Monday, February 15, 2016

Fragments of the Last War - Timeline and Dating Systems

As is often common on any world at many times throughout it's civilizations life-cyles, the world of Eifer has multiple dating systems.

The two most common are After the Fall (sometimes known as After the Great War of the Horrors), which is an imprecise dating system at best since so much time passed.  That said it's the most common way to record old history.

The other used is after the Opening of the Caers when the sealed caers of Eifer opened.  This is a common system, especially in dwarf run areas.  Since very few other civilizations survived the last Horror War not two hundred years ago, the Opening of the Caers system has become very common in recent years with little challenge.

The Ogrin Empire maintained it's own dating system until about a decade ago when the Fae conquered the society.  Since then, their Fae masters have forbidden time and recordkeeping.

The Fadha archipelago was settled by elemental kin who eventually spread their civilization throughout the islands of the Gorrel Sea (west of Tirane) and in small settlements on other continents.

The City of Cymru maintains a separate system from the Founding of Cymru, which is used only in it's official records and histories as well as by the dwarf families. 

Timeline for Eifer

-19 AF - Log the God-Killer destroyed a portal defeating a horror incursion

0 AF - Year Zero of the Fall occurred some 10,000 years ago.

9150 AF - The elemental king settle the Fadha archipelago

9300 AF - The founding of the Ogrin Empire on the continent of Egao to the west of Tirane.

9600 AF - The founding of the Grippli Republic center on the city of Niblus that once existed near the current location of Cymru.  The Ogrin Empire sends a legion to Tirane, landing where Cymru is today.

9800 AF - The last War of the Horrors destroys those civilizations that had emerged in the thousand years since the Horrors last came to Eifer.  The Grippli Republic collapses as their capital of Niblus is destroyed.  The ogres are pushed out of Tirane.  The Fadha lose all but five of their island settlements.  The horrors are defeated at a great cost.

9880 AF/ Cymru 1 - Ten dwarf familes from Caer Colwyn, located in the central mountains of Tirane, discover backdoors to the caer.  Five go east and five go west.  The western families discover the ruins of an ancient city on the coast, which they named Cymru. 

10,000 AF/Cymru 110/OC 1 - The magically sealed doors to the caers, sealed (though there have been secret entrances) for 10,000 years open.  Many inhabitants, especially the non-dwarves leave the caers for the surface.

9 OC - Thanequeel, Nota'Cor, and Malpais come to Cymru looking for work.  They save the town of Darvek from a plague, enter some grippli ruins in the hills, and disappear.

14 OC - Grind and Piper attack a floating city of one of the True Fae crashing it in the mountains of Tirane.  They flee to Cymru.

19 OC - Thanequeel, Nota'Cor, and Malpais emerge from the ruins in the hills near Darvek.  Thanequeel parts ways and goes to Cymru to establish a Temple. Nota'Cor and Malpais meet Grind.  They are hired by Loren Gracchi to find protect his daughter and future son-in-law.  The high priest of Abadar sends them in search of a silver lyre.  They step through a portal, rescue Gretel and go to 1916 Earth, France, where they meet Louis.

20 OC - Loren Gracchi is killed, Gilna flees, the Gracchi family is removed from the Council.

21 OC - Grind, Malpais, Nota'Cor, Gretel, and Louis return from Earth and form the North Cymru Irregulars.  A giant portal opens south of Cymru.

***

Timeline for Earth

Earth has had numerous dating systems.  In the West, the current dominate system is A.D. (Anno Domini) written by current historians as C.E. (Current Era).  Current Era is just A.D. with the name filed off.

June 1916 - Grind, Malpais, Nota'Cor, and Gretel arrive in France near the French-German front.  They leave a few days later for Eifer taking Louis Mentur with them.

September 1916 - Louis Mentur is found unconscious in a hospital outside of Paris.

December 1917 - Gustav Waecter and anarchist friends discover and destroy a purple crystal at the University of Chicago's Anthropology department.

October 1918 - The Argonne Forest in France:  Louis Mentur, Gustav Waecter, Rudy McGraw, Eugene, and Jack Haytham confront a group of cultists trying to summon a horror and defeat the ritural.

March 1921 - Baghdad, Mesopotamia - Louis Mentur and Rudy McGraw are attacked by cultists from the cult they fought in France three years earlier.

December 1924 - Chicago, USA - Louis Mentur and Rudy McGraw disrupt a summoning at a party.

May 1926 - Berlin, Germany - Louis Mentur, Rudy McGraw, Eugene, and Gustav Waecter confront a young Adolf Hilter then infiltrate the Society of Thule.

January 1928 - Louis Mentur, Rudy, McGraw, and Eugune attend Gustav Waecter's Funeral.

Fragments of the Last War 1.23 - A Game for Knights, part 4

A Game of Knights is an arc within the Fragments of the Last War Campaign.

Earlier sections can be found here:
Fragments of the Last War 20 - A Game for Knights, part 1  
Fragments of the Last War 21 - A Game for Knights, part 2 
Fragments of the Last War 22 - A Game for Knights, part 3

"I looked down at the chessboard.  The move with the knight was wrong.  I put it back where I had moved it from.  Knights had no meaning in this game.  It wasn't a game for knights."
                                                                                       Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

More attention to the rules for grappling, suffocation, and our first character below 0 hit points.

Cymru, Tirane, Eifer
Ogronn 21, 21 OC (After the Opening of the Caer)

The Irregulars rested a day following their assault on the warehouse, aided by some healing from Mother Jahenna. After questioning Al and Edwina, the two recruits from the Dock Rats, they learned that the former leader of the Dock Rats, before he disappeared, used to take packages to a caravan master at the South Caravan Market near the South Cymru Gate.

Grind, Louis, and Nota'Cor left to meet with the dwarf caravaneer, Abel Hoster, who told them, for a bribe, he did take packages from the Dock Rats to a location south of the village of Auras - some 25 miles to the south.

On their return, they found Malpais talking with an elf - the first true elf they have seen.  The visitor introduced himself as Gerren de Andalus, a grey elf scholar and friend to the wizard Hawkin Jones.  "My dear Hawkin, suggested you lads might be able to help me."

Grind asked, "What do you require?"

"A gnome traveler, Lumpy Snortwood, has in his possession an item of value.  I want you to buy it from him."  Gerren removed a pouch.  "He won't sell to me.  You see, we have a history of disagreements.  But here is 100 gold gwin and the promise of another 100 when you return the item."

"What is this item?" Malpais inquired.  "How will we know?"

"You will know.  It will be the only thing he has worth that kind of coin," shrugged the elf. "Mal, we'll meet again to discuss the Gun-Knights."  Taking leave, Gerren left their headquarters.  He paused at the door.  "I have always wanted to see one of the old gate rooms," he mused.

Louis sat at their common table and lit a cigarette.  "Who are the pointy-eared Englishmen again?"

Malpais shrugged. "Some people call them elves, some people call them assholes."

Louis poured himself a cup of coffi.  "Oh, I see not everything has changed so much in this world."

As they packed their wagon to leave, an irascible faun called Piper arrived at the headquarters.  She greeted Grind and glowered at the rest.  Grind told everyone that since they were heading south into a wilderness none of them knew, he had recruited a faun ranger, Piper.  He and Piper had worked together in the past, but all he would say is they both fought the Fae together.

I have decided fauns and satyrs are not the same thing in Eifer, rather than the old D&D female/male same species, different name.  Satyrs are goat-human hybrid creatures, where fauns are deer-human.

Grind recommended the Irregulars take everyone with them rather than leaving any member behind.  Including the ogre katar who decided he would walk, were Nota'Cor, the half-orc swordcerer who intended to drive the wagon.  Malpais Rana, the grippli gun-knight, who sat beside Nota'Cor.

Nota'Cor went to find Gretel, the human child candymancer, but returned to the common room yelling.  She was gone and seemed to have taken most of his alchemical equipment with her.

The humans, Louis Mentur, a French mercenary from 20th century Earth, and Al and Edwina, the former Dock Rats, sat in the back of the wagon with the halfling Rolli.

Dinty, the goblin soldier, refused to go near the wagon because he claimed the horse could read his mind and would steal his thoughts.  Malpais concocted a sleep brew that he fed to the goblin in a tankard of milk.

Piper, their faun ranger, decided to walk with Grind.

After some debate, they agreed with Malpais that Yunque the grippli blacksmith should remain at the headquarters.

***

Ogronn 22, 21 OC

Traveling south the next morning was a different experience from the last time they left the city on orders from Lore Gracchi.  Then they were searched and chased.  The guards looked at their papers and waved them through.

In the months that had passed since the Irregulars returned to Cymru, thousand of tents from migrants and refuges (traveling from other parts of the continent) had gone up outside the city.  One of the guards warned that there was little guard protection, crime was high, but local groups were forming their own protection squads.  The Cyrmu Army (troops of House Ferrum) tried to keep the road clear, but a line two miles long queue had formed from those hoping to enter the city.

They passed groups of humans, halflings, gnomes, dwarves (of various levels of wealth), not to mention an assortment of other species - majara, half-orcs, orcs, goblinoids, xvarts - all seeking entrance in Cymru.  The guards noted, some were fleeing war (Nilhoon's forces were disrupting farms and villages to the East) were others came from all over seeking wealth or a living at least.

Traveling half a day in the chilly but clear day, the Irregulars stopped briefly at a new village being built along with a small military waystation.  The dwarf commander told them that an inn, barracks, and a new village had been built at Tyrau - the old fallen tower.  Malpais related to Louis the story of his, Grind, and Nota'Cor's previous visit to the tower two years earlier.

The inn being full, the Irregulars pitched tents around a campfire and prepared for a cold night.  They were met by a dwarf who was currently excavating the old watchtower, Jean Bordeaux, the younger brother to Duncan Bordeaux.  He quizzed Grind, Malpais, and Nota'Cor about their experiences and offered the Irregulars work in the future once they returned to Cymru.


Sometime in the middle of the night, however, they all woke with massive headaches.  Climbing from their tents, the Irregulars noticed the air was now warmer, spring like instead of freezing.  To the southwest, the sky glowed a faint orange, and high winds roared over the land.

Nota'Cor climbed to the top of the hill and standing beside the old hightower scanned the west.  He allowed his senses to take in the landscape and determined their was a disturbance to the southwest causing the change in the weather.  This he noted was the same direction of the orange light.

None of the Irregulars were able to sleep the rest of the night.

***

Ogronn 23, 21 OC

The next day, they passed more travelers on the road heading north, the construction of a new hamlet, and finally halted for the evening in the village of Auras.  In the two years, since their past visit, a wooden palisade and military barracks had been constructed. Auras still sat in a thicker forest a few miles from a swamp that covered this region. 

The soldiers at the gate into the village were hesitant to allow the Irregulars inside.  "We've had too many ogre attacks already," one noted.

The village factor, Jaques Aurem, inspected their company charter and allowed the group inside.  He asked if they were available to assist him.  Malpais told the dwarf that the Irregulars had business further south, so the factor offered them work should they return soon.

Like everywhere else, the village had grown in the past few years.  Still predominantly human, an unusual thing in Cymru, Auras had drawn a more diverse population with it's growth.   The inn with no name looked the same as it did during their last visit.    Villagers and travelers filled all the tables at the inn.  While all stopped and stared at Grind when he walked in, the the red-headed human innkeeper greeted them from behind his bar.

The silver-haired half-elf showed them to the last table in the house and took their orders.  Louis began mingle with the human villagers, buying drinks, asking questions, and mostly having a raucous.

In the corner, a drunk halfling, stared at Nota'Cor for a while.  He removed a small gem from his pocket and whispered.

Most of the Irregulars kept to their table, but Grind approached the bar and asked the innkeeper about the ogre attack.  He was informed that sometime after he and his companions left, the village was attacked by ogres.  Through eventually forced to retreat, the town suffered some casualties.  

The door to the inn opened and a half-elf entered.  Malpais recognized her as Yavie, the town alchemist.  "First, I would like to thank you," she said to the Irregulars - in particular Grind, Malpais, and Nota'Cor, "for rescuing me from the Fae."  She then slammed one of the mugs on the table.  "Now that's done.  You have a lot of nerve showing your face in this town after the ogres," she pointed at Grind, "loyal to you, attacked."

Grind shrugged.  "If your town beat them, they were weak."

Yavie stared at him furious.  "Don't come looking for any help here, ogre," she stated, then stormed from the inn.  No one would look at the Irregulars after she was gone - other than the drunk halfling.

***

Ogronn 24, 21 OC

When Louis found out, the next morning that Grind had insulted the town's alchemist he cursed them all in Parisian street slang and then took charge of the Dock Rats, Rolli, and Dinty to load the wagon and prep the horse.

Dinty decided to walk with Grind that day rather than be surprised by one of Malpais' draughts again.

After breakfasting at the inn, they were waved off by the red-headed innkeeper and his silver-haired assistance who called out.  "See  you soon."

Stopping at the palisade, the town factor, Jacques Aurem, saw them go, warning as they left.  "Be careful on the road to the south.  We have heard reports of unusual animals on the road.  Bears with the heads of birds for one."  Louis took a drink from a bottle of wine and cursed.

Several hours later, Rolli called a halt.  He and Piper went ahead to check out what looked like a scene of violence.  Once the others of the Irregulars moved closer, "Looks like an ambush," Piper told them.  "These humans," she pulled a bronze seven-pointed star necklace from under the shirt of one, "were attacked by these orcs and goblinoids."  She pulled a necklace of a red arrow from an orc.

Nota'Cor strode into the scene.  "This star is just like the ones who were poisoning the wells in Cymru and the mages at the Dock Rats' warehouse."  He took the red arrow.  "The day we went to find the well-poisoners, there were three groups preaching.  One, my dear Thanequeel.  The other the now dead bronze-starred humans.  And the last, a group of orcs in red robes with these arrows."  Walking among the dead he pondered,  "Let's see if we can follow them."

Piper grew angry as she watched Nota'Cor completely wipe out all the tracks.  "You idiot," she yelled at the half-orc who blinked at her.

Rolli interrupted.  "I found this human eye," he said and showed them an eye in a silver case.

Grind laughed.  "What treasures you find."

Malpais came close and looked at the eye.  "It seems to be pointing west."

Rolli turned the eye but it still pointed the same way.  "I found it on one of the dead humans."

Grind nodded.  "No doubt given to them so they could find where ever they were going."

Piper looked at the thick cork trees.  "The horse and wagon won't be making good if any time here."

Grind surveyed the scene.  "Rolli.  I need you to stay with and protect the wagon and horse."

The halfing nodded and handed the ogre the eye trinket.  "Very well," he replied unperturbed.

As they packed up gear for the hike, Louis asked Grind.  "Do you think it wise to leave the halfing?"

Grind, without looking, grunted.  "He's about the only one I trust."  Glancing up, "I'd leave Dinty, but he'd just kill the horse for reading his mind."

***

From the Memoirs of Nota'Cor, the World's Best Swordcerer:

"The servants trembled in fear before hideous 20 foot tall plant monsters, as Nota'Cor, the World's Best Swordcerer, stood resolute.  Flaming sword ready, he single-handedly defeated the Corn Monstrosity.  The minions watched on in awe as the corn popped away before his fiery might."

***

The recent snows had all melted.  "It's nearly winter now," Piper kicked at a pile of damp earth.  "But it feels like summer."

Nota'Cor stated.  "I am detecting tremendous magic energies from straight ahead.  No doubt, they are aware of my arrival."

Grind glared at Nota'Cor.  "You'd best hope not."

Malpais and Piper scouted ahead of the group, the grippli in the treetops and the faun moving through the underbrush.

Returning, Malpais told them he had spotted a manor house on a hill nearby.  He had seen numerous horses and guards.  A blueish light shown from the top floor of the manor.

Piper returned and described a wall surrounding the property with guards walking on top.  She noted that directly ahead of them was a cornfield and a wall beyond.

Approaching the cornfield, the Irregulars moved slowly, hoping to hide their presence from the guards on the wall.  Malpais sprang into the middle of the cornstalks and watched the guard movement.  Once they had passed, Mal signaled for the group to move forward.

As the Irregulars entered the cornfield, the stalks pulled themselves from the ground and began to attack.  Grind shook off most attacks and began cutting down plants.  Malpais and Louis, not wanted to alert the guards, switched to melee (bayonet for Mal and a cutlass for Louis).  Piper and Nota'Cor both attacked the plants with their melee weapons as well (axe and two-handed sword.)

Al and Edwina failed a fright check and ran away, while Dinty rushed forward singing a song in dwarvish about eating horse brains.

Despite their best efforts  (maybe not best efforts on Dinty's part,) a guard spotted them and signaled for help.  Soon another guard followed, and the pair began firing arrows into the Irregulars who were struggling against cornstalks that attempted to grapple them.

Soon the corn pulled Nota'Cor to the ground and began smothering him. 

A cultist mage appeared at the top of the wall and began tossing fire at Grind and Louis, injuring both. Piper shot the guards off the wall, while Mal jumped to the wall and killed the mage with his blunderbuss. Edwina and Al returned, shaken, to save Nota'Cor.

Injured, yet victorious.  They climbed the wall and then headed toward the manor across the great cut lawn. By this time, approaching the house they heard screams and saw a variety of brown robed cultists fleeing the house by horse or foot .  Standing in front of the house, a dwarf in a bright glowing breastplate yelled at the fleeing cultists.

Nota'Cor, Malpais, Piper, and Nota'Cor rushed past the cultists into the bottom floor of the house.  The entry rooms were a wreck.  Flipped tables, food everywhere, cultists with dark burn marks dead or dying.  Upstairs they heard a rumble and screams.  Nota'Cor backed out the front door along with Piper, but Grind and Malpais rushed up the stairs.

As Louis and Dinty approached the house, the goblin went after the horses, smashing at them with his flail.  Edwina and Al looked terrified and stuck close to Louis.

Louis shot the breastplated dwarf with his pistol, but the breastplate stopped the attack.  The dwarf threw a blast of energy at Louis who ducked it.  Firing two shots, one from each gun, Louis attacked the dwarf again. Throwing up a hand to stop the bullets with some kind of magic, the dwarf screamed at the shots popped through his hand and arm.

Rushing up stairs, Grind and Malpais saw a room in chaos.  People in torn and bloody robes lay screaming or throwing themselves towards the stairs or windows.  An elven mage stood in the center of the room, his hands spread wide, casting a blue circle toward an ebon mirror.

From the mirror, poured hundreds of tentacles and giant eyes.  In front of the mirror on a small altar sat a piece of amber, a piece of driftwood, and a polished stone.

Malpais looked at Grind.  "This is why you don't try to summon Horrors. Idiots."

Grind charged the mirror, shaking off a feeling of cold terror and rammed his naginata into the frame, which exploded shards outward killing everyone in the room except Grind and Malapis.  Grind ended up at 0 hit points, and Malpais at -8.  Neither died and Mal managed to stay awake until they fled the house, but even with his companions removing shards from his body, the grippli slipped into a coma.

The shards around the mirror began to grow into odd fleshy things, while the place where the portal had been - the mirror's glass - remained open.  A twenty-foot tall humanoid of bronze skin, naked except for a great metal mask with deer antlers, stood before the opening.  He pointed to it with his spear and a gigantic blue worm creature began squeezing it's way through.

The house rumbled. Louis stood before the bleeding dwarf when the windows above exploded outward.  "Merde," he said, then shot the dwarf in the head and pulled the breastplate off.

Grind came rushing downstairs with Malpais.  "The opening is still there.  We need to destroy the house."

Louis nodded.  "I have the rest of my explosives."  Rushing back into the house, already shaking, the Frenchman planted the remaining explosives, while Grind told the Irregulars to flee.  Dinty rushed up, covered in horse brains, and took Malpais from the ogre, as the Irregulars rushed downhill.  Louis quickly followed.

By the time they reached the wall, the house collapsed in a loud explosion.  A great circle formed where the house had been and a gigantic blue worm the size of a sailing vessel emerged.

"Our work here is done," proclaimed Nota'Cor, and the party fled to find Rolli.

Each session we we add more GURPS rules for combat.  This time we finally got to deal with bleeding and below zero hitpoints.  Next time we will be tracking HT rolls for fatigue loss in combat.

I intend to work with the players to redesign powers for next session as well.  I want to change magic and special abilities so they work more like psi (though I don't intend to call it psi.)

The last section of this game was inspired by events presented in Penumbra: Three Days to Kill by Atlas Games.  

With the destruction of the holy items (which the group had been tasked to recover) and which were destroyed, this marks the end of the arc A Game for Knights.  The main story of Fragments of the Last War continues in chapter 1.24