Archive for September, 2010

The Pig Girl: Resketched

29 Sep

I ended up changing a few character designs from my original Pig Girl sketch, found here.

Here’s a newer sketch of the current three characters:

The first one (Wallace) is visually a little more composed and a little less disheveled. As for Victor and Reginald, I ended up making them visually similar to underscore their bonded, world-of-their-own nature. There’s another reason for that, one which will become apparent in time.

 
 

Von Rutskarn’s Magical Murder Tour: Incident Three

28 Sep

Buckminster Brigham considered himself a man of few and simple needs. While all around him people squabbled and fought searching for Truth, Bucky focused in on things grounded and material. For example: the quite large punch bowl on the buffet table that was, for the first time on the length cruise, unattended.

Using the punch bowl, the nearby tap, and commonly available materials, he fixed himself what he thought was a rather jaunty cocktail. Its ingredients included:

1 cup punch
1 shot whiskey from hip flask
1 strawberry
1 morsel of cake
1 dose champagne
1 small candle mistakenly believed to be a toffee
1 extra shot of whiskey after making sure nobody’s watching
1 dose poison from assassin
1 shot of orrrnjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

Buckminster’s needs had just gotten rather simpler.

Buckminster “Bucky” Brigham (KremlinLaptop) was assassinated. He was an Aristocrat.

 

The Pig Girl, Part 3

27 Sep

The men in the street were unarmed. That was the first thing that struck Wallace, whose mind’s eye had seen all manner of weapons–pointed at his head–with terrifying clarity.

Once the shock faded, other observations leapt at him. To begin with, their clothes were dusty, worn, and even patched, but were nonetheless instantly recognizable as a pair of old Security Populis jumpsuits, complete with holsters and riot ribbing and faded urban camouflage. Only the helmets were missing. It was an ensemble Wallace had not seen in eight years, one he’d nearly forgotten had existed.

And once this had processed,  there remained the matter of the vehicle behind them. From the noise, Wallace had expected a truck of some kind, perhaps some sort of rover or hauler. What he got was something not quite like a tank, van, or bus, but instantly reminiscent of any and all of them. It was bulky, squat, and though he scrutinized it, Wallace couldn’t make out a single door or window anywhere on it. Its tires looked big enough for a child to curl up in. Unlike the men, who could nearly fade into the background if they stood still long enough, the vehicle was painted eye-stinging red, and the coat looked nearly fresh.

Wallace’s gun lowered involuntarily as he soaked the scene in. Oddities aside, it was the first time in days he’d seen something besides rubble.

One of the men grinned at him. “You won’t be needing that gun, old chap. We’re very probably all friends here.”

“Potentially,” corrected the other. “We’ll go ahead and leave it to you. We’ve no real stake one way or the other, you see.”

Wallace looked from one to the other. There wasn’t much in their features but simple, honest cheerfulness. What’s more, Wallace was beginning to realize that he had trouble telling them apart. They looked…youngish, but beyond that, they possessed between them not one remarkable feature. The one on the right had a pair of dark goggles on his forehead, but if that were removed, Wallace wasn’t entirely sure he could tell one from the other.

The two of them looked at him expectantly. He gave up.

“My name’s Wallace,” he said. “I’m just passing through.”
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Lord of the Scraps: Session Eight, Part 3

27 Sep

Last session, I offered the players a choice: go off into the jungles to hunt mages, go into Royals territory to broker an alliance, or head off into the heart of Deathgrip’s command center to assassinate their leader? I asked you all to guess a.) which option the players picked and b.) which option I anticipated.

Surprisingly, almost none of you got the answer to either question correct.

Which option did they pick? The second one. The party wanted a change of scenery, so they decided to pack up and head south into Royals territory. It wasn’t a unanimous vote, but most everyone was in agreement by the debate’s end.

Which option did I anticipate so heavily I prepared for it almost exclusively? Also the second one. I made the other options as attractive as I could, but somehow, I had a feeling Operation Schmooz was what they were going to go for. Honestly, it only occurred to me to prepare for the others after I’d named a half-dozen NPCs.

The party is put on a cart headed towards the Royals border. They travel for a few days, journeying through back woods and countryside devoid of any other life, before entering a fog-shrouded canyon that gives way to a dirt road. The driver, a gnome, begins to grow nervous.

“Here,” he says finally, pulling the cart to the side. “I’m turning back. Hang around here and you’ll get picked up soon.”

To recap: the Royals don’t trust gnomes, and it’s mutual. That’s why the party’s the one negotiating the deal instead of Vahtzen officers.

Royals outriders appear–true to the driver’s word. To the party’s mild surprise, the outriders are actually riding horses. Two ride to either side of the party to flank them, then a third dismounts to give them a once-over.

The party is regarded with extreme suspicion, especially those—like Roberto—that are walking arsenals. The Royals outriders are decked out in plate mail and armed with longswords, and they look at the assault rifle slung over Roberto’s shoulder as if it were a dead cat.

A few more days of awkward, sullen travel ensues before the party reaches the embassy accommodations. They are not luxurious—the wallpaper is rotted, the beds are hard and worn, and there are few remaining decorations. Here and there, a light spot indicates an area in which a painting might once have hanged.

The embassy rooms have windows overlooking fields. They’re not looking terribly prosperous either.

The party asks when they can see the king about arranging some sort of alliance. As it turns out, he’s already holding a session—they can go right in, but they’ll have to wait their turn to speak. The party gussies up, washes the last of the blood out of their hair, and saunters over to the throne room.

It’s at this point that they see who currently has the king’s ear: a small squad of Deathgrip mercenaries.

 

State of the Skarn

26 Sep

Right, a combination of a long week, the late hour, a liberal application of the Academia Stick, preparations for my new campaign, and the fact that the sorority outside my window won’t shut up with their goddamned happylovepeacesisterlove singalongs for ten minutes at a time, I’m just a tad on the wiped side. I’m-a gonna make this quick.

Bullet points:

  • D&D post today
  • Let’s plays should be moving along
  • Got one project that’s half done
  • Bear with me, still getting on schedule
  • I need a fifth bullet point here but I’ve been staring at my screen with bloodshot eyes for about fifteen minutes now and so far I’ve got nothing, so here’s a picture instead:

I leave its interpretation as an exercise to the reader.

 

Von Rutskarn’s Magical Murder Tour: Assassination 2

25 Sep

“It’s all very simple,” Dr. Asa concluded cheerfully. “All we need to do is establish a network of trust, centered around a certain trustworthy individual–myself, naturally–and work outwards from there. We’ll have those assassins rumbled in no time!”

The other passengers glanced at each other. This had been the conclusion of a two-hour speech that had contained many words longer than, for example, “inheritance.” This was nothing something they were comfortable with. Some of them were beginning to suspect Dr. Asa on general principle.

It’s unknown exactly who shouted, “Hold on, how do we know we can trust you?”

Dr. Asa chuckled. “Well, no, surely you don’t suspect a medical doctor? Of my age?”

“How do we know you’re a doctor?” shouted someone else.

“Well…ask me a question only a medical professional would know.”

“What number am I thinking of?”

“What…that doesn’t…I’m a doctor, not a sorcerer!”

An argument burst out. The crowd all raised their hands and yelled, trying to be heard over their peers, pushing and shoving to get into the center of attention. Dr. Asa stood on his table, face reddening as he shouted down arguments and explanations.

And then someone cried, “Here, let’s sort this out!”

There was a shot. Dr. Asa went pale, then tumbled down like a knocked-over stack of of laundry.

His mask was knocked off. The skin underneath was clear.

Dr. Asa (Denubis) was lynched. He was an aristocrat.

Night begins now and ends Monday morning.

 

Random Campaign Details

25 Sep

(I’m starting a new D&D campaign. The players wanted to try something a little more traditional fantasy, so I set about creating a setting in that vein. The trick was keeping classic fantasy elements in mind while putting them together in a way that’s hopefully somewhat fresh. Here’s the introductory pamphlet I gave them:)

After millennia of brutal conflict, the world found something like peace. The plains that once bred horselords and savages are now ruled by the arcane hand of magic; the tribes of the desert have long since abandoned their petty warfare and embraced trade; the races of the lowlands, swamps, and mountains have sundered their pacts with dark forces and content themselves with what land and power they possess. And in the island trading port of Sola Tetri, where you have grown up, life has been busy and chaotic—but without great tragedy.

Lately, however, there have been rumors that something has gone wrong with the world outside. There are whispers that certain magical rituals, such as those that involve transporting mortals within or outside of the plane, now fail. Magical communication over distances of longer than a few dozen miles became distorted, difficult, and finally altogether impossible. Incidences of monster attacks on caravans and cities have increased drastically. And villages on the edge of civilization have vanished without warning or trace…

Major Civilizations

Magistarum: A hundred years ago, the Magistarum successfully conquered the scattered communities of the plains and united them under a single rule. Magic is the backbone of the Magistarum: its power structure is based entirely around magical talent, and one of the most important duties laid upon the towns under its control is to report gifted individuals and give them arcane training. Magic is treasured—and regulated. Within their borders, all spellcasters are required to be registered and approved, but are then granted privileges denied to mundane citizens.

Throughout most of the Magistarum, life continues much as it did before the unification—settlements survive on trade, agriculture, and what meager magical talent they have access to. In the central cities, however, magic permeates every corner of every street. Golems and rituals are used to undertake tasks that were once given to common laborers, and mages of all powers and focuses jockey for power…both political and magical.

White Sands: Not so much a nation as a collective, the White Sands comprises the hundreds of desert tribes scattered throughout the realm. The desert is not so barren as an outsider might think; while fertile soil might be rare and localized, there is much in the way of exotic minerals and goods to be acquired. Consequentially, the people of the White Sands are based almost entirely around trade.

Like in the Magistarum, the sociology of the White Sands varies from region to region. There are many diverse tribes and cultures to be found in the inner deserts, and near the rivers—where the land is most fertile–vast cities of terracotta and stone are erected. Towards the coast are the sea traders, honorable and lawful where they are near civilization, depraved and lawless where they are not.

The Forlorn: Once upon a time, the elves and humans of the lowlands—surrounded on all sides by bloodthirsty dwarf and orc raiders—formed pacts with dark, long-forgotten forces. From there they expanded, building cities and conquering neighbors, toying with the limits of magical power—until without warning, and for reasons that are still unknown, the empire collapsed nearly overnight.

Today, these people are scattered and distant, scraping out meager livings from rocks and swamp while fighting off raiders as best as they can. These people are suspicious of magic, and the spellcasters of the Magistarum wisely avoid traveling through their territory. Perhaps it’s for the best: it is rumored that in some places, near the ruins of cities long since abandoned, magic is best not attempted at all…

Sola Tetri: Sola Tetri is an island port equidistant from many major trading cities. Protected from invasion by its cliffsides and martial culture, Sola Tetri has managed to remain neutral and independent even in more tumultuous times. A teeming metropolis, Sola Tetri is a home for employers of all trades and adventurers of all stripes.

Important Factions

Bantam Company (your employer): Formed half a century ago by the Bantam Four, a famous adventuring party, Bantam Company hires skilled swords to act as mercenaries, monster hunters, guards, and explorers. Many of its hirelings do not survive longer than five years in their employ, but those that do are often promoted to officership and given charge of more lucrative—and sometimes more dangerous—propositions. Bantam Company is situated in Sola Tetri, but operates worldwide.

Rat Pack: Rat Pack is the largest, least-exclusionary adventuring syndicate in the world. With guild halls in every major—and many minor—cities, Rat Pack provides affordable supplies, weapons, and assistance to anyone that walks through its doors. Members of Rat Pack range from sophisticated dungeon delvers to unambitious thugs.

Magi Magistarus: The elite casters of the Magistarum. The Magi are part aristocrat, part wandering peacekeeper, charged with the administration and oversight of large amounts of territory. Their duties are diverse, and might include: settling significant disputes, safeguarding territory, locating gifted citizens, and checking that practicing spellcasters are obeying regulations.

Some Magi are scrupulous and honorable, watching over their charges to the best of their ability. Some are corrupt, using their abilities and prestige for their own benefit while neglecting those beneath them. Most fall somewhere in between.

The Nobodies: There have always been rumors of a thieves’ guild (referred to colloquially as “The Nobodies”) operating within the Magistarum, fleecing magic and nomagic targets alike using a mix of arcane secrets and traditional methods. Ever since the Augris Emerald disappeared from Magi Caeldron’s study, these rumors would seem to be confirmed. It is unknown how a network of thieves could survive in the strictly-regulated viper’s nest that is the central Magistarum.

Red Decks:  An outlaw armada of sorts, made up of smugglers and pirates. They run drugs and goods on the western coast of the White Sands territory, usually referred to as the “Scum Coast,” and occasionally strike merchant vessels elsewhere. The location of their base is unknown.

O’ldru’l: Another pirate faction, this one made up primarily of fish people. They form crews on land and then strike ships at sea, swimming out to infiltrate vessels when they least expect it.

Miscellaneous Information

Permitted Classes:

Any legal. Spellcasters do not have access to teleportation or planeshifting magic, but may summon creatures freely. Arcane spellcasters may spend three thousand gold on certifications allowing them to cast spells within the Magistarum, one hundred gold on counterfeit certifications, or may choose to have no license at all.

Permitted Races:

Human

Elf

Half-Elf

Dwarf

Dwarf, Dark (Custom)

Gnome

Halfling

Half-Orc

Orc

Goblin

Kobold

Changeling

Tiefling

Fishman (Custom)

 

The Cyrodiil Look: Cahmel’s New Travels (Let’s Play Oblivion, Part 7)

22 Sep

Expect a new Cahmel in this space later today (Pacific time). Remember that whole academic integration thing? Got some of that to take care of, and then we’ll get back to the larceny and grand theft you have been accustomed to.
Random note: I’ve started work on a mini-series. If all goes as I plan, it’ll be a snap to produce and entertaining for all involved. More details later, methinks.

EDIT: Here ya go.

When we last left our noble hero, he’d finally figured out what he wanted to be when he grew up: a felon. That’s right: I’m going to make a living stealing things instead of doing honest work, like murdering things and then stealing them, or murdering things at the instruction of people wearing nicer gear and then stealing whatever happens to be around them. Actually, now that I think of it, this pretty much exactly like most of the work I’ve had in the past. All I’ve actually done is cut out the middleman and the middlemurder.

Right, I’m resolved. Time to break out the black handlebar ‘stache and old-timey white-striped tabard, because I’m here to steal crap and kill cliff racers—and I’m all out of cliff racers.

What should my first target be? I should start small, methinks—maybe hit an aristocrat’s place? Everyone around here seems pretty rich, and while I’m new to the whole robbery scene, I’ve got a pretty good idea that rich people have more expensive stuff. Sure, that inn was full of valueless knickknacks and random doodads, but that’s because they’ve learned long ago that when you rent out private rooms to wandering ex-cons at absurdly marked up prices, you expect there to be theft the same way park rangers expect there to be weather.

This caper was going to be tricky. Going in, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was overreaching somehow—that attempting to rob a very well-to-do city full of guards, locks, and concerned citizens was a dangerous proposition for a starting thief with his stealth skills in the crapper and no magic items. One thing was for sure: this wasn’t going to be easy.

Twenty minutes later, I’d cleaned the town out.

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The Pig Girl, Part 2

22 Sep

The ground was beginning to shake. Tables rattled gently in the darkness, legs dancing in small circles on the cracked floor; then the sound was eclipsed by the engine’s howl, a wave of noise that escalated in volume until it sounded as if it were nearly on top of Wallace. And then, as chairs rattled and something smashed in the shadows, it grew louder still.

Wallace sunk an inch lower. The shadow under the table swallowed up his vision, and he had only two sensations to place himself with: the warming, gridded metal of the pistol’s grip, and the swift-approaching blare of the oncoming vehicle.

The noise peaked…

Tire screeched. The ground lurched a final time, the engine noise swept from ear-blasting roar to subdued growl in an instant, and Wallace heard the sound of asphalt cracking under massive tires. A hot draft from outside the windows stirred the dust at Wallace’s feet.

Tires settled. The engine dropped even lower.

There was a click.

A metal door slammed.

Boots fell on asphalt. A half-instant later, another pair joined them.

“He’s hiding, isn’t he,” said a voice. Wallace’s grip grew so tight he felt his hands shake.

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Von Rutskarn’s Magical Murder Tour: Incident Two

19 Sep

As chaos descended upon the ballroom, three figures took the chance to slip free from the crowds and delve into the residential decks.

The second such figure was the Busybody. The Busybody was seized with a sudden and unhealthy desire to know just who Doctor Asa was–he’d never previously heard of him, and wanted to know what his hobbies were, what he was a doctor of, and whether or not he was a psychotic slash-happy murderer.

The third figure was the Vigilante. The Vigilante had a feeling that Doctor Asa was going to be a high-profile target in the days to come, and decided it would be best if he dropped in on the doctor’s quarters and made sure they were secure (i.e, that the door had a lock and the furniture wasn’t actually on fire).

They reached the door simultaneously. In the darkness, neither saw the other until one had reached out and turned the lock.

Unfortunately for both of them, the first figure had gotten there first.

In the darkness of the ballroom could be heard a distant boom

Hendrik-Jan Willem van Rijnsmonde tot’s Gravenheide (Jarenth) and Alejo de la Raga (Aulayan) perished in a tremendous fireball, having both targeted the individual indicated by the Trapper. These individuals were, respectively, the Vigilante and the Busybody.

Incident Two begins now and ends on Friday night’s post.

Von Rutskarn’s Note: Ouch.