Sunday, March 27, 2011

Early work on "Biremediation"

Early Draft on my "Anti-Zombie Apocalypse" story...

Bioremediation  (bī'ō-rĭ-mē'dē-ā'shən)
The use of biological agents, such as bacteria, fungi, or green plants, to remove or neutralize contaminants, as in polluted soil or water.

“I swear I saw lights up ahead there.”  Lt. Daniels wiped a soiled rag across his face, smearing the mud around more than removing it.  Looking up at the sky he saw nothing but clouds and the drifting of snowflakes.

“Probably another “Omega Man” type.  We’ll barter for supplies with this one.  No sense in wasting ammunition if necessary.”  The Sarge nodded ahead trough the tree line and looked expectantly at Daniels.

“Damnitt I hate being the low man on the totem pole…”  He groused before slipping his night vision goggles down and moving ahead of the four man unit.  Daniels had not gone three feet before the first moan became clear.  “Fuck…”  He whispered and raised his rifle.  “We have Zeds!”

The Unit ran together, Sarge, Daniels, Coop, and Lilly formed a tight bunch and tried to find cover.  The problem was, the woods were full of scraggly trees and branches.  Not strong enough to climb, and hardly any damn cover to be found.  Enough downed branches to make movement an issue however, in addition to the snow.

“Daniels, how many?”

“Just the first shamble but…”

The groans started, followed by the growls.  The group as one dropped their goggles down and opened fire.
The first rule of surviving zombies, it never really matters how many were spotted, there are always more coming.

“Head out of the trees!”  Sarge yelled.  “Head towards that light!”  He could see the light on the horizon as well, and the group charged towards the dim beams in the blowing snow.  Lilly was snarling and suddenly he heard the ”saw” fire up.

“God-Damnitt Lilly!  We don’t have a lot of ammo for that minigun left!”

“You wanna fuckin’ plough through the dead heads and these fuckin’ trees, be my guest!”  She shouted back while still firing.  “I’m clearing us a God-Damned path of both!”  Sarge felt her move and then suddenly they all were running down the gun mown path, ignoring the growls and moans of the dismembered dead they ran over.  The armored boots crushed skull and bone, as well as protecting them from grasping arms and flailing entrails.  The military got that right at least, armoring their soldiers.

Too bad armor didn’t do shit against a virus.  One drop of infected blood, one bit of infected tissue, even a tear was enough to transmit the virus.  Then you had forty eight hours before you died, and one hour before you came back dead, hungry, and angry as hell.

Clearing the tree line the unit staggered into an open field with ragged netting on rusted soccer goals standing at either end.  The lights were still a bit off on the other side of an old parking lot on a remarkably intact building.

Someone was standing on the steps leading up to glass façade and looking at them through binoculars.
“Head to the building!” Sarge ordered.

“No SHIT!” yelled Coop who whipped around and lobbed a grenade at the following pack of Zeds.  The explosion ripped into the rotted flesh and blew viscera everywhere mixed with mud, snow, and wood.   The sickly smell of rotting meat blended with burning flesh and wood. 

“Coop you ass!”  Daniels yelled, ducking the flying bits while running across the open lot.  “Was that our last Grenade?”

“Last of the military grade!”  Coop laughed and patted his backpack filled with his scavenged gunpowder made bombs.

That was when the arrow shot past Coops shoulder, slammed into the head of a Zed emerging from the ground by his boot, and ricocheted into the pack regrouping from the grenade before it exploded into something green and sticky.

The film flew into the first few members of the Zed pack and where it hit, the flesh began to dissolve.  Despite what any zombie film may say, it’s really hard for a Zed to move without any muscle, and the green stuff ate right down to the bone in seconds, filling the air with a stench never intended by any God or Devil.

Coop paused to stare before Sarge grabbed his collar and drug him across the parking lot to the steps where the figure stood.

Clad in black and wearing night vision goggles, the figure looked down at the four military members staggering up to where she stood.  That was all they could tell about the figure as the outfit was baggy and concealing except for the feminine curves.  The full face mask except for the goggles didn’t help them in any type of recognition either.

The woman lowered her longbow and then drew a strange sidearm that looked like the bastard child of a water pistol and a nerf gun from her hip and aimed it at the group just as they reached the stairs.  Pressing her ear she whispered quietly before nodding.

Finally looking at the group the woman said “Get inside.”  The voice brooked no argument of her orders.  Not like any of Sarge’s group would have argued anyway.

Rule two of surviving Zombies, if you find shelter, take it.

As soon as they entered the high glass façade of the building, two other people dressed in black quickly came up, leveled the same odd weapons at the group before the first woman went over and bolted the door behind them.

“Lady that fucking glass door will never hold.”  Coop said, trying to make out the Zed pack in the snow.  His vision was obscured by the blowing wall of white before there was a loud squawk and a set of speakers in the ceiling flared to life. 

“Good Lord, watch your language young man!”  The voice said in a professorial and fatherly tone.  “There are ladies present, even in your own group!”

“Oh ow…  my virgin fuckin’ ears…”  Lilly sarcastically drawled while looking at the black clad figures.  They were taking off the facemasks one at a time, making sure at least one of them always had that weird weapon aimed at the group.

The speakers resonated with an exasperated sigh. “Can’t say I don’t TRY to keep some respectability about here.  O.K. team check them out, and if they clear use decon procedure 2.  Contact me if you need anything.  I’ll be…”

“In the lab Dad…  I know.”  The archer had finally taken her mask off.  Auburn hair and bright blue eyes looked up at the speakers as if this type of conversation were normal.

“No, not the lab, the kitchen.  I’m cooking dinner smartypants, for us and our guests… if they clear decon that is.”  The woman laughed and shook her head before turning to the group of military personnel.

“Uh…”  Sarge began before the woman holstered her weapon and gave a hard stare at the group.

“Welcome to what we call the Lair.  The man on the speaker is my father, Dr. Aryk Halverson.  My name is Freya Halverson and yes I love both my father and mother who are both alive and here.  Yes we try to save people who come here, and no the glass doors will not hold if a Zed attack came, but it won’t come because we are well defended here.  No I won’t tell you by what until you all come with me, strip down, and get into the thing that looks like an automated carwash for people.”  With that she marched out of the room and held the next set of doors open, looking at the four officers expectantly.

“Um… Strip?”  Daniels was able to get out before one of the young men in black on the side of him sighed and nodded.

“It’s to see if you have had any contact with the Zed virus via bite, scratch, or other means.  That and you really don’t wanna ride the decon 2 unless you like having your clothes soaked.”  He paused and looked at Lilly before smiling.  “You can each go separately and in privacy if you’d like.”

“Hell yes I would like.”  Lilly grunted as she pushed past the rest of her team and handed her weapons to the other young man standing at the door.

“LILLY!” Sarge roared.  “You just gave our weapons and limited ammo to an unknown agent!  Get back in line soldier!”

“Sarge… fuckoff.  These people obviously have been here a while, they have their own weapons, and you didn’t spot the three snipers at the top of the stairs covering your balding ass.  They can have the fucking saw if they want if it means I’ll finally be clean after three God forsaken weeks in this zed ridden hellhole.”

Sarge stared at Lilly openmouthed and then looked up the staircase to his right.  Two more men and a woman waved down at him from the metal balcony while holding longer and fiercer versions of the odd sidearm the others had.

“To be honest you may have wanted to stay outside.”  Freya smirked at the group.  Immediately the four officers all tensed up.  Everyone here dressed in black, they had odd weapons, they were not worried about the zeds, this whole place smacked of wrong and this odd woman was about to drop the bomb on them.  

“My dad’s cooking is pretty bad.” She stated before ushering Lilly into the decon chamber and closing the door on Sarge, Coop, and Daniels.

No one had noticed the growls and moans of the Zeds outside had stopped.
“It’s all really simple.  I worked for the military when the outbreak hit, and then the command structure fell apart when the virus struck the upper echelons.”  Dr. Halverson gestured to the bottle of wine at the end of the table which Coop gladly uncorked and began to pour.  

The diners sat in a modified cafeteria where at least forty other people dined as well.  Only some were clad in the strange black uniforms, but all seemed to be listening in to the newcomers’ conversation.

“Tell us about it.”  Sarge grumbled through a slice of garlic bread.  “We’ve been wandering for like three days without any contact with anyone.  Its hell on Earth out there… but here…”

Dr. Halverson sighed.  “It’s a prison in here as well until I get the problems with what I’m working on figured out.  I was able to get my family and some friends and make it here to the first university I taught at.  It’s small but functional, and the greenhouse as well as the location of many food suppliers nearby came in handy.  Not to mention the medical technology companies we were able to “harvest” from for both our rescue and research needs.”
Mrs. Halverson smiled and shook her head.  “My husband would bore you to death with the technical details if you let him.  We’re safe and secure here, and we try to rescue survivors or put down infected as much as possible.  We have not really expanded our borders yet past the university grounds but it’s a start.”

“I just still can’t believe you’ve done so much in this hell already doc!”  Daniels said over a piece of meatloaf.

Dr. Halverson shrugged and sighed.  “I just want to do more if I can.”

“Ever the hero complex dad.”  Freya sighed and grinned.  “He’s not happy saving one or two people from the Zeds, he wants to save us all.”

“And I will if I can.”  The Doctor quipped while toasting with his glass of water.

“Yeah… good luck with that.”  Lilly muttered sarcastically.

“Excuse me young lady?”

“Doc, if you had not noticed, the world has gone to hell.  There is no law and order out there anymore, only survival.  Do you know what we would have done to you and your family if we found out you were not armed and protected?”

A laugh echoed in the dining hall and all eyes fell on one of the older troopers sitting at an adjacent table.
“Probably the same damn thing me and my men tried when we got here.”  The man patted the stump where his right arm should have been and looked meaningfully at Sarge, Lilly, Daniels, and Coop.  “The Doctor is not stupid, and knows damn well what desperate folks will do.”

“What Tyler means is I know how to defend myself and my family.  I may not be a fighting man, but I have my ways and my toys.  I also know to treat people like people… otherwise Tyler would never had stayed here after that little incident.”

Tyler laughed and nodded.  “Hard to argue with a man who saved your life when he could have killed me.”
“Look, I know it’s getting all “Lord of the Flies” out there, and that’s one of the many reasons I am trying to maintain civility in here.  We have food and energy thanks to the greenhouse and some quick thinking on my wife’s part.”

Mrs. Halverson shook her head.  “You built the solar panels, I just mentioned them as an option.”

“We have weapons, and space, and we have books as well as supplies thanks to this being a university.  We have a little city in other words, and so I try to keep laws and peace here.  I’m no king or emperor, and I don’t lord it over the folks who choose to stay.  Simply put, you can stay if you’re willing to work to help us all.  You can leave whenever that stops working for you.”

Lilly shook her head.  “Not much of a choice really.  Where do you go when the choice is a safe haven or being eaten by Zeds?”

Doctor Halverson shrugged and sighed.  “I can only do so much.  If people are desperate to find something wrong they will inevitably.  I can’t magically send you somewhere so you can live how you like, but I can offer security here if you follow the simple rules.”

Sarge looked at his unit.  This place was just getting weirder and weirder, and this doctor just seemed too God-Damned… nice to have made it this far.  Someone this nice did not become the leader of a community of survivors, or recruit men who tried to kill him, or even trust a bunch of AWOL soldiers coming in from nowhere.

“How are you protecting your area Doc?”  Sarge asked finally.  “How do you keep all this and keep the Zeds out?  How the hell do you keep all this at all and not deal with human greed or desperation?”  

“How the fuck are you all so happy!”  Lilly shouted suddenly.  “Don’t you know the world is dying out there!  The dead could come and kill us all while we’re playing happy neighborhood here!  Why do you have fucking hope!  There IS no hope!  All we can do is survive!”

The room went quiet for a long moment and then Dr. Halverson began to laugh.

“Every Zombie survival guide, every movie, every book, every comic or cartoon ends up saying that same very thing doesn’t it?  We have all of them in the library you know.  I’ve studied them all, from the most outlandish to the military documentaries of the initial outbreaks we’re living in.  I’ve seen the data projections and know full well that almost every scientist, military man, politician, and even religious man has said we are living in the end of days. That there is no more hope.  That humanity is about to be swept aside by its own dead and, as you say young lady, all we can do is survive.

“I have only one reply.  Bullshit.  People have been looking for ways to simply survive, not to fight back.  Don’t give me our weapons are useless or that if we die we only add to their numbers, those are only problems in an overall equation that no one has looked at totally.  Not even me I hasten to add, but I have been looking at it from a different angle.  This is not a punishment from God, or science gone amuck, or any other reason you can think of.  I am treating this plague like a toxic contamination gotten out of hand and nothing more than that.  To that end, I have asked a simple question…  How do you deal with contamination of this magnitude?”

“Doc are you telling me…  are you saying you have a cure?”  Sarge stammered.  Coop and Daniels looked at the doctor in a terrified manner while Lilly stared open mouthed.

“Of course not.  There is no cure for being dead.”

“So?  Why hope?”  Lilly whispered.

Doctor Halverson smiled again.  “Toxins kill, and in doing so spread.  We have dealt with this in nature before and have found ways to clean up the toxins and eventually the environment.  It’s the same thing here and…”
An alarm went off and Dr. Halverson smiled before standing up and gesturing to the windowed wall behind the diners.

“Talk about ideal timing.  See for yourself what I mean.”

The snow was still blowing like mad, but even through the wall of white visible outside the converted cafeteria people could make out the shambling horde of Zeds marching across the fields towards the lights on the exterior of the building.  The moans were barely audible through the glass but everyone in the room shuddered knowing what that meant.

The Zeds smelled them, and were hungry.

“Fuck… we are so dead.”  Coop whispered looking down the entire length of the wall and finding the outside space crawling with the dead heads.

Before panic set in, suddenly the front row of Zeds in view vanished.  Pulled down into the snow before explosions of viscera and gore erupted from where they once stood.  Some… things came up quickly after and slammed into the packs behind.

There was no sound other than the moaning of the Zeds and their quiet dismemberment by the blurred forms moving through their ranks.  It was over in moments.  What once was a sizeable Zed horde was reduced to gore splatters and rendered limbs in moments.

And then one of the things came up to the windows with an arm in its mouth, trotted along the edge until it found a door, and then sat in the driving snow before pawing gently at the glass.

“What… the fuck… is that?”  Whispered Lilly staring at the beast.

“That.”  Said Dr. Halverson, finishing off his glass of water and then walking to the door.  “Is Hope.”

Opening the door Dr. Halverson let the creature in, who seemed to trot inside gaily before squeezing its jaws shut and snapping the limb in its mouth.  In a feat of dental dexterity, it quickly flopped the bits side by side and sucked them into its maw before crunching happily.

“Hope?”  Doctor Halverson said while patting the thing’s head affectionately.  “You’ve been a very good boy tonight Haven’t you?”
“The Doc is off his God-Damned rocker if he thinks those… those THINGS can stop a horde of Zeds.”

“Damnitt Coop are you fucking blind?  Those things DID stop a wave of Zeds!”

“Shutup both of you!”  Sarge barked at his men.   “That thing was not alone if you remember… I counted at least two more of those… creatures before the Doc’s pet came trotting in.”

“Eater of the Dead…”  Lilly whispered.  Coop looked over at her huddled on the bunk provided by the doctor.  They were stationed in an old conference room above the library.  The table and chairs were moved aside and bunks were set up for them.  Lilly was sitting on one of these with her arms wrapped about her legs and a distant look on her face.

“Oh crap don’t go mental on us here Lilly.”  Coop whispered as he came to her side.  She flashed him a look that would have melted iron before tossing a book at his feet.  “If any of you idiots took the time to actually fucking read or talk to the people here you would know what those things were.  The Doc doesn’t hide it.”

“What do you mean Lilly?”  Sarge asked while picking up the book.  It was a text on Egyptian mythology.
“The Doc was a geneticist before.  He even looked at the virus causing this hell.”  Lilly spat and rubbed her head.  “I got that from his daughter and the names of those things.”  She gestured to the book and looked at the men about her.  “Freya could see I was freaked out and tried to comfort me with information.  It kinda worked… but now I’m freaked out for a different reason.”

“A book on myths?  How the hell does this help?”  Sarge asked.

“Page 394 jackass.  And those things are called Ammits…  Eaters of the Dead.”

--->Will continue when I have more

Thursday, March 3, 2011

2 weeks of game updates

I'm bad I know... I need to update these game play journals more regularly, especially if I want to accurately get things down.  I already know I'm going to wind up embellishing a bit here and there, but hey that makes a good story right?

From 2/20/11
O.K. so Myra and David were at the Carnival of Dr. Lao.  Myra speaking with the strange Lemurian doctor and David watching the backside of the snake "charmer" while dealing with a blue monkey-cat.  Myra left the wagon of Dr. Lao without really letting him know of her ties to law enforcement, but promised to come back later to speak with him about employment.

After meeting with David and going over what he had found from the carnival flyer given to him by Dangle they decided to forgo any of the carnival shows and get back to town to find an inn for the night.  To quote Myra "I'm in no mood to deal with assholes this evenin'." and so they decided to find a place OTHER than the Fuzzy Quarterstaff to stay.

Questioning a local elf passing by they were directed to the Hearthstone Inn which served more of the "non-human" crowd of the area.  The Hearthstone was built into the side of a hill with a large door and windows embedded right into a rock face with a facade of crystalline runes etched into the stone about the door.  Upon entering they found a wood-floored main room with a second story in the back above a long bar made of polished marble.  Several tables were about the room with mostly non-human members sitting at them drinking or eating.

Behind the bar was a woman of the "Obsidimen" who looked to be made of a lovely rose quartz and she wore a white apron.  This was Rose, owner of the Hearthstone, and she set up Myra and David with rooms right away for a good rate.  Myra ordered water, but David decided to try his pallet against the local dwarven whiskey.

3 Dwarves at a nearby table saw this and quickly whispers began with subsequent money changing hands.  (Quick note, the dwarves here, as mentioned elsewhere are more of the "Norse Myth" type, but picture rough and tumble dwarves with thick braided beards and hair in western finery.  Yep...  10 gallon hats, boots, vests...  You get the idea.  Oh and these guys I played with a HEAVY Minnesotan accent.  Think of the voices from "Fargo" and you'll be on track.)

What blew me away here was the dice love Zath got for David...  Every roll I added more and more difficulty and I'll be damned if he did not get 3 rolls in a row to stay standing from this whiskey that would have stripped paint.  Myra was busy speaking with Rose and getting information while David was getting nice and toasted, and every time he slugged one back and made the roll the reply I had was "Over at the table with the dwarves... money changes hands."  This became the catchphrase for the evening, and even leaked into my WoW playtime when I saw Zath on...  as in "Hey Zath!!  Money changes hands man!" followed by laughter from us and dumbfounded looks from the rest of our guild.

Anyway we had to cut this evening short, and ended with Zath FINALLY failing a roll and the dwarves hoisting him up and carrying him to David's room for 2 dollars from Myra...  after money changed hands of course.

5 kids have disappeared.  3 dwarven kids,  1 human child, and 1 lemurian child.  the Human was a small boy named Robert Wagner, a noted little hellion and the Lemurian was a girl named Ki'Lynn who often played with Robert.

Rose owns the Hearthstone Inn with her younger brother "Lil' George" who is nine feet tall and 4 feet wide... a giant if you will of an Obsidiman, but is soft spoken and very gentle.

The 3 Dwarves who were betting on David to crash from alcohol poisoning are named Enoch, Malachi, and Bobby.  They are "Old Boys" in the dwarven community and also foremen for the local mine.

From 2/2711

In the morning Myra wakes a rather inebriated David by getting a pail of water from Lil' George and dumping it on David.  This gets him up as Lil' George announces the bath is open, but if they wanted hot water they had better hurry.  Myra takes this opportunity to do so while David deals with the mother of all hangovers.  Myra is quite pissed at David from his behavior (He's a PINKERTON damnitt) and lets him know such before going downstairs.

She find the three dwarves from last night playing poker but they quickly tell her that they wanted to speak with her about the trouble at the mine.  They found out she was a Pinkerton from 1) She's a human and staying at the Hearthstone and 2) Rose told them.

They explain to her that the "Sheriff" knew about the disappearances for 3 weeks now and had only just contacted outside law because of threats from the Lemurian parents.  The three dwarven kids were sons of local miners and the boys names are Magnuson, Eli, and Little Georgi (Not to be confused with Lil' George).  the thing that was in common was that each of the fathers of the missing sons had found and brought up from the mine a strange rounded black crystal.  They seemed reluctant to let others handle these crystals but did let the foremen examine them.  Enoch, Malachi, and Bobby all agreed that the things seemed harmless and so let the miners keep them.  2 days after that decision the children vanished.

David FINALLY comes downstairs at this point and Myra gets him up to speed on this information before she heads out to meet with lieutenant colonel Wainwright at the Fuzzy Quarterstaff.  She leaves, still pissed off about how David acted last night and the dwarves helpfully inform David that there is a flower shop around the corner... HINT HINT.  David takes the hint, but also sets out to meet with the Lemurian parents of Ki'Lynn.

David gets to the area of New Hope where stands 2 lemurian style houses (a mixture of Asian and ancient roman architecture).  One is white and gold, and the other is red and brass and belongs to Ki'Lynn's family.  David presses a button by the side of the door and some subtle chimes sound within the house (A doorbell!  Who knew!).  A red eyed (from crying) lemurian woman without a head covering (showing off her reptilian crest and cranial scales... how shocking!) opens the door.  David explains who he is and she lets him in introducing herself as Su'Lynn.  As he enters he sees the spartan style of the house and is met with fierce eyes from a male lemurian on a couch sharpening a wicked double bladed sword.

This is Ka'Lynn, Ki'Lynn's father who pointedly asks if David is law enforcement, why they took so long to get here, and why there is only David and his partner.  It is obvious that Ka is furious with the current sheriff (Wainwright) and bluntly asks if he has his right to contact his OWN law enforcement now.  David says yes, to which Ka leaves the room leaving David with Su.  Su explains that Ka doted on his daughter and is heartbroken from the loss.  She vanished from her room after her and the human boy brought home the strange round black crystal.  Su took the crystal and gave it to thier neighbors, local scholars, to analyze.  the real issue arises when Su informs David that Ka is ex Special Ops Military from Lemuria.  In essence, a royal assassin, and the fact that his daoughter vanished from his house under his watchis driving him mad.  It does not help that the Sheriff does not care to really begin searching and has only bowed to pressure when Ka practically threatened Wainwright's life. Ka is now calling via a small Aether array his fellow warriors to come help him search... which is akin to calling in a platoon of highly trained green berets to raze the town until his daughter is found.  Basically something that could damn well lead to open war between the states and lemuria again...  something Su does not want but she knows how hurt her husband is.

David promises to do all he can when Su tells him to hurry.  they have at best two days before Ka's "friends" get the message and come to New Hope.  Before leaving, Su gives David a box that has the crystal and tells him not to touch it with his bare hands as it seems to amke people want to hide and keep it if they do so.

Outside David get stopped by a Lemurian from the white house.  the fellow is a scholar and offers to help in any way, and thrusts a ream of papers (in lemurian no less) that he says are the readouts from his investigation of the crystal.  David leaves, looking very puzzled from the writing and goes to the Hearthstone to wait for Myra.

Myra meanwhile exercises her fae and illusionist talents, and places a glamour on herself and her horse to make her appear to be a gorgeous blond haired Southern Belle and her horse to become a beautiful white mare.  She then goes to the Fuzzy Quarterstaff to find Wainwright, only to be told by the stunned doorman (stunned by her beauty of course) that Wainwright is in the jail next door.  Myra smiles politely and heads next door, running into lieutenant colonel Wainwirght (Picture Errol Flynn or Clark Gable with a facial scar marring the right eye).  Myra announces herself as Myra Varney of the Varney family line and proceeds to grill Wainwright.  Let me be blunt here...  BA tore Wainwright a new hole without ever really cussing him out.  I know she IS a Southern girl but DAMN did she rip him up and chew him out and STILL be polite about it!  It was also at this point that I found out that I FORGOT TO RECORD THIS EPISODE!!!  GAH!!!  *Bangs head on desk*  Yeah I'm a twit... 

Anyway Myra gets all the info she can out of Wainwright and puts the fear of... well her, into him.  leaving satisfied I had BA roll to see if she could overhear something inside the Jail before fully leaving... and she rolls a 1...  Quirky success!  I know this is the type of success where it's the lowest possible and she should get a complication as well as a win...  but I LOVE taking these and coming up with off the wall happenings...

So what did Myra get?  Well her Glamour drops once she is out the door, but still she overhears Wainwright shouting to someone: "Get up fatass!  We gotta move now!"  Was the glamour dropping a quirk?  Nope, no one really noticed that but her...  but suddenly seeing her GRANDFATHER walking up to her waving was the quirk.  A note here on Myra's "Grandfather."  This gentleman is really her three times great grandfather named Loren Mac Mir, a member of the Seelie Court and beholden to King Gywn ap Nudd.  A FULL BLOOD FAE!!!  She had not seen him in almost 20 years and now here he was strolling down the street of New Hope waving to his granddaughter.

Myra FREAKS THE HELL OUT.  She grabs her Grandfather, pulls him into the Hearthstone and panics, knowing this is a mining town that specializes in IRON.  Subtle hint here... cold iron DOES hurt the fae and a full blood fae is in a town that mines the stuff... the hell?!?  Her Grandfather pats her on the head after hugging her and calmly explains that he was CALLED here by the dvergr (Norse Dwarves) to substantiate a claim of a vein of Mithril being found in the mines.  This would be an incredible find as Mithril had never been found in the Americas yet, and they needed an expert... like Myra's Grandfather to see if it was true.  He was just finishing up when he chanced to see his "Favorite Granddaughter" and had to say hello.

I'll admit that I used the Grandfather a comic relief as well as an info-dump.  I played him as a rascally Victorian gentleman who was doting on his grandchild, threatening David to make sure he protected Myra (Like she needs it), and flirting with the female fox woman (Kitsune) at the end of the bar.  When he was informed why Myra and David were in town and shown the crystal David had obtained he confirmed that the crystals are in fact a type of egg from something underground.  He flat out refused to say what for fear that if by naming it... it would hear him and come.  Myra's grandfather siad that the children were probably taken in exchange for those taking these eggs... and if Myra and David wanted those kids back they had better get down in the mine quickly and try to swap back... or "something BAD will happen to them."

We ended there, with Myra offering to pay for her Grandfather's aid (always return a gift with a gift when dealing with the fae.  He offered information so she had to pay up) by paying for any dirnks and his room at the Hearthstone.  Before ending for the night Myra was told by Rose thet her Grandfather had bought 2 bottles of the most expensive vintage of Elven Moon wine and got the honeymoon suite for himself and the Fox-Woman for the week...  Leaving Myra with her jaw dropped open to the floor and one hell of an expense account to explain to the Pinkerton head office later.

Things Learned
The 'Lynn family is PISSED and is calling in a squad of elite assassins from Lemuria, and potentially sparking another war.

Wainwright is a racist dick and is up to something with someone he calls "Fatass."

Only the dwarven miners and Myra's grandfather know about the Mithril vein in the mine...  a metal formed when heavy amounts of Aether bleed directly into other metals...  meaning a rift could be in the mine letting God knows what in.

Myra's Grandfather is a bit of a dirty old man...  with a Furry Fetish apparently.

The Black Crystals are Eggs, and anyone who took one either has had a child taken in return (the dwarven miners) or has been taken themselves (the human boy and lemurian girl who played with one)

Next Time
Our heroes will venture into the mine itself...  What lurks in the darkness below?  What does Wainwright really know?

Personal Challenge
How can I work in the line "Trouble me not little man, for I have ripped the wings from angels and torn the horns off demons just to watch them bleed."?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Scott Walker... The Douchebag's Douchebag

So… I’ve been having some issues with things going on in my state Government.  Our Governor is Scott Walker (Yes I’m a Wisconsin Cheesehead) and he is proposing a budget bill that in essence GUTS education across the board.  K-12 is screwed under this plan, colleges get decimated, and the long term effects are deadly to the state as a whole.  So why is he doing it?  Because it fixes the budget in the short term…  This little bill of his also would COMPLETELY REMOVE and type of organization of folks to speak out against governmental decisions…  Yes this means unions, but read that more carefully…  NO ONE WOULD BE ABLE TO COME TOGETHER AS A GROUP AND OFFER DISSENT AGAINST GOVERNMENTAL DECISIONS.
So I’ve been trying to write a letter to our governor about my extreme displeasure of this bill…  Of course I never intend to ever SEND this sucker, but this will give you a little window into the mind of a truly pissed off Thunderstep.

Dear Governor Walker,
                Now you listen up you little shit-stain.  I have no God-Damned clue what the hell you’re thinking by pushing a bill like this down the throats of your constituents but I have never before seen in American politics  such a display of power grabbing, money hungry, acts of despotism since the days of the robber barons!
                Oh wait… that’s right you don’t have a college education so that last sentence may be a bit beyond your limited little brain.  How about this one, I’m calling you out shithead.  You are nothing more than a power hungry little dick that is preying upon a “weak” section of government to fill your coffers.  You may think you’re playing Robin Hood to balance the budget but you’re robbing the poor to feed your already rich fat white ass.
                You know I may have been a little bit supportive of this astronomically bad move if you had the shred of human decency to impose these draconian demands on ALL aspects of state government and workers INCLUDING YOU AND YOUR CABINET!   Funny how you demand pay cuts, benefit removals, and silencing of dissenters in all areas but your own and choice few others… like those of Firemen and Policemen.  What is it Scotty boy?  Too scared to take on folks with guns and fight fire?  Content to only pick on a buncha teachers?  Talk about a blatant Machiavellian power play…   Oh wait I keep forgetting you don’t have a higher education, how about this one, you’re acting like a retarded Cobra Commander!
                So, let’s see here, slashing the budget in education, removing benefits from state workers, all in the name of making things better.  Let me paint you a long term picture here Scotty, without the budget, benefits, and resources needed for education you are damning our kids to lifetime of idiocy and marginalization.  The United States has already fallen FAR behind the rest of the world in education thanks to bone headed moves like No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race To The Top (RTTT) but your little addendum to these programs stripping collective bargaining powers from all state workers just slams the final nail in the coffin.  I hope to God you find yourself in a surgery room sometime in the future facing the scalpel of one of our “Graduates” of your education reform bill and he says “You know I never got the hang of what muscles were important and which were not” just before you go under anesthetic.  Or perhaps better yet you face the same scenario but the doctor is Indian and has to read from a prepared surgical script because we had to outsource the position because no Wisconsin student was up to the fucking job!
                You are totally blind to the bigger picture here asshole.  THAT is what I am calling you out on.  I am not a republican, and I am not a democrat.  I have my own party and its called “THE ANTI-STUPIDITY LEAGUE.” And as of right now, you are public enemy number one.  Not only do you show extreme cases of total and complete ignorance of what is needed for education, but you are essentially trying to force FURTHER stupidity upon us as a people by gutting all aspects of education!  What, are you saying that like in George Orwell’s 1984 that you need to keep the people stupid to control them?  Wait… yeah the college thing again…  Perhaps the Apple Ad that riffed on Orwell’s book would be more your mental speed.  You are the face on the screen there Scotty boy…  I’m not the chick, I’m the mother fucking HAMMER breaking your ass.
                I never voted for you, let me make that clear.  I would have never voted for you even if one of your cronies had a gun to my head.  I’m pretty sure that’s what you had to do to make that bullshit ad about state workers not sacrificing our fair share.  Fair share?  FUCK YOU!  Where is your fair share, you hypercritical asshat! I don’t see you taking a pay cut!  Oh and don’t think for a moment that it has escaped my notice that something LACKING IN EDUCATION is trying to tell educators not only how they should do their jobs, but cramming it down their throats.
                To sum up in words you MIGHT understand.
                Ugna Bunga Dis Plan stinks like da poop… and hurts like when da poop came out sideways.  You no should do it.  Fuckhead.

Thunderstep, Leader of the Anti-Stupidity League
You sir are a Fucknugget swirling about with an asshat on while twatwaffling.  I have no clue what this means but good Lord does it sum you up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Aether Magic Part 1

So BadgerAngel contacted me about how magic worked exactly in the setting for the Pinkertons.  Initially I had planned on simply giving a breif response, but it suddenly bloomed into... well THIS:

Magic in A Leumrian Awakened World
1)      ALL magic comes from Aether in some way shape or form. 
·         Rituals pull and funnel Aether, Summoners use Aether as the medium to carry their call or command, illusionists shape raw Aether into dreamstuff, and so on.  Even calls to the Gods (Immensely powerful beings whom some call Gods and others just say… “It’s NOT a God, but Damnitt be respectful of something that can squish you!”) are carried via Aether.
2)       Lemurians use Aether-Tech, which is akin to handling raw unbridled POWER
·         A big point here is that Lemurians do NOT see Aether-tech as magic but rather a highly refined science.  They use “callers” to pull raw Aether into a spot so it condences to a point where a rift can form.  From there they stabilize this rift with various machines and literally send in harvesters into a massive white void of Aether-Space.  Harvesters bring back pure Aether that is further cleansed, condensed, and put into use as a liquid energy carrier (Hence wires at the carnival are more like hoses) or condenced to its hardest state of a crystal.  Crystals can be used for many things… from boiling water to create steam (useful in sun deficient areas for steampowered items) to being able to transmit message across great distances.  The Lemurians have refused to fully teach humanity all Aether can do until they feel we have “Grown Up.”
3)       Not all sources of Aether are alike.
·         The bit about purification of Aether by the Lemurians is important.  Aether can be tainted, most easily by emotions or deeds.  It seems to soak up empathic wavelengths and can vastly alter the qualities of the Aether.  Fear causes nightmarish qualities, anger produces bloody handed powers, etc…  Lemurians have found ways to strip Aether of these emotional ties but will NEVER extract Aether from an area known to be tainted by emotion, like graveyards.
4)       Humans have been using Aether since they first came out of the trees.
·         Humans knew about “all pervasive energies” and found a lot of different ways to pull it, tug it, channel it, twist it, bend it, and make it work for them. 
                                                               i.      Ritual magic:  Pulls mass amount of Aether to an area by an individual or group to obtain a certain effect or end.  Highly dangerous as the Aether, while collected quickly also becomes quickly tainted by the emotions of the ritualists.
                                                             ii.      Witchcraft: An individual pulls Aether in small amounts for immediate effects.  This works as long as the caster is in an area with easily accessed Aether.  Since the Lemurians returned this is not a problem and a lot of charlatans and hedge witches that thought they had no power at all suddenly found they had a LOT more than they ever dreamed.  Individuals of this sort are born with an innate ability to pull, shape, and craft Aether but need to be taught to control it quickly.  Armies of angry toys from a spoiled child “raw talent” not getting his way have happened…
                                                            iii.      Illusionists:  These folks pull minimal amounts of Aether to create visual, auditory, and in some cases even physical effect.  The more complex the illusion, the more Aether needs to be drawn and maintained to keep the illusion going.
                                                           iv.      Summoners: Call forth a small amount of Aether and fire it into Aetherspace carrying a message to some other being.  This can look like prayers of supplication, sacrifices, or tossing notes into a fire.  This inherently taints the Aether used with the nature of the call and will effect what entity gets the message.  The trick is control and shaping of the Aether.  Good communication skills will result in a good message that will be picked up by an intended target.  Blind calling can work, and the more Aether used in calling, the quicker something will respond, but it can be dicey…  Some things are just curious about who would blindly call into the void and often come to see.  A variant of this is what is used for Aether Crystal calls (You need BIG Aether Crystals to get pinpoint accuracy on the same world for person to person contact.)
                                                             v.      NEW BREED: Gamblers:  these folks often use dice, cards, poker chips, or other items of chance to pull Aether to them and randomly shape it.  While they have the advantage of speed in “casting” they suffer from random effects due to the nature of the Aether they draw from (Chaos tainted).  Many of these are untrained Witches/Warlocks.
5)       Magical Races can control Aether too, some better than others.
·         Typical Fantasy races can be found, but not all have connections with Aether any better than humans.  They just used Aether to get here when the influx of Aether happened.
                                                               i.      Elves are here of a startling wide variety.  They may primp and preen and say “I’m a light elf!  I’m a Drow! I’m a Grey Elf!” but Lemurians have proven via their burgeoning fields of genetics that all elves are genetically identical…  i.e. race distinctions mean NOTHING.  Like a white man and a black man are both humans, high elves and drow are both elves… and yes they were not very happy about learning this.
                                                             ii.      Dwarves came in and were unlike what the world pictured them to be.  They had tight ties to Aether in all forms but channeled it mainly into Forgecraft, and can make things to rival the best of Lemurian Technology out of metal and Aether.  Folks are a bit reluctant to use them as Dwarves charge STEEP prices and if the Aether flux in an area is weak the items often stop working. (These are traditional NORSE Dwarves, the Nividellender… led by Brokk and Etri who forged the hammer of Thor.  Yep… THOSE dwarves)
                                                            iii.       Obsidimen are stone beings that are slow, passive, but powerful.  They are great workers but seem to revere nature above all else.  They have some affinity with Aether, but it seems to be a born talent amoung those who are born with crystalline runes on their bodies.
                                                           iv.      Others…  Yeah I need to fill this in.  I have a lot of ideas here though.
·         The Fae are a total mystery but some willingly speak with other races.  The little we know is that their reality is just about co-current with ours but has been separated for quite some time due to a lack of Aether around our world.  This was due to the Lemurians hording the free Aether to better protect themselves.  Once the Lemurians were forced to drop their shields, the flood brought the fae back in FORCE.  In the U.S. you’ll see a lot more of native American fae, but will all the immigration, fae from Europe are common as well. 
                                                               i.      Fae BROADLY fall into Seelie and Unseelie courts.  THESE DO NOT MEAN GOOD AND EVIL!  If anything they represent emotional states of dreams.  Seelie are happy and colorful (but even the brightest of dreams can be callous and cruel) while Unseelie are dark and scary (Let me just point to Nightmare Before Christmas, Monster’s INC., and so on to show that scary is NOT NECESSARILY evil)
                                                             ii.      There are a HELL of a lot more courts around the world.  The Water Empires of the oceans, the Jade thrones of the East and so on.
                                                            iii.      Being “fae-touched” is a nice way of saying somewhere in your bloodline is a full blooded member of the Fae.  You have an easier time calling Aether and doing… stuff with it.  Most Fae-Touched make ROCKIN’ Illusionists, Witches/warlocks, and summoners.
                                                           iv.      If you REALLY want me to expand on the world of the Fae remind me to send you Lumi (my wife) and my “Karasu and Jack” story.  I’m cribbing that type of fae for this world… as I love those guys having written for them for so long.
                                                             v.      Big note here… GOBLINS ARE FAE!  They have their own court but throw in with the Unseelie more often than not.
PLOT IDEA: Europe is in a bit of a snit as someone calling himself Arthur has emerged from the lands from the Fae and is calling for Victoria to step down!

Monday, February 14, 2011

New year, New game... FINALLY

So once again I'm starting a group to play PRGs via Skype.  I know I've mentioned this before, but  this time we have 2 sessions under our belts and I'm reasonably hopeful.

We're using the QAGS system (as I freakin' love how damn simple it is) and my own Steampunkish setting I've road tested with my students on campus.

So who do we have this time around (NOTE: Names are avatar/callsigns from online to protect privacy until I'm told otherwise)

Thunderstep: That's me...  GM as usual, and I love being the GM (Rare I know... just hope I'm doing a good job).

BadgerAngel (BA): Myra Varney, the gun slinging sorceress.  GOD I love that name and feel...  BA is also our resident southerner and I REALLY appreciate her help when it came to fleshing out areas of the "Former Confederacy" and correcting my geography in game.  Like I told her, I'd never get this stuff ironed out without road testing it.

A note on the Sorceress bit...  I really had not fleshed out a lot about"Magic" Per Se in the world yet beyond that it was there.  As BA is a practicing Pagan I intend to use her RL experiences to help guide me here for a good "feel" for magic.

Zathras (Z): David Frost, Native American tracker.  This character took a bit for Zath to form, both from just general concepts, but also his utter LACK of ability to do a southern accent.  Several times BA heard him trying one and replied "Good GOD honey that just hurts my soul!  Stop!"  So yeah...  no southern drawl from Zath.  Thankfully he has not gone full-blown "Tonto" either.

So, our first session was a gab fest, followed by character creation.  Our last session (i.e. 2/13/2011) we had our first real game, and I decided right off to start it with a bang...

Or rather, an exploding Silo.  They began game in a small field in Arkansas when someTHING burst through the silo wall nearby and let loose a massive roar.

When I snarkily asked "So...  What do you do?"  In synch they both responded "WE RUN LIKE HELL!"

O.K. fine, I cribbed from M-Force here and used a modified beast called a "Grain Giant."  It was a massive assembly of corn kernels that was trying to add onto its mass.  Looking at the stats of the beast again I began to wonder if that was a good idea to pit them against something that badass...  Silly me.

Myra ran to the farmhouse, talked the ol' farmer out of a jug of his best moonshine, and made a truly awesome throw to plant it between the giant's legs on the ground.

Then she SHOT it...  Look I have relatives down south, and I KNOW what moonshine can do.  I had her roll and she got a one... Quirky Success right?

BOOM!  Moonshine goes up, bigass fireball in corn giant's crotch, all according to plan... up until the damned thing turned, looked at them, and roared...  Yeah the quirk was simply that now they had the giant's undivided attention.  I also got to roar while slapping my cheek to simulate an corn giant turning into a popcorn mass...

David Frost ran past, picked UP Myra, and continued to run like hell...  before he rolled REALLY badly on a dodge against a stream of flaming corn kernels issuing from the giant's hand.  Well he rolled a 1...  so he did dodge... too bad Myra was on his SHOULDER!  She went flying and had to quickly recover while David was caught by her boot and knocked down.

So... David is prone in the mud, Myra is running like hell.  then this tidbit happened...

BA asked if a creek or stream was nearby... and I promptly replied "I don't know... is there?"
"Well hell if I know Thunder!  You're the GM!"
"I forgot to explain about yum yums didn't I?"
"The hell is a yum yum?!?"

Yeah so, after a quick explanation she popped for a stream and dove into the water...  the giant followed, but popcorn and water do not mix well.  A massive fist slammed into Myra, and became a pile of dissolving goo quickly after.

David and Myra gathered their wits and watched the pile of popping corn dissolve in the stream.  Hey a win is a win.  That was when their "pagers" went off.

I'll admit, I ADORE steampunk and had a blast coming up with goofy little things that existed.  Like the Alarm-clock and ticker-tape pagers the Pinkerton's had.  It was a quick way for the home office to get a hold of them.  The message read "Get to Aether Crystal for new assignment Immediately."

NOTE:  Aether-tech is something I've been cooking up and has to do with the works of the Lemurians.  They know how to extract, purify, and utilize Aether for all sorts of things.  In essence a lot of the effects LOOK like magic, and magicians and sorcerers have used crude ways of aether manipulation for years to garner effects without really understanding what the hell they were doing.  Now with the re-emergence of the Lemurians, Aether is now readily accessible, very powerful, and in the wrong hand can make a massive mess.

 The Short Story I posted about Thaddeus Mainspring and crew shows were Aether comes from...  It's an energy from "Between" that makes connections.  Kind of like a tangible quantum foam if you will.  They are some of the first explorers to actually enter INTO Aetherspace and explore.  It turns out that concentrations of Aether can open rifts to other worlds.  Lemurians know how to control these things and have even set up cross world trade in some areas.  However... laymen magicians can also open rifts, or natural rifts can form with excess Aether... and let THINGS in.

Hence the current influx of things like Fae, Elves, Dwarves, and many other beings from a variety of worlds.  Some are intelligent, some less so, and these beings are a BIG reason for the Pinkerton's Monster Hunting Agency.

Lore Dump over...  Sorry.

So, Myra and David head out to a larger town that has a hotel modeled in a Victorian fancy pants style.  It has a BIG Aether Crystal on top to allow for communication (This idea came from the Parasol Protectorate series of books... AWESOME SERIES!!  READ IT!!)

They get access to the Hotel's Crystal and get to speak with their commanding officer...  no name, just CO and looked like Jack Pallance with an Eye-patch.  (I did a bit with a REALLY BAD Lilly Tomlin impression before connecting them to the CO... I was asked to never do it again...  *Sighs* Critics)

The CO filled them in on a rash of disappearances from a small town on the Southern edge of Arkansas... A town named New Hope and was being built by a mix of races and people come together for their "Utopian ideals."  New Hope is an Iron Mining town (BA told me the only US diamond mines are in Arkansas... WHOOT!  Random state draw worked!) so fae presence is VERY low there.  But Many other races are present, even some Lemurians!

The major problem is the disappearances are all children!  That got Myra and David riled up and ready to go right then and there...  Until the second issue came to light.

The second issue arouse when the fount of this information to the Pinkertons was disclosed.  One Reginald Wainwright... possibly Lieutenant or Lieutenant Colonel formerly of the Confederacy, and a known Klan Sympathizer.  (BA Kicked my butt here when I siad he was originally out of Oklahoma...  And she nicely pointed out that Oklahoma was NOT a Confederate state.  So...  He's from Kentucky.  DHOT!  And I quickly got this map into my mind so future screw ups won't happen):

Wainwright is a real piece of work and the CO has no damned idea how such a bigot like him got placed in a position of power in this new town.  Basically take the most racist person you know... up that by ten and drop him in the ghetto in Chicago... and give him lots of money and voting power.  Yeah someone dun screwed up there letting Wainwright fly under the radar like that.

Wainwright does not really CARE about the kids, but just wants this mark from his public face removed, and he's convinced that its the strange carnival that has parked outside of town.

So with all this in mind Myra and David set off and get to New Hope with no problems.  They know they can meet LtCln Wainwright in the locak inn/tavern named the "Fuzzy Quarterstaff" (Old joke for me here...  the Fuzzy Quarterstaff was a joke from my AD&D days... when we, as adventurers took our spoils and made, not only an inn, but a franchise of inns...  The Fuzzy Quarterstaff chain was born...  See what reckless Aether Crystal use has let in?!?)

Myra said quite simply that she was in no mood to deal with morons, and they decided to check out the Carnival outside of town.

The Carnival turned out to be much more than a few tents!  There was a massive ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, and a diving pirate ship ride.  There was a lighted midway full of shops, a carnival midway for games, and tons of food vendors.  The power was obviously steam and gears, but Myra did a quick spell detection and found the Aether-tech power lines running throughout the grounds.

David and Myra went to the back of the carnival to meet with the "main office" which was in a horseless carriage of Lemurian Make!  It was then they found they were in the Carnival of Doctor Lao!  Of course it's not the movie version, as THIS Lao is a Lemurian, whom Myra goes to after passing her badge to David and posing as an itinerant worker looking for a job.  She quickly grew to like the Dr. (Whom I played in a bad "Charlie Chan" voice...  just like Tony Randall did!  Steal from the best Damnnitt!)

Meanwhile, David was watching the grounds making sure things were safe for Myra when he was shoulder bumped by an exotic beauty... covered in DEADLY SNAKES and little else in the way of clothing.  She winked demurely at David before rushing off.  Suddenly he felt a tug at his sleeve (which he took to be a pickpocket) and looked down into...  Well combine a rhesus monkey, a Cheshire cat face, give it blue fur, and two thin tails and you got it.  The Cat-Monkey was wearing a Fez and a bright vest and was staring intently at David...

Taken off guard David looked at the thing and said... "Um... Hello?"
And he was met with:
"COR! BuggermeforatwitthatIamyousegottalottaleathertherepalandwowlookitthatthemtherebadgeitssoverySHINEY!  Ooooooo Shiney..."  in a really bad cockney accent...  (I was going for the dialect of the nac Mac Feegle from The Wee Free Men but it came off more like a Feegle on a caffeine bender...  Wow what a scary thought that is...)

A Human rushed up to David and apologized profusely for his "partner" whom he called Winxie.  He pushed Winxie away and stuffed a free voucher for the show into David's hands... Which announced several shows such as:
Satha, the Priestess of Yig and snake charmer! (Ladies lock up your men from this show!)
The Comedy Sty-lings of  Winxie and Dangle! (Kids welcome, but we're not responsible for any new vocabulary learned!)
The Great Magician Thrystam and his Menagerie! (Petting Zoo free!  Come pet the k'ilin!)
Mr. ? (NO CHILDREN ALLOWED FOR THIS PERFORMANCE) [NOTE: the picture of this showed a "person" half covering his face with a Doll's Mask but there was a totally BLANK FACE behind it.  No Eyes, Ears, Mouth...  NOTHING]

Obviously this last note really caught David's attention...

And there we ended, Myra trying to figure out if she should just admit to Dr. Lao that she's a Pinkerton agent trying to help find the lost children, David wondering what the heck Mr. ? was and if the snake woman was free later...

And BOTH of them are firmly convinced that this Carnival is BAD...

*Wicked Grin*  Well I'm not gonna tip my hand on this one as I have PLANS.

We play again next Sunday and I'm curious... would anyone want to hear a recording of our session?  I have the stuff to record off skype but there are so many actual play pods out there...  What do you all think?

More from the Pinkertons next Sunday!