Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Company 3rd Song ep03 : Dungeon World : Roll20

The Company, 3rd Song

Episode Three
"The Silent"

The Company feels bothered by the fact that Donir seemingly has been sacrificed in order for the Package to have a relatively safe place to be received.   The group feels torn by this but realizes they might as well do their part in the ongoing war against Sigurd.    They have to deliver it past the Dwarven city of Athgnor to the port city of Onodol.

The statue had come to life.   Gaius stares at the impossible woman in front of her, the Lady Cassandra herself - who once ruled over Angerona.  The group gathers at one of the chambers of the grand library.  Food is being cooked.  Lady Cassandra sits by the window, still distraught over what has happened.  She is still trying to make sense of what has happened.  Hollis is exhausted from all the healing he has been doing to the townsfolk.  He hates how, come morning, he will have to leave the town.  Zig heads off to search for possible supplies that the town might have which they can use.

It soon becomes a suspicion by others that Lady Cassandra is a believer of the Old Gods, more so because of a small stone pendant around her neck.  Gaius wonders how she survived... how they survived.. and she wonders if their being encased in stone was a miracle given to them by the Old Gods that fighting night at Angerona. Gaius' tiny flying squirrel, Aeromys, doesn't seem to like her though.  Fabio talks to Cassandra. learns she intoned to old gods. Does not know what happened.  They do learn that Cassandra has been trapped in stone for five years.  Gaius had been trapped in stone for two.    Gaius catches Aeromys from biting her again. He tries asking about the old gods but Cassandra refuses to say more.

Zig searches for supplies and finds a shop owned by an old man.  He tells the old man blacksmith his name is Kit. There, he learns of Athgnor and dwarven hamlet outside. Supposedly, the hamlet is there to protect the entrance from something that rose from the depths of the earth.

Hollis gives a sermon to the people in an attempt to raise their spirits. Using his Ritual dagger, he cuts his own hand and allows the blood to fall to ground. The people of the ruined town think they are here to help and stay. He does not have the heart to admit to them they are leaving come dawn.

Fabio convinces Chaeron to let Cassandra go with them, given she's royalty.   Hollis asks Chaeron for nearest town to tell the people to go there. Learns of western town: Yenda, which is closest to Donir. He offers that information to the townsfolk and highly recommends they consider going there instead.

They leave, and after four days of safe travel. they soon soon see a cliffside with the same strange markings they had seen on the golem guardian.  Another mark of the Old gods. Even Cassandra recognizes them.

Hollis and Fabio camp with Cassandra and Liadan and Chareon.  Zig and Gaius to scout ahead to see Dwarven hamlet is safe.

They head to the location and find a ruined dwarven hamlet. Dead bodies are scattered all around the ground, frozen stiff. Even the wounded bodies lie frozen and dead. The two wonder if something must have broken out of the tunnels. They suspect that the dwarves fought it, and their wounded were brought home.  But perhaps the thing followed them back to the hamlet and finished them off. But it seems remaining Dwarves were able to force it back inside before the end.

Zig decides to further scout the area.  Gaius looks around as well and while lost in the snow, he sees a Smiling Child in mask staring back at him.  The child carried a torch in one hand and quickly kills the fire by plunging it into the snow.  Gaius traps him in his flail. Before the child can escape, an Old Elf emerges from the woods and speaks with them.    Zig sees the Old Elf and worries how powerful they really are.  The Elf addresses Gaius, recognizing his flail as a weapon that has been Chosen by the Black.  Zig and Gaius recall how the Black was the Old Gods of the Earth.  There is some discussion on what happened to the dwarves and how they remain rivals with the Elves of the Old World.  An offer is given to take the Secret Path through the mountain.

In exchange, they are to give sacrifices to the four Old Ones.  Zig heads back to the camp to tell the others about the encounter.  Lady Cassandra warns him, however, that the old elves would never agree to support any of the Clerics.  The Clerics, after all, stole the focus and faith in the Old Ones and shifted it towards the Orders. Cassandra returns with Zig and talks to the Old Elves. They try to find some kind of compromise possible.

The young elf, who turns out to be named Alv, asks to join Gaius after being trapped by his flail twice. They have the Ritual of Acceptance done and somehow, it allows Gaius to completely understand elven language.  "Travel with the Chosen," is Alv's request to the old elves, in order to earn "his name."   Negotiations, however, on whether or not the Old Elves will help them is debated on a lot.  There was one suggestion to even blind them, or to sacrifice one for the passage of all the rest.  Cassandra tries lying and but the Elves detect her lies.  To appease them, Zig agrees to become a follower of the Old Ways.  The Old Elf grants a select group of them a blessing, allowing them to see magically the safe route through the caverns.

In end, Old Elf gives The Blue gift to others, (Clerics and Chaeron and Liadan do not take blessing.) This to allow them to pathfind in the dwarven tunnels and lasts a night. They are told that this blessing can be refreshed in running water if they take longer than a single night in the depths.

They open the great doors and enter.

Monday, June 29, 2015

After the Rain ep28 : Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain

Episode Twenty Eight

Houses of the Blooded

The Althua continues with the first day focusing on the Galeo exhibit and the second day featuring the Ork Hunt.  In the moments between scenes, Cassalanter learns of the established trails used in hunting in the region.  Rio keeps an eye out for the murderous Zhivali Ru but finds no sign of the son of Dranna Ru.  Perhaps his actions the previous night have lead to unexpected ramifications.   Gilian finds him, but finds him preoccupied with one of the servants in the Castle.  She talks to him about the upcoming Ork Hunt, and he admits not being a hunter.  Rumors spread of the Senate considering moving the location of the hearing.  Perhaps to this very Althua, even?  The Blooded of the Wolf are impressed by Cassalanter's handling of the duel with her Aunt Nerea.  How Cass takes advantage of this newfound respect remains to be seen.  And the Blooded of the Fox begin setting their plans to motion.

With the 45 seats in the Senate House, there are discussions of replacing the Blooded of the Bear with a different House.  The Veiled House of the Horse is brought up and 19 have publicly proclaimed their support of such a move.  Only six more votes are needed.

The members of the House of the Horse approach Cass and Ash Jalan to offer a Blessing from one of their Suaven.  They claim the silence from the Suaven does not occur among the "lesser" Suaven such as their own.  Cass tells them she will give her response in two days, which is when the Althua ends.

The day is to have two events, an Ork Hunt and a Puzzle House.  The group discusses the two as to who will do which.   Maja Thayl, hosting the events, calls for all to come as the first event begins.  The hunt, as it turns out, involves an Ork that has wing!  Most had not anticipated a hunt for a flying beast.  Gilian, however, had joined the event with her bow in hand and unlike the others is ready to use it to bring the monstrosity down.  Ash realizes the Ork cannot use its wings to sustain flight for long.  At most it can glide.

At the platform where the audience awaits, the others watch the hunt from safety.  From there, there is a glimpse of the Puzzle House in the distance.    Rio slips away from the rest, hoping to investigate the Puzzle House without the others noticing.  Ash and Cass joke about grafting a wing on one of them to serve the other better.    When Gilian finds the Ork, she realizes the thing is headed straight towards her.  Behind it, the ven take chase with swords and horses.

Gilian takes aim and wings the beast, forcing the Ork to the ground.  She quickly uses Sorcery to transform it into her Familiar, taking claim of the beast before any of the others can try to hurt it.  Gilian has won the contest.

During all this, however, Jessie Jalan pulls Cass aside to inform her that she will now have a second Province.   The land had been divided for each of her Vassals will claim hold of it.  The land used to be the lands of Jaric Thayl, her father, but she seems to be determined to ensure someone else claims hold of it at once.

By the Puzzle House, Rio finds a young woman, identifying herself as Lady M near there.  The woman seems amused to realize who Rio is, and as Rio puzzles over who the woman is - she realizes the woman is a much younger infamous woman.  This woman has the striking resemblance of Madelyn Yvarai... but at the height of Summer.  They discuss her mother, and how she had changed since the Opera of Jaric Thayl.  They discuss how the Puzzle House is "shallow" and more theatrics than true content.  When Lady M approaches Rio, however, and tells her she must go.  "Go where?  Where does a Spectre travel?" Rio hisses.   "Anywhere where one is not warded, I must say."  When Lady M reaches to touch Rio, she grabs Lady M's hand and is surprised it is warm.   She asks Rio to tell the children of Jaric Thayl that Lady M has returned and that she wings with her news she can deliver when she is welcome."Every wise Fox knows you leave them waiting."   Before they can separate ways, she asks if the "thing in the shadows" is with her.  Rio strikes with her Bloodsword but cleaves only wood.  Lady M snarls at Rio for the "attack" but her body language instead tells Rio that they shall speak of things in the future in secret.  She had invoked the Secret Tongue through her bracelet which cast the Prayer when they touched. She suspects the Shadows are from the Senate, observing her.  Rio spits on the ground.

With Gilian winning the match, there is some complaint about a "Bear" winning the match.  Rio and Cass come forward, however, to defend her triumph.    Around them, Ash can hear the other nobles admitting defeat, having wagered their vassals.  Dalvinosh Steele observes the proceedings as they ask if it was a Bear that won the match indeed.  Lyra Drew contests the win given it was a Ruk that won the hunt.  Even Jessie is shocked that Gilian turns out to be a Bear!  When Cass counters the Bears were never unveiled, Lyra asks if they have an Earl, or is Gilian the Earl?   Cass remembers the Bears did leave Shanri.  They took an exodus to the Other Shanri.  Maja tries to help, claiming Gilian is an Elk claiming the name out of novelty.   Rio calls for Lyra to explain the nature of her complaint, and she states it is an Insult to the Althua for a Ruk to have been sent to the Challenge.  Rio tries turning it around, claiming it is bad form to complain before the Host does.  Lyra calls to Maja and asks if she was aware - a moot question given Maja already admitted she "believed" she was an Elk.  She asks Cass to clarify things for everyone.  Cass claims that no less than a personage such as Nia Jalan attested to her Blooding.  "She is Blooded.  Now what her House is is not mine to question."  Rio identifies herself of the Elk House and reminds them that Gilian is her sister.   Lyra smiles, believing she has gained advantage and asks Rio, then, to formally introduce her sister to the Senate. "And I would be glad to recognize her."  Rio walks up to Dalvinosh Steele, finding the Courage to do so, and kneels before him to be the second sponsor.  She calls Lyra's bluff and attempts to shame the Wolf.  

The Avirex declares he understands and he addresses Gilian, asking if she accepts his recognition of her to be now known as Gilian Burghe Steele.  Without any Courage, Gilian could not deny the request despite not wanting to be seen as an Elk.  "Then I am your second," Dalvinosh Steele himself concludes. Maja Thayl apologizes for not recognizing the Elk by being the third.   The contest of Gilian's House is closed.  "The Elk has won."

The Althua continues.  The ven amuse themselves.   Ash pulls away from them all and finds himself an empty room (save for a cat) and after shoving the cat away, he draws the curtains and pulls out the cloth package he had received from a Horse and opens it.  It looks old and fragile, and the contents seem written in the Old Tongue.  The documents are called The Mystery of Artemesia  and it seems to be a long epic poem of a lovely and innocent woman sought to make the world better, but in her attempts she had to transform from waif to artist, and from artist to... Her words became teeth, her songs became barbs and her paints were blood.  Closing it, Ash secures it under his clothes.  Something clatters to the floor, and he picks it up. It is a sliced shard of orichalcum.  He finds a second cat, a brown one this time and he starts to feel suspicious of all these cats in the area.

Rio starts to realize whose castle this is, as the archival room is almost the same size as the ballroom.  There is even a strange winged thing hanging on the ceiling.  As well as other Artifacts spread around.   The place clearly has more Serpent touches than Elk.   As she follows a group of servants seemingly moving a scroll to a chamber, she notices how there are many more of these scrolls in the chamber and how the guards even carefully avoid breaking the white lines on the floor.  A woman notices Rio and asks her if she needs help.  The woman, Ashla Mwrr, is the Lady's Scholar of Secrets.  Rio realizes she serves the Duchess Jessie Jalan.   The prize was a Kind Ritual, one that allowed the easing of wounds.  It was intended to be the Prize, but a different prize was chosen instead.  Rio admits she was curious to see what the original prize was, nothing more.  Rio eventually meets Jessie Jalan and secret and learns that the lands once owned by Jaric Thayl are being spread out among them to keep them safe.  She needs them owned given the circumstances of what have been uncovered - the Murder of Jaric Thayl.

Gilian stumbles into a guard, who causes a chain reaction of commotion leading to one accidentally striking Dalvinosh Steele's shoulder.  The Avirex shooes the guards away and talks to Gilian, admitting he had not been able to stay in touch and watch them grow.  He confesses he had known her mother, Nia Jalan, and is sad to have failed to raise them as his own.  He understands there is Blood and there is Blooding.    "This... this is wrong," he mutters.  Gilian hears a clacking sound and suddenly, she is alone in the room, in a daze.  

It is later in the evening, with the ven resting for the night, when another secret is uncovered in the grounds of the castle.  Ash sees more cats and investigates.  He finds he is not alone in following the trail. He cannot see who, but he senses the shadow in the room is sentient.  He asks to see the mask, but the voice says no.  "But you are not beyond notice."  Ash asks if that was a threat and receives no response.

Duchess Jessie Jalan


The man in the room opens his eyes.  "That was close."  The woman nods, "Those were Inquisitors.  Dalvinosh suspects.  We will have to stop for now."  


Dinner.  Mostly a quiet night until Cass notices a man in the crowd which seems familar.  The voice in her head begins to gasp, claiming the man is the other Count Kether and that she had last spoken with Miralia but failed to send him word of it.  Cass approaches him and learns he is currently called Snotnose, having failed some wager to stab a knife between his fingers twenty times.  The voice is frantic, claiming he has to be some kind of Tulpa, but the Blood is impossible if he were one.  Cass entertains him with wordplay, and eventually succeeds in having him give clues to who he is.  He claims he is searching for any sign of his family, including his wife Miralia, and that he hopes to find them.   He admits he had heard of news that his sons are dead.  She asks him if he knows Galeo Silja, and claims her mother knew her.  The man claims she is the sole reason he returned, because he is the Count Kether of the Other Shanri.  He offers to dance with Cassalanter, and he asks her to tell him more about her mother for she had somehow made a tulpa come to life.


In the kitchen, a man and a woman watch as they dance.  They argue about needing to do what they must to stop the Demon from regaining power.  The woman is Artemesia.  The man is Lukas.  And they admit had Lukas not messed things up, they wouldn't still be here.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Journey ep02 : Ryuutama


Episode Two
"Festival at Ifa"


The group awakens to discover a beautiful morning awaiting them.  Twinkle the monkey watches Aya as she inspects the fishbone earring.  Kene, the Nekogoblin, is remorseful and sad for having lost the earring.  Aya asks if it is the earring he was looking for, but Twinkle suddenly grabs it and swallows it.  Tristan admits the only way they can recover it is once the monkey poops it out.   Kene moans about having to get used to having lost it, pulls out a long cloth wallet that has dozens more of the same fishbone earring, then slides one on.  Aya facepalms, exasperatedly.

As they pack up, they realize there is no sign of the weather reader.  The other troupe has decided to head east.  They tells the others they left them breakfast with a lot of meat, but they notice the weather reader's backpack is among the stuff the group is packing.  They bid them all farewell.  

Aya begins singing Shining Shimmering Splendid to raise their spirits as they traverse the landscape and continue on the path to Ifa.  They move across the grassy landscape, watching the rolling clouds and indulging in the warm spring sunshine.  Aya keeps track of their journey, making sure they do not go off course.   They are happy that there is no rain today, and the grassland is cool to their legs and feet.

As they continue, however, they find an old associate on the same route as them.  The Hunter-Trader is named Jordi, and his rivalry with Piter is well-known.  Until Piter, however, who has embraced the craft of creating Containers, the rival Jordi, however, is a shoe maker.  The two groups continue to Ifa, expecting fireworks and celebration, but instead discover something unexpected:

They arrive at the town of Ifa to discover that the town somehow has lost the urge to celebrate.  While Ifa has always been know for its festive atmosphere and the cute and cuddly Nekogoblins, they are shocked to find the place quiet and heavy.

They soon meet the mayor of the town, who they learn is the father of Kene (whose full name is actually Kenemokabakamabebe) and learns the young one was banished because he supposedly had made the "stars" go away.  The mayor sulks and wishes someone could help them.  When the group opts to do so, they realize finding the answer would mean climbing the Dark EvilHeart Meowtain in the distance and searching for the Nekomata.   The group decides to set out come dawn.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Game Chef 2015 idea #01

A group of teenagers once signed a release form to join Dream Island, a reality show where each contestant is given one full year to reach for his dreams no matter what they were supposed to be.  But something must have happened outside the island because all the cameras have gone still, and the show may have been abandoned.  The contestants may have been abandoned.  One contestant has been tracking the days and has just informed the others that 400 days have already passed and still no one has come to tell them the show is done.  No one at all.

The players are the Dragonflies.
The audience watching the still ongoing show, which is less about reaching for ones' dreams and more about seeing what a group of teenagers will do when they believe the world around them is gone and they are the only one's left.  Each player can monitor the island using their mobile multi-sensory drone cameras (nicknamed Dragonflies) to observe other contestants and prod them to do things.  Ultimately, each player wants a certain contestant to win.

Because in this reality show, the Audience is far from indifferent.

The Dragonfly robot in flight (Indiegogo) [Image taken from Yahoo![

Game Chef 2015 has begun

I'm hoping to join this year.  But man, I'm gonna have to find a way to squeeze it in with all my other responsibilities and stuff.  This week is a heavy week for me, sadly.

This year's theme is:  A Different Audience

And the Ingredients are:

  1. abandon
  2. dragonfly
  3. stillness
  4. dream
I have to find a concept, create a game using two to three of the ingredients, and finish it within 9 days.   I wonder if I have what it takes?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Psychic : Companions



I've been wanting to run this game for years.  And thankfully, I did owe Karen a Dr. Who game and on International Tabletop day, we scheduled a session.  The opportunity arose to run Companions, I struggled to think of a storyline that felt appropriate to the Dr. Who universe.  Admittedly, my earlier attempt with Spam wasn't that well mapped out.    I cleared the summary with Rocky who felt it was "Very Dr. Who".

In Companions, the Doctor is dead.  And the TARDIS emerges to ask former Companions to save the Universe.  For this session, the Companions were the following:

Captain Drake, played by Jose
Torchwood Agent: Male, striking looks, formal wear, and weary eyes.
COOL : You don't stand a chance : Silver Tongued
Damaged Vortex Manipulator, Trenchcoat, suit +armor
Sonic screwdriver/cattle prod
Modern sub-machinegun
Dydra knows something about you (+1)
I once left Falling Star to die (+3)
Tried to recruit Kane (+1)

Dydra, played by Jovan
Whiz : Female, casual clothes, soft face, wiry body, clever eyes, Ramona Flowers type
CLEVER : Aggressive Improvisation : Machine Culture
High tech scrap
Multi-tool with Aimed pulse stun
Falling Star is a cipher. (+1)
I saved Kane's life with one of your devices (+1)
Capt. Drake is seen as a new equal (+3)

Falling Star, played by Karen
Warrior-Poet, humanoid (pearl iridiscent eyes) : weathered face, sad eyes, compact body, mismatched armor, been through battles.
Tribe of warriors. Gone for 75 years.
BOLD : Favor of the Gods : Keen Eyes
Wicked weapon (Glass Ripper, AP)
Elegant weapon (Baroque Laser Rifle, hi tech auto reload)
Nightmare weapon (Psychic Drill, stun loud)
Dydra is my Elder, taught me much (+2)
Holds Capt. Drake in contempt for past actions (+1)
Sworn to protect Kane (+2)

Kane, played by Paolo
Touchstone : Male, urban fashion, strong face, tense eyes, stylish hair, gym body (Fassbender)
APPEAL : Something about you : Vortex Kiss (Doctor was an odd ball regular, forgot change, so chased after him and saw the TARDIS as he left)
Dydra saved my life (+2)
Has a crush on Falling Star (+1)
Drake once totally stabbed me in the back. (+1)

The story opens with Falling Star standing inside the ladies room. She could hear the laughter of the others outside. Falling Star finds herself remembering the Doctor she once had adventures with and him telling her how she always had sad, sad eyes. Part of her is wondering what he means by her having sad eyes - as far as she knew she always had the eyes of a warrior. Coming from a tribe of warriors, they protect the citizens of the planet from other alien forces and threats. She had been gone from her own people for 75 years and she wonders how her mirror eyes can ever be said to look "sad."

Dydra wonders what is taking Falling Star so long in the restroom. Drake is flirting with the waitress as usual. None of the other Companions have showed up to join them in this "impromptu memoriam" for the Doctor who has long passed on. She stands up, walks to the restroom and knocks at the door. The adjoining door opens and Kane steps inside, and she remembers the time she saved his very life. They wave at each other.

Captain Drake flirts with the waitress, talking to her about how many times he had saved the world in the past. She giggles a few times, not sure when to believe him and when to think he's just trying to impress her.

The group has a table with small mementos representing their time with the Doctor: a rock from Falling Star, a screw from Dydra, and a small piece of metal from a destroyed Cyberman.  None of them were present to witness the Doctor's death.  However as they were all touched by the Vortex, they all felt the undeniable sadness that swelled in their hearts on the day he died.  As the group regathers at the table to toast to the Doctor, a sudden sound erupts and announces the arrival of the TARDIS!  As the waitress begins to shriek, Drake tries to shush her.  Dydra, impatient for any noise, zaps her unconscious with her multi-tool's pulse stun.  Falling Star is the first to approach it, and the door slides open.  Dydra squeezes past Falling Star to see what is inside.  Drake turns to Kane, grins and tells him, "Let's do this?"  Kane mutters a sure.  All the screens inside the TARDIS are flashing the faces of the Companions.   They all then display a single object: a leather flap containing the Psychic Paper.  Dydra rushes to where it would normally be and opens it to see what is inside.  While usually Psychic Paper shows what the viewer expects to see, they all instead see the words form: Please Help Me.   Pain.  Please Come.  "Is it the words of the Doctor or the Tardis?" Falling Star asks aloud.  Kane pulls out his cellular phone, the device which the Doctor once altered for him when he was in a brief stint with him.  He feels confused and decides to check the phone's calendar device for a horoscope reading:  Today is a day to go on an Adventure!  Who knows you might even save a life.  Strangers are strange but you will find they are worth your trust.  Do not hesitate.  Geronimo!
The other Companions all turn to Kane, recognizing the catchphrase.  Dydra rushes to the console to try and track where the Psychic Paper is tapping into.  Drake, anticipating an adventure, hurries off to find where he left his equipment before.  Dydra successfully tracks the psychic traces and locks onto the source.  She asks the others, despite her mind is made up, "I'm pretty sure you guys want to find out what this is about?"  They all nod a yes.  "Lets rock!" Drake grins.  Dydra pulls the lever and the title sequence of the show appears with Pink Floyd's One of these Days as the opening track.


The group travels to the future.  The location is Russia.  And as the group lands, they discover that the city outside looks war torn and in ruins.  Drake opens the door, confident given he has weapons in hand.  Dydra calibrates the TARDIS for an easy exit if there is any emergency.  Kane wishes he had a gun, but Drake teases him there is only one.  There is snow outside.  While the others grab clothes to wear, Drake and Falling Star step outside, confident with their weapons.   Dydra surveys the surroundings and notices the following points of interest:  the place seems generally quiet now, with no clear ongoing signs of violence, and seemingly in charge of the place are the owners of the cloth banner with a golden swastika, some kind of United Nations of Nazis?    On the ground, the shattered remains of a Dalek.   Kane stares at the same things and mutters, "I guess we didn't win?"   Dydra inspects the broken Dalek, but Falling Star warns her to wait as she inspects how the Dalek was defeated.  "What kind of beam can shatter a Dalek?"  She forces some strength on the metal and watches as it snaps off easily.

Kane reemerges with a fur parka and Dydra realizes she needs one too.  She hurries back into the TARDIS to grab one.   Emerging from the nearby building with the swastika, armed soldiers march out in formation and head straight for them.  Dydra grabs the key to the TARDIS while Falling Star rushes forward, ready to face the soldiers if need be.   Falling Star pulls out the Psychic Drill, the dreaded weapon the Doctor told her never to use on another living being, and yells at everyone else to "Duck!"  Dydra pulls out her Pulse Stun and prepares to fire.  Kane ducks to the ground.  Drake raises both hands and tries to tell everyone to calm down.    The soldiers call out to the group to identify themselves since, "Clearly you were all with the TARDIS!"  The group counters, asking how they'd be aware of the TARDIS.  In response, a man comes out to command the soldiers to back down.  He reminds them the Companions are probably allies of the Doctor.  He mistakes Falling Star as the leader and asks her if the Doctor is dead.  They aren't sure if they should admit it.  Drake claims he's "Somewhere out in the Galaxy as usual."   Dydra hisses at them to not tell them anything.  She does not trust the nazis.  The man is clearly dressed in a Nazi uniform, however, he has an eyepatch over one eye and scars on his face.  He identifies Falling Star's weapon and admits normally when shown such a weapon of great power, they open fire immediately.  His name is Storm Leader Zero and tells them this is "the New Motherland."  He tells them that they had come a bit too late as they had finally defeated the Daleks after 200 years of war.  Dydra asks where they had come from, given she knows the Doctor had already defeated them a long time ago.   Storm Leader Zero was about to answer, but then he looks at Dydra's face more and asks, "Dydra?"

"Who is asking?" she replies, wondering how he would know of her.

He invites them inside for hot tea and the soldiers disperse.  Agent Drake opts to go to the soldiers to ask them questions.  Dydra keeps her Pulse Stun ready and walks with Storm Leader Zero.  Falling Star accompanies her.  Kane looks around, realizing everyone seems to have forgotten he's still there.  He decides to follow Storm Leader Zero to ask some questions.  They are celebrating D-Day it seems.

Outside, Agent Drake befriends the soldiers.  He talks to them about his exploits as a Companion and they proudly show off their technology.  They ask if he's a member of Torchwood and talk about how much they admire the group.  He asks how they defeated the Daleks, and they begin sharing how humanity was able to fight back thanks to their access to Dydratech weaponry.  The name captures Drake's interest.

Inside, Dydra and Falling Star notice the many tables, records, crisis maps of the world and more that have been set up all around.  There are also a lot of injured people still in recovery.  As well as a lot of alien tech nearby. Seeing the War Room in the side, Dydra takes mental note of it but opts to focus on Storm Lord Zero.   Falling Star opts to peek inside the War Room.

Kane walks up to Storm Leader Zero and hears him talking about "Dydra... Dydra herself.. is here."  He seems to find Dydra to be of some major import, and he seems to be confused that the Doctor is not with them.  Kane asks about Dydra and how they know her.  Storm Leader Zero admits he is related to her, and that he never thought he'd experience someone from his past.  "If it were not for her, we would have lost this War."

In the room, Dydra sees there are four Daleks that have been dissected, disassembled and inspected.  The signs of wear and tear are apparent.  Storm Leader Zero offers Dydra the exact type of tea she wants.  Kane quietly accepts a cup as well.  Dydra slides her multitool to test the tea and finds it clear of any poisons.  Kane tries asking the Storm Leader Zero, "Can you give me a brief description of what happened between the 21st Century and now?"  He turns to Dydra, asking if Kane is the new Companion.  He suggests Dydra helped them win the war, and when Dydra asks  how, his eyes wander upon the four Daleks.

Back in the War Room, Falling Star is staring at the world map.  It is filled with markers suggesting different Dalek colors.  All are marked with crosses to show they have been destroyed.  A woman present gasps upon seeing Falling Star and asks if she is a "Pearl Fisher?"  Falling Star learns the war was declared won just yesterday after they defeated the Mothership.  Falling Star however wonders who is still in trouble asking for their help.  The woman shows off the tech such as the Dydra2000 which allowed them to fight the aliens.

The Daleks descended on Earth, causing worldwide panic. The nations try to contact Torchwood, who launches an assault and is defeated in the first day.  As they try to unify, the Daleks do a terrible act to divide the planet: They send a Dalek of a specific color to each continent, and promise the people sanctuary if they attack the others.  The Daleks convinced people to attack each other, thinking the others would do the same.  Missiles were launched.  Countries were decimated.  Eventually, from the survivors, most gave up and had no hopes of winning the war.  That was when the first Storm Leader started inspiring the people with stories of his great, great, great, grand mother.  The stories of Dydra's time with the Doctor, of her carrying on in his absence, inspired the survivors to band together and fight back.   Dydra's technology was used to cause the Daleks to become brittle enough to be vulnerable to normal firearms.

"It is your stories that gave the remainder of Humanity hope.  But it was someone else's stories that gave them Discipine.  To unite the people, someone had to be scarier than the Daleks."

They embraced the ideas and imagery of the Nazis to frighten the people to fall in line and gather under one banner.    A unified army, lead with the same discipline and tactics of the Nazis emerged, they would terrify the populace enough to want to fight to survive.

Falling Star wonders what happened to those who were unwilling to support this new Nazi regime.  The scientist, who unlocks the War Room with her breath and palm print, escorts her inside to see the various Dydratech devices already there - including the DydraPacifer.  Falling Star stares at the gathered technology.  The DydraPacifer is able to affect up to 50 people in a single dose.   There were even the DydraPlatforms which allowed up to fifty troops to be maneuvered and dropped into locations almost instantaneously.  As well as DydraShields which could take a single blast, no mater how powerful, and disperse it harmlessly.  The Shields were very few in number but allowed them to turn the tide against the Daleks.  "We became Benevolent Dictators to save the Human Race."   And now that the war is over, the scientist admits the dismantlement procedures have begun and all the tech is being destroyed.  She is puzzled however that the Doctor did not send the group.  Falling Star admits the TARDIS was the one who brought them over, after receiving a warning on the Psychic Paper.

"You guys are so doomed if your future relies on me becoming the hero who created these weapons," Dydra admits, "I cannot believe I was the one who created all of this destruction."

"You did not create destruction, you created hope. You showed us that we... we didn't need the Doctor," Storm Leader Zero.  The Storm Leader Zero then introduces them too the lead scientist, Dee, who happens to be his daughter.  Dydra realizes Dee was named after her own name.

The group gathers to talk about what they've learned so far.   Dydra denies knowing anything about the place despite the group teasing her to create the weapons they were presented.  They inspect the Psychic Paper once more and find it saying:

Please. Make pain stop.

They get a visit from Dee, whom Agent Drake begins to flirt with very quickly.  She offers to show them around.  As the group tries looking around to inspect the area, they discover that a massive wealth of alien tech and knowledge is currently being destroyed by the soldiers, called the Grand Library.    The Dalek Mothership, it turns out, contained all the culture and books of the various worlds they had conquered in the last 200 years.  And now that it had crashed, the soldiers are burning the debris to ensure no one ends up getting their hands on any alien tech.  The Companions feel bothered at such a waste of knowledge and culture and decide to inspect the crash site to see if they can find anything of note.  Given the size of the ship, the group splits up to look around.

Agent Drake quickly starts looking at the closet stack of books.  Kane and Falling Star stick together and inspect the higher floors.  Dydra is amused at Kane and Falling Star's flirtations and tells them to find a room.  She heads to the closest burning stack.

Heading upstairs, Falling Star and Kane searches for anything of interest.   Kane asks more about her planet and she shares how her planet was peaceful thanks to warriors like her.  She starts sharing about how she met the Doctor then.  How she considered going back, but she was too busy being his Companion.    Falling Star finds some artifacts of her own people, and this gives her a moment of pause worrying if her own planet has fallen to Dalek hands as well.  She stares at the Totem, a forcefield shield device as well as the Scroll, which contains the stories of her people.

By the entrance, Dydra decide to start looking at the nearby shelves and collections that are on the verge of burning up from the remnants of the crash.   The growing glow of the bonfire is being fed by the tons of books and publications that have been shelved together and fallen onto the broken parts.  She pulls out her Multi-tool and uses the tech she had carried with her to put the fire out.  The makeshift flame retardant smothers the fire for the moment, although the flickering suggests it will reignite.  Probably fueled by something more than just fire.  She stares at the shelf that she had saved and reaches for one of the books on the shelf.  Flipping it open to satisfy her curiosity, she is surprised to find it filled with the same words on the Psychic Paper:

Please. Help Me. Please-  

The words suddenly change instead to...

It has Stopped.  It has Stopped.  It has Stopped

Agent Drake and Dee talk about the crash of the Ultranet (information used to be shot directly to another's brain) but now with the war over they're all excited to get the old books back into places for others to read.  The two share a drink, relishing the moment.  The decide to go back to the Tech room since Agent Drake is curious to see her technology.

Dydra starts to realize the book is Psychic Paper.   She starts pulling at the other books and finds them all saying the same thing.  But then, the words shift once more and all are talking about Pain once again.

Pain. Pain. Please make it Stop.

She tries asking the page, "Who are you?" and Dydra sees the words now attempting to communicate with her.  She begins speaking aloud to communicate and reads the pages each time to see the response.  She starts calling for the others to join her.  She notices the fire has erupted once more and the books are starting to burn again. She can't see Agent Drake, but she has an idea where Falling Star and Kane might be.    She runs in that direction.

A panel on the wall slides open.  A Dalek, hiding all this time, slides out of its hiding spot.  Its red eye follows Dydra as she runs and it whispers, "Exterminate."

And in a dark alley, Agent Drake fails to notice the still damaged Dalek that is slowly returning back to full functionality.  As he walks with the scientist, Dee, the Storm Leader Zero's daughter, the two talk about Drake's guilt and Dee's determination to success.  Both are unaware of the Dalek looming closer behind them.  It opens fire.

Back at the ship, Falling Star and Kane hear Dydra calling out for them claiming she had found something.  The three turn to see the Dalek in all its menacing glory, with its wicked eye stalk staring at them.  Falling Star tells Kane to stay behind him.   Dydra looks at the Psychic Paper and its now begging for her to return:

Please. Come back. Voice. Come Back.

"What the hell is that?" Kane calls out, confused a the robot's appearance.  Falling Star uses her Baroque Laser Rifle to shoot at the thing.  The blue beam launches had hits and forces it back.   Dydra tells them to retreat, and find shelter behind shelves.  "Split up?" Kane asks.

"No! We never split up!" Dydra yells out, "What kind of foolish move is that?"   As they move to run, however, Dydra and Kane run into each other!   As they hit the ground, Falling Star fires a few more times at the Dalek with her rifle.  The Dalek declares systems are damaged and begins to withdraw.  It fires blindly to protect itself.    As it opens fire with its death ray, Falling Star activates the Totem in the nick of time to block the devastating ray and protect both Kane and Dydra.  Falling Star smiles, proud for her people that she is a Pearl Fisher who did not run away.

Back down below, Agent Drake hears the terrible sound of a Dalek deathray.  But before he could move, Dee shoves him to the side.  She screams as the ray disintegrates her arm away!  As they run, he asks her to tell him what way they should keep running.   The Dalek fires a second time at them.  Agent Drake pulls Dee close to him to protect her.  The blast strikes him squarely in the back!  Drake feels the ever-present touch of the Vortex envelop around him.  Gold light streaks around him, vortex energies, similar to what surrounds the Doctor when he Regenerates!

Dydra and Kane talk about what Daleks are and she tells him, "You don't ask what a Dalek is, you just RUN AWAY!"  Falling Star begins to walk towards it, drawing out her Glass Ripper and keeping the Totem alive.  Dydra looks down at her Pulse Stun and wonders if it can work against it.  She remembers the soldiers of this era talking about how she developed tech to defeat the Daleks.  Kane crawls close to Falling Star, terrified out of his wits.  As Falling Star swings at the Dalek, however, the Dalek's counter-measures kick in.  Her blade fails to penetrate the force field!     Kane sees the Psychic Paper on the ground.  Dydra must have dropped it by accident.  He leans out of the cover to grab it as Dalek starts firing a volley of ray blasts around it.  Dydra uses her Stun Pulse and to her surprise, the Stun disrupts the Dalek's force field!  Falling Star rushes to Dydra, worrying for her safety, and pulls her to the safely of the side by the bookshelves.  Kane stays within the Totem's shield, protected.  Kane sees the cries on the Psychic Paper, however, and wonders if he can find the being needing help while the others are busy.   Dydra and Falling Star consider how to act in concert to get close enough to disrupt the force field and shut the monstrosity down.  

Back outside, Agent Drake feels the gold light swirl around him.  He feels the pain fade, and discovers what it feels like to Regenerate.  He feels numb, emotionally dead, but alive.  He stands up and sees Dee on the run.  The Dalek stops is shocked to see Agent Drake is still alive!  Drake mutters, "They call me the immortal for a reason."  He runs around the Dalek's blindspot to escape it.  The Dalek scans him as he run:  Timelord.  Uncertain.

Kane runs, searching for any signs of a person who needs help.  He remembers Dydra mentioned the person might be near the pile of burning books.  He runs to the burning stack closest to the entrance.  He turns the wrong way and realizes he is falling!  He hits the ground, breaking his leg, and realizes he has landed on the ground level.  The shelf he had slammed into has books all fallen around him.   The books are open and their exposed pages are filled with words:

Help. Someone feel. Near. Help. Pain. Someone Stop Pain.

Kane yells out, "Where are you?" and the pages all suddenly show:

Here.  Here.  Hear.  I can.  Hear.  I can.  I.

He picks up the books and wonders how the books can show him where the speaker is.  To Kane's surprise, the books instead start showing the words:

You Are Care.  Caring.  Carrying.  Me.

The one asking for help are the books themselves!

Falling Star and Dydra devise a plan to distract the Dalek.  Dydra devised a simple trap to toss the books in one direction, giving Falling Star and Dydra an opening to close in unnoticed, buying Dydra time to use the Pulse Stun, and for Falling Star to strike.  Dydra pulls the closest book and it reads: Distractions and Other Things.  "Perfect!" she smiles, loads it on the timed stack she prepared as a distraction and hurries to the side.

The Dalek turns to the sound, distracted.  Dydra realizes she has to be Bold this moment, and she finds herself remembering that first night with the 9th Doctor.  He tells her he has to climb and activate the Satellite dish.  "I believe in you," he tells her.  Dydra succeeded.  And today, she knows it is time to be bold once more.  But as she closes in, she realizes it isn't working and she yells at Falling Star to look out.  Dydra quickly tries to stay behind the Dalek, moving in pace with it to keep it from seeing her.    Falling Star realizes she needs to help Dydra.  Angered by Dydra's antics, the Dalek begins to hover as it calls out, "Unacceptable!"

Dydra sees the opportunity and stabs her Pulse Stun into the area underneath the Dalek!  The Pulse Stun erupts, surging through the Dalek's armor.  Dydra's Pulse Stun explodes from the overcharge, but the Dalek is stunned.  Falling Star strikes!
Outside, Agent Drake reaches Armory and finds Dee atop the platform.  She apologizes to Drake and activates it.  Before Drake could act, the DydraPlatform activates and Dee is gone.  Drake isn't sure where she has gone!
Falling and Dydra disable the Dalek, but they soon hear news of a second one attacking the streets.  They hurry down to look for Kane.

Kane starts conversing with the Psychic Paper to ask how he can help it.  The Paper calls itself Psychic.  He hears Falling Star and Dydra calling out for him.  The can see the second Dalek looking for a new target.  The Dalek that nearly killed Agent Drake approach.  Dee reemerges with the Platform, and on it, the Dydra2000 is armed.  "We defeated you already!  I am a Dydra!"  Dee activates the device and it strikes the Dalek, rendering it vulnerable.  Falling Star whips out her Baroque Laser Rifle as Dydra yells at Dee to duck for cover.  Falling Star takes aim.  She fires once more.  Kane acts boldly and runs for Dee.  The Dalek's shots narrowing miss him.  But then it turns to strike at Dee.  Her skeleton glows vibrantly visible as she falls into Kane's arms.  "I... I did good, right?"  Kane hugs her tight.  Falling Star fires, and the blast rips through the air and into the Dalek.    The Dalek explodes.

The group gathers.  There are tears for Dee's death, and kind words for her loss.  But there is also a commitment to bring humanity back to its feet and to treasure every cultural and artistic gift that can be salvaged from the fallen mothership.    Dydra decides instead of destroying her tech, to keep it under lock and code.  Only she can open it.  And that if they ever needed it, they can try to reach her.  The bigger question, however, is what to do with Psychic.  As it turns out, the woods from which the Psychic Paper was being made from turned out to be psychic by nature.  The Paper was technology used by the Time Agents, but not because it was made to be psychic.  It was made to reflect things better.  But with the Dalek war, the large gathered quantity of psychic paper found itself gaining sentience. Like sparks of neurons of a massive brain, the psychic paper gained self-awareness and communicated with the Doctor's Psychic Paper through time and space.  The Psychic Paper is now part of the new born collective unconscious.  

The Psychic is now alive.

Dydra wishes she could keep a page with her, but realizes if she were to separate a page from the collective, it would be like severing a part of someone's brain.  Falling Star argues that Dydra shouldn't force it apart, now that its practically a living thing.  Kane, however, counters that they shouldn't leave it locked up with no room to grow.  If it experiences more, it can understand the world more.  Kane checks his horoscope on his phone, his cellphone was upgraded by the Doctor in the past to receive odd insight whenever he checked it and it reads: The freedom of every sentient being is the right to make their own choice.

The group votes and they hit an impasse, a stalemate with two thinking they should take back the Psychic Paper, and two others thinking it should stay together.  Storm Leader Zero comes up to Dydra and asks to see the Psychic Paper.  The Paper shows the words:

Yes. I wish to Go with Dydra.

Zero bids them farewell and tells them today was "D-Day indeed."  The group returns to the TARDIS, ready to head off back to another adventure.   Agent Drake begins flipping switches to start the time machine.  The group hurries inside and prepare to go.  Kane stares at a nearby screen and asks, "So who is the Doctor?"  And to everyone's surprise, the TARDIS replies by showing the image of all four of them.

The credits roll.

Friday, June 5, 2015

After the Rain ep27 : Houses of the Blooded

After the Rain

Episode Twenty Seven

Houses of the Blooded

Spring.  The Althua made to look like winter continues, a celebration of the Blooding of Jessie Jalan, Duchess of Tamal.  The presence of the long missing/Solace Galeo Silja caught many by surprise... and this was something her sister Merea, now Nerea Silja, definitely could not ignore.  The two had confronted each other and their exchange lead to a declaration for a duel, with Cassalanter suggesting the duel best continue in the morning.   Uvanla Yvarai's quest to locate Lucas and reunite her with Seran, a promise his father made, remains incomplete.  Zhivali Ru's letter to Cassalanter has not been handed over.

The group is gathered with the many other guests at the banquet, and discussions are tossed back and forth.   Some interesting things are noted:  The Man in Yellow is no longer in the Banquet.  The Senate has yet to call for a session this Season.  Some of the bottles of wine being served have clearly been spiked with Foxwine.  Maja Thayl's attention seems to be focused on Uvanla, the son of Count Kether.  And there seems to be an above average number of Wolves present.   The Duchess Jessie Jalan thanks people in the audience, and thanks Maja for the Althua though it was not necessary.  She then thanks Cassalanter Steele whose friendship has always been appreciated even if she has done nothing to earn it.  Cassalanter is internally surprised that Jessie refers to her as a friend and with her half-glazed eyes she motions her thanks back.  Jessie tells all that because of the friendship, Cassalanter is receiving half of the presents they have given her.  This shocks many of those present.   
Maja continues the night's events with one more activity: a small game.  Eight contestants are called for.  While most focus on that, the group realize that someone has approached Cassalanter's table, waiting to be acknowledged.  When acknowledged, the lady shares some pleasantries with Cassalanter and it turns out to be Baroness Ravi, a Serpent, and her family has been trying to set Cassalanter up with her brother for the longest time.  They talk about the brother and Cassalanter breaks into the laugh upon learning he is dead.  The foxwine seems to be affecting her heavily.  The man was decapitated when he explored a Puzzle house.   They never recovered the head.  Gillian Burghe holds a wooden smile on her face, especially when Ravi talks about wanting Cassalanter to hold the land her brother had lost.  "If he cannot have you in love, perhaps he can have you in wealth."  Supposedly there would be no need for marriage, and that a nobleman above them will recognize it.  The land even has an Opera House, a Puzzle House, four farms, two mountains, a shoreline and a shrine to Galeo.  Supposedly the brother gained a relic from her while he watched the piece called The Riddle of Blood.   Ravi asks if Cassalanter will accept it.  She needs an answer before the Senate hearing.  They are starting to wonder if Maja intentionally set the party to have last-minute deals before the Senate gathers.  She is clearly moving many pieces once again for a greater goal she cannot see.

In the distance, Maja begins a game with some papermache head being tossed around and whoever drops it loses.  Rio Balan leaves the group to join the game.  As they play, those who drop the head are eliminated.  They hear the sound of glass shattering each time the head drops to the ground.  When asked why, they learn from Maja that the head is filled with poison!  And with each drop, the glass shatters separating the different poisons, having more mix together.   Someone backs out in tension, and Rio Balan joins in. Maja looks shocked to see Rio join but they continue to play the game.  More and more throws and drops happen.  More contestants leave.  Each time Rio catches it, she actually smacks it on the ground to break more layers, then throws it back!  More and more back away from the game.  Then it is thrown back at Rio by a Wolf who smiles at her.  Rio flings it back and she caches it without shattering it.   However, some of the poison splatters at the person nearby.  The poison now leaks all over the head.  Maja applauds and calls for the personal guards to drag away those who had been knocked unconscious.  Down to the two of them, Maja suddenly calls for blindfolds.  Rio realizes she can see through hers!  The Wolf tosses the head and Rio catches it with the handkerchief in her hands.  Rio walks across to her opponent, takes off the blindfold, and tell her her blindfold was not as effective as it could have been, then holds the Wolf's hand.  She gives the opponent back the head for another throw.  "Dame Rio, let it be known that your actions reflect the House of Cassalanter."  People applaud.  The Wolf smashes the head on the ground and walks away, angered by the turn of events.  Maja vows to know who is tampering with the event.

Ash Jalan realizes he feels tremendously uncomfortable with the wolves around them.  He isn't quite sure why, but he feels there are far too many gathered in the area.  He begins counting them.  Too nervous, he stands and approaches the Baroness Ravi to invite her to dance.  She admits she would be delighted.  Ash uses this as a chance to dance with her and dance away from the wolves.  They talk of Uvanla  and she admits she met him and he seeks an airship.  Ravi admits it is a tragedy that the secrets of airships vanished with the death of Haroun Q'n.  Ravi turns out was the one who suggested he seek out Cassalanter given her relations to Galeo and Haroun.

Among the new faces to emerge are a woman and bearded man who watch from the sides the unfolding events.  The woman, it is soon revealed, is named Artemesia by the man beside her.  They both seem concerned about Cassalanter and are just happy to see she is well.

Gilian finds Uvanla Yvarai enjoying the banquet and standing alone.  He is indulging on the food.  They notice a plate of cookies from a Zhivali Ru.  Gilian suggests they eat something else.  Nerea has accepted Uvanla to be one of her vassals, the General/Mayor/Seneschal like how Nia Jalan once gave Merea such a post.  He was offered an airship, but Gilian questions if she really has one.   When they talk about Nerea's challenge with Galeo, he admits being bothered by Tulpas, especially those that last longer than a week.  He does mention Nerea's lands are filled with Swamps, and this makes Gilian wishing they had just resources.

Among the guests is a feisty lady who recognizes Cassalanter.  She is Galeo, and was named after Cassalanter's mother.  She has not been Blooded yet, but they seek to have her Blooded under the House Silja.  She claims to have been the sister of the one Galeo had adopted in the years back.  Cassalanter gets lost in her thoughts again, talking to the voices in her head.  The others try to pretend they do not see it happening.  Gilian approaches Nerea and offers her wine.  She asks about how she is given the confrontation earlier, and Nerea seems lost in her thoughts, answering only "Yes" and "Sure" the whole time.   Gilian stares at her, expecting her to gossip first.  But even then, all Nerea does is say "Yes" and "Sure."   Gilian suspects its a Tulpa.

Gilian later returns with a glass of wine in her hands. They gathered in Cassalanter's given chamber for the Althua.   Cassalanter asks them to keep their eyes open for any opportunities to help their land.  "I respect Maja for everything she has ever done, and still remain relevant even at this age," is one of the unexpected statements she throws out in her Foxwine-haze.  Gilian ops to stay nearby to watch over Cass.   Before Rio leaves, Gilian comes up to her and hands her a bottle of win, "To help you sober up."     Rio hands it back as she mumbles, "There is much that is wrong with you, sister."  Gilian  tries offering Cass a remedy for the foxwine she had been drinking, but even Cass seems to be enjoying herself too much.  Gilian ends up pouring a glass for herself instead.

Rio and Ash head to the village nearby.  The village in Jessie's Province turns out to be called Rumors.  Nightlife is alive as the Vassals come out to enjoy a few hours away from their Mistresses and Masters.  Ash asks Rio if this means they are here to "Investigate Rumors."  They find a large area in the village containing a Stable.  Eventually they visit the Red Room and gain accommodations there.  The place it turns offers more exotic services.  Rio is shown the selection of men to choose from.  Ash is shown his own selection of women.  Ash opts for privacy and turns down having any company.  Ash is told the vassals bring pleasure without narcotics and instead do it with touch.  "Are they Serpents?" Ash asks, wondering what Sorcery these people use.  "Some of them are when aroused," comes the reply.  Ash opts for his own room and locks himself inside.  The beds are comfortable and tremendously soft.    Rio, on the other hand, wears her golden mask and wanders about.  She is curious to see who is about here as well.  She finds Zhivali Ru exiting the glass chamber with two men and two women.  Zhivali sees gold-masked Rio and invites her to join him.  Rio agrees.  "How far do you go?"  he asks her.   She admits she prefers to watch.  When he asks if she knows who he is, she admits she does.  "Then you know what I am capable of."

Rio understands come morning, neither of the four will still be alive.  And it is a truism that does extend beyond Ruk and Veth.

Dreams.  White strands capture and hold her down.  A gong resounds in the distance over and over.  Another figure watches and terror fills the heart.  Bleached white skin and an eternal smile.  The grinning man's red eyes are impossible to ignore.  Cassalanter wakes up from the nightmare with a start and finds Gilian nearby, arranging the bedside table.  Cass downs the wine to calm herself, but it no longer is sweetened with foxwine.

The morning is followed by a pathetic attempt of Uvanla Yvarai to lie about not spying, and the odd presence of cats in the area.    But not as odd as Rio's encounter with jugs in the Red Room, or Ash's encounter with Tavlim Steele and his trusty notebook.  Ash finds the old Ven's calculations frustration and curses him to never open his notebook again.  Gilian corners Uvanla and attempts to ask more about what is going on, but he insists to explain things only once they are private.  Gilian blackmails Uvanla to agree to be Cassalanter's Seneschal in return for her silence.  Gilian walks off, smiling at her success.

The morning, however, does bring Nerea's challenge to Galeo for a duel back into the forefront, and she proclaims a default win unless someone champions her.  Cass rises to be her "family's honor's keeper."  Many think it is part of the events.  Nerea claims to have been Insulted when "Galeo" accused her of Murder.  She asks if this solidifies her victory and innocence or not, given Cass is either standing to congratulate her or to challenge her.  Cass declares she comes to challenge her, so Maja Thayl comes forth to preside in the Duel.  Noting their lack of swords, Maja offers Cass a sword.  Nerea plunges her hands into her skirt to reveal blades.  "I dressed for this."

Dalvinosh Steele watches from the distance.  Rio watches him in return.  The Duel begins, with Cass setting the terms to first blood.  But Nerea is Disarmingly Cunning, and she Reads More Than She Shows.  Rio calls out to Cass, asking if she still requires a sword.  The Wolves see Rio is offering a Bloodsword.  Ash warns Cass of the hat.  "If she wore it in this occasion, it is obviously a trap."  When Cass asks for a sword from Rio, Rio walks up to her and whispers to her earn a few words to guide her in the fight.  "The swords held by Nerea are a feint.   Her true sword is the one attached to her dress.  Once she draws that, she is no longer pinned by her dress and she will move blindingly quick! You must defeat her before that point. Or deny her that release."

But that's when she throws an unexpected stroke of Cunning.  Nerea declares, "Let us see you face and wound a Marquese."  Cass realizes their titles are not equal.  And such a wound may be seen as an act against the Title, rather than the complaint.  But Cass reminds her she is a Steele.  "I am still a Steele.  I will do what I must. It is what the noblest of families must do."

"Then so shall I," Nerea, "I am certain your mother will be proud of you for what you are doing, given you are NOT Silja. Come at me."   Cass moves, believing Nerea does not anticipate her move.  She moves to Strike and Nerea moves to defend.  The probing strikes are kept from connecting with Nerea's clearly dominant Prowess.  She then binds their blades together in a sudden move.  During the lock, Nerea questions Cass if she is certain about defending her mother's memory this way given she never even bothered to become a Fox just like her.  Cass counters that she was always judged for the company she keeps.  "There is family, and there is Family."

"Then you defend a Memory and not the woman everyone else knows," Nerea releases the bind and backs away.  Cass questions that statement aloud, allowing all to hear that she might be defending someone she never met.  How everyone knows Galeo entered Solace while she was but a babe.  Nerea asks if she is defending a BROTHER she never knew.   Cass admits she defends the choices of one who let's me be so, because she knows her mother loves her so and would have wanted her to have so many things.

"Except... that," Nerea suggests, Galeo would not have approved of Cass being an Elk.  Cass tries to ask for a childhood memory to strike Nerea back, but instead hears in her head Galeo wishing Cass was an artist instead.  Nerea talks about the list of things Galeo did for what she believed in, including boring a son, losing a daughter, adopting an ork, and so much more.  "With that, the Steele insults the Silja.  This is the Legacy of Galeo Silja, a daughter who will insult the House of her own mother."

Nerea claims Cass may win this Duel.  She drops her swords.  "Show us how the Steele will insult the Silja."  Cass remembers Rio's warning, however, of the trick once her swords are down and remains defensive.  "Cut us Foxes down.  Given how the Elks have been acting, I am not surprised.  You have done it in the Senate halls. You might as well do it in Althuas."   Rio then realizes that Nerea is NOT using her trick.  She isn't planning to win.  Cass, however, does not see this.   She insists the Duel should end properly. Nerea admits she is still armed.  "All the Wolves know where."  Ash is a bit surprised she can see it too, but not quite grasping why given he is a Serpent.

Rio realizes how the Foxes have been losing seats in the Senate, and many have been losing their Titles as well.  While the Duel began with an attempt to defend Nerea's name from the Murder, she has taken Insult from the daughter of her sister proudly insulting the Silja name.    Insisting the duel will end properly, Cass remains still.  Nerea then strikes, throwing her hat that now is rimmed with razor edges!  Cass defends against the hat, parrying it.  It flies back towards Nerea and she catches it.  Cass closes in to strike, Nerea flings the hat away to allow the blade through.  As the blade thrusts into Nerea's skin, the hat clashes into something in the distance.  All turn to see it an inch from where Dalvinosh Steele was sitting.

"Declare it then.  Strip this Fox of her title and land," Nerea hisses at Cass then turns to all and announce, "I am guilty of Murder.  She has won the Duel.  You may announce your Complaint, Steele."

Cass declares that the Marquese had one point murdered he who would have been her brother.  Dalvinosh Steele asks if the Complaint is a Formal one that will come into Senate hands.  Cass declares she is satisfied for the outcome of the duel.  Cass, however, senses the advantage before her - as a Steele would - however she does stress once again there is family and there is Family.  She insists there will be no conflict between her and her aunt.  Nerea gasps.  Galeo would have felt cornered and dealt with this differently.  The matter is deemed settled by Dalvinosh Steele, "Which is good given the child was not Blooded. It was merely Property.  Now make amends."   Cass bows as graciously as she can.  Nerea stares at him stunned with rage.

Nerea and Cass leave, finding a renewed relationship.
Dalvinosh Steele mutters to himself that Cassalanter will be a problem.  The shadows on the wall begin to move away in response.   Rio sees this but keeps it to herself.


The bearded man with the short cropped hair talks to Ash about how terrible Bloodswords are in slicing away parts.  Ash wonders what the discussion is supposed to be, whether its a criticism on the weapons or praise.  The man claims to have never been a fan of them.  He prefers words rather than weapons.  "You don't look like a man who likes duels."

"Or you can say I have been in too many of them," Ash jokes back but sees the man is busy with a chain that ends with  a small pearl.    He excuses himself and hurries off.   He brings the pearl to his ear as he walks away.


"I admit, I expected trouble from that," Rio admits. "But I  guess we must remember, we do serve an Elk." Gilian and Ash and Rio see Uvanla arrive, wondering what he missed.  Gilian introduces him to them as their new Seneschal.  Uvanla agrees he will work for them in five days.  Rio ponders on the shadows and wonders if she should ask the one man who might know about these things:  Jaric Thayl.


Nerea tells Cass about how there are barely any Silja left in the Senate.  And their presence is only because of the Kether clan who have strong ties to Dalvinosh Steele.  "Time will come when you will have to decide: are you Steele, or are you Cassalanter?"


"Excuse me," a woman asks, but stops herself from asking Cass a question.  She then hurries off, whispering the word Artemesia into Cass' ear before she vanishes in the crowd.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

12 New Games this 2015

Like the previous year, I've challenged myself to play or run 12 new game systems this year.   I used to be so content playing just the World of Darkness, Dungeons and Dragons and the occasional Palladium game, that I didn't broaden my horizons with indie games and other lines.

Ever since I opened up my experiences to even more games, I've discovered new techniques, approaches and game systems that have enriched my gaming knowledge and skills in so many ways.  I encourage any of you readers out there to try challenging yourself to try 12 new games each year.

As of this post, my 2015 list includes the following games:
1) End Of the World
2) Don't Rest Your Head
7) Companions

I still have five more game systems to add to my list and it is only June.
Gaming life is good.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

GM Seminar #4: Always Play Your True Self

Rocky gave a talk on how we always eventually play our truest self in role-playing games during the fourth GM Seminar.  I will admit, I was very proud to see him in front of everyone as he gave his insight and sharing on gaming and how it can be quite revealing in more ways than expected for a player.  

The video is still being prepped, but in the mean time, you might wanna check out his Sway slides for the presentation which can be found in the following link:   https://sway.com/gA6HKRyw8c-yJSRX

We have exciting plans for the month of July and we are eager to share more insight and thoughts on the hobby.  Maybe even someday creating a gaming focused event for everyone to check out?  

photo by Ayeda, Makati B&B

Other topics that day included the following:

Rayray gave a wonderful introductory talk on Shadowrun 5ed and even had us all have mock character sheets and gave an idea on how the systems work.

Lawrence talked once more about The 13th Age and why he loves it so much.

BJ shared the many shades of being a Rules Lawyer and how being more Judge than Lawyer is effective.

And finally, Marc, Mon and I invited people to submit possible setting/game ideas, and then with the audience's participation, we prepped a FATE game for it.

Special mentions: the Great Old One Adrian, his daughter Gia, and our good friend Erich, showed up and took part in the talk (and Erich also won in the FATE contest with his Gastronauts concept).
Sadly, we ended a bit too late for me to throw a free session of Parsley.  Maybe next time.  Given the plans for July, it is a tad sad that there is no June.  However, I will admit I am anxious to give another talk soon. Maybe about the different Indie Games one can play.  Or maybe about the many things you can do instead of kill a player-character (which connects to why I don't really grasp the fun of TPKing a group).  

Felt pretty proud of Rocky, watching him catch people off-guard on how many systems he had explored despite only getting into gaming last 2009.  And there will always be more gaming to come! 

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