Sunday 28 December 2014

Merry Midwinter!

Every family has their own Christmas traditions.

As children, Dad would read “The Night Before Christmas” (with me irritatingly quoting it alongside him, knowing it by heart) to us, curled up in front of the open fire in his study – a room we were only allowed into by invitation. Then, we would all go to bed as early as possible, to make Christmas come quicker. We would share a room and fall asleep listening to Christmas songs on cassette. At some point during the night, Dad would sneak in with our stockings and we would wake up to magic.

The stockings would be opened with great delight and proved a cunning way for Dad (and in my earliest memories Mum and Dad) to get a chance at a lie-in. I vividly remember the year we each got a tin of something we particularly liked – I believe one sibling had spaghetti hoops and mine was Campbell’s chicken soup – only on closer inspection, the tins had been opened and carefully resealed: they were now full of sweets! And every stocking had a satsuma in the toe and an apple in the heel.

We would then be allowed to open one tree present before breakfast and the rest throughout the day. I would usually get Sylvanians, Lego and books and that would be enough to keep me quiet throughout the day. The afternoon walk would include a trip to the park and then visiting friends to exchange presents. And there would be lots of chocolate.

These days, we don’t share a room but do still meet up at Dad’s on Christmas Eve. There are far fewer tree presents: we do a lucky dip/secret santa so each of us gets and gives one present. We still all have stockings: Little Sister and I now tend to be in charge of filling these, but everyone puts a few things in everyone else’s. Stockings are then handed to those who haven’t gone to bed, and left outside the doors of those who have. We’re also all less likely to be up at 5am to open them…

Dad cooks the turkey – I can’t remember when it changed to turkey; it was always chicken when I was little – and we usually congregate around the tree for presents once everyone’s digested. Then Husbit and I head over to his Mum’s for more presents (again, a stocking and a lucky dip/secret santa tree present); Boxing Day is spent back with his family eating too much and playing board games.

This year, I got the board game Pandemic twice (well, I got it once and Husbit got it once), so we’re trading one copy in for one of the Arkham Horror expansions we’re missing. I also got some clothes from 3rd Rock Clothing to use when climbing or for circus (I tried the top on for the first time this morning and it’s so comfy I’m refusing to take it off). Husbit’s chipped in to the Paranoia kickstarter for me and I got him a digital piano (with the help of our musical GM) – we’ve both been enjoying that.

Other friends have also received new games, so it looks like a games night may be in order…

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Aberrant - Vienna Aftermath (On the Moon)

When we left the Nova Initiative, Vienna had just been destroyed and Chrissie was in a very bad way. I'm very late posting this. Sorry.

I came to in the forest. The machines that should have been monitoring my condition were silent, unlit. Some of the administrative staff from Project Utopia were staring in horror and, to be honest, with the pain I was in I wasn’t surprised. A quick check revealed I was missing a lot of flesh – hand to my face told me I was lucky to have vision in both eyes, because I don’t think my right eye should have survived.

The members of Team Tomorrow who’d come through Mark’s portal with us gradually led away the civvies – I think mostly or exclusively their staff – until it was just Adam, Mark and I remaining in the glen. I was trying very hard not to cry with the pain and focused on worrying where Stef was. Adam reassured me she was safe – Benedict had said so – so Mark took us back to the Hub. Straight to the medi-bay for me, and we were told Stef was safe.

I fell gratefully unconscious again. Adam watched over me for a while, then thought back to Benedict’s final instructions to him, “There’s a package on my desk. I forgot to give it to Jen. Make sure she gets it.

“I need you to look after the Nova Initiative now.”

Adam went to Benedict’s office. It felt strange without Benedict – an expectant emptiness. The room was immaculate: the package stood in the centre of the desk, with three letters, one for each of Adam, Jen and I. He brought them back to my bedside, where Jen joined us shortly.

I imagine the other two letters were much like mine: very personal, fondly written, offering congratulations on achievements and guidance to help build on these. It wasn’t the pain that brought tears to my eyes. But alongside the powerful sorrow and pride was an excitement: within the letter was encoded my own access to Benedict’s personal lab, allowing me to use it whenever I wanted.

The package was a thick book, densely filled with Benedict’s tiny writing. Jen exclaimed as she looked through it, amazed at what Benedict had foreseen. She went quiet, after a while, and a few days later the book vanished and was never mentioned again. Adam and I didn’t ask.

The world had fallen apart when Vienna burned. Jen arranged for those we cared about – our friends and family – to be taken to safe houses whilst London rioted. Whilst I lay on my bed rebuilding my body, other novas (my team and Team Tomorrow amongst them) worked to quell the worldwide violence and rebuild fractured society.

We quickly learnt we couldn’t run at quite full power. Adam and I found our normally over-active mental link was cut completely dead – as dead as most communication networks. Even once I was mended and back in the air, even once London had calmed again, there was a lot to do.

We did as much as we could. Adam and I ran replacement cables under the oceans as St John Enterprises attempted to reconstruct the internet. Jean and I travelled around the world revisiting our pre-nova lives as doctor and nurse. Adam ran messages.

We went back to what was left of Vienna. To look. There was hope that maybe, somehow, we’d find Benedict. The crater was slowly healing and filling with water, but under that I could see the flows and falls of quantum that drenched this place. No doubt this was what was causing the difficulties in accessing our powers – and in the world at large.

Eventually, we started looking skyward. We needed to gather information from the Nova Initiative satellites, and get them working again. I flew Adam and Stef up there to fiddle. Stef, at our suggestion, also bugged the Project Utopia communication satellites whilst fixing them up. We also gathered the various other satellites floating uselessly about, downloaded any data they were still holding – and destroyed them. We felt that too much information about what had happened – about Vienna – getting out would be dangerous.

Whilst floating about, I spotted the moon didn’t look quite its normal self: it seemed the blast that took out Vienna had carried on out of the atmosphere and clipped the moon. A quick calculation suggested we could fly there in about 20 hours, so we set off (bribing Stef with how cool it would be to be on the moon).

The stars and stripes left by the US astronauts all those years ago was faded beyond recognition. I took my shoes off and ran to leave naked footprints across the surface of the moon. Adam sketched a beautiful piece of art as a signature. We took a quick photo of the three of us with the detritus left by the Apollo crew.

The crater left by the blast was perfectly circular and passed straight through the moon. I’m sure I’ve heard it said a stone with a hole in it is lucky: we were standing on the largest bit of luck I’ve ever seen.

We travelled through the tunnel, and as we neared the centre I heard a strange voice speaking in an almost-language, like no language I’d ever heard. The others couldn’t hear this, but like me did spot the metal girders floating…

There was a room, or half a room. It had evidently been clipped by the blast, but had previously been deep within the moon. There was a flickering light, tiled floor and walls, and a large metal door – too heavy even for me to force open. Stef, after a bit of fiddling, found a panel beneath a floor tile and used this to open the door. Heading in, we realised we were now in an airlock and the previous room had been a sort of waiting room. It led on to one of the strangest experiences of my life so far: a da Vinci’s workshop, of sorts; a room overwhelmed by complicated contraptions made of a marvellous mixture of modern and ancient materials and technology, warm and well lit and dominated by a giant portrait of Jennifer St John.

Once we’d recovered from the shock, we went back to exploring. The gramophone in the corner was playing no record, but seemed to be the source of the voice I’d heard. Closer, the others still couldn’t hear it but I recognised the voice as Benedict’s.

My mind flashed: was he here, somewhere? Could he have been thrown here in the blast and been unable to return but set this up? He’d had several months, but it seemed unlikely: where would he have got the materials from?

Had he been thrown back in time and created this as his sanctuary? This felt even more likely when we found the room filled with paintings of Jenny – some drawn lovingly, some with such a ferociousness of need and loss that they almost hurt to look at. Some of her younger than now, some older. And in the centre, a portrait of Benedict, but his bright blue eyes were stormy grey. But if this was his timeless sanctuary, where was he? We could find nobody, no signs of recent habitation, although the library revealed copies of things written in the last 100 years. And diaries, but we didn’t feel comfortable reading those.

Adam found another workshop with a sheet of material on the bench. He touched it, curious, and it clung to him – glided over his skin and settled there as though part of him. He called Stef and I over: we found several more sheets and again each, on touching one, found it attached itself to us. There were enough sheets for each member of our team and two over. We leapt to the assumption Jen and Alastair. We also discovered we couldn’t even touch a sheet intended for someone else: they backed away.

We flew back as fast as we safely could. The other members of the Nova Initiative were pleased to see us: our detour to the moon meant we’d been gone several days longer than expected and, whilst the satellites we’d fixed were up and running, they’d had no way to contact us. The scientists had developed short-range sub-vocal communicators that were working, though, so we each took one and the material that had collected to us (I’m refraining from calling them ‘suits’ because Adam has been ranting about how they’re superhero suits since we found them) absorbed the mic and retained its function. This is clever stuff that I need to explore more.

We grabbed Jean, Robert, Rachel, Mark and, of course, Jen; found somewhere private and explained we needed to go to the moon. They looked at us like we were crazy but eventually agreed – although Jen refused to take Alastair. We suited her up – the rest of us able to survive in a vacuum – and used the photos we’d taken for Mark to warp us there.

They were amazed by the airlock – we’d cleared away the manmade debris to try and hide the entrance should anyone else come up here, so it came as even more of a surprise to them. We led them in and Jen was stricken.

She’s a very brave woman.

Everyone was quickly suited up in the fibre Benedict seemed to have left us – we had been right in assuming one was for Jen. With the rest of the team around, Stef found another panel from that second workshop that led us deeper into the moon and deeper into the mystery.

A ship, like something out of Adam’s comics, dominated the hangar we found ourselves in. A bit more exploring and we found a room of computers from ancient stone to things that wouldn’t look out of place in the Hub. Stef said the room gave her fizzy knickers so we left her there whilst we carried on. There was a habitation ring of sorts, and it felt like Benedict had built this place with us in mind.

I wondered again if he’d been thrown back through time, but Mark thought it more likely Benedict was older than we knew and had foreseen everything. I don’t know – Jen remembers him as a child; they grew up together. And I’ve met his parents. Or people who believe they’re his parents… Mark’s theory on the portraits is that Benedict had precognition and fell in love with Jen before she was ever born. But I don’t think we’ll know the truth unless we find Benedict again – or if Jen finds something in one of his books that’s she’s prepared to share with us.

The ship in the hangar let us in. Benedict’s face appeared, talking in that strange not-language of the gramophone. With the password of ‘Alastair’ being given, the ship revealed its cockpit: the whole ship had seemed empty at first, but seats and panels appeared as we needed them.

With imperceptible motion, the ship flew through a forcefield appearing like a wall and flew us back to Earth: through the Antarctic, through the Earth and back to a level of the Hub deeper than we’d known existed.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Dropping to Success

I've managed to get very behind - I have two sessions worth of Aberrant to write and post, and a Pathfinder session that I'll be writing from Jvala's journal, as the last few, but also as a separate Svetlana fanfic. I also want to write up some of the other board games I've been playing (most notably Arkham Horror, which I was amazed to realise I hadn't raved over already). I've made a start on some of this but, as I said, am hideously behind.

There are a few reasons for this - my first OU assignment was due in and I spent more time on it than I'd hoped (I'm really out of practice when it comes to essay writing!); I've been pretty tired because it's become very stressful at work - and it's stressful at work because there's a degree of panic because I've given my notice to start a new job in January! I'm very excited about this - it's a job that I think will suit me much better than the one I'm in, as well as coming with more benefits. So a brilliant opportunity for me and I'm thrilled.

Whilst I try and get the various roleplay and board game posts sorted, here's a video of me doing my very first drop on silks - another thing I'm excited about!

Monday 24 November 2014

Circus Bits and Pieces

I've been a bit remiss in getting videos and photos at circus, but here's a few of recent aerial hoop work:

One of the reasons I've not had so many videos is that the quality on my phone camera suddenly dropped, for which I apologise. Anyway, quite chuffed with this video all the same - rolls are a lot of fun!

Because my phone camera has been playing up, I used a different one to get this video. Am very, very pleased with this move - a hock drop. I could not have done this a couple of months ago, because it requires core strength to maintain the control as you drop. Without the control, it simply wouldn't be safe. It might be a bit less flashy than the rolls, but in terms of ability this feels to me a far better demonstration of how far I'm coming.

Am sure it goes without saying, but please don't try the things in the videos without suitable supervision!

Friday 21 November 2014

Filler Post!

Feeling a bit guilty that I haven't got around to writing up last Friday's Aberrant or Saturday's Arkham Horror or the various other things I've been wanting to write about. So here's a picture of me doing a very painful aerial hoop move to make up for it.

In my defense, I've been busy with various projects and then migraines which took me out of action for a while. Should be back to normal soonish...

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Pathfinder Interlude - Part 2: Mivon and Drelev's Folly

One of the rather fun things about this interlude is that our GM is giving us a chance to play (and thus flesh out) some of the NPC’s we’ve created as backstory or downtime flavour. In this session, we popped to Kieran’s town, Drelev’s Folly, and met Marshal Daybreaker (one of Paul’s NPCs).

Also, I apologise for jumping between tenses: I’m trying to write this as Jvala’s personal notes, so they’re written in scraps of time she gets which means sometimes she’s writing about what has happened, sometimes what is happening, sometimes what will happen that will then become what has happened.

Finally, quick comment on ‘The Brevic Times’. This is one of the cool props our GM makes for us: a news sheet that massages our egos by including things our characters have done as well as offering insight into plot – providing hooks for future and reminders for past.

A few days after being on the boat, starting to get used to it. Chatting to sailors – let us on deck if Tanna keeps an eye. Not going to burn anything on purpose, but accidents happen and not like wolves/leopards are used to ships.

Copy of Brevic times from start of the month lying around. Turns out our barons have gone up in world – Alexei Vasilev and Chester Goldhawk now Earls and Svetlana Chekhov has married King Noleski of Brevoy to become Queen. Magical fluctuations in Restov (presumably the ones we were told about in Absalom) from Court Magister Malliard helping take down the Thieves’ Guild. Not sure if still relevant to investigations. Something about Dawnlands(?) and that they killed a bandit known as the Stag Lord.

Rumours of river pirates seem unsubstantiated.

Until day pirates boarded.

Big ghostly ship loomed. Crew grabbed arms. Captain explained they were insured for the cargo so we waited. Boarded by appearing on deck – no swimming or swinging or firing cannons: tall male elf with dark shoulder-length hair, slender woman with distant expression, three piratical types at back. Demanded cargo, so crew started to bring onto deck. Fine until pirate captain demanded we handover valuables. Zabeel not capable so shot him.

Didn’t go well: pirate captain can fight well and didn’t kill anyone. Knocked out crew. Lady by him fired lightning at us and got in trouble. After we took down two of his crew, he gave us a chance: put up our weapons and they’d leave. His boat continued at our side, travelling wrong way up river. Powerful magic. Warned us not to fly Galt flag here. Why not?

Turns out, pirate captain Sethyn is bastard son of Duke Cornelius. Has some relief at hearing Duke Augustus is dead. Hates Duchess Caroline: step-son rivalry or is she less than she seemed?

Having established we are not affiliated with Galt, Sethyn offered passage to Mivon: his boat much faster than the one we’re with. Sethyn never met the barons earls we’re chasing; knows them by reputation. The one that married the king (Svetlana) is a bit of a sap but the ragged one (Alexei) is the one to watch out for. They have a large black cat travels with them – bigger than Flash but looks like a fluffy squashed nose cat (Katepeshi?)

Rumour that the great fire of Mivon (6 months ago) was started by the barons earls: Sethyn certainly seems to believe this. Rumours of vampires in Mivon too.

Wonder who Sethyn’s mother is?

Mivon v. impressive but very much city: no freedom for wildlife. A little uncomfortable for me & think Tanna really struggled with it. So controlled. Even surrounding marshes tamed.

Big walls surround city. Patrolled by guards – some v. big with helmets hiding faces. Greeted by image of the mayor Raston Selline – appeared for all new arrivals. Lots of use of magic tricks and devices evident: people carrying v. heavy loads with no visible effort, and floating trolleys.

Current Brevic Times: bounty on Sethyn. Details of successful brewer from Brevoy (Lord Asher). Other odds and ends.

City v. clean. Booked in to ‘The Lusty Mermaid’ on Sethyn’s recommendation. But first trip round town. Sam napping but Tanna and I want to investigate so we can move on. Zabeel & Vernus are joining.

Made way to memorial gardens. Big fountain to commemorate lives lost in fire: so many names! Tanna reckons around 6,000. Peaceful space; everyone quiet.

No clues. Decided to go to branch of Silver Serpent Trade Guild – building is one of very few survived fire so may have some info (paper clipping or something) from earls’ visit.

Not as much as we’d hoped: receptionist (Michael – knows Bella! Will have to tell her next time I’m in Absalom) never met earls but helpful all the same. Speaks Ignan (weird – only met one other person who could speak it and they were ifrit too. Hadn’t even known it was a real language and not just something I’d made up ‘til then and now a human speaking it). Didn’t think earls were responsible for fire – surprised by suggestion. Explained had been there to set up trade deals but couldn’t give us details except seemed lucrative. The cat was Katepeshi but normal sized. Set up meeting with Mayor Selline for tomorrow then arranged ‘sky taxi’ to take us back.

Tanna didn’t like look of basically a flying, horseless, wheelless carriage so walking back with beasties. View is amazing. City v. beautiful but in v. organised manner. Not seen anyone poor or begging, but there are even people cleaning the roofs so seems have found ways to employ everyone.

Massive prosperity has Zabeel thinking: Mivon largely being rebuilt with help of Lord Irovetti from Pitax. Massive infrastructure needed and so much work done so quickly: did Irovetti conspire with our earls to start the fire so they could take over? Troops from Pitax marched with the Brevic forces to the Crusade, so link. Needs investigating. Hopefully Mayor Selline can help.

Picked up lots of rumours from the pub.  People here much more relaxed – maybe the fireproofing means less afraid of me? Happier to talk than most places I’ve been. Will try to come back in future. Hehe, though – poor Zabeel! Really doesn’t like strangers and people kept trying to talk to him ‘til Vernus let him hide in his room.

But for me, a few people had news of earls! Rumours, anyway: were seen in area of fire. Seen going in and out of shifty alchemist’s: some confusion on name. Maybe Esteban, Estevez; probably Ezekiel. Very competent (particularly in removal of personal warts) but still chose to work in poor quarter when could probably work in better parts. Earl Alexei, specifically, was seen near alley where guy called Paul was found, bled to death. Contrasts to usual claim that they’re good/nice with trouble following. More rumours of this Katepeshi cat: normal size (but some arguments).

Mayor Raston Selline: looks and sounds just like his image from docks. Seemed eager to talk about earls. Here on diplomatic tour – life and soul of party. Earl Alexei particularly popular. And after fire, pledged much assistance to help rebuild city using funds from their recently brokered trade deals (supporting Zabeel’s suggestion re: working with lord Irovetti?). Full of praise.

Mentioned Dawnlands: explained this is region south of Brevoy. Showed on map: v. big region. From Brevic Times article, awarded to them for killing Stag Lord. Seems a lot to get for that. I've killed bandits. Restov is city to north, Varnhold region to east: both also on list of places to investigate from Pathfinder Society.

Tour consisted of Earls Alexei and Chester (barons at the time) with various associates including Sir Akaros Ismort, paladin of Iomedae, and Gregor, their diplomatic advisor (Mayor Selline says smooth/nice but maybe too much so: doesn’t entirely trust him). Queen Svetlana not with them: had stayed in New Stetvon after their promotion to barony to be trained for new role. Suggestion this may have meant as more than baron, in light of recent wedding.

Remembers the cat.

Says there was a vampire problem in Mivon but the fire seems to have taken care of it. More praise of assistance given by earls in putting fire out & rebuilding – also of Lord Irovetti. Irovetti and Selline have joined forces.

Leaving, realised the stone of this Town Hall same as stone of Trade Guild: both buildings survived fire: both local stone. Most rebuilt buildings made of imported stone. Tonnes of it. Again, Zabeel’s theory: they must have had this ready to go to have moved so fast. Must have known it was coming.

Pitax felt a good next stop. Poured over maps: Sethyn said could take us a way up on his way to New Stetvon – town en route recently changed name but had dock of sorts and would be best place to start out west across land.

Town now called ‘Drelev’s Folly’. Sethyn remembered it as being v. dingy with rotten gangplank into water. Still dingy, but obvious signs of rebuilding & halfway built dock. Disembarked, met by town marshal, Marshal Daybreaker.

Town name came from previous ruler – Baron Drelev. Like our earls, was awarded land for various efforts on behalf of Brevoy. Treated town badly: his enjoyment at their expense. Was found to be planning to betray Brevoy and switch sides to Pitax. Executed by Earl Alexei with hooded executioner. Town then run by Baron Costello: Marshal Daybreaker spoke v. highly of him. All improvements thanks to him. Town now part of Dawnlands.

Baron Costello is younger son of minor noble family. Was working as bodyguard for King Noleski Surtova in Absalom during all that trouble. Joined our earls afterwards. Rides a griffon called Brutus – Daybreaker showed us field where Brutus had landed. Largest imprint of any beast I have ever seen. Never heard of such a large griffon. This group like big cats. Costello’s family have history of griffons: ‘rite of passage’ to find and tame one. Kinda cool.

Execution of Drelev sounds brutal: his family killed in front of him, then torturous death. Townsfolk seem to feel he deserved it. Almost idolise Baron Costello.

Plot thickens: sounds like a lot of anger towards Drelev for threat of betrayal to Pitax. Sounds like great loyalty to Brevoy against Pitax. Sounds like a lot of effort for them to be hiding their own relationship with Lord Irovetti, so maybe Zabeel’s theory is wrong? But seems so likely, given situation in Mivon.

Daybreaker could arrange horses for us: barbarian tribe to north used to cause problems, but not since Baron Costello visited them. Now trade often and have access to the mines. Sethyn offered to take us on to New Stetvon if we’d rather. After some discussion, decided to go with that plan: Pitax can wait. There may be more information in New Stetvon that could explain this connection or otherwise with Irovetti.

Sailing in to New Stetvon: nickname very apt - ‘City of Wooden Palaces’. Nearly all wood, built over lake. Stone temple to Gorum stands out but even more so the Ruby Fortress, home of Dragonstone Throne and where King Noleski is based.

It only seems to stop raining here when it wants to snow.

Friday 7 November 2014

Pathfinder Interlude - Part 1: The Dukes of Galt [amended]

Pathfinder interlude: if you’ve been following the Pathfinder write-ups, you’ll be aware that the main player party has just got back from a few weeks in the Abyss to discover 5 years has passed on Golarion. We’re now going to be playing through those 5 years as different, less powerful characters; in part because the GM wants to show us how much of an impact the actions of our main characters has had on this world.

One of the nice things he’s doing is making us keep in-character journals as part of our work for the Pathfinder Society – and the snippets he particularly likes will go up on his blog as part of our report. I don’t have the journal so am writing this up as a separate sort of journal.

Here’s Jvala’s story.

Back in Absalom for my great-niece’s wedding. It’s as crowded as ever, but since Cinder and Flash are both fully grown now I’ve noticed people tend to give me more space as I walk the streets. Relief that some of my youngest relatives were not afraid of them – and were gentle with them. Managed to get through it without losing my temper with my late sister-in-law’s family, at least. But it was good to get back to my room and find I’d been summoned by the Pathfinder Society – excuse to make a speedy exit from town.

Made way over – Flash and Cinder had to wait outside but spotted my friend Tanna’s hawk, Skydancer. Went in; went down to the depths. This place always impresses me. Would love to come 500 years after it’s been abandoned to really explore and make it mine. But enough digressing.

Went down and saw Tanna there, and Sam warming herself (himself? catself?) by the fire. Joined Tanna at the table and the reserved drow Zabeel skulked over to us – Sam and Vernus Umber joined when our venture captain, Ambrus Valsin came over. I’ve worked with Tanna, Zabeel and Sam before, but not Vernus.

Ambrus was accompanied by another man. Not seen him before – turned out to be the Master of Spells, Arum Zey. More forthcoming with information (and funds). Liked him. Basically, they wanted us to go investigate some new barons from Brevoy, who’d been involved in the problems Absalom had had to deal with recently. Not a huge amount for us to go on - a few locations to check out in the north: Galt, Mivon, Pitax, Restov (some big surge of magical energy reported there) and New Stetvon (again, some reports of a recent gathering of very powerful individuals). Should be a bit of an adventure, but made sure my cold weather gear was safely packed before we left. Boat north-east to Taldor. Not my favourite way to travel, but the simplest route in and out of Absalom.

Travelled north from Taldor into Galt. En route, passed group setting up on side of road in the mountain passes. Refugees from Galt. Wouldn’t open up to me, but Tanna got them talking. The Duke Cornelius had been killed and his brother let the country go to ruin so they had no choice but to go elsewhere. Plot thickens.

Northwards to Isarn, capital of Galt. Learn a bit more about Duke Cornelius. Seems he was a pretty good leader, country doing well under him, respected. His wife had been there when he was killed, had gone into shock. Duke Cornelius’s surviving brother, his twin Augustus, was running the country. Seemed he’d taken the death badly, too, though; was running the country poorly as we’d seen from the refugees on the road but also as we moved through Galt.

Isarn in particular showed signs of having had better days. Most of the city worn down, disrepair – like a temple, abandoned but once loved. Except by the palace where Augustus lived. Seemed all the effort (and money) was being spent on keeping this area nice. At everyone else’s expense.

Went to the square where Cornelius’s head was found. Brown stain on the wall: suspected his blood. Mysterious person appeared, ‘Sam Spade’ of Mythic Investigations. Possibly got some kind of cursed office: everything went sepia and he kept narrating. Irritating, but stopped when we moved away from his office. Using a few bits of kit I’d not seen before, he confirmed the stain was Cornelius’s blood, shed when his head was cut off. Also said he’d spoken to our barons, worked with them briefly in Absalom. Makes me wonder if we should have done some more investigating before we left the city.

Arranged appointment to see Duke Cornelius’s surviving wife, Duchess Caroline. Sam, pretending to be a small girl, snuck off past the handmaiden who greeted us and found her way to the lady. Not entirely sure what Sam got up to, but a bit later the guards raced out of the room, so I crept out after to find the lady sat with a bruise developing on her face and the guards poking with sticks under the bed. The lady indicated she was alright and didn’t need any help and I was pretty sure Sam could look after herself so I waited.

Sam led guards on a merry chase. Ultimately apologised to Lady Caroline for accidentally throwing a ball at her face and we headed back to the other room, where Tanna was continuing to try and negotiate with the handmaiden. Lady Caroline silenced them with a wave of her hand – and spoke.

She was kind enough to give us her eye witness account. Two men in crazy red armour. One was silent – but his bright blue eyes struck her. The other brutally slew her husband in their bed as he begged for mercy. She couldn’t understand it: the rightful ruler of Galt, murdered. His head left with a note suggesting he’d been involved in ordering a black lotus assassination attempt against one of our baron’s – half-orc Chester Goldhawk.

Explained Augustus was ruining country, wrecking the relations they’d built with other nations. She’d helped Cornelius (if Augustus was out of the picture, would she not be a better ruler?)

Cornelius had spoken to her of the barons we’re to investigate: good people, he felt, but trouble followed them.

Her description of Augustus and his ability to rule made me so angry I nearly burnt my Pathfinder journal as I wrote it up in the pub after.

Next thing we hear, Augustus is missing. Wanted to speak to him, so wondered if he’d legged it cos he heard we were investigating – maybe he ordered the death of his brother (something in the note: maybe Augustus arranged both assassinations; tried to blame the black lotus one on his brother then had him killed and didn’t want us to find out?)

Went to guard house to see if we could help – also because we were summoned just for being at palace. Couldn’t give much info – they were thinking kidnapping & waiting for note.

Left. Tanna went a bit quiet but didn’t really notice until she became very distressed – we turned back: someone had killed Skydancer. She’d noticed we were being followed, asked hawk to watch out and he’d been shot. Others raced to roof tops to try to find whilst I tried to calm friend with help of Cinder. Not sure exactly what she did, but with some oils consecrated the body and it melted away [reincarnate spell].

Epic roof top chase ensued – less fun than it sounds. Eventually discovered the guards were after us. Claimed they had evidence Duke Augustus had been killed and we were associates. Weren’t listening when we denied – ran before they could pin it on us in fake court.

Hope Caroline gets to rule but Zabeel doubts it.

Sam was missing as we commandeered a boat – fee is a lot less when you point a gun at the captain. Needs must and all that. Stowed us away. Hate boats. He rejoined us in his halfling disguise a few towns along the river.

Don't know who killed the Duke. Know I wanted to, listening to the people talk, seeing the ruin. Kinda thing I might have done, if he’d been there in front of me when everyone was telling me the worst of him. I wanted to.

May Desna forgive me.

Day Two of the ARBBL Pick'n'Mix 2014


I think a fourth side stepper would have been a better choice, as I didn't use sprint at all.

Game One – vs Cantaloupe’s Chaos

Gate 8-5

We last faced each other for some Wood Elf vs Wood Elf violence at last summer’s Cake, and I think he was after some revenge.

The game started well for the skinks: Hemlock failed to catch the hand off, but another skink grabbed it, allowing the krox to kill a chaos warrior. A both down blitz on my ball carrier left the ball fairly safe, but even with a reroll the skinks couldn’t pick it up and the minotaur killed the krox! The ball passed between the teams, whilst 2 skinks dodged to death and the chaos team killed Hemlock, the sprinting skink and one of the side stepping skinks: with an earlier crowd surf and some knock outs, this left 3 skinks on pitch. One held the ball tightly as the beast swarmed in and killed him. The ball bounced free, but the remaining skinks couldn’t pick it up and another was swiftly knocked out.

Once the beastmen finally managed to get the ball, the final remaining skink ran up to the ball carrier and, with a ½ die block, joined most of his friends in the dead & injured box. With a short pass and hand off, the chaos were able to score at the end of the first half.

Fortunately, all the knock outs came back (hurray for babes!), meaning the skinks could line up with 5 players – one with side step. Who was killed by the minotaur immediately. The first turn saw another skink dead, one knocked out, one stunned and one bravely staying on his feet. In a bit of a panic, the surviving skink blitzed the minotaur for a push. The minotaur blitzed back to stun the brave skink, whilst the previously stunned skink was fouled to death.

There followed several turns of various members of the chaos team (including the minotaur) fouling the remaining skink for stuns – until turn 7, where a beastman finally managed to kill him. The chaos team scored in the hopes the knocked out skink would return to be killed… This gave me two turns to score, and a pitch invasion decimated his team (the minotaur, 3 chaos warriors and a beastman down). Unfortunately, a failed pick up using the reroll took away that brief hope, but the chaos team also sadly failed their goal, knocking out rather than killing the skink on their blitz.

Final score: TD 0-2; CAS 1-10
I know they look like Slaan, but they are skinks; honest!
Game Two – vs BlocknRoll’s Chaos Pact

Gate 8-5

The game started with pouring rain, but the first kick off calmed this down to nice weather. For the fifth game, I’d won both fame and the kick off and again chose to go first. The krox stunned the ogre and a skink managed to knock out a marauder on a both down – but failed to pick up the ball first. Bomber Dribblesnot then fumbled his bomb – but was ok. The krox then hit the troll over whilst skinks got the ball to Hemlock, who ran up the pitch with skinks running up as distractions (with some uncanny dodging to make up for previous games). His big guys stood up and the skaven blitzed Hemlock – hurray for side step! However, Hemlock can’t dodge. The Pact team got as close around the ball as they could, with tentacles to make it as difficult as possible for me to get it – but his skaven also can’t dodge and his third reroll was used to end turn 3. A bit of lucky dodging let the skinks score.

The next drive started with relief on his side – sure hands meant he was able to pick the ball up. Short lived relief, though, with a both down block ending the turn. A quick blitz left the ball in the hands of a supporting skink. A three dice block stripped the ball loose, where the skaven managed to catch it. A stun from the chainsaw resulted in him being sent off, with some relief from the skinks! In response, the krox killed the minotaur – and the troll killed a side stepping skink. The Krox failed to knock the ball loose, but the next turn the ogre boneheaded when he was meant to blitz, meaning the skaven had to dodge and as established both yesterday and previously in this game, skaven can’t dodge. So the skinks grabbed the ball and scored.

This gave him a chance to achieve a one turn touchdown, but even with a reroll from the kick off table the goblin failed to pay enough attention to accept the hand off.

The second half started with a continuation of bad luck for BlocknRoll: the troll blocked with a skull and 2 both downs. He passed the loner roll to get a pow. The ogre fumbled the throw team mate, but the goblin landed safely. The turn ended with a marauder double skulling a skink. Hemlock raced in to stab and KO the goblin – a marauder caught the bouncing ball, so the skinks swarmed in to put as many tackle zones around him as they could – but forgot he could just hand off to the dark elf, which he promptly did. A quick blitz on the dark elf went from a push/skull to double skull on the reroll so the dark elf could blitz away. The krox knocked out the troll, but the skinks used a reroll to go from a skull to a skull on their second attempt to hit the dark elf. Blitzing away, the dark elf needed a reroll to keep from falling but managed to score.

So my turn 4 started with a skink dying on a GFI to hand off the ball, even with the free reroll we’d both just won. The dark elf also failed a GFI with reroll so the krox killed the ogre… and a failed dodge resulted in a knocked out skink. The skaven just about managed to get the ball so was swarmed with skinks whilst Hemlock attempted to stab the dark elf. The Pact then failed their GFI for a blitz; the skinks pushed the ball around ineffectively whilst the krox killed a marauder. More pushing on his turn and a failed dodge on mine ended the game.

Final Score: TD 2-1; CAS 3-1

This was more down to his bad luck than my skill, although for both of us rerolls were basically useless.

Game Three – vs Australopithecus’s Ogres

Gate 3-8 meant I lost fame for the first time – and he had two lots! Another new opponent for me, as well.

Another game starting in the pouring rain. Again, I was going first but this time a blitz meant the weather was staying bad – the blitz was not very successful. Hemlock tried stabbing a snotling with no joy. The ball was quickly recovered, but again a skink failed a dodge in an effort to offer protection. An ogre, needing a reroll on the GFI, successfully blitzed the ball carrier to knock the ball loose, but couldn’t pick it up. Hemlock managed to kill a snotling whilst another skink failed a GFI in an attempt to add tackle zones to the ball. An ogre then blitzed with a reroll: 5 out of 6 dice came up skulls, but the sixth was the pow he needed – but his snotlings still couldn’t pick up the ball.

The krox – feeling very outnumbered – killed an ogre whilst a group of plucky skinks pushed another onto the ball, and as it bounced free one caught it. The ball carrier was pushed around whilst Hemlock was knocked down – a snotling then got himself sent off for fouling without breaking armour. The skinks were unable to break a route through the ogres defence, and the ball carrier failed a dodge to drop the ball in the open. Even with a reroll, the ogre nearest the ball was unable to pick it up so the skinks grabbed it and ran. Just in time, too; the ogre chased them down but failed the GFI needed to hit them. The krox killed another ogre and the skinks ran the ball in to score on turn 6.

A high kick let a snotling catch the ball. An ogre stood by another snotling in a good position for a throw teammate attempt. The only problem was the skink in his tackle zone. Not to worry: another ogre was on hand to take him out… but decided to bonehead instead. Another ogre was called up to be the star and blitz the skink away… and he also boneheaded to the premature snickers of the skink: the snotling accepted the handoff and the ogre threw him down the pitch, ignoring the skink’s attempts to stop him. The throw was wild, however, and the snotling too afraid to land so close to skinks and knocked himself out. The skinks were too excited by this turn of events to pick up the ball – although one had the foresight to run down the pitch in case they achieved it. Fortunately, the ogres also couldn’t grab the ball, although they did put a tackle zone on the running skink – so the skinks knocked over an ogre and pushed off the one giving the tackle zone only to once again fail the pick up (pouring bloody rain). In vengeance, an ogre finally managed to kill a skink before a both down ended the half.

The second half started a little more successfully for the ogres: a bit worried by Hemlock’s ability to (fairly easily) take out snotlings, they blitzed to knock him down, then sent in some snotlings to kick him to stunned. The snotling in charge of picking up the ball was too busy watching this and the ball scattered loose. The skinks raced down the pitch to get as close as they could until one eventually failed a dodge. This clearly intimidated the snotlings by the ball, as they still couldn’t pick it up. Hemlock stabbed the snotling nearest him as the skinks near the ball in the backfield carefully lined themselves up by the ball – with a side stepper in the end zone and the vague hope a failed pick up would bounce the ball into his hands for a score… the failed pick up achieved, a skink earlier in the chain clearly hadn’t been listening and caught the ball. The ogres, too far away to achieve much, killed a skink still by them. Brave little snotling attempted to hit the ball carrier for a push, and the skinks scored.

In the next kick off, the ball flew wild assisting the throw teammate attempt. Again, the ogre behaved well but the snotling messed up his landing and was carted off the pitch to the dead and injured box. The skinks grabbed the ball but failed to hand it off, leaving it precariously near the side line where an ogre similarly couldn’t get it – but the skinks tried again and ran down the pitch with it, only for the ball carrier to be stunned by a punch from an ogre. Annoyed, Hemlock stabbed the ogre player who’d managed to grab the ball (putting them in the KO box), but the other skinks couldn’t make the most of this. A snotling grabbed the ball… but knocked itself out on a dodge. The skinks grabbed it, but again couldn’t hand it off successfully. The ogres seemed in a state of confusion by the point, giving the skinks just enough time to grab the ball and score to end the game.

Final score: TD 3-0; CAS 4-2

It was the pouring rain that won me the game.

So: final scores!

Pleased to note that of the 5 Exiles in attendance, 4 were in the top 10 and that I placed higher than both the people who beat me (Canteloup and Lunchmoney). I’m also very amused that of Canteloup’s 14 total casualties, 10 were against my little skinks! (By my reckoning, I caused 2 more and took 2 less casualties than is showing in the record, so wonder if I gave a score sheet the wrong way round; I also think I conceded one fewer touchdowns, so maybe my notes are just wrong…. If someone I played can see an error in one of the scores I’ve given above – most likely BlocknRoll or Australopithecus, as I didn’t write down the final score at the time – please let me know).

Exiles on Tour!