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Sunday, 17th April, 2005, 01:57 PM #81
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Drinking Deeply from the Chalice of Midnight - Part 6a: Home Sweet Home
They instantly appeared back at Decimus’ basement level. Vlad was handing Decimus the chalice as Ilmarė and Quintus appeared.
“My thanks, my friends,” said Decimus, tears welling up in his eyes. “I knew that you would succeed.”
Ilmarė and Quintus were still clinging to each other. Quintus coughed and stepped away from the Elorii.
Decimus handed Vlad a chest. “Please, take this chest. It contains the money I promised.”
Vlad popped it open and peered at its contents. He nodded towards Ilmarė. “It’s all here, three thousand Imperials, just like he said.”
Decimus held the chalice up. “With this, I can make sure my family and my descendants will live as free citizens of the Empire.”
“And how exactly will the chalice help you do that?” asked Quintus.
Decimus walked over to another summoning circle inscribed on the floor. “I call upon you, Oh Fallen One, as my ancestors did bid you to come in ages past,” he chanted, “so do I now command you to appear before me!”
Ilmarė unsheathed her sword. “What are you doing?”
The light in the chamber dimmed as the sigils on the summoning circle flared. Unfolding itself from its cape like a moth from its cocoon, a slight man appeared in the exact center. He wore a plumed hat that cast long shadows upon his handsome face. The lip was curled into a sneer.
“Am I a common Larissan pleasure slave, expected to come when her besotted master beckons?” it said in a deep baritone. “Know this, Sarishan. You have called upon Losknek, Prince of the Nether Realm, Render of the Just and Unjust and Master of the thirty-nine Deceivers of the Soul. Tell me why I should not break your puny circle and make you my plaything?”
Quintus and Vlad drew their swords. “Decimus, what in the world…”
Decimus ignored them. He stepped forward, unafraid. “I summoned you in the name of Blessed Sarish, the Binder and Summoner, He who you betrayed and who banished you from the Heavens. Though I have no doubt you have the power to break the circle, I enacted the ritual in accordance to the old ways and demand that you listen. Powerful, you may be. But you must still act in accordance to your Oath. Bound, you are, to the Lord of Secrets, and commanded to give one’s life desire for the fulfillment of your own, Dread One.”
“He means to bargain,” said Ilmarė to Quintus. “Decimus never wanted the chalice for himself.”
“I hold in my hand the Chalice of Midnight,” Decimus was saying, “taken from you during the God War and gifted to the Honor of Cadic, who, because of you, also fell from Grace. I freely give this to you in fulfillment of the contract and in return I desire the Page.”
Rage flashed across Losknek’s beautiful face before it spoke again. “As you have said, Decimus, I must fulfill my obligation as it was commanded by the Bright Prince of Enigmas.”
A yellowed velum sheet of parchment appeared in a gout of flame before the Infernal. Losknek pulled a scroll case from the folds of its cloak and inserted the parchment into it. Its sealed the case with a thumbprint and extended the case with one hand as it reached for the chalice with the other.
“The Bargain is sealed and done,” said Decimus, scroll case in hand. “Let neither harbor malice nor claim it was unjust. What is done is done. May the Lord of Secrets curse any who would undo His will. You may leave, mighty Prince. My need has been fulfilled.”
With nary a second glance, Losknek vanished as suddenly as it appeared.
Looking relieved, Decimus turned to Quintus. “Thank you once again, Quintus. With this page, I will be able to pay Dominarin and release my family.”
Quintus resheathed his gladius. “What does the Senator want with a page?” asked Quintus.
“I don’t know. But I know Dominarin wants it very badly, enough to release me from service for it. And so I have my freedom in hand.” He gestured towards all of them. “Please, make yourself at home. My brother is preparing a simple repast above for you. It’s the least I can do.”
And with that, he practically jumped up the steps out of the basement.
“I don’t trust him,” said Ilmarė. “He deals with too many devils.”
“Agreed,” said Quintus. “But come, let us—“
Just then, the summoning circle flashed to life.
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Thursday, 21st April, 2005, 01:16 PM #82
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Drinking Deeply from the Chalice of Midnight - Part 6b: Home Sweet Home
Standing in the center of the summoning circle, draped in shadow, was Prince Losknek.
“I would ask to speak with you before you go,” it said.
Quintus picked up his spear. “Back, devil!”
Vlad and Ilmarė’s swords were at the ready. They had yet to sheathe them.
“I mean you no harm,” it said. “I so swear by Sarish.”
Quintus did not lower his spear. “Speak, demon. But know this: I will not be swayed by honeyed words.”
Losknek’s eyes narrowed, but his lips curled into a smile. “And you are wise not to trust me, or anyone else. Your erstwhile compatriot, while possessing a noble goal, has unwittingly begun a chain reaction that could topple the order of things upon Arcanis and may well usher in the enslavement of Mankind.”
“Go on,” said Ilmarė, sheathing her sword.
“Due to my oath, I am powerless to interfere or take an active part in upsetting the plans of a madman. But you are not.”
“A madman?” asked Quintus.
“I have looked into your heart,” said Losknek. “You possess a nobility of purpose and spirit.”
Quintus’ heart skipped a beat.
“You are a pawn, Quintus,” said Losknek. “You are all pawns. I urge you to stop this conspiracy before you are eliminated from the board.”
“Why don’t you do something about it then?” asked Vlad.
“Due to my Oath, I cannot do more. The path will be made clear if you go back to the nest of the child that set off this sequence of events.”
“Cassicus,” said Quintus, “in Coryan.”
Losknek nodded. “I will be watching…and praying.” Without another word, the Prince of the Nether Realm vanished.
After waiting a moment to be sure that the devil wasn’t returning, Quintus took a deep breath and ascended the steps.
“Well,” he said over his shoulder, “I’ll send word for the others. Will you be joining me?”
The big man flashed him a smile. “I was here at the beginning of this mess and I intend to see it through to the end.”
Quintus turned to face Ilmarė. They locked gazes.
“Of course,” said Ilmarė. “The enslavement of mankind has always intrigued me.”
Quintus sighed and resumed climbing the steps.
Friday, 29th April, 2005, 12:54 AM #83
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Well, that's all we've got for the moment. Due to real life challenges, we haven't been able to play another session and won't be able to until schedules change. There's the possibility of gaming again sometime soon, but it may not be the same session.
It could include zombies though.
Friday, 29th April, 2005, 02:04 AM #84
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Well, it was a lot of fun while it lasted. Thanks for posting these; they brought back a lot of memories. Later on in the story arc, I can see a few of the threads being twisted back into the skein in the more modern LA mods.
Sunday, 15th May, 2005, 08:51 PM #85
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
There's still life in this thread yet. My brother and his girlfriend joined us for a session and I took over DMing duties. Quintus has a cameo, as does Kham (even though his player wasn't available, I'm sure he'll be...uh, thrilled). I'll post the story update in a few days as I get to it.
Thursday, 19th May, 2005, 04:14 AM #86
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
The Children of Leviathan - Introduction
This is the first soft point of Year 2 of the tournament module, "The Children of the Leviathan," written by Scott Charlton and set in the Arcanis setting. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Our cast of characters includes:
· Ilmarė Galen (elf Brd3), played by Amber Tresca (my wife)
· Vlad Martell (human Ftr3), played by Matt Hammer.
· Calactyte (ss’ressen Bar1), played by Joe Tresca: http://www.creepyportfolio.com
· Bijoux (fihali 2/Drd1), played by Melissa Gendron
I was Dungeon Master for this session: http://michael.tresca.net
This was a new session for my brother (Joe) and his girlfriend (Melissa). She’s never played Dungeons & Dragons before and I wanted it to be a fun session. Ironically, she ported over a character she played on EverQuest who was a catfolk druid. Since the party had just recently visited a world of cat type people (called fihali), it only made sense. Incidentally, being a fihali means starting out at with 2 humanoid levels, an important edge.
I haven’t been in the DM seat recently so this was my chance to dive into it. And dive into it I did, with all the sweaty madness of a guy who has a 9 to 5 corporate job and doesn’t get to express himself often enough. I knew this was an adventure on the high seas, so I went out to the local party store and bought pirate props, including a pirate mask, a treasure chest, edible gold coins (a treat for the players afterwards) and used the Weapons and Warriors Pirate Battle Game set as a prop. I'll include pictures too.
I was THIS CLOSE >< to buying an inflatable parrot. Don’t push me, I’ll do it!
Ahem. Anyway, this was probably the most insane, over the top, Indiana Jones style game we’ve played in awhile. The writing was a bit too florid for my tastes, but the action was spot on and more than once the players thought their characters were in mortal danger. Calactyte had a tougher time because he’s the lowest level, but Bijoux did fantastic—her gliding ability and blood drain saved the day multiple times, including the end. All that, and this was the first time her player ever played D&D.
The adventure was tweaked in several ways. Due to the scaling of the models, the cannon that the PCs are supposed to retrieve ended up being massive; so massive that it would be unrealistic to try to drag it with them. I replaced an Altherian NPC named Khalil with Kham. And I replaced several of the sailors with Baldric, Crazy Bob and Edward, because the trio is collectively far more entertaining.
It’s the most fun I’ve had being a DM in years.
SPOILER ALERT: This adventure is not yet retired, so if you plan to play it you may want to look elsewhere.
Saturday, 21st May, 2005, 01:52 PM #87
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Decimus’ summoning chamber fell silent even as Quintus and his companions clambered up the steps. Their voices faded in the distance. Neither demon nor Sarishan priest nor befuddled adventurer was evident.
The symbols adorning the wall began to glow in a hot purplish hue. The stones rippled, like a pool disturbed by a pebble.
A cat-like humanoid burst through it and rolled to her feet. A thin membrane of flesh ran from her wrists to her waist. She whirled to face her pursuers, quarterstaff at the ready. The glow faded away completely, leaving the wall barren once more. No one followed.
Bijoux’s ears twitched as she her sensitive ears discerned the sounds of the humanoids who had visited her home world.
Bijoux sniffed the ground. The scent was still fresh. There were several: an Elorii and three humans. One was still in the house, upstairs. The others were further away.
And there was something else. Something unnatural. Something infernal.
She sniffed at the summoning circle on the floor. Bijoux wasn’t sure how she had made it through the portal, but she suspected it had to do with the taint of infernal that lingered in the air. She could taste it. And it did not taste good.
Bijoux didn’t know where she was, but she was sure they were the intruders her mentor Clodius had spoken to. He had exhorted her to escape however she could, but the magic Clodius taught her was simply not powerful enough. There wasn’t enough time for Bijoux to learn all of Clodius’ arcane knowledge to save her world. There was never enough time, it seemed.
But perhaps this world, the world of her mentor, would be different.
“Onara,” she said to herself. “Nice to meet you.”
Bijoux swallowed hard and tried to put aside the thought that her world might be no more, that she may well be the last member of her race.
With a silent hop, the fihali glided to the top of the steps and out the door into the night air. Wherever the intruders were who had been so kind to Clodius, she knew her fate lay intertwined with theirs.
Tuesday, 24th May, 2005, 01:25 AM #88
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
The Children of Leviathan - Part 1a: Enter the Heroes
Quintus’ directions led to a narrow unlit back street tucked between several shops to a small villa with a high, ivy-covered brick wall. The wall was set with an open iron-wrought gate. Light from a lantern in the inner courtyard poured through to illuminate the small street.
Vlad passed through the lighted gateway into the illumination of the lone lantern, hanging above a table cloistered at the far end of the courtyard. Three men were seated at the table. Their stoic faces turned as Vlad approach.
He recognized one of the men as Quintus Aurelius Ignatius, a signifer of the Legion of the Triumphant Rays of the Invisible Sun. The other two were Milandisians of late middle age. Both of the Milandisians had well groomed hair and steely gray eyes, a sure sign that they were Val.
Quintus stood to greet Vlad. “I’m glad you two could make it,” he said with a terse smile.
“Two?” said Vlad.
Ilmarė stepped out of the darkness.
“Oh,” said Vlad. The Elorii’s stealthy entrances and exits took some getting used to.
“I am here at the behest of Sir Dymitr Ludwik val’Holryn,” he nodded to the officious looking Val on his left. “And this is Captain Bezyli val’Osson of Naernaath.” Both men bowed their heads in greeting.
Quintus sat down and it was Dymitr’s turn to rise. “You’ll forgive me if I come right to the point. I’ve put out feelers for mercenaries, but Aurelius has convinced me that people of your particular skills might be better suited for the task at hand. Please,” he waved at the bench before him, “make yourselves comfortable.”
Quintus had used his first name with Dymitr, which explained just how familiar the man was with the legionnaire. Which was to say, not very much at all.
They sat as Dymitr continued. “Some days ago, a certain Mhyrcian ship laden with a secret cargo was bound for Naeraanth, but did not dock as expected, nor has it been seen since. This vessel was commissioned by the Milandisian government to deliver its cargo and a specialist passenger relevant to the load. The craft’s disappearance has caused quite a stir and it is believed that the vessel was attacked by pirates, her cargo and crew seized…or worse.”
“Ambassadors argue and scheme even now in this city, but the relevance of the ship’s whereabouts and the return of her freight are paramount. I for one do not intend to sit idly by and let my nation’s property and valuable secrets fall into the hands of thieving mongrels while politicians debate to no avail.”
“Let me guess,” said Ilmarė. “You want us to retrieve the cargo with Captain Bezyli here.”
“Yes,” said Dymitr. He put one hand on the shoulder of Captain Bezyli. “This task is dangerous. You would be putting yourselves at the mercy of hostile natives and environs, but I assure you, our intelligence is credible. I have never seen a more capable captain as Bezyli.”
Vlad leaned forward. “We’d be happy to—“
“No,” said Ilmarė, crossing her arms.
“What?” asked Vlad.
“You heard me. I said no. The crew shouldn’t have been carrying that precious cargo in the first place. Now you want us to clean up your stupid human mess? We’re on a much more important mission anyway.”
Dymitr sputtered. “I ask for professionals and this is what you bring me?” he snapped at Quintus. “An elf and a Nierite?”
Vlad stood up. “Excuse me? I’m no Nierite.”
“How do you explain the armor?” said Bezyli. Vlad was wearing the plate armor of a Nierite, a “gift” he had taken from the corpse of one of his opponents. It was unmistakable, even when he painted it black.
Quintus stood up. “Gentlemen, if I can speak to my comrades alone for a moment.”
Bezyli and Dymitr exchanged glances. They wordlessly rose and stepped away from the table.
Quintus leaned forward. “There’s something you should know. The reason I asked you both here is because we know that specialist passenger. It’s Kham.”
Ilmarė rolled her eyes. “Of course it is.”
“So that means it’s blackpowder that was on the ship,” said Vlad.
Quintus nodded. “I’m still trying to find Cassicus. Since the attack the Senator has kept him well hidden. In fact, I suspect my legionnaire duties are an attempt to throw me off the trail. It’s going to take time. Until then, we can afford to look for Kham. Besides, he’s our friend.”
Vlad leaned forward. “I’m in. I owe Kham my life.”
Ilmarė sighed. “Fine. Someone has to save that fool’s neck, if he’s not dead already.”
“Just one thing,” said Vlad. “I need to change out of this armor. I’ll sink like a stone on the open sea.”
“Agreed,” said Quintus. “I’ll arrange it. You are to leave with Captain Bezyli immediately.” He shook hands with Vlad. “He’ll explain more about your route once you board. I wish I could go with you.”
Vlad patted Quintus on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, we’ll find him.”
Ilmarė and Quintus exchanged hushed words as Vlad walked over to the other two men. “We’re in,” he said.
“Excellent,” said Captain Bezyli in clipped tones. His accent was distinctly aristocratic. “We’ll depart shortly.”
Vlad followed the Captain out to the gate. Ilmarė joined him while Quintus and Dymitr returned to the table to continue their discussion. She looked concerned.
“If the three of you will follow me,” said Bezyli. He stood stiffly, with one arm behind his back.
“Three of us?” asked Ilmarė.
“Yes,” said the Captain, arching an eyebrow. “She’s not with you?”
Ilmarė whirled and drew her sword. “Fihali!” she hissed.
Vlad drew his own blade. “One of them must have followed us through the portal!”
Bijoux kept her clawed hands, palms facing them, as she stepped out of the darkness. “Please, I mean no harm,” she said with a slight accent that rolled all of her “r”s. “I was Clodius’ apprentice. I escaped through a gate to this world so that I might save it.”
Ilmarė smirked. “And all this time we’ve been trying to destroy it,” she said, sheathing her weapon. “I’m Ilmarė and this is Vlad. Welcome aboard.”
Captain Bezyli arched both eyebrows. “So if she’s a new addition to your crew and Aurelius isn’t going with you…who was the third member of your party?”
Thursday, 26th May, 2005, 02:31 AM #89
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
The Children of Leviathan - Part 1b: Enter the Heroes
Calactyte found himself in the booming Coryani port of Sulpecci in the province of Cafela, brought by far-ranging rumors of ancient Myrantian ruins laden with splendorous wealth and a sinister sea cult said to scoff boldly at the mighty gunships of Altheria. Cal strode confidently through the Land Gate, assured that adventure, fortune and glory would walk up and prostrate themselves before him. With a city such as Coryani, how could it not?
At least, that’s what he told himself a week ago.
Despite the larger than life claims of prosperity for eager fortune hunters, Sulpecci had failed to deliver. Not that there was a lack of employment for adventuring daredevils…far from it. Many of the tales Cal had heard were well founded. Nevertheless, not everyone was interested in hiring a six foot, ten inch, 300-pound lizard man. He was intimidating even for a Black Talon Ss’ressen and the rising hunger in the pit of his stomach only further detracted from his appearance.
Calactyte had an elongated face akin to that of a lizard, with an enlarged jaw and flaring nostrils. He had no external ears, only a small round hole above and behind his great, cold eyes. He sported a head crest that fanned out along where his ears would be, but it was usually flattened against his skull.
Just as Cal was about to abandon his quest for fame and fortune to head for better parts, a secret messenger contacted him. The man had the scent of gold about him. He spoke of a job that required discretion, a job that would pay handsomely: 20 Imperials just for showing up!
Calactyte expressed his interest. Or perhaps he expressed slathering rage. He had difficulty interacting with humans. The messenger took off before he could explain himself.
So it was with glee that the Ss’ressen greeted the note slid under the hovel he called a room. He unfolded it and stared at the lines on the paper. Then he tucked it into the belt that held up his loincloth.
Hours later, he bumped into an officious looking legionnaire.
“You’re late,” the man said, craning his neck to look up at Cal’s snout. “I didn’t think any other mercenaries were taking this job. Here. Take this to Vlad Martell on the Shrike.” The legionnaire handed him a chainmail shirt.
Cal took the shirt in one claw. “Do I get paid now?”
The legionnaire peered sideways at him. “You get paid 200 Imperials on completion of the mission. Didn’t you read the note?”
“You mean this?” One huge claw pulled out a crumpled piece of paper.
“I can’t read,” Cal said simply.
The legionnaire blinked. “Oh. Well, I’d draw you a map, but you probably can’t read that either.”
Cal shook his head.
“So…let’s make this simple. Can you smell the ocean?”
“Good. Run that way. Look for an Elorii and a cat-person. They’ll be on a ship called the Shrike. The mast has one white arm holding a saber on a red background.”
“Food there?” Cal asked.
The legionnaire took a step back. “I’m sure there is, but…”
The Ss’ressen took off at a run, his long strides easily clearing carts, startled commoners, and a fruit stand.
“I said they HAVE food,” Quintus shouted after him, “they’re not THE food!”
Saturday, 28th May, 2005, 04:03 AM #90
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Attached is a miniature of the Shrike. It's a model from the Weapons & Warriors: Pirate Battle playset.
UPDATE: Here's the version with my shiny blue print out ocean terrain. And less blur.