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Out of the Abyss Enounters, 23 Sep 15

Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, Experimenting with the Event Deck, Ad Libbing out of my asshole.

Today starts the Party’s quest to get the bleep out of the Underdark, while the place is in Nutking Futz mode, all the while with the Drow from Velkynvelve in hot pursuit. The party once got out of a jam by using Wind Walk (from the Prayer Beads that they picked up from the previous campaign; remind me to nerf that while they’re still down there) which kept them some steps ahead of the drow, so that they can focus more on getting to Blingdenstone, and the nearest place to go back to the surface.

My method of travel had several stages per day, a stage to tell what lighting they’ll use, if they lost their way, if they could find food, and two possible events.  In some cases, I draw cards until I get a number card, and if it’s red, add 10 for a d20 roll.  The machine isn’t perfect, so I’ll be working on it for the next session.  The people on the table should know by now that I tend to work on mechanics as I go, and at times I get some feedback.

All the while trying to keep their Stress Quotient up. Unfortunately, some people in my party want to go insane! Like the guy (who is recovering from a scooter accident IRL) who just up and bit at a Shrieker! He got a nasty vision of the PAX Prime Acquisitions Incorporated session for his troubles. They also saw a good view of a rock octopus that could’ve been a demon in its own right. At least had enough Cthulhu theme to do some Stress Quotient damage. But I was too busy getting the hand of the traveling machine I’ve been working on. They also had some lights from fire beetles, which they can use when the moss—or the faerzress—isn’t present.

But then I ran into my own misguess on how much to prepare. The party managed to find their way to Sloopbludop, a village on the way to Blingdenstone, but something I didn’t prepare for. Therefore, I mostly ad-libbed their interactions with the Kuo-Toa where the party finds the populace split between those who worship the Sea Mother (the patron deity behind the Kuo-Toa) and this new Deep Father (which will be regarded as telling.) The followers of the Deep Father commandeered the party and the village elder fishhead (There’s a lot of yucks around when I described their arguing as a bunch of catfish swarming on a dock popping their mouths at the surface.) for a PC sacrifice. However, the Prayer Beads come into play again, when its owner summoned a Deva.

Next session’s encounter’s going to be a lot more interesting, let me tell you.

Meanwhile, a bit of Disappointment for Sword Coast Legends. And it’s not their moving the launch date to October 20 (At least they’re granting me Head Start Access). I found out that I can’t set up a 4 custom PC character party at the start. I have to start with Marcie and use three NPCs to work with. Oh well, I can adjust.

ÆTHERCOIL Worldbuilding Blog Entry 4

“It began with the Cubs winning the World Series, and it went downhill from there. The world we knew collapsed under its own weight in the manner of years, vanishing into memory, and then not even that. A dark time befell this world, with warlords and tyrants ruling over the people, until a bright light appeared in the East, heralded by the Princesses driven them all away.

It is 300 years since the old world fell, and the world stands upon the beginning of a new renaissance. A coalition of bright kingdoms now explore the world around them, searching lost civilizations and rediscovering inventions to progress civilization. But evil and chaos are still present, and they lie in wait for an opportunity to reclaim their power. Heroes are called, and adventurers present themselves, as they begin the Age of Rediscovery.”

Now that I got what I hope is the most sensitive part about creating this world out of the way, I can move on to the better parts. I have some parts to work in now, but there’s going to be I need a sequential order in how to do it.

The next part of course is setting up a pantheon, but it’s currently incomplete. I’d like it to have an combination of several historical belief systems, classical fantasy settings with more traditional deities, some of my own unique spins on a couple belief systems, some deity-less religions, and any other cool stuff I can toss in. You’ve seen what I did with Jesus Christ—yes, he is Yeshu in the setting—and there may need to have Correlon, Moradin, and the many Dragon deities. (Note: There will be no demons or devils, but there will be beacoup dragons running amuck, some good, some bad.) Buddhism and Shintoism will be in play, with some Hindu, Norse, Aztec, Mayan, and North American beliefs tossed in for good measure. And then we deal with the Furry Race deities. That outta be fun.

Oh, and before you ask, there will be Cthulhu.

That presents the still-to-be-set thought in my head, and the best way for me to sort them out is to go through a global overview, where I break down each area on the planet and describe what happened to the region, some of the countries, and how they changed when the world turned from the modern world to Æthercoil.

But, before I can do that, I need to address something that definitely needs changing in my setting: Alignment.

Exit: Traditional D&D
Enter: Magic: The Gathering

I want to steer away from the traditional D&D alignment array for two reasons: One is because I wanted to focus more on the Lawful-Chaotic axis rather than Good-Evil. The other is that as a social construct goes, Good and Evil are suggestive. More often than not, in a severe pitched battle, both sides think they’re on the side of Good. It is when the leaders go into “Ends Justify the Means” is when one side is perceived to be Evil, even though they have the best of intentions.

Hence I needed a replacement of the two-axis alignment area for something that is more detailed and nuanced, and I found it in Wizards of the Coast’s other flagship product.

350px-Color_WheelMagic the Gathering’s Color Wheel can easily be plugged in place of traditional alignment, and I’ll be using it in Æthercoil. It addresses a character’s personality and drives before assessing the Goodness or Evilness of a character, and it allows for more nuanced morality scenarios.

Mark Rosewater has made, and revisited a series of five articles that describe each of these colors, which can easily translate into using the Color Wheel as Alignment.  I’ll include them in the below table, with descriptions I gathered elsewhere in Wikipedia and (References: [1]; [2]; [3]; [4]. Don’t expect me to go create AMA-legal reference listings for every source I use just yet. I’ll wait until I make the initial manuscript for this setting for that, thank you very much)

As you would see, you are not focused on a particular color, you can have a combination of different colors which combine into a new alignment all its own. You can even take one alignment and ‘splash’ a bit of an outside color to further customize, or maybe even corrupt if need be, an alignment to suit your character.

But for right now, I’ll start with the basic five colors, the two-color guilds, and the three-color shards and wedges. That will result in 25 basic alignments, as opposed to the traditional 9, which I will work with as I continue worldbuilding.


Æthercoil Alignment Array

Color Magic Source Description
Basic Colors
W   The Great White Way Revisited by Mark Rosewater
U (U for Blue) True Blue Revisited by Mark Rosewater
B (B for Black) In the Black Revisited by Mark Rosewater
R   Seeing Red Revisited by Mark Rosewater
G   It’s Not Easy Being Green Revisited by Mark Rosewater
Two Color Combinations, aka ‘Guilds’
WR Boros The concept of Might equals Right, and that order and peace must be kept with the use of strength. Such belief can be channeled into a strong defense, but it can also be used as an overbearing and oppressive force.
GB Golgari Believing that Death is an important part of life, and that death should occur naturally in order for the life cycle to continue. Some GB-aligned beings might use plagues, poisons, and even necromancy to achieve this goal.
GW Selesnya Life should be in balance with the natural order of things. This is a traditional hippie and environmental mindset, but some take it to the point that individuality must be squelched in favor of the greater whole, sometimes to the point of hive minds.
UB Dmir Stay in shadows, keep your secrets close, and control the world from the background.   This might be needed for secure information networks, or the use of assassins and blackmail.
WB Orzhov The official alignment of Objectivism if there ever was one. WB people are true Randian heroes, focusing on their business and their own personal development for their own, and hopefully other’s betterment. Care must be taken to avoid the dreaded “Bioshock” scenario.
RG Gruul Be one with their savage nature, shun civilization, and be one with the wilderness.   Most Wild Elves will be RG as well as most native groups. RG groups can also strive to undo civilization’s efforts.
WU Azorius Always by the book, no matter the circumstances. Most government-related people have this alignment, either to maintain order or to ensure that their idea of order is uphealed by making everything else a crime against the state. Most people in the SJW movement are WU
BR Rakdos This is what Chaotic Neutral becomes. Enough Said.
GU Simic The alignment of Science. To experiment, explore, figure out how things work and how they can make it work for a better world. How to do it, however, depends on your own moral center.
Three Colors — Shards
RGW Naya Life, passion, community, and the wild—life is celebrated and instinct triumphs over machination. Here titanic predators are shown respect, while the intelligent peoples seek to revere and respect nature.
GWU Bant The alignment of benevolence and grace, where the dream of of an angelic utopia.   Conflicts are resolved through ritualized combat, and duty and honor are the bedrock of their kingdoms of light.   Most Paladins will be of this alignment
WUB Esper The alignment of magic and logic, where the brightest minds forever shine. Everything here is observed and controlled. The forces of high magic rule supreme.
UBR Grixis Necromancy rules supreme in this Alignment. The Undead and Dread Lords run the show, and what gets dead doesn’t stay dead around them. It is every ghoul, demon, and necromancer for themselves.
BRG Jund The law of the jungle, survival of the fittest.
Three Colors — Wedges
WBG Abzan We must all stand together as one in order to survive. Duty and Family are mainstays, as well as a strong defense—including an overpowering offence—against all who would wish to destroy them. Ancestral traditions and maintaining a connection with those before them are hallmarks as well.
URW Jeskai The alignment of martial artists, mystics, and wandering warriors. The ultimate goal is discovery and enlightenment, constantly striving to ascend to every greater levels. Cunning and Strategy are hallmarks, and age is something to be revered.
BGU Sultai Ruthless and Exploitive, this alignment is the Lawful Evil alignment. No action is beneath those who want to get ahead at all costs. Even to the point of using people as mere tools and discarded when they’re outlived their usefulness. Most of the rulers of this world until the Ascent of the Princesses were of this Alignment.
RWB Mardu Strike Hard, Strike Fast, and overwhelm everybody in the way. Live for the moment, You Only Live Once, and all that jazz. These people just flit between one awesome thing to the next, without any care of the past or plan for the present. He who dies with an empty bucket list wins.
GWR Temur Be strong, be fierce and be sufficient. Bow but not break, bloodied but not fallen. Pain is temporary but Glory is forever. When everyone tells you to move, your job is to plant yourself by your own convictions and morals and say “No, you move.”

With this list and the related sources stashed in my One Note, I think I have the needed tools to go on with the world-building. Entry #5 will have more big-picture information as I go around the planet and break things down region by region. Another mind-map will be in order.

Oh, and by the way, will I be picking any other inspirations from M:TG? I think I already have: Jeshu’s past is pretty much set in religious records, certia -2XXX WR. I just outed him as Jesus Christ at the top of this blog entry after all. Most of you have already know his story, especially if you’ve seen Passion Play movies. Now keep in mind that a Planeswalker Spark usually ignites in moments of extreme stress or a pivotal moment.

Getting Crucified seems stressful enough to ignite a Planeswalker’s Spark, wouldn’t you say?

And he did get up some time afterward. Later on he even walked up a mountain, continued walking to air, and then vanished. That’s looks like a Planeswalker to me.

What we have here is an example of spiritual exegesis that doesn’t suck.

The Cold doesn’t bother me…but…

…I knew it would bother some of my players to have to lug around in sub zero wind chills last Wednesday (18 Feb 15).  Hence I cancelled Encounters last week.  Fortunately I have a couple blockbuster climatic encounters for the next two weeks–the final weeks of Hoard of the Dragon Queen–and have it done in time to start the next season, Princes of the Apocalypse.

Getting it video casted, however, will take some doing, becuase I have some problems getting a decent computer set up right.  I need to get a new one for the Twitch Channel which will show online games as well as showing artwork, which will occur in a couple months, but I think I can get something working in the interim:

phpotywzkMeet the Raspberry Pi.  A fully functional–if not exceptionally powerful–computer the size of a credit card.  The card itself is $35, which goes to about $50-60 when you add the other necessities like the Micro SD card for the hard drive, and a compatable video cable.

This is essentially a hobbiest computer, capable of powering robots and creating your own personalized Game Boy.  But I wager that it could make a decent video camera as well, since I have a web camera, some spare extra components (Like a mouse and keyboard) and a spare monitor to hook this baby up to.

It’ll cost me about $80 for all the parts, but I think I can have a great video recording device out of this machine, which will be perfect for recording videos.  And it’ll be well into my budget to boot.

I’ll let you know how this bit comes up.

Win 10 will be a free Upgrade

I’ve been bullish on Windows since Windows 7, which at the time was, to me, a perfect OS.  I found out that Wndows 10 (There was a line of legacy code in many programs that caused Microsoft to skip a numbers) proved that Microsoft is capable of learning from their mistakes (Win 8, natch) and today I learned that they have learned the same with their pricing strategy.

For a limited time, all upgrades from not just 8.1, but from 7, will be free.  This will be an excellent chance for me to install a much needed new OS over a two year old installation (which does tend to get clunky) .  And I did intend to do that skip over from 7 to 10 anyway.

Microsoft is also planning their own holographic glasses (which looks a bit clunkier than Google Glass, but I’d still try it.) as well as a new Web Browser (Although I’ll wait til the beta’s out before I pass judgement on Spartan.)  For a comany that I formerly derided because I couldn’t stand XP (I was a dedicated Linux user for a time) Microsoft proves time and time again that they’re capable of listening to their customers.  Which, if they want to keep their top dog status in the computing world, is vital.

Encounters Update: Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Jan 21

Trigger Warning: Spoilers

With the next season announced (Princes of the Apocalypse) in April, I knew I had to stop dilly dallying in the Castle Raerythar chapter. I just didn’t expect it to end so soon.

Since this is the start of my public updates, which begin strange enough in the middle of the season—what can I say? It’s a new year’s resolution—I felt that the above ‘Trigger Warning’ is required. Also, keep in mind that what happens in my campaign will NEVER match that of WotC’s official narrative. Not only will it be different, it’ll also take place in a persistent world: Previous campaigns affected “Hoard of the Dragon Queen” which will in turn affect “Princes of the Apocalypse”)

It started with a recap of the earlier fuck-up from one of the players: I have it so that Dralmorrer Borngray has captured one of the PCs because he was screwing around in a conspicuously placed hoard of gold. I’ve taken that PC somewhere in the next chapter so that the players, including a new PC, had to pursue him, which required finding the command word for the portal to the next chapter.

What I didn’t count on is that everything the players need is in one part of the castle: The Chapel, which included the library where the command word—which I’ve revised—is located. Add that to the dungeon zone where they made a surprise beeline to the portal circle and they ended up clearing the chapter.

Of course, that means leaving a perfectly good castle still relatively untouched. Dralmorrer and Pharblex are still alive, and possibly still in the castle. Just as I was planning on repurposing said castle for a different purpose.

That will, of course, give me an opportunity to create a stand-alone module for Castle Raerythar. It’ll be easy for me to remix the whole chapter into a post-Tyranny of Dragons scenario and add it to my world:

Adventure Hook: A loose end has been discovered in the aftermath of Tiamat’s attempt to return: There was a report that Castle Raerythar, a former stronghold of the Cult of the Dragon, contains a vast library of books, records, and other writings compiling an extensive history of the Sword Coast region. Such a collection can prove vital to the historical knowledge for many groups, including the Harpers, Lord’s Alliance, and the Gauntlet. You and your group are given the opportunity to enter this castle and secure the library for the prosperity of the Realms.

It’ll take me some time to create this module, I’ll probably work on it in February, but I do intend to make the revised Castle Raerythar for my own use. A PDF of the module will be made available for download as well once all the bugs are ironed out.

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