Guns of Telluria: The Traveler’s Lands

SESSION ONE

4/12/2021 IRL. November 1,1921 IG.

  • John Stickman. Rugged and tough veteran of the Tellurian War, armed and armored.
  • Dorothy Gale. Former prisoner of war, weirded with a metal arm and occasional manifestation of animalistic teeth while under stress. Accompanied by her faithful German shepherd Toto, a well-trained glamour sniffer.

Between

They crackle out of the gate in the Between, a strange ruined area between realms. Looking around, they met Caretaker Bickle, a deep gnome. When Prince Gatlas was killed by the Tellurians (including Stickman and Gale), Bickle failed to protect his prince, so he was bound to the curse and must meet them in this space when they go between worlds. He cannot kill them, and they cannot kill him.

The adventurers scouted the dim ruinfinding a statue of Gatlas and checking out the greenery overgrowing it. They used Toto’s sniffer to their advantage, and eventually found the gateway in the fountain that would provide an exit–just not an exit to Telluria.

The Traveler’s Gate

The adventurers emerged through a blaze of light in the setting sun, through a cleft in a mountaintop. A faun, Glaman, was waiting there for insight as he often did, and got them instead. Cheerful, he invited them to join him in his boat and cross the water to Shellville. The disoriented adventurers agreed, following him down the treacherous stairs to where his boat was moored. Along the way, Glaman pointed out weird spider-centaur creatures that watched them, calling them skittern and observing that they keep the peace.

The voyage across the waters was brief, and Glaman could not take them directly into Shellville as only the followers of Ostrum the Traveler could overnight in town. They could be identified by blue paint on their faces, stripes under their eyes. Instead, Glaman took them to nearby caves where visitors could stay under the observation of the lurking skittern.

Overnight

Entering the spacious and echoing cave, Gale and Stickman met a fellow Tellurian traveler. Nulin was in Shellville looking for a curse-breaker. A harpy cursed him so he could not experience pleasure from beauty or art, and he felt barely alive. He was following up on leads that a Tuatha De Danaan, an elven princess named Nykla, sometimes visited Shellville. Nulin offered to show them around Shellville in the morning, and the adventurers looked forward to it.

His assistant Naria was a mixed blood, Tuatha de Danaan and Tellurian, and she was making his travel easier. She was studying magic, and impatient to move on, but Nulin was sure there was a clue here in Shellville to break his curse.

Nulin’s other assistant was Yinger, a creepy fey woman who fed on curses and bonded to him somehow. She was sometimes helpful with the locals or providing lore. She offered to taste their blood and bond with their curse, but the adventurers declined.

Looking around the cavern, the adventurers also spotted three redcaps keeping an uncomfortably close watch over them. Another camp was Lord Bloss, a wealthy and massive goblin who was a leader during the war and was now looking to enjoy art and travel, trying to put the war in the past.

Setting up their fancy gnome hammocks, the adventurers passed a fairly comfortable night.

Shellville

Nulin used his experience from visiting the town for a couple weeks to show them around, and they met many notables. The townsfolk didn’t expect money, they shared food and services and art out of their extra.

The adventurers met the fey and Tellurian proprietors of the shell-sculpted theater, discovering their guide Glaman from the previous day was also a costumer and set decorator. He was happy to make them some new clothes. Stickman offered some art direction on a Tellurian backdrop for a play, helping the fey get a better grasp on things like cars and skyscrapers. Gale also offered her singing talent, which was certainly not what the Ostramites were used to.

After a refreshing lunch at the Seatable, eating all manner of delicious sea food in a building fashioned out of giant shells, Biggans (an Ostramite who ran the restaurant) told them there was a carriage-sized crab nearby that they could hunt for food if they wanted to assist. The adventurers agreed, going out on a brief expedition. The Ostramites flushed the crab, and the Tellurians gunned it down.

A fey scout, Panek, reported that Princess Nykla had been spotted in the area and might stop by Shellville. Yinger was confident that the much larger curse burdening Gale and Stickman would draw her in.

The Elf Princess

After a feast showcasing the carriage crab, feeding the whole community, the adventurers were allowed to stay in town pending the elf princess’s visit. Sure enough, Princess Nykla’s boat gleamed in the moonlight, drifting to a halt on the shore. She tucked the boat into her shadow, then visited the Traveler’s Temple.

While she was inside, Noblet the ogre said if the adventurers could persuade or provoke the princess to sing, he would go along personally to assure a safe trip to their next destination; otherwise, he would send Panek along on their trip, on behalf of the Starshell Guild of local explorers. The adventurers didn’t like that risk, and instead waited for the princess to focus on them. Their curse was sure to draw her attention.

Sure enough, she approached Stickman, Gale, and Nulin. First she focused on Nulin, and told Yinger to seek out Melleyard. Then she turned to the adventurers, concentrating. Their curse was too dire for Melleyard to resolve, but if they assisted Nulin, they could get a step closer to breaking it.

Having discharged that task, she retrieved her boat from the shadows, and continued her voyage. The Tellurians returned to the cave for the night.

SESSION TWO

4/19/2021 IRL. November 3, 1921 IG.

Stickman and Gale agreed to go with Nulin to find Melleyard. Yinger needed to concentrate overnight to figure out Melleyard’s location; apparently she was a harpy with a nasty little flock (a “screech” of harpies) that frequented the Traveler’s Lands. The Tellurians were unsettled by the intense scrutiny of the redcaps.

Preparing to Go

The next day they returned to Shellville. Yinger explained that to find Melleyard, they would need to travel to the Dronechambers, crystalline caves up in the mountains with peculiar resonant properties as well as natural beauty.

The Tellurians decided to spend another day getting ready so they could leave on the following dawn. They got sturdy boots made by the costumers, to replace their somewhat dilapidated military issue. Panek arranged for them to borrow a couple small riverboats, and she agreed to guide the expedition. They chatted with the friendly Ostramites, exchanging art and chores. After a long and pleasant day in town, they returned to the caves for the night. The redcaps were nowhere to be seen.

The Riverfin

After a short hike to the river bank, they loaded the boats and traveled along the river, fortunately going with the current. Panek told them stories of the many hazards along the way; the buzzfeeders that pounced on unwary travelers in the badlands, the Moonsheperd who tended the ripples of light on the river, and the Riverfin, a giant river monster that was riled up recently and might feel aggressive if it noticed them.

They were warned, but that didn’t provide comfort when they saw the lazy fin breach the surface. The river monster noticed them, and charged the boat, capsizing Gale and Stickman. While Stickman desperately tried to right the boat and save as many supplies as possible, Gale was torn from the hull and dragged through the river.

Desperate, Gale opened up her fey-twisted metal arm, tearing at the Riverfin’s flank and gills as she kept a tight grip on her rifle. The supernatural drain of the arm, combined with its blade-sharp claws, mauled the river monster; it shook her off and escaped, having lost its belligerence and appetite. Battered by the parting tail swipe, Gale struggled back towards the boat, and was pulled to safety by Stickman.

The Badlands Crossing

Regrouping, the expedition continued up the river to the badlands. They managed to avoid the buzzfeeders, and they finally closed in on the road marker: this way to the Dronechambers.

SESSION THREE

5/3/2021 IRL. November 4, 1921 IG.

As Gale and Stickman protected the expedition, following Panek along the path to the Dronechambers, they were intercepted by one of the Kellsek harpies. They explained they had come to see Melleyard. The harpy insisted the screech controlled the Dronechambers for a month, they had skittern permission! Grudgingly, the harpy went to check with Melleyard, to see if the harpy leader would meet with the Tellurians.

The Curse-Breaking Harpy

The harpy soon returned, and led them into the Dronechambers. The dark and echoing chambers were crusted with crystalline growths. Melleyard was perched on a giant crystal. She agreed to break Nulin’s curse–if Stickman and Gale would assist in her effort to form the Chime Guardian, a resonant beast said to be dissipated in the ambient energy of the Dronechambers.

Melleyard would need the mapsense that Stickman had mixed into him, grounding him in the Traveler’s Lands. She would also need to use the fey limb on Gale, as a catalyst for the frequency and energy she was using to resonate with the crystals. How would that help Gale and Stickman with their curse? Melleyard said the Chime Guardian could create a resonance to open a gate to the next stage of their journey, a step closer to breaking the curse. Reluctantly, the Tellurians agreed.

Nulin offered them whatever he could as a reward for their assistance with breaking his curse, and they appreciated that but did not have an immediate price in mind. Nulin positioned himself, and Melleyard used complex resonances and harmonies, boosted by her screech. The crystals lit up with a strange glow, and the curse on Nulin was dissipated, leaving him a weeping wreck suffused with relief.

The Chime Guardian

Melleyard repositioned her screech, instructing the Tellurians to place their hands on the crystal beneath her claws. She connected the three of them, and the crystal, with subtle tones from her throbbing throat.

In that interconnected consciousness, Stickman got a strange insight into a moment that was branded into Gale’s heart; the sensation of smoke, flames, a plane crash: Gale’s fiancee, Hank, was a barnstormer. His plane crashed, she cradled his dying body–

The eldritch cast of the tones resonated from Gale’s fey limb, thoroughly grounded with the authority of Stickman’s mapsense. Mellyard was able to focus through those filters to condense an ambient presence. The Chime Guardian took form, a dragon-sized scaled creature, iridescent and beautiful yet alien and terrifying. The song shared by the trio through the crystal bound the Chime Guardian to the harpy’s will, at least temporarily.

Shaking with exhaustion, Melleyard made good on her promise. The Chime Guardian was capable of vibing with the curse energies on Stickman and Gale. The Chime Guardian concentrated, ringing a strange tone, and the lake formed a glassy portal.

Nala balked at going through, as she sensed profound darkness on the other side. Yinger would only go if bonded, and the adventurers declined to participate in that kind of weirdness. It was time to part ways.

Breaking the Seal

After brief goodbyes, Gale and Stickman leaped into the portal. They bounced out in the Between, where Bickle was alarmed by the seismic trembling through the world. A tree cranked back, with a portal gaping below its torn roots.

Steeling themselves, the adventurers leaped in.

They burst out the other side of the portal in a spray of dust and gravel, obscuring their surroundings. The heat and humidity were suffocating, and they could not see through the fog of dust. Staggering out of a narrow room, they found themselves atop a step pyramid, surrounded by thick jungle, as the sun sank…

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Basically Fantastic: The Webwaft Duel

For her birthday, Kristy wanted to play Basically Fantastic again. Last night, we did.

The lead-up to that event involved piecing together the campaign to this point. This is session 32 of a campaign where the last session we played was in March 2020, fifteen months ago.

I have attached the document with summaries of the 32 sessions we’ve played.

Is this the best fantasy campaign I have ever run? It may well be. It pulls from previous campaigns but blazes new trails in lore and system. I hope my players enjoy this game, and continue to enjoy it as we pick up where we left off.

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Quest of the Monster Catcher

Michael has played his first role playing sessions with me. Here are the play reports. This post is mainly for me, so I can look back on it from the future. You are welcome to read if you like.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eiC8Aw6OgU3LwSF6mSbHYY6A6hoGCtZAY4ge2bWblMM/edit?usp=sharing

Background

I was thinking he might be about ready, so I started pulling together a concept for a game where he could play a monster catcher (which is a central motif in his creative play) leading a pack of friendly and loving monsters on a rescue mission to collect more of them.

I mentioned this to him, promising to run a game for him when school was out. I told him a few basics; a Nightmare Maze of black stone with rooms full of dreams, haunted by Nightmare Hands. A Stone Wizard that turned all the monsters to stone, and he would have to go rescue them using Power Pellets made by his pet sheep Jellybean.

He likes Originator Monsters, his stuffie Jellybean, the opening storyline of Smash Ultimate with Master Hands and capture beams… I basically aimed to add a little structure to what he already likes. That’s what role playing games do best, really. You can play among your favorite toys.

I suggested he draw his house. A few minutes later he came back with a picture of the house. Also a picture with a Power Pellet, d6, and ability card drawn on. A picture of the Stone Wizard. A page with all his monster catcher gear drawn out. A page with drawings of his favorite foods ranked for how much health you get back for eating them. In true video game style, 20 world bosses. He told me their names and a detail or two about each as I took notes.

Of course I’m going to use those world bosses to drive the adventure planning. There is something sweet and heady about the enthusiasm of a new player, and while I know there’s plenty of opportunity for this to crash and burn, I am determined to enjoy it as long as I can.

He was trying to figure out if this was a show, or a video game, or a board game, or what. Rather than trying to explain it, I figured we’d get started and he’d figure it out.

System

I use Shields Up! Basic, at a very basic level. Roll d6s as a pool. 5-6 is a success normally; if it’s easy, 4-6 is a success. If it’s hard, only 6 is a success. Roll 1d for making an attempt, +1d if you have a relevant skill, +1d if you have relevant gear, +1d if you have appropriate help. 1 success succeeds with a complication, 2 is full success, 3 or more is an extra advantage. Set up the contextual framework of what’s possible based on context, then interpret dice results.

He’s got monster catching gloves and bright red shoes that help him run and dodge and jump, so I can give him the gear +1d on most tasks. His ever-helpful monsters can’t act independently very well without Power Pellets, but they can often grant +1d to what he’s trying to do (and they are a great source of complications when getting just 1 success). Death is off the table, so failure is fairly low stakes.

It Begins

Our opening games have gone better than I expected. We still have friction about what fiction I can establish, and what fiction he can establish, but I generally take most of his assertions and let them be real in the world. I draw a firmer line when he’s describing what NPCs are doing off screen, when he’s granting himself powers and gear out of thin air, and when he’s coaxing the dice to do something different. (“That was a test roll!” “Three plus three is six, that’s a success!”)

Friday, May 28, 2021 we played our first session together. I aim for 30-40 minutes tops, figured I’d be lucky to keep his attention that long. He played through session one and was keen to do another one, so we did. Then, like a good dungeon crawler, I quit while I was ahead. Also I promised we could play again in the morning.

So this morning we played again, another two sessions. I think he is like many players in that what happens in the game is a surface thing, with little joys and little frustrations, but the impact on the imagination behind the moment is outsized.

I sit in a chair, he moves around the room while we play. I now insist on a box lid to roll in so I can see the results and we don’t expect him to keep the dice on the relatively flat rug (they rolled off on the carpet at first.)

I did tell him he didn’t need to worry about parents for his character (which he cannot really separate entirely from his own persona.) Still, he wanted them in the fiction, so they live in the monster hotel nearby. Before and after missions, he likes to call them on the phone and tell them what he’s doing. That does warm my heart a bit.

He doesn’t bat an eye at me playing myself and his mother as NPCs. I will never really understand how players easily accept some conventions of make-believe but draw hard lines around others. Even my own distinctions.

Anyway, now we’ve played together. It’s certainly not perfect, but that was never the goal. It’s a gateway. Maybe we can expand how we play together and we can help each other improve at sharing that creative space.

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Guns of Telluria: Toy Soldiers

3/8/2021 IRL. October 1921 IG.

  • John Stickman. Rugged and tough veteran of the Tellurian War, armed and armored.
  • Dorothy Gale. Former prisoner of war, weirded with a metal arm and occasional manifestation of animalistic teeth while under stress. Accompanied by her faithful German shepherd Toto, a well-trained glamour sniffer.

Iazu, Deep Gnome Township

Gale and Stickman traveled a road up through the mountains, following Stickman’s map from Dr. Broddico and Master Vin towards the “Traveler’s Lands” to see if they could find a curse-breaker who would allow them to return to Telluria. A blizzard struck, and Stickman’s reading of the map (aided by its supernatural bond to him) pointed them at an underground route going the right direction, through the caverns of Iazu. They kept to themselves along the way, observing the Tuatha Danaan also on the road, and groups of secretive deep gnomes.

Arrival

The entry to the vast cavern of Iazu was an overlook where they could see the town’s central pillar, and an opening in the roof that let in a swirling column of glittering snow over the sullen community. They were approached by a Bilvyn, a friendly seeming gnome who assumed they were there to meet with Master Omerund, referred by Master Telgur; he expected them to have a car. They asked who he was expecting, and he name-dropped Mr. Cawley. They gently warned him that Mr. Cawley wasn’t very nice and he should be careful, and the gnome burst into tears.

They relocated to an outdoor eatery as he regained control of his emotions. He explained that his master, Omerund, wanted to use deception to capture as many Tellurians as possible and would want him to bring them to him, but Bilvyn was disarmed by their kindness interacting with his conscience and guilt. Omerund was violating the treaty that ended the war, he was crafting arcanum out of the life energy of Tellurians (like themselves) and animating soul-sealed war machines that looked like caricatures of soldiers.

Iazu came under attack in the war, traumatizing the relatively peaceful settlement. Omerund captured some Tellurians, and experimented to infuse their life force into constructs that could defend the settlement if the Tellurians attacked again. He may have developed a consistent process to mass-produce these constructs, and this very night he was meeting with the town council to get approval and resources to build many shells and capture a lot more Tellurians.

Aghast at the horror of what his master was doing, Bilvyn offered to take them to the workshop to free the surviving Tellurians. If they wanted to do it before Omerund returned, they would have to act now.

Quiet-Like

Of course the Tellurians were on board with the rescue. Omerund had six soulsealed war machines posted. One guarded each of the two doors, two stood in the workshop, and one was down in the prison. Bilvyn would do what he could to help; he entered the workshop and brought out two long-bladed orichalcum weapons that would be effective against the soulsealed, arming Gale and Stickman (who took a few minutes to look around the area to prepare, as they planned to leave in a hurry). Then Bilvyn returned to the workshop and deceived the guards, breathlessly reporting on nearby Tellurians. His ruse was effective, drawing two of them out to join him on a merry chase.

To improve their odds further, Gale sent Toto at the soulsealed guarding the door. The dog peed on the construct, then retreated, growling and barking to provoke it. The construct waddled after the dog, leaving the door unguarded. Gale and Stickman approached, studying it, noting that while it was not locked or obviously trapped, the “handle” might be a lure for unsuspecting Tellurians, and the disk on the round door’s center was what the locals would use. Gale touched it with her weirded hand, and the door opened without incident.

Prison Time

Remembering the layout described by Bilvyn (who was extremely successful in keeping two of the soulsealed busy), they passed through the workshop quickly. Master Omerund’s other apprentice, Farkas, was nowhere to be seen. (Bilvyn described him as passionately hating Tellurians and goading this horrific plan on.)

Down the stairs, they found a dank stone prison surrounded by a moat of sorts with creatures lazing around in its still waters. The door was guarded by an inward-facing soulsealed war machine. Gale opened the door rapidly and Stickman lunged in, quickly plunging his long surgical blade into the construct and rupturing its animating force.

Together, the Tellurians hauled the ceiling grating of the prison open, and helped out the six surviving prisoners. Inmon had been experimented upon and was badly injured, but extremely strong to survive. Yanela had her ankles twisted, and could not walk on her own. Rescue was the top priority, and the Tellurians helped each other up the stairs towards the exit.

Escape!

Stickman led the way, and managed to steal over by the door as the construct that chased Toto returned to post. He single-handedly ambushed the soulsealed war machine and put it down quietly enough the guard by the other door was not alerted.

The leader of the prisoners, Boles, rapidly explained that the process of developing a consistent method for creating the soulsealed war machines had a lot of “failures” along the way that created other arcana. He insisted they search the place to locate the documentation of the process, to get it away from the gnomes. Gale was dubious that anything could be done to reverse the distillation inflicted on those turned into arcanum, and prioritized escaping with those who could survive. Boles stayed to search, planning to catch up with them.

The Tellurians got out as the soulsealed distracted by Bilvyn were returning. They loaded the escapees into a goat-drawn cart (Gale used a handful of limp radishes from her magic bag to try and befriend the goat so it would cooperate) and slowly rolled towards the shoreline of the underground lake, where numerous boats were publicly available. They planned to cross the dark waters and escape on the other side, staying ahead of pursuit. Ravenous, the escaped prisoners devoured all Stickman’s rations.

The Far Shore

On the boat ride, the prisoners explained they were former military, recruited by a surveying firm back on Telluria to check out mining opportunities among neutral or somewhat friendly fey communities. They were checking into possible orichalcum deposits when the gnomes drugged and imprisoned them, and half their number became soulsealed. They entered through a curated dimensional crack, and they believed they could reach it and escape back to Telluria. Hardly daring to hope, Gale and Stickman planned to go along with them.

Upon reaching the far shore, they saw trucks and the trailer of Mr. Cawley’s expedition rolling up to the beach. They chose not to warn them, or engage with them at all, moving as fast as they could to stay out of sight. They evaded the opportunists and undertook the difficult trek up to the escape portal.

Bilvyn could not go with them, nor could he return to his master. Gale and Stickman suggested he relocate to Delta Falls, and he agreed that he did know some people there. He was not a deep gnome himself, and he might fit in better there. The Tellurians said goodby, and they passed through the light, hoping to see Earth’s sun once more.

2 experience.

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Guns of Telluria: The Slopeslinger Festival Part 2

2/15/2021 IRL. October 1921 IG.

  • John Stickman. Rugged and tough veteran of the Tellurian War, armed and armored.
  • Dorothy Gale. Former prisoner of war, weirded with a metal arm and occasional manifestation of animalistic teeth while under stress. Accompanied by her faithful German shepherd Toto, a well-trained glamour sniffer.

Morning

Gale and Stickman talked over the previous day’s events, including the disquieting conversation with Shay. Since they were enjoying the Broddico hospitality, they would defend Broddico interests for now; just part of being a good guest.

They both went outside to take Toto out for his morning business, and Cawley was loitering nearby. The big man dropped hints and allusions offering them illegal opportunity and funding, but they were increasingly firm in their refusals. He suggested they attend the struct competition later in the morning, where constructs battled it out. Apparently Dr. Broddico would be opening the festivities. That did sound interesting enough, so the adventurers resolved to go.

The Struct Competition

The large multi-level arena had space for a one on one match to start out the day, and the noisy gnomes were into the cheering. Harmony Signs was going up against The Ramrod, a classic rivalry with a forest gnome hero piloting a struct against a rock gnome hero. Gale knew it was immoral to gamble, but she put a few coins on Harmony Signs to win it. Stickman figured he’d up the ante, and he added to her bet.

Dr. Broddico offered a short speech to open the event. He was in a balcony overlooking it, and a side balcony had Shay. Gale also noticed a couple shady Chicago thugs trying to look unobtrusive on the stairs by the balcony.

The match started, and the gnome machines battered each other without mercy. Signs quickly got the upper hand and held on to her advantages, soundly defeating the Ramrod. Cheering along with the rest of the crowd, the adventurers were caught up in the flashy show, and Gale was delighted to get her winnings.

Then the adventurers noticed that Shay was gone, and Dr. Broddico didn’t seem to notice. The Tellurians were gone too. With growing concern, the adventurers headed over to the stairs, only to be deflected by the “white gloves” gnome security. No admittance. They argued that the other Tellurians got up there somehow, and that finished off what patience the gnomes had. Unwilling to escalate tensions, the adventurers backed off; maybe go around to the exterior entrance and see if there were clues there?

Kissy

A mechanical mosquito the size of a fist landed on Gale’s shoulder. She tried not to panic, and grabbed at it, holding the little machine. It did not resist or attack.

A gnome raced up to them, introducing himself as Telgur. He explained that he built the clockwork mosquito to be a familiar for a wizard, but Kissy didn’t bond with the client, so the client was suing him for shoddy work. Telgur pointed out the glowing yellow on the mosquito abdomen, a sign it was in bonding mode. He realized it was drawn to Tellurians, and offered them the chance to bond with Kissy to gain a loyal scout and “pet” (and prove his workmanship held up just fine.)

Gale declined, as Toto was enough for her to manage. Stickman lost all interest upon discovering Kissy would extract a little bone marrow as part of the bonding process. Cawley approached, deliberately noting the time with them as he was establishing his alibi. He took an interest in the mechanical mosquito familiar, and Telgur refocused on him as the adventurers slipped out of the conversation to resume looking for Shay.

Runaway Caravan

Gale scolded herself for gambling, as that sin was what made her take her eyes off Shay in the first place. Once they reached the back entrance, Gale spotted a downed Tellurian, and Stickman saw a small wagon racing off drawn by goats, a too-big Tellurian hunched on the gnome wagon’s buckboard.

The adventurers could not match the wagon’s speed, but in the twisty confines of the settlement, they could move in straighter lines and catch up. They dashed off, with Stickman falling behind in the rooftop scramble. Gale saw the wagon heading towards the gate. Some white glove gnomes stepped out to slow the wagon, and the driver pulled out a pistol and snapped off a few shots at them! They dove aside, but Gale figured that was provocation enough. Bringing her rifle to bear, she fired a the driver, knocking him clean off the wagon.

The gnomes could now bring the wagon to a halt, and Gale scrambled down from the rooftops to get closer. Meanwhile, Stickman took a different approach, and as he got closer he saw one of the Chicago thugs exiting the blind side of the caravan carrying a duffel bag. Stickman got Gale’s attention, and she snapped off a shot to force the thug to stop.

The situation escalated, and he pointed a pistol at the duffel bag and threatened to shoot. Still, he was staring down the gun barrels and resolve of a couple hardened veterans; Gale said he could leave the bag and go, and she’d let him, and that was the best offer he was likely to get. He tossed the bag and ran, the gnome white gloves in pursuit.

The adventurers unpacked the bag, freeing Shay, who was choloroformed and stuffed inside. Meanwhile the escaping thug screamed; he was convulsing in an alley nearby, painfully contorted and foaming at the mouth while his eyes bulged and purpled. When the white gloves heard that he had kidnapped Shay Broddico, they exchanged a knowing look and lost interest. A quick conversation about one Tellurian shooting another turned sour fast as both sides looked back at the war, raising latent tensions between the fey and Tellurians. Indeed, both sides could have policed their own people better. The friendly moment, such as it was, ended.

Rewards

The adventurers escorted Shay back to Broddico Mansion, where Master Vin was anxiously waiting for them. Apparently Dr. Broddico had somehow heard about the abduction, the veterans’ role in preventing it, and the outcome all before they made it back. He sent word instructing Master Vin to relay his gratitude and reward the Tellurians.

Gale and Stickman followed Master Vin to the library map room, where he accessed a secret panel to draw out a vellum map. Master Vin explained the map had unusual properties, and led to a special place that Dr. Broddico thought they might want to visit due to their curse. (A curse they had not told him about.) Master Vin said if they put some blood on the map, it would open to them somehow and be usable in a unique way.

Stickman was up for the challenge, pricking his finger and smearing blood on the margin of the map. The blood vanished, and the map seemed to gain three dimensions, like a sculpture. He understood, in some way that he could not explain, how to get to that map and orient once there.

With the next objective in sight, the adventurers took their leave of Broddico Mansion on pleasant enough terms.

2 xp.

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Guns of Telluria: The Slopeslinger Festival

2/8/2021 IRL. October 1921 IG.

  • John Stickman. Rugged and tough veteran of the Tellurian War, armed and armored.
  • Dorothy Gale. Former prisoner of war, weirded with a metal arm and occasional manifestation of animalistic teeth while under stress. Accompanied by her faithful German shepherd Toto, a well-trained glamour sniffer.

These veterans were part of the final assault on a fey prince. Before he died, he cursed those attacking him. They would be banished from Telluria, never to return. Their curse bounces them from fey realm to fey realm with little warning. Fortunately, another fey prince who owed them a boon gave each of them an enchanted pouch that sometimes refills with little things from home (like bullets and matches.)

Arrival in Delta Falls

The veterans woke in a bedewed clearing in the mountainous woods. They saw a colorful town built into the side of the mountain in the midst of a cascading waterfall, so they headed that way.

On the outskirts of town they saw a truck and camper trailer, along with some tents. Men in suits were tending the campfire and loitering. Cautious, the adventurers approached. They were warmly welcomed. The big fellow in charge of the campsite was Cawley, a tough guy from Chicago. He had a boss, but didn’t name him. The men were definitely giving off a sketchy vibe, amused that they were in town for a gnome festival because a clan of gnomes was in debt to them and trying to raise a payment through festival sales.

Continuing into town, the adventurers were bemused by the decorations, sparklers, and snacks of the festival. They chatted with a curious child, Binn, who was attracted to Toto. A crowd of gnome children gathered to admire and pet the dog.

Binn took the adventurers to her uncle, Pestle, who was running a booth selling hammocks and cloth. The adventuers were interested in buying one each, but didn’t have enough money (even with the knick-knacks they pulled from their pouches.) Pestle noted that during festival there was a lot of work available; he recommended they check into Master Vinitimiamin, a scholar who had an interest in Tellurians like themselves.

Master Vin

Strolling through town taking in the festival and enjoying free snacks, the adventurers closed in on the underground mansion of Dr. Broddico, where Master Vinitimiamin lived. They rested in the entry hall of the mansion while a servant fetched the scholar, who was delighted to meet them and urged them to call him “Master Vin.”

As a cartographer, he had a lasting interest in first-hand accounts of places. He offered to pay them for their expertise in consulting on his pre-war Kansas maps. They agreed. While Stickman struggled to correlate memory with cartography, Gale had some salient updates to offer. Master Vin put maps on an enchanted lectern that enlarged them on the wall in the library.

Off to the Races

With local coin in their pockets, the adventurers agreed to go to the badger races with Master Vin. They headed for an underground racetrack, where Stickman bet on Poke the Scramble (who got trampled and didn’t even manage to finish.) Ah well.

The adventurers got a better sense of the forest gnomes and the rock gnomes, who had contests (like the races) during the Slopeslinger Festival to manage their rivalries in a relatively harmless context.

After the day’s race, the adventurers wanted to go pick up those hammocks they eyed earlier, they would meet Master Vin back at the mansion. (He offered to house them during the festival as guests.)

They got lost trying to manage the twisting and confusing three-dimensional layout of the town built into a waterfall, but eventually they ran across Pestle’s shop. Gale got herself a nice blue gingham hammock, and one for Stickman. They also got special hook-spike attachments for the end so they could easily set them up between wooden supports like trees. Pestle pointed out a silver tree on the slope above the entry to the Broddico Mansion, making it easy for them to find their way back.

The Broddico Family

Master Vin invited them to the Broddico’s table for supper, to meet their gnomish host. Stickman and Gale had been observing the patterns and colors of the decorations, and Stickman (with his background in the arts before the War) observed they didn’t match forest gnomes or rock gnomes styles. Master Vin confirmed that Broddico was of deep gnome stock, a third type steeped in magic and illusion, not widely trusted among other gnomes.

While preparing for supper, Gale had a moment of annoyance, and as she snapped at Toto, her “other teeth” showed. The servants may have seen the manifestation.

At supper, the weird little noble Dr. Broddico pranked Gale by letting her shake hands with what turned out to be a bundle of trained mice instead of his hand; all in fun. The trained mice were very obedient to him, and they all sat down to eat. The adventurers also met Shay, Broddico’s niece.

Toto had been increasingly suspicious and uneasy about spiderwebs that seemed to gather in the entry of the Broddico mansion, and traces could be seen through the place, including the dining hall. Gale asked about them, and Broddico brushed off her question as though it was a rude observation on housekeeping. The overly-dramatic little edgelord enjoyed his supper performance, then retired for the evening.

While Stickman consulted the servants in setting up human-sized beds and trappings in the guest room, Gale took Toto out for evening relief. While outside the mansion, one of the Chicago thugs sidled up to her and tried to draw her into conversation. He told Gale there was a bounty on Shay’s head, and his people would share it with her if she’d help put the gnome heiress in their power. She wouldn’t have to worry about the details. Gale turned him down flat and headed back inside.

Shay

Concerned about this threat to her host family, Gale asked for a meeting with Shay. A servant escorted her to the lord suite where Shay had a room. Gale recounted the conversation with the thug from Chicago.

Shay did not seem very surprised. She had enemies. Also, she could be used as leverage to force Dr. Broddico to cooperate with demands. Shay offered Gale (and Stickman) a job as temporary bodyguards, at least through the festival. This was one of the few relatively safe places left to Shay right now.

Gale outright asked Shay if she was a good person. Shay didn’t answer directly at first, noting that those who were in the War often had to do ugly things. With a shrug, she eventually concluded no, not always. Dorothy declined the job offer, and Shay suggested she sleep on it, think it over.

Troubled, Gale returned to the guest quarters and updated Stickman, and the adventurers settled in for the night.

(2 experience)

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The Colux Skull

Star Wars, Pool of Force. 12/28/2020. Clone War era, 3256 LY

  • Primes. A clone trooper pilot, left for dead and on his own, hiding behind a beard and a helmet.
  • Numidian “Noomie” Smith, a scholar and archeologist with an interest in Jedi and Sith artifacts.

Primes piloted a HWK 270 named the “Century Hawk”, and Noomie brought along a protocol droid, EC 17 (Easy).

The Tagelia Scholars offered them work, sending them to coordinates off the shoulder of Yina Sept to receive further information from their slug-like contact Delsiar. They arrived and contacted him on the holo net.

Skullduggery

Delsiar explained that Gell Station on Yina Sept was a tourist site, now secured by the Confederacy of Independent Systems (CIS) and exclusively serving their notables who came to this safe place to relax. One of these notables was Braydeel, a Gran aristocrat who was a military commander currently on vacation excavating a site on the planet, a temple called the Headspiece of Dinakka, about 18 kliks from the spaceport.

Apparently Braydeel was bragging to his friends that he had discovered the Colux Skull. The Tagelia Scholars wanted that skull. They had an arrangement with Lady Selentia, a CIS aristocrat currently located in Gell Station. She filed the necessary information identifying Noomie and Primus as contractors working for her, so they would be granted permission to access the station.

Delsiar said there was no contract, but if they acquired the Colux Skull they would get 20,000 Sekk credits (Republic credits were no good in their region) if they smuggled the skull offworld in a scan-resistant box nestled between their engines. If they were leery of the risk of taking the skull off-world, they could sell it to Lady Selentia for 10,000 credits. Delsiar encouraged the scoundrels to handle this quietly, and not bring undue scrutiny to Lady Selentia or the Tagelia Scholars.

Heading Out

The Century Hawk slid right on past the CIS frigate standing guard over the station. Noomie and Easy collaborated figuring out local protocols; Primus could bring his blaster rifle, no problem, but would be well served to put it in a backpack. Blasters were fine. Since the port was restricted, serving aristocrats likely to have illegal material anyway, security wasn’t too curious.

They handled docking and fees with the downtrodden B1 battle droid repurposed to be a functionary. J66 “Jaysix”, Lady Selentia’s protocol droid, greeted them and interfaced with Easy, updating him with Gell Station protocols. They met with Lady Slentia where she reclined in a mud bath. She was disinterested in their business, so they headed out to rent some transportation.

The easiest way to travel out into the jungle was on civilian STAP (Single Trooper Ariel Platform). The easiest place to get one was Bruhkko Rentals, a low-quality tourist service run by a patchy Trandoshan. He was sober enough to warn them to stay on the beacon-lit paths, giving them a trail map; it was mating season for some of the jungle monsters. They picked out a couple STAPs that had blaster mounts and weren’t too shaky, and left Easy behind at Gell Station to “guard the ship.”

The Headspiece of Dinakka

The beacon-lit repulsor route was equipped with monster repellent generators, so their trip to the temple was short and uneventful. They decided to pose as curious tourists, so they boldly approached the site. Braydeel had at least a dozen B1 battle droids, but they seemed somewhat the worse for wear with moss and corrosion from the swamp. They seemed to be there for protection against jungle monsters; a big tangled corpse was visible off to the side, blasted repeatedly.

The B1s intercepted the scoundrels and send their greeting to Braydeel, who came out to greet them. Noomie could certainly speak the archeologist lingo, and the two hit it off. Braydeel took them on a tour, with Noomie engaged and gracious, admiring Braydeel’s finds, to the point where the Gran invited them inside his parked ship, the Clarity. Why pitch a base camp when you can park an armed freighter onsite?

Aboard the Clarity

Primus evaluated the security as Noomie chatted up Braydeel, encouraging him to get tipsy as they drank wine together. Braydeel invited them to see his trophy room in the ship, the most high-security area, unlocked by a tri-eye scan. Noomie’s attention was fixed on the Colux Skull on display in a place of pride on a column in the center of the room. Braydeel explained it was part of a Sith and dark mystic tradition of encoding information on the skulls of important leaders, sometimes in symbols and code and sometimes with complex booby-trapped microcircuitry.

Primus was looking elsewhere. He noticed the dome of the freighter had the droid brain controlling this contingent (designed to direct a much bigger force.) He observed that there were only B1 droids here, no super battle droids; but he saw the circular port in the trophy room that probably housed a droidika, activated in case of emergency. What really captured his attention were the clone trooper faceplates, cut into plate-like trophies mounted on the wall, paired with holographic projectors to tell the story of acquiring each one in battle.

His tension and accent got Braydeel’s attention, but it was too late for the Gran. The scoundrels gunned him down before he could hit the security lockdown control. Primus sprang over to the controls and locked the droidika bay as Noomie looked over the trophy column, seeing its alert and shock defenses. He directed Primus, who grabbed the skull and took the shock, yanking it out of the defenses as the alarm activated. The prize was in their hands.

A couple of the B1s clattered up, trading fire with the scoundrels; the battle droids were gunned down, but not before one scored a hit on Noomie that dropped him. As more of the B1s converged on the ship, Primus managed to burn through a couple med kits keeping Noomie alive.

As Noomie staggered to the bridge, Primus slammed the gangplank so the B1s outside the ship could not board. The clankers struggled to formulate a plan, but Noomie hacked into the droid brain controls and issued commands for the B1s to go on long patrol.

The Getaway

Primus dragged Braydeel’s corpse to the edge of the site, where monsters would clean it up, and Noomie hefted the Colux Skull to the STAPs. Flying casual, they returned to Gell Station, ordering Easy to check in with Jaysix to let Lady Selentia know they were headed out. They were off world before the alarm was raised.

They deposited the Colux Skull at the drop point and got 20,000 credits. Job well done.

(3 Character Points)

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Basically Fantastic: Elven Distinctives

Having finished 99% of my Inkwell Ideas freelance project, I indulged myself this morning to do a little ruminating and writing about elven distinctives in Basically Fantastic.

Even as I type this I realize I forgot to put in their horns; how the horns grow 1 or 2 inches per level. Some are ram horns, others deer with multiple points, etc. How the horns are a visual physical lightning rod for their powers. I need to make up some feats for making horns cooler.

More to come later.

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Punk.

Four years ago I was ruminating on what “punk” means in a genre sense. (Here.)

Today I saw it summed up. “Punk is whatever makes you happy that irritates people who are used to having complete control.”

And we’re done. That’s all I need.

Reminds me of my Basically Fantastic game; it’s very “punk” in the sense that they do what they want, and they decided what they want is to break the clerics. The cleric tradition in that setting is vastly influential and descends from a tradition that slew gods. They are the backbone of the status quo. And the characters are looking to burn the world down to make room for what they think the world should be like.

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