Monday, 31 December 2012

Last Entry of 2012

Howdy all!

Jerreth Esq. here with my last entry of 2012. Sorry to say it isn't the Yearly Retrospective I've been ignoring working on; I'm hoping I'll get that up sometime in January. But before the year is over, I want to gush a bit about Star Wars: Edge of the Empire.

My feelings on this game can best be summed up in the final panel of the comic strip below:

Penny-Arcade copyright Mike Krahulik & Jerry Holkins

My heart is on FIRE. :'D

Yesterday my EotE gaming group had our fourth and final session of the Beta Rulebook adventure: Crates of Krayts. With everyone mostly familiar and comfortable with the core mechanics and gameplay, it went hella smooth compared to our first session. We finally started to look beyond the suggestions in the book and interpret the dice results cinematically, which I think enhanced the fun threefold. I had an awesome time, and I'm pretty sure my players had great fun as well. Evidently, I/we must be doing something right because we've decided to continue EotE as our Sunday game; and I'm glad for this because a) I'd like to get more practice/experience with the system as I'm going to run it at GottaCon (Yes, I finally decided! I'm going to run the Beginner Game!), and b) I friggin' love this game!

I've said in the past that WotC's Star Wars: Saga Edition is my favourite incarnation of the d20 system, but I think FFG's game is my favourite Star Wars RPG period. It just does Star Wars better.

Speaking of the Beginner Game, I was a little worried when I submitted my slot info to the event coordinators, as despite playing the Beta, I had yet to actually posses the Beginner Game! But that changed when I was able to grab a copy at my FLGS Saturday after work.

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner Game

I was going to do a little unboxing review of the it, but I changed my mind and I'll just direct those interested in such to Gabe from Penny-Arcade and Agent 94 from The GSA's reviews. I will give a few of my initial thoughts and impressions though:

  • I agree with Agent 94; the box itself is rather disappointing, being made out of thin cardboard. It would've been rather nice to have a sturdy box to store/carry around the materials and the Beta Rulebook. Alas.
  • One of the chief reasons why my friend and I each picked up a copy of the Beginner game was for the set of dice it comes with, as using the stickers provided with the Beta to make your own set or the Dice App for iOS or Android just isn't the same as having the actual dice. It just feels right. But in that regard I was a little disappointed as the dice failed to meet the expectations I had formed on their appearance from the Dice App and the images of them from FFG. Don't get me wrong, these dice are much easier to read at a distance than their sticker'ed counterparts, but the material and colours they're made out of doesn't really match the hues portrayed in the books. The green and purple dice are darker, the blue die is much whiter, and the yellow's corn-hue is kinda lame. Also the symbols are inset into the dice and not just printed on, which doesn't look as sleek but is probably a good move design-wise as printed symbols would be more likely to get worn off. Here's a comparison below:

The Actual Dice

The Portrayed Dice

  • I'm probably just nit-picking here. I mean once we started rolling them in our game, the appearance didn't matter at all. They are easier to read, and that's what's most important I think.
  • As for the Adventure provided, Escape from Mos Shutta, it's geared toward teaching the mechanics of the game to new players and the GM a little at a time through each encounter. Since we've played the Beta, it's not so useful for our group now but it is written for introducing the game to new gamers, which I think will come in handy when I run it for new players at GottaCon.
  • The follow-up adventure, Long Arm of the Hutt, is available as a PDF from FFG, and is more of a standard adventure. Very well written.
  • The various tokens the set came with are pretty decent, but being a huge mini fan myself they'll see little use I think, and I made my own Destiny tokens by finding some loose backgammon checkers and painting one side of them black. (You can see my tokens in the bottom right of the box photo above. They don't look as cool as the Lightside/Darkside symbols on the left side, but they're more tactile in my opinion.)
  • The Beginner Rulebook is a handy quick-reference for rules, but it omits many of the rules from the core game for obvious reasons so it can only be so useful once one owns the Core Rulebook. I've also noticed some of the rules it does provide have been altered from the Beta Rulebook (even after the last errata). I'm not sure if this will reflect the final rules we'll see in the Core Rulebook, or if it's just simplification for beginners. That said I do like most of these changes, and will use them in place of some of the Beta rules.
  • All in all, I think the Beginner Game is a good holdover till the Core Rulebook comes out Spring 2013. Another thing to look forward to in the New Year!
I also wanted to mention that my range-band-target idea has been a really useful aid for all of us during our sessions. I'm definitely going to utilize it at the convention. One thing I'm going to add to improve it is a few sidebars that stat out the silhouette differences that effect Gunnery checks during Starship and Vehicle combat.

/end fanboy

And that concludes my final entry of 2012! I want to thank everyone for visiting this year, and I wish you all a happy 2013 of gaming!

Cheers! ;{١

Monday, 24 December 2012

Music To Roleplay To: Middle-Earth

In celebration of the recent theatrical release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, today's entry of Music To Roleplay To is dedicated to brave adventuring in that legendary realm of high fantasy: Middle-Earth.

It perhaps goes without saying, that one of the largest collections of Tolkien-inspired music available comes directly from the films based upon the authors' works. I am mostly referring to The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the forthcoming The Hobbit trilogy by Peter Jackson with scores by Howard Shore. As a whole The Complete Recordings soundtrack editions of The Lord of the Rings amount to over 10 hours of music! Add in the Special Edition soundtrack for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and you have over half a days worth! Last Updated: 01/2014

  • The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

And don't forget the future release of the soundtrack for The Hobbit: There and Back Again!

Next, I need mention the brilliant work by the Danish group The Tolkien Ensemble, who've not only composed their own musical interpretation of The Lord of the Rings, but set their music to live recitations of the poems and songs from the books; including a number recorded by Christopher Lee (Saruman) himself!
At Dawn in Rivendell

  • An Evening in Rivendell (1997)
  • A Night in Rivendell (2000)
  • At Dawn in Rivendell [feat. Christopher Lee] (2002)
  • Leaving Rivendell (2005)
  • Complete Songs & Poems (2006)

But these works aren't the only music produced that's based upon Middle-Earth, there exists many more. Here are a few select choices:

  • If you can track it down, Leonard Rosenman's original soundtrack for Ralph Bakshi's J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is a bit bold-themed but may be a good addition to your fellowships' soundtrack.
  • The folksy vocal work by Glenn Yarbrough for the 1977 Rankin/Bass animated special The Hobbit deserves mention, that is if you think its very light-hearted tone works for your Middle-Earth games.
  • Though released the same year as The Fellowship of the Ring, David Arkenstone's excellent Music Inspired By Middle Earth is neither directly related or inspired by the film itself.
  • Symphony No. 1 (The Lord of the Rings) by Johan de Meij is a phenomenal piece of work.
  • The Celtic group, Brobdingnagian Bards, were headliners at the Oscar party for The Return of the King after gaining acclaim for their album Memories of Middle-Earth.

For those of you more inclined to "heavier" Middle-Earth tunes, try checking out Blind Guardian's themed album: Nightfall in Middle-Earth, Bob Catley's rock album Middle Earth, works by the Finnish metal band Battlelore and the Austrian metal band Summoning, and/or the song The Battle of Evermore by Led Zepplin.

The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild

There have been quite a number of RPG's based off of J.R.R. Tolkien's works, such as Iron Crown Enterprises' Middle-Earth Roleplaying and The Lord of the Rings Adventure Game; Decipher's Lord of the Rings RPG; Eä RPG; and The One Ring by Cubicle 7, who went out of their way to develop over an hour of music in half a dozen background themes collected in this playlist:

Other RPGs these tunes could work well in: The Mouse Guard hack Realm Guard; or any generic fantasy system adapted to Middle-Earth such as BRP, Dungeons & Dragons, GURPS, Harnmaster, etc.

I also feel that's worth mentioning, which is an excellent resource for any RPG based in Middle-Earth.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

FATE Core Kickstarter

Wow. Not even full day of existing and the kickstarter for FATE Core is at funded currently over $55,000!

It's few remaining stretch goals are going to be eliminated soon, hopefully they'll make some more once we roll over them!

I'm backed, now I've got nice draft copy to peruse at my leisure.


Monday, 3 December 2012

SW: EotE - Range Bands and Minis

I really enjoy my Star Wars minis, and I've been trying to figure out a way to still make use of them in the cinematic-style game Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. My first attempt using them was for place holders for PCs and NPCs on the dynamic initiative track, but that didn't turn out so well since I didn't explain the non-static nature of initiative in combat that well and some players thought the track was set like most games, and to complicate it further I tried to use the minis as a rudimentary way to show distances between the PCs and the NPCs they were fighting. Plus it ended up looking dumb. I've decided to keep these two ideas separate: I'm going to use cards for initiative next time.

As for the range bands, I've thought about it a bit and after seeing all the range bands laid-out in a hex grid in one of gribble's reference sheets, I had the idea to turn over our battle-mat and use the hex side of it to map out a range-band-target for minis. I designated the mats' centre hex and the six that surrounded it as the general area where the PCs would be in a basic encounter. Using the range-ruler from X-Wing that just happened to be on hand, I marked out the range bands Short, Medium, and Long from the bullseye, each band came to four hexes in length. Any hexes beyond the Long range band are considered Extreme range.

After drawing the range areas, I marked down in each band a letter for the distance, the number of diamonds to represent the Ranged Attack Difficulty from the centre or vice-versa, and the cost in maneuvers to transverse between range bands. Figures in hexes adjacent to each other are considered to be Engaged with each other. If one wanted to be more exact about multiple minis and their exact distance in relation to each other, one could simply say every 4 hexes represents a range band.

Here's an example encounter.

Our heroes are clustered together in a battle with two Tusken Raiders, one a Short range from the group, and the other at Long range.
  • The Twi'lek scout, Ryz'al, is Engaged with the Tusken Raider in front of him in melee combat. The difficulty to attack an engaged target with a melee attack is always 2 challenge dice. The rest of the party considers that Tusken at Short range. 
  • The bodyguard Droid, KG-222, is Engaged with Ryz'al to protect him, but is not considered Engaged with the close Tusken and would have to spend a maneuver to Engage the enemy threatening the Twi'lek.
  • Lowwack the Wookiee politico is aiming to shoot at the far Tusken, who is Long range away, and thus be would facing 3 difficulty dice to his ranged attack roll. That Tusken would also be rolling 3 difficulty dice on a ranged attack against any of the heroes.
  • Finally the Gand levels his blaster on the closer Tusken at Short range who his Engaged with his Twi'lek comrade. The base difficulty for the attack is 1 but since he's shooting into an engagement that difficulty die is upgraded to a more dangerous challenge die. He better hope his aim is true or he may end up shooting his partner in the back on a despair dice result!

What I really like about Edge of the Empire is that the Range band rules carry over into Vehicle or Starship combat, the only major differences being Engaged is replaced with Close Range, your current speed is relative to how much it costs in Maneuvers to move between Range bands (the faster your speed the more Range bands you can move through with a single maneuver), and distance doesn't affect the difficulty of your attack rolls; your ships' silhouette (relative size) vs their silhouette sets the difficulty, though certain weapons can only be used to attack targets within certain Range bands.

Here's a small example of space combat.

The heroes' YT-1300, the Nerf Herder, (which has a silhouette of 4) has thrown itself into an attack position against a Cloakshape Starfighter (silhouette 3) at Short range. The Nerf Herder's turrets cannot attack until within Close range, so the pilot closes the distance, and the gunners open fire. The silhouette difference between the two ships is only 1, so they roll their attack at 2 difficulty dice.

The Imperial Star Destroyer looming off at Extreme range can't attack The Nerf Herder at that distance, as it's Turbolasers only have a range of Long. But if either the Star Destoryer or the YT-1300 manage to close the distance between them, the ISD could open fire and The Nerf Herder would be unable to retaliate. The silhouette difference between the capital ship and the freighter would be ~3; 7* for the ISD, 4 for the YT. The gunners aboard the ISD would be rolling a Daunting difficulty of 4 on their attacks against the The Nerf Herder, and they'd still be rolling that difficulty even if the freighter reached Close range with the Star Destroyer, whereas the hero gunners would be able to attack at an Easy difficulty of 1 against the ISD because its size is so massive compared to it. But good luck getting through its shields and armour. :p

*[7 is a guessed number given there are currently no stats for an ISD in the EotE Beta. I took the silhouette rating from the largest capital ship available: a EF76 Nebulon-B Frigate with a silhouette of 6 and increased it by 1 given the size difference between the Frigate and an ISD. It could possibly be larger than that but for the purposes of this example it wouldn't matter given that the amount of difficulty dice rolled by the gunners on both ships would not be changed.]

I'm hoping this hex-based range band system helps assist everyone with relative positioning of combatants in EotE, given it can be difficult to keep track of the ranges of multiple PCs/NPCs spread out over a wide area.

We didn't really get to make use of it much during yesterday's session as there wasn't much combat, but it was nice to try out the non-combat aspects of the Beta. The reference sheets made the session run much smoother, and we all had a great time roleplaying. I look forward to our next session and putting this hex-range-band concept to the test!

Questions/Comments appreciated!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Countdown to New Beginnings

Well here we are already on the first day of December; I can't believe how fast November went by. I didn't get to post as much as I would have liked to, but it was a pretty hectic month running Ravenloft on Wednesdays, learning & teaching Edge of the Empire on Sunday and playing in Dresden Files on Fridays, with minor planning for GottaCon in between, plus holidays, birthdays, staff parties, work, and the season-inspired exhaustion.

I don't suppose that I'm going to get many entries up this month either. Aside from the blog I've been neglecting several other more important things. Like shopping. And cleaning the house. I'm going to do that one after this entry.

I'm writing this as a reminder that now is the perfect time to work on a retrospective on the gaming this past year and a look forward to the new year and what it will bring. So that'll be my goal this holiday month.

Next weekend the Missus' and I are heading up island for an early holiday weekend with the family, so hopefully on my downtime there I can get some of it done.

Now, on to recent news:

Erhmagerd! FEHRT!
Fred Hicks and Evil Hat Productions are putting up a kickstarter sometime early this month to release the FATE rules as a core system! This is awesome because although FATE has numerous games built from its rules, there is no available basic rule-set that one can use to create their own FATE-powered games unless you use a system reference document or reverse-engineer a FATE game.

I'm totally going to be supporting this kickstarter when it launches. :D

Cheers! ;{١

Monday, 26 November 2012

FFG Star Wars - Play Impressions

So yesterday a few of us had the chance to play both Star Wars: X-Wing and Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. Here's my/our first impressions:

Originally we were going run Edge of the Empire in the early afternoon, but one of player's couldn't attend due to an emergency and another couldn't show up till later. So myself and the two other players who showed up decided after creating characters we'd try out the X-Wing miniatures game our absentee player had lent me.

I quickly threw together a quick 50-point squad consisting of a pair of Red Squadron X-Wings, one equipped with Proton Torpedoes, versus a single Tempest Squadron TIE Advanced equipped with Concussion Missiles with an Obsidian Squadron TIE/ln and an Academy Pilot TIE/ln as wingmen.

Mike and Hayden both took control of an X-wing and I handled the Imperials. We began play and soon acquired a decent grasp of the game's mechanics, and soon enough we were jockeying for a position and trying to out guess each others' manoeuvres. The two sides seemed balanced quite well; the weak but fast and agile TIEs against the heavier armed and shielded X-Wings. The game designers we able to keep the quantity vs. quality methodology that pervades Imperial and Rebel starship design respectively. Gameplay is fun and rather quick, and I always found the battle interesting. The Imps managed to take down Mike's X-Wing before my TIE Advance became space dust. The Obsidian Squadron TIE had several lucky shots on the Rebels whilst the Academy Pilot was more of distraction until the very end when it scored the winning hit on Hayden's X-Wing. Looks like he'll graduate from the Imperial Academy with honours! That said it still felt like the combat came down to the wire.

Later that night after our Edge of the Empire session, two us decided to pit Darth Vader's TIE Advanced X1 against the TIE/ln's Winged Gundark and Night Beast. Let's just say TIE vs. TIE doesn't work well because you can never hit each other because everyone's firepower is too low and their agility is too high. We decided to end in a stalemate.

All in all I must say X-Wing met my expectations after a single game. I quite enjoy how it best captures dogfighting on a 2D plane, and the squad building aspect with ship upgrades and unique pilots adds diversity and a neat tactile squad-building component to the game, increasing it's playability. This set my buddy lent me contains the core-set and every ship expansion to date minus the Y-Wing. He says he's not really happy with the game, and I didn't really notice his gripes with it when I played, but then again he's played it much more than I have and also he's the guy who shelled out all the money for it. (It is quite expensive.) But for me at this point, if he's looking to part with it, I think I'm more than willing to buy it off of him if he offers. Also early next year FFG's releasing four more ship expansions: The Millennium Falcon, Slave I, A-Wing, and TIE Interceptor. More possibilities!

Ultimately I'd really like to try out a few more games before I make a choice on purchasing it.

Success - Failure.
Advantage - Threat.
Triumph - Despair.
Light Side - Dark Side.
Once our third player had joined us near the end of our X-Wing game and we went out for a bite to eat, we sat down and began our playtest of Edge of the Empire. I decided to run the Crate of Krayts adventure that was provided in the back of the Beta. The adventure starts off with a combat encounter very soon (to test those mechanics I suppose), so the majority of the session the PC's were fighting. It was a little rocky to say the least; both teaching and learning a new system, stopping to reference rules, trying to shift from Saga's tactical mindset to a more abstract thematic mindset, dealing with a dynamic initiative and range bands, etc. Aside from those pitfalls I think the overall impression was positive. Afterwards there was a good amount of discussion and feedback, some of which I may compile and submit to FFG, though I have seen that some of it has already been covered on their forums.

I also realized that I missed out on a great deal of rules I could have applied, which could have been prevented if I had planned a bit more and made some sort of reference sheet instead of having to flip back and forth through the book. That was my mistake because I'm so used to running systems I'm familiar with fast-and-loose, which doesn't really work when you want to actually test mechanics.

So for next session I have rectified this by finding and printing out FFG forum member gribble's reference sheets. This guy's done a great job compiling Critical Cards, Complete Reference, Combat Reference, and Talent Tree Reference sheets. Also I was attempting to use minis for tracking initiative and range bands, but it didn't work out exactly as I planned and might've made things a little more complicated. I'm going to see if I can adjust this better.

All in all, I'm looking forward to next Sunday when we'll pickup where we left off in Edge of the Empire. I'm thinking things should go a bit smoother now that we've played the game and have better access to the rules via the reference sheets.

Saturday, 17 November 2012


Last Wednesday's session, our Ravenloft adventurers had a chilling awakening their following morning: They discovered the body of Hilda, the village healer who prepared and administered a tincture belladonna to Thain-el and Ellywick yesterday to stave off any possibly lycanthropy affection they may have contracted from wounds they received from battle with the werewolves. Thain was able to resist the belladonnas natural toxins, but Ellywick collapsed under its effects. Having lost all her strength, she had remained in Hilda's care for the night.

When they called on the two the next day, they found Hilda lying on the floor of her house in a pool of her own blood, her entrails savagely torn out. Of Ellywick they saw no sign, but dread filled their hearts at the likelihood that their companion had succumbed to lycanthropy and brutally slew the one looking after her.

They were fortunate to discover a note written by whom caused this foul act, before they could jump to any grim conclusions:

This only brings up more questions for our heroes:

Who is the note's writer, -A?
Why did he slay Hilda?
Who was his brother and who killed him?

Most importantly: How are they going to rescue Ellywick?

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Interesting Times, Interesting Places

It seems recently I have become the recipient of the Chinese proverb: May you live in interesting times.

Last week I talked about being the victim of theft, and it sucks to say it has once again happened to me this week. When I went to leave for work Wednesday morning, I discovered someone had made off with the front tire and seat post of my bicycle, whist it was still locked up on my front porch. As you can imagine, being the victim of theft two weeks in a row put me in a very sour mood.

Again hindsight is 20-20, but it doesn't help change the fact that my bike is now useless (though it's not a big concern given the season and weather.) If I save up cash and buy the parts, I should have it up and running like new come spring.

Anyway, on to other (better) interesting things:

First of all I'd like to give a shout out to the redditor who came across my 'Prolonging Death' article and posted in the D&D subreddit. People really seemed to like that houserule I came up with; that's the most traffic I've had on my blog so far, perhaps even surpassing last year's total visits. Thanks again for the exposure!

A few days ago I was talking to a buddy of mine about the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beta, and he was able to track down copies of the Beta book for each of us through his connections with gamers up island! I should have it in my hands Wednesday. As you can imagine from my previous post, I'm quite excited to play this game. I'm also currently reading through the books of the The Lando Calrissian Adventures trilogy that I got back in September, and getting ideas in my head for running a few Edge of the Empire sessions in the Centrality, a funny little offbeat region of the galaxy perfect for fringe types. Given what I've heard on the free-form narrative nature of the game, I think I don't need many actual rules to make the quirky Centran differences work in the game.

As for actual game resources for the Centrality, I've found a few:
  1. Back in the day, West End Games was going to publish The Lando Calrissian Adventures Sourcebook for their d6 Star Wars RPG, but the project was cancelled. 
  2. Back in issue #5 of WotC's Star Wars Gamer, they published A Campaign Guide to the Centrality; if you're not lucky enough to own a copy of this issue, you might be able to find it online as a PDF.
  3. Finally, WotC's Star Wars Saga forum alumni and Lando fan, Rob Shanti, created his own sourcebook: The Centrality: A Gazetteer and Guide. Even though it's for Saga Edition, I highly recommend you grab the PDF of it if you're at all interested in the Centrality.
  4. Good ol' Wookiepedia. :p

Pew Pew Pew
My interest has also grown in Fantasy Flight's Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. Finally, a good Star Wars starship miniatures combat system. (Star Wars Miniatures: Starship Battles was a colossal flop.) I'm not a huge strategy game player, but this game just looks too fun to pass up. Even though Edge of the Empire sounds like it has a good cinematic vehicle/starship combat system (unlike the various WotC and WEG incarnations that GMs and players alike avoided), it sounds like one could incorporate X-Wing into their EotE or SWSE games for a more tactical/tactile starship combat. Especially once Age of Rebellion come out; anyone else have the idea of the PC's taking on roles the of a hybrid starfighter/commando unit a la Wraith Squadron? I'm sure that character stats from the RPG could be roughly translated to the pilot stats from the minis game to make a functional mash-up.  This is something I shall perhaps have to investigate further...

Finally, SWTOR is launching it's free-to-play model this Thursday, so I'll probably be playing that on and off for a bit.

Now on to other news.

Feb 1st - 3rd
I've thrown my hat into the ring to GM a game or two at GottaCon come February. The RPG coordinator is starting to get the gaming schedule together, but I've yet to decide on which slot(s) I'm going to be in and even what I'm going to run! I want to run a system that got little to no exposure last convention, so I have a couple ideas:

  • Mouse Guard - I think Mouse Guard is a great system that's pretty easy to learn, so it'd be perfect for both newbies and people who've played the game before.
  • Paranoia: Troubleshooters - In Paranoia, even if you've played it before, you're not expected to have any knowledge of the rules, because that means your a commie-mutant-traitor and punishable by death! (At least for your character.) The rules are completely the GM's domain but entirely flexible/optional, which leaves the players to do whatever they want to do; namely be entertaining. Death isn't really a punishment given your character has multiple clones. Sounds like a perfect convention game of hilarious dystopian slapstick for both veterans and newbies. I don't have a physical copy, but my friend might lend me his.
  • Airship Pirates - This might appeal more to the Steampunk crowd. I've run the in-book adventure a few times with pre-generated characters, so I could do that again. I'd like to grab a bunch of pirate minis and a few airships for this one to make it fancy. I might reserve running this one till the next Victoria Steam Expo.
  • Dread - A very niche choice, this storytelling-jenga game. I might use an amnesia concept I'm developing for his one.
  • Spirit of the Century - I want the FATE system to be represented at GottaCon this year, so I'm thinking about this game. There's a couple sample adventures in the book and a couple of pre-generated characters I could use. My friend Jason, might be running Dresden Files, and if so that would satisfy my need for FATE representation and might allow me to run something else.
  • Star Wars: Edge of the Empire - If I get a change to play the Beta a couple of times, get a good grasp of the system, and write a basic adventure up, I might run it at the con to give anyone curious a chance to see what it's about. The full game isn't supposed to come out till Spring, so running the Beta in February might generate some interest. Though this could be complicated given the fact the Beta rulebook is being updated every couple weeks.
It'll remain to be seen which game(s) I decide on.

Until next time! ;{١

Monday, 5 November 2012

A New Hope?

All his life as he looked away to the future, to the horizon...

I'm sure you all know by now of Disney buying Lucasfilm, and the news of Episode VII in 2015, so I need not go much into it. At first I was shocked and a little dismayed, but then after thinking about it I think it's good thing, after all Disney's been treating the studios they've acquired pretty well, given how well Marvel Studios are doing with that franchise. I'm still worried about this new trilogy though, given how disappointing the prequels were and that so much awesome Expanded Universe material might get re-conned, or outright trashed.

I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Anyway, back at GenCon last August, Fantasy Flight Games announced not only their new Star Wars RPG line, but released a Beta test version of it that day. Several months since then I've had time to read [this too] and listen [here too] to all the hubbub on the trial. And I must say, since I can no longer get my hands on the Beta, I'm anxious for when the testing & balancing finishes and the rulebook and/or beginner game it hit the shelves of my FLGS. It sounds like they've introduced a lot of elements into the game that have made it more cinematic, and there's a lot of great concepts I like the sound of. One being the non-binary dice pools where a successful roll could land you under threat or if you fail at your original goal you may still gain an advantage. Another are all the career trees available for a wide range of character customizing.

Custom Dice?
First I was like Boo, but now I'm like Ooo...
The other big thing: Obligation. Something I always felt in my Saga games was a lack of inherent mechanical drive in the Fringe characters' backgrounds; players would kind of play them like D&D adventurers: get in fights and get rich. It seemed no matter what ideas I'd suggest or situations they'd get themselves into, it wouldn't really matter to the devil-may-care-soldiers-of-fortune-for-hire-with-no-past; which is funny because that's what you pretty much play in Edge of the Empire, but they solved it by giving everyone Obligations, built in plot hooks! Sure, Han Solo did whatever he wanted when he wanted but that death mark on his head eventually caught up with him, causing a whole mess of trouble for him and those who associated with him.

Now, I love Saga Edition, it's by far my favourite incarnation of the d20 system. I was rather disheartened when I heard that they were stopping the line and dropping the license. I was concerned a bit when I heard FFG had acquired it and it was going to be kinda set up like their Warhammer 40k RPG license (I didn't want my Star Wars to go all grimdark). But I always knew I was going to pick up at least the core rulebook of the new SWRPG, because I'm a huge fanboy and I love roleplaying games. (Heck, I'm still trying to get my hands on the old West End Games stuff but I haven't seen it anywhere.)

And now I'm so excited about the prospect of this new game, I can't wait till it comes out. And before I catch myself, I pretty sure this isn't the same kind of anticipation like waiting for a video game *coughTORcough* and winding up disappointed. What I love about RPGs over video games, is if you're disappointed with a video game, you can't do anything to change it; but with an RPG you can do anything or everything to change it, to make it more enjoyable.

I love trying out new systems, new ways to play games and tell stories, but in the end it isn't the system that really matters. Sure I have my preferences we all do, but like to think I can enjoy any game because the only thing I really need is my imagination.

Wow, that got corny quick...

May The Force Be With You! ;{١

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Prolonging Death - Houserule

Character death in many combat-heavy RPGs can be inevitable. PC death at lower levels and/or in a world where you lack access to Raise Dead, Resurrection, True Resurrection, and other related spells can mean time bonding with your character is cut short. I wanted to come up with a way to allow characters to continue living and questing, without resorting to the uninspired 'if you reach 0 or less hit points, you just go unconscious until you are healed' (a.k.a your character can't die).

The Reaper comes to collect souls
Time to roll up new characters

I originally came up with this idea for old-school or brutal D&D games where PC death is common and unforgiving, where one cannot avoid death by simply spending some form of resource points to prevent it. (Not that I'm saying that's not how it should be in such games.) I wanted players to have the option for their characters to stave off death, but still be penalized some way for (almost) dying. Thus I came up with this concept for one of my games: a Pact With Death

The gist of this optional rule is that players' characters, generally being exceptional individuals to begin with, have the option to prevent character death by offering whatever comes to collect their soul (further referred to in the remainder of this post as the Emissary of Death) something in exchange for their mortality: cutting their lifespan shorter in return for not dying. Burning the candle that is their life at both ends as it were. Death is still going to collect their soul sooner or later, this option makes it later rather than sooner for the character.

The way the rule functions is both thematically and mechanically:

Pact with Death
With the character's dying breath, an Emissary of Death appears to collect their soul. This psychopomp might take the form of a creature or entity of the PC's faith, perhaps an animal or beast of nature, or a common personification such as the Grim Reaper.

The character strikes a deal with this Emissary of Death. In exchange for staving off the end, they offer their age and youth as means to temporarily prolong their fate. A sample roleplay exchange follows:
"After agreeing with your bargain, Death scrapes the edge of his scythe along the length of the glowing thread representing your life, collecting the cast off fibres in the hourglass of your mortality."
This act advances the PC's age by numerous years, advancing it to at least the middle of its next age category, if your game has specific rules for age categories; or by a fifth of the average lifespan of PC's race/species. (Example: Young Adult to Adult, Adult to Middle Age, Middle Age to Old, or Old to Venerable/Ancient; or [+17] from 19 years old to 36 years from an average lifespan of 85 years.)
This pact may be repeatedly taken upon dying/death but not when Venerable/Ancient age has been reached (or after surpassing the average lifespan for the race/species), or upon dying from natural causes as there is little left they have to offer.
Upon making this pact, the character returns to life conscious at 0 hit points. The whole ordeal is generally very painful and traumatizing. (Option: If you are playing a game with any sort of Taint, Corruption, Sanity, or similar mechanic the character may gain (or lose in the case of Sanity and such) one or more points in that area. GM's discretion.) 
Over a period of several days to a week the character rapidly ages from their current age to the middle of their next age category, receiving appropriate ability increases and decreases from reaching the next age category. (Or if the game lacks age categories and associated rules: the character ages a fifth of the average lifespan of their race/species and decreases one or more of his ability attributes by 1 or more. Again, GM's discretion.)

Let's make a deal...

Other notes:
This rule only applies to a character that is a living creature that naturally ages, and is unconscious and dying or recently deceased with a relatively intact body.

Normally in an alignment-restrictive game world like D&D, most Good-aligned and/or Lawfully-aligned deities wouldn't allow their faithful to barter their souls in such a way, though exceptions could be made:

  • Righteous PC's must fulfil a task on behalf of their deity and thus are permitted to prolong their fate.
  • Perhaps the Emissary of Death that works between all deities is neutral and willing to entertain such deals, although a PC's acceptance to such a deal may cause a shift in alignment.
  • Certain malicious entities might take the place of a PC's usual psychopomp for their own nefarious purposes.

All of this makes for some great potential roleplaying I think. I tried to make the rule option system-neutral and flexible enough to work in a variety of fantasy RPGs.

Comments welcome and appreciated!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Mishaps & Moustaches

Howdy everyone, nothing fancy today just some minor updates on my life.

First off, Happy Hallowe'en to everyone! I hope you all had tons of treats and very few tricks. Wednesday would have been our regular Ravenloft session but we didn't end up playing it because I need to rewrite a bunch of my notes (more on that in a bit), so we ended up giving Fiasco a whirl instead. As I mentioned a few posts back, we've been interested in playing Fiasco and last weekend a FLGS had ordered it back in, so I picked up a copy for my buddy as a thank you gift for getting the Missus and I tickets to see a MacBeth opera.

Our play-through was a little rough considering neither my buddy nor I read the book from start to finish, but we had a fun time running the McMurdo Sound playset from the book nonetheless. Probably one of the strangest object I've ever encountered in a game: a 55-gallon urine barrel. Whaaaat.

Dread would've probably been more appropriate for Hallowe'en, but I have yet to get a tower for it, which is kinda pivotal for play.

The other game option that we chose Fiasco over was 44: A Game Of Automatic Fear by Stories You Play. The basic premise of 44 is it's the early 50's and each character knows someone close to them who has been replaced by a robotic replica. Together the characters fight agents that seek to convert them and survive the overall conspiracy as the turns countdown to zero hour. Think along the lines of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Aside from being a great little FREE game that only clocks in at 36 pages, it's unique in that when a character falls to the robotic menace, he joins the conspiracy with the GM in opposition against the remaining players. I can imagine things can get pretty tense near the end. Sounds fun, can't wait to give it a shot.

Last Tuesday I had a lousy misfortune befall me: Whilst on shift, someone snuck into the staff change area, pried the locks off a bunch of lockers including my own, and made off with my wallet and my iPad. I found this horribly ironic given I only brought my iPad with me to kill time before my appointment to fix my ribs (I seem to have jostled my ribs from my sternum when I was in the moshpit a few weeks ago seeing Unleash The Archers). And now without my wallet that has both my funds and medical information, I could not go to said appointment.

Being the victim of theft can leave one feeling violated and the last couple days I was in a rather foul mood, but the game on Wednesday night cheered me up and I'm feeling better. It couldn't been prevented and I've decided to move on and get over it. My biggest concern is not the act itself, but the potential identity theft that could occur. The iPad was locked with a passcode, and I've alerted appropriate authorities on the theft of certain cards, but still there's that lingering concern. Realistically, this thief isn't a master criminal; he's not going to go through the effort hack my tablet for access to my PDFs, gaming notes, or my music. I seriously have nothing critical on it. He's just going to pawn or trade it for a few bucks. He'll get his just desserts sooner or later.

We had a Hallowe'en party here at the Manor on Saturday, which was a blast. And the following morning we went out for yummy breakfast, checked out a flea-market, then went to a photoshoot for local barber promoting Movember. Our photos went up on the first, check mine out:

Photo courtesy of Victory Barber & Brand

I'm really happy with the result. It helped me further shake off these blues. I can't wait till I get the unaltered prints.

Cheers! ;{١

Monday, 29 October 2012

Music To Roleplay To: Ravenloft

Today's entry of Music To Roleplay To we're swept up by mysterious mists and deposited in the Demiplane of Dread, the realm of Ravenloft and other domains of horror ruled by the feared Darklords. Steel your nerves adventures, and pray you're pure in heart lest you fall under the influence of the Dark Powers that control this forsaken land, along with the Darklords that terrorise it!

This collection focuses on a single Domain of Dread and it's Darklord in particular, the titular realm of Barovia and it's vampire lord, Count Strahd von Zarovich. The compilation is general enough be used with the campaign setting as a whole, or be slightly adjusted to focus on other specific domains or similar games.


The Expedition to Castle Ravenloft campaign that ran over two years ago, was one of the first games I compiled a dedicated playlist for rather than use a random mix of fantasy tunes that I used to backdrop all my previous games. And actually, what really I meant when I said playlist, I meant playlists; I had them all sorted by location, such as:
  • The Wilderness of Barovia - Svalich Woods, Ivlis Marsh, Tser Pool, Lysaga Hill, etc.
  • The Village of Barovia
  • The Vistani Encampment
  • Castle Ravenloft - The grounds, Main Floor, Court of the Count, Rooms of Weeping, Spires of Ravenloft, etc.
  • The Lower Levels of Ravenloft - The Larders of Ill Omen, and the Catacombs.
Or I based playlists around events or an emotion tied to a scene:
  • Conflict & Combat
  • Encounter with Strahd - (Epic Battle Music)
  • Hope - When the PC's attain a difficult goal or find brief respite.
  • Horror - When they face the truly horrific and terrifying.
  • Sorrow - When the air is filled with despair and lamentations.
  • Suspense - When the tension is thick enough to cut with a blade. 

My music library has grown exponentially since then, and now that we're picking up where we left off I've taken it upon myself to revise and update my collection, which given it's Gothic Horror theme, shares some of the same music from my previous MTRPT entries like the Unhallowed Metropolis playlist. I also added in a good amount of awesome music from the Castlevania video game series to spice things up.


If one is so inclined, you may organise your collection similarly to my own. The following album suggestions tend to have songs that fit around one or more of these themes, although a few don't really suit the atmosphere of the setting. Arrange as you see fit.

Original Soundtracks and Artists

  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura by Ben Houge
  • Born of the Night, Dungeons & Dragons, Realm of Shadows, and Vampyre: Symphonies from the Crypt by Midnight Syndicate
  • Darklore Manor, Shadow of the Raven, The Dark Tower, and Transylvania by Nox Arcana
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula by Wojciech Kilar
  • The Bride Of Frankenstein by Franz Waxman
  • Caravan by Kronos Quartet
  • Castlevania: Curse of Darkness by Michiru Yamane
  • Castlevania: Lament of Innocence by Michiru Yamane
  • Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness by Masahiko Kimura
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow by Oscar Araujo
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia by Michiru Yamane
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night by Michiru Yamane
  • Darksiders by Cris Velasco, Mike Reagan, & Scott Morton
  • Diablo and Diablo II by Matt Uelman
  • Dracula (1979) by John Williams
  • Dracula by Philip Glass & the Kronos Quartet
  • The Gipsy Kings [Vistani Music]
  • Gipsy Love by Kalyi Jag [Vistani Music]
  • Inspired by the Witcher by various artists
  • Mary Shelly's Frankenstein by Patrick Doyle
  • May I Kiss Your Hand by Csókolom [Vistani Music]
  • Nosfuratu by Popol Vuh
  • Sleepy Hollow by Danny Elfman
  • Thief: Deadly Shadows by Eric Brosius
  • Van Helsing by Alan Silvestri
  • The Witcher by Adam Skorupa & Paweł Błaszczak
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings by Adam Skorupa & Krzysztof Wierzynkiewicz
  • The Wolfman by Danny Elfman

And as a bonus, here's a silly animated bat gif:

Leave a comment if you have any suggestions for additional listening! ^١^

Monday, 22 October 2012

Notes on Wax Sealing

As I've gotten back into crafting handouts and props for EtCR, I've been trying out a bunch of different things with wax seals. I've discovered a couple things from both reading and experimenting:

Sealing Wax Set

First off, candle wax does not make effective sealing wax. The wax needs to be of a specific consistency, especially if you're looking to make an impression in it.

I currently have two types of store-bought wax: the two wick-sticks on the left, one in matte crimson and the other in a lustre bronze. The other type is the solid, sky-blue stick on the right. Searching around town, these seem two be the only kinds I can currently get. I'm not sure of the manufacturer of the ones' on the left, but the one on the right is made by J. Herbin. Out of the two types, I prefer the latter for several reasons:

The brand on the left was what I got when I was first using sealing wax on some birthday invites many years ago. It appears to be of a lesser quality mixture because it tends to split when heated, causing the oil in the wax to seep into the paper. Although this does make a relatively soft seal that won't crack if you're looking to send it through the mail. Also the wax itself tends to catch fire when you try to melt it by burning the wick. Not a good thing dripping burning wax onto a paper letter you're trying to seal.

Whereas I found the J. Herbin brand much nicer to work with: First of all the mixture is much better quality. Their website claims it contains seven natural elements, one of which is pine resin, which becomes apparent when you melt the wax: It smells incredible. I picked up this wax a week or so ago, along with the ceramic melting crucible in the back of the photo. This traditional wax is more brittle and seems to have a higher melting point than the other brand. I found that the crucible worked decently melting the wax, but upon pouring the majority of it tended to stick on the inside of the bowl. I tried placing the crucible in a small amount boiling water to spread the heat, but it didn't seem to be hot enough. I might try placing the crucible in a small copper dish and putting directly on the stove element, but I'm concerned about cracking the ceramic.

I experimented with a couple things today. First was using a bunch of the many buttons we have as seals. I have two seals; a simple initial (left foreground) I picked up for invitations, and a stylized compass rose (right background in front of the candle holder, click here for impression example) that I found at a flea market. My search around town for more heraldic seals came up with nothing beyond letters. Searching the web for DIY sealing wax I came across this clever idea using shank buttons and chess pieces to make your own wax seals.

Button Wax Seals

Referring again to the above photo, you'll see that the flatter buttons made the best seals. Now all I need to do is find some old wooden chess pieces. :)

The other thing I tried out was using a heat embossing tool, which essentially functions like a focus, high-powered hairdryer. I worked quite well melting the wax, though it did tend to blow the wax around a bit, so still not the best tool for the job. I read that torch lighters are recommended as the best way to melt sealing wax, so I may eventually pick one up for use.

I'd like to attempt making my own sealing wax via this instructable. Also, I heard melted crayons might work as a sealing wax, but I am skeptical given their consistency is similar to candle wax.

If you'd like to learn more about wax sealing, I highly recommend the links provided on J. Herbin's website.

Cheers! ;{١

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Music To Roleplay To: Zombies

today's entry in Music To Roleplay To seems oddly appropriate considering i was actually* bitten by some drunk bum yesterday on my home from a metal show!! guy was nasty looking and smelt awful! seriously rank. i managed to take a photo of him with my cell before i knocked him over and ran. check it out:

guy who bit me

i'm going to go to the police with it once i feel better. i washed the bite when i got home but i must've caught something from him as today i've been holed up here at home feeling like crap. come fall when the temperature starts to drop everyone seems to get sick...

anyway todays installment is about everyones favourite living dead: zombies! they just won't die and subsist on the flesh of the living. or brains.. sounds almost appetizing. im terribly hungry, but cant seem to keep anything down. i appologise for the quality of this post, i just cant think straight either.,.

heres the collection;

original soundtacks and musics

minecraft zombie
  • 28 Days Later, and 28 Weeks Later by John Murphy
  • Dawn of the Dead (2002) by Tyler Bates
  • Dawn of the Dead: Unreleased & Incidental by Goblin and Dario Argento
  • Day of the Dead by John Harrison
  • Dead Space, and Dead Space 2 by Jason Graves
  • I Am Legend by James Newton Howard
  • Left 4 Dead, and Left 4 Dead 2 by Mike Morasky
  • Resident Evil: Apocalypse by Jeff Danna
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D by Tomandandy
  • Resident Evil: Retribution by Tomandandy
  • Resident Evil: Degeneration (a.k.a Biohazard: Degeneration) by Tetsuya Takahashi
  • The Return of the Living Dead
  • Shaun of the Dead by Daniel Mudford & Pete Woodhead with various other artists
  • Zombi (Dawn of the Dead) by Goblin
  • Zombie Influx by Buzz-Works
  • Zombieland by Dave Sardy

rPgs 2 play to... All Flesh Must Be EatenDead ReignOutbreak: Undead, indie-rpg Shotgun DiariesWar of the Dead for savage worldz. or perhaps lite-hEArTed game of Munchkin Zombies or Zombies!!!

leave comment or...brAiNs...   x_x

*No not really. j/k.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Return to Ravenloft

As some of you may have guessed from my previous posts, my group and I have decided to pick Ravenloft up again! Huzzah! We had our first session last night, and I think it went great.

The adventurers dispatch a pack of werewolves

Since we have only 50% of the original players in our group, we weren't quite able to pick up where we last left off two years ago. But we've also chosen not to eliminate all the previous characters' hard work and history by rebooting the campaign and starting again from scratch.

So the basic premise we came up with is this:
It was late autumn when the band of brave heroes who saved the village of Barovia from an undead siege, made their expedition to Castle Ravenloft with the intention to confront the source of the lands' evil: Count Strahd Von Zarovich. Six months have passed hence, and their fate remains a mystery. But the harsh lives of the villagers of Barovia have not been made easier since then, evil still plagues Barovia, and much more worrisome is the Count's brief reappearance a month ago. Ashlyn, paladin a who swore an oath to protect the villagers of Barovia, dispatched a missive to the Lightbringers, entreating aid from the organization of undead fighters. Her plea was answered by four adventurers who are willing to brave the mysterious mists and face the horrors of Castle Ravenloft.
I guess this makes it "The Subsequent Expedition to Castle Ravenloft." :p

Our current hero roster is as follows:

  • Brother Yons - N Human Cleric of Fharlanghn, played by Fraser
  • Ellywick - CG Gnome Rogue, played by Laura
  • Thain-el - NG Elf Ranger, played by Mike
  • Sallah - CG Fighter, played by Hayden

I'm rather excited to be playing this campaign again; some of that excitement comes from prospect of finishing my prop ideas, and some comes from possibly playing this campaign all the way to its conclusion. But I think the majority of it stems from how much fun we all had crafting great stories the last time we played.

I'm hoping this game is as if not more enjoyable than the previous.


Ashlyn's Missive

Could it be? Is it possible... 

Hail to you, noble members of the Lightbringers:

I pray this message has arrived unto your hands swiftly and unmolested. I, Ashlyn, paladin of Ayailla and member of the Lightbringers, send this missive to report on my fellowships' status and on behalf of Ismark Indrovich, the burgomaster of the village of Barovia, to entreat further aid from our organization.

My companions and myself ventured to the land of Barovia seeking a legendary weapon of undead-bane, the Sunsword. It fell out histories long ago but is rumoured to lay within these lands. After a long journey we arrived at the settlement, to discover it under siege by undead! Fighting through the hoard to the town centre, we took shelter with remaining townsfolk in the tavern. I regret to inform my superiors that my companions; Thendrick, faithful servant of Pelor, and Mathilda, fighter of great renown, ventured out to investigate the local church that was rumoured to be the cause of the undead pestis. They failed to return.

A few days following, whilst the undead seemed to multiply in number, another group of adventures fought their way through the town to the tavern. A motley but brave bunch; Tim, faithful scribe and archivist of Ehlonna; Sir Draven, steadfast member of the local Knights of the Raven; and Thoreck, mighty orc-blooded barbarian. After taking rest and speaking with Ismark on the matter of a dispatch supposedly sent by his late father, (one Kolyan Indrovich), their number was soon joined by a peculiar and unsavoury elven mage by the name of Reial.

The group set forth for the church to discover the source of the plague of undeath and the fates of my companions. After a fierce battle with the horrors that lay within the once-hallowed grounds, they succeeded where my companions failed in ridding the font of necromantic blight.

These adventurers, nay heroes, stayed in the village for several weeks assisting with the disposal of the fallen, the rebuilding of the town, and the welfare of the folk. Ismark rose to take up his father's title as head boyar of the village at the heroes' insist.
Fall grew late and the snows began, and despite trepidation, the group took it upon themselves to journey to a nearby encampment of nomads called Vistani, seeking wisdom of their seer Madame Eva. They also made mention their intention to visit the castle that looms from upon high and meet with the lord of Barovia, one Count Strahd von Zarovich XI. Ismark's sister, Ireena, joined them, claiming she had business with the Count on her brother's behalf.

They met with Madame Eva at the Vistani camp who provided them with the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, a relic of much power and sacred meaning to Draven's order, and knowledge of the location of the Sunsword, which they promptly retrieved from the church's spire. I bade them to take the blade to reforge and unlock it's power for their protection. I again bid them farewell and godspeed upon their journey.

It is now six months since then, and I have received no word on their state, beyond what I have been told by Sir Urik, a fellow member of Draven's order: They returned to the encampment and met with a wandering swordsman named Crixus Stark. Taking him into their fold, they made for Castle Ravenloft.

From what Sir Urik later gathered from the dour Vistani, was that apparently some sort of ill tragedy befell the group at the Tser Falls crossing, for scribe Tim was soon discovered washed up downstream near the encampment by the half-folk ranger Sygnus Stillwater, half-drowned and near death. His comrades returned soon afterwards, both overjoyed to find Tim alive, but dispirited over Crixus' noble death in trying to save Tim from drowning in the frigid waters of the Ivlis River.

After much rest in the camp, this resolute and perhaps foolhardy group, guided by Sygnus, again made for the summit and the castle. Since then no one claims to have seen nor heard anything from these brave adventurers, even with the spring thaw and the passes becoming less treacherous. Sir Urik searches for the widths and breadths of the land still for any sign, but to no avail so far.

But the loss of such great heroes is not our only concern here in Barovia: the villages' livestock, already small in number from the undead siege, are being torn asunder and mutilated. Several of the villagers have also gone missing, and the folk whisper tales of werewolves in the Svalich Woods. These folk are a highly superstitious lot, but I am inclined to believe them on account of what I've seen and heard during my time spent in this forsaken land.

There is also strife amongst the villagers, many of them accuse others of witchcraft and being responsible for the queer light that can be seen on Lysaga Hill on nights of the new moon. It dismays me that I've been forced more than once to cease the townsfolk from burning one of the accused at the stake that has been erected in the town square. I believe such superstition and vigilantism stems from the lack of strong faith and reason these people have been robbed of ever since their priest because tainted and their church fell to ruin. They seem to defer to my judgement, although I am unsure if it's out of respect or fear. At least Ismark and the militia the heroes assembled before they left have my ear and are trust-worthy and honest.

And there is still the matter of the lord in his castle. The villagers hate both of them almost as much as they fear them. I'm not saying I'm supporting treason or overthrowing one's sovereign, after all I am just a stranger in a strange land, and I have no right to say such things. Yet it gnaws at my very soul to see these people suffer through such hardships and live in fear of the one person that could make their lives better. I can only imagine what this place must have been like before myself and those courageous adventurers arrived.

What I request on my own and Ismark's behalf, is stout members of our order to help rebuild Barovia and rid it of the evils of this land. People to meet with the Count, and change things for the better. To shine light over this dark land.

For the good of all these people, I swear this must be done.

Praying for aid...

Paladin of Ayailla and Lightbringer