30 August 2016

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Namegiver 01 - Talo

This is the first 4E Anatomy of a Namegiver, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.

Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games. This post is part of a birthday present for a friend and should be taken in that spirit.

No one really knows where talos came from, and if the talos do know, it doesn't seem to be important to them. Whether they migrated from outside of Barsaive, emerged from the Scourge as a forgotten Namegiver, or something else entirely - it's a mystery that drives the librarians in Throal crazy.

Talos are curious by nature and even more curious to behold. Rarely standing over five and-a-half feet tall, their upper body resembles that of a lizard (herpetologists are always quick to point out it specifically resembles a gecko) and the lower body of a feline. Each talo has a unique matching, spotted pattern extending over both halves of the body. Even as their fur and scales may be different, they don't change their spots.

Despite their curiosity, these nimble predators are quite skittish when confronted. Though they can easily become brash when they believe circumstances are well in their favor. These are a people, when confronted with something foreign and smaller than their head, who ask the question, "Can I eat this?", rarely considering, "Should I eat this?".

Their various and sundry peculiarities (like licking their eyes, it's really weird) frequently make them difficult for non-talos to understand and get along with. Those who do invest in such a relationship are frequently rewarded with a loyal companion for life. One who is more than willing to find out if the milk is still good. Also, one who is more than willing to see if the pear-sized opal is food if left unsupervised and with no instructions.

Game Information
Starting Attribute Values
DEX 12, STR 10, TOU 11, PER 11, WIL 8, CHA 8
Movement Rate: 14
Karma Modifier: 5

Racial Abilities:
Low-Light Vision: Like elves, talo characters have the racial Low-Light Vision ability (see Player's Guide, p. 46).
Natural Climber: The climbing speed of talo characters is doubled (base speed 4 yards per round, +2 per success), limited by their Movement Rate.
Quick Healer: Talo characters gain +2 to their damage healed when they spend a Recovery Test.

26 August 2016

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 44 - Deadly Expedition to Care-a-Lot

This is the forty-fourth Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

Adventure Log – 044 Deadly Expedition to Care-a-Lot

Written By: Ting V'strimon the Merciless of Urupa

Date:  22 Doddul -  Doddul, 1508 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Warrior
Ting the Swordmaster

Uriel the Illusionist

I got bored. Bongani is taking - FOREVER - guiding us through the entrance of this kaer. There are several huge statues along the maze room to the entrance. They're pretty badass lookin', like 40 foot tall musclemen. I wanted to get a better look at one while we're trudging thought this place. I rocked a pretty slick leap flip up on the shoulder of the nearest guy, planning to hang out for a while. Problem being, they were some kind of guardians and came to life.

Fight started rough. Guy flicked me off his shoulder and stepped on me. Honeysuckle and Uriel stepped up and carried the fight till I could get back in there. Bongani, meanwhile, spent his time setting up some stupid trap and kill-stealing. The stupid rope trap did not work. We whittled them down to rubble and then went back outside to rest. Not worth messing with those guys.

Bongani goes back in by himself, while the rest of us heal up above. He encountered some sort of tentacle monster with really long feelers. he got away, but I suspect this will be our next fight. We plan and bonfire, and get ready for this thing.

We pop in and start wandering around. No surprise, it picks me as its target, and its first attack is murderous, but it's its only attack. Claws drained blood and poison me(1), and after Bongani kill steals - AGAIN - I have to sit around for a while to recuperate. We then follow a distant light to find a huge, shimmering crystal. Saw one of these ages ago, a trap to entrance Horrors(2). And there was a cloak standing right up against it. It was creepy as all get out. Bongani was the only one wanting to mess with it, and went up to get a look at it. The noise was also awful. Its face was blank, and the cloak was moving around(3).

We all skedaddled through the archway where there was another battery of traps before we came to a door. Using a kernel of True Water, we were able to chat with the folks on the other side of the door(4).(5)

*     *     *
(1) Sounds like a qural'lotectica. 
(2) This is recorded in Adventure Log 07, from over two years ago. It feels like it has been so much longer.
(3) What is this? It doesn't sound like anything I have heard of before, maybe Zamrica knows more.
(4) Wait, what? This is a living kaer? I feel that maybe this moment could have been met with a little more detail. A little more gravity. Perhaps acknowledging how big of an event this is. Though, I do wonder how the people of this kaer (if they're not all horribly corrupted and Mismatched Steel doesn't put them to the sword for "reasons") are going to get out of the Badlands. 
(5) Received and edited by Ela Pono

The payoff continues and more subtle clues are dropped. It is worth noting the fight with the massive stonemen was pretty brutal - they have a particular combination of attributes that make them pretty nasty to deal with. Which is to say, they functioned exactly as I hoped (their stat blocks are presented below).

This session started to show just how long they have been away, as some of their key consumables are reaching critical levels; notably, healing aids and absorb blow charms. Though, now they are "safe", so nothing should go wrong, right?

Massive Stonemen

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)
DEX:  3      Initiative:                 3      Unconsciousness:    NA
STR:  14    Physical Defense:   6      Death Rating:            110
TOU: 15    Mystic Defense:      12     Wound Threshold:  22
PER:  6      Social Defense:       12     Knockdown:               16
WIL: 10    Physical Armor:     15     Recovery Tests:         4
CHA: 6      Mystic Armor:         8
Movement: 12
Actions: 2; Unarmed: 17 (26), Trample: 17 (24)
Awareness (13)Heat Sight
Hardened Armor
Immune to Fear
Resist Pain (6)
Special Maneuvers:
Earth-Shattering Headache (Massive Stoneman, Unarmed): The massive stoneman may spend two additional successes on an Attack test to strike their target on the top of their head, causing him to be Harried until the end of the next round.
Overrun (Massive Stoneman, Trample)
Slowpoke (Opponent, Blunt Weapon): If the opponent has sufficient movement, he may spend one additional success on an Attack test to quickly move behind the massive stoneman before he can react. The massive stoneman is blindsided against the opponent until the end of the round.

19 August 2016

Earthdawn: Adventure Log 43 - Little Bear Went Over the Mountain

This is the forty-third Adventure Log in an ongoing series about Earthdawn. Introduction and Index.

Adventure Log – 043 Little Bear Went Over the Mountains

Written By: Honeysuckle of Glenwood Deep

Date:  03 Doddul - 21 Doddul, 1508 TH
Group Name: Mismatched Steel

Group Members
Bongani the Scout
Elmod the Nethermancer
Honeysuckle Sunspray the Warrior
Ting the Swordmaster

Beware the sandstorms! Believe it or not, the Badlands can actually get worse(1). The sandstorm rages on without an end in sight. It's almost like the sandstorm is alive and starts to speak to you(2). About seven days into this part of our journey, we managed to make our way out of the storm to overlook a glistening lake with a large mountain rising above it(3). In this ever worsening wasteland, you wonder if it's a mirage.

Making our way off the cliff's edge so we can investigate this mountain is going to be a challenge. Elmod has summoned an earth elemental that takes the shape of a sandstorm, fitting for this place. Elmod successfully negotiates with the elemental for it to take us to the bottom of the cliff. We continue toward the mountain and the Badlands keeps putting obstacles in our way. Tonight there was no twilight. Just a change from the blistering heat to darkness(4).

Three days walking toward the mountain and we encounter large bones lain into the ground. Bongani seems to think they are cave troll bones. Elmod claims the bones are part of a spell pattern. Elmod says this is not just the largest bone circle he's ever heard of, but this is also a Named spell. We have stumbled on something of legend(5).

The bones begin to shift and come together. We send Elmod forward in the hopes of speaking the spirit of this bone circle(6). This plan does not seem to be going our way as five cave trolls made of bone come up from the ground to attack.

Skeletal cave trolls proved to be no match for Ting and I as we disposed of them.

Taking stock of our options and resting a bit leaves us with the question of going around the circle, or through it.

Going around the circle, it takes three days and looking ahead, it appears we will be walking into the sandstorm again.

We have decided to leave the investigation at this place for another time and continue looking for the keys to the disappearing city.

It takes another seven days to clear the other half of the sandstorm.

You wouldn't think that the scrub of the Badlands would be a welcome sight, but it was after the time in the desert.

Looking for the keys to the city takes us to this odd shape on the map. Even stranger is the physical features of the land match the shape on the map. We head to the center and find a giant that isn't a rock. It's the entrance to a kaer(7)!

We descend into the first outer room. The pillars are massive stone warriors and the room is huge - so large that Ting starts great leaping around and lands on the shoulders of a stone warrior who then turns to look at Ting. The other warriors turn to look at Ting...(8)

*     *     *
(1) I believe it. Things can always get worse. They usually do.
(2) That's a bad sign no matter where you are. In the Badlands, it's even worse. Basically, it's a miracle this log ever made it back to me.
(3) What? I think there are some other accounts that make mention of something like this. If this is what I think it might be, this could change the political landscape of Barsaive. The Eye needs to know about it. 
(4) That's not a good sign. I think I'm right.
(5) My knowledge of Nethermancy is only cursory, but this could be a Named spell withing a Named bone circle, using it to power the nether breach... thing. They "keys" the group is chasing are probably the pattern items to at least one of these Named spells and can be used to dispel it, them, whatever. This needs to be run by some people who know more about such things. Just cannot let Fastoon or Mestoph get wind of it.
(6) Of all the stupid-!
(7) This could either be the first unbreached kaer from the Badlands, or very, very bad things.
(8) Received and reluctantly edited by Ela Pono

In many ways, this was a payoff session. Not a payoff in the sense of treasure, but the pieces of their adventure starting to come together. A glimpse at the larger pattern at work and how to progress. While the woods are lovely, dark and deep, they still have promises to keep, and miles to go before they sleep.

Since I'm not inclined to reveal much more about the events of the session, instead I'll give the stats for what they fought (which kinda makes this like a bonus Anatomy of a Creature). The petrified cave trolls were made by combining cave trolls with one of the skeletal templates (clearly, the petrified template). I have to admit, these templates make creating custom and varied encounters so much easier.

Petrified Cave Trolls

Challenge: Journeyman (Seventh Circle)
DEX: 8       Initiative:                7       Unconsciousness:    NA
STR: 14     Physical Defense: 16     Death Rating:             75
TOU: 10    Mystic Defense:    16      Wound Threshold:  15
PER: 5        Social Defense:     9       Knockdown:                16
WIL: 6       Physical Armor:   8       Recovery Tests:          2
CHA: 2       Mystic Armor:       5
Movement: 14
Actions: 2; Cave Axe: 18 (24)
Enhanced Sense [Sight]: Heat Sight
Fury (2)
Resist Pain (4)
Special Maneuvers:
Brittle (Opponent, Blunt Weapon): Opponents attacking the gaunt ape with a blunt weapon gain an additional success on a successful Attack test.
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat)