A Sundered World: Episode 103

  • Agron (level 3 scion psion)
  • Katra "Crazy Gin" (level 2 kobold pirate)
  • Sift (level 2 deva shaman)
  • Sirus "Ironhide" (level 2 tarchon battlemind)
  • Waive (level 2 scion nomad)

With their initial hire inexplicably vanishing without a trace, the party asked Meg if she knew of any other capable healers looking for work.

As luck would have it she did: a very...tranquil and socially awkward deva shaman named Sift. He spoke slowly and had a penchant for overindulging in what he referred to as "openers", which fortunately didn't interfere with his spirit's potent healing magic.

They met and, after a sluggish and detailed conversation hired him, partially because he seemed competent, partially because they had no other options. Katra was in a celebratory mood, but since legal libations weren't strong enough to tickle her palette, she left with Ironhide and Sift in search of more potent potables.

The bar scene not being their scene, Agron and Waive went to the library in search of information on psionic powers and magical swords. The library was vast, with visitors, furnishings, and golden lanterns floating about between towering bookshelves. Agron could tell that the lanterns were intelligent, but when he tried to read their minds was surprised that they were not only able to repel his mental intrusion, but could force their way into his mind.

Which informed it of his soul-devouring sword and its agenda of devouring souls.

He quickly left the librarye and located an idyllic park so that he could meditate. He wasn't there long when he felt someone tap his shoulder, and when he opened his eyes saw...something looming over him. Near as he could tell it was humanoid enough in appearance, though much of it was concealed under white robes. Even so the head was strange enough in that it featured four faces: one was that of a scion, while the rest were various animals.

And floating just behind it was a golden lantern.

The scion face spoke to him, explaining that he was in possession of a restricted device. It had intended to followup with instructions on where to receive a license, but Agron interrupted it with...not-so-veiled threats. The entity's tone shifted as it told him that he was now under arrest for threatening an officer, and that if he attempted to resist would be obliterated.

At Geist's telepathic urging Agron surrendered. He was taken to the cathedral floating about the city, where he was interred in a spacious, luxurious cell that was, in his words, "befitting his station as a prince". The cell was sealed with a barrier of golden light, leaving him to peruse a stack of heavy tomes in search of a legal loophole.

Sift brought Katra and Ironhide to a literally underground bar. After bribing their way past the bouncer, a rock-like dwarf with mechanical limbs, they ordered a few drinks from a kytheran bartender who personally dispensed the beverages from one of his arms. After Ironhide somehow survived drinking what looked like a pitcher of lava, and besting someone in an arm-wrestling content, a choir of angels announced their arrival by blasting the door off the hinges.

They were led by a seraphim who was apparently familiar with Sift, but during the brawl that ensued he, along with Katra, Ironhide, and the barkeep, were able to escape through a passage behind one of the numerous swill tanks that lined the walls. Sift then lead them to his safehouse, but were quickly located by a cherubim officer. He attempted to arrest them, but after some tedious, circuitous dialogue with Sift conceded their innocence and left in frustration.

They returned to the ship in time to find Waive, who had returned from the library, learned that Agron had been arrested, and was gathering up the necessary funds to bail him out.

They were still on the ship when what looked like a colossal spike of bone—which Ironhide identified as a tarchon carrier—collided with the cathedral. Smaller shards of bone separated from it and rained down upon the city, punching through towers, ships, and people. When they came to a halt they split apart, and small bands of tarchons hauled themselves out of a crimson, gelatinous substance. The tarchons tore off chunks of the spikes, wielding them as weapons as they set upon angel and mortal alike.

The carrier was slowly driving itself through the cathedral, which was starting to dissipate back into astral essence as angelic hordes fought back with sword and light. Hoping that Agron was somehow still alive, they fired up the ship's engines and made a beeline for the cathedral, weaving through the rain of spikes as best they could.

When they arrived they saw Agron fighting a trio of tarchons at the entrance. He was clearly being overwhelmed, just barely keeping them at bay with a barrier of mental force. Unleashing a challenging roar Ironhide leaped into the fray, with Sift slowly floating after him. The tarchons turned just as Ironhide crashed into them, giving Agron the chance to flee back into the cathedral.

As Ironhide fought the other tarchons Sift released his spirit to heal him, while Waive appeared next to Agron. He told him what was going on as a tarchon easily twice as tall as Ironhide smashed through the stained glass ceiling, shaking the ground as he landed. He was followed by a squad of tarchons, and after ordering them to kill Waive and Agron began lumbering towards a golden door.

Waive taunted the giant tarchon and plunged his sword through a twist in space, making a barely perceptible scratch on his hand. This still drew his attention, which would have been bad enough if there weren't also six other tarchons with him. He advanced upon Waive, only stopping when Ironhide came rushing through the door, covered in blood.

The giant tarchon gave Ironhide an incredulous look before referring to him by his true name, Sirus. Though his form was markedly different, his voice was unmistakable: it was Panzer, one of the tarchons that had left him for dead so long ago. Overtaken with rage, Ironhide transformed both of his arms into blades, and told him that this time things would be different.

Panzer sneered in agreement, then with a loud crack his chest split open, revealing an intense fire within. The fire poured forth and enveloped his body. When the flames died down he had again changed: he stood on four taloned legs, his head was set upon a long, sinuous neck, and two broad, ashen wings grew from his back. His body looked to have been hewn from molten stone that cracked and dripped lava as he moved.

He was a dragon.

Behind the Scenes
Quick trip down memory lane: back when I was designing this campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons (4th Edition, of course), I was trying to find a way to fit in all the races: cambions were tieflings, cthon were genasi, dwarves were dwarves, etc.

Dragonborn were also in the mix, though they never made an appearance. I had written them to be born from the blood of Bahamut and Tiamat, who had both simultaneously killed each other during the Dawn War. Born from battle, the metallic and chromatic dragonborn had continued to fight each other in an effort to claim both of the Dragon-God corpses.

Partially since dragonborn is a product identity thing, partially since I've long since been moving away from "D&Disms" (which is why kobolds are spirits and ghouls can change their shape and appearance), I've also changed their name, appearance, history, and abilities.

When the gods and primordials fought they released the World Fish, Bahamut. It managed to take out a few on both sides before finally being slain, and as the blood of Bahamut, god, and primordial combined it gave rise to the tarchons (I forgot who suggested this name over whatever the hell I was originally calling them).

Born from the fury of cosmic-scale conflict and slaughter, they are constantly instilled with bloodlust. Tarchons start with a race move that imposes an ongoing penalty when there is a fight going on that they aren't part of. It lasts until they join the conflict or get away from it. They also gain a one-time damage bonus against whoever damages them.

One of the new things from A Sundered World is being able to choose between race and class moves as you level up: tarchon race moves let you gain a breath weapon, spend adventuring gear uses to produce weapons, deal more damage when you get hit, gain a constant damage bonus, and even turn into a dragon for a short period of time.

I had decided early on that the tarchons would be a potential front, along with several other possibilities that I don't want to reveal right now (since I might bring them in later). The only mental note I had on this session was that a tarchon army was going to attack the cathedral. I didn't think Chris's character was going to get imprisoned, but I think that just added to the tension as the carrier started boring through the cathedral while his character was still inside.

I've never ran a campaign in which the characters had to do things amid two warring armies. I divided the island into four sections, and had them defy danger to get through each section until they made it to the one that had the cathedral. I was going to have them take a detour, have the collidor suffer a malfunction, or get attacked and/or damaged as part of a soft or hard move, but Melissa kept rolling 10+'s with the ship's evasive maneuvers.

Oh well, at least we got to test out the ship moves a bit. I think they're still working as intended, though I should give her an actual sheet so we can better track weapon ammunition and fuel.

In the first session Shane explained that his character had been mutilated and left for dead by his tarchon squad after ordering a retreat (something tarchons almost never do). I happened to glance down at my notes right before he charged into the cathedral, and decided on the spot that the giant tarchon would be someone from his past. I built Panzer "by the book"; he's pretty badass, so I'm curious who'll win.

Finally, let's talk Kickstarter. I've been doing the writing, layout, and art myself, which means that I don't need to do a Kickstarter in order to pay someone else to tackle, well, any part of the project. Mostly it would allow me to focus more time and energy on it (instead of other stuff that would provide a more immediate payoff).

Over on G+ people have said that they like backing Kickstarters due to the possibility of expanding the scope of the project via stretch goals, which can include porting it to other systems. The downside is that it would probably be me doing the conversions, which means that it's going to take longer to finish it.

Another issue is people getting burned on Kickstarter projects, whether they are incredibly late, don't deliver on their promises, or both (and you know who you are). That is, of course, assuming they ever come out (you also know who you are). So if this is something you'd back lemme know, plus anything you'd like to see for stretch goals. If this isn't something you'd back tell me why, especially if there's something I can do to get you to back it.

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