Sunday, August 23, 2009

Personalities of the Rainy City -- Part VIII (Gen Con Edition!)

Another miscellany of rogues, scoundrels, miscreants, and lowlifes of the rainy city.

Bartholomew the Bald: Curate Clerk in the wizard's parliament. Balding and meek, utterly harmless. A trustworthy man, if only because he is far too timid to be devious, and of course is entirely lacking in cunning. Yes, it is odd that he always seems to know everyone's comings and goings, their appointments and travels. But even the dull need a hobby. No one would ever take notice of his comings and goings, nor find it remarkable if he were to leave his parliament office an hour early one rainy afternoon.
The Lodge of the White Wizard: Some say the White Wizard is a demigod, some an angel. Some say a mortal who ascended to immortality! Whispered rumors claim that he will one day save the world, returning light to the rainy city. Others say he is little more than the pipe dream of besotted necromancers. Whatever the truth, this much is certain: the White Wizard could well save or destroy the city, for initiates of his lodge can be found in administrative and clerical positions at all levels of government.
The Ransom -- A Ship Returning from the Outer Swells: Word came to the parliament some short time ago -- tantalizing rumors of a treasure beyond imagining to be found among the crashing waves of the outer storm where even pirates and salvage crews fear to sail. Rumors so great that even the wizard's parliament was moved to quick and decisive action. The Ransom, the fastest ship of the fleet, was dispatched immediately! And this afternoon, The Ransom returns...
Fargun Rasstead: Professional liberator of treasures, and sharper of good reputation. Always cool, her look of dull confusion lulls the unwary into underestimating her. When she speaks, she always questions, probing for information that few would willingly reveal, hiding her investigations in queries which sound stumbling, banal, even obvious. Masterful!
Crassius the Crass: A whispered legend within accounting circles, the subject of much rumor and hearsay. His very presence makes any social gathering awkward. His name alone is enough to draw disapproving glances and uncomfortable fidgeting from his colleagues. Abacumancer and calculator extraordinaire, he has often been heard to remark, "This just doesn't f _ _ king add up!"
Vangrid of the Obscuring Eye: Widely recognized as the master of the arts of obfuscation and perplexity, this enchanter would be even more widely recognized if only anyone knew what he looked like. Only the rains parting around him attest to his presence as he passes in the street. Some go so far as to say that he is no man at all, but in fact a ghost or specter of some sort.
Vengus Ult: His apothecary shop at the edge of the wharves must be doing exceedingly well. So many customers pass through its doors, from the highest levels of government to the lowliest stevedores of the docks! A remarkable thing for a man who does not sell true alchemies, but only tinctures and unguents (which must be of the highest order). Recent rumors that he has taken up necromancy and the conjuring of spirits are baseless slanders!
Jaelin the Charmer: Swashbuckler enchanter, the only elf to stride among mankind in the rainy city. Always well-liked, he is a fashion trend-setter. Purple capes are sure to become all the rage now that he flies over the city wearing one.
Hesperia: Hesperia's occupation is uncertain. Shipping agent, perhaps? Shipwright? Saleswoman in the ship businesses? Well, something to do with ships. Why should she be meeting with a gang of ruffians and scofflaws? This at least is obvious: if you aren't willing to work with dubious characters, you are bound to have a short career in the business world of the rainy city.
Marko Durban
: Professional rebel outlaw and odd jobs man. Frequent visitor to Hesperia's unassuming little ship at the edge of the docks, he now has a whole gang of outlaws at his behest.
Neezur Killroy: Member of Marko Durban's crew. In his shining plate mail, and with his silent grim countenance, he is obviously Mr. Durban's bodyguard and hired killer.
Celendra: Member of Marko Durban's crew. Lithe and quick, it is said that Celendra may be one of the many aliases of the rogue Fargun Rasstead. Perhaps even Rasstead's true identity? As always with this duplicitous scoundrel, nothing can be said for certain. Why she is working with Marko Durban's crew is a mystery. Unless perhaps she is the crew's secret mastermind, and Marko Durban is little more than a frontman.
Geezur: Member of Celendra's crew. Unassuming in appearance, bald and wrinkled, his appearance readily gives him away: he is obviously a cracksman and locksmith of the highest skill.
Ozur: The fifth member of Celendra's gang, introduced by Mr. Durban as Geezur's brother. Yet no one can describe him! Some say he was only Geezur's shadow. Others say he is a thief of such skill that he is only seen from the side, in the shadows, or looking away, no matter where you are standing when you look at him.
Elenia the Smuggler: A trustworthy transporter of sensitive goods, she is seeing remarkably brisk business these days. It is rumored that she is now doing business with even more unsavory sorts than is usual, a fact well-attested by the presence of Celendra's gang and some very unsavory stevedores near her ship recently.
Scaev: Sailor, mercenary marine, and occasional were-shark. In the face of a very friendly greeting from Jaelin the Charmer, Scaev revealed his villainy by assaulting this otherwise very well-liked gentleman. It is a mystery what Jaelin could possibly have done to deserve such poor treatment.
A Dozen Drunken Sailors: Overcome by a touch of mid-afternoon fatigue, they fell to sleeping upon the docks shortly after Scaev charged. Fights on the docks are commonplace. Naps less so. A new religious ritual, perhaps? Drugs? Weird magics?
Five Stevedores: Big, rough looking stevedores carrying what look like two bodies wrapped in carpets. They have a delivery of... flowers... for a Mr. Marko Durban, at this address.
Plague Victims in the Regalia of The Ransom: Plague ravaged corpses washed up against the boatman's landing of the Guild District. They wear uniforms of the sailors of The Ransom, and one even wears the tricorn of the First Mate. The plague has come to town. This is not the treasure that was promised.
Middle Class Partiers out for a Night on the Town: They huddle together beneath their umbrellas, looking politely away from the plague-ridden corpses near the landing. Their conversation remains unperturbed.
Quintas: Beneath the roof of his fine boat sit often the dignitaries of town. Tonight is no different! The Sergeant-at-Arms himself rides out to his nightly patrol.
The Sergeant-at-Arms of Parliament: A man of such natural discernment and acuity that he appears to do little more than repose himself comfortably with a sputtering pipe. Yet if anything is amiss, he would notice. His actions are decisive! In the face of obvious evidence of plague, he orders The Ransom quarantined. Savior of the city once again.
Spirits of the Dead: First, The Ransom is embraced by a chill fog. Then two pale apparitions arise from the sea. Is it any wonder that the sailors choose to spend no more time upon its deck?
Superstitious Sailors: These men have braved the outer swells, risking life and limb to take a ship where ships dare not sail! Their courage is unquestioned. But they were not hired to cavort with haunts and spirits.
Dominian the Proscriptor: A huge bellied wizard in a huge flowing robe, his mouth turned down, his right eyebrow cocked dubiously. He is here to investigate the ship, as the right and proper representative of the parliament. Do not doubt his power! Do as he orders, or he will strike you down with the Gurgling Death! You know he can do it! Because of that time, with the guy. Do you dare test him?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ah, Gen Con...

Gen Con was great fun. It quickly ramped up to "too busy to post updates with the phone," and the post con work blitz has kept me occupied since. So here are a few quick thoughts and memories.

First things first: I had a blast playing a Rainy City game with Crazyred of D&D Doodle and his gang of ruffians on Friday night. As soon as time opens up in my schedule, I'll have a "personalities of the rainy city post" about the session.

Also had fun playing in Zachary Houghton of RPG Blog II's "Smash n' Grab at Kobold Caverns" game Saturday morning. The pre-gen characters had exactly the right amount of characterization -- a catchy concept, a note about why they might be after the gold, and clever assignment of equipment. I drew the town sheriff, and it was a piece of cake to hit the ground running with him. PatrickWR of RPG Diehard took home the most treasure as the town's halfling baker.

Got in a Pathfinder game Saturday afternoon. I think I may have more to say about this in the future, but one thing really leapt out at me during the session. The structure of play really wasn't all that different from the morning game from the player's seat. Musing on this.

Didn't manage to fit in a D&D 4 game, even though it probably should have been easy. I've been meaning to try it out, but I just didn't find a spot for it.

Now that I've had some time to look everything over, I think I can say my favorite products that I bought at the con are Rhialto's Book of Marvels (for The Dying Earth RPG), 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars, and How to Host a Dungeon. I also picked up a great selection of GURPS books to use with The Fantasy Trip (e.g., "GURPS Bestiary," "GURPS Fantasy Bestiary," "GURPS Low Tech," and "GURPS Arabian Nights") and grabbed the complete 3 volume "Priest's Spell Compendium" from the AD&D 2e era. These books will all get plenty of use.

In general, the best thing about the con is probably the people. I like nerds. Sure, there are some folks with real problems, including poor hygiene, that I'm not willing to ignore. But for the most part, Gen Con just strikes me as a place full of enthusiasm. The attendees are enthusiastic. The costumes are crazy cool, even though they're not always very good. (Yes, I even like bad costumes.) The exhibitors are usually great to meet, even though they're working their asses off the whole con and sleeping very little. The artists are especially easy to hang out and talk to. I can't wait to go next year. I have a bunch of new games I'm positively excited about playing, and I met a bunch of people I'm looking forward to seeing again.

I call that a success.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gen Con Day One

It's Midnight already?

This humble blog won't be your best source of Gen Con news -- there are better places for that. What I can do instead is just jot down a few (idiocyncratic) notes.

Pathfinder seems to be doing well. Also, Jason Buhlman (lead designer on it) seems to be genuinely witty. He sold me on picking it up, and I had not planned on doing that.

GURPS Man-to-Man is nowhere to be found. I should have listened to Timeshadows and bought it from the internet instead. I'll remedy that as soon as I get back.

Troll and Toad is still the worst place to go for out of print games. Big booth, sure. Highest prices for OOP products at the con.

Gaming Paper is cool. It's inexpensive, simple (even obvious, in retrospect), and it is well suited to my half-assed, fly by the seat of my pants style of GMing. Also, I like keeping maps as artifacts of the campaign. Dry erase boards and battle mats don't do that. The Gaming Paper guys said they'll start offering hexpaper in Sept. Perfect.

Gaming book I bought today that I expect will get the most use? Rhialto's Book of Marvels for The Dying Earth rpg. The chapter on wizard's manses and the one on wizard's conclaves are both ripe for plundering for my rainy city campaign.

Speaking of which -- I hereby offer to run the rainy city as a pick up game here at the con at any time.

What else? The orc stomp, of course! Started the day with a run. It ended up being too short (about 2.5 miles), but it was nice to meet the other 12 people at Gen Con who are willing to go for an 8:00 AM run :-) Also, each runner got a pair of dice engraved with the event name. Little touches like that make all the difference.

Major disappointment so far would have to be that so many people I know aren't here this year. I'm missing you, folks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Liveblogging Gen Con the old fashioned way...

Tests indicate that the SMS blog update method leaves something to be desired. Fortunately, thanks to a handy web browser in my phone, the blog can go on during Gen Con! In between action and adventure, I'll see about stopping by here to share one attendee's perspective on the con.

Personalities of the Rainy City -- Part VII

Characters from last Sunday's session.
  • Vengus Ult: Alchemist-Philosopher with a humble apothecary shop. Of late, friends and customers alike have noted a developing interest in enchanted blades, a topic to which he increasingly often returns when conversation lags.
  • Elenia the Smuggler: Broker and transporter of sundry goods. Elenia likes to get to know new people in the neighborhood. If you are looking for work, she can recommend a crew that meets at an unassuming apothecary shop at at the western edge of the docks. They are as trustworthy as any others you will find in the rainy city.
  • Vespasia: Scion of a powerful thieves' guild in a desert world, newly arrived refugee in the rainy city. Slight of stature and also of intellect, her elite training carries her through even the most dangerous of missions. Especially keen-eyed when it comes to spotting traps, her talents are already improving her lot in life. From an abandoned warehouse down by the wharves, her successes have already moved her into an upscale apartment in the west end of the guild district. Now she turns her eye toward Embassy Row...
  • Garmoud "The Bloody Handed": Garmoud is a wizard. Anyone can see that! His wizard's staff is stout and arcane. His wand a strange and uncanny instrument. His tall hat is adorned with tiny stars at its point, growing larger as they "fall" to the brim, a pattern repeated on his robes. Yes, Garmoud is a wizard. Some say that his hats oft resemble those worn by the wizard Vassili. Perhaps they buy from the same hatter.
  • Jaelin the Charmer: The epitome of the Swashbuckler-Enchanter. His jacket and feather-topped swashbuckler's hat are both a regal purple. His fine plate armor is studded with brilliant gems. He has been seen flying into the sky from the doorstep of an unassuming apothecary shop at the edge of the docks. Is this the same immortal hero who did battle with the Whirling Blade of Smallside Lane some weeks ago? If so, surely he will soon take his place among the high wizards of the Tower Cliffs.
  • Zaam the Alacritous: Little is known of the archmage Zaam's magics and powers. He shows uncharacteristic discretion for a wizard. Mystery surrounds him.
  • Jack, Zaam's Apprentice: Since the unfortunate incident with the magic sword, he has kept mostly to his cleaning duties in the old wizard Zaam's tower.
  • A Gang of Wharf Rats: Somehow dirty in spite of the rain, these street urchins are more than happy to smash a few windows at the behest of a pretty lady, coin or no coin. They can even be counted to do it within an hour or so of the appointed time!
  • Lucius Sol: Retired adventurer, owner of a set of shops that cater to explorers and adventurers. He keeps a close eye on his shops, visiting them daily, and living in quarters just above his warehouse. When he is away, he protects his stock with devious and deadly traps.
  • The Warder and Ledger Keeper of Lucius Sol's Warehouse: Business-like, a hard worker. He keeps an eye on the what goes in and what comes out of the warehouse. But perhaps you're right, he is a bit hungry, and he could use a drink to warm him from the chill and the damp. He'll only be a minute, if you'd be good enough to watch the warehouse for him. You seem trustworthy.
  • A Many Eyed Floating Monstrosity, its Eyestalks Swivelling about in the Darkness: Few guardians are stranger than this weird creature in Lucius Sol's warehouse apartment. And a dangerous thing it is to engage! What other eldritch things has Sol dragged up from the arcane depths and into the city?
  • Thirteen Mid-Ranking Alchemists: They have made binding contracts, signed in blood, to serve Lucius Sol's best interests at Guild Conclaves. But why? This remains a mystery. Their names are Irvin Popp, Albertus Unger, Winsome Cornelius, Harvard Dore (diligent in his studies but mediocre in his results), Malleus Woldt, Onslow Eversore, Angela Seasbury, Harmonius Crane, Geraldine Crank, Pollonius Zinc, Sophia Spring, Bullard Orius, and Inzur Popp.
  • Circensus: Young, almost too young to be a full alchemist, yet he is fully certified by the guild. You can trust Circensus's wares. And you do wish to support local businesses, don't you?
  • Workman, boarding up one of Sol's shops: Stout, with a bristling moustache and a hammer. He's just one of many workmen out boarding up Sol's shops. The Alchemist's Guild finally cracked down on his potion-selling. It is amazing that it took them this long.
  • Schwiller, the Boatman: He'll be happy to tie up his boat to a tower of the sunken school of magic. He's heard tell the outer ring is a good place to enter. The central tower lies lower, beneath the waves, and no one who has entered there has ever returned. He does know the drop point, though, if you're committed to living dangerously.
  • A Giant Fish, with Sharp Teeth, a Black Back, and a White Underbelly: Swimming languidly nearly within the gates of the school. It doesn't seem to be taking any notice of you.
  • An Earth Elemental Summoned forth by Powerful Magics: Lay your bets! A creature of pure elemental earth, torn fresh from the very stones of the castle? Or a giant toothy fish with a bored attitude?
  • A Grey Cloaked Elf Waiting at the Top of the Stairs: Metal glints beneath his cloak. His sword gleams in the light from your torch. His companions all fell in battle with living spells! These spells wander the tower, freed from rotting pages, seeking their own alien ends. He wishes only to leave this cursed place.
  • Two Emaciated Students of the Great School of Magic: Gaunt, pale, and rotting. These two students would like to politely invite you to a tour of the school, if you'll only be so kind as to open the door...

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Superhero Necromancer Goes to Gen Con

I'm heading out for Gen Con tomorrow. Maybe I'll see you there?

I have a few event tickets booked. I might not actually go to all these. We'll see.

  • Thursday, 8 AM: Orc Stomp (5-10K fun run)
  • Thursday, 10-12 AM: Small World (probably I'll end up skipping this)
  • Thursday, 2-4 PM: Eberron seminar (don't really know much about Eberron)
  • Friday, 10 AM-2 PM: Welcome to the Fontinium Mines of Zeta Major (Traveller)
  • Friday, 2 PM-6 PM: Tomb of the Iron God (Swords & Wizardry)
  • Saturday, 10-12 AM: Smash n' Grab at Kobold Caverns (Microlite74)
  • Saturday, 1-2:30 PM: GM's Jam
In between, you'll find me doing any or all of the following things, in some order:
  • Walking the dealer hall, checking out games, looking for deals, playing demos
  • Eating food, preferably meat
  • Getting in a Pathfinder game
  • Playing games at Games on Demand
  • Meeting people
  • Drinking beer and whisky
  • LARPing?
  • Playing games at night at the Embassy Suites
  • Attending the costume competition
  • Coffee
  • Attending seminars -- I never go to these, but I think I'd like to do that more this year.
  • Sleeping?
I'll also be ready to run a game or two, if the opportunity presents itself. Probably I'll come with a copy of D&D (B/X), a copy of The Fantasy Trip, and a copy of Street Fighter. Anything I ran for D&D or TFT would probably be a "Rainy City" game.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Personalities of the Rainy City -- Part VI

Vengus Ult: His training, alchemical. His business, medicinal. His impression, philosophical! This is truly a natural philosopher of some quality, as his fine new goggles clearly reflect. He will now require a long tailored jacket of sealskin, adorned with seven clasps, one of gold, one of silver, one of copper, one of iron, one of tin, one of cinnabar, and one of lead.
Jaelin the Charmer: Magician-Hero and occasional Enchanter-Swashbuckler. Unlike humans, he was raised among the trees. He has learned how to fall.
The Adepts of the Deluge: The members of this sect disdain umbrellas and hats and other objects of delusion and self-deception, instead walking with naked head beneath the falling rain. The truly devout enter the streets fully exposed to the storm. You may choose to cover your head with a wide-brimmed cap, or hide beneath a canopy. But you cannot escape the truth!
Thevin Goon: Refugee and thief. Muttering senselessly near the door of the Salted Leech, he comports himself with an air of affected certitude in spite of his dazed and agitated stupor.
The Bartender at the Salted Leech: His finest liqueur of the day is the blackberry brandy. Oh, and the gentleman hiding in the shadows over there has asked that he bring you over a glass.
Mad Dog Konstantinos: Sump gang lord and killer. His murderous rage about the loss of the steam baths has mostly passed into bitter resignation. He has other business these days that occupies his time. The curtained booth near the door?
Musca the Censor: A dishevelled old man in a tattered uniform of vaguely officious shape. "What is your topic of conversation?" "The weather." "Approved!" "And What is the topic of your conversation?" "Vassili's outburst some weeks ago in the inn." "Scurrilous gossip and basest rumormongery! Disapproved! The fine will be one piece of gold."
Regulas: Harrowed and worried, dark circles under his eyes, huddled in the dark recesses of the Salted Leech. Beneath his outer coat, an alchemist's robe with the membership patch torn off. Vengus, if you will hide him, he will give you the Silver Distellembic he left in your care. He does not need it.
Quintas: His fine boat has a roof! Ah, Jaelin, good friend. Please, board the boat and get yourself under the roof. He insists! Don't mind the other guests. He's due to drop them off at the next pier.
The Cap Killer of the Mids: This mysterious murderer has struck again, slaying a young wizard, leaving his pointy hat in a pool of blood. A cautious man would do well not to wear his best hat on his nighttime walks. The genteel man of taste has no time for such cowardice, of course.
Circensus the Apprentice: Alchemist's apprentice, tormented and bullied by his master Gantos Vox. A week ago he found a strange rough stone that granted him the ability to call forth a giant of elemental earth. His revenge was sweet, as the "gnome" (the alchemico-scientific term) shattered the townhouse of Gantos Vox, breaking it down to its very foundations. Now Circensus has opened an alchemist's shop of his own in the western trades district. He is guild approved!
Gantos Vox: Master alchemist. He has moved into private quarters in the guild hall to rest and recuperate from shock. He has not been seen outside the hall since the incident.
Mr. Durban: Professional odd-job man. Has a selection of fine books for your perusal. Might you be interested in purchasing Frostarem's famously thorough Treatise on the Amorphous Hob? Excellent.
Mr. Killroy: Associate to Mr. Durban. A man of few words. Yet his demeanor speaks volumes.
Petticroft Grue: The old patriarch of the stately Family Grue. Master of spiritualism and the phantasmagorical. He will gladly buy your Tretise on the Amorphous Hob, which is clearly a work of scientific value. He has no interest in Vornif's Portentous Economy, a work of perilous pseudo-scholarship.
Qusa Bunt: Purveyor of fine garments in the storied bazaar. He will be happy to sell you a fine bonnet and viel today, and given time, yes, he can procure the alchemical coat you require. Do stop by his manse for tea some time. It is best if you call ahead.
The Lady Belladonna: The medusa who has emerged from the loneliness of undercity cryptoboratories to take up residence in Vassili's abandoned manse. With her newly acquired bonnet and veil, the Lady Belladonna will soon be ready to hold a house warming party in her new home. All the finest families of the Mids will be invited.
Zamdor: Channel boatman with an eyepatch. Happy to navigate his way through the ramshackle boats of the inner harbor to drop you off in the midst of the wharves near Winstead Creaky Shack, as requested.
Elenia the Smuggler: Her ship is moored near Winstead Creaky Shack. She's sorry to inform you that the Pentacular Job is too dangerous right now. A crew went in and botched the job and Pentacular has raised his security. She'll be happy to help you hide your friend, though, for a reasonable fee.
The Bartender at The Long Lamprey: "Scaev? Not around lately. Works this job and that job. Hasn't been in lately."
A Rough-Looking Warrior at The Long Lamprey, sipping from a tall thin bottle: "Nice goggles. You got any drugs?"
The Bartender at The Drink: "Scaev? Yeah, he's in here sometimes."
The Bartender at The Deadly Pudding: "Scaev? Sure, marine. Seen 'im. Not lately."
The Bartender at The Cucumber: "Oh, that salvage crew is due back in a day or two. Scaev should be with 'em."
Scaev: Sailor, marine, freelance bodyguard, mercenary, and pirate. A dangerous man, he makes the other sailors nervous because it is rumored that he can swim. That's tempting fate, that is. It is said he pulled a magic sword out of a wreck that washed up in the docks some weeks ago. If you cross him, he will kill you. And then he will eat you.
A Customer of Vengus's, with a Pressing Query: Just odd luck that you'd run into what must be one of your better customers, Vengus. The glint of silver beneath his cloak suggests a customer of quality and means. Do you have the medicines he ordered? He'll be by to pick them up at a later time.
The Boldest of Robbers, an Enchanter and a Swashbuckler, Villain and Hero: A powerful enchanter and swashbuckler, clad in shining plate armor, a red cloak, and weaving powerful sorceries. He can put a crowd of a dozen people to sleep with a whisper and fly away like lightning into the storm after robbing them all blind. He gives the gold to the poorest of the poor in the Sump, it is said, and he protects even the Mids from the horror of the Whirling Blade. Some say he was killed in the sky in a flying melee with the famed whirling blade. Others say this is not possible -- for he is surely immortal. Either way, Scaev would like to have a word with him about his missing sword...
A Sump Tree Sprite: "Oh hey Boss, I didn't know you could fly. Hey, wait up!"
Windsor Bolo: Friend to Vengus Ult, he has a job that would perfectly suit the talents of Scaev. It is a mystery why he did not appear at the appointed time at the Salted Leech. A tall, slim man, with a rheumy eye, always running, we don't know why he doesn't wear a patch over it. One gold earring. A skinny horseshoe mustache so small it sneaks up on you when you first meet him.
A Poison Frog: Really it isn't that poisonous. It's only a weak poison. Vengus would pay well if you'd just pick it up and bring it back to his apothecary shop for him.
Piets Schwiller, Boatman: Double time for double pay again, sir? Certainly!
The Whirling Blade of Smallside Lane: A fiend of wind and shimmering death. It slays indiscriminately, strikes unpredictably, and casts even enchanters down from the skies. Who will stop it? Who can?