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Thread: Pharamne's Urn (updated 4/25/12)
Friday, 6th May, 2005, 02:03 AM #31
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Good to see more of this story, of course, but the timing is particuarly useful for me, in a selfish sort of way. This story (and a few others here) have been the inspiration for how I have come to perceive epic-level play (an innovation I resisted strenuously from the first day I opened the ELH in my local bookshop). I came to realize that if you look beyond the fairly nonsensical epic rules, epic play can allow for a new level of drama as heroes become truly the shapers of worlds. The cost seems to be an insane level of bookkeeping, as character sheets approach the status of novellas in their own right...
Now as my own SH approaches that crazy realm populated by L20+ characters, I look forward to more inspiration. In particular, Sep (and Blackdirge) have greatly shaped how I regard epic-level antagonists. I especially look forward to hearing how things with Big G worked out, whether told through flashback or through the development on ongoing events.
LBLazybones's Story Hour Threads:
Can a rag-tag band of heroes save the Earth from alien invasion? Find out in my X-COM story.
My foray into 4th edition is Lazybones's Keep on the Shadowfell/Thunderspire Labyrinth. Characters here.
Can a band of condemned prisoners survive the horrors of Rappan Athuk? Find out in the Doomed Bastards. Characters here.
Visit the Shackled City, from the pages of Dungeon magazine. Characters here.
Wander the forgotten byways of Faerûn in Travels through the Wild West:
Books I and II, Book III (the Isle of Dread), Book IV, and the final thread, Books V-VIII. Characters here.
D&D fiction, adventures, NWN modules, and other stuff at my web page.
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Friday, 6th May, 2005, 03:50 PM #32
Had to read through again. I do believe you are correct.Originally Posted by tleilaxu
I'll be over in the corner, shaking my head and looking stun-gun stupid.
This story hour is the coolest.
Friday, 6th May, 2005, 08:39 PM #33
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
What does that have to do with the Queen presumably being Ortwin?Originally Posted by tleilaxu
Though I did miss the signifigance of the kid in my first read....
Joe Mucchiello, Head Honcho at Throwing Dice Games (Mostly defunct)
Priority One: Fatherhood.
Priority Two: Sanity.
Down on the list: seemingly real close to releasing a notebook essential. Haven't looked at it in... years? How did years go by?
"I've never heard of the term Flavor lawyer..." -- Scribble
Friday, 6th May, 2005, 10:53 PM #34
Very excellent to see you writing again, Sep -- and I'm also pleased with the format -- you get to both start up where the game currently is -- or, well, closer! -- but still retain your style. Terribly glad you're planning on doing brief but common updating, and I hope it makes you happier to do things that way, as it certainly makes all of us happy to be reading again.
Books used last session DM'ing: 4E PHB, MM. Playing: Wraith: the Oblivion
Murmuur smiled sadly. "We are forever lost, Ahma. Do you not yet understand?"
Dream-Not-Dream: Iterating. A new SH for a new take on a very strange game. Updated 6-14-08.
Friday, 6th May, 2005, 11:01 PM #35
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
nothing.Originally Posted by jmucchiello
however, i do think that the queen is the demigoddess (forget the name off the top of my head)
have you ever retired a human by mistake?
Saturday, 7th May, 2005, 05:50 AM #36
Simply spine tingling. Great to have Wyre back, the absence only makes the return sweeter.
"I'm off to see what an 18 Charisma is worth 'under the hood'" Haley, Order of the Stick.
Saturday, 7th May, 2005, 04:57 PM #37
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate and Sense Motive. Mostin still hadn't developed an epic spell to penetrate a mind blank. These skills enjoy a brief renaissance.
Execution and Parley.
“We should try again,” Eadric groaned. He was exhausted: interrogating devils was tedious, unrewarding work. He stared hard at Ortwin – now Ortwine – and shifted uncomfortably. His adjustment to his (former?) friend’s recent femininity continued to be difficult, and had proceeded in an intermittent fashion as revelations spasmodically shaped his perception. Her hauteur seemed genuine, even when directed towards him. Although prior manifestations of Ortwin had seldom been prone to honestly emote, and had never revealed the true extent of his feelings on any matter, to the Ahma’s recollection. Coupled with the scant contact that he and the Sidhe had had with one another, Eadric knew that he did not know this creature. At all.
She seemed asexual, which was the most bizarre and implausible change from Eadric’s view. Overt sexuality was not, apparently, Ortwin/e’s defining characteristic. The essence was something else. An expression of some other truth, which Eadric could not grasp.
And her wit, Eadric quailed internally. A little caustic, perhaps, as Nwm had drily remarked. It was a snare; a wire with vicious hooks, which dripped contempt. So precise. So erudite. She seemed to know everything. She was tapped in to something much bigger, with which in every successive incarnation, Ortwine had become more identified. What would she become next? He wondered. What was more Fae than a Sidhe-Queen? He shuddered.
Ortwin had craved a kingdom, and Ortwine – now in possession of one – enjoyed her spoils with an easy display of ancient majesty. A quality which might take half-a-century for a mortal ruler to develop, seemed to be her natural demeanour. It was impossible to determine whether it was an affectation, or not.
Every time she died, she returned with increasing potency. Nwm brought her back. He would always bring her back. And if Nwm died, who would bring the Druid back? Teppu? Nehael? Mesikämmi? If any of them died, would they come back stronger? It was a truth, an aspect of the Viridity. Absorb and transform. Deify the mundane. Death into life. The perfect expression of the Green, which arose – or such was Nwm’s contention – in inevitable response to other influences. For Saizhan, it presented neither a conflict nor a congruence.
“Are the trolls of mysticism mustering for another attack on your enfeebled preconceptions, Ahma?” Ortwine read his mood accurately. “Should we banish them with fly-swats?”
“I like you better as a goat,” Eadric replied.
“Then we must be grateful that you are not consulted in the matter,” Ortwine smiled. “Time is precious to me, Ahma. I would prefer that dreary obligations are resolved quickly. We should simply kill one.”
Eadric leaned on Lukarn, his gauntleted fists gripping the crosspiece, resting his whole weight upon the point of the blade. He stretched up onto his toes.
Next to him, Ortwine sat on a low wooden stool. She looked only mildly interested.
"Which paradigm will prove the ascendant, I wonder?" The Ahma mused.
Titivilus said nothing.
Eadric raised an eyebrow. "Your silence is unnerving. It seems to run counter to the natural order of things."
"Which one?" Ortwine asked. "I confess that Titivilus is my favourite – his manner is smooth, and I appreciate the efforts he makes towards presenting an agreeable social face. Furcus is haughty, but I respect his mind. Murmuur is somewhat dull, and lacks any feature which deserves to be preserved; but he is a soldier, and the least conniving and manipulative. Is he the most good, do you think?"
"I could cut you down," Eadric sighed. He turned to Murmuur and Furcas. "Each of you in turn. It would bring the wards down, but still, none of you would survive long enough to react before your deaths. Nor could you intervene in each other's demise."
Eadric stared at Murmuur: of the Dukes he alone, the Ahma knew, could be read. The glibness possessed by Furcas and Titivilus was impenetrable.
The possibility of an emotion passed across the devil’s eyes. Murmuur immediately knew that his thought had been perceived. And he knew that Eadric was not lying.
"And it would be a just punishment,” Eadric continued. “I have the right to administer it."
Ortwine sat, apparently nonplussed. "What happens to the estate of an Infernal Duke, while he is in captivity? Are his possessions redistributed amongst other devils in his absence, or held in fief by his master until his return? How much fear do you each feel, now? Does the prospect of annihilation fill you with dread, or do you anticipate a blessed release from your miserable lot? Perhaps an iota of your essence will remain, tormented in some yet deeper Hell by fiends to whom you appear the merest of shadows. Perhaps Oronthon will welcome the memory and remnant of your spirits back into his bosom. Or will the ancient, formless evil of the Abyss swallow you in unbeing? These are questions which intrigue me, and I have never before had the opportunity to voice them to any who might know."
Murmuur’s spittle fizzled against the invisible barrier.
"You doubt my sincerity?" Eadric asked.
The Ahma turned, and with two swift strokes felled Furcas, advisor to the Archfiend Dispater, and respected for aeons as one of Hell's most effective intellectual weapons. As the Duke crumpled, Ortwine leapt forward with blinding speed and seized him by the neck. She quickly drew a dagger of purified silver, and thrust deep into the devil’s waiting throat. Ichor spilled over her. She tossed the corpse to the ground in a perfunctory manner.
"We are at war," Eadric grimaced, ignoring Murmuur and turning to the Nuncio of Dis. "This is no longer a parlour game, Titivilus. Archetypes are slain in our times, and new ones born. And I am not benign, Titivilus. I am wrathful. I am the Ahma. Do you understand?"
"Given the circumstances, a certain degree of cooperation might prove sensible," Titivilus conceded. "But I require guarantee of my release after I have testified, and assurances that you will not subsequently harass me."
Eadric furrowed his brow and stared hard at Titivilus. But his consciousness was turned towards Murmuur, alert to signs which could be read.
"If I were to allow anything other than self-interest to inform my behaviour when my existence is threatened, I would be a traitor to my principles," Titivilus smiled. "In the final analysis, survival is the preferable route, and the court of Pazuzu is quite welcoming, I hear. Do not be alarmed – I have fallen out of favour before; a millennium or two passes, and I wheedle my way back in again. My eccentricities are forgiven in the face of my scheming brilliance."
"Forgiven?" Eadric asked.
"Overlooked might be a better word for you," Titivilus smiled. "Although, from my perspective, they amount to the same thing. I must also insist that you slay Murmuur before I co-operate. I can allow no witnesses to our exchange."
Eadric shook his head. "I will retain Murmuur as a safeguard against your duplicity. If you prove faithless, I will release him to inform your masters of your conduct, and to seek whatever revenge he deems appropriate."
"You have grown cruel, Eadric," Titivilus smirked. "There is hope for you yet."
"Your attempts at badinage bore me, devil," the Ahma sighed.
“The fiend has a point,” Ortwin said. “Or half-a-point.”
"This is intolerable," Waide snapped. "You would abide beyond the Claviger's purview, but seek aid therein when it is convenient for you? Any one of us could establish ourselves outside of Wyre, but by choosing not to, we demonstrate our solidarity. But you persist in your conjurations on the very borders."
"I reside in Shomei's former home…" Mostin began.
"Infrequently," Waide objected.
"For once, I concur with Waide," Daunton sighed. "Your contribution is greatly missed. Commit yourself to a shared enterprise, Mostin. Information is beginning to flow freely between us, for the first time in ten generations."
"My present undertaking makes this an unlikely prospect," Mostin glared. "The Enforcer would terminate me."
"Your right to call an Assembly will not be universally recognized," Daunton observed. "Many will not come, if only to irritate you." He looked pointedly at Waide.
"Then I will speak to the Wyrish Wizards as an outsider," Mostin said sourly. "An embassy, if you will. You will issue the call, Daunton."
"Do not indulge him," Waide hissed. "Such an act would force me – and many others – to ignore you. You would cause a rift, Daunton."
"Waide," Mostin almost screeched, "if you were anywhere else, anywhere within a billion other cosmoi, then I would blast you for your pig-ignorance and show you what transmutation really means."
"But you cannot," Daunton smiled. "Isn't that, in itself, worth something to you?"
"Yes," Mostin said, gesturing irritably, "but it is not worth everything to me. You must be reflexive, or what you have built will atrophy and die. I will make a concession, however, to demonstrate my commitment to the Wyrish experiment."
"I doubt there is anything which would impress," Waide said.
"I will make Shomei's library freely available," Mostin replied. "On a reference-only basis, of course. No tomes will be removed from the property. And I believe there is a clause regarding theft between wizards in the Injunction."
"You are outrageous!" Waide said indignantly. "Your right to that inheritance is contested, in any case."
"The library is mine, and I will vigorously defend it against any claim to the contrary," Mostin said with narrowed eyes. "So it's settled then? The bribe is sufficiently large?"
"From my perspective, more than adequate," Daunton sighed pragmatically. "And I doubt any Wizard would decline your request in light of such an offer."
"Waide?" Mostin asked drily. "I hope you don't intend to abandon your magical peers on such a momentous occasion?"
"No," Waide replied, "any more than you would seek to exclude Rimilin from such a gathering. I believe he also maintains a temporary residence in Morne."
"Quite," Mostin said through gritted teeth.
"Do I detect the stench of another rivalry, Mostin?" Waide asked sarcastically.
At that moment, Mostin considered whether to disintegrate Waide, although it would have meant his own, inevitable demise at the hands of the Enforcer. Turning red, he mastered himself with difficulty.
"Perhaps you are not the heir apparent, after all," Waide added.
Mostin twitched, and smiled madly. "We can accomplish great things together Waide…"
"NO!" Waide spat. "What you mean to say is 'I, Mostin the Metagnostic can accomplish great things with your aid.' You would attempt to corral every Wizard in Wyre into some ritual for your edification, not for the elevation of magic or understanding. I will not be your lackey in a cabal which serves your own, deranged agenda. Don't think that I don't understand your motive in this. You wish to bind Graz'zt."
"Amongst other things. And if we don't do it first, he will be invoked by the Cult of Cheshne."
"I will not be drawn into a religious conflict."
"The distinction you seek to make is irrelevant," Mostin retorted.
"It is the Law of the Injunction."
"Within Wyre, yes. I do not suggest that we act within Wyre."
"You would be a magical dictator, who acts without restraint beyond a sanctuary, and would cower in it when threatened? This is not acceptable to me."
Mostin paused. Waide had a good point, although he didn't see the bigger picture. He breathed slowly.
"If assurances were made – inviolable contracts which protected the interests of every wizard involved – would you be philosophically opposed to participating in a ritual which could be demonstrated to…"
"With you at the helm? Never."
"You are ignorant, Waide."
"I suggest arbitration," Daunton said slyly. "We could appeal to the Claviger."
"This is beyond the Claviger's purview," Waide and Mostin said in chorus.
"Exactly," Daunton smiled. "The Claviger has no interest in the outcome of this dispute. Hence, it would be the ideal arbiter."
"You suggest asking for advice from the Claviger?" Waide laughed.
"In a manner of speaking," Daunton nodded. "But its judgment would have to be binding."
"But it could not use the Enforcer in pursuance of such an arrangement."
"I am suggesting that you abide by its decision," Daunton replied. "Nothing else. Or have we all forgotten the ability to act with civility unless threatened with annihilation?"
"It has been a long time since I have not been threatened with annihilation," Mostin said sourly. "But I'm unsure if we could present a case in intelligible terms. Most of my conflict with Waide stems from the fact that he is loathsome."
"Our mutual hatred transcends any rational compromise," Waide nodded. "However, I will not be branded as the one who refused the advice of the Claviger. I will agree to its decision."
"As will I," Mostin quickly backtracked.
"It may demand certain concessions," Daunton said carefully. "Are you sure that you are prepared to accept that possibility?"
"Naturally," Mostin answered. Concessions? He thought. "But I would like to address the Assembly first, to see if some other route cannot be found."
"Good luck," Waide said snidely.
"Where, and when?" Daunton asked.
"In three days, at my manse outside of Morne," Mostin replied smoothly. "In my library."
Waide bristled silently.
Saturday, 7th May, 2005, 05:25 PM #38
Sep, thank you SO much for this update.
I read your post about the fatigue you're feeling and I completely understand. I guess that it was something I was always afraid of in the back of my mind as it's obvious that this is a huge undertaking that you've "committed" yourself to and there was always the chance the it would become too much to handle on top of everything else in your life. It's definitely a huge time drain.
I know that I, and the rest of your rabid fans, greatly appreciate all the time and effort you've poured into sharing this great story hour with us. I don't have anything to offer that wasn't already said in that other thread but I'm very thankful that you've decided to stick with providing us with updates. I'm happy for whatever you feel like sharing, whenever you do.
I think that it's fine to provide a summary post to catch up to more current events or to go the route you seem to be i.e. to refer to things in a backstory, and it's certainly better than deciding to do away with your tale. Although I'm sure everyone would have understood and been thankful for everything else, I know that we'd all have been hugely disappointed to have things come to an end.
So thanks for everything again Sep and it's great to have you b ack!
Last edited by Jumbie; Saturday, 7th May, 2005 at 05:35 PM.
Saturday, 7th May, 2005, 05:40 PM #39
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally Posted by Sepulchrave II
WOW! Eadric and friends must have gotten some SERIOUS XP from the great battle. Taking down a major devil like he was a mook.... Elegant text as always, it really is a pleasure to read.
"We are all Individuals! They chanted in unison...
The Chronicle of Burne, and Some Others of Lesser Importance - The Very Funny Story of my Tuesday Campaign
Shilsen's Saturday Story Hour - If Shilsen is broken, what does that make his Campaign?
Saturday, 7th May, 2005, 07:11 PM #40
Novice (Lvl 1)
Wow. I am so amazingly thrilled to see the return of this story in one form or another. Wow.
I must say I would be tempted to use a story-telling method to dispatch Furcas, given that normally it is so difficult for combat to be resolved so quickly and dramatically (in my experience). Perhaps in the more mechanical thread can be discussed the means?
As climactic as the battles from the previous incarnation of the SH were, it appears they were mere signposts pointing the way for something yet to come. The Sela in preparation for battle, bearing a celestial weapon of surely no small potency? Demiplanes rejoining and abridging? Archdukes of Hell slain? Graz'zt shuttered in fear? The Adversary (or his avatar?) walking Wyre?
what a ride - perhaps a hellride - it's going to be
"The DM will do a lot of talking, but if he’s not rolling the dice then what he’s saying is probably not important."
- DM of the Rings
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