Monday, January 27, 2020


So, we finished the Saturday Night DnD game and I slept for about ten hours, deep enough to have a lot of weird dreams. (The game was still going on, but we'd moved to some sort of con and were now playing with like three other groups; we were packing to leave the con only somehow the hotel staff had managed to lose all the souvenirs I'd bought for my family; I was back at the school of my old Kung Fu Sifu [and, again, having trouble keeping up with my stuff]...)

I think I needed that.

I'm writing this on Sunday morning, and today is basically going to be Clean All The Things/Run All The Laundry day, so off we go with that. Wish us (retroactive) luck!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Kids DnD: A brief update

The youth DnD game continues apace; our heroes cleared another room today (using a cunning combination of teamwork and Not Stepping Into The Trap) and added a small siver statuette of a cat with gemstones for eyes to their collection of treasure. I was particularly impressed because if they'd handled it differently, they probably would have been badly mauled by a bunch of gargoyles.

Friday, January 24, 2020

ItB 010: Long-Range Plans

Caden opened a channel to the Ultima Ratio and pulsed Celia and Dr. Veranovich as Tamimi started talking.

"What do you want?" asked Tamimi. "The basics? The background? The big names?"

"Start with the basics," answered Caden.

Tamimi shrugged. "Your elite already has them: the Hirakawa paracorporation planned to equip a capital ship with an experimental faster-than-light drive and put it in orbit around Tanivar before the Majesty could get there, effectively claiming the planet and everything on it for their own."

Caden nodded slowly. "All right. We're heading back to the airlock. Velasquez, take point. Tamimi, sing out if you sense anything. And on the way, you can tell us about the background."

Scout darted out the open door, as precise without gravity as it had been when the station still had it. Velasquez made a gentle hop forward, pushing off the ceiling and coming back down as she reached the doorway. Tamimi fell in beside Caden as the others arranged themselves for the trip back out, using the magnetic hold-tights in her boots to keep her feet on the floor.

"Do you remember when the Majesty was first discovered?"

Caden shook his head, making the gesture dramatic enough to be a visible movement of his armor.

"Almost nobody really does," Tamimi told him. "The team that found it on Enceladus wasn't looking for alien artifacts, let alone a crashed alien ship older than any civilization on Earth. They were a tiny crew, almost rogue, who'd managed to cadge some funding to study the underground ocean near the south pole. Their contract required them to report any unusual discoveries to Earthgov's Office of Scientific Inquiry, so they did... and Earthgov clamped down on the information, interdicted that whole area of Enceladus, and quietly expanded Office of Scientific Inquiry to study what they'd found. Whoever was in charge did it well, too: it was almost a decade before the paracorporations started to notice."

"I remember hearing about it," Caden admitted. "Proof of intelligent alien life from outside our solar system. The promise of new discoveries. More reasons to Do Well and Stay In School."

Tamimi chuckled. "The security wasn't impenetrable. Hirakawa got an early look at the analysis of the warp design, and I'm sure they weren't the only one. They established Hirakawa's Celestial Triumph all the way out here, and started constructing Hirakawa's Ascendancy while their best minds tried to reproduce the skip-tech."


"Whatever the aliens used to travel, it wasn't actually faster than light. That limit seems to be absolute... at least to me, and the people in charge of this project. To move faster than light, you have to skip around that limit -- a knight's move, if you've ever played chess."

Caden made his helmet nod, and turn to look at Tamimi in her vac-suit. "So they came up with something that would let them bypass space... and punched a hole to something that ate everyone on the station?"

"I think so, yes."

We definitely need to be out of here, Siegel pulsed, and Caden pulsed back his agreement. "Splendid," he said quietly.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Dark Armor 006: Interlude 02

There is a woman before the throne, arms bound behind her, guards carrying torches on either side. Pallian enters the chamber without appearing to notice her and approaches the place where his father stands beside the obsidian throne. "Father?"

"Pallian." His father regards him, tall and imposing and still impossibly strong. "You recall your lessons on the passage of arms?"

He nods.

"And the martial uses of sorcery?"

Pallian nods a second time, his eyes on his father's face, waiting to see where this inquiry is going.

"And combining the two?"

A sudden irritation rises within him, but he keeps his face expressionless. He has studied little else for the past two years, and his father should know it: it was done at his order. He nods, making the gesture a mirror of the previous two.

"Amedin!" His father calls sharply, and the old priest strides forward from a shadowed corner of the room. There are others out there as well; half the court, by the look of it, but only he and his father stand in the shaft of moonlight that falls across the throne. The lone woman is lit by the torches her guards carry. Everyone else, men and women and both and neither, are blanketed by the shadows.

Amedin has served the obsidian throne for six generations, far beyond the span of his mortal life. What remains of his flesh is wound tight around his bones, withered and decayed; and it is said that only the darkest sorceries sustain him. Pallian has never seen him eat or drink, and thinks of him as a sort of horrible doll that his father the wizard-king summons for unpleasant tasks and pronouncements. Perhaps the most horrifying thing about him is that despite his appearance he moves like a young man, swift and sure.

Amedin kneels before the wizard-king, then rises. "Sire?"

"Check him. Is he ready?"

Pallian stifles a visceral disgust and forces himself to remain still and calm as the half-dead priest turns to him. He doesn't know himself whether the night's new initiation will react badly with the ones he's already been given; he only knows that there is no escaping the ancient priest's scrutiny: not here, not now, not with his father watching.

Amedin runs withered hands over his shoulders, then down his arms, muttering incomprehensibly to himself. "Firm," he says, as he touches Pallian's forehead. "Strong, as we planned. Stronger than expected, even, and I think growing stronger."

The wizard-king frowns. "Any concerns there?"

"No, sire. He's everything you wanted, and perhaps a bit more. If he fails here, it will be a matter of skill... or will." A dark, strangled chuckle follows the remark.

Pallian doesn't know whether Amedin has sensed his new initiation and chosen not to remark on it, or whether the withered priest assumes that Pallian's additional strength is an unexpected effect of his own work. It doesn't matter, so long as his secret remains secret. "What is it you want of me, father?"

"You see this woman?"

Pallian turns his head at his father's gesture, regards the bound and guarded prisoner, then makes the same respectful nod that he's made four times in this conversation alone. "I do."

"This is the heir of Edrias," his father says. "She was taken in battle, and has demanded her noble right of
fugin ei guer."

Pallian nods once more, this time more slowly. Trial by combat. More precisely, release by combat... one way or another. Freedom or death. He raises his head and takes a long, slow look around the room. It is not just the court of Teregor that has gathered here; he sees representatives from a half-dozen wizard-kings, Edrias among them.

"You understand," his father says, with a sharp nod. "Your time has come, and I give you your chance. Kill her for me, and earn your place."

And Pallian, who has never had a place in his father's court and never been allowed to forget it, nods again.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Challenge: New Hobby I would like to Try

Long and Short Reviews has a set of prompts for their Weekly Wednesday Blogging Challenge for 2020. If you'd like to join me, the prompts are here and you can check in on their home page every Wednesday to find a post with links to people's responses. (If you do participate, add your own links so the rest of us can come and read them!)

This week's challenge is New Hobby I'm Trying (Or Would Like To Try).

To be perfectly honest, at this point I'm actually still trying to get back to my old hobbies. I'm getting more writing done (though there are still interruptions) and it would be nice to add some martial arts back in on top of that.

So... yeah. I'd like to get back to martial arts. I'd like to get the boys into martial arts. I have no idea how the logistics would work for this, but that's where I am.

But an actual new hobby... does learning languages count? Because I think I'd like to learn German. (I used to be semi-fluent in Spanish, but it was a particularly Castillian sort of Spanish that isn't much use here in Texas. And I was passable with Latin back in the day. But I'm two decades out of practice with either of them -- even if I still remember that Caecilius est in horto, muchas gracias -- so, y'know, this time around we'll go the other way and try German.)

How about the rest of you?

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Youth DnD: Wow, I'm behind!

I see I haven't updated the Roslof Keep entries since early November. And while we did have a couple of weekends off, we've actually had a bunch of sessions since then. So, I'm going to do a quick recap and an updated treasure list:

With our new barbarian, the group was able to finish exploring the first level of the dungeon and find a passage down to the second level. This discovery allowed the group to level up, and that in turn allowed them to face and slay a pair of salamanders -- probably the toughest monsters on this level -- and thus complete the first dungeon level. This allowed them to level up again, and also gave them access to the next floor down. (They knew how to get there, but the dungeon wouldn't let them in until they'd defeated everything on the first floor at least once.)

The second floor was where the mousefolk tribe had been trapped, in a cavern that was technically outside the dungeon; a small earthquake a few months back had both opened a crack in the wall of the dungeon, and closed off the cavern behind them. They'd been surviving on the water from a small stream, and some edible lichens; by the time our mousefolk cleric was able to return to them again, they were in pretty poor shape. The party led them back out despite an attempted ambush by a group of kobolds led by a surprisingly powerful kobold sorcerer.

With their tribe rescued, Aspen the Mousefolk Cleric left the party. Their people would need help finding a place to re-settle, and while they were not planning to move far away, Aspen's days of plumbing the dungeon of the mad mage were over. Fortunately, another adventurer had shown up looking for work and a chance to make a name for herself: a swashbuckling half-elf bard named Aika.

With Aika taking her place at the front of the group, the party decided they had need of another ring of protection -- and they knew exactly where to find one. The plan was simple: the sorcerer would enter the room and head for the treasure room at the back, triggering the trap that would open the coffins and release the undead; the undead would follow the sorcerer into the passage back to the treasure chamber, and the sorcerer would drop a spell on them while they were all bunched together in the passage. The rest of the group would then enter the room behind the undead, and finish anything that was still moving.

It worked brilliantly. In fact, it worked so brilliantly that they annihilated the undead in the first round of combat, and were thus completely unsurprised when a group of orcs entered the room behind them in an attempt to ambush them. The battle was short and brutal, and the orcs did not fare well.

The group is currently taking a rest in the treasure chamber (among other things, because it will allow the swashbuckler to attune her new ring of protection); and after that, they'll presumably be heading down to the second level.

Current party treasure by my count is 25 PP, 1502 GP, and 331 SP.

Treasure they've collected over the last few adventures (which we really haven't settled out) includes:
250 GP
5 gold ingots worth 350 GP each
Bracers of Archery

And the equipment they scavenged from their orc ambushers, which includes:
1 longsword
4 crossbows
2 hand axes
1 greataxe
and six sets of scale armor.
...which honestly probably isn't worth the effort of hauling back to the surface, at this point.