Friday, January 30, 2015

City of Curses: The Wolf Quarter, In Depth

Aspect: The Forest Inside Crux
Connected To: Poorfellows (To the Northeast), Rose Quarter (to the Southeast), Old Crux (To the North), The Grand Bazaar (to the Southwest).
Most Significant Icon: The Archdruid
Well Known For? An Ursyklon Neighborhood
Notable Sites and Locales: Tengril Square, the Grove of Mage-Trees

I turn to the east as I walk out of the Prince's Gate.  I can smell the pine needles of the trees, and squirrels chattle at me.  The Forest inside Crux.  The Wolf Quarter.  The Ursyklon's ancient home looks more like a slice of wilderness left within the city proper.  Wolves prowl the streets, some capable of speaking- one even winks at me, his collar bearing the seal of the city.  A Wolf of the City Watch.

The Ursyklon's buildings are made from druidic magicks.  Massive trees are allowed to grow here.  Stone and wood are bent and coerced into buildings.  Every inch of the sky is covered in leaves, but for open spaces left for temples of the bizarre menhirs.  Animals of all kinds are to be found in the Wolf Quarter- some speak, others don't.  Not only do the Ursyklon live here, but also live their Feyborn creations, the results of generations of their own tampering.

The Wolf Quarter is old, but it is the third place in Crux the Ursyklon have lived.  They truly came from Gruudl, the site their ships landed near Crux nearly ten thousand years ago.  Often the Ursyklon have lived in a walled off part of the city, kept away from others for fear of their odd ways.  Some fear them.  Others warn that the Ursyklon have always been waiting, lurking for the right moment to strike back.

The Ursyklon first came to Crux to conquer it.  But they found the single wall- now the inner wall of Old Crux- and the waters around it a hard prey.  The Prince never knelt to the Ursyklon.  Instead, they landed their ships on a nearby hill, creating a place from which they would keep a siege against the Skullmount for almost a thousand years.  Called Gruudl, its ruins can still be found in the undercity below Crux.

Although this lasted for thousands of years, Gruudl wouldn't be a permanent home for the Ursyklon.  Infighting amongst the various clans would be their downfall.  By the time of the Tomasi Empire, they were evicted from the hill above Gruudl's old ruins.  The clans were forced into a wooded palisade in now what is the Rose Quarter.  A narrow ghetto, under the Tomasi Empire Ursyklon often were maltreated.

Their religious rites were surpressed.  Tomasi magi coined the term "halfling."  It became high fashion at one point to own feyborn animals- a few lords even ate feyborn animals, their abuse take as a grave sacrilige to the Ursyklon.  Ursyklon assassins, known as the Greenknives or Dafhrog, perhaps were the most targeted by the Tomasi Empire's rather verbose discrimination.  Any new tree found within Crux often triggered criminations and would lead to the hanging of a Ursyklon urzahad.

When Tomasi Empire fell, the Prince offered a section of Old Crux to the Ursyklon.  His other restitutions left the Ursyklon with some autonomy until the Othebean Crusade tried to take the city.  In the Wolf Quarter the Ursyklon began a new neighborhood, with all the Clans uniting after crafting the center of the Wolf Quarter, Tengril Square.  Tengril in Ursyklon means "Time" or "Future's Place."

Since then, the Ursyklon in the Wolf Quarter have acquired wealth and means from their central location in Crux.  The end of old feuds between clans also brought them stability.  But most importantly, one of the most Ursyklon positions in Necruxa and Ainesia settled in the City of Curses- The Archdruid.

The Archdruid was a figure who lived further lands outside of Crux.  In forests or in the Archdruid's own wilds, but instead the position moved to inside the city of Crux.  This development has perhaps been the most beneficial to the Ursyklon clans.  Gruudl became a sacred site, protected by the Archdruid and the Archdruid's protectors- the same Greenknives who centuries before had assassinated their people's enemies.

It also motivated those nomadic or lost Ursyklon to immigrant.  This perhaps has the most longterm potential for the Ursyklon.  A few among them dream of Tengrilism- the dream that one day their people might be able to found a new nation of their own.  This Tengrilism frightens some of other nations.  The fear of a new Ursyklon nation, rising and taking their land, strikes a cord with ancient paranoias about the smaller race.

The Clans
Here are more on a few of the potential Clans in the Wolf Quarter.  These Ursyklon Clans could be added to, modified, whathaveyou.  Of course, not all are listed here- just the ones that struck my fancy.

The Boar-Roars: Best known for their many Greenknives, this clan has been honored as the chosen protectors of the Archdruid.  But their conflicts with Tieflings from the Wish Quarter have now and again caused them trouble.  They've also long been allies of the Batscream Clan, and both clans are strong proponents of Tengrilism.
Aspect: The Archdruid's Knife

The Wolfsongs: The Wolfsongs are known for their wealth.  Their ties with the Spice Khan and vast family trade network make them one of the most upscale clans in the Wolf Quarter.  The Wolfsongs love the arts.  They always support them, but are eager purchasers of real estate as well- the Wolfsongs imagine a canal in Southern crux, something more reliable than the Sleeping Straits for trade.  Of course, such a Canal ideally would be built where the Wish Quarter now resides- it would have to be destroyed for such a dream to be made manifest.
Aspect: A Song of Coin

The Wiseowls: Descended from the clever and cunning Srady, the Wiseowls of Crux have always had a interest in studying and learning.  They ask questions, and as such, tend to have contacts other Ursyklon would snub.  Of course, Wiseowls also are known for having trouble.  Trouble, as in, thievery.  It would not be a lie to say that some of the most brilliant inventors and painters of the Wiseowl Clan also have been some of the most notorious thieves Crux has ever known.
Aspect: Cleverer Than You

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: The Medama

A look at another vampire clan in Crux, the Medama or Wind-Vampires.

Aspect(s): A Question in the Air?
Invoke: Whenever using magic that manipulates wind and air or anytime flying or standing in a windstorm.
Compel: When presented with any situation or subject that asks a question, or draws one's curiosity, the Medama is compelled to study and question it, even if it might harm them.

The Medama are the wind vampires: they ride high above the Tengu ghettoes, spires and mountaintops around Crux.  Curious first, the Medama are the vampires most often never seen in the blood quarter.

The first of the Medama is said to have been a member of the Esoterium Machina.  Lady Medama studied anatomy through vivisection.  When she began to vivisect living bodies, she grew addicted to the sound of vivisected lungs.  

Dark experiments with a vampire however, would taint Medama's soul.  The creature didn't die under her vivisected eye.  Instead in fascination Medama studied the undead mechanisms at work.  A daughter of the Tomasi empire, Medama soon commissioned a even more insidious experiment.  She strived to recreate the vampire curse, using vapors and storm magic to power her artifice.  She succeeded; but as many vampires before had found, Shraxes curse damned her.  

Unlike other vampires, Medama's affliction manifested itself through the air.  Already a Transmuter of some renown, her curse only made Medama more of a wind creature.  Where Inculti or Walridr have trouble crossing over moving water, Medama burned whenever her feet touched holy ground.  She fed on the air in the lungs of her victims, until bloody vapor streamed into her mouth.

Medama refused to see her affliction as a curse, instead conducting research on it.  Why did sunlight burn her flesh?  Could this "curse" be modified further?  What relationship did it have to other vampires?  Her questions only multiplied, and this part of her curse would pass to all others Medama added to her clan.

Medama Extras
Wind-Vampire: This stunt costs 2 Fate refresh, but grants the Medama the ability to cast major spells so long as they fall within the flavors of Storm, Wind and Questions.  In addition, the Medama gains access to the skill Medama, which they can use to in place of Sorcery to cast spells, for any form of flying, anatomical knowledge and in place of Athletics for dodging attacks so long as the Medama is flying.
Drawback: Wind-Vampires have short attention spans, making it harder for them to do careful work.  Medama take a -2 on using the Careful approach.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Session Report 6: Station Street 2

In which the Keepers continue their adventure in Poorfellows. Gav faces off against the Nightfish, Patrizo gangsters who just threw his character's best friend through a window. And of course, Gav recieves a prized relic from the Prince himself.

The Opener: Rill meets with the Ratkings [here's a bit of Fiction I gave for my players- a cutscene about stuff they consequently never actually found out about]
Professor Rill held up a hankerchief to help mask the smell. The sulfurous stench of Poorfellows only was magnified in its sewers. Part of him regretted using the dimension door spell to enter the sewers. Perhaps he should've made his graduate student come up to him rather than venture down himself.
"Too many questions." Rill reminded himself. "And alas, discovery requires experimentation. This experimentation requires secrecy."

"Master Rill?" A gravelly voice questioned, its tone desperate.

A half-rat, half-human head emerged from the dark sewer water before him. Once a young woman, her time exposed to one of the experiment's key processes had marked her permanently. A form of Lycanthropy; albeit a kind that cursed its victim with rat characteristics instead of lupine ones. Wererats. "Is that you?"

"You still haven't learned to control your form?" Rill sighed. "I supposed that's understandable. How goes generating the necessary population for stage two?"

"The experiment still goes slow." She explained, her tone apologetic. "But Master, soon Poorfellows will explode with our numbers."

"How so?"

"A war between the Patrizo and the other gangs... chaos, Master, we found the right kind of chaos. The chaos you asked us for." She crawled up onto the walkway next to his feet. His graduate student nodded in that old sign of singsong madness that occasionally afflicted his students. She wept tears, scared to look up at him.

As it was supposed to be. Rill thought.

"Chaos, Master." Agripa repeated.

"Ah. And this war will provide the right opportunities to expand the local wererat population?"

She nodded eagerly. "Yes! We will slide and worm our way among the wounded. The strongest of them will fall, Master. We will bandage their wounds with our cursed blood. As we speak, the Station Street gang is already starting the first blows with the Nightfish. Each gang will welcome our aid, each gang will fall to our plague."

"And the Keepers are part of that too." Rill mused to himself. "Good work, Agripa. You've gone a long way for this experiment, I'm so proud of you."

Agripa's eyes filled with tears. "Thank you, Master."

"You know how to reach me. Let me know when you are ready to begin stage two." Rill then stepped away, using dimension door spell once again. He enjoyed the escape to the streets of Poorfellows above. Even if the smell didn't change that much.

Scene Question: Do the Keepers agree to a duel with the Nightfish?
Gav faced off against Benvolio Patrizo.  As the fountain overflowed from Patrizo water magic, Gav let loose his own wind magicks, filling the air with a fierce gale.

After a tense conversation, the Keepers learn from Mercuritia Patrizo, the leader of the Nightfish, that the Patrizo have a missing member too: their sister, Julia.  Gav convinces them to depart.

Dafni- a member of Gav's gang and a Bloodrager too- refuses to let the Patrizo get away.  She pulled out a shotgun, carved with bloodrage runes.  The runes and her eyes started to glow with white electricity.  Charging through the door, knocking it over, Ash acted first.  Distracting Dafni, Ash got a Blow to the Head for her trouble.

Pyro, on the other hand, threw a quick tranq bomb, knocking her out with gas.  Dafni went down, as Pyro overcame her rage long enough for the tranquilizing gas to take her out of the conflict.  

With both Aldo and Dafni knocked out, Ishida followed the Patrizo back to their lair.  After a awhile, he learned that the Patrizo didn't know much more than the Keepers did: Mirrabella and their sister were missing, and were last seen together.  The other Keepers spent some time brainstorming a plan: talk to the Gnolls and find out what they know or Gav could talk to his father and others about what was happening.

Scene Question: Does Gav accept the relic the Prince gives him?
Gav and the rest go to investigate things, but first Gav goes to visit his father Santos.  His father lives in the Falcon building, on Station Street, not far from their location.  Once there, in addition to learning his father was asleep- a representative of the Prince has been waiting for Gav.  

Kenzie, a middle-aged bald ursyklon with a odd third eye tattoo on his forehead, wore fine clothes and a lapel with the seal of the city.  After introducing himself politely, Kenzie explained that he had been sent to give Gav something his mother had given the Prince to hold for him.  Until he was old enough to be responsible for it, the Prince made sure it was maintained until Gav could take it for his own.

Kenzie took them across the street to the Station House, a building Gav had never seen anyone ever use or live in.  With a flourish and a key, Kenzie opened the door.  Nonplussed, the Keepers followed, not understanding what Kenzie was explaining.  Inside they found the Station House to be a nice manor house- possibly with fifty or more rooms.  Certainly bigger on the inside than it had been on the street.

Then Kenzie showed them the kicker.  He took them to the Kitchen, where Ash identified the locale in the window.  It was Tengril Square, in the Wolf Quarter.  Which was impossible.  Kenzie then opened the Kitchen door- revealing that it indeed opened in the Wolf Quarter, while the Solar's door opened to Station Street in Poorfellows.  The Station House, Kenzie explains, is also known as the House of 13 Doors.  Each door connects to a different location in Crux.  

The Station House was created by Gav's mother.  Now the Prince was passing it onto Gav to keep and protect.  [I handed Gav's player a whole sheet about the Station House.  He blinked after reading it all.  He caught the dangers of the place quickly.]  Kenzie also helped to wrap up the situation.  He revealed that Mirrabella and Julia were upstairs, that he had let them into the Station House per the Prince's orders, seeing that Gav wouldn't mind doing so.  Also, Kenzie revealed that the two were married.

After a bit of RP between Gav and his gang mates, the Keepers started poking around the Station House.  Its utility quickly was apparent.  Soon they started to think about the sorts of things they could do throughout Crux, given such a easy, fast way to travel.  They just need to find out where the other nine doors they don't know about lead to. 

There was another scene question- but the players never got into a place where that question could even be asked. So it didn't get answer. Which is fine. Players can take shortcuts in my games, I love to adapt.

And that was where I ended it. I also asked my players about it. They enjoyed the twist about the missing character having secretly married a vampire and being able to avoid a fight if they chose. But they also felt like there wasn't enough danger for their characters.

It was a major milestone, however. I upped their power level. From now on I'm going to try and up some of the danger for them. Modify and adapt based on the feedback I received. Hence asking my players.

Overall, this campaign has been great. For my end of things it has been awesome. One goal was to playtest Crux as a setting. Having players ask questions or add details only makes me add more to the city of curses. Its been excellent so far.

In fact, one player asked a few questions on the nature of vampires. I feel obligated to write up more on vampires, to at least something to point to for information for that question.

It definitely adds to my drive to work on this.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

City of Curses: The Greenknives, or the Dafhrog (Fate Core)

The Dafhrog serve the Archdruid, and in that capacity, also work completely in secret.  Most
Ursyklon know of the Dafhrog and their origin.  Perhaps the most common image of the Dafhrog are the results of their work: people frozen and forever changed into trees.

Greenknives often never are charged with murder, sometimes openly striking a foe with a spell that traps another in bark and branch.  Modern Greenknives adapt pistols for the task, eschewing knives.

The Urzahad of the Ursyklon are best known amongst their people because of the traditional trial they perform all of those who worship Lupa the Wolf Mother.  The urzahadi is a rite in which all worshippers of Lupa are changed into a lupine form.  The Urzahad are not limited to being able to shift others into only wolves.  Different clans use different animals for their own rites, in addition to the Urzahadi.

The Urzahad that first learned he forced another to take the form of a tree or plant, however, that is a darker tale.  No Ursyklon clan honors trees or plants as their clan totem.  There is no rite to do so, because often the rite used is permanent, if used on one who doesn't know how to change back.

Fionn Dafhrog of Clan Boarroar lived in Gruudl when it used to stand outside of Crux.  The strongest of the Urzahad in the city, his marriage to the Skald Nijana of Clan Batscream was a auspicious day.  It was cut short when a raid of Fomor monsters, servants of the Aboleth, struck.  Led by one of the Arcanists of the University of Crux, the Fomor used teleportation magic to slay many during the marriage feast, including Nijana.

We do not know the name of the Arcanist, just that there is a grove that now stands in the Wolf Quarter known as the Mage-Trees.  Fionn struck each at night, creating a small glade of trees near Crux that hadn't been there before.  They say he eventually would mother-walk, becoming a woman and a mother to new branch of his clan dedicated to slaying enemies of the Ursyklon and living trees in their wake.  His secret name became the name of the new occupation, the Dafhrog or Greenknife.

The Greenknives Today
Dafhrog today train along with Urzahad, but almost all of those in Crux serve the Archdruid.  Another form of assassin to most, the ursyklon often claim that the Dafhrog never kill.  But the Dafhrog often have been at the root of atrocities directed back at the Ursyklon.

During an Othebean crusade, an entire village of Ursyklon were burned alive in response to a Dafhrog's assassination of a tiefling in Ithspan.  The Dafhrog learned some secrecy.  The Ursyklon protected them too- they despised being burned as witches and having to part ways with any part of their culture.

Today, the archdruid rarely allows the Dafhrog to publicly slay others.  More often they act as bodyguards for the Church of the Wolf Mother, or perform public executions by adding more trees to the groves of the Wolf Quarter.

Potential Aspects: Tree-Making Assassin; "You Will Stand Forever"
Stunts: Greenknife's Rite: You know the secrets of the Greenknife's rite- you must have some sort of permission (aspect or whatnot relating to the Dafhrog) to take this stunt.  You can spend 1 fate point when you take an opponent out, turning them into a tree.  This places a new aspect on them, replacing their racial aspect with "Well, Now I'm a Tree."  However, the opponent has a choice in the matter, they can choose to concede and die (becoming a tree permanently) or they can choose to take this as a new racial aspect.  If they take it as a new racial aspect, it can be reversed.  Although when or how, that remains open.
Note: Don't use this on player characters.  Its meant to be used against NPCs, not to kill off PCs.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: Calendars of Crux

I've never posted anything specific about the calendar in Crux yet.  My notes for my players has an exact framework, but even then... Calendars are a cultural maxim.  That is, they exist for specific cultures and tend to overlap in weird ways.  So, I guess these are the three major Calendars in play in Crux itself: the Ulstragorian, the Othebesian, and the Jade Imperial.

The Ulstragorian Calendar
The oldest known calendar system on Orphos, the Ulstragorian Calendar is a Ursyklon calendar.  It is
based on the Ursyklon's own native calendar when they first conquered Orphos.  Changed to suit their new world, the Ulstragorian still never was widely adopted by non-Ursyklon.  A lunisolar calendar, the Ulstragorian tracks the Moon as well as the Blacksun with its month structure.  Hence, every three years it adds a 13th leapmonth to the calendar.

Ulstragorian Months: Uz'Lupi, Vit'Lupi, Yar'Lupi, Mok'Lupi, Pak'Lupi, Alef'Lupi, Lupitok, Morrilupi, Caenalupi, Hakenlupi, Lupi-Tengri, Asenai
Leapmonth: Sekhalupis

The archdruid also names each year in the oldest of Ursyklon tongues.  Often they are named based on portents read from entrails and birdsong.  A year's name is a hard thing to translate to the trade languages like Tomish or Othish, but often Ursyklon will speak of a year's name like it were a third-person.  Hence, in Ursyklon languages there tends to be a pronoun for a year- a year's pronoun.

Ursyklons date their years starting with when they believe they first arrived on Orphos.  For them the current year is 10,021, or Tengri'Shalut-Tainen (very roughly, Year of the Wolf's Ghost).

The seven days of the Ulstragorian Calendar are (and the day in the Othebesian Calendar they correspond to): Och-Moki (Fireday), Och-Paku (Iceday), Och-Uz (Stormday), Och-Kai (Riverday), Och-Yoku (Dreamday), Och-Raeg (Twinday), and Och-Tengri (Strangeday).

Unlike the Othesbesian calendar, religious ceremonies of the Ursyklon aren't limited to a singular day.  Prominent holidays occur through the week, often with Och-Tengri timed to have the largest and grandest festival days.

The holiday festival known as the Festival of Howls occurs on the second Och-Tengri of the month of Asenai every year.  Because Asenai rotates seasonally, it often changes with each year.  Upon the full moon of Asenai the Festival begins its trek to old Ursyklon halls and citadels.

The Othebesian
Originating in Othebea, the Othebesian Calendar originates with Queen Jackara the Great, about seven centuries ago.  One of her greater reforms was the to completely overhaul and correct the Othebean calendar.  Her major changes (formalizing the months of Stormwatch, Witchsong and Ghostwalk, correcting for distortion and reforming discontinuities among different church records) were adopted and never needed to be replaced.

The Othebesian Calendar's beginning year is the year Othebes, Herald of the Twins, is said to have entered a slumber after guiding Othebea into its divine monarchy.  The exactness of when this happened during Othebes' time on Orphos is murky.  Precise divination of the period in question has never warranted the results to confirm an answer one way or another.

The current year in the Othebesian Calendar is 1783 AO (After Othebes).  Times prior to it are known as BH, or Before Herald.

There are twelve months in the Othebesian Calendar: Nightrose, Snowrose, Newblood, Stormwatch, Witchsong, Newrose, Firerose, Goldrose, Lastharvest, Ghostwalk, Feastwatch, Shadowrose.

Its seven Days of the Week (In Tomish) are: Twinday, Strangeday, Fireday, Iceday, Stormday, Riverday, Dreamday.

In the Othebesian Calendar, Twinday is the same day as services for the Church of the Twins.

Jade Imperial
The calendar of the Tengu are lunar, but the Tengu do not recognize the same kind of month as other calendars do.  Each season corresponds to one of the four Kaze, or divine winds.  A kaze's season lasts three moons, from full moon to full moon.

Each year also is recognized and dated according the age of the living Jade Emperor of Lhen.  Even though the same Tengu soul (or so it is believed) has always been the Jade Emperor lifetime after lifetime, there are still defined Eras.  Because each Era has its own dating system, there is no clear point where the calendar began.  This also makes finding corresponding dates in other calendar systems hard.

Jade Imperial Seasons: Maya, Fujin, Paja, Raijin.

Tengu also have a name for each day of the season- one for each of the ninety days in a season.  Tengu in Crux and Necruxa have largely adopted the concept of a week, but have no agreed names for them, often using the elements for names.

Tengu Days Are (and the days they correspond to in the Othebesian Calendar): Nichi (Twinday), Getsu (Strangeday), Ka (Fireday), Su (Iceday), Moku (Stormday), Kinu (Riverday), Dozu (Dreamday).

For the Tengu, each day is holy to each of the Kaze.  Each hour is dedicated to specific Kaze.  During a season, Tengu priests celebrate the god of that Season.  Their temples and even their homes carry the colors of that god.

True to the Tengu, they are apt to mix their own calendar with other systems.  This is on purpose with the Tengu Ninja of Crux: the better to confuse and confound outsiders.

The current year in Jade Imperial is the 270th Year of Emperor Ulan the Night-Tooth.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

City of Curses: Icons: The Prince

The Prince of Crux
Possible Aspects: In The Prince's Name; The Prince's Law; Mine Is a Higher Authority; Ancient Immortal Or Ancient Lie?
Quote: "The Prince himself has a interest in this matter."

The Prince controls the oldest criminal empire in the world, older than the university on the Skullmount or even the Ursyklon ruins of Gruudl.  This organization controls the city government of Crux and has maintained that control despite the many who've tried to conquer it.

Common Knowledge 
Specific details about the Prince remain murky.  Believed by many to be the same immortal being, who has ruled his criminal empire for countless lifetimes.

There is a story often told about the Prince and the goddess Shraxes.  They say he and her were lovers, and that she granted him Crux as his wish.  He betrayed her, caging Shraxes rather than let the Demon Princess take Crux away from his control.

Some claim she cursed him, turning him into the first vampire.  Others say he is a ghost, or perhaps something inhuman- an aboleth or Lich or something else.  And there are a few who disbelieve all the stories: to them, the Prince is a figurehead and lie used by the corrupt government of the City of Curses.

Everyone knows all the city's civic institutions are on the Prince's take.  Outside forces have never been able to break his hold on Crux.  More puzzling is the strict code his own people uphold, working from established organizations like the City Watch or the Ghost Walkers.

The Prince hires all sorts, and always does so through proxies.  But his proxy always are certain to explain who they represent.  The Prince is always busy, always having something afoot.

Adventurers are the bread and butter of what the Prince does.  With his intricate complicated plans, often there are layers of people who are hired by the Prince- even if they never realize it.  Further, most criminal enterprise in Old Crux and Northern Crux are solely conducted by his people.  All that revenue is used by the Prince for his endeavors.

Always the Prince strives to keep the status quo.  Anything more than that remains unknown.

The Prince has long maintained a strong relationship with the Blood Barons as well as all the other oldest families to be found in Crux.  This mutual pact was forged centuries ago when the Prince first opened the city up to many of them.  The vampires remember this kindness, despite their infighting and occasional attempts to strip the Prince of his titles.  Old Tomasi families always receive respect from the Prince, often treating them as though they were favored subjects.

Others the Prince often is on good terms with is The Voice and the Tinkerer.  Both have found support from the Prince at unlikely times, especially when other forces aren't as forthright.  In particular, the Prince's choice to protect all citizens of Crux regardless of their sorcerous ability.

The Prince has more enemies than Allies, which is fitting for such a mysterious figure.  The Archwitch and the Church of Shraxes has long acted against the Prince and his own for millennia, often with groups like the Demon's Orphans claiming the City of Curses is theirs by right.

The Chancellor and the University have long come to conflict with the Prince.  Many projects of the university and the Esoterium Machina have been halted or ruined by the actions of the Prince.  It is never any surprise that the Chancellor has often sided against the Prince when outside forces have tried to remove him from power.

The last rival of the Prince that bears mention (there are more for certain), is the Publisher.  The scathing stories stirred up by the Publisher have only one goal: to bring the Revolution to Crux and remove one of the oldest royal figures in the Maru Sea.  The scariest part is what the Publisher is willing to do to accomplish this.  Anything, or as many fear, anyone, is a price the Publisher is willing to pay.

Our oldest records of the Prince are vague.  The identity of such a figure existed in the region even prior to the Ursyklon's conquest.  The Ursyklon notably never truly conquered Crux itself, instead founding a second city to the south called Gruudl, where Palace Hill now stands.

Throughout the myriad wars and crises of Crux, the Prince has appeared and reappeared.  The archmage  Ith supposedly came to Crux to ask the Prince for his leave before facing the Aether-Blooded of Rruk.  Other famous arcanists and magi also came to Crux to ask the Prince for his approval often before doing anything in the city.  The Empress of the Tomasi Empire even reportedly knelt in the Prince's Square, when the Prince offered it as a price for Crux becoming that Empire's new capital.

The Poorfellows Legion was given the island of Poorfellows by the Prince, even allowing them to build the fortress there.  Othebea's crusade to conquer Crux famously failed thirteen times.  One tale claims that a Archbishop of the Twins spoke with the Prince, and only after apologizing did he let them into the city.  That story has little veracity, though.

Notable, though, is that the Prince held no opinion about the Revolution Wars when Ith tried to win its independence.  He didn't help, nor did he hinder, revolutionary efforts in Crux.  Even when Ith had won its independence, the Prince's stance didn't change that much.  Efforts by the Ith senate to try and control or alter Crux's government have failed.  The Prince always re-emerges on top.

These days he enforces his own laws, often with criminals and corrupt city officials enacting them in his name.  The affluent and monstrous of Crux often enjoy abusing the unsorcerous, but the Prince always finds ways to remind them whose city this is.  Even though Ith may above of the unsorcerous being eaten or treated as cattle, the Prince will always have his say.

A Different Gang War: When the Metropolitan Police and the City Watch come to blows, Old Crux becomes a war zone to a different kind of gang war.  The characters find themselves in the center of this debacle, tasked by the Prince himself to stop it.  Can the characters uncover the source of the conflict?  Can they talk the Commissioner or the Prince into backing down?

Monstrous Neighborhood: Some parts of Crux lack any one who can protect the weaker citizens from the depredations of the monstrous.  The characters are hired by the Prince to root out one of these monsters- only to find it slain, and its blood trail leading into a den of even more wicked evil.  Can the characters discover what slew the monster or is something worse out on the prowl?

The Package: A young woman, desperate for some help for her journalistic endeavours, convinces the characters to help her by carrying some cameras into a sealed off part of Old Crux.  But things go sideways as camera equipment explodes and the woman who hired them instead frames them as terrorists working for the Prince.  Can the characters clean their names or will the Prince himself take offence at what has happened?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

City of Curses: Not A Gib! 1

Here is part one of a new short story set in Crux, about a Feyborn Albino Ferret by the name of Kaze Skysword.  Capable of speaking and taking on a class, Kaze is a Ranger with a talent for acquiring arcane relics of bygone eras.  Can he sell off his latest goods, or will old enemies get their chance to one up the ferret ranger?


"I'm not a bloody gib!"  I screamed as I tightened my grip on the shopkeep's throat.  "Do I look like my balls were cut off you hairy piece of drek?"

Ok, I didn't grab his entire throat.  My "grip" was more of my entire body squeezing hard on his windpipe.  To be fair, this liar of a human was trying to cheat me out.  He also was several times larger than me.  So going for the throat was the most fair approach.

What?  Violence works, ok.  Goes double when you're the ferret and the other guy is some half-ape thing.  Mind if I continue?


"Still ain't paying that much for a- gk!"  He nearly knocked the relic I'd brought to sell onto the floor.  Honest.  Had to tighten up to protect the goods, you know.

"Its a classic elixir vase from Pre-Tomasi Crux.  Practically Gruudl-esque in culture, still radiating some magical energies.  Tell me that isn't worth something to some enterprising spellslinger, hmm?"

"Its a stinkin' pot."  The man grasped me by the tail.  Shit.  This was going south fast.  "And I don't do hostile negotiations, Kaze."


I tumbled through the air after he flung me.  A twirl and a spin later, I landed on my feet in something soft.  I felt a instinctive hiss come out of my throat.  Generations of feyborn ferrets and I still react annoyed with a hiss.  "Hey!  My goods-"

"Take your bloody business elsewhere, Skysword!  I don't want it!"

The vase soon came afterward, aimed at my head.  I spat a command word and tossed out the onyx figurine from my belt pouch.  Yra sprang to life, caught the vase with her snout, then turned back to me.  Yra was a mastiff.  Her fur was as dark as the Onyx her figurine had been carved from.  Intelligent too.  One of my handier finds, she had a agile build to her.  She could move fast and had a talent for keeping out of sight.  All handy for a feyborn albino ferret like me.

What?  A ranger's got to have his animal companion.  I just decided on a talking dog is all.  Gee, you don't have a problem with a talking ferret telling you the story, but the talking dog part, now that crosses the line?

The magic item shoppe's door then slammed shut.  Its bell fell off in what I suspected was the universe trying to enact some justice for me.

"So I guess it didn't go well, boss?"  Yra asked, putting the vase down next to me.  The damn thing was the size of my head.  For Yra, it took control and precision to gently set it down.  Ficking world of twins-damned giants.

"Shuddup, fuzzball."  I snapped, rubbing my head.  "Damn fool wanted thirty copper for it."

"Ah."  Yra mused for a moment, then gave me a glance.  Talking animal companions that come in wondrous figurines can do that, mind.  I don't where the hell their creators thought it up, but they can.  "The Grand Bazaar then, like I said before?"

"Ack."  I tried not to spit out a hairball in disgust.  "I hate selling anything in that shitstorm.  Fricking Spice Khan's out to get me throat."

"Not if you're quiet, I think."  Yra suggested, but I could see bemusement in her eyes.  "But quiet isn't one of your strong suits, though."

"Spice Khan only hates me a tad less than the damnned Archwitch.  Still think that incident last year with the summoning circle was my fault.  All I did was recover the ruby.  I didn't know it'd light all that cinnamon on fire."

Yra let out a bark of laughter.  "You charging them double did it, I think, Kaze."

"Yeah.  Grand Bazaar I guess.  You mind...?"

"No problem, Master."  She gently sat down, then flattened so that she was lying on her belly.  I easily climbed onto the back of her neck.  I secured the vase to her leather collar.  "Ready?"

"Yeah... Grand Bazaar it is then."

"Grand Bazaar we go..."  Yra agreed.  We rode off.

Of course, my day was only about to get worse, not better.  Frick it all.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

City of Curses: Crux Fauna 1

Blurrets: Native to northern Ith and southern Ainesia, the Blurret is a native member of the mustelids- related to ferrets and polecats, Blurrets do differ in a couple of ways.  Most Blurrets have blue to purple fur, with eyes that glow white.  All Blurrets possess a natural form of sorcery, allowing them to become invisible for minutes at a time.

Blurrets also possess thumbs and are capable of some tool-use.  As such, most are seen as pests- they easily bypass most animal locks and can't be found without some sorcerous ability to perceive them.  Some are kept as pets, but most domesticated Blurrets are kept to help detect air elementals, invisible stalkers and invisible small fauna for their masters.  Some also claim that Blurret fur's invisible qualities can be transferred, but most modern arcanists refute this.

Ursyklon druids have long been able to interbreed Blurrets with Ferrets imported from Ainesia and Othebea.  Often only the thumbs are passed on as a trait.  Feyborn Blurrets and Feyborn Ferrets on the other hand, claim that such hybrids possess more ambition than others of their kind.  Within Feyborn Ferret society, they seem to garner a mix of revulsion and passionate excitement.

More than one hybrid breeder has also claimed that the hybrids are larger than either Blurret or Ferret.  Rumors persist of other, stranger breeding projects that Blurrets often are part of.  Giantsblood and other occult pieces are added, creating man-sized ever-invisible Blurrets that some on the Storm Coast hunt children.  But such things are stories, and no one has yet encountered a Blurret or a cousin Ferret mutated into such a gigantic specimen.

Aspects: An Unseen Dooking Sound; No Such Thing As Too Narrow

Squil or Penguin-Squid: Unique to the Maru Sea, Penguin-Squids are best known as the favored pets of sea witches and Cecaelia. Their top halves are identical to penguins, like those found in Northernmost Ainesia and distant Kainen.  Playful and enamored of most fish, Penguin-Squids also are easily domesticated.  Penguin-Squids are favored by fishing crews, who trained the strange creatures to herd and drive fish into their nets.

Penguin-Squids also are trained for all forms of various forms of hunting.  Gathering pearls, collecting crab, and even salvage work.

Cecaelia claim that Penguin-Squids (or Squils as they call them) were born from the fusing of fire and moonlight, an arcane spirit's wonder made real.  The Ursyklon claim they were a byproduct of some foul Abolethi creation, innocent of their creator's foulness but still something made in violation of nature.  Arcanists of the Esoterium Machina theorize that Penquin-Squids might've been borne of some Summoner during the reign of the Tomasi Empire, breeding true and growing wild after that Summoner had long gone.

Feyborn Penguin-Squids are rare.  Ursyklons dislike them, much like they dislike Owlbears.  Some do learn to like them, but never enough to have allowed the number of Awakened Squil needed to create Feyborn communities in the Maru Sea.  The Squil also are a favored meal among the poor of Crux and the Maliphi, being served along with Cat, Dog and Rat stalls.

Aspects: Mischevious Fisherdog; Where the Squil Dance

Whisper Sparrow: Native to the caves of the Skullmount and the rest of Crux, the Whisper Sparrow is a tiny grey-red bird no bigger than any of the common songbirds of Ainesia or Ith.  The Whisper Sparrow is best known for its song, which sound like whispers.  They often whisper in ancient tongues, something particular to what particular family of sparrow they descend from.

Each whisper contains a ancient secret- so the stories go.  In truth, Whisper Sparrows seem to speak gibberish.  But at specific times of night, dusk or dawn, Whisper Sparrows sing phrases that form spellcraft.  Indeed, the tiny birds can cast spells, but only do so at very specific times.  The Whisper Sparrows create a sort of charm effect, causing predators that would otherwise eat them to instead leave them alone.

That isn't the only spell they've been known to whisper, but it is the most common.  Some research the songs of the Whisper Sparrows, especially Medama Vampires.  The Medama swear there is a deeper truth the Whisper Sparrows know in pieces.  But finding the right pieces and putting them together, the Medama believe it is possible to uncover a secret from the civilizations that existed before the Ursyklon.  Others suggest that the Whisper Sparrows are descended from a species native to the Aether- that their magical abilities are just an atrophied trait.

Whisper Sparrows also are caught and eaten throughout the city, considered a delicacy by the Tengu.  Those who follow the Singer of the Song hold Whisper Sparrows sacred, that each song is a forgotten story.  To eat one is to kill a story, or so the Bards say.  There is a tiny group of Feyborn Whisper Sparrows, three of them in the entire city of Crux.  All three are believed to be Clerics of the Singer of the Song, but that remains unconfirmed.

Aspect: A Forgotten Whisper; Where the Whisper Sparrows Fly

Monday, January 12, 2015

City of Curses: The Keepers Session Report 5

Episode Title: "Station Street"
|Previous Session|

And after four sessions of the first arc, I decided my next series of arcs would be character-centric ones.  These "spotlights" would let each player's character get a bit of story around themselves, introduce a part of Crux to the group as a whole, and more or less let me work on setting up a subplot or two.

I wasn't feeling 100%, so this session was shorter than normal.  My players were stellar as always- asking questions about details I hadn't considered, more or less driving me to write things like the priot blog post on Poorfellows in depth.  Poorfellows is Crux's worst slum- a crowded, disease ridden island with the potential to explode, but literally and into riots as well.

This arc is focused on the character of Gav Zarak.  Gav is a Magus and is considered somewhat of a genius.  Discovered by the Voice and her agents, Gav's current slate of work at the university is the result of her efforts to help him make a better life for himself.  Gav appears to be human, but doesn't know that he is one of the Aethamir.  Half-blooded hybrid descendants of the cursed Aether-blooded, the Aethamir almost never know of their arcane ancestry.

Gav is also of a old Tomasi bloodline, tracing back to the generals and war mages of the Ancient Tomasi Empire.  He has a gang in Poorfellows, one dedicated to protecting the citizenry of the slums from the worser elements.  Although he has spent less and less time with the Station Streeters in the last few months, Gav still is loyal to them, especially considering his best friend Aldo Oppi is the gang's leader.

The player was kind enough to provide the details of all the gangs members, the oldest of which was Aldo, about the same age as Gav himself.  This sort of thing makes my job easier, and it means the story is made much better because of it.  Collaboration is one of the great cornerstones of gaming, and trying to bring his gang to life is part of what I tried to do.

Scene Question: Do the Keepers save Davit from the Gnolls pursuing him?
The game opened with me pre-compelling my players to go answer someone at the gates of the University, a odd Android who had arrived demanding to give Gav a message.  Outside the university gates, on the high bridge connecting it to the rest of the city, they first meet Davit.

The size of a gorilla, this android clearly wasn't a standard model.  He wore a bowler hat, his left arm a massive crane rather than a arm.  He looked grim.  Nervously looking behind him, he tipped his hat in Gav's direction.

"You are Santos Zarak's son?"  He asked.  "I've got a message for you."

"Is my father alright?"  Gav just stopped talking as a trio of Gnoll thugs appeared.  Bullets ricocheted as they shouted at Davit.  Hyena laughter echoed as they charged toward them.

"Android!  Surrender!"

Gav reacted on impulse, throwing a enchantment at the Gnolls.  Memory Lapse, creating a advantage, trying to make the thugs forgot why they were even there.  It worked, and instead the thugs concluded they must've been there to mug them instead.

Ishida snuck around the Gnolls, checking out the guardhouse on the other side.  It looked empty.

Ash on the other hand, offered the Gnolls some food.  Her player passed me a fate point, asking to compel the Gnolls to take the food and leave.  Because they clearly were trying to mug them for food.

That was too odd and funny not to say yes to.  The Gnolls left, and Ash realized she'd given up her lunch.  The injustice of it all.

Davit thanked them for the rescue; Ash's current Ferret companion (this time it was Paku, who considered himself a researcher into non-ferret society), had climbed onto the huge Android, studying him up and close.  The android looked at the tiny ferret, offering him a walnut.  Paku concluded that the android was trustworthy.

Davit explained that Varsooth (Gav's mentor and contact with the Voice) had sent him about Poorfellows.  Something had gone down, one member of his gang had gone missing.  Mirrabella.  Aldo had started to go on the war path.  So Davit and Gav left for Poorfellows, with Gav asking Pyro to look into the guardhouse's missing guard.

Ishida followed the Gnolls in the meanwhile.

The guard returned as Pyro started to investigate.

"Where have you been?  Some people got past- isn't that your job?"  Pyro asked.

"Sometimes with the proper lubrication, you can get what you want from anybody, know what I mean?"

Pyro believed he did.  The guard on the other hand, learned quickly that Pyro didn't understand his double entendre.  He refused Pyro's offer of further lubrication, as Pyro was more than willing to apply some oil to help the Skullguardsmen out.

Scene Question: Do the Keepers find and stop Aldo from starting a gang war in Poorfellows?

Ishida followed the Gnolls back to their den in Poorfellows.  Once there, he perched and watched them report back to a massive, obese female Gnoll.  After intense conversation, she shot one of the three.  Then she threw him onto a spit.

After more barking Ishida didn't understand, the two Gnolls left again.  Ishida followed them to a crowded plaza.

Ash followed Gav despite his attempts to ask her to help Pyro.  Pyro caught up to them before they crossed the bridge from the Wolf Quarter onto Poorfellows Island.  Ash meanwhile tried to get Gav to buy her some form of lunch.

No go, although some Rat vendors were tempting.

On Aquitane Street, Davit disappeared into a manhole.  Gav explained to Pyro that it was a bribe, and Pyro suffered a bit of a meltdown of a mental sorts.  Ash fixed him, however.

When they crossed over onto Station Street, it was to walk into a mass of people.  Elzio Plaza was filled with people.  On the fountain in the middle, was Aldo Oppi.  Leader of Gav's gang, Aldo looked to be leading a War Council.  Gav made his way over.

In response to Mirrabella going missing, Aldo started to recruit other gangs to join them to get her back.  Gav learned that Mirrabella had last been seen with one of the vampire gang of Patrizo, the Nightfish.  Gav acquised, helping Aldo with trying to do something about Mirrabella going missing.

I ended the session only after introducing a cliffhanger.

I introduced the members of Gav's gang, the Station Streeters, most of whom were watching Aldo's war council from a nearby shop, Sadix's.  Ash got some food, as well as meeting Dafni, a Bloodrager and girlfriend of Aldo's.  Faru, a little orphan boy with a druidic bent  stayed outside, more or less keeping an eye on things in his own fashion.  Pyro conversed with Ru, who was fascinated by his arm joints- but instead the two began to discuss bombs.

Gav entered, along with Ishida.  They started to discuss what to do next.  The Ratkings had promised open support.  Gaim'lr's Husbands went back to their boss to ask her if they would help or not as well.  Gav wanted to perhaps go and look into the Gnolls, although he still wanted a way to find Mirrabella soon, especially since Mirrabella was a stabilizing influence on the gang in a lot of ways.

Then Aldo crashed through the front window of Sadix's.

Patrizo vampires stood out in Elzio Plaza.  The Nightfish.

"I won't ask again!"  The vampire shouted.  The fountain behind him started to overflow, the Patrizo's water magic making it start to flood the plaza.  "Where is MY SISTER?!  She was last seen with one of yours!  Tell me or I will drown you all!"

It was then that Gav lept into the breach that I ended the session for the night.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

City of Curses: Poorfellows, In Depth


Aspect: Overcrowded & Ready To Explode
Connected To: Havershill (to the North), Wolf Quarter (To the West), Rose Quarter (to the South), Gallowsford (To the East)
Most Significant Icon: The Tinkerer
Well known For? Its gangs and poor.

I cross the fine marble St. Cuth's Bridge into Poorfellows proper.  Crowded, so much of the streets here are less than a man's width wide.  Some buildings can only be reached through wooden stairs, others are half-sunked villas from a forgotten age.  But even the ruins in this place aren't abandoned.  People, people, people.  Poorfellows is named after a Tomasi Legion, but if you come here, you will think it is for the raggedy, plague-ridden folk from all nations.

This place has rooms and board for any, but it is a dark urban nightmare.  A trap to its bedraggled folk.  The stink is perhaps the worse.  The rancid stench of the trapped, between the gnoll cannibals on the one hand and the fetid, forgotten dead on the other... this place is the worst of Crux, a stain on the city's character. 

The feyborn rats of Crux tell of even scarier horrors in this slum.  Those I spoke with curse Poorfellows on their tails- they speak of experiments on wererats and plagues under Poorfellows, of a massive pocket of methane doomed one day to explode, and warned me that one day the island would certainly explode in another fashion.  The Tinkerer and her androids grow daily, and most fear one day of the repercussions- a riot that this town has never seen before.

The area known as Poorfellows first was built as a fort prior to the Tomasi Empire.  The old fortress was raised with arcane magic, taking the name for the Tomasi who manned it.  Their fortifications on the island were key to the Tomasi taking Crux and the rest of the region from the Ursyklons' rule from Gruudl (what now is Palace Hill).  These Tomasi were the poor and downtrodden, slaves of the Ursyklons who were recruited by the Arcanists of the Tomasi Legions.

The Poorfellows Legion would command their Fortress for nearly a thousand years.  Its control over the sleeping straits secured the might of the arcane Tomasi Empire.  But the arcane nature of the Fortress's foundations never survived the downfall of the empire.  They had settled the island's west bank and cliffs heavily, building the many fountains, plazas and villas that would serve the island in its later years.

During the Othebean Crusades, Poorfellows was first taken by the Eternal Order of the Eagle and the Crow.  They never kept the land, instead destroying the last fortifications and making sure their warpriests created wards and symbols to prevent its use against their takeover of Crux.  As Othebea took control of Crux, the island became easier for Tomasi and other poor to settle.  Without bridges at the time, most of the island also suffered from damaged sewers, aquedects and foundations.  Mosquitos and disease were rampant for centuries, up to this day.

Perhaps the worst moment in Poorfellows' history was the Great Burn.  A group of Cecaelia witches were found on Poorfellows, and a Inquisitor of the Summer Rose insisted on burning them on the island.  Despite warning to the contrary, the Island became engulfed in flame.  The Great Burn lasted for a week, as attempts to stop the fires- which had managed to move into the damaged sewer lines- failed.  Later pockets of gases underneath Poorfellows were discovered by the University of Crux, revealing a huge pocket of methane and helium under the island.

Another fire could possibly burn for far longer should the main pocket of the gases ignite.

The fires destroyed a number of the older villas on the island.  By the time of Ith's own revolution, Poorfellows had become one of the denseist neighborhoods on all of Orphos.  Othebea did improve Poorfellows in one way before losing control of Ith- the three bridges that connect the island to the Wolf Quarter, Havershill and the Rose Quarter all were the end result of work done by the Archbishop, whose position once controlled Crux's government for Othebea.

Still known for its disease, poor and slums, Poorfellows retains its own history with a sense of pride.  The Tomasi families of Poorfellows can trace their lineages to some of the greatest generals and mages of the Tomasi Empire.  Its gangs protect their own.  The City Watch keeps clear of the island.  Each year, more and more downtrodden from all over the world find their way to Poorfellows, crowding more and more in.

In Poorfellows are its gangs, who come together to protect themselves.  Without the City Watch or others to interfere, these gangs more or less have free reign in the slums.  The Metropolitan Police seek to change that- but they still lack the funds, and more importantly, the recruits to do that.  [As mentioned in a prior post, the gangs come in a variety of flavors.  Instead, here I name two or three gangs in particular.]

The Nightfish: Newcomers to Poorfellows, the Nightfish are Patrizo vampires and dhampir.  Most of the other gangs distrust their emergence on the island, especially Gaim'lr's Husbands.  The Nightfish have been taking turf and business away from the Maliphi, most often trade goods.  No one knows why these Patrizo have left the Blood Quarter.  One rumor is that the Patrizo clan's infighting is fracturing faster than outsiders might've thought- becoming exiles and trying to start new ventures of their own.
Aspect: Making A New Home 

Gaim'lr's Husbands:  All Maliphi Gnolls, Gaim'lr's Husbands have taken over the most profitable business in Poorfellows, the import house that most stores on the island get their goods and groceries from.  Known for their cannibalism, Gaim'lr is one of the Spice Khan's agents in Crux.  The least interested in Poorfellows itself, the Spice Khan seeks to dominate all trade in the city regardless of where.  Each male member of the gang is married to Gaim'lr, an obese gnoll matriarch known for her rather violent bent.
Aspect: "I tell You Best Way To Eat People"

The Tinkerfolk: These Androids work and live in the shadow of their creator- the Tinkerer.  Most of them are customized Androids, modified by the Tinkerer.  Most live their lives in praise of their creator, one or two attempting to forge a Church for her.  Other live like a church of the Machine, attempting to educate others about the Tinkerer and technology.  Unlike most Androids, Tinkerfolk seem to have learned a great deal about emotions, most being older models that have spent years getting use to them.
Aspect: All Praise For the Tinkerer!

The Ratkings: Primarily dwelling in the sewers of Poorfellows are the Ratkings.  Some suspect them to be wererats, living in the filth and disease of the lower parts of Poorfellows.  The Ratkings don't acknowledge these accusations, enjoying their privacy and trying to help their own poor folk out.  Also the Ratkings tend to massive herds of rats, which they sell to street vendors throughout Poorfellows for food.
Aspect: "Rats Are People Too."

The Station Streeters: Interested trying to make a difference in Poorfellows, Aldo Oppi and others formed a tight knit gang that helps others on the island against those who might prey upon them.  The Tinkerer has long allied with the group, as has the Voice.  Both do what they can to help the Station Streeters to protect their neighbors.  But Poorfellows resists their efforts, a task sometimes monumental in its scale.
Aspect: Station Street Honor

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: The Patrizo

A look at one of the vampire clans of Crux, City of Curses.

Aspect(s): Ours Is The Water;

Invoke When: Near water, underwater, talking about water or working any sort of water magic.
Compel When: To act cold or unfeeling, OR too dry, dehydrated or too warm and must return to the sea for comfort.

The Patrizo are often slandered as Fish-Vampires.  Unlike other vampires, the Patrizo don't fear
running water.  Water is their right, something all Patrizo claim mastery over.

The Patrizo descend from Maliphi Pirates that plagued the Storm Coast starting five to six thousand years ago.  Only one or perhaps two vampires survive from those pirates, but they started the same course their descendants continued.  They were slavers, and rather famed for how despicable they were to those they took.  Later Patrizo would continue the practice, of sorts.

The Patrizo claim their line began with a man called Baron Patrizo, captain of a swift slaving ship called the Dark Lady.  Born in Salira, he sailed the ocean until he fell into collecting slaves in the Maru sea and the Storm Coast.  In the Maliphi slave markets, his slaves always brought the most gold.  Their skin always had a soft, fresh tone.  They smelled of perfume.

Baron Patrizo soaked his catch in a brine.  Almost drowning them, using a perverted transmutation spell to turn his captured slaves to fish.  A few claim he would take maidens to bed- then using water magics turn her into fresh cod for his dinner plate.  One night the maid he took sneered at him.

He scoffed at her.  When Patrizo went to twist her body into a form for his meal, she spat at him.

"I am a daughter of Shraxes, Patrizo.  Seven times she warned you, and seven times you spurned her mercy."  Patrizo's spell failed to change the Shraxes witch, whose eyes glowed with divine fire.  "Saltwater you collect your meal, and you laugh at the meat you take.  Seven times the Caged One curses you, seven times she spits back at you, seven times will you never be free of your precious sea."

From that night onward, Patrizo's body became cursed.  He became a dweller of the sea, his flesh growing gills.  Stinking of fish, the sun would never warm him- only burn him.  The Dark Lady became a ghost ship, and its slaves became meals for its captain.  His belly would never fill, and Patrizo would wander and wander the seas, his blood more seawater but so very cursed.

Patrizo Extra:
Fish-Vampire: This stunt costs 2 Fate refresh, but grants the Patrizo the ability to cast major spells so long as they fall within the flavors of Sea, Water and Fish.  In addition, the Patrizo gains access to the skill Patrizo, which they can use to in place of Sorcery to cast spells, for any form of swimming, nautical knowledge and in place of Athletics for dodging attacks so long as the Patrizo is within arms reach of saltwater.
Drawback: Fish-Vampires always stink of fish, and have a harder time avoiding notice (-2 on the Sneaky approach).  In addition, sunlight causes them physical and mental stress.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

City of Curses: The Keepers Session 4: Silver Snakes

The Keepers 4: Den of the Silver Snakes

Session Report for a Fate Core game set in Crux, City of Curses.  For the Previous Session Report, click here.

A bit late, but here is the session report for my last game of Crux. The Keepers did some home invasion, stopping the Machine while setting the city on fire.

The Opener: Scene Question: "Does Fulcrum tell Ono and Rainel about the Machine?"

In a scene with just NPCs, Ono and Rainel find Professor Fulcrum in the Alchemy Lab. After a bit of discussion, Ono threatens Fulcrum to tell him about the device. Ono is on a mission from the Archbishop- he has to stop this threat, before things spiral out of control. Fulcrum tells him what he wants to know- even though Fulcrum knows he could've potentially stopped the Tengu Crow.

Fulcrum let Ono go, hoping Pyro wasn't in any danger...

Scene Question: "Do the Keepers spare the youngest members of the Silver Snakes Gang?"

In the last session I asked a player (the player of Ash to be specific) to give me up to three truths that all would happen in the next session. She wrote down about the Keepers finding children guarding the roof and how the Keepers could bribe them with food.

Only one of those happened, however. 

Ishida had followed the rest of the Keepers into the Wish Quarter. He observed them from another rooftop, as they moved toward the Silver Snake's den via a neighbor's roof. Ishida knew the dangers of the area, especially under the sway of the Silver Snakes.

The Silver Snakes are a gang belonging to the Demon's Orphans, under the purview of the Archwitch. A gang that detests Ursyklongs, they believe them to be the root cause of many Tieflings' ills in Crux. 

The rest of the Keepers snuck toward the Silver Snakes Den. 

Ash, trying to find a place to use as cover on their approach, accidentally knocked over a aging and crumbling chimney, covering her legs in bricks. It also masked her location, making it look like she had disappeared. Gav responded by using wind to blow out all of the lanterns by the watching guards- And Pyro walked right up to those on guard, asking them where he might find "The machine."

Ishida mean while looked for a way into the building. He found a window, but took some physical stress squeezing through it quietly. 

While Ash dug her way out of the brick she was under, Pyro was confronted with guns. The gangsters on the roof are all Tiefling children, none older than 9 years. Despite the dark, Pyro's own arcane runes and gears lit up the area. Each of them point their pistols up at the Android.

Gav acted as fast as he could. He wove a quick spell, planting a Suggestion on the children. When Pyro asked the children how they got there, each child began recite their own life stories, entranced by the spell and Pyro's words. 

Eventually they drive the children away, Pyro using Gav's enchantment to get them to leave. Ash sends her own ferret into the Warehouse ahead, but they only hear ceramics break.

Meanwhile Ishida found the rest of the Silver Snakes, busy. The gang of tieflings danced and listened as one of them played guitar.  The music was loud enough for Ishida to hunker down and observe, keeping an eye out in case one of the gang moved toward the two big doors where the Machine must be stored.

After Ash easily broke into the skylight of the building Gav dropped down like a feather to the top of something crazy covered in white canvas.  Ash's ferret, Moki, meanwhile continued on its mission, knocking over the occasional pot.  The warehouse looked to be a former kiln and pottery, so old forgotten bits of ceramic were everywhere.  So Moki seemed to not be subtle.

Gav felt the Machine try to coerce him.  His will resisted its temptation.

Gav wove a spell to make the room sound silent to anyone observing.  Meanwhile Ash and Pyro joined him.  Then Pyro started to blow the machine up.

As the machine started to overload, it's exhaust heat became more and more choking.  That was when the tiefling urchins came back.  Ash did what she could to get them out, while Gav yelled and shouted until they obeyed.

Ash went into the alley behind the kiln room the machine was in.  Her body started to shudder, the poison from earlier almost knocking her unconscious.  She fell over, as the bricks of the warehouse began to glow red.

Although built to contain heat, the warehouse began to be too much for Pyro and Gav.  The Machine fought Pyro at each step, almost alive in its struggle to dodge destruction.  As they lept out, the two of them saw crackling energy open several portals at once.

One such portal struck at Gav with bright energy.  It didn't harm him: instead, Gav's skin turned purple.

The warehouse rose into the air.  Black smoke bellowed from it, fire and sparks spreading to neighboring buildings.  The entire neighborhood emerged from their homes, massing in the streets.  Some panicked, while others tried to something to stall the growing fires.

Ono ran into Gav and Pyro across the street.  Seeing what they had done, Ono promised to cover them so they might make their escape.  Above, Rainel flies, calling down a storm of rain to help quench the fire.

Only a crater remained of the Silver Snakes den.

Ash on the other hand, woke up in the arms of tiefling matrons of the local orphanages.  Her disguise had taken on tiefling traits.  Ash had to do her best to convince the matrons to let her go.

Scene Question: "Do the Keepers inform the Chancellor of what happened?"

That night, the Keepers met up at a bar on the Skullmount, the Scroll & Bone.  A friend of Gav's owned the place, letting them use it in private.  Ash didn't look very pleased, arriving late and taking a rather large- for her- pint of beer.

After a bit of conversation, a old Tengu janitor began to clean the floor.  Gav and Ash recognized Ishida, whose disguise was purposefully poor to get their attention.  Gav revealed him, and a surprised Pyro hugged Ishida, relieved to find him alive.  Despite having abandoned them and running off on his own for most of this scenario, Pyro still remains impressed with Ishida's knack for deceit.

The next morning the Keepers go to the central hall of the University to discuss what had happened with the Chancellor.  Again, Gav meets with someone other than the Chancellor, one of his aides and a professor of mathematics.  Gav and Ash talk with him, as both Pyro and Ishida choose to stay outside.

After a long discussion, they didn't admit to causing the machines's destruction on purpose.  Still impressed, the aide mused about further research and Gav's thoughts on it.  Unlike prior, Ash tried to contain herself when faced with the multiple racial slurs used against her.  

"We shouldn't let the religious madness of a few blind us to the potential gains,"  the Aide pointed out.  "We should be able to replicate it, don't you think?"

"Uh... the thing had a consciousness."  Gav shuddered.  "It was malevolent."

"So... perhaps the best way to approach it is to use an Android then?"  

"You're not listening to me."  Gav insisted.  "The machine tried to control me.  It mutated all the tieflings that used it.  It could be nothing but dangerous."

"I see..." The aide thanked them for their effort.

After they had left, the professor placed a tablet of black metal onto his desk.  It looked like the same ichor-black metal that had comprised the machine.  He cut his palm, placing it down onto the metal.  His blood fed it, and he closed his eyes in concentration.

"...yes they denied destroying it.  I think took part it in its destruction.  Yes... Of course sir.  They still have potential...  We just have to wait."

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 Rambling Blog: GO!

Time to ramble.  I haven't done this in awhile.  Time to ramble a bit.

That is what blogging is for right?

I feel like I haven't kept up on my graphic novel reading* like I'd prefer.  Fables had been my go to fix, and catching up on Hellboy had been a thing.  But some other things fell out of my attention.

I need to read more comics.  I recently got a hold of Rat Queens and Hawkeye, and I feel embarassed for not having read them any sooner.  Fek, I regret not starting Saga any sooner.

And comics is a medium I love.  Its up there with IDK, books and whatever.  My novel reading also feels like it has faltered a bit too.  I suspect my penny-pinching has affected this the most.

I want to read more.  Other things pop in.  Distract me.

So I wonder, do I really want to read, or what?


2014 still had been reading what I guess had been a huge load of books.  I actually checked; between RPGs, comics, webcomics, novels, novellas, short stories and other myriad loads of fiction/nonfiction, I consumed more than I remember consuming.


Yet I think I hadn't.

So, perception bias I guess.  Or maybe I need to do more Reading Materials.  Reviewing my reads might get me to actually remember the context of when I read them.

That said, been going through the World of Fire & Ice.  As a setting book (and totally not a RPG supplement) its great.  I've been loving it.

Same is true of Saga, which I got the first volume of.  Seems like another series for me to dive into.

For Xmas I did receive a copy of Mindjammer.

Now Mindjammer?  This I had been wanting.  Wanting hard enough that I kept myself away from the kickstarter on purpose.  I didn't have the money to spend on it.  Mindjammer is the kind of future sci-fi setting I want to play in.

Affecting the roles of gender as a core part of understanding the future?  Check.  Technology is the root cause of evil?  Check.  Interesting pieces of setting you can drop or use at will?  Double-check, simulacrums!

Top of my list of things to try and dive through I think.

Alright.  End of ramble.  Adios!