Thursday, December 31, 2009

In Which The Warlock Looks Back, Then Forward...

Man. Who knew?

After all this time, I actually managed to hit 150 posts since starting this blog. Even posting once a week, it seems like a massive number--something that's taken me, in real life, over 3 years. Hard to believe!

I still don't exactly have a lot in the way of readership--about 10 people, in all--but it at least lets me get out my thoughts on gaming and the like. Plus, it keeps me writing, which is something that tends to get lost in amongst the chaos and mess that takes up 'normal life'.

What's harder to believe is that all this started with a simple character blog. My old dwarven sorcerer from Eberron, Harrigan Grimgem, provided the bulk of the first few entries, with things expanding from there. Being able to show off the pictures at our various Origins trips, as well as the other cons we've made it to, really provided a great change of pace.

It's kind of funny. As the new year dawns, I've been absolutely aching for a "normal year". Between the wedding, a new job, a new car, a new house, and all of the other madness from 2009, 2010 looks like a wonderful change of pace.

That said, I know better. As it stands now, 2010 is going to be even more packed with gaming opportunities, with the Witt-Wegger crew hitting even more cons than last year: FOPCon II, AnCon, WittCon VII, C2E2, and even GenCon! It's going to be one heck of a year, no doubt.

All of this on top of my work on SunnyVale Acres (which is a board and some playing pawns away from being playtestable!) and Dungeon Slam!, oh man. No rest for the weary gamer.

Mind you, in the midst of all of this comes our normal campaign, which is restarting after the New Year. This time, though, I actually get to play! Now, what type of character I'm idea yet! We'll see how that goes.

I guess, all in all, I just want to thank you, readers. O noble few that you are, you keep me doing this and ready to chuck the dice once more, if for no other reason than to report on the carnage.

Enjoy your New Years' festivities, and have a good holiday all! There's more to come in the new year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

In Which The Warlock Celebrates a Multitude of Things...

Sorry, to those of you that were hoping for a full-bore update yesterday. Since it's the holiday break, I'm relaxing and taking the Yuletide off.

However, I had failed to realize that, with my last entry, I hit 150 entries!! Next week, expect an extra special "blog-in-review" for both the year's end, and for hitting the 150 post milestone.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Cathedral of Erudition and the Influence of Bane

(This is a part of my continuing series on the Cathedral of Erudition--a multi-faith temple found in the infamous city of Blackfall. For more on Blackfall and the Cathedral, search for "Cathedral of Erudition" or "Blackfall" on the Google search-bar to your right! Enjoy!)

As mentioned previously, the Cathedral of Erudition is one of the few places in civilized society where Bane is openly (if grudgingly) worshipped. The Cathedral maintains a small shrine, specific to Bane, in its open-worship chamber, which has created no small amount of controversy within the Blackfall community at large. Within the Cathedral, Bane is typically viewed in his aspect as “The Steadfast General,” as opposed to ‘The Lord of Tyranny” or “The Slave-taker”.

As any historian may note, the city of Blackfall could not have been founded without Bane’s influence. In centuries gone by, Blackfall was once a massive orc encampment known as Mahalek Manshalan (the Magma Lord’s Salvation) which had stood for years, after escaping from an elvish war-tribe. This encampment was destroyed by a human-led army, under the command of Dorian “Helmcrack” Dalathon, who was well-known to be a worshipper of Bane and counted numerous priests of the Lord of Chains in his war-band.

When the orc-camp was decimated, Dorian built the first stone keep along the Moonraked River, which later became the foundation for Castle Blackfall. A city sprung up surrounding the fortified keep, and the rest, as they say, is history. Bane, whether the populace likes it or not, is a part of their history.

Bane is included in iconography within the Cathedral of Erudition, but usually in a lesser role than in a Cathedral of his faiths’ own creation. One notable example is of a mural found in the Cathedral’s antechamber, depicting Bane and Moradin in full battle-garb, as the two fight back-to-back against a series of savage humanoids.

The community at-large is not pleased with having any worship of Bane ‘tainting’ their Cathedral or their community, and often rails against Bane’s inclusion in Cathedral worship. The two newer heads-of-faith—Delia and Garius—feel this pressure the most, though both believe that Bane has his place within the walls of Blackfall, given the foundations of the city.

True followers of Bane occasionally make pilgrimages to the Cathedral of Erudition, from points unknown. Only one such follower actually makes his home in Blackfall, Wesley Baracus (human paladin/warlord 16), who maintains the shrine to Bane and occasionally runs some of the daily worship services.

Baracus, contrary to popular opinion, is not a slaver, nor is he a vicious butcher of men. Rather, he is a devoted soldier who continually advocates for the proper defense of Blackfall, and for the well-being of its defenders. Few know that Baracus actually runs and funds a clinic, specializing in traumatic injuries and wounds suffered in the line of duty. While not a gregarious man, he stoically continues to make Blackfall a better place to live, and cares little about what people think about him.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

In Which The Warlock Reaches The End of Things...

They say that all good things must come to an end. If that's the case, I've had it way too good for far too long. It seems that, with the end of December, both of my weekly D&D games will be ending.

In our "Pirates of the Underdark" game, we have two sessions left to wrap up the conveluted plot points, the circuitous undercurrents, and a massive trip to the heart of the Abyss left to go. I can't bear to spoil the plot here, at least not until the last few sessions play out, but rest assured that you'll get all of the details here.

I will, however, spoil the remainder of the plot for my "Echoes of the Last War" game, which I was running at Wittenberg. When we last left off, the players had been trekking through the Xen'drik jungle, in search of a House Cannith archaeological dig, which they had found evidence of in a shady lab in the Cogs of Sharn.

At the dig site, our players would have found a mysterious series of runes which, when translated, would have dealt with the missing Mark of Death, and particularly the combinations thereof with other dragonmarks. Notes left behind by the previous dig manager would have led the heroes back onto Khorvaire, to the Citadel of Twelve, in Karnnath.

Using some diplomacy and guile, the players would have infiltrated the Citadel, only to find little to no evidence (or help) from the dragonmarked heirs there. However, some further investigation of both House Cannith and House Thuranni would have given the indication that the group's old buddy, Thondred ir'Dayne, was still alive! Shocked, they would be confronted with an impossible task: infiltrating the prison of Dreadhold and breaking out their friend.

After another bit of sneaking, the party would find Thondred deep in the "Stone Ward" of Dreadhold. There, he'd enlighten them on the real plot: Cannith and Thuranni were in cahoots all along. The Mourning? Yeah, it was their fault, as they attempted to formulate an arcane/alchemical replacement for the missing Mark of Death. And, using the information from the dig sites in Xen'drik, House Cannith now has a prototype for a "Dragonmark Bomb"...a miniaturized Mourning that they intend to sell off to the highest bidder at the city of Thronehold.

Amazed, the PCs would have had to sneak back off of Dreadhold's island and into the Lhaazar Principalities, seeking passage with a pirate captain. Said pirate captain was, of course, deep in House Lyrandar's pockets, and set the PCs ashore in the midst of the Mournland!

After several challenges in traversing the Mournland, the PCs would have met one of the most dangerous individuals in the realm: the Lord of Blades. Obviously, the option to flee would be there, but should they negotiate, they'd find a kindred spirit! The Lord of Blades has no interest in seeing the world annihilated (even if it does mean the fall of the 5 nations), and so sends the PCs on their way to Thronehold with an escort of Warforged infiltrators.

The game would have ended with the PCs racing against time to stop the auction, and stopping the heads of the two dragonmarked houses--Thuranni and Cannith--from selling off their weapon.

Ironically, this game would have ended with the PCs becoming, essentially, fugitives and 'terrorists', sending them on the run for good. A definite strange ending, but one I hadn't explored yet.

As for what comes next? We'll see. I have some ideas rattling around my brain right now, but my focus has been on SunnyVale Acres for the last few weeks. Here's hoping I'll have my prototype out by New Year's!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Cathedral of Erudition--101 Cathedral Adventure Hooks

(This is a portion from my continuing series on the Cathedral of Erudition, a multi-faith temple in the infamous city of Blackfall. Enjoy!)

101 Adventure Hooks for the Cathedral of Erudition

1) The local thieves’ guild breaks into the Deep Crypts, hoping to steal artifacts.
2) The party is recruited by Aida Ballard to scout the Vanalthian Wastes.
3) Church services begin taking odd turns as citizens begin speaking in tongues.
4) The shrine to Bane is defiled—the PCs must find out who was behind the vandalism.
5) Plague spreads across Blackfall, and the Cathedral is overrun with victims.
6) In the middle of weekly services, The Triune Idol shatters.
7) A street hawker named Marius preaches heresy outside the Cathedral steps.
8) The Necronomicon has disappeared! The only clue is a broken fingerbone.
9) Gareth Dolanian, a recently landed noble, has learned Yvain’s secret and plans blackmail.
10) Citing religious reasons, the nobles plan a coup, and seek the Cathedral’s support.
11) One of the paladins of Ioun begins stealing small artifacts from the Deep Crypts.
12) The city faces siege, and the Cathedral is called to the front lines.
13) Strange lights float through the monastery halls. Is the Cathedral haunted?
14) A frightened man corners the PCs at a tavern: he claims that illithids have infiltrated the Cathedral!
15) Illuminated Scriptor Delia vanishes for two weeks, and her predecessor, Jaris, seems to retake control.
16) The Cathedral is chosen for a massive summit of Erathian clergy.
17) A hobgoblin high priest of Bane makes a pilgrimage to Blackfall.
18) The Cathedral bells have fallen utterly silent. No attempt to fix them has worked.
19) Every image of Ioun in the Cathedral begins to weep ink.
20) The library is ransacked during the night; the guards are baffled by it…
21) Adjudicator Juris Aida asks the PCs to investigate the lost colony at Renning’s Run.
22) Pages are missing from the Triplicate Folio.
23) A text is discovered, implying a romantic link between Erathis and a now-dead deity.
24) A Vecna cult begins spreading throughout the sewers, with designs on the church of Ioun.
25) A dao djinn feels slighted after the Cathedral refuses to sell holy tomes to him.
26) The king reverses an old precedent, now choosing to tax the Cathedral.
27) Acolytes begin claiming that a chain-bearing horror now roams the cemetery.
28) The colors in a grand mosaic of Moradin’s battle against Mual-Tar begin shifting.
29) The halls near the shrine of Bane begin to radiate magical energy.
30) A crusade is declared, to find the lost sword of Prelate Guillaume.
31) The hammer, Whelm, is discovered! But who among the faithful should wield it?
32) Three bloody arrowheads are left on the Cathedral steps on the morning of each ten-day.
33) The PCs must transport an evil artifact to a remote outpost so that it can be destroyed.
34) A thief has taken the weekly tithe box!
35) The color in the stained-glass windows begins to blacken and fade mysteriously.
36) A paladin of Erathis faces tribunal on trumped-up charges and seeks aid.
37) A paladin of Erathis seeks assistance at his tribunal…for crimes he committed!
38) A set of prayer beads is found around the Triune Idol’s feet. The owner has long been dead.
39) A planar conjunction occurs, cutting off divine characters from their powers.
40) The runes engraved on the altar actually hold a powerful ritual of binding.
41) The monastery catches fire!
42) A mysterious yellow sigil is painted on the Cathedral doors each night.
43) A devilish assassin seeks to make a name for himself by slaying Yvain.
44) An inevitable negotiator requests the Cathedral’s involvement in creating a demi-plane.
45) A kenku trader arrives and begins selling holy symbols in the marketplace.
46) A disastrous harvest overtaxes the Cathedral’s soup kitchen.
47) Frost giants attack the city during a raging blizzard.
48) The Cathedral is asked to assist with a dwarven clan reunion.
49) An eladrin prince claims that the Iounian priests have stolen one of his items.
50) A PC is asked to second for a Dragonborn avenger during a duel.
51) A celibate Erathian monk finds love, and is torn between duty and romance.
52) A notorious merchant-house begins attending services.
53) Church property is being auctioned off from a gold-barge.
54) A zealous invoker of Bahamut begins a campaign of conversion.
55) Each night on St. Altair’s eve, a portal in the vestibule opens, leading to the Shadowfell.
56) A recent sermon has drawn the ire of many nobles, including the king.
57) A beam splits during services—can the PCs save the endangered innocents?
58) A powerful diviner contacts the PCs—his scrying ball can see inside the Deep Crypts.
59) A long dormant egg in the Deep Crypts hatches; the Cathedral is swiftly overrun!
60) An entire section of the Cathedral is sucked through a planar gateway.
61) A rival faith petitions the king for land to build a temple.
62) Inquisitors of Tiamat are transporting an evil artifact via gold-barge.
63) The annual Warriors’ Games are held.
64) An astral diamond is left in the offertory bin.
65) A homeless man is found, mutilated, in one of the rear pews.
66) A shipment of holy oils and balms needs guarding as it heads south.
67) A schism occurs between the faiths of Erathis and Ioun.
68) A series of gigantic golems is unearthed beneath the graveyard.
69) A magewright forge of Moradin goes haywire, loosing fire elementals into the streets.
70) Tieflings picket the Cathedral following a controversial sermon.
71) A ‘mock church’ arises to challenge the Cathedral: Gruumsh, Vecna, and Tharzidun.
72) One of the Trio is blackmailing another, in order to influence a key vote.
73) The Preceptor of Bane seeks an audience with the king.
74) A candlelit shrine to Pelor is left on the Cathedral steps.
75) One of the High Prelates collapses during mid-ceremony.
76) Street preachers, preaching apocalypse, begin hawking in the streets.
77) Biblical plagues infest the cathedral: especially insects and other vermin.
78) A nearby druidic cult declares a war of the faithful.
79) The Holy Beads of Saint Marguerite—an ancient relic—go missing.
80) Sixteen rusted shards of iron replace the gem-eyes in an inspirational mosaic.
81) The Raven Knights come to take the head of Yvain.
82) A local vineyard grows grapes emblazoned with the Anvil of Moradin.
83) A besieged barbarian encampment cries for ‘sanctuary’.
84) A lack of funds makes basic healing rituals almost impossible.
85) Disease runs rampant through Blackfall…but only amongst the faithful.
86) A beggar child foundling is believed to be a prophetess of Ioun.
87) Roads in Blackfall follow ley lines; if a major project is completed, a sigil is formed.
88) The smithies of Moradin accidentally tap into the Elemental Chaos.
89) A new branch of monks seek to move into the Cathedral, amid much opposition.
90) An ancient sage believes that something evil is buried beneath the Cathedral’s foundation.
91) A ribald troupe of bards composes a play implying risqué relations at the Cathedral’s highest orders.
92) A lowly cleaner stumbles upon a powerful relic…and keeps it for himself.
93) The Cathedral’s corridors begin transporting members through time, teleporting monastics to all points of the Cathedral’s existence.
94) The Sentinel Marshal returns from crusade…and begins suffering continual flashbacks.
95) An ‘enlightened’ university springs up in Blackfall, challenging much Cathedral doctrine.
96) The exarch of Moradin is expected to arrive, bearing an important message.
97) Several Cathedral members are seen wearing ornate signets, which they refuse to discuss.
98) The Arbiter’s Scales suddenly tip, and cannot be righted.
99) An apology must be sent to a neighboring kingdom, following an inflammatory sermon.
100) During an eclipse, the entire clergy is driven mad!
101) A serial killer begins slaying low-ranking monks…but what’s their connection?