Dicember 2021 – reverse

After you’ve gone and expanded your game’s toxic repertoire, what next is there to do?

Why not offer a broader palette of ways to avoid, lessen, or undo some of the various terrible things that adventurers manage to inflict on themselves and others?

In the name of balance, then (hee), here are a dozen treatments and tonics:

01. Crystal Cordial: Clears the mind of fuzziness and confusion.
02. Sunbalm: Protects against infection from undead-inflicted wounds. 4 hrs.
03. Winerose Elixir: Bolsters resistance against poisons (allows second save or equiv.)
04. Saintkiss: Maximizes next applied (or cast) healing ability. Expensive!
05. Silverfog Drops: Clears artificially-induced blindness or misdirection.
06. Heaven’s Hero Elixir: Boosts a single attribute by 1 for 1d3 hrs. Multiple doses not recommended.
07. White Wind Balm: Heals recent burn-related injury.
08. Golden Earth: Repels insects and similar small creatures. 8 hrs.
09. Rainmist Oil: Repels (most) jellies and fungi. 4 hrs.
10. Moon Tarnish: Protects against lycanthropic infection. 2 hrs.
11. Crimson Vision Elixir: Nerve tonic, allows test against paralysis.
12. Lightning Juice: Energy boost, wakes you right up; undoes sleep and sleeplike effects.

Dicember 2021 – gold

They say that Sussuranukuth is prideful even of the most prideful beasts.

They say that Sussuranukuth treads so daintily that the grass does not dare to bend beneath his talons; that his wings glitter in the light like the sun itself.
They say that his breath is that of sweet myrrh and sleep-bringing fog, or else ravenous flames all the colour of the rainbow, of all the jewels known to mortals.

They say, also, that Sussuranukuth, The Gleaming Glory Scholar, will suffer no part of his treasures failing to match his own dazzling, golden hide.


What else might be found, then, amongst the coin and the ingots and the glittering sun-coloured jewels?

01. golden pomegranate, cunningly hinged to open into quarters; inside, its pips are amber nuggets strung on hair-fine gold wire
02. topaz pendant the size and shape of an acorn, mounted in a “cap” of granulated gold and suspended from a heavy gold loop
03. long-tailed blouse of byssus sea-silk, darkly golden and lighter than air
04. necklace of amber spheres interspersed with rose petals of pale gold
05. heavy gold signet ring, stirrup-shaped and engraved with the seal of the Second Queen’s Fang
06. glass amphora sealed with glittering wax, containing luxuriously luminescent celestial honey from the gardens of paradise
07. knife honed from golden coral, stained with a martyr’s blood
08. waxed-leather-wrapped brick of tissue thin sheets of pounded gold for gilding food and sweets
09. heavy ritual mantle of cloth-of-gold on tawny silk, trimmed with silken tassels
10. golden rosebud locket containing a tiny braid of honey-blonde hair
11. six waxed paper screws of golden lotus dust
12. paired delicate cups of deep yellow jade carved in the shape of peonies
13. roughly-smithed goblet of heavy, unornamented gold, battered with long and careless usage
14. golden ceremonial dagger, its grip inlaid with a scale-pattern of amber and milky-gold glass
15. slender gold circlet inset with a crescent moon of six pale citrines
16. half a dozen bottles of the finest dandelion wine
17. death mask of stiff gold sheet, depicting a sleeping face with wild hair and slightest hint of horns
18. five phials of glittering golden ink tied up with a yellow ribbon
19. heavy multi-layered robe of thick silk velvet dyed with saffron
20. pair of golden haircombs, sculpted with stars and the sun-in-glory

Dicember 2021 – huge

Something I poke at on occasion is oversized (“dire”, “grand”, etc) weapons.

Because yes, sometimes I just want to play Cloud for a while, and I’m not even sorry.

So how to go about it with most of the games I’ve been poking at lately? (Exalted, of course, has this answer baked in already, so it can doodle in the corner over there for a while.) What needs to be covered to fit a sword that’s more like a sharpened steel ironing board into a game?

The way I see it, you need:

– the ironing-board-sized sword (or whatever)
– how its going to be wielded
– what it’s going to do
– what other results/effects

Now, the last thing I want is anything complicated, and while I could just try to bolt on Exalted’s reasoning, it’s fairly intrinsic to Exalts-as-existing-in-universe so that could get a little weird just about anywhere else. (but hold that thought for another time. lol.) I want something fairly simple, so I can apply it to OSE or Black Hack or Wandering Jewel Moons or whatever; sort of like my scratch rules for adding mecha.

So, I think I’ll tinker around with the following.

– A “grand” weapon adds a die of the appropriate type to its damage. Big chopper based on a standard sword in OSE? 2d8. This does still have a low end, but even slabs of metal can just graze.

– You cannot deal subdual damage with a “grand” weapon. (come on, now.)

So how to introduce these? Maybe

– If your system has any kind of class or other abilities, make “Grand Weapon Wielder” an optional choice. Replace one of the Warrior abilities in TBH; make it a selectable Trait in Wandering Jewel Moons; add it to the list of OSE Fighter combat options from Carrion Crawler #1 or let it replace a feature from the Cavalier or Paladin. You get the idea.

But what if your Fighter is a basic Fighter type, with no extras? Or if you don’t want someone to pay for the ability mechanically in quite that way?

– Then I suppose you can say a Strength/Body/whatever minimum is needed; say 17-18 on the usual 3d6 possibility. Maybe 16-18 or even 15, you want PCs to be able to do this or why put it in there as an option?

Yes, it’s a lot of damage. Yes, that’s the entire point.

What these behemoths will do, though, even if their wielder knows what they’re doing, is get in the way the rest of the time. Even if you can and know how to carry the thing, that slab is big, awkward, and intractible.

Which means they eat up encumbrance like a mofo.

Play a game with equipment/encumbrance slots? A Grand weapon eats at least two. Probably three. Definitely twice a normal weapon of its type, for sure.

Track encumbrance by weight? The thing weighs a shitton. This will vary by actual weapon of course, but come on now, the Buster Sword is surely easily comparable to a pile of armour in weight at the very least.

And if you want to be devilish, say if Grand weapons are enchanted (if they are enchanted at all) they have a high chance of being sentient if not sapient. And willful. Lol.

Dicember 2021 – skull

You’ve found a skull!

It happens more often than one might think, in this line of work. Unlucky adventurers, remnants of raiding parties, the aftermath of some beastie’s dinner — skulls turn up in all sort of places.

This one’s … kind of different, though. Starting with the fact that there’s only a skull. No other body bits, no fleshy stains, no hints or clues. Just a skull, sitting neatly all on its lonesome on the floor, or on a shelf, or a stair, or … well, you get the idea.

But that’s not the only interesting bit!

Your new-found skull …

01. … has a sealed scroll, smeared with golden wax, clutched in its jaws
02. … is engraved all over with arcane notations, filled with cinnabar stain
03. … is animated and hostile! sharp fangs sprout as it snaps at you!
04. … is animated and lonely. please, just a chat for a little while, at least …?
05. … is completely covered with delicate mosaic-work in obsidian and rose quartz
06. … has been filled with pellets, stoppered and painted; a macabre rattle to be sure
07. … has been sectioned around the middle, hinged, latched and locked
08. … is overgrown with rust-green moss, and azure mushrooms grow from its orifices
09. … has every second tooth replace with one of silver or crystal or pearl
10. … has been converted into a lantern, candlelight glowing from its eyes and sinus
11. … is surrounded by a corona of pale violet flame that does not burn
12. … is missing the top of its vault, the cranium filled with an iridescent, red-violet ichor

Dicember 2021 – blade

Beneath a canopy that sparkles like the night sky — a cunning work of midnight-purple velvet, golden threads and silver beads — a large and fluffy white cat paces to and fro on hindpaws across the length of a raised wooden platform, adjusting racks of exotic textiles, setting out baskets of tiny wonders and tweaking the displays in the worn blackoak booth-front.

Suddenly the cat’s attention is squarely on you, golden eyes like inquisitive twin moons. Snowy white paws cradle a weapon that surely, surely no cat should wield so easily.

A purr.

“Perhaps this humble merchant may have something that catches your eye?”


The ghost cat’s armoury

01. Paired ivory-hilted daggers, etched with silvered prayers to the Saint Of Iris
02. Pyre Tyrant’s Needle, a rapier of frosted steel hilt and basket and blade of crimson flame
03. A sabre polished to mirror brightness, mounted in brass and blackened steel fittings
04. Regret, a longsword consecrated to be the bane of spirits, rosewood-hilted and perpetually damp with blessed tears
05. A belt-knife of bone split and polished from a wyvern’s sting, grip wrapped with tawny silks
06. A perfectly plain-looking shortsword, yet it is sheathed in shadepanther pelt and crystal droplets
07. The Moon Calls Me, a silver-trimmed crystal blade that cycles from dagger to shortsword to hunting sword to greatsword and back
08. An ancient broad-bladed sword of greenish bronze, sporting black gold hunting figures that glow faintly
09. Mistine, the white steel bastard sword trimmed in sapphire and white enamel which ballads claim was the oath-blade of Teitaia, Warqueen of fallen Oakhaunt
10. A slim rapier, basket-guard of twisted ivy and gilded, stained with the blood of a vampire prince
11. Aaite, a curved sickle-like blade of deep red horn, said to be carved from a fragment of an angel’s talon
12. Matched set of broadsword, hanger and three daggers, all smoky steel mounted in bronze and ivory and engraved with the same motto — “Endure” — flanked with tiny inset garnets

Dicember 2021 – ice

It’s a long cold trek, in the Brilliant Lands, from sunken sod hamlet to briar-walled village, from clusters of longhalls to lonely roundhouses; and the wind wails cold and icy through dark forest boughs, across frozen bogs, piling the snow and the spars of ice.

There’s strange and beguiling things to carry away from the Lands, mind, if one cared to dare the cold —

01. A slender bone phial of eternal snowflakes
02. The trimmed, smoke-like pelt of a ghost lion
03. Birch-staff, spiked and hooked, incised with spirals of dead-wardings
04. Blue-golden shard of frostflame, death to the frozen ones
05. Small pine box, polished with tallow, with a frozen dream inside
06. Blessed caribou sledge-blanket, meant to warm the life back into the lost
07. Pair of snowhounds, golden-eyed and white of fur, and their harnesses
08. A handful of winterdrake scales, blue and frosted and sharp as ice
09. Icerune etched into a pale birch pendant, glowing faintly blue
10. Swan-bone flute, to charm blizzards and snow-witches
11. Curved knife honed from a ghost lion’s great fang
12. Three wax-sealed polished horns filled with tingling ice-honey

Knightober 2021 – paladin

As it turned out, the fair young man in question — one Mairah by name, scion of a long line of glassweaver nobility — possessed a certain paleness of eye and angle to face that suggested ties to Cor-cael’s lord. This explained a good deal to Liamath, though he kept his observations to himself as he paced silently alongside the chattering Mairah.

Discretion, always discretion …

He was learning a good deal about the state of affairs in Ranah, to be sure, and the glances he kept receiving from pale-coated, patchwork-embroidered locals were — did the newly-gifted blade at his hip look so terribly mismatched with the rest of him, then? Did the shining thing not suit? Or was it something else ~?

“– So you see, Wolf Corvan, Lord Kaerna frankly dispatched you here ahead of expected, mm, disruptions. I’m not unskilled with a blade, but against …”

Liamath shook his head, dark mane swinging in its formal braid.

“There’s no reason for you to cross swords with dissenters and the lawless. It’s a different sort of fight, that one, all the more when it’s unavoidable.”

He cocked his head to fix Mairah with his hale eye, a thin smile creeping out for a moment. Oh, the lad looked puzzled; very well, then.

“I’m just as pleased that you recognize the difference between a duel, or a skirmish, and what we’re waiting for, young lord. But, rest assured that I have no intention to draw unnecessary blood. That’d be no better than the wretches I’m watching for.
“We protect those needing protecting, and cull when culling’s called for; nothing more, nothing less.”

-*-

Hundred-silver: A tradition still held by many older Ranai families of presenting a gift — a new knife or sword, philtre or pen-set, brooch or buckler — to one who has proven faithful, joined them in an oath, or become new kin. Whatever the object, it is at least partially surfaced in mosiac-work of tiny mirrored tesserae, as a reminder that the whole is made up of its parts.

Knightober 2021 – chivalry

Of course Liamath agreed to make the trek his liege requested; it would never have occured to him to refuse. Though off-balance from his earlier exploits, he’d sworn his oath and would not break it, certainly not for so petty a thing as being out on the road once more. Lord Kaerna did not command his loyalty — and for that, she possessed it until his dying breath.

What he hadn’t expected was what he — and the grumbling Swift — rode to the Mirror Of The Mirror for.

Or, for that matter, how Lord Kaerna planned to have them present themselves.

Oh, milord, you are a clever one. But I know very well that you have more than the favour of loaning out a fancy honour-guard in mind, else you would’ve chosen most any of the youngsters.

Well, I’ll do my best, and hope that a one-eyed swordhand doesn’t put off the fair young man.

Compared to their backlands travels, the road to Ranah was an easy one of waystops and pocket-villages and Swift earning treats from cheerful travellers; when Ranah’s bleached-silver walls loomed ahead before Liamath’s eyes he almost felt that it should’ve taken at least few days longer. And on that fine evening, Liamath drew Swift towards the side of the broad road to brush away the dust and settle their unaccustomed finery of shining dark furs and falls of tiny sparkling beads cascading from caparison and trailing coattails.

Swift stamped one hoof, tossing his head, as Liamath remounted, earning a chuckle and a scratch in his thick ruffed mane.

“Yes, we both look quite fancy, I’m sure. Let us present ourselves and our pledges to the gatekeepers, eh?”

-*-

Heart’s-pledge: One of several oaths and similar promises common to the northern reaches of the Edge, similar to the wolflord’s oath, the blood-binding oath and the guardian’s sword oath (and the Alabaster Blades have a similar tradition). Frequently represented by a special series of glyphs, with or without an inscribed copy of the oath itself; the specific form of the physical pledge varies, from illuminated documents to inscribed crystal prisms, precious-metal pendants or stone tablets. Many carry the physical representation of their pledge as a ward or charm.

Knightober 2021 – leaves

“You’ve had an eventful ride, Liamath. I regret needing to cut it short.”

Liamath couldn’t tell whether Lord Kaerna was joking or not. His liege was hard to read at times, with a cool professionalism forged in the fires of political war, and he admired her steel even as it made him occasionally second-guess himself —

“But do breathe, wolflord, you’re looking a little peaked. It won’t suit to have one of my finest wilting like a snipped flower.”

— like right this moment. He winced, and she chuckled, icy eyes sparkling. The sound echoed through the hall’s cedar ceiling beams, muffling into the tapestries that lined the walls. Liamath covered his moment of discomfit with a carefully contemplative sip from the pearly cup, blossom-like, he cradled. It wasn’t like him to act so much the callow squire, truly, but his nerves felt a touch raw after the gift, and the lost stranger, and the chase afterward, and …

I never thought I’d see the time I preferred to sit in Cor-cael and sip from fancy service. But …

But the warmth of the hearthfires, the smoky cedar beams, the brilliant tapestries and the glittering pillars, the soft dark pelts strewn across benches and chairs …

Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe …

“Liamath.”

Lord Kaerna set down her own cup. Her circlet gleamed in the lantern-light, thorns in grizzled silver.

“Will you ride to Ranah?”

-*-

Fernsilk: A creeping, delicate fern, tiny in the wilds of the forest but growing to luxuriance indoors, whose trailing curlicues of feathery leaves lend a cool, minty, earthy savour to Kauvri teas, meads, and raw dishes.

Knightober 2021 – key


A summons back to Cor-cael was not something Liamath expected, but — he’d learned long before — fate did not give a clipped wedge for his expectations.  If Lord Kaerna wished his presence, then her will would be done.

If it’s hostilities or calamity, I’m sure there would have been some hint in the code; but, nothing.  So, vital enough to call me back, not vital enough to inform me.

Or, it’s secrecy that’s needed.  No way of knowing who or what might be about when I received the summons …

As with the firebird, and the children.

His musings kept Liamath gnawing at possibilities — and his growing relief at returning to his liege’s lands — for nearly the entire return trip.  Distractions came when hunting with Swift or, once, offering aid to a stranded forest-gleaner desperate to reach his village and too thorn-riddled to make it back without that help; but no firebird appeared to chide him along, so Liamath deemed the detour more than worthwhile.  They’d make it up.

By the time he trotted through the cobbled lanes of Larell towards Cor-cael’s walls, Swift was growling and snappish and Liamath didn’t blame the gelding one bit.  The last few days turned into hard riding …

“Don’t you worry, my big lad, a warm stable and proper grooming and good feed are waiting for you on the other side of the gate — just tilt me there, now.”

Swift never paused, only sidling at the last moment for Liamath to hold his hand out to the veins of crystal threading through the massive nightcedar gates that loomed above them.  Beneath his palm, pale light flared, ghostly runes flickered, an echo of the light seeping through his glove; and the great Horizon Gate of Cor-Cael yawned open.

-*-

Portal Emblem:  Another example of Kauvri crystalwork, usually a finger-ring, pendant, or cloak-brooch, carved from a crystal spall mounted in metal or especially dense wood.  The emblem responds to the presence of of the core-crystal it was spalled from and is tuned to the life-pattern of its bearer, who can use the emblem to instruct the core to unlock or unbolt access to anything from jewelry boxes to buildings.