Games, drumming, juggling, home improvements, cooking, comics, dogs, macs, music, etc.

Squall - probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse skval: useless chatter (Merriam-Webster)
It's my goal to have the LONGEST blog pages around. Kind of.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Thieves' World - The Prince and the Steel

If you are just picking this up, I suggest reading the previous posts first!
Prelude : Characters : Act I : Act II : Act III : Act IV

The Prince and the Steel
19th of Morothus - Annensday

The next day, at breakfast, Jack makes a date for shopping with a barmaid (Mary). She gets done after lunch, so Jack, Nickolas, and Malkar hang around Marta’s until her shift is done. Jack plays with some dice and attracts the attention someone who wants to gamble. Jack turns him down and the man grumbles and heads to the bar. He orders and sends three beers to the table. Malkar takes a drink, and Jack drinks deeply, suddenly coughing and thrashing and cannot seem to find his feet. He also feels severely weakened. Nickolas identifies that the drinks are poisoned, and they search for the man from the bar. They’ve lost him, but Jack needs immediate help. The three head immediately for the Avenue of Magistrates where a ritual Regeneration is cast on Jack for a full recovery from the poison.

Eventually, the Group pries Jack from out of the care of the priestesses in the Temple and the Group starts getting ready for the ball; after all, they only have three days. Jack, Malkar and Nickolas need to acquire some suitable clothing for the ball. The Group goes out in the company of Mary and she helps them get some good clothes for a high price. Jack repays her with a gift of a nice new dress, and invites her to the Ball as his date.

In the darkness of night, while returning from their shopping, some thugs jump out from a dark alley to mug them. The muggers quickly find themselves in a losing battle, with two of the mugger’s weapons breaking during the fight, and they run away. Information gathering in the bars reveals that a rash of street robberies are taking place. Also, there is a merchant in the Maze who is selling weapons very cheaply. Mostly street trash and wanna-be thugs are buying them up in huge numbers. They are good for show, but not for use. The Group discusses the impact of these new weapons in these people’s hands, and they decide it can’t be a good thing.

The next day, more people and more weapons are on the street. This time everyone is buying them for protection from the thugs. There have been more confrontations and more violence. Each incident generally plays out as before, with a lot of broken weapons. Modig is gathering information while in Marta’s, and his ears lead him to the Bazaar, where there is a crowd collecting around Dubro’s tent. The crowd gets rowdy and loud; Dubro comes out and quiets the crowd down. Someone has found out that Dubro’s antique sword is made of the ancient Enlibar steel. The crowd is demanding that something has to be done about the cheap weapons that are fast becoming the scourge of the city in the hands of thugs and gangs. Dubro eventually convinces the crowd that the secret of Enlibar steel has been lost for centuries. The crowd eventually disperses and things go back to normal.

That night, Dubro is seeking out Gagino and his friends. He has a job for them and trusts only them. When the Group assembles, Dubro relates this story to them. It was after dark last night and Dubro was visited by a cloaked figure. He said his name is Enas Yorl, and that he has an interest in the antique Enlibar sword also. He asks to see it, and Dubro allows him to hold it. The figure holds it with a hand that isn’t human; the skin is striped black and white and is like the hide of an animal. The figure casts some spells and asks Dubro if he’s interested in the true secret of Enlibar. Dubro assures him that he would be interested in creating master items like the antique sword, and to have the knowledge to forge Enlibar steel. The figure tells him to assemble some trustworthy friends for a short but dangerous quest, a quest that will take them to the secret of the Enlibar people.

Modig informs Dubro that he saw the robed figure leave his tent last night and had been waiting to see if Dubro needed help, and had already gathered the Group for assembly in the morning.

The Group meets at Gagino’s and then they make their way over to Dubro’s tent. Dubro agrees to make whatever they go through worth their while. As if summoned, a messenger from Enas Yorl appears at the tent entrance. The messenger tells them to be ready by mid-afternoon today, and to go to the Yorl residence on Pyrtanis Street.

The Group leaves Dubro to finish shopping for ball clothes. After a few hours they have finally picked up the items they need. There is a commotion from the east. It seems there is a procession of guards and a carriage coming in from the East Gate.

The Group moves towards the main streets and they see the procession making its way down the Wide Way towards the docks. Asking some questions, they hear that it seems that this is the new Prince Governor. They get to the docks and the procession is just arriving there.Twenty fully armed men on horses are escorting the carriage. The carriage stops and a head is seen poking out of the carriage’s window to look at the ship, BlackGuard, at the dock. Suddenly, a crossbow bolt is fired from the crowd, hitting the wood of the door to the carriage, and the head ducks back in. The carriage guards react immediately, and snatch the offender from the street, causing a lot of chaos. The crowd starts to riot, pockets are picked, and small fights start in the street. The Group decides scram before too much happens to them. The carriage moves quickly up the Processional to the gates of the Palace, with the guards not-so-kindly clearing the way of interlopers.

Several hours later the characters find their way down Pyrtanis street and in front of Enas Yorl’s house. As they walk up to the front of the house, a scroll case is tossed out from inside the house, from an upstairs window. The scroll is a map that leads them to a nearby sewer entrance. The map leads them back around and directly underneath the residence. There is a shimmering portal and a brown leather bag waiting for them. In the bag is a rod made of what seems to be pure gold and a lens of glass. The Group is startled by a voice in the air, which proceeds to gives them their instructions.

“Pick up the bag, use the rod to come home, and use the lens to see. Step through the portal, and do your best, as this can only be done once.”

They step through the portal to an underground room, musty and dank smelling. The walls are built from stone, and all indications make the Group think that this is an empty tomb. The Group ponders where they are, and even, when. The powers of Enas Yorl are mysterious, who knows what the old wizard is capable of.

The Group acclimates to the darkness, and gets ready to move on. The doorway opens to a second room and then leads to a corridor. An unknown language is carefully written on the walls here. No one can read the language; when Nickolas looks at the text through the lens Enas gave them, the words are clear to anyone using the lens. The text relates the history of the steel and the people, ending with a part about the secret being protected.

“Protected by what?” mutters Nikolas; the Group wonders with him.

More time passes; as the Group investigates the corridor, one of the walls slide open, and some creatures start plodding towards them. Walking on two feet, their bodies wrapped entirely in strips of cloth, the Protectors confront the Group.

“Mummies!” shouts Kalima.

The Group takes a defensive position and holds its own, fighting as hard as it can with the mummies. During the battle, Kalima drops with too many wounds; Jack goes into a wild battle rage, accidentally hitting Malkar once, just before Jack comes out of his rage. One of the rooms that opened up has a puzzle on the floor using runic pictures. The Group works it out, and another door opens to a long, dark corridor.

The Group congregates at the door at the end of the corridor when darts suddenly start shooting out from the walls and ceiling. Apparently, the door has a trap on it. The darts are poisoned, too, which was too much for the already injured Kalima and Jack, as they are knocked unconscious from them. Modig and Nikolas work on the trap, and finally succeed at opening the door safely.

Inside the door is one more room with a large pedestal, on which is displayed an old book. The book is from ancient Enlibar, and it contains the secret to Enlibar steel. The Group activates the rod, and is transported back to Sanctuary, directly into Gagino’s tent. Gagino closes shop immediately, and starts tending to his wounded daughter, Kalima. Modig runs out and fetches Dubro, who then sends for Alten Stulwig. Jack and Kalima are once again taken to the temple of Sabeillia for watched bedrest.

Dubro wastes no time and begins investigating the secrets of the ancient tome.In payment for their deed, Dubro will make each of the Group one weapon of their choice using the Enlibar steel secret. Enas gifts the group with a magical Handy Haversack.

The Group readies themselves for the Ball that evening, most of them completely out of their element with fancy clothes, food and even dancing. Elorin’s parents have set him up with a local Noble’s pleasant daughter for the evening. Jack is having a hard time on figuring out which of Marta’s wenches will make a good date. The Group has managed to hold one more ticket than they need to get in, and Modig decides to sell the extra ticket to Gastov.

The evening nears, and everyone makes their way to the Palace, at which point, everyone is searched lightly for weapons. The more common you are, the search seems to be a little more complete. A Ranken elite guard is performing the searches with the strictest set of rules.

The ball begins with a reception, including introductions, mingling and some drinks being passed around. The Group partakes liberally of the free drinks; Jack starts a little trouble, dancing a little too much. After too much time passes (as far as our Heroes are concerned), dinner is announced in an adjoining room. Everyone files in and is directed as to where to sit.

In the large diningroom, the Group is ushered to a table furthest away from the Prince’s table. All through dinner, the Group keeps noticing an oddness that seems to be surrounding the Prince. Doing some investigation and questioning, they determine that the Prince is an imposter. Even the Elite Guards are imposters. This is quite a plot to be pulled off.

In the crowd, Kalima recognizes the assassin from the street earlier, the one who shot at the Prince. Jack chums up to him, and learns his name is Tum. The Group recognizes him and they try to pass this information of their observations to the Palace Guards and nobles at the ball, but none of them seem to be concerned. The Magistrate is not accessible during the proceedings; after all they’ve done for him, he would probably believe them.

After dinner a long set of speeches are made by the retiring Ranken governor, the Magistrate, and the new Prince. During the speeches, Modig notices Gastov and several of his men at the tables near him. They are dressed to blend into the crowd. It’s obvious that the ticket they sold him was forged many times to get this many people into the event. Modig wonders what they are up to and keeps an eye out for their deeds.

Finally, the speeches end, and everyone is invited back into the reception room for dancing. This is where Jack really tries to impress his date. Elorin is occupied with his date, and the rest are free to continue to try to get someone to believe that the Prince is not who he says he is. Meanwhile, Modig sees Gastov’s men proceed, one by one, to disappear into the Palace proper; they’ll probably get some really good loot tonight. After a few hours, the Group finally gives up on convincing anyone of anything, and they decide to leave. All except for Elorin, who is obligated to stay with the companion his parents have forced upon him.

After they leave the ball, Malkar sets up to follow Tum. Malkor is lead to what seems to be Tum's residence on the East side, and then to a boat in the docks. After some time in the boat, Tum heads back to his East side residence, with Malkor still shadowing him. Malkor returns to the ship and looks around. What he sees is simply a cargo ship that is being loaded for a shipment out.This is odd, because most ships bring goods into Sanctuary, not the other way around.

The next day, the Group stakes out the ship and sees Tum leading a set of workers that are emptying out a warehouse near the docks, loading the ship with the goods. Jack gets himself hired on as a worker to see what he can find out.

All the boxes are goods from Ranke, which were probably brought in on the BlackGuard. It looks like in all the confusion, Tum has gotten an overlooked warehouse of goods that he is shipping out for his own profit.

Meanwhile, Kalima and Modig are still attempting to get in to see the Magistrate to see what is going on with this fake Prince. The Palace Guards continually send them away, and none of the Guards are the ones the Group is familiar with; it looks like the Palace Guard has rotated shifts and personnel. This makes it tough to see the Magistrate, as the Guards who used to let them in during their investigation of the Murder at the Vulgar Unicorn are no where to be seen. Eventually, the Group gives up on seeing the Magistrate, and focus on the warehouse that is being emptied.

Jack has enough information that he finally walks away and to the local Town Watch shack nearby. With the other members of the Group corroborating his story, the Watch and the Guards get involved.

After a while, a few Palace Guards show up to get the story straight from the Group. One of them is an old familiar Guard. He informs the Group that it has been discovered that the Prince and the Elite Guards are false, and the Palace Guards are setting up a trap to capture them all easily. The Group is encouraged to aid them by continuing to keep the work going, but to slow it down a bit.

It has been discovered that Tum and the fake Prince are in this plot together, and the imposter and the Elite Guards are planning an ‘inspection’ of the BlackGuard. It is suspected that at that time, all of the parties involved will try to sail off in the ship with all the stolen goods.

The Group starts a bit of unrest in the workers, and most of them end up leaving, as they think that they aren’t getting paid, even after working for a full day. Tum gets suspicious of what is going on, is arrested, and taken out of the way. The workers are sent home with half pay, with the provision they stay out of the area. The Palace Guards arrest the ship’s crew, and put them up out of the area also. The entire crew has been replaced with incognito Guards. The false Prince makes his way to the ship where the disguised Guards are waiting to arrest him and his fake Elite Guards. The imposter walks up the gangplank, and when his entire group is on the ship, the trap is revealed. A short burst of resistance is met with expedient and deadly force. The assembly of fakes all lay down arms and surrender. They are summarily arrested and taken away. The Group gets only a small reward, as the Palace Guards claim they knew all along, and were annoyed by the Group’s persistence, almost blowing the whole operation. The Group’s good graces with the Palace Guards seem to have come to an end.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Agricola Animeeples

Agricola! It's fun game. And those who pre-ordered it got little wooden farm animals (known as Animeeples - Meeples are to designate people, animeeples, animals. Geek gamer lexicon.), the rest of us got cubes to represent sheep, boars, and cattle. And now, you can buy them separately. I went and made some out of Sculpey III clay, and went farther than just the animals; I did ALL of the resources in Agricola:
Sheep, Boars, Cattle, Food, Wood, Clay, Stone, Reed, Grain and Vegetable.

We're still thinking about doing farmers...
Here are the pictures:

All the different ones. I kept the quantity the same as what I got in the game, 25 Sheep, 20 Boars, 15 Cattle.

Sheep! I did mostly white, but 5 black made it in the down. Yes, a Down of sheep is a proper collective term. It can also be Flock, Drove, Fold, and / or Hurtle. Checkit! (Yes, you get to learn reading my blogs... sometimes)

The cubes and animeeples boars are black in the game. Who heard of black pigs? Well, they're Boars, but these are much mo betta. IMNSHO. The entire herd is pink.

Cattle! Well, these came out okay, we're not as impressed with the cattle as we are with the pigs and sheep, but they're still loved. Mostly.

Food and Stone. Meran did the plates with the turkey legs and peas. I did the rocks.

Wood and Clay. The wood has some dual tonality to them to simulate wood grain. I give it a 7 out of 10. The clay are cool with the 'stamp mark' fresh from the brickmaker!

Vegetables and Grain. We did two kinds of vegetable, pumpkin and carrot. Because we wanted to. and Grain in sheaves, wrapped and bundled.

Reed and Wood. We already talked about the wood. The reed is used for roofing, so we made it flat and bundled. Kinda odd, but definitely unique!

The whole tile when we baked on the protective coating.

That's it for fun with clay. I know you are on the edge of your seat and can't wait to see them in person. So, let's play Agricola!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

DTXMania and Youtube

I've been you-tubed.
I didn't do this video, but all the exercises shown in the video I programmed up. He played them all on 'auto' which means the computer is playing the notes, but you can hear what it is supposed to sound like. And he played them all on the FASTEST setting, for time concerns, I am sure. The shuffles don't sound so good at 160 BPM.. Maybe I should take that speed out.. lol.

The program is called DTXMania, and I decided that with the RockBand / Guitar Hero fad going on, there is an opportunity to use this technology for learning, too. So, I started writing basic exercises and rudiments, and put them out there on some drum forums to see what the response would be like. So far, it's pretty limited, but Billkwondo seems to really like them a lot! So, that's something.

I plan to add more stuff as I go along, but here's some links for you: - The YouTube video showing snippets of the exercises. - The DTXMania files of the rudiments shown in the video - Download DTXMania

I think this might be the shortest post by me so far...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Murder At The Vulgar Unicorn - ACT IV

If you are just picking this up, I suggest reading the previous posts first!
Prelude : Characters : Act I : Act II : Act III

ACT IV – Final Confrontations
17th of Morothus - Falanday

There are three major items for the Group to attend to. First the Dyreelan temple has to be dealt with, probably violently. Second, Arion Swan must be found and arrested or otherwise attended to. Finally, the plague is still a threat to Sanctuary. They don’t know when or how any more infected animals will come into the city, but they will most likely arrive by sea.

The morning finds the Group preparing for tonight’s raid on the Black Temple. They are working the bazaar and finding that the city is rife with rumors of a new prince governor coming to rule Sanctuary. The rumors vary from a kind and gentle ruler from Ranke or terrible tyrant hell bent on ruling with an iron fist. With the city’s history of Ranken rulers, the latter is far more likely than the former, especially if the likes of Arion Swan are involved. The day is spent in Marta’s or the Happy Beaver rumormongering. Many times the Group tries to learn more about the Dyreelan’s, but not much if known in the city. The Cult has always been an underground religion and there is much of the lore is never known. What the Group does find out is that the religious practices often revolve around sacrifices to the Goddess Dyreela, and it is often one of their own that is sacrificed. Being sacrificed is a great honor, or so the information tends to indicate. The group readies themselves for a bloody confrontation with the Dyreelan’s this night.

The Group arrives shortly before dusk, and they watch the Dyreelan’s activities. After an hour of watching, groups of cultists start leaving in controlled groups. One group spots the Jack and Kalima and approaches the two. A fight starts and ends quickly, with four dead cultists. The Group encroaches on the burrows of the underground. In it they observe two entrances and scout 2 guards at each entrance. Two guards at one entrance are quickly slain with the aid of disguises of cloaks off of the dead cultists, thanks to Jack and Kalima. The other entrance is peppered with caltrops. A false alarm is raised, and they await the group inside to rush out. The group inside does not come out, and yells for them to fall back to them. The Group attacks the two other guards, and come in from the other side. Inside, Arion Swan and some other cultists are surprised by the rush attack. Two arrows drop Arion’s companion by his side, and the battle begins. One of Arion’s beastly Fenniath’s is present for the battle and rushes in for battle. The Group is busy with the cultists and the Fenniath. With the Group distracted, Arion takes off running down a back route. Kalima spots the fleeing Arion and starts single combat with him. Arion laughs and insults Kalima’s background, which makes her angry, and eventually she gets the upper hand, subduing Arion. The Fenniath and the cultists are all killed, but Arion is captured and taken to the magistrate for further… processing.

After Arion is taken away, the Group talks with the magistrate, and he has found out that there is a ship called the Blackguard that is supposed to be delivering the final shipment of pigs. He asks for their assistance in the capture of the ship, and the Group agrees. The city has constant watch on the sea for the BlackGuard, with several garrisons standing ready for when it is sighted. The wait is two days long before the Blackguard is finally sighted at dusk.

The Group and the soldiers of the garrison are waiting in a warehouse near the docks, waiting for the ship to moor in before they act. When the ship is fully docked, the warehouse bursts open, and the Group and dozens of soldiers rush up the dock and charge onto the ship. A massive battle ensues with sailors fighting to save their lives and Ranken soldiers trying to capture as many as possible. The Group isolates the leaders and engages them directly; all but a Nisbisi War Witch end up dead. The Nisbisi Witch jumps off the ship and escapes into the water. While the Ranken soldiers secure their captures, the Group focuses on the escaping Witch. After a few minutes, they manage to track her to the WideWay and then to a tavern nearby. They attempt to sneak up to her in the bar, she notices them and with a wild flourish, she starts her table on fire. This makes all of the other patrons in the busy bar to panic and thus starting a riot. The Group is caught in a mob of drunkards making a mad rush to the door, barely keeping their position and balance. The Witch tries another incantation but is interrupted by Jack running and tackling her. The rest of the Group aids Jack to complete the capture. Bound and gagged, they bring her into the Magistrate. He’s very impressed and rewards them with a generous cash reward. In addition to reward, they are given an honorary invitation to the new Prince Governor’s coronation ball, which is happening in three days’ time.

Upon leaving the palace the Group decides to celebrate at their favorite place in Sanctuary; Marta’s. The group hears a hiss and a thick, sharp thump sound in the ground. A crossbow bolt is sticking in the ground next to Malkar’s feet. They look around and Malkar spots a person on a rooftop scrambling away. The Group attempts to pursue them, but doesn’t catch them. This is the prime topic that dominates the lunchtime conversation.