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Passing the Rift Weave

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Around Stonecrest is a rift in the weave of time and space. This makes Stonecrest a place that is slightly out of time and space of the island of Kiltayre, and perhaps other places.

Traversing the Rift Weave requires intent and power. Stonecrest is therefore the home of various wizards, sorcerors, geomancers, clerics, priests and archmages.

The mechanic for traversing the Rift Weave is a pretty simple Will save. Base DC is 20 to get through to within sight (0-5 miles) of the location (Kiltayre of Stonecrest). Failure means you’re a random distance in a random direction from the target location area and you take subdual damage equal to the failure margin – which is also the distance in miles.

Example: Base DC 20, Will save total is 14. Displaced 6 miles in random direction and take 6 subdual damage.

However, you can alter the time of arrival by 30 minutes forward or back if you pour power into the travel. This raises the DC by 5 per 30 minutes. Each SL of power added to the group’s travel, if they are tied together, adds to the Will save. A guide, or guides, can add power but not go through the rift.

Minimum power required is 1 SL per person. If time alteration is intended the minimum is 3 SL per person. There is no discount or surcharge for large or small creatures.

Example: a party is going through Rift Weave with a guide. The total SL added to the travel is 16. Each party member who is tied together can add 16 to the Will save. The guide stays behind.

If the DC is 50 or higher, then the power requirements double. This restricts time traversed to 3 hours.

Using the Rift Weave to traverse time more than your level in hours per week has some nasty side-effects– like long-term spell-energy drain (lose PP, or SL, available per day), negative levels, ability drain and in rare cases internal anti-magic matrices that prevent the recovery of any magical energy whatsoever (even Supernatural Abilities).

The last effect of traversing the Rift Weave is the energies can dispel existing enchantments. Roll 2d20 as a caster level check against each effect.

It is a potentially dangerous things and it keeps most hostile spellcasters out of Stonecrest; since they rarely want to arrive depleted.

In light of all this the Rift Weave still has secrets. The time-travel component is not widely known and there are entities within, some attracted to negative energy, others attracted to positive energy. In all it is a risky move and each trip is different.

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Kiltayre Session 8: review

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The game session went well. Full-house of players at the table and air-con to stave off the heat of a 37C degree day (99F for our imperial friends).

 

Play started out with the players incarcerated. Alassiel retrieved her psi-crystal. It’s fine size allowing it to make an unseen path to its mistress. She spent her time in the cell deciphering the memorized script of Felghanis’ Uncle’s journal.

 

Kallista, poor Kallista, was suffering the most. She cried and screamed for a priest. The gaoler asked it if was for a confession of her crimes. Kallista agreed to confess to trespass on the church’s road. The meeting didn’t come for hours.

 

Felghanis went for the top. “I need to speak to the Prelate.”

Eventually, some 6 hours later, the Prelate met with Felghanis.

 

Both meetings were between somewhat desperate prisoners and skilled diplomats. Each time the priest or the Prelate was well-used to dealing with such a situation. The prisoners were sent back. In Kallista’s case with a bucketful of guilt.

 

They persisted for a time until the lack of water began to take its toll. When they finally were given water Kallista attempted to create more but without her focuses and spellbook she failed the spell; drenching herself and her bedclothes. She passed out after less than an hour from the cold.

 

It was at this time, nearly 48 hours after being incarcerated, that they were moved by cart to a huge stone ship that sat berthed on the river of Dwarf Town. It had no sails and the populace seemed unwilling to come any closer than the shore to see it, or they ignored it. In the hold was like being in a cave. Time passed. They were fed, watered, and witnessed a fight over food. Callan, a murderer, pulled the eye from the prisoner who stole his bread, adding another soul to his victims.

 

Fenris was another prisoner, a self-confessed traitor, and three brothers; Tomasso, Dean and the eldest, as well as two dwarves, were there for tax-evasion. In chains they travelled in the belly of this stone ship. Alassiel shared that it was known generally as demon stone ships, and the church really ought not to be trucking with the likes who might have one.

 

After a lost amount of time, Kallista awoke to see Fenris apparently meditating. She heard the mutterings and recognised some words of summoning. It appeared he was calling in a pact, that had elements of summoning in its request. Alassiel awoke and drew the same conclusion. It was Felghanis who attempted to intervene (with his Charnel Touch channelled through his foot). Yet bad luck prevented Fel from managing to reach Fenris. Kallista was first to notice that the traitor had slipped his manacles.

 

Things began moving very quickly. Something smashed the ship and it wailed. Fenris started bending the bars, just enough to get his head out, and Fel called for the guards before he could escape. Like a wolf he lunged out and punched Fel nearly knocking the young necromancer unconscious. Dom quickly placated Fenris with promises to keep Fel quiet.

“Good. I don’t want you to drown,” Fenris’ reply was frightening.

“What’s happening?”

“I’m going to get the key,” Fenris answered. With a few more efforts he bent the bars and squeezed himself through, popping a shoulder, and replacing it once out.

 

More massive blows to the ship set it to screaming. Suddenly Fenris was back, with a sword and armoured, to see Dom and the dwarves were brute-forcing the manacles open. He threw in the key and then left. The part set about freeing everyone. Callan was last. Felghanis helped him loosed but the guards had beaten him so soundly he couldn’t walk properly.

“I’m not leaving without him,” Fel said resolutely.

Kallista nodded and joined the dark young man in aiding this murderer to get free of the hold.

The ship listed dramatically and then righted. They rushed up to the decks only to be blocked by thre guards with spears. They were shaken and desperately trying to carry out their orders.

“Get back below!” one bellowed.

“We’ll drown and you will, too.” Dom tried to reason with them.

“For no reason at all,” added one of the dwarves.

“Get back,” the guard was seeing the sense but fell back on his obedience to orders.

“Come on man, let us live, and you can, too. We can help each other get of this ship.”

Suddenly the prow pitched up and the ship ground over rocks to a halt. A flash of lightning from stern-ward lit up the night. Ahead was a looming cliff and above it a stretch of scrub. Motes of ice were driven in the strong wind and it was very dark.

The guards agreed and they used the mooring lines to make an escape.

 

At the rear of the deck a mage flung a lightning bolt. He was aided by a cluster of a dozen soldiers and they seemed to have driven off something huge. Into the dark water a massive neck and shoulder were swallowed by the midnight waves. Fenris was nowhere to be seen.

 

The ship went pale and the guards with their mage as leader arrived. Channelling raw mana, and then his own blood, the captain held the ship together enough for everyone to escape. including 6 guards who had salvaged three chests all marked with the sigil of the Church of St. Fergus. Once they were all off the mage leapt into a feather fall, and the ship collapsed in a fractured cacophony of stone shattering.

 

Assembled at the top the shock of the wrecking was passing. The captain ordered the soldiers to secure the prisoners. In what seemed like a whole minute, Kalista and Dom exchanged glances and then fled into the snow.
”Don’t pursue the,” the Captain said. “They will be back.”

He was right.

In return for the agreement to try to return Fenris to Captain Morgane the prisoners were given back their belongings (minus the deep earth crystal the party had acquired in the Soucairn of Thulemon) and set free. Seeing Felghanis’ with his map the Captain pointed out their current location.

“Plateau point.”

“What do you thin Fenris’ agenda will be?” Dom asked.

“He was robbing old tombs before he was arrested. I’d say he’ll be aiming to do that again.” The Captain’s eyes fell on the mark for the Iron Tower inked on Fel’s map.

 

The three brothers and Callan opted to head west and attempt to find Fenris that way. The dwarves joined the party and headed east.

 

The Iron Tower?

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Kiltayre – a new adventure

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The group has come together to try a new adventure. This time with preparatory talks about how the players have come to trust each other enough to adventure together. The framework will be to drive party continuity; that is, there are game-mechanics in play to prevent PC death. We’ll be using Fate Points (qv. WHFRP) and in-game phylacteries to allow a soul to return to a body that is “repaired” within a time frame and a resuscitation check is succeeded (qv. Rolemaster soul departure).

I pitched to play in Kiltayre. A land that I’ve not visited in-game for many years. Partly, in hindsight, because I’ve set it up as more politically complicated than I knew I was ready to GM for. And partly because it’s not as well fleshed-out as it could be. This is a double-win for me because I, one) get to flesh it out more by GM’ing, and two) get to have a more mature attempt at GM’ing in this politically complicated setting.

Ostensibly it will be a straight-forward quest. The GM style I’ve pitched to the players is far softer than I’d normally run, in terms of combats, but I will be using the environment as a dangerous thing. Kiltayre’s harsh winters will be an enemy that they will be constantly at war with. With that element of survival-gaming introduced I hope to steer the players to a position where they can better appreciate my gaming-preferences, and even just experience the way I like to game a little better, and see if we can get even more firmly concordant in how we prefer to game in the future.

This is the pitch I put to the group:

The lands of Kiltayre are in a pall of hunger and despair. Winters have been coming early and harsh for four years and famine threatens the people. Some say if it weren’t for the Church of Saint Fergus and their charity many more would have starved. And so the villages are emptying as the people leave their frost fields to be nearer the large churches and cathedrals so that their children may be fed.

Autumn this year is already cold and the first frost has just fallen this night past. The seer-woman, grandmother of the headman of your hometown, has claimed a vision of why the winter is coming earlier and earlier. There is an evil afoot in Kiltayre and it must be stopped before it turns the whole island into an icy waste.
Five fingers of stone
Five swords of bone
Many yards of silk
Many of strange ilk
Two bears and three deer
Two trees and a titan’s tear

Her cryptic rhyme’s have not been forthcoming in over twenty years. Not since almost forgotten heroes of your hometown left on their epic quest that led to the discovery of the six swords of Kiltayre. Now you and all the other young unmarried folk stand before her and the town’s elders. They look on to you as the hope for the future of everyone’s children. Will you step forward?

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Published: Bounty for the Taking, Book One

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If you want some bone-crunching action and good old-fashioned adventure then read my latest novel. Bounty for the Taking: Book One, is a fantasy adventure that follows three brothers as they travel the lands of Khara Thel, seeking wealth and fortune via bounty hunting in its various forms until they uncover a life-changing revelation.

 

Bounty1_COVER_01c 

Bounty for the Taking: Book One, Smashwords

Bounty for the Taking: Book One, Kindle

 

 

Keeping it less-than-epic,

 

-KW Jackson

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Zyfraan Reldeng: alchemist and king’s cousin

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Zyfraan Reldeng

6’2” 168lbs, Tayan, Alchemist
Cousin of the Mekong Reldeng king, Michairius the Nineteenth, and high standing member of the the Alchemists’ Guild & the Royal Sage school, Zyfraan is a well-respected member of the magical community. Zyfraan’s name is spoken of as one of the best alchemists alive. His education is of the highest standard and he continues his learning of spells and runes to this day. His great resources are almost all channelled back into his learning spells to assist his production of magic items. Many alchemists abroad know of his work. Zyfraan runs an alchemists shop, attached to the Concatenated Guild of Alchemists, near the Summer Palace in Tiben Xian.

Zyfraan has silver-grey hair that reaches the middle of his back in a cue. He wears red robes with hems enruned in gold and has access to a great number of magical items. Zyfraan actively monitors the mercenary companies and well-heeled freebooters that pass through the city of Tiben Xian for snippets of ancient lore and to study any magic items they may possess. He pays well and is completely trustworthy.
Notable Skills:
Zyfraan is a well-accomplished and powerful alchemist. He specialises in potions and smithing magic items but has earned respect for his knowledge of runes and the associated spell theory. He is a capable teacher for those who could use a “master-class” in rune magic and theory.
Spells:
Zyfraan is so focused on enchanting items, making potions and learning new ways of enruning that he can be considered to have knowledge of almost every related spell. He may also have a few unique spells. His one diversion to runes and magic-items is defensive magic; of which he is moderately skilled. Zyfraan’s powers are usually enough to take care of himself against the common thugs and criminals should his personal guard, assigned by the king, be too slow or overwhelmed.
Combat abilities:
Zyfraan has no martial skills relying on bodyguards, magic items, enhanced reflexes and defensive magic
Notes: Zyfraan is an advanced polyglot, speaking 12 languages and 30 dialects. He is also a senior guild master of the Concatenated Alchemists Guild in Mekong Reldeng.

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Younger Days: my first maps of Khara Thel

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Here’s some pics of my earliest maps of the surface of Khara Thel. I think these maps are 25 years old this year and they show it.

 

first map of Ferromaine 2

 Overview

first map of Ferromaine 2 detail

Detail

 

It’s funny how real landforms show up in maps. Makes me think they get stuck in one’s mind and come back out through a pencil. This is a place in my home-state called Lakes Entrance. Looks quite a bit like Lake Windemere and its nearby bays.

the real landforms

Lakes Entrance (VIC, Australia)

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Vayeth: unique metal

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The confirmation of a Vayeth find can mobilise armies to secure its lodes. The metal is incredibly strong and resilient but it’s highest value is its strength in easily holding enchantments. However, it can be processed further into True Vayeth which is the metal of the Dædanic Age’s finest artifacts. Legendary items like the Sword of King Michairius the First are forged of Vayeth.

Vayeth

Vayeth is a unique metal that has been found mostly in Kiltayre. It is dug out from deep within the magnetic lodestone under dormant volcanoes. It is a matte-grey metal that has a greasy appearance. In truth this is because vayeth is rarely refined properly (see True Vayeth).

Typical Cost: if they are ever available, and it is a once in a lifetime event, items of Vayeth cost a minimum 100,000 times their normal list price.

d20 effects: Vayeth items as weapons have +2 enhancement to hit, reduce opponents AC by 6 vs. armour (natural or worn), +2 enhancement to damage, +10 to resist destructive magical effects, and are of the highest class for penetrating Damage Resistance. When enchanting items of Vayeth the XP cost is one-third..

True Vayeth

Vayeth that has been properly refined and forged takes on a glorious silver translucence that holds the highest polish. The only known items made of true vayeth are great artefacts of power from the Dædanic age. This metal is so hard that if forged into a sword it will not dull whilst still cutting any non-vayeth material: the depth of cut limited only by the wielder’s strength. Vayeth edged weapons always treat all non-vayeth armour as quilt or soft-leather.

Typical Cost: if they are ever available, and it is a once in a lifetime event that will attract royalty from nearby kingdoms, items of True Vayeth cost a minimum 250,000 times normal list price.

d20 effects: True Vayeth items as weapons have +3 enhancement to hit, reduce opponents AC by 6 vs. armour (natural or worn), +3 enhancement to damage, +11 to resist destructive magical effects, and are of the highest class for penetrating Damage Resistance. When enchanting items of True Vayeth the XP cost is quartered.

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Ulstutz: exotic steel

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While a cursory examination would mistake a blade of ulstutz as wootz, or folded, steel it is really a much more sturdy material. Ulstutz is a layering of hard and soft magical steels that is differentially hardened for the purpose of the item. It has a pattern like rippling water and is very strong, particularly for edged and penetrating weapons or plate armour.

 

Ulstutz

d20 effects: +2 enhancement bonus, except for; +4 enhancement bonus for plate armour, +4 enhancement bonus to damage when made into edged or puncturing weapons, edged and puncturing weapons of ulstutz count as adamantine vs. DR.

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Tharkhor

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[Tar-core]
Taller than common orcs the Tharkhor are the greater race of Goblinoids of Khara Thel. They are often intelligent and can learn a handful of languages. Amongst Tharkhor there is formal education with uncles. Female Tharkhor are kept in separate harems to the rest of the Goblinoids of any citadel and jealously guarded from common orcs potentially polluting the bloodlines. As soldiers the Tharkhor are shock troops, heavy infantry and heavy cavalry. They favour heavy plate armour and often wield war mattocks, heavy swords, hammers and maces into battle. They are very strong, even for their size, and can endure sunlight even thought it hampers them. The Tharkhor are, thankfully, slow breeders and their numbers are few.
Height: 6’ to 7’
Abilities: darkvision 120 ft., daylight hampers (moderate penalty to all actions), greatly resistant to damage, moderate resistance to shock
Average lifespan: 90 years, although most are soldiers and live about 50 years

d20 effects: +3 Str, +1 Con, Darkvision (120ft.), Stay conscious and active to –5 hit points, daylight puts them at –1 to morale.

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Salves (healing ointments)

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These various unguents and ointments are collectively called salves. In Khara Thel the general use of the word salve is in a healing context.

Orc Salve (aka  Black Salve)

A bitter black salve that is grease-like in appearance and texture. It will heal wounds well but leaves dark scars (something orcs take pride in).
Cost: 15 gp for a tub of 10 doses
(Manufacture notes: an above average difficulty recipe, 2 oz. Gauthimilar & 4 oz. of Luminous Vrak & 5 oz. scrap melon juice, prepared through a bronze retort and then an iron alembic)
d20: as Cure Minor Wounds, and a Heal check can add excess to DC as extra hit-points healed. Eg. DM determines DC to be 18. Heal check total is 22, add 4 extra HP healed with the black salve.

White Salve

A smooth white salve that heals quite a bit better than black salve and leaves natural scarring or more often none at all. Looks and feels like refined tallow or lard but smells herbal and a little alkaline.
Cost: 45 gp for a tub of 10 doses
(Manufacture notes: a quite difficult recipe, 4 oz. Mordakress & 6 oz. of Apsusar brew & 1 oz. of Arlan, prepared though a bronze retort and then a steel alembic)
d20: as Cure Light Wounds, 1d8 + 2, and a Heal check can add excess to DC as extra hit-points healed. Eg. DM determines DC to be 18. Heal check total is 22, add 4 extra HP healed with the white salve.

Gold Salve, Great Salve  or Cyclops Salve

A potent healing preparation in great demand: unfortunately the ingredients are rare. It is a golden-amber colour and looks like thick honey but with the consistency of a fine grease. Smells of spice, moss and bitter-herbs.
Cost: 300 gp per tub of 10 doses
(Manufacture notes: very advanced recipe; 4 oz. of Mordakress & 2 oz. of Arlan & 2 oz. of Reglen brew & 1 oz. of Kelventari & 3 oz. of Gauthimilar, prepared through steel retort and then a steel alembic)

d20: as Cure Light Wounds, 1d8 + 6, and a Heal check can add double excess to DC as extra hit-points healed. Eg. DM determines DC to be 18. Heal check total is 22, add 8 extra HP healed with the white salve.

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