Tag Archives: thaw

The Thaw: Session 2

WeaverWe had one new player, so we opened up with another round of chargen. We now have Weaver, a CG urchin turned thief whose background got delightfully complicated by the spread. Initially, he had run with a gang which has become a church (or cult) to “The Storyteller” with his one remaining childhood friend as the high priestess. He left the imperial capital because while he believes in the Storyteller, things were getting weird.

But then the Past card came up The Bear (really, the dancing bear) and it evolved from that the Queen (the emperor’s daughter) had been taken by his stories and made something of a pet of him. This had many upsides, but also was full of problems as he blamed the imperials for the loss of many of his childhood friends. He also stole a book of unknown provenance during the wyvern attack.

And that’s when we flipped the present, and it came up The Twin, inverted. We described a few possible interpretations, and opted for something literal – while Weaver was uncomfortable with his growing prominence in the cult and the court, someone else saw it as an opportunity, and the final problems that drove him from the city were engineered by a changeling, who has since taken his place.

And when the future came up  The Empty Throne (curiously, also Arasthel’s future) it became pretty clear that Weaver’s role in this changeling plot is far from over.

We then pulled together some backgrounds. It turns out Weaver was the guy who recognized Hazlam, and who was persuaded to keep it to himself by Hazlam and Israfil. It also turned out that Weaver had a hand in the activation of Tuesday – the stolen book is actually full of warforged lore, and Sul Taeres’s ‘accidental’ activation of Tuesday was quite intentional on their part (albeit with a limited understanding). Taeres and Weaver have absolutely fallen together as partners in crime, and I’m pretty happy with that.

All of which lead to session start. We had 8 players, and while it’s more manageable than 10, it was still enough that it created some problems. Not enough to tank the game, but definitely enough to muddle some things.

Since everyone was up to speed on rules, we had a little bit more opportunity to build out the setting, so things began in the Smokey Yak with Lefty telling a story of how the ice came to be. The Yak is the tavern that grew up next to the smokehouse, since it was one of the central locations in town, and Lefty got his name when something (the story changes) took off his right hand in one bite. It is a running joke among trappers that when they gut a creature, they’re looking for Lefty’s ring.

The story went that when the armies of darkness rose up, the Gods could not stop them, and the Titans were deaf to the pleas of mortals. But when those armies grew bold enough to challenge the heavens, that was enough to interest Dogan the Devourer, who relished the battle and laid waste to the enemy, but also to the world. So great was the devastation of this that two of the kinder hearted Titans intervene. Fafnir the great ate up the enemies challenging Dogan, and Tetra froze the world, sending Dogan to sleep beneath the ice. And to this day, at the very center of the ice, he sleeps, and woe be on us all if the thaw ever reaches him.

But, of course, that’s just a story. Tuesday noticed the proprietor was looking concerned about something, and checking outside regularly. Uncertain how to address this, she grabbed some other characters to go talk with her. It turned out that her cousin should have been here already with the yak herd. A trivial concern in most places, but Placeholder is incredibly dependent on the herds for its food supply (since it is at a remove from any substantial agriculture). They players agrred to investigate.

Sadly, this was complicated somewhat by Glemmer, Taere’s and Weaver putting on a show inside, a purse getting stolen, and a very large, angry man pursuing Weaver out the window and onto Hazlam’s sled. Hazlam & Weaver took off as Naoto attempted to get the man to stand down and got kicked for her trouble. She took it poorly, drew steel and violence ensued.

Now, this was education on a few axes. First. I dropped the ball as GM in making it clear what was happening where. We had a lot of characters in different places, and I hadn’t made it clear enough what was going on where.

Second, the dice were unkind. The guy got initiative, got two attacks off, hit on the first, critted on the second and dropped Naoto in one round. That was, frankly, not a super satisfying outcome. Now in fairness, I had intentionally statted the guy as tough because I figured he might become a recurring NPC, and if he was tough now, then surpassing him later would be satisfying. I had not, however, expected things to be quite that lopsided. Put a pin in that, it comes up later.

The NPC ended up getting a name (Gaston) and stormed off to find Weaver, so he didn’t notice the group stealing his wagon to go catch up in the other direction.

The group met up, headed out along the trail and found a dead yak and clear sign of an attack (distance was about one long rest, so Naoto recovered in the wagon). Clearly the attack was made by some burrowing creature, and the herd had been lead off the road towards rocky terrain. Also, there were signs that someone had been watching the fight. The group followed and were within sight of the rocky outcropping where the herd and herder had sought refuge when they were attacked by the young Remorhaz.

Now, again, this was educational. The worm is a CR 5 encounter, and it’s mostly made nasty by its ambient damage (7 points when you hit it[1]) and the fact that it shrugs off cold and fire damage. It also had a lot of Hit Points, but an only OK armor class. Balanced against this, the party was operating short handed, since some took off in pursuit of the observer, who was watching from a hilltop abut a quarter mile off.

For all this, the deciding factor ended up being luck – the worm could not roll for crap, and landed only one hit in the entirety of the fight, though despite that, the party was pretty roughed up by the ongoing damage. The observer got away (he had plenty of time to do so), though he left a little bit of evidence (tobacco ash) and the party took a short rest with the herd before deciding to lead it back to town, expecting to rest along the way.

Naturally, they got attacked while camped. I tuned the encounter a bit more this time, with one CR4 Shadow Demon and 3 CR2 Ice Gargoyles (regular gargoyles, but vulnerable to fire). While not super dangerous toe to toe, the demon wound have the advantage of surprise, and the Gargoyles were not intended as a threat to the players, but rather, to the herd.

I’m actually pretty happy with how this fight went. The demon one shotted Tuesday (a surprise to me – turned out she’d been conservative with her recovery dice during the short rest) and there was a brief stealth duel with Weaver until the thing was revealed enough for Israfil to go full Paladin on its ass, backed up by the party clerics. A lot of radiant damage makes for a very dead Shadow Demon.

The rest of the party dealt with the gargoyles,and a Gust of Wind kept them from damaging the Yaks as much as they intended, buying time for fire and ass kicking to do their job. The fight definitely got pretty straightforward once the party could bring their strengths to bear. I could certainly have made it harder, but I think it felt about right.

They got back to town with the herd, and Gaston was bought off with the meat from the one yak the gargoyles had killed and by being given credit towards the Remorhaz kill (the head went up by the gates). We still had some time so there was some investigation that followed. The town, it seemed, had been having a lot of supply problems. Nothing too overt, but enough that everything was running low, and the yak herd going missing would have potentially been quite disruptive. No headway on who the mysterious smoker was, but it did put Lucius Tanner (owner of the town’s largest trading post) on their radar as the likely source of the tobacco. He’s also a potential suspect as someone who benefits from scarcity. The problem is that Lucius is making money hand over fist, and disruption might hurt that.

Out heroes’ acclaim for besting the Remorhaz also got them attention from the Aide to the Marjan ambassador, who needed someone to drive some claim jumpers off his recently acquired claim. At first, the group thought he was a potential mark, but then after spotting his bodyguard, wondered if he was a honeypot. After Sul Taeres agreed to help, Arasthel stpped in and insisted they needed some time. The diplomat seemed put off, and pointed out that they had been discussing this for several hours already, and if they were adamant (they were) he woudl seek elsewhere.

So the the diplomat hired Gaston and his crew, and set off. The party was still curious, and investigation seemed to suggest that if the diplomat was not on the level, then at least his con was much deeper than just ripping off a few adventurers (the Marjans had bought out numerous contiguous claims since the accord was signed, greatly overpaying in almost all cases). The set out (for a number of sometimes conflicting reasons) only to encounter a badly injured Gaston and crew on the road coming back. They’d been ambushed by undead halflings. A negotiation was made with the Marjan diplomat, and the job of clearing out these apparent claim jumpers is now theirs again.

Ok, numerous takeaways from this one

  • It is difficult to write about the DMG and prep for a game simultaneously. Sorry about that, but I will be back on it.
  • This game finally named and loosely identified the other dominant human empire, loosely based on the Persians with some Ottoman flavor. That they are Marjans is something of a personal joke.
  • We tried a new rule that we’ll be testing for a while which i call the “heroic death rule”. Any time you would go down because you’re at 0 HP, you can opt to stay on your feet, but you immediately mark off one failed death save. You can act on your turn, and if you’re still standing at the end, mark off another failed death save. The net result is that you always have the option to go full Boromir and fight to the death. More critically, it introduces choice to the most boring part of play.
  • The new rule has some knock on effects. We’ve tweaked the stabilization cantrips (they now heal 1d4, but only for a target at 0 hp) and there are certain abuses that could theoretically come up that we want to head off. There are also some situations (like when Tuesday got backstabbed) where it’s not 100% appropriate. For the time being, it’s a work in progress.
  • I also need to come up with a rule for failed death saves turning into injuries, but that’s phase 2.
  • What it does, however, is mitigate one of my big concerns with combat so far. I’m still working on balancing for a bigger group, but one thing I run into a lot is monsters whose basic hits pretty much promise to one shot most of my part. That’s dangerous and all, but not exactly fun – one and done really drives home the swinginess of things.
  • Beyond the heroic death rule, I am also going to try to address this more in encounter design. One big takeaway is that I’m going to be a lot more free in pulling from the ranks of CR1 and 2 stuff to build the foundation for an encounter. I’m also going to turn my eye towards things with more (and more interesting) attacks than things with big damaging whammies.
  • That “more interesting” is something I really want to ruminate on. A lot of what made 4e fights fun (and they were super fun for me) was that there was a lot of non-damage stuff going on. Similarly, a lot of the best practices of Dungeon World were all about doing things over and above raw damage. I don’t know where all of 5e’s hooks are for that, but my hunch is that the secret is getting a lot more robust with advantage and disadvantage.

  1. Reading the monster ability, one could conclude that the 7 points is done every time a hit lands, but I opted for a kinder interpretation that limited it to once per action because the lack of a save or any other potential mitigation is crazy nasty otherwise, especially considering how many hit points the thing had.  ↩

The Thaw: Treasure Thoughts

locked-chestOne thing I rather glossed over in the session post mortem is the question of treasure. For the kickoff adventure I was profoundly generous and let everyone walk away with one magic item. There were a few reasons to do this, but most of them had to do with magic items being cool and part of what makes D&D feel like D&D.

It was really interesting, because it gave me reason to look at the magic item tables in a much more concrete way than I had previously, and it was informative. I’d had a sense that 5e was a little more conservative with the magic items than previous editions, but I hadn’t realized how conservative. As low level characters, I really should have been handing out only very minor scrolls and potions, and it would actually be a while before they were even in a position to roll on a table that might cough up a +1 weapon. I ended up letting them roll d100 and looking across the first several tables to find the coolest option among them, and despite that, the loot was still mostly potions and scrolls.

The one exception is that our archer happened to roll exactly so to potentially get an arrow of slaying, and that was too perfect a match to pass up. I could have just left it at that – a default arrow of slaying is fun but not crazy – it gets you one 6d10 hit, which would be awesome when it happens, but is not world shaking.

But what’s the fun in that?

So it’s an arrow of dragon slaying. Like, honest to god dragon slaying. She hits a dragon with it, it dies. That is crazy powerful and has the potential of having an outsized impact on play (and also has a nice thematic element, since her character has some Bard the Bowman touchpoints), but none of that worries me because of the flipside of it. For all it’s potency, the idea of an arrow of dragon slaying is going to drive a crapton more play than its actual use. Players will have a reason to use it. NPCs (widely varied, interesting NPCs) have reasons to want it or want to see it used in particular places. It’s an act of apparent generosity which is, in actuality, a gift to myself.

Anyway, I am now going to have to think about magic items over the course of the game a little bit more. I’m ok being more conservative with them, but it increases my inclination to introduce more +0 weapons (weapons which grant no bonus to attack or damage, but which do some other sort of damage) just to deal with damage immunities, which do not seem quite as conservative as magic items. [1]

I also may need to re-examine the Artificer (from the Eberron Rules). Upon initial examination, it’s kind of a rough sell as a wizard specialty, since it’s very hard to argue that the benefits of the magic items they can make offset the loss of the spell slots, especially since the tradition doesn’t give any abilities that don’t use existing resources (unlike other traditions, which are on top of those resources). Maybe it’s a better deal if magic items are much rarer, but I’m suspecting it is not.

There is a reason I don’t normally stress over treasure in most games, but in D&D, it’s half the fun, so I’m willing to go all in on it. It just takes a bit of work.

  1. In fact, I think that the drow will have the secret of making iceblades, swords of sharpened ice that do cold damage but which melt. Reflects the ice heritage and seems cooler than the “underdark radiation” nonsense.  ↩

The Thaw: The initial spread

Character images are not yet confirmed, and are currently wildly uncredited, but here’s a snapshot of how I do my notes for play.



Card nerds will note that they’re index card sized, not playing card sized, and people who’ve played with me before are well aware that I cannot resist doing a spread.

EDIT: Tuaq’s image was wrong, so that’l be updated in the next version.  That said, I want to call out that while it is a little frivolous to do things in this style, it means that I can then do something like THIS, which is pretty actionable.



The Thaw: Session 0.1 – Connections

Once we had characters created, we did a quick round of connections to establish a little bit of backstory between the characters.

First we sketched out a shared adventure. Collapsing ice, emerging Giant spiders, fighting the spiders, exploring the revealed ruin. very loosely sketched, but it now gives something concrete to throw flashbacks at in the future.

Next, I just assigned everyone a number, rolled a die twice, then flipped up a Paizo plot twist card (from the flashbacks set – yes, this is turning into a little bit of an ad for Paizo’s cards). I pretty much just did this until almost everyone had at least two, then did a quick one for the remaining 3 people.


Naoto & Tuak drew “Lost”, so we talked about how they had gotten seperated in the dungeon and got Lost together. Because Tuak is kind of a jerk, we decided that they got to a point where a halfling could get out. Naoto did, but came back for Tuak. Without payment even!

Glimmer & Treewind drew “Life Changer”. The card has the image of a newborn on it, so we went literal, and in the midst of the ice spider attack, they delivered a baby despite having no idea what they were doing. Glemmer managed to fake it, but Treewind got the credit, and the baby’s name was Tree.

Glemmer & Arasthel drew kept secret, so we zeroed in on the Fire sister. Glemmer knows he Cambion she was with, and remarked to the investigating Arasthel that she didn’t seem kidnapped. Arasthel asserted she was charmed, but Glemmer knows she’s lying, and she knows he knows, so they have this little shared secret.

Naoto & Israfil drew Lacunsa(Memory), so we talked about the way they met, and decided that Naoto was the one who had opened the watchtower and released Israfil. They share the secret of the watchtower’s location.

Kit & Arasthel drew “reunion”, so Kit had visited the wood elf kingdoms in her youth, and had learned the basics from Arasthel.

Israfil & Glemmer drew “repressed memory”, which was kind of a weird one, so we decided that Glemmer had found the watchtower as well, but failed to open it (possibly because he’s not particularly pure of heart). However, that added Glemmer to Israfil’s sleeping awareness, so he dreamed of Glemmer’s defeat of the sleeper, though he doesn’t fully recall or understand that.

For the last one, Kit, Tuak & Treewind drew “Regret”, which ended up being a little bit tricky, since Kit is LG, and Tuak and Treewind are N and CN respectively, so moral regret was a little hard to come by. So it turned out they had cost the town something – they were attacked by a Rehemoraz, which would pretty much chew them up and spit them out. They were saved by Marshall Atwood, the hero/lawman of the town, but in doing so, Atwood was horrifically injured and crippled. Kit feels horribly responsible and Tuak and Treewind feel horrible that other people blame them for it.

And that is where we left it. If people had not needed to get home, then I suspect we would have insisted on starting play right then, which is (I think) a good sign.

New Faces

  • Baby Tree
  • Marshal Atwood

The Thaw: Session 0

Woo, Chargen. That was a Hell of a ride.

Ok, to frame all this – this was Chargen for a straight up 5e D&D game. There were a few mechanical changes based on the setting (tweaks to Drow and Tieflings, new Warlock pact, new Sorcery power source) with the biggest change being that we replaced the background stuff with 4 aspects. The aspects weren’t just pulled out of the air though – after we finished chargen we sat down with each character, asked some questions, then did an Everway-style card read (Past, Present, Future) for each character using the Harrow Deck(fn).

For the unfamiliar, you use tarot like cards for the process, flipping one for past, one for present. The last one is played sideways, and it represents the future, and something that might go either way. If that’s unclear, the photos should clear it up.

Procedurally, there were just a few tweaks. I emphasized backgrounds over classes, asking for background decisions before class decisions were made. It only makes so much fo a difference, but I think it helped cement the characters in useful ways. We also explicitly have not defined much more of the setting than I laid out in my previous blog post, so there were one or two points where we stopped to answer things about the world, but those weren’t any real slowdown. The main thing was that when someone introduced a god, they had to choose which of the two characters from the Dungeon World game that god is the offspring of.

We also did a round of connections after charge to cover the trip from level 1 to level 2.  Those might be their own post though.

Ok, all that said: The Characters

Kit, Lawful Good Byzant Folk Hero, Level 2 Fighter (Aspects: No one says no to the emperor, Hero of the empire, Keeping Secrets, Liberator or conquerer?)

The Byzant are one of the two major human cultures in the south, and as the name may suggest, they are roughly modeled after the Byzantines.

Kit is an archer (and is,I think, going to ge tto showcase just how good 5e made archery fighters) who pulled a Bard the Bowman when a Wyvern attacked the Emperor and dropped it with a lucky shot. This lead to accolades and the close personal attention of the Emperor, which dangerous. It also drew the ire of whoever unleashed the Wyvern, and Kit had to start looking out for assassination attempts. This provided incentive for her to get out of town, and by some coincidence, the emperor needed someone he trusted (or maybe “someone he trusted”) in Placeholder to report on matters of Imperial interest should the Empire ever decide to annex the place. As a result, Kit is something of an unwilling spy.


Kit’s Past it the Trumpet, which reflects her heroism, which is genuine, and drew great attention. Her present is the Cyclone, inverted – making order out of chaos. This represents the imperial interest in Placeholder and gave us reasont o name her contact, Theodoros, a travelling doctor/merchant. Her future is the unicorn, and it seems likely she will either liberate Placeholder, or she will rule it.

Arasthel, Chaotic Good Wood Elf Noble.  Level 2 Druid of the Moon (Aspects: Under the shadow of your father, Family entanglements, Noble ties, Rule or Ruin)

The wood elves live in small forest communities ruled by councils.  Arasthel is the eldest daughter of two councillors, and it was expected that she would follow in their footsteps, but her choice of druidic initiation was a mild embarrassment to the family.  Thankfully, the second child (attuned to Fire as Arasthel is attuned to Earth) was much more promising.


Arasthel’s past, the Inqusitor, suggested that she had done something which brought suspicion upon her.  It turned out she had given safe harbor to woodcutters who had cut down wood elf trees because they were in need. By the law, their lives were forfeit. When asked who pursued the matter, the answer was her father, who still seeks to punish her for this (and, implicitly, for the shame of her going druid).   When we pulled Eclipse for her present, that seemed very loaded, especially with her being a moon druid.  This could have gone a lot of ways – it’s an evil, unpleasant card, but also represents the moon triumphing over the sun.   I leaned towards the darker interpretation, noting that the moon may also be eclipsed.  This was to be about the second sister, the one touched by fire.  Atasthel’s player had previously talked about the reason she was in Place was that she was looking for the missing sister, so we drilled into that, specifically asking what terrible thing her sister did that Arasthel let happen. It was decided that she had run off with a “man” – in quite because he’s a cambion – and Arasthel has covered her tracks, even when she and her brother were sent on this “rescue” mission.

With all that, the empty throne made for a wonderful pull.  She is either going to return home to leadership someday, or the leadership of the wood elves will fall.

Sul Taeres, Chaotic Neutral Wood Elf Entertainer. Level 2 Elementalist Sorcerer (Air) (Aspects: Conceal don’t feel, Profound Disgrace, Voice under the Ice, Power of Dark or Light?)

Sul Taeres most often goes by Treewind because humans can’t pronounce his name right. He is the youngest of the three wood elf siblings, and naturally attuned to air. His sorcery is viewed as outright freakish by the wood elves, and he kept it secret of many years, revealing it only to his sisters. They both supported him, but the second daughter was especially supportive.


His past came up as Hidden Truths, inverted, so we talked about how his magic was revealed – it happened when he had to save the life of another elf, and that elf was his father (who, if you’ll remember, is a bit of a jerk). He was practically disowned on the spot, and after the disappointment of the eldest child, this turned even more attention on the second daughter.  We determined that Sul Taeres is unaware that she ran away voluntarily, and genuinely thinks he can save his sister.

Which spills into the present – The avalanche, inverted.  Things settling into place I asked what was keeping Sul Taeres in place.  Duty and the quest for his sister, sure, but what else?  The answer: A voice from beneath the ice.  Obviously, I’m delighted with this.

So when the eclipse came up again for the future, it was too perfect. Again, that is so much the card for the missing sister, and it raises the question of whether Sul Taeres will follow her down that dark path, or find a new one.

(Mechanical note: I’m writing up the elementals sorcerer for this. I have  no published reference.)


Tuak Pel, Neutral Drow Bounty Hunter. Level 2 Warlock. (Aspects: Combat capitalist, Renegade elf of the ice, Questionable relationship with Glemmer, Binder or Opener?)

I have no great love of the drow, but in the absence of the underdark, they are elves who live on the ice. and have adapted to it through dark magics (and they use Inuit names).Pel is one such elf, and the intent of the character is to be a melee warlock, so he’ll be going Sword Pact at level 2.  The idea was that he had sworn fealty to a dark power but due to the nature of the pact (and the amount of drinking involved in that evening) he was a little shaky on which one.  We talked a little bit about bounties – he cheerfully works for all authorities in Placeholder, and when manhunting work is not available, he collects rare herbs on the ice for Theodorus.


For the past, we saw our old friend the inquisitor, but we could not use it in the same NPC for it, so instead we talked about who among the Drow might be pursuing him, and form this we determined that while there are many warlocks among the drow, they do not pact with Sleepers (things beneath the ice), and that is exactly what Pel did.  So far as they are concerned, his should has been ripped away, and his old Mentor (Uglo) now hunts the abomination who wears his old apprentices skin.  This, of course, not so healthy for Pel.

For the present, the Cricket, inverted, was a bit os a head scratcher at first. I looked at it hard before it struck me that it was absolutely representative of Glemmer, the Tiefling charlatan and another member of the party. The players had been discussing some history, so it cemented on this – Pel had “Killed” Glemmer to collect a bounty, and in doing so allowed Glemmer to establish the identity he currently operates under.  Perl got paid by Glemmer and by the dwarven marshall who had put out the bounty.

The future came up The Dance.  Looking at the card, it really felt like the it was going to be about Pel’s sword, and thinking about what that meant was inspired by the suit of the cards. I was struck by the image of the key, and it clicked – his sword will be a key, but the question is whether it will open something, or lock it away.

Naoto the Thunder, Lawful Good Halfling Soldier. Level 2 Cleric of Storms (Aspects: Last hope of sunset, The thunder and the executioner, Quest for the blade of storms, A sword has two edges)

Naoto is from he Sunset Shire, a halfling shire not far from Placeholder which has half thawed.  Naoto herself is a warrior priest armed with a hallooing scaled naginata.  At first, the idea was that she had been sent out to find an army to protect the Sunset Shire. That lead to the question – this seemed like a mission doomed to fail, so who was getting rid of her? We flipped the first card to help answer.


The flip was The Beating, and that upended things wonderfully.  it was not that they needed an army, it was that they had one already, and it was BAD.  Naoto’s sister (So Mei, the Executioner) had turned to necromancy, and had convinced the shire that an army of “ancestors” was the path to safety.  Naoto desperately seeks some way to defeat her sister and restore the Shire.

The present revealed The Forge, inverted. That suggested a classic theme, a broken weapon. Naoto seeks the Blade of Storms, but so does the executioner.  The blade was revealed to Naoto in a vision that she assumes came from her goddess (Inazuma, daughter of Fafnir and Tetra) but these things don’t exactly come with an SSL certificate.

The future was the Demon’s Lantern, effectively the will o the wisp.  This suggests that she’ll find the blade, but the question is whether it will save the Sunset Shire, or doom it.

Glemmer, Chaotic Good Tiefling Charlatan. Level 2 Cleric of Trickery (Aspects: Clarion: hero of the ice, Secret Identities, Awkward entanglements, Who the hell am I?)

I should note that Glemmer’s player rolled insanely well for stats. one 13, everything else was 15+.  Tieflings are apparently badass.

Thankfully, there aren’t many of them, and they don’t get along very well. Compound this with being a priest of Ngaro (Child of Jack and Job, God of Ice and Shadow) – a god the tie flings mostly pray to only to avoid the ire of, and Glemmer had every reason to head towards the thaw. This was clinched when he received a vision that he presumes form his god (sound familiar) that told him that Placeholder must remain free.



When the past flipped up The Trumpet, it was one of those moments that are exactly why  I love the unexpected things that come from this sort of charge.  The Trumpet (which we’d previously seen with Kit’s heroism) was totally at odds with Glemmer as we had described him so far, so we kicked this around a bit.  It turns out Glemmer had done a great act of heroism in the past, slaying a Sleeper (albeit by accident) under his old name, Clarion. In fact, it was Clarion who Pel had “killed”.

The Present, with the Theatre inverted, was much more in line with what we had described, as  it touched upon the complex web of deception Glemmer was building, including three separate identities. It’s all tenuous, and in his merchant guise he is doing business with Theodorus. He also has discovered another Trickster priest in town, but has not discern their identity, and there is a cold war of mischief afoot.

Having the Liar come up for the future was pretty much exactly right. The question is, ultimately, whether Glemmer’s lies will overwhelm him.

Israfil, Neutral Good High Elf Hermit. Level 2 Paladin of the Thaw (Aspects: Bringer of the Storm, Placeholder hero, Life is but a dream, Left by my Lover)

Israfil has been dreaming for two thousand years. He was sealed in a high elf Watchtower. He expected to pass on to the Fae with the fountains of wine and beautiful gardens, but something went amiss.



The Wanderer, inverted meant that for the Past we focused on how he ended up int he Watchtower. Turns out, he wasn’t supposed to, but his lover had asked him to meet him there, and he got stuck. Maybe it was an accident, maybe his lover didn’t fancy the idea of skipping out on the wine and gardens in favor of millennia of duty.   Israfil was not a Paladin when he entered, but he was when he came out.  He doesn’t know if this sis a function of the Watchtower itself or if it’s related to the Thaw (his code is going to be the Green, as a manifestation of the Thaw). The player compared it to the Greatest American hero – Great power, no manual.


For the present, The Big Sky inverted was another blow against freedom, so we talked about what bound him.  It turns out he’s explicitly bound to the thaw, something he discovered when he tried to find his old lover and could not.  We talked a bit about his authority, and while no one (except maybe high elves) would recognize it, the natural world would.

For the future, the cyclone suggested that he would either reign order or destruction, or as the player summarized “Bringing the storm”



Starting Faces

I need to make sure these get names and faces, but we have some decent starting NPCs

  • Theodoros, the doctor/Spy
  • The Wood Elf Councillor and Father of the three
  • The Sister of the three, attuned to fire
  • Fire’s Cambion boyfriend
  • The dwarf marshal
  • The Executioner
  • The Unknown Trickster Priest
  • Israfil’s Lover

We got a few more when we did background connections, but at this point I am crazily tired, so that will have to be another post.



Chargen Notes for the Thaw

Doing chargen today, so just throwing up some notes.

The ice came north maybe 2000 years ago. Before that time, things were normal enough fantasy, largely dominated by a number of human cultures, regular D&D races, stuff liek that.  The Advancign ice changed all that, rolled over the bulk of “civilized” land, pushing them north to the edge of the desert and into a very narrow band of livable land. This lead to a lot of conflict over limited resources, and by the end there were only three major human cultues left (one of which being those who live north past the desert) with remnants of a few more.  As the ice receded, these human nations have aggressively expanded to fill the space.

For ease of use, we’re going to use real world culture as touchstones for the humans.  One will be roughly Byzantine, one is TBD but India and the Americas have been floated.  The cuture north of the desert may or may not enter into play, but in my mind they’re Mali.

Other peoples found solutions to the ice.  The Dwarves simply dug.  Some stayed close to the surface, but others dug deep,founding great cities in the warmth and light of the depths. The dwarves are doing ok. 

The Halflings found some way to shape the ice (or bargain with it, some say) and it formed great bubbles over their shires, turnign them into a combination of fortresses and arcologies. Culturally, the Halflings are going to be very cinematic-Japanese influenced, and yes that means halfling Samurai.

The elves split. The High Elves withdrew from the world save for a handful of watchtower. The Wood Elves adapted to the tundra and desert. Some elves walked out onto the ice and were changed by it. The elves do not speak of them.

Some humans apparently found life on the ice as well, but they have been changed by it. Blue of skin, with demonic features, they were the stuff of stories for centuries, but with the thaw it is beginning to appear that the tieflings have established a seriosu presence on the ice.

The thaw started about 50 years ago, and had proceded at a startling pace. Fast enough that stretches of land are still muddy barrens, and the very edge of the ice is a no mans land. The humans have expanded, the halflings are emerging, the elves are returning and the Dwarves are takign an interest in the surface again.  Treasures lost to the ice have emerged, but so have unexpected things, frozen elsewhere and pushed north to thaw. 

On the edge of the thaw is a town called Placeholder (a bureaucratic slip up that has stuck).  It is unclaimed, contested territory, and it woudl be of little note save for that fact that it is suspected that it is somewhere near the site of the city o [TO BE DETERMINED], the crown jewel of the old world.  Finding it and claiming it will be a triumph and, more important to the people of Place, will be an opportunity to strike it rich.  So the town has grown in fits and starts, and every year, the ice recedes a little more, people dig a little deeper and the town grows. And, of course, as it grows, so does foreign interest. No nation has a clear claim on Place, and nothing found yet has been worth pushing the issue, but they’re all watching very closely.

We have not explicitly decided what’s up with other races, though I’ll be shocked if we don’t see Warforged (whose origin will be a mystery). We’ve discussed the gods some (the original pantheon is based on the charactes from the Dungeon World game) but it (and the geneal role of magic) i still fuzzy.

Mechanical things I shoudl do:

1. More Warlock pacts

2. More Sorcerer options, because man, the PHB ones are way too little.