My good blogger buddy, Brynvalk, is hosting a theme once more! This time around, it’s “Tabletop Tales“. If you wanna know more, please hop over to the page in the link and help support the theme! For more on RPG Blog Carnival, please go here! Despite the slight break in theme from Gaslamp Fantasy/Gothic Horror/Weird Western, my content will continue during the next week. Who knows? Maybe I’ll make another blog carnival post that’s also a themed post for here. Some kinda lore related post or world building that ties into the theme of stories in the tabletop realm. I may be truly something out there, but I have a few fun ideas here and there!
In the meantime, please indulge a mad bard as he recants tales of wonder, woe and weeeeiiiiiiirrrrrddd stuff! Let me share with you stories of high adventure! (cue Conan the Barbarian theme)
Masks of the Archfey –
Brynvalk actually hosted this game! As the name implies, it was heavy on a faerie theme. The mischief, merriment and mania of the fair-folk manifested throughout the world as we went on a quest to obtain all of the eponymous masks of the archfey. The ever noble Prince of Summer proclaims that doing so will not only stop the pandemonium among the sylvan folk, but help in another problem in the long run… a rift between space allowing a primal evil to enter this world. (Fortunately, it’s quarantined to one island that’s seemingly forever encased by wizards.)
As for me, I play more gonzo ideas. Keeping with the sylvan theme, I was a kitsune bard that went under the alias of “pew-pew”. He lost his original name, was heavily deranged and lived life as a scavenger and a bandit for a while. This borderline feral fool was driven by alchemy, as well as addicted to his own concoctions! From glow-in-the-dark drool to a mohawk hairdo that always stuck up no matter the form; this Fantasy-Mad-Max raider was a blast to play! He’s also part of the reason for the horrid void at the edge of the world, not that he remembers. The origins of this horrible void was from two proud empires trying to claim the same resource rich island. The locals, rehearsed in various magics, tried to contact outsider help. The powers of the void responded and unleashed absolute horror upon the land. A cabal of mages took to sealing the land off, as many soldiers and islanders alike tried to escape, few succeeded. In fact, one of his compatriots in the party, Kiltric, was a soldier in the rival nation’s army that he fought. Both have been haunted by this throughout the campaign, which will probably be addressed in a sequel.
From secret magical market places and auction houses (where I cheated my way to get money for the team) to the demiplane of a Santa Claus stand-in to the actual kingdom of the archfey themselves, we’ve seen our fair share of mystical and mysterious locations. In those realms of wonder, we battled (and bound) a fiend who enslaved a selkie, helped the REAL Prince of Summer return to his court (and stop an imposter), free a ghostly ship crew from their wretched curse and discover the deliciousness of flumph pies. All in all, an adventure in whimsical worlds and inter-dimensional intrigue.
Our mission became more or more hectic over time. At first, it was a paid job by a powerful faerie being to keep the masks away from his associates. Things began to unravel, as we found a blink dog captured by a hag. It certainly knew something strange. We saw more lackeys of the various courts. Below ground, in a desert, amidst city carnivals. No matter the place, they were interested in the fact that we were interested. Even the places corrupted by the void became aware of our mission, throwing the secret out. However, there was still one secret, the blink dog. This whole time, we were protecting the realm Archfey of Summer from his brother, a petty tyrant who posed as him the whole time. In the end, we helped to put him on trial within the faerie courts (heh) and he was given proper justice. In celebration, a royal wedding was held! Pew-pew’s gift was very odd… Being that he was once a vicious raider, his gift was the soul of the Raider Clan’s leader (that he personally murdered) that had been grafted to a box. It sometimes screams in existential and death-craving horror. Other times, it will speak about experience with war, military, trade and more. So, when it wasn’t in agony and yearning for death, it proved to be a valuable ally for the Archfey Lord.
Beyond Mystara, Beyond Blackmoor –
Here’s one of my earlier games. However, I still remember it quite well. Hell, it inspired an article for Threshold Mystara magazine (keep and eye out for it!). Our troop became aware of an evil time traveling menace called “The Oard”. They come from a magic-dead timeline and they seek to conquer other timelines to help propagate their existence. Where Chaos Reigns more or less starts off as normal; tales of corrupted wizards, armed beastmen, revolutions sparked by oardian tech, etc… Eventually, the Oards retreat and WE WIN! Upon returning, we make a huge mistake! We basically left the door open to our reality.
The Oard, fearful of heroes smashing them so soon, sneak into our world and discover they can use their artifacts to travel into Mystara’s past and not only erase us but magic too. They stumble upon Blackmoor, then a humble kingdom no more than medieval in era. Under their dark powers, mages begin to fall to madness again as all sorts of horror breaks out. The forces of the Egg of Coot, as well as St. Stephen, try to take advantage on the bedlam. The Egg is suppressed as well as St. Stephen (Temple of the Frog, City of the Gods). Exhausted, the heroes still need to contend with the Oard. Forging alliagences with the Afridhi, Blackmoorians and the F.S.S. Beagle crew; they manage to banish the Oard by impossible means… or so they thought. The last remaining cyborg menaces crafted a final plan. They’d capture and warp magic users around them, so the crazed wizards can pollute and erode as much magic as possible as heavily as possible. This continued in secret until storms and waves of wild magic began to surge through the lands. Attempts to control it failed, as it only got worse. Thanks to the power of the Egg, the chaos magic exploded into an apocalyptic arcane plague, washing over everything it touched. The arcane corruption nearly cost Blackmoor, creating a new Great Rain of Fire.
The heroes showed up one final time, to help offer a means of escaping. Blackmoor’s protective energy shields, mashed with the heroes’ use of time magic and the Comeback inn, allows the kingdom to escape the crumbling land around them. The heroes are split off as a surge of chaotic magic splits the PCs from Blackmoor. They find themselves deep within the continent of Skothar, where they run into an adventure guild in Esterhold. Assembling a team, they venture to where the ruins of Blackmoor should be… only to see a gloomy technomagical series of castles and towers covered by a glassy dome. The general aesthetic seemed very Warhammer 40000. Anyway, this is why the game ended… on a very odd cliffhanger.
Souls in the Factory Smoke –
A change of pace from D&D, this was a Savage Worlds one-shot based on a short story I made (that the GM read). In this urban fantasy mess of 1940s New York/Los Angeles, Shadowrun and Lankhmar, a group of investigators are contracted to help with the disappearances all over Founders’ Haven City. The officers may have found a lead, but we won’t like the details. This was once a city envisioned as a glistening beacon of hope for travelers. And, it could have been. Now, it is an industrial dump rife with crime, poverty, discrimination and more. But all the same, a center for new, incredible and frightening technologies. Our team was escorted by two private service cars through the smoggy skies of the big, damn city. It was like the intro to Blade Runner. At least, that’s how it was described by the GM. Languages and people have blended together, streets are horribly overcrowded, the alleyways smell of oil, piss and hard liquor. Some of the smog isn’t even smog, it’s souls of the dead caught in the smokestacks! We come to an office belonging to the “Smilin’ Green Money Lenders”, which is a front for an insidious organization known as “The Gob Mob”. Under normal circumstance, our crew would be unnerved. But, the mob assures it’s “legitimate business”… or rather, the murder of their boss. It wasn’t a mob crime either. He was targeted by an outside force. We go on the hunt to track down the perp, gathering leads around the city.
Our first stop is a somewhat rundown tavern run by an ogre over by the docks and lower market wards. Just like the outside, the place smells like low-tide. A stocky large man with an eye patch greets us, cleaning a pistol. Upon asking if he has a permit to have that in public, he shows his papers and admits he didn’t expect any “friendly company” before hours. One of the team jumps the gun (figuratively) and goes straight to the Gob. He narrows his gaze, brings us to the back. He admits that he’s grief stricken over the death of the Gob Father, a good friend and former regular customer. He claims to want revenge too, but promises he’ll keep it within the confines of the law. None of us trust him, but he’s sincere and he clearly has no motive to kill him. We find out other places to check out from the bartender, as he tries to fix his old radio, which has acted weird not long after Gob Father died. One of his clients lives in a ritzy apartment. Despite getting a “solid deal” that paid off rent for the next 10 years, he’s a broke gambler who pretends he’s still rich. He came to the Gob and their company for aid several months back and blew the money with no sign of getting it back. His facade of high class and society has been at stake, he’s a clear suspect. He begins to act a little more desperate and frantic after learning the boss of Smilin’ Green is dead. We get the cops in to book ‘im! He makes a big scene and embarrasses himself in front of the residents as he’s escorted away. Before leaving, we notice a little note stuffed in a curious wind-up clock telling him that “they’ll make him guilty”, as well as a business card for a medium.
We pay a stop to the medium’s “house of spiritual knowledge”, just outside of the city. The medium agrees to aid the investigation, but also asks for a commission fee. One of the detectives, an initiate of magic, joins in to help. They try to divine both the resting place of the Gob Father’s soul as well as the site of the murder. The first is a factory where all sorts of radios, clocks and other devices are assembled. The second is an alleyway in the thick of “Dead Berk Gang” territory, the land of a failing gang that’s treated like more of a mockery (like “The Orphans” from “The Warriors”). We make our way over to the factory to see if we can’t bust our lead suspect, we’re greeted with a nervous factory worker whose acting too obviously stupid. After being called out on it and bringing up Gob Father, he flees the area.
Taking a look inside the dingy facility, tons of stuff being made. However, in the back office, it’s the time of night that the bartender’s radio broke. And on that very minute, it turns on and the Gob Father’s voice begins to shout. He asks where he is and if he’s dead. Trying to respond does nothing, as if it’s a one way communication. We break the radio, a freshly assembled one (not plugged in) activates with his voice. We report this to other authorities while we get an inspector on those souls stuck in the smokestacks, as this might be related.
Meanwhile, in Dead Berk territory, the gang tries to jump us as we fight back. We don’t fatally wound them, but we do damage and they scatter. One leaves an address to speak with “Donny”, their leader. We pay another visit to the Medium in the meantime, who says she found new information. Not a moment there after, a black bullet flies through the window and into her neck. She gasps and disintegrates after hitting the floor. A robed man with a rifle ducks away after firing a few bullets at us. Our initiate mage detective tries to recover the image in the crystal ball, slightly cracked. It shows a lodge in the woods, we need more research on this first. We don’t know what this means yet, but we go back to the Dead Berks, who act like wounded puppies, save for Donny. He taps his fingers and leers in towards us. Robed men have his back. He goes on a tirade about how his gang will be strong, no thanks to thwarting people like us, but he’s not guilty here. He refuses to talk when probed and the robed men ask us to leave. He’s fishy, but the robed men bring other questions to mind.
Heading back towards the factory, we find the late night worker from before, hung by the neck by a black and oily change. It’s the same kind of magic that killed the Medium. There’s also a message on the bottom, “The clues are in plain sight, but it’s time to go blind.” A misty cloud covers the factory as various creations begin to explode and catch fire. One of our team is almost killed by the blast and decides to retire from the case. We give as much evidence as we can salvage (including the possessed radio) to the Metro PD, who inform us of the lodge’s whereabouts. Outside of the city, we come to lavish lodge. We’re jumped by robed goons who shoot off icy magical blasts and bullets alike. Half of the team is badly beaten by the ambush, but we take ’em down. The people in the lodge are completely aware of the commotion. Goodbye element of surprise. We just charge right in, stating standard protocol and demand to know what’s going on. Several creepy priests give a villain speech about use of political power, social manipulation and bribes to get ahead. He’s shocked we ever took the case, helping out lowly criminals. His plan was simple, eliminate rival factions by whatever means, slowly take over, try to blame someone else. We have a good old fashioned showdown with the crazy cult people as well as brainwashed high society folks in on the cause. Police provide back up about a minute later as the shootout claims two of our investigators (including my own) and brutally wounds another. Even with these foul necromancers eliminated, their presence in the area is probably far from over. And even then, a letter at the end sent a chill down the rest of the teams’ spines. It basically encouraged them to spread “her will” and that the “Magnificent Bleakness” sends her regards. A little bit pulp detective tale, a little Call of Cthulhu, a little intrigue and a lot of magical weirdness! All in all, a memorable adventure! Plus, we had a nemesis would could use for something else.
IMAGE CREDIT: RPG Blog Carnival Logo – roleplaying tips, The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania – Sir Joseph Noel Paton, The Lost Planet – Screenshot, The Film noir – Makkon