Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Coming of the Four

It’s a short one this week, folks. This is mostly due to health issues leading me unable to properly proof anything I have in the buffer.

Without further ado, here is a prophecy for use in your own game(s).

Enjoy!


When the world turns its back on the light,

When the moon turns its back on the dark,

When Five become Three become Seven,

When the long-awaited Tyrant returns;

Four champions shall arise,

Three heralds will talk of their coming,

Two mounts will carry them swiftly to their fate,

One Doom will bind them.

When all of this comes to pass,

The World will have ended and will begin anew,

The same,

But different,

Forever changed,

Always the same.

As their Doom unravels,

The world will see the champions for what they are,

The champions will see the world for what it is,

And the cycle will end.


 

There won’t be an update next week, but I have many more things planned for next year.

May your dice roll favourably!

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Summer’s End

Hi all,

Some of you may know this already, but I recently had a short story published in an anthology called Summer’s End. It’s a fantasy anthology dealing with the end of a golden age.

The publisher was nice enough to do a spotlight on my contribution and included the purchase link on the page. If you’re interested, it isn’t that expensive and any reviews or word-of-mouth promotion is appreciated.

https://alternativerealitiespublishing.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/summers-end-ryan-wheeldon/

Expect an update as usual this Friday.

Thank you for your time!

Bubbles

Hilmar: A Strange Land

The fire crackled as he awoke with a start. The pain in his chest receded slowly, the deep, throbbing ache a reminder of what he had lost.

As it had done most nights for the past few months, the dream had hit him hard and fast. He remembered little of it other than the look on Lysander’s face as the elf’s sword impaled him, Nuala’s gasp of surprise and the icy cold fire that filled his chest for the few heartbeats before he awoke.

He felt the sweat roll down his cheek as his heart gradually slowed and he forced his jaw to unclench. A footstep nearby caused him to roll over and face the fire.

“Are you okay, mister?” The little girl they’d picked up earlier asked. She had been walking along the side of the road as they came down through the mountain pass, her shoes torn and what few belongings she possessed in a small bag on her back. He sat up and smiled wearily.

“Just a bad dream. Why are you up? Standing guard?” She looked at her feet and shook her head.

“I can’t sleep. My parents,” She swallowed and absently tugged at a small bloodstain on her ragged dress. Hilmar guessed what had happened and gave a small nod.

“I understand.” The silence between them grew, the fire crackling and popping in the background. “Where are you going?”

“Scour.”

“Do you have family there?” She shook her head.

“My mum always said to go there, to the temple of Pelor, if I needed protection.” He nodded again, feeling awkward as he did so.

“The gods protect us all.” He said, remembering the lessons of his youth.

It had surprised him that first day, to find out his gods were in this strange, new world. There were many other things that surprised him as well; the prevalence of elves, the same spells used in the midst of combat. So many things he recognised from home were here.

So many things were different though. The stars above made him uneasy, several of the travellers he had met were of a strange and unfamiliar form, even the fighting styles were subtly altered.

Craving comfort in familiarity, he had signed on as a caravan guard, escorting a collection of pilgrims and traders as they crossed the mountains towards Scour. He had been told by a wandering priest that if anyone could help him, it would be the scholars there. So he had borrowed some chain mail of strange make, stowed his damaged plate, and started marching, one hand always on the haft of his axe.

He had received some strange looks those first few nights as he sat by himself and tended to his arms and armour as best he could. Another of the guards, a quiet elf named Laraen, had explained that there was something subtly off about him. Hilmar had just shrugged and told the latter parts of his story.

The elf has listened intently and nodded once when he’d finished. It was he who had found the priest among the pilgrims and explained the situation to him. The priest had sought Hilmar out the next day and asked a few pointed questions. His replies had been satisfactory and the priest gave him some advice and instructions to follow once the caravan reached Scour.

“Come on.” He said, blinking back to the present. “Let’s get some water.” He stood, the blanket pooling around his feet. The little girl gasped and stared at the wound in his chest. It was an old, silver scar, far older than it should have been but very visible. He smiled and pulled a shirt from his bag, pulling it over his head.

“Did that hurt?” She asked, her voice quiet and her eyes firmly on her feet. He considered for a moment.

“I remember it hurting but it doesn’t anymore.” He said, trying to process it in his mind. When he had woken up in that glade, his weapons and equipment by his side, the wound was already old. He remembered the pain, but it was as if it had happened to someone else.

She looked up.

“I hope my parents don’t hurt anymore.” He met her eyes and smiled slightly.

“They don’t.” He offered her his hand and she took it. Her skin was cool and smooth against his rough, scarred palms and he gently closed his fingers around hers as they started walking towards the water butt.

The horses whickered quietly as they passed, their tails flicking absently from side to side. The little girl turned her head to look at them wonderingly.

“Do you want to stroke one?” He asked. She nodded mutely and he picked her up gently, holding her level with the nearest horse’s nose. She gingerly laid a hand on the soft hair and smiled widely as the horse pushed gently against her palm. She rubbed it slowly and the horse gave a small sigh of contentment.

Hilmar watched it with an experienced eye, the lessons of his youth coming to him easily. The horse was in good health and still in its prime. It was a good example of a riding horse and he wondered if the scholar who owned it, a young woman who had joined them earlier that day, would let the little girl ride it as they made their slow way to Scour.

“Thank you.” The little girl said quietly, pulling her hand away. He lowered her to the ground and they resumed walking to the water butt. They walked in silence for a few minutes before she raised her head to look at him.

“Where are you going?” He glanced down, seeing the stars reflected in her eyes.

“Scour as well.” She nodded and chewed her bottom lip for a few minutes.

“Why? Did your parents tell you go there to?” He faltered, mid-step, and looked away as he resumed walking. His heart thumped loudly in his ears and he forced his jaw to unclench.

“Not my parents, no.” He said, his voice strained.

“Then why?”

“Hopefully someone there can help me find my way home.”

Review: Kaiju Incorporated

For clarity’s sake, in most instances the word ’employee’ is used below to denote players.

In case my introduction isn’t clear, I was given a review copy of the above RPG by Evil Hat Productions. Other than this, I am unaffiliated with Evil Hat Productions.

– Bubbles / Ryan


This analyst was recently given a copy of the document ‘Kaiju Incorporated’ by Evil Hat Productions to review. ‘Kaiju Incorporated’ is presented as a modification of the existing set of rules known as Fate Core and is intended as a training document for potential employees considering a role within one of the many corporations dedicated to cleaning up after kaiju attacks in order to harvest their materials and make a profit from the ensuing products and technologies.

These employees are not presented as the Aces in charge of the battlerobos that defend the helpless from the many kaiju in the world, but as the members of the corporation that are necessary to its survival; the cogs in the machine. Labourers, researchers and other positions related to fieldwork are presented within as possible training schemes and employee archetypes.

Presentation

The presentation throughout is slick and of the quality we have come to expect from Evil Hat Productions. Text and titles are of a sufficiently different font to allow for easy reading.

The dossier is filled with colourful, evocative artwork of high enough quality that this analyst found himself desiring more, possibly in the form of a limited run comic series. Whilst certainly not necessary to convey its report, Evil Hat have chosen their art well and it provides some useful visual reference for the themes of the document.

Setting

The high quality art is paired well with the text. Constant references to the vital corporate structures that keep this world running, as well as important protocols and processes, thoroughly ground the entire document and matches the mechanics presented within.

As ever, one’s first engagement with the information contained within the training material (after necessary paperwork) is the vitally important job interview. This helps to ground the experience and the provided testimonials (example) help to convey the atmosphere the document aims to create.

No report on kaiju attacks, and the corporations involved with the clean-up of such, would be complete without a timeline of the catastrophes plaguing our world, as well as detailed files on the kaiju and those corporate heroes profiting from them. Whilst little information is given on the so called ‘Aces’ whose job it is to stop the kaiju, employees will begin their career well versed in the dangers they may face and the potential employers that the industry has built up around them.

Mechanics

The material, based as it is upon an existing framework of established practices, is up front about the ways in which it differs from the norm. This is particularly useful for analysts and employees who have a large amount of experience with the framework known as ‘Fate Core’.

Employees are given 4 modes to receive possible training in. These modes encompass every facet of an employee’s life and provide further possible training in the form of ‘Skills’. Each mode has 3 Skills in which an employee can be trained, with all employees receiving different amounts of training depending upon their experiences, personality and role. With 12 Skills available, employees receive focused training in 3 and choose one of those 3 to become specialised in.  In this manner, an employee can be chosen who has the right skill-set for the team they are to work with whilst remaining flexible enough to deal with any situation.

Of a more worrying nature, some employees are able to undergo a hybridisation process that links them inextricably with the kaiju and their employer. This genetic alteration brings to mind the B-movies of yesteryear, perfectly in line with the rest of the document.

The training material places a large amount of emphasis on team-work and planning. When a report comes through of a kaiju attack, the employees and their handler are encouraged to work together to discover the specifics of the attack and to plan accordingly. Each phase of the plan is then undertaken and detailed later in an after-action report. This bureaucratic necessity allows the employees to determine whether they were successful in cleaning up after the kaiju attack, or whether the problem(s) remain(s). It is then up to them to decide whether or not the problem is for someone else to sort out.

This process allows for some repetition of scenarios, especially in a training context, in order to experiment and develop the team-work skills required to deal with a high level alert.

Conclusions

Overall, the document meets my expectations from a company such as Evil Hat Productions. High-quality production and research skills have been paired with a razor sharp understanding of modern kaiju harvesting methods and corporations to produce a design and training document sufficient to teach new employees all the skills and knowledge they will need to successfully deal with the aftermath of a kaiju attack.

It is this analyst’s view that ‘Kaiju Incorporated’ be treated as an essential document for all members of the Fate, and kaiju, communities, effective immediately.

The accompanying training exercises, presented as a card game, are also to be considered highly informative and a worthwhile investment.

The Birth of the People of Stone

The following was written as a creation myth for my current D&D character (a Goliath) based upon some ideas I had for the origin of Dwarves in my homebrew setting.

It is my hope that you find it inspiring enough for your own games or writing.

Enjoy!


At the beginning of the world, when the rivers walked like people, all of the land was flat and the stars spoke to each other, the Skymother and the Earthfather fell in love.

The Skymother, a being of beautiful savagery and untamed perfection, has always existed. It was she who birthed the stars and gave life to the rivers. It was she who gave the moon his glow.

The Earthfather, the Eternal Rock and He Who Feeds, has always existed. It was he who moulded the world into the shape it is and tore the sun and moon apart. It was he who taught the First to speak and to farm.

It was as she watched the rivers cross the infinite plains of the world, that the Skymother came upon the Earthfather. He was weakened from his battles with the sun and moon, sorely wounded and near to death. She took pity on this mighty man and nursed him back to health.

The Earthfather, thinking he was the only eternal force, was surprised when the Skymother found him and, at first, distrusted her.

For every poultice she applied, he tore a rent in his skin. For every potion she gave him, a bitter tear of resentment spilled down his cheek. In the darkest corner of his heart, he vowed to never be helpless again.

For countless years, she ministered to his wounds and the pair slowly fell in love.

To the Skymother, he was everything she was not. Where she was tempestuous, he was steady. Where she was passionate, he was calm.

To the Earthfather, she was everything he was not. Where she was innocent, he was cunning. Where she was trusting, he was hard-hearted.

As the Earthfather grew in strength, they began to talk of the future. She wished to create life, beings free from her control who could explore the world and bring their love of it to her. He wished to fill the world with life, beings dependent upon him for food and sustenance.

Slowly, they populated the world around them, bestowing many different forms of life with aspects of their power.

Finally, when he was strong enough, they consummated their love.

As they caressed each other in the way of Lovers, the Skymother saw into the Earthfather’s darkest heart and saw his intent to corrupt her creations, and to force them to serve him. She cried out in anguish and tried to tear herself from his grasp.

With a roar of anger, he trapped her in claws of stone wrenched from the flatlands and forced himself upon her.

When he was spent, she fled the prison of the First Mountains and retreated to a hidden place in this new, mountainous world.

There she birthed her children and gifted them with a portion of her own spirit. These People, born of both Sky and Earth, would never serve another. In place of a soul, a bolt of lightning fuels their drive for independence.

As they grew, she taught them all she knew and they grew into a passionate, but trusting people.

It was only a matter of time before the Earthfather found them.

With a cry, the Skymother fled, the memories of his assault overpowering her. Seeing what she had done to their children, the Earthfather vowed that if they would not serve him, they would not eat.

He cast them from the hidden place and cursed them with a wanderlust that would not allow them to settle and farm. This curse only strengthened their love for the wild, untamed places of the world.

This is how the People of Stone came to roam the mountains. This is how the People of Stone came to forget their mother. This is how the People of Stone came to be.