Thursday, 27 May 2010

Tail and Talon: The Whole Sorry Affair (Part 2)

Fate didn't quite didn't deal us the hand (or roll us the crit as it were) we wanted as it went. In the wake of our first successful session we found it difficult to find the time to get together to follow it up. Getting hold of the DM was particularly difficult (Would've been easer if the bugger bothered to switch on his damn phone) so in the end we had to do something drastic to keep the momentum going. We recruited a new DM. This new DM had a flair for creativity and the theatrical, which was great, but he had even less experience with Dnd than we did. Worst of all was the fact that he's notorious for never finishing what he starts. But more on that later.

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Chapter 2
Jobs for the Boys

“Despite being mortal foes, the Yuan-ti enclaves and the Roc descendants were nothing but civil at times. Both were splinter groups of they're larger races and therefore neither had the backing from they're respective empires or families. Ultimately this led to them recruiting swords for hire and cutthroats, as well as offering deals to the local merchants that didn't ask too many questions.
With this in mind, it was not uncommon to see members of both factions frequenting the same inns and taverns on the lookout for such takers. Winterhaven was one such place that was solid gold for adventurers with more bravado than sense, and they were easily lured into such contracts. A month prior to the assassination, the Roc's managed to hire a trio of adventurers to take out a small Yuan-ti settlement. At the same time the Yuan-ti had decided to start playing dirty, hiring a local trader to start smuggling Roc eggs for the snakes to do with as they pleased, as opposed to the more 'honorable' method of winning them as spoils in open combat.
Unfortunately for the trader, he wasn't to know he was part of a larger plan, had he known this, he might not have met the fate he did”
- Roma Drangasti – Tail and Talon: Non Territorial Conflict and Mercenary Warfare during the Wandering War

So the second session kicks off with our new DM. Right away we're thrown head first into a whole new story. Our characters wake up in the morning to be greeted with a choice between two rival factions. The DM wasn't too familiar with the world of Dnd and wanted snake people versus bird men, which we got in the form of the Yuan-ti and consolidated with the creation of Roc descendants. We were allowed to choose which faction to side with, naturally given our characters predispositions we chose the slightly more justified side. Sometimes I wonder how it would have played out it we'd sided with the Yuan-ti. Though judging by the route the campaign took with the Roc's, there's no real way we can accurately estimate that notion.

“As cold as winters night. As cold as cold as a frosty morn. As cold as a penguins tip. But none as cold as Billy, he's dead, the poor fucker, he's dead”
- Proverb

So after a bit of of banter with each factions representative and a bar man that would show up far too often during the campaign, our characters were tasked with taking out a Yuan-ti settlement. En-rout our DM had us meet a suicidal woman on a bridge and then fight her zombified husband, which apparently made her less suicidal. With the settlement in sight, Trust preceded to bluff the Yuan-ti into believing that we were working for them, which she would attempt to do many many times during the campaign. Within the camp, Jocasta hits the bar for some Advocaat made from Roc eggs, Azreal questions a trader conspiring with the Yuan-ti and managed to extract nothing but a bunch of cigars from him, (actually to be fair, we did manage to figure out that he was smuggling said Roc eggs) and Trust skulked about a bit.
In the end, time was getting on and the DM tired a bit, having us take out the camp by throwing a cigar into what was either highly combustible manure or gunpowder, blowing the place up and having us ride off on stolen horses. Despite that fact that this was a bit of a cop out and thoroughly ridiculous, it felt fucking amazing! The whole session left us with a great feeling of satisfaction and optimism. A final message was sent to the previous DM. “You're Fired”

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Chapter 3
Those Meddling Kids

“Scargrill wasn't just any Yuan-ti officer of course. Like many people in power of his time, he could only be described as 'financially incontinent' in terms of stratagem and fortification. If anything could be bought and implemented, it was, no matter how counter-productive. Some of Scargrill's purchases included: An underground bunker. A river of acid to protect said bunkers entrance. An acid neutralization spell to allow safe passage through the river of acid. A wall of water to disguise said bunkers inner sanctum. A necromantic ward to protect recreational substances via undead warriors. Artificial sensory organs for said undead to be able to experience said substances. Kobolt warriors disguised as Yuan-it officers posted around the land. Solid gold shield. Vast Quantities of Manure.
Despite all this, his killers managed to not only demolish most of his camp one night, then return to waltz right in to his bunker and finish him off the next. Remember kids: A cheap arse may embarrass himself for a moment, but a big spender can embarrass himself for the rest of his life”
- Mr Bronson - Speech to Year 7 on the values of saving money

Next session its back to town to claim our reward. Unfortunately, the Roc representative has been murdered. No prizes for guessing it was his opposite number on the Yuan-ti's side, who Jocasta, Trust and Azreal quickly chase down. But Behold! It is revealed that the Yuan-ti was actually a Kobolt in disguise! For no apparent reason!
From the corpse our heroes loot various bits and bobs, as usual Trust is quick to claim the massive diamond that was promised as reward, but Jocasta is savvy enough to see greater value in a smaller diamond. A diamond with a map engraved in it, illuminated around a room when shone over candlelight. The map leads to the mountains. Along the way our characters give the grieving wife a wave and stop off at the ruins of the Yuan-it camp for salvage. Where we get to experience the joys of the commanders bunker. After being stalked by an undead warrior that eventually got tired and wandered off, they cross a river of acid that has no effect on anyone living. Or dead for that matter.
Once we reach the center our characters battle the wounded commander, and as before, Trust is the first to the loot. Oh well. Heading to the mountains, we are greeted with a glorious palace of ice. And its guards. Though greeted may have been the wrong word. More, told to bugger off.

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Chapter 4
Up the Junction

“For his part in the conspiracy, barman Lythander Kryptmn was offered the usual reward. His weight in gold and jewels. The Yuan-ti weren't the most inventive when it came to coaxing people over to they're own side, but they did make up for it in the sheer magnitude of precious mineral they offered.
Kryptmn was the second part of the grand conspiracy. The first, as we know, was the part played by the Mynderbynder & Mynderbynder trading syndicate, who's agents were responsible for the acquisition and smuggling of Roc eggs. For they're part Mynderbynder & Mynderbynder played for both sides of the conflict, being hired by one side to ensure the safety of a certain cargo and then selling it to the other. They're fickleness however, only aided the spreading of misinformation, which Kryptmn was hired to deal in.
At first glance the Roc egg theft seemed purely to be a dishonorable means of the Yuan-ti getting they're food. Kryptmn was hired to get the eggs back to the Roc nests, no questions asked, and ensure they're safety. Kryptmn's solution was nothing short of masterful, despite his claims that he was “making it up a he went along”.
Kryptmn was working undercover within the Roc palace in a tavern-cum-bordello. His courtesans were emotionless ice golems, sculpted into features of feminine beauty. Within however, were trained fire bats, who would melt out of the courtesans and murder wayward adventurers.
The Roc descendants had no interest in figures of human form, and after Mynderbynder & Mynderbynder's recent performance, didn't think much of they're hired swords going missing in the morning. Kryptmn was then free to use his necromancy on the corpses, sending them off as zombies, to protect the eggs deadly cargo...”
- Silvio de Blum - The Ragnar Conspiritors: The Beginning

The forth session was laugh a minute as the characters bummed around the Ice palace. Keeping the averages up, Trust managed to bluff our hosts into giving them an extremely large reward, only for this to backfire when the DM decided to give Jocasta and Azreal larger rewards because the Roc's 'didn't like her'. We're then give us a quest to go and put a protective ward over some Roc eggs that are endangered by zombies or something.
Funtimes for all. Trust tortures a captive Yuan-it held partially in a block of ice while the other two turn a blind eye. Absolutely nothing is learned. Jocasta hits the bar, again. This time though she's intrigued by the ice maidens, so hires one out for the night, if anything to see if there was anything behind the emotionless facade. I was fully expecting them to be not nearly as emotionless as they appeared, but got more than I bargained for when It melted and a flaming bat exploded out of its torso, Right in the middle of Trust giving Jocasta a 'responsibility' speech (Ironic, coming from a torturer). Shortly after Azreal arrives and the battle begins.
Unfortunately our DM got the hit points and the experience points mixed up, so it took a tad longer than it should have done. Later the dogey bar man who keeps showing up at every bar is perused into caves under the palace, which lead to the nest that contains the Roc eggs. Dun Dun Dunnnnn!
The session ends mid battle against a hoard of zombies. We take a picture of the battle so we can remember the positions, and then lose said picture before the next session. Doh!

Concludes Shortly...

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Tail and Talon: The Whole Sorry Affair (Part 1)

“The almost nonevent that was the Wandering War of is perhaps one of the finest examples of a conflict fought without any desire for territory. The conflict between the Roc Descendants and the Yuan-ti Enclaves was brought about purely by natural selection alone, the Lizards fed on the eggs of young birds, the Birds fed on the dyeing old lizards. Depending on you're point of view, both sides were either entirely justified In they're aggression or not at all.
Irrespective of the causes and effects of the conflict, and indeed the rather unique qualities of a war fought purely with the intent of exterminating the other side, that is not what I am writing to discuss today. The wars effect on military dogma and social community at the time will (and has) be discussed by many better social thinkers than myself. Rather, today I am writing about one particular event in the wars era, the assassination of the Yuan-ti high command, an event brought about only by the wars rather unique circumstances”
- Roma Drangasti – Tail and Talon: Non Territorial Conflict and Mercenary Warfare during the Wandering War

Being the first in hopefully many Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, the now named Tail and Talon was the first blooding of me and my friends at Dnd and indeed role playing in general. Getting the whole thing going was hard enough, and was brought to a sadly abrupt end. The First session was made up of three players (one being myself) and one DM, being the only one with experience in dnd, we thought him best for the role. Funny how things would turn out.


“Jocasta Lacroix had already quite a reputation before her part in the Wandering War. Born a half-elf orphan in a small rural village, she left early in life due to the locals misgivings towards her promiscuity and rather aggressive attraction to members of her own gender. Shortly after she would join the Andovian city guard. Her career was reasonable enough, but eventually she found herself cast out after an incident involving a succubus and and erinyes infiltrating the city. Jocasta successfully managed to save the city by keeping the creatures occupied, but her methods used were considered high risk and as such her employment was terminated.
Shortly after, Jocasta entered mercenary work, where she honed most of her ranger skills (and a few other talents). Her employment mostly consisted of body guard work for princesses and priestesses, though her interest in said clients often earned her declined pay and a slap in the face (unless it was a good day), which soon led to her taking more colourful contracts, which would eventually lead her to fighting in the Andovian-Wardovian civil war. Shortly after the wars conclusion she disappeared for a time, only to show up a year later with tales of 'other worlds' (most likely she had been planewalking, but there are no known sources to confirm this), and soon returned to private military contracting.”
- Alysoun Mifflinburg – No Dykes to Watch Out For: Mercenaries on the Road Less Traveled

Jocasta started life as a wet dream with a sword and a shield, I won't deny that, but the fact that she became something far more interesting says more about role playing than it does about me. Jocasta was the first character I created for a computer RPG which wasn't just a representation of myself, and in a sense was my first real crack of playing a role rather than doing what I'd do if I were there. I made her an aggressive lesbian because I couldn't think of anything more strange than that in a tolken-esque fantasy world, and by and large, Neverwinter Nights 2 pretty much gave me the freedom to do just that. By the end of NWN2 and its expansion , which resulted in a heart wrenching conclusion, Jocasta had grown on me like an extra tooth. She was soon added to the crossover cosmology of fictional worlds within my own head, and ultimately not bringing her back for a full blown dnd campaign would have been both an injustice to her, and myself.


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“Of Trust (Surname: Unknown) little is concrete knowledge. Like most Tieflings she was an unregistered birth, and her sociopathic tendencies would indicate either the lack of known siblings or a bad experience with one in the past. Trust made her trade through pickpocketing and confidence trickery. Had she stuck in one place for long she may have found herself scouted for membership into a resident thieves guild, but as it was, her loner lifestyle led her from one city to another. Her streetwise knowledge and survival instincts would keep Trust alive long enough to leave the shadows and inadvertently enter the limelight. After a brief stint in Andavia prison Trust would be approached by notorious bedwrecker Jocasta Lacroix.
Jocasta no doubt as unofficial hearsay has taught us, had only one thing on her mind, but Trust stonewalled the half-elf's advances, instead negotiating a cut in Jocasta's mercenary work, and the two of them became partners of moderate success. When word came of the local lords of Winterhaven paying good rates for the return of salvaged artifacts, it was time for fate to come knocking on Trusts door, to prove that even demon blood can play a part in the preservation of international peace.”
- Ezio de Sirenze – Here We Stand: The Teifling Peoples Road to Acceptance

Trust was the second female in the group, created by my friend who has a rather twisted sense of wit. Trust would certainly come in useful in game terms, and my friend chose to play her as vindictively as possible, resorting to pickpocketing and stealing at every available opportunity, especially from his own group members, and many a game would dissolve into a mad dash for loot as Trust would always attempt to get the most valuable items available, then bluff that there was none, which led to the rest of us pouring skill points into countering bluff.
Naturally the way Jocasta was played made Trust an obvious target for her affections (nee: randyness), and every attempt to seduce her was made, but unfortunately to no avail. This was all made even funnier by the fact that Trust would often attempt to seduce various male characters to coax more money or information out of them, and as with Jocasta's attempts, this fell flat every time.

“A Stoic, quite sole, the inner mind of Azreal of the Order of Bahamut was a closely kept secret, even to himself. Living the holy life in the chapter house at Kamalot, his masters eagerly awaited the day Azrael would leave the confines of the quiet stone walls to seek glory in his gods name, proving his worth to the order. This would be a long time coming however, as Azreal's dedication to occupying the chapter house, was almost indomitable.
Eventually his masters chose to favor Azreal with a most sacred mission, to travel to the small town of Winterhaven to secure its holy relics and prevent them from falling into the hands of the unworthy. Azreal was sent on his way with only a great axe, longcoat and everburning cigar to his name. He was soon joined by two serfs, who aided him on his journey, but the gods smiled on Azreal, for they knew he was destined for greater things. History would follow its course, and Azreal would successfully lead the assassination that would end the Wandering War. Weather Azreal subtly manipulated events to lead to this most glorious act, or merely followed the hand of his god unquestionably, is an enigma that haunts many historians to this day.”
- Tomas of the order of Bahamut – Oh Shining Day!: The Exalted of Bahamut

Finally we were joined by Azreal, my friends paladin who was occupied by a model of Ursarkar Creed from Warhammer 40'000, which led to many running jokes involving his longcoat and cigars, which despite being a lawful good paladin, would turn out to be the characters only motivation. My friend was probably the least into role playing and the most into skull smashing, and thus there were few dimensions to Azrael. As such my friend also found the lawful good alignment somewhat restrictive when he always wanted to go for the violent option.
Despite all this, Azreal remains probably the most well rounded character between Jocasta and Trusts extreme personalities. Given time and perhaps a retool of the character, Azreal could have developed into a more complex soul, so future campaigns may see him continue the fight for the glory of tobacco

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Chapter 1
Livin' Lovin' Losin'

“Day 1143768 – As per usual the kobolts are causing trouble on the roads, being a mixed blessing as they're presence here helps convey the illusion that Winterhaven is the capital city of adventure. As per usual a bunch of adventurers stumbled into town with said illusion. Logged In: One Human Paladin, One Half-Elf Ranger, One Tiefling Rogue (John, these Tieflings are becoming more and more common, I'm not a judgmental man, but I swear if I see any more I'm going to have to start a toll gate). Upon entering the village the adventurers followed the usual routine, talk a bit about the keep, ask for some help etc. Half-Elf Ranger was incapacitated for the rest of the day from consuming dwarfish spirits. Logged Out: Half a Liter of Dwarvern Tallisker. The other two went around town trying to scrounge some info, usual scratch-my-back-scratch yours follows. That Elvish womans being stupidly cryptic again, I wish she'd stick to the program and not act like Lord bloody Soze. Also, what the hell is that Dwarf Bard doing here? Logged Out: Two Rooms, Standard Candles and Cleaning Costs
Day 1143769 – Tiefling tried to woo the Lord, Hilarious. Logged Out: 3 Standard Meals. Adventurers split off for more info. Locals feed them the usual kobolt problem line. Trio are particularly troublesome when it comes to this errand, demanding money up front, horses etc. Tiefling tries to woo stablemaster, hits her in the tail with a horse shoe, Hilarious. Logged Out: 3 Horses.”
- Winterhaven Logbook – Exhibit B in the People of Winterhaven vs The Freedom of Information Act, AKA The 'Chosen Ones Join Queue Here' Case

Our First session got to a decent enough start, with the DM using the stock campaign that came with the Dnd 4th ed starter set. I was the only one with a properly painted model, but we had plenty of old Warhammer models and online floorplans to keep us going. Also me and the DM were the only ones with dice, go figure. The DM was chosen as previously mentioned, because he was the most familiar with the game, and because he'd announced that his character would be represented by a pound coin otherwise. The first battle was a toughie, mainly because the DM misinterpreted the rules, making our rolls against the kobolts much less effective (If you think this is bad though, wait till you see what our other DM does later).
Shortly after in the tavern Jocasta fails a test to see if her boasting about being able to stomach alcohol was true or not. It wasn't. All in all I thought the DM was a bit harsh on me, especially since it was my first ever game, and rendered Jocasta unconscious for a full game day. Later on he also introduced us to both his own character and a female elf, both of which were wayyyy too cryptic, earning him a bit of a reputation by making every character sound like they have a hidden agenda. Also, Trust spent ages trying to coax the reward out of a side quest without doing it. In the end, Jocasta and Azreal voted to do the quest anyway, which is where our second session would start.

Continues Shortly...