Federation-Apocalypse Session 62: From Jedi to Cardinals

   With the return of the game master, we return to the tour of the Jedi Academy, already in progress.

   As the tour continued, Kevin was having to suppress his feelings of confusion; these proto-Jedi actually seemed to be fairly sane! How could that happen?

   The Jedi Master gave Kevin a rather confused look, but managed to hide it quickly.

“Is there anything that needs explaining? I am sure all of you have questions.”

“I’m good. You got anything, Kevin?”

“In a way I hate to ask – but are you aware of how many confused and bizarre variants on the Jedi there are?”

“We’ve had questions about that sort of thing in the past. I can’t really say I understand the nature of the problem either. It does seem like Jedi orders and worse from future timelines are out there, and have made contact with each other – but I can’t say though that we have ever really had any contact with them ourselves. It seems the route to our little world is rather off the beaten track. Somehow I get the feeling this was a blessing in disguise.”

“Probably yes; many of the future orders seem to be quite mad.”

“I’ve heard tales of kidnaping, brainwashing, genocidal wars and such, but it seems difficult to believe. I mean from what I have heard, what little there is, they seem to be just as much a part of the problem as a solution. And that is not what the Jedi are about.”

“Well, I’m certainly glad my brother hooked up with you instead of with any of them. Do you think he’s done with his class now?”

   Marty wasn’t sure whether to be pleased or disappointed – well, pleased for Kevin’s sake. This was a Core-style Jedi order; very sane indeed (and not a lot of fun either). Perhaps their local pocket-universe didn’t include the insane force-dichotomy feature?

“Well that is indeed good to hear about us – although it does concern me even more about the other orders out there. I am afraid the school masters and I will have to put a great deal of thought into how to approach the inevitable contact.”

“Well, I can provide you with some assistance and much of the background information. Fortunately, I suspect that a great deal of it is inapplicable in your section of the universe.”

“Yes please do, and I do feel it is about time for young Thomas to be showing up. (The master looked to the door) You may come in, Thomas.”

   Thomas came in wearing loose white clothing that appeared to have been dirtied out in the woods a bit. He looked to be about eighteen (roughly equivalent to an old-style human of 12) rather than the 15 (roughly equivalent to an old-style 11) that he ought to be according to Core time. Evidently he’d picked up a few years knocking around the Manifold.

“Hey! Long time no see!”

“Oh hey, Kevin! Can’t say I was really expecting you to stop by – although, on the other hand, I am strangely not surprised either. (He looked a bit confused for a moment)

“I think stopping by is kind of obligatory!”

“Well… yes I think so, I just wasn’t really expecting you to stop by today… I think. This precognition is a bit hard to wrap your mind around.”

“It would be. Not one of the fields I work with myself. You’re growing up there! Oh, this is Marty – a business associate. Runs the Manifold Operations for Amarant Solutions.”

“Yes apparently so, I would be shocked if I wasn’t.”

“Nice to meet you, Thomas.”

“And it is nice to meet you as well.”

“Well, I think you’re gaining a bit compared to Core. Besides, I seem to have gotten stuck. It happens.”

“Ya, mom keeps talking about that. She wants grandchildren and she’s getting annoyed. Luckily she hasn’t started looking to me for that kind of thing yet.”

   Kevin got a bit red.

“I’m not stuck at too young for THAT!”

“He’s not kidding, son. You’re an uncle now!”


“WHAT?! I’ve got a niece or nephew now?”

“Well, no point in beating around the bush about it. He’s got to find out eventually.”

“Nephew! And you’re supposed to let people bring that up in their own fashion Marty!”

“Does he have a name and how old is he now?”

“His names Eogam… He’s almost six now, I just didn’t want to mention him until I could bring him to visit. He couldn’t easily visit core before; he was a bit too magical – and nobody told me you were out here!”

“Someone’s been up to some interesting antics then!”

“Hey, these things happen! Particularly in some identities!”

   Kevin managed to divert attention to Marty for the moment – although Marty took pity on him and went along with it.

“So, how’s being a Jedi? Here, I’m just a guy who flies around in a spaceship.”

“Different than I figured it would be like. It’s like the movies, but it’s not. It is so peaceful here and the feeling of optimism just seems to radiate everywhere.”

“Nice. Hmm. I wonder what my little buddy is like here?”

   Limey turned out to be a pocket droid that spoke in binary at the moment.

“Thomas, this is Limey. He’s usually a laptop or a spellbook.”

“I mean, the oddest thing I have found about this place – besides the peace – is the lack of lightsabers.”

“Really? What do they use instead?”

“Well, hello Limey. For the most part they teach us a yoga style martial art. Although they also teach is the use blasters and armor designed to stand up to blaster fire. But they say that isn’t really the point of the studies. We should be proficient in combat, but not focus on it. We are to serve as an example to the rest of the galaxy through mediating peace.”

“Huh. That’s very different from most of the orders. Do they not know about them, or do they just choose not to use them?”

“As best as I can tell they are not familiar with the technology, I tried explaining it but I don’t know enough on how to build one.”

   Kevin chimed in again, now that the subject was safely changed;

“Well, they do look neat, but how often are they really practical? Still, if they’d like some to look at, I can get them some pretty easily.”

“Well I definitely seem to have peaked their interest with my talking of them.”

“I’ll make sure they get some then. Now, on the topic of getting things – the War of Souls is heating up, and my associates and I are attracting a lot of attention. That puts you, and this school, at greater risk than you would otherwise be in.”

“So actual battles are beginning then? This doesn’t bode well.”

“I’d like to assign you and the school some bodyguards or extra defenders. If you’re willing, I’d also like to set a link on you – and anyone else here who would like it – so that if you’re killed, I’ll be able to bring you back.”

   Master Tindale didn’t quite choke on his tea at that one – although his truthsense and telepathy suddenly went into overdrive.

“Probably a good idea.”

   Kevin was pleased at that; Thomas had evidently been keeping track of him enough to actually accept his abilities without a demonstration! Even his PARENTS hadn’t taken him that seriously!

“Ah, Master Tindale? I take it that you have not encountered that kind of ability before?”

“No we have not, and I must say I rather thought it impossible. Although the bunch of you all seem to readily accept it as fact.”

“It’s a rather rare talent, but one I see no reason not to put to proper use. The basic link will slightly enhance the recipients psychic talents and – if they’re killed – will allow me to provide them with a new body. There are much more powerful links, but they represent a major commitment. If you’d like some demonstrations, I think that any of my employees here will be glad to provide them.”

   Master Tindale went into deep thought, while Kevin cheerily ran over the explanations of the basic Witchcraft pacts. He reached a conclusion fairly quickly however;

“I am afraid there are limits to my trust, I am going to have to require a demonstration. I apologize.”

“Of the powers, or of the ability to recall the dead?”

“The ability to recall the dead.”

   One of the Thralls – Leonardo – promptly volunteered. He knew where to buy lightsabers in Kadia, and was needing to pick some other stuff up as well. The line-of-duty extra luxury credits death-benefit covered a small shopping spree in Kadia anyway, and he could just put the stuff for the Jedi on the expense account anyway.

“Very well; Master Tindale? Have you any preferences for making sure that no deception is involved?”

   (Marty had a private gripe; people kept over-rating his death benefits! Sure, he got a day off when he died, but he didn’t get paid, and it counted against his vacation days! He really ought to try and renegotiate that… Out in the Manifold, a business-related death should at least come with a commuting allowance and an inconvenience fee!)

“I have been watching all of you very carefully looking for deception or mind control. Believe me, the moment I feel something amiss, I will intervene at a moments notice.”

“I meant more would you prefer to blow up our volunteer to make sure, use a blade so you can check on things personally, or some other method? After all, if we’re demonstrating resurrection, it follows that he has to be really dead first – and there’s nothing for eliminating the chances of deception like personal involvement.”

“Ah forgive me, we shall use a painless method to kill, and then check for vital signs.”

“Well, we are at your disposal.”

   Now, if the local Jedi had a row of “instant disintegration booths” – or were set up to conveniently put troublesome or dark-side inclined students to sleep – they were going to have to re-evaluate them a bit.

   They didn’t seem to though; life in the manifold – and the war – was probably making Kevin, Marty, and the rest all a bit paranoid.

“Alright then, step forward young man. (Master Tindale looked Leonardo deeply in the eyes). Are you sure you completely understand what is happening and the potential consequences? You do? Very well then, this will not hurt.

   He laid his hand on Leonardo’s chest, and closed his eyes for a moment… Leonardo fell over gently as Master Tindale telekinetically lowered him – and sighed.

“The deed is done. He is dead. The young man trusted you and your abilities right up to the end. I hope his trust is well placed.”

“Right then; the recall will take about half an hour, a bit of clear floorspace, some chalk, and three candles; I have the chalk and candles, I hope your cleaning staff is willing to leave it on the floor for a bit.”

“It can be arranged. I presume that you are not needing the body for reuse?”

“No; the ritual creates a new one anyway. This has been known to confuse law enforcement however.”

   Kevin got on with the ritual, while Marty carried on the conversation.

“So tell me a little about this part of the universe. I’ve never been around here before.”

“You are near the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. The sheer number of stars and other debris makes travel difficult at best – and one stop in particular drops you well within sight of the massive monster. Unfortunately, it takes good piloting skills to make that next jump and arrive on target given the warping of space-time going on in the area. You can’t see the black hole itself of course, but you can see the effects it has on the surroundings. In particular, the accretion disk glows brilliantly as mass and energy is slowly sucked into its body of the black hole. It visibly rotates even when you are an enormous distance away.”

“Oh, we went by that thing on the way here. I was wondering what it was.”

“Some say you are even able to feel a presence – or a sort of active lack of one – as you go by.”

   Kevin considered that for a moment as a side-issue. That multi-tracking thing was SO handy… Fortunately they couldn’t have timeslipped much, or they’d have been avalanched with Thrall-messages; it shouldn’t have much effect at light-months away anyway unless the local rules were REALLY weird.

“Guess it’s trying to communicate.”

“A few have suggested as much. I am not sure what to make of the feeling myself.”

   (Kevin hoped it wasn’t someone – or some group – stuck near the event horizon and calling for help telepathically. That would be very depressing, and rescue would be quite awkward. On the other hand, given the time dilation effects, anyone at the event horizon would outlive most of the rest of the universe by a good margin – provided that they could survive the radiation. The tidal effects wouldn’t be too bad on a black hole that big… Marty had the same thought. A rescue at the edge of a black hole might be fun to plan out, but even hyperdrive and the power of hypermatter reactors had limits).

“Anyway, this area of the galaxy is very resource rich but sparsely inhabited and good hyperspace routes are few and far between. You can find an interesting variety of ecosystems around here.”

“I’ll have to do a little exploring when we have some time.”

“A few of the neighboring systems are inhabited, as best as we can tell by descendants of the same original species. Before the development of hyperdrive, contact between the systems was established the old fashioned way. It works some much better here where the distances between systems is only a fraction of the distance out in the spirals. Indeed it was the contact between these systems and their scientists that eventually lead to the discovery of the force and it’s use.”


“Now the Republic has managed to get into contact using that hyperspace route you followed and we are working hard at trying to integrate ourselves into the rest of the galaxy. I must admit a certain amount of admiration for the technological development of the Republic and their commitment to their ideals. Are there any other questions you wish to ask?”

   Kevin had finally completed his ritual.

“Ah, here we are! Welcome back Leonardo. I trust you had time to do all your shopping?”

“Oh yeah! And I grabbed a bit of stuff for the locals here that might catch their interest!”

   Leonardo unloaded a bag of stuff.

“What all did you pick up?”

“I grabbed several varieties of lightsabers, some movies, a few “history of the Jedi” things, training manuals from later eras, and few things on the Manifold in general.”

“Well, that should be helpful – if perhaps a bit horrifying in spots.”

   Master Tindale had been probing carefully;

“All right, I am impressed. It definitely feels like it is the same person. Mind if I examine you for a moment young one?”

   Leonardo didn’t mind. After all, that was part of the point. Kevin was giving it the nod anyway. Master Tindale laid a hand on Leonardo’s forehead and closed his eyes briefly.

“Well that pretty much concludes that. That should be nigh impossible to fake, although that may be yet another assumption. Alright Kevin, I believe you and forgive me for doubting you and putting this young man through that ordeal.”

“Not a worry; It’s not particularly troublesome to them, and I’m very well aware that it’s a difficult thing to believe. Anyway, there wouldn’t be much use in faking it: making my brother overconfident would not help keep him alive.”

“Quite true.”

“Now, the lesser link will simply bring them to Kadia to be raised, rather than making it possible through ritual anywhere – but the important point is being raised I think, even if it is a ways off. Would anyone else be interested? Setting up the link is something of a bother, but the number involved doesn’t really matter.”

“That does seem quite beneficial. Presuming there are no other complicating factors, I think we can arrange the interest of the other students.”

   There weren’t any further complications – and there were quite a few students who liked the idea of an option to come back if they were killed, especially after the instructors explained the process and the reasons.

   Besides, even if Kevin was only setting up witchcraft pacts, they did provide a few useful extra abilities.

“Now, I brought my employees along to supply Thomas with some bodyguards, and the school with a few more defenders. After all, if anyone is going to die defending the place, best it be people who can just come right back afterwards.”

“Exceedingly prudent, although I hope it never comes to that.”

   They assigned the Thralls, set up some better transportation for the place so that the students parents and relatives could visit more readily, and spent some time on general visiting before saying goodbye for the moment – and leaving the students to experiment with their minor enhancements and the instructors to worry over possible futures.

   If they wanted to consult or something later, they let them know that the Thralls could contact them – although they considered the fact that anyone who was linked could reach them just by dying too obvious to mention.

“Ah, one last parting gift in thanks for your assistance this day. For you Marty, you might do well to meet with an artist by the name of Santiago Columbar at a place called the Terminal Cafe. I suspect you might be able to have profitable business transactions and meet a kindred soul.”

“Thanks, Master Tinsdale, I appreciate it.”

“For you Kevin, you would do well to find the Winter King again and establish an alliance I think. I would try among the temples of the Shao Lin.”

   The Winter King? Arthur maybe? There were several possibilities. Oh well. Precognitives were always cryptic; it looked to him like it was a way to shape events towards what they were seeing and reduce the temporal confusion.

“I’ll look into it. Thank you for your advice.”

   Master Tindale proceeded hand out advice on chance encounters that could prove profitable to everyone, including the Thralls – who, after all, were people too.

   On the way back home, Kevin had a neodog in anthropomorphic form call the Unified Church – as an agent for Amarant Solutions and himself as an Opener and as the Ambassador of the Fey – and request an appointment. That got them an appointment with a Cardinal only two days off.

   While they were waiting, Kevin’s parents were still occupied (it looked like they might be busy for a week or so longer; the combination of fey food and the dragonform made for some strong impulses) – and Marty went off Pirating, so Kevin spent a couple of days recruiting, following up on the projects list – and “working” on romance, cuddling, establishing a welcoming and affectionate “family” for dragon-hatchlings (who knew?, it might have some effect), and getting started on becoming the father of a few hopefully real-and-ensouled clutches of hatchlings. Would it help that three out of four of them had apparently been wanting him to impregnate them for some time?

   Well, that was one of the factors being tested.

   Along the way he showed Kelsaru around Kadia, and took her to visit Core in the overlay area he’d set up for his experiment. It was going to make for awkward questions later, but he wanted to offer her an official consort position, and she ought to know what she was getting into.

   Kevin had a few carefully-selected Thralls on call for the meeting, but didn’t take any along. No point in shoving things in their faces. Assorted documents of course, although the Church had doubtless pulled a through report on each of them, and knew a lot already.

   Hm. They had a through investigative report pulled on themselves, and took a look to see if it said anything too shocking or that they’d really though was private.

   It did have a lot more available on them then they’d really thought about, but it was well behind and at least most of the more critical bits were blurry, speculative, or missing entirely.

   In Rome, they were called into the Cardinals office – but had to wait a bit. The secretary informed them that another matter had run over on time.

   Well, making them wait could be a subtle power-play, but there wouldn’t be much point – and it gave them time to present all their assorted documents.

“Please be seated, the Cardinal will be with you shortly. I am afraid another matter has run over on time.”

   About fifteen minutes later the door opened and the cardinal arrived – although in plain clothes, which was a bit of a disappointment for Marty.

“I apologize for being late and the style of dress, I am afraid the last appointment got a little out of hand. I am Cardinal Handel. You must be Kevin and Marty am I right?”

“Quite right sir.”

“Pleasure to meet you.”

“Now this does save me the time of having to track you down and ask you to come before me. As you no doubt realize we have been keeping an eye on you and have been monitoring your activities for some time now. To say you have piqued our interest is an understatement.”

“That did seem likely – and is why we are here.”

“Now what do you hope to get out of this meeting if I might ask?”

“The War of Souls is beginning to come out into the open; I would like to know whether the Church is likely to oppose, tolerate, or support my operations. I would prefer that the human race not be absorbed by the older races. Unity may be the ultimate destiny of all races, but I would rather not rush into it.”

“Interesting and direct. Well that does help matters. It saves this meeting from taking up the next several days at the very least.”

“I suspect that Marty is more-or-less unfamiliar with the concept of “religion” as a serious influence rather than an excuse for funny hats and odd styles of knives, and is simply curious; Marty?”

   Marty did have to admit that the Battling Business World version of Christianity had Christ beating up the roman emperor after his crucifixion. After all, with no real need to explain what “happened after death”, militant martyrs running around, professional “Suicide Bombers” who did it for a living, “terrorism” defined as “the malignant destruction of property too trivial to reset and the disruption of services so as to cause the maximum possible annoyance” (with actual deaths being completely irrelevant) (which sounded like an Xellos thing to Kevin; he’d probably enjoy Battling Business World), and “old age” meaning that you just retired and sent occasional postcards from Florida and various resorts until you only appeared at rare intervals. You NEVER really “vanished” though. That was another thing that made Mr Leland so odd; he had silvering hair. Come to think of it, Marty Tabard Senior – and his efficiency apartment in an out-of-the way neighborhood – was a bit odd too, but that might just be because Marty was anchoring him.

“I just want to make sure business goes smoothly for me – and since this young man is my business partner, I felt I should come along.”

“Alright, I shall be direct as well. The Church has never endorsed or tolerated pacts. On the other hand, you have been unusually straightforward and truthful in your dealings thus far. You acknowledge the pacts to be a temporary thing, especially in the grand scheme of things. You have used the servants you’ve gained mainly for beneficial purposes and in the service of others in a time of war. You – and they – are capable of providing services which few others can, regardless of what your former tutor may think. With that said, it is also my personal opinion that you are hindering the emotional and spiritual development of each and every one of your charges – and may be delaying their personal growth by decades. Attempting to remain a child forever is going to prove problematic, for both you AND your charges.”

“Quite possible. In fact, almost certain. But while dying, and accepting death, may be a necessary part of growth, we have an eternity for that – and all of civilization has been directed towards comfort and safety.”

“I cannot say that the path you have chosen or the one you lead others on is what I would actively endorse. On the other hand, a great many can do far worse out in the Manifold. And while we could make your life very difficult, I do not have any illusions that we could stop you in the long term. As of this time the Church will not hinder your activities, but neither will we endorse them in the vast majority of cases.”

   Marty found that acceptable. Kevin did too – although he had been hoping that someone besides “M” (whoever he really was) would acknowledge that he was offering about the best possible deal – not just that people could do worse if they really tried hard. Oh well, expecting the Church to admit that was probably a bit much.

“As Marty might say, I work with the cards I’ve been dealt – and, at the moment, Core needs defenders. The darkness is born of mankind and the struggle to survive. It is properly directed outwards, against that which threatens.”

“Quite true, which is why I have not ruled out ruled out all cases.”

“And if that battle fails, I hope that you have plans of your own. The light may send you a guardian if one is needed of course.”

   Of course the light worked in mysterious ways. Who knows? Maybe what the world really needed was a Dark Lord – or, for that matter, a Battling Businessman.

“Would you like me to leave you a liaison?”

“I believe that would be a good idea.”

   Kevin decided to stress the point. (Marty thought that that was a good idea as well; after all, they had an entire multiverse to hide in!)

“Very well. I shall assign one of the oldest youngsters to you, since the Church has an interest in history anyway. His name is Oshann, and he was born in the Manifold nearly four thousand years ago. When he was five, he was carried away by the Fey. Bound to their service, and to the changeless nature of their realm, he played many roles there – shifting from servant, to pet, to hound or steed, to quarry, and to many other roles at the whim of his masters. I invoked an old tale – the Tiend – to obtain the release of a dozen or so youngsters in similar situations. While that story is far more recent than the oldest Fey, and was never all that popular, like all tales it had a bit of power to it in their realm – and it sufficed to win the release of the oldest changelings. Some did choose to pass on, others chose other worlds – and a few choose to serve me for a far shorter time and purchase the freedom of the multiverse and enough power to please themselves for a few millennia, or to meet the fey as equals. He should find Core amusing – and he has a great many tales to tell if you would like to listen. Hopefully you can encourage him to wear some clothes and to adjust his apparent age up a bit. At four thousand plus, looking like a five-year-old is a bit silly – and clothes are very common these days!”

   Actually Kevin wasn’t quite sure that the Fey hadn’t agreed simply because the oldest changelings were no longer much fun and he was bringing in plenty of new playthings anyway – but there had probably been some force to it; the fey were usually pretty possessive of the “things” they considered theirs.

“Quite touching, we shall do what we can to ensure his stay is enjoyable. And I am sure we will remain in touch as we find intractable cases that you might be better suited to. Care to stay for dinner or must you be off?”

“I believe we have time for dinner.”

   The dinner was with several of the other Cardinals as well. Kevin wasn’t quite sure that they weren’t just fascinated with a chance to meet a friendly representative of the darkness, but it was a nice dinner anyway – and a lot of interesting stories were exchanged. Who knew? That might stir up some discussion on the issue all by itself – especially after they looked up the Tiend.

   Marty found that his stories – while not as morally suspect as some of Kevin’s, were just as bewildering.

L5R: The Mountain Heart School

   Today we have a slightly-tweaked player-proposed school – one designed to give a powerful earth mage a serious boost.

   Most earth-focused Shugenja concentrate on the defensive, purifying, and practical arts. Some, however, feel the outrage of the earth at the violations of extra-dimensional forces and intruders, and become channels for it’s wrath. Such are the students of the Mountain Heart Yamabushi School – the mystic wardens of the Earth. Unlike most schools, however, the Mountain Heart school is less than exclusive: anyone who hears the outrage of the Earth is welcome within their ranks.

   Mountain Heart Yamabushi, Advanced Shugenja (technically Courtier) School

   Requirements; Spellcasting Rank 3+, Earth Affinity, Earth 4+, Spellcraft 4+, Swords 4+, Battle 3+, Defense 3+, Meditation 3+, and accepting the obligation to defend Ningen-Do against extra-dimensional incursions.

   First Technique/The Mountain Rises: You are infused with the elemental power of the earth, and are defended by it. You gain an additional affinity with earth magic (5), may add (Earth x 2) to rolls to resist poisons, diseases, and harmful spell effects (10), and may spend a void point to cast a spell while remaining on Full Defense (5).

   Second Technique/The Mountain Endures: The endurance of the earth is now yours. Double the base wounds in each of your wound ranks (15) and – as a side benefit – when you are targeted by a spell you may raise or lower it’s target number by 5 (5).

   Third Technique/The Mountain Conquers: You are now a channel for the wrath of the earth, and sometimes must struggle to hold back it’s vast power when it wishes to pour itself through you and strike down some menace. You gain an additional spellcasting action each round for casting earth spells only (10), gain [(Rank – 4) x 5] Magic Resistance to spells cast by opponents who are contaminated by malignant extra-dimensional energies (5), and gain (Void) free raises when casting earth spells (5).

   Fourth Technique/The Mountains Strength: As you are open to the earth, so can it absorb and harmlessly dissipate unnatural forces which would otherwise infect you and protect you against the backlash of failed magic. You gain Immunity to contamination by malignant extra-dimensional energies (Taint, Mischief, Etcetera, 10). Any Earth spells you attempt to cast are still cast even if any raises made fail if the basic roll would have been high enough for that if no raises had been declared (10).

   Fifth Technique/The Mountains Heart: You have touched the inward serenity of the earth, your pulse beats in time with the heart of the world, and your spirit is forged in it’s fiery heart. It’s power pours through you, to transform and awaken what you touch. You may easily forge stone and iron into near-indestructible crystal, and may transform the resulting objects into Nemuraanai without difficulty – albeit at the usual XP cost (10). Secondarily, you may subtract your (Willpower + 5) from the wounds you take from any attack, to a minimum of zero (10).

   The Mountain Heart School makes it’s practitioners extraordinarily tough and grants them – if they are sensible enough to pay the raises for casting their earth spells without using a spell slot – near-limitless use of basic earth magic and/or the ability to cast higher-level spells quickly, easily, and with several raises behind them. On the other hand, given that a character would have to be of the seventh or eighth rank to complete the school, and will have to keep on spending points on it as well as on spells and spellcasting, that’s probably appropriate enough.

Amber: Drizzt, The Resurrected One

   Today it’s an old Amber character – a youngster who managed to get himself (rather foolishly) killed fairly early on. He was eaten by King Kong thanks to the player repeatedly having him not do anything while the ape came up to him, inspected him, smelled him, picked him up, put him in his mouth, chewed him up, and swallowed him. No one could quite figure out why he didn’t simply psychically dominate the big ape, chase him away with Nightfang, blast him with sorcery, outrun him, or do any of dozens of other things. In any case, Drizzt was brought back a little later – although arguments as to whether it was a true resurrection or not continued – as one of Arvon’s research projects. the player found him more amusing after that: Arvon had provided a selection of new and interesting powers for him to play with.

Drizzt, The Resurrected One, Ur-Lord of Amber

   Drizzt, son of Julian, stands about 4’2 and weighs about 60 pounds – reasonable enough for the ten-year-old that he appears to be. With an amberites extended lifespan, his real age is closer to fifteen. He has light brown hair, curious slit-pupiled amber eyes, and seems to have completely stopped aging since his resurrection, which may have something to do with his innate attunement to trump energies. Thanks to Arvon’s tutoring, he now has modest magical and trump-based abilities. Whether Julian will accept his return is another matter. Drizzt still has the use of his shadow-seeking horse, regardless of Julian’s reaction, but the hawk is another matter.

   Attributes: Psyche 60, Warfare 14, Strength 6 Endurance Amber. Currently 0 Stuff (originally had some Bad Stuff).

   Other Abilities:

  • Trump Attunement (Sense, Defense, and Identify only, 15).
  • Trump “Stunts” (Limit of three per game session, 10).
  • Personal Named and Numbered Alternate Forms: Hawk, Wolf, Dolphin, Panther, “Elemental” (the basic four), Invisibility (May be used in other forms), Human, Chaos Form, and Squirrel (creature powers courtesy of Arvon, 2).
  • Personal Resistance To Normal Weapons(creature powers courtesy of Arvon, 1).
  • Artifact Dagger: Nightfang (see below); Deadly Damage and Mold Shadow Stuff (5).
  • Power Words (20).
    • Evocations: Dreamweaving, Eldritch Force, Element Mastery, Enchantment, The Holy Blaze, Living Forces, Nightweaving, and Northern Winds.
    • Basic: Biocontrol, Force Field, Psychokinesis, Purging, Trump Disruption, Trump Surge, and Virtual Creation


  • Mental “Quirks“;
    • Irrational Fear Of Apes (Minor, Well-Known, 2)
    • Loyalty To Arvon (Disastrous, Well-Known, Irresistible, 5)
  • Personal Weakness; Can be injured or stunned by “Trump Disruption” and related effects (Major, 2)
  • Social Handicap; Commonly viewed as an idiot or impostor and generally obnoxious (Major, Reputation, 6)

   Experience 18

   Special Notes:

  • Whether he’s still got a “court devotee” in either sense, was up to the GM – and whether or not Daniel (the player) bought one when he took over playing him again.
  • This version of Drizzt has no “player contributions” to help out. This changed when Daniel took him up as a player character again; Drizzt made an abrupt recovery from his “state of shock” and picked up another ten or twenty points worth of new abilities and improved stats.
  • Since Drizzt once tried to shoot Arvon through the heart, Arvon took the chance to hardwire and program in a few restrictions while reconstructing him. While he’s being played this takes the form of the quirk given above. Before that point, Arvon had a dependable ally/agent.
  • Nightfang appears to be a fragment of darkness, forged into a dagger. Only quasi-material, it easily pierces armor, its ebon blade leaving no wound, but disrupting the energies of whatever it strikes. As a talisman, it also acts to cloak the users presence, dampen sound, and otherwise disguise and conceal him. It is even capable of deflecting basic magical and technological means of detection. As a magical focus, it amplifies the power of the users spells, especially those of a destructive nature. Interestingly, Drizzt can use a “trump stunt” to summon the blade if it’s been separated from him.

Power Words:

  • Biocontrol: This useful “word” allows the user to manipulate his personal physical processes on both the somatic and metabolic levels. This allows the use of a variety of “yoga” tricks, aids in resisting toxins and the effects of injury, physical “drains”, and disease. It can even be used to “tailor” enzymes and pheromones, but this is difficult to master.
  • Force Field: Channels the users internal energies into a fairly formidable force-field aura, in his case based on trump. As such it is fairly resistant to most other powers – although any determined clash will soon deplete its energies.
  • Psychokinesis: Allows the user to channel psychic energy into a brief telekinetic burst. While the users control is relatively crude, it suffices for simple PK bolts, repulsive fields, grabbing things, and throwing things around, with a strength equal to the users psyche.
  • Purging: Creates a “surge” of trump energy within the users body. While this has some minor effects, its primary purpose is to drive out intruding energies and substances. Secondarily, the surge tends to “rebuild” the users body to some degree, at least enough to halt blood loss and do a little patching. While it lasts, the surge is roughly equal to using “trump defense”. This word can be applied to someone else via mindlink.
  • Trump Surge: Feeds an extra surge of trump energy into whatever trump-based feat the user is attempting, boosting the effect and/or the speed with which it can be achieved. It’s commonly used when the possessor is in a hurry to contact someone or to trump out.
  • Virtual Creation: Taps into the power of trump to materialize whatever relatively small (up to about ten pounds), simple, object the user envisions. While this cannot create high-tech, “magical”, or artistic items, things like rope, blades, saws, and simple pistols are quite possible. Keeping such an object in existence is a considerable drain on the users physical energy out- put, reducing his effective strength by one per item.

   Evocations are a class of power word only available to those with some form of trump powers and a fairly high psyche. An evocation creates a temporary trump link to some powerful “entity” in shadow, allowing the user to tap some of that beings power for his own use. Sadly, the link is purely psychic and too tenuous to transmit “primal” powers – restrictions that limit evocation to magical energies. As “raw” magical power is useless to anyone except mages (who can get their own), Evocation is commonly used to tap into more specialized sources, already attuned to a particular type of magic, so that most of the work of spellcasting is already done – the user can simply provide the finishing touches and turn it loose. The process is exhausting, both physically and psychically, is limited to “quick and dirty” spells of limited power and sophistication, requires a different word for each “field” of magic, is blocked by barriers vrs trump, is limited by all the usual defenses versus magic, and can be blocked like other power words – but also requires little magical skill, is quick and easy, and is fairly flexible. Evocations need not be adapted to the magic of the “local” shadow, since the spell is actually cast there, it happens automatically. Drizzts evocation power words include;

  • Dreamweaving: Covers telepathic and purely mental magics, such as Psychic Charging, Glamours, Hypnotism, Psychic Illusions, and Mental Shields.
  • Eldritch Force: Covers magical energy constructs, such as Force Shields and Bolts, Mystic Chains, Walls, and so on, as well as simply Disrupting/Dispelling Magic.
  • Element Mastery: Covers the “manipulation” of the four classical elements; Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. It does not cover alchemically-related forces.
  • Enchantment: Covers Enhancing and Binding spells, as well as attuning things to permit easy manipulation via other powers – most commonly by his high psyche.
  • The Holy Blaze: Covers the magic of Purification, Light, and Solar Forces. Unlike the principle, and despite the name, the Holy Blaze has few positive spiritual or intellectual aspects.
  • Living Forces: Covers Biomanipulation – the magics of Life, Healing, Death and more subtle effects based on the control of the body and metabolism. Sadly, these are limited by the “quick and dirty” aspect of evocation.
  • Nightweaving: Covers the magics of Darkness, which includes those of Deception, Illusion, and Negation. As with the Holy Blaze, Nightweaving covers only a few of the spiritual and intellectual aspects of the principle.
  • Northern Winds: Covers the many magics of Winter, Necromancy, and simple Destruction as well as those of Ice, Blizzard, and Freezing Winds.

Shadowrun: Movie Vampires

   For today’s special request – and because today there’s a bit of connection trouble, so it’s easiest to keep things short -we have Edward Cullen, from “Twilight”, as a Shadowrunner.

   Given that angsty-stalker-vampire-romance novels are not my forte, I’m relying on secondary sources – but those will probably suffice for a romance-novel figure. They’re not really noted for going into technical detail about their characters actual skills and abilities.

   Basic Expenditures: Magic 24 (Ace), Attributes 24 (30 points), Resources 6 (20,000 NY), Race 0 (since these “vampires” seem to be basically enhanced humans), and Skills 6 (30 points).

   Basic Attributes: Strength 6 (10), Charisma 6, Quickness 6 (10), Intelligence 4, Willpower 4, and Body 4. Magic 10, Essence 6, Reaction 7 (13), Initiative 13 + 4d6.

   Dice Pools: Combat 9

   Karma Pool: 1

   Current Karma: 0

   Edges: Free Luxury Lifestyle (5), Enhanced Special Attribute (Magic +1, 3), Good Looking (2), Longevity (1), Magical Talent (can awaken normal, small-point-total characters into sidekick level characters after much angst, soul-searching, and plot-driven nonsense; arbitrarily, 5 points). Net total: +16.

   Flaws: Detailed Background* (from the books, -4), Obsessive Personality (-4), Enemies* (-2), Distinctive (-1), Increased Target Numbers (+1 to all target numbers in daylight, -3), Membership (group of vampires, who are more of a pain than a help, -2*), Weird Morality (-2). Net: -18.

   *Exempted from usual 10-point limit due to being useful to the game master.

   That leaves a couple of points available for any minor advantages or powers that weren’t mentioned in the Wiki and fan descriptions.


  • Active Skills (30): Art 6, Driving 6, Seduction 6, Unarmed Combat 6, Athletics 6.
  • Knowledge Skills (Bases + 20): Art History 6, Classic Cars 6, Psychology 6, Tactics 3, Sports 6, Music 6,
  • Languages (6): English 6 (Read/Write English 3)
  • Irrelevant Skills (7): Stalking 4, Angst 3

   Ace Powers (20, 25 after Geasa): Celerity (Wired Reflexes III, 5), +4 Strength (2), +4 Quickness (4), Telepathy Power Pool I (3), Hyperscent (.25), Low-Light Vision (.25), Invulnerability-III (5), 2 Automatic Successes for Seduction (1), 1 Automatic Successes for Stealth (.5), may inflict L lethal damage in unarmed combat, this counts as a magical weapon (.5), Regenerate one box of damage per minute (3), need not breathe or eat normally (.5).

   Geasa: All powers must be vampire-themed, give him a bad reputation as a vampire, occasionally cause cravings for blood, and mean he has automatic enemies (anyone who dislikes vampires): none of this is very important, making this a 25% off Geasa.

   His 25 points of initial Karma will buy him Initiate II: in his case, that means getting +3 Magic Rating (3 choices), Adjustment, Cliche, and Supporting Cast.

   This doesn’t account for the ability to turn other people into “vampires” – but that doesn’t seem to happen a lot, and they mostly seem to be ordinary people beforehand. Ergo, they’re just being promoted to sidekick status and being written up.

Star Wars: Technical Details III

   First up for today, it’s part III of the series on gaming in the Old Republic era – in this case covering the general nature of the Galactic Republic as a government, some of it’s long-term projects, currency in the galaxy, and extra-galactic exploration.

   The Galactic Republic has never been a particularly tightly-organized institution. For the most part, worlds govern themselves, while the Republic and the Senate attempt to negotiate disputes, provide some sort of a system of currency exchange, discourage wars, superweapons, and a few of the more hideous interstellar vices, regulate trade and interstellar law, sponsor exploration, and run starports. (In theory, a formally licensed starport is subject to Republic Law and is the domain of Republic Law Enforcement rather than local planetary law. In practice, enforcement is usually farmed out to the locals). In the case of major attacks on the Core Worlds, the Republic deploys its (relatively small) officer corps and peacekeeper forces to coordinate the forces contributed by individual member worlds. Sponsoring a few organizations – the galactic archives, the Jedi order, the exploration corps, and a few long-term projects (such as the galactic communications net), is distinctly secondary – as well as being not much of a burden on the resources of a galaxy.

   That isn’t all that ambitious an agenda, but there’s something to be said for knowing your limits: the Republic has been around, functioning, and reasonably stable for more than 25,000 years – longer than many of its member civilizations have lasted.

   Some of the projects that have been undertaken have included:

  • The Galactic Mapping Project and Exploration Service, while (even after 11,000 years) nowhere near complete, has still proven invaluable in setting up trade routes, tracing back the sources of attacks on the Republic, and locating various resources – including liveable planets.
  • The Galactic Subspace Communications Net is another ongoing project. While some of the more tightly-grouped major worlds enjoy fairly good communications, most of the less-important worlds can only send and receive limited amounts of data – most of which goes to vital services, trade and emergency information, and similar things. Getting private communications into the pipeline is quite expensive even for small files. Live voice communications may be quite impossible to arrange at times.
  • The Galactic Hyperspace Beacon Project has gradually added ways to easily locate your position and marked out safe hyperspace routes, vastly easing and accelerating interstellar travel for those worlds which have had their local routes surveyed and buoyed. Worlds which cannot afford the (rather high) costs compete against others for priority ratings from the project.
  • Other – more “local” – projects have included several solar-engineering, planet-moving, terraforming, and orbiting dyson-sphere construction projects, including intercepting several inspiraling neutron stars before they could trigger gamma-ray bursters and devastate major areas of the galaxy. Unfortunately, the Force-based limitations on self-replicating, self-repairing, and self-organizing machinery means that such projects must either employ massive numbers of people and consume considerable resources OR that they must be personally supervised by Force-users – although both Jedi and Sith can serve equally well in that capacity. This, of course, has provided a major impetus towards the continuing support of the Jedi order and has prompted numerous calls for tighter regulation of that order.

   Currency varies wildly across the galaxy. Most planets use local physical currencies, larger and more advanced planets usually use electronic banking systems as well. A few worlds rely on barter, on trading in property-fractions, or on even stranger systems, while a few species don’t have any concept of “money” at all. It’s best to assume that the local currency may be VERY weird – especially if the planet is embedded in an area of firm Republic or Hierarchy control; if the local currency wasn’t weird in that situation, it will probably be absorbed by the interstellar system.

   In general, interstellar transactions are usually carried out electronically (occasionally by actually shipping currency around, but that is very rare). The value of Republic – or Sith Hierarchy – credits tends to vary wildly with the amount of offworld trade a planet has, who’s in charge in the area, local prejudices, and interstellar events. If you’re planning to travel widely, or to cross the lines of control, it’s best to carry several different currencies, to stock up with materials of intrinsic value, and possibly to carry some items for barter – which is a part of what fuels the interstellar drug trade: high values, easy portability, easy testing (with current analysis systems), and widely desired. On many worlds, drugs are a de facto currency. Sadly, large sums in Sith Heirarchy Marks or Republic Credits can cause problems in the opposing domains – although, since the Hierarchy is the upstart, Republic Credits are still accepted in much of its territory – if at a steep discount.

The Interstellar Trionist Conspiracy:

According to those who embrace this (lunatic) “theory”, the entire ancient Sith/Jedi conflict is being constantly stirred up and manipulated in order to allow the Elders of Trion to systematically manipulate currency exchange ratios between planets. In the pursuit of this plot, there have been tens of thousands of years of war, death, and terror across the entire galaxy, all in the service of ever-greater profits. Ultimately, the Interstellar Trionist Conspiracy aims to enslave the entire galaxy!

Everything is clearly laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Trion – a book which has been almost totally suppressed save in bootleg copies that disguise themselves by substituting local references for the true ones!

Most people think that this entire idea is quite mad – but, given the size of the galaxy, there are billions of people out there who will swear that it is quite true – and who will support a thriving industry of fear-mongers who exploit such beliefs.

   Extragalactic Exploration has been fairly limited. While Hyperdrive is more than fast enough (although mysterious slowdowns in hyperdrive speeds have been reported to occur in deep intergalactic space) – galaxies are relatively close together compared to their sizes, and hyperdrive can cross a galaxy in a matter of days. Unfortunately, fast hyperdrive travel relies on well-charted routes and a catalog of objects that might interfere with the trip – most of which are spotted visually. While interstellar objects are far more common than intergalactic ones, most of them are near-impossible to spot. Between brown dwarves, dim ejected stars, rogue planetoids, and similar obstacles – as well as the numerous unexplored areas available in the galaxy – few expeditions have made much progress.

   Still, over thousands of years, there have been quite a few attempts, and reports on most of the nearby dwarf galaxies are available. One was even colonized by the Ordaltha civilization, apparently for some sort of religious reason which made them willing to accept a substantial casualty rate during the trip. Another of the nearby dwarf galaxies seemed to be exclusively full of mega-fauna jungle-planets, although there were buried traces of extinct civilizations there. Sadly, complications ensued on that expedition, and only a few survivors got back with their (somewhat contradictory) reports. Another expedition reported an encounter with some sort of intergalactic predator-thing – but that report is so old as to be semi-legendary, and is widely dismissed as a galactic legend. A number of inhabitable solar systems have been reported in the depths between galaxies, and make superb secret bases and refuges – but for that very reason, few exact routes or coordinates are available.

Shadowrun: Yseult Chaput

Yseult’s personal history – as she knows it:

   Yseult Chaput was born into a wealthy french family and was – not surprisingly – a somewhat spoiled child.

   Her father, Leonard, was the CEO of D’horlogerie Ordinateur, a (relatively minor) cyberware and computer corporation specializing in special-order and unique systems. Her mother, Adelaide – a teacher – was in many ways a rather unlikely match.

   When Yseult was ten, her younger brother Benoit arrived – and she immediately took to caring for and playing with him. People – or at least people with magical senses – often seemed to look at Benoit a bit oddly though; they kept acting like looking at him hurt their eyes. They never told her why, but Leonard and Adelaide kept Benoit even more sheltered than they’d always kept her.

   That didn’t keep them from having a lot of fun. There were vacations across Europe, in Hawaii, in the Middle East, and (finally) in Egypt, and there were many other events as well as the regular visits to Paris. With telecommunications as good as they were, there was no reason to stay home or to keep the kids there just because of school.

   The day before Yesult turned 18, the family was enroute to a family reunion/coming of age party for her when the car – somehow – went over a cliff, despite the safety systems. The resulting crash instantly killed Leonard and Adelaide, and send Yseult and Benoit to the hospital in critical condition.

   When she came to the next day she was in a hospital and more than a bit fuzzy – and one of her father’s associates – an older many by the name of Winoc – was waiting to speak to her. He informed her that she and her brother had been in a nasty car crash, and that she and her brother had suffered massive injuries. Her brother – still growing too much for cyberware – would be receiving bio-replacements. She had a choice: if she wanted bioreplacements, they were – of course – available thanks to her medical contract and donor counterpart. On the other hand, if she wanted state-of-the-art cyberreplacements, the company would – as a courtesy – cover the paperwork of tapping her father’s medical accounts and provide the best available systems.

   The fact that they were asking her was enough to tell her that her parents were dead.

   She couldn’t be weak and vulnerable any longer. Before passing out again, she opted for a complete cyberframe replacement – and spent the next several weeks sedated and undergoing extensive rebuilding. A last “thank-you” to her father from his company.

   When she came to inquired as to how her brother was doing – and this time around the nurse claimed to have never heard of him. He’d apparently been wiped from the hospital records too.

   As time went on she still couldn’t get anyone to tell her where her brother had gone – and found that most of the records had gone missing in some sort of computer crash. There were a few physical relics – but not many, and nothing that really demonstrated that he’d been her brother.

   When she finally got out of the hospital she decided to look for him in any way possible.

   That was seven years ago.

   Since then she has built a massive array of corporate contacts, both on her own and by exploiting Leonard’s old connections. She’s built up her connections with law enforcement and the military in order to gather information and set up aliases with which to set up underworld contacts.

   And she has yet to find anything. She is beginning to loose heart, an to doubt both herself and her memories, as well as the chance of finding her brother.

   Yseult still lives in her families estates in France, thanks to the income from her father’s stocks – although she dutifully puts half the money aside in case she should find her brother alive.

   Yseult is fairly tall (5′ 8″), skinny, blond haired, green eyed, and relatively well mannered. It isn’t enough to entirely make up for her massive cyborging, but she still manages to make a decent social impression.

Yseult Chaput, Information Broker

   Basic Expenditures: Magic 0 (Mundane), Race 2 (Latent Metahuman), Attributes 16 (26 Attribute Points), Resources 30 (3000 K in Resources, Initial Funds of 83K), and Skills 18 (40 active skill points).

   To represent experience in the campaign, I’m providing +2 Karma Pool and one major piece of equipment at two-thirds off the base cost. These bonuses have been included below.

   Basic Attributes: Body 4 (10), Quickness 6 (10), Strength 1 (11), Intelligence 6 (8), Willpower 5 (6), Charisma 4 (1), Magic 0, Essence 2.86, Reaction 9 (13), Initiative 13+3d6.

   Dice Pools:

  • Combat: 12
  • Hacking: 6
  • Task: 2
  • Karma Pool: 3
  • Current Karma: 4

   Edges: State of the Art (has access to Betaware, 2), Cybertolerance (reduce cyberware essence costs by 20%, 3), Freeware (Betaware Natural-Appearing Cyberframe, 6), Perceptive (-1 to target numbers for all perception rolls, 3), Perfect Time Sense (1), Photographic Memory (2), Overspending on Basic Expenditures (6). Net Edges: 23

   Flaws: Flashbacks (to last moments in car with little brother, triggered by seeing families together and by car accidents, Willpower [6] to avoid, -4), Miser (Will [6] check to spend, -3), Obligations (Uncommon, Major, with Plot Hooks, -3*), Detailed Background (-4*), Common Lethal Allergy (Nuts, -5), Low Pain Tolerance (Extra -1 per monitor on which target number penalties apply, -4), and Public Identity (Heiress, -3*). Net Flaws: -23.

   *Exempted from usual 10-point limit due to being useful to the game master.


  • Active Skills (40): Stealth 6, Agility 6, Endurance 4, Pistols 6, Computer 6, Investigation 6, Etiquette 6
  • Knowledge Skills (Bases + 30): Undercover Business 6, Sports 4, Firearms 3, Information Theory 3, Cryptography 6, Anthropology 6. History 6, Geography 6, Law 6, Vacation Spots 3.
  • Languages (8): French 4 (Read/Write 2), Arabic 4 (Read/Write 2).
  • Irrelevant Skills (9): Dancing 6, Dragon Kites 3.

   Resource Expenditures (3000K)

  • Cyberware (1060K):
    • Betaware Cyberframe (3 Ess as Betaware, 2.4 Ess after Cybertolerance, Freeware/no monetary cost)
    • +4 to Strength and Quickness of her Cyberframe (Betaware, 560K, 0 Essence).
    • Cybereyes (.2 Ess, 5K) with Flare Compensation (.1 Ess, 2K), Image Link (note that this can either pass signals into the system or pass them to internal memory,.2 Ess, 1.6K), Low Light (.2 Ess, 3K), Thermographic (.2 Ess, 3K), Eyelight System (100 M range, reduces lighting target number modifiers by 6, .2 Ess, 1.2K), Electronic Magnification-III (reduces range penalties by three levels, .1 Ess, 11K), and an Eye Datajack (.25 Ess, 2.2K). Net 1.45 Ess – .5 (Eye Package Deal) = .95 x .8 (Cybertolerance) = .76 Ess (in Cyberskull) and 29K.
    • Cyberears (.3 Ess, 4K) with Dampening (.1 Ess, 3.5K), Amplification (10x Shotgun Mike, .2 Ess, 3.5K), High Frequency (.2 Ess, 3K), Low Frequency (.2 Ess, 3K), Sound Link (note that this can either pass signals into the system or pass them to internal memory,.2 Ess, 1.6K) and Selective Sound Filters-V (.2 Ess, 50K). Net 1.4 Ess – .5 Ess (Ear Package Deal) = .9 Ess x .8 (Cybertolerance) = .72 Ess (in Cyberskull) and 69K
    • Transducer I (.1 Ess, 2K). Net .08 Ess with Cybertolerance, in Cyberskull.
    • Knowsoft Link (.1 Ess, 1K). Net .08 Ess with Cybertolerance, in Cyberskull.
    • Datalock (.2 Ess, 1K) with Encryption-10 (50K) and Data Compactor-IV (.25 Ess, 38K). Net .36 Ess, 89K.
    • 60 MP personal Headware Memory (.2 Ess, 9K). .16 Ess after Cybertolerance.
    • Mark-50 Rating-III Skillwires (.3 Ess, 30K). .24 Ess after Cybertolerance, in the Cyberframe.
    • Wired Reflexes-II (+4 Reaction, +2d6 Initiative, 3 Ess, 165K). 2.4 Ess after Cybertolerance, in the Cyberframe.
    • Cyber Holster (.7 Ess, 5K). .56 Ess after Cybertolerance, in Cyberframe.
    • Smartgun Link (-2 to smartgun target numbers, .5 Ess, 3.5K). -.1 Ess for Image Link, .32 Ess after Cybertolerance, in Cyberframe.
    • Autoinjector-X (.1 Ess, 5.5K). .08 Ess after Cybertolerance, in Cyberframe.
    • Internal Air Tank (.25 Ess, 1.2K). .2 Ess after Cybertolerance, in Cyberframe.
    • Internal Voice Mask-VIII (.1 Ess, 32K). .08 Ess after Cybertolerance, in Cyberframe..
    • Cyberhand Safety (.08 Ess, .8K). .06 after Cybertolerance, in Cyberframe.
    • 8x Holdout II. Two sealed in the chest, 2 openable in the chest, one openable in each limb. All Screened and Hardened (Concealability 13, +3 to instrumental detection target numbers, .2 Ess x .8 (Cybertolerance) x8 = 1.28 Ess (in Cyberframe) and 64K. Of the two sealed ones, one currently one holds her Cyberdeck and the other one holds her Pocket Secretary. The remaining six are used for various items of equipment.
      • Grand Total: 2.4 Essence (Cyberframe) + 7.4 Essence (Other Systems) of which approximately 90% can be accommodated in the Cyberframe. Since this is well within the 12-Essence point capacity of a cyberframe, and the character isn’t especially short on Essence and isn’t a magician, I’ll just use that 10% figure plus the cyberframe cost to calculate her base essence.
  • Social Purchases (610K):
    • Connections: Corporate, Law Enforcement, Military, Governmental, and Underworld (125K).
    • Five High Contacts (100K)
    • Four Level Two Contacts (40K)
    • Eight Extra Level One Contacts (10 total, 40K)
    • Three Secondary Identities: Agathe D’Aramitz (most used), Ghislaine De la Fontaine, and LYDIE Vipond (least used) (225K).
    • Two Clearances – Equipment (40K) and with the European Union (40K).
  • Major Equipment (1330K):
    • Novatech Simcase-10 (MPCP 10, Hardening 5, 2000 MP active memory, 2500 MP storage memory, I/O 480, RI 2. Normally in chest holdout. Normally 960K, but – in this case – this is the item that the character is presumed to have been upgrading, and thus gets 2/3’rds off on, for a net cost of 320K).
    • Programs:
      • Hacker Utility Package; All utilities except Trace, Black Hammer, and Killjoy at Rating 4. 250 MP, 25K.
      • Biocontrol-3/3 Specific Functions: Iron Will (+1 Will, +6 versus interrogation and mental control), Sleep Accelerator (need sleep only three hours per day), and Stimulant. 48 MP, 5 KNY.
      • Mentat IV (+2 Intelligence, +2 Task Pool) 80 MP, 8 KNY
      • Skill Packages (all at Rating-3). Grand Total: 1000 MP and 105 K.
        • Combat: Rifles, Heavy Weapons, Gunnery, Knives, and Unarmed Combat.
        • Physical: Slight of Hand and Strength.
        • Technical: Biotech, Demolitions, Electronics, Finance, Mechanics, Systems Operation, and Survival.
        • Social: Administration, Fast Talk, Interrogation, Intimidation, Leadership, Negotiation, Performance, and Psychology.
        • Vehicle: Bike, Car, Construction, Fixed-Wing Aircraft, Hovercraft, Motorboat, Rotor Craft, Submersible, and Vectored Thrust.
        • Knowledges: Chemistry, Genetics, Physics, Theology, and Archeology.
        • Languages: Basque, German, Italian, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish
    • Pocket Secretary with chips for Micro-Transceiver 6, ECCM 6, Data Encryption-6, Voice Identifier-6, Bug Scanner-6, Dataline Scanner (R6), and Radio Scanner-6. Net 42 K. (This is usually stored in a sealed chest Holdout and run via DNI).
    • White Noise Generator-VIII (12K).
    • One year Gold Docwagon Service (25K)
    • 10K Monthly Income with Plot Hooks (500K). This normally covers a rather nice lifestyle.
    • Equipment Grab Bag (150 K).
    • Eurocar Westwind 2000 Turbo (138K)

   The “Grab Bag” normally provides up to 15K worth of gear. In her case this normally includes 6 doses of Antidote-8 (.4K per use) and 4 doses of Hyperox (.2K per use) in her Autoinjector, a Smartlinked Heavy Pistol (9M damage, 1K), a couple of Flash Grenades (.05K), a Secure Jacket (.85K, 5/3), Secure Ultra-Vest (.35K, 3/2, adds +1/+1 per layering rules), and an Armored Cap (.2K, adds +1/+1 for a total of 8/6 Armor), a Survival Kit (.1K), a Medkit (.2K), a Hand Cell Phone (to get taken away, .05K), for a total of 6K. The other 9K usually goes into speciality supplies (such as, in some cases, a heavier weapon), wardrobe, and various personal luxuries.

   The original character design did not spend all of her Resources. However, since you only get to keep a small fraction of whatever you don’t spend, I’ve spent the rest of it on the players behalf. Hopefully we can get some of those contacts filled in a bit more over the next few weeks.

   And yes, that’s pretty appalling in some ways. Pretty much any character with a “Class-A+” priority in ANYTHING is going to be appalling in some way…

Star Wars Technological Explanations II

Today it’s another couple of features of the Star Wars universe – the impact of the Force on biology, medicine, and technology, including that wonderful Bacta…

   The Force has a great impact on life throughout the galaxy, although it often passes unrecognized by those who simply accept the “ground rules” at face value. It modifies quite a few biological – and even a few mechanical – processes. For example:

  • The mind is linked with, and operates through, the brain, but isn’t really reliant on it. This means that no physical method (including surgery, chemicals, brain damage, control implants, and electrical manipulations) of neural programming, coercion, or mindwiping is entirely reliable, effective, or permanent. Similarly, only force-sensitives (and not all of them) can use technology that interfaces directly with their “mind” via the brain – and it means devoting a good deal of their potential power to maintaining that interface.
  • It provides a non-genetic method of adaption. Creatures arriving in a new biosphere will find that they can digest the local foods, resist the local illnesses, tolerate the local environment, and – for that matter – pick up the local communication techniques – with considerably more ease than is at all physically likely. Creatures born on a particular world will often demonstrate far more extensive adaptions, while remaining genetically almost unchanged.
    • There are a lot fewer races, and far far fewer biochemical systems, around the galaxy than is commonly believed. No one really knows whether the biochemical similarities are due to Force-encouraged panspermia or exogenesis effects (spores, bacteria, and similar lifeforms being naturally spread around the galaxy), to some unknown cause, or to life-seeding (whether purposeful or unintentional) by the first few (long long lost) civilizations of the galaxy, but the effects are undeniable. The racial similarities are even easier to explain: over the history of the galaxy innumerable races have built civilizations, scattered colonies, and collapsed – only to repeat the cycle on their original and other worlds. While force-based adaptions and local genetic drift results in many cosmetic – and occasional deeper – changes in such races, quite a few apparently-distinct “species” are capable of interbreeding naturally, and many more can manage it with a little technological or force-based assistance.
  • Nonphysical “Alien Powers” are, in fact, generally Force monotalents. Like all such, they’re not subject to the feedback-loops which can lead to the “dark side”, but they do make their users subject to Force-based detection, are affected by Force-negation effects, render their users subject to Force-transmitted disturbances and disruptions, and are open channels for Force-based attacks. A fair number of both sapient and nonsapient creatures possess such abilities, ranging from some popular pets on through exceedingly exotic life forms.
  • Transplant surgery generally does not work; unless the tissue being transplanted is originally from the recipient or is virtually genetically identical, the Force will not recognize it as a part of the recipient’s body, and it will be rejected. Major medical centers may be able to regrow or clone limbs and organs, but the techniques are specialized for particular races and require good genetic samples. Only major medical centers, or those specializing in particular races, can usually muster the necessary information and resources – and even they are helpless if the donor’s tissues have sustained too much genetic damage from some agency to obtain a viable genetic sample; the Force can help such a victim survive with such damage, but it cannot correct it via any known technique. If you can’t find someone with the expertise, equipment, and resources to do a bit of genetic tweaking and clone the tissues you need, prosthetics are about the only option. Fortunately, they’re quite good – and, since they only interact with the peripheral nervous system, they are not limited to force-sensitives.
  • If the bond between the Force-aspect and the physical aspect of a living creature is sufficiently disrupted, that creature will die – regardless of any conventional medical attention, right down to cellular-level life support. You may be able to keep individual bits going, but you’ll only have lumps of flesh; the mind and personality will have permanently departed. An excess of shame or humiliation, sheer despair, and psychological traumas may be lethal without any physical cause or justification.

   The Force does interact with technology. In general:

  • Systems that mimic living things, whether by “thinking” or self-replicating, become increasingly erratic over time. Self-replication generally fails after only a few generations while computers and droids will need regular reprogramming. This can be partially corrected on a local level by any form of living supervision (Force-sensitives are more effective and Force users are most effective), but means that things like self-duplicating automatic factories and such remain a pipe dream. If you want to really exploit resources, you have to send people out to do it. Installations that are left to operate on their own are subject to this limitation as well, although they can be effectively set on standby and left for later use.
  • Force-sensitives and -users can channel the Force into enhancing equipment, allowing it to (sometimes FAR) surpass normal operational, technological, and even physical limits. Unfortunately, this is a great deal of effort and takes a long time to recover from. Such equipment will, however, remain enhanced until the individual who imbued it with the force dies, and will occasionally remain enhanced for some time thereafter. Would-be inventors occasionally produce amazing breakthroughs, and are disappointed to find that their creations are doomed to remain near-unique.
  • Super-weapons never last. There are, in fact, several ways to build gigantically-destructive weapons. Simply building one invariably runs into all kinds of obstacles. Letting people find out about the project makes it worse. Actually blowing up, sterilizing, or otherwise wrecking a planetary ecosystem is likely to cause all kinds of malfunctions – and no known superweapon in history has survived more than three uses. Interestingly, a device of virtually identical design, deployed to blow up rogue planetoids without ecosystems, or to dismantle lifeless gas giants for use as raw materials, or some such project will work just fine – until someone tries to use it as a weapon.
    • A powerful Force-user may be able to moderate or prevent such problems, but – if so – they would be well advised to never leave their super-weapon unattended for long once it’s been used. Even a few minutes absence may lead to having to build a new one.
  • Self-repairing machines, or machines which are repaired by other machines, are possible, but are never 100% effective. Even the best such machines will need occasional maintenance from a living technician. This, of course, is why jobs such as “vehicle repair” are not simply left to droids; a good droid can – for example – multiply the number of vehicles an expert mechanic can keep running, but you still always need the expert on call.

   This brings us to Bacta – apparently a universal cure-all, at least as far as gross tissue damage is concerned. The doctors don’t like to talk about it, but Bacta (there are actually several strains, “generic” Bacta is a mixture of them) is simply a bio-engineered form of a Force-using protoplasmic parasite. The original creature infiltrated damaged tissues, taking it’s pattern from the remaining tissue, from the victims own force-pattern, and from the biochemistry of it’s new environment. Given a few hours to work in, it would disguise itself as a part of the victims own tissues, essentially becoming a genetically-chimerical part of the hosts body. Over time, it would digest and replace more and more of the hosts tissues, eventually breaking down the victim into a puddle of goo after the critical point where the host’s Force-pattern and original body was too far gone to maintain was reached.

   Fortunately, such victims became sterile as soon as the parasite replaced the gonads since it did not imitate their genetic structure and the immune system of a healthy host tended to eliminate it before it could effectively disguise itself. Still, the original parasite – and the false feelings of invulnerability it produced when hosts noticed that wounds sealed themselves almost instantly – has killed (and still kills) a great many people.

   The modified version still infiltrates and mimics tissue, replacing damaged potions – but it has been rendered incapable of growing without several special provisions and stimulants. Within a few hours or days (depending on the purity), Bacta can effectively “heal” major injuries (and will, in many cases, gradually be replaced thereafter by the user’s naturally-regrowing tissues). It cannot, however, replace organs and systems which are entirely missing: if you have a ruptured or damaged liver, Bacta can replace the damaged tissue. If you’re missing a leg, Bacta can seal off and cushion the stump, anchor loose tendons, and cover the area with “skin” – but can’t replace major portions of the body or substitute for skeletal materials. Worse, if the damage is too extensive – bad enough to cause the victims force-pattern to degrade or to destroy too large a proportion of the victims tissues – bacta will not be able to effectively pattern itself, and will simply slough away.

Federation-Apocalypse Session 61: Pirates of the Manifold

   Kevin had concluded that – given the general lack of any definite answer from anyone – he might as well go talk to the Church about his recruiting in Core. As soon as his parents got home, and started making serious inquiries about “pacts” and “granting magical powers”, people would be putting all the clues together anyway – and it would probably be better to show up to talk on his own, rather than waiting for the Church to come to him.

   Still, he probably wouldn’t need combat assistance with the Church (or with his private “project” of fathering a few more ensouled dragon-kids) and showing up with it would make having a reasonable conversation a lot less likely.

   With Kevin off to visit the Unified Church and work on some private “project” of his own, Marty and Jamie were at loose ends again. Marty was willing to bet that the “private project” involved girls; Kevin wasn’t nearly as hard to read as he thought he was. People from Core were too blasted honest and open for their own good to begin with, and the fact that he was still a teenager just made it easier. Still, the boy was right enough; he shouldn’t need serious combat assistance with either the Unified Church or with his girlfriends.

   Jamie was up for anything as long as it involved combat, so the choice was up to Marty – and he had a bit of a project of his own. He didn’t like leaving Amarant Solutions Manifold operations so totally dependent on the Thralls – but the technological, magical, and psychic gates were very limited in where they worked between. Highway linked to a lot of realms, and so did Catacomb and a few other realms – but they tended to be a bit violent and desolate. On the other hand, he’d heard that the High Seas linked virtually EVERYWHERE – at least eventually – and usually let you slip from one reality to another without needing gates for anything but Core and the realms that were so close to Core that they were hard to tell apart from it.

   It was time to check that out. Maybe a little maritime piracy was in order. It might be more lessons for Limey anyway; he’d been neglecting the little guy a bit recently.

   Jamie thought that that just might be for the best; if there was one thing Marty WASN’T it was a good example for kids. Just look at how it had been going with Julia!

   Marty shook his head at that observation – he couldn’t exactly deny it now, could he – and headed for the High Seas. The great days of sail? The Carribean? The age of exploration? The clipper ships? The whaling ships? (Nah, that was just too bloody and depressing; it wasn’t like the things had any good way to fight back). A laptop on the Spanish main? Raise the anchor and hoist the sails!

   On land, New Ascelin was a tangle of alleyways, old buildings, and small businesses, while the harbor was a jungle of masts – with the occasional steam funnel poking up. The ships themselves were mostly late age-of-sail designs, but there were occasional galleys, reed ships, and other vehicles out of the distant past. There were taverns, brothels, supply shops, small consignment shops selling cargos, curio shops selling things that speculative sailors had brought in from the distant reaches of the Manifold in hopes of private wealth, and a variety of other rare goods and services up for sail. Spells, slaves, spices, and ships could all be had here, if you had the cash, the reputation, or the skill to claim them.

   The market for ships wasn’t that good – at least for a buyer. There were a few badly damaged vessels available, driven into port by a hurricane in a nearby realm. Three were being sold “as-is” due to the depredations of pirate fleet that haunted the waters to the west. The market was tight otherwise, since cargo was moving across the Manifold like never before these days.

   Marty looked into the damaged ships. Two leaking badly, with the pumps working overtime just to keep them afloat in port. The third had badly damaged masts, as well as a hole in the backup steam boiler.

   Marty picked one of the leaky ones and brought in a crew of Thralls to start the repairs. Sadly, the Thralls were all from the Linear Realms and the Five Worlds – and they mostly regarded the idea of working in wood with a “hammer” and “nails” as a mysterious lost art from the middle ages. They were certainly willing to try, but a mass drowning wasn’t the result Marty was looking for. He needed at least a few competent carpenters. It would also have been nice if some of the Thralls had had some experience with a sailing vessel, but that would have been too much to hope for.

   Annoyingly, all the carpenters were either busy with other ships or were asking for such high prices that he was sure he’d be being gouged unmercifully. More importantly the fact that they weren’t already working on the storm-damaged ships suggested that no one else wanted to hire them (presumably for good reason). Blast it. Maybe he could find some in one of the nearby realms?

   What was nearby? Probably the Historic Age of Sail and the Napoleonic Wars, Never-Never-Land wasn’t too far off (at least according to the street kids), someplace called “Skull Island” was handy according to the local bartenders, and there were a few people who said something about the “Bloodwars of Dagon” before scurrying away into the shadows.

   Looked like the best bets were the Historic Age of Sail and the Napoleonic Wars – and the Historic Age of Sail should have any number of skilled carpenters available. With a crew of Thralls he should be able to make a short trip even in a leaky ship.

   Unfortunately, neither he, nor Jamie, nor any of the Thralls – if only because they were all new recruits and were still learning – knew much about dimensional navigation in a sailing ship.

   Marty asked the locals. It was a short trip, and they should know at least the local routes.

   The sailors in the bars offered the most consistent descriptions of the routes, the mapmakers offered lots of alternative routes – and the fortunetellers find Marty too hard to read. He went looking for people who looked trustworthy, old sailors who were too drunk to lie, and – preferably – people who wanted to come along and get dropped off at the destination.

   He found some at last – a trio of young men who wanted to make the trip – and set sail.

   Unfortunately, things went somewhat wrong: the ship emerged from a narrow strait into the middle of a naval action: four larger ships with French flags against eight smaller ones with English flags. There were constant cannonades resounding, and a small fortress on the coast was supporting the French ships whenever the British ships were within range.

   Marty swore – blast it, he’d hit the Napoleonic Wars rather than the Historic Age of Sail – and glanced up. What flag was he flying anyway? Er… Tir Nan Og. Well, that was going to be interesting. He had a full set of cannons, but the ship was already badly damaged, and his firepower was relatively small compared to the large ships, if only a bit less than the smaller ones. Of course, the Thralls did have their powers and were very talented compared to normal people – but they didn’t have much of any sailing skills or any practice with the guns. At least he could still inspire them.

   He hated to say it – but he was going to have to try and stay our of this particular fight if he could. That was going to be a good trick though. Rough sea, onshore breeze, ships fighting further out, and a fortress on the shore.

   Marty decided to go for a run past the fortress and some careful navigation past the shoals.

   His three passengers elected to strike out for the shore. Well, he couldn’t entirely blame them – even if he had been following their directions, he might well have slipped up a bit.

   He had the Thralls pile on the sail. For once, the excess water aboard might help; it would keep the ship from heeling too far over.

   Hm. Some of the Thralls were pretty decent with illusions. They could blur the ship a bit, if nothing more – wait; none of them were powerful enough to make everyone perceive the flag as a friendly one, but they could show different flags from different angles. The ships that were going past each other would be a problem – the French ones were trying to herd the English ships towards the shore and the fortress – but he should be able to trick a fair number of them.

   It took some very fancy sailing, but it was going fairly well – despite a few stray cannonballs – until they took a fullisade from the fortress. More damage – just what he needed – a couple of thralls with minor injuries, and one who’d taken a cannonball to the head and was lying there twitching. Now, was that the result of someone spotting the trick, someone seeing through the illusion, or just somebody getting overeager? Decisions, decisions… Worse, one of the French ships was only about a thousand feet away. Easy cannon range.

   Oh what the hell. He had the Thralls and Jamie open fire – and handle the sails and the rest – while he concentrated on being inspirational and the cannons roared.

   The Thralls performed like Trojans, loading and running out the guns, swarming through the rigging, firing the guns with surprising accuracy, and one even took time out to treat the kid with the concussion and get her up and contributing again! The ship ground dangerously along the shoals, but the French Man-of-War, which had been moving to pin it, ran briefly aground, and was heavily blasted by the smaller English ships. The survivors were pouring into the water, and some swam towards his ship!

“No mercy!”

   Wait, Limey was in spellbook form? Wasn’t this a historical realm?

   Oh, never mind!

“Fry them, my little parchment swab! Yarr!!!”

   The resulting blast set fire to the rigging of the French ship – but some of the French crew were swarming up the sides of HIS ship, clutching blades in their fangs, sinking their claws into the wooden sides of the ship, and dripping water from their fur!

“CHARGE!… Wait, fur?”

   Limey responded with a fullisade of fireballs, detonating the magazine of the french ship! Unfortunately, a modest number of French… Werewolves?… had already boarded, and were hacking at the Thralls – although they were most surprised at the level of resistance from what looked to be cabin boys!

“Yarr! These be the most fearsome cabin boys on the seven seas! Surrender now, ye mangy scalywags, or go see Davy Jones!”

   With the Thralls begin employing telekinesis, lightning, swarms of spiders, coils of serpents, blinding beams of radiant energy and pistols the werewolves resisted with elemental magic and their own fangs and regeneration – but were soon overwhelmed and taken prisoner; Marty had a full crew, and only eight werewolves had made it aboard – although the Thralls were fending off several more who were attempting to scale the hull.

   Meanwhile, the British had destroyed another French ship, but were withdrawing with severe losses themselves while the other two French ships fell back towards the fortress.

“TO DAVY JONES WITH ALL OF YE! Wait, even better! Limey! Can you turn them into toasters?”

“Toasters hard! But already shapeshifting canine things! Puppies! HELPLESS PUPPIES! Baked at 350 degrees with pineapple slices and spices for two and one half hours! Yo-Ho-Ho!”

“All right, ye little buccaneer! Puppies they be!”

   The Thralls – since Marty didn’t order otherwise – scooped up the puppies, including the ones in the sea, leaving them with a couple of dozen of them. They weren’t too sure about baking them though. At least while they were stuck being puppies, they weren’t exactly threatening. They seemed shocked and panicked and not wanting to drown.

   Hard to say how long the spell would last. It’d be about twelve hours normally, but with shapeshifters it might be more or less.

   Limey seemed to have loaded a “Blackbeard” program or something, and was voting for drowning them one by one in a barrel of sea water.

“Ooh! We shall keep them as SLAVE puppies! My crew! Make cages, chains, collars, and silver branding irons!”

“OK!” “Yes sir!” “Aye aye!”

“And be quick with it!”

   The Thralls – at least the ones who weren’t involved in frantic repair and keep-afloat work – did so (with much bustling) while Marty fed Limey a few scrolls, inspired the crew, and tried to use his piloting skill to help keep the ship afloat.

“Yummy! Magic Pirates and Magic Pirate Treasure! And Puppies!”

“What are you going to name yours Limey? Mine’s ‘Dog’!”

“‘Fido’! Very Classic!”


   The puppies weren’t too happy about being branded with hot silver – the howling was pretty loud. On the other hand, they weren’t being drowned, which was something.

   One of the Thralls had a question.

“Sir? Er… I don’t think that werewolves really exist do they? Or at least they SHOULDN”T exist, should they?”

“Yeah, that was bothering me too. What the hell’s going on here?”

   Marty decided to fish some of the stray English sailors out of the water. They seemed to be normal humans, although they were carrying a fair number of minor magical charms. Still, the line of collared, chained, caged, and freshly slave-branded puppies probably made the point about his ruthlessness well enough.

“Right, ye be my captives! And this be me first mate and talking spellbook! Now tell me about these wolfmen, or Limey will turn ye into werepuppy food!”

“Polymorph to Penguin! Talk, or I’ll turn you like him and you’ll get heat stroke and THEN be werepuppy food!”

“Dunno what’s happened to them – unless ye be a truly mighty sorcerer – but they be French sailors! That dog Napoleon has led them across most of Europe, there be fewer of them than of normal people, but they be damned hard to take out! He be putting the beastfolk in charge of real men, instead of chained in the mills and such where they belong!”

“Yarr! That freezes the cockles of my withered heart! What say ye, first mate Limey?”

“Ripe for plunder they be! Werepuppies to keep and Humans to make walk the plank!”

“Then let’s us plunder! I decree that half our human captives shall walk the plank and the other half shall be werepuppy food! Serve two rations of Rum for every member of the crew!”

“Er… Sir? Which side are we on? The werethings seem violent and hostile, but the local humans seem to be prejudiced bastards, even if we haven’t met enough of them to be really sure.”

“They’re all phantasms. I think we’ll go with the humans for now.”

“But… we just fed them to the werepuppies! I know it’s not my place to question sir… but is it really all right just because they’re phantasms?”

   Marty had to think about that for the moment – and remembered how he valued his phantasms at home.

“Well… Yeah, you’re right. Probably shouldn’t be THAT cruel.”

   Besides, they were leaking like a sieve; they’d have to either leave this reality entirely – if they could make it – find an island, or put in along the French coast. There should be several villages with minimal garrisons, although they’d have to get in and get out quickly; the locals would certainly send for aid as they approached!

   Heading into the village, the alarm bell rang, and they were met by the local (human) militia under the direction of a few professional (were) soldiers. Their resistance, however, was no match for the Thralls, Limey, Jamie, and Marty – although there were a fair number of minor injuries by the time they were subdued and the soldiers had joined the other werepuppies.

“Right. Now where are ye carpenters! My ship be holeyer than Notre Dame!”

   Marty drafted the local woodworkers – and kept a careful eye on them to make sure that they did a passable job. The Thralls could handle the scouting for the moment. The basic – improvised – repairs were half-completed when the scouts reported that a major troop detachment was approaching.

   Marty ordered them to try and hold them back long enough for the repairs to be completed. He sent Limey out to provide artillery support, albeit with a couple of thrall-bodyguards and strict orders to run and hide if he got targeted.

   The Thralls managed to hold up the column for almost three hours – long enough for the basic repairs – although they almost all died doing it. Limey got overenthusiastic and got an appendixectomy courtesy of grapeshot when he didn’t listen to his bodyguards, both of whom sacrificed themselves to get him out.

“I told you to run! Now look at you! Archivists would weep!”


“Oh, for the love of God…”

   Oh well, it was his own fault for assuming Limey could be responsible. After all, he was only two and a half months old, and even for a laptop that was pretty young. He glued him back together.

“There. Want me to sing the nursery rhyme again?”

“Sniffle… Snifflee… Is that what it feels like when werepuppies eat their meals? I was mean! Sorry… Want rhymes please.”

“Maybe . . . I don’t know, I think we both got out of hand.”

   The surviving Thralls were hurriedly packing up to go and setting sail, although they had collected all of the other werewolves – mostly kids – in the area. It looked like all the adults were routinely drafted into the military.

“Okay. How did it go again? Ah yes, this little laptop went to market…”

“Loot sir!”

   Marty bundled up Limey and got aboard. “Loot” was always a word that perked him up a bit!

“Did you hear that? Loot!”

   Marty went to look it over while soothing Limey.

“Ooh! Real were-puppies! Cute!”

“Arrr!!! Any of ye kids want to be PIRATES?”

   There were a couple of youngsters who were immediately enchanted with the “pirates” idea, more who were just scared or wanted to go home, and a few who objected on the grounds that pirates got hung. Several of the others weren’t paying attention, as the remaining Thralls were busy getting them collared, caged, and branded. As the rest noticed that, the enthusiasm for Piracy picked up quite suddenly.

   Well, Marty didn’t see any reason why werewolf-kids couldn’t be Thralls too, as long as they had souls. He had the Thralls check…

   What, ALL of them? It… looked like anyone with a soul locally – and only those with souls – got issued an ID as a werecreature or as a human sorcerer. Everyone else was a phantasm. Hm. He’d just hit a motherlode of treasure – and he had a potential crew! He brandished his sword;

“Who’s with me?”

   It might not be that big a world – the focus was obviously some weird version of the Napoleonic Wars – but it might be fun. All the thralls were with him, of course, as were the pirate-recruits. The ones in cages really weren’t showing much enthusiasm and several of the Thralls were busy with recall-rituals to get the others back.

   Marty decided to head for Kadia, where the thralls could explain Kevin’s contract. It was totally voluntary of course, but he STRONGLY recommended if for members of his crew who were kids. He offered the two actual adults positions at Amarant Solutions. Most of the actual were-combatants seemed to be teenage boys, although there didn’t seem to be that much formal sex-discrimination in this realm. Presumably the same went for the English mages, although they seemed to spend most of their time making talismans to enhance the regular Eglish troops

   The recruitment success rate was pretty good; all the weres knew that they were going to be drafted into the military at ten or so anyway. Looked like the French were heavy on werewolves and the English were heavy on mages.

“Don’t worry about people staring at you when I take you to headquarters. The guy filling my local position is a flaming hellbeast. And no one even notices! But he’s a really great guy once you get to know him, and a tough fighter!”

   Besides, in Kadia surely the computers would know how to do proper repairs. They had to have files. Next time he’d be ready for piracy with a crew of Thralls and Werewolves and Werewolf-Thralls!

   Limey still needed cuddling though. It was the first time the little guy had been hurt – and he was responsible. He was still upset and inclined to sniffle. On the other hand, he was also showing some sympathy for others – which was a definite sign of personal growth. “Pain” had just acquired meaning for him.

“Aw, this isn’t so bad. Death’s much worse. But we’re lucky. We just wake up the next morning. Well, you boot up, but it’s the same thing.”

“They don’t?!? That’s REALLY mean of SOMEBODY! Make them quit!”

“I don’t know how. (Marty snuggled Limey) But I’m trying.”

   It looked like Limey would have a few scars for a bit, but they’d fade as he worked more healing magic on himself. He had to do each page individually, like repairing damaged files.

“And guess what? You can remove those booboos! Most people can’t do that either!”


“I know. If I find them, I’ll beat them up.”

“Me too!”

“Hey, I know what will cheer you up! Let’s go to the arcade and talk to the machines!”


   Marty infused some of the machines with sentience. The racing game still let him play it, although the other racers fought back a bit harder, and when he crashed the machine stomped on his foot and gave him a bloody nose.

   Limey and the other machines were conspiring to acquire extra quarters by selling the players extra lives, to buy out the arcade owner, and to go into business for themselves.

   Marty decided not to get involved with that.

   The new recruits were enjoying Kadia, although they were somewhat flabbergasted. Some of them were a bit resentful to be told that – if they did’t want to be recruited – they were going to be indentured for a period since they had been brought in as slave-captives, but most of them were pretty obviously aware that it could be a lot worse.

   Well, it wasn’t like Marty and Jamie were nice guys in that realm – and even if they had been, Kadia offered many many benefits and they wouldn’t age there even if they did get 50-year indentures. It was probably still better than the French army; a lot of them would die in the fighting in their home realm whether they were weres or not. It wasn’t like the opposition didn’t know what they were fighting

   That reminded him about asking them how long the French had been recruiting werewolves.

   It seemed that werewolves had first emerged about eighteen years ago, when magic suddenly started working. There were a few other types – but almost all the shapeshifters in Europe were werewolves. England had cracked down on them when they first appeared, and so had a few other countries. Napoleon was a were, and had been leading the shapeshifters to their “natural place” as the rulers of Europe. Human mages were somewhat more powerful than the Werewolves overall, but were a lot more fragile and needed a lot of training: the shapeshifters powers tend to be instinctive.

   England and company tended to chain the shapeshifters up and put them to work at heavy, nasty, dangerous jobs – things where regeneration, boosted strength, and boosted durability made them most useful. The were’s really did have violent tendencies sometimes – especially early on and (most importantly) if untaught as to how to control things or if left without the aid and guidance of older weres. They’d gotten a really bad reputation with the initial ones, who had no one to guide them.

“Well hell, you’d fit right in where I’m from. We just don’t change into wolves!”

“Yes Sir!”

   Marty left Jamie to get the crew organized and went to check in with Limey and Julia.

   Julia’s dragon had eaten her three times, but had been quite subdued since then. Both Abigail and Julia had beaten it for that. Lots and lots.

   Apparently the bindings and such didn’t hold it nearly as tightly in Battling Business World as in the Dragonworlds. The place was probably strongly aligned with freedom and chaos. Still, it was nicely subdued now though. It was good to see that they were handling it just fine. Maybe when it got older it could fly Julia to school. She was already breaking it in, although she wanted a saddle.

“I’ll bring one next time I visit, okay?”

“OK! I’ll have him all ready for riding then!”

   Abigail wanted to know about vaccinations, proper diet, veterinary care, and WHAT THE HELL MARTY HAD BEEN THINKING!

   Well, the first bit was easy enough: the thing was a normal slave-purchase from the Dragonworlds; it’s vaccinations were covered, its diet was pretty much like humans plus some basic metals and rocks, veterinary care was minimal (and would be covered by Kevin), and it had been obedience-conditioned, marked, fitted with tracking and restraint chips, and fixed.

“It was a unique gift and a real deal!”

   Abigail wasn’t really pleased at most of that. While the information on food relieved a worry and the free vet care was useful, she wasn’t so sure about allowing Julia to own it, or about it having been fixed. It was clearly intelligent, even if it was a bit dim.

“It calmed down when you two showed it who’s boss, right?”

“Yes – which kind of demonstrates at least a bit of intelligence. More importantly, it talks! It reasons, and it pleads! It’s not RIGHT to keep it as a pet!”

“Well, think of it more as a playmate. Much more fun than a dog or cat! It can read, write, and play games with her! You’d never need a babysitter again. And who’d want to go through it to do anything to her?”

“All very nice! But it seems to be a child itself, and it’s intelligent, and it’s being treated like a dog! What kind of example is that setting for her? Would you like to see that being done to her?”

   Marty had to think about that for a moment. Abigail didn’t know about phantasms of course – but still…

“Ah, well . . . gah, you’ve always been more level-headed than me! Of course not! Maybe if we treated it as a guest… Thing’s trained to be loyal to her anyway.”

“Well, that would be something anyway!”

   She wasn’t hitting him because she just didn’t think it would do any good at this point. Was she concluding that he was hopeless? That REALLY hurt!

“Well, it’s always nice to see the little one. Hey Limey, want to meet my daughter?”

“Hi! How do you like your dragon? Has it been being good? I caught some werepuppies!”

“Yes, you were a big help.”

“Wanna be a dragon? Marty tried being a dragon! He was Green! I have Polymorph if you want to try!”

“No, Limey, that’s okay. The ex-wife has enough on her hands with one, I think.”

   Marty settled down to watch them play and smiled sheepishly.

“I certainly do! Although it hasn’t actually been much trouble. Things have been oddly calm, even if there are a lot of squirrels around… Wait, have you got something to do with that somehow?”

“Squirrels? Honey, you know I grew up in the middle of Brooklyn! I didn’t even know what a squirrel was until we bought this house! Are they eating the woodwork? Clogging up the gutters?”

“No, but I keep seeing them on the roof, and looking in the windows, and everywhere! I think they’re… FORMING A UNION!”

   Marty feigned horrific shock!

“Oh. My. God… I knew there was something behind those beady little eyes! I bet they were responsible for that attack on the INS!”

   He told Limey to be quiet about that through the link; he was NOT to say anything about his involvement! Or, for that matter, Martys!

“I’ll start setting some traps! If the come back inside that tree, we can just nail it up and they’ll be trapped!”

“Good thinking. We’ve got to be careful in case they start demanding birdhouse rights!”

   Marty got to work setting up traps. They should be no real trouble for the Thralls to circumvent. The Thralls would be more careful anyway; they hadn’t thought that anyone paid any attention to squirrels.

Star Wars Technological Explanations I

   The Star Wars universe has several major unexplained technologies and quite a few that only appear in a few expanded-universe sources. For the purposes of the Star Wars game, quite a few of those are probably going to be non-canon – but it’s best to know at least a bit about how the rest are supposed to work: it makes it so much easier to answer questions about what can be done with them and what their limitations are.

   This time around, I’m going to cover three of the basic technologies – Monopolium, Power Sources, and Dark Energy Manipulation.

   Monopolium is actually relatively simple: it’s matter in some or all of the electrons have been replaced by magnetic monopoles: as the monopole moves, it generates an electrical field – and thus, despite having no charge, a monopole can replace an electron and occupy an orbital of it’s own very near an atomic nucleus. In fact, the orbital is so near, and so tightly bound, that the binding energy is an enormous fraction of the monopole’s rest mass. It also will not invoke the Pauli Exclusion Principal with electrons.

   The result is a smaller, somewhat more dense, and far more stable atom with modified chemical and electrical properties and – since the interaction distances are far smaller – with extremely high molecular bonding energies, resulting in extraordinarily tough materials.

   Unfortunately, the generation of Monopoles requires extraordinary energies, massive equipment, and is horribly expensive. Still, small amounts of Monopolium underlie many of the technological feats of the Star Wars universe.

   Now, this isn’t entirely fantasy: while most theories that predict monopoles say that they’re going to be too massive for this sort of thing to be practical, no one’s actually seen one – and Star Wars physics doesn’t have to be entirely realistic.

Power Systems:

   “Power Cells” are simply high-voltage, high-capacity, and low-leakage capacitors – a technology made possibly by exploiting thin films of high-quality monopolium – which, with it’s massive internal magnetic field and lack of electrons makes a near-perfect insulator.

   Most local power systems use variants on the Polywell or Bussard Fusor systems. While practical power generation systems are too bulky for most hand-held devices – although you can carry them in a pack easily enough – most vehicles, portable power systems, welding and cutting gear, and similar items all run on fusion power.

   “Hypermatter” systems involve Dark Energy Manipulation – essentially the exploitation of the Cosmological Constant.

   Dark Energy Manipulation underlies several of Star War’s more exotic technologies. In this case, it’s relatively simple: it’s been known for thousands of years that, when high-energy photons are projected through properly-structured transparent matter (which normally means high-quality crystals) an electronuclear interaction occurs: the interaction of the cosmological repulsive force with normal matter is either greatly enhanced or diminished within a modest distance beyond the crystals used; which effect occurs depends on the modulation and structure of the crystals being employed, the total volume affected depends on the net energy of the photon beam, the shape depends on the focus of the beam, and the strength of the effect depends on the frequency of the photons being used. Since the reaction forces are exerted against the dark energy field, there is no kickback against the generator. Secondarily, since most of the energy comes from the cosmological constant, you get more power out than you put in – even if most of it is in unusable forms.

   If he interaction is enhanced, the area affected repels any matter that enters it. If suppressed, the area draws in any matter that contacts it.

  • Using repulsive fields, at relatively low power this effect is used for repulsorlift technologies.
  • At midrange power levels, you get sublight drives – and if you project the field through the ship, it partially compensates for inertial problems by accelerating every atom within the area at once – although it takes very careful tuning to keep this balanced at the high end.
  • At high power levels, molecules within the field tear themselves apart – and you start getting pair-production and luminescence at the fringes of the field. The effect is even more spectacular in atmosphere, where recombining molecules create microshockwaves (heard as a humming or crackling sound) and additional light. This is the basic effect underlying Lightsabers – which seem solid to each other since the fields interact with and repel each other. Since the “blade” is a modified area of space however, and it’s disruptive effect is reactionless, Lightsabers can be easily driven into even the toughest materials – although such materials may resist for some time.
  • At very high power levels atomic nuclei tear themselves apart, breaking down and releasing massive amounts of energy – however this effect is a bit too uncontrollable for small-scale use; it does make a marvelous way to power massive military systems however, in which application it is known as a “hypermatter system” – and can recycle it’s fuel by feeding the stripped nucleons into a fusion reactor, although this loses more and more of it to neutrons as you recycle mass. It’s also the effect which underlies the Death Star’s beam; the Death Star does require a massive power input, but the energy that tears planets apart comes from the dark energy potential of the area affected, not from the Death Star itself.

   As far as attractive fields go:

  • Low-power attractive fields are used for artificial gravity effects.
  • Mid-power attractive field are used for tractor beams, and to disrupt “hyperspace travel”.
  • High power levels are used for molecular-compaction systems and microfusion warheads – wherein they induce a momentary compression-pulse sufficient to induce a very small fusion reaction, an effect which lies at the core of Thermal Detonators.
  • Very high power levels are used in condensed-matter and monopole production systems, but are – once again – far too clumsy for use in anything below a massive system.

   Some effects are used in combination: Shields are generated by a simple radius-broadcast system: one strong repulsive system with a slightly longer range and one attractive one with a slightly smaller range but equal power. Within the radius of the attractive effect, the two fields cancel each other act. Just beyond it, you get a powerful repulsive “shell” or “shield”. Shields are effective against particle beams and physical weapons, not against lasers – as is clearly obvious by the fact that you can see through them.

   A combination of repulsive and attractive fields (to generate and shape a massive pulse of high-energy particles without recoil – and yet still carrying a potentially massive impact) is also used in “blasters” and “ion cannons”. Since such devices are mostly powered by Dark Energy, they are more powerful, and can fire for much longer, than laser weapons. However, since lasers are unaffected by shields, they are often preferred for ship-to-ship confrontations. Shields are visible, however, thanks to low-powered molecular disruptions. Touch one, it will disrupt the surface molecules of your hand and repel you by throwing some of them back at you – providing the shock/burn effect.

   As a side-note, at High and Very High power levels, the crystals used in the generation systems are under tremendous stress and must be near-flawless. This requires either that they be constructed using large amounts of monopolium (and thus be massively heavy), that they only be needed to function for a brief period before self-destructing, or that they be lightly reinforced with monopolium (which makes growing such crystals a task for force-manipulation) and repaired on the fly when flaws develop. That requires a certain amount of force-infusion. The weapon needs to be a good match with the mind of the user to allow the users energies to repair flaws as they occur. This results in the occasional “flicker” and “sparks” seen in lightsabers; such symptoms appear when a crystal has started to flaw and has been repaired. Non-force sensitives cannot effectively use a lightsaber for very long without it losing power and eventually burning out – which is why you don’t find troops using the things to penetrate blockhouses and blast doors and such.

   That’s also why they each tend to be a somewhat unique design, with materials chosen that seem to “fit” as far as the user is concerned and why a relatives old lightsaber works better for a trainee than one from a stranger; the pattern is more compatible. Still, it’s best to build your own. Growing your own crystals – tuned to your force powers from the beginning – is the very best way to make them though. A careful study of a lightsaber can tell you quite a bit about the crafter – and the same crystal-modifying technique is used to create holochron crystals

Vampire: Mc’Andrew’s Notebooks I

  Mc’Andrew was a scientist-vampire, a dabbler in the occult, and scattered theories and research projects around like rice at a wedding. Today it’s a segment from one of his personal notebooks – an examination of Garou Genetics, it’s relationship to Metis deformities, possible methods of correcting those deformities, and on how regeneration works in the World of Darkness.

Garou Genetics:

   Genetics is a complicated subject to cover in a few pages, but here goes.

   What we know from the rulebooks goes something like this;

  1. Garou are occasionally thrown up from among the population of normal humans and wolves, often many generations down the line from a Garou ancestor. This only occurs about one time out of every ten thousand births.
  2. Only one in ten of the children fathered by, or borne by, a Garou turns out to be a Garou – unless the child is Garou on both sides – in which case the child is a deformed and sterile Metis due to “inbreeding”. (As a note, this isn’t inbreeding. Inbreeding occurs when closely-related individuals mate – and two Garou are not necessarily more closely related then two Salmon. Even if they were, “inbreeding” isn’t necessarily bad; it increases the chances of expressing bad latent genes – but it increases the chances for expressing good ones as well).
  3. Garou can breed with both Humans and Wolves.

   The Garou, like everyone else, get their genes from their parents.

   Therefore, all the genes necessary to produce Garou are floating around in the Human genepool.

   Grandchildren get their genes from the grandparents through their parents.

   Therefore, all the genes necessary to produce Metis are floating around in the Human genepool.

   Humans never produce Metis offspring – even if they mate with Garou.

   If “being Garou” took only a single, dominant, gene then only a Garou parent could produce a Garou – and 50% of their kids would be Garou. This will not do.

   If “Garou-ness” took only a single, recessive, gene then a Garou mated with a random human would produce a Garou only one time in a 100 (If Garou are born 1 time in 10,000 it’s because 1 in 4 children of two carriers will inherit 2 copies of a recessive gene – and the odds of two carriers mating are thus 1 in (10,000/4). If 1 in 50 carries the gene, then the chance of 2 mating is thus 1 in 2500, which is correct – but that means that even with a Garou parent, there is only a 1% chance of the other parent contributing the correct gene. This also will not do).

   Incompletely Dominant genes are subject to the same logic as dominant genes.

   Being a Garou therefore involves more then a single gene.

   None of these genes show any distinguishable marker traits. The only common trait for relationship to the Garou is not being subject to Delirium – and that is not a marker trait for Garou genes, since it’s very common for the human parents of a Garou to be subject to the Delirium, when they necessarily have the genes to be related to the Garou.

   Since there are no marker traits, the “Garou Genes” cannot be Dominant or Incompletely Dominant genes.

   They also cannot be entirely latent, or every Garou would have to have them paired. If that was true, one or two generations of intermarrying Garou Kinfolk – as is routine with the Children of Gaia – would produce a great many Garou as the genes accumulate.

   It hasn’t. Therefore they are not entirely latent. The only possibility left is a combination of several, semilatent, genes – genes which are only expressed if or when some critical number of them are present.

   Children inherit one-half of their genes from each of their parents, at random. Each has a 50% chance of being passed along. The mating of two Garou would thus produce a tremendous variety of results : Human. Human Kinfolk. Garou. Metis (presumably if/when some of the recessive genes wind up paired), Wolf, and Wolf Kinfolk.

   This does not happen. The children of two Garou are always Metis – and, as noted earlier, Humans carry all the Garou genes, but never give birth to Metis.

   Since that eliminates all possible genetic scenarios, the problem is not genetic.

   Environmental problems, including prenatal hormone exposure, will not work either, since the problem only appears with certain combinations of parents.

   There isn’t much else in the way of natural effects to work with. Pretty much all you’ve got with an embryo is it’s genes and environment.

   Spiritual heritage problems can be ruled out as well. Since (in the edition this was written for) reincarnation is a well-established fact for pretty much everyone, the scenarios available on the spiritual level are strictly limited. Any combination except two garou spiritual parents is fine – and – given reincarnation – the parents cannot be responsible for the spiritual traits of their offspring: those come along with the reincarnating spirit. Something weird and arcane might happen after the father contributes his sperm and before fertilization and a spirit arrives to take up incarnation due to the nature of the father – there might be a “spiritual imprint” or something – but the only apparent effect of such a thing would be to produce Metis. On checking, there didn’t seem to be any such mechanism, which would be expected since there’s no reason for one.

   If it isn’t natural, it must be arcane – a “curse”.

   A curse that affects an entire species. World wide. For millennia. That affects it’s target’s children only – and only if they belong completely to the Garou.

   Such a curse can only be a part of static reality – maintained by the Sleepers. It’s rather doubtful that the Wyrm has the power, or the consistency – and if it did, why limit it? It wants to destroy. If it could do that to the Garou, the universe should be long gone.

   Ergo, it’s the Humans. Nobody else has the power to shift static reality anyway.

   That makes sense. Mages are reborn – and Mages are only Sleepers who awake to their power. Everybody gets reborn, and deep down there, Humans have a damned good reason to be angry with the Garou, to leave their kids by Humans (and, incidently, Wolves), alone, and to limit the number of Garou running around and breeding. There’s collaborating evidence among the Garou; The Litany was established at the same time the Impergium was ended – and it is the Litany that prohibits Garou mating with Garou.

   This also explains the Veil – and the fact that the everyone isn’t Kinfolk. There are more Garou then ever before – and fewer Kin. Kinfolk are those humans who are willing to forgive the Garou – or who hate them enough not to turn away in disgust.

Curing Metis:

   As demonstrated, Metis deformities and sterility aren’t genetic. They’re supernatural. This means that the possibilities for a “cure” are limited.

   There’s always magic. Mages can defy static reality quite readily. They do it all the time. Unfortunately, this does not fall within McAndrew’s field, although it does have the support of at least one case – wherein a Garou with a mage for a father mated with another “lost” Garou, and wound up with perfectly healthy Garou kids. They just didn’t know any better – and his father made it work.

   Corrective surgery and treatment is possible for some Metis deformities. Sadly, there are difficulties with using corrective surgery on a regenerating being. The process will tend to undo all your work.

   On the other hand, it is possible for Garou to scar and take permanent damage. Therefore there is some way to change the pattern the regeneration acts on. This usually (as per the “Battle Scars” table, and associated rules) seems to occur when a Garou takes enough damage to overload his/her regenerative abilities. Apparently natural (or artifical) healing applied while a Garou’s regeneration isn’t working can establish a new pattern – to which the Garou’s body will revert thereafter.

   Unfortunately, you can’t perform corrective surgery on a patient who starts out in critical condition from other injuries. It would kill them.

   On the other hand – Garou don’t regenerate in Human form. If the corrective surgery is performed while in Human form – and they refrain from shapeshifting until healed – this ought to set a new pattern.

   It’s not surprising that this hasn’t been tried. As a rule, Garou don’t go in for medicine very much, corrective surgery for deformities is a relatively recent development in any case, it is ordinarily performed on infants (and Metis, with a natural Crinos form, cannot be exposed to human surgeons until they learn to shift their shape), it’s expensive – and repairing deformities may well require supernormal techniques in any case.

   Perhaps the most bizarre possible technique is just to get the humans to forgive you. Become a hero. Find a way to rescue a horde of kids or something like that. If you can manage that, and get the humans around you to perceive you as “normal”, perhaps you’ll become that way.

   A primary problem with corrective surgery is simply that the “curse” may cause it to revert anyway. If it does, the process will probably take quite a while, as static reality doesn’t usually go in for sudden shifts in things. It just isn’t in it’s nature. On the other hand, given a Garou’s lifestyle, five or six years may be almost as good as forever anyway – especially if it gets combined with getting the humans to forgive them. Simply being seen as normal by some human beings would probably extend the reversion time indefinitely.

   As for the sterility – a solution to that depends on whether it’s a straightforward supernatural effect, a correctable physical defect produced by supernatural means, or a supernaturally produced defect which turns out to be uncorrectable by medical means. If that case applies (if, say, the mechanism of the curse is to produce rampant genetic defects), then only magical interventions will be fully effective – although there is always the possibility that the normal selection of treatments for infertility may be applicable.

   Of course, that assumes that the Garou would accept such treatment. Given the difficulty that McAndrew has been having with a simple sperm bank, he has doubts.

On Regenerative Mechanisms:

   “Regeneration” is apparently accomplished by one or more mechanisms that return scattered molecules of the user’s body to their original locations. Whatever the nature of that mechanism, it seems to take much longer to restore injuries that have resulted in a disruption down on the molecular level. Hence most regeneratives are subject to injury through fire, hard radiation – and anything which disrupts that repair mechanism and/or the pattern it follows. Such injuries are “aggravated” – and require considerable energy and time to repair.

   The nature of the pattern can be considered in some detail. It maintains itself for some time in spite of physical injury, but gradually adapts to the structure of the physical body as natural healing occurs. It is a part of the normal human body, since vampires have a pattern as well (as demonstrated by the possibility of vampires having permanent disabilities acquired before the embrace), is preserved changelessly in a vamphyric existence, and can be “scarred” by supernatural means, such as “Taste Of Death”.

   There is only one such field in a normal body. The so-called Kirlian Aura. One of the few things Humans, Garou, Vampires, Mummies, and Wraiths, have in common.

   Vampires, lacking the ordinary life processes which stabalize most creatures molecular structure, are very vulnerable to anything that “disrupts” whatever field- effect they use to do so. Apparently ultraviolet light in certain frequencies has that effect.

   Garou apparently do not suffer from that effect (It may be some mystical vulneribility to that disruption) – but they do suffer from contact with Silver, a metal that apparently disrupts their Aura. Once a disruption in their aura occurs, their own regenerative abilities become the problem – automatically “healing” their own flesh to match the auric disruption. Once that occurs, the tissues will no longer provide a pattern for their aura to revert to, so the damage becomes “aggravated”, and will not heal until the aura does. Of course, this means that if their regenerative effect is not active, silver is harmless to Garou. Their regeneration is not active in human form – and they can handle silver. Q.E.D.

Thera: The ShuKenja

   Today it’s another one of the exotic base classes from the d20 world of Thera – in this case, the wizard-priests of the Eastern Empire.

   The ShuKenja (“Followers Of Magic”) attune their spirits to Thera’s Runes – making their power a part of themselves. While this grants them tremendous flexibility within the limits of their specialities, they’re limited by the Rule Of Three; ShuKenja cannot attune to more then three runes.

   Thanks to the thousands of runes available on Thera, ShuKenja vary enormously. A wielder of the Runes of Purification, Healing and Warding makes an excellent village priest – but a master of Storm, War, and Beasts is a different proposition.








Special Abilities








Rune Mastery II
















Talent I








Attunement I
















Talent II








RuneMastery III
























Talent III








Attunement II








Tong Membership








Sustained Spell








Talent IV








RuneMastery IV








Spirit Invocation








Talent V








Attunement III
















Talent VI

Class Features:

  • Alignment; Any, but Diabolic is very rare.
  • Hit Die; D6
  • Mana per Level; Chr + Int OR Chr + Wis
  • BAB, BCL, and MSL; Base Attack Bonus, Base Caster Level, and Maximum Spell Level usable.
  • Saves A, B, and C; Assign to Fortitude, Willpower, and Reflex as seems appropriate to the character.
  • Class Skills; Alchemy (Or Animal Empathy), Bluff, Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Heal, Perform, Intimidate, Knowledge (Specify), Pick Pocket, Profession, Runecraft, Scry, Speak Languages, Spellcraft, and Use Magic Device. “Runecraft” is automatically limited to bonded runes, QV; Rune Mastery. Specialist Shukenja are usually known as Wu Yen.
  • Skill Points; 4+Int Modifier Per level, x4 at L1.
  • Weapon and Armor Proficiency; Simple Weapons and any two Martial Weapons, or a single Exotic Weapon.

Special Abilities:

  • Rune Mastery permits the user to bond with one of Thera’s (numerous) runes. The user may weave any spell within the domain of the rune for which he/she both has the necessary mana, and lies within the limits of his ability. Each level of this ability allows the user to bond with a single new rune, or to upgrade his/her attunement to one already bonded. Bonding to a rune a second time halves the mana costs of spells using that rune. Bonding a third time converts runic spellcasting to a supernatural ability and provides a +5 bonus on Runecraft.
    • Unfortunately, tapping into a rune without having a spell ready to channel it’s energies through is somewhat unstable, even a Shukenja must make a Runecraft check to do so – albeit at a DC of only [(Spell Level + 1)x5]. Thanks to their special attunement, a failure is not dangerous, but is time-consuming; the casting will require 1 extra round per point by which the roll was missed. Shukenja may take ten on such rolls if the situation isn’t stressful.
    • Roll Runecraft >= (Spell Level +1) x 5
  • Runesense permits user’s to detect it when the powers of a bonded rune are being used in the immediate area. The user may spend skill points on a “runesense” skill to enhance this ability if desired; high rolls will allow the user to analyze the forces in play.
  • Talents permit the user to progress a step along the path of his / her chosen talent(s). Some sample talents are provided – but others are certainly possible. See “Talents”, below.
  • Attunement allows the user to gain a minor special ability related to a “mastered” rune. These may be a particular feat or some lesser supernatural “talent”. Common effects include minor resistances, the ability to infuse your weapons with some special ability, a (modest) boost to an attribute, immunity to possession or acquiring a spirit-companion.
  • Familiar / Mount allows the user to gain a familiar, mount or animal companion, as seems appropriate to the nature of his/her runes. The appropriate tables of abilities should be used, albeit at -3 levels.
  • Meditation permits the user to regain mana as if within a magic circle, without the need to actually draw one. A ShuKenjas recovery is always based on his or her Charisma.
  • Contacts allows user’s to make a Charisma check to see if they know someone in the area. Such an individual may or may not help of course – but will at least be inclined to talk, rather then chase you away. ShuKenjas keep in touch with a great variety of people, and are often owed a few favors.
  • Tong Membership indicates that you will be approached or recruited by a “secret society” of some sort. Such a group is always fairly compatible with the character’s personality – but refusing to join is unwise. ShuKenja are highly respected and valued members of Tongs, even if outsiders regard them with suspicion.
  • Sustained Spell gives the user the ability to keep one spell at a time running past it’s normal duration – or even indefinitely. Sadly for the ShuKenja, they can’t begin sustaining for 1D4 hours after dropping a prior choice.
  • Spirit Invocation permits the user to call on the spirits for a spell even if they don’t have enough mana left. This can be used once per day to cast a single spell of up to level seven – but the user will owe the “spirits” a notable favor.
  • Position / Patron indicates that a magical being of some sort will offer you a position, or become your patron, in the celestial bureaucracy. You may be given very odd jobs, but you may continue to intervene after death and will enjoy a certain authority over spirits and minor fey.

Common ShuKenja Talent Trees:

The Spirit Way:

   The path of ghosts and demons focuses on the forces of the Astral and Ethereal plane. This path’s talents must be taken in order;

  • Wraith Eyes grants the ability to perceive Astral or Ethereal beings with a successful DC 15 Spot check.
  • The Spirit Tongue allows the user to speak with the spirits of nature and the dead, pro- jecting his or her thoughts into the level of reality in which they dwell. While this does not guarantee that they’ll listen or respond, they will at least understand…
  • Reaching Beyond permits the user to extend the effects of his touch and powers into both the Astral and Ethereal plane, taking whichever set of modifiers is most advantageous.
  • Going Forth allows the user to engage in a limited form of “Astral Projection” – using a trance state to explore the Astral and Ethereal planes. Thanks to this experience, characters with this talent may easily return as spirits after death.
  • Walk The Worlds permits it’s user to cross the boundaries between the Astral, Ethereal, and Physical planes under specific circumstances; at a crossroads or henge, at twilight and dawn, through mirrors, thru meditation, or whatever seems appropriate. As a rule this can be done up to three times per day – carrying along up to (Chr Mod) others.
  • Spirit Gate allows the user to open a gate to the Astral / Ethereal, to either pass thru or to call forth spirits. Unfortunately, this requires a lengthy ritual, and does not grant command over what is summoned.

The Herbalists Way:

   Mystic Herbalists can infuse their potions and mixtures with energy drawn from the flow of positive and negative C’hi.

  • Brew Potion allows the creation of magical potions, as per the standard rules.
  • Healing Infusions can Neutralize Poisons, Cure Critical Wounds, Cure Blindness, Cure Deafness and repair many similar afflictions. This talent permits it’s user to apply a mixture of herbs to produce such an effect three times per day. Using this talent requires Herbalism at 8+.
  • Venom Mastery permits the user to create a variety of toxins capable of inflicting up to 1D6/1D6 attribute damage – or four times that to HP, Power, Mana. These have a DC of (14 + Int Mod). This requires Herbalism 8+
  • Spelldraughts allow the herbalist to share the effect of a single-target, or “personal”, spell with up to eleven others, once per day. Using this requires Herbalism at 10+
  • DragonPowder allows it’s users to apply up to three “levels” of metamagic to spells in a day, without raising the levels of the spells so enhanced or having metamagical feats. This requires Herbalism at 12+
  • SpellCrystals take many forms; handfuls of quartz pebbles, written prayers, firecrackers and powdered herbs. Their effect is similar; the user may precast and save for later user up to three spells at a time – releasing them as if they were quickened. It requires Herbalism at 15+.

The Warding Way:

   This path focuses on channeling magic into personal defenses.

  • Spirit Ward allows the user to add his/her Charisma Modifier to one category of saves… It may be taken up to three times – each time it applies to a new save catagory.
  • The Heaven Shield allows the user to throw a counter- or defensive spell as a “reflexive action” three times a day.
  • The Thunder Ward allows the user to divert damage from HP to MP, essentially a crude but automatic defensive spell.
  • The Imperial Ward permits the user to take the brunt of supernatural attacks on those in a 10′ R – anybody the user chooses to protect within that area will take half or no effect. This ability can be used up to 3/day.

The Sages Way:

   The path of the scholar is fairly obvious, but is one of the most highly respected.

  • Mystic Lore; While this pertains to mystic events, occult secrets, magical symbolism and so on, it works just like Bardic Lore.
  • Incantation calls on spirits to reduce the required level of any single spell effect the user wants to cast by one, 3x times a day. It can also be used to reduce the level of any 3 specific effects by one level permanently. No single spell can, however, be subject to both effects.
  • Invocation allows the user to regain (5D6) Mana Points, as a free action, 1/day.
  • Secret Lore grants bonus mana equal to the user’s skill in Knowledge/(Select; Feng Shui, The Planes, Religion, Astronomy, or Mineralogy), or Herbalism provided that he or she is properly equipped with talismans. This may be taken up to three times – adding three skills.
  • Stop The Sands permits user’s to interrupt the normal initiative/combat sequence to take an extra action up to three times a week. The strain of this extraordinary effort does, however, cause fatigue. Incantation and Invocation are both prerequisites.

The Way Of Immortality:

   This path concentrates on controlling C’hi – and using it to maintain the physical body. It’s disciplines include;

  • Purity Of Body; As per Monks.
  • Wholeness Of Body; As per Monks.
  • The Embryonic Pearl allows the user to add half of his or her personal mana score to the duration of each age category.
  • Diamond Body; As per Monks. Requires both Purity and Wholeness Of Body as prerequisites.
  • Inner Alchemy; The user need not breathe and no longer suffers aging penalties. This does, however, require the Embryonic Pearl ability.
  • Perfect Self; As per Monks. Unlike a monk, the user no longer ages at all, but undergoes a gradual purification/transformation into an ethereal member of the Celestial Court. When the characters “time is up” they will ascend, and take their place as a spirit functionary. They tend to gradually “withdraw” long before that however. Requires both Diamond Body and Inner Alchemy.

Latest Material Index

   Updated May 28

   It’s once again time to get the latest material index updated and to transfer the material from the old one to the main index tabs. If you want the very latest material, it may be necessary to either scroll down or consult the “Recent Posts” listing-widget on the lower right The previous Latest Materials Index can be found HERE.

Star Wars Material:

  • 10CH, Retired-Assassin Droid. A particularly dangerous PC-Droid.
  • Kira Keldav. A renegade Sith apprentice of the Old Republic.
  • New Droids. The HUND wilderness-assistant and CLS10 piloting-assistance droids.
  • Technical Explanations I: Monopolium, Power Sources, and Dark Energy Manipulation – including Repulsorlifts, Sublight Drives, Lightsabers, Hypermatter Reactors, Artificial Gravity, Tractor Beams, Gravity Well Projectors, Thermal Detonators, Shields, Blasters, and Creating Lightsaber Crystals.
  • Technical Explanations II: Mental Manipulations, Interrogation, the Force and Biochemical Adaption, Species Interbreeding, Alien Powers, Transplant Surgery, Unexplained Deaths, Technological Limitations and Enhancements, and Bacta.
  • Technical Explanations III: The Galactic Republic, Major Projects, Currency, the Interstellar Trionist Conspiracy, and Extragalactic Exploration.

d20 Material:

  • Federation-Apocalypse Campaign Log: Session 57, Session 58, (due to interludes, Session 59 was Marty’s Vacation,  but has been listed after session 60 to keep thing in sequence), Session 60, A Draconic Interlude (Part I, Part II, and Part III), Marty’s Vacation Interlude, and Session 61.
  • Thera: The Runelord Epic Class and the Epic Hero Class. Thera’s two possible epic paths – the Path of Godhood and the Path of Exaltation.
  • Thera: Channeling Exotic Forces. Rules for channeling order, chaos, fire, transformation, and many other forces beyond positive and negative energy.
  • Thera: Magical Basics. Rules for Mana, acquiring and casting spells, using items, the Rule of Three, and working circle and rune magic on Thera.
  • Thera: ShuKenja. The spell-improvising wizard-priests of the eastern empire.

Godlike Material:

  • Regers Tallman: A glider pilot who needs no engine to take his ship into space.

Continuum II Material:

  • Priests and Servitors. The wielders of Invocation. Here too are some Priestly Examples of how various groups of priests relate to their deities.
  • Demons and Manitou. How Demons, Elementals, and Nature Spirits work in Continuum II, and how you can play them.
  • Faerie and Dragons. How Faerie and Dragons work in Continuum II, how to play one, and where the myths about them come from.
  • The Undead. How Lesser, Intermediate, and Greater Undead – including vampires and such – work in Continuum II and how to play them.

Shadowrun Material:

Champions Material:

  • Henry Blake. An Elemental Magician of the Heroic Extra-Terrestrial Law Protectors.
  • Dreamwalker. An astoundingly powerful astral projection, and another HELP member.
  • Nimrod the Hunter. An escapee from that pre-d20 fantasy game and a member of HELP.
  • Shaman. Another fantasy-game escapee and a member of HELP.

World of Darkness Material:

Shadowrun: Hitomi Gilespi

   Here’s the first version of a possible player character for the current shadowrun campaign – Hitomi Gilespi, a young witch and social specialist.

   Hitomi, and her twin brother Hitoshi, moved in with their grandmother Maylinde when they were not quite twelve, shortly after the (apparently; who can ever be sure?) accidental death of their mother Tanelith (she never would talk about their father much, and neither will most of their other relatives). Both possessed some magical talent, but took opposing approaches after Tanelith died; Hitomi turned outwards, latching onto everyone around her. Hitoshi withdrew into his own darkened world, connecting with others only to manipulate them. He’s currently out of touch…

   Hitomi has found a revealing dichotomy between her aunt Rivienne – who works for Lone Star in law enforcement – and her Uncle Tristan, who works for a “private security firm”, doing things that apparently involve a lot of combat cyberware and heavy weapons. Neither the “social order” nor the “pragmatic mercenary” philosophies really worked for her; they both had their points, but they tended to leave out entirely too much. There had to be some middle ground.

   Basic Expenditures: Resources 0 (5 KNY), Skills 18 (40 Active Skill Points), Attributes 12 (24 Attribute Points), Magic 18 (Witchcraft Adept, 35 Karma, Karma Pool 1), and Race 12 (Elf; +1 Quickness, +2 Charisma, Low-Light Vision).

   To represent experience in the campaign, I’m providing +4 skill points which may be spent to raise initial skills (to a maximum of eight) and +2 Karma Pool. These bonuses have been included below.

   Basic Attributes: Body 3 (1 initial), Quickness 5 (4 before racial modifier), Strength 3, Willpower 5, Intelligence 5, Charisma 8 (6 before racial modifier). Essence 6, Magic 8, Reaction 5, Initiative 5+2d6.

   Dice Pools: Combat 7, Astral Pool 9, Initiate Magic Pool 4.

   Karma Pool: 3

   Edges: Good Looking (2), Good Reputation (known as a sympathetic and helpful magician, -2 to Social Target Numbers, 2), Geneware (1 BI point worth at the cultured price with no body index. Tailored Pheromones II [+4d to Charisma and Social Skills tests when applicable], Synaptic Accelerator I [+1d Initiative], 6), +3 Initial Contacts (3). Net Edges: 13 points.

   Flaws: Impulsive (-2), Spendthrift (-3), Low Pain Tolerance (-4), and Detailed Background (-4*). Net Flaws: -13 points.

   *This flaw is exempt from the over-10 halving rule.

  • Active Skills (40 +4 Bonus): Witchcraft 8, Seduction 4, Etiquette 6, Negotiation 8, Performance 6, Leadership 4, Art 6, Investigation 2.
    • For social skills: -2 to Target Numbers (Reputation), +4d (Pheromones), and +1/2 allocated Witchcraft dice.
  • Knowledge Skills (Bases+25): Magic Theory 4, Biology 1, Linguistics 3, Psychology 6, Literature 5, Sociology 1, Art History 6, Spellcraft 6, Current Events 6, Various Languages 6.
  • Languages (8+6 from Knowledges): English 3, Japanese 3, Spanish 2, French 2, Chinese 2, Korean 2.
  • Irrelevant Skills (8): Dance 3, Singing 3, Theater 2

   Initial Equipment: 3 months Low lifestyle (3000 NY), Immobilizer Foam Pistol (200 NY), Flash-Pack (250 NY), Lined Coat (4/2 Armor, 700 NY), Pocket Computer (300 NY), Cell Phone (50 NY), Medkit (200 NY), Player and Music Chip Collection (300 NY).

   Karma Expenditures: Body to 2 (4) and 3 (6), and Initiate II (25).

  • Initiation Provides:
    • Attunement II. +2 Magic Rating.
    • Beglamourment. May add one-half of available Witchcraft dice to social skill checks.
    • Circuiting (Witchcraft): May make witchcraft effects temporarily self-sustaining by devoting successes to that.
    • Hexcraft. May attempt to manipulate the forces of fate through Witchcraft.
    • Sortilege: Gain an Initiate Magic Pool at (Initiate Level +2) dice, this may be applied to any magic-related test.

Initial Contacts (5):

  • Warren Harcourt/”Scoop” (Investigative Reporter)

   Well, this character isn’t quite done yet – the rest of the contacts have to be determined, there should be a good deal more background information, and quite a lot of things will probably change over time – but it will do for the first session.

Shadowrun: More Ninja Resonance Research

   Here we have some more answers for our resident mad scientists experiments…

   Fractional Barrier Experiment: This simply involves making a toroidal barrier with it’s symbol length designed to work with one mage and the other half designed for another in a multiplier 2 barrier. Each gets one full line of symbols. This type of barrier should require two full sets of symbols, so one set will be resonating with one practice and the other another. The lines are to be joined into one continuous string of symbols as if they were just the normal two copies this type of barrier requires. I will make sure that the two sets and inscriptions share no symbols.

   Assuming that I am right on how this works, the two lines should each resonate and a barrier should still form requiring less work than coordinating the two practitioners on the same task.

   This will partially work: the barrier will form. Unfortunately, it will have a flaw: the differing energy levels of the standing waves where the two strings meet will be reflected in astral space as a flaw between the two hemispheres of the barrier. This is a vulnerable point and the resulting energy-leakage notably weakens the barrier. Expanding the experiment with

   Refined Resonance Language Experiment: Take two spells which can be cast by the same mage and write down the barrier symbols for each – albeit not as a viable circle. Then attempt to alter them to better resonate with the spell they are designed to resonate with and resonate less with the other spell. Keep going until they two sequences are entirely separate. Repeat with other spells and spell combination and document changes and refinements. To accelerate this process test with a pin display that can raise and lower pins by computer control to display the current symbol that is being tested. Hopefully this will result in a more exact symbolic language and allow for more uses.

   Unfortunately, the symbols resonate in astral space because they represent ideas. Multiple symbols may represent the same idea, and thus be interchangeable – but the exact physical details of the symbol don’t matter as much as the idea behind it. The various traditions – pretty much by definition – have equally traditional sets of symbols, ideas about what they represent, and concepts of how magic works. The usual derivation of those ideas is from popular beliefs about symbols and the mind of the person working with them.

   Now, there may be inherent meaning to some symbols – some sort of universal symbol-set from which other symbols and meanings are derived – but that would say some pretty profound things about the nature and structure of astral space and the universe at large. It’s also going to be a pretty enormous project to work on; you’d want to run comparisons of many many symbol sets looking for common features related to particular ideas.

   Cheap spirit type finding research: 1 – get permission to do some research at the portal. 2 – summon a force 1 spirit capable of going through the portal. 3 – send it through. 4 – examine new spirit to see if it is of a known type. 5 – if of unknown or of a type that we have yet to get a symbolic language for, capture it with a astral ivy net or bio-fiber box with help of a force 4 or higher spirit. 6 – repeat steps 1 to 5 a very large number of times.

   Well, this will work, at least as far as getting unusual spirits goes. Finding languages for them may be difficult, but should be possible in theory as long as they’re not truly totally alien.


Biofiber Research:

   All of these experiments use high-force bio-fiber because the results might be dependent on its force; it’s possible that lower force bio-fiber leaks magic more than higher force biofiber. Most of these experiments will be tried with astral wards as well.

   The Magic Pump Experiment: This basically involves something like an air pump lined with biofiber, and output hose lined with biofiber, and both a source and a storage area lined with biofiber. The idea is to artificially inflate the magic level in the storage area by pumping magic into it, just like it was air. The experiment will be carried out inside a toroidal barrier in case of reaching dangerous magic levels, the insides of the ssource and storage areas will be equipped with magic level detectors, and both the source and storage areas will openable and big enough for a mage to get inside and check the system before the experiment begins.

   This does indeed show the expected results. Unfortunately, while mana does act something like a gas (and something like a fluid as well), it is quite difficult to confine with biofiber; the stuff seems to “leak” no matter how high it’s force, probably because it’s a cellular structure full of microscopic gaps. Wards work somewhat better, the primary leaks there tend to be around the seals, valves, and moving parts – which suffices to establish that “mana particles” are at the least very very small. Achieving tremendously high or low magic levels this way seems to be somewhat impractical, although relatively minor alterations work just fine. Oddly, it works a lot better if the inside of the storage and/or source area is thematically decorated.

   The Magical Airlock Experiment: This is similar to the Magic Pump experiment save for being modeled on a airlock instead of a pump. It consists of a room sealed by biofiber until it is “magic tight” with a door that shuts to another much smaller sealed room with another door leading outside. how tight this has to be is part of the experiment. The idea is simply to lower the internal magic levels by casting spells and using it up. This can be tested outside a barrier as long as the internal magic is simply being used up by spellcasting. This can also be used to try to calibrate magic level detectors for below current magic levels and to study how magic moves without conscious manipulation by making larger or smaller holes and timing where and when the magic returns to normal levels.

   While this is subject to the same limitations as the “magic pump” experiments, it will indeed work – with the same caveat: the interior decorating has a major impact. As does what spells are cast, what the magician is thinking about, and what the room was previously used for.

   The Magic Battery Experiment: The magic batteries will be bio-fiber balls that have been sealed up in a high magic zone. To “activate” them you simply open small hole. In this case, they’ll be used in an attempt to “power” a torodial barrier off of them.

   Unfortunately, there is no result here: the “batteries” don’t work for long anyway, and can’t hold that big a potential – but even while they do, the symbols of the barrier setup don’t seem to respond. Unpatterned mana does not seem to resonate.

   The Mana Sensor Experiments: These all use magic-level sensors – built exploiting the variations in nuclear decay rates at various magic levels – to detect magic level variations. Since there’s no calibration system yet, at the moment they will simply be used to get raw data on a continuing basis from around an algae factory that uses concentrated algae like the Renraku systems, and from around the arcology and the professor’s metaplanar portal. Drone-mounted sensors might prove easiest to move around to map changes.

   This will just have to be considered “underway” for the moment, if only because practical sensor designs are still being experimented with.

   Metaplanar Bomb Experiment #1: This is an attempt to replicate the Mitsuhama “explosion” using spirits left in a room with machines that place the circles while inside a cleared test site. Both toroids are to be joined into one solid piece that can be quickly lowered (or slammed) into place. For more standardized results – and possibly some spirit witnesses as to what happens – this will start off with high-force spirits in flat circles and the Toroids will be designed to resonate off of the waste energy of the flat circles.

   The test site will be completely cleared of people. The summoners will order the spirits to stay put and wait while they (the summoners) flee to a safe location. Other living things are to be moved away from the site if at all possible – possibly including full sterilization of the area. Detectors will be set up to record the magic level at various distances from the “bomb”. Walls with various symbols will be set up in front of oricalcum sheets near the center. Ray and particle detectors will be set up as well, along with masses of pure materials that might be turned into radicals. If possible, the setup will also check for dual-natured particles and photons by putting detectors behind astral barriers next to unshielded detectors at the same distance. It will be necessary to have forces on hand to deal with astral incursions. If possible, these should include some ghost-buster equipped drones and “spirit chopper” helicopters using the circles on blades trick.

   We’ll have to deal with this during the session; it will require dice rolling again, and possibly more details.

Mana Camera Research:

  • Experiment MC1 – try to make a magic camera by using biofiber and films of oricalcum. Biofiber used to make “dark” places to use as the baseline. design to read by astral sight.
  • Experiment MC2 – try to design a spell to convert magic to light that is simple and attempt to implant it in a block of oricalcum to create a window to the astral plane.
  • Ecperiment MC3 – try to search for some of the radicals that react to magic by glowing and determine some properties.

   MC1 suffers from a basic problem: no lens, hence no image. The old “pinhole” trick might work, but makes for very dim images – probably too dim to get anywhere with without some special measures. If, however, you can pick up a thin sheet of one of the old crystals that glows in the presence of magic, you might be able to use that in conjunction with regular film.

   MC2 is quite doable, although – at current magic levels – orichalcum probably won’t be enough to do it; a sustained, locked, or quickened spell will be required.

   MC3 is possible: in fact, you already know one way: a combination of appropriate radioactive materials and florescent crystals will handle this

Shadowrun: Ninjas and Ghosts

   Having met a spirit from the last age of magic – in fact, a sort of ghost – Zheung Bao Shun had quite a few things he wanted to inquire about. Given that Hantakan has little to do besides talk, here are some answers to the Ninja’s various questions:

   Hantakan “died” – or at least lost his body – during the rise of the Horrors during the last age of magic, apparently around six thousand years BC (based on Neo’s extensive guesswork and a few events that might have known dates). A master “nethermancer” – apparently a magician specializing in dealing with the astral plane, the metaplanes, and extradimensional worlds – he detected the approach of some horrible menace from beyond. Attempting to protect the local villages and to give them more time to prepare, ward, and stock underground refuges, he worked some mighty ritual (described as a “spell of the fourteenth circle”), and moved an area of some hundreds of square miles out of phase with normal reality – barring the entry of alien spirits. Unfortunately, this did not stop some agents of the horrors from getting in, and he was stabbed with a poisoned blade. Dying, he used the tree he was pinned to as a focus and worked a spell with his own blood intended to anchor his phase-enchantment on the tree, so that it would endure after his death long enough for the local villagers to find some other answer to the menace.

   What he actually wound up doing was to transfer his power to the tree and awaken it’s normally-passive spirit. Secondarily, he accidently tied his own spirit to the tree: he can’t pass on while the tree endures – and with his power plus what it’s developed over the millennia, it shows no sign of dying yet. While the horrors did finally break the protective spell he’d anchored on the tree, the tree itself raised additional smaller-scale defenses and endured for several thousand years – by which time it was immense. He lost consciousness quite suddenly, at what he now assumes was the end of the age of magic. When he reawakened it seemed to be long later, and the tree was rapidly regrowing from what seemed to be underground roots. He has no idea what it’s currently up to really – although it still seems to be vaguely protective of people and of the natural order of things, even if it does seem to want to grow to cover the planet. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be growing very quickly now that it’s back to the size it had achieved during the last age – although he thinks that it’s size is related to how large an area it can cover with it’s magic. The magical capacity of that large a “magician” must be immense.

   As for as some of the more specific inquiries:

  • As far as he knows, long-range “Teleportation” effects usually required a spell of at least the tenth circle, and even those required an especially-prepared destination. Spells that didn’t require such preparations were of at least the twelfth circle. He doesn’t believe there’s enough magic available at the moment – at least outside the high-magic zone the tree is generating deep underground (according to what you’ve told him) to make such spells work directly – and he has no idea either when there will be enough magic or when such spells stopped working if it was before the end of the age of magic. Similar spells could open or seal rifts and gates that allowed physical travel to the deep metaplanes, and from there to other worlds entirely.
  • Unfortunately, from the Ninja’s point of view, it looks like the magic of the last age was almost entirely rule-of-thumb – and Hantakan is thousands of years out of practice, and his references are quite alien. Deciphering what he can tell you about his old spells – especially when he can’t actually show you any magic – will be a long-term project.
  • Hantakan has never heard of “alchemical radicals” or anything that’s really comparable. In his experience, pretty much anything could be enchanted fairly readily – although crystals were especially good at holding magic – and both the “True Elements” and Orichalcum occurred naturally; they only needed to be found and harvested. Items that were used by heroes or which were involved in important events often because magical spontaneously – and would grow in power as other heroes used them and great deeds were done. Minor magical items using the true elements and bloodcharms were made by common craftsmen, mages made intermediate items as needed. Many crystals did respond to the presence of magic, and some could be used to see into astral space with the use of a minor spell. This was important when it would be unwise to open yourself to astral space to use astral sight, but there was no great trick to it.
  • As far as the “Age of Horrors” went, it was a massive invasion, and most of the various sapient races went into hiding for many centuries. He doesn’t really know why the magic level stabilized as the Age of Horrors was winding down, but it certainly disrupted any attempt to determine how long it lasted: as far as he knew some minor Horrors were still around when he went to sleep.
  • The Horrors tended to arrive when summoned (yes, some people were mad or evil enough to do this), through areas that were corrupted by the use of blood magic, through existing (if usually untended) metaplanar gates and rifts, and – in some cases – by establishing their own gates in areas where massive amounts of magic was available, although this tended to be limited to the most powerful Horrors. Such passages could be detected and blocked off fairly readily, but there usually wasn’t much point in it. There were weak points for them to use all over the world.

Continuum II: The Undead

   Today it’s another module from the Continuum II rules – in this case, the rules for undead and vampires.

   “Undead” are material beings who have been linked with Demons (the energy-creatures of the space/subspace interface) and so draw energy from the potential gradient between subspace (also known as the “Shadow Realm) and the material realm. Unlike Demons, who are purely creatures of the interface, Undead are strongly linked to the material realms through their old bodies and associations. While this energy source is sufficient for most purposes, the link with the shadow realm slowly erodes the complex mentational and bioenergy patterns left over from life – leaving only those which are constantly reinforced. Unchecked, this process gives rise to the “Lesser Undead”, near-mindless beings motivated by monomania, irrational imperatives, and jealousy of the living. Greater Undead, on the other hand, are able to resist this gradual erosion through powerful magic, raw psychic power, or other means.

   As a rule, Lesser Undead make poor characters and Greater Undead need to have a great deal of personal power even before they bond with a demon (usually meaning that you can’t create one as a starting character). Fortunately for those who want to play undead, there is an intermediate group – most commonly known as Vampires.

   Intermediate Undead, while unable to block the gradual drain of subspace, can steal energy from still-living beings to make up for the loss. While this allows them to retain their intelligence, and even to build up power reserves, it exacts its own price; such energy fields must be stabilized and stored. This can be done in several ways externally, but relying on external systems is a recipe for disaster sooner or later. Characters built in this fashion function as vampires, but need pay two fewer talent points than usual for the privilege. Of course, they must also define the nature of their external system, and will soon drop to “Lesser Undead” status if something interferes with it.

   Vampires store power internally, stabilized with a more or less normal physical metabolism. While this is self-contained, and often allows the vampire to “pass” as a normal living being, vampires are thus still vulnerable to intoxicants, poisons (although virtually no dose is sufficient to “Kill”), exposure, starvation, and simple suffocation, if less so then ordinary material creatures. Their delicately balanced energy fields create further vulnerabilities, anything which disrupts, shorts out, or interrupts those fields can be a severe problem. Hence they’re vulnerable to radiation, certain other energy fields, highly conductive metals, and insulators (at least when they’re introduced into their bodies). They’re also vulnerable to “running water” – especially running salty water – since its close similarity to their internal fluids allows their stored energies to spread into the liquid. While this is harmless in still liquids, moving liquids quickly dissipate their energy reserves.

   While many vampires do bite, or even drain blood from their victims, when draining energy and vitality from them, it’s not really necessary. It simply serves to disrupt the victim’s bioenergy field, creating a vulnerable point, and to establish the necessary, intimate, connection. Other methods are available, as legends of incubi, succubi, and seductive vampires demonstrate.

   While many “classic” vampyric powers and vulnerabilities are mythical, they can use their power reserves to enhance their physical abilities, to heal themselves, and to exercise a hypnotic fascination on viewers without mental defenses (due to psychic feedback). While vampires do appear in mirrors they generally avoid them, as the image presented will not be masked by this hypnotic effect, and so can easily give them away. They cannot be effectively treated by normal healing spells, as their physical metabolism is not their primary source of energy.

   All vampires share some basic innate skills

   Innate Skills: Bioenergy Vamparism (L1; 1D6, L3; 1D8, L5; 1D10, L12; 1D12) and Demon-Sight. Energy reserve of (Wis+30+5*Level) points of psychic strength. This may be enhanced by +12 points per major skill invested. Up to (Con) points may be safely expended per round (See; Psychic Powers). Any vampire may choose to shift up to half the damage from any attacks to his or her psychic energy reserves, exerts a limited – and uncontrolled – “fascination” effect, and is entitled to expend points (+1/point, maximum +3, must spend in advance) in order to gain bonuses on strength and dexterity rolls. They also heal at twice the usual base rate. “New” vampires soon acquire four major and four minor skills from the following lists. Additional major skills are acquired at levels 5 and 12. Additional minor skills are acquired at levels 3 and 7. Vampires do not normally recover their psychic strength except by draining it from others.

Major Vampire Skills:

  • Auric Mastery: Animalism, Fascination, Feedback Control, Minor Psychomancy, Regeneration, Shapeshifting
  • Dark Arcana: Beastmaster, Ceremonial Magic, Demonology, Elemental Attunement (select one element), Minor Magic (vampires automatically use the extended minor magic chart for Blood, Darkness, Linking, Sending, and Winter magics), and Psy-Scavenging.
  • Energy Enhancement: Celerity, Field Focusing, Metabolic Support, Mindcloud, Minor C’hi, Stabilization.
  • Negative Energies: Mynddark, Projection, Psy-Disruption, Residue Shaping, Shadowmastery, and Spell Negation.

Minor Vampire Skills:

  • Avoiding Notice: Ambush, Disguise, Hibernation, Humanity, Lair(s), Taling.
  • Manipulations: Acting, Fast Talk, Intimidation, Psychology, Seduction, and Streetwise.
  • Socialization: Chattel, Connections, Contacts, Mentor, Money, Retainers.

   Sunlight, due to it’s disrupting radiation and ultraviolet content, drains 2D6 psychic strength points per hour and makes it very hard to properly employ the remainder (double cost). Wounds from wooden and silver weapons do 1 and one-half times the normal damage, and such wounds must heal at the “natural” rate. Simply avoiding degeneration costs 12 psychic strength points per day. Holy symbols, and buildings with blessings on them, are dangerous thanks to their imbuement with the energy of the spirit realm and should be avoided, unless countermeasures are taken. The energy drain of moving water is highly variable. Remember, “You are what you eat” (See; Shapeshifting) – which means that vampires who persistently feed from nonsapient animals will begin to lose their mental acuity, those who feed from madmen will tend to go mad, and so on.

   Vampires come in a wide variety of types. While the relatively benign, human-seeming, class described above is the most common, many others exist.

   Nucklavee are those vampires who’ve had the bad luck to bond with demons who’s might is too high for their physical bodies to handle, resulting in a swift “decay” – and sloughing away – of their tissues. They “feed” by touching someone and allowing their own, super-powerful, bioenergy patterns to override their victim’s – forcing said victim’s flesh and blood to “flow” onto, and so renew, their own raw and decaying form. This is disgusting to watch, horrifyingly painful and gruesomely damaging for said unlucky victim, and a severe social problem. They do have some advantages however; their higher might allows for better control over their bioenergy field, boosting their reserve limit (+3/Level) and reducing the effects of disrupting elements. They also “drain” people twice as effectively as a normal vampire, but at least one-half of the damage they inflict must be physical.

   Ghouls are vampires who have, unluckily, bonded with a relatively weak demon. So weak, in fact, that their own metabolism can make up for much of the energy loss. A Ghoul’s personal metabolism is “running on overdrive” – burning it’s fuel at a fantastic rate. Ghouls commonly seem cadaverous, terribly thin, feverish, and unnaturally strong. To survive, they absorb the residual energies, and the throughly digestible-and-compatible tissues, of more-or-less freshly deceased members of their species. Due to their diet, they commonly carry a wide selection of horrible diseases, as well as a load of necrotoxins. While their draining ability is relatively ineffective, at least as far as recharging their own energy reserves is concerned (A maximum of 1D6-3), it’s very disruptive – often incapacitating or severely weakening the victim unless they successfully resist it (The precise effects are optional, but paralysis or weakness, temporary disruption of arcane abilities, epileptic fits, and so on, are all possible). Unlike most vampires, ghouls recover their psychic strength naturally – and at twice the usual rate. They also enjoy bonuses of +3 Strength and Endurance, +6 move, and +2 attacks, all due to their accelerated metabolism. Unfortunately, they also require vast amounts of food and drink, tend to reek of carrion, continiously run a high fever (-1 Intellect, Wisdom, and Perception. The demonic side of their personalities tends to dominate) – and lack the greatly extended lifespans typical of other vampires.

   Dopplegangers are less a type then a speciality… A Doppleganger uses Feedback Control and Shapeshifting in conjunction with Bioenergy Vamparism to assume the form – and some part of the personality – of whoever they draw psychic strength from. Those with more advanced skills may duplicate some of their victim’s skills and abilities as well, or even assume them later – at least until the pattern degrades. The most drastic form of this ability is to drain the victim to death, permitting the imprint to remain effective for a considerable period.

   Gaki are simply vampires with a natural attunement to a specific psychic energy pattern, such as that of fear, amusement, affection, pain, pleasure, devotees of a particular religion, members of an ancient bloodline, or whatever else they happen to have an affinity for. While this limits them to “draining” victims who happen to be strongly manifesting or experiencing that pattern at the moment, such attunement bypasses a vampires usual need for an intimate – or even direct – contact. It can even be used to draw modest amounts of energy from many targets at once, or at significant ranges. As a kind of side benefit, Gaki also tend to enjoy some more-or-less minor special ability derived from that attunement – or simply from having more time to practice. (Being a Gaki costs one talent point less common vamparism. GM’s may reduce the cost by two points for particularly limiting specialities).

   Rakasha come into being when the fusion that creates a vampire occurs at the point of death – a stunt that’s only possible when the pairing involves strong wills, a good deal of affinity to start with, and a simultaneous near-death. Given those ingredients, the basic survival drive takes over – both providing and sealing the initial mental bond. Sadly, the tremendous psychic drain of the process usually causes serious mental damage, sends the new vampire into deep hibernation-shock for a time, and gradually warps and distorts both the physical and arcane sides of their body to some degree. They tend to awaken as feral, ravenous, and deadly, monsters, although they do recover to some extent eventually. Rakasha do have advantages; the physical body usually gains some degree of “natural” weaponry and armor (“Innate Weaponry”) and they gain the two level demonic edge in the use of magic (Q.V.). On the other hand, their alien, reborn, personalities tend to alienate, confuse, and repel, others (-3 on relevant rolls, including those for figuring out what’s going on with people), the mental damage reduces their number of general skills by 2/3’rds, and they are easily recognized. To get around these problems, Rakasha commonly practice illusory and telepathic skills. Rakasha are occasionally created intentionally, since they can be fairly readily bound into service while in their deathlike hibernation shock, and rarely remember who they were well enough to put up much resistance later. Especially nasty creators sometimes leave them trapped in an eternal death-agony, torturing his victim(s) and – at the same time – making them virtually immune to lesser pains, mental controls, and logic, in their berserker fury.

   Nonsentient Bondmates are possible. These leave the sentient partner far more mentally dominant then usual, but reduce the base allotment of vamphyric skills to 3/ 3, rather then 4/4. If neither bondmate was originally sentient the combination will be – but begins with only 2/2 vamphyric skills – and any innate abilities.

   Nosferatu are vampires who’ve bonded with a fragment (Q.V.; Shadow Casting) of a truly powerful demon – rather then with the entire entity. This has advantages; they get an odd sort of “family” and support network, access to some portion of the powers of a truly major demon, and access to some special skills of their own. Sadly, this also means that they’re utterly dependent on the powers and support of a demon, and that – not only are they subject to the usual demonic drives of a vampire – but that that portion of their minds is, at least potentially, backed by the full power of their “patron”. Since such demons are almost always unique individuals, they also tend to leave a personal imprint on their “families”. Nosferatu are often subject to peculiar limitations, usually have many of their vamphyric skills preselected according to the “family” to which they belong, and – at least if they’re sensitive – often realize that there is something separate from “them”, and utterly inhuman, raging inside their minds. Some accept it, others rebel – but all of them must deal with it. Worse, since alienation from humanity gives the demonic side an edge in the battle for dominance, Nosferatu are often driven to commit horrific acts – destroying their families, friends, and other innocents as well as seeking out, and reveling in, the worst aspects and excesses of human behavior while the demonic side is dominant.

   The fact that Nosferatu are only infected with small fragments of a demon gives them some unusual options. Quite a few of them possess the ability to tap into the patron demon’s Shadow Casting ability, allowing them to “split off” still smaller fragments to create lesser Nosferatu, or even (for very powerful Nosferatu) unique “subfamalies”. They can gradually gain power over time by building up the fragment they possess or by simply absorbing the demon-fragments embedded in other members of their Nosferatu “family” (the more powerful, and the more directly bound to their patron demon, the better). Unfortunately, these benefits come at a price; unlike a “normal” vampire, the demonic half of a Nosferatu isn’t co-dependent. The demon can withdraw the portion of it’s self without suffering any grievous harm. The same can not be said for the unlucky Nosferatu; if some irritant (sunlight, running water, hard radiation – and anything that’s magically disruptive, or to which their demon is unusually sensitive) causes said demon to break away, the results are unlikely to be pretty. The excess psychic energies of the reserve are usually released as heat as an explosion – and the shock is often fatal in any case, even if a vampire currently has no reserves or is tough enough to survive their release. Fortunately, the patron rarely has a detailed awareness of what it’s “clients” are up too since the fragments in them are usually just too numerous and too small, thus most withdrawals result from irritants. Luckily for them, most Nosferatu soon find out, or instinctively know, what to avoid.

   Unlike most vampires, Nosferatu can’t – ordinarily – “starve to death” while their “family” survives since they can draw a certain amount of psychic energy from them through their demonic patron. While this suffices to preserve them – and even to slowly rebuild their reserves (although the process may require many years), it’s not enough to keep them active. Nosferatu reduced to this state by starvation or critical injuries will be driven into hibernation until they recover, or are arcanely assisted.

   As noted earlier, many Nosferatu can “create” lesser vampires in their turn. In some cases, this process can continue indefinitely – although new vampires generally take some time to come into their power and/or can only do so after their creator perishes. In such cases, the only limitation may be the number of vampires which the original demon can “support”. In other cases, there may be a strict and simple hierarchy – greater, lesser, and least, vampires, often Nucklavee, Vampires, and Ghouls. Extremely powerful demons may support lengthy chains of vamphyric descent – “generations” of undead (while this can be handled in a variety of ways, the simplest – and the most versatile – is just to assign the Nosferatu of lower generations some bonus skill points, and a bonus on their effective “level of use” of vamphyric skills. In some campaigns an age-based bonus may be appropriate as well).

   Nosferatu have access to several additional skill lists, as noted below. This does not increase their allotment of skills, but it does give them additional options for spending them.

Minor Nosferatu Skills:

  • Demonic Relations: Dark Standing, Mind Of Night, Overlord, Patronage, Servitors, and Spirit Combat.
  • The Shadowed Ways: Compacts, Dark Bestowal, Hellwaking, Knowledge (Family Lore), Peerage, and Wardpact.

Major Nosferatu Skills:

  • Arcane Community: Blood Links, Cabalism, Dark Reserves, Inherent Lore, Survivalist, and Psychic Transference.
  • Link Mastery: Concealment, Demonic Channels, Infection, Link Maintenance, Reformation, and transcendence.

   Born Vampires are extremely rare. Their metabolic shifts leave most vampires almost sterile. In most cases, the embryo and/or mother will be incapable of surviving the power drain of hosting a demon even if conception occurs, and nothing goes seriously wrong with the symbiosis (which is very likely, especially if only one parent “contributes” the demonic side of things). The child will be subject to all the perils of a greatly-extended infancy and childhood, will require vast amounts of energy to support it’s growth, and will probably wind up dying of metabolic distortions anyway. On the other hand, the few vampire-children who survive such perils are generally substantially better at using their abilities then ther vampires. Born vampires, or those who became vampires as toddlers (this avoids many of the problems listed above – but few of those willing to, and capable of, doing such a thing to an infant, have the time, or patience, to wait for them to grow up) get two extra major, and two extra minor, vamphyric skills. Unfortunately for PC’s, this also normally requires two extra talent points to invest in a special background.

   Revenants are those few vampires who have managed to live through the destruction, separation, or withdrawal of their demonic halves after they’ve adjusted to their undead status. This is very rare. While each such case is unique, those who avoid traumatic amnesia ordinarily retain those “vamphyric” skills based on psychic powers or ordinary abilities – although they’re commonly short of psychic strength to run them with. Those with access to a “source” of negative energy may well be able to use any or all of their old powers, save for the innate skills. Sadly, this is usually a considerable strain. Outside of these abilities, and the possible retention of a somewhat enhanced lifespan, Revenants are essentially normal material beings.

   Dhampires are more-or-less normal material creatures who happen to have a strong enough link to a vampire or vampires to draw on some of it’s/their powers. Most are the non-vamphyric relatives or offspring of vampires, but a few arrange the situation artificially. In most such cases, Dhampires are effectively identical to Revenants – albeit a lot more common. Being a Dhampire “normally” costs two talent points (for access to an “Unrelated” skill list), but those who can draw negative energy, or extra psychic strength, from their vamphyric contact must pay an “extra” +1 (for negative energy OR psychic strength) or +2 (for both) talent points for the privilege. They are, perhaps unfortunately for them, excellent links to the vampire or vampires they draw upon.

   “Lesser Undead” are actually fairly straightforward; The mental bond with the original material being allows the demon to possess (Anchor into, Q.V.) whatever happens to be left of the body. If there isn’t much left, such manifestations are basically immaterial. A handful of floating dust is quite sufficient to provide the link – but is difficult to attack as it floats about. Solider bodies are easier to hit, but are highly resistant to most attacks (Q.V.; Puppetry). After all, they are pretty much dead (IE; they don’t freeze, starve, or poison, at all well). Since the demonic side of things is usually more or less dominant – while the “human” side tends to be utterly obsessed – most lesser undead are also quite resistant to mental manipulations. They can draw on the “Demonic” skill lists as well as the Vamphyric ones and get a powerful, disruptive, negative, touch in place of the ability to steal bioenergies. The exact effects of this vary considerably, but usually include terrible chills and damage, to go along with something like neural disruption, paralysis, entropic decay or aging), induced diseases (actually a disruption of their victims immune system and healing functions), or even death.

   It should be noted that many of the entities who are often referred to as “undead”, such as ghosts and haunts, grave guardians, avenging spirits, poltergeists, and so on, are actually purely empyrean entities and/or constructs with a psychic, rather than a demonic, origin. Of course, given the importance of belief in empyrean phenomena, the difference between “genuine” undead and nasty empyrean spirits is often hard to see. The line is further blurred by the fact that, lacking a reliable source of energy, many lesser undead “feed off of” the psychic energies resulting from popular beliefs and hopeful superstitions about them – allowing them to maintain themselves and increase their powers at the cost of taking on some the limitations, odd characteristics, and vulnerabilities, assigned to them in popular belief.

   “Greater Undead” are simply those undead who possess some way of maintaining their personal psychic patterns without “recharging” from other people. As this usually requires formidable magical or psychic powers – whether personal or applied by others – the greater undead tend to be either unique individuals or small groups created by some specific means. Those who still possess living bodies are usually simply powerful vampires (psychic adepts are the most common members of this category) – while those who’s physical bodies have died can normally be treated as “Lesser Undead”, albeit with their minds and any extra personal powers intact. Those in this category who have appropriate powers, or who were transformed by somebody else, may have drastically enhanced physical bodies (Q.V. Combat Armor; Full Military Conversion).

   “Pseudo-Vampires” don’t necessarily have anything to do with demons. They’re simply individuals who command vampire-like abilities. Such individuals include some of the odder Aurists and Adepts, the occasional erratic Demonologist or Mage, victims/users of enchantments and curses, and “Death Vampires” – rare individuals gifted or cursed with a variant of the “Soulcarrier” ability that allows them to absorb the souls and minds of the dying, gaining a large portion of their abilities and life force – at the expense of vast strains on their sanity. While this has it’s “benevolent” uses, especially if they can control it, and/or release the souls they’ve absorbed, those who lack control soon become incredibly powerful, all-devouring, lunatics. Those who choose to just “ride with it”, absorbing ever-more, and ever-stronger, souls to keep those they already contain too confused and fragmented to overload their minds, become some of the most dangerous entities in the multiverse. While an internal rebellion is inevitable in the end, when the souls they devour are too either strong to contain, or too weak to refragment the others within them, they have been known to depopulate entire worlds – one soul at a time.

Federation-Apocalypse Session 60: Gadding About Kadia

With this session, since most of the players were available again, we return to our regular continuity.

   Watching Eogam and his parents was slowly bringing something up to consciousness in Kevin’s mind. It wasn’t a big or abnormal thing, and it wouldn’t have surprised half of the human race for an instant – but it was always a surprise to the remaining half, and it was a fairly basic shift from self-centered male adolescence.

   He LIKED having a child of his own to raise and look after. Somehow his son was becoming one of the centers of his life.

   Bringing a new soul into the cosmos and raising it was a pleasure as great – if far more subtle and enduring – as the experience of enlightenment. Perhaps it was fundamentally a variant on that experience – touching, however indirectly, whatever lay beyond. Even the darkly addictive rush of ecstasy and mastery that came from a soul accepting him as its master and owner until it should grow out of the darkness-bond wasn’t quite as sweet – although it was both more intense in the short term and far easier to experience over and over again.

   He was finding it hard to keep the phantasm-kids and real ones as separate in his head as he should – but he wanted more kids with souls. Preferably, he’d like them all to have souls – but persuading an existing soul to incarnate in a phantasm wasn’t quite the same thing.

   Marty grinned as he recognized the symptoms… The realization of parenthood catching up to the perpetually-adolescent dark lord at last? Kevin had dodged it for awhile by farming out the kids early childhood, but now that he was interacting with his son, it was inevitably going to catch up with any undamaged human mind.

   Of course, he hadn’t really known anything was missing in practically everyone else in Battling Business World everyone until awhile after he’d met Abigail, and later Mr Leland (and even then he hadn’t really been sure of known what it was) – but having Julia had changed everything. He was sure there’d been a few phantasm-kids along the way – it wasn’t like he hadn’t had quite a few encounters – but they’d just faded into the background.

   Oops. It was pretty likely that some or all of the upcoming batch of half-elven kids from that party in the underdark would turn out to have souls – and thus be real – since he’d been visiting Core. How would Julia and Abigail react to them?

   He’d have to keep him away from his father. They wouldn’t be from Battling Business World, and might not be able to take being strangled to sleep or shot if they were noisy – and he couldn’t expect the man to change much, he was a phantasm after all. A normal background element, at least for the Battling Business World value of “normal”.

   Meanwhile, Kevin was diverting himself from confusion with more fuming. Dammit! His parents had seemed fairly accepting of his owning Thralls at first! What had changed? He’d even started offering MORE benefits, not less! The more they’d found out about his contracts, the better it should have looked! OK, they were all relatively minor abilities, but he still gave them magic, psionics, gatekeeping powers, shapeshifting, enhanced physical abilities, wealth, martial arts skills, relics, boosted reflexes, and – to top it all off – immortality!

   Wait; had it looked too good to be true? After all, they knew him as their young son, and he certainly didn’t look impressive what with the “not aging” and all… Were they simply afraid that he was a con artist and that the Thralls had been cheated into becoming property? From their point of view his powers must seem pretty bloody unlikely.

   Marty had to agree with him there. It did sound like a pretty absurd litany of bait when you just ran off the list without considering the limitations and the price tag. Even when you did consider that sort of thing, it really sounded too good to be true. They might be willing to acknowledge that magic could do a lot, but the distinction between “magic can do a lot” and “my son is a god” had to be hard to swallow. Explaining how Kevin came to be in charge in Kadia to them was going to be a lot of fun.

   It was beginning to make Kevin wonder if they’d really sent Thomas off to Jedi school or if they were just keeping him away from the unethical con-artist.

   Nah, they’d certainly sent him – but one of the reasons might have been to keep him away from the unethical con artist.

   Still, while they were in Kadia, maybe he should blur the passage of time for them a bit? That way he could set up security – mostly a Thrall-bodyguard force and some equipment in reserve – back in Core for them while they were busy in Kadia. Besides, some time as dragons, with innate magical powers, might help them understand things a bit better. He’d have to arrange to cover their work for them while they were away, but all that would take would be dispatching a few more Thralls.

   Marty and Jamie both thought that was a reasonably good idea, so Kevin set it in motion.

   Eogam had made several efforts at escaping, but his elder grand-dragons had foiled his every attempt… Kevin opened a private mental link and told him that putting up with your relatives was one of the obligations of having a family – and he’d get something nice to make up for it later.

   There was a bit of resignation in the mental “Alright” that came back over the link – but he wasn’t having as bad a time as he was making out.

   Marty figured that the boy was just angling for treats and goodies, but Kevin was just going to have to figure that sort of thing out for himself.

   The grandchild party took up most of the day, but ran down eventually – so they embarked on showing Adrian and Ruolan around Kadia a bit. They would mostly be spending the next few days waiting on the results from their information-gathering and analysis projects anyway.

   Kevin was kind of hoping that they’d start asking some questions about why no one reacted much to seeing Kevin – or them – in dragonform except to greet them. They were still ignoring the three thralls he’d started with, but dragon-instincts should help them just accept servants. He’d make sure that all the services were provided by efficient Thralls; hopefully they’d note them, or be interested in all the unquestioning service, or wonder why people were using supernatural powers all over the place. It’d be easiest to broach such topics if they brought them up.

   Unfortunately, they didn’t, although they were pleased to get to spend some time with Kevin. They seemed to simply be accepting the servants and other oddities as a part of the general scenery of Kadia.

   They hit the malls and carnivals (including the mecha dueling arenas and resurrection-halls) first, then the feywilds, mountains, and gardens, visited the whitewater rafting and pleistocene ice age zones, and hit quite a few of the better restaurants. Along the way they pointed out a few zones that were busy with research and meme-treatment projects. Kevin didn’t point out the recruiting zones – although he did take occasional recruiting-breaks for the youngsters from the Linear Realms, Five Worlds, and other sources.

   Marty thought that he was going to have to force the issue.

   Kevin didn’t really want to, but he didn’t see any way around it either.

“I have some serious things to discuss while we’re together. Most urgently, you’re at risk now: there are quite a lot of threats to the Core worlds – and you could be put to great use as leverage against me. I want to assign you some bodyguards.”

“And just what sort of threats are these? Do you need help?”

“No, I don’t think I do – but we’re currently at war with the people behind the weaponized violence-memes, the demon-starship that took out half the colonial defense fleet, a selection of out-of-control demons, the power-armor goons that helped destroy Greenwald, and several other groups. We have evidence that the meme-users are pre-humans, and have been spreading plagues, and stealing souls, across Earth for several thousand years. The war has already claimed many many billions of lives. I’d rather it didn’t get you too.”

“Well given destruction on that kind of scale, where exactly do you think we will be safe then?”

“There are a couple of things I can do: Simplest would be to stay in Kadia for a bit: it has quite a few defenses and you can’t die here. I can assign you a bodyguard force. In fact, I will whether you accept them or not – but they can do a much better job if you accept them. If you want, I can set a link on you that will draw you back here if you’re killed elsewhere. That’s a much more limited version of the link I use on my recruits, and won’t convey much power – but it does convey a fair amount of insurance.”

“Ok sounds reasonable enough.”

   Well that had been awfully casual. Blast it! They were HUMORING him.

“Hey, take him seriously! He’s trying to keep you from getting killed!”

“Well maybe it is the sheer scale of it all that makes it hard to take seriously. I mean I can understand that someone out there is fighting a war costing billions of lives, but to really wrap your mind around it is difficult. Or that Kevin, no offense, is causing enough of a disturbance to really warrant coming after us.”

“The kid’s just worried about your safety. I’m doing the same thing for my family.”

“Right… Well, here: AWAKEN.”

   Kevin infused Roulan and Adrian with a full set of Witchcraft pacts – a Spirit Pact (so that – if they were killed – he could bring them back), a Gateway Pact (which would let him dispatch some assistance if they were in trouble out in the Manifold), and an Arcanum Pact (which would let him drain the minor powers he was giving them if, for some reason, that became necessary). Three pacts would let him give them basic Witchcraft – or some more advanced bits if they had any psychic training. At a minimum, the basic Mental Defenses, Projective and Receptive Telepathy, basic Telekinesis, Healing, Sensory Enhancement, and either Molecular Telekinesis or Light Manipulation.

“It may take a moment to get used to that.”

“Alright, now that is disconcerting. And not in the same way that becoming a dragon is either.”

“It isn’t much of a trick – but there are limits to what I can do for those past adolescence or without creating a major bond.”

   There was a fairly long pause there. It looked like Adrian and Roulan were reconsidering some assumptions.

“So you really can grant abilities to others through pacts? And these powers won’t disappear once we leave the realm?

“Wouldn’t be much point to it if they did now would there?”

“I suppose not. I suppose if you really can do this, then you may very well be perceived as a major threat.”

“Now, here are some bodyguards; I’m assigning you a dozen Thralls each. I’ll also be linking them to you so you can draw on a bit of their powers as well. That will let you power the psychic abilities I’ve given you many times longer, as well as act as gatekeepers. If any of them get killed, here (mental imprint) is the ritual to call them back. It’s easiest in a magical universe, but any one or two of them can provide enough power to work it elsewhere given a few hours. If you don’t have time, when they’re killed they just report back here at one of the malls anyway. I’m sorry to dump this all on you, but I don’t see any easy way to say any of it.”

“I really think there may not be any easy way to say this son. But I think we understand anyway.”

“Um… I hope you’re not going to keep looking past the bodyguard-aides I’ve assigned to you: they’ll put up with it if you want, but I think it would be a bit mean.”

“I think that will be our battle then. To come to terms with this. I think ours will go easier than yours will. Is there anything else you’d like to do then? We hardly ever get to see you.”

   Kevin blew a fuse. A “BATTLE”!?! Why the HELL should it be a “BATTLE”?!?

“AAARGH! What is EVERYONE so CRANKY about? They get a tremendous load of benefits in exchange for a temporary indenture! The benefits include IMMORTALITY, so they’re GUARANTEED to come through in good shape! If I wanted to abuse them, it would be STUPID to set up a telepathic link and give them the ability to manipulate reality in so many ways! WHY THE HELL DOES EVERYONE ACT LIKE BEING PAID UP FRONT FOR A JOB IS A NEW IDEA?!?”

   Marty was getting used to this: he expressed frustration with a knife. Kevin periodically blew his top. It was best to just acknowledge it and move on.

“Now Kevin, people don’t . . . oh, screw it. Who’s up for golf?”

“I think it is because you are fighting centuries or even millennia of cultural bias. Now admittedly a lot of that culture was superstition, but with the Manifold, so much of that has changed and many people have little to turn to except the old bits of our culture. Give it time, and continue with the demonstrations and I am sure that people’s attitudes will change. Just don’t expect it over night honey.”

   Marty sighed. That was Core. So reasonable that it hurt his brain!

   Kevin was just as happy to be diverted.

“Oh, we’ve got golf, and mammoth hunting, and gold panning, and giant robot battles, and carnivals, and mountain-climbing, and…”

“I like you two. Do either of you golf? I can probably teach you if you don’t.”

“All of those options sound like fun. Let’s start with the golf, and then work our way up to the bigger attractions.”

“Golf it is then!”

   Kevin and Marty picked out one of the midrange-normal courses. The Thrall-courses tended to be pretty weird and exciting what with all the enhancements they got, and the themed courses could get pretty weird as well – but one of the ones with minor faerie phantasms would do nicely. Accommodating a few dragon-golfers would be easy enough.

   Marty grabbed his clubs (most people would have called half of them weapons). They were a lot sturdier than normal clubs, since, well, they WERE from Battling Business World. The ones with chainsaw blades for cutting through the deliciously deadly hazard grass were the most fun! At home it was a three stroke penalty if you died!

   Still, golf was no match for the cricket game massacres, and even THOSE were minor compared to the Australian Rugby War of 2012.

   Kevin made some PROPER introductions while they were headed for the course.

“I’d like you to really meet Daniel, Gerald, Bard, Meara, and Tanis. They’ve been my primary assistants the last few months – and so far they’ve helped defeat two extra-dimensional invasions, helped move a core planet that was threatened by a nova to safety in the Manifold, fought giant robots, cyborg killers, and demon goddesses, helped rescue three planetary populations, and done a lot of other things, including die fighting Merlin’s forces and come back. For that matter, they also made some suggestions for facilities they’d like to see around Kadia while it was under construction. If you’d like, now that you can receive thoughts, they’ll be glad to show you some of those memories.”

“Ok then, we can do that.”

   So far Kevin thought that they were having a good time. He had blurred time for them just a bit – it would make it a lot easier for them to come to terms with everything – and they had other things to do. Should they leave them alone for a bit after the golf game to get used to all the new stuff that had just been dumped on them? He wanted to check on the Jedi academy they’d sent Thomas to and get him some bodyguards – and a spirit pact if at all possible. It would be all kinds of fun dropping in, they might well classify him as a Sith.

   In the meantime, he’d had an idea – and had been issuing a few orders. (That multi-tasking power was HANDY). Gates could have a modest, if stationary, stable area. That area was an overlay zone while the gate was active – and, in an overlay zone, you could either use force of will or spend mana to hold any appropriate ID, even if the natural tendency was to get shunted into the one that was the best fit for the space-time of the realm you were entering. You could hold a gate open indefinitely too if you had Gatekeepers to man it, although stabilization aids were useful and you did tend to get bleedover between linked universes as the natural laws tried to find a happy medium in the gateway area. Controlling that – if it was a problem – required more Gatekeepers.

   Setting up for the Thrall-colonization project was already underway, he’d also set up a large gate to Kadia (in a mountain just to be classical), assign a squad of Thralls to keep it open and stable, and have them set up a series of comfortable dragon-bowers in the overlay area.

   Now, who to pick?

   Meara was originally from one of the Core colony worlds, and had been with him for more than ten years now. She’d started as a slave-concubine, and had asked to become a Thrall a few years later. She had a draconic ID – and, come to think of it, had been watching children in general, Eogam – and even the hatchling-phantasms – with just a hint of wistfulness for awhile now.

   She got the first option. Kevin explained that he wanted to father a few clutches of dragons in Core in an overlay zone that allowed a draconic ID and see how many got souls. For best conditions, they’d need to be fertilized there, gestated and laid there, and kept there until they hatched.

   Besides, he liked the fact that there was no helpless, nonverbal, infancy period with dragon hatchlings – and he liked being a father.

   Meara was more than willing to participate.

   Tanis – who’d only been with him as a Thrall-concubine for a year and a half – was willing as well, although there seemed to be a bit of dynastic / possessive ambition under there. Well, she had been a young magician – noble in a quasi-egyptian realm when she’d accidently summoned him and he’d acquired her. She’d need a draconic ID, but that was easy enough to arrange.

   Lysira – his usual representative in the Dragonworlds – had had a draconic ID for nearly ten years now, was due for a vacation from the Dragonworlds (she liked the form, but found the background there a bit silly), and – come to think of it – had also been eying Eogam and making her presence and availability around the harem in the Dragonworlds more and more obvious.

   Oh yes, she was willing.

   He assigned a bunch of assistants for Kelsaru to make up for the time-off for his most experienced harem manager and had Lysira head over to Kadia and the colonization project.

   Hm. Just to test, he recruited one of the newest Thrall-girls and provided her with a draconic ID. That might show if the time in the ID had any effect.

   All metallic-dragon ID’s. It seemed to help with the offsprings personalities a bit, although it probably wouldn’t have much effect on the ones with souls.

   The accommodations and the girls would be ready and waiting for him to drop by in a few days.

   Meanwhile, the game of golf was underway.

“Blast it you dratted pixie! Come back here with my ball! That’s like a three-stroke penalty I think!”

“At least it didn’t EAT the damn thing like it did mine! Deliciously deadly hazard grass was easy compared to this! You just have to set it on fire!”

“Bloody course rules! Who SAYS unicorns are allowed to heal stroke penalties!”

“Why are you complaining? You built the place… GET BACK HERE WITH MY PUTTER YOU PUTZ!”

“I didn’t set up all the details of the course rules! Details you didn’t set up just sort of show up!”


   Marty caught up to the pixie that had his putter and tackled it; at least it hadn’t managed to get the chainsaw running yet. He was using his size and mass to his advantage, although the thing seemed to be able to carry a lot of weight as it flew around dragging him. Marty yanked the thing free and fell; he could just bounce back from that.

   Kevin glared at the mound, the mushroom ring, and the sign. Faerie ring hazard: ball lost in alternate aspect of the dimension, complete quest or take five stroke penalty?!? After a moment some bright golden letters hanging in the sky above the course appeared; “You must climb the mightiest tree in the forest before the sun sets without using your hands or magic.”


“Hey, Kevin! With a Herring?”

   The sign put up a response, still in bright gold lettering: “If you wish. And yes, this text can read your mind.”

   Adrian and Roulan were having a bit of trouble with transforming golf balls, minor supernatural fauna, and the various hazards as well.

“Well that is certainly different.”

“Sorry! I wasn’t paying too much attention to the golf rules when I set the place up, and they seem to have gotten a bit fey.”

   Kevin glared at the faerie ring; “I’m taking the bloody penalty! It’s not like this is a tournament or something!”

   Bright gold letters a hundred feet high appeared in the air; “FIVE STROKE PENALTY”

   Marty had to laugh, even as he was plummeting to the ground. He ended up with his upper torso embedded in a sand trap and his feet dangling in the air.

(Dazedly) “But Daddy, I don’t know who broke the window…”

   Marty then came back to his senses and dug myself out – only to find a great deal of sand in awkward places on his person. He spent the next few minutes brushing himself clean, spitting out sand, and scooping it out of his pants.

“Yeah, yeah.. Five it is. Oh, Mom? Just turn your coat inside out and the pesky thing will go away!”

“Now, where the hell did I leave my ball?”

   The ball appeared to be about a quarter mile back, with a bright gold arrow pointing to it under a sign that said ‘Play where it lies.” Marty sighed and did.

   Meanwhile, Kevin had hit “Faerie Mound Trap Penalty, All Night Feast and Dance or eight-stroke penalty. Resume game afterwards”

   Oh well. “Want to attend the faerie feast? They try for week-long timeslips on regular tourists sometimes, but they should know better than to try that on us!”

“Why the hell not?”

   The feast was an eclectic mix of food, drink, entertainers, party goers, and other guests and hosts. The fey – and even the local construct-fey who didn’t have that much in way of a local tradition yet – always threw a great party!

“Oh they’ve got to be kidding; Pixie sticks for desert?”

“Hey it is tradition!”

“Wow, haven’t had these since I was a kid.”

   One of the more wound-up pixies proceeded to consume about 25 of the things in rapid succession and then began to bounce off the walls at warp speed while hauling around a roast boar. Marty promptly had fifty – and time seemed to slow down. By the time he’d consumed his fiftieth, he could hardly tell that any one around him was moving – save for the pixie that was sluggishly buzzing around.

   Marty took advantage of it to test out his new Light Foot technique, and started bouncing off the walls.

   From everyone else’s prospective, he simply vanished, replaced by something that was moving around too fast to see with the eye.

   Kevin contemplated the pixie sticks, shook his head – and then rejected the brownies, and the angel food cake, and anything else that was supernatural or aphrodisiac, before settling for gingerbread. Then he realized that gingerbread was probably considered a construction material around here.

   Marty slowed down after a bit, although – save for bumped patrons, knocked over glasses, spilled wine and other annoyances – his velocity wasn’t having any negative effects. Well, if that was all that happened to the patrons at a faerie revel, they were in luck. Half of them were bound to wake up sometime next week polymorphed into weird forms. Well, that was basically harmless, and was also one of the reasons why the release forms were required for going outside the quiet zones. Adrian and Roulan had wandered off to be alone and to make a night of it.

“Someone’s having fun tonight!”

   Kevin abruptly realized that – given the urges and physiology of the dragonform – he was likely to have some young draconic siblings in a few months. He threw in his blessing – he was the local god, it should count for something – and tied the place to Core to upgrade the odds of his new siblings having souls. He REALLY didn’t want to have his parents have to deal with some of their kids NOT having one.

   At least if anything would account for losing some time, spending time together – probably until they were exhausted – as dragons in a faerie mound should cover it.

   Kevin and Marty picked up Jamie and slipped off to pay a flying visit to the original Jedi Academy and see Thomas. Who knew? If they got entangled enough – and dragons had plenty of relevant enhancements – they might be able to fit in a few more things as well while the security setup was underway on Lahien in Core (actually, given Kevin’s experiences, they should be busy for at least a week). Otherwise they were mostly waiting on the evidence-gathering teams at the moment anyway. They could finish the golf game in the “morning” and get back to seeing Kadia. It wasn’t like even Kevin had seen most of it yet.

   A little checking revealed that they’d have plenty of time to make that trip. In fact, Kevin had time for a trip to the Dragonworlds – and to take care of some things there – while Marty had time for a bit of a vacation while Ealor got the ship out of storage and they picked out suitable Thralls for Thomas’s bodyguard.

   After they were back from that, they picked up twenty-four Thralls and headed off for the Old Republic and the Jedi School. A direct gate might be taken as an attack or something, so they went to Ealor and picked up the Ebon Hawk. They hadn’t used it in several months anyway – not since dropping off the Mirage for repairs – and Marty had kind of missed flying it. It would only take about a day, although the route through the deep core near the central black hole was a bit convoluted.

   While they were passing though, Kevin had a mobile discussion with Child Protective Services.

“You’re being silly. The Thralls CAN’T die, all they can do is take a fast jump to a new body. An uncommon privilege, but not death. They just like to call it that to make mischief and upset people; they are kids after all”

   That just led to more consternation over the idea that they could not die. Kevin and Marty didn’t see the problem; what was WRONG with being unable to die? It was very handy!

“Everything dies, this is a fact of nature and a fact of life itself. To announce that something is unable to be killed is to say that it is effectively not a part of reality.”

“Not part of your reality, maybe.”

“So what is wrong with that? The soul is NOT a part of reality as you define it, and it is immortal. I’m just allowing them to remanifest instead of reincarnating – and that is immortality.”

“Of course souls are a part of reality, they have definite effects upon reality and conversely can be effected by reality in turn. Merely because all of our evidence is indirect means nothing when the proper application of logic is made.”

“Now, you’re half right: in a thousand years or a hundred thousand years or so, when they’re bored with their current lives and abilities, and long after their indentures are up – probably only a few centuries on those – they can choose to break the link and reincarnate. Where you’re making a wrong assumption is the belief that “Death” actually has a referent in the Manifold other than “changing bodies” and is important. It’s your own definition there: You said that “Everything dies, this is a fact of nature and a fact of life itself. To announce that something is unable to be killed is to say that it is effectively not a part of reality”. Well, there’s no such thing as death as you define it, so – by your own logic – nothing is a part of reality as you define it. Now we’re in a hurry, so perhaps you should fix your definitions?”

“We are going to have to have a discussion with the Science and Engineering department then. But do not think for a second that this discussion is over. Not by a long shot. We are keeping our eyes on you!”

“If it amuses you. Why should I care? “

   That led to more consternation.

“Hey Marty! Kindly don’t crash us into the black holes! This is my good suit!”

“Same here, Kevin. Same here.”

   The journey through hyperspace was pretty straightforward for the first half. Once they entered the deep core, things begin to become a bit different though.

   Kevin got the Thralls organized into a chorus to sing “The green hills of Earth”.

   Marty become aware of a black presence in hyperspace off to the ship’s starboard side. The gravity well sensor got jittery – and he got the distinct impression that the ship was listing a bit to starboard. He steered to port to compensate.

   Kevin had the Thralls start in on “The Road Rage Theme Song”, and Marty grinned appreciatively.

   Dropping in and out of hyperspace, they were treated to the awesome sight of a massive glowing rotating disk whose far side was eclipsed by some unseen object. It was several light months away, but it still dominated the sky.

   Marty and Kevin were duly impressed. It had to be revolving near lightspeed for them to see it move at that range.

   Marty finally got what he thought was a good course plotted, taking into account the warped space in the region. He even managed to get into hyperspace again before the warnings from the shielding systems got to strident…

“In descant! The Ride of the Valkyries!”

   Soon enough they found themselves in orbit around an ancient world. It closely orbited a red dwarf, and had two moons running in retrograde orbits. It appeared to have a thriving ecosystem, a thick atmosphere, and an intense magnetic field. There were beacons for arrivals on one of the temperate continents. Nothing was visible from orbit at that spot, but there were some good sized cliffs on the shoreline.

   They headed for it. If they wanted to talk, they can contact them on the way in. If they wanted to listen, they could start another song and broadcast it.

   They settled on some humorous music before the messages started coming in.

“Welcome to the Jedi Academy. Here we offer full educational facilities and the best staff to provide one on one teaching in new students with regards to the Force. All applicants are welcome as well as visitors interested in the Jedi Order and it’s mission in the Republic. All new arrivals please follow the transmitted landing procedures and we will guide you in for a safe and secure landing. We hope you enjoy your stay on Tython.”

   Marty wasn’t feeling too uppity – or like fixing the ship again – so they settled for following the procedures.

   The turbulence was intense, with strong electrical activity and limited visibility – but the instructions were pretty much spot on perfect, and had them leaving the cloud cover and entering calm skies right in front of the bay they were directed to. Several tracking systems locked on and directed them further into the bay – and into the cliff side, where a series of lights illuminated a chamber carved out of the cliff.

   That was pretty cool actually.

   There was someone waiting for them too.

   They wondered if it would be Yoda again? It would be just like him to be there throughout the entire history of the Jedi order.

   Outside, the air smelled of salty sea with a pleasant scent reminiscent of mint. Jedi Master Tindale – one of the headmasters at the academy – was waiting to meet them. He was obviously a Jedi – the robes had changed some later on, but were still recognizable – but while he had that Jedi calm, there was some good-humor and a smile evident as well – as well as a lot of red pigmentation. Probably some local variant.

“Greetings! I am Master Tindale, one of the headmasters here at the Academy. What can I do for you?”

“We were just here to pay a visit to one of the students – Thomas Junyi Sanwell – and to arrange a few precautions for him.”

“Ah yes, a fine student, a fine student indeed. Are you friends or family?”



“He’s my younger brother.”

“Ah splendid, it is always good to have family and friends come visit. It help reminds the students that they are a part of the galaxy and the Republic. Too much isolation is sure to be unhealthy. I have been working hard at trying to set up a trust fund for insuring families without the means to come visit are able to at least once a standard year.”

   That was a shocker. Had the Jedi actually started off quite sanely?

“That sounds like a very sensible idea: I may be able to help out with that.”

“Ah splendid, it is good to find people who share a vision. I fear young Thomas is in the middle of classes at the moment. I hope you understand that I would rather not interrupt his studies at the moment, although he should be free later this afternoon. Would you care for a tour of the facilities in the meantime?”



   Master Tindale did inquire about the Thralls…

“Ah variously – and sometimes interchangably – my employees, students, and bodyguards. That is part of why I’m here: it is possible that Thomas’s presence may bring you a good deal of trouble due to my activities. It would be remiss of me not to have made arrangements to assist in that case.”

“Oh dear, that is most unfortunate. Well I shall tell you what I told your parents when they came to tour the facility. The staff here takes the safety of the students entrusted to our care most seriously and will do everything in our power to protect them. Although more information on the nature of this trouble would be appreciated of course.”

   It took Kevin and Marty a minute to come up with the list, and they were sure they were forgetting quite a few things along the way.

“Well, so far we’ve had cyborg assassins, power-armor goons, people driven insane by mental meme-weapons, orbitally projected energy-constructs, pirate starships firing nuclear missiles, treacherous government functionaries with pistols, orcs, drow priestesses of Lloth, crazed sorcerers with bombs, killer golems, soul-stealing mages, cartoon bandits – oh, and a balrog and child protective services, who may not be strictly hostile, but are very annoying.”

   Kevin could tell that Master Tindale was truthsensing – but made no effort to interfere or to try and block it. Why should he? It was all quite true.

“I trust this sort of variegated opposition is not entirely a shock to you?”

“It appears that you have been busy and made not a few enemies. Most unfortunate. Yes I can see with enemies like that, that Thomas might be in danger. Although I must admit I have a bit of trouble….. visualizing some of them.”

   They gladly showed him some images and records. His normally-calm-and-passive smile got just a trifle strained as they went through some of the images and vids of the enemies they’d encountered.

“I must say they seem a most unpleasant bunch. And most varied.”

“Unfortunately yes. Ergo, I thought I would bring you some extra assistance. It is hardly fair to place you in danger without both warning and assisting you and taking measures to protect my little brother.”

“Understood, and we appreciate it. We shall have to see if we can do something in return before you leave. Meanwhile, on to the tour then?”


“How familiar would you consider yourselves to be with the Jedi Order? I can give explanations as we tour along if necessary.”

“I am somewhat familiar with some of the later developments. I’m not too sure of the extend of Marty’s knowledge. Marty?”

“I think I know the basics.”

“Ah good then, well if something needs clarification or needs explained, just ask away and I will do my best to inform you.”

   He lectured as they walked.

“This facility was established 328 years ago, when the Order was founded here on Tython. It was built as a training facility for the Force Sensitives of this world and the neighboring worlds and as a test bed for formal education in the ways of the Force. Since the Republic first made contact with our world 53 years ago, we have been trying to expand our services to the whole of the Republic.

We built the majority of the facility underground in order to minimize the impact on the surrounding ecology and thus allow our students to feel the life around them in it’s natural state while still retaining the comforts of modern civilization. That isn’t to say we spend all of our time down here, we do many classes topside in various environments as training exercises and to help our students adapt to new circumstances. I believe young Thomas is in the Tree city at the moment.

We teach history, languages, customs, biology, chemistry, medicine, physics, science, engineering, and art here. We also teach the students the arts of Alteration, Manipulation, and Sensing with various dedicated facilities spread through the structure. We hold numerous game exercises to teach the importance of teamwork and organization. On site we have over 300 instructors with many more graduated students also on site to give a hand or to pursue their own advanced studies. At the top of the school are the twelve Masters and the Headmaster. They are in charge of making decisions about the future of the school and the Order.”

   Master Tindale was evidently very used to giving this tour; he took them through numerous rooms filled with students, teachers and equipment while simultaneously plucking any questions that rose to the surface of their minds out of the ether and working the answers in without interrupting his spiel. His skills were quite impressive, and the Thralls were learning a lot about using telepathy just by watching him.

   It was still impressive for Kevin, and he’d had his powers a lot longer than any of the Thralls he had along.

   Even more impressively, they seemed sane and reasonable enough, they hadn’t mentioned any sort of dark side / light side dichotomy, they welcomed visitors and family, and they didn’t seem to have any kind of obsessive monastic code.

   And Thomas would be done with his lesson, and available for a visit, as the tour wound down. Had that been intentional timing?

Continuum II: Faerie and Dragons

   For today it’s another module from the Continuum II rules; in this case the rules for symbiotic combinations of material beings and elemental or nature spirits – a category known as the Fey.

   Tevril, the town miller, heard music, and the sounds of a party, in the forest… He decided to see what was going on. He stepped out from behind a tree – into the middle of the squirrel-fairies picnic.


   There were a lot of small fuzzy faces turned his way as the world went black

   “Well – he’s asleep… At least he won’t step on anybody. (Good spell Jaffrai). Now what? Put him under the tree for now. He’ll wake up in the morning.”

   (Much later, and rather drunkenly); “Silly lout. Hic! Hey… I gotta idea; We can fill `is `ead with allkindsa shit… Keep `im from coming around any more. Who’s got some cool ideas?”

   In the morning, Tevril woke up remembering all kinds of incredible things.

   “Faerie” species are symbiotic combinations of Manitou (ethereal energy creatures) and physical beings. This has its advantages; the physical body gets a constant influx of energy, supercharging it’s usual abilities, while the Manitou gets a sink and stabilizer for it’s excess energy. The combination normally has limited energy-manipulation abilities and an enhanced sensory range, able to perceive on both the physical and ethereal levels. The price is vulnerability; faerie are susceptible to both material and ethereal attacks – as well as to anything which disrupts their symbiotic links or further stresses a body already operating on overload – such as most other enhancement effects.

   Faerie commonly display enhanced strength, endurance, intellect (if only in that virtually all Faerie are sapient), and dexterity. Their perception and presence, save for some of the social and attractive aspects, are generally unaffected. Their wisdom is reduced because of the distractions of operating simultaneously on multiple levels, because of excessive neural stimulation, and because most faerie find their own energies slightly intoxicating. They heal quickly, are resistant to fatigue, and can get along on far less food and air then normal material beings. On the downside, their excess energy makes them easy to detect – and relatively infertile due to the stress on the developing embryo. Their boosted metabolism is extremely resilient, easily tolerating doses of drugs, poisons, and intoxicants, which would kill other beings. Sadly, this same resistance applies to “healing” effects, beneficial drugs, and useful herbs. Their lifespans are usually five to ten times that of the base species depending on the local ethereal aspect (hyperspace-normal space) potential difference.

   As the most sensitive system in the body, the brain and central nervous system is affected the most by the power overload. As noted previously, almost all fairies are sapient – while most of the “base” species aren’t. This can lead to problems; sapience does not reduce the base species instinctive drives, although it may modify their expression. Predatory, territorial, herding, solitary, and nocturnal species remain so. Breeding seasons remain the same, although infertility and sentience ordinarily puts sexual activity on a year-round basis. Faerie with pack-oriented base species tend to act in the same way in any group they join, which often conflicts with normal group dynamics. On a simpler level, fairies overdriven nervous systems react far more dramatically to small inputs then more stable systems. While this improves their sensory acuity, it makes them vulnerable to mood swings, sensory overloads, and epileptic-type reactions to simple disturbances and neural-frequency stimuli (including music). On the positive side, their intense bioenergy fields make it considerably easier for them to develop C’hi or Introspection skills.

   A faerie’s natural form and genetic pattern matches that of the base species – although they’re usually large and healthy specimens. Despite these physical facts, faerie are often far more humanoid then the base species. This is due to a lesser version of the feedback process which many faerie use to shapechange; hands are very useful to a sapient being. Major exceptions include the more freely shapechanging fairies who can assume forms with hands, hooved fairies (who would have to cripple themselves to develop hands), very stupid fairies, and those species with highly specialized (and commonly predatory) adaptions.

   A faerie’s energy-aspect is somewhat less complicated to describe. It has traded the dangers of instability for the risks inherent in a material form – and shares the advantages and limitations noted above. While their exact abilities depend on what “skills” they’ve developed, all faerie possess their energy-aspects basic ethereal senses. These are usually entirely integrated with their basic, physical, senses – allowing GM’s to describe things in a comprehensible fashion – even if this does lead to lines like “It looks like a blue net, and it smells like warding and conjuration magic”. Similarly, they possess limited energy-manipulating abilities through a similar integration of muscles and lines of magical force. (Yes, this means that faerie can “touch”, and manipulate, magical energies. They can “feel” for the weakness in a magical barrier or try to solve it – but they simply aren’t very “strong”). As usual, there is a downside. Faerie are limited in the amount of extra energy they can handle and are extremely vulnerable to disruptive energy feedback if they slip up.

   Faerie are also extremely vulnerable to anything that disrupts the enhanced electromagnetic (and associated magical) fields of their central nervous systems. Possible causes include powerful, shifting, magnetic fields, some drugs and poisons, and materials with high magnetic resonances. Such materials interact with, and absorb energy from a faerie’s energy fields, creating disruptive feedback. Simple proximity to a mass of such materials can irritate sensitive faerie. Contact with them is usually painful – and sometimes causes severe burns. Weapons made of such substances can be a serious problem. Materials to avoid include iron, nickel, and cobalt, many of their alloys, some high-tech synthetics, a few, rare, magical materials, radioactives, and any of a wide variety of magical, technological, and psychic effects.

   As a final limitation, faerie are extremely vulnerable to anything which disrupts their symbiosis or the energy flow they draw from hyperspace. Blocking that is roughly equivalent to strangling a human. Possible disruptions include, but are not limited to; any contact with a subspace link (typical of Demons, “Undead”, and any God who feels like it), assorted magical or psychic effects (see above), any variation in the aspect potential difference (a rare problem, usually of interest only to dimensional travelers), and etheric combat (normally only of interest if a faerie gets into the etheric-energy equivalent of a “wrestling match” with an elemental or nature spirit).

   “Might” is an attribute unique to inherently magical beings; Faerie, Undead, Demons, Manitou, and the various types of Gods. It’s simply a measurement of their innate metabolic flow of mana. The higher their might, the more powerful they are – and the more conspicuous, prone to instability, and vulnerable to magical explosions they are. Might depends on a variety of factors. For Faerie, their Might depends primarily on size. Tiny, Small, Modest, Average, Large, and Very Large faerie creatures have a base Might of 1/2/3/4/5/6. Each point of might represents a magical flow roughly equal to a cantrip per round.

   Faerie live and breathe magic – and so have a natural advantage in it’s use. Gramayre-wielding faerie may cast their spells as if they were one “level” lower (cantrips may be employed freely, L1 spells as cantrips, etcetera), whether their powers are derived from profession, skill, or talent… On the other hand, their bodies are already operating near magical overload. Any attempts to exceed their normal limits will require an extra D6 on the roll per excess level of the spell. Illusion is probably the most common field of faerie magic. It’s a major survival mechanism for most of the smaller ones.

Why The Myths?

   Baby-Stealing and Changelings: This does happen sometimes; The basic problem is that the faerie suffer from energy overload. Many of their children die before birth or are weak and sickly. Even given their extended lifespans, children are scarce among the faerie.

   That doesn’t mean they want them any less.

   Humans with such problems often adopt (this is less of an option when it’s a racial problem), settle for pets – or simply mourn. The faerie have another option – and whether such occasional stolen children are seen as “pets”, as useful links with the human population, or as adopted children, the overall legend is unaffected.

   “Changelings” are replacements for “stolen” children. Usually these are simply illusions or magical constructs of some sort, occasionally (usually when the faerie just want to play with a child for a while – sometimes simply to keep the human parent from worrying while they find a lost child), it’s an older, shapeshifted, faerie playing the role. Very, very, rarely a changeling actually is a sickly faerie child. This usually indicates desperation – either a mother unable to face the fact that her child is dying or simply a last-ditch hope that humans will be able to cure whatever’s wrong.

   Midwives and Nursemaids: While this tale has two basic versions – the human midwife called to attend a faerie, and the faerie midwife coming to attend a human – the motive is similar; faerie midwives often have arcane resources that humans do not, but humans get a lot more practice and often have better mundane supplies. Either way, it can be useful, and few humans or faerie become midwives unless they’re concerned about mothers and their children.

   As for the faerie needing human nursemaids and/or wet nurses – well, as was noted earlier, faerie children are often frail and sickly. Frail and sickly children need a lot of attention. Help with them is always welcome, and humans are far more likely to have some experience. As for needing a wet nurse; that’s always been common – and humans are far more likely to be qualified then a faerie is. A wet nurse has to have milk for the child, and that generally means having given birth relatively recently.

   Faerie Lovers: This tale usually goes something like this; a Human falls in love with an alluring faerie. If male, he somehow “captures” her. If female, the faerie usually comes to her. The pair can be happy together, if only the human partner refrains from violating some peculiar taboo – usually something trivial. If there are children, they are often either heroes or monsters. Eventually, the human partner falls afoul of the restriction and the faerie departs, often taking some or all of the children along. In some cases, the human partner then pines away and dies.

   Let’s look at this one item at a time.

   A faerie’s enhanced bioenergy fields do enhance their attractiveness. The fact that taking human form usually involves shapeshifting suffices to account for beauty, and a very high sexual drive (an evolutionary consequence of low fertility), coupled with their relative scarcity, is enough to explain faerie getting involved with humans even without trying to account for the vagaries of love. This might even be enough to explain the occasional case of someone “pining away”… After all, that occasionally does happen – if not nearly as often as it does in works of romantic literature.

   “Capturing The (Special) Bride” is a well-established literary element – mostly because there’s a lot of truth to it. Males competing, and females being coyly “caught”, are major social elements in almost every higher species, including humans. Since most faerie have far stronger instinctive drives then humans, it’s not too surprising that most of them will insist on (at least) a “symbolic” courtship, pursuit, and capture.

   On the other hand, males of any species are notorious for chasing anything compatible and willing.

   As for those peculiar restrictions and taboos -they’re really pretty simple. Many faerie will wind up leaving a human partner. Faerie usually have lifespans far longer then a humans. It’s very hard to watch someone you care about slowly wither and die. Hard enough so that, after a few decades, many faerie simply can’t handle it any longer – and seize on any excuse or trivial irritation to bail out. As for taking the children – well, who gets custody is often an argument even in more ordinary divorces.

   Half-Faerie Children: Naturally enough, this topic is closely associated with Faerie Lovers. The problem here is that, save for the Sidhe’ (faerie humans), faerie have radically different genetic structures from humans. Remember that most faerie are, on the physical side, arcanely enhanced animals. Crossbreeding at all generally requires magical intervention – and there’s no guarantee that the magic wielder will get such a sophisticated and delicate effect right. Crossbreeds which live may be animal/human compromises, suffer gross genetic abnormalities, wind up simply taking after one or the other parent genetically, or even turn out remarkably well (after all, if somebody manages to get the genetic-manipulation magic right, why leave a kid with any bad genes?). On the ethereal level such children may wind up with no symbiont at all, with a poorly- adapted or stunted one (equivalent to the Minor Symbiont major skill), or as full-blown faerie. “Monsters” are often, although not always, sterile.

   On a related note, the classic “faerie ointment” is a fairly straightforward item; It bonds an extremely minor ethereal spirit into a body and/or (depending on the exact formula) aids in establishing the symbiotic link. In an older host, this results in acquiring a Minor Symbiont – once they finish adjusting (IE, it only costs one or two skill points, rather then three). In infants, the spirit will grow with them – hence the infant will grow up as a full faerie. Faerie ointment is usually only used when and if a very powerful (Usually male. A faerie mother rarely gives birth to a non-faerie) faerie winds up parenting a non-faerie child… Less powerful faerie generally can’t create the ointment to begin with.

   Enchanted Faerie Food: In general, faerie food isn’t particularly magical. On the other hand, thanks to their fantastic metabolic resilience, many faerie can tolerate doses of various chemicals – euphorics, toxins, intoxicants, hallucinogens, and various drugs – that’d put a human out for months, with little more then a pleasant “buzz”. Depending on what they’re serving, the food may even be addictive. While this doesn’t apply to all drugs and toxins, it applies to quite enough – and some faerie even use those they can best tolerate as spices, a habit sufficient to give their banquets a reputation for being very powerfully enchanted indeed.

   Imitating Humans: It’s well-reported; many of the smaller faeries have their own tiny steeds, and courts, and weapons – just like the humans around them.

   It isn’t really true.

   What is true is that illusions are a primary survival mechanism for the smaller faerie – and it’s much easier to how people about what they expect. It’s also far safer. Which is less likely to be bothered – a family of hedgehogs (admittedly, sapient and illusion-casting, but still basically hedgehogs) – or the “Emperor of the Pixies!”? Secondarily, the faerie population density is rather low – and thus much of their real social contact may be with humans anyway. That’s especially true if they associate themselves with a human household or group. Which leads, naturally enough, to our next topic;

   Pests and Blessings: To start off with, many or most faerie never have much to do with humans.

   Of course you never hear about those.

   Many faerie do associate closely with humans. After all. Here you are; a sentient, long-lived, mouse with limited shapeshifting and very minor magical powers. How can you arrange to be safe and comfortable in a world full of owls and weasels and snow and floods and such? You get indoors. You move in with the big people, and you use your little magics to make sure of your welcome. Since the faerie breed so slowly, nobody ever gets “Infested with Brownies!” – and nobody ever bothers them. The humans even leave food and stuff out for you. The little bit of food you need is a tiny price for the humans pay to make sure the chimney never catches fire or that the boiling pot never spills on the baby.

   Of course, there are always cranky, mischievous, and/or irritated faerie. Some humans are that way too, but when you’re very small and/or by yourself, declaring war simply isn’t practical. On the other hand, small magical tricks are.

   Some of the worst pests are faerie who feel betrayed. These are usually things like Phouka (Faerie hounds) who quietly associated with unknowing humans, and then found out that their upcoming “reward” for their companionship and service was going to be something like being neutered, having their kids drowned, or being sold. Normal enough for a domestic animal – but who’s going to be objective about something like that?

   Being Wanton and Promiscuous: For once, something from the stories is true enough. Faerie tend to be extremely sexual creatures. Evolutionarily, this is simply a result of their infertility; Like lions, if there’s going to be a next generation, they simply have to try a lot. Those who are the most interested and capable try the most and have the most kids. Given time and natural selection, this results in some very strong drives.

   On a practical level, being immune to most diseases, virtually tireless, and so infertile that “consequences” (such as pregnancies) are very rare, takes most of the usual restraints off.

   Faerie Guides and Champions: These tales normally involve a faerie coming to the rescue – either defending a maiden in some trial-by-combat, and taking her away afterwards (a scenario that’s easy enough to understand; humans do that sort of thing often enough, why not faerie?) – or a mysterious rescue or other assistance.

   The faerie are said to be fond of children, lovers, and innocents, looking on them with great approval and often coming to their aid.

   So do most people. The impulse to assist other people who’re in trouble somehow tends to be fairly powerful in most sapient species; it’s a survival mechanism. There will be emergencies in every creatures life. The impulse to assist the other members of your group (provided that it’s reasonably practical) greatly enhances said group’s survival potential. The impulse predates sapience – and one of the most basic characteristics of sapience is the ability to generalize. So; they feel an impulse to help, and often have the power to do so without any real effort or risk on their part. Why shouldn’t they do so?

   Faerie Mounds and Circles: Well, to be technical, any point of hyperspace energy-balance is a “faerie mound”. Such gateways are extremely dangerous (Q.V.; Aspect Shift, on the major skills list) – especially for humans. They aren’t entirely safe for faerie either, and the balance is often so delicate that the “gateway” only opens under a particular set of conditions. Faerie circles are simply places where groups of faerie hang around and hold their parties. Intruding on a faerie circle can be perilous, simply because crashing the party on a bunch of magical beings (however minor) is really asking to be the target of a lot of magical pranks. Larger faerie rarely have a specific “circle”, but groups of the smaller, wilderness faerie, often do. Their attitude is fairly similar to human villagers attitudes about blind and drunken giants wandering around in their villages.

   Faerie Realms: Hyperrealms are dealt with under the section on Dimensional Aspects (Q.V.). Isolated areas may be populated by faerie plants – usually in smaller areas with little “normal” competition. These are very lush, and are (of course) filled with magic. Inherently enchanted, such small islands, valleys, and peaks, are usually defended by a variety of wards and/or illusions. In general, such enclaves are limited to regions where environmental stresses outweigh the reproductive advantages typical of “ordinary” plants.

   Faerie Troupes and Revels: A major gathering of faerie – with their magic-driven metabolisms – releases more than enough magical energy to create a variety of side effects, ranging from the unintentional (weather disturbances, odd lights, frightening normal animals, and similar annoyances) on through an intentional focusing of that power on effects such as swift travel or cloaking illusions.

   The Seelie and Unseelie Courts: These actually do represent something; the “Seelie Court” consists of those Faerie’ who are most comfortable in close association with men; the creatures which prefer organized hedgerows, houses, and farms over serious wilderness. Unfortunately, a lot of them are small and inoffensive. The “Unseelie Court” represents those faerie who prefer untouched wilderness areas – most of the predatory or larger species.

Faerie Skills:

   Common Faerie receive 2 major and 2 minor skills, although expending additional talent points may (Will ?) modify this in many cases. “Professional” faerie receive an additional minor skill at level three and a major one at level seven. Vocational and “ordinary” faerie recieve additional skills as any other character would.

   Minor Faerie Skill Lists:

  • Animal Heritage: Awakening, Climbing, Hide Trail, Navigation, Running, Survival
  • Etheric Armament: Amplification, Etheric Combat, Levinbolts, Psychic Enhancer, Replication, Spellguard
  • Etheric Mastery: Hypersense(s), Metabolic Support, Rapid Healing, Resistance, Spell Analysis, Tuat Repulsion.
  • Faerie Revels: Carousing, Disguise, Distraction, Faerie Brewing, Mimic, Scrounging
  • Fey Auras: Acting, Dowsing, Fast Talk, Seduction, Spirit Companions, Presence
  • Visitations: Beastfriend, Beastspeech, Contacts, Humanity, Mindlinks, Power Links.

   Major Faerie Skill Lists:

  • Etheric Channels: Arcane Artificer, Elfshot, Limited Flight, Mystic Carrier, Spirit Focus, Transformation.
  • Faerie Magics: Empyrean Focus, Empyrean Magic, Greater Spirit Magic, Manitou Contact, Minor Magic, Practical Magic.
  • Fey Enhancements: Attribute Boost, Boosted Vitality, Celerity, Enhanced Might, Innate Weaponry, Instinct Conversion.
  • Fey Mysteries: Alertness, Cloaking, Dodging, Evasion, Inner Stillness, Stealth.
  • Internal Energies: Aspect Shift, Fascination, Hypnosis, Minor C’hi, Minor Psychomancy, Shapeshifting.
  • Mana Discharge: Arcane Discharge, Auric Flame, Constructs, Dynamic Magic, Elemental Discharge, Energy Discharge.
  • Natural Links: Bioperception, Dominion, Milieu Affinity, Melding, Natural Empathy, Naturalist.
  • Survival Skills: Bivouac, Chaos Manipulation, Enhanced Defense, Mana Stabilization, Neural Stability, Pathfinder.

   Dragons are something of a special case. Designed to intimidate enemies, to act as mounts, and as weapons, they have numerous special powers. They cannot, however, take skills from the Animal Heritage (Save Awakening), Faerie Revels, or Fey Mysteries (Save for Alertness and Cloaking) lists. Certain other skills (Notably; Melding, Enhanced Defence, Natural Empathy, Naturalist, Boosted Vitality, Instinct Conversion, Pathfinder, and Transformation) are impractical for various reasons. They do, however, have access to two special lists of their own;

  • Draconic Combat (Minor): Arcane Focus, Combat Focus, Lair Sense, Magesaddle, Psychic Focus, Shielding.
  • Dragonmight (Major): Bloodfyre, Countermagic, Emotion Casting, Enhanced Toughness, Nexus Transfer, Riddlemaster.

   Every dragon should take at least one skill from Mana Discharge list, as well as at least a minor (Levitation) version of Limited Flight. Otherwise, they’ll lack the classic “breath weapon”, and will be unable to get off the ground. At their size, even dragons aren’t strong enough to fly by pure muscle power. Other then these, a dragon gets three minor and two major faerie skills, as well as an additional major and minor skill around the time they reach adolescence. Otherwise, they acquire skills in the same fashion as any other character.

   -A very, very, few dragons make the transition to the status of “Greater Faerie” via learning to dump “excess” energies into their elemental surroundings… This trick can allow them to come close to doubling their might – and so makes them incredibly powerful. Virtually all of them are unique, professional-potential, entities. (See Also; Dragons, Arcane Enhancements).

Federation-Apocalypse Session 59b: Draconic Interlude III

   With the main orientation-lecture and slave-orientation done, and the basic discipline and control system up and running, Kevin assigned more Thralls to the Dragonworlds and got a few more details straightened out over the next few weeks. Another 1% or so of the hatchlings – a surprisingly small number – acted up and wound up in the machines for it. There were a few of the youngsters who already owned a sibling-slave or two due to legitimate challenges. That was fine – but Kevin made sure that all the slaves got properly processed: some of the owners hadn’t been relying on anything but intimidation and social pressure.

   He was pretty generous about interpreting the “doing badly in training” notion. Just being stupid, or awkward, or some such wasn’t necessarily a crippling handicap – magic could make up for a lot – but those who didn’t make an effort, regardless of whether that was due to stubbornness or to that special combination of being talented enough to get away with being lazy yet being too foolish to take being warned about it seriously, went into the slave-processing machines.

   The enthusiasm for button-pushing had yet to wane (most of the kids were keeping a sharp eye on the machines and gleefully pushed the start buttons whenever they got a chance – although there were one or two who either passed up a chance to process a friend or did them the small service of picking the least painful of the available options since it was inevitable anyway), and probably wouldn’t for months – but the total came to a mere 5%. That was considerably better than he’d expected. If that kept up he might manage a “final graduating percentage” of thirty or forty percent! That would be little short of miraculous!

   Next up he’d need some additional real trainers – Thralls from Kadia (or having the hatchlings commute to Kadia), since interacting with real people would help the phantasms develop as individuals, make them a better family for Eogam – and possibly lead to them attracting souls to incarnate in them. He’d also need some career paths. He hadn’t thought he’d need those so soon (OK, honestly he hadn’t really given the kids much thought of any kind while they remained generic phantasms), but he’d forgotten how mature dragons were the day they hatched – and if he wanted them to have better odds than a 99.5% chance of death-or-longing-for-death, he’d have to arrange something. Still, Dragons were proud, domineering, and predatory, which made most conventional jobs a bit awkward. What could he train them for? It couldn’t be anything isolated and away from the few real people around, or they’d just tend to merge back into the background. That pretty much eliminated any attempt to merge into the draconic “middle class” of quiet small-holders – and positions like that were fairly rare and tended to be fodder for adventurer-types building major holdings anyway.

   They didn’t exactly need training to be used for magical components, food, and raw materials – but that was what he was trying to avoid, no matter how common it was in the Dragonworlds. They didn’t need much training to become slaves, industrial magic-workers, or experimental subjects either -but that was still better than dead, especially if they were working for him. There were plenty of openings for riding, training, and guard duty in Kadia. Still, that sort of thing was a default for the ones that fouled up or couldn’t manage another career.

   So: Possible Dragon-Career Path Training Programs:

  • Executive Servant (more accurately, Voluntary Corporate Slave): The easiest of all careers; all a hatchling has to do is volunteer for full slave-processing and become company property, and they’ll be guaranteed all the usual slave-benefits, a certain amount of money and freedom to own things, a limited choice of jobs, some vacation time, protection against serious abuse, and not being a target or challengeable. They’ll become a top-quality rent-a-slaves, guaranteed fully-conditioned, extremely well trained, properly servile, and loyal and obedient to a fault. They’ll be valued company assets – and, if necessary, Kevin will operate the company at a loss to provide a safe refuge for the ones who don’t want to take that 95% chance of enslavement-at-best when they got out into the world. It wouldn’t be HIS preference – but there are bound to be cautious ones, it isn’t a bad deal, and it will be nearly another forty years before they’ll be hitting puberty even for the oldest ones – so giving up real sex shouldn’t be a big consideration even for the males.
  • Thrall Mount/Companion/Bodyguard: The second easiest career, if a somewhat dangerous one and still one that requires being bonded to a master – albeit not to the extent of full slave-processing unless the hatchling is already a slave anyway. Still, the link with a Thrall will provide resurrection-benefits for phantasms and the Thralls will be kind and generous “masters”. This path offers some freedom, some adventure, a decent lifestyle, and even the possibility of remaining sexed if they can maintain control through draconic puberty. The training program will focus on functioning as a sidekick and combat skills.
  • Junior Executive: While this path requires a limited amount of conditioning to suppress the usual draconic tendency to be proud, domineering, and predatory – unless the hatchling in question is just a natural groveler – representing a more powerful dragon or major organization offers fair security as long as that dragon or organization wants to protect you. It even offers some chance of finding a mate and having a small family. Of course, if that protection fails, anyone on this path will wind up leashed or dead in short order. The training program will focus on practical personal powers and skill enhancements, organizational and basic skills, and being properly submissive and attentive when dealing with superiors.
  • Primitivist: Another relatively easy career, involving nothing more in the way of a “plan” than simply going off somewhere uncivilized – or at least outside the Dragon Empire – to be a “natural” dragon. Primitivist’s will be chasing local resources and mates and hoarding treasure – at least until the local adventurers or a bigger dragon gets them. The training program will stress self-sufficiency, putting up with rough living, and developing innate abilities.
  • Adventurer, Mercenary, or Thief: A career for the tough, fast, decisive, and self-confident. The training programs for this will be highly eclectic and personalized – but will include both an equipment allowance, the advice of guidance counselors in getting appropriate equipment (over and above the services available to all the hatchlings), and the occasional mandatory (and many students-option) high-stakes tests – training exercises where the trainees can gain substantial amounts of extra resources and power-boosts if they succeed, have a good chance of getting out without serious injury if they fail but perform competently, but may wind up being captured or “killed” if they really bungle things. If they do wind up being captured or “killed” they will spend the usual forty-eight hour “at risk” period in a slave-processing machine. Fortunately, their friends, if any, will be allowed to try to keep people from pressing the start button if they wish.
  • Duelist: A VERY high-stakes training program, for those youngsters who want to focus on fighting other dragons, either to take over their holdings or as professional gladiators and hired guns. The training program will, of course, focus extensively on combat – including physical skills, special tricks, magical combat, and psychic combat abilities. The basic courses will focus on in-class and controlled-combat training exercises. Students may also opt to fight weakened hatchlings of similar ages bought to be slaves in a private arena. If they perform reasonably competently (and don’t grandstand or get overconfident), they should have a 90%+ chance of winning. If they win, they get some prizes and can keep their new slave. If they lose, they will go into a processing-machine for an at-risk period UNLESS something weird happened and it wasn’t their fault. Winning opponents can go free, opt for the nicer slave-careers (including studying to become consorts for the when the kids hit adolescence), or fight again to win a place in the palace/school. That should give them plenty of incentive to fight hard and cleverly. Students may also opt to fight each other or other free dragons in a public (if still owned by Kevin) arena on equal terms. The winner gets a share of the gate and some prizes, the loser becomes property of the management if it’s the opponent and goes in a processing-machine for an at-risk period if it’s the student (if the fight is between two students, they can set their own bets).
  • Consort: A program with relatively low-end qualifications, save for the ability to get taken in without being enslaved by a more powerful individual. Training will focus on social skills, being entertaining, conversation, being attractive, home and holding management, and – as puberty approaches – sexual skills. Still, this is a relatively safe program for females; the worst that’s likely to happen to them would be to be taken as a slave-consort rather than a free one. Those hatchlings who opt for the consort program but who cannot find a place before full adulthood at 100 will be transferred to one of the slave-programs.
  • Gambler: Kevin doesn’t really approve of this program, but the high-stakes socialite path is a possible avenue for the lucky. Training will focus on understanding odds, intuition, luck, manners, reading opponents, and audacity – not that there’s necessarily any good way to train those qualities. He will set up a local casino or two (with only reasonable house odds) and make buy-back arrangements with any others in the area; the hatchlings who want to can gamble with whatever funds they have available and can get credit against their allowances. After they’ve hit their allowance advance limit, they’re gambling with an at-risk period in a processing machine.
    • Kevin really didn’t approve of this – it was such a STUPID way to get into trouble and risk your freedom – and, after the program was underway, gave in to temptation and chromatic dragon impatience the first few times it came up, making it a point to stroll by the machines holding the idiot gamblers, glance at them, read the “why they’re there” notice, shrug, flip a coin, glance at it, shrug again – and press the start button.
  • Military: While dragons have obvious military advantages, this program focuses a bit more on them serving as scouts and aides in relatively primitive forces, at least at first; they’re at a lot less risk against arrows than against antiaircraft missiles or vastly-powerful spells and psionic powers. This offers a decent chance for loot, a pretty good chance of survival, and – since Kevin has connections with several groups and can arrange an entry and some special consideration – a fair chance of avoiding any serious military discipline. The training program will focus on combat skills, evasion, basic tactics and strategy, and scouting abilities. Various magical sub-specialities, such as healing, come next. The program will also cover training for large-scale land/sea/air/space combat with more modern forces, but he’ll try to discourage that: the risks are higher and there’s less chance for loot. This overlaps extensively with the “Adventurer / Mercenary” category, and the same sort of optional and required high-stakes tests apply.
  • Performer: OK, this is a possible career – and he will make training in various performance-type skills and such available – but the major qualifications for a career as a movie actor, politician, talkshow host, exotic pet, or whatever are simply (a) being entertaining, and (b) finding somewhere where you’ll be accepted, but relatively unique. Even in the Manifold, that’s hard to arrange when you add “(c) has to be around people with souls but outside of Core” to the mixture. Still, if some of the hatchlings think they can manage the trick, he’ll certainly let them try.
  • Expert: Another possible career – but given their instinctive drives, about the only way a dragon could be content in a job like this was to be one of the TOP experts in a particular field. That meant major personal talent and extensive special tutoring, whether the goal was becoming a master craftsman in a particular field, a specialist in draconic medicine, a financier, a powerful magician, an expert geneticist, or some such thing. He’d have to provide special tutors for anyone who wanted to try this sort of thing, and possibly get an adaption of the core educational programs running for them.
  • Finally, Colonizer: training to establish new holdings on new worlds – whether in unoccupied areas of the Dragonworlds or out in the Manifold. The educational program will focus on basic technologies and magic, general holding management and resource management, and general background skills. It should be easy enough to outfit some appropriate expeditions.

   That would do for an initial selection, although it was a nuisance to find tutors who could handle all those package deals. He offered them some Witchcraft pacts as well – which helped a good deal in getting a little edge on other dragon hatchlings. A good allowance, and ways to earn bonuses on it, and guidance counselors to help them shop for stuff that will really be useful to them, was also handy.

   He instituted some several-times-yearly testing rules – and a demerit system for major infractions (occasional tardiness, or stopping to push a button or watch someone in a processing machine was only to be expected). They were basically chaotic after all…

   Too many tests without progress in your chosen field, or too many demerits, meant an at-risk period in the processing machines – but the enthusiasm for button-pushing would wane a bit eventually; once they got to the point where they were considering whether or not there was a reason to push the button on a family member (it would be irrational to expect them to ever have any doubts about rivals from other families), some would start making it through at-risk periods. The kids would know that THEY had a meaningful final decision on who got slave-processed, they’d feel involved – and it looked like they’d feel that it was fair. They’d already knew that he was doing his best to be fair AND to give them all the best possible chance. With any luck he might actually manage to get some loyalty* out of them WITHOUT slave-conditioning.

   *Any who can be considered “loyal followers” – probably including all the conditioned slaves – will get the same follower-bonuses that the Thralls get. At the moment this consists of a 20 CP bonus package:

    • Dimensional Adaption (1 CP): Enthusiast, Specialized: Only for the “Identities” skill, Corrupted: only changes in new realm, reduces the cost of Identities by 1 SP. For wannabes in the Manifold, this will usually provide +8 CP worth of local privileges, wealth, and so on.
    • Relic Mastery (4 CP): Enthusiast x2, Specialized in Relics for double effect the first time, to half the cost on the second time. This lets them have 3 CP worth of relics of their choice.
    • Immunity to Sensory-Based Mind Control (4 CP). Immunity (Uncommon / Major / Minor, blocks effects of up to L3 and provides a +4 on saves against more powerful effects)
    • +1d6 Power (2 CP): Personal Mana converted to Power (for a total of 3d6+20)
    • Create Relic (2 CP): Specialized (2 Point Relics Maximum), Corrupted; only points from Enthusiast.
    • Wealth +1 SP
    • Reflex Action (6 CP): 3 bonus actions as required per day

   Of course, Kevin STILL doesn’t know about this in any detail – although he is aware that the Thralls are getting some bonus powers, he doesn’t know that it applies to anyone else yet.

   Now, processing local slaves would provide a modest number of examples – and, incidentally, demonstrate that if they WERE going to be slave-processed they’d want to get it over with BEFORE puberty, since it would hurt a lot more after that – but it might be best to get them some mild out-of-the-family competition to try and inspire a little family unity.

   He’d institute a testing service!

“We will test and sort hatchlings; those with exceptional talents, disciplines, or skill – and who don’t do anything disastrous during testing – will be sent back with an individually-recommended training program. The 80% who have no real chance will be sorted out and slave-bonded at no cost or bother to you (and a great savings in time), and all for a very modest fee of 10% of the hatchlings selected from among the new slaves. Keep your lair calm and make sure that, when people see your children, they see children you can be proud of!”

   That would give them a constant stream of examples and chances to process hatchlings other than their siblings. He could even offer training services – versions of the programs available to his own children, albeit without button-pushing privileges and with less allowance for demerits and lack of progress – for the most promising. Similarly, he’d tone down the pleasure-circuits for out-of-the-family slaves. The machines could easily be set to display the name, reason for being at risk, time remaining at risk, family relationship, process status, and a few other details. The Thralls could check over incoming hatchlings for ones with souls – and he could probably arrange to acquire those fairly readily. They’d probably be misfits anyway.

   As it turned out, both the testing and the training-school notions got a fairly good reaction from the other dragons. No dragon wanted rebellious or otherwise troublesome hatchlings, and few wanted to be bothered trying to train them themselves.

   Most of his hatchlings reacted fairly well to the custom career paths as well. A few didn’t, or were mostly indifferent. It looked like the indifferent ones either had plans of their own or weren’t doing much – and the ones who didn’t like having custom training options available missed the old chaos.

   That sorted itself out soon enough. The ones with plans of their own pursued them under the supervision of the Thralls. The ones who just liked chaos on principle found it elsewhere; the Dragonworlds had no shortage of chaos. The ones who weren’t doing much wound up being slave-processed for failing to put effort into their training – and the ones who had just liked chaos since it provided cover for their own misbehavior wound up being slave-processed for misbehavior. Oh well; that was only another 20% or so – about 42% enslaved in total counting the duel-losers – and Kevin had been guessing that 20% “graduating” would be exceptionally good. The survivors – the ones who had a good chance at a career – were once again pleased with the notion that the losers brought it on themselves fairly (and with the chance to push buttons and watch annoying siblings get processed).

   The next major chop was probably going to be adolescence – and that wouldn’t be for decades. Perhaps it would be calmer if the first sign a hatchling had of the onset of adolescence was the delivery of a trio of cute functional-but-sterile slaves of the opposite sex to his or her room?

   Blast it. There HAD to be some way to attract souls to incarnate in his dragon-children! It was time to start experimenting.

Federation-Apocalypse 59a: Draconic Interlude II

   The problem was very simple: A female dragon remains fertile for a thousand years. Capable of producing thousands of offspring. Some of them – particularly among the less-clever varieties – are likely to do so. Dominant males may have many more offspring than that – and dragons are sexually driven enough that half-dragons are all too common. Young dragons are mildly difficult to kill. Adult dragons are very difficult to kill and become even harder to kill as they age. They are roughly evenly divided between males and females.

   In a steady-state environment, each generation merely replaces the last.

   Ergo, something in the area of 99.9% of all dragons either never get to breed – whether due to death or due to not being permitted to breed – breed a few times and die very young, or – possibly – great numbers of females are monopolized by a relatively few males and many chances for fertilization are missed.

   What happens to the losers? The principal natural enemies of dragons are adventurers, major vehicle weapons, and each other.

   In the Dragonworlds, where the dragons rule, death-by-adventurer or by vehicle-scale-weapons is relatively scarce.

   It follows that, in the Dragonworlds, the vast majority of dragons are either slain or sterilized (and – we would assume – enslaved, since otherwise they would probably just get this undone) by other dragons. Given that adequate control systems are available, and that there will be quite enough dead dragons lying around anyway, we’ll throw in the assumption that sterilized dragon-slaves, attendants, nurses, tutors, guards, and so on, are all popular with the more powerful dragons. That way 10% or so of them get to live.

   Even with a red dragon’s tendency to fume and the somewhat-faster timerate the dragonrealms were currently running at (he’d never quite sorted out whether that was cyclical or plot-driven; sometimes the place was a little slow, sometimes a little fast), Kevin had calmed down by the time the new slaves were out of processing.

   They’d need an orientation lecture too. They might have been magically-manipulating other hatchlings into fights – at least in his five worst cases – as well as making general nuisances of themselves, but part of that might just be because they’d known the odds to begin with. When you knew that you had a 90% chance of dying in childhood or adolescence, it sort of took most of the premium off of “delayed gratification” or “self-control”.

   Hopefully the remaining kids would recognize that he was trying to improve things.

   Hm. It looked like the troublemakers had been pretty unpopular: the other kids had picked out a full set of the most painful, blatant, and demeaning options each and every time. Hopefully that would change a bit in the future.

   The new slaves all showed up and waited quietly and obediently when summoned of course – but the aura of despair was pretty painful. They believed that not only had they lost any chance of there ever being anything fun in their lives again, but that they were only waiting to find out which nine-out-of-ten of them were going to die horribly and which one-in-ten would get to live and suffer.

   Feeling guilty under the weight of those despairing gazes, Kevin took refuge in being brusque – and in the fact that he had good news for them.

“At Attention! You are all slaves now, and probably will be for the rest of your lives. That being so, there are some things you’ll need to know. Most importantly, you are still my children, and I have made some provisions for you:

First, none of you will be sold away from my holdings, or will be used for anything which will either kill you or cause you unjustified pain – please note that punishment for messing up is NOT unjustified pain – UNLESS even slave-binding and slave-conditioning does not suffice to bring your behavior under control. Failing that, however, you will NOT be used for sacrifices, butchered for food or magical components, used for hunting-practice, or anything similar. If I need to do anything like that, there are plenty of other young dragons available on the market.”

   Well, that brightened them up somewhat; at least they weren’t going to die for awhile – or until something happened to Kevin. There was no way around the sour bits – but at least they wouldn’t be a surprise.

“You may be put to a variety of demeaning and servile tasks. “Modesty”, “Pride”, and “Dignity” are no longer a part of your world. That comes with being a slave of course, but I’ve made some special provisions there as well. To demonstrate, all of you display yourselves and show off your modifications. Remain posed for display while the veterinarians check you over.”

   Kevin kept a careful eye out for signs of resistance. While minor slipups among the slaves would call for minor punishments, actual resistance wasn’t at all likely barring someone having some really unusual attribute or special power – or another kid or group thereof trying to get a slave-child into trouble or punished. That would be awfully easy to do with illusion or domination magic. On the other hand, it would be direct interference with his lecture, defiance of his rules about slave-treatment, an attack on his personal family/property – and grossly unfair; the slaves were totally helpless. Hopefully the remaining free kids all had enough sense to know what THAT would lead to.

   Everything seemed to be going as it should however.

“Well… From the reports, outside of the basic modifications, and the resulting temporary stiffness and soreness, you are all in excellent health. Thank the veterinarians for their inspection.”

   The kids – obediently, if somewhat resignedly – thanked the veterinarians for that dose of humiliation. That, of course, triggered the positive-reinforcement conditioning circuits. The sudden jolt of ecstasy sent them momentarily rigid and wide-eyed – and was quite a shock for them. Pleasure-conditioning wasn’t normally part of the process.

“THAT is the special provision I’ve made for you there. Pleasing, obeying, and providing good service for your master will bring you pleasure in return. If you please your master enough, you may find life as a slave quite gratifying. This will also serve to make you more docile, eager to please your masters, and grateful for receiving orders from your masters – thus making you far more valuable, and consequently safer, slaves.”

   Suddenly there was a certain amount of enthusiasm and anticipation in the attention his slave-children were giving Kevin. They’d never heard of such a thing – but it was beginning to look like enslavement within the family might be quite bearable, rather than being a fate that would probably make you long for death. Given the odds against success, perhaps this was going to turn out to be a second place prize? Father had always been pretty generous – but even the metallics weren’t normally anywhere near this kind to enslaved offspring!

   Kevin was pleased; when you were likely to father tens of thousands of children, most of them would inevitably wind up losing the competition to become parents in the next generation – but while mass enslavement might be both inevitable and necessary, he hadn’t really wanted to take anything – much less everything – away from them, even if they were only phantasms. He wanted them to see this as trading in “freedom with a 90% chance of an early death, a 9% chance of unpleasant enslavement and likely early death, and a 1% chance of becoming a parent (and likely an early death or an unpleasant enslavement soon afterwards)” for “being a subordinate with a nearly 100% chance of having a long and reasonably happy life to look forward to”.

“Now, most of you will never know the pleasures of raising a child of your own – although you all knew that the odds of that were poor to begin with. On the other hand, you will never need to make a speech like this one. You will not, however, be missing out on nearly as many things as most slaves. I will be granting you all an innate dream-experience spell. As long as you please your master, it will allow you to experience a memorable and vivid full-sensory dream life of hunting, feasting, exploring, adventuring, flying free, and even – provided that someone gives you an illusion-experience first to provide the basics to work with – sex. Dream-lives aren’t quite as good as the real thing, if only due to the lack of real people in them to interact with, but they’re a fair substitute. Of course, this will – once again – help keep you resigned to your situation, attentive to your master, and give you a stake in remaining enslaved, making you better and more valuable slaves.”

   That was something of a wonder. They’d never even imagined that something like that was POSSIBLE, much less that Kevin would casually grant it to them. A few even realized that – while a dream-life might not have other real people to interact with – it wouldn’t consist of anything except high points and fun either.

   Kevin didn’t mention that a minor mental-communication charm with each other would give them real people to interact with in their dreams. Let them figure that out for themselves. He didn’t want to make enslavement seem TOO attractive anyway.

   Now for some other basics.

“You will be getting ample amounts of food, water, and rest, and proper medical care, as well as occasional periods of relaxation and – if you do well – even occasional gifts or a small allowance. There is no reason to starve or abuse you; I have plenty of resources – and underfed, tired, injured, or over-stressed slaves perform poorly.

You will be continuing your educations, although you will be learning skills of use to your owner rather than preparing for an independent career. A skilled slave, well-versed in many fields, is far more valuable than a dolt. Of course, if you do poorly or show little effort, you will be punished.

You will occasionally be allowed to choose between assignments: You will provide the best service – and maximize your own pleasure – by serving in the positions for which you are best suited.

If you are being abused beyond the casual kicking-around that comes with being a slave, you are to report it to the harem managers. Similarly, you are free to ask them questions and to make minor requests. However, if they feel you are abusing the privilege, you will be punished. If you are being seriously abused by someone under my authority, the person abusing you will be punished.

You may now sit.

Finally, you have all been accustomed to receiving some small favor or gift – a minor outing, an illusion-experience of your choice, a special meal or treat – each year at the anniversary of your hatching day. This will continue. I’m sure that it will make you better slaves somehow.

Any questions? That is not rhetorical, if you have any, go ahead and ask politely.”

   There weren’t any. Most of them were still digesting the fact that their situation was a great deal better than they’d thought – perhaps better than the vast majority of dragons ever got. They were distracted enough that they didn’t even realize that “making you more valuable slaves” wasn’t really a reason when Kevin had already stated that he had no shortage of resources and had no intention of ever selling any of them.

   Kevin was pleased as well. It looked like they’d be quite content.