Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Necromancer's Legacy - part 62: The Siege of Neddam, episode 2

As a new day dawns Charon, Horacio and Thriatos enjoys a good breakfast after their excellent results on the previous day. They are interrupted by lieutenant Tyras who wants them to come to the city walls. Finishing with haste they follow the commander and discovers that the enemy has started to construct massive siege towers - clearly yesterday's actions have raised the stakes.

Its soon a race against time as the defenders work hard on their own preparations. Copies of the demonic ballistae are produced by the city's craftsmen, the mages summon rains to turn the fields in front of the walls into a swamp and oil is collected from the city's lighthouse to be used in the defense. Horacio also commands the wizard house to produce elixirs for night vision, should they later decide to sally forth in the darkness. At the same time the extra food - which now seems a bit superfluous - have started to arrive. Confident they've done what they could, as the dusk settles the mages go to bed.

While the sleep is good they are awoken early by the news that the enemy has, protected by the mists from the endless rains outside the walls, landed a small force on the island Karnor, housing the city's Lighthouse. As the island is connected to the city's unprotected harbour via several islands and bridges the attackers have opened up a second front and appear to be digging in. Hurriedly, Horacio takes the lead and gathers a company of mages and soldiers to attempt to repell the landing force.

At the small Island of Langlong, which houses the only guard tower between Karnor and the rest of the city, the force is greeted by relieved city guards who had expected to be overrun at any moment. They can report that almost two companies of legionnaires have made their way ashore and for Charon, Horacio and Thriatos it is clear they must act now. They command their accompanying mages to summon forth servants - be they demonic or elemental - to bolster their numbers. As not all mages are used to handling this kind of pressure a demon is set loose and attacks but Thriatos is quick to capture it. But the commotion gives the legionnaires time to prepare a defensive formation around the Karnor bridge.

As the battle begins Horacio and Thriatos use aeromancy to weaken the enemy's formation followed by a charge of demons and elementals across the bridge and a barrage of spells from the mages. Again, some of the mages fail to control their spells and soon the battlefield is haunted by a lightning storm and fires rage in the tall grass of the island, killing attackers and defenders alike. At this point lieutenant Tyras personally leads a charge with his soldiers towards the weakened legionnaire ranks. Attacking in a wedge against the center of the enemy formation, Horacio and Thriatos batter the flanks using pyromancy. Charon meanwhile spots the enemy commander and gathering a few mages he manage to get close enough to kill the commander with a necromantic spell. Buckling under the pressure the legionnaires' left flank starts to retreat while the the center and right is broken and routs. The even battle is turned into a great victory as only a handfull of legionnaires manage to leave the island before being captured. Leaving a few scouts behind the defenders return triumphantly to the city and the attackers' plans are halted for the rest of the day.

As a new day dawns the siege towers stand ready with grim determination. The summoned rains are banished - which suits the defenders just fine as they prefer a clear aim for their Archers and the ground is already saturated with water. Despite the muddy ground the attackers manage to move the siege towers forward - each pushed by four massive earth elementals. Fire from the newly constructed ballistae have limited effects on the giants so is instead directed towards the towers, aiming to kill the soldiers waiting inside. Horacio sends Soraman to the wizard house to find any banishing spells they might have while Charon and Thriatos commence a ritual to attempt to disspell one of the elementals. While successful, the crumbling giant creates an earthquake as it is absorbed into the ground - bringing one of the towers off course, thus delaying its arrival to the walls. As the other towers reach the walls Charon implodes the landing gate, exposing the soldiers behind to a rain of stones and arrows.  

The battle for Neddam has begun.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Necromancer's Legacy - part 62: The Siege of Neddam, episode 1

Charon, Thriatos and Horacio find themselves on the road to Neddam. Their guide Pater, who works for Acidus' spymaster Jonicus, helps them with the practical arrangements as they need to smuggle themselves into the city. The plan goes well and a day later the three find themselves safely behind the walls of Neddam.

As they arrive in the city they are greeted by Acidus second in command, Soraman, who in the grandmaster's absence leads the mages of house Caeduis. Showing them their quarters Soraman explains they will meet lieutenant Tyras in the morning who will talk to them concerning the city's defenses.

As the new day dawns the mages follow Tyras around on his tour of the city. He explains that the governor is currently laying siege as his goal is to conquer the city, not raise it. While the city's supplies are good for another month the lieutenant fear that the population might rebell if the situation haven't been solved until then. The mages all agree they do best in increasing the pressure on governor Rubaros' forces and split up to work on their separate solutions. Charon draws inspiration from the botched gremlin crossbow-deal and seeks out the city's craftsmen to see if they can provide him with something similar, but without any schematics he has little luck in this. Thriatos and Horacio plow through the ends of the wizard house's library to see if any spells that might be of use can be found.

After a few days of research Thriatos concludes that a simple spell to increase the range of the defender's projectiles could force the attackers to give up ground and move back their positions. Horacio commenders some of the wizard adepts to learn such a spell. Meanwhile, Charon has not given up on his idea of a large crossbow or ballistae and decides that demonic help is the best solution. With Thriatos' aid a demon is summoned who agrees to help in exchange for a second summoning within the Imperial capital. After some consideration the men agrees.

Judging progress is as good as it can be, Charon now diverts his time and energy to convince the city's dux to spend more money on food supplies. The dux reluctantly agree to match any offer the wizard house makes and 50,000 gold later the city has invested in supplies for another two weeks. Charon quite unabashed pass his half of the bill on to Soraman, who agrees it might be for the best but suggests the three keep quiet about it to avoid getting enemies among the other mages. As for transport, the ever willing captain Scaurus is more than happy to ferry food to the city for a price.

A few days later Charon receives his ballistae from the demon and they decide to stir the hornets' nest by aiming it at the enemies main camp. As the bolt lodges itself firmly in the ground next to their largest campfire the soldiers quickly catch up on the message and within an hour they are moving their tents further away from the walls. With all the commotion going on Thriatos and Horacio gather as many conjurers as they can find and summon a small horde of imps which they send to assault the busy soldiers. While not posing much of a threat, the imps do start quite a few fires, topple a couple of supply-laiden carts and startle many horses and other animals. Shortly, it is a provication hard to ignore...

Friday, July 10, 2015

What's your personality?

A small update to the core rule book have now been uploaded to the site.

Actually you don't need your PC at all since its, you know, a book...

Apart from some markup regarding headers, small fixes and so on there are 3 larger changes:

1) Traits have new effects! Trying to map the current traits to modern psychology* (check out http://www.16personalities.com/ for a reference) the following is now true:
Loyalty grants a bonus when Lending Aid but might also force a character to do so even when its not a good tactical decision.
Honor helps overcoming Fear but might also force a character to uphold his or her ideals in dangerous situations.
Empathy grants a bonus to Social skills when trying to help others while increasing difficulty when attempting to hinder others.
Aggression grants a bonus to Toughness and Willpower skills but increases a character's tendency to violence.
Greediness enhances a character's Perception based skills but can force the character to make dangerous choices in order to keep his or her personal items in difficult situations.
Faith also helps a character to overcome Fear (stacking with Honor) but will also force the character to adhere to the teachings of his or her faith, disregarding the consequences.

- As usual it is up to the GM to decide how much to rely on these new rules, which can be seen as an inspirational source.

2) Craftmanship, that is to say quality, of weapons and armor have been changed to make more of a difference. This in combination with a new durability system will make it more worthwhile to pay the extra silver/pounds/credits that a quality item requires.

3)  Rules concerning Drugs have been revised and altered to depend on TOU rather than WIL for addiction checks. WIL still comes into play when a character is trying to detoxify him or herself, but it is deemed more realistic that a character's physical resilience determine a drug's effects.

* The idea is that Loyalty corresponds to the Mind (Introvert/Extravert) trait; not trying to state that introverts are less loyal but merely that they work better with themselves in focus. Honor corresponds to the Tactics (Prospecting/Judging) trait, where a prospecting character is more tactically adaptive while the judging more prone to defend his or her position. Empathy quite nicely matches the Nature (Thinking/Feeling) trait; again not saying Thinking individuals are less empathic but merely that they resort to logical reasoning before bringing feelings into the picture. Aggression and Greediness are a bit tricky but are roughly tied to the Energy (Intuitive/Observant) trait, with high values corresponding to a more down-to-earth kind of perception which forces a character to take such things into account. The more flexible lower values leaves a character free to act as he or she feel is best. A rather far-fetched interpretation to be sure, but hopefully not extremly so. And lastly there is Faith which is matched with the Identity (Turbulent/Assertive) trait, where a high value forces a more predictable course of action and a low allows for more personal freedom.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Necromancer's Legacy - part 61

Back in Lao-Din Gamaral is preparing a teleportation spell to take Azela, Geb, Kael, Zantana, Valerian and Sikra to the castle under siege by Merga's forces. A moment later the surrounding have changed from the rather polished interior of the wizard house to a set of old and battered stone walls. Mages, accompanied by a number of servants, wander the walls and except for the closed portcullis the situation doesn't seem very threatening for the moment.

A guide which has accompanied them from Lao-Din show them inside the castle keep which appears to be in decent condition. While Valerian and Sikra are shown to their quarters and given time to rest the undead start learning their way around the castle. While the sun settles they later regroup to discuss tactics for the coming battle. As the castle is well warded from scrying Merga is assumed to have few options but to either assault the castle walls or teleport to the courtyard. Either way the group plan to face him as he tries to enter the keep. Besides the defending mages they distribute a number of barrels containing naphtha from the castle's supplies to be used against their enemies.

During the night Sikra experiences a strange dream and wakes up only to find a tall man standing next to her bed. The man introduces himself as Karachen and asks for her aid in returning to the castle, which he claims to be his. In return he offers to aid her in defeating the opponents now laying siege. Sikra is inquisitive, but more out of curiosity than suspicion, and manages to learn that the man can be returned with the aid of an artifact which is supposedly hidden somewhere within the castle. He also tells her of a locked room next to her quarters where the artifact must be used in order to summon him. While Sikra considers her options the man appears to fade away and awaking a second time she realize this too was part of the dream. Feeling rather rested she decides to investigare and head over to the castle library to try to learn more about the name 'Karachen'.

As most mages and servants are busy with the defenses the library is empty apart from one sleeping adept. Sikra ignores him and starts looking through the books, finding that many of them appears to be written by Karachen himself and given the contents he must have been quite the conjurer. Next to the sleeping adept she finds an inventory list over artifacts collected within the castle - one of the entries appears to match the item Karachen described in her dream. According to the list the artifact is now in the possession of archmage Zhovira who is managing the castle.

Unknown to Sikra as she searches the library a horde of zombies have begun assaulting the castle gate. The mages engage them with spells until Valerian appears, suggesting the naphtha to be a less tolling option. A moment later the gate bathes in flames as tall as five full-grown men and Valerian feels he has done his part in the defense so return inside for some breakfast. There he runs into Zantana who informs him that is parter has just wandered inside the archmage's quarters and is going through her things. As he goes to ask her about this Sikra has already found what she was looking for: an enchanted staff with strange runes and engravings. Accompanied by Valerian and Zantana she heads over to the locked room close to her quarters. Zantana agrees to open the lock but not without learning what's going on. As she isn't quite sure herself Sikra merely tells that she intends to call upon certain defenses hidden within the castle. Inside the room they find a summoning circle and after placing the staff in the center a circle of light appears. It blinds them temporarily and then subside to reveal a scarred and scrawny man. Sikra recognizes him from her dream and while he appears lost at first he quickly recovers and asks to be taken to his summoning chambers in the castle's left wing. They hurry over there but as they arrive Karachen declares he needs to be alone and not to be disturbed. Sikra agrees to keep guard while Valerian and Zantana head back to check on the battle.

Climbing the stairs to the walls Valerian arrive just in time to help beat back another attack against the gate. However, just as the last of the attackers fall down Merga and a group of robed mages teleport into the courtyard and begin killing off the exhausted defenders. Seeing where the battle is going both Valerian and Zantana decides not to get involved and soon all resistance is ended. The attackers then turn towards the keep and marches in through the open doors. But here they are charged by Kael and Geb who, supported by Azela and Gamaral is determined to stand firm.

Unaware of the danger to the keep Sikra can't keep herself back and takes a peak into the summoning room. She is quite shocked at the huge demon the conjurer has summoned and quickly close the door. While she thinks about how to react Karachen suddently emerges - no demon in sight - and says that it is time to act.

Closing in on the undead attackers from behind, Valerian and Sikra spots the emerging Karachen and joins up with Sikra. The four marches straight into the battle of the keep. As the old, thin man walks straight into the battle without a care the combatants are momentarily confused and the battle stops. Merga looks dismissively at the newcomer and sends a necromantic spell his way - a spell that has no apparent effect what so ever. Karachen counters by ripping the head off of one of Merga's lackeys after which the two mages grab each other in a firm grip. Both seems locked in the struggle and the battle around them briefly resumes until Karachen literally tares his opponent apart. A moment later the invaders are all dead.

Apparently unharmed but fatigued Karachen offers them all to stay for the night but expresses his wish that they leave his castle the following day. Having just seen the man destroy their most powerful enemy with his bare hands they all agree to be on the safe side and leave immediately. Thus, before the day is at an end they find themselves back in the city of Sunn.