Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Unexpected Appreciation

My FIGHT! days during New Worlds Alliance conventions
Today was a day of unexpected appreciation.   I was reluctant to post this at first because I didn't want others to think I was humble-bragging or the like.  But my partner and love, Rocky, reminded me that I should learn to embrace and be grateful of such moments and mark them down so I don't forget them.  And he's right.  Often, we remember the bad things others say about us, or the painful actions or words others might lash out at us in the past.  And we too easily forget the good days and the wonderfully unexpected happy moments.

So this is me marking these two events that happened today down.

First, was a very touching message that I received on Facebook from someone who messaged me this:

Hi Tobie. You don't know me, but the work you do for the RPGcraft is valuable. Would just like to say I'm a fan of your work, and hope to see more of your work in the future. Sincerely, Paul Given the nature of privacy online, I will withhold from giving the full name of the person for now.  But I must admit receiving this message out of the blue was such a heart-warming moment for me.  I messaged back and tried to express how grateful I was only to learn that the appreciation was one larger than I expected.  Turns out there are people, some of whom I've never really met, who have been able to get a hold of either my work, or my blog posts, or have heard stories of me/my games and have been nice enough to see my efforts as something worth praising.  To be considered "one of the driving forces of gaming in Manila" is such an immense statement, I shall admit to feeling a bit shy that I am seen as such.  And that I was seen as a trailblazer in some ways, and while I do believe there are others (such as Jay Anyong and BJ Recio) who have trailblazed far more than I have, I feel tremendously happy and grateful for the appreciation and I truly wish there was a way to thank you all for the support.  

My second surprise for the day was when I responded to a post by MarkRein Hagen on Facebook on a call for creating a small circle of people who will work on an out-of-this-world project.  I threw out a message admitting I'd love to help out and to my surprise, there was a comment in response from someone who said:

Nat:  I'm sure Tobie Abad can come up with a good story or two for this universe. The tone of his stories would suit perfectly. smile emoticon

The response was admittedly a very pleasant shock for me.  I went all squee and even gratefully shared the post with my partner.  I guess all the attempts to share my ideas and works aren't for naught, and there is some visible hints of talent in the stuff I've been contributing to the gaming community.

To Paul, Nat, and by extension to Bo, and so many others who have made today such a memorable day for me, thank you very much.  You have helped fuel the fires of my inspiration today and I only hope to continue to be able to share more and hopefully even inspire others as I have been inspired to give back to the gaming community.

Thank you so much.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Company 3rd Song ep02.5 : Dungeon World : Roll20

The Company, 3rd Song

Episode Two.Five
"The Fighting Pits of Angerona"

The fighting pits of Angerona.   A world of battle, blood and betting.  Gaius is watching from the prison window as a match unfolds.  At the battleground, a long warrior stands.   The man has eager eyes, shorn hair, a tanned huge body that glistens with sweat and blood.  His name is Grunt, and in his hands a broken shard of bone is held like a weapon.  The crowds chants, excited to see more violence.  Grunt remembers the instructions given to him and he raises his arms to the crowd as he shouts at them. He tries to get them more excited. Three dead bodies lay scattered in the battlefield.

In the prison, Gaius and Saxa, another gladiator discuss the match.  Gaius easily picks up that Saxa and Grunt have something between them.  A horn bellows.  A new competitor arrives.

Grunt sees a warrior enter the battlefield.  Unlike the earlier goblins, this one is human.  Armed with a shield and a sword, the warrior clearly has an advantage over him. "Goblins.. bah. Let's see how you fare against a real warrior!"  Grunt yells back about how the tin man talks too much and charges into battle.  Grunt rushes forward, smashing himself at the warrior before he can brace himself.  Both crash into the ground with an incredible crash.  But while in the ground, the warrior swings the sword at Grunt, smacking the sword's pommel into his face. The warrior tries to stand up but Grunt easily pins him down. The smack barely hurts Grunt.

Gaius identifies the competitor as Flamma, a loudmouth among them in the gladiator pits. The crowd chants: FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! As Saxa worries over who will win, Gaius hears another voice from another nearby cell mutter, "Who will win, indeed?"  He realizes it came from Urbin, a gladiator who has been around longer than he has.  They discuss how Flamma is eager but young, unlike Grunt whose brute strength is undeniable.  Saxa however scowls, suspecting he had been poisoned because they had see him lying with her.  Defeating the young boy, Grunt takes his head into his arms, whispers an apology, then breaks his neck.  Grunt roars will all his might at the crowd to celebrate his victory.

There is no mistaking the cry of the end of a battle.
Just another day in Angerona.

Gaius is at the training hall, with the other slaves.  Saxa, Urbin and Grunt are nearby.  As are a host of other lesser notable slaves. Gaius is standing before the slave master, Oro.  Oro Dosi, the slave master, wears a makeshift armor - more decorative than functional - plated in gold.  A symbol of his status among slavers.  Grunt hears Saxa hissing about revenge and he tries to convince her to keep silent. Oro calls for everyone to pay attention.  Urbin taps Saxa and Grunt to stop hugging.  The golden slave master walks up to a nearby crate and stands on it. "The Grand City of Angerona shall have guests of high esteem to watch the fights in the nights to come.  And thus, I have been instructed by the Lady Cassandra herself to remind each and every one of you that you must fight your best... with your most exciting moves.. in the coming fights. The patrons want blood.  They want spectacle. They want to make the very GODS WEEP."

They all recall the Lady Cassandra, ruler of Angerona, the Lady Cassandra is beautiful and cold.  She is distant and rarely speaks.  But it is under her shadow that every fight in the fighting pits comes to pass.  The term "Kind Lady" is the honorific many use to refer to Cassandra Vitae.  A term born from how she would show a thumbs up to allow a slave to live.  Gaius remembers the many times she had asked him to accept freedom.  How he turned her offer down and chose to remain a gladiator.  Grunt recalls seeing the latest of such events. Gaius fought against three men, one armed with a net, two armed with spears.  The group applauds as Oro tells them the Lady is here to speak to them.   She walks in and apologizes to them given this week may be the last week for some of them.

Cassandra tells them, "We are to have guests. And I have been reminded to ensure they are properly   entertained.  And so, I am to choose two five warriors to take part in a grand battle.  The five shall all stand in the battlefield and the threats shall come upon them.  Things that the guest have brought with  them.   Of the five, only one shall be granted freedom.  Only one shall be expected to survive."  When Oro Dosi argues about the waste good gladiators, she silences him by reminding him he works for her.  Grunt tries to keep Saxa from volunteering.  Cassandra asks Gaius if he will finally accept the freedom she offers him.  He responds by accepting the role to fight for her in the pits. She has him pick the four others. "Urbis. Tetraites. Grunt."  But he hesitates on the fourth.   Hoping to push Saxa back, Grunt steps forward and grabs whoever was beside him to volunteer.  It turns out to be another Gladiator, Adera, whom was never kind to him. Grunt realizes Saxa is about to act. He remembers they were practicing with wooden swords. Even such can be deadly in a warrior's hands. Sadly, he is now standing separate from her - as he stands with the others chosen.  Saxa begins to speak up demanding something from the gathered.   But Grunt's warnings fall on deaf ears. S axa doesn't quite grasp the message.  As the Lady Cassandra moves to exit, and Oro Dosi calls for the rest to return to training, the four personal guard motion for the chosen to follow them.  Saxa, suddenly runs forward and swings the wooden sword at the closest personal guard!  Oro turns to see the wood splinter as it shatters on the guard's helmet, delivered with enough force to knock him to the ground. Giaus, Grunt and the rest, turn to see Saxa grab the sword of the guard and in a swift motion, strike at the second closest guard. The guard loses an arm, and screams as he hits the ground! Grunt grabs the closest training dummy, hoisting it off the ground. Gaius and Urbin and the others watch as the wooden thing hurls across the room and into Saxa!  The wood crashes Saxa to the ground.  Cassandra walks away, not once paying her any attention.

"Whore!  Bastards!  Sigurdians!" Saxa hisses insults at them.   Cassandra's guards close in, and while Oro Dosi tries to ask them to stop, he remembers at the end of the day he is merely the head among the slaves.  And an insult to the throne cannot be ignored.    When she confronts Dosi for Flamma's death, he admits poisoning him so he could have a kinder death than a living memory of killing a friend.    Gaius tries to talk the guards out of it, but they are not strayed from their role.  They kill Saxa with a knife through her back - unceremonial and without honor.


The five stand in the center of the battle field  The stadium, however, is not filled with people. Instead, there are only a few guests present.  The Lady Cassandra stands at the main box, with the best view of the battle field. And close beside her, is her guest. Vittor, a Representative of Sigurd.  Cassandra welcome them, " Warriors. You stand before us to show the finest that Angerona has to offer.  Vittor, representative of the Eastern Continent of Sigurd, we welcome to you Angerona with a display of battle and blood."  Grunt doesn't know much about Sigurd, other than it is one of the bigger kingdoms across the Easter Sea which the Sea Edge borders. Most know Sigurd to be a land of heresy, with practitioners of eldritch arts. There have been rumors of war between Sigurd and some of the smaller kingdoms. Gaius recalls that Sigurd has no faith in any of the old gods. They believe that an eldritch force exists within those born with the capacity to use it. Magic, they call it. Some even, in Throndur, have attempted to learn codify its learning, The Blue Arch and the Emerald Arch are but two examples.  Most of those faithful to the old gods, however, scoff at such people. The guards bring in two weapon racks, and place them in each corner of the battlefield. The lack of a crowd is unnerving. The lack of the blood thirsty screaming. Gaius tells the others: "Death comes for all. For some, today is the day.  I  promise to make it quick."

A horn blasts.  A servant comes forward and brings to the five a tray.  The tray contains five golden goblets.  They are all filled with wine.  Cassandra instructs the Gladiators to join them in a toast.    Vittor is asked to lead it:

To the Shadows that Rise,
To the Widows that weep,
To Smoke Filled Skies,
To the Watcher of the Deep.
To the 3rd Song Forgotten 
And the Undying King. 
To the Magic of Sigurd.
May the Azure Gate sing.

The toast is an odd one.
But seems to herald greater things to come.
All drink of the wine and feel it warm their bellies. Bring courage to their hearts.  Gaius however only pretends to spit the wine, and instead sprays it at Tetriates' face. The great gate opens.
And the first combatant arrives.  The massive weight of the thing shakes the ground as it emerges. With four legs, two arms, and horns, the thing looks like a merging of man and bull. Vittor proudly announces it: The Minotaurean! One of Sigurd's greatest creations.  Created through the combination of arcane magicks and the secrets of the living form. Each the strength of twenty men.

As Grunt charges forward, the thing sees his approach and uses its massive reach to its advantage.  Even before Grunt could get close enough, the thing attempts to charge into him! Grunt miscalculates the approach. The Minotaurean charges into him and its massive bulk crashes into Grunt, sending him to the ground. As he hits the ground, however, the thing does not stop. Its terrible bulk threatens to crush it as it tramples past him towards Urbin. Rolling to the far side, Grunt evades breaking bones.

The massive monster tramples forward, both at Urbin and Gaius. Gaius launches a flail. The weapon flies. But the Minotaurean seems to anticipate it. The flail swings, but the Minotaurean suddenly grabs it before it hits. To Gaius' surprise, the monster then yanks it upwards to pull him towards the Minotaurean. It uses its other hand to smack Gaius to the ground. Urbin sees an opening, thankfully, and rolls foward, swinging the sword at the Minotaurean's leg. The blade draws blood, but the wound seems shallow. Urbin feels the Minotaurean's powerful rear legs connect as it kicks him across the field. Adera rushes in to strike.

Gaius throws all tactics to the wind and swings the flail at it. The flail crashes down at the Minotaurean's back, striking it with a powerful blow. Urbin and Grunt watch as Gaius smashes the flail into the thing's back.  A lesser man would have died that moment. From behind the Minotaurean, Grunt stands up, jumps to grab its neck and tries to choke it. The thing begins to thrash, clearly not liking the "rider" on its back.  It charges forward, hoping to shake Grunt off.. in Gaius' direction! The Minotaurean tumbles forward, heading straight for the far wall. The thing stumbles, and Grunt uses this to try and choke it further. The thing struggles. Grunt holds on tight, having used the momentum to wrap his arm around the thing's neck. But as he charges, Grunt fears the warrior Tetriates's stab might not strike true and instead find his spear stabbing Grunt! Grunt drops to the ground, dodging the spear that Tetraites aims too high. Though it embeds into the monster's chest, it forces Grunt to let go. As Grunt hits the ground, the Minotaureans powerful feet once again nearly trample him. Grunt grabs a leg, hoping to still hurt the thing. Grunt twists, and the Minotaurean's leg bends in a bad way. The thing howls, thankfully moving away from him and no longer placing him in danger of being crushes. Gaius yells, "We've got to knock it off its feet!" He goes into a twisting dive. His weapon sweeps under, parallel to the ground, like a scythe aimed just above the knee. Gaius and Urbin charge forward, planning to strike low. The beast feels the steel strike from both sides. In retailation, however, it suddenly twists and uses its back legs to kick at Gaius. Gaius spins in time to catch the kick with the shield. It throws him backwards, but thankfully, unharmed.  Grunt sees the Minotaurean then turn, its horns trained to swat at Urbin. Adera closes in, but Grunt sees her STOP, perhaps because she thinks if Urbin is out of commission... Vittor at the stands applauds the battle.  Cassandra remains unmoving.  But then Grunt kicks the monster in its testicles, stunning it long enough for Adera to use her double swords to slice its head off.   The celebrations are short-lived however, as Vittor brings forth the next creation.  Half shark, half walking beast, he calls it the Siakar and it looks hungry.

Like a terrible amalgam of shark and beast, the thing comes into view.  The beast is terrifyingly huge, almost forty feet long with a maw large enough to swallow any of them whole. Its four legs end with talons, and its great body shows musculature suggesting massive strength.  Gaius calls for the team to take out its eyes, but Grunt realizes it has none. Vittor proudly explains to Cassandra how, "The Siakari is a wonderful creation, sensing the world through the very air. It hungers for blood and can "see" blood around it as waiting prey." As Gaius closes in, moving into range to strike...

The thing suddenly LEAPS forward at him, covering the gap faster than he anticipated! Grunt roars hoping to distract the beast, but the thing does not seem to pay any attention to him. It is like it did not hear him. As Gaius drops to the ground to slide underneath the thing, he braces the shield in between them to take the brunt of any impact.  To his horror, the shield does strike the thing and SPARKS fly from the contact, as the Siakari's skin happens to have some kind of sharp steel like surface that nearly tears away any flesh it touches. But thankfully, the shield takes the brunt, leaving the defensive object heavily scratches from the contact. Vittor proudly declares, "A grand creation of Sigurd that shows our mastery over the Green!"

The first punch makes Grunt realize his error. The impact tears away skin. His skin. Thankfully, the wound is superficial enough for Grunt to ignore, but striking wtihout a weapon is NOT going to work. The thing turns towards Grunt, snapping at him with its massive jaws!  Grunt feels the things
massive jaws slam shut around one hand!  The teeth tear into his skin for terrible terrible pain. And even his own splatter of blood... it strikes the.. air before reaching the body of the monstrosity. Grunt realizes there is some kind of barrier around the thing! Gaius tries to recall anything about this which Urbin may have mentioned. A moment of wisdom despite the pain. As Gaius yells at Urbin, that is when he discovers the terrible truth.Urbin is flat on the ground, unconscious. Asleep? Poisoned? Dead? In the hysterics of it all, Gaius cannot seem to recall any stories his friend may have shared that moment. All he could think of is... was he poisoned as well?

Tetraites coughs again and falls to the ground. The massive thing turns, now facing Adera. Or perhaps, smelling something she is close to. Adera mutters weakly.. "No. not like this..." Grunt wraps his powerful arms around one of the creature's legs. Gaius hears Grunt give out a terribly loud bellow as he hugs one leg and... SNAP! The thing feels the immense pain and in retailation, snaps to bite at whatever had hurt it! Gaius tries to distract it with another strike from his flair. The Siakari smashes its maw at Grunt before he could let go of its leg. Grunt feels the maw close in on his shoulder, and the massive teeth tear into his flesh and stab into his bones. Adera coughs, "Sigur...dia...n bastards..." and she begins to call out to Sona. Warm light erupts from Adera's falling body. It strikes Grunt and slightly heals him. "The least I could do," she gasps before dying.

The talons rake at the thing from the inside. It seems to cut something for the monster does opens its maw in agony....but then it moves to slam them shut over Grunt's head! Vittor once more proclaims, "BEHOLD, the power of SIGURDIAN MAGIC!" Gaius swings the flail at its head repeatedly, hoping to distract it. The Flail strikes the monster. The monster abruptly spins in response, throwing Grunt and Gaius away as it swats them with its massive form. The thing then takes that opportunity to feast. It chomps down on Urbin's upper torso and cleanly chomps it away in a single bite. Gaius charges forward... But as he attacks... Gaius's flail swings, striking at the thing's head once... twice... and with each strike, sparks fly. It attempts another bite, but Gaius dodges. And another, and Gaius once again moves out of the way.

Vittor hisses, "And so the martial superiority of Sigurd is demonstrated." Grunt feels it. The heaviness. The weight. He drops to one knee. The flail smashes into it, but the thing finds an opening and charges forward to chomp at Gaius and perhaps bite off his head in one go. Using the last of his reserve, Grunt rushes towards the thing and bashes his undamged shoulder to prevent it from chomping Gaius. Lady Cassandra screams out Gaius' name as it closes in. Gaius watches as Grunt's body is lifted up but the creature, its maw locked in place.

The Siakari spits out Grunt to the ground, now lifeless and unmoving. It closes in on Gaius. Lady Cassandra howls at Vittor, "TELL YOUR MASTER THAT YOUR ARMIES WILL NOT WIN THE WAR!" Vittor hisses back, " I BELIEVE WE HAVE SEEN THAT THEY WILL, KIND LADY. YOUR CITY IS OURS, KIND LADY. You have lost the bet you have made with my Master." Cassandra calls out to Gaius, however, asking him one last time if he will accept his Freedom?

Gaius runs forward and grabs Tetraites' spear. He flings it across the distance and it embeds into Vittor's shoulder. The Siakara closes in from behind Gaius. Lady Cassandra realizes there is no more time to choose. Lady Cassandra closes her eyes. Lady Cassandra intones.

"Zanathar, let your knowledge educate them."

The spear hits Vittor on the shoulder. He howls in pain, but alas it seems he will survive the blow.
The Siakari strikes!    But then all goes white.

* * *

Gaius opens his eyes to find he is somewhere else.  Somewhere far away.  And on the ground, the bodies of his friends.  The Flail in his hands glows with a strange light. Markings upon the metal, markings he cannot read. Far from Angerona. Somehow, Gaius and the bodies of his fellow companions had been.. transported away from Angerona And now, the flail he holds is marked by strange etchings that are glowing. The glow begins to fade.

Gaius begin to dig graves for his friends. Carefully, he brings each one to a grave he has prepared for them. But when he reaches for Grunt... the man coughs. Barely alive, the warrior shares one last message before death takes him: "War is Coming and Death is not happy. He doesn't like people in doing things his realm." He expires.

A man in armor comes into view, a horse behind him. He wears the sigil of one of the kingdoms. The man is named Kristoff and he calls out to Gaius who still holds Grunt's lifeless body. Kristoff stops upon seeing the dead bodies all around Gaius. And the flail. "My name is Kristoff. I am a SwornSword of the Kingdom.  I've been tasked to gather men.  The Kingdom of Sigurd has declared war."   Gaius asks, "Angerona. Which direction?"   When told the King is calling for me, Gaius tells him he bows to no King and demands once more directions to Angerona.   If the war is against Sigurd, however, he admits they have a common enemy.  He learns from Kristoff that the City of Angerona has been burned down three summers ago. And there has been no sign of the Kind Lady. Kristoff asks him about the bandit, however. "There was a bandit. Encountered him in the path. Was rambling about the statues come to life. Alive but dead, he said.  Worried me for a bit. Thought more of Sigurd's monstrosities had appeared.  When confronted, he admitted he had stolen a few statues from the ruins of Angerona some years back.  Was hoping to fetch them a good price in Sigurd, to sell them as souvenirs of its fall. You wouldn't happen to see any statues, did you?"

Gaius wonders what had happened and how. But he knows War has come, and if anything, it is a chance to get back at Sigurd for what happened. What kind of magic was unleashed in that final fight? What did the Lady Cassandra do? How did she save Gaius?

And most of all, what was Grunt's message from Death itself.

Kristoff muttered, " I guess, some things we will never know. But war is coming. And we will need you in the Company."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Company 3rd Song ep02 : Dungeon World : Roll20

The Company, 3rd Song

Episode Two
"The Package"

The Company continue their journey to Donir, and after a few days of safe travel, find the town within sight.  To their horror, the city shows signs of having been attacked.  Much of its walls and homes are in states of devastation.    People all over show various states of injury.  Smoke still bellows from many of the structures.  Bothered by the amount of suffering visible, Hollis and Liadan heads off to see whom he can help.  Gaius, Zig, and Brother Fabio focus on finding the contact person they were assigned to look for, Chaeron.  They find him in the sole standing fortified structure in the town, the same place where the Grand Library of the city would be found.  

Brother Fabio separates from the others to search for the tomes, hungry for any lost lore.  Zig and Gaius ask to speak with Chaeron and the guard on duty guides them to where he can be found. Chaeron's discussion with the two reveals an unexpected story: the town of Donir was actually allowed to fall during the battle.  The sole reason for such a sacrifice turns out to make Donir slip past the enemies' attentions while Chaeron awaited the delivery of what he only knew to be called The Package.  Neither Zig nor Gaius, however, recall being given any such package to deliver.  

As Hollis holds a small ceremony dedicated to Sona, the God of Healing, he is approached by many of the people who attend and thanked for his help.  Some speak excitedly of how their lives are to get better now that there is a Cleric in the town.  Others, however, are insightful enough to realize Hollis does not plan to stay long.  And simply thank him for at least bringing the people hope.

In the Library, however, Brother Fabio finds most of the tomes to be destroyed.  He walks around the destroyed library and laments the lost knowledge within.  Without warning, the temperature suddenly drops and through an open window, the Snow Witch arrives!  The two exchange blows, as they both question each other's presence in the chamber.

Chaeron and Gaius discuss the need to deliver the Package to the port city of Odonol, past the tunnels of Athgnor.  Gaius reveals the missive Liadan had been tasked to carry and upon opening it, they find it empty.  By heating it, however, the true message within is revealed.

The group realizes, Liadan herself is the Package.  The sounds of battle at the library soon reach the ears of the others, and they hurry to see what is going on.  Fabio forces the witch away, however, and as he stumbles back to meet with the others, another secret is revealed.  A statue he had walked past and leaned against suddenly moves as human tears drop from its eyes!

The group gathers to see the now living statue, a woman, who seems to be completely bewildered with what is happening all around her.  But the moment she turns to Gaius, however, she mutters, "You."  Somehow the statue-turned-woman recognizes him.  And somehow, he admits in time, he knows her too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fiasco: Bad Timing

Bad Timing


I wrote up this playkit inspired by the romantic comedy script I penned some years back, which was also called Bad Timing.  The idea of the original material was to come up with a convoluted romantic comedy story which had elements of science fiction.  The result was very different but definitely Fiasco-eque in feel.

The cast included:
John Michael, played by me.
Mistaken to be the family twin of Michael John, but in truth they the same person with one being the future self of the other.

Michael John, played by Jonas
He is one of Stella's current roommates and they are curious about the guy living next door to them.

Stella, played by Che
She has a relationship with Diego Pavlon, the hot south american idiot who is the horny next door neighbor.  She is dying to know who he is sleeping with, and they used to be roommates.

Diego Pavlon, played by Jose
Diego is the great friends/great rivals with Sofia over a watch they had to buy during Black Friday.

Sofia, played by Maanne
She had her first heart break at Greece, at one of the islands there.
She is currently in a relationship with Bert.

Bert, played by Paolo
He is Sofia's first ex-flame and is currently the best friend of John Michael/Michael John.
We used to hang out by an old fountain, but grew apart in time.

It all began in some island in Greece.

What started out as the story of a guy who wanted to have a second chance with a woman he fell in love with, transformed into a tale of tragedy and woe as the tampering with time began to unravel things and complicate the main time stream.  John Michael tries to convince his past self to stay at the five star hotel room he rented out in order to handle something in the past.  However, Michael John admits he can't.  This throws an initial wrench to John Michael's plans of trying to see Stella again.

Bert and Sofia found themselves dealing with the feelings of uncertainty when Bert discovers Sofia's gift to him, a special watch, might have been gained under false pretenses.  The accusation of Sofia lying about its history was raised by Diego, whose actions were an attempt to gain the watch for himself and his own plans.  

Stella unknowingly finds herself caught in the hilarity of it all when Michael John's future self, John Michael, ends up falling for her and wanting to somehow start a life with her.  But his proposal towards Stella goes awry when the ring turns out to be a fake one and Diego's act of sabotage turns out to be because he likes her too.  Stella's curiosity towards Diego's sexual adventures was misunderstood by Diego as a mutual interest in each other.  But learning he has some sex doll in her likeness freaks her out even more!   Soon, Diego reveals he too is aware of the ability to time travel and he almost traps Stella in the time stream.   She eventually breaks away when he let's her leave.

When Stella encounters Micheal John, she learns from him that he doesn't think he can handle what's going on and wants to stop being friends.  But that's when Stella reveals she actually did like him... but now isn't sure what to do.  She ends up at the old fountain, crying in frustration over what happened.  Bert emerges, seeing Stella there, and the two talk about everything that has happened.  He tries to talk to her about not giving up on her friends, but she only feels they're pressuring her to be okay with everything.

John Michael and Diego now confront each other in the time stream and Diego shows him he is fading away.  He disappears.  John Michael smiles, and realizes Stella's actions have caused them to cease to be.  The future that created them will now never happen.  "But one has to wonder, who build the time machine we used? Someone must have..."

And he's gone.

Sofia finally admits to Bert the truth, that she stole the watch she gave him.  She tries to explain why she did that and but Bert admits everything that happened started because she lied.  He admits they will need to work on things because he wants to make things right.  

Years pass, Bert and Sofia pay back the watch issue, and grow old together.  Sofia, however, is overwhelmed still by the guilt of what had happened, and at some point builds a time machine in the future to travel back in time to reserve the watch for the younger her.   But the act of seeing them young again is too much for her and she dies in the mall, the same old woman who died in the mall the day Sofia stole the watch.  The time machine, left in the alleyway, is found by both Michael John in the future, and Diego in the past.

In the end, Diego is reincarnated, as light pours from above.  He sees the anxious faces of people as they declare, "It's a boy."  Diego's memories quickly fade away.  

Stella stands by the old fountain, smoking a cigarette. She is friendless and alone.  Then she looks at the guy standing nearby and asks, "Hey stranger.  Got a light?"  The two smile.

Michael John, haunted by the break-up, realizes he does have feelings for her.  But he is overwhelmed with the need to make things right... and some how, he finds a time machine in an alleyway.

Bert is old now and sees the people visit with their grandkids.  They play with him.  And he smiles.

Sofia is old as well, taking care of the grand children, and she gives the young child a knowing look.  She recognizes Diego's rebirth but decides to keep it a secret.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Company 3rd Song ep01 : Dungeon World : Roll20

The Company, 3rd Song

Episode One
"The Mission"

In an attempt to get used to Roll20 more, I've started a campaign with Dungeon World as the game system.  As the third incarnation of my "Company" games, here the players are a company of men who are part of the war against the Nation of Sigurd.  

The cast is composed of:
Brother Fabio, a Lawful Cleric of Zanathar, the God of Knowledge, who was one of the youngest clerics of the order.  He was the childhood friend of Zig and desperately desires to unearth more secrets of the world's lost history.  Brother Fabio is played by Fabs.

Hollis is a Lawful Cleric of Sona, the God of Nature and Equality.  He sees the anguish and pain brought about by the war and hopes to find a way to resolve it sooner than later.  Hollis is played by Charles.

Gaius is the Neutral Fighter of the group, who was once a Gladiator Slave of the city of Angerona.  His signature weapon is Gardo, a bloody flail (Messy, Forceful, Spikes and Hooks).  He is played by JB.

Zig is the Neutral Thief with a mastery of using Serpent's Tear poison.  He grew up as a friend of Fabio and had stolen the tiny gem from Hollis' hat.  He is played by Jonas.

Liadan, Mage of the Blue Arch
The story begins with the four standing at the shores of the Sea Edge.  The war contingent of the Alliance had boarded the ships and were crossing the Inner Sea to take the battle to the shores of Sigurd.  The group, on the other hand, was tasked to escort a woman named Liadan to the City of Donir and ensure her safe arrival to the commanding officer, a man named Chaeron.  The group learns eventually that Liadan is a Mage of the Blue Arch, one of the Orders of Magic and that she does not know why the company has been tasked to watch over her.

Enroute, the group stumbles upon an ancient standing stone which brims with power.  While scouting ahead, Zig uncovers a Snow Witch laying in wait to ambush them!  The group fights against the shapeshifter, but the battle takes a deadly turn when the standing stone turns out to be the head of an animated golem that rises from the ground to attack the party.

It takes the group's combined efforts to force the golem down and though no one is grievously injured, the group is now absolutely certain that they're on their own.    The only sole happy moment is when Gaius finds an injured Flying Squirrel and take its under his care.   Zig, however, suspects the Squirrel might actually be the Witch in disguise.

GM Techniques Video

So Justin, a good friend of mine, opted to have a Hangout On Air about GMing Techniques and I had originally hoped to get there in time to join the fun.  But real life does have its responsibilities, so I sadly wasn't able to.

To my surprise, however, Justin seems to have made me part of the talk nonetheless.
It feels a bit.. overwhelming to know how much my approach to gaming has been appreciated by others.  And I only hope I can help others explore more options in gaming as well.

Thanks Justin!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

After the Rain ep26 : Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain

Episode Twenty Six
"The Next"

Houses of the Blooded

The story opens with a letter.  Spring has come.  The letter is from the Marquese, calling for the presence of Casselanter Steele to attend the Althua of the Marquese of Ledger, Maja Thayl.  The Althua is celebrating the Blooding of the Duchess of Tamal, Jessie Jalan.  While the Althua is a grandiose party, a simple gift is welcomed.  The letter ends with explicit instructions that it be disposed of by the Sagewrite, Ash Jalan.   Many parts of the castle stand in ruins due to the lack of staff.  In the distance, a volcano rumbles.  In the further distance, a group handles trouble as an ork rises from the ground to attack.  Almost invisible in the mist further off, a multi-leveled city with tall towers.

Rio Balan stares at her bloodsword,  Memories surge back on when she first received it from her mother, Nia Jalan.  The sword used to belong to Seran Thorne.  She was instructed never to give it back.   And even through two veilings, she had kept it.   The blade has become a part of Rio, who carries it without concern or fear.   She recalls one of her mentors, Maya Adrente, who helps teach her how to use the blade.  Maya explains the importance of the blade, more so back when she was still young.  In a show of how the Wolves master the blade, she tosses the blade up and catches it with the palm of her hand.  The blade never cuts Maya's skin.  "Some says the Blades themselves have learned to respect the Wolves in the last few years."  Rio asks how is it possible, and in response, Maya teaches her to discipline it.  The blade screams, shadows dancing on its surface.  But when Rio tries, blood is still drawn.  "In time, the wolf within you shall tame the blade," Maya reassures her.  Arrangements have been made to maneuver Rio to be under Cassalanter's service as her Master Swordswoman.  Rio, it seems, is intended to fulfill a grander scheme.

In another chamber, the Subtlewater, Gillian Burghe stares at the note from her liege, Casselanter who informs her she has nothing but Herbs to use for the Season.  The lack of a swamp is complicating things for them.  She considers creating Narcotics with the Herbs instead.  Before she could leave, whoever, she sees someone at the door.  The silhouetted figure ignores her call for its name.  Gillian notices, however, the cobweb-pattern on the cloak.  The figure leaves a vial on the ground for her, then pulls away.  By the time Gillian catches up, the woman is gone.  The vial seems to be a gift of Poison.  She calls out to the Whispers moving through the corridor, asking if they saw the person by her door.  Alas, none have.   She identifies the Poison to be Hemlock.  

In a large structure showing the different Olivanna, rock cracks and breaks.  The sigil of the Bear is brought down from the collection.  A man approves of the removal.  "We will need to balance what has been removed," Dalvinosh Steele affirms.

In the uninhabited wing with the art gallery, where canvasses hang from the walls with cobwebs all over, the messenger finds Ash Jalan inside telling the new arrival to avoid breaking the circle.  The messenger tells him Cassalanter wishes his presence, and he finds the interruption an annoyance.  "How will we make her great if we keep getting interrupted from our duties."  He tells the messenger to inform the Lady he will be with her shortly.   The spirit that he had trapped in the circle remains locked in place.   He dismisses the spectre, at least for now then breaks the circle.  As he moves to leave, he notices a single painting now uncovered.  The painting seems to have been vandalized with a bloody feather on it.  Not being interested in art, Ash walks off, but notices as he leaves the room the painting has been covered up again.

The visitor was found by the Murmurs and is presented before Cassalanter.  The Murmur admits he sensed the danger of the man's intent, so he took the liberty to disable him.  She asks if he fought back and inquires who fought first.  The Murmur admits he was trained to sense such things.  He drags into the chamber the Bloodsword of the "visitor" given it seems the Ruk no longer are able to lift the artifact weapons.   She decides to meet with this visitor with her other vassals.  She realizes the Sword suggests the visitor is a Wolf. Or worse, it might not be one.  "What sort of ven with a Bloodsword would be disarmed by a Ruk?"

Rio remembers the day she and Jessie found James Adrente's fallen body.  The anger and tears that marked Jessie's face erupt outwards as a scream.  Finding the closest thing to be a pile of white webbing, she charges at it and rips what she can away as she demands answers on who the Suaven is and why her brother was here.  Rio offers the Lady her Bloodsword.  Before Jessie can accept it, they both suddenly hear James let out a gasp for air.  He is alive!  Jessie tells Rio she needs her help to cast a Ritual, one intended to save James' life.    The act Jessie needed from Rio was for her to slice off one of Jessie's own arm.    Jessie tells Rio she needs her to watch over James and stay over him.  They even make arrangements with Maja Thayl to make sure Rio is always with James.  And to keep him safe.  And that they will not remember making this plan.  

Ash is given the letter sent to Cassalanter and finds it odd he be assigned to dispose of it.  Hearing from Gillian about the intruder that gave her the Poison, the group makes their way to meet with the "Visitor".  Ash unlocks a memory of a woman reminding him to burn the letter, triggered upon inhaling the scent upon the paper.  Ash recognizes the make of the vial of the poison as Gillian pulls it away from the others.  Ash recognizes it to be one of Jessie Jallan's.

The group arrives to discover the Visitor turns out to be a half naked man.  In nothing but his boots and pants, the man seems to have been disabled with his own clothes.  Clearly physically built and handsome, the man asks if Cassalanter liked the sword.  "I'd bow, but clearly I'm already on the floor."  Gillian exclaims he's not the intruder.  That she saw someone else.  "Uvanla Yvarai," the man introduces himself - and the group remembers the old word to mean 'The Right Moment of Opportunity to Kill'.   More interestingly, he claims to be the son of the late Count Kether.  When Cassalanter orders Rio to untie him from his own clothes, she instead uses her own Bloodsword to slice away the shirt.  Uvanla laments the loss of eight Seasons worth of work.  He claims the sword is Taltos and was offering it as a gift since his father was supposedly close friends with the owner of the blade.  He stresses that her mother, Galeo Silja, was supposedly insistent in keeping the sword away from her - so it seemed best that she take the blade back.  Cassalanter invites them inside and when he raises he's not dressed to be a proper guest, she gives him a hat to wear.  Uvanla has heard much of Rio's Prowess and her one-blade fabled night in an Opera house, of an Opera that is to never be done again.  And of a book never to be opened again.  He knows how while the rest of those present were screaming in fear, Rio stood ready to act.   Uvanla does not recognize Gillian and is surprised she is a Bear given the state of Shanri.  She admits she is Rio's sister and that they share a common father.  Ash directly asks what brings Uvanla here, given the Roadmen sensed his suspicious intent.  Uvanla admits he finds fascination among the Ruk.  He had to see how far the man would go to hurt him.   He commended the Ruk's skills.  They do tell Uvanla in the future perhaps he could simply send a messenger.

Cassalanter tries to communicate with her Vassals using The Invisible Tongue to ask if any of them can secure the place with the Rose Ritual, but sadly it seems none of them have learned it.  Rio stresses how unsecured the Castle is.  He hopes to be of service to her Castle, and in return he hopes to share the purpose of his visitor.  Cassalanter is not certain about Uvanla's sincerity given he claims to be landless yet wears high quality goods.  Gillian peers using Sorcery and finds Uvanla seems to reek of Sorcerer power.  He shares how Miralia Yvarai stripped him of his father's land and places her own name upon the lands.  He did this as an act of revenge of Zsanos Yvarai having taken from her her own name.  He was hoping for an airship to try and fulfill his father's final wishes and he gained information from a Spider that Cassalanter might be able to help.  He was also hoping to find Lukas Q'n to fulfill a promise he made to his father.  Supposedly Count Kether promised to Lukas to do all he can to reunite him with his love, Seran Thorne.   Count Kether, Uvanla claims, did not slip into Solace. He was murdered by the four brothers (Miralia's children) and Uvanla arrived too late to save him.  Cassalanter admits she does not know of any Ritual to create Airships, and that she never knew of her mother.  "There is talk that you still speak with her," Uvanla admits.  They send him away to try asking elsewhere.  He heads instead to Infinitum, the next door Province currently held by the Marquese Nerea Silja, the renamed sister of Galeo.

Ash Jalan gathers any of the blood from the spear of the Roadman, and pockets it.  He returns to his chambers and smells the parchment, remembering a long locked memory that if he ever smelled the same scent, he will know to burn the parchment to receive the message.  He burns it in a bronze bowl and from the dark smoke, a figure emerges.  He sees the Patron.   Ash bows hand on heart.  "If my message has reached you, then know I am near.  An Althua is coming.  Your presence will be required.  But know I will ensure your attendance."

When Cassalanter studies the sword, they feel... a presence upon it.   A mere touch awakens a flood of memories of a red-haired woman and of crumbling castles.  When Galeo asks her mother if this is her sword, she replies, "You have always been my weapon."  Galeo tells Cassalanter that she, being an Elk, is the best weapon to strike at the Senate to change it from within.   When she tells her mother the sword is Taltos, Galeo panics, however, and tells her to get rid of it.  And to never touch it.  "Don't let it know you are here.  It will hunt you down."  Cassalanter admits its too late for that.  Galeo's words fail her.  Galeo asks Ash to dispose of Taltos if possible.   Maybe melt it down if possible. Rio arrives and reports Uvanla has gone to her Aunt, and that the other intruder is still in the castle.   Gillian arrives to check if Cassalanter needs wine.  Cassalanter then tells them all to stop and makes sense of the intruder, who in their discussion might be a Spider.   Cassalanter has Rio increase the Personal Guard, "Good... logical guards."   She also finally realizes there's need for Staff.  "People who can be everywhere and are ready for everything."  Finally, she gives Rio, her Swordsman, a Spymaster's job to investigate the intruder who instead of killing Gillian, snuck into the castle to give her a poison to use.   They consider their options for a gift and Ash suggests they give her a story. Cassalanter opts to give Herbs in the Althua instead.    Given the need for Metal, Cassalanter has them inspect the Apex for what resources may be found there (thus raising the Mountain Rank to 2).

The Althua is not a cheerful event.  The castle has been decorated to look like winter.  The grass is covered with salt.  The windows had been frosted over.  They are handed coats to wear.  The castle is cool inside.    Instead of bright colors, there is nothing but grays, whites and blues.   The seneschal comes up to the group and he ends ups speaking frankly to Cassalanter.  Turns out he used to serve under Galeo Silja and remembers Cassalanter when she was still a child.  He was the youngest among them then.  The years have been hard on the Ruk, without a doubt. He gives his condolences for both Galeo and Hero, and admits they still both pray to them.  "Oh my mother was very strident, everyone can hear her," Cassalanter sighs.  He shares the host of the house has instructed them not to require any presents.  He was, however, instructed to escort the Court Scholar to the Waiting Chamber.  Ash heads off to obey the Marquess' instructions.  In the fake snow, there are strange intertwined bodies.  Rio separates from the group to follow Ash.    Gillian does not think they are from the Orks she is familiar with, but they are definitely not Ven.   From across the room, Maja Thayl, the Marquess of Ledger sees her and calls out to her.  She approaches them.  She still known everyone, and every party is still her party, and she knows how to hurt others, but she has fading memories.    She talks about how when Cassalanter was young, people were not even sure if she was male or female.  She motions to the ice sculpture and asks if Cass likes it, given Jessie and Galeo had their moments.  It was to be a fitting tribute of sorts.  Maja however seems to have another lapse as she talks about Jessie feeling guilty for Cass' mother being brought before the Senate for killing a Serpent.  She mistakes Cass to be the daughter of Seran Thorne.   Cass corrects her.  Maja realizes her error and continues to talk about how the sculpture was to make up for the one Jaric requested of Galeo from way back.  Gillian watches those who drink and live, and takes wine only from such bottles.

A hand darts in and pulls the glasses away as Gillian gathers wine.  The man has a disarming gaze, scruffy beard and foreign clothes.  She notices the man's clothing has ork patterns in its design and distracted more of that than the man himself.  He admits he came to offer to carry the glasses.  He apologizes and moves away, but she asks him to stay to ask about the stitching.   She mentions the different Ork tribes and asks if he knows of them.  He identifies her as one of the daughters of Duke Nia Jalan, and he admits he does not know of her personally.  He has heard she has wonderful daughters.  Zvali Rhu is his name and he is the son of a woman whose name is not permitted to be spoken aloud: Dranna Ru.  He asks Gillian is willing to carry a letter for him to Cassalanter.

 Rio and Ash find themselves secreted away from the rest.  To their surprise, they are brought to the Duchess Jessie Jalan who implores on them to partake a mission for her.  She asks them to search the castle for any signs of the Quill, a terrible Artifact from the old years once held by the Other Ven. There is a familiarity between Jessie towards Rio and Ash that seems there.

But even as Maja continues to ramble, Cassalanter has noticed something that has stolen her focus and attention.  It is Galeo.   She is showing off her fantastic gown, showing a chandelier above her head.  The shoulder blades show the wings of the opera house.  The chest area are the opera stage itself.  Maja asks if it is alright that she is present.  "Of course that's not really your mother, but I needed someone to represent her."  As it turns out, Maja had invited Cherno to portray Galeo in her memory.  Cassalanter approaches "Galeo" and is even corrected in how she curtsey's.  "That can so better be done."   When they talk about Galeo's daughter, she asks to hold Galeo's hand in genuine pain.  Galeo asks if Cassalanter has talents in art and hopes she does not give up on it.

Gillian's view is blocked by a massive hat, and she overhears the woman in front of her complain about being stolen the spotlight of the night.    The woman is Nerea Sijla, Galeo's sister.  Galeo however sees the woman and snarls at Cassalanter that the woman was the reason she lost her son.  She asks Cassalanter what title she holds and upon learning she is a Baroness, mentions she needs to find two others with title.  She seems to be cornered and anxious to find a Bloodsword.  Nerea is panicked, wondering how Galeo can be here if she is already in Solace.

Jessie explains the importance of the Quill to the others.  Rio feels however that like many things in ancient history, the Quill should best be left unused.  Jessie however admits she was warned that certain actors are seeking it out, so they must act to conceal it before the others find it.  Ash asks why Cassalanter would be key to this, and Jessie admits Cassalanter's mother used to own it.  They tried to communicate to Galeo herself but to no avail.   Ash notices Jessie has one arm that looks masculine rather than feminine.  Wonders what sorcery she used on herself.    Jessie recommends the Ritual of the Eye be learned to find the Quill.   Jessie warns them the castle is not secure either.  She sent her own Spymaster, a Spider, to sneak in and she succeeded.   A bell rings in the distance.  "Your mistress has probably now seen her mother," Jessie admits, "Like I said, we tried to glean information from her."  They exit the room.

Galeo and Nerea confront each other.  Cassalanter tries to dismiss the scene as merely amusing but the two clearly are not backing away from the confrontation.  Galeo yells about her son dying from Nerea's prank.  Nerea is shocked that she knows.  Cassalanter talks to the Galeo in her head and they discuss how the simulacrum looks pathetic.  She tells Galeo this is Maja's party after all.  Galeo declares a demand for Revenge for the death of her son and demands it through a Duel - or she will call for this in the next hearing.  Nerea counts that Galeo has neither title nor recognition.  "I can shoot down your claims for Revenge."  Cassalanter tries to remind them to let the cooler names prevail.  Suspecting Galeo is a tulpa, she suggests things might look better in the morning.   Both agree to her suggestion to wait til the next day.  Everyone around the vicinity agrees that it would be better in the morning so tonight can be devoted to celebration.  "Maybe in the morrow then, with proper dueling implements," Nerea.

Maja blows upon a small yellow rod tied to a chain around her neck.  Galeo vanishes and Cherno is now who stands in her place.  Dressed in yellow and looking dumbfounded, the man stumbles away.  Cassalanter is amused to see her mother's greatest rival - but Maja interrupts her to correct her that Cherno is actually Galeo's greatest admirer.  He admired her so much that he QUIT creating art when he heard of her slipping into Solace.  And now he relives her grandeur, each night becoming Galeo longer and longer.  Maja is amazed however that he has her art.  "It is almost like she lives through him."

Jessie Jalan and the others arrive now, and Maja greets them as they arrive.  Zhivali shares to Gillian how he was named after the fortune deck of cards.  He hands Gillian the completed letter and remarks how disgusting that the Marquese would insult Cassalanter's mother in such a manner and have that man dress as her.  "Among the Wu Tribes, they would have torn her head off and thrown it around." He admits she-who-cannot-be-named raised him among the Ork tribes.  Gillian is amused and shares she too was raised in a similar manner.  He invites her to go down below if she is ever free.  Maja calls out to him to do his service, and Gillian realizes he turns out to be Staff under Maja.  As Cassalanter and her troupe of vassals regather, she shares with them a summary of the events concerning her mother.

"There you are, Cassalanter..."  an old man on a floating orichalcum chair calls out as he approaches.  "I did not survive the destruction of two Shanri's to have a woman stand in my way.  Now come on, move over..." The group stares at the old and venerated Dalvinosh Steele.  The Earl of the House Elk.  He motions her to come closer, citing his fading vision from an old poison that sought to kill him, and as he touches her face, Cassalanter realizes the motions are an Invisible Tongue. He asks her secretly if the Quill is safe with her.  He offers her more wine.  She admits the wine's providence is "unknown" and that she would not know of anyone else who can get it.  He admits her answers, like her mother's, befuddle him.  He struggles and unclasps a chain from his arm, which has a single figurine left.  "My last Olivanna.  A Falcon.  If you ever feel the need to send me anything."

He senses the others nearby and asks to have Gillian Burghe come closer to him.  He cups her head, fixes her hair, and calls her lovely.  "I smell you are an Apothecarist.  Hemlock recently touches your hands... You.  I will remember you."

He hopes they choose to stay for the entire Althua.  It has been a while since he attended one that lasted five days long.  Maja calls out for everyone's attention as they are to begin the first activity!  And the winner gets to keep any artifact they find in the Puzzle House!

In the distance, Dalvinosh Steele rubs his fingers together, and stares at the single strand of hair he was able to pluck.  The old one smiles.

Danger 5 Fortune and Glory fan project

I will confess.  I truly love Danger 5's gonzo wackiness and while Season 2 has taken a whole new creative direction, my love for the first season of the show demanded I express it somehow.  So here are the creations born from that admiration.  May I present to you all new Heroes you can use in your Fortune and Glory games inspired by the main cast of Danger 5!

Thankfully the reception of these creations has been pretty positive.  All I need to do now is learn how to post them on Board Game Geek so others can actually print them out and play using them.  I doubt they're properly balanced, given this is just a fan moment 24 hours in the making, but I do like what my partner and I came up with to represent the group.

And yes, maybe if there is enough response, we might just do this guy too:

"But Tobie, Colonel Chestbridge isn't part of-"

Now where was I?  Yes, here you go!  Share them and hope you guys like them,

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