Friday, November 4, 2016

Gods of the Fall - Session Prep - The Festival of Fallen Gods

It took a while, but I finally started what I hope will be a healthy monthly campaign in Gods of the Fall last night. With four players at the moment (including +Andrew Cady +Dave Hanlon +andrew lyon and +Jim Baltzell-Gauthier ) I had a "session zero" a month before to discuss characters and get some ideas from the players with last night's session being our first play session.

During our discussions I asked if they wanted to start off knowing about their divinity or not. They decided to start entirely mortal which I thought would be fun to see how they learned of their divine potential. Of course then I realized I needed to not only plan a puny mortal adventure, but also seed in the opportunity to discover their divine potential during play in the first couple of sessions of the campaign.

Not yet sure if the group would start aligned or not I decided that a good way to kick things off would be a big public event where the PCs could bump into each other as need be and where I could allow a goodly amount of open roleplay before tossing out a major plot point as early, or late, as needed.

Since my game is going to start in Somorrah, and since  Somorrah has a large number of Adherents, I decided that a festival on the anniversary of the Fall would make a great event to kick off the game and the campaign! Enter "The Festival of Fallen Gods," a nighttime celebration throughout the city where people celebrate the old Gods in a way similar to the way the Day of the Dead is celebrated in our world.

In addition, the festival falls onto an annual celestial event in the form of a meteor shower. Most people assume the event started only after the Fall, but the shower is just a periodic event and has been going on since before history. Still the blazing meteors make for a wonderful special effect for the Adherent's proselytizing.

Of course the Order of Reconciliation doesn't take too kindly to this ...

Once I had my initial setup I needed a few drop-in events I could use to keep things going and give the PCs some chance to forge relationships in an organic way. Using a random city-event list I grabbed a pair that I thought would work well:
  • An Adherent, preaching that the Gods will return in time and reward the faithful, becomes embroiled in an argument with a Reconciliator that soon escalates to violence. 
    • Since a level 7 Knight of Reconciliation would mop the floor with fresh Tier 1 PCs I'm going to treat this guy and his buddies as Slavers for the purposes of the session. 
    • The Adherent will be a simple level 2 NPC but will be backed up by one or more of the Queen's guard if need be (pg 46)
    • I figure that the PCs will probably side with the Adherent, but if not, or if they don't take part at all, it will tell me a little about them that I can use later.
  • On a less busy side street or alley a young woman is on hands and knees frantically searching the ground for something. One of the PCs spies a piece of jewelry nearby under some refuse. 
    • The kicker here is that the stone set into the jewelry is a Cypher, and a powerful one at that. I'll give the PC who finds it an inkling of it's worth and then see if they return it or keep it. 
    • As before regardless of the outcome this will tell me something about one or more of the PCs. 
    • The Cypher is a Divine Elevation, and can grant 2 power shifts to a target for 1 minute. A powerful piece of fallen Elanehtar!
  • The PCs see a sleen reveler carrying a puppet effigy of a fallen god that looks extremely similar to one of the PCs! The sleen is staring at the PC in apparent surprise/shock. If the PC the effigy matches approaches the person they drop the doll in surprise and the PC feels the impact.
    • This one is straight up foreshadowing, and a one-time thing, they can do anything they want to that doll thereafter and they won't feel it, but it should be a scene that really freaks out at least the one PC if played right.
The last thing I have planned is intended to be the end of the session and set up the second: a meteor, far brighter and closer roars overhead during the festival and crashes into the wilderness beyond the city in the direction of the Verge. Depending on the timing for my session the PCs may be able to travel out to the site in the first session or that may be the cliffhanger ending of the session. With ~4 hours and brand new characters (and a new player) I'm not sure how long the festival scenes will take. 

If the meteor fall happens early I'll probably inject an encounter or two on the road and plan to end when they arrive at the impact site. Regardless exploring the crater and its contents will be the primary thrust of our second session. I'll post about that in a month or so after, that session has been run!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Nuts & Bolts #97 - A Smattering of New Materials

Image Source:

This week I'm kicking a Gods of the Fall game/campaign and as a result my mind is turning to fantasy materials and items. The following are a few ideas I have come up with over the years and I decided to present in a somewhat "system neutral" fashion. Since I am also planning to add these into my game I'll present my thoughts on how to use these in the Cypher System.


"Cold" iron is a well known term for mostly pure iron used against fairies, spirits and other supernatural creatures. Wight-Iron is an form of cold iron commonly associated with the undead barrow kings and other undead warriors. Wight-iron is magical, but not technically enchanted as it is a side effect of close contact to undead creatures over a period of time.

Wight-iron is truly cold, both to the touch and to the soul. Wight-iron weapons often have a patina of frost on their blades or metallic faces and strike with supernatural cold, dealing increased damage to beings vulnerable to such.

In addition wight-iron weapons can chill the soul of a living target. This may take the form of additional damage, ability damage to intelligence/intellect, or even level drain depending on the system and the weapon. Most such weapons will have one of the former two effects with a minor die (d3 or d4). The drawback to Wight-iron is that they tend to shatter on fumbled attack roles.

For the Cypher System Wight-iron weapons would be artifacts with a level of 1d6. In combat these weapons would do their level of damage direct to Intellect (and thus bypassing most armor). These weapons have a depletion on 1d10 normally, but are also prone to shattering as a result of a GM Intrusion.

Dakar Steel

Dakar steel is known by its two most notable traits: it's deep black color, and the burning heat of the forge that continually emanates from it. Dakar steel is forged with the spirit of a fire elemental trapped within and the enchanted steel takes on a black color as sign of this. These weapons are commonly found within arid kingdoms and those known for the enslavement of other entities.

Hot to the touch at all times weapons forged of Dakar steel require use of specially enchanted hilts or the use of special gloves and gauntlets or they will deal burning damage to their wielder. These weapons always deal additional fire based damage, often increasing the damage output of the weapon by 50%-100%. In the hands of a magic user these weapons can add their bonus damage to any fire spells channeled through them.

In the Cypher System a Dakar Steel weapon is an artifact with a level of 1d6. In combat these weapons do 1 additional damage for light weapons, 2 additional damage for medium weapons, and 3 additional damage for heavy weapons. Additionally this damage bonus can be added to any fire-based abilities used by the wielder if they are channeled through the weapon.

Nemean Leather In fairness, this idea isn't really mine, but whatever...

Supernaturally capable members of otherwise normal animals can happen under the right circumstances. Sometimes it is the intentional result of magical tinkering by gods or wizards, and other times natural magical flux or celestial circumstances can gift power to an animal pup.

Regardless of the cause a Nemean animal is exemplary in most every way. Tougher, stronger, faster, and in many instances smarter, these creatures often become legends in their own right. Those who manage to slay a Nemean find that their bodies can be a cornucopia of supernatural crafting materials including, but not limited to, the skin.

Most commonly known are items of Nemean leather. When properly prepared the skin of a Nemean creature can make stronger than usual leather commonly forged into armor. Other uses exist, including bags which are often enchanted with effects to grant enhanced capacity or the ability to hide their contents in some way. Nemean bones and sinew are occasionally used to make powerful bows or crossbows as well, but are far less common.

In Cypher System Nemean leather armor will be a medium armor with the armor penalty of a light armor. A bow made of Nemean materials will do an additional point of damage. A Nemean leather bag or waterskin is often able to hold twice or three times the volume it seems while weighing very little more than an empty item of its size; such an item is an artifact with a depletion on a d20 when items are removed, or when a waterskin is filled.

Blood Oak

Blood oak is an uncommon form of the normal oak tree. The blood oak is the result of a necromantic ritual wherein an oak nut (acorn) is planted into the chest cavity of a ritually disemboweled victim. The tree grows from the victim's corpse and appears in all ways as a normal oak except for blood red leaves. The rarity of blood oak is due in part to the ritual nature of the oak's creation, and the length of time needed for the tree to grow to a harvestable size. The harvested wood of a blood oak is deep red in color and often retains a wet appearance even after being completely dried and prepared for use.

The most common use of the blood oak is in the form of wands and staves where it grants additional power to spells that affect blood or control a victim, including undead. These uses are most common because the tree can be harvested in only a few years for the required growth. Fully grown adult specimens (which are always sterile) can yield sufficient lumber footage to craft protective wooden shields and even armor (though rather uncommon) which can protect the bearer from the same blood and control magics that the wood can empower in other forms. Rumors of entire buildings built with blood oak lumber exist, though if these are true it is unknown what such structures could do.

In the Cypher System blood oak wands and staves grant an asset on abilities that target blood or seek to control a target. Blood oak armor or shields provide an asset to resist the effects of control and blood magics when worn/wielded. Such items would be artifacts with depletion rolls on a d10 for wands and staves, and d20 for shields and armor.

Elixir Crystals

Have you ever wondered what happens to magical potions that don't get used and dry up? Many potions simply go bad and cease to work, or change into something untoward that may have a significantly altered effect. Under the right circumstances some potions can be coerced into crystallization, much like a sugar solution left to evaporate that will leave rock candy behind.

Elixir crystals are not simply a "just add water" form of their original elixir however. These crystals radiate a weak magic and are often worked into jewelry which can be worn to gain the advantage of their effect. Elixir crystals may have effects similar to the effect of their elixir source, such as a healing elixir producing a crystal which can aid in recovery. Others may have related effects, a crystal formed from an elixir of stone to flesh may provide resistance to petrification for instance. While others may have radically different effects that seem entirely unrelated.

Regardless of their effects, the boons granted by elixir crystals are relatively modest and dependant on the size of the crystal. Such crystals are also enormously expensive due to the large quantities of their alchemical source materials; a thumb sized healing elixir crystal would be formed from dozens of healing potions/elixirs. As a result these crystals are fairly rare, and often are not economical for alchemists to create.

In Cypher System games elixir crystals will provide a small bonus. A large crystal (thumb sized) may provide an asset to a given task, while smaller may provide a +2 or a +1 at their smallest. Healing crystals will provide a bonus to recovery rolls, usually +1 or +2. All such crystals are artifacts with depletion of between d100 and d20 depending on GM prerogative.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Story Seed - Annihilation

Image Source:

Black hole sun, won't you come, and wash away the rain? - Soundgarden

I wanna see it painted, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black
  - Rolling Stones

Keillot raised his hands up, feeling the power flowing from the black orb. Here in the deep aether the true void was an actually visible, tangible thing. A sphere of absolute nothing that consumed all that it contacted. Keillot stood on the wreckage of some dead world. All around the aether howled in misery and doom as it fell into the void; fell to a fate of eternal nothingness, an anathema for the aether that was boundless possibility.

The dark man smiled as he drew power into himself from that void. The power to destroy utterly was the most potent weapon he could wield against the Annihilation Seed that had destroyed so many gods before him, and threatened still more in the ages to come. Full of the void's destructive potential Keillot flung down the crystalline shard of long lost Elanehtar and summoned a portal to the world.

In the seemingly unending night of the fifth deep a glowing maw opened from the deep aether and Keillot, who already fancied himself as the new king of gods stepped into the world, his form shrouded in the dark bleed of the void energy he contained. He strode out and made his way toward the Annihilation Seed.

The Annihilation Seed floated in the night of the fifth deep, a great crystalline shard of malignant power. So purple as to be black it pulsed slowly with its own inner energy, an energy that would eventually burst forth and throw down Keillot and the other new gods.

"Not this time, not this cycle," Keillot said as he raised his hands and cast forth the destructive power of the void ...

... and howled in agony as he felt the Annihilation Seed draw in the void's power and Keillot himself as it gained power by drawing the void into its corrupt form.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Last Week Today - October 24 - 30, 2016

Story Seed - History

Nuts & Bolts - Hacking the Cypher System - Expanded Dominion Abilities

Gods of the Fall - Gods of the [Blank] Part 4 - Gods of the Strange