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No Game Tonight (OOC)
On the off chance you didn't get my text message, or I or someone else didn't tell you in person, there's no game this week, sadly. I had intended to go the entire campaign without missing any weeks (which is why we had a re-scheduled game instead of just canceling when I went to my dad's birthday dinner).

In any case, we'll definitely be playing next Wednesday. OR ELSE.

Abby will still be in town to play then, and assuming Jese and Leila can make it, that'll be eight players. As such, I guess I'll just have to make the game ridiculously difficult for you guys, then. So... it'll be fun!
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I'm having Kobold stew tonight...
I love the trips to Duran. I was in the market having a hard time deciding what to experiment with for dinner, when these Kobold showed up at the front gate, and answered the question for me.



So later, when we are done with this place, I'm thinking stew for sure. I'll get some vegitales from old Ned and cook it up nice. I would have considered steaks, but the meat seems pretty tough. I think nice slow cook would be better. Maybe pulled sandwiches? I'd have to go back in town for some bread... Hmmm...

Who knows - maybe this bunch I seem t'be workin with here might like to siddown to a meal and tell their tales. (and maybe I forget to mention my special ingredient before they start going on about how good it is... *wink*)

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Pointer-left Lodoss2_thumb

Martouk
Posted in Duran Keep
And so it begins...
I was at the Temple this morning talking with Toring about needing to stretch my legs. I've learned about all I could from him and the eladrin of the Twilight forest.
Toring
Erathis will surely guide you on your quest for knowledge. You should seek out companions for your adventures. Erathis teaches us that we each have a part to play in the greater order of things. You are quite knowledgeable and skilled in the arcane arts. That alone may not be enough in these dark times, though. You would be wise to find those with skill that compliment your own.

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More Information Pamphlet
So, Wednesday's game was probably the least planning and forethought I've put into any mission for this campaign, and I still thought it went over pretty smoothly. In fact, I even ended up switching the order between this game and the next, because I really want to put some effort into what is now going to be the fifth game, tentatively titled Digging Up Some Dirt.

Quote:
Understanding the Manasphere, Part II
Dr. Ellen Farley ThD, Dr. Philo Sexton PhD ThD, Dr. James Standingbear MD ThD, et al.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology & Thaumaturgy


The first part of this pamphlet was a refresher on the basics of astral space. This part will be a primer on phenomena one may encounter on the astral or physical planes.

Background Count
Mana originates from the metaplanes and covers the Earth, gathering around lifeforms and forming the astral plane. However, it does not necessarily cover the planet evenly, as the flow can eddy and swirl in some areas, surging through ancient ley lines, and pooling up in some places. Magical scholars refer to the level of ambient mana in any given place as background count. For a majority of the planet, the mana count is typically 0, though in some places the level of mana might be weak causing a negative background count, while in others it may be built up causing a positive background count. For all but the most skilled magicians, it doesn't make much difference whether the background count is positive or negative; anything but a 0 background count makes using magic more difficult. In areas of negative background count, mana is harder to gather and shape into spells or use to summon spirits. In areas of positive background count, the mana is so abundant that attempting to control it is akin to controlling a gushing fire hose.
  • At the lowest end of the spectrum are mana voids, places where there is very little to no mana to be found. Magical researchers and others who bother to quantify such things would say that a mana void represents anywhere between a -7 and a -12 background count. As the natural manasphere of the Earth tappers off at the edge of the atmosphere, all of space is considered to be one great mana void, with the exception of pockets of very weak mana near orbital stations or lunar colonies. Other mana voids include the so-called "blind spots" on the Earth's surface, found in areas of tremendous pollution (the SOX radioactive wasteland) or heavy manipulation of the local manasphere (the nation of Aztlan). A mana void can actually cause harm to mana beings within it; dual-natured beings, astrally perceiving or projecting magicians, and spirits can all receive lasting physical harm. It is recommended that you never astrally perceive or project while in a mana void (many mages will drink heavily or take a high dose of tranquilizers just before boarding a suborbital flight).
  • Areas of relatively low background count are called mana ebbs. Mana ebbs range from -1 to -6 background count. In these areas, magic is difficult but usually still possible. Astral space appears dimmer than usual to those attempting to assense within a mana ebb. Spirits and dual-natured beings are not hurt by mana ebbs, though they do find them uncomfortable.
  • Places of great beauty or strong emotional significance can cause mana to pool in the area, forming a domain. Domains have a background count between +1 and +6. Strong domains are often called power sites or astral nexi. In some cases, domains can form a line connecting two power sites, sometimes straight as an arrow and other times winding like a river. These are called ley lines, though other names for them include mana lines, dragon lines, or song lines. On the astral plane, domains are bright and can be as obvious as swirling eddies of mana. Domains are a common sight here on the campus of MIT&T, though a dedicated team of geomancers and cleansers work hard to keep the background count in check to make magic easy and comfortable for novice students.
  • An exception exists to the general rule that a positive background count makes magic more difficult: aspected domains. By their nature, almost all domains are aspected in favor of one tradition or another. Magicians of other traditions still find that the domain hinders their use of magic, while magicians of the tradition the domain is aspected towards will find their potency greatly increased. For instance, in a shamanic-aspected domains, shamans find their spells and spirits to be more powerful, while hermetic mages find it more difficult to cast spells or summon elementals in the first place. Mana lodges form an aspected domain in favor of its creator's tradition.
  • The final type of background count are mana warps, areas where mana surges and flares chaotically. These are, like domains, usually caused by areas of great emotional significance, though most recorded warps happen in areas of intense negative emotion such as the death camp at Auschwitz. Mana warps have a background count between +7 and +12. Mana warps are too turbulent to allow aspecting. Being exposed astrally to a mana warp is as dangerous as attempting to tap its power; it is impossible to see anything besides seething madness and senseless chaos. Many magicians who astrally perceive within a mana warp suffer lasting psychic damage and mental illness.

Mana Surges
While background count is permanent or semi-permanent in an area, sometimes mana can unpredictably spike in an area and quickly recede again. This usually happens in areas of extensive magic tampering as the natural tide of mana sloshes uncontrollably. Magic within a mana surge behaves erratically, and no two magicians can expect consistent results. Casting a spell or summoning a spirit within a mana surge might fail completely or else find the strength of the spell or spirit increased or decreased at random. Sometimes the results are even more beyond understanding, resulting in a temporary curse of sorts on the magician, dubbed the "Witches' Mark" with bizarre effects.

Mana Storms
Sometimes the highly concentrated mana in a domain or mana warp can spill out into the world, creating a mana storm. These swirling and chaotic areas of unleashed mana are moving zones of background count equivalent to the domain or mana warp they originated in, and mana storms that come from an aspected domain will maintain the same aspect. On the astral plane, they appear as swirling clouds of mana, crackling with energy, while on the physical plane they manifest similar to violent weather patterns, but with the added illusory effects typically found in a Confusion or Chaos spell.

Alchera
In some particularly charged places and times, the mana in a region can spontaneously form creations in the physical world. These alchera (a word borrowed from the Arrernte Aborigines of Australia) typically take the form of natural terrain such as lakes or rock formations but can also assume the forms of man-made structures such as buildings, bridges, or even ships. They exist only for a short time, and often occur on important dates such as anniversaries of notable events or dates of astrological significance such as an equinox.

Manifest alchera are insubstantial, simply an image created out of pure mana, and will appear as a ghostly, translucent object; many believe that some or all UFO sightings might be caused by manifest alchera. Materialized alchera assume an actual physical form in otherwise unoccupied space, such as a building simply appearing on a flat piece of ground. Though materialized alchera are solid, they still give off an apparent otherworldliness, such as emitting a fog or being cold to the touch. Being inside a materialized alchera as it appears or disappears is disorienting, but rarely dangerous. The final type of alchera is referred to as "replacement" because it can take the place of existing terrain, sending part of the "real world" away and taking its place. Examples of replacement alchera include rivers or small canyons appearing where previously there had only been flat ground.

Both materialized and replacement alchera are dual-natured constructs, existing on both the astral and physical planes. Some researchers here at MIT&T believe that alchera may be attributable to an intersection between the physical world and the metaplanes. Alchera of all three types are not unheard of on and around campus, probably as unintended side effects of some of the magical experiments.

Astral Shallows
In some parts of the world, the barrier between the physical and astral planes occasionally weakens, a phenomenon referred to as astral shallows. While in an astral shallow, even a mundane can see the astral plane. The auras of other people become visible, as do spirits and other astral forms such as spells and barriers. This astral perception is every bit as detailed as a normal magician's astral perception, though it is a bit more cluttered as it is overlayed on top of the physical world, rather than shadows of the physical world. A magician who can astrally perceive at other times finds switching his perception back and forth to be much easier while in an astral shallow. These astral shallows are harmless and usually only last for a matter of hours. Again, astral shallows have been observed here on the MIT&T campus, though usually for very brief periods and in very localized areas.

Astral Rifts
Unlike harmless phenomena like alchera and astral shallows, astral rifts can be more dangerous and must be approached with caution. Astral rifts form a bridge directly from one fixed place in the physical plane to a place on the astral plane, allowing anyone to astrally project, whether they are a magician or not. These rifts do not always have an obvious presence on the physical plane, usually appearing as a shimmer or similar to heat ripples in the air or sometimes as an aurora-like glowing haze, though occasionally they are obvious tears in physical space, showing as brightly luminescent.

In some cases, astral rifts can even connect to the metaplanes, allowing a person to travel there without having to pass the Dweller on the Threshold. However, non-Awakened and the uninitiated must use the rift to return to their bodies; if their body is moved from the rift's influence on the physical plane, return becomes impossible and their astral form dissipates leaving their body in a permanent coma. Further adding to the risk of using a rift, the exact metaplane it connects to is often undetermined, potentially delivering a traveler to a particularly deep metaplane. Some astral rifts are known as "deep" rifts and posses the power to physically draw victims into its area of influence and then force them into projecting into the metaplanes.

As the School of Thamaturgy is looking out for the safety and well being of the students here at MIT&T, astral rifts have only rarely been opened on campus and in those few cases, they have always been locked down or otherwise controlled within a few minutes of first being observed.

The Metaplanes
Though not a phenomenon, the metaplanes are still not fully understood. Where the astral planes are an alternate realm that exist in the same space as the physical plane, the metaplanes are even further removed. They are innately indefinable but represent a wide variety of places, realms where the spirits reside, many bearing strong resemblances to ancient mythical places such as Shambhala, Hyperborea, or the Navajo emergence lake.

In almost all cases, a magician needs to be an initiate to gain access to the metaplanes. Doing so involves extensive careful preparation, then passing the Dweller on the Threshold, and finally completing one or more trials once in the metaplanes in order to achieve the goal of the metaplanar quest. This goal might be to conceal an astral signature, perform an initiation ordeal, learn a metamagic technique, or gain power over a spirit.
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Epic!
Chalk Up Another One
I got another letter from my dad's office yesterday. Pretty much said the same thing as the last one:

Mr. ********, (*Sorry, kiddoes, I'll always be Fat Nerd to you*)
It has come to our office's attention that you persist in your efforts to reach Senator Hadris Nuon by attempting to compromise the local mainframe. He wishes to remind you that his contact information is available as public record, should you need to reach him. Senator Nuon has informed us that he does not wish us to press criminal charges for your trespass at this time, but he also wishes it be known that such intrusions cannot be permitted in the future. He also personally asks that you handle with extreme discretion the information you gathered during your recent viewing of his personal comm records.

(*This final part is the real kicker*)

In closing, the Senator wishes you a Happy Birthday, congratulates you on your recent accomplishments, and hopes for your bright future.

Yours,
Office of Senate: Security


Happy birthday?? In a warning letter from the security goons?? Either all this government crap has finally addled "Senator Nuon's" brain, or this is the best gag gift I've ever received. No jokes here, as the idiot letter came with 500 nuyen. 500? What am I even supposed to DO with that? And it came a week after my birthday anyway! Don't get me wrong, Dad has always been an asshat, but this is a new low even for him. I'll be damned before I become some corporate or government flunkie like him. Ha! Worse, that he was a corp goon, THEN became a govie goon.
I find myself torn over my favorite part of this letter: the "should you wish to reach him" bit, or the EXTREME DISCRETION bit.
1. We have nothing to talk about.
2. I hack the site because it's fun, and because I like to add to my collection of letters from his office, and because I know he'll never do anything about it. He could never admit to siring me, nor could he bear the annoyance my arrest would cause his campaigning. Which brings us to..
3. You think I CARE what floozy tramps he's sleeping with? Call 'em escorts, call girls, or common whores, just because you pay more for it doesn't make it any classier. "Personally asks" my ass.

Eh, comm's going off. Looks like the team's got a meeting with a new Johnson. Oooo, and it's on the matrix this time! I'll check back in with you after the meeting and the mission. As an aside, remind me to brief you on the new team--we got some real wackjobs and weirdos this time through. Not that it's bad--they get the job done. They just make it very...interesting.
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