Monday, April 24, 2017

GMs and Players, Watch this

My good friend Jim posted this on facebook and I totally agree with him.  Every GM and Player MUST watch this.  These five plot points are present in every fantastic story, and if people want to further their education and make their games more awesome, it will help to know these five plot points and learn to embrace such moments to make their games feel more satisfying and have narrative sense.

Too often, people get so carried way with their own fun that they neglect that in a role-playing game, everyone should share the responsibility of keeping things coherent and fun for all those in playing at the table.  So here's hoping people take the time to watch this and take a moment to absorb and realize how much more awesome their sessions can be.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

7th Sea meets Hamilton's King George

My gaming group has been having an awesome duo-campaign of 7th Sea for the last few months, and one of the recent events was the rekindling of a war between Avalon and Montaigne.  In relation to this, we really got into Hamilton as of the late and we all found ourselves loving the King George songs to the point of singing them often out of nowhere.

Then I realized since I usually use actors/images to represent my non-playing characters in the game, I decided to make the King of Montaigne match that likeness just for the fun of it.  I know, accuracy aside, I loved the idea that the players now had a visual to connect to him.

Today, I opted to go an extra step.  My partner Rocky's player character, a Porte Sorcier named Maurice le Blanc, prides himself in being the "only" L'ami Du Roi in the world (which clearly isn't so) but we love how he plays that illusion of himself to the hilt.  With the recent war unfolding, Maurice was with another friend's player character, Lady Cassandra, at Avalon attempting to help her best this Sidhe trickster that has challenged her to be wed before the day ends.  But with our next session happening with Rocky sadly out of the country for a business trip, I had to make adjustments for him to make an exit.  Thankfully, Porte makes it so easy.  And so while chatting on how we're to handle that shift, inspiration struck and suddenly I wrote this in one sitting.  Be sure to let me know if you sung along.

So Maurice le Blanc is currently with Lady Cassandra at Avalon but then...

A message from the king!
A message from the king!

You say.. the price of this war is a price Avalon's unwilling to pay.

Insane.. we ended our war and attacked instead Castille (that not-Spain).
I'm so mad. I thought we had an arrangement but you went away.

And you're making me mad. And so despite our engagement... I'm still glad...

You will burn. You will see.

Montaigne will always be who you'll envy.
You will burn. Time will tell.
You will see how Porte serves us well.

Oceans rise, empires fall.. and Montaigne has been your friend through it all..
But then push, has come to shove...
So I'm sending a full armed armada through Porte to show my love...

Da da dada't da.... da't da da da daaa dada...
Da da da't da.. da da...

Da da dada't da.... da't da da da daaa dada...
Da da da't da.. da da...

You say our love is straining, and you can't go on...
Your Queen shall start complaining once I am gone...
And no, don't change the subject. Cause you're my royal subject...
My sweet submissive subject.. My loyal royal subject...
For ever... and ever.. and ever and ever and ever....

You'll be back. Time will show.
You should have bowed to us from long ago.

You'll be back, and I'll laugh.
I'll shatter your Grail and snap your staff.
Oceans rise. Empires fall. And you'll see no matter what Glamour you call..

Now that push has come to shove, I shall Porte my armies into your land.. Theus yes this will be fun...

Da da dada't da.... da't da da da daaa dada...
Da da da't da.. da da...

You will all burn.

*messenger exits*

So yeah, Maurice realizes he has to go back and convince the King/l'empereur to stop his plans.
But yeah, that was a fun quick song hahaha!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

More Kids : Schauermarchen - Act One


More Kids

I ran this game for our board game group, The Finer Gamer Things Club, and I was very happy because this game had a lot of first time players in it.  The game had Rocky, Jovan, Mitch, Myna, Christian and Karen in the game. What I didn't tell Rocky was, I was connecting this to the first time we played this game.

The story opened with the town of rust with low hanging clouds of black smog. Occasionally, one can hear the sounds of waves.  The days are cold and damp. The place feels dead.  Still. Abandoned. There's a Victorian touch to the look of things.  Cobblestones dot the ground. Lamp posts flicker on as night falls.  All the wood looks charred black.  At the distance the sounds of garbled voices and a strained piano can be heard. No one seems to be about.

At least not until night fell.  

With the coming of darkness, light begins to fill the village. A building marked as an orphanage is where Piper (played by Myna) wakes up.  In her short shirt and long pants, she finds herself in a cold metal frame of a bed.  She sits up startled as she realizes this is not her room. A break at the window allows moonlight to shine in.  Other metal cots are nearby, and other children are sleeping in them. She looks around and sees the junk scattered all around the floor.

A voice screams at the distance.  As Piper tries to get off the bed, the metal frame scratches against the floor with a terrible shriek.  That sound wakes another kid in the room.  Kim (played by Karen), in her long sleeved and ruffled white night gown, wakes from the terrible sound after hearing it.  She realizes she is no longer in the United States in fear. She bangs her head accidentally against the metal of the bed, bruising her cheek.  Piper walks up to Kim, asking if she's okay, but that ends up making Kim scream in shock.

M (played by Mitch) wakes up to the sound of the scream in her jogging pants, t-shirt and hoodie. She realizes she's suddenly gone from the sofa of the friend she was staying over at Boston. She hurries off the bed and tries to find the source of the scream, consumed with the fear of wondering where she had gone.  As she gets to the window, she hears more screaming. She peeks out.

Piper calms Kim down, and helps her up to her feet. The two look around and hear the muffled screams outside.  They turn to the turn person in the room and see M, peering out the window. Piper holds Kim's hand and walks towards M. Kim, however, pulls back as she does not want to move. There is a door at the far side of the room and three more empty beds.  M sees four or five other kids running down the street. Some of them in shorts, but some in very old school nightgowns and bonnets.  They all run, terrified and screaming, away from a man in a black suit. The man looks ancient, with white skin that looks luminous in the dark. He grins the whole time as he walks down the road, calmly moving after the children while he holds a cane in one hand, and something being dragged behind him with the other.  M turns and sees the other kids.  Piper approaches the door, but Kim still refuses to move. M whispers to them there's a man outside. Piper tells them to calmly follow her.  They get to the closed door and hear running sounds and muffled voices. Piper opens the door.

Elsewhere, another pair of eyes open. The kid, Joey (played by Jovan), in hershirt, sneakers, hoodie and shorts, panics for a moment thinking her friends carried her while she was asleep in the car and placed her somewhere to freak her out.  But as she looks around, she realizes he's somewhere else.  On her left, Billy (played by Rocky) sits in a state of utter shock.  "I'm here again."  He knows he's been here before. He's fought his way out. He's gotten all the way to the cottage before.  But somehow he's here again.  When Joey asks where they are, Billy shushes her to keep quiet.  They hear voices outside their door yelling that people should run and get away. A scream erupts nearby.  Billy cups Joey's mouth closed and tells her that they cannot help them.  "No body will help you," he hisses. Foot falls run past their room. Doors slam shut. Billy looks around and sees one more person in the room.   A young girl is hugging her knees.  Her clothes look quite old and embroidered. Billy nudges her and she looks up, responding in an unexpected way, "Who art thou? What art thou wearing? Doth my father be near?" She claims to be an only child and her manner of speak suggests she is from a strange and different time.  Billy peers out the window and sees the Grinning Man dragging a boy behind him.  The Grinning Man was just in their building!

Billy groans that it is exactly the same village he remembers, with the Baker's building, the Butcher's building, the Candlemaker, the Glassmaker, the shoemaker... and further stands the Cemetery, the Woods, and the Hill where the Manor stands.  Billy can't quite remember what happened at the Manor.  He does remember the color Blue somehow though.

The girl wonders which part of her father's estate the place is and even asks Joey if she is one of the new servants.  The girl worriedly asks if this is no longer Brighton. Billy reminds them no one is coming to help them but themselves.  A door opens in the distance.  Joey introduces herself to the girl, Elise, and to Billy and asks what Billy knows.  Joey wonders if they can fight the Grinning Man, but Billy admits there's no fighting him.  Elise asks them why they speak so strangely.

In another room, before everything else, Josh (played by Christian) was just at home. In his white shirt and black shorts, he fell asleep watching television and now has woken up in this dark terrible place. In front of him, an old man stands in a black suit with a wide, horrible grin on his face.  Before he could scream, a hand clamps over his mouth from behind him, reaching from underneath the frame of the metal bed. The Grinning Man doesn't seem to see him and starts walking away.  He steps out of the door and leaves.  Josh tries to turn and glance but his weight shifts against the metal bars causing it to squeak.  The door silently slides open again as the Grinning Man peers and looks around.  The other kid under the bed bolts out and flings something in his hand at the Grinning Man, hoping to distract him!  But even as the things scatter to the floor after hitting the Grinning Man's face, barely distracting him.  A glint of metal sparkles in the darkness and suddenly the other boy goes totally still as the Grinning Man hooks the other boy through the head with a terrible curved meat hook.  Josh stays completely silent, screaming inwardly as he sees the Grinning Man drag the other boy away by his head.   Josh looks around, and now alone, he drops to the ground and tries to stop trembling.  Josh hears another scream.  He waits a few more minutes and slowly tip-toes towards the door.

Kim, Piper, and M slide open the door to see the door across from theirs slightly opening.  They close theirs quietly.  Not seeing Josh opening his own door.  He looks down the corridor and hears more people somewhere moving in the dark.  Kim explains to the others there's another door that opened.  Josh hears their whispers and starts whispering out, "Hello."  The girls aren't decided if they should answer.  The wood groans as Josh steps out onto the corridor. Kim tells the girls not to open the door.  Piper and M however feel they should open it and motion for the boy to join them into the room.  Wood groans once more.  Josh asks where they are and they all admit they don't know where they are.  M tells them of the terrible man outside. Josh explains the man was in his room and that he couldn't see him but he could hear him.  He admits the Grinning Man killed the other kid in his room. The girls wonder if the Grinning Man is blind.  Piper begins to worry that they're going to die. Kim peers out and sees the Grinning Man still walking calmly towards the hill at the end of the road.  "Does this mean we can go out?"  They don't know where to go but Josh thinks they have to go anywhere but here.  Piper and Kim agree that the forest might be a better place to hide. Josh looks for anything that can be used as a weapon or a tool or a light source and finds only a metal bed pan.  M reaches to grab the metal bars of the bed to try and wiggle a bar free, but the others panic and tell her to stop as she's making noise!  Kim sees the Grinning Man stop at the end of the road.  She ends up yelling in exasperation for them to stop making noise!  Josh hurries to the window and peeks out too and sees the Grinning Man heading back.

Billy and the others hear the others yelling.  He looks at Joey and Elise and tells them they have to run out now.  Joey is arguing about finding something to eat first, or supplies, but Billy just runs without waiting.  Elise runs after him, choosing to trust him.  Joey stays in the room, unwilling to move.  But she changes her mind at the last second and runs!

Kim, Piper, M and Josh hear just outside at the corridor more heavy noises of footfalls. Josh starts grabbing them, telling them they all have to go! They push the door open and start to move as quickly as they possibly can.  Piper grabs the bed pan and runs out into the corridor.  Billy and Elise run full tilt down the corridor.  Joey chases after them and as she's about to ask why they're not being quiet, she slams into someone who just ran out of a doorway.  Joey clips off against the door and slams onto the wall.  "Damn it! Why are you so clumsy! Who are you!" Joey screams at Josh, who is trying to whisper apologies.  Josh picks Joey up and tells her they just have to go. Joey looks up the corridor intent to ask Billy for help only to find he's already gone. As is Elise. The other girls show up and help pick Joey up.  Josh, tense, babbles about needing to go and hide and run and Joey shuts him up by telling him, "You talk too much."  Joey quickly introduces herself and asks what they have. Piper admits she has a bedpan, that's it. M admits she can run fast. Josh reminds them the old man is coming. Joey tells them if they stay quiet and leave everyone else to make the noise, they should be able to get out of the building.  A scream tells them the Grinning Man has arrived down below. Kim whispers to them the buildings they saw outside.  Piper thinks they should head for the forest. M and Joey feel they should head for the shops, to find what they can rummage.

Down the stairs, the door slides open as the Grinning Man noiselessly walks into the room.  Billy freezes and presses against the wall, unmoving. Some floor above him, the wood groans from shifting weight.  The sound of hushed whispers carries down the walls.  The Grinning Man begins moving up the steps without making a sound.  Billy holds his breath and tries to not make any noise whatsoever. The Grinning Man begins to walk straight towards Billy but does not notice him at all. The Grinning Man walks past the boy and continues up the stairs.  Once the Grinning Man is out of view, Billy begins to move but one of the wooden steps creaks!   Rather than let the fear take over, Billy leaps forward and runs!

Back upstairs, Joey tells them to all be as quiet as much as possible, maybe staying near the walls to stay quiet. "One by one, as the wood doesn't look sturdy." As they approach the staircase and begin quietly moving down one by one... as Joey reaches the next landing, she sees the Grinning Man heading up the steps.  Joey signals M to be careful. M then tries to signal Josh.  All the kids stop and go quiet.  Pressed against the wall, Joey thankfully makes not a single sound and is not noticed.  The Grinning Man stops for a moment though, and turns to look at Joey.  M sees the Grinning Man staring straight at Joey and feels the fear grow. M holds her breathe too and tries not to move.  The Grinning Man walks away from Joey and begins to approach M.  Josh sees the Grinning Man heading straight for M.  M realizes he can see her!  As the Grinning Man reaches for her, M drops to a squat to avoid the hand but the Grinning Man grabs her and she faints in his arms!  Kim sees this and she tries to grab M's arm to pull her away.  Joey screams as loud as she can to try to distract the Grinning Man.  Piper hurls the bed pan far away to try to also distract the Grinning Man!

The Grinning Man sniffs M, but then turns to look at Joey, then the place where the pan fell. The Grinning Man seems confused, drops M, then digs into his pocket for something!  Kim pulls M back away from the Grinning Man and begins backing down M, ignoring the fact she's leaving bruises on M.  Joey breaks to a run with the two others.  Josh watches the Grinning Man, unwilling to move and be noticed. Josh whispers to Piper that they must find a different route.  That they must go the other way.  The Grinning Man pulls his hand out of his pocket and flips a coin.  He then looks at it, then looks upstairs towards Piper and Josh.  The two decide to hurry upstairs before the Grinning Man sees them. Joey, M and Kim hurry down stairs, ignoring how loud they are as they try to get as far away as fast as possible.

The group runs onto the street, and Joey calls out to Billy. But Billy ignores her as he runs towards one of the shops.  Joey starts chasing after him, believing he seems to know what he is doing. Billy reaches the door, shoves it open and watches the small black spiders darting away as he forces it open. He sees the scattered junk on the floor and realizes they do not look familiar to his last visit here.  He searches for a metal candlestick or anything that may prove to be useful and lucks out on a broken candlestick.  There are large metal vats chained to the floor which may have been used to create candles.  He thinks it would be safe to stay here. Joey and Kim continue to drag the unconscious M and hurry past another house with the signage of a large loaf of bread.  Joey sees the other building, which has the sign of a Pig and a Cleaver. "A butcher shop!" Joey realizes, "Wait for me. I just need to get something from the butcher's shop." Kim stares at Joey as she rushes off, and Kim shakes her head. Kim decides to continue to the Candlestick Maker's shop with M.

At the butcher's shop, Joey steps inside and sees the refuse, broken tiles, and the junk scattered all around the floor. She finds another young boy searching the room with his wooden stick.  The stick has a jagged piece of metal tied to it like a spear. When Joey asks who he is, the boy responds coldly, telling her that it doesn't matter to make friends now when the best thing to do is to throw the other kid out to survive. "This is my place. Go away," he growls. Joey tries to duck under the spear and rush forward. But the boy keeps the spear between them, stabbing into her shoulder and forcing her to step back. Joey asks to just get something, but the boy insists everything inside is his.  The boy starts mumbling to himself that he's been here for four nights.  Joey explains she just wants to help her unconscious friend. The boy suggests Joey give the unconscious friend to "him".  "That would buy you a night." Joey shakes her head in disgust and warns in the future, she won't help the boy if the boy ever needs help.  The boy spits back, "See if you last four nights."  When Joey looks back, however, there is no sign of Kim!

Raising the broken candlestick, Billy looks at Kim who drags M with her. Kim admits she has no idea who the unconscious girl is and hurries inside to look around as well. Kim brushes spider webs away and reveals a large accordion-like machine with handles.  Kim asks if Billy knows what it is, and Billy admits he doesn't as he's never made candles before. Kim tries to break it free from the ground and it depresses to release a blast of air that tosses the dust and spiders onto the air!  Billy peers out the window and sees Joey staring back at him.

Back inside the house, Josh and Piper try to move silently around the corridors.  They see the Grinning Man emerging behind them, following their trail.  Josh and Piper hurry down the stairs, no longer trying to be quiet as they decide speed is more important. As they reach the second level, however, they see a kid peering from the door asking for their help. The kid claims he cannot move. Piper and Josh stare at each other, not sure if they should go and help. Josh tells the kid to follow them and starts to continue down.  Josh looks up and cannot see the Grinning Man right now, but he cannot hear him following either.  "We have to go..." Josh tells Piper, "So sorry.."  The two hurry down to the ground level, hearing the kid above still calling for help, but then the kid's words are abruptly cut short and then... silence.   Josh feels the great weight of guilt for leaving the kid behind. The two look around and they opt to head down the road. Neither feel safe about the forest.  They hurry towards the first building and it shows a large bread icon on the signage.   They hurry to it and see there's already someone inside.  The person is shoving large bags with flour against the door to bar it shut from the inside. Piper tells Josh it might be best not to force themselves inside. Josh looks back and there's no sign of anyone so far. Piper looks at the next building and they see it has a Pig with a Cleaver as the sign.  They both hurry to it to peer through the window and they see a boy with a makeshift spear in his hands.  He seems to have found something and acts triumphant. The boy raises his hand up to see it in the light and it is a metal hammer. Josh tries to say hello, but the kid instead responds to Josh's words by flinging the spear at his direction!  The spear misses Josh and he tries to calm the boy down, telling him the Grinning Man is still at the building.  The boy admits he thought it was the girl again and tells Josh there's nothing else here that looks useful. He thinks other were here before. "Where are we?" Josh asks. The boy admits he has been here for four nights and has no idea where they are.  But that every night more kids appear. Piper tells Josh they should go, but Josh seems insistent to talk to the boy. Piper focuses on the conversation, totally oblivious to the fact that down the road, the Grinning Man has now emerged and begins to noiselessly approach them.

Back at the Candlestick Maker shop, Kim wipes away the spiders. Joey arrives, angry that the others didn't wait for her. Joey asks if there's anything useful in this place and begins looking around. Kim looks around as well to see if there's anything of importance in this place. Joey finds something useful! A box of matches with two match sticks inside.  She looks around more and finds a nub of a candle, around two inches high, and a bit of wick.  Billy admits he found a bit of a candlestick. Kim couldn't find anything useful. Joey feels a bit hungry, but Billy admits hunger is the least of their concerns. Joey asks them what the plan is, with Kim wondering if it would be safe to hide here. Billy admits he thought he was out of here, but now he's back here despite whatever he did last time. Unfortunately, he does not recall what he did the last time.  Billy wonders if they're supposed to go up the hill to the house there.  Joey finds a sack to place the stuff inside and M finally begins to wake up, screaming the moment she wakes up.  Kim slaps her to shut her up. "Let me go! Don't cut it! Don't take it!" were the words she uttered from her nightmare, which was her strapped to some kind of bed and the Grinning Man above her, pulling a curtain to reveal tools with strange odd marking on them. One of the tools he takes is like an egg-beater, with spinning and dancing blades.  He slowly turns it as he brings it towards her stomach.  M asks what happened and they quickly recap the events. M asks where the other kids are and Joey admits they got separated.  M asks if the Grinning Man is following them and Kim decides to check by peering out the window.   Billy feels it seems obvious to go to the house, but it seems like everyone tries to go to the house. Kim peeks out and sees the Grinning Man closing in on the two kids currently standing outside of the Butcher's shop. Kim ducks back down and tells them the Grinning Man is there!  They all duck down to hide. Joey peeks out and sees the Grinning Man closing in on the two who are distracted by someone in the other shop. Joey runs out of the shop, screaming, and run back into the shop - hoping the scream distracts the Grinning Man just enough for the others to hide. But as she runs out, she cannot find the breath to scream. She stares at the Grinning Man and despite the distance, she feels he's staring straight back at her. Grinning at her.

The kid tells Josh and Piper that they should just abandon a child to the Grinning Man. When the Grinning Man gets a child, it walks away and just leaves them alone for a night. The kid refuses to explain anything else about the other places in the area, however.  As they pull away from the kid, they see Joey in the distance, and they notice the Grinning Man at the street, already halfway the distance to get to them.  They start running, widening the distance from the Grinning Man as they follow Joey back into the Candlestick Maker's place. Inside, M and Billy find a backdoor and consider their next move.  Kim sees the Grinning Man, and despite the three rushing towards them, she decides to shut the door closed.  Josh tells them they should just run. Joey however thinks they can overpower her.  Piper agrees.  The three shove against the door and push it open despite Kim's attempts to keep it closed. M tells them about the backdoor. Billy finds a greenish ring near the backdoor, probably a copper ring that has turned green from rust. Joey tries to block the door with anything that can be used to block it. Piper hurries to help him.  Kim breaks into a run, darting out the back door to head for the woods.  M tries to help find what can be used to block the door as well, but there aren't anything of suitable mass to bar the door shut. M asks them if they should run instead. Josh tries to hide behind one of the vats, hoping to see he will be noticed there.  Billy sees Kim dash out and he runs out.  Joey thinks there's space behind the vats, and she asks them if they can trap the old man in the vat.  "I have matches! Maybe we can burn him! Like Hansel and Gretel against the old witch!"  M keeps muttering there's a back door. A peek outside the window by Josh, however, reveals no sign of the Grinning Man. M decides to stay close to Joey. Joey and Piper discuss luring the Grinning Man to the vats. "Let's burn him into a giant candle!" Joey grins.

M glances past them all as they discuss options and realizes in terror the Man in Black is already standing in front of the open doorway. Noiselessly, the Grinning Man begins to walk towards them.  M runs for the back door as she screaming, "Black man!" They all turn and see the Grinning Man closing in, close enough to grab them! Josh runs out the back door. Joey shuts her mouth and ducks down behind the vat. Piper breaks into a run for the door. The Grinning Man is still staring at Joey's direction, despite her holding her breath. M runs for the next building, with Josh following behind her. Piper looks back and sees the Grinning Man going near Joey. Piper finds a wooden slipper on the floor. Joey maneuvers to keep the vat in between her and the Grinning Man, and she pulls him into the vat.  The Grinning Man tumbles in but his hand grabs hold of Joey's hair. M and Josh approach a shop with a Lantern on the front. They hurry to it. Josh tries to glance as far as he can at the opposite end and he sees a cemetery on one side and at the other side, two more buildings, and a forest before a hill. At the top, a house waits.  Josh opts to follow M.

In the woods, Kim and Billy move through the tall trees and ignore the cold winds blowing at them. They soon realize it is too quite. No rustling sounds.  No insects.  But it is total silence. Kim follows where the wind is coming from and moves in that direction. They soon find a tree stump suggesting a woodcutter is nearby, with the significant shape of axe cuts against the wood. Kim searches for any sign of the axe when a whisper tells her to stop. The voice warns her she is too close to one and that if she moves, she might trigger it.  The "it" turns out to be a bear trap hidden in the dry leaves! The voice warns the traps are too heavy to move and that another kid tried to move it before and it snapped and killed him.  The voice claims the traps call the Woodcutter, and Kim asks if that is different from the black man.  The voice asks her to be quiet.  Kim tries to find the source of the voice in the woods, but instead she sees a small cottage in the distance, almost invisible in the woods. She looks further and fails to find any sign of the source of the voice.

Billy looks around the woods as well, moving slower as he remembers the woods having traps.  He tries to find if there's a path of some sort but fails to find anything. Kim slowly approaches the house, despite the voice warning her not to go there as that is what they want. Kim asks the voice to show itself and in response, someone descends from the top of the nearest tree and sits on a lower branch.  The boy is covered in scratches and scars, with long hair shrouding his face. Kim asks how long he has been here, and who he is, but the boy just climbs back up the tree. Kim approaches the tree, looking for handholds if there's any means to climb the tree. Kim is able to climb but as she pulls herself up, she realizes it is a good place to hide.  She realizes from up there, she can see the glinting parts where the bear traps are in the woods.  She has just been lucky enough to be avoiding them by chance.   She sees someone else in the woods, an old man who seems to be carrying a sack behind him.  He walks towards the cottage. The sack behind him squirms as if something inside is moving.

Billy hates that he's back here. He enters the forest carefully, watching each place he places a step. He hears the sounds of someone else in the woods and he drops to the ground to hide as a man emerges with a burlap sack on his back.  Billy can hear the man humming as he walks. "Stop squirming, you will only make it worse," the man growls.  Billy waits for the man to walk out of sight. Kim tries to get Billy's attention from above.  The old man stops, noticing someone at the tree.  The old man however also notices Billy not too far away. He asks what the kids are doing here in the woods. Neither Kim nor Billy answer. The old man tells them to leave while they can as the Woods are no safe place for them. He tells them to seek the path leading to the house by taking the road where the woods are lighter. The bag struggles.  The old man tosses it to the floor and it grunts as it hits the floor as he kicks at it and tells it to behave.  He points them back towards the road, but Kim admits she doesn't want to go back there. The old man admits no one wants to be here, but if they're lucky they might be given a thing to do, while they are stuck here. Both Kim and Billy stare in horror wondering if the old man just admitted he used to be a kid as well here.   From the cottage, a female voice murmurs, "Hungry..." The old man heads for the cottage.  Kim decides to sneak behind him and follow him.  Billy returns to the road, watching every step if not taking the very same steps he took earlier.

Back at the Candlestick Maker's cottage, Piper rushes forward and uses the geta to hit the Grinning Man's hand to force him to let go of Joey's hair. The sound of brittle cracking fills the air. Joey is able to wrestle free from the Grinning Man's grasp thanks to Piper's help and she shoves the Grinning Man into the Vat.  She tries to tie the legs together with the thread of wick she has and as the Grinning Man squirms, he plants his other hand on the edge of the vat to try to lift himself back out.  Piper shoves the Grinning Man deeper into the vat until only his legs are jutting out.  Joey lights one of the matches and successfully lights the wick around the Grinning Man's legs.  The fire begins to rise, spreading very quickly to the pants and the skin as if they were made of paper.  The hand of the Grinning Man juts out, clamping on Piper's face to try to pull her inside with him.  Joey bum rushes Piper and they both tumble to the ground.  They see the fire rise and the smoke erupting out of the vats.  But not a single time do they hear any sound from the Grinning Man save for his nails raking against the sides of the Vat.  The spiderwebs in the ceiling catch the embers as smoke fills the chamber.  Joey and Piper hurry back to their feet and run, leaving the cottage.

Outside, Joey looks back, and sees the legs of the Grinning Man fall into the burning vat.  No sign of him can now be seen.  The smell of smoke spreads out to every cottage.  The children all feel a sense of hope.    M and Josh arrive at the Glassblower's cottage and they see a long steel metal tube visible inside, but the room is filled with shattered glass.  With the smoke and fire consuming the Candlemaker's cottage, more kids begin to emerge from the nearby buildings - drawn to the scene by the dancing flames.  The kids seem to be from various countries, various nations, and worse... various eras of time.  Children from all over the world. From various points in time.

Emerging from the forest, Billy sees the burning cottage and hurries up the road, aiming for the path leading to the house.

Kim approaches the cottage and peeks through the cracks.  There, the old man has gone inside and reaches for something from his belt, then hits the bag.  After the wet pulpy sound, the bag has stopped moving.  The woman's voice tells the old man she's very hungry. The man shoves the bag towards the woman and Kim wonders if she should follow inside.

End of Act One

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Dark Journal - Part 2 now available

7th Sea 2nd Edition has launched the Explorer's Society, which invites the community to create supplements and works for the 7th Sea setting.   This is the second of many supplements which I have written to give gamers more options for monsters and horrors in their games set in Eisen.  

The Dark Journal Part 2 explores the terrors known as the Breeders.
Grab The Dark Journal - Part 2 today at Drivethrurpg:

The Dark Journal - Part 1 is also available:

And why not submit your own stuff to the Explorer's Society!
Guidelines are here:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Millennials ep01 : DC Heroes



Rocky and Urim and I always felt that the characters and concepts we explored in the previous DC Heroes game, Wardens, were wasted when that game fell apart due to... reasons.  While I promised myself to stop torturing myself with the events of that point in my life (something I finally will exorcise from my system in my upcoming book on my gaming experiences), we realized we wanted to somehow reapproach those game concepts with a better and more positive experience. We decided to give the idea of a young super heroes game another shot and invited Flip, a fellow gamer and soon-to-be more active GM, to take part in its revival.  So we came up with Millennials, our more positive and more fun young heroes campaign. While the opportunity to explore the game using a new game system was there, we decided we wanted to celebrate the fun of the DC Heroes game system once more.

So here we have Millennials.

Rocky plays a young mystical hero who has received the mantle of the First Knight from the Lady of the Lake.  Able to summon the Sword of Valor, the Helm of Truth, The Shield of Honor, The Breastplate of Courage, and Sabatons of Loyalty, Diego Franco is El Teniente, a local hero of Traverse City.

Urim plays Shin Takenoko who uses his Super Speed and Shape Shifting powers as the eager and ambitious super hero, Buzz.  None yet are aware of his secret, that he's actually an synthetic human who lives with Ren Takenoko who claims to be his brother.  But is he really Shin's inventor or just someone who wants him to have an opportunity to live a human life.

Flip plays a former thief and hoarder named Guy Garlond who hides in a pocket universe called The White Room which he can access through his ability to turn into a living Warp hole. He has the ability to Cling to walls, transfer his senses to objects and read the histories hidden in old things. He originally called himself Warp Path, but the media has mistakenly named him Warpath instead.

The story opens with images of a man named Ray Princeton who seems to be struggling in maintaining his kiddie entertainment hub, Le Chateau d' Univers, amidst the complaining parents and horribly destructive children. A box arrives addressed to him which opens the moment he touches its surface, revealing something inside that glows with power. When he tries to ask the delivery man who sent the package, the delivery man looks at him blankly with no recollection of having delivered the box.

In outer space, a group of astronauts stare in horror as an incoming asteroid is headed on a collision course for the international space station, Icarus!  But lo and behold, Savior appears in the nick of time intercept it.  As they watch in shock, a voice tells them it is time to head to safety.  They turn to find Diva smiling by the doorway, with her arms extended towards them.  They immediately feel a warm of calm wrap around them.  The image of the astronauts smiling suddenly freezes into the headline image as the news outlets  report the dramatic rescue.

The three teens realize they are late for school and end up being told to stand before the class as their history teacher, Professor Arbuckle scolds them. He says the three are the kind of people who probably won't make any difference in the world. "What history teaches us is how people spend their time can shape their future in times to come. These three will probably grow up to be thieves, criminals and lazy bums."  He questions Guy what he thinks his parents will think he will become when he grows up.  He wonders when Shin will start acting like everyone else. And finally Diego, he addresses as a promising student who probably spends his time at home doing nothing helpful at all.  Principal Skinner arrives to inform them of a new student who will be joining their class.   The group meets Selena Stone, a fan of a blog called The Truth Exists.  Selena thinks the current heroes might be training a new group of young heroes.  A dashing knight, a shape changer who looks like a computer generated effect, and a girl who appears out of nowhere.  Guy wonders if his hairstyle is being mistaken as that of a woman's.

The students head out for a field trip to the Art and Science Museum. Forced to sit at the front, Diego and Selena talk about super heroes in the city and how The Truth Exists is trying to uncover more information on the young superheroes that have been sighted in Traverse City. Diego raises the concern that the blog might be invading the heroes' privacy. Selena however feels the blog is at least helping them gain some popularity.  She even shares the new report about how Warpath might actually be a man and not a woman, or a woman "transgressing" into a man, based on the recent photos that were digitally enhanced.  Diego thinks the blog is getting very personal, and learns the blog is being maintained by someone called FanGirl. Selena wonders if Guy is actually FanGirl since he seemed adamant that Warpath is actually a guy and not a girl.  And this article just appeared. Selena wonders now if Guy is both Warpath and FanGirl.  Diego shakes his head.   Guy and Shin talk about how Shin bowed when he was introduced to Selena, which was kind of odd. Shin was pulled out of school a year ago when Ren discovered his deadly vulnerability to water. Thankfully, they came up with an excuse about him having allergies.  Arbuckle laments on losing Shin last year and realizes he never met Guy's parents. He asks Guy to have his parents meet him next week. Guy claims they are in another country, and when he lies and claims they are in Africa, Arbuckle asks what region as he flew to that continent last year. Selena admits to Diego she's from Canada and has no knowledge of her heritage. She wonders if she and Diego were from the same "island."  Diego feels sad to know she has no idea of her country or history, and is shocked when she admits she thought all Hispanic people are from the same place.  He thinks she should spend more time online learning of her heritage.

Along the way, however, the bus is delayed and news reaches them of a bank robbery happening further head.  Guy and Diego slips out of the bus during the commotion as all the other students try to disembark in hopes of seeing the event more.  Professor Arbuckle tries to herd all the kids to the nearest cafe to take shelter, and when he looks up to ask Shin to help he does not realize Shin has split into two people so he can still head to the bank to help out. None of them realize Selena too has slipped away.

At the bank, a group of men in suits and comic superhero masks have taken control of the place. Buzz, now in full costume, blurs to the front of the bank to see "Spiderman" and "Captain America" trying to get the escape vehicle started.  Buzz smashes into them, transforming into a forklift in an attempt to toss the car over. El Teniente, having transformed after running into an alleyway to plant his hand into the closest puddle, charges at Captain America with his shield to try to stun him.  Spiderman mutters something about "sticking to the plan" and using the "test device" they were given.   But when they destroy the test device, it blinks out of existence almost like how pixels would flicker away in a computer game!  Neither of them know Warpath has warped into the bank from the White Room.  Inside, he tries calling out for the crooks, mentally thinking of what "El Teniente" would do. But when he draws one of the crooks out, the guy shoots him near the stomach and brings him down.

El Teniente uses his sword to blind the crooks, stunning them long enough for Buzz to gain the upper hand. He tells Buzz to take care of them while he runs into the bank, despite the incoming police sirens.  As he runs inside, he uses the Sword of Valor to blind all those within once more, he rushes forward to disarm the gun man.  But when Buzz follows inside, they find Warpath bleeding on the group and hear the roar of motorcycle engines outside as  someone escapes from the bank.  El Teniente and Buzz rush to take chase, leaving Warpath to get aid from the paramedics who just arrived.  Buzz transforms into a motorcycle to take chase and thankfully sees his double (the one with the Professor and other students) along the way. The two recombined to use their full abilities and continue the chase.  El Teniente relizes the two are headed to the underground roadway and hurries to cut them off by leaping from rooftop to a rooftops. When the two successfully knock the goons down (with El Teniente landing on one from above with his shield, and Buzz transforming himself into a lance to knock the other guy down), they return to the bank to see the paramedics treating Warpath. They stop him from unveiling his mask. Diego watches in horror as his mother, Cozaron, comes in.  She works with the emergency services and she recognizes El Teniente as one of their heroes. She rushes to him, asking for a selfie to inspire her children to avoid a life of crime. She admits to Warpath that she finds El Teniente so dreamy and wishes she could have his kids.  Warpath, delirious from the pain, is just happy El Teniente saved his life.

Back at the cafe, the Professor sees Shin and Diego return, and is thankful they're all complete now since the roll call was complete.  Shin, however, notices Guy is missing and wonders if the Professor confused the count off to miss one since he failed to note Selena adding to the group.  The Professor herds them back into the buss and sighs about having to go home to his wife who just divorced him.   Shin sees Diego and Selena talking and she asks Diego about where he had snuck away.  Diego claims he had a side job to handle. Selena shows her digital camera with an awesome zoom lens and shows of her photos of El Teniente and Buzz fighting the crooks.  She also has pictures of Warpath with the paramedics.  She thinks she knows the paramedic who helped Warpath, having seen her working at a Starbucks near Hollywood alley. When she learns the nurse is Diego's mom, she asks to meet her to interview her and write an awesome article to hopefully get hired by The Truth Exists. She asks to meet them this weekend.  Diego says no, but she remains insistent - even claiming it is an opportunity to get to know him - despite Diego insisting he rather only get to know her in school.. Shin only overhears her asking to visit Diego in the weekend and wonders why teenage human behavior is so strange. Selena sees Shin staring and thinks he's a creep for staring at them.  Guy, now in the White Room, pulls himself up onto the couch, overwhelmed at the fact he just got saved by El Teniente.  He grabs one of the nearby items in his hoard in the White Room and uses it to diminish his injuries immediately.


Over the weekend, Guy visits a number of theater auditions to observe and try to find possible people to pretend to be his parents come Monday.  He sneaks into an ongoing audition and ends up getting noticed by the director who shares with him a short story of his love for the stage and how he won't report Guy to the security since he was once like him.  Eventually he meets two possible parental candidates and negotiates with them the plan to have them pose as his parents for the meeting on Monday.   After, Guy warps to a nearby mountain range area to get some rest and recovery done.
Back at home, Diego sees his hectic mother who has just got back from the grocery,  She asks him to help her fix the stuff and asks if he had brough Mateo, the youngest son, to the school but she reminds him it is the weekend.  She informs Maria, his sister, is on her way back from that cultural trip with her Abuela. Maria insists Mateo should be in school since it is Sunday, but Diego reminds her there is no such thing as Saturday school.  Downstairs, Diego sees Lucita and their mom hurries off but outside, Selena is there and hopes to introduce herself to her mother. Lucita nags Diego to tell her about the bank robbery as she knows they were there.  For a moment Diego worries Lucita was insisting he was near El Teniente and the other heroes. Diego claims he was delivering some sort of beetle root for Mr. Chin that hour. Lucita herself seems to be a fan of The Truth Exists, and even shares she read that Buzz has appeared in two places at a single time. Diego is surprised she's suddenly into super heroes. Lucita admits she overheard Diego talking to himself in the bathroom a few times and asks who does he talk to. Diego realizes he has to be more quiet about those times he tries to talk to the Lady of the Lake.  Lucita teases Diego about having a girlfriend when Selena knocks at the door and asks to be allowed in. Diego finds her creepy.  Mateo gets awakened by the yelling and asks who is outside. Diego confronts Selena outside, not happy to see she has traced him to this house. Selena admits she wasn't being intrusive but she just really wanted to see what she can learn.  Selena admits she was so used to getting what she wants and apologizes for being a jerk.  As she walks away, Diego sees her step into a really expensive car with government plates. Diego heads back, sees Mateo and Lucita teasing him about the girl outside, and he reminds them all to focus on their weekend checklists which they always use to map out their chores.

Shin and Ren discuss school as Ren does a few tweaks into Shin's systems.  Shin admits he's getting a hang of this being human thing, and Ren is happy to hear that.  Ren doesn't push more though and Shin starts to notice Ren has a moment of... sadness... each time he talks to Shin about being a super hero.   The two talk about how Buzz dodged a bullet in time, an act which Ren insists his pure luck since no one can dodge a bullet.

The group bumps into each other once more at the grocery when Guy bumps into Shin and Ren at the supermarket. Guy is surprised to see the cart filled with a lot of electronics and hardware supplies. Shin turns around and sees the "missing student" and asks about what happened to him when he disappeared at the bus. Guy claims he decided to cut class after getting bored especially with the robbery happening nearby.  Shin introduces Ren, and Ren asks if Guy is one of his friends. Ren is very happy to see someone take the effort to get to know Shin, especially since some think he's kind of weird. Guy admits he is kind of weird and tries to shift the conversation to ask if they are building something. Shin claims they're just fixing stuff in the house.  They talk about Selena and Guy insists he wasn't shot down by the girl. Shin however admits Selena seems more interested in their classmate, Franco.  To their surprise, they both see Professor Arbuckle greeting them as he walks up to them. Shin greets him and admits its nice to see him, "despite his divorce." He reminds Guy to have the parents meet with him next week, which Guy claims is the best time his parents get home. Shin ends up admitting to the professor that Guy cut class and when Guy tries to cough and signal him to shut up, Shin ends up asking why he seems to be coughing louder and more often right now. At the distance, they see Diego also at the market.

There, Abuela complains to Diego about having purchased all the wrong brands.  Diego defends her mother for buying things that fit the budget. Abuela however seems eager to buy a lot and claims it is all well since she is in town and she can afford to make them all happy. Diego, however, discovers in horror that it is because Abuela has been using her multiple credit cards in a circular way. "I have five of them," she proudly claims, "And I use them to pay each other."  Diego reminds her it is hard to earn money in the city.  Abuela shows him she has one lottery ticket every week and that she only needs one lucky day to pay for everything.   Diego sees Shin and Guy nearby and exchange pleasantries. Abuela asks them if they are all friends with Diego. Guy says yes, but then realizes he just revealed he understands Spanish. The Professor is amused and tries to join the conversation, horribly using the wrong words as he embarrassingly converses with him in a broken attempt to speak her language.  Abuela just smiles and tries not to react to his horrible words.  Abuela invites the others to visit the house in the future, with Maria returning with a two tubs of ice cream.  Guy excitedly responds in Spanish that they'd be delighted to go.

But before any of them could leave, the sounds of screams reach them from across the street.  As it turns out, Le Chateau d' Univers is just across the street and bright rays of light have begun to dance outside from the building.  As Diego tells Maria to watch over Abuela, he rushes outside to see how he can help. Buzz sees the trouble and turns to Ren, who gives him the go signal to head out and see what he can do to help.  Guy quickly warps into the White Room and tries to peer into what is going on inside.  Diego rushes to the alleyway but finds a man in a suit, hat, and domino mask stepping out. He notices the silver coins that form a necklace around the man's neck as he calmly walks towards the building.  Diego waits for the man to leave, then calls upon the Lady of the Lake to transform him back into El Teniente.  From the White Room, Guy drops off his groceries in the room and hurriedly remotely peeks into the place to see what is going on. Buzz reaches the entrance and sees all the running kids and parents and learns others are still stuck inside. Buzz tries to ask how many are inside, but no one gives a clear number.  He dashes inside. Guy warps to the street, asking a runner which floor the kids are trapped in, but being a kid, the man just keeps running.  The building has three floors: The Jurassic World, The Wild Wild West, and the Final Frontier. Guy decides to just run inside for now.   Diego sees Guy running for the building and wonders why he's heading there.

Buzz heads inside and learns from a weeping parent that something "ate his son." Laughter breaks through the public address system. He moves in deeper and finds the main junction area with the stairwells to the three floors.  He looks up and sees the impossible: flying pterodactyls are flapping their leathery wings and screeching at the running people. Buzz stretches an arm into a wrecking ball to slam into one of the flying dinosaurs and knock it down from the sky.  The thing swoops, dodging Buzz' blow. Buzz rushes forward to catch the boy as he leaps up and snatch him to safety. Guy learns of the dinosaurs form the parents outside and warps into the junction room as well. He sees Buzz pushing a kid into a parents' arms and runs to grab a few more kids. Guy spots one seemingly commanding the others and he sees the dinosaurs descending towards Buzz. Guy leaps at Buzz and throws him into the White Room to avoid the dinosaurs. Buzz looks around at the stuff all around him and does not know how he got here. A black silhouette in a human shape suddenly closes in at them and shunts them back outside into the junction room near the entrance. Without his costume, Guy keeps his hoodie on and tries to sound different as he tells Buzz to focus on the kids. El Teniente, sees the Lady warning him to be careful as there is something different nearby.  El Teniente runs across the street amidst the cheers from the people at the supermarket.  He uses his boots to leap across the street to reach the building in one bound.  He finds Mister E, the man with the hat, using his powers to calmly have the people leave the room in a single file.  Mister E tells El Teniente that they have heard of him and that his companions are already inside. "Rescue those you can, I shall see if I can find the heart of the matter." Mister E quietly hurries deeper into the facility.  El Teniente sees one of the silver pieces of Mister E's necklace spinning in mid air, and the panicked and screaming people suddenly turn calm the moment they are within eyesight of the spinning disc.

In the junction room, Buzz and Guy dodge and leap and warp away from the dinosaur attacks. Guy leaps back into the White Room to dodge a close call.  Buzz shifts into a massive wall to smash onto the fliers that get close by, knocking them down to the ground and to their surprise the dinosaurs explode into golden pixels.

"It's like the device yesterday," El Teniente observes and Buzz turns to see him there. He reminds Buzz of the device the bank robbers had.  Back in the White Room, Guy quickly grabs his mask, and dons it on, wondering how the others get dressed so quickly.  He warps back into the third floor, standing on the wall as he observes what has happened so far. As the other dinosaurs close in, El Teniente calls out to everyone to close their eyes and uses his sword to unleash another magnificent flash of light.  The light disrupts all the other flying dinosaurs in the area, shattering their hard light bodies.  "So amazing," Warpath sighs as he hurries down the wall.  The ground begins to shake announcing something big coming.  Warpath leaps, warps out, then warps back in behind El Teniente.  Buzz and El Teniente brace for impact as the Tyrannosaurus Rex emerges from the Jurassic World door and charges towards them.  El Teniente glances at Warpath and notices it is still Guy in a mask.  "Guy?" Warpath tries to fake a lower tone voice and claims to be someone else. As the T-Rex charges forward, El Teniente unleashes another flash, but surprisingly this doesn't work this time!  Buzz charges forward as well, splitting into two beings as he does so.  Buzz reaches for each other's arms in an attempt to trip the charging dinosaur.  The dinosaur proves to be too powerful as both Buzzes feel the dinosaur drag them with it!  El Teniente hunkers down and holds the Shield up, hoping its energy absorption abilities will work.  "I just wanted to say you're really cool," Warpath whispers.  "Not now!" El Teniente hisses back.  As the Rex attempts to chomp them down, El Teniente pulls the shield back at the right moment to trap it against the Rex' maw!  The absorption doesn't seem to work.  Buzz coordinates their attack, transforming into blades to plunge into the hard light dinosaur. The attacks Buzz launch shatter the Rex' cohesion almost becoming pixels that get absorbed into El Teniente's Shield.   Warpath warps back into the White Room, then warps back on a motorcycle that he flings at the Rex as a heavy projectile!  He times it wrong, though, and the motorcycle crashes to the ground near the Rex. Hoping to help things along, El Teniente slashes at the Rex with his sword, and the whole body now explodes into pixels.

Screams continue somewhere above.  Buzz sends one of his bodies to the second floor to check on what is going on.  El Teniente's Shield vanishes after absorbing the whole thing.  Warpath asks what happened but El Teniente chooses not to reply. He hurries off to the nearest restroom. Warpath looks up and sees Buzz heading to the second floor.  He follows the other Buzz and El Teniente to the bathroom to see what is going on.

At the second floor, Buzz sees an animatronic cowboy saying howdy as fake tumble weeds rolls by.  The crowd of people huddle at one side as a demonic looking Native American Indian made of hard light threatens the group with his hard light axe.  Buzz rolls into a gigantic ball to ram into the demonic figure. Buzz smashes into the figure, causing it to explode into pieces of light and parts. The people tell him to get away before "it" comes back.  Buzz turns to see the demonic figure manifest again, rising from the ground.  Additional demons rise up as well.  Buzz sees the sign on the wall that reads, "Indian Burial Ground." As around twenty rise up, Buzz worries he may need the others to help him.

At the bathroom, Buzz and Warpath hear El Teniente rush into a stall and a sudden splash of water. None see El Teniente plunge his hand into the water as he calls out for the Lady of the Lake.  The Lady addresses him - though none of the others can hear her reply save for Diego - and she explains the Shield is gone because he no longer needs it. Each Artifact has its own rules and the Shield of Honor defends only those who are weak.  El Teniente realizes the Shield deems them no longer weak and though he tries to argue against it, the Lady seems adamant.  Warpath and Buzz stare at each other, wondering who El Teniente is talking to. The Lady tells him the Shield shall return when it is needed.  Warpath reminds them all there are more people upstairs that they have to go help.  The three step out and look upstairs.  Buzz remembers his split headed up there and wishes he knew what was going on.  Warpath peeks into the second floor area with his remote senses and sees Buzz focused on the defensive as he dodges and weaves around the multiple attackers.  Warpath decides to leap ahead, porting in to grab the closest opponent Buzz is facing.  One of the demons lands the flat side of the axe against Buzz's face, causing him to stagger to the ground. Each demon Warpath pulls into the White Room explodes into pixels as well.  Buzz finds a breather and grabs one of the kids huddled in the crowd and runs out with the boy as they dodge the other demons. Buzz flings an arm close to the ground, toppling the other demons to the floor as he tries to make his escape. Warpath leaps back in, grabs another demon and pulls him into the White Room but again the demon is gone.  "I guess I'm... helping?" he muses. He jumps from demon to demon, shunting them into the White Room.

The Buzz outside with El Teniente hurry up the stairs. Buzz suddenly has an idea and tries to locate the source of the animatronics in the building.  He dashes off to head for the upper level, hoping to find something there.  Warpath realizes there are too many of them and he leaps back into the White Room and decides to focus on the bystanders.  Quietly, he appears among them and whispers to them to walk into him to safety.  The people one by one begin to vanish as they want into the man-shaped warp hole. El Teniente arrives the second floor and steps inside to see the demons now turning to face him.  The group of bystanders at the rear seems to go less and less in number.  With his sword raised, El Teniente yells at the demons to stop now that they face him. Warpath stares as the demonic native American Indian projections charge at El Teniente. But as he fights them, he sees the demonic hard light forms simply replenishing their ranks without effort.

At the third level, Buzz stares at what looks like a sci-fi inspired setting and pauses at the sign that reads, "Do not trust the Killer Robots." Knowing there are children stuck inside, Buzz pushes forward and lights shine a grid like pattern on the area, as if they were being laser mapped.  The voice over talks about the artificial intelligences attempting to replace humans and that they should not trust the machines.  Buzz inwardly shakes his head, trying to ignore the fact he feels affected by the statement.  The robots emerge, can-shaped things with long extended arms and turrents protruding from their bodies.  Buzz uses his shapeshifting to show the robots he is one of them, gaining their trust.  "Take me to your leader," he tells them.

Back in the White Room, Warpath sees the ten people he's saved so far and tells them to exit by taking the new portal he's created. The people hurry through him to the outside to safety. El Teniente hopes the demons are not "real" and starts using his sword to try disarming the demons. The sword cuts through the demon's arm, enough to render it useless. But whenever they're destroyed enough, they dissolve into pixels and they return fully formed. El Teniente parries the other demons' strikes but he starts to realize the nine demons are just too strong.  He calls upon the blade once more and releases another Flash.  The demons discorporate.

Back in space, Buzz sees the trapped kids in pillars of light, as if the light columns were physical chambers. Buzz meets the figure calling itself the Overlord and admits there can only be one. "Then I shall be it," Buzz grins and with a burst of super speed, he rushes into the Overlord and punches the figure as many times as possible! The figure is flung off its cradle, flying from the wires and cables.  The can robots turn and bow before Buzz, declaring him the new Overlord. Buzz commands them to let the people go and tells them to cease whatever the last directive was. The robots confirm they will cease the Processing.  As the kids wake up, Buzz yells at them to start running.

Glass shatters.  All of the Heroes turn towards the sound and realize it is from an office at the third floor.  Warpath warps to the roof to find the source of the sound and he finds a shattered window at the floor just below him.  He pulls out a coin from his pocket, imbues it with his senses, and drops it onto the floor below him.  He sees a man held by the throat outside the window.  Mister E holds the owner of the shop, Mister Princeton outside and demands he admit where he got the box. Princeton confesses he does not know.  El Teniente hurries to the third floor and finds Buzz in charge of the robots. Buzz admits he gained control of the robots by defeating the Overlord - but he omits stating he showed his robotic nature to gain their trust.  Back upstairs, Warpath watches as Mister E demand an explanation from Princeton. Princeton admits the box that he was sent is gone, having disappeared after it was activated.  Princeton admits he has no idea who sent it or why it was sent to him. He even confesses he hates this job. Mister E asks aloud, "What do you think?" and Warpath suddenly realizes Mister E is talking to him! Mister E asks if Warpath thinks Princeton is telling the truth and Warpath admits he isn't sure. Mister E picks up the coin Warpath dropped and slips it into Princeton's shirt pocket.  Warpath suddenly realizes he can hear Princeton's heart beat but still cannot discern if Princeton knows anything else.  Mister E reminds Warpath that he and his friends will have to be ready to make hard decisions if they really want to start acting like super heroes. Especially when they have to make choices without knowing for certain. Mister E drops Princeton back on the table in the office as El Teniente and Buzz arrive at the side office door.

Mister E summarizes to them what happened and admits he wishes he knew where to find this supposed "box" as there seems to be no trace of it. Warpath admits he isn't sure if Princeton's lying. El Teniente's Helm tells him Princeton definitely doesn't know anything and is innocent to all this. Mister E sends Buzz to rush around the whole building for any box that looks out of the ordinary. El Teniente shares that his sword's light powers is capable of destroying the monsters. To deal with the remaining threats, Mister E asks El Teniente to go with Buzz and use the sword's light effect to destroy the remaining hard light holograms. Warpath wraps into the room, standing on the ceiling, and admits it is really an honor working with Mister E and El Teniente. Mister E tells Warpath to try looking for the box as well.

"Someone is testing something," Mister E suspects as well and asks if their team can handle investigating this.  El Teniente, Buzz and Warpath stare at each other, admittedly they didn't think that they were formally a team yet. Mister E detaches one of the silver coins from his necklace and it spins in the space between his fingers.  He clasps his fingers at it to hold it steady then reaches out towards the three, telling them he will leave it with them in case they need to contact him in the future. "It shall tell me when you need of me," Mister E explains.  Warpath takes it and pockets it.

"Make sure in the end Justice is achieved," Mister E asks them. He confesses that he suspects the villain calling himself the MechaMaster might be behind this experiment.  The three tell Mister E that they are ready to tackle this.  He suggests then that, "You Millennials are doing a good job despite your diverse backgrounds. Learn to trust each other and rely on each other. Savior and Diva are able to trust me because I told them everything.  If they learned to trust me despite my... history, I believe your group can do the same."  Mister E walks to the window again and tells them that the Savior is handling the rescue a team of astronauts stuck near the moon, while Diva is handling peacekeeping operations in Africa.  He hopes they can rely on this new group to handle things here in Traverse City. Mister E turns to Buzz, telling him, "As the team leader, I'll hear from you."  As he walks to leave, the other silver coins that have been left floating in the building begin to fly back towards him, reconnecting to his necklace.  The sharp-eyed among the three notice a single gap remains in the necklace... likely for the coin left with them.  As he takes his hat off, when he releases it, he is gone and the hat hits the streets and just rolls away.

The three stand by the window, asking each other if they're really doing this... team business.  Buzz admits they've been working together a couple of times in the past.  People call out pointing at them from the street.  The newly arrived police cars come to a stop, training their spotlights at them at the third floor window.  The group stares at the faces cheering at them and the calls for them to speak. El Teniente salutes with his sword, then sheaths it.  The yelling growls louder. Buzz and Warpath stare at each other. The two start striking poses of their own, and the cheering growls louder.  Abuela pushes through the crowd and El Teniente cannot help but feel that she's staring right at her.  Warpath transforms into a warp portal and asks the two to step through.  They exit, leaving their adoring crowd screaming despite having gone.

A car suddenly slides to the side and the cops turn expecting panic.  But with the spotlights trained at the source of the sound, everyone sees the young girl raising both hands as she runs towards the building with her cape fluttering behind her.  She looks to be ten, perhaps twelve years old.  "Wait wait!," she calls out, "I'm with them! I'm with them!  I'm part of that team!"

The people stare in shock.  Someone finally asks, "Who are you?"

"I'm Missus Teniente," she strikes a pose, "Yup! He is my boyfriend!"

The spotlights focus on her as she winks and tells them, "We're the Teniente Family!"

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Dark Journal - Part 1 now available

7th Sea 2nd Edition has launched the Explorer's Society, which invites the community to create supplements and works for the 7th Sea setting.  My initial contribution to this is The Dark Journal, which I wrote as an attempt to give Eisen a touch of horror befitting a swashbuckling story line.  This is part one of what is to be a series of supplements detailing new monsters and additional Monstrous Traits that you can add to spice up your exploration of Theah and the many dark shadows of Eisen.

I am tremendously proud to see the book has become a Best Copper Seller!  Thank you so much for the support.  I'm currently working on Parts 2 and 3 and hope to release them soon.

Grab The Dark Journal - Part I today at Drivethrurpg:

And why not submit your own stuff to the Explorer's Society!
Guidelines are here:

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thrice Damned ep01 : Houses of the Blooded

Thrice Damned

Episode One
"Swimming Requires Stamina"

Houses of the Blooded

Notably also the first game session in the new Sietch, Rocky, Carlo and Flip are the players of this new tragic affair.  This was an opportunity to introduce them both to the wonderful tragic world of the Ven and the dangerous stories that are told only in Shanri.

The characters in the game are the following:

Ithili Thali ("Graceful at flight" "Face Many Odds")  Falcon
Strength 3,  Cunning W, Courage 5, Beauty 3, Wisdom 2, Prowess 2
Aspects: I know someone,  The Woods are my Home
Artifacts:  The Sky's Eye (A necklace with Farsight and Whispers)
Devotions:  Manna Rennay 2 (Circle of Protection, Hearthward)  Tyan Bran 1 (Wisdom's Clarity)
Played by Flip

Torr Tamel ("Iron does not bend" "Strength in Candor")  Fox
Strength 2, Cunning 4, Courage 2, Beauty 4, Wisdom 3, Prowess W
Aspects: Well Known, Read About That
Devotions: Talia Yvarai 2 (Goodnight Kiss, Befuddling Kiss), Talten Steele 1 (Never Again)
Played by Rocky

Lucane Adrente ("Gallant" "My Weapon is Myself") Wolf
Strength W, Cunning 4, Courage 3, Beauty 2, Wisdom 2, Prowess 4
Aspects: You know my Father, Old Sword
Artifacts:  Bloodsword 2 (Sharp and Vampire)
Devotions: Falvyn Dyr 2 (I am the Weapon, Tool or Weapon), Manna Rennay 1 (Circle of Protection)
Played by Carlo

Opening Scene: An Opera
On the stage, the man named Bjornae, the Wise Man, is the soldier thrown in circumstances beyond his control. A desperate Count, turns to the soldier, and shows him the coming armies.  He asks what they should do.  The soldier mutters the only thing he could think of, "Swimming requires stamina." The Count stands transfixed as Bjornae's true wisdom inspires him. Bjornae is thanked by the Count for his advice and hurries to the fight.  Bjornae stares at the audience, uncertain what had just happened.

All player characters gain the Aspect: Swimming Requires Stamina

A break in the silence as someone begins to applaud quite loudly.  Across the darkness, the ven look around to find the offending person. Torr Tamel turns to her father, Drial Tamel, and the two whisper about how in an Opera applause only happens at the end. Torr is bothered how the story is the kind of stories one gets when the Wolves attempt to write an Opera, worse to set a war story at Spring, a time of Romance. Drial however reminds her it is still based on one of the Seven Fools which makes it a true Opera.  The actor begins to move like a fish, however, in a terribly acted way.  In the audience, Lucane Adrente and his wife, Isabel ("Quick on her feet") whispers to each other about the fact she is not yet blooded, making her not permitted to be among the audience.  She is disguised as one of Lucane's personal guard to accompany him.  She admits she is having fun, but knows she enjoyed the Theater more. Isabel doesn't like how the actors keep singing, and worse they don't really sing that well. Lucane explains it is an acquired taste, and once one gets Blooded, one gets more accustomed to it.  She admits she finds it odd and that it feels... wrong. She points out, however, that Lucane's mother, the Marquess Victoria Adrente, is enjoying it.  The mother makes eye contact with Lucane and from the very glance, Lucane realizes she knows he brought Isabel with him.  She warns him he can be killed for bringing Isabel, but thankfully she has no plans of telling his father, and better, no one else has noticed her so far in the Opera House. Ithili Thali is still applauding very loudly when an older woman touches her shoulder and recommends she sit down and be quiet. Ithili defends herself, claims that she's just showing her appreciation, "..of the play." And the woman snaps back, "It is NOT a play." Ithili nods and quietly sits down.  "Only theater shows plays," the woman explains.  When Ithili admits she does not know the difference, the woman introduces herself as Fani Steele and explains she is here alone as her husband was just murdered.  She is wearing black to explain she is here in mourning. Ithili notices the thin but vibrant red ribbon around the woman's throat like a choker. Ithili remembers from her mother how details and colors matter, and to see her wearing red can mean she's seeking Revenge.  When Ithili asks about it, Fani folds the black cloth over the ribbon as she returns  the question, "What red ribbon?" as if it was never there.

Torr and Drial continue to talk about the Opera, sharing how a young ven named Iger Tamel wrote it. The Baron of Volcheck pushed through with it despite the original lead losing his head.  Lucane feels Isabel nudge him as she whispers, "There's someone watching us." Lucane glances back at the man and recognizes him from a former battle. He realizes the man is Gryndil Thorne and they had not seen each other since that fight. Lucane had slept with the man's wife in the past and he thinks of himself as Lucane's "rival."  Isabel wonders if she should leave, but Lucane insists it might be better to stay put rather than grab attention. Lucane looks up and sees even his mother has noticed Gryndil. Lucane weighs on whether or not leaving the Opera would be taken as a bad thing - but given the Opera is a terrible one.  Lucane takes Isabel's arm and whispers, "Let's go."  The moment they stand up, everyone in the Opera House turns to look at them for a second that stretches for so long.  Gryndil stares at Lucane, but Lucane ignores Gryndil and they begin to walk out of the Opera House.  Ithili sees Lucane leaving and sees the fight still happening on the stage.  The Fish is still swimming.  Ithili stands up, waves at Lucane who doesn't notice, and people begin to murmur as Ithili begins to walk.  Torr and Drial see the second figure stand and nod, "I guess the public has spoken.  Shall we?"  Torr grins, "We can go now."  More and more people begin to stand up and leave.

The Marquess Victoria Adrente smiles, proud of her son as being such a vocal voice, and wakes her husband, Falk Reinhold.  She tells him it is time to go, and when asked, admits the Opera was terrible.

Lucane and Isabel are moving down the hallway, leaving, when a blur of motion closes in on Lucane. Isabel spins, grabbing hold of the blur to hold it at bay only to have Ithili identify herself. Lucane recognizes her and the two exchange pleasantries. Ithili admits the Opera was very good and how much she loves the line. Isabel snorts in response, but turns away to hide her face. "It speaks so much about battle," Ithili grins.  Lucane asks if Ithili is staying for the Party or if she is heading home. Ithili admits she is going. Lucane's personal guard suddenly turns to ask if they are staying because they left their kids... or rather.. they left the wife and the kids. Lucane admits they should at least show their appreciation.  Ithili seems shocked that a Vassal was invited to the Opera.  "Indeed," Isabel gasps, "I... was not," and she quickly exits to head for the carriage.  Ithili wonders if she should hire her own Personal Guard in time.  Around them, a relatively constant flow of ven leaving moves past them. Ithili wonders if the Opera is done and if they should head back to catch it.  When Lucane explains they are leaving because it is how they show their distate for it, Ithili finds it a shock and hurries back inside.
Ithili, however, catches sight of Torr and Driel on their exit. Driel asks if Torr has petitioned for Sorio's Blooding, given right now he is titleless. Torr isn't sure if she wants to drag Sorio into this complicated life.  "But he's quite charming being not ven," Torr sighs. She knows she can petition for their children when their times comes, but having them both as ven would be far better.  Ithili greets Torr as she approaches.  Torr greets back but asks for Ithili to explain who she is. Ithili explains they met at the Marketplace. Driel coughs and makes his exit. Torr claims she doesn't go to Marketplaces and that Ithili must be mistaken. Ithili wonders if she got the wrong person.  Torr turns away and leaves, claiming to have no idea who that was.   Torr yells, "I will not be ignored!" Driel drops his handkerchief.  Torr bends over, picks it up, and that's when Driel turns to notice her, "Oh. Thank you for picking it up." The two now walk away together.

An ear-splitting shriek erupts as Ithili shoves the doors open to go back inside. Everyone freezes to the sound of the shriek.  On the stage, the actor holds the wooden sword.  But there is a woman in black standing behind him, with a knife in her hand pressed against his throat. A crimson arc sprays outwards.  Ithili runs for the stage.  The actor's body collapses to the ground.  The woman in black holds her blade skyward.  Everyone else begins to applaud.  The applause grows louder and louder.  Even those who were about to leave halt, turn, and clap.  Ithili can hear the people gasping at how real the blood looks, how dramatic the flow sprays.  The woman screams, "For Ikhalu!" and plunges the blade into her own chest.  The audience breaks into a roaring cheer as they rise from the seats. Ithili beguns to push past the applauding people, shoving between them and forcing her way towards the stage. She reaches the foot of the stage and sees the woman she recognized to be Fani Steele now on her knees, with the hideous blade still in embedded in the woman's chest throbbing to her weakening heartbeat. Ithili hoists herself up and the audience now watches as she drops to her knees in front of Fani and asks why she had did what she did.  Fani's eyes slowly open, and now Ithili realize it is not Fani! It only resembled her.  "What are you doing? Get off the stage!" the woman hisses at Ithili.   Ithili shoots a glance back at her original seat and finds Fani Steele actually there, pulling her veil back over her head after a short show of applause.  "Get off the stage, you oaf! You are ruining the Opera!" the woman in black hisses at Ithili.   Ithili realizes she's made a huge mistake and tries to act as if she was part of the story.  She overly-shows motions suggesting she's grieving as well as she tries to inch his way back down the stage.  

The curtains descend.

Act Two: The Party
Sorio ("The warrior brings peace") is at the gates of the castle.  He asks if Torr is planning to stay overnight and admits he hates how when Torr stays with her father, she comes back vicious and more a Wolf than a Fox. Torr warns him of insulting her.  Sorio is taking Samuel and Samantha with him to explore the regions of their Province.  Torr isn't certain however it is safe to bring the children around. Sorio admits finding a Ruin might be fun, but Torr admits they're always fraught with danger... and then one has to throw a Party, because "you can't have a proper ruin without a Party.  Hence, hopefully we don't find one until next year."   A voice announces herself to be "passing through," and the two see a carriage escorted by a female cadre of Personal Guard.  They announce themselves to be the company of Lady No, Countess of Ival, Blooded of the Elk.  All the Vassals are dressed in black, which suggests her fourth husband must have found an unfortunate demise once more.  

Lady No
(Bernadette Peters)
Isabel and Lucane talk about the same thing and Isabel wonders if they are doing this for the Resources. Lucane insists this is a trade despite having enough food for everyone and reminds her to trust in his decision.  Isabel admits her mind sometimes thinking too fast.  She asks him not to flirt with anyone there, and even teases how he might end up becoming the Lady No's fifth husband.  Lucane tells her he will be home tonight as he has no plans of staying too late.  "It's a beautiful Spring, so I hope things go well," Isabel smiles, "We met on a Spring."  She admits she wasn't supposed to be peeking at that chamber while the ven was having a celebration, but he saw her and she had to pretend she was just a servant in the house. Lucane remembers that story and adds how she then bumped into him later that same evening and he saved her from her mother... claimed he saw her as a possible Vassal.  She admits she still finds it strange some times how the ven handle things.  Lucane reminds her in just a few more seasons, she will be one of them.  They kiss.  As Isabel leaves, he hears a man applauding.   He turns and finds Gryndil amused to see Lucane in an affair with his "Swordswoman" and how the courts would be delighted to hear such gossip, if he were ever to spread such stories.  Lucane wonders how he managed getting invited and asks what he wants. Gryndil admits he still has the scar from that encounter.  He claims he has one too. Gryndil teases that maybe he won't be alone - and he throws Isabel a glance. Lucane holds back from the urge to punch the man... but then realizes Gryndil thinks the woman is just a bodyguard... a fling... and not his wife.  Lucane asks Gryndil to walk with him and when that frazzles him, Gryndil hurries off alone. Lucane then heads to the castle.

Gryndil approaches Isabel, asking her to accompany him to a secluded location- claiming Lucane asked him to deliver her.  At first she rebuffs his invitation, but then Gryndil claims that Lucane may be in danger and that her presence can ensure her safety.  Isabel chooses to go with him, and they talk about their family with Gryndil admitting he's surprised Lucane chose someone else given he's terribly smitten by her. Isabel smiles.

Back at the Opera House, a thin and sickly man emerges and confronts Ithili, calling her the woman who interrupted his Opera. He identifies himself as Iger Tamil, Baron of Volcheck. Ithili tries to explain the play was great, but Iger complains she had stood minutes before the finale, then returned to interrupt such a dramatic moment.  When Iger realizes Ithili truly does not realize what she had done, given she had interrupted the mundanity and boredom swirling on stage until that right moment would come when murder shatters their expectation and the act of failure reveals his genius.  He hates how they missed the best part.  The wife, Belladonna Tamel,  Belladonna then explains they were trying to reach this level called "Irony."

When Belladonna learns it was Ithili who applauded, she asks him to come with her to share their news to her husband. Belladonna explains that he isn't some spy sent by older Foxes who think they now better.  Belladonna admits not having children as the Suaven have not blessed the with any.

Torr finds Lady No coming up to her, greeting her as she arrives.  She admits it is so good to see him. She asks what tragedy struck and Lady No claims Marcello is dead, after getting poisoned then slitting his own throat with his own sword.  She claims it was such a "terrible accident," and Torr embraces the opportunity and proudly declares to everyone that she is giving her an embrace.  No asks Torr if she knows anyone single, as a Lady cannot be alone at such terrible times.  "I don't understand why they all keep dying... all these terrible accidents... and they keep leaving me these Provinces to run," Lady No gasps.  Torr consoles her and asks her to ride with her and the two poetically share how much the need each other, but the moment the door closes in the carriage, the two talk business about looking for a new husband.  No believes he has to be better than the first four. Torr admits she has "no doubt" that Lady No had no direct hand in their deaths.  Lady No admits her first three husbands were stolen from marriages given their wives had all mysteriously died.  The fourth husband was unmarried but in the end... that accident.   Torr muses how the slitting of the throat was a bit too much given he already drank poison.  Lady No feels like she should aim higher.  Torr wonders if she should be matched with a Marquis or an Earl.  Lady No admits there is an unmarried Wolf, an Adrente, worth looking into.  The Wolf in question, it turns out, is Lucane Adrente.  Lady No asks to be introduced to him. In return, Torr asks for the man she fancies to have her support to have him Blooded.

Lady No is excited at the thought that Torr is in love "with the help." Given the suggestion that he needs to be Blooded, Torr asks if Lady No can give a friendly word at the next Senate.  Lady No agrees.

"Wine?  You know it is only poisoned for the men," Lady No smiles.  Both wait for the other to drink first.

At the Party, Lucane is enjoying the good food. It is better than the usual though nothing too fancy.  He tries to find the host to quickly resolve his visit and return to his wife.  But the host seems preoccupied however.  A man comes up to him, having noticed him walking around, and Lucane recognizes the Count before him. The Count recognizes Lucane as the Baron of the Dark Tower. Lucane admits he has not been introduced which the Count claims makes this an interesting encounter. He proposes a small game for Lucane to try to guess his name in three chances, and if he fails, he shall owe him a small token. And if he succeeds, the Count shall owe him a small token. The Count admits it is not often he finds someone who does not recognize him.  The rules: He cannot ask anyone the name, and he must learn it within the hour.  They agree to their game.  

They walk as they talk about having ties with Provinces near the area, which the Count admits he did not realize the Dark Tower was close to the Province of Volcheck. Another person, a woman, comes up and greets the Count, asking for permission to kiss his hand. She reaches out and he holds his hand out to let her kiss it.  The woman stresses how the man was honest, loyal and always true.  The Count ask if the Veth are still bothering her, and she admits they have gone silent. Their revolts have gone quelled following his suggestions to have five beheadings in one day.  The woman bows and as she leaves, Lucane watches the woman and realizes she is one of the Blooded as well. He thinks of the story he has heard of about the Count and wonders if he would have heard of a similar story from his father.   Lucane remembers of the story of a Province in revolt and the beheadings, with five of the revolt leaders being beheaded in a single day. The sixth leader, who claimed the revolts would continue was then invited to the castle, given a hearty feast, then told the food he ate was made using the bodies of the five others.  The Count then calmly shared he was ready to hear the revolt leader's apology.

Zsanos Yvarai, Count of Kether
(Malcolm McDowell)
"Count Kether, Zsanos Yvarai, Beloved of the Fox. The most ruthless bastard on Shanri," Lucane remembers his father stating, "That is how you deal with the help."  Thankfully, Kether is in good terms with Lucane's father. Count Kether is impressed at Lucane uncovering his name so quickly and promises him a favor he can call upon when desired. They talk pleasantries and Lucane does mention his parents are in the Party.  Kether finds it bad form for Iger Tamel and Beladonna Tamel to have not announced the Marquis and his wife's presence in the city.  The Tamels believe the Foxes need a revolution from within.  Kether is merely amused. He likes seeing change and sees beauty in chaos.  Lucane asks if Kether is with his wife, and catches the Count's expression change. He admits he has never married. Lucane admits he looks like a very busy man, which would explain why he wouldn't have time for Romance or Marriage. Kether admits he does not think he would ever be ready, not after... "Lady No?" he mutters as he sees a group of women in black and a single woman dressed lavender.  Kether seems surprised to see the Lady No present and mutters they have some form of special relationship. Kether asks Lucane to walk with him towards the women.

Ithili is waiting at a table.  A woman sits at the table with a guy, and the two seem to be anxious to know why they are here. The woman seems concerned to be seated near the table of the host. The guy tells her to wait, and heads off.  When the woman and Ithili meet gazes, Ithili realizes the woman is the Swords woman or Personal Guard of Lucane.  Ithili comes to her to say hello and asks for her name despite her saying she is merely a Vassal. Isabel whispers her name to Ithili and shares that the Baron might be in trouble and that her presence might be needed.  She is starting to wonder if the Master Gryndil Thorne knows about what she is talking about. Ithili admits she knows a lot of people and does not know if Gryndil knows anything.  Ithili invites Isabel to get a drink with her and they walk up to the table to help themselves to some wine. Some of the staff look at her, shocked that one of the Veth is with one of the Ven. Ithili gives Isabel her own drink and thanks her for her generosity. Another servant approaches, asking if there is something wrong with the wine and that they are willing to replace it if it failed to meet her standards.  Isabel asks if Ithili is one of those "Falcons."  When Ithili asks if that's supposed to mean something, Isabel tries to explain. The waiter offers to bring the Swordswoman to leave the chamber and wait at an adjoining waiting room.  Ithili tells him it is not necessary, explains Isabel is with one of the guests, and tells the waiter they are fine. Ithili admits she is just here to have fun. Isabel laughs with her as the waiter rolls his eyes.

Lady No and Torr see Count Kether and Lucane approach. Torr alerts Lady No to the current complication: Lucane, the new man she wishes to meet, is arriving with Count Kether.  Lady No starts panicking, muttering no, and her Maids come to intercept the men. Kether whispers to Lucane that he will owe her a Season's worth of Spices if he has the Maids escort him away.  Torr scans the room immediately who might be useful within the area, but to her horror she finds none!  Lucane calls out to the Maids, asking them to help her get something to drink.  But Lucane's words do not steer the Vassals as Lady No suddenly interrupts him and reminds them that her Vassals shall not be commanded. Lady No pulls Torr close and tells her to stay beside her.  Count Kether steps forward, asking if there's a gathering. Lady No asks who is present and Kether admits there is "No" one of importance and asks the girls to stand aside. Torr curtsies and begins to move away. Kether asks Lucane who the woman is, and he explains it is the Baroness Torr.  "Ah yes," Kether tells Torr, "You were the one who was going to introduce me to your companion."

Torr smiles and claims she believes Kether is already familiar with her companion.  Lady No speaks out (still looking away) that she is not and has no idea who she is talking to. Torr introduces him as Count Kether and introduces him to the Lady No.  Kether admits he knows there is ill-blood between them, and he introduces Lucane to the Lady No and tells her, "He has a very nice Dark Tower." Lucane kisses the back of Lady No's hand. She then introduces Torr to Kether and tells him she has a very nice Province as well. Kether admits he was teasing when she claimed to not have recognized Torr. The two admit there's a challenge in not having anonymity in this society.

Isabel and Ithili start whispering to each other about the events they are observing from across the room, with Count Kether, Lady No, Torr Tamel and Lucane Adrente conversing among the seven maids in black.  They listen in as Torr expresses that Kether seems excited to meet her cousin who wrote the Opera. Kether, speechless, nods.  Torr suggests to have the Staff to lead him away immediately. Torr suggests the Baron Lucane can wait with the Lady No while she looks for the Staff.  Torr then exits from the group, leaving Kether speechless.  

Lucane asks how Lady No knows Count Kether, but she reaches her hand up his arm, allowing her nails to lightly rake his skin. Lady No asks Lucane for a moment to get to know him more. He asks if she wants to play a game, and he challenges her to answer all his questions if she answers all of hers.  Lady No smiles at the dangerous game and agrees.   Lucane asks what her relationship is with Kether, and she smiles as he calls his questions one that goes "for the throat."  She admits she was to be Kether's first wife.  "How unfortunate," Lucane muses.  "No, this is what's unfortunate," Lady No grins, "What is your Secret Name? You didn't set any rules. You owe me an answer." But before Lucane can protest, she pushes her fingers against his lips and says, "But instead of answering that, you can instead do me a favor. I have never seen your Province. Allow me to see your Dark Tower." Lucane admits they can make arrangements after the Party.  She explains she is in mourning, and that they should best not waste... the afternoon.

Isabel mutters to Ithili that she thinks the woman is making moves on her husband.  She hands Ithili her wine glass and starts to walk towards Lucane and Lady No, forgetting herself. Ithili realizes this isn't a good idea, but follows her and whispers this might not be a good idea.  Ithili realizes Isabel suggested that she is the husband of Lucane!  Isabel looks determined.

Torr is walking towards the servants when Kether catches up to her.  She admits she's still looking for the Staff, but he suddenly pins her against the nearest wall.  "You had my tongue tied in there."  Torr admits he is not the first man to say that.  Kether confesses she is the first woman... the second woman to have done this to him.  Torr feels him clutch her neck firmly, but still in a caressing way. He asks her to tell him if anyone has taken her heart.  She replies that while it does not matter, the answer is no. Kether smiles and admits she is good.  Torr grins, "No. I'm better," then gently pushes his hand away.  She reminds him it is time to find the Staff, as she is sure he is eager to meet her cousin.  But as she goes away, she does not overhear Kether mutter that this is the second time in his entire life a woman has caused him to be at a loss of words.

"Excuse me!" Isabel suddenly speaks out loud, "Is there something going on here?" Lady No and Lucane look up to see the Swordswoman standing with Ithili close by. Ithili realizes the Lady No is a Countess and she bows.  Isabel turns to Ithili and tells her not to do that to the woman making moves on her husband. Lady No glares at Isabel. Lucane tries to give apologies as he grabs Isabel into his arms and explains things will be clearer come her visit.  As Lucane and Isabel hurry away, Lady No turns to Ithili, demanding to know who that woman was and what just happened! "Did that Vassal just call me a filly?" Ithili forces a smile, and tries to just explain that the woman is her friend.  Lady No asks for her name. Ithili admits she knows her name. Lady No asks Ithili to join her for wine instead as her afternoon plans seems to have disappeared.  "Did I hear it right and that Ruk called that Baron her husband?"

Ithili lies and claims she thinks the woman is crazy.  Or that it might have been one of those servants who get infatuated with the beauty of their master.  Lady No smiles and admits they will have much to talk about.

Iger Tamel finally arrives. Despite most of the guests having have gone.


A figure who has been watching the three stories unfolding mutters to himself, "Keep Swimming... Keep swimming. this should be worth writing about in my next piece."  The man scribbles down notes in his notebook.

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