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.