Thursday, April 25, 2013

Please Help This Priest!

This priest has faithfully served his parishes in Africa for years, and now he needs a truck to consider serving. All you need to do is donate a little bit, even if it's just a buck. Please help this guy out!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

GM, Know Thyself

Whenever you sit down to GM a game, you think about a few things, but do you ask the most obvious question: "What do I, as a player, want out of this game?" Because you're a player, Mr. GM! You're supposed to have fun. You are not beholden to the group for the type of fun you want to have. If anything, they're at your mercy, since you're the one who's directing the game. This isn't to say that you abuse this: it's a game, everyone needs to have agreement of some sort. But GM's sometimes forget they're players too. They just play a different role. 

What role is that? Well, your chief role is that of arbiter. You are the the representation of the other side of the imagined dream-space, the laws of physics, you represent adversity. All other roles are secondary to this one, because without this one the vast majority of games fall apart. Yes, there are GM-less games. If you're reading this article you're obviously not playing one of those games, so arbiter is your chief role. Everything else is secondary in running the game, but no less important. 

You'll notice that nowhere in the previous paragraph did I say that the GM made up the stories, that he put forward his own vision for a game, or even that he had anything to do with the story at all! But he does, doesn't he? Since the beginning of time the GM has something to do with guiding the game. We could go into why, but that's a bit beyond the scope and intent of the article. We're here to discuss how you want to be a part of the story your group will make. There are three basic extremes, each based upon the three things I'd talked about earlier. They're that of passive, active, and aggressive. 

Passive: The Passive Extreme is fun because it allows the GM to sit back and just let the players do their thing. They don't really want to effect the shared dream-space more than they absolutely have to. Think of a drop of water: it falls into another body of water. What happens? The drop of water falls, and the laws of physics take over. This type of GM usually just makes sure that that drop of water's effects take place, but nothing more. You might stick your head in and take care of things every once in a while, but for the most part the GM has fun enforcing the natural consequences of actions. Dungeon World is an RPG that sets this up the best. The GM just prepares the fronts, throws them at players, and watches what they do. He then applies consequences based upon the player's actions more than any agenda he's got. The weakness of a Passive Extreme is that they often don't come up with an overarching plot, making the game meander.

Active: You don't sit back,you stick your nose in. Fail that Climbing check? The bishop whom you hate more than anyone else is at the top, and he helps you up. Now you have to deal with him. The Active GM has an idea, he wants to get his point across, he has a vision. While he does make sure that the natural gaming world gets enforced, he's far more interested in throwing his own two cents in. Usually these people come up with incredible plots and characters and want their players to experience what they came up with. Burning Wheel is the quintessential Active Extreme game.  The weakness of the Active Extreme is that they are prone to rail-roading on the drop of a hat because they forget this isn't just their story, it's the everyone's. 

Aggressive: We all know those GMs, don't we? The dicks. The ones who love to beat up their players. The  GMs who, on failed checks, make the world go to hell in a hand-basket because they think it's fun. Yeah, that's not the type of GM I'm talking about. He's just a jerk, the perversion of this type. I'm talking about the GMs who openly tell you that they're out to get your characters. That your character is a piece in a wargame, and he is intent on winning. Notice that? He wants to win. He'll play by the rules (hopefully), and he's not a jerk, but you know he's out to get you. And that's fine, actually. As long as he's open about it, and the players are fine with the fact that this GM is so damn competitive that he wants to turn the story into an epic struggle in and of itself. Old-school Dungeons and Dragons is usually what we think of, but a more clear example is Burning Empires. The GM is out to win, and he is bound by the rules of the game, same as the players. Granted, the rules grant him different abilities, but that doesn't change the fact that the GM's open and stated goal is to kick the crap out of the players. 

Now, the important thing to remember is that these are extremes. One is not likely to always want the same thing out of a different game. I know GMs who were playing it passive for a while all of a sudden become very aggressive. But can you "fit" into one of these extremes? Of course you do, otherwise everyone would be the same and it would be boring. So think about what you want out of the game, and how you get enjoyment out of it. It'll help you not only pick a game that'll help out your style, but it'll signal to the other players what you're in the mood for. And clear communication is always helpful.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dan Slott's a Genius: The Superior Spider-Man vs. Urich's Hobgoblin

In this corner is Otto Octavius, aka Peter Parker, aka The Superior Spider-Man. He started off not all that great, as Dr. Octopus, and went through a variety of evil ambitions, from trying to fry the planet to taking over New York City. His last scheme was to rob Peter Parker of his identity, born of his dumb luck and Peter's better nature. His intention? Do whatever he wants in Peter's body. Peter, of course, stepped in, and gave Otto a sense of responsibility for his actions. Since then Otto has gone on to rid the city of more crime than Peter ever did, and kill a mad-man who was believed to be beyond all redemption, as well as cutting Mary-Jane loose for good so that way she'll no longer be in any danger. OK, so he went and became a bit big-brother-esque and brutalized a bunch of bullies, but no one's perfect, right? Right!

A normal guy who accidentally stumbled onto the Green Goblin's lair, Phil Urich became a hero until his equipment broke. Unable to fix it, he wandered from place to place, and became a part of The Front Line. Disillusioned, he found one of Osborn's hideouts and went there to impress Norah. He accidentally bumped into Dan Kingsley in The Hobgoblin's uniform and killed him in a moment of crisis. Fueled by his refound power, Urich has gone on to become the Kingpin's right-hand man, and finally got the girl of his dreams. He completely hates his responsibilities, but fulfills them because of his power! I smell a dark mirror, akin to the Amazing Spider-Man and the Green Goblin? Does the Hobgoblin show up in... Superior Spider-Man 14? According to Dan Slott, he will. The seeds for this confrontation were sown at the very beginning of the Big Time run. By the time we get to Superior 14 we'll have two very well-developed characters on a collision course. I just... wow. I'm amazed. This is truly a superior pair-up.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

3 Things I Learned from Revenge of the Countess of Fire

So I was just thinking about GMing, and how each game teaches you a little something. Here's three things I picked up from Countess of Fire:

1. NPCs need Beliefs, Instincts, and Traits too. For awhile I had difficulty figuring out what the Countess of Fire wanted, until I started writing mini goals for each session and reading them out to the players. These Beliefs should be explosive enough to make the player want to write Beliefs that contradict what you've written.Make the conflict boil right there in the Beliefs-writing stage, and then make your NPCs go after them with all the fiery passion of Hell. If you did your job right you've made a bunch of Beliefs that you think would be interesting for a bad guy to chase after, and your players made Beliefs they want the heroes to chase after, and these two sides will combine in a roaring conflagration.

When in doubt, make it personal, offensive, and downright evil to the player. You can't go wrong there.

2. When in doubt kick the players. Hard. At every last second you, the GM, are the opposition. It's your job to make the players sweat and bleed for their Beliefs. Is there smoke? Make everyone get +1 Ob for it. Is the your target next to a tree and you're swinging a sword at him? Give him a +1 ob so that way he doesn't hit the tree. Make it difficult, make it hard, because if you don't they, the players, won't get everything they can outta the system.

3. Make their failures trigger Beliefs and Instincts. "Oh, did you fail that Orienteering roll? *Evil chuckle* Your evil twin brother that you hate so much, but totally outmatches you, is now here. And he wants to 'talk'". Does your character have an Instinct about never accepting an insult? Make sure you insult him, and then sit back and see what happens. Even the cautionary Instincts, like daggers in boots and such, can get mileage, cause you can take away their gear and have them not notice it as consequences of the failure. Oh, and just cause one player failed doesn't mean you can't jump on another character's Beliefs and Instincts instead. In fact, it might be better that way, because then the other guy will wanna help out!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Some Thoughts (Rants, Really) on the Gun Control Debate

Obama's got some thoughts on what the Republicans are doing to stop his gun control stuff, and I've got some thoughts on Obama's thoughts. Now, I realize that this is a bit of a hot-button issue. I don't care, it's my blog, and until I'm labelled as an extremist nut (Oh wait, technically I am) and get my blog taken from me, I'm gonna speak my mind.

Now, here's some of the facts I've learned over the years. The numbers are pretty easy to find, they're not hidden. Chicago, the city with some of the most restrictive gun control laws of any city, also happens to have the one of the highest murder counts in the country.States where there aren't conceal-carry licenses have much higher murder rates. However, States with conceal-carry licenses have drastically lower murder rates except around their airports, where guns are banned. The fact that so many killings happen around schools, where guns are outlawed, sorta seems to confirm the theory conservatives have been pushing this whole time: guns help save lives more than they take. I know it's a bit simplified down, but honestly it's a pretty simple problem. I'm quoting numbers that are not difficult to find, especially since the advent of the Facebook meme.

Now, as the first link says, Obama's saying that the Republicans keep throwing out political stunts to stop his bills on limiting guns. Even if you ignore any of the stuff that I just said, the hypocrisy of the situation is something awful. Obama signed his executive orders with the children from these shootings surrounding him. He doesn't quote any facts, he just references these children over and over again. He says that he's willing to go around Congress to get what he wants, and the list of his political maneuverings goes on and on. Who's actually pulling the political stunts that are designed to tug at our heartstrings, even if not necessarily our brains? Yeah, that would be Obama. I'm not understanding where he gets off saying this sorta thing, to be honest. Pointing fingers when there's three coming back at you is just a stupid move.

The REAL 13th Age Review

This, my friends, is my DnD.

13th Age is a game written by the lead designers of 3rd Edition and 4th Edition, who decided to make their "love letter" to DnD. They took the flexibility of 3rd, combined it with the balance of 4th, and threw in some cool elements from Burning Wheel and a few other indy RPGs. The result is a light and fun game that sets the standard for d20 games across the board. Yes, I do mean the standard.

The vast majority of the game is a good mish-mash of 3rd and 4th edition, which I'm not going to cover here. Enough typing has been done on both editions, and better writing then I can do here. You get the at-wills, encounter, and daily abilities of 4th edition, wrapped in a 3rd edition package where not everyone gets the same thing, but is balanced against each other and given a difference emphasis. I've played about six sessions, with a variety of classes, and didn't see any obvious over-powered-ness between spellcasters and non-spellcasters. What I did see was that spellcasters were usually better at taking out groups, but non-spellcasters owned at one-on-one combat.

There's one stand-out combat mechanic: the escalation die. At round two of every combat, the GM brings out a giant d6 and sets it to 1, putting it up by one every round thereafter. This number is added to all the players' attack rolls. It's assumed that the players are pushing as hard as they can in each round: if they start to run away, the escalation die decreases in response. Most monsters don't add this escalation die to their attack rolls, but when they do it's a terrifying thing to behold. When the players realize that the dragon is getting as accurate as they are, there's a real sort of fear that's a bit... um... invigorating. And it's because these monsters are the exception, not the rule, that makes the escalation die so good. I can't recommend stealing this mechanic enough. It is tension in a bottle for boss fights, and general awesomeness for the players on a normal fight.

The mechanics of the combat aren't really where the game stands out, however. It's the storytelling mechanics that really matter, and 13th Age has two. The first storytelling element is The One Unique Thing. The player gets to choose a story element to his character that is wholly unique to him. It can be anything, anything at all, and that's the beauty of that. These things can vary from "I was saved by the Great Gold Wyrm from the curse of a witch and am now immune to fire as a consequence" to "I'm an undead half-angel whose mind hasn't been changed by becoming undead". If your player picks something that has a mechanical consequence you have to give up some of your class talents (a bunch of features you can choose a few from) to do it. This helps the GM guide the story in a direction you, the player, want.

The other storytelling element is the backgrounds/skills system. The players get eight points that they get to spread acrost as many backgrounds as they so wish. Again, these backgrounds can be anything you so wish, and the more detailed the better. Whenever you make a skill roll you choose a stat (standard 6) and one applicable background, adding that background's bonus to your check. It's an incredibly flexible system, one that reminds me of DnDN's not-so-inspired system of backgrounds. That's actually a comparison that I'll get back to in a bit.

Both of these mechanics define the setting for the GM, allowing him to set up a story that flows from these setting elements. I can't begin to say how cool this is, since the party is effectively defining the setting and what sorta seeds should be followed up on. I suggest to all who are playing this game to pick backgrounds that interest you, the player: it'll mean that the story can involve things that interest you. So with both those mechanics in place the story can revolve around whatever the players wish. This puts the GM in the more directorial chair, akin to Burning Wheel, a spot that I think is best for the GM, period.

Speaking of GMs, the GMing section is awesome. It is the toolbox of 4th edition perfected. Gone is the crappy math, and the need to define encounters ahead of time. The advice for using the story mechanics is a bit sparse, but this is something that the authors acknowledge openly and so I can hardly fault them since they don't attempt to conceal the weakness of their advice. Heck, I'll probably put up some advice pretty soon.

Earlier in the review I brought up that some elements of the game reminded me of DnDNext, but in the sense that all the things that DnDN tries to do, 13th Age does. I know that DnDN is in playtest mode, but given the stuff they haven't changed, I think it's a fair thing to say that this is the next edition of DnD. You keep the high action and systems of all the previous editions of DnD with actual story elements that allow you to put the story around your players without the railroading of previous editions. It's an amalgamation of what made earlier editions of DnD great, while adding it's own thing. That's what a new edition is supposed to be, right?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Revenge of the Countess of Fire Chapter Eight

These are the notes from my Burning Wheel game Revenge of the Countess of Fire. I figured that now that we're at a certain point I'll put up the play report. Check out the tag "Revenge of the Countess of Fire" for more posts! BTW, this session was recorded by the players of Claire Romar and Elenor Grinslow.

The body that crawls out of the well looks like it's been mummified, and it freaks everyone out on a level that's hard to communicate. Everyone stands, absolutely shocked. The Countess of Fire gapes at the body of her father, who turns to her. "It's OK, daddy's home" he says. The Countess throws up, and the body chides him for not giving him a ready welcome. He turns to Elenor, and his nonverbals change to that of her father. He talks to her as if he is her father. All his mannerisms are so right they're wrong. The body thanks everyone for helping him, saying that he couldn't have gotten this far without any of them, with all their messed up desires. He looks at his body, and says that it isn't so bad, a bit weaker than his first, but still good enough for his purposes.

Kincaid finally snaps out of his fear, and says that this is definitely The One in the Deep. The One in the Deep says that he wants everyone to follow him down the well. And that he will show everyone what he's up to, and that they will understand that he's not all bad. After understanding what he's up to they can make up their minds.

Kincaid stands up to him, saying that the elves and wolves would never accept whatever it is The One in the Deep has planned, which only makes The One in the Deep chuckle. Kincaid swings his sword at him and it's caught in The One in the Deep's bare hand! He grins at Kincaid, and tells him that if his body dies, he'll just take over another body. The broken sword and stone gave him all the conscious and unconscious brain patterns he'll need to take over any body he wants.  He releases the sword, and dares Kincaid to kill the body.

Thieran Markov has been dead for awhile, killed by a horde of orcs led by the Countess of Fire. And ever since he's died his father (who's now 40 feet tall) has chased him, relentlessly. Finally Thieran turns and asks why his father is chasing him, to which his father replies "You ran! Of course I chased you!" Thieran turns round, and pulls out his sword. His father swings his sword, a forty foot long monstrosity, cutting Thieran in half. Thieran comes to in a forest, and he hears the rumbling of his father's footsteps in the distance...

Claire finally snaps out of her fear, and prays for a miracle from God. She asks, begs, God to intercede and save everyone from The One in the Deep. Blood gushes out of her hands, feet, and side, and she screeches in pain. She hears a voice telling her to touch Kincaid, and she does. Once her blood touches Kincaid he comes to a horrible realization: The One in the Deep was originally an elf! This is the final straw-Kincaid can take no more. He starts to wander off, full of the realization that his race created the ultimate evil. He turns and charges The One in the Deep with his sword, and once again he's blocked. The One in the Deep asks, once again, if they'll go into the well with him.

On the other side of the afterlife, Thieran faces his father once again and is once again struck down. He comes back to, and starts to put the pieces together. Maybe what he's facing isn't his father, but himself. Maybe, just maybe, he's what's in the way. And with that his father vanishes, as does the forest. The sky is bright, the grass is green but painful, and there's a road. He gets up and follows the road.

The One in the Deep extends his hand to The Hungry One, and offers, once again, to take him to see the plan. The Hungry One walks toward The One in the Deep, and finds that he can walk on air. Claire follows. But Kincaid doesn't. Elenor walks up to him and asks why he isn't moving. Kincaid  tells her that The One in the Deep was an elf once. How could any one creature become so horrible, do so many terrible things? Elenor responds that the only way anyone can get that horrible is if they choose to be that way. But Kincaid can choose to be different. Kincaid can choose to hope, and that means going with The One in the Deep until a weakness presents himself. Elenor tells Kincaid that he needs to hope until something presents itself. Kincaid nods, but says that he doesn't know why they bother: The One in the Deep will drag everyone down with him. But he does get up, and walk towards the well. The Countess gets up, and wearily stands next to Kincaid. 

And down they go. 

They all descend for 3 hours, losing light after fifteen minutes. There's a shrieking sound from below, and it gets progressively louder. When asked, The One in the Deep informs them that the orcs have build been building him a machine that'll let him get to the center of the planet. They ask what he's looking for, and he asks if they've ever heard of the myth of the flame. The flame is at the center of the planet, and it is the flame of life itself. All the goodness of everyone rests on this one flame, and if he can just merge with this flame he, who believes he is the collective evil of everyone. If it works the way he thinks it does, he'll become the good and evil of everyone, connecting them into a super-entity that will defy all individuality. No one will be able to hurt each other anymore, because they will be each other. So therefore no one will have to die, and no one will have to encounter God anymore: God will become worse than unknown: he'll be useless. Kincaid realizes that The One in the Deep doesn't even feel the grief inherent in each elf anymore, that he's denied everything so he doesn't have to merge with God when he should have passed on.

They all enter the ship, and descend into the magma that is the core. It's unbearably hot, and then all of a sudden they hear a crunching noise. The One in the Deep opens up the hull, and water spills in; it's breathable Everyone descends into the water, and Claire sees a young boy walking towards them. It's the same boy from the vision."All you have to do is hold him still" the boy says to him in her mind.

Thieran's been following the road for awhile, when he happens upon Honey, who's being attacked by Thieran's father as well. Thieran manages to kill his father, but he reappears and starts attacking Honey again.  Thieran tries to get Honey's attention, so he stabs her with his knife. She comes to for a second, and Thieran convinces her that she's torturing herself. He points to the road, and asks if she'll follow him down the road. She says that she will. They come to a lake, and there's a light in the lake. They go into the lake, and they see a large flame.

Back on the other side, The One in the Deep puts his hand in, and starts screaming. The flame is consuming him, he was wrong! Kincaid takes his sword and rams it into The One in the Deep's back, and he starts to fall in. Thieran sees a pair of hands coming through the flame. He also sees Elenor and Thieran, and he shouts out to Elenor. Elenor shouts out to Thieran to pull The One in the Deep in. Everyone, even The Countess and Honey, jumps in to help. The One in the Deep begins to shapeshift into a bunch of different forms, including that of a dragon, and finally returns to that of an elf. He pulls Kincaid in with him, who finds that the flames are soothing to his grief. He says to The One in the Deep: "You need to confront your grief". The One in the Deep replies "**** you", and his body is destroyed, and he is dissipated. Elenor, The Hungry One, Claire, and Marion find themselves back up at the top of the well.

Kincaid finds himself in Eternity now, facing Thieran and Honey. He hugs Honey tightly, and looks up. He finds this new world soothing. He informs Thieran that he's got an eternity of card games. Thieran groans, and they turn to the road and follow it into the light.

Back in the world, Marion starts to move aimlessly. Claire tries to reassure her that she lived for a reason and did help destroy all the evil in the world. Elenor and The Hungry One persuade her she has good in her, and that she shouldn't kill herself like she intends. Marion says that she won't kill herself, but that she won't go back with them. She'll go and do what good she can in the world awhile, and promises that they will all see her again.


Elenor goes back home, marries Luke, and convinces the country to give up slavery peaceably. She is regarded as a hero amongst the spiders, and lives on to a ripe old age with Luke.

The Hungry One becomes a vigilante in a neighboring barony, prowling the streets to devour evil. He is known as a doer of good and, while not everyone accepts him, the people he protects know he is good and protect and love him.

Claire tries to go back to the Church, but they don't accept her. Disillusioned, she runs into her old unit of knights, who accept her anyway. She continues to be a champion of justice, even if the Church doesn't accept her visions, which she never receives again.

A city is built over the well, so that no one can ever go into or come out of it ever again. A statue is put directly over the site, commemorating Kincaid and Honey.

The Last Scene

When Elenor gets back she finds Luke in the chapel, and tells him that she didn't kill Marion because Marion saw the good she could do, and she renounced the evil she had done. He accepts her decision, and tells her that she did what he wouldn't have been able to do, and that he admired that. He says that the marriage is schedule, and that he's getting the annulment well under way. After hearing about Kincaid, he smiles and says "Someone around should find rest around here, but not us." Elenor smiles at Luke.

"No, not yet." And they walk out of the chapel.

[Here, at the end of the notes, are two quotes from me. I include them because they thought it was worthwhile to note them:

"All you need to do is push..."
"Failure and success don't matter, try"]

Revenge of the Countess of Fire Chapter Seven

These are the notes from my Burning Wheel game Revenge of the Countess of Fire. I figured that now that we're at a certain point I'll put up the play report. Check out the tag "Revenge of the Countess of Fire" for more posts!

Elenor starts talking to the guy she brought up with her at the end of Chapter Five. He shouts "Look! to the left!" at a familiar girl with one arm running by. Hope has a sword floating by her stump, screaming that she can't seem to let get the sword to go away. This gives the man the opportunity to bolt, and he takes it. Elenor gives chase, but the man is remarkably fast for his size, and easily outpaces her, even in the fullplate.  Elenor bumps into Kincade and The Hungry One, and they fill her in on Claire's condition. They bring Claire to a doctor to help Claire recover faster, but Kincade gets into an argument with the doctor about who's the better healer. Kincade eventually just takes over for the doctor. 

Elenor tells them about the one-armed girl with the sword. The Hungry One immediately volunteers to go find her, and Elenor says she'll tag along. When asked why he cared so much about the girl, The Hungry One intentionally dodges the question, and eventually Elenor just drops it. As they go outside, a girl shouts "It's a wolf!" and the crowd gets whipped up into a frenzy. Kincade pops out of nowhere and calms the crowd down, enough for a little child to come up and hug The Hungry One's leg! The Hungry One, bashful and a bit irritated, growls at the child and tries to shake him off, scaring the kid. Elenor and Kincaid find The Hungry One's discomfort hilarious, particularly when the mother of the child comes to take him away and The Hungry One informs the mother that he won't eat the kid... this time. And with that all hopes for finding the girl vanish, as she has too much of a head start and they still have to look after Claire. 

They go back to see Claire, and she informs them of the vision that she had. Luke overhears it and barges in, overwhelmed with grief at the accusations thrown at his wife. They try to find The Countess, only to find that she's gone. Claire suggests taking Luke to the dungeon, so he can see what his wife has been up to. 

They take him down to the catacombs, and Kincade fills Luke in on what his wife was up to. Luke sits down on the ground, and with tears in his eyes informs them all that if they want to do something, now is the time to do it, before Luke does something he'll regret. Elenor tries to comfort him, but Luke gives her a dagger that the Countess had given him for an anniversary present and tells her to kill the Countess with it. As Elenor walks away Luke informs her that the two of them married could make for a strong alliances, and their baronies would be better off for it. When asked why he's talking about the future like this, Luke states that since the past and the present are currently destroyed for him all he has left is the future. Elenor agrees to the alliance, and leaves with Kincaid and The Hunry One. 

Kincade explains to the group that he knows of the well that's shown in Claire's vision, and that he's had dealings with The One in the Deep before he got the Black Stone. When asked what The One in the Deep is, Kincade only says that he wished that he knew. No one knows, but he's been there for as long he can remember. But it's time to know what this thing is. It'll take about a month to get to the well.

They get a cart for Claire, who will be healed up by the time they get to the mountain. Luke sees them off, and Elenor tells Luke he better be there when she returns. He nods and wishes them luck. 

Most of the way is uneventful, but during the trip The Hungry One smells human blood and wants to "go hunting". Elenor points out the nearby human tracks with bloody in them, and asks if he was going to hunt humans. The Hungry One tells her no, but that he'll allow her to come along. They leave Kincaid with Claire, who's just started walking again, and off they go. Following the tracks, they come to the edge of a forest and decide to go in and become surrounded by wolves.  

In the midst of this circle they find a whole bunch of children, who are being guarded by Hope, who still has the mysterious Black Sword. Only now the Black Sword is being held by a mysterious energy arm that's appearing to come out of the stump where her arm used to be. She shrieks when she sees the Hungry One. She tells everyone to get back, and fire begins shooting out of the sword at the wolves, Claire, and The Hungry One, which catches some of the trees on fire. 

Meanwhile, back at the road, Claire is found by some members of her order, who are looking for a bunch of homocidal wolves. Kincaid laughs and informs them that all they need is to go into the forest and they'll find what they're looking for. Claire decides to join them, while Kincade derisively sits out. 

Hope has gone ballistic in the meantime, shooting fire balls nilly-willy at anything not the children that moves. The Hungry One tries to tell her that he's only here to help protect the children, but Hope isn't buying that, and tells The Hungry One that she can't trust him because of he had killed her parents. Claire and the knights arrive. Claire tries to soothe Hope, and it seems to work for a second. But she snaps and goes even crazier than ever. Claire finally recognizes the sword. Elenor climbs a tree for a vantage point, and as The Hungry One runs up to Hope, she throws a knife past Hope and distracts her. Claire comes in at that point, and starts trading blows with her. Hope's strength has been greatly increased by the sword, so she's able to fight with Claire quite easily. But the magical arm detaches from Hope and stabs her with her own sword, before flying off!

Hope is now lying on the ground, dying. The Hungry One goes up to her, promising that he will make sure no one else has to suffer and be made that weak on his watch ever again. They go back to Kincaid, who leads them to the well. The Countess of Fire is already there, and she's already started the ritual. She electrifies some blood in a vial and dumps it on the sword (which has just flown up to her). They crack open. Up out of the well crawls the body of The Eaten One, the Countess of Fire's daughter!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Revenge of the Countess of Fire Chapter Six

These are the notes from my Burning Wheel game Revenge of the Countess of Fire. I figured that now that we're at a certain point I'll put up the play report. Check out the tag "Revenge of the Countess of Fire" for more posts!

There's plenty of blood on the dark walls of the dungeon, and the stench is horrifying. The Hungry One first hears soft cries and screams of many people in the cells that are in the next room. There are a ton of maimed prisoners The Hungry One finds in one of the cages Hope, the last member of the family who had imprisoned him. The Hungry One tries to kill her, but Claire intervenes and challenges him to a Duel of Wits.

Claire: You can't kill  Hope for something she did in the past
The Hungry One: Yes I can, and I will.

The Hungry One loses, but gets a compromise. The player pretty much reneged on this, however. The original compromise was that Hope would stand trial for her "crimes", but Kincaid took her aside and told her to get the hell out of town. He gives her some money and to find the Grinslow guards to help break the other prisoners out. She accepted, and ran away.

As Kincaid, The Hungry One, and Claire progress through the next room, they hear horrific screams and the pounding of an anvil. In the next room they find a large , spiked, and spinning metal wheel with Jarl on it. Jarl's pain makes electricity, which makes the wheel turn faster. Kincaid and The Hungry One both dart for Jarl, both wanting to kill him. They both set him on fire, not even bothering to get him off the wheel. Marion, The Countess of Fire, comes out and puts the fire out.  She asks why they're here, stating that she's here to complete her revenge. She tells Kincaid that he had killed her father, The Eaten One, fifty years ago. The Countess of Fire informs Kincaid she wants the stone that he has. Kincaid asks The One in the Deep for help in  keeping the stone from the Countess, and find The One in the Deep is silent.

The Countess reveals that she now has Jarl's lightning powers, and uses them to electrocute Kincaid and The Hungry One in an attempt to get the stone from her. Claire calls upon God and takes the lightning on herself and almost dies in the process. Kincaid tries to bargain for Claire's life, offering The Countess the Stone in exchange.

The One in the Deep agrees to this.

Kincaid tells The Countess that she owes him one for granting such a huge favor to her. She replies that she'll be at The Well, and she wants them to have front row seats. "Yes, I will destroy all the Evil in the world, and all it took-was the life of... my son..." Kincaid replies that it's her son that's the hero, not her. She glares at him.

Returning to the surface Kincaid commands the Grinslow guards to pick up the bodies and wishes the nobility would just get the hell out of time. He sings the Song of Soothing to Claire, narrowly reviving her. The guards who go down to get the bodies run into the Countess of Fire, and she slaughters them all.

Claire, after falling back asleep, receives a vision. A boy comes to her, telling her to get up and come with him. He takes her to a deep well in a mountain, telling her this is where the Countess of Fire's father was killed fifty years ago. The boy tells her he was present when the Countess wavered in her resolve for revenge. She loved him, but in her time of need he wasn't there for her. Because of his role in her damnation he is fated to throw himself into this well every day until she is killed. Claire asks if there is any other way. The boy informs her that he was sent from God to tell her this, and Claire acknowledges that her faith won't waver in the matter. The boy explains that The Countess's plan won't work, and will only release The One in the Deep.

The Countess of Fire needs to die.

Revenge of the Countess of Fire Chapter Five

These are the notes from my Burning Wheel game Revenge of the Countess of Fire. I figured that now that we're at a certain point I'll put up the play report. Check out the tag "Revenge of the Countess of Fire" for more posts!

Four months pass. In this time:

  • Kincaid has gone with The Hungry One out into the world. Kincaid has raised up revolutions all over the place over the slavery issue, causing trouble everywhere. He has tried to master The One in the Deep, and has failed.
  • Elenor and Claire, along with Luke and Marion, have called a council of nobles to discuss the slavery issue. So far no actual progress has been made.
  • Thieran vanished three months ago, and hasn't been heard from.
Four months later...

Kincaid and The Hungry One have finally returned to the Markov Barony. The very next day the Thomas Markov, the only child of Thomas and Marion Markov, is found murdered by Claire Romar. Claire examined the scene and ascertained that the cut was so clean it couldn't have been a human knife that made the cut.  The neck was held so that blood sprayed out all over the wall. Obviously someone did it with clear intent to cause as much carnage as possible, and wasn't human.

Luke said he was only a boy, talking about an empty bird's nest the other day... Claire vows to find the murderer. Marion comes in and, according to Elenor, is shocked, sad, happy, and excited, and quickly walks away. She tries reaching out to Elenor, but all of a sudden pulls away. Elenor, suspicious but wanting to help, follows Marion. Marion enters a glade in a forest and falls to her knees, asking why it was necessary for her son to die. She consoles herself, saying that it will all be alright when "He's" dead.

Claire, suspecting Kincaid, goes over to arrest him. She talks to The Hungry One and Kincaid, but she finds that there's no evidence linking Kincaid to the murder. She enlists Kincaid and The Hungry One in the investigation. 

The Hungry One goes out to investigate, and finds Elenor and they start investigating together. They go back to the glade where Elenor had seen Marion, and find a man sitting there, weeping and covered in blood. The Hungry One questions the man, but realizes that the man is lying when he says that he didn't murder anyone.  They take him back to Markov, and find out that the man is normally a sleepwalker. Only this time he murdered his wife. When he went in and out of the town Claire had felt a terrible evil presence. 

That's when everyone hears screams coming from the town outside. People come running outside, blood on their hands, screaming that they didn't do it, Asking for guidance from God, Claire hears "Under the city". There are catacombs in the city, and everyone heads for them. They brush past the guard to the catacombs since Claire is of sufficient rank in the Church hiearcy (the catacombs are guarded by the Church). Coming to one of the main burial sites, and they find a secret entrance. Elenor tossed a stone down the hall, and someone comes out in the fullplate of the Church. He recognizes Claire, although Claire does not recognize him. Elenor notices that the man doesn't know how to wear the armor he's wearing, and certainly isn't wielding the sword well. He asks to join them, but upon questioning he tries to run away. Kincaid pops out of nowhere, however, and stabs him in his sword arm. The man drops his arm and charges the group. The Hungry One blocks him, and knocks him over. Upon interrogation he admits he was hired to help with the string of murders, and asks to be let go. Kincaid knocks him out, and Elenor volunteers to take him to the surface.

The rest turn to face the dark hallway...

Hindsight/Nostalgia Review: 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons

I've tried to write this review three or four times now, but always find that I've quit and started over within a few minutes.  But that's nothing normal, I've found that the things that have impacted me the most I've had a lot of trouble writing about, which is more than a little ironic. Most things that truly impacted me I bear deep within in a silence that only occasionally gets lifted.  So it is with 4th edition. It's a game that I loved, hated, scorned, and ultimately can't help but respect. I suppose I better actually start a review, before I get too whiny. I know it's too late, but I can pretend, right?

Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition is the most unique edition of the game so far, and I mean that in the best way possible. The designers took a lot of the conventions of the game that hadn't been codified and did so. They made up three distinctions of ability use: at-will, encounter, and daily. It's a really interesting system that I found really helped me sort out decisions on the fly. If I just needed to throw something at the enemy that wasn't crucial but was more of filler, I'd select an At-Will. If the situation was more serious I usually picked an Encounter, and if it got really serious I'd come swinging out the gates with a Daily power. Unlike most people the obvious system didn't bother me at all. It made sense that the rules were a tad bit artificial. I mean, we're making up an artificial world, right?

But I like Burning Wheel, what do I know?

Anyway, so each character got a variety of these powers which, when combined with all your class features and feats, made you a unique character. The character would always function with at least base-line capacity, which made it easy to use the game as an introduction point to other beginners, since they really didn't have to worry about being hosed. It worked out pretty well.

The best part was the DMing section. The book taught you how to make an actually balanced encounter, and that was amazing! For the first time in DnD history they said "this is a fair fight". And they were spot on, for the most part. There were a few hiccups, like solos, but the most wonderful thing I found about 4th was how stinking easy it was to modify. The fact that they had a good baseline hidden in there made modifications so simple I could do it on the fly. While it took a little while, I got to the point with the system where I could make up entire fights in seconds, throwing out terrain and monsters with gleeful abandon, using the rules as a guide for my insanity and sado-masochism. And it was fun!

The game isn't perfect, however. Gah, not by a long shot. The first problem is ironically enough it's greatest advantage: the math. It wasn't right in certain spots, and that made things very tricky. The other problem was the half-level boost, which literally made no sense. It's non-sensical inflation at it's best since the American economy. Skill challenges were another problem: they just never truly worked. It wasn't that they were too artificial (again, Burning Wheel does artificial SO well it becomes organic) but that they were the railroad's wet-dream come true. Which was too bad, really. They were an interesting mechanic.  The last problem, of course, was monster damage and solo monsters. These were just... wrong... almost all the way through. I mean, the fact that you could modify this stuff so easily was amazing, because all it takes is the Terror Rule (Marty's idea: all solos start with a +5 to all attacks, damage, and defenses. The bonus decreases by 1 per round) and all of a sudden solos are BAMF'ers who don't take crap from nobody, but the fact that they never thought to implement this stuff is a bit mind-boggling, and that it took them 5 years to get it right.

Oh, I forgot about the last problem: the game was 20 levels too large. The PCs got so powerful that 11-20th levels are progressively easier until you hit epic tier, at which point you own everything and anything that could possibly be thrown at you. So really, you were paying 120 bucks for a game that didn't really work for the last 2/3's!  That's a lot of worts to have in a game.

Even with all these worts, I find I still love 4th quite a bit, enough to give almost all my books to little sister Munchkin, who is extremely excited to go find players to torture. I kept a few of the books for myself, however, and I still go through them from time to time. The nostalgia's pretty strong with this game. I mean, this is the game I actually cut my teeth on, and that I first learned what I truly liked and didn't like about gaming. That's pretty high praise for a game. 4th deserves it.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Revenge of the Countess of Fire Chapter Four

These are the notes from my Burning Wheel game Revenge of the Countess of Fire. I figured that now that we're at a certain point I'll put up the play report. Check out the tag "Revenge of the Countess of Fire" for more posts! From this chapter until further notice the logger of events is the player of Claire Romar, who makes a much better recorder than the intrepid GM. I've made a few edits here and there because she was writing as play progressed, but beyond that it's her script.

Flashback: A girl stands weeping at a well set in a mountain. A chant begins from the crowd. A man steps forward, her father. She asks why, and he says that duty requires debts to be repaid, and this was a large debt to a powerful one to save the kingdom. She begs him not to go, and tries to hold on, but her uncle holds her back. Someone asks why she was brought and her father replies that he didn't have the heart to say no. He turns, comforts his little one, saying he is so sorry her mama and papa can't be there for her in the days to come. He goes to the well as the drums and chant increases to a fever pitch. 

The girl's wailing continues past his descent. 

As she's taken away she breaks away to kneel and whispers something inaudible to all but her uncle, who reprimands her. She turns to face him, face red from turns and coldly says: "I do. If a kingdom must protect itself by killing a man like my father, that world should burn."

Elenor Grinslow is seen walking the grounds early in the morning. A lady clothed in deep red rides up to her. She and her husband are now Count Luke and Countess Marion Markov and she wishes to to have their six year old son marry Elenor  to form an alliance.  Elenor refuses, knowing full well Marion (who went with her to school, oddly enough) is asking mockingly. She also notices that Marion's clothes aren't muddy, even though she rode all the way from the Markov barony.  The intrepid heroes of chapter three arrive.

Elenor greets them, seeing some she knows, some she does, and all cloaked in blood. She sees Luke, and assumes by his stance that he's a lord. The others look beaten, and Thieran is unconscious from Jarl's torturing. Elenor finds out that Thieran is still alive, but barely. He's taken away to the healers. 

Luke Markov introduces himself. Elenor tells him that his wife has just gone inside and is upstairs, and the Baron goes upstairs. Kincaid notices that Luke isn't in black and is made aware that Luke had no regard for his thug of an uncle whatsoever. Kincaid fills Elenor in. The Hungry One tries to reveal his intentions with Luke and the spiders, but is laughed off. 

Claire introduces herself to Elenor, informing Elenor that she's a seer of the Church. Claire had traveled a long distance because she had received a vision to find Elenor and help her. Their introduction is cut short by Baron Luke's return.

The Baron comes with his Baroness to discuss the spider issue with Elenor. He demands the slaves of the other baronies be returned to them, since they're about ready to go to war over this theft. A Duel of Wits ensues:

Luke's terms: Return the spiders to their rightful owners
Elenor: I will do no such thing.

Luke narrowly won, but a major compromise was owed. We'll get to that in a minute.

Saddened by Elenor's stubbornness, Luke says that he is on their side, and will do whatever he can to abolish slavery. But for today the spiders need to be returned. Kincaid remarks slyly that Luke is just like his uncle, but Elenor rebuffs him.

At that moment spider screams can be heard from the compound where the spiders were stored. Kincaid and Elenor recognize the cries of some of the spiders as spiders of the Undernest, who are there to kidnap the males and take them back to their nests for consumption! By the time they got to the back 20 of the spiders had already been killed.

Kincaid asks the Undernest spiders why they attacked, and they explain that they were coming for their males. They had made a pact with the barons that allowed them to come and get males whenever they wished. Upon seeing Claire the spider screeches and lunges at her, only to be soundly defeated by Claire. Kincaid then knocked the spider unconscious. 

The other Undernest spiders ran off with some of the males successfully, although Kincaid made sure they didn't get'em all.

Luke and Elenor set to work, trying to help all the battered Grinslow soldiers. After a bit of pushing they convince Marion to help out as well. Kincaid helps out with songs and meditations. Luke realizes that none of the spiders who remain can actually do work, and that returning them is pointless. Elenor points out that if Luke genuinely cares for the spiders now is the time to show it. Luke calls one of his servants over, and commands that all his fine clothes and other fine goods and sell them so he can make recompense the other baronies three times over for their loss. He tells Elenor that he wants to help her end slavery. When Elenor asks about Marion, he whistfully says she will work with them, that she has a path she must walk.

Luke goes over to The Hungry One and praises him for the valor he showed in battle, that it helped him decide to overturn slavery because of his nobility. An arrow grazes Elenor, badly cutting her cheek. She sees rustling in the trees, and Luke attempts to shoot the assassin. Elenor sees him and sends The Hungry One after him. The assassin purposefully fell on his own dagger, however. Claire runs up and says a prayer for the man's health, and with Elenor they stabilize him however briefly. Elenor questions him. He'se a man from an assassin's guild in Gilden (about 5 weeks away). The plan dictated that he needed  to die so he wouldn't reveal what was going on. He was only supposed to graze Elenor, she wasn't supposed to die by his hand. He then dies. 

Back at the estate Kincaid informs Luke that his wife is a liar, and after a short conversation with the angry Luke turns to go. The Hungry One intercepts him, however, and asks what his plan is. Kincaid wishes to talk to The One in the Deep to make a bargain with him. Claire and Elenor realize that Kincaid is up to no good, and try to stop him from leaving. Kincaid reveals the stone, and explains why he needs to go to them. A Duel of Wits ensued.

Kincaid: It is perfectly acceptable for an individual to leave as they choose.
Elenor: Not if they are a hazard and under the influence of evil!

Kincaid wins, but a regular compromise is owed. The Hungry One will come with him, and he will come back in a few months.

Down in the dungeon...

Jarl is cut, tortured, bleeding. Marion comes down to him. "Ah, they bled you enough, and now that I have the final piece (pulling out a small vial of Elenor's blood) your ability to control your own electricity will be mine. A servant enters, and informs her that they have found The Black Stone. She says preparations must be made to get the stone the next time Kincaid reappears.

Revenge of the Countess of Fire Chapter Three

These are the notes from my Burning Wheel game Revenge of the Countess of Fire. I figured that now that we're at a certain point I'll put up the play report. Check out the tag "Revenge of the Countess of Fire" for more posts!

  • Thieran contacts Kincaid mentally and informs him of their capture. Kincaid set out to rescue them, sneaking up to the camp. 
  • We now introduce Claire Romar, a militar seer of the Church, who's heading in the direction of the orcs, coincidentally enough! She sees the flames, and goes to check it out. But just as she steps on a stick and attracts attention...
  • Thieran and The Hungry One get free of their bons.
  • The Hungry One defeats a troll! General kicking of butt ensues.
  • Thieran and Luke bump into each other, and try to catch up. Kincaid commands Thieran to kill Luke, but Thieran is unsuccessful, killing Luke's horse instead.
  • Kincaid tries to kill Luke himself, but is hindered by Claire and The Hungry One. He is disarmed by Thieran.
  • Kincaid challenged Luke to a Duel of Wits
    • Kincaid's terms: Your uncle deserved to die, let me go. 
    • Luke's terms: You killed my uncle, and will be treated as the murderer that you are. 
  • Kincaid won, but only narrowly. A major compromise was owed: Kincaid would not be brought in for murder, but must help Luke negotiate with Elenor. Turns out that the other baronies were getting ready to go to war over the theft of the spiders, and Luke wanted to avert that. Kincaid accepted the terms, thus earning his player a deed's point. 
  • On the way back to the castle The Hungry One was cornered by Jarl, who asked in his own backwards way for help. The Hungry One turned him down.
  • Jarl runs away in a rage, and kidnaps Thieran in revenge for driving him away from the barony. The others come to the rescue, and Jarl runs, vanishing in a puff of smoke. Everyone continued on, confused as to what happened to Jarl.
  • Jarl appears in a prison, face to face with Luke's wife, the Countess of Fire...

Revenge of the Countess of Fire Chapter Two

These are the notes from my Burning Wheel game Revenge of the Countess of Fire. I figured that now that we're at a certain point I'll put up the play report. Check out the tag "Revenge of the Countess of Fire" for more posts!

  • Kincaid snuck into Aldwyn Markov's castle, and killed him while he was hunched over something bright. A stone fell into Kincaid's hands. The One in the Deep began speaking to him. Kincaid became his thrall... and is now connected to Thieran.
  • The Hungry One asked Elenor for the spider mentioned in Chapter One, and Elenor refuses him. She feels that something's off.
  • Jarl is not happy with this, and he tortures The Hungry One instead of the spider.
  • Elenor notices that The Hungry One has burns from Jarl's electrocution torture, and asks him about it. A Duel of Wits ensues:
    • Elenor's terms: Trust me over Jarl, and tell me where you got those burns.
    • The Hungry One's stakes: Leave me alone. Drop it. 
  • Elenor wins  by a lot, and gets a clean win. The Hungry One tells her about everything Jarl is up to, included his plans to oust Elenor as Baroness and take over as Baron Grinslow. 
  • Jarl comes to attack The Hungry One later that night, but Elenor and Thieran drive him off. Jarl flees the barony in disgrace. 
  • Kincaid starts for Elenor's barony after setting fire to Castle Markov. Luke Markov, Aldwyn's nephew, becomes the new baron. 
  • Thieran and The Hungry One resolve to track the orcs and get captured. As they're being trussed up for the feast that's to occur in three days time in honor of The Void, Thieran realizes that a new moon will be coming soon...

Revenge of the Countess of Fire, Chapter One

This is the chronicle of the first Burning Wheel game I've run that I feel comfortable with. If you want to see the other parts, please click on the tag at the bottom! As a quick side-note, there's some other stuff below "Background Info" that also stars these characters. What you're reading now is a soft reboot of the story that we'd decided upon after a few unsuccessful sessions.

  • Kincaid, Honey, The Hungry One, and Thieran are bringing the spiders they rescued from the surrounding baronies to Elenor's barony for protection. On the way they're intercepted by Baron Aldwyn Markov, Thieran's father. Aldwyn's brought a whole contingent of orcs with him. They're led by an enormous man in black who bears a black greatsword. Battle ensues.
  • The Hungry One runs from the Man in Black, refusing to help Thieran.
  • Thieran kills the Man in Black, but not before the stranger kills Honey, head of the spider-resistance movement and Kincaid's protege. 
  • Thieran discovers that the Man in Black was Baron Grinslow, Elenor's father. He also discovers that, upon picking up Grinslow's sword, he is now under the mind-control of his father Aldwyn, and may not relinquish the sword. Thieran is ordered to spy on Elenor and Kincaid's operation. 
  • The rest of the orcs are driven off by Kincaid's angry elven songs. 
  • Kincaid attempts to name Elenor elf-friend for having Honey's body buried, but his heart is so broken he can't sing anymore. He decides to get revenge, and leaves to kill Aldwyn
  • Thieran gets in trouble with Elenor for having her former father's sword. She tries to drag the truth out of Thieran and, while unsuccessful, realizes that something's wrong with him.
  • Meanwhile, Jarl tells The Hungry One to get him a spider from Elenor so he can satisfy his dark urges on someone as pitiful as him. The Hungry One goes and intimidates a spider so that when they come to ask him if he wants to be Jarl's "servant" he'll say yes. 
  • Right after that Thieran bumps into The Hungry One, and informs him that his act of cowardice was not unnoticed, and that Thieran's watching him...

Revenge of the Countess of Fire: Background Info

These are the notes from my Burning Wheel game Revenge of the Countess of Fire,the last session of which is this Sunday. I figured that now that we're at a certain point I'll put up the play report. Check out the tag "Revenge of the Countess of Fire" for more posts!

Fifty years ago, a boy was raised by wolves in the far away Iron Forest. They lived there for many years until the dwarves harvested the metal trees for their smithing. The dwarves were not kind; they took the entirety of the forest and killed the wolves who opposed them. The boy fled with the survivors and gathered the surrounding packs together for a counterstrike. But it wasn't enough, the dwarves were too powerful for them. So the boy led his pack of wolves to conquer tribes of orcs and trolls, and even got the giant spiders who dealt in deeper and darker forests involved. With these resources the boy destroyed the dwarven kingdom that had destroyed his home.

This did not sit well with the human kingdom of Ardent, who were enthusiastic customers of the dwarves. They declared war on the boy.

They lost.

So did the elves.

All the civilized world was enraged. They called the boy The Demon, The Destroyer, and many other things. But the name that stuck was The Vermin Lord. He was a tactical genius, and perfectly in tune with his monstrous brethren. And he started to pillage and destroy the known world.

Desperate, the civilized races gathered together and formed The Alliance of Free Races. While autonomous the three races formed a single government, with a temporary dictator in place, called the Eaten One. The Eaten One was selected by the enigmatic entity only known as The One in the Deep, who he was to be sacrificed to at the end of his term. The Eaten One strode out with the Federated Armies and smashed the Vermin Lord and his army after a bloody fifteen year conflict. It was not a question of tactics, but of superior numbers, which The Eaten One used to great effect. Thirteen years into the conflict he captured and publicly executed The Vermin Lord.

The savage races were brought into line fairly quickly after that. The orcs were scattered throughout Alliance lands, with the wolves mostly sticking with them. The trolls fled back to the mountains, the vast majority of spiders were captured and forced into slavery. The Alliance strengthened its internal bonds, convinced they were untouchable. And for all intents and purposes, they are.

From anything that's mortal, anyway.

Initial Characters

Elenor Grinslow: Daughter of Baron Grinslow, she ran away from home at around the age of 15, and worked as a fence of stolen objects. While out in the world she came to the realization that the enslavement of the race of spiders was evil and must be stopped. With the reported death of her father, she returned to become Baronness Grinslow so that she can aid the slaves however she can.

Prince Kincaid: One of the few elven princes to disapprove of the election of the Eaten One, Kincaid became a wanderer after the War of the Vermin. He stumbled upon a growing revolution of slave spiders, and took their leader Honey under his wing as his protege. They both recently came into contact with Baronness Grinslow, and have made arrangements to take shelter under her banner along with 50 or so spiders they have freed from slavery in the surrounding baronies.

The Hungry One: The Hungry One is a great wolf, captured and caged by a well-meaning (but naive) family. The Hungry One finally broke out and killed all but the last child, who vanished. In looking for her, he bumped into Jarl Grinslow, Elenor's half-brother, who had the ability to manipulate his own bio-electricity forced upon him by Baron Grinslow. The two of them determined to help the spider resistance so that no one should suffer the way they did ever again.

Thieran Markov: Son of Baron Markov, Thieran ran away from home when he was turned into a were-tiger because of his father's human supremacist leanings. He has been made Kincaid's bodyguard, and helped rescue some spiders from his father's clutches.