Scion of Guan Yu - Josh C.
Steve Sherwin, Heroic Scion of Heimdall - David B.
Gambler O'Egret, Heroic Scion of Robin Hood (Retired) - George
Lucas Cain, Heroic Scion of Loki (Retired) - G2
Eddie Noxx, Heroic Scion of Loki (Retired) - Ernest
Sid McCullors, Heroic Scion of Thor (Retired) - Stephen


Something Quick on Races

I was just thinking about humanocentricity in most fantasy and sci-fi, and it led me to thoughts about how to make the non-human races stand out more, to make them more "the Other."

In most sci-fi, I think this might be easier...aliens have physiology that sets them apart from humanity in very obvious ways, be it gills, claws, etc.. This in contrast to differentiating between humans and the other "core" fantasy races presented, such as the elf, dwarf, gnome, and halfling...who are all usually put forth as "short humans" or "humans with funny ears."

In the Warhammer 40k universe's supporting literature, there are several mentions of people not being able to look directly at glyphs or even the physical forms of, or created by, Chaos or the various warp (read: alien) species. I find this to be a unique side-effect of the racial indoctrination practices of the Imperium of Man, and something that can be adapted for use in various, but not all, campaigns. (My Wilderlands game, for example, would be a bad place to use these alternate rules, as Judges Guild has always supported fairly free mixing of more races than any other campaign I've ever known of.)

Now, how to apply this in-game? There are a couple of ways.

The first, and easiest, I would say, is to ignore any mechanics that might be associated with the reactions to races, and incorporate the feelings and involuntary reactions into the descriptions of what the PCs see.

For example, let's say that someone running a D&D game wishes to have the PCs meet an Elf in a grove outside of town. Upon approach, the demihuman is spotted wearing a hooded cloak, and brooks no reaction, but when they turn around and doff their hood, the alien perfection of the creature could stir any number of reactions in your PCs, and it should be described as such. Don't strongarm your players into having their characters feel a certain way. State to them that strong emotions well inside them at the sight, some might be filled with lust, others rage or melancholy at not being as perfect.

This can, and should, be different for every race. Using the same narrative system, let's replace the elf with an orc. Orcs in this campaign may be so hideous and terrifying that no man may truly look into the face of one, their eyes naturally skirting the beast's features, leaving only the impression of hellish terror or "death itself."

This could cause a bit of fun trouble within the campaign when trying to describe a nonhuman to a human. If the guard is in pursuit of a halfling who has absconded with some treasure or another, the guard is going to have a hard time picking out a person who seemed "very mouselike" or "like any alleycat" or "gave the impression of shadows."

This is a fairly extreme example of using the narrative, but can be lightened or even made more heavy-handed, to suit any campaign style. As I mentioned before, my Wilderlands game, to me, seems a poor fit for an assertive approach with this, so I use a dialed-back version of the narrative style, describing the various races with unique flairs, trying to give them something that's more than just "it appears much like a human, except with pointy ears." Elves, for example, have at least one feature that ties them to nature and their fey origins...a recent character, for instance, had hair made of vines.

A gnome, on the other hand, might have eyes that appear to be faceted gems, a dwarf's voice may crack with the sound of rocks clattering together. Simply using your GM-granted power of narrative can go a long way toward creating interesting contrasts with races in your games, and it might encourage your players to pick up a nonhuman race as their next character.

Next, we'll delve into a mechanical representation of the same thing. Obviously, there are a couple of ways to do this, as well, and by far, the easiest is to just impose a penalty to social rolls versus those of various races, but I like fiddling with crunchy mechanics, so let's see what kind of damage we can do.

For the purpose of our rules, I thought I would use a stripped-down version of the Sanity rules from the 3.x Unearthed Arcana with a splash of Predator's Taint from Vampire the Requiem and Fear & Damnation from Dark Heresy for flavor. I'll call this the Composure Roll for these purposes.

First, it's obvious that none of these systems is d20-based, so that's the first change we'll make (thus each 5pt incremement will be represented by a single number on the die.) This will make the mechanic fit more seamlessly into the game, by making it intuitive and easier to recall. Mechanics like this can already be a burden, one of the goals is to make using it as easy as possible for maximum use.

Since Wisdom is usually tied to mental composure, the goal, when meeting the selfsame elf mentioned before would be to roll equal to or less than one's Wisdom score on a d20, subtracting 1 from the Wisdom score for each instance of roll made in the current game session. Optionally, a GM may lower the score an additional point to accentuate the otherness of non-core races, and/or could also subtract one point per 2 or 5 class levels or hit die the trigger has to represent a further departure from the norm with age and experience.

As noted, to succeed, you must roll equal to or lower than the target number, whose base value is equal to one's Wisdom score. Upon failure, however, certain other effects take place. A failure of 4 or less indicates that the character visibly balks, and they take a -2 to all social rolls associated with their trigger.. Failing by 5 or more means that the character is obviously aghast with horror, raising the severity of the social penalty to -5.

Upon rolling a 20, however, the character's mind fails to hold together any composure. Have the player roll another roll, and if another failure comes up, a mental stress occurs.

Here's a nice d10 table for mental stresses, based on "The Shock Table" from Dark Heresy.

  1. The character is badly startled, and are treated as nauseated for 1 round.
  2. Fear grips the character, and they are shaken for d6 rounds unless another composure roll is successfully made.
  3.  The afflicted scrabbles away and cannot willingly approach, as the frightened condition, save that they cannot fight, and may act normally otherwise once they are out of sight of the trigger. Lower your Wisdom by 1 for the purposes of Composure from this point on when dealing with a similar trigger. (i.e., another elf)
  4. The character is cowering for d6 rounds, and is shaken for a like amount thereafter. Lower your Wisdom by 1 for the purposes of Composure from this point on when dealing with a similar trigger.
  5. The character is panicked for d6 rounds. If unable to flee, may only take half actions, and are at -4 to all attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks. Lower your Wisdom by 1 for the purposes of all Composure rolls from this point on.
  6. The character faints, remaining unconscious for d6 rounds. Upon waking, they are also shaken for a like amount of time. Lower your Wisdom by 1 for the purposes of all Composure rolls from this point on.
  7. The character is completely overcome with despair and sickness and is helpless for d6 rounds. Afterwards, the character is shaken until they can rest. Lower your Wisdom by 2 for the purposes of all Composure rolls from this point on.
  8. The character flies into frenzy, laughing hysterically and attacking allies and enemies alike with all weapons at their disposal, but not with spells or special abilities. This lasts until the character is made to snap out of it (as with a spell) or until they are unconscious. Lower your Wisdom by 2 for the purposes of all Composure rolls from this point on.
  9. The character crumples to the ground for d6 rounds, tearing at their own flesh (inflicting melee weapon damage per round). Afterwards, they are exhausted and shaken until recovered with rest. Lower your Wisdom by d4 for the purpose of all Composure rolls from this point on.
  10. The character's mind snaps and they become catatonic for d6 hours and may not be roused. Lower your Wisdom by d4 for the purpose of all Composure rolls from this point on. In addition, roll another Composure roll, if this one fails, step this result up to 11.
  11. In addition to the effects of 10, your character also suffers a minor mental disorder (worked out between you and your GM, or at GM's discretion) that lasts for d10 rounds, and d6 rounds after each other Composure roll made from now on. Lower your Wisdom by d6 for the purpose of Composure rolls from this point on, unless the additional Composure triggered by 10 comes up a 20, in which case you lower your permanent Wisdom score by 1. (This replaces, and is not in addition to, the lowering of Wisdom from 10.)
 Obviously, these rules stand on the harsher end of things, but you can adjust them to fit your style of game, decreasing the penalties by redefining what the conditions stated on the table represent, or changing the effects totally.

This system was tweaked from a d% system with a d10 system bolted on to make a working d20 system mechanic, and it wouldn't take much work to dig up the original sources and go from there, or take what I bashed together to retrofit into something more suiting your own game's system.