Basically Fantastic session 2: The Lightning Vault, part 2.

Calendel, Valdis, Annonciade, Kestrel, and Søren (continued from part 1).

The adventurers threw torches and fired a magically illuminated arrow into the darkness to get a sense of what stood against them; on the other side of the pit trap, barricades with hill folk defending them, and behind that a tall menacing cloaked figure with a massive sword and bodyguards.

Arrows and magical bolts paved the way for the fighters, who ran one down each side of the pit, assaulting the barricade and chopping through the hill folk. Calendel and Søren combined fire on the leader, taking him out from a distance. The battle was over for the moment.


The massive shrine chamber had a carpentry workshop and piled lumber, and restorative work on a mural that appeared to be a many-headed dragon triumphant, bursting through the crust of the world like a lava plume. The frontspiece had a prayer, something about sacrifice and lightning, that had been covered over with artwork and was being restored.

Frank wasn’t impressed by the leader’s corpse; apparently Tolfree had been decapitated, slowly tortured to death, corpse burned, and buried alive, but he always came back and killed the ones who killed him, then reasserted himself. Valdis lopped the corpses head off, and embedded the sword in the body of the dragon mural. Calendel took the head, nicknamed it ‘Alice’, and tucked it under his arm to carry around. The corpse itself radiated a glittery magical energy to Søren’s magesight, because the corpse’s “death” was missing so it could not truly end.

The Girlfriend

The adventurers checked a side chamber to find Tolfree’s personal space, with a sultry girlfriend in a pile of bedding. She rhapsodized about Tolfree’s skills as a lover, and was casual about his severed head; he’d be back. He promised to bring her back if she died, but she wasn’t sure she believed he would. Interrogated about his other special abilities, and how she entered the picture, she told them she was a friend to wizards and she had been traded to Tolfree in a complex series of games of chance involving trading spells among other esoteric prizes, and they since became affectionate as well as intimate. Søren threw a dagger into her face, killing her.

The adventurers rifled the room, finding barrel lamps and some supplies and several folios of artwork. Tolfree also scribbled some about his prayers and back story in between sketches planning out the mural under construction in the next room.

Traps, Threats, Rituals

The adventurers continued exploring, finding another store room, and a hallway down some stairs. A complex metal door had defiant mystical glyphs that were enchanted to prevent the incorporeal from passing through, and the door’s complex defenses included pockets of acid and magical traps; Annonciate recommended bypassing it, so they left the cold door alone. Then she found traps on every other step on the next flight down; they collected ambient energy, then shocked anyone touching them. There were charred corpses at the bottom of the staircase.

They found a curve in the corridor with glyphs built around it, glowing; it was clearly a barrier, and it appeared that the glyphs fed the energy to the “Fifth Head” presumably of the dragon figure. Calendel checked in this Big Book of Etiquette, and found that the Fifth Head devoured magical sacrifices and energy death in one of the obscure passages in giving gifts to draconians.

The adventurers went upstairs and found a not-quite-dead hill man, dragging him downstairs and tossing him through the warding; he was disintegrated, only a skull remained. But that shorted out the barrier, and they strolled through.

At the bend, they found a ritual chamber that had seen recent use, with a ring of black liquid and a chalice in the center, runes indicating it was a communication place that crossed barriers between things.

The Lightning Vault Door

They left the ritual chamber alone, continuing down a hallway scored with increasingly complex inlaid scoring like lightning strikes. At the end of a very long hallway, they found a complicated interdimensionally defended vault door–this would likely be the Lightning Vault. The complex door’s center was a diamond-shaped open dragon mouth pointed down the hallway.

Concerned that tampering with it might fill the long hallway with no cover with some sort of lethal reaction, they withdrew. At the same time, Tolfree’s head dissolved to sand–he was probably reconstituted. They retreated back upstairs, noting the sword and his corpse were missing, and the door to the outside had been opened, with a fire built just outside to ruin night vision and illuminate their shadowy movements inside.

A New Alliance

Calendel agree to parlay with Tolfree, coming out without his bow to meet the unarmed (and apparently unkillable) man. Tolfree suggested they work together; both wanted to get into the Lightning Vault. Tolfree wanted his death, which he had been assured waited within. They could have the treasure, which was also a region-scale weapon. They could use it, keep it out of the wrong hands, whatever; he didn’t care.

Calendel took the deal back to the others, who agreed to at least hear Tolfree out (understanding that they definitely planned to betray him, and in no way trusted him.)

Tolfree told them he needed to secure the Lightning Vault, and get divine energy of the right kind that could be channeled into the door, that was the only thing that would open it. He was going to go down the Spine Coast or to the city of Shadelport to pursue the lore needed to acquire such a thing, but if they would work with him, he could use the thirty or so hillfolk he had left and defend the site quietly (instead of aggressively recruiting, as was his plan) and they could get lore.

If they promised to bring him enough books to do research within 1 month, and some divine energy within 6 months (by winter solstice), he would consider them partners and let them go. They agreed. He gave them a war chest of a pouch full of sapphires and diamonds as a war chest, about 10,000 gold. They celebrated together, sharing venison and other foraged food with the hill people.

Attention to Backstory

Søren was unmoved by this new alliance, furious with the people who destroyed his village and killed his mentor, and a momentary alliance changed none of that. He kept to himself, only Frank bringing him food and trying to keep him company. He left Frank to keep an eye on the hill people in his absence, knowing that in the meantime the friendship enchantment would wear off and leave him feeling soiled.

Valdis talked more with Tolfree, finding that he had been ritualistically slain and mummified for offending followers of Zomok, one of the pre-Saints gods–the most powerful of them. Zomok had no independent power, but could turn a wish into reality, as a god of the crossroads and dark bargains. He gave supplicants what they wished for, and then they were sorry; his whole conceptual and frame was based on the idea that people want the wrong things, and if they all got their wishes it would destroy everything worthwhile in the world. The frustrations, checks, balances, and limitations of the thinking peoples were profoundly important, and he was the consequence when they were defeated.

As an example, three hundred years after he was condemned to an ever-wakeful entombment (exactly what his murderers wanted), he was released and he spent four years hunting down the ancestors of those who cursed him, destroying them (and making their tribes sorry). Then he started this quest, to end his immortal suffering.

Valdis was scarred by lightning at the same moment Tolfree was released five years ago. Tolfree suggested perhaps their fates were entwined, perhaps Valdis had to have something burned out of her to make space for carrying that divine spark that could open the Lightning Vault.

Tolfree also explained he was trying to research what demigod was mixed up in this; he suggested it was a child of Zomok and another god, focused on lightning. He was trying to find out more so he could properly target a quest to acquire the needed energy and open the Lightning Vault. That was the research he meant to conduct.

Noticing Valdis admired his bright-bladed centuries old sword, Tolfree offered it to her; she initially was thrilled, but decided it would draw too much attention (6 foot long total, 4 feet of blade) and declined the gift. She also declined his advances.

Annonciade also inquired around and found Mandy the lamb, who was going to be a pet for a hill man’s daughter; but they killed that hill man with an elven arrow to the face, and survivors were fine with her taking the lamb. Wooly Bah was very satisfied to see the young thing, adopting Mandy at once.

Onward with Dark Purpose

The next morning, the adventurers headed out, none the worse for wear. Their objective was Shadelport. They spent some coin and preparation to head towards that major city, to acquire research material and pin down some next steps to pursue the cosmic spark.

Somehow, in the shadow of Zomok, the adventurers sensed that they would get exactly what they wanted.

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Basically Fantastic session 2: The Lightning Vault, Part 1

Calendel, Valdis, Annonciade, and Kestrel were in Elbow Creek for about a week and a half, and the new caravan came in with supplies; the wagons were unloaded in the driving rain as the characters looked on from the bustling beer tent. Søren the wizard (Michael) came in with the caravan as well as a batch of rogues and henchmen. Since the party was considering a raid on a bandit lair, they wanted a wizard, and Søren was hired on.

Annonciade had spread around some coin and gathered rumors on a place that used to be a temple, guarded by templar, called the Lightning Vault. It was rumored to have some grand treasure or a region-scale curse locked away below the temple, accounts are confused on the matter. Anyway, a bandit leader named Tolfree was rumored to have set up there, gathering hill people as skirmishers and preying on settlements all across the mountains.

Tolfree hit a number of settlements on his way to the area, and one was Broadlawn, home of Meddler the Wizard based in Eclipse Tower. Meddler trained Søren. When Tolfree blew through, not only was the town wiped out, its defender Meddler was also killed. Søren was hunting the bandit who did this to his mentor and friends.

To the Lightning Vault

A crazed old woman named Lady had a flock of sheep and goats, and she ranted about how the storm was portentous and full of fate. The party asked her to guide them up the mountain trails to the Lightning Vault, and she agreed.

A very large black sheep named Woolly Bah turned out to be the real herder, and Lady was more a member of Woolly Bah’s flock than his owner. Annonciade befriended the regal sheep, and they followed an ancient secret road up into the lower mountains, passing the occasional shrine. Woolly Bah compelled all of his flock but Lady to wait in a valley before taking the party to a ridge overlooking the secretive entrance to the temple, with a camp of a dozen hill people in front of it.

Annonciade scouted the site, and also discovered there were two hunting parties of a half a dozen hillfolk each that were out in the woods right now. She took the news back, and Calendel observed arrow slits flanking the door in; they decided to wipe out the scouts and look for a back entrance.

Ambush and Infiltration

The party caught up with the first fast moving skirmish hunting pack and took them out with an opening flurry of ranged magic followed up by charging stabs. Relocating, they fell upon another pack and blew through five of the six in seconds, inspiring the last one to surrender.

Søren interrogated him, determining he was of low standing in the group and not even allowed in the temple. The leader, Tolfree, was immune to knife wounds and prayed to some weird god, and had a slave that intimidated Frank and had some strange power or agenda.

Frank was at Broadlawn, and Søren put him under a spell so Frank would accept danger to defend him. They didn’t like Frank’s idea of trying to get smuggled in under a tarp on a cart, so they searched the hilltop for a back door.

Calendel’s elf senses picked up on a chimney from inside the temple, and Annonciade figured out how to open its grating. Calendel climbed down headfirst, followed by Kestrel, and the light-footed adventurers popped out of the bottom of the chimney, killing the big cook as she was beating a server to death with a ladle. The others managed to get down the hot chimney more or less intact (Frank fell, banging his head and landing in the fire, and Kestrel pulled him back from the brink using his medical skill.)

Slaying Commenced

Hillfolk in the large chamber beyond noticed something was awry, but before they could react Calendel was firing arrows through them; a grand battle followed, and the party dropped the hillfolk and also rushed to slam and bar the big doors sealing off the rooms with arrow slits flanking the entrance and the entrance itself. Now the only way to go was further in, and as reinforcements charged past the concealed pit trap, they managed to drop Calendel before being mowed down.

An uneasy standoff resulted as the hillfolk doused the lights further in, and Kestrel got Calendel back on his feet. (TO BE CONTINUED…)

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Basically Fantastic session 1: Death of the Necromancer

Calendel Evenstar (Simon) Elf with a Book of Power and a dagger that glows when draconic creatures are near.

Valdis Arden (Iris) Fighter looking for a potential protogod of lightning.

Annonciade Oliver (Kristy) Thief with a collapsible bow looking for the old gods.

Kestrel (Shaun) Fighter who used to be a bird, polymorphed to human, who wants to find a new way to fly.


During the ongoing war with the Slizardians, Annonciade was a skirmisher, Calendel was a translator and medic, and Kestrel was liberated from a wizard’s lab and gained fame by slaying a massive dinosaur that scarred him with its bite. Valdis stayed home and served as a mountain settlement’s champion defender.

Calendel united the party as he was looking for help; a necromancer razed an elven settlement, and used customized death magic to raise a number of his kin as ghouls–a fate that elves should not be vulnerable to suffering. He hunts the necromancer and his impossible magic, seeking vengeance and rest for his family. The neromancer has a specialized scroll of death magic called the “Word of Filestrian Sorrow.” A mysterious man in Elbow Creek offered to pay top coin for the scroll, and to keep it out of the hands of necromancers.

The Ambush

Closing in on the slower pack of undead in a grueling snowy high-altitude march, the company spots some strange halfling-sized nomads riding massive winter wolves finding the undead trail and following them. Deciding to keep their distance and let that play out, they witness an ambush as a pack of elven ghouls burrowed into the snow to waylay pursuers.

Joining the fray, the company battles the graceful elven ghouls, evading their paralytic touch and side-stepping the winter wolf cold breath, defeating the undead then engaging in an uneasy parlay with the highland nomads. Calendel negotiated passage with the nomads, and a wolf breathed on them to mark them as permitted. They resumed the chase.


They tried to outpace the undead before nightfall, when their powers would increase; Calendel managed to get close enough to fire an arrow with uncanny elven precision, slaying the necromancer (who was carried on the back of an armored undead) at long, long range.

The company caught up now that the undead were not spurred to greater efforts, and in a brutal conflict they hacked down the elven ghouls and confronted the armored elites. Valdis was knocked down with savage blows to the face, but the company triumphed and Kestrel’s healing touch restored Valdis so she didn’t lose an eye.

The company recovered the massive golden scroll of the Word of Filestrian Sorrow, and also got the necromancer’s spellbook. After a short overnight, they returned to Elbow Creek for drinks and recovery.


Valdis drank to ease the pain from a cracked face, and Annonciade picked the lock on the spellbook, and was cursed to be haunted by a ghost. The company funded her trip to a shrine of the Saints, where she was given a cleansing baptism to break the curse. They sold the scroll and were handsomely paid.

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Basically Fantastic, Human Talents

Games tend to assume humans are the baseline. I’ve got racial talents for elves, dwarves, and halflings in Basically Fantastic. I figured I’d add some human talents too.

These talents are available for characters who are one of those races, or have some of that race’s essence mixed in with them (and there are lots of ways for that to happen besides genetics.) So, if you are uniquely human, or part human and got some of their traits, what might materialize?

I recommend thinking about what makes us human. How you would define humanity, the most distinctive and peculiar essence of what makes us what we are. Here’s what I came up with.

Human Talents

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“Bailiff’s Crown” Black Space, Session 2

Starting where we left off last time, with LYNX (JJ), Flavius (Anders), and swapping Kojiro for “O” (Imre).

Black Space Logo

With a flash in the space suit, Kojiro was swapped out for O. The spacers didn’t have time to gawk at that oddity, as they were under fire. Favius tried to detect vibrations in the hull plating to locate the shooter that was menacing them. LYNX leaped out and grabbed the cyborg, holding a blade up to him and threatening to kill him if the shooter didn’t stop. The cyborg told LYNX that if the threat continued he would never cooperate, so LYNX backed off a step–and got shot, pinwheeling back into the wreckage.

Surviving the Sniper

O connected his internal power source to a turret, restoring its scanners to try and locate the shooter, establishing there was probably one cloaked threat (not a group, or robots.) He connected the spacers with a psychic link. Flavius charged up a hill of trash to try and spot the shooter, noting the trajectory LYNX flew back. He was shot for his trouble, and after a false start O managed to locate the shooter telepathically, communicating that information to the others. They began to close in, with LYNX using his cybers to leap up into the catwalks and overhead structures as Flavius continued trying to maneuver closer.

Finally as O pinned the shooter down by gunning through overhanging equipment so it fell, then zeroing in on the retreating assailant, LYNX got a shot off. Flavius charged their tormentor with his sword and cut him down, lopping off an arm and cutting into his head, knocking the shooter back to be impaled on an exposed pipe.

Exit Plan

After patching up the wounded, they noted that the shooter’s corpse and equipment was melting (except for the lopped-off arm and greave.) Only then did they notice that Clyde was gone, and the cyborg with her. They were on their own, and she had a head start getting back to the only way off the planet.

During the fight, O’s telepathy had flexed oddly, connecting LYNX’s mind with the assassin to locate him in spite of his stealth, and also connected LYNX and Flavius a little too tightly. LYNX knew the assassin came in a stealth ship, and as O managed to hack into the greave past its defenses to get the location and access code for the ship, a curious drone came to check out the signs of battle; they quietly slipped away and out of the crashed ship.

A hike across the blasted wasteland later, they found the ship, and O managed to bypass its defenses so they could climb aboard. They barely eluded detection by planetary defenses long enough to bolt for freedom.

All’s Well

LYNX contacted his anarchist pals and managed to offload the stealth ship for 500,000 credits without getting killed or attracting further attention. When they logged in to the network and demonstrated they were still alive, their employer Clyde paid them the remaining 500 credits owed (in addition to the 500 for showing up.) Time to pay some debts!

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Pool of Force

Social media is awash in Star Wars today. Reminds me of this project I got to about 40-50% done. Still playable, I think it’s cool, might run it at some point of I get some keen players. It’s very different from Black Space, but both are cool in their own way.

Star Wars Pool of Force Banner

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Basically Fantastic Draft Player Guides

This gallery contains 4 photos.

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