Black Space Interview on the Gauntlet!

I was invited to be interviewed on the Gauntlet with Jason Cordova for Black Space!

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Black Space: Guardian Ship 2. Exchanges

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  • Smitty. (Brian) Captain. A focused spacer with a remote built in so he could control drones, gifted with sharp senses. He had a salvage kit and a drone named Jethro.
  • Gasper. (Jesse) Disfigured ship’s medic.
  • Clyde Bruskin. (Mr. S) Tech and all around tough guy.
  • Jan Klaya. (Jeremy) Charismatic sword mystic.

Wake Up, Sleepyhead

Klaya was thawed out on the ship; the bridge officer had been gone more than 4 hours, so protocol woke up someone else. Suffering from hibernation sickness, she was spotted through the cockpit window by a droid on the ship, and it scanned her; she used her allclear trigger so it registered her as authorized.

She got to a com unit and put in a call to the crew, who were drinking with the chasekin. They promised to return immediately. Gnawdit would escort them. The next day they would come by at the beginning of the sunup cycle to pick up Rabadab, then they’d take him to the exchange point and get 600 feet of coaxial cable in exchange.

Using their bracelets, they bypassed the robots that Jack had called up to guard their ship. (They gave Klaya a bracelet.) After Gasper checked Klaya over somewhat brusquely and determined she was okay, Bruskin went into the ship software and disabled the “wake up other passenger” protocols (somewhat optimistically.) The captain broke out some liquor to give everyone but Gasper a pleasant buzz, and they passed the night in relative peace.

Climbing to the Exchange

The next morning they reviewed the security footage of what the bots shot at in the night; an emu like bird, some chasekin, whatever. They asked Jack of the bots could stand guard and repair the hull breaches, and Jack agreeably issued new orders.

They met up with Gnawdit, who was annoyed that he had to pull back. They pretended to try to get the bots to not shoot the chasekin, but without ident badges it wasn’t possible (fortunately.)

Klaya used her image enhancer to look bigger and stronger, to intimidate the chasekin (who really liked the effect.) They continued on to the base of the service lift up to the chasekin lair, and picked up Rabadab, who was in bad shape; dehydrated with blood loss, broken leg, cuts all over. Gasper patched him up and gave him some painkillers, and they hauled the battered rabbitman with them. Jack marked the rendezvous point on their datapad maps. The chasekin stayed behind to await their return.

They headed to the elevator leading up, finding it overgrown. Clyde used his energy prybar to cut the greenery off the door, but when they opened it there was a pulsing heart-like meat/plant wad suspended by vine cables. They shot it to pieces, then pulled back as the walls trembled with the thrashing of vines and branches grown up behind them.

They decided to take the stairs.

Up and up and up, finally they were lit up by little laser sight dots, and they spotted the rabbitish snipers with cyber-limbs and platforms. They reached the rendezvous spot to parley with an armored rabbit cyborg, who claimed Rabadab and hooked him to a crawler bot that carried him up the wall (but not before Smitty flicked a tracer onto the bot.)

The attached office had the 600 feet of coaxial cable, draped over Clyde and Smitty.

The rabbit person in armor told them the bounders put a tracer in Scratched Skull’s head cyber, and if he ever got in an exposed position, they’d be ready with sniper rifles. Now he hides in his office, out of range. The spacers asked about the supplies they need, and the armored bouncer offered them an atmospheric scrubber if they brought Scratched Skull’s head on a plate. The armored bounder put a mod in Smitty’s drone, and said they could use the drone to notify the bounders if they wanted to take them up on the deal.

Back Down to the Chasekin

As they headed down the branching gantries and stairs, they disrupted a massive wasp nest infestation. Klaya leaped off the stairs onto the vines, sliding down out of range and swinging back onto the stairs, as Gasper sprinted down the stairs. Smitty and Clyde couldn’t move fast enough. As they fended off the mass of huge stinging wasps, Smitty got out his sticky demolition charge and was smearing it around the wasp nests when he fell off, banging his knees and head and jerked to a halt by the coaxial cable connecting him to Clyde (who took a beating, dragged to the railing and covered in wasps.)

Clyde swung Smitty back onto the steps, cut the cable, and raced down the stairs. They outran the wasps, and headed to the bottom of the stairs, on the ground, where they rested and regained their breath (and hit points.)

Walking back to the chasekin territory, they had earnest conversation about what to do. They also passed some repair bots cutting plants back and fixing a ship that was well beyond repair. They didn’t interfere.


They headed up the slow lift, and Scratched Skull was delighted to see them. As the chasekin pulled out a drink for everyone to share, Jan distracted them with a show of martial prowess of the Grass Mantis type, sparring with Gnawdit. Gaspar measured out a huge dose of sedatives, and Smitty tipped it into the drink without the chasekin noticing.

Relaxed and safe at home, the chasekin drank to their success. About the time everyone got woozy, the spacers shot the runt of the chasekin (who didn’t get a drink) and Klaya struck Gnawdit’s head from his shoulders with her vibroblade.

Moving fast, the spacers stuffed Scratched Skull’s severed head in a bag, slew the drugged chasekin, retrieved Captain Josephe’s identity bracelet from the mummy hanging on the wall, and freed the little mushroom person and buxom mutant teenager from the chasekin cages.

The freed prisoners asked for asylum before making their way home, and the spacers agreed. No one wanted to use the slow lift, so they used a ladder arrangement instead. It still took a while to get all the way down to the bottom, but they faced no guards, and made a clean getaway back to the ship.

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Blades in the Dark: Clockworkers

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  • Pledge. (Elizabeth) An Akorosizan Slide, bffs with Baz (leader of the Lampblacks) and frenemy with Nyrx (a prostitute.)
  • Deadlock. (Shaun) A Dagger Islander Lurk, bffs with Darmot (a bluecoat) and frenemy with Frake (a locksmith.)
  • Ashes. (Kristy) An Akorosian Spider, bffs with Salia (an information broker) and frenemy with Jerren (a bluecoat archivist.)

While Pledge and Deadlock were passing the time in the snug of the public house built into the base of their secret clocktower hideout, a woman came to hire them (asking after the Clockworkers, so now they have a name). Her name was Ellsfielder, and she wanted them to steal a big two-handed goblet from Master Slen Dallicore, the Guildmaster for the Docker’s Guild. She offered them 6 Coin if they handed over the item, and 2 more if they did so with no casualties and they were not connected to the job.

Preparing the Goblet Heist

They had a month to check it out, so they took their time. Deadlock worked with his beggar friend to case the joint, and found that the ancestral home used to be the tower overlooking dockside operations. Over the generations each new head of the household built more around the central spire, so the house was something of an uninspired pile. It only had a third as much staff as expected. The problem couldn’t be money, so what’s up with that? They discovered the butler for the place, Ebenet, as old money frustrated as a servant to new money.

Pledge cozied up to him while he was dockside, hunting through the “gray market” for vintage wines to build up his master’s collection. She leaned on her noble background, and found Ebenet fascinating, so the young butler confided in her his frustrations. It was difficult to manage a household when there were so many spring traps, even though they were identified by a small red triangle. And the central showcase, the cruelty of defending it with caul piercers; thorns that could rupture the spirit’s “skin” so life energy leaked from people, making it very dangerous to go to–and he shut up.

So the inner vault would be at the top of the tower, or under it. Deadlock got some help getting city blueprints, and discovered that the top of the tower was protected as a historic site, and could not be substantively renovated. Below the tower, then. The clerk who helped Deadlock was named Petra, and she had an “admirer” stalking her that she wanted Deadlock to discourage. He agreed.

Ashes wandered back from her opium safari, and combined those plans with some of her own blueprints from when the tower got permits for building off and on. She checked into this goblet, and its title was the Goblet of Eletrachtian; studded with obsidian stones, it allowed an adept to use some demon blood for a ritual to see what the demon remote viewed for a week or so. Also, the city council tasked the Dallicore family with protecting it on behalf of the city. Salia, an information broker, helped her get this information but wanted a smuggler’s tally book in return.

They also discovered from Ebenet (who developed an infatuation with Pledge) that the defenses were managed primarily by Three Sheets, a Whisper who lived out in Tangletown. Posing as buyers for security, they got in to see Three Sheets, who fell asleep with boredom. Talking to his rep, they found that the he specialized in spirits in crystals, and was tremendously expensive even for a basic system.

Infiltrating the Dallicore Tower

Equipped with old blueprints and knowledge of some of the dangers inside, the crew picked a rainy night and broke in to the grating that let some of the runoff from the many roofs down to the street level. They had to hurry to get in before a parade passed by the location, and Pledge was badly chilled clambering up the runoff pipe in the gush of cold water. They made it up into an old expansion, and Deadlock scouted enough to help Ashes read the floor plans so they found their way to a doorway leading to the central shaft.

Deadlock picked the lock, avoiding the trap on it, and they made it in to the central exhibition hall. There were masks and artwork from all over the Empire on display, but that distinctive loot was not what brought the rogues. They headed down the stairs, and Deadlock barely leaped back before spikes popping out through the stair rise took his feet off. Careful, they proceeded to the floor, where the center of the room was dominated by a dormant fountain.

The Vault

They realized there was a collapsing spiral staircase built around the fountain, and studied possible triggers, determining some of them were caul piercers. With Pledge’s help, Deadlock discovered the right trigger. As the spiral staircase dropped, it also played a dirge-like fanfare, which was sure to bring guards to the chamber–time to hurry.

They hustled down the stairs, skipping the traps now that they knew what to look for, and got to a chamber with more esoteric artwork and a locked double door. With the clock ticking, Deadlock defeated that lock as well, and they entered a room lined with lances that carried battle pennants from different branches of the Dallicore family tree. In the center of the room, a twice-too-big suit of armor with a huge sword. As they investigated the room, the armor animated, and came at them with vast sweeps of its blade, glowing from inside. They displaced a number of lances trying to search the room while guards were coming and the construct was lashing out at them, but could not find the goblet, so they beat a hasty retreat back up the stairs.

They barely made it up the stairs and into shadows before Dallicore showed up in his nightgown, with six armored plumed guards. He whispered an incantation to a crystal he clutched in his fist, presumably to power down the defenses, and sent the guards downstairs.

Rather than engaging, the crew stealthed around back up to the stairs and escaped the way they came in.


Ellsfielder was grimly disappointed at their failure, but Pledge persuaded her to pay them 2 Coin for all the information they acquired on traps and the potential location of the goblet. They pointed out they didn’t have their whisper and were not prepared to tackle supernatural threats. Ellsfielder paid them on the condition that they would undertake another mission for her (and her mysterious employer) but this time they would succeed. After all, the Clockerworkers were savvy (as their rep attested), and they all came back without leaving any clues as to their identity, so it wasn’t a complete failure.

Ashes’ supplier, Sarong Scaler, was swept up by the bluecoats for questioning. Rather than risk any sort of blowback, Ashes bribed the bluecoats with 1 Coin to get her supplier back on the street, no harm done.

Ashes also seduced a smuggler, cozying up to him for a round of enjoyment so she could incapacitate him and steal his ledger book, squaring her account with Salia.

The crew shed some stress in their various vices. Pledge chose to take their shaky doctor, Feelgood, to the theater. While they were touring backstage, he wandered off and fell down a trapdoor, breaking his arm and witnessing a clandestine deal between Kaneldor (a Hive negotiator) and some actor. Pledge had to intervene to save his life, and the crew took a hit on their reputation from bowing to a little Hive abuse to protect Feelgood. (Pledge overdid her vice and risked a cohort.)

Pledge also worked with her new friend Booker to prepare some buyers for her genealogy book. Deadlock took over, involving his noble friend Kellis, and got a tea party set up where they could manage some potential buyers. Pledge spent a Coin for 1 more down time action to seal the deal, and they got paid 6 Coin for the musty old records.

Deadlock also crept into the house where Petra’s admirer was sleeping with his wife, and woke him with some choice words murmured in his ear (and a razor near his anatomy). He agreed his days of admiring Petra were over.

Preparing the Kryvanntic Heist

Ellsfielder came back to the Clocktower to recruit them for the mission they promised. This one shouldn’t need a whisper. They were to get to Dr. Kryvanntic, a Severosi scholar engaged in unsavory research with radiant materials in humans and animals. He fled his home country, but found powerful patrons among Doskvol’s aristocracy, so he could continue his work here unchecked.

He recently came into possession of two stout handsomely bound volumes, Naladicha’s Cartography. The books were supposed to contain esoteric maps of the Ghost Field; the details are not important. His house was over in Brightstone, far from their usual field of operations, but at least they didn’t have any enemies there.

Deadlock and his beggar friend Telda scouted the place, finding a 20 foot wall with broken glass on top surrounding the triangular shaped site, and all nearby trees cut down. The place was plenty secluded.

Booker once again assisted Pledge in asking around more rarefied circles about the good Doctor, collecting a few horror stories about his experiments but more usefully finding out that he would see patients who suffered from maladies of the mismatch of spirit and flesh, like radiant dosing or hollowing.

A Mysterious Malady

They found a wicker wheeled bath chair in their endless piles of junk in the tower, and disguised Ashes as Pledge’s ill aunt. Deadlock dressed the part of a servant, and pushed the chair, while Pledge covered them with the umbrella as best she could.

As they approached the house, two saggy fist-sized mushrooms screamed, alerting the house to their arrival. In the narrow alleyway leading to the door, twenty foot walls on both sides, they were alarmed to see a 70 lbs. panther like creature on the roof of the house, prowling down to pounce, its eyes glowing with weird light.

Dr. Kryvanntic poked his head out the window at the last minute and blew on a whistle he kept around his neck, silencing the screaming mushrooms. The great cat backed off, and Pledge convinced the doctor to look at her aunt. The doctor let them in, and they entered the stink of a place more laboratory than living space. Engaging in some slap-stick shenanigans, Pledge and Deadlock bumbled at the doctor so while she distracted him Deadlock could retrieve the whistle from around his neck without him noticing. He went to “get a glass of water” for the ailing aunt, disappearing up the stairs.

Time ran short as the doctor prepared a series of truly horrifying syringes for injections to test Ashes’ condition, and upstairs Deadlock blew a low steady whistle as he desperately tossed the place. He saw a reading room with two shiny black-bound volumes, quickly checked that’s what he was after, and he slid them into pocket harnesses he had prepared ahead of time for his outfit. He also saw a window out to a nice bench under a willow tree that twitched its whips with mad violence, and its base was decorated with bones. Better not to try and leave that way.

Deadlock returned downstairs just as the doctor prepared to inject Ashes, who screamed and had a seizure, falling off the table. Before they could restrain her, and after Deadlock replaced the whistle on the doctor’s person, Ashes sprang to her feet. She ran off, to the consternation of her minders, and while the doctor blew the whistle so they wouldn’t be ambushed, they sprinted away from the house, risking a dash through traffic that startled some goats. They hopped on to a gondola and vanished into the city traffic before the doctor realized he had been robbed.


Ellsfielder was quite happy with the outcome, and paid the agreed 8 Coin, bolstering the crew’s fledgeling rep. On a less happy note, the Brightstone bluecoats swept up Telda, a beggar spotted around the now angry doctor’s residence. Through ways and means the crew spent a Coin to retrieve Telda before any harm was done.

Pledge cleared off the crew’s minimal Heat, then did some training, as did the others after taking care of stress as needed.

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Guardian Ship 1: Crash

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The salvage ship Medusa’s Scow was headed to the Bray Reach to salvage a failed colony. Contractually, most of the crew were sleeping in cryo for the 8 month trip. Three of the crew were awake for the journey.

  • Smitty. (Brian) Captain. A focused spacer with a remote built in so he could control drones, gifted with sharp senses. He had a salvage kit and a drone named Jethro.
  • Gasper. (Jesse) Disfigured ship’s medic.
  • Clyde Bruskin. (Mr. S) Tech and all around tough guy.

They ran across a massive ship in space, over 50 kilometers long, and its archaic (and since outlawed) weapons sheared through their defenses. They were pulled in, battering through the hull of the craft and rolling over a couple times in the jungle of its interior before the crash halted.

What’s Going On?

They made sure the cryo tubes were alright, but didn’t wake the rest of the crew. The atmosphere in the jungle outside was breathable, but they still opted to wear space suits. They saw that a force field held the breach, and the metal would eventually be repaired. They headed out to scout their strange surroundings, heading for a massive beam of light a couple kilometers away in the vast open space.

Then wavering howls split the air, and they were attacked by wolf-men. They shot up the pack hunters, and retreated as the pack gathered and pressed their advantage. Clyde got to the gun control, but only could get the flak and main cannon online, not as useful as could be hoped. The other two fought off hunters until they fell back into the airlock, escaping into the ship. Clyde played painfully loud music on the PA to chase the hunters off. Smitty had intimidated them, but it was not enough to chase them off for good. He got his drone ready for some further reconnaissance, and they got the computer damage reports back.

Damage Reports

They needed a few things to escape back into space.

  • Atmospheric micro-scrubber unit. Otherwise life support wouldn’t hold. About the size of a cooler chest, installation is 10 technician hours.
  • Multi-phasic burner catalyst. Manages energy flow. Otherwise, won’t have enough to get where we’re going. About 300 lbs, 15 feet across. 20 technician hours to install.
  • Administrative access. Otherwise the ship will just collect them back in again.
  • 10 technician hours to get the hull fixed enough.

They noticed a figure approaching the ship, undisturbed by the hunters. It turned out to be Jack, a humanoid interface of the Simulated Intelligence, Guardian Ship (or Sigs.) Jack brought them a tablet with maps, and a yellow clearance bracelet. Jack’s job was to make their stay comfortable and help them with anything they needed while in Telmar Bay.

He told them the multi-phasic burner catalyst was in Alta Durel. He also told them that Commander Josephe could alter their clearance, and when pressed, admitted he had not been available for an appointment in over 400 years. He was in the Sorrel Control Station. They decided to head that way, and they figured the beam of light (a spaceship elevator) was their best bet.

They also complained to Jack of being attacked, so Jack put in a ticket with tech support to address the issue.


They traveled through the twisting jungle floor, and interrupted some men who were raiding the interior of a ship for supplies. (Turns out all the hills around them were overgrown ships.) They warily let each other pass. The captain did ask Jack to assign extra security to their ship, until it could leave; it cued to their bracelets to allow them to come and go uninterrupted.

They reached a burned off area with poles sporting dead wolf creatures, and there they were confronted with the Teksuppar, miserable cyborgs consumed with pain and hate. Two of the Teksuppar attacked, one with an energy flail and the other a retractable cyber machete. The crew managed to put them down, though Clyde took a hit. (He was able to walk off the damage.)

More Teksuppar were coming, so Smitty managed to run forward and put in a bulk sealant collapsable patch to trap the Teksuppar in the administrative building at the base of the ship elevator long enough for them to escape.

Into the Fire

Returned to the road through the woods, they were confronted by the reddish hunt leader of the wolf creatures, Gnawdit. They talked briefly of a possible alliance, then Gnawdit led them through the jungle to a hidden freight elevator, and they rode it up for 40 minutes to get up near the roof of the Bay. They entered the hunters’ lair, the Sorrel Control Station.

There they met Scratched Skull, a cyborg hunter. They also saw a wall of trophies, with Captain Josephe as its centerpiece, a mummy with a red wristband. They saw cages of prisoners, including a rabbit that looked almost dead from beating, and a mushroom person, and a mutant teenage girl.

Seeing that they could maybe do a deal, Scratched Skull tasked the visitors with managing a prisoner exchange; the half-dead rabbit thing named Rabbadab back to the Bounders, his people, in exchange for 600 feet of coaxial cable. Smitty wanted the bracelet in exchange, but Scratched Skull was too canny, and instead counteroffered with security for his ship until he could leave.

They drank to their new partnership.

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Savage Worms of Silkshore

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I have started a Patreon account!

I’ll be posting a 5,000 word chapter every 2 weeks until the book is done. My hope is that I can attract some supporters to help with expenses while I’m working on the book.

With game design, it’s difficult to know what modular pieces are worth payments. Essays? Random tables? Setting background? Play reports? It’s much easier with fiction; there are chapters, about 5,000 words each.

Incidentally, 5,000 words per chapter is about the amount of story you cover in an issue of a comic book.

Anyway, if you can help, I sure would appreciate it. This is a great opportunity for me, and it has John Harper’s blessing, so I think it will be really neat to have an official book for a setting that so many people already love.

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Blades in the Dark and Risus

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Rules-light games like Risus benefit tremendously from a strong sense of shared expectations. That’s the only reason Lasers and Feelings works; if you have Trek fans they will go for that genre emulation, with a more or less consistent understanding of what transporters, the deflector dish, photon torpedoes, and planetary scans should be able to accomplish.

Blades in the Dark has gelled a similarly familiar set of expectations at the game table. I think it could be a fine setting to attempt with Risus. Now, I am not suggesting that there’s anything wrong with the original rules or they need to be replaced. However, the rules have a lot of abstractions and peculiarities that have a lot of nuance, and the pace of the game is not traditional. It could be fun to explore the setting in another vehicle.

Here are a few suggestions.

Playbook Cliche. Every character should have 1 cliche named after a playbook in Blades in the Dark. It doesn’t have to be your biggest thing, but it provides an expected skill set.

Cliche Mines. Other cliches can be based off of actions or special abilities, whatever focus works best for the kind of character you want to play. Heritage and Background can also provide inspiration for cliches. IMPORTANT: these are not limiting what you can do for cliches, but they do provide inspiration because they are a curated set of words with meanings that have already been explored in the base game, so it is easier to reach a consistent understanding.

Powers and Tools. Your tools fictionally expand what you can expect to accomplish, and without the right tools, your cliche dice pool is halved. Also, there is room to bring in equipment that can have mini-rules to customize some mechanics if the GM feels like it. Like, using a lightning hook and spirit bottle, before the struggle begins you roll 1d6 and negate that many dice from a ghost’s pool, up to all of them.

Difficulty Numbers. In general, if it’s a controlled action, difficulty is 5. Risky actions are 10. Desperate actions are 15. And up, if you get ridiculous, but that ties down a baseline.

Group Actions. Consider how you can team up, facing victory and defeat with narrative descriptions, dealing with having a leader and how you’re in some narrative cover with others there but still able to contribute. Also, there are brevet dice for when you do something with “0 dots” in the action type.

Stress. When you lose a challenge, you lose a die (or more if you’ve pumped them) from the related cliche. This is very much like using stress. So, you can say that characters can only get their dice back through down time actions with vice, getting 1d6 back and suffering a complication if they roll above the number of cliches dice they can hold. If you run out of a dice pool in an action, then you’ve “traumad out” and the GM can describe what happens to you!

Flashbacks. Is it obvious that you would have planned this? Yes? No cost. If it’s a stretch, then pick a cliche that’s relevant to the flashback and drop it by 1 die. If it’s highly unlikely, it can cost 2 cliches.

Pumps. Only allow pumping cliches if they accept the terms of a devil’s bargain.

Conflict. Appropriately enough, the rules are the same for violence or meeting any other challenge.

Other Bits. You have inappropriate Cliches for desperate situations.

Crew. Let’s steal from Inspectres, where the Crew gets 5 Cliche dice that the players can borrow over the course of the game, and refill as they are able.

Downtime. Give everyone two actions, and allow clearing vice. For clocks, set a cost in increments of 10. Every action spent to roll, take the total and put it towards the clock until it’s full. Use that to add cliches to the crew at the cost of 60 per die perhaps, and also to achieve fictional purposes.

Heat. Assign 10 Heat per 1 normal Heat in Blades in the Dark, and let them try and clear it in down time as a long term project.

This is not comprehensive, but it shouldn’t have to be. It’s enough for you to try it out and see how to echo some elements between the games.


Caul the Spooky Whisper. Hunched with a big cloak, pajama-like clothes, and perforated goggles built into a spirit mask, tends to move with fluid grace like a chi master. Cliches: Whisper (4), Prowler (3), Knife Expert (2), Iruvian (1)

Danforth the Chilly Hound. Whip-thin and savage, sneering aristocrat. Cliches: Aristocrat (4), Hound (3), Chauncy the Bat’s Master (2), Tattoo Artist (1)

Shelby the Shadowborn Lurk. Meaty but strangely silent, voyeur and vandal. Cliches: Lurk (4), Strangler (3), Artist (2), Slave of the Lady of Thorns (1)

Slackinsky the Mastermind. Low-born prodigal crime genius with a mean streak. Cliches: Spider (4), Everpresent but Invisible Servants (3), Ghost Contracts (2), Seduction (1)

The Crew: The Inkwhyles. Based out of a tattoo parlor’s dungeon, used to be a twisted noble family’s sexy torture dungeon. Cliches: Secure Prison Space (3), Satisfied Customers (2)

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Chaos Monks: The Devil Bat

Chaos Monks 2Lightcrash (Patrick) and Huan (Tyler) were expanding their show  from their new quarters in a nice loft in the Singing Koi block.

There was an increased presence of Imperial troops in Kuan Loon, and the monks checked in with their rocherd friend Na Li Ka to discover that there was a new threat in the city.

The Small Swords society had sent adventurers over to the Yellow Springs Island to raid the 1000 Pagodas, and they angered some dark master over there, who had a devil bat assassin named Chan Yi at its command.

Chan Yi was able to somehow teleport his whole base, and he moved it to Kuan Loon to punish the Jade Empress for the presumption of her emmisaries; they had taken position on the South Palace first, stealing the porcelain wares specifically made for that location. They had jumped twice more since then, each time facing waves of attacks from the Small Swords; the Empress demanded they clean up their own mess this time, or she would revoke their license to raid the island.

Na Li Ka had once hoped to join the Small Swords, but life doesn’t work out the way you want sometimes. The monks decided they would check in with the Small Swords and see if they could get involved.

Small Swords Society

The monks got an audience with the Master of Arms Ruten, who saw past their showmanship and antics to trust the violent danger they represented as chaos monks. Ruten told them the devil bat’s pagoda was currently sitting on the Tranquil Trail Thinkers’ Guild, and the guild was not allowing any Small Swords society members inside. Therefore, it was up to the applicants to deal with the threat, and any survivors would be inducted into the guild.

They met about twenty hopefuls, most of whom were unfit to be henchmen, and did some rudimentary skills testing. When it was time to go, 15 were willing to accompany them. They went to the Tranquil Trail Thinkers’ Guild, passing through the Imperial troops and welcomed inside.

Huan had a brief flashback of being here before, and screaming, but he shook it off.


They were escorted in to meet with the leader of the Guild, Tynabi. He explained that the devil bat’s forces retaliated hard both other places the pagoda teleported, and while their forces were severely depleted by those battles, he did not wish to take that damage to this esteemed building, so he would not allow the Small Swords access. However, he was deferential to Huan, and allowed the chaos monks to lead their own assault. He also warned them there were many traps in the hostile lair. He also warned them that there was probably a threat from one of the devil bat’s commanders left, along with some bandits.

They were warned that if they tried to leave the pagoda once they entered, unless they had proof they had destroyed the devil bat, they would be killed by the defenders as possible shapeshifted or enslaved minions of the devil bat.

Four armored swordsmen intently guarded the entry to the pagoda that merged with the roof of this pagoda. Looking out the windows, the monks saw there was a squat central structure, and a tower off to the side, and the whole thing looked painted in tar, solid, horrible, and dark.

They identified three of the more promising henchmen types to stay with them, and the rest they sent up the steps into the pagoda–with a special edge.

Lightcrash prepared an altar made of a mirror and a spell for them to carry.

  • Attracting Altar. 1 minute to set up. Attracts 2 HD per level within 1 mile per level for 10 minutes per level.

He tuned it for humans who served a dark master, aiming for the bandits in the structure above. This would draw them out! He also lied to his troops, saying it would provide some protection.

Meanwhile, Lightcrash and Huan took their 3 promising henchmen outside the building, climbing around and up to find another way in.

Into the Devil Bat Pagoda

They found a shaft leading up into the pagoda, but it was 15 feet away over a 120 foot drop. Fortunately Lightcrash had just the spell to cast, and he carried the rope and a grappling hook up the shaft and secured it.

  • Serpent Chariot. Cast as a free action, astral snakes coalesce around the feet and allow 20 feet of three dimensional movement for 1 round.

As they tried to follow by climbing the rope, one of them lost his grip and fell. The other two made it up into the octagonal room. Chain Pot was one, bearing a cook pot as a weapon. The other was Dramo, who announced he would have his name remembered, as he braved the climb and was a full-fledged warrior with them! They told him to open the door out of the room, and a gust of chlorine gas burned the meat from his bones as his corpse hit the floor; everyone else leaped out of the way and got to some cover before the gas drained out of the shaft in the center of the room.

They went to the next room and found a door leading to a round art room depicting the victory of raiding devil bats. They detected the trigger to open a secret door, and also discovered it was a trap that dropped the floor out. Lightcrash clung to the wall and triggered it, then climbed inside, and the other two braved the leap across, then Lightcrash found the switch to close the trap.

They continued on, and Huan crept ahead when they came to a pair of arches. He spotted the devil bat sleeping, hanging from the ceiling above the sight line, in a dead end. Waving the others back, he trusted his life to a pebble.

  • Petrifying Shard. Cast on a stone, anyone or anything touched saves vs. Will or turns to stone. On an inanimate target, 5 square feet per level.

Huan tossed the pebble up to touch the devil bat, and the spell worked, turning the monster to stone before it could wake and attack! They knocked the stone bat down, and triggered a secret door.

Following the corridor beyond, they found a treasure room with the Empress’s porcelain! They pocketed a teacup, 3 saucers, and a sugar bowl. Then the whole fortress twitched, and they realized the devil bat was the one anchoring it to this dimension.

Time to Go

They raced down the stairs, and struck off the stone statue’s head with a crowbar. Retracing their steps, they banged through the door leading into the main area, where they found that their troops had bravely held off the bandits.

They rolled the stone head down the stairs first, to show that they killed the devil bat, then they went strutting down–and the fortress twitched again, so they broke into a run. The fortress tore loose of the world and crumpled up into the sky.

Downstairs, Tynabi thanked them with a gem amulet worth 10 gold for the two chaos monks, and they were allowed to leave, past the soldiers, through the city, and into the Small Swords compound.


There they were give 50 gold pieces, and another 50 for the stone head. All of the survivors were awarded the red sash of membership in the Small Swords Society.

They took some of their wealth and asked the Tranquil Trail Thinker’s Guild for patronage to get a small theater going, and the Guild agreed, as long as some of their weird songs and poetry could be part of the show. (That was fine all around, Lightcrash acquiesced in his role as producer.)

They also celebrated, with Lightcrash losing significant funds gambling (and almost running afoul of his yakkish rival.) Huan’s celebrations were cut short by the need to rescue a homeless orphan boy from a terrible life in the flesh pits; he legally adopted little Khalid. They also kept Chain Pot around; he demanded respect as an adventurer, but was also happy to cook for them.

Spells for next time, Lightcrash first:

  • Blossoming Call. Compel 6 months of growth per level from plants in a favorable way for 5 feet of plants per level.
  • Levitating Steed. Ride something living or dead, it can fly for 1 minute (10 rounds) per level. Speed is 20 feet per round per level.


  • Grasping Chaos. The target is engulfed in a puff of chaos. The target must make a save (difficulty 10, any stat) to be immobilized. If the save is failed, the target is immobilized and also takes 1d6 damage per level that ignores armor. The spell works on 1 target or round per level; at 3rd level it could work on 3 targets for 1 round each, or 1 target for 3 rounds, or 1 target for 1 round and 1 target for 2 rounds, etc.
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