Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Chapter: Nemesis No More

Cast: Bansl, Galan, Tito and Toadface. Also, as NPC's: Aegir, Dr. Mörbius, Droctors Misterio and Toombs, Commander Spearhawk and Master Ludenius.

The following takes place between 28 Decanum and 3 Undecium, YE 1022.

Locked in a trance, in combat with the evil master-mind, Galan and Toadface makes a stand, all the while, Tito's soul, given over to his spirit-totem, stalks the labyrinth – the tide turns, van Zaar disappears again, and the survivors have to carry the lifeless bodies of two of the cabal to safety.

Scoundrel Days

Trey asked a question about music and roleplaying. Just to illustrate, this album is probably the one with the most rotation over the last year.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Endgame Approaching

The Siege of Fort Plage

The Templar armies of Narbonne and Aragorn have attacked Corillia. The combined force of 45,000 men, nominally led by Don Artugio Marabazar, consists of three separate armies.
  • 15,000 men under the command of Don Amero Ballatana has crossed the River Mauve, and are now laying siege to Fort Plage. The town is defended by a combined force of 5,000 men, made up of Lady Thorne's Enlightened Presbytarians and Wezellians.
  • Another army, this one numbering 20,000, is besieging the three fortresses of the Macharian Line, further West along the Mauve. This effort is commanded by Duke Fillip de Artois, and is mostly made up of Narbonnians. The Alliance forces arrayed against it are made up of Corillian Macharites and Pendrellian expeditionary regiments.
  • The last force, counting 10,000, and consisting of at least four regiments of Aragonian cuirassiers, has so far not been committed.
Reports say that the Templars have brought the body of Sta. Larena, as well as the reliquaries from three hundred temples to the front. Whether or not this is true has yet to be established, but the Alliance forces who have faced them in battle tell of scores of angels leading the assaults on thir walls. Rumours also tell of other, darker entities prowling the frontlines after dark.

Recently, news of another army being mustered in Narbonne, counting between 15,000 and 30,000, has reached the Norther Alliance. This force, if it does indeed exist, will most likely have to be composed of ill-equipped raw conscripts.

A Flood shrine brought before the walls of Bad Gwornak

The Flood has now reached the foothills of the Elfswall Mountains, and are now besieging Bad Gwornak, the last major Templar stronghold between them and the Laernian Pass. The city has been reinforced by a Corinthian army of 8,000, as well as 50 modern artillery-pieces sent as a gift from the Arch Primarch.

Observers can tell of horrible scenes where thousands upon thousands of the savages throw themselves at the walls of the defenders, drenching the ground in blood so that the terrible gods they bring with them can cross into the world. One such observer, Professor Ludwig Abel of Marburg, has written, "I weep for the world that will rise out of the ashes of this war, for the demons now released upon the world will surely demand tribute if we ever see tomorrow. The doors we now open in our hour of need may proove difficult to close."

Master Octavian Arbalestus has promised to secure the the Flood's break-through, but so far the Ordo Hermetica has not taken to the field in this theatre. 

The death of the Emperor

Emperor Constantinus Ada of the Enlightened Skythian Empire died on 30 Decanum, YE 1022 after having suffered mortal wounds during the Battle of Gryffental. There are still at least two Imperial armies in the field, but these are under-strength and poorly led. The Lord Marshal has proclaimed that "the Host of Man will clean out the remaining snakes," and the Livonian army is now turning towards the Corillian front.

The last days of Borgen

On St. Revan's Day, YE 1022, Borgen, the cpital of Cora, fell to the inhuman hordes of the Court of Stars. Nothing now seems to stand between this terrible darkness and the divided lands of man.

[Picture source: 1 Der Viator; 2 Medieval II; 3 Clash of Empires; 4 unknown]

Comrade Baggins

In 1976, The Hobbit was published in the USSR. The fantasy-classic was illustrated by Mikhail Belomlinsky, and to be sure, his work has a distinctly different feel. Not at all wrong, just very different. 

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

W. B. Yeats

Fragments of Truth and Fiction III

When he had descended the stairs from the Wise Man's pagoda on the mountain's top, he came to the River of Time. Here he sat for a while, and Golden Arrow came to his side. Perhaps she already knew that her fate was set, and perhaps he too saw his own destiny in the murky waters of the river.

"Autumn is supposed to be a time of peace and reflection! Can you blame me for being a mite irritable, Master Raven? You birds do not seem to acknowledge the fact that there are other interests involved here as well. No, with you it's always, "you need to see this at once, Sir M." or "I need your signature on this piece of paper right away, Sir M.""

As the Empire collapses under the weight of war, the lands turn to martial law, where law retains any foothold at all. Bands of deserters, brigands, mercenaries, and local militia is the only power in large areas. As those living there are becoming only to aware of, might is the only thing that makes right once civilization crumbles.

Many fell creatures are drawn into light as the war between North and South rages on. Some follow the armies like carrion-birds, preying on the weak and the wayward. Others have a stake in the game itself.

The rivers of the Underworld are dark and empty places now that the King of the Dead has fallen. Many are those who lose their way; some are drawn down into the Deep, others are doomed to wander the lands of the living. Some also say that creatures who were held at bay by the Ferrymen are now creeping back into the realm of the dead.

[Picture source: 1 Håvard Legreid; 2 BibliOdyssey; 3 Onlinekunst.de;4 Keith Thompson; 5 Eleni Tsami]

Friday, 27 May 2011

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Advertising on the Book of Worlds

As the astute reader will have noticed, over the last day or so, the Book of Worlds has gotten some new features. Yes, dear reader, I have whored out my blog to Amazon.com. Or, to put a finer point on it, I have opened an Amazon Associates account. In the future, following any links to books or DVD's from this site, if resulting in a purchase, will earn me tons of cash. Or at least a few credits.

I've been considering this for a while, and while I do not want to fill the site with ads, I have decided that I'll try this on for size. I've been linking to books for a while, in posts, and under the "Currently reading" header in the sidebar, I've also reviewed a couple, both books and movies. Now I may get a little something out of it.

I've also created an Associates-store, where I've hand-picked a few titles. Should you buy anything through it, I'll get a small kick-back. This will also be accessible through the widget below the blog-roll.

I would greatly appreciate any feedback on this. Is it too much, do you think it's an improvement, etc.

Now to something else.

Chapter: Dr. Mörbius, I presume...

Cast: Aegir of the Enæidùn, Gryff Galan, Velimir Tito, Yolander van Zaar, and Toadface. Guest starring: Deep Thought.

The following takes place on 28 Decanum, YE 1022.

Having reached the position of the OUT mother-ship, EXODUS I, the heroes decide to play fair: one by one, they enter the labyrinth designed to bewilder, weaken, and kill them – Bansl has already gone missing, soon others will too; meanwhile, van Zaar reappears with new visions of imminent doom.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

NPC: Rupertus Ludenius

This is an edited re-post from 4 December 2010. The conspiering events from yesterday have decided to keep conspiering, hence the chapter's further delay. This post has been edited to reflect the NPC's adventures since becoming part of the Pius Cabal; a paragraph has been added at the bottom of the bio, as have some new links, and a new picture, further, his stats have been adjusted.

Adeptus Rupertus Themian Ludenius bani Flambeu began his career when he was chosen for apprenticeship at age fourteen. Born a Citizen, the first son of a northern farmer and his wife, he was brought before a Master at the annual Folkemoot, and there found worthy of being taken into the Order. Normally only children under the age of twelve, or those who have allready Awakened, are chosen at the Folkemoot, but the Master saw something in the sullen boy. And so Rupertus was enrolled in House Flambeu, one of the two recognized Houses of the Order.

While he proved to be hard working and focused, Rupertus's Awakening came late, and only at age thirty four did he finally get his Apprentice-robes. His teachers predicted a dull career for the gloomy young man, as most Hermetics his age now wore the robes of a Student of the Arts. They would undoubtedly have been proven right, had it not been for the patronage of Master Vermis Ludenius, of House Bonisagus. At this time, Vermis had only recently delivered his Masterpiece, and he chose the dark-eyed northerner as his first Apprentice. While it is not uncommon for a Master to take on an Apprentice from a different House than his own, this still caused some stir at the time. Some claim that the true reason for this was that Master Ludenius was not nearly a good enough magus to get the pick of the litter.

Master Vermis Ludenius was at this time assigned to the Mercantile Tribunal, and after that to the Chamber of Treasury, and over the course of the following twenty years, Rupertus studied hard under several of the Order's best teachers. It is said that one of his teachers once told Vermis that teaching the Arts to Rupertus was like explaining Etherial physics to a Presbyterian. Nevertheless, thanks to his own doggedness, and, some say, his Master's deep pockets, Rupertus finally won his Adeptus-robes in YE 1019.

The first year of his first mandatory two-year Adeptus praxis he served as Adeptus Secundus on the Aegathon under then Adeptus, now Master of the Fleet, Octavian Arbalestus. The second year he served as Adeptus Cataphractor for Master Severus Septimus in the northern borderlands. He received good evaluations after both these tours, and once he was released back to his Master, both his own and his Master's reputation had been vindicated.

By now the Great War had begun, and Master Vermis Ludenius had been appointed Burgmaster of Göteshafen. Rupertus became his Master's secretary and accountant, as well as serving as the Tower's Chair in the Town Council. At age fifty seven, he doesn't look a day older than thirty five. This is typical of the Hermetics, and the secret of their longevity is a well kept secret.

When the good ship Pius visited Göteshafen in late Ovtavium, YE 1022, Master Ludenius struck a bargain with the Pius Cabal. As part of this deal, Rupertus was sent to serve as a liaison between the Order and the cabal. The Hermetic Adeptus quickly found his place, as a vital part of the ship's command staff, working very closely with Commander Spearhawk, the non-Enlightened first-mate of the Pius. The two men has managed to replicate several master-pieces, using the ship, her crew, and often as not vast quantities of Mana. He has also widened his fields of research to include natural philosophy, aerostatics, Enlightened Science, theology, and goethic science.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Star Wars meets Guns'n Roses

Just because it's effin awesome!

Courtesy of Topless Robot.

Reference: Treasure Planet

Events have conspired to delay the chapter-post a little, so instead I'll post this one from my archives. Its also quite relevant, as there's been some failed attempts at placing the reference to the Orcus Galactica mentioned in the previous chapter.

Treasure Planet is by far my favourite Disney movie, and it scores high on my list of animated movies as well. Instead of delving into a synopsis of the plot-line, I'll just say that, yes, it is an adaption of R. L. Stevenson's Treasure Island. It follows the original fairly closely, except for a few minor changes. The main difference being the setting. Instead of taking place in our world in the mid-18th century, TP is set in an alternative universe. Space-galleons with solar sails have replaced the sailing-vessels of the original, and Long John is cast as a right charming cyborg. In addition, there are aliens, uncharted planets, laser-cannons, and space-ports. Also, Jim Hawkins is portrayed as a somewhat moody surfer kid with authority-issues, but given the general coolness of the rest of the movie, I managed not to let that spoil my mood (he's still more sympathetic than Anakin in E. II & E. III).

One thing I'd like to mention, while we're on the topic. Lately I've read Flint and Silver and Pieces of Eight, both by John Drake. These are the first two books in Drake's prequel-trilogy to Stevenson's classic. The third book, Skull and Bones is next on my reading-list. If you liked the original, or if you just have a soft spot for pirates, I can recommend these whole-heartedly.

Now, since this is a reference-post, here are the pictures.

RLS Legacy leaving the Montressor space-port

Space-galleon under sail

View of Montressor

Montressor's docks

The RLS Legacy under sail

RLS Legacy escorted by schools of Orcus Galactica

[The rights of all images belong to the Walt Disney Corporation]

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Apocalypse When?

Trey over at the Sorcerer's Skull alerted me to the end of the world being scheduled for this last Saturday. As we've all now reached a safe distance to 21 May 2011, regardless of where we are in relation to the date-line, I think it is safe to say that yet again, Ragnarok has been delayed.

Now, being a grown man in this day and age makes me more than a little sceptical towards such things. As a child in the 80's, the threat of nuclear holocaust was very much a part of my childhood. I grew up in a part of Norway where Soviet noise-transmitters occasionally blocked the radio-waves, and the Iron Curtain was a vivid part of my imagination. Then there was the Y2K. We, the human race, survived even that bad boy. Fear not, there's always another end in sight, and the next widely publicised date is 21 December 2012.

Given all these near-misses, there's no wonder the end of world is so popular in fiction. Our own culture sure has done it's best to keep the nightmare alive. God alone knows how many apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic, role-playing games were published during the 80's and 90's; I've played a good handful of them, but those are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

A novel, and most daring approach to this topic was executed by White Wolf, with pretty much every line they published up until 2004 promising total destruction. They even put it in the name of one of their lines: Werewolf: the Apocalypse. Vampire: the Masquerade, though more surreptitiously named, rode the pale horse of the Göterdämmerung relentlessly all the way in to the sun... er... rise. The end of the world didn't come in time, and in the end, that killed the game. Now there's irony for you. Note that the nWoD lines tread very carefully around anything smelling remotely like doomsday prophecies.

Even my own setting has it's widely prophesied End of the World. Actually, there are a couple... I blame popular media.

I wont delve into a lengthy harangue about why we have the hots for the Rapture, but I'll just note that we do, and we've always done. The ancients lived in constant fear of it, the year 1000 was believed to be the end by those who knew about such things at the time (I picture it having been a little like Y2K, only without the internet), as was 1666 AD (for obvious reasons, I would say). Our history is full of missed apocalypses, and I dare predict there'll be a few more before the end.

So, while we wait for 2012 to roll around, next time you mock the prophet who fails to deliver fire from the heavens, I suggest you turn to Deuteronomy 18:22:
"When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing doth not follow, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

Till next time, unless the zombies get us first.

[Picture source: Treehugger]

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A New Hope: Gaming With an Eight Year Old

I've been away for a while, but that doesn't mean that I've been abstaining. No, sir (or madam, whatever the case might be). I managed to keep the once-weekly going. I've even GM-ed a little.

As far as the GM-ing goes, I ran a session with the GF and The Punk, her eight year old son. Now that was an interesting experience. As most boys between six and sixteen, he is a proper space-cadet. His attention span is that of your average hamster, but he makes up for it with imagination in spades. Big spades. More like industrial-grade earth movers, actually.

The game was Star Wars d20, and The Punk is a proper little fan-boy. He got the choice of Rebellion or Clone Wars, and chose the former. Going through character creation, he picked Trandoshan as his race. He also picked Soldier as his class, as he wanted to be able to climb walls, and to kill badguys. His main mellee weapon was a vibro-ax, and he also had a heavy blaster. In addition to this, he wanted vibrodaggers. Lots of them. Once he had made the choices, I did the crunching and point-distributions – at this point he was busy acting out how his hero, Ssneckeyes, was dispatching his enemies in droves (sound-effects included).

The GF made herself a Droid, and the plan was for her to help The Punk with rules and such, and me with keeping him more or less on track. This proved to be a brilliant strategy, as once in game, our biggest challenge was to keep him thinking inside, or at least close to, the box. He had no problem whatsoever getting involved in the plot, and he did some pretty good roleplaying in the set-up phase of the adventure. Combat was more of a challenge, though. 

In the main encounter, he first dropped his axe so that he could drive his claws through the skull of a security officer. He never touched his blaster (I guess Ssneckeyes is more of a close-quarters kind of guy), and used his daggers only as single-charge items (one was thrust through the skull of an enemy and left there). The challenge quickly proved to be how to encourage him to use the system to channel his imagination, as opposed to letting him discard the rules and godmode the entire battle. The result, somewhat influenced by really crappy dice-rolling all around, ended up as one of the most entertaining combat-sequences I've run in a long while. Again with plenty of sound-effects included.

Once all the enemies had been defeated, The Punk was pretty tired, and he politely asked if this was a Save Point. I guess it's no wonder some newer RPGs tend to mimic computer games...

I'll drop a few lines on my player-experiences a little later, but to provide a small spoiler, let me give you a few hints: Call of Cthulhu, Nunavut, and an Arctic marine-expedition.

Take care, and to quote the Californian, "I hope you get some gaming done this weekend."

[Picture source: LucasArts]

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Chapter: Into the Darkness

Disclaimer: Due to a lengthy bout of rampant procrastination, combined with the afore-mentioned blockage and vactaioning, the details of this chapter is more than a little vague in my memory. Therefore I ask that you pardon any mistakes and omissions, and if you happened to be there you should pipe in. Note that certain liberties have been taken due to who will be playing in the next chapter.

The following takes place between 20 Decanum and 28 Decanum, YE 1022.

Having successfully cleared out the catacombs of Zalburg, the cabal, now without the steady urgings of Master van Zaar, decided that it was time for them to take a stab at the heart (brain might actually be more accurate) of the Ordo Ultima Thule: the good ship Pius is taken into the Void, where Bansl, now a Disciple of the Abyss, steers her deep into the eternal darkness.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Blockage no longer a problem

I've been on vacation for a while now, and for some reason I left my computer at home. Why I did such a foolish thing is something I can't provide a good answer for, but there it is. I'll be back home in a week, and then I will no longer have an excuse for not posting. I have missed it, and I am both touched and grateful for the encouraging words some of you have taken the time to leave in my absence. To those of you who have become followers while I have been in the doldrums, I hope to make it worth your while.

So, where have I been hiding, you may ask? The answer is Canada. I have mentioned this before, but the reason for me having spent the last weeks on the left side of the Atlantic is that I intend to move here quite shortly. I have found myself a girl on these far shores, and since she happens to have a couple of wee'uns, I'll do as many of my countrymen have done before me; I will cross the ocean and try my luck in the Americas.

I hope to have a post or two for you over the next few days, but I make no promises. Now I have a baker's dozen of other blogs to stop by, and I can't wait to see what you've been up to lately.

See you guys in a bit.

[Artist: Christian Krohg]