The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 9 - Shocking Discovery

And so our heroes stood, looking at what was apparently a major, and very illegal - though now dismantled - operation that was harnessing the power to manufacture warforged. The room was now mostly empty of equipment, though boxes lined the walls, but was very full of Reavers. Primary among them was Bonebreaker, a fearsome Valenar whose dead body had been bonded with that of his horse to form a centaur-like elfforged with the power of both he and the spirit and body of his former mount.

The Reavers wasted no time and charged the band.

Battle was joined fiercely, though many among the troupe had depleted their power reserves in earlier exchanges outside the temple with other Reavers, or had sustained minor injury. Bonebreaker charged forth and unleashed a barrage of attacks against Kitty, and Henry moved up to take some of the pressure off of the young woman, allowing her to escape the extreme force of the powerful Reaver.

Jean again pushed forth to whip the stale air of the lower chamber of the temple into powerful winds, keeping some of the Reaver regulars at bay while Bennet put up a crackling energy field to dissuade their attackers from pressing forward en masse like at the beginning of the combat.

The few stragglers close were cut down by a powerful blast of psionic fire from Jean, as Kurt began to teleport around the room, cutting down those affected by the psion's winds. Henry ripped through many Reavers and fared well against Bonebreaker physically while Jean blasted at his mind, eventually bringing down the fearsome fighter.

With battle done, the group searched the room, for further clues as to what, exactly, was going on and were surprised to find that some of the machinery still contained quite a bit of energy as electricity arced out from exposed coils and wires to shock and jolt searchers.

While this search happened, a whirring click could be heard and several party members saw a small, golden orb fly away from Bonebreaker and flit out of the chamber on metallic wings. A docent, likely capable of reporting everything that had taken place was speeding away to give its report to Deathstrike, Pierce, or whoever else was in charge of this overall operation.

Concentrating more on what they could affect at the moment, the group continued their search and found a secret passage deep into the earth, where cells and workrooms and other chambers where the former priests and adherents of this temple held to their daily duties when it was still attended. One of these chambers was where Toyman had been kept, but the whole operation had been pulled and no sign of him or the work being done was to be found in these rooms.

Further, a door led out onto a veranda that overlooked a lush jungle valley, this where Pierce, Fitzroy, and the strange man had been discussing the Tinkerer's Grand Design. No further paths led from here, and so the group backtracked to the chamber where Bonebreaker and his charges had given battle.

Here, Kurt made an unusual discovery as he made a short search of the crates before the team headed for Whitecliff, where they planned to start the next leg of their journey.

Cast of Characters
Jean Grey, Elan Psion (Kineticist) 6|Wilder 6  - Angela
Bennet du Paris [Exodus], Human Psion (Nomad) 6|Spellthief 5/Cerebrex 1 -Taylor
Henry [Beast], Artificer 6|Anthropomorphic Ape 2/Monk 4 - Paul
Kurt Wagner [Nightcrawler], Rogue 3/Fighter 2|Totemist 2/Wizard 3 - David
Kitty Pryde [Shadowcat], Wizard 5|Ninja 5 - Sam

Retcon alert! The end of this session report is what should have happened. What happened during the session itself was the heroes exited and started through the jungle toward Whitecliff, when they suddenly heard the roar of what they identified as a dragon.

The reason for this retcon is simply because I didn't crack my notebook during the session, because I thought I could remember everything (I do VERY light prep for this game), but had forgotten a key piece of information, which David would have uncovered due to his search.

No harm, no foul. Retcon takes place next session and we move on.


The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 8 - Along Came A Spider

And so, with the Reavers on the ground defeated, the others that had remained on the Aundairian airship make their way to the ground, along with another passenger who had been observing the battle from the deck, and who had zipped down to join the group. The Spider Man, known to hail from the Lyrandar headquarters of Stormhome, had been aboard the heroes' airship and had taken good measure of their acts, deciding to join them on their quest to find the whereabouts of Xavier and other extranormals who had come up missing in the past year or so.

After a short exchange between the group and the newcomer, the party makes a cursory search of the boxes that the Reavers had been hauling out of the temple, finding them to be holding what appeared to be warforged components, though slightly larger than normal.

Curiosity piqued, the group ventures further in, oddly uncontested by the Reavers that had fled within, finding the place to be a vast colonnade, each column decorated with hideous visages of demons and devils in various acts of depravity. The centerpiece of the upper level of the temple was a vast altar, roughly fifteen feet long and eight feet high, with etchings that Bennet deciphered as meaning that the site was dedicated to Belial, the Archlord of Lies.

Leaving the altar well enough alone, the Spider Man scouts forward, down a convening ramp that branches from either side behind the altar. The others follow behind and a few notice what appears to be huge fingerprints stamped into the stone, though how recent those were placed is anyone's guess.

In the chamber below, the group is surprised to see what appears to be what was the resting place of a giant machine of some sort, with components still scattered about or placed into boxes that line the walls. Some parts of the machine still hum with power, electricity arcing from wires and cables. Henry recognizes the setup as a small creation forge! The Reavers had been making warforged, but why? And how did they get the components to construct a creation forge?

There were no time for answers, as awaiting our heroes was a host of Reavers, ready to put an end to their mission!

Next issue, the heroes are left with more questions than answers.

Cast of Characters
Jean Grey, Elan Psion (Kineticist) 6|Wilder 6  - Angela
Bennet du Paris [Exodus], Human Psion (Nomad) 6|Spellthief 5/Cerebrex 1 -Taylor
Henry [Beast], Artificer 6|Anthropomorphic Ape 2/Monk 4 - Paul
Kurt Wagner [Nightcrawler], Rogue 3/Fighter 2|Totemist 2/Wizard 3 - David
Kitty Pryde [Shadowcat], Wizard 5|Ninja 5 - Sam
Pete Salvas [Spider-Man], Warlock 4|Battle Dancer 4 - Juan
Johnathan Blaze (Phantom Traveler) [Ghost Rider], Flaming Bone Creature 2/Warlock 2|Fighter 4 - G2

Sadly, this session was cut really short by snow. Some of us have long drives home, so we wrapped up the session and cut out.


The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 7 - Welcome to the Jungle!

The fray is immediately joined by Henry and Kurt as they teleport over to the White King's airship, pressing the attack against the Reaver crewmen aboard. They are met with resistance from a handful of Reavers on deck and Arnold, who exits from the cabin at the sound of battle. The Lyrandar crew aboard raise their hands to show they will not participate in combat.

Meanwhile, Bennet takes command of an arcane ballista and fires upon the White King's airship, scoring a hit square to the binding strut, in hopes of unleashing the elemental bound to the ship upon the enemy. At this, the Lyrandar crew of Pierce's ship begin struggling to take the magical guidewheel from its mount, to preserve at least one piece of the airship, should it fall.

Other Reavers can be seen on the ground, but the group holds until the airship conflict is resolved. Other crew fire upon the enemy ship and Bennet manages to bust the elemental binding ring, releasing a towering column of living fire at least three times the size of a man.

Arnold, the Lyrandar, Henry, and Kurt all make their way off the falling vessel and the rest of the heroes take the fight to the ground, engaging the Reavers - who appear to be packing up and evacuating the ruins - there.

Kitty sneaks up and causes a little disruption as Jean whips the wind in the area in a telekinetic frenzy, pushing the defenders down, allowing Henry, Kurt, and Bennet to bring force to the primary threats among the Reavers - Reese, Cole, and Macon - while the rest of the Reavers flee into the temple that seems to have been their base of operations here in Q'barra.

Arnold, who had previously fled into the jungle after featherfalling out of the crashing airship, circles back around and engages the party again, falling quickly to the heroes, who had gained an upper hand early in the fight on the ruins.

Catching their breath in the aftermath of the skirmish with some of the Reaver's most powerful members, the group takes stock of what is contained in the crates that the elves had been moving and find what appears to be pieces of warforged. Here, we left off while the rest of the team make it from the airship to join up.

Next issue, one aboard the ship finds great responsibility in joining the group.

Cast of Characters
Jean Grey, Elan Psion (Kineticist) 6|Wilder 6  - Angela
Bennet du Paris [Exodus], Human Psion (Nomad) 6|Spellthief 5/Cerebrex 1 -Taylor
Henry [Beast], Artificer 5|Anthropomorphic Ape 2/Monk 3 - Paul
Kurt Wagner [Nightcrawler], Rogue 3/Fighter 2|Totemist 2/Wizard 3 - David
Kitty Pryde [Shadowcat], Wizard 5|Ninja 5 - Sam

Edit: I had mistakenly put Skullcrusher in this session report. He has not made another appearance since Fairhaven!


Dark Heresy, Session 11: Dead Stars

Somewhat surprisingly, I was kept on with the two newest of our band, the pilot and the coward, and in the intervening weeks and months, we trained extensively. The Inquisitor wished that I brush up on the Tactica, and was seemingly grooming me for the officer corp. My foremost duty, I feel, is as a guardsman on the ground, and so I took every spare moment I had practicing martial skills. I had very little contact with my companions during the trip, except when the matter was forced, and I was shocked to find that our numbers had grown. I suppose these were also agents of our Inquisitor, but also could have been on loan from Inquisitor Marr, who we were to learn was a driving force behind our next mission.

And so we were briefed, all seven of us - me, the pilot, the pacifist assassin, a member of the Adeptus Arbites, a member of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and two others I couldn't quite pin down as to their previous careers or specialties. Inquisitor Marr had given our own Inquisitor a head's up on the last known location of Erasmus Haarlock, whose vile legacy I had been chasing since my first missions with the Holy Ordos.

We were to be dispatched to the planet Mara, a forbidden ice world, and the last known whereabouts of Haarlock. The planet is also known to be the location of something called the Blind Tesseract. The planet used to be a penal mining colony, but was abandoned and the planet and lanes into it sealed. We were granted a full writ, allowing us to act as if an Inquisitor was with us, and given two squads of Maccabian Janissaries, as well as two more Acolytes of some mental prowess. I'm not sure I like this last bit. Memories of Xantippa still vex me, even months later, Emperor rest her soul. The Janissaries, however, are a welcome addition to the force, and these dour troops are known for their effective execution of His will wherever they are deployed.

We are made to prepare before we translate to real space, but are shocked to find we have materialized in the middle of a battle between Imperial forces and seditionists! Our ship is rocked hard as we swoop through crossfire and the noble captain takes it upon himself to sacrifice his ship that we might make planetfall and complete our work. Then, the Spear of Destiny is spotted - the ship of Erasmus Haarlock, himself! Things were dire, indeed, and we made quick to the hangar bay, boarding our guncutter and flinging ourselves like a comet to the suface of Mara.

Our guncutter makes it into atmosphere, but is suddenly rocked with a violent explosion and we crash land, making a quick exit from the ship with only minor injuries and, I believe, no losses...though I honestly didn't take the time to count noses, so I will likely never know.

We made fast for the mining complex, but were engaged by a small group, which we took out fairly rapidly, our new additions to the band showing great skill in combat and conducting themselves valiantly in the charge. These marks held no badges or other indicators of allegiance, so I can only assume they were of those who would secede from the Empire, and thus deserved their deaths for turning from their God.

Entry to the complex was fairly easy, thanks to the odd rites of the tech-priest, but no sooner than we had made it into the compound were we attacked by some warp-spawned beast. One of the new members that I hadn't a good grasp of, nor know the name of presently, was quick with the Angelus that I had taken from those agents I faced with Fihad on Sinophia, and blew the damned thing back to whatever warphell it was from. This left us, then, wondering where we should go in the sprawling complex.

Cast of Characters
??, ?? (??) ?? (??) - Angela
??, ?? (Hive World) ?? (??) -  Paul
??, ?? (??) Magistrate (Arbiter 7) - Taylor
Mohrdecai, Cadian (Fortress World) Lieutenant (Guardsman 6) - Me
??, ?? (Forge World) Mech-Deacon (Tech-Priest 7) - George
??, ?? (Feral World) Nihilator (Assassin 7) - Sam

Nope, I didn't take note of what everyone made, where they were from, or their character names. There was a lot of character creation the session before this and I was busy increasing the rank of my own character and helping out where I could. I do recall Paul's quirk was a gunshot wound, so that makes his character a Hive Worlder, but I have no idea, otherwise. George's character was the exception, because I thought a missle launcher expert tech-priest was funny.

I also probably got a lot of this session mixed up. I had a pretty wicked headache that night and just wasn't as focused as I would like.


The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 6 - This Captain Ain't Makin' It Happen

The Ultra-Humanite's sub-humanites having escaped through unusual portals after their raid on the Cannith Guildhouse, our heroes set to the task of helping out those unfortunate baselines who had been caught in the building when it was attacked and who were injured in the fall. Bennet, instead, helps himself to some minor magic items in the confusion, then joins some of his companions in asking those who are coherent what it was that was taken from the guildhouse. Upon the description of the item, a few can describe it as a focusing lens, and one woman reveals that it was commissioned by the druidic Gatekeepers, for their observatory.

Having helped in whatever way they feel they can, and wanting to capitalize on their knowledge that Q'barra is a likely destination, the group makes to leave, only to be met outside by a cadre of Aundairian troops led by the Agent, who tells the team that Queen Aurala would like an audience with them, which they agree to, hoping the Queen may have more information that may aid their quest to find Xavier.

The Agent directs his troops to aid in the relief of the guildhouse disaster, and then escorts the PCs to Fairhold, the seat of Aundair's throne. There, the band are led to what appears to be a small dining area and are seated on one side of the table, across from Queen Aurala and two men, who are introduced as First Warlord and Royal Minister of Magic Adal ir'Wynarn and Darro ir'Lain, Second Warlord and commander of the Knights Arcane. The Agent goes to the Queen's side of the table, but remains standing.

Then Bennet gets directly to business, pointing out that they wouldn't have been summoned if they were not viewed as a threat. Aurala corrects him, stating that the crown simply wants to know their intentions in Aundair, and asks if they will be moving on soon, as they have directly killed some Aundairian citizens (Extranormal villains, so not a huge concern, but still...), have created civil unrest (panic by their presence), and the destruction of property (Chalice Center's tower was a public joint venture, but most property belonged to Dragonmarked Houses, so couldn't be a concern of Aundair) and perhaps sparked an incident with Valenar through their attack on the White King. The conversation continues for some time, with the heroes realizing that Aundair is, except for the might of Arcanix, vastly under-prepared for any true Extranormal threat on a logistics scale, and have, perhaps, only one or two Extranormals to call upon in times of need, themselves.

The group shares their purpose and all they know of recent happenings with Aurala and her cabinet after an agreement of full disclosure and aid from the crown. The Queen and her staff take this all in and offer only what little they can, telling the party that Agent is a replacement for Captain Aundair, a hero popular in the war, who was meant to have been at the Conclave in Metrol, but never reported in afterwards. It is also explained to the group that Ultra-Humanite is a suspected officer of Uxas, and it has become a concern since some of the most powerful Extranormals are now MIA, that Uxas will make a push for conquering as much of the continent as he can.

Unable to match the sheer quantity of information the heroes had given, Aurala generously gives 1,000 gold pieces to each member for whatever purpose they see fit for preparing for the next stage of their mission, grants them travel aboard an airship, one-way, to their next destination, and - with the blessing of Adal - access to one spell of up to the eighth tier of spells, cast by an Arcanix mage.

The PCs graciously accept and immediately begin asking about spells available, deciding that Discern Location is their best bet, focusing on the Toyman. They take the evening to go about getting prepared and on the morning have their spell cast, which confirms the Q'barran deduction made by Henry earlier. They set course for central Q'barra, a trip that goes uneventful for the first two days. On the third a flotilla(?, squadron maybe?) of Karnnathi airships are spotted in the distance, flying toward their home country, and then an airship with the standard of the White King can be seen above their destination, which seems to be some kind of overgrown, ancient ruins.

A debate springs up about what to do, with Bennet pushing to have their ship fire upon the other airship, and Henry pressing to pull alongside for boarding. Listening to majority voice, the captain pulls broadside and Kurt grabs Henry and teleports to the White King's ship, where we left off.

Cast of Characters
Jean Grey, Elan Psion (Kineticist) 5|Wilder 5  - Angela
Bennet du Paris [Exodus], Human Psion (Nomad) 5|Spellthief 5 -Taylor
Henry [Beast], Artificer 5|Anthropomorphic Ape 2/Monk 3 - Paul
Kurt Wagner [Nightcrawler], Rogue 3/Fighter 2|Totemist 2/Wizard 3 - David
Kitty Pryde [Shadowcat], Wizard 4|Ninja 4 - Sam
Dr. Isaiah Crane (Scarecrow), Sorceror 4|Cleric 4 - Jon
Johnathan Blaze (Phantom Traveler) [Ghost Rider], Flaming Bone Creature 2/Warlock 2|Fighter 4 - G2

Bonus Feature: House Rules
Creating a campaign that couples the dynamism and sheer power of super heroes with codified (primarily medieval) fantasy roleplaying rules means that some things have to be changed to create more dynamic and powerful characters and scenes.

Here's a short list of house rules we've adopted for the game.
  1. The Rule of 30 - Any player may elect to roll a d30 to replace any one die roll, or any die in a pool.
  2. The Extranormal Check - As mentioned in a previous post, this works like a Bardic Knowledge check, with the exception that feats and abilities that add to certain knowledges (i.e., Collector of Stories) work normally. The higher you roll, the more you know about a given superpowered being. Seven sessions in as I write this, and I still don't have this structured how I would like. It might never become a priority.
  3. The Extranormal Subtype - Each character derived from a hero or villain from the comics gets this subtype. This grants the character the ability to gestalt their classes and also grants max hit points at first level. In addition, every character with the Extranormal subtype also has an additional supernatural ability that is unique to that particular character.
  4. Flaws - Each PC may take a single flaw and gain an extra feat from it, as detailed in Unearthed Arcana.
  5. Altered Gestalt - For base saving throw bonuses, instead of taking the favored progression for either class to determine bonus, increase the save whenever it increases on either class track. This increases saves by a few points, thus making the Extranormal character just that much more durable.
  6. Massive Damage Threshold (MDT) - Characters have a massive damage threshold equal to their Constitution score plus 2*level. Any time the character takes damage in excess of this value, they must make a Fortitude save with a DC = 15+1 per 10 points over the MDT in damage suffered.
  7. Magic Psionics - Magic and Psionics are treated the same in this game, and further grant effects that would not otherwise be featured in a D&D game. For instance, a 3rd level Wizard can qualify for a prestige class whose prerequisite asks for a 3rd level manifester, and may benefit from the progression as normal, as if the class said caster. However, a prestige class that asks for certain spells or powers, or similar impossible requirements cannot be substituted this way.
  8. Power-Boosting Prestige - Prestige classes that would normally add caster levels or manifester levels to the class that you have on the other gestalt path still add those levels, but only as effective caster or manifester levels (meaning that the character would be more likely to overcome spell resistance, has greater range, etc.), and does not gain any other benefit such as additional spell slots, learned spells or powers, or additional power points. This boost to caster level can only go up to +10, no matter the number of additional levels that would grant the ability.

The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 5 - Oh, the Humanite-ity!

During their time after the Chalice Center incident, Henry had struck to the task of creating a wand of Scrying, so that they might be able to discern the location of Winslow Schott/Toyman or the White King, and thus - hopefully - the Reavers. During this time, the rest of the band lay low, meeting to discuss where next they would go or other strategy for after Henry finished his work.

As mentioned previously, Kurt had taken to doing research on the visions he had when he disappeared for multiple days when the Jester attacked the group in Korth. During this time, he read of a Conclave, held in Metrol, that was apparently a precursor to the talks at Thronehold, but very little details were available, other thanthe fact that a nobleman scientist named Hyrum ir'Wynarn was to give a presentation and that many of the most powerful Extranormals at that time were in attendance, many of whom were now missing or dead. No further information could be found on that topic, but Kurt also did more research into the timeframe of that Conclave and found that the greatest threat in the Last War at the time was a warlord from the south named Uxas, who hadn't lost an engagement and could possibly have conquered Khorvaire single-handedly if he hadn't disappeared around the time of the Day of Mourning and subsequent Treaty of Thronehold.

Kurt had finished his research and shared the information with his companions when they all met with Henry at the Cannith guildhouse upon his completion of the wand. The group decided they would first attempt to scry upon the Toyman, which they did successfully, seeing and hearing only Winslow toiling away at a workbench, with no-one else around. The second scrying, suggested by Isaiah, was for The Bat. This scrying seemingly worked, as well, but no sound or vision could be seen, only silent blackness.

The White King was tried next, and he was seen dining on a veranda with two other men, one identified as an Extranormal named Trevor Fitzroy, who is known to associate heavily with the Dragonmarked Houses and has some control over time/space, the other being someone Henry had never seen before, though he didn't think him an Extranormal. These three men were, at first, speaking of the weather and common topics of businessmen, but then changed the subject eventually to "Tinkerer's Great Work" and how rapidly it was progressing to completion and how it would bring about an exciting new era. A key piece of evidence was found, however, when Henry was able to identify some of the plants in the background as native to central and southern Q'barra.

After this, Winslow was scried upon one more time, but the results were more of the same. Communication was attempted this time, to no avail, and Henry tried to make out what he was working on, but couldn't piece it together.

During the discussion of the scryings, the building rocked violently and the heroes made for the door to look out into the open commons in the middle to see what was going on, since the chamber they were in had no windows. To their amazement, the building was seemingly being lifted into the air, wrenched from its foundations and rising slowly as armed and armored ape-like creatures flooded into the building, led by the Ultra-Humanite, a known enemy of the Super Man!

The two groups, our heroes and the Ultra-Humanite's 'sub-humanites', tussle. The Ultra-Humanite explains that he is not there to complicate the lives of the band and they should stand aside, because he is only there to retrieve an item, then he will be on his way. Bennet and his gathered force have none of it, and eventually prevail, seemingly killing the Ultra-Humanite, but it is a hollow loss, as Jean had lost a hand in the fight and the sub-humanites seem to retrieve the item they came for, and take it and their master's body out of the building as it begins to descend, popping out on portals that report like cannons when used. The building sets down not-so-gently, but only baseline casualties are counted.

We leave our heroes as they begin to help the House Cannith members trapped in the rubble and take stock of what, exactly, the Ultra-Humanite was after.

Cast of Characters
Jean Grey, Elan Psion (Kineticist) 5|Wilder 5  - Angela
Bennet du Paris [Exodus], Human Psion (Nomad) 5|Spellthief 5 -Taylor
Henry [Beast], Artificer 5|Anthropomorphic Ape 2/Monk 3 - Paul
Kurt Wagner [Nightcrawler], Rogue 3/Fighter 1|Totemist 2/Wizard 2 - David
Kitty Pryde [Shadowcat], Wizard 4|Ninja 4 - Sam
Dr. Isaiah Crane (Scarecrow), Sorceror 4|Cleric 4 - Jon

Bonus Feature: Company Conundrums
If it's not obvious, the PCs and NPCs in this campaign are really one-sided when it comes to the comics publisher they come from. Some of this is shaped by recognition. Marvel characters are the majority quite simply because they are more familiar thanks in large part to the recent proliferation of movies, and the excellent cartoons put out in the 90s and early 2000s.

This is further compounded by factors such as DC not having characters that really fit the roles I want and others, like Dark Horse, Image, and some of the other, smaller, companies not having decent directories or character bibles like Marvel and DC's "Encyclopedia of the X Universe".

I'm unsure if this trend will change, so apologies to those that are reading along if they were wanting to see someone crop up. I do, however, have a rule in place where if someone gives me a mini for someone they want to see in the game, I will include them, so who knows who will make an appearance.

As always, we look forward to any feedback, questions, or comments about the game!