Sean Cassidy

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  1. Sean stared, dumbfounded at what he found between his legs, his field of view no longer obscured by a pair of very prominent, very feminine attributes that had grown to feel more natural to him than the cock he had mysteriously regained. He had missed it, but not much considering everything else he had gained in the exchange. Was there a word for something right feeling wrong? That regaining something felt like you have lost more? The Germans probably had one, but he didn't know it. An moment of idle reflection revealed he couldn't even speak German fluently anymore, nor any other language besides English. Everything before wasn't a dream, he was sure of that, but if so, than what the hell had happened? Devin's Jaunt interact with the quantrinos spilling from the Asheen Origin Portal, shunting them to a parallel universe? Hooli or its rival interceding in some way, trapping them in a mindscape. Guildchat was gone, so was his personal channels to Sara and Laurie. "What the fuck is going on?" he exclaimed and winced at hearing his girlish voice, instead of the much richer, slightly deeper, womanly tones he had grown used to. Sean shuddered as he got up from the pile of pillows and blankets that served him as a bed in the loft of the barn and climbed down the ladder. His balance was off and he couldn't believe how tiny he felt. It wasn't that he had forgotten what being short was, he just never expected that he would experience it again, going from 6'1'' back to 4'11'', the difference seemed even more exaggerated. He felt slower, so much weaker, simply... less than he had been. He hated it. His room had reverted back to what it was before he had changed, before his relationship with Sara. The fridge was only a mini-fridge instead of the full-sized model he had replaced it with. The bed he had shared with Sara felt conspicuous in its absence. Absently, still bewildered, he got got dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt with the Triforce on the chest, both loose on his slight, undersized frame. It felt weird not putting on a bra. With rising trepidation, Sean picked up his cellphone charging by his computer while his eyes skittered away from the dark navy suit discarded haphazardly on the futon in front of the TV. His anxiety rose even higher when he looked at his contacts list and the call log on his phone. Sara wasn't on it. Clare was - her number blocked. Laurie's sarcastic comment about his 'girlfriend' calling four times held new meaning for him. He didn't think she meant Sara. I need to talk with the Irregulars, need to see if we are all here, all experiencing this... this Flash Sideways where the Asheen hadn't come and we didn't get superpowers. Hell, we need to contact Fort Bulwark and find out if Stepping Stone or Guardian Shield is a thing. See if we can recreate the event that changed us if we can't make it back to our reality where things are...right? Where things are what they are, what they should be! Sean slipped on his boots, stamped his feet to settle them, then slipped on an oversized coat. He was about to dash to the house when his smartphone rang. "Hello? Abel? Did it happen to you too?" Abel heard the old voice of one of his oldest friends, sounding very young and very girlish.
  2. Fiction Friday: (More) Tales of the Dark ErasWe’re back this week with more from Tales of the Dark Eras, the tie-in fiction to Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras. Our Kickstarter for Dark Eras 2 is still rolling, so if you want to get involved in the selection of new eras and expansion of existing ones, this is your chance! One of our developer triumvirate is Monica Valentinelli, who wrote Suffering of the Unchosen for Tales of the Dark Eras, covering the 1690-1695 period for Hunter: The Vigil. I was but a simple farmer whose tender son once planted seeds in barren, rocky soil, whose sweet wife once gathered berries, herbs, and mushrooms in the forest, whose family once led a trouble-free life surrounded by our cousins and neighbors in Salem Village. Now, that life — the life of William Mansforth — is over. Though it is by some miracle I still draw breath, the rest of my family was tragically murdered a few nights ago. I found their smoldering remains after I had returned home, battered and bruised, for I had been robbed by petty thieves earlier that day. Upon witnessing the horrible sight of my wife and child blackened beyond all recognition, I sank to my knees in despair, for everything I owned and loved had been ripped from me in a mere day’s time. My purse had been stolen, my cabin and tiny plot of land had been sanctifed by fre, and my wife and son had been tied to the stake and burnt alive. In truth, I had not the eyes to see the pyre for what it was — a ruse — for I was preoccupied with guilt. What could I have done to save them? My beloved wife, Mary, and my adopted son of five years, William, were unjustly murdered and judged as witches for all to see. They were no devil-worshippers! Questions plagued me; each was a pox upon my mind. If I stayed the night, would their murderers return and end me, too? Would I know the faces of the townsfolk who took two innocent lives? Or, was this the Devil’s Hand at work? With an aching heart, I slept at the foot of that grisly sight, whispering prayers for their wayward souls, so that the spirits of my wife and son would not lose themselves in sorrow. Our cabin’s logs heaped upon the pyre still burned slow and hot; their orange embers provided warmth and kept the cold dew from settling on my skin. There I slept on the hard ground, inhaling and holding the dwindling smoke of that wretched fire in my lungs, begging for death. Who could have done such a thing? Who dared to commit murder and walk free? At my wit’s end, I could no longer feign sleep. Instead I sat up, pulled out my hunting knife, and sliced my open palm. I was careful not to wince as I did so; the pain was sharp, but lingering. It reminded me that whilst my wife and son were dead I was, by God’s miraculous Hand, still alive. So in this fevered state, I forged a pact with Him in my own blood, to shine His light into the darkest recesses of men’s most murderous hearts, to ensure my family’s killers were justly judged — even if their capture would come at the cost of my own life. “William…” “Mary?” I knew not if her voice was inside my head, or if it was calling to me from between the trees. I yearned for her and hoped her ghost was a divine messenger. I shouted into the open air: “I am frightened, Mary. Is that you?” “Here, William. Look to the great oak!” I did as the voice bade, and saw a vision of Mary made whole, standing in front of the tree where we first met. Her naked body was shrouded in fine translucent robes, her long golden-brown hair flowed wild and free, and her kind brown eyes were just as merry as I remembered. She stood apart from me at a distance, but near enough so I could tell she was not a figment of my imagination. “I am sorry, Mary. I was robbed, wife. Beaten and robbed!” I tried to beg her forgiveness, but my tongue was stuck. “Had I gotten home sooner…” “William, you must listen carefully to me now. I have naught but a few moments, and I must tell you a secret…” I fell into a fever-dream, half-drunk at the sight of her, wondering if I had finally gone mad. Was her spirit Heaven-sent or Devil-born? For precious few moments, I wondered if my wife truly was a witch. Then her words stuck to me like thistles, and they held fast. “…three innocent babes, stuffed with herbs and dressed in linen, buried beneath the church by my late husband. I was the only one alive who witnessed were they were buried…and who killed them…” “Who did this to you, Mary?” My voice was raspy, and I struggled to speak. I had to know. “Who slaughtered you and our dear boy for the sake of this knowledge? Who?” “They call themselves hunters.” Fearful that her apparition would vanish before she bade me farewell, I shouted out question after question, hoping that would not be the last time I saw my wife — my beautiful, murdered wife. “Mary… Is that all?” “Seek those who know the Englishmen. Those frightened lambs will bring ye before the knights of the cross. Rest well, William, and rise a man of vengeance.” I clenched my hand, sore from the shallow cut I made, until the blood dripped once more. “Avenge me, husband! Seek justice for our family!” “I will, Mary. I will!” “Now kiss me, William, and take me in your arms. Couple with me, one last time…” • • • The next morning, I awoke with a dull headache. My conscience weighed upon my mind like a heavy stone. I had no choice but to follow the instructions of that heavenly vision, to confer with my Puritan neighbors, the Chosen, so that I might discover the nature of these hunters and their ilk and free myself of guilt. Verily, I thought to myself, my wife must have died for this reason and this alone: her eternal silence designed to ensure the children’s unlikely burials remained secret. And, her tormented spirit bequeathed this forbidden knowledge unto me, so that I might expose this treachery in the name of God. For the remainder of the day, I took to the village, begging for charity. I broke bread with my neighbors, shared my grief, and borrowed their clothes and shelter. I partook of their wine, and engaged in many a strained conversation, until I learned what vexed the Chosen so: the Devil was alive and well in Salem Village and I did suffer for it greatly. I thus did speak, carefully and intently, to inquire of the hunters with those such as Goody Smythe and Dame Williamson, John Masterson, and Pierre La Faux, and two Wampanoag traders, before seeking shelter with Mary’s cousin, the Widow Holt, who did welcome me with sad, open arms. They spoke of unlikely visitors who sailed from mighty England’s shores, the ever-righteous and ever-secretive Knights of St. George, and a group of night’s watchmen who bore scarlet ribbons. That was how I discovered the names of my family’s killers. It was to my great misfortune, though, that no matter how politely I engaged the village folk, I was not only met with suspicion, I generated much scrutiny which grew, ever more intensely, until I was hushed and brought before a hunter-knight fresh off the boat from England. Her name was Lady Anne Crawford and wished to be addressed as such or, by her title, Knight Inquisitor. She was stern of face, smelled salty like the sea, and her blue eyes sparkled with curiosity. How came I by this knowledge, she asked me. The voice that spake to me in my vision, what did it sound like? Did I believe in witchcraft, demons and devils, angry spirits and foul drinkers of blood? And, if I did not doubt such horrors, would I fight against them, holding but a candle unto the deepest, blackest of shadows until the day I died? I held fast to my original purpose, and told the hunter-knight we had not time to discuss such serious matters, not whilst murderers lived amongst us as free men and women, unburdened by their guilt. Thus, the knight did bade me to name the accused, and describe them for her best I could. I held their names upon my tongue, and revealed each one slowly and purposefully, just as my neighbors had confessed them to me earlier that day: Thaddeus Stone, a seasoned English hunter by trade of medium height and middle age. His hair snow-white, his shoulders broad, his voice deep in pitch. Reddish-brown skin weathered and cracked, with a deep scar above the knee. From Ipswich. Sarah Alvey, a widow to a Frenchman, midwife, and herbalist. Mother of two, with hair as dark as night and brown skin and eyes. Believed to have poisoned her late husband, Marc, with nightshade, but was later proven innocent. Currently resides in Salem Town, but hails originally from Boston. Favors lavender and lemon balm. Nathaniel Thorn, student of philosophy and a foreign language tutor by trade. Young in years, bright-eyed and naïve, well versed in the Algonquin languages, Latin, and Greek. A literate man, whose hands are smooth, uncalloused. Slight, but not sickly. Remains indoors, and his fair complexion proves his work. Trains familiars. A rabbit named Horatio, and a bird of prey, unknown. When I was done with my short confession, Lady Crawford bade me farewell, and forbade me to speak further of our conversation. “Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention,” she said, giving me hope that my wife’s spirit had set me upon the right path. “I will call upon you tomorrow at the Widow Holt’s. Be ready.” Then, she paid me a princely sum for my service, and bade me good night. Tales of the Dark Eras is available now from DriveThruFiction in PDF and print. The era described in this story is a chapter from Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras, and is available as a standalone chapter in PDF and print: Dark Eras: Doubting Souls. Onyx Path
  3. Standing tall in the command center, Sean listened to the updates from Guardian Shield and the Irregulars, analyzing them, fitting them together to get the full picture. They were approaching the tipping point. It wasn't just the Asheen being able to open new termini at will that was the issue, it was the rate at which they could send their forces through. They must've had a monstrous staging area or... She reconsidered something else that Laurie and Jaunt had described during their trip, specifically going through the portal back to China. The Asheen wouldn't need a huge staging area for their forces if they could send them into the portal without them going all the way through, holding them in transit as it were, then shunting them were needed. If they could collapse the Origin Portal, and they might very well dispatch a large portion of the Asheen invasion force, including their reserves. "We're off to engage, Colonel, anymore delay will just leave us further behind," Sean informed Lilly's dad and Captain McKellar. "New portals are opening in Shelly, and the howlers have scattered. We are leaving the clones behind to help while we strike for the China Portal. If possible, see if our Pacific forces and allies in proximity can prepare a contingency strike force in case we fail. A heavy bombardment including low yield tactical nukes may be able to clear you a path to the Portal, but the force will still need to enter it to close it from the other side. Jaunt, we're going now." <I am too!> Laurie declared taking a step towards her sister, hands fisted at her sides. Jaunt and Savant both turned to look at her and while Laurie hunched her shoulders at their penetrating regard, she didn't back down. Damn, Sean is tall now. <This isn't a game Laurie! We can very well die in this attempt,> Jaunt exhorted vehemently. <I know Devin. But if my choice is to wait to see if you or the aliens win or see it through the end, I want to see it through the end. Besides, this greenskin stuff saved my ass from Crazy Clare, it can protect me from the aliens. I'll be as safe with you guys as I'll be hiding here with the aliens running through town.> Only the faintest of frowns crossed Sean's face for the briefest of moments before she gave her sister a minute nod. She could understand Laurie's reasons, if not necessarily agreeing with her assertions. Further, there was still the reason for the skinsuits forced upon Jaunt, Laurie, and Clare. Sean hated herself for considering that reason, but she didn't shy away from it. <Don't tell mom.> "Now, Jaunt." Standing between the two Cassidy girls, Jaunt slapped them each on a bodysuit-clad ass, and the three of them blinked out of sight, instantly appearing amidst the chaos at Bunnee's. Sean took it all in with a single sweep of her eyes. One of her coilgun pistols appeared in her as though by magic. Four rapid shots later - sounding much higher in pitch than a standard pistol - four drones fell to the ground, a precise bullet hole punched through their foreheads. If it wasn't as destructive as the blows from Vanguard and Chimera, the drones dropped all the same. <Close in, Irregulars, we going in to China right now. Shelly, let alone the rest of the world, can't afford anymore delays. Leave the clones behind to engage here and aid the military, if their existence can bear the distance from the prime, Vanguard and Chimera.> The Irregulars could feel the tendrils of Jaunt's power reaching out for them, connecting them in a way that was and unlike Guildchat...
  4. Nuts & Bolts #127 - Review: Adventure Writing Like a Fucking BossYup.Editor's Note, given the product title I'm not going to bother censoring myself this week.  So, earlier this year I had a moment of realization. I came to see that while I'd been ignoring the written adventures of both yore and today I'd been missing out on learning design from other people's effort. It's not that I can't run a game, or write an adventure for myself, but going through the process of writing one for other people made me realize where I tended to say "fuck it" and just improvise. Not a bad thing, but not a great thing for published product. So I've been looking at various bits of advice in this regard. The latest of which is "Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss" which is a title that really says something about the confidence level of the author... Vitals Published By: Kort'thalis Publishing • Written by: Venger As'Nas Satanis • 14 pages • $3.00 • Color PDF (with a print friendly option) What's In It? Advice that strips out most of the bullshit. Seriously, there's very little pretension here, which is a good thing. Hell, it's probably the best part of this product that it doesn't treat itself as being too far "above the reader." In what amounts to about 9 pages of text if you strip out the art, cover, and credits the author lays down the foundations of adventure writing. As a GM for decades there's not a lot here that's "new to me" but it's refreshing to see it all laid out and bare. The content is broken out into fifteen sections ranging from about 3 paragraphs to a dozen or so. The author starts off by detailing why you may want to write your own adventures. OK, fair enough, but probably anybody who has gotten this far already made that choice. It then goes into the idea of the elevator pitch as a metric for good and bad ideas. This is pretty reasonable, if you cannot sum up an idea into 2-3 interesting sentences it's probably not an idea that will yield an interesting adventure. Or it's too much, and you need to consider breaking it up into smaller parts; perhaps your epic idea can become fodder for a series of adventures instead. From there we get some advice on finding your own writing style and trying to make the best of it. There are some words of wisdom here in regards to over-writing. Next we get a discussion of the adventure rails. Ah, to railroad, or not to railroad, that is the question! Actually, no, screw that, NEVER railroad. But, to the author's point, knowing when to toss in "guardrails" to keep the adventure from going entirely ... ahem ... "off the rails" ... is wise. Players are ... unpredictable creatures, and having mitigating factors in place to help keep the session from going bananas is good. Most GMs simply cannot keep up improvising after a certain point without abandoning the original adventure, which sucks. At this point we're on page four and getting into the meat. First we get "Anatomy of an Adventure" breaking down the basic (and classic) structure for storytelling. Then the author dives into scenes and starts discussing each component therein. The fact that adventures and scenes have the same basic structure is makes this all the more valuable. From here out the product fires on all cylinders for me, right up until the last section, which just didn't float for me, but hey, that's cool, it's only one page. The writing keeps being punchy and direct, and breaks down how to build a scene up without getting overwrought. It's presents the idea of a "Trailer Test" to help prune scenes much in the way the Elevator Pitch helps prune out bad adventure ideas. This is just the fractal nature of things in my opinion. After scenes we get a quick hit of the three most basic aspects of gaming (and storytelling) and how these should all be present in some form to make for a good session. Lastly there is some advice for "moments" or interludes, the stuff between scenes that adds color, as well as the idea of callbacks. The layout if functional, the art is minimal (which is fine) and of a good quality, but I couldn't stand the full color version with these angry red veins rimming each page. It added nothing, and it detracted plenty. Thankfully there's a printer friendly version without that. I will say the cover is quality, and I imagine that's just good marketing to put an attractive eye catching cover onto any product. Duh. Closing Thoughts I'd say that if you're new to GMing, and new to writing up your own adventures this is a pretty damn good purchase for $3. If you've been at it a while it may make for a nice refresher course, and the clean and bullshit free presentation of the writing does help make this a nice reference or refresher. Will this make you a "fucking boss" at adventure writing? I'm not sure about that, but it sure as shit will help prevent you from making an ass of yourself. There's plenty more to writing good adventures than structure, but if you don't have good "bones" the flesh won't matter for shit. Score: 85% - Pretty good for those wanting a refresher course or those who are new to adventure writing. Maybe not what you're looking for if you've been GMing for a while.Inspiration Strikes
  5. No worries Matt. Thanks for looking into it.
  6. Thank-you Matt. You're awesome.
  7. Anyone else have trouble with Chat at the moment? Trying on both PC and my phone using different accounts. As soon as I enter chat or refresh the page, I immediately get the 'Chat is not connected to the node server!' message and can't post anything.
  8. Tumbledown Market [Changeling: The Lost]Hi, Rose here. ^_^ Changeling has officially gone to editing! To celebrate, I thought I’d preview one of Meghan and my favorite freeholds from Chapter 6, Lauren Roy’s Tumbledown Market. Tumbledown Market The French Market, New Orleans, Louisiana Large Flea Markets across the United States Running alongside the Mississippi River at the edge of the French Quarter is New Orleans’ French Market. It’s part flea market, part souvenir shop, and part art show. Tourists and residents alike browse the market’s wares. Anything you might need is likely to be tucked away in a stall, from tee shirts to spices to jewelry. The French Market is also home to a goblin market so sprawling that it’s broken the bounds of not only the alleys of shops along the river, but New Orleans itself. Used to be, the only way to enter the goblin market of Tumbledown was to know the secret entrance at the back of the French Market, near Barracks Street. Nowadays, it has grown so large you can find trods in just about any large flea market in the United States that will wind you up in Tumbledown. The freehold of Fair Coin began as a motley that traded frequently in the market. Its members are mostly composed of New Orleans residents, but as Tumbledown’s borders have spread, its changeling residents have accepted more out-of-towners into the fold. Tumbledown is always open for business. It’s exhilarating and exhausting, a non-stop carnival even in the dead of night. Someone’s always willing to make a deal. Historiarum Obscura Native Americans had established a trading post along the Mississippi River well before Europeans colonized the area. The market’s location shifted occasionally, but stayed in the general vicinity. In 1791, the space that had once been known as the Meat Market — the only place in the French Quarter where meat was allowed to be sold — became officially known as the French Market. It was largely an open-air market at first, with structures being added near-constantly over the next two hundred years. The French Market stretches six blocks, from Café du Monde in the market’s original location, down to the flea market stalls across from the New Orleans Mint downriver. The goblin market of Tumbledown began as a few stalls tucked in among the mundane vendors. A few enterprising traders sold goblin fruit alongside the everyday fruit sellers. Careful listeners might hear the details of a pledge being hammered out amidst the humans haggling for a deal. As the French Market expanded, so did its goblin counterpart. More stalls popped up. More hobgoblins left the Hedge to hawk their wares. Shoppers came from far and wide to hunt for rare items, so many that the sellers began hiring Ogres to guard the Barracks Street entrance, letting only a handful of buyers through at a time to keep the humans from noticing. In the late 1800s, a change rippled through Tumbledown. Where for decades, travelers came to the goblin market, suddenly the goblin market came to them. The spaces between stalls in markets across the country opened out into the humid air of New Orleans, the smell of the Mississippi and the lilt of Creole. Trods that had been closed off or forgotten opened up, their roads leading to Tumbledown. The market itself expanded, sprawling far beyond the six blocks in the French Quarter. Not only was there room for more vendors, Tumbledown became a small town all its own, with merchants and visitors pitching tents on the outskirts. Over the years, permanent structures have taken their places, housing inns, taverns, and storefronts. Most of them echo French Quarter architecture, even though they reside in the Hedge. Theories explaining exactly what happened abound, but not a one has been proven true. One rumor tells of a massive contract negotiated with an embodiment of Commerce. Another suggests a fae merchant opened the Trods in a burst of Glamour and was never seen again. An old Wizened, who spent all his years studying the Hedge, insisted until his dying day that the Hedge itself decided Tumbledown should exist, and so it was. The proprietor of the Sans Merci tavern hosts storytelling contests twice a year, seeking the best telling of Tumbledown’s origin — it doesn’t matter if it’s true, only that it entertains. New Orleans has other freeholds, but Tumbledown holds itself separate. The freehold of Fair Coin started with a motley whose members frequented the French Market. Elaine Beaudoin’s family worked the same stall for generations, selling fresh seafood and small bites to hungry browsers. Two years after her Keeper stole her away, she returned to find her fetch bantering with her favorite customers. A nearby merchant offered her a handkerchief to catch her tears, and it took a few moments before she realized the handkerchief was made of dream-silk, and her companion had the face of a cat. She took a job with the silk-seller, only a few stalls down from her family’s, and traded there unseen for months before she fell in with her motley. They were all changelings from New Orleans, several of them scouring the goblin market on a regular basis for Contracts that might help protect them or their families — even though those families had forgotten them, or never knew they were gone. When Tumbledown expanded, Elaine was there. The influx of new customers, many of them Lost themselves, meant a slew of people who needed guidance and protection. When a person desperately seeks an item, Tumbledown’s pull can be overwhelming. Many shoppers find themselves wandering the stalls, unsure of how they arrived but certain the answers to their problems will be found hanging from a rack or twinkling in the starlight. The freehold of Fair Coin formed to help those travelers, to keep changelings from bartering away their hearts, their dreams, or their freedoms for deals that don’t balance out. The Traders’ Courts Currency in a goblin market takes several forms, most of it heavily dependent on what the seller wants and what the buyer is willing to trade away. Coins, services, secrets, a favor to be collected later, or a dark deed done now, all are fair and valid trades. Fair Coin’s loyalty is to transactions of all types. The bargains don’t have to be honorable, but they do need to be honored. The Court of Coins The simplest transactions are completed with cold, hard, cash, though that cash might more closely resemble lost doubloons or pennies gathered from the depths of a specific wishing fountain in Poughkeepsie. It has a specific value, can be counted, can be bitten to test its realness. Change also jingles in one’s pocket or purse, signifying to anyone listening for its clinking, clattering song that the carrier has riches to spend. Members of the Court of Coins are the most straightforward of the Lost, preferring to deal in specifics and absolutes. They rarely hide behind ruses, wanting to deal straight with anyone who cares to trade with them, and expecting the same in return. The Mantle of a Coin courtier carries with it the sound of coins shaken in deep pockets, or bills counted out from a drawer. They smell of copper and paper and ink. Mantle of Coins Harvest: Your character gains a Glamour point whenever she successfully hunts down someone who owes her something and gets it. • Gain bonus dice equal to your character’s Mantle dots on mundane rolls to persuade someone to make an oath (p. XX). •• Gain bonus dice equal to your character’s Mantle dots to mundane rolls to figure out whether someone is trying to cheat her. ••• Once per chapter, you may spend a Willpower point to grant your character additional dots of the Resources Merit (p. XX) equal to her Mantle dots, to a maximum of five, for the scene. •••• Once per chapter, reduce your character’s Goblin Debt by his Mantle rating. ••••• Once per scene, you may spend a Willpower point to learn the current heart’s desire of any character present. The Court of Barter The farmer will let you sleep in her barn if you brush the horses. The hitchhiker tells stories to the driver who takes her from Boston to Albany, keeping him awake and entertained as the long miles pass. For a week’s worth of the Fairest’s beauty, the hag will help her find her long lost love. People have bartered since time immemorial, trading their surplus to those with needed skills, and letting their trash transmute into another’s treasure. Changelings who join the Court of Barter realize that everything has value, even if it’s hard to see. It’s this court that takes in most of the newly escaped Lost, guiding them away from the stalls in Tumbledown where less scrupulous merchants will sense their desperation — for information, for vengeance, for word of lost families. The Barter Court makes itself available to witness bargains, letting the entrants know whether their deal is fair or not. While this is generally met with approval, some sellers take it as an insult that their clients distrust them so openly. The mantle for a Barterer manifests in even tones and calming scents. They leave drips of sealing wax in their wake. Mantle of Barter Harvest: Your character gains a Glamour point whenever he successfully intercedes on someone else’s behalf in an unfair deal. • Gain bonus dice equal to your character’s Mantle dots on mundane rolls to read someone’s situation from their behavior. •• Gain bonus dice equal to your character’s Mantle dots on mundane rolls to make deals and agreements in Tumbledown. ••• Regain a Willpower point whenever you resolve the Oathbreaker Condition, or when someone else resolves it due to your influence or meddling. •••• Once per chapter, when the Storyteller spends your Goblin Debt to impose a Condition, you may replace the Condition with another of the same general type. ••••• Once per chapter, you may ask the Storyteller if someone your character is dealing with has left a loophole or catch that will disadvantage him in a deal. The Court of Favors Jill never carries cash, but she’s got great credit. Give her a few days and she’ll make it up to you. If the Pie Man will part with one of his goblin fruit tarts, Ash promises she’ll bring him the finest berries from a secret shrub in the Hedge only she can find. Favors are a currency built on risk and trust on the part of both seller and buyer. The seller trusts they’ll recoup their investment; the buyer trusts that, when the bill comes due, they’re not forced to pay more than what their purchase was worth. The Lost who swear to the Court of Favors tend to be shrewd listeners and smooth talkers. They promise just enough, and know when to walk away from a bad deal. Whatever it is their business partner needs, the changeling knows a guy who can get it for him. Their networks are vast, and oathbreakers are rarely tolerated in their ranks. Favorsworn mantles carry with them the sound of bells tolling or hands clasping to seal a bargain. Mantle of Favors Harvest: Your character gains a Glamour point whenever she makes good on a promise she made within the same chapter. • Gain bonus dice equal to your character’s Mantle dots on mundane rolls to convince someone to make a bargain (p. XX). •• Gain the benefits of the Fixer Merit (p. XX) even if your character doesn’t qualify. ••• Other characters take a dice penalty equal to your character’s Mantle dots to mundane rolls to swindle her or lie to her about a deal or promise. •••• Once per chapter, you may accept a point of Goblin Debt to pawn off an obligation from a bargain onto another changeling without being personally involved. ••••• Once per chapter, you may reroll any mundane action that would pay off a favor she owes and choose which result to keep. The Court of Shady Deals The gentle-natured man would never do harm to another living being, but oh, how his neighbor snores at night. If only someone would pinch his nose shut. Sure, you don’t have the Snowdrop Crown in your backpack, but if it were to find its way into it, and then to Tumbledown, well… don’t you want to know if your daughter still dreams about her father? What’s one more throat cut, after all the lives your Keeper made you take? Members of the Court of Shady Deals are willing to take on the jobs most others would reject outright. They do the hard jobs, the ones that require cold logic, steady hands, and no aversion to blood. They do what’s necessary. They’re not sorry. The Lost who swear to this court are also the freehold’s defenders. If the Huntsmen come near, they know where to hide the bodies. Light dims around these courtiers, and the sound of knives rasping on whetstone follows them. Mantle of Shady Deals Harvest: Your character gains a Glamour point whenever he successfully hides evidence of a dirty deed when someone comes looking for it. • Gain bonus dice equal to your character’s Mantle dots on mundane rolls to pick a lock or break into a place he doesn’t belong. •• Gain bonus dice equal to your character’s Mantle dots on mundane rolls to escape a sticky situation unnoticed. ••• Your character may use Goblin Contracts without incurring Goblin Debt a number of times per chapter equal to his Mantle rating. •••• You may spent a Willpower point to ignore all the effects of the Oathbreaker Condition for one turn. ••••• Once per chapter, you may reroll a surprise attack roll and choose which result to keep. Faces Wren Lamontaigne Wren Lamontaigne was born and raised in the Crescent City. She preferred Decatur to Bourbon, could tell the time by how loudly the Preservation Hall crowd was clapping, and never, ever, wanted to leave. She was taken at nineteen, one minute listening to a tour guide tell his enraptured crowd about the ghosts in the Beauregard House, the next tearing through the Hedge, bits of herself catching on the thorns. Her Keeper made her tell stories until she was hoarse, then tell more. Wren doesn’t have much of a voice left, but she knows every tale there is to tell. The Lost seek her out in Tumbledown and offer her tea and honey to soothe her ragged throat. In return, she tells them stories: their own. Charlotte Wake Charlotte was rarely a good girl. If an elder said “don’t,” she heard “I dare you.” No Trespassing signs were gilded invitations. The French Market at night, after the stalls had closed? She could hardly resist. That first night, she wandered the empty rows, peeking beneath dropcloths and pretending to sell the wares to her imaginary friends. At ten years old, she was the queen of the market. Until the night she snuck in through the Barracks Street gate, and found herself farther from home than her imagination had ever carried her. It was fun at first, some of the vendors as fanciful as anything she’d ever read in her fairy tale collections. But then the Dusk Witch found her, and put her to work. Charlotte served the Dusk Witch for seven years, until the Fair Coin found her and set her free. Now she runs with them, acting as their errand girl and wreaking small havoc on the Dusk Witch’s stall. The Pie Man One of the draws of any goblin market worth its salt is the goblin fruit vendor. The Pie Man puts them all to shame. No one’s ever seen him bake, but every morning his stall is filled with racks upon racks of fresh pastries and tarts, their fillings made of goblin fruits of every kind. Something in the dough or his technique enhances their effects. He refuses to share his secrets. The best pastries are gone within minutes of him putting up his awning, so changelings who want the most potent fruits are wise to arrive at Tumbledown early. The Tumbledown Players What’s a market without wandering musicians? The Tumbledown Players are a roving band, who range about the market hearing the latest gossip and weaving it into their songs. They serve as both rumor mill and town criers. Membership in the band rotates, and it doesn’t always consist only of changelings. If a hobgoblin can carry a tune or keep time, they’ve been known to join the ranks now and again. The players are also said to be able to manipulate behaviors with their music, playing songs that make people more likely to buy, or linger at a stall long enough for the shopkeeper to make the right offer. Places Dutch Alley In New Orleans, Dutch Alley is a row of art galleries and exhibits, the art created by human hands. Tumbledown’s Dutch Alley boasts more unusual pieces, many of them made by local changeling artists. Some are works stolen from Keepers’ palaces, or from their jewelry boxes. The paintings boast colors impossible to reproduce with mundane pigments, and sculptures may once have been alive. The Sans Merci Tavern In the middle of a long day of shopping and bargaining, travelers may wish to sit down grab a bite to eat. The Sans Merci has stood for over a hundred years, built after Tumbledown’s expansion. The chefs cater to both changeling and faerie palates, offering pints of ale and thimbles of newborn tears side by side on the menu. The Tumbledown Players and other musicians often stop in to sing for their supper and hear the latest goings-on. The proprietor, a slender, tattooed man who’d look right at home in any bar on Rue Decatur, goes only by the name of Jack. As a game, he offers a reward for anyone who can guess his last name — one guess per patron per night — but it’s been a century, and no one’s hit upon it. Café du Monde As far as you can get from the Barracks Street entrance and still be in the French Market is the 24-hour coffee and beignet stand, Café du Monde. It’s a tourist attraction in New Orleans, selling squares of fried dough covered in powdered sugar, and strong chicory coffee. It’s a place many of the Lost go for quiet moments away from the Market. They’re surrounded by humans at all hours, and when you feel your perspective start slipping away from too many encounters with hobgoblins and horrors, a good dose of excited tourists and jaded locals can set you back to whatever your normal is. The Exchange Not everyone carries the proper currency with them when they reach Tumbledown. Some come bearing braids of their true love’s hair, only to find the merchant’s had enough of that and now wants the howl of a Briarwolf in a green glass bottle. Rather than going home empty-handed, market-goers stop by the Exchange to see if they can make a swap. The Exchange doesn’t look too impressive on first glance. Boxes overflowing with what appears to be junk are piled atop one another, their contents spilling out onto the dusty ground. Cardboard produce boxes sit beside milk crates, and steam trunks with broken hinges lay open next them. A pair of badger-faced sisters handle the transactions, sometimes arguing in hushed tones about the values and exchange rates of the items in question. Onyx Path
  9. I hadn't thought about it at first, but sure, especially if she felt any extra interest or someone asked about the portals over GuildChat. Relevant section of Sean's post: There was also the billions of quantum particles each portal emitted to consider. Major population centers were being targeted. Even though it took a very specific series of conditions to activate a nascent MR Node, sheer numbers would indicate there would be more than a few quantum events triggered. Being masters of Portal Technology, Sean assumed the Asheen were aware of the emitted quantum particles, if not their exact effects on human physiology. Still, she couldn't believe they didn't find a use for them. Wireless Energy Transmission for their war machines perhaps? Using disturbances and fluctuations in a thickened quantum field to track military movements?
  10. Just an update and FYI for the Irregulars, in case it was missed or is unclear what Sean is sharing with them over Guildchat. -More portals have opened in cities all over the world -Those portals, including the Shelly ones aren't two-way, but only Termini all originating from the same Portal. Things can come out, but nothing can go in. -The Irregulars have to go to Mission Zone in China to get to the Origin Portal and close it from the 'other' side. -The Portals and alien forces in Shelly at there purely as a distraction for the Irregulars/Human QEHs. -Savant and Jaunt will be joining them at Bunnee's in a moment then they'll be jaunting to China (I presume Jaunt has to be in some proximity to the other Irregulars to jaunt them off to wherever) -Savant suggests leaving some or most of the clones behind to help guard Shelly and hunt down Howlers. I think that is the main thrust of what Sean has shared over GuildChat. If I missed anything or anyone has questions, feel free to ask or hit me up in chat.
  11. Gods of the Fall - Session Prep - Finding the Way Once again we return to the Afterworld... kinda. The characters have entered into the twisted and nonsensical interior of The Furnace. Or maybe they simply passed from one realm to another? Uncertainty about where they are combined with confusion about the rules of this place and its doors that lead to other realms has them flatfooted. In addition there are strange beings here who seem hostile in part, and who may be cypher-phages, consuming the divine energy of the cyphers the character bear. The characters themselves are of course divinely powered and thus contain divine energy, that'll be the crux of this session as the creatures feed on that energy. This is the curse of this traveling space, as it turns mortals who stray too long into these phage creatures. The PCs will encounter some who are far more fargone than others, and may even be able to help the prior party return to the Afterworld and regain their humanity. I have two main goals for this session:, The PCs should figure out what happened to the lost party. The PCs should figure out how to control the traveling doors. The former should be easy enough as the last part of the prior session had them finding the campsite of the last party. I plan to drop clues as they investigate which combined with the behavior of one of the phages/party who has an uneasy truce with the group should point them in the right direction. The latter calls back to the characters' trials from their first adventure during their trials within the shard of a past heaven. As divine beings they have the ability, nay the right, to enforce their will on the world(s) around them. This is something I feel strongly is a core theme to games where the players grasp at godhood: the power to change the world to your will, balanced (or not) by the wisdom to know when to do so and when not to. Inspiration Strikes
  12. GUARDIAN SHIELD BULWARK AFB MONTANA "Are there any numbers on termini opening in other cities, other nations, coming in, Colonel?" Sean contemplated the Portals in DC, extrapolating on their significance beyond simply as a means for rapid deployment. Assuming each population center was subject to five portals, that would be at least 250 portals at the moment, likely more, if more cities were attacked. Even with Vanguard's clones and Chimera copying the ability, there weren't nearly enough Irregulars, Deviants, and previously manifested QEHs to stem the tide of the invasion in a direct confrontation. There was also the billions of quantum particles each portal emitted to consider. Major population centers were being targeted. Even though it took a very specific series of conditions to activate a nascent MR Node, sheer numbers would indicate there would be more than a few quantum events triggered. Being masters of Portal Technology, Sean assumed the Asheen were aware of the emitted quantum particles, if not their exact effects on human physiology. Still, she couldn't believe they didn't find a use for them. Wireless Energy Transmission for their war machines perhaps? Using disturbances and fluctuations in a thickened quantum field to track military movements? "Scramble what assets you can, Colonel," Sean advised, her melodious tones still impersonal and professional. "Packs of howlers are fleeing from the portals and spreading throughout Shelly. If you can get an emergency broadcast out, warn people to remain in doors. The Shelly Termini will all be impeded momentarily - though I can't say for how long with any certainty - and we'll leave at least half of Vanguard and Chimera clones behind for overwatch and mop-up duty, as well as several other QEHs, but the Irregulars are going to the China Mission Zone." Her eyes flashed, her lips curving in a fierce, determined grin as she strapped on her packed military rucksack and a case containing a broken down prototype Gauss rifle. "If we can't get the Alien Portal closed, then the probability of a successful resistance to the invasion is negligible." Without turning around to look, Sean spoke to Devin, despite him trying to stay innocuous, knowing exactly where he was. "Get ready to pickup the rest of the Irregulars, Jaunt. The recon mission in China is now a surgical strike." <We're going to have to leave the clones behind to hunt down the howlers and to stay on overwatch, keeping the eye on the termini, or watching for new ones, Vanguard,> Sean informed the rest of the Irregulars over GuildChat. <The Alien Invasion is striking at fifty cities world wide concurrently, and counting. Our only option to halt their advance is to close their Key Portal. From their side. And the only way to do that is by going to China. Jaunt and I will be with you momentarily. Be prepared everyone. The Asheen Portal will be under heavy guard, we're going to have hit it hard and hit it fast.>
  13. GUARDIAN SHIELD OPS BULWARK AFB "I'm well aware of the situation, Captain McKellar," Sean replied coolly, her gaze the direct one of an equal rather than a subordinate as she glided back towards him and the other personnel. "And I believe the providence of the suits may pertain to it, in an enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend sort of way, though you do have valid concerns." <The suits will almost certainly not explode> Sean thought back reassuringly to Laurie and Devin, glancing at them over her shoulder. Laurie glanced down at the second skin she was wearing then back to her sister, dark red brows deeply furrowed in concern. <Almost certainly?> <Extremely unlikely. If you are getting impressions from the suit, Devin, keep pursuing it, perhaps in a roundabout fashion so you don't run straight into the lockdown protocols until we find a way to jailbreak them. But stay on standby, I think we're gonna need your mad skillz soon.> "What forces do we have on base or nearby, Captain?" Sean asked, disparate facts falling into place, giving her a rapidly forming picture of the situation, as she updated McKeller on the situation at Bunnee's with what Abel had discovered. She hid a wince at the pained sensation she felt over her link with Sara, but the only sign of it she displayed was a tightening of her lips. Vanguards healed her and Sara's own regenerative abilities had her up soon. She hated it, but she, and all of them, would be going into greater danger still. <Stay strong, babe. It's going to get worse before it gets better.> "I believe the Irregulars will be needed elsewhere very soon. If you've managed to reestablish contact with the Pentagon, advise them to activate any forces they can contact, along with their counterparts in other nations." "Which ones, Savant?" "Why, all of them," she informed them with an arched brow. "I think I understand what they are doing and how they are doing it. They're blitzing the major population centers and capitals while keeping us tied down." The constant motion and evolution, regeneration and multiplication of the nanomachines comprising the skinsuits had triggered a hypothesis. Abel had show her the Shelly portal how it divided into multiple portals including a larger one. Their research how shown that a normal portal didn't stretch through space, but brought space together and that transition through a portal was instantaneous. But the large drone was taking measurable time to pass through the large portal in front of Bunnee's. And Devin had shown her the anomalous black disk Clare had seen in China, portals appearing then disappearing over its surface. She recalled her premonition of Sydney's destruction, the portals opening and the drones pouring through. It wasn't only Sydney that was going to face that, Sean now knew. She inhaled sharply, the pieces falling into place. "The Goatul Feem warned us the Asheen were masters of portal technology, Captain," Sean commented. "Earth is now witnessing it. Co-opting our own portals was just the beginning. Those aren't actual portals at Bunnee's and wherever else they are appearing. They are Termini. Their forces are coming through a single portal and being shunted through to termini as needed, which they can open at will without having to open a new portal. The Asheen have made what is essentially a cable splitter for their portal, with an unknown number of outputs they can add to when necessary." Sean turned to directly face Captain McKellar and Colonel Pryor, who had just returned, standing at ease with her hands clasped behind her back. "And its at the Mission Zone in China. The only reason they are attacking here, with a contingent too big for a population center the size of Shelly - even accounting for Fort Bulwark - is because of us. It's a diversion to prevent us from disrupting their plans for the rest of the invasion." <Irregulars, get ready to ship out,> Sean sent to her friends, and now, her comrades in arms. <We're being distracted from the main danger. In China, they have a means to open termini anywhere they want without opening a new portal, and are able to keep sending troops when and where needed instantly. We need to fuck their shit up and destroy the thing letting them do that, guys. I suggest we leave a pair or trio of Vanguards and Chimeras behind as overwatch in case they open a new terminus for another diversionary force while the rest of us make a surgical strike at the Mission Zone. The device they are using appears as a massive black disk. We destroy it and withdraw.> Sean's eyes narrowed, considering options. <Jaunt, how many do you think you can handle in one trip? You can get us to where you jaunted Laurie and Clare away from?>
  14. GUARDIAN SHIELD OPS BULWARK AFB "Interesting, very interesting," Sean murmured with rising excitement. "Convenient too." More variables and permutations were resolving themselves in her mind as she attempted to determine a path to ending the invasion. Seemingly ignoring Devin's lewd comment about the suit's apps, she continued looking at him, and Laurie, or rather their suits, with clinical intensity, head cocked slightly to one side. World ending events or not, she still found the suits fascinating, all the more so that they very well may help with curtailing said world ending events. "I can see how that would be possible. The suits have a ridiculously efficient energy absorption rate. You're practically emitting zero quantum emissions, Jaunt, and I can't penetrate the suit with a high-end electromagnetic scan to see into or through it." If Sean was embarrassed about just admitting about trying to look through his 'clothes' she gave no sign of it. "I'm guessing it's using your natural quantum field - and body heat in Laurie's case - to power itself, and that the suit has massive energy storage potential." Sean ran a finger down Devin's arm, watching to see how the suit reacted, and Laurie felt a surge of annoyance her sister was taking even if they was nothing sexual in the touch. Sean could see on the microscopic scale and she had fine enough motor control to move at a thousandth of a millimeter. "The suits aren't fabric or organic in anyway guys. They're made up of nanomachines, constantly shifting and moving. The nanomachines are behaving like organic cells, but they are purely mechanical-electrical. Very different from the manufactured organic Asheen tech we've studied so far." She focused on Devin and Laurie directly now. "Whether given to you or forced on you, I believe the skinsuits are from a different alien race, possibly from one that is opposed to the Asheen or the Overlords. Whether they were given to help us, or forced on you to use you as an opportunity still remains to be determined." They could essentially be suicide bomber vests, she thought, not wanting to worry them."You said you are getting impressions from them, can you 'ask' them about their purpose? And Laurie, how do you feel?" Being juiced with Quantum energy would effect a non-QEH very differently.
  15. Predation - A Before B and Also CSee, I told you that would attract ants! Why "c"? These things aren't arbitrary. Large corporations like SATI have rules that govern everything internal. So the Gre-Vakian c trials that brought our PC's ancestors to the cretaceous era were almost certain preceeded by Gre-Vakian a and b trials. But what about those trials? Very little is even implied, let alone said, of them, and their existence isn't confirmed, just conjecture based on a logical presumption. Gre-Vakian a Trial The "a" trial was probably the prototype phase, or the phase immediately after that. The commuters from the "a" trial clearly either failed in whatever mission SATI set forth (very possibly the same mission as the "c" trial) or had another mission entirely. I'm going to choose to think that they probably had a different mission, as SATI sending two groups of commuters back in time and then opting for "third time's a charm" seems a bit forced. So what was the intent of the "a" trial? Infrastructure. Consider that the Last Commute has been described as a failure of the machinery in the cretaceous. This seems reasonable at face value, but give it some thought and you realize that there must be more to the story. I got into that last week, but suffice to say I think that the Last Commute was the result of Paradox biting SATI square in the butt. I think that SATI's time travel was one way; you can send but but your cannot retrieve. Trial "a" was very likely concerned with getting equipment in place in the past to verify that return trips were even possible. Imagine being part of the "a" trials and knowing that if the tech didn't work you were dino chow! My guess is also that the "a" trial was very small scale. A small group of experts and technicians and the mechanism to send them home. A proof of concept that only barely counted as being a trial at all. ... but if that's true, then what about "b"? Gre-Vakian b Trial What exactly is SATI up to in the past? We may never know, unless we are the GM, or the GM chooses to reveal that to us in the game we play in. Or is Shanna writes a Predation novel. A novel with awesome dinosaurs ... I'll try and suggest that at Gen Con this year. I digress, while we may not know the point of SATI's expeditions we can make certain assumptions. Assumption: The "b" trial was either a failure, or had a different goal from the "c" trial. This seems pretty reasonable. SATI must have a reason to be sending thousands of its employees back in time. So either "b" failed but a "c" trial was still positive on the old risk vs reward analysis or "b" was doing something different from "c". Assumption: The "b" trial was located elsewhere (or elsewhen) such that the "c" trial would not find evidence of the prior trial, or run into and interfere with the prior trial. Yes, I'm implying that the "b" trial could be/have been concurrent with the "c" trial. I don't think this is too far fetched to assume that these could be concurrent in different locations, or that the "b" trial was taking place in a different time period. This feeds directly into ... Assumption: The commuters of "c" trial were not in any danger from "b" trial, nor were they required for "b" trial as such. Basically if SATI was putting this kind of investment into these trials they wouldn't sabotage themselves, and they probably wouldn't have the left hand unaware of the part they had to play in the right hand's projects. So with all that what was trial "b" up to? I obviously cannot say for certain but I have a couple of ideas. The Gre-Vakian b trial had the same/similar goal as the c trial but elsewhere/elsewhen. Possibly at the end of a prior era like the Jurassic or the late Paleogene. In this case I think they were essentially "mining" genetic information. Ancient DNA could give insight into the evolutionary process, provide treatments for diseases, and even yield means to improve crops by adding prehistoric DNA.The Gre-Vakian b trial isn't even on Earth! SATI is and INTER-global corporation. I don't think that this is a mistake and there are references to other planets. I think SATI could have sent a trial back in time to study Mars when it was livable. It's even possible that they had reach beyond our solar system, and if so there are any number of places they may have wanted to use time travel to exploit. The Gre-Vakian b trial "failed" and the "c" trial was initiated to pick up the pieces. The reason there seem to be a lot of "lost" SATI facilities in just the 100-ish years since the last commute is because they are facilities that were part of trial "b". Perhaps the commuters of "b" are dead and gone, or maybe they were recalled Could it be that "c" is just a ruse and the "b" project continues on even now? Regardless of my thoughts there's plenty of room for your own interpretations, assumptions, and conclusions. Do you think the commuters of Gre-Vakian c trial are the first? If not, what do you think happened to "a" and "b"?Inspiration Strikes