Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sagacious Sojourns of Sargoo the Sapient or The Wotangamut: Wonderworkers or Worriesome Warlocks? [13th Age]

Salutations!  It is your good fortune, indeed, that has brought you to this treatise.  In little time at all
Me, wearing the height of fashion in the 11th Age.
your friends, loved ones, and even enemies will marvel at the knowledge I have imparted to you and your mind will, literally, swell with the mysteries that have been unveiled to you!

I am sure you need no introduction to my many, many, many great accomplishments, but I would be remiss in not revealing myself to you.  I am Sargoo of Thoda, the Great Thinker, the One Man Thodex, the Infinite Professor, the Delver of Ages short, I am Sargoo the Sapient and my deeds are bountiful and have altered the course of civilization.

Today's lesson deals with the ancient and cyclopean group of warlocks and wonder sellers that comprise the Wotangamut.  A mystical brotherhood that served the Archmage of the 8th Age,W'Otan until his fall at the hand of the his son, Lok, the Diabolist of the 8th Age. But W'Otan's Wotangamut never forgot his teachings or abandoned his instructions to them and they still walk amongst us in this Age, waiting for their master's return.

The brothers of the Wotangamut, or Cyclops, as they oft times refer to themselves, prefer to keep a lower profile and have strong ties to the Emperor with persistent rumors that link them to the Prince of Shadows.  Unsurprisingly, they do not recognize the current Archmage, as W'Otan will return from the dead one day soon and they have no need to follow an imposter.  In fact, amongst their brotherhood, to show support of any kind for the Imposter is punishment by exile and a secret ritual that removes all knowledge of the Wotangamut and their teachings from the traitor's mind.

In fact, the brotherhood constantly works to bring about the downfall of the current Archmage, as they zealously believe that it will hasten the return of W'Otan.  This has caused much strain on the ties that bind the Emperor and the Archmage, as the Wotangamut are staunch supporters of the Dragon Empire.

They've helped the Emperor in the collection and safe guarding of the Imperial taxes for several centuries and have shrewdly invested the funds, which has greatly helped the Dragon Empire to flourish.  The Emperor's gratitude has been enhanced because the brotherhood asks for so little in return for their services.  All they have thus far required is a keep along the Grandfather in Eld, a chapter house in Axis, and a plantation on Omen.

The Archmage has accused the Emperor of looking the other way on their many and varied terror attacks against Horizon.  While the brotherhood has never been officially linked to the crimes, it is only due to the intervention of their employer, the Emperor.  The problem is further compounded by the Wotangamut's many and varied financial partners who have no desire to allow any harm to befall the group, as their transactions with the brotherhood has proven far to profitable.

Part of the Wotangamut's success at both money management and terrorist actions is their goal to remain small and highly trained.  There are never more than sixty-six brothers at any one time and all use secret magic to give themselves long life and good health.  And when new members are required, the group selects and recruits the candidates, as anyone who applies to the brotherhood is turned down, regardless of their qualifications.

The Wotangamut selects members from all races, professions, and walks of life.  Since all members are trained in ancient and esoteric magics, spell casting ability is not a requirement to be recruited.  If a recruit does finish their initial training, the last ritual they must undergo involves the ritual removal of one of their own eyes, so they are fully committed to the Wotangamut and are completely loyal to W'Otan.

It is rare that a recruit will not decide to finish their training, but those few that do have demonstrated strong loyalties to the brotherhood even after severing ties with them.

The actions against the Archmage are merely part of the brotherhood's strict adherence to a set of prophecies conveyed to the group, in the months leading up to their death of their master.  The brotherhood devoutly believes that taking the actions dictated in the prophecy will lead to the rebirth of W'Otan.

Rumors (1d6)

1 - The Prince of Shadows helps the Wotangamut in it's war against the Archmage, in exchange for certain privileges in Imperial Society.

2 - A unit of Cyclops maintain a presence in Drakkenhall, where their prophecies indicate Lok has already made his return.

3 - Missionaries believe they have found the reborn W'Otan in the Red Wastes, amongst a nomadic tribe of the Betu Ven'skarr.

4 - The Emperor's daughter, Corraline of Vess, third in line for the throne, was recruited by the Wotangamut, but chose not to take the final ritual.

5 - The Prince of Shadows was turned down being recruited by the brotherhood.

6 - The current Archmage has imprisoned W'Otan.

Friday, August 23, 2013

13th Age: Bristlebearn Bear

Bristlebearn Bear

Long allies of the Wood Elves and wardens of the forests, the Bristlebearn Tribe is unique in that they speak a primitive from of Elven and are fully sentient.  They diligently work to keep other sentient creatures from destroying their homes.

3rd level [BEAST]
Initiative: +1

Maul +8 vs. AC—10 damage

Talking Bear +8 vs. MD—Target is stunned (save ends, 11+)
Natural roll of 16+:  The target is confused (save ends, 11+), instead.

Only You: When the Escalation Die is even, any enemies that are suffering from stunned or confused have a -2 to their saves.

AC 19
PD  17                              HP 45
MD 13

Saturday, August 17, 2013

13th Age: Living Dungeons and X-Crawl

One of the interesting concepts from 13th Age is the idea that some dungeons are alive, they are a gnawing, festering evil that grows from deep within the earth.  They burrow and squirm until they burst out of the landscape, seemingly waiting to be slain by heroes.

And another interesting OGL gem is X-Crawl, an extreme sport where you run dungeons for fame and profit.

Why not mix the the two settings?

What I envision are Living Dungeons that have been conquered and "farmed" to serve as set pieces for X-Crawl entertainment dweomercasts.  The X-Crawls can be used to keep a Living Dungeon in check, without totally destroying it, so it can be run again and again.

The broadcasts or dweomercasts would be filmed by using spherical, black ioun stones that would serve as "cameras" so the the X-Crawl events could be watched.  And with each participant given their own ioun stone, the items could even be enchanted to monitor and remove a contestant if true harm was about to befall them.  In fact, the orbiting ioun stones would leave no angle or scene of the daring contestants incapable of being recorded.

Further, I can see Icons such as the Emperor, Archmage and even the Prince of Shadows being involved in X-Crawls.

Every empire needs a distraction to entertain their citizens.  X-Crawls would be a great sport for the Emperor to support and encourage, while at the same time protecting empire's citizens from the threat of Living Dungeons.  Perhaps the Emperor's personal guards are all former X-Crawl champions?

What Archmage doesn't have an interest in studying and plumbing Living Dungeons for their secrets?  And not merely the loot such creatures use to lure new prey, but their physiology and even psychology?  How many new spells could be dreamt of by exploring such monstrosities?  And why exactly do the Dark Gods toil to unleash such strange and marvelous attackers?  All of these questions or more could be pondered by the Archmage.

And there is always a seedier side to sports and entertainment.  Wether it's a young hopeful willing to do anything for fame and fortune or someone to place and collect bets on all manner of X-Crawl statistics.  Odds are certainly in favor of the Prince of Shadows being at the center of such greed and graft.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Battle Beasts Tuesday: Grizzly Bear for 13th Age

Grizzly Bear 

4th level [BEAST]
Initiative: +2

Battle Axe +9 vs. AC—15 damage
Miss: 5 damage.

C: Maul +9 vs. PD—12 damage and the target is hampered until the end of Grizzly Bear's next turn.

Heart of Wood: This creature adds the escalation die to all of their defenses.

AC 20
PD  18                              HP 54
MD 14

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tales of the 13th Age: Roachdale

Less than a century ago, Lana Roach, the Witch of Montessi, led a small contingent of followers down the New Road to what eventually would be known as Roachdale.  Lana was a celebrated and staunch follower of the Priestess before a deep and mournful schism forced the Witch to seek a place to worship the light in the way it called to her.

Lana led her most dutiful followers from their homes near Santa Cora to a homestead in the Wild Wood.  The site was an ancient place that Roach had rightfully purchased, through esoteric negotiations, from the Elf Queen.

The Queen was triumphant because the bargain she had reached with Roach freed her lands of a cursed site.  A place where an atrocity from the 9th Age had made the area a blight upon her realm.  

But unbeknownst to the ecstatic Queen, the Witch was no fool and knew of the cursed history of her new home.  Roach and her followers cleansed the plot they'd purchased and set about building a place for them to worship in peace and respectfully tend the land for fur and lumber, careful never to break their contract with the Elf Queen.  Lana's followers chose to name the settlement in honor of their beloved leader, Roachdale.

What Lana's followers would never know was that this site was essential for her to pursue the calling that had separated her so deeply from the Priestess.  The Witch devoutly believed that light cannot exist without a darkness to keep at bay, and the greater the light, they more terrible the darkness to hold back.  She knew that below their new home lay the ruins of a loathsome bulwark, an ancient Keep of demoniac horrors.  The Witch of Montessi hoped the daily rituals she taught her people would ward this Age from the Keep's dreaded return, because in her darkest moments Roach feared that the Priestess's warnings, in the days before their schism, could ring true.

And Shadow Well Keep should never again be allowed to blight this or any Age.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

13th Age: Blackshadow Scarab Swarm

Blackshadow Scarab Swarm

An ancient and fearsome pestilence born of the Lich King's displeasure and unleashed as a display to his enemies that no man, woman or child will be spared his retribution.

1st level [INSECT]
Initiative: +1

Swarm +5 vs. PD—5 damage
Natural even hit: The target takes an additional 1d6 damage.

AC 14
PD  12                              HP 20
MD 10

Tales of the 13th Age: The Prisoner of Roachdale Part 1

Session 1 of the Crown of the Lich King

El Jefe's Company of Badgers set off with a few horses and a brass cart pulled by four stout Nomad dragan horses driven by Popo.

The first two days of the four day journey were uneventful with light traffic along the Pilgrim road.  While the team passed several grim faced and nervous travelers heading passed them, they chose not to inquire about news from Roachdale.

Midway through the third day dark clouds began to dominate the skies and Popo urged his brother, Ulrik, to move the cart off the road.  Popo's Great Uncle Lucho lost his life to lightning and the brass cart made the bear more nervous than usual.

The group found a nice clearing just off the road, which looked to be a well used spot for travelers to camp.  Not far from it, dense woods and steep hills kept them out of the rain and protected their backs.

Alora sought solace deep within the woods, while Popo, Ulrik, Joshua readied their camp.  Meanwhile, Dusk and the Swanshadow sisters began exploring the hills and found an entrance to a deep cave, which they chose to explore.

While Martha was hoping the cave could provide her with shelter from the trauma of the coming storm, a sense of foreboding from the place made her return to camp to let the others know what they had found.  However, Dusk, Tiffanie, and Desiray plowed ahead into the squat cave and Dusk was surprised to see what she thought was a drider huddled behind some large rocks.

It took Desiray's fearful scream, as she ran from the cave, mixed with Tiffanie notching her bow for Dusk to realize that the creature, which had now flung itself at her, was no drider.

The stalktopus fully grabbed Dusk in it's tentacles and began to constrict the life from her shocked form.  She only avoided succumbing to the beast's poison barbs, because of the ubiquitous use of it in drow society.

Martha and Desiray rallied Dalthorian and a belligerent Alora and the stalktopus quickly fell to their united assault.  Tiffanie's interest in beasts of all manner, made her realized that several parts of the dead stalktopus were useful in various ways, so she retrieved them.

While the group remained at the roadside camp, the storm and the encounter with the tentacled monster gave them little rest that night.  As they began the final leg of their journey the next day, Martha was unusually quiet and refused to reveal to her sister what vision the storm brought her.

With the settlement in sight, the midday sun flashed off something shiny in the nearby woods, revealing a strange bugle hung on a high branch of an ash tree.  The group decided to recover the instrument and soon had Roachdale...or the remains of it in sight.

While travelling, Dalthorian and Joshua both spoke at length of their time in Roachdale.  Dalthorian mentioned a quiet, sprawling homestead, on the frontier, with hard working and determined people who simply sought to be free of civilization.  Joshua told tales of houses made of amber and stone circles powered by geomancy.  The monk also warned of the settlement's fruitless battle against sick bears that would wander into to town to devour small children.  This last story caused Popo a great deal of frustration because his tribe had worked for generations to fight their taste for human children.  But recidivism was a great concern for him and all the work he had done to overcome the stigma.  Notably, Dalthorian was quiet about Joshua's experiences in Roachdale.

Neither of them described a town that had been drown in some terrible deluge, nor the ominous black keep that squatted on a muddy hill in the middle of flooding.

As the team drew closer to the devastation, they began to realize that the settlement hadn't been flooded, but a great swarming mass of insects had engulfed it, with only the rooftops spared from their invasion.

The closer the team got to Roachdale, the louder the the din grew as the bugs carapaces scraped against one another as they moved across each other a million times over.

Tiffanie spied soldiers of some kind patrolling the keep's walls as she stood on the "shore" of the sea of insects.  Dalthorian quickly realized that a manned keep had to have a way in and out of this hellish moat the bugs created and began searching it's perimeter with Martha in tow.  Desiray began working a ritual to create a way to cross the monstrous insects.  Joshua noted that the insects were Black Shadow Scarabs and had been used by the Lich King in the 2nd Age as a punishment for defying one of his many decrees.

As Desiray completed her summoning, Dusk blew the bugle they'd found in the ash tree.  At it's sound the scarabs parted like water and at the same moment the space was filled with Desiray's conjured bridge.  Tiffanie, Dusk, Joshua, Alora, Desiray, Ulrik and Popo rushed over the bridge.  However, the bugle alerted the guards to their presence and a large ballista sent Joshua and Desiray clinging to the side of the bridge, mere inches from the stunned scarabs.

Alora forced open on of the keep's huge double doors with her brutish fury and Dusk clung close by her ally, picking off onrushing guards with her hand crossbow.  Ulrik and Popo crashed through the other door and ran deep into the keep's central yard.  It was damp with mud and musty lumber was stacked high in several piles.  But a strange feeling overtook Ulrik and the skin on his scalp began to crawl, making him decide to retreat back the way he came.

As Alora charged forth into the keep, she felt a similar sensation but her bloodlust was magnified and she easily cut down wave after wave of the keep's guards.  Her assault allowed Dusk to slip, unnoticed into the shadow of the keep and began to explore it.  By this time all of them noted that the guards wore helms to conceal their faces and had reddish, scaled skin and wreaked of brimstone.  The knowledge that the guards were demonic did little to console them.

Ulrik, freed from the stifling keep, helped Joshua and Desiray climb back onto the bridge just before the scarabs fully awoke.  By this time, Dalthorian and Martha rejoined them after hearing the bugle and seeing the scarabs go still.  Dalthorian rallied the rest of the team and led them into the keep where the last survivor of Kel'Thassar smashed into an invisible wall of malicious force.  Stunned, horror ran through him as a ancient voice whispered in his hear, "The Kel'Thassar will finally be wiped from this world tonight, and I will suck the marrow from your bones as tomorrow dawns."

As the rest of her team dealt with renewed waves of demonic guards, Dusk had found a large, black door with numerous glyphs covering it's face.  As the clouds shifted, the writing was made clear to her and she could tell it was in some blasphemous hand and caused her nose to bleed and eyes to itch.

Meanwhile in the center of the keep, an ill light began to fill the courtyard and the smoky shape of a
hairless demon, wielding chains and stinking of licorice took form.  All the while, a haunting laughter filled Dalthorian's ears and unwanted visions of torture and depravities danced luridly across Dusk's eyes.

Join the A+ Campaign

Monte Cook started the A+ Campaign last year.  The goal is to spend all of August making the internet more positive.  It seems like a great idea to me and I hope some of you will join me on this mission.

This mirrors something I was talking to my son about earlier today.  I've spent far too many years of my life being negative.  Since I wear my emotions like a badge, I began smiling to "conceal" them.  The funny part was that smiling made me feel better and I began to see that I was choosing to be negative.  Let's face it the world presents us with innumerable excuses to be negative, but too often we overlook the other innumerable chances to be positive.

So let's make the internet cheerier in August!

Tales of the 13th Age: Company of Badgers

El Jefe formed an adventuring company and has contract several members for the first leg of the operation.  Those who signed his contract are obligated to journey to Roachdale and recover an item they are only allowed to disclose to him. 

In turn he has taken care of their room and board in New Port and has provided them with a per diem and supplies to make a round trip journey to the settlement.

The brave souls who have signed on are:

Joshua Umbertusk, a half-orc monk walking the Shakti Path.  He is fastidious about his cleanliness and appearance and prides himself on nearly passing as a human.  He has put his faith in the hands of the Priestess and sought out the esoteric katas of the Great Gold Wyrm.

Dalthorian, a serious and careful long haired wood elf and the Last Survivor of the Kel'Thasar (One Unique Thing).  He is devoted to the Great Gold Wyrm.

Ulrik Bgrrrrr, a dirty and grim wood elf who has been Raised by Bears (One Unique Thing).  He is accompanied by his "older brother", Popo, a bristlebearn bear who is good at driving wagons and is deeply concerned for the groups well being, bordering on paranoia.  He strongly supports the High Druid.

Dusk, a tall, wisp of a drow.  She is filthy and unkempt and is always on edge.  She suffers from Cleptomania (One Unique Thing), and is constantly redistributing the team's belongings.  She has garnered the attention of the Prince of Shadows.

Tiffanie, Desiray, and Martha Swanshadow, high elven triplets who have chosen to carry on the Swanshadow family tradition of being adventurers.  Tiffanie can Talk to Animals (One Unique Thing).  Desiray Spent Many Years as a Yeti (One Unique Thing).  And Martha Dreads Storms Because They Reveal the Future (One Unique Thing).  All three have strong ties to the Elf Queen.

Alora Dannon, a half-orc reaver and sellsword with little beauty and even less brains.  She is a loner and prefers silence.  She has served in the Orc Lord's army.

Johnny Walker Cash, a human bard with a mysterious past.  He is very talkative and extroverted and constantly talks bout his partial amnesia and strange black cowpunching boots.  He constantly drinks from his Flask That Never Empties and has never met a stranger.  He has crossed paths with the Prince of Shadows, served the Priestess faithfully, and run afoul of the Lich King.

El Jefe did provide a rare and strange brass cart and four stout horses to pull it.  He has also hinted that others may join their ranks.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Tales of the 13th Age: Enrique Del Fuego

Enrique "El Jefe" Del Fuego has recently gained notoriety  in the Seven Cities for looking for agents willing to partake a mission "rich with equal parts danger and fortune."

Its notable that established adventurers such as Sheena "She-Ra" Rath, Sargoo the Sapient, and Billy Ray Cordite have been turned down by El Jefe.

Recently, Enrique assembled a team, a rag tag band of exuberant, yet unknown adventurers set out from the city of New Port to Roachdale.

Roachdale is a bustling fur and lumber settlement amidst Volmer's forest (the Wild Wood) and southeast of New Port by about four days travel.  The trip is fairly easy as Roachdale is connected to New Port by the Pilgrim's Road (the New Road).

Rumors surround Enrique Del Fuego:

1) In the last month, he has hired two prior teams to make the journey to Roachdale in search of a mysterious treasure.

2) Enrique's wife, Esmeralda Faustina, was sacrificed to the Lich King while he was leading a merchant caravan between Santa Cora and Horizon.  She was sacrificed as punishment for offering their daughter, Anabella, to the Diabolist as a blood pact so she may finally give her husband a son.

3) Enrique is being observed by the Wotangamut.

4) Enrique is a staunch follower of the Priestess and has earned the title El Jefe due to his generosity.

5) Enrique recovered and sold the Lich King's True Hand to a collector in Axis several years ago.

6) Enrique murdered his business partner, Victor Capello, because he believed that Capello was responsible for his wife's death.

13th Age: Stalktopus

Stalktopus (Thank you, Glorantha)

Slithering, sliding and swinging through dark places, the stalktopus is driven only by its hunger for prey.  Whole groups of unfortunate pilgrims have had their remains found, all fallen to the unquenchable hunger of this ruthless beast

1st level offensive [BEAST]
Initiative: +4

Tentacle lash +9 vs. PD—5 damage.
Natural even hit:  1 nearby enemies takes 1d6 damage.

C: Tentacle grab +9 vs. PD—7 damage and you are grabbed.
Natural 16+:  3 ongoing poison damage.

Flexible: The stalktopus can disengage from enemies with an easy save (6+).

AC 14
PD  14                              HP 27
MD  8

Checking In

So the online store keeps on growing and things all around keep getting busier, but I need to draw a line in the sand and get back to posting.

In case you missed it, WotC released a new DnD Playtest Package last week.  I'm going to assume its the version of the rules I'll be getting in the Gen Con Dragonspear Castle exclusive (no I'm probably not going, but I have many friends who are).  I do think the rules keep getting better, but at what point is development going to move from rules creation to rules editing and smoothing out?

Meanwhile, I deeply infatuated with 13th Age and am glad Primeval Thule will be supporting it and hope Dragon Kings will be able to, as well.

On the other hand, I've had the Numenera eBook for over a week and it hasn't really grabbed me anymore than the playtest file.  But, I've had very little time to look it over.

There should be some Tales of the 13th Age updates coming in soon and I hope to get back to a better pace.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Tales of the 13th Age: Character Generation

As a HUGE fan of Fire Opal Media and Pelgrane Press's 13th Age, I'm eager to run a game as part of the Tales of the 13th Age Organized Play program which kicked off today.

First adventure is Crown of the Lich King and my group has made a Human Bard, Half-Orc Barbarian, Elf Ranger, Drow Rogue, and Half-Orc Monk (I'm expecting at least one more character).

We'll be starting the first session ASAP and I'm very keen on the resources we've been given and owe a big shout out to ASH Law for keeping us informed, answering questions, and just being awesome.

I'm pretty hyped to get things moving and can't recommend 13th Age enough!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ushering In August...

Well, my schedule has been too hectic to close out July, so we'll usher in August.

Not as much posting this month.  I started an online store for my company and it's been incredibly busy.  A good busy, but it's cut into my free time.

I've been on hiatus with my game, but I'm hoping to start Tales of the 13th Age at my store soon.

The 13th Age Limited Edition book is completely gorgeous and Fire Opal and Pelgrane Press really outdid themselves.

I'm super excited about the Primeval Thule setting and glad they met their Kickstarter goal.

It's been a busy month and the kids will be heading back to school soon.

I wish everyone well and hope to find more time to post in August.

Be well.

Thundarr the Movie

As a life-long comics fan and a retailer with a quarter century of experience, I was today years old when I discovered that Buzz Dixon and ...