- 1 Once Upon A Time...
- 2 Thine Plot Infliction The Zeroth - Opening Tales
- 3 Adventures from September Twenty-Nineth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - The Journey Begins
- 4 Thine Plot Infliction The First - Shivering In The Woods
- 5 Adventures from October Thirteenth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Lions and Squirrels and Serpents, Oh My
- 6 Thine Plot Infliction The Second - The Eyes Of Doom
- 7 Adventures from October Twentieth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Multiple Failures Of The Random Encounter Table
- 8 Thine Plot Infliction The Third - Plot Is Over-rated
- 9 Adventures from October Twenty-Seventh, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Squirrelly Wrath
- 10 Thine Plot Infliction The Forth - Like We Have Time For This
- 11 Adventures from November Third, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Old Dudes Of Doom
- 12 Thine Plot Infliction The Fifth - Need Horses
- 13 Adventures from November Nineth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Arrows and Wolves
- 14 Thine Plot Infliction The Sixth - An Uneasy Sense Of Dread and No Time To Do Anything About It
- 15 Adventures from November Sixteenth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Eye Gouging and More Assassins of Set
- 16 Thine Plot Infliction The Seventh - The Universe Is Fully Of Happiness And Light!
- 17 Adventures from November Thirtieth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Toe Jam
- 18 Thine Plot Infliction The Eighth - Plotting Revenge By Killing Everyone
- 19 Adventures from December Eighth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Killing Everyone
- 20 Thine Plot Infliction The Ninth - Resting From All That Tiring Killing
- 21 Adventures from December Fourteenth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - At Least There Was Beer
- 22 Thine Plot Infliction The Tenth - Developing A New Occupation
- 23 Adventures from December Twenty-First, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Barbarians Don't Talk Much Anyway
- 24 Thine Plot Infliction The Eleventh - The Chances of Plot Infliction Are Low
- 25 Adventures from December Twenty-Nineth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - A Lookout, A Were-Elk Ogre, and A Priest
- 26 Thine Plot Infliction The Twelfth - All About The Interesting Guy
- 27 Adventures from January Fifth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Trading Hacks For Whacks
- 28 Thine Plot Infliction The Thirteenth - What Kind Of Pussy Hides With Whores?
- 29 Interlude Number One - Ray "Robbie" Stern Has A Bad Afternoon
- 30 Adventures from January Eighteenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - All Hacker's New Friends Tremble A Lot
- 31 Thine Plot Infliction The Fourteenth - Five Seconds Before The Bloodshed Resumes
- 32 Adventures from February Ninth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Dragonus Interruptus
- 33 Thine Plot Infliction The Fifteenth - On The Road Again
- 34 Adventures from February Fifteenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Stygian Archers
- 35 Thine Plot Infliction The Sixteenth - Crooked Trees and Leprechauns
- 36 Adventures from February Twenty-Second, Two-Thousand and Twelve - There Be Dragons.
- 37 Thine Plot Infliction The Seventeenth - Loose Ends
- 38 Adventures from February Twenty-Ninth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Annoying Village Without Treasure.
- 39 Thine Plot Infliction The Eighteenth - Internetus Interruptus
- 40 Adventures from March Fourteenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Eggs
- 41 Thine Plot Infliction The Nineteenth - A Funny Feeling
- 42 Adventures from March Twenty-Fourth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Hacker Versus A Small Army
- 43 Thine Plot Infliction The Twentieth - Spirituous
- 44 Adventures from March Twenty-Eighth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - The Most Dangerous Condiment
- 45 Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-First - Encroaching Madness
- 46 Adventures from April Eleventh, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Swords Are For Wimps
- 47 Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Second - A Relative Lack Of Enemies
- 48 Adventures from April Nineteenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Ninjas
- 49 Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Third - Wait... Flying Steed?!?
- 50 Adventures from April Twenty-Sixth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Wolves, That Bounty Hunter, Frost Giants, Samurai
- 51 Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Fourth - Maybe We Should Force-Feed Some Hay To That Horse
- 52 Adventures from May Third, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Highlander
- 53 Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Fifth - Being Stalked By A Dragon Is Probably Bad
- 54 Adventures from May Tenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - A Roast Of Dragons
- 55 Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Sixth - Mid-Roast
- 56 Adventures from May Seventeenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - BITE BITE BITE HACK HACK HACK
- 57 Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Seventh - Guaralid
- 58 Adventures from May Twenty-Fourth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - A Relaxing Stroll In The Mountains
- 59 Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Eighth - SD Waxes Philosophical
- 60 Adventures from May Thirty-First, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Don't Run! Don't Run!
- 61 Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Ninth - Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch
- 62 Adventures from June Thirteenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Six Fools And A Titanic Land Eel
- 63 Thine Plot Infliction The Thirtieth - Pausing At A Pub
- 64 Adventures from June Twenty-Seventh, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Encounter Table Plot
- 65 Thine Plot Infliction The Thirty-First - Mosey Mosey
Once Upon A Time...
Uh, yeah - same background as the generalized test game in the Hyboria setting. (That passing demi-god blessed several unwilling Zingarian women.)
Characters: Weezer and Hacker
Weezer is a sorcerer and aspiring assassin. Hacker is a goon.
Thine Plot Infliction The Zeroth - Opening Tales
Your mother comes to your tent (for your village is of very meager means, and a tent is the typical dwelling of young bastards before they slink off to be thieves in Aquilonia or pirates in Argos) and brings you mulled wine. This is a bad sign, mostly because your mother is not generally keen to get either of her young rascals drunk. And indeed she whispers to you mutterings she has overheard from the old witch Livia as she conjured prescience to know the wellfare of the village over the next month. A coterie of bounty hunters from the Zingarian capital Kordava will pass through this region soon, looking for people about your age with a certain look about them... (meaning, looking like you, and a similar set of bastards in the village who never get along or ever talk to each other).
Hacker will start gathering supplies, food, water, etc in case we have to flee. Weezer will meditate whatever points he needs to get to maximum and then use it on prescience to try and gleen how much time we have until the bounty hunters get here.
Food and water are of relatively minor concern for the two of your for the near future - you are both accomplished hunters and gatherers and the woods/rivers nearby are plentiful. There is also no great supply of weapons in the village - just snares and knives for hunting and fishing, and the people typically just run away and hide in the woods if trouble comes by. There's also no real prospect for transportation since the best you could likely scare up is a mule, and it would not be able to carry Hacker anyway. Still, you both find yourself gifted with many finely-crafted items fashioned by the clever hands of several members of the village that are fond of you: good boots with quiet soles for stalking, new breeches strapped with leather for slipping through the brush, handsome vests with a plentitude of cunningly-concealed pockets. And jaunty fur-lined hats. Don't ask, it'll hurt their feelings.
The reverie with prescience tells you that the bounty hunters will be in the village long before your tracks fade.
Ok then. We say 'so long' to mother and head off. We're heading in a direction opposite from Kordava, and try to use well used paths so our tracks are blended in with others. Any large cities in that direction? A probable goal is to go to a city and lose ourselves in the masses.
Also, we take any potions or other magical items Weezer may previously concocted for a rainy day. :)
What potions and/or magical items do you propose that you might have prepared?
Adventures from September Twenty-Nineth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - The Journey Begins
The massive Hacker and his scrawny brother Weezer set out North on the Thunder River... in a canoe. The poor canoe did manage to support them both up several kilometers of significant river, where they came across another canoe coming the other way. It was paddled by four foul-smelling Pictish rogues, who seemed to think that the brothers lacked range weapons. The Pictish rogues threatened them with arrows nocked in bows, only to discover that being unable to duck arrows is less of a problem than being easily knocked overboard by a telekinetic goon.
During the fracas, a stray arrow from the Picts slew a squirrel. In a bizzarre confluence of coincidence (mostly in terms of random-encounter sub-tables), this angered a minor god nearby. The Squirrel God emerged angrily from the forest edge and plunged into the river to swim towards the humans and impart his squirrely wrath. The Zingarian brothers concluded their application of violence on the fleeing Picts, then fled in turn by canoe back down river from the angry 4-tonne squirrel.
Having lost the eldritch horror (for the time being), the brothers resumed their travelling North. This time they went parallel to the river, Hacker carrying the canoe easily over his head, and the brothers chatting companionably as they went.
After getting another 11 kilometers, they were then jumped by a wily assassin. The stringy little rascal brought down Hack by surprise, and then wrangled with the less-formidable Weezer. Weezer resisted valiantly, but was unable to harm to parrying assassin. By luck, Hacker was able to regain consciousness, and resumed fighting, and hope returned with him. But the assassin was simply too skilled - he took out Hacker again and injured Weezer so grievously that he only managed to stay conscious because of his sorcerer's willpower. The assassin let them live, but took all of their magical goods - save only their instruments.
Thine Plot Infliction The First - Shivering In The Woods
Without benefit of healing potion, life is dangerous. Do the brothers pause in the +5 to hide woods while Weezer generates some healing potion, or does Hacker carry Weezer in the canoe?
Hacker carries Weezer in the canoe. The first thing Weezer's going to do is create a blunt telekinesis pinecone for Hacker, cause that's just too useful. Then he'll work on healing potion.
With the canoe resting easily on one of Hacker's massive shoulders, Weezer is at liberty to meditate effectively 1D6 per hour instead of merely the 1 per hour that walking would allow. Unfortunately, the canoe bobbing along through the trees is a bit of an eye-catcher, as is Hacker's occasional hopping/swearing whenever he steps on something pointy with his bare feet.
The dice say you get 9 hours of peace, all of which allow you to accumulate 8 healing points in your flask along with the blunt telekinesis pinecone.
After which time an elderly gentleman wearing a conspicuous amount of eye makeup and with a grizzled bird of prey perching on his shoulder beckons your attention with a shout.
Hacker shouts back. "You a boot saleman?"
"Indeed, I am not. Rather the contrary - I was hoping to inquire wether you were willing to accept additional passengers - and their cargo." He indicates a pair of large saddle bags resting on a stump beside him. "I only have a bit of gold, but with a quick hour's prayer I might be able to repay you with divine gratitude."
Hacker: "Well, since we got nothin' to steal, you probably not gonna mug us... If you could prayer up some healing potion for us, that would be good payment."
Also, Weezer uses the telepathy from his flute. He's going to contact their mother and see if the bounty hunters have gone through the village yet.
Adventures from October Thirteenth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Lions and Squirrels and Serpents, Oh My
The priest catching a ride - Gaikan - paid for his passage by a significant feat of prescience. He revealed that Weezer and Hacker were "children of Anansi", and that the bounty hunters are the murderous agents of Mrs. Anansi.
There was a big lion. There were scratches.
There was a troupe of seasoned adventurers. There was quiet hiding in the foliage until they passed.
There was a village. There was drinking. And moccasins.
There was a river monster. There was fleeing and a dead canoe.
There were ruffians. There was some thrashing.
Thine Plot Infliction The Second - The Eyes Of Doom
Weezer and Hacker have an odd sensation of being watched.
Do you use prescience?
If a regular locate doesn't reveal anything, I'll dump some points into uber-locate.
An über-locate, if lucky, will let Weezer notice that there is somebody Not Nice back at their home village looking at the brothers by benefit of a reciprocal power. On the fringes of the locate, before it fades, shows dark forms leaping forward and dashing toward you.
Adventures from October Twentieth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Multiple Failures Of The Random Encounter Table
Tales of high adventure typically have three ilks of random encounter: minor opponents easily defeated with humorous content, worthy opponents where the bulk of the skill is earned, and overmatching horrors for testing the character's prowess for escaping doom.
But, sometimes it doesn't work like that. For instance, the poor schlub cursed with the form of a boar by a witch. He was clumsy, easily caught, and helplessly slaughtered. He didn't even get eaten, and the characters didn't notice that his satchel was magical (though, in fairness, it was permanently imbued with "hiding").
Then there was the Nemedian adventurer, part wizard and part swordsman, and having just enough of each to prey on the weaknesses of both characters. Especially when they split up.
But that was peanuts compared to what happened when they discovered the crazy guy with the talking rock. It wasn't pretty. But at least they earned some skill for not getting blasted into confetti with the lightning bolts, even though they did start a major forest fire...
Then, when they were mistaken for being part of a bloodthirsty cadre of pillaging bastards by the next village, the villagers that set out after them were woefully underskilled for tackling real combatants. Especially the young lady named Rehsen with just a single stage of Defender, and who started following Hacker so that he could train her to be a wizard.
Thine Plot Infliction The Third - Plot Is Over-rated
Rehsen: "So, what's our mission?"
Adventures from October Twenty-Seventh, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Squirrelly Wrath
After finding out that Rehsen was under the foolish impression that the brothers were adventurers who hunt down evil and take its treasures, they asked if she knew of any evil nearby with treasure. She responded by pointing through a rare gap in the trees to a distant castle perched on a craggy mountain. With a burst of prescience, Weezer determines that the central (evil?) character at the castle is Bela Lugosi. What could possibly go wrong? They set off in search of adventure and riches.
On their way to the mountain, they found themselves trying to traverse a swamp. The first significant thing they encounter were the horrific quasi-mummified remains of a trio very spookily conforming to the basic archetypes of the group. A set of significant exchanged glances, and they all decided that - for now - discretion was wiser than adventure. And they all turned around.
...just in time to foul the interception of a giant crocodile. Having to change course to cross a more-open section of swamp made it more easily noticed, and the group fled. Rehsen and Weezer rode on Hacker, and Weezer dumped magical movement ability into Hacker. They scampered away easily.
As they wandered back through the forest they happened upon a quiet camp site. Several tents were pitched, but there was no sound. Upon closer scrutiny, they found a single combatant bound and gagged. They ungagged him, and he claimed to be a prince being held for ransom, and that if they freed him he would reward them. Seeing no obvious down side, they freed him. Being freed, he almost immediately ran away. His crashing presently brought ominous sounds of pursuit from somewhere in the forest. The group decided to make themselves scarce - they departed the camp and hid. The alacrity with which they were found by one of the hunters was distressing, but not as much as having Hacker assassinated. However, they were deemed to be unimportant, and were left alone while they hunted down their intended bounty (again).
...to be continued...
Thine Plot Infliction The Forth - Like We Have Time For This
Leaving Fork-In-The-River, where do you go?
Continue north towards Aquilonia. Quickly. Going to keep to the path. After a couple of hours of travel, we're going to go off the path and find a place to hide for a while. Hacker will hide in a tree again so he can see who's travelling the path, and Weezer and Rehsen will stay hidden. Weezer will demonstrate the finer points of meditation as he attempts to create one or more magical items.
Weezer's going to look for a common looking stone, and mark it really well. The hope is that if we're captured, he can toss it before it's taken, and then can go look for it again. Assuming he survives.
The goal is to bestow upon this rock the permanent abilities of...
- Read thought
- 1D Energy attack
- +1 to Hit
- +1 to Duck
What are Rehsen's will power and awareness?
How well is really well marked? Because you're already booked for an average of 7 hours of meditation for the artifact not counting the mark.
Rehsen has 7 willpower and awareness.
Adventures from November Third, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Old Dudes Of Doom
Travelling up the road to Aquilonia the trio pass various sorts going the other way - adventurers, traders, farmers, and minor hordes of invisible warriors making pilgrimage to the secret temple of free beer. Then they were attacked by a foppish Aquilonian adventurer who seemed to think that they had slighted him in some way. A flurry of fighting with the fop fighting well, but the fight was gradually going against him - so he fled. Just before he disappeared into the forest, Weezer dropped him with a parting blast.
They scarcely had time to strip him of his bulging purse, healing potion, and magical sword before his body was snatched up by a retrieving Manticore.
They decided to heal up hiding in the forest behind a gigantic sleeping dragon. Then they changed their minds and crept away terrified.
After healing, they returned to the road and found three dark-robed old dudes with distinctly doom-esque demeanours following their path. Weezer, Hacker, and Rehsen set an ambush. Their initial strike was very effective, but the raw power of the three magical assassins was still deadly. A grueling fight waged, with both Weezer and Hacker being brought near death by icy strokes from the assassins black blades. Eventually they managed to hack down all three of their foes, and their bodies disintegrated into a fine dark powder of asbestos (all the characters now being doomed to succumb eventually to mesothelioma).
Thine Plot Infliction The Fifth - Need Horses
I think once we're healed, we should make haste towards the next village/town/whatever and now that we have some gold, we should get some good horses so we can really gain some distance.
The next whatever is a small walled city called Gauralid, with a significant fortress built on a high ridge, overlooking the passes into Zingara. Beyond it towers the snow-topped border range that marks the edge of Zingara and the beginnings of Aquilonia.
Allrightythen... to Gauralid! For a good horse, and extra clothing for snow-topped mountains.
The heavy, scarred gates stand open, and your approach is watched by an array of solemn-looking guards high up in defensive positions. As you pass through the killing throat of the gate, a cheerful head pokes out from above and calls down to ask if you need directions to anything. You quickly glean a basic understanding of where to find general supplies, the livery, and the pubs. It's not until a few quiet moments later that you recognize the degree to which that person was also able to coax a wide array of tactical information out of you - conversational traps for spies and scouts.
Inside Gauralid proper you find it mildly crowded with purposeful people. You also find that there is a very sizable barracks and a large population of seasoned-looking soldiers perpetually training.
BOOTS! We get Hacker some good boots.
Then a quick stop at the pub. Going to mingle and try to get a feel for what is in our path further north.
There are a demographic of huge humans in the local military, and so there is a supply of military-grade Zingaran-style boots readily available for just 5 grams of aurum.
As soon as anyone hears that you mean to head up into the pass, there is no shortage of people vying to regale you with observations, advice, and wild tales of high-mountain contretemps. But boiling away the obvious hyperbole and the various examples of patent implausibility, it seems that it's a mostly-barren mountain with a steady trickle of hardy traders plying their way between Aquilonia and Zingara. The main worrying aspect is the ubiquitous mention of frost giants.
Adventures from November Nineth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Arrows and Wolves
After obtaining all they could think of they might need on the mountain pass, but before they could actual make an exit from Gauralid City, the brothers were summoned telepathically into the Fortress. The telepathic summoning was immediately reinforced by a pair of scary calvary, and ended up also including a bewildered Rehsen by default. Once inside they were met by a powerful sorcerer called Zoltan (who apparently was the Prince's "tactical spellcaster") and wanted to know more about the brothers based on his prescient reading of them. After a brief dialogue, the brothers and the apprentice were allowed to leave. After departing, Weezer found himself thinking that Zoltan seemed somewhat familiar, but the other two had no idea what he was on about.
They passed various hardy travellers going the other way (including a Cimmerian shouldering a frost giant head), but found no trouble until they were ambushed by some archers as they navigated a scree-filled gully. They rained pointy harm down on the adventurers, and Hacker ran up and killed them with repeated thwacks from his sword. Only one had the sense to try to flee, but he didn't get far.
A short while later, as the gloom settled into the cloudy lightly-snowy reaches, they decided to try to pitch camp. They were immediately being circled by a giant wolf. As Hacker crept out to deal with the beast, it silently flanked him and snatched Rehsen in its giant maw. It then fled with its prize, chased by the brothers. Hacker charged after it as the dire wolf nearly flew across the ridge in eerie silence. Thus Hacker was lead into the waiting jaws of the rest of the hunting pack, and they proceeded to try to methodically rip Hacker apart. However, Hacker proved difficult to take down and quite dangerous (one wolf was badly injured), so when his weakling brother ran up breathless, the wolves thought to leap out and take advantage of his defenseless state. Weezer also proved to be difficult to kill (though easier to bite), and the brothers were eventually able to beat off the wolves. The 200 kg monsters disappeared into the night, and from some distance away let out a mournful chorus of howls. Answering howls from somewhere else on the mountain did not bode well.
The trio decided to move on and to find a more defensible campsite. To this end, Weezer engaged some basic prescience to locate caves and threats. They found a spot that registered as both. Leaving the horses and supplies with Rehsen by the road, the brothers carefully approached the cave. Inside they discovered a small giant with a large magical sword; they decided to leave him be.
Thine Plot Infliction The Sixth - An Uneasy Sense Of Dread and No Time To Do Anything About It
Instead of missing tents, you find yourselves missing walled cities with warm pubs.
Say, did you guys buy any feed for the horses?
Adventures from November Sixteenth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Eye Gouging and More Assassins of Set
Nice round psychic lady wandering on the mountain offering help.
Very un-nice tactically-inappropriate combatants scraping out Weezer's eyes for looking at them in a way they didn't like.
More nice fellow adventurers, with warnings of Frost Giants.
Then four more Assassins of Set killing their horses to catch up. Owie owie owie - but the trio prevailed.
Thine Plot Infliction The Seventh - The Universe Is Fully Of Happiness And Light!
No, wait. That's a migraine from the dry eye sockets causing lightheadedness and visual hallucinations.
Speaking of which... Hacker has some stress points afflictions pending. I shall contemplate it.
OK, so here's the end result of my contemplations - I think Hacker was over-afflicted by stress points. The period of affect for magic, is vaguely "an encounter", and not on a per-turn basis. So, if someone were to activate a spell or artifact that exceeded their available willpower, they would get the associated stress points once for the whole episode, and not multiplied by the number of turns of that encounter. So I think it makes the most sense if it gets treated as a sort of zenith - whatever the worst moment is for the encounter is what the stress point calculation is counted from. Thus, for Hacker to have exceeded his available willpower by magical healing by 5 means that he is essentially already absorbed the relevant stress points, and continued exposure to <=5 stress points of instantaneous surplus magic/stress is not accumulated.
So, Hacker has 5 stress points, and thus no divinely-afflicted Stress Traits.
- The group skill earned from the last session adds up to 6.
- With a bit of judicious grinding, it would be cool to fit the energy attack stone in one of Weezer's empty eye sockets.
- A symmetrical Locate eye-stone might be in order...
Well, as soon as Weezer has a break, he's going to dump the points, meditate them all back and see if he can regrow the eyes. Would 6 temporary points dumped into some sort of regenerate power be able to grow back a body part? 6 points is quite a lot in the grand scheme of our magic system.
Thinking of which, since we just got attacked by the old dudes, I'd hazard a guess that it will be a little bit before we see more of them. Now would be a good time to find a place to camp and stay the night.
I think that regeneration healing should simply be double regular healing, so Weezer only needs to spend two points to regenerate his eyes. Which is nowhere near as cool as having his eyes replaced with stones blazing mystic doooooom! But whatever.
Indeed, the recent interdiction of the Assassins of Set means that you probably have a pause before they re-emerge. Plus, the places where they fell give off an aura of heebie and/or jeebie, and tends to keep random encounters at bay. You can rest uninterrupted for a night and a day, if you so wish.
Ok then, once we find a suitable camp spot nearby, Hacker and Reshen will take turns napping/keeping watch while Weezer meditates. Weezer's goals in order are:
- regrow eyes.
- create a permanent blunt telekinisis magical item for Hacker.
- create a permanent locate magical item for Weezer. (for next time he loses his eyes)
- create a magical item with permanent +3 to duck.
- re-meditate the points to get back to perma-heal.
If by then it's morning, we'll break camp and continue on.
Adventures from November Thirtieth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Toe Jam
The first encounter the group had after breaking camp (rested and with full bellies) was a pair of terrified people driven insane with fear. They were fleeing down the road, and didn't glance sideways at the group as they passed. Shortly afterwards, they came across a telepathic fox, which merely exchanged greetings with them.
As the neared a summit, Weezer felt the presence of a Frost Giant via prescient locate abilities. So the group hid behind a snow drift, and watched. Around a nearby peak strolled the giant, surrounded by a pack of Dire Wolves. The giant was snacking on some helpless wolf cubs while the pack tried in vain to stop it.
It seemed to be a worthy challenge, and so Weezer and Hacker decided to bag themselves a Frost Giant. The creature was several tonnes, with a height nearing 6 meters, and was unaffected by most attacks. But since Hacker has particularly damaging attacks, he was able to whittle away on the monster. Unfortunately, just trying to parry the giant meant that Hacker would be flung a score of meters away. And with its great strides, the giant could move quickly to engage whomever it wished. In the heat of combat, both Hacker and Weezer were punted hard and flew away in opposite directions (into nice, soft snow drifts). Rehsen, using an uncanny telepathic accord with the Dire Wolves, rode one of the wolves to heal and fetch Weezer. The giant then noticed the delicious, helpless horses, and ran over to eat them. It bit the head off of one horse, but grew angered when Hacker used telekinesis to inflict a wound to its vitals, so flung the rest of the horse's body at him. Then a large boulder. Both hurt when they hit. Luckily, Rehsen and Weezer had arrived, and were able to help heal Hacker. The giant rushed in, and engaged hacker closely, repeatedly causing him to be flung back so he would have to charge back. Until one turn when Hacker was thrown further than he could charge back, and the enraged giant landed a deadly crushing kick on Weezer. Seeing his brother killed drove Hacker to frenzy, charging up the giant and hacked out its giant jugular. Hacker rode the giant down as it fell, and hacked off its head.
Thine Plot Infliction The Eighth - Plotting Revenge By Killing Everyone
So, the default plan, really.
After the blood stops thundering in Hacker's ears, and he comes to terms with being seasoned, he finds Rehsen kneeling respectfully by Weezer's body. Her head hangs low, and through her tears Hacker can hear her thanking Fate that Weezer died by a fight of his own choosing, and not at the hands of the vile assassins. The remains of the Dire Wolf pack form a loose ring around the humans, with Weezer at the center, and after the huge dark leader wolf catches Hacker's eye he leads the whole pack in a long, reverberating, mournful howl.
Then the pack wheels, and lopes away with surprising alacrity. Save for one 500 kg bitch, who sits resolutely next to Rehsen. Rehsen takes a deep breath, and looks up at Hacker. "OK, big guy, what do you want to do?"
Adventures from December Eighth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Killing Everyone
Cannibal camp. Three dead in two turns. It was awesome.
Another Frost Giant. Poor frost giant; it absorbed more anger than even its giant frame could survive.
Another Aquilonian Fop. Hacked down, then retrieved by a manticore. Someone looking through the manticore's eyes took a good look.
Dead frost giant - assassinated. And an unpleasant sense of being followed. Thence frost giant refuge - occupied by cowardly adventurers (with a wolf-chow horse).
Another another Frost Giant. Fuuuuuun.
An ogre-cursed sniper admitted to suspecting that Hacker was a "wolf monster", but saw that he was not. It marked them and wandered off, using it's stealth to avoid frightening females that would never let it near them if they saw it.
Rehsen extracts healing potions from unwilling adventurers, with some help from a giant wolf.
Thine Plot Infliction The Ninth - Resting From All That Tiring Killing
There is a slight strain-twinge in some of Hacker's hacking muscles.
Adventures from December Fourteenth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - At Least There Was Beer
As Hackmaster-D and DJ Rehsen rapped along, a quintet of bandits sprung out from hiding to try to steal their stuff. One had the right idea - he jumped on the pack horse. Two jumped on the trailing horse with Hacker - only to find that they were not strong enough to move him and had to fight him. The other two jumped to fling Rehsen from her steed, but realized too late that the steed was, in fact, a giant wolf, and didn't particularly want to ride it. After a tumultuous beginning, the fight quickly simplified into Rehsen chasing after their pack horse being ridden by one bandit, and Hacker squaring off to fight 4:1 odds. Rehsen succeeded in retrieving the pack horse - but it needed some healing. Hacker spared the 4 bandits the insult of beating them to death with their own femurs, and did them the courtesy of actually using his sword on them.
Then there was a fat evangelist for the Needy God. It turns out that it is possible to duck lightning. Though, technically, it might have been a parry - which doesn't make sense in hindsight. But the all-powerful referee was suitably eager to cross that encounter off the list.
Another frost giant jogged into view, but left just as quickly - without breaking stride even. It apparently was fleeing an unarmed man in monk's robes. The characters waited until both were gone before continuing.
After days of following a magical compass, the champion Fop (complete with silly hat) rode his giant Leogriff to face the killer of his masters wandering sons. Hacker challenged him to a contest. A couple telling bitchslaps to the head shortly thereafter, and Hacker handed over most of the Fop gold and the two magical Fop swords. He did leave them with a couple respectable shields, though, which was awfully civilized of him, I think.
While Hacker recovered from the mighty bitchslapping, they set up camp. Before much healing could be accomplished, Rehsen had to go and kill a mountain lion. Bad kitty.
The next morning, after swigging some healing potion, they continued down out of the mountains into the high forests of Aquilonia. There they found an encampment of seasoned adventurers who invited them in for drinks. They exchanged stories, and some healing.
Thine Plot Infliction The Tenth - Developing A New Occupation
Feel free to use the Custom Occupations generator to make Hacker's next stage to work on.
Hmmmm... tough to decide. Here's what I'm thinking at the moment:
- Hand to Hand 1
- Will Power 4
- Complex H2H Attack
- Stamina 3D+2
Makes sense. Have you thought of a name for the occupation?
Adventures from December Twenty-First, Two-Thousand and Eleven - Barbarians Don't Talk Much Anyway
First encounter: some traders with guards who had no idea what they were getting themselves into with the Northern Pass into Zingaria. Having the giant wolf sneak up behind them and howling was funny.
Second encounter: a beautiful sorceress. Hostilities were avoided, and she was able to remove all the marks from the cursed weapons of the Assassins of Set.
Third enounter: four green combatants that were actually hiding from our heroes. Hacker made them fight Rehsen so she could earn skill - emphasized by breaking the spine of the guy that tried to escape with a Force Punch.
Fourth encounter: a pack of hunting barbarians. The six set upon the group, but were easily¹ bested due to Hacker and Rehsen's superior tactics. There was one barbarian left at the end who could have explained their motivations, but he was foolish when he awoke and Hacker flinch-beheaded him.
¹ Definitions of "easily" being somewhat variable, in this case referring to the fact that in a toe-to-toe fight the barbarians would probably have defeated them, and that the giant wolf didn't actually participate until after Hacker was dropped by the last should-have-been-dead barbarian.
Thine Plot Infliction The Eleventh - The Chances of Plot Infliction Are Low
Nice! The red is a nice touch.
Adventures from December Twenty-Nineth, Two-Thousand and Eleven - A Lookout, A Were-Elk Ogre, and A Priest
...walked into a role-playing game. The lookout said "owie", and Rehsen earned the final point of skill required for transforming her into a sharpshooter and an auto-healing mage.
The cursed were-elk ogre fought pitilessly with Hacker, and he was a formidable foe. His beastly size and strength gave his attacks terrifying potency, and he was a match for Hacker in terms of the art of hand-to-hand combat. The fight raged and raged, the sounds of their valiant struggle ringing through the woods on the edge of civilization. In the end, there could be only one; and that one was Hacker. Hacker claimed the scary-big 2D pike with 3-meter reach, too.
Hacker and Rehsen arrived at the Camp At The End Of The Road just in time for double-sixes on the old encounter table. A sooty streak flew across the sky and impacted in the center of the camp. There stood a Priest Of Set, and he promptly set about creating three telekinetic assassins out of some guards standing by an Interesting Tent. When the Priest also unleashed an intermediate-scale blast that levelled some of the forest, the odds did not look good.
The troupe focussed their attacks on the Priest, because of his firepower and ability to spawn new combatants. This quickly drove him away, leaving Hacker and Rehsen and the giant wolf to face three seasoned supernatural fighters. With telekinetic powers, the ghouls forced Hacker to be all-defensive - and even so whittled him down with occasional strikes. Rehsen was soon fully occupied with just healing Hacker, leaving just the wolf to nip at the ghouls. Eventually, Hacker managed to heal enough to risk being slightly less defensive, and the wolf succeeded in distracting a portion of the ghoul's attention. This lead to an even more violent phase of the fighting, with Hacker and the ghouls rapidly ablating each other with a series of horrific hits. The undead almost reached a tipping point, where they brought Hacker down. But he was just barely unconscious, and Rehsen's healing brought Hacker back to action an instant later.
With his ability for quick-rise, and his reset dice pool, Hacker wound up a pair of complex hand-to-hand attacks. The augmented damage and vital placements meant that two ghouls were dispatched in one, jaw-dropping turn. The remaining ghoul fought on desperately (trying not to trip on the severed head of one of his comrades) and mostly just made Hacker angrier. Hacker hacked.
The fleeing crowds paused, and immediately hailed Hacker (and his sidekicks to a lesser extent) as a conquering hero. And Interesting-Looking Guy emerged from the Interesting Tent, and extended Hacker an invitation to join him.
Later. Hacker drink first.
Thine Plot Infliction The Twelfth - All About The Interesting Guy
You don't drink for too long, do you?
Nah, not long. I do however chat with the people in the bar tent to see if anyone has any idea where that priest may have fled to.
After that, we head to the interesting guy's tent.
For the most part the array of adventurers at the drinking tent are completely unfamiliar with anything to do with Set. Those that have heard of Priests of Set tell of sinister towers that have sprouted up in some cities, but nothing explicitly anti-Aquilonian has been seen so they have been tolerated. Nobody can make an overly educated guess about where the priest would go. Overall, they have more questions for you than answers.
Interesting Guy is named Cerro Bayo, and the inside of his tent is almost completely filled with extremely fine drink. The parts that aren't casks and skins include an impressive suit of armour, an impressive sword, and an orb in which a different room can be seen. As you enter, Cerro fills a couple generous goblets of wine as a welcome, then clears his throat loudly at the orb. "Hauke! They're here. "
Through the distorted lens of the orb, a caricature of a wizened old man wobbled into the far away room. "Excellent. I hope they're not too drunk yet. " He leans toward the orb in a manner that is extremely unflattering. "So, tell us about this Priest of Set. "
"Don't know much about him, except that he wants to kill us. Well, me anyway. Some bitch god hired them cause I'm a bastard son of her mate, or something like that. It's all kinda confusing, but the main part is that we've been running from them for a while.
The ridiculously old guy leans even closer in, revealing some crater-like pores on his beaky nose. "Well, that fits the modus operandi. But doesn't really tell us anything new." The view skews to a yellow eyeball gazing hard at Interesting Guy. "Cerro, tell them whatever you feel like. Still no word on any other agents seeing streaks of smoke in the sky, but I'll keep checking for a while."
The old guy wanders out of sight with a stiff shuffle.
Cerro raises an eyebrow, then hefts a wineskin. "Refill?"
"Sure. So, you some kind of secret agent army or somethin'?"
Cerro tops up your goblets and takes a drink himself. "Not particularly secret. Information corps of the Aquilonian Army, and we mostly keep tabs on magical activities and on powerful individuals. The Freaks of Set are creepy, and offer nefarious services - with discounts for the aristocracy, which is why they're as tolerated as they are."
"Can you give us any advice on how to deal with them? So far we've been able to fight them off, but I'd rather not be doing this forever."
"Also, if that priest was able to change your guards into gouls, why didn't he do that to us and have us go on a random killing spree until someone put us down?"
Cerro makes a face of distaste, and tries to wash it down with a long draught from his goblet. "The Jerkwads of Set aren't really known for failing, so there's not a lot of precedent for how to get them to back off. BUT, as it happens, know that Hauke and his cadre of creepy old guys are contemplating exactly that idea. Not that that's a lot of help to you right now." Pause. Drink. "As for the guards being ghoulified, it's possible that they might have been suffering from an obedience geas which could have made them more vulnerable to soul-fucking than most people."
Telepathically, Rehsen says to Hacker: "I'm tasting a faint aftertaste of magic in this drink. We shouldn't imbibe too much."
Adventures from January Fifth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Trading Hacks For Whacks
Leaving the campsite at the end of civilization, the seasoned brute the magical sharpshooter and the giant wolf came upon a group of robbers waiting at an ambush. Not actually willing to be ambushed, Hacker approached cautiously while Rehsen and the wolf flanked through the woods. Hacker was able to charge within range of the telekinetic pinecone to engage, while Rehsen appeared from the bushes behind them to shoot them with the magical zap stone. Rehsen retreated back into the foliage, and one of the hand-to-hand combatants followed her - and failed to notice the 1/2-ton wolf hiding there in wait. Horrible crunching sounds that ended the fellow's screams came from the bushes, and Rehsen re-emerged wiping her lips. Which was almost as unnerving as Hacker poking everyone else to death with the big pike. Afterwards, they took the small pile of gold the robbers had managed to accumulate.
A couple hours later, they met the messenger and assassin sent by the robbers' boss (who, presumably had been informed of the encounter telepathically). This time Hacker approached going cover-to-cover, while Rehsen stayed hidden at long range and the wolf flanked. They bypassed the mouthy messenger entirely, and focussed on the rather-stealthy assassin. Unfortunately for the assassin, it didn't adequately gauge Hacker's skill, and by the time it tried to escape it was unable to use stealth due to the waiting wolf. The fight ended very quickly. The messenger was apoplectic, and ended with less honour.
Finally, they made their way to the town, and instinctively made their way to the town's alcoholic watering hole - the Spider and Herb. They barely had time to taste their drink's before the crime boss's enforcer: Grunter. Grunter called out Hacker, and they fought one-on-one. Mostly. Rehsen helped a little bit, but that was only because Grunter was seeming to be slightly more than a match for Hacker - partially due to his extremely cool magical sword. The fight was brutal, and seemed to be going against Hacker as Grunter swung aggressively turn after turn while Hacker had to go all-defensive to survive. In a risky move of tactical genius, Hacker let Grunter hit him - which nearly killed him - but let him go all-aggressive with two attacks while Grunter was dice-less. Which won the fight, the 3D+3 magical sword, and his next stage.
God is at a bit of a loss with respect to what is left on the random encounter tables that can possibly challenge Hacker now.
Thine Plot Infliction The Thirteenth - What Kind Of Pussy Hides With Whores?
Rehsen's magical healing power restored Hacker's health, and you went back to the smithy for information, as I recall. The wolf is still a bit too full from the robber earlier to contemplate eating anyone as large as Grunter.
"That was a bit tense, big guy. When he buried that huge sword in your gut I thought I was going to have to make a run for it. But then, that look of 'ooooh shiiiit' on his face as you wound up that gigantic pike before you drove it through his head: priceless!" She straightens the tattered and blood-smeared tunic she wears. "I realize that you mean to head to the brothel to confront the boss guy - but could we get some new clothes first? The blood-soaked tatters looks kind of works for you, but I'm guessing the professional sex workers might be a bit catty to me. And my feelings are easily hurt."
Just for fun, I calculated Hacker's maximum damaage using his full complex attack, 3D+3 sword, and vital hit. 108!
Hacker looks over Rehsen. "I dunno, the bloak soaked clothing kind of works for me. But, meh, new clothes would be nice too. I'm guessing boss-man began either running or preparing for our arrival the moment I pithed Grunter, so a few more minutes aren't going to matter much."
"And, well, if one of the whores is catty, you could always shoot them. Just say'n..."
We look for a clothing market or tailor shop.
There is really only one commercial street in the small city, and you're on it. It is dusk, and most shops are closing up. You see a set of fussy round ladies being pushed out of a shop by a wizened old Zingarian tailor. He finishes apologizing to the ladies, and as he reaches up to unhook his "Durable Zingarian Fashion" sign he spots you. You size him up instantly: dexterous, but weak and slow, 1 hand-to-hand, completely unthreatening. You also seem him size you up: 197 kg, 2.2 m tall, poor posture, filthy, right limbs slightly longer than the left, no fashion sense to speak of.
"Yeah, I could shoot them. But that's actually kind of like admitting defeat, innit? And I don't like looking like a wretched slob, even though it does have a bit of a fearsome vibe going for it. I would also like to have it so that only wolves and such can track my scent. Hey, that looks like a clothes store over there."
We head over to the clothing store and convince the tailor to stay open just a little longer.
The spry old tailor conforms with the Zingarian stereotype of being fussy and superficial. "Come, you disheveled louts, you'll poison my hard-won reputation by suggesting the possibility that not all Zingarians have impeccable fashion and grooming. I have a tub in the back, and will fetch you some suitable coverings. Hopefully the reek of your burning rags won't poison too many of my neighbours."
I'll let Rehsen have the bath first as she seemed eager for it. I'll look over some descent clothing. I'm guessing the wolf doesn't want a bath.
The wolf is actually a remarkably clean and fastidious creature. Assuming one overlooks that it does most of the work with its tongue, which is kind of gross.
The tailor is making some deft alterations to some of his stock, and has rather fetching ensembles ready for both of you by the time you're done cleaning up. Nothing fancy, but tatter-resistant, unlikely to soak blood, and appropriate for your dark Zingarian complexions. Also lots of concealed-but-accessible pockets (as is typical for Zingarian tastes), and with built-in sheath loops.
"Well, that's awfully nice. How much for this service?"
The tailor shrugs. "You pulled the fangs out of the leech. You've saved me more in protection money than these articles cost."
"Leeches don't have teeth."
"I don't know much about leeches."
"You also probably don't know much about niches. I bet you're back to paying protection money to somebody sooner than you think."
The old tailor shrugs. Rehsen smiles brightly.
Interlude Number One - Ray "Robbie" Stern Has A Bad Afternoon
"Boss? Some big scary guy and a magical sharp shooter just jacked the crew on the Park Road."
"Yeah. Asadullah was the warlock in contact with the team, and he knows most scary people around here. He didn't recognize them, but he did some quick telepathic asking around. They sound like a couple that faced off against some sort of dark priest with insta-zombification powers at the Park."
"Ah. So, potentials."
"Potentially. But whether they're potential recruits or potential pains in the ass remains to be seen."
"Yeah, that's why we'll send Kenny with Cartmann."
"You're sending Cartmann? That guy is such a douche!"
"True, but he's a great litmus test. Anyone that will deal with him AND not try to kill him all the way back to the city will fit in our organization nicely."
"But why make Kenny suffer by having to travel with him?"
"Better him than me. Anyway, have Asadullah or Kara charge up their magic for some prescience on these jerks."
Some prescience later...
"OK, Asadullah's done, and he gets some really confusing mojo swirling around these two. Nothing very specific or useful, but it's worth mentioning that Asadullah is taking his vacation time starting 15 minutes ago."
"No, Grunter. Leave him be... for now. I want you handy in case this goes sour."
"Right, then. Have Kara tell Cartmann and Kenny that this is a retrieve-and-warn operation now. I don't need any more confusing mojo at the moment."
"You got it, boss."
One dead Cartmann and one dead Kenny later...
"Shit! Kara, you're not projecting any phantasms from your bent imagination into that scrying pool, are you?"
"Nooooo, massssterrr. It issss reflected assss I ssssee it."
"Well, fuck. Everybody's evening plans have changed; get me all the boys. A detail of three for protection here, and everybody else will form a hit team for in case they decide not to bypass us."
"You got it, boss. Kara, recall those outside the brothel while I ready the boys on duty."
"Uhhhmmm. There'ssss a problem, ssssirr. Sssquadsss one and thhhrrree arrre not complying. Thhhey werrre warrrned by Asssadullah to avoid thhhisss fight."
"WHAT?! I'm going to fucking kill that Asadullah when I get my hands on him!"
"Yeah, you're right big fella. It can wait until after we deal with this shit. Would you mind chopping them into quivering bits of bloody sushi for me before we gear up to hunt down a prescient-capable warlock?"
"OK, ok. I know you don't like hurting women or children or small furry animals. At least get rid of the big scary guy, and then we can scare off the creepy bitch hassle-free, right?"
One dead Grunter later...
"Wow, boss, I really thought Grunter had him there. But, yowch."
"THAT's fucking IT! Everybody, gear up. We're all going to go and kill these fuck heads for what they did to Grunter!"
Awkward silence settles into the brothel.
"What are you guys waiting for? Let's go!"
"Robbie? Didn't you see what he did to Grunter? And that sorceress with him has healed him up to full health already. AND now he has Vorpelator. He'd mow through us like a hot dragon through maidens made out of warm butter."
"You gutless shits! I'm the Boss here, and we're going to avenge Grunter!"
"Well, Robbie, to be perfectly honest: we only really did what you said because Grunter enforced your will. Without him, you're just a shitty boss with a shitty HR record, and we're a bunch of disgruntled professional goons on moderately shitty wages. Now, we all loved Grunter; he was a great guy. Most of us would probably want to avenge him, but he would be the first one to warn us against cycles of violence without clear purpose. And he would want us to get out of this with our skins, and use this as an opportunity to rethink our life paths. So I think we're all going to walk away, and perhaps start a farming collective."
"What the fuck are you even saying?"
"We're saying you're on your own, Robbie. And it's probably high time to admit that you're a useless nothing whose only feeble grasp onto what little power you had was that Grunter owed a life-debt to your father and tolerated your idiotic shenanigans."
The goons all file out the back, and head away from the Spider & Herb.
"Alssso? Thhhessse adventurrrerrrsss know you'rrre herrre. You ssshhhould rrrun."
Robbie wipes his nose. "Thanks Kara, I appreciate that."
"Don't feel too pleasssed. I only told you ssso I could watch you sssweat." Kara leaves out the front, walking confidently with a spring in her step.
"Shiiiiit. What am I going to do now?"
"You're going to pay your tab."
Robbie looks up at the unsmiling Madame.
"This is the worst afternoon EVER."
Adventures from January Eighteenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - All Hacker's New Friends Tremble A Lot
Having determined that the minor mob-like kingpin had left the city, Hacker and Rehsen decided to take their time moseying out of town. The next morning, as they were having some complimentary breakfast from the thankful innkeep of the Spider & Herb, Hacker and Rehsen were approached by a professional goon who looked like he had recently lost a fight.
He was part of a group of surviving guards who had lost a large wagon-load of treasure the previous night to a marauding troupe of Poitanians. Desperate not to have completely failed their lord (someone named "Housset"), they offered Hacker that he could take as much treasure as he could carry if he would help them track down the thieves. Having no pressing plans, and amenable to lumbering along with a huge pile of gold, our adventurers agree.
Reaching the site of the battle the previous night, the tale of the 6 guards checks out. The trail left by the fleeing wagonload of gold through the mountainous forest is easy to follow, but it appears that they were making haste. So sending Rehsen ahead riding the fleet giant wolf to scout, Hacker and the guards followed as quickly as they could. They spotted their quarry several hours later, from a vantage to view them across a valley where they were struggling to move the wagon up a steep incline of a particularly tooth-like mountain. Hacker's keen eye caught a trickle of smoke coming from a cave high above the tree line in the mountain, and deduced that was the Poitanian's goal. It was also noticed that the huge wagon of gold had every person in the thieves crew assisting with its locomotion, suggesting that their might be no rear guard. They raced across the valley to engage their targets.
As they grew close, they stashed their few horses, and Rehsen with the giant wolf flanked uphill to get a better long-range vantage. Then Hacker sent two of the guards to rush up to the Poitanians, bother them, then retreat and see who they could lure back while the rest waited in ambush. The bait had some success, and brought back three pursuing Poitanians (as well as a couple embedded arrows). Hacker instructed the rest of the guards to wait in case he needed help, then he moved to engage the foes by himself. Using the devastating effect of elaborate attacks, and the telekinetic reach of the Scary Sword, Hacker ripped apart all three in three brutal turns.
Six sets of wide eyes wondering what the hell they had gotten themselves working with watched as Hacker went alone to be the lure for next action against the Poitanians. This time the Poitanians had set a watch with their scariest range combatant: a sniper of deadly prowess. As terrifyingly effective as he might have potentially been, not noticing Hacker until he was within telekinetic reach, then losing initiative, then flubbing his duck roll so that he was beat by 10 meant that he was down before he could do anything cool. He was also out of reach, and nobody among the Poitanians had the presence of mind to pick him up. Which meant that the minor splash of healing potion he got didn't help much after the next turn when Hacker telekinetically turned him into bloody pulp.
Hacker retreated, expecting to be followed.
Thine Plot Infliction The Fourteenth - Five Seconds Before The Bloodshed Resumes
The sunshine actually filters in a lovely dappled pattern through the trees onto the jumbled boulders. Though it's hard to focus on that over the howls of bloodlust from the Poitanians who just had their comrade blitched in front of them. They really do sound quit angry. It's the gurgling phlegmy rattling at the end of the yells that really conveys the emphasis.
Adventures from February Ninth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Dragonus Interruptus
4 of the Poitanians swallowed Hacker's bait and charged after him furiously and with abandon. The first caught up with him just past the obscuring jam of logs at the bottom of the rockslide, and was brutally tele-bludgeoned to lifeless pulp out of sight of his peers. The second arrived the following turn, and was treated to an even more abrupt telekinetic doom - but this time in full view of his fellows. It was suitably sobering to see his skull burst like a prop at a Gallagher show, and the deadly team started acting in a more coordinated manner.
They tried flanking Hacker, but tactical information telepathically shared from Rehsen help Hacker to adjust their relative motions an lead them back to the intended ambush. It turned into a meat grinder, with the Poitanians using their superior numbers to avoid taking any significant risks while the kept Hacker cornered and one of their heavies systematically thumped the unorganized Aquilonian guardsmen. Eventually hacker had to retreat, with a prickly seasoned battle midget besetting him, which left the Aquilonians to be shredded by the Poitanians.
Hacker was devising a counterstrike strategy when combat was stunned by the arrival of a large green dragon. It dove onto the barely-guarded treasure wagon, and leapt into the air with it - dragging the horses aloft by their harness. The giant avian reptile took hideous bites out of the screaming steeds as it thrashed the air for altitude. Curiously, it hauled the gold to the cave in the top of the peak, shoved it in hurriedly, and fled.
This dispirited the Poitanians who largely disengaged and not so much retreated as sulked away.
Reviving an abandoned Poitanian raider, it was learned that the cave was the tribute-site for a black dragon called Morkeleb. Being overly curious, Hacker then mentally queried Zoltan, the fearsome Zingarian strategic spellcaster they had met, who confirmed some of the more worrisome aspects of the being called Morkeleb.
And so Hacker, Rehsen on her giant wolf, Surviving Dude, Possum Dude, and Chicken Dude set off north in order to rejoin the road to Tarantia.
Thine Plot Infliction The Fifteenth - On The Road Again
To Rehsen: "Y'know, the whole idea of getting lots and lots of gold appeals to me. Now that we can handle them, I can think of a lot more magical items that could be handy. And if we're heading to a big city, I'm sure we can find someone who sells 'em."
Surviving Dude: "After we reach the road tomorrow-ish, if you ride your steed hard and with only barest necessary pause, Tarantia is only a couple day's going."
Possum Dude: "Of course, there are lesser cities along the way that you could get magical items at too."
Surviving Dude: "Aye, but of relatively meager power. Tarantia is rich with powerful artifacts."
Chicken Dude: "And those that can wield them!"
Possum Dude: "And those than would take them!"
Surviving Dude: "Fie! My newly-won stage of Defender makes you both pitiful to me."
Possum Dude: "And my recently-maxxed stress points suggest that you should find congress with female canines."
Chicken Dude's eyes brim with tears to see his friends fighting.
Rehsen (telepathically): "Maybe we should just ride on and leave them behind - so that the wolf doesn't get so annoyed that it eats them."
Rehsen: "You're assuming that I would want to avoid watching the wolf eat them." I chuckle evilly to myself.
The chuckling makes Chicken Dude eye you nervously. Except, you know, without making eye contact.
It seems likely that Rehsen has some sort of semi-permanent mental link with the wolf, because it starts drooling.
Adventures from February Fifteenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Stygian Archers
A short march later, night fell and the adventurers built a camp. They cooked up a barely-edible crispy array of aging rations, and set up a watch cycle. Early in the evening, a pair of Poitanians approached the camp and warned about dangers associated with having an open campfire at night in Poitain (it attracts dragons). In the middle watch, a loud roaring cacophony of fiery lizard was intently interested in a craggy piece of mountainside a few kilometers away. It ended after a short fuss, and flickering flames silhouetted the departing dragon in the air. Nobody felt like venturing closer just yet. During the last watch, Hacker could faintly detect the nocturnal aerial population of intermediate-scale carnivores. A few hours before dawn, he could hear the sounds of a large group of people at the site of the lizardly midnight conflagration. Hacker, Rehsen, and the giant wolf went to investigate.
They sped silently and swiftly through the rugged dark, and found only a few warriors watching over a village's worth of young and old attending to the remains of a massacre. Hacker approached, and was unmolested. He learned that they were from a settlement of dragon-fishers who had suffered an accident (in that they had accidentally attracted a dragon that was too powerful). Curiosity sated, they returned to the Three Dudes.
As dawn broke, they broke camp and resumed tracking north. Before lunch, they were ambushed by some Stygian archer bounty hunters.
The four archers were accustomed to whittling away foes at range, but the fleetness of the wolf over the uneven ground bypassed their advantage. Hacker mauled them savagely, and they resorted to their magical arrows infused with intermediate scale explosive power. They blew apart Hacker's shield and brought the seasoned combatant all the way down to zero stamina. But with his willpower, Hacker would not fall, and finished them.
Thine Plot Infliction The Sixteenth - Crooked Trees and Leprechauns
The previous day, in addition to marching they also had Rehsen expend magical points to conjure some prescience - for the purposes of divining some treasure. The vision she formulated was of a giant, crooked tree that arched over and pointed at a leprechaun. Whatever that means.
So, now if we dump Rehsen's points to uber-locate, could we try to 'locate' the crooked tree? Might we worth a try.
Do you keep travelling while Rehsen meditates?
Nah, probably want to stay near where she had the 'good hint', and go from there. We head off the path a bit and have a rest while Rehsen meditates.
There really isn't a path, so it's more about finding a suitably concealing but defensible crag amongst the boulders and sparse trees. It takes just two quiet hours for Rehsen to meditate back up to full points. Rehsen then dumps it all into +4 preternatural locate, and with mega-dilated pupils she swivels her head and says, "There it is." She points, but it doesn't help much. "I marked the tree, for when this locate power fades. It's kind of on our way North to the road."
Adventures from February Twenty-Second, Two-Thousand and Twelve - There Be Dragons.
Approaching the infamous Leprechaun Tree, the group finds a lone surly Pictish warrior named Zentrix lurking by the entrance to a cave. It seems that inside is a small fire-breathing wyrm that he and his friends intended to kill for its treasure - but it instead managed to eat his friends. Hacker and Rehsen decide to give it a try.
While Zentrix is somewhat formidible in terms of damage-dealing, it turns out that the trick is not to waste attacks battering away at the rock-encrusted shielded head of the wyrm. Hacker finds that stabbing it repeatedly in the eye and wiggling Vorpilator in its brain much more effective. They harness up the horses and the wolf to drag out the corpse, gather its 3kg of treasure and skin it for possible use as shields. And have some barely-edible mud-dragon steaks.
Heading forth with the heaps of dragon hide slung between The Dudes (because the horses freak if they get too near to it), the group wandered near a dragon-hunting village. Seeing them laden with spoils, a group of 10 villagers went out to "greet" the group. Hacker casually use Voriplator's blunt telekinesis to rip the head off the first one, and sent it smashing devastatingly into the face of the second, then with his second attack force-punched out the heart of another. The rest fled. The group bypassed the village.
As sun was setting, the adventurers made their way to a village that had paid dragon extortion for conditional safety. The village guards went apoplectic when they noticed the fresh stinking hide of dead dragon, and desperately sent them away. Venturing away in the dark, wary of possible repercussions of attracting dragons, they found a natural springs to wash and hide the dragon skins. Unfortunately, an unpleasant large Red Dragon noticed a particular reek at the village, and forced one of the guards to help it track the adventurers.
That's when things got sketchy.
The dragon opened by going airborne and blasting down with a fireball (4D). Rehsen lined up one of the magical intermediate-scale arrows, and landed a particularly effective blast on its vitals. The pain drove the dragon into a fury, and it dropped on the group to attack with its terrifying 3D intermediate scale bite/claw attack. It landed a solid hit on the giant wolf, who had just picked up Rehsen. Rehsen threw herself from the dead wolf steed before it was swallowed. The dragon snapped and slashed; Hacker and Zentrix waded in and hammered at it as best they could, and Rehsen got another couple magical arrow hits in. Even the Survival Dude managed to overcome his dread and help out. With 65 intermediate-scale stamina, the adventurers could only slowly whittle away at it. Terrifyingly, in its barbaric fury the dragon attacked aggressively - and any hit it made meant instant death. And so Zentrix perished in one hit.
A particularly potent turn, where Hacker accepted a stress point so that he could use an extra frenzied attack, both brought the dragon close to collapse and also made it realize it should shift to ranged combat. It leapt into the air. But before it could beat its massive wings, Hacker landed two more telekinetic hits and caused it to fall. With the horrific beast prone, Hacker and Rehsen hurried to finish it before it had a change to awaken - which took a couple more tense turns.
In the aftermath, Chicken Dude and Possum Dude were long gone. The less-flinchy horse was reduced to catatonic terror. The more-flinchy horse had simply accumulated too many stress points, and turned into a Reever. It ate the other horse.
Thine Plot Infliction The Seventeenth - Loose Ends
Ok, first thing's first. Though somewhat tactless, I search Zentrix's body for the kilogram of gold I recently shared with him. Then I think we should have a quick burial for both him and wolfy.
Regarding the skill - let's give both me and Rehsen 9, and the defender dude 5.
To Rehsen: "I'm thinking we should go find that guy that led the dragon to us. If he's familiar with the dragon, he may know where it's lair was and there might be a bunch of unguarded gold there."
Reaching Zentrix and wolfy takes some dedicated butchery through intermediate-scale flesh.
Next: stages. Rehsen goes up in repeater, as planned - shock-shooter achieved. Survivor Dude is at 46 skill, and has the dull glow of anticipation of being seasoned. It's possible he's going up in scout. What does Hacker go up in for his seventh stage?
The villager that brought the dragon doesn't need to be found; he wanders, dazed and disbelieving into your midst while you butcher the monster to extract gold and lay your comrades to rest.
"You... killed... it? It's... dead?" It's hard to tell whether he's more relieved or worried about possible consequences.
The Survival Dude (who will, eventually, get a name - I'm just drowning in name-picking controversies and don't feel like committing to anything) unobtrusively stands behind the guy from Judas Village to prevent him from going anywhere before you have a chance to talk with him.
Rehsen, telepathically as she buries wolfie while tears stream down her face: "If he's not sufficiently useful, he dies."
For the 7th stage, I would like a stage called 'Hackinator', which is just a slight variation of repeater: Extra Attack, Complex H2H Attack, 2D Stamina.
I wander up to the villager, covered in dragon gore, with a muderous expression on my face. "Do you know where it's lair is?" I try to convey non-verbally that his life depends on his answer.
Rehsen telepathically: "Indeed. And after him, I think that village needs to pay us some tribute... I'm kind of hoping they won't."
3 attacks. +32 damage complex attack. Dice say 8 more stamina. Appropriate awareness and willpower nudges. Scary.
The villager's pupils collapse into pinpricks as realization floods him. He drops to a very respectful bow. "No, lord dragonbane. B-but I can find someone who does."
Rehsen rubs her hands, to dust away the dirt and dried blood, and glowers like the seasoned shock-shooter she is.
Survival Dude says to no one in particular, "You know, I bet that if the whole village hurried, they would be able to move all the valuable parts of this carcass to a city before night fell again." He's cleaning and sharpening Zentrix's axe absently as he covers the villager's only obvious escape route.
To villager: "At the village?" If he replies yes, then we all start heading there.
"N-no. There's a w-witch that lives in the brambles who can divine things. There's not much that goes on in this area that she doesn't knoEEEEEAAAAAAGH!" The Reever horse had quietly wandered up and bit off one of his fingers. It chews the severed digit slowly, with grisly crunching noises, and glowers insanely at the freshly horrified villager. Nine Fingers leaps up from his bow and cradles his injured hand, trembling. Except it's not trembling, exactly. It's more like he visibly wilts from Hacker's presence, and shies away from the Reever horse, and the glowering shockshooter lady, and the dour axe-weilding Aquilonian, such that the superposition of all the cumulative avoidances have him in unstable containment.
The Weezer Stone appears in Rehsen's clasp. Telepathically, she says to Hacker, "Divination by a person we have to find hardly qualifies as 'sufficiently helpful'. I can divine myself, possibly taking less time."
"I agree. Revenge is more important than gold anyway. Kill him. We'll take his head back to the village."
To the late villager: "I'm afraid our horse is still hungry."
I'll help Rehsen if she needs it, but otherwise I'll just watch the show.
Rehsen shoots out one of his knees. He thinks to make a hobble for it, but she shoots out his other knee before he can hop very far. He starts desperately dragging himself away with just his arms. Rehsen locks gaze with the Reever horse, and it snorts then clomps over and pins the guy under its forehooves. It's kind of quiet, because the guy can't scream with the horse keeping his lungs deflated, just manages some pathetic frothy wheezing before he passes out. The chomping sounds are pretty awful, though. The Reever horse seems genuinely pleased that the guy's heart is still fluttering by the time it gnaws through his spine to get to it. It's quite messy.
Survival Dude comments, "I have a feeling that horse won't be bothered by carrying dragon scales any more."
"When I connected with it telepathically, to tell it to eat the villager to death, its mind was a burned-out wasteland. I honestly don't know how it's functioning." Reever horse gazes insanely at Rehsen, as if it knows she's talking about it.
CHUNT! Zentrix's axe removes the villager's head quite effectively. "Want this in a sack? Or just dangle it by the hair?"
I never thought "I'll feed you to my horse" would ever be a viable threat.
"In a sack. It will be more dramatic for the big reveal that way."
To the village!
Adventures from February Twenty-Ninth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Annoying Village Without Treasure.
Loading the Reaver horse with the best dragon scales, the group returned to the village of the dragon-serving weenies. The sentries were not pleased at Hacker's disregard for them, and one ran off to rouse the emergency guard. All the most fearsome hunters rushed Hacker simultaneously, which turned out to be a mistake.
With all the best hunters gone, the village realized that they had no way to pay the tribute to the dragons and would soon be dragon chow if they stayed - actually something that had haunted most of their thoughts for quite some time. So pretty much everybody fled. Which was one stress point too many for the chief who had spent his pathetic career supplicating to intermediate-scale flying lizards who only considered his people as a source of nourishment. So when Hacker strode in asking insanity like where the horrifying dragons live, the little fat man snapped and started waving around his mostly-ceremonial sword.
This the point at which Hacker stopped paying attention to reality, and Rehsen with the Survival Dude pulled the spluttering chief aside, gagged him, and stuffed him in a closet.
Thine Plot Infliction The Eighteenth - Internetus Interruptus
It's as though reality paused in mid sentance and went on a vacation. Where are you reality? Where!?!
Anyway, had the village chief attacked Hacker yet, or was he still complaining about him killing everyone? I think once we're done with him we're going to leave and start heading out of the area. I think it might be best if we avoided any more dragons.
Now that the chief is merely a muffled whimper and some feeble thumping, Rehsen looks thoughtful. "Time to conjure up some prescience and find the dead dragon's hoard?"
"Sure. I'll keep watch outside." I head outside and keep watch over the abandoned village.
The village is empty of humans, but the guard dogs were left behind - too noisy when hiding from dragons in the wild. Unfortunately, they were left tied up, and the Reaver horse is eating them.
After an hour of meditation, Rehsen only manages to acquire 4 points of Magic, so can only summon a "Good Hint" instead of a "Juicy Morsel", she's inclined to go for it and then follow it up with some Locate.
"Go for it."
The Good Hint summons an image of a ruined castle perched on the side of a mountain. The following hour of meditation generates 3 points of Magic which she ports into Locate. Amusingly, she locates two candidate castles in the vicinity (within a day's march) and marks them both.
Cool. Abandoned castles are always fun. Let's hope we pick the one that doesn't still have a dragon in it. :) Let's let Rehsen meditate back the healing and then head to one of them.
Rehsen: "Let's just go. You're still big enough that I can ride on your shoulder and meditate - like back in the old days. It's almost a day's travel anyway, and I'd rather not hang out in any one place too long in dragon country with a horse-load of dragon scales."
Survival Dude: "Strictly speaking, I think we might not be really adequately prepared."
Rehsen: "Afraid of facing another dragon?"
Survival Dude: "Well, yes. Absolutely. But even assuming we don't run across any more intermediate-scale monsters, our single horse is too crazy to avoid being killed, and is already fully-laden with dragon scales. How much of a dragon's hoard would we really be able to make off with anyway?"
"I think time is of the essence here too. I'm not sure how often the dragons talk to each other, but sooner or later they're going to realize that one of their brethern has been killed. In that case I'd guess they'd go after the treasure themselves. I say we head to a castle. If we find a place to get fresh horses on the way, great, but if not we continue on anyway. If we find treasure, we leave behind most of the scales and take as much treasure as we can."
Survival Dude: "Do we even know how valuable dragon scales are? How do we compare them in value, in terms of what the cannibal horse can carry, with respect to gold? Or gems? Or magical items? Maybe we should just stash the dragon scales and come back for them later. Though, I'd be worried about somebody else with Magic digging them up."
Rehsen: "Meditating here to get back some very important auto-healing power... shut the hell up. OR at least use your telepathic artifacts."
Reaver Horse: Sees squirrel. Quivers with possibility of chasing arboreal rodent up tree.
I smile and shut the hell up. I think about getting a magic horseshoe that would allow the Reaver horse to shoot evil red energy beams out of his eyes. I have a feeling he doesn't have to worry about any more stress points.
The Reaver horse is indeed totally unconcerned about additional stress points, in much the same way that it's not worried about the horrific gas it is now producing due to having a digestive system completely unsuited to processing raw meat and splinters of bone.
About four hours later, Rehsen has insta-heal plus her spare point of Magic handy. And seems ready to resume adventuring.
Esdi (Survival Dude): "Did you have a hard time meditating while riding on Hacker?"
Rehsen: "No, not at all."
Esdi: "Huh. That seemed to take you a bit longer than I would have expected."
Rehsen: "Ah. Well, it's possible that I wasted a couple hours applying an intermediate scale magical blast to that chief's necklace that I had marked when we shoved him in the closet."
Now that you think about it, you thought you might have heard some storm-less thunder a couple hours ago.
ASIDE: Such a magical feat is not impossible, just impossible for Rehsen. Hacker, being a little limited intelligence-wise, has no reason to doubt it. Esdi is completely unwilling to challenge either Hacker or Rehsen about not-tactically-imminent stuff.
By the time the sun is setting in earnest, the group rounds a ridge and sees their target ruin of a castle across the valley clinging to the side of another pointy mountain. The closest the group came to action was when a Poitanian hunting party crossed paths with them. The heavily-armed Poitanians looked quite interested in the load of dragon scales, but when they realized that they were somewhat unwilling to confront the steed carrying the treasure, reconsidered even talking to the group.
As the light fades, Hacker and Rehsen can see what appears to be a small army - several hundred fighters - marching down the valley beyond. The army is about three times as far from the castle as the adventurers - 9 kilometers versus 3 - and the army will not be within line-of-sight of the ruins until they are virtually upon it. It is also unknown if the ruined castle is their destination, or if they will stop and camp soon.
Adventures from March Fourteenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Eggs
Pushing on to the ruined castle in the dark, they found the central structure well-flattened all around the cyclopean main tower which was carved out of solid granite. Rehsen was able to scale the 60-meter smooth face (thanks to a tactical augmentation of telekinesis) up to the obviously-enlarged dragon access opening. Securing a rope, Hacker and SD were then able to follow. They explored inside by torchlight to find the bottom of the echoing cavern to be a solidified pool of still-hot gold.
They sought to quickly recover as much treasure as possible before the army could arrive, but discovered that while gold might be softer than steel it is still quite tough. So the best they could collect with their scraping knives was a slow accumulation of shavings. Rehsen kept watch while Hacker and SD toiled.
Three scouts arrive, and with some sort of magical power are able to scamper up the tower easily. They didn't get to see much before Hacker dispatched them, but it seemed likely that the main army would know about their demise via some magical means. To speed up their gold-gathering, they tried working on the softer gold in the middle of the lair. That's when Hacker found the eggs.
Unfortunately, Hacker is hugely powerful. Almost anybody else wielding a slightly-blunted knife to see how solid the oval gold-encrusted protrusions were would have barely chipped the extremely tough shell. Instead, Hacker crunched through the shell, reducing the viable dragon's eggs from three to two. At this point, Hacker mostly just wanted to get away with as much gold as possible, and as far away from the damaged egg as he could.
Then the whole lair was mentally hailed by a wizard calling himself "Manfred the Magnificent". He seemed particularly interested in the eggs, with little concern about the tons of gold in the lair. It was not hard to divine that Manfred was a lying weasel who had little intention of keeping his word, but nevertheless Hacker negotiated for some sort of agreement. The focus on the eggs over the yellow treasure bothered Hacker, so he decided to consult Zoltan.
After mentally zapping Hacker for disturbing him, the Zingarian Tactical Spellcaster confirmed the extreme worth of dragon's eggs - both to military interest and even more so to sorcerous persons. Indeed, Zoltan instructed that one egg should be brought to him as soon as possible, and that Rehsen should bond with the other.
Continuing to negotiate with Manfred the Magnificent, they agreed to meet at another ruined castle a day's march away, to exchange the eggs for their lives and possibly some gold - it doesn't really matter, as both parties were blatantly lying anyway. Manfred pretended to march the army away, but actually just had them move out of sight around a ridge. This gave Hacker, Rehsen, SD and the Reaver Horse an opening to fun for it - but not much of one. Manfred expected to simply have the army chase down the egg bearers and kill them.
Of course, you can't have hundreds of people running through the night in Poitain without attracting some draconic attention. A big brown brute flew overhead, and gobbled up a few large mouthfuls of crunchy snacks that tasted good with ketchup.
Sensing the fleet frontrunners of the army would catch up too soon, Hacker bade the rest to continue fleeing while he waited in ambush. He didn't have to wait long before 6 extremely fast combatants sprinted up. With horrible skill, devastating speed, and considerable power wielding a keen blade, Hacker sliced apart the first three in one bloody moment. The remaining three threw themselves aggressively at him, but only managed to inflict minor wounds. Hacker cleaved asunder the remaining three with even more brutal ferocity than the instant before. He swung Vorpilator an extra time to sluice the blood from it, and began chasing after his comrades again, before the next squad of mercenaries could catch up to them.
Thine Plot Infliction The Nineteenth - A Funny Feeling
Rehsen contacts Hacker telepathically. "I think this dragonling's name is... Cleophus...?"
"I thought you were going to hold off contacting the egg for a bit? Cleophus huh? I was thinking of naming it Eggbert."
Rehsen: "That thinking was entirely in line with my own thinking. But then the stupid thing contacted me telepathically to tell me its name. Incidentally, and for the record, I am not actually insane now. No matter what SD says, and despite the fact that I may have, indeed, momentarily clucked like a chicken really loudly. It was just mental glitch as my mental circuit breaker tripped and I let go of some Magic points. But I'm totally fine now. Boc boc bawk."
"Wait, are you telling me that you spontaneously started clucking like a chicken AND I MISSED IT?!?! Man, this world is a cruel one."
Rehsen: "I always knew you were an evil sonuvabitch."
Adventures from March Twenty-Fourth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Hacker Versus A Small Army
Hacker caught up with the team thanks to his greater capability for movement, and availed himself to some quick healing. More fast-moving squads were closing in fast, so Hacker and Rehsen waited in another ambush while SD was instructed to take the eggs to Zoltan in Zingaria along with the Reaver Horse laden with dragon scales.
The ambush did not work very well. The first group of 5 were merely bait for a following set of 20 who were travelling more stealthily. As Hacker and Rehsen were enveloped by fighters, they were unable to flee from the main body of the sorcerer's host. While the first few died very suddenly because of their eagerness, the rest fought in a more coordinated and patient pattern which let them stay somewhat safer from Vorpilator's fearsome arcs. Unfortunately, that meant they had very little advantage to press in close quarters, and since their archers were recently turned into a dragon snack they had to risk going toe-to-toe with the brutal Hacker. It was a defense-heavy dance, where steel sang against steel over and over, with only occasional hits being landed.
Deeming that this was taking too long, the command was given shift to go all-aggressive. Knights threw themselves at Hacker, and started to land some hits to wear him down. Mostly, though, Hacker was able to parry the majority of the onslaught, and against the enfeebled parries Vopilator became like a scythe harvesting wheat. The vast numbers of the knights would certainly kill Hacker eventually, but not before he killed scores of them.
Through all this, Rehsen was only forced to defend against the overflow from the surge to get at Hacker, which gave her occasional opportunities to unleash some of the power of her quadrupled Magic. She chanced to spot the wizard, and landed a snarky hit to this face. He retaliated with a much more potent blast, but not having sufficient combat skill to intersect Rehsen's skilled ducking caused the wizard to waste his energy.
As Hacker started to falter, Rehsen dashed over to apply some of their horde of healing potion. Then she guessed that the wizard would preferentially have fighters of lesser willpower - to better control them - and dumped her last spare point of magic into Alter Emotion, to broadcast an aura of terror. The horde drew back from them, and Hacker swept up Rehsen to sprint towards the place where the wizard had taken cover - through the middle of the army. The terrified fighters parted before his charge, with only an occasional knight finding sufficient bravery to swing a sword at their passing (and, usually, being beheaded for their daring). Just before it was too late, the wizard peeked out from his facial-healing to wonder at the changing sounds of the fighting. Seeing the onrushing doom and the avoidant response from his army, he lent his own willpower to command them to attack Hacker again. And Rehsen blasted him in the face again.
Hacker immediately slowed to resume his grim exchange of blood, and required Rehsen to aid him with healing. By the time they finished fighting their way across the army to the wizard's cover, he had fled.
But not far enough; Rehsen dropped him with another eldritch blast to his head. The wizard fell, and another blast a moment later sealed his fate.
With the wizard dead, the army's horror reasserted itself along with the even more grim knowledge that they weren't going to get paid. The headless army and the adventurers parted ways.
Thine Plot Infliction The Twentieth - Spirituous
Rehsen: "I want to do some meditating."
"Sure. So, how many points are you capable of now?" I let her hop on my back and we head into the forest.
Rehsen's eyes are heavy-lidded to prepare for entering a trance after she climbs onto your shoulder. "I have a willpower of 14, so that's my functional limit. But my native points have been quadrupled, so technically I could do 20 now. Had a scary moment as everything was quadrupling, and had to let most of them slip away."
SD: "After she clucked like a chicken, she said, 'Laugh all you want, but if you drop that egg I'll shoot both of your eyes out and command angry weasels to eat you alive.' I don't think she was joking, neither."
Adventures from March Twenty-Eighth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - The Most Dangerous Condiment
As the trio made their way Westward through the Pointy Mountains, they caught a glimpse on the horizon of an approaching flying draconic shape. As it approached, they hid to wait for it to pass. As it swept by, they saw that it was being ridden by the craven Priest of Set, and they were following the group magically. Luckily, they had hidden sufficiently well that they were not spotted, and so the dragon-riding Priest of Set started a spiral search pattern that eventually gave the group a chance to slink away.
They came across the settlement of Fort Denel, a subterranean stronghold of dragon hunters. There they were given a chance to rest, and cash in their treasure of large red dragon scales in return for a fortune of gold and some finely-wrought dragon scale shields. It also gave Rehsen a chance to create some powerful healing rings, and to set her magic to brimming.
The next morning, they left Denel and renewed their journey. Within an hour of leaving, they came across a group of adventurers looking for dragon gold. They had already been helped by another village that had told them the way to Morkeleb's treasure cave, and had equipped them with "dragon repelling ketchup" that they were supposed to smear on themselves before plunging in. Sadly, they had lost their bearings, and needed Hacker and Rehsen's help reorienting themselves to get to Morkeleb's treasure.
It was around mid-day when the Priest of Set riding his dragon found the group. He swooped toward them with his eldritch Locate power so that he could let the dragon roast them. Except that now he faced a fully-charged sorceress who also happened to be a shock-shooter. Rehsen summoned a terrifying ship-scale ability for energy attack. The Priest of Set saw this mystical coalescence of doom just in time, and shifted to his fleet vapour form right before Rehsen blew the dragon's head off with one blinding/thundering shot. With the threat so quickly dispatched, Rehsen wound down the remnants of her formidable power by committing gigantic acts of vandalism on the nearby mountains. "REHSEN WAS HERE"
Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-First - Encroaching Madness
Quietly, Hacker seeths with knowledge that if he wields Vorpilator with his current level of Stress he may suffer some permanent mental harm. The best way he knows to vent them is to slay Frost Giants.
Rehsen: "Shall we shift slightly North so that we can travel along the road West? It should be faster travelling."
SD: "Travelling the Aquilonian Southern Border Road with a hundred kilograms of gold will probably be noticed, which could get annoying."
Rehsen: "What you call 'annoying', I call 'volunteers for target practice'."
SD: "Fair enough. And it's not like they're going to be able to steal the horse. And the Big Guy did just wade through an entire army, which should temper most people's ambitions aggression-wise."
Grumbling at the stress points and the realization that Rehsen is now way more powerful then him, Hacker mutters: "Let them come. I'll rip their heads off with my bare hands. In fact, maybe we should make a big 'We got gold' sign."
Rehsen giggles, then lets out a long sigh. "I'm not sure how I'm ever going to earn any skill ever again. And I'm worried that Cleophus is going to be a vulnerable weakling for years to come, so we're going to have to hide. Do you think we should ask Zoltan if we can stay with him?"
SD: "Zoltan? What's a Zoltan?"
"We can ask him when we see him. Once we get past the frost giants again and meet up with Zoltan, I think both of us will be powerful enough to stop running from the bounty hunters. We could either stay with Zoltan, or find a village somewhere to raise Cleophus. Staying with Zoltan would be advantageous though, if we can trust him. It could serve as a home base while we go out adventuring. Maybe take the fight back to the Priests of Set.
SD: "Zoltan's a he. We met him a while back. Powerful magician."
Rehsen: "Oh, I think you've stopped running away from bounty hunters a while ago. We've mostly been going on inertia. But I have a visceral suspicion that I won't want to be very far from Cleophus, so adventuring might be a bit truncated for me."
SD: "And yet, you don't feel compelled to carry him yourself."
Rehsen: "He's heavy and awkward, and you're a big manly man. Besides, your main skill is in ducking and running away; I need my arms free to BLOW THE FUCKING HEADS OFF OF FUCKING DRAGONS."
Reaver Horse: [Casts a sidelong glance at SD hungrily.]
SD: "Don't even think about it, freak-steed. I'll duck you so hard that your farts will start sounding like quacks."
Adventures from April Eleventh, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Swords Are For Wimps
The Egg Bearers travelled North to the road, and then decided to backtrack a bit to the small fortified town where they found Vorpilator so that they could procure some mounts. Once there, they decided to augment the Reaver Steed so that it could keep up with their new, fast horses - which would take a few hours of meditation by Rehsen. While they waited, Hacker strolled over to Ye Olde Spider and Herb tavern to pick up some pints.
As it happens, the bar was a trap where the cursed Priest of Set lay in wait to create an ongoing array of zombie assassins to slay Hacker. Further, due to the stress Hacker suffered from overexposure to magical healing recently he was unable to wield Vorpilator. However, Hacker bypassed the horrific odds by persuading the other trapped bar patrons to point out the hidden Priest. He then proceeded to pummel him to death, finishing him off with a particularly gruesome punch through the heart to rip out his spine (and then smacking the corpse with the flail-like head).
Hacker took the head as a trophy back to show Rehsen, who turned it into a shrunken healing talisman for the Reaver Horse.
They left the town, with a cautionary warning by the guards at the gate that there were rumours about a planned ambush. With the group's newfound alacrity, they came upon the ambush quickly - luckily spotting well in advance. Hacker left the rest of the group waiting as he crept through the woods to twist the heads off of the would-be robbers one by one. He got a few of them before they managed to locate him, and then the fight was brief and extremely one-sided.
Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Second - A Relative Lack Of Enemies
Rehsen: "So, what's our plan? Beyond just delivering the one dragon egg to Zoltan, and hoping Cleophus and I can hide there too, I mean."
"Well, as soon as you go up another stage, you'll have scary prescience. I'm wondering if we can conjure up a way for me to attack the bitch god who sent the Priests of Asshole-Set on me. I figure I won't really be able to avenge Weezer until I can get to the source itself."
Rehsen: "Makes sense: with suitably high prescience I could help you out telepathically even while babysitting Cleophus. Perhaps even finding some sort of Familiar that I could train for possession, so that I could do some in-situ low-level spellcasting as you head to Kordavaª."
SD: "Wait. Let me get this straight. The plan is to go hunting frost giants to help de-stress from killing dragons, so that we can leave behind the Epic Range Weapon Girlie and go hunting for an evil goddess?"
The Reaver Horse looks over hungrily as it canters along with the ridden steeds.
SD: "Quiet, you."
Rehsen: "Except I don't think she's a goddess - just a spouse that got cheated on by the act of Hacker's conception."
SD: "Oh. Shit. It's possible that an evil goddess might be less worrisome."
ª The original location of the bitch god who assigned the bounty hunters and the Assassins of Set were divined by the creepy witch-lady back in your home village and verified by Gaikan the wandering priest, and it's assumed that Hacker or possibly Weezer mentioned that at some point.
Adventures from April Nineteenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Ninjas
They returned to the Campsite at the End of the Road, and had a drink with Cerro Bayo, the frontier outpost officer of the Aquilonian Intelligence Force. Then they left up the mountain pass towards the Zingarian border.
As they wound their way upward, they passed by a large trade caravan with a formidable array of professional guards. Hacker, Rehsen and SD were asked to please stay at a safe distance. Then they found a pair of brigands lying in wait to ambush travellers - one got their head blown off and the other was allowed to flee.
Night fell and they set up camp. During the middle watch, they were set upon by 6 NINJAS. They managed to assassinate Rehsen, though she was quickly up again thanks to her healing ring and formidable willpower. SD was able to stay alive long enough to watch Hacker whittle most of them them to death, and deliver the takedown blow on one.
One was left alive long enough to be telepathically interrogated.
Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Third - Wait... Flying Steed?!?
"So, Rehsen, do you think you can find the steed those ninjas came in on?"
Rehsen: "Do you think it's time-critical? I'd prefer to meditate back some [magic] points first."
SD: "WooHOO! Did you see how I totally didn't die there?"
Reaver Horse leers.
SD: Shrugs. "Just trying to maintain a positive self-image despite immediate comparisons."
"If it carried all of those ninja's here, it could potentially carry us all to Zoltan. Have you got enough points for some mental commanding? We might be able to find it the old fashion way without magical locate."
"I mean I'm all for travelling this pass and killing a bunch of frost giants, but with every encounter there's a chance the eggs will be damaged. If we could fly over the pass, drop off you and the eggs with Zoltan, and then maybe SD and I can go do some giant killing while you help us remotedly. Or like you said, find a familiar you can possess."
"So, yeah, I think it's time critical. Let's at least go find out if it's still around."
To SD: "Totally awesome not dying. And that one head-shot was sweet."
Rehsen: "Those ninja were 50kg each. That puts the bottom limit on potentially only being able to carry you and me, without any gold or dragon eggs."
SD: "Don't forget your fucked-up freak-steed."
Rehsen: "Actually, I have worries about having it in the stable at Zoltan's keep..."
Rehsen: "So. Anyway, we're looking for a big damn bird, with about a 20-meter wingspan. Shouldn't be that hard to spot - when the sun comes up. Right now, in the dark, it'll take magical locate."
Adventures from April Twenty-Sixth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Wolves, That Bounty Hunter, Frost Giants, Samurai
The morning after the dance with the ninjas, the reported flying steed is spotted circling in the distance. As chance would have it - in the general direction of the mountain pass.
After some more canter-speed travel, Hacker/Rehsen/SD come upon a partially-devastated trade caravan where all that was left of the animals pulling the wagons were bloody smears. The defenders call to the adventurers for help, desperate to escape the pack of giant wolves. As if on cue, a large pack arrive. Rehsen immediately establishes a rapport with the wolves, with the gigantic pack leader sniffing and licking the faces of Rehsen and Hacker. Much to the horror of the people hiding behind the encircled wagons - though not as horrible as Hacker and Rehsen deciding to help feed the pack with those same hapless strangers.
Soon they were up to the elevation of the snow line, and also to a line of sight between the peaks to see more clearly the circling large flying steed. Barely visible at the focus of the steed's circling was a moving dot, and it seemed to be chasing a frost giant. Rehsen summoned some prescience, and was able to divine that the dot was a "samurai" named Musashi. Which, while interesting, was insufficient reason to turn away from their mission: get to Zoltan's keep. So they kept going.
Keen awareness triggered a "bad feeling", and the group quickly veered behind cover. Peeking out, they were able to determined that there was some sort of sniper up amongst some high rocks overlooking the road. Rehsen was assassinated (briefly), but Hacker was able to sprint to closer cover, and then press a telekinetic attack. From there it was a simple matter of bounding up the rocks and living up to his name. Hacker hacked the large green ogre sniper, as well as his crossbow. There was some second-rate witty banter, then Hacker chopped off some of the ogre's important parts - including his head. It was the same bounty hunter that had given them trouble the last time they were in this region.
Then Hacker found himself a frost giant, and slaughtered it into stress-balm. And the Reaver Horse ate its way through the eye socket to devour its brains.
Within an hour after this slaying, another frost giant jogged onto the scene. This one was unlike the others Hacker had seen before; it was somewhat well-equipped. It did not seem particularly interested in lingering, and scarcely slowed its running. Shortly after that, the samurai (with the circling giant steed pointing out his location) ran by on the frost giant's trail. He seemed to not be at all associated with the ninjas, other than in culture.
Yet another frost giant showed up. This time it tried to flee, but it did not get away.
Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Fourth - Maybe We Should Force-Feed Some Hay To That Horse
SD: "Seriously, we're going to start to have some major negatives for sneaking and hiding with the odours discharging from that freak-steed's messed up diet."
I think when I get my next occupation, it will be something simple: 4 Will Power, 2 Hand-to-Hand, and 2D Stamina.
Oh, and once Rehsen is done meditating, I humbly request an magical artifact that will bump up my strength to 7. I ask this humbly while giggling maniacally under my breath with a crazed look in my eye.
Ah, so, killhopper. But first you must defeat a worthy opponent.
Rehsen looks askance at you, like you just asked for a set of breast implants. "It will take 2-9 hours to create such an item. What would you like enchanted?" And how much damage is that going to pile on? Another 4 by my calculation.
SD: "So, we're going to pause in our headlong charge for most of a day so that we can make the big guy a tiny bit bigger?"
Rehsen: "Uh, no - I can probably meditate while riding. This steed is pretty good at keeping me in the saddle - almost like it was trained for the purpose."
SD: "Now you're slighting the memory of your dearly beloved Wolfie?"
Rehsen: "Well, mostly I meant to snark at the things things I rode before Wolfie - like the batch of cheap steeds Hacker and Weezer got back in Guaralid. And Hacker, for that matter."
Rehsen: "It's the fortress where we're going - where Zoltan is."
SD: "Gotcha. Is it nice there?"
Rehsen: "Well, i seem to recall it had some nice views..."
SD: "Ugh. When the nicest thing people can say about a place is how pretty things look far away, it doesn't bode well for the more immediate aspects."
Rehsen: "No, I was talking about all the hunky soldiers. Rawr."
SD makes an unhappy face, and swallows any snarky comments he might have.
Yup, another 4. With the extra 2 hand to hand at 8th stage, I'll be able to do 2 points of intermediate scale damage with my bare hands. Mhwaa ha ha.
"I kind of think in some weird way the soul of wolfie has gone into the horse. Anyway, no need to stop for this, just wanted to put it out there that it would be ubercool."
Terrifying, really, considering that it could be inflicted thrice.
Speaking of wolves, a mostly-grey dire wolf discreetly appears out of the tree line. It raises a ghostly, echoing howl, and disappears again. But it reappears after a couple hours further down the mountain road, and again quickly departs after giving a brief howl.
Adventures from May Third, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Highlander
The universe deemed it necessary to establish the alignment of the characters unambiguously.
- Hacker : lawful evil
- Rehsen : lawful neutral
- SD : lawful neutral
- Reaver Horse : chaotic evil
After that, they wasted little time riding past several nobodies without pause as they raced along the trail. This got them up above the tree line, and into the deeper permanent snows. Camping at night in a high pass, from a great distance they watched the giant flying steed get engulfed in flame, brought down, and eaten.
Later that night, a giant 100-meter long serpent slithered up through the snow and started eating them. Well, ok - it only actually ate two of the horses, and it only ate them accidentally because in the dark it was relying on its heat sense. It got some good bites in on Hacker and Rehsen (its fangs even splintering her dragon scale shield), before Hacker managed to thwack it to death with Vorpilator. It was extremely difficult to kill, but Hacker was irritated to feel like the monster was insufficiently skilled to let him earn any skill himself. The Reaver Horse contentedly munched on the snake's brains.
The same night, during Rehsen's watch, she repeatedly had extremely bad feelings. But every time she woke the others, the bad feelings went away. Distrusting the universe, they stayed up the remaining hours until the dawn, wary. Lo and behold, with the morning light they managed to spot a tiny dragon shape circling high above. And, with the same fortunate locate roll, Hacker noticed that he was heavily marked magically.
Down to just one steed (and the Reaver Horse burdened with treasure and supplies), the SD and Rehsen both rode on one while Hacker ran along on foot. Descending the high-altitude slopes, they crossed the path of a fearsome chaotic good barbarian - Hacker's natural enemy. The barbarian tossed aside the barrel of wine he was carrying, and drew his enormous sword. The two seasoned hand-to-hand combatants clashed, with the barbarian pitting his superior specific bonuses against Hackers greater damage and multiple attacks. And when Hacker sunk Vorpilator fatally into the barbarian's heart, he felt the electric surge of the earning of a point of skill - to finally become eighth stage.
Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Fifth - Being Stalked By A Dragon Is Probably Bad
SD: "Being stalked by a dragon is probably bad." But, really, you get the feeling he feels worse about the fact that he's only one skill away from becoming seasoned.
Almost forgot: there's also the matter of the barbarian's main magical item - an Amulet of Movement. Rehsen is able to divine that it doubles movement, and weighs in at a hefty 5-willpower detriment. It didn't figure much into the details of combat because you didn't try to run away, and the barbarian was incapable of conceptualizing retreat.
Adventures from May Tenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - A Roast Of Dragons
The dragon stalking the group from a great height, was gradually joined by a few more dragons.
And, in addition to the obvious concern generated from the flying intermediate-scale monsters, Hacker also felt like they were being followed. Eventually, he was able to discern the pacing presence of a bearded fellow seemingly equipped only with a white cloak. A stilted conversation with telepathy revealed that the crazy person considered themselves to be "The Lord Of The Mountain"... on top of an aura of creepiness that was really quite impressive. He also claimed that the Frost Giants now avoided him, and that his close rapport with the giant wolves allowed him to warn them away from the area (presumably because of the imminent dragon attack). Whatever, they group kept forging on as quickly as possible.
More dragons arrived.
A large group of heavily equipped Zingarian knights rode up to the group, and asked for them by name (except SD, obviously, who is a filthy Aquilonian). They introduced themselves as an escort sent by Zoltan. The knights heeled around and began cantering back towards Guaralid with the adventurers.
Even more dragons came.
Hacker hit on the idea of making a stand against the existing pack of horrifying monsters, before more of them arrive. So he started taunting them telepathically. It quickly revealed that most of the dragons were kind of... well, stupid. But also lead by a wily blue dragon that was unlikely to be goaded.
Yet more dragons came.
The terrain had changed from the lofty snowscape to the rugged mountains on the outskirts of Guaralid, then the dragons attacked.
The first strike was by Rehsen, killing one dragon immediately at extreme long range (~300 meters). Then the dragons rained fire down on Hacker and Rehsen, and circled 100 meters overhead - out of range of telekinesis and ballistic weaponry. For a while, Rehsen was the group's only weapon, and she was only able to attack every other turn and then jump onto Hacker to take over defense. But then, by luck, she managed to wing the nefarious blue dragon, forcing it to ground. Whereupon the rest of the forces, Hacker and a score of heavily armoured knights set upon it. This worried it sufficiently to call for backup, bringing three of the other intermediate scale monsters into close range. Magical explosive arrows and flashing swords worked against blasts of magical flame and gigantic snapping jaws, and the ground shook with the horror of it. Then Rehsen managed to blow the blue dragon's head off.
This affected the morale of some of the other dragons who, now leaderless, retreated. This left only five dragons to continue the struggle: three moderately-skilled browns, plus one raging red, and one terrible violet dragon.
The battle to be concluded next week.
Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Sixth - Mid-Roast
Rehsen's eyes are wide, but her pupils are pinpricks, and she's shaking. It's hard to tell whether she's earning more skill or stress points. "OK, do we have a strategy?"
"Strategy: Don't die. I think we should focus on that violet one. And really, we've defeated half their numbers already. You're kicking ass."
Rehsen: "Don't die - check. Focus on the violet one - check."
SD: "Somebody should tell those knights how they can be most useful."
Rehsen: "I personally think they would be most useful by attracting as much of the dragons' attention as possible."
SD: "What do you feel about pointing out to some of the dragons that there's a derange horse eating the heart out of their first fallen comrade?"
Adventures from May Seventeenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - BITE BITE BITE HACK HACK HACK
On the intermediate-scale scaly horror side, there was the violent Violet dragon, the raging Red dragon, and three Brown dragons. On the monkey-shaped food side, there was Hacker, Rehsen, and 15 remaining seasoned knights. SD had withdrawn with the eggs, the knights steeds had retreated as their terror insisted, and the Reaver Steed munched grass unperturbed.
Really rather a lot of fighting happened - it took the whole 2.5 hour gaming session to finish just that one battle. The mountainside was scarred from the battle, mostly from Rehsen missing, but also with a lot of dragon-sourced scorching and trampling.
At the end of it, Rehsen rode Hacker - both alive only due to copious and continuous volumes of healing potion - facing off against the Violet dragon. A couple turns before the end, it seemed that the Dragons had the final advantage, but then things shifted slightly but decisively in the Food's favour. The Violet dragon recognized it, and negotiated a truce. Conditions included oaths of mutual non-harm, a ride to any location, and mutual magical marking. (A process that reveal's the Violet dragon's name to be Brontë.) 8 knights of Guaralid also survived, all with really impressive scars.
It was also discovered that the Brown dragon that had supposedly been sent to act as a sniper and then fled had actually suffered a lethal neck-bone adjustment from The Lord of the Mountain. Who waved in a neighborly manner.
Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Seventh - Guaralid
Nothing impedes the group's progress after the steeds are gathered up, and you ride into the high-walled keep.
Telepathically to Rehsen: "So, I wonder how powerful Zoltan is going to be once he bonds with that dragon egg..."
We head into the keep. I assume there's an eager strategic spellcaster waiting to meet us?
Rehsen: "Based on that floating trick last time, it's hard to imagine he isn't already pushing up against a willpower limitation. But, yeah, the potential bumpage is... scary?"
SD: "Wait, we're scared of this guy?"
Rehsen: "He does have a tendency to zap people just for the fun of it."
SD: "Greaaaaat." It's at this juncture that you notice the smooth sheen of SD's newly-minted seasoned-ness. Since he was going up in scout, hiding from dragons counted as the last required point of skill.
There is warm reception waiting, but it's being orchestrated by the facility's majordomo: Franz. Squires and serving wenches offer to carry your things and to bring you things, as well as presenting you with bread and ale. The knights dump their sweaty battered armour on their squires, and guzzle flagons of ale eagerly - their relief palpable, and their need to toast fallen comrades burgeoning.
Franz: "Sir Hacker, Lady Rehsen, I apologize that the Lords of the Keep are unable to welcome you personally. Both Prince Nicola and Master Zoltan are briefly away on military business, and will not be back for a few days. However, allow me to introduce Princess Livia."
Livia: "Thank you Franz. Hello, both of you. I understand your journey was incredibly difficult. Is there anything we can provide? Once you are rested, we shall need to discuss... terms."
"Thank-you m'lady. We do require secure stables for our two horses, and well, one of them requires seperation from, well, anybody you don't want him to eat. After that, probably discussing our situation sooner rather than later would be in everyone's best interest."
I nudge the mark Zoltan left on me, and prepare to wince.
To Rehsen (telepathically): "Does it seem odd that Zoltan wouldn't be here? He seemed somewhat eager when we told him about the eggs."
Zoltan: "Greetings, dragonsbane. I am pleased that you made it Guaralid with the eggs intact. I've arranged for both myself and Prince Nicola to be away from the keep for your arrival, for pragmatic reasons. There's a convenient need for recruiting earnest young fools to replace the knights you allowed to become crispy. Livia is to be your main point of contact for these negotiations, and is fully cognizant of all the relevant details. Also, that surly majordomo Franz adores her, so things will simply go more smoothly if she's running it. Please don't kill anybody at Guaralid, it will require... consequences."
Livia nods, clearly listening to somebody not in the room. Then telepathically to both Hacker and Rehsen: "A suitable room is behind you to your left, and up the stairs. There should be nobody but the three of us, all right?"
Rehsen, just to you: "Oddness confirmed."
To Rehsen: "Well, just talked with Zoltan and he gave the ok to deal with Livia."
To SD: "Can you keep an eye on the horses and gold?"
I nod to Livia and start towards the room behind me...
SD: "Horses, gold: check. Eggs?"
Rehsen: "Maybe you should hang onto those, too - for the time being. Let's keep in constant contact, so that Hacker and I can start laying waste if anyone bothers you."
Rehsen follows your lead up the stairs. They're narrow and spiralling with a central abyss, making them pretty defensible (unless you're left-handed). The room at the top has an impressive door made of sturdy wood and heavily reinforced with bands of iron, yet it swings open easily. This is clearly a tower since there are windows with views in all directions, with particularly good lines of sight on the main courtyard, the barracks, and the main gates. The decoration is minimal; just bare stonework, a heavy table, and a mismatched array of sturdy chairs.
Livia is the last one in the room, and bolts the door from the inside. There is also a heavier barricate beam that can be lowered into place, but it has a couple cobwebs indicating how rarely it gets used. She picks an arbitrary chair, and plops down.
"Technically, I'm a princess. But funtionally, I'm more Zoltan's apprentice. The reason why Zoltan is away is so that I can bond with the dragon's egg, and so that his presence does not lure the little beast to him instead. Also, it was easier to get my husband away from the keep in person - the Prince is Lawful Good, and would have problems with Hacker. And vice-versa, I suspect."
"So, what do you two need?"
"We need a secure place for Rehsen to raise her dragon. That and a home base for me to come back to when I need to lay low. Guaralid seems ideal, even if the prince may have trouble with my alignment. I'll resist being extra evil while I'm here. :)"
To Rehsen: "Oddness makes sense now. Anything to add?"
Livia gives Rehsen an appreciative look up and down, but then frowns at you. "She'll have no problem fitting in here, assuming she doesn't blow any holes through the main walls of the keep. Having you use this as a home base is a bit trickier, because Prince Nicola will see your alignment plainly and he will not be able to tolerate your semi-regular presence. And I have specifically agreed to never give out information about the secret access points to the keep to anything evil." She nods towards Rehsen. "Or allow it to be given out by known association."
"That being said, we can probably hold that pile of gold for you. We're in good standing with - and telepathic contact with - banking guilds in many major cities. So you could draw wealth locally as required, freeing you up to do various evil deeds aside from just guarding your hoard from every pack of starving nobodies. The only price would be to agree to help guard the occasional gold delivery when we balance accounts."
Rehsen, privately: "How do you feel about just camping nearby? I could ride out with supplies whenever you visit." Her desire to make this work is evident.
Rehsen: "Heck, there are probably villages nearby that wouldn't mind my existance. I have a feeling I'll be out and about a lot anyway. I think I like the travelling lifestyle."
Livia: "Banking the gold would be quite helpful. A home base for me was really just a perk, but having one for Rehsen and her dragon is much more important."
Livia: "So... that's it? You're just going to hand over a dragon egg to let me bond with it? Wow. Your 'evil' doesn't extend along the avarice axis very far, does it."
Rehsen: "He makes up for it in other evil ways. Trust me: you don't want to piss him off."
Livia: "His reputation in that respect - well, let's just say that it preceeds him. And there's a half-platoon of our best knights that are currently busy assuring all their drinking buddies to never raise a sword against either of you - both due to respect and plain old fear."
That earns a wry smile from Rehsen. "OK, so, where are we going to hatch our dragon eggs?"
Livia points out one of the windows to another, squat tower. "It's sort of a large-flying-creature landing and stable. Zoltan has some weird acquaintances."
I shrug: "Meh. It's not like we need gold. And besides, we wouldn't have known the eggs were valuable if it were not for Zoltan. We owe you. Let's get our gold into your bank, plus I want to get a few flasks of healing potion. If I'm going to head off without Rehsen, I'll need to be well stocked."
To Rehsen: "I thought occurred to me as we were coming down the mountain... there's some guys I need to gouge the eyes out of. Once you're settled, I could use some prescience and/or locating."
To SD: "Looks like Rehsen is staying and I'm going to be heading off. Do you want to come with? I'll probably be continuing my various quests for revenge."
SD: "I'll be going with you, boss. I've spent too much time being an idle guard in a walled city in this life already."
Rehsen: "Right. Those guys. They definitely need their eyes gouged out. I've already promised an eldritch +2 locate/hide talisman to SD, but I can also crank up some prescience to detect those fucktards."
Livia: "Excellent. We should be able to supply as much healing potion as you might need. If anything else mundane you might need, please don't hesitate to ask - we have two days before Zoltan and the Prince are due to return." Livia and Rehsen exchange 0-point marks.
Counting required sleep, that makes for 32 hours of meditation for Rehsen. Let's simplify that to being 3 points per hour, so 96 points of magic you can accrue, in a maximum of 14-point chunks. (Minus the 8 points for SD's stealth talisman.)
To Livia: "I think the only equipment I need is a new shield. My last one got eaten by a dragon."
Ok, wishlist time. Hacker would like six new magical rings: Read Emotion, Alter Emotion, Read Thought, Alter Thought, Mark, Telekinesis. That adds up to 33 points of magical usage. I don't know if he'll ever use some of them, but without Rehsen around, I think he's erring on the side of 'be prepared'. After that, let's get a 'real nugget' as to where I can find the eye gouging dudes (or locate if that's more effective)."
For the rest of the time at Guaralid I eat good food, get drunk at a tavern, and sleep in a comfy bed.
Livia: "It just so happens that we have a team of knights and hunters out retrieving an unusually large stock of dragon scales, skulls, fangs, and talons. Rumoured to include a couple seasoned dragons. We'll do our best to fashion you a worthy replacement shield."
Rehsen: "Do you want the telekinesis to be 200N?" Vorpilator is about 2kg, so assuming that vigorous use is about 10 G's, that means it can be wielded with 196N. Not that God thinks about that sort of thing a lot. "And do you want those abilities grouped at all?"
Real Nugget = "They frequent the Assassin's Guild in Kordava, in The Pit."
Food, drink, and a wide variety of beds are readily offered.
"Mmmmm... flying sword. Yes please on the 200N."
SD: "Are we taking that Freak Steed with us?"
Adventures from May Twenty-Fourth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - A Relaxing Stroll In The Mountains
After gearing up and setting the Reaver Horse free, Hacker and SD set out up the road into the mountains to hunt for some stress reduction - which is hidden inside of the vital bits of frost giants.
As they headed up the trail, and left the inhabited steppes, they came across a battle already in progress. The roiling fight seemed somewhat beneath Hacker, so he and SD strolled through unimpressed. This caused one aggressive individual to take a sword-stroke at Hacker - nicking him. Hacker responded by beheading him - barehanded, and in one turn. The battle parted before them, and they were left alone, other than to be asked who they were.
At last, they came across some giant footprints in the snow. They followed them, and did Really Mean Things to the frost giant they found. 1 stress point was discarded.
Next on the road they came across some geographically-inappropriate camels, ridden by travellers from Koth. The Wizard Sultan of Spork had an unfortunate difference of manners with Hacker, and set his pair of deadly scimitar-wielding to wrangle with the bounding cuisinart. They were impressive and wounded Hacker greviously... in the two turns they lived before he chopped them into quivering, bloody sushi. To bargain for his life, the Sultan of Spork gave Hacker a "boon" (a magically-enforced promise to accomplish any one deed). Hacker also demanded that the harem be set free. Which, in turn, could have been a combination of Hacker's dislike for slavery, and also an intensely cruel joke on a group of young women who have no means of independent survival.
Another frost giant crossed paths with them, and this one seemed to have been looking for them. It kept its distance (as best it could), and hurled gigantic boulders to try to crush Hacker. Hacker tried for a while to keep up with its giant strides, and applied some telling blows, but eventually grew weary of it. He brushed off a magical mark the giant had clumsily applied, and slipped away.
Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Eighth - SD Waxes Philosophical
SD: "I'm getting hungry. Let's kill something and eat it."
Hmmmm... are frost giants edible?
Bah, let's hunt wabbits.
Be vewy, vewy qwiet.
You re-confirm that Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail are all delicious.
SD burps and picks his teeth with his dagger. "So. More giant hunting? And then we head to Kordava?"
"Yeah, more giants."
SD: "You've got that whole kill-everything-face-on thing working for you. I was thinking about trying some sneak attacks, and maybe going for a sly mortal wound. The problem being that I'd need to have cover nearby, and the damn things use cover as projectiles."
"NOT that I have any overwhelming need to prove myself by taking on a frost giant myself, mind you. Just can't help but consider the problem, strategically-speaking. I mean, it's possible that one of the stupid brutes could get double-sixes and land a vital hit that decapitates you. At which point, I'll probably run and hide - I admit. Nevertheless, a slightly-sub-decapitating hit might necessitate me trying to intervene against the towering motherfucker.
Adventures from May Thirty-First, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Don't Run! Don't Run!
The first encounter of the hunt was ironically a nice bearded fellow who should have been mincemeat, but since he was canny enough to engage the "lawful" instead of the "evil" he managed to scamper past un-hacked.
Then some giant footprints were found leading away from some lethally-nibbled-on travellers, which Hacker then followed. It tried to run away after it was telepathically warned by the giant witch, but after it was in line of sight it fell victim to Hacker's superior willpower and "alter thought" ring. The boulder-hurling giant showed up to try to smash Hacker - and got one good throw in - but his willpower was also insufficient to face Hacker. As he fled with giant speed, Hacker used his "alter emotion" ring to put the fear of Hackination in him.
A group of 7 professional Aquilonian combatants were insufficiently cognizant of the disparity between their skills and Hacker's, and let their pride get the better of them. Hacker and SD taunted them into attacking, and to make things interesting they decided that Hacker wouldn't even attack back until either he or SD had suffered a hit. It took a few turns, so then Hacker punched a hole through their leader's head. As he proceeded to pummel them all to death, SD gathered up the eyeballs of the hole-punched leader, mounted them on his fingers, and waggled them through the leader's head hole. He then proceeded to mimic the dead leader's voice (poorly) while pantomiming eyeball-oriented expressions. "Avenge meeee!" When there were but a few left, they tried to run - so Hacker drew Vorpilator and smote them mightily (unto their doom).
At last, a giant of a frost giant trundled into view eyeing the Aquilonians delicious horses. "Is yuh gunna eat all those?" It had apparently been sent by the giant witch, which he helpfully pointed in the direction of. The thought of retreat, or even simple defense, never entered the megagiant's tiny mind, and so was hacked to death by Hacker (as is his way). However, the laws of probability are cruel, and permitted the fearsome monster to land one solid 200-point punt on Hacker. It would have slain even the mighty Hackinator if he hadn't also been in possession of a 9-point-intermediate-scale shield, a healing ring, and titanic willpower. Even so, it was a close thing.
Thine Plot Infliction The Twenty-Ninth - Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch
Rehsen sends some panicky mental communications. "Shit! There's some sort of horde of super badasses hacking their way into the keep! Livia and I have been sent up into a tower with the eggs, and Zoltan is going with Nicola and his personal guard. They think the attackers might have been waiting for you to get far enough away to not be a factor...!"
A short time later: "Nicola and his personal guard have retreated! Powering up the ship scale zapper."
Then, almost immediately: "Whoa. Uh - danger averted. It seems that Nicola's retreat was tactical - to lure the attackers into the inner courtyard where Zoltan was waiting with a frickin' widestroke ship scale zapper. He totally went all Emperor Palpatine on them."
"Oh man... a decent fight and I missed it. We're slowly making our way back. Let me know if you need us to pick up the pace."
Rehsen: "The scariest of them managed to survive the eldritch blue lightning from Zoltan's fingertips, and fled. It might be interesting for you to hunt them down..."
"Hmmmm... could be fun. Tell me about the scariesness of this individual. Oh, and I'll need a new shield too. Could you ask Livia for me?"
Rehsen: "There were three that survived - a 6-7th stage shockstriker, a 7th-stage assassin/scout, and a 6th stage shockshooter/defender. They all took some intermediate-scale burns from the EBL, but they're all probably healed by now. They took off towards Argos, according to Livia's prescience." ... "Livia asked how big of a shield you're hoping to purchase. So I asked what the bounty on these guys was worth. I think we have an understanding."
SD: "It seems to me like we have four paths here.
- We keep hunting frost giants to reduce stress points.
- We look up that giant witch at the frost giant altar thingy that giant giant pointed at.
- We travel to Kordava to exact revenge from some old friends of yours.
- We hunt down those badasses that attempted to penetrate Guaralid.
Any of them are OK by me. Although I must admit that I'm most curious about Kordava - but it's fuckin' far."
"Ok, not too worried about more frost giants, though if we run into any on the way back I'm all for killin' them. I think we should hunt down those badasses first as they're likely the closest. We may be able to catch up with them before they get to far towards Argos. Assuming we don't die or anything, we head to Kordava after that."
Returning down the mountain is pretty uneventful if you don't follow any hastily-departing frost giant tracks. The giant witch is undoubtedly gleaning your approximate vector and telepathically nudging her clan out of your reach. You outpace everybody coming in from Aquilonia, everybody heading out of Zingaria passed through Guaralid and are suitably terrified of you, and people powerful enough to have flying steeds generally aren't stupid enough to randomly assault 8th-stage combatants.
Rehsen meets you at one of the villages outside of Guaralid and passes on your new 9-point dragon scale shield. She tells you about the small puddle of gold surrounded by oil burners they're using to incubate the eggs, which should be hatching soonish. She still hasn't managed to get a familiar she can send with you yet. Apparently it's trickier than she thought.
The road towads Argos that the raiders are thought to have fled down is southeastern, along the foothils of the mountains, and heavily forested. Pretty much directly away from Kordava.
We bid farewell to Rehsen and start riding southeast towards Argos, keeping an eye out for giant squirrels.
For the duration of your hunt, Rehsen fires up some permanent prescience and keeps you apprised of her stream of juicy morsels as they seem relevant. "Well, initial read is that they are fleeing along the road, so that shouldn't be too tricky yet."
SD: "I have a question."
Rehsen: "I sense that it doesn't involve your current mission."
SD: "You're kind of annoying when you're prescient."
Rehsen: "I knew you were feeling that way, but hoped you were mature enough to not whine about it."
SD: "Fair enough. Anyway: Why are we keeping an eye out for giant squirrels? And what the fuck is a giant squirrel anyway? Are we talking, like, the size of a dog? Any bigger and I'm doubting that they'd find enough nuts."
Rehsen: "Oh, I'm SO not explaining that one."
I break into song: "Some times you feel like a nut...."
"Actually, it's not that interesting. Got chased by a squirrel-god a while back. Eventually I found someone to wipe the mark it put on me and we lost him. Hey Rehsen, do you think our current targets for death (and dismemberment) know that we're chasing them?"
SD: "Squirrel-god? Jeez. If you didn't want to tell me, you could have just said so."
Rehsen: "Huh. Well, that was creepy. I'm pretty sure that assassin spook motherfucker sensed me sensing him, and I'm pure sure it was raw awareness, not magical. The shockstriker is probably the main combatant, and the shockshooter is probably just a distraction. But that assassin, while not having any way of facing you toe-to-toe, is probably terribly deadly. This idea is seeming less-good. We might want to re-try this when you've got somebody with massive locate or prescience able to be with you for this guy."
"Hmmmm... can't hack what I can't see. Damn sneaky bastards. Still, seems prudent to take them out before they can get another force together to attack Guaralid. Bloody hell though, what kind of awareness do you think is required for someone to detect when someone is using prescience on them? If I were them, I'd get super-scout-assassin to hide the whole crew in ambush, the assassin would take me down (briefly) and then the whole lot of them would dive in to finish us off. Can't think of a good way to counteract that."
Rehsen: "I think that an awareness of at least 15 is needed for sensing that sort of magic. He's mostly assassin, but has at least three stages of scout or defender - so mathematically his awareness could be 12 (assuming god lets an assassin/scout start off with base 1 awareness and it's 2 defender 1 scout) or 24 (maxed out with 1 defender 2 scout). So, probably 18-20. Throw in stealth bonuses (+8 to hide from 4 assassin, and 5-10 stealth from 1-2 scout), and you'd be facing a being that can probably successfully hide from you using no dice."
SD: "Yikes. I thought that my magically-enhanced 17 locate and 18 hide were badass..."
"Bah, that doesn't sound like a fun fight. What does your prescience say about why they attacked? Were they after the eggs?"
Rehsen: "Definitely the eggs. I think Zoltan used the prescience-drawing aura of the eggs to hide the true extent of his power. Because the attackers definitely seemed to have the rest of our defenses figured out, but when Zoltan unfurled the prescience-guided widestroke Eldritch Blue Lightning they were pretty surprised."
SD: "Do you think they'll be back?"
Rehsen: "There's too many variables for reality to be visible that far in the future. But I do think that they intend to come back. They've got less than a month to do it, though. By then Cleophus and Amperion will have hatched, and will be securely bonded to myself and Livia - reducing their market value considerably."
"Maybe we should try to find a super scout for hire... which may actually jive with something else I wanted to do. Hey Rehsen, I'm guessing I might have some half-brothers and half-sisters out there. Most of them were probably killed by the Set Priests, but some might have survived. Any if they survived, they might have done so by being really sneaky. Can you get a juicy morsal about any potential kin surivors of the purge?"
SD: <mental pout>
Rehsen: "If you have any surviving kin, they're all able to duck any detection of my juicy-morsel-class prescience."
SD: "I just noticed that all the squirrels here are weird. Firstly, they're all black, instead of properly grey. Or even red; I've seen red squirrels - they're kind of cute. The grey ones just look like fluffy-tailed tree-climbing rats. But these black ones... they're just creepy. Evil, even. The way they all just stare at us. Like we're pistachios. How big did you say they get?"
"Maybe the answer is getting SD skilled up to uber-scout status as fast as possible... In that case, maybe a trip to Kordava would be useful."
SD: "I do like the sound of that."
Rehsen: "Sure, it's safer. But Kordava is pretty far. By the time SD was conceivably scouty enough, these guys will easily have gotten to Argos and rustled up an new cohort of seasoned badasses."
SD: "Well, we do want His Hackerness to have some fun, don't we?"
Rehsen: "... I can't tell if that was ironic, or evil."
SD: "Even with your fancy-schmancy presience?"
Rehsen: "You know I can blast holes through mountains, right?"
SD: "Woo. Mountain envy."
Hacker finds himself wondering at what point these two found time to start dating.
Adventures from June Thirteenth, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Six Fools And A Titanic Land Eel
6 tax collectors.
Titanic amphibious electric eel.
Thine Plot Infliction The Thirtieth - Pausing At A Pub
You stroll forth from the fishy smell of the woods, enter Fork-In-The-River, and head straight for the nearest pub.
Adventures from June Twenty-Seventh, Two-Thousand and Twelve - Encounter Table Plot
SCENE: Late night at the sticky bat tavern in Fork-In-The-River. SD and Hacker sit at a table, with frightened bar patrons trying to edge further away without looking like total pussies or wetting themselves.
ENTER: shadowy little evil guy
SHADOWY LITTLE EVIL GUY: Walks over to SD and Hacker's table. "Hey Mister Terrifying Eighth Stage Badass, please kill a goodie-goodie demigod for me and bring me his heart."
Hacker: "OK. But first..." Slams a willpower-heavy mark onto SLEG.
SCENE: Predawn outside the simple schoolhouse/orphanage just south of FITR. SD and Hacker sneak toward the simple log structure, noting an eerie glow emanating from within. SD and Hacker sneak in to discover a bunch of sleeping proto-humans and a wiry person writing arcane symbols on the walls with glowing light flowing from his hands.
Hacker: Proceeds in, starts glowing.
Goodie Goodie Demigod: Turns, sees Hacker. "Ah. You must be EVIL. I suggest not doing anything evil inside here. Daylight will come soon, and I'll head out. We can Fight To The Death then, if you like."
Hacker: "Maybe. Are you really a demigod? Do you have any connection with the Priests of Set? What's your name?"
GGD: "Sort of - more like a hexagod. It's complicated. My connection with the PoS is purely digestive. My name is Bulbophyllum."
Hacker and SD leave. For now.
SCENE: Back at the sticky bat tavern. Still dark.
SD: "I should sneak in first, to practice being Scouty."
Hacker: "OK. But don't take all gaming session."
SD: Sneaks in, locates SLEG.
Hacker: Stomps into the bar. "Gimme your money."
SLEG: Hands over a change purse. "I'm not stupid enough to carry all my money to a meeting this dangerous."
Hacker: HACK HACK HACK
Hacker and SD leave.
SCENE: Back outside the schoolhouse. Dawn arrives. SD and Hacker are hidden outside.
GGD: Takes off all his clothes, wanders outside, turns into a 7-tonne monster squirrel.
SD: Owes Hacker an apology.
SCENE: On the road to Kordava, just before the ambush site.
ENTER: Hot little ambush bait girl, bursts onto the trail in front of Hacker - SD has hidden.
HLABG: "Help! Help! Bypass your frontal lobes by letting your optical lobe hog all your run time while it processes the rips in my very thin tunic, and follow me to the ambush!"
Hacker: "Heh heh heh heh. Ambush." Walks towards the ambush off the side of the road.
SD: Sneaks along parallel.
ENTER: Seasoned Ambush Leader, gesticulating wildly.
SAL: "Wait! Wait! Abort! Abort! They arrayed fools are oblivious to the fact that you can kill us all rather easily, and I don't want to die."
SD: Sneaks up on one of the arrayed fools, slices his wrist and pushes him out of his hiding spot high in a tree.
OorAF: "AAAIIIIIEEEE! -THUMP-"
Hacker: "Sorry. SD, stop killing them."
SD: "He's not dead yet."
Monty Python joke gets overplayed.
SCENE: Further down the road to Kordava.
ENTER: One galloping steed.
SD: Hides horse, hides self.
Galloping Steed: Gallops past, using all 4 dice for movement.
ENTER: Invisible Giant Ninja
IGN: SNEAK SNEAK SNEAK!
IGN: Eats "hidden" steed.
Hacker & SD: "WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT!?"
IGN: Draws giant sword. Chops down tree characters are hiding near in order to get better look.
Hacker: Marks the sword - the only thing he can see of the IGN.
SD: Curses god, and especially curses Random Encounter Tables that now include legendary beings.
IGN: "Chicken shits." Leaves.
SD: Hops on Hacker.
SCENE: The Grateful Monk pub in some petty lord's town surrounded by farms.
Hacker & SD: Eat, take naps. The place is rather hospitable, despite a disappointing lack of combatants to HACK.
SCENE: Even further down the really long road to Kordava.
ENTER: 6 punk kids.
Punk Kid #5: "Hey, you. Fuck you!"
Punk Kids: Giggle snicker.
Punk Kid #6: Whispers purposefully into PK#5's ear.
PK#5: "...I said... [idiotically transparent lies]"
Punk Kids: Giggle snicker.
Hacker: "I see." Throws a potentially-lethal punch.
PK#5: Trips backward, saving his life by accident.
Hacker: "Holy shucking fit. You ducked! I'm impressed. You may try to hit me now."
PK#5: "OK." Swings all-aggressive, gets a lucky nick.
Hacker: Displeased. Grabs PK#5's leg, and rips it off - taking the pelvis and his pancreas with it.
PK#5: Screams. Dies.
PK#6: "Wow, that was cool! Can I be just like you?"
Hacker: "No." Beats PK#6 to death.
Punk Kids: Flee. Much less giggling or snickering.
SCENE: A Fighting School by a Scenic Bridge along the annoying long Road to Kordava. A somber-looking master looks on as arrayed fighting students practice.
Hacker: "Let's fight!"
SLM: "Them's fightin' words!"
The two combatants square off sans magical items.
Hacker: SWISH SWISH SWISH
Hacker: SWISH SWISH SWISH
Hacker: SWISH SWISH HACK
Hacker: SWISH HACK HACK
Hacker: HACK SWISH HACK
SLM: Wobbles. "Tie?"
Hacker & SLM: HEAL HEAL HEAL... etcetera.
Hacker: "What's your name?"
Hacker and SD leave.
Thine Plot Infliction The Thirty-First - Mosey Mosey
SD: "You know, I think screenplay format is even more annoying than the usual infodump."
As you travel out of the fearsome highlands and its lush forests, and into the verdant farmlands of western Zingaria. With it, Hacker and SD find themselves amongst ever-increasing population density. Soon, it becomes nearly impossible to be unobserved without sneaking into a building and killing everyone inside. Hypothetically speaking.