Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cypher System Fantasy - Ardeyn - Session 3





The terrible dragon Zoraakanaan stood before the legendary wizard Verren.  The Great Wizard Protector of the Citadel Hazurrium, Verren and his party of extraordinary adventurers tracked down the malicious beast to its lair.  There was Shallas the dexterous javelin throwing rogue, Krad the armored knight of justice, and Brimstone the massive man of stone.  Each were doing their part to bring down the massive, red and green feathered monstrosity.  One more powerful spell would finish the creature off, if only Verren could summon forth the magical energies.

Extending his hands towards the ground, the Legendary Adept who Casts Spells began drawing on the mystical energies of Ardeyn.  The icy power first entered his legs, and then passed into his hips.  Soon they were in his core, and then his chest, as Verren pointed his fingertips towards the great drake.  Frozen up to his neck, the spell caster squinted in pain and then started to scream the incantation.

"Oogha chaakah, oogha chaakah!" Verren cried out, his words clad in both exultation as well as agony.

The snowy blast struck the dragon in the chest, the initial point of impact instantly turning to hardened ice.  Icicles formed on the beast's feathered wings and claws, its long snout and beard.  The creatures eyes rolled up into the back of its head, and it fell…

… forward.

"Oh dear," Verren muttered as the wizard tried to move to the side.  But his legs were still frozen, and his hips wouldn't even turn.  The falling dragon struck the wizard, who soon found himself tumbling rather quickly.  It was a strange experience, almost as if Verren was rolling like a child's ball.

Ground… sky… ground… sky.  Most peculiar.

When the rolling stopped, Verren was staring at the ground, the grass touching his nose.  Before he could think of scratching, everything went black.

It took Brimstone, Krad, and Shallas at least ten minutes to find the decapitated head of their once great leader.

"At least it was a quick death," the golem Brimstone announced mechanically.  

Living 4 Crits Presents


Cypher System Fantasy Campaign


Ardeyn: Land of the Curse


Cast

  • Sister Sariety, a Charming Speaker who Works Miracles, played by Frank
  • Zamani, a Spiritual (Ugallu*) Explorer (Magic) who Masters Foot and Fist**, played by Andy
  • Shenuesh, a Graceful Adept (Combat) who Wields Two Weapons at Once, played by Jeremy
  • Milja the Ranger, a Sharp-Eyed (Qephilim) Explorer who Controls Beasts, played by Andreas
  • Yaren, a Foolish Warrior who Stands Like a Bastion, played by Craig
  • Verren, a Spectral*** Adept who Casts Spells, played by Marc
* Ugallu is a race option from Broken Immersion by Ryan Chaddock Games
** Masters Foot and Fist is from Worlds Numberless and Strange by Monte Cook Games
*** Spectral is a new and original focus written by Marc Plourde and featured on his blog, Inspiration Strikes


Episode 3: Skull


After their tea party with the necromancer and his two acolytes, the party prepared to continue their dream patrol along the Path of the Dead.  Trazzoek was clear that the party could finish their contract with the Black Moon Explorers, and the dark necromancer handed over the one rune-carved skull in his possession as sort of a promissory note.

There was something about that skull, Yaren thought, but he couldn't figure it out. Something familiar.

While the rest of his teammates gathered their gear, Zamani gave Ralli the Necromancer Acolyte another glance.  It was clear that the young, ethereal girl was under the effect of some kind of curse, and that part of her living soul was kept elsewhere.  How these rune covered skulls could reverse the spell, the Ugallu was not sure.

The party bid Trazzoek farewell, and started along the path back to Catacomb 1177.  About a half mile down the road, Yaren thought he heard a muffled voice in his sack.  Reaching into the pack, the warrior's fingers touched the rune covered skull.

"Do you mind?  That does not feel very good," a proper voice called out.  Yaren looked around but no one else noticed the voice.  Pulling the skull from his sack, Yaren gave it one look and kicked it down the path.

Ground… sky… ground…. sky.  For Verren, this episode was very similar to the one he had experienced just moments before.  When he came to rest, the adept looked around.  Where was Brimstone, Shallas, and Krad?  Who were these new people?  Why did the one who kicked him in the face resemble his relatives?

Sister Sariety picked up the skull and examined it.  Although Yaren exclaimed that the skull "spoke", the sister could not hear any words.  She handed it to the party's qephilim.

Milja's experience with the skull was a bit different.  The explorer tried to read the runes, but as soon as she did, she fell to her knees in agony.  Suddenly, Milja was standing in front of the Court of Sleep, preparing for her soul to be judged.  Then she was being cradled by some strange entity, who peeled her flesh from the bone, and then carved into her skull.

Milja felt everything!

When she let go of the skull she came to, but was severely rattled.

As the party discussed their options, Zamani noticed that a green, ectoplasmic blob began to seep from the skull.  Slowly, over the course of a full minute, the ghastly glowing form took shape, resembling a naked old man.

Zamani knew exactly how to deal with this kind of "thing."  He punched it with his lightning fist!

"Oww!" the green form complained as it fell backwards in a heap.

Yaren stared at the face, confused, but with some recognition.  He knew this visage.  The warrior convinced the storm monk to put down his fists.

"What are you," Zamani asked the ectoplasmic humanoid.

The green form introduced itself.  "I am Veren, the Great Wizard Protector of the Citadel Hazurrium."

Yaren was taken aback by the announcement.  "Verren is dead… he died fifty years ago killing a dragon."

Verren didn't seem to understand so Sister Sariety put the pieces together for him.  "This is you," she said, pointing to the rune-carved skull.

Milja regained enough of her composure to share her experience with the Court of Sleep. Verren stated that if his soul had been judged after his death, he should've come back in a different form.  Even if he were to come back reincarnated as an artifact, it should not have been as his own skull.  Something else must have gotten involved with the Great Wizard Protector's transition from life to strange unlife.

The party felt it only fair to tell Verren of their mission to find more of the skulls for the Necromancer.  Verren was not pleased with the group's mission.  While he considered his options, he looked at Yaren again.

"What's your deal?  You look something like my sister," Verren said.

Yaren's response came quick.  "Well, you look like my dead grandfather."

Before the two could have a true family reunion, the party's semi-sadistic werejackel joined the conversation.

"If personal experiences have anything to do with it, we should take the skull back into the crypt, put some blankets around it, set a fire, and it should be good to go," Shenuesh proudly suggested, a devilish grin revealing sharp teeth.

"I don't have a cold!" Verren insisted.  "I can't feel anything, actually."

Sister Sariety caught Verren's attention and then looked down.  The spectral adept noticed what everyone else must have found quite disturbing.  His nudity.  Drawing power from the nether, Verren created greenish robes to cover himself.

Yaren didn't want anymore conversation, and just wanted to continue on their original plan. The warrior assumed that they would all figure out what to do about the necromancer after patrolling the wall.  Yaren turned towards the path and just started walking.

"Alright, come on Grandpa, let's go."

No one else in the party said anything else about the matter.

*     *     *

Returning to the patrol, Shenuesh took the lead and began examining the Path of the Dead for any signs of trouble.  The crypts and catacombs were commonly looted by practitioners of the dark arts.  The graceful adept was ready for anything…

… but was a bit surprised to find human children raiding a nearby catacomb.

Just one hundred feet ahead of the patrol, several small human children were pulling the wrappings from bones and covering themselves.  Despite being a well-trained murderer, Shenuesh did not believe it was in the party's charter to kill children.  Carefully the werejackal approached.  

"Do you have something to spare, sir?" the leader called out to Shenuesh.  When the adept failed to respond, the lead child smiled and came closer.  His eyes lacked any white, they were all black.  "We found something extraordinary in here… come look." 

Shenuesh slowly shook his head.  "No."

Zamani the Ugallu storm monk joined his hairy partner.  

"It's a kitty," a young girl gushed.  Like the others, her eyes were completely black.  

Zamani was fairly certain that these poor children were under the effect of some kind of curse, but would have to find the spellcaster or demonic entity to release their souls.  

The rest of the party soon joined, and took stock of the situation.  Shenuesh was about to lead the group away when a child returned from inside the crypt.  

"Sabian says he's cold again," the little boy whispered.

The words were like a command.  Instantly Shenuesh started heading to the wall.  "Gotta go help my brother," the werejackal stated aloud.  

Not wanting their teammate to go into the wall alone, the rest of the party followed.  But both Verren and Milja were stopped.  

"None may enter who are already unliving, or who would stand in judgement of the unliving," a creepy girl said, in reference to both the spectre and the qephilim.

"I am here to judge you!" Milja responded, and moved past.  

The girl said something when the qephilim left, but it was too soft for anyone else to hear.  "Okay… but you looked nice and I wanted to warn you."  

As each member of the party stepped through the entrance to the crypt, they were teleported to a large, green room.  

*     *     *

Inside a large, forty foot by seventy foot chamber the party regained their bearings.  This room was far too large to fit inside the Path of the Dead.  But still, the walls were covered in shelves and each shelf held a dead body.  Whatever this place was, it still acted as a mausoleum.  The only exit from the room was a single door to the north, and Shenuesh, eager to find his brother, had no problem stepping through.  

Sister Sariety was a bit more cautious.  Approaching the door she heard heavy breathing on the other side.  Prepared for anything, the sister pushed the door open further, and found herself staring at a woman.  

In the center of this chamber, half as large as the former, stood a woman performing some kind of weapon kata in the nude.  In her hand was a spear-staff, and she moved from one pose to another, apparently exerting a great amount of effort.  Her body was remarkably featureless.  It was as if she were a moving statue of perfectly smooth skin, just attempting to take on the form of a human.  

"Are you the mother of the children outside?" Sister Sariety asked. 

The woman stopped, and turned to the sister.  "I am Laeada, and I have a deal for you!" she returned.  "Your skin… do you have need of it?"

Laeada offered to pay each member of the party one thousand crowns for their skin.  The money would be paid immediately, but the collection of the skin would not occur for five years.  There was some negotiating and haggling, and it seemed like Laeada would offer four-hundred crowns on a ten-year deal.  But she was clear that no one was leaving her chambers until a deal was struck.  She then descended into the floor, and her skin began to fill the room, all the way until it completely encased everything within.  

Not able to find his brother, Shenuesh rejoined the group and looked at Yaren.  They both nodded.

It was time to fight.  

The battle with Laeada the Skindealer was fairly one-sided.  The creature could reform anywhere she wanted in the room, back in semi-human form, and could even envelop her targets with a pod made of skin.  She performed this trick once on Verren, only to be thwarted by a well placed sword strike from Yaren.  Laeada could also use her arm and the sagging skin at the end as a "whip," but this failed to connect during the battle.  

The party members thrashed the Skindealer… especially Shenuesh.  The werejackal, once he gained his lycanthropic form, started to tear into Laeada, nearly ripping her apart. Screaming for mercy, Laeada begged for her life, and this gave the party pause.

"Please," she shouted.  "Please, I'll give you anything and I'll let you go!"  

Verren wanted money, and the Skindealer agreed.  She handed the party a coffer of one-thousand crowns, and let them all step through the portal.  

Again, the party stood outside the Path of the Dead.  


Quotes



"Because f**k dragons." - Jim the GM was trying to explain why Marc's character Verren was battling a dragon.

"Ears aren't important." - Marc was coming to terms with his character being a skull.  

"Does anyone else want to attack it?" - Andy to the rest of the group after punching Marc's poor unfortunate ectoplasmic form.

"There's an old naked, translucent green jelly guy standing in front of you." - Marc to the rest of the players, trying to describe what they saw.

"Are you like a 'human shaped Slimer' from Ghostbuster?" - Andy to Marc

"Do you notice how most of our decisions can be classified that way? 'No, it's not a terrible idea'..." - Craig was right. 

"I'll take what's behind skin-flap #3, Monty!" - Marc… ew.  

Bonus Features


This week we featured two entirely new, completely original, entries (Cypher "DLC") that you could use at your own table!  

New Descriptor:  Spectral

First, you may have noticed that +Marc Plourde has that new "Spectral" descriptor.  Due to his work schedule Marc has to miss quite a few games this fall and we wanted to work out a reason why his character would pop in and out of the campaign.  The idea of being a sentient skull was completely Marc's and I loved the concept.  When none of the descriptors or foci seemed to fit his character, I offered Marc the chance to create something entirely on his own.  

Hence the new Spectral descriptor!  If you want to use this descriptor in your own game, please check out Marc's blog site Inspiration Strikes.  The link will take you to the post with this specific game mechanic.  


New Creature:  Skindealer

I wanted something creepy for this adventure, an entity that was not entirely good or evil but treated humans like cattle.  Maybe I've been watching too many food documentaries!  After looking through the bestiaries and not finding something that exactly fit my idea, I came up with this creature that was formed of borrowed human skin.

Skindealer 6(18)
  • Motive:  Acquire as much human or near-human skin as possible.  Does not eat, when old skin dies, new skin must be placed on the flesh.
  • Environment:  Crypts, dungeons, caves.
  • Health:  24
  • Damage Inflicted:  Skin Lashing, 6 damage
  • Armor:  2
  • Movement:  Short
  • Modifications:  Due to the exposed nature of the skin, the difficulty of all poisons used against a Skindealer are at Level 4.
  • Combat:  
    • Skin Bubble - If the Skindealer feels threatened it can flatten out and fill up a single, fifty by fifty by fifty foot space as an action.  All attacks (except poison) against this giant skin bubble are against a Level 8 difficulty.  It can then reform anywhere it wishes in that chamber as a move action, similar to teleportation, but must spend a full action to reform the bubble.  
    • Skin Capsule - The Skindealer, as a free action, may touch a creature, and have the entire arm connected to the finger slough off, wrapping up the target.  A speed defense roll, Level 6 difficulty, must be made to dodge this attack.  Escaping from inside the capsule is a Level 7 Might roll.  The Skindealer may only have one target encapsulated in the Skin Capsule.
  • Interaction:  Skindealers love to make deals for flesh, and will offer great riches for human flesh, to be traded at a later date.  They deal typically in human flesh, occasionally near-human flesh, but never in qephilim flesh.  Those who do not wish to complete the deal when that day comes may make an offering of a single child plus the initial payment   The Skindealer then raises this child until a suitable age when it can steal their own skin (typically around twelve).  Any child surrendered to the Skindealer becomes a Skin Thrall (Level 2 creature).  Skin Thralls serve the master by luring adult humans into the Skindealer's lair.  
  • Drop:  1-3 random cyphers and between 500 to 2000 crowns.  Also, if you kill a Skindealer you are left with an Oddity - a single, living lump of flesh the size of a basketball.  The lump never dies.