The Trapspider Template (Eclipse d20)

Trapspider (+32 CP / +1 Level/Challenge Rating Spider Template).

What lunatic would install a scything blade and a spiked pit trap in the kitchen pantry? No one in their right mind would live in or build this place!

-Pretty much every adventurer at one time or another.

Trapspiders – according to some legends created or modified by someone called “Grimtooth” to make his traps for him – are a communal variant on the various common monstrous spiders that colonize old ruins, dungeons, and similar environments. A colony normally consists of 2d4 adult individuals (the young tend to wander off once hatched and do not develop their special powers until approaching adulthood). They feed on flesh, bone, and modest amounts of various metals, but are relatively passive as adults. Adult trapspiders normally wait for potential prey to come into their lair – usually a corridor or room. They gain their name from their ability to “spit” traps. As individuals they can cause an opponents location to abruptly be full of bear traps, or to have a spiked pit there, or to be attacked by various other traps, or they can attempt to shove targets into existing (and usually more dangerous) traps.

Their lairs tend to have elaborate, extremely dangerous, corridor or room traps (or even multiples thereof) – a result of the spiders communal efforts. Oddly enough, such traps are often reasonably aesthetically pleasing. While they are rarely great works of art, they often feature fountains, basic statuary, silk curtains, pivoting walls concealed by abstract murals, and other decorative features, as well as being kept relatively clean and neat. The spiders themselves use their ability to conceal themselves as part of the decor, pretending to be boxes, jars, torch-sconces, or similar items.

Lending further credence to the stories of their deliberate creation, Trapspiders always leave a way to deactivate their major traps – albeit rarely a conveniently positioned one. If unsupervised, the most common strain tends to create mathematical puzzles that must be solved to turn off the traps for a day (how they do this when most are unintelligent remains confusing). Unfortunately, while there’s usually a convenient keypad or some equivalent showing a spider with no legs for “0″ and 1-7 legs for the digits to enter the solution, the spiders tend to use base eight – so, for example, a diagram showing a trap in the center, overlaid by a circle with a line extending to the center, with five button-images underneath, would be asking for the first five digits of Pi in base eight. Other strains may produce chess (or other game) puzzles, block puzzles, riddles, or any other form of puzzle. Of course, if they are under someone’s control, pretty much anything goes.

Once the primary trap of a Trapspider nest has been deactivated, they tend to be a bit passive – apparently assuming that, with their primary trap deactivated, anyone left in the area is friendly – or at least authorized to be there. That makes it fairly easy for adventurers to “milk” them for a bit of their trap-creating Venom. While that normally loses potency in 1d4 days, it’s fairly easy for a competent alchemist (Craft/Alchemy DC 15, Craft/Poison DC 21, Knowledge/Nature DC 25) to stabilize the stuff, allowing it to be kept for months.

The Template:

  • Add 3d6 Mana With Reality Editing, Corrupted for Increased Effect and Specialized for Reduced Cost / maximum range of 5′ per size category above “Tiny”, only to shove targets into traps (1 Mana to move a Large or smaller target up to ten feet, save as per their basic venom) and create Traps.
    • Creating traps costs 1 Mana/CR of the resulting trap (things like “roach motels”, mousetraps, and ant-baits don’t cost anything) and is limited to a maximum CR of (Hit Dice + number of assisting trapspiders (9 CP). Spitting a bunch of bear traps is an early favorite.
  • Rite of Chi with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / Takes one hour per die, only to recharge the mana reserve above (3 CP).
    • Trapspiders do take a few hours to rebuild their venom reserves, but this is rarely especially limiting. Traps, after all, keep.
  • Immunity / Traps (Very Common, Severe, Major), Specialized / only versus their colonies individual or collective traps (7 CP).
    • Trapspiders can easily ignore or evade the effects of the traps they produce, forcing enemies who engage them to deal with ongoing trap effects in addition to whatever the spiders do.
  • Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to allow them to be “milked” for 1d4 vials of their trap-creating “venom” (2 CP). One Vial = 1 Mana.
    • This does the spiders no good at all, unless it just encourages adventurers to leave them alive – and so is another argument for them being engineered somehow.
  • Innate Enchantment (5000 GP Effective Value, 6 CP): This grants them:
    • Disguise Self (Personal-Only, 1400 GP): Trapspiders can readily disguise themselves as balls, boxes, small casks, vases, or similar items, and usually do so while resting in their lair.
    • Barkskin (Personal-Only, 1400 GP): Trapspiders incorporate some of the metal that they eat into their chitin, gaining a +2 bonus to their Natural Armor. This also means that Trapspider Chitin makes good knives, pots, armor, and similar goods.
    • Immortal Vigor I (Personal-Only, 1400 GP): Trapspiders gain (+12 + 2 x Con Mod) Hit Points thanks to their partially-metallic composition.
  • Occult Sense / Detect Traps (6 CP). Trapspiders are almost unerring about spotting traps.
  • +3 Skill Specialty in Aesthetics (Traps) (1 CP). Trapspider trap-lairs tend to feature colonnades of statues, polished floors, and intricate designs. They’re the nicest-looking rooms and corridors that will ever kill you!
  • +3 Skill Specialty in Architecture (Interior Decorating). Trapspiders can actually make their lairs look quite pleasant and inviting, helping them lure victims in.
  • Template Disadvantage: Compulsive (Leaves deactivation mechanisms on major traps, as above) (-3 CP).
  • If it matters, Trapspiders are considered to be Magical Beasts, although this does not change them otherwise.

Trapspiders are, of course, one of the major reasons why old ruins and such are so often full of elaborate traps with no discernible sensible function, reason for being there, or apparent builders. They’re also why such traps often have insane deactivation methods – if only so that their original creator could turn off any traps that they built in inconvenient locations.

In play, trapspiders can be extremely annoying in their lairs; they tend to prefer ongoing traps – such as arcs of energy that hit anyone who steps on the wrong floor tiles – and will run about the area quite unaffected, spitting minor traps at people and trying to get them hit by more energy arcs. Unsurprisingly, their treasure – when they have any – is entirely incidental to their feeding, and usually consists of items that they will not eat (gems and other minerals, wood, cloth, more durable metals, and so on).

Trapspiders play a prominent role in the current events of the Anomaly game, where they explain WHY to ancient castle is full of insane traps – so here they are to cause headaches for other adventurers.

Hero System – Artifact Smartphones

And as a whimsical bonus for today… it’s Blueblood‘s Artifact Smartphone, for those times when you just HAVE to stay in touch.

Not surprisingly, a Smartphone is purchased as exactly what it is – a Computer. In fact, it’s a not particularly powerful computer. Still, even the basic zero-point model is has all the usual Smartphone functions and – as a magical artifact – is capable of getting onto pretty much any network from pretty much anywhere in the multiverse, can control your household gadgets, can straighten your desk, can fetch you coffee, and can feed local languages (and some other stuff) directly into your head.

Advanced models are quite another thing altogether. At a cost of four, five, or six points they can have all kinds of functions, even if they DO tend to drain the supplemental battery at great speed. Blueblood has never bothered to upgrade though; he generally prefers to use his own powers.

Smartphone Computer

Value Characteristic Points
8 INT -2
1 SPD 0
Total -32

 

Points Powers END
32 Artifact Smartphone (0 Points)
(2) Elemental Control: Electronics (4-pt reserve); Usable By Others: Power Lost, +¼; OAF (Phone): -1
a-4 Radio Listen and Transmit; Datalink: +½; Cellular / WiFi / Bluetooth Service Only: -1; No Range Penalty: +½; Transdimensional: Any Dimension, +1,

This will let you connect to any network from pretty much anywhere.

b-2 Eidetic Memory; Always On (Memory is either perfect or utterly gone): -½, Limited Storage Space: -½.
c-2 Images (Normal Sight); Reduced END: Zero, +½; No Range: -½; Generic Limitation (Screen Only): -4; Observer PER Penalty: 0, +0. 0
d-6 Pocket Secretary and Remote Control / Telekinesis (STR 10); Manipulation: Fine, +10; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Strength 0 Only: -2; Maximum range of 6 Hexes: -¼; Only functions as a secretary – operating devices, fetching coffee, sketching, etc: -2. 0
e-5 2d6 Aid: Programs/Databases (Fade/week, Max. 12); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Activation: 11-, -1; Must have program available to load: -2; Reduced END: Zero, +½.

This allows the user to load maps (area knowledge), languages, databases, and so on. All of it should be Usable By Others/Power Lost, so you can load a total of 10 points worth of information.

0
f-6 Basic Computer Functions
(2) Internal Clock / Absolute Time Sense.
(2) GPS/Bump of Direction.
(2) Calculator / Lightning Calculator.
(1) File Loading / Speed Reading; Computer Files Only: -1.
(0) Camera (Eyes)
(0) Microphone (Ears)
(0) Speakers (Voice)
(2) High Fidelity Playback / Mimicry 11-
(0) Touchscreen (Touch)
g-5 Standard Software:
(2) Security Features / Immunity To Unauthorized Use; Frequency: Common.
(1) Voice Mode / English (Or language of choice) (Fluent Conversation); Literacy: Standard, 0.
(1) Office Software / Professional Skill: Secretary. 11-
(1) Media Library / Knowledge Skill Digital Media. 11-
(1) Games Library: Professional Skill / Entertainer. 11-
(1) Map Database / Knowledge Geography. 11-
(1) Virtual Object/Image/Map Generator / Professional Skill Artist. 11-
(0) For Translation, local maps, and databases, use the “Aid” to load an appropriate skill.
32 Advanced Artifact Smartphone (2/7/All Multipower functions for 4/5/6 points).
(4) Superior Battery / END Reserve (64 END, 4 REC/turn); Focus (Phone): Obvious Accessible, -1; Generic Limitation (Only for use by user; The phone cannot use this power): -¾; Usable By Others: Power Lost, +¼.
(16) Special Functions / Multipower (48-pt reserve); Focus (Phone): Obvious Accessible, -1; Generic Limitation (Only for use by user; The phone cannot use these powers): -¾; Usable By Others: Power Lost, +¼; Concentrate: 0 DCV, -½; Extra Time: full phase, -½
u-1 Security Override / Security Systems; Ranged: +½; Costs END (4 per use): -½ 21-
u-1 Systems Override / Systems Operation; Ranged: +½; Costs END (4 per use): -½. 21-
u-1 Air / Water Vehicle Controller / Combat Piloting; Ranged: +½; Costs END (4 per use): -½. 21-
u-1 Ground Vehicle Controller / Combat Driving; Ranged: +½; Costs END (4 per use): -½. 21-
u-1 Holoimager / Images versus Sight (Hearing, Sight, 2″ radius); Range: 215; Observer PER Penalty: 3, +9; Increased END: ×2, -½. 8
u-1 6d6 Regeneration Ray / Standard Healing; Ranged: +½. 5
u-1 Environmental Field / Life Support (total); Area Effect (One-hex): 1 hex(es), +½; Costs END (4 per phase): -½.
u-1 Shields / Force Field (10 PD/10 ED); Area Effect (Radius): 3″ radius, +1. 4
u-1 1d6 Reality Reprogramming / Transform (Major, Anything); Range: 205; Increased END: ×2, -½; Cumulative: +½. 8
u-1 Summon Pokemon (1 50-point creatures); Range: 0; Summon: Limited Group, +¼; Increased END: ×2, -½.

Training your Pokemon effectively is up to you.

 

12

u-1 Beam Me Up: Extra-Dimensional Movement to the Enterprise (or another specific locale); Dimensions: One, +0; Time Travel: None, +0; Mass Multiplier: ×4, +10; Carrying Mass: 200; Increased END: ×2, -½. 8
u-1 3d6 Disintegrator Beam/Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 280; Increased END: ×2. 12
32 Total Powers  

 

Prince Blueblood’s Aggravating Pony Overlord List Part VI – The Mendaciously Meandering Miasmic Morus Maze of Meticulously Mangled Mutinous Management Maxims

Previously on the Aggravating Pony Overlord Channel…

  1. If someone says “This isn’t a cartoon!” I will glance at myself and say “Really?” in a questioning tone. If they have been amusing enough so far I will add a horrified “OH NOOOOOOO!!!!” and teleport away, leaving only a slowly dissolving after-image of myself with an expression of horror on it’s face!
  2. If any of my kids fall in love, I will make sure that their crush is a reasonably decent sort and is not just using them! If that checks out, the pair (or group, it’s not like I don’t keep a harem!) will be supplied with plentiful travel funds, reservations wherever, contraceptives (if desired) and toys of choice (if any) and told to go for it! Sex is fun, grandchildren are great, and it’s not like I’M a model of decorum!
  3. If I am confronting an Eldritch Abomination I shall remember that I qualify as a Cute Eldritch Abomination myself, and there shall be tea and cookies! And possibly dancing! I haven’t done the Lord Of The Shoggoths Line Dance Show since the last Eldritch Elder Invasion!
  4. If dealing with Vampires, Werewolves, Mummies, or some similar potentially sensible horror-movie creature I will talk first! If forced, I will point out that – while they are good at terrorizing normal humans – I am at LEAST a cartoon superhero wizard and can put them in the core of the sun, toss them into a black hole, or banish them to some eldritch elder dimension if I have to!
  5. I shall train my own ninja, pirates, and ninja-pirates, starting with adorably fluffy kittens and puppies! That way when my ninja puppy trips an opponent out a window, cuddles will be entirely appropriate!
  6. I will disguise myself (perhaps with a mustache, hat, or glasses!) and join any team of heroes gathered to oppose me, proclaiming myself to be my heroic dimensional alternate, a counterbalancing mystic force, arcane rival, or some such! That will let me know what’s going on, help keep the heroes gainfully employed, and – if and when I successfully help overthrow myself – I will be starting off in the upper tier of the successor government and will doubtless be the only one with administrative skills, and so I shall continue my rule with a fresh start, new public support, friendly heroes, and without interruption!
  7. I will encourage my kids to be rebellious scamps who sneak out to go adventuring – but only after I have arranged for some reasonable form of immortality for them and a nigh-unbreakable magical link so that I can pull them out of messes! But I will mostly get the heroes to do it! They will never be able to resist rescuing a bunch of youngsters running away from an Evil Overlord if no one tells them that they’re trying to escape school and bedtime! Of course, if any of the kids turn out to be incompetent dimwits, I shall shunt them to suitable pointless positions! I am an Aggravating Overlord, I can be as nepotistic as I wish, and they’re still my kids!
  8. I shall not be a corrupt CEO or any other style of corrupt leader! I am a Wealthy, Immortal, Decadent, Pleasure-Seeking, Superheroic Unicorn Wizard! What will being corrupt get me that I can’t have already anyway? Smoother ice cream?
  9. Trampling my foes beneath my hooves will ruin my hooficure! Blood splatters look terrible on my coat! Screams of agony spoil the music! There will be none of that barbaric nonsense in my realm! If something along those lines is absolutely required for some reason there is always Vogon Poetry!
  10. If I am told that I am an alien, descendant of an eldritch power, heir to something, the prophesied one, part of some deal with the underworld, or anything similar, I will start laughing! I escaped from a cartoon into reality and created both myself and fifty generations of my family history from pure fanfiction and egotism, and I didn’t include any of THAT nonsense! (Except when I did! I am a Cartoon! Consistency is not one of my major attributes!)
  11. I will hit on female opponents with combat propositions! They’re already attacking me, so what have I got to lose? And it’s not like anyone can seriously attack someone who is currently reeling from a smack with a hammerspace mallet! It would be unsporting and would break the running gag!
  12. I will knock loudly – and repeatedly – and announce my presence before entering a sauna, bath, hot pool, or similar establishment . This will save me from getting unavoidably whacked with hammers and things until I’ve had time to actually make at least one indecent proposition!
  13. I will not go for the domineering, master of sex slaves routine, or any similar perverse cliche, unless some of the mares in the harem request them for a role-playing night! It’s not like I have any shortage of willing partners who want to try out quirks!
  14. Listen very carefully, I shall say ‘zis only once! Watching the heroes try to figure out just what you might be suggesting with an innuendo involving wet celery, egg whisks, and flying helmets is amusing enough that I shall use the mysterious perverse quirk routine! After all, it worked for Allo Allo!
  15. My allies do not all have to be ponies! Griffins and other monsters work fine too! There is much to be said for diversity and a combined lack-of-arms strategy!
  16. If I am having a flashback, I shall drag everyone else into it with me! I am immune to paradox, but I bet that most of the heroes are not!
  17. If the heroes attempt to send a comic relief character who always bumbles their way to victory against me, I shall allow the kids to join the ensuing pie fight and clown-off, with the victor being whoever can raise the most money for charity! Given that my funds are nigh limitless and that the power of heart will be on my side, my “victory” is inevitable – and the comic relief can return to the heroes and announce that he or she was defeated, but the battle nevertheless raised a great deal of money for orphaned children!
  18. Fanboys and Fangirls will be offered harem jobs if they’re qualified and cute enough! If they are not they will be sent to places so distant that no one there has ever heard of me to spread the word (whatever they think THAT to be). Hero-worshiping playthings can be a lot of fun and it’s not like they’re ever going to be anything but a hindrance in any other role!
  19. If I am (somehow!) actually being overthrown and cannot escape, I will act like a petulant five year old and embarrass the heroes as much as possible! If I can manage to convince them that I have been a disposable figurehead all along, so much the better. To this end, there will be some sinister figure lurking nearby, to attack (machine gun, grenades, whatever) and injure (but certainly not kill) both some heroes AND myself, shout something unintelligible about “DOOM!”, and then make a cackling escape of its own. Given that this will be a well-shielded summoning protected from divination, and will vanish as soon as it’s out of sight, they will never catch it!
  20. If I ever feel the need to wear a mask, it will be a classic domino affair, suitable for parties or Zorro! It will be conceal my identity just as well as some elaborate demonic mask of power (Unicorn, remember?), is far less likely to attract swords of bullets, and is far, FAR, more stylish! And, as a bonus, you can nuzzle other ponies just fine while wearing it!
  21. The only acceptable reason for approaching the Moral Event Horizon is to cast “Reverse Gravity” on the ethical singularity, and ascend past wherever the heroes stand on the good-guy scale on the resulting cosmic eruption of virtue, thus leaving them with no reason to object to my sudden transcendence!
  22. If someone actually manages to badly hurt me, I shall do a dramatic death scene and dissolve into little sparkling lights. I regenerate quickly – even if killed – ANYWAY and I do need to use SOME special effect for my teleportation and dimension hopping! Who says that it CAN’T it be “leaving everyone with the impression of a dramatic death scene”?
  23. I am not limited by logistics, rationality, or sanity, and I shall not assume that the heroes are either! Numbers mean nothing! Of course, if I am up against a reasonable hero, there is something to be said for targeting his ammunition dumps, food stores, fuel reserves, and other supplies. Reasonable heroes seem to think that they need that kind of stuff!
  24. Family time takes priority over nefarious plotting! When I am busy attending a wedding, birthday, anniversary, or any other events important to wives, concubines, or children, the heroes can just come back tomorrow! After all, if they try anything at that point, they will be on the wrong side of so many tropes that I probably will not have to lift a hoof! Which is good, because one is occupied with a mare and the other with my drink!
  25. If a popular and known-to-be-fictional hero appears to stop me, I shall play along with their cliches rather than getting into an existential debate! After all, I’M fictional and I managed to sneak into reality, so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have managed it too!
  26. Non one ever defeats an Overlord until he or she has used every weapon in his or her arsenal! So I will have a wide variety of powers (and every possible flavor of pie) and will keep adding more – including some that I can swap out! That way any heroes will have to work their way through an infinite list before they can defeat me!
  27. I will not attempt to “steal” Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Hannukkah, Memorial Day, Boxing Day, Independence Day, or any other popular holiday! Instead I shall invite their avatars over for tea and become well-known for my generous support of such festivities! For no attack launched on someone celebrating a holiday is ever successful and that will both give me a day off and provide a reasonable chance of watching the heroes battle Santa or the Easter Bunny! The home movies will keep me laughing for YEARS!
  28. Super-Soldiers, Proud-Warrior-Race-Guys, and Villainous Henchmen only become effective AFTER they turn on their Creators, Manipulators, or Masters! Therefore I shall only recruit them on the rebound from whoever was trying to use them! Then they can teach the kids!
  29. I shall study the Greats! Overlords like Aku, Bavmorda, Ahab, Hook, Jareth, Megamind, Zod, Kurgan, Kahn, and Ming! They REALLY knew how to ham it up and chew the scenery – and I am quite possibly MADE OF HAM and I EAT scenery!
  30. If a serious villain turns up to spread evil and misery, or kidnaps one of my kids, or otherwise interrupts my aggravating overlordship, I shall join forces with the heroes right away! After all, I am protected from heroism by the power of the farce – and can give the heroes a nice fruit basket! But when it comes to defeating serious villains, that’s what heroes do!
  31. I will keep the air conditioner running, levels of alcohol in my system that would be lethal for any normal creature, and enjoy my ability to always stay nice and clean and my cartoon immunity to disease! Whatever it is that causes Villain Decay, I’m not catching it!
  32. If the heroes are the offspring of my lieutenants, I shall ensure that they get safe visitation days and college funds and give their younger siblings part-time jobs as pages in my household so that they can throw water balloons at their older siblings whenever they get too serious. Nothing spoils a heroic narrative like a six-year-old sibling with a water balloon!
  33. If someone leaves a giant statue of me or any other creature outside my gates I will call up some builders and landscapers and turn it into the centerpiece of a carnival honoring myself! If someone is hiding inside, I will ensure that the exit is stuck until the evening rush and that all nearby restrooms are coin operated!
  34. If a God or Goddess is intervening to assist my opponents I will adjourn to the realms of the gods to find out what their problem is! I don’t stick my nose into THEIR portfolios, and even if I’m not a member of THEIR pantheon, I expect a similar level of respect when I’m being aggravating! Which is in itself aggravating! RECURSION FOR THE WIN!
  35. All the enhancement potions, super-soldier serums, and similar boosting effects that I give to my minions will be short-term only. Anyone who wants something permanent will have to buy it in the gift shop or volunteer to get experimented on! After all, such things ALWAYS exact a price proportionate to the power that they provide, and better it be “powered up for a few hours before taking a day off to sleep” than “go permanently insane with permanent super powers” unless that’s really what they want!
  36. Traveling performers and such can book the music hall down the block! If they want to perform for ME they can get accredited, build up a reputation and a repertoire, submit an application and a proposal, and go through a security check just like everyone else! Or they can get a recommendation from Leisure Suit Larry! Whichever!.
  37. If some mystic balance must be maintained, I will have a mechanic check it over and then set it spinning! Gyroscopes are a lot more stable! And it can’t be me upsetting it anyway! There are PLENTY of things out there that AREN’T aggravating to balance out me!
  38. If I am having a tantrum, my minions will be fully authorized to hit ME with a pie, and will have orders to do so! Tantrums aren’t really much fun anyway and pie fights make an excellent countermeasure!
  39. I will abuse time travel to train with the great masters! Not only are the arts a nice hobby but it will let me buy a lot of otherwise unknown original works at discount prices to decorate my residence with! Go ahead, blow the place up, destroy priceless pieces of history! At least until I abuse time travel some more to get them back!
  40. If confronted with a sealed cosmic power in a can, an omnipotent artifact of doom, or any similar macguffin I will add a minor fascination charm and a cigarette-lighter charm to it and use it to get free drinks and break the ice with women! The accumulated sleaze will soon drain all narrative importance from it and give me plenty of time to find out if the obvious booby trap is actually somehow useful!
  41. My citizens shall be well-educated, so that any would-be rebels will be able to realize that the odds are against them and that they have hundreds of other options! That way they can bog down endlessly in debates, discussions, and petitions!
  42. If I am engaged in a war, SOMEONE is losing their job! All conflicts come down to a tiny band of heroic adventurers against me anyway, so wars are pointless, messy, and wasteful! Why not just skip to the main event and let the taxpayers (and those cute new girls in my harem) get on with their jobs!
  43. If some terrible entity demands a sacrificial victim that has some special quality, I shall find a more reasonable entity that is willing to take a retainer and work for cash or just for the LOL’s! It’s a big multiverse and there is no need to work with obnoxious, demanding, occult entities when there are plenty of more reasonable ones out there!
  44. There is nothing like existential confusion to aggravate people! I shall leave both my subjects and the heroes opposing me hopelessly confused at every opportunity; and preferably unsure as to whether I am good or evil or just crazy! Consistency is for Overlords who aren’t cartoons!
  45. I will ensure that all heroes have evil (and grandstanding, if not especially effective) twins and vice versa! It will help keep things interesting if no one knows who is who!
  46. I will have an Evil Grand Vizier, of the sort who will advise everyone that he or she is a treacherous master of exotic poisons, twirl his villainous mustache or peer through her villainous spectacles at them, and then offer everyone tea and cookies that he or she had especially made!
  47. When some terrible quest needs to be accomplished, I shall send off the youngest kid who’s successfully completed an immortality ritual and a linking effect! Those things are most fun when you’re young and it’s always the youngest one who goes who succeeds anyway! I shall also give them a cat! Those always help!
  48. I will invite a selection of witches, fairy godmothers, mysterious gypsies, and similar occult types to my kids parties! Some suitably modified curses and blessings make a fine basis for pretty much any fantastic fantasy career!
  49. If any gods or goddesses want me to judge something, or decide who is best at something, or otherwise settle something, I shall remain utterly flippant! If they wanted a serious opinion on something they wouldn’t have come to ME!
  50. There shall be monster preserves with a limited number of no-kill monster fighting permits available for heroes to practice their skills! You never know when you’re going to need either a hero or a monster or a pair of them who have had a recent bonding experience!

And hopefully the various time-sinks that have kept me from writing for the past month have been dealt with…

Prince Bluebloods Aggravating Pony Overlord List Part V – The Palatial Personal Parlor Of Perilously Prepared Pretentious Proverbs

Previously on the Aggravating Overlord Channel…

And today it’s more Pony Overlord rules, for those times that you just want to be irritating…

  1. All of my guest quarters shall actually be miles away and linked to my fortress by an authorized-use-only teleportation doorway with guard-operators standing by all night! Servants, kitchens, air conditioning vents, and so on will be purely local, so anyone who wants to get out and sneak around can stealthily explore the wrong place entirely!
  2. Members of my legions will get free training and tuition as well as substantial pay raises for increasing their qualifications! Adding things like “Lay Therapist”, “Hostage Negotiator”, or “Plumber” will be strongly encouraged! I want the general public to assume that my guards are omni-competent and can be turned to to resolve any problem and I want heroes to have to deal with guards who will be attempting psychotherapy and non-violent conflict resolution between pies!
  3. Everybody thinks that plans calling for intervention from magic unicorns are impractical, but I shall show them that they are wrong!
  4. Occasionally I will dig out and erect a massive crypt-dungeon, filled with formidable defenses, clever traps, and terrible monsters, then ceremoniously hide a locked and warded chest in the central crypt, offering no public explanation! The chest will hold a supply of glasses and good liquor, a high-quality first aid kit, a random bonus prize, and personally signed certificates of graduation from the Blueblood Academy for Adventurers. I will then offer to hire graduates if I ever need an artifact or something retrieved from an ancient temple of doom, liche’s crypt, or similar location.
  5. My employees will have decent tailoring, good grooming, elocution lessons, regular visits to the spa, and decent hygiene! If they want to act like uncouth barbarians, I shall open a gate to Valhalla and see if Odin would like to run an exchange program for some bored Einherjar who would like to try a modern deathstyle for a bit and train with modern weapons and pies!
  6. I will instruct my fashion designer that – when designing for a pony – it is accessories, not outfits! After all, it’s not like any conceivable outfit could possibly be much of an improvement on ME!
  7. My guards will be perfectly capable of functioning in the dark! Between night-sight gear, spells, training, and blindfolded combat practice it shouldn’t be any problem at all and it will give the visually handicapped a chance to shine!
  8. My stronghold shall be overstaffed, for many hands makes for light work! Outsiders who show up claiming to be there to do maintenance, make repairs, or install special equipment will be directed to appropriate properties around the city that are in need of work! I have lots! Their activities will then be reviewed and rated online! They had best hope that they are actually good at repairs!
  9. When my employees park their vehicles to do something on foot, they will do it in full confidence that attempting to bypass said vehicles biometric security locks will lead to being dosed with knockout gas, entangled with mystic chains, or whatever other random security feature the weekly security competition has put in this week.
  10. I will not add unsuitable females to my harem! One night stands are one thing, but who needs troublemakers in the family?
  11. If my chief engineer upsets me (or gets too frustrated with me using magic to do things) I shall reassign him to the Kerbal Space Program! It’s not like I have a lot of real engineering to be done anyway; I am a magic unicorn pony!
  12. I shall not fill the corridors with traps! I have kids, servants, and hundreds of minions, many of whom will doubtless be injured for every hero who is mildly inconvenienced! Instead there will be occasional clearly labeled dead-end side-corridors leading to nonlethal containment traps that the heroes can assume are protecting something important and meddle with to their hearts content!
  13. If the Girl Scouts are delivering my Thin Mints, a servant will meet them at the door with the required forklift and take them around to the kitchen. They will then be offered tickets to an amusement park, but NOT a tour of my stronghold unless it’s “bring your child to work” day and they happen to be some employees offspring.
  14. When I install “Spiked Deadfalls”, “Scorpion Pits”, “Shark Tanks”, “Piranha Pools”, or any similar “death trap” or “execution” device, they shall actually be illusions over teleportation portals that will drop those who pass through randomly into the homes of energetic old ladies armed with broomsticks, cantankerous old men with shotguns loaded with salt, highly skilled female martial artists who happen to be in the shower, or in front of a monstrous family watching TV who can be counted on to scream “A HUMAN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES KIDS, I’LL HOLD IT OFF! CALL THE POLICE!”.
  15. When the heroes inevitably toss ME into one of those “death traps” I shall let my natural background music swell and announce that I have come to grant whoever is there a wish – and presuming that it is at all reasonable, I shall not be a Jackass or even a Literal Genie about it. As a side benefit, when I’m teleporting or dimension hopping, I’m more likely to get a friendly reaction to my abrupt appearance!
  16. While I shall invariably taunt my enemies as I escape, the fact that I usually do so by teleporting or dimension-hopping (at least when no water slide is available) means that such taunts must be prerecorded! They will be delivered by automated Taunt-O-Matic (TM!) systems. Being an Aggravating Overlord calls for the occasional sacrifice!
  17. I will not send out droid, undead, or golem armies against heroes who are reluctant to kill living beings but have no qualms about destroying constructs. Instead I shall place kittens and puppies in need of difficult and lengthy rescue efforts in their way and save the army of constructs for things like dam-building, mining, and other tedious large-scale projects where they might actually accomplish something useful.
  18. I shall not be typecast! My every outfit and hairstyle will be a bold fashion statement and always different! It’s not like they won’t be able to identify me anyway! How many other Aggravating Unicorn Pony Overlords have YOU seen?
  19. My doomsday devices shall have digital timers that reset to various random numbers every few seconds after they are tampered with! When they happen to hit zero there will be a blinding moment of flash photography and the resulting picture will be published with the headline “Blundering “Heroes” Accidentally Trigger “Doomsday Device”. Child’s Birthday Cake Ruined” since any such “Doomsday Device” is actually going to be an elaborate baking oven.
  20. If my guards are defeated in battle, I will route my attackers through several video-game worlds instead! Perhaps they can show me how to get past “Waterfall”, “Animal Antics”, “Ninja Gaiden”, “Dr Wiley’s Castle”, “Aztec”, “The Perfect Run”, “Through the Fire and Flames”, “The Water Temple”, “The Dam”, and :”Turbo Tunnel”!
  21. If I have something the heroes vitally need, and one of them or their hangers-on suddenly offers to warm my bed (and I find them sufficiently appealing), I shall take full advantage of the situation while ensuring that the actual item is in a safety-deposit box in a random bank while I am only carrying a copy! If they’re going to be underhanded, I shall be underhanded too – and I will still get something for my trouble!
  22. I will not triumphantly grab and try to use some ancient mystic/psionic/alien/lost science artifact! Those things never work right until they’ve been analyzed, properly attuned by being “paid for” in some fashion, and put into your inventory! Besides, I wouldn’t be an Overlord if I didn’t have plenty of power and artifacts already!
  23. I will be very selective in my hiring of character assassins! Entirely too many columnists, comedy hosts, and writers will happily turn on you at a moments notice or do hackwork that is all too easily revealed as a hired hit piece!
  24. I shall not conceal my weaknesses! Fine wines, pretty mares, good food, great personal accessories, and more do attract me, while dirt, damage to my hair, incompetent minions, poor hygiene, and noxious odors all repel me! I am, however, neither stupid nor incapable of self-control! I can and will ignore such things when something important is going on!
  25. Any important facilities, storage areas, escape pods, and similar necessities will be found INSIDE my defenses! Leaving important stuff unprotected is asking for it and I do that enough anyway!
  26. I reserve the right to fire minons who are excessively irritating know-it-alls who say “I told you so!” too much! It’s not like ANY plan is likely to hold up when a bunch of crazy heroes comes through anyway, so they’re not exactly making a useful contribution there!
  27. When my mechanisms, spells, rituals, and mad science devices fail, they will do so in great bursts of colored light and loud bangs with symphonic accompaniment! Everypony loves a good fireworks display!
  28. I will employ stone, metal, modern safety techniques, and warding spells to make sure that my stronghold is proof against fire, flood, storms, natural disasters, and various other hazards while requiring minimal maintenance! Cheap construction always costs you more in the long run!
  29. I shall hire some competent people to run my intelligence, census, and similar services! There is no use trying to give orders to make things sillier if you do not know what is going on!
  30. If a hero feels a need to speak to me in person, there is always videoconferencing! Otherwise he or she can await one of my general audience days, just like everybody else! And bring a fruit basket!
  31. I will have many projects going on at once! This is what Delegation and Subdivisions are for! If some heroes disrupt one project, well, there shall be a dozen more that actually get finished!
  32. Drugs, rituals, artifacts, and pacts offering immortality will be carefully examined for difficulty and drawbacks and filed accordingly! While I have Immortality ANYWAY, the kids don’t always inherit it and I can only bestow it up until they move out! If any of them want to put up with whatever drawbacks a given method has (there are always SOME) I will gladly help them get it set up!
  33. Any classical monsters working for me will be provided with new riddles, weaknesses, or vulnerable points! There is no point in having a guardian or enforcer that can be defeated by any kid with access to Google!
  34. Just in case there is a background music failure, I will have a backup background music system installed, complete with an AI to pick something appropriate. What is a good scene without background music?
  35. I will keep my priorities in order! Dramatic Escapes (Family first, and with less drama), Cool Scenes, Being Annoying, Bad Puns, Expanding My Harem, Teaching Moments, Coming Up With Evil Explanations for Nice Deeds, Chocolate Desserts, Ruling Effectively, and Finding More Heroes to Amuse Me, in that order!
  36. If a Hero or (especially!) Heroine starts a transformation sequence, I will wait until it is halfway through to interrupt and point out that they are now naked. If necessary, I will use my powers of transmutation on their clothing to ensure that this is so – and to make sure that it remains true. There’s nothing like a bunch of naked heroes doing a Benny Hill chase scene!
  37. My word is my bond! My Safeword, on the other hand, is Power Word Escape!
  38. Collecting Dread Artifacts of Great Power is always fun until you try to use them for something important, at which point they invariably backfire! I will use them only for trivia, and when a hero steals one because “He does not know what he has his hooves on!” I shall laugh uproariously when it blows up in his or her face! Besides… Aggravating Overlord Vastly Wealthy Influential Magic Cartoon Unicorn Wizard here, remember? It’s not like dread artifacts are going to do much that I can’t find a way to do anyway!
  39. I will make sure that any invisibility devices that I either use or leave around to be stolen will stop working at dramatic moments! What good is a dramatic moment with no audience?
  40. Any robots will have concealed power systems, well inside. The vulnerable external power pack will be a popcorn grenade trap (because a hero who tries this obviously needs more grains!) Set to go off when somebody grabs it!
  41. Zombie, Ghoul, Vampire, Wraith and other undead armies are GROSS. Also useless and prone to going out of control. The necromancer down the block can HAVE them. A squad of scantily dressed lovely cat girls and/or handsome and virile horse boys looking for someone to protect and rescue them from me is FAR more effective at delaying heroes – and lets me get rid of them. Where do the blasted things keep coming from anyway?
  42. I shall not be cheap. What use is being incredibly wealthy if you do not spend your money? Hordes are for dragons, and look how much good they do THEM.
  43. Any idea that crosses my mind will get serious consideration! After all, how can I be stopped if even I do not know what I am up to at any given moment?
  44. If cornered I will break out the emergency eyepatch, pirate shirt, and ninja-to. Then I shall be invincible! Or in a mental hospital. If it works for the Joker, it will work for me!
  45. I shall have small, cute, furry things with big eyes handle my personal security! Even if the heroes should somehow work up a desire to attack, the law of cartoon cute will stop them.
  46. If I must resort to generic villainy, I shall go to a discount club and invest in an entire pallet of the large economy size. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to run out of villainy?
  47. Any offerings of cringing slaves, frightened children, or beautiful young virgin women will be accepted, sorted out by the staff, given meals and appropriate treatment, and either sent home or – if they actually want a job – given the usual security checks and evaluation. (See Legions Of Cuddly, Harem, and Staff). Adults who show up four or more times will be referred to social services! Children who prove to have been around this four or more times will be given a swat on the rear, a good scolding, and a note sent to their parents or social workers! If they have neither they will be assigned some social workers! I am not a babysitting service most of the time!
  48. If I feel a need to demonstrate my utter decadence, ruthless domination, or extreme edginess I will hire in some people to play the necessary roles! The look on the heroes faces when some of the heads “mounted on the wall” ask them how they’re doing is priceless!
  49. Whenever a policeman comes to arrest me, or solo hero tries to capture me, or I am somehow trapped in the company of someone utterly unlike me, I shall consider how amusing they seem likely to be and then either 1) Teleport, or 2) Use my “change genre” power to make it a “Buddy Picture” just in case it wasn’t already.
  50. If the heroes attempt to break or reform me by listing off all my flaws, errors, failures, and bad habits I shall listen closely! They will almost certainly remind me of several fun things that I need to do again!

Anomaly – Things Of Interest Around Vitromasse

And for today’s bonus post, since the players voted for Avrinthos, here are some of the things going on in the area.

  • The Star Treaders. Vitromasse isn’t a major stop for the Star Treaders – unusually for them, most of their usual stock-in-trade is actually less variegated and exotic than what is available locally and nobody really wants their “technology” – but supplies of air and water are basically free, the Gathri may not be all that friendly but they’re willing to sell plenty of food cheaply, and the local Suugken holdings will sell them the occasional outright quasi-miracle. Even along their routes, that’s a rarity. Few of the accessible worlds in their realm have developed the local psychic and material technologies to such a degree. They still stop by every month or two, and are often looking for something they have heard is available on the anomaly – somewhere.
  • The Formless Horrors. Thanks to the Tindalos birthright, it’s all too common in Avrinthos for someone to call up something that he, she, ze, or it, cannot put down. Despite the efforts of the Gaunthounds, it’s not uncommon for something to be missed – and so there will have to be hunts to put down the latest formless-tentacled-horror that’s melting people’s flesh / sucking the blood from people so they rise as some sort of mummy / whispering horrific occult secrets into people’s minds and driving them mad. There are probably two or three aroud the place at the moment.
  • Elkdunar. This village was relatively nearby, (about fifteen miles, along the twisting routes in the mountains about three days travel), but has apparently been destroyed by giant monsters. The current popular rumor is that the Jagurhund Ramperdr forged himself a Masque Of Wrath and wiped the place out. The more sober people are hoping that it’s something else; someone who’d forge a Masque Of Wrath is unlikely to stop at wiping out one village, The locals are currently debating whether or not to send a group to investigate.
  • Sturmkanal (so named due to the regular lightning strikes on it): Perched atop a nearby mountain, this massive (metal?) citadel apparently dates back to a previous cycle. Why it’s still working is an open question, but the usual answer was that it was somehow brought to life millennia past, and so has it’s own Birthright – so it and everything in it’s interior will continue to operate under that Birthrights rules as long as the castle survives. The castle itself is noted for it’s many traps and monsters, it’s digital clocktower, and it’s incredible garishness – but adventurers who go poking about it in all too often come to a bad end. As a rule, however, Sturmkanal keeps to itself; if you don’t go and bang on the walls or go into the place, it’s not a problem.
  • Rilantha. The passes to the south, of course, lead into Rilantha – a realm noted for it’s colossal beasts and savage tribes. Occasional hunting expeditions (Usually Ri’on Huntsmen brought in by the Star Treaders) use Vitromasse as a jumping-off point, and there is always a market for multi-ton logs of ivory, incredibly tough behemoth hide, and similar products of giant beasts. Just as importantly, the local tribes may be a bit barbaric, but they’re generally up for some trading if someone brings along enough firepower to survive the trip.
  • The Olistor River: The riverboat that moves up and down the navigable section of the Olistor (The Tenshi) connects at least fifteen communities (argument continues on how to count logging camps and similar outposts) and is basically a small community in its own right. Rumors, of course, note the presence of water monsters, a mysterious cavern that leads elsewhere, some sort of tree-guardians attacking a logging camp, and the appearance of a Skinwalker that gunned down a gambling group and made off with the pot.
  • Vitromasse General Area: There’s been a good deal of trouble recently with things that come out of the ground – strange, partially-metallic beings riding huge spiders -but they rarely leave a lot of survivors (another reason why the locals been investing in more Guanthounds recently).
  • Vitromasse: A couple of young-adult Suugken are about ready to move out – and their mother (Intimoda, Time/Space Affinity, Exotic Technological Birthright) would rather like someone to keep an eye on them to improve their odds of survival. Unfortunately, while she one of the more formidable defenders of Vitromasse, and can build technical gear beyond most of the other locals skills, it simply wouldn’t be RIGHT to interfere with the kids Hegira directly.
  • Vitromasse: For those with ethics, the fact that most of the Guanthounds are the enslaved results of burning out much of a victim’s mind and involuntarily transforming them may be troubling. Whether or not much can be done about it is an awkward question.
  • Avrinthos: A number of youngsters are showing unfamiliar Birthrights; It is obvious that a Time Of Change began some years ago, and will not be causing increasing disruptions.
  • Far North: There are some tales that the Uruk, piloting a force of massive war machines that work like creatures, are making conquests up that way – but even with the various ways of speeding up travel available in Avrinthos, that area is some thousands of miles away. By the time such news makes it to Vitromasse any details in the stories are at least as likely to have been added along the way as to have been transmitted accurately.

Observations from Space (These are available to several characters):

  • Avrinthos: Most of the other villages that have been spotted on the surveys have at least one (and often more than one) odd phenomena near them – weird pyramids radiating strange energies, odd patches of forest, pools or “roads” of light, paths that go nowhere, and so on. Most such seem to either be considered local resources or are exploiting some other local resource themselves.
  • The surrounding realms:
    • There is crude AM traffic to the (quite arbitrary) north and more distant north east – mostly unencrypted AM. Fortunately, most of the major sources are broadcasting with far more power than a modern station requires, making much of the traffic relatively easy to intercept. For good or ill, however… much of it appears to be military. There seem to be various more-or-less local conflicts going on across Malador, Haldon, Orrort, Ustcheon, and Nichtfel along with a few large constructs moving about. Still, given the size of the realms… there are probably a fair number of peaceful areas as well. Much of the area seems to have a basic Railway Network that extends across several realms.
    • There’s also a lot of much more modern, throughly encrypted, traffic from the Crystalreaches, where something seems obsessed with constructing pylons. There is similar traffic – and some pretty odd energy readings – around Stardock. Given that the peak there seems to extend above the Anomalies atmosphere, and possibly actually extends into the Star Wars universe proper, there is some discussion of putting down a small ship simply to see if it can take off again.
    • Directly to the east, in Nilandar, there seem to be forests and islands cloaked in perpetual darkness. No one is quite sure how that works, but they aren’t quite sure how other places get sunlight anyway. Perhaps they are drawing it from other universes?
    • To the Northeast (in Leros) there appears to be large-scale irrigation, agriculture with at least some mechanized harvesting, and a fairly prosperous semi-industrial civilization – although, oddly enough, there is no radio traffic.

Things of Specific Interest:

  • The locals feel that if you want something REALLY large moved (such as Vanatica’s shuttle), the best thing to do is to call in some heavy haulers from Rilantha. It’s mildly expensive, but they can drag a LOT of stuff about. For faster travel, you’ll want someone with the right Birthright unless there are only a few of you and you can talk Intimoda into teleporting you.

The Anomaly: Vitromasse Village and it’s peoples – the Gathri, Suugken, and Gaunthounds.

Vitromasse is a hamlet in Avrinthos, located approximately sixty to a hundred miles from the “southern” edge of the realm and perhaps six hundred miles from the lower “western” vertex (the red “X” on the PDF map). The passes to the south thus lead down into the forests/jungles and rolling plains of Rilantha and the rugged Ricible Desert lies to the distant west. Here, the mountainside is interrupted by two layers of extremely hard and durable stone, with softer material eroded away from between and above them – providing an overhanging cliff and a relatively flat and durable foundation extending out to another cliffside below that. To the east a the massive Olistor Gorge cuts through the stone, dropping several hundred feet to the Olistor River – a surprising chunk of which is navigable. Nearby the forested slopes support a variety of tree-crops, predominantly Northern (they only grow on north-facing slopes for some reason) Hestor Nuts. Hestor Nuts are reasonably tasty, if more carbohydrate heavy than oily, and the abundant trees produce a massive yearly crop – a major source of food for Vitromasse’s people, their livestock, and much of the local wildlife. Other local “natural” resources include an Ironwood grove, Firesap Vines, Bronzefruit Lyfaygor trees, and excellent stone. Less “natural” resources include a Star Treader Lightpool from which Iounian Trade-Caravans emerge to resupply and exchange goods several times a year, being an occasional stop for travelers on the Olistor, trade-links with some of the Rilancian Tribes to the south, and having a reasonably good road route through the local mountains based on the same strata of stone that forms the foundation of Vitromasse.

While this would be more than enough to support a sizeable town in many of the Anomalies other realms, the numerous – and utterly unpredictable – hazards of Avrinthos tend to keep most settlements relatively small.

Central Vitromasse is nestled against the north-facing cliffside, and often under the overhang, but the farms and the secondary center around the Lightpool are further scattered – in both cases to the east, where the Olistor Gorge offers additional protection from wandering horrors. It is primarily inhabited by Gathri, Suugken, and (Transformed) Gaunthound Guard-Slaves, with a scattering of Oleri (small avian folk, generally not too clever and not tool users – which makes them poor player characters) and occasional other types.

Gathri (31 CP / +0 ECL):

Gathri are humanoids, but are somewhat shorter, more lightly built, and more agile than baseline humans, tend towards more angular, “fey”, features, and usually have swarthy green, light blue, violet, or blue-white colorations. They prefer well-constructed (and often fortified) hamlets and villages in cool climates and forested terrain and are extremely clannish, often having little use for (and a great deal of suspicion directed at) outsiders. Sadly, while they do tend towards large families, children are a group effort – and those who are disruptive, excessively questioning, don’t fit into the clan well, or are simply redundant. are commonly traded to other clans, sold as slaves, or otherwise used for the benefit of the clan as their differences cause them to be instinctively classified as “outsiders”. They tend towards worshiping ancestor and local spirits, extending their clannish tendencies to their deities. Adventurous Gathri are rare; most of what few do leave their communities behind for a time are usually simply attempting to deal with some threat to it, and will return to settle back in after that task. True wanderers tend to be regarded as renegades and madmen, and are often regarded with even more suspicion than members of other species.

  • As medium-sized humanoids, their baseline movement, attributes, equipment, and similar qualities are quite typical.
  • Attribute Shift: +2 Dex, -2 Str (6 CP).
  • Adept: May buy Craft, Perception, Profession, and Perform at half cost (6 CP).
  • Racial Skill Bonuses: +4 to any one Adept Skill, speak their Clan Dialect (3 CP).
  • Four levels of the Wilder Progression (Charisma Based), Specialized and Corrupted / provides no actual psionic powers, Power can only be spent to use Hedge Magic Disciplines, not for other purposes (8 CP), This gives them an effective Caster Level of Four and (17 + 2 x Cha Mod) Power.
  • Hedge “Magic”, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / does not include the ability to make Conjures (4 CP). As psionic disciplines it costs 1/2 a point of Power to use a “level zero” effect, one for a “level one effect”, and three for a “level two” effect.
  • Innate Enchantment, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only for practical, utilitarian, effects, only 2500 GP total value, requires external foci items to function (2 CP). While the “items” available are fixed early on (generally focusing on the user’s choice of Adept skills), a Gathri will have various bits of practical (psionic) “magic” about – primarily drawing on the lists of Conjures under Hedge Magic and the Industrial Wights and Magic series. Enhanced tools, perpetual water fountains, high-speed looms, and ways to easily accomplish laborious tasks are their stock in trade. Questions like “who inherits the shop?” among them start off with narrowing things down to “the ones with appropriate attunements to use the facilities” – whether or not that happens to be one of the original owners kids. It is not uncommon for some esoteric shop to be simply left open – if a youngster with the ability to use it is born, or marries into the clan, it becomes theirs by default.
  • Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Major, Trivial, 2 CP). Their psionic abilities tend to keep the Gathri vigorous and healthy. While they don’t actually live more than 20=25% longer than a normal human on the average, they do age very well, remaining healthy and vigorous well into their old age.

Gathri are rarely one of a regions great powers – they do not organize well beyond the local level of a few reasonably friendly clans – but they are exceptionally industrious and productive, usually have a great deal of leisure time and strong storytelling, theatrical, and musical traditions, and can defend themselves competently enough. They can be found occupying comfortable enclaves in a considerable number of the Anomalies realms.

Suugken (31 CP / +0 ECL):

Suugken are a quasi-reptilian species of “Lizard Men” that are born strongly attuned to one or another elemental force – with a fairly broad definition of what an “elemental force” is. Fire, Earth, Air, and Water are common, yes – but Suugken attuned to Time and Space, or Gravity, or any of many other forces have been encountered. Their glowing eyes may offer a clue as to what force they are attuned to, but the pattern is not entirely reliable. Overall, the fact that their flesh is partially made up of elemental energy neatly counteracts their tendency to consume metals and deposit them in their teeth, scales, and claws – becoming fairly well armored while retaining an overall neutral buoyancy in water. Their color patterns vary, but tend to be strongly influenced by the metallic portion of their diet. By human standards they tend to be tall and well-built – which is often somewhat on display, since their armor-plated metallic scales protects them well enough that only temperature extremes call for protective clothing.

Suugken are egg-layers, but have some difficulty producing offspring – a possible consequence of elemental mismatches between the mother and the embryonic offspring. Youngsters are treasured, and carefully protected, but adolescence is usually a period of wandering, during which young adults seek out other groups of Suugken, usually settling in one in need of someone with their particular elemental focus. They usually settle in jobs that exploit their considerable elemental prowess. For example, an expert with Fire may be a smith or potter, a warmage, specialize in catalytic effects, or a steam engineer.

Elder Suugken reportedly occasionally begin to increase in size, develop a greatly extended lifespan, and learn to adjust the elemental content of their flesh, developing the ability to adjust their average density enough to “swim” in the air – but this appears to be a very rare occurrence; the vast majority of them age and pass on normally. Most Suugken claim that on upon their physical deaths they merge with the force to which they are attuned, but any such “religion” is informal and entirely personal.

  • As medium-sized humanoids, their baseline movement, attributes, equipment, and similar qualities are quite typical.
  • Energy Infusion (6 CP). Suugken are born with a random Energy Infusion. While this is most commonly Elemental. Alignment and Planar infusions are reasonably common, the Forces show up occasionally, and there have even been extremely rare reports of Cosmological infusions.
  • Adept, Specialized for Double Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for two skills – Wisdom-Based Rune Mastery and Rune Casting for their Energy Infusion Type, does not apply past their racial skill bonus (4 CP).
  • +3 SP (Effectively a +12 bonus) for each of their Adept skills, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only becomes available gradually; Infants get no bonuses, Children get +4, Youths get +8, and Adults get the full +12 (4 CP).
  • 3d6 Mana, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for Rune Magic, only for their specific Energy Infusion field (6 CP),
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to recover Mana for the Rune Magic field above, requires at least one hours rest per die (4 CP),
  • Innate Enchantment: Specialized for Increased Effect (abilities are considered extraordinary, not magical) / all abilities are blatant permanent physical changes. All Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, x.7 Personal-Only where relevant (6 CP).
    • Aspect Of The Lizard (Swim 30′, +3 Natural Armor, d8 Fangs and Claws, +4 on Stealth, 1400 GP).
    • +2 Constitution (1400 GP).
    • Produce Flame with +0 Metamagical Adjustment: Energy Type matches the user’s Energy Infusion (2000 GP).
    • Cure Light Wounds, 2/Day (heals self for 1d8+1 damage, 560 GP).
  • Speaks Draconic (1 CP).

Gaunthounds (36 or Zero Point Acquired Template):

Gaunthounds are people – most often slaves – who have been subjected to the Nightmare Binding ritual. Slaves are usually also subjected to curses of obedience, domestication, and subordination through the Dreambinding Ritual – although there are occasional volunteers who skip that part. Sadly, while the Nightmare Binding can provide a good deal of power, nothing is free: the new powers are paid for by reducing the victims mental attribute. Attributes of 12+ yield 6 CP per point given up, those of 10-11 yield 6 CP for being reduced by two, and those of 7-9 can be reduced by three to gain 6 CP. Attributes already at six or below cannot be further reduced to any profit, although one that was at seven can be reduced to four.

An average person – with 10’s and 11′ for mental attributes – can thus gain 36 CP by reducing their mental attributes by five each. This is not generally a good deal, which is why it’s usually only inflicted on slaves. The basic Guanthound Package costs 36 CP and includes:

  • Durability Of Nightmares: Grant Of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP). With their bodies bound to the energies of a dream-hunting monster, Gaunthounds can endure a great deal of damage with no lasting consequences.
  • Bestial Form: Shapeshift, with the Dire, Hybrid, Clear Speech (corrupted/only reasonably clear), and Attribute Modifiers options, Specialized and Corrupted / the user cannot actually switch forms, but is stuck as a Dire Wolf hybrid, does not gain size modifiers (8 CP). +1d0 Hit Die, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / only to qualify for the Dire Wolf shapeshift (4 CP).
    • This is the usual shapeshift cheese to replace your original races physical attribute modifiers with those of another creature – and even downgraded to Medium Size those of a Dire Wolf are pretty good; This provides Str +6, Dex +6, Con +2, Scent, Low-Light Vision, 1d6 Natural Weapons, and +3 Natural Armor. Of course, it also means being a hulking, dire, carnivorous beast, needing great quantities of meat, having to have everything special-fitted, and generally being regarded as a socially-unacceptable animal.
  • Nightmare Guardian: Witchcraft III with Seize The Wandering Soul, Specialized for Reduced Cost / the user is subject to a powerful dose of canine instincts (12 CP): This provides Power equal to (the sum of the user’s physical attributes/3) and seven basic witchcraft abilities with a Save DC of (13 + Cha Mod). This usually isn’t very good – only Seize The Wandering Soul is the only one of their basic witchcraft abilities to offer a save at all, and it’s usually a group effort.
    • The Adamant Will, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (the user gains a passive +6 bonus to Will Saves to avoid being diverted from his or her duties) / has no other applications and makes the user’s emotions easy to read (+6 to Sense Motive checks against him or her).
    • Dreamfaring, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Grants continuous awareness of adjoining dimensions and the user may spend 3 Power to be able to interact with such things for one minute) / not usable for other purposes, allows creatures in other dimensions to perceive the user, user is subject to sensory distractions from other dimensions and is sensitive to dimensional disturbances.
    • The Inner Eye, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (the user can sense malignant intent without expending power) / offers no other functions. While there is no save, pretty much any form of mental shielding will result in “no reading”.
    • Glamour, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect ( The user gets a +6 bonus to attempts at Intimidation and may share tactical considerations with other packmembers instantly at ranges of up to sixty feet at no Power cost) / can use no other abilities.
    • Healing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (the user is immune to negative effects of drugs and intoxicant at no Power cost) / offers no other functions.
    • Hyloka, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (time spent on guard duty counts as sleep) / offers no other functions.
    • Witchsight, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Provides a +6 bonus to Perception and Survival at no power cost) / offers no other functions.

Optionally, a Guanthound who had high stats to start with can be given one or more of…

  • Nightbred: Add The Umbral Form and Nightforge (12 CP). Nightbred Gaunthounds can become shadows and turn shadows into adamantine forms – at least temporarily.
  • Warbred: Add Dismissal and Wrath Of The Sea (12 CP). Warbred Guanthounds can attempt to banish extradimensional forces and can augment their own strength, often to superhuman level.
  • Pitbred: Add Bones Of Iron and Leaping Fire (12 CP). Pitbred Gaunthounds can accelerate their movement, attacks, and healing and augment their physical toughness in a variety of ways.
  • Huntbred: Double Damage versus Nightmares, Lovecraftian Horrors, and creatures of the outer dimensions (6 CP) plus Track (Wilderness). Huntbred Gaunthounds are used to track down and eliminate the truly esoteric horrors that are far too often unleashed by people with the Tindalos Birthright.

Jagurhunds: On rare occasions a ritual victim will either find sufficient character points (whether unspent or by draining no-longer applicable talents) to avoid any major drain of his or her mental abilities or will start off with mental attributes so high as to remain fully functional afterwards. In such cases the usual curses of obedience, domestication, and subordination either do not stick or turn into a drive to give orders, run wild, and dominate, Such individuals are often fertile as well – and will usually try to gather a pack of subordinate gaunthounds and claim a territory of their own. They are often – albeit not always – more than a bit angry about their transformations.

Anomaly – Local Regions

And for today (and for the convenience or the local players) it’s a bonus post – a “Map” showing the general layout of the local regions of the Anomaly. Sadly, given that the layout covers about two and a half times the area of the Earth (with a much higher percentage of land, at least in this general area), actual terrain features are generally too small to be a concern. Fortunately, most “hexes” have reasonably consistent terrain, environment, and weather. There is, of course, no way that this could work naturally – but it’s hard to get much more unnatural than the Anomaly. And for the convenience of anyone who wants a better look, Anomaly Local Regions I.

Prince Blueblood’s Aggravating Pony Overlord List Part IV – The Glorious Gardens of Gratuitously Garbled Gnomics

Previously on the Aggravating Overlord Channel…

  1. All my giant monsters will be fitted with appropriate armor, eye protection, and equipment, including automatic healing magic packs! Giant monsters are a fairly expensive bit of lair furnishings, and shall be paid, properly equipped, and provided with healthcare, just like all the other minions!
  2. When recruiting I will favor intelligence, enthusiasm, and youth over accomplishment! It’s not like I’m ever going to be asking my staff to do something reasonable, with precedent, or sane anyway, so imagination will help them a lot more than knowing a long list of reasons why it is impossible to do what I want! Let the heroes get stuck with the old fuddy-duddies who know all the reasons why things won’t work!
  3. All witchy crones, clairvoyant or prophetic hags, mystic hermits, herbalists and brewers of potions, itinerant holy men, fey-touched advisors, occult blacksmiths, runemasters, and similar practitioners of hedge magic, shall be moved into decent country cottages with reliable utilities, picket fences, kitchen gardens, and regularly scheduled landscaping and maintenance services, at no cost. Furthermore, regular supplies of canned goods, new clothing, and soap will be delivered to them in exchange for copious supplies of hangover cures and similar conveniences. Helping to overthrow the Dark Overlord is one thing. Helping to overthrow the landlord who’s letting you stay rent free and is still paying for your services is something else altogether!
  4. Basic military security calls for never telling people more than they need to know at the moment, so that they cannot reveal vital information if captured! Given that I invent entirely new insane plans every few minutes and habitually speculate wildly, every one of my lieutenants will know a dozen different and wildly contradictory plans while I will do whatever comes into my head at the moment! What’s the point of being an Overlord if you can’t change your mind when it suits you?
  5. I will provide funding and research to develop tactical and strategic parties suitable for all contingencies, so that no hero will ever be able to make the situation serious enough to support long-term effects or the use of real weapons.
  6. My Legions of Cuddly will have a strong affirmative action policy towards hiring the handicapped! Spells and technology can make up for that kind of thing anyway and there is NOTHING like a headline declaring ““Hero” beats up blind man!” to reduce their public support!
  7. My personal guards shall be extremely attractive. There’s no reason to be pushy or sexually harass them (and lots of reasons not to, starting with having PLENTY of willing sexual partners), but when you’re running an empire you CAN have both competence and decorativeness in one package.
  8. If I have taken someone hostage they will be sent on a comfortable vacation on Hawaii on an alternate timeline at about 20,000 BC. Their position in any hostage drama will be played by an actor, illusion, or faithful minion. That way there will be no risk of actual injury OR of the “weak, helpless, inexperienced, naive, foolish, etc, etc, etc” hostage suddenly doing something useful at the moment of dramatic climax!
  9. I will distribute variously distorted maps of my (ever-changing) secret passages, random dark mystic secrets that “can be my downfall”, terrible summoning rituals, strange weapons and artifacts, and random junk from antique shops run by mysterious elderly oriental gentlemen to assorted aged hermits and hidden locations! First off, what fun is owning first-edition copies of the Necronimicon, Ars Geotica, Clavicule of Solomon, Darkhold, Celaeno Fragments, Cthäat Aquadingen, Cultes des Goules, De Vermis Mysteriis, Dhol Chants, Heptameron, Liber Juratus, Pnakotic Manuscripts, Sefer ha-Razim I and II, Unaussprechlichen Kulten, and Zanthu Tablets if you’re not going to do anything with them? (And it’s not like I’m going to use them MYSELF). Secondarily, any hero who can turn THAT kind of junk into something useful in hopes of it being my downfall is skilled enough to do better on their own anyway while the UNSKILLED ones will just get themselves into trouble!
  10. My Legions of Cuddly will have proper, biometrically-locked, tactical communication and display computers! When on duty they and the guard commander in the tactics room will know where their teammates are, who is talking to them, and whether something has happened to any one of them at all times! They will also know when to sound the alarm, how to search, and basic security procedures, for that is what the training budget is for!
  11. If an adventuring or potential hero has mentors, teachers, and/or best friends, I shall quietly send them money, training supplies, and clues that they can mysteriously support the heroes with! That way I can secretly steer the heroes into a surprise party and celebrity roast where they can be extensively embarrassed!
  12. If I have a hero and their party trapped, I will not wait until my party cannon is ready to start the festivities if more conventional pies are available.
  13. Whenever my plans include a timetable or checklist, it will include dozens of entries that have nothing to do with anything! Including things like “Attend Grandkids Birthday Party”! I always invent my “plans” on the spot anyway!
  14. My secret archives shall be heavily encrypted! Those embarrassing family photos and movies are NOBODY ELSE’S BUSINESS! They are also an appropriate punishment for anyone who goes to all the trouble to steal and decrypt them! Finally, if stolen, there are secure online backups. My parents would be upset if something happened to all that stuff!
  15. Before I burst into the heroes secret hideout MY personal Oracle will make sure that they are there and that it is not a trap! I am NOT wasting a perfectly good dramatic entrance on a bomb or something! The triggered spells for the spotlight, smoke, amplified dramatic voice, and all the rest take a good deal of effort to set up!
  16. Zen is a thing! I shall live life as it comes, respond to the exigencies of the moment, and go with the flow! Only thus (or, you know, by being a Cartoon ANYWAY) can I always be prepared for any eventuality and be utterly unpredictable!
  17. If I get a hold of something very important to the heroes I shall put it up on Ebay with a nice high minimum bid! It’s not like a bunch of heroes wouldn’t find a way to get it back no matter what if it is really important to them, but this way they shall wind up broke and pay me for the privilege!
  18. When planning an expedition I shall ensure that the route passes through several excellent places for an ambush! I shall also offer chances to come along as prizes for children who are doing well in elementary school!
  19. My bodyguards will be allowed to hear whatever I have to say! I’m trusting them to protect me from attacks, I’m not going to get paranoid about them knowing a few things! Besides, most of what I say is for comedic effect anyway!
  20. If the rebellion tricks me, I shall graciously credit them! If they try the same trick again it shall be used as the lead-in to a countertrick unless is was REALLY funny, in which case they can get away with repeating it until it gets boring or becomes a running but basically ineffectual gag!
  21. I will have prerecorded monologues and body doubles available for confronting each of my enemies. That way when they try to use my villainous monologing to gather clues and gain time to escape while I am so occupied they will find the clues way out of date and that I am well ahead of them!
  22. My sapient computers will regard viruses and hacking attempts like normal people regard con artists! When such things are tried against them they will identify the source and pretend to cooperate while sending in the police!
  23. I shall be an enlightened despot! Prosperous realms full of happy people pay more taxes and make less trouble! Any necessary examples shall be made from people whom pretty much everyone hates! Anyone who’s likely to be stabbed by the other inmates if sent to prison will probably be a good choice!
  24. If I decide to dramatically place a base beneath the ocean, inside a volcano, in a glacier, in a mighty cavern, or any other location prone to exploding/collapsing/allowing people to easily drop in on it from above, it will be strictly for fun and everyone will evacuate by teleportation the moment any of the alarms go off!
  25. I have PLENTY of money! I shall be massively overstaffed so everyone can work short hours with plenty of time for breaks, sick days, or taking naps if they feel tired! After all, if I’m hiring bright kids for things I have to make proper allowances!
  26. I will make a habit of confessing to completely absurd stories about things that I have not (and probably could not) have done! With chortling and sarcasm! That way, if I ever actually HAVE done something and feel some weird urge to confess, I can ham it up and throw in impossible details until no one will believe a word I say anyway!
  27. If I am in deadly peril and a hero reaches out to rescue me, I shall not attempt to take him or her down with me, even if I DO return from death! I will accept the assistance, help him or her out of the inevitable follow-up peril, and enjoy the bonding experience! We can go back to hostilities later in the spirit of good sportsmanship!
  28. Any ghosts who wish to haunt my stronghold can put in an employment application like anybody else! They will not, however, qualify for the optional life insurance! If ghosts are good enough for Hogwarts they are good enough for me!
  29. Anyone who attempts to swim the moat will find themselves aboard the Calypso sailing under Jacques-Yves Cousteau as he explores the seas of the underworld! They will just have to go on a wild adventure to get back!
  30. If an expert refuses to work for me I shall offer more money and benefits! If he or she still will not accept… I shall ask the me in the alternate universe where he or she did accept to share the research or design results in exchange for something similar that didn’t work out in HIS universe!
  31. If a hero shouts “Look out behind you!” I shall teleport us BOTH to a safer spot with a good view of the first one! If it’s a trick, it won’t accomplish much, and if it’s a genuine warning it’s time for a nice lunch and working things out diplomatically, since said hero obviously wasn’t all that hostile to begin with!
  32. I’m personally conjuring everything important anyway. I will outsource anything that isn’t too important. What else is money FOR?
  33. I shall not build any device meant to transfer energy into me. I’ve done that too many times already! Besides, since I’ve discovered super-triple-mocha-chocolate-expresso “Biohazard” coffee, who needs them?
  34. Any carts, wagons, or trucks full of loose material or boxes large enough for someone to hide in will be directed to the loading docks at my warehouse across town. Any hay shall be properly made into hayfries, hayburgers, or similar foods before being brought into my stronghold! It’s not a place for bulk goods!
  35. Festivals, conventions, contests, and mass celebrations will be held at appropriate facilities! My stronghold – except for the emergency shelter in the basement, which is a public service – is for me and my staff (and occasional heroes!), not for random members of the public!
  36. My ultimate coffee making machine will have circuit breakers, surge suppressors, and multiple backups! I am NOT going WITHOUT MY COFFEE! And when I had to use time travel to go back to when it was working I kept having to WAIT IN LINE BEHIND MYSELF! It was entirely unacceptable!
  37. I shall chew the scenery! Be the biggest ham around! Overact and make EVERYTHING out to be the most important thing EVER! Why be an Overlord if you aren’t going to enjoy every minute of it?
  38. If I capture someone known for solving problems with ingenious and fantastic gadgets, I will give them access to a laboratory, several assistants, tell them to sign here to be allowed to use the facilities, monitor EVERYTHING, and claim patent rights on, and make use of, anything they come up with in MY laboratories!
  39. I will cackle and gloatingly tell the heroes that whatever they have done has served my true purposes, whether or not this is true! If they believe me, then they will doubt all of their actions! If they do not, then I have an opportunity to get them into some version of a “Did Too!” “Did Not!” argument suitable for five year olds until “them leave in disgust”!
  40. If there is a famine or other disaster I will rush all necessary relief supplies there at once! Not only is this good publicity, it helps maintain the tax base, discourages dissent, creates a fertile recruiting ground for minions, makes heroes doubt their motives, and costs me nothing but a minute or two! Overstaffed and ability to conjure stuff in mass quantities, remember?
  41. I will also fund urban renewal and youth outreach programs! Slums, gangs, and desperate youths often provide heroes with unexpected allies seeking to express their suppressed teenage idealism! And the vast majority of heroes will have a much harder time fighting against disadvantaged youths who are seeking a better life!
  42. I will not attempt to keep my doings a secret! It’s not like I’m ashamed of the things I do! (If for some reason I AM, I will see a psychiatrist! If the objection is rational, I will then NOT DO IT. If it is some silly hangup, I will get it cured and then indulge!). And secrets always come out at the worst possible moment, such as when everyone who would turn against you if they were revealed is handy to hear them! If they are going to turn against me, they can protest at the time, propose alternative plans, and if nothing else can be done, they can resign, take their severance package and gold watch, and help the heroes if they wish! Peaceably retired people living on Overlord Pension Programs in overlord-funded retirement villages rarely help rebellions against the overlord all that much!
  43. My relatives will all get stipends! They can have jobs if they are compatible, competent at whatever-it-is, and want to do the work! If not, then they can party on!
  44. My consorts shall know from the start that the position includes perpetual youth, wealth, healing, semi-immortality, wealth, and the use of an immense variety of facilities! They shall also know from the start that they can leave when they wish and that it is a position in my harem! Why would I want someone in my household or bed who isn’t happy there?
  45. Hostages will not be used as bait. For THAT all you need is a rumor! Moreover, threats are NOT a useful way to gain compliance! Sure, some incompetents will fall for that, but anyone competent will realize that there will be no end to such demands, and will just go straight for your throat! Besides, it’s rude and dishonorable!
  46. I will hire an expert marksman with a tranquilizer rifle to guard the gates of my stronghold! His job will be to settle down giant monsters, administer antidotes to drug-crazed berserkers, and vaccinate any of the kids who try to avoid it! For challengers he will switch to a paintball gun!
  47. I will explain to my legions of cuddly that Pies are multipurpose instruments! They can be used in ranged combat, in close combat, as snacks or rations, as peace offerings, as booby traps, to mark turns and trails, as monster lures, as props, to produce oil slicks, to briefly blind the enemy, as monster diversions, to cover the scent of your tracks, and for various other purposes! That is why they shall all be trained to use pie powers! And friendship beams once those are available!
  48. My vulnerabilities are things that hurt me, like everybody else! Fortunately, as a cartoon, very, VERY, little does that, and letting the rumors spread will discourage attacks!
  49. I will not make alliances with greater powers since I do not admit their existence! I shall not make alliances with lesser powers either! Alliances are for EQUALS. Lesser powers are available as EMPLOYEES. This is why MONEY is one of the greatest powers of all!
  50. Like the roman legions, my legions will be kept reasonably busy during downtime! There are hospitals, spas, public service opportunities, gyms, and training courses! They shall have plenty of ways to keep busy and earn those bonuses!

Prince Blueblood’s Aggravating Pony Overlord List Part III – The Wine Cellar Of Dubious Drunken Declarations.

And today’s segment is dedicated to the TV Tropes Additional Evil Overlord Rules page – where quite a lot of additional Evil Overlord rules can be found!

Previously on the Aggravating Overlord Channel…

  1. I will make it clear that I do know the meaning of the word “Mercy”! But the tickling will continue until they say “Uncle”!
  2. I will contact people near the heroes at random via projected image and publicly insist that they deliver their reports! No matter what they say, I shall look intrigued, thank them for their coded report, and leave them a modest cash bonus and some coupons with odd wording that might be coded instructions!
  3. I will hire all mad scientists capable of designing doomsday weapons and put them to work DOING SOMETHING ELSE. How many times do I have to point out that ->I<- live here TOO?!?!
  4. If my supreme command center comes under attack I will set off an illusion of it falling to bits and project an image of myself announcing “You may have scored a small “victory” today heroes, but my plans are further along than ever!” before it and the “rubble” vanish with a teleportation signature.
  5. Any data file of crucial importance will be non-existent! I am making this up as I go along! I will, however, be irate if they capture all my save game files!
  6. I will accept all challenges from heroes! But no matter what they propose, I shall interpret it as a challenge to one or another collectible children’s card game so that they will first have to learn the overly-complicated rules and spend a lot of money building a deck! Did I mention that I own most of those companies?
  7. To keep my subjects from rebelling or assisting heroes, I will make sure that things are actually pretty nice in my realm! It’s not like I cannot afford it! How would making the general population miserable provide me with more fun than my limitless funds and total authority can get me anyway?
  8. I will not order anyone to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow me! I shall raise the kid to take over when I retire! I’ve got to do it SOMETIME and leaving a properly trained successor is part of the job! Besides, the kid will almost certainly turn out to be one of mine anyway!
  9. I will claim full credit for the actions of Murphy! It’s not like anyone will believe that I’m not throwing silly obstacles in the heroes way anyway!
  10. My Stronghold of Doom (TM) is going to be a personal conjuration, so if it gets captured by a hero I will simply drop it and conjure it anew somewhere else! If I know the heroes forces are advancing and will arrive shortly, I may do this just before they arrive and leave a forwarding address to a post office box in Saskatchewan and some stray SCUBA gear. That should keep them entertained soggy for quite some time!
  11. Magic and technology that can resurrect martyrs will be encouraged! That way heroic sacrifices won’t mean anything and will have little or no emotional impact or dramatic effect!
  12. I shall secretly sponsor and fund committees demanding all sorts of reforms and advocating my overthrow! I shall, however, make sure that my loyal opposition only gets my attention when they actually have a good idea which I can co-opt!
  13. I will not employ devious schemes involving the hero’s getting into my inner sanctum! If they really insist, they can just follow the signs showing the direct route to the orgy room!
  14. All Oracles in my realm will be provided with helpful aides who will file notarized copies of any prophecies with a central database! It’s not like fighting a valid prophecy is of any use anyway and you can’t work around what you don’t know about!
  15. There are counters for everything, so I shall just focus on having a wide variety of powers to choose from at random in any confrontation! A hero who can successfully plan for “he might do any damned thing!” deserves a little win!
  16. My Stronghold of Doom (TM) shall be designed to be enormously impressive and have someone assigned to answer the door! Making it impregnable just means that heroes will find a way to get inside without knocking!
  17. I shall inform any enemy who manages to get past the guards and confront me that their heroism has shown them worthy of an engagement to whichever one of my children is currently looking for a mate and finds them attractive! While they are still sputtering, I shall unleash the tailors and the wedding planners!
  18. If I capture the heroes customized car, ship, or similar vessel I will load it up with contraband and let them try to explain their cargo to a neighboring realm’s authorities once they recapture it and flee my wrath in it!
  19. When I want revenge, I shall send paparazzi and scandal-mongers! Not even the greatest torturers of eld could make people die THAT many times!
  20. If I have equipment which performs a vital function it will be fully automatic! There will be none of this “inappropriate activation” or “someone hit the emergency shutdown” nonsense!
  21. I will not attempt to kill heroes by placing scorpions, snakes, spiders, or similar poisonous perils in their rooms! Cute sexual partners and the ensuing pregnancies or child support demands will fully occupy them anyway!
  22. If I get a hold of something that can only be used by the “Pure of Heart” I will check on pure WHAT before trying it!
  23. The automatic pie launcher turrets on my fortress will be fully capable of firing at each other or into the fortress! Nothing is funnier than watching heroes attempting to kill you with pies OR burying one under a pile of lemon cream!
  24. If I decide to hold a contest of skill open to the general public it shall be held at a proper convention center, rather than opening up my penthouse stronghold to noisy pests!
  25. Kidnap victims rarely turn in their best work! Prior to attempting any such nonsense, I will try to HIRE them, and offer any sons and daughters good jobs too! Or daycare, as appropriate!
  26. Should I ever set up a classic “deathtrap”, It shall have many possible modes of escape and I shall have my bookie taking bets on how the hero will get away! That way I will get SOMETHING out of it!
  27. Rather than attempting to get away in one of the dozens of fleeing escape pods, I shall take the form of a young hostage, or innocent offspring of a lieutenant, or some such, and let the heroes do all the work of rescuing and protecting me!
  28. My guards will have ready access to snacks and drinks with plenty to share! Fat, happy, sleepy, prisoners are a lot less trouble!
  29. I will employ comedic robots as my agents of destruction! They are far more likely to bring down a building or something by accident than an intentionally destructive robot is likely to accomplish anything on purpose!
  30. When I force heroes to fight each other in the arena it will be with pies! Why should I equip people for arena battles with any lesser weapon?
  31. All members of my staff will have Hawaiian shirts and straw hats. No hero would be caught dead in such an outfit anyway.
  32. I will never place the key to a cell just out of a prisoners reach! It shall be under an ominous looking button in the cell labeled “push if extremely bored or suicidal”. After all, if they’re willing to push THAT button, it’s time to let them out!
  33. Before appointing someone as a trusted lieutenant, I shall reveal that I know all about their hidden treacheries and intent to aid the hero, but tell them that I am willing to trust them with a second chance!
  34. If I find my beautiful consort with access to my stronghold has been associating with the hero, I shall give her a parting bonus, tell her to go and find her true love, and give her coupons for a splendid one-month honeymoon. My stronghold is a conjuration, and will only take a few minutes to redesign, or move, or both, anyway and the current color scheme WAS getting a little old…
  35. If I am escaping in a vehicle and the hero is pursuing me in another one I shall immediately switch the genre to Mario Go-Kart and start dumping huge heaps of conjured junk out the back, starting with ten thousand bouncy balls.
  36. My Doomsday Machine will be HERO BAIT. How many times do I have to point out that I LIVE HERE TOO!
  37. If I make a bomb, it will be a cake, properly filled with ice cream and fudge, and anyone who tries to disarm it will look like a right prat.
  38. When spending funds, I will invest in anything I please. I have no shortage of money and will simply create my bases and fortresses to suit anyway. Giant Neon Gothic Fortress with Digital Clocktower from the Baron Ectar school of architecture for the win!
  39. The passageways within my fortress will be dimly lit by flickering battery-powered torches for the ambience! That is what Night-Sight spells are for!
  40. If the strange noises in the forest seem to be coming from some small and harmless woodland creature, I shall either get Tarzan to call a stampede or – if really desperate – send out Angel Bunny.
  41. When my guards check an apparently empty cell, they shall rinse it out with a high-pressure firehose before sending for an elderly martial artist cleaning lady who appears totally harmless! If someone is hiding under the bed or something, they can just enjoy their bath!
  42. I will have lots of children! I like children! And any who like may try to overthrow me, starting at age six or so! They may take turns until they are bored and the paperwork is making them cry and they need cuddles!
  43. I will keep a wide variety of special prizes for kids around that they will need a cooperative hero to claim! This will give all of my kids AND the local kids a major incentive to find heroes, lead them to me, and insist on the heroes repaying them by helping them get and carry various piñatas’, giant boxes of candy, and huge stuffed animals along the way!
  44. If one of my sons or daughters pairs up with a hero or heroine, I will promptly hold a parade for them and dote endlessly over the possibility of grandchildren while swamping them with cribs, toys, stuffed animals, and baby supplies. Aphrodisiacs and fertility drugs will not, however, be included in the gifts until three months after the wedding.
  45. When my guards are shooting at the hero they will use super-expanding pies which grow to fill the entire corridor or similar space where they’re aimed. That way he or she is sure to get creamed!
  46. My dungeon decor shall feature plenty of whispering galleries, although there shall be occasional interruptions by pop-up advertisements for My Little Pony collectible toys.
  47. If there are reports of any un-manned or seemingly innocent ships found where they are not supposed to be the appropriate safety organizations will be notified and well-meaning assistance will be dispatched.
  48. My lieutenants shall be entirely trusted to foul things up! If they ever accomplish anything useful in addition to being entertaining it will be a pleasant surprise!
  49. When my enemies break out an impossible device to use against me, I shall geek out over it, teleport into the midst of their party, and start discussing possible improvements. No crazed gadgeteer can resist explaining at great length to anyone who takes an interest!
  50. There will be ropes suitable for swinging from, or holding up heavy chandeliers and tapestries, in every possible location, and my guards will all be trained to use them to ascend, descend, and swing around as much as possible! It’s hysterical!

Prince Blueblood’s Aggravating Pony Overlord List Part II – The Grand Ballroom of Aberrant Aphorisms.

Now that I can get back to the blog and catch up a bit, today’s segment is dedicated to Jack Butlers version of the Evil Overlord List – so much the same and yet different in a variety of ways!

  1. Since nothing is more irritating than being defeated by basic math, physics, or logic, I shall always remember that I am a cartoon and am not subject to ANY of those things!
  2. A true ultimate weapon is defined by what it does NOT do! It should not harm forces favorable to you, or resources, infrastructure, or populations who can be brought into your service! Its use should not cause neutral groups to become hostile or inspire heroes to rise up against you! It’s use should not hinder your use of the areas targeted after it takes effect! It should not stop working after being used against an area, so that target areas will become permanently hostile to enemy forces! It should not inspire hostility against you or even any major efforts to evade it’s effects! It should be impossible for a enemies to use it to reverse it’s own effects! That is why my mad scientists, wizards, and psychic experts will be concentrating on Weaponized Friendship! That way, even if someone else should beat me to my ultimate weapon… I shall know that they will be my friends!
  3. If one of my guards begins expressing concern over the conditions in which the beautiful princess is being held (usually listening to me talk about myself), I will immediately assign him to bodyguard her! They could both probably use a little recreation!
  4. Since secret passages manifest spontaneously whenever needed, I shall just make sure that the rooms in the palace are equally mobile! When the heroes discover that. at the moment, the passage leads to the breakfast buffet (and food fight) rather than to my private quarters, they will soon have egg all over their faces! And probably uncomfortable bacon crumbles in their shorts!
  5. If the excessively beautiful noble, princess, or VIP that I capture says “I shall never marry you! Never, NEVER!!!!!”, I shall happily say “Who said anything about marriage? It’s not like anyone will ever believe that you’re a pure and virginal maiden after I captured you and imprisoned you in my quarters anyway! Wanna play Mai-Jong?”
  6. I will strike bargains with demonic beings that require them to go away so that we shall have no chance to get on each others nerves! It’s not like I need anything else that they’ve got to offer!
  7. Twisted mutants and psychotic lunatics will have their place in my hospitals! Once they’re cured, and likely loyal out of gratitude, I shall provide job education programs! For before I send them out to do anything, I want to be sure that they in reasonably good shape and competent to do it!
  8. My legions of cuddly will be trained with pies! Anyone who cannot hit a man-sized target in the face with a pie at ten paces will have to clean up and then keep practicing! After all, no hero would employ real violence in a pie fight, and that will keep my medical and bereavement expenses way, WAY, down!
  9. When employing any captured artifacts or machinery I will doubtless be in a great hurry or I’d have gotten a reliable version of my own built! So I shall have many lucky charms ready! And not rabbits feet! The rabbit had four of those, and look where IT wound up!
  10. If it becomes necessary to escape, I WILL HAVE MY MONOLOGUE, even if I must STOP TIME TO DO IT! (Unless I have it printed up in advance, in which case I shall just have leaflets dumped on the heroes).
  11. I will build all sentient computers to be smarter than I am! If they aren’t smarter than I am, why bother with them in the first place? Trust me, I can find PLENTY of STUPID without building expensive machines to provide it!
  12. I hate passwords! Everything is going to be on biometric locks in the first place! And that INCLUDES the guards weapons, vehicles, control panels, and other equipment!
  13. If my advisors ask “Why are you risking everything on such a mad scheme?”, I will not proceed until I come up with a new scheme that is so insane that they will beg me to go back to the first one!
  14. I will not bother with a fortress! The world is full of ruined ones! They never work! I will get a nice building in the center of town, convenient for the shops, and surrounded by millions of people who will call the cops and S.W.A.T. teams if they think that some lunatic is about to start a battle in the middle of the city!
  15. Bulk trash will be sent to recycling! If it proves to contain escaping heroes, they will be given 200$ and be shipped to a dingy motel room in Boring Oregon!
  16. I will see a competent psychiatrist and see how long it takes him to refuse to see me any longer! He can then join the heroes and reveal to them that I am a cartoon just in case they have somehow failed to notice!
  17. I will not have a main control room. What is the point of having a sentient computer and still having to try to adjust fussy control systems with hooves?
  18. My security keypad will actually be an ordering system for pies, coffee, and doughnuts. If somebody authorized wants to come in and see me they should bring a snack! And if they do not know what they are doing, being soaked in hot coffee and covered in pie filling is a better hero deterrent than most! After all, anyone with a brain should know that Ponies do not use keypads for anything urgent!
  19. All surveillance cameras will have easily accessible “off” buttons! People do have a right to privacy, but when turned off the cameras will play a recorded message to the effect that any injuries received while off camera will not be the responsibility of the management!
  20. I will spare someone who saved my life in the past. If necessary, I will send them back in time so that they HAVE to save me to avoid paradox. I may be immune to that, but they probably aren’t!
  21. All midwives will be properly trained, tested, and licensed, Children who wish to be raised by wild animals in a dangerous jungle can get that taken care of in public school, just like everybody else.
  22. My guards will not search for intruders. They will stay at the central information desks where they belong AND where they have partial cover! All the corridors lead there anyway, so any intruders will have to come to them!
  23. When I decide to test an underlings loyalty to me I will have extra jelly donuts available in case said underling is not loyal enough and eats the last one.
  24. If all the heroes are standing together around a strange device and begin to taunt me, I will go and have lunch while the servants throw them out. Heckling contests are beneath my dignity.
  25. I will not agree to let the heroes go free if they win a rigged contest, even though my advisors assure me it is impossible for them to win. What fun is that? Rigging a contest is beneath me! If they want to go free they can beat me FAIR AND SQUARE! I have many incredibly obscure board games that I never get to play otherwise anyway!
  26. When I create an elaborate, special-effects heavy, multimedia presentation of my plan so simple that a five-year-old can easily understand all the details, I will not label the disk “Project Overlord” and leave it laying about!. If I went to all that trouble I must have meant it for wide distribution; I will arrange a several-hundred-screen theatrical release!
  27. If a hero proves too strong for a couple of my legionaries to arrest, I shall send in some of whatever sex he finds attractive to suffer wardrobe malfunctions. Heroes are notorious for seducing their enemies, but no matter how great the hero, ten or fifteen liaisons a day will keep him or her well-occupied, are easily affordable, and cost less than paying for treating casualties.
  28. If a hero is standing at the edge of a precipice, or balancing over molten lava, or involved in any such horrible safety hazard, I will pretend that I have lost track of them and have a member of the maintenance department offer to let said hero conceal themselves among the maintenance crew. That way I can get some work out of him or her AND get some proper safety rails installed around whatever silly hazard they’ve discovered. Also, fire my architect! WHY is there a giant pit on my bridge, chasm in my death star, or balcony overlooking the giant pit of fire anyway? If there’s no scenic view available, HANG A PAINTING.
  29. If I have a moment of even less sanity than usual and opt to offer the hero a job as one of my trusted lieutenants, I will make sure that said hero starts at lower pay and less benefits than my current trusted lieutenants. There’s no need to promote jealousy!
  30. I will tell my legions “Lethal weapons never work on heroes anyway, so I haven’t given you any! Just fire a netgun in their general direction with the intent to drag them before me and – if necessary – it will go around three trees, a log cabin, and an emu to ensnare them in an apparently, but not actually, secure fashion so that they can break loose in my throne room! You can’t fight the heroic narrative, so you might as well go along with it!”
  31. If a destroy-the-universe weapon happens to come with a reverse switch, I will have the whole thing melted down. If it worked, who would be left to throw it? If it doesn’t have a reverse switch I will melt it down anyway. The universe is where I keep my ME! Also, I shall find whoever it is who keeps BUILDING these things and LOCK THEM UP WITH A GOOD THERAPIST.
  32. If my weakest troops fail against a hero, I will want to know why they didn’t politely ask them to come down to the station for an interview in the first place. Real heroes never start anything first and my weakest troops have no business trying to deal with a hero in any other way!
  33. If I am fighting with a hero atop a moving platform and he glances behind me and drops flat, I shall use my dimensional powers to reduce my effective height until I am shorter than he now is AND on exactly the right level to hit him in the face with a pie! With any luck he will rear back in surprise and run his face into whatever it was he saw!
  34. If any of my heroic opponents are standing in front of a crucial support beam I will blast it myself and see how they get out of the ensuing collapse!
  35. If I am dining with a hero, have drugged his goblet, and then have to leave the table for any reason, I will not worry about it! I am immune to most of that stuff anyway, and I will have put anything I actually want to use in the air conditioning vents, so said hero might as well have his or her clever little moment of triumph!
  36. I will not have captives of one sex guarded by members of the opposite sex. I will get them a nice reservation at a restaurant and hotel, with all expenses paid!
  37. The more complicated a plan the better! They never survive contact with the enemy anyway, so the more bits you have the more likely it is that you will be able to rearrange them into something amusing when the original plan is inevitably disrupted!
  38. I will make sure that my doomsday device is properly disabled, but full of ten thousand gallons of carbonated cream under high pressure! When the heroes go for the dramatic disarm, they’ll get creamed! And how many times must I point out that destroying the world you live on is a STUPID thing to do?
  39. My vats of hazardous chemicals will all be installed on the top floor so no one can fall into them! It’s not like they can bother me anyway…
  40. If a group of thugs fail miserably at a task, I will acknowledge that “thug” is a low-skilled and underpaid profession and send them to training! They can try again when they’re up to professional levels and have qualified for a morale-improving raise!
  41. After I capture the heroes superweapon I will dismantle it and scatter the pieces to hiding places across the world since it would never work for me anyway! By the time they’re done fetch-questing to put it back together I shall probably be done with all my projects AND will have had time for a long vacation!
  42. Any controls I must have will be personally accessible from my lounge! That way I can have someone cuddling and still manage my realm!
  43. I will have a trusted aide on duty to receive messengers no matter how busy I am! There is no point to being an Overlord if you have to do everything yourself! Also, bring MORE CAKE!
  44. Whenever I communicate with a hero there shall be the sounds of a big party and ongoing sex in the background! Most heroes are incredibly straight-laced, and will probably try to find a time to talk or attack when there is no party going on! Which shall be never!
  45. If I decide to get rid of a hero and an underling who failed or betrayed me, I shall tell them that their lives are now mystically linked, provide an illusion of that being true, and ship the underling off to some supposedly terrible danger a very long and difficult trip away! I will then give the hero a very slow horse and a choice of bus tickets to the wrong place.
  46. When arresting prisoners, my guards will permit them to pack and place a phone call! There is no reason to be rude!
  47. My holding areas will offer their choice of an excellent medical team or a cackling mad scientist focused on human augmentation available to treat any prisoner ailments!
  48. My door mechanisms will be designed to open automatically when people approach! Hooves, remember?
  49. My holding areas will be designed with secret passages in and out which only rather small children may transverse and will be well stocked with candy and toys! That way little kids can wander in and out to annoy the heroes – and if they are true heroes they will not be able to avoid babysitting, for which they shall be grossly underpaid!
  50. If a good-looking young pair enters my realm, the gossip police will keep an eye on them! If they are happy and affectionate, that’s fine! But if circumstances have forced them together against their wills and they alternate between quarreling with each and saving each others’ lives with hints of sexual tension, I will immediately send them each a huge gift certificate for the Sex Warehouse Superstore! Otherwise they are all too likely pull an Inuyasha-and-Kagome and take HUNDREDS OF EPISODES to GET TO THE POINT! I am NOT putting up with that again!

Prince Blueblood’s Aggravating Pony Overlord List Part I – The Throne Room

Today, in celebration and parody of Peter’s classic “Evil Overlord List“, here we have Prince Blueblood’s take on it – Part I of the Pony Overlord List.

  1. I will not set myself up as a god. I am a cartoon pony and I am BETTER than that.
  2. My Legions of Cuddly will have Pony Suits that completely conceal their faces, sexes, and all other identifiable details, complete with voice masks! As well as the necessary month-long training course in how to walk, function effectively, and ham it up while wearing one!
  3. My ventilation ducts will be big enough to blow hurricanes into my rooms for dramatic cape-billowing effects – and my capes shall have breakaway safety clasps, so that they can easily be dramatically tossed aside to be carried away by said winds!
  4. My virtuous and well-loved relative whose power I have usurped will be kept on as a figurehead and not told that I have taken over so that I can spend more time partying while they handle all of the boring stuff.
  5. Shooting is excellent for my enemies! They shall be photographed in all their most exasperated and embarrassing moments and will be the subject of many snarky articles and skits on Saturday Night Live!
  6. The Unicorn Horn which is the primary focus of my power shall be kept on top of my head, where it shall poke holes in hats!
  7. I will gloat over my enemies lack of fashion sense before having them subjected to a celebrity roast on a major network!
  8. When I’ve captured my adversary and he says, “Before you kill me, tell me what this is all about!” I shall say, “I thought you knew! I just do things! Get out there, brush off your inventiveness, and don’t come back until you’ve come up with an ingenious evil scheme explaining my actions that I can take credit for!”
  9. After I kidnap the beautiful princess, I will take her to major parties and try to seduce her by showing her how sparkly my plans are! That gym membership, the toning exercises, the spa staff, and all the rest is oh so worth it!
  10. All of my vehicles and structures will include a large, red, self-destruct button in an utterly obvious location! It will be clearly labeled “Self-Destruct! Do not push!”. When you push it, you will immediately find yourself smoking three cigarettes and wanting more, stuffing on butter, pasta, and sausage, drinking vodka, wanting to watch TV all day, and averse to exercise!
  11. I shall interrogate my enemies by playing “Truth Or Dare” with them in my inner sanctum! Or, if they are all cute enough, Spin The Bottle! The embarrassment alone shall probably do them in!
  12. You are rated on the greatness of your enemies! I will leave them as many clues, signs, and easy escapes as they need to make themselves look incredibly fortunate and competent at all times!
  13. One of my advisors will be an average World Of Warcraft nerd! No plans will be implemented until he has ignored them for several weeks and then talked about how useless they are in killing bosses on TeamSpeak! By that time any obvious shortcomings have probably come up in the planning committee!
  14. The hero may have my last drink and cigarette! If I’m down to the last, I need to go shopping while he’s consuming them!
  15. All my equipment will have flickering digital countdowns, even if they mean nothing at all! They are extremely distracting to your enemies and have a wonderfully ominous effect!
  16. I will always ask defeated enemies to fill out a customer satisfaction survey! I need to know which of my tactics is most annoying!
  17. I will have lots of sons! And I shall indulge their plans to get fun stuff for parties as much as possible! Why be an Overlord at all if you are not going to take advantage of the privileges? Also, bring me canapes, brandy, and pretty young mares!
  18. I will have lots of beautiful daughters! They will provide a reason for my wickedness, for how else will I be able to attract a sufficient supply of handsome heroes for them to marry?
  19. I will indulge in maniacal laughter! Not only is it fun, but if you don’t give your opponents time to do something it will be boring!
  20. I will hire a talented fashion designer and use her to deflect incoming cakes and pies! On the day that she comes up with something fashionable to do with them VICTORY WILL BECOME INEVITABLE!
  21. If a power-granting energy field is bigger than my head, I shall see if it is also available commercially in a convenient pill or potion form!
  22. I will keep a special cache of party supplies and train a Swedish bikini team in their use! That way, even if the heroes manage to sabotage my party cannon, a party can be airdropped in when a tab is pulled!
  23. Whenever someone manages to damage my hair I shall cry “No! This CANNOT BE! My hairstyle is INVINCIBLE!”
  24. All of my machinery shall be rube Goldberg contraptions, with only one safe spot to stand in when they are in operation OR blowing up! And I shall be standing there, like Leslie in The Great Pie Fight!
  25. All prisoners shall be sent to my bedchamber! I used all the space for dungeons making my bedroom larger than most football stadiums anyway!
    (They can play hide-and-seek there, and maybe find my best robe; it’s been missing for MONTHS).
  26. I will never build anything important! Hieronymus Machines are MUCH more reliable than actual mechanisms! And they frustrate those scientific hero types no end!
  27. My pet monsters shall be kept under the bed and in the closet, so that they can leap out and cuddle people! No hero would ever harm a giant friendly fuzzy thing that wants to be petted no matter how encumbering it is to be snuggled!
  28. I shall dress in nothing much, since I am a pony! But I will have roses to carry in my teeth and snack on occasionally!
  29. All incompetent conjurers, bumbling squires, useless minstrels, and cowardly sleight-of-hoof artists in my realm will be recruited for the circus! They are a precious resource of entertainment and need jobs!
  30. All foolish, young, big-chested, tavern girls in my realm will be required to attend sex education classes with all the other kids and will get free health care, including contraceptives, just like everybody else!
  31. Any messengers who bring me bad news will face heated sarcasm which they will have to take back to the people who sent me such bad news in the first place instead of doing their jobs and FIXING THE PROBLEM! They will also get a good tip and a cell phone so that the news won’t have to wait while they come in person next time!
  32. I won’t require high-ranking mares in my organization to wear anything at all! Ponies usually don’t! But if they want to, that’s their business! I’m not commenting on ANY females clothing unless invited, and even then only in the vaguest of positive terms!
  33. I will turn SOMETHING or other into a snake! I’m sure it will help somehow! Perhaps with finding all the heroes who have gotten lost in the ventilation ducts…
  34. I am not a goat. I will not grow a Goatee. Save it for Grogar.
  35. My prison will have plenty of team-building, job-training, and morale building exercises! There’s no point in locking people up if they’re not going to be better people when they get out!
  36. If my trusted lieutenant tells me that my Legions are losing to the heroes, I will immediately rebrand them as a delaying tactic and announce that everything is going just as I planned it!
  37. If an enemy has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere I will find them and give them front-row tickets for any confrontation! And for the mecha battle that comes next! Kids love that sort of thing!
  38. I will not ride into battle no matter who says that I must! It would be WEIRD!
  39. I will be chivalrous, sporting, and obnoxious! If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I shall dismantle it carefully! After all, if it is unstoppable than I would eventually be one of its victims because once started it WILL NOT STOP!
  40. Once my power is secure it will be very boring, so I shall build time travel devices to go back and compete with myself for dominion! After all, if I won already, I must be the best opponent around!
  41. When I capture a hero, I will also ensure that I capture whatever cute animals or child sidekicks capable of opening doors, stealing keys, and cutting or chewing ropes, happen to be following him around! They are cute and cuddly and help attract the mares!
  42. When I capture the beautiful rebel and she claims she is attracted to my power and good looks and will gladly betray her companions if I just let her in on my plans I will immediately let her participate in my plans for a really fun evening!
  43. I will cheerfully employ bounty hunters who work for the fun of it. Why should I care if they’re mostly ineffectual when I’m not actually wasting resources on them anyway?
  44. I will not bother keeping track of who is responsible for things in my organization. I change my mind all the time anyway.
  45. If somebody says “What can one man do?” I shall say “Pretty much anything a million men can do; it will just take longer! Go back to advisor school!”
  46. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I shall wait until he grows up a bit and offer him a good job with better pay and health insurance. Youthful idealism wears thin pretty fast!
  47. Any beast that’s working for me is getting paid accordingly, just like the rest of the staff! And it will just have to put up with me when I have a bad day, just like everyone else! Being an Overlord does come with SOME privileges after all!
  48. If I learn the whereabouts of the one artifact that can destroy me, I shall promptly commission another counter-artifact, just like I did for the last fifty such artifacts!
  49. My main computers will run on Windows. If they run on anything else they might as well be bricks; even I will never be able to hire enough staff who can properly use the things to get anything done!

Granny Part III – Witchery, Poisons, and the Ruinous Powers

I’ll get you and your little dog too!

-The Wicked Witch Of The West.

Granny has 126 CP left with which to buy other special abilities – which, given how much she still has to buy, is going to call for some optimization. That isn’t really traditional for NPC’s in most games, partially due to their game masters lack of time and partially because in most games noncombative NPC’s don’t really need detailed writeups – while combative ones are simply there to lose. For such NPC’s optimization is undesirable. After all, if they have any serious chance of winning, sooner or later the dice will give them a victory – and you’ll have a total party kill that ends the game. Granny, however, can safely be optimized out the wazoo because she’s not really there to fight – and a win for her usually means steering the party into a more suitable adventure.

Witchery (45 CP).

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

-Macbeth

Poppies! Poppies!

-The Wicked Witch of the West

The Subtle Arts: Witchcraft III with the Secret Order: Provides all 12 basic abilities and 17 Power. Her powers have a base Save DC of 23, usually using Will (24 CP).

As Within, So Without: Advanced Witchcraft Abilities (33 CP): Aegis (6 CP), Leaping Fire (6 CP), Mouth of the Earth (6 CP), Venomed Touch (Specialized for Double Effect/requires 50 GP worth of alchemical catalysts per use, 6 CP. A 2d12 immediate attribute damage poison with save DC 23 can be pretty useful), The Dark Flame (Specialized for Increased Effect; Only to affect the DC’s of saving against her powers, 6 CP. In effect, she can pay 1 Power to boost the DC of saves against her Charisma-based abilities by +6 for ten minutes), and Weathermonger (Specialized; requires dramatic gestures and a 100 GP focusing talisman, 3 CP).

Pacts (-24 CP): Guardianship (the Crypts of the Haunted Forest), Rituals (Solstice and Equinox Celebrations), Souls (Granny must sponsor and encourage covens of lesser witches), and a nasty Susceptibility to Holy Water (while it’s only one point, and the reaction to small amounts is easily concealed, large quantities could do her serious harm – which is why she’s made sure that the “Melting!” story involved mopwater).

Visions of the Hidden Spheres (8 CP): Cha-Based Rune “Magic” (Psionics): Clairsentience, Casting (Manifestation) +4 SP (4 CP) and Mastery +1 SP (1 CP) +7 (Int) +10 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +24 (Caster level 12) Manifestation, +21 (allowing effects of up to L5) plus And Magician (Charisma, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Power gained can be used for Witchcraft, as well as Rune Magic (Psionics)) / user gains bonus generic Power for their effective Caster Levels, rather than from all bonus spell slots, user is restricted to a list of (Int) specific effects, although they may trade out two per level, 3 CP)

  • L0) Conceal Thoughts, Detect Psionics, Prophecy (allows any stray prophecies or visions that may be floating about to manifest through you), Seance (allows the user to open a link for the dead to communicate over. There is no compulsion involved).
  • L1) Commune with “Birds” (Squirrels and such will do too), Cultural Adaption, Inevitable Strike, Psychic Tracking.
  • L2) Caught In Crystal (As per Improvisation, but provides Insight bonuses rather than luck bonuses), Inevitable Save (as per Inevitable Strike, but applies to a save and can be used as an immediate action), Interview (gives a very good evaluation of someone’s nature and talents after a brief interview),Savored Instant (You may take up to (caster level) mental rounds to experience even the most fleeting sensory impression. While no other actions are possible, you may read a lengthy missive at a glance, get a detailed description of each of the people charging you, carefully evaluate a fleeting expression, or stretch out the savor of a fine wine or an orgasm. If this is ever relevant – say when wine-tasting, or trying to spot if someone is carrying a hidden weapon at a glance – use of this effect provides a +4 circumstance bonus. Activating it does not count as an action and can be done at any time).
  • L3) Arcane Sight, Akashic Communion, Pulse of the Realm (allows an instant Gather Information check), See Beyond.
  • L4) Blood Biography (Greater; can also evaluate targets within short range and provides quite a lot of family details), Detect remote Viewing, Remote Viewing, Trace Teleport
  • L5) Akhasic Map (provides a mental map of the local area, including many details, such as traps and secret doors), Pierce the Veils, Prying Eyes, Twisting Fates Threads (as per Ruin Delvers Fortune, but provides Insight bonuses instead of Luck).

All right; this isn’t strictly Witchcraft, but it seemed to fit in here better than under skills. It’s also a way to get more Power and access to some handy abilities – but the three I really wanted to give her were Seance, Savored Instant, and Pulse of the Realm. Being able to take out a few moments to think no matter how rushed you are, and being able to gather information without it taking up a lot of time, are both invaluable talents for a ruler. (The ability to hold seances is just for flavor of course).

I Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff: Rite of Chi with +(Cha Mod) Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only to restore Power, only takes effect at a maximum of 2d6 points per hour (4 CP). Across a day Granny will regain about 40 power – enough to casually use her psychic abilities for conveniences sake without worrying about tracking every point of Power.

Granny is a pretty powerful witch, but her obvious specialties are biomanipulations and poisons – often used out of combat. After all, she can easily create a contact poison that does 2d12 damage to a chosen attribute (or twice that to an attribute for a specific purpose), has a save DC of 29, and can be given a delayed effect (hours or days). Go ahead, make someone Suggestible (-4d12 Wisdom, only to reduce Will saves), Unable to Strike (reduce Str for melee attack purposes), Dexterity for Movement Purposes, Constitution for Hit Points/Level, Intelligence for Languages (guess what! With Int 0 for that purpose you can no longer communicate!), Intelligence for Skills and Feats (if it drops to 0 for such purposes, you lose access to skills and feats), Charisma for the purposes of Channeling, or a Casting Stat for Spellcasting. Granny has dozens of ways to cripple an opponent with a single touch, dart, or attack – and can provide such poisons for her henchmen and agents.

Combining this with Dominion and her Power Words (Below) will let her poison massive areas – or she can use her Chaos Magic to add effects like Venomfire or Increase Virulence. This is pretty powerful – but it’s an ability that she rarely uses; it affects a massive area, has no provision for making exceptions, and – since she’s generating actual, physical, poisons, that won’t just vanish afterwards – can easily wind up poisoning innocent people later on, rather like the ongoing problems resulting from the use of “Mustard Gas” in World War II.

Does the Venomous Touch poison act again one minute later if the initial save fails? Given that it was essentially based on the Poison spell, it was indeed meant to – but I didn’t note that in the actual description since, at the time, that was the default for all poisons and I was trying to keep the page count down to something manageable. Later material provided a lot of more complicated poisons using other options, so I probably should update that. On the other hand, that leaves it open for game master, which is also reasonable.

Invoking The Ruinous Powers (40 CP):

Granny calls on Dark Gods, Archdevils, and Lovecraftian Forces that frighten even them to grant her terrible powers. Not surprisingly, this has certain problems…

  • It’s blatant dark magic. It backlashes against good or neutral people who attempt to use it, attracts enemies and other troubles, and sometimes lets noxious entities from beyond ooze into reality if used without proper preparations. Even for those who are evil and use it only in secret… it will occasionally attract various problems or foul up their lives.
  • It forces her to show those powers respect, perform bizarre rituals in their honor, make various minor and occasional greater offerings to them, perform occasional services for them (although there are usually many possible tasks to pick from), or have to deal these powers malfunctioning and/or turning against her.
  • These powers are difficult (it costs twice as many uses, three times as many if both apply) to use against the truly innocent or upon holy ground.
  • She must maintain an altar to the ruinous powers and a stockpile of noxious ingredients – virgin’s blood, graveyard mold, vicious toxins, gibbering mouther slime, and so on – to use these powers. This may even require keeping a troublesome menagerie of monsters – and if her supplies are all destroyed or all her altars are desecrated, these powers will not work until she can fix that.

Thanks to these limitations, the entire package counts as being Specialized for Reduced Cost. This may result in double-specialization if combined with restrictions on applicability or usage.

  • Negative Energy Channeling: 1 + 2 x (Cha Mod) uses per day at +2 Intensity, Corrupted/may not command the undead (10 CP). This gives Granny a minimum intensity of 8 (10 Hit Dice +2 Purchased -4 if she rolls a “1″) – which is generally enough. If you don’t want to roll, just assume a “5″ and give her a standard intensity of 9).
  • Shadowmaster, Specialized for Reduced Cost/only for use with the Shades spell, below. (At her current level and up, this effectively makes the effects produced by Shades 100% real – saving the game master any number of headaches over partially real effects. 3 CP).
  • 1d6+2 (6) Mana with Spell Enhancement, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / only to reduce the effective level and boost the casting level of her Conversion effects, only one mana point may be spent on each when doing so (9 CP).
    • This allows Granny to boost her effective level to 13 (hit dice + 3) (or 15 after her Tttoo) for conversion purposes (high enough to use sixth level effects safely) and bring her ninth level effects down to level six so that she can use them at the cost of 2 Mana. In effect, she can use three of her great spells per encounter.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/only to recharge the Mana in her Spell Enhancement pool, above (4 CP).
  • Conversion (To a set of four sixth level spells – although they’re actually ninth level, and so she must spend Mana to reduce their level to actually cast them, 15 CP). Such spells have a save DC of 29.
  • Malignant Tongue of the Harridan: L9 Greater Invocation (Maledictions) / creates any one effect of the Malediction spell template of up to L8.

Here we have the signature power of a wicked witch; the ability to lay all kinds of curses – ranging from troublesome to catastrophic – on people, places, and groups. Granny’s eighth level curses can be removed with a Wish or Miracle or some equivalent, (but not lesser spells and effects), through Godfire, by heading to Nine Hells and confronting and dealing with the (invariably major) entity powering said curse, and through whatever release conditions are built into the curse. They can usually be suppressed to some degree by remaining on holy ground due to the “increased cost on holy ground” modifier (although Granny might have anticipated that, and doubled up to avoid it). Granny can use curses to transform people into obedient monsters, but their CR will count against her Leadership score. When cursing the land – perhaps to make fields of magical poppies that put people to sleep – Pathfinder’s Curse Terrain spell effects (Horror Adventures) are easy references.

Granny is capable of using her Chaos Magic to remove curses of up to the sixth level – but she has no way of removing her most potent curses. Fortunately, she’s intelligent enough to restrict herself somewhat if there’s any real chance that she’ll want to undo a curse later on.

  • Call Of The Twisted Forest: Summon Natures Ally IV, Amplify +1 (Templated; the creatures may be given 32 CP worth of extra abilities – normally from among the ten minor templates listed below), Persistent +4 (24 Hour Duration), Amplify +1 (Linked; the summoner is aware of that the creatures learn and do and may communicate with them at ranges of up to ten miles), Amplify +2 (Increased numbers, starting from the effective base of sixth level – allowing the user to summon 1d4+1 creatures of the same type from the Summon Natures Ally IV list, 2d4 creatures from the SNA III list, 3d4 from the SNA II list, or 4d4 from the SNA I list), -3 (7+ levels of built-in Metamagic) = L9.
    • The available templates are Aerial, Aquatic, Armored, Chthonic, Dire, Flaming, Forestal (for intelligent summons only, provides fey knight powers), Ghostly, Noble (an exceptionally fine specimen, suitable for a king), Plague-Ridden, Primal, and Venomous. Yes. Granny can indeed summon up 2d4 Aerial Apes to go forth and do her bidding – or, for that matter, a pack of 4d4 plague-ridden wolves, or 1d4+1 dire bears, or 4d4 flaming eagles/firebirds, or 2d4 Ghost Lions, or any of six-hundred-odd other combinations.
  • Whistle Down The Wind: Greater Invocation of Weather Magic (allowing effects of up to L7)
    • Granny is generally much better at making troublesome and dangerous weather than she is at making nice days – but what can you expect of a wicked witch? She can also use her Weathermonger ability to specifically target weather effects – calling down lightning on someone’s head or steering a tornado through an oppressive rulers palace.
  • Shades.
    • Thanks to her Shadowmastery ability, the effects she calls forth are 100% real.

This is a very powerful set of spells – although, as noted earlier, Granny can only use three of them before taking a break to recharge since she needs to spend a point of mana to bring their spell levels down to six and another point to get her caster level up to where she can safely cast a sixth level spell. As a general rule Granny will cast Call Of The Twisted Forest each morning so as to have a set of sentinels out (and she’ll do it again if she needs some minions), control weather (and a little witchcraft to guide it) will help hold up any assault, the Malignant Tongue of the Harridan lets her weaken attackers (usually through familiars). She’ll usually reserve Shades to escape with since it covers both teleportation and a wide variety of barriers and diversions.

Hatred’s Weal Path:

  • Dark Awakening, Specialized for Reduced Cost / The Undead Creation function can only create immaterial undead that Granny can fit into her Leadership allotment (3 CP). As a rule, Granny much prefers living servants – and so her only real use for this ability is as another option for coming back if she gets killed.
  • Shadow Casting, Corrupted for Reduced Cost, Specialized for Increased Effect (each shadow has a base level of 2 without an XP cost and saves 100 XP if a higher level is desired. They gain the Mystic Link ability with Granny with the Communications, Power, Summons, and Travel options) / The user may only create (Cha Mod) Shadows at any one time and may only have them possess normal animals or magical beasts, if without a host they can do nothing but return to their summoner to be re-embodied (4 CP).
    • Granny will pretty much invariably have one standing by to pull her out of any jam. They’re also her stand-ins and her primary method of long-range attack; she has one go near her targets and channels one of her major spells through – possibly having the familiar project a witchcraft-illusion of her (or perhaps someone else entirely) if she wishes to communicate or make an impression – but she will never expose herself to danger if it can be avoided. Granny hasn’t survived some twenty generations of adventurers coming against her by being stupid.

This is a major disconnect in many games. They’re often set in worlds with thousands of years of backstory, lurking elder evils that were old before the rise of civilization, and ancient mysteries – all of which a group of player characters will shred within a few years. Now I’m willing to give the player characters some credit; they probably really are the chosen ones or something – but that still tells us that those ancient mysteries and evils have survived thousands of years of non-player character adventurers trying to get rid of them. So even conceding something special about the current player characters that makes it possible, it seems appropriate to make pulling off those victories really, REALLY, difficult – and that’s “plan, gather resources, prepare, and do a lot of work” difficult, not “tough encounter” difficult.

  • Call Inner Demons, Specialized for Increased Effect (Construct Level = Intensity) / The summoner does not gain any bonuses when the construct kills something and cannot manifest a construct of above level eight (6 CP).
    • While a construct that lasts for ten minutes can be a fairly effective tool or minion, Granny tends to make one with the Class-C Enveloping modifier if she’s expecting a confrontation. Picking up an extra 118 HP, +19 Natural Armor, two slam attacks at +25 for 1d10+16, 10′ Reach, Str 39, and seven additional abilities – perhaps Flight, Semisentient (to carry her away if she is somehow incapacitated), Tunneling, Boosted Flight (to 60′), +2 Slam Attacks, Fast Healing II, and one Class-C ability – perhaps Dimension Slide as a move action, or Natural Invisibility, or the ability to become Ethereal at will – is pretty good.

Hand of Darkness Path:

  • Shadowmastery: This is pretty simple. You turn out the lights and gain Shadowsense. Thanks to Circle of Power, below, this affects a 55-foot radius (6 CP).
  • Fearspeaker, Specialized/only affects those who know at least some of the legends of the Dark Enchantress (3 CP).
    • Granny doesn’t usually bother with this very much; if she’s making a public appearance in her Dark Enchantress persona, usually with various grim special effects, any sensible lower-level types in the area will probably be terrified anyway – just as they probably will be in the presence of any other obviously excited-and-dangerous higher level warrior or spellcaster.
  • The Dark Veil. The passive ability to conceal her true identity and keep that separate from the persona she projects with her Method Acting disguise skill trick is the real prize here – but being able to intervene and then make people forget all about you is wonderfully useful (6 CP).
  • Nightmare, Specialized/only for Phantasmal Killer. Sharing her nightmarish visions of the dark powers that lurk beyond the gates of reality is too much for most minds to bear (3 CP).
  • Vanishing Shadows. Selective memory erasure that makes people suggestible. Pretty much the perfect way to deal with any inconvenient questions. What politician could resist? (6 CP).

The Boundless Realms Path:

  • Circle of Power (Specialized and Corrupted, Only for Hand of Darkness powers, only for Shadowmastery (Calling Down the Dark), The Dark Veil (Oblivious Wave), and Nightmare (Nightmare Storm Technique), 2 CP).

With a base cost of 80 CP, Invoking The Ruinous Powers costs a total – after Specialization – of 40 CP. That’s a lot of power for 40 CP of course, but then it is a limited set of highly specific abilities with serious backlash issues.

Next up: Granny’s Rulership, Miscellaneous Abilities, and Equipment.

The Jovian Hauntings

Now that they’ve caught the troublemakers, the Shadowed Galaxy player group wanted the backstory on this particular mission – and since they currently have the resources and sources to get it pretty easily, I’m saving time by posting it rather than spending a lot of game time on a question-and-answer session.

2186: After nearly sixty years of discussion, an extremely low-priority program for the study of conditions Jupiter’s upper atmosphere and radiation belts finally gets funded. Justifications include looking for life on Jupiter, planetary science research, and looking for and analyzing exotic materials found orbiting in Jupiter’s high-energy radiation belts.

2189: Construction begins on Lima, a station designed to function indefinitely in close orbit around Jupiter. The design incorporates high-energy magnetic shielding systems to help divert high-energy charged particles from Jupiter’s radiation belts and electromagnetic coupling with Jupiter’s magnetic field to allow minor orbital adjustments to be made by running current loops through the station.

2196: Solar Minima. The Rathhan – primarily psychic entities which use bits of an exotic material which can convert electromagnetic energy into psychic energy as a power source and physical anchor – orbit near the upper limits of Jupiter’s atmosphere, feeding on the electromagnetic flux Jupiter constantly generates and slowly harvesting the elements they need to grow.

2197: Lima is completed, and begins the transit from high earth orbit to low jovian orbit.

2201: The inhabitants of Lima begin their scientific work as initial tests, experiments, and observations are made

2202: Lima is takes up it’s standard orbit near jupiter, the remaining scientific staff arrives, and the various research projects go into full operation.

2210: Solar Maxima. Several major solar flares and significant mass ejection from the sun occurs as solar activity hits a 74-year high. Jupiter’s radiation belts soak up some of the particle flux.

2211: Jupiter’s radiation belts reach their energy peaks, rich with hurtling ions, high energy nuclei, and exotic particles. The Rathhan begin their “seasonal” migration, spiraling out into the radiation belts on psychic wings to transmute their harvest into paralithic “flesh”, to feed on the belts rich reserves of other energies, and to socialize. Across the solar system a few sensitive humans have occasional strange dreams of mighty lightning-storms, strange powers, and soaring flight through near-limitless skies high above a clouded world. As it has before this leads to a few visionary tales and nothing much else.

2212: The orbits of the Rathhan approach the orbit of the Lima. The outer edge of their usual range will briefly overlap the orbit of the Lima before it begins to contract once again as the energies of the Solar Maxima fade and “winter” approaches. Among humans, the lack of any radically new results from observing Jupiter’s energy peaks leads to questions about continuing funding for the Liam.

2213a: Three Rathhan are temporarily ensnared in an incredibly intense, and utterly unexpected, “knot” of magnetic force. Before they can escape, they are isolated from most of the electromagnetic flux they feed upon and are further entrapped in solid matter, Much of their available energy reserves are expended on their initial psychic attempts to call for help. These are not successful.

2213b: The crew of the Lima pick up three major lumps and a collection of fragments of exotic material. A quick check shows the material to be Rhimvite – a fairly well known type (albeit of rare purity). It is classified as low priority and stored in the materials lab complex for detailed examination next time an appropriate specialist is available. Much more attention is given to a wave of malaise and psychological problems that is overtaking the crew, and the minor samples are quickly filed and forgotten.

Rhimvite is an exotic stone, slightly ductile, greenish-black in its normal state. It is sensitive to psionic energy; when exposed to it it turns blue-black and emits a bit of RF. Interestingly, if exposed to massive RF fields it turns white and starts leaking a little psionic energy. It’s mostly used to test for psionic potential. You give a kid a handful of little spheres, more and more impure. The more a kid can get to change color, the stronger his current potential. It’s also good as a practice material, since it shows if you’re making progress.

2214: The Rathhan, while low on energy, detect minds thinking on radically different bands impossibly close at hand. Attempts to communicate are made – but, lacking any good understanding of those minds, is mostly limited to projection emotions and basic concepts

2216: With the crew reporting an ever-increasing epidemic of hallucinations and “hauntings” (dead relatives pleading for release from hell, assorted mythical monsters, and some religious “visitations” – none very coherent) it is eventually concluded that some combination of radiation leakage and the huge magnetic field were affecting the crew. Initial testing of this idea easily demonstrated that the crew recovered when removed for a bit, and new crewmen soon started reporting similar symptoms.

The Lima acquires a reputation for being “haunted”. Combined with questions about contamination, and the ongoing doubts about the worth of the entire program, this results in the Lima being put under computer control and abandoned by the human crew.

2217: With the other minds vanished, and no immediate prospect of rescue, the three Rathhan aboard Lima enter hibernation to conserve energy, in hopes of either accumulating enough to escape with or of rescue.

2246: Citing a lack of significant results over two decades, and the expense of maintenance missions, the Lima is put into standby mode.

2278: Michar Guttvield, a prospector-scavenger, acquires a used ship, fitted out with massive amounts of radiation shielding by its paranoid prior owner. With all that extra mass making it inefficient and limiting its cargo capacity it had been almost unsaleable – and so was cheap. Looking for a profitable use that was easier than stripping the shielding away, Michar recalls the Lima, and decides to take advantage of the shielding for a quick trip to see what he could grab.

2279: Over the course of several trips Michar investigates the Lima, and finds reasonably good pickings. Some of the equipment was still saleable. There was even some Rhimvite in the materials science lab – and even minor and impure bits could be quickly turned into testing kits for kids which were worth good money.

Hauling some bits of the Rathhan’s energy-collecting physical structure out of confinement and surrounding them with other minds (even if they were alien and very hard to communicate with) soon awoke the Rathhan, who remained connected to even fairly distant bits of “themselves”.

Michar, however, was a functional, if fairly minor psychic – and proved capable of crude communication. Michar was, however, a bit paranoid about aliens – and layered “his” find in remote-controlled explosives to make sure that he had a trump card. That would destroy ANYTHING!… And his confidence in that came across to the Rathhan – although he was willing to give them more energy to work with he wanted something from THEM.

The first few station “scooters”that they brought in in the process of reclaiming their fragments made a way they could “repay” him while gradually getting back out into free space quite obvious – so Michar brought in Andrew Blake, a more mechanically-minded associate to help him run his new, powered-by-enslaved aliens, vehicle chop shop.

The profits have been good so far, even if Michar has gradually been getting quite a bit crazier – and he wasn’t all that stable to start with.

2280: With the “Chop Shop” business getting into full swing, the Rathhan have learned to communicate somewhat – and Kids in the Jovian Stations have started to report encounters with cartoons and various other popular images which the Rathhan are pulling straight out of their minds. Unfortunately, Michar has started putting booby traps all over Lima station – and Andrew is more or less encouraging him; the scam can’t last forever and blowing up Lima will cover the tracks nicely.

2281: The player-characters begin their investigation into an odd combination of reports of cartoons showing up, weird monsters that then vanish, and stolen station scooters.

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CCVIII – The City Of Winds

Once the Potawatomi had gathered wild onion, and garlic, and rice, and the products of the swamp and prairie on the borders of the lake. But the Wheel turned – and first a trading post, and then a town, and then a city rose.

Vibrant. Active. A crossroads of trade and activity.

Yet ever the Wheel turned. The city fell in fire – but rose once more, rooted in railways and rivers and the great lakes, building towers and factories.

And the Wheel turned. Depression and crime struck at the city, and the tides which had once swept people and industries to it ebbed. Great portions of the web of rails and routes that had made it great had rusted and closed,

Yet the Wheel turned.

Chicago had all too many closed, abandoned, and decaying rail-yards. Great masses of rusting steel – once machinery, rail-cars, rails, and even locomotives – too dangerous and unwieldy for their scrap value to pay for the labor of salvaging them. Valueless until the city should rise once more to need room or rails.

Someone had bought several of them, bringing in private contractors, and restoring them – yet it all seemed pointless; those lines were closed, unneeded – useless, save perhaps to some devotee of rail. Even the local gangs were too “cool” to take all the nonsense seriously – and mostly smart enough to know that fiddling around in the train-yards behind the backs of the professionals was stupidly dangerous – but the contractors were (weirdly enough) rather soft touches…

All they’d been installing was a few stone pillars and a path to nowhere along an old railway sideline – probably to put scenic exhibits along. Still, the reopening of the old station, if only as a museum or some such, promised free entertainment and refreshments.

A few people were taking it more seriously. Some had signed up for the promise of “gates”. No matter how unlikely that sounded, there were always the lost and desperate. Others… had felt the use of Essence, and the power being exerted to reshape the rail-yards. Enough power that those absurd promises of “Gates” might have something to them – presuming that they weren’t a cover for an invasion from the underworld or some such.

The city officials were a mix. A few knew enough to take it seriously, many more knew that a grand opening party was worth attending even if no obvious payoffs, or tricks to expose, cover-ups to be bribed into, or opportunity for local profit has yet appeared… A couple of the local dragon-bloods (water aspects, mostly favoring Larceny and Bureaucracy) had heard enough to think it worth their time, and wished to corner this gate before others could! But first… it had to open!

And the Wheel turned.

It was that or explode – and that too lay in the balance of destiny.

In Yu-Shan, time and reality twisted, ripped and reformed by floods of warring essence, erupting into pockets of raw Wyld and cascading years where even the Loom of Fate working it it’s own realm with the direct backing of the Maiden’s could no longer sustain causality. Still, while the results of many battles – horrific struggles against Deathlords, neverborn Kaiju, creatures of the Wyld, and confused imports from Alien Creations – were as yet indeterminate, the overall course of events was clear. The Song of Creation filled the air, echoed by the uncounted voices of gods, men, and stranger beings and sweeping around, over, and under such struggles as if they were mere rocks in a mighty flood.

As the Song reached the edges of the dome it passed though both the ancient gates to the Blessed Isle or Earth, and the gates to other places, and the erupting galactic gates – spreading over more than a hundred worlds. On ninety-six worlds – the seventy-two prepared for colonization and twenty-four more prepared as nature preserves – a dozen gate-manses apiece went into operation as planned. Each gate to Earth completed the geomancy of the security-and-service manses that had been constructed there, bringing THEM into operation as well.

And the Song of Creation spread further still, gifting the worlds with health, youth, and long, long, life. Six of North America’s nearly 248 gates opened in Chicago, where the security and support manses had been designed in an interlocking and mutually resonant grid – providing power, weather moderation, and various other services for the entire metropolitan area.

One was at the old Chicago Junction Terminal on Lakeshore Drive… Now parklike, save for the restored old terminal, junction lines, and turning circles, there was some staff on hand to open things up.

And precisely on time a vortex of energy swirled into existence at the end of the train tracks and the “path to nowhere”, the stone pillars became an arch, several underground structures opened up – and the gate opened, revealing an early-morning vista of mountains, valleys, rich forests, a glittering city on the hills above the wide river that watered the valley, and flocks of birds and animals roaming the land and the air above it. The path extended to several structures, including a warehouse, a stockyard, a “general store” or “trading post”, and a yard full of classical covered wagons – while the train tracks extended towards the city.

The warding, reconstructive, and protective spells that the Song was carrying had been meant to sustain and rebuild Yu-Shan despite the battle in it’s midst. Across cities that were merely run down, the effect of spells designed to rebuild after a war of Gods, Exalts, Deathlords, and Kaiju were quite dramatic.

And a very classical wood-burning train (with the locomotives firebox and boilers thamuaturgically augmented so as to actually need very little wood or water) gently chugged it’s way through, to take one of the circle turn-arounds and pull up to the station.

And save for the music, there was silence – and agape staring. Even the essence users were reeling as otherworldly dragon-lines linked to Earths – and rank-5 demesnes with preconstructed manses flared to life beneath their feet, sending a wave of essence coursing across the entire city!

Perhaps most importantly… the Song carried with it an impression of Charles, of his granting relief from all injuries, and of the (rather absurd) level of compassion that fueled it.

The stillness lasted more than long enough for the thoroughly inhuman guides and gate guardians (Anthro-canine-metallic amalgams, Coatl, and Kickaha) to take up their stations while the security manses began generating their own staff.

A people few backed away – they’d seen some crazy stuff, but not like THIS – but most found the music thoroughly reassuring…

Not too surprisingly, the Dragon-Blooded agents were the first to regain their composure.

(Inukami Train Conductor – as dryly and matter-of-factually as he could possibly manage) “We have two hundred and forty-three names on our first-run passenger list for the city of Artolis, leaving at least seven seats open for additional passengers on the first run. Actual settlers do have priority over journalists and agents who intend to report back in. The train will make the run every six hours for now. Those individuals and groups who have applied for homesteading packages and seek to claim their own lands in the vicinity of Artolis should check in with the office on the other side of the gate to pick up their supplies, livestock, and vehicles. The settlement guides will assist in locating and setting up land-claims.”

(Young Kickaha, much more mischievously) “And you can land on Europa if you want to, but this train doesn’t go there!”

Quite a few gang members were already pushing forward and heading down the path… Whoa! They needed to get their stuff! It was REAL! And maybe they should pass the word around their neighborhoods too…

The Exalts and thaumaturgists in the vicinity were noting that both ends of the gate fed through newly-activated rank-5 indestructible manses. A teenage boy had built THIS? Certainly they had gotten an impression, and whoever it was was absurdly compassionate and powerful, but most Exalts couldn’t build a level-5 Manse… Perhaps one of these Solars who were supposed to be running around now? And he was apparently freely offering new planets and supplies to ANYONE who wanted a fresh start – apparently including those idiotic ganger ne’er do wells… not that their presence didn’t cause a lot of problems for higher-end activity.

Charles rather thought that a simpler life would help a lot with that – although, to be fair, his basis for that notion was pure general theory.

Several Terrestrials had put in for land claims as well. Why not? At best it was free, and at worst it wouldn’t have mattered.

And it looked like the pioneering supplies included assorted thaumaturgical talismans and even the occasional minor artifact, even if it WAS mostly set up for homesteading. That was interesting! Not as impressive as whatever links were powering the gate, but there were at least hundreds of times as many minor artifacts as gates… Besides, since there WAS land available, it would be best to go through and claim the best spots before the others got back! They needed the best land with the best view!

The thought was obvious, and the staff silently wished them good luck with that. There were a LOT of nice spots on an optimized planet. Even if they just wanted to be near the city (and it’s high-end service manses) there should be lots of choices…

A few were sensible enough to ask. They wanted someplace secure and defensible, so the staff provided several likely locations – throwing in geomantic surveys as needed.

With that kind of cooperation… the terrestrials asked for the best Water demesne on the planet – and were deeply shocked to find that a fine selection of rank-5’s was available.

What” Had these creatures already mapped out the planet? They HAD to ask!

(Map Expert) “Well, the planet WAS designed; and so the geomancy is just as optimized as the ecology and physical resources!”

(Terrestrial) “Designed? How long did this take to build?”

(Map Expert) “The planet only took a few minutes, the ley line network came up to full power within the next three months – which let us bring the gate- and city-manses online”.

A FEW MINUTES? For a PLANET? Just how powerful was this “Charles”?

The staff cheerfully pulled up some audiovisual records of the terraforming – which revealed that he HAD used an existing lump of rock at least – but the planetary transformation was still gob-smacking! Of course…. they were talking to a rather high-end magical construct – that seemed to be manse-powered itself…

(Terrestrial) “So… how many Manses has this “Charles” made?”

(Map Expert) “Well, he makes them as needed, so there’s no real count.”

(Terrestrial) “What, like utility artifacts?”

(Map Expert) “Are they really that different on this scale?”

(Terrestrial, after a brief and thoughtful pause) “I suppose not… I suppose that we had best take a look, and perhaps see the effects of this terraforming for ourselves!”.

Meanwhile the local governmental reps were talking to the station clerk. They really hadn’t taken all the ads seriously, and while they’d gotten some advance warning from the local Terrestrials that something was happening, they were startled to see the extent.

(Anthropomorphic Golden Retriever running the check-in counter at the station) “Can I help you gentlemen?”

Now that was WEIRD… and it didn’t seem like an animatronic or a costume, It seemed to be breathing and everything! Still… their sources had said that there would be a LOT of weird stuff – and while this was VERY weird indeed, if it could help with the city’s financial issues, it was well worth a look.

The police were bypassing the line however.

(Golden Retriever Clerk) “Do you need something? (Suggestively) There IS a line…”

Oh boy. No one was going to believe THIS incident report! Despite the pictures!

(Sergeant) “Well… We need to have a look around here, to see that everything is up to code! We’ll need a tour of the… facility? And Explanations! Definitely explanations…”

That got them a Coatl – and a fairly straightforward tour: training setups for people who needed more skills before starting out, the supply stockpiles, maps, advice on setting up – and otherwise a good look at a fairly conventional train station and a statement that “Charles believes that people need more room, and new lands to explore – and so he is providing them. This station and the gate system are self-maintaining and close to perpetual”.

The police were having a bit of trouble deciding how to approach the situation. They weren’t trained for what was obviously a first contact scenario of sorts! And other planets were certainly out of their jurisdiction anyway… were they going to be dealing with trans-galactic commuters? The “Gate” did seem to be instantaneous… Would the city try to annex a planet like it would a new development? Was there even a government there beyond this “Charles” announcing “Here’s some stuff! Don’t hurt each other! Have fun!”? Just how much of Chicago’s population was going to abruptly move out?

Not to mention the “everything is suddenly new and shiny” seemed to go a LONG ways past the station-park! Pretty much every report from around the city was of things being cleaned, repaired, reinforced, and restored!

How many people would THAT put out of work? But then… they had a brand new city and world to move to, where apparently much of what you needed was free, training programs were sponsored, and everything was very nice.

Wait. There was no breach of the peace going on and there was no law against opening gates or giving pioneering equipment away. This was POLICY. Not police work! They could safely shove it all off on the bureaucracy!

And so they did.

That would, indeed, take some time… the bureaucrats would want more information, and to meet with Charles, and to investigate the new planet, and perhaps even to send someone to Aden. City bureaucracy being what it was, it would take months, if not years, to implement – unless, of course, someone went under the table (which was probably inevitable).

And then there would be the feds.

Across the world there were local attempts to cordon off some of the gates – but there were too many worldwide, scattered over every nation, for that to become more than a very temporary procedure in most places – and the Inukami staff, Kickaha guides, and Coatl could spread out as the security manses generated their own staff and guardians to bring in those who wished to emigrate across the cosmos regardless of minor opposition.

Fortunately for the Chicago authorities peace of mind, the Gate-Guardians were quite cooperative in some ways. They were happy to tell those who asked that the destination planets were situated in otherwise uninhabited Hubble Volumes; so no immigration was likely for the moment. They also proved to be fully cooperative about restraining (and turning over to the authorities) lunatics, serious or violent criminals, and so on; they were screening to some degree anyway. There would be home-grown lunatics quite soon enough, there was no need to send any.

Unfortunately for the authorities peace of mind… even casual estimates on how many people would be leaving were fairly high – and the staff had no objection to simply giving pickpockets, shoplifters, and so on a bit of re-education and a fresh start!

Of course in actual war zones… things were going to be a bit trickier. As well as in the places where unwanted people were being dumped, or there was fighting over the gates, or oppressed populations wanted to escape, and so on. Charles would have them cared for of course – but the politics was going to be a lot tricker than he had hoped! The turmoil was already starting in the middle east and elsewhere as oppressed minorities, refugees, and similar groups were exiled, evacuated, or taking refuge through the gates! (Including many of the crazier folk from the middle east whom Leon hadn’t gotten to yet… He hadn’t cared if he had to transform 80% of the population. He was going to have a sane population that was willing to accept magic, the fey, and being ruled by a god-king or he would know the reason why! There had been insurgencies, ISIS, and maniacs everywhere!)

Meanwhile, back in Aden… that Raksha lady – Nimue’ – was back! She had returned to the Mardi Gras manse ans was waiting for him – and she HAD done him a favor, so it was only fair to find out what she wanted!

(Nimue’) “Ah, it is you, Aden? Your work was successful?”

(Charles) “So far anyway! It is nice to see you of course!”

(Nimue’) “I am glad! And I am glad to see you! Now, we must discuss our marriage!”

(Charles, with considerable alarm) “Uhrm?!?!?!”

He ran a quick check! He didn’t remember agreeing to get married!

No… no he HADN’T.

So why…

(Charles doubtfully) “I don’t really recall proposing… why do you want to get married?”

(Nimue’) “I must keep you from marrying the Celestial Plain! I have eyes only for you!”

(Charles) “Uhm… I really wasn’t planning to get married any time soon!” (By, of course, a kids notion of “soon”).

Oh geez! Had she seriously fixated on HIM? It kind of looked like it! AND she thought that Yu-Shan was the competition!

He consulted Malinda!

(Malinda) “Dearie? I think you’ve gotten caught up in her narrative! She might want to marry you and become a part of your nature.”

(Charles, planatively) “But I already have lots of chaos in my nature… I don’t see how she could add herself to it though!”

(Malinda) “You DO have many, many Graces that would be suitable for making regions of a freehold! Maybe she thinks she can become a part of you that way?”

(Charles) “But… they’re bonded to the poles!

Well, their narrative shaped everything about them and what wents on around them. He tried to figure out what it was with observation and passive detection!

It looked like… she was fascinated by, or fixated on, HIM – and was carefully scrutinizing him for any flaws (and not really finding many). She… “knew” (believed?) that he was a Primordial, and was also performing a careful study of the environment, and trying to figure out ways to turn him even more to the Wyld’s service. Basically… she wanted to be an associate, with a formal bond to make sure that she got listened to and protected. And if that let her influence him further towards chaos (however unlikely that was), that would be a bonus! And if she could show up another Primordial, all the better.

Charles didn’t really think that Yu-Shan even understood that idea, much less had such a plan – the primordials were pretty firmly in “sufficient unto themselves” territory – but he supposed that it was possible! Besides… no one ever said Raksha were rational.

Well, a formal connection to a Raksha would have downsides, but would something like oath-friendship or an advisory position be sufficient? Because he was much too young to get married! Even if she was pretty set on it!

He let her know that some form of courtship agreement was as far as he would go at the moment – but that he was perfectly willing to confirm that he had no intention of “Marrying” Yu-Shan! (She was busy with her own stuff at the moment anyway!).

And that satisfied Nimue’… for now.

The Chronicles Of Heavenly Artifice CCVII – Meanwhile, On The Sidelines

It wasn’t a big order – and it was in the “submitted by random persons” pile – but an Everlasting Flask of Alcohol? Who wanted THAT? And WHY? A pub owner? It… appeared to be one of the wealthier people in Aden. One “Ubab Shamoun”, one of the refugees from the Middle East. He’d come to Aden to escape militants… a muslim, but possibly not that observant?

Charles called him. That didn’t take up much of any processing power…

(Charles) “Mr Shamoun? I have a request from you. While that is not, in itself, a problem – although I do not guarantee their fulfillment – this one is a bit… problematic. It’s also unspecified; did you want rubbing alcohol? Ethanol for fuel? There are a LOT of kinds of alcohol.”

(Ubab) “Hello, my friend! I wanted a flask to hold my wine!”

(Charles, with some puzzlement) “What, to transport it in? Or just to disguise it?”

(Ubab) “No, to drink! Don’t tell me someone of your power is a teetotaler! I left partially because of that!”

(Charles) “Er… but don’t you follow a religion which says that drinking is punishable by death and Allah’s condemnation?”

Some of the Kickaha who were quietly bodyguarding Charles snickered. So naive not to think that Muslim’s would sneak around the rules a bit!

To Charles it was the logical disconnect; you subscribed to the Islamic belief system to gain Paradise. If you drank, then according to those beliefs, you wouldn’t gain Paradise. So… if you want to drink, why be a Muslim? It wasn’t as if going with another faith would make it WORSE, and there was always the chance that the other faith would be the right one…

The Kickaha caught THAT quite easily – you didn’t need to read MINDS, just FACES (if so many of the would-be manipulators weren’t convinced that the boys reactions HAD to be a carefully contrived front he wouldn’t be able to keep any secrets at ALL. Charles could barely even manage to say “No Comment!” They HAD to get him out more! He seemed to have no concept of a “social front” at all; Lacking all reasonable fears meant he had no notion of conforming out of fear” either. He just did it to avoid upsetting people!

(Ubab) “I’m Orthodox, my friend. Much less meddlesome!”

Which had presumably been another reason for coming to Aden.

(Charles) “Oh, so it’s just naughty in that system? Well that makes more sense! It’s still really bad for you though! Alcohol is a selective neurotoxin, and causes damage to the central nervous system… Wait, is that another reason why you live here? So that that sort of thing will regenerate?”

(Ubab) “I haven’t had any of the pains in months. Truly, THIS is Paradise.”

Oh dear! That wasn’t exactly what he’d put healing into Aden for… OK, Ubab wasn’t hurting anyone else, and he was only wasting his own potential – not hurting himself otherwise – but this was just not right! No matter how contented Ubab was as an alcoholic, people should learn and grow, not just get happily drunk! But he didn’t want to make him sad, even if denying him his addiction would be better for him – and it wasn’t like he couldn’t get alcohol anyway; he just wanted it to be more convenient, so that he wouldn’t even have to leave the house!

Ah.

(Charles) “Very well! I shall bestow on you a Flask of Wisdom…”

Flask of Wisdom (Artifact **): A Flask of Wisdom produces an ever-varying selection of marvelous “wines”, fortified with vitamins, minerals, fully nourishing, and with minor healing properties – enough to hold arthritis and similar ailments at bay and to reduce the effect of mundane illnesses. While non-alcoholic, and with no deleterious physical effects (and certainly no hangovers), the “wine” is magically intoxicating – but works best when shared socially and freely, and only works at all when the user makes reasonably regular efforts at self-development or helping others – studying, teaching, learning to socialize, caring for children, whatever. The user will come to understand that within a few days of coming to own the flask – well before the “reasonably regular” requirement kicks in. A Flask of Wisdom has no attunement cost.

There! Endless bribery in a flask! After all, it wasn’t asking for anything MAJOR – just some slight regular effort. And well within what even the Orthodox faith required.

Ubab accepted the present… He was an ordinary man after all, and really didn’t devote any thought as to why it might be labeled a “Flask of Wisdom”. And, perhaps, he would grow. At least as long as he stayed in Aden, he had time.

On the way back there was a young man – of about his apparent age waiting for him.

(Charles, while checking for his name and such) “Oh hello!… Do you need something?

Hm. “Per Rosing”, a VERY recent arrival from a gate in Scandinavia.

(Charles) “Mr Rosing is it?”

(Per) “Hello, Charles! I went through that Yu-Shan place first. What a bunch of crazy sights! The lions directed me to one of your gates there, and I’ve been waiting for you. I wanted to talk to you about the colonization scheme!”

(Charles) “Well… the gates are already open (since the Song of Creation of course)… what did you want to talk about?”

(Per) “I wanted to see one of these worlds, and maybe get a tour?”

(Charles) “Well… most of the guides are busy leading colonists out at the moment, and a tour of a planet would take a long time – but there are several gates with rail lines to some of the new cities… If you just want a look around, perhaps one of those would do? Fifty or sixty miles of scenery, a look around a magical city, and a bit of exploration around it might be suitable.”

(Per, looking oddly disappointed) “I think I’ll do that. Will you be around after I’m through?”

That seemed a little odd really. After all, the papers on Earth had been FULL of planet descriptions and directions for going there for months now. Was there something more subtle going on here?

(Per) “If you don’t mind me asking before I go… why all this? It can’t be out of pure generosity.”

(Charles, with some surprise) “Why not? I don’t recall any rules about it… It was a certain amount of trouble, but while I had to invest some years in developing the resources and abilities it required I now I have them available for other projects… It was time well spent I think!”

(Per) “I don’t think most of Earth’s governments prepared for that.”

(Charles, indignantly) “Well I TOLD them!”

(Per) “But would they move fast enough even if they did take it seriously? The powers that be have hidden things for a long time.”

(Charles, sighing) “Well, all they needed to do was let people through…”

(Per) “It’s unstoppable now! So, I’ll take a look at one of these worlds, and then come back. Okay?”

(Charles) “OK!”

And he got… a wink and a hug???? That was weird! And very startling! And more than a bit uncomfortable… Normally only Grandpa and the girls spent a lot of time hugging him!

He couldn’t avoid stiffening up as he ran a magical check to see if this was a diversion from something sneaking up or something – or suppress the faint glow of defensive spells.

(Per) “Oh, right. You’re probably worried about other magical threats. Sorry! I’ll get going!”

Charles was mildly surprised and somewhat interested… most normal humans wouldn’t have spotted that at all.

(Charles) “Oh no worries! It was just startlement!”

Per went off, slowly, leaving Charles scratching his head a bit. Sure, people did pointless things – but that just seemed a little… off. Maybe he was testing for something? But there didn’t seem to be an y active magic on him.

It never occurred to Charles that Per could have just been testing his reactions to physical contact – and that his results had been pretty clear; he obviously wasn’t used to men hugging him. It wasn’t like he’d ever given that much thought!

Charles decided to consult a bit. He wasn’t really all THAT good at reading motivations and such! But he had some friends who WERE good at it.

And the handiest bunch were the Kickaha who’d been playing bodyguard.

(Berri) “Uh . . . that was pretty gay, Charles. I think he might be into you.”

(Charles) “Erm? But… that doesn’t really work… Elzeard said that sort of thing was mostly reproductive behavior… Wait; is it just the social bonding aspect by itself?”

(Berri, blushing) “Uhm… I don’t really know either. What, you mean you didn’t realize people had sex for fun? Or lust?”

(Charles) “Well, yes… I just thought that it was usually opposite-sex pairs, since that really has to be the dominant instinct. Anything else would tend to breed itself out without a secondary aspect which kept up it’s frequency in the gene pool.”

(A chorus of half a dozen of the snarkier Kickaha, albeit in an affectionate and friendly manner) “NNNEEEEERRRRRDDDDD!”

(Berri) “That’s a little beyond me, Charles. Oh, geez. I’m going to have watch you more around girls now. Ever hear the term ‘gold digger?'”

(Charles) “Uhm… just looking for wealth? It’s not like there’s a shortage after all; just living in Aden is pretty comfortable!”

(Berri) “Yeah, but it could still happen if some girl who doesn’t know that comes in here.”

(Charles) “Well, it would probably be good to make sure that people who seem to be making approaches become subtly aware that they can be very comfortable without, well… paying for it by spreading their legs! We don’t really need that sort of thing!”

(Berri) “I’ll leave that up to you, boss. Um… what ARE you going to do about that guy, though? I think he picked up on it, but he’s got to be disappointed.”

(Charles) “Well, I never tried to guarantee that no one would ever be disappointed… If that was really what he wanted, he should have checked on how to arrange it; it’s not like the servants aren’t there to tell him… Although I’m not sure about what I’d tell him; even if you clean things, the physical arrangements sound kind of uncomfortable, at least on the… er… well… receiving end.”

(Berri, who happened to be female, a bit sardonically. Boys!) “I really wouldn’t know about that!”

(Charles) “It doesn’t sound like much fun!”

Per was back by eventually, looking impressed and a little chastened.

(Per) “You’re something… sorry if I made you feel awkward.”

(Charles, somewhat flustered) “Erm, well… if you were making an approach, most of the others doing that have been much more direct about it!”

(Per) “Oh. So you figured it out too. I assume you don’t go that way?”

(Charles) “Well, it sounds sort of messy and not all that much fun…”

(Per) “That’s how sex with girls sounds to me.” (Shrugging) “I’ll be in touch, though… or someone from the family, anyway. We were going to start a colony.”

(Charles, much more cheerily) “There’s lots of places for them!”

(Per) “Well, shake hands on it anyway?”

(Charles) “Certainly!”

Shadowed Galaxy Character Setup

Characters in the Shadowed Galaxy are presumed to be the survivors of a dystopian world and an even rougher career path. They’re tough and competent. They’re also mostly the beneficiaries of futuristic health care, diet, education, and training programs at some point (those who aren’t are the few who survived not getting that stuff, and are at least as tough). While they’re almost always Dystopian Survivor Humans, quite a few have some degree of genemods and cybrenetics, and a few (generally survivors of encounters with Idiotic relics and technologies) have templates or bizarre talents of one kind or another.

While it is, in theory, possible to play an alien, aliens who are capable of functioning in human societies are vanishingly rare. This basically falls under “negotiate with the game master”.

Attributes: Roll 4D6K3 seven times (discarding one) or use 28 Point Buy (“tougher campaign”).

All characters get the Low-Level Adventurer Template. To summarize, those affected get:

  • A -3 penalty on unskilled skill checks.
  • Very slow level advancement, by direct session-based character point awards rather than experience points. Succeeding in goals helps, but killing things and taking their stuff does not.
  • The status of valuable trouble magnets – they’re rare and find trouble everywhere they go.
  • A +3 bonus on five skills which suit their backgrounds and training. Sadly, this cannot be applied to active psionic or magical skills.
  • Extra hit points equal to [12 + (2 x Con Mod)].
  • Two minor special talents – one Class-A (roughly equivalent to the effects of a first level spell or power as adapted for a sci-fi setting) and one Class-B (roughly equivalent to the effects of a cantrip, also as adapted for a sci-fi setting). Possibilities suited to the Shadowed Galaxy include:

Class-A Talents:

  1. Advanced Aptitude: You get a +2 Bonus to apply to something. Attributes, AC, DR, Attacks, Damage, Saves, Movement (+10′ per +1), and Checks are all eligible. You can even split it into two +1 bonuses if you wish – or Corrupt or Specialize it to get it to +3 or +4 (on a particular group of skills, in a specific situation, with a particular type of weapon, etc). This is effectively a permanent, innate, bonus.
  2. Animal Affinity: You instinctively understand what animals want and can usually get them to do what you want.
  3. Bat Ears: You can hear extremely high and low frequency sounds, and can target unseen creatures within thirty feet without penalty with a successful listen check.
  4. Combat Intuition: As a swift action you may activate True Strike 2/Day, True Dodge 2/Day, and True Save 1/Day.
  5. Fast Healer: Your natural healing is doubled and scarring is eliminated.
  6. Fortunate: Whenever something is decided by chance within the game, you get two chances and may select which outcome you keep. Thus, for example, you will never draw the short straw.
  7. Goldberg: You may improvise a repair or component replacement on a device, whether it’s a spacecraft air recycler, a power generator, or a vehicle engine. Such improvisations are bulky, clumsy, and unreliable, but will work to some extent if the user manages to make a successful skill roll. Such repairs normally last some 1D6 days, but rush jobs (such as getting the engine working before the plane crashes) reduces the duration to 2D6 minutes. Each time the duration on a “Goldberged” repair runs out, there is a 1 in 6 chance that further attempts will be ineffective. Eventually, you simply have to do it right.
  8. Gun Bunny: You threaten all squares within your normal melee reach when wielding a gun as if it was a melee weapon and do not provoke attacks of opportunity when firing.
  9. Gymnast: You gain a +10 competence bonus to Acrobatics and Athletics checks.
  10. Hot Tempered: You may fly into a rage, in which you get a a +2 Morale Bonus to Str and Con, a +1 Moral Bonus on Will Saves, and a -2 penalty to AC.
  11. Hound’s Nose: You gain the Scent ability.
  12. Lethal Strike: Gain +2d6 Sneak Attack. This stacks with any purchased sneak attack.
  13. Light Sleeper: Any notable unfamiliar or unwelcome physical entity who comes within 20′ will automatically wake you up.
  14. Living On Your Nerves: You gain a +5 bonus on Initiative Checks
  15. Low-Light Vision: You can see twice as far as usual in low-light conditions.
  16. Mental Map: You can instinctively retrace your steps and never become lost.
  17. Psionic Aptitude: Gain +6 Power. You may develop Witchcraft, or even some Powers, with no formal training.
  18. Skill Expertise: You may roll twice, keeping the best result, with a chosen skill.
  19. Sniper’s Eyes: Gain +5 to Spot, range increments are increased by 50%.
  20. Toughness: Three points of any damage you take is converted to nonlethal damage.
  21. True Dreaming: If you have any ranks in the Sensitive skill, you will have occasional revealing or prophetic dreams.
  22. Unarmed Expertise: You gain +1 attack at your full BAB when fighting unarmed and are considered armed. Such attacks inflict 1d8 lethal or stunning damage at your option.
  23. Water Adaption: You gain a swim speed of 30′, can see clearly underwater, and can hold your breath for twice as long as usual. As a trivial benefit, you also don’t get wrinkled skin from water immersion.
  24. Weaponsmaster: You are proficient with any weapon you pick up.

Class B Talents:

  1. Bean Counter: You can count how many there are of something with a single glance.
  2. Diagnostic: With a few simple checks, you can reasonably accurately diagnose various injuries, diseases, and poisons.
  3. Fast Loader: As long as you have ammunition available and are free to move, reloading is not an action for you.
  4. Fast Draw: You may get objects out of pockets, off of belt loops, and similar as a free action.
  5. Herbalist: You may achieve results comparable to antibiotics, antitoxins, and various other drugs and salves with herbs and oils.
  6. Holdout: You may hide up to three small objects about your person. Short of a full strip-search and body cavity check, no one will be able to find them.
  7. Internal Compass: You never lose your bearings.
  8. Jumpstart: There’s never any startup delay when you start a system; it boots immediately, starts on the first try, and comes up to full power with little or no delay. Sadly, this won’t work on anything larger than a car.
  9. Knack: As per Advanced Aptitude, but the base bonus is only +1. Knacks do not stack with Advanced Aptitudes.
  10. Master of Flavor: You can turn any set of edible ingredients into a delicious meal.
  11. Meaningful Glances: You may convey several sentences worth of information with a quick glance, meaningful nod, or couple of twitching fingers. Sadly, this will not transmit technical details or anything overly complicated.
  12. Method Actor: You may “give off” a desired impression, such as “I am an authority on this topic”, or “I am obviously trustworthy”, or “I am old and harmless”. While this is merely a first impression, and will soon be overridden by actual experience, it will influence others reactions for at least a few moments.
  13. Natural Techie: You have an intuitive sense for how microtronic devices are supposed to be put together and operated. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about what they do.
  14. Organizational Knack: Your gear is always well-organized, you never lose your keys, glasses, or other sundries, and whenever you go to get something out it is always right on top.
  15. Photographic Memory (Mnemonic): You may precisely recall the things you witness for up to a week, and enjoy a +5 bonus on recall attempts thereafter.
  16. Quick Repair: You can get jammed or lightly damaged personal devices working again – at least briefly – by spending a few moments fiddling with or banging on them. This MAY work with larger devices, such as ship engines – but it would be most unwise to count on it.
  17. Second Skin: Whatever armor you wear, you may reduce it’s Armor Check Penalty by two and increase the maximum dexterity bonus it allows by one.
  18. Sensitive Nose: You can easily determine if someone has poisoned your food or drink – or it a suspicious substance is poisonous.
  19. Sun Eyes: You are immune to penalties for excessive illumination and gain a +4 bonus on saves against blinding lights.
  20. Survivalist: Your semi-improvised low-tech equipment (stone knives, crudely tanned leather, improvised bows, and similar items) performs as well as professionally crafted gear – allowing you to quickly build up two “Swiss Family Robinson” standards.
  21. Tolerance: You are virtually immune to the ill-effects of a specific drug, toxin, intoxicant, or similar substance. You are affected as if by one-fifth the dose you were actually exposed to.
  22. Vocal Chameleon: You may perfectly imitate a wide range of voices, going just a bit beyond the normal range for your species. This offers a +6 bonus on appropriate rolls.
  23. Wordpainting: Your descriptions are as clear to others as a picture would be.
  24. Zero-Gravity Expertise: You do not need to make rolls to maneuver easily in zero-gravity.

Skill Modifications:

  • The game is using the Condensed Skill List, although Arcane and Religion are Occult (rather than normal) Skills. There are, however, several additional skills (see next post). Some of them are quite vital to the characters.
  • Skills are rolled on 3d6 instead of 1d20.
  • Characters automatically get a 5 on passive checks (such as when walking by something that they might or might not notice), may “take 10″ normally, and may “take 15″ instead of 20.
  • A natural 3 is a serious failure, a natural 4 is an automatic failure, a roll of 17 is an automatic success, and a roll of 18 is a superior success.
  • Exceeding the DC by 10 or more gets a superior success. By twenty or more gets an astounding success. Declaring that you are trying for a superior or astounding success in advance gets you a +5 on your roll – but increases the base DC accordingly, making a complete failure more likely.
  • There are no synergy bonuses.
  • Each attribute provides points equal to its (Value – 6) to spend on Skills related to that attribute. Once again, note that there are important new skills:

Shadowed Galaxy Timeline

Between hyperspace slow time, subspace fast time, relativistic distortions, and other weird effects, no one has yet been able to really pin down the beginning, length, or conclusion (if, given the use of self-reproducing weapons during the war, it can even be said to have concluded yet) of the Idiotic War – or even say if it was one war, a series of smaller ones, or if there were prior Idiotic Wars involving still earlier species before the conflicts that humanity is sure of. Ergo, our timeline begins with the…

  • 2030’s: The Decline. As oil becomes steadily harder to obtain, and the world warms by three degrees celsius, energy shortages race with rising sea levels, crop failures, the spread of once-localized pathogens, and resource exhaustion to reduce the human population, biodiversity of the planet, and technology levels across the world. Despite the collapse of opposition to nuclear power, the increasing efficiency of solar and other renewable power sources, and increasing stress on efficiency, over the next decade the the population drops to half it’s 2028 peak and numerous areas lose most modern services. Those few countries fortunate enough to have made massive investments in nuclear and renewable energy well before the crisis period move into leadership positions. “Mercenary” becomes a respectable profession.
  • 2042: The Biocomp Project develops a practical neural interface, highly energy-efficient retinal projection and audio-canal speaker interfaces, and low-power demand implant computers driven by the hosts energies. The resulting surge in virtual environments, local coordination of farming and other activities, and the efficiency or making most services purely self-powered greatly reduces energy demands, helping to tip civilization into a period of recovery.
  • 2043: Thermal Clothing reduces the energy expenditure on space heating and cooling by well over 90%, leaving most of what is required to passive solar, geothermal, and water-driven systems.
  • 2048: The mass use of Neural Interfaces allows the statistical demonstration of the existence of Informational Manipulations, Faith, Spacefield Devices, and Psychic Abilities. While it takes years to overcome resistance to the “fringe” theories, the evidence is eventually persuasive.
  • 2051: Despite the stress on the proven technologies of Fission, Fusion research had continued – albeit slowly, with what few resources could be spared. The first practical Tokomak-style fusion reactors are immense – but soon became competitive with equivalent Fission plants.
  • 2055: The first formal programs in psychic training are opened up. While humans have very limited psychic potentials, trained psychics are a great deal of help in research and development.
  • 2057: Design refinements make fusion power plants cheaper than fission plants. With cheap power once again available, Hyper-Capacitor Energy Cells become cost effective despite their tendency to lose power relatively quickly.
  • 2063: Fusion plants can now be built small enough to be installed in major vehicles – and fusion thrusters allow humanity to begin practical expansion into the solar system. For a little while the prospect of once-more abundant resources drives reckless expansion.
  • 2065: While the population is still well below its peak, fusion-based resource recycling, cheap power, and increasing automation brings the per-capita global economy and production back to pre-decline levels. It will continue to rise for the next twenty-four years.
  • 2068: With computerized fusion-powered shipping now delivering most of the special services that are required, increasing mobility, and easy air travel, virtual countries and organizations become practical. While geographical countries remain important, people who primarily consider themselves members of virtual organizations, multinational corporations, and fanciful nations become increasingly common.
  • 2071: The first – very small and purely empirical – programs in Informational Technologies are opened.
  • 2075: The first Lunar State is declared. Given that this it is, in many ways, simply another fantastical virtual state, this provokes a few crabby speeches and several denial-of-service attacks on the new countries servers – but little more.
  • 2079: The Martian Zombie Plague. The investigation of some mysterious “structures” on Mars awakens (attracts? activates? spawns?) a spacefield weapon. While apparently limited in the number of victims it can control at any one time, the device suppresses it’s victims mental functions, provides a selection of enhancements, and uses their bodies to make apparently nonsensical changes in the planetary environment. Opposition is met with extreme violence. Returning some victims to Earth for study proves disastrous, but demonstrates the value of retaining national level military forces. There is still some dispute over whether the use of fusion bombs or the martyrdom of Pope Leo XIV and several hundred followers ultimately repelled the attack on Earth. Some areas of Mars are placed in permanent quarantine.
  • 2083: Hyperspace and Subspace are discovered. Despite the high rate of losses, early interstellar exploration and colonization begins by 2100.
  • 2099: The Kwan Yin colonizer leaves the Solar System using an experimental Hyperspace Drive.
  • 2118: Enough information is finally available to put together some theories on the Idiots. This will spark a debate over the wisdom of trying to spread out into the galaxy – and whether or not the hazards the Idiots left behind are enough to explain the Fermi Paradox – that has yet to be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction.
  • 2126: Oort cloud mining crews discover traces of life deep in the ice of several planetoids. It uses DNA-RNA and protein coding compatible with earthly life, validating the Arrhenius Spore Theory, and explaining the existence of roughly-compatible biospheres (and extreme biohazards) around other stars.
  • 2144: The Warp Drive is developed. With a reasonably reliable FTL drive system available, humanity begins to flood out into the galaxy – and the Legacy of the Idiots is waiting for them. The resulting series of crisis keep the solar system in turmoil for several decades as attempts are made to deal with the various Idiotic Weapons and Technologies which are brought back by over-optimistic stellar explorers. Nevertheless, the prospect of new frontiers to settle proves a nigh-irresistible lure to many.
  • 2168: The Inertial Damping system is developed. Despite decades of research, no one can figure out how it actually works, but that does not much hinder the practical application of the effect.
  • 2172: The numerous disasters resulting from the Legacy of the Idiots finally result in a considerable reduction in the enthusiasm for extrasolar exploration.
  • 2180: Science and technology reach something of a plateau; the mysteries of Informational Technology, Spacefields, and Psionics have undermined belief in Science in the general population while absorbing the efforts of many of humanities best minds to no result. Worse, the “cutting edge” of scientific endeavors is now so complex that humanities best minds can only understand them with intensive study – further narrowing the pool of minds that might produce advances. Scientific progress slows to a crawl, and – barring a sudden success in the ever-failing quest to increase human intelligence through computer or genetic augmentation – may well stay at a crawl indefinitely.
  • 2187: The Solar Security Council finally agrees on a set of basic protocols for planetary exploration and bringing items back into the Solar System and to Earth in particular. While such precautions are nowhere’s near 100% efficient, and require quarantining several areas within the Solar System, they do reduce the stream of disasters to a far more manageable level.
  • 2192: “Mad” or “Cryptoscience” – non- or semi-reproducible devices and results – becomes widespread after some extensive popularization efforts. Unfortunately, Cryptoscience seems to rely on an mixture of psychic abilities, informational effects, and aberrant materials – and spreading out the crackpot tinkering did not result in the hoped-for development of a practical design theory. Cryptoscience devices can be quite valuable, but they only work for their creators – who are always at least somewhat insane.
  • 2202: After fifteen years of cautions testing of the Exploration Protocols, exploration and colonization efforts are renewed.
  • 2207: First Contact. The Riheal – a sapient, if technologically primitive – species is discovered. After much excitement, this turns out to be of very little importance.
  • 2239: Oberth – the first successful permanent interstellar colony – celebrates the 100’th anniversary of it’s founding. Such success is quite rare; all too many colonies collapse.
  • 2250: Genesis II launches a major effort to revive extinct species and restore natural environments across the Earth. Over the following decades this is semi-successful at best, but some restoration is accomplished. The debate between the “Fix the Earth first!” and “explore now!” groups continues without resolution, hindering both sides projects.
  • 2280: Today.

Some of the more pessimistic evolutionary theorists feel that – now that the galaxy is strewn with Idiotic Relics – constant warfare is inevitable. After all, the more such relics are left laying about, the greater the selection pressure towards racial paranoia will become – and when two paranoid species meet it is all too likely that one or both will soon be extinct and that yet more Idiotic Weaponry will be left scattered around. Most of the other camps hope that they are wrong.

Yes, this is a condensed timeline, primarily covering items of interest to interstellar explorers – and not too many of those. It’s for player orientation; if they want details on something, they can do a little in-game research.

Aurora Ward Index III

Session Logs:

  • Session I: Team formation, the arrival of Ahmik, a Cultist, a Powerstone, and introducing the Imaginal Wars.
  • Session II: Settling into the Silverhold, the arrival of Syphon, Training Exercises, Demonic Attacks, and a Flower Exhibition.
  • Session III: Imp Amulets, the departure of Syphon and the arrival of Mini-Max, the Book of Niberius, and Invocation Magic.
  • Session IV: Captain Thunder, Candyland, The Auction, Night Templar gets Possessed, Demon Summonings, and Sapphire Star.
  • Session V: The Mandate and the Wyrm Crown, the Night Auction, encounters with Plunder, Fear, Destruction, and Wraith Sword.
  • Session VI: Fear, Destruction, and Vengeance. Entering and Leaving the Realm of Opposites. Considering the Archmage and Chi’an Lung.
  • Session VII: The Wrath of the Wendigo, the Transformation of Antiquity.
  • Session VIII: Visiting Children, Niberius and Godzilla, Weaponizing Love, and the Demon Amulets.
  • Session IX: Investigating the Demon Amulets, Landscaping with Belial, Demonic Ensoulment Rituals,
  • Session X: Disabling the Rite, Boreas, Belial, and Mini-Max. Blood and Souls, the Counterspell, seeking the Archmage.
  • Session XI: Through the Chinese Hells, the Pool of Life, the Archmage Besieged.
  • Session XII: Relief Forces, the Dragons of the East,
  • Session XIII: Entrapment, Meeting the Archmage, Encountering the Orb.
  • Session XIV: A dinner, some history, the Orb – and into the Heart of Darkness.
  • Session XV: Departing the Archmage, a curious device indeed, Ameobro and the Animal Spirits, the Gates of Faerie.
  • Session XVI: Encounters with the Fey, Encountering Malwyn, Illusions and Reality, rescuing Samuel.
  • Session XVII: Ceara and Samuel, Malwyn shows his ire, investigating disappearances, magical contractors, the dangerous room, bumping heads with Belial.
  • Session XVIII: A dealing with demons, the Wendigo Camp, Bearageddon, a dealing with the dead, news of the assault.
  • Session XIX: Battle at the Silverhold, the Black Summons and the Light of Luathon, Driving with the Dead.
  • Session XX: Discussions with the Wind, Captain Massacre Attacks, Ameobrat fails to evade the Sniper, Dimensional Incursions, the Crimes of Captain Mayhem, Night Templar versus the Dark Knight and his Imps, Funniest Home Videos.
  • Session XXI: Tracing Malwyn, Murders in the Darkness, Discussions with the Seelie and Unseelie Fey, Encounters with the Orthallen.
  • Session XXII: Near Space Defense, Battles with Malwyn and the Battered Women, Belial’s Press Conference, Tracing NSD.
  • Session XXIII: My Evil Twin Skippy lives in My Evil Mirror House, the river rising, battles with the alternates, the escape of the Dark Knight and Munchkin, false equipment.
  • Session XXIV: Zantu Deliberations, visiting Saturn, the Archives of the Arith Vaya, the Glacial Guardian, into the frozen depths, debating with Darvian.
  • Session XXV: Explaining Ameobro, introducing the Dragon Circle, Runestones, Survivalism and the Codex Naberius, Voso, the Demon Thief of Magical Children.
  • Session XXVI: Bargains with Belial, Demonic Web Pages, Orabus the Equine Prince, Battling Voso, buying Demonic Children, Secrets of the Arith Vaya.
  • Session XXVII: Dealing with Demonic Children, Night Templar and the Angels of Wrath, Red Soulstone and Space Marines
  • Session XXVIII: The Press Conference, Malphas and Mayhem.
  • Session XXIX: The History of Mars, the Skorel and the Arith Vaya, interviewing Doctor Promethean, the Ghosts of Mars, True Necromancers.
  • Session XXX: The Shrine of Rathma, Bobby the White Necromancer, speculations on canned meat, Doctor Promethean again, Saurians for Mars.
  • Session XXXI: Feeding Ghosts, Piper and the Bombardment Epoch, descending the Axis Mundi, observing the destruction of Mars.
  • Session XXXII: Return from History, retrieving a Helmstone.
  • Session XXXIII: Spider Ships, Psychic Experiments, and Martian Possessions.
  • Session XXXIV: Issues on Earth – mercenaries, robotic law enforcement, and pegasus interviews. Megachurches, soulstone, the Indestructible Man, and Demonic Pants. Future Lawbots, investigating disappearances, and childish invocations.
  • Session XXXV: Murders of days long past, Haywire and the Future, Illiri, Mana Drains, Elder Spells, and Realtors, and the Pit of the Kyinn.
  • Session XXXVI: Johannus-not-a-ghost, Investigating the Kyinn.
  • Session XXXVII: Setting up the Space Marines and the Horsemen to collide.
  • Session XXXVIII: The Horsemen and the Space Marines.
  • Session XXXIX: Planning for Zantu, Ormarr the Obtuse, Colonel Ashford and his Psychic Sidekicks, the Galactic Bus, Ancient Air Defense.
  • Session XL: Into the Ancient Base on Zantu.
  • Session XLI: Ancient Chaos, Battle in the Control Chamber, Planetary Cataclysm and Reconstruction.
  • Session XLII: Samhain’s Self-Arrest, Search and Rescue, Trial of the Century, Ormarr on FTL, Invocations at Ceara’s School, Night Templar’s Child Endangerment Case, on the news with Belial, Armageddon shorts out, Voso lord of Spam.
  • Session XLIII: Demonic Danger Rooms, decontaminating Armageddon, Deplatypusing Captain  Mayhem, The Transtemporal Villain Swarm.
  • Session XLIV: The Goetic Council, Ambassadorial Portfolios, Armageddons Unholy Pants, and Vapula the Irritant.
  • Session VL: Voyage to Tibet, Niberios and North Korea, Battle at the Archmage’s, Arcane Considerations, and Signing Off on Time Travel.
  • Session VLI: A conference on restraints, summoning the Doctor, Go-fers and Grabboids, Antione and Illari, Gastion Emerys, Timewalker, and the oncoming horde.
  • Session VLII: Tracing Illari, Considering Syphon and Mini-Max, molten miniatures, collecting the Sniper.
  • Session VLIII: Ordering Weapons, a dealing with Dragons, Potions of Drunkenness, and the Bane Mummies explained.
  • Session IL: Researching the Racemind, The Nordic Realms.
  • Session L: Into the Nordic Realms, Modgud and the river Gjoll, Heimdall and Bifrost, the Wolves and the Gods, Loki, Jormungand, and Hela. Samhain contemplates moving out.
  • Session LI: The Fury at the Norsemen, disruptions on Zantu, ambassadors to the Pirate and Pony realms, Armageddon accidentally marries Prince Blueblood, Ameobro acquires some Changelings.
  • Session LII: Antione and the Kyinn, Surveillance Efforts, Pegasus and Perseus II, Amazon’s, Athena, and Icos. Introducing the Titanosaurs.
  • Session LIII: The Hydrasaur. Battle at Thunder Bay, Illari’s Projects.
  • Session LIV: Investigating the Genetics Lab, tracing the Titanosaurs.
  • Session LV: Ferret War Dance and the Ferret King, Battling the Titanosaurs.
  • Session LVI: Arach the Black, Forgemage, the Minotaur, the Zantu Survey.
  • Session LVII: Illari and the fight at the club.
  • Session LVIII: Titanosaurs Worldwide, the Battle of New York Harbor.
  • Session LIX: Interlude; Ceara summons the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
  • Session LX: Concluding the Battle of New York Harbor.
    • It’s worth noting that these logs are 1) summarized in places (especially conversations) and 2) from a particular characters viewpoint; they don’t tend to get into much detail on what the other characters are up to.

Background Materials:

The Cast:

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CCVI – Cadenza Allegro

Charles was almost out of time. Fortunately, he was also almost out of things to do. There were networks of well-guarded indestructible manses waiting to take over Yu-Shan’s control inputs to Creation, massive power reserves on tap, guards (second-circle equivalents; not enough to stop a top-end threat for long, but their perfect defenses should hold out more than long enough to sound the alarm and escape) assigned to every vital person and location that he could manage, a 500% overcoverage on his control artifacts, lots of geomantic backup and monitoring in place, quite a few unshaped roped into providing external security for Creation while his focus was elsewhere, crews of Raksha ready to help out, and more. Gaia had the Spike of Pole Unbinding, Yu-Shan’s Devas were ready to supervise through their remotes, the Tenders and Overseers had been briefed, the Celestial Lions were in position, King Ghidorah was attending along with many Third-Circle Demons, and every backup and precaution he could think of was in place.

It was time for the show to go on! Hopefully a lot of the major powers would attend peacefully, rather than opposing the project!

That could have been “more innocent bystanders to get caught up in things!”, but – fortunately – most of the most vulnerable weren’t important enough to get seats, and would have to watch remotely from Aden, which was much safer. There were still random carnival-goers of course, but some of them would have been around regardless.

There was, of course, muttering and some excitement when the Celestial Lions started clearing the central pavilion for a performance and it became apparent just how many sections of special seating were being set up – and just how exotic some of them were.

The discussion got louder as the performers began to arrive in all in all their eccentric glory – but the Celestial Lions were out in force, which was enough to send some of the more cautious carnival-goers looking for good vantage points a long ways away. If some little musical piece called for THAT kind of security something big was definitely up!

And then some even MORE eccentric entities arrived – the Deva’s of Yu-Shan using their remotes – and demonic cries of recognition joined the confusion of gods who both instinctively recognized and did not consciously know the Deva’s!

Except for the black hole in the shape of a kimono-clad sumotori, who just looked amused as he ate all the food.

Charles gave them a few moments to settle down since this WAS a performance! Quiet was expected, at least to start! And this sort of thing WAS why there were separate sections!

And as the drums and other percussion instruments of the first movement thundered, the energies of chaos flowed out across the Carnival of Meeting, the energies of oncoming transformation lending strength to magic, a sparkle of youth to the ancient streets of Yu-Shan, and a thousand transient touches of wonder drifted upon the very air.

And the gods wondered, as the beauty of the music spread, somehow infinite in potential and yet unfulfilled.

Far beyond the music’s normal range, something resonated, a subtle note in the darkness singing softly to itself. A tiny crack in an ancient ward, and a trickle of time flowing into timelessness… Within the Gallery of Captured Dreams minds stirred that had been sleeping since before the rise of Creation.

And the Adamant foundations of Yu-Shan trembled, as – in the wake of a massive stampede of panicked high-ranking gods fleeing the Jade Pleasure Dome – a massive, floating, cloud of elemental energies poured out of the southernmost entrance to of the Dome.

Charles sighed – having to multitask ALREADY. What a bother!

He threw up a series of wards around the performance area, and tried to clear a path for the elemental storm – and checked with the Celestial Lions on duty there to try to find out what was going on! Normally a bunch of high-ranking gods wouldn’t make such a commotion over anything even remotely reasonable…

Oh. There were hurricanes frantically howling at the edges, buffeting the infernos and oceans within while thorns, burrs, and massive stones of all varieties floated through the whole mass! And… those howling primordial energies made up draconian shapes floating around within the storm, only faintly visible even to magical senses.

The Elemental Dragons awakened or ascended? Gaia using the spike? Would they need a reserved section of seating?

The lions hadn’t been expecting this either, and since she was one of the Incarnae, they couldn’t exactly order her to cease and desist!

(Charles, via telepathic broadcast since voice was not likely to work through the hurricanes!) “Ah, hello there! Can I help you?”

All he got was a cacophony of crackles, howling wind, and raging water and sand. The mass was heading upward, toward the Pole of Adamant. It… wasn’t affecting the geomancy yet, but it felt like it was barely restrained. The raw power of most of Gaia’s physical Deva’s pouring towards a single, central, point where things were most closely tied together.

Probably to pour their power into the Spike… Charles had the guards herd people and gods out of the way and made a corridor! It was a good thing that his servitors were pretty affable and high-Essence… it made it a LOT easier to get the gods to listen!

Besides, it WAS the Carnival! As well as an elemental hurricane that no one sensible would stand in front of anyway… There was some fussing and bruised egos, but better that than being dissolved by some manifestation of Primordial power!

Charles damped the sound around the elemental manifestations, but he still had to turn up the volume a bit. Fortunately he was immune to laryngitis and it didn’t affect his supporting performers!

And the dreaming thunder of the wyld drums spread across the carnival as the brasses, and the second movement, came in.

Across Yu-Shan, ancient primordial demesnes, long dormant and decayed, flared into sudden life – and crackling spikes of essence began to build in the structures of manses long broken and buried. Once begun… the Music Of Creation, and the revival of Yu-Shan would precede to completion – or to catastrophe.

And the Drum Fey exalted in joy – even as reports began to flood in from the outskirts of Heaven of several massive entities appearing close to the Cornucopia of All’s subterranean Manse and its aboveground patch of fertile soil! The lions and guarding Devas reported most unwholesome energies!

Drat! Charles started to deploy some of his reserves… mostly on containment; attacking warded areas was a LOT more bother, so that should slow them up! It wouldn’t stop a geomantic attack – but that was usually one of the slower methods anyway. Unfortunately, he had only one Kaiju to deploy personally…

That… was holding things up, but one – a slow-moving snake of soulsteel, white Jade, and other, stranger, alloys, had begun burrowing into the adamant and emitting large amounts of death-energy! The local anti-underworld alert systems were going haywire!

Oh well! If the Kaiju were coming… that was a pain, but he had to stick with the sequence to make this work. All he could do was deploy distractions and delays!

And across the city… wards and defenses flared, as the divine legions fought a delaying action against the attacking Kaiju, hurling crackling bolts of essence, hurling missiles, and erecting barriers.

It didn’t have much effect, but the warding spells took the brunt of the counterattacks. They were still causing damage just moving around, but that was what happened when Kaiju payed your city a visit!

Charles… focused on reinforcing the wards and the structure of Yu-Shan itself. The would hold up the advance, provide cover for the defenders, reduce the damage to the city, and keep casualties to a minimum, as he had promised to attempt!

At least it was the Empty Quarters – and the Celestial Lions, Tenders, and Overseers were using their own methods of reinforcing things. Yu-Shan’s Deva’s were helping with that! It was a good thing that he’d given them multiple remotes to work though – and that their power was waxing as Yu-Shan stirred in her slumber!

And bursts of essence sparkled across the city like a myriad stars, as resident gods raised their own wards and defenses. Those were far less effective than the efforts of the Celestial Lions and Charles’s agents – but there were millions of them. It would not suffice, but it bought more precious time.

And the Third Movement began. The music of Creation built upon the infinite resources of the Wyld and the order-bringing Primordial Paean. Even within the Carnival Grounds… there was shouting from several angry and dismayed mortals – a good deal of “Where am I?!” In multiple languages, some not of Earth! More subtly – and more importantly – a number of Soulsteel and Starmetal artifacts shimmered gently, no longer creations of anguish, but merely of aspected essence.

Across Yu-Shan, echoes drifted upon the winds. Vagrant bits of themes in a sprinkling of ethereal notes, bearing one of the most elusive and powerful of thoughts – a new beginning, and new hope. The long despair and decay felt a trace of a new dawn upon the wind.

At Seven Whispering Winds there was a massive burst of energy as a dozen Kaiju made a fade-in appearance, towering over the ancient manse. Godzilla, Rhodan, Gamera, Anguirus, Mothra, King Caesar, Gigan, Kumonja, Biolanthe, Ultraman, Megalon, and Destroyah bestrode the canals of Yu-Shan – joining their scouts King Ghidorah, King Kong (the bioelectric version, who had gone up the Jade Pleasure Dome and was absorbing the energies of it’s defensive systems to redirect into blasts across the city), and MechaGodzilla. Behind them… an army of (mostly) Native-American styled Fey arrived to handle backup and crowd control.

Sure, they seemed to have arrived to defend Yu-Shan, and to make Creation more friendly to Fey – but just try telling the gods of the empty regions that!

(MechaGodzilla) “Bye bye everybody! I have to go defend the city! You humans have fun at the Carnival!”

MechaGodzilla left his hat behind as he grew to full size and headed off to join the defense – leaving a not-insignificant portion of the Carnival-goers wondering what had been put into their drinks!

And the fury of the Neverborn-Kaiju surpassed itself, as all too many of those Dream-Kaiju – empowered by their Exalted pilots, Raksha crews, and some of the mystic “Martial Artists” of the Besi Hentuperajin – turned their own, original, ancient powers against them (even if it was only the lesser ones!) How DARED these creatures of mere humanity use the powers they had lost in the Primordial War?

And – for the sake of Heaven and the salvation of Creation- rage, confusion, and chaos reigned supreme as Dream-Kaiju, with greater numbers, and the powers of their far more varied crews, warred against Neverborn-Kaiju wielding Ghostly Arcanoi and the terrible, high-essence, charms and sorceries of their ancient Abyssal pilots.

Night spread across the city as the lead in the Games of Divinity fell to the Lady of Journeys – who had slightly fewer powers of use in such a battle. Darkness, however, did not fall; the light of the constant barrage of blazing blue energy bolts, waves, and explosions as Kingukongu (King Kong or “Guko” for short) channeled the blasts of the defense systems of the Jade Pleasure Dome around his feet against the Neverborn-Kaiju burned with a supernal radiance.

Charles sent Mothra Leo to try and keep the Kaiju Battles to the open areas… OK, it was mostly more wards and containment, but the crew was pretty good at such things – and Leo gave them a good vantage point to work from! Hopefully his wings (and near-infinite use of the Raksha Perfect Dodge) would be fast enough to evade the Neverborn Kaiju strikes.

Fortunately, the Cauldron-Born appreciated drama, and sent their version of his mother Mothra to aid Leo!

And the fourth movement began, introducing strings and keyboard – and a considerable shock for the Humans (and anyone else who actually aged) who was attending the Carnival. As some of the mortals attending looked a little healthier (and younger), the jade bud in front of Charles grew into a flower… As the movement continued, it bore fruit – a lovely Celestial Pear.

Unfortunately, there was a commotion outside the pavilion… A Neverborn Kaiju had arrived via teleportation.

Grievous Shadow, the Dreamstrider Cloaked in Nightmare, embodied distraction and madness, the mind at war with itself, and the unformed terrors spawned from the damage to reality. It’s form was in constant flux – but it was forged of soulsteel, and black jade, and the deathly essence of the Neverborn. A hydra-like thing of many heads (their exact number forever uncountable) it struck along the myriad paths of thoughts and realities rejected. Once Mabhaddoth, Architect Of Locks, He Who Sealed, now a thing of Summoning Shadows and the Darkness that Devoured. Around it madness held illimitable dominion over the gods…

It shimmered momentarily as it’s soulsteel parts smoked in the music of the third movement – but it’s power relied but little on torment, and the departure of souls into Lethe meant little to it, especially when it’s mere presence unlocked a thousand routes long sealed for both the living and the dead. What mattered it that mere sanity could endure so few of those beckoning paths?

The Lions and Tenders were evading being pulled in – if only just – but for the moment a single figure confronted the immense Kaiju, locked in a battle of wills… Zanjaras, the Violet Bier of Sorrows himself, was staring it down – swathed in his bandages and glowing with a pale, colorless aura as he guided the spirits of the dead to Lethe. Even he was having trouble resisting Grievous Shadow’s aura, but he would not let the spirits suffer!

But his power was fading moment by moment though, as the last of the spirits poured through him and Grievous Shadow adjusted to their absence!

And, in the midst of the raging powerstorm crackling through the streets of Yu-shan, the fifth movement began – and Charles employed his Earthmaster’s Stone to help him replace most of the first KiloMote that he’d need to supply to Yu-Shan with Geomantic Relay Points. Since that also activated the Music of Creation’s carrier function, he threw in a repulsive blast attuned to the Neverborn Kaiju to try and drive them back a bit.

And the radiance within the pavilion cast shadows across Yu-Shan as a tidal wave of green and gold essence poured out, bringing the canals and dragon lines of the city to sparkling life – and fueling answering sparks of black and crimson as the deep energies of the city answered. Notes rose from the rushing waters and the incandescent earth as the Music of Creation swept outwards.

Charles channeled his (effective 22, which – thanks to the Honorable Diamond Gem – everyone touched by the music could feel) compassion into his desire to heal as ninety-six gates to ninety-six new worlds erupted around the edges of the dome and the portals to the stargate manses opened up at the central pavilion.

And the Neverborn Kaiju were driven several steps back – in part due to the repulsion he’d thrown in, but mostly in shock as the torment of their Soulsteel components was relieved – and the Guards, Gods, Celestial Lions, Tenders, and Overseers opposing them found strength in the music.

As the pillar of green-gold light fountained up to the apex of the sky dome and washed out across the city, it carried Charles’s Solar Sorcery spells with it – of primordial and general healing, of geomantic repair, and of renewal. A myriad voices responded, as the awakened little gods sang as well – and the beauty of the music passed through the Gates. In return… the power of renewed domains flowed into Yu-Shan, a sudden strength flowing into the domainless gods.

Gates were opening across the Earth as well – and from them too the music poured as the Earth sang. Ancient and long-forgotten gates too allowed the music to pass, although wyld zones did not. On distant worlds, and in strange realms, the music rang.

And ancient hatreds responded. There would be no peace, no healing, and no hope if they could prevent it. Creation was flawed beyond redemption, the sins of Gods, Mortals, and Exalted could not be forgiven. No kindly power could be permitted to interfere with Creations inevitable – if long-drawn – end!

Still, even as ancient enemies flooded into Yu-Shan, and the Neverborn Kaiju lumbered forward as reinforcements diverted the attention of their opponents… powerful voices joined the song – echoing from the central Manse of Project Stamewald, from Seven Whispering Winds, from the Embassy to the Dead, beneath which Zanjaras slept, from the Sorrowhands themselves, and from his School (of all places) in Yu-Shan alone. Stanewald and School were supporting Charles directly. The others, on the other hand…

  • The Embassy of the Dead was attempting to allow ghosts to manifest during the daytime, with increased cost to Arcanoi and no use of hostile effects.
  • Seven Whispering Winds was attempting to increase the level of Wyld energies throughout all regions of Creation by one level for purposes of counting as the Wyld, making the bare minimum a tainted land.
  • The Sorrowhands were attempting to boost the original geomancy on the City Level to 75%,, and were being supported by the other seventy-eight extant Tenders. (Why would they want THAT? They were getting their own level at 100% anyway!)
  • And across the many worlds the music reached… many minor voices were attempting their own geomantic manipulations.

Charles sighed… he really should have known better than to even hope for unity. Still… he had spent a LOT of time setting this up and accumulating ways to boost his control.

Charles had, in fact, managed to lower his target number to two, had – between boosted skill, boosted attributes, excellencies, and other boosts, managed to stack up nearly sixty dice on his Occult check, and was throwing in twenty-two more from Compassion. It came out to 82 successes (considered “perfect”), with the +10 boost to opposing difficulties for being in the lead. Perfect effects could influence things locally – but no one else within the Music’s reach had prepared for it nearly so thoroughly.

Even working together, the opposing groups couldn’t overpower him. It was enough for them to get some localized effects though, as the two melodies clashed! Charles focused on compensating for any variances from the plan that couldn’t be accommodated.

And the flow of geomantic power continued pouring out across the city as the Celestial Pear in front of Charles cracked open. Inside… was a young girl, no older than six, but massive enough that she had to crouch. She was wearing nothing but a simple robe and looked unremarkable at first… Until you realized that she was made of cloth of a massively high – almost immeasurable – thread count. The Essence signature matched Yu- Shan’s of course – which might be most unfortunate, as Grievous Shadow had merely been briefly stunned, but was once more advancing!

The giant girl turned that way, with a disgusted expression.

Charles unleashed the first of his major reserves, as three rings of the twenty-four symbols of Thaumaturgy began to orbit him, intersecting, releasing spells as the runes crossed, a total of three hundred and sixty Celestial to Solar Circle spells poured fourth each turn – focusing on warding and protecting the city, rescuing those entrapped, and healing the injured.

Basically Charles was running Aden at three times the normal timerate and letting the twenty four (one of each) of his seventy-two Guardian manifestations assigned there start unleashing their magic through him – each using the bonus dice from the Geomantic Flux to multicast.

And the structure of reality itself shimmered and wavered before that much sorcerous essence. The radiating light shown through flesh and stone like glass – although the Light of Creation brought not the slightest dazzle or discomfort to any but the enemies of Creation.

Charles himself was focusing on guiding his healing effects to try and fix everything he could reach.

On Earth, before crowds, military observers, and various other groups… the Gate-Manses were manifesting, showing alien suns shining above new worlds, rich fields and forests, pristine seas and mountains, and glittering (if empty) cities in the distance. Busy quasi-canine entities were laying down railroad tracks, canals, and other transport connections, readying stockpiles of colonization supplies, and preparing to welcome new emigrants across trillions of light years.

And even as the gates opened… The Music of Creation granted health and (relative) youth to the people of the Earth. There would be far more shock and unrest than Charles had anticipated!

Within Yu-Shan, the Kaiju battle raged on outside the Carnival of Meeting, as Titans forged of Wyld and Neverborn energies clashed with claw, breath, and still more esoteric abilities. Smaller Kaiju were attempting to attack Charles’s warded sites, but the outpouring magic of the Sorcerers Shere was holding most of them back.

Toho was indeed getting VERY impressive footage – but reports, messages, and complaints were flooding even Charles’s multitasking in his Synergistic Overmind! Still… the geomantic split WAS progressing mostly as planned. But… the mere presence of the Neverborn Kaiju was warping things, especially that of the snakelike thing that was still burrowing it’s way through the adamant. A gate of obsidian and soulsteel was forming alongside the others.

With more than a few Third Circle demons present, including those of Oramus, a gate of ochre adamant was also forming.

Bother! The Neverborn aspect was forming! That would never do!

Charles deployed the extra control artifacts to try and block that, and let the Sorrowhands and Tenders know about it! They might be willing to give up to prevent THAT.

Ochre… a Yozi aspect? Presumably to a “what if” Yu-Shan was banished with the rest of the Yozi’s instead of being taken over” aspect?

(Arelis Sorrowhands) “Gah! We can’t have that… But I’m not willing to leave the Weavers in their current state.” (Consulting) “We’ll give in for ten Weavers, two of each caste, already motophagic preferred.”

(Charles) “I can try to persuade them, but I can’t force them! But a fair number have already joined up haven’t they? And shouldn’t they be fine on the pure Yu-Shan level?”

Charles asked Yu-Shan – since she was manifested and awake – to help out with the Sorrowhands! After all, now that she was awake he had the plans and could explain instantly – even if, at this point, major adjustments were going to be HARD.

(Arelis Sorrowhands) “We’ll need to expose them to areas of at least 75 percent purity to awaken their full potential… Which this level will not have. Please, Charles… They were meant as our aides. And at least half were fine with that!”

(Charles) “Well, that should work! You’d just need to overlay the 100% pure level with compatible levels, or even just temporarily isolate them to that one to trigger things!

(Yu-Shan, yawning) “Dolly, now isn’t the time! Let Charles work. We still need to find Ayuji!”

And the Ochre gate… did indeed seem to be shaping up into a Yozi aspect. That didn’t even make SENSE in this universe! Oramus was forcing an impossible identity between alternate universes there!

Charles checked with Nox on that one! Otherwise they might have two universe’s versions of Yu-Shan converging into one, which could do some really strange things!

(Nox) “Eh, Oramus does that, kid. Just be glad only Feng got out-or that you’re not in a universe where Xiang was the deva Yu-Shan gambled away. Three words: doors to everywhere. Now THAT’S a pain.”

(Charles) “Er… Yu-Shan? Do you WANT to amalgamated with a Yozi version of yourself! That might well limit you somewhat!”

(Yu-Shan) “yucky! Bad Feng! Toss you time!”

Well… that was at least DISTRACTING Feng! Charles let the Calibration Gate slam THAT particular door; defining what WAS and what WAS NOT Yu-Shan was a part of his function, so he ought to be able to!

Dumenza and the other gates had started flying around soon after he’d started, although they hadn’t taken humanoid form until now. He was marshaling all the gates – his remaining subselves – for this one!

Charles provided more backup – but even where that was POSSIBLE, even he only had so much backup to deploy!

That left the Pinnacle of the Sky Dome and the Lattice of Vapors to take on the Neverborn Kaiju reinforcements! Additionally, with the Yozi energies present, the gate linked to the biogenesis laboratory was humming most ominously…

Fortunately, the combative Third Circles – including Kochige, Daimyo of Absorption – had moved to assist their uncorrupted colleagues. Still, even Charles’s geomatic reserves could not support this load for much longer – and despite his best efforts, the empty quarters were taking a lot of damage!

And more reports were coming in, some from the Loom… which was unfurling. It’s myriad dimensional folds… were falling into three-dimensional space.

Charles asked I AM to pick up as much of the processing load as possibly – asking the students at the Citadel of Enlightenment to authorize the use of their accounts to acquire the rights to even more processing power, even if that WOULD reveal to them that they had accounts!

Along the way, he checked the sympathetic looms to see what was going on. It looked like… it was unraveling to a central point in the Loom Chamber. The pattern spiders were giving chase. Unfortunately, given that causality was only a suggestion in there, he would need all the processing power he could get to find out where… Still, from the sympathetic looms, it seemed that Ayuji, and Nox with her, were becoming free! With one problem… the sympathetic looms were showing abnormally high readings of Neverborn energies within the Loom.

Charles sent requests to the Sidereals and the available Lunars too. Creation would need to do most of it’s own causality-computing if Ayuji unbound from it… fortunately, that WAS one of the predicted possibilities. MORE Neverborn energies? That had to be an OLD Deathlord… almost certainly the Arbiter of Games End! After all, success here would permanently ruin most of his plans! But… he was down to his final reserves (well, not counting things like the Kickaha kids) – his third set of Deva-aspects…

He sent his Devas for Compulsion, Countermagic, Linking, Divination, Fortune, and Shadow-Weaving to try to keep the Neverborn energies away from Ayuji and support her. Compulsion to handle secondary forces, Countermagic to neutralize things, Linking to let I Am help more, Divination to locate subtle attacks (the Arbiter WAS a tricky one!), Fortune could works with Destiny and Ayuji’s powers to relive the strain on her, and Shadow-weaving to misdirect attacks to non-existent targets.Hopefully Nox would help with that; with a touch of his power redirecting attacks to empty universes should work just fine!

Chasing the threads on the Loom worked for a time, but they were all converging on a single spot in a dark, remote region of the Loom Chamber. There, they disappeared into nowhere – and his Deva’s followed them. Blast it! Even the immortality HE bestowed wasn’t PERFECT! They ought to have SOME caution!

Weirdly, there was no sign of Neverborn, Deathlords, or even undead in the Loom Chamber… But Malinda was detecting the use of Void Circle Necromancy targeting the Loom and was peering into the threads.

Huh… Reaching through the remnants of Oblivion were they? Well… he knew just where the Arbiters planet was within a very small margin, and it was easy enough to locate. It was also where the necromancy was coming from, much of it cast quite recently.

He had the Djinn set up a one-way manse gate there as a firing port for the Spear of Aden. No doubt the Arbiter would fall back before even an orbital bombardment could exhaust his magical and defensive reserves – but with any luck he could chase him away from his materials, workspace, and casting… Not that he liked shooting at people, but the Arbiter WAS trying to destroy the universe – and releasing the ghosts in his service into Lethe would be doing them a definite favor!

Charles hadn’t thought about the fact that the combination of the bombardment and the Music of Creation leaking through the gate would send pretty much ALL the ghosts to Lethe – but that was all to the good!

Well, not the bit that would let the Arbiter defend longer – but you couldn’t have EVERYTHING.

The bombardment did, indeed, devastate the place, but there was no sign of the Deathlord himself, or his three ring-bound gods leaving. On the other hand, the wan, pale ghosts were now on to their next incarnations!

And Malinda had discovered something that had her startled, as she examined the Loom…

(Malinda) “Dearie, this spot… It leads to another universe!”

Well, that was a convenient point for Nox to interrupt the assault… and interrupt it he did!

(Nox) “Hey, kid, me and the pattern spiders could use a little support in here! The fleet’s taking heavy damage!”

Charles sent them another six Devas… Botheration! This was VERY rapidly reaching the “out of resources” point! Darn it! He’d been hoping that he was playing in God Mode!

The trouble with the Kaiju assault was that they’re all indestructible barring geomantic sabotage – and for the ones at full power that would only work from the inside. At least for the minor ones though… their geomancy was basically the geomancy of wounds in the cosmos; healing spells might mess them up enough to make them retreat – so Charles tried that!

That confused them and messed them up, and FINALLY drove off the snake assault! Quite a few fell back – but Grievous Shadow was built from truly hard stuff even without the souls of the damned powering him! He had reached the pavilion and was trying to tear the roof off!

Ligier was most displeased – and advanced alongside Zanjaras to distract and maybe figure out a way to immobilize the thing. The friendly Kaiju, including MechaGodzilla, Mothra, and Mothra Leo, were moving to defend as well. Despite the clashing, yelling, and combustion going on outside, and despite being an Exalt… Charles was not directly participating and had more important things to do!

(Charles sighing) “Hrm… And what is it you need? I can’t promise to give it to you, but it’s worth asking!”

(Grievous Shadow) “Your death and that of Yu-Shan!”

(Ligier) “How banal. Couldn’t you be more imaginative with your threats?”

(Zanjaras) “I suppose it was made for one purpose.”

(Charles) “Oh. Well, that one is EASY! There are lots of places like that!”

It was his last resort… Hit it with a manse! He opened up a manse gate to send it to a universe that had dissolved back into the deep wyld and slam the door closed behind it!

Unfortunately it was resisting – until Sol Invictus took a moment from his Sumi-e painting contest with Saturn to combine his power with Ligier’s to send the monstrosity plummeting into a devastated dimension.

That should hold it for a while! Now Charles only had to contend with the remaining forces assaulting Ayuji and any consequences of this – for Nox had been rather sadistically diverting many of the underworld attackers to shards with a perfectly functioning Lethe!

Charles tried to save at least one sextet of Deva’s in reserve for any final emergency – and did some reconstruction spells – but sent another six to reinforce Ayuji. That turned out to be a wise choice, as the Arbiter of Games End and his flagship had made their appearance, advancing on Ayuji and Nox’s location! The pattern spiders were marshaling their fleet alongside his Devas to stop him!

Drat it! Last reserves it was! At least he didn’t have that much longer to go on this…

Unfortunately, the Arbiter was getting close to the monolith where Autochthon and Yu-Shan had stowed Ayuji so long ago! Perhaps ten minutes before the Arbiter’s ship got into teleport range!

And at least an hour to go on the Music of Creation to nail down the details of Yu-Shan’s alternate layers. And his reserves were tapped out! Still, it was only one Deathlord at the moment… They were pretty nasty, but he was already up against eight devas and support.

And… he’d brought his own allies? Aaargh!

Charles reviewed frantically… He didn’t HAVE any more reserves except Kickaha kids and other non-combatants!

Wait.

He had Galileo ask the Solars and other Exalts at the Citadel of Enlightenment if they wanted to help stop a Deathlord who was attacking Yu-Shan and Creation!

They didn’t say “No” – and the Solar and Lunar who’d been trying to make Solar Bond mutual stepped up to the plate, backed by a contingent of the Gold Faction teachers. And they did have all the defenses and benefits that Charles had been handing around, which was good! They would need them badly as they assaulted the Arbiter and his allies!

They proved unable to take down the Arbiter and his allies – but they managed to sabotage his ship and force a retreat.

Even the Sorcerer’s Sphere was running down; having spent the equivalent of fifty kilomotes or so – drawn from several hundred Manses designed for sorcerous support – in the course of the operation…

Still, the Devas who had been were assisting Ayuji and Nox were now free (if low on motes), as the ancient monolith opened up and the pattern spiders danced in intricate patterns of celebration (well… maybe. They weren’t the most expressive creatures).There were once again reserves!

Even if they were on the verge of collapse.

Still… the heavily-outnumbered Neverborn Kaiju were being driven off (Details of Aikiko’s efforts will appear in a later log) – and some of the noncombatant reserves like those young Kickaha were moving in to serve as search-and-rescue, disaster relief, and emergency medical teams. There was a fair amount of call for it; more than a few free Celestial mortals lived in areas affected by the fighting and hadn’t cleared out in advance… not that Charles’s agents had been able to be clear about explaining why they should.

Darn it! He had been hoping to keep injuries down to an absolute minimum… There was guilt!

Not exactly overwhelming, but guilt anyway.

A little later Charles – clearly tired – finally let the music fade away – and there was much applause!

Checking the results… Well, even though the Sorrowhands backed down, there were some patches where both the Wyld and the underworld were a bit stronger. On the other hand, Yu-Shan hadn’t wound up linked to any unintended alternate versions of herself, and all of his planned layers were functional.. That was actually pretty good! He’d have to see how the outside universe had been affected later…

The entire city was somewhat in shock – which was only to be expected of course! Gaia had dissipated back into her usual self and had collapsed next to Yu-Shan. Luna had curled up next to her in cat form and was showing elaborate unconcern as only a kitty could…

Charles made sure that they had the equivalent of a blanket and some pillows and were not disturbed…

Hm… The Sun had lost his contest with Saturn,al though nothing had happened to him or to the universe. He had just completed his Sumi-e painting when an errant energy blast destroyed it. While the Incarnae’s reign over Heaven was probably finished in its prior form, they’d never done much anyway – so they might wind up even more in charge, at least of the city level.

In any case, the Most High didn’t seem put out by it.

The performers withdrew to Aden, as the Third Circles collected their snacks and carnival souvenirs and went home as the carnival closed down for the first time since… EVER. There were still two days of Calibration left, but after what had just happened, everyone was in shock!

Charles frowned! Aw! He’d become a party pooper!

As the crowd left, and the Incarnae retreated to the Jade Pleasure Dome with the exhausted Primoridals in tow, Saturn glanced back at Charles. She and her sisters felt… more complete and more concrete to him. It was nothing even HE could put his finger on… Just a weird gut feeling.

Well… this would be a major step towards their one universe of origin; this just pruned a LOT of major branches.

And Charles went to go rest. It would take weeks for his resources to rebuild to normal levels… And no doubt he’d have to field endless frantic phone calls.

That would turn out to include calls from countries that he knew existed, but had never really studied… And that was just the mundane ones. He hadn’t even THOUGHT about THOSE calls! It was very awkward! He would have thought that the advertising campaign – and the advisors and supply-depot operators – would have answered things! (They had, but it was just SO hard to believe!).

He delegated some telephone operators for repeated questions and such. That way even a lot of the noncombatants would get to participate.

And there were people wanting exclusive rights to a gate too. Charles wasn’t normally big on that – but if avoiding conflicts made it a lot more palatable.

In a little while there would be people fighting over them. Aargh! They were supposed to be for EVERYBODY!

(Siranaya) “Charles, what happened? You and Elzeard look pooped!”

(Charles) “Ah, I take it that you weren’t watching? Well, it was a major repair operation in Yu-Shan, and it took up a LOT of power and resources”.

(Siranaya) “no, I was too busy gardening for once! It’s cool not to kill plants when I touch them!”

(Charles) “Well I’m glad that’s working for you! And there was rather a lot of fuss in Yu-Shan; there were some attacks, and the carnival had some high-powered visitors this year!”

(Siranaya) “Oh no! I hope you were okay!”

(Charles) “I did all right, but it was very tiring!”

(Siranaya) “Did you win any prizes?”

(Charles) “Er… “Most Energetic Spellcaster”, “Most Dramatic Performance”, and the “Symphonic Music” award! As well as first place in audience participation!

Well, it HAD been a very lovely piece that would be remembered for centuries.

(Siranaya) “Cool!”

(Charles) “It was kind of neat! A lot of work though! I did promise to take a little time off afterwards!”

(Siranaya) “Let’s spend it together!”

(Charles) “Why not?”

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CCV – A Forest Interlude

Because some weeks you just don’t have time for anything major.

Charles had made it known to his schoolmates and the mortals he’d invited to Aden so that they wouldn’t be endangered during calibration that he would be doing something quite important, and that he shouldn’t be disturbed except for serious emergencies – but not EVERYONE had gotten the message.

Especially not a few young women who’d already taken advantage of the fuss leading up to Calibration to slip into Aden. After all… Charles was endlessly kind and friendly, incredibly wealthy and willing to support hangers-on, was more handsome and appealing than most major gods, would get them away from their (rather weird) divine parents – and he understood humans just fine while still being rather naive… It would be hard to find more desirable qualities in one entity than THAT!

As it happened, Siranaya had been looking a little harder than most. Charles showed the quality that she valued above any other in a potential boyfriend – being completely unaffected by her uncontrollable poisonous touch. That meant that she could FINALLY get hugged, and cuddled, and have a little fun experimenting with pollination…

The palace (with all the guest rooms) and Charles’s major residence had been disappointingly crowded – but a few careful comparisons had revealed that Charles… was routinely in several places at once. That was a very good trick! And it also meant that he was also likely to be found in some considerably quieter and more… private… places!

She’d set off to find one.

Charles did have a semi-private retreat deep in one of the wilderness areas. The Kickaha liked to meet him in a less formal place – and he liked to mess around with small projects there. It wasn’t hard to find if you asked the Kickaha, but was pretty well concealed otherwise. There were trees growing a wide variety of fruits, herbs, and medicines (all on the same tree of course), small tree cottages, a few friendly Kickaha hanging about, some ice-caves, and lantern-birds (friendly birds that liked to follow people around. They had luminescent flesh and brightly-colored feathers in various artistic patterns. When it was dark they glowed like mobile stained-glass lanterns and sang like gentle flutes…

And everything was immune to poison, because it WAS Aden.

Siranaya had found her way there easily enough; the Kickaha saw no reason not to lead another girl with rather… transparent… intentions to Charles’s bed. A little sex was an excellent way to deal with stress! Charles had MORE than enough stress at the moment! Maybe they should lead girls to several more of his avatars? Even if THIS one was somewhat diverted by the opportunity to pet things without gloves and protective gear…

The birds glowed happily at her, and eagerly pecked up grains and seeds.

Although Siranaya waved at Charles quite happily when he turned up.

Charles, who had been trying to give squirrels matched to the trees advanced instinctive medical skills so that they could hand out the right medicines to passers-by, happily waved back! This avatar might be running on a background process in his Synergistic Overmind, but that was no reason to be RUDE!

(Charles) “Hello Siranaya! I didn’t know that you were coming to visit!”

(Siranaya) “You’ve been really busy lately, so I thought I’d find an avatar or something here.”

Charles was somewhat impressed! Most people didn’t yet know that he was using multiple avatars! She’d been paying attention or doing some investigating on her own!

(Charles) “Well, things are pretty busy – but there’s a little time until they need my full attention yet!”

(Siranaya) “Phew. That’s good… um, is everything OK? You haven’t sent one to school lately.”

(Charles) “Oh… well, there’s a big and urgent project underway, so I took some time off. The teachers didn’t worry much; I’m way ahead on pretty much everything anyway.”

(Siranaya) “OK! I was just worried about you, not that I think you’d get sick.”

(Charles) “Well, thank you! It is all right, but it’s always nice to have someone check!”

(Siranaya) “Um… (Hm… Charles must REALLY be busy! He seemed even stiffer than usual!) hey, I’m starving! Whey don’t we get something to eat!”

(Charles) “Good idea! Lunch? I’ve got all kinds of fruits and nuts and things here! The trees are turning out really well!”

(Siranaya) “Yeah, I saw! And they don’t bubble and rot when I touch them, so I can pick some for you, too!”

(Charles) “Well, toxins don’t really work around here – but they generally aren’t needed here anyway!”

(Siranaya, smiling) “Let’s see…”

She made sure to hold Charles’s hand while the two of them picked some lunch – and while Charles had no objections he now had enough experience to guess on where this might be going. He cheerily carried her selections, quietly leaving her more or less in charge of what to pick. He knew what the male role in “shopping” was! All the guides he was referencing said so!

It turned out to be a diverse selection of nuts, fruits, and some of the earthier vegetables – which made quite a good lunch, with nothing much to clean up afterwards. A VERY tiny bit of magic was quite enough to handle THAT.

Siranaya didn’t try to feed him any of the food – she didn’t want to chance being TOO forward – but she did sit fairly close to him. Charles… had engaged analysis mode! He offered HER some nibbles (even if they did tend to come with all kinds of details on them) and occasionally made small contacts to help judge her behaviors…

She was very receptive to contact – almost desperate for it, although she was trying to hide that. Pretty obviously touch-starved… That was rather cruel!

He “mistakenly” sat down in contact after getting up a bit to reach a fruit on the far side of the table for her.

(Siranaya) “Oh! Oops. Ha ha!” (She put both arms around him!) “I’ve got you now… It’s not often I get to hold onto people without gloves! Let’s see how soft you are!”

(Charles, cuddling back since she was obviously desperate for it) “Well so you do! I’m no leprechaun, but did you have a wish?”

(Siranaya) “Stay the week? Something big is happening, and Mom was probably going to send me here anyway. Is that OK?”

(Charles) “Oh certainly! I was inviting lots of people to stay during the event anyway…”

She did seem to be looking for the straight line. Evidently she thought that he was pretty naive – and it had been a while since he’d been at school. Well, why not?

(Charles) “There’s only one bed in this cottage though! Would you prefer to be alone?”

(Siranaya, with a wink) “Oh no! You can stay here too, right?”

Well THAT was fairly direct. And… her clothing was… ambrosial and a bit more revealing than usual, although not totally immodest.

And she HAD just invited him to share the bed with her.

Oh well! It WAS a pleasant diversion and relaxation! Charles offered an arm, pulled the curtains to show her the bed – and let matters proceed. Reading all the signals was a good deal more complicated than finding a couple of naked girls in his bed offering themselves (that had been really simple!) – but it was fun, and the fact that she blatantly knew exactly what she’d come for, and was only steering him through the motions of her “seduction”, was quite helpful. She’d even made sure to bring (and use) a contraceptive talisman…

And there was plenty of cuddling for several days.

Siranaya’s mother was only very mildly annoyed; her daughter could have TOLD her that she was running off with a schoolmate! She’d been trying to arrange a marriage among the medical and biohazard gods, given that Siranaya’s poisonous touch made her an awkward bride for anyone else! The fact that Charles was more than willing to send her lots of presents, and to make sure that her flowers were widely distributed and protected, on top of the fact that it would be hard to find her daughter a more powerful or obliging husband even WITHOUT her condition – was quite sufficient.