Sunday, 30 August 2009

Letters from the North

Fra Immanuel, a missionary from the Black Friars, sets out from the order's northernmost monastery at Caernfarena in YE 931. The following are his letters back to the monastery.

1st letter

12th Octavum, YE 931

Beloved brothers,

The kingdom of the Terema lies in the extreme North, along the shores of the Eperantis Sea. I have reached the town of Kriefall by the western shores of that sea. It is build by no dicernible plan whatsoever, its squat houses litters the land like so many droppings in a cow-field. The air is rank with the stench of feces, blood and rotting refuse. There is no harbour, and travellers and those traders who arrive are left to drop their luggage on the stony beach.

The people are tall, pale, and handsome, but are of a decidedly primitive disposition. The men wear their hair shaven in front, and long in the back, giving them a wolf-like appearance, and most of them favour blue or green tatoos, often covering part of their faces. Their women often braid their extremely long hair. Both sexes carry long knives and key-like amulets hanging from their belts, and various animal-charms around their necks.

While they are not strangers to trade, they seem reluctant to liaison with outsiders to any great degree. Not directly unfriendly, but reserved. I am glad I took the time to learn their harsh language, for they speak nothing but.

From what I have learned, they unabashedly worship blasphemous idols of sinister, beastial deities, and sometimes refer to an entity called the Weaver. They seem to know nothing of the Hegemony of Man, and my repeated atempts to convert them to the Enlightened Path of the Pure Thought have so far not led to anything but scowls, and even, much to my dismay, some ridicule from their side.

I remain, Pure in Thought, your loyal brother,

Fra Immanuel

2nd letter

30th Novium, YE 931

Beloved brothers,

I have enjoyed no progress in the town of Kriefall, although it would seem I have attracted a following, though not one I would have sought. The young rascals of the town appears to find great amusement in folowing me around, ridiculing me, and on some occasions even pelting me with vegetables and other missiles of a nature to foul to put in ink.

However, I have now learned more about their heathen beliefs. They heed a pantheon of sorts, mostly made up of mostrous gods going by names like Magog and Armax. These they fear, and from what I gather, they make sacrifices in blood to placate them.

Magog and his brother Armax, it would appear, are great Worgs that stalks the dark nights. It truly chills the soul to learn that such dark faiths exists in this Enlightened Age.

Yesterday I heard of a great city to the south where their thane holds court. I will make my way there in hope of finding a way to shine some light of Enlightement on this darkened corner of Argos.

I remain, Pure in Thought, your loyal brother,

Fra Immanuel

3rd letter

17th Quintum, YE 932

Beloved brothers,

I am blessed to be alive, for winter in these lands are a terrible thing to experience. I would not be alive now, and my health is still frail, had it not been for the help of a woman.

Foolishly, I set out from the safety of the coast as fall came last year, not heeding the warnings. I now understand some of the grounds for the Terema's fear of the winter. Such a cold darkness it all but engulfs the very soul.

The thane accepted me warmly enough, but I find myself doubting. I have, these last weeks, after my lungs recovered from the rot I caught during the winter, engaged him in discourse. He is an imposing man, and he seems willing to hear my arguments. It is I who fail to convince him. He does seem interested in the story of St. Marcus, and I hope that this will bring some light to this forsaken land.

How do you fight a winter this dark? How do you escape a cold that gnaws the flesh off your bones? I fear I have caught a rot far worse than the one in my lungs.

I remain, your loyal brother,

Fra Immanuel

4th letter

27th Sextum, YE 934

Beloved brothers,

We have made a grievous mistake! We stand alone. Man is alone. By turning our back on that which kept us safe, we have condemned Creation itself.

I have seen him, brothers! I have been shown the truth, and it is a terrible thing to see when you know the state of the world. He is beutiful. He awaits. I can only pray it is enough.

I will not return, nor will I write again, for my days in this godforsaken world are coming to an end. My mind and my body are broken, and my only regret is for the generations damned by our own hollow faith.

Repent, brothers, for the Enemy, the Lord of the Locust, has not forgotten. Turn away from empty worship and seek those gods who will still listen. What chance has man alone against the Exarch? We are dancing the Black Spiral, and we know it not.

I pray there is still time and commit my flesh to the Worgs of St. Marcus. What happens to our souls when we die?

Oh, gods, what have we done?

Yours in regret,

I prefer to write most of my background as apocryphal texts, letters, legends, etc. It serves the dual purposes of increased entertainment value and deniability. The latter comes in handy if I need to edit something out of my world at a later time ("Hey! The guy was obviously mad as a hatter, you can't expect him to be objective, can you?"). This is one such example. It was fun to write, and it gave both myself and my players something to work with when they traveled to the extreme north.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Word: Gibberish

I like words. Alot. So since this is my blog, and since that means I get to do what I want with it, I am creating a new column. When I stumble over a particularly neat word, or better, a particularly neat explanation or origin of a word, I'll post it here. How about that, huh?

So, without further ado, gentle reader, I give you...

Origin: The Arab alchemist and mathematician Jabir ibn Hayyan, also known as Geber (c. 721-c. 815 AD) was one of the most influential men in medieval Christian science. His works were so shrouded in allegorical symbolism that 'gibberish' entered the vocabulary.

Source: Barret, David V., A Brief History of Secret Societies, Robinson edn, 2007


It is about time I did this. This is a short introduction of my current group.

Name: Percival O'Connor, Åndemaneren

Origin: Pendrell

Background: Brought up by Professor Connor in the corridors of the University of Stafford, O'Connor is an amanuensis, and connected by affiliation to the Ministerium. On Professor Connor's death, Percival inherited a sizable amount of money, as well as the professor's private library. He was asked to partake in the adventure of the good ship Pius when it set out on its maiden voyage - its destination being the Thule port of Göteshafen.

Description: A rather quiet man, and somewhat dark, Percival has a tendency to say just the wrong thing at the right time, something that has led to more than one hairy situation. He is drawn to the darker aspects of magic, and is developing an affiliation with both the Realm of Nightmares and the Deep. While he wants to do good, he repeatedly finds that he cannot afford to take the high road, and so he repeatedly calls out for help to those he know will listen - and he pays the prize.

Player: Rune


Name: Yolander van Saar

Origin: Wezell

Background: Yolander is the oldest of the heroes, and is in his forties. He started his career as a mercenary, adventurer and opportunist at the same time as Franko da Cola started his fall. In his youth, Yolander met the Second Witness, William Blackstaff - the only other survivor of the shipwreck. Together, the two men thwarted the St. Revan's Day plot against the Pendrellian king, and Jolander was rewarded with the rank of Major, and served in in the Royal Guard for some years.

The House of van Saar is one of the leading merchant houses of Wezell, and Yolander's uncle is one of the Seven Onkels of the Syndikaat. Yolander now styles himself Great Adventurer and Spy Extraordinare of the Wezellian Syndikaat.

Description: A tall man, with striking looks, he has let himself go a little round on the middle. He usually travels with an extensive wardrobe, but somehow always manages to be prepared when the unexpected happens. He is prone to speak in big words and metaphysical terms, and is starting to show signs of madness. He is also very fond of all things intoxicating, be it drink, drugs or women.

Player: Håvard


Name: Gryff Galan, Mariner

Origin: Pendrell

Background: Captain Galan of the good ship Pius comes from an Aragonian family that has lived in Pendrell for a few generations. He has a classical education, and his naval career was meant to be a stepping stone on his way into politics. he is very much the charismatic leader, and he has brought the crew of the Pius through storms and hardships on more than one occasion. Over the course of the year since he received command of the ship, he has become convinced of the importance of the Greater Mission, that of saving the world, even in spite of itself. 

Description: He will stand on deck, unfaltering, when the ocean is throwing all its anger at the ship, and his crew looks to him for guidance and strength. Brought up a Macharite, the captain has become more and more of a magician. He will try to see reason in the madness, and he strives to stay on course even if he is dragged from all directions.

Player: Eirik M

Name: Mandan Banzel, Bombemannen

Origin: Pendrell

Background: Banzel is a family of gunsmiths from the Enlightened Scythian Empire that has migrated to Pendrell a few generations ago. Mandan has been apprenticing with his father, and has also served as a grenadier in the Pendrellian army. He has developed several weapon prototypes to aid in the great struggle.

Description: Very much a man of action, Mandan has fought mages, mythical monsters and powerful undead. He has taken it upon himself to act as the protector of those of the crew that needs it the most, and isn't to interested in the games of the gods - everything bleeds, it is just a matter of finding out how to make it so. He is very much a warrior of the Third World War.

Player: Bjørge

Name: Prince Aegir of the Enæïdùn

Origin: Dùn Cærwythen in the Second Age.

Background: The youngest of the two sons of king Gwyndell, Prince Aegir was brought up to be a warrior of his people. He is an Eight Generation Exalted, the first bloodlines of Man. Together with nineteen of his men, he was brought into the end of the Third Age when O'Connor, Banzel and Van Saar were hurled back in time.

Description: He is very much the legendary hero, standing almost three heads taller than most modern men, his features are that of a classical hero, and he is heavily muscled.

Player: Eirik S

Friday, 28 August 2009

The Black Ships

Captain Armand of the Black Ship Kraken

For generations, stories of the Black Ships have circulated amongst the sailors of Argos. Few claimed to have seen one, and it was said that an encounter meant the death of all on board the unfortunate vessel. Some stories told of a captain who had raced a Black Ship and gotten away, only to find that people he loved were dead when he returned home.

Over the last generation the stories have become more common, and now few who knows anything about the oceans are willing to disbelieve them, although fewer still openly argue the truth of the tales - such things are considered heretical, and the concequenses may be dire. It is also whispered that a ship may escape if one of the crewmembers are drowned in tribute to the Deep.

The Black Ships have been sighted in most waters, and rumors will have it that the good ship Pius has raced them on several occasions. Another story often told these days are of a great blockade laying in the Straits of Ahriman, hindering the Host of Man from invading the Old Colonies on the Dark Continent. An Aragonian fleet of sixteen ships of the line were sent to lift the blockade, but only two were said to have returned. This particular story has been declared heretical by the Temple of Man Supreme, and no one seems to have talked to any sailor who were on the two ships. Still, there are fifteen ships which haven't been seen in any harbour, and no captain is willing to sail the southern Strait these days.

One Black Ship and its captain have been named in the Black Book of Franko da Cola, the Kraken, and Captain Armand.

Captain Armand was last seen on Cora, where Banzel, O'Connor and PrinceAegir followed him to the Broken Keel inn by the harbour. In the catacombs beneath the city Armand managed to defeat the Prince, halt the Dream Demon N'Garthl, summoned by O'Connor, and escape.

There is a story that tells of the origin of Armand. Allegedly, he was once the imperial Admiral of the Scythian Empire - in fact the same man who led the Great Armada when it met the Fleet of the Elf at Waymar before the Signing of the Covenant. If this is true, he is more than a thousand years old.

Captain Radoslav of the Sepulcher

Recently, another Black Ship has been identified. The Sepulcher, and its captain, Radoslav. Nothing more is currently known about neither ship nor captain.

  • The home port of the Black Ships is somewhere in the Kraken's Deep.
  • There is a certain book that holds the secret about how a Black Ship can be defeated.
  • Seeing a Black Ship heralds death.
  • A ship that is sunk by the Black Ships will become part of the Forlorn Hope fleet, condemned to sail the oceans until the end of the world.
  • Drown a crewmember and the Black Ships will let you pass.

The Chronicle of Mirryn

Mirryn Ertinween was a scholar who lived in the 1st Century after the Covenant. His contribution to the Erian culture was to write down some of the legends from the Second Age, and the most famous of his works is the Fall of the Enæïdùn.

The following is the original version of the legend, as it was written before three of the characters, Banzel, O'Connor and Van Saar, were hurled back through the mists of time forgotten to the days of the last battle. History got changed a little, and the 'new' legend is given in bold types.

King Gwyndell of the Enæïdùn
In the second century of the Eighth Generation, the noble Enæïdùn was ruled by their king Gwyndell, the last in a line of kings hailing back to Arkon Aharimansbane, the great hero from the myths of the First Age.

When king Gwyndell refused to tear down the temple of the oracle Elendrine, Æthelmar of the Sardukar tribe, High Priest of the Temple of Rùinn, the Lady of Light, led a great army against the Enæïdùn. The goddess feared the visions of the Oracle, and she coveted the noble bloodlines of the Enæïdùn.

Æthelmar's army consited of the Seven Tribes of the Miurin Plain, all worshipers of sinister deities, as well as countless fell creatures from the Hinterlands. The blasphemous horde was so vast that it ravaged all fields within three days ride of its golden standard. Against it stood the King and his tribe, tall, fair-haired warriors all, the blood of the Ancients coursing through their veins.

Though the cause of the Enæïdùn was just, and their valour unrivalled in the Second Age, compared to the enemy their numbers were small; each Enæïd were met by two dozen foes on the field of battle.

Hard pressed, Gwyndell fell back to Dùn Cærwythen, the capital of his realm and ancient fortress of the Enæïdùn. Although offered a pardon, he refused, for he would not worship the cruel Rùinn. Rather than sacrifice the sons of his tribe on the altairs of the treacherous goddess, he chose to stand forever, untarnished, amongst the Heroes of Man.

In the darkest hour, three heroes came through the mist of time forgotten. They held great secrets of metal and fire, and they brought forth a mighty dragon.

The youngest son of Gwyndell rode the dragon Machina into battle, slaying scores of the enemies of reason before confronting the vicious goddess herself. Giving up his own life, he there slew the evil Mistress of Light.

The fall of Dùn Cærwythen to the Army of the Seven Tribes, and the massacre of the Enæïdùn, marked the beginning of the Second World War. In the centuries that followed, the World was drenched in blood.

Let the fate of the Enæïdùn, and that of their exalted king, whom we now revere as St. Gwyndell, remain an example. Noble death before bondage and a fate dictated by the whims of fickle deities. Let the fate of the young prince be remembered, for he gave his life in combat with the enemy who wish to enslave the soul of Man.

Let it never be forgotten: the shackles, broken, must never be reforged.
The Dragon Machina

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Skal vi fløtte inn på KNOT?

Internal Announcement:

Enkelt og greit. Skal vi eller skal ikke? Stem i pollen oppe til venstre. Vi snakke så om 100 spenn på kvær i måneden, da med hevd på kjelleren på torsdag.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Kingdoms of Eria

In time, I will post more about the different realms, orders and societies that make up Eria. For now, this will have to do.

King Carlos Pedreo XI

King Arthor XIII

Wolf Lords
King Radan Endwatcher

Enlightened Scythian Empire
Electorial Monarchy
Elector Dukes
Emperor Constantinius Ada

King Ambrozy VII

Constitutional Monarchy
King Severin XI

Queen Adelaide II

Awakened Monarchy
King Rowar II

King Irrandal IV

Temple State
Arch Primarch Inocens IX

The Hermetic Order State
Ordo Hermetica
Grand Master Mithrandes

Corporate Oligarchy
Board of Onkels
(King Alphonse XIII)

Monday, 24 August 2009

A letter from the sea

This was written a while ago, and I haven't found a use for it ingame. Since it is more of a flavor-piece anyway I'm posting it here.

After the storm had led us south for a week, we lost all wind north of the Broken Coast. A current has been leading us westward the last 23 days. We have been rationing ever since the storm ended, but we have little left to drink. The captain was injured in the storm, and has not awoken since. The ship is gathering floating banks of seaweed, and the crew are too exhausted to keep us clear if we are delivered wind should come. We are all feeling like there is a dark shadow beneeth our keel. Some of the men have lost their mind and started drinking seawater. This night I had to kill the sekundmann. He had entered the captain's cabin and cut his the captain's eyes out. I fear that we will never return from this and so I write this in hope that it will reach someone so that our loved ones can learn what became of us. I have done as my father taught me and so I place all my hope in that this bottle can reach some civilized land.The gods are all dead.

Pray for our souls for we are all lost.

12th of Septimus this Year of Enlightenment 876

~Hieronimus Boch, erstmann of the good ship Swendemann, owned by the brothers Vandelaar of Raedehafen~

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Cabal of Pure Thought

One point should be made before I continue. Both the Temple and the Cabal have one thing in common – neither worship a god, or gods. In fact, both regard such worship as the greatest act of blasphemy, the highest betrayal of Man. These religions are not based on belief in the divine, but the belief in Man Enlightened.

"We must never forget that only in Himself can Man find the strength to overcome those who wish to prey upon Him. Only in His own brother can Man find community. We, Man, are Exalted, First among Creation. "

-Macharius (The Ascension of Man, I:xiii)

The Cabal is the dominating religion in Western Eria, rather, it is the dominating system of belief. The Cabal consists of several philosophies, all with the common belief that Man is the purest and most advanced of all the races, and that the individual is inferior to the community. In the Second World War, the Lord Solar was the greatest of the generals of Scythian Empire, and after the victory he claimed the Aelevian Peninsula, and his tribe, the Penderii, settled the area that now forms the Kingdom of Pendrell. Other tribes followed the Penderii's example, and settled Livonia, Wezell, Corillia and parts of what is now the Enlightened Scythian Empire (ESE). These realms, with the exception of ESE, are all named after the tribes that settled there, and each brought their own philosophies into the Cabal. The Cabal itself was founded by Lord Solar Macharius, and represented a clear break, not only with the Scythian Empire, but with the Temple of Man Supreme (to be explained further in a later post). Over the centuries that have followed there have been a few religious wars.

The Ministerium
The common denominator between the different sects, cabals and orders that form the Cabal of Pure Thought is the teachings of Macharius, and central here is the book 'The Ascension of Man'. Apart from this, there are several differences amongst them, and just as there have been fought wars between Temple and Cabal, blood has been shed over differences within the Cabal as well. To try to avoid open conflict, the leading figures of each of the philosophies met in a Grand Council in the capital of Pendrell, Crondor, in YE 745. The result was the appointment of the Ministerium as the highest body of the Cabal, with seven ministers as its highest authority.

The Ministerium is an amalgam of most of the orders that make up the Cabal, the universities and colleges of Western Eria, as well as several lodges and more than a few more or less secret societies. It has the final say in matters of doctrine, and since its founding at least three orders have been declared anathema. The latest of these is the Black friars, a monastic order of orthodox Macharites. In later years, the Ministerium has also gained an enormous amount of influence in the Pendrellian Parliament's House of Scholars.

The largest of the factions that make up the Ministerium is the Presbyterium. Originally, the Presbyters were a small movement of preachers following the teachings of Artemis Prester, a Macharian predicant of the 7th Century of Enlightenment. Fyermark attacked the nobility, as he believed that birth alone did not set one man above another, and he died in prison after having led an uprising in northern Pendrell. Since then, the Presbyters have moderated their doctrine somewhat. They remain unpopular among the upper classes, but have gained a substantial following amongst farmers and craftsmen. Today they are control a majority of the House of Commons, as well as the House of Scholars.

As a result of increased Pendrellian dominance and focus over the last century, both the Wezellian Syndikaat and the Adolfians of Livonia have ceded from the Ministerium. Whether this will lead to open conflict in the future remains to be seen.

Orders of the Ministerium:
- Presbyterium
- High Fellowship of Craftsmasons
- University of Man
- University of Stafford
- Collegium of Pure Thought
- High Council of Guilds
- Cabal of the Dragon
- University of Ardenburg
(List is not complete)

The Wezellian Syndikaat
Most Wezellians follow the teachings of Adam Herzog, a great 5th Century Neo-Macharian philosopher. His greatest work, 'Prosperity', lays out the ideal state as one where every day's worth of labor is part of the same economy. The Herzogenites place great value on hard work, thriftiness and clear thinking. The successful merchant is the model all men should strive towards, but a lowly farmhand is just as important. Each cogwheel has to work perfectly to drive the machine of he state.

In YE 1021 the merchant houses of Wezell declared the Royal House bankrupt, and subsequently took over all lands owned by the Crown (apart from seven castles and estates), all executive authority, and instituted a constitution. Now the King of Wezell holds only ceremonial powers, and the realm is ruled by an oligarchy of the seven largest merchant houses as the Wezellian Syndikaat.


  • The Ministerium was behind the attempted assassination of the Pendrellian king on St.Revan's Day in YE 997.
  • The Ministerium is controlled by an Outsider.
  • The Ministerium's plan is to bring all of Eria under its control, by force if necessary.
  • One of the Seven Ministers is a Shaitani-cultist.
  • The Syndikaat plans to throw Eria into a geat war to make more money.
  • The Syndikaat is controlled by a circle of wizards.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Skythian Calendar

The year has 365 days, and twelve months.

All months have 30 days -- four weeks, each with seven days, named numerically (Firstday, Seconday, Thirday, etc). The two extra days fall between the second and third week, and the last and the first of the following month. These are called First- and Last Freeday.

There are five holydays that fall between the months.

Months and holydays:

-St. Eleina's Day 
-St. Servin's Day
- Harbringer

- St. Revan's Day 
- Nightfall

The years are counted as Year of Enlightenment (YE), with YE 0 being the first year after the signing of the Covenant.

Damn good lies

Normally I'm not very fond of fantasy-books, but every now and again I am completely grabbed by an author. George R. R. Martin's 'Songs of Ice and Fire', or more accurately, the first book 'A Game of Thrones' did just that. Now I've added another author to that list, Scott Lynch. His tales about the thief and anti-hero Locke Lamora is perhaps the most entertaining read I've had in the last year. So, this post will not be about my own world, but about that of someone else. In other words, I'm trying my hand on a short book review.

The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch.

The Lies of Locke Lamora"‘“Some day, Locke Lamora,” he said, “some day, you’re going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee. And I just hope that I’m still around to see it.”
“Oh please,” said Locke, “it’ll never happen”."

Locke Lamora is not your typical hero. Lynch gives his protagonist very human traits, such as hybris, ambition, pride, grief and humility. He is a character it is easy to like, and easy to get to know. He also populates his world with a colorful and believable cast, from Locke's friends to the antagonists.

Lynch has managed not only to bring his characters to life, but also his world. Through alternating between past and present, he manges to build not only the plot, but also the background and the setting. While this technique isn't new, or even uncommon, here it is masterfully applied, and in stead of slowing down the pace, it serves to keep the reader on his toes. More than once, we are served an intense cliffhanger in the main narrative while the author takes us back to key events in Locke's past.

The story in it self is in many ways a classical Great Heist story, and Locke and his friends are, as expected, dragged deep into intrigues not of their own design. The challenge with writing a story like this is that it's been done so many times before. The fantasy-genre is also, by its nature, packed with cliches. Still, in 'Lies', Lynch manages to bring all of this together in a way that is both captivating and interesting.

Of course, it really doesn't hurt that I see a lot of things in Lynch's world that I could put in mine; there are similarities enough to call them related. If not blood-relatives, the two worlds could perhaps be cousins-by-marriage.

Port of Call

This was written as a sort of cut-scene a week where we didn't meet to play, and is published after requests from the players.


The heavy postwagon trudged steadily through the rain, pulled by its team of four. The horses were large animals with a relentlessness about them. The breed had a reputation for doing the same route in the same time, summer as winter. The two coachmen, wrapped in their looming oilskins, tricorns pulled down to shield their collars from the downpour, were indistinguishable from the black mass of the wagon. In the dark, heavy rain, the driver couldn't see much more than the lead mare and the odd tree by the highway. This was not his first wet drive towards Stafford, and not the lead's either, so he trusted the old lass to follow the road to the turnpike.

Captain Sir Tomas Moore was miserable. He was far from his ship, and perhaps more importantly, far from the sea. He didn't feel comfortable on land, or more to the point, the only place he felt comfortable was on a ship. The constant, incessant jolts from the wheels falling into potholes or hitting rocks never found their rhythm. He felt like his kidneys would come loose, and the insides of his cheeks were sore from countless involuntary bites over the last two days. The thing that made the young naval officer the most ill at ease was two of his fellow travellers. Each seemed perfectly capable of damaging his composure, but he was actually morbidly impressed by the combination of the two.

The young lady was sitting beside him, so close he could feel the warmth of her hand against his own. When they had introduced themselves, she had told him her name was Miss Jessica Purphroy. Her discreet lavender-scented perfume teased his senses further, and made sure he never forgot her presence. Every time he had looked at her over the last two days, he had been stunned by her striking beauty. She was tall, and even if she was a little thin, her stature, the curve of her hips, the lines of her neck, the fullness of her lips, all these were as if designed to distract. Today she was wearing a dark green dress, cut just a tad higher than the line of decency. When he had seen her at breakfast at the inn where they had overnighted, he had felt like a moth, attracted to the perfect curves of her breasts pushed upwards by her corset, rising and falling gently every time she breathed. Still, it was the way she looked at him that really made him lose his course. There was a playful, challenging innocence in those large, brown eyes. It was all he could do not to look at her right now.

And the presbyter knew it. Of that there was no doubt. The second of this diabolical duo sat right accross from him, and the old preacher seemed to have an uncanny ability to sense when morality was in jeopardy. Although Sir Tomas was a Macharite, like most knights and nobles, he was very much familiar with the Presbyterian creed. The two schools were not all that different, both belonged to the Cabal of Pure Thought, and both were founded on the teachings of Macharius. The main difference was that where the Macharites's placed great emphasis on the wonders of Man and the advantages of the Western Erian culture, the Presbyterium adhered to the strict moral codes established by stern men like Archibald Arson and Jonathan Steewell. After the St. Revan's Day Plot against the king, just before Sir Tomas was born, several Macharites, some even MPs, had been arrested and hanged, and the Night of Bloody Daggers were still remembered. Afterwards, Steelwell's militant party had gained control of the Commons and still held it. It was said, though seldom loudly, that during those days Pendrell had been one murder away from a civil war.

In his current predicament, Sir Tomas briefly wondered if his situation would have been less unbearable if it had come to an open war back then. He had heard some stories from that turbulent time, and he was not convinced that it hadn't all been about power, and as a Macharite and a knight, he was certain that had it come to a war, the Ministerium would not have become as powerful as it was now. These possibly treasonous thoughts were abandoned when a bump in the road caused Miss Purphroy's hand to touch his, if only briefly. More than once during the journey the desolate officer had recovered from one of the young lady's spells just to find the presbyter looking at him with such stern dismay that he felt like a midshipman having to explain his mistake to an admiral. And the fact that the watchdog appeared to be sleeping didn't reassure him the least. He had found that such trivialities didn't stop the black-clad minister from preventing lasting damage to the pure souls of his fellow Man. This time, however, he looked to be lost in whatever dreams men like him entertained, and so Sir Tomas suffered on.

He was trapped in a chain of events that seemed bound and determined to make sure he was kept from getting to grips with it. Again he tried to distract himself from the present by going through the last weeks in his head.

It was a fortnight since he had taken 'the Sparrowhawk' into port after a routine patrol in the Northern Ocean. His orders had been to stay within ten miles of land, and to collect the reports from the small garrisons protecting the dozen or so trade posts along the Forsaken Coast. The only thing that diverged from the steady routine was the storm. They had been a day from home, outside World's End, when it came. Every sailor knew that the weather changes at the drop of a hat in those waters, but what hit them was not at all common for the season, or any season, for that matter. The ship had been making excellent speed, sails trimmed, and a strong wind from North by North West to speed them to port. Then the wind turned and increased.

Within the hour they had a full storm trying it's damndest to drive them into the rocks. Thanks to a fine crew, a good bit of seamanship, and a terrific ship, all hands had gotten safely to port. Still, there was something about that storm that didn't sit right. And there are all sorts of stories circling about these days, many of them concerning the end of days and dark magic. And it is also no secret that on more than one ship in the fleet, things are practiced below decks that will curl the blood of most enlightened gentlemen, even if the King's Code calls for a full hundred lashes in such cases of blasphemy.

And the she had been spotted. 'The Pius' had come out of the storm. She had first been called three cable-lengths to port, flying a full rig. At first he had thought her at peril, for he was certain that she had been surprised by the change in weather and had lost too much of her crew to trim sails. He had felt the helpless dread a sailor feels when he is forced to witness a tragedy, for surely no ship could stand such a wind with that much canvas. When 'the Pius' had vanished behind a raising wave he had lowered his head in prayer for their souls. Then the lookout called her again. She had come into view a lot closer this time, raging ahead like a demon from the dark, and he could see that she had furled her topsails. That was when he realized that the captain of 'the Pius' was riding this beast of a storm. He knew the ship only by reputation, and of her captain, Gryff Galan, he knew nothing but the name. She was one of the brand new frigates, with a slender hull, new rigging, and, they said, a secret weapon aboard. But what really filled him with pride was the Pendrellian colours flying from her mizzen-mast in defiance of the elements.

Upon anchoring in Ipwyth harbour, he had taken his log, his report, and the correspondence, to the admiral. He had returned to 'the Sparrowhawk' expecting a week of refurbishing and resupplying, and had had just accepted an offer to join his firstmate, Regis, at dinner with his wife when the admiral's dispatch dingy pulled up to his ship. The orders were as vague as they were clear. He was to take 'the Sparrowhawk' to Crondor at best speed, and he was to personally bring his log to the Admiralty at his earliest convenience.

When he had informed his laconic firstmate, Regis had answered, "Ours is not to ask, but why?", then shrugged. And so four days later he had again anchored up and brought his logs to have them signed by his superiors, but this time he had discovered that it was his chance encounter with 'the Pius' that had changed his course.

Now, Sir Tomas is not a man easily baffled by gold-embroidered jackets and the company of stiff peers, but still, over the course of the following week, he was baffled. He gave his account before a brace of admirals of the White, and then before an old admiral of the Gold and a scattering of senior officers of all colors. He was interviewed by two high-ranking Argonauts. Then he talked to a dubious character from the Foreign Office, and he reported to the Ministerium to answer a string of questions from a trio of somber clerics. And thus the week went, one conversation after another, questions about 'the Pius' and her crew. "Have you ever met Captain Galan in person, Sir Tomas? "Do you know anyone who serves on her, Sir Tomas? Have you ever been to Göteshaven, Sir Tomas? How about Freeport?" and so on and so forth. Within Second Freeday he had already cursed the day his outlook called the blasted ship in the storm. Still, even if he felt like a helpless piece of driftwood caught in currents far greater than he could see, his curiosity had been sparked. It would seem that Captain Galan and his crew were somewhat controversial in the higher stratas of Crondor, and it was obvious that at least for the time being he himself was caught up in their wake.

He was snapped from his reverie by a particularly inconsiderate pothole that shook the postwagon violently and threw the more amicable of his two scourges against him. As if by instinct, he grabbed her to stop her from falling to the muddy floor. His hands found her slender waist with a will of their own, and she giggled softly as her eyes met his, so close he could smell mint on her breath. He felt completely lost, and felt his words failing him miserably.
"Thank you ever so much, Captain," she said.

The silence that followed was broken unceremoniously by a dry cough from the seat across from them. Sir Tomas let go of the woman immediately and felt anger and shame flooding up in him. Before he could look away from the angelic face in front of him he caught a mischievous little smile, and a discreet wink.

"I'm sorry, madam," he managed to say, cursing all things in general, and 'the Pius' in particular, under his breath.

He could feel the condemning look from the presbyter, and was painfully aware of the knot in his lower belly left after his involuntary indecency. The succubus were laughing beautifully at something one of the other passengers said, and he felt a pang of jealousy. With a feat of willpower he returned to his previous train of thought.

Two days ago he had been ordered to travel to Stafford by the fastest means available. He had actually considered renting a horse, but the Pendrellian countryside in autumn was not easily traveled if you didn't know the roads and the land. Thus he had come to find himself trapped in this torturous coffin. He missed the steady rolling of a ship.

He wasn't quite sure what awaited him at the University, but somehow he knew that he'd be spending more days answering questions about the storm and the ship riding it. His orders said that he was to report to a Doctor Witgard Harbough, fellow of Whiteshield College. The name was familiar, although he knew little of the man bearing it. When he had taken his lieutennant's exam, Doctor Harbough's 'Trigonomical Approaches to Navigation' had been the chief source of most of his dread before he appeared before the board.

Before boarding the postwagon in Crondor, Sir Tomas had met briefly with a friend of the family, Mr. Hobart, who was connected to the Ministerium. Apparently the Doctor was a leading scholar in the field of Metaphysical Anomalies, whatever that meant. Mr. Hobart had also adviced him to jump through all the hoops they placed before him, and to remain pure in thought and stick to the facts. He had been rather unwilling to speculate about why the sighting of 'the Pius' had caused so much ado, but had briefly mentioned an incident in Corinth not long ago. He didn't say much, but had whispered that Captain Galan and his officers had been declared Enemies of Man by the Temple of Man Supreme. The term had sent a chill down Sir Tomas's spine. The Temple had reacted even harsher to the upsurge of hersy than the Cabal, and stories of book-pyres and inquisitions in Corinth and Aragorn had lost their novelty over the last five years. Before they had parted, Mr. Hobart had said that there were parties who were looking to apprehend the officers of 'the Pius', but that Captain Galan so far had been protected by someone close to the King. Then he had touched his nose, and added that mere mortals did wisely to distance themselves from such matters.

Somehow he managed to fall asleep. He dreamt of 'the Pius'. She was fighting a storm fiercer than anything he'd ever seen. It was as if the ocean itself were trying to break the ship as it was tossed around, battered and harried by giant waves. Drowned men were trying to pull him down into the deep, and he was trying to shout to the captain. His voice was drowned out by the raging storm, and he was being dragged towards the railing by dead sailors, frothy seawater running from their mouths. Then the captain turned slowly, and he saw his own drowned face looking back at him.

He awoke with a voilent cough. It was as if he could taste the cold, salty seawater in his mouth. In his mind he thanked providence for the diversion as the driver had stopped the wagon and now shouted, "Elmwilde Turnpike, half hour rest, change to Stafford University!" Still, the dream had rattled him, and he just let himself be swept by the polite efficiency of the stablehands as they helped the passengers through the rain and into the small turnpike inn. He was feeling utterly out of his depth, and absentmindedly ordered a mug of spiced wine to warm his spirit.

He could see the presbyter talking to a stranger, but the young lady was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps she had been met by a wagon and had disappeared. The lost, if hopeless, oportunity, hurt, and he took a deep draught of his mug, finding some consolidation in the warmth that gathered in his belly. Still, he could not shake the cold his dream had left completely. He had a vague feeling of forboding, as if a shadow had just passed beneath his keel.

The new driver opened the door and stepped in, removing his tricorn as he entered. His long, greasy hair was dark from the rain and plastered to his skull. He had a jagged scar running from his left temple all the way down to the corner of his mouth, fixing his face in a cruel smile. "Right, ladies and gents, mount up for University!" the man said, turning on his heel and replacing the soaked and battered tricorn as he stepped into the rain again.

The new wagon was smaller than the last one, and only had two of the great beasts teamed to it. Sir Tomas was almost shocked when he saw Miss Purphroy hurrying out of a door in one of the houses clustered around the turnpike. She was wrapped in a long traveling cloak, and had an elegant little tricorn fastened to her hair, the gem on the hatpin catching the light from the hissing torches held by the stablehands. A local servant was doing his utmost to shield her from the rain with a tassled umbrella, as she navigated around the deepest puddles on her way to the coach.

As he helped her aboard the wagon, it dawned on him that the mean old preacher was nowhere to be seen. He felt his spirits rise a little as he noted that there were no other passengers for the last leg of the journey. He tipped the servant, and just as he stepped into the wagon he caught the coachman staring at him, the ugly grin all the more menacing in the dark. Sir Tomas returned the look for a few seconds, angered by the frivolity of the man, before the coachman nodded and pulled at the brim of his tricorn, turned, and climbed the steps to his seat.

The next hour went by fast like a childhood summer. The two passengers quickly warmed to the unchaperoned situation. She laughed and joked, and seemed very interested in the adventurous life of a naval captain. They discovered mutual friends, and they joked about the dreary old preacher. The rain kept up its steady tattoo, and for the first time in a while, Sir Tomas felt like things were going his way.

The coach had stopped, and it had been remarkably quiet a few minutes when Miss Purphroy placed her delicate hand on his. "Listen carefully, Sir Tomas," she said, "I need your help."
He was completely taken by surprise by the seriousness of her voice, "Name your favour, Miss Purphroy, I am yours to command," he said, confident and invincible.

She had a sad smile as she said, "I have not been completely honest with you, my dear Tomas. My errand for this journey is to stop you from creating a fuss, you see."

"Pardon me?" he said, feeling like a whale driven into a shallow bay to be slaughtered. "This is all about the blasted 'Pius', isn't it?"

"Yes, my dear, I am afraid it is. You see, Tomas, there is quite a lot of controversy surrounding that ship. It is one of three ships built by the king himself, by plans he claims were given to him by a mysterious lodge.

"Moreover, the captain of 'the Pius' has become involved in several acts of blasphemy, and he is believed to be in league with known members of a dark cult worshipping the Drowned Man."
At this, Sir Tomas felt as if the shadow that had been following him had finally caught up with him.

"And exactly what is it you want from me?" he asked.

"You see, Tomas, our good Captain Galan has become quite dangerous, and there are forces that can no longer allow important members of our realm to ignore his continued blasphemy. Your naïve testimony threatens to further move the focus away from this, and thus, I'm afraid, you, my darling Tomas, have to be prevented from muddying the waters further."

She leaned over to him and kissed him slowly, and he let her, knowing that whatever happened next, he would not get back to port.

She sat back, took off her cloak, pulled out her hatpin and ruffled her long brown hair, the hat falling to the floor. All the while with that look of detached regret in her eyes. She ripped open her dress, tearing seams and exposing small round, white breasts. Then she screamed.

In the blink of an eye, the doors to the couch were thrown open, and several men in wet oilskins converged on him. He was dragged out and thrown on the ground, his hat trampled under a muddy boot. His arms were bent behind his back, cold water soaking his clothes, and he felt the coarse rope tearing his skin as they bound him. They pulled him to his feet and he was made to face his captors. He recognized the coachman and one more fellow from the inn - the same man the presbyter had been talking to. Then he saw the preacher standing behind the men, that same unforgiving look on his face, and he heard him say, "Well done, Jessica."

Sir Tomas almost laughed when he heard her response, "Thank you, papa."

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Mythology I

"Take heed, Mariner! the Host of Man is at the Crossroads; Fate is in the balance, prophecies converge; Dark Gifts come at great price."   
-The Black Staff of Argos

The mythos of the Book of Worlds is one part quilted tapestry, one part hodgepodge, and three parts larceny. As with a lot the setting, it consists in great part of bits and pieces borrowed or outright stolen from literature, movies, games or RL. Some elements are transplanted more or less on root from where they originated, some have been cut from their host and grafted on the new stem. For good reasons, I will not lay it all out here, rather, I will give you the two-copper-tour, and the thought behind it all.

First off, I'll let you in on the Genesis. Not the metaphysical in-game one, but how it all has come into life (as it were). As mentioned, the setting was born with an act betrayal and the swearing of fealty to a dragon. After this, the stories that made the Book came from a couple of years of mostly one-on-one play. The character was Franko da Cola, and the chronicle was that of his fall, and ultimately, his ascension. For most of this, it was actually somewhat of a paradox to me, as the game was one of imminent gehenna, of the end of the world. My world. My baby. Franko, I must say, is a fundamentally sick puppy.

Each session seemed to make the End of the World more certain, more imminent. He was the one who served the dragon in its first vulnerable years; he was the one who aided the Orc in the first wars where the tribes of the Black Bloods were united into a vast Horde. He was the one who broke the Seal of Argos, sundering the barrier that kept Outsiders from crossing into the world. He also partook in rituals too dark and sinister to put in text, he called upon the powers of the Dark, and he even stole the soul of a fellow Man. Oh, and he went into one of the Hells and freed an imprisoned demon, then he brought him back to Argos and let him loose. All of this by his own free will. A right fine customer, this Franko.

The Myth of Man
"Man, the most serene of creatures, rose from the very dust of Creation by his own will.

"From the darkness between the stars, the Exarch came, floating through the eons. When the Great Enemy fell into the world in the First Age, it brought the Darkness. Elf and gods stood against it, but only when Man arose, taming the fire of the gods, and thus claiming his place as the rightful master of Creation, the First World War was won. The Orc, the servant of the Deep, were vanquished, and Argos was cleansed.

"The Elf and the gods, once, when Man was still unawakened, his guardian, grew jealous of his prowess, and forgot the ancient bond of blood forged in combat with the Ancient Foe. In the Second Age they turned against Man, and made war upon him. Thus the Second World War was thrust upon him. Man, besieged on all sides, turned to himself and found Reason. This, the very force of Creation, strengthened his mind and purified his soul. Against the traitors, Man stood victorious."
-The Book of the World

This is the core of the mythos. It tells about the coming of the Exarch, the great wars, and the rise of man. The Exarch, the Great Enemy, the Deep, the Darkness, etc. are all names of the same entity. Among friends (and out of game) it is often referred to as Cthulhu. Some have even been known to chant "ÏA, ÏA, FTAGN!" in a more or less composed manner. Old squid-face has been adopted, and now lies dormant on the bottom of the ocean, dreaming that "even death may die". Sounds familiar? After some of Franko's less glorious adventures, cults worshipping the Drowned Man can now be found hiding in most ports of any respectable size. Their rites often involve drowning a man to hear the gospel of the Deep.

The Gods
In the last great war man killed his gods, all but a few. Now the Younger Gods are taking the scene. The first was the very same bugger who set all of this in motion, the very same Monsir da Cola. He actually became three gods. There is Shaitani, the Drowned Man, there is Al Azwad, the Black Man (son of Man, not born by woman), and finally, there is Morfeus, Lord of Dreams, Prince of Nightmares and the Path of Thorns. Now, worship of gods, or even recognizing their existence, is blasphemy, and an act of enmity against Man, according to the Temple and the Cabal, but there are now growing cults to all these three, not only Shaitani. There are other gods as well. Aziz, the Last Prophet, Servant of Man is one. He died in the final battle against Grishnak, the Light of Creation. Grishnak was slain here, before the broken White Tower of Fate, by Morfeus.

As it happens, Aziz was once the manservant of Franko, while Grishnak were the very same demon he freed and brought home.

The last of the Younger Gods, so far anyway, is Agaron, the Warlord. Interestingly enough, this one is not affiliated with any player of mine, except for the fact that a PC, an Orc actually, were killed when he transcended.

There is one Older God known to be around as well. In the deep south of the Dark Continent, the Stygian Empire still worship Dís, the Ferryman, God of Death. This one is quite important, as the myth will have it that he is the one who guards the tomb of the Exarch. So there might be something it the rhyme about death dying anyway.

The Hierarchy of Creation

When the Pantocrator lit the first light of Creation, he set the Daeva to guard it. Of these, many have fallen, or disappeared in the vastness of the Multiverse. Then He created the Eldren, and he set them to guide the Younger Races. Of the Younger, we know of Elf, the first of them, and Man. The Pantocrator, or the Architect, has vanished, and in His stead the Eldren assumed the responsibility of guarding the Creation. Many of them grew arrogant and prideful, and styled themselves Masters of the Multiverse. Only one of the Eldren Ships is known by name: the Olympos.

The Great Plot

Magic is awoken; the Black Bloods (or the Orc, if you will) has united under the Great Khan Ghurandakh and conquered the colonies on the Dark Continent. They have marched south, and are at war with the Stygian Empire. The gods are returning to Argos, and outsiders now walk hidden among Man. The Temple and the Cabal are coming down hard on heretics, blasphemers and Enemies of Man. Amidst all of this, a combined army, 'the Host of Man' have been assembled to reclaim the lost colonies. The Deep is stirring in its cold grave, and the Olympos is coming.

Behind the scenes

I will return to several of these issues in due time, but this is the promised tour of the mythos. As for the thought behind it all, well… The Book is the product of interaction between players, and between players and Storyteller. I try to provide enough bullshit to create a good framework for the spinning of nice, long yarns. If a player has an idea that is better than mine, I try to swallow my pride and toss my original plan on the scrap heap, or present a compromise. The incorporation of Cthulhu is one such example. I had thought to make the Deep something nasty and evil, but in play it ended up with a more or less direct transplant. Besides, there is no shame in copying the work of a true master.

Next: I might go for the Temple and the Cabal, or something else entirely.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Argos, a short introduction

The world of Argos is like most worlds in that it has a good distribution of continents, and enough oceans to separate them. It has plains, hills, valleys, mountain ranges, deserts and all the terrains you’d expect to find lying about on a proper world. It also has elves and orcs, and humans of course. Were you to travel the world, you could take in the somber opulence of the merchants of the Wezelliche Syndikaat, the stately monuments and great buildings of the Three Houses of Parliament in Pendrell, and the magnificent Supreme Temple of Man in the Scythian temple-state. You could sail the currents of the Straits of Ahriman, visiting the ancient garrison city of the Knights of St. Invictus on the island of Cora, or you could brave the Outer Ocean, crossing the Kraken’s Deep (praying you don’t encounter one of the dreaded Black Ships) on your way to the Waymar Archipelago, perhaps visiting Freeport, where you could hobnob with pirates, spies, blackmarketeers and opportunists.

Alternately, you could brave the Orc-controlled plains and mountains of the Dark Continent, seeking lost temples and artifacts of lost times, or travel to far-away Cathay, the Empire in the Midst of Time. Of course, you could choose to go somewhere else entirely.

One of my guiding principles when creating this world was to make it recognizable and as easy to relate to as possible. The players will have to learn a myriad of names of places and persons, they will have to familiarize themselves with locations, customs and history, and they will have to be able to move around in the world. So I figured I’d do the only honorable thing. I’d steal, borrow and plagiarize. From anywhere and anyone, as long as I, or my players, like it. The thought is that if there is a pre-existing relationship, it is that much easier to deal with. And this again leaves more room to explore behind the scenes, and to draw abductive conclusions based upon what’s described.

Argos is very much like our world. The kingdom of Pendrell, for instance, is quite alike England, and you can find it close to where you’d expect to find England, were you to look for it. The Corinthian city-states, to take another example, are not unlike the Italian city-states, and they’re located appropriately. It is a world dominated by Man, and Man has all but rid the world of magic. The continent of Eria (hint: think Europe), is where much of the play has been based so far.

The Erian civilization has reached the Age of Enlightenment. We’re basically talking pre-Industrial Revolution. Printing presses, universities, banking systems, the lot. The Reign of Enlightenment is a little tenuous, mind you. The paradigm does not really allow for magic, fantastic creatures, or of wondrous phenomenons in general. The two lawful religions are the Cabal of Pure Thought and the Temple of Man Supreme, both praising Man as the rightful ruler of Creation, and both adhering to reason and rationality as the way to advance man in the great scheme of things.

It hasn’t always been like this, though. In the previous age, magic was alive, gods ruled the heavens, and Man and Elf shared the lands. Long story short (more on this later), in the Second World War, Man killed the gods, drove the Elf off his lands, and vanquished magic. This was about a thousand years ago, and now things are changing. Now magic has awoken, new gods have transcended, and the end of the world is imminent (nothing gets a game going like an apocalypse, right?). These days, the precepts of reason and rationality are being challenged by great powers, both ancient and new. More people are awakening to magic, dark cults are spreading, and the Orc, unified by a great Kahn, have swept over the colonies on the Dark Continent.

If I have to put a label on the setting, and as a relatively old-school roleplayer, I tend to do that anyway, I’d say it’s a low-magic, dark gothic fantasy. To put more labels on it, the rules are the new Storyteller system, and most of my current players play mages. A few more key words are intrigue, ascension, paradigm-war, Call of Cthulhu, Ars Magica, steampunk, etcetera etcetera…

Next: On the mythos.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Boom! Headshot!

The whole world changed without warning with a betrayal. Or, with a blatant act of PvP that left one man standing. The story is as follows.

Back in, what, 2005, I as hosting a one-off session. I normally draw the line at four players, two being my optimal group-size, and one-on-one being what I play the most. I might get in to the advantages and drawbacks of these different types of play later. Anyway, this time I think we were a total of six or seven guys gathered for the game. Now, I knew that most of the players would not be available for a follow-up session, so I didn't plan for a long story-line. Truth be told, I didn't plan for much of a story-line at all. I had a plot-hook, and took it from there.

"You are all on the same ship, and there is a fierce storm blowing. The ship is thrown aground, and you are the survivors of a shipwreck." It might not have been verbatim, but that's the long and short of it. All went well, until they get to a great gate in the mountain. This just happened to be one of those gates that were locked, actually sealed, from the outside. Some of the characters seemed to think this was a problem, while the others didn't. To make a long story somewhat shorter, I'll just give the headlights.

A loud argument broke out about whether to open the gate or not. While the argument raged, one character snuck away and into the mountains, figuring he had better chances of survival on his own. Another character decided to just open the damn gate while the rest were fighting. Did I mention that this was one of those gates that had been sealed with seven seals, from the outside? Well, it was. The seals are broken, one by one, until the last is removed and the gates swing open. By now the group has discovered that the cat is about to be let out of the bag. Or, more to the point, the dragon. I hadn't actually planned for this, but it had to be something pretty awesome inside that mountain. And there you go. Awesome on a dragon scale.

The mythic beast made short process with the remaining characters, until one of them managed to get off a shot. A flintlock pistol against a dragon won't do much harm, but it made the dragon pause. "What new devilry is this?" I believe his exact words were. This is where one of the last survivors, a character by the name of Fanko da Cola, pulls his own pistol, shoots the other remaining character in the head at point blank, killing him instantly, bows before the dragon, and said, "I will tell you all about it, my master."

And at this point it had gotten late, we had no living characters, except for the one who made for the mountains, and Franko, and we called it a night.

This incident happened to be the birth of the Book of Worlds.

: A Short Introduction
(edited to weed out the legion of typos)

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Beginning

The Book of Worlds is an old project. In fact, it didn’t get its official name until about a couple of years ago. Before that it went by the somewhat mysterious moniker the Fantasy Project. Now you might wonder what I am going on about. You see, I am a roleplayer. An honest to God geek, and I have been since back in the day. Although I am not as old as some, nor did I start as early as many, I have been in the game half my life now.

My first encounter with the glorious world of RPG's was in 9th grade, back in the early nineties.

This kid had moved from Civilization to my neck of the woods, and we found we had some common interests. If my memory serves me, our first contact was about a girl. He had fallen for a friend of mine, and I got involved in the business as a sort of intermediary/councillor. My first encounter with the game came shortly after I visited him the first time. I commented on a poster he had on his door. I still remember the one. It was one of Larry Elmore's dragon scenes. I asked him about it, and he replied, "Nah, just something from a game I play." To make a long story short, that's how it began. He GM'ed for me and a few friends until he moved back to the city a year or so later. Left without a GM, I took the mantle. Since then I have never looked back.

Lesson #1
The first thing I learned after taking over the screen was: Do not waste time planning, the bastards will just do the opposite of what you intend them to do. I had spent three days writing this adventure - pen and paper only -- this was before I owned a computer. It took about thirty seven minutes into the session before my sixteen handwritten pages about the "Curse of the Forsaken Temple" were useless. After that I learned to fly by the seat of my pants.

But I digress. The Fantasy Project is an old dream of mine. I wanted to make a world that worked. I have discovered that making a world that works for that one chronicle, with that group of players is easy. Creating something that can support prolonged and varied play is a little more challenging.

I've run several different scenarios under the header over the years, but the world of Argos appeared out of the blue the winter of 2003. I was asked by a couple of friends to run a game, and I came up with a scenario, and drew a map. Thus the kingdom of Pendrell was born. The stroke of genius (in my own very humble opinion) was to draw a map section, as opposed to a world map. It hinted towards more, but as long as the story didn't call for it, the rest of the world was allowed to stay out of reach. That first game on Argos lasted about eight or ten nights, and had everything. Adventure, heroism, action, mood, even a Good Death.

Then the world lay dormant for a while. I hosted a few games in the World of Darkness, and the Fantasy Project was put on the backburner.

The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences in world-building, storytelling, and roleplaying in general. I have been told I'm wordy, so I do not expect that a lot of people will bother reading all my anecdotes and meanderings. Those who do, please ask if you think I can answer your question(s).

Next: The Headshot that gave birth to the Book of Worlds

(edited to weed out typos)