The players got on a boat headed for the island of Mar Talos. Enroute, the captain planned to stop at Fort Bolland on the island of Mar Tesaro and sell some weapons. The island is at war and the captain has been making trade runs, selling war supplies to one side.
As the ship arrived, they found the town had been conquered. Guessing that perhaps the forces controlling the town would not be too happy to see them (since they were there to supply their enemies) the ship headed for the next closest city. A storm came up and the ship sunk.
They made it ashore, although most of the rest of the crew perished. The players lost track of their companion, Endo. One of the crew members decided to travel with them.
They encountered some of the conquering forces. The soldiers tried to arrest the party, assuming they were mercinaries for the other side. A battle ensued. The players won and headed for the village of Breakshore. Upon arriving, they found this village had fallen as well. The southern forces (the Alidians) have won the war. Soldiers have captured this town, killed a few of the men, and taken over a few houses for their own use.
The players learn that their friend Endo passed through this way the day before. He was traveling with a companion.
What is Endo up to and who is he with? The session ended with these questions on everyone’s mind.
Skeeve and Enoch have a conversation with the head priest. Apparently Alidian solders now roam the land, which is under martial law. Anticipating that perhaps resistance forces might take to the hills and strike at them from the wilderness, the Alidians have decreed that nobody is allowed in the countryside, or even outside of town. To travel abroad openly, they will need travel papers. He suggests such a thing might be obtained in the town of Crossway to the south, either by appealing to the local magistrate and pleading their case, or (perhaps) through forgery.
Skeeve thanks the man for his time, and the two turn their attention to the piles of dusty books in the library. There seems to be far more than one would expect in a town this small. Books fill every shelf, cover every desk, and are piled in various corners of the room.
Most of the books are mundane histories or geneologies. There are also books of heroic deeds. These are books written in flattering terms about various nobles, and usually commissioned by the noble in question. As a nobleman gets old, he will usually hire someone to write a greatly exaggerated version of his life, and have it added to the local library. The books have no value to anyone, except that the nobles generally pay vast sums of money to have them written. The church makes quite a bit from this practice, and so these books are kept in the library alongside more serious works in order to encourage the practice. There are an awful lot of these sorts of books here.
There is also a book of maps. In it, Skeeve finds a handy map of the surrounding area:
Northern Mar Tesaro.
Click for larger view.
Skeeve borrows a nearby stand and spends a few hours making a copy of the map for himself. He also asks one of the scribes handy about the overflow of books. The scribe explains that over a year ago (before Crossway fell to the Alidians) the people of Crossway sent their books north to Woodhurst for safekeeping. When Crossway fell, the people of Woodhurst sent their books here. So, this town has rather a lot of books from other areas.
One of the books catches Enoch’s eye. It seems to be a book written in an archaic form of common, (with bits of other old languages added, seemingly at random) which makes it very hard to decipher. This would seem to suggest that the book is quite old, although from the condition of the book it seems to be new, perhaps less than a decade old. This is sometimes the case when old, tattered books are copied, but it is customary to note the purpose and origin of the original work when doing so. This book has no such markings. Indeed, this book is not signed or dated at all. And finally, every other page has been left blank, as if the author expected someone to translate this work.
Enoch asks the scribe about this and he explains that the book has floated from place to place for some time. Various scholars have taken a crack at the old text, but none of them have been able to successfully translate it. He adds that Chronicler Rhillos in the city of Fol Thron (somewhere south, he doesn’t explain further) has offered a reward – a bounty, if you will – for anyone who can figure out what the book is all about.
Enoch notices that some of the old text seems to be an old form of common from Dunlock, his homeland. He gives it a try. A few hours later, he has managed to translate the following:
Editor’s Note: What follows is not a proper history, but instead a collection of tales and folklore from the inhabitants of Mar Tesoro. These have passed on through the generations, doubtless with many changes and alterations. The story usually varies greatly depending on the geographical location and race of the storyteller. The most common elements of the differing accounts are gathered here to form a single tale. It is recorded here for archival and reference, not for any supposed historical value. Indeed, many portions of the following are highly unlikely and should be viewed with utmost skepticism.
– Chronicler Norvus
In the earliest days of Mar Tesoro, the southern lands were inhabited by a peaceful clan of mountain Elves. They were gentle and kind, slow to quarrel and preferred music and wine above swordplay and bloodshed. They lived on the slopes of the great mountain, which they named Mt. Fiore, which means “the place of flowers”.
The mountain was tall and green in those days, and was fair to behold even in the cold of winter. Fairer still it was in the warm months, when the slender trees would bloom large flowers and clothe the mountain in white and gold. The tall peaks caught the spring rain and made the lands below rich and fertile.
Few others visited the lands. Only a few Gnomes and fewer humans had walked the slopes, and no Dwarf had even set eyes to the mountain in those days.
But Dwarf-King Thul Marblade came at last to the shores of Mar Tesoro. He came to the Elven chieftain Ellas Morad, and asked for leave to climb the mountain. “For”, said he, “it is the way of all Dwarves to seek the mountains and learn their ways.”
Morad gave him permission to walk the slopes, and the Dwarf departed at once. With him were many strong but grim Dwarves of his kind. As they ascended, a powerful greed came over them, for they saw that the stone of the mountain was filled with both silver and gold in plenty, as well as many fair gems and rare stones. Never in all the Earth had any Dwarf seen such abundant riches, and they marveled that such wealth had lain undisturbed for so long.
Thul Marblade climbed to the pinnacle of the tallest peak, and there he spoke to his kin, “Brothers, here lies the greatest of all mountains of the Earth. Behold how rich it is with treasure, how bold and strong its rock, and how kingly its shape! Surely we must build here a mine, or we are no Dwarves at all.”
His company agreed, and they departed from the mountain.
Enoch shows the scribe his work, and the scribe suggests he take the book with him. He requests that he show it to the scholars in Fol Thron once he completes the task.
This is also a fun way to convey information / disinformation, history, and lore without reading it to the group myself. I just hand out this text (which is printed in a nice faux-medeval style of caligraphy) and they players can read it at their leisure.
Quakecon 2012 Annotated
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Revisiting a Dead Engine
I wanted to take the file format of a late 90s shooter and read it in modern-day Unity. This is the result.
Silent Hill Origins
Here is a long look at a game that tries to live up to a big legacy and fails hilariously.
Final Fantasy X
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The Gameplay is the Story
Some advice to game developers on how to stop ruining good stories with bad cutscenes.