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Brief Announcement for Jan. 19

Well, there a few things we’re dealing with this week:

No Blog Entry

Sorry, no blog entry this week due to the work on the Arvan: Land of Dragons book taking precedence. I’m also dealing with the pirating of my work. Note that next week the blog may also be on hold as well. There is material there (straight from my GM notebook which is about half full at this point) its just that I don’t have time to decipher, copy, and storify it. The process of which takes about 2 to 3 days per entry.

Dealing with Piracy Issues

You’d think with how low my sales are why anyone would try to pirate my stuff but dealing with it I am (this isn’t the first time either). They’ve apparently converted the CRB into another format and are selling it without my permission or even prior knowledge. So I’m going through the process of issuing take-downs on the site selling the pirate copies.

Other Projects in the Planning Stage

However, on a more positive note I am also setting up for another project dealing with dwarves and their realm (using the Tabletop Meditations #13 as a starting point) as well as preparing for the Monster Magnus Vol. II and the Great Grimoire Vol. II. for which a great portion of the writing is finished. There is also material for other projects (Such as a Monster Magnus III) but those are far off at this point.

Arvan Release Date February 15th

Arvan is pretty much on schedule for its February 15th PDF release date. So look for that in February on RPGNow.com and DriveThruRPG.com.

Expanding Our Market Presence

Ranger Games Publishing is also trying to expand our brand onto new marketplaces. Look for our products in other places in the future! Very shortly we should be available on the OpenGamingStore.com!

 

 

The Cabal of Eight Pt.7: A Red Rat

The thug was nervously waving his dagger as he slowly backed away from the table while the group of The Bronzeheads red rat worn by the thugyoung mages tried to tighten the noose they had him in. Gornix (played by Gil) had already moved around to the opposite side of the thug between him and the door. Excor was keeping his distance but was approaching in a position angled just from where Fauna (played by Jenn) was standing trying to cut off a path to behind the bar.

Fauna was trying to “talk him down” but only accomplished in him pointing the tip of his blade at her. However, the druidess was able to discern the mark of the Bronzeheads on his chain-shirt; a fading painted red rat across his chest. In the meantime, Szoosha (played by Isis) was still at a nearby table eating.

After a few minutes, the Bronzehead seemed to resign himself to the situation. Taking a deep breath, he sheathed his dagger. He calmly wiped back his greasy hair from his face and then immediately lunged at Fauna. She sidestepped as he ran past her and around the corner past Szoo’s table. Excor, instead of running behind the bar to try to cut him off turned to pursue, as did Gornix pushing past Fauna. The thug stumbled drunkenly past the curtained booths and towards the door that led to the rear hallway. He threw it open and dashed in well ahead of his pursuers. However, he immediately smashed into a waiter with a tray full of food and beer who was standing just behind the threshold.

Bouncing off the unfortunate waiter the thug flew back, hit the floor, knocking himself out. The young mages caught up and helping the waiter to his feet gave him a small “tip” while excusing their “drunken friend”.  Gornix “helped” the unconscious thug to a chair pulled from the nearby-unoccupied table. He also took the “precaution” of searching him confiscating 50 gold devils, 8 gold pieces, and 7 silver pieces in the process.

Afterwards, the trio, plus Szoosha as he slithered up in mid conversation, began to argue about exactly what constituted “interrogation”.

Gornix: “I mean, … we gotta torture him, right? To get him to talk.”

Excor: “No. I mean … well I’m not gonna do it.”

Cris (Excor’s Player): “I’m good I can’t torture anybody! Hey wait … YOUR good too!”

Szoosha: “Yeah, yeah, let’s cut his fingers off!”

Fauna: “Guys? We’re in the middle of the tavern.”

Gornix: “Let’s take him to the cabal room!”

Excor: “We can’t torture him!”

Szoosha: “I’ll do it, he probably deserves it!”

Gornix: “See, Szoosha will do it.”

Excor (Pointing at Szoo): “NO! First of all I don’t want to bring somebody up there we don’t know! And we can’t torture him IN the room!”

After a short while the thug stirred in his seat as he began to come to. As a result, Fauna ducked around the corner into the rear hallway. Gornix readied his staff and Excor was going to try to “play it off”.

Excor (addressing the newly conscious thug): “Ah my friend you’re awake! We found you …”

Without a word, the thug erupted from his seat lunging towards the open doorway and pulling his dagger in a single fluid action. Excor leaped back and out of the way.

Excor (to Gornix): “You stole his money but forgot his dagger!?”

Cris: “You know that money goes to group right.”

Meanwhile, the Bronzehead was through the door and into the rear hallway heading for the backdoor into the alleyway. Fauna cast Invisible to Sight on herself and moved around the corner. Excor cast Blinding Flash not only blinding his target but also Gornix and Szoo. Gornix tried to blindly chase after the thug but wound up crashing into a wall and falling on his butt. Of course, Szoosha repeated that mistake and bounced off the doorjamb falling across the hallway floor. His tail tumbling underneath the feet of the fleeing thug tripping him up.

The fleeing Bronzehead slammed into the floor with a crash and the creak of over-stressed wood. His fine dagger flew from his grip clattering into a corner as his face met the floorboards.  Gornix, still blinded, got to his feet. Szoo, still blinded as well, also rose.

Though Fauna remained where she was should Excor let anymore spells fly. Gornix cast Invisibility I on himself disappearing from sight. Leaping over Szoo’s tail Excor ran past the thug on the ground and leapt onto the stairs (for some reason). Szoo cast Eternal Flame holding the bright red fire in his hand (for some reason). So, the thug jumped to his feet positioning himself to leap through the backdoor and out of the tavern.

Gornix regaining most of his sight rushed over to where the thug dropped the dagger and picked up the knife. Szoosha dismissing the crimson flame tried to press the thug into a wall with his scaly bulk but tripped over his own coils and face planted. Then the panicked thug jumped through the door smashing it open with his body and running out into the darkness.

Cris (to Jenn): “WELL! Track ‘em Druid, don’t you have tracking!”

Excor and Szoosha stayed behind and talked as Fauna ran after the Bronzehead hot on his trail with Gornix following behind her. So, the pursuing pair dashed through narrow alleys choked with piles of trash and filth. Their heavy steps splashed through dirty puddles and the salt in the warm summer night air set their lungs on fire. They passed under a massive white aqueduct arch that towered well over the surrounding three and four story buildings. Even the ghostly layer of smog visible in the moonlight hovered below its massive curve. Fauna shot around a corner with Gornix biting at her heels.

Suddenly she stopped. As a result Gornix slammed into her back forcing her face first into a filthy puddle and into a lot of what was hopefully mud. Fauna got up and collected her senses but found she had lost the rogue’s trail. Gornix remembering that he had the fugitive’s dagger cast Clairvoyance on it. But he didn’t get much, it was brand new and of superior quality. Although he did notice a maker’s mark stamped into its ricasso. It was a tiny acorn with a stylized Hyvalian character at center.

A little while after but still hot (and soiled) from the chase, Gornix and Fauna rejoined their companions at the Red Helm Tavern. They found Excor and Szoo at the bar talking with Draega Skullshine. They had the skinny on the red rat (the symbol of the Bronzeheads) and some semi-new information on Ssthris. The Bronzeheads were most probably protecting him for some reason or another somewhere within the old eastern wall or in the ruined tower. The red rat signified the rat fights that the Ezmerian mob oversaw.

Fauna: “That’s DIS-gusting! Poor little rats. Rat fights that’s horrible.”

Excor: “Rats pfft! I hope they all die! Disease carrying VERMIN! … Wait.”

Cris (to Gil): “Dude! Don’t you have a contact for that!”

Gil: “Um what? Oh yeah, um, Doubab? From the Pester’s Guild?”

Cris: “When’s the next cabal meeting? We should go talk to that guy after next meeting.”

The group of young, somewhat exhausted, and slightly sore mages decided to call it a night. As a result Excor left heading straight for his apartment to the southeast and Szoo headed back to the attic room he was staying in at the harbor across from the Rondel (a very successful seaside brothel in a reclaimed stone tower). Gornix accompanied Fauna to the central grove (basically Ezmer’s Central Park). Shortly, the pair ran across the groundskeeper who was familiar to Fauna.

So, she “scored” some yellow lotus from Anishi the groundskeeper and declared to the other two: “We’re communing with nature my friends.”

They were sitting near the center of the old menhir circle at the head of the park within sight of the city scaffolds. Anishi passed out the bumps and shortly after snorting the drug Fauna fell unconscious caught in a lotus dream. However, Gornix entered into a strange hypnotic state. As he leaned back and closed his eyes, he suffered weird visions.

His mind’s eye swirled into confusion and chaos and after what seemed forever, form began to emerge from the liquid darkness. There was blazing firelight without source in his eyes and faint rhythmic chanting rose in his ears. He could see a deep pit, a grave surrounded by a dozen blue-cloaked figures lowering another bound as a mummy in knotted cloth. Bronze masks detailed with curled locks, headbands, and smooth youthful faces covered all of their heads. The squirming mummy being lowered into the pit also bore a golden crown on his head, a king of old! His wide eyes glaring in horror from the eyeholes in his mask. The other figures were burying him alive! Gornix’s mind reeled and shot up into the air the strange blue druidic figures fading away replaced by the menhir circle under moonlight.

He could see his own body as well as that of Fauna sleeping on the grass. Without warning, his vision was propelled at tremendous speed southward over the tree tops of the grove to stop and sink into the darkness of the old amphitheater at the foot of the park. Among its shadows stood the dark outline of a wizard with a long beard, a sword at his side. Before that comparably imposing figure was a young boy, a street urchin with the impression of a pickpocket.

Gil: “Whhait!”

Me (the GM): “What?”

Gil: “Is this the guy we’re after?”

Me: “Nope. This isn’t Ssthris, the figure you see is humanoid not a naga.”

Gil: “Oh, okay.”

In silhouette, the wizard slapped the pickpocket after he presented both of his small hands as empty. Then a bright hot golden-white light began to sting his eyes. The next thing that Gornix could recall was sitting straight up dazzled by the late morning sun.  Gornix shot up and went looking for an alchemist’s shop. He had wasted valuable time. Eventually he found himself at a small out of the way shop after finding the dominant Sapphire-guilded alchemy shop too expensive.

The proprietor of this shop was a squat friendly and somewhat cheerful old man with a long white beard wearing plain brown robes fastened at the waist with a black cord. Gornix instantly recognized the proprietor as the old man who had referred him to this place just outside of the guild shop. Gornix was there to purchase some alchemist kits but the old man tried to recruit him for the Obsidian Guild. That mages’ guild was trying to get a foothold in Ezmer where the Star-Sapphire Confraternity dominated. Gornix tossed his gold devils and gold pieces onto the counter and turned to leave for his apartment.

However, he told the old man, named Wensaer, that he would consider his proposal to join the Obsidian Brotherhood. It wasn’t long before Fauna also stumbled into the very same shop also to purchase some alchemist kits.

Meanwhile, Excor had sequestered himself in his rooms and was busy crafting the copper spike. He was creating a Rod of Lightning Bolts, though with a Creator Level of 1. Gornix had intended to start formulating a new spell. Nevertheless, he would have to take a break in the middle of his research and experimentation. This was due to the cabal meeting being on the very next day.

The next day the cabal of seven, soon to be eight, convened in the clubroom at the east corner of the second floor of the Red Helm Tavern. Szoosha was present to put his mark on the group charter. Athfonia however, was conspicuously absent though when Belrae brought up her name our three (soon to be four or maybe five) heroes mentioned they had met her. Just before the meeting was to begin in earnest, Fauna thrust the Amber Bee into Bumble’s hand.

Fauna: “HERE! Take it! That thing’s trouble you should be careful and give back to your master.”

Jenn (to me, the GM): “We’re going to make sure after the meeting that she takes the bee to the Wasp. I want her to be safe.”

Fauna (to Bumble): “You know some pickpocket tried to snatch it from me on the way here? I put him to sleep though.”

Cris (Excor’s Player): “You had SLEEP this entire TIME!”

Jenn (Fauna’s Player): “Well. Yeah. Why?”

Cris: “The sleep spell!? This … You could’ve, the guy. We could’ve captured him! He wouldn’t have got away!”

Jenn: “I just forgot I had that spell.”

Cris just sighed in exasperation and throwing up his arms said, “Whatever.” Then he mumbled a little bit more under his breath.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight Pt.6: Gold Devil

It was still in the wee hours of the morning and dark outside of the Red Helm Tavern. The trio had

rat tails tied with a gold ribbon against a gray escutcheon

High Pesters’ Guild Heraldry straight from the GM’s Notebook.

already been introduced to a tall Ferenoi (Feren Amazon) named Athfonia (Played by Perla) by Draega. Apparently a new arrival to the cabal that their leader, Belrae had failed to mention.

Eager to talk business and naturally distrustful of the “new member” Excor urged her exemption (unnecessarily). This, as Draega guided them to the cellar. Immediately after the gold exchanged hands Excor was off to his apartment in the South Market District. His two companions and the newbie stayed at the invitation of publican Draega.

It wasn’t long before the drowsy bar-back allowed another into the quiet confines of the deserted tavern. It was the man famed as “Golden Devil”, a Lord of the Golden Devil Company. He was wearing a suit of leather armor under a gold carapace alive with flames and flying grimacing demon heads. At his hip on his wide gold studded black belt hung a coiled gold bull-whip. On his head was gold skull-cap with a top-spike and a brim of black fur. He wore a gold mask, an emerald eyed demon-face baring an expression of pure rage. A frozen rage that seemed to seep into his very frame and the carriage of his bulk.

With every heavy step the floorboards creaked under the devil’s weight. Immediately and without a word Draega led the supreme slave-master of Ezmer to the basement. Presumably to exchange the dagger of Dag-Athar for his reward. The three young mages rubbernecked with widened eyes as the devil walked by. As soon as the cellar door shut and the latch thrown, Gornix immediately ran up to it. He put his ear to the wood.

He could hear nothing and as he ran clumsily by, the bartender just shook his head. It wasn’t long before Gornix rejoined the other two. He could hear nothing. Fauna and Gornix entered into conversation with their (apparently) new companion.

Athfonia was a shaman from a semi-civilized part of the continent known as Fuglotia, a barbaric peninsula in the far north partially conquered and re-conquered by the Feren Queendoms. The amazon was dressed in furs with a grey fur-fringed cloak which billowed from her 6 foot 7 inch wide-shouldered frame whenever she turned to snatch and guzzle her drink from the bar. Under that she wore a grayish toga of thick wool trimmed in black and gold. On her feet a pair of wolf-skin boots secured with leather wraps. She had set her broad-tipped short spear to lean against the bar.

Later that day, by late afternoon, Excor was perusing the stalls in the massive bazaar until he found what he was looking for, a copper spike. After making his purchase the young mage headed to his main contact’s apothecary shop. The shop was located in a small box of a building at the crossing of two circumspect roads in the Old Market District with a direct view across a plaza of the Bazaar.

Babia (Sská in Split-Tongue) the shop-keeper was a slight woman in her later years. She wore a heavy white robe secured at the waist with a thick blue-felt band. She also wore a loose turban that also draped around her face in an effort to conceal the greenish scaling around her ears, on her cheeks, and along her jawline which in her later years has become increasingly prominent as well as her lack of ears. Of course, it only took a glance at her slit-pupil yellow eyes to reveal her half-Naga nature.

The atmosphere was pungent with the mixed scents of a plethora of exotic and fragrant herbs. Herbs which hung drying from the rafters of the shop like an upside down thicket in late spring. The potent umbrage almost completely obscured shelves upon shelves of jars and several multi-drawer apothecary chests. Excor was looking for some Yellow Lotus.

He was informed that someone came along and bought all of it up yesterday. So the young mage settled for 2 silver-pieces worth of shop-mix smoking herbs. Afterwards he left to meet up with Gornix at the Red Helm.

Gornix meanwhile was tracking down his contact, a ratter named Doubab in the un-policed Eastern District. The ratter who by chance was just walking back to the High Pesters’ Guild guild-house with a stave hung with at least a dozen dead rats. The experienced ratter had no news of any kind other than a bit of advice to not trust any “filthy” ratlings. However, when prodded a little more he did mention that there was a bounty of 1,500 gold pieces for a mage and assassin named Ssthris. The Bronzeheads were probably sheltering him but he wanted no part in that.

The Bronzeheads were the lords of street crime in Ezmer essentially the Ezmerian mob. A tattoo of a red rat was their mark. They have carte blanch within the ruined wall and tower in the Eastern District. Within the wall was a city within the city. Gornix high-tailed it to the Red Helm armed with new information.

Fauna at the same time was walking back to the Red Helm form the Bazaar where she ordered some “stylish” green robes from one Andras, tailor extraordinaire. She passed a bill-plastered wall and stopped to read a wanted poster that caught her attention due to its still-fresh glue. It listed one Ssthris, a half-naga sorcerer wanted for a series of assassinations in the Old Market District and one in the Bazaar. The reward was 1,500 gp. Suddenly, she felt a hand under robes.

She snatched the street urchin’s dirt encrusted little claw and saw that he had hold of Bumble’s “paperweight”, the fist-sized piece of amber with a golden bee at its center. She snatched the amber piece back and the kid ran for his life disappearing into the street traffic. The young druidess tried to follow only to find a bundle of rat-tails bound with a yellow ribbon that urchin had dropped.

That evening at the Helm, Excor and Gornix were already upstairs sequestered in the cabal room exchanging spells with each other. Fauna hit the front door at the same time as Draega was making his entrance to the establishment. He immediately comped her a jack of ale and began dishing about another new member to their “little club upstairs”.

Draega Skullshine: “Rumor has it he’s a black-scale Naga!”

It wasn’t long before the titular ninth member made his appearance slithering through the door and up to the bar to inquire upon the whereabouts of one Belrae Crokosa. Draega immediately glided up to the black-scaled Naga and introduced himself and Fauna. Szoosha was his name. He was apparently gifted when it came to fire.

Szoo (Played by Isis, Jenn’s sister): “I like to burn things.”

Szoosha had the ability to conjure a naginata of pure flame in his hands, the ability that marked him as a black-scale in the first place as well as being a Fire Elementalist. However, Szoosha was visibly uncomfortable with complete strangers suddenly knowing his name. Not long after Gornix and Excor wandered down and decided to buy food.

The group of four mages took up a table near the window across from the taproom. A bowl of boiled onions, a wood platter of bittles (honey drenched balls of ale-soaked bread), and for Gornix turtle soup in the shell. By the by, Fauna was busy scanning the crowded taproom and through the haze of pipe-smoke she saw a suspicious looking character at the end of the long table nearest the window.

She had caught him eyeballing the group and saw by chance (Natural 20) that he had a tattoo of a red rat on the side of his left hand. So, putting together what Gornix had told her of the Bronzeheads and their possibly sheltering the wanted sorcerer she decided to approach him and “charm him”.

She walked up to him and at the mention of Ssthris he shot to his feet and pulled his dagger. Excor and Gornix jumped to their feet but Szoosha was busy stuffing his face with handfuls of sticky bittles.

To Be Continued…