Monday, 13 December 2010

Exalted - Forge of Souls - Book 1 - The Road Not Chosen - Prelude


Exalted is a game of epic fantasy set during the Second Age of Man, a time before our own.

 It is an age of magic and adventure, when heroes of legend are reborn into a time of woe. 

At the dawn of the First Age, the gods gave power to men that they might slay the gods' Primordial enemies. Anointed by the gods, these beings were thereafter known as the Exalted. 

The greatest of the Exalted were the Solars, the Chosen of the Unconquered Sun, the mightiest of the gods. So great was their power that, when a Solar died, his power was quickly made manifest in a new individual - a reincarnation of sorts, but into a mature adult rather than a newborn. 

The Exalted triumphed over the enemies of the gods, and in reward, the gods gave the Exalted dominion over the Earth. For a timeless age, the Exalted ruled justly over Creation, and their kingdom was invincible. 

But the enemies of the gods had pronounced a terrible curse against the Exalted. This dark magic ate away at the hearts of the Chosen. The benevolence of the Solars turned to tyranny, and peace turned to civil war. It was prophesied that the madness of the Solars would bring about the destruction of the world. Seeing no other alternative, the lowliest of Exalted, the Dragon-Blooded, murdered the decadent Solar Exalted and locked their souls away. 

And so, a Second Age descended upon Creation. 

The greatest of the gods' servants no longer walked the earth, and the Realm of the Dragon-Blooded was but a shadow of the lost old Realm. Solar Exalted whose power escaped to be reborn were slain by Dragon-Blooded inquisitors known as the Wyld Hunt, and the Realm claimed dominion over Creation. For more than a thousand years the Solar Exalted remained imprisoned and defeated - until now. 

The Scarlet Empress, the Dragon-Blooded ruler of the Realm and controller of the Wyld Hunt, vanished five years ago. Without her might to enforce order in the Realm, the Great Houses of her Scarlet Dynasty have fallen to squabbling over the reins of power. And in this time of crisis, the Solar Exalted have returned. It is as if a gate was opened and the heroes of old rushed through it and returned to the world. 

Your character is among those individuals who have become Solar Exalted. You are a being of legend, as mighty as a demigod and as cunning as an asp. Will you be the savior of Creation or one of the terrible menaces that beset your world?


    The story begins in the village of Wai'hl, in the Kingdom of Kha'cin, Realm of the Grey Tiger. This kingdom is one of many in the region of Creation known as the Scavenger Lands. It lies just east of the Grey River, on a tributary, almost 3 months from the city of Nexus by boat. Kha'cin is a martial city, with it's warriors being called to fight for the Confederation of Rivers against the tyranny of the Realm. Every 5 years a grand tournament is held in the city, in the Circle of Blood, in honour of the patron god, the Grey Tiger, and now that time has come again.



            The kingdom of Kha’cin has stood for over 200 years. Forming from the remains of a previous larger kingdom destroyed by the rampaging hordes of the Arczeckh barbarians of the east the kingdom was brought into being by the work of the ruling bloodline of dragon blooded and the hunter god Kha Alahan.


            Under guidance of these two powers the people of the land repelled the monsters of the forests and the tribes of hyena men to establish a city around the First Age manse known as the Circle of Blood.

            Through the doctrines laid down by the new city god the people of the land became martial, training under the regime and expanding, taking under their wing village and town.

            This new city state laid down a simple manner of faith and promoted self protection and the protection of the weak, taking what they needed of the land and acting as ravenous Tigers in the protection of their land.

            The kingdom in modern times is now bordered by many groups. The main rivals are the Green Thorn of Shadar, the forest dwelling Hyena tribes, the insular people of Shattered Finger, and the mountain monks of the 8 Headed Flame of Furious Tongue.  

            The people of the kingdom of Kah’cin follow a faith not unlike that of the Immaculate Philosophy, and so it is no wonder that they are on good terms with the city of Lookshy to the north.

            The main concept is that one is on the road to enlightenment and that it is only through living life to the fullest and the protection of others may one ascend in essence and become like the Grey Tiger. It is the duty of the people to follow the way of the Tiger and his bloodline and to protect the lands and perform their duty as both Tiger and cub.

            Much of the life of the people of Kha’cin and its villages is simple. Perform ones duty and daily pay respect to the Grey Tiger through ritual, meditation, hunting and practice of the warrior skills.

            In addition the Grey Tiger asks that its people are not drawn from their duty by envious spirits, the restless dead and the demons and anathema.

            Some villages and towns have local gods that may be paid respect to, as these fall under the command of the Grey Tiger, and like he are hunter and martial gods that act as his eyes and ears in the kingdom.


            Kha’cin has a population of around 8000, and boasts one of the last few known First Age manses in the Scavenger Lands that is not in disrepair, the great iron coliseum, The Circle of Blood.

            The city stands along the edges of the river of Khi Alahan, and has a palace sat upon the nearest hill over looking both the coliseum and the river.

            The city is renowned for its fighters who are expert skirmishers and are sent as mercenary forces to Nexus and to the city of Lookshy. The trade mark armour of the city is crimson and gold, reflected in the flags that fly from the towering spires of iron that circle the city in concentric rings. Known as Tiger Fangs these are the first sign of approach to the city of Kha’cin.

The current ruler of Kha’cin Eyes of Clouds Storm, is a master strategist though is peaceful in his old age and soon to make way for his youngest son who is also a dragon blood. His eldest son however is unable to take the throne as he was not born as an exalted.

            The main exports of the city are armour made of the rare metal shards found in the region, Diamond Iron, and the fermented drink known as Tiger Courage, made of rice and Tiger Lily. Other exports are the fine furs found in the region and the bone and ebony trinkets made.

            The primary imports are rare spices and also other fabrics that are not easily made in the region due to the nature of the farm land and river quality.



            The village of Wai’hl lies 9 days travel on foot from Kha’cin, sitting in a valley with thick woods and plentiful crops.

            The village supports around 400 people and is also one of the main sources of the Diamond Iron shards. However due to the rarity of this metal the main exports of the town are its rice wine and Tigers Courage.

            The town is also home to the local god Sapphire Talon, a hawk god and also a god of observation and wisdom. He maintains a shrine in the town centre that is made of the remnants of First Age Diamond Iron tubes, each wrapped around the other in a random manner, though of varying lengths such that all day they sing a pleasant hum on the wind.


Recent History

            20 years ago the Autocrat of Thorns died and in his place the new ruler, his youngest son, took to the throne supported by the might of the Scarlet Empress.

            Aided by the Realm Thorns declared war upon the Confederation of Rivers. 6 years later the forces of Thorns were outmatched and smashed at the Battle of Mishaka.

            Then 5 years ago the Scarlet Empress disappeared and a year later the Mask of Winters made his move upon the city of Thorns, destroying its armies with his mobile citadel Juggernaut, and his forces of the dead.

            With such turmoil the lands of the River Provinces are in chaos as trade routes are broken, forces withdrawn, alliances made and broken.

            Kah’cin has also suffered as takes on the rivers escalate it begins to tax its own people more. The armies are expanded and rivalries flair with Shadar as they claim that Kha’cin had killed one of its generals in readiness for war.




Tuesday, 7 December 2010

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Episode 3 - Skulls - parts 3


      The motley having regrouped with Freki set out to the island of Poveglia. The island lay to the south west tip of the Lido, a wedge shaped island split in half by a canal. The southern tip of the island was the remains of the fort and the rest of the island consisted of the retirement home and hospital, and apparent asylum. On their approach across the cold dark waters of the Venetian lagoon they could see the tower of the old church. From the tower the beam of light from the lighthouse shone out in the dark. To both Venetians and visitors to the city the island of Poveglia is off limits.

      Else piloted the small boat to the docks of the island and the motely disembarked. Before them was the complete darkness of the trees and buildings, save for the lighthouse carving light out into the lagoon. They made their way to the main grounds and began their search for the gateway to the Underworld.

     As they searched the grounds the moans of the dead could be heard. The decaying wooden shutters on the windows flapped about, but it was through the use of Kenning, that ability of those touched by the Fae to perceive the more supernatural and magical, that Freki found the open gateway to the Underworld.

     The gateway was at the foot of the tower, where legend has it that the mad doctor fell to his death, only to be taken by the dead of the island. The gateway was a spiraling staircase of black stone down into the dark. Along the way skulls and bones and candles dotted the pathway. Pieces of Roman and Baroque stone work made up the walls and of course the air within moved as if the entire tunnel was breathing.

      To begin, Sonata, invoking the clause of his Contract of Darkness, clambered down, the others following using torches. Soon enough the tunnel began  to turn and come level, with water appearing at the base of the tunnel until they were following a path along an underwater canal. Shades moved about, not seeing the group, while offerings to the dead sat resided in alcoves. Fungus illuminated the dark and Venitian bridges dotted the canal. It was then that they felt power of the weird bind them to a pledge, and the very power of Death was tied to them. Sonata theorized that if they were bound to death by a pledge did that mean all things die, even the Fae. Soon enough they came to a large opening where there were three routes forward. One smelt of decay and from it flies buzzed. The next had the sounds of parting and the sound of violins. The last had the sounds of screams and the entrance was tiled and stained.

     Unsure which route to take the motley asked a shade nearby. The man was stood on the arch of a bridge and repeatedly hanging himself. Again and again they watched his neck break. The motley approached, and as they questioned him about the man they were seeking and the woman he became interested in the earrings of Clio. In exchange for the information she handed over the green jewelry and he directed them to the hospital, via the tunnel of stained tiles.

     The tunnel to the hospital was like any corridor in a hospital. But it was darker, the smell of iodine and bile. It was lined with the rusting doors to other rooms from which the dead wailed. Lights flickered and beds lay over turned. At the end of the tunnel they found an enormous cavern. Before them was what looked like a dry river bed. As they approached they could feel the cold air from it and soon it was clear that it was a river of ice cold clear water. On the over side of the wide river were the twisting concrete spires of the hospital. From the highest tower light shone out like a lighthouse. From even this distance the motley could hear the mad screams of the patients.

      Sonata could hear the moans of chanting from nearby. He edged along the bank of the river and found another small cave. Within was a host of monks and priests. They preformed numerous prayers, a mad priest with stitched lips groaned from the lectern. The walls were adorned with images of from all faiths. Those praying were doing so until they bled from hands and head and lips. Sonata, overcome by what he saw fled the scene and returned to the motley.

      Meanwhile Freki and Stitches had tasted the cold waters of the river. Unknown to them it was the river of fate, something the Freki remembered from her life before her abduction. Both saw images of their future. Stitches witness the hordes of the dread Fae, Commodore Fathom, with his mandible, lobster like face and his ship the Leviathan. He also saw the bloodied and butchered figure of the Spring Courtier, Malvolio, and a sense of the blade being in his own hands and a sense of justice. Freki also had similar visions. She saw the shattering of a clock made of bones and of her being taken by two crow faced changelings.

      Soon a boat approached, a gondola piloted by a skeletal figure wearing old Renaissance armor. He offered them passage so long as they returned a book from the living world for him.


Monday, 6 December 2010

Son of Heaven - Volume 1 of the Chung Kuo epic | Chung Kuo


About Chung Kuo | Chung Kuo

Chung Kuo means ‘Middle Kingdom’, and since 221 bc, when the first emperor Ch’in Shih Huang Ti, unified the seven Warring States, it is what the Han, or Chinese, have called their great country.

For them Chung Kuo was the whole world; a world bounded by insurmountable mountain chains to the north and west, by the sea to east and south. Beyond lay only desert and barbarism.

And so it was for two thousand years, through sixteen great dynasties.

But then, from the far west came young, aggressive nations with superior weaponry and an unshakable belief in progress and change. It was, to the surprise of the Han, an unequal contest and China’s myth of supreme strength and self-sufficiency was shattered.

By the early twentieth century, China was the sick old man of the East, the future, it was assumed, belonged to the West. But from the disastrous ravages of the century grew a giant of a nation, capable of competing with the West from a position of incomparable strength.

The twenty-first century, ‘the Pacific Century’ as it was known even before it began, saw China become once more a world unto itself, but this time its only boundary was space.

This is the story of what happens next...

I think I have one birthday present idea worked out.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Episode 3 - Skulls - parts 1 & 2

      It was the New Year, 2010, and Stitches was at church. It was Sunday, and mass had finished. Stitches often came to church in order to seek some form of forgiveness for the sins he committed during his time in Arcadia.

      That day, however, was different. Stitches mind was distracted by the mounting number of deaths. The Rib Thief had struck 9 times in total, and the riddles and clues made little sense. Stitches knew he needed some insight into the events. And so, knowing the power of the Wyrd, Stitches committed himself to his next course of action.

      Stitches’ local church was that of San Salvador. The priest, Tommaso, was in his late 40s and one of the more forgiving priests that Stitches had met. Asking for privacy, Stitches and Tommaso spoke first of the strange deaths that had been occurring around Venice, to which Tommaso acknowledged that he knew that some had in fact occurred near a number of churches. It was then that Tommaso revealed to Stitches the meaning of the stars and the alchemical symbol of the sun. He told Stitches that it referred to Titian, the great painter of Venice, known by the verse from Dante’s ‘The Divine Comedy’ as the ‘Sun amidst small stars’. So in some way the painter Titian is related to the deaths.

      Stitches, finally spoke to Tommaso of something more strange, of demons and angels. He asked if Tommaso was willing to see the world for what it was, to see the truth, and so help Stitches repent for the sins he has made. With that Stitches held the hand of Tommaso, and recited the words of a pledge, binding Tommaso and himself into a pact of honesty and trust. With that Tommaso looked upon Stitches with new eyes. He could see how thin and frail  looking Stitches really is. He could see his pointed ears, and the stitches that criss-crossed his body. Tommaso was stunned and over the next hour Stitches explain what happened, and Tommaso realised there were many others who he might need to help.

     There was then a scream from within the church, and Tommaso and Stitches raced out to see a man dragging another of the church congregation, a woman called Veronica, away and out of the side entrance of the church. Stitches raced after the man. He followed the screams to a side alley where he watched the man, a strange fellow with a trimmed beard and desperate eyes. He kept a knife to Veronica’s throat and as he stepped backwards he disappeared with her, fading into the wall. Stitches called upon his Fae eyes, he peered behind the veil of reality. Where the wall stood was a gateway, into a dark tunnel. It smelt awful and there was the sound of rats and the buzzing of flies. But where ever it led to it wasn’t the Hedge. Stitches then around and there waiting was a man with long blond hair and a leather biker jacket. Stitches could see that he had a shadowy figure nearby, covered in nets and barnacles.




      Elsewhere in Canneragio, Sonata was sat outside a café, sipping at an abandoned drink. He loked up and sat across from him was an old man. The man looked pale and passed to Sonata a photo of a woman. He said to Sonata to save her, and then as Sonata looked up he was gone.

      Sonata began to ask around about the woman, and it turned out she lived locally, as did her grand father. Sonata eventually tracked down the apartments where the old man lived, and broke in. he found it dusty and abandoned, as if it hadn’t been lived in for months. He looked about until he stopped in the bathroom. The mirror steamed up and a message was written in it. ‘Save her’ it said. Sonata left, knowing he needed the others t make sense of this.




      Freki had been running errands, it was the only way to keep her mind of the fact that she was being haunted by crows flowing her. She tracked down Sonata and together they went looking for Stitches. They eventually ended up at the San Salvador church and found the police there. They asked around, knowing Stitches went to church there, and they found out that the woman they were looking for was the one who had been kidnapped. They were then approached by Father Tommaso, who spoke to them as if he knew what they were. They seemed puzzled and asked after Stitches, and then they realized that Stitches had reveal the truth to Tommaso.




      At the Teatro Fenice, Stitches and Ralph were at the entrance to the House of Autumn. Stitches was surprised by a number of things. That Ralph knew of the House, and that Ralph also knew of the key to open the door to the House. Inside they met Codexial, and they discussed how Ralph knew the House of Autumn, and that he was what was known as one of the Bound. They also discussed the missing woman, that a gate to the Underworld had been opened, and that Ralph had come across a ghost of one of the dead killed by the Rib Thief. They ghost spoke of ‘Sine Sole Sileo’. Stitches recognised this as ‘Sins souls lie’. But the version Ralph knew meant something more. ‘I am silent without light’. With another verse that they had learnt from a victim, Stitches realized that it referred to a sun dial. But how did a sun dial and the work of Titian, and ribs fit together he wondered? Furthermore, Codexial informed them that they had found something of importance in the diary of one of the victims. It was a rhyme or riddle.

   ‘We all stand on the field of battle at Marostica. None can take first blood, such is our honor, such is our law. We are the armies of day and night.’

     Codexial explained that the town of Marostica lay to the no
rth of the Veneto, renowned for it's human sized chess board.

      Soon Freki and Sonata arrived and in time Clio and Else. Else had been repairing a boat for Etiene Epee, a knight of the House of Summer. In passing he mentioned that another of the House of Winter had turned up, murdered, and that the night patrols would be upped to find the killer, but that Else should keep and eye out

     Else informed the motley that she had also seen some other strange things in the Museo Correr. She had gone to research the creation of astrolabes, globes and other devices for the studying of the stars. It was here that she witnessed a strange being, seemingly unseen by the tourists. It was like a large fly, with translucent skin, and with skin, tattered, trailing as if it were wearing some cape. However, when it was almost spotted it morphed and turned to stone, nothing more than another piece of Greek stone work from the ancient times.

     With the motley gathered they learned that Ralph and his krewe deal with ghosts on a pretty regular basis, but that his team were off on other business and that he had to stay to deal with the coming Carneval and the issues with the two ghostly doges. He explained that in the south of Venice cases of illness due to what looks like the plague, had been increasing. He suggested that for them to work out what was going on and to save the woman that perhaps they were best off going to the Casino Degli Spiriti, the House of the Spirits, and consult with the ghosts that gather there.




     That night at the House of the Spirits, the troupe prepared to enter. They had approached from the north on boat, the house looks out onto the lagoon, and has always had legends about ghosts and spirits and murders.

    The motley stood outside the gardens of the House. It was dark and foggy and cold, and the house looked imposing and with a life of its own. Wooden shutters flapped in the wind. Else reached out and touched the lock of the garden gate and the lock crumbled and the gate swung open and squeaking hinges. The motley headed in led by Stitches, with Else bringing up the rear. With each step they were bombarded with strange sensations. Crows gathered, voices whispered for them to leave, statues moved, and Else saw visions of her time in Arcadia, the experiments and the pain and the abuse. She was wracked with pain and she became panicked.

     The haunting ended and at the door to the house a figure in 16th century garbed wave to them to enter. In the house they watched ghost of all periods, and in all states, dancing to the tune of the ghostly waltz. Their host offered them drink, food and entertainment, and then after some time, he spoke of the island of Poveglia, the plague which he lived through, the mad doctor and the asylum. If there is a gate to the Underworld and something to do with the plague it makes sense it would be that one that is open since old ghosts, the plague dead, have been seen wondering Venice, hungry. 

Friday, 19 November 2010

Vampire: the Requiem - The Endless Waltz - Dimitri

So here I'll let Sam explain her character for Vampire.
OK, this is the DEFINITIVE, Wiki-style guide to my Vampire character, Dimitri. He's a Daeva Carthian. I wanted to post this prior to any future games we do, because a) the character has had some adjustments made to his backstory, and b) you guys just have to know how COOL he is. It has pictures (courtesy of the lovely Ben Barnes, who basically is the doppelganger of Dimitri in real form, and also the guy I would choose to play Dimitri any day of the week). Enjoy. This bitch is HOTTTTT.


Monday, 15 November 2010

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Episode 2 - Clay - part 3

   In the park Sonata had summoned the power of his contracts. Fog and darkness now enveloped him and he approached the statue where Stitches was held down, in pain. Sonata, from his hiding spot, began to spook the men using his guitar. The shrill tune caused them to split up. The fog allowed Sonata to move forward, and in the near dark he struck. Freki and Else soon arrived and as Sonata had finished with the first of the men, they began to hear screams from another two off them. Something in the night had also attacked.


   At the party Clio awoke to find her clothes in disarray. She adjusted them and smartened herself up, not realising that Malvolio was watching. He left with a grin, and remarked that it had been a good show, leaving behind a rose and some polaroids of her and Mercutio.


   The screams of the men came thick and fast until there was just one remaining. A single hunter still stood with Stitches, his gun with the changeling in its sights. The Cheshire Cat stalked the fog and darkness and leaped toward Else. She took a minor cut to her arm from the Beast's claws before Freki intervened. The aura of the statue drove her onwards, and the beast in her awoke, and tore at the cat person. The two scrabbled on the ground fighting like animals. Claws tore and cut, teeth snapped and fur and blood mixed. Soon though Freki regained her composure. The Cheshire Cat was before her, crying. He wanted no more fighting. He kept saying he didn't want to go back. Over and over again.

   As the two animals fought Stitches took the chance to rush the hunter. His wounded knee hampered his efforts as they grappled for the gun, leaving Stitches to try and escape and take cover. A single gun shot was fired, hitting Stitches in the shoulder. Stitches slumped against the statue, smearing the thing with his own blood. Sonanta, fearing the worst, opened the music box and all sounds were consumed by it. He sneaked right up to the hunter, and with out waiting, slit his throat. Closing the music box, Sonata found that although sound had returned, he could not speak. The hurriedly disposed of the bodies in the nearby canal, and grabbing Stitches and the Cheshire Cat they headed to the Teatro Fenice.



   At the theatre Stitches was taken to the infirmary and ate a good number of the juicy, meaty, mapples, while hie knee was patched up. He would be limping for a few weeks. The Cheshire Cat was slung into a cell. Mad Dog was present, and he debriefed the motley. He revealed that the statue was what was known as an Innamorta, and that the House of Autumn would for now try and keep mortals away from it's influence. The events of this evening being already a good warning. As for the Cheshire Cat, his madness had been a useful tool to the House of Autumn to scare people, but that time is up and now the House of Autumn will do all they can to recover his broken mind.

    However, Mad Dog reveals more information regarding the deaths. There are now 9 bodies in total. The 1st body has finally been found and in the diary of this missing person the police found a strange verse from the Bible. 


Revelations 5:7-9 ‘He came and received the scroll from the right hand of the one who sat on the throne. When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones. They sang a new hymn: "Worthy are you to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation.’


Thursday, 28 October 2010

Assassin's Creed: the Roleplay Game

Concept: Either Templar or Assassin's order agents, using the Anima technology to delve into genetic memories to find the truth of historical events in order to act within the future on that information.


  • Historians write history books, not the truth.
  • In what way is the Animus a shared virtual experience? Do Animus interactions influence the past. Do all users experience the same history or just their own consensual version?
  • Fear the future. 2012 is coming and the Creators knew this was coming. What do the Templars want? Control? Power? To use religion over truth?


  • Race against time - the End of Days.
  • History is a lie
  • Shadow War

How it would work?

The game has two layers. The first is the real world. Here the agents of each group are working against each other to find and use devices and places of power left from before the fall. This is all against the backdrop of the coming end times of 2012. In order to find and use these places and devices the agents must fight against each other.

Initially it is assumed that the Animus is just a simulation of events in order to allow users to 'synchronise' with the genetic memories so that they can learn the truth and the skills of their ancestor. Users using the Animus together can share the same simulation. However, in ACII it is shown that a user can hack the Animus and leave behind information. Now in ACII Desmond is able to access these hacked memories in both the initial Animus in Abstergo, and the Animus 2.0 used by Desmond later, he is able to gain access to the same memories. This then presents the issue of how memories are hacked. Can users in unlinked machines influence the memories of each other? Is it possible to meet each other in the virtual realm of the Animus? Does this mean that DNA is a big quantum computer for access?

This means agents can fight each other both in memories and the real world.

Add to the mix that the Ancients, the Creators, have a level of prescience, and are able to communicate with Desmond through the memories of Ezio.

Some inspiration and explanations here

So this mixes and element of history, Matrix style VR, conspiracy, spying and aliens and tech.


Wednesday, 27 October 2010

OK Gandalf, sell me on this trip to Mordor? Is it like Butlins?

      God I have had this sat on my posterous ready to write for a while. Life - that meaty real thing we exist in - has gotten in the way of this blog to a certain degree. Mainly these articles.

      So what the hell am I going to rant about next? What seeds of inspiration can I give you? What insights into the games I have run? This time it is Gandalf and his ilk. And by this I mean the ever present old man/CEO/captain/commander who tells the party of players where high adventure (and more importantly plot and thus 'shit to do') lies. This is my love letter to those wise men and suits giving the orders.


      When you get your players together, you have to think, how the hell do I even get them to chase after the story of my game. Each person, hopefully, has a well developed background for their character and this is laden with plot hooks to use. The very hooks that when a player spots it in game will get distracted and announce 'Fuck you guys! Plot lies that a' way!', and then proceed to head of on their own quest. This is great. It means the game feels alive as each player character pursues their own goals and desires. But there are times when the plot needs a unified goal, something that all the players will work towards. This is hard. If you, like me, want to have the feeling of not rail roading the players to 'The plot!' then you may just have to deal with the fact the players may just not want to deal with the steaming pile of crap you have set up on the horizon. They are no fools and can smell a turd from a mile away. And this is where Gandalf and his cronies come in. Those vile NPCs who give the players good reason to go routing about in that cesspit.

      Back in the day of my first DnD game I ran, and stuff like Star Wars, my 'Gandalf' was pretty obvious. Some self important person who has a very good reason for the player troupe to go off and take the mission on. It may well be some monetary reason, or something the players are all fighting towards (saving the kingdom/galactic empire etc). But there comes a point when you desire the players to be more proactive. Soon every self important old guy is a 'Gandalf' festooned with plot. Or at least that is what the players come to expect. This was something I wanted to break out of. I wanted the players to figure out what was important and pursue these goals themselves, and not really on the 'Gandalf' and his cattle prod.

     It was while running Vampire: the Requiem (a chronicle I have now run twice and similar results were achieved) that I used the idea of the 'Gandalf' that would in fact back stab the players. Not because the 'Gandalf' was inherently evil, but just that he had his own plans. As up and coming neonates the players would learn that trust is a rare commodity, and this would be the ultimate lesson it trust. It would also show the importance of knowledge and being proactive (something my wife did well at, even going as far as double crossing the entire coterie and their boss and selling them out to the other side!). They even found other 'Gandalfs' that they didn't trust that in fact turned out to be good allies.

     In comparison, when running Fading Suns, the 'Gandalf' was light years away, having sent them on their mission across the stars. They had a mission, with a few caveats, but otherwise they were open to how they achieved it. This allowed me to introduce other more temporary 'Gandalf' like characters that they could choose to ignore if they wished. Again this allowed the players to pursue the main mission, their own goals, and even take up other jobs if it meant that they gain something form of extra leverage in their main missions.

     Now, in Changeling, things are quite different. Changeling: the Lost has very obvious player goals from the outset. They don't want to go back to Arcadia and the Fae. They want some form of their old life back (or perhaps something better). They may want revenge or to learn the secrets of the Fae. Either way this means the players come with a lot of their own goals and plot hook on which I can run the game. Now the 'Gandalf' types I have suffer from many shades of grey, so it has come down to the players to really determine what things they are pursuing plot wise, and who to trust. This of course lends itself well to the setting of Changeling where the society of the players revolves around pledges and contracts.

    Ultimately the use of the 'Gandalf' has to be done. You need to present plot. But there are ways to make this more interesting than the typical 'You go into the bar and a old man comes to you asking for your help'. Trust is the first thing to play with. Then there are the player movtivations and character goals. Lastly, a trick I look forward to using, is to make one of the characters the 'leader' and make them set the goals of the group. This may come into practice during my next part of my Vampire setting, where we do a sequel to the last chronicle and bring back one of the old player characters to be team leader.


    So Gandalf? Who do you deal with the pipe smoking old git?

Friday, 8 October 2010

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Episode 2 - Clay - part 2

      The motely met up at the Devil's Forest pub later that evening. They were able to discuss what had happened, with Stitches putting together what Little John and Clio knew. It seemed that they had to find this 'eye thief' and it seemed that some sort of pledge or contract was being used since the Wyrd was wrapped around the events. Clio decided she wanted to go back to see Malvolio and discuss this book of names he has asked her to find. Stitches also informed them that another body had been found with ribs missing. This now made a whole 7 bodies. This one was found with 'VI' inscribed on their head and the same verse. But also, as Little John had informed him, there was more. The deceased had drawn with their own blood what turned out to be the alchemical symbol for the sun, and helium, surrounded with 9 stars with the word 'Paridiso'. Clio knew this related to Dante's 'Inferno' since it was the name of a chapter of the book. Else decided to go to the House of Autumn to use the library for some research, and have a look at the location where she was apprehended, as it seemed the men were able to see past the mask. Sonata and Freki went with her to look for clues while Stitches headed to the public gardens to figure out what was causing the unrest.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Episode 2 - Clay - part 1

      It was the 20th of December, and Christmas was just around the corner, but also so was the Winter Solstice. The House of Winter had it's own particular way of celebrating this event, and of course with Christmas being soon over, the period of Carnival would begin.

      The motely were all involved in their own work. Clio was rushed off her feet at the Florian, Stitches was working at the pharmacy, Else was enjoying some roasted chestnuts, Sonata was busking and helping himself to half eaten food left about in the Christmas markets, and Freki was out doing deliveries.


Else made her way through the streets of Venice, from now where she was set upon and dragged into and alleyway where two men held her and put a dagger to her throat. They called her a freak, and knew what she was. They wanted to know where all the eyes were. Else was confused and so decided her best hope was to lead them into an ambush, using her command of contracts to cause a deep seat fear within them as she spoke of whom they were to meet. Else then began to lead them to Stitches' shop.


      Meanwhile Clio, taking a break out the back of the Florian overheard cries for help, and what sounded like a fight. She rushed over to see a man beating a woman. Clio called for help and tried to stop the man. He fell to the ground and then looked back at her. His eyes were suddenly gone and Clio could see scratches all around the eye sockets.


Monday, 27 September 2010

Sonata Background

Etienne Dreaux was born in the outskirts of New Orleans in 1907. Born the sixth son in a moderatly wealthy family he soon realised his futures would lie elsewhere. Bored of being overlooked in the family run company, He left to find his fortunes in the city. Dazzled by the bright lights, yet with no fortune to call his own, Etienne moved into a series of squats around the city's more shadier districts. It was there that he fell in with a crowd introducing him to the growing New Orleans jazz scene. He found a natural aptitude for a number of instruments including the guitar and piano and started to start a career as a fledgling musician. As time went by, Etienne began to make a name for himself, playing in many of the less legitimate estiblishments around the citys red light district, reveling in the bohemian nature of the scene. In an age where many struggled to find work, Etienne had a steady income, yet he squandered his earnings on excess and would often find himself sleeping rough in one of the many unemployment camps that dotted the city. It was here he learned to steal, often taking what little money the unfortunate souls of the camp had to fund his nights of debauchery, he soon found he had made many enemies in the city. This life style could only last so long and one night Etienne collapsed while on stage. Disgusted at his state, the bouncers left him beat up in an alley, slumped against a cold wet drain. This was the last thing Etienne remembered of his old life.

Etienne woke up in a world devoid of light and sound. It was as if only his concious remained, floating in the void. This world without sense and stimulation was as aneathema to former hedonist. He rebeled at first, desperate to scream out, yet without a physical body there was little he could do. Over time his mind slowly numbed as he accepted his fate, slipping in and out of conciousness without any way of telling the passage of time. He lingered there for what felt like centuries. 

And so when the sound came there was nothing he could do to resist it. Torrents of emotion rushed into his adled mind, twisting him as if but a puppet as the rapturous cacophony shock him to the soul. And then it was gone, leaving him in the darkness once again. 
This cycle would repeat, years of emptyness followed by intence burst of euphoric ectacy or the darkest of torments. The emotions weren't his, for this he was sure the sound was contorting him to its will. However after each time, the sound would leave him stronger and he began to long for the music to come. What at first appeared to be simply riotous noise began to fall into place and he began to understand the complex patterns that wove together. During his times of solitude he would go over the molodies each one invigorating him further until one day he simply screamed out. The sound, although pale in comparison broke the darkness and he felt a part of himself return, a hazy after image of his former self. It was as if his body was composed of swirling smoke, constantly trying to condence itself into its former shape. Although as faint as mist,  he now at least had form and Etienne felt him self fall through the darkness and tangle in the hedge. In a mad panic he tore at the vines and eventually found his way through to the mortal realm.

Reinventing himself as Sonata there are few people alive who remember his former life. Yet old archives and records of his footage can be found and continue to taunt Sinatre of the life that he lost. Although he has found some normalacy he still feels that he left most of himself back in the fey darkness and life feels like a numb shadow of his former self. Though he still tries, the drink and drugs no longer affect him like they used to, and he finds music is the only thing which seems to keeps his soul condenced. Perhaps if he can better understand the music that gave him back his form he might be able to become whole again and take revenge on his hidden captor.

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Sunday, 26 September 2010

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Episode 1 - Promises - part 3

      The motely were once more in the hallway of the building of one of the previous victims. Their investigation was not over yet as they planned to go to the square where the the female suicide was last seen. Freki joined them there and they filled her in on what they had discovered. Asking around at the bars that opened up onto the square they discovered that the suicide had left with a local man, Cicero, and with a little more time they discovered the Cicero lived in a block of flats near the Ghetto. On the TV they heard that a boat had gone missing, but with the weather being so poor it was impossible for the police to find it.


      The motely arrived at the block of flats where Cicero lived. Something was wrong, it smelt bad. outside the flat some dogs were barking and scratching at a door where the garbage bags for the flat were kept. Freki called upon her contracts and spoke to the Pomeranian in the pack. It spoke, as dogs do, of little that made sense. but Freki did work out that in the garbage there was meat, a different meat. More than likely the remains were a persons. Opening the door to the garbage they found numerous bags, and Stitches had a root about. He finalyl came upon a bag that to his trained eye contained human bones. They had been gnawed upon and the marrow sucked out. Stitches ran out and found a place to vomit.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Totra Kadlinsdottir - aka Freki

Everyday Life


The Taking

Constantly being a child under-foot, Totra was ordered to keep out of the way by family whilst preparing for Midsummers Eve. After escaping to the local woods, she befriended a fae who promised to play with her forever, if only she went to their 'home'. Home was Arcadia, and the lifetime of play was to be experienced through the eyes of a dog.


The Escape

Before the Escape, Totra never really thought of escape - thinking her family hated her, after twisting her own memory to think her parents dumped her with the fae - she thougt she had no-where to go. As she was taken so young, Totra had forgotten about the world of her birth and had melded the world of the Fae with the few memories she had left. It was only after she was sent on a mission to a place outside of her master's created kingdom, that she learnt of the rest of the Fae world. More and more she was sent on messenger missions to other Fae for her master, and through this she began to learn about the hedge and what lay beyond it. Typical of those who hear of stories of exotic lands, she craved to see it, until one day - after a particularly violent beating - she made her escape while on her next mission out of the twisted copy of Asgard, searching for a means to the hedge. On her journey, she came across bands of changelings making their way to the hedge, which eventually grew into river of people leading to a hedgemarket, where she made the final leg of her escape into venice - a world so different to her any she'd known before.

For now, she occupies and abandoned warehouse squat along with Sonata. With both being homeless, and after the creation of their motley, she leant Sonata the use of her warehouse den and scant belongings - A filthy sofa rescued from a skip and many washingline-aquired blankets, along with a rudimentary gas stove and water bucket. Technology scares her still.

??? How old are you?

Chronologically: 1125 - Physically: early 20s

When were you born? 

885 AD British Isles during Anglo-Saxon habitation

How long were you in Faerie? 

Seemingly about 15 years. She aged while she was in Fae to match the time she experienced there.

Is your fetch the same age and appearance as you?

After 1100 years, the fetch is long-gone

??? What do you look like?

What color is your hair? 

Sandy coloured, choppy and scruffy, mottled in places.

How do you dress? 

Unfashionable, but practical clothing. Some seems homemade and roughly patched - gives the appearance of a gypsy. 

Do you have distinguishing marks? 

Faint Facial tattooing resembling a stylised wolf skin pattern in small dots and thin lines around eyes and bridge of nose. Pierced ears, stretched with found objects - ranging from centuries old glass, smoothed by the waters of venice, to abandoned keyrings and other tat. 

What does your seeming look like?

Sharp teeth and a slightly protruding face, clawed hands and feet (not as far as paws though...), Pointy tufty ears that look half-way between Human and wolf, short tufty hair that grows down the side of the face, neck and upper arms slightly with a little bit around the elbows. Light-colored eyes. Medium height and a scrawny, almost emaciated look (think Machinist) with sallow skin - at a quick glance, looks a bit like a skag-addict. Is constantly afflicted with fleas.

??? What was your existence in Faerie like?

Who was your Keeper?

A fae masquerading as Odin. He had an incredibly un-healthy obsession with norse mythology and demanded to be seen as Odin, who he saw as leader of the gods. To complete his look, he took young children of nordic descent and manipulated them into Odin's entorage - some being twisted into avatars of the other gods, and a select few, like Totra, into Odin's wolves 'Freki' and 'Geri' - and his ravens 'Hunin' and 'Munin'. He took a horse and stretched it's very being into Sleipnir, a literal version of the 8-legged horse, and made his kingdom as a hideous representation of Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life.


Was he or she capricious, or cruel or sympathetic? 

Like a demonic master to a pet who has the misfortune of being used as a minion and experiment.

Were you a favorite servant, or despised? 

Favoured servant - sent out on errands and severely punished if not done correctly or quick enough. 

Does your seeming reflect your Keeper???s nature, or were you shaped to some other purpose?

Shaped to represent Freki, the true Odin's messenger wolf - but a bastardised form.

??? What are your motivations?

Do you want to regain your mortal life? 

It's too late for that. Although the shock of seeing the world today, and not being able to adjust to the new way, she gets by the best she can, pretty secretly. She's looking for revenge against the fae, and spends most of her waking time tracking down potential allies and dealing with potential threats.

How do you react to changeling society? 

She'll stick around as they're the only family she has, but she doesn't care much for the politics. She doesn't get on with most Changelings as they continue to treat her like an unwanted dog, which is still better than in Fae. Fortunately, her motley aren't afraid or disgusted by her looks - or at least hide it if they are.

Do you wish to be ???cured???? 

Never really thought about it. After being one way for so long, it's hard to turn your back on that. To 'cure' would take away the only powers left to her to live.

Is there a rival you want to defeat? 

Ultimately, 'Odin', but he's steriotypically overly powerful(?? rubbish...) For now she's trying to avoid direct confrontation with him, trying to avoid the 'Geri', 'Hugin' and 'Munin' avatars, paranoid they're out to find her.

A lover you want to woo?

not particularly - who'd want to woo a mangey wolf? There's a limit...


I have in mind a one shot of Cthulhutech where you are a team of mecha pilots


Here is some inspiration.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Fading Suns - Space Opera with Boundaries


      In a not so distant future (relatively speaking if we are comparing to other Space Opera settings such as Warhammer 40,000 and Dune) Humanity has conquered numerous worlds thanks to the gigantic space gates. However, as with all things, there is hubris and so worlds have been lost, technology forgotten and science and magic blur in a future that seems to be at the end of time.

      At the writing of this Red Brick are in charge of sorting out a 3rd edition of a game originally created by Holisitic Designs (Some may recognise the style of art and writing from White Wolf. You'd be correct as the excellent Bill Bridges of Mage: the Awakening put this baby together). This means my books are a copy of the defunct 1st edition and all my books in pdf form (and I printed these suckers out, thank the gods for university book binding). If you are lucky you can find some of the books for sale in FLGS or online. In Paris I almost got a French edition since the French are happily still printing new material for the game.

      So what is Fading Suns? For starters it is science fantasy. There are starships, giant jump gates (more recently seen in Stargate thanks to the Ori), a lack of faster than light travel save for these jump gates, demons, psionics and theurgy. You have ancient noble houses, a form of interstellar unified church, Dune like shield fighting, an Empire racked with infighting, intrigue and superstition, and a ancient guild of technology.

     What does this all mean in play and why do I like this? OK lets talk the system, the much debated Victory Point System. This looks like, feels like and works a little like the old Storytelling system pre-new World of Darkness. You have an attribute and skill stat. Add them, that's the target. Modify it and roll under on a D20. But the twist is the higher you roll, so long as it is under the target, gives you a greater degree of success. I really like this as it then has a system for raising and lowering the target number so that you can have a) more chance of success but less degree of success, or b) less chance for success but a greater degree of success. So the system favours risk. Now the only gripe is the lamentable critical failure, where a roll of 20 is a critical fail no matter what. Now one mod often seen to remove the 1/20 chance of this is to use a 2D10 roll instead, making a natural 20 less likely (1/100) and giving a smoother range of results.

     Character creation is equally more interesting with a form of career path system, where you choose to belong to one of the big three factions (church, nobles, guild) or the few alien races, and these in turn give you options on the character career progression. So for example you could be a noble, be you need to answer questions about the strata they were born into, how their school was, and what they did after that. All of these options mean you get access to some skills over others, before a final few points are given over to the player to distribute to even out the character. Now you can do this all by points and throw out the career paths, but of course having a speedy way to make characters is good.

      With the system out of the way what about the setting? Why not play Star Wars? Why not Play WH40K? Well Fading Suns does a few things right. It's not too far in the future, making it easy to grasp and getting into as a player. Plus the focus is on purely human characters, unlike Star Wars, so it has that Firefly feel, but where the Western is replaced with the Dark Ages. But the best things about the setting? THe mythology and the inherent boundaries that are present.

      Fading Suns works on the premise that the jump gates are ancient tech from a race that no longer exists. That makes that technology something to seek out. But also the gates are activated by keys, at least ones that humanity had created. And so there is this wonderful feeling of caravans in space where guild ships guide others through jump gates to the next world. The other thing about the setting is the mysticism and feeling of the end of times. Fading Suns has the jump gates, which allow transport from one star system to another, no matter how far apart they are in real space. So stargates then. Well the stars themselves, all stars, are dimming. Yes before they are meant to, and in a way that opposes the rules of relativity and how light travels in space and nuclear fusion.Mad eh? So of course the Church and other faiths have a reason for all this (sin and demons etc).

      What about the church? Well it seems all the old faiths of Earth combined when a man found the Universal Flame (God of some form) when travelling space. But, of course, the Church is split into rival factions and each has it's own twist on faith. Add into the mix other mystics, the faith of alien races, and the issue with jumping through gates and the experience you feel if not shielded, and you have the perfect situation for tales about faith, hope, demons, sin, and the very nature of the universe as miracles are uncovered and science, faith and magic clash.

      One thing that is important about Fading Suns is the limitations of the setting. The setting has a system of known jump gate routes and the linked worlds are the Empire. There are worlds beyond these that once were part of the larger known universe, but they have been forgotten, or war has led to them being shut off. So straight away the ST running the game has a setting to run and no fear of being dropped in the deep end and having to come up with world after world like in Star Wars (it was such a daunting task). You can still do it for lost worlds where you can go exploring, but the inherent limitations make this task more manageable. It also means the game lends itself well to various levels of gameplay, be it courtly on one world, or flying to others, or even going beyond the boundaries of known space. For all these reason I love the game and suggest if you are tired of those well known Sci Fi games then you should pick this up for something that feels more mature.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

My Gaming Area



So what about where I game?


      Above is a picture of my lovely wife sat at home. This is really half of the room. Behind me (from the viewpoint of the picture) is the kitchen area, and so is just lots of white cupboards.

      As you can see from the picture we have around about a 10X12 feet sqrd room. There is a balcony and our that sofa from IKEA (just fits two people). So with the tv there is really only space for people to sit as the room would feel quite cluttered. Recently we moved an office chair in as we'd like to get another proper chair to sit in front of the radiator. The walls themselves have various images and artefacts of Venice so lending to the style of the room. The bookcase is home to many graphic novels, art books, and on top sits a model of the Black Pearl along with some War Machine miniatures. 

     So for gaming the majority of the players are cushioned on the floor. the ST screen is set up on the floor to hide dice rolls and for me to look at for reference, while I sit in the office chair, looming over the other players. So things are focused (on me), with the players in an arc about me. Without a table things are more relaxed as the players lie about, rolling dice and sipping their drinks (coffee, tea, beer, wine). We normally have a ipod dock set up with about 3 hours of music in a play list chosen for the game (soundtracks are great things for the game) and candles are lit as we often play in the evening, so we usually put on the dimmest of lights in room while others are turned off. Being sat about in such a free form space also allows for a degree of improvised acting if needed and also makes conversations much more relaxed and intimate, rather than rigid if we had a table present. It would be good if all players had a proper seat, but the logistics are a nightmare with such a small flat.

     My ideal gaming space would be the same, but without the kitchen interfering. I like having a room that can vary in the amount of light it can have, not be too distracting, have space for players to relax, and allows for mood music. Comfort is the friend of good roleplay. I'd prefer darker walls, but such is the way of living in rented flats. 


    What's your gaming space like?

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Episode 1 - Promises - part 2

      Perplexed by the death of the man the motley headed to the Teatro Fenice and the House of Autumn, while Clio headed to the Ca da' Mosto and the House of Spring. There they headed straight up into the roof of the building and entered the hallow, using the particular knock that they knew and allowing the door to recognise their mantle. In the dusty and dark library of the hallow the troupe met Athena, a member of Codexial's motley, the Library of the Lion. Athena was a large eyed woman, her mien showing that she was more like an owl. She swooped down from the upper levels of the library and listened to the motley. She informed them that the House of Autumn did have information with regard to this case. She explained that the Watchmen were aware of the issue but had not yet looked into it as the police seemed to be doing a good job of keeping it under the carpet. Athena gave the motley a folder of information and photos that the Watchmen had gathered so far. There were 3 other victims, all similarly scratched, all suicides. One was a family man, the previous victim. He had slashed his wrists in the bathroom. He had left behind a wife and daughter. The other two vicitims, another man and a woman, had all gone missing after a night out with friends. The woman had drowned herself while the man had jumped from his flat. All lived in and around the Ghetto area.





      At the Ca da' Mosto, Clio entered the Hedge and to the House of Spring. The run down building gave way to the magnificent hallow. It was a palace, covered in statues, drapes of plum and lime, the sound of singing and music, and light dappled in from above through the tallest vines of the Hedge.

Friday, 10 September 2010

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Episode 1 - Promises - part 1

      Late at night a couple are in bed making love. Later we see them asleep. One wakes up and leaves the room, while the other, a woman, is left there, eye open, panting, pinned to the bed by some invisible force. Terror flickers across her face and we hear the wardrobe door creak open.


      It was morning, and the snow was thin on the ground. Else, sat in her overalls, was outside a cafe in Cannaregio, sipping a coffee as she took a break from fixing boats. She was near to the church of the Madonna dell'Orto. There was a commotion as staggering through the streets came a young man. He was naked, and he was covered in scratches. Every inch of his body was scarred, and he brandished a large kitchen knife. He stood in the court yard and mumbled. "A Knife through Butter, A Knife through Butter. In the Ghetto Blades get Hotter!" With that he slit his throat and there was panic as people ran over to help him. But it was too late. Else, shocked, went over to the body. She had heard what he had said and she called upon her Fae eyes, to see if reality was as it looked. The blade seemed normal, but then there was omething odd about the scratches.



      At his pharmacy Stitches was having a pretty normal day, but had heard about the strange death on the radio. He was surprised when Else turned up, and she asked if he might come look at the body. He knew it wouldn't be easy considering the police would be all over it, but what with Else sensing something from it, he shut up shop and headed over.


      At his warehouse squat Sonata was not having a good time. He slept through the day, such was the influence of the sun upon his Fae form. He dreamt, and not nice things. He was at first running, in the Hedge, with Briarwolves at his back. But then the dream changed. He was in St Mark's Square. He saw the Campanile, soaked in blood and from it hung cage with prisoners within. From the tower people were falling. Many were hitting the stone floor, their bodies being broken by the force. And the bodies were piling up. Amongst the bodies a lone figure moved, gnawing at the bones, slurping out the marrow, tearing at the flesh with it's teeth. The sky above was a boiling rage, and two eyes hung in the sky, burning with fire, looming over the city.

      There was a growl from behind and Sonata was soon being chased by the Briarwolves. He ran forward, up the pile of bodies, and scaled the walls of the Campanile. At the top he had pause for breath and from here he could see an island, shrouded in fog, and from it he could hear the sound of dogs howling. The Briarwolves were upon him once more, and so Sonanta jumped.

      Sonanta awoke with a jump and fell from the beam he slept upon and hit the floor below. Dazed he got up and left the warehouse, looking for breakfast.


      At the scene of the death there was now a police tent up and the area had been surrounded by the police. Else and Stitches were soon joined by Freki, who had heard about the death and had headed over. Stitches, attempted to get past the police, however they did not accept him as a police doctor and so asked him to leave.

      Meanwhile Sonata had made his way to the square and was helping himself to the food that was left on the plates by some of the people at the cafes. He spotted the motley and joined them. Deciding they needed help getting in, Stitches called Clio, who worked at the Florian tea room in St Mark's Square. She was able to get a break and headed over to the crime scene.

      When Clio arrived, she drew on her contract of Spring, and to the police officers appeared as their superior. Within the tent Stithes took some photos of the body and looked at the wounds. There was certainly nothing weird save for the scratches. They looked at the copy of the report that was there with the detectives, and it appeared the man had no signs of drugs in his body. They also learnt that the man was gay, and that he was had no partner and kept to himself. This fitted the opinion people were forming about the case, that it was some form of divine justice. However, there was a comment by the person that lived in the same block of flats, that he had seen someone leaving the apartment late at night, and that is was a man.

Steampunk Plague Doctor Mask Dr Beulenpest by TomBanwell on Etsy

God I want this!!!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Just what were you expecting it to be about???

      Ever picked up a game and thought 'How do I run this game?' What is the first thing you do? Yes you read the setting material. You read the rules. You read the small short stories and the examples of play. And of course, if it is included, you watch films, read books and listen to music that are quoted as being inspiration for the game.

      So recently, in a very lengthy online discussion on forum (so yes it did get a little bitchy) I was confronted with problem. A person wanting to run Vampire: the Requiem, and his players, dislike the setting of the game because they found the Covenants too shallow, and that there was no 'ancient enemy', like in Masquerade, and that the exploration of what it means to be a Vampire was too boring (or too emo). What he, and his players wanted, was an in built purpose (i.e. I am this type of monster and this is what I do) more akin to say Hunter: the Vigil, or even the Forsaken in Werewolf: the Forsaken. He wanted clearly designed goals for the players, and in his terms, quests. In turned out he and his players wanted their game to be more like the PC game, Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines.

     So I sat back and had a think about this, how he could play a game within the Requiem setting that also gave him and his players what they wanted. And what I realized is this. Some STs are really quite lazy and unimaginative. All the things present in Masquerade were easily simulated in Requiem. In fact you know had books that presented you a multitude of options that you could use. It was up to the ST and not White Wolf, to say what was fact, what was history and what was just a myth. The complaint this ST had was that he was not given a consistent origin for Vampires.

      You see, as stated in a recent White Wolf pod cast, Requiem replicates somewhat the experience of vampires in 'Interview with the Vampire'. The vampires are not gods, they have to fear humans, and they have no true clue as to their origin. Using this in a game, where the players and the NPCs are all for all intents and purposes immortal is important. It means myths and legends remain so. And that Vampires, due to the imperfect memories they retain by sleeping through the ages, have to rely on faith for their beliefs and codes of conduct. It means younger Vampires do not have to taken an elders beliefs as fact. This to me is exciting and means it is up to the players and ST to come to their own conclusions. Requiem is thus built on contradictions so that conflict arises due to conflicts of faith/belief/philosophy. And all of this is important to Vampires, as it up to them to believe what they want so that they can better understand their own place in the world and reconcile their monsterous nature. But, with such tropes so common in Vampire media, why is this such an issue? What was this ST and has players wanting from a game about Vampires? Ah, cool powers, things more darker than the player characters to kill, and some sort of higher calling. They wanted to be dark heroes.

     This left me wondering. Is it bad to think that people are really not running the game as intended by the designers? Now, you can say, and this is fair, that players can run the game the way they like it. It's their game after all. But when you run a game that is so against the grain of the game as it is designed, where many of the important issues of the setting and systems that reinforce those, are made moot by the 'collateral damage' attitude taken in the game, why even bother using that game to run what you want? Why not find something that caters for the action you seek but simulates the Vampires in a more action orientated way? Hell just play Masquerade if you want ancient evils, and forget about whining how Requiem does not have that in the setting? And if that is still not enough why not just make the modifications to the game yourself?All the tools and ideas are there. And failing that do your own research and make up your own setting material.

    I often feel like those that complain the most about the game are those who are too lazy to put in the hard work to make the game their own.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


      Stiches story starts many decades before he or even his parents were born. A man down on his luck, no place to turn. The Gentry seemed to take pity on him, or so it seemed in his eyes, gave him all the good luck he'd need for the rest of his life. The only catch, a child born on a certain day from his bloodline would be taken by this Gentry for his own on the childs fourth birthday. The man not planning to have children and thinking he could beat the Gentry agreed.
      It is unfortunate that his luck would not always be so good, he got a woman pregnant, either through stupidity or carelessness it was soon to be that his bloodline would continue. He thought he'd escaped when the child was born on a different day and he'd not have to give up the child, though unwanted as he was by himself.
      As generations passed the story was lost and forgotten and no ill seemed to come to the family, well more than normal for the eras. Untill it a boy born Fransesco Aquino. The unlucky child stolen away as he slept soundly in his cot the day of his fourth birthday, a fetch left in his place. His parents blissfully unaware of their childs kidnapping.
      His time in Fae was filled with experiments of this doctor of Gentries, barely remembered agonies and stitches and scars criss-crossing his body as he aged in that realm, sometimes he was allowed off the bench, to help his keeper with others. Eventually a chance emerged to escape, his keeper offered him a way home, in exchange for his help in collecting more humans for his experiments. Numb to everything but the daily pain he'd been put through for these past 16 years he accepted willingly and was lead out to his room. Not a second had passed in this realm yet he'd aged so much. His fetch, still a four year old child slept soundly as he once had all those years ago and yet nothing had changed. He went to reach for the child, to break it's neck to destroy this imposter but as he touched the child it awoke and the sounds of footsteps could be heard approaching. He fled, through the window and onto the street in nothing but the clothes he'd had in fae, still caked in blood.
      He meant to do as his keeper had bid him, hunting to the best of his meager abilities, it came through practice his ability to lie and lull others into a false sense of security, he felt nothing for what he did for those long months.Things changed when his keeper picked out another target for him, a young child barely a few years old. Stitches stood above the child, tears running down his face as a sense of rememberance kicked in for all that he had lost. He ran, hid as far away as he could evading his keeper for sometime, until he found a group of others like him, his motley, this is where his story starts afresh.

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Prologue - part 3

     As the evening became night the motley left the Winter Market, heading back up to the upper levels of the cavern, and through the tunnels, our into the back streets near the Doge's prison. Sonata's Cocorange was now just a simple football to mortal eyes, and the other's hedge fruits and tokens were also equally mundane in appearance. It was decided that they should head to Stitches' pharmacy and leave the items there and go to the Teatro Fenice and speak with those of the House of Autumn.

      Having left the pharmacy and now in the streets of the Frezzeria, Clio and Freki could hear something down one of the alleys growling. A bin was knocked over and on the roofs above a number of people moved, apparently armed. From the alleyway something like a big dog burst out and ran past, and the people above gave chase. One, armed with a spear stopped and with easy dropped to the streets and approached the troupe. She was dressed for combat. Her spear tipped with a battered iron blade, and she burned from within with fire. She introduced herself as Cinder Belle, and that her Watchmen were on a hunt. She offered to lead them forward since it was dangerous. The motley learnt that the Watchmen were a group of predominantly Summer courtiers who kept watch at night. They hunted all manner of things, even Vampires who strayed from the shores of mainland Mestre.

      In a courtyard Cinder signalled for the motley to stop, and she hurried off with her spear down a side street leaving the motley alone in the courtyard. Soon enough something stirred, and the motley watched as two wolf like beast crawled down the side of the buildings towards them. Their jaws were wide with teeth and saliva dripped from their fangs. They were Briarwolves, and they rushed the motley.

      Acting quickly Sonanta drew the shadows about him, calling on his Contract of Darkness, and he moved to make a sneak attack on the beasts. One lunged at Freki, tearing into her side with it's claws, as the other failed to strike the nimble Wizened, Else. Stitches called out for Cinder while Clio drew on her voice, and sang and enchanting tune to distract the wolves. Sonanta grabbed the one briar wolf, but was easily thrown off, but Freki struck back, claws grew from her furred hands and she racked the beasts back, causing it to howl out in pain.

      Above Cinder and her motley appeared, her mien burning and melting the snow about her. She unleashed her spear and it impaled one fo the wolves, it's form collapsing into nothing but gnawed bones and rotting meat, while another of her motley let loose an arrow that struck the other beast.

      Safe once more, and having thanked Cinder, the motley headed to the Teatro, where they were let in via the back entrance by the bookish Wizened, Codexial. She shed dust as she moved, and her skin was aged and thin like paper. She led the motley upstairs into the very rafters of the theatre, and through a door into the Hedge and the true House of Autumn. The Hollow was a massive library come attic, lit by animated candle sticks that offered their light to those changelings nearby. Freki and Stitches headed to the infirmary where they could get bandages and Hedge Fruit based salves to repair Freki's wounds, as the others sat about. A candle stick tried to give Sonata some light, but he blew it out and the candle stick, upset, walked away. A growl rumbled from within the library, and a large man came out of the shadows. It was Mad Dog, a fearsome member of the House of Autumn, a gangster and trafficker. He looked like a cross between a man and a Doberman dog. He barked at Sonanta for hurting the candle stick's feelings before explaining to them that he had heard of their run in with the Briar Wolves, and that for their own saftey it was about time they considered forming a motley pledge.

      Upon leaving the Teatro, and heading back to Cannaregio and their squat, Freki and Sonanta spotted a commotion going on near the church of Santa Maria Maddalena. Outside was gathered police and locals. A man had been found, dead. His stomach was ripped open and on his forehead in blood was the letter 'V'.




Wednesday, 1 September 2010

[actual play] Changeling: the Lost


Changeling: the Lost

Venice: Broken Masks, Shattered Dreams

Prologue - part 2

     As the night drew to a close the motley left the Teatro and headed home. However, as Sonanta looked up he spotted something on the rooftops. There, on the roof of the Church of San Salvador sat a dark being, its cape flapping in the wind and its eyes red and glowing. Sonata acted quickly, calling out to the others are then drawing upon the Wyrd. His Contract of Darkness, allowed him to easily scuttle up the face of the church. Soon he was dashing across the snow covered roof, his quarry however was already onto the next rooftop. Freki was also trying to follow, digging her claws into the marble face of the church. The others simply kept watch or followed on foot.

     As Sonata neared the edge of the roof top he flung himself across the gap to the next roof. He barely was able to keep his footing, his contract allowing him to scrabble up the side and up onto the roof, all the while his quarry widened the gap between them and had already crawled over the next building before disappearing. Sonata looked for the highest rooftop nearby and clambered up and sat there looking for the red eyed being, as snow and wind whipped about him.

     The next day was the Winter Market, the 3rd of the season so far. Clio had finished her shift at the Florian,  and Stitches closed up the pharmacy where he works. So the motley met at Else's boat repair shop on the northern edge of Cannaregio. Here they discussed the previous night's events and that they may find out something at the Winter Market. Getting into Else's boat, they departed for the docks near the Doge's Palace, and Else made use of her token, a small broken chess piece. To their Fae eyes the piece was a crystal king piece, and it glowed as the boat ploughed through the waters of the lagoon, making good time, and just before the engine of the boat over heated. Steam was pouring off the engine and Else cursed the machine. The motley stood on the docks watching Else, and then when she was done they head off towards the Palace prisons and the Winter Market.





      The motley approach a door, Freki knocked on the peeling green wood, three times, and proceeded to turn, widdershins, 13 times. As she did she became dizzy and lost count. So stitches did the same. Upon finishing he then sighed, then turned clockwise once then opened the door. (ST Note: The players actually acted this out in my living room. Amusing to see one player get dizzy and loose count) The motley saw that they had opened the door to the Hedge, and that before them 2 grim looking Darklings stood. They were the security for the market, members of the House of Winter's Wight Guard. They were allowed in and they proceeded down the dank, dark tunnel.

      In the Hedge the thorn squeezed through the stone walls, and barred windows hung in the air, suspended by the vines. Looking through the motley could see that these windows showed the real world. Continuing along the vines opened up and they found that they stood above a deep chamber, and below they could hear the music and smell the food and drink of the Winter Market. They continued down the stair case and into the market. There were a number of stalls, all with a variety of wares on offer. The tents kept off the dripping water from above, and steam rose from bubbling pots of grim looking food. Oink growls and chatter of Hedge beasts.

      At the bar, run by the Green Caps, the motley ordered some food and drink. Captain Saor, a grim looking sailor, served up plates of what looked like scrambled egg, but red, with a strange nettle like leaf sprinkled over and a black ooze dressing. Payment was taken in a clump of their own hair, which Saor used to make his own brew. Sonanta picked up a Cocorange in exchange for a poem, Freki got a couple of mapples (meat apples) and Else got some Coupnettle, but had to pay with  bloody toenail.

     The next stop was Triton's stall. Triton was of the Cleaner's motley of the House of Winter. He had quite the collection of random trinkets and tokens, with Clio picking up a ribbon of never miss, Freki getting a random pebble with no idea what it could do, and Else getting a needle capable of stitching steel together with the catch that it would give you pins and needles for a week. But she would only get it if she fixed a old TV that only showed repeats of the last 10 minutes of events that happened near it. The TV needed new batteries for it to work better, as it currently had a goblin called Cedric powering it by crank.

     Next up was the cattle market, where they could of bought Cloud Pigs, Canal Rats and a musical, if aloof, cat in a bowler hat.

     Finally they went by the bordello, run by the Lords of Love motley, lead by the beautiful Madam Rose Blood. None were interested in any sex or narcotics, save for Sonata who tricked them into giving him some time in their smoking room.