Thursday, February 26, 2015

City of Curses: Srady's Penny, Magic Item Stats [Fate Core]

Fate Core Magic Item: Srady's Penny

Function Aspect(s): There Is Always Another Trick, Size of a Mouse, Size of a Bear

Trouble Aspect: Never Changes Its Size

Srady's Penny is an ancient coin, one face is a bear and the other is a mouse.  Ursyklon legend claims it had been the source of innumerable tricks employed by its creator, Srady Wiseowl.  It radiates a strong transmutation aura.  Until it was recovered by the Keepers, most never knew how it functioned.

Skills: Transmutation Good (+3), Nature Fair (+2), Deceit Average (+1)

"Size of a Bear!": When held with the Bear face up and the phrase "Size of a Bear" in spoken aloud in Ursyklon, Srady's Penny causes the subject to grow until they are at least ten feet tall.  The subject's race aspect changes, becoming "Size of a Bear!" until the effect disappears.  If the penny's other stunt is used to get rid of the effect, Size of a Mouse overrides the Size of the Bear, not cancelling it out- instead the subject shrinks to the size of a mouse.

"Size of a Mouse!": When held with the Mouse face up and the phrase "Size of a Mouse" in spoken aloud in Ursyklon, Srady's Penny causes the subject to grow until they are at least three inches tall.  The subject's race aspect changes, becoming "Size of a Mouse!" until the effect disappears.  If the penny's other stunt is used to get rid of the effect, "Size of a Bear!" cancels out "Size of a Mouse!", returning the subject back to their original size.

The transmutation effect is permanent.  The penny's owner might be able to learn other stunts that let them use the penny in unusual or unique ways.  Most importantly, Srady's Penny never can change its size.  If forced to endure a transmutation effect to change it, the penny would crack and be destroyed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

City of Curses: Icons: The Tinkerer

Aspect:  Create Wonder Never Harm
Quote: "Androids were never meant to be tools.  My work has been perverted at its most basic level,
and I refuse to contribute to the enslavement of a people."

Nikola Ripley created the Android race less than twenty years ago.  She never foresaw them becoming property.  That was never her goal.  When her work was used by the Chancellor for military and other uses, she left the Esoterium Machina for Poorfellows.  Ever since, she strives to invent wonders and help androids find the rights others deny them.

Common Knowledge
The Tinkerer used to be a prominent member of the Esoterium Machina and a Professor at Crux University.  She engineered all sorts of arcane works, especially constructs.  Her golems and other artifice could be found throughout Crux and most of the Maru Sea.

After creating Androids, she spoke out repeatedly for them.  When common folk lost jobs to androids and she led protests against the rioters trying to destroy Android workers.  Most are certain she cares more for her machines than people.

When she fell out of favor in the Esoterium Machina, she moved into Poorfellows.  Her interviews in the Crux Gazette painted Nikola as cold, somewhat foreign, and willing to do anything to help Androids achieve rights.  In Poorfellows she has founded a fanatical cult of Androids.  Freed or escaped, they believe her to be the true manifestation of the Machine in Crux.

For some others, Nikola Ripley is a potential master.  They live as destitute artists and inventors in Poorfellows, always looking for ways to obtain her mentorship.  Most never see her, but the prodigious few are taken under her wing.

Nikola Ripley spend most of her academic career finding ways to create artifice and wonders that were as beautiful as they were functional.  The daughter of an Ainesian Clockmaker, Nikola grew up in the cold north of Ainesia.  At the age of sixteen she moved to Crux.

An arcanist, artificer and transmuter prodigy, Ripley quickly became a student at Crux University- within a year she became professor, creating golems and other constructs that helped to balloon the University's budget.  The Professor of Artifice gave her the nickname most know of her now: the Tinkerer.

Then the Tinkerer became obsessed with the Aethmin.  Ancient creations of the Aetherblooded, the Aethmin were mixed aspects of golems and familiars.  They also were made out of fire, and those that remain are prone to causing destruction.

Her obsession led to the creation of the first Androids.  Aethmin could still be found, including in the catacombs in and under the Skullmount.  An ancient site in the catacombs had been left by the ancient Aetherblooded, an series of Aethmin relics that revealed part of what was needed to create them.  The Tinkerer used this as the basis of a complex series of artifice.  She combined the fire of the Aethmin to the almost human looking wax of the wax golems and the complex computational gearwork found in clockwork constructs.  Thus, were the Androids born.

Nikola never intended them to be thinking beings.  But when the first one showed intelligence to her, she pressed the Chancellor to help her free them.  Instead, he sold that Android and pressed for their declaration as property.  The Tinkerer left the university, almost twenty years ago, and began her own work to help the race she had created.

The Tinkerer welcomes anyone with talent to come to her workshops in Poorfellows.  However, she has never condoned the cults of Androids that worship her.  She never speaks directly on the subject, but has come to avoid the press after previous misunderstandings.

The Tinkerer's residence in Poorfellows speaks to part of her thinking.  Born in poor conditions, she dislikes wealth, despite having amassed a private fortune to fund her workshops.  Her support of the poor and the high wages she employs have long made her an ally of the Voice.  Both coordinate any protests or other work, always looking for ways to advance the unsorcerous or androids of Crux when they can.

By the same coin, the Tinkerer has a working relationship with the Archwitch.  Both dislike some of the established powers of Crux.  They both work to advance the interests of impoverished minorities.  The Tinkerer refuses to provide the Archwitch or her people with any kind of weapons.  She does help the Archwitch fulfill some of her erstwhile wishes, providing access to wondrous invention in exchange for services the Archwitch alone provides.

She also maintains a strong friendship with the Police Commissioner.  She provides insight on specific cases for the Metropolitan Police, in exchange the Police Commissioner helps her with protests and providing aid to androids he and his men come across.  This relationship is tenuous, as the Tinkerer often feels either pressured by the Commissioner or that the Commissioner is less than honest about helping androids' rights.

The Banker has never been a friend of the Tinkerer, although the Banker would claim to not know the reasons behind it.  The Banker invests and helps protect the wealthy who purchase, manufacture and use Android workers.  As long the Banker finances the those who would Androids, that is opposition enough to the Tinkerer.

The Spice Khan is another foe of the Tinkerer.  In that the Spice Khan has long tried to recruit the Tinkerer as an employee.  Her servants often steal Androids and resell them, often in cruel ways.  Tensions between the Khan's gangs and the Tinkerer's cults erupt in violence, especially within Poorfellows.  Although not at war, the two icons move closer to it every week.

And of course, the Tinkerer also considers the Chancellor an enemy.  Both reflect opposite takes on the same coin: the wondrous benefits of science and knowledge.  But where the Tinkerer seeks only wonder, the Chancellor looks for ways to exploit.  Where the Tinkerer draws a line, the Chancellor crosses it as if on principle.  The Chancellor does actively try to subvert the Tinkerer's efforts, often trying to find ways to steal projects or to prevent the Tinkerer from making any more money from her inventions.  The Chancellor sees her activities in Poorfellows as competition, and potentially dangerous to the rest of the Esoterium Machina.

Plot Hooks
The Perfecters: A cult of Androids worshiping the Tinkerer misinterpret one of her phrases at a
protest.  Within a week, they started abducting humans and started forcibly grafting android parts to them.  The process is painful.  Most die or go mad from it.  The Androids also start adding pieces of dead people to their own bodies.  They seek a more "perfect" form of existence.  The Tinkerer approaches the players' characters, to ask them to help her rein in these mad Androids.

Runaway Android: An android drone runs into the characters, having escaped their abusive owner.  Seeking refuge, the characters try to find someone to help hide the android, who has attracted the attention of police as stolen property.  Whatever the reason, the characters are drawn to taking the Android to the Tinkerer.  The Android is a plant: inside it is a thing created by the university, intended to be released near the Tinkerer's workshop.  The Android doesn't know, and the thing inside it is a eldritch horror eager to abuse its host's arcane clockwork.

The Wonder: The Tinkerer has created a new wondrous item, but needs to test it.  The item attracts the interest of the Spice Khan, who covets it despite not knowing what it does.  Whatever the item's function, the characters are tasked with testing it.  They also have to fend off the Spice Khan's thugs, who don't take no for an answer.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

City of Curses: Local Map of Crux

Major Landmarks and Local Geography around Crux

The Cross River: The Cross flows northward into the Maru Sea from its source deep in the southern reaches of Ith.  The Cross is one of the major life veins of Ith, linking the interior to the trade hub of Crux.  It forms the Cross basin to the east of Mount Eidda, winding until it exits at Crux's eastern quarters.  The waters of the Cross are ever-murky, a constant source of disease as many towns (including Crux) run their sewage into it.

The Lock River: The Lock is a much smaller river than the Cross, but its winding course around Mount Eidda has long been of benefit to irrigation south of Crux itself.  The Lock's source is Lock Springs, near the Barrow Hills.  The Lock also flows to a number of ancient sites, like the ruins of the town Eidass at Eidda's southern face.

The Smoke River: The Smoke flows to Crux from its source, the noble and tall mountain known as the Solemn Crown.  Along its flow can be found the Boilfalls, a number of critical mining sites and the rocky hills of Cape Redsear.  The water of the Smoke is always somewhat yellow, carrying a bit of sulfur with it.

Westroad: This exits Crux and goes in a southwestern direction into the Storm Coast.  A treacherous road, the Westroad has many breaks and pitfalls as it crosses through swampland and other precarious terrain.  It also connects to the nearby city of Blackcliff, where the Ithic navy is stationed.

Ithroad: The Ithroad is one of the oldest roads along the Maru Sea.  It connects Crux with the cities of Ithspan and Athrid to the east.  Along the Ithroad are many of the oldest communities in Ith, as well as some of its most wellknown landmarks.  The Ithroad proved critical to Othebea during their Crusades to conquer Ith, only being stopped when they reached its end, Crux.

Salish Road: This northerly road connects Crux with the small town of Lastport, before venturing into Salira itself.  Critical to the salt trade long ago, the Salish road has always been of stragetic importance to Ith, as it is the main route between it and the majority of Ainesia.

Boilroad: The Boilroad is the newest of the roads that end at Crux.  Connecting Crux to the relatively new city of Boilport to the North, the Boilroad travels up the coast west of the Burning Mountains, a region of dense rain-forests and volcanic wastes.  Some travel the Boilroad for its intriguing curiosities, from its unique flora to geysers and hotsprings created by the volcanic activity of the Burning Mountains.

Verzara's Island: The Red Dragon Verzara created this island, literally becoming one with magma pocket to lead to its formation prior to the Othebean Crusades.  Her children inherited the island, some still returning to its estates from their work in other parts of Ith.  Now it serves mainly as a vacation attraction for the wealthy and affluent of Ith.

Patrizo Estates: West of Crux along the bottom of the ocean floor are the Patrizo Estates.  In the blackness of the ocean floor Patrizo vampires hold their own sort of wicked court, using their water magic and dhampir children to live opulent lives far away from the greater authorities of Ith.  Most Patrizo elders live in Crux, but choose to retire and vacation in the estates, often seeing them as "their private kingdom."

Cecaeli Shoals: These shallow waters east of Crux are home to various Cecaelia Cities, members of the Republic Ith, albeit in a different fashion.  The shoals are home to a variety of different Cecaelia, although many leave the shoals for Crux or other waters.  With more and more pollution flowing into their homes from the mainland, some in the Shoals grow more and more desperate.

Burning Mountains: Volcanic, tall and crimson, the Burning Mountains look as though they are on fire to those who see them in the distance.  Among them is the Solemn Crown, one of the most famous mountains in Ith.  The Burning Mountains are not just fire; mainly are covered in glaciers that feed the Smoke river.  Eruptions among the Burning Mountains are a constant fear.  The Esoterium Machina in Crux studies them, some to predict them, while others look for ways to gain arcane power through such eruptions.

Cape Redsear: Named for the bright red basalt boulders found throughout it, Cape Redsear is one of the least populous regions of Ith.  Between isolated mining towns and some trading ports, the ground has always been too rocky and thin to support any serious farming, hindering attempts for populations to grow.

The Tomasi Plateau: The Tomasi Plateau begins near Spidertown across most of the western interior of Ith.  The plateau is littered with the ruins of the Tomasi empire.  From these hills did the Tomasi empire emerge, including its first capital and cities, most of which were later abandoned when the Empress managed to convince the Prince of Crux to let that city be their capital.  Feral eidolons and other remnants of the empire are to be found throughout the Plateau, once the main staging ground for the summoner-legionnaires of the Tomasi Legions.

Storm Swamps: At the northern edge of the Storm Coast, the Storm Swamps are a vast estuary full of various things.  In ancient days, they were home to black dragons and cults that worshipped them.  The black dragons died out, and the cults turned to other beings for their power.  The Ursyklon that dwell in the Swamps claim that the Aboleth never left it, insistent that they continue the war most other Ursyklon claim ended long ago.  There is talk of black weretiger Priestess, who commands a temple-city full of eldritch horrors, who took back the swamp after Othebean Crusaders failed to destroy the temple.

Blackcliff: The last town before one rides the Westroad into the Storm Swamps.  Blackcliff is named after the vast obsidian cliffs it sits upon.  Blackcliff is home the Ithic Navy's dry-dock, where many ships for the Navy are constructed and sent out.

Harun: A small village on the Cross River.  Very small, Harun is at the epicenter of many farms that help feed Crux.  They are proud of their tomatoes, they even hold a yearly festival for them.

Roost Town: A tiny fishing town on Verzara's Island.  Descendants of humans first brought to the island by the red dragon Verzara, Roost Town is a popular vacation spot for wealthy Cruxites.  The town caters to tourists, although many have dragon's blood and do their best to hide it.  Roost Town is a resort town, most of whom are used to visitors from Crux itself.

Spidertown: Founded by a wizard with a fetish for Spiders, along the Ithroad and southern Maru Sea coast.  One third of the town sits on a ancient temple, covered in spider statues and more spider-themed decor.  The Spider Temple has long been home to one arcane cult or another, frequently requiring some sort of government interference to prevent the summoning of any sort of eldritch spider-god.  Also, the town herds cat-sized spiders, slaughtering them and shipping the meat up river to Crux.

Lastport: A tiny trade village on the Salish Road, northeast of Crux.  Lastport is mostly salt mines.  It is also one of the last communities in Ith before one crosses over the border into Ainesia to the north.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Keepers Session Report 7: Srady's Penny Part 1

This is late in coming.  Let's get to what was a fantastic session.  Srady's Penny was the second of a
series of story arcs based on my characters.  During these story arcs, one character is put front and center.  Last time I had made a mistake, not doing anything to draw the other players in, so I crafted a bit of a b-plot to try and give them something to do.

This session was centered around Ash Wiseowl, Kyra's character.  Ash is an Ursyklon[1] and an "archaeology major", or a thief in other words.  With a bit of a fiery temper and big ambitions, she often goes big instead of going small.  Sometimes that gets her in trouble.  In this story, she stole something valuable, but for a good reason.

Scene Question: Do Aldo and Gav let the Ratkings take Faru?
Before the session started I had asked my players for three truths.  The truths I got weaved a rather elegant tale: Ash stole a valuable painting, and by the start of the session, had been caught and drug through a rather insulting tirade of questions from journalists.

At the start of the session I gave Kyra the background matter, based on the truths the players had given me.  I asked her to think things over and decide where the painting had been stashed.  I never ran the part about the painting being stolen.  Instead I let Ash's player digest the information and spend a few minutes to decide how her character acted after stealing the Solemn Crown, the painting in question.

Until she was ready, I turned the spotlight on another player, on the b-story of the arc.  Gav Zarak and the rest of the Keepers (except for Ash, who was busy pulling a caper), were with Gav's best friend, Aldo.  A member of the Ratkings came to confront them about another NPC member of Gav's gang, a young boy named Faru.  The Ratkings are a gang of sewerdwellers, with some affinity for rats.

The man claimed to be Faru's father, and wanted his son returned.  Aldo and Gav refused.  The man took offense at Gav's attitude toward him.  Afterward Gav asked Faru about it.  The small boy fled from Gav and the rest of the gang, insisting he had to leave to protect them from the "others."

Confused, Gav wasn't able to follow when Ash appeared.

A rough sketch of "The Solemn Crown"
By Finley of Northcrown
Scene Question: Does Ash react well to the insulting questions of the journalists as she's being brought into Crimsonspire for her arrest?

Ash, after making sure the painting had been hidden, was arrested and taken to Crimsonspire.  Home to one of the three police forces in Crux, the Metropolitan Police.  The tall red building was covered in press too.

Ash didn't react peacefully to the journalists questions.  Most were insulting, questioning if she were part of some Ursyklon plot to take over the city.  As she was dragged up into Crimsonspire she screamed and cursed.

The Metro tried to interrogate Ash.  But she had none of it.  She asked them politely to tell her the fastest way out of the building.  They didn't like that.

After being left alone to "think on her options," Ash had no trouble getting out of her bonds.  Ash has a stunt that prevents her from being detained- she always can find a way to escape.  The small and fierce ursyklon uncovered a hidden passage out of the interrogation room, uncuffed herself and walked out of Crimsonspire.  She headed for Poorfellows, to get Gav and the rest to help her.

"You stole the most important painting in history!"  Gav exclaimed when Ash explained in Station House.

"Well, that isn't the reason I stole it."  Ash replied.  "I stole it for a better cause."

Ash explained to the rest of the Keepers how the painting had a map to a missing artifact of her clan.  The Wiseowls had lost a coin, called Srady's Penny, thousands of years of ago.  But on the back of the painting should be a map left that leads the way to finding the Srady's Penny.

No one knows what Srady's Penny does, only that its own supposedly did all sorts of trickery with it.

Professor Rill knocking at the door startled Ash, and she convinced the rest of the Keepers to follow her through the Station House door that exited into the Wolf Quarter.  Since the Station House could connect distant parts of Crux through its magic, the Keepers quickly arrived near where Ash had stowed the painting known as the Solemn Crown.

The Solemn Crown was painted by Finley of North Crown, a famous artist from five centuries previous.  It depicted Boilfalls, a waterfall that drained a hotspring in the volcanic Burning Mountains north of Crux.  A beautiful piece, the Solemn Crown is considered Finley's greatest work.  Ash stole it from the Chancellor's private collection, but her accomplice- a feyborn Ferret by the name of Kaze Skysword- managed to get away with it.

Ash takes the Keepers to where she and Kaze are supposed to meet: her sister's home in the Wolf Quarter.

Scene Question: Do the Keepers find where Ash has hidden the Painting?
The Keepers ascend a building that is part tree and part stone.  At the very top they arrive at Ash's Sisters, an apartment full of songbirds.  Ash's Sister (I somehow have forgotten her name, I need to remember to write it down), showed how much she despised Ash.

With a face full of scars, she let the Keepers into her home.  On the floor were the three ferrets, hogtied.  Aghast, Ash asked why.

"I had to.  Little murderers wanted to eat my songbirds.  You always let them eat my songbirds."

After untying Kaze, he pulled out the a tube with the painting in it.  A tiny painting, the Keepers copied the map on the back of it.  Meanwhile, Pyro was fascinated by the merging of plant and stone that comprised the building.

The Keepers then left.  Ash's Sister, relieved to finally have them out of her home, made a snarky comment about Ash's goal to go into Gruudl to look for the coin.  "And I hope you go into Gruudl without permission.  I'm sure you'd look great as a tree."

Ash pauses, thinking that over.

But not for too long.  The Keepers exited the building, entering Tengril Square.  A trio of figures greeted them.

"Hand over the little lass," a bounty hunter with a rifle told them.  "All we want is her."

And that was where we ended it.

Unlike the previous story, this one kind of rocked.  Considering I was sick when I ran it, I managed to do well.  Also unlike the previous story, most of the content this time was collaboratively driven.  The idea of it being a relic hunt was something Ash's player suggested.  Having Faru appear as part of a b-plot was another player's suggestion- Gav's- because he wanted to interact with his character's NPCs more.

I also had each player help me create the map of the place that Srady's Penny was being kept.  Each of them contributed something to that map.  All I did was draw it out.  Later I would add complications, but they would find them in part 2.

I felt more on track with this story arc.  My style relies on players being proactive, and me reacting to them.  I help them find plotlines if they are floundering, but most of the time they know what they want their characters to be doing.

Flash Fiction: Wild Child

"I-" Macha tried not to stammer.  For her, it had been months since she had needed to speak out loud.

She tried not to cry.  But the kind woman wasn't listening to the small child.  Very small with dirty, brown hair, Macha had been arguing with the woman for awhile.  Macha couldn't explain all of it.  But the tiny child knew she couldn't be trapped there.  Bad things would happen.

"Child, don't argue with me."  The stern yet kind woman in red knelt down.  "Everything will be alright.  You don't have to go anywhere."

"You don't understand."  Macha stared at the door behind the woman.  "Please... you don't want to be here..."

Macha figured the woman to be some kind of priest.  That's what she'd heard others call people in those kind of robes.  Her robes were scarlet.  Macha liked her kind voice.  It felt warm.  Macha could tell this was a woman who genuinely wanted to help children like her.  But Macha knew what she was.  Each moment she was here, it got closer to be dangerous for this nice woman.

The woman's face looked concerned.  "Child, are you in danger?"

Macha shook her head.  "I'm not.  You are.  Please."

The woman looked confused.  Then she shook her head.  Macha could tell the woman had dismissed the idea altogether.  She must've thought Macha was playing a game or lying or something.  Macha sighed, frustrated.


"I'm just trying to warn you!" Macha could feel tears welling up in her eyes.  Moonlight started to flood through a nearby window.  Macha slumped down in defeat.  It was too late.

"Child, that is enough.  Please.  I'm just trying to help you."  The woman paused to give Macha a chance to respond.  "Please, child, tell me what is your name?"

"It's too late."  Macha couldn't see the woman clearly anymore.  Why didn't she leave her alone?  Macha knew where she could go, where no one could get hurt.  Why didn't she listen to her?  "I'm sorry."

The woman sighed.  She sounded tired.  Macha could feel it coming on.  The kind woman had to be frustrated with her.  Macha wished she could do more.  But she didn't listen.  Too late.  The change came.

Macha screamed in pain as it began.  The full moon made her flesh stretch and bend.  Her bones snapped, her flesh twisting.  The changes began.

Macha's skull elongated, her teeth turning into sharp canines.  Fur flowed onto her skin.  The raggy shift the woman had made Macha wear shredded into raggy bits.  Her fingers twisted into long claws.

Then Macha blacked out as the Wolf took over.


Macha woke up covered in dried blood.  She had wrapped herself around a long chunk of the woman's arm.  Macha threw it away, disgusted.  Sticky.  Macha felt sticky.

The sewers.  Macha looked around.  Home.  She never remembered what happened when the wolf was in control.  Moonlight, then Macha blacked out.

"Wildchild."  Macha told herself.  "I'm too wild.  Why didn't you listen to me?"

Macha sobbed as she sat in a pool of gore, not hungry.  Not hungry at all.  She never went hungry.  Not when the moon was full.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

City of Curses: Gruudl, In Depth

Aspect(s): Wonders of An Earlier Age; Who Knows What Is In The Dark;
Connected To: Palace Hill (Above), Wolf Quarter (A Tunnel in the Southwest Corner), The Blood Quarter (to the North), The Skull Catacombs (to the North)
Most Significant Icon: The Archdruid
Well Known For? Ancient Starship Graveyard
Notable Sites and Locales: The Bonewall, The Old Temple, The Clan Citadels

To enter Gruudl at all requires permission from the Archdruid; my request was met politely, and I found myself being escorted by a young priestess and her two awakened wolves.  The trio said little, but I sensed they found me boring.  

The first thing about the Ursyklon ruins is the smell.  It does not stink like other ruins in the city, no smell of mildew at all.  Instead Gruudl smells of fresh earth.  

It is a wondrous sight to behold, when you cross over the gate into the main chamber of Gruudl.  Stone starships stretch from clear waters into the ceiling above.  They look like no architecture on the surface, covered in ursyklon runes, with no sign of tool having carved them.  Solid rock and stone, shaped by druidic magic to their unique forms.  Here few folk live or walk, as the ursyklon protect their ancient stronghold as a sacred space.  But there are spots of desecration here and there.

The Priestess points out to me the ancient Tomasi graffiti on one ancient citadel.  Signs of a time when others controlled this place.  But it still has its own beauty.  The ancient wonders in Gruudl speak of a different time.  This is a preserve of noble history, with echoes of a savage war lost to time.

Gruudl was the first settlement of Ursyklon in Crux's history.  They would eventually leave it, however, forced to relocate by the Tomasi Empire and others later on.  But its history continued.

Ursyklon have long forgotten how to operate the wonders, technologies and living starships that are in Gruudl.  Many of these starships still live.  Passages within Gruudl change with the seasons and year to year.  Some citadels and buildings respond to kind words, while others have long since gone senile, trapping anyone foolish enough to enter them.

The Tomasi Legions took over Gruudl, but soon found the place too dangerous.  Most of the living starships longed for their Ursyklon masters, and attacked any legionnaires wandering around them.  After an entire legion went missing while trying to tame Gruudl, Empress Transiana the Third declared that Gruudl would be buried.  She erected the first palace atop the hill of dirt, stones and other debris piled over Gruudl.  The Tomasi sealed everything in Gruudl off, and assumed from then on that the ancient Ursyklon ruins would bother them never again.

The Tomasi Imperial family would continue to build more and more elaborate palaces atop the newly dubbed Palace Hill.  But in time, the old ghosts of Gruudl got their vengeance.  The imperial family, over the course of three generations, grew from competent to mad.  Legionnaires reported attacks from ghosts.  Over time Palace Hill became vacant, and with the fall of the Tomasi empire, considered cursed by Gruudl itself.

The Othebean Empire would later unseal Gruudl, giving it back to the control of the Archdruid and Ursyklons.  The Archdruid had aided the empire in their crusades against the Ithic city-states, and in return, they recovered a part of their ancient heritage.  Since then, Gruudl has always remained under the control of the Archdruid.  Others seek her permission before entering the ancient starship graveyard.

But the gate to Gruudl is not the only way in.  There are other ways to enter Gruudl, dark passages that connect to the rest of the undercity of Crux.  Some claim the deepest parts of Gruudl are host to a race of Mongrelfolk, the mutated offspring of Human and Ursyklon pairings.  Others say there are ancient starships deep in Gruudl who long ago betrayed their masters, becoming living servants of the Aboleth.  Unfortunately, few have fully explored Gruudl, and fewer have the inclination to try it.

Gruudl's Sites
The Bonewall: This narrow corridor runs the length of part of Gruudl.  Both of its walls are lined with bones and skulls, all from the dead enemies of the Ursyklon.  At fifty feet at its tallest, the Bonewall is a monument to the many victories of the Ursyklon's conquests.  But also it bears signs of other times as well, where graffiti from Tomasi Legionnaires can still be seen.  Many secrets have been hidden in the Bonewall too, stowed away by those wanting to hide them for a better day.
Aspect: Full of Bones

The Old Temple: An ancient temple of the Wolf Mother, in the center of Gruudl.  Once a year Ursyklon in Crux make a pilgrimage to it for the Festival of Howls.  The Old Temple is simple, a circle of adamantine statues of various Ursyklon clan totems.  This is one of the holiest places for the Church of Lupa The Wolf Mother.  A sacred site the Ursyklon protect at all costs.  It is also home to many ghosts, many of whom died defending the place from the Tomasi.
Aspect: Holiest of the Wolf Mother

The Mad Ship: No knows her name, but she never is seen in the same place twice.  A living starship like many in Gruudl.  She went insane, her mind fractured by the stress of some ancient conflict.  The ship wanders about the ruins.  Unlike most of the ships, she seems to never have gone to sleep like the others.  She also talks, albeit irrationally.  It likes to invite others into her, eager to have someone, anyone to listen to her.  More of a child, the ship refuses to let anyone go.  She never wants to be alone again.  At least, not until she breaks her guests again.
Aspects: "I Don't Want to be Alone."; Why Do All My Toys Break?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: The Karasu Tengu [Fate Core]

The Karasu Tengu

The Unclean Tengu are perhaps the most important part of their society.  To most tengu, the Karasu are less than people.  They deal with the dead.  They have long been shunned by other Tengu.  Karasu execute people, butcher dead animals and embalm the dead.  To the Tengu, they are unclean.  Karasu.

In Crux, the Karasu have become the easiest to adapt or assimilate into its culture.  Despite being shunned by other Tengu, they often convert to join the Church of the Twins.  Conversely, the most dangerous Ninja among the Tengu are Karasu.

Karasu are treated as non-persons among the Tengu.  Other castes never speak to them, nor do they touch them.  They have their own section in the Aerie-Towns, the Karasu Ghetto.  If they leave their Ghetto, often it attracts only trouble from other Tengu.

Complicating matters is that no gaijin knows about this.  Karasu Tengu are more likely to talk with gaijin.  Clerics of the Summer Rose often speak with them when providing alms for the poor, mistaking the mistreated Karasu for just being Tengu beggars, not shunned members of their society.

Potential Aspect: Unclean and Untouchable
Stunt: I Know The Dead: If given at least a minute to examine, touch and look over a dead body, you can determine its cause of death.  This doesn't tell you anything about WHO did it, just what killed the subject.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: Echoes of The Tomasi Empire

The Tomasi Legions relied on Summoners and conjuration Magic to march across the Maru Sea.  The
first Summoner had been an Empress of the Tomasi Empire.  Their radical techniques in summoning and controlling eidolons made their legions unstoppable.  "A thousand runes, a thousand shields, a thousand servants," or so the old saying goes.

The Tomasi Empire's best Summoner-Legionnaire bore the shields of the Empire.  With these shields, the Tomasi Legion's eidolons- summoned creatures for lack of a better word- acted with discipline and combined might.  The shield also kept the Eidolon under control, even when the Legionnaire had died or lost control for other reasons.  These shields were the foremost tool that made the Legions strong.

But the greatest generals of the Legions, the Maximi, wielded artifacts of considerable power.  The Legion-Gems magnified their Eidolon's powers.  Using a mix of Magus and Witch techniques, each Gem changed the Maximi and their Legion's Eidolons in unique ways.  Legions were named often based on their Maximi's Gem.  The Wind's Legion, the Legion of Wolves, the Shark-God's Legion, etc.

Nowadays, not much remains of the Legions of the Tomasi Empire.  The Legion-Gems for each of the thirty-seven Tomasi Legions have been lost- only the Gems for six remain, all in the control of the Ithic Military.  Summoners of any stripe could benefit greatly from the use of any of these gems, making them a target for treasure hunters of all kinds.

Another remnant of the Tomasi Legions, however, are the Vagabonds.  These are eidolons who have gone feral.  Wild-creatures, they became trapped on Orphos after the deaths of their Legionnaire.  Ancient Tomasi magicks have allowed them to remain.  Most carry the shields of their fallen masters.  Some grow weaker from the centuries, but some also grew stronger.  Freed, they found corners in Ith and the rest of the Maru Sea to live in.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: The Fomori

Once, long ago, there was a world green with life.  The Ursyklon came to that world and learned its ways.  They learned its songs, the verses and ways its life and animals and beasts acted.  They became one with it.

They took it from another race, killing each one to the last.  They were hulking creatures, whose plight had been the stubbornness to refuse to kneel to the tiny feral ursyklon.  Giants, covered in fur, their brows were horned, not unlike a goat's horns.  Theirs was a feral song as well, but they knew no classes, not even of Warriors or Adepts.

They called themselves the Fomori.

Their last kings and queens put up a desperate defense.  But ultimately their world was lost.  The Fomori took up one last act.  A rite through which they would deny the Ursyklon their world.  They would be free, and the their conquerors would pay.  The Fomori summoned others from the void, the shattered stars between the spheres.

"Give us strength.  Give us power.  Give us vengeance."  The Fomori begged.  They offered the only thing they had left.

The Aboleth came to help the Fomori.  They took the lush green world- they swallowed its sun.  Darkness and winter came to the world.  The Aboleth rained down oil and cascades of ichor foul to the animals and the forests.  Ursyklons died from the pollution, and the Fomori became creatures addicted to black ichor, the blood of their world.

The Fomori bent to the Aboleth, and the Urskylon lost that world.  But the Fomori lost their world too.  To beat the Ursyklon they had turned it into a thing nothing could want or have.

"We will give you new worlds, Fomori."  The Aboleth told them.  "We will give you stars, and chances to win back the worlds the Ursyklon deny you."

The Fomori didn't care.  They had been changed into something new.  Wormy creatures without a solid form.  They had mutated and changed.  They had gone mad.  They would shit, fuck and despoil anything, if only to feast once more on the defeat of the Ursyklon...

Race Aspect: Horned Formless and Wormy
Trouble Aspect: "This is MY LAND."

Fomori Stunts:
Shapeshifter: Fomori can enter the pores of another and wear them as a skin.  If they can kill someone this way, their wormy flesh can wear the victim as if it were their own.  The Fomori can change their Race Aspect to one of their victim's aspects, but it costs 1 fate point each time to switch to a new aspect.

Ravenous Strength: Fomori gain a +2 on Forceful attacks to bite a victim, especially if they get a taste of their victim in the process.

Stubborn Madness: Fomori minds are strong against mental intrusion and attack, their stubbornness shields them.  The Fomori gains a +2 bonus on Will rolls to defend against mental intrusions or attacks.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Flash Fic: They Call Me the Last Dragon

Part of an interview, via the Akashic, a online blog dedicated to the supernatural and informing the public of the dangers and threats of the supernatural as well.  However, not everyone regards them as anything more than fiction...

They call me the last dragon.  A poetic notion, an appellation about my age.  Many seek me out.  Sometimes it is with riddles.  Others ask me for forgotten stories.  And a few look at me, just to be able to make the claim.

The Last Dragon.  Sounds... well, noble.

I hate that name.  Some idiot fool thought it was clever; I'd rather have the slayers get me.

Oh.  Er- I am glad you were able to meet with me for this interview.

Of course.  I've never done one of these before.  Almost no one even asks.  Your kind always seem to never notice me these days.

I've heard a lot about that.  The Veil the Magi sometimes call it.  As far as we can tell... 1602? 1603?  Ever since then, stories were divided into either fiction or nonfiction.  The public forget or ignore anything they regard as fictitious.

I'm fictitious now.  Ah.  How we begin...?  Do you ask me questions or what?  I'm rather used to- well, Jon Stewart.


They call me the Last Dragon, not a luddite.

True.  I'd rather have this be a conversation, like Jon Stewart or other shows like that, yes.  I'll translate it into more legible prose, and that will be what will be posted on the blog for the readers.

Ah.  Well, back to what you said earlier- there is no known date for the beginning of the Veil.  It always has been.

Wait.  It has always been?

The form of it has been fluid, though.  Sometimes... well, humans act differently under it.  Curiously, though... you and others believe it responsible for making your kind less observant of some things?

Yes.  There seems to be a lack of... well, I guess acknowledgement of it really.  Most people would think me talking to a dragon was fiction, for example.  There is a lot of honest attempts to inform people of the dangers that gets misinterpreted as fantasy or science fiction.  Its frustrating at times.

It is hard for some to see the lie and the truth, to see them clearly.  Each story is true, but so the Veil carries a bit of the Lie with it.  It stains the truth.  They forget the importance of the Truth, and see stories as just stories.  There is little one can do, I imagine, facing that ignorance day in and day out.

It is kind of frustrating... you say Truth, like "the Truth."  What do you mean by that?

Ah.  All stories, all dreams have a seed in them, a Truth.  When you hear them, you can get distracted by the Veil that covers that Truth.  But the Truth is still there.  No matter how distorted the tale, the Truth is there.  And so is the Lie.  True wisdom comes from seeing the Truth in all things.  Everyone, everything is just part of a story.  Death, birth, life- all of these are just Truths wrapped in Lies.

Your kind forgets this sometimes I think.  Humans do forget things, but you do try to do better.  Its your best redemptive trait- you seek to better yourselves.  My kind always fails to see past our worst sins, but humans... given a generation or two, you see those sins in your past and strive to not repeat them.  You falter, but you always try to learn from the stories you tell.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Flash Fiction: The Ankle Twist

My fucking ankle was swollen.  Screw this shit.

"Jane! C'mon- Don't be like that!"  Zak called.  He tried to run up to me.

I tried to stop my mouth from opening.  I turned back, my jade and blue hair getting in my eyes.  I hated my hair's natural color.  Black.  So boring.  Blargh.

"Fucking hair." I winced in pain as I glared back at Zak.  "No Zak.  I'm done.  My ankle is twisted- I'm going home."

"Jane, c'mon- I didn't know-"

I closed my eyes.  "Zak.  I will gut your ass, you know that?"

That made him pause.  Nearly six foot six, I towered over the little guy, whose red-hair clashed with his brown skin.  I didn't even know how he managed to have his own skin clash, but Zak did.  I really wanted to slash him up a bit more too.

"I didn't mean to embarrass you, Jane."  Zak held up his hands in apology.  "I didn't know-"

I took off my left shoe and swung it at him.  Then I fell on my ankle.  Pain burned up my body.  "Fuck-it-all, Zak!"

"Watch out-"  Zak looked down at me, his face concerned.  "I didn't know, Jane, really.  I didn't know she'd done that to you.  Thought I was doing you a favor."

I sat up, my hair in tatters.  Ugh.  I tried not to scream.  "I'm going home, Zak."

"On a twisted ankle?  Geez, Jane, even you aren't that tough."  Zak offered me a helping hand.  "Can't I at least get somebody back there to get you a ride?"

I sighed.  I looked down at the parking lot at the bottom of the hill.  A dozen or so cars were parked in the gravel lot.  A new one pulled in to join the others.  As I tried to think about my answer, I recognized it.

"That's my dad's rig right there."

"So no then?"  Zak's shoulders slumped.  "I-"

"Get back there Zak."  I took his hand and got on my feet.  My ankle still hurt like fucking hell.  "Its your show.  Don't let one preening singer take you away from it."

"I didn't know, Jane."

I shook my head.  "One of these days I'm going to deck her.  One of these days!"

I stumbled down to my dad's car.  He got out, his work shirt looked mussed.  I didn't understand what was going on.  There was a woman with him, in the car.  The two of them were talking.

"Dad?"  I leaned onto the car as I reached it.  "Fuck, my ankle.  Dad?  What're you-"

"Jane-" My dad's eyes widened once he processed my ankle.  "Your ankle!  Jane what happened?"

"Its swelling."  The strange woman said, getting out of the car.  She wore a lab coat, her hair in a tight ponytail.  She looked like she was in her forties.  She surprised me with how tall she was, and I guessed her to be some sort of nurse or something based on her clothes.  "We need to get some ice on this."

"Sit down Jane.  What happened to you?"  My father buzzed around me.  The strange woman kept him from overreacting, and I thought I recognized her voice a bit too.  Weird, I felt like I knew her.

"Just some shit went down-" I looked up at the strange woman.  "I'll be fine, Dad.  Who is this?  I'm glad to see you, but I thought you couldn't make it to the show and... uh..."

My voice trailed off as I stared at the strange woman.  I kinda grew excited.  I knew I'd been adopted awhile ago.  It just started to sink who this might be.  I looked up at Dad.  "Is this...?"

"It's more complicated than that."  Dad told me.  He took out a flask that smelled like whiskey.

"Yet it isn't."  The woman disagreed.  "It is kind of simple in another way.  You agreed to let me tell her."

Dad shook his head.  "It- I don't know.  But... she should know.  I just can't think of the right way to say it."

She turned to me.  "You noticed how similar I looked to you, Jane?  I'm Doctor Helena Kynes.  We share similiar genetics.  In fact, we are related."

I brightened.  The pain in my ankle seemed to vanish.  "Wait.  Are you my bio?  Are you-"

"I am the source of your genes in one way, yes." Dr. Kynes grasped my hands with hers.  "But I'm not your mother.  You were, you are, a miracle of science, Jane.  You are the first human clone.  And I'm your original."


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

City of Curses: Icons: The Archdruid

After being sick last week, the blog suffered a bit.  The plan is for me to get back on schedule with things (back to five or six things a week if I can).  I have the two session reports for Crux to post as well.  So far, so good.  This one has been on the back burner for about half a month now.  The Archdruid's Icon article.  Enjoy!

The Archdruid
Aspect(s): Do You Hear the Howls?
Quote: "The Abolethic threat never disappeared.  Their minions still are to be found 
in the dark places: the fomori, the mutants and even the lying doppelgängers.  They 
are imprisoned, but they still strive to destroy all we hold dear."

The Archdruid only became part of the Crux political landscape in the last hundred years.   Prior to that, her position roved through the wild places of Ainesia, Ith and Othebea.  The Archdruid stands as the closest thing to a uniting political and religious figure for all Ursyklon.

Common Knowledge
The Archdruid is known to all as the figurehead of the Ursyklon people.  If not the leader of them, most think of her their leader.  She is also known to control access to the ruins of Gruudl.

Most members of the Church of the Wolf Mother are believed to answer to her as well.  If there any secrets or powers only the Ursyklon know, then certainly the Archdruid knows of them or how to get to them.

The Archdruid also knows secrets about lycanthropy and dark transmutations.  Since all lycanthropes are believed to have been cursed by the Wolf Mother, it makes sense that the Archdruid would now ways to cure or spread such curses.  There are also countless stories about those who crossed the Ursyklon or the Archdruid, only to be forcibly changed into a beast.

The Archdruid has a series of assets known to her: first of all, are the vast number of relics and wealth she can call upon at anytime.  Second, she commands the Dathrog, or Greenknives as her personal guard, as well as many more classes and orders dedicated to the Church of the Wolf Mother.  Lastly, she alone knows ancient Ursyklon Druidic spells, some of which can recreate lycanthropy or cure it.

The position of Archdruid evolved over time.  The Ursyklon conquest had one Archdruid for each clan, perhaps one of the core reasons why their different clans had trouble working together.  Whatever the case, conflicting Archdruids would compete over supremacy, each clan clashing.

By the time of the Othebean Crusade, the Archdruid had become a singular person, often a Ursyklon, but not always.  The cruelties of the Tomasi Empire against the Ursyklon had served only to motivate the Archdruid to act in secret.  When Othebea began its crusade across Ith, the Archdruid helped establish a force to help their efforts, the Green Knights.  Recognition from the Othebean crown would cement and protect the Archdruid- Ursyklon clans saw the Archdruid as their own, granting more gravitas and political power as well.

Throughout the Maru Sea, the Archdruid gained a positive reputation.  Around a century or so ago the Archdruid moved into Crux proper, at the invitation of the Prince himself.  Since then, the Archdruid has lived in the Wolf Quarter.  The position of the Archdruid is elected by Ursyklon during what they call a Druidsmoot, a rare enough event that ends with a new Archdruid.

The Archdruid in the current age has control over the ruins of Gruudl, as well as dozens of other obscure Ursyklon ruins throughout the Maru Sea.  The wealth in various relics and artifacts is mellowed by the fact that almost no one knows how to find or unlock the powers of such items.  The Archdruid, of course, is always looking for those able to help in recovering them.

The Archdruid has maintained a cordial, if not outright peaceful relationship with the Archwitch.  Although not a strong alliance, the two see parallels in how both of them support minority neighborhoods in Crux.  Both also share knowledge on various curses, sometimes providing services to one or the other in regards to specific cases.  They see themselves as peers and sometimes allies in times of danger.

The Archdruid remembers the debt the Ursyklon owe the Prince.  Despite this, the Prince has not exploited or abused the Archdruid or Ursyklon people through that debt.  If anything, the Prince has continued to leave them outside of his conflicts with the Archwitch and the Demon's Orphans.  However, the Archdruid still remains uncertain on the Prince, even if he shares her problems with the Chancellor, his mysterious modus operandi leaves her uncertain of what is goals are: does he really support the status quo, or does the Prince have other motives?

Wealth and privilege is something most of the Ursyklon clans have acquired after their thousands of years on Orphos.  The Banker helps manage that wealth.  Both the Banker and the Archdruid share an interest in protecting and growing that wealth.  Many Ursyklons also use the same banks the Banker maintains in Crux, leaving their financial relationship a natural one.  However, there remains constant conspiracy theories leveled at the Banker for their Ursyklon ties- that Tengrilism and other ursyklon movements might take over the government to advance their own interests.

The Archdruid's long existence as a position of prominence in the Maru Sea has attracted its fareshare of enemies as well.  The Archdruid claims that her most dangerous enemy are the Aboleth.  Without proof of their constant, invisible hand, the Archdruid is sometimes seen as only promoting a religious technophobic agenda.  It is true that the Archdruid dislikes technology.  Any technology borne of eldritch means is her target.  Both the Tinkerer and the Chancellor are targeted by her efforts.  The Archdruid sees the seeds of the Aboleth in them.  Whenever the Chancellor announces a new tech or the Tinkerer's androids are found at a riot, the Archdruid is quick to condemn them.

A more serious conflict for the Archdruid is to be found with the Publisher.  The Publisher doesn't prevent the spread of Tengrilism or any conspiracy theories about it.  The Publisher prints lies about Ursyklons.  To make matters worse, each attempt by the Archdruid to counter these lies is only met with the Publisher finding newer and more complicated libel to concoct against ursyklons.  Unable to stop this public relations warfare, the Archdruid has cut ties with any journalists altogether, refusing to answer questions or give any interviews of any kind.

Plot Hooks
Old Clan Relic: As a reward for some past act, the Archdruid gives an Ursyklon character key information to recovering an missing artifact important to their clan.  However, the artifact isn't what it seems.  To make things worse, monstrous other things observed the Archdruid pass the information along- and now they are hunting the characters, eager to get the missing relic for themselves.

Gear-Trees: Android drones from nearby factories start to go missing.  While working on something else, the character stumble upon a tree that ticks.  They find a Dathrog behind it.  Are they a lone assassin, or has the Archdruid targeted this factory specifically?  When they look into the factory, the characters only find that it spews filth into one of Crux's rivers, pollutions that adversely affect ursyklons.  Do the characters help this dark war, or do they find some other way to end the conflict?

The Crisis: A group of children suddenly acquire lycanthropy, turning into bats in the light of the moon.  The Archdruid refuses to interfere, and the Publisher uses this to stir up anti-Ursyklon riots.  Then, in a very public venue, the Archdruid's flesh falls away, revealing some aberrant shapeshifter wearing her skin.  Now without even the Archdruid, the ursyklon rush to conduct a Druidsmoot for a new one.  Meanwhile, the werebat plague grows, with more and more children taking to the skies.  Can the characters find a solution, or must the children of Crux burn to clean out the infestation?

SIDEBAR: The Lost Archdruids
Because Archdruids can only mass the majority of what they know orally, some secrets have become lost over the ages.  Archdruids that cannot pass along their secrets to successors, who die under murderous or other circumstances cause some things to be lost.  A few Archdruids succeeded in finding ways to pass on some secrets- awakened trees, rare druidic spells and other methods.  But some critical secrets have been forgotten, like the secrets of how the ursyklon once travelled stars, or how to create living starships like those found dead or nearly dead in Gruudl.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: The Ways of the Wind's Children

Keeping to themselves in Crux, the Tengu often perform work that is too cheap for effective android
workers.  They also provide more clandestine services, their ninja often working in the shadows for the interests of other Icons.  Overall, their presence is regarded with some discrimination and disdain, especially since most Tengu tend to never speak in Tomish or any other western tongue.

Here are few things only the Tengu know and keep to themselves.

Family: Although Tengu marry monogamously like humans or ursyklon do, they very rarely accept any specific children as their own.  When a Tengu claims to have a daughter or a son, either they've gone Crow and assimilated more with the gaijin, or they are referring to their clan's children.

Tengu couples lay from one to three eggs once or twice in their lifetimes.  These eggs are gathered in a single collective nest, where members of the Clan devoted to caring for the eggs take care of them.  All children belong to the Clan, and exact parentage isn't seen as necessary.

Drinking The Dream-Water: The rite of passage all Tengu children endure is the drinking the dream-water.  A concoction of various poisons, it triggers the memories of their past lives, causing them to come to the fore.  Dream-water is believed to be lethal any non-tengu- its use as a poison among Tengu Ninja points to that.

Drinking the substance is a painful process, as it awakens the past lives of countless generations.  These past lives lend guidance and wisdom to those who bare them, memories of things long ago and past.  Tengu take on the first name of their most memorable past lives, often because they identify most with them.

This rite also reveals much of the secret lore of the Tengu.  Knowing as many past lives as they do, conveys a sense of the Path.  The Path is a central concept in Tengu life- the Path is the way the World goes, as directed by the most dominant of the five winds.

The Path: One of the most important concepts among the Tengu is that of the Path.  Tengu believe each age of the world is dominated by one of the five winds- their gods, the Kaze.  The Path is how the Tengu use their past lives, prophecy and their actions to direct which age the world is heading toward.  Opinions on how to approach the Path divided their nation into three separate ones ages ago.

Those who believe the Path cannot be walked, are ascetics.  They internalize the Path, but abstain from using past lives, prophecy or any other part of the path to manipulate the world.  They believe the Path can only be watched, and directing it is like flying into a storm.

Then there are those of the Jade.  The current age was created, according to these Tengu, by the Jade Emperor's direct efforts.  Any means, even violent ones, to maintain the current age are tied to that empire's own interests.  They believe the Path can only be changed through the efforts of Tengu, and slay anyone who might be aiding the ascendancy of the Fifth Wind.

The last group of those Tengu believe the Path is still largely unknowable to them.  Despite their efforts through prophecy, past lives and other works, the Tengu still have trouble understanding the Path the winds use to dominate the current age.  They ask questions, and seek enlightenment often by exploring gaijin cultures for clues.  In Crux, the Prophet of Winds belongs to this group- her efforts are to learn from the gaijin and, in turn, begin to alter the Path toward a more benign age.  She fears the steady fall toward the fifth wind, that the Jade Emperor's mistake of ignoring gaijin might open the door for the Demon Wind to begin its own age.