Saturday, September 24, 2016

Alas, Such Fates ep02 : 7th Sea

8/28/2016
Alas, Such Fates

"Teeth and Fur, Actors and Wounds"
Episode Two - 7th Sea

A month has passed since the events in Penitence.

At a gathering with long tables and lots of food, and people dressed in fine clothing, Maurice leBlanc is with a crowd of people listening in rapt attention at a woman sharing a story she claims really happened.  The story is of her facing against some villain, dueling upon a running carriage, as she uses dueling techniques she claims to have invented herself.  The woman is Tassine Anastasia Jade de la Croix Bullet, who seems to have the people's attention easily at her beck and call.  The two trade barbed words when Maurice questions if her stories are even believable.  Tassine however cites Maurice as the FORMER friend of the king, given she is now the new friend of the king.  When Lady Cassandra arrives, the Elaine Knight is clearly uncomfortable in the opulent surroundings.  Maurice approaches her, and when she says she did hear about him being the former friend of the king, he muses that it is good he is not one who knows how to duel or he's raise he's taken offense.  She plainly states if they had a duel, he would probably lose and die.  Cassandra asks Maurice if he would mind introducing her to the hostess of the night, and Maurice simply says he would.   Tassine approaches Lady Cassandra and invites her to join the others.  Cassandra realizes she's the owner of the household and whispers to Maurice to help her.  Maurice stresses he has many friends, including Lady Cassandra and that they had adventured together facing armed bandit with many arms... weapons.  When Maurice mentions that the bandits were working for Gasparo Angelo, the crowd is enthralled.  Tassine however claims to have defeated Gasparo before - which brings to question Tassine's accuracy if Angelo is still indeed alive.  Tassine starts diverting the crowd to enjoy the meal instead.  "So Gasparo still leaves.. and the curse still hangs upon..." one of the people in the crowd gasps as she walks away.  Cassandra tries to follow that woman to ask about it, but is unable to learn more about it.  

Elsewhere, Hans Leopold Glick is studying the tracks left by the beast in the forest.  He realizes the thing is nocturnal, is a predator with talons on both its paws and feet, and it is definitely the same one he fought almost a month ago - following the strange wedding, his investigation in the wood with Lady Cassandra lead to a brief engagement with a monster that then escaped his clutches.  Cassandra had to leave for other matters, leaving Hans to focus on the other nearby hamlets and learned the number of disappearing children has increased in the past few weeks.   Tonight, thankfully, Astrid is assisting him in his investigations.  As they wander in the woods close to Buche, they see markings that suggest there are more than one. Perhaps two at most.  Astrid left Lorenzo Cavello to watch over the Guildhouse in her absence.  His two officers were more than willing to "watch over the women" in her absence.   As the two scan the place for where the tracks lead, they soon catch sight of a pair of golden eyes staring at them.  They shine the light on it and discover it is a wolf staring at them - yet not a natural wolf given it does not react to the light upon its face.  Astrid stays close to Hans, who seems more curious than concerned of the wolf.   The wolf turns out to be an Ussuran, who shares he has been hunting the beasts in the forest as his youngest had been abducted as well two nights ago.  When Astrid promises him they can find her, she notices he is grievously injured and bleeding from a wound on his back.  The Ussuran asks Astrid if she can sew the wound closed for him.  Hans offers some wine to use to disinfect her hands, before he leaves to scout ahead.

A beast of fur and teeth.  Hans does not hesitate and he charges at the thing despite the danger it poses.  He swings his axe at it, and an explosion of blood erupts from where he had struck it. "It's here! It's here! I've found it!" he yells as he bears down his weight on the axe.  To his horror, the thing unfurls like a massive starfish that's covered in fur.  The "mouth" at the head isn't really just a mouth, but the whole interior of its body is teeth!  Hans is thrown backwards, slamming into a nearby tree.  The immense fear in emanates weakens those who are facing it.  Astrid arrives with the Ussuran and seeing the monster, she hurls knives at it, drawing them from a hidden slit in her skirt.  The thing cartwheels away after the blades bite into its fur.  They find a boy on the ground, but the Ussuran admits it is not his son.  Hans leaps to chase after it, not hesitating to fulfill his Ungetumjaeger role.  Unfortunately, Hans discovers there are more than just one.  Hans' flashesback to when he was younger, being warned by his mentor to never dive into a monster's lair unprepared.  "It would be like hunting for a shark by diving into the sea without learning how to swim."

Cassandra struggles not to make any huge remarks as she stares at the gigantic mole on a man's adam's apple that squirms and dances as he laughs.  Maurice, however, is used to the ways of the court, and does pay the man no heed. Tassine asks them to share the tale of their confrontation with Gasparo Angelo.  When questioned about defeating her, Tassine insists she had defeated the Vodacce witch already, but Cassandra insists they were certain they encountered the villain, and they even confronted the Sidhe.  The gathered ask if the Sidhe are all women, being named "she" and if Elaine Knights are all men dressed as women.  Cassandra instead asks to speak to Tassine and Maurice in private.  Cassandra, admittedly, is just happy to be away from the mole.  They move to a chamber where things are absolutely silent, clearly with padded walls to maintain privacy.   There, Tassine finally admits she has "not been lying" and insists she knows she is dead.  Cassandra swears upon the Grail itself that they did encounter her.  Tassine realizes the Fate Witch must have made the impossible to survive fall possible.  Cassandra asks her about the curse and supposedly the local belief that Gasparo Angelo had cursed Penitence to be haunted by monsters that abduct children to make more monsters.  Cassandra realizes she left Hans there and throws Maurice a glance.  Maurice insists Tassine clearly has been lying about too many things, including being friends with the King.  She asks the two to go back to where Gasparo Angelo was seen, and if they can stop her, she offers to finance the trip back as well as the men they need - but they must sign a document which is to have them remain silent of the events of the adventure which she plans to release as a new  penny dreadful chapter for the Amazing and Excellent Misadventures of Tassine Bullet and the Golden Girls. "Sign these Non-disclosure agreements, and I will finance them and you are to never speak of them again."  Cassandra accuses her of having not done any of these things in her stories.  Tassine insists she is a noble woman and an author, not some highway woman.  She threatens to call the guards claiming they are intruders if they disagree. Even the invitation that allowed them to arrive is blank. But Cassandra suggests its a chance for Tassine to try being part of a true adventure.  Maurice implies it would be the publicity event of the year, as she goes on an adventure "to capture Gasparo Angelo in the safety of a closed armored carriage."  Tassine considers the potential of it... despite all the elements in it that trigger her fears.  She agrees to go.

In the armored carriage, the three are traveling with an escort of over eighty men outside.  Tassine struggles to breath, claiming to feel a tightness in her chest, worried she's choking from utter fear.   Cassandra and Maurice are rolling their eyes.  "This is a fantastic idea," Maurice tells Cassandra, "Good thing we thought of it.  This is truly an adventure!"   Tassine however begs him to stop saying that word, "It's such a trigger word."  The two are given boxes and they find inside red and gold costumes.  They are to dress as her Golden Girls.  Maurice tries feigning spilling the wine on the clothes, but sadly, they discover its made to resist water and staining!   When Maurice mentions he can be the friend of the King instead in the story, Tassine admits she already "killed off" the friend of the king in an earlier book.  Maurice now wonders if that's where the misconception of his death comes from!   The days pass as they travel towards Penitence, and with passing days some of the men are sent away as Tassine's courage and confidence seems to grow.  When they reach what looks like the first obstacle, a fallen tree and a group of bandits, Tassine insists from the others to get dressed and she stays away from the doorway, freaking out at the danger outside.  

Cassandra and Maurice quickly learn that the"bandits" are actually... actors.  When they ask the guards how often this happens, they realize even the guards are... actors as well.  Everyone around them, they quickly realize, is someone hired to play a role in the new story she is writing.  It is all a farce!  Tassine however seems lost in her fantasy world, acting out as if she really was the version of her in her novels.  As they decide to continue on the journey, they soon catch sight of the familiar woods leading to Penitence and find a disturbing sight awaiting them: a Blessure.  The bloodied wound upon the very world hovers, large enough for a carriage to pass through.  Maurice recommends Cassandra head on deeper into the woods with Tassine to find the Vodacce witch while he considers his course of action in dealing with the Blessure.  He realizes this simply means a Porte Sorcier must be nearby.  He marks her with a bit of his blood, however, making sure he has a means to return if he gets lost trying to close the Blessure.  And with that, he walks backwards into the Blessure. Cassandra sees Tassine rush into the woods, anxious to find the threat, and Cassandra tries to run after her.

Hans stalks the monsters, soon realizing very quickly that the darkened woods and light fog make things far more advantageous for the monstrosities.  Astrid and the Ussuran soon find more nests, trees where the many children that have been abducted hang from silken cocoons!   They carefully tear open one and find the children already slightly changed.  Thin reed like tubes have inserted themselves into the child's skin, and have begun to cause slight coloration changes on his skin.  Astrid realizes in horror the monsters... they are growing in number because the other abducted children were being transformed into them!  Astrid begins yelling, calling for the Ussuran in hopes that he can check if his child is among them.

Cassandra spots where Tassine has gone and keeps close.  Cassandra tosses Tassine her flintlock pistol as she gets near enough, but then the fur and teeth thing strikes!  It strikes Tassine very quickly, dropping her to one knee as it rips into her hand.   Cassandra stays behind her shield, which blocks the teeth of the monstrosity as it attempts to gnaw at her.  Cassandra tosses her sword up, then fires two shots with her flintlocks.  The monster dissolves into dust as it dies.  When a hand reaches for her, Cassandra turns to block with her shield once more, Tassine's hand smacks into it and she falls back in pain.  Cassandra's sword finally lands between them. She tries to bandage Tassine with her belt upon realizing there is venom already in her hand.  Before Tassine can say anything, however, Cassandra just lops off the hand - tired of her prattle.  Tassine screams in pain. Cassandra feels the hint of corruption in her heart as she realizes she caused unnecessary suffering.  She takes a sample of the poison for future study.

Agile and used to fighting in the woods, Hans faces off against the multiple monstrosities.  He weaves between the trees, forcing the things to get caught against the branches and brambles as he sneaks in strikes to wound them at each opportunity.  But two of the whirlwinds of fangs rush close at him at one point and pin him against each other!  Hans rolls away before either of the two can inject him with poison.  From the distance, Hans realizes he sees two more of the vicious beasts closing in.  But then, Astrid's voice begins calling out, and the yelling draws the monsters towards her instead.  The distraction proves to be an opportunity for Hans, now that all four expose their rear to him.

Elsewhere, Maurice slowly travels through the Places Between the World.  Keeping his eyes open, he watches as the world changes into one seemingly made of paint strokes that shift in real time.  Red splotches dance around the darkened shades that make up the world.  There is a red mark upon a coin that lies on the floor, an anchor that seems to allow the Blessure to remain open.  He sees the shadowy things closing in from the distance, constantly whispering amongst themselves, noting his presence.  "I have no quarrel with you. I have merely come to retrieve this object that does not belong here," he snarls as he reaches down to pick up the wayward coin.  Whoever had left it inside this place must have intentionally wanted to create the Blessure.   The shadow things move each time Maurice looks away from them, but each time he stares at them he remain held back in the distance.  Maurice chooses to move quickly, keeping his eyes trained on the shadows as he walks backwards now back towards the Blessure.  Maurice uses his gloved hand to start wiping the coin's blood mark clean, as he holds it behind his back.  The Blessure begins to close and the blight to the world seals itself.  Maruice realizes he will need to Walk out some other way, and grins as he remembers the mark he placed upon Lady Cassandra.  As he closes his eyes, the shadowy things rush to him!  Maurice sheaths his blade and dashes for the way home, ignoring the hands and voices that surround him.  "Everyone wants Maurice..." he laughs and leaps away.

*We will find you*

Maurice lands on the ground beside Lady Cassandra.  With a grin, he combs back his hair as he stands and mutters, "You can try."  Lady Cassandra looks surprised to see him appear out of nowhere.  Maurice wipes the coin clean and holds it closer to look at it better.  The currency is Eisen.  "The beast men," Maurice muses. Both hear the sounds of combat in the vicinity and both rush to see what they can do to help.  Lady Cassandra hikes the unconscious Tassine up on her shoulder to carry her with them.

Astrid sees Hans running towards them from afar.  It takes her a beat to realize she can see dark things closing in as well!  Hoping to distract them further, Astrid grabs her knives and begins flinging them at the beasts, giving Hans the perfect opening to strike them from behind.  He moves carefully, striking each monster that lags behind the most to incapacitate them without alerting the rest.   She jumps on the nearest pod, cutting it with her knife to have it bring her down to the ground.  The group finally reunites, gathering before the dead monsters and the pods and watch as the sleeping child within the pod remains wholly still human.  As they share updates quickly on what they've been up to, Maurice shows of the Eisen coin to them.  Hans identifies it as an old coin from his country.  Astrid mentions there was an Ussuran who was here recently as well, searching for his child.  Cassandra places the unconscious Tassine down to the ground to let her rest.  Hans and Astrid ask about what happened to her, as well as what a "Blessure" is.  Maurice talks about how it is a corruption of one of the noblest sorceries, Porte.  Astrid and Cassandra decide to focus instead of helping release the children from the pods.  Hans warns them to keep watch of other possible beasts.  Maurice opts to do that for them.

Hans finds the Ussuran behind another tree were more pods hang.  The Ussuran holds the dead child in his arms.  It already had begun the transformation, with fanged teeth emerging where the flesh had ruptured, with the extremities having fused into a mutated form.  Hans tries to take the child from the Ussuran, hoping to help him accept the child is no longer his child.  But the Ussuran growls in response.  He grimaces in pain as he attempts to shift his form despite the stitches Astrid had applied to his deep wound, and he shifts into a bear instead of a wolf.  He carries his child away with him.

Astrid asks if Cassandra brought men with them, or a horse, and she breaks out her friendly smile as she asks the coachman to do a favor for her.  She tells the coachman to go to the hamlet at Penitence, to look for the Captain, and to have the secretary of the Scarlet Stocking's come over to help them out.

*

House later.
The group rests at the tavern.  Lorenzo Cavello listens to their stories and marks it in his record book.  "So you all just happened to meet again?" he looks at them confused.  They agree.  He admits that there might be some kind of curse upon them four.  Lady Cassandra admits when the Blessure appeared, she thought she saw a reflection, perhaps someone is watching them.  She senses their meetings are not coincidental.  Lorenzo asks if they have any idea why anyone would target them, asking if they were ever involved in anything in the past as a group.  At most, they think there's the wedding they were part of the previous month.

Lady Cassandra brings up that the one who orchestrated the robbery, Gasparo Angelo, may have a brother.  And may be behind their seemingly connected misfortunes.  Maurice reminds them all that he is a friend of the king, which sounds as reason enough for some villain to target him.  This makes everyone roll their eyes.

Glass shatters nearby.  A group nearby picks on one of the customers of the tavern.  Lady Cassandra involves herself, telling the group to pick on someone their own size.  Cassandra realizes the boy being bullied is one of those kind of children who are not born too right. Cassandra takes the empty tankard of the bully, but none of them seem intent in backing away.  Cassandra challenges the men to a fight outside as a challenge of honor.  As one of the bullies grabs the servant boy by his hair, Cassandra beats the bullies down without ever drawing her blade from its scabbard.  As the bullies run off, Cassandra turns to tell the boy he is now safe - but the boy is nowhere in sight.

Cavello admits to the others there is that odd sensation of someone having been observing them. Or watching them.    Cavello admits that a month ago, on the bank robbery, he received a letter informing him of the bank being a possible target.  Maurice admits he received one too.   They talk about curses and discuss how the Vaticine Church is sending an emissary to the hamlet in response to Astrid's guild for former Jenny's.

A courier arrives at the door of the tavern, calling for Maurice leBland.  The man brings a message from the King himself.  The others stare at each other, realizing he is the friend of the King.  Hans wonders if Maurice sent to to himself.  The letter smells of Montaigne, and is indeed sent by the King.    Astrid comes up to Cassandra to ask what was going on and she tries to explain how there was a boy being bullied.  Hans even insists that Cassandra just walked up to the group and began fighting them.  When the woman of the house comes to them to ask why they seemed agitated, Cassandra attempts to explain there was a servant, a slow boy, whom was being harassed.  The woman assures Cassandra there are no servants in the tavern.  She owns the place alone.  The woman sees a rag on the floor and asks if Lady Cassandra dropped it by mistake.  Taking it, Cassandra realizes the cloth is of the flag of her Queen Elaine.  She wonders if it was some kind of sign.

Hans asks for another mug of ale and the woman of the tavern thanks them for having saved the children.  Hans mutters there were merely incidental in his search for monsters.  Astrid interrupts them, thanking the woman for her gratitude and giving Hans a glare.  The woman continues, telling them how they seem to have broken the bad luck that has been upon Penitence since the Vodacce Witch was finally killed by the Bullet herself.  Some believe the Witch cursed Penitence as a final stroke of anger.   And that this was a story from almost thirteen years ago. The group wonders if the folk have been confusing the penny dreadfuls Bullet has been releasing as historical record.

Maurice reads the letter in private and learns he is to proceed to Avalon and await further instructions.  It is a Mission of utmost importance.  He shares with the group that he will need to visit Avalon in service of the King, and tasks Lady Cassandra to escort them to the foreign country.  Astrid realizes she needs to deal with the coming Emissary of the Church who has seized her land and claimed it to be of the Vaticine Church.  She had offered them all rooms to stay at the Guild, however, with the seizure of the lands, she now needs to find a way to stake her claim upon it.  Lady Cassandra tells them when they arrive at Avalon, they can all stay at her manor in Gallifrey.

The letter tells Maurice that all will be explained upon his arrival at Avalon.  It even ends with a statement that he is truly the friend of the King.  "Take that, Bullet," Maurice sneers and folds the letter to place it close to his heart.  Astrid hopes to gain the Queen's support, if not her involvement, at least her verbal show of support for women.  Maurice wonders if that's truly achievable given politics.  Cassandra shares with Hans that she is having her people inspect the poison and he might be interested in the results.  Hans chooses to join them.

The group rides to the port, and Cavello promises to watch over the women in their absence.  Cassandra reminds him that if they wish to write to them, they can address it to the House of Gallifrey.  Astrid reminds Cavello be wary of the Vaticine's Emissary.

*

Tassine writes more about the new misadventures of her namesake ruffian.  She writes about how the Golden Girls lamented the death of her namesake, and how this will just show her legacy will live on.  The gathered are overwhelmed at her story's unexpected twist.  Tassine tells them she has a hand in the plot, and the four nameless heroes outlined in the book, a man from Eisen, a Jenny from Vesten, a Knight from Avalon, and "the long lost and to be rediscovered some of Tassine Bullet" will be stories they will have to wait for in the next book.  Tassine tells them she needs to rest given she has been writing with a single hand.  She moves to another room, but there a hidden visitor pays her a visit.  The visitor commends her for doing well and she admits she didn't quite get why the patron didn't simply let her ask the heroes to close the Blessure.  The Patron admits it would raise too many questions, and schemes work best when no one is certain if they are part of it.

"And me, is my role in it done?  Do I-"

Tassine never finishes her words.  She has been shot dead on the forehead, with a revolver in her hands.  The crowd stares in horror at her dead body.  A man separates from the crowd, walks away, and steps back into a carriage.  He rides a ship to head north.

*

The ship travels the sea.

A woman approaches the group, greeting them for the pleasant evening.  She is happy to see such a diverse group on the vessel.  Cassandra admits women are usually not admitted as crew on a vessel, but as a wave hits, they all stumble to brace themselves.  She seems to have sea legs, however.  Astrid asks if she is the captain, while Hans thinks she's part of the crew.  She admits she had her own share of questionable activities when she was young.  She introduces herself as Catalina Morta and invites them to her quarters for some wine.  She is curious why anyone would seek to be an Elaine Knight and Cassandra shares her reasons, including the higher calling she holds.  Cataline however has her think if her loyalty is to the grail, to the title, or to the Queen Elaine herself.  "What happens when the Queen is no longer in charge? What do you do when it chooses someone else?"  The vessel is Avalonian, which is odd since Catalina is Castillian.  It is possible she had stolen an enchanted ship, and it was originally a pirate hunter.

She shares with them that she was contacted by the King of Montaigne to assist them in their journey.  However, she raises a concern: One of the older monstrosities was last slighted along the path of their journey.  There have been five reports of ships sighting the thing, and reports of them being followed.  The thing might follow them.   If they go straight, they can arrive sooner. But if they avoid it, they take a longer journey.   A normal ship would take far much longer than either journey options they may opt for.

Cassandra however remembers that Avalon ships tend to have enchantments.  She wonders if she can activate whatever inherent ability or blessing this ship may have.  The ship can possibly give out an intense glow of light, a flash of light that can allow it to move extremely fast.

*

Hans remembers the invitations he had to be part of the Invisible College.  He considers the membership.

*

The Emissary of the Vaticine Church is at Penitence and he takes over the Guildhouse location to make plans for the Vaticine Church's role in the region.  However, a greater scheme is afoot.  The Emissary is murdered, and the murder weapon happens to be a throwing knife.  Lorenzo however takes it and hides it before others see it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Five Single Playsets by Taylor Labresh

EDIT: As of 9/23/2016, the book is finally available!  Grab it at its a very economical price and add more to your A Single Moment game.  http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/194045/Five-Single-Playsets

Even better,
These are playsets to be enjoyed with the game A Single Moment, written by Tobie Abad. You will require a copy of the rules for ASM in order to use these playsets. Instructions for purchasing a discounted copy of ASM contained within this game
The book is almost out!  Five Single Playsets by Taylor Labresh, Taylor Livingston, and Jason Baesel is soon available at Drivethrurpg!  I can't wait for it to come out and I do hope you guys support it too!  The book will have rules for playing five all new playsets including my favorite one, Gamers!  Can you imagine the meta-possibilities of playing the role of two gamers who once were friends but have fallen apart due to... well, that's up to you two to shape!

Grab it when it comes out!
Thank you Riverhouse Games!


The Nisab Diary ep01 : 7th Sea

9/14/2016
The Nisab Diary


"Paying Respects"
Episode One - 7th Sea


The three adventurers are:

Jan Volta (Played by Josh)
Hailing from the Sarmatian Commonwealth, the Zynys Jan Volta was once a doctor until he encountered the dievas he is now bound to. He is Loyal to a fault but can be Commanding when necessary.

Reikion of the Eventide (Played by James)
Hailing from the lands of Ussura, Reikion found himself Touched by Matushka after finding an injured raven that he nursed back to health. Wolves surrounded him, forcing him to flee at first out of fear, until he found the courage to come back. Despite his injuries, he recovered with Matushka’s blessings. He then became part of a travelling circus, where he learned the Dueling Style of the Mireli’s Revision.

Walden Reichart  (Played by Flip)
A Hexe from Eisen who sought to be a Ungetumjaeger but opted to learn dueling instead to better fight the monsters. His practice of Hexe ruined his life.

Three adventurers are invited to attend the wake of Nisab Guissola, an eccentric inventor and visionary who had committed suicide by leaping off a cliffside at the isle of Rambaldi.  The three adventurers have all met in the past in various ways and knew of Nisab as an old friend.  None, however, were aware of how strange her ideas and hopes for the future actually were.

The letter came from the Bishop Victor Heckt, an Eisen who served the Vacitine Church.  The three were brought to the home of Lea Villano, a kind old woman who had allowed Nisab to stay in her home ever since she learned the poor woman was ill.  The three, however, are surprised to find others present in the wake.    Modesto Inderes, a representative of the Villanova family of Vodacce was present, as was Esteban Aldana a Castillian who claimed to have once been Nisab's Patron.  Diomedes Dorn was also present as a presentative of the Guildmaster Eladio Ballesteros, head of the Miner's Guild in Castille.  Diomedes shared that Nisab had been a frequent customer, tasking them to ship her rare minerals and metals often.   But most intriguing for the group was the presence of a barefoot woman in a tattered dress whom appeared without anyone knowing when she arrived and mostly mumbled to herself in the garden.

Reikion and Volta soon discover that Lea Villano has a guest of her own present at the manor, the Lady Tassine Anastasia Jade dela Croix Bullet who claims to be here only to visit her friend but soon seems very interested in the presence of Nisab Guissola's personal effects.    Walden confronts the barefoot woman in the garden and learns the barefoot woman cared for Nisab for some reason.  She does offer Walden answers if he ever chose to visit her at La Bucca.  And with that remark, the barefoot woman vanishes, fading away by stepping through a soft hole in the very air that swallowed itself.

Lea leads the three men to a strange puzzle box that Nisab had instructed her to show the three upon her death.   Volta figures out how to open the box by sliding their fingers against three depressions on the wood.  Fine needles poke into each of them, and the blood somehow seemingly becomes the key to the box.  Inside, each of them find a rolled up scroll of treated vellum, one that seems to resist the wine and blood that they accidentally dab on it.  When Walden applies heat on one scroll, they learn that a hidden message is upon each scroll.

Reikon is told that the Aperture and the Aerographica have both been hidden in the place of his birth.  While Walden learns that the journals she wrote entitled, Zur Quantentheorie der Strahlung and Die Genetische Gestaze der Natur are both hidden in the  place where he first met her.  He is told as well that the Secundusari is also hidden nearby.  Volta takes his letter but before he has time to read it, the group is invited to participate in the wake proceedings.

During the proceedings, Volta slips away and finds Tassine in the private chamber, where she seduces him and stuns him with a poison to take from him his vellum. He sadly fails to realize it has been flinched until it is too late.  Lea Villalon asks the three to stay over instead as the other guests leave.  She shares with them how Nisab always sought to make the world better, and that she may have been targeted by the Inquisition for her work.

By nightfall, the three discover intruders in the compound when the manor is set aflame and assassins emerge to strike at them!  They quickly begin to realize the groups of assassins present were not expecting each other's presence, which raises the question on why two groups of assassins would be present.  Quick heroics and teamwork disable most of the assassins, and while Volta and Walden leave the burning structure with one of the assassins as their captive, Reikion dives into the flames to search for any other survivors.  He finds the Lady Villalon grievously injured.  But when he offers to escape with her in his arms, she insists he takes a hidden cache that was boarded up in the wall before leaving.  Reikion confesses on having a family member nearby, and the group moves to find shelter there for the time being.

The cousin, Galena, offers the group a place to hide from prying eyes and recover.  The two interrogate the assassin, whom they discover turns out to be a privateer by the name of Bates who claims to have been hired by Esteban Aldana to do the deed.  However, Volta notices the telltale smell of Tassine Bullet's perfume as well, implying she may have a hand in the things.      The group ops to escape in secret and try to track Tassine Bullet, but are not certain how to find her.  Volta excuses himself and through another deal with his Dievas, he learns of the destination Tassine Bullet has in mind.  He tells the group this and they decide to take the first ship they can to Five Sails, and from there to travel by road after the woman.  Reikion opts to fly ahead, using the gifts of Matushka to do so.

None of them are aware, however, of the vast tower in the distance where a figure observes them and marks a wall.  The wall shows a flowchart of goals, contacts and activities, and the figure marks those that have been accomplished to fulfill its schemes.   The Mastermind laughs, knowing all is falling into place.


=========

More on this campaign, and its brother campaign, Alas Such Fates, can be found here as well:
https://theguissolaa7thseacampaign.obsidianportal.com/

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Single Moment has reached Italy!


A few Google Plus friends just informed me that they've been enjoying my game, A Single Moment. I'm very excited to know that the game has found its share of fans in Italy. It definitely has encouraged me to keep working on the Companion book called  A Second Moment, which should contain more new mechanics, rules for group play, as well as new playsets for the system.

Thank you to Daniele di Rubbo for letting me know about this!
And yes, here's to someday having an Italian release of the game.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Single Moment with Andy Kitkowski!

This is a Story about Respect.
Andy Kitkowski and I play A Single Moment.


One of the highlights of the month was being asked by Andy Kitkowski (Producer of Maid, Tenra Bansho Zero, and Ryuutama) if I was available to play a session of my game, A Single Moment, with him via Google Hangouts.  Thanks to the magic of the internet, we were able to play the game despite being in two different countries.

Catch the game session here, as Andy and I play through a dramatic tale of brotherhood, duty and respect.   We had to slightly change how the game is played to make it work better on an online session with two separated players (and this, admittedly, has given me new ideas to including in the upcoming A Second Moment, the A Single Moment companion book.

I will apologize this early for all the fanboying that you might catch in the video. But OMG I just played my game with Andy Kitkowski!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Masters ep03 : Legends of the Wulin

08/20/2016
Masters

Episode Three
"The Eight"

Legends of the Wulin

Rose Lin studies the needles she has, one she had extracted from Juju's body and the other which was thrown at her by the old man.  She finds a tiny engraving on each one, and both show identical symbols.  Dawn has broken.  She thinks it is some ancient language, but isn't too sure.   She decides it might be best to visit the "priest," so she gives the hospital to give them notice she isn't feeling well.

David Yezi wakes up, surprised to find his bathroom completely clean and sparkling.  Dry even.  He wonders where Gong Bei is, wanting to have a word with him, as he heads to the kitchen.  Outside the window, he sees the four girls at the courtyard once more harassing some man for his wallet.  Across the building, he sees Tommy once again stealing some of the hung underwear with a wooden stick.  As David steps out of his unit, he finds Gong Bei leaning against the wall beside his door.  Gong Bei bows upon being addressed, apologizes for the mess, and admits he made a mistake of bringing the body to him.  David asks what happened, and he admits he was helping a friend.  David wonders if it was the same "friend" they talked about. Gong Bei explains that it was a friend she failed to save.  He disposed of the body, as per how he was trained, to keep her from getting into trouble. Gong Bei reveals he is of the Blade Dogs, and David recognizes them to be an old clan from his ancestor's time too.  The ones who seek to become the Sword Bastard.  Gong Bei realizes "she's awake" and true enough, Rose Lin soon arrives to visit David.  Gong Bei darts off, walking the opposite direction, slipping out a window to exit via the fire escape.

Rose is happy she caught David before he left.  She offers to buy him breakfast.  David wonders if there was anyone behind Rose, but she admits she didn't notice anyone.  "I think we're the only ones awake... and Tommy." They head for a cafe to have breakfast.

Elsewhere, in another part of the city, Matt Biao awakens to find himself in a foreign bedroom.  He starts to remember arriving at Trevor Wang's guest room as Samantha insisted they go to her father the previous evening.  Samantha and Trevor spent the night talking.  Matt steps out to find the delicious smell of toasted bread, soup, bread rolls, and... more.  He finds the whole dining area filled with numerous dishes and sees Samantha stress-cooking as she boils more, fries more, cooks more... Trevor looks at him from the dining table and motions for him to stay silent.  With a kick without looking, Samantha kicks a chair to the table for Matt to join them.  "Sit."  She clearly is not in a good mood.  She flips the pan and fried eggs fly, she kicks the side table and a plate slides out to catch the eggs.  She then glides the plate to the table and asks Matt if he will have coffee, tea or juice, grumbling about not being "good enough."  The intercom sounds and a delivery arrives for even more food.

Samantha quizzes them both about the Baneful Starving Tiger Dragon. "So he did kill her," Samantha sighs.  Matt soon learns that it seems Samantha's mother died in the past due to some Kung Fu related incident. Matt admits he knows of the historical stories, that of 7 Clans once had to unite against the Infernal Alliance to defeat the Corrupt Baneful Clans had nearly won.    Samantha then asks Matt to tell her about a Clan called the Black Lotus Society. 

At Stabuko, Rose and David finally have breakfast.  The two indulge on some good food then some coffee and tea.  Rose tries to imply David might know a lot of people, but David asks what this is about.  Rose asks of him a favor, given she has so little time to socialize and meet people.  A bell rings, and they both turn to see Auntie Lo step into the place.  She walks up to them, smiling as she asks them about how they seem to be enjoying their breakfast... given the delays in paying rent.  She starts exclaiming the amounts they are spending for the breakfast then asks if they're sure about being able to afford all this.  Rose reminds her she paid for two months the other day.  David starts pulling out small bills and change.  Rose however senses something approaching and she turns to see a hooded man approaching the three of them. Rose shoves the chair to intercept the man, doing this stealthily so the others don't notice. Rose suggests David needs to go, but he continues to dig through his pockets.  Rose sees the man fling a hand at David, wires extending from his sleeve.  Rose catches the wires, entangling them around her wrist then locking them behind her back.  Auntie Lo asks if there's something going on between David and Rose, "I don't want you seducing our priest." Rose insists they are not doing anything of that sort.  David sees the man behind Rose and realizes it is the Metal Delegate he fought the other day.  The Metal Delegate realizes he should stop upon seeing David's withering stare.  

Former Metal Delegate Hoi Lam (Bin Won)
Auntie Lo leaves, having received enough payment from David.  The Metal Delegate accusses David of having chosen a new follower, and Rose finds it amusing the man is being sought to be his "Master."  The Metal Delegate leaves, crushed.  David and Roses return the conversation to the favor.  Rose admits it involves a man, a possible man of violence and passion.  David admits the man is quite smitten with her.  She, however, was thinking of the old man and not Gong Bei, refuses to imagine he'd be smitten.  David admits the man told him himself that he is quite smitten.  Rose is confused about how David says the man did however have an incident with a body in his room, which he was dealing with as a favor to her.  Rose finally grasps that David is talking about Gong Bei instead, admits he's nice, but his intensity probably comes from his line of work. She asks instead if he can check the background of a relic - perhaps find out more about it and have it appraised - given its delicate nature.  She insists neither a museum or a collector would be appropriate. "You do, after know, know some interesting people," she mutters, motioning towards the Metal Delegate outside the cafe.  David insists he is not a detective, but falls silent when Rose pulls out the needle and shows it to him. She insists however its more a relic than a usual acupuncture needle.
 
"Jade!" someone calls out.  Rose feigns not hearing it, not willing to respond to her true name.  Thankfully, it turns out to be just coincidence as someone else mutters, "Tomlin!  Hi!" 

She offers to buy him breakfast for the next month if he has any leads.  The waiter gives them the bill and sadly, that's when Rose realizes her purse is missing.  Not having enough cash, the two realize the best one to pay for the bill would turn out to be the Liquid Metal guy outside.

Samantha was barely seven years old when the Baneful Starving Tiger Dragon found Trevor and his wife.   The two fought valiantly, using their Kung Fu  as the surviving members of the Southern Dragons Pirate Clan against him.  But despite their skill and training the old man would very calmly parry their blows and touch them to show he could have hurt them.  Over and over, he would gently touch them.  But when Diana finally lands a hit on the old man's face, he grows angry and ends up unleashing the power of the Unstained Lotus Mastery upon her.  Twice.  Her body breaks and she dies.  Trevor begs the old man to let his daughter live.  Samantha is angry about how she could have spent the last twenty years preparing to beat him.  Having no clan, she has no right to challenge him anymore. But when both realize Matt is from the Little Forest Clan, Samantha wonders about joining his Clan to challenge the old man once again.  Matt does concede that Samantha never swore any promise to not use Kung Fu.  Samantha leaves in a huff.  Trevor and Matt wonder about the old man's goals.  It was said whoever defeats all the masters shall become the God of Martial Arts, but Matt realizes the man is already outside of it all, being Baneful.  Trevor suggests Matt try to find the other masters, perhaps to battle the old man together.

On Matt's trip home on the monorail transit, he sees posters on the circus supposedly arriving in town in a few days.  He expected a peaceful ride, however, he finds himself confronted by two martial artists. The twins, named Kanto and Johto, challenge him, proclaiming themselves as the Incredible Giovanni Twins.  The two make use of a dance-based martial arts style, and moving in concert, the two make use of paired razor wire ribbons to try to poison him!  Matt's superior Kung Fu, however, bests them, and forces the two to retreat - promising revenge.  One does, however, admit that they maybe should have faced against him based on the original plans. They leap out of the moving train, shattering the windows.

David and Rose talk about Gong Bei as they head out, but catch sight of another man targeted by the four young girls.  Seeing another one victimized by the kids, Rose chases after them!  David opts to dart into an alternate route to lightfoot into an intercepting position.  When Rose confronts the children, she discovers to her surprise that the kids seem to be trained to work in concert!  She is forced to use her martial arts to entangle one child in her own clothes and threaten the others to surrender the stolen wallet.  David lands at the other side, but catches sight of another girl, a fifth, at an upper level seemingly directing the four.  He decides to confront that one.

David lands on the balcony where the other girl is and discovers the child has what looks like what used to be an old stop sign, now used like a war hammer!  David lands on the weapon itself, keeping it on the ground, and with his bamboo fan, taps the girl on the head, showing her his superior skills in martial combat.  The girl grabs the fan, then crushes it in her hand.  David is surprised the child was able to block him... and worse, she seems to be growing at him.  She reaches for a weapon on her side.  David kicks one of the pieces of debris to strike the blade and shove it back into its scabbard.

Liu Ye, Nica Ngo, Barbie Hsu, Bebe Tsu and Kimi (Mini Girls)
Rose notices the girls growling as well.  When she knocks back one of the girls, she is surprised to see the three catch the fourth in perfect sync.   Other people emerge in the area, all wearing dark jackets with hoodies.  They stand on the upper levels, at door ways, and by the balconies.  Rose asks if the girls are friends of the newcomers, but the girls shake their heads.  Rose grabs the wallets the girls have stolen, and turns to face the crowd.  As she returns the Hoi Lam's wallet, Rose hears a howl from above.  The men in the hoodies leave, as if someone was supposed to be with them but isn't there.

David stares as the girl gives out a howl and darts to leave.  David light foots to join Rose at the ground level and watches as the other girls run away as well.  He asks Hoi Lam why he doesn't know lightfoot and the man admits he was never trained in it.  "You know nothing, therefore you have no name."  Rose counters that he did offer to help.  They hear more rushing footfalls, and Gong Bei runs into the area.  He sees the gathered and pulls out a cigarette.  David and Rose walk up to him as he reaches into his jacket and pulls out a lighter.  He looks at them as David warns him they talked about him embracing a life of peace.  Surprisingly, he acts more... brave, claiming no one tells him what to do.  David shakes his head and drags Hoi Lam with him as they leave.  Rose talks to Gong Bei, asking him why he suddenly came in and he admits he sensed danger.  Rose admits they had it under control.  She compliments him for being sweet, which has him end up finishing the cigarette in a single puff out of pride for being called sweet.

Gong Bei is about to flip the cigarette!  Rose realizes this will earn Auntie Lo's ire and moves to stop him!  She catches it with her fingers, snatching it from the air.  A door slams open.  Auntie Lo stares out from the door, looking around, and asks where the guests are.  To Rose's surprise, she greets Gong Bei, then slams the door shut again.  Rose invites Gong Bei to accompany her to her place for now.

The train stops.  Matt leaves the train and walks back home.  He sees Samantha Wang's car outside the compound and she steps out, complaining how she needs to start dressing Matt since he looks like he was in a fight.  She tells him she wants to train, to be part of his Clan, and she insists she doesn't care with what her father says.  "Train me or I will beat you up and take over your clan."  She insist she won't hold back.  Matt decides he might but she has to show first what she can do.  They turn to see David and a man in a business suit walk out of the compound.  David realizes the woman looks familiar and acknowledges Matt's greeting.  He overhears Samantha insisting that Matt teach her to avenge her parents, and he decides to stop.  David realizes Samantha is talking to Matt and realizes he too might have been hiding a secret.  They discuss how Samantha seeks to learn how to fight, and Samantha directly mutters wanting to learn his magic Kung fu, "I spent twenty years being silent thinking I was crazy. I'm not being silent anymore. You can leap mountains! I want to learn that shit!"  Rose and Gong Bei emerge, overhearing the argument and approach as well.  Samantha talks loudly more about no longer wanting to be silent about things and how she needs to do something about it.

The three masters, for the first time, stand before each other at the same time.  

Rose reminds them that Auntie Lo doesn't like noises at this late a night.  Samantha asks her if she does it too.  Rose is a bit surprised, realizing she's never admitted it to the others.  Matt invites them all to head to the back to discuss things.  David admits he has another appointment, however.  Samantha agrees, stating David probably doesn't even know how to protect himself, so its best not to get him in danger.  Hoi Lam feels compelled to defend his master's honor, but David places one hand on his shoulder and reminds him, "She is a woman."  Hoi bows, realizing his master has stopped him. "I have my first lesson."

Matt leads them to the center of the compound, telling the others no one will come out at night anyway.  Even Auntie so long as no one smokes.  Rose sits by the stairs to watch. Samantha is invited to fight Matt, to show her mettle.  She talks about his moves being predictably laughable.  She moves, as if looking like she's preparing to massage dough, but then Matt starts to feel there's a familiarity in her moves.  She knows the basics of Flowing Universe.  Rose offers Gong Bei coffee, and as Rose watches the fight, Gong Bei simply stares at Rose, "It looks like the Flowing Universe. I have never seen it in action. They say with it, anything outside the battle cannot exist."

"Let this first punch be righteous," Matt moves in as he realizes Samantha is waiting for him to move.  Matt unleashes a series of punches, one after the other, and Samantha parries them one after the other, but then, slips through her defenses and lands one blow at her face.  The two bow.  "Your father taught you well, but our ways are different. I can teach you, but your Flowing Universe is impressive."    Samantha admits she only knew it as something her father wanted to do when he had time with her.    She asks if they are all under Matt's clan, and he admits they are not.  Rose realizes Matt is definitely one too.  She turns to look at David, finding it interesting that two masters are in the same place.  David admits he wonders if their presence here is preordained.  He admits he senses a great destiny before them all.

Everyone retires to their home.  Samantha grabs her stuff and asks Matt where she will stay. Gong Bei insists he will stay outside the door to watch Rose's place.  Rose insists thrice that he come inside.  Gong Bei finally relents.  David goes to the edge of the compound, and tells Hoi Lam to leap to the fence, and to keep doing so until he's found a way to do so without using his chains.  David goes to bed.  Hoi begins trying to jump the fence over and over.

Auntie Lo wakes up, hearing Hoi Lam's grunting.  She yells at him at she can see him.  Hoi Lam runs away.

*

David opens his eyes to hear voices.  The voices threaten to burn the whole compound down if *they* do not come out.  He walks out calmly and sees out the windows the men with the hoodies are back.  As he reaches the door, the smell of gasoline is powerful.  He's a bit surprised Auntie Lo has not responded.  The hoodie men are on all the levels of the balconies.  People in the compound are also rushing away, worried at what the men are doing.  At the ground level, David sees the two - who seem to be the leaders of the hoodie men. David yells at them that people are trying to sleep.  "And you don't want to wake up Auntie."  The woman smiles,  holding a plastic spout that is still dripping gasoline.  The man asks who he is and David admits he is just a priest.  He's warned not to get involved as this is between "Clans."  David insists the time of clans is past.

Rose hears the voices and sees the men in hoodies outside.   She hears the female voice suggest that maybe they should just kill the priest to make the other one show up to avenge him.   Rose grabs her scalpel but then realizes Gong Bei is not in the room.  Grabbing her bathrobe, she rushes for the door.  The woman tells David to offer a prayer that "the martial arts master" reveal himself before they start burning everyone down. David admits he will pray for them.

Matt hears the voices.  He realizes they're the same voices from the train.  He turns to wake Samantha but finds her missing from the couch where he let her stay.    He steps out and sees the men with the hoodies.

Rose finds her door slammed shut the moment she tries to open it.  Outside, Gong Bei shakes his head insisting she stay inside and that he will handle it.  "You are not a master of Kung Fu," he tells her.  Rose realizes she has been hiding that fact.  She insists she can fight, but each attempt she makes to try to leave her flat, Gong Bei catches her and tosses her back into the room.

David can see Matt at the lower balcony emerge.  Matt looks up and sees David at the upper floor.  Matt speaks up, complaining why there are loud voices in the morning.  The two turn, and upon seeing Matt, seem eager to start the fight!  "Brother Kanto!"
"Sister Johto?" 
"Prepare for trouble!"
"We'll make it double!"
"To cleanse the world of clan-festation-"
Matt interrupts them, telling them to challenge him properly.  Matt realizes Johto has raised her razor wire to hit the ground and create a spark!

The fight ensures.  The masters use their superior skills to fight the two and their minions.  Matt and David directly go against the twins while Rose finds herself struggling to leave the room due to Gong Bei's desire to keep her safe.

David and Matt's attacks start pelting the twins with conditions, ranging from disorientation to numbing of limbs due to the shock David's strikes cause, to the broken jaw and legs which Matt inflicts with his dangerous martial arts.  Rose eventually realizes she has to distract Gong Bei, so when she shoves the door open, she pulls him close and kisses him!  Gong Bei, overwhelmed, drops to the floor of the room in a daze.  Rose leaps to join the fight.

Realizing they will fail, the twins call for the minions for "one last dance!"  The minions all reveal their razor wire to try to ignite the gasoline!

Rose reveals her mastery of Storm God's Fury as her blows seem doubly effective against the teeming mass of minions.  At the end of the battle, a final attempt to poison Matt is unleashed but fails and the pair ends with a permanent minor deafness in one ear, which shatters their battle conditions.

The two, defeated, learn to their shock that all three of them were martial arts masters.  David chides them for being eager and not in the right.  Kanto however admits their master will be pleased to know the fight will be interesting.  Rose gives them advice on how to recover from their deafness, despite knowing it is a permanent slight deafness they will have to live with from that day on. As they leave, even the minions walk away, defeated.

Auntie Lo (Qui Yuen)
The other residents are watching them, having witnessed the battle.  They return to their homes, shocked and uncertain how to react to what they just witnessed.  David admits he can't make a fist, as his hand seems to be slightly injured from the fight.  The front gate bangs open and they all turn to see the sudden appearance of Auntie Lo.  The three seize up, worried on how she will react.  Auntie Lo, in her jogging pants and shirt, comes into view with Samantha Wang.  The two look at the three, a bit surprised, and wonders if something had happened.  Rose lies and claims there were rowdy trespassers.  Rose insists they handled it and have left.  Samantha notices David's clenching and unclenching hand.  She tells Auntie Lo that it might be best to go inside.  Auntie Lo agrees.  The three hurry back upstairs.

*

The two figures bow.  They narrated to the Baneful Starving Tiger Dragon how they were defeated and the old man seems pleased.  They ask if there is any way to serve him to make up for their failure.  Mist fills the room.  The old man stares at the setting sun.  He fetches something from his mouth, then places down on the tray a jawbone. "I think, you've served me well."

"Call the sixth ring.  It is their turn tomorrow.  Let's make it more interesting. Call the sixth, the fifth and the fourth ring."

*

Auntie Lo finds Tommy at the window.  She asks if he was peeking at someone again and he tells her about what he witnessed.  As Auntie Lo listens to his story of the fight, she turns to the door and mutters, "So they are here." She pulls back the carpet and reveals an intricate sigil on the ground.  "When my great grand father made this place, he said one day this shall be auspiciously special.  I guess that day has come."  She turns to her son and tells him it is time to tell them that the Hundred Ghost Faction still lives.









 

Monday, August 29, 2016

#RPGaDay - Day31



Embrace failure.  Celebrate weakness.  Perfect is boring.  Houses of the blooded gave me an introduction to shared narrative control and opened my eyes to why a game that last one of the main stats at ZERO was a great design approach.  Weakness reminds the players that they're best working with others.  That at its most basic, a role-playing game is more fun when everyone is social at the table.  While maybe there are some games where paranoia and mistrust are paramount to the game's themes, this does not mean the players at the table should stop engaging with one another for whatever reason. It simply means one must at least make an effort to interact with others, as table top games are not single player experiences.

#RPGaDay
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