Flynn's World of Samardan - Sword and Planet Action in an Exotic World (Updated 6/11)


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    Flynn's World of Samardan - Sword and Planet Action in an Exotic World (Updated 6/11)

    Hi everyone!

    Flynn, who you may recognize as a poster on the boards, is running a new campaign called World of Samardan.

    World of Samardan is set in a Sword and Planet type setting, inspired by the writings of Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter of Mars), Ken Bulmer (Dray Prescot series), and others. Heroes transported from another land, brave and dramatic actions, rumors of dark magics, and strange and dangerous beasts are all things to expect in Samardan.

    With Flynn's permission, I will be posting his session summaries he writes to this thread. You can also find his session summaries on his blog at http://samardan.blogspot.com/ .

    For this campaign Flynn is using his Universal Concepts System, a custom Grim Tales based system which is based on combination of d20 Modern and d20 standard. It is easy and fast for anyone familiar with d20 or d20 modern system to pick up.

    We are looking for a couple more players to fill out the gaming table, so let Flynn or I know if you are in the Austin area and find yourself interested in the game after reading some of these posts.

    Thanks!
    - Stormwynd
    Last edited by Stormwynd; Sunday, 11th June, 2006 at 08:50 PM. Reason: Date updated

 

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    Session Synopsis: Saving the Citizens of Sulpesh

    by Jason 'Flynn' Kemp

    One moment, Sargeant Bryce Taggart of Her Majesty's Royal Armed Forces set a charge that would destroy himself as well as hundreds of attacking rebels. Then the blue light called, transforming into a crimson light that surrounded him and bore him to another time and another place.

    In the wartorn streets of Lithuania of 1945, Jonas Solomonas charged from the alley of blood into the Red Army of Russia that lay siege to their small village. The bullets flew, and then the blue light called. Jonas was taken to someplace else, to somewhen else.

    Awakening under the light of a full silvery moon and a quarter red moon above, two men sat up in the jungle with a start. A crimson bird-like form shifted in the trees overhead, as it eyed the two expectantly. Naked and unarmed, the warriors from Earth began to talk in their native language of English, but just after introductions were made, the cries of a child broke the air as something charged through the jungle not far from their position. A flash of scarlet into the trees marked the red reptilian-bird's flight in the direction of the cries.

    Instinctively, Taggart took off running through the underbrush, with Jonas immediately behind. In a small clearing ahead, the two encountered a most unwelcome sight: two yellow-skinned warriors were using a club to beat a small child into unconsciousness. As Jonas distracted one of the warriors, Taggart rushed forth and knocked the other out with a well-placed right hook. Jonas whipped out the fallen warrior's scimitar and brought the fight to the second yellow-skinned warrior. Between the two naked Earthmen, they dropped the slaving raider fairly quickly, escaping relatively unharmed. As the two fought, the sounds of battle in the distance rang through the vegetation, hinting at further troubles not far away.

    The child could not understand English, but managed to convince them through gestures that others needed their help. The Earthmen stopped only to load up quickly on some equipment, before approaching the site of the other battle. Nearing the edge of the wood, Taggart and Jonas spied a band of the yellow-skinned warriors surrounding a group of captured villagers, as a red-skinned demon of a man stalked back and forth, obviously lecturing the new slaves on their insolence. Acting in unison, Taggart and Jonas charged the whip-tailed "demon", laying him out before anyone else could react with a combined assault of scimitar and fist.

    With that, the fight was on. As one brave lass rose to assist the two Earthmen by taking on one of the yellow-skinned warriors, Taggart attempted to hold the unconscious and dying leader as a hostage, while Jonas moved to another warrior and engaged him in combat. One of the guards attempted to threaten one of the captured women, while others charged either Taggart or Jonas. Working quickly, the two Earthmen turned the tables, taking down the remaining guards, ending with the one that had been wrestling with the brave woman from the crowd. Sadly, one escaped into the night.

    Thankful for the Earthmen's interference, the local village Pansanu (or lord) Sabotar ne Sulpesh greeted their saviors the villagers, and invited them through gestures to follow. The two adventurers escorted their wounded back to the village of Sulpesh, where they were taken in by a priestly fellow, Sen (or learned master) Lobabaran.

    Over the course of three weeks, the two Earthmen learned the local language piecemeal, and worked with the villagers. They learned of this strange new world of Samardan, with its 32 hour long days and its four moons. They learned that the yellow-skinned guards with the long black ponytails are called the piljanani, just as humans are called umani. They learned that the red-skinned "demons" are just another race of mortal beings, vile and sadistic slavemasters, known as the kelshani. They learned of these slavers that raided this island every full silver moon, and how these raiders perhaps held an alliance with an enemy village on the other side of the island. They learned from the brave lass Baganaba ne Vasha that she and her guninba (lady), Deloba, has survived their ship crashing off the coast here a month before, and that the slavers had taken Deloba in the last raid. Baganaba was intent on following the raiders in the hopes of rescuing the lady Deloba, and when she discovered the Earthmen had plans to seek out the enemy village and learn more about the raiders, she jumped at the chance to join them.

    As the heroes set out on the morning six days before the next full silver moon (Rajatba, or the Silver Maiden), the woman-warrior Baganaba in their company, Jonas looked up, to see their red watcher flying overhead, heading off in the direction of the enemy village. Taking it as an unusual omen, the small band entered into the jungle, on their way to the raider's port...

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    Character backstory: Jonas Solomonas

    by Stormwynd

    My parents and I left Lithuania when I was very young, too young to remember anything substantial. I assume because they wanted a better life and heard about opportunities in the United States from our cousins who had already moved there. My parents packed many of their belongings, gave to family or sold what we could not take, and we left for America.

    We settled in Chicago's Little Lithuania, near the intersection of Marquette Road and Western Avenue on the city's southwest side, where some family had come years before. I attended school in the United States and learned English, while my parents and cousins kept the language and traditions of home alive.

    Those were good times: family and friends together, growing up in a mix of American and Lithuanian culture. There were good times and bad times, but the good times were worth dealing with the bad times.

    I was greatly influenced by seeing crime be such a problem in Chicago during my youth, so I decided to become a cop after school. I applied to the academy and was accepted, which was probably due to luck as much as to my lack of an Lithuanian accent when speaking English.

    On graduation day from the academy, I was approached by a solemn man claiming to represent the federal government. One of my instructors (well, the one instructor who actually liked me) had passed my name along because he knew I was fluent in Lithuanian. Apparently the federal government was forming a new intelligent unit, the Office of Strategic Services, and my instructor was good friends with a recruiting agent.

    The OSS was worried about rumors of German and Russian intelligence activity in Lithuania. Nazi Germany was becoming more and more belligerent, and the Communist Russians were extending their influence further and further west. They needed more information about activity in Lithuania, people on the ground collecting basic intelligence.

    They were interested in me because I spoke both Lithuanian and English fluently and with the right accent, and I knew the customs so I would fit in well. By coincidence, my family had also received word that our grandmother who had stayed behind in Lithuania was ill, which the OSS already knew about. My cover would be returning to Lithuania to care for Grandma, while I would work among laborers who would be likely targets for recruitment by German and Russian agents. I was young and wanted to help change the world, so I accepted.

    After training, I returned to Lithuania and moved into an apartment near Grandma, helping the extended family care for her. I also became a laborer, listening for news of Nazi or Communist organizers. Communist activity was apparently on the increase, and I passed information on to my local OSS contact.

    Things were going smoothly until June 15th, 1940: the Russians invaded and occupied Lithuania, replacing the government with a Communist puppet regime. Later we found out that Germany and Russia had signed a non-aggression pact and had divided Europe between themselves. My OSS contact was either killed in the fighting or by Communist agents, but my cover was apparently still good because I lived.

    I eventually fell in with the resistance as a member of the Lithuanian Activist Front. We fought several guerrilla skirmishes with Red Army troops, and once we even freed a group of fellow resistance fighters from a Communist prison. Well, freed the ones that had not been tortured to death already.

    Then things changed completely again: On June 22, 1941, Germany attacked Russia. The resistance took advantage of this distraction and rallied partisan support in many cities, even taking control of them and declaring Lithuanian independence once again.

    Unfortunately the Germans had other plans. They took control of the government and started rounding up laborers and shipping them to Germany to act as forced labor, and killing Jews by the scores. The resistance now became an anti-Nazi resistance, fighting the German occupiers and hoping the Allies would free us so Lithuania could be independent once more.

    I was part of a small resistance cell outside of Klaipeda, where we mostly harassed German troops and supply convoys. One day I received word that my friend Abraham Gurwitsch has been rounded up with other Jews by an SS death squad. Unwisely we attacked the squad and freed most of the prisoners, though we lost several of our own people.

    In 1944 Germany's weakness was apparent, and thus the Soviets started to invade Lithuania once again. We were fighting the Germans and the Russians both, and the chaos was unending. Here I was, a cop playing agent playing laborer playing resistance fighter, fighting two armies that were smashing into one another.

    In January of 1945, the Red Army attacked Klaipeda. We tried to fight the Russians as the Germans retreated, but we were vastly outnumbered and out gunned. My cell was eventually pinned down in the alleyways, chased by Red Army troops. I yelled to my comrades to run and keep going, and I turned and faced the pursuing Communists. After hiding behind some rubble, I screamed madly and fired randomly towards the troops.

    The last thing I remember is massive pain, followed by darkness and an approaching bright light.

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    Session Synopsis: The Fall of Anderwan

    by Jason 'Flynn' Kemp

    In the Year Of Our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Fourteen, Father Daniel Karemalagos fell to a bullet in the brainpan as he fought to defend the women and children he'd been protecting. It was with a sharp pop and a general numbness that the light called, and the warrior-turned-priest answered.

    The Earthman priest awoke within the jungle of a far-away place, populated by beasts he'd never seen before. Before he could get his bearings and find something with which to clothe himself, Daniel heard the far-off cries of a woman and child, fearing for their lives. As he approached, he bore witness to the rapid destruction of the mother's defenders. A small band of people had attracted the attentions of a hungry pack of tori (si. tor, a small, feathered, agile and slender bird-like creature with an up-curved skull and large sickle-shaped claws on the hyperextendible second toe of each foot).

    Even as Daniel joined the fray, the woman fell, and the large smith that protected them shouted for the boy to flee. When all of the others had fallen, Daniel chose to remain on the better side of valor and fled the scene, looking for the boy that now wandered the jungles alone. Once he had located the boy Bejan, Daniel led the boy to a river and began following it downstream, hoping to find civilization and a place that would take the child in and shelter him.

    Not far away, the band of adventurers from Sulpesh began to encounter others, refugees from the village of Anderwan, where the slavers of House Grasin had struck in the middle of the previous night. From speaking with the refugees, Bryce and Jonas gathered that the entire island had been attacked due to their interference with the previous month's slavers at Sulpesh. This renewed the Earthmen's desire to take out the slavers and free the trapped people of both villages. One of the evacuees took a liking to the group, and so the small band gained a new recruit, a large dullard named Karukuja the Axe.

    As the band followed the banks of a river leading into the depths of the island, they came to a small bend where more Anderwani were attempting to ford the river. On the other side of this group, Daniel and Bejan came upon the same sight. Both groups were shocked to see a dasaris (dinosaur) emerged from the brush, followed by another one. As the refugees screamed and pushed into the water, the two dinosaurs surged forward, to make quick snacks of two humans from the rear of the group.

    Bryce rushed forward to assist the poor villagers suffering from the attacks of the foul dinosaurs, while Jonas moved to a clearer position and began loosing arrows into the first beast's hide. As Naganaba and Karukuja followed Bryce into battle against the first beast, Daniel charged the other from his own vantage point. The villagers fled as the two teams worked together to help bring the beasts down. A most savage onslaught from the second dinosaur almost dropped Daniel. Less fortunate than the new Earthman, Baganaba fell under the dino's next onslaught. Concerned for the fallen lass, Bryce threw himself into the second beast, and together with Daniel and Jonas, the three dropped the last of the dinosaurs.

    After introductions were made all around, and Daniel found himself among other Earthmen once again, the conversation turned first towards thoughts of Samardan being a form of Purgatory, then to the matters at hand. Daniel released Bejan into the care of the villagers, so that he might join the other Earthmen in their fight against the slavers attacking the island.

    The afternoon wound long as the group moved through the jungle, avoiding any further entanglements, and by dusk the group found themselves on the outskirts of the township of Anderwan. Spying a small unit of piljanani, the group stealthily worked their way into a position close by, and then launched an assault on the four armed slavers. Without a kelshan leader, the slavers took immediately to scimitars against the attacking band. The attack was swift and decisive. In the end, four piljanani lay dead, and the two native Samardan of the Earthmen's band lay wounded, with Daniel fairing not much better.

    Rifling the bodies, the band took what they needed from their fallen foes. Hiding the corpses within a nearby house, the five weary freedom fighters entered another abandoned home to seek shelter and rest for the night...

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    Character Stat Block: Jonas Solomonas at 4th level

    Jonas Solomonas CR 4
    male Human Strong Hero 2/Fast Hero 2
    medium humanoid [Human]
    Init +4 (+4 Dex)
    Languages English, Lithuanian, Russian, German, Trade
    Allegiances Good (Freedom for Others), Organization (Lithuanian Resistance)
    Action Points 7; Reputation +0

    AC 22 (+4 chain shirt, +4 Dex, +4 class), touch 18, flat-footed 18
    hp 31 (4d8+8 HD); Mas 14, Dying -9, Dead -14
    Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +0

    Speed 30 ft.
    Attacks
    Melee sap +3 melee (1d6+1), or scimitar +3 melee (1d6+1/crit 18-20), or dagger +3 melee (1d4+1/crit 19-20), or unarmed strike +3 melee (1d3+1)
    Ranged dagger +8 ranged (1d4/crit 19-20), or shortbow +8 ranged (1d6/crit x3)
    Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
    BAB +3; Grp +3
    Combat Gear Chain shirt, Shortbow, Arrows (40), Scimitar, Sap, Dagger, Clothing

    Abilities Str 11, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 10
    Feats Weapon Group (Personal Firearms), Weapon Group(Archery), Weapon Group (Bladesman), Armor Proficiency (Light, Medium, Heavy), Shield Proficiency, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Weapon Focus (Personal Firearms), Quick Draw
    Skills Knowledge (local) +9 (7+2 Int), Craft (mechanical) +3 (1+2 Int), Profession (cop) +5 (5+0 Wis), Gather Information +11 (7+0 Wis+4 synergy), Spot +4 (4+0 Wis), Tumble +11 (7+4 Dex), Sleight of Hand +6 (2+4 Dex), Hide +7 (3+4 Dex), Move Silently +7 (3+4 Dex), Balance +6 (0+4 Dex+2 synergy), Jump +2 (0+0 Str+2 synergy)
    Talents Melee Smash, Ranged Accuracy 1

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    Session Synopsis: And Aidan Makes Four...

    by Jason 'Flynn' Kemp

    In the Year of our Lord Fifteen Hundred and Eighty-Six, Captain Aidan Conner's last memories of Earth lie with him under a burning beam, as the children he fought desparately to save fled the burning orphanage in safety. Though he passed in horrid physical pain, he found some spiritual solace in the fact that the four children he'd rescued made it out alive, and were not trapped as he was within the foyer of the burning manse. Then the light called, swift and crimson, pulling at the former sailor and drawing him to another time and place...

    Aidan awoke with a slave's cage, lying next to a pox-ridden almond-eyed man weakened from a recent illness. The others in the cage were, at this particular moment, breaking free and charging the guards. Springing into action, Aidan tumbled his way through the cage and beyond, to assist in fighting the wretched yellow-skinned slavers whom he later discovered were called piljanani. As the first wave of guards fell, many of the freed slaves fled, while others began to free others trapped in similar cages not too far away. Aidan noted that no one attempted to aid the diseased man, so the Earthman consigned his fate to the Hand of God, and scooped the almond-eyed man onto his shoulder. Running with the others, Aidan fled into the jungle and found refuge with a small band of escapees in the jungles outside the coastal village.

    There, he did not find rest or solace, but instead found anger and exile given by the hand of a man calling himself Stirsadan ne Anderwan. Taking the almond-eyed patient, ostracized presumably for being of another race or for being diseased, into his arms, Aidan struck out in the woods, following the trail of a crimson bird-like creature that circled overhead and then flew off in a northerly direction.

    It was only a short time later before Aidan encountered the first English speakers he'd found since he'd awakened on this strange new world. The two Earthmen, Father Daniel Karamalegos and Jonas Solomonas, were excited to find another "recruit", and offered Aidan an opportunity to join them as they returned to their small group, now waiting in a farmer's hovel outside of town.

    En route, the three discussed their Earthly origins, and Jonas and Daniel spoke of their own adventures in Anderwan that morning. The group had arrived in Anderwan the night before, and only had one encounter during the night with the mercenaries now holding the township. That morning, their comrade Bryce Taggart had escorted their two local comrades to a safer location, while Jonas and Daniel stealthily entered the township in search of further information.

    In the town, the two spied a few renegades hiding in the shadows and alleyways. Jonas made contact with one, an enterprising youth named Jananlan, who apparently led a small gang of boyish ruffians. From Jananlan, the two learned quite a bit of information. Apparently, the Master Slaver Arunblad Grasin (brother to the Lord of House Grasin) led this particular expedition from the ship in which they arrived. Master Grasin had sent a disanadar (a small flying ship) over the island that morning to lay waste to the small fishing village of Sulpesh, while the remainder of their forces gathered the last of the Anderwan refugees in preparation for loading them on the slaver's ship. The boy told the two that about half of the mercenary forces had been taken out, as well as some of the slavers, so the invaders remained close to their ship. Young Jananlan felt that they'd all probably fall into chaos and leave if someone killed off Master Grasin, but he wisely wasn't going to pursue that course of action himself. Instead, Jananlan and the other boys were preparing to leave Anderwan and hide until the invasion was over.

    The three Earthmen and their weakened companion arrived at the farmhouse where the two forces were united. After introductions, everyone shared their news and eagerly made plans. As the people discussed their thoughts, Aidan took some time to use Jonas's knowledge of the local language to speak with the man he'd rescued. Though the Anderwani escapees had called him a yildamayan (witch doctor), the man simply identified himself as Sen Mayan, a generic title indicated that he was a mage or sorcerer of some sort. Sen Mayan claimed that his power had been stolen from him, but when he recovered it, he would reward Aidan greatly for rescuing him. The Earthmen reacted with some disbelief, but allowed the man to continue his deranged thoughts unchallenged as they gave him time to begin his recovery.

    After a period of discussion, the group finally came to an accord. Gathering themselves up, the adventurers headed off towards Anderwan, sensing perhaps that a purpose lay ahead as to why they'd been gathered here from a distant world and differing time periods...

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    Background Story: Aidan Connor

    by Billy Wood

    Aidan quickly learned to dislike dirt as a lad. Born in land-locked Laois County, Ireland to a drunken crofter, at the age of 12 he found he had had his fill of plowing fields and getting drunken beatings from his father and three older brothers. So in a cool spring night in 1571, he filled a sack full of bread and cheese and made his way for Dublin to be a sailor.

    Well used to hard work and short commons, Aidan Connor soon adapted to the sailor’s life. He worked on English caravels on short runs across the Channel and down into the Mediterranean. Although not very big, standing 5’4” and weighing a mere 9 stone, Aidan made up for his size by being quick and mean. Being a rather pretty lad, Aidan had to fight off quite a few lecherous buggers. A natural with daggers and his fists, the young man soon gained a reputation among his crewmates as a vicious fighter.

    In 1577, at the age of 18, Aidan was an experienced foremast jack looking for a new challenge, new thrills and the big payoff. Tired of creeping along the coasts of Europe, and enflamed by rumors of Spanish galleons busting with pieces of eight, he was one of the first to sign up with the famous Captain Drake on his privateering expedition to the Pacific coast of South America.

    They sacked settlement after settlement up and down the coast of South America. Aidan was a ruthless, merciless fighter, earning the name Akward Aidan among his fellow Golden Hinde crewmates. As the victories and booty piled up, his life became a continuous loop of killing, raping, plundering and drinking.

    After three years, the Golden Hinde made its way back to Merry Olde England in 1580. Now rich beyond his dreams, Aidan was paid off and set ashore, directionless. The next five years, Aidan practically lived in the whorehouses of London, living it up, trying to block out the screams of his many victims with cunny and rum. His first sober moment in five years came as he was thrown out of a pub into a wet pile of pig dung in Cheapside, penniless.

    As he washed the feces off in a horse trough, his long blocked memories came roaring back. He was a bad man, a cruel man. He made his way to a small church near the docks, walked inside and fell to his knees. Aidan knew he deserved hellfire for the life he’d led. He’d the Devil to pay and no pitch hot. An old half-blind priest peered down from the altar with his weak, watery eyes as he quickly mumbled his way through mass in the otherwise empty church.

    “What do ye want, scoundrel? Yer stinkin’ up me church, ye foul thing!”

    Aidan looked up, “I’m lookin’ fer salvation father. It’s been sixteen years since my last confession.”

    “An Irishman eh? There ain’t no savin’ an Irishman. Yer all born with an extra helping of sin, and I’m too old to hear sixteen years worth of yer foul deeds, so be off with ye!”

    The old priest gave Aidan a dismissive wave and hobbled passed him towards the door. Desperate and confused, the young man grabbed the old man’s vestments as he walked by.

    “Please, father, grant me absolution! Take away my sins, I beg you! I’ll do anything!”

    The old man snatched his vestments out of Aidan’s hand and gave him a hard look. Then he laughed.

    “Save me, save me!” The old priest mocked. “Oh save me from the hellfire father, I don’t want the Devil’s pitchfork up me arse!”

    The old man leaned in close to Aidan still kneeling on the dirt floor and looked him straight in the eyes. “You want a penance? You think a few Hail Mary’s or maybe a pilgrimage will make you square with the Lord? I can see by your pigtail yer a sailorman. Oh aye, I know what ye done, it’s written on your face. Rapin’, killin’, drinkin’, thievin’, it ain’t a puzzle figurin’ out the likes of you. Well here’s your penance, boy. Go out into the world and help save as many lives as ye’ve help destroy. Then come back here and I’ll give you your absolution.” The priest walked out without another word, leaving Aidan on the floor, stunned. He stayed there on the floor lost in thought until dusk, when he slowly made his way outside.

    In a daze, Aidan wandered the streets of London and for the first time in his life, paid attention to what he saw around him. Filthy children begged on the street corners and fought with mangy dogs over scraps of refuse dumped into the streets from the townhouses. Prostitutes, some as young as 13, stood outside, offering a quick time in the alley for two pence. All round him, the poor, sick and weary were struggling to survive. He felt their pain as his own and made a silent oath to himself.

    He went back to work in the only trade he knew, but this time with a purpose. Over four years, Aidan worked and saved. With no family to support and abstaining from drink, he slowly saved up a small fortune. With his savings, he bought himself a small, used caravel set himself up as a merchant trading up and down the coast. With re-established old contacts and a hardnosed, fierce style of bargaining, Aidan became well-to-do.

    Captain Connor gained a fearful reputation among slavers and pirates. Unlike most merchant captains, he was not content to run away from trouble and those in trouble. Once, on the trip back to England from a spice run from Alexandria, Captain Connor came across a fellow merchant attacked by Arab pirates in a large dhow. Connor rammed the ship with his strengthed ship ram and boarded the dhow. He and his experienced crew subdued the pirates and in the process secured a wealth of spices.

    While three days out from the port of Istanbul, Captain Connor captured a known slaver that kidnapped European women to sell to rich Turks, freeing 25 slaves and escorting them to England where he saw them all returned to their homelands.

    Later on in his career Captain Connor started his own private orphanage in Cheapside. He had since promoted others to take over sailing his tradeships and stayed ashore to concentrate on his good works while managing business affairs. Connor took in young beggers and prostitutes, assigning the older, responsible ones to watch the younger ones. He fed and clothed them and hired a poor scholar to teach them manners and to read and write. He used his connections to get his charges apprenticeships, or set up in business and provided small dowries for the young women when they wed.

    After a few years, Connor started earning a bad reputation with pimps, beggar masters, publicans and whorehouses around Cheapside. Without the young to exploit and sell, their profits began to decline. A few decided it was time to do something about their problem. At first they sent ruffians to try and scare off Captain Connor, but these thugs were made short work of by the battle-hardened sea dog and got their faces broken for their troubles. Then they went after the children. Aidan was checking over a shipping manifest in his study when one of his older boys burst into the room.

    “The house is on fire, master!”

    He ran with the boy to the orphanage house a mile away. The building was ablaze, but Aidan was horrified when he counted only 5 children outside, coughing and burned. He realized the rest were still inside and without a moment’s hesitation leapt into the inferno. Holding a rag to his face, he made his way up the staircase. The second floor was not yet on fire, but was filled with thick, choking smoke. There he found the remaining four children passed out from smoke inhalation. They were all five or six and small, so Aidan picked them up two in each strong arm and fought his way blindly back down the stairs.

    Embers set his hair on fire as he reached the bottom. Ten feet from the entrance he heard a terrible creak. He looked up and saw a burning beam dropping down. He had no time to move and covered the four children with his body as the heavy oaken beam landed on his back, breaking his spine. The youth who had came to alert him quickly ran in with another and pulled the children from under his body just as the building collapsed. Aidan’s last moments were of unbridled terror and pain. He couldn’t move a muscle as laid under a mountain of fire and burned. In his last moments, he believed that he had not escaped the hellfire after all, as he’d never gotten his promised absolution. Then seeing the children safe, watching him through a chink in the burning rubble, he smiled and found he no longer cared, closing his eyes to be engulfed by oblivion.

    Aidan awoke to a deep black void. He could not feel anything, including himself and could not mark the passage of time. Eventually, he saw a pinprick of light that seemed to be rushing towards him. He held up his arms to shield himself as he was engulfed in blinding white light.

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    Character Story: Pinch Me...

    by Billy Wood (Aiden's player)

    It had been a long day, what with burning alive, dying, waking up mother-naked in a cage full of strange folk, fighting horrible yellow-skinned monsters out of some crazed faerie tale and then meeting folks from his own world, who, God be praised, spoke a civilized tongue, instead of the jabber of the natives that sounded like that of the Africans or Hindoos. He mused on it all absentmindedly as his new companions busily planned their next moves against the Enemy, whoever that might be.

    Aidan chuckled to himself. He thought he was going to hell when he saw that crimson light in the black void. Admittedly, this was a sight better than eternal damnation. He supposed the Holy Father was going to make him stick to his oath to help as many as he'd hurt in life, death or no.

    It was quite a rush to do battle again, especially naked and weaponless against giant, yellow-skinned devils. He didn't feel so bad about taking down such foul and obviously evil things. It was a far cry from killing peaceful villagers.

    The thought of his evil past saddened him, but he didn't stop himself from running the images through his mind. It was his own form of ritual self-mortification. He intentionally thought of it every day, straining to remember every gruesome detail, every foul deed. He owed it to himself, God and the people he'd wronged to never forget what he'd done and who he'd been.

    The sailor figured he'd made a good start of things, all considered. He was glad that the chinese looking fellow was recovering from whatever pox had taken hold. All his ramblings of magic and great powers made Aidan wonder if the sickness had affected the old fellow's faculties. But he seemed to be a man of some dignity, so Aidan wasn't about to go and offend him by expressing any doubt. This place was strange and obviously dangerous. Without a lot of resources at his disposal, Aidan knew he'd have to make all the friends he could to survive.

    That was unless this was all some sort of dream and he'd soon wake from, snug in his old stuffed chair in front of the warm fire in his study. Maybe that was it, he thought. Maybe his feet were getting a bit toasty and he simply dreamed all that about the orphanage fire and all of the rest afterwards. Well, if it was a dream, at least he knew that sooner or later, his servant Tom would soon be fetching him to supper. He was getting hungry. That bit of coconut like fruit wasn't quite satisfying, he thought...

    He shook his head. No, there was no fruit. This is just a mad dream. He secretly pinched himself on the arm. It stung. Aidan became a little less sure of his hypothesis. He told himself it didn't matter. Either this dream played itself out, or it was real and it would be played out when a yellow skinned brute or some other such devil killed him. In the meantime, he decided, he better start listening to the talk and catching up, so that he could be of some use in whatever scheme his companions were hatching.

    He had heard talk of a ship. Maybe he would be of some use after all...

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    Session Summary: The Defeat Of Master Arunblad Grasin

    by Jason 'Flynn' Kemp

    With grim and resolute determination, the Earthmen and their comrades advanced on the port of Anderwan. En route, however, they suffered their first exposure to the advanced technological might of the raiders from Iskatesh: a disanadar (a two-man flying boat) with a grankres (a crystalline beam weapon) capable of blasting the countryside with small bolts of lightning. After a tense moment of cat and mouse, Jonas turned the tables on the pilot of the disanadar with a well-placed arrow in the man's shoulder. Quickly, the pilot took to the ship's controls and the flying airship left the vicinity of the party, making a beeline for port.

    The alarm had been raised, which made the band's mission more difficult. Along the way, they encountered more soldiers, presumably sent in this direction by the pilot's warnings. All of the group, save the large man Kurukuja the Axe, managed to hide before being seen. Fortunately for the Earthmen, Kurukuja played a simple yet daring bluff, running off down a deserted alleyway in hopes of leading the soldiers away from the others. His simple ploy worked, at least long enough for the rest to move further on to a safer location.

    Near the wharf, the party weighed the situation before them. Two squads of four mercenaries each protected the gangplank leading up into the slavers' ship, where many of the captured Anderwani residents stood in cramped cages. Their leader, a talented lieutenant, stood watch as well. Onboard the ship, the party could see the disanadar resting on the poop deck, but all other slavers and mercenaries were either below decks or off on patrol. The Earthmen quickly devised a plan between them, and then set it in motion.

    Inspired by Kurukuja's example, Aidan and Daniel allowed themselves to be seen sneaking into an alleyway near the docks, where their comrades awaited to ambush any that would follow them. The lieutenant, spotting the intruders, sent half his forces to check on the two. Four mercenaries ran down the street to the alleyway and entered into the shadows, only to meet their doom.

    Shifting positions on the rooftop of one of the buildings nearby, Jonas aimed across the wharf at one of the four remaining guards, and loosed two shafts. Though he did not drop the guard, his attack did inspire the remaining four mercenaries to charge forward after the intruders, while the lieutenant fired his own heavy crossbow back at Jonas. As the majority of the party met the guard head on, Aidan quickly charged across the wharf from the other side of the ship and heroically leapt to grab onto the figurehead jutting from the prow. Stealthily he worked his way to the top and onto the forecastle, as his comrades-in-arms fought against the mercenaries and drew the attention of the lieutenant. Taking advantage of his position of height, Aidan leapt down upon the lieutenant, bringing the fight to the commander of the guards.

    Disaster struck Jonas in the midst of his ranged onslaught, as his bowstring broke with a long twang, nicking the archer's cheek with a crimson line. Disgusted, Jonas dropped his bow and leapt to the ground to join his friends in the thick of the fray on the docks. On the docks, Daniel, Taggart and Baganaba waded through the oncoming mercenaries, dropping them with fists and steel before taking to the gangplank to assist Aidan against the more stalwart lieutenant. As Aidan and the others beat upon the lieutenant, Jonas joined them on the ship just in time to see the doors below the poop deck open to reveal Master Grasin and a band of slavers.

    Master Grasin's first act drew significant concern from the Earthmen as he raised a dikres (a crystalline pistol) and unloaded a fiery bolt into the back of the staggered lieutenant, dropping the man like a lead weight. Snarling to his men, "That's the price you pay for incompetence," the kelshan slave master ordered the piljanani raiders forward against the intruders.

    Aidan scrambled to grab the fallen lieutenant, grabbing a ring of keys off the belt of the man. Surging to the doors of the nearest cage of trapped Anderwani, the sailor opened the doors and gave them freedom. Daniel and Taggart drew a majority of the guards' attention, as well as Master Grasin, giving Baganaba a chance to make a break for the ladder leading up to the disanadar. Seeing her to their unprotected flank, several guards broke away to focus on the Vashan defender, managing to drop her from the rungs of the ladder. Meanwhile, Master Grasin unloaded a number of fiery bolts into Taggart, as the raiders waged their battle against the small wave of attackers. Behind and about them, the newly-freed Anderwani rushed about, some off the ship to join a small force rising up in the township while others surged with mob-like intensity down the other flight of stairs against the raiders still below decks. From the shore, the party could hear Kurukuja's voice barrel out across the waters, inspiring his people to fight against the rapidly falling slavers.

    Almost half a minute passed before the crystalline weapon ran out of charges, leaving the British pugilist on the deck dying in its wake, before the devilish kelshan was forced to fight with barbed whip and rapier. The Master Slaver proved to be a most adamant and worthy adversary. Well after his guards died, Master Grasin deftly resisted the combined onslaught of the party for almost another full minute before he finally fell, slain by the hand of those that barely stood in the wake of the battle. The band looked about, and found that both Baganaba and Taggart had bled out through their wounds. With great sorrow, they rose to their feet once more, standing together to finish that which they had started, and complete the rescue of the township of Anderwan.

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    Character Story: Aiden - Just Getting Started!

    by Billy Wood

    "Ah, suren 'tis grand to be back in the thick o' battle!", Aidan said to himself giddily, still woozy from blood loss. The ribs on his left side were bruised, he had a deep gash across his chest that still seeped blood and one shoulder felt wrenched from his foolhardy acrobatics. None of this affected the big smile etched across the sailor's face. He was back in his natural element and knew it.

    Life had been good as a merchantman, and it hadn't been devoid of excitement, due to his vigorous pursuit of sea-going predators. However, it was mostly sedate work, puzzling over bills of lading, hiring crew, networking with suppliers and buyers. Not since his days with Drake had he had such adventure, and this time, he knew with all his heart that it was in a good cause.

    He was talking a mile a minute to whoever would listen. "Here there be monsters, and no mistake! The giant yellow bastards, those piljanani were one thing, but that right awkward red skinned bugger with the pair o' bull horns? Made o' stone, so he was! Patrick and Mary, if that weren't bad enough, damned if he didn't shoot lightin' at us with a wee glass pistol!

    Aidan still wasn't sure exactly what was going on, at least not the whole picture. Things were just moving too fast to catch up. But slavery he understood, and despised. He wished that more had taken up the fight on the upper deck, but knew that most of them wanted to make sure their families were safe and that there was bloody work to be done below decks as well.

    Never before had he seen such fighting. It was a long, bloody battle against overwhelming odds and the Irishman couldn't help but stand in awe of his companions. Jonas was a true marksman if there ever was one. Aidan smiled when he thought of the eager gleam in the Lithuanian's eyes when he saw that magic lighting pistol.

    Then there was this fighting priest out of a templar legend! Aidan wondered at Father Daniel's past that a man of the cloth waded into battle with demons hand to hand. There wasn't a shadow of fear in that Grecian's heart, of that Aidan was sure.

    He thought of the fallen. He wished he had gotten to know Bryce. He seemed to be a man of kindred spirits and had fought like a lion.

    And then there were the two native folk; that fantastic woman fighter, Baganaba, and Karukuja, who made up with heart what he'd seemingly lacked in brains. Aidan felt that he was likely to meet many more people in this strange new world, and probably lose just as many. Even so, he was determined to make the most of it and continue to fulfill the oath that had become his way of life.

    He appraised the vessel they had freed with a professional eye. It looked like a ship, at least the body. The old sailor had faith that he could sail anything that floated, and was determined to learn how the vessel worked. Hopefully, there would be long enough of a repast from yellow and red skinned devils to have that opportunity…but not too long…he was just getting limbered up.

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