Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Congratulations to the Indie Groundbreaker Awards winners for 2017!


The winners have been announced!

Best Art goes to Fellowship.
Best Setting goes to Warbirds.
Best Rules goes to Masks: A New Generation.
    With my game, A Single Moment, as a runner-up!
Most Innovative goes to The Beast .
    With my friend Josh Jordan's Short Film as a runner-up!
Game of the Year goes to Seven Wonders.

I'm very thankful and happy to know A Single Moment was recognized and to be frank, it is a honor to lose to Masks.  That game is incredible!  I was hoping to have a celebratory discount for A Single Moment however I cannot seem to log in to my DrivethruRPG account right now due to password issues and sadly the customer service contact is at Gen Con and has an autoreply message stating concerns will have to wait til some time later.

Thank you again!  This lone game designer from the Philippines truly appreciates the recognition and let's all make even more games!

dollhouse ep07 : Orpheus

07/2015
dollhouse

Episode Seven
"The Living"

Orpheus

Weeks pass with Sophie still in the hospital, under medical observation.  The Arms of Light publicly calls for "Justice" claiming the events at the studio have endangered their fans and crew.  Fiona has learned to tap into a new power which she calls, Contaminate, as it insidiously allows her to reach "inside" and "command the body parts" rather than the person. Shepherd learns to tap into Pandemonium and boosts the chances of Natalie to save her daughter.  He has also noticed how his wife seems to know more about the Arms of Light than expected.  He has been secretly visiting and attempting to uncover more information without letting her know that he's around her.  He is beginning to think the attack on Orpheus was intentional; a coordinated attack to take out the competition. He learns she has discovered there were at least twelves small ghostly companies that have been attempting to join the spook bandwagon.  Shepherd finally makes a breakthrough when he discovers information on a company called Nextworld. The company has actual knowledge and technology similar to Orpheus. And even his wife marks this company and a second one called Lazarus Redux as companies that have best profited since the loss of Orpheus.  He copies the info he can, emails it to himself using his wife's computer, then deletes any history of doing so. He even goes as far as visiting old recycling centers to find the newspaper needed which has the advertisement on Lazarus Redux.  He also finds a headline showing their photos on the cover as the "Manhattan Monsters" and that the Feds are asking everyone to share information of any sightings of them.

The doctors treating Sophie are confused, given some times she seems to be very responsive but other times she is very weak. They do not realize Fiona has been staying with her and boosting her whenever things get too hairy. She has not been leaving the hospital room. Natalie Kureya has been visiting the hospital as well whenever possible. She visits the lodge a few times every now and then to recharge.  She projects often, taking the time to travel the distance and visit her daughter without letting any of the most likely plainsclothed agents notice her presence, then try to make her way back before she drains herself completely of Vitality. She also finds time to spend with Marina, the other daughter, after realizing she needs to show more attention to them more than others. Natalie also tries telling Fiona about her dream about Chet hanging in a pod from the ceiling and how this may be related to Fiona's body being missing. Fiona, however, does not open up to her. She acts more dismissive of any attempts Natalie tries to connect.  Natalie does not realize she is beginning to learn to use Forebode.

Wendell Pruce notes that there are growing numbers of reports of deaths related to Pigment suggesting the contaminated pigment they heard about might have spread out further than the rave than expected. He has also been attempting to learn how to skim, realizing going under via a cradle just takes too long. He has also been trying to reconnect with Radio Free Death, who admits things are getting scary and is inclined to meet up again, given the "others are moving." Wendell is not sure who these "others" are but understands RFD fears they are aware RFD is alive. Wendell is given a location to meet RFD alone, so long as he does not inform the others. Wendell is annoyed at all the cloak and dagger needed but is willing to do it using the last remaining dose of pigment he has. He doesn't know if he should go using the cradle.  He does not know if being projected is safe or not anymore.   Enroute, a guy on the bus asks if he is Wendell and claims he has a phone call for him. Wendell takes the phone, wondering if it's some kind of hidden camera show, but learns it is RFD on the phone and confirms they're willing to meet. RFD assures Wendell the stranger asking for his name will be the last thing that man will think about.  At a public park, Wendell sees people and children there and wonders which one with a gadget would be the next one to talk to him as RFD. He sees instead a black guy who is tired and made of gauze. The spirit tells Wendell he is here to try to answer questions he may have, but Wendell just wants to know what they should do now. RFD admits he wasn't sure if there's anything to do since he came into this thinking it was just a means to get out of being on Death Row. RFD admits this isn't the first time something this big happened. He insists the last time something this big happened - his voice trails away and they both see Bishop standing among the running kids. Wendell, having not met him yet, notices RFD is worried and admits, "We should be worried depending if he is him - Bishop himself - or his Shadow."  Wendell realizes now that anyone without a body has a Shadow.  He wonders if Fiona has one as well and if they have been harboring her shadow all this time. As RFD goes to talk to Bishop, Wendell fingers the pigment does and wonders if he should use it.

Misha Rusanov, on the other hand, decides to check on Natalie, his girlfriend, and try to learn what she is going through and if she wants out of their relationship. He ends up calling her cellular phone and finds out she feels like she betrayed him and his friends and hates the fact she feels she made things complicated for them.  She's decided to stay with a friend for now. Deciding she needs space, Misha he asks if she needs anything else. She insists she will be fine and that she just needs to work on the possibility she was instrumental to the hundreds that died in Orpheus. Misha yearns to reach out and help her, but he can tell she is being evasive. He throws an invite for dinner anyway, but she still turns it down.  Misha then tries contacting Osorio to learn on how the case has progressed. He remembers the footage of the shooter transforming from the image of one of them into the shooter. Osorio admits he is troubled as most are focusing on the fear than the facts. Arms of Light are stressing the group to be the Manhattan Monsters and that the deaths caused by the spread of pigment and pigment tattoos are the Monsters showing they mean business. Osorio does not know whom to trust either and does not know how to make sense of the things the group can do given the powers they have. "How do I know you guys didn't change the footage to point fingers at someone else? There is talk that the rave deaths are to point fingers at other people." The assistant director has prepped a task force after viewing the records. Osorio can get into trouble for talking to them.  Arms of Light has been the most vocal proponent in pushing for the Manhattan Monsters to be found. Misha thanks him for choosing to help.  Misha also attempts to reach out to some of the spooks they helped before, but of the ones he approaches, the new spooks are too scared to be reached. Many of the attempts lead to people now talking about ghost sightings in the areas where he tries to reach out to them which also leads to them considering contacting the Arms of Light.

Fiona and Natalie discuss the weird dreams she has been having. Natalie shares the feeling of seeing the visions and both talk about how the symbolic imagery and dreams might be more than just dreams. They might be glimpses of possibilities. Fiona, on the other hand, talks about how she is worried that her use of her Skinriding to keep Natalie's body alive might be doing more harm than good since she's forcing the body to keep functioning. She would only stop when she had run out of Vitality. Natalie tries using her powers to Forebode on whether her daughter will survive if Fiona stops helping her. It is a hard question to ask but one that needed to be asked. Fiona notices a man a suit watching them. The man has a pin on his lapel showing T/S.

Bishop transforms, showing signs of his Stains having gotten worse. Sparks explode from a nearby cable as Radio Free Death escapes Bishop's attempt to swallow RFD with his black oily new morphic body! Wendell tries to act nonchalant as if he did not witness anything and remembers his lessons on how spooks and spectres would see a projector as one of the living if his Vitality is high enough.  Wendell hopes it is high enough as he walks away, ignoring people talking about having a bad day. One of the Orpheus seniors suddenly comes to view. Resting on a bench, the woman opens her hand and allows a bee to emerge and merge back into her skin. Wendell realizes Anne Harper must have found a way to burst into a swarm and escape death.  He warns her that they might best not be talking here, but when he looks around, there is no longer any sign of Uriah Bishop. Harper asks how many escaped and after learning very few did escape, she shares that Kate Dennison isn't doing too well. She broke her spine and has not recovered.  She also shares they lost Tom Hayes. They started a new office.  They talk about the new spectral enemies they've faced, and the tragedy of Greek Row.  Harper explained they survived by tailing the attackers and quietly let them do what they wanted until they found an opportunity to slip away and escape via a partly broken elevator. They headed to the roof of the building and something caused it to breach the roof deck and it fell free fall once more down. Kate had pushed everyone else out before plummeting down below.  They found Kate three days later still in the rubble and Kate admits she found the will to survive knowing in three days the others would come back for her.

The building Harper leads Wendell to turns out to be Lazarus Redux.  It was the last thing those hunting them would think that survivors would do. In front of the building, Annie argues with Hoyt, who is currently in the form of a car and refuses to revert back to human.  It was trauma from the attack, given he could not possess anything during the assault. Harper's swarm form triggered during the attack and she was able to pretend to be the dark cloud during the assault. They talk about something called the Grand Mother and how from what they learned, it is coming to destroy the world.

Misha visits the church one last time, despite the people now thinking ghosts have been making their presence felt. He sees the woman he tried to communicate with and tries to keep her calm as he approaches her. He gives his name to help calm her down. She starts talking to him, realizing he's not some spectre but a ghost like herself. He realizes she is a poltergeist and tries to approach her.  Misha notices two visitors arrive at the church, claiming to be from Arms of Light. Misha warns the girl that they need to go. The girl mutters she remembers Misha to be part of the terrorist group. Misha attempts to explain they were set up, and that they didn't have anything to do with the pigment. In her agitation, the pews begin to rattle once more.  The woman from Arms of Light starts to notice the movement as well. Misha insists they tried to save them all, but the ghost shrieks and another pew spins in mid air and crashes into the wall. The woman from Arms of Light draws out a device that she affixes to her face. Using Helter Skelter, Misha whips tries to whip the glasses off her face. During the time it takes for Misha to convince the woman that they should leave, the people from Arms of Light have handed more headsets to other people. Realizing there isn't much time left, Misha shoves the ghost through the wall to escape the cultists. The two start running despite the damage to their gauze. A man trains a device at them and it begins to charge with a dangerous sounding hum. The blast surges into Misha's immaterial form, somehow calibrated to still hit him! Misha is shoved back into his body and knocked unconscious.  The ghost girl screams, running alone, and her surrounding rips apart into a tornado of debris as she attempts to defend herself as any poltergeist would.

Shepherd visits Terrel and Squib and from outside sees no signs of it having been attacked. He considers trying to eavesdrop on employees when they head home - hoping to uncover any information of worth. From what he gathers, they were almost attacked but supposedly certain people were able to stop it. Supposedly a van with armed men were on their way but it got into an accident before getting to them. Shepherd then heads to the address listed for Lazarus Redux. He manifests and pretends to be a man interested in working for the company but learns there is only a local mailbox at the said address.  After using his knowledge of law against the person at the company, he succeeds in getting the address to Lazarus Redux.

Wendell tells Lazarus Redux he has to head back, knowing the others will worry about him. Annie tells him that they need to stay in touch. Orpheus fell apart because of all the secrets.  As Wendell leaves, he does not see Shepherd see him exit the building.  Shepherd follows him, then intercepts him before he hails down a cab. He asks Wendell to explain when he planned to admit he joined another company. Wendell finds the accusation incredulous and hates the fact Shepherd is spying on him. Wendell explains it is Orpheus and Shepherd is pretty shocked to realize the company is still active.  Survivors!   At a nearby television set on display, both are drawn to a news report. A man has a press conference. Terrel and Squibb announces they are dedicating their support to the FBI to locate the Manhattan Monsters. They even confirm that the Manhattan Monsters are behind the poisoned Pigment that killed hundreds at the Greek Row events. But as the man turns away, there's a brief moment the projectors notice his image superimposed and lagging.  "He's possessed," Shepherd realizes.  The people around them start talking about the reward money. Shepherd hurries back to Lazarus Redux and Wendell decides to stick with him.

Back at the hospital, Fiona stares at the man in the suit. Natalie sees the visions and sees her daughter survive.  Fiona grabs hold of Natalie and pulls her through the wall, explaining that the man in the suit can see them.  She explains to Natalie the man is from Terrel and Squibb and in the opposite room, with the door partly open, they can see a leather shoe on the floor. Not certain why there is one, Natalie tells Fiona not to worry about her daughter, for now, certain that she will be okay.  As they peer through the doorway, they see another shoe on the floor, then a man, who is beaten up pretty bad on the ground.  The man is also Terrel and Squibb! Something is definitely up.

The man in the suit back in the room grunts and the nurse turns to look at him. They notice the man is barefoot.

Fiona leaps through the wall to head back and stop the man, sensing he's not really what they thought he was. Natalie rushes through the wall, aiming to flank their target. Emerges at the other side, Natalie sees Fiona in full manifestation, crazed and wild eyes, but standing still. The man has one hand clamped over Natalie's daughter's face. His other hand holds a scalpel.  The nurse is bleeding out of a sliced open throat. The man tries to bargain, asking Fiona to surrender in exchange for the child. Fiona telepathically suggests Natalie to act now. Natalie channels Vitality into her own body and with her enhanced speed, she manifests fully and tries to grab the man from behind. But as she manifests, the man hears her weight against the tiles and swings the blade towards her! Natalie responds quickly, attempting to block the knife with her forearm as she had trained some time ago.

Shepherd pushes the door to Lazarus Redux open, demanding a chance to talk to Kate. Wendell catches up, admitting Shepherd insisted. They try to reach out to Kate, with Wendell admitting maybe their cover isn't that good. Shepherd explains Terrel and Squibb is working with the FBI, but he saw Lionel Squibb is possessed. No one else but projectors noticed it. Shepherd now suspects they were behind the attack. Annie admits they suspected Nextworld was. Kate possesses Annie for a moment to explain that if they investigate they have to be quick given both are skilled in dealing with projectors.

The people back at the house turn Misha over and see the injuries he has sustained. They try to wake him up and treat the injury.

Kate admits through Annie their focus is on the Grandmother, who they suspect is some kind of leader or position among the dead. Annie recovers, but worries over Kate who has seemingly stopped breathing and requires medical assistance once more. Shepherd uses Pandemonium to help shift the odds in their favor. Using the first aid he can think of, he tilts her head up and searching for any blockage to clear it. Wendell backs away, afraid to interfere. Anne hurries off and while Shepherd tries to do first aid, Anne returns with an old man in her arms. She tosses Chet Mason onto Kate, and vanishes upon contact.  Kate sits up, coughing and clears her throat. Mason has used Contaminate like how Fiona has done for Natalie's child. John is overseas tracking a trail they have of where the pigment has come from. Wendell wants to know why they are being singled out and painted as monsters. Kate suggests maybe they can find an ally, someone who will speak of them positively somehow. Wendell does not know of anyone with that much credibility. Kate wonders if they can get those they helped to break their confidentiality agreements to speak out on how Orpheus helped them.

Natalie twists the blade out of the man's hands and reverses the threat. Focused on keeping her daughter safe, Natalie tries to force the man to back away from her child. This gives Fiona the opening to try and posses the man but she suddenly is thrown out and tumbles to the ground. The man, it seems, has a Shield preventing possession. Natalie pulls the man away from her daughter, then slams him to the ground. as she diverts some of her energy into increasing her strength. The man, however, grins and reveals metallic teeth. He is able to fight against her strength! But Natalie grabs the organic pistol from Bishop out and trains it at him. "Don't force me to use this! I've seen a friend take out a Spectre in one shot!" The man lets go of the child. Fiona admits she's recovered and stands up, ready. Natalie feels the urge to fire. She feels the deep desire to waste the bastard for threatening her child, but she knows she needs to know why he is here. "Talk! The Grandma.. talk!"

"Grand fucking what?" the man gasps and Natalie realizes he honestly does not know what she is talking about. Fiona clamps her hands on the man and causes him to feel his heart seizing up in a heart attack. The man struggles to maintain his composure but the pain is getting too strong. He falters and promises to talk if they make the pain stop. Fiona eases down for now. The man admits he is Herbert Mol and he is here to take one of them back. He does not work for Terrel and Squibb and confesses he's a mercenary. He communicated only via email and blind drops. When they sense he is lying, Fiona causes him to start bleeding in the wrong places as she inflicts on him the worst STD she can think of.  Herbert Mol gives all the information he can but admits he doesn't know more than the meeting place and that the daughter was just the lure.

Fiona has Natalie ask the important question: Do they leave the daughter or do they take her with them. Natalie remembers her vision of her husband coming to care for her and decides to leave.  The two head back for the safe house.

Shepherd asks for the important numbers to be able to contact Lazarus in the future. He wishes he can share Vitality with Mason, but not being part of a crucible, there's no way to share.  Shepherd and Wendell then are shown their findings: rocks of different types. The rocks are all gauze, spirit material, and have been retrieved from places with earthquakes, or booming sounds that seemed to have no real world counterpart. The source remains uncertain. The rocks are chalky white - almost like porcelain or marble - but made of gauze. They have pieced together parts, a tedious process, but it does suggest that they're all parts of something larger.

The two step inside and see that the rock that is being cleaned is that of a giant statue of a baby's head. The gauze parts are taped together as the people working on it are trying to make sense of what it is. Or where it came from. Wendell wonders if it's some kind of trojan horse. Shepherd asks for the files they have on T&S, if it is anything that can help them infiltrate it.  Wendell wants to head back to update everyone else. They find Carter frantic for reasons that have yet to be explained. They realize Carter panicking over whatever happened to Misha.  And Ellie remains missing  The group is in dire straights. Carter thinks the injury Misha has is from ghost ammo. Wendell asks him about Ellie, but Carter claims she just left. He downplays the truth that he sent her away. Wendell admits as much as Alex things he's good at lies, he can't lie for shit.

"Damn it,  I think he knows!"

Both of them look at each other, realizing Alex Carter has now become part of the Crucible. His thoughts blare out, "He will know I traded her off!" and that "Fiona needed it." Wendell tries to pry more information from Carter but Carter tells him he has no right to be in his head. Maria begins yelling at them to stop.  She runs way in frustration and runs into another room to ask for help. To make Carter and Wendell stop.  At the door, listening to Maria asking for help, we see Fiona.

"Leave it to me," she mutters.















Monday, August 7, 2017

The Nisab Diary ep09 : 7th Sea

11/16/2016
The Nisab Diary


"Wedding Interrupted"
Episode Nine - 7th Sea

The group finds themselves crashing a wedding. And the wedding happens to be that of Maddie, an old childhood sweetheart of Jan Volta who still has feelings for him, to his other friend, Thomas Aorsi. Jan finds his mind racing back to the memories of his friendship with Thomas, Maddie, and a fourth friend, Christie. How they made promises between them to never be apart and to never forget each other. How years later, at the Lyceum, they make the promise again.  And even more years later, at the Academy, they still hoped to maintain their friendship. Jan smiles at Maddie. Maddie smiles at Thomas. Thomas smiles at Christie. "Jan Volta," a voice calls out to them. Reikion and Walden Reichart realize the people at the wedding recognize their companion.  The bride, Maddie, stands up and Jan stares at her, remembering those years they were falling for each other before he disappeared from the group. Thomas rushes to Jan and gives him a tight hug, overwhelmed with joy to see his old friend again. Both Reikion and Walden stay silent, leaving Jan to take the lead and explain why they have suddenly appeared out of the shadows. Thomas introduces them to old friends of theirs, Valderamas (another Zynys), Veronique Soldead (a Fate Witch), Finn McKeelan (duelist and charmer), and Lena Damaske (Eisen Pirate turned Privateer) who are also in attendance. Maddie exits the reception, clearly taking Jan's reappearance in a negative way. Jan's disappearance for twenty years is clearly remembered by all and Jan knows the reason it happened was his encounter with his Dievas. Walden approaches the closest fireplace to dry himself from the rain they had come from. Reikion finds a few fascinated women in attendance asking him to share more tales of the foreign lands they have never visited. Reikion connects to a Raven through Matushka's blessings and has it approach. Finn, Lena, and Veronique remind Thomas that Maddie has left the reception and nudge him to bring Jan with him to the back areas and look for her. Thomas was so excited he completely forgot to mention Maddie. Jan, however, suspects she walked out due to the "relationship" they once shared.   Among the guests, Reikion and Walden meet include a Montaigne named Merrit Borgen, who they soon learn once had Porte and practiced using it but now no longer has any ability to use it. He used to visit a doctor to find out why his gift had gone awry, but the late Doctor Nisab Guissola never figured it out. Walden confirms that Merrit was her patient for five years although he has confusing times of thinking she visited her to offer her his abilities.. which would be odd since he remembers losing them much earlier.  Walden sees a long stitch at the back of the man's head, from ear to nape. He wonders if Nisab had somehow taken something from him that allowed him to use his sorcery.

Reikion closes his eyes and mentally connects to the raven flying outside.  He guides it to fly off and check on his fellow Eventide clansmen. Frighteningly, he seems to find proof matching the Inquisitor's claims as he finds the camps empty of his fellow clansmen. He visits another safe house and finds it still occupied, but as he descends to check he realizes those present are not of his clan, but people who have squatted in the location.  Snapping out of it, Reikion opens his eyes and hears the people around him talking about the Ebon Doctor, a villain supposedly from another world with the ability to travel wherever he desires.  Walden joins the conversation, admitting that sounds like Porte. No one, however has seen the Ebon Doctor but supposedly he stalks the streets of Vortua at night, abducting people for his hellish experiments as corpses have been found missing body parts come morning. Walden confirms they currently are at Vortua, at the Sarmatian Commonwealth.

At the back area, Jan admits he had to handle a problem which leads to his disappearance. Thomas mistakes it to mean Jan had gotten someone pregnant. He even thinks Jan ran off and did not bother to raise the child. Jan decides its best to not dwell on the past and focus on finding Maddie. They find Christie smiling at them, asking if this is who she thinks it is. Jan greets her and Thomas admit how in the past he used to wonder why he barely spoke to Christie and spoke only to Maddie. Thomas wondered if he and Christie were hiding some secret. Christie teases she can see Jan is no longer alone. Jan realizes in horror that Christie was never Thean like they were. Christie is a dievas, and she has been Thomas' dievas ever since those earlier days. Jan is taken aback when his own dievas motions for Christie to step back, claiming Jan is already "taken." Christie admits, "Not all of us stay in the shadows."  Jan realizes Christie was always talking to Thomas and the two used to have these little dares as games, with Christie challenging Thomas to do small things like getting her a drink, or a kiss on her cheek, for answers to questions he may have.  She, like his own dievas, was a demon of Knowledge.

Walden and Reikion confirm that among the guests is the son of the King himself, Aleksy Gracjan Nowak who meets with them and reminds them they are all equals here despite his title. They talk about how many guests were shocked at seeing sorcery, being used to the old ways. Aleksy even assumes Jan had asked his dievas for assistance to arrive here. Walden and Reikion ask questions to him, realizing they have no idea how Jan does accomplish things that seem impossible. Aleksy explains the concept of the old gods, the dievas, who have shaped the lands of Sarmatia and are the muses of knowledge, the lords of cold and fire. Reikion realizes this is why Jan keeps talking to himself! Aleksy admits their line has never had dievas, and some stories claim theirs were stolen away. The tales do claim they can be destroyed, however, although there are no actual documents of the dievas ever being freed. He suggests there is an organization that maintains or keeps watch of those who have become Zynys, and that they would interfere when necessary. They are warned that not all forms of sorcery are accepted in this country. The belief in the old ways is still strong however, enough that the Vaticine Church and their Inquisitors do not have a strong grasp of power here.  Their discussion then shifts to talk about the Ebon Doctor and the man from Montaigne, Merrit Borgen. Walden wonders if the Ebon Doctor is some kind of vigilante. Walden and Reikion are offered clothes to wear to change from their wet clothes. Prominent on their change of clothes are the cloth belts they are asked to wear, a fashion highly influenced by the Crescent Empire.

The group meets Alexsy Nowak and his wife, Domenica Vespucci.  They learn of the troubles plaguing the Sarmatian Commonwealth and the significance of the sash they wear.  The concept that in this land, "Everyone is a noble," shocks Reikion and Walden more so at the thought that a piece of cloth can mean so much. At the distance, the bride seems to be crying over something. She turns and sees Jan Volta, who greets her as if they just met the previous night. As she tries to walk out, he grabs her arm and tries to start a conversation. She spits back that better men could have started with an apology. Apologies come, though they are twenty years too late. He asks if she is happy to be wed to Thomas. They shake hands and Jan's mind flashes back to when he held her hand that time in the past they were at the Lyceum and she was having second thoughts of staying in it.  He recalls as they hugged, that was the moment he liked her.  She questions him showing up now after twenty years and Jan, back focused on the present, tries to explain why he had to leave and he realizes she keeps talking about how she thought the three of them would live a life where they were together. Jan corrects her each time and reminds her she means four. She tries to walk out again but he follows her and explains he found... someone. Jan tries to correct it by saying, "Someone found me... No wait.. I mean I am not alone.. No... " he scratches his head, unsure how to say things. A voice asks if they are okay and Jan turns to see a woman dressed in black whose presence has so much dignity and discipline that Jan feels like he already wronged her despite meeting her for the first time. Maddie calls the woman her auntie and explains she is just talking with an old friend. The aunt smiles and Jan cannot ignore how he finds her to feel like a predator.  Maddie introduces her auntie, Elena Grigorii, to Jan Volta. Jan realizes the name is one of the names he saw on the wall. Elena, however, notices Jan recognized her name. She tells Maddie her husband is looking for her and ushers her away. "It is all right, darling, it is just a wedding." Jan tells Maddie she has a dievas. He reminds her whatever happened to them happened and that will never change. Maddie admits life is different now.

Back in the ballroom, the people continue to socialize and schmooze with the others. Valderamas notices the husband seems to be uncertain as he tries to explain to the guests that his wife will be back soon. She's just prettying herself a bit more. Walden and Reikion talk about their encounter back in the city and that confrontation with Julianna Onestra. Reikion worries about his brothers and their safety, given Julianna's claims of placing them in danger. Glass shatters. The two turn towards the sound, the people in the event begin to scream as two dark misshapen figures. Walden tries to study it  while Reikion rushes to the nearby people and tells them to hurry out. The two figures are covered in some kind of glow. There is laughter in the room, and to their surprise, Finnegan McKeelan leaps onto a table and yells at his companions, "My sword!"  They yell back instead for him to get it himself! A larger shape tramples forward, crashing through tables. Walden yells at the thing, attempting to lure it towards himself. He makes a show of drawing his blade to try to pressure the horrible thing to focus on him. The horror gasps out in its throaty maw, "Eeeeeehhhhbooooon" and then suddenly swings at Walden with a tentacle like form. The people scatter and begin running. Reikion hears someone call out a warning for him and he turns to see another monstrous thing leap at him! Reikion is knocked back and his sword skitters across the floor.  Walden yells out to warn them the thing is strong! Reikion rolls on the ground and manoeuvres to land where the blade it, grabbing it back as he growls at the horror.

Back inside, Maddie complains to Jan about how he and his friends have complicated things once more, especially on her wedding night. "You made me hope, you ruined my life, you left me alone, and after I spent years relearning to live again and start to think Thomas is the guy for me, you show up on my wedding night to ruin it barely after we just got proclaimed as a couple!" Jan shakes his head is frustration, drawing his pistols as they try to bust through the doorway to the unfolding battle.  But the door rattles and does not open. Maddie lifts her skirt and tries kicking it as well, but it still does not open. Both stare at each other, surprised.

At the other side, Walden dodges as the thing flings a table at him, and it smashes against the door which Maddie and Jan tried to step out of.  Reikion snarls at the monstrous forms and waits for an opening. Walden hears Reikion guide him to strike at the perfect moment to slam a chair at the thing. Reikion realizes these unnatural things are somehow amalgams of various things and before he can cry out another warning at Walden, the monster knocks Walden once more across the room, smashing into the wedding displays. Reikion leaps onto the monster, picking it up, and throwing it across the room into the smaller one. The smaller one bursts apart, like a broken fleshy toy.  The larger one starts to rise again, getting ready to recover.  "High or low?" a voice calls out to Reikion, and he responds with, "High!" As he jumps up to strike at the horror, Lena Damaske appears sliding below him to strike the beast with her own blade. Reikion twists into a somersault to recover and land beside her. The monstrosity, however, takes the strikes, picks them both up and slams them into each other.  They hit the ground, rolling away in pain.  Someone calls out, attracting its attention.  Veronique Soledad starts backing away, telling them that the thing can't look away from her so long as she has drawn its attention.  The others consider their options.

Maddie and Jan wonder if they should pull the door instead when it suddenly slams inwards, bouncing off the hinges, then smacking into Finnegan, who was about to reach for it as well. Walden kicked the door, hoping to open it up and accidentally hit Finnegan instead. They see a dark figure staring at Elena Grigorii and it darts away down a doorway as another window shatters open. A new monster lands where Elena stands. Valderamas motions towards the panicked guests and winds begin to blow, guiding them to the exits.  Finnegan shakes his head, recovering from the fluke accident. Walden sees the smaller monstrosities harassing the guards and feels divided on whom to focus on.  Realizing the guards might not be prepared for this, he screams out and charges at the smaller beasts to recklessly take them down!

Lena and Reikion consider striking between the scales of the horror.  They rush forward, training their blades to strike between the monster's scales at the same moment.  With Lena wrapping her legs around the waist of the horror, Reikion leaps up and slides his blade into the area where Lena pries the scale away from the body. A torrent of black blood gushes out as the creature howls in pain! But somehow, the wound begins to stitch back closed as they realize the horror regenerates! Reikion twists the blade, hoping to see a peek of what is inside.

Jan sees the horror try to attack Elena, he rushes to help. Elena dodges in time as the horror clips the ground she was standing at. Jan rushes through the doorway after the figure and sees the servants ducking out of the way. The dark figure continues to run, rushing through another door. Jan raises his pistol and fires at the figure's foot to disable him. Jan times the shot perfectly to avoid hitting any of the bystanders nearby.

A tentacle wraps around Lena, flinging her across the room. Reikion finds the opportunity to rip the thing's chest open, revealing two pumping hearts stitched together with strange fleshy threads. Realizing the wound is closing again, Reikion reaches in to grab the hearts and rip them out!

"Who are you and why are you here?" Jan yells at the figure, pinning him to the wall with his pistol after the shot he fired forced the man to stop running. The man claims he's a friend and Jan realizes the man's face is twisted wrong. He has a second pair of lips beneath the bearded face and the flaky skin. He grabs the face and rips it free, revealing an older tired looking fellow. The man raises his hands in surrender, claiming he is, "My name is Samo Sokolof.. I am a friend!"  A servant cries out as he recognizes the old man and points out a hanging flier on the wall showing a likeness of the old man drawn on the sign: Wanted. Inform the City Watch of any sightings.  "An associate of the Ebon Doctor," the servant gasps out, "That is him!" Jan forces the man to surrender, promising him a chance to talk later. Not wanting him to have a chance to escape, Jan gives his Dievas a signal and Sokolof is wrapped in ice to keep him in place.  Elena Grigorii steps into the kitchen, seeing the man frozen in ice.  She thanks Jan for capturing the old man as she always wondered when the Ebon Doctor and his associates will ever be captured. "Maybe this time we can know the truth about the Ebon Doctor." Jan tells them he has to go and save his other friends. Elena smirks she sees now why her niece Madelyn was madly in love with him.  "Or at least.. why she still is."

Outside, Walden drops to the ground, exhausted. The horrors are twitching in their death throes. Some of the guests emerge from their hiding places, cheering their victory. Reikion drops to the ground, tired as well.  His hands are blackened by the hearts he had torn out, but the thing somehow still was strong enough to act and ran for the window, shattering it as it ran to escape. Reikion grabs hold of the horror, not wanting it to escape. He holds on as it leaps across the street and hurries to try and escape. It leaps from rooftop to rooftop, tries to get further and further away, Reikion realizes it might be better to try to see where the thing hopes to escape to. He lets go, but watches as the horror leaps towards the nearest bridge area and tries to escape by moving beneath it. Reikion moves quickly, dealing a final blow at the thing before it can make its way into the canal.  The horror collapses, dead.  Reikion sees the blood flowing into the canal, marks the entryway, and transforms into a raven as he flies in to investigate. He finds the winding passageways and studies which direction in the catacombs might be the best direction to take.

Maddie is sitting on the ground. Valderamas tries to console her.  Lena and Veronique continue to gaze out the window for any sign of where Reikion had gone. Veronique admits she can try to find him but she isn't certain her sorcery would work. Walden admits this all feels like home in an odd way - with all the monsters and stuff. Among the guards, Thomas emerges. Maddie calls out to him, asking if he is okay. He admits he is but states the unthinkable: Aleksy has been abducted. Jan declares he believes this is the work of the Ebon Doctor and that he captured one of his associates in the kitchen. Maddie wonders what such a person would want to do with the Prince. Elena admits that if it were not for the heroes, there would be more casualties. Maddie ushers the guests home. Thomas sends his friends to scout around for any signs of the missing Prince. Elena asks Jan, and Walden to work with her to try to uncover any information about the Ebon Doctor, given his ability to create monsters using parts of the dead. "What sort of person brings things back from the dead?" Walden silently admits he has an idea.  Elena promises to do what she can to help them. Jan and Walden glance at each other - remembering seeing Elena Grigorii's name before among those working with the enemy.  They wonder if they can keep up apperances of pretending not to recognize her and use that to their advantage.

Elsewhere, Reikion cannot find a good trail down at the catacombs.  He flies back out and wonders if the group knows of anyone who might recognize a way down below. He sees the blood staining the ground but notices the body of the horror is gone. Probably sunk into the depths of the canal. At least that was what he thought at first until he realizes he sees tracks.  And the tracks suggest the thing had walked away.

It still survived despite not having its hearts.







Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Dark Journal - Part 3 launched today



The third book of The Dark Journal collection has been released today. With the focus this time on Predators, the pages chronicle a number of new threats for groups to add to their games, as well as hint at an ongoing conspiracy that will soon be further explored in an upcoming multi-part Adventure called, E Pluribus Unum.

The Dark Journal Part 2 explores the terrors known as the Breeders.
Grab The Dark Journal - Part 2 today at Drivethrurpg:
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/208996/The-Dark-Journal--Part-2

The Dark Journal - Part 1 is also available:
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/206933/The-Dark-Journal


And why not submit your own stuff to the Explorer's Society!
Guidelines are here: http://support.drivethrurpg.com/hc/en-us/articles/115000732483-John-Wick-Presents-Explorer-s-Society

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