Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ballad of the Pigeon God #41: The War in Ruuna

They were too late.  Fluchton, and probably the rest of the Duchy of Ruuna was either in flames or smoldering ruins.  It was time to try to stop this chaos from spreading... or at least get home in one piece.

21 HepDec 1071 - Town of Fluchton, Duchy of Ruuna, Ras-Prythax Empire
The group headed down from the mountains towards whatever remained of Fluchton. Once they reached a main road, they were stopped and questioned by a unit of dwarven infantry.
Baron Echelon - Baron of Eding, Cleric of the eastern god of the sea, pigeon aficionado, very poor independent diplomatic consul.
Mellandria - Mage and Baronial scribe.  Considering taking her cut of the treasure and finding new career opportunities
Talis Makolin - Knight of the Pigeon for the Barony of Eding, Bard, Ladies Man, Baronial Bodyguard
Velandro - Ardent Priest of Akana, proselytizer to kobolds.

Skyforge had seized control the duchy, banning all travel by non-dwarves. No one had heard of Norm Dingleberry.  Martial law had been declared.
With no hope of saving the human duchy, and fearing repercussions from Crosdes and Ras-Prythax, they turned around and headed south into Skyforge.

24 HepDec 1071 - On the Road to Skyforge, Duchy of Ruuna, Ras-Prythax Empire
The diplomatic mission continued to face resistance from every dwarven unit they encountered. Luckily, Echelon's credentials originated from Crosedes, less they suffer the same fate as the Duke of Ruuna (covered in diseased goat hair and forcibly stuffed into a small box, the opposite fate that he had imposed on the dwarves.)

Talis was dispatched back to Eding to inform Lady Iris, and thus King Nevin of the situation.  His voice finally changed back from that of a high-pitched kobold back to his chords of vocal silk, but it would be others who would try to negotiate with the Skyforge on behalf of the Emperor of Ras-Prythax, and a plead for peace with Crosedes.

26 HexDec 1071 - Kingdom of Crosedes
It took Talis a good month to travel through the mountains of Skyforge and the gnomish hills of Masgoth to get home, but he succeeded in returning to Crosedes.  He bought the first fast horse he could find, and instead of heading towards the capital to find Lady Iris, he rode back home to the Chateau.  He remembered that she had accepted the role of Baronial Magistrate from Baron Echelon, but she had yet to arrive when the diplomatic mission left for Ruuna. He rode hard, barely stopping, which was fortuitous based on the news that had transpired since he had been last been in Eding.

29 HexDec 1071 - Chateau d'Echelon, Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes
When Talis arrived home, he first saw the remains of what had been decorations still tacked to the outside of the main house, a strange mixture of blues and whites on top of black.  There was no one inside the main house, so he ventured out to the barns, where a very shocked Felix and Brutus were delighted to see him.  They yelled to Dag the kobold to fetch Carthon.

Carthon's gaze upon the bard was one of disbelief and desperation.  He rushed Talis back into the Chateau itself, and escorted him down into the wine cellar.  The news would require secrecy and a good deal to drink.

After Talis confirmed Echelon's status as alive and well, Carthon shook his head and gave a nervous laugh.

"King Nevin died soon after you five left.  His brother Cervinal has assumed the throne.  You might remember him as the Dread Lord?"

Talis uncorked a second bottle, took a swig, and sat on the ground.

"Cervinal demanded all the nobles pledge allegiance to him.  Apparently, every noble did so, except Echelon, who was nowhere to be found."

"As if things weren't strange enough, King Cervinal *spits* had Echelon and Mellandria declared dead, killed while participating in unlawful diplomacy against King Nevin's wishes. I figured, if he didn't kill us all outright for revenge against his plans, he would at least appoint a new Baron."

"Funny thing, some court officials, knights, and generals, and a cleric of Akana came down from Hydincall and presented some very official looking papers to Lady Iris.  It seemed that the royal paperwork you guys had notarized at the estate of Poipon had a line of succession, or at least the paperwork they had in hand did.  The ink looked barely dry and since Poipon's death all the official papers are drawn right in the King's castle. Anyway, guess who he named Baron?"

Talis shrugged incredulously, "I don't know you?  Baron Felix?  Dag? What, me???"

Carthon closed his eyes and let out a big sigh.


"WHHHAAAATTTT!!!!!!  The freakin' Dread Lord gave a Barony to a ten-year old boy???  He can't read, can't fight, and he spends more time smelling the farts of Dag's kids... FOR FUN!!!!"

"I know Talis, but I'm amazed it's not as bad as we thought.  Part of the announcement was the King appointing Lady Iris as regent to the Baron until he's fifteen.  "Baron Timoth" and Jenny were moved up to Athelstane's old manor house.  The baronial troops there got evicted and a unit of royal light cavalry made itself at home there, alternating between rumor mongering here and patrols out to the Ruuna border."

"The biggest surprise of all is that they've left us alone ever since.  Timmy and Jenny come by every prayer day for a big meal, with the king's men pacing outside the Chateau.  The rest of us can seem to moved about with harassment... or a tail.  But it's better than being evicted, or killed."

"You can't see Timmy, though.  He thinks you four died in Ruuna and if we let it slip to him that you're alive, the king's agents will find out for sure."

"Wait, Carthon.  What do you mean, by 'you four?'"

"Norm's here, he made it back from Skyforge last week.  Spending time with Babette and the twins in her bungalow.  He's.... changed."

"He stopped speaking with his outrageous accent for once?"

"No, that's not it.  His voice is still as annoying as ever.  The humans in Ruuna caught him... shaved off most of his beard and let him go before the dwarves arrived.  He was a mess when he made it back, but he got into a fight with Dew, and immediately left for the capital.  Mohammad heard the fight and saw him leave.  Dew just seems very distraught every time I brought up Norm's name."

"As if all this wasn't a twenty pound pile of crazy shoved into a five pound sack already, the Dread Lord didn't just let him live, he loves the sonuvabitch! Knighted him on the spot, and he's been awarded the rank of general and a freakin' army to command near Lansluck, just in case the dwarves get frisky!"

"He's General Dingleberry?"

"He prefers Sir Norm, or General Norm."

"Talis, go speak to Norm now.  I'll get some grub for you if I can find Dew. She hasn't been the same since Norm got back.  Those two lovebirds couldn't take their hands off of each other before he left. It was disgusting."

"We need more of that love right now."

DM Notes:  This is what happens when you take too long finishing an adventure with a time limit.  I know, the dwarves in X3: Curse of Xanathon only threatened war, they never would actually act on it. Well boo-hoo on that idea.  Skyforge needs a quick and successful war to keep the clans happy.  Ras-Prythax is weak and will not risk an full-fledged embarrassment of a war with the dwarves over a quite provincial territory. 

Yep, good King Nevin I has died, under unknown causes *Dum dum DUUUUUM*  His brother was next in line, and so far has acted more uneven than crazed or vengeful.  Somehow Cervinal learned that Echelon was the de facto guardian of Timmy before Carthon and Jenny adopted him.  

Norm becoming a Knight?  And a General?  Just chalk that up to his outrageous French accent and a solid presentation.... maybe a little je ne sais quois?

RIP:  His Majesty, King Nevin I of Crosedes.   Long Live the Dread Lord!!!!

14 HexDec 1071 - Village of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes *FLASHBACK*
Norm Dingleberry, dwarven warrior and Knight of the Pigeon had come a long way since his days as a failed mushroom farmer.  Great warrior, windship pilot, and slayer of mythical beasts were three titles he had earned in just the last year.

Competent negotiator was not one of them.

He arrived back at the Chateau a beaten dwarf.  After hitching his pony, My Lyl, he went into the kitchen and tried to surprise the love of his life, the plump and voluptuous Dew.  However, she caught him sneaking up on her, had one look at his half-shaven face, and shooed him away with a tear in her eye.   Shaken by the encounter, he ran up the stairs to his room for a change of clothes, some supplies, and decided to run out of the Chateau and head towards Hydincall before encountering anyone else.

Of course, upon leaving his room, Echelon's legless mentor blocked his way down the hallway, muttering a song.

"Rough Seas, High Winds,
                     When I step out I'm gonna do you in..."

"Mohamma-ahd," the dwarf declared.  

"Hello Norman, you are back!  And a mess?"

Norm stroked his hand across a mess of stumble and clumps of full dwarven beard.

"I tried to negotiate ze peace between ze dwarfs and humahns. I never got a chance.  Ze stinkin' humans shaved most of my beard and would have put me on ze rack if not for the dwarves attacking.  Ze dwarves would not even talk to Norm.  Zey sent me back in shame.  Even Dew won't look at her little man.  I am so ashamed."

"Norman, you are a good and loyal friend to everyone here at the Chateau.  You are held in the highest respect with everyone here.  I curse the humans that dishonored you, and the dwarves who did the same. It is not your fault.  Take their shame and convert it to pride you deserve to hold.  Do not let them determine your life, each time you stand upon a hill, act as the king of everything you see.  You are above such trifling things as beards and human ignorance.  Rule the day, each and every one of them."

Norm nodded at the crippled cleric, turned back into his room, and shoved one item into his pocket before dashing down the stairs and out the door unnoticed.

A straight razor.

Next #42 - The Trouble With Brothers?

Monday, January 15, 2018

(Painting) Rust Monster Away!

Even with the ice and cold returning, cancelling all of our plans, a family full of the sniffles reduced my time in the basement. I got lots of paint on lots of figures, but only one is sufficient enough to say finished. 

A lone Rust Monster, or should I say Oxidation Beast from Reaper Bones.
Oxidation Beast (77032)
This was the one of the last Reaper Bones that my local FLGS had from a restock from over a year ago.  No reason why they never reordered, but the space is taken up with the Pathfinder blind boxes and some of the Nolzur's D&D two-packs that don't seem to sell.  I did manage to find some Armory White Primer (!) and a weird shade of Vallejo green to round out my purchase, but I'm afraid there's nothing left for me to impulse buy at the store.  The FLGS is one of the topics on my Project 350, so I hope to get that done this week... as well as more minis. 

My current queue is a beautiful mess with OGRE minis in various shades, all my Gamecraft Miniatures buildings built and primed, plus a wild assortment of Pulp stuff. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

(Kickstarter) Triplanetary by Steve Jackson Games

Steve Jackson Games has launched a Kickstarter to release the classic space combat game Triplanetary.
For $45, backers can get a copy of the game with FREE SHIPPING to the US.

Sorry, no International options for the Kickstarter, although pre-order options will be set up through Warehouse 23.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Project 350 for the Winter

As much as I love gaming and blogging about gaming, my semi-secret hobby is watching everything unfold behind the scenes using the Blogger user options.

Outside of trying to figure out why two guys in Macedonia are obsessed with Kickstarters about halflings that I've mentioned over the years, most of my time is spent on the various posts I have "behind the scenes."

Counting up my posts, I've published over 2300 posts over the last eight years, but it's the hidden ones that drive me crazy:
My obsession
I have 81 posts scheduled to published anytime between tomorrow morning and my 20th wedding anniversary in October, 2026.  Some are the future Tuesday posts for Ballad of the Pigeon God. Most are gaming related holiday posts.  I nearly have a decade of Christmas, Easter, April Fools, and Jul posts and pictures ready to go.  If I need to add a heartfelt well-wishes to my readers, I can add them when I feel the muse, otherwise it's one less day I need to think of or find material.

The Draft category is a different story.  Sure, I've shoved some long-term projects in here, and have sorted them out by 500 years in the future.  Since they're Drafts they'll never actually post (even if most of them are awesome), but I can separate those from my wants lists, RPG actual plays I need to finish writing, and the 250+ blog posts from other people that I've stowed away.  

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and there have been so many cool AARs, painting guides, and ideas that I have what seems to be a never-ending list of them.  And despite my best intentions of spreading them out evenly, real life hates my hobby, so like a backlogged to-do list, I keep moving them further and further out into the future, which overlaps even more ideas.  

So, in a pledge to work things down little by little, I will selfishly announce Project 350.  By the end of February, I want to get my combined Drafts and Scheduled posts back down to below 350.  

Full disclosure, I have twelve scheduled posts (including this one at the time of the above screen shot) scheduled to post through the 28th of February.  I have 72 Drafts cluttering the next six weeks, and with Cold Wars coming up, my March posts will go untouched. 

Between the Reviews, the pending Pulp game, gnomes, OGREs, and mouslings, I should be able to whittle away at this backlog, but dedicated readers know some things I've now talked about for months.  

I have faith, because, I've done it before. 

I just pray that none of you have totally radical posts I want to emulate in my own little world over the next month and a half.

I am soooo doomed. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

(Kickstarter) John Carter of Mars RPG

I know I should have schoolgirl-like giddiness for the Flash Gordon for Savage Worlds Kickstarter, but I did not.  At least now I know why.

Deep down in my soul I knew the John Carter of Mars RPG by Modiphius was coming.

Sweet lord, the books looks beautiful, the artwork if simply fantastic, and it looks as if Modiphius will short no expense in producing this as a quality product.  

Of course, the $50-55 price tag for the core rules plus pdf might is my only odd hesitation, but the adding on to the pledge manager will offset my worries as the Core Book Plus All PDFs option for their Conan campaign was simply a ridiculous boon for those who pledged.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

(IOU) Count Von'Count

Count Von’Count

One day, Jerry Nelson the puppeteer, literally brought the Count to life as it were. Count awoke in a startle to find himself sentient, and hungry for stuffed animal plush. The Count is a math and physics major on campus. He does mostly night classes. He is not harmed by sunlight, but does not enjoy it. He looks and sounds just as he has for decades on TV. He does sleep in a small coffin, can turn himself into a bat (though it looks like a cheap flying Halloween decoration), and can hypnotize/mesmerize others with his stare.

(4) – 4, 4 D6 – The count is a math wiz. Ask him anything mathematical. He makes Rainman look almost normal. Physics, geometry, theoretical mathematics; he’s your guy.

(3) – Dance with me – The count enjoys dancing in his spare time. He enjoys going to late night dance clubs and has been known to “serve” people. His favorite dance is the two... two step, ah ah ah!

(2)– The Final Count Down – The count can unleash a devastating attack on a foe when he counts down from 5 to 0. At the end, he lets out a trade mark laugh which is followed by lightning and a clap of thunder. The lightning comes from nowhere, but strikes the targeted foe and deafens all nearby except the count.

(1) – Count with me – The count gazes at a targeted foe and has a chance to hypnotize or mesmerize them to do his will. They will obey him so long as it does not cause self-harm enough to knock them out or kill them.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ballad of the Pigeon God #40: The Caves of Xanathon

The special diplomatic mission to Ruuna from the Barony of Eding was getting no headway in resolving the political crisis.  The duke gone mad was bad enough, but decrees that insulted the neighboring dwarves in Skyforge was turning the crisis towards a military bent.

Baron Echelon: Baron of Eding, priest of the Tshang Kai Shing, lover of pigeons.
Talis Makolin: Knight of the Pigeon, Bard, Lover, and personal bodyguard to Baron Echelon of Eding.
Mellandria: Baronial scibe, mage
Velandro: Ardent priest of Akana.  Trainer of a faithful family of kobold acolytes.
Norm Dingleberry: Knight of the Pigeon, dwarven warrior with an outrageous French accent.  He had already left for Skyforge to attempt to calm the irate dwarves.

11 QuaDec 1071 - Town of Fluchton, Duchy of Ruuna, Ras-Prythax Empire
With all the stonewalling by the leaders of Ruuna, the party went underground.  Through a series of ales, bribes, and back alley brawls, they discovered a secret temple to the fire elemental cults of Galmar. In Crosedes, such a church was permitted, but in Ras-Prythax, it was considered an enemy of the state, and with the current chaos in the duchy, it may have been for good reason.

After a variety of tough battles with priests and cultists in the sewers under the town, there were still no connections to the duchy's woes.  Talis did something completely out of character and prayed to his god, Modee (God of Music and Bards). Hitting his head against the wall, he somehow activated a large secret door and a dozen or more cultists came charging out!

Talis tried to warn the others who were down the passageway, but discovered he had no voice!

Talis took on all twelve while making a fighting retreat back to the party. Once he noticed the oncoming cultists, Baron Echelon summoned an insect swarm and wiped out them out in one fell swoop.

Inside the secret passage there was a hallway leading to a room with a wizened old man, who charged at them with a mace.  Caught off guard, they retreated out the door and Velandro cast a fire trap on the secret door.  The old man came through the exploding trap, badly injured, but appeared to become immediately healed.  Echelon hit him with blades of flame, but the slashes and burns quickly disappeared..  

He stumbled towards Echleon, grabbing him by the shoulders and uttering "My soul is deep in the ground but high in the sky."

Talis wanted to end the old dude's spiritual self-analysis, so he stabbed him in back, yet he healed up again!  However, he let go of Echelon and our heroes retreated. 

Melandria later figured out the old man's ramblings weren't random, but more of a riddle.  One that is deep in the ground but high in the sky would be in a mountain.  And with a few more clues they found, they confirmed that the Galmar cult's secret base was deep within the mountains bordering Skyforge. 

Some mountaineering supplies, and a lot of rations later, and they were off to find the High Priest Xanathon.

Somewhere along the journey, Talis' voice finally came back, but now he sounded like a high-pitched kobold!  The others had never seen the bard so religious before, constantly muttering prayers to Modee night and day.

31 QuaDec 1071 - The Low Mountains of Ruuna, Ras-Prythax Empire
The goings into the mountains were incredibly slow, despite good weather.   At some point, they were so distracted by trudging up a steep incline, that they completely oblivious to a party of ogres who barreled in and held Echelon captive!  Talis led the group on a valiant charge, killed the ogres, and rescued him.

35 QuaDec 1071 - The Caves of Xanathon, Ras-Prythax Empire
As they closed in on the location of the Xanathon's secret temple, the heroes were forced to fight their way through a chimera AND a manticore at the same time... and everyone lived! 

On the 35th, they finally found the Caves of Xanathon.  The interior was a large series of caverns with side passages walled off with many, many doors.  Echelon was hit by powerful fear magic and refused to continue.   Talis stayed with him and Mellandria and Velandro scouted ahead, without alerting the powerful undead prowling the halls. 
The Caves of Xanathon

Once Echelon recovered, they flew through the legions of wraiths and ghouls, mixed with some earth elemental magic from Xanathon himself.  They defeated everything, at some expense, as most of them felt much weaker after the combat.  Still, a pile of gold, platinum, and a giant ruby that most feared was cursed was there for the taking, and the cult that was somehow influencing the Duke of Ruuna was shattered.  They only hoped that the evidence that they uncovered would save the Duke and prevent a war from occurring with the dwarves of Skyforge.

18 HepDec 1071 - Town of Fluchton, Duchy of Ruuna, Ras-Prythax Empire
Looking down upon the capital from the high hills, they were too late.  Most of the town was on fire, legions of dwarves marched across the countryside to conquer the far parts of the duchy. 

DM Notes: Since this campaign occurred during my old campaign maps, I needed to build out the new Duchy of Ruuna out of my Epic Aerth campaign. In the original campaign (and module) Rhoona is a Viking colony the was just north of Crosedes.  In the new world, it's become a small duchy of the Ras-Prythax Empire.  It's poorer duchy bordered by four potential hostiles:  Crosedes, obviously the Dwarves of Skyforge, the Agenmoor elves are separated by scant miles, and the Gran Duchy of Vesthamm that happens to be ruled by Crown Prince Ernest, the heir to the Ras-Prythax throne. 

Ruuna does have three separate baronies under its fold.  Vestal and Abalone have their Barons who swear fealty to the Duke, while the Duke is also the Baron of Ruuna, which encompasses Flochton and the southwestern quadrant of the territory.   The two unnamed towns near the lake are independent towns/villages loyal only the Duke.. and Emperor.  Name suggestions are always welcome. 

1 QuaDec 1071 - Chateau d'Echelon, Barony of Eding, Kingdom of Crosedes *Flashback*
Babette, former thief and street rat of Hydincall, was in great peril. She had lost count the number of times her hand was at risk of getting cut off if the town guard had caught her. The guards never gave her pause. The barbarian Rolf, staring her down as she botched her attempt to steal his coin pouch, gave her a lump in her throat and leaden feet. She had even managed to block out the knowledge that man was not meant to know while assaulting the Citadel of Kroxous on a completely different world. 

Compared to all that, raising two infant boys was absolutely terrifying.

Thanks to the help of housekeeper Dew Xyclone, who had become a wet nurse to help her, and Groeta, Dag the kobold's wife, she could breathe for a moment or two.  But today, no matter how hard she tried to be a good mother, she could feel nothing but darkness and failure.  She was being supported by the others in the Chateau, the father of her children lived on a different world (and had disappeared long before Babette had a chance to return home), the transformation into motherhood had hampered her skills enough that SHE noticed, if no one else did.  The official trip to Hydincall had made up her mind.  Giving the boys to Dew to care for and mooching off the wine cellar to drown her sorrows seemed like a fine plan.

Hey, it had worked for Talis (or so she had heard around the Chateau).

With little Darius and Yuri nestled into Dew's bosom, and the rest of the Chateau's inhabitants out working the fields or tending to the animals, Babette found a calm corner of the main building and began quietly sobbing.

Catching her breath, she could hear a muffled song behind one of the doors...

"I remembered throwing punches around
                               And preachin' from my chair"

*sniff sniff*  "Hello? "

"Who's there???  The all-powerful Mohammad is communing with his god, the terrifying Tshang Kai Shing!  Who dares disturb me?"

"I'm sorry Mister Mo, it's just me, Babette.  I forgot you live in the broom closet.  Sorry to bother you, I'll just le...."

"No-no-no-no-no-no-no Babette, wait!"  The closet door opened, two hands reached out into the hallway, pulling out the legless frame of Mohammad out on a small wheeled platform.  The little brown-skinned bald man's eyes took a moment to adjust as he continued, "I am sorry for my rudeness.  You never come upstairs, especially since the little ones were born, so I sensed something unusual.  How are you?"

"Tired, Mister Mo.  The boys never sleep and when they do I can't put them in their cribs.  Even in all the adventures I've been on I've never felt this type of pain and exhaustion."

"The beauty of life must be offset with pain.  It is the balance of nature.  Where are the boys now?"

"Dew has been a gift from the gods themselves.  She knows everything.  Groeta, the little kobold mom is helping too, although I don't let her help feed them like Dew does."

"Wait one moment, you let Dew nurse your babies?"

"Yea, Mister Mo, Sometimes, I'm... well, things don't work as well or they hurt.  And those boys act like their starving, Darius especially."

"Babette, my dear.  I am not a woman.  My great divine sphere of the mythos does not cover most things relating to fertility or motherhood.  But implore you, stop giving your children to Dew.  She has enough on her plate already, tending to the needs of the ungrateful mob that we are.  Perhaps a little help from Dag's wife would be okay, perhaps her boy and girl can help with blankets or playing with them while you nap.  Those boys are yours and their fate is your fate.  In fact, go use one of the 'bungalows' Felix helped build.  Peace and security.  Go see him right now.  I doubt they are all filled. "

"But Dew will be upset, she loves them as if they were her own."

"But they aren't, and that little bit of space will make her love them more when you bring them to meals, and when we're all together in the hall." 


Next #41 - The War in Ruuna