Friday, February 10, 2012

The Journey: Part One

Our heroes had literally landed on Michael Briggs, a young man halfway through a journey to recover a fabled elixir of immortality. Evidence of his strife on his quest was evident in his dirty, torn clothes, unkept brown hair, and - most notably - a recently bandaged stump where his right shoulder would have given way to his arm. Along with him on his venture was a large cart filled with his belongings, including a huge wooden crate. Deciding that they had no other sure direction to head next, 109 joined the strangely up-beat traveler.

It wasn't long before they discovered the first of what would be many unpleasant surprises. Over a nearby ridge, Michael led 109 into a fight against an undead gifted. The creature was covered in armadillo-like plating, which was in turn covered in spikes. The monster was missing the lower half of it's jaw - an indication of how it likely died in the first place. After a quick battle, the group quickly disposed of the zombified creature. During the fight, Michael revealed that he too was gifted, shaping the earth and rocks with his bare hand into a weapon.

The group traveled until dusk, when Michael used his abilities to create a large domed structure for them to rest in. As he did so, he explained that at night, a terrifying unholy beast hunts. Apparently, it was this monster that took his arm a couple nights ago. 109 didn't argue the issue and entered the sturdy dome without complaint.

Before going to sleep, Michael struck up a conversation. He asked them about each of their respective abilities and explained his own - that he was an alchemist of sorts. He could shape and even change the compositions of whatever he touched, within certain limitations. When asked about the wooden crate, Michael explained that he was an artist. Before the journey, he used his gifts to create statues, and the box held his unfinished life's work. 109 discovered from Michael that gifted aren't especially common (other than the undead variety, that is), and he had never even heard of the Alon. - both a good thing and a bad thing for our heroes.

He also explained that the elixir he sought was rumored to be housed within an ancient castle on a deserted island. He had been on the road for several weeks before the mysterious creature attacked him, severely wounding his arm. He was only able to survive by using his remaining arm to construct a small shelter around himself on the fly before passing out. He had awoken the following morning to find the monster gone, but his arm badly infected. He had had no choice but to amputate it and use his gifts to superheat a nearby rock to cauterize the wound.

After a little bit of getting-to-know each other, the group fell asleep. In the night, Adriana awoke to the faint sound of flapping wings outside the shelter.


The group arrived at a town early the next morning. The town, Aiden, laid at the crossroads of several trading routs, and as such was a very busy and prosperous location. The center of the growing city was dedicated to a bustling and ever-changing marketplace. It is here that Michael stopped and set up a little booth of his own. Throughout the day, he sold small figurines he had obviously crafted, leaving 109 to explore the town of their own accord.

Flynn took Gasha around - or rather, Gasha took Flynn - to see the city. Included on their sightseeing was a puppet show and even a playground where Gasha garnered much respect and admiration from the other children with her superior climbing abilities. Flynn merely garnered strange and frightened looks due to his unusual appearance.

Rad and Hera headed to the town's military grounds where they were holding a shooting contest. In a town surrounded by gifted-zombies, self-defense was extraordinarily important, so they hosted a variety of competitions and training often. Rad easily swept the lower rounds of the contest, meeting his match with a non-gifted gunman, The contest eventually ended in a draw between the two and they celebrated together by heading to the nearest tavern, deciding that they were equal parts rivals and friends.

Adriana found her way to the slums of the city and luckily avoided several dangerous situations, including a shady man trying to sell her drugs before attempting to kidnap her. In self-defense, she killed her would-be-assassin and stole his coat, later modifying it to fit her and even aid in her own stealthiness.

Wade, a bit peeved at Adriana for leaving him on Lud almost immediately, stuck with Michael. When Michael had made enough money selling his figures, he sent Wade to shop for supplies.

When Michael had finally sold all of his wares, he packed up and did some shopping of his own, purchasing a veritable chemistry set, complete with test tubes, beakers, and the like. As night fell, he used the rest of his money to rent a couple rooms in a nearby inn.

Safely indoors, Michael and Rad shared a drink and became fast friends while the rest headed to the built-in bath house. The ones who went to bathe found the venture to be less relaxing than they originally planned, having to practically fight Gasha every step of the way to simply get her in the water.

They eventually all retired to their separate rooms, happy to finally sleep in proper warm beds for the first time in weeks.


Aaaaand I'm back once again.

The Journey (as I've finally began calling it) wasn't nearly the same success that Lud was. As you'll see (or recall, for those of you who were with me every step of the way), I kind of struggled with it, and it took me a while to finally figure out why, but I'll get into that in my final post about it. That isn't to say that I think it was bad - just not executed properly. Or at least, that's how I see it.

After my epic that was Lud, I wanted to have a drastic change of setting and pace. For the Journey, I was only going to have one NPC (save for Gasha and Hera) throughout the arc, as opposed to Lud's half-a-dozen or so. Additionally, the Journey was built to be just that: a journey. I originally planned on having a string of self-contained stories to flesh out the arc, but due to my lack of creativity, that plan sort of fell through pretty quickly.

The other goal of the Journey was to allow the characters to explore one another as individuals and develop their powers and personalities. Again, things didn't go quite as planned, and I blame myself for this. I somehow forgot that without an engaging and enthralling story for the players to take part in, there would be nothing to grab their interest. As such, the arc came across more as a chore than anything else.
The mystery surrounding Michael and the monster hunting him were easily the most interesting part of the arc, and in my opinion, the only thing that kept it together as a whole. I'm not sure if the payout was worth the effort (as of the time of this writing, the arc is already over), you'd have to ask my players to answer that.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lud: Part Five

In the dead of the night, Happy Force 109 returned to the old and broken-down shack they had discovered earlier that year ((see "A Little About Roger Whirm: Mysterious Man of Lud")). Lo and behold, the mysterious man was there, as if waiting for them.

Roger turned out to be an eccentric and optimistic man, despite his tragic past. After explaining that they wanted to find a way off of Lud, Roger told them of a possible way. He explained that when the Alon had removed his hard-earned gifts, they had not been 100% successful and that there was some residual powers laying dormant within him. With the right equipment - namely, the equipment he and his brother had used long ago - he could tap into his ability to create portals. Additionally, he would need to open the portal in the same location that he and his brother had performed their experiments, as reality itself had weakened over the years of their projects there. As fortune (or misfortune) would have it, the shop they operated out of years ago was the very same that Gog called home.

Roger gave 109 schematics for a complex frame that would aid him in opening a portal, as well as detailed maps of the street in front of Gog's workshop, pinpointing the exact spot it would need to be placed. Rad quickly got to work, jury-rigging the equipment needed while the rest worked on a plan on setting up unnoticed. They decided that early morning under cover of the snow and mist that had become the norm would be the perfect cover to attempt their escape. They chose a planet (one thay had visited before) as a destination and a hopeful means of safety. When Rad was finished with the frame and other equipment, they packed up and set out to leave Lud.

That morning, there was no snow-fall, but a thick fog provided them enough cover as they set up the complex equipment on the deserted street in front of Gog's now-destroyed shop. Rad, Hera and Roger prepared the device while Gog, Gasha, Wade, Adrianna, Flynn and Byra said their farewells to the island they called home for the past year. As always in these situations, things didn't go quite according to plan.

As the morning stretched on and the sun rose, beginning to burn away at their precious cover, Rad discovered an Alon security camera. After smashing it and alerting the rest, the group stepped up their efforts to set up as quickly as possible.

The Alon arrived just as they were finishing up and Roger began the task of harnessing enough energy to open the portal, giving 109 the unfortunate news that it would take him a few moments to fully open it. Even more unfortunately, the Alon had brought a small army to apprehend the powerful group of rogue gifted.

While Gog, Gasha and Hera took cover, Adrianna, Flynn, Rad, Wade and Byra fought to hold off the growing army. Using all of their powers, they fought a loosing battle. Byra even resorted to summoning her most powerful creature, Arkadios - the dragon adorning her back. Despite his immense power, Arkadios was eventually brought down and destroyed, and the army continued to advance.

Just as they were about to be overwhelmed, Kintaro arrived to help, accompanied by Corey at his side. The two may not have been strong enough to stop the army, but combined with 109's continued efforts, they were able to delay the march long enough for Roger to finally open the portal. Adrianna was the first through the portal, followed by Hera, Gasha, Rad, Flynn and Wade. Just before Gog and Byra were able to get through, however, a shot struck Roger in the back, closing the portal instantly and flinging 109 through a place in-between reality.

They landed hard in broad daylight. Around them stretched on rolling green plains. Above them towered a large tree growing to just one side of the dirt road they had fallen upon. On this road was a large wooden cart piled high with supplies, and literally under them was the cart's owner - handsome young man who only had one arm - the other was cut off at the shoulder and bound in bandages.


((Whoo. I can't believe I actually updated this! I again fell out of interest with 109 as my new arc played out and got progressively worse (no fault of my players, just my own mistakes) but now I'm getting back into it! Of course, my biggest inspiration to pick this up again has been one of my off-again on-again employees who had been reading some of these and essentially stroking my ego about it. That's always good motivation! Welp, on to talking about the session itself!

The final session of Lud was probably one of my more weak sessions, unfortunately. I feel that it fell victim to my own over-hype. In the weeks leading up to it, I had this grand and epic final battle in my head - one that was full of some powerful and over-the-top set pieces in it (like Byra summoning her dragon). Unfortunately, as is always the case, things didn't play out as they were in my head and instead, the whole fight seemed more like a grueling gauntlet instead of a struggle for survival.

After the session was run, I took a brief hiatus until I was able to talk to several of my players about it. I learned a lot from those conversations, possibly the biggest being that I should tone down the NPC big-damn-hero moments. Basically, my players were getting a bit tired of being saved my the NPCs, lol. After he pointed it out, I could really see it.

Nobody's perfect, and I'm still learning a lot from my storytelling experiences and (hopefully) becoming better at it as a result.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Little About Roger Whirm: Mysterious Man of Lud

In the spring, before the Golden Fall, 109 helped Byra search Lud up and down for her secret entrance. Since Lud was so large and magnificent to them, every day they discovered something new. On the day that 109 met Corey and Jake at the lake, they also discovered a run-down and overgrown shack built into the roots of a large tree just out of sight of the lake.

The shack hadn't been lived in for years, and most of it wasn't even intact any longer. The years and weather had made ceilings cave in, the door no longer stood on it's hinges, and the floor was covered in dirt and weeds poking through the warped and rotting boards. The only thing they found inside, apart from a few pieces of ruined furniture and a moth-eaten bed, was a desk filled with notes and papers.

They couldn't make heads or tales of the chicken scratch and diagrams drawn on the papers, but they were able to discern that the drawings were portals of some kind. At the time, irrelevant to their search, and thusly put out of their minds.

Months later, as Byra led the three out of Zolo's tomb riding on her summoned bird, Livius' back, they all received a vision of a silhouetted old man standing in that shack, telling them that when they needed him, he would be there.

That old man was Roger Whirm.


Roger grew up on Lud with his brother, William. At an early age, the two discovered and became fascinated with the concept of the gifted. Throughout their childhood, the two would fantasize about being gifted, pretending that they could do some of the incredible things the sometimes god-like creatures could pull off. Moving mountains, controlling the sea, fighting with beams of pure energy, and fighting the forces of evil were a natural part of their innocence-driven games.

Their obsession did not fade as they grew into their teens. The two began to work very hard to understand the gifted condition. What created gifted? What determined their powers? What was their purpose? They never found any answers to these questions, of course. Their research was still a product of boyhood dreams. They partly knew this, but were still determined to expand their understanding. The two got jobs and worked even harder, saving their money to further their research.

Eventually, Roger and William grew out of their teens and used their hard-earned money to buy a small workshop on the edge of the city. They used this as a base-of-operations to attempt to do everything from learning the answers to their burning questions, to even replicating some of the fantastical gifts themselves. At a young age, the two had determined that one of the most powerful and useful gifts thinkable was teleportation. They had decided that the ability to instantly travel from one point to another - even across worlds - was the gateway to wonderful power. So, naturally, that was the focus of their experiments.

After decades of trial and error, tears, sweat and blood, they were eventually successful. Roger and William perfected teleportation. They were finally gifted. Their work was finally perfected, and they were on top of the world - until the Alon arrived on Lud for the first time.

Roger and William both read and researched much on the Alon. They knew the danger and threat the Alon posed, and for the first time in their lives, they disagreed on what to do.

Roger, being the rational and logical of the two decided to turn himself in. He knew that the Alon had measures in place to not only track down gifted - even ones that could teleport - but stop them. William, on the other hand, was the proactive and headstrong one. He decided to flee. He was not successful.

Roger never found out what happened to his brother after the Alon caught him, but he assumed the worst. Following through with his instincts, Roger turned himself over to the Alon without a fight. The Alon took him happily enough, and did exactly what they promised: they 'cured' him of his 'condition'.

When the Alon were sure that they had removed the threat his 'curse' posed, they sent him back home. Old, broken, and his childhood dreams realized, then destroyed, Roger sold his and his brother's shop and left his memories behind, taking to life outside of the eyes of society. After that, he disappeared.

Unrelated to this post, here's Rad. Again, credit for the pic goes to Joe Bags.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lud: Part Four

"Come look at the giant birdies in the sky!" Gasha cried out as she burst into the room, putting an end to the long discussion being had about what to do about the situation on Lud. Everybody's heart sank to the bottom of their stomach as the small crowd that had gathered in Gog's small workshop followed her outside to see what they had already suspected.

The Alon were descending on the once-safe island of Lud.


The Alon invaded Lud with a military precision. They landed on the once-populated marketplace that served as Lud's docking platform. After clearing it away and commandeering a couple nearby apartment buildings, they erected a massive wall, complete with sentries and gates, around the area and transformed the white-cobble common into a makeshift port. They then evacuated the residents from the apartments and began shuttling them off the island to the safety of the mainland far away.

Once clear, the Alon transferred the apartments into a temporary refugee camp and processing center. They then systematically sent out word to the entire island, requesting any and all innocents to report to the gate for processing and evacuation of the once-beautiful island. They also sent an offer: that any 'cursed' willing to do so to turn themselves in without a fight so that they could be properly treated and cured of their 'conditions' peacefully.

Within a week, the Alon had successfully cleared out the city.


Flynn Triune and his father had settled on Lud a month before it departed that past summer. His father opened a little tea shop at the base of one of Lud's massive skyscrapers. Naturally, business boomed with tourist traffic over the course of Lud's journey across the sea. That is, until the golden leaves turned red.

Being newcomers to Lud, the two didn't really believe in the crazy superstitions about an omen or worse. Of course, their customers weren't so rational. For the next couple of months, business dwindled to a trickle and eventually stopped altogether when the streets were no longer safe. Flynn's father closed his shop and settled in for a long winter.

Then the Alon came.

Still terrified that his son would be taken away, Flynn's father formulated a plan to get them off of Lud. He had heard that innocent people were being taken out of the city and to safety. Since Flynn appeared a normal Cooreinian, his father thought that they would surely be able to sneak past the gate. He was wrong.

When they got to the massive, crowded gate, they found that the Alon had a series of checkpoints with a dozen different scanning and testing procedures in place to detect 'cursed' from slipping past. It came as no surprise to Flynn that one of their scanners picked up on his powers. Naturally reacting with fear, Flynn attempted to flee with his father. The Alon, however, were well prepared to stop him and easily separated him from his father.

Though the odds were against him, Flynn managed to escape thanks to the help of Gasha and Byra who had been scouting the Alon camp and saw the breakout attempt. Thanks to Gasha's intricate knowledge of the treetops and shortcuts through the city, they were able to escape to Gog's place undetected.


By the time the city was completely deserted save for Alon patrols, 109 decided that staying at Gog's workshop was suicide. Once clear of civilians, the Alon had began to forcefully search every building in the city. It was only a matter of time before they found their safe-haven. And so, undercover of a night-time snow storm, 109 and the rest packed up all their belongings and fled underground to Zolo's cave.

The following weeks were long, stretched on by the bitter cold brought from the cave and the fear of ever being found out. Rad was able to build everybody a tent and had begun working on a contraption that would simultaneously protect the cave from the Alon while allowing 109 safe passage up and down the river without Byra's help. The entire group also began planning how exactly they were going to escape Lud for good.

Meanwhile, Adriana, Flynn and Gasha set out to find Kintaro, hoping to bring him into hiding as well. When the finally found him, he was near death. Somehow, he had suffered a devastating wound in a fight (either against Hade or, more likely, against the Alon) and had escaped to his home. Fortunately, they were able to save him.

During his recovery, Kintaro continued to watch -with his gifted eyes- the gifted of Lud suffer and die at the hands of the Alon. When he had recovered enough, he attempted to leave, explaining that it was driving him mad to stay in hiding while so many died and fell. 109, however, coerced him into staying, knowing that if he left, he would surely die and could endanger their hiding spot as well.


Eventually, they came up with a plan to build several gliders and rafts to literally fly away from Lud and sail the ocean far away from the Alon. And as Rad began crafting the gliders, another obstacle presented itself when Gog fell ill.

Putting his project on hold, Flynn and Rad went to the surface and to Gog's workshop to retrieve some medicine. As fate would have it, the Alon had picked that day to investigate the shop. They entered the building while Rad and Flynn were inside and discovered the machine that had been hiding the gifted presence. Flynn and Rad had to fight their way out. Rad feared that if they shut down the machine, their location would be found out.

To make matters even worse, inspired by Kintaro's devotion, Corey and Jake, left the cave to attempt to help whoever was left on Lud. Kintaro and 109 set out to bring them back. In order to cover more ground, they split up. Kintaro went alone, telling them that after the children were found and safe, he wasn't going to return to the cave. Eventually, Rad, Flynn, Adriana and Wade found the twins, and of course, so did an Alon patrol. 109 sprung into action in attempt to save the children.

The fight was brutal, and truly revealed to 109 the immense danger that the Alon posed to gifted. Each Alon soldier was built like a swiss-army-knife, containing a number of weapons and defenses specifically designed to fight off common types of gifted. And, as they tragically found out, one soldier was equipped with a mortar-like weapon that fired water-evaporating grenades. A direct hit to Jake sucked out all moisture in his body and killed him.

Enraged, Corey's gifts evolved before everybody's eyes and he transformed into some kind of sea-creature/human hybrid and devastated the Alon soldier responsible. he then fled the battlefield and escaped into the city, leaving 109 to finish the fight with the Alon patrol.

Though they won the fight, 109 still felt defeated and more desperate than ever. They gave up the search for Corey and took Jake's body down to the cave, intending to lay him in Zolo's tomb.

But of course, fate yet again turned against them while they were there when another Alon patrol descended into the cave through the opening in the crypt. Before 109 could react, the spirits of a hundred animals rose from their graves and destroyed the patrol.

Rad, Adriana, Wade and Flynn never felt so exposed, and they decided ultimately that waiting any longer was simply not an option. They had to leave Lud, or they would die.


The Alon attack on Lud was probably the most tense situation I've ever created in an RP. Like the time just before their arrival, I feel that I was a tad too successful in creating the mood and began to even sense frustration and irritation from my players. Again, a success and a failure all at once, but I learned a lot.

As it's probably obvious, I had wanted to create a very oppressive and desperate situation. The mere fact that they were prepared to risk death at the hands of the freezing sea below in an effort to escape the situation is proof enough to me that I had done exactly that.

Well before Lud, 109 had run into Alon soldiers in spurts, and had wiped the floor with them. At the time, I was hardly concerned with developing a dangerous antagonist with the story and was leaving it up to reputation alone. When it came to Lud, I knew that it wasn't going to work well with simply saying "the Alon are dangerous!!1" and then pitting the gang up against easily defeated enemies. (I can't seem to find that happy medium ^^').

So, I apologize to my players for kind of dragging you around and beating you over the head with hopeless fights, but I promise, it was necessary!

Anyhoose, adding in Flynn was a huge thing for me. For the first two to three years 109 went on, I was determined to exclusively have Penny, James and Chris. After Pen and I moved away and our group dwindled down to the four of us, it was pretty easy to maintain that! Then Joe Bags started coming over too, and for some reason, it felt natural to bring him into 109. So far, I'm very glad I did. Him and his character provide a very good balance to the 109 group.

During the Alon attack, I imagine a great number of exciting stories taking place.

109 never did delve into what exactly happened to Kintaro. I imagine that he got into a massive battle with Hade and the Alon interfered. Kintaro was created as a humorous, goofy character but behind the scenes, he developed into a robust and dynamic character with a complex relationship with Hade. Every time Kintaro captured Hade and put him behind bars, Hade would eventually escape (seriously, he can phaze through walls. How do you contain someone like that?). After a while, they sort of became each others identity. Sort of like a Batman and Joker relationship: one almost can't exist without the other. So when the Alon took Hade (at least, in my mind - it's not set in stone!), Kintaro sort of lost it, and began to try and help his nemesis. He probably wasn't successful.

I also try and think from the Alon's point-of-view. Somehow, they knew that there were a lot of gifted hiding on Lud. They had to do something about it. Of course, you have to remember that the Alon see gifted as uncontrollable monsters and deadly weapons. To them, it was like descending into a powder keg with the fuse lit. At the same time, their honest priority is to protect innocent people and preserve the city of Lud as much as possible (which is why they didn't simply blow it out of the sky). The Alon went in with extreme caution, set up a perimeter that was monitored 24-7, and every precaution taken. They didn't start using direct force until near the end.

The gifted that did turn themselves in (and there were some) were treated as peacefully as possible. The reason they reacted with violence with Flynn was simply because he was trying to sneak his way past them. It's essentially the equivalent of trying to sneak a knife past security at the airport.

By the time Lud was evacuated, the Alon knew that whoever was left was going to try to actively resist. This is why they reacted violently with Jake and Corey. The Alon soldiers saw the two boys and bombs about to detonate. They handled the situation as carefully as they could, and when they were attacked, they instinctively tried to neutralize the threat before they got hurt.


New pic! This one of Wade! Mad props go to Joe Bags for drawing it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Little about Coorei: Swamp Planet of Horrors and Flynn: gifted of Coorei

Coorei is quite possibly the most popular (or at least most infamous) planet in the HFN universe. Originally, the old Happy Force Nine (consisting of Lucky, Ne' Sonya, Kaze and Yoda) traveled there to seek out a component for the wolfen gun. along the way, we've had two PCs and a handful of important NPCs hail from the swampy planet.

When I first created it, I developed the planet itself, but not the primary species. Credit goes to Noel for fleshing the cooreinians out as a people.


Coorei, as mentioned, is a swamp planet, meaning that most of the surface is covered in a thick mire. Massive trees (think redwood forest style) grow out of the marsh everywhere. The surface of the planet is home to hundreds of different extremely dangerous creatures. As such, the sentient species took to living in the trees.

The cooreinians are a race of bipedal lizard-like people. Exotic and powerful, they are by no means helpless - a testament to just how dangerous the creatures living below are. As a result of literally living above a swamp, their hair (yes, they have hair) is most commonly found in dreadlocks. Their immune systems are also very well developed from living on a very unsanitary planet. Though this is good for them, it isn't so good for non-indigenous species, as the cooreinians tend to be walking cesspools of bacteria and disease. Despite their somewhat barbaric appearance, the cooreinians have thrived as well as any other species and have even developed their technology to allow space travel.

During the great war, Coorei was a strong focus for the Alon, and Coorei has been forever scared from the battles that took place there. Some of the most violent and tragic moments of the war took place there where many lost their lives; Alon, Gifted and innocent alike.

In 109's time, the cooreinian people still fear both the Alon as well as gifted for fear that those terrible conflicts would occur again. So when Flynn was revealed to be gifted, his parents took extreme care to hide him. Eventually, Flynn's father heard about a safe haven for gifted: a floating island by the name of Lud. Soon after hearing of the safety the island seemed to give, Flynn and his father left Coorei to start a new life in the beautiful and wondrous city of Lud.


Flynn is Joe Bags' character. He's a teenage Cooreinian who can mutate into a giant beetle-like creature at will, thus making him the tank character of 109. It's also worth noting that Cooreinians have three eyes (which you can't see in the picture).

Picture by Joe Bags

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lud: Part Three

The red leaf Rad found was only the first of many. Within days, every leaf on every tree on Lud had shifted from the vibrant yellow that brought the Golden Fall it's name to a deep and unsettling red. For as long as anybody can remember, Lud's leaves were always yellow, so the people of the island naturally reacted to the color change with fear. Many called it an omen. Why else would such a strange phenomenon happen? No matter the reason for the change, people didn't take it well. Lud's warm, friendly atmosphere slowly drained away to a chaotic panic.

Many took advantage of the situation and the streets became filled with looters, burglars, and muggers. Lud was no longer a safe place to be. Leading the charge was Hade, who had somehow managed to create a following and promoted himself from petty thief to super villain. As a result of this, along with the dramatically increased crime rates, Kintaro became very overworked and almost impossible to find.

In the beginning stages of the downward spiral, Jodi visited Gog's workshop to issue a goodbye, telling them that she was again going into hiding with her child, but did not plan on letting anyone know where.

109 also met Gray, a disturbed violinist gifted who had the power to manipulate people's actions and emotions by playing his violin. Over the course of the last few months, Gray caused a bit of trouble for our heroes, merely adding to the unpleasantness of the situation. At one point, he even harmed Gasha with a knife when she got too close to touching his violin. In her panic, she ruined a whole city street while growing massive trees to protect herself.

To make matters worse, Renato (mafia guy from 109's past) revealed that he was on Lud. He invited Rad to a party in a swank apartment in one of Lud's taller buildings. When Rad arrived, Renato treated him as a guest of honor, claiming that none of it would have been possible without Rad. (To be honest, I think this happened before 109 went underground with Byra...) Later, after Rad had given Hera enough money to help her father, Renato invited Rad back to the apartment for another party. This time however, he revealed that Hera was one of his agents and had been giving him all of the money Rad had been saving for her. Humiliated and heartbroken, Rad left and began to plot against Renato. Gog had to interfere to stop Rad from setting fire to the apartment.

Eventually, Hera approached Rad and was able to explain that Renato is (of course) gifted and that he seemed to be able to control her to a certain degree. After spilling her heart out to Rad - and revealing that she was actually an orphan who had been 'broken out' by Renato - Rad forgave her and took her in to shelter at Gog's.

Adriana and Wade each had issues of their own. Adriana began to notice strange tattoo-like dark colorings appear on her arms, beginning with he fingertips. Ashamed and afraid, she resorted to covering them with gloves and long-sleeve shirts. Wade's arm also seemed to  take advantage of the situation and began to mutate, briefly taking control of him, growing legs and the ability to create a swarm of locust-like bugs.

As time went on, things continued to get worse and worse, even after all of the red leaves had fallen and blown away and snow had begun to fall. Gog was even more downtrodden than usual. Byra had secluded herself in her room, going through the mountains of books she had. Corey and Jake's guardian was killed in a break-in, and the shock-struck twins took to living at Gog's shop with all the other gifted. even Gasha wasn't acting like her usual, innocent, gleeful self. The dark situation worsened, bringing down and affecting even 109 until finally, the unthinkable happened.

The Alon arrived.


Dun dun dunnnnn!

I struggled with this part while running the sessions. I was trying to create an unstable and uncomfortable feeling, while still making it enjoyable to my players. I feel that I succeeded on the former, but didn't on the latter. It wasn't until towards the end of the 'arc' that we actually had a really good session in which everybody was talking and trying to figure everything out. It was a good learning experience, though.

Another goal I had in mind was to try and stretch this part along as a sort of 'dark counterpart' filler to the first part of Lud where I introduced the entire cast. This led to the introduction to Gray. I needed an antagonist they could see and fight before the Alon.

I was very pleased with the whole bit with Rad, though. He reacted pretty much exactly like I expected, but got over it faster than I had prepared for. Hera ended up paying back all of the money she 'stole' and even plead her love to Rad - after he had forgiven her, so you know, kudos to James.

Easter Egg Theater!

Gray was pulled directly out of another RP! A while back, James ran a forum-based RP on called Trials of the Soul. In it, each character would be brought into a temple - one of light, and one of dark. Since Penny and I were the only two in the RP, he had Penny's character go to the light and my character, Gray, go to the dark. James did a masterful job of directing our characters towards each alignment, and before I realized what was happening, Gray had become a dark, emo, villain! I figured he was a perfect fit for the mood I was creating in Lud, so there he is!


I finally drew Byra! I'm really happy with how she turned out, despite the difficulties I had.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Little About Gog: Guardian of Steel and Gasha: Guardian of Wood

The only person to ever know Gog and Gasha's story was Rad. Sometime during part one of Lud, Rad was helping Gog perform maintenance on some components in his head and Rad received an electrical shock that literally planted a memory from Gog into Rad's mind. Rad never shared this memory with anyone else, possibly due to the personal nature of the memory.

So here it is.


Gog can't remember much of his childhood before he was re-constructed with cybernetics. All he can recall of his parents was that they were skilled mechanics and brilliant engineers. They knew Gog was gifted with the affinity to manipulate metal and steel with his will, and they nurtured his talents as any good parent would.

The Alon first arrived on Lud when Gog was still very young. At the time, Lud was teaming with gifted, and the ensuing raid was the most violent skirmish in the city's history.

Desperate to keep Gog safe, his parents were placed on the losing side of the fight. Tragically, they were unable to keep the Alon away from their son, and the Alon apprehended the young Gog. Defiant and powerful, Gog fought back. Unfortunately, the Alon were not defeated and Gog was killed and his body mutilated in the resulting battle.

The next thing Gog can remember, he had been rebuilt and given new life, but his parents were gone. Gog never found out what actually happened to them, but he suspects that they lost their lives protecting him a second time. Gog took over a small, abandoned shop that his parents had worked in and began his life alone. Every so often, he would upgrade himself to accommodate his still-growing human body.

In the aftermath of the Alon's raid, Gog was able to salvage some of their technology, and despite the fact that he never fully understood their advanced tech, he was able to reverse their tracking signal to create a 'blind spot' of sorts around Lud.

Years later, he found a very young girl stuck in a tree. He spent the entire year searching for her parents, and only gave up well after Lud had docked at it's annual destination. Gog named her Gasha, and took her into his home to live. They have been together ever since.

Inspired by the bravery and conviction of his parents, Gog now makes it his business to safely house any and all gifted he can each year.