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d20zine
Issue 5, June/July 2003
Chris DesRuisseau (order #2353113) 129.162.1.32
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Chris DesRuisseau (order #2353113) 129.162.1.32
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Ovrwrows
Random Rolls and Off Tangen Tbougbts ..............................................
oy S:cvcr Crccc|. Lxccu::vc C|o:rmor
4
Raves and Rants ....................................................................................
oy You. or Somcorc L:|c You
5
Frzatnrs
15 Questions for Troll Lord Games ......................................................
oy ]oc G. Kus|rcr
10
Express Lane: Too Many Items .............................................................
oy Roo Vo¡czy|
12
Ben Hiar ...............................................................................................
oy ]o|r Vommcr
13
Alta - A Fantasy World Proposal ..........................................................
oy |c:cr L. Apcr|o
64
E-Tools, Version 1.2: Tbe Revision ......................................................
oy G|crr Dcor
65
From tbe Annals of Ancient Lore: Sirensong .........................................
oy lcrry O’Br:cr
69
Superberoes in tbe d20 World: an Introspective Look ...........................
oy ]o|r Gr:gsoy
70
Grimoire Arcana: Celestial Bindings .....................................................
oy l:mo:|y Crumr:rc
79
Valley of tbe Dwelves ............................................................................
oy Brc: Boyá
108
Easily Defeated ......................................................................................
oy Roocr: M. Aáoms
115
Oatbbound: Companions for your Campaign ..............................................
oy ]omcs V:|our
118
Humble Beginnings: A PbeM Tale ................................................................
oy Roo Vo¡czy|
123
Grimoire Arcana: Temple Monk ....................................................................
oy l:mo:|y Grumr:rc
126
Te Miniatures Corner .....................................................................................
oy S:cvcr Crccc|
134
Sorcerous Blood: Prestige Classes ..................................................................
oy Duorc Nu:|cy
136
Drvzna¬rwas
Cowarsas
Celtic Heroes and Legendary Figures ............................................. 5
Babylon 5 Fan Fiction ..................................................................... 22
Legendary Classes for Legendary Cbaracters ................................. 86
Rrvrrvs
From tbe Fast Lane .................................................................................
oy S:cvcr Crccc|
100
e-Publisbers Guide ........................................................................
oy S:cvcr Crccc|
68
Midnigbt: A Look at tbe Land of Sbadow ......................................
oy S:cvcr Crccc|
117
From Stone to Steel .......................................................................
oy S:cvcr Crccc|
124
Scourge of Worlds: Tbe DVD .......................................................
oy S:cvcr Crccc|
145
Cnrnras:
Executive Cbairman:
Steven Creech
Contributing Autbors:
Jon Acheson, Robert M. Adams, Peter
E. Aperlo, Richard Bax Jr., Bruce
Boughner, Bret Boyd, Dave Chua,
Steven Creech, Timothy Crumrine,
Kevin Curow, Glenn Dean, Darrin
Drader, John Grigsby, Derek Johnston,
Paul W. King, Joe G. Kushner, Herman
Lau, Jamie Lawson, Micheal Mattei, Joe
Medina, Scott Moore, Duane Nutley,
Terry O’Brien, F. Wesley Schneider,
Bernard Visser, Michael Webster, J.
Whiting, James Wilbur, Rob Wojczyk,
and John Wommer
Cover Art:
Michael Loh
Editors:
Steven Creech, Andrew Garbade, Chris
Sims and Wade Nudson
Grapbic Layout:
Jefrey Fuller
d20zine
“Rcou:rcs :|c usc oj :|c Durgcors G Drogors
||oycr’s Horáooo|. l:rá Lá:::or. orá :|c
|s:or:cs Horáooo|. puo|:s|cá oy V:zorás oj
:|c Coos:
“Durgcors G Drogors orá V:zorás
oj :|c Coos: orc Rcg:s:crcá lroácmor|s
oj V:zorás oj :|c Coos:. orá orc uscá u::|
|crm:ss:or.”
‘á20 Sys:cm’ orá :|c ‘á20 Sys:cm’ |ogo
orc lroácmor|s ourcá oy V:zorás oj :|c
Coos: orá orc uscá occorá:rg :o :|c :crms oj
:|c á20 Sys:cm L:ccrsc vcrs:or 3.0. A copy oj
:|:s L:ccrsc cor oc jourá o: uuu.u:zorás.com
Chris DesRuisseau (order #2353113) 129.162.1.32
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RANDOM ROLLS AND OFF TANGENT THOUGHTS
Welcome to the Summer issue of á20Z:rc| Getting this issue out took a little more time than normal largely due to real life insert-
ing itself into my priorities (a long list, which I won’t go into). is issue is flled with a lot of great material. We’ve got a brand new
exclusive cover by artist Micbael Lob, whose work continues to blow me away. We have short fction based on the Booy|or S universe,
legendary classes, Celtic characters, product reviews galore, and some great articles by fantastic writers.
Do you realize just how truly massive the role-playing game market is? Granted, the d20 system owns a signifcant percentage of
that market, but there is still a lot of quality merchandise that doesn’t rely on that particular system. A visit to RPGNOw.com illus-
trates this diference quite well when you take the time to browse through the multitude of pdf titles (see RPGNow’s semi-monthly e-
magazine Downloader Montbly for a taste). ere are games for the FUZION system, the FUDGE system, Decipher has its CODA
system (which is basically d20-Lite), and other games even develop their own internal system based on any number of dice combina-
tions. Remember during the days of 2
nd
edition Durgcors G Drogors there was a game system based on a d30 put out by, I believe, a
company named e Armoury? While d20 is clearly the top dog in the genre, there are certainly other alternatives that aren’t inferior in
any way, just diferent.
For those of you who appreciate humor and have an appreciation for the publishing industry, take a few minutes to download Fan-
tasy Flight Games’ parody video Lorá oj :|c Gomcs. It consists of two parts and does require a broadband connection due to their size
(44 meg and 47 meg, respectively), but it is likely the funniest thing you’ve seen in a long while. ere are very visible spoofs of lc Lorá
oj :|c R:rgs. S:or Vors. and Ro:ácrs oj :|c Los: Ar|, but there are also some very subtle things that anyone involved in the actual RPG
publishing business will fnd to be hysterical. Trust me when I say there are several ‘insider’ jokes.
e quality of d20 products continues to improve with each passing month and each passing release. Companies that once strug-
gled to get it right are doing better, while companies that have always performed well are still publishing top-notch stuf. Some of the
better stuf to be released lately has been:
Dark Inheritance (from Mytbic Dreams Studios), a á20 Moácrr campaign sourcebook that combines elements of horror and
fantasy and blends it nicely into a modern day setting. It is refreshing, original and has truly captured my attention (and imagination)
while reading it.
Urban Arcana (from Wizards of tbe Coast), a á20 Moácrr® campaign setting that brings fantasy right smack into the modern
world. Now d20 Modern players can still play dwarves and elves if they want to. is is a book that is flled with potential. Now if only
Wizards would put it into the á20 Moácrr SRD so designers could have fun with it.
Midnight (from Fantasy Fligbt Games), a campaign setting where evil rules and players are among the few heroes left to oppose it.
is one has all of the best elements of a fantasy campaign and is a breath of fresh air in an overcrowded genre.
From Stone to Steel (from MonkeyGod Enterprises), a hardcover supplement that puts a historical perspective on weapons and
armor. Simply put, this book is incredible. It’s rare when a book makes me go “Wow” within the frst few minutes of examining it. is is
one of those books.
Of course, there are certain books due for release in the next couple of months that I am looking forward to reading. On everyone’s
minds are the new 3.5 edition core rulebooks from Wizards of the Coast followed closely by Monte Cook’s Arcoro Urcor:|cá. Person-
ally, I am quite anxious to see Cry Hovoc (a mass combat book from Malhavoc Press), I:c|ás oj B|ooá (another mass combat book from
Eden Studios), Booy|or S Ro|c-||oy:rg Gomc (Mongoose Publishing), S:orgo:c SG-1 Ro|c-||oy:rg Gomc (Alderac Entertainment Group),
and lcs:omcr: (Green Ronin).
e past few months and the next several are proving to be quite a ride for my career in the RPG industry. Not only have I accepted
the position of Director of Marketing and Media Relations with Bastion Press, but also this summer will see the publication of no
less than four books that I had a hand in crafting. Into the Green (Bastion Press) is due to be released any day now followed by Torn
Asunder: Critical Hits (Bastion Press) on July 14
th
. Oathbound: Arena (Bastion Press) will likely be out around the time of Gen Con
and fnally, Dweomercraft: Familiars (E.N. Publishing) will see the light of day within the next month or so. Of all, I am most excited
about lorr Asurácr because I had a huge hand in determining the artwork for the frst time. Many folks have lamented the decision by
Bastion to go black & white, but I have to say that they will be astonished at the artwork in this book. An artist by the name of Phillip
James has produced some truly fantastic images along with some by RB Hall. Stop by the Bastion Press booth at Gen Con and take a
look for yourself if you don’t happen to see the book before then. I think you will agree it is some of Bastion’s best art to date.
If you haven’t seen the press release, probably around October you will see the frst book that Kevin and I have written for Mystic
Eye Games called Dark Walkers. is one has been very exciting to write because we get to cut loose a little and show you, the reader,
how to have fun playing an evil character. ink of it as a kind of Boo| oj \:|c Dor|rcss for player characters. Even though it is a book
designed for e Hunt: Rise of Evil campaign world, the information in the book will work in just about any setting, including modern.
At the moment, we are still writing it, but with luck should fnish by the end of June (yes, we’re a little behind the deadline). November
will also see the release of another project from Bastion Press that many folks have been chomping at the bit to have. Right now, it’s a
secret project but if you ask us at Gen Con, we might be persuaded to tell… Of course, I have my hands in other projects and more than
a few ofers so, come September’s issue, I will likely have more news to fll you in on.
- Steve Creech, d20Zine! Publisher and Editor-In-Chief
Chris DesRuisseau (order #2353113) 129.162.1.32
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CELTIC HEROES AND LEGENDARY FIGURES
Edited by Chris Sims
Fergus Fitz Walter, Lord Higb Steward of tbe Realm, male balf-
elf Brd5IDrd9IRgr6: CR 20; ECL 8; Medium-size Humanoid
(half-elf ); HD 5d6+10 plus 6d10+12 plus 9d8+18; hp 118; Init
+5; Spd 30ft.; AC 18 (+5 |co:|cr, +1 Dex), touch 11, fat-footed
17; Atk +21/+16/+11 melee (1d6+5 plus 1d6 cold/crit 18-20, +4
jros: sc:m::or) or +19/+14/+9 melee (1d4+4/crit 17-20, +3 |ccr
s:|vcr áoggcr) or +18/+13/+8 melee (1d6+3, hcs| :o s:orc s:oµ) or
+19/+14/+9 ranged (1d4+4/crit 17-20, +3 |ccr s:|vcr áoggcr); SA
Favored Enemies; SQ bardic, druidic, and half-elven traits; AL NG;
SV Fort +16, Ref +12, Will +18; Str 13, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 16,
Wis 18, Cha 13. Height 5 ft. 6 in. Weight 170 lb.
Skills and Feats: Animal Empathy +6, Concentration +14,
Diplomacy +12, Gather Information +9, Handle Animal +8, Heal
+9, Hide +5, Intuit Direction +9, Jump +3, Knowledge (history)
+11, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +11, Knowledge (nature)
+18, Listen +12, Move Silently +6, Perform (harp/lyre) +9, Perform
(oratory) +9, Scry +5, Search +13, Sense Motive +12, Spot +11,
Swim +4, Use Magic Device +9, Use Rope +6, Wilderness Lore
+14; Alertness, Endurance, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Iron
Will, Lightning Refexes, Track, Weapon Focus (scimitar).
Special Attacks: Favored Enemies (Ex): +2 vs. Dragons, +1 vs.
Reptilian Humanoids.
Special Qualities: Bardic Music: Countersong, Fascinate, Inspire
Courage, Suggestion. Bardic Knowledge +8. Druidic Traits: Animal
Companion (Uneek), Nature Sense, Woodland Stride, Trackless
Step, Resist Nature’s Lure, Wild Shape (small, medium, or large;
3/day), Venom Immunity. Half-elven Traits: Immune to s|ccp spells,
+2 saving throw bonus against Enchantment, Low-light Vision, +1
racial bonus to Listen, Search, and Spot checks.
Bard Spells per Day: 6/5/3 (bonus 1
st
level spell for 13 Cha);
Base DC 11+spell level.
Druid Spells per Day: 6/5/5/4/3/1 (bonus 0/1/1/1/1 for 18
Wis); Base DC 14+spell level.
Ranger Spells per Day: 2 (bonus 1
st
level spell for 18 Wis); Base
DC 15.
Possessions:4 jros: sc:m::or . 3 |ccr s:|vcr áoggcrs (3), S
|co:|cr ormor. ooo:s oj c|vcr|:rá. c|oo| oj c|vcr|:rá. g|ovcs oj su:mm:rg
orá c|:mo:rg. ropc oj c|:mo:rg. ropc oj cr:org|cmcr:. r:rg oj or:mo|
jr:crás|:p. r:rg oj uorm:|. vcs:mcr:s oj jo::|. backpack, harp/lyre, B|or-
rcy S:orc¯. :uo hcs| :o s:orc s:ovcs¯ (29 and 38 charges remaining). *
See New Magic Items below.
Lorguogcs: Commor. Drocor:c. Dru:á:c. L|vcr. Sy|vor. 1 (Duc :o
Icrgus’ |:g| Ir:. :|c GM moy sc|cc: or oáá:::oro| oorus |orguogc su::oo|c
:o :|c:r compo:gr uor|á. suc| os o |oco| |orguogc spo|cr oy o Cc|::c-ooscá
cu|:urc :r :|c:r uor|á. o rco|-uor|á ooscá |orguogc !scc Languages in
Celtic Campaigns. oc|ou¡. or ory o:|cr ror-rcs:r:c:cá |orguogc spcc:|cá
:r :|c |HB. suc| os lcrror).
Uneek: Viper, Tiny: CR -; Tiny animal; HD 1/4d8; hp 1: Init
+3 (Dex); Spd 15ft., climb 15ft., swim 15ft.; AC 17; Atk +5 melee
(poison, bite); Face/Reach 2-1/2ft. by 2-1/2ft./0ft.; SA Poison; SQ
Scent; AL N; SV Fort+2,
Ref +5, Will +1; Str 6, Dex
17, Con 11, Int 1; Wis 12,
Cha 2.
Skills and Feats: Listen
+8, Spot +8; Weapon Fi-
nesse (bite).
Poison (Ex): Initial
and secondary damage: 1d6
Constitution. DC 11.
Note: Although Fergus
is defnitely a Celtic/Irish/
Scottish-infuenced character,
the specifcs of his country
(herein referred to as “the
Realm”), it’s current ruler-
ship, and it’s current form of
government are left purposely
vague so the character, his
background, and the related
plot hooks can be easily in-
corporated into any campaign
world.
Background
Many years ago, two
families ruled over the Realm
jointly. e royal line of
kings was descended from
one, while the noble line of
stewards was of the other.
e stewards served the kings faithfully. Acting as much more than
just seneschals, the stewards took the protection and well-being of
the country and its people every bit as seriously as the king himself.
Although one would expect a power struggle to eventually engulf two
such powerful families within the same country, the families were very
close, occasionally even resulting in a marriage between the two.
After several peaceful and prosperous centuries, the kingdom fell
under attack. After a long and bitter war, the king and the stew-
ards were deposed and a new ruler assumed control. e king was
executed, as were several of the stewards, as well as members of both
families. Although the new ruler tried to extinguish any possible
challenge to his authority, rumors persisted that several members of
the royal and steward families escaped and went into hiding, waiting
for the opportunity to rise up and take back their kingdom when the
I
n March, the d20 Magazine Rack ran a contest that paid homage
to the St. Patrick’s Day holiday by having contestants create an
NPC ftting of Celtic, Irish, or Scottish descent. While only receiving
two entries for this contest, it was evident that a lot of thought time
and efort went into them and therefore, the contest was declared a tie
for the frst time in the history of the website. Here are those entries
and their respective authors.
Fergus Fitz Walter, Lord High Steward of the Realm
by Scott Moore (scott.moore@ingrammicro.com)
Section 15: Fergus Fitz Walter, Lord High Steward of the Realm
Copyright 2003, Scott Moore
RAVES AND RANTS
Have something to say about
our articles or content in past
issues? Drop us an email at
S_Creech@d20zines.com with
“d20Zine feedback” in the subject
header and let us know what you
think. Your letters will be posted
in this column in the next issue of
d20Zine!.
Hi there!!!
I love the zine and the new opening
artwork looks excellent.
e article on the star trek card
game was very informative. It was
interesting to see how the rules had
changed/clarifed from when the
game frst came out.
Keep up the good work.
- Exiledvalthonis@wmconnect.com
Chris DesRuisseau (order #2353113) 129.162.1.32
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time was right.
For over 200 years, citizens of the Realm watched the prosper-
ity of their country dwindle away, as the new ruling family was more
concerned with increasing their wealth and power than attending to
the needs of the people and their country. Stories of the kings and
stewards of old assumed legendary proportions, as the people looked
to their rich history for inspiration and a sense of culture during this
troubled time.
Fergus was a member of an adventuring party that started to
gain notoriety throughout the Realm, as the people were eager to
hear the exciting stories of their exploits. After becoming nearly the
equivalent of a national hero, Fergus shocked the nation by assum-
ing the title of Lord High Steward of the Realm. Previously unbe-
knownst to all but his closest allies, Fergus was actually descended
from the noble line of stewards that once ruled the Realm. His public
claim to the title served to kindle a fre of nationalistic pride in the
people who had grown weary of the current leadership. When word
reached the Realm’s current ruling family, they saw Fergus’ claim as a
challenge to their authority and sent a group of their fnest soldiers to
bring Fergus in. ey never returned, but news began to spread about
the circle of standing stones around Fergus’s grove. e ruler sent
another group after Fergus, this time a cell of assassins, but they failed
to return as well. And news spread of even more standing stones
around Fergus’ grove….
Although Fergus has made no political move against the current
leadership, his very claim of the noble title has inspired as much
uneasiness in the current ruling family as it has pride in the people
of the Realm. At this point, the ruler may be too scared to attempt
another move against Fergus, as his popularity amongst the citizens
continues to grow. Can it be only a matter of time before the true king
returns and reclaims the throne with the help of Fergus and the sup-
port of the people?
Cbaracteristics
Although appearing perfectly human, Fergus is actually half-el-
ven. He has a round, boyish face, curly red hair, green eyes, and an ex-
tremely friendly, warm, and jovial demeanor. On the occasions when
Fergus’ leaves his grove and heads into town, children in the streets
love to follow him and ask him to play music for them during the day
almost as much as their parents ask him to tell stories or recite poetry
in the taverns at night. He is always happy to oblige them.
Uneek’s Story
Many years ago, a legendary saint named Patrick who had snakes
as a favored enemy, killed or expelled all the snakes from the Realm.
Several years ago, Fergus and his friends were adventuring outside
of the Realm, to the far south, were Fergus got his frst glimpse of a
real snake. Since he had never actually seen one before, Fergus was
fascinated by the creature, befriended it, and brought it back with him
to the Realm. He decided to name it Uneek, as a tribute to its special
status within the Realm.
Fergus’ Grove
Fergus’ Grove is a 180-foot diameter circle of densely packed
mature hardwoods, consisting primarily of oak, located in a generally
open area otherwise devoid of large trees. is can be an open plain,
a hillside, a feld, or whatever setting is most useful to your campaign.
e only guideline is that is must be out of sight range of any popu-
lated urban center.
A circle of eight large equally spaced standing stones surrounds
the grove. ese standing stones are actually the last eight soldiers the
current king sent to arrest Fergus. irty feet inside the outer perime-
ter is a second circle of six standing stones (the frst six soldiers). is
circle is a little harder to see, as the trees obscure the view between
the stones. ee are no trails or paths within the circumference of the
grove, and thickets and briars cover the ground, making it extremely
difcult to pass through the area.
At the geometric center of the grove lies L:o Io:| (see New Magic
Items, below). Due to the powerful magic radiated by this artifact,
the ground cover for a two-foot radius around it has been altered.
Anyone closely examining the ground cover may discover some four-
leaf (as opposed to three-leaf ) clover (Spot DC 30). A small handful
of these plants (20 or so) carried on a person grants a +1 bonus to all
saving throws for 12 hours. is bonus is not cumulative for multiple
handfuls, cannot be extended beyond the 12-hour window. In addi-
tion, clover transplanted from this grove and grown elsewhere will not
have any unusual properties (except for the extra leaf ).
Fergus keeps additional items hidden and buried throughout his
grove including 20,000pp, a roá oj ru|crs|:p (which he keeps in hopes
of presenting to the true king of the realm someday), and two each of
the following potions: curc moácro:c uourás. áor|v:s:or. cráurorcc. hy.
|os:c. |:á:rg. spco| u::| or:mo|s. su:mm:rg. orá uo:cr orco:|:rg.
Plot Hooks
Fergus believes the time is right for the true royalty of the Realm
to return, but he doesn’t know who they might be. Since the takeover
of the Realm, the stewards have been unable to fnd surviving mem-
bers of the old royal family. Fergus could hire the player characters
to retrieve some lost ancient genealogical texts, in hopes of tracing
the bloodline. ey could also help Fergus defend his grove against
another wave of attacks from the current ruler. It is also possible that
one or more members of the player character’s party may actually be
of the ancient royal bloodline, unbeknownst to the character!

Languages in Celtic Campaigns
Real-world based Celtic languages are split into three families:
Continental Gaulish (now considered dead), Brythonic, and Giodelic.
e Brythonic family includes the various Breton, Cornish (consid-
ered dead), and Welsh languages. e Giodelic family includes the
now dead medieval languages of Old and Middle Irish, as well as the
more modern Manx (also considered dead) and Scottish and Irish
variations of Gaelic.
For campaigns based on a Celtic culture, a GM may opt to ofer
any of these as possible languages. In more mixed-culture settings,
where characters are likely to encounter many drastically diferent
cultures over the course of a campaign, the GM may decide to ofer
“Celtic” itself as the base language for this culture rather than get
overly granular with the variations. As a third option, allowing some
variation in Celtic tongues, but without making all of these languages
available as spoken languages, the GM may consider allowing just the
families themselves (Gaulish, Brythonic, and Giodelic) as language
options, without breaking them down any further.
New Magic Items
Blarney Stone: is artifact is a baseball-sized chunk of rock that
broke of of L:o Io:| (see below) many years ago. While not diminish-
ing the power of its parent artifact, the B|orrcy S:orc possesses several
limited powers of its own. To activate these powers, the rock must be
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touched to a person’s skin. Since Fergus’ constantly wears his g|ovcs oj
su:mm:rg orá c|:mo:rg and cannot simply touch the rock to activate
its powers, he has taken to removing it from his pocket and kissing it
“for luck”. e Stone grants +1 on all saving throws and skill checks
for a number of rounds equal to the Charisma score of the person
who touches it with bare skin.
Lia Fail: L:o Io:|, also known by the names S:orc oj Dcs::ry,
S:orc oj Cororo::or, Soxum Io:o|c, and S:mor |urc, is an ancient
artifact that had been in the possession of the Realm’s original royal
family for centuries, even before they assumed the mantle of kingship.
It appears to be a worn and rather unremarkable sandstone block,
approximately 26” x 16” x 11” and weighing 336 pounds. According to
tradition, an ancestor of the royal family had a divine vision one night
while resting on the stone. e family has regarded the stone as a holy
item ever since. When they assumed the monarchy of the Realm, the
stone was fxed beneath the royal throne. It is said that the frst time
every new monarch sat upon the throne, the stone let out an ear-
piercing shriek. Nearly 200 years ago, when the war within the Realm
took a turn for the worst, the surviving steward family members took
the stone with them into seclusion in hopes of returning it upon the
restoration of the original monarchy. e stone is believed to have
been lost, as no one knows what happened to it during the war. Fer-
gus currently keeps the stone hidden in the center of his grove.
Persons standing or sitting over the stone gains a bonus to all
saving throws equal to their Charisma modifer and a +1 bonus to all
skill checks for as long as they are there and for a number of rounds
equal to their Charisma score after leaving. A descendant of the royal
line who sits upon it also permanently gains both the Leadership
feat and a +6 bonus to Charisma, as well as an additional +2 bonus
to Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks—these latter bonuses only
while seated or standing on the stone.
e frst time a new true king of the royal family assumes the
mantle of kingship while seated on the stone, it emits an ear-piercing
shriek for two rounds. e shriek causes jcor (Will save DC 25 each
round to resist – a character failing one check is jr:g|:crcá, a character
failing both is por:c|cá) in all within 60 feet who wish ill upon the
new king. ose friendly to the king who hear the shriek sufer no ad-
verse efects, but instead gain a +2 morale bonus to attack rolls, saves,
and checks for the duration and for a number of rounds afterwards
equal to the new king’s Charisma modifer.
Staf of Flesh to Stone: A pair of these staves were created
specifcally for Fergus by a grateful wizard whose life he saved while
their adventuring party was battling a horde of undead on the Isle
of Wight. Each staf originally had 50 charges and functions as a +2
weapon in melee combat. On a successful hit, a charge is exhausted
and forces the target to make a Fort save (DC 16) or be turned to
stone, as per the spell hcs| :o s:orc. e two circles of standing stones
at Fergus’ grove were created with these staves, as were many of the
standing stones found across the Realm. Typically found singly or in
pairs, they mark the sites of some of Fergus’ greatest adventures.
Cos:cr Lcvc|: 12
th
; |rcrcou:s::cs: Craft Staf, hcs| :o s:orc.
Ceannaideach MacCallum was born on the shores of Loch Sten-
ness, while still a young man, his father was killed by Romans invad-
ing from Alba, his mother, ravaged and now a widow, threw herself
into the Loch. Ceannaideach swore to destroy the bronze invaders.
Becoming a tall strong warrior, he challenged and became chieftain
of his clan at 22 and led his clan on a new path, as reavers. Moving
into North Umbria, he began raiding the stock and granaries of the
Albans loyal to Rome. As his raids became more daring and devastat-
ing, squads, then fles and troops were sent against him. As the forces
against him became greater, Ceannaideach began to gather followers
who hated the Romans as much as he did, his brother Guthorm be-
came an accomplished warrior and sorcerer, he recruited Eachann, the
witch of Loch Durnham and most recently he has received the advice
of Brother Benedict, a priest of the White God, who has returned to
his homeland after many year in the empire. But his staunchest ally is
his mate, Aemilius, who captured his heart with her highland beauty
and warrior skills. Ceannaideach MacCallum continues his raids into
Alba, bafing and slaughtering Legionnaires, stealing cattle, sheep,
and grain.
Ceannaideach MacCallum is tall for his race, over 6 feet tall and
over 200 lbs. Massively muscled from years of wielding a sword, he is
handsome and charismatic with wild blonde hair and a braided beard.
He has tattooed his clan’s wode permanently to strike fear into the
Romans.
Ceannaideacb MacCallum, male human Ftr12/Rog5: CR 17;
Size M (5 ft., 4 in. tall); HD 12d10 plus 5d6; hp 74; Init +2 (+2
Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Attack +15/+10/+5 melee, or
+17/+12/+7 ranged; SV Fort +9, Ref +12, Will +6; AL NG; Str
17, Dex 15, Con 11, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 16.
Languages Spoken: Cymric, Gaelic.
Skills and Feats: Alchemy -1, Balance +10, Climb +4, Craft +11,
Forgery +5, Handle animal +12, Hide +7, Listen +1, Move silently
+2, Perform +10, Ride +7, Search +5, Sense motive +8.5, Spot +1,
Swim +6, Use magic device +9; Blind-fght, Combat refexes, Defect
arrows, Improved critical (falchion), Improved unarmed strike, Lead-
ership, Lightning refexes, Point blank shot, Precise shot, Rapid shot,
Shield profciency, Track, Weapon fnesse (strike, unarmed), Weapon
focus (sword, great), Weapon focus (sword, short), Weapon special-
ization (sword, great), Weapon specialization (sword, short).
Possessions: 2 |co:|cr ormor. great kilt, 4 grco: suorá. +2
shield, masterwork short sword, dagger (3), fint & steel, trews, boots,
belt, baldric and scabbard, cloak, spears (5), drinking horn, fask of
ale, masterwork forest kit, 100,000 gp.
Chariot and team overall HP 50, AC 5, ram 3d6, face 5x5 ft,
height 5 ft, crew 1, weight 300 lb.
Aemilius ni Ceannaideach was a child when her mother and sis-
ters were taken south as Roman slaves, overlooked as a babe, she was
raised by her uncle Seamus MacKiern who, never having had a wife
or daughter, raised her as a boy. Her size and strength were not equal
to a warrior’s task but she was quick, and nimble hands made her an
excellent thief. Being a woman allowed her to beguile her way into
areas she normally wouldn’t be allowed to pilfer at will, and the war-
rior skills she does have assured her escape if necessary. On one such
Ceannaideach MacCallum
by Bruce Bougbner
Section 15: Ceannaideach MacCallum Copyright 2003, Bruce
Boughner
Aemilius ni Ceannaideach
Written by Bruce Boughner
Section 15: Aemilius ni Ceannaideach Copyright 2003, Bruce
Boughner; Infltrator, Copyright 2002 Mongoose Publish-
ing
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sortie, she attempted to steal a strong box belonging to Ceannaideach
MacCallum, who caught her. Struck by her bright red hair and soft
features, MacCallum began to win her heart. Sharing Ceannaideach’s
hatred of the Romans, Aemilius searches for clues to her mother’s
whereabouts.
Aemilius ni Ceannaideach is slight of build, a true Highland
beauty, red-haired, freckled and quick of smile and wit.
Aemilius ni Ceannaideacb, female human Rog10/*Infltrator3/
Ftr5: CR 15; Size M (5 ft., 0 in. tall); HD 10d6 plus 5d10; hp 68;
Init +7 (+3 Dex, +4 Improved initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+3
Dex); Attack +15/+10/+5 melee, or +15/+10/+5 ranged; SV Fort
+7, Ref +13, Will +8; AL CN; Str 16, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 13, Wis
15, Cha 12. *Rogue Prestige Class
Languages Spoken: Cymric, Gaelic.
Skills and Feats: Agility +1, Balance +11, Climb +15, Disable
Device +10.5, Disguise +12, Escape Artist +12, Handle animal +9,
Hide +8, Improved Trap Evasion, Intuit direction +15, Jump +17,
Knowledge (arcana) +3, Listen +7, Move silently +12.5, Pick pocket
+14, Profession +9.5, Ride +7, Spot +2, Swim +13, Tools of the
Trade, Tumble +8, Use rope +6, Ward Attunement, Wilderness lore
+4.5; Alertness, Combat refexes, Dodge, Improved critical (short-
bow), Improved initiative, Iron will, Lightning refexes +1, Point
blank shot, Precise shot, Skill focus (jump), Weapon focus (sword,
short).
Possessions: 3 s|or: suorá. 1 |co:|cr ormor. kilt, soft boots,
belt, baldric and scabbards, foresters kit, masterwork thieves kit, short
bow, quiver, 1 orrous (20), dagger (5), cloak, 59,000 gp.
Guthorm MacCallum is Ceannaideach MacCallum’s younger
sibling. Smaller and weaker, Guthorm was a more studious youth.
Learning Greek and Latin from the White God priests, Guthorm
disappeared for nearly ten years following his quest for arcane
knowledge. Traveling through the empire, he picked up the Assyrian
language and enough sorcerous knowledge to study on his own and so
returned to the highlands of Scotland. He found his brother a mighty
warlord and clan chieftain waging raids on the Romans and found it
the perfect opportunity to gather even more arcane knowledge and
artifacts.
Guthorm is the opposite of Ceannaideach, smaller, 5’ 11” and
180 lbs, though still a puissant fghter, his skill lies in befuddling
men’s minds. He is often seen plotting and planning with Eachann,
whom he is smitten.

Gutborm MacCallum, male human Sor14/Ftr6: CR 20; Size M
(5 ft., 11 in. tall); HD 14d4 plus 6d10; hp 70; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd
30 ft.; AC 13 (+3 Dex); Attack +14/+9/+4 melee, or +16/+11/+6
ranged; SV Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +10; AL CN; Str 13, Dex 17, Con
11, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 15.
Languages Spoken: Cymric, Gaelic, Latin, Greek, Assyrian.
Skills and Feats: Alchemy +17, Appraise +5.5, Climb +10,
Concentration +15, Gather information +4, Handle animal +11,
Hide +4.5, Intuit direction +1, Jump +2, Knowledge (arcana) +17.5,
Listen +4.5, Move silently +3, Perform +4, Profession +16, Ride
+11, Spellcraft +17, Spot +1; Alertness, Armor profciency (light),
Combat casting, Combat refexes, Craft magic arms and armor, Craft
staf, Expertise, Maximize spell, Quick draw, Skill focus (knowledge
(arcana)), Weapon fnesse (dagger), Weapon focus (dagger), Weapon
focus (dagger, punching), Weapon focus (short sword).
Possessions: Great kilt, belt, boots baldric, scroll case, spell
component pouches, short sword, daggers (4), chests (4), alchemist’s
lab, 20,000 gp.
Wagon; overall HP 60 (hardness 5), AC 3, Ram 4d6, Face 15x10
Ft, Height 10 Ft, Crew 1, weight 600 lb,
Sorcerer Spells Known (6I7I7I6I6I6): 0—Dancing Lights,
Detect Magic, Flare, Ghost Sound, Light, Mage Hand, Prestidigita-
tion, Ray of Frost, Read Magic. 1st—Charm Person, Jump, Mount,
Obscuring Mist, Ventriloquism. 2
nd
—Blur, Glitterdust, Hypnotic
Pattern, Invisibility, Knock. 3
rd
—Dispel Magic, Hold Person, Magic
Circle against Law, Sleet Storm. 4th—Bestow Curse, Confusion,
Improved Invisibility, Stoneskin. 5
th
— Cone of Cold, Mind Fog,
Seeming.
Born in the Highlands, Eachann was thought diferent by her
clan, a changeling who foresaw things that came to pass, unexplain-
able thing happened around her. ese incidents grew more frequent
as she approached puberty and she was branded a witch and driven
from her home. She wandered south through the High Moors of
England and into Wales. ere she found Cydrella, a witch who
haunted a swamp. Cydrella recognized Eachann’s potential and
trained her in the ways of the Wandering Path. Eachann joyously
dove into the craft and soon joined Cydrella in working petty evils
on nearby Welsh villages. After many years, the villagers ran down
Cydrella and burned her at the stake. Eachann fed back to Scotland,
where she began to repeat the terror she inficted upon the Welsh.
Ceannaideach MacCallum found her as she was about to spoil his
winter stores of grain. Eachann convinced him to spare her life in
exchange for her service.
Eachann’s appearance belies her true age, not yet 35, she appears
to be well into her 70s, stooped, wrinkled, joints stif with age, with
stringy wan hair, wearing ragged robes. Yet in truth she is strikingly
beautiful, a voluptuous brunette with wild sky-blue eyes and has
many men looking for her favor and is a much sought-after partner at
Beltaine fres. She hides her true nature to be efective as an advisor
to Ceannaideach MacCallum and to give an appearance of age, power,
and wisdom
Eacbann, tbe Witcb of Locb Durnbam, female human Sor
8/*Witch Hag 9: CR 17; Size M (5 ft., 3 in. tall); HD 8d4 plus 3d6
plus 6d8; hp 44; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex);
Attack +6/+1 melee, or +9/+4 ranged; SV Fort +8, Ref +6, Will
+11; AL LE; Str 6, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 15, Wis 13, Cha 17. *Witch
Prestige Class
Languages Spoken: Cymric, Latin, Welsh.
Skills and Feats: Alchemy +19, Concentration +18, Craft +21,
Hide +1, Knowledge (arcana) +21, Listen +1, Profession +10,
Scry +20, Search +6, Speak Language +4, Spellcraft +18, Spot +1,
Wilderness Lore +4; Brew Potion, Empower Spell, Maximize Spell,
Power Attack, Spell Trap, Sympathetic Spell, Widen Spell.
Guthorm MacCallum
Written by Bruce Bougbner
Section 15: Guthorm MacCallum Copyright 2003, Bruce
Boughner
Eachann, the Witch of Loch Durnham
Written by Bruce Bougbner
Section 15: Eachann, Witch of Loch Durnham Copyright 2003,
Bruce Boughner; e Witch’s Handbook, Copyright 2002,
Green Ronin Publishing; Author Steve Kenson
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Possessions: u::c|’s s:oµ. 1 s:|vcr áoggcr. spell component pouch,
hy:rg o:r:mcr:. |orr oj :|c |ur:cr. moor c:rc|c:. po::or oj mcmory. rurc
uorá. s|ccp:rg ároj:. 1,000 gp.
Sorcerer Spells Known (8I5I3¯I2¯I1¯): 0—Dancing Lights,
Daze, Detect Magic, Ghost Sound, Light, Mending, Prestidigitation,
Resistance. 1
st
—Cause Fear, Change Self, Crafters Curse, Identify,
Sleep. 2
nd
— Enhance Familiar, Enthrall, Locate Object, Scare, Spell
Missile, Whispering Wind. 3
rd
—Bestow Curse, Dispel Magic, Lesser
Geas, Suggestion, Tongues. 4
th
—Divination, Scrying, Steal Youth.
¯= Borus spc||s 3 2

. 2 3

. 2 4
:|

Raven Familiar: HD11; HP 23; Init +2, Spd 10 Ft, Fly 40 Ft,
(average); AC 20 (touch 14, fat-footed 18); Atk +8 melee (claw 1d2-
5); SQ Alertness, can deliver touch attacks, can speak with master,
empathic link with master, improved evasion, shares spells with
master; AL LE; SV Fort +4,Ref +6, Will +12; Str 1, Dex 15, Con
10, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 6; Listen +6;Speak Language (common), Spot
+6. Weapons Finesse (claws)
Benedict was a Welshman taken as a child by the Romans and
sold as a slave, he grew up as a slave in Gaul when missionaries took
him and taught the ways of the Israeli prophets. After many years,
taking the name Benedict, the brother took up the mission of bring-
ing the word of the White God to Scotland. Stumbling onto the
camp of Ceannaideach MacCallum, Brother Benedict recognized the
witchery and sorcery of the camp and sought to bring the light of rea-
son and peace to the MacCallum clan. Benedict tries often to counsel
Ceannaideach MacCallum in ways of peace, but is valued more for his
healing abilities.
Brother Benedict is a large man of middle years balding and
bearded, with his hair turning grey from its normal mouse brown.
Brotber Benedict, male human Clr 9/*Revered Elder 2: CR 9;
Size M (5 ft., 9 in. tall); HD 9d8+9; hp 42; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd
30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Attack +10/+5 melee, or +7/+2 ranged; SV
Fort +9, Ref +4, Will +8; AL LN; Str 18, Dex 12, Con 13, Int 11,
Wis 15, Cha 13.
Languages Spoken: Cymric, Gaelic, Latin, Gaul.
Skills and Feats: Diplomacy +6, Heal +7, Hide +1, Knowledge
(Local) +4, Knowledge (religion) +5, Listen +2, Move silently +1,
Profession +9, Scry +4, Sense Motive+10, Spot +2; Avert Evil Eye,
Craft wondrous item, Detect Truth, Great fortitude, Leadership, Lo-
cal History, Maximize spell, Resist Charm (+2), Scry Eye, Spellcraft.
Possessions: 12,000 gp.
Cleric Domains: Healing, Knowledge, Law.
Cleric Spells Per Day (6+2I5+2I5+1I3+1I2+1I1+1):
0—Cure Minor Wounds x2, Detect Poison x2, Light, Resistance,
Virtue x2. 1
st
—Bless, Bless Water, Cure Light Wounds x3, Divine
Favor. 2
nd
—Aid, Cure Moderate Wounds x2, Delay Poison, Make
Whole, Zone of Truth. 3
rd
—Cure Serious Wounds, Dispel Magic,
Prayer, Remove curse. 4
th
—Cure Critical Wounds, Discern Lies,
Divine Power. 5
th
—Healing Circle, True Seeing.
Brother Benedict
Written by Bruce Bougbner
Section 15: Brother Benedict Copyright 2003, Bruce Boughner;
Revered Elder, Copyright 2001 Rebecca Glenn
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I
n 2001, Joe Kushner conducted an interview with Troll Lord
Games for OgrcCovc.com. Recently he did a follow up of that inter-
view with Steven Chenault, President of Troll Lord Games.
1. Wbo is Troll Lord Games:

TLG started in 1999 at a pizza joint over some Guiness, and well,
pizza I guess. When Mac Golden, Davis Chenault and myself (Steve
Chenault) decided to do some modules for Gencon. is was before
d20 mind you, just barely. So our frst modules were generic. It grew
from there. Mac has since left and Todd Gray (alternately spelled
Grey or Gray, I’ve known him for 18 years and still don’t know how
to spell his name) has come on board to replace him. Of course, d20
gave us a nice breath of real potential and we decided to do another
run of books. “A Lion in the Ropes” and “Dzeebagd” were our frst
d20 books. We’ve done little but grow since then. Troll Lord Games
has become something of a family as well, the artists and writers
who work with us have all joined in making this company what it is
becoming. We try to be pretty approachable, as any who’ve been to
our cluttered Gen Con booths must surely know.
I don’t know how to answer that question. Did I answer it?
Heck, come over to the message boards and join in and you’ll soon
know who TLG is?
2. It seems tbat tbere is some restructuring going on over tbere.
For example, Comrades for d20Modern®. Any word on wbat bap-
pened to tbis puppy:

Puppy? You must be from around here? LOL When
á20Moácrr came out we really weren’t ready to go on it like we had
hoped. Todd was new to the company and still learning the ropes and
Davis was putting the wraps on his MA in Anthropology. Besides
that, á20Moácrr had too much of a fantasy/modern feel to it. We
were looking for a moody, hard beaten mechanic to drive the game.
e idea behind Comroács is not gaining levels and treasure or even
power. It’s to be a soldier of some caliber on a feld of war, the true
object being to stay alive. It combines the two main drives behind
our Wednesday night D&D games, role playing and intense combat.
We’ll do live action theater for a couple of hours, which is shattered
by the thunderous clap of iron and bone and felds washed in blood.
Comroács is meant to be that in a modern setting. We want the
gamer to be exhausted from the experience but elated when he drags
himself to the rear.
(In a side note, one of our players, Christian Harris, takes great
joy in maniacal descriptive text and has cataloged it. Some of our
expressions are quite humorous. Most recently I’ve been overusing
‘washed in blood.’)

3. Wbat book are you proudest of:

Hard to say. e Compor:or books are turning out to be a beautiful
idea with a nice combo of game material at a good price. Personally,
the Coácx oj Lrác is my favorite, as it is the type of book I would
use since it is packed with culture and history. But probably best all
around books are the most recent B|ooá Royo| or Gory Gygox’s Vor|á
15 QUESTIONS FOR TROLL LORD GAMES
By Joe G Kushner
Scc::or 1S: 15 Questions for Troll Lord Games Copyr:g|: 2003. ]oc G. Kus|rcr
Bu:|ácr. e rumor table in the Hcor: oj G|oss is the best I’ve ever
read too. LOL

4. Wbat are you waiting for to bit tbe SRD and wby:

lc Moruo| oj :|c ||orcs. at material is great game expansion ma-
terial and we would love to bring that material into our own setting
and books. No news on its opening up however, at least not so far as
I’ve heard.

5. Are tbere any autbors you’d love to work witb:

Davis Chenault. We’d like him to fnish a book before a 10-month
deadline has passed. LOL

6. How did tbe deal witb Kenzer roll around: Wbat’s it like work-
ing witb an ‘official’ company:

“Ofcial”? Well with 20 odd products in print a host in the ringer
and three employees I rather look at TLG as ofcial. ;) But I know
what you mean. I don’t know really. We’ve run adds in KoDT for
well over three years and they have been very nice and very easy to
work with. When I frst met them I thought, ‘now here’s some folks
with our same philosophy about gaming.” At GAMA two years ago
I approached Brian Jelke and we struck up an immediate friendship.
is project is a natural extension of that. Mac Golden, then in
charge of our production line, was pushing hard for a TLG Studious
and thought Kenzer would be the perfect company to start with. He
left shortly thereafter and I kind of dropped the whole idea. Brian,
being very busy, didn’t give it another thought. But after Dragon Con
this year Davis and Todd talked briefy to Brian and the whole idea
came up again. We pursued it and before you know it, we’re happily
working on Kalamar.

7. Wbat effect will Gen Con moving tbis year bave on tbe Troll
Lords:

Make the drive easier. LOL About 3-4 hours closer actually. We’ll
miss the Milwaukee angle, and I’ll not be able to go to that really nice
books store and scour their shelves for old musty history books. Also,
no dinners with Gary Gygax, which is something we’ve come to look
forward to. Davis and Gary think a lot alike politically, and Luke,
Todd and myself are arrayed together. Makes for lively conversations.
And Ernie, well, Ernie is the man.

8. Wbat’s tbe bardest part of putting togetber a product:

Good sweet lord! I don’t know; we divide the work up. I think we’ve
sufered from editing the most. When we lost Mac Golden we lost
an exceptionally good editor. And an editor who could anticipate my
writing, so personally was quite a loss. But probably the last minute
stuf. Once we’ve spent weeks “making love to a book” (our euphe-
mism for reading it over, playtesting and what not) we gather art and
maps, do legal and credits and then throw it into the formatting stage.
is can go fast or slow depending on the project. But once its done
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we’ve worked it over for about 3 months and all these last minute
repairs, calls to the printer, price confrmations and so forth are labo-
rious and we’re tired of the project. Todd read the Vor|á Bu:|ácr over,
line by line, fve times–and there isn’t much readable material there.
He really hasn’t looked at the book since. So probably the end game
with a project.
Of course, once it goes to the printer we gather the Troll Horde
and pile out to Pizza D’s for a Guiness and a celebratory dinner.

9. Wbat book would you like to do but baven’t bad time or re-
sources for:

Coácx Gcrmor:o. Rob Kuntz had a great idea here, but for personal
reasons wasn’t able to complete the project. We’ll retool it and re-
launch the project soon. We have a beautiful cover painted by Doug
Kovacs and an actual honest to goodness German to head up the
project so we are sure to get the Teutonic feel.

10. Some say tbat tbere’s a d20 glut and tbat tbis will cause tbe
downfall of tbe RPG market any day now. Wbile tbere’s more
product tban I can remember seeing before, I don’t tbink tbe
downfall is rigbt around tbe corner. Professional take:

No downfall for the market. at’s a silly idea. ere have been a
number of adjustments and the market has fuctuated due, in no
small part, to a wave of small press companies, some of which have
really good product. e real problem is that all of this product puts
extraordinary stress on the retailer. It’s difcult to pick and choose
what to by, and more difcult to know what’s going to be hot. So
retailers are put in a bad spot by the glut. ey have been and are still
correcting this by cutting orders. You’re seeing a number of smaller
companies sufer from this and looking for clearing houses or pub-
lishing houses to get their product out. at would be my advice for
aspiring publishers, contact one of the other companies about using
their services. We’ve done this from the beginning with Fiend Games
and I think Mystic Eye has started it as well.

11. How does a small d20 company tbrive in today’s competitive
market:

Customer Service. Quality. And a constant drive to improve prod-
ucts. TLG benefts from a loyal customer base that becomes increas-
ingly more loyal as each product improves. Keeping your overhead
down is very important as well. We have a small staf and a wonderful
group of writers and artists who believe in the company. All one has
to do is hop over to our message boards and you’ll quickly see the
tone we take. Friendly. Friendly.

12. Wbat role do you see tbe web taking for Troll Lords in tbe
future: More Seeker: More expansionsIpreview articles:

As we manage to get our own page improved and ‘modernized’ (“is
thing still has frames!” someone recently complained to me) we’ll
clean up the e-commerce software and make it more usable. We’ve
seen a marked growth in web trafc and purchases recently, a fact I
attribute to the Vor|á Bu:|ácr Gu:ác coming out, the paypal e-com-
merce software being loaded and the Scc|cr. As for our zine, the
Scc|cr has had an on again of again life span. at is until, recently.
Davis took it over and turned it something really worth reading. It
has d20 material, RPG material, humor, the whole nine yards. e
Scc|cr has, since then, gained quite a few subscribers. We try to put it
out bi-weekly. As for expanding it, I’m really having to restrain Davis
from pushing it up to 18-20 pages. I’m afraid the pdf might crash
peoples mail boxes or lock them at least.

13. Tell me about tbe Dice Game. How did tbat come about:
Wbat’s it involve:

e dice game, eh? Traditionally TLG gives away free promo dice
baring our logo or name on them. Last year, as we set of to do the
same thing we just got ambitious by making a promo game. Well it
soon developed into something rather large and we decided to give it
a go, package it and see if it how well it went over. e most interest-
ing thing about lro|| Kruc||cs is the misprinting. Davis and my wife,
who has a number of advanced mathematics degrees, developed of
the game. One of the dice is based on prime numbers. e dice were
late on arrival and we only got the morning of Gen Con’s opening last
year. With no time to look them over we packaged up several score
and placed them on the table. Of to other things, the solid little
knuckles were left unobserved. We gave some away with product
sales, sold some and were happy to do so. On Friday a couple came
up to us for some rules clarifcation. ere was a problem. One of
the dice had been misprinted, and the primes were of. Needless to
say we yanked the whole thing, rather annoyed at the whole thing. As
I was to blame for giving the dice guy the wrong numbers there was
nothing for it but to shelve the little grunts and move on. When my
wife heard about it she laughed quite a bit and remarked about bone
head trolls and their troll primes. Bang! ere was our solution. We
rewrote the rules (they are really simple, simple rules) and remarked
them as lro|| |r:mcs! lro|| Kruc||cs did fair for us, no huge of the
shelf moneymaker, but it was fun to do. We’ll design another one for
this Gen Con I have no doubt.

14. Wbat’s it like working witb Gygax: I know tbere are a lot of
fans and naysayers wbo eitber bate or love tbe dual statted books.

Gary Gygax is, without a doubt, the nicest man in the industry today,
matched only by John Nephew. He’s easy to work with, maintains a
constant, open line of communication and very amiable concerning
changes and edits and what not. I don’t know what else to say, but
we value Gary’s opinions and his work and that I’m extremely put out
that Gen Con has moved to Indianapolis as we won’t be eating with
the Gygax crew at the Hungarian Restaurant.
As for the dual stated books, there has only been one module
so stated, lc Hcrm::. It’s done very well, particularly as concerns
adventure books.

15. Any last words of wisdom: Like wby tbe Troll Lords and not
tbe Ogre Lords: :-)

LOL e above for aspiring publishers. Contact us or one of the
other companies for your publishing needs and desires. We chose the
Troll Lords because the main antagonist of Mac Golden’s character
Aristobulus (who we still play) in our ‘Big Game’ is the Arch Magi,
Nulak-Kiz-Din, called Mongroul the Troll Lord. Of course this has
led to strange writing mishaps as he exists in the Coácx oj Lrác as well
and we fnd Troll Lords publishing books with the Troll Lord in it
and he’s not a troll at all. But that just goes to show, that Trolls aren’t
the brightest jewels in the chest . . . though perhaps far more clever
than one might think.
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EXPRESS LANE: TOO MANY ITEMS
Written by Rob [BarTndr] Wojczyk
Edited by Andrew Garbade
Scc::or 1S: Express Lane Copyr:g|: 2003. Roo Vo¡czy|
E
ver have one of those days where you, the DM, allowed one or
two items that were in their own right appropriate to fall into
possession of the party, only to have these items’ usability abused
by your players? An example of this that Rob Adams and I recently
discussed was a barbarian who became the owner of a r:rg oj cr|orgc
(once per day), an item that granted ou||’s s:rcrg:|, and a silver axe
+2.
e issue that evolved was the barbarian would enlarge, then
rage, then swing away. By increasing his size, the player argued it
increased the die used to determine damage. Now when he en-
larged, he got stronger, then there was the ou||’s s:rcrg:|, and on top
of that the rage. So a player of a mid-level character was suddenly
dealing out damage far above the party’s challenge rating and not
many foes presented much of a problem for them. One solution I
came up with, which Rob had already tried, was to throw something
a little more powerful at the party. When it nearly killed the rest of
the party, the others were not happy with the result. Moreover, no
one at all likes ‘DM Cheese’ when a certain item is pilfered or taken
away.
Rob and I thought about it a little, and in a moment of inspira-
tion, I came up with an idea. Now the basis of the idea was the
method in many computer games (D:oo|o. Ncvcru:r:cr N:g|:s)
where you must attain a certain level to use a particular device. But
by its basic structure, D&D 3e does not really consider those issues.
So what’s a DM to do if an overly powerful item falls to the party?
Well, one thing that 3
rd
edition does provide is a list of the
approximate wealth value of the player characters at certain levels.
erefore, what you can do is look at what the wealth value of a
player would be at some level, and assume that 75% of that value
is the total of all magical items that he can have outftted for use
and in his possession at one time. He can carry some other items if
it doesn’t afect his encumbrance, but he is not allowed to use any
items that push his value over the threshold. Items like potions of
healing can be counted or not at the DM’s discretion, but rings,
amulets, weapons, and the like should all count toward this total.
Now if you really want to have fun, make the total amount
for the party rather than individuals. For example, a +1 longsword
is going to be valued around 2,315 gp (the enchantment is 2,000,
masterwork is 300, and the sword itself is 15gp [DMG]). We will
use a party of four 2
nd
-level characters (individual wealth of 900gp
[DMG], 75% of which is 675gp, so a party of four would have a
total of 2,700gp). e sword’s cost puts it out of their individual
ability to use – though if you allow party ‘pooling’ of wealth, a char-
acter would be allowed to use it, but the total value of other magic
items could not exceed 700gp.
When the four characters reach 3
rd
level, the wealth table jumps
to 2,700gp each (75% of which is 2,025), and would equate to a
party total of 8,100gp. Even at this point, no single character can
aford to wield the item, but if the party collectively allows their
‘value’ to be applied to a single character, then he can wield it. It also
allows others to use something of a ‘marginal’ power level. So what
happens a little while later, before they level again, should they fnd
a ring of protection or another weapon? Suddenly, the total value
of the items is just too high compared to their allocations. Now
consider if the fghter decides he does not want to give up the sword
to allow the mage to use the ring instead; the mage can decide to
retract his share of the value allocation and neither of them would
get to use their items -- until such time when they advance enough
to make the required wealth rating.
is approach will give you many interesting opportunities for
role-playing. It also presents a huge chance for ill will to come up di-
rected between the players and ultimately at the DM (after all, you
set the rule in motion). When people begin bickering and become
a little testy, then you step in and remind people it is -- after all-- a
game. Games are meant to be fun. We do not want to overburden
the players with extra ‘home’ rules, but at the same time, we need to
keep some control over what happens in our game worlds.
What this rule does is try to keep balance in the game. While
the player with the item(s) would feel like he is being restricted, the
other side of the coin is how useless the other players feel when he
is hacking away all the enemies. Moreover, should an enemy that
would more suitably challenge the player with the advantage appear,
it would likely destroy the other party members.
I was in a game (a PBeM) where at frst level, we had a charac-
ter who’s race was a Centaur. I don’t believe the concept of efective
character levels is present in the PHB, DMG or MM. I can tell
you that when a frst level character goes toe to toe with a troll, and
wins, sometbing is out of balance. All the fghts were either too easy
for him, or too hard on the rest of us. Magic items are the same way.
If the players have that special item, then others (players and NPCs
alike) should notice its use. ey should receive ofers to purchase
the item, threats about its use, and the like. e local lord could see
the item as a threat to his rule, and desire it for himself.
In addition, never discount the efect of a ‘once per day’ item.
Just because the players have decided that after one big fght they
want to retreat and regroup – whatever they were fghting could
always follow them back to where they think they are safe. After all,
why should the players get to have all the fun, and be able to have a
safe haven? When the adult werewolf (whose young were just slain
by the PCs using their powerful devices) later ambushes the party,
the PCs are bound to leave something behind when they run for the
hills.
Not to beat poor Rob Adams like a dead horse, but he had
wanted to implement several ‘house rules’ into a campaign he is cur-
rently running - in which I am a player - with varying results. Armor
damage reduction was all right (when we remembered to count it)
but then came discussion of tracking the total damage taken by the
armor and factoring in its hardness – a bookkeeping nightmare. So
instead, we fell back on a system Rob used in a previous game where
we just paid 25% of the armor’s cost as a monthly repair fee.
Some other ‘limiting’ home rules, such as armor and weapon
maintenance and player taxes can quickly become a nightmare of
micromanagement – so be very cautious about what you use. Be
open and honest with your players, and they’ll probably be the same
with you.
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BENHIAR
Written by John Wommer
Edited by Steven Creech
Scc::or 1S: 15 BenHiar Copyr:g|: 2003. ]o|r Gr:gsoy
Race Name: BenHiar
Human name or nickname: Light bringers, Angels, Clusters,
“Ben” or “Bennies”
General pbysical description: e BenHiar are a tiny mam-
malian race, standing but 18 inches tall when fully extended, though
their natural posture is more semi-upright. ey are built more for
climbing and clinging then walking, though they can do so when
necessary. e most predominant trait of the BenHiar is their eyes,
which are enormous. ey have small noses and mouths.
Second in attention (to most humanoid observers) is their long
thin arms and fattened fnger tips. eir feet are elongated, and their
toes have similar fattened tips. It is these fat tips that allow the Ben-
Hiar to cling to almost any surface. Overall, the individual BenHiar is
unimpressive physically.
General personality description: To call a BenHiar sociable
is as large an understatement as to call a Kubala Khan “big”. e
BenHiar are an extremely communal race, each having distinctive
personality traits and habits, but each also ftting into the communal
group in their needed area. To speak of an individual BenHiar is
difcult if not impossible, for those that are deprived of the company
of others generally will die within 48 to 72 hours of isolation. Within
their group, each individual BenHiar is
still a distinct person, capable of a full
range of good and bad qualities. eir
racial propensity towards the group,
however, causes the individual to often
be overlooked in favor of the communal
“person”. Note that, while the BenHiar
are each fully developed persons, all
share a pacifstic and gregarious basic
nature.
ere are some who are more ag-
gressive, or have a devote self interest
– but the “self ” is their communal group
(called a “cluster”). Some clusters are
so well integrated that non-BenHiar
that deal with them insist that they
are a group mind, for they act so in
concert with one another it’s as if the
group were a single entity which they
are all a part of. No evidence of such a
(psionic or magical) link has ever been
discovered, if it exists at all. For more on
the BenHiar cluster and group mental-
ity, see Racial Psychology and Culture
below.
BenHiar Racial Traits:
Str: -4; Dex: +1; Con +1; Cha: +2
BenHiar are physically weak, but quite
robust for their size. ey are also agile
and charming. ough
individual members of
a cluster may vary in
their ability scores (and
should have these sepa-
rate scores recorded)
the cluster PC uses
but one set of abilities
– generally the average
of the members’ scores.
Size: Tiny. BenHiar enjoy a
+4 modifer to hit, and
to AC.
Gliding Flight (Ex) – e
BenHiar enjoy the
ability to glide for up
to 60 feet, plus 10 feet
for every 20 feet their
launch is elevated.
ey are considered a
Clumsy fyer (DMG
69), with a maximum
speed of 40 feet.
Darkvision to 60 feet.
Low Light vision – ey
have no limited range
with this sight.
Low Light vision – ey have
no limited range with this
sight.
Cling to any surface (Ex) – e
BenHiar use special
properties of their hand & foot pads to cling to any surface.
Especially slick surfaces, or magically slippery surfaces can
break their hold.
Photonometry (Su) – e BenHiar have a natural ability to
produce and “hold” light, gaining greater skill as they prog-
Level Ability gained
“0” Create small, “personal light effects” necessary for “twitter-
ing”.
3 Create Light as the Photokinesis power (see below), using
character level minus 2 as the level of use.
5 The BenHiar can actually touch light, and treat it as a semi-
solid. They may push, shape, and “spin” light & shadow into
a variety of shapes. The BenHiar must keep contact with
their creations for them to exist, else they dissipate or return
to their normal state (a sunbeam moved aside and held
there by a BenHiar goes back to shining straight when re-
leased). Use mechanics for the Photokinesis power Shape
Light/Shadow (below) for detailed use. Use character level
to determine variables for this ability.
12 The BenHiar may shape light or shadow and grant their
creation temporary existence. This functions as the Photoki-
nesis power Light Sculpture (see below), excepting that area
affected is up to 1 cubic inch per level can be so created.
Use character level to determine variables for this ability.
Playing the Cluster
The BenHiar offer a unique race
to role play, as their collective na-
ture tends to encourage players
to play more then one character
of the same cluster. The cluster
itself is the PC, and is treated as
an individual being in terms of
normal play.
Firstly, a PC cluster must be
comprised of at least two, or
optimally three or four BenHiar
(a 2 member PC would have to
create a “cluster” with another
player character). Those clusters
that want to leave the BenHiar
homelands and “adventure” are
very rare, and so the members of
such a cluster tend to be a long
standing group, rarely mixing
individuals with others. Members
of such a cluster tend to be highly
skilled individually (for BenHiar),
though skills feats, and abilities
are still divided between cluster-
mates.
Most classes are open to
BenHiar PCs, though for obvious
reasons combat-heavy charac-
ters are rare. Most commonly, the
BenHiar adopt the Psion class,
spell casters, and the occasional
Rogue.
Death and the BenHiar PC
What happens if your collective is a
3rd level Rogue and two members die?
What skills, abilities, & feats does the
survivor have?
The levels of such PCs is actually
spread evenly between the cluster-
mates. If they should lose members,
individual members hold on to their
“share” of xps. Skills and feats are
declared at the time they are gained,
being given to a specifc member of the
cluster.
All skills and feats must be evenly
spread between cluster mates – if one
member has three skills the others must
advance to three as well before that
member can go on to four. If a replace-
ment member with far fewer skills/feats
is integrated when a member is lost,
then the others cannot gain new skills /
feats until he has caught up.
If a member is lost, then so too are
those xps, skills, and feats assigned to
him. Raising dead members can restore
the balance (i.e. lost levels & abilities)
of the cluster. BenHiar replacement
members (outside of the BenHiar home-
lands) tend to be hard to come by.
Note that individual members of a
cluster die at –3, -6, and –10 hps. Heal-
ing applied while they are in this state
only saves the remaining members, not
those who are beyond their threshold.
Roll randomly to decide who dies.
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ress upward in character levels. ese are all Supernatural
abilities, and are listed in the table below:
Communal mentality – e BenHiar are so acclimated to the
communal life that to be alone actually causing their health
to fail. To stay healthy, a BenHiar must be part of a group
with at least 2 individuals other then itself. ough these
others are normally BenHiar as well, this is not always
necessary (see Racial Psychology, below).
No default skills – Due to the specialized skill set each BenHiar
has, none has the ability to “make do”. us, the BenHiar
cannot use skills in which they have no skill ranks, even
those that normally allow a default roll.
Slow Movement – e BenHiar can only move at a speed of 10
when forced to travel on land.
Preferred Class: Psion
Racial Psychology
Roc:o| “ou:r|s.” |:|cs orá á:s|:|cs. or psyc|o|og:co| pccu|:or:::cs: e
BenHiar are unique in their racial psychology, in that they view each
member of their race as a unique individual, but each individual as
a component of a greater whole. e most common unit is called a
cluster, and is comprised of 3 to 12 individuals. Each individual has
abilities and skills in one (usually narrow) feld of expertise. Together,
the members of a cluster function as a collective individual, each con-
tributing as necessary for the survival and prosperity of the cluster.
Despite the appearance that this gives the BenHiar of down
playing the individual, the opposite is actually the truth - each indi-
vidual is celebrated for their own uniqueness, for their own strengths,
and is encouraged to hone their natural gifts and skills to their keen-
est ability. e BenHiar see the formation of the cluster as the great-
est way to provide individual freedom – by having the cluster to look
after their other needs, the individual is free to pursue that which
is their greatest gift. No need to clutter their lives with unnecessary
problems. Due to the fact that the individual also provides back to
the cluster necessary skills or abilities, others are free to pursue their
individual strengths without concern for those areas the others in the
cluster “cover”. Beyond personal hygiene
1
, little is done in BenHiar
clusters by someone who is less then an expert.
Generations of such communal mentality has evolved some
interesting social and behavioral customs, as well as afecting their
physiology. Social and physiological areas will be addressed below.
Behaviorally, the BenHiar have evolved a psychological need for com-
panionship that is satisfed within
their own groupings, but makes
travel into other cultures difcult
at best. “Adventuring” clusters have
developed since frst contact with
humans occurred generations ago,
which cover a diverse number of
skills needed to survive outside of
BenHiar lands.
Even the invention of such
conventions cannot counter
the unexpected loss of cluster
members once beyond BenHiar
lands, and it has been these rare
occasions that allowed outsid-
ers to see lone BenHiar behavior
outside a cluster, usually with fatal
results. As mentioned above in
general personality, those BenHiar
that are deprived of the company
of others generally will die within
48 to 72 hours of isolation. is
is believed to be a psychological
phenomenon, as the BenHiar’s
phobia of being alone grows until
they die. Simply put, outside of
a group they cannot thrive. A
“group” must consist of 2 to 5
individuals beyond the individual,
but it has been discovered that
non-BenHiar may play surrogate
to a stranded individual or two,
taking the place of the cluster in
the BenHiar’s wounded psyche.
While most such arrangements
are temporary, rumors abound
citing newly formed “alien” clusters
created with humans and the oc-
casional Plainsmen.
It should also be noted that
the BenHiar have a natural afn-
ity with light, being both masters
of its properties, and in fascina-
tion of it. Many of their physical
gifts are geared towards their
interaction with light in super-
natural ways, and many of their
psychological and societal conven-
tions make reference to, derive
names from, or are formulated
around, light. Many believe that
this may explain the BenHiar’s
ability to make sense of their “dual
nature “ as individual and cluster member – just as light can be both
particle and wave simultaneously, so the BenHiar see themselves as
self and group simultaneously.
Only the Lonely
In the text, it states “those BenHiar
that are deprived of the company of
others generally will die within 48 to
72 hours of isolation”. To refect this,
those BenHiar who fnd themselves
all alone (without cluster-mates or sur-
rogates) lose 1 point of Con, Str, and
Dex per hour. While this is considered
temporary ability loss, if any of these
reach 0 then the BenHiar dies. If re-
united with cluster-mates, surrogates,
or other BenHiar before this time, then
abilities are recovered normally.
"Ben"
Many non-BenHiar have taken the
race’s use of the honorifc “Ben” and
made it into a racist insult, calling
every member of the race “Ben”. This
is especially true of humans, who use
Ben as a shortened form of the com-
mon name Benjamin.
At frst, the BenHiar took no notice,
believing that the strangers were
showing politeness. As time went on,
it became clear that not all who used
“Ben” were showing respect. The
BenHiar have gotten better at reading
the infection in non-BenHiar races,
and so now can distinguish a true
honor from insult.
They also accept that many do
not know them well, and so patiently
explain when some naïve individual
fnds it fascinating that an entire clus-
ter “has the same name”.
It should be noted that the honorifc
Ben is reserved for BenHiar leader-
ship (called luminaries) and means
“enlightened” in the BenHiar tongue.
The racial name BenHiar is roughly
translated into “the enlightened whole
(or “ones within many”)”.
Leadership in BenHiar society
Based on age, and skill (of course).
Many clusters that form retain a “core
“ of two to three individuals that are
always a part of the cluster – at some
point, these become recognized
as “luminaries” – the BenHiar terms
for its leadership. Proper form is to
address such individuals with the hon-
orifc “Ben” and their given name, or
“Luminary” as an informal title (much
as a King is called “Sire”).
Figure 1 Typical BenHiar Adult
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Roc:o| or soc:c:y goo|s: e BenHiar were “discovered” by human-
ity a scant thousand or so years ago. While not primitive by any
means, they are still discovering the greater world beyond their own
lands, and their place in it. ey are fascinated by other races, and
how they treat (or mistreat) the individual. Gender confuses them as
well, as does alien sexuality. ey desire to learn and understand all of
it, and some believe that the use of “alien” clusters is a way for them to
create an intimacy that will allow them to learn.
lcy sccm mos: |umor u|cr... they are faced with an obstacle.
e BenHiar, like humans, have an insatiable curiosity and drive to
achieve desired ends. To many, the whole idea of the “cluster” system is
the BenHiar’s way of maximizing the ability to “win” – by combining
the necessary elements to best achieve a specifc task, even at the cost
of being a race of “well rounded” individuals, the BenHiar demon-
strate an unrelenting desire to achieve their goals.
lcy sccm mos: o|:cr u|cr... dealing with matters sexual. Prior
to the frst contact with other races, the BenHiar had no clue that
“higher” life forms were engendered. ey still have difculty with the
use of engendered titles, pronouns, and tend towards being just a little
too curious about other race’s reproductive rituals and “mechanics” for
most folk’s tastes.
Footnotes
Even personal hygiene is, to an extent, a communal activity as the
BenHiar have retained grooming rituals and behaviors from their
ancestry.
Racial Physiology
||ys:co| |ropcr::cs. Qu:r|s. orá o:|cr ||cromcror: e BenHiar are
Hermaphromorphs, meaning their gender can change between male
& female. At most times, the BenHiar exists in a state of being as a
hermaphrodite, retaining traits of both sexes and neither. At some
point, an unknown trigger occurs which will cause members of a
cluster to spontaneously become engendered, and mating occurs.
Often, both mates fertilize each other, resulting in a dual pregnancy.
After the birth of the child., both parents “manifest” the necessary
anatomical features needed to nurse their young, and equally share in
the parenting responsibilities.
Another set of properties is the BenHiar gift with light. While
many believe this to be a psionic or magical gift, it has several physi-
ological manifestations mostly resulting in various unique forms of, or
increased ability in, vision.
Psionically gifted BenHiar usually have the unique gift of Pho-
tokinesis, and even those lacking this gift gain the ability to spontane-
ously create various light efects.
No BenHiar casts a shadow, a phenomenon which is believed to
be a side efect of their light afnity. is, however, has had a negative
impact with some alien races, especially those whose mythology re-
lates the lack of a shadow with “evil”. In most cases, the BenHiar have
overcome this superstition , but are still met with it by the uninitiated.
e BenHiar have the ability to cling to almost any surface,
thanks to high friction properties of the surface area of their fattened
fngers and toes. ey also have a membrane stretching from arm
to leg which allows them to glide for short distances. Few BenHiar
walk, performing to climb & glide, or cling to larger creatures and ride
when possible.
D:c:: e BenHiar are primarily
vegetarian, supplemented by insects
and occasional small amounts of meat.
Ac::v::y Cyc|c: e majority of
the BenHiar race are diurnal, though a
small percentage are nocturnal. ese
are the “Brothers of Shadow” – a
group of BenHiar who fnd that their
light powers actually work best on
shadow or darkness. ere is no nega-
tive connotation to being a “Brother”,
nor to being a nocturnal.
lcmpcro:urc Comjor: Zorc: 35 to 80 F
Avcrogc L|ács: Agc: 55
lypc oj B:r:|: Live
Avcrogc rumocr oj oµspr:rg: 2 to 5
Surv:vo| Ro:c :o oáo|csccr:: 65%
Commor I||rcsscs. om:c::ors: (on-
set age; % pop) Arthritis 30, 25%; e
Glow (uncontrollable emission of light
equal to small candle, increasing in
intensity every month after onset until
blinding just before death – generally
6 to 9 months) onsets at any age, .5%;
Shades (BenHiar begins to appear
cloaked in shadows, even in direct light, fnally fades into “true” shad-
ows and never returns) onsets any time after puberty, 2% of popula-
tion onsets at puberty, increasing by 1% per 3 years after puberty.
What members of this race, if any, are suitable as PCs? Any
BenHiar would make a good PC, though their lack of generalized skills &
disadvantages related to being alone would handicap them as an individual
– if played individually. As mentioned in “Playing the Cluster” (sidebar, pg. 1),
I encourage players to take at least two, or optimally three BenHiar to play at
a time.
Combat notes: Except to note that only BenHiar with specialized
combat skills actually fght, there are no particulars on combat procedures.
Faced with combat, most BenHiar will take fight rather then fght – not
from cowardice, but from a lack of experience or default combat skill. e one
exception is those with Psionic or magical abilities, who will bring those pow-
ers to bear to defend cluster & self. Usually, these abilities are used defensively
or non-lethally, as most BenHiar share the trait of pacifsm.
Culture
Gcrcro| :ypc oj soc:c:y orá/or po|:::co| s:ruc:urc: Prior to frst
contact with other races the BenHiar culture was rather simple, ef-
fectively being maintained at the cluster and intra-cluster level. ere
were no organized groups, government, commerce, or other signs of
“civilization”, yet the BenHiar had all the amenities of higher Tech
cultures. e clusters were an efective social form – interchangeable
members provided fexibility and freshness to the system, and encour-
aged invention and innovation that allowed them to use what was “at
hand” in ways that (they would later discover) mimicked technologi-
cal devices and systems. eir totally communal lifestyle and society
made skill a valuable commodity, but this was shared freely rather
then withheld for trade or favor. Leadership was granted within
Merchants and Commerce
The idea of trade, sales, com-
merce, and coined money are
new concepts to the BenHiar. In
the past, a cluster would just so-
licit for a member with the skills
to create what was needed or
needed done, offering member-
ship in the group in return for
their “aid”.
Interaction with the humans,
especially the Aerin Brotherhood,
has cultivated a new “Merchant”
class of BenHiar that are begin-
ning to appear within clusters.
Most of these only use their skills
to deal with outsiders, as the “old
ways” are still in use within the
BenHiar nation.
The increasing demand for
products from the “light” industry
is creating a real demand for
BenHiar clusters with merchant
skills, which is leading a number
of BenHiar clusters to venture
forth into the world with the Aerin
Brotherhood to learn the ways of
Merchants.
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clusters to the most skilled, and qualifcations varied based upon the
mission of the cluster and its membership.
Today, the BenHiar have developed a form of “higher” govern-
ment based upon the cluster, but this body has no interior authority,
being used only as an “ofcial” voice of the BenHiar people when deal-
ing with other races. Most BenHiar will abide by the decisions of the
leadership, but are not truly compelled to.
H:s:or:co| Ovcrv:cu/Lvcr:s oj S:gr:|corcc: As the BenHiar having
only “existed” culturally for about a thousand years, they do not have
a great deal of history compared
to other races. ere are legends
and tales of historic fgures who
had near perfect skill or who
embodied the total self incorpo-
ration into the cluster that most
BenHiar strive to achieve, but
these are more oral traditions
and tales told to young BenHiar
as teachings then true recorded
histories.
One event of signifcance
was the frst contact between
Humans and BenHiar. It came
approximately 1,000 years ago
between a trader of the Aerin
Brotherhood and a pair of Ben-
Hiar who had lost their cluster
mates in a freak accident. e
BenHiar, who were youngsters,
had been spying on the merchant
as he scouted through their
territory for a new pass. Several
of their cluster mates, who were
training for survival skill at the
time, underestimated the ledge
upon which they stood and
fell to their deaths. e noise
attracted the attention of the
Human, who searched the area
only to fnd the two survivors,
badly frightened and feeling the
efects of withdrawal from their
cluster. Not aware of what he
was doing, the Human picked up
the foundlings and placed them
within his cloak to calm them.
e BenHiar thought this an of-
fer to “join” with the Human, and
adopted him on the spot. It took
several months before either
being began to understand the
other enough to fgure out the
other’s form of communication, and in that time a bond had formed
between them. e Human, once he realized the BenHiars’ dilemma,
returned them to their territory where he remained for three years
before coming home himself, forming an alliance between his House
and the BenHiar “nation”.
Since that time, the BenHiar have remained within their traditional
territory in the forests of the Shieldwall Mountains as well as helping to co-
found the city of Luminaria, a place where both human and BenHiar can live,
trade, and learn about one another. Luminaria is also home to the growing
BenHiar industry of “light” material, created by those skilled in their natural
abilities or in Photokinesis to make everything from sculptures to weaponry
(the latter being rare, due to BenHiar pacifstic tendencies).
Do:|y L:jc: Beyond everything else mentioned here about clus-
ters, perhaps the most important aspect of daily life to the BenHiar
is what their clusters áocs. Cluster “professions” are defned by the
majority of the cluster’s abilities – for instance, a warrior cluster may
have 3 members each trained in diferent weaponry, one who has
expertise in survival in the geographic area of the confict, one with
tactile warfare training, and one member who is expert at frst aid
& “domestic” chores (cooking, tailoring, etc..) Each is a contributing
member of the cluster. Each has their own job to do, and will only do
that job – this renders the BenHiar all but incapable of using most
skills by default. Profession clusters constantly form and reform to
adapt to current needs – most have a stable central membership, add-
ing specialists for a short duration. Common long term members may
include a domestic, survivalist, tactician or professional skill specialist,
and medical member. Not all groups have all these, and some cluster
may include none of them.
A day in the life of the cluster varies by its work - most BenHiar
are known to work diligently, but do enjoy relaxation as well. Most
BenHiar will have a recreational skill tucked away for “down time”,
one of the few exceptions acceptable to the “all-energy–into-your-
specialty” mentality. It is also one way in which BenHiar individuality
manifests.
Lvcr:s G Ho|:áoys: Unknown until frst contact, BenHiar tend to
celebrate most human holidays (whatever they are in the location the
BenHiar are in) and “First Contact Day” a festival that commemo-
rates the frst contact between Man and BenHiar. ere are no “per-
sonal” holidays (like birthdays) or rites of passage in BenHiar society.
loooos G lroá:::ors: Few things are taboo to the inquisitive Ben-
Hiar. Due to their fexible social structure, few traditions exist except
those that strengthen the cluster or serve to encourage the honing of
skills. For all that alien races would believe that such a communal spe-
cies would have strict taboo systems and the like to maintain “order”,
the BenHiar seemingly have few such social mechanisms.
Or:g:r G Rc|o:cá My:|s: e BenHiar believe that they were
formed as material forms of the universal cluster, an ambiguous mass
of deity-like conscious, which is continuously shifting states from
being in total physical/mental/spiritual commune with itself, and
splitting into perfect individual forms.
Commor Bc|:cj Sys:cms: e BenHiar are not a religious race,
though those that believe share a common belief system based on the
Universal Cluster (see above). Usually, worshipers chose the specifc
individual mind that represents their own skill, and venerate its per-
fection, invoking its aid to hone their own skills or to when working a
particularly difcult task.
Ro|c oj :|c Goás :r Soc:c:y: Again, BenHiar religion does not play
a major role in their society. Priests exist, but their magic is viewed
(in many respects) like any other skill. Usually, priests follow the
Universal Cluster in its “collective persona” rather then individual
minds within it. ey will choose domains from the general list, and
specialize in magics from those areas.
Rocc’s ovcro|| ro|c :r :|c “cosm:c sc|cmc”: e BenHiar, due to
their gift with light, are seen by many to be the harbingers of “good”
on Aramosa, though to others they are the universe’s fools. In either
event, their impact at this time is insignifcant enough that any role
that they are meant for (if any) has yet to be played.
Rocc’s ovcro|| ro|c :r :|c compo:gr: I’ve introduced the BenHiar
Solid Light
A growing industry, as more BenHiar
train in this Psi discipline of Enduring
Light and related sculpting skills. Light
retains the properties under which it is
created – sunlight is vibrant and bright,
containing all the color spectrum; moon-
light is soft and pale (with brightness
by phase “gathered” from); frelight can
be the low and fickering candle, or can
be the dancing brightness of a roaring
bonfre.
Light shone through lens can create
permanently colored light (though the
discipline Color can be used at the time
of creation to achieve the same effect).
“Gas Light” is a container holding
enduring Solid Light Gas, and is one of
the fastest growing items to be made
(demands are increasing constantly.
Human glassblowers are settling in
Luminaria in droves to meet demands
for containers.)
Other Psionics

While the majority of psionic BenHiar
begin with Photokinesis as their disci-
pline, there are a few which manifest
additional or outright different abilities
altogether.
Most common after Photokinesis is
Telekinesis, which to many knowledge-
able about Psicraft is a strong indicator
that the two share common qualities.
Second most common is Telepathy,
perhaps not surprising considering the
near-hive mind mentality of the BenHiar.
Such individuals are often sought out
by clusters which demand precise co-
ordination between members to achieve
their work, or those that require a gestalt
to gather energy to perform high level
psionic feats (a common occurrence ion
the growing Solid Light industry.
After these, any Psionic discipline is
open to the BenHiar, none are favored in
regards to others.
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as a truly inhuman species for players to experiment with. Free of the
“burden” of a long standing or restrictive culture, yet alien enough in
their racial psychology to be a challenge when played correctly, I hope
that the BenHiar provide for a provocative experience for players
tired of Elves & Dwarves.
Photokinesis

A specialized psionic sub-discipline of %%% that allows mastery over
light and shadow, Photokinesis includes the ability of the same name,
as well as abilities allowing light to be manipulated and solidifed. It is
exclusively the province of the BenHiar.
Color
Psychokinesis (Con)
Level: Psion 0 / Psychic Warrior 0
Display: Vi
Manifestation Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Target: 1 object
Duration: Permanent
Saving row: None
Power Resistance: N/A
Power Points: 1
e BenHiar is able to change the color of light being shed from,
refected of of, or shining unto a light source or target. is can lead
to some interesting uses, though the efect cannot be used to grant the
BenHiar or others the ability to “see” light wavelengths not normally
visible to them (a BenHiar cannot “shift” the Infrared enough for
humans to see, though they could cause the Infrared light to “shine”
blue to those that cor see it), nor can it be used to change the bright-
ness (luminosity) of the light. Mostly, this ability is used to “tint” Solid
Light sculptures and materials.
Create I Absorb Ligbt
Psychokinesis (Con)
Level: Psion 1 / Psychic Warrior 1
Display: Vi, Au
Manifestation Time: 1 action
Range: Close
Target: 5 foot radius per level
Duration: Concentration plus d6 minutes (D)
Saving row: No
Power Resistance: N/A
Power Points: 1
e BenHiar can create or suppress light equal to direct sunlight
in a 5 foot radius for each class level they have. Light created gives of
no heat, and while it gives equivalent luminosity and has the color
spectrum properties of sunlight, it cannot efect undead or other crea-
tures that normally are harmed by the sun’s rays. Note that creatures
whose v:s:or is “hurt” by sunlight are afected by the BenHiar’s Light.
Conversely, the BenHiar can absorb all light present, creating an
area of darkness through which no visual sense or magic can be used
(this includes magical “sights”, dark vision, or similar means). is
renders all visually oriented creatures (including the BenHiar) in the
area blind.
e BenHiar can also use this ability to dim or brighten the light
within a given area, adding or deleting luminosity at a rate of 10% per
class level . Otherwise, the power manifests as total light or total dark.
Sbape Ligbt and Sbadow
Psychokinesis (Con)
Level: Psion 2/ Psychic Warrior 2
Display: Me, Ma
Manifestation Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Target: Source touched, up to one half an inch cubed ( 1
in
3
) per level
Duration: While touched, only
Saving row: No
Power Resistance: N/A
Power Points: 3
e BenHiar can cause light or shadow to take on properties of a
liquid, solid or gas with their touch. Such shapes fade within seconds
after the BenHiar ceases to touch it and concentrate upon it.
Liquid or gas forms created tend to fow away from the BenHiar
and dissipate quickly. Solid shapes are most often a string or ball
shape, though with a little concentration and sculpting more complex
forms can be created (such as a fat “board”, pyramid, or cup)..
e new skill “Craft: Sculpt Light” can be exercised in conjunc-
tion with this ability to create more complex shapes/items. DC is set
according to the complexity of the desired shape/item. DCs for such
complexities are given in Chart 1 “Power Cost and DCs” under the
L:g|: Scu|p:urc ability, below
Solid shapes created can support no real weight, generally col-
lapsing if more then a few ounces of pressure is exerted against them.
is discipline can be used to redirect light as well, allowing a
sun beam to be defected by re-shaping its “fow”; shadows may be “set
aside” like a curtain to be passed by; light beams may be interrupted
by being shaped into a gas which then fows away and dissipates.
Shapes still retain their luminosity, glowing with the light that
created them, or absorbing light with the same amount as their shad-
ow parent. Skilled users of this ability will often create “braids” – solid
strings of light and shadow intertwined – for their own amusement.
Pbotokinesis
Psychokinesis (Con)
Level: Psion 3 / Psychic Warrior 3
Display: Vi, Me, Au
Manifestation Time: 1 round
Range: Touch
Target: Varies by size created
Duration: 1 minute per level
Saving row: None
Power Resistance: N/A
Power Points: 5
You can bend light, creating a three-dimensional image up to 5
ft per 3 levels in size, within Medium range. e image will always
glow in the dark. To create an image, the Psi must pay the point cost
and make a Craft: Sculpt Light roll against a DC determined by the
complexity of the image. e amount by which the roll succeeded
determines how realistic the image will be:
a. Success by 0-3: Simple line images and colors are possible.
A man would be a vaguely humanoid blot of light, while
something simple like a doorway would lack detail, appear-
ing as a rectangle with a knob in it.
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b. Success by 4-7: Basic detail may be flled in. e image is
sketchy, resembling a cartoon, though from far enough away
the image may seem real.
c. Success by 8 or more: Full detail and texture are possible. If one
is trying to fnd discrepancies, make a contested roll between the
target’s Spot and the Craft: Sculpt Light skills.
If an image doesn’t turn out, the psi can dispel it and try again,
taking the appropriate amount of time, costing 5 power points per
attempt.
Ligbt Sculpture
Psychokinesis (Con)
Level: Psion 4
Display: Vi, Ma, Ol
Manifestation Time: 1 minute per 3 cubic inches Range: Touch
Target: 3 cubic inches (3 in
3
) per level
Duration: 1 day, plus one hour per level
Saving row: No
Power Resistance: N/A
Power Points: Varies (see below)
is Power allows the BenHiar to afect light or shadow in much
the same way as S|opc L:g|:/S|oáou, but the material created retains
its form for a day (or more) after the BenHiar last touches it. While
this has led to interesting creations such as fountains of liquid light
and/or shadows, solid “cloth” of sunlight, and shadow furniture, it is
mostly used to create a unique medium for BenHiar artists.
e material created by this skill can be made light enough to
foat in the air, and this material is used to create suspended sculp-
tures that are highly valued for their ephemeral nature. e BenHiar
have created an industry out of these foating sculptures of light.
Also of value is “BenHiar Gas Light”, which is simply light
shaped into a gaseous form then contained within a clear vessel to act
as a light source. Gas Light created in this manner is of short dura-
tion, though permanent Gas Light can be made as well (see Lráur:rg
L:g|:, below).
Material created, regardless of “consistency” is not afected by
heat or cold, nor does it conduct electricity. Prolonged exposure to
its opposite - light to darkness, or shadow to light – will cause “fade”,
which weakens the material.
Unlike material formed by Lráur:rg L:g|:, Light Sculptures have
no Hardness rating (Hardness costs are given for Enduring Light),
and generally have but 1 base hp. Additional hps can be “invested”
at the listed costs and modifers. Also, materials created by Light
Sculpture cannot be honed to, nor retain, a sharp edge (again, details
are listed for Enduring Light).
Light shed by Light Sculpture forms does not extend beyond 5
feet. Normally, the light is not so bright that the form within cannot
be seen, regardless of the light source used. e form itself normally
appears as to contain roiling light or shadow “liquid” that swirls with-
in itself, and while not truly opaque, neither can it be seen through.
Inexperienced BenHiar sculptors, who do think to use their
own Crco:c L:g|:/S|oáou abilities to create their sculptures (granting
them control over the amount of luminescence), most often create
sculptures of blinding brightness or sullen shadow.
Shadow forms appear to be covered in shadows regardless of the
amount of light shone upon them. is afect does not extend beyond
the form itself.
No:c: e Craft: Light Sculpture skill only gives the BenHiar the
ability to create and shape the material, but does not instill artistic
Power Costs & DCs I
Base Power Point cost per 1inch cubed
Power Points DC*
Light Or Shadow 1 --
Light & Shadow
mixed
3 10
Starlight* 7 25
Moonlight* 5 15
Firelight* 5 20
* - these light sources require additional energy, due to their unique
nature. Items made of these forms of light do not intrinsically have
any unique properties.
Power Costs & DCs II
Power and Skill DCs by Medium and Special Properties
Power Points DC*
Fluid +1 per 3 in3 15
Gas +1 per 3 in3 10
“Plastic” +2 per 3 in3 20
Solid
Highly fexible (cloth) +1 per 2 in3 15
Rigid / easily breakable (glass) +3 per 1 in3 20
Rigid/”wood” +5 per 1 in3 25
Rigid / “metal” +7 per 1 in3 30
Holds dull edge (Solid only) +4 +5
Holds sharp edge (Solid only) +7 +10
Each additional hp +2 +3
Each additional Hardness
Point
+5 +5
Opaque1 +1 +1
Translucent2 +1 +2
Additional area of light3 +1 +2
Additional area of light 3 +1(per 5’ radius) +3
Adjustable luminescence4 +1 +5
Permanent (Enduring Light)5 x2 --
*- is is the DC for those with the Craft: Sculpt Light skill to create
that particular medium.
1
– e item is truly opaque, though glowing colors ( of the light
source) are in constant movement across its surface
2
– e item can be seen through, though bits of color and lumines-
cence can be seen foating within it.
3
– is increases the area that is efected by the item’s luminescence.
4
- e luminescence given of by the item can be adjusted from
nothing to the maximum for the original light source used. (Starlight
cannot blaze forth like sunlight, though the efect could be completely
dampened).
5
– Permanent items are created with the Enduring Light power, if
the cost cannot be met, then treat as created with the Light Sculpture
power.
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ability to create something intrinsically “artistic” or “beautiful” . Most
BenHiar who use this skill as a source of livelihood also have skill in
“mundane” Craft: Sculpting, which grants a +2 synergy bonus (per 3
ranks of Sculpting) to the Craft: Light Sculpture skill.
Laser
Psychokinesis (Con)
Level: Psychic Warrior 4
Display: Vi, Au
Manifestation Time: 1 action
Range: Medium
Target: Ray
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving row: Refex, half
Power Resistance: Yes
Power Points: 5
You can project rays of “hard light” as a ray attack, doing 1d6
damage per level you possess, with a maximum of 10d6. As with
ray spells, the user must make a ranged touch to successfully hit the
target.
A successful Refex save halves damage taken. Laser rays cannot
penetrate fog or heavy smoke. ey can be used to start fres.
Enduring Ligbt
Psychokinesis (Con)
Level: Psion 7
Display: Vi, Ma, Ol
Manifestation Time: 1 minute per 1 cubic inch
Range: Touch
Target: 1 cubic inch (1 inch
3
) per level
Duration: Permanent
Saving row: No
Power Resistance: N/A
Power Points: Double cost as for Light Sculpture, see below
is, the most versatile and difcult of the BenHiar Photoki-
netic skills, allows the BenHiar to create objects from light or shadow,
mold them into a particular “medium” (liquid, gas, plastic, solid) and
make their existence permanent in that medium.
e process is exhausting, and projects to create objects beyond a
few inches in size often take a gestalt of BenHiar (usually all members
of the same cluster, which is formed specifcally for such projects).
Base power cost is based on the physical properties of the
medium created, the source (light, shadow, or a blend), and what is
being formed. Given in Chart 1 is costs for creating the form, and ad-
ditional costs for any special properties the BenHiar wish the form to
have (the ability to hold an edge, for instance). Enduring Light items
are created using the same cost chart as for Light Sculpture, however
to make a permanent item twice tbe calculated creation cost must
be spent. Without this expenditure, the item is treated as though a
product of the Light Sculpture power.
Material created has the same appearance as a Light Sculptures’,
though this can be changed at the time of creation for a small power
cost to true opaque, or translucent.
Note that these forms, once created, act in accordance with their
medium for such conditions as breakage, though the material created
is not afected by heat or cold, cannot be warped, nor does it conduct
electricity. Prolonged exposure to its opposite - light to darkness, or
shadow to light – will cause “fade”, which weakens the material (treat
as a loss of hardness and hps). “Mixed” material must be carefully
maintained.
Solid forms can be broken, though fuids, plastics, and gases can-
not be condensed nor boiled, due to their immunity to heat/cold.
Solid items created by the Enduring Light skill have an intrinsic
amount of hp, and some few can be invested with Hardness as well.
e basic hp & Hardness of each medium is listed below. Additional
hps or Hardness can be added, see Chart 1, above.
As with Light Sculpture, the forms created shed light enough
to illuminate a 5 foot radius. Additional areas of light are available,
with costs listed on Chart 1. A special property, allowing the owner to
mentally change the level of luminescence, is available as well (though
this can never be “turned up” past the original light source).
As with Light Sculpture, the use of this skill does not substitute
for skill in sculpting, weaponsmith, engineering or the like. Usually, at
least one of the cluster members participating in the creation process
will have the training necessary to create a functional, if not master-
work, version of the desired object.
A few examples:
Lxomp|c orc: A BenHiar is commissioned to create four 1 inch
cubes - two light, two shadow - to be used as functional decoration.
e light cubes need to have adjustable luminescence.
Base power cost for each cube is 1 (for basic light/shadow), . e
BenHiar decides to make the cubes solid as wood, adding 25 to the
DC, and adding a power cost of 5 per cube (each is 1 cubic inch, the
base cost for which is 5 points). e adjustable luminescence adds an
additional “charge” of 5 to the DC, and cost of 1 power point to the
two light cubes.
So to create the two “light” cubes would cost a total of 14 fatigue
(7 each), and each would have a DC of 30 for medium and adjustable
luminescence, the two “shadow” cubes would cost a total of 6 fatigue,
and have a DC of 25.
Lxomp|c luo: A cluster is commissioned to create a “frelight
cloth” to be used in the making of a shirt. e shirt will take approxi-
mately 2 square yards or 72 cubic inches of Firelight material to make.
Base cost is 72 x 5 or 360 power points, and granting a base DC
of 20.
e material is solid/cloth, invoking another +1 per 2 cubic
inches to power cost, (total of +36), and adding 15 to the DC.
As this is to be used for clothing, another +1 to power cost and
DC to make the material opaque is charged.
If the cluster were actually making the shirt as well, then at
least one member would need to have the Profession: Tailor skill to
make the components correctly and make the shirt – this may reduce
the amount of material necessary, and so could reduce power costs,
though not DC.
Item Property Base Power Cost DC
Firelight 360 (5 x 72 in3) 20
Solid, Cloth +36 (+1 per 2in3) +15
Opaque +1 +1
Total 397 36
Permanent (Enduring Light) 794 --
Lxomp|c lrcc: A cluster is commissioned to fll a public foun-
tain with liquid that incorporates both light & shadow.
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e fountain takes 75 gallons to fll. ere are 231 cubic inches
in a gallon of liquid, so base cost would equal (75 x 231 x 3) or an
amazing 51, 975 power points. e liquid would have a base DC of
10 for mixed light/shadow.
To this would be added the cost of (75 x (231/3) 77 x 1) 5775
power points and +15 to the DC.
To fll the fountain with permanent liquid will cost 115,500
power points, and have a DC of 25. e cluster decides to call in
some help.
Item Property Base Power Cost DC
Mixed Light & Shadow 51,975 (3 x 17,325in3) 10
Fluid state 5,775 (+1x [17,325/3] in3) 15
Total 57,750 25
Permanent (Enduring Light) 115,500 --
Gas Ligbt
As mentioned in Light Sculpture, one “product” of the Pho-
tokinesis industry that is gaining a rapid demand is BenHiar Gas
Light. is relatively simple creation is light turned to gas form and
contained within a clear, sealed container of some sort. It is most
often enhanced with the adjustable luminescence & expanded area
properties, and created from the brightest sunlight or Crco:cá Light.
Figure that each “quart” of size of the container takes 10 cubic inches
of light.
Item Property Base Power Cost DC
Basic Light 10 ( 1 x 10in3) --
Gas 3 (1 x [10/3] in3) 10
Adjustable Luminescence +1 +5
Expanded Area +4 (up to 20 feet affected) +3
Total 18 18
Permanent (Enduring Light) 36
New Skill
Craft (Ligbt Sculpture) (Int)
is is a specialized Craft category, usable only by those with
Photokinesis, or members of the Ben Hiar race. It allows those who
can touch or shape light to give it a specifc form. Often, other Craft
skills will be used as well, if the light being sculpted is being formed
into articles normally crafted from mundane materials (such as Craft:
Sculpture for artistic creations, or Craft: Weaponsmith to create a
Light Sword). Otherwise, this skill functions in all ways as a “normal”
Craft skill.
Check: as Craft skill
Retry: as Craft skill
Special: If used in conjunction with another Craft skill to form
a Light-made object, the secondary Craft skill grants a +2 synergy
bonus for every 3 ranks in the “mundane” skill possessed.
Solid Nature (per 1in3) hp Hardness
Highly fexible (cloth) 3 1
Rigid / easily breakable (glass) 3 0
Rigid/”wood” 5 1
Rigid / “metal” 7 2
Item Property Base Power Cost DC
Basic Light/Shadow 1 --
Solid, “wood” +5 x 1in3 25
Adjustable Luminescence(light
cubes only)
+1 each +5 each
Total (each light cube) 7 30
Total (each shadow cube) 6 25
Total (all 4) 26 See above
Permanent (Enduring Light) 52 --
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BABYLON 5 FAN FICTION
Edited by Steven Creech
I
n May, the d20 Magazine Rack partnered with Mongoose
Publishing to ofer a contest that captured the excitement of the
Babylon 5 universe. e contestants had to write a short story of no
less than 5000 words that featured original characters but could use
existing Babylon 5 characters in supporting roles. e other require-
ment was that a morgoosc be used in the story in some manner.
As one would expect, many stories built upon the classic Rudyard
Kipling tale either directly or indirectly. ere were a few surprises
and in the end, some very entertaining reading material. e contest
was close to judge with the winner being determined by ah err… a
whisker. Darrin Drader produced the winning entry with his short
story, V::c| Hur:. Micheal Mattei’s lc Lcssor oj :|c Morgoosc was
our runner-up and Richard Bax was third with V|crc :|c Hcc| :s :|o:
Ro:· So without further delay, I give you the winner and additional
contestants for the Babylon 5 short story contest.
Witch Hunt
by Darrin Drader (darrindrader@bastionpress.com)
Section 15: Witch Hunt Copyright 2003, Darrin Drader
“Mister Garibaldi,” came the voice from the far end of the cor-
ridor. Michael wondered how it was possible that the Centauri had a
regional dialect that sounded remarkably similar to Earth’s Hungar-
ian. Michael quickened his pace and rounded the corner, hoping he
could claim that his sense of hearing had failed. “Mister Garibaldi,”
came Londo’s voice once again.
Michael sighed, slowed his pace, but didn’t turn around. A mo-
ment later the ambassador was beside him, slightly winded. Once
Londo was at his side, he quickened his pace slightly. It wasn’t that he
didn’t like the ambassador, he did, but this just wasn’t a good time.
“Mister Garibaldi,” he said once more, “I need to have a word with you
about a matter of great importance.”
“Londo, it’s always a matter of great importance with you.” Said
Michael. Today the ambassador smelled slightly of alcohol, tempting
him yet again with the demon of the bottle. “Unfortunately right now
I’m on my way to a meeting with Sinclair, after which I need to get
caught up on three days worth of reports, and then I have to assemble
a team to track down the source of Brakiri Szizz coming onto the
station.”
“en I assure you that I will take up as little of your time as
possible,” said Londo. “Can you join me in the Zocalo for a drink?”
Michael slowed and looked at the ambassador. “In two hours.
Can it wait two hours?”
Londo gave him an irritated scowl. “It can, but I must ask you
that we keep this matter between us.”
“Sure, no problem,” said Michael. “Two hours, Zocalo. Got it.”
He said quickly, and then before the ambassador could elaborate
further, Michael started briskly walking away.
Londo shook his head sadly as he caught his breath. “You
humans spend much too much time running from place to place.
You should learn to slow down! You will fnd that you get more done
when you slow it down.”
Michael didn’t bother to try fguring out the ambassador’s last
comments. Instead he raced down, jumped in the lift and watched
the door close. He was already fve minutes late for the meeting
Sinclair scheduled hastily earlier today. Something didn’t feel right.
He couldn’t put his fnger on it just yet, but there was something
about the tone of the message that virtually screamed CYOA at him.
e lift doors parted and Garibaldi hurried down the hallway to the
commander’s ofce. Within, Sinclair sat at his desk, obviously waiting
for him.
“Sorry I’m late,” said Michael, running a hand over his ever-thin-
ning hair.
“I hope I’m not taking you away from anything important,” said
Sinclair with a look of genuine concern on his face.
“No,” said Michael, “Just a mountain of paperwork, the Centauri
ambassador, and an investigation of Brakiri drugs being smuggled
onto the station. Nothing too important.”
Without wasting any time in useless banter, Sinclair said, “We’re
going to have some visitors aboard the station that you need to be
aware of. You may want to prepare for your meeting with them, may-
be fnd them something to do while they’re here.” He had a troubled
look on his face as he said that. When Sinclair had a troubled look
on his face, Garibaldi knew that there was something to be worried
about.
“What kind of visitors?” Michael asked.
“e kind you don’t want to have this soon into your tenure as
security chief aboard this station. Earth Dome is sending a couple of
people here from Internal Afairs. Apparently they’ve been concerned
about some reports they’ve deemed ‘troubling.’”
is wasn’t good news. Michael had only been on the station a
year. He was just beginning to get used to the array of aliens, drifters,
and scumbags that made their home here. “Any idea what kind of
troubling reports?”
“ey wouldn’t say,” said Geofrey. “I checked their fles and they
look like the type that like to fnd things to report.”
“You mean they go looking for trouble?”
Geofrey nodded his head. “Now I know you run things on here
on the up-and-up, so I’m not too concerned, but I’m worried that
they’re coming here with some sort of agenda. You and I both know
that the bean counters back home have been looking for any excuse to
prove that this station doesn’t work. Finding holes in security is just
another thing they could use against us.”
Michael shook his head. “Commander, if you don’t mind me
asking you a personal question, why do you care so much about this
station. Ever since you showed up you’ve had people try to kill you,
bombs exploded, and alien attacks. I’m beginning to think myself
that this whole thing is a mistake. What’s more is that with your war
record and your position here, I’m sure Earthforce would fnd some-
thing for you if you went somewhere else.”
Geofrey smiled. “You and I both know that this station has the
potential to bring people together. e front lines of the Minbarri
war wasn’t pretty. By all accounts, we should have lost. What’s worse
is that if something were to threaten the shaky interstellar peace we’ve
managed to achieve, we might not do so well. We’ve seen entire races
wiped out in our lifetimes.”
“Like the Dilgar,” Garibaldi said, reminded of their recent en-
counter with the last of their kind, the Deathwalker.
“Like the Dilgar,” said Geofrey.
Changing the subject back to the matter at hand, Michael asked,
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“So when do they arrive?”
“About half an hour ago. ey’re waiting for you in your ofce.
I told them it wouldn’t be long, but I wanted to give you a head’s up
before you met with them.”
“anks commander,” said Michael. “I wouldn’t want to keep
them waiting.”
Michael knew that Internal Afairs meant one thing, something
had fltered back to Earth about the way things were run here on the
station. What was puzzling him was that he wasn’t doing anything he
shouldn’t be doing for a change. Ever since landing this assignment,
Michael had been dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘ T’. Despite the
reputation he’d managed to acquire back home, he was actually re-
sponsible here. If there was anything improper happening in security,
he wasn’t aware of it.
Michael opened the door to his ofce. Seated stify at his desk
in front of his wall of monitors were two men in suits. e one thing
Garibaldi hated more than uniforms with brass was suits. Standing
next to them was one of his new hires in a gray security uniform.
Branson was his name, no more than twenty years old and very
idealistic. Michael liked his security force young and idealistic. Unlike
a lot of the veterans he knew, these kids were still interested in getting
involved and doing the right thing. Of course he knew that over time
the universe would beat the living hell out of them and they would
end up like him sooner or later, if they survived the beating, that is.
“Ah, Michael Garibaldi,” said one of the suits. “My name is Jo-
seph Connolly, and this,” he said pointing to the person with him, “is
Max Weller. We’re from Internal Afairs.”
“Yeah, I was just informed of your arrival on the station. I’m
sorry I’m late,” Michael said quickly.
“It’s not a problem,” Joseph said. “We were just noticing that
reports haven’t been fled for the last three days.”
“I know they’re a little late, but it’s still within regulations,” said
Garibaldi. He motioned to a pile of paper on his desk. “I had planned
on getting to it right around now, but then I heard you were here, so
now I have something else in the way of getting through the paper-
work.” Michael didn’t want to play the usual game of cat and mouse
with these people. ere was nothing wrong with asking them what
this was all about. “So gentlemen, what brings you here?”
ere was a brief pause, and then Joseph Connolly smiled. It was
the smile of a predator. “It’s probably nothing to get concerned about.
We recently caught a shipment of small arms coming from an anti-
alien terrorist group on Earth. We managed to lock down their bank
account and found that a number of shipments and payments were
moving through this station.”
Michael laughed. “So if it’s coming into the station, you auto-
matically assume that we’re to blame.”
“I’m not placing blame anywhere yet, chief. Right now we’re
just following the trail of cash. What I do know is that if these arms,
which are illegal for civilians to possess on this station, are coming
in, they’re passing through customs, which is your department. We
intend to fnd out how they’re coming in and who here wants them.”
“ere’s a dozen groups I can think of of the top of my head
that want to see the foors of this station littered with the bodies of
dead aliens,” said Garibaldi.
“Yes,” said Joseph Connolly. “But the question remains, how are
these arms getting onboard, and why isn’t customs catching them?”
“I’ll start going over our records,” said Garibaldi, “and our video
fles. ere has to be something here that will point us in the right
direction. Once I fnd something, I’ll bring it to you immediately.”
“at won’t be necessary,” said Connolly. “I’ve already assumed
control of your records and your video fles. I’ll be reviewing them
myself.”
“With all due respect,” Garibaldi bristled, “I would like to be a
part of this investigation. If someone on my force is involved, I should
be the frst to know about it.”
“Yes, you should,” said Connolly ominously. “I would assume you
can watch what I’m doing as you process your paperwork.”
So he would be doing paperwork after all, Garibaldi decided.
“Look, as long as you and your assistant are here, you should take
the time to get to know the station… see what we’re up against. Why
don’t you send your assistant with Branson and check out the sta-
tion?”
“Not a bad idea, I’m sure he would like to get to know the place,”
said Connolly.
Two hours later, the stack of paperwork was three quarters the
height it had been before starting. Garibaldi had kept his eyes on
Connolly as the man sat stony-faced, watching the video archive. Peri-
odically he would stop the video, back it up, enhance various screens,
and then move on. He had yet to see anything linking with anything
else. “Chief,” came a call over his link. It was Branson.
“Yeah,” said Michael.
“Did you make an appointment with ambassador Mollari?”
“Damn,” Michael said. He looked at the clock. He was ffteen
minutes late.
“He’s down here at the Zocalo demanding to talk to you at once.
He says he made an important appointment with you,” said Branson.
“Sir,” he said to Connolly, “If you can excuse me a moment, I
have a meeting with an ambassador I completely forgot about,” said
Garibaldi.
“Of course,” said Connolly, as he zoomed in on a frame showing
two travelers arriving at the main port.
Garibaldi raced from the blue sector to the red sector. Although
he was originally loathed to agree to this meeting, there was still no
excuse for keeping an ambassador waiting. At least not unless there
were delicate inter-species negotiations going on and there was a need
to stall. is was considered just plain disrespectful.
By the time he made it to the Zocalo, he was twenty-fve minutes
late, and Londo was seated at the bar under the neon Zima sign with
an annoyed expression on his face. Michael walked up and sat down
in the seat next to the ambassador. “Ambassador, I’m sorry I’m late. I
know this wasn’t high on my list of priorities for the day, but I apolo-
gize for the disrespect.”
Londo smiled, as though seeing a dear friend for the frst time
in years. It was often like this with the ambassador when he wanted
something. Garibaldi knew well that Londo was able to turn this
endearing quality on and of like a switch. Right now he wanted
something, and apparently it was important. “Ah, my good friend
Mister Garibaldi, the bartender has been keeping me company and
reflling my drink. I kept telling him I was to meet someone impor-
tant here, and he kept insisting that you wouldn’t show. You have
won me a drink on the house, and for that I thank you. You see, good
things come to those who learn to slow down.”
“Look Londo, I appreciate your good humor, and on any other
day I would drink some water alongside you, but today in addition
to the list of things I told you about earlier, I now have to deal with
an Internal Afairs investigation. I’m suddenly not having a very good
day.”
Londo smiled pleasantly. “Don’t worry. I know you, and you will
make it through this. You see, you are a good man. Despite that fact,
you are also a smart man, and you will weather this investigation. I’ve
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seen you in far worse predicaments.”
“Don’t remind me,” Garibaldi said. “So what is this about?”
“I have a missing item that disappeared when passing through
customs that I need found as quickly as possible.”
“Customs?” Michael muttered. at was the second time in the
same day customs was mentioned. “What’s the item?”
“A small item from a very small family. One of my wife’s cous-
ins’ families dates back several hundred generations. ey are the
Gedari’s, a disagreeable bunch of barbarians that happen to have deep
ties to my own family. A thousand years ago three golden Grestars
were crafted from gold. ey were immediately made family heir-
looms and have been treasured ever since. Over the years, two of these
Grestars have been destroyed. One was destroyed on the Narn home-
world when the servants rebelled. Another one melted into a small
puddle of gold when their mansion on Centauri Prime burned to the
ground ffty years ago. Recently they have been traveling, so they have
entrusted me with the last Golden Grestar.”
“So, what do these Grestars look like?” Garibaldi asked, wonder-
ing where he would even start looking to turn these up.
Mollari frowned for a moment, then pointed at him, “ey look
almost identical to one of those Earth creatures, um… what are they
called? Ah yes! e mongoose!”
“So you want us to fnd a golden mongoose?” Garibaldi asked
incredulously.
“No, mister Garibaldi, I want you to fnd me the missing Golden
Grestar. If word should leak about this item disappearing, it would
bring shame and embarrassment upon my family. Even worse, my
wives would have yet another excuse to hate me,” Londo said.
“I won’t ask,” Michael said, not wanting to get into a discussion
with Londo about his multiple unhappy marriages. He knew one of
the things the ambassador appreciated about being on the station was
that he was well away from the lot of them. “Are you sure that this
thing actually made it to the station?”
“Yes, it was being shipped aboard the Noble Saber. e ship
made it, the pilot disembarked, his clothing and personal items ar-
rived, but the Grestar was no longer in the container he shipped it in.”
Michael looked at the ambassador who was also his friend,
“Look, I’ll see what I can do. If it disappeared in customs, that means
one of my men is crooked, and that isn’t something I want to deal
with right now.”
“Internal Afairs,” Londo muttered as he sipped a blue alcoholic
beverage from his glass. “I hope nothing is wrong, Mister Garibaldi.”
“Me too,” said Michael. “Me too.”
Garibaldi and Branson met privately in his quarters. Despite the
cautions from Mollari, he simply didn’t have the time to track down
the Grestar and deal with Connolly. He had explained ambassador’s
situation and the need to handle I discreetly. Branson, having never
been given an assignment of this level of importance, was more than
willing to take on the responsibilities.
“So look,” said Garibaldi, “I know that up until now I’ve mainly
had you walking the halls and making sure everyone is playing nice.
I’m giving you the authority to access the stations sensor system in
case that helps, and permission to bother the ambassadors if you need
to conduct this investigation. I’m going to be at my ofce making sure
Connolly fnds what he’s looking for. Since you’re on this thing, why
don’t you see if you can get Weller to go with you. e fewer of these
guys I have to deal with the better.”
“Will do, chief,” said Branson.
“I have to get back to my ofce. I get the feeling I’m not above
suspicion,” said Garibaldi. “Keep me informed of anything you fnd.
Since both of these issues trace back to customs, they might be
related.”
Ten minutes later Branson had managed to extend his ofer of
hospitality to Weller. Branson was still new to the station, having ar-
rived only a few months ago. He still hadn’t gotten used to the motion
of station, and he swore that he felt the gravity increase slightly every
time the portion of the station he was in rotated closer to Epsilon 3.
Unlike Connolly, Weller seemed to be riding the coat-tails of the
successes of his superior. He appeared to be in his mid-twenties to
his early thirties, with wavy blond hair that was immaculately placed
with hair gel. “So the chief told me one of the ambassadors has been
having problems getting things through customs,” he said. He knew
this wasn’t the entire truth, but it would serve for now. “While the
chief and your boss are going over the security records, it seemed like
a good idea to me to go down to there and ask some questions.”
Weller, expressionless, didn’t seem too eager to move. “What sort
of items isn’t the ambassador getting?”
“I don’t know,” said Branson. He decided a bit of truth wouldn’t
hurt since Weller couldn’t possibly know the gravity of the situation.
Truth be told, he wasn’t entirely certain he himself fully understood
the gravity of the situation. Londo Mollari had always been aloof un-
less he wanted something. “I hear it’s a golden mongoose.”
Weller walked over to the nearest computer panel. “is should
be easily solved. We can use the station’s internal sensors to detect
gold. If it’s still on the station, it should show up.” Weller inserted a
data crystal into the station terminal, giving him security clearance.
He said, “Computer, run a scan for all concentrations of the base ele-
ment gold on the station.”
e computer brought up a schematic of the station. ree
dimensional vectors began to appear, denoting the coordinates where
gold could be found. One appeared after another for several seconds.
At the bottom of the screen they saw the total number of items
detected: 22,150.
“We’ll need to narrow it down from this,” Weller said. “Do you
have any idea how big it is?”
“Based on what Garibaldi told me, probably more than ten
pounds.”
“Limit the search to all items ten pounds or heavier,” said Weller.
For the next several seconds numerous items dropped of the screen.
At the end, there were still over fve hundred items left.
Branson looked at the screen. “No ofense, but this doesn’t prove
anything. Even if we checked them all, there are several methods to
conceal gold so that the scanner can’t fnd them.”
Weller didn’t reply to the security guard. “Computer, I want
you to narrow the search to any item within ffteen meters of any
materials used in the manufacturing of weapons or explosives.” ey
watched as most of the coordinates disappeared from the screen. e
only one remaining on screen was in one of the private docking bays.
“What ships are docked in that section?”
“An ambassador’s ship?” Branson asked incredulously. He
punched up the station’s docking logs. “I don’t even believe this.”
“What?” asked Weller.
“I think we need to pay a visit to ambassador G’kar.”
G’kar came to the door wearing a loose gauzy shirt, which
indicated that he was most likely resting. Branson caught a glimpse
through the door to see a barely clad human woman with long brassy
hair lounging in one of the ambassador’s chairs. “Gentlemen, to what
do I owe the pleasure of your arrival?”
Branson averted his eyes from the woman in the narn’s quarters.
G’kar had a reputation for his conquests of human women. “Ambas-
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sador, we found evidence of some troubling items onboard your ship.”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand. What sort of troubling items?”
G’kar asked with a concerned look on his face.
“A large lump of gold and materials that indicate the presence of
banned weapons. ese materials link you to an investigation we’re
currently working on. I’d like to ask you to show me to your ship.”
G’kar smiled. “I’m sure this is all just a misunderstanding. I’ll
take you down there in fve hours?”
“Ambassador, I understand your position of importance, but
I would appreciate it if we could clear this up as soon as possible,”
Branson insisted.
“Is Sinclaire aware of your actions? Do you understand that your
insinuations come very close to accusations? I assure you that the
Narn Regime will not take kindly to this invasion of my privacy.”
“I’m just conducting an investigation ambassador. e sooner
you give me access, the sooner we can clear this up,” said Branson.
G’kar stood in his doorway for a moment. “Very well. In the in-
terest of cooperation, I will accompany you to my ship so that we can
put to rest any concerns you might have. Give me a moment to dress.”
A few minutes later G’kar, Branson, and Weller hopped into a
transfer shuttle that took them through the low gravity zone at the
center of the station from Green Sector to Blue Sector where the
ships were docked. ey rode in silence. It was obvious G’kar was
only grudgingly going along with this, and Weller was annoyed with
the situation. Branson knew that the Internal Afairs ofcer would be
much happier sitting behind a desk interviewing people he considered
suspicious. Hopefully this was keeping some of the heat of Garibaldi
while he worked to get this all sorted out.
A few minutes later the trio stood outside G’kar’s ship. “Ambas-
sador, I would ask you to open this up so we can search it.”
G’kar inserted a data crystal that keyed the door to open. As the
door slid open, the body of a gray suited security ofcer slid to the
foor. His throat had been slit from ear to ear and his uniform was
drenched in blood. G’kar’s eyes widened in an unmistakable mask of
rage, but by that time Branson’s training had already taken over. e
PPG leaped from its holster into his hand, and he was pointing it at
the ambassador. “G’kar, I’m placing you under arrest!”
“is is an outrage!” G’kar practically screamed. “I have never
seen this man before in my life, nor would I have any reason for kill-
ing him and dumping his body in my own ship. I demand to speak
with the commander immediately!”
Weller simply placed his hand on Branson’s wrist and forced him
to lower the weapon. “Ambassador, I apologize for the rash actions
of this security ofcer. I recognize your rank and position, and I
recognize that this man has no authority to place you under arrest. I
would appreciate it if you would allow us to search your vehicle as we
had discussed.”
Branson shot Weller a cold stare. A member of the security team
had clearly been murdered, and they were quite possibly faced with
the murderer right here and now.
G’kar let out a long sigh. “Very well, search my ship. It’s obvious
that someone is trying to frame me. I won’t resist, though this is on
the verge of becoming a diplomatic incident.”
Weller entered the spacecraft while Branson nervously kept his
fnger on the trigger of the PPG. A moment later Weller emerged
with a handful of gold in the shape of a mongoose.
Branson raised his right hand and activated his link. “Chief, we
have a situation here.”
Sinclair’s ofce was a cacophony of hysterical voices. After bring-
ing out the grestar, Weller had found numerous PPG’s and small
explosives locked in a storage trunk inside the ship.
G’kar, barely a step away from a holding cell, gesticulated wildly
while proclaiming his innocence, all the while restating over and over
that he knew nothing of this matter. Garibaldi stood silently next to
the commander, while Connolly stood with a deep scowl on his face.
Branson and Weller were busy trying to explain their fndings while
Londo Mollari stormed back and forth, caressing the golden grestar
with one hand while pointing at G’kar, restating that he knew the
narn was behind it.
“How many times do I have to tell you that we can’t trust this
one?” Londo stormed at Sinclaire. He then spun on G’kar, “What
were you planning to do with it. Eh? Sell it? Melt it down and turn it
into one of your pagan gods?” is last comment drew an angry growl
from G’kar. “Or perhaps you were planning to hold it for ransom.
Shame on you G’kar!” he shook his fsts at the ambassador. “Shame
on you!”
“Commander,” said Garibaldi, “I seriously doubt that G’kar
would be this brazen…”
Connolly cleared his throat, “I fnd it interesting that you would
defend the ambassador, Garibaldi. Aren’t you interested in justice?
One of your men is dead.”
“A fact that I feel horrible about,” G’kar interjected, “but I must
insist that I knew nothing about this.”
“I demand that he be brought up on charges for murder!” Londo
stormed.
“OK, everybody shut up!” Sinclair said, raising his hands above
his head. “Yes, this is a difcult situation, and if anyone should be an-
gry, it’s chief Garibaldi and myself. One of our men is dead, and right
now we don’t have any leads.”
Londo shot Sinclaire a menacing glare.
“I don’t believe G’kar did this for a second,” said Sinclair. “I’ve
seen frame-ups before, and this stinks of one.” He shot Connolly an
icy glare. “Sir, I understand your desire to track down the source of
the problem, but this issue just became a diplomatic matter. As a
diplomatic matter, I need Mister Garibaldi’s resources at his disposal
for the duration of the situation. I order you to return control of all
the records you have taken to my chief of security until this situation
is resolved. You can resume your business here once we have gotten to
the bottom of this.”
“Commander, I must protest!” Connolly shouted. “It is very clear
to me that your chief of security is involved with this in some way
based on the fact that he is defending the prime suspect. e fact that
you are backing him suggests to me that you are either so far under
his infuence that you can’t see guilt when it’s staring you in the face,
or you are in on it!”
Sinclair smiled. “I was waiting for you to come to that. You’ve
been on the station for a few hours and already you’ve damned my
chief of security and you’re trying to implicate me. You have nothing
more than circumstantial evidence to prove your allegations.” All eyes
in the room were on him as his voice boomed, “You’re clearly on a
witch hunt, and I’m not about to allow you to advance your agenda on
my station. Now get out of my ofce!”
Connolly slammed his fst on the commander’s desk. “I’m going
to report you for interfering with an Earth Dome investigation, com-
mander.”
“Go right ahead,” said Sinclair. He motioned towards the door,
indicating that it was time for the Internal Afairs ofcer to leave. Con-
nolly motioned for Weller to follow him out and the two exited the
room.
“Commander, I appreciate what you said,” said G’kar.
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“Commander, I insist that you arrest him,” Londo stated.
“Londo, I have absolutely no authority to arrest him at this
time. We have a number of facts left to gather, and I’m still waiting
for Doctor Franklin to report back with some basic information, like
when the security guard died. G’kar, while I don’t buy any of this, you
are still potentially in a great deal of trouble. Now, everybody get out
of my ofce, except for Michael.”
e ambassadors left, bickering between themselves as they
walked out. “You should be in chains G’kar!” Mollari shouted.
“Chains!”
“Yes,” replied G’kar. “I’m quite certain you and your people
would love to see that. May G’quan protect me from your evil.”
Branson followed the pair out, wondering for the frst time if he
really wanted to advance in the ranks and deal with these individuals
on a regular basis.
“Michael, we need to fnd a solution to this quickly. Earthdome
will be on the line within the hour if this isn’t resolved.
“Commander, thanks for what you did.”
Sinclair rubbed his temples. A massive headache had formed in
the last hour and was getting worse. “Don’t thank me just yet. ere
is a very real chance that Connolly could end up with exactly what he
wants: our heads on a plate.”
“It turns out Zucker had been dead for three hours when you
found him,” Garibaldi said to Branson. According to station logs,
G’kar was in a meeting with the drazi at that time, so he is defnitely
not our killer,” said Garibaldi.
“at’s good to know,” Branson said.
“But that leaves us at minus one suspect, and still one of my guys
dead,” Garibaldi said.
“He was found in his uniform,” Branson mentioned. “at means
that he may have still been on duty when he was killed.
“Let’s take a look at the security video in customs,” Branson said.
He called it up, and spotted Zucker on the monitor. “Looks like it was
pretty slow there during that time. He noted a centauri, who looked
to be in his mid-twenties walk past one of the cameras. Zucker disap-
peared into the bathroom. A moment later another security ofcer
emerged from the bathroom, moved out of range of the camera, and
walked of.
“Back up the video and zoom in on that centauri,” Branson said.
e computer backed up a few seconds to show them the face of the
centauri. “Put that on monitor one.”
e tape played forward for about a minute. e centauri was
carrying what looked like a heavy dufel bag. He moved of camera,
and when he returned, the dufel bag was no longer in his arms. He
then moved into the same bathroom Zucker had gone into before
disappearing from the screen. A moment later the second security of-
fcer on the tape emerged from the bathroom. “Zoom in on that man’s
face and put it on monitor three,” said Branson. e computer did so.
It was obvious that they were the same person.
“Centauri wear hairpieces,” said Garibaldi. “When they take
them of, they look close enough to us to pass as human. Just one
question. How did they get the body out of the bathroom?’
“It’s a short walk from customs to the docking bays,” said Bran-
son. “Maybe he snuck him out.”
Garibaldi nodded. “ere’s a ventilation shaft that runs from the
bathroom through to the docking bays. So if the Centauri walked
away from the area disguised as one of us, who took the body?”
Garibaldi and Branson looked at each other incredulously. “Com-
puter, what time did Connolly and Weller pass through customs?”
Garibaldi asked.
e computer displayed the time, fve minutes earlier. According
to the logs, they came in on the same ship the Centauri had disem-
barked from. “Computer, bring up the face of Weller on monitor four,”
Branson said. Weller’s face came up. “Son of a…”
Sinclaire raced to keep up with Garibaldi, Branson, and three
other security ofcers. “I just got done explaining to Earthdome that
we couldn’t comment on this situation for security reasons. ey
insisted that we stop interfering with Connolly’s investigation. I told
them that he would be allowed to continue just as soon as we sorted
out the diplomatic crisis. Care to tell me what’s going on?”
“Connolly and Weller are the ones that killed my man and
planted evidence in G’kar’s ship. I have it all on vid.”
“So why am I here,” Sinclair asked as they walked towards cus-
toms.
“To be a witness, in case they resist,” said Garibaldi. “ey obvi-
ously commandeered all the videos to stop me from examining them.
When you returned control of it to me, they knew it would be just
a matter of time before they were discovered. at means they’re
probably catching the frst fight of the station, which departs in fve
minutes. ey’re boarding right now.”
Customs was full of passengers waiting to depart the station.
e security team scanned the room, looking for the pair, knowing
that they’d had the time to disguise themselves as any alien that fre-
quented the station. Garibaldi scanned the room, caught a glimpse of
metal, and pounced on Sinclaire. “Commander! Down!” he said. e
two men collapsed in a heap on the foor as a PPG round few mere
inches over their falling bodies.
“e drazi and the Centauri!” Garibaldi shouted. e security
team’s PPG’s were already drawn and fring.
e two disguised Internal Afairs ofcers ducked behind some
luggage and squeezed of several shots. Branson heard the scream as
one of the station security men went down behind him. He threw
himself to the foor and fred several times. e PPG blasts destroyed
the luggage of one of the terrifed passengers, but the pair kept mov-
ing.
Garibaldi climbed to his feet and moved quickly towards the
oncoming shots. He knew they were trained with their weapons, so
he tried to keep himself behind cover as much as possible. He passed
behind a couple of plants, then behind a series of chairs. PPG impacts
sounded around him. Garibaldi jumped up, squeezed of two shots
and saw one of the fgures fall.
Connolly was the one remaining, wearing a Centauri head dress.
He took aim at the security ofcers manning the gate, both of whom
ducked as he raced to the airlock. Branson knew that if Connolly
made it to the ship, he would have the leverage necessary to get of
the station. ey could always try to keep the ship from leaving, but
Connolly would threaten to crash it into the interior of the station.
At that point their decision would be between risking the lives of the
humans and aliens in that section, or letting him go. Ultimately they
would decide to let him go. Less than a minute after clearing the sta-
tion, they would be safely through the jump gate and in hyperspace. It
was a losing proposition. Connolly could not be allowed to get to the
ship.
Branson ran full on, fring his PPG as he went. Connolly turned
around, fred a couple shots as Branson leaped towards him. He felt
the pain and the burn as one of the PPG shots connected with his
chest. His body landed on Connolly, forcing him to the foor. e
room became a blur for Branson as the remaining security person-
nel held Connolly down. A moment later there was the sound of one
more PPG shot as Connolly pointed the PPG at his own head and
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pulled the trigger.
“Get him to Med Lab!” Garibaldi shouted at the remaining secu-
rity ofcers, pointing at Branson.
Sinclair had regained his feet and walked to Weller, the only one
of the conspirators that remained alive, if only barely. “ere’s some-
thing more than two rogue ofcers here.” Sinclair shouted. “You’re
working for somebody. Who are you working for?”
e fallen man looked at Sinclair. e pain he was in was obvi-
ous. “It was C… Cl….” With that, Weller’s eyes went wide as the life
fowed out of him.
Branson felt a dull burning in his chest. He opened his eyes and
looked around. He was lying on a bed, surrounded by medical scan-
ners. Garibaldi was sitting at his side. “Did we do it?” he asked.
“You did good, Branson. You did good.”
“Who was behind it?”
“We don’t know,” Garibaldi said. “We pieced together that Con-
nolly and Weller were trying to make us look incompetent or guilty
of a crime while creating a major diplomatic incident in an efort to
make the station look bad. If they would have succeeded, they might
have been able to convince Earth to shut us down.”
“So will I live?” Branson asked.
“ey shot you up pretty good,” Garibaldi replied, “but Franklin
says you’ll live.”
“ank you chief,” said Branson. “I know I’m new here, but
thanks for giving me the chance to prove myself.”
Babylon 5 continued to spin quietly, all alone in the night.
The Lesson of the Mongoose
By Micbael Mattei (paladin_m_mattei@juno.com)
Section 15: e Lesson of the Mongoose Copyright 2003, Mi-
cheal W. Mattei
Special anks To: Laura Gonzales, Aaron Bynum and Jeremiah
Wenneker for some much needed editing.- M. Mattei
I was there at the dawn of the third age of mankind. I had a hand
in the shaping of history and I am proud of my contribution. My
name is Jeremiah Streight and I am a ranger. However, I was not al-
ways part of the army of light. is is the story of how I came to fnd
my place within that honored body and how the unlikely infuence of
a mongoose saved my life.
e year was 2257, nine years after the Earth – Minbari war. At
this time the Minbari remained nothing less than terrifying. e only
thing that dwarfed the intimidation of the Minbari’s sheer wrath and
power was their mystery. e Minbari tore a swath through every
military engagement they had with us save one, and when the jug-
gernaut of their feet reached Earth, they surrendered but not before
they killed my father who fought in the battle of the line just mere
hours before their inexplicable surrender. Now, the Minbari had gone
out of their way to be our friends, even going so far as to fnancially
sponsor the creation of Babylon 5, the last attempt by Earth to create
a meeting place where the diferent races could gather peacefully, to
avoid the horrors of another war.
I never understood the sheer capriciousness of the Minbari, how
with one hand they could bring us to the brink of extinction, and
with the other help to make our dream a reality. How could I look
one in the eye after they took my father away? e Minbari may have
surrendered at the battle of the line, but we were truly the defeated.
I had joined Earthforce three years after the war, and served an
unfulflling four-year tour as a Starfury pilot on a cruiser patrolling
trade routes with Centauri and Narn. Chasing down the occasional
raider brought me no peace, so at the end of my frst tour I received
an honorable discharge and entered the public sector. e two years
following my discharge I had spent partnering with a friend I met
in Earthforce named Alexander Oden, but I called him “Lex” like
everybody else.
Now, Lex was probably my best friend in the whole galaxy at the
time but he was still very much a mystery to me. He was my squad-
ron leader and had served in the war. Lex had even been at the battle
of the line but he only knew my father in passing. Lex grew up on
Earth and to listen to his stories you would think he had visited every
corner of the globe. Apparently both of his parents were Protestant
missionaries, and as a result he had grown up in some pretty exotic
locales - at least they were exotic from my perspective, seeing as I
grew up on Mars.
Lex and I contrasted each other on almost every detail. He was
middle-aged, short, solidly built and dark while I was young, tall, thin
and pale. However the greatest contrast between us was that Lex was
gregarious where I was sullen. He was wise and relaxed where I was
uptight and driven. Lex liked to talk a lot and tell stories, where I
preferred to listen. We made great partners; he would secure our jobs
and I would take care of all the details.
I was very proud of our track record; we never had a late delivery
or a damaged piece of cargo in our two years in business. Lex was
a master at planning ahead and I micromanaged every detail to the
point of perfection. Our ship was one of those old solid Atlas class
freighters that they just do not make anymore and frankly I think
she was twenty years out of date when we bought her. We called her
Arrc, because that was the name painted on the side of the ship when
we bought it. Arrc could haul 100 metric tons for a quarter of a light-
year and had a rotating command module. She was made to last and I
loved her for it.
For many Babylon 5 was almost a mystical place. It was symbolic
of human desire to avoid another war. at vaunted idealism meant
little to me at the time and I could seldom look upon the wondrous
space station without being reminded of the defeat which inspired it.
However, Babylon 5 was not simply a diplomatic meeting post. It was
a port in neutral territory where all kinds of commerce could freely
fow with little restriction. It was at Babylon 5 that this story really
begins.
Lex and I began running cargo to and from Babylon 5 as soon as
it came online. It had not been online a year yet and we had already
made over a half dozen stops there. Our latest shipping run, while
quite drawn out and bogged down with several minor inconveniences,
seemed too good to be true. We had picked up a single canister
small enough that I alone could lift it. e Centauri Ambassador to
Babylon 5 was willing to pay for the use of our entire ship for that
single piece of cargo. Lex and I were worried we might be shipping
some kind of controlled substance at frst, but we were told that it
was simply very difcult for a Centauri to get a hold of and required
extra care.
Lex and I had just docked and he was regaling me with tales of
Earth when we entered the space station. He was in the lead with our
paperwork and I followed diligently behind carrying the crate like a
good junior partner.
Our business was small and we had no permanent staf beyond
ourselves. If the cargo had been signifcant in size we probably would
have hired lurkers to unload the ship. Lex felt sorry for those aban-
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doned people trying to survive in the underbelly of the station and
I shared his sentiment. As a result they were always our frst choice
when trying to get some extra labor.
We had just passed through customs when we met the great
Ambassador Londo Mollari himself. Mollari was not an even re-
motely impressive fellow to look at, despite the fact he represented
the “great Centauri republic.” His hair was propped up like the fan of
a peacock, which indicated great status among his own kind. Despite
his bizarre hairdo Mollari looked much like a pudgy middle-aged
human in most other respects. His purple clothing was reminiscent of
what Napoleon is often depicted as wearing but taken to a most gar-
ish extreme and then decorated with oversized spectacularly jeweled
medals to avoid any possible claims at being understated.
Mollari spotted us, that is, he spotted Lex and called to us with
that thick, almost comical Centauri accent of his. “Mister Oden, my
good friend, it is pleasure to see you again.” Lex and Mollari shook
hands while I looked on trying to give the impression of being com-
fortable standing there holding the crate. Fortunately Mollari spotted
my discomfort. “Oh, you must be Alexander’s young friend, Mister
Streight. I have been told much about you. Please come with me and I
will show you where you need to put that.”
Mollari led us to one of the transports used to travel through the
massive space station. As was his way, Lex made casual conversation
with the Centauri ambassador. “Londo, I am surprised that you came
to meet us yourself. Why didn’t you send someone to meet us?”
“Pah! Home world does not seem to value my position here on
Babylon 5 enough to even provide me with a single aide, let alone a
staf.”
“Well, I am sure that as the usefulness of Babylon 5 becomes
more apparent they will send someone to help you out.”
“Always the optimist, eh Lex? With the luck I have been having,
whoever they send will likely be in far less favor back home than I am.
Bah, enough of my problems. Tell me, how is your father?”
“He is doing well. He and my mother are running a little church
in Israel right now.”
ey went on like this catching up on old times and I ended up
tuning out the rest of their conversation and turned a wary eye back
to my fragile cargo. It was not long before our transport arrived at our
destination.
We stepped out into one of the more spectacular areas of
Babylon 5 - the gardens. Green stretched out before and above us
inside the giant cylinder that was much of Babylon 5’s Red and Green
sectors. e organic majesty was a welcome change from the gray
surfaces found throughout most of the rest of the station. I did my
best not to stare but I know I must have looked a little dumbfounded.
I reminded myself to pick up some fresh fruit before we left the sta-
tion, it may be expensive, but it would be a welcome change from the
freeze-dried foods we kept on Arrc.
Mollari did not even pause before the spectacular sight but led
us down an out of the way path to a small, gated area. Mollari dialed
a combination into the gate and it swung open. We entered Mollari’s
private little garden and we were greeted by the sight of a Markab
silently tending to several Centauri plants. Mollari motioned for me
to step forward and with a giddy smile pointed to where I should set
the crate. “Let’s take a look, shall we?” After I put it down Mollari ma-
nipulated the locking mechanism skillfully. “It is a good thing you two
always deliver on time, another day and this might have been lost.”
He opened the crate to fnd a small rust colored plant connected to
several nutrient feeds, and a ring of ultraviolet lamps arranged about
it set on a timer. Mollari laughed triumphantly at the sight of it. “Do
you know what this is?” He did not even give us a chance to guess.
“is is a G’Quan Eth plant.”
I beat Lex to the verbal draw “‘G’Quan Eth’, that is. . . Narnish
isn’t it?”
Mollari directed his gardener to the plant. “I want you to put
every efort into making sure that this blooms.” He turned his atten-
tion back to me. “Yes, yes. . . It is a Narn plant. e barbarians are
unwilling to trade with us and as a result squander these treasures to
be burned as incense.”
Lex caught on much faster than I did. e displeasure in his
voice was obvious. “Londo, you know we do not trafc in illicit items.”
Mollari’s response was slow and gentle, like a parent trying to
explain a particular technical difculty to a child. “e trafcking in
G’Quan Eth is not monitored by either your government or mine. It
is simply very hard to come by.”
“I have no doubt that is true, but how many Narn regulations
did we just break?”
Londo waved of Lex’s concern dismissively. “Pah, Narn regula-
tions! We are in neutral space. If we were bound by Narn regulations,
I would be dead already.”
“If the Narns had realized what we were carrying and who we
were delivering it to, we would be dead right now.”
Mollari’s expression turned dark. “Nothing happened and you
have been more then compensated.”
Lex scowled, it always bothered me when Lex got angry. “I do
not like this kind of treatment, Londo. Next time you need cargo run
contact someone else.”
Mollari waved us away. “Fine then, be that way! Be gone!”
Lex and I left without further comment. is marked the frst
and last time I ever encountered the infamous Londo Mollari. For-
tunately, I was about to meet someone who would soon become my
most close and trusted friend. Of course, as with many life changing
events, I did not see it for what was at the time.
Lex and I proceeded to meet our next client and he had just
warned me about her. I was incredulous with his choice. “We are
hauling cargo for a Minbari?! Lex, I know you are big on “Christian
forgiveness” but this is ridiculous!”
Lex patiently patted me on the arm. “Jeremiah, my young friend,
who do you think would be hurt if we simply decided to discard a
whole new opportunity because of our personal feelings? I will tell
you who: us and no one else.”
I relented. I always did. I loved Lex like a second father and I
never could question him for long. I swallowed my outrage and after
a few moments it was replaced with a morbid curiosity about our
Minbari client. Despite my lingering bigotry towards the Minbari,
I have wondered much about them ever since I was young man, too
young to fght to protect my world from their onslaught. I had seen
them in passing during our occasional visits to Babylon 5 but never
had actually met one.
We were to meet our client in the Zocalo, Babylon 5’s main mar-
ketplace. We got there with our expected punctuality and found our
client sitting at a table contemplating a salad. She was not quite what
I was expecting. She seemed rather young to me and even kind of
cute. She had piercing green eyes and an upturned nose. I was almost
sorry that her heart shaped face was topped with a smooth Minbari
bone ridge. She was wearing the black and brown robes of a ranger
complete with the pin consisting of both human and Minbari faces,
but of course I did not realize the signifcance of her dress at the time.
Lex, of course, spoke for the both of us. He approached her table
and addressed her respectfully. “Are you Sheh-nin?”
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She looked up from her meal and smiled back gently. She spoke
with a faint unfamiliar accent and each word was followed by a mo-
mentary pause, as if she were trying a little too hard to speak English
precisely. “Ah, Mister Oden and Mister Streight, it is nice to meet
you.” She corrected Lex almost as if she was sorry to have to make the
correction. “My name is Sheynin. You made an admirable frst efort,
for a human.” Her gentle condescension stung me far more than it
should have, but she instantly put me on edge.
ere may be no greater interpersonal sin than disappointing
someone and Sheynin had disappointed me. I was expecting some
blustering arrogant male rather than a mild-mannered girl trying to
put me at ease. e worst thing about Sheynin was that I probably
was determined not to like her from the moment I met her and I had
a sudden realization it would not be easy. I was young and still too
headstrong, and so I simply redoubled my eforts.
Lex was disappointing me by already taking a shine to the
Minbari lass. He already sat down across from her and was hashing
out the details of the operation while I just stood there glaring at her.
Lex gave me a chilling look and then put me in my place. “Jeremiah, sit
down.”
e table was small and circular, so I had to sit down next to
Sheynin. She just smiled at me and knew that my glare had already
failed, so I decided to simply turn my gaze elsewhere. I just let Lex
do his work. e job was to be pretty basic with about a half week’s
cruising time both ways. We were to deliver a full cargo-load of sup-
plies to a Minbari facility located on a Drazi colony. e job sounded
simple enough and lucrative enough, although the last requirement
she provided got my attention.
“You want to come with us?!” I interjected and turned my gaze
back to her.
She smiled at my reaction. “So you do speak, splendid. Yes, I
must accompany the cargo.”
I looked to Lex to back me up but his expression told me rather
clearly that he expected me to sort this out on my own.
“Listen . . . lady, we don’t run a cruise ship. It’s a cargo ship. We
only have two bedrooms.”
“Is that necessary? After all, at least one of you must be at the
helm at a time, correct?”
I looked to Lex again but he was clearly amused at my discom-
fort, I made one last ditch efort. “It isn’t clean.”
“It will be sufcient.”
Lex chuckled. “If it helps any, she can sleep in my room when I
am on shift.”
I was defeated and I knew it. A Minbari was about to spend over
half a week in my ship, and I did not like the idea one bit. “You’re re-
ally okay with this?”
Lex just nodded to me.
I took this as an opportunity to leave. I would be trapped in close
quarters with the Minbari very soon in the future but I wanted to
keep my distance for as long as possible. “I’ll head down to down-bel-
low and pick out some lurkers to load the cargo. I’ll keep a close eye
on them.” e biggest problem about hiring lurkers is that you had to
keep a close eye on them all the time. Lurkers tended to be desper-
ate, as is their right, and as a result there was always the chance they
would sometimes try to steal from the cargo.
Twenty-four hours later Arrc was fully loaded and our passen-
ger was ready to depart. We departed Babylon 5 without incident and
entered hyperspace. All that was left was three days in hyperspace and
a little less than one in normal space with nothing to do but chat with
our Minbari guest.
Now do not get me wrong, Lex and I had things we did on long
trips when we were alone. He would paint, I would play the syn-
thesizer. We both enjoyed reading and would often swap books and
discuss them for days afterwards. However there is not a lot of room
onboard Arrc to avoid someone and Sheynin provided us with an
unending stream of questions about humanity. Lex responded in kind
and to be honest before long I was eagerly trying to learn anything
about the Minbari race that she was willing to divulge. Two days into
the trip, I had lost my ability to despise her at all and was beginning
to think about how things would not be as pleasant once she left.
I did not sleep much during the trip and as a result there would
often be periods when all three of us would be in the cockpit having
long conversations about our races, how we difered and how we were
alike. e conversation I remember the best was when we had started
discussing the castes of the Minbari. Sheynin had just explained to us
that she was of the religious caste of the Minbari and the two other
castes: warrior and worker.
Sheynin was explaining to us her confusion at the human
condition. “How is it that your people can fnd direction in your lives
without the guidance of caste and clan?”
I was sitting at the controls and still looking forward while she
sat behind me. I found it a bit easier to talk with her with only her
faint refection in the cockpit window before me. “We make do. You
could say by following in my father’s footprints and entering military
service I followed his caste.”
“And yet you abandoned military service for a task more suited
to the worker caste.”
“It is a diferent galaxy, it seems all the good fghts have already
been fought.”
ere was an uncomfortable pause before Sheynin responded. “I
would not be so certain.”
Lex was sitting in the co-pilot seat and sensed the tension in the
cockpit and ofered up one of his anecdotes. “Humans are not entirely
without castes. Nearly half the population of India still holds great
stock in their caste tiers. In fact it is my opinion that castes have kind
of held back many Indians. I spent about a year there when I was
about six or so.”
I chuckled. “You lived in India? I do not think you ever got
around to telling me much about it.”
Lex nodded. “Well, the only thing I remember really vividly
from my time in India was Ezekiel.”
Now Lex had gotten my attention. “Ezekiel? I do not think you
have ever told me about an Ezekiel.”
Lex smiled to himself. “He was my pet mongoose.”
Sheynin leaned forward. “What is a mongoose?”
I foolishly answered her question before Lex could come up with
the words to describe the animal. “It is a kind of bird, I think: a big
white . . . honking bird.”
Lex had a good belly laugh at my expense. “No Jeremiah, that is
a goose. A mongoose is a . . . well it is kind of like a cat but skinnier
and its fur is kind of rough with a big bushy tail. Mine was gray. ey
could kill cobras. In fact I watched Ezekiel do it once.”
Sheynin did not fully grasp the description. “Cats, cobras: what
are these things?”
I turned to Lex. “May I?” He nodded to me and I continued.
“Cats are four legged mammals about so big.” I stretched out my
hands about forty centimeters apart. “ey have teeth and claws and
have been used to catch vermin by mankind for some time. Humans
on Earth often keep them as pets. ere are even some on Mars.
Cobras are scaly lizards without legs or arms, just a large tail with a
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mouth. ey move quickly and have poisoned fangs. ey are very
deadly. I saw them in a zoo when I was in high school and they are
scarier than they sound.”
Sheynin nodded to herself. “I believe I understand. So how does
the mongoose defeat the cobra?”
Lex continued his story. “Well, a cobra only has to successfully
strike once to kill its prey. So a mongoose denies it the single strike it
needs. A mongoose would get the cobra’s attention and then dodge
when it struck out. It would keep dodging until the cobra started to
tire. en the mongoose would go for the cobra’s head and crush it in
its jaws.” Lex was smiling as he fnished his explanation, I could tell
that he was reliving the spectacle of his own mongoose in combat. “It
is kind of interesting how it is always a real battle. Both the mongoose
and the cobra stand a chance of winning.”
Sheynin seemed to be quite interested in Lex’s mongoose. “What
happened to your Ezekiel?”
“When my family went back to America for a year of fund rais-
ing for missions, I had to leave him behind. Mongooses may be great
pets but they can be dangerous for foreign ecosystems. ere are not
even mongooses in American zoos.”
I felt slightly vindicated. “So, no wonder I didn’t see one at the
San Diego zoo.”
Sheynin was interested in the mention of missions. “Mister
Oden . . . .” She corrected herself. “Lex, are you saying that your family
was in the business of religious ministry?”
“at’s right. I even thought about joining the force as a chaplain
for a time. Although when I was younger, stories of the Dilgar war
inspired me to be a crusader of sorts. When humanity entered the
Dilgar war, our actions saved the lives of many species in what is now
e League of Non-Aligned Worlds.”
Sheynin was really interested. “It is as if you have experienced the
life of all three castes of my people in the course of your life.”
“Well, I would give none of it up.”
“Is it like this for all humans, to experience all the aspects of
duty?”
“Not always, but often.”
“So, your apprentice, Streight, is with you to gain appreciation
of the religious aspects of the human way of life because he already
knows the path of the warrior and the worker.”
I choked back a laugh but Lex delivered a rapid-fre response.
“Yes, but he doesn’t know that.”
I looked over at Lex but his face was deathly serious. I shook my
head, turned my gaze back towards the stars, and I saw something. I
pointed towards a rust-colored gleam lost on the feld of stars before
us. “I think that’s a ship.”
Lex turned on the external camera and zoomed it in on the ves-
sel. It was dark red missile of craft that fattened out towards the rear
with a blunted nosecone and had two glowing gold indentations on
either side of the nose. “at’s a ship alright, but it is like nothing I
have seen before.”
I turned back towards Sheynin. She feigned ignorance but I
could see some level of recognition in her eyes. I pressed the point.
“What is it?”
“I honestly do not know. I merely have a . . . suspicion.”
“Which would be what?”
“Danger.”
“Lex, arm the guns.”
Lex shook his head. “Don’t forget how the last war began. I will
not provoke them.”
I toggled a switch on the console and the iris-like blast seal on
the front view port slid smoothly shut. “Well, I am not going into this
unprepared.” I reached over to the engine control panel and primed
the engines for a maximum burn. “If you are not strapped in now
would be a good time to fx that.”
Lex quickly donned his safety straps and Shaynin, seeing his
haste, followed suit. Lex reached towards the radio and I stopped him.
“Let’s wait until we’re sure they’ve spotted us and they care about it.”
Lex nodded, leaned back and stared into the little view screen with
stony anticipation.
We just sat there for maybe ten minutes, cruising without the
slightest alteration of our course. We were deathly silent, as if we
feared that our voices could carry from Arrc through the void of
space to the alien ship. For a little while we thought it might just pass
by without taking notice of us. We were not to be so fortunate.
e ship turned towards us and the twin ports on either side
of the nosecone were glowing even brighter. Sheynin had a recom-
mendation: “Perhaps we should open the gun ports.” Lex and I turned
back towards her and she did not seem to understand our bafement.
“To show that we approach them open handed. To display our weap-
ons shows that we respect them.”
I turned back towards the view screen and the indentations on
the alien ship were glowing even brighter. “Lex, I do not think those
are high beams.” I scanned the sensors. “Yeah, I’m reading a high
energy curve. Arm the guns.”
Lex nodded his ascent. “Alright. . . .” Lex was interrupted because
at that moment the alien ship discharged those ports, which were very
clearly weapons, at us.
Without a moment of hesitation I fred the main engines at
maximum thrust and angled Arrc to avoid the blasts.
It is a common misnomer held by those inexperienced in the
nuances of space fight that freighters are slow and ungainly. A
fully loaded freighter accelerates slowly but it is capable of reaching
velocities just as high as any other ship, provided the fuel holds out
to continue the acceleration. Any good Star Fury pilot knows that
acceleration is simply force divided by mass. Unloaded, Arrc could be
fairly nimble thanks to its powerful engines. Unfortunately Anne was
still loaded to capacity, so we simply did not dodge quickly enough.
e force of Arrc’s engines pushed us back into our seats. Even
as we saw the two golden nimbuses of energy streaking through space
towards us, I knew we would not get out of the way in time.
e frst of the energy orbs struck the ffth cargo module, rup-
turing it. e impact batted Arrc to the starboard and the second ball
missed us by a narrow margin. Arrc shook violently and I could hear
the grinding of metal as the driver which spun the crew compartment
stalled.
Lex furiously manipulated his controls as he looked over the
damage report. “Cargo module fve is all but gone, and the main driver
is jammed. I think they may have mistaken the cargo module for our
fuel tanks. We were lucky that time.”
I manipulated my controls, turning us away from the alien ship.
I grimaced as I found Arrc to be drifting to the starboard. “e port
main engine is bent too. e ship is listing. Dump module fve. On
second thought, dump them all.”
Sheynin was concerned. “You are dumping the cargo?”
Lex answered her as he overrode the safeties and detached
the cargo sections. “Arrc is an old ship and it was designed to be
modular. Its cargo area is made of fve separate modules which can be
detached and swapped in for another to allow for quick turnaround at
the destination. Of course the modules are out of general service now,
so we do not usually detach them.”
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I could feel a surge of acceleration as the modules came loose.
“I am going to try to keep the detached modules between us and our
friend.” Despite our sudden surge of acceleration Arrc still seemed
overly sluggish. A quick count confrmed my worries. “Lex, I only
count three modules out there.”
Lex released his restraints, grabbed the ceiling and pushed
himself to the back of the compartment as he explained. “e control
relays must have been severed by the blast.” He grabbed his space suit
from of the rack and hastily started putting it on. “I’m going to go
manually jettison the last container.” He used the handholds on the
ceiling to leave the cockpit.
I nodded. “Okay, good luck.” I activated the guns and pro-
grammed the computer to aim them. “I don’t know if our weapons are
going to make any diference against this thing but this is worth a try.”
Sheynin’s voice was full of desperation. “We must destroy that
ship, lest it attack our facility or report our location back to its mas-
ters.”
I was little annoyed. I was desperately trying to think of a way to
survive this confrontation and she was demanding I destroy an enemy
I knew nothing about with nearly no combat resources. Who did I
look like, John Sheridan? “e guns mounted on Arrc are made to
discourage raiders, not take out something like that . . . .” Our adver-
sary was already clearing the modules we had detached and gaining
on us. “Why haven’t they fred?”
Sheynin looked over my shoulder. “Perhaps their weapons are a
form of capacitor which must be charged before it is discharged.”
“Maybe we can use that. If we had anything to hit them with. . .
.” I keyed the radio to Lex’s spacesuit. “Lex, how are you coming with
module four?”
“I just got into place. I’ll override the relays in just a moment.”
“Okay, get everything set but do not release it until I say so, and
be ready to do it a moments notice.”
“Jeremiah, what are you doing?”
“Ezekiel, your mongoose gave me an idea. If we can avoid the
next set of shots from our friends I think I’ll have just enough time
to ram module four down their throats. It’s the same principle as the
mongoose fghting the cobra. ey’ll be toothless right after they fre .
. . hopefully. at will give me that one chance to ‘crush their head.’”
Right after I got Arrc. I made some modifcations to the
controls. I can fick a switch and all the thrusters on a side are slaved
together, so I can fy Arrc something like a Star Fury. is switch I
toggled right at that moment and while I was at it I doubled the fuel
pressure to those thrusters, placing them far above safe operational
levels. It was not a moment too soon because a second later the alien
ship fred again.
First I fred a far above maximum burst from the port and bot-
tom thrusters. is time Anne moved much more quickly that it had
the last time the enemy fred upon us. Several warning lights fashed
at me; I had blown out several docking thrusters. I then turned Arrc
back around and steered it right down the enemy’s throat. “Lex, we’re
going to be there in less than ffty seconds.” I pushed the main engines
the best I could. “Sheynin, go limp.”
I was using the fourth module as a very old fashioned weapon.
Twenty metric tons can make a very efective bludgeon. Just as we
were about to collide with nose of the enemy ship and I fred the top
thrusters. “Lex, now!” We ducked under the enemy ship’s path just as
the module detached. I closed my eyes and continued to accelerate
past the enemy as fast as I could. I almost blacked out from the force
of acceleration. A moment later a shockwave shook the ship.
I opened my eyes. “Well, do you think we got them?” I turned
and looked back to see that Sheynin was out cold. I certainly hoped
that I had not killed her. I spoke into the radio. “Lex, are you alright?”
I heard nothing in reply. I fred full breaking thrusters, and very slowly
Arrc started to decelerate. I examined the fuel gauges sadly. It looked
like I had used most of the fuel pulling my little mongoose stunt and
now we were leaking whatever we had left. Damage control was lit
up like a Christmas tree; the shockwave really took the last wind out
of Arrc’s sails. I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to bring it
to a full stop. e view camera was dead and the blast shutter was
locked shut, which probably indicated the cockpit window had been
compromised.
I release my restraint straps and turned towards Sheynin. I
reached out towards her and managed to get a frm grasp of her leg
and shook it. She violently kicked my hand of her leg and muttered
something at me in her language which I doubt was complimentary. I
held my hands up submissively and apologetically responded that: “I
was just checking to make sure you were alright.”
She looked at me suspiciously for a moment and relaxed. “I
apologize for my reaction.”
“I understand perfectly.” I started pulling myself to the back of
the compartment towards my own spacesuit. “I need to make sure Lex
made it.” Before I could make it there the compartment door opened
and Lex wearily pulled himself into the room. I helped him steady
himself and remove his helmet.
He looked pretty banged up but he must not have been hurt too
bad because he chuckled at me. “Who taught you how to drive?” I just
smiled and helped him back into his seat.
I pulled myself back into the pilot’s chair and activated our auto-
mated distress call. “ere is nothing to do but wait.” I slumped back
into my seat exhausted.
I am not sure how long I sat there, not quite asleep nor awake
when I was roused by a clanging on our hull. Lex and I looked at each
other, not sure whether we were being rescued . . . or worse. Our wor-
ries were for naught because a moment later a pair of male Minbari
dressed like Sheynin entered the cockpit. ey spoke with Sheynin
rapidly in her language and she responded in kind. ey seemed
satisfed with her response. ey towed Arrc back to their base and
recovered the surviving three cargo containers.
Uncharacteristically the Minbari explained what had happened.
ey told us of the great war of against the Shadows that the Minbari
fought a thousand years ago. e Shadows brought with them great
death, destruction and chaos in their wake. ey told us how back
then some races sided with and the Shadows just as alliances were
forged to resist them. When the Shadows were fnally defeated the
only way their allies could survive was to join them in hiding. e
Minbari’s greatest leader, Valen, prophesized that the Shadows would
return and that time was now upon us. Apparently some of their
agents from the past survived to return with them and that is what
we had just faced. We never were exactly sure which particular agent
I had managed to kill with my mongoose maneuver. I suspected that
what I had fought was a kind of automated probe but there was not
enough left to be sure.
e Minbari who rescued us had one other thing to tell Lex and
me: that they were the Ar|o’s|o|. the army of light made up of mem-
bers drawn from all castes of the Minbari, preparing to do battle with
the Shadows when they again make themselves known. Until then the
Ar|o’s|o| wait and watch, patrolling the rim and training for the com-
ing battle. is base where we were towed to was a training facility to
which we were delivering supplies. en they dropped the real bomb
– I could join them if I wanted. I had learned of the foe and destroyed
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one of their agents. ey judged me and Lex worthy of membership
in their number. We accepted their ofer without hesitation.
I stayed at the Ar|o’s|o|. or Ranger, training facility learning
Minbari fghting styles, how to fy their ships, how to use the Minbari
fghting pike and probably most importantly I learned the language of
the religious caste Auároroáo as well as certain parts of the Minbari
religion, specifcally those which explained and described the Shad-
ows.
Lex did not stay nearly as long as I did. He left soon after I
started training, using Arrc to smuggle Ranger operatives from place
to place. It was unfortunate but I never saw him face to face again. He
and Arrc disappeared shortly after the Shadow war began. Even in
his absence Lex’s infuence in my life is still strongly felt. Like him, I
have come to appreciate the full value of stories and I feel that as long
as I tell his story, he is still with us.
Amongst the Rangers I felt I had found my true purpose and
I threw myself into my new duties with a renewed vigor. My initial
resentment of the Minbari fed as I realized the war was as much a
tragedy for them as it was for us, because they needed us to fght the
coming Shadows and survive the coming darkness.
Among the human Rangers I became known as “e Mongoose”
I would like to think is because I have molded much of my fghting
style after these creatures, but I know the real reason is because of this
story which I must have told to every Ranger I have ever met.
Sheynin became my partner as we acted as scouts and spies for
the Army of Light. We had many great adventures as we served, and
I fatter myself that we made a diference is shaping the galaxy as it is
today.
But those adventures are another story.
Where the Heck is that Rat?
By Ricbard Bax, Jr. (rbax@structint.com)
Section 15: Where the Heck is that Rat? Copyright 2003, Rich-
ard L. Bax, Jr.
“For the love of ……IT’S A FRAGGIN FUNNY LOOKING
RAT!!!!” At this point the vein in Garibaldi’s forehead was throb-
bing like a badly tuned plasma conduit. Now normally I fnd these
moments highly entertaining, as I love twisting his tail when I can get
away with it. But in this case I was honestly confused and it seemed
a simple enough question. I really didn’t know what a mongoose
was. How in the world could a…uh…mongoose get into Garibaldi’s
hair…uh…scalp like that?
Generally, when Garibaldi’s looking for a favor he tracks me
down and starts dictating. At some point, usually about the point
when I get bored, I invariably make a wise crack comment and he
shifts to threats of bodily harm or how he’s going to make my life a
living hell. I especially like those moments because he makes it sound
just like he’s wishing you a nice day even as he describing his process
for ruining your life. It makes me feel…needed. But he almost never
resorts to yelling…well at least not this quickly. Obviously Garibaldi
was under some high level pressure. Not good. Not good for me.
By now Garibaldi had slipped into his permafrost mode, which
meant it was defnitely time for me to keep my mouth securely shut.
“Now I’m going to lay this out one more time Freddy and use small
words so you can keep up. Some brat of a Senator’s kid lost his pet
mongoose…his…funny looking rat. It was last seen running towards
downbelow. Now despite the fact that this fool of a fraggin Sena-
tor broke just about every customs and quarantine rule in the books
bringing his kid’s pet on the station, he’s decided to blame the Com-
mander for loosing it. But you know how this works. Commander
Sinclair’s is far to busy to deal with this stupid rat problem so now it’s
my problem and you know how busy I am. So now it’s your problem.
All you have to do is fnd the damn thing…ALIVE…in the next
three days and deliver it to me. Nothing could be simpler. Right?”
Figuring it was safe to answer this one I nodded in agreement.
“Sure Garibaldi. No problem…three days? You bet. I’ll fnd this…
funny looking rat and….”
Garibaldi raised his hand and I shut. “Fine…whatever…just…go.
And so help me Freddy, if you screw this up, I’ll come looking for
your ass and when I do I’ll…” By then he was out of earshot as I
hurried down the corridor. I couldn’t help but smile. Some things just
never change.
By now you’ve realized that my name is Freddy. Actually, most
call me Fast Freddy or Fixit Freddy if they need something or Fraggin
Freddy if I’ve done something they feel I shouldn’t have. I live in the
less reputable portion of Babylon 5 known as downbelow. Now I
know what you’re thinking. You think I’m one of those pitiful “lurk-
ers” ISN likes to do the occasional story about to make people like
you feel all superior. Well you can just stuf it. I don’t lurk and I’m not
pitiful. I just happen to live and work in downbelow. Yeah it can be
hard and if you don’t keep your wits about you it can be down right
lethal. But if I learned anything while in the Gropos it was how to
stay alert. Surprised you with that one, didn’t I? And you heard right.
I was ground-pounder. Even fought in the Earth-Minbari war, so I
know a thing or two about staying alive. at’s why Garibaldi throws
me the odd job every once and awhile. One vet to another.
Of course this was defnitely one of the odder jobs he’s ever
passed my way. Why bring a mongoose here? In space? Politicians
have got to be some of the weirdest people in the universe. Probably
a lawyer to boot. Chuckling at my own cleverness, I maneuvered my
way through brown sector towards green sector. Confused? It’s really
rather simple. e station is broken up into colored sectors. Brown
sector is mostly engineering and the low rent district better known
as downbelow. Interestingly, brown sector also happens to border
on green sector that houses most of the alien population. Not that
people of my position can happily mosey into green sector and say hi
to the neighbors. Of course, green sector has its own downbelow as it
were.
One of the more downwardly mobile areas of green sector is
populated by a race known as the Pak’ma’ra. You know…big squidy
looking things. No? How about their less pleasant name? e carrion
eaters. You see, before I waste one second of my obviously valuable
time looking for some funny looking rat I need to know if it’s even
dead or alive. And if anyone would know it would be the Pak’ma’ra.
Everyone in downbelow knows that Pak’ma’ra claim to have very
refned tastes. Go ahead and laugh. I did the frst time I heard it but
they pay good credits for anything new, diferent and…well…dead.
So if some funny looking rat carcass happened to appear in downbe-
low, someone would have already tried to sell it to them.
Dealing with the Pak’ma’ra can be tricky. ey are shrewd busi-
ness people. at and its hard to negotiate when you’re fghting not
to spew your lunch across their dinner table. And the smell! Did I
mention that they like their food nicely aged? And you wondered why
their area of green sector is downwardly mobile. All of the other races
would like to move them right out green sector. Heck, right out of
this sector of space.
But if I was going to bring this little search and rescue mission to
a successful conclusion I’d just have to skip lunch and bite the bullet.
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Speaking of which, I slipped my lucky bullet out of my pocket and
into my mouth. e taste helps with the nausea. And you thought
I was just being cliché. e stench was really starting to build as I
moved closer to the Pak’ma’ra section of green sector. is particular
area isn’t watched very well by security for obvious reasons and there’s
this bulkhead that isn’t nearly as solid as it frst appears. Following a
quick scan of the area I eased the panel open and slipped inside.
Fifteen gut wrenching minutes later, and I do mean gut wrench-
ing, I slipped back into brown sector. Seems my mongoose was alive
and scampering or least not aging on some Pak’ma’ra’s larder wall. Of
course that meant I was going to have to actually fnd the little bug-
ger. But where should I begin? I could hardly look in every nook and
cranny of this station. Searching all of brown sector alone would take
years. No, I had to play this smart and think frst. Do a little deduc-
tive reasoning before I acted. And nothing lubricates the thinking box
better than a tall frosty one, except maybe something smooth and
mellow. Of course down here I’d have to settle for something semi
liquid in form with a good deal of alcohol. An hour later, I was cool-
ing my heels at the “Happy Daze” while swilling my frst round and
pondering my latest Garibaldi special.
e key point to this little problem has got be the fact that this
mongoose is a pet of some little kid. at means it won’t have your
typical wild animal’s fear of people. In addition, since it has never had
to fend for itself when it starts getting hungry it will expect someone
to feed it. at obvious someone would be its owner, but barring that,
other humans. So all I have to do is be there when it gets hungry and
comes out of hiding.
Not a bad bit of deduction, and yet, something didn’t quite add
up. And then it hit me. It’s already been nearly a day since it…he…
her? Call it a he….where was I? Oh yeah. It’s already been most of a
day since he ran of. He’s already hungry. So he should have already
made an appearance and the logical place for him to do that would
be where he disappeared in the frst place. But that clearly hasn’t hap-
pened. How do I known? Simple. I know Garibaldi. And knowing
Mr. Garibaldi as I do, I know that his frst move would have been to
assign several security squads to sweep the local area and he’d have
made dang sure that they would have taken the time to look in every
nook and cranny. After that failed to turn up anything, Garibaldi
would have then left several troopers in the area with orders to keep
an eye out for the little runaway. And he’d have let that play itself out
for several hours before bothering to contact me which indicates they
must have come up zero. So why would our hungry little mongoose
leave the area? A better question is why would a kid’s pet run so far
away as to not be found by Garibaldi’s troops in the frst place? at
was a tough one and would need further liquid consideration.
Raising my hand, I called for another round. When it fnally
arrived, I mistakenly asked how things were going. e waiter/
bartender took my of-handed comment as an invitation to have a
seat and begin to bore me with the details of his sad little life. Obvi-
ously aware of my total lack of interest he quickly shifted to the latest
gossip. It was pretty standard fare. Stuf that I’d heard hundred’s of
times before. You know, the Vorlon ambassador eats people, other
people keep disappearing in the lower parts of Grey Sector, Na’Grath
got another con going…the usual. Bored to tears, I grunted at this last
one hoping to keep the guy on one subject long enough to keep my
brain from melting out of my ears. Besides, everyone in down below
likes to hear about Na’grath’s latest con. It’s how we downbelowers
like to feel superior to you.
Spurred by my grunt of interest, the bartender gets all coy and
lowers his voice, as if he’s letting me in on some big secret. Apparently
Na’Grath got some little racket going with some human big wig that
just arrived on station. I snort into my brew with heartfelt amusement
as the bartender fnally wanders of. I love when with Earth Alliance
big wigs get it in the….Earth Alliance big wig? As in, Earth Alliance
Senator? NO! ere’s no way. It’s a kid’s pet. Yeah it’s an Earth Alli-
ance Senator’s kid, but it’s just a pet. Yet I knew, with 100% certainty.
at mongoose didn’t just happen to escape, he was mongoose
napped!!!!!
I must have sat at that table for a good 10 minutes staring into
my now empty glass as I pondered that bit of realization. I mean
come on! Stealing from an Earth Alliance senator, on an Earth Al-
liance station, crawling with Earth Alliance soldiers! And stealing
a pet! at does not strike me as a reasonable way to make a living.
But then again, not all criminals are human and some might attribute
far more importance to pets than we humans. And when it comes
to alien criminals, Na’Grath is all that and more. He’s most certainly
alien, assuming you consider a human sized praying mantis alien
and he’s THE head honcho of the Babylon 5 crime syndicate. He’d
certainly have the reproductive organs to give this kind of caper a try.
Here’s another interesting tidbit. Na’Grath’s headquarters is
in the same area of green sector as where the mongoose frst went
missing. Now assuming Na’Grath did arrange to capture the little
critter, he won’t be able to keep it with him. Word on the street is
that Na’Gath’s species can’t breathe normal air and as a result, he has
to live in a series of special environment rooms. Besides, Na’Grath
would never risk having something incriminating close enough to
implicate him. No, he’d have to keep the mongoose somewhere with
a normal atmosphere while he made his ransom demands. Oh hell?
Garibaldi will love that. I’m surprised I can’t hear screaming even now.
Still, it’s tempting to call in Garibaldi and let him deal with it.
But I can already hear him complaining about the difculty he has
in enforcing Earth Alliance laws in the alien sector and how it’s my
problem now, so I should quit whining and cope. But it’s Na’Grath
for crying out loud. He’s made people disappear before and there’s
this ugly rumor he likes to watch people go space diving without a
spacesuits.
In the end, it’s an ego thing that stops me, from making the call,
a reputation thing. I’ve got one down here and it counts for allot, and
one thing you don’t do is go calling up the man when all you’ve got
is guess work and B.S. No, the right call here is to play this one out
on my own. Play it smart and cut the margin of risk but do it myself.
us bolstered I leave the Happy Daze and head out to pay a couple
of discrete calls on some of my more, ah, well informed acquaintances.
With luck they might be able to fnd out where Na’Grath has a
normal atmosphere safe house. Of course while they dig I’ll continue
to canvas downbelow and see if I hear anything about a funny looking
rat. Just in case my imagination’s got the better of me and run of with
my common sense.
Two days later, all I have to show for my eforts are sore feet and
an upset stomach resulting from another visit to the Pak’ma’ra. I’m
down to my last day and I’m starting to think that this has turned
into a colossal waste of time whose only result will be to buy me grief
from Garibaldi. As it is I’m dodging security guards left and right
assuming that in addition to trying to fnd the mongoose they’ll have
orders to escort one Freddy Jones to Chief of Security Garibaldi. My
precautions are confrmed a few hours later when word comes down
the line that Mr. Garibaldi is becoming rather impatient.
ings are looking a bit desperate when, fnally, my luck takes a
turn for the better. A certain friend I contacted earlier seems to have
caught a break. Turns out he’s found a place that one of Na’Grath’s
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goons has occasionally rented in the past. More importantly, this
particular goon just happened to rent the place again the same day
my mongoose went missing. Now isn’t that interesting? Being a frm
disbeliever of coincidence I head for the address given with the expec-
tation of performing a little reconnaissance.
It’s a non-descript little hallway with rows of access doors to the
low rent apartments behind. Actually it looks every other hall on the
station, a little grubbier than some, a little less than others. It’s in a
better are of brown sector and three hallways always from another of
those hidden accesses panels to green sector. Seems pretty obvious
why this place would be used as a safe house by Na’Grath. Close to
the boss so he can maintain some amount of control without being to
close to be a bother. Unfortunately, it’s a rather empty hallway right
now, which means I can’t just hang out and watch the place for a while
without sticking out like a sore thumb. Not that I ever really planned
on watching the front door. at’s for detectives in those silly crime
novels you law abiding citizens love to read. I’m more of an alternate
access watcher myself.
Specifcally, I’m more of ventilation duct watcher, which is
easier then you might think. Brown sector has its fair share of heavy
equipment and of course it’s adjacent to grey sector which has the
really heavy duty stuf. As a result, most compartments in these areas
are equipped with high output atmospheric systems to vent of any
escaped toxic vapors or other gas emissions which might occur during
an accident. Unlike green and blue sectors, security around the access
points to these air vent system is pretty basic. Generally little more
than an access card scanner at the heavily armored entry points. Now
if you’ve paid attention you know that one of my operating names
is Fixit Freddy. In order to fx things one must have access to areas
others cannot go. My access is currently provided by certain friend of
mine. Yes, another friend. No, I’m not going to bother telling you his
name. ey’re my friends and not yours if you get my drift. Anyway,
my friend owes me a favor or fve. It also happens that he’s a general
maintenance worker, and in payment, he’s provided me a copy of his
access card to maintenance only areas, like… air vent systems.
Two corners later I found the maintenance entry point and two
minutes later I was in. It’s a tight squeeze but doing my own funny
looking rat impersonation, I manage to wriggle my way down the vent
without waking the dead. By avoiding my more voyeuristic impulses,
I manage to fnd the right room in fairly short order. I’ll spare you the
details of the room. Sufce it to say, if you’ve seen one boring low rent
apartment then you’ve seen them all. But there in the corner, trapped
behind a crude cage of boxes and screen material is what must be a
mongoose…or a funny looking rat. He’s moving rapidly around the
limits of his cage clearly looking for a way out. Suddenly, he slinks
into a corner and curls up into a tight ball as his jailer enters the room
from what must be the bathroom.
You have to give Na’Grath credit. e goons he hires are con-
sistently big, mean and nasty. But then that’s the point. Who would
want to mess with something that is so clearly capable of ruining
your day? But they do come smarter and that’s where my best chance
lies. All I have to do is out think this particular brute and I’ll be on
my way with mongoose in hand and Garibaldi owing me yet another
favor.
I know what you’re thinking. Trip the fre alarm system and
when he runs out grab the mongoose. Good idea but the station com-
puter is far to smart to trip the fre suppression system without there
being a real fre. A distraction. I could create a distraction and when
his attention was diverted, grab the mongoose and bolt. A possibil-
ity, but remember my earlier comment on this particular individuals
level of brainpower. It’d take a fully loaded cargo lifter doing about 40
to even get his attention. Anything less probably won’t even get his
synapses fring. ere must be a way.
For the next hour I watch the brute sit and watch the vid. When
he isn’t sucking down container after container of some vile smelling
liquid, he’d occasionally throwing nuts of some kind into the cage,
though judging by the numerous nuts already scattered about the cage
the mongoose isn’t eating. And throughout that entire hour I wracked
my brains and tried to come with something simple and easy that did
not involve me going toe-to-toe with this wrecking ball or resulting in
him seeing my face. Well of course he couldn’t see my face. I have to
live here after this little favor is over and if Na’Grath knew it was me
who sprung the mongoose he’d make sure my remaining time on the
station would be brief and painful. One little mistake and I’m done.
So before I make one move, I need to have a good solid plan that
minimizes the risk, something clever.
And then fate stepped in. Well actually it was the dozen or so
beverages he’d consumed in the last hour. With a belch that set dust
falling about me in the duct he lumbered up out of his chair and
moved into the bathroom. Without thinking I pushed the screen
covering the duct out of the way. It landed in the room with a sur-
prisingly loud bang that set of a startled grunt from the bathroom.
Wriggling like a madman I managed to hurl myself from the vent and
across the room. With a hefty shove, I jammed a chair against the
door to the bathroom just as the handle began to turn. So much for
coming up with a clever plan. Within moments the door was rattling
with a furry of heavy blows. Realizing that the door would not last
long under that pounding I tore across the room and scooped up the
mongoose and stufed him into my jacket. A moment later I was in
the hallway and moving casually down the corridor.
At frst I forced myself to move randomly down one corridor
and then another. Had I moved directly out of the area someone
might have noticed, so by taking my time and moving in no obvious
direction I hoped I’d be overlooked. Of course this became progres-
sively more difcult as the mongoose inside my jacket struggled
harder and harder to get out. Finally I came to halt and tried to orient
myself. at I was still in green sector was obvious but where? A few
moments later I realized that I had actually traveled a fair distance
through green sector. In fact, at this rate I could be in blue sector in
another hour and in Garibaldi’s ofce soon after that. Feeling smug,
I decided to take a closer look at my prize and see just what exactly
a mongoose looked like. So I paused in an out of the way corner and
hauled him out from under my jacket. Whereupon he promptly bit
me right on the thumb and proceeded down my hand with the ef-
fciency and speed of a sewing machine.
e obvious result was me bellowing in pain and dropping the
ungrateful creature as I grabbed for my injured hand. is in turn
spawned a second bellow when it proceeded to scamper down the
corridor and around the corner. For a funny looking rat, that sucker
could really move. Within seconds I was pelting down the corridor
in hot pursuit. I lost ground rapidly and was barely managing to keep
up when I tore around the latest corner and slammed into a pair of
Centauri. All three of us went down in a tangle of arms, legs and
goofy looking hair.
“Which way did it go?” I yelled even desperately looking down
one corridor after another.
“e what?” was the somewhat shaky reply?
“e mongoose….my mongoose,” I cried.
“Your what?”
“Never mind” I replied hastily and stood.
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Unfortunately one of my new Centauri acquaintances rose with
me, “Now see here my good man, one can hardly come tearing around
bowling over nobles such as myself without facing the consequences.”
He paused then fnally noticing my shabby state of dress, “Are you
even supposed to be in this area? I think it time I called security.”
At that point the second Centauri managed a groan from his
still prone position and a dramatic shudder. “I…hate rats” he moaned.
Rat! Did he say rat!
“Where?” I coaxed as I scanned the corridors yet again.
“ere” was his weak reply and an unsteady hand pointed down
the second corridor. Even as I looked I caught a fash of brown fur at
the far end of the hall.
“ere!” I yelled triumphantly and pushed of in that direction.
Unfortunately, the frst Centauri grabbed me by the arm and
pulled me up short. “I don’t think so rufan. I think you’re going to
stay right here until security gets here.” He smiled coldly in that way
only Centauri can pull of. e smile lasted only a heartbeat before
I turned and let him have a right cross to the bridge of the nose fol-
lowed by knee in the gut. He went down like pile of dirty laundry.
Right across his still down companion, which incited another round
of pained groans.
Down the hall I few only skidding to a stop when I got to the
spot where I’d last seen him. A few moment of panic later I again
caught a fash of fast-moving fur. is pattern would be repeated far
too many times, and each time when I’d almost managed to convince
myself that I’d lost him, I’d see another fash of movement and the
chase would be on. Exhaustion was becoming a real problem when
it fnally reached my oxygen starved brain that I was gaining on him.
As I slowed to assess the situation I came to the realization that we
were now deep in blue sector, hell we were practically at the docking
bay. Ahead the mongoose was acting strangely. Its tail seemed to have
grown about 10 times bigger and he was moving in a slow then quick
slinking motion. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear he was stalking
something though for the moment I had no idea what.
At the next corner I again spotted the mongoose, only he
was much closer now. His tail was still pufed up big and just ahead of
him was a Drazi hurriedly moving down the corridor towards what I
now recognized was the passenger terminal of Babylon 5. I groaned
with the realization. If the mongoose made it into the terminal I’d
never be able to track him down among all the activity. And based
on the way mongoose’s attention was focused on that Drazi it was
clear that was exactly where he would end up unless I did something
fast. With little choice I started sprinting down the hall again. As the
Drazi passed into the terminal the mongoose paused at the entryway
opening the door for one last ditch efort. It was now or never and
with that I dove for him.
If only I had been a little quicker. Somehow managed to leap
just a bit further. Something. In short, I missed. e little weasel
leapt away just as my hands closed on where he had been a fraction
of second earlier. Worse, my momentum and the well-polished foors
of the passenger terminal left me skidding cross the foor and into the
middle of the terminal entryway. Only the fact that my face was gen-
erating sufcient friction with the foor did I manage to fnally come
to a stop. Muttering darkly, I lifted my face only to notice 4 pairs of
shoes standing around my head. One pair was all swank leather, while
the second pair was similarly shod was much smaller. Worst of all
were the other two pairs of shoes that were clearly Earthforce issue.
Looking up was like a nightmare for there was Chief of Security
Garibaldi glaring down at me and beside him was…could it get any
worse…Station Commander Sinclair. I groaned and buried my face
back into the deck plates. Could anything else possible go wrong?
“RIKKI!!!! Oh RIKKI. I’m so glad you’ve come home. I’ve been
so worried! You’ve been a very bad mongoose! And why were you
chasing that poor Drazi? Bad mongoose!” Looking up once again I
realized the small pair of shoes belonged to a little girl who was even
now hugging the agitated mongoose to her chest. A huge smile of
relief was obvious to see.
“Rikki was chasing a Drazi honey?” said the well dress man who
leaned down beside her.
“Yes.” replied the little girl, who then unabashedly pointed at the
same Drazi I had seen earlier who was now waiting in line to board
his shuttle. “at one right there.”
“I see,” replied her father who looked over at Sinclair for some
clarifcation.
Commander Sinclair glanced at Garibaldi briefy and then down
at me. Garibaldi responded by grabbing me by the collar and yanking
me to my feet. Sinclair stepped between me and what had to be the
big wig Earth Alliance Senator and nodded towards the Drazi, “Rep-
resentative Nag? I doubt he was even aware he was being stalked by
Rikki-tikki-tavi here.” Sinclair nodded at the mongoose that contin-
ued to wriggle in the girl’s frm grasp.
“at not his name!” complained the girl.
“Its not?’ replied Sinclair.
“No. It’s Ricky Speed. You know. He’s the famous rock star. He’s
so dreamy.”
Sinclair responded with a frown, “I see.” en turning back to the
Senator he reached out and shook hands, “Well, in any case, every-
thing worked out in the end. I hope to see you again Senator and have
a safe trip home.” e Senator nodded and then herded his daughter
and wayward mongoose towards the shuttle gates.
“Rikki-tikki-tavi?” mused Garibaldi.
“Certainly Mr. Garibaldi,” smiled Sinclair, “you need to read your
Kipling.” At which point, smiling smugly, he exited the room.
Unfortunately that left me to face the music with Garibaldi.
Unexpectedly, Garibaldi was actually smiling, which only made me
more nervous. “Freddy, Freddy, Freddy. After that little entrance you
just made I’m not sure what to do with you.”
I shrugged apologetically and stammered out, “It’s not my fault
Garibaldi. I’ve been chasing that stupid thing across half the station.
I wasn’t going to hurt it. Honest. I was trying to catch it. You gotta
believe me.”
At this point Garibaldi was practically shuddering as he tried to
contain his laughter, “It’s… it’s OK Freddy. I believe you. Of course I’d
have preferred a much less dramatic presentation of the silly thing but
the important thing is you got the job done.” He paused and eyed me
closely, “I owe you one.”
I smiled for the frst time in what felt like forever, “I think it
should be two. You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through trying to
get that… funny looking rat of yours back.”
Garibaldi responded by throwing an arm over my shoulder and
aiming us both back into the station, “Tell you what, lets go grab some
food and you can tell me all about it, my treat.”
Headed out of the passenger terminal, I shook my head in
amazement with the realization that I’d somehow managed to come
out of this unscathed. Better still I had a favor coming from Garibaldi
and that was no small thing. All things considered my little adventure
had turned out about as well as it possibly could.
“Uh Freddy…?”
“Yeah Garibaldi.”
“You wouldn’t happen to known anything about a Lurker who
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beat up a pair of Centauri nobles earlier today in green sector would
you?”
I turned to Garibaldi and innocently replied, “Haven’t a clue Mr.
Garibaldi.”
Birth of a Dream
By Derek Jobnston (derek.jobnston1@ntlworld.com)
Section 15: Birth of a Dream Copyright 2003, Derek Johnston
e Babylon Project was a dream given form, or so they say.
Well, I was there at the birth of that dream, or, rather, at the start of
its realization. And I won’t be surprised if you don’t believe me when I
say that it was all thanks to a centuries-old story, and a mongoose.
Let me begin properly by introducing myself. My name is
omas Jackson, and I was a Captain in Earth Force. At the start of
the Earth-Minbari War, I commanded the EAS lurácrc|:|á. We
saw action exactly once, and my ship met its death from the fre of
Minbari fghters that took it apart piece by piece. Our analysts say
that they were probably taking the opportunity to fnd out how much
of one of our ships they could destroy without destroying it outright.
All I know is, whatever led the Minbari commander to take us apart
like that, it saved the lives of most of my crew. In any other engage-
ment, at any other time, we’d have been sliced apart by one of their
great cutting beams, like so many other Earth Force ships. But we
were lucky. As far as luck went in that war.
We spent most of the rest of the War on the colony of New
Providence, which we had been orbiting when the Minbari attacked
us. I led the surviving members of my crew in guerilla warfare against
the occupying Minbari forces. Our intelligence suggested that the
Minbari were avoiding non-military targets in their push for Earth;
we guessed that they thought that they could come back and wipe out
the rest of the human race more easily once the fghters were gone. Or
maybe it was some sense of honor on behalf of their Warrior Caste.
Don’t ask me; by the end of the War, I probably had more direct ex-
perience with the Minbari than just about anyone else in Earth Force,
and now I’m working alongside them, but I still do not understand
them.
I mean, that planet should have been nothing to them. Our colo-
ny had been there a couple of years, so it was barely established, only
a few thousand people. It wasn’t on a major trade route, and it had
no real strategic value. ere wasn’t even any sort of defense network
in place, not even in-system fghters. But they occupied that planet
and held onto it until the surrender at the Line, and all because of an
old Minbari woman who was the toughest fghter I’ve ever met, and
some ancient tunnels with carvings depicting a war that happened a
thousand years ago, a war in which the Minbari played some part.
Now, I have studied history, and I have a great respect for what it
can teach us, but I still cannot understand why the Minbari leader-
ship devoted all the resources necessary to establish and maintain a
garrison because of these carvings. Anla’shok Jokari told me that I
might come to understand the importance of those carvings, but that,
if I did, I would wish that I did not.
I hate it when people talk to me in riddles like that.
Anyway, as you can maybe tell, after a while we ceased our
hostilities towards the Minbari, in the interests of survival. I defy
anyone to do otherwise, when your enemy is more than willing to
massacre innocents to gain your compliance. Besides, I had come to
respect Anla’shok Jokari, possibly more than some of the Minbari
ofcers, and allowed her to convince me that co-operation was the
best way to secure our survival. After all, as far as we knew, we were
the only humans left alive, and I just didn’t feel comfortable condemn-
ing the human race to extinction without at least conferring with the
noncombatants.
And so the War passed for us. A couple of times, the Minbari
allowed alien traders to begin trade with New Providence, supplying
items that the colony couldn’t provide for itself. Mainly, it was a Cen-
tauri called Vantari, but there were a couple of Brakiri as well, maybe
some others. But I got to speak to Vantari and the Brakiri a few times.
Vantari even seemed ready to help a few of us of-planet at times, but
I could never fgure out a way of confrming this, or of putting that
plan into action. But the traders were our only real source of outside
information, and, even then, they were not well informed regarding
what was happening to the Earth Alliance, beyond the fact that it
was losing. We’d hear of scattered groups of humans, crew of trading
ships, private explorers, IPX teams, travellers, but we were the only
concentration of human life that they knew of.
en, one day, the Minbari were gone.
We didn’t know what had happened for a while. And then the
IPX ship arrived. ey distributed some relief supplies, and sent a
message to Earth Force for me. And the Brakiri turned up again with
more supplies, but they were driving a hard bargain now, and the
colony didn’t have much to bargain with, and they still weren’t taking
my
promises of repayment from Earth Force as credit. en, a
couple of months later, the Mcrc|oos arrived to take us home; those of
the lurácrc|:|á’s crew that remained, anyway.
On the way, we were told about the surprise of the Minbari
surrender at the Line. And we tried to explain everything that had
happened to us on New Providence. Frankly, I think our data just
provided even more confusion for the backroom boys back home.
Anyway, once we were back at Earth, the crew were scattered.
ere was a lot of work to be done rebuilding the feet, re-contacting
Earth colonies, re-establishing diplomatic links and security, all the
things that have to take place after a War, even if you’re the winner.
Not that it felt like we’d won. In fact, like lots of other people, I was
pretty much just waiting for the Minbari to turn around and wipe us
out, like this was all some huge joke. We felt like our doom had been
delayed, postponed, not diverted, not changed. Maybe that’ll help you
understand why lots of us veterans still don’t feel comfy around the
Minbari.
Well, I spent some time working at the shipyards in the Solar
System, managing the new-build projects to rebuild the feet and de-
velop new designs. It was a bit of a mish-mash of a job, to be honest,
but it kept me busy. And, frankly, there wasn’t a ship available for me.
And it gave me time to think. I had seen the Minbari do some
pretty brutal things during the War, like the ofcer who had calmly
bashed out a civilian’s brains with one of those steel staves of theirs
because the poor guy had charged at him in desperation. But I also
knew that we had done some pretty bad things in our fnal scrabbling
for survival. And those things had changed Earth Force. Not all of it,
but now there was a strong element who believed that Earth had to
remain strong in case it was attacked again, and they didn’t much care
where that strength came from. ey came to me a couple of times,
feeling me out, but I made it clear that I had my morals and that there
were things that I would not contemplate, that I still believed that
there were situations where death was preferable. What they’re doing
now, I don’t know, but I fear that their actions will have dire conse-
quences for the Alliance some day.
So I took some time of, to go back to Earth, back to my family.
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Getting there took me to Prosperity Station, from which I was sched-
uled to take a shuttle down to Addis Ababa. While I was waiting, I
went to the lounge, to look out onto the stars and the planet below. It
tends to surprise civilians, but you don’t actually see much of the stars
from the bridge of an Earth Force cruiser, and that little porthole in
my quarters? Nothing much to write home about. Besides, the spin
of the station provided a light sense of gravity on the outer rim, and
anything to help me adjust back to gravity was a good thing.
e lounge was busy with Earth Force personnel, suits and a
handful of others traveling through. I spotted a seat at a table by a
port and made my way over. ere was someone already sitting at
the table, a tall man in a traditional African robe and pillbox hat, a
distinguished looking man whose skin was even darker than mine,
more ebony than
mahogany, if you like.
I asked if I could sit down, and, at his nod, slid into the chair,
placing my squeeze-bottle of drink in the table clips before me. Re-
member, I said the station only had a light sense of gravity. We sat in
silence for a while, just looking out into space as the view rotated from
the stars to Earth and back around again. After a while, I realized that
the man had turned to look at me. I returned his gaze levelly.
“Please forgive me,” he said, his accent West African, I’d guess.
“Have I possibly seen your face before?”
“I doubt it. My name’s omas Jackson. I’m a Captain in Earth
Force.” I held out my hand to him. Grinning, he shook it.
“My name is Calvin Natawe. Pleased to meet you.”
“Have you worked out where you think you know me from, Mr.
Natawe?”
“No, Captain. But maybe you can help me. Have you had much
contact with the other races in your time with Earth Force?”
I shook my head at frst, but then reconsidered. “Actually, Mr
Natawe, come to think of it, I’ve probably had a fair bit more contact
than a lot of other Earth Force personnel. But there will be others
who’ve had more than me. Why? What do you want to know?”
He smiled politely. “Have you had any personal dealings with the
Minbari?”
I tensed, I don’t mind admitting that. And Natawe noticed. “I’ve
dealt with the Minbari. at’s one alien that I probably have more
experience with than most others. I don’t know if it means anything
to you, but I was on New Providence.”
Natawe simply nodded. “en that will be where I know you
from, Captain. I have an interest in cases like that of New Providence,
where diferent races lived together.”
“Not through any particular desire on our part!” I immediately
regretted the way that I had bitten of the retort, but Natawe didn’t
seem bothered.
“Maybe not, Captain, but that just makes it all the more interest-
ing. Because, ultimately, it did work, didn’t it?”
I hated to admit it, but I was man enough to do so. “Yes, it
worked, after a fashion.”
“en maybe you can help me.” Natawe paused a moment,
studying me, with a faint smile on his lips, before he asked, “Are the
Minbari muskrats, rats, tailor birds, cobras or mongooses?”
“I ... I beg your pardon?” Needless to say, I was deeply puzzled by
this question.
Natawe laughed. I must say this: that all the time that I knew
him, he was always ready to fnd the joy in things, to laugh and smile,
even when times were at their darkest. I think that it was his strength.
ough, frankly, there were times when it irritated the hell out
of me.
“Are you familiar with the works of Rudyard Kipling, Captain?”
“e Nineteenth Century British imperialist writer?”
“at’s one way of seeing him, Captain, although not entirely
correct. As a writer, he had many sympathies with the native people
that he wrote about as well as the British colonialists. In fact, I would
say that he was more in sympathy with people than with any particu-
lar politics.”
I shrugged, “What of him?”
“He wrote a story called ‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’, about a small mon-
goose who defeats the dread cobra Nag and his mate and thereby
saves a family from the snakes. But he only accomplishes this with
help from a rat, a muskrat and a tailor bird.”
“And what does this have to do with the Minbari?”
“Well, Captain, I suggest that you read the story, and think about
it, and see what you think. In the meantime, I’m afraid that I have
to leave; my shuttle to Geneva is due to depart. When you have an
answer, let me know.”
As he said this, Natawe stood, carefully in the low pseudo-grav-
ity. He held out his hand for me to grasp; I did so, and felt a slip of
plastic in his hand. I looked at it: a business card, with the picture and
name of Senator Calvin Natawe, President of Nigeria and member of
the Earth Senate. By the time I had absorbed this, and looked up to
say something to him, he had slipped gracefully away.
I had accumulated plenty of leave to take, and so, after having
spent some time with my parents in Addis Ababa, I then went to
visit my Uncle omas back in Missouri. Hell, I’d been named after
him, and he’d been the one who started me learning blues guitar, and
I needed to get back into practice, so I reckoned it would be time well
spent.
It’s strange how people become locked in a little stasis bubble of
time while we’re away from them. Our memories hold them as we
last saw them, and we don’t consider how they might have aged. But
Uncle had aged, and aged badly. He wasn’t the man who had taught
me the blues, who had bought me my frst guitar, who had taken my
in when I went to the Earth Force Academy in the States. He was an
old, frail man who needed a stick to walk, who seemed to spend a lot
of time to sleep, and who needed looking after far more than he could
look after me.
We talked, or, rather, I talked. He liked to listen to me, and it
turned out that that was what I needed. I mean, it wasn’t like my
parents and I hadn’t talked when I visited them, but somehow there
was a lot more to talk about than my feelings of unease about my cho-
sen career. In the face of Uncle’s fading, my mid-life crisis should have
been unimportant. But, somehow, he just helped me to put everything
in focus. With nothing else to talk about, with so little reaction from
him, all I really had to talk about was me.
And when I didn’t feel like talking about me, I would read. e
music that had meant so much to us didn’t seem appropriate some-
how, and I’d never been a big reader of fction, so I didn’t know where
to start when it came to fnding something to read to Uncle. Which is
when I fnally got around to reading “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”.
e story was a little strange to me, but I understood it. e
human part of it wasn’t important beyond providing a world for the
animal characters to interact in. At least, that’s how I read it that time.
When I had fnished reading, I looked at Uncle in his comfortable
chair by the doors out to the balcony, and he looked at me and smiled.
I settled back and took a sip of my drink, then looked back to the ter-
minal on my lap into which I had downloaded the story and skimmed
through it again.
After a time, Uncle swallowed and asked, his voice frail and
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quiet, “is story mean something to you, omas?”
“I don’t know, Uncle,” I replied, honestly. “I mean, it’s just a kid’s
story, about bravery, but then it’s more than that. Isn’t it?”
“I guess so,” Uncle wheezed.
“Rikki, the mongoose, he couldn’t have done what he did without
help from the tailor birds. And he needed the information from the
muskrat, who got it from the rat. Without their co-operation, pooling
their knowledge and skills, the cobras would have won.”
Uncle nodded his head slowly over his two hands clasped on the
top of his walking stick.
“Guess so.”
I glanced through the story again, but I already thought I knew
what Natawe had been getting at. Now I had to decide on an answer.
Once I had helped Uncle’s nurse, Marion, get him to bed, I went to
the comms terminal in his sitting room and recorded a message to be
delivered to Senator Natawe’s ofce. It read, “Who are the cobras?”
e following day I had a reply. All that said was, “Come to
Geneva.”
I went to Uncle’s room and told him about the message. He
nodded to me from his chair sitting looking out of the window. I
remember that he was still in his pajamas, a ratty old robe wrapped
around him, his hands resting on that damned cane of his.
“Guess you’re going to leave, then?”
“I guess so,” I replied. “I think I just need to fnd out what this
Senator means when he talks about this story and the Minbari.”
“Damned expensive way of fnding out, if you ask me. Can’t you
use the EarthComm like everyone else!” But Uncle smiled at me as he
wheezed after this exertion.
“I couldn’t sleep too well last night,” he continued after a mo-
ment. “Seems like you can’t when you get to my age. Patterns all
messed up. Sleep in the day; awake at night.”
He paused for breath again. ere was a sparkle in his eyes,
though he did look tired. Marion hadn’t shaved him this morning,
and I could see the white hairs haloing his chin as the light from the
window shone through them. And I realized that the way that age
had crept up on Uncle meant that age had crept up on me as well, and
that I needed to get myself and my life into order. I guess that that
was the moment that really confrmed to me that I had to follow up
with Natawe, whatever followed on from that.
Uncle gathered his breath and continued. “Anyways, I got to
thinking about your mongoose. Seems to me that he never gave
up; that was one of his strengths, ‘longside listening to other folks,
no matter what he thought of them. Don’t give up on your dreams,
omas. Don’t give up on hope. Sometimes, it’s all we have.” He
smiled, “Blues taught me that. But sometimes, hope, dreams, ‘s all we
need.”
I left him there, sitting in the sun, looking out over the street,
watching people going about their lives like an old Spanish don
observing his people’s industry with approval. He died three months
later, but we spoke one more time and exchanged a couple of letters. I
learned that he was happy with his life, proud of me, and hoping that
he’d be prouder still with whatever I went on to. And he mentioned
other things to me, things to make me think again and again about
the relevance of the story that brought together the talents of mon-
goose, tailor bird, muskrat and rat. He mentioned names and
events, Dr Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, de Klerk ...
people with dreams, hopes, or simply pragmatism, who helped to
bring the people of Earth closer together, despite any superfcial
outward diferences.
But that was to come.
I met Senator Natawe in a terrace restaurant at the Senate
House, overlooking Lake Geneva. We each ordered a light lunch and
then, once the waiter had left us, I asked the frst question.
“So, Senator, which do you think the Minbari are: mongoose?
tailor
bird? muskrat? rat?”
He laughed, then leaned across the table towards me.
“You know, Captain -”
“Jackson,” I interrupted. “I prefer to just be called Jackson.”
He accepted this with an inclination of his head, and carried on.
“Well,
Jackson, you know that there really is no answer to that question.
A metaphor is a metaphor, not the thing itself.” He leaned back in
his chair, then cocked his head to one side and smiled again. “On the
other hand, I would say that, for this time at least, the Minbari are the
rat. If you remember, the rat knows something, but does not directly
tell Rikki-Tikki-Tavi; in fact, we never see the rat directly, only hear
about it through the muskrat. But it is important, for without the rat
knowing where the cobras had laid their eggs, Rikki-Tiki-Tavi could
never have sought them out and destroyed them. Similarly, we know
little about the Minbari, and most of that is hearsay. ey remain a
mysterious race, rarely telling us anything directly, but we learn some
of what they know through the other races, through little tidbits of
indirect communication. And I believe that they know things about
the universe that we will need to know, and that will fall to us to act
upon. ey are an ancient race, though powerful, and they have with-
drawn within themselves, as if their scope were diminishing in old
age. But they will still come out of their homes when provoked by the
actions of those younger and less experienced than themselves.”
“So, Jackson,” and his gaze was level and serious now as it met
mine, “what do you think? And what do you think I plan to do about
it?”
I shook my head, sipped from my drink, eased myself back in my
chair, and looked out at the yachts on the lake. But I couldn’t avoid
answering, in the end.
“I think that you may be right, Senator. Of course there’s no
direct mapping, but the tailor bird? Why, to me, that’s the Centauri,
loud, displaying, but nervous, able to take part in the fght where nec-
essary, but not the main combatant. e Narn aren’t quite the musk-
rat, because they have their own bravery and are more than willing
to fght on their terms, but they do seem to sneak around the edge of
galactic politics, providing information and resources here and there.
“e Minbari? ree years ago I’d have said that they were Nag
and Nagaina, the cobras.” Natawe frowned at this, but I carried on:
I had to explain myself now, regardless of what he had expected or
wanted to hear. “ey were dangerous, they were invading our terri-
tory, we had to root them out and destroy them. But I guess that that
is what we were doing, that that was how they saw us. Because we
always cast ourselves as the hero, Senator, but maybe we’re not the
mongoose after all.”
Natawe nodded at this, obviously thinking. A gesture of his hand
indicated that I should continue. I took another sip of my drink, buy-
ing myself time to put my thoughts into words, then continued.
“You want to make us the mongoose, Senator. You want us to
be the center of some sort of alliance between the races, pooling our
diferent strengths to make us stronger as a unit. But I don’t see that
happening. Because, you know what? It’s just like you said: metaphors
are just metaphors. We’re not the mongoose, or the muskrat or the rat
or the tailor bird, and the Minbari aren’t the cobras, and nor is anyone
else you may be worried about. We are humans. ey are Minbari, or
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Centauri, or Narn, or Drazi, or whatever. We are diferent.
“But it’s a great dream, Senator, and one that I would like to be a
part of. I just don’t see it happening.”
Natawe nodded sagely, and contemplated the table for a moment.
Our food arrived at that time, and I automatically reached for
my fork, but I found that I didn’t have the appetite to do much apart
from move my pasta around the bowl.
“I can’t deny that you have a point, Jackson,” Natawe fnally
responded, his voice clear and quiet now, serious. It made me stop
shufing my pasta around, put down my fork and listen. “But I think
that it can work. I do not expect all of the species to suddenly join to-
gether in glorious harmony. It took centuries, millennia for us to reach
the level of togetherness that we currently have on Earth, and we still
have a long way to go before we can really consider ourselves as one.
But I think that we can make a start.
“In fact, I think that it’s happening already. I’ve seen it myself on
some of our trading stations. When it comes down to it, when hu-
mans and aliens have to live together day after day, depending on each
other for trade, news, survival even, then they begin to forget their
diferences. Not completely, not at all, but they do one very important
thing: they communicate. ey have to. And so, like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
listening to the tailor birds, or the muskrat, they learn, and they work
together, consciously or not.
“at is my dream, Jackson. Not everyone together in harmony,
although that is certainly a dream that I have. But my realistic dream,
because I truly believe it can be achieved, is of a place where we can
begin to talk, where we can begin to learn to live together. I want to
create that place. And I want you to help me.”
I didn’t know what to say. I had fip-fopped between various
states of mind on my way over to Geneva. I had wanted to believe
that we were the brave mongoose, aided by alien friends of varying
degrees of ability. And I had also realized that that was just a story, a
dream, and not one that was achievable. And now it appeared that I
had been looking too much at the big picture, and that Natawe had
pinned down the essence of the thing that allowed us to hope that we
could make something of the dream come true.
“What do you plan to do, Senator? Start a sort of interplanetary
parliament for all of the alien races? Some sort of shared colony?
I think that you’re right, that I underestimated you, that there is
something practical that can be done, but I’m not sure what, and I’m
not sure how I can help. I’m only an Earth Force ship’s captain, not a
diplomat.”
Natawe’s face broke into a smile again, and somehow that reas-
sured me. “No, not a parliament, Jackson. We cannot readily force
people to talk without breeding resentment. We have to create a place
where they have to talk just to continue from day to day. And when
they are talking every day, that is when they will start to talk about
the serious things, the things that really matter. And that’s not bound-
aries and treaties and politics, but the things that we have in common
and the diferences that we can learn from and beneft from.
“But all that has to come naturally. We just have to provide the
place. A colony is more like it, but people have to have a reason to live
together, and I do not see a government-mandated colony as a good
enough reason. Besides, what government would give up claim on an
entire planet that it could use itself?”
“Okay, not a planet. What then?”
“Do you not have any ideas? What have you seen that has
brought people of diferent races together best?”
I thought about this for a while, chewed a couple of mouthfuls of
pasta, but that didn’t really help me think. en I remembered.
“Mokata Station. It was a Drazi outpost, but it wasn’t of any
real strategic interest, and it was pretty much devoted to trade. We
stopped over there on our way back from New Providence; it was be-
ing used as some sort of staging post, so there was a fair Earth
Force presence; I think that we’d rented some of the station from
the Drazi. e place was old and falling apart, and there wasn’t much
in the way of real government there, but there were Drazi and Brakiri
and humans, some Centauri and Narn from time to time, Pak’mara
... a whole load of races, and some of them there at least semiperma-
nently.
And there were fghts, and people kind of kept to their own, but
that was never entirely possible, because there was always somebody
else that you needed to deal with to get what you needed: work,
repairs, rooms, food, whatever.”
Natawe nodded. “at’s the idea I needed! A trading post, and a
diplomatic station. Open to all races, and with all races to take a hand
in the running of the place, interdependent. And it will be a space
station, with nowhere to run to escape your alien cohabitants, with
everyone needing each other for the whole to function.”
I laughed, “I thought you wanted this to be organic! Not to force
the diplomats into talking.”
He grinned that huge grin.
“Well, I think it maybe worthwhile to give them a little push,
don’t you?”
We laughed together, then I asked, “Alright, I like the idea. Now,
where do I ft in, or did you just want a sounding board?”
“Oh, no. I’ll need a lot of people to help me with this, if it gets of
the ground. You have contacts in Earth Force, and you have experi-
ence with aliens, and with the bureaucracy of Earth Force, and with
construction contracts. I hope that this will not become a military
project, but I don’t see how there can be no involvement from them.
at is where I will need your skills.
“But frst, I must present this to the Senate. And I will need a lot
of help preparing my case, researching examples of such communi-
ties where they may already exist, and helping with costings and all of
that. So, Jackson, can I ofer you a job?”
I smiled ruefully, picked up my glass and said, “You certainly
can!”
Natawe grinned at me in return, lifted his glass and replied,
“en I will!”
Our glasses clinked together in agreement.
And that is how the Babylon Project really started. Or, at least,
where I became involved with it. And it’s taken us a few years to get
where we are, but now construction’s under way on our new, best
hope for lasting peace in the galaxy. And to think that the idea for
this huge chunk of spinning metal all stemmed from a story about a
mongoose.
The Keepers of the Dead
By Jon Acbeson (acbeson@rcn.com)
Section 15: e Keepers of the Dead Copyright 2003, Jon Ache-
son
e starship hung in orbit like an eagle or a vulture, wings
spread, surveying the planet below. Its name was sketched out on the
upper hull in patches of aging paint: Morgoosc. ere had once been
an insignia as well, but Morgoosc was all that remained.
Once, the planet’s name had been spoken in the language of its
native race, but the Marcab race had fallen silent, the victims of the
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Drafa plague, a virulent disease which had spread to all areas of the
homeworld and its colonies ofworlds before striking down those
infected. e Markab homeworld was all that remained of them,
its atmosphere streaked with the soot of colossal pyres marking the
gravesites of entire cities, the smoke still rising months after the onset
of destruction.
“e ash-heap of history,” thought Captain Paul Wells grimly as
he stared out at the sight through a small porthole in the wall of the
bridge. Wells was a big man, burly but trim for his ffty years. Like the
rest of his crew, he was dressed in functional coveralls of an Earth-
force make. He wore his graying hair close-cropped over his blocky
skull, his face clean-shaven. It was a face that the years had tempered
to a sound and clear-cut fastness.
He pushed away from the porthole gently, foating backwards,
weightless, across the short span between the window and his com-
mand chair. e bridge was a small utilitarian space, lit with a low
amber light, humming with instrumentation, crowded with consoles
and acceleration couches, its walls covered in readouts and access pan-
els. e captain’s command chair dominated the center of the room,
hanging on a powered arm from a track in the ceiling, so that it could
move about the bridge under acceleration.
Reaching his chair, Wells grabbed a handhold mounted on the
overhead arm and turned himself to address the fight crew. “Is there
any sign of that landing beacon yet?”
“Sir, we should be coming around the planet onto it shortly.” re-
plied Lt. Robert Eckstine, his second in command, glancing up briefy
from the console at the copilot’s position. Eckstine was a younger
brush-haired man with a narrow long-nosed face and lucid eyes.
“Keep me informed, Lieutenant. I’ll check in with Pat on the
shuttle.”
“Aye aye, sir.”
Wells swung himself away from his chair and around behind it
to the exit, fngers automatically fnding the button to open the door.
It was much less trouble to have powered doors in microgravity.
Using the handrails by the door, he pulled himself into the
corridor, past the entrances to the crewmens’ berths. e contours
of the walls and ceiling made it easy to propel himself along, as they
provided a constant series of handholds and footholds. Along the
right edge of the foor, a run of cables was fastened down out of the
way with silver repair tape.
At the end of the corridor, it opened up into the mess area, one
of the main gathering areas for the crew of eight. He could hear voices
raised in friendly discussion. It sounded like Carson again, making
his usual case for the intelligent design of the universe. As he entered
the mess area, he could see Carson, Eliot and Philips seated around a
table, hashing out the argument for the umpteenth time.
“For instance, the Goran system has two habitable planets in the
same orbit, exactly opposite each other. Do you know what the odds
are of that?”
As he passed, he commented, “In the Goran system, Mr. Carson,
the odds are one in one.” He liked Carson, and agreed with him on
several points, but Carson didn’t know when to quit: to him victory
was always just one more arguing point away. It was best to gently
rein him in from time to time. As he departed out the other side of
the mess area, he heard the other crewman snickering over Carson’s
protests.
Drifting down a ladder, he moved forward through a storage
bay to reach the shuttle hanger. It was, after the engine compartment,
the largest room in the ship, but the huge wedge of the shuttle flled
it, looming up overhead on its landing gear and eclipsing the ceiling
lights. Its three immense rocket nozzles were big enough for a man to
climb into, framed by thrust-vectoring faps like barn doors. e smell
of the place triggered memories of every garage he had ever been in. A
compressor whine pierced the air, and a subtle vibration ran through
the foor like electricity.
He moved forward to where Pat Francona, the ship’s engineer,
was peering up into the nose gear wheel-well with a fashlight. Fran-
cona was a small-framed man with a Roman nose and stringy brown
hair that poked out from around his rumpled mechanic’s cap. As
Wells approached, he nodded and switched of his fashlight.
“Is G|oáys ready to go?” Wells called out over the mechanical
noise.
“She’ll fy.” he drawled with an easy confdence, “I was just
double-checking the hydraulics, is all.”
“Any problems?”
“None at all. Still, you’ve got to check. Captain, I give the old girl
a clean bill of health.”
“anks, Pat,” he replied, “I- hold on,” he said, as the comm link
on the back of his left hand beeped. He spoke into it and held the
link up to his ear. He nodded, then dropped his link hand to his side.
“at was Eckstine, we’ve picked up the landing beacon. Clear the bay
for drop, Pat.”
“Aye, aye.”
Returning back up through the ladder well, he headed through
the mess area again, passing Carson, who was already headed for the
ladder with his gear.
“ank you, Mr. Carson!”
“Yessir!”
He headed forward into the hallway to the crewmans’ berths,
where two tiers of half-height doors were set into the wall. Rapping
on one door with his right hand, he called out “Mr. Hedges!”
e door slid up to reveal Hedges’ tiny quarters, 1.3 meters wide,
1.3 meters high, and just deep enough for a mattress and some lock-
ers. Hedges blinked out at Wells through hooded, uncomprehending
eyes, looking as usual like he’d just woken up. Around him, his bunk-
space seemed to have been decorated by some kind of pornographic
cargo cult.
“Mr Hedges, I need you and Mr. Eliot in the shuttle bay with
your gear in fve minutes.”
Hedges winced. “Yes, sir.”
“Very good.”
Wells continued on to the bridge. As he came through the
doorway, Eckstine called out “I’ve sent the coordinates down to the
shuttle.”
“Excellent. We’re headed down now. You have the command.”
“Yes, sir. Stay careful, sir.”
“Roger that.” He left through the doorway, and typed a combi-
nation into the keypad of the frst door on the right. It slid open to
reveal his quarters, which were four times the size of the crew’s quar-
ters, making them luxurious by Morgoosc standards, and not much by
any other standards. A plaque on the far wall congratulated Captain
Miles DeVriess. As usual, the sight of it twisted his stomach, but the
damned thing was welded to the bulkhead.
Wells pulled his feet up and drew of his ship-shoes, tossed them
into a locker and pulled out a pair of lug-soled combat boots. Fasten-
ing them on, he added a fak vest over his coveralls, followed by web
gear and a jacket. Typing another combination into a second locker,
he drew out an Earthforce PPG carbine, which he slung over his
shoulder, and a PPG pistol, which he holstered in his web gear. Spare
PPG caps went into pouches on his belt, and a survival knife clipped
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upside-down to the left suspender. en he paused, considering. A
second passed, then he reached into the locker a second time, drew
out a second PPG pistol and holster, and clipped them to the small of
his back, where the jacket would hide them.
As he returned to the hanger bay, Wells saw Crewman Eliot
waiting for him full combat gear, his helmet tucked under one arm.
Eliot was a tall, blond-haired man with an athletic build.
“Captain,” Eliot said briskly, nodding.
“Mr. Eliot. Where is Mister Hedges?”
“Right here, Captain” said Hedges behind him. He turned to
see the crewman foating in the doorway, struggling to fasten his web
gear around his lanky body. Hedges looked at Wells’ jacket, his eyes
bulged, and with a silent “Oops” he disappeared back towards the lad-
der to the upper deck.
Wells and Eliot wordlessly tsk’d at each other before heading for
the shuttle’s access ramp.
Minutes later, the shuttle plunged towards the surface of the
Marcab homeworld. It was daylight on that side of the planet, and
they could see the broad green curve of the landscape. eir target
was on the outskirts of a burning city, and the shuttle few down past
the immense column of black smoke which towered for kilometers.
From a height, it was distressing how much the scorched grid below
resembled a normal human city.
In the copilot’s seat, Wells tracked the location of the beacon
relative to their shuttle while Carson few the shuttle in. It was located
on a local starport, the sort that serviced orbital, suborbital and atmo-
spheric craft. It was a good choice: there was plenty of space to land.
From the air, they could see that the roads were choked with ground
vehicles of every type. Nothing moved, of course. e fres from the
city had spread to many of the roads, burning everything that could
burn, even the road surface itself.
e shuttle had the ability to hover and land nearly vertically,
so landing it on the starport tarmac was trivial. On the ground, the
shuttle rolled to within sight (and PPG range) of the beacon, then
stopped.
“is is where I get out.” Wells said, getting out of the copilot’s
chair. “Carson, I’m going to leave my link open. I want this shuttle
ready to take of at the frst sign of trouble. If the worst happens, you
have to make it back to the ship.”
Eliot looked out the window nervously. “Sir, are you sure we
should stay in here? It seems like, well, a big target.”
“Would you really be safer out there on foot?”
Eliot thought about it. “I guess not.”
“Right. Watch the shuttle. I’d better be going.”
Wells walked down the boarding ramp a little unsteadily. It had
been a while since he and his crew had been out of weightlessness:
Morgoosc’s only concession to gravity was a small centrifuge that
housed the restroom facilities. Even though you took the pills and did
your exercises, it wasn’t the same. God help him if he had to run for it.
Looking around as he left the bottom of a ramp, he saw no one
else. He began to walk towards the beacon, trying not to scuttle,
though he felt very exposed. It occurred to him that he was walking
across a whole new world, just what he’d joined Earthforce to do.
e sun was just beginning to set, and it seemed like a spec-
tacular sunset was starting. e air of the Marcab homeworld tasted
acrid, like ashes. ere was ash everywhere, blowing like dust or
caked into black mud where moisture had collected. Fortunately, the
smoke from the city was blowing away from them. He wondered if
the remains of any Marcabs were in the aircraft and ground vehicles
nearby. He tried not to think about that. ere were a lot of insects.
He tried not to think about that either.
Soon he arrived at the beacon, just a small plastic cone with a
fashing light on top. e color was odd, and he looked more closely
at it. e writing was… Minbari?
V|y ucrc :|c M:roor: oj o|| pcop|c |oo|:rg :o |:rc or mcrccror:cs·
He looked around, slowly inspecting every inch of the terrain
that surrounded him, turning as his eyes swept in a 360-degree circle.
He hadn’t expected to meet Minbari on the Marcab homeworld. e
contact that had put them onto this job had been Narn.
“I don’t see anything,” he said for the beneft of the shuttle crew.
G’lor||. you oos:orá. á:á you sc: mc up· He could feel his heart
beating, breathed deeply to keep himself calm. He completed a
second 360 turn, but everywhere he turned was empty and vacant.
He stopped facing the shuttle, so that they could watch his back, and
waited.
Of to his left, he spotted motion. He fought the urge to whip
around, and turned steadily to face in that direction. “Here we go,” he
said cautiously.
e fgure stepped away from the side of a utility truck. It uos a
Minbari! He was tall, with an aristocratic face, the bony crest of his
skull intricately futed. But the uniform was strange. He’d seen the
black robes their Warrior caste wore, seen them up close during the
last war. is was diferent, a coarser brown robe with a hood, and
some kind of pin that caught the light.
e Minbari began to walk towards him. Wells met him halfway,
careful to keep his hands at his sides. ey stopped just outside of
arm’s reach.
“I am Captain Paul Wells, of the starship Morgoosc. G’ Tankh
sent me.”
“I am Dulaan, Shok’Na, of the Anla’Shok,” the Minbari replied
formally. “You are expected. G’ Tankh speaks well of you.”
“G’ Tankh is a good friend for a man in my circumstances.”
Dulann became still. “What are your circumstances?” e words
were an accusation, and his eyes were merciless as a winter sky.
“My crew and I are mercenaries, Shok’Na Dulaan. Once, we
were Earthforce. We were a patrol vessel assigned to the edges of
human space. Our captain was… not well. He was fearful, suspicious,
terribly so, of all of us, and without cause.
“ose of us in his crew tried to get along, but he couldn’t be
soothed, in fact our eforts only worsened his suspicions. Finally, he
fxated on one of us and fabricated a charge of treason. It was ridicu-
lous, we all knew it, but the ofense was punishable by the death of
personality.
“We decided to relieve the captain of command, but he guessed
what we were doing, and he and his ofcers were ready. It went wrong
and turned into a bloodbath. After that, we couldn’t go back.” His
mind formed images, knives, gunfre, but he pushed them back, kept
his eyes fxed on Dulaan, who regarded him steadily.
Dulaan spoke, maintaining that piercing gaze, choosing his
words carefully: “And when you consider those events, that which you
did, that which you might have done, do you think that your actions
were right?”
Wells looked away. He remembered Eckstine’s sheer terror as he
was handcufed and locked in his berth. He remembered the meet-
ing in the shuttle cabin, the faces of the other crewman, the smell of
panic. He remembered Captain Miles DeVriess, a sudden lion in the
face of his accusers, the fury in his eyes as he drew his PPG and fred,
how he roared as their knives stabbed him. He remembered wrapping
crewmates in white plastic and stacking their bodies in the airlock.
R:g|:· V|o: uos r:g|: ooou: :|o:·
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He turned back to face the Minbari, composed his thoughts. “I
don’t want to call any of it right. It was in almost every way a failure.
People died, who need not have died, and we who survived are now
outcasts. ere are many things I think now that I should have done
diferently, or better. But, on balance? Yes. What I did, I did for my
fellow crewmen, and I believe that given the circumstances, it was
right.”
Wells and Dulaan stared into each other’s gaze unfinchingly,
each measuring the soul behind the other’s eyes.
Dulaan nodded, fnally. “It is as we had heard, then,” he said.
He turned, raised a hand, made a handsign. All around, without
a word, Minbari in groups of one and two stood from their cover,
their weapons held at rest.
It was nicely done, though the Morgoosc crew had known that
they had to be out there. As Dulaan turned back, Wells found himself
grinning. Dulaan replied with the ghost of a smile, and handed him a
data crystal.
“At the coordinates contained on this data crystal, my people
maintain an orbital salvage yard. ree days ago, a transport of
Centauri manufacture came in through the jump gate and raided our
salvage yard. We were able to cordon of the jump gate, but they fed
into the asteroid belt and we lost contact with them.”
“e belt that intersects the large gas giant?”
“Yes. It is believed that the gas giant devoured a planet, fairly
recently in terms of cosmological time. As a result, the feld is unusu-
ally dense, and the frequent high-energy collisions of asteroidal debris
with the gas giant are quite spectacular. ey are in there somewhere,
but the motion within the asteroid feld is signifcantly chaotic, so it is
difcult for us to pick them out.”
“You’re sure they haven’t jumped out?” Wells asked, considering
the situation.
“at class of transport is not jump-capable. Moreover, we would
have picked up the jump gate forming.”
“And we should-?”
“Follow them. Find them. Bring them back to us.”
Wells considered this. He hadn’t expected to be asked to bring
them back. On the other hand, Mongoose carried two boarding pods
as part of her interdiction gear. ey also served as escape capsules. It
could be done, he decided, if they could fnd them.
“I think we can do that.”
“at is good,” Dulaan replied evenly. “You are no doubt wonder-
ing about payment.”
“Here comes the big one,” thought Wells. Speaking aloud, he
began, “G’ Tankh had quoted a price of 500,000 credits…”
“We would be willing to pay up to 300,000.”
Wells was unsurprised. 500,000 had been a high number: they
had expected to be haggled down. Before he could respond, though,
the Minbari continued,: “However, we Minbari believe that in this
universe there are some things of greater value than wealth. Captain
Wells, do you trust me?”
Now it was Wells’ turn to measure Dulaan. He measured the
Minbari’s frank gaze, and found no falsehood there, or condescen-
sion. Dulaan’s attitude was confdent, even regal, but not domineering.
Wells read him as a commander who was at once both committed to
his command, and at peace with it. It was a good combination.
“I trust you.”
“en know this: we are of course prepared to meet your price.
Above that, however, we may be able to expand the limits of your
hopes.”
“What do you mean?”
Dulaan smiled, enigmatically. “I cannot say at this time. We will
observe the progress of your mission. After its completion, we will
talk again. e data crystal you hold contains all the information we
have on the interlopers, as well as the details of how to get in contact
with us should you so require.”
“Very well, Shok’Na.” said Wells.
“en I bid you good hunting, Captain.” And with a formal nod,
Dulaan stepped back, turned and walked of the way he had come.
e shuttle ride up was a buzz of questions. Eliot wanted to
know what the Minbari was like. Carson wondered what he had
meant about hope. Hedges was sure Dulaan was of the Worker caste.
“e robes!” he repeated, “ey’re not Religious caste! And they’re
certainly not Warrior!”
On board the Morgoosc, Wells called the crew together in the
mess area and laid out the mission. “We know they’re in this asteroid
belt,” he said, indicating the ellipse of the belt, “and that they entered
at this point. What we have to do is fnd them.”
“But sir, they could be anywhere!” objected Eliot.
Eckstine broke in: “Not necessarily!”
“What are you thinking?” asked Wells.
“Captain, if they’re in there, it’s for sure they’re not standing
still. ey’re trying to get to somewhere, so they’re going to be on the
move. But that feld is DENSE. So they’re going to have to be maneu-
vering all the time to avoid the big stuf. at’s going to cut down how
fast they can travel. And since we have data on how fast they can go,
and how well they maneuver, I think we can calculate how fast they
can travel based on the density of that asteroid feld.”
“Accurately?” Wells asked.
“Not super accurately, but it’ll cut down the area we have to
cover.”
“Ok!” Wells picked up a pointer and indicated an arc of the
asteroid belt. “We know they have to travel within the asteroid feld to
avoid detection, and once Lt. Eckstine fnishes his calculations, we’ll
have an idea of how far along the arc from their entry point to begin
our search. at leaves one question: which direction did they go in?
Carson spoke up, “Sir, if they travel in the opposite direction of
the feld’s orbit, they’ll put the most distance between themselves and
the salvage yard.”
“at’s true, Carson,” Wells replied. “But these are Centauri. Giv-
en a choice, I think they’ll go for misdirection over pure mathematical
advantage. Eckstine, I want you to fgure out your best estimate of
their position, and we’ll do a grid search from there. Once we locate
them, we’ll close and try to take out their weapons, then we launch
the boarding pod. Eckstine, you’ll command the ship in my absence. I
want Eliot, Hedges, Carson and Francona in the pod with me.”
Eckstine protested, “Sir, I really think I should be the one to go
in that boarding pod.”
“Noted, and overruled. Sorry, Bob, I lead from in front. All right
gentlemen, we have our plan, I want this ship cleared for acceleration,
double time!”
e meeting broke up into a furry of activity as equipment was
stowed or fastened down, and personnel headed for their acceleration
couches. Wells headed for the bridge. He strapped himself into the
command chair as the others took their positions. ey ran down a
quick checklist as the other crewmen reported in over the intercom
system, then broke the ship out of orbit.
e fight out to the asteroid belt was a long and tedious one, all
the more so for the apprehension that was building about the mission
ahead of them. e asteroid belt covered an immense area, and was it-
self dangerous. Wells kept the crew occupied by checking the function
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of the ship’s plasma cannons, and plotting as much of the asteroid belt
as they could. In a normal asteroid feld, the asteroids were hundreds,
often thousands of kilometers apart from each other, but this feld
was fairly fresh, and the distances were often kilometers or less. ere
was much more small debris than in an older feld, where most of it
would have aggregated around the larger asteroids or been drawn into
the ring of debris that was forming around the gas giant itself. at
small debris interfered with the orbits of larger objects, while being
too small to show up on the ship’s sensors. e result was extremely
chaotic, and it would be difcult to spot the Centauri ship among the
seemingly random motion of the feld. On the other hand, it would
be difcult for the Centauri ship to spot Morgoosc, as well.
e Centauri transport had entered the asteroid feld at one of
the densest points on its orbit, the trailing trojan point, where a cloud
of debris was held in an equal tug-of-war between the gravity feld of
the gas giant, and the larger but more distant gravity feld of the Mar-
cab star. Wells believed that they were travelling through the orbit
of the asteroid feld toward the gas giant. It was possible, he thought,
that the transport would try to enter the ring of debris circling the gas
giant, and use the bulk of the superjovian titan to mask its transmis-
sions as it called for pickup.
As Morgoosc reached the feld, bits of dust and debris began
to patter and spang of the outside of her hull. Her sensors were
designed to concentrate on the larger, faster-moving projectiles that
posed a more serious threat, and the small stuf had to be ignored.
ey lowered the blast shields over the portholes and continued on.
On the bridge, the crew lurched in their seats as the ship swerved
to avoid a collision. Wells moved the command chair up on its over-
head track and raised it slightly so that he could see over the shoulder
of the sensor operator. Philips was working at full speed, identifying
each piece of rock around them. Objects that had been identifed
turned translucent in his display. ey were slowly tunneling their
way through the feld. Up front, Carson at the pilot’s controls and
Eckstine at the copilots worked as a team, identifying threats and
avoiding them, improvising a course as they went along. Eliot at the
weapons control console functioned as an auxiliary sensor operator.
For his part, Wells could only be a facilitator, coordinating the
eforts of his crew, acting as a go-between, and staying out of their
way. It left him without much to do, at a time when everyone else was
busy. It was tough, there was little to keep his mind of his doubts.
Had he made the correct decision, or were they moving farther away
from the target with each passing second? ere was no way to know.
He pushed the thoughts away, but they remained.
Carson and Eckstine swore suddenly and in unison as Carson
yawed the ship violently to the left and punched her engines. Mor-
goosc turned and shot clear of a hurtling boulder the size of a shuttle
which fashed past and disappeared into the distance.
“Sorry!” said Carson, sheepishly.
“Not at all, good work!” replied Wells relieved. Sc::|c :|cm áour.
gc: ooc| :o :|c rou::rc.
Hours passed, measured in sweat and tension. Finally, Wells
ordered Carson to coast for a bit. He ordered food brought up to
the bridge to keep up their energy. e crew quickly munched down
the rations, sipped imitation cofee though straws from insulated
pouches. A piece of his food bar got away from Phillips, and he had
to snag it with a napkin before it foated across the room. “Sorry!” he
mumbled through a mouthful of food, then “Eh?” He leaned closer to
his console, swallowed. “Captain, I’ve got a contact at 1000 clicks. It’s
got energy readings.”
Wells leaned forward in his command chair. “Are we catching up
to it?”
“Currently, sir… no, it’s starting to accelerate.”
“at’s them! Pass on the coordinates!” ordered Wells, trying to
stand up despite his seat harness. Phillips’ hands few, and an indica-
tor appeared on the piloting and weapons consoles.
Morgoosc leapt forward like a hound chasing a rabbit. Ahead of
her, the Centauri vessel picked up speed. It was a sleek midnight-blue
craft, a fat semicircular hull with twin tail booms trailing behind.
Two weapons turrets mounted on the back of the Centauri vessel
swiveled and elevated to bear on the pursuing ship. Its fre went high
as Morgoosc dipped suddenly and surged forward.
“Centauri vessel!” Wells thundered into the headset he held in
his hand. “You are ordered to decelerate and prepare to be boarded
immediately!”
Engines faring, Morgoosc pulled up even with the feeing trans-
port, and level with the plane of its hull. e Centauri ship’s weapons
continued to fre, plasma bolts scoring Morgoosc’s outer hull.
“Take out those guns!” ordered Wells on the bridge.
Turrets on Morgoosc’s upper hull turned to bear on the Cen-
tauri ship, and bursts of plasma shot across the transport’s hull. e
point of aim shifted down, and the bolts struck frst one turret, then
the other in gouts of sparks and molten metal. e Centauri vessel
immediately dove and turned, swooping dangerously close to a larger
asteroid in a clearly desperate attempt to escape.
Wells shook his head. “If we don’t stop them soon, they’re going
to plow that ship into a rock. Eliot, can you take out their engines?”
Eliot winced. “at’s not a good shot on this type of ship, Cap-
tain. I’d be as likely to hit the reactor.”
Wells cursed under his breath. He keyed his command link,
“Boarding party to the starboard boarding pod!” en, he unclipped
his seat harness. “Carson!”
“Uh, sir?” replied Carson, struggling with the ship’s controls.
“I guess you’re staying where you are. Carson, you have the conn.
Eckstine, you’re with me. Come on!” Wells swiveled his command
chair sideways and dove for the exit. Moving quickly, he, Eckstine and
Eliot scrambled for the back of the ship. As they arrived at the board-
ing pod lock, Hedges and Francona were already inside the small
round capsule, securing themselves in and checking the PPG carbines
that were stowed by each seat. e others quickly boarded, Wells
ushering Eckstine to the controls.
“You’re a better pilot than me.”
e spherical, six-legged boarding pod detached itself from
Morgoosc’s fanks and rocketed towards the Centauri transport. e
transport tried to swerve, but was bracketed by shots from Morgoosc’s
cannon. e boarding pod swooped low over the surface of the Cen-
tauri vessel’s hull and clamped on with the powerful magnets in its
feet. It settled its round base against the hull.
e men inside the boarding pod unfastened their harnesses
and unclipped their weapons as the pod began cutting through the
transport’s hull. e angry whizzing of PPGs heating up flled the
space. “Flash-bangs,” ordered Wells, “e moment the hatch opens.”
Eliot and Hedges nodded and prepared the non-lethal grenades. e
cutting stopped and the hatch dropped open.
“Now!”
Eliot and Hedges pulled pins and threw their grenades down
through the hatch. ere was a blast of light and concussion.
“Go! Go!” yelled Wells, as Eliot then Hedges bailed down
through the hatch and he followed.
e pale green room had artifcial gravity. Two singed and dis-
oriented Centauri lay dazed on the foor, and Eliot quickly batted the
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PPG pistols from their hands with the muzzle of his carbine while
Hedges moved to take up a fring position on the doorway beyond.
Wells surveyed the doorway while Eckstine and Francona quickly
bound the Centauris’ hands behind their backs with repair tape.
Eliot moved up beside Hedges and looked to Wells, who nod-
ded. Eliot readied his carbine, unfolding the folding stock, as did
Hedges, then headed through the door. As he came through the door-
way, a Centauri ran up and swung a freaking sword at his face! Eliot
blocked with the barrel of his carbine and leaned left. On cue, Hedges
reversed his carbine and came in from the right, ramming the butt of
his carbine into the Centauri’s face. e Centauri went down hard.
“anks,” said Eliot.
“Nar,” replied Hedges.
ey were in a passageway leading forward and aft. Wells fol-
lowed them out into the hallway, motioning the two of them forward.
He motioned to Eckstine and Francona to head aft, then proceeded
forward, walking backwards to cover their rear.
e end of the passageway was a door. Eliot and Hedges were
on either side, waiting for him. Wells readied a fash-bang and they
hugged the walls on either side. He nodded to Hedges, who pressed
the door control. Wells hurled the grenade past the opening door,
heard the grenade go of, and all three ran into the room, which was
empty. It was obviously the Centauri common room. It had a nice
rug on the foor, and paneled walls. Hedges gave a low appreciative
whistle.
e door at the far end of the room opened, and Wells shot into
it, hitting a Centauri poised to throw. e Centauri cried out, drop-
ping the grenade at his own feet. It went of, knocking him backward,
as another grunt was heard from outside. Eliot and Hedges hurried
up to the door. Hedges leaned into the hallway and PPG fre fashed
into the doorframe by his head. He dropped to one knee, crying out
and fring a long burst back in the direction of the gunfre. Hedges
got to his feet and stumbled through the doorway, and Eliot followed,
aiming his gun down the outside hall in the other direction.
Wells followed them out. ere was a very dead Centauri on the
foor in front of Hedges. Hedges was wincing and touching a number
of small burns where particles of metal had struck him in the face, but
was not otherwise injured.
Wells took the lead and headed for one of two doorways leading
forward. Hedges followed him, and Eliot brought up the rear, facing
backwards. As he neared the door, the other door facing forward
opened, and Eliot fred into the Centauri who leaned out with a PPG.
Wells hurried forward and opened the other door, ducking inside
and covering the far end of the wide, shallow room that was clearly
the bridge. e bridge crew froze, as Hedges and Eliot followed him
in, and slowly, unhappily, and above all carefully put down their weap-
ons. ey straightened up again and raised their hands. Wells quickly
moved forward to the controls and verifed that the ship was stopped.
Eliot nodded towards a tall dour-faced Centauri whose uniform
and hair-crest marked him as the captain, and said to Hedges, “You
hear the one about the Centauri who screwed up so bad, they busted
him down to a ponytail?”
Wells triggered his command link “We have the bridge secured.
Eckstine, Francona?”
Eckstine responded, “Captain, we’re in the hold. All secured. I
think you should see this for yourself.”
Wells looked at Eliot and Hedges, who nodded. “Be right there,”
he said. When he got to the hold, he saw that it contained two hulk-
ing metal cylinders covered with cables, vents and cooling lines. It
took a second to register what they were. He looked at Francona. “Are
those-?”
“Jump engines, sir, aye. Marcab, by the writing on them. If this
ship had the power, they might have left on their own, eh?”
Wells was impressed. Jump engines required Quantium-40, a
rare mineral that was insanely valuable as a result. Each jump engine
was worth a fortune.
Eckstine asked Wells “We orc returning those, right?”
“Yes, we’re going to return them. at was the deal. Let’s secure
this ship, so we can deliver it to the salvage yard.” He looked back at
the jump drives. Damn. “You have a camera?” he asked.
Sprawling across the airless surface of the Markab homeworld’s
moon, the salvage yard was a graveyard of Markab starships, row
upon row, parked on the surface of the airless moon, there were thou-
sands of them, more than cold be counted. A Minbari cruiser foated
overhead, guarding the site from further interlopers.
“Sir, you fgure all of those ships have jump drives?” asked Ecks-
tine on the bridge of the Morgoosc.
“Not all,” replied Wells, “but probably a sizeable percentage.”
“So, what are the Minbari are doing with all of them?”
“I have no idea. Somehow I don’t think they’re going to tell us.”
e communications consoles beeped. Phillips at the sensor
console took the call. “Captain, I have Shok’Na Dulaan on the line for
you,” he said.
“Put him on.”
Dulaan’s image appeared on the main viewscreen. “Captain, I
thank you. We are pleased at the outcome of your mission.”
“It is my pleasure as well, Shok’Na“ replied Wells.
“Excellent! I am sending you a set of landing coordinates. Please
land your ship there. I’ll meet you, and we can make your payment.”
“Very well, Shok’Na.”
e coordinates led the Morgoosc to a broad green meadow high
in the mountains. A cave had been dug into the mountainside, and
a magnifcent stone gateway could be seen within, shaded from view
from above by the upper edge of the cave opening. Dulaan walked
towards the ship from the cave mouth, accompanied by an entourage
of Minbari in casual dress.
e crew of the Mongoose walked down the main ramp and out
to meet him, and Wells introduced Dulaan to his crew. Dulaan nod-
ded graciously to each in turn.
He turned to Wells, opening a large, elegantly lacquered box
containing 300,000 credits in Centauri ducats. “As you can see, your
payment is here. But, do you recall our conversation at the star port?”
“I do.”
“Good. Tell me, Captain Wells, does your crew prefer money, or
hope?”
e crew of the Mongoose looked at each other questioningly.
Francona spoke up, “Begging your pardon, sir, but we like a little of
both.”
Wells shot him a look, but Dulaan only smiled. “at is accept-
able. And we are in a position to grant both. And, I believe some
answers are in order.” He waved in the direction of the stone gateway.
e crowd parted, revealing an orange-skinned humanoid, hairless,
with a jutting jaw and domed skull that carried a regular geometric
pattern.
“A Marcab!” exclaimed Wells, “But, I thought you were all dead!”
“All but,” the Markab said, walking towards him. “ere were
thirty-nine of us left, after the Drafa plague. I myself was on an
extended business trip, and so escaped the calamity. irty-nine, out
of two billion.”
“I am terribly sorry,” said Wells gravely.
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“Do not be sorry, Captain Wells. We grieve the dead, but this is
not about them. 39 of us still live. And we must keep on living. I am
Anthenn, and I am the caretaker of my race. Follow me.” He turned
back towards the stone gateway began to walk.
“In the fnal days, before the end, our government took steps
to preserve our knowledge and our greatest cultural treasures. ey
moved them here, to this place. It was built as a shelter for our gov-
ernment in the event of an orbital bombardment, and as you will see,
they spared the people no expense.”
Entering the gateway, they could see a long hallway of the same
richly veined stone as the gate. Statues lined the hallway. Wells
glanced at the nearest one, and then stared. e workmanship of the
statue, and the fneness of emotion it conveyed, made him apprehen-
sive to be allowed so close to it. It was a masterpiece.
Anthenn led them onto a large metal disk with railings around it.
Once they were on board, he took the controls, and it began to move
smoothly and silently down the long hall. At the end of the hall, the
disk entered into a cavernous room flled with light. Its walls were
all of white stone, and above, a great arched roof stood tall overhead,
bearing an image of the daytime sky. In front of them stretched a
great oval shaft fenced with marble, and below they could see tier
after tier of galleries descending to a courtyard at its bottom. Innu-
merable statues, paintings, tapestries and artifacts flled each level of
the space. In the courtyard below a fountain splashed and scattered
light about, flling the place with its gentle noise and a sense of life.
Anthenn slowed the transport disk to a stop and turned to face them.
Spreading his arms, he declared, “is, my friends, is the fortress of
our inheritance.”
Stepping from the transport disk, he continued, “And it is more
than a mere warehouse for the relics of our art and culture. We col-
lected genetic material from our fallen, as many as we could, and that
work continues both here and ofworld. is place is the storehouse
for that genetic material. We hope to use it to return our race to a
stable breeding population one day.
“All this is possible through our partnership with the Anla’Shok.
ey provide us with protection, food, and extra hands for the work
ahead. In return, we have turned over to them the spaceships you saw
in the orbital salvage yard. We had no further use for them.”
Wells turned to Dulaan. “What will you use them for?”
“We Minbari have long believed that we would one day be called
on to join with another race in a great war against a terrible darkness.
e Anla’Shok are our army for that war. We now believe our time
of destiny is upon us, and that our ally is your race, Captain. To that
end, we are preparing a great feet of ships, that will form the back-
bone of our defenses against the forces of darkness. e Markab ships
provide us with the raw materials to build that feet.”
Dulaan continued, “In our war against the forces of the shad-
ows, we are constantly searching to recruit additional personnel. e
ranks of the Anla’Shok are composed of not only Minbari, but Narns,
Drazi, even Humans.”
“is was all a test!?” asked Wells.
“Yes, and no. e pursuit of the Centauri transport was very
defnitely a real, unstaged exercise. However, we were fully aware of
what she was carrying. When you returned her cargo, we knew that
you would be worthy of our trust. And so now I put it to you: will
your crew join with us?”
“Become Anla’Shok?”
“Perhaps eventually. It is not a privilege we grant to everyone
we encounter. In the near term, we have need of a crew here that can
move in human space without drawing attention to itself. We would
be honored if your ship could be that crew.”
Wells turned to talk to his crew, but the looks on their faces said
all that needed to be said.
He turned back, “e honor is our own.”
Dulaan smiled, “I am pleased.” He began to walk back towards
the transport disk. ”Come we must move your ship to a safer haven.
en, I have an errand I would like you to run on Babylon 5…”
Kitsune Shijuro
By Jamie Lawson (jamie.lawson@attbi.com)
Section 15: Kitsune Shijuro Copyright 2003, Jamie Lawson
Kitsune dropped hard to the deck as the freighter lurched,
throwing her out of her hammock and knocking her back into con-
sciousness. Slowly, she pulled herself upright, cradling her head in
her hands.
e past weeks had been difcult enough. Kitsune was running
from the Psi-Corps, hiding out on whatever third-rate spaceship she
could hitch a lift on, going wherever she could that was away from
Earth and Earth-controlled space.
Not long ago, there had been an “underground railroad,” which
would have gotten her from Earth to Babylon 5 and then to whatever
League systems might ofer a human telepath shelter.
But that was gone, and Kitsune – like any other telepath
who did not want to join the group actively fghting the Psi-Corps,
using the slogan “Remember Byron” and whatever weapons they
could get – had to fend for herself. She had set herself the goal of
reaching Narn space. e Narn had no telepaths; with any luck
they would be willing to protect her and let her earn her keep, as the
Yakuza clan had, before now. She was living by all the wits she had,
and so far had survived.
en last night, some equally derelict person, also hitching
a ride on this freighter, had gone on a Dust trip, not knowing – more
likely not caring – that his companion was a telepath.
Kitsune tried a scan of the cargo hold, though it was nearly
impossible to focus past the pain in her head. She got nothing. Sigh-
ing, she settled her back against the bulkhead, and looked at the blood
smear on the ridge beside her hammock. Her badge of survival, she
thought.
Not long after her companion had taken the Dust, the pain
started blossoming in Kitsune’s head. Within a minute or two, he was
physically and mentally charging her, pushing himself of a crate and
fying through the zero-gee space. She had already put up her mental
walls, but against a Dust-driven mind, she might as well try to hang a
tatami mat to stop a truck.
She dodged him, kicking out and sending him tumbling, to
smash into another crate. It broke his concentration, buying her time
– no more than a few seconds, she guessed.
She bolted to the far end of the cargo bay, bouncing of
bulkheads and crates, putting what distance she could between
herself and her assailant, breaking his line of sight. Anything to slow
him down.
Desperately she looked for a weapon. Her judo – the only
unarmed combat she knew – was worse than useless. In zero-gee it
would look like ballet, and the last thing she wanted to do was touch
a man high on Dust.
He was coming, crawling hand over hand across the crates,
grabbing for her mind, ripping memories out like pages from a book.
A :r:-co|orcá co: |copcá o: |cr jocc. sror|:rg. c|ous |os|:rg jor
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|cr cycs –
S:op ::. áomr you|
She found the chemical fre extinguisher, bolted to the bulk-
head. With strength born of terror and rage, she ripped it loose from
its binding.
S:cpp:rg :r:o |cr |ovcr’s room. |oo|:rg ocross o: :|c mor or :|c
ocá. ovcr jour ::mcs |cr s:zc –
I:|:|y Dus:-suc|:rg oos:orá. gc: ou: oj my |coá –
Priming the extinguisher, she set it of, at the same moment
throwing it bottom frst at her assailant. Her frantic strength com-
bined with the force of the pressurized carbon dioxide fowing turned
the canister into a missile, and it caught the man right between the
eyes. He tumbled backwards, heels over head, until his tumble was
stopped abruptly as his head impacted on the hatchway leading to the
exterior of the ship.
At once, the pressure on Kitsune’s mind evaporated.
Letting herself go limp, she foated back toward her ham-
mock, trying to rub life back into skin nearly frozen by the blast from
the extinguisher. Just as she reached it, the ship lurched violently – it
must have been passing through a jumpgate. Kitsune was thrown
forward, smacking her forehead into the bulkhead.
She pitched into the hammock, unconscious.
e ship lurched and bumped twice more, then was still. A
voice on the intercom said, “We’ve landed on Altair. e cargo hatch
is now unlocked. Don’t be aboard fve minutes from now, unless you
feel like chatting with the Customs guys.”
Picking herself and her small bag of belongings up, Kitsune
threaded her way through the cargo containers toward the hatch. It
was there that she spotted the Dust bunny, as she’d taken to calling
him.
No wonder she hadn’t been able to scan him, she thought.
He was dead.
She crouched over him, rifing his pockets – you did what you
had to, if you wanted to survive – and thinking. Perhaps she had
killed him, by knocking him into the hatch. Or perhaps it was just
the stress of the Dust on his system.
Grimacing at the memory of the telepathic assault, Kitsune
kicked the dead man until the hatchway was clear. She spun the
clamps open and slipped of the freighter.
It had gotten into a routine now. At each stop, Kitsune had to
fnd her way into the local underworld, and locate a ship going toward
Narn space which wouldn’t mind an of the books passenger.
A fair supply of credits made the job easier. Sometimes, being a
telepath helped too. e Psi-Corps was an unpopular organization
– more unpopular the farther out from Earth you got, as Kitsune had
fgured out quickly.
Other times, she had to work a deal for her passage. is was
shaping up to be one of them, she thought, as she sat in a corner of
the small bar. At least the wait wasn’t too bad – the barkeep had
actually managed to locate half a pint of sake, and it was almost palat-
able.
e tall human in a dark suit walked briskly through the door,
fanked by a pair of Drazi bodyguards. One of them carried a small,
rectangular crate with a wire door.
Kitsune opened her eyes. ese three were the ones she was
waiting for. But even more intriguing was the crate. ere was some-
thing alive and aware inside. Not anywhere near human awareness,
but intelligent nevertheless.
She pictured herself in her mind’s eye, hoping there was enough
somewhere about her to make the right impression. A human
woman, a scant meter and a half tall and not even forty kilos in
weight; Asian by ethnicity – Nihonjin, to be precise. A little past
forty, although months of constant fear for her life had aged her con-
siderably. Black hair cut short for simplicity’s sake, and dark brown
eyes – bloodshot and deeply underlined with black – that had seen
far too much.
“Gentlemen, welcome,” she said, taking the initiative and address-
ing the human. “You must be the one they call Doctor Morbius.”
He frowned. “Yeah. You Kit … Kit, sun …”
“Kitsune,” she said. “Yes. You got my request, I take it?”
“Yeah. In fact, I got you on a ship that leaves in two hours. Narn
passenger transport, bound for Dra’shu. Interested?”
Kitsune’s eyes widened despite herself. An actual passenger
transport, and Narn besides, destined for Narn territory. It seemed
too good to be true – but Morbius was telling the truth.
Or at least part of it.
“What’s the catch?”
Morbius jerked his head toward the Drazi carrying the crate.
e reptilian creature stepped forward and put the crate onto the
table.
“You gotta take that with you,” Morbius said. “Keep it alive,
keep it happy, and when you get there, hand it over to a man named
Rupert Delgoda.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a mongoose, I guess. A very special one, so they tell me. Get
it to Delgoda, and he’ll make it worth your while. Mess it up, and
you’ll have worse than the Psi-Cops on your ass, get me?”
“Very clearly, Doctor Morbius.”
e gangster rolled his eyes, and seemed about to open his
mouth when Kitsune spoke again.
“ey call you that because you run Altair,” she told him. “You
should watch more old movies.” She put a hand on top of the crate,
sliding it toward her – and sliding the sake bottle out of the way with
her other hand. “Tell me about the ship I – or should I say we? – are
going out on.”
ree hours later, Kitsune lay back in the berth of the Narn ship,
feeling a sense of relaxation almost like bliss as the pressure of Altair’s
gravity faded away. Another jump point coming up; another step
closer to freedom.
e berth was torpedo-shaped, barely more than an oversized
cofn with a sleeping mat lining the bottom, and a few lights, tem-
perature controls and a tiny view screen in the top half. But designed
for the average Narn, even with the mongoose’s crate, it was roomy for
Kitsune.
en the fear hit her.
Frantic, panicked. Lscopc – cscopc – cscopc –
Of course, she realized, leaning out of the straps of the tiny berth
to catch the crate, which had started to foat. She brought it up and
held it to her chest, looking through the wire door and trying to catch
the mind of the frightened creature inside.
No |orm. No jcor. I u:|| pro:cc: you. Co|m.
Few people gave the idea of telepaths being able to communicate
with animals much credit. And few telepaths ever bothered to try, at
least as far as Kitsune knew. But she had worked for years with her
cats, had even bred those which seemed to show the greatest respon-
siveness.
To think of the cats, which she had been forced to leave behind,
brought a wave of grief to her mind, almost threatening to overwhelm
the calming thoughts she was trying to send to the frightened mon-
goose. She took a deep breath and refocused herself.
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No |orm. No jcor. I u:|| pro:cc: you. Co|m –
V|o you· Cor’: uo||| Lscopc|
Kitsune’s head jerked back. at had been a question! In all the
years she had worked with her cats, they had never asked questions.
Closing her eyes, she concentrated, scanning the mind of the mon-
goose in the crate.
She quickly realized it – she – was not a typical mongoose. Her
intelligence had been signifcantly enhanced, at least to the level of a
human child. Whether this was the result of selective breeding, or
more direct genetic manipulation, Kitsune couldn’t tell.
She also couldn’t guess why this had been done. Who would
want a sentient mongoose? And what for?
V|o you|
Kitsune blinked at the repeated question, and the sense of impa-
tience it carried. She’d been rude, she realized.
I’m sorry. she told the mongoose. I’m Iox. Do you |ovc o romc·
R:|:.
Well, whoever made this creature had a sense of literary history,
Kitsune thought. Or perhaps Kipling knew more than anyone ever
realized.
Dor’: oc ojro:á. R:|:. I’|| |c: you ou: oj :|c cro:c. Bu: you |ovc :o
s:oy u::| mc. V:|| you s:oy u::| mc·
I’|| s:oy.
Kitsune nodded to herself, unhooking the latches and putting a
hand inside the crate. Riki latched onto her hand and Kitsune pulled
the mongoose free of the crate.
Cor’: uo||. V|o:’s urorg·
Kitsune contemplated a few moments – how do you explain zero
gravity to a child? – then gave it up. You’|| gc: uscá :o ::. She looked
over at the walls of the cabin, lined with thin, threadbare fabric. lry
c|:mo:rg or :|c uo||.
Riki jumped and latched onto the wall, ran up and across it, then
back and forth across the ceiling. Iur|
Kitsune grinned. I :|oug|: you m:g|: |:|c :|o:.
After a few minutes, the mongoose tired, and ran back down to
Kitsune’s berth. She curled up on Kitsune’s chest, hooking her claws
into the webbing and wrapping her tail around her nose, and dropped
of to sleep.
Kitsune smiled. She could let herself rest, she thought, more
than in weeks. If anyone tried to break into her berth, they’d be in for
a shock. As her thoughts began to drift as she neared sleep, she found
herself wishing she had a tail – a fox’s tail – to wrap around her nose.
Some hours later, Kitsune left Riki in the berth and took a walk
around the ship. It was small and quite Spartan by human standards,
although she guessed it was luxuriant for the Narn, who made up the
vast majority of the passengers.
And after weeks traveling in cargo holds, it was absolutely heav-
enly for Kitsune. One of the best things was that there were regular
meal times.
On the second evening out of Altair, Kitsune headed for the din-
ing room as dinner was called, and found herself seated with a Bra-
kiri, dressed in an immaculate black suit and white shirt. His broad,
fat face was covered with a tracery of fne tattooing that Kitsune tried
not to notice.
She had learned that members of the Brakiri underworld shared
a fondness for tattooing with the Yakuza clans she had fed from.
is man could be dangerous. “Good evening, sir,” she told him, hop-
ing he wouldn’t choose to talk further.
“Good evening, madam,” he responded. “You look very tired.
Have you been traveling long?”
“A while.”
“My name is Kethtrell. I travel this route often, but I haven’t
seen you before. Have you come all the way from Earth?”
“Yes.”
He continued asking questions, and Kitsune kept giving him
monosyllabic answers, focusing on keeping her mind closed. She
couldn’t sense any other telepaths in the vicinity, and she didn’t think
she was being scanned. But she didn’t trust the Brakiri. She didn’t
trust anyone – couldn’t aford to. As soon as she could, she excused
herself, almost running back to her berth.
Riki ran into her lap, and Kitsune fed her with the breen she’d
saved from dinner. Riki made it clear this wasn’t her favorite food,
but she was hungry enough that it would do.
Over the next several days, Kitsune kept running into Keth-
trell – literally, as often as not. Kitsune’s unease kept growing, for
although he didn’t speak to her again, she could feel him watching her,
studying her. She began to feel like a mouse, being stalked by one of
her cats – or a snake, as Riki might pursue it.
She considered scanning him, but decided against it. An active
scan – even a quick one – could be detected by another telepath, if
one was aboard. And she had never tried to scan a Brakiri before – if
she could do it at all, it would take her far more time than she dared.
Kitsune spent as much time as she could in the berth, playing
with the mongoose. She brought what meat or fsh she could from
the galley, and protein cakes when she couldn’t. Riki tried not to
complain, though it was clear to Kitsune – and would have been even
without telepathy – that these were far from the mongoose’s taste.
But hunger makes gourmets out of everyone, mongoose or human,
Kitsune thought.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t stay in the berth all the time. She
– and Riki – had to eat, and Kitsune had to go to the communal
head, at the end of the corridor.
It was when she was on her way back from one of the latter visits
that Kethtrell came up behind her. Before she could react, he grabbed
her, throwing one arm around her neck in a choke hold. She got a
glimpse of a truncheon out of the corner of her eye, and then the
whole world exploded and went black.
Kitsune struggled back to consciousness, her head a throbbing
wash of pain. Too many blows to the head lately, she thought. At this
rate, she would lose her telepathic powers – along with the rest of her
brain – before she ever found a sanctuary.
A soft chuckle brought her attention back to the moment.
“Good evening again, Miss Kitsune,” Kethtrell said. “I wasn’t sure you
were going to come back.”
“What’s going on?” she asked, feeling too much pain to put ire
behind her voice. “You have no right to do this.”
“Who needs rights when there’s good credits to be made?” he
asked. “And I think I can make some very, very good credits from
you, especially since you’re alive. e Psi-Corps pay well for rogue
telepaths turned over to them – not that they make the fact all that
well known.”
She narrowed her eyes, staring at him, trying to get a handle on
his mind. It was too late to try and hide any more.
“Don’t,” he said, his tone turning from smug to harsh. “I don’t
have any of your human sleeper drugs, but I have plenty of others.
Who knows what they might do to you?” He pulled several small
bottles out of his pocket and showed them to her. “e frst time you
try anything inside my head, we’ll start experimenting.”
She muttered something in Japanese.
“I don’t understand that, but I can imagine it’s not a compli-
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ment,” he said. “Curse me all you want, I’ve heard it all before, in one
language or another.”
She slumped in the chair, fghting the desire to burst into tears.
It had been such a long run. She had come so far, and was so close
– less than 24 hours from safety, she guessed. It wasn’t fair that it end
like this.
She wasn’t going to let the Psi-Corps take her, that much she
knew. She remembered the frst time she’d fed them, taking the
Kitakyushu ferry across the straits from Korea – it had taken all her
will to hold the deck rail and not throw herself into the waves –
“Where’s the animal, Miss Kitsune?”
Kitsune startled violently; she’d fallen so deep into a suicidal
reverie she’d forgotten Kethtrell. e Brakiri leaned closer, repeating
the question. She simply stared back at him, tilting her head up and
pressing her lips together.
e Brakiri’s hand whipped out, lacing his fngers into her
hair and yanking her head all the way back. A short groan escaped
Kitsune’s lips. “Don’t think you can hide it,” he said. “I saw you carry
it aboard. I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s important. Morbius
wouldn’t have paid a telepath to smuggle someone’s pet. So where is
it?”
Fear for the mongoose banished despair from Kitsune’s heart.
She had to fnd a way out of this, to save Riki. She wasn’t going to
leave her to this bastard, no matter what. “She escaped my berth. She
could be anywhere on the ship.”
Kethtrell’s free hand cracked across her cheek. She grimaced, but
said nothing. Suddenly releasing her, he took a few steps away before
turning back. “I think you’re lying,” he said, his voice suddenly quiet
and even more dangerous. “But I have a way to fx that too.” He left
the cabin and slammed the door.
Kitsune took several deep breaths, trying to focus. Better not
to think about what would happen when Kethtrell came back, but
rather about what she could do before then. She tested the bindings
on her hands, wedged behind her back. ey felt like fabric cord, but
were tied tightly enough that there wasn’t any give.
She looked around Kethtrell’s cabin. Far larger than her own
berth, of course, but still a rather confned space. She couldn’t see any
sharp edges readily to hand, though.
Sighing, she thought of another tack. Telepathic attacks were
never her strongest skill, but maybe if she prepared now, she could hit
Kethtrell hard enough and fast enough when he came back to disable
him. at might buy her time to fnd a way to free herself, or at least
call for help –
Iox· Iox. orc you |crc·
Kitsune almost gasped aloud. R:|:. u|crc orc you· e mon-
goose felt close, but she didn’t have the skill to be able to see through
her eyes.
I:’s áor|. Mc:o|. Rourá. V:rá. I cor smc|| you.
A ventilation shaft. She must have climbed into it from Kit-
sune’s berth, wandered through it. Cor you jo||ou my smc||·
Surc. You rccá :o uos|.
Kitsune chuckled. I’m surc. Io||ou my smc||. I rccá your |c|p.
She wasn’t sure if Riki could discern emotions, especially over dis-
tance, so she added, Ajro:á. Lscopc.
e silence felt interminable, but it couldn’t have been more than
two minutes. Urácrs:orá. I cor smc|| you oc::cr rou.
Kitsune hardly dared to breathe, as she tried to locate the mon-
goose nearby, without speaking – the last thing Riki needed was a
distraction. More minutes that dragged into near infnity. What was
Kethtrell doing, Kitsune wondered. When would he be back.
Hcrc I om.
Kitsune’s eyes widened in wonder as the little mongoose wiggled
between the bars of the cabin’s ventilation grill and scampered down
the wall and across the thin carpeting to her chair. Lscopc·
My |orás orc ::cá. Cor you |c|p·
Riki climbed up and over Kitsune’s shoulder, down to the ropes.
I cor c|cu.
||cosc áo ::. Bu: oc rcoáy :o rur orá |:ác u|cr I soy.
Kitsune could hear Riki chattering to herself, then felt a tiny tug-
ging at the ropes as the mongoose began chewing. She could sense its
distaste, and tried to send what reassurances she could.
At the same time, she searched outward, trying to fnd Kethtrell
among the many, mostly alien presences on the ship. Her headache
got worse as the eternal minutes passed.
ere! Kethtrell was just outside the door, and there was an-
other person – human – with him. e door latch began to move.
R:|:. |:ác|
e tugging at her wrists stopped as the mongoose ran for cover.
Kitsune forced herself not to look over her shoulders, instead fxing
a defant glare at the door. Kethtrell stepped through, with a human
she recognized as another steerage passenger right behind him. ere
was barely room for all three of them once Kethtrell closed the door.
“Have you changed your mind, Miss Kitsune?” he asked.
“Why should I? Who’s your friend?” She tried to test the cord
on her wrists. It wasn’t free. But it was close, she thought. She
hoped.
“His name is not important. But he is going to get the informa-
tion I want out of you.” e human said nothing, but simply leered
as the Brakiri pulled a small, clear packet out of his pocket. “Do you
recognize this?” he asked, showing it to her.
Kitsune’s stomach turned over. A single word wrenched from
her lips. “Dust…”
“at’s right. Dust. Very proftable stuf, too. You humans all
want to dive into each other’s minds, it seems. Well, I’ll let him dive
into yours.”
Kitsune had started to tremble. ere was no place to fee, here.
No fre extinguishers to throw, no escape. “Please, don’t do this … it
will destroy me,” she whispered.
“Well, it might lower the payment for you a little, but consider-
ing what I’ve heard the Psi-Corps do to rogues they catch, maybe it
won’t be so bad.” Kethtrell turned to the human, handing him the
packet. “Go ahead.”
e man downed the contents of the packet, looking from Keth-
trell to Kitsune, almost panting in anticipation. e Brakiri seemed
unfazed, even ofering another taunt. “She looks like she’s had quite
an interesting life, I’d say. Just make sure you remember what I want
to know.”
Panic was eating away Kitsune’s consciousness, when suddenly a
rush of anger washed through her mind – even as a furiously chatter-
ing mongoose suddenly emerged from beneath the bed and launched
herself toward Kethtrell. e little creature swarmed up his clothes,
clawing and biting at his face in a protective fury.
“Riki!” Kitsune wrenched her hands as hard as she could, and
the last threads of the rope parted. Inertia carried her out of the
chair, which was bolted to the deck, and to her knees before she
brought herself upright. She glanced at the human. He had taken a
step back into the corner, oblivious to anything but the efect of the
Dust, as it began to take hold.
Blood was fowing from half a dozen bites and slashes on Keth-
trell’s face and neck, drops growing on his skin then foating of, small
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globes of gore suspended in the air of the cabin. e Brakiri swatted
at the mongoose, sending her fying. Kitsune caught her, pressing the
small body against her chest with one arm, while shouldering past the
Brakiri and wrenching open the door.
e human suddenly cried out, a sound of pain and lust twisted
together as he plunged toward the Brakiri. Kitsune dove through the
door, slamming it shut on the tableau of Kethtrell trying in vain to
twist out of the man’s grip on his face.
Half-foating, half-creeping along the bulkhead, Kitsune slowly
made her way toward her berth. R:|:. orc you o|| r:g|:·
I’m o|| r:g|:. You ucrc scorcá. L:|c o |::. I |oá :o pro:cc: you.
Kitsune smiled, hugging the small creature close.
An anguished cry echoed faintly from Kethtrell’s cabin. Kitsune
tried to move faster, until another thought from Riki stopped her
short.
Cor I |ovc somc orccr·
I :|oug|: you á:ár’: |:|c ::.
I:’s oc::cr :|or :|c ooá mor’s o|ooá.
Kitsune glanced over her shoulder, then moved on. I cor oc|:cvc
:|o:.
She did have to explain what had happened, to a Narn security
ofcer. She learned that both Kethtrell and the human had been
found in deep comas. e security ofcer wasn’t sure if they’d survive,
and frankly didn’t care. If the aliens were going to make that kind of
trouble, they might as well kill each other of – that was his attitude.
Kitsune was able to convince him that she had been entirely the
victim, and was allowed to return to her berth for the duration of the
trip. She spent most of the time sleeping, and by the time the ship
made planetfall on Dra’shu, the headaches had fnally begun to fade
away.
She consulted a datanet terminal at the passenger station. To
her surprise, she found Rupert Delgado listed in the public directory,
with a complete address. As she printed out a set of directions that
would get her there, Kitsune began to wonder if this was where she
could stop running at last. Dra’shu was well within Narn space, one
jump point from the Narn homeworld. Only the Narn had jurisdic-
tion here, and she knew they could care less for the Psi-Corps’ wishes.
Better to fnish her present task, though, she thought, before
thinking too much about what would happen next. She carried Riki
to a large house in the wealthier section of the spaceport city. She
paused at the front door, holding the crate up so she could see the
mongoose inside.
I |ovc :o soy gooáoyc, she told Riki.
Gooáoyc·
Ir o jcu m:ru:cs. I uor’: scc you ogo:r. Somcorc c|sc u:|| :o|c corc
oj you. She smiled sadly. Hc u:|| jccá you oc::cr :|or I cou|á.
I uor’: jorgc: you. Iox.
“I bet you won’t,” Kitsune murmured aloud as she knocked. A
human man, whose spectacles and graying hair suggested he was only
a little older than she, answered.
“You are Rupert Delgoda?” she asked.
He nodded. “I am. You must be our courier.”
“I am Kitsune,” she said with a bow. “Morbius of Altair gave me
this, to give to you.” She showed him the crate.
He smiled, ushering her inside and taking the crate after the
door was closed. “ank you,” he said. “I’m very grateful. How was
the trip?”
“Delgoda-san, I don’t want to be rude, but I honestly think you’d
rather not know that,” she told him.
He looked at her again, his brisk demeanor gentling. “You do
look like you’ve had a very hard time. Tell you what. ere’s a bath-
room there, where you can take a little while and have a bath, even
freshen up your clothes.” He pointed to a door at the end of a short
hallway. “While you do that, I’ll get the mongoose settled.”
“Her name is Riki,” Kitsune said.
Delgoda nodded, and walked of. Kitsune turned toward the
bathroom. She knew she shouldn’t trust him, but the prospect of a
proper bath overrode her caution.
She imagined she could hear Riki laughing.
It was nearly an hour later when Kitsune emerged, feeling like an
entirely new person. Delgoda was waiting for her, and ushered her
into a sitting room. A pot of tea sat on a side table.
Delgoda smiled as he ofered her a seat and poured the tea. “I
wished to thank you again for bringing Riki to me, Miss Kitsune. You
will fnd a – substantial – sum of credits already in your account.”
“I’m glad I could bring her here safely,” Kitsune answered politely.
“I haven’t any right, of course, but I was wondering if you might
answer just one question for me.”
“Sure, if I can.”
“What will she be used for? What was she created for?”
He chuckled. “at’s two questions, but they have the same
answer, so I’ll let it pass.” He handed her a small plate of cakes.
“e Narn are desperate for an intelligence gathering capacity
within their own space and out into the League. After what hap-
pened with the Centauri, they haven’t much in the way of technology,
or funds to pay for the latest advances. So they look for unconven-
tional solutions. I, with Riki and her kin, will supply that.”
“Mongoose spies?”
“Just so. ey can get into places people can’t go, plant probes,
act as watchers,” Delgoda said, his enthusiasm clear. “With the proper
training, who knows what Riki could do?”
Kitsune thought about the rapport she had achieved with the
mongoose, and how Riki had saved her sanity, if not her life. “I think
… she will do very well, if she is well treated. You will treat her well,
won’t you, Delgoda-san?”
“Absolutely,” he answered. “ere’s been far, far too much in-
vested in her creation to do otherwise.”
at was the truth, and Kitsune felt grateful for it. She and
Delgoda ate in pleasant silence, until Kitsune fnished her tea.
“ank you again for your hospitality, Delgoda-san. I will take
my leave now.” She rose and bowed. Collecting the small sack of her
belongings from the doorway, she slipped out the door and away into
the streets.
How Sharp a Serpent’s Tooth
By Michael Webster (webster@emerytelcom.net)
Section 15: How Sharp a Serpent’s Tooth Copyright 2003,
Michael S. Webster
“Endiron. You are cleared for docking in Docking Bay 3. Enjoy
your stay.”
“ank you, Control. Have a good one!” Matching rotation,
Earth Alliance Shuttle Endiron glides efortlessly through space into
the gaping maw of Babylon 5. e docking could be considered
textbook, but all the passengers were aware of was a slight bump as
the shuttle came to a stop.
e passengers slowly fltered out of the shuttle into the station’s
reception area. Lieutenant Foster greeted them as they exited. In
turn he took their documents and processed them. A kindly gentle-
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man with an animal carrier stepped up next and ofered his creden-
tials.
Foster glanced down at the carrier then at the owner. “What’s in
the case, sir?”
e gentleman smiled warmly. “Why, that’s my little Zinn,” he
answered, his British accent lilting gently.
At the mention of his name a small black nose poked into the
grate at the front of the carrier. Two sparkling eyes shone from the
shadows.
“He’s a mongoose. He’s my companion.” He nodded and
indicated his paperwork. “I’m sure that you will see everything is in
order.”
“Yes, sir it is.” confrmed Foster. “I also see you’re here for the
Conference hosted by Dr. Franklin. We’ll let his ofce know you
arrived.”
“ank you, lad.” e gentleman smiled warmly again and
continued on his way.
e soft bump signaled to Zinn that they had reached their
destination. Ever since leaving home, his nose had been bombarded
by all kinds of new and exciting smells. Smells that had to be left
uninvestigated for now, which left Zinn awfully anxious.
e door opened, and fnally stayed open. “At last!” thought
Zinn, “a chance to explore!”
e opening erupted in a streak of brown fur as Zinn raced out
to investigate the room. e gentleman’s laugh was a familiar sound
in this new environment. It smelled nothing like the bungalow they
came from. No soil or plant smells anywhere except for the potted
plants here.
Running about the quarters was fascinating to Zinn. Few things
in here smelled like what he was used to. Most everything was not
made of wood, but by what the gentleman called plastic or metal. But
there were faint smells coming thought the big screen that air came
through. New and exotic smells.
Zinn raced to the bed where the gentleman decided to take a
nap. Good. He hadn’t been able to rest the entire trip. Zinn, how-
ever, had lots of rest, and was ready to explore. “Now, how to explore,”
thought Zinn.
e mongoose sense of curiosity is well known, and they must
investigate everything that their nose takes attention of. ey also
have very agile paws, almost like human hands. is enables them to
work and handle most objects, such as door controls.
e door wheezed open, allowing some of the odors that Zinn
had sampled on the way here from the shuttle. Zinn peeked out
into the corridor and took notice of the forest of legs moving up and
down.
Racing of along the corridor wall, Zinn followed some of the
more interesting scents. Turning a corridor, he came up to a pair of
maintenance workers making repairs on the air duct. “Aha!” thought
Zinn, “that’s how I can get to some of those interesting smells!”
e maintenance workers missed the streak of brown fur enter-
ing the air duct as Zinn headed for the source of his curiosity. Taking
a turn he followed a strange smell that seemed close. Suddenly the
duct slanted down sharply and Zinn tumbled head over tail down
and through the now open screen.
Standing up he looked around and checked his head for any
wounds. Screams greeted him from a man with a head like the pea-
cock, Nambur’s tail. Deciding that this might not be the best place
to investigate, Zinn charged headlong into the grate and back up the
conduit.
“Mister Garibaldi!” wailed a familiar screech from across the
Zocalo. “Mister Garibaldi!!!!”
Garibaldi turned towards the voice, his shoulders sagging in
resignation. “Yes, Ambassador Molari? What may I do for you?”
“ere is an alien on board this station,” exclaimed the Cen-
tauri.
“Yes, Ambassador,” signed Garibaldi. “In fact, depending on your
standpoint, there are over a quarter million aliens on board. What’s
your point?”
“ere is a dangerous alien running loose in the air ducts!”
Although Londo lowered his voice, it still came across as a screech.
Gesticulating wildly, he continues, “e vermin burst through the
vent in my quarters, looked at me, stood up on its hind legs, bared its
fangs and . . .”
“And?” asked the Security Chief.
“… and saluted me,” came the incredulous reply. Londo seemed
as surprised as Garibaldi at what he said. “It gave me a proper salute.
Not a Centauri salute, mind you, but it was obviously a salute.”
“Uh-huh. en after this ‘salute’, it go into rife drills or some-
thing?” Garibaldi’s eyes lit up restraining the laughter.
“No, then the thing shot back into the air ducts!” replied the
Ambassador, returning to his angry tone.
“Okay and you want me to track it down.” Putting on a serious
face, Garibaldi still had to struggle from chuckling. “Can you describe
it, Ambassador?”
“Yes, of course. It was this high. . . well, it seemed taller at the
time, especially when standing. It was covered all in fur and had huge
fangs.” e Ambassador using his index fngers as an illustration
nearly made the Chief burst out laughing.
“Okay, Ambassador. We’ll see if we can track it down. Mean-
while I suggest you return to your quarters and close your vents. For
the time being,” he added quickly as he turns to leave.
“You do that, Mister Garibaldi,” called after the retreating chief.
“Be sure to take a large weapon after it. Preferably something long
and pointy!” Fortunately the Ambassador couldn’t see Garibaldi’s
shoulders shaking with laughter.
Zinn followed a wide range of odors further down into the
station. e nose of a mongoose works with its brain to sort all the
smells that come across it. ere is someone cooking some strange
food. ere is the smell of something that’s been dead for three days.
And there is . . .
Zinn stopped in his tracks immediately. Sitting up his tail
bushed up and twitched. His eyes gleamed red in the darkness. His
whiskers shook as Zinn realized what it was. It was diferent than
what he was used to, but similar enough to warrant investigation.
Zinn streaked through the vents in pursuit of the scent. So
single-minded was Zinn that he didn’t notice when the air duct
branched of . . . right below his feet!
Zinn tumbled through the air, fnally dropping through the vent
covering and into the corridor below. Chiding himself for his foolish-
ness he started to look about for a way back into the vents. Streaking
around the corner, he nearly stumbled into a fgure that seemed to
take up the entire corridor.
Wearing some kind of hard shell, its head cocked slightly at the
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appearance of the mongoose. Lights on a chest plate fickered while a
strange chime sounded just before it spoke one word. “Adequate.” It
then turned and returned from whence it came.
Zinn decided that investigating the Vorlon would be for a later
date, he had responsibilities to undertake. Finding a nearby open
grate, Zinn resumed after his quarry again.
After following the scent for several minutes, Zinn came up to a
grill that was located in someone’s private quarters. Zinn could hear
them sleeping on the bed, but the scent he pursued did not come here.
Zinn’s instinct told him to wait. Seconds later, the door to the
quarters slid quietly open and a hooded fgure stepped in. e being’s
scent washed over Zinn, vindicating his instincts. As the glare from
the corridor faded, he saw that the hood was actually part of the
creature.
It stepped up to the bed, as silent as death. A claw reached out
and grasped the com and PPG that rested on the bedside table. A
hiss escaped as it opened it’s maw to reveal two long fangs dripping
poison.
e vent cover went fying as Zinn struck the serpent-man
from behind, just below the hood. It screamed in pain and surprise
as it failed to get Zinn of. But Zinn has had experience with cobras,
and knew that he had to hold on with all his might or he might be
fung of and killed by those poisonous fangs.
e noise awoke the occupant who scrambled for his pistol
which had been fung into a corner with the link. “Lights,” he called
and as the computer turned on the lights, he saw a huge reptilian
humanoid, with a broad cobra’s hood finging around the room. Oc-
casionally he caught a glimpse of a small furry form frmly attached to
the back of its neck.
Sheridan looked around for his weapon, and leaped upon it.
e whine of the weapon’s charge was followed by a brief staccato of
super-heated mercury bolts.
e passengers slowly fled into the shuttle, Zinn in his case with
his owner. Handing his paperwork to the steward, he prepared to
board.
“Sir?” Sheridan called out as he rushed to greet his savior’s
owner. “Pardon me, I’m Captain Sheridan. I’m in charge here. Your
little mongoose there is quite a little fellow.”
“Oh yes, Captain Sheridan,” his eyes sparking. “Zinn here has
been my constant companion for many years.”
“Well, I just wanted to thank you both. By the way, what is your
name?” asked Sheridan.
“My name is Rudy, Captain,” he replied as he turned to enter the
shuttle. “Rudy Kipling.”
The Politics of Contraband
By Joe Medina (joemedina@attbi.com)
Section 15: e Politics of Contraband Copyright 2003, Joe
Medina
“Heat ‘em up, kids. Spatial insertion in fve, four, three--”
A jolt of acceleration cut of Nu Leader’s countdown as the
Earthforce cruiser lcm:s jumped back into normal space. Darquin
fipped open the fre control guard and powered up the guns. His
onboard comp declared the weapon systems online.
He sighed into his helmet, shaking his head. He had an instant
sweet spot in his Starfury. But Nu Leader promised she’d bust him if
she caught him playing music. And he was still trying to work of the
big black marks on his record now.
Reverberating, the fghter bays opened onto a rolling starfeld.
Nu Leader’s girlish tones was laying down the law. “Nu Two plus
Four through Six will be our fghter screen. Take position as soon as
we’re clear. Nu ree, you’re my wingman.”
“I’m with ya, boss.” Darquin poked the relevant keys, then
gripped the joysticks. “ELINT online.”
“Stay sharp, people. Launching on XO’s mark.”
As soon as the telltale chirp came over his control boards, the
bay harness fipped open and sent his fghter sailing. Space fowing
around him, points of starlight with smears of glowing indigo and
amber from distant nebulae, he came around to complete the forma-
tion.
He smiled to himself. Even without some tunes, it was perfec-
tion.
Back to work. His targeting screen was sketching out the opera-
tional theater in varying shades of green. Eight bogeys, two capital
ships and six fghters, were fve klicks out. e lcm:s had jumped in
at the perfect angle. A raider ship--a Pak’ma’ra clunker, tweaked way
of the factory specs from the looks of it--was blocking the path of
a Pinnacle-class freighter. And the EarthForce lcm:s was pointing
right at the raider’s belly.
She announced her intentions over the comm for all to hear.
“Earthforce Cruiser lcm:s to raiding party, stand down and prepared
to be boarded.”
Nu Two piped up. “Reading one Pak freighter, weapons hot.
One Pinnacle-class freighter, engines damaged.”
“Bandits at 53 by 114 by 70! Fangs out!” He smirked, adding
under his breath, “All guts, no brains.”
“Roger that,” Nu Leader said. “Paint the weapons on that Pak
freighter. Fighter screen, Battle Sequence A! Give us cover!”
e rest of Nu Squadron peeled of after the bandits, starting
a wave of radio chatter, as Darquin formed up on Nu Leader’s star-
board. His blood was pumping. e gees had nothing to do with it.
Tapping a foot pedal, he pulled up the Pak freighter on his tar-
geting screen. “Boss, we got two beamers on us. Hardpoints aft and
ventral-aft.”
“Confrmed, particle beam--Heads up! Fire in the hole!”
A blinding plasma barrage shot across their eight o’clock, a swift
kick in the Pak raider’s gut courtesy of EarthForce. Darquin braced
himself as the shockwave barreled right on through.
Like all the other pilots in this furball, he was holding his breath.
is whole policing action hinged on a lightning-fast surgical strike.
e lcm:s could’ve easily taken out the raider’s engines, but the
freighter was right behind it. Nobody wanted to see it go foom in the
crossfre. It was up to Nu Squadron.
Darquin checked the raider ship. “Minor damage. Aft weapons
still online.”
“Take aft point. I got the ventral. Fox ree, stand by.”
“Copy, Nu Leader. Locking on.”
As they hit the forward thrusters, an alarm went of on his con-
trol board. He was already moving when she yelled, “Evasive!”
Taking a couple of deep breaths, he sent his ‘Fury twisting. e
gees smacked him like a hail of bricks, even through the suit. Nu
ree and Nu Leader pivoted, breaking into mini-bootlegger turns
as the raider ship jabbed with its particle beams, rotating to face their
targets.
“Re-acquire!”
“Okay, I got mine!” Darquin said.
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“Fox ree, Fox ree!”
He pulled the trigger without hesitation. e missiles sent a jolt
through the cockpit as they fred. He brought himself around, turn-
ing in place and poured on the thrusters before the raider got another
bead on him.
Or the boss. He spun himself around, pointing his plasma can-
nons at the raider ship, his fghter still pulling him away.
“Computer, lock on the raider--”
e shockwave as the missiles exploded rammed him hard. His
restraints tore at him, holding him down, as the cockpit kicked him
like a mule. e navigation stick was fghting him, hammering inside
his gloved fst. On his other hand, he was busy trying to fnesse the
thruster controls on the other joystick without crashing into anything.
Lucky for him, the proximity warnings weren’t going of.
“Guns, guns, guns!” Nu Leader was too busy taking an evasive
to answer. He wasn’t about to wait. He switched to plasma cannons
and pounded the raider’s hull. At worst, it could rattle their gunners
the way they were rattling him.
His readouts confrmed the kill. e raider ship was cutting
power to the emitters. ey were now fragged, crunchy goodness.
e raider was dropping her nose to bring more of her weapons
to bear, leaving the freighter. Both Starfuries hit their afterburners. If
the raiders got stupid, they didn’t want to get caught in the backblast.
“lcm:s to raiding party, our forward batteries are on you. is
is your fnal warning! Stand down or you will be destroyed!”
On the command channel, Darquin heard Nu Leader and the
XO putting everybody on stand by. Waiting. He kept the raider ship
in his sights. On his screens, the other fghters were curling away
from each other, avoiding each other’s kill zones, probably wondering
whether this was a cease-fre or a set-up. Waiting.
At least they’d all made it this far.
e comm crackled. Darquin held his breath.
“Standing down, lcm:s. We’re recalling our fghters now.”
True to their word, the enemy fghters were pulling out. Nu
Squadron tracked them all the way back to the raider ship. When
the last bandit went into the hangar, the command channel rang with
cheers.
Once the commotion died down, Nu Leader picked two fghters
for escort duty of the civilian freighter. Tomás Darquin was one of
them. It was dullsville duty, but what the hell. He got to hang out in
space like a bum.
As the remaining Starfuries formed up on each other, he slipped
a data crystal into the computer.
“Nu Six to Nu ree.”
“I copy, Six. ‘Sup?”
“What’s on the jukebox today?”
“Nylon Oxygen. Some Chun-Bunny, Goofer’s Grey Wanderers,
Dire Straits, SRV....”
“Any show tunes?”
“Lemme see. No, diferent crystal. Sorry.”
“No worries. What else?”
“Some Hendrix. A little U2.”
“A lot of U2.”
“Yeah, yeah. Cry me a river, Jud.”
“Just keep it of the command freq, okay? Or we’re both
screwed.”
“Any requests--”
“Hold on.” e comm crackled as another signal was patched in.
“e boarders are reporting in. ey’re inspecting cargo. e raiders
must have cleaned out the other freighter before we came out of
hyperspace. I...think there’s a problem.”
Darquin made out the grumbling and raised voices over the com-
mand channel. “Sounds like their fun meters are pegged.”
“ey’re taking it all back to the barn. It’s been confscated!”
“Damn. What’d they fnd?”
“Come on.” Judson was bringing his ‘Fury around. “Back to play-
ing escort.”
“Right with ya, on your fve. So what was it? I didn’t catch that.”
“I didn’t either.”
“is is gonna kill me until I fnd out,” Darquin muttered.
e two Starfuries escorted the raider ship back to the emis.
After docking, Darquin soared through the decon scans in record
time. Literally. e zero-g environment made it easy. Judson caught
up with him, pretending to tag along so he could razz him. No, he
wasn’t interested in the mystery package in the cargo hold at all. Re-
ally.
ey drifted into the hold, monitored by a security detail stand-
ing in front of four metallic crates wrapped in translucent sheets,
held down by heavy straps. As Darquin and Judson approached, the
guards glared, not saying a word.
“Hi there.” Judson gave them a wave.
Darquin studied the guards. “How do you guys do that? Hey,
Jud, you see that? Tiniest shrug I ever saw, I swear.”
“It’s okay if we look around...?” He waited. “I’ll take that as a
yes.”
“He did it again? Damnedest thing.”
“Darquin, can we get this over with? Your big mystery, remem-
ber?”
“Yeah, whatever.”
ey let themselves foat around the crates, squinting through
the sheeting.
“What’s all that?” Darquin muttered.
Judson shook his blond head. “No idea. Wait, that looks like
Interlac. at’ll help.”
“Assuming the raiders didn’t scrape some letters of.
Departure...Brifed?” He nodded. “Borthonan. at’s it.”
“Near Kor-Lyan, I think.”
Darquin continued his orbit around the crates, staring. en he
took a frm grip of the sheeting, to steady himself.
“Uh, Darquin? Hey, Sherlock!”
He moved to look back at Judson when he caught a glimpse
of one of the guards reaching for a truncheon. “Sorry, I don’t have
thrusters. Just relax, okay?”
Darquin and Judson watched the guards, trying not to tense. Or
move. Or foat. EarthForce had trained them for zero-g, but never
reviewed the issue of standing still in freefall. Suddenly their records,
probably their health, depended on it.
e security detail continued to stare them down. en the
grunt with the truncheon glided back into position. His buddies
followed suit.
Judson pushed of a supporting beam. “Hurry up. I didn’t get
any doggie treats for....”
Darquin was pointing a thumb at a narrow slit near the top of
the nearest mystery crate.
“What’s that?”
“Little opening, just about eye level? C’mon!”
“If something squirts in your eye, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Jeez, what an old lady.” He craned his neck to peer in.
Judson glanced at the guards. “Well?”
“I need a light.”
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“You should’ve thought of that before you left.”
“You’re gonna be in one of these any minute. I’m this close.”
Judson snickered in his usual way, his voice going up and down
as if singing scales. Only more annoying.
Sighing, Darquin looked around the cargo hold, looking up at
the lights overhead, then down at the ones built into the deck. His
next exhale sounded more deliberate, more determined. “Can you
move over here?”
“Sure.”
“Back a little.” Leaning to one side, he looked into the slot again.
“Half a step back. No, too much. A little to the right--”
“ere’d better not be an anvil over my head or something.”
“Don’t be a--Wait!” He checked the slot. “Oro|c| Right there.”
“What are you doing any--” Judson paused, then chuckled to
himself. “You’re refecting the light of my rank bars. Sharp.”
“And spiky.” ey pretended to high-fve each other from a
distance, but stayed in position.
Darquin turned his attention back to the crate, one step away
from solving this pet obsession. But then the light started fickering,
obscuring the contents of the crate. Darquin glared at Judson behind
him. His peanut gallery kept waving his hand over his rank insignia,
a fendish look in his beady little eyes.
“Nice strobe efect.”
Darquin called out to the guards. “Hey, guys! You want us to
leave before we hit civilized space, right?”
“Fine,” Judson chimed in. “Sorry, couldn’t pass it up.”
He looked back into the crate, shaking his head. In the refected
light he saw row after row of transparent boxes lined in frost. A long
dark shape lay in each one, almost cylindrical, all stacked up like cord-
wood. He was all set to write them of as alien tubers or something.
en he saw the light glint of of tiny, dark eyes, sightless and
staring at him through the frost.
“See anything?”
“Yeah, it...looks like a ferret. Here.” He took Judson’s place so he
could look.
“What the...it’s a mongoose. I think they all are!”
“How can you tell?”
“I’ll show you. Do you see that one? It has--” Judson pointed to
show him, then shook his head at himself. “e ears have black tips
on them. e fur is more or less the right color. I think I see dark
bands on the back of that one over there. It’s hard to tell. Hm, maybe
it’s a meerkat. And the body is the right shape and length. On all of
these.”
“Uh, Mister Mongoose Hunter?” Darquin said, “how do you
know so much about mongoo--Is it mongooses or mongeese?”
“Mongooses.”
“Doesn’t sound right no matter how you say it, does it?”
“You had a question, supposedly.”
“Yeah, since when are you an authority on mon--on the mon-
goose?”
“Kipling and Chuck Jones got me started. Blame them.”
“I will, I will,” Darquin said. “Okay, rewind. What are these for?”
Judson shrugged. “ey might still be alive, but the cryo doesn’t
look sophisticated enough. ey’re kind of preserved and that’s all.”
“So this crate is one big...deep freeze?”
Darquin and Judson exchanged a long, disturbed look.
“Ew.”
“Ayc-yo:-yo:...it’s a mongoose meat locker.”
Judson frowned. “Don’t say that.”
“en what?”
He didn’t have an answer. Instead he hopped of the deck and
drifted away from the crates. He was bugging out, and Darquin
couldn’t blame him.
Instead he threw his hands up in the air, nearly sending himself
into a skid across the deck. He was exasperated, not just with Judson,
but himself, not to mention the whole situation. ere was nothing
immoral about eating a mongoose, at least as far as he knew. Why did
it bother him so much? To him, they were either cartoon characters
or cute little critters you saw at the holo-zoo when you were a kid.
Somehow that didn’t seem like enough to explain it. Lots of animals
are cute, even personable.
He paused when his mind pulled that word out of the air. It led
him to a disturbing thought. As a soldier he was trained to see his
enemy as less human, easier to kill, than himself or any other loser
in his unit. If you listened to everyone from loudmouth DI’s and
big brass to even civvie mass media, survival in combat hinged on it.
e enemy had to be a faceless blank in his head, living strictly in the
abstract. Enemy bad. Splash enemy, good.
Maybe the same applied to food. He couldn’t kill something
named Flufy, not unless it was biting him or something. Where he
grew up, back in the Flagstaf arcology, most people didn’t eat pretty
fowers either. And you didn’t keep an orange around for aesthet-
ics. It was all cultural, practically random. One guy’s cannibal was
another guy’s neighbor.
Darquin gave that thought a derisive snort. It didn’t hold up in
light of stuf like Mad Cow Disease.
“Hey. Are you done in here?”
As the haze of mega-deep thoughts lifted, he found himself
face to face with one of the security guards. He was thick, seemingly
composed of big balls of muscles like a snowman. e name on his
uniform was Ford.
Ford got the same idea, reading the name on the fight suit. “Hey,
Dar-quinn.”
“Dar-keen.”
“Did you hear me or not?”
“Yeah. I think we’re done. Just...a little weirded out.”
“I heard,” the guard said. “So we’re standing watch over some-
body’s dinner.”
Darquin nodded. “Probably lots of dinners.”
e guard pursed his lips. “I left lunch for this.”
“Now this is getting....”
“What.”
“Nah. Forget it. But yeah, I heard ya. All of us rode fre for it
too.”
“Damn straight,” Ford said. “Gromes, Narns, and Centauri are
on my frag list, starting today.” He grinned as he caught the puzzled
look on Darquin’s face. “at’s where they’re going.”
“So these are all going back to them?”
“at’s right. I’ll bet you 20 credits we even have to drop it of.”
Darquin rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, I’m right there with ya.”
at was when Darquin’s idea began to coalesce. “Are
ya?”
“I said so.”
“at you did, that you did.” Darquin glanced around, knowing
full well it made him look more suspicious than if he had just came
out and did or said the slightest, dumbest, very frst thing to come to
mind. He lowered his voice, which probably made him look worse.
Aw, what the hell.
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“Listen,” he said. “What would you say....”
“Say about what.”
“Hypothetically.”
“Are you coming on to me?”
“No. Just listen, okay? Good, now focus. How would you feel
about screwing over the shrock-heads who are supposed to get all this
mongoose meat?”
e guard scrutinized him. “How.”
“Easy. Poetic justice. Make ‘em lose their lunch.”
e guard burst out laughing, nodding with enthusiasm.
Darquin was stunned. Did somebody switch cruisers on him?
is guy was all set to join the Flyboy umping Contest a minute
ago just for someone touched a stupid crate. All of a sudden they
were gelling.
Or maybe he had gone over the edge, just plain Lost It. Yeah, it
defnitely made sense. at explained everything, up to and including
the whacked-out idea his fevered little brain was hatching.
e plan called for some intelligence. Ford had plenty for
starters. According to him, the next sentry watch wasn’t for another
four hours. If they timed it well, they could move before the next
shift could respond. e next question answered itself. Anyone
with enough fight time, soldier or civilian, could tell by sound and
sensation when a ship was in transition between normal space and
hyperspace. Ford and Darquin defnitely qualifed. Getting past the
surveillance cameras, now that was a challenge.
ey waited until the telltale lurch of jump engines punching
a hole into spacetime, then make their move. Ford told the other
guards he was going the ship’s head, and Darquin stuck around to
talk their ears of. Ford’s confdence in Darquin’s ability was a little
stronger than expected. Or wanted.
Meanwhile, as the pilot was distracting the others, Ford snuck
back in and cycled around them until he reached a few junction boxes.
His makeshift sabotage wasn’t enough to knock out the cameras,
but it could set of some interference between them and some choice
hatch control mechanisms. Circuits and chips got burned out or
popped loose all the time.
At the very least, it was bound to mess up video signals. He just
couldn’t guarantee by how much.
Ford then returned to his post, starting the next phase. He put
his jarhead face on and told Darquin to leave. e pilot pretended
to give the grunt a light-hearted but otherwise hard time. Ford went
into his mean-looking statue routine. Seemingly defeated, Darquin
sighed and started foating to the door.
Before he reached the door, red lights were fashing, alarms
shrieking in double time all over the cargo hold. Decompression
warnings.
“Move,” Ford shouted, “get some people on it!”
He keyed his handlink to report when a rumble started shaking
the hold down to its deckplates. e inner hangar doors were yawn-
ing open.
“Go! Get out of here--” Ford shoved the other guards into the
corridor and sent him reeling deeper into the cargo hold.
Behind a bulkhead, Darquin slapped a control pad and the pres-
sure doors came folding out, shutting with a roar, sealing them both
in. He kicked of the wall, grabbing Ford by the leg and bracing his
own against a support beam to brake.
“Great, now what?” Ford shouted.
“Cargo!”
“Right!”
ey sailed straight to the freezer crates, attacking the straps that
held them down. e sheeting over the crates was failing, whipping
at them. Taking frm grips on the straps, they set them and the crates
loose. Together Ford and Darquin swung into the crates, giving each
of them a hard kick. In seconds the freezer crates were tumbling
through the inner hatch, toward the outer hangar.
Ford and Darquin headed for a hatch control panel, one of
several installed near each corner at the cargo hold, and latched onto
a railing on the walls. With a vengeful grimace on his face, Ford
stabbed the hatch controls. If he didn’t get to have lunch, nobody did.
e cargo hold groaned as the teeth of the inner hatch snaked
out of the bulkheads. en came from deep within the outer hangar
a bellow, building like an approaching storm.
Ford and Darquin gaped at each other. e outer doors were
opening too soon.
Swearing, Ford raised a hand to slap the controls. His desperate
thrash knocked him of-balance and sent him fying.
Darquin gasped despite himself. Without a thought he kicked
of the wall and bolted after him. e windstorm was growing, draw-
ing him into a tailspin. at didn’t change his plans. He snatched
a fstful of Ford’s uniform as soon as he was in reach, swinging with
everything he had. Ford went one way. He went the other, between
the converging doors of the inner hatch, toward the outer hatch. Let
Newton sort it out.
As the vacating atmosphere carried him away, he saw a slice of
hyperspace hellfre getting closer. He realized then: is was the
dumbest thing he had ever done.
He fgured he might as well go for an encore. Digging deep he
kicked out and sent himself rolling, slamming face-frst into metal.
He groped, scraped at it, his brain absorbing the metal’s dimensions
long after his limbs were grappling with them.
A metal bar. And a wide fat surface right against it.
A rail. He’d found a rail. It must have been a safety rail for tech-
nicians and dock workers.
He laughed out loud, then he started choking. e burning void
outside was a mean-spirited thief, stealing his breath.
e inner hatch was closing. It didn’t have much time.
He wanted to see how far the railing went, where it led him. He
slunk on it like a worm, dragging himself. e wind was tugging at
him, tearing.
His sight was turning grey. Battleship grey. at just made him
mad. is wasn’t over yet. He knew it. He was close to something.
Come on. Hyperion-class. ere was a short but servicable outer
hangar shielding an inner cargo hold, designed to accommodate
maintenance as well as emergency hull breach scenarios--
Emergency hatch.
He followed the rail to the end and saw the name plate on the
wall, luring him back into freefall damnation. No, they had to make it
easy. ere had to be a release--
He kicked at the space under the name plate. His feet got him
this far. He was thinking about suing them.
e wall let out a hard clack. He stomped on that spot and got
another clack. A lock.
A panel opened with a shrill report. A blast door.
Darquin threw himself at it, bringing his arms and legs in close
long enough to splatter himself all over the wall beyond it. Behind
him, the wall sealed itself with a hard clang of metal on metal.
Passing out seemed like a good idea. At least he didn’t have to
worry about falling in here...or be conscious for the court-martial.
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Peace of Mind
By Bernard Visser (bonzai_bert@ yaboo.ca)
Section 15: Peace of Mind Copyright 2003, Bernard H. Visser
Standing on the fight deck of the Dc|p|:, I never felt so alone be-
fore. Just looking down the deck to space, I feel like I’m on a precipice
in my life… A short while ago, Captain Williamson announced our
ETA to Babylon 5, so after two days of hell I might have a chance to
be free of the madness.
e “experiment”, as far as I can tell, is a fasco. EarthGov had
ordered a new program for trials: we have been assigned a PSI Corps
liaison ofcer to our destroyer. e crew is very nervous now. My
fight mates are envious of my impending return to civilian life. Earth
Force has treated me well, but my departure couldn’t be at a better
time. Or so it seemed, until today…
“Ofcer” Dyson seemed like a decent fellow when he came on
board a few weeks ago. We were told about his observer status on the
ship, and to accord him the respect one would give a dignitary. He
sure asked a lot of questions, and when he got answers, he kept on
prying… I think he’s here looking for “Teeps” who slipped through
the cracks in the system. Anyways, he’s been interviewing the crew,
one by one. e ship’s fight crew are the last bunch subject to what
seems to be more and more like an inquisition… Dyson seems to
pull names almost randomly, but I know my fight commander won’t
allow too much disruption in our routines, so we are given 3 hours
notice beforehand. It seems I’m up next, after we escort the Dc|p|: to
Babylon 5.
My fight mate, Michael, aka “Longshot”, was the second to be
interviewed 2 days ago. He came back to the bunkroom white as a
ghost, all sweaty and trembling. at night, “Jock”, “Piper” and myself
awoke to Michael’s screaming. We took him to sickbay, and haven’t
heard of him since… “Piper” demanded answers from command staf
yesterday morning, and got the run around. After his interview yes-
terday afternoon, “Piper” became very quiet. He’s standing by his Star
Fury right now, avoiding my eyes…
e whole ship is nervous, rumours run rampant day to day,
and with that episode over Michael, everyone on the fight deck is
itching to for the Dc|p|: to get out of hyperspace and into our Furys.
Anything to keep our distance from that Dyson creep… Any moment
now, once the Dc|p|: pops outta hyperspace, we climb in, and take-
of!
“Hey… ‘Mongoose’!”
It’s “Jock” on the com. “Did ya fle your papers yet?”
I look at him, and signal a “thumbs up”. Too bad we’re in our
fights suits, I would’ve said more… Better keep my head down right
now. e refection of the lights in the hangar masked his face behind
his visor, but I could tell from his voice he’s looking for chatter to keep
his mind free of fear.
“Pilots. Prepare for launch.” Ugh. Commander Christopher was
always loud on the COM. I wonder why she didn’t go into singing—
such a great voice!
*Phew.* We’re on a roll now. A pit in my stomach tells me this
may be my last fight. Climbing in I see the fight computer recalibrate
to normal space navigation settings. e Dc|p|: is exiting the gate. We
must be approaching Babylon 5 now…
Babylon 5. I’ve never been there. Captain Williamson promised
us a layover; probably a reward for putting up with Dyson. Smart
man, the crew really needs stress relief!
Okay. We’re of now. All systems check. “Jock” is leading, “Piper”
is behind me, and another trio is set to launch behind us. Man, I love
space! Stars everywhere! 10 years of service fying Star Furys and I
still get a thrill from the freedom of fying…
As the Dc|p|: slows to approach the station, we pull a “U” to the
left and rotate to fank the destroyer. e other three will take the
right fank . My sensors tell me the ship’s in touch with the station. In
a few minutes we’ll do a fy-by as the ship assumes a stationary posi-
tion… at’s interesting, the station’s launched a small greeting party
of Star Fury’s… 4 of them. Protocol I guess.
“Hey. We have friends out here, over.” Jock noticed too.
“Good to see. Right Piper?” I wonder how he’ll respond.
“Look at that station. It’s huge!” Piper seemed to be himself for
the moment.
“Yeah… Impressive. Can’t wait to get aboard, over.” I’m smiling, I
hope they guys feel the same. Babylon 5 :s big. A shining beacon some
say. I believe it!
e station’s Furys halt about halfway between the approaching
Dc|p|: and station. ey rotate to assume a complementary escort
position; I guess we’ll be joined on the last 100 kilometers.
“is is Lieutenant Cortez, in Star Fury 11. Welcome to Babylon
5, pilots, over.” Her cheery voice on the Fury channel is a moment of
brightness.
“Hey. Do we get a chance to mingle?” Jock can be a real cad.
“We heard you’re dropping by. I guess you might get your
chance… Over.” Good, coy answer from Cortez.
We introduce ourselves as they swing around and join us to
escort the Delphi to its allotted position in orbit. e station pilots
seem eager to talk a bit as we maneuver. It seems they are hungry for
news from home. ISN doesn’t cut it with some of them. Piper doesn’t
say much, as if a cloud returns over him. As the ship halts, my atten-
tion glances to a shuttle that launches from the Dc|p|:. e Captain’s
on his way to the station, as expected, and we are instructed to
provide a brief escort. Aside from commands and confrmations, the
Star Fury COM channel is quiet now. Something in my head tells me
Captain Williamson is on his way to the station on matters beyond
the cordial protocols of Earth Force…
As the shuttle enters the gapping red maw of the station’s dock-
ing portal, we cruise onwards along the immense length of the station.
Eight kilometers long I’d say. e sight of it is stunning!
“Holy crap. It’s incredible. I wonder how much it cost?” Jock
again, whistling over the COM in awe.
“More than most mega corps could aford, I bet. Now I really
want to get onboard!” Even though I’m impressed, I am concerned
about Piper’s silence. Cortez and the other station Furys veer of with
salutations and an invitation to drop by during our layover… After
they drop out of our channel, Piper speaks up.
“I don’t think Dyson will let us get onboard for the leave Captain
Williamson promised.”
“What? What are you talking about?” Jock sounded incredulous.
As was I.
“Piper,” I said, as we slowly arced around to return to the Delphi’s
position, “I have an idea. Say no more for the moment. Over and out.”
I contact the ship and ofer to briefy reconnoiter Epsilon III, the
planet around which Babylon 5 quietly orbits, as a matter of security
procedure. Initially Commander Christopher would have denied the
idea, but she was a stickler for procedures, and consented after a mo-
ment of thought…
Within 5 minutes our fight was in close orbit around, Epsilon
III. As soon as we were in the communications shadow of the planet
I urged Piper to speak his mind. I encouraged Jock and the others to
listen up.
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“I-I don’t know for sure, but I think Dyson’s trying to control the
crew…” I almost spun my Star Fury in shock at Piper’s remark.
“You’re nuts man.” Jock was getting irritated, the stress of the last
few weeks started to seep through his voice. “ere’s ro uoy one man,
even a Psi Cop, can mess with the u|o|c crew.”
“No. But he cor mess with the few minds in charge of the ship,”
I said thoughtfully. “ere were a lot of unhappy faces in Earth Force
when Gov announced this exchange program. I’ve heard enough brass
mutter warnings… What did he do to you by the way?”
“I-I don’t remember. He asked a lot of questions. Personal ques-
tions. Probing questions. It felt like a snake slithering up and down
my spine. He’s looking for something too.” Piper was getting jittery.
Or someorc, I thought…
“Something to look forward to, Mongoose!” One of the other
wing pilots piped up.
“Yeah. Some of the other guys on deck said similar things when
they were interviewed…” at was another pilot.
“You’re lucky you’re leaving, Mongoose.” Jock said with a note on
envy in his voice.
“Yeah. Could be.” I was wondering now if things would go my
way…
We chatted some more about our doubts and concerns until we
left the planet’s “shadow” and arced across the stars towards the Dc|p|:
dwarfed by the station, we kept radio silence until the ship requested
our return to the fight deck.
“I don’t want to go back!” Piper suddenly cried out. He immedi-
ately veered of and headed for the gate full throttle.
“Hey. What are you doing! Piper! Piper!” Jock yelled out. He was
just as upset, I could tell. I had a sinking feeling. First Michael, now
Piper?
“Piper, you’ll ruin your career! Turn back man!” I was not about
to let a colleague and friend mess up.
Piper refused to respond. We were immediately hailed by the
Dc|p|:. Commander Christopher barked an order for Piper to return
to the ship. Piper, uttered an expletive and closed his COM.
“Star Fury 8 and 12. You are to pursue and intervene, over.” at
was Commander Christopher addressing Jock and me. “Other pilots
return to base.”
“Roger that Dc|p|:, over.” I said. Jock responded in the afrma-
tive too.
We careened of to follow Piper, as the others cruised home.
“Piper! What do you think you’re doing? You’re not equipped
to wander hyperspace in a Star Fury. Man, you’ll be lost forever out
there!” Jock was trying to get through to him too.
“Piper. Listen to me. Your life isn’t worth sacrifcing over the fear
of Dyson. He’s just a Psi Cop. You have all of Earth Force to back you
up if you want redress.” I knew he could still listen to us…
“Back me up? After what happened to Michael? Where’s he
now?” Piper screamed back. e madness of the last few weeks was
taking its toll again.
Piper’s Fury roared closed to the gate… We could barely keep up.
en a new voice chimed in.
“is is Lieutenant Commander Ivanova from Babylon 5. Dc|p|:
you have a Star Fury attempting the gate. Is there a problem?” She
sounded puzzled, no doubt broadcasting on all our channels.
“Lieutenant Commander Ivanova, this Commander Christopher,
we have matters in hand.”
“We have not received a signal to open the gate for your Star
Furys.”
“Open it, Lieutenant Commander.”
“By whose order, Lieutenant Commander? I have no authoriza-
tion at this time.” She sounded even more perplexed. Obviously the
Lieutenant Commander on the station was not one to be trifed with;
there are proper channels to follow.
“Lieutenant Commander Ivanova, this is Star Fury 8. If you open
the gate we will not be able to rescue our fight man safely. Please keep
it closed.” I crossed my fngers, hoping good sense would prevail. Odd
that Commander Christopher would exacerbate the situation for
Piper by letting him cross into hyperspace…
Dyson! It hit me, I don’t know how I know but I’m sure he’s at
Christopher’s side right now. at murderous spider!
“Should we knock out his boosters?” asked Jock.
“e range is too far for a good shot I think.”
“A rescue team is on its way, Fury 8, over,” announced Lieutenant
Commander Ivanova.
“Roger, Babylon 5. We’ll continue pursuit as long as we can.” I
now wonder what’ll happen to Piper…
We continued a stretch further, trying our best to close in on
Piper, while Ivanova and Christopher started arguing about jurisdic-
tion. Ivanova won. Good!
Just then, the gate opened to expel a civilian ship, a freighter.
Piper’s Fury screamed on towards the gate, hoping to slip past no
doubt.
“Piper! Stop, man, you’ll get killed!” I called out, time running
out down to the seconds now. I swore to myself that Dyson would
pay a price for this!
“Man. If he goes into the gate against the polarity he’s toast!”
cried Jock. “We gotta shoot now!” Two bolts of white blaster fre
erupted from Jock’s Fury. Just as Piper’s Fury passed the freighter.
ey missed, thankfully; Jock forgot he could have damaged the gate
too.
Piper few on… right into the collapsing feld of the gate. e
electromagnetic backwash of the gate energy fried his power and
tossed his Fury aside like a child’s toy. It veered wildly aside and
slammed into immense armature of the gate’s left power channel.
Piper, and his Fury, dissolved silently into sparks and fragments…
Jock and I swooped by the outer perimeter the gate where Piper
lost his life. e COM channels were quiet, save for the angry ques-
tions of the freighter captain wondering why there were explosions
behind his ship.
EarthForce protocol requires accident investigations be adminis-
tered by command staf separate to those involved, so I am sitting in a
shuttle with Jock on our way to B5.
When we returned to the Dc|p|:’s fight deck, there were many
somber and worried faces from our colleagues. Commander Chris-
topher was in conference by COM with Captain Williamson, so
Lieutenant Commander Shane, our immediate fight commander,
debriefed us. Shane informed me that my interview with Dyson was
suspended until further notice. I sensed some satisfaction on his part
when he saw the relief on my face. Jock just knowingly glanced over to
me at the time. Shane then informed us that we were grounded until
this all blew over, but it was up to Commander Christopher what
was to happen next, either an inquiry held on the Delphi, or on B5. I
could see the sadness cross Shane face when the debriefng was over.
Poor Piper.
Now in the shuttle, I am wondering what words were shared
between Christopher and our Captain. It seems the station’s com-
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mander would be in charge of the inquiry tonight or tomorrow.
“Hey Mongoose, what’s in the package?” Jock asked, breaking the
gloomy silence between us.
“I’m not sure.” I looked at the plastic envelope in my hand.
“Shane gave it to me just before boarding. It’s timed to release its lock
by midnight, local time I think. en I am to read it Shane said.”
“What do think it is?”
“Data logs from what happened I bet.” I wasn’t sure though.
“Well, if it can damn Dyson, I’ll be happy.”
“Me too.” I don’t think we would have been so free to speak if we
weren’t alone in the shuttle’s passenger deck.
“Longshot, Piper, and then who else?” Jock sighed running his
hand through his blond hair.
“Well, we don’t know that Longshot’s dead, Jock. All we know is
he is in medical isolation on the Dc|p|:.”
“But his status is kept secret. Is this to avoid too many questions?
Ever since Dyson came on board there has been a shutdown in com-
munications between the crew and the command staf. Secrets don’t
help morale, Mongoose.”
“But sometimes they save lives…” I don’t know why I said that;
it just came to me. Jock looked at me in silence for a moment and lay
back in his fight couch.
Quiet ruled the remained of our trip to B5.
In service to EarthForce one usually has little direct contact with
aliens. When we boarded at the customs gate on the station, Jock and
I were amazed by all the aliens before our eyes. I guess civilians are
more used to this. ere were Brakiri, Centauri, Drazi, and several
others I had never seen before. Our arrival must have been expected;
a young ofcer from station security greeted us, and she led us by the
crowds, smiling at our wonder. She then escorted us to our quarters.
“Lieutenant Commander Ivanova will be contacting you shortly,
welcome to Babylon 5 gentlemen.” She smiled again and left as the
door to our room swung shut. We looked around the room, it was
small and set for up to four persons—typical of the Spartan facilities
commonly awarded to EarthForce personnel. Jock immediately threw
his overnight bag on a bed and disappeared into the privy.
Glancing now at the COM screen on a wall near the door, I am
wondering if I should contact home. ere’s time now, and we are
technically of duty…
e COM snapped on just then.
“In coming priority message.” e BABCOM voice chirps
smoothly. e image of a dark haired man in black uniform material-
izes.
Dyson.
“Good to see you are safe on the station Mr. Kennedy. I presume
you and Mr. Ward will rest well after such a terrible outcome earlier
today?”
“I’m sure we will.” He’s not getting any reaction from me now.
“I am sorry we weren’t able to follow through on our interview
Mr. Kennedy. I’m sure you would have appreciated the opportunity
to get that out of the way from interfering with your duties. However,
events have conspired to delay things, and I fnd my time is rather
pressed.”
“I’m sure you’ll have your chance Mr. Dyson.”
“Indeed, it seems that since you are technically of duty, I am
pleased to inform you that my jurisdiction has expanded. As you
know, we Ofcers of PsiCorp have our roles to fulfll, and we are less
restrained in a civilian environment than a military one.”
“What do you mean?” I try not to show alarm.
“Well, I’ve been notifed that the hearing regarding the accident
earlier today will be held tomorrow morning, Babylon 5 time, so I am
at liberty to see you beforehand.”
“I see” Not if I can help it… “When should I expect you?” I smile,
insincerely of course. He returns the same, his steely dark eyes intense
with expectation.
“Your enthusiasm is heartening, so many of your crew mates
have been rather recalcitrant. You should expect me within the hour
Mr. Kennedy.”
at means he’s on his way or already on the station!
“I believe we are not to leave our quarters until the inquiry, so-”
“Oh, arrangements have been made. See you shortly, Mr. Ken-
nedy!” With one last smirk the image of Dyson snaps to darkness.
I swear profusely.
“I just saw that.” Jock commented from the back of the room.
His face pale with fear, Jock looked at me questioningly.
“I have to delay this somehow.” I’m sure my face didn’t look any
calmer than his.
“We can’t leave Mongoose.”
I walk over and open the door.
“Well, they obviously trust EarthForce personnel, ‘cause the coast
is clear…”
“Where will ya go?”
“Well, this is a big station…” Talking over my shoulder from the
door.
“Well… let’s go explore!” Jock was smiling genuinely, obviously
content to do something rather than mope all night.
“Hand me that envelope, and let’s go!”
It was a good thing Jock reminded me that we should change
into the civilian clothes Shane suggested we take with us, for within
moments of entering a main passageway in what is know as Blue
Sector, we walked right by two Psi Cops. We turned down another
corridor walked quickly to where we thought we’d fnd some tourist
information.
“at was close!” Jock tried not to show his anxiousness.
“Yeah.” I exhaled slowly. “Okay. I’ve got four hours before I can
open this fle. We need to loose ourselves somewhere…”
We politely ask for directions from a station security ofcer,
and get to a terminal. In short order we decide to visit a place called
Zocalo… Conveniently enough a transport tube was adjacent to our
location. We join a few others and found ourselves in Red Sector
within minutes.
Stepping of the tube we were immediately surrounded by a host
of aliens and humans. Words escape me if one were to ask me what
we saw before us. e Zocalo is a huge gathering of peoples. e
noise and exotic scents of goods and wares were beyond anything I’d
ever experienced before.
“I think we can spend a good while here, Jock.” I smiled.
“Is there a casino near here?” Jock was always the gambler in our
crew.
“Ya, we can check that out too.”
We barely step forth into the Zocalo when a Brakiri merchant
calls out to us to ofer his trinkets for a good deal. Ignoring him we
wander into the crowd…
It’s amazing how time passes when you are distracted. While
looking over some exotic goods ofered by a fellow human who was
enthusiastically explaining the latest in personal entertain systems
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from Earth, Jock tugged my anxiously sleeve and gestured to a BAB-
COM channel on a nearby wall.
Mug shots of Jock and I were being broadcast all over now. My
heart turned very cold. We were made to look like criminals!
“is is madness!” I exclaimed. e merchant was oblivious to
my alarm.
“Pardon me?” He looked confused.
Jock shoved me aside of the merchant’s stall out of sight. “We
have to get back!” He whispered urgently.
“You go. I’ll move on. I got you into this mess.”
“Yeah, and fight mates don’t abandon each other!” He looked
hurt and angry.
“You’re right. We didn’t abandon Piper… Okay…” I look around.
“Ya know those traveling cloaks we saw earlier?”
Jock nodded.
“Let’s get busy.”
Jock and I decided to split up. He agreed it would draw less sus-
picion. So we settled on meeting at a place called e Zen Gardens,
deep in the hydroponics area of Green Sector. e cloaks with the
large hoods we purchased were apparently of Minbari origin, so we
fgure that might help too.
I wished Jock luck, he returned the sentiment and we parted. I
found a transport tube to the Core Transport Shuttle platform in Red
Sector. As luck would have it, a group of Minbari were boarding it. I
stepped in right under the nose of the station security who didn’t pay
much attention to the Minbari. at was close! I never thought I’d
meet a Minbari, but life has its twists and turns. Since the war we had
with them I still feel very awkward about them, but my own plight
drives me to extremes I never expected.
e Minbari took little notice of me until I boarded the Core
Transport Shuttle…
“Brother… We have not met before.” A Minbari lowered his cowl
and looked into my eyes. e jig was up!
“I’m just a traveler.” I lowered my own hood and saw I was alone
with 5 Minbari. Damn, I should have been paying attention more!
“A human. I am Lennier. Where are you traveling to?” Two other
Minbari started whispering to their compatriots.
“A garden.” What a strange thing for me to say.
“at can be a wise choice for some,” smiled Lennier. What a
strange thing to hear!
“What garden do you seek?” Lennier seemed to be a spokesman
for this troop.
“A Zen garden.”
He smiled again. “e Zen Garden? A human place we much
appreciate here. We are going there too.”
I smiled a bit. “I hope you don’t mind if I follow.”
“You are welcome to join us for a time there,” nodded Lennier.
“ank you.” I nodded in return. Might as well be polite with
them.
Once the core shuttle shot out into the open core of the station
I witnessed the amazing view of it’s wide open interior. Above and
below, slowly rotating around us, were the felds, forests and farms
that fed this station. Incredible.
“You are new here?” asked Lennier, obviously aware of my focus
on the immense view.
“Yes.” Better not say too much!
We arrived at the Zen Garden with little attention to us with our
hoods up. Station security seemed light here, and those that were on
duty were occupied with various tasks. e garden itself was empty as
we stepped into it. Again I couldn’t resist looking at the fantastic view
of curved terrain around me. Now it was a matter of time before Jock
would show up. I hope he’s not going to freak out about the Minbari
here. His father died in Earth’s war with the Minbari. So far he’s kept
his cool…
“What is your name?” Lennier addressed me again as we were
walking into the garden area. I don’t know why I expected plants here,
having heard of the Zen garden concepts on Earth, of course there
were none. We were surrounded by carefully placed stones, benches,
sand and a discrete fountain at one side. Peaceful.
“Mr. Smith.”
Lennier looked at me. “One of the tenants of faith is Truth, Mr.
Smith. I’m sure, like most humans I have met, you would agree.”
“Perhaps it Truth that I’m in search of.”
“en join us as we meditate upon this. Be at peace Mr. Smith.”
Lennier led us to a sandy spot that had several fat stones in
a circle to sit upon. We settled down and a Minbari female named
Shal’an hummed quietly to set the mood for everyone. I kept my cowl
up and placed the envelope I had to my side.
e strangeness of the situation didn’t last long though; the
sound of running feet echoed for the hall outside the garden area. e
Minbari seemed oblivious at the moment.
It was Jock, out of breath, and glancing warily over his shoulder.
“Mongoose!” He whispered loudly. I don’t think he saw me; he
looked confused by the group of Minbari sitting in the garden.
Before I could react, there were more running feet and a cry of
halt from the corridor. I heard the telltale sound of a PPG charging.
Jock moved to run into the garden. A shot fred and he went down,
tumbling into the sand and stone. e Minbari jumped up defensive-
ly, shocked and angry at the violent interruption. ey rushed over to
where Jock lay, and I followed to get to his side.
“D-Dyson.” He gasped lying on his side. He saw my face under
the cowl. He was scared and badly hurt.
“Jock. What-“
“I-I think he got into m-my head. ey must have followed me!”
He passed out after that.
Just then two Psi Cops appeared at the door, demanding every-
one to stand aside. Dyson stepped up behind them.
“Well, we found one…” A satisfed smirk crossed his face when
he spied Jock on the ground.
“Shal’an, be ready,” whispered Lennier tersely behind me.
Dyson surveyed the group 10 meters before him. “Many apolo-
gies to our Minbari friends. We have been looking for this criminal
for quite some time. If you would be so kind, step aside and we will
remove him for your safety.”
Just then a tiny sound chirped behind us all.
e envelope!
I turned carefully to walk back and pick it up. I felt something…
“Halt!” It was Dyson’s voice.
I stopped without turning to face him. I could hear the Minbari
step aside as the boots of a Psi Cop stepped noisily upon the sand and
stones behind me.
“You are not Minbari are you? Mr. Kennedy!” sneered Dyson. He
was very close behind me now.
With a frm tug he pulled down the hood.
“Yes. Indeed you are not… What’s there?” e envelope kept
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chirping…
He stepped past me and picked up the package. Lennier was
looking very carefully at me, as was the Minbari Shal’an.
“Well, well, Mr. Kennedy what do we have here? An EarthForce
document.” He opened the envelope. I moved to grab it from him but
he was far enough away to pull his PPG out.
“Not so fast, Mr. Kennedy. I will confscate this as evidence. Sto-
len data? Perhaps this is a fraudulent document? Or perhaps it never
was worth reading…”
e anger within me, hit critical mass; I started shaking, know-
ing any other action could spell my demise at gunfre.
“It’s addressed to me Dyson, not you!”
“Well, since you are in my custody now, whatever is yours is now
property of Psi Corps. We have time; let’s have a quick look… Oh, I
can tell right away you won’t be needing this.” e snake smiled as he
closed the envelope and stepped before me, by now one of his troop-
ers was at my side clamping cufs to bind my wrists. “I think it’s time
for our interview Mr. Kennedy. You can be sure it will be a thorough
one.”
Dyson patted my shoulder in a patronizing manner. I finched
as I suddenly felt another mind burrow into my head. A gasp was ut-
tered from one of the Minbari, I couldn’t hear who it was. Everything
cleared out again.
Dyson spun to face the Minbari. “You would do well to stay out
of human afairs.” He was suddenly very angry with them. As I looked
over to them while I was led up to the exit, I noticed Shal’an and Len-
nier were engaged in urgent whispers.
“Pick up that one there,” ordered Dyson to the other ofcer
regarding Jock, then he looked at me. “is should be most interesting
Mr. Kennedy.”
“Interesting for you, Sir. But you’ll have to wait!” At the same
time, some Minbari gasped in surprise.
At the top of the Garden entranceway to the corridor beyond,
stood an EarthForce executive ofcer fanked by three station security
ofcers on each side. She was not at all prepared to give anyone
ground.
“Pardon me Lieutenant Commander Ivanova. I-”
“I don’t think you will be going anywhere with our personnel Mr.
Dyson.”
“He is my responsibility now, Lieutenant Commander.”
“Not on Babylon 5!” Four more station security ofcers joined
behind us from another entrance. Dyson was thoroughly surrounded.
“By whose order?”
“What you are holding in your hand…”
Dyson opened up the envelope again. As he did so Lieutenant
Commander Ivanova stepped forward and smugly showed that she
too held a similar envelope. For a moment I caught her glancing at
Lennier. Do they know each other?
“Lieutenant Commander, we would like to leave you to matters
at hand.”
It was Lennier. She nodded, and the Minbari walked out of the
garden without hindrance from the station security ofcers.
“What the devil?” Dyson was not pleased with the contents of
the documents he read. He glared at me. “It looks like you have a few
friends in high places Mr. Kennedy—for now!” And threw my papers
to the ground.
As Dyson stomped of in disgust, followed by his two goons,
Ivanova stepped before me with two ofcers at her side. ey released
me from the cufs. Two others lifted Jock of the ground.
Looking at me, she called out to the Psi Cops, “when you leave,
Dyson, don’t let the door slam your behind.”
e sense of relief was intermingled with in trepidation. What
wrath must I face from her having technically breached protocol
regarding my role here?
She looked at me… “You are one hell of a lucky man, Lieutenant
Kennedy!”
I was aghast. I’m not a Lieutenant… am I?
A short time later I was permitted a chance to look over the
docs I was issued. Pleased with the contents, I sought out Jock in the
station’s Medlab early in the next morning. He was conscious and
recovering well.
“… And furthermore, be it known that immediately upon the
cessation of your duties with the Dc|p|:, you will report to Lieutenant
Commander Susan Ivanova for briefng regarding your promotion
to Lieutenant on Babylon 5. ere upon you will assume the role of
Chief Flight Instructor of Beta Squadron efective immediately…”
Jock was stunned as I read out the promotion.
“But I thought you were quitting?”
“Well, I felt I was due a promotion, and let it be known that I
was also considering a return to civilian life. I told Shane, well before
that creep Dyson came aboard, of my hopes and intentions. Shane
knew I was due for a change, and he said EarthForce would miss me.
He challenged me on my love of fying Star Furys. ‘How could you
give that up?’ he demanded.”
“Mongoose, everyone on the Delphi knows you wouldn’t give
it up!” Jock genuinely smiled, and gave a “thumbs up” with a wink. “I
would go for it if I were you!”
“Little could Dyson do about anything as I was considered
EarthForce assigned to B5 at the stroke of midnight--with the option
to refuse the promotion within 24 hours if I felt diferently.” Jock
laughed at that.
“I think you would do well here on Babylon 5, Lieutenant Ken-
nedy.”
I turned around to see Lennier at the doorway to the recovery
room. Shal’an was next to him.
“You quite fortunate to have Shal’an around. She’s one of the
gifted few of us who could intercede.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
Lennier stepped forward a bit and looked at me. ere was
an awkward pause; I glanced at Jock, and looked at Lennier again.
“Shal’an was able to shield you as soon as she discovered there’s more
to you than even you realize ‘Mr. Smith’.”
Lennier almost smirked upon mentioning that pseudonym. “You
have great potential. Someday you will discover, that it was fortunate
Ofcer Dyson never found out!”
Downtime
By J. Wbiting
Section 15: Downtime Copyright 2003, J. Whiting
Walking slowly, simply because the density of the crowd down
here in the markets was making her, she makes her way over towards
the stall she’d visited just a week before. Weaving round people, and
covering almost twice the distance she would have done if the place
was empty. However, despite the fact that she’s only got a short time
before she has to be back on the ship, she welcomes the crowd, know-
ing she’s less likely to be spotted making the purchase than if the place
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was empty.
As a large group of shoppers spill out of one of the less reputable
establishments, after clearly having too much to drink with their
afternoon meal, she’s forced to stop and wait for them to get out of
the way. Even were she dressed in her Ranger uniform, she doubts
they’d have paid it much heed. Leaning against the wall, she checks
her chronometer, not wanting to have to explain herself should she
delay the ships departure.
Finally, after almost fve minutes, the group of companions has
organized itself enough so that she can slip past them, lengthening
her pace a little to try and make up some of the lost time. Her slender,
but muscular, legs propelling her along, aided somewhat by the look
on her face, dispersing those people who catch a glimpse of it. Not
that she looks angry or anything, just determined to get where she’s
going; she has the look of someone who’s rather confdent in them-
selves about her, a look that parts the crowds like the bow of a ship.
With this new pace, she soon makes it to her rendezvous with
the Minbari trader, the only person she’d been able to fnd on the
station specializing in somewhat exotic accessories. However, she
once again has to wait whilst the trader fnishes serving his current
customer. Only once this is done does she step over to the stall, slip-
ping inside the shadows beneath its awning.
Wasting little time on pleasantries, she gets straight to the point.
“I got the message you left me. You say you have the gloves?”
Chuckling softly, “My, you’re in a rush today, you ought to take
things a little more slowly, something might catch your eye.” ough
upon seeing the look on her face, he gets to the point, “Yes, I have the
gloves you wanted, though they didn’t come cheap.” He reaches under
his makeshift counter, and produces a slender box, which he places in
front of her. “You want to try them on?”
She shakes her head, “No, I’m sure they’re a perfect ft, that’s one
of the reasons why I came to you in the frst place.” She places one
hand on the box, the other going to her pocket, reaching for her credit
chip. Placing the single use stick into his hand whilst scooping up the
box, “Nice trading with you, maybe I’ll require something else from
you one day.” is said, she turns and walks of again.
Her return trip is a little slower, not just because of the crowd,
she’s forcing herself to walk a little slower lest her excitement get
the best of her and she arrives back at the ship looking disheveled.
It wouldn’t be seemly for someone of her position to look rumpled
and fustered, even if it was just from a brisk walk back, certainly not
with the things that are going on inside her mind. Oh, how glad she is
that there are no known telepaths in the crew that she’s part of. Even
though they’d break all sorts of rules by looking at that, she’s sure
that some of them would gladly take the punishment just for a few
seconds worth of her thoughts.
Still weaving between the crowds, without really thinking about
it, she reaches the lift back up to the docking area. Stepping inside,
she enters her destination, and the once more leans against the wall
as she waits. e anticipation of actually taking a look inside the box
building to an almost unbearable level, as she’d deliberately not done
so out in public, this was something she wants to save for her private
quarters.
With a slight jolt, she’s brought back to the here and now as the
lift stops, it’s doors opening so she can step out into the docking area.
Once more, she starts walking, making her way out to the docking
pylon reserved for the Rangers, and their Whitestars. e private
docking area was both a boon and a bane at times, it’s nice and out of
the way, so that the number of random people in the area is reduced
to a minimum, but at the same time there’s no direct lift there from
the market areas, meaning a somewhat considerable trek. Not many
of the others seem to mind though, as all the ofcial supplies are
brought up in the service lifts.
However, as before, the walk back passes in somewhat of a
blur, her mind on the contents of the box, and all the things she has
planned for them. Her thoughts venturing down a few of the paths
presented, but always turning back before she reaches the point where
her thoughts would start to become noticeable to the few engineers
busy with whatever it was engineers were doing out here at the mo-
ment. It was hard to tell at times, what with all the grease and oil that
many of them seem to be constantly covered in.
Finally reaching the docking ring once more, she opens the frst
door of the lock and slips inside. Closing that door behind her, and
then waiting for a moment before opening the inner door. Sure, they
were docked at the impressively large Babylon 5, but they were still a
cautious group of people. Especially whilst only here for a short stay,
which was why they’d used one of the few docking rings rather than
just landing down in the main bay.
After slipping through the inner lock, she pads almost silently
down the corridor, nodding to those few people that she passed, and
guessing that everyone else was making the best of the brief time that
they were here on the station. ough she does wish that her request
for some proper shore leave had been granted, but even if she was
stuck aboard the ship, she still had a few days to herself before most
likely being put to work on some obscure fle someone managed to
dig up from the data networks.
Ah, it wasn’t a bad life, really, and she’d certainly found some
other uses for her skills in data retrieval. It still surprised her some of
the things the crew asked her to try and de-scramble, but the long list
of owed favors was certainly pleasing. inking of this, she gives the
little pocket on the inside of her uniform a little pat. at’s where she
kept her more private data crystals, tucked away inside her clothes so
people couldn’t fnd them accidentally. Something she did both for
her own peace of mind, and to protect all those who she’d done jobs
for in her spare time. Yet, at the same time, she also had copies of the
crystals stashed in a safe box at one of the more reputable storage
companies on the station.
Feeling the reassuring shape of the crystals pressing against her,
she lets her mind wander again. Going over a few of the things she’d
been asked to de-scramble, in particular the fle she was working on
at the moment. One of the younger members of the crew, though
she couldn’t recall his name, had brought it to her a few days before.
e fle was badly garbled, but the fact that it just appeared to be text
made things much easier, and she’d already managed to recover some
fairly substantial parts of what appeared to be a story, though there
were also still some rather large chunks missing, including most of the
end of the fle.
Still lost in her thoughts about the fle, she reaches the door to
her cabin, and lets it slide open before stepping into her own private
world. In here she could do what she wished, and work however she
preferred. Yet working is the last thing on her mind. Once the door’s
shut behind her, and she’s made sure it’s locked, she walks over to her
work console and sets the box down on it. Running her fngers over
the top before slipping them down to the catches and unfastening the
box.
Holding her breath, she slowly lifts the lid, letting it tilt back
on its hinges. ere, nestled into the liner of the slender box, is the
pair of fur gloves she ordered. But it’s not just any fur, oh no, this is
mongoose fur, something she’s always had a liking for, ever since being
fascinated by the creatures when she was younger. Letting go of the
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lid, she trails her fngers over the smooth fur, mming a little at the
feeling.
Glancing round, as though expecting half the crew to have just
materialized inside her cabin, she reaches down and takes the gloves
out of the box. Just holding them in her hands for a few moments as
she luxuriates in the feeling, enjoying the softness of the fur against
her hands. Before long, she’s slipping her fngers into them, trying
them on for the frst time. Sure enough, the gloves are a perfect ft,
just as she thought they would be. e thin fabric clinging to the
contours of her hands, ftting almost as well as a second skin, but with
enough left over so that clenching her fsts doesn’t pull the gloves too
tight over her hands.
Unable to resist, she trails the tips of two fngers over her cheek,
brushing the soft fur covered gloves over them, and bringing a smile
to her face for the frst time that day. “Hmm, now these were certainly
worth every credit. Soft enough to enjoy yet supple enough to work
in.” It’s a bad habit, she knows, talking to herself, but there are times
when it’s just too difcult to control the urge to do so.
Leaving one hand resting against her cheek, just cupping it with
the glove, she uses the other to move the box. Tossing it onto her
compact bed for the moments, until she can fnd somewhere else to
put it. en she sits down at her console, intending to try out the
gloves for what she’d originally bought them. e softness of the fur is
just an added extra.
Slipping out her data crystal, the one that she keeps all her cur-
rent projects on, she slips it into the provided slot and then brings
up the fle that the young crewmember had brought to her. Scanning
though the document, she starts at the top, intending to try and fnish
the few paragraphs that she’d been able to partially rebuild. Once
she fnds her place, she reads as she works, making sure that what’s
already been de-scrambled makes sense before moving on.
S|c… |::cro||y áorc so :j suc| :|:rgs ucrcr’: jrourcá upor. Orcc
sojc|y :r… s|c |oc|cá :|c áoor. cvcr go:rg so jor os :o árog… s|c |oo|s
rourá |cr room. os :|oug| |o|j…oppcorcá u|:|s: s|c uos áco|:rg u::| :|c
áoor. I:rá:rg :|o: :|:s :sr’: :|c… orá hops áour or |cr ocá. |cr roocs
jo||:rg s|:g|:|y opcr :o rcvco| o jo:r por::or oj… os s|c áocs so.
S::::rg |cgs… :|c cágc oj :|c ocá. |cr… á:scorácá orá |oy:rg or :|c
hoor. s|c :uc|s |cr roocs :r:o |cr |op. l:s pu||s :|cm… u|::c soc| c|oá
jcc:. orá … |cr soc|s. C|cor|y. :|c room :s uorm croug| jor |cr :o ro:
oo:|cr pu||:rg |cr roocs ooc| :r:o p|occ. somc:|:rg :|o: s|c’á….
Orcc s|c’s :r pos:::or s|c p|occs :|c… :o suppor: :: os s|c opcrs ::.
lc covcr. v:s:o|c jor :|c |rs: ::mc. oppcors :o oc rcá |co:|cr. u::|… go|á
|c::cr:rg upor :|c jror:. Houcvcr. ory o:|cr uorás orc ooscurcá os…
:r:roáuc::or :o :|c ooo|.
No: |rá:rg u|o: s|c’s |oo|:rg jor :r :|c :r:roáuc::or… s:or:s :urr-
:rg pogcs. S|:mm:rg :|roug| :|c pogcs. s|c g|orccs o: :|c :::|c… c|cu:rg
or |cr oo::om |:p os s|c gc:s jur:|cr :r:o :|c… |cr s|ou|ácr uou|ár’: :c||
you u|o: s|c uos |oo|:rg o:. you’á ¡us: scc pogc oj:cr pogc oj sou:gg|y…
:|o: oppcor :o movc orá rcjorm :|cmsc|vcs… :|cm.
Deciding that everything recovered so far makes sense; she de-
cides to read on, something within her wanting to know what exactly
the girl in the story is up to. e book certainly doesn’t sound like the
sort of thing you see every day, but that said she’s never seen many
physical books about the station. Her fngers hover over the few con-
trols she needs, mainly just the text scroll button, so she lets her free
hand rest on the desk, her fngers almost absentmindedly stroking her
forearm as she scans through the text.
Drawing little patterns on her skin as she reads the fragmented
text. However, every now and then, she fnds a group of paragraphs
that have been fully recovered, even though she’s not actually had
chance to proof read them yet. Upon reading the frst of these her
breath catches in her throat. ere, the teenager who’d been sat with
the book in her lap, was now naked and being pleasured by someone.
Frustratingly, she couldn’t tell who was doing the pleasuring, that part
of the story was too fragmented to read.
Reading on, now unable to stop herself even if she wanted to,
the sexual activity in the story calling to something inside her. Even
though she wasn’t generally that way inclined, the story, or those
bits of it that aren’t heavily fragmented, is causing an unmistakable
tingling sensation inside of her. It doesn’t take much longer before the
idly stroking of her fngers changes to a much more noticeable caress-
ing, as she continues reading the story.
However, long before she reaches the last of the sections she’s
done some work on, her comm. beeps and she leans over to answer it.
Sounding slightly irritated as she says, “hello?”
“Hi Jen, did you forget about our little get together this after-
noon?”
Smiling as she recognizes the voice of her only real friend here on
the ship she gives a light nod, “I’m sorry. Want me to come down and
join you now? We’ve not lost all that much time.”
“Sure, just be ready to get a beating, I’m on good form at the mo-
ment. See you in a few, right?”
Giggling a little at her friend’s confdence she replies with, “I
think it’ll be you getting the beating, but yeah, I’ll be down in a mo-
ment. Just got to sort something out frst.” Hitting the of button,
she quickly dumps everything back onto her data crystal and tucks it
away with the others. However, she then slips the little pouch from
inside her clothes and stashes it under her pillow, not wanting to risk
having them damaged whilst sparing with her friend.
at done, she grabs her small gym bag and heads down to the
small area set aside for training and recreation. A slight spring in her
step even though she doesn’t really want to be away from her work. It
doesn’t take her long to get there, and she spots Sarah as soon as she
walks into the room. “Hi, sorry again about forgetting this.”
Still stretching a little, to warm herself up she shakes her head,
“Oh, don’t worry about it. I fgured you’d be tucked away working
with those fles of yours. But you need to get out girl, do more than sit
on your rear all day.”
Joining her friend in stretching she nods, “I know, I know, but
you know what I’m like when it comes to work. Even if it is only a
private project for some young member of the crew.”
“at’s true, you always seem to have yourself sat in front of that
screen for one reason or another. So, you ready to see what the rest of
us have been doing whilst you’ve been cooped up in your room?”
Glancing round Jen gives a light nod, “Ready as I’ll ever be, most
likely. So, it’s not those silly sticks again is it? You know how fghting
with giant cotton buds makes everyone look silly.”
“No, it’s not those, unless you really want to use them.” She
reaches over to one of the benches, and then throws Jen a pair of
gloves, “Put these on, we’re doing a little boxing today.” at said she
slips her own gloves on, tightening the easy fasten strips with her
teeth as she waits for Jen to do the same.
Catching the thrown gloves one handed, Jen follows her friend’s
lead and slips them on, “oh, now this is a little more like it. None of
those silly sticks to have to worry about.”
“Oh, hush you, I know you like using those sticks really.” She
then steps over to the middle of the room, and waits. Giving Jen
chance to fnish readying herself. “You ready?”
“As I’ll ever be.”
Not waiting for anything else, Sarah launches a few light, quick,
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blows at her partner, most of which are either blocked or dodged.
en, once she’s gotten over the initial onslaught, Jen returns with a
few of her own. e two soon settling into what looks as though it’s
going to be a rather long match, the pair both seeming to have similar
skill levels.
After quite some time, with neither of them really gaining an
advantage, Sarah’s comm. chirps and interrupts the light banter that
the friends had been sharing. Putting up her hands for a break she
answers it, “Go ahead?”
“Sorry to do this, but could you get up to the bridge, we’re leav-
ing earlier than we originally planned.”
“Sure, I’ll be right there.” She fips it of again and turns to Jen,
“well, looks like we’ll have to fnish this another time. Sorry about just
dashing of like this.” She then turns and heads of towards the com-
mand deck, removing he gloves as she goes.
Having little else to do herself, Jen removes her gloves and then
wanders back to her cabin, looking forwards to a quick shower and
then getting back to work. Her walk back is as uneventful as her walk
out, which is something that she’s thankful for, and she’s soon washing
away the sweat from her workout under a nice cool shower. Emerging,
feeling refreshed, after a long while to dry herself of, and then slip
into some fresh clothes.
Taking her seat before the console once more, a towel wrapped
round her still damp hair, she sets to work on the fle. Running
through a few of the de-scrambling algorithms that she’s not tried
yet. Watching them work, something which she needn’t really do, she
watches them slowly piece together the frst paragraph of the story,
along with part of the title, even though that is still partially scram-
bled. Reading through the text, as it’s pieced together, she manually
works on a few of the more garbled words that no algorithm she has
access too would ever be able to fgure out.
A Summoning…
Lkyftpsk moved silently through the empty library, not wanting
to get caught in there at this late hour. Her black robes allowed her
to easily blend in with the deep shadows between the stacks, her pale
face a beacon in the deserted room. It didn’t take her long to reach her
destination, as she’d made sure of where it was during the day. Step-
ping between a row of bookcases that look just like all the other rows
of bookcases in the gloomy room she walked on, a defnite purpose in
her stride.
After almost a half hour of work, she’s left with just one
word that she can’t fgure out. Somewhat reluctantly, she gives up, as-
suming that it’s most the name of someone, something that it’s impos-
sible to just guess at from the words around it. However, with a bit of
luck, parts of the name elsewhere in the story wouldn’t be scrambled,
so there was still a chance of rebuilding it once more of the fle was
de-scrambled.
Working for a while longer, mostly because she was rapidly
becoming engrossed in the story, as her algorithms repaired it section
by section before her eyes, she fnally takes another break when the
growing emptiness in her stomach becomes a little too much for her
to ignore any longer. Stopping what she’s doing, and stopping the
computer at the same time, she saves everything onto her data crystal
and tucks it away with the other two, inside the little pocket. She then
steps over to her bed and reaches under her pillow to retrieve her
stashed crystals, slipping the pouch back into place as she wonders
what she can fnd to eat down in the mess. Judging by the time, she’s
probably going to have to settle for whatever’s left, but that’s some-
thing she’s used to with all her strange hours.
Making sure she looks presentable, and that her gloves show no
traces of what she used them for earlier, she unlocks her door and
slips out. Not bothering to lock it behind her, as the crew are trust
worthy and she has the only things of any real value with her anyway.
Walking through the ship once more, she bumps into the young
crewman whose fle she’s been working on. “Ah, Mr Tesla, about that
fle you asked me to work on. I’m afraid it’s rather garbled, going to
take me a while to put it all back together again properly. I do so hope
you’re happy with it once it’s all done.”
“Oh, I’m sure I will,” is his reply, “after all, most of the crew
speaks very highly of your skills. If there’s anything I can ever do for
you, just let me know.” With that he walks of again, being part of the
crew currently on duty, judging by the fact that he’s walking around in
uniform.
Watching him go, and once more thankful for the somewhat
tight uniforms that come with being a Ranger, she turns around and
heads of towards the mess once more. ough her steps are a little
slower this time, as she muses over her rather brief conversation with
the young man. True, she was never short of ofers, but there was
something about his tone of voice as he’d made his ofer, thinking
about it makes her think a few things that she’d only ever ponder in
the privacy of her own head.
is was again something unusual for her, she didn’t usually
think about fellow Rangers in this way, generally because it had al-
ways led to difculties and complications whenever anyone had done
so in the past. But there was something undeniable about the fact that
the young crewmember clearly found her attractive, and in all honesty
she had to say the same about him. With his rugged features and
athletic body.
Finally turning into the mess, she glances round and returns the
few nods of greeting directed her way. However, as she’d expected,
the place is mostly deserted, with people either of making the most
of what time they have here on Babylon 5, or having eaten their meal
and then gone back on duty. Wandering over to the serving hatches,
she takes a peek inside, looking for anything vaguely interesting to
feed her hunger.
After a few moments she decides on a suitably tasty looking
chicken salad sandwich, something that most of the crew tend to
avoid for some strange reason. Taking the plate over to one of the
corner tables, intending to do some thinking whilst she eats. Slipping
into her chair, and setting the plate down with a slightly audible clat-
ter, she pouts herself a glass of water from the decanter placed on each
table, and takes her frst bite from the sandwich.
She’s soon lost in her thoughts again, eating the sandwich on
something akin to autopilot as she considers her conversation from
earlier once more. inking that getting her current project fnished
soon sounds like a rather promising idea. ough not before she does
a little checking up on her young admirer, just to make sure that she
read him correctly. Wouldn’t do for someone of her standing to go
making a pass at a younger member of the crew and having it rejected
because he wasn’t interested.
ough all this she’s forgotten about her gloves, and is only
reminded by them when she feels the fur covering her thumb brush
against her cheek. Blinking back to reality for a few moments she
realises what she’s done. ough putting the remains of her sandwich
down for a moment she inspects them. Fortunately, and something
she already sort of knew, the gloves have been treated with something
or other to protect them against damage from most substances, with-
in reason that is, so dropping them into a fre would still ruin them.
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Smiling at this discovery, she goes back to her sandwich, and her
daydreams about the young Mr Tesla. Judging by her own reaction
to the story, she could quite easily guess at why he wanted it de-
scrambling. But then it was the same with most of the other things
she’d worked on for the crew, which was why she kept everything on
a separate data crystal. Wouldn’t do to have someone stumble across
all that in the main computer, not unless there was some reason for
certain parts of it to be found. at was why she was so popular
though, amongst the crew, as the last person who did anything to
really annoy her had soon found a certain private fle spread over the
ships computer for everyone to see. e woman in question had soon
apologized for what she’d done and nothing else was said.
Bringing herself back to reality once again, she downs the last of
her water and then stands up. Scooping up her plate and glass, so she
can carry them over to the kitchen area for the people on kitchen duty
to wash, even though she’d usually wash her own dishes. For some
unfathomable reason she’s loath to remove her gloves right now, and
doesn’t want to risk getting them too wet, just in case there’s a limit to
their resilience.
Heading back to her room once more, without bumping into
anyone who wishes to talk to her this time, she locks the door and
sits down before her computer console. Smiling wryly and patting the
well-used terminal she softly says, “Ah, here we are again, old friend,
back to normal.” She reaches into her clothing, and withdraws her
data crystal and slips it into the appropriate slot, letting her fngers
play around the opening as she waits for the data on it to be accessed.
Loading up the fle once more, she goes back to work, still
intending to put in as much work on this as she can, wanting to get it
over and done with. e accursed thing’s taken a grip on her life, mak-
ing a few things change. She’s hoping that once she’s fnished it things
will go back to normal.
Once more, time passes seemingly unnoticed as she works, the
various algorithms that she’s running slowly assembling the story
again after countless years as little more than scrambled data on some
long forgotten storage machine. Stifing a few yawns, having had a
busy day, she forces herself to stay focused on checking the recon-
structed fle for any glaring errors, though there will undoubtedly be a
few minor ones that only a few reads through will spot.
Before she allows herself to stop work for the night, even though
there’s no visible indication of the lateness of the hour, she waits for
the much slower algorithm to fnish putting together the few missing
paragraphs at the start of the story, wanting something to show for
her evening’s work.
Dcsp::c :|c g|oom. or poss:o|y cvcr occousc oj ::. s|c á:ár’: uo:s:
muc| ::mc :r |oo|:rg rourá. Irs:coá. |cr jcc: corry |cr áour :|c crá
oj :|c :s|c. :r:o orc oj :|c mory scc|uácá cu|-ác-socs :r :|c |:orory. Orcc
scc|uácá :r:o :|c g|oom s|c |:j:s orc oj :|c orc:cr: :omcs os:ác. orá :|cr
pu||s ou: :|c muc| rcucr orc |:áácr oc|:rá ::.
is newer looking tome is quickly concealed within her robes.
However, as she hides the book away there’s an almost imperceptible
fash of paleness from inside her robes. With her newly acquired read-
ing material secreted about her person she heads out again, moving a
little more rapidly this time as she’s obviously eager to get somewhere
private so she can study her book.
However, despite having the frst three paragraphs almost fully
reassembled, and the three after that mostly complete, there’s still not
another mention of this character’s name, something that’s a little
perturbing for some strange reason. Especially with what she knows
happens latter on in the story. Pushing these thoughts to the side, she
saves everything to her crystal once more, and then slowly withdraws
it from the slot. Having decided that it’s time for her to get some rest.
Dimming the lights a little, before wandering back over to her
bed once more, she starts removing her clothing. Shedding her outer
clothes frst, all apart from the gloves, and then starting to remove her
underwear. Her movements somewhat slow, but still part of who she
is, working herself until she’s almost too tired to undress some nights.
Even in her downtime, such as today, she still works herself hard. It’s
either that or face up to the fact that she doesn’t really have many
friends in the Rangers, certainly not aboard this ship. Sure, people
are polite to her, but she knows the real reason for that. In some ways
she’s like the mongoose that gave it’s life for her gloves. Generally
unloved, but kept around because she does a job that most others
wouldn’t really wish to do.
Once again forcing her thoughts away, as she slips on the over-
sized t-shirt that she sleeps in, she climbs into her bed, big enough for
one, and then turns the lights down onto their lowest setting. Leaving
the room almost dark, apart from the vague light coming from the
lamp above her bed.
Lying there with her thoughts, she closes her eyes and just waits
for sleep to come and take her, whisking her away from her own
thoughts. Slowly, and not really thinking about it, she starts softly
skimming the gloves, which, even after only a short period of time,
feel like too much a part of her to remove even for sleep, over her
forearms again.
After nary a few minutes, she falls into a light slumber. Sleep’s
hold growing frmer as time passes and she’s soon slipped into a deep
sleep. Dreaming unknown dreams, and heading towards another day
of downtime, another day in which to be driven by the job she’s trying
to do, another day of being alone in the Rangers.
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FANTASY WORLDS PROPOSAL: ALTA
Written by Peter E. Aperlo
Edited by Steven Creech
Scc::or 1S: Fantasy Worlds |roposo|: A|:o Copyr:g|: 2003. |c:cr L. Apcr|o
Core Ethos Sentence
Alta is a world of sword-and-sorcery adventure and in-
trigue, where heroes battle monsters and kingdoms vie for
dominance. Humans are under the thumb of the Elven
Proctectorate.
Who are the Heroes?
Geren, a Human apprentice wizard; Nariel, a Half-Elven
druid; Kelendra, a renegade Elf archer/sorceress; Artinax,
a Human war-captain; Tartro, an athletic Halfing
barbarian/rogue; Nomis, a Human priest.
What do they do?
Geren seeks to regain the power and glory of the Old
Human Empire and actively seeks out artifacts toward
that end. At frst he does this for selfsh reasons, but he
soon sees the diference he can make for his people; Nariel
is a virtual hermit who worships the old, pre-Empire,
pre-Protectorate nature gods, and although reticent to
get involved, she may be the best hope for bringing back
a balance to the dealings of Elves and Humans; Kelendra
lives only for sport and for the next wild adventure, not
caring for politics but fercely loyal to her friend Nariel;
Artinax is a loyal subject of the Protectorate, defending its
lands against outside invaders, but he will soon be forced
to choose sides; Tartro is a rogue from the borderlands
looking for his next score; Nomis is the secret leader of
a cell of Human rebels, quietly building his power until
word comes to strike.
Threats, Conflicts, and Villians
To many Humans, the draconian rule of the Elven
Protectorate is the greatest evil in the world. ose
on the borderland are more apt to be thankful for the
Elves’ protection from the Halfing Horse-Nomads. e
newest threat, which should have everyone worried, is the
Gnomes. ey mysteriously appeared several years ago,
but from where, no one knows. ey could have come
from deep within the earth itself or even of-world. ey
peddle technological items that will defnitely upset the
balance of power, but could also destroy the world.
Nature of Magic
For Humans, magic is rare, its use being forbidden to
them by the Elven Protectorate’s edicts. Even clerics and
druids must be careful, allowed only to use their healing
powers. Dwarves practice magic freely in their hidden
enclaves, creating items of great power, but they are loathe
to share with other races. e Halfing barbarians are
naturally suspicious of the magic of others, but a few of
them are skilled in the arcane and divine arts.
What’s New? What’s Different?
e devastating civil wars that ended the Old Human
Empire millennia ago nearly ended all life on Alta as
well. e Elven Protectorate came into being to prevent
Humans from doing that again. Although the Elven rule
is (mostly) fair, many Humans chafe at being a permanent
underclass and being denied access to arcane knowledge.
ere have been skirmishes, but open rebellion by the
Humans is still only a threat. e Gnomes have appeared
as saviors to some Humans, selling incendiary and
other devices that could counteract the Elves’ magical
advantage. But the Gnomes have darker designs; they
are in league with various Infernal Princes, and they have
also been arming another race as well: those well-trained
soldiers bred for service in the Old Human Empire, the
Orcs.
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E-TOOLS, VERSION 1.2: THE REVISION
Written by Glenn Dean
Edited by Steven Creech
E
-Tools v1.2 is an electronic aid for the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ®
game released by Wizards of tbe Coast and updated by Code Monkey
Publisbing. E-tools is available as a $30 download from CMP; this review is
of the version with CMP’s v1.2 patch added (the patch will be available as a
free download from the CMP website).
Once upon a time, the Durgcors G Drogors® 3.0 Rules were released.
e new rules included compact disk with a character generator program to
demonstrate the new rules, with the promise that eventually a fully function-
al, all-encompassing gaming program called Mos:crloo|s would be available to
meet every gamers needs. Time passed, and Mos:crloo|s failed to appear. It
passed from developer to developer, languishing despite gamer demands, un-
til eventually a slightly reduced version called L-loo|s was released. Gamers
were overjoyed – until they tried L-loo|s, and discovered it was full of errors
and bugs. Wisely, Wizards of the Coast hired Code Monkey Publishing,
developers of the popular PCGen application, to come in and fx L-loo|s,
so that gamers would again be happy. is article is a review is of the new,
patched version of that software – now ready for your game.
is version of L-loo|s is designed to run on a PC running Windows
98 or better, with a Pentium II/200Mhz or better processor, 64 MB RAM,
40 MB hard disk space, a CD-ROM drive, and Internet Explorer 6.0 or
better. e program may be purchased on CD from Wizards distributors, or
purchased directly as a download from Code Monkey Publishing.
CMP fxed over 150 bugs and rules errors to bring out the v1.2 patch.
In the process, they also gained the rights to produce the data sets that will
eventually provide full support for all Wizards of the Coast products for
L-loo|s, including the upcoming revised rules (commonly referred to as D&D
3.5).
Installation goes fairly quickly – it actually takes longer to install the
patch than the base program. Once run, a brief splash screen is followed by
the full program window, which displays a nice new graphics collage that
includes the D&D logo, a skeleton, a Red Dragon, and a beholder. e
window is full resizable and switchable – unlike the original character genera-
tor included with the ||oycr’s Horáooo|. L-loo|s is a completely diferent
program than that original demonstration.
So what does L-loo|s consist of? Essentially, it provides four tools in
each of two options: a character editor/generator, a monster editor/generator,
a treasure editor/generator, and a table editor/generator. e editors allow
creation of the character, monster, etc from scratch with the user in control
of every option; the generators randomly create a character or the like, and
then allow the user to make modifcations using the editor. ere are some
additional, smaller tools, as well: a race creator that allows custom creation
of a user-specifed character race; a house rules editor; which allows for the
entry and/or modifcation of feats, skills, deities, treasures – virtually all of
the E-Tools data – to ft your home campaign; and a dice roller. Between the
data sets, tables, and help fles, virtually the entire text of the core rulebooks is
contained in L-loo|s.
ere are seven main elements in the menu – File, Editors, Generate,
Tools, Links, Toolbars, and Help -- all of which can be accessed from either
drop-down menus, or confgured as buttons using the Toolbar control. File
allows loading and saving of all data – either user generated, or core rules
elements (use this to load a standard NPC from the DMG, for instance, or a
generic monster). Importing databases is also accessed from the File menu.
e Editor and Generate menus run the Character, Monster, Treasure, and
Table editor/generator; Tools handles the Race Builder, House Rules editor,
and Die Roller. Links provides internet access to the CMP website or the
Wizards of the Coast website through your browser. Help allows for search
of the help fles by keyword or index list; the core rules text elements are in
the Help section of the program.
Character Editor/Generator
e character editor is used to create any character or creature
(monsters included) that have class levels –PC, NPC, or prestige classes.
Character creation follows the basic steps from the rulebook. e frst screen
allows for selection of race, alignment, and one or more class levels (you could
add all 20 if you like – though you can’t add prestige class levels until the feat,
skill, and other requirements are met; building a prestige-classed character
requires a slower process of core classes frst, then prestige classes – though
the process is facilitated a bit by a “requirements” checker that highlights ac-
complished prestige class requirements). Once the base race, class, and align-
ment are set, there’s not return to this screen – to change them, you’ll have to
start over from scratch. Note that the core classes from the PHB and DMG
are the only ones supported right now, until the data sets are released.
e next screen brings up an entire menu of options that you can
switch between in creating the character – Stats, Bio, Features, Skills, Feats,
Languages, Purchase, Equip, God & Domains, Funds, Schools, Spells Pre-
pared, Notes, XP & Level Up, DM Notes, Stat Block, and a File menu which
allows saving, exporting, or printing of the character fle. ese menus can be
accessed in any order – to see the character sheet you’ll have to use print pre-
view, but checking data is fairly easy using the Stat Block page, which brings
up a window that can be used for cut and paste operations.
Stats shows the character’s essential stats (initiative, saves, AC, hp, and
attack rolls) along with all of the modifers used to computer them. e
character’s sex is selected here, and ability scores are rolled – with the option
of a variety of methods to include random rolls or point buy (though the
DM Notes allows a DM to check the number of rolls used to generate a
character’s stats or hit points). Multi-classed characters actually have mul-
tiple options in their class feld (one for each class possessed) – this becomes
important when assigning skill point for multi-classed characters or selecting
spells – you have to repeat the process for each class the character possesses.
Features allows for viewing of class and racial features, as well as any
special qualities or attacks the character has (particularly for monstrous
characters – note that they start with their full monster abilities, and don’t
follow the monster progressions in Sovogc Spcc:cs). Skills allows for assign-
ment of skill points (separately for each class) and shows total skill modifers
as well as class/cross-class skills. Feats does the same, allowing selection of
feats, and only allowing selection of those feats for which the character meets
prerequisites – though there is nothing to prevent you from taking the same
feat multiple times (say, three iterations of Armor Profciency: Heavy). It is
possible to override prerequisites if you choose.
e Languages menu allows selection of bonus languages based on
Intelligence and skill points; be advised that if you create a character at higher
than frst level, you can’t select his bonus languages – the program only allows
that for frst level characters. Purchase and equip handles all the mundane
equipment in the book, as well as magical items. e equipment must frst
be purchased in that menu, and then equipped in the next menu for the
efects to appear in the stat block. One nice feature is that weapons may be
equipped in multiple combinations, with the appropriate modifers appearing
in the stat block or on the character sheet. Most magical items – there are
some exceptions – will have their efects fgured in to stat blocks; items not
on standard lists can be custom made on the purchase screen, then purchased
and equipped (this feature allows scrolls and potions of any type to be made,
and note there are no rules checks on these items – you can create a vorpo|
mace if you so desire). If you don’t have the money for a purchase, the Funds
menu allows manipulation of character wealth (or turn it of entirely, and get
everything for free – the program “grays out” items you can’t aford).
Clerics can select their God & Domain abilities from the database,
subject to their alignment restrictions. All spellcasters the use the spell screen
to choose spells known (as appropriate) and spells prepared – to include
domain spells, schools prohibited by specialists, and specialist bonus spells.
ese print out in stat blocks and character sheet as lists of spells known/
prepared. One fault of the system, however, it that it doesn’t identify cleric
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domains in stat blocks, nor does it identify specialist wizards as such – all
wizards are wizards; you only recognize specialists by the “+1” in their “Spells
per Day” line on the stat block.
Free text for background, appearance, and the like can be added on
the Notes page. e XP page allows experience points to be added; when
sufcient XP for a new level are accumulated, the “Level Up” button becomes
active, and you can add another class level, and make further character adjust-
ments. For GMs, note that this is the only way to create prestige-classed
NPCs: you have to meet the requirements with a basic character, then assign
XP to level the character up enough to add prestige class levels, which is a
slow, frustrating process.
e newly created character can be printed out on a standard D&D
character sheet. e sheet looks quite nice – but the printing system works
through Internet Explorer. I had difculty getting the sheet to ft on the page;
eventually by reducing the margins to the minimum I was able to get the
sheet to print without cutting any portions of. Spellcasters get a nice cheat
sheet of their spells prepared and known printed with the character sheet,
that includes brief spell summaries as well -- a nice touch for a spellcasting
character.
e character generator performs these tasks with a click of the button
– select a race, class, level, and alignment, and the program automatically
generates an NPC based on a default ability array, equips him/her/it with the
equipment appropriate to the character’s level, and incorporates everything
into the stat block. is is a great tool for GMs to save time in NPC genera-
tion; unfortunately, it doesn’t work for multi-classed characters, characters
with NPC levels, or prestige-classed characters. To build them, you must
generate them as a lower level character frst, then switch to the character edi-
tor to make the appropriate changes, or add character levels – but eventually
you can create the character you want, as customized (or not) as you desire.
Monster Editor/Generator
e monster editor works very similarly to the character editor, only for
creatures from the monster manual without class levels. e generator cre-
ates a generic monster from the manual, which may be advanced a number of
hit dice. e monster editor can then be used to adjust ability scores, skills,
feats, equipment, and the like – or continue to advance the monster by hit
dice. Ironically, generic monsters that advance by class level can’t be created
with the generator (use the character generator and assign them a class) – but
they can be created using the monster editor. It’s actually a real pain to gener-
ate a bunch of plain orc warriors, since it can’t be done randomly (though orc
fghters can be created).
Treasure Editor/Generator
e treasure editor/generator allows for the creation of specifc of ran-
dom treasures. Specify a level of the treasure and it can be created randomly
from the treasure tables, and edit it as desired, or create it completely from
scratch. You can add coins, gems/jewelry, mundane, or magical items to any
treasure combination, and then cut/paste from the “Treasure stat block”
into the adventure you’re writing. e treasures are full customizable – you
can create unique magical items, to include those with intelligence or curses
(though there are no artifacts in the database).
Table Editor/Generator
e table feature is one that I wouldn’t have thought to include, but that
proves quite useful. e table generator allows access to any random table in
any of the three core rulebooks, and allows the user to roll up a result from
them. For example, you can roll up a random town by accessing the appropri-
ate DMG tables. e table editor is even more interesting – it allows you to
create random tables that could include just about anything. It takes some
experimentation to get it to work, but with a little practice you can create a
table that might allow for random determination of a room’s contents – vari-
ous monsters, treasures, traps, or other items from random tables.
Other Features
e other features -- aside from the Die Roller, which is fairly self-
explanatory – allow for increased customization of your database. You can
build a custom race, complete with all modifers and special abilities/qualities,
to include in your campaign – you’ll have to do this to use some of the racial
variants from other sources, for example. e House Rules option allows you
to create custom feats, skills, gods, domains, spells, magic items, or goods – or
modify those in the existing database. is is a powerful tool for campaign
customization that is very easy to use, but be careful – since there’s no “re-
store” feature to fx your unwanted mistakes. Incidentally, CMP also hosts a
free third-party database editor on its site, that has a feature that can be used
to back up your database, or to create custom classes and class abilities – it’s a
shame this feature isn’t part of the base program.
Overall, L-loo|s has a very large number of features, with lots of options
for customizing PCs, NPCs, monsters, and assorted dungeon dressing. e
good news is that Code Monkey has taken what was a marginal product and
made it into a usable one. L-loo|s contains the essential tools that people
who are strictly players of the game will fnd useful – the ability to create and
manage characters level-by-level, with the entire range of options and rules in
the core products just a mouse click away.
For GMs, L-loo|s puts a number of useful tools together into a single
product. I’m primarily a GM, and use fve diferent software tools when
preparing my adventures. ree of them – a treasure generator, a town
generator, and a monster database – L-loo|s easily replaces, and provides even
greater functionality with the ability to generate data of of any table in the
DMG. As to the other two – a character editor and NPC generator – L-
loo|s may yet replace them as well. L-loo|s’ ability to generate fully-equipped
NPCs, with complete spellbooks and appropriate magical equipment, with it
all incorporated into a correct stat block, is a defnite boon, since those are all
tasks I perform manually.
I consider myself fairly profcient with the rules, but L-loo|s was still
able to teach me a thing or two – I’d see a modifer that didn’t make sense
(like a –2 to a Craft skill), pull out the rulebook, and usually discover a syn-
ergy I wasn’t aware of before (like not equipping a set of proper artisan’s tools
results in a penalty to Craft skills). ose minor details have been built in, so
you don’t have to worry about them.
GMs and players who like to operate of of laptops, without any printed
material will likely also fnd L-loo|s to their liking, especially with the ad-
ditional rulebook text. ough it isn’t yet a complete campaign management
tool, when CMP releases the additional data sets that cover the remaining
WOTC D&D products – and especially the 3.5 rules set – L-loo|s may yet
become the must-have game management tool. Unfortunately, it’s not there
yet.
e bad news is, though a signifcant number of bugs were squashed,
a number of rules implementation errors remain. Armor stacking bonuses
don’t function properly, for example – armor bonuses from regular armor and
oroccrs oj ormor will stack, as will the bonuses from omu|c:s oj ro:uro| ormor
and a creature’s natural armor. e skill system has a few errors (like fghters
with Alchemy as a class skill). Some information still needs to be errata’s,
like the price on ooo:s oj s:r:á:rg orá spr:rg:rg; other magic items like oroccrs
oj orc|cry don’t provide their input to stat blocks where most magic items do.
Code Monkey does have a handle on these remaining errors and they will
be fxed – but it will probably require one more patch, with the waiting time
associated. Luckily, the remaining errors are fairly few, and can be worked
around.
ere are a number of features that L-loo|s is lacking, however, and
these are unlikely to be fxed, as they are limitations built into the original
programming structure that CMP inherited. e program doesn’t have the
ability to handle templates, for example, despite how common and useful a
tool these are – you still have to do this work by hand, and implementing it in
L-loo|s would require a major software re-write. Printing through Explorer
will stay, as annoying a feature as that is. Random generation of multi-classed
NPCs will also remain beyond the reach of the program – GMs will have
to do this work the hard way, by building multi-classed NPCs from scratch.
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As to other great features – mapping software, campaign management tools,
combat tracking software – they aren’t a part of L-loo|s, and probably will
never be.
L-loo|s does have a few irksome usability problems, too, but some of
these are on their way to being fxed. Right now, the program lacks any sort
of tutorial, and the help fles are structured like a Microsoft help program
– which is to say they need their own help software. Users who are experi-
enced with the rules won’t have a program with this, but a relative newcomer
to the game will have some difculty learning the system at frst. CMP is
working on updated help fles that may be ready when the fnal 1.2 patch
is released, though some of the DMG and MM help will likely end up in a
follow-on patch.
Error recovery is something to watch out for when using the program.
Once you level a character, data from the previous level is locked – no issue
for a player managing a single character, but a pain for a GM trying to create
a high-level NPC when you realize you just screwed up a feat requirement at
a low level, and can’t go back. e House Rules tool can be both a blessing
and a curse in this regard – it’s easy to delete core data, since the program
doesn’t warn you against it, but you can add it back in manually (I managed
to delete Corellon Larethian from the deities list while playing around, for
example, but just decided the elves didn’t need a deity that much – restoring
the original database took a full reinstall!).
Screen color and font choices are a bit poor for long-term usability as
well. e light colored text on a black background makes the graphics look
really good, but over time causes a bit more eyestrain than black-on-light
text would, and the interface settings aren’t user-confgurable. Some of the
colors make highlighting to cut/paste text, or reading some of the text boxes
virtually impossible when they’re faded out due to lack of contrast. [Note to
software developers: red text on a black background is never a good choice if
you’re looking for a user-friendly interface design!]
Unfortunately for all of the parties involved in the development of
L-loo|s, the timing on this product is just poor. It absolutely had to be fxed
to do justice to the purchasers of the original product – it looks like CMP
has done that for the most part, and will continue to provide good support.
For those continuing 3.0 rules-based campaigns, the tool is useable as of
this patch. For planning to switch to the 3.5 rules set immediately, you’ll
probably want to wait until the 3.5 data set is available to purchase L-loo|s
if you haven’t already, so you can get the new data sets as well as any updated
patches. Given CMP’s attitude toward the product, though, that future looks
pretty bright.
Right now, L-loo|s contains the essential information from the SRD,
plus a fair amount of favor text from the core rulebooks – so most of the
information is essentially open content, though not labeled as such. Some
errors in rules implementation remain; while a capable product, there are
competitors that accomplish similar tasks, in some cases more efectively.
Right now, players will likely be more satisfed with the product than GMs,
given the implemented feature set, but that may improve with future releases.
Current owners of the product should be very happy with the 1.2 patch;
the value of the product to new owners will increase as more data sets come
available.
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E-PUBLISHER GUIDE: A REVIEW
Written by Steven Creech
When you visit RPGNow.com, one of the frst things that stand
out is the sheer number of available electronic products for sale. ere
are pdf fles galore; some from professional and established publish-
ers, some from amateurs with a simple desktop publishing program.
e numbers are staggering and they are growing.
e c|uo|:s|cr Gu:ác is meant to serve as a valuable resource for
anyone who is seriously considering getting into the electronic pub-
lishing business. e book is written by an excellent line up of design-
ers with contributing names as Monte Cook, Chris Davis, Phil Reed
and John Nephew. It is published by Minion Development Corp. and
carries a retail price of $19.95 for an electronic version or $24.95 as a
print on demand product.
ere are nine chapters in this 83-page document, the frst
eight relating directly to the process of e-publishing and the fnal one
serving as a comparative checklist against other publishers. After a
forward by Monte Cook surmising his shock at the success of a little
pdf known as the Boo| oj L|ár::c| M:g|:, we jump right in with the
business end of things.
Chapter one addresses the importance of prepress and planning.
Doing exhaustive research is key to even having a shot at success. For
example, is your product going to be d20 or use its own game me-
chanics? Here is where you not only research consumer demand but
also the feasibility of creating your own system. What is your target
audience? Is this geared for a specifc age group or gaming niche?
It’s also important to factor in your development and design
costs. Are you inserting artwork? Hiring a layout artist? ese are
important considerations. Do you want to publish in a format other
than electronic pdf? You could go with e-books, CD-ROMs, or even
print on demand (POD).
Chapter two addresses budgetary and stafng needs, and helps
prepare you for those costs. Included with the fle is a budgeting
worksheet developed by Atlas Games president, John Nephew. is is
an absolutely invaluable resource itself, let alone as a part of this pack-
age. Funding is a necessary frst step, and while you aren’t given the
answers, you are given some good advice. Cash fow issues and time
budgeting concerns are addressed next. Stafng is treated with a fairly
in-depth treatment. A signifcant number of entry-level e-publishers
start out as a one-person operation whereas the book illustrates the
need for a larger staf. Recommended levels are 3-5 staf with people
performing multiple job functions. Now that you have a staf, it’s time
to fll in the holes.
Good editing is vital to a product’s success as well as good writ-
ing. Freelancers both fll this void within a small company. Freelancers
are an absolute necessity for a company’s success and longevity. Not
only are they often a means of keeping costs down (writers are paid
.03-.05 cents a word and editors make approximately half that), but
they free up your resources to focus on running the business of pub-
lishing. Methods of paying your freelancers are also addressed.
Chapter three discusses the legal aspects of publishing. For
instance, is your business a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a
limited liability company (LLC)? e advantages and disadvantages
of each are covered. Explanations of copyrights and trademarks and
their use are touched upon, as is the issue of piracy and its efect on
sales.
e subject of licensing makes up chapter four. Why would you
want to license a product for use? What licensing options are there?
Can you go with an open game system instead? Is there an advantage
of choosing one system over the other? What are some of the more
common pitfalls and mistakes? All of this (and more) is answered in
this chapter.
Chapter fve examines design and layout as a part of the pre-
publication process. Here the importance of choosing a good title,
selecting cover and interior art, proper layout and design are all un-
derscored. Simplistic instructions on creating a pdf are also included.
Marketing is the topic for chapter six. Now that you’ve created a
product, it’s time to sell it. A good website is essential for the pdf pub-
lisher. e need for a good domain name is underscored, especially
for separate product lines. Further website details and suggestions are
also addressed, including listing your site on search engines. e art
of writing good press releases are also covered as are obtaining (and
dealing with) reviews. Additional internet “marketing” techniques are
discussed, such as banner exchanges, pay-per-click search engines,
auction referrals, e-zines, and online chats. Convention presence is
touched upon as well as investing in print advertising.
Sales are, of course, an important and vital aspect to publishing.
No sales means no income. Chapter seven gives a solid rundown on
what to expect in terms of sales volume at RPGNow.com. e type
of product ofered will determine the overall amount of sales as a rule.
Having a strategic and planned release schedule is also a key factor
in sales. Order processing is discussed, as is the need for bandwidth
allowance.
Finally, chapter eight is a comprehensive listing of internet
resources. is includes publisher forums, discussion lists, layout/
design forums, freelancer resources, directories, and review sites along
with many others.
e bottom line is that c|uo|:s|cr Gu:ác is a great and essential
resource for any publisher and not just those in the electronic end of
the business. ere are several areas that should have been covered
in more depth, such as the chapters on marketing and sales, but all
of the basic knowledge is presented. If you are seriously considering
publishing a product, this will help you look more like a professional
and less like an amateur. Consider it required reading!
Tbe Gamer’s Rating: (Maximum 5 pts per
category)
h Originality: 5.0
h PlayabilityIUsability: 5.0
h Value for tbe Dollar: 5.0
Overall Rating: 5.0
Final Grade: A+
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FROM THE ANNALS OF ANCIENT LORE: SIRENSONG
Written by Terry O’Brien
Edited by Andrew Garbade
Scc::or 1S: From the Arro|s oj Arc:cr: Lorc: S:rcrsorg Copyr:g|: 2003. lcrry O’Br:cr
B
ards have often lamented their ability to only afect
one person at a time with some of their bardic songs.
Long ago, a clever bard fgured out a way to expand his
repertoire and his afected audience at the same time by
creating the harp he named S:rcrsorg. By crafting and
playing his harp, he was able to use any of his bardic
songs that normally afected only one person to now af-
fect multiple individuals at the same time. His secret was
thought lost to history, but the harp and its secrets have
recently been rediscovered. It is also known that several
instruments made using these secrets have been recently
crafted, but the identities of those responsible are cur-
rently a mystery.
Although s:rcrsorg instruments are usually crafted as
small travelling harps, any stringed instrument may be en-
chanted. e secret of the magic is the strings are actually
made from the long, fowing hair of sirens. e enchanted
strings echo the spellbinding song of the sirens, as well as
the bardic song played on them. is echo efect allows
the following bardic songs to afect more than one person
at a time: josc:ro:c, :rsp:rc cor|ácrcc, and :rsp:rc grco:rcss.
For each additional person to be afected, the bard
must use another of his bardic music slots for the day.
e bard may only choose one song to play at a time,
and makes one Perform check. e Perform result and
the bardic song efect is applied to all targeted persons as
normal. All other limitations (ranks in Perform, distance,
being able to see and hear the bard, etc.) also apply.
If the bard has targets josc:ro:cá, he may also use
suggcs::or without stopping the song; the same suggestion
must be given to all afected persons.
e strings are the focal point of the instrument’s
enchantments and they require the most fnely crafted in-
struments in order to fully produce their magical efects.
Any s:rcrsorg instrument is considered a masterwork
instrument, giving a +2 circumstance bonus to all Per-
form checks.
Cos:cr Lcvc|: 12
th
. |rcrcou:s::cs: Craft Wondrous
Item, c|orm pcrsor, suggcs::or, a minimum of 12 ranks in
Perform, crafter must be a bard. Mor|c: |r:cc: 5,300 gp.
Vc:g|:: 5 lbs.
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SUPERHEROES IN THE D20 WORLD:
AN INTROSPECTIVE LOOK
Written by John Grigsby
Edited by Steven Creech
Scc::or 1S: Superheroes in :|c á20 Vor|á: Ar Ir:rospcc::vc Loo| Copyr:g|: 2003. ]o|r Gr:gsoy
SECRET ORIGINS
ough the comic book as we know it was frst introduced in
1933 (and comic strips had been around since 1896), it was in 1938
that the face of the industry would forever change. In June of that
year, a company called National Periodicals would publish Ac::or
Com:cs #1, featuring a new character created by Jerome Siegel and Joe
Shuster that was able to “leap an eighth of a mile, hurdle a 20-story
building, raise tremendous weights, run faster than an express train,
and nothing short of a bursting shell could penetrate his skin.” His
name was Superman and he would be the beginning of a new era of
entertainment.
In 1974, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson formed a partner-
ship called TSR and published a new type of game that drew from
miniatures warfare and wargaming. ough the initial sales were less
than encouraging, the popularity of the game grew swiftly. Similarly
to Siegel and Shuster decades before them, Gygax and Arneson had
ushered in a new era of entertainment.
It seemed inevitable that these two giants would eventually go
head to head, and in 1978, Gamescience released Supcr|cro 2044, a
game of super-hero role-playing. is was swiftly followed by \:||o:rs
G \:g:|or:cs from Fantasy Games Unlimited in 1979, and C|omp:ors
from Hero Games in 1981. It seemed that the super-hero genre was
frmly entrenched in the world of role-playing (which had formerly
been dominated by fantasy and science-fction).
en in 2000, following several shake-ups, changes of owner-
ship, and general disarray, Wizards of tbe Coast introduced the 3rd
edition of the venerable Durgcors G Drogors game. e new version
of the classic role-playing game revolved around a unique concept
called the Open Gaming License, which permitted others to utilize
the base rules as a foundation for their own games. Initially, of course,
most companies focused on providing new fantasy supplements, but
it wasn’t long before someone realized that more than just fantasy was
possible under the OGL.
Nigbtsbift Games (a division of Team Frog) was the frst to try
a d20-based super-hero game with their release of lc Iouráo::or,
but the disjointed (and seemingly incomplete) rules were paned by
fans and critics alike. For a brief period, this seemed to be the end
of the foray of super-heroes into RPGs. en came the blockbuster
success of the movies X-Mcr and Sp:ácr-Mor. Suddenly, super-heroes
were a hot property again, and the OGL made it easier than ever to
produce a super-hero role-playing game. All you needed was a solid
system for handling super-powers.
Today, the d20 market is saturated with super-hero
games. It seems that everyone with a computer, from
big-name companies to individuals is producing d20 rule
expansions to handle super-powered heroics. ere are
so many, in fact, that it can be difcult to decide which
is best for your needs. at’s where this article comes in.
Over the next few pages, we’ll examine a handful of the
d20 super-hero games on the market today, comparing
strengths and weaknesses.
ough there is a glut of games available, my time and our space
is limited, so I’ll restrict myself to a small handful of representatives.
I have chosen, for purposes of this article, to compare six diferent
super-hero games, all based around the Open Gaming License. My
efort here is not to review or critically examine them, but rather to
compare strengths and weaknesses within the systems.
We will be taking a close look at \:g:|orcc: Aoso|u:c |oucr
(Mystic Eye Games), Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás (Green Ronin
Publisbing), S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s (Guardians of Order), |orogor (free
download, D. Jon Mattson), Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy (E.N. Publishing,
formerly known as Natural 20 Press), and |oucr Ovcru|c|m:rg (free
download, Nils Babcock). While Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás is, techni-
cally speaking, not a d20 game, it has its roots in the OGL and thus,
is close enough for our purposes. |orogor and |oucr Ovcru|c|m:rg
are free PDFs. Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy is a PDF ($7.95) available for
sale from RPGNow. \:g:|orcc: Aoso|u:c |oucr ($19.95), S:|vcr Agc
Scr::rc|s ($39.95), and Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás ($32.95) are prod-
ucts published by their respective companies.
BUILDING CHARACTER
e single most important consideration in a super-hero game
is the character generation system. Ideally, a player should not be
constrained by the pre-conceived notions of the game’s author. ey
should be able to design absolutely any type of character they can
envision, no matter how strange or complex. ough super-heroes are
known for certain archetypes (brick, blaster, mentalist, etc.) they all
too often cross over boundaries with one another, and it isn’t all that
unusual to see a speedster/brick, for example. us, any game that
confnes the characters to pre-designated roles is doomed to failure as
a super-hero game.
Vigilance
In \:g:|orcc, each character must frst select an origin that defnes
how they received their amazing abilities. e origin determines the
character’s ability adjustments and favored classes, as well as any
bonus feats, powers, or skills that the character is due. e choice
of origins runs the gamut of comic book possibilities and includes
Advanced Training, Alien, Artifcial Life, Cybernetic Enhancement,
Mutant, Mystic Experiment, Normal, and Scientifc Experiment.
Naturally, few player characters will take the Normal origin.
Classes in \:g:|orcc are based largely around archetypes and
include the Acrobat, the Brick, the Detective, the Energy Projector,
the Gadgeteer, the Gangster, the Psychic, and the Vigilante. Each has
its own special talents, balanced by factors such as hit dice, class skills,
class powers, and power points per level. us, it is possible to have a
Brick with the power of Blast, but they will never be as good at it as
an Energy Projector, for whom Blast is a class power (and in fact, is
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gained as a bonus power at 1st level). No mention is made of multi-
classing, though a few of the NPCs in the book are multi-classed, so
it must be possible (and would presumably be handled in standard
fashion, applying penalties to characters that take classes not favored
by their origin).
\:g:|orcc adds a few new skills to those found in Core Rulebook
I (such as Criminology, Driving, and Piloting), but their focus is on
a new type of skill called Combat Maneuvers. ese skills do not re-
quire skill checks, but modify other abilities, most often a character’s
attack or damage roll. ey also require that a character have the ap-
propriate feat in order to acquire the skill. ere are several new feats
to choose from in \:g:|orcc, but there are no metamagic feats and
item creation feats have been revamped to apply solely to technologi-
cal items.
Powers are gained at a rate determined by the character’s origin
(usually one every two levels), though everyone (except Normals)
begins with one power). A character may not spend more than 10
power points per level on a class power, and no more than 5 power
points per level on a cross-class power. A power itself costs no points.
Points are used to buy skills for the power. Most powers have sub-
skills. Some powers are noted as exclusive, meaning that a character
can buy points in only one sub-skill of that power. To gain points in
another sub-skill, they must select the power again (with their next
power gain).
For example, as a 1st-level Mutant, a character receives one
power. If the character buys the Feral power, he need spend no power
points because Feral has no sub-skills. If he chooses Invisibility, he
should probably spend some power points to be able to use the power,
but he may divide them as desired among the three sub-skills of Invis-
ibility (Invisibility, Invisibility by Touch, and Improved Invisibility).
e Invisibility skill can be used without training, but the others
must have points put into them before they can be used. Finally, if
the character instead chose Blast, he would have to decide whether
to take the Energy Blast skill, the Physical Blast skill, or the Psychic
Blast skill because Blast is noted as an exclusive power. If he wanted
to have two diferent Blast efects, he would have to wait until his
next power gain and purchase the power again (most likely spending
more skill points to improve the second efect). e level of skill with
a power often determines duration, damage, or efectiveness. Invisibil-
ity, for example, lets a character remain invisible for 10 minutes per
power point, while Blast does 1d6 damage for every 4 power points
spent on the appropriate skill.
A glance down the list of powers reveals a few gaps. ere are
powers that allow a character to control light, earth, and fre, but not
water, air, or other forms of energy. e Super Running power makes
no mention of running across water or up the side of a building
(which is done on a fairly regular basis in comics). ere is no power
that would permit a character to steal the powers of another, and
while there is an Insect Control power, there is no Animal Control
power. A signifcant faw (in my opinion) is that it is not possible to
play a traditional wizard or sorcerer in \:g:|orcc. It would be easy
enough to play a mystical character whose powers were based on
mysticism, but not a spellcaster.
Characters may also choose disadvantages. Some disadvan-
tages are power-specifc (No Range for Blast, for example). Others
are somewhat more generic, such as Enemy. Disadvantage Ratings
(DSRs) vary by how tough the disadvantage makes life for the hero,
but most are between 2 and 4. For each disadvantage chosen (and
the GM is encouraged to limit the number permitted), the character
gains a certain amount of experience as a “kicker” (thus, a character
could begin the game as high as 3rd level). Of course, the more DSRs
a character has, the tougher his life as a hero is going to be. Disad-
vantages can be removed, but it’s a slow ad costly process, requiring
the character to sacrifce new power gains in order to remove a single
point of a disadvantage.
\:g:|orcc ofers a few prestige classes, most of which logically
build upon the base classes. Psi Lord, for example, is the obvious pres-
tige class of choice for the Psychic, and few Bricks would not choose
to go the way of the Behemoth. Often these prestige classes have
certain power requirements in addition to the other requirements.
Silver Age Sentinels
Like many of the others, S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s is a class-and-level
based system. e GM will determine how many power points
character may allot to their powers and inform the players, but that’s
where it gets tricky. A character with 150 power points is equal
to a 10th level character, even though they may be only a 1st level
Powerhouse. Alternately, the character may purchase 10 ranks of the
Highly Trained Attribute (power) and be a 10th level character with
50 power points (still a 10th level character).
Ability scores are generated according to Core Rulebook I. Attri-
butes may then be modifed up or down as desired. Finally, the total
value of all six abilities is divided by 2 to get the cost in power points.
All of this begs the question, why bother rolling? Why not just let
them assign their abilities? It is worth noting that because of the way
that armor is handled in S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s, a character’s Strength
always provides a +0 modifer to attack rolls, regardless of the ability
score. Damage modifers from Strength are also changed signifcantly.
On the other hand, encumbrance (since it is much less likely to be a
factor in a superhero game) has been greatly simplifed.
ere are no races, per se, in S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s. Certainly, be-
ings other than humans may exist in the campaign, but you don’t get
any automatic bonuses or penalties for playing one. If you wish to
play a non-human character, you will have to design the character as
such from your power point pool.
Classes in S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s include the Acrobat, the Adven-
turer, the Costumed Fighter, the Costumed Wizard, the Gadgeteer,
the Powerhouse, the Psychic, the Skulker, and the Speedster. Most
gain class abilities that are appropriate to the class and almost all gain
skill points at the same rate. e Adventurer however, is much less
specialized ad gains extra power points in place of special abilities,
making this class very fexible, but not quite as powerful compared to
more specialized characters.
Powers are referred to as Attributes in S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s, and
all Attributes are sub-categorized as Powers or Characteristics. e
diference is in whether an Attribute is superhuman (Power) or
more of a talent (Characteristic). Characteristics can be thought of
as similar to feats (which do not exist in S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s). Power
Attributes are modifed by a number of factors collectively known as
PMVs, allowing a player to customize each Attribute to the character.
Attributes can be further customized by choosing reductions and
restrictions for the Attribute.
e list of Attributes available is impressive and allows for the
full-range of comic book heroes. In addition, there are some unique
abilities that aren’t typically seen, such as Pocket Dimension and
Reincarnation. A handy table of Attribute Name Equivalents makes
it easier to fnd that special power you’re seeking. A quick glance at
the table reveals that web slinging, for example, can be found under
Special Movement.
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e skills system has been slightly reworked for S:|vcr Agc
Scr::rc|s, introducing the concept of Specialization. For certain skills,
a character may choose a specialization when the skill is acquired
ad thereafter gains a +1 bonus to the skill check when it deals with
their specialization. e list of skills is greatly broadened, with a lot
of skills that could be considered subsets of the Craft, Knowledge, or
Profession skills now given their own heading (and in fact, these three
skills are no longer on the list). Weapon profciency and similar feats
have been replaced by combat skills and the skill rank adds to the
character’s attack bonus or armor class modifer.
Players needing a few extra power points (or just desiring a more
rounded character) can choose character defects. Once again, a table
of name equivalents makes fnding just the right defect easier. Finally,
if you just can’t seem to fnd it anywhere else, there’s always the
Unique Defect, which can be customized to suit your character.
Four Color to Fantasy
By virtue of its design, character creation in Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy
is pretty much just like creating a character for any other »ao Srsrrm
game. e only real diference is that if you want to have super-pow-
ers, you need to take one or more levels of the Hero class. is gives
you access to super-powers. However, because the Hero has no class
skills, gains no skill points, and gets no weapon or armor profciency,
most characters will take another class at 1st level and wait to take a
level in Hero until at least 2nd level. e few new prestige classes that
are included seem more geared towards favor than substance.
is has the efect of making Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy truly unique
among all the other entries. With this campaign template, your super-
hero games need not be restricted to modern-day or later periods. It
is perfectly feasible to run a supers game set on a fantasy world with
medieval technology and the presence of magic. What is more, it’s
possible to have a character that uses both magic and super-powers!
Imagine a dwarven cleric with super-strength!
Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy ofers only a few new skills (all modern-
day equivalents), but does provide a selection of feats appropriate to
the genre. All new feats described here are super feats, which can be
gained in the usual manner or by paying 2 Hero Points (HrPs) on
the Gain Feat superpower. All have some kind of superpower as a
prerequisite.
Powers in Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy are purchased by rank, with each
rank in a power costing 1 HrP. Some powers have a base rank, a mini-
mum number of ranks, which must be purchased before the power
can be used. is may restrict particularly dangerous or potent pow-
ers to higher-level characters, as no character can have a power with a
cost more than their total character level +3. For example, in order to
have Danger Sense (base rank 11), a character needs to pay 11 HrPs.
Since the limit is character level +3, only a character of 8th level or
higher can acquire this power (mostly because a character with this
ability is never fat-footed and never surprised). Some powers become
more potent as more ranks are put into them. Characters may also
choose enhancements and restrictions for their powers, if desired.
Restrictions could bring a power within reach of a less-powerful
character. For example, Animate Objects normally has a base rank of
5, meaning that only a 2nd level or higher character could obtain it.
However, by specifying that the hero can only animate a broad class
of objects (instead of any object), the cost can be reduced to 3, making
it possible for a 1st-level character to gain the power. Restrictions may
be bought of later at the cost of Hero Points.
e powers provided present a good range of capabilities, but
are hardly exhaustive. Energy control powers, for example, are not
ofered. However, Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy includes a section on creating
your own unique super-powers and keeping them balanced with the
rest of the system.
Paragon
Characters in |orogor are created just as they would be for
most any other »ao Srsrrm game, save that the available races and
classes are diferent. In |orogor, each diferent kind of hero origin is
represented by a race; human, alien, augmented human, cyborg, and
mutant. Each has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Hybrid
races (such as an alien cyborg) are permissible with permission from
the GM.
Classes available in |orogor are the Expert, the Extra (an NPC
class), the Gadgeteer, the Martial Artist, the Metahuman, the Rogue,
the Sorcerer, and the Warrior. Of these, the Martial Artist is equiva-
lent to a monk and the Rogue and Sorcerer are identical to their Core
Rulebook I equivalents. e Expert is an expansion on the NPC class
from Core Rulebook II, making it more suitable for use as a PC. e
metahuman is the base “super-being” class, available only to those with
super powers. Like \:g:|orcc, certain races have certain favored classes
and while multi-classing is possible, the standard penalties apply.
|orogor has its share of prestige classes, most of which seem
to narrow the focus of a character. e prestige classes ofered by
|orogor are the Blaster, the Brick, the Champion, the Dark Avenger,
the Martial Master, the Mastermind, and the Mentalist. Most have at
least one power as a requirement.
A few new skills are ofered, mostly to bring the system into
line for modern-era play. Many of these are new Craft, Knowledge,
and Profession specialties. ere are also a few new uses for old
skills. Two new categories of feats are introduced; power feats and
metapower feats. Power feats can be taken only by those who possess
super powers, while metapower feats enhance existing powers, but
with a cost. Using a metapower feat to enhance a power may result
in burnout, rendering a power useless for 3d4 hours (determined
secretly by the GM).
Players who fnd themselves in need of a few extras may choose
to saddle their character with a weakness. Taken during character
creation, a weakness can grant a character a small edge (for example,
a mutant that chooses to take a weakness gains an extra mutation).
Weaknesses can also be gained during play, and these seldom ofer
any sort of compensation.
Unlike the other systems we have examined so far, most of which
permit characters to gain entirely new powers over the course of
the campaign, |orogor generally limits characters to the few powers
they are granted at the time of creation. While this is more in line
with comic book thinking, it also makes characters with a vast array
of powers very rare. Powers come in three amplitudes; standard,
improved, and ultra. e higher the amplitude, the more powerful the
ability is.
Also unique among the other systems, |orogor uses an ability
score called Energy to measure how often a character may use their
powers. Each use of a power has an energy cost. When a character
runs out of energy, they can no longer use their powers until they
have had time to recharge. A character in dire straights can call on
their “second wind” and regain 1d6 points of power, but this causes
subdual damage.
|orogor boasts an impressive array of powers, and it seems as
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though they’ve covered most all the bases. Powers may be modifed
with Amplifers and Reducers, giving a greater degree of fexibility
and customization. For many powers, Amplifers are suggested, while
most Reducers are generic enough to work with any power.
Power Overwhelming
|oucr Ovcru|c|m:rg is unique in that it is designed specifcally
for use with the »ao Mo»rvw rules from Wizards of the Coast (as
opposed to the Duwcrows c Dv.cows rules, which most of the
others rely on). is set of rules is really little more than a template
that can be added to the »ao Mo»rvw rules to handle super-powered
campaign play. It also suggests that as the characters grow in power,
they can become unbalanced in comparison to normal »ao Srsrrm
characters.
|oucr Ovcru|c|m:rg begins with having the characters select
their archetype, which can be a category or a race. e three catego-
ries are high tech wonder (all their abilities stem from equipment or
natural skills), alchemy (magical enchantments, spells, and items), and
altered gene structure (drug-induced mutation, genetic manipulation,
etc.). e races available are mutant, alien, and robot. A character that
does not choose one of these races must choose one of the categories
to have access to super-powers. Each has unique advantages and
disadvantages.
Characters then choose an archetype (didn’t we just do that?),
which we are now told are special advanced classes that enable a
character to become a “true” super hero. As these are advanced classes,
most characters will need to have obtained at least three levels in a
mundane class order to meet the requirements. While realistic, this
can be frustrating for humans as the mutant gains their powers at 1st
level and begins using them immediately, while anyone not playing a
mutant must wait until they can meet the requirements to choose an
advanced class and “develop” their powers.
Each archetype (elemental, enhanced human, powerhouse, psy-
chokinetic, and psyonic) gains access to a specifc group of super-pow-
ers (based on the archetype selected). Other powers may be chosen,
but cost two skills points. As they increase in level, each archetype
also gains a number of power slots to use towards purchasing the
powers they desire from their allotted group.
|oucr Ovcru|c|m:rg has no new skills, but does ofer six new
feats; Advanced Researcher, Forward inker, Inventor, Photographic
Memory, Researcher, and Weapons Profciency (blasters). Most of
these deal with permitting characters to develop technologies more
advanced than would normally be considered possible.
Powers in |oucr Ovcru|c|m:rg are essentially little more than
stackable feats. Each time the same power is chosen, the Power Level
of the ability is increased. A fair number of powers are described,
though the list is hardly all-inclusive and, unlike the other systems,
there is no means of customizing them through enhancements or
limitations.
e |oucr Ovcru|c|m:rg rules do go into some detail on
cybernetics, which several of the other rule systems merely gloss
over or treat as powers. It also makes cybernetic heroes drastically
diferent from other super-powered beings (which is as it should be).
While this shows great potential, the rules are sparse and need to be
expanded on.
Mutants & Masterminds®
Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás is not so much a descendent of the »ao
Srsrrm as a close cousin. It has its roots in d20, but the mechanics
works a little diferently. Every aspect of character creation, instead of
relying on random rolls and chance, is controlled through a point-buy
system. Unlike any of the other entrants, Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás
does not use a class-based system and even level is shoved into the
background.
e number of points available for character creation is deter-
mined by the Power Level of the campaign, which is set by the GM.
ese points are then applied to almost every aspect of the character;
ability scores, base attack and defense bonuses, skills, feats, and pow-
ers. ose who fnd themselves in need of a few extra skill points can
take a weakness. To prevent abuse, attack and defense bonuses, skill
ranks, and power ranks are all given maximum caps determined by
the Power Level. is not only provides characters with the ultimate
in fexibility, but also insures that everyone begins on more or less
equal footing. As characters gain experience, they also gain power
points that can be used to increase attributes, skills, power levels, and
to purchase new feats and powers (if the GM permits). ese points
can also be saved and accumulated for later use.
e list of skills is very familiar to any d20 player. Only a few
new skills have been added, along with some new Craft and Knowl-
edge specializations. ere are plenty of new feats, however, many
unique to the genre. Feats in Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás are not divided
into categories (without classes, there is little point), but there is a
unique type of feat that is only available to those with super-powers.
ese are called, logically enough, super-feats. e system also gives a
few notes on creating new feats.
Super-powers is where Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás really shines.
In six months of playing time, I’ve not had to create a single power
for any character or NPC that I’ve created. Everything I could dream
up has been workable by the existing rules. at’s an impressive claim
(because I can come up with some pretty twisted ideas). at isn’t
to say that you might not run across this problem, however, and if
you do, Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás stands ready to aid you with a very
detailed section on creating new powers and making them balanced.
All powers are given an origin, and a character may have powers
from several diferent origins. e list of powers in the rules is pretty
expansive and I really can’t think of any that they’ve left out. What
makes the powers even more fexible is the system of power modif-
cation. Modifcations come in three forms; extras, faws, and power
stunts. A power stunt is a super-feat that is applied to a power, allow-
ing it to be used in a diferent manner or granting a bonus when the
power is used a certain way. Extras expand the capabilities of a power.
ese increase the point cost of the power, but also make it more
powerful. Best of all, almost any power can be made into an extra of
another power, giving the player unlimited freedom of design! Flaws
are the opposite of extras and reduce the efectiveness (and costs) of a
power.
ZZAP! BAM! POW!
In a game where the heroes are going to be blasting one another
with energy beams and swatting each other with light poles, the me-
chanics of combat are a major consideration. What kind of damage
do super-powers infict? Can a character be knocked for a loop? How
does moving at super-speed afect damage rolls? All are valid ques-
tions in this genre.
Vigilance
Combat in \:g:|orcc isn’t that much diferent from the standard
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»ao Srsrrm. e rules provide some information on improvised
weapons (like fagpoles and cars), and of course frearms and grenades
are available, but beyond this, the diferences are minimal. Armor,
instead of providing a bonus to armor class (or defense, as it is called
in \:g:|orcc) provides DR to the wearer. A character’s defense rating is
equal to 10 + his Fortitude and Refex saves.
ere are a few variant rules in efect to better simulate comic
book combats. e Clobbered variant rule from Core Rulebook II
is in efect, and massive damage threshold has been altered so that
it is more dependent on the character’s Constitution and resilience.
Any attack that inficts more than 20 points of damage may cause
knockback, sending an opponent fying through the air. Finally, there
are a number of new skills called combat maneuvers which may afect
the outcome of super-powered combat.
\:g:|orcc also uses a system of Hero (Villain) points which
allow a character to roll 1d6 per fve levels and add the result to any
attack or skill check roll. ese points also have other uses that vary
depending on which side of the law the character is on. Heroes can
use them for defense and to avoid death, while villains use them to
alter diferent kinds of die rolls, make deadly attacks, insure escape,
and cheat death.
Silver Age Sentinels
S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s combats are, in many ways, just as familiar.
Armor Class, hit points, and Fortitude, Refex, and Will saves are
common terms to anyone familiar with the »ao Srsrrm. However,
one particularly interesting concept introduced here is the defense
roll. Instead of presenting armor class as a static value, a character
that is successfully attacked by an opponent makes a defense roll
equivalent to d20 plus appropriate modifers. A character may defend
against more than one attack in a single round, but sufers penalties to
the defense roll when so doing. e defense rolls stems from the idea
that the standard system of armor class represents a character “Taking
10” on defense. By making the efort random, the variables of combat
are better refected. Attack rolls are still made against the target’s Ar-
mor Class, the defense roll just makes for unpredictability in combat.
Several new combat maneuvers are explored in S:|vcr Agc Scr-
::rc|s. Called Shots may be utilized to disarm an opponent, strike at
areas unprotected by armor, hit vital spots, and attack specifc weak
points. Combined attacks may be used to bring down a particularly
tough opponent or overwhelm a force feld and characters may choose
to strike to wound rather than kill or render unconscious opponents.
Rules governing the throwing of heavy objects (and the damage
caused by such) are also addressed.
Movement in combat becomes an issue when there are characters
that can run in, hit a foe, and leave the arena again, all in the course of
a single movement (thanks to super-speed). For a character with extra
attacks, this can devastate foes. ankfully, the designers spotted this
potential for abuse and squelched it with a graceful idea that involves
dividing the speedster’s attacks over the course of a round instead of
all lumped on one initiative. Characters moving at high rates of speed
also incur penalties to attack rolls and Block defense checks (using a
shield or other large object to defect the brunt of an attack). Some-
thing that is often ignored in these kinds of games is the amount of
damage that moving at a high rate of speed can infict. ankfully,
this is addressed in S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s. A speedster striking someone
at high speed will infict a lot of damage, but will sufer a like amount.
Damage works a bit diferently, more suited to the genre. If a
character’s hit points reach 0, the character has sufered a severe
wound and falls unconscious. Even if reduced to the negative value
of the character’s total hit points, they will usually lapse into a coma
rather than die. Death should be reserved for dramatic efect in a
S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s campaign. For player characters, death is never
accidental. ey must declare that they are intentionally stepping
over the line and striking to kill. An optional rule allows for difculty
penalties to be assigned to ability, skill, and combat rolls based on the
amount of damage a character has sufered. Characters exposed to
emotional trauma may be given a chance to get their “second wind,”
removing all penalties (temporarily).
Knockback is a constant event in the super-hero genre and any
set of rules that deals with such should have some means of handling
this. S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s is no exception. Distance is calculated based
on damage inficted and the target’s Constitution, modifed by certain
powers. Naturally, getting knocked back into a building or other
structure can be devastating.
An optional rule included for gritty campaigns is Shock Value.
When a character sufers damage equal to or exceeding his shock
value, there is a chance that he will be stunned. An attack which
penetrates the skin also causes a critical injury, which must be tended
to or the character risks death. ough the rules do not recommend
using shock value and critical injuries in four-color campaigns, they
can add a new dimension to any game into which they are introduced.
Another aspect of combat ignored by most games is mental
combat. S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s addresses that subject as well, providing
a simple set of rules for handling combat between minds. Everything
from physical attacks on the mind to brainwashing is discussed.
Finally, there are plenty of rules to handle the unexpected things
that supers do, like toppling buildings, blowing up planets, push-
ing their powers to their limits, or using their powers for attack or
defense. While these kinds of things may be relatively uncommon (at
least, we hope so), they can still occur and it’s good to be prepared.
Four Color to Fantasy
Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy, much like \:g:|orcc, replies pretty heavily
on the standard d20 combat system. Besides a few words on unortho-
dox use of powers (using claws for climbing), a section on incredible
strength and giant weapons, and the perils of moving at super-speed,
all else remains unchanged.
e usage of giant objects as weapons is a common staple of
the genre and Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy does an admirable job in their
treatment of the topic. While Core Rulebook I provides rules for
larger weapons, it doesn’t cover things like hitting your opponent
with a wagon. ese rules append those in the core rules with a very
simple expansion that bases the efects on the size of the object. e
larger the object’s size, the more damage it does, the easier it is to
hit the target with, and the more reach it has. A couch, for example,
has no efective reach, does 2d6 damage, and provides a +1 to attack
rolls. On the other had, slapping your foe with the Arc de Triomphe
provides a reach of +60 ft., grants a +16 on the attack, and does 32d6
points of damage! e rules also govern how far a character with
super-strength can hurl an object.
Where S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s touched on the efect of hitting a
target while moving at super-speed, those rules assumed that the
character’s reaction time was matched to their relative speed. Iour
Co|or :o Ior:osy makes no such assumption, imposing realistic limits
on turning radius, stopping power, and hitting targets. Two versions
are presented; the realistic version and the simplifed rules. In either
case, moving at high speeds is not a good idea in enclosed spaces.
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Paragon
|orogor also uses the standard d20 combat rules as a base.
is system, however, takes the stance that while weapons do lethal
(normal) damage, powers cause subdual damage by default (although
they can cause normal damage if desired, but such must be specifcally
stated). While this may not be terribly realistic, it is appropriate for
the genre. Super-heroes and villains beat on each other all day long,
seldom emerging with more than bruises.
An optional rule introduced with this system is that of active
defense. Essentially, by giving up one attack option in a given round,
the character can make an active defense (the equivalent of a parry
or all-out dodge). e beneft applies only against a single attack; if a
melee attack, the target adds one-half the total attack bonus sacri-
fced to AC (efectively, a parry); if the attack is a ranged attack, the
target adds one-half the base attack bonus given up to AC (an all-out
dodge).
|orogor has a slightly diferent take on oversized weapons (the
damage is not quite as extreme as in Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy) and the
range increments are determined a little diferently, but the overall
efect is still pretty much the same. Knockback is also addressed, with
a character’s size and Strength being the determining factor as to
whether he is afected, and the damage inficted determining distance.
Balance checks are used to determine if the character rolls with the
punch and lands on his feet.
An optional system of Fate Points will go great lengths in simu-
lating the four-color feel. At the beginning of a new story, all heroes
get 3 Fate points (humans get 4). ese may be used to gain a +4 luck
bonus to any saving throw, ability check, or skill roll, to halve damage
from an attack (turning a solid blow into a glancing one), or to stabi-
lize the character’s condition when dying. Villains also get Fate points
and can use them just as heroes can, but can also use them to turn an
ambiguous demise into a successful escape. Fate points do not carry
over from one adventure to the next.
Power Overwhelming
|oucr Ovcru|c|m:rg uses the standard »ao Mo»rvw combat
system, making no alterations or changes. A very simplifed system of
called shots is included, but nothing else.
Mutants & Masterminds®
Of all the systems examined here, Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás is
the most drastically changed. Gone are Armor Class, hit points, and
other familiar terms. Armor Class has been replaced by Defense,
which works in an almost identical fashion. Hit points, on the other
hand, have been replaced by a mechanic called the Damage save. A
character’s Damage save determines whether the character is injured,
stunned, or disabled, based on how successful the roll was. Injuries
can stack up, making Damage saves tougher to make and resulting in
a greater likelihood that the character will be disabled.
In short, combats are that simple in Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás.
Two die rolls, one for each combatant, tell the whole story. Knock-
back, massive damage rules, and impairment to a character’s fghting
ability due to damage are ofered as optional rules, but the base sys-
tem is quick and easy. Naturally, some people won’t be satisfed with
a simple system or will just miss hit points. For them, a more detailed
system involving hit points is ofered.
Damage in Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás comes in two forms; lethal
and subdual. Like |orogor, the base assumption is that most damage
from super-powers is subdual, while damage from weapons is lethal.
Unlike |orogor however, the decision must be made at the time the
power is acquired. A power-stunt is available that essentially makes
the damage switchable, doing lethal or subdual damage (as the char-
acter desires).
ere are, of course, several circumstances that can make a dif-
ference in the way that combat is handled. Attacks of Opportunity
don’t really ft the genre and have been absolved, replaced by a simpler
solution. Combined fre can make it easier to hit a target (in contrast
to the S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s rules, where combined fre is hard to hit
with, but does more damage) and mental combat (and the diferences
between mental and physical combat) is also addressed.
Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás also has a system of Hero Points
that can be used for various purposes. Re-rolling a die roll, escaping
death, and overcoming injury are just a few of the potential uses of
hero points. Players should remember that the villains have access
to Villain Points that work in a similar fashion. Hero Points do not
carry over from one adventure to the next, but are regenerated at the
start of each new adventure.
BEYOND THE CAPE
\:||o:rs G \:g:|or:cs, one of the frst super-hero role-playing
games, was focused mostly on super-powered combat. ere were no
rules for handling skills or talents, and the characters’ social lives were
largely ignored. ough this greatly simplifed game play, it also left a
large gap in the comic book feel of the game. A character’s private lives
are, for some players, almost as important as how a character behaves
in costume. Certainly, Sp:ácr-Mor™ wouldn’t have been the same
character if Peter hadn’t been forced to struggle to make ends meet
and spend time with Aunt May. Several years ago, Supcrmor™ comics
would sometimes run stories around “e Private Life of Clark Kent,”
focusing on the periods of time when everyone’s hero was “of-duty.”
For some, how a system handles these sorts of things is almost as
important as how it handles the other elements of super-heroics.
is topic also embraces the world beyond the heroes. It’s easy
enough to simply assume that the world, in which the campaign takes
place, is the familiar world that we know. But is it really that simple?
ink for a moment how the presence of people with super-pow-
ers might have changed World War I or World War II. How might
things be diferent today if we had people who could fy and shoot
energy beams from their hands? Some GMs are perfectly comfort-
able making up these details, but others would rather have everything
defned for them.
Vigilance
\:g:|orcc provides a fairly detailed timeline that tracks the rise of
super-powered individuals from 1095 to 2000, with the majority of
the focus being on the 20th century. ough supers (often known as
Jinxes, though this term applies mainly to mutants) have been around
since about 1095, the rise of costumed heroes did not truly begin un-
til the war years. e timeline makes for some very interesting reading
as it elegantly combines the presence of super-beings into real-world
history. \:g:|orcc serves as an excellent example of how the presence
of metahumans can be woven seamlessly into history.
ree new concepts that are introduced in \:g:|orcc are contacts,
reputation, and resources. Contacts are primarily a role-playing ele-
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ment, largely determined by the player. Characters begin the game
with a single contact, someone from the character’s personal life. Oth-
ers may be acquired at a later time. Reputation is used to judge who
famous (or infamous) an individual is. A character begins with a rep-
utation equal to their level + their Charisma modifer. is result is
used as a bonus to certain skills, depending on the moral bent of the
character. It also afects the number of contacts a character may have
(one-half the reputation score). Resources are a means of tracking
expenditures without having to resort to a bookkeeping nightmare. It
most closely resembles the wealth checks used in »ao Mo»rvw.
ough there are no specifc rules for handling a character’s
of-duty life, the rules presented in \:g:|orcc work adequately. Dis-
advantages like Enemy and Alter Ego have no respect for one’s social
agenda, and can make life very difcult for a super-hero who tries to
maintain an air of normalcy. A secret identity is, of course, the old
standby, but disadvantages like Selfess Savior (the character’s origin
was public) means that a character cannot maintain a secret identity.
ese kinds of problems can go a long way towards providing the
GM with plot hooks to foil and otherwise hamper player characters.
Silver Age Sentinels
S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s devotes almost as much space to developing
the campaign as it does to developing characters. e chapters on
paying super-heroes and GMing super-heroes are almost essential
reading for anyone planning a supers campaign, and provide charac-
ter archetypes, motivations, style elements, teams and team tactics,
what it means to be a hero, designing adventures, keeping the players
interested, troubleshooting, campaign tones, settings, gamemastering
techniques, and so much more!
e chapter on worldbuilding discusses how to put together a
coherent and consistent campaign world, designing villains, death-
traps, and comic conventions. en, of course, there is the default
campaign, set in Empire City (which bears a startling resemblance to
New York). As with \:g:|orcc, the default assumption is that heroes
frst began making public appearances largely during the war years,
although a few made themselves known before that time. Rather than
a simple timeline, S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s goes into tremendous detail on
the default campaign, spending an entire chapter on the history and
a second chapter on the geopolitical overview of the world as of the
year 2000. is is followed up by a very detailed overview of Empire
City, complete with maps, points of interest, and other pertinent
information.
All of this weighs heavily on characters’ private lives. With such
detailed information on the world and the default city, it is easy to
become as absorbed in detailing the man behind the mask as it is the
heroic identity. Combined with disadvantages like Signifcant Other,
Famous, or Involuntary Change, the potential is nearly limitless. e
only aspect of life that seems to be glossed over by S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s
is that of wealth. ere is a characteristic for such, but money within
the campaign seems to be a secondary concern (not that there is
anything wrong with that).
Four Color to Fantasy
Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy doesn’t delve too deeply into the private
lives of the characters, but it does ofer a few considerations for GMs
and players to use as plot hooks, as well as some alternate methods of
character advancement, so that the increase in character levels doesn’t
seem so meteoritic. Setting, tone, power level, and other essential ele-
ments of the genre are also discussed in brief.
Finally, a sample campaign setting is provided; Dark De-
cade. ough it isn’t very in-depth, the setting does provide enough
information to establish a game which the GM can them expand at
their leisure. e campaign is centered around 1980s New York and
includes a few adventure hooks for the GM to run with.
Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy does incorporate a fairly detailed system
of reputation. Characters begin with a reputation score of 10. is
initially increases at the rate of +1 per level gained, but as the char-
acters become known, it begins to increase faster, largely through the
news of super-feats. Characters are also instructed to record how they
are perceived by diferent power groups (police, criminals, the public,
etc.). Wealth, as is the case in most of the other games, seems to be a
secondary concern. Weapons are given a cost, but little other mention
is made of money.
Paragon
Wealth is addressed in a little bit more detail in |orogor, with
starting wealth level determined by race. Wealth level replaces the
nickel-and-dime approach used by Duwcrows c Dv.cows. Basically,
at each wealth level, the character has three totals; normal, stress, and
crisis. Normal represents the cash they can obtain with little or no no-
tice, stress is how much cash they can get on short notice if they haven’t
made any other major expenditure that week, and crisis is the amount
they can scrounge together if they cut all extra expenses and live on
sandwiches. A character’s wealth level also determines their starting
possessions.
Beyond this and a few sample characters and NPCs, not much is
said about the world around the characters. ere is no default setting,
although the inclusion of weaknesses such as Dark Secret and Irratio-
nal Attraction can make for some interesting role-playing situations.
I should note, however, that a free sourcebook for |orogor, \orcouvcr
2020, is available, and that work describes a very detailed campaign
setting.
Power Overwhelming
|oucr Ovcru|c|m:rg is really little more than a framework for su-
per-powers that is added over the »ao Mo»rvw rules. e wealth sys-
tem from those rules is used and there are no character weaknesses, nor
a default campaign setting. ere are no notes on playing super-heroic
characters, although a sample organization is provided, but with very
little detail beyond a suit of powered armor created by the company.
Mutants & Masterminds
e core rules of Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás do not provide a lot of
information on the world in which the heroes live. e gamemaster-
ing chapter does give some good information on creating adventures
and rewarding heroes, as well as some basic information on creating a
campaign, but there is no default setting described in any great detail.
e sample adventure that is included does give a little bit of history on
Freedom City (the default setting), though it’s relatively sparse. at
said, it is only fair to note that Freedom City is more fully detailed (and
beautifully so) in the supplement of the same name. If you’re looking
for a default campaign setting for Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás, pick up
your copy of Irccáom C::y. You won’t be disappointed!
ere isn’t much discussion on life behind the mask here, but a
few of the weaknesses could be used to develop sub-plots. Wealth also
does not play a big role in Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás, though there are
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some optional mechanics for handling this consideration if the GM
desires. e reasoning is that in the comics, wealth generally has little
or nothing to do with a hero’s capabilities.
SO WHICH ONE IS THE BEST?
Tough question, and I don’t have a ready answer. Certainly when
it comes to fexibility in character creation, Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás is,
hands-down, the best system out there and the price tag isn’t too exces-
sive. Both Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás and S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s have an
impressive selection of powers available, and Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás
has a system by which you can create your own, but then so does Iour
Co|or :o Ior:osy, and it’s a lot less costly.
If you’re looking for a setting, S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s is the way to
go. It has the most extensive notes on playing super-heroes that I’ve
ever seen in a game and Empire City (and the world) is described in
great detail. e price can be a little daunting, however. On the other
hand, \orcouvcr 2020 is a PDF supplement that describes a setting for
|orogor, and it’s free. It probably isn’t as lavish as S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s (I
haven’t looked), but you get what you pay for. \:g:|orcc doesn’t have as
much to ofer in terms of detail, but their timeline combines history
with the presence of supers in an excellent blend, making it a great
reference point, and the price is right for what you get.
In terms of mechanics, Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás is probably
the simplest, but \:g:|orcc, |orogor, Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy, and |oucr
Ovcru|c|m:rg all rely on established systems, which may make them
more familiar to players. S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s adds quite a few features
which make it the most complex of the games, but some people like
complexity and SAS will doubtlessly appeal to them. Inarguably, |oucr
Ovcru|c|m:rg is the one that will be fastest to get into, as it is essen-
tially nothing more than a template for adding super-powers to »ao
Mo»rvw. Drop them in and go!
e types of heroes the characters want to play is also a consid-
eration. |orogor, for example, limits characters to the powers they
select at the time of character creation. Gaining new powers, while
not out of the question, is rare. On the other side of the coin, Mu:or:s
G Mos:crm:rás permits players to be fairly powerful right out of the
gate (depending on the power level the GM sets for the campaign) and
they advance steadily from that point. With any of the games, it will
be difcult for players to create Superman™ right out of the box, as the
majority of them build the characters up slowly over time. is is more
realistic, but it may irk some players who want ultimate power right
now.
So back to the question, which one is the best? I’d have to say it’s
the one that you fnd most suited to your needs, given the informa-
tion I’ve provided here. I can’t tell you what will work best for you and
your players. If complexity is your bag, go with S:|vcr Agc Scr::rc|s. If
your group is familiar with »ao Mo»rvw and doesn’t feel comfortable
learning a modifed system, try |oucr Ovcru|c|m:rg. If you hate being
confned by classes, look at Mu:or:s G Mos:crm:rás. If you’re on a
tight budget, |orogor or Iour Co|or :o Ior:osy might be the way to go.
Ultimately, the decision must be your and that of your group. My
advice is to let everyone in the group read through this article and then
get together to discuss your options. As a whole, you should decide on
the system you wish to use, based on budgetary constraints, type of
campaign, ease of use, and what kinds of characters the players wish to
design. Each system has strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately, it’s
up to you to decide with what you feel most comfortable.
Good gaming!
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GRIMOIRE ARCANA: CELESTIAL BINDINGS
Written by Timothy Crumrine
Edited by Wade Nudson
Scc::or 1S: Grimiore Arcana: Cc|cs::o| B:rá:rgs Copyr:g|: 2003. l:mo:|y Crumr:rc
A
fter almost a week on the road the opportunity to sleep on
her own bed seemed a better treasure than any hoard of gold
a dragon could have. Snuggling deeper under the patchwork quilt,
Tarra’s sleepy mind continued on that fragmented thought. en
again, Arasaun didn’t really hoard gold did he? She turned over, straw
crackling softly as she moved, and idly thought she would have to
ask him next time she saw him. Her eyes few wide open and she sat
bolt upright in bed. Arasaun! She had left with Akane without telling
Arasaun she was leaving! e elf would have come into the village
days ago and she would have missed him! Tumbling out of bed she
struggled into her boots and grabbed her sword belt. Her siblings
blinked in sleepy annoyance at her for disturbing them as she bolted
out the door and into the crisp autumn air. e felds that surround-
ed the village were bare, the harvest having been taken in while she
had been gone and hence her family’s late morning, but Tarra ignored
the scenery as she made her way past the felds and towards the
forest and mountain paths beyond. An hour later, as she raced into
Arasaun’s home, she saw a travel pack leaning against the stone table
and the elf sitting nearby calmly reading from book. She stood pant-
ing for a moment as he placed a folded sheet of paper within its pages,
set the tome down carefully on the tabletop and looked at her with a
raised eyebrow. “A little anxious to be back out on the road little one?”
he asked dryly. “I would have thought that you would have slept in at
least for a while your frst day back.”
“Arasaun, I’m sorry,” She said between lungs full of air, “I got
home that night and Akane was already there and then there was this
monk and…” she trailed of at his amused smile. “And you already
know don’t you?”
“Iljrene sent me a message in her usual unusual fashion the
morning after you left,” he said, withdrawing the sheet from the book
before him. Clearing his throat slightly as he unfolded it he began
to read. “Arasaun. Needs being what they are, we require the help of
Tarra in a small matter for about a week. One of her Sisters will have
already left with her this morning. Will try to return your protégé in
one piece. Regards, Iljrene.” He set down the paper and looked at her
critically up and down. “I see she managed to fulfll her pledge,” he
added.
“You’re not angry?” Tarra asked. He gave a snrot that would seem
more natural coming from his dragon form.
“Angry?” he echoed. “No, not angry. A little annoyed yes, but not
at you. I just wanted to be there for your frst night out.” He sighed
wistfully, “Oh well, ere is, as they say, a time for now and a time
for the past.” He rose to his feet and picked up the travel pack. “Both
fortunately and unfortunately, I was here to receive a summons.” He
shouldered the pack and gestured at the book on the table. It foated
back into its slot on the wall. “e Council requests my presence and
I cannot take you with me, Tarra. However,” he turned and looked at
one of the doorways that led to the other chambers of the cavern. “I
think you will enjoy what we have planned for you while I am gone.”
From the doorway came Kyla, in armor and with a faint smear of
brown at the corner of her mouth.
“I suppose its too great a hope that there is any left?” he groaned
when he saw her. Kyla gave them both a puzzled look until Tarra
silently tapped a fnger against the corner of her own mouth. en
with a fash of guilt her hand few to the incriminating mark. Arasaun
shook his head silently as he left.
“Greetings, Sister!” Kyla said happily, embracing Tarra in a warm
hug. “You saved me the trouble of going down to meet you.” Tarra
looked at the woman with mild curiosity.
“What are we supposed to do while he’s gone?” she asked. Kyla
gave her a bright smile.
“Well since you just joined our little group, I thought it would be
fun for you to visit Safehaven,” she said.
“What’s Safehaven?” Tarra asked, confusion clearly visible on her
face.
“Safehaven is home, Tarra,” Kyla said, and then added in a seri-
ous tone, “e only home some of us in the Sisterhood have.” She
turned and began to retrace her steps back into the cavern. “Come
on, I’ll show you.” She entered into the storeroom and stood in the
center of the room. Kneeling down, she brushed away some of the
sand on the foor to reveal a small portion of engraved stone. “is is
a sending circle, Tarra.” She said as she stood again. “Arasaun keeps
it hidden here for our use.” She pulled on the chain around her neck
and withdrew her pendant from within her armor. “You have yours as
well, right?” she asked. Tarra nodded. “Good,” she said, as she grasped
the symbol tightly in her hand. Light began to flter up from the sand.
Faintly at frst, then more brightly, until with a small fash they were
somewhere else.
e room was about the same size as Arasaun’s storeroom but
the foor was stone and carved with an intricate circular design, with
compass arrows on four sides. e only means of exit appeared to be
a stout wooden door across from them. “Okay, Tarra,” Kyla said as she
stepped of of the raised platform. “First lesson about the Sisterhood.
Your pendant is a spell key. It will gate you to Safehaven at anytime.
However,” the paladin held up a cautionary fnger. “ere are some
restrictions to this. First, only certain sending circles will do this
without price. Arasaun’s is one of them. With Arasaun’s circle you
can use your pendant to bring yourself and up to fve others with you
here, no problem. If you try to use a circle that is not attuned to this
one, you can still take up to fve people and yourself, but the pendant
will be destroyed. You can also use the pendant itself to transport
only yourself here at any time but it will likewise be destroyed in the
process. To do any of these things just grasp it in your hand and think
the word Lendel.” She looked at Tarra intently. “Did you understand
all that?” Tarra nodded.
“Myself and fve at Arasaun’s, Myself and fve at any circle and
only myself without one.” She recited. Kyla gave a nod of satisfaction.
She walked over to the door and stopped. e door was crafted of
thick wood planks and bound in steel bands. On the bands and on
the stones around the portal were carved several characters in various
languages.
“Second lesson,” Kyla continued. “Don’t ever use the latch on this
door. To open it, look at the symbols.” She pointed to the engraved
images. “Day, night, light, dark.” She moved over to the other side.
“Wind, water, fre, earth.” en she moved onto the center band on
the door. “Sun, moon, star, sky.” She grinned at Tarra. “It’s easy to
remember. Watch.” She placed her hand on the symbol of dark on
the door jam and with the other gently pushed on the door where the
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symbol for moon was engraved. With a faint click the door swung
open. “Iljrene’s sword.” Kyla said. “Darkmoon. e symbols will switch
around from time to time, but the password is always the same.” ey
passed through the door into a large rectangular room. e walls
were hung with tapestries of dwarven and elven origin, and four stone
statues stood, one in each corner. e statues stood roughly ten feet
high and were intricately sculpted into the forms of female knights in
full armor, with matching greatswords clasped point down in front of
them. Ahead, fanked by two of the statues, was a large archway with
the motto “Heart to heart and hand to hand” engraved overhead in
the common tongue. Kyla turned towards the left wall and moved the
hem of a tapestry depicting a group of dwarven runesmiths crafting
weaponry at a forge. Behind the heavy cloth was a section of stone
wall that the paladin pushed, causing a section to swing inward slowly
and revealing another room. “Lesson three,” she said as she held the
hanging away to let Tarra through. “Don’t exit the Hall of Hearts with
any weapon. Weapons go behind the weapon makers.” She followed
Tarra into the room and stopped short as the girl had paused just
past the doorway. Lining the room were several cabinets and hang-
ers for weapons, mostly empty, but the racks on the foors were flled
with a weaponsmith’s art. It was obviously an armory; the myriad of
weaponry displayed was both lethal and beautiful. Kyla opened up
a case on the far wall that was lined in faded black velvet and with-
drew her sword from the sheath on her back. Placing the blade gently
within its embrace, she also withdrew a short bone-handled fghting
dirk from within one glove and placed it on the shelf below the case.
She gestured at three other cases on the wall. ese were also lined
in velvet, but the frames were engraved with several lines of arcane
script. Two were empty, but the third held a sword with an S-curved
guard and a pommel of a phoenix head. “ose three are for Iljrene,
Anna, and Onyx. Don’t use them, any others are fair game. Leave all
your weapons here no matter how small.” Tarra withdrew Ar’Quisst
from her back and set it in another case next to a gleaming Dwarven
rune axe. “Anything else?” Kyla asked as she shut the case. Tarra shook
her head and Kyla left the room.
“Are there that many members here at one time, Kyla?” Tarra
asked as the girl pulled the concealed door closed behind her. Kyla
looked puzzled for a moment before comprehension erased the lines
on her brow.
“Oh!” She said, “You mean all the weapons in there.” She shook
her head. “No, most of the weapons in the armory are collected by the
various Sisters and stored there until another use can be found for
them or their true owners are found. e cases on the walls are what
we use for our personal weapons, and they have only been full once in
my recollection.” She lead the way through the archway past the stat-
ues, pausing a moment to point them out. “If you try to go through
here with a weapon, these four are sentinel guardians who will attack
you.” She looked at the face of the one on the left. “Right Beryl?” Tarra
was momentarily surprised as the statue slowly nodded her head.
“ey’re only basically intelligent. ey are constructs Onyx made
and their orders to attack a weapon bearer can only be stopped by one
of the Trio, but other than that, a bearer of one of our pendants can
ask them do certain things, like lifting. Also, they can answer yes and
no questions, provided they know the answer.” Kyla pointed to the
other one on her right. “ey are named after gemstones and if you
look carefully, you can see their namesake set in their helms. at one
is Lapis, and the ones behind are Opal, and Jade.” She waved goodbye
to the statues and proceeded through the arch. Sunlight streamed
from overhead onto a spacious garden before them. A covered walk-
way surrounded the vegetation leading to several doorways.
“is is the garden.” Kyla said with pride. “ose of us who have
the talent for it all pitch in and tend it when we are here.” She led the
way down the left-hand path, stopping in from of the frst door. “Be-
hind this door is the Hall of the Fallen, Tarra. It’s a memorial to every
Sister that has ever given her life in the fulfllment of our cause.” She
opened the door and reverently entered. e decoration was somber,
running in blacks and grays. On all sides were multi-leveled tables
that held small framed paintings and a small token; ribbons, small
hammers, and small golden statuettes. e air was still and quiet
and next to every painting was a small shard of clear crystal shining
a small amount of light on the surface of the portrait. Kyla hesitantly
reached out and touched one of the frames. e image was that of a
young smiling girl with an incredibly long ponytail. Before the frame
was lay a brooch of silver and emerald. “is was Shilvi. A friend
of mine from before I joined. She and I were from the same village
before my parents died.” Kyla removed her hand from the frame and
wiped away tears from the corners of her eyes. “I convinced her to join
and she met up with Entropy a few months after.”
“is, as we keep telling you, was not your fault, Kyla.” A soft
voice spoke from behind them. e two turned to see a fgure step
from the shadows. Honey blond hair cascaded around a breathtaking
elven face marred, if it could be called that, by a single thick lock of
mithril silver on her right temple that shone with intensity. Her violet
eyes were lined in kohl like an exotic princess, and upon her cheeks
and brow were tattooed sigils of spellcraft. Her shoulders were bare
and tattooed as well, but she wore a tightly laced corset of deep brown
studded leather that displayed a great deal of cleavage and belly. Upon
one arm she wore a glove of studded leather, covering her arm almost
to her shoulder. e other arm bore only a battle bracer of adaman-
tine alloy and black lacquer set with emeralds and a black fngerless
glove. At her waist was a swordbelt and empty sheath worn over a
skirt of overlapping studded leather strips cut high on the sides, re-
vealing shapely hips. Her legs were clad in a snug web of golden cords
and she wore low cufed black suede boots. Despite her rather sensual
appearance, there was an aura of power around her that was almost
tangible, like lightning before it strikes.
“Onyx.” Kyla said respectfully in greeting. Tarra’s eyes widened.
is was the descendant of Gamiela Ari’ Telmithus, the heroine of
the Necrite Wars. e elf noticed her reaction and gave a warm smile
from blood red lips. Bowing slightly in front of her, Onyx lifted and
spread her hands, palms upward. Tarra placed her arms over them
and gently grasped her wrist, feeling Onyx do the same.
“Lytheral hanullun” Tarra intoned formally. ‘Lifeforce shared’ the
ancient greeting of the elven people.
“Lytheral hanullun” Onyx responded in kind and gently pressed
her lips to Tarra’s brow. Releasing her hands, the elf then moved to
wipe away the faint red mark on the girl’s forehead with a roguish
wink. “Greetings, Sister! I must assume you are Tarra, Arasaun’s
young student?” At her stammered reply, Onyx lifted a hand. “is is
not the place for conversation, perhaps we should leave.” She turned
to Kyla for a moment. “We shall be in the Warm Hearths when you
wish to fnd us.” en gestured for Tarra to follow her leaving behind
the young paladin.
“You will have to excuse me if I do some tasks while we converse.
ere is much I have put of for a time that cannot wait any longer,”
the elf said as they made their way down the walkway. “So how do
you fnd our sanctuary?” she asked the girl as they walked.
“It’s amazing!” Tarra said. “It’s approaching autumn and the tem-
perature is still warm out here. Where are we exactly?”
“I’m afraid for the safety of your Sisters that is one question I
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cannot answer, Tarra.” Onyx said, pausing in front of one another iron
bound door. “Only myself, Iljrene, and Anna know the location of this
place. To protect you from having the information fall into the wrong
hands, we keep it hidden from you. It is here and that will have to be
enough.” She placed her hand on the latch and depressed it. A faint
stirring of air fanned her hair and briefy revealed her ear, pierced
several times almost up to its delicate elven point and bearing several
small hoops. e runes on her face and arms glowed azure for a mo-
ment then faded as her hair fell back in place. She opened the door
and stepped inside. “Careful, Tarra,” she cautioned as the girl followed
her. “is is one of the most dangerous portions of Safehaven. Do
not touch anything.” e elf led her back through a room housing a
complex alchemical setup and several stone tables bearing scrolls and
books. rough an archway Tarra stopped short as she saw a room
flled with the most diverse displays she had ever seen. Onyx went
straight to one in which a black bladed sword bearing a demon’s face
on the guard was held in the tight grip of a metal vice and wrapped in
a long silver chain. Small mirrors were arranged around it, refect-
ing the sunlight coming from an opening overhead. Where the blade
was exposed, Tarra could see smoke slowly curling from the sword
as if it were burning under the sun’s gentle gaze. Onyx studied the
contraption for a moment and then made a few minute adjustments
to the mirrors before moving on. She paused for only a moment at
a vat nearby before moving to the next table. Tarra gave a peek into
the tub and saw an old book, wrapped in another of the silver chains
and immersed in what looked like water. e cover of the book bore
the image of a face, which was gagged by the chain. It appeared to be
screaming soundlessly and struggling against its bonds as its pages
were slowly but noticeably being eaten away. e eyes of the face
locked on to her and Tarra felt an overwhelming wave of compassion
wash over her. e face seemed to plead silently for her to help it in
its defenseless state causing a groan of pity to escape from her lips. In
that moment there was nothing in this world, only the book and its
need for release. It was all she wanted, all she needed in this world. It
would protect her from the dangers that the Sisterhood would subject
her to. It would help her if only she would help it. Her whimper of
despair distracted Onyx’s attention from the adjustments she was
making to a fute carved from a yellowed femur half buried in loam
and surrounded by plants.
“What is I,t Tarra?” Onyx asked as she pushed the macabre
instrument back under the earth.
“It’s in pain!” Tarra exclaimed in horror. She moved to withdraw
the book as a word of power cracked out around her, freezing her
movement. Rage blossomed in her head as the book struggled once
more against its bonds and Tarra saw it true face, so ugly and twisted
in contrast from her memories only moments old. Onyx hurriedly
strode over to her and with a word, released her from those bonds.
“I am sorry Sister, but that was for your own good.” She looked
at the struggling book and her eyes grew hard. “I’m glad it is in pain.
It brought enough pain in this world on its own to warrant it.” She
drew Tarra away from the tub and set her down on a corner of a table.
“Tarra, this is the Victorious Chamber.” She gestured to the devices
around her. “ese all are items of Necromancy and evil. Here we
destroy a little more of their power day by day. e tome in there
was one created centuries ago, a work penned in the blood of the
Necromancer’s own family and he bound his own spirit to the pages.
It contains the knowledge to enslave the will of others and to create
a type of construct known by mages as a Wraith Golem.” She looked
into Tarra’s eyes intently. “If you had taken it from the vat of holy wa-
ter, it would have enslaved your body and possibly blasted your soul
to oblivion.” She reached beside the girl and took a length of silver
chain from the wall. “ese chains bind their powers and keep those
of evil heart from using them, but I spend days in research to fnd
how to fnally destroy them.” She paused and tilted her head forward
slightly, shutting her eyes. “Perhaps this wasn’t the best place to show
you right now. I am sorry.” She stood and helped Tarra to her feet.
ey left the chamber and Onyx turned toward the door again after it
had shut, once more activating whatever magical protections the room
had. Tarra shook her head as they continued. She felt raw inside,
violated and slightly nauseous. e power of that book had unnerved
her slightly, and something that she had thought about during her
studies with Arasaun crept to the fore of her mind.
“Onyx?” Tarra began hesitantly. e elf turned to look at her
with her violet eyes. “How come there are so many things of evil in ex-
istence and nothing of good?” Her eyes held a desperate hope within
them as she stared at Onyx. e elf in the meantime seemed almost
physically knocked back at the question.
“You don’t really think that do you, Tarra?” she asked. Tarra
looked uncomfortable under Onyx’s gaze and looked away. A hand
covered in warm supple leather was placed on her shoulder, and Tarra
felt the strength of the Onyx’s grip as her other hand gently tilted
up her eyes. “Sister,” e elf said to her, drawing one of Tarra’s hands
within her own and bringing it to rest upon her chest. “Feel.” She said
as Tarra’s fngers felt the pulse of her heart under warm skin. “Heart
to heart and hand to hand, I stand with you against any who work
in darkness. I do this for good and hope and the belief that you and
those we hold dear to us are worth protecting, my Sister, my friend.
We are the instruments of good set against the creations of evil.
We, our families, our children, these are the creations of good. e
creations of darkness prey on blood and pain and stand alone in the
darkness they have wrought, never possessing the joy of companion-
ship. We are the instruments of light that endure through time and
carry on the treasure of life, joy, and all that it worth seeking in this
world.” She gave a soft smile and released Tarra’s hand. “ough if it is
actual crafted items that you are referring to, they exist but work in a
more subtle manner than their evil counterparts.” Onyx turned again
and began walking. “I think that you will enjoy this next area even
more so now.” Onyx opened another door and stepped back to allow
Tarra to enter. e sight that greeted her was enough to stop her in
her tracks. e room was large, larger than Arasaun’s cavern, and
as his was, flled with books and scrolls. If she was pressed to guess
though, Tarra thought Arasaun had more written works. His cavern
was flled to overfowing in every conceivable location, while here they
were in orderly bookcases surrounded by large stained glass windows
that threw jeweled rainbows across the foor. Two huge freplaces
stood in the rough center of the room surrounded by large overstufed
chairs. ere were railings and a spiral staircase of iron and wood that
lead to a second story flled with freestanding bookshelves. Armor
stands, paintings and tapestries completed the decorations of the
room and combined with the freplaces, made her feel as if this were
the most comforting place she had ever been.
“is is our library. Welcome to the Warm Hearths, Tarra,”
Onyx said as she came in behind her. “And here comes someone that
I’m sure you will become very close friends with.” Tarra tore her gaze
from the shelves and looked at the fgure walking towards them.
She was dressed in a pair of loose ftting white linen pants and what
appeared to be some form of surcoat like a knight would wear. It was
sleeveless and with a hem that almost reached the foor but slit high
on the sides to allow one to ride a horse. Both were devoid of color or
decoration, but around her waist was a sash of deep forest green. Her
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facial features were tanned from the sun and her brown hair pulled
back and tied into a tail with a simple faxen cord. She smiled at them
both and gave a small bow.
“Hello, Sisters,” she said in a soft-spoken voice. “How may I assist
you today?” She then stood in front of them, hands clasped demurely
in front of her awaiting their reply.
“Tarra,” Onyx said, “is is Rashel, our resident librarian, gar-
dener, and sometimes sparring partner.” She turned her gaze back to
the diminutive woman waiting patiently before them. “Rashel, Tarra
needs a work on the items of magic forged for the use of good.” e
woman nodded, turned and swiftly rushed of with a quick patter of
her slippered feet. “A single book, if you please!” Onyx called out to
her as Rashel climbed the stairwell, disappearing into the stacks on
the second foor. “Not that it will do any good,” Onyx added with a
mutter. e tiny woman returned within minutes with a small stack
of books and two scroll cases. Onyx took the books from her and
handed them to Tarra. “I have to do some research of my own here.
If you like you may read these while we wait for Kyla to rejoin us.”
e elf gestured for Rashel to follow her into the stacks of the library,
leaving Tarra alone. Tarra set the pile on a nearby table and sat in
one of the chairs. After a few moments of gleeful bouncing in the
comfortable seat, she settled back amid the sounds of gentle crackling
from the fre and opened the frst book.
Celestial Bindings
Mog:co| Rcs:ro:r:rg C|o:rs
Powers: ese restraints, when properly afxed, have a series of
interconnected locks that are 100% resistant to |roc| spells or similar
magic. e only way to open them once they are afxed is for a
good aligned individual to unlock them without coercion, or for the
individual to brave the trials of the four celestials. e frst lock is
known as Goor:|’s lrump and has an Open Lock DC of 10. When
opened by an individual of evil alignment, a thunderous horn sounds
out, stunning them for 1d4 rounds and causing permanent deafness if
they fail a Fortitude save (DC 12). e casting of a rcmovc o|:rárcss/
ácojrcss spc|| can remove the efects. e second lock is known as
M:|o|’s B|oác and has an Open Lock DC of 15. When opened, the
individual and all those around them are afected by a o|oác oorr:cr
spell centered on the opener. e spell has a caster level of 20 when
determining duration and damage. e third lock, Azro|’s Co||, has a
Open Lock DC of 20 and causes a special version of the |orm spell to
be cast on the opener. To any evil individual, it afects them normally,
but if the opener is good aligned, the efects are reversed causing a
|co| spell to occur and most likely breaking any evil hold over the
individual. is is the only lock that causes any efect when opened by
a non-evil individual. e fnal lock has an Open Lock DC of 25, and
is known as Ro||’s Rcou|c. When opened, a wave of force pushes all
nearby away from the locked item and casts a joro:ááorcc spell on the
area around itself, keyed to a lawful good alignment. Area of efect for
this spell is a 60-ft. cube.
Appearance: Cc|cs::o| o:rá:rgs are long chains forged of of silvery
metal that shines even under the weakest light. e links are small
and well crafted and the whole length unbound is about thirty feet.
Spaced equidistant on the chain are four metal shapes forged of the
same metal and engraved with characters from the celestial language.
When the chain is wrapped around an item the shapes ft within
one another and lock into place forming a complex mechanism. Any
excess amount of chain contracts to ft snuggly around the item. Only
the opening of all four locks will allow the chains to be removed.
History: e servants of good, those beings known as the celestials,
often have need to work through mortal hands in their duties. And
often those mortals are ill equipped or incapable of the destruction
of the artifacts of evil they fnd. e celestials therefore devised these
chains to bind a tome of evil closed or keep a weapon of darkness
within its sheath until a more sure means of destruction can be found.
Blessed with the power of four of the greater celestials, these chains
can be found in a myriad of locations. ough it is possible for a
prisoner to be bound within their silver coils, such a deed is cruel and
evil, and good aligned people would be tormented by such an heinous
act. It is important to note that this is only the most common form of
this item and that other versions with diferent powers do exist, some
with special requirements beyond the alignment restriction to open
them.
Gauntlets of Retribution
Mog:co| Gour:|c:s
Powers: e gour:|c:s oj rc:r:ou::or are a powerful tool in the battle
against evil. When worn, the gauntlets boost the Strength score of
the character by +1. is however, is not the power that causes such
dread in those of darkness. Tied to the Prime material plane, these
gauntlets allow the wearer to not only ignore the special touch attacks
of undead, but to reverse them and instead strike the attacker. Any
undead creature that can cause level or point drain by touch, even
if it is from the efects of a spell or magical item such as a |:jc s:co|cr
weapon, will fnd that they, and not their intended target, must
make the appropriate saving throw or sufer the efects. is power
functions at all times. Any individual of evil alignment who dons
these gauntlets takes 1d10 points of damage when the gauntlets are
frst put on, and sufers a temporary –1 level loss for as long as the
gauntlets are worn. Removing the gauntlets will regain the lost level,
but not the damage done. If the wearer is unarmed, he may punch
with the gauntlets for normal unarmed damage. If the opponent is an
undead creature, unarmed strikes will do an additional 1d6 points of
holy damage.
Appearance: e gour:|c:s oj rc:r:ou::or are a set of fnely crafted
armored gauntlets forged of the strongest steel. ey fully cover and
protect the hands and forearms of the wearer and the craftsmanship
is fne enough to allow a high level of dexterity with their hands.
Engraved upon the shining surface of the gauntlets are the symbols of
the Lords of Light, the primary deities of good. Around each of the
symbols are inscribed repetitions of the words light, justice, mercy,
and deliverance in the various languages and scripts of the world. e
gauntlets are fashioned so that they can replace almost any existing
pair of non-magical gauntlets in a suit of full or half plate armor or be
worn with a suit of chain mail.
History: ere are several sets of these gauntlets in use across the
world. Most are currently used by the holy paladin orders of Arik,
though some can be found in the possession of other priesthoods
of good gods. Some can also be found in the tombs and lairs of the
undead where they tend to lay still on the bones of the fallen, unable
to be picked up by the creatures of darkness within. e frst known
set of these items is often linked to, surprisingly enough, a group of
priests worshipping Tawn, Protector of travelers and patron god of
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adventurers. ough not normally the sort for armored combat, this
sect patrolled the roads near the Bone Ruins, an area known as a
breeding ground for the undead. It is said that the sole paladin of the
group was gifted the gauntlets by the priests to aid in her eforts to
defend the caravans that braved the roads past the ruins. Over time
the gauntlets were duplicated and often awarded to those who aided
the faiths in some way. ough not always the case, often there is an
inscription on the inner surface of one of the gauntlets that bears the
name of the original owner and what service they performed for the
faith. It may be possible to return the gauntlets to the family or faith
in this manner or the GM may use this as a hook or clue for their
own adventure.
Ilyth’harii
3 Compos::c Lorgoou oj D:s:orcc
Powers: I|y:|’|or:: is a composite longbow that is enchanted with
the á:s:orcc enchantment. In addition, the bow possesses a few other
enchantments. e silver tipped arrows held within I|y:|’|or::’s quiver
are enchanted to return the round after being fred. When used
against a lycanthrope, one of the silver arrows fred from Ilyth’harii
will act as a s|oy:rg orrou. If the lycanthrope makes its Fortitude save,
double damage is done instead. Lastly, during the nights of the full
moon, the s|oy:rg enchantment is strengthened making the arrows act
as a grco:cr s|oy:rg orrou and the damage is tripled if the save is made.
Appearance: I|y:|’|or:: is a composite longbow of remarkable
appearance. Crafted from some form of cloudy white crystal, polished
smooth and possessing the textile strength of fne steel, I|y:|’|or::
nonetheless bends easily when drawn. e bowstring is woven from
flaments of several diferent materials, including giant spider silk,
mithril, and unicorn mane. Inscribed both above and below the grip
of the bow are several runes, which are flled in with mithril. e end
caps holding the bowstring in place are mithril as well. e bow can
be unstrung as normal, but one end of the bowstring is permanently
fastened to the bow. e matching quiver is crafted from chimera
leather and bleached white. e buckles, studs, and metal trim of the
quiver are also of Mithril silver, and the quiver is home to the twenty
silver tipped arrows used with the bow. Each arrow is a masterful
work of art with a broad head of purest silver inscribed with a
beautiful ivy pattern. is arrowhead is mounted on one of twenty
perfectly straight and smooth white ash shafts and fetched with
grifn feathers of purest white. Even after all this time of use, there is
no hint of blood or dirt on any of the arrows or the bow.
History: I|y:|’|or:: was crafted many decades ago as a tool to be
used by the knights of Hana, the goddess of the moon. ose tainted
by the touch of the Unseelie fey to be lycanthropes forever were an
abomination to the Order of the Moon, a holy order of the faith, and
so they petitioned a renowned elven bowmaster to craft a weapon
for the hunt. In an ironic turn of events, the bowmaster traveled to
the temple a century later to present the weapon only to discover
that the order had been disbanded long ago. However there was
no doubting the power of the bow, and it was used by the church
for many decades. It became so famous in the region that it became
immortalized in verse by the local bards.
Moor|:g|: roccs ocross :|c r:g|:.
Bo:|:rg o|| :r s:|vcry |:g|:.
Ir s|oáous áccp u|crc áor| :|:rgs s|ccp.
lc |ur:rcss’s ouorry s|:ps :r:o s:g|:.
A orco:|. o pousc. o u|:spcrcá |:ss
Dor|rcss s:ruc| u::| s:|vcr’s |:ss.
‘Nco:| s:orry scos :|c ouorry hccs
Ior s|c|:cr :r :|c s|oáoucá m:s:.
A orco:|. o uo::. o s:||cr s:g|.
S|c s:g|:s |cr ouorry orá |c:s orrou hy.
lo p:crcc :|c |cor:. |c: |:jc ácpor:.
C|cors:rg jorcs:. cor:|. orá s|y.
I|y:|’|or::’s recent history begins with the forces of darkness staging
a daring raid on the Temple of the Moon and seizing several weap-
ons from the armory, including the bow and its companion quiver.
ough the temple sent warriors to track down the thieves, the bow
and other weapons were never recovered. e temple has a standing
reward of service to the group or individual who returns the bow to
the temple, but as it was lost within the Forest of Temptations where
giant spiders, orcs and a colony of Drow live, there has been little
response to the ofer.
Soulfire
3 Urácoáoorc Sc:m::or oj Rc:urr:rg
Powers: Sou||rc is enhanced with a +3 bonus. It is also a bane
weapon vs. undead, and as such gains an additional +2 to hit and
does an additional 2d6 points of damage to undead. e sword
also has additional enchantments placed upon it that heighten the
wielder’s refexes, granting him a +2 bonus to any Dexterity checks
the character makes, as well as granting him the use of the Dodge and
Mobility Feats if he does not already possess them. e scimitar may
also be thrown with the same range of a throwing axe and will return
to the wielder’s hand thanks to the rc:urr:rg enchantment placed
upon it.
Appearance: Sou||rc is a superbly crafted scimitar of silvery blue
meteoric steel. e curved blade is 34 inches in length and is slightly
wider than most scimitars, averaging 2 to 2 1 inches along the length.
Engraved on both sides of the blade are several characters in the
script of the desert tribes that translate into a brief history of the
blade’s original wielder. e crosspiece is crafted from mithril silver in
the form of spread wings with gold inlay highlighting the individual
feather detail. e grip is wrapped in an overlapping horizontal
pattern with leather strips dyed electric blue. e pommel of the
weapon is fashioned in the image of an eagle’s head with sapphire
eyes. e sheath for the blade is mithril-plated wood, set with
sapphires, and inscribed with various designs. Soulfre manifests its
oorc power with a golden glow that burns undead with its touch. is
glow is strong enough to act as a light source but only manifests when
undead are within 10 yards of the wielder.
History: Sou||rc is the legendary blade of Dashul “e Golden
Eagle”, famed founder of the Eagle Tribe of nomads that dwell within
the Desert of Blasted Shadows. As the half brother of Ascar “e
Desert Wolf,” he was a presence in almost all of the oldest nomadic
campfre tales. Legendary as a swift and deadly swordsman, his blade
Sou||rc used the power of the desert sun to burn away the unliving.
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e inscriptions on the blade tell of the adventures Ascar and Dashul
had while searching for the fallen star that Sou||rc’s blade was forged
from. It goes on to include the battles in the shadow realms where
Dashul freed his future bride and her people, bring them to live in
the desert and founding the tribe that would eventually bear his
name. ere the tales of the blade’s inscription end but the adventures
of Dashul are without measure and the lorekeepers of the tribes
can recount several dozen more; how Dashul slew the six-armed
demoness of the mountains, or turned back the wrath of an efreet
army by trickery, guaranteeing the tribe’s survival. Dashul and his
wife had many children and he led his tribe for several years after
retiring from an active adventuring life. After his death, the blade was
passed down to Dashul’s eldest son who became the S|or. or leader
of the tribe. From generation to generation, the weapon was handed
down as a symbol of the right of leadership for the tribe until almost
a century ago, when war between the united tribes and the warriors
of the kingdom of Istaria caused Sou||rc to be lost within the shifting
sands of the desert. Now it could be almost anywhere. Within a blue
dragon’s hoard, traveling at the side of an adventuring band, within
the armory of the Caliph of Istaria, or still buried under the dunes,
Sou||rc will surface into legend again, and when it does, the Eagle
Tribe is waiting to reclaim their heritage.
The Eye of Armynor
Mog:co| Hcoáp:ccc
Powers: e cyc oj ormyror is a magical headband constructed to
aid a spellcaster in battle against the forces of necromancy. Firstly, it
acts as a |coáoorá oj pro:cc::or 2 at all times when worn. Secondly,
the star sapphire constantly shines with an inner light which, if
the opposing caster is of evil alignment, causes a –2 penalty to any
Concentration checks they attempt. Due to a minor ougury charm
on the sapphire, any spc||croj: checks for counter spell attempts gain
a +2 circumstance bonus. And lastly, the wearer may attempt to use
the headpiece to cast á:spc| mog:c once per round. However, this
spell may only be used to counterspell a magical attack and cannot
be cast directly at any target. In efect, the spellcaster is using the raw
magical power of the item to channel their knowledge of magic, and
not their own personally prepared spells. e spell acts in all ways
as normal, including the requirement of a dispel check. During the
round following a casting the á:spc| mog:c, the 2 pro:cc::or ability
of the headpiece lays dormant and does not function while the item
recharges itself.
Appearance: e cyc oj ormyror is a headpiece crafted of electrum
and silver, set with a 1-inch star sapphire of deep blue in a claw setting
within the center of the piece. Minute dwarven runes are inscribed
around the setting and on each side of the gem, but are small enough
to remain unnoticed from a distance of fve feet or more. e simple
elegance of the piece belays its power as a mage’s tool. When worn,
the individual seems to be enveloped in a barely detectable blue aura
that seems to help ward away blows aimed at them. When confronted
by a spellcaster of evil alignment, the gem glows with a blue white
light that to most is only the brightness of a candle, but to the evil
spellcaster seems like the blinding radiance of a lightning bolt.
History: e origin of the cyc oj ormyror dates back several
centuries to the time of the Reign of Fire. Crafted by the dwarves for
the war against the Necromancers, the cyc was given to one of the few
mages of good during those times. His name was Armynor, and he
was the half-elven bastard son of the Necromancer lord known only
as ‘e Dark One.’ Having never known his mother, he was raised
by the slaves of the household and his father to take his place at the
Council of Bones when he came of age. It was he who discovered the
slave that would become known as “e Black Lion” and would lead
the humans in revolt against their masters. It was also he who freed
and protected this slave and hid him from the mind probes of Hexal
the Witch Queen. Little did the mage suspect that that one act, done
to ease his conscience, would become the turning point that would
bring about the end of his father’s tyranny. For the slave was found,
barely alive, by the guards of the dwarven city, and when he could
again speak, his words kindled the wrath of the dwarven clans against
those of the surface who grew fat on the blood and sweat of others,
and would drag back a man’s soul to his body if he died to continue
in his toils without mind or desire. ey forged him armor and an
axe and gave him the strength of two hundred dwarven warriors. e
slave liberated a slave mine and the dwarves armored the ex-prisoners.
en he struck another and his numbers grew again. en, with the
strength he had, the slave leader attacked the city of Armynor’s father
and tore down the walls of the fortress. e life of “e Dark One”
was claimed, but at a terrible price. His body was burned in the frst
of many bonfres as the Black Lion gave his famous speech, stating
that “the common man would take back their humanity and begin a
new reign, a reign of fre to burn away darkness forever.” Armynor was
spared the fames as the ex-slave recognized him and declared him
his friend and advisor to this new reign. e dwarves crafted the cyc
for him to augment his spell abilities and aid him in overcoming the
foes they would face. When Hexal was found dead and her power
was shattered, Armynor withdrew from the spotlight of the new
order and was thought to travel the lands. In many cases he aided
those agents of the new rulers, known as “e Flames of Freedom”
or more commonly as “e Flames” to fnd and dispose of pockets of
Necromancer resistance, but it was said that he also spend a great deal
of time with his mother’s people, the elves. With the end of e Black
Lion’s life, and the squabble over his succession, Armynor withdrew
from the human world entirely and lived within the cities of the
elves until his death many years later. It was known that he did have
children and that one of them, a girl, inherited the cyc. Unfortunately,
the chronicles of the elven histories do not have a listing of her name
or any children she might have borne, and as a result the cyc was lost
for a while before being rediscovered by an elven battlemage calling
herself Arcana. is woman was the instructor to Onyx, one of the
founders of the Sisterhood of Steel and the cyc was left in her care
after Arcana’s mysterious disappearance. To this date it remains
within the armory of the Sisterhood and is used when needed by the
Sisters.
Tarra let the book she had been reading slide down to
lay fat on her lap. She picked up the mug of tea the small librarian
Rashel had provided, along with honey cakes and a blanket Rashel
had called a ‘Reading Quilt’. e diminutive caretaker seemed so very
determined to see to her every need that Tarra didn’t know how she
was ever going to leave the confnes of the library’s walls.
“You seem cozy.” Kyla’s voice came from behind her as the
paladin came into view and sat in a chair to Tarra’s right. Within
moments Rashel was at her side. “I’m fne,” Kyla said waving her away
in a manner that was half irritation, half bemused afection. “So,” she
continued looking at Tarra again, “It looks like you’ve made yourself
at home.” Tarra blushed a little at that statement. “So tell me Tarra,”
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the paladin said as she settled back within the chair. “What do you
think of Safehaven?”
“I think it’s unbelievable!” Tarra said, setting aside her books.
“It seems just like a castle from a fairytale.” Kyla gave a soft snort
of amusement at that statement. “Onyx seems nice,” Tarra said, her
curiosity bending the conversation’s topic. “She’s defnitely not what I
pictured though from all your descriptions.” e two looked over at
the elf who sat alone at a table in the far corner of the library. Her face
was a mask of ferce determination as she studied the tome in front of
her.
“Are you referring to the fact that she looks like she should be in
a pleasure palace somewhere, with the scandalous lack of clothing she
wears, or was it something about her personality?” Kyla asked wryly.
Before Tarra could reply she continued. “Never mind, I know what
you mean.” Kyla looked around and spotted Rashel busy within the
stacks and reached over to Tarra’s plate quickly, snatching a honey
cake. “I only want one.” She explained as she wolfed it down. “Mother
librarian there would bring me a tray big enough to feed a family of
halfings if I asked.” She licked the crumbs from her fngers. “e
girl’s a year younger than me and she plays mother hen to us all.” She
sighed theatrically. Shaking her head she picked up where she left of.
“Anyway,” she started. “You’re thinking, ‘She’s the daughter of Gamiela.
Why isn’t she regal and like some princess?’ or something like that
right?” Kyla gave another sigh, this one more genuine than the last.
“At one time she was like that. Polite, regal, in gowns so beautiful they
would make you weep twice, once from the sheer splendor of it, and
again when you found out how much it cost.” e paladin looked a
little unsure as to how to continue. “Her father was, and still is a lord
of an elven kingdom. Ruled there a long time, seen a lot of war, a lot
of hatred. He doesn’t much like humans, or dwarves, in fact he doesn’t
much trust you unless you’ve got points on your ears, and even then
sometimes, well…..” Kyla trailed of and looked back at Onyx again
with a sad expression. “Onyx was brought up a proper noblewoman
just like her father wanted. No getting into trouble, always with the
proper element.” Kyla looked at Tarra with a brief grin. “You think
being in your teens is tough? In an elven society you’re not an adult
until you’re two centuries old. She felt smothered, but she loves her
father so much. One day she’s in the woods and she meets another
elf, an adventurer. e woman only called herself Arcana, or ‘the
unknown’ and she began to teach Onyx about the real world outside
her father’s boundaries. Well, when her father found out was he furi-
ous.” Kyla mimed throwing things. “Boy I heard it was something to
see. e next night the princess was gone, and Onyx was on the road
with her new teacher. She got a little wild during that frst season of
adventuring. Discovered men for one thing, if you know what I mean.”
Kyla gave a brief raise of her eyebrow and a knowing smirk at Tarra
who giggled in reply. “Especially human men. Her father’s restrictions
kind of backfred on him. Arcana taught her magic and the sword
and most importantly, to be herself. She dresses like that because
she wants to. ere’s magic in the outft that keeps her warm, so if
she wants to show of what she’s got, hurray for her!” Kyla shrugged
unconcerned. “Her father did give her a deep respect for elven history
and her people though, and she is a champion to them just like her
ancestor.” e paladin turned a serious look to Tarra then. “She cares
Tarra, more than you may ever know. She will risk life itself to protect
any of us, or the defenseless, or her people. She learned hard that a
night elf, who learned from infancy she was the most hated of crea-
tures, can have a good heart, that every living thing must be judged as
themselves and not their race. She mourns for fallen Sisters like they
were blood kin to her.” Kyla drew a breath in and gave another sheep-
ish grin. “Sorry, I’m not usually the one for big speeches.”
“No please!” Tarra begged. “I want to know all about her.” She
leaned towards the paladin. “Is that why she was in the Hall today?”
Kyla bit her lip for a moment as if weighing her words.
“Today was special.” She fnally said. “Today is the anniversary
of a Sister named Olorae’s death.” Kyla seemed reluctant to continue
but she did. “When Onyx started out, she didn’t just discover men,
and Olorae and her were very close.” Kyla looked at Tarra’s blank face
and sighed. “Onyx takes women as well as men for partners Tarra.
Olorae was her partner.” She gave a sharp look at Tarra. “Now don’t
judge her badly, she’s the same as she was before I told you. ere’s
nothing diferent about her because of that choice.” Tarra looked
shocked at her suggestion and Kyla regretted her accusation. “Sorry,
a lot of people have a bad reaction to that news. ey start thinking
that Onyx is trying to get them in her bed.” She shook her head at the
world’s stupidity.
“Tell me more about her please?” Tarra persisted, unofended by
Kyla’s remarks. “I want to know all about her frst adventures.”
“I’m not really the one to ask Tarra.” e paladin said. “I only
know what I’ve heard. You should ask her if you want to know. But
I’m afraid that it will have to wait. It’s getting late and I promised
Arasaun that you would be home before dark.” Tarra looked around
her. Surely it wasn’t that late. But yes, the lights of the stained glass
windows was dimming as the sun set and she knew that it was indeed
time to return. Bidding goodbye to Rashel, they left Onyx undis-
turbed and deep in her studies and began their return to Arasaun’s
home. Retrieving their weapons, something caught Tarra’s eye. Walk-
ing over to the three rune inscribed containers, she ran a hand lightly
over the case that contained Onyx’s blade. “Careful!” Kyla cautioned.
“It’s warded.” e weapon was an ancient elven design. Tarra knew
from her studies that the blade was old because its blade was not
straight like those made after the Necrite Wars. e elves had altered
styles from the infuence of dwarf and human smiths after that time.
“Where did it come from?” Tarra wondered out loud. ough
the question was rhetorical Kyla chose to answer.
“I don’t know,” she said. “It has an elven name, but I’ve never been
able to say it. Onyx says that it’s translated as Bloodquick though.”
“Krilyth’hanalyon” Tarra whispered. “e sword of the heart, and
one of the True Blades of elven history.”
“You know about it?” Kyla said in surprise. Tarra nodded dream-
ily.
“It was a weapon that came from Faerie where the elves once
lived. Only six weapons left Faerie’s borders at that time and this was
one of them. As long as the wielder’s heart was strong it was said to
never fail.” Kyla laid a hand on Tarra’s shoulder and looked at the
blade as well.
“en it never will, Tarra.” She said in full faith. “Come on, let’s
go.”
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LEGENDARY CLASSES FOR LEGENDARY CHARACTERS
Edited by Chris Sims
In all the lands, the greatest champions of justice, peace and
beauty are often the strongest, fairest paladins. Fate can try the faith
of any man, but it takes real tragedy in the face of a well-led life to try
the faith of a paladin. Sadly, legends are full of good and great heroes
whose faith is broken by tragic events. Most heroes feel fortunate
that fate or some god smiles upon them and they are secure in this
knowledge--the cursed champion believes that fate and his god have
abandoned him, but fghts on despite this.
Epics are often full of sorrow and despair. e heroes almost
always triumph over evil and villainy, though sometimes at the cost
of their own lives. Many such tales, however, speak of the sufering
of those around the hero. eir friends and allies are killed, tortured,
abused and sufer at the hands of the hero’s enemies. e hero must
often choose between some greater good and the lives of innocents.
e hero sufers too, knowing that his actions and his stand against
evil have brought death and sorrow to those for whom he cares.
e cursed champion has been marked by fate to fght until his
last day—and perhaps until the end of the world—for the causes of
his deity. At frst, he did so out of loyalty and duty to the cause, but
some event has altered his perception, and the champion feels that the
god is somehow responsible for some tragedy in the hero’s personal
life, the needless death of innocents, or perhaps the willing sacrifce of
others for some higher purpose. Either that or the champion thinks
that his own service to the god is responsible for some tragedy. As a
result, he has lost faith in his master and possibly himself—but not in
the cause.
e cursed champion fghts on, then, serving as a pawn of his
gods, while no longer believing in their righteousness. He fghts for
the cause, hoping that he will somehow wash away his own complic-
ity in the sufering he has witnessed, hoping to help some, and know-
ing that fate will strike down others. While his power and abilities
are great, he fnds that fortune does indeed turn against him at times,
taking the lives of his closest friends and allies—at the hand of his en-
emies or even at his own hand. e fear that he is cursed can drive the
champion to despair and even into bellicose rages. At the forefront
of some great cause, charismatic despite his loss of faith, the cursed
champion continues to attract supporters.
Hit Die: d10
Requirements
To qualify to become a cursed champion, a character must fulfll
the following requirements.
Alignment: Any good
Base Attack Bonus: +12
Abilities: Wisdom 13+, Charisma 15+
Skills: Knowledge (religion) 4 ranks
Feats: Great Cleave, Iron Will, any one feat of the DM’s choice.
Special: e cursed champion must have at least one level of
paladin, but must have left that path due to some personal,
tragic event. e cursed champion may not be able to cast
divine spells.
Quests
e cursed champion does not choose his own fate, going out of
his way to become a cursed champion. Instead, his deity approaches
him with an ofer rarely refused (though, if the character declines, he
does not become a cursed champion). A DM should make clear to the
player what is being ofered when his deity approaches with the frst
of the following quests.
e cursed champion blames himself or his god for some hor-
rible tragedy (see Notes below for examples). His deity comes to him
in a dream and ofers the chance to right a past wrong in which the
character was complicit. e deed varies depending on the tragedy
that caused the character to cease to be a paladin and the nature of
the god. If the character was unable to protect a loved one from death,
perhaps the evildoer responsible for the departed’s death is behind
some plot the deity wishes to frustrate. In return for helping the god,
the cursed champion receives the opportunity to avenge. If the charac-
ter was forced to decide between the will of the god and innocents,
then the quest may involve a way to make amends to those who
I
n March, the d20 Magazine Rack teamed up with Fantasy Fligbt
Games to ofer a very attractive contest. e object was to design a
completely original Legendary class like those seen in Fantasy Flight’s
|o:| oj… series. e results are clearly evident by the numbers of
entries that we received, which you may now read below, including
Herman Lau’s winning entry.
Cursed Champion (Cch)
Written by Kevin Curow
Section 15: Cursed Champion Copyright 2003, Kevin Curow
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sufered or the relatives of victims. e quest must involve a challenge
appropriate to the aspiring cursed champion.
Immediately upon completing the frst quest, the would-be
cursed champion is visited again by his deity, who requests that the
character fulfll another quest. e fulfllment of the quest clearly aids
the deity in some way, but must also play on the character’s sense of
duty by aiding innocents or friends. is quest must at some point
involve the character making a decision between assisting friends
and doing the right or “best” thing. For example, the character fnds
himself in a position where he must either ride to the aid of friends
facing some terrible creature or fearsome opponent, or he must ride
to a village about to be raided by marauding orcs. ere must be no
way to accomplish both. e character learns, after the fact, that the
results of his decision were worse than he believed initially. Perhaps,
choosing to aid the village, he later discovers his fellow adventurers
faced not an evil wizard, but a lich against whom the aspirant would
have been instrumental. Perhaps, choosing to aid his friends, he
discovers that instead of the village being plundered and dozens dy-
ing, the villagers were all killed or enslaved, sufering indignities and
torture as well.
Upon completion of the second quest, the character becomes a
cursed champion. For the cursed champion, however, the curse lives
on. At times he may be approached with ofers similar to the original
two quests. Whether ofcially approached by his deity or not, the
cursed champion fnds that many of his decisions are in fact fulflling
the goals of his deity. e intent is to give the character the feeling
that his doom is predetermined, he has no control over his own desti-
ny, and that he is in fact a pawn of his deity. Perhaps upon completing
an adventure proposed by a fellow adventurer, the champion discovers
that the evil that was overcome had long-ranging plans, which some-
how directly opposed the goals of the cursed champion’s deity.
Notes
e event that caused the cursed champion to cease to be a pala-
din can vary, but in any case the paladin should either blame his god
or the dogged pursuit of his own goals for some tragic event. In some
cases it may be simple. Some action of the cursed champion may have
directly led to the death of a personal friend or hundreds of inno-
cents. Or it may be more complicated. Perhaps while away on a quest
or adventure serving the cause, a loved one was struck down and the
paladin torments himself for not being there to protect that person.
Perhaps he was required—or chose—to push onward to defeat some
foe, when diverting his attention to a secondary goal may have saved
innocent lives. Regardless, he should have renounced his faith for
some such reason. Whether a misfortune is tragic enough is up to the
DM’s discretion.
e cursed champion must care about the sufering of others
and must therefore be of good alignment. If his alignment becomes
something other than good, the cursed champion loses all class
abilities, only regaining them if his alignment reverts to good and he
undertakes and fulflls additional quests similar to those by which he
became a cursed champion in the frst place.
Class Skills
e cursed champion’s class skills (and the key ability for each
skill) are Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal
(Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Ride
(Dex), and Swim (Str).
Skill Points at Eacb Level: 2 + Int modifer
Class Features
All the following are class features of the cursed champion
legendary class:
Weapon and Armor Pronciency: A cursed champion is prof-
cient with all simple and martial weapons, all armor, and shields.
Cursed Cbampion Abilities
All of the following are potential abilities of the cursed cham-
pion:
Enbanced Cbarisma: e cursed champion inspires many to
follow him despite any protestations he may make in an attempt to
dissuade them from following his doomed cause. e character gains
a one-time +1 legendary bonus to his Charisma per power level.
Enbanced Wisdom: e cursed champion is world-weary and
experienced. He knows how benefcent and how terrible destiny can
be and how fckle the gods are. As a result, he has gained a great many
insights into life. e character gains a one-time +1 legendary bonus
to his Wisdom per power level.
Weird Fate (Ex): One of the curses of the champion is living to
see friends and allies cut down by blows intended for the champion.
Once per power level, a blow, spell, or other attack that would result
in the death of the cursed champion strikes the nearest ally (PC or
NPC) instead. If there is more than one ally equidistant from the
cursed champion, each rolls a d20—re-rolling ties—the ally with the
lowest roll automatically sufering the damage or efect that should
have struck the cursed champion, with a normal saving throw. In
the rare cases when the spell or efect that struck the ally would not
normally afect that ally, then choose the next nearest ally. is power
is only activated a number of times equal to the power level—after
that, it is gone forever. is power is activated automatically, not by
player choice.
Fateful Blow (Su): Perhaps because they believe the gods and
fate do not smile upon them, the cursed champion often surprises
himself by his ability to strike down legend’s most powerful foes.
Once per day (only once, regardless of the power level), the cursed
champion may declare prior to an attack that he is attempting a
fateful blow. e attack is made as normal and if successful causes
an additional amount of damage equal to the power level times his
Charisma.
If the attack fails, roll to see if it strikes a friend or ally within
reach of the attack causing the same amount of damage. is ability
may never be used in conjunction with Strike of Fate. If there are
multiple targets within reach, determine the target randomly as per
weird fate above.
Strike of Fate (Su): Fates seems at time to smile upon the
cursed champion, with a cruel sense of humor. Once per day per
power level the cursed champion may declare a strike of fate prior to
making an attack roll. With such a blow, the cursed champion adds
his Charisma bonus additional +2 per power level to the attack roll.
If the cursed champion misses this attack, roll to see if a nearby
friend or ally is struck (with the bonus), sufering normal damage.
is ability may never be used in conjunction with Fateful Blow. If
there are multiple targets within reach, determine the target randomly
as per weird fate above.
Cursed Rage (Ex): e cursed champion is under great stress in
combat, precisely because he fears the roll providence plays in his life.
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Sometimes the pressure becomes too great and the cursed champion
fies into a killing rage. is rage functions exactly as the barbarian
Rage class ability with the following exceptions. e cursed champion
may fy into a rage a number of times per day equal to the power level
of this ability, and the rage lasts for a number of rounds equal to 3 +
the character’s Charisma bonus + the power level, or until all visible
enemies are defeated.
Instead of being fatigued by the rage, at the end of the designated
duration the cursed champion makes a Charisma check (DC 15). If
he succeeds, then the rage is over. If he fails, the champion remains in
the rage for 1d4 rounds, during which he cannot distinguish friend
from foe. At the beginning of the cursed champion’s turn in each of
these additional rounds, he attacks the nearest target with whatever
weapon is in hand. If there are multiple targets within reach, deter-
mine the target randomly as per weird fate above.
Devoted Ally: e cursed champion is one of the few who
recognizes that he is cursed. His devotion to helping others and the
fame he has gained for supporting the cause of some god are enough
to attract devoted allies who are unquestioning in their loyalty to him.
ey are not sycophants, however, and should not be played as such.
e devoted ally is like a cohort as described in DMG, Chapter 2,
Leadership. e devoted ally is reticent to leave the champion’s side,
and may disobey an order to do so if the odds look to be against the
champion. e NPC attracted by the devoted ally is always a fghter,
ranger, barbarian, monk, or paladin and his is the same as a cohort
attracted by the Leadership feat.
Determine this specialized Leadership score in the normal man-
ner, subtracting 2 for the cursed champion’s reputation for ill-fate, and
adding 2 for each power level of this ability. In the event of the death
of a devoted ally, another ally is attracted within 1d6 months or at the
discretion of the DM.
e dwarven stalwart is willing to lay down his life to defend
dwarven homelands and the dwarven way of life. However they have
been so successful killing goblinoids and defeating hordes that this
has not been necessary. Instead the stalwart is willing to teach what he
has learned to aspiring dwarven warriors and stay on the frontline to
ensure that a dwarven kingdom is not overwhelmed.
“A rock pounded by the relentless waves of a stormy ocean” was
how the half-elf bard Luriar Finehand once described his dwarven
companion as they defended a dwarven outpost against a goblin
horde. Like the rock the dwarven stalwart can be worn down, but it
does take time and lots of punishment.
Hit Die: d10.
Requirements
To qualify to become a dwarven stalwart, a character must fulfll
all the following criteria:
Race: Dwarf.
Base Attack Bonus: +12.
Skills: Sense Motive: 3 ranks.
Feats: Great Cleave, Improved Critical (any weapon), Weapon
Focus (any weapon), Weapon Specialization, and any one
feat of the DM’s choice.
Special: Defensive Stance class ability.
Quests
e character must defend or clear a place that has racial sig-
nifcance to dwarves with only a small band of friends (less than ten).
e enemy force must include at least one formidable individual of a
CR equal to the aspirant stalwart’s level for every two defenders (or
multiple, lesser foes of signifcant CR). Further, the EL of the entire
enemy force should be more than four times that normally thrown
at the defenders, stretching the party’s resources to the breaking point.
e character must single-handedly slay a signifcant dwarven
enemy—usually a leader of some sort. Traditionally, such heroes face
giants, orcs, dragons, or goblinoids. It does not matter whether the
battle is a single-combat duel or part of a larger melee. e enemy
must be of a CR no more than one point lower than the would-be
stalwart’s level.
Class Skills
e dwarven stalwart’s class skills (and the key ability for each
skill) are Craft (Int), Intimidate (Str), Listen (Wis), Sense Motive
(Wis), and Spot (Wis).
Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifer.
Class Features
All of the following are class features of the dwarven stalwart
legendary class:
Weapon and Armor Pronciency: A dwarven stalwart is pro-
fcient with all armors and shields as well as all simple and martial
weapons.
Dwarven Stalwart Abilities
All of the following are potential abilities of the dwarven
stalwart:
Dwarven Grievance (Ex): e stalwart gains a +2 legendary
bonus per power level on damage rolls against all traditional dwarven
enemies—usually goblinoids, orcs, and giants—with one weapon for
which he possesses the Weapon Specialization feat.
Enbanced Strengtb: With a body like wiry steel, the stalwart
gains a one-time +1 legendary bonus to his Strength per power level.
Enbanced Constitution: A paragon of dwarven toughness and
resolve, the stalwart gains a one-time +1 legendary bonus to his Con-
stitution per power level.
Hardened Skin (Ex): e stalwart gains damage reduction
equal to the power level.
Improved Defensive Stance (Ex): e character extends the du-
ration of his defensive stance class ability by 1 round per power level.
Further, the stalwart gains one use of the stance per day at each odd
power level. e stalwart is only winded by the stance for 6 rounds
– the power level.
Cursed Champion Advancement
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Speical
1 +1 +2 +0 +2 Cursed
2 +2 +3 +0 +3 Cursed
3 +3 +3 +1 +3 Cursed
4 +4 +4 +1 +4 Cursed
5 +5 +4 +1 +4 Cursed
Dwarven Stalwart (Dst)
Written by Duane Nutley
Section 15: Dwarven Stalwart Copyright 2003, Duane Nutley
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Immovable Stance (Su): A number of times per day equal to
power level + the character’s (improved from the stance) Constitution
bonus (minimum 1), the stalwart may root himself in place, gaining
all benefts of the defensive stance besides the bonus to AC and Re-
fex saves. e stalwart is considered one size category larger for the
purposes of any bull-rush or grapple attack, and the efects of wind
and water; he cannot be tripped. Despite the size-category modifca-
tion for grappling, he is considered to be normal size for the purposes
of determining how many opponents can grapple him and whether he
may join a grapple. In this stance, the stalwart cannot use any skills or
abilities or take any action that requires him to move from his posi-
tion. He may end this stance at will, and must do so to make a Refex
saving throw against any area attack that afects more than a 10-ft.
radius around him. e ascetic may choose to forgo the Refex save,
and maintain his stance.
Precision Strikes (Ex): e stalwart gains a one-time +1 leg-
endary bonus to attack rolls with one weapon for which he possesses
the Weapon Specialization feat.
While many spellcasters have the ability to create magical items,
the high artifcer is the undisputed master of his craft. ese people
take their creation seriously, spending countless hours toiling over
their craft. rough their devotion, they can reduce the time and
energy required to create, and create more potent items than others.
Hit die: d6
Requirements
To qualify to become a high artifcer, a character must fulfll all of
the following requirements:
Skills: Craft (any two): 15 ranks
Feats: Any fve item-creation feats.
Special: e character must have the ability to cast 6th-level
spells.
Quests
Once a character announces that he wishes to become a high
artifcer, he must create magic items whose base market price exceeds
500,000 gold pieces. e experience points expended in creating
these items must come from adventuring, and cannot be the result of
a u:s|, ácc| oj mory :|:rgs. or some other form of magic that grants
a character experience. At least one of these items must have a base
market value of at least 150,000 gold pieces.
is class is a constant quest of perfecting the art of creation. To
progress another level in this class, the character must create at least
one magic item whose base market price is 50,000 gold pieces.
Class Skills
e high artifcer’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill)
are Alchemy (Int), Concentration (Con), Craft (all skills, taken indi-
vidually) (Int), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Scry
(Int, exclusive skill) and Spellcraft (Int).
Skill Points at Eacb Level: 2 + Int modifer
Class Features
All the following are class features of the high artifcer:
Weapon and Armor Pronciency: A high artifcer gains no
new profciency in any weapon or armor.
Higb Artificer Abilities
e following are potential abilities of the high artifcer
legendary class:
Economical Creation (Ex): e high artifcer knows how to
get the most out of his materials. e base market price, for creation
purposes only, is reduced by 10% per power level.
Emcient Creation (Su): e high artifcer can create items with-
out taxing himself as greatly. Normally, the experience point cost to
create an item is 4% of the item’s base price. Each power level in this
ability reduces the experience cost by .5%.
Empowered Creation (Su): e high artifcer can create more
potent items. e save DC for spell efects from items created by the
high artifcer is increased by 2 points per power level.
Enbanced Cbarisma: e high artifcer gains a one-time +1
legendary bonus to their Charisma per power level.
Enbanced Intelligence: e high artifcer gains a one-time +1
legendary bonus to their Intelligence per power level.
Enbanced Spellcasting: e high artifcer gains spells per day
and caster levels in one spellcasting class equal to the power level of
this ability. is is a one-time bonus.
Enbanced Wisdom: e high artifcer gains a one-time +1
legendary bonus to their Wisdom per power level.
Rapid Creation (Ex): e high artifcer can create an additional
500 gold pieces per power level per day than normal. So, a character
that takes this power at second level in the high artifcer class can cre-
ate 2,000 gold pieces worth of items per day.
When a goblinoid or orc lives long enough, he gains a reputation
for viciousness, survival, and victory—just the qualities other gobli-
noids are looking for in a leader. A horde warchief is a legend amongst
his people and a terror amongst other races as well. Such leaders
Dwarven Stalwart Advancement
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Speical
1 +1 +2 +0 +2 Dwarven Stalwart Abilty I
2 +2 +3 +0 +3 Dwarven Stalwart Abilty II
3 +3 +3 +1 +3 Dwarven Stalwart Abilty III
4 +4 +4 +1 +4 Dwarven Stalwart Abilty IV
5 +5 +4 +1 +4 Dwarven Stalwart Abilty V
High Artifcer Advancement
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Speical
1 +0 +0 +0 +2 High Artifcer Ability I
2 +1 +0 +0 +3 High Artifcer Ability II
3 +1 +1 +1 +3 High Artifcer Ability III
4 +2 +1 +1 +4 High Artifcer Ability IV
5 +2 +1 +1 +4 High Artifcer Ability V
High Artificer (Hia)
Written by Paul W. King
Section 15: High Artifcer Copyright 2003 Paul W. King
Horde Warchief (Hwc)
Written by Duane Nutley
Section 15: Horde Warchief Copyright 2003, Duane Nutley
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bring down a horde of organized tribes against the civilized folk of
the region. However the warchief can also use this force for personal
means, usually against a specifc location or race that the warchief
particularly hates.
Any core class that emphasizes strength and prowess in battle is
suitable to become a horde warchief. Barbarians are most suited, with
fghters a close second. Spellcasters are rarely warchiefs, due to their
lack of fghting prowess and the superstitious nature of the goblinoid
and orc peoples.
Hit Die: d12
Requirements
To qualify to become a horde warchief, a character must fulfll all
the following criteria:
Race: Goblinoid or Orc.
Base Attack Bonus: +12.
Cbarisma: 13+
Intimidate: 6 ranks.
Feats: Great Cleave, Weapon Focus, Toughness, Endurance,
Leadership, and any one feat of the DM’s choice.
Special: Rage or a class ability or feat that resembles rage.
Quests
e aspiring warchief must prove himself in battle by leading a
successful campaign against the enemies of his people. Other than at
least six successful raids and guerilla actions (successful meaning the
aspirant’s team accomplishes the goal and at least half of them come
back alive), the hopeful must choose a sizeable settlement in the area
and lead a military action against it. e forces must be roughly equal
(thus giving an advantage to the defenders) and settlement soundly
defeated. During the ensuing melee, the contender for horde warchief
must seek out and slay the settlement’s leader in single combat, also
slaying any who interfere (including his own followers).
e hopeful must then negotiate alliances with all of the tribes in
the area under his banner of war, slaying any who oppose him. ere
must be at least three other parties to whom the warchief allies, but
these can include races not of the potential warchief ’s type. An orc
warchief ’s alliances with two other orc tribes and a clan of giants are
perfectly acceptable.
is united force must be led in an initial campaign against a
chosen target of roughly equal power. e chosen area or settlement
must be totally defeated and subjugated or destroyed. Only then is
the warchief proven, and he ascends to legendary status.
Class Skills
e horde warchief ’s class skills (and the key ability for each
skill) are Climb (Str), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Str), Jump
(Str), Listen (Wis), and Wilderness Lore (Wis).
Skill Points at Eacb Level: 2 + Int modifer.
Class Features
All of the following are class features of the horde warchief
legendary class:
Weapon and Armor Pronciency: A horde warchief is profcient
with all armors and shields as well as all simple and martial weapons.
Horde Warcbief Abilities
All of the following are potential abilities of the horde warchief:
Bear Skin (Su): A number of times per day equal to 1 + Con-
stitution bonus (minimum 1) the warchief hardens his skin like that
of an animal gaining a +2 natural armor bonus to AC per power level
for a number of rounds equal to the power level plus the warchief ’s
Constitution modifer. e uses per day of this ability are never in-
creased by a temporary change in Constitution (such as that provided
by rage).
Burst of Speed (Su): A number of times per day equal to the
power level, the horde warchief can move faster in medium or lighter
armor for a number of rounds equal to three + Constitution modi-
fer + power level. With this power, the warchief moves at +5 ft. per
power level per round and gains the beneft of the Run feat.
Enbanced Strengtb: e horde warchief gains a one-time +1
legendary bonus to his Strength per power level.
Enbanced Constitution: e horde warchief gains a one-time
+1 legendary bonus to his Constitution per power level.
Enbanced Leadersbip (Ex): e horde warchief gains a one-
time +3 legendary bonus per power level to his Leadership score.
Enbanced Rage (Ex): When the character rages, he gains a +1
legendary bonus to Strength and Constitution and extends each rage
for a number of rounds equal to the power level. Each even power
level adds one rage per day. At power level 5, the horde warchief is not
fatigued after a rage.
Inspire Frenzy (Su): e character can inspire frenzy in all fol-
lowers within 60 ft. who can hear him. e frenzy gives the followers
a +1 enhancement bonus per odd power level of the character to
Strength, Constitution and Will saves, and lasts 1 round + 1 round
per power level. At the end of the time limit, all surviving, afected
followers are fatigued.
ere are many archaeologists who spend there times at digs
discovering what our predecessors have left behind. Master archae-
ologists, though, are driven to fnd that which, by all rights, should
probably still be left lost. ey pour over ancient tomes looking for
clues to discover what time has forgotten. Concerned more with
uncovering antiquity than with propriety or regional law, these folks
are constantly getting into trouble with local authorities. (is class is
for use with the á20 Moácrr roleplaying game.)
Hit Die: 1d8
Action Points: 7 + one half of character level, rounded down,
every time the character attains a new level in this class.
Requirements
To qualify to become a master archaeologist, a character must
fulfll the following requirements:
Abilities: Intelligence 15+
Horder Warchief Advancement
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Speical
1 +1 +2 +0 +0 Horde Warchief Ability I
2 +2 +3 +0 +0 Horde Warchief Ability II
3 +3 +3 +1 +1 Horde Warchief Ability III
4 +4 +4 +1 +1 Horde Warchief Ability IV
5 +5 +4 +1 +1 Horde Warchief Ability V
Master Archeologist (Mar)
Written by Paul W. King
Section 15: Master Archeologist Copyright 2003, Paul W. King
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Feats: Educated (Knowledge (history), Knowledge (arcane lore)
or (theology and philosophy)), Studious and one other feat
of the GM’s choice.
Skills: Decipher Script: 12 ranks, Disable Device: 6 ranks,
Knowledge (arcane lore): 6 ranks, Knowledge (history):
12 ranks, Knowledge (theology and philosophy): 6 ranks,
Navigate: 6 ranks, Search: 6 ranks, Read/Write: 3 ancient
languages, Research: 12 ranks
Quests
e master archaeologist must fnd/uncover three objects or
evidences of places thought lost to history. At least one of these things
must be something believed to be pure myth by the public at large.
Examples include: Ark of the Covenant, Atlantis, El Dorado, Holy
Grail, Round Table and Shangri-La.
Class Skills
e master archaeologist’s class skills (and the key ability for
each skill) are Computer Use (Int), Concentration (Con), Craft (elec-
tronic, mechanical, structural, writing) (Int), Decipher Script (Int),
Demolitions (Int), Disable Device (Int), Forgery (Int), Knowledge
(arcane lore, current events, earth and life sciences, history, physical
sciences, streetwise, theology and philosophy) (Int), Listen (Wis),
Navigate (Int), Profession (Wis), Read/Write Language, Research
(Int), Search (Int), Speak Language, Spellcraft (Int) and Spot (Wis).
Skill Points at Eacb Level: 9 + Int modifer
Master Arcbaeologist Abilities
e following are potential abilities of the master archeologist
legendary class:
Apostolic: e archeologist fnds the location of an ancient
artifact holy to her patron deity (requiring an adventure to recover).
If the character has no patron deity, this deity occomcs her patron.
is entity immediately is added to the character’s list of allegiances
when the archeologist takes possession of the artifact. Finding this
item grants the character the ability to cast divine spells according to
power level:
e apostolic master
archeologist may only cast
spells of a level equal to or
less than her Wisdom –10.
She never gains bonus spells
for high Wisdom from this
power. e character must
spend an hour each day in
quiet contemplation or sup-
plication to regain her daily
allotment of spells. Time spent resting has no efect on whether the
character can prepare spells. e DC for spells is 10 + spell’s level +
Wisdom modifer. Concentration (Con), Spellcraft (Int, trained only)
and Use Magic Device (Cha, trained only) become class skills.
Arcanist: e archeologist fnds the location of an ancient tome
flled with arcane spells (requiring an adventure to recover). is
tome allows the character to acquire the ability to cast arcane spells
according to power level, using the same chart as the apostolic power
for spells per day.
e tome contains all cantrips, and 2 other spells per power level.
High Intelligence never allows the archeologist to gain extra spells via
this power. e character must prepare spells ahead of time by getting
a good night’s sleep (8 hours) and spending one hour studying her
tome. e DC for spells is 10 + spell’s level + Intelligence modifer.
Concentration (Con), Spellcraft (Int, trained only) and Use Magic
Device (Cha, trained only) become class skills.
Artifact: e archeologist discovers the location of a magical or
psionic item from antiquity (requiring an adventure to recover). Each
power level of this ability allows an enhancement bonus or +1 or a
special power, with the exception that the item must have an enhance-
ment bonus of at least +1 before gaining any other ability. Unlike
other legendary powers, this ability may be selected more than once.
Catacomb Master (Ex): rough years of experience, the arche-
ologist is adept at skills that aid in uncovering the lost. e character
gains a +2 legendary bonus per power level to the following skills:
Decipher Script, Disable Device, Navigate, Research, and Search.
Enbanced Intelligence: e archeologist gains a one-time +1
legendary bonus per power level to her Intelligence.
Enbanced Wisdom: e archeologist gains a one-time +1 leg-
endary bonus per power level to her Wisdom.
Find tbe Patb (Su): Once per day per power level the arche-
ologist can cast the spell of the same name. e caster level is the
character’s power level.
Luck of tbe Draw (Ex): e character gains a +2 legendary bo-
nus per power level, which may be distributed among the character’s
saving throws. No one saving throw can have a bonus higher than the
power level.
Master Linguist (Ex): rough years of studying ancient and
modern texts and deciphering cryptic and lost languages, the arche-
ologist gains 2 Read/Write or Speak Language skills per power level,
these can be ancient or modern languages. So, a character taking this
at frst level could choose two read/write language skills, two speak
language skills or one of each.
Psionicist: e archeologist has found a crystal containing
psychic power. is crystal awakens latent psionic abilities within the
character according to the power level of this ability:
A psionic character must have a score in a power’s key ability
equal to 10 + the power’s level in order to manifest the power. e
psionic archeologist does not gain bonus power points and cannot
manifest any power for free. e DC for powers is 10 + the power’s
level + the psionic character’s key ability modifer. Autohypnosis
(Wis, trained only) and Psicraft (Int, trained only) become class skills.
PowerLevel Spells per Day
0 1 2
1 2 1 -
2 2 2 -
3 4 3 -
4 4 3 1
5 5 3 2
Power
Level
Power Pts./Day Powers Discovered by Level
0 1 2
1 2 2 - -
2 3 3 - -
3 4 3 1 -
4 5 3 2 -
5 7 3 2 1
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acter must eradicate three entire communities of his favored enemies.
At least one specifc creature from each of the prospective nimrod’s
favored enemies must be selected. For example, Venator (Rgr 12)
has three favored enemies at this point: beasts, goblinoids, and oozes.
To become eligible for nimrod status, Venator must eradicate three
groups of favored enemies from the region. He decides to rid his area
of a goblin tribe, owlbears, and ochre jellies. e DM must approve
any choices the player makes, and the aspirant may not be aided by
more than fve other characters.
e nimrod hopeful must select a wilderness locale to serve as
his home. e DM must approve the player’s choice, and the geo-
graphical limits of the area. e great hunter is responsible for clear-
ing his new habitat of monsters and other unwelcome creatures. Once
that is accomplished, the character must seek out, befriend, and gain
the support of the barbarians, druids, and rangers in the region and
enlist their aid in protecting the balance of nature, and keeping the vi-
cinity free of unnatural dangers. Any individuals unfamiliar with the
contender’s eforts will present him with trials to test the sincerity of
his words. Lastly, the character must meet with the local governments
of the civilized common races in the area and convince them to regu-
late their use of local resources. Hunting, fshing, trapping, farming,
logging, and other development is permitted, but must be regulated
wisely. Some settlements won’t appreciate what the character is at-
tempting to do, seeing nature as something to be exploited.
Class Skills
e nimrod’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are
Animal Empathy (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft
(Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Intuit Direc-
tion (Wis), Jump (Str), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Listen (Wis),
Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Search (Int),
Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Use Rope (Dex), and Wilderness Lore
(Wis).
Skill Points at Eacb Level: 4 + Int modifer.
Class Features
All of the following are class features of the nimrod legendary
class.
Weapon and Armor Pronciency: Nimrods are profcient with
all simple and martial weapons, light armor, medium armor, and
shields.
Favored Enemy: A nimrod continues to select favored enemies
as if his efective ranger level was equal to the sum of his current
ranger and nimrod levels. In doing so, the nimrod is obligated to
exterminate, per “Quests” above, one local gathering of creatures from
the newly selected favored enemy type, if there are any.

Nimrod Abilities
All of the following are potential abilities of the nimrod:
Animal Kinsbip (Sp): e nimrod can spco| u::| or:mo|s once
per day per power level. Nimrods can also summon animals, per the
summor ro:urc’s o||y I and II spells. ese spells may be cast as if the
nimrod had one level of free spell slots available per power level. us,
if this ability was selected at third level, the nimrod could use summor
ro:urc’s o||y I three times a day, or each spell once per day. Duration of
these spells is determined as if the nimrod’s character level were his
caster level.
Many Tongues: e nimrod gains the Druidic language and one
additional spoken language per power level. e additional languages
Nimrod is the name given to the individual who has demonstrat-
ed his abilities as a mighty hunter. Once every few generations, there
comes a hunter who has achieved complete attunement to nature, and
is held in awe by nature-dwelling and civilized folk alike for his abili-
ties and knowledge of the wild. is occurs so rarely, that there has
never been more than one nimrod alive at any time. In fact, there are
many years without anyone holding such a title between the passing
of one and the attainment of legendary status by another.
Nimrods are familiar with nearly all of the native animal species
of the forest region they call home. ey survive primarily of the
land, but are constantly aware of the delicate balance that exists be-
tween species (including their own) in a forest, and work to maintain
that balance. Monsters are viewed as violating that precious equilib-
rium and are considered blights on the natural landscape. Just as the
Nimrod may be considered a legendary hero in some civilized lands,
he is considered a fearsome enemy by the races of creatures he has
sworn to eradicate.
Hit Die: d10.

Requirements
To qualify to become a nimrod, a character must fulfll all the
following requirements.
Alignment: any non-evil neutral (LN, N, NG, CN).
Abilities: Dexterity: 15+, Constitution: 13+, Wisdom: 15+.
Skills: Hide: 5 ranks, Intuit Direction: 5 ranks, Knowledge
(nature): 10 ranks, Listen: 5 ranks, Move Silently: 5 ranks,
Spot: 5 ranks, Wilderness Lore: 15 ranks.
Feats: Alertness or Hunter’s Wisdom*, Endurance, Precise Shot,
Track, and any one feat of the DM’s choice.
Special: e character must possess at least two favored en-
emies, either through the ranger class ability or some other
means, such as a feat or prestige class ability.
Quests
Before becoming eligible for achieving nimrod status, the char-
Master Archeologist Advancement
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Speical Defense
Bonus
Reputation
Bonus
1 +0 +2 +0 +0 Ability I +1 +1
2 +1 +3 +0 +0 Ability II +2 +1
3 +2 +3 +1 +1 Ability III +2 +1
4 +3 +4 +1 +1 Ability IV +2 +2
5 +3 +4 +1 +1 Ability V +3 +2
Nimrod (Nim)
Written by Scott Moore
Section 15: Nimrod Copyright 2003, Scott Moore, |o:| oj :|c
Suorá Copyright 2002, Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc.; lourromcr:s.
Io:rs. orá lovcrrs. Copyright 2002, Natural 20 Press; V:|á Spc||croj:,
Copyright 2002, Natural 20 Press; lrops G lrcoc|cry Copyright
2001, Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc.; Dcoá|orás á20 Copyright
2001, Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Inc.; Drogors:or” S:orjorcr’s
Horáooo| Copyright 2001, Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc.; Open
Game Content from lc l:ác oj Ycors Copyright 2001, Michelle A.
Brown Nephew; Scojorcr’s Horáooo| Copyright 2001, Fantasy Flight
Publishing, In
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may only be selected from those spoken by the character’s favored en-
emies. A druid must be sought to teach the nimrod Druidic; he holds
a special position of honor among druids, allowing them to teach him
their secret tongue.
Cbild of Nature (Ex): e nimrod can gain the druid class abili-
ties nature sense, woodland stride, trackless step, resist nature’s lure,
and venom immunity. When selecting this ability, the nimrod gains
only those abilities that would be possessed by a druid of the same
level as this ability’s power level; venom immunity is gained at power
level fve.
Wild Gift (Sp): e nimrod gains the ability to cast druid spells
as if he was a druid of the same level as this power level.
Environmental Attunement (Ex): When in his home area, the
nimrod is especially attuned to his environment, granting him a +1
legendary bonus per power level to Animal Empathy, Hide, Intuit
Direction, Listen, Move Silently, and Spot skill checks, as well as
Wilderness Lore checks for tracking. e legendary hunter cannot be
surprised in this location and gains +1 to initiative per power level.
Great Hunter (Ex): e nimrod gains +1 legendary bonus
to ranged attack rolls per power level against any creature caught
fat-footed in a surprise round. Against targets to which this bonus
would apply, the critical threat range of a ranged attack is increased
by one for each power level, stacking with any other such modifers
after multipliers are applied. e damage multiplier for a critical hit
is likewise increased. If a nimrod had the feat Improved Critical with
his longbow and this ability at power level three, the threat range for
his bow in this situation becomes 16-20 (normally 20, doubled to
19-20, then add three for 16-20) and the damage multiplier is raised
to x6. Finally, the nimrod receives a bonus of +1 per power level to his
Wilderness Lore skill when attempting to provide food for himself
and others.
Patience: Due to tireless patience, a nimrod gains a +1 legendary
bonus to Wisdom per power level.
Outdoorsman (Ex): e nimrod gains a +1 legendary bonus
per power level to his Wilderness Lore skill for all purposes other
than tracking, stacking with the great hunter ability when applicable.
A nimrod also gains this bonus to Craft (cartography) checks to
create and read maps, Knowledge (nature) checks to identify animals,
plants, and poisons, Profession (fshing), and Profession (herbalist) to
make herbal antitoxins that work just like the alchemical substance of
the same name.
In the shadows of champions and epic legends stand those of
divine insight, the shadowy manipulators of fate, oracles of tomor-
row. Prophets. For their god and themselves, they steer the agents
of change through the fow of time. With a cryptic edict and an aura
of command, lives are changed at their whim. ose that fail the
prophet are lost to time, but those that succeed are forever known as
heroes.
Prophets are creatures outside of normal existence, their insight
and proximity to divinity making them more akin to celestial beings
then mere mortals. ough their goals are obscure, and span life-
times, prophets are merely acting on the in accord with the heavens.
Granted powers to assure this, prophets rarely need the intervention
of their god.
ough powerful in their own right, prophets fnd their greatest
skill and most called upon talent to be their legendary guidance. With
a divine hint of the future, their careful words craft the history of to-
morrow. eir prophecies are the harbingers of world-shaking events
and the guides followed by those that would save or end the world.
ough their talents may be the same, prophets are as diferent
as the gods they serve. Where a prophet of the god of law may sit as
divine judge in a realm’s highest court, the god of death’s prophet may
subtly fan the fame of discord among the peasantry, and all the while
the goddess of nature may guide her worshipers to confer with her
prophet upon a mountain peak. eir orders are to be followed, their
wrath is to be feared, their council is to be sought, and doom on any
who ignore the prophet’s word.
Hit Die: d12.
Class Requirements
e qualify to become a prophet, a character must fulfll the fol-
lowing criteria:
Wisdom: 17+
Skills: Knowledge (religion): 15 ranks
Feats: Iron Will, Leadership, any one feat of the DM’s choice.
Special: e character must be able to cast 7th-level divine spells
and must have made direct contact with his god or an avatar
of that god.

Quests
When a priest is deemed worthy of becoming a prophet, a direct
agent of his god contacts him, questing him to retrieve a specifc
item of lesser artifact status or greater. e journey of the would-be
prophet must take him longer then one year or farther then 10,000
miles from his home. He may take with him any companions he
pleases, but only he may touch the artifact once it is recovered. No
other may touch the device
Once the would-be prophet returns to his home, he must will-
ingly bestow the artifact to an ally of the church (of 10th-level or
Nimrod Advancement
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Speical
1 +1 +2 +0 +2 Ability I
2 +2 +3 +0 +3 Ability II
3 +3 +3 +1 +3 Ability III
4 +4 +4 +1 +4 Ability IV
5 +5 +4 +1 +4 Ability V
Prophet
Written by F. Wesley Scbneider
Section 15: Prophet Copyright 2003, F. Wesley Schneider
“At forty-fve degrees, the sky will burn,
Fire approaches the great new city,
Immediately a huge, scattered fame leaps up
When they want to have verifcation from the Normans.”
~Nostradamus
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less) and quest him to use the artifact to right a great wrong (wrong
meaning something opposed to the goals of the prophet’s deity). Ap-
propriate wrongs consist of defeating a monster or villain of CR 18
or higher, throwing down a corrupt government, recovering an even
more powerful artifact for the church, ending a war, and so on. e
prophet must aid his chosen ally in the task, but he may never use
any of his spells or special abilities to defend his champion in any way.
Once the champion completes her quest, the would-be prophet is
allowed to take levels in the prophet legendary class.
Note
e prophet is forever bound to the champion he chose to aid
him in attaining this class. For as long as he achieves levels in the
prophet class or wishes to use the skills of the class, he may never
deny that champion his council. If he does, his prophetic abilities are
stripped from him and he may never again take levels as a prophet,
progressing only in other classes, destined to never become a legend.
e same goes for a prophet that violates the edicts of his god
or changes alignment to one not allowed as the god’s worshippers.
Minor breaches, or those imposed by some outside or supernatural
force, may be forgiven (DM option) or erased via an o:orcmcr: spell
cast on behalf of the prophet. Gross infringements cause the loss of
all powers and abilities associated with this class. Such fallen prophets
often go on to serve the enemies of their former patron.
Class Skills
e prophet’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are
Bluf (Cha), Concentration (Con), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha),
Intimidate (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (all) (Int), Read Lips (Int),
Listen (Wis), Scry (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int).
Skill Points at Eacb Level: 2 + Int modifer
Class Features
All the following are class features of the prophet legendary class:
Weapon and Armor Pronciency: A prophet gains no additional
weapon or armor profciencies.
Propbet Abilities
All the following are potential abilities of the prophet legendary
class:
Animal Form (Su): Part of the mystery that surrounds prophets
are their inexplicable disappearances and their ability to reach a point
faster then might humanly be possible. ese appearances are actually
correct, such feats are not humanly possible, but they are possible for
animals. A prophet with this ability is able to change his form into
one specifc Small or Medium animal per power level, as many times
per day as he wishes. e type of animal the prophet can transform
into must be chosen at the same time as this ability is selected. Only
specifc animals may be chosen, not types, therefore crow is a valid
selection, where bird is not.
Aura of Command (Su): It is difcult for many, even the en-
emies of a prophet, to defy the wishes of such a powerful agent of a
god. is ability raises the DC of all a prophet’s enchantment/charm
type abilities and spells by +1 per power level. Further, the prophet
gains a +2 to any Charisma-based skill check when operating in
direct agency of his deity. is ability can aid other prophet abilities
such as prosc|y::zc and orácr oj goá.
Aura of Grace (Su): Even the most religiously blind can see that
the prophet is cloaked in the grace of a god. e prophet gains a one-
time +1 legendary bonus to Charisma per power level.
Aura of Divine Sanction (Su): e prophet is a powerful force,
not just for his own formidable powers, but for the allies he brings
with him. Assured that the agent of a god fghts with them, allies of
the prophet gain a +1 morale bonus to attack and damage rolls, a +4
morale bonus to saves against the Enchantment school, and immunity
to fear efects while within 100 ft. of the prophet. Allies must be able
to see or otherwise sense the prophet for this ability to work. ese
bonuses may be granted fve minutes per day per power level. ese
minutes need not be used consecutively, but cannot be used in incre-
ments less than one minute.
Oracle (Su): Once per day the prophet is able to commune
with his god, asking for insight on any matter. is divine audience
requires the prophet to spend an hour in meditation, doing noth-
ing except focusing on his god and his questions. If the prophet is
attacked or disrupted in anyway during this meditation, his use of
this ability is lost for the day. At the end of the hour mediation, the
prophet receives his answer or a response pertaining to the answer’s
arrival.
To limit the information a prophet may gain, he is restricted to
asking 1 of 6 diferent types of question. His question may only start
with the words “Who”, “What”, “When”, “Where”, “Why”, or “How”. If
this ability is taken at a level higher then frst the prophet may ask a
number of questions equal to this ability’s power level. No prophet
can ever achieve a level in which he might ask all 6 questions of his
god, thus representing that no mortal may ever know the full mind of
the divine.
It is up to the god (the DM) when and how the prophet’s ques-
tion is answered. Commonly an answer is immediate, but when the
strands of fate are obscure or another god acts on the same matter,
it may take as much as one day to obtain an answer. Also, answers
to a prophet’s questions need not be forthcoming and plain; gods
are known to speak in the same cryptic remarks and metaphors as
prophets.
Proselytize: A prophet brings with him not just the commands
and edicts of his god, but the divinity’s entire canon. rough his
preaching, a prophet can infuence the masses, gaining the abil-
ity to cast arcane spells of the Enchantment school as if they were
divine spells of the same level. e prophet has access to one level of
Enchantment spells per power level. us, this ability at power level
IV grants access to all arcane Enchantment school spells of up to 4th
level.
Order of God (Su): e prophet is the agent of a god, and his
orders are given divine authority. Once per day per power level the
prophet may utter any one of the following spells, restricted only by
the prophet’s deity and alignment: o|osp|cmy. á:c:um. grco:cr com-
morá. |o|y uorá. poucr uorá s:ur. or uorá oj c|oos. In place of one of
these uses, any creature that shares the prophet’s faith or alignment
may be given a verbal or written order that functions as a gcos/oucs:
spell. e written version is only efective for one reading.
Overpowering Faitb (Su): e power of faith the prophet
has in regards to his god is overwhelming when compared to that
of normal worshippers and lesser priests. is faith can block and
dispel divine spells cast in the presence (or within the awareness) of
the prophet. e prophet can dispel divine magic once per day per
power level as if he had cast grco:cr á:spc||:rg. is ability may be used
according to normal counterspell rules.
Uncanny Dodge (Su): Preternatural insight and divine grace
protect a prophet from all physical harm. Each power level counts as
3 rogue levels for the purposes of gaining the rogue’s uncanny dodge
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class ability only. us, at power level V a prophet has the uncanny
dodge ability of a 15th-level rogue.
Wratb of God (Su): ose who defy the will of the prophet are
also defying the orders of a god. Once per day the prophet may call
down a blast of energy upon one opponent who has defed his direct
order (such an order can be as brief or simple as “move” or “surren-
der”). is blast deals 4d6 points of damage per power level. Half of
the damage is divine, while the other half is elemental in nature (acid,
cold, electricity, fre, or sonic)—the prophet chooses which element
at the time this ability is selected, but it should be appropriate to the
god providing the power.
Without a voice, without a song, trapped away in the darkness,
many downtrodden people search for signs of light. A Requiem of the
Death Moon becomes that distant voice carried on the night breeze,
an expression of emotion in the gloom. Peering into the souls of the
weary, the Requiem is the bearer of the song of change and cycles. An
elusive sect of the moon god, the Death Moon represents the light
in the darkest hour, a harbinger of death, but also a symbol of hope.
Once chosen by the sect, the Requiem of the Death Moon waxes and
wanes, biding his time when forces are brewing under the surface and
appearing to signal the end of a cycle and the beginning on of a new
one.
Most of those who have become Requiems of the Death Moon
have had backgrounds as bards beforehand. Understanding how to
communicate to the hearts and souls of people is a key trait of a Re-
quiem. ey are dark messengers and heralds, sighted at the outskirts
of town when a turn in the tide is eminent (or plotted), their eerie
voices echoing out from under their pale robes. More than one ner-
vous monarch has abandoned the position when a Requiem appeared
on his or her land. Free to roam in quiet times, once the Requiem is
given the call or comes across a volatile situation, he must be ready
to once again play the role of the foreboding ghost.
Hit Die: d6
Requirements
To qualify to become a Requiem of the Death Moon, a charac-
ter must fulfll the following criteria:
Alignment: Any non-lawful, non-evil.
Cbarisma: 17+
Skills: Intimidate: 4 ranks, Knowledge (religion): 7 ranks, Per-
form (singing): 15 ranks, Sense Motive: 7 ranks.
Feats: Endurance, Iron Will, and one other feat of the DM’s
choice.
Special: e character must possess the bardic music class abil-
ity and must be ordained by the Death Moon Sect.
Quests
e frst step in becoming a Requiem of the Death Moon is fnd-
ing the Death Moon Sect, which is a quest in itself. ese mysteri-
ous priests are keepers of forgotten knowledge and history, and have
access to powerful divination magics. Once the Sect is found and
petitioned, they set up a trial to determine if the character is even
worthy of further observation. Such a trial could be to defeat a certain
creature without harming it or retrieving a certain item useful for the
Sect (usually some tome or ancient artifact). e test is always one
that must be solved without violence as the primary solution. e
aspirant may bring companions along, but the difculty of the quest is
adjusted accordingly.
A hopeful successful in the frst trial is told of a locale where an
important change is needed—often the overthrow of a tyrannical
order. He is asked to lead the way to that change, rallying people to
throw of their shackles. Such a sentiment may already be strong, or
it may be that no one has had the courage to start such a movement.
e candidate must not, however, lead the group into combat, but
must cultivate or inspire leaders out of one or more of the oppressed
people. is quest is to prove that the character can infuence people
to change themselves and compel the wheels of transformation for-
ward without directly turning them. e character’s companions may
join him in his quest, but they must not directly lead the resistance
either.
Class Skills
e Requiem of the Death Moon’s class skills are Bluf (Cha),
Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha),
Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimi-
date (Cha), Intuit Direction (Wis), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Listen
(Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense
Motive (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int).
Skill Points at Eacb Level: 6 + Int modifer.
Class Features
All of the following are class features of the Requiem of the
Death Moon legendary class:
Weapon and Armor Pronciency: e Requiem is profcient
with no new weapons, armor or shields.
Spells per DayISpells Known: When a new Requiem level
is gained, the character gains new spells per day as if he had also
gained a level in a spellcasting class he belonged to before he became a
Prophet Advancement
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Speical Spells Per Day
1 +0 +0 +0 +2 Ability I +1 level of existing class
2 +1 +0 +0 +3 Ability II +1 level of existing class
3 +2 +1 +1 +3 Ability III +1 level of existing class
4 +3 +1 +1 +4 Ability IV +1 level of existing class
5 +3 +1 +1 +4 Ability V +1 level of existing class
Requiem of the Death Moon
Written by Herman Lau
Section 15: Requiem of the Death Moon Copyright 2003, Her-
man Lau
“Tyrants quake at the sound of the Death Moon rising.”
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Requiem. He does not gain any other beneft a character of that class
would have gained. is means that he adds his new level of Requiem
to the level of some other spellcasting class the character has, then
determines spells per day, spells known, and caster level accordingly.
If a character had more than one spellcasting class, he must decide
which class he adds each level of Requiem for purposes of determin-
ing spells per day, spells known and caster level.
Resolute Voice: e character stacks his number of Requiem
levels with his bard level when determining his number of uses of
bardic music per day.
Moon Mind: e character stacks his Requiem levels with his
bard levels to determine the efcacy of his bardic knowledge.
Requiem of tbe Deatb Moon Abilities
All of the following are potential abilities of the Requiem of the
Death Moon:
Crescent Step (Ex): e Requiem learns to move defensively to
escape dangerous situations. When taking the total defense action,
the Requiem gains an additional +2 dodge bonus to AC per power
level. In addition, the character gains a +1 competence bonus per
power level to Refex saving throws while taking the total defense
action.
Full Moon Dirge (Su): When the tables turn, the Requiem’s
voice can drive the victory home. When using his bardic music ability
to inspire courage, the Requiem’s allies gain a +1 morale bonus to
attack and damage rolls per power level and the normal +2 morale
bonus to saving throws against charm and fear efects. e efects last
for 5 rounds + 1 round per power level after the Requiem stops sing-
ing. Full Moon Dirge expends two daily uses of bardic music.
Icon of Hope (Ex): Finding the resolve within himself, the
Requiem becomes immune to fear spells and efects. Also, any allies
within 10 ft. + 5 ft. per power level above the frst gain a +2 morale
bonus per power level to saving throws against fear spells or efects.
is secondary efect is supernatural.
Moon’s Allure: Becoming an enigmatic, inspiring fgure, the
Requiem almost seems to glow with an inner aura of assurance. e
character gains a one-time +1 legendary bonus to Charisma per
power level.
Moon Sigbt (Sp): e character gains a sixth sense for which
auras around him are resistant to change. e Requiem may cast
ác:cc: c|oos. ác:cc: |ou. ác:cc: gooá. or ác:cc: cv:|, choosing which to use
at each juncture and using this ability for free three times per day per
power level. e only diference between static sense and the normal
spells is that this ability goes immediately to the third round of efect
as described in the appropriate spells.
Alternatively, the Requiem can choose to consume fve uses of
this ability to gain blindsight in a radius of 5 ft. per power level. e
blindsight lasts as long as it is maintained with a move-equivalent ac-
tion and 1 round per power level after the maintenance ends.
New Moon Veil (Su): Hiding his mind like the new moon in the
night sky, the Requiem gains a +1 bonus on all saving throws against
mind-afecting spells and efects per power level. In addition, the
character can cast :rv:s:o:|::y (on himself only) once per day per power
level as a spell-like ability.
Waning Melody (Sp): When the Requiem feels he is no longer
needed, he fades back into the night. e character can cast c:|crco|
¡our: as a spell-like ability once per day and gains that spell as a 6th-
level bard spell. e spell-like version lasts for 3 rounds per power
level and those rounds need not be used consecutively.
Waxing Song (Su): e Requiem sings a melancholic song that
makes him seem stronger and more imposing, creating an aura of fear.
is causes all opponents who can hear the Requiem to make a Will
saving throw (DC 10 + one half of the Requiem’s level + power level
+ Charisma modifer) or become panicked. If the Waxing Melody is
used while the Requiem is invisible, the DC is increased by 2. Waxing
song expends two daily uses of Bardic Music.

is Legendary class is for an Oriental or Eastern setting; the
character can come from any class normal for that setting.
unders are created to represent their clans at times of apoca-
lyptic turmoil. e character must face loss and hardship and remain
true to the Code of Bushido (honor). Loss of face, loss of faith even
loss of limb is necessary for the creation of a under. e prospec-
tive under must also acquire an artifact level magic item. Jade or
Obsidian Hands that graft themselves onto and become part of the
under are examples of this. ese artifacts give the under an
elemental mastery to rival the gods and make them the pinnacle of
the ideals of their clan, i.e. Lions are the epitome of the Samurai and
Scorpions are the gatherers of secrets. e under would become
the supreme example of those traits; there are only seven known
unders.
e time of crisis to become a under and the trial to master
this new state of being can be deadly, if no crisis of appropriate sever-
ity exists to challenge a under, the artifact’s detrimental efects
can destroy the wielder of the item. If intelligent the artifact could
subvert the personality of the character and turn him into a threat of
unbelievable destruction and chaos.
unders who achieve their status prior to the cataclysm may
live to venerable ages, maintaining a state of health belied by their
years, waiting for their time to come, becoming venerable counselors
to the Daiymos of their clan. unders have shaped the world twice,
in the dawn of time when the Gods warred and Fu Leng was impris-
oned in the Shadowlands. e next when Fu Leng escaped through
the power of the Black Scrolls, the Seven unders defeated him.
Hit Dice: |cr c|oss.
Requirements
Alignment: Ary Louju|
Base Attack Bonus: 10
Skills: Irom Or:g:ro| c|oss. ou: orc ro: |:m::cá oy :|:s c|oss orá cor
grou pcr :|c |C ácvc|opmcr:.
Special: per artifact
Quests:
Requiem of the Death Moon Advancement
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Speical Spells Per Day
1 +0 +0 +0 +2 Ability I +1 level of existing class
2 +1 +0 +0 +3 Ability II +1 level of existing class
3 +2 +1 +1 +3 Ability III +1 level of existing class
4 +3 +1 +1 +4 Ability IV +1 level of existing class
5 +3 +1 +1 +4 Ability V +1 level of existing class
Thunder (Thn)
Written by Bruce Bougbner
Section 15: under Copyright 2003, Bruce Boughner
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Te Patb of Enligbtenment: e under must face the loss of
his original purpose, for example, a samurai losing a hand and being
unable to wield a sword. If successful, the under advances towards
true enlightenment. e under must fnd or acquire the artifact,
Greater or Lesser of their clan and become bonded to it.
Te Code of Busbido: e under must learn the ability to
think beyond the blind obedience to the Code of Honor and fnd new
Enlightenment. e under must rise above the Tao of their clans
to embrace the philosophies of other clans and grow to embrace a
new way of life.
Te Tao of Tunder: Once enlightened, the under must fnd
his purpose and the goal they strive to achieve. e under must
survive the Cataclysm that created the need for a under and still
cleave true to the tenets of their philosophy.
Te Tao of Enligbtenment: If the under achieves their goal,
they become enlightened, becoming sage advisors and speaking the
true words of the gods. unders who achieve this state become the
writers of enlightened philosophies and prophesy, altering the way
whole nations think.
Class Skills:
is depends on the under, what Clan they are from and
those skills they wield from their original class and/or Prestige Class.
Class Features:
Artifact Usage (Int): A under becomes permanently grafted
to an artifact, a hand, a claw, an eye etc. and must master and domi-
nate any intelligence or turn it to their own purposes.
Elemental Mastery (Wis): A under becomes master of one
elemental force, wind, lightning, tide etc.
Weapon Mastery(Str): A under, strive becomes a master at a
particular weapon, be it katana, bow or spear. ey must have mas-
tered the known katas of their clan and begin to develop new ones
ere are always those that survive the wilds beyond civilization.
Wilderness walkers are those who have been there and done that, and
yet still survive the harshness of reality.
Hit die: d10
Requirements
To qualify to become a wilderness walker, a character must fulfll
all of the following requirements:
Wisdom: 15+
Feats: Alertness, Hunter’s Wisdom, Master Tracker, Track, and
any one feat of the DM’s choice
Skills: Intuit Direction 10+, Knowledge (nature) 10+, Wilder-
ness Lore 15+.
Special: e character must possess the ability to cast 3rd-level
divine spells.
Quests
e wilderness walker must survive for six months on his own
in the wilderness. He may have no help from anyone, taking only his
personal gear with him. No pack or riding animals are allowed. is
quest must be repeated three times, choosing a diferent wilderness
type each time.
Class Skills
e wilderness walker’s class skills (and the key ability for each
skill) are Animal Empathy (Cha, exclusive skill), Craft (Int), Handle
Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Intuit Direction (Wis),
Knowledge (nature) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Search
(Int), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Use Rope (Dex) and Wilderness Lore
(Wis)
Skill Points at Eacb Level: 4 + Int modifer
Class Features
All the following are class features of the wilderness walker.
Weapons and Armor Pronciency: e wilderness walker is
profcient with all simple weapons, martial ranged weapons, and with
light armor.
Wilderness Walker Abilities
e following are the potential abilities available to the
wilderness walker legendary class:
Cbild of Nature (Ex): e wilderness walker can gain the druid
class abilities ro:urc scrsc, uooá|orá s:r:ác, :roc||css s:cp, rcs:s: ro:urc’s
|urc, and vcrom :mmur::y. When selecting this ability, the wilderness
walker gains only those abilities that would be possessed by a druid of
the same level as this ability’s power level; venom immunity is gained
at power level fve.
Enbanced Spellcaster: e wilderness walker gains a +1 legend-
ary bonus to his spellcaster level per power level. is is a one-time
bonus. If the wilderness walker did not have any spellcasting class
before, he uses the druid spell list.
Enbanced Wisdom: e wilderness walker gains a one-time +1
legendary bonus to his Wisdom per power level.
Favored Terrain (Ex): e wilderness walker may select two
regions per power level in which he has exceptional experience. A
region is comprised of a terrain type and a temperature type. ere
are seven primary terrain types and three temperature types:
Terrain Temperature
Aquatic* Cold
Desert Hot
Forest Temperate
Hill
Marsh
Mountain
Plains
Underground
* Aquatic may only be chosen if the wilderness walker has some
Thunder Advancement
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Speical
1 +1 +1 +3 +3
2 +2 +1 +4 +4 Path of Enlightenment
3 +3 +2 +4 +4 Code of Bushido
4 +4 +2 +5 +5 Tao of Thunder
5 +5 +3 +5 +5 Tao of Enlightenment
Wilderness Walker (Wwa)
Written by Paul W. King
Section 15: Wilderness Walker Copyright 2003, Paul W. King
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natural or magical means to breath water.
When a wilderness walker is in his favored terrain, he gains a +2
dodge bonus to AC (which is lost anytime the character is denied his
Dexterity bonus to AC). Further, the walker gains a +2 bonus to any
Hide, Intuit Direction, Knowledge (nature), Move Silently, Search,
Spot, and Wilderness Lore checks. Base speed increases by 5 ft. on
favored terrain, so long as the wilderness walker is wearing medium
or light armor. ese bonuses do not apply if the character is in a
building or other construct within their terrain.
Increased Animal Companions: e wilderness walker can
increase the number of hit dice worth of animal companions he has.
Under normal circumstances, a character can only have twice his
caster level in HD. is multiplier increases by 1 per power level. For
example, if this is taken at third level, the character can have fve times
their caster level in HD worth of animal companions.
Nature’s Armor (Su): By surviving on his own, the wilderness
walker gains a +1 natural armor bonus to AC per power level.
Resistant to Elements (Su): e wilderness walker gains a +5
legendary bonus to resist elements per power level. ese bonuses
may be distributed between cold, fre and electricity resistance.
Survivalist (Ex): e wilderness walker gains a +2 legendary
bonus per power level to Heal, Intuit Direction, Knowledge (nature),
Listen, Search, and Wilderness Lore.
New Feats
e following feats are required for the wilderness walker leg-
endary class:
Hunter’s Wisdom |General|
Your knowledge of animals makes you more skilled at killing
them.
Prerequisite: Knowledge (nature) 5 ranks
Benent: Whenever you are in combat with an animal or beast,
you can make a Knowledge (nature) check at a DC of 10 + the
creature’s hit dice. If you succeed, the threat range of any weapon you
use against the creature is increased by 1.
Master Tracker |General|
You have mastered the ways of the hunter, allowing you to follow
enemies through even the most difcult terrain.
Prerequisites: Track, Wisdom 15+
Beneft: You gain a +4 bonus to all Search checks and Wilder-
ness Lore checks while tracking.
Wodeslinge (Wos)
Written by David Cbua
Section 15: Wodeslinge Copyright 2003, David Chua
e wodeslinges are a legendary group of halfing warriors who
combine their slingshot skills with druidic magic. ey are a mischie-
vous lot, fond of pranks, but the damage they deal out is nothing to
laugh at. eir abilities allow them to make use of natural compo-
nents as ammunition, transforming an innocuous berry into a deadly
explosive device. ose who take up this class become legendary
snipers.
Wodeslinges appear when halfing communities are in great
need, such as when they are under attack by goblinoid invaders. ey
frequently lead the community into battling their foes, as they know
the strength of the halfings lie in numbers. ey never stay long with
one community, as it is their creed to battle for the good of halfings
and their causes everywhere.
Hit Die: d8
Requirements
To qualify to become a wodeslinge, a character must fulfll the
following requirements:
Race: Halfing
Base Attack Bonus: +10
Alignment: Any neutral, non-evil.
Skills: Knowledge (nature): 8 ranks, Wilderness Lore: 6 ranks.
Feats: Craft Wondrous Item, Far Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon
Focus (Sling), Weapon Specialization (Sling), and one other
feat of the DM’s choice.
Special: Ability to cast 3rd level druid spells.
Quests
e aspirant must single-handedly hunt and slay at least one
creature that poses a threat to a halfing community. e creature
must be killed with ranged attacks from a sling and/or divine magic.
e CR or EL of the creature(s) must be no less than two less than
the contender’s total character level.
e character must fnd (a quest unto itself ) and challenge
an existing wodeslinge to a contest. In the contest, the would-be
wodeslinge must hit any targets designated and also struck by the
challenged wodeslinge. Neither character may call upon magical skills
for aid. If he loses, the character may challenge the same wodeslinge
a month later, if the latter can be found and is agreeable. Otherwise a
new contestant must be sought and defeated.
If the character does defeat the challenged wodeslinge, he is
honor-bound to perform one task for that person. is fnal quest
proves the sponsored hopeful’s mettle and determination. Failure
means the seeker can never become a wodeslinge. Success means the
existing wodeslinge becomes the character’s mentor and the aspirant
may advance towards legendary status as one of the few wodeslinge’s
in the world.
Class Skills
e wodeslinge’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill)
are Concentration (Con), Bluf (Cha), Climb (Str), Diplomacy (Cha),
Hide (Dex), Intuit Direction (Wis), Knowledge (Nature) (Int),
Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex),
Search (Int), Spot (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Swim (Str) and Wilderness
Lore (Wis).
Skill Points at Eacb Level: 4 + Int modifer
Wilderness Walker Advancement
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Speical
1 +0 +0 +2 +0 Wilderness Walker Ability I
2 +1 +0 +3 +0 Wilderness Walker Ability II
3 +2 +1 +3 +1 Wilderness Walker Ability III
4 +3 +1 +4 +1 Wilderness Walker Ability IV
5 +3 +1 +4 +1 Wilderness Walker Ability V
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Class Features
All of the following are class features of the wodeslinge
legendary class:
Weapon and Armor Pronciency: e wodeslinge gains no new
weapon profciencies. As with druids, they lose their magical powers
if they don prohibited armor or wield a prohibited weapon.
Wodeslinge Abilities
e following are the potential abilities available to the wodes-
linge legendary class:
Explosive Acorns (Sp): Once per day, the wodeslinge is able
to enchant acorns into explosives. ese acorns may be shot with a
sling or thrown, at double the normal range increment. With a ranged
touch attack, the acorn strikes its intended target and explodes upon
hitting any hard surface. Together, the acorns can cause an amount
of fre damage equal to (power level x 3)d8, divided up amongst the
acorns as you wish. e acorns deal 1 point of splash damage per die
and ignite any combustible materials within 10 ft. If a creature within
the burst area makes a successful Refex saving throw, it takes only
half damage; a creature struck directly always sustains full damage
(no saving throw). e acorns retain their enchantment for 20 min-
utes per power level or until used.
Animal Rock (Su): Once per day per power level, a wodeslinge
can use a full-round action to enchant a single stone. Upon land-
ing, the stone becomes the focal point of a summor ro:urc’s o||y spell
with a Roman numeral rating equal to the power level of this ability.
e creatures summoned attack whatever is in their vicinity unless
instructed otherwise. e duration of the spell is a number of rounds
equal to the wodeslinge’s character level + power level. e stone
retains its enchantment for the same number of rounds, or until used.
Big Bad Boulder (Su): e wodeslinge can make any ammo he
shoots to change into a boulder in mid-fight a number of times per
day equal to 1 plus the power level is boulder does 1d6 +1d6 per
power level, and should be treated as though it were a stone fung by a
light catapult for purposes of deviation (see DMG, Chapter 3, Using
Miniatures and Grids, Grenade-like Weapons). e boulder changes
back into a sling stone 1 round after impact.
Deadly Snipe (Ex): e wodeslinge gets a sneak attack bonus
while using the sling equal to +1d6 per power level. e sneak attack
stacks with other, similar bonuses. e sniping is only efective within
30 ft. plus 10 ft. per power level, but other sneak attack bonuses only
stack if the ability is used within 30 ft. of the target.
Enbanced Dexterity: e wodeslinge gains a one-time +1 leg-
endary bonus to his Dexterity Bonus per power level.
Imbue Ammunition (Su): e wodeslinge gains the ability to
place an area spell upon his ammunition. When the ammunition is
fred, the spell’s area is centered upon where the ammunition lands.
is ability allows the wodeslinge to use the sling’s range rather than
the spell’s range. It takes a full-round action to cast the spell and fre
the ammunition, which must be fred in the round the spell is cast, or
the spell is wasted.
Magic Stones (Su): e wodeslinge is able to enchant his am-
munition once per day with an enhancement bonus equal to thrice his
power level. e character may spread out this enchantment between
diferent ammunition as he wishes, but no single stone’s bonus may
exceed the power level. For example, if he selected this ability at
power level IV, the wodeslinge could enchant three stones with a +4
bonus, or six with a +2. ese stones retain their enchantment for a
day.
Skip Stone (Su): A number of times per day equal to the power
level, the wodeslinge is able to make his sling rock jump from one
target to another within 30 ft., skipping a number of times equal to
thrice the power level. Each subsequent attack after the frst is at –2
to the attack roll, and if any attack misses the rock cannot jump any
further.
Stalk (Ex): e wodeslinge gains a +2 per power level bonus to
his Hide and Move Silently ability.
Traveling Sbot (Su): e bullets the wodeslinge fres are carried
further by magic. He adds 10 ft. to the range increment of his sling
per power level.
Wodeslinge Advancement
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Speical
1 +0 +0 +2 +0 Woodslinge Ability I
2 +1 +0 +3 +0 Woodslinge Ability II
3 +2 +1 +3 +1 Woodslinge Ability III
4 +3 +1 +4 +1 Woodslinge Ability IV
5 +3 +1 +4 +1 Woodslinge Ability V
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T
his regular column examines the latest products on the market
for gamers including role-playing supplements and other acces-
sories.
Cloud Warriors
Sizing Up the Target
C|ouá Vorr:ors is a 128-page hard-
cover supplement from Fast Forward
Entertainment that retails for $24.99.
C|ouá Vorr:ors is written by a large team of
designers that includes Skip Williams, with
cover art by Monte Moore and interior art
by Alan S. Dyson.
First Blood
C|ouá Vorr:ors contains rules and sug-
gestions for including aerial adventuring into your campaign world. In
this book, you will fnd new aerial feats and skills, three new prestige
classes, magical and non-magical fying devices, spells, and creatures.
ere are also rules for aerial combat and training fying creatures as
mounts. Lastly, aerial and airborne societies are discussed.
Unlike some of Fast Forward’s other books, the game mechan-
ics appear quite balanced and are more along the baseline that you’d
expect for d20 rules. e aerial combat rules are comprehensive but a
bit confusing and overwhelming with the diferent elements that are
factored in (such as line of sight, wind efect, turbulence and ham-
pered aerial movement). If you were to use these rules on a continual
basis, I am willing to bet that they would make better sense.
Critical Hits
e greatest strength of the book lies in its completeness. All
factors that are aerial in nature are covered with the exception of
instructions on developing your own aerial society. e inclusion of
this would have really been an asset.
Critical Misses
C|ouá Vorr:ors does have editing issues. ere are several typos
and font changes that were missed in layout that detracts from the
reading. Fast Forward also admitted to OGL violations recently
concerning other products. is book also contains violations by
using the terms “Dungeon Master’s Guide” and “illitbid” frequently.
ese terms are the intellectual property of Wizards of the Coast and
cannot be used.
Coup de Grace
C|ouá Vorr:ors is a good resource for those wanting to add an
aerial component to their campaigns. If supplemented with other
aerial books such as Bastion Press’ A:rs|:ps and Goodman Games’
Acr:o| Aávcr:urcs series, you have the makings of an impressive aerial
campaign. e price is a bit steep if you compare it against the page
count and consider the wealth of game rules, it will be justifed to
those who use it.
FROM THE FAST LANE:
CAPSULE REVIEWS OF CURRENT PRODUCTS
Written by Steven Creech
Fast Tracks Score (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Game Content: 3.0 (Game mecbanics only,
not counting spells or a creature names.)
-d20 Compliance: 4.0 (Use of intellectual property witb
stated permission.)
-Originality: 5.0
-Playability: 4.0 (Useable by botb player and GM, but fits a
specific nicbe.)
-Value for tbe Dollar: 4.0
Overall Score: 4.00
Final Grade: B+
Available from FRP Games for $19.95 (a savings of $5.04)!!
Dragonstar: Player’s Companion
Sizing Up the Target
e Drogors:or ||oycr’s Compor:or
supplement is a 128-page perfect bound
tome published by Fantasy Fligbt Games.
e book lists a large team of writers in-
cluding Mark Chance, Andrew Christian,
Minke Hinds, David Lyons, Michelle Ly-
ons, James Maliszewski, and Mike Mearls
with Greg Benage serving as lead devel-
oper. It carries a retail price of $19.95.
First Blood
is is the much awaited expansion to the core rules found in
the S:orjorcr’s Horáooo|. e book opens with 15 new prestige classes
followed by 5 legendary classes (both sorely needed in the campaign
setting). ere are new schools that allow characters to develop their
skills and abilities by spending both experience points and cred-
its. Two new clerical domains and several pages of new spells and
spellware further add to a player’s options. e fnal chapter of the
book addresses psionics in Drogors:or, complete with the current core
classes and new prestige classes and powers.
Critical Hits
After getting books on new equipment (Impcr:o| Supp|y) and
new player races (Go|oc::c Roccs), we fnally get the expansion guide
that is sorely needed. e prestige classes do a good job at meshing
components of traditional fantasy with those from science fction.
e amount of open content is game mechanics and rules related, but
that is typical fare.
Critical Misses
is is being nitpicky, but this should have been a hardcover
book, especially when you consider how much it will be used by
player and GM alike. Soft covers fall apart too easy when under heavy
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use. e other complaint is the less than satisfactory table of contents
and index. Both are quite weak.
Coup de Grace
e Drogors:or ||oycr’s Compor:or ofers some excellent options
for the Drogors:or world. Diehard players will certainly want this as
soon as they get their hands on it.
Fast Tracks Score (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Game Content: 3.75
-d20 Compliance: 5.0
-Originality: 5.0
-Playability: 4.5
-Value for tbe Dollar: 4.0
Overall Score: 4.45
Final Grade: A-
Available from FRP Games for $15.95 (a savings of $4.00)!!
Dungeon World: Catacombs
Sizing Up the Target
Durgcor Vor|á: Co:ocomos is the
latest ofering for Fast Forward Entertain-
ment’s Durgcor Vor|á campaign setting.
Once again, Lead Developer Christof-
fer Trossen oversees a large contingent
of eleven writers that includes James M.
Ward and Tim Brown. Graphic design
and layout are done by William W. Con-
nors with cover art by Monte Moore and
interior art by Marcio Fiorito. Co:ocomos is
a 128-page hardcover that retails for $24.99.
First Blood
Co:ocomos is a sourcebook that details seven new adventure loca-
tions within the Durgcor Vor|á setting. People who are unfamiliar
with this setting may have a difcult time locating the core campaign
setting book since it was one of the books that had to be destroyed for
OGL violations. However, it is not necessary to own the one setting
book as it is written to be mostly world neutral.
e opening chapter gives an overview of the Durgcor Vor|á
setting and sets the stage for the more in-depth chapters that follow,
which describe the seven locations. Each subsequent chapter address-
es not only the location, but the peoples, encounters and hazards that
adventuring parties will face there. e book wraps up with four new
prestige classes and a handful of new monsters.
Critical Hits
e versatility of this book in that it is useable outside of the
Durgcor Vor|á setting is a defnite strength. e locations can be
popped into almost any dungeon crawl or even Underdark campaign.
Critical Misses
Again, there are OGL violations, but some of these may fall
under a grandfathering of being at the printer when the SRD was
fnalized. Regardless, there are other violations, such as the use of the
term “illithid”, which are clear violations.
Coup de Grace
Durgcor Vor|á: Co:ocomos does ofer some interesting locations
and encounters. GMs and players who are looking for something
more unusual will fnd that this book has possibilities. e monsters
show imagination and are basically balanced. e price is high when
you compare it to other mega-adventures like Roppor A:|u|, so
prospective buyers will want to look this one over frst to make sure it
is what they want. It certainly has potential.
Fast Tracks Score (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Game Content: 3.0 (Game stats only.)
-d20 Compliance: 4.0
-Originality: 4.5
-Playability: 3.5 (GM only)
-Value for tbe Dollar: 4.0
Overall Score: 3.80
Final Grade: B
Available from FRP Games for $19.95 (a savings of $5.04)!!
Enchanted Locations
Sizing Up the Target
Lrc|or:cá Loco::ors is a 160-page
hardcover supplement written by James
M. Ward and illustrated by William W.
Connors. It is published by Fast For-
ward Entertainment and carries a retail
price of $29.99.
First Blood
Lrc|or:cá Loco::ors is a book of
encounters built around a specifc loca-
tion. Seventy-fve diferent maps are
used for twenty diferent locations. Each is generic enough in nature
that a GM can use them multiple times with little work. Each map
key has two diferent creature’s stats included. Unlike most other
books, these are stats for advanced creatures, not carbon copy MM
entries. Treasure is also already included in the location entry, making
a GM’s job easier. ere is no favor text describing the locations, that
being left to the GM so it fts his campaign more easily.
Critical Hits
e concept and utility of the book is a real selling point. I like
the fact that advanced creature stats were used rather than normal
ones.
Critical Misses
Several criticisms come to mind. First, black & white maps. is
is a book that should have been printed with color maps. e lack of
color makes it very difcult to tell the diferences in textures. Another
issue is the generic nature. Rather than showing a single map with
twenty numbered encounter locations, why not show the map and
then use the following pages to zoom in on those areas, listing what
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may be found in each. is would be more practical in my mind.
Finally, despite the advanced creature stats, there are a few errors,
especially with the CRs. GMs will want to watch carefully or double
check the stats before using them.
Coup de Grace
Lrc|or:cá Loco::ors is a fantastic concept with mediocre execu-
tion. More efort by going with color maps and even providing de-
scriptive favor text would make this a much more attractive product.
Fast Tracks Score (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Game Content: 3.5 (Game stats only.)
-d20 Compliance: 4.5
-Originality: 5.0
-Playability: 3.0 (GM only)
-Value for tbe Dollar: 3.0 (Higb cost vs. map readability.)
Overall Score: 3.80
Final Grade: C+
Available from FRP Games for $22.95 (a savings of $7.00)!!
Enchanted Locations: Crypts & Tombs
Sizing Up the Target
Lrc|or:cá Loco::ors: Cryp:s G
lomos is a 128-page hardcover supple-
ment written by James M. Ward,
edited by Christopher Trossen, and
illustrated by William W. Connors.
Published by Fast Forward Entertain-
ment, the book carries a retail price of
$24.99.
First Blood
Lrc|or:cá Loco::ors: Cryp:s G
lomos is a bit of a misnomer. It would be better titled as Lrc|or:cá
Loco::ors: Qucs:s G Rc|:cs since the entire focus of the book is about
grand quests for relics of incredible power. e location and the relic
is provided, you just have to weave the story to your players. Addi-
tionally, each location has the creature stats for the various encounter
areas (including several straight from Mors:cr Moruo| II).
e artifacts are broken down into class types (wizard, cleric,
rogue, etc.). Each artifact consists of sections describing the item’s
initial power, initial reaction of others, the efects of the item on the
wielder, and any hidden powers it possesses. Some items may be
combined with others for even greater powers.
Critical Hits
e book is more geared towards the high-powered campaign
with relics that are not for the weak. It takes an original approach
in building maps and locations around these various relics. I would
characterize this book as a powergamer’s dream.
Critical Misses
Unfortunately, there are many problem areas. As I mentioned,
the book uses creatures from Mors:cr Moruo| II, which is a HUGE
violation of the open gaming license. is action resulted in Fast
Forward destroying every copy that was in their possession. Another
criticism is with the power level of the artifacts. e powers granted
are simply of the map (such as “wearer is no longer efected by dragon
breath attacks”)! e lack of explanation and description for each of
the locations really hurts the book. Finally, the decision to use black &
white maps over color is once again (as in Lrc|or:cá Loco::ors) poor.
Putting it simply, the maps are hard to read.
Coup de Grace
Lrc|or:cá Loco::ors: Cryp:s G lomos is a decent book, but not
in the way it intends based upon its title. If you are looking for a book
built around very high (almost deifc) powered artifacts, this fts the
bill. However, for its $24.99 pricetag, the cost is considerably substan-
tial when you examine the amount of work that remains in the GM’s
hands.
Fast Tracks Score (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Game Content: 3.0 (Game stats only.)
-d20 Compliance: 3.0 (OGL violations, improper section15
declaration, unbalanced artifacts.)
-Originality: 5.0
-Playability: 2.0 (GM only tool tbat requires a bigb magic
campaign.)
-Value for tbe Dollar: 3.0 (Higb cost to value ratio.)
Overall Score: 3.20
Final Grade: C-
Available from FRP Games for $19.95 (a savings of $5.04)!!
Encyclopedia of Prestige Classes
Sizing Up the Target
Just when you thought everything was
covered by Mongoose’s U|::mo:c |rcs::gc C|oss-
cs, along comes Fast Forward Entertainment
with their entry into the feld. Lrcyc|opcá:o oj
|rcs::gc C|osscs is a 128-page perfect bound
supplement that retails for $24.99 and collects
over ffty diferent prestige classes into a single
source. Representing the collective efort of the
entire Fast Forward design team, past and present, this book show-
cases prestige classes from all other Fast Forward products to date.
First Blood
While there are new skills, feats and combat rules in chapter one,
the meat of the book is its prestige classes. Airmasters are spellcast-
ers who concentrate on the lore and power of the air. Charnelers are
masters of assassination, torture and secrecy. Death legionnaires are
mercenaried who live for continual warfare. Engineers create non-
magical inventions. e lunatic is a prestige class that is exclusive to
gnolls. Shadow Knights are cleric-warriors who have sworn them-
selves to the service of a vile and evil demon lord. Star Knights are
also elite warriors of evil demon lords.
Critical Hits
e diversity of the classes are a defnite strength. It is unlikely
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you will fnd copies or similar classes in U|::mo:c |rcs::gc C|osscs.
Many of the classes are for NPCs only because of their favor and
design.
Critical Misses
Most of the classes have abilities that take the characters above
the baseline d20 scale in terms of power. Many are meant for Green
races only or as NPCs (such as the Escort). ere are also several
editing gafes relating to typos and wrong fonts, which does distract
from the overall quality of the book.
Coup de Grace
Lrcyc|opcá:o oj |rcs::gc C|osscs is not a book for everyone. ose
who run high-powered campaigns or use Fast Forward’s Grccr Roccs
campaign setting will likely get the most use from the book. GMs
who want more NPC prestige class options will want to take a good
look at this book. It certainly has promise and potential, but it isn’t
the right cup of tea for all of us.
Fast Tracks Score (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Game Content: 3.5 (Only the game mechan-
ics are open.)
-d20 Compliance: 4.5 (e section 15 of the OGL declaration
does not properly cite the sources used.)
-Originality: 4.5
-Playability: 4.0 (Not for low-powered campaigns.)
-Value for the Dollar: 4.0
Overall Score: 4.10
Final Grade: B-
Available from FRP Games for $19.95 (a savings of $5.04)!!
River of Blood
Sizing Up the Target
R:vcr oj B|ooá is a 48-page adventure writ-
ten by Douglas Sun and published by Alderac
Entertainment Group. It is designed for four
to six characters of levels 7-9 and carries a
retail price of $14.95.
First Blood
e adventure is set up in three diferent acts in a linear progres-
sion. e adventure takes place in a region torn by war between three
countries. In a nutshell, there has been so much bloodshed that the
land has been tainted and the dead are rising as a result. e charac-
ters must make their way through the staged encounters and deduce
the necessary clues in order to solve the mystery.
Critical Hits
ere is ample opportunity for role-play as there are many char-
acter interactions. is is an aspect that is often missing or glossed
over in an adventure. e carrion dragon is intriguing, even if it is
more of a plot device than an actual encounter.
Critical Misses
e biggest problem with this book is the complete lack of
numbered encounters on any map! e linear nature of the adventure
necessitates the need for those numbers to appear on a map. How else
is a GM supposed to know what encounters go where? Another criti-
cism is the lack of information to make the adventure scalable. e
only suggestion lies in “increasing the total number of monsters in any
single encounter.”
Coup de Grace
R:vcr oj B|ooá has a great conceptual vision, but the execution
hurts the overall quality and usefulness of the book. e manner in
which it was written would be better suited for beginning GMs and
starting characters rather than the more experienced GM that one
would expect at 7-9
th
level. To be honest, there are better adventures
available so GMs will want to look this over carefully to make certain
it fts their needs. Hopefully future adventures will have fewer prob-
lems.
Fast Tracks Score (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Game Content: 3.5 (All game mecbanics,
magic items, monsters, etc. are open.)
-d20 Compliance: 4.5
-Originality: 4.0
-Playability: 3.0 (GM tool for 7
tb
-9
tb
level parties.)
-Value for tbe Dollar: 3.0
Overall Score: 3.60
Final Grade: C
Available from FRP Games for $11.95 (a savings of $3.00)!!
Sacred Ground
Sizing Up the Target
Socrcá Grourá is a 112-page campaign
sourcebook done in the tradition of Scvcr
C:::cs and Scvcr S:rorg|o|ás and published by
Atlas Games. It is written by James Malisze-
wski, Rick Neal and Chris Jones with illustra-
tions by Chad Sergesetter and carries a retail
price of $19.95.
First Blood
Socrcá Grourá consists of four chapters, each outlining a holy
site. e frst chapter develops an aerial location. Essentially a foating
island one mile above the earth, it is a temple area dedicated to wind
and air spirits and is flled with clerics who soar on mechanical gliding
contraptions.
e second chapter presents the scenario of a deity who is
responsible for the changing seasons. At the coming of winter, his
body “dies” and his spirit travels to the Underworld. At the appropri-
ate time, his spirit is then guided back to his body (which has been
guarded) by a selected individual heralding the coming of spring and
summer.
e third chapter gives an island location where servants of the
god of death reside. ey are judges of both the dead and living and
weigh matters carefully before raising or resurrecting anyone. Natu-
rally, undead are not welcome here.
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e fnal chapter is essentially a monastery dedicated to a minor
deity. It is a training school for monks who seek to oppose tyranny. Of
the four, this one falls into stereotype the most, but it is still decent.
Critical Hits
e neutral favor of each location makes them idea to drop
anywhere. Fleshing out each of the major characters has already been
done and new rules-related information is presented in classic Atlas
style and is easy to comprehend and use. Essentially, GM preparation
time is cut to a minimum because of the thoroughness of Atlas.
Critical Misses
e only real problem with the book is that many of the char-
acters fall into a formulaic pattern one expects. ere are no real
surprises. e villains are easy to pick out, as are the good guys.
Coup de Grace
Socrcá Grourá achieves exactly what it sets out to do by provid-
ing quick and easily usable locations to drop into your campaign.
Obviously, it is not for everyone, but GMs who fnd themselves in
need of ideas to expand their campaigns will likely fnd this book as
invaluable as its predecessors. It’s a good value for the cost.
Fast Tracks Score (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Game Content: 4.0
-d20 Compliance: 5.0
-Originality: 4.5
-Playability: 3.0 (GM tool.)
-Value for tbe Dollar: 4.5
Overall Score: 4.20
Final Grade: A-
Available from FRP Games for $15.95 (a savings of $4.00)!!
School of Evocation
Sizing Up the Target
Sc|oo| oj Lvoco::or is a 64-page
perfect bound supplement and part of
Fantasy Fligbt Games’ Lcgcrás G Lo:rs
line. Written by Kevin Wilson, Mark
Chance, Lysle Kapp and Lizard, the
book carries a retail price of $14.95.
First Blood
Sc|oo| oj Lvoco::or is the second
book by FFG to examine a school of
magic more closely (Sc|oo| oj I||us:or
was frst – see March, 2003 á20Z:rc|). Lvoco::or is broken down into
sub-schools or “disciplines”: acid, cold, electricity, energy construct,
fre, force, light and sonic. A new core class (Devoted Evoker) and
eight prestige classes are presented along with new feats, equipment,
magic items and spells.
Critical Hits
e prestige classes bring out the favor of the evocation school
quite well and show why evocation magic is so formidable and power-
ful. My personal favorite is the Wintermage. e new spells and
magic items are always a welcome addition and show balanced game
mechanics. As with most Lcgcrás G Lo:rs books, the open content is
substantial with only descriptive text being closed content.
Critical Misses
Not so much of a miss as a limitation, the application of the
book is fairly restrictive. e book is useable by both player and GM,
but is meant for wizards and sorcerers only.
Coup de Grace
Sc|oo| oj Lvoco::or gives the specialist wizard a new world of
options in terms of potential prestige classes and spells. Evokers have
always been powerful, but now they will really be a force of reckoning.
Fast Tracks Score (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Game Content: 4.0
-d20 Compliance: 5.0
-Originality: 5.0
-Playability: 4.0
-Value for tbe Dollar: 5.0
Overall Score: 4.60
Final Grade: A
Available from FRP Games for $11.95 (a savings of $3.00)!!
Twisted Lore
Sizing Up the Target
lu:s:cá Lorc is a 64-page perfect
bound supplement in Fantasy Fligbt
Games’ Lcgcrás G Lo:rs line of books.
Written by lead developers Kevin
Wilson and Rob Vaughn (along with a
large team of contributing writers), this
book carries a retail price of $14.95.
First Blood
lu:s:cá Lorc is bestiary collection
of aberrations, oozes and shapechangers. Here you fnd creatures
like the Bloodgnarl Tree, Curtain Crawler, Face Hunter (very cool
artwork), Lurcher, Ooze Sentry, Sailor’s Bane, Sound Devourer, Steel
Ooze, and Yeoman Jelly. ere is also a brief section on templates that
discusses swarm drones and alternate lycanthropes.
Critical Hits
e diversity of the selection of creatures is a defnite plus. I’ve
always been a fan of oozes and jellies, but players quickly learn how to
defeat the standard ones. Now I have a supplement with new material
to surprise them with. e amount of open game content is also a
strong selling point to game designers. Essentially, only the descrip-
tive text is closed content. All monster names, statistics and abilities
(anything rules related) are open.
Critical Misses
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A minor complaint, but due to the nature of the book, it has
limited application and use. It is certainly a book that falls into the
“GM-only” category.
Coup de Grace
lu:s:cá Lorc is a great and relatively inexpensive monster
supplement compared to the more pricey hardcover books. e game
mechanics are sound and most of the creatures show originality. is
is a good resource for your library.
Fast Tracks Score (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Game Content: 4.0
-d20 Compliance: 5.0
-Originality: 5.0
-Playability: 3.0
-Value for tbe Dollar: 5.0
Overall Score: 4.20
Final Grade: A-
Available from FRP Games for $11.95 (a savings of $3.00)!!
Uncommon Character
Sizing Up the Target
Urcommor C|oroc:cr is a source-
book of ready-to-use characters put out
by Atlas Games for their Penumbra d20
line. Written by a large team of writ-
ers with editing by Christina Stiles and
Spike Y Jones, this 128-page supplement
retails for $21.95
First Blood
Urcommor C|oroc:cr details
36 individual non-player characters that are ready for use in your
campaign. e challenge ratings vary considerably from low levels up
to 20
th
level characters. Each character is fully stated and feshed out
complete with background information, appearance, personality, and
adventure seeds.
Critical Hits
One of the things I like about Atlas Games is there attention to
detail. Vary rarely have I ever picked up a product and found errors
in the game mechanics itself. is book continues that tradition. A
quick check of a few characters’ stats showed no math errors in terms
of skill point assessments or feat allocation. Another high point to
the book is the introduction of something new with every character.
Whether it is new armor, weapons, spells, feats, magic items or the
like, each character has something unique about it that separates it
from the run-of-the-mill NPC.
Critical Misses
e inherent problem with NPC books like Urcommor C|or-
oc:cr is that it fts a specifc niche. You have to have a need for a book
of NPCs in your campaign. ere are other NPC books available
(Dcr:zcrs oj Irccpor:. \:||o:rs. Aávcrsor:cs G A||:cs. Lvcryorc L|sc) so
you may ask, “Why do I need another one?” Unlike other books, this
one has an abundance of characters that are more than just common-
ers; most have class levels and a couple even templates. is may work
against the book depending on the GM and his need for NPCs. In
my personal campaigns, I’ve had more of a need for common NPCs
rather than those who are classed characters.
Coup de Grace
Urcommor C|oroc:cr is a very good product given its intent. As
a book of NPCs it stands as one of the better ones available. e new
game rules material makes it interesting enough to have on the shelf
just to surprise your party when they get too arrogant or set in their
ways. e price may seem a bit steep, but the fact that you needn’t
worry about math errors and that the book is almost entirely open
game content is certainly worth consideration. It will make for a good
investment for professional game designers and GMs alike.
Fast Tracks Score (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Game Content: 5.0
-d20 Compliance: 5.0
-Originality: 5.0
-Playability: 4.0
-Value for tbe Dollar: 4.0
Overall Score: 4.50
Final Grade: A
Available from FRP Games for $16.95 (a savings of $5.00)!!
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VALLEY OF THE DWELVES
Written by Bret Boyd (dmbretb@comcast.net)
Edited by Neil Rachynski
Scc::or 1S: Valley of :|c Duc|vcs Copyr:g|: 2003. Brc: Boyá
Dwelves
Since dwelves are in the unique situation of being new to the world,
they are not particularly known for anything yet. Folk make educated
guesses that the blood of dwarves and elves make these people lovers
of family and nature (above and below the ground). Such guesses are
correct, but society does not yet appreciate that dwelves are not just a
combination of dwarven and elven characteristics but an extension of
their union.
Personality: In any encounter with non-dwelves, a dwelf is
reserved in speech and expression. is is not because of dwarven
or elven bias against another race but because the reaction to seeing
a dwelf is almost universally one of confusion, anger, or fear. Cen-
turies of isolation make it difcult to open up and trust an outsider;
much less count him as a friend. Dwelves value life and knowledge,
not yet understanding the other beings’ preoccupation with material
possessions. ey take others at face value unless given reason to do
otherwise. “Cautious optimism” is a phrase used by sages to describe
the dwelven mindset. Among other dwelves, the race is independent,
almost carefree in their daily lives.
Pbysical Description: At a distance, dwelves appear to be overly-
tall dwarves. ey retain the broad torso of the dwarven parent and
the height and angular features of the elven one. ey have pointed
elven ears and males fnd their beards grow quickly if left unchecked.
Averaging four-and-a-half to fve feet tall, dwelf males and females
are indistinguishable by height. eir skin is a light brown with eyes
tending to be a light green or soft tan. Clothing is plain and function-
al, commonly without ornamentation outside Kel’Ahallish. Among
their own, however, dwelves enjoy personalization through jewelry on
the clothing and in the hair. A dwelf is considered an adult at age 75.
ey generally do not live beyond their 600th year. Elven blood and
ritual meditation as a child grants adult dwelves the ability to trance
as their elven forebears once per week.
Relations: Dwelves are so new to the outside world that fully
realized thoughts on other races have not yet taken shape. Most
dwelves have only met a handful of each race, and then of only one
particular region. Generally speaking, dwelves see humans as overly-
impatient, gnomes as innovative allies, halfings as greedy and lazy,
half-orcs as hated racial enemies, and half-elves almost as brothers
because of their similar place in society. Full-blooded dwarves and
elves are considered honored cousins. A dwelf thanks Landrech
whenever he encounters a healthy member of either race, immediately
counting the individual as a comrade. All other races see dwelves as
curious crossbreeds that deserve pity. e exception is half-elves who
see dwelves as equals in the same way that the new race views them.
Alignment: While inheriting an innate sense of goodness from
his parents, a dwelf is taught by his peers that order and chaos both
have usefulness when it comes to surviving in life. erefore, the
dwelf veers to a more neutral stance in most situations.
Lands: Kel’Ahallish is the only known homeland of the dwelves.
is subterranean community is considered a paradise by non-dwel-
ven visitors. A forested glade beneath the mountain holds a fowing
stream with areas of arable farmland and a peaceful residential area
around it. A magical enchantment replicates a “sun” at the great
cavern’s ceiling that moves across the “sky” giving the illusion of an
aboveground environment. e sun is artifcial but still provides the
life-giving warmth and nutrition to the local plant life. It is here that
the dwelves continue to preserve their unique way of life. All dwelves
have their turn at farming, mining, and learning the art of defense
with hammer and sword.
Religion: e frst two generations of elves and dwarves in
Kel’Ahallish clung to their respective deities as the only heritage
remaining from their races. But when the frst dwelves were born,
it was obvious that the community’s descendants would require a
more suitable god. As the ballad “Special Birth” describes it, the
elven protector goddess and dwarven forger god fashioned a child
from their omnipotent powers and made him in the dwelves’ image.
e new god’s name was Landrech and he was given sole dominion
over Kel’Ahallish. Even full blood elven and dwarven priests here
would unknowingly receive their spells from him. e ballad sings
of Landrech’s appearance in the air above the frstborn dwelf ’s home
and his promise to the community and all of its inhabitants from that
time forward. As proof of this promise, Landrech created the Well
of Souls, which ultimately led to the imprisonment of the evil lich
Kruldig (see below).
Language: Dwelves speak Dwarven, Elven and an archaic form
of Common taught by their ancestors (65 % chance for any other race
to understand that form today). ey also have their own tongue
which is a Dwarven-Elven hybrid of graceful phrases interspersed by
sharp consonants. ose dwelves who have been outside Kel’Ahallish
for more than a few months can speak normal Common.
Names: Dwelves are given birth names by their parents. When
they reach adulthood, they can choose another name if they so wish,
although it is not mandatory. Common belief is that dwelves choos-
ing another name enter an industrial, labor-intensive vocation while
those keeping their birth name devote themselves to the creative felds
such as fne arts or magical study. Family names are kept as the last
name.
Male Names: Akben, Cael’tui, Haship, Nanowatt, Que’Ballt,
amik.
Female Names: Anastilla, Drekin, Fynae, Pal’tanii, Teleste,
Ventia.
Family Names: ese are determined by the parents of the frst
dwelf in the family line. e name is a combination of the parents’
last names and is kept to honor their memory and their dedication in
T
his article deals with what might happen if a group of elves and
a clan of dwarves became trapped together for several millennia.
eir ofspring, called dwelves, are detailed frst in a PHB-style writ-
eup. e way in which the article is written assumes that the dwelf
colony has recently been discovered by the outside world and as many
as 100 of the dwelves have left to investigate it. Following this writ-
eup is a comprehensive look at the Kel’Ahallish area’s history, culture,
and personalities as well as the new magics one might discover among
this new and interesting race. e author declares all written text as
Open Game Content.
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keeping the community alive.
Adventurers: Adventuring is a new profession to the dwelves
and they see it from their own unique perspective—a way to learn
about the outside world among tolerant folk who do not equate merit
with appearance. Dwelves take up this itinerant lifestyle to determine
how many dwarven and elven communities survived through the
millennia and to tell them of the heroic fourishing of Kel’Ahallish.
Dwelven adventurers also desire an exchange of knowledge so that
new ideas can be brought back to invigorate the community’s “stale”
cultural attitudes.
Dwelf Racial Traits
h +2 Dexterity, -2 Charisma, -2 Intelligence: Dwelves are ag-
ile but have a strange physical blending of elf and dwarf that
most others fnd unnerving. eir newness to the outside
world makes them ignorant of other’s ways and their ability
to adapt is slow after centuries of stagnated development.
h Medium: As Medium creatures, dwelves have no specifc
bonuses or penalties due to their size.
h Dwelf base land speed is 30 feet.
h Immunity to s|ccp spells and similar magical efects, and
a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against enchantments
spells and efects.
h Low-Light Vision: A dwelf can see twice as far as a human
in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions
of poor illumination. She retains the ability to distinguish
color and detail under these conditions.
h Weapon Profciency: Dwelves receive Martial Weapon Pro-
fciency feats for longsword, shortsword, and warhammer as
bonus feats. Dwelves are trained in the favored weapons of
Kel’Ahallish’s founders.
h +1 racial bonus on Craft checks related to stone or metal:
Dwelves are quite capable with stonework and metalwork.
h +1 racial bonus to Listen, Search, and Spot checks. A dwelf
does not have the elf ’s ability to notice secret doors simply
by passing near them. Dwelves have keen senses, but not as
keen as those of an elf.
h Elven Blood: For all efects related to race, a dwelf is con-
sidered an elf. Dwelves, for example, are just as vulnerable
to special efects that afect elves as their ancestors are, and
they can use magic items that are only usable by elves.
h Automatic Languages: Dwarven, Dwelven, and Elven.
Bonus Languages: Any (other than secret languages, such
as Druidic). Dwelves are eager to learn the languages of the
outside world’s races now that cultural interaction is upon
them.
h Favored Class: Druid. A multiclass dwelf ’s druid class
does not count when determining whether she takes an
experience point penalty for multiclassing. e function
of a druid meshes well with the sacred grove-like nature
of Kel’Ahallish, so it is common for a dwelf to choose this
vocation to protect this home.
Kel’Ahallish (“New Hope”)
If one did not have to travel through a few miles of subterranean
passages to get there, Kel’Ahallish would appear to be just another
forested valley aboveground. A stream splits the mammoth cavern
that houses the dwelven race. e two-thirds total amount of land
between the stream and the passage to the surface comprise the
residential part of the land. Between the homes and the stream is
a stretch of resilient pine and oak trees. e opposite third of the
cavern’s land is used for farming and the homes of the farmers and
miners. Tucked against the cavern wall here is a settlement of dwel-
ven miners who continue to honor the dwarven life by delving deeper
and deeper into the earth for gems and precious metals. But not all
was as idyllic as it is now and the forces of evil permeate into even this
secret refuge as detailed in the history below.
History: e Ironhelm clan, like many other dwarven com-
munities of the day, lived inside a stony mountain range. is clan
had close ties to the outside races through trade and a mutual desire
to stop goblinoid incursions in their area. For at this time, over 7000
years ago, orcs, goblins, and other monstrous humanoids roamed
the lands in hordes, unchecked until they touched one of the good-
aligned races’ bufer zones. en the threatened race would ride out
and bloody the horde’s nose just enough to make its lazy members
move elsewhere.
e god of the orcs became tired of his people’s constant defeats
and provided one tribe with powerful weapons of destruction. Each
orc in the Snakeblood tribe became the equal of any 10 of his kind
and the tribe’s shaman received the god’s directive to march out and
take back the land the other races had stolen that was rightfully
theirs. e enhanced Snakebloods attacked every elf community,
dwarven stronghold, and human tribe (this race had only recently
emerged in the world) in their path. e dwarves of Ironhelm heard
of the unstoppable army but took no precautions until the horde sud-
denly swept toward their mountain home. As the stout folk hurriedly
prepared for invasion, elven refugees from the nearby forest fed to the
stronghold’s gates and pleaded for asylum. e clan leader took pity
on these elves, mostly women and children, and took them into the
hold. It was only a few days afterward when the Snakeblood scouts
appeared near the gates.
Leaving no community unconquered in its wake, the orcs laid
siege to Ironhelm. e dwarves were not as prepared as they should
have been, acting too late to stockpile food and supplies. e pres-
ence of destitute elven refuges did not help matters either. Daily as-
saults on the stronghold wore down the clan’s resolve. With supplies
low, nerves frayed, and no help in sight from other clans, the dwarven
and elven leaders agreed to retreat into the mines and seal the way
behind them. All reports before the siege began indicated that no
earthly force had been able to slow down the horde, much less stop it,
and the two groups feared for their own races’ very survival. Dwarven
miners had recently discovered a large natural cavern with a running
stream and the Ironhelm host withdrew from the stronghold with
that place as their destination.
Dwarven ingenuity and elven magic crafted a single entrance that
only another dwarf or elf could enter. e two races knew that if they
were never discovered, then there must have been no other elves or
dwarves left to search for them. ey would forever live far beneath
the earth—the last of their kind. e retreat was orderly, every
person carrying what they could, and without incident. e Snake-
bloods broke into Ironhelm the following day, taking what was left
behind and burning the rest. e ladder leading to the secret shaft
the Ironhelm host used was destroyed during the evacuation and so
the orcs never discovered the inhabitants’ whereabouts.
Settlement inside the cavern was, to no one’s surprise, decided by
race. e elves were on the eastern side of the subterranean river and
the dwarves were to the west. ere was friendly interaction between
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both sides, but it felt more comfortable for each race to live with
its own during this trying period. e already scarce supplies were
augmented by magic and the beginning of multiple gardens near the
stream. e total number of occupants at the time was 350 (only 89
of those being elves).
To keep some form of order and a constant interaction between
the races, a council was formed to govern the colony. ere were
seven members in all—three elves and three dwarves. e leader
of the council was chosen by majority by the members from the
remainder of the residents. e position was referred to as the seltar
(dwarven for “principal”) and the frst person to hold the ofce was a
dwarven stonemason named Tashig Bittermoot. e seven-person
council remains as the government to the present day, the term of
each member being for life or retirement.
In the years following, the council decided it best to expand the
cavern while creating a more natural setting for the elven residents
who had been sufering mentally because of the radical change in en-
vironment. It required many centuries of work and attention to detail
to bring the cavern to its current state. ere are farming and mining
settlements near the arable land to the west and a gently sloping for-
ested area to the east. As the elves saw to the growth of the trees, the
dwarves expanded their new home in all directions. What was once
a quarter of a mile in every direction gradually became a two mile by
two-and-a-half mile area. e cavern’s ceiling reaches up to approxi-
mately a mile-and-a-half.
Working and living side
by side for so many centuries
proved more difcult when the
council considered that the avail-
able breeding stock of each race
was quite low. ey knew that
dwarves and elves would one day
need to intermingle for the colony
to survive. To allow stubbornness
about mating outside one’s race
to end life in the cavern would
dishonor the memories of those
who died at the hands of the
Snakebloods. e council secretly
decreed that dwarf-elf relation-
ships would not be frowned upon.
It was also at this time that the
members decided on a name for
their colony—Kel’Ahallish. Kc| is
dwarven for “new” and o|o||:s| is
elven for “hope.”
ere were, of course,
holdouts among each race that
refused to mate outside their own.
And when the frst inter-relation-
ships became public, it was these
same individuals who came to the
council in protest. e aged seltar
Tashig stated that the survival of
Kel’Ahallish would be determined
partly by choice and partly by fate;
only one of which the council had
dominion over. Who the colony’s
residents decided to love was out
of their control. And while this
answer would normally have been enough to quell the dissenters,
there was another power urging them on.
is was the frst of many encounters with the dwarf Kruldig.
e evil sorcerer was being tried for murder when Ironhelm took
in the elven refugees. His public execution was delayed as prepara-
tions for war took precedence. e dwarf remained shackled, unable
to work his vile sorcery, and was eventually taken with the refugees
during the evacuation. e dwarven clan leader believed that perhaps
Kruldig’s arcane talents would come in handy. And he was, after all,
a fellow dwarf during a time when it seemed as though the race was
faced with extinction. When the sorcerer arrived in the cavern, he
was somehow able to escape his bonds and retreat unseen into the
darkness.
He reemerged during this time of internal discord, when the
question of racial separation threatened to tear the colony apart. In
the fve centuries since his escape, Kruldig had become a lich and had
used his arcane magic to sway certain members of the populace to
mount a coup. Fortunately, the lich’s involvement was discovered soon
after the failed attempt to overthrow the council and the creature
was chased from the cavern into one of the mines. A party of elven
wizards and dwarven warriors hunted the lich to assure its evil would
not resurface. e best their limited numbers could do, however, was
to keep Kruldig at bay. As the group prayed to their respective gods,
the frst dwelf child was born back in the colony.
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e elven Protector goddess and Dwarven Forger god both saw
the danger embodied by Kruldig and the emergence of the dwelf
race. e two deities fashioned a god from their awesome powers
and gave him control over Kel’Ahallish. is god was Landrech and
his appearance matches that of a dwelf. Given the knowledge of the
colony’s current state, Landrech decided to physically appear to its
residents and claim the area as his protectorate. In a fash of light, a
great stone well appeared just outside the forest close to the riverbank.
Landrech declared the object was to be a burial place for all deceased
residents from that day forward. e souls of the dead would power
the artifact, called the Well of Souls, and an impenetrable feld of
magic that would defend the colony.
e appearance of the Well also signaled the end of the lich-
hunt. A magical feld encased Kruldig in a cocoon of clear stone as
his hunters looked on. And while the lich would later escape his
prison, this dangerous point in Kel’Ahallish’s history had been over-
come. e frst dwelf was soon joined by another and then another.
e joining of the two founding races birthed a unique people that
carried on the time-honored traditions of their parents through the
seven millennia of the colony’s existence. e last pureblood elf died
quietly over 2000 years ago amidst his dwelven descendants. Today,
over 1000 dwelves live peacefully in Kel’Ahallish. is number would
be far more if the dwelves had not inherited the slow birthrates of
their forebears.
Areas of Interest: e following areas make up the basic layout
of Kel’Ahallish as one moves from east to west.
Slopes: Like the forest and grassy earth that have been encour-
aged to grow in the cavern, the slopes were an elven idea to further
distance the subterranean world from their minds. Snow enhances
the illusion when it is added every “winter” for the younger residents
to enjoy. ere is also a smattering of pines along the base and face of
the slope. e corridor leading up to the surface lies on the south-
eastern rim.
Main Village: e dwelves live and work in common structures
no diferent than one might fnd in any other large village. Each
building is made of stone, the residential structures having a leisure
room, eating area, and sleep chamber. Additions are common when
one of the home’s occupants takes up a hobby or trade that requires
space of its own. Other buildings include a temple to Landrech, an
eatery specializing in new foods and old dwarven and elven favorites,
workshops for specialist trades (industrial, creative, and magical), and
a community center. is last building is the home of the colony’s
history as written by one of the last generation pureblood elven bards
3000 years ago. e dwelves have added to the history since then and
placed relics from their dwarven and elven forebears inside, creating a
museum-like atmosphere. A domed meeting hall inside is the home
to the village council. A few homes at the far north of the village
area were once the homes of those elves that absolutely refused to
integrate into this new culture. ey eventually succumbed to old age
and their abodes now remain abandoned, being over a mile from the
main village. Surprisingly, no one has been inside them in centuries
and legend has it that they are haunted by angry elven spirits who
were not welcomed into the Well of Souls.
Forest: Part pines and part oaks, the forest was limited by the
seeds that the original elven refugees brought with them. A certain
type of cave lizard native to the cavern has found the forest to its lik-
ing and taken up residence here along with dozens of its fellows.
Kruldig’s Lair: After escaping his imprisonment many cen-
turies ago, Kruldig secretly moved to his current lair. About 70
yards upstream, one cannot get to the lich’s chamber without being
underwater for an extended period of time. e former dwarf found
the natural chamber when it was conducting its coup attempt mil-
lennia earlier. Since no one had discovered the dry chamber, the lich
returned. e glowing boundary of protection created by the Well
of Souls is visible just a few yards upstream from his home. Kruldig
experiments with the feld’s magic in an attempt to either shatter it
or use it for its own evil ends. A magically-created chair and desk are
the only furniture in the lair. Here the lich pores over magical writ-
ings he had owned in his youth and those he pens to this day. His
research continues on a way to escape from Kel’Ahallish and bring
back a force to destroy those who tried to destroy him. A treasure
horde of gemstones and magic lies at the far side of the cave. e lich
is utterly mad but extremely patient. e supposedly haunted homes
to the north of the village are justifed in their reputation for Kruldig
frequently uses them to spy more easily on his neighbors.
Well of Souls: A perfect stone circle marks the presence of this
wondrous item. It has a 12-foot-diameter opening and stands 2 ft.
high. Stairs hug the inside of the Well leading into catacombs. Every
dwelf that dies is placed inside these corpse-flled corridors to help
power the protective feld around Kel’Ahallish. e Well is prayed
at daily by kneeling clerics of Landrech, who place one hand on its
surface while tracing divine runes in the bare dirt at its base. All
dwelves make a point of visiting the Well of Souls at least once a week
to pay homage to their racial deity with words and trinkets. Legend
states that the bodies inside will rise up to defend the colony during
its “darkest hour.”
Halcbev Stream: Ho|c|cv is the elven word for “holy.” e river
was so named by frst seltar Tashig Bittermoot. ere are three stone
bridges that cross its average 20 foot width.
Farmland: Tilled all year round, these felds produce all manner
of vegetables, wheat, and rice. is area stretches from the north end
of the cavern to the south in an impressive line. Skinny stone roads
run from the bridges through the felds to the work huts on the other
side.
Work Huts: Farmers and miners live out their work time inside
these functional two-room stone adobes. e individual dwelf whose
turn it is to work at these positions can tailor the inside of the huts to
his specifcations.
Mines: Expansion is slow due to a small workforce. e magical
protection of the Well of Souls reshapes itself to encase any new mine
tunnels. Output from the mines is minimal, but the real reward to
the dwelves is not fstfuls of gems, but the same actual mining experi-
ence that their dwarven ancestors had.
Culture and Society: e government still consists of the coun-
cil of six under a seltar’s leadership. e council does not have much
to discuss during its monthly meetings. Each dwelf family must
note anything unusual or interesting that has happened to it over the
previous month and report it to a council member. ese reports are
of a mundane nature—how many animals carved by a dwelven father
infatuated with woodworking, whether a dwelven son has chosen to
perform a tour of farming or mining for the coming season, etc.—but
must be heard nonetheless. Not only do these reports allow the
council to keep tabs on the community but they also inspire ideas for
public events. In the frst example mentioned, the father seems handy
with woodcarvings. e council might decide to honor that dwelf
with an ofcial ceremony when he has completed ffty such works.
Music is used in both religious and secular circles. Dwelves
normally pipe on wooden futes with some kind of harp or percus-
sion accompaniment. Singing and chanting is never accompanied by
no other instrument except percussion. Like any culture, the dwelves
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behind. [DM’s Note: e creature can be suited to the appropriate
Encounter Level of the party but should not be an easy challenge.]
Another door opens and another creature (or group of monsters)
threatens the PCs whenever subsequent wrong notes are played.
When the fve correct notes are played in the correct sequence, a blue
radiance outlines the doorway to the dwelf colony, which lies a few
miles beneath the surface of the earth.
Plot and Adventure Hooks: Use the following ideas as a springboard
for bringing dwelves into your campaign.
• In an urban market, a crowd is throwing curses and stones
at a person huddled against a wall. e individual is obvi-
ously defenseless and needs assistance against the mob.
Good-aligned PCs are obligated to disperse the crowd
and rescue the person—a dwelf! Fearing the unusual, the
townsfolk immediately fell to abusing the dwelf when he
entered the marketplace looking for food. e man has only
recently come from his home in Kel’Ahallish and would
gladly accept aid or information in exchange for his services
(the dwelf could fll a role that the party currently lacks).
• e exposing of Kel’Ahallish to the outside has given the
lich Kruldig new weapons in his quest to eradicate the
dwelves. With a cache of gems saved up from raids on the
mines, the lich has hired monsters to invade the colony. e
PCs enter the scene when they fght with one of these mon-
strous groups. e strange gemstones on them are traced
to the mountains above the colony. Investigation reveals
that the dwelves are guarding the old Ironhelm hold as a
frst defense outpost. e party is invited to tour the colony
to seek out who might have carried out their unique gems
and why. Kruldig watches the events unfold and prepares a
reprisal for the characters’ interference.
• e only witness to a kidnapping that the PCs are investi-
gating was a dwelf who was slain in the assault. Unfortu-
nately, when the characters attempt to contact the dwelf ’s
spirit to ask it about the event, nothing happens. is is
because the man’s soul has already returned to Kel’Ahallish
and the Well of Souls. e body must be returned to the
colony in order to discover the details of the kidnapping.
For only here can the spirit be contacted and the body prop-
erly laid to rest. Along the way, however, the PCs may en-
counter resistance in the form of the kidnapper’s hirelings.
Once the party makes it to the colony, the situation may put
more than their own lives at risk, for the kidnapper takes
extraordinary measures to keep the dwelf ’s spirit silenced.
• A dwarven PC is entrusted with a mission by his superiors
(or his clan) to fnd a long lost relic of his people. e item was a
weapon wielded by the warrior Keltarin. e dwarf ’s last known
residence was Ironhelm. When the PCs arrive at the new outpost for
the dwelves, there are a number of directions the DM can take this
plot. Maybe Keltarin had left prior to Ironhelm’s fall or maybe the
warrior is entombed in the Well of Souls but his weapon was never
have songs for birth, death, marriage, prayer, and the handful of of-
cial feast days celebrated. Songs are usually just one part of the ritual
that accompanies these events. e most sacred ritual is the Lowing.
When a dwelf dies, his body is brought to the Well of Souls and given
an elaborate funeral wherein the presiding clerics extol Landrech to
accept the body and its soul to use for the greater good. e corpse is
then carried into the catacombs and placed into an empty wall space.
Dwelf children are lovingly raised, for each one is considered
precious by a people with such a low birthrate. A child is as well-
educated as one can be in an isolated community. By the time she
reaches adulthood, the dwelf knows everything there is to know
about Kel’Ahallish and its environs. ey are also taught the ins and
outs of every trade available within the cavern—mining, farming,
crafts, magic—and are allowed to enter whatever vocation seems right
to them. e only caveat is that a dwelf must complete one cycle of
farming and one cycle of mining (a cycle lasting 6 months). Earth-
quakes and accidents have claimed the lives of multiple dwelves of a
single profession and the council deems it wise for every resident to
be familiar with the workings of these so they can step in if needed.
When devoting a cycle to one of these workplaces, the dwelf lives in
one of the work huts. He can certainly leave the areas but must re-
turn for the following work day. e council enforces this restriction
so they dependably know who is where at certain times.
ere is no currency or other monetary form in Kel’Ahallish but
the concept of personal possessions does exist. Goods and services
are traded for the same (unique items or lessons in some skill the
“buyer” is curious about). If our woodworker friend from the above
example would like a pie from the eatery, he must present a little
known fact about something the chef knows nothing about. No tid-
bit of information is too mundane to be traded for an item or service,
for one never knows when it could come in handy.
Dwelves in Your Campaign
is article provides the DM with any number of things he can
pick out and use for his own campaign. A player may want to try out
a dwelf PC or maybe the DM wants to introduce the race with an
NPC. Either way makes for good roleplaying potential. A DM could
even have the players be the ones that discover Kel’Ahallish. e
former Ironhelm fortress is today a hive of troll activity. ey have
been festering in the former dwarven stronghold for many centuries
and are why no one has managed to yet discover Kel’Ahallish. e
ingenious entrance is at a spot in the hold that requires climbing a 70
ft. vertical clif up to a plateau. A domed chamber here has an ivory
fute atop a short pedestal. e name of a dwarven and an elven lul-
laby is inscribed on the dais in the respective language. Only a dwarf
or elf playing the frst fve notes of the lullaby causes the secret door
to open.
When each correct note is played, a soft blue rune glows on the
ceiling. Playing a wrong note causes a harsh red rune to appear and
opens a door near the chamber’s entrance. Out of the door shufes
some kind of guardian beast summoned by the ambient magic left
New God: Landrech the Preserver (Neutral Good)
Landrech is the solitary deity of the dwelven race. When he ap-
pears, he resembles a common bearded male dwelf in a dirty work
apron. His clerics have access to the following domains: Earth,
Magic, Plant, and Trickery. Landrech’s portfolio includes magic,
survival, and secrets and his favored weapon is the warhammer.
Rule Variant: e idea of the soul being inaccessible outside
a certain area is unique to the dwelven race. Any ritual or spell that
involves a dwelven spirit must be performed inside of Kel’Ahallish
because it immediately transports to the Well of Souls upon the
body’s demise. is includes speak with dead, raise dead, reincar-
nate, and so forth. e DM is free to disregard this restriction, but
he should recognize the adventure possibilities of this racial trait.
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accounted for (and is currently in Kruldig’s horde). If there is an el-
ven PC but no dwarven ones, have the search be for the blade wielded
by Adelphi, a great elven swordmaster from the refugee’s village. In
either case, the weapon could be needed because it legitimizes an heir
or has a unique power necessary to stop an ancient evil (pretty much
insert any clichéd fantasy plot here).
Prominent NPCs
Akben Moonbeard: Male dwelf Ari4/Clr8; CR 11; Medium-size
humanoid; HD 12d8+12; hp 66; Init +1 (Dex); Spd 30ft.; AC 19
(+1 Dex, ó c|o:rmo:|, 2 smo|| s:cc| s|:c|á), touch 11, fat-footed 18;
Atk +11/+6 melee (1d8+1, crit. x3, 1 oorc (urácoá) uor|ommcr);
SA Spells; SQ Dwelven traits, turn undead; AL NG; SV Fort +8,
Ref +4, Will +13; Str 11, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 12.
Skills and Feats: Bluf +4, Concentration +4, Diplomacy +18,
Gather Information +6, Heal +7, Innuendo +8, Knowledge (nature)
+4, Listen +7, Search +1, Sense Motive +8, Spellcraft +4, Spot +7;
Alertness, Brew Potion, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Leadership,
Weapon Finesse (warhammer).
Possessions: 1 oorc (urácoá) uor|ommcr. orooc| oj s|:c|á:rg
(68 points left), 1 c|o:rmo:|, 1 áoggcr. gem encrusted beret (worth
252 gp), 1 smo|| s:cc| s|:c|á, po::or oj o:á. po::or oj |os:c. scro|| oj curc
scr:ous uourás. scro|| oj á:spc| mog:c. scro|| oj :rv:s:o:|::y purgc.
Dwelf Traits (Ex): Immune to s|ccp efects, low-light vision, +2
saves vs. enchantment, profcient with longsword, shortsword, and
warhammer, elven blood.
Cleric Spells Prepared (6/5+1/4+1/4+1/2+1; DC 13 + spell
level): 0-ác:cc: mog:c. gu:áorcc. mcrá:rg (2). |:g|:; 1—o|css (2). ác:cc:
urácoá. cr:org|c¯. rcmovc jcor. mog:c ucopor; 2—oor|s|:r¯. corsccro:c.
gcr:|c rcposc. mo|c u|o|c. s|:c|á o:|cr; 3—cor::ruo| homc. áoy|:g|:. á:s-
pc| mog:c¯. scor:rg |:g|:. s:orc s|opc; 4—á:v:ro::or. á:v:rc poucr. :mouc
u::| spc|| oo:|::y¯. * domain spell (has Magic and Plant).
Akben is the current seltar of the council. He has had the mis-
fortune of battling Kruldig in his youth and has prepared for the day
when the lich comes again, possessing appropriate spells and magical
items. After devoting his life to Landrech’s priesthood, Akben de-
cided to throw his skills into the political arena. e dwelf ’s grand-
father had once been seltar and the man’s stories of enjoying that the
post had never left Akben’s memory. He wanted to take up the seltar
position that he might bring fresh and positive changes to the colony.
His family name, Moonbeard, comes from the silver-streaked hair the
family members seem to have from birth. A jeweled beret holds the
dwelf ’s wild hair in a respectable ponytail and highlights the streaks
when the item catches the sunlight. Akben is 490 years old, stands
just shy of 5 feet tall, and enjoys a simple brown vest and leggings.
Ventia Steelroot: Female dwelf Drd14; CR 14; Medium-size hu-
manoid; HD 14d8; hp 63; Init +1 (Dex); Spd 30ft.; AC 16 (+1 Dex,
4 |co:|cr ormor, 1 r:rg oj pro:cc::or), touch 12, fat-footed 15; Atk
+13/+8 melee (1d6+2, 2 |o|y c|uo), +12/+7 ranged (1d4+1, 1
áor:); SA spells; SQ Animal companion, a thousand faces, dwelven
traits, nature sense, resist nature’s lure, trackless step, wild shape (5/
day), woodland stride, venom immunity; AL NG; SV Fort +9, Ref
+7, Will +12; Str 11 (9 without gour:|c:s oj ogrc poucr), Dex 12, Con
11, Int 12, Wis 17, Cha 11.
Skills and Feats: Concentration +9, Craft (weaving) +9, Heal
+19, Knowledge (nature) +18, Listen +5, Search +3, Spellcraft
+16, Spot +5, Wilderness Lore +20; Combat Casting, Extend Spell,
Lightning Refexes, Scribe Scroll, Weapon Focus (club).
Dwelf Traits (Ex): Immune to s|ccp efects, low-light vision, +2
saves vs. enchantment, profcient with longsword, shortsword, and
warhammer, elven blood.
Possessions: 1 áor:. gour:|c:s oj ogrc poucr. gem encrusted
brooch (worth 89 gp), 1 |o|y c|uo. 1 |co:|cr ormor. po::or oj áor|v:-
s:or. r:rg oj pro:cc::or 1. scro|| oj curc moácro:c uourás.
Druid Spells Prepared (6/6/6/5/4/3/3/2; DC 13 + spell
level): 0—crco:c uo:cr. curc m:ror uourás (2). ác:cc: po:sor. |:g|:. rcoá
mog:c; 1—curc |:g|: uourás. cráurc c|cmcr:s. cr:org|c. gooáocrry (2).
ooscur:rg m:s:; 2—oor|s|:r. c|orm or:mo|. homc o|oác. soj:cr cor:|
orá s:orc (2). :rcc s|opc; 3—curc moácro:c uourás (2). mc|á :r:o s:orc
(2). spco| u::| p|or:s; 4—curc scr:ous uourás. á:spc| mog:c. jrccáom
oj movcmcr:. s|cc: s:orm; 5—or:mo| grou:|. curc cr:::co| uourás. :rcc
s:r:ác; 6—|rc sccás. s:orc :c||. uo|| oj s:orc; 7—|co|. :ruc scc:rg.
Ventia is the leader of the 26 dwelven druids in Kel’Ahallish.
She and her kind tend to the natural aspects of the cavern. Its es-
thetic and structural conditions require constant monitoring. Ventia
gathers the druids within the forest during quiet times when services
are not held at the Well of Souls. Her weak-looking 560-year-old
frame is dressed in fowing auburn robes and topped by a swath of
brown hair with green-dyed streaks. She crinkles her broad nose
when the outside world is mentioned. For while she is relieved that
their elven and dwarven ancestors have survived, she believes that too
much intrusion from outsiders will disrupt the delicate balance of the
colony.
Kruldig
Medium-size Undead (Licb)
Hit Dice: 13d12 (84 hp)
Initiative: +1 (Dex)
Speed: 20 ft.
AC: 19 (+1 Dex, +5 natural, 3 oroccrs oj ormor)
Attacks: Touch +6/+1 melee
Damage: Touch 1d8+5 and paralysis
FaceIReacb: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Damaging touch, fear aura, paralyzing touch, spells
Special Qualities: Dwarven traits, undead, +4 turn resistance, dam-
age reduction 15/+1, immunities
Saves: Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +11 (c|oo| oj rcs:s:orcc 1)
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 12, Con –, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 19
Skills: Bluf +20, Concentration +16, Hide +9, Knowledge (arcana)
+19, Listen +10, Move Silently +9, Scry +19, Search +11,
Sense Motive +10, Spellcraft +19, Spot +10
Feats: Combat Casting, Craft Wand, Craft Wondrous Item, Em-
power Spell, Quicken Spell
Magic Items Carried: 3 oroccrs oj ormor, c|oo| oj rcs:s:orcc 1, uorá
oj :cc s:orm (41 charges), uorá oj mog:c m:ss:|c (5th-level caster,
32 charges).
Sorcerer Spells Known (Cast 6/7/7/7/7/6/4; DC 14 + spell level):
0-level—orcorc mor|. áorc:rg |:g|:s. áozc. ác:cc: mog:c. g|os:
sourá. mogc |orá. roy oj jros:. rcoá mog:c. rcs:s:orcc. 1
st
—o|orm.
grcosc. mog:c m:ss:|c. s|:c|á. ursccr scrvor:. 2
nd
—acid arrow, áor|-
rcss. jog c|ouá. :rv:s:o:|::y. s|o::cr. 3
rd
—á:spc| mog:c. homc orrou.
hy. rcoc::vc s:r:|c¯. 4
th
—o|oc| :cr:oc|cs. cor:og:or. á:mcrs:or áoor.
:cc s:orm. 5
th
—corc oj co|á. :c|cpor:. uo|| oj jorcc. 6
th
—oc:á jog.
moss suggcs::or.
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* denotes a new spell (see below)
Kruldig is so old that his bones are yellowed. He keeps his form
wrapped tightly in black or other dark-colored wrappings and looks
very much like a strange thin mummy from the neck down. e
skull with its fery pinpricks of light is kept exposed as are the former
dwarf ’s skeletal claws. After several thwarted attempts to take over
or destroy Kel’Ahallish over the millennia, Kruldig now lies low. He
watches and waits for a perfect time to strike against the dwelves,
developing new magics and continuing his study of the Well of Souls’
protection feld.
New Magic
Reactive Strike
Abjuration [Force]
Level: Brd 3, Clr 3, Sor/Wiz 3
Components: V, S, M/DF
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Close (25 ft. +5 ft. /2 levels)
Target: One creature
Duration: 1d6+1 round/level
Saving Trow: Will negates (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)
e warded creature is encased by an invisible feld that may
prove detrimental to physical melee attacks. When a successful hit is
scored on the target, the spell violently reverses the momentum of the
striking weapon. ere is a fash of light before the weapon is hurled
along the ground diagonally away from the target to stop at a maxi-
mum distance of 5 feet per 2 points of damage dealt by that weapon
(round down).
Only melee weapons can be afected. e attacker is allowed a
Refex save to determine whether the weapon is torn from his grasp.
If the attacker is using a weapon in two hands, he receives a +2 bonus
to his save.
Should a weapon fung by rcoc::vc s:r:|c enter an area occupied
by another creature, it is possible that creature may be tripped by
the spinning weapon. is works similar to the trip action (see the
PHB), using the initial attack roll of the individual whose weapon
was thrown. e defender of the trip can only be tripped if he is the
same size category or smaller than the weapon’s. e distance the
weapon is being thrown counts as the Strength score the defender
must overcome (the farther the weapon has to travel, the quicker its
velocity). Whether or not the defender is tripped, the weapon stops
at his position.
Arcorc Mo:cr:o| Comporcr:: A small piece of rubber consumed
in the casting.
New Items
Pot of Boiling
is ceramic bowl is 9-inches high and 7-inches in diameter.
When flled over halfway with liquid, the magic of the pot heats it up
to the boiling point (taking 3 rounds). After this, it goes into a “sim-
mer” mode while the outside of the item remains at room tempera-
ture for easy handling. e dwelves use these items to conserve wood
and decrease the amount of smoke put into the air.
Cos:cr |cvc|: 3
rd
; |rcrcou:s::cs: Craft Wondrous Item, |co:
mc:o|; Mor|c: |r:cc: 3,000gp.
Well of Souls
is artifact was created by the dwelf god Landrech to protect
his people from dangers outside their home. Instead of having the
souls of those placed inside ascend to a higher plane, Landrech uses
their ambient energy to maintain the feld around Kel’Ahallish. No
evilly-aligned creature can penetrate its depths, which has stopped the
lich Kruldig from animating the bodies inside to create his own army.
Clerics of Landrech cast spells as if they were three levels higher
when they are within 100 feet of the Well (i.e. a 6
th
-level cleric casts
his spells as if she were a 9
th
-level cleric). is increase does not afect
the number of spells she can cast each day, only the random numeric
efects of spells dependant on caster level. Inside, when a section of
catacombs is flled with corpses, another corridor immediately grows
next to it to accommodate more. is does not afect the earth below
the Well because the area at the bottom of the Well’s staircase is actu-
ally not on the material plane. e catacombs reside inside an extra-
dimensional pocket only accessible through the Well of Souls.
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EASILY DEFEATED!
Written by Robert M. Adams
Edited by Wade Nudson
Scc::or 1S: Easily Defeated Copyr:g|: 2003. Roocr: M. Aáoms
H
ave you ever spent all night eagerly jotting down notes
and formulating plans that are sure to test the mettle of
your players, just to have them rush right though what you cre-
ated and then look up at you with a blank expression on their
faces to say, “Ok, what now?” ey all pat you on the back while
leaving still fnishing their pizza and say “Great game, Rob!”
but inside you are dying to cry out “NO! It sucked! You guys
just ran though everything like it was nothing, while I sat there
looking dumbfounded as you put all my carefully laid plans to
rest!” What do you do? Shout? Kick something really hard?
Jump up and down and yell at the top of your lungs? While
these things may sound good, there is in fact a sound ordinance
law in many cities and if you were to say, disturb your neigh-
bors, you may be rewarded for your pains with a trip down to
the local precinct. So apart from these things, what do you do
when your carefully laid plans seem too easy for the players?
What I usually do in this situation is to go over the entire
gaming session again and try to fgure out what exactly the
players did to get through it so easily. While this may seem a
daunting task you will fnd that as a DM you have great powers
of memory and should be able to recall the event with little
difculty.
For instance, my group is currently playing in the Iorgo::cr
Rco|ms world in which I am running a module, but with my
own personal twists. In the module, some local organized orcs
are harassing a small farming village near a larger town. e
town has in its possession an artifact that allows them to live
more easily during the winter months. Since it is January in the
game world (not the actual month name but copyright viola-
tion prohibits me from actually naming it) the townspeople
desperately need the artifact. is is where the orcs come in,
steal it, cause much havoc, and then escape. e players are
asked by a desperate matron mother to catch the orcs and
regain control of the prized artifact. Of course, the PCs accept,
with no promise of treasure except for whatever the town can
scrape together, and head of after the raiding party.
Now in the module the party is supposed to come across
the raiding party unaware and in celebration while heading
back to their base camp. is is all well and good and the
players automatically get a jump on the orcs except that one
of them makes a really horrible Move Silent check. Because of
this, I declare his character steps loudly on a fallen tree branch
and I allow the lead orc to make a listen check. While the
lead orc did not exactly meet the required DC to have heard
anything he did come close so I decided that he still had a little
common sense left and ordered the celebration to stop and
yelled at the others to stop singing. is obviously made the
players, who were sneaking up on the orcs in the woods, a little
on the nervous side. ey began to make plans to sneak around
the orcs and try and catch them on both sides. Now the road
was only fve feet wide and covered by lush forest on either side,
so they had little trouble in getting around the orcs and set up
an excellent ambush. On one hand, this display of forethought
and planning made me proud to be their GM, but on the other,
one of the players faltered his die roll and scored even worse
than before. is time my lead orc did make his Listen DC and
sent out two scouts to look for what made the noise. e play-
ers decided they had heard enough and launched their attack.
I made morale rolls for the orcs and most of them held fast,
except the leader who was scared, drunk, and wanted out, so
he bolted down the path towards the waiting halfing charac-
ter. With the orcs drunk, it was not difcult for the players to
defeat them, and after a few combat rounds the players had tied
up all the orcs in melee and had even defeated a few in battle.
After tidying up the orc loot and gloating about defeating the
orc leader, the party headed back to town. I, however, am a
mischievous Game Master and like to run as real NPCs as pos-
sible, so I decided that since the orc raiding party had not come
back yet that the half orc who was running the show had fg-
ured out what happened and set up defenses at his ruined keep.
at night the party slept soundly in the inn, compliments of
the grateful townspeople who now could survive through the
cold winter months, while Tevik and his orc minions prepared
for battle.
When they awoke the party was rejuvenated and made for
the town center to do some bartering on the orc equipment.
e thief went elsewhere to inquire about poisons and other
nastiness that I will not discuss in this article. e cleric was
busy burying the fallen from the night before. After all was
said and done we ended the session and everyone left happy.
Everyone except me, who toiled over the plans for the keep and
thought out an intricate plot, one that the half orc was able to
devise with the help of another major NPC villain who had
thwarted the players nicely since the beginning of the game. I
thought they would be glad to see him.
e next gaming session I was ready, and so was the half
orc. I fgured that Tevik was smart enough to send out scouts
since in the module he sets campfres around the keep if the
players attack during the night. e party was then asked
by the magistrate of the town to seek out the menace of the
orcs and defeat their leader. Of course, when promised more
rewards, they accepted. ere was also rumor of a vampire, and
the cleric of the god of the dead immediately wanted to smite
it, so it was not very hard for me to push them in that direction.
So the party headed into the woods and back towards
‘ Wanted: Reliable players
who will not foil my mischievous, well-laid plans
nor easily defeat my master villains.
Apply within.’
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where they had defeated the orcs the previous night. ey
discovered a secret path and under the cover of darkness
marched towards the orc keep. ey passed right to the keep
with no resistance, and I gleefully set my plan in motion. Just
when the thief was fumbling around for they keys he had found
on a large orc the night before, I had a lookout make a Spot
check. Failure! I got a 5 and really wanted to turn it into a suc-
cess using my god-like powers, but I decided to let roll stand.
I was confdent they would probably get themselves caught in
no time anyway, what with what was in the next room and all.
Click, the door opened quietly and the player playing the thief
asked me if he could make a Spot check. Sure, I told him. He
scored something like a 22, which allowed him to see the look-
out that had failed to spot him from the bell tower. I told him
that there was a silhouette that had his back towards the party
up in the bell tower. e thief shot and killed the orc with a
critical success. Whew, so much for a lookout!
At least I had laid this trap out as realistically as possible,
so I was still having fun and told the players all to make Listen
rolls. is was a fake roll but I wanted to keep them on their
toes. e green slime in the next room was not making any
noise at all. One person told me that he was carefully looking
around so I let him make a Spot check and bam he spotted the
slime.
One thing led to another and eventually the party made
their way to the orcs waiting outside. e adventure ended
with them winning but sufering one loss when I had Tevik
cast hold person on the paladin and his orc minion attacked
the paralyzed hero. e paladin fell but the group was able to
overcome all the threats, including killing the rival mage villain
who harassed the party since the beginning of the game. I was
right, they WERE glad to see him! As a consideration for be-
ing so brave and putting himself in the face of mortal danger,
thereby saving the lives of his party members, the paladin of
the game was given full experience points and allowed to start
a new character at the player’s last character level. All in all it
was a great game with many heroic victories won and valorous
deeds done.
Basically, what I am saying is that when you as the Game
Master feel your party is overcoming your obstacles too quickly
or that something is just not enough of a challenge, think about
how the NPCs would feel. In the case of Tevik, I made him so
angry that he devised a new set of plans, then yelled at the par-
ty and threatened to make the temple their fnal resting place.
All because he knew they were the ones who killed his chief
the previous night and were the ones his ally -- the mage -- had
warned of. is goes back to all of my other articles when I said
to make NPCs as realistic as possible, because it leads to more
exciting game sessions for both you and your players. Remem-
ber, when you think are having a bad session, go back over the
events and think as if you were the NPCs who sufered the de-
feat and how you would respond. en see how well the party
does with a thinking enemy. It sure beats cardboard cutouts.
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Sizing Up the Target
M:ár:g|: is a new fan-
tasy campaign setting from
Fantasy Fligbt Games. Billed
as “Lp:c Ior:osy :r or Agc
oj S|oáous,” this 254-page
harcover carries a retail price
of $34.95 and is written by
Wil Upchurch and Jefrey
Barber. Original creation and
development of M:ár:g|: is
credited to Greg Benage with
additional writing by Jack
Holcomb and Rob Vaughn.
First Blood
e premise behind M:ár:g|: is that a great war between the
gods resulted in the dark god Izrador having his spirit severed from
his physical form. His physical form fell to the earth, poisoning and
corrupting all it touched. It also resulted in sundering all communica-
tion the lords of light had with their followers. Over time, the dark
god slumbered and regained his strength. ree times Izrador rose
and threatened the nations of Aryth with the third attempt being
successful. e dark god corrupted four of Aryth’s greatest heroes
turning them into his Night Kings. Now they are on a campaign to
eradicate the elder races and take control of aryth. ere are only a
few heroes left that stand in Izrador’s way.
M:ár:g|: is a departure from standard fantasy is some ways, yet
familiar in others. For starters, the races are slightly diferent and
stronger. Dwarves are under siege by the Shadows and are decimated
to only a few remaining clans. ere are several sub-races of elves:
snow, wood, sea and jungle. Gnomes appear to serve the dark forces
yet secretly work to oppose them. Halfings are more fey-like and
nomadic. Humans are a adaptable as ever and quite resilient. Orcs
were created by the black will of Izrador and are the scourges they
were always meant to be.
Halfbreeds do occur in M:ár:g|:, but they are rare. Dwarrow are
the result of gnomes and dwarves mating. Dworgs are the bastards of
orcs and dwarves. Elfings result from elven and halfing unions.
Core classes also have undergone modifcation, some quite
drastic. Barbarians, fghters and rogues are unchanged, and all others
have been replaced. Because magic works diferently, some of the
spellcasting classes such as bards and rangers have been eliminated.
Channelers possess innate spellcasting potential and risk discovery by
the Night Kings. Defenders are, in a sense, the paladins of the world.
ey defy the forces of evil, protect their people and seek to raise
their spirits. Legates are the only class capable of casting divine magic.
However, they serve Izrador and his Night Kings. Wildlanders are
part ranger and part druid with a devotion to nature, but yet serving
as a protector of the people.
Prestige classes have familiar names but with diferent abili-
ties. Druids still have a strong connection with nature but not the
u:|á s|opc ability commonly associated with the class. Freeriders are
reminiscent of the cavalier class. e Insurgent Spy is tailor-made for
rogues and has contacts that are minions of the Shadow. e Wizard
takes spellcasting to new levels (and new dangers).
One of the new things about M:ár:g|: is the concept of heroic
paths. At frst level, characters choose a single path, which will grant
them abilities at every level. Once a path has been chosen, it cannot be
changed. Of the many choices, I like earthbonded and ironborn best.
Critical Hits
Plenty. Not only does this setting give a fresh take on the fantasy
stereotype, but it does it with brute force. Besides a serious nod to
Tolkein, there are also underpinnings of Booy|or S and even Edgar
Rice Burroughs. Unlike many campaign worlds, this one has a very
rich and detailed story. It’s also a story where the characters have a
role to play. e game mechanics are very solid and the spell system
intriguing. rough it all, the biggest hit in my opinion is the sheer
magnitude of the setting itself.
Critical Misses
ere is literally nothing serious that is worth complaining about
here. Be advised that the dark and foreboding nature isn’t for every-
one. In many ways, M:ár:g|: represents what Rovcr|oj: could have
been by its dark and evil tone. I should note that a small number of
books (including my copy) do have binding issues, but to my knowl-
edge, Fantasy Flight has made sure each customer was taken care of.
Coup de Grace
M:ár:g|: is simply one of the best campaign settings available.
e writing and game mechanics are top notch and represent why
Fantasy Flight is one of the best d20 publishers in the marketplace.
When all is said and done, look for M:ár:g|: to win some awards and
become of the more popular campaign settings. is is simply a “must
buy” for everyone.
Te Critic’s Rating (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Game Content: 3.75 (Mostly restricted to
game mechanics.)
-d20 Compliance: 5.0
-Originality: 5.0
-Playability: 4.75 (Its dark nature isn’t for everyone.)
-Value for the Dollar: 5.0
Overall Score: 4.70
Final Grade: A+
Available at FRP Games for $27.95 (a savings of $7.00)!!
MIDNIGHT: A LOOK AT THE LAND OF SHADOW
Written by Steve Creeh
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Lord Cborn Takyel, male faust Ftr10 Rog2 Sbd6: CR 18;
Medium-size Humanoid (4 ft. 8 in. tall); HD 10d10+40 (Ftr),
2d6+8 (Rog), 6d8+24 (Shd); hp 187; Init +9 (+5 Dex, +4 Improved
Initiative); Spd 40 ft.; AC 18 (+7 armor, +5 Dex, +6 natural); Atks
+23/+18/+13 melee (1d8+11 and 1d6/crit 19-20 x4, 3 ¡oggcá
áouo|c c|o:rcá oxc
1
); and +23 melee (1d8+8/crit 19-20 x4,
3 ¡oggcá áouo|c c|o:rcá oxc); or +21 melee (1d8+6, 2
claws); and +16 melee (2d4+3, bite); or +20/+15/+10
ranged (1d4+7/crit 19-20, 1 áoggcr); SA shadow illu-
sion, sneak attack +1d6, summon shadow; SQ defensive
roll, evasion, faust traits, hide in plain sight, prestige races,
shadow jump 40 ft., SR 15, uncanny dodge; AL CE; SV
Fort +16, Ref +19, Will +9; Str 22, Dex 20, Con 18, Int
12, Wis 12, Cha 15.
S|:||s: Bluf +9, Hide +36, Intimidate +6, Listen +21, Move
Silently +26, Perform +7, Spot +16, Tumble +16. Ico:s: Am-
bidexterity, Combat Refexes, Dodge, Expertise, Exotic Weapon
Profciency (double chained axe), Improved Critical (double chained
axe), Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Mobility, Spring Attack,
Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (double chained axe), Weapon
Specialization (double chained axe).
|osscss:ors: S s|oáou s:|cr: movcs s|oáou áouo|c:¯. 3 ¡oggcá
áouo|c c|o:r oxc¯. 3 3 áoggcrs. oroccrs oj |co|:| 4. gour:|c:s oj ogrc
poucr. c|oo| oj rcs:s:orcc 3. po::or oj |os:c.
* ese items and magic qualities can be found in Arms G Ar-
mor by Bastion Press.
SA – S|oáou I||us:or (Sp): As a shadowdancer, Chorn can create
visual illusions from the surrounding shadows. is spell-like ability
is identical to the arcane spell s:|cr: :mogc and may be employed once
per day.
SQ – Dcjcrs:vc Ro|| (Lx): As a shadowdancer, Chorn can roll
with a potentially lethal blow to take less damage from it. Once per
day, when a shadowdancer would be reduced to 0 hit points or less by
damage in combat (from a weapon or other blow, not a spell or special
ability), the shadowdancer can attempt to roll with the damage. He
makes a Refex save (DC = damage dealt) and, if successful, takes
only half damage from the blow. He must be aware of the attack and
able to react to it in order to execute his defensive roll. If he where
in a situation that would deny him any Dexterity bonus, he cannot
attempt the defensive roll.
SQ – H:ác Ir ||o:r S:g|: (Su): Shadowdancers can use the Hide
skill even while being observed. As long as they are within 10 feet of
some sort of shadow, shadowdancers can hide themselves from view
in the open without anything to actually hide behind. ey cannot,
however, hide in their own shadows.
OATHBOUND: COMPANIONS FOR YOUR CAMPAIGN
Written by James Wilbur (LostGoth@aol.com)
Edited by Andrew Garbade
Section 15: Oathbound: Companions for your Campaign Copyright 2003, James Wilbur; Oathbound: Domains
of the Forge Copyright 2002, Bastion Press Inc.; Arms & Armor Copyright 2001, Bastion Press, Inc.
SQ – S|oáou ]ump (Su): At 4
th
-level, the shadowdancer gains the
ability to travel between shadows as if by means of a á:mcrs:or áoor
spell. e limitation is that the magical transport must begin and end
in an area with at least some shadow. e shadowdancer can jump up
to a total of 40 feet each day in this way, although this may be a single
jump of 40 feet or two jumps of 20 feet each.
|rcs::gc Roccs: Focus of the Senses (complete) +4 to Listen,
Search, and Spot checks, scent, and 360 vision (cannot be fanked).
Focus of the Shadow (shaded) +6 on Hide checks, SR 15.
Ious: lro::s: +6 natural armor; base speed 40 ft.; +5 racial bonus
on Listen checks; natural weaponry (1d8 + Str bonus, 2 claws), (2d4
+ 1 Str bonus, bite); darkvision 60 ft.
Background: In the ffth year of his reign, Lord Pandarus of Bea-
con decided that it was time to strictly enforce his “full employment”
policies. e military was sent to round up the usual suspects, people
to be put in Beacon’s infamous Pit as an example to others.
One of those usual suspects was a faust by the name of Golek
akyel. Not truly a vagrant, Golek was simply one of those fausts
that had a hard time adapting to city life. Instinctually he liked to
hang around, wait for victims, and scrounge what he needed. ese
traits made it hard for him to keep a job. To top things of, Golek’s
wife had died the year before from the complications of alcoholism,
leaving him to care for their son Chorn.
When the guards came to round up Golek, Chorn ran and hid,
just like his father told him to do. ereafter Chorn grew up on the
streets, using his cunning and his knack at remaining unseen to keep
alive. Amazing for Beacon, Chorn managed to stay out of prison for
ten years. He even started his own street gang and became boss of
Beacon’s small organized crime syndicate.
But it was only a matter of time before the brutal regime of Bea-
con caught up with him, and eventually Chorn was taken to the Pit,
Lord Pandarus’ massive underground prison.
His frst years in the Pit where what made him what he is today.
e natural selection an underground labyrinth flled with the world’s
worst criminals makes for strong survivors, and Chorn swam to the
top. Soon, through intimidation, he had carved out a piece of the Pit
for himself, and the other inhabitants lived in fear of him.
One day, as a stroke of luck, he was given the silver Mashool
Belasha, a more than capable sorcerer, as a gift from one of his subor-
dinates. Chorn acted as Mashool’s protector, and soon he had one of
the few powerful spellcasters in the entire underground working for
him. With Mashool, Chorn moved to take over the Pit entire.
Many times Chorn joked with his friend Mashool that he was
Lord of the Pit. A title he found most amusing. Two days after mak-
ing just such a claim, an upstart lunar moved to assassinate Chorn in
his bed. Caught unawares, Chorn was certain he was about to meet
his doom when a lady with four horns and black wings, wielding a
bladed harp, suddenly appeared and cut down the assassin, just to
disappear as quickly as she came.
Chorn and Mashool pondered this event for days. e only
conclusion they could come to was that Chorn was now considered
]omcs V:|our :s orc oj mory gomcrs u|o orc o:g cr:|us:os:s oj :|c
Oo:|oourá compo:gr sc:::rg oy Bos::or |rcss. Or o (mos:|y) ucc||y oo-
s:s. |c pos:s N|Cs :|o: |c |os ácvc|opcá or :|c omc:o| jorums jor Bos::or
|rcss. Hcrc orc ¡us: o jcu oj :|osc N|Cs :|o: |c |os crco:cá cxc|us:vc|y
jor or oávcr:urc :|o: u:|| oc rur o: corvcr::ors :|:s ycor co||cá “Good
Heroes Never Fade Away”. –S:cvc Crccc|. á20Z:rc|
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by Israfel to be a true Bloodlord, and that the assassin was killed for
breaking her laws.
Since that time, Chorn has plotted a way to use his new title to
take revenge on Pandarus. His limited resources in the Pit make it
difcult for this to happen, but he is patient.
Lo:r: Chorn’s chambers contain the best and most luxurious
trappings that can be found in the Pit. e furniture is made from
scraps, and his throne no more than a huge rock, but he is still better
of than most of the dregs who live there.
||oy:rg C|orr: e Lord of the Pit makes all negotiations
through veiled threats. He puts forth an aura of faux charm, and at
times seems to be almost a cultured gentleman. is is an act, which
never falters until just before he is about to strike.
Chorn wants nothing less than to kill Pandarus. As a Bloodlord,
he knows he can strike secretly, making the job that much easier. Of
course, all of this is dependent on him getting out of the Pit. He plans
on leading a general riot that can break free to the surface. e prob-
lem with the plan is Chorn and Mashool are exceptions in the Pit;
most have almost nothing in terms of weapons and magical equip-
ment. Chorn then is desperate to fnd a supplier of such things.
Another thing that occupies Chorn’s mind is his father. Many
times he has heard rumors that his father still lives. From time to
time, Chorn wanders through the dark domain searching for his lost
parent.
Masbool Belasba, male silver Sor15: CR 15; Medium-size
Humanoid (5 ft. 3 in. tall); HD 15d4+30; hp 73; Init +6 (+2 Dex,
+4 improved initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 17 (+5 armor, +2 Dex);
Atks +7/2 melee (1d4-1/crit 19-20, masterwork dagger); or +9/+4
ranged; SA spells; SQ DR 1/-, gifts, maimed, silver traits; AL NE;
SV Fort +11, Ref +11, Will +15; Str 8, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 16, Wis
10, Cha 27.
S|:||s: Alchemy +11, Bluf +12, Concentration +24, Diplo-
macy +12, Intimidate +12, Knowledge (arcana) +17, Sense Motive
+6, Spellcraft +17. Ico:s: Combat Casting, Improved Initiative, Iron
Will, Spell Focus (enchantment, evocation), Spell Penetration.
|osscss:ors: oroccrs oj ormor S. r:rg oj pro:cc::or 3. c:rc|c:
oj c|or:smo 4. c|oo| oj rcs:s:orcc 4. v:oror: purp|c :our s:orc (stores
|co|).
Spc||s Krour (base save DC 18 + spell level; spells per day
6/8/8/8/8/7/7/5): 0 – roy oj jros:. áozc¯. horc. |:g|:. mogc |orá. or-
corc mor|. ác:cc: mog:c. prcs::á:g::o::or. rcoá mog:c: 1
st
– s|:c|á. sccorá
s|:c|á†. c|orm pcrsor¯. mog:c m:ss:|c. cxpcá:::ous rc:rco:: 2
nd
– uco.
|:ácous |oug|:cr¯. or:||:or: sproy¯†. :rv:s:o:|::y. áor|v:s:or: 3
rd
– á:spc|
mog:c. |o|á pcrsor¯. |rcoo||¯. hy: 4
th
– c|orm mors:cr¯. mog:c m:ss:|c
sproy†. uo|| oj :cc¯. po|ymorp| sc|j: 5
th
– áom:ro:c pcrsor¯. corc oj co|á¯.
s|:c|áorco|cr¯†. :c|c|:rcs:s: 6
th
– moss suggcs::or¯. c|o:r |:g|:r:rg¯.
á:s:r:cgro:c: 7
th
– pr:smo::c sproy¯. |:m::cá u:s|.
* Base save DC 20 + spell level. † Denotes spell from Spc||s
G Mog:c by Bastion Press.
SQ – G:j:s: Resilient: DR 1/-; Lesser Somatic Component:
Mashool’s spells are altered so that the somatic component only
requires one hand.
SQ – Mo:mcá (Lx): Mashool is missing his left hand. He
cannot use any weapon, or manipulate any device that requires two
hands. He uses only half of his Strength score to determine the
weight of objects he wishes to lift or move.
S:|vcr lro::s: Electricity resistance 10; derive sustenance
from metal; SQ – Hco|:rg Mc:o| (Lx): A silver can regenerate wounds
and heal damage if it ingests mithril. A silver is healed 1d10 points of
damage by ingesting a handful of mithril. Four coin-sized nuggets of
mithril cost 40 gp.; gold intoxication.
Boc|grourá: In a race known for their arrogance, Mashool is no
exception. He constantly chafed under the rule of his parents, and
murdered them by the time he was 96. Some would say the act was
somewhat justifed; more so than most silvers, Mashool’s parents took
every opportunity to scold and humiliate him, keeping Mashool in his
place. While the blood was still cooling in their bodies he swore never
to be under the rule of another again.
Such determined ambition does not go unnoticed, and
Israfel, Queen of Penance, brought the young silver to the Forge. Let
it never be said that the Flock lacks a sense of humor, or at least irony,
for Israfel left Mashool in the City if Beacon under the rule of the
tyrant Lord Pandarus.
It did not take long for Mashool’s unwillingness to cooper-
ate to land him in trouble. After a few run-ins with Lord Pandarus’
soldiers, Mashool started his own underground resistance to over-
throw the Bloodlord. Of course, he was caught. Lord Pandarus recog-
nized the look of pride in the silver’s eye, and decided that death was
to good for him. Mashool was thrown into the Pit. As all spellcasters,
Mashool’s left hand was severed before his incarceration, to prevent
him from casting spells.
His frst two years in the Pit nearly broke him. Unable to defend
himself, the predatory denizens of the jail used him as they wished,
and most had a particular dislike for silvers. In time, he was given as
tribute to Chorn akyel, who was already becoming a major power
amongst the gangs. Chorn treated the silver with respect, recogniz-
ing his intelligence and personal magnetism. ough he was still his
servant, Mashool found Chorn to be the closest thing to a friend he
had ever known.
His confdence somewhat restored, Mashool looked for a way to
regain his abilities as a sorcerer. rough sheer determination (and
unbeknownst to him, a little help from the Queen), he developed a
way to cast his spells with only one hand.
e weeks after the perfection of his discovery were flled with a
murder spree, as Mashool tracked down and destroyed all those who
once abused him. His vengeance satiated, he found he had nowhere
else to go but back to Chorn. e faust greeted him with open arms,
lifted Mashool’s bond of servitude, and ofered him an equal partner-
ship in his criminal domain. e two have ruled the Pit ever since.
Lo:r: Mashool has a chamber in the series of caves that Chorn
refers to as his “palace”. He also keeps a few secret lairs in the Pit, just
in case he wishes to disappear.
||oy:rg Mos|oo|: Mashool is a master manipulator, able to move
almost any being into the desired emotional state. He speaks as a gen-
eral, in stirring speeches and stern commands. Seldom are his words
disobeyed, and they are never ignored. Only with Chorn does he relax
this persona, but even with his friend he never shows weakness.
Perhaps two black-hearted villains such as these would have
turned on each other long ago, if it was not for their mutual hatred of
Pandarus. rough Chorn’s strength and guile, and Mashool’s pres-
ence and magic, the duo knows it is just a matter of time before they
face their nemesis.
Oblune Starglow, female elf Ari2 Ftr4 Rog4 Asn3: CR 12;
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Medium-size Humanoid (5 ft. 3 in. tall); HD 9d6 (Ari, Rog, Asn),
4d10 (Ftr); hp 76; Init +5 (+5 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 22 (+7 armor,
+5 Dex); Atks +16/+11 melee (1d6+5/crit 12-20, 2 |ccr sc:m::or);
or +18/+13 ranged (1d8+3/crit x3, 2 m:g|:y compos::c |orgoou
with masterwork arrows); SA death attack, sneak attack +3d6, poi-
son use, spells; SQ +1 save vs. poison, arrival gift, elf traits, evasion,
uncanny dodge; AL CE; SV Fort +6, Ref +13, Will +6; Str 17, Dex
20, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 14.
S|:||s: Bluf +7, Diplomacy +4, Disguise +6, Gather Informa-
tion +8, Hide +18, Innuendo +6, Jump +15, Listen +5, Move
Silently +18, Search +13, Sense Motive +6, Spot +6, Tumble +15.
Ico:s: Dodge, Improved Critical (scimitar), Mobility, Point Blank
Shot, Precise Shot, Spring Attack, Weapon Focus (scimitar), Weapon
Specialization (scimitar).
Spc||s |rcporcá (base save DC 11 + spell level; 2): 1
st
– c|orgc
sc|j. sp:ácr c|:mo.
SA – |o:sor Usc (Lx): Ohlune is skilled in the use of poison and
never risks accidental poisoning when applying poison to a blade.
SQ – Arr:vo| G:j:: Sneaky: You can scamper about in the shad-
ows without being noticed. You gain a +2 competence bonus to Hide
and Move Silently checks. You also gain a +2 luck bonus to saving
throws to prevent from being detected by magical means.
|osscss:ors: 3 g|omcrcá m::|r:| c|o:r s|:r:. 2 |ccr sc:m::or. 2
m:g|:y compos::c |orgoou. 20 masterwork arrow, ooo:s oj spccá.
Spc||ooo|: c|orgc sc|j. ác:cc: po:sor. ooscur:rg m:s:. sp:ácr c|:mo.
Boc|grourá: Ohlune was born on a subdued world, a plane that
would be considered culturally “backward” by most residents of Pen-
ance. Ofcially known as Princess Ohlune Starglow, her mother was
the queen of a great elven nation, Ohlune grew up surrounded by
comfort and security. What she didn’t have, however, was her mother’s
afection. rough her childhood, Ohlune grew resentful of her
mother’s indiference, and the attention lavished on her older sister.
en a freak accident occurred, her sister was killed on the tilt-
ing feld, and Ohlune was named heir. Suddenly she had everything
she wanted, but it did not take her long to realize that it was a trap,
she would be forever stuck in the gilded cage she hated.
Ohlune escaped, stowing away on a human ship and ofering
her services as a fghter to a pirate crew. Mere days after the ship left
shore, the captain turned on her and Ohlune became a slave, used by
the captain, and sometimes the crew.
To this day Ohlune considers Israfel an angel, for the Queen of
Penance rescued her from what would surely have been an ignoble
death. Recognizing the girl’s skill, Israfel brought her to the Forge.
Ohlune’s arrival put her immediately to the test, for the Queen
had dropped her in the Golden Ghetto. She had to constantly elude
the predators there, but at least she had a fghting chance. Ohlune
came to be known as her own criminal empire. She hired out her
services to the highest bidder, working as an assassin, an escort, a spy,
or a thug, always serving loyally until her contract was up. It didn’t
take long for her skills to be noticed by the biggest boss in the Golden
Shore, Lord Narcis.
Ohlune had reservations about being one of the Bloodlord’s
guard, until she learned that he expected nothing from them but loyal
service, and showed his loyalty in return. Ohlune considers Narcis to
be the greatest Bloodlord of all Penance, and happily does anything
she can to serve him.
Lately, Ohlune has spent less time as a litter bearer/guard and
more time as an information gatherer. One of her many tasks is to
fnd new seeds that arrive in the Golden Shore, assess their power,
and how useful they can be to her lord.
Lo:r: Ohlune has her own lavish apartment in Palace Hafa, just
like all of Narcis’ guards. She also keeps a room at three inns, all of
varying quality, including one in the Golden Ghetto, in case she needs
a discreet location to meet with those she is keeping track of.
||oy:rg O||urc: When not playing a role, Ohlune tends to be
self-important and narcissistic. She knows that she has skill and
power, and uses it to get what she wants. She realizes life is too short
to worry about what others think of you, so she can be crude and
abrasive to those she considers her lesser, which is nearly everybody.
She has absolutely no qualms about using people to get what she
wants.
Of course, this only applies when she is not deliberately trying
to coerce information, or infltrate a group. She can be charming and
witty, and can quickly assess what a person wants to hear, and then
give it to them. Perhaps the one thing she has a difcult time being is
demure. Not having a forceful personality is an alien concept to her.
Glaive Rineddin, male baze Ftr5 Hn5: CR 10; Medium-size
Humanoid (7 ft. tall); HD 10d10+20; hp 99; Init +6 (+2 Dex, +4
Improved Initiative); Spd 20 ft., fy 60 ft. (average); AC 24 (+10
armor, +2 Dex, +2 natural); Atks +22/+17 melee (1d10+15/crit
18-20 x3, 2 |ccr g|o:vc); 10 ft. reach; SA fell blow, precision strike,
skilled stunt; SQ arrival gift, fre resistance 5, haze traits, improved
defense, prestige race; AL LG; SV Fort +10, Ref +4, Will +2; Str 22,
Dex 15, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 15.
S|:||s: Climb +9, Jump +9, Spot +6, Tumble +11. Ico:s: Exper-
tise, Improved Critical (glaive), Improved Initiative, Improved Trip,
Improved Unarmed Strike, Weapon Focus (glaive), Weapon Special-
ization (glaive).
SA – Ic|| B|ou (Lx): As a hone, Glaive receives a +2 competence
bonus to damage rolls with his glaive.
SA – |rcc:s:or S:r:|c (Lx): As a hone, Glaive receives a +3
competence bonus to attack rolls when using his glaive. He receives a
–3 competence penalty on attack rolls when using any other weapon
besides his glaive or his natural attacks.
SA – S|:||cá S:ur: (Lx): As a hone, Glaive receives a +3 compe-
tence bonus on opposed rolls when using his glaive to perform stunts
such as tripping, disarming an opponent, or striking a weapon.
SQ – Arr:vo| G:j:: Brave – Glaive receives a +4 morale bonus to
all saving throws versus fear efects.
SQ – Improvcá Dcjcrsc (Lx): As a hone, Glaive gains a +2 dodge
bonus to AC while using his glaive and fghting against an opponent
using a slashing weapon.
|rcs::gc Rocc: Focus of the Wyrm (scaled creature, fying
creature) +2 natural armor bonus, fre resistance 5, fy speed 70 ft.
(average).
Hozc lro::s: natural weaponry (1d4 + Str bonus, 2 claws), (1d6
+ 1 Str bonus, beak); mindsight 100 ft., immune to gaze attacks and
darkness; +2 insight bonus on saves versus illusions; telepathy 100
ft.; +2 racial bonus on Listen checks; cannot eat solid food.
|osscss:ors: 2 ju|| p|o:c. 2 |ccr g|o:vc. po::or oj |os:c.
Boc|grourá: A natural warrior, Glaive spent his early years
searching for the perfect combat weapon. After many battles, quests
around the world, and visits with renowned weapon makers, he
settled upon a weapon with reach, speed, balance, and slashing power.
He dedicated himself to perfection of this weapon’s use, and took its
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name as his own – Glaive.
Such single-minded dedication drew the attention of the fock,
and he was brought to the Forge by Barbello, mistress of Arena. He
fought for many of the armies there, and was quite successful. e
last mercenary band he served decided to spend their money in the
great city of Penance. As often happens, the mercenaries became so
involved in city life their company disbanded, and Glaive was left to
fnd a new employer.
At this time, the Bloodlord Rineddin was seeking a new Razor to
train his army. Glaive went before the honorable lord, and explained
how he would train the men in the use of the perfect fghting weapon,
and thus make them superior to all others in Penance. Impressed with
the haze’s dedication, Rineddin hired him. Now Glaive has become
Glaive Rineddin, and trains the armies of his master, leading them
into battle.
One of the few friends Glaive has in Lord Rineddin’s household
is Wicek Fabron, the self-proclaimed, one-and-only wizard/bard on
the Forge. Wicek knows quite a bit about the history of the Forge
and the Flock, and has a pretty good idea how new seeds are chosen.
Glaive, despite his reserved demeanor, is enchanted by Wicek’s stories,
and is now thoroughly convinced that he must fnd the most powerful
seeds and attempt to sway them to the service of Lord Rineddin. It is
Glaive’s belief that one day a seed will come that has power beyond all
others, and that his lord must be allied with this “messiah” for his own
survival.
Lo:r: Glaive stays in the barracks with his men, or occasionally in
Lord Rineddin’s palace.
||oy:rg G|o:vc: Stalwart and true, Glaive is an honorable haze; he
sees everything colored by how it may afect his lord. Glaive is in no
way a social creature. His time is spent in training his men, or perfect-
ing his own skills. Listing to Wicek’s stories is his only vice.
Glaive sees any new seeds as potential allies, and a possible
addition to Lord Rineddin’s household. He does everything he can
to learn about the disposition and skill of new arrivals, and presents
those he deems worthy to Lord Rineddin.
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HUMBLE BEGINNINGS, A PBEM TALE
Written by Rob [BarTndr] Wojczyk
Edited by Andrew Garbade
Scc::or 1S: Humble Beginnings, o |ocM lo|c Copyr:g|: 2003. Roo Vo¡czy|
T
his month’s article will be the frst in a series regard-
ing a PBeM game that I am currently running. e
game (just like this article) I have titled Humble Begin-
nings, because it is my frst foray into the PBeM DM’ing
role, and the title should set the tone as I did not want to
‘oversell’ the game itself.
Running a PBeM game has some aspects that are not
unlike a face-to-face game. You need to defne the starting
parameters, house rules, setting, etc. But in addition to all
this, you will need to determine how some aspects of the
game will be handled. For example, the Attack of Oppor-
tunity is extremely easy to do on a tabletop with fgures,
but based on written correspondence and without a map
it becomes very difcult to implement.
e frst thing you need to do is pick a setting; I chose
the Iorgo::cr Rco|ms setting from Wizards of the Coast.
After that, picking a ‘starting date’ and location become
your next goals. But do not rush these steps – especially
if you have not decided how you want the game to ‘feel’ to
your players. You should also establish what sources you
will allow to be used by your characters. Picking books
you own is a good starting point. I would advise for any
Dragon Magazine items and feats, as well as web-based
content, that you are clear with your players that they can
be requested for use, but you will be the one to decide.
ere are some good game supplements out there, but
then there is some material that is simply too unbalanced
for use without additional house rules.
Before I really began recruiting players, I tried
to recall all the things from other PBeM’s I have par-
ticipated in that I thought were either never addressed
right, or could have been done better. is was the step
where I tried to write out character generation rules (and
it is good to give people a couple options, like using the
Irony.com die roller or using a point buy system). I game
my players the option of allocating 75 ability points how-
ever they desired, or take up to 3 shots on Irony using the
4d6 drop lowest (re-rolling 1’s on Irony is not an option,
so you can either have players roll stats in groups like 5d6
taking the frst 4 non-1’s and dropping the lowest, or you
can re-roll their 1’s for them). Make sure they understand
this is an ‘OR’ option. Once they do the frst roll on a die
roller, they will be taking a result generated by the die
roller. As I said, even with the option of taking 3 shots, I
still had 1 my players choose the 75 point option out of
fear of ‘ bad die roller luck.’
To handle Attacks of Opportunities I instituted what
I considered a ‘common sense’ rule. Since tactical move-
ment was not something that could be easily observed, I
stated that the only AoO’s would be ones generated by
actions such as running, casting in melee, or using ranged
weapons in melee.
Normally in combat a player who wants to switch his
action is able to do so but in my PBeM I decided to state
that once a combat situation was known that the players
had to send me their actions. Sure, I will accept some ‘if
this then that’ type descriptions, but combat is chaotic and
simultaneous – and I hope that comes across with how I
decided to handle it.
How do you get players? I was a little worried I would
have a tiny party of three to fve people I knew. en I
asked another PBeM DM who had recently looked for
new candidates if I could have his ‘throw aways.’ He sug-
gested I post the game on PBEM.com. Within two days
I had about 15 candidates. All told, I think I got twenty
quality applicants from that posting. I had cut my limit at
18 – there is an unwritten logic to PBeM’s that you will
lose 1/3 of your players in the frst 2 months – a number
I hope will be manageable in the long run.
Now using PBEM.com is very easy. ey have got all
kinds of suggestions they force you to read through before
you get to the form where you enter your game informa-
tion. My posting just asked for a writing sample, stated
the campaign and starting levels (and of course my rule
set), and had a description of the game. One advantage
here is you will end up with players who are outside your
usual circle of co-players, infusing some new energy and
ideas into the game.
But before I had signed up my frst player, I set up
the game infrastructure. I created two groups on Yahoo
Groups (one for the game, and one for OOC discussions).
As candidates were accepted, I invited them to the OOC
group – which was where they got the character sheet and
house rules documents.
I cannot suggest having a clean base character sheet
enough. If you let the players use whatever they want to
track pertinent information, you may end up having as
many diferent formats as you have players. ese are
sheets you will be referencing often, and if everyone is
unable to use something like cloo|s or |CGcr, then a
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common format of a Word document is the next best
thing. Sure, some players will want to use a form they are
comfortable with, and that is OK, but every efort should
be made to make the various campaign documents consis-
tent.
Now as to the players, since I had mentioned my set-
ting in my announcement, I did not end up having to re-
peat it or get the ‘where are we going to be’ question. I also
had specifcally asked for a writing sample, and I got some
descriptions and sample backgrounds that were written
for other settings. At this point in the process (picking the
players) it was good enough, and I was able to see whether
or not the candidates could write descriptive English.
As I got players, I let them pick the classes they
wanted (at least initially). After the frst two days, I had 4
mages, a cleric, a pair of monks, some rogues, and a ranger.
At that point, I started to ‘guide’ new candidates towards
the fghter classes. As I said earlier, after the 18
th
person,
I began to respond with a polite “Hey thanks for being
interested, we’re not accepting new players currently, but if
you want I can hold onto your email address” message. It
never hurts to be nice and at some point you might need
one or two players; if your current players are unable to
refer anyone, then these alternates might prove fruitful.
After that, as I generated some adventures - like the
starting point and a couple ‘setting’ based adventures – I
also assisted the players with their characters’ game me-
chanics and backgrounds. One stipulation I had made was
that I required a background of at least one page (more
for players playing races with ECL modifers), and this
history needed to include some insight into the character’s
youth, at least one relative’s name, and a patron. Luckily,
from these backgrounds, I was able to begin to plan about
four more adventures to throw at the party – you would
be surprised how much material you can get from your
players if you pause to pay attention to them.
As things are now, I am waiting for a few more char-
acter sheets and I have to get all my ‘cheat sheets’ in a row.
Not surprisingly, before the game has ofcially started I
have already had one person drop. At the same time, the
others are so geared up that the planned start date may be
moved forward a little bit.e preparation is pretty much
done. Next issue “Getting it started of right.”
!Humble Beginnings :s o |BcM I om rurr:rg :|o: uos or:g:ro||y
orrourccá orourá Dcccmocr 20
:|
. 2002. orá I |oá p|orrcá :o |:c| :: oµ
]oruory 1S. 2003. l:s scr:cs oj or::c|cs u:|| oc ooou: :|c progrcss:or.
c|o||crgcs. orá :áco’s gcrcro:cá oy :|c rurr:rg oj o |BcM compo:gr.
Ary ::ps. :r:c|s. or orccáo:cs :|o: o:|cr |BcM p|oycrs orá DM’s |ovc
cor oc cmo:|cá :o mc (||gm@s:orjror::crs.org). orá :|cy vcry uc|| cou|á
|rá :|c:r uoy :r:o o ju:urc or::c|c.¡
Sizing Up the Target
Irom S:orc :o S:cc|
is a “d20 system guide to
arms and armor from the
stone age to the Renais-
sance.” Written by Aaron
Stinson, Irom S:orc :o S:cc|
is the frst sourcebook to
be produced by Monkey-
God Enterprises and it is
a whopper! Not only is
the book hardcover, but
it’s 352 pages in length
and carries a retail price of
$39.95.
First Blood
Irom S:orc :o S:cc| bills itself as a book that is about more
than just weapons and armor, it’s about culture and history.
Chapters are broken down into the various time periods:
“Sticks and Stones”, “Chariots of Bronze”, “Iron and Empire”,
“Rome”, “e Far East”, “A Dark Age, A Golden Age”, “Pagentry,
Platemail, and Pistols”, and “Myth and Magic”.
“Sticks and Stones” examines prehistoric and primitive
cultures. Typical weapons are crude ad constructed of stone,
bone or wood. Rules regarding war, infection, frst aid and am-
putations are presented. Native American and Meso American
armor is discussed as well as the Eagle Knight prestige class.
is class captures the Aztec warrior feel very well. e Jaguar
Knight, likewise, has an Aztec feel. Both are high-powered
classes.
“Chariots of Bronze” moves from the Neolithic Stone Age
to the Bronze Age. is is the age where the phalanx came into
prominence. Chariots and chariot combat are covered fairly
extensively. e Charioteer prestige class is introduced, as are
six new feats. Discussion of Sumerian, Egyptian, Chinese,
Incan, Minoan, Mycenaen, and Celtic cultures are covered in
this chapter.
“Iron and Empire” moves into the Iron Age. Assyria,
Scythia, Greece, Persia, Macedonia, and sub-Sahara Africa are
all regions discussed in the chapter. e section on the Greek
culture is fairly extensive and covers the Greek-Persian wars.
Although there is not much new rules material in this chapter,
but there are plenty of new weapons, armors and shields.
“Rome” gets a chapter all to itself. Whole books have been
written on Rome so you can imagine how hard it might be
to cover it in just one chapter. e book does a good job with
this task. It starts of with the Roman monarchy and Rome’s
beginnings. e development of chain mail by the Gauls, the
FROM STONE TO STEEL:
A REVIEW
Written by Steve Creech
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legendary general Hannibal, Spartacus, Julius Caesar, the Ro-
man Legionnaire and German Combined Cavalryman prestige
classes, Rome as an empire, gladiators and the fall of Rome
represent a mere fraction of the information presented in this
chapter. Quite thorough if you ask me.
“e Far East” tackles the mystical Orient. Ancient China
and the Zhou rulership are up frst and give us the combat
maneuver of sword breaking. India and Buddhism follow with
concepts such as elephant barding. e exotic martial weapons
you would expect in eastern culture are here and then some.
You also read about the Wudan and Tang periods. is is a
very comprehensive chapter flled with considerable amounts
of information coupled with game mechanics that are solid and
original.
“A Dark Age, A Golden Age” delves into some historic hot
potatoes. e fall of Rome at the hands of barbarians, the rise
of Christianity and Islam, the British Isles, Arthur, Feudal Eu-
rope, the Vikings, and the Crusades are all topics that are cov-
ered. Much of the weaponry that traditional fantasy gamers are
accustomed to are derived from this chapter and time period.
“Pagentry, Platemail and Pistols” looks at the start of the
15
th
century and the whole Angles, Saxons and Normans
turmoil in England. But England wasn’t the only country
embroiled in war at the time. France, Germany, Byzantium,
and other countries all had their share of civil disorder and
conficts. Several key developments in armor and weapons
occurred in this time period, including compound bows and
crossbows. Primitive frearms also made their appearance at
this time. is chapter does an excellent job covering the vari-
ous weapons and armors of the period. GMs will likely get the
most use from this chapter out of all of them.
“Myth and Magic” is all game mechanics and consists of
new magical armor and weapon abilities/qualities. ere are
divine properties (directly imbued with the power of a god)
such as death, plague, pestilence, famine, inner refection, mis-
siles without limit, unerring, and weightless properties include
aura, banishing, blurred, corrosion, darkness-bearing, fnding,
heart seeking, impervious, light-bearing, and several others.
ere are also specifc magic items that come from a specifed
region, such as the Meso American A:|ouo’s A:|o:|. ese will
enrich any campaign because of the legendary status and pow-
ers. Lastly, you fnd a brief section on historical racial items and
one on new spells.
e fnal chapter in this book is devoted to “Materials”. e
optional rule of durability in a weapon or armor is covered as
is the variant rule of using a strike table to more realistically
refect melee combat. Likewise, the material composition of a
weapon will have its own unique properties that afect its du-
rability and longevity. For example, metal retains heat, is highly
corrosive and dents, cracks, warps or splits when damaged.
Critical Hits
is is, without a doubt, the ingle most comprehensive
work on weapons and armor for the d20 system, period. Not
only is it based in actual historical foundation, but the game
mechanics are reasonably right for the objects included. e
open content is considerable, essentially the entire text of the
book. is makes it an essential resource for game designers.
Critical Misses
Honestly, there is very little that I can be critical about.
As mentioned earlier, the new divine weapon qualities are
overpowered and really are more along the lines of being major
artifacts. Diehard historical enthusiasts may disagree with the
d20 statistics, especially the damage component and range as-
sessments. But to be honest, that is akin to splitting hairs. It’s
pretty much irrelevant.
Coup de Grace
Irom S:orc :o S:cc| is an outstanding piece of work, plain
and simple. GMs who want a more historic feel or are looking
for a particular cultural weapon or armor with really beneft
from this book. I cannot recommend this book enough! It truly
belongs on every gamer’s shelf because of its depth and quality
of work. Hopefully all of MonkeyGod’s supplements will be
this good…
Te Critic’s Rating (Maximum 5 pts. per category):
-Amount of Open Content: 4.5
-d20 Compliance: 5.0
-Originality: 5.0
-Playability: 5.0
-Value for tbe Dollar: 5.0
Overall Rating: 4.90
Final Grade: A+
Available from FRP Games for $31.95 (a savings of
$8.00)!!
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GRIMOIRE ARCANA: TEMPLE MONK
Written by Timothy Crumrine
Edited by Andrew Garbade
Scc::or 1S: Grimoire Arcana: lcmp|c Mor| Copyr:g|: 2003. l:mo:|y Crumr:rc
T
arra jumped aside as a rider on horseback splashed cold mud on
her cloak. e morning’s chill frosted her breath as she and her
companion, Akane, made their way into the city. e two-day trip
had been uneventful for which Tarra was secretly glad. On the dawn
of the third day, the two women had reached the gates of the near-
est city, Lashan. Tarra looked in wonder at the buildings and people,
so many more than her small home, and at the cobbled street she
now walked on. A yell from behind her with the sudden pull of her
arm brought her to the wall of a building as a horse and cart wildly
careened past.
“Tarra!” Akane hissed in a low tone. “You’ve got to pay attention
in a city!” e warrior’s face was mostly concealed under her hood,
but Tarra still saw the green fash of her eyes as they darted from side
to side. “Keep to the walls and don’t draw attention to us,” she advised.
“Stay near me for the time being.” With that she started forward
down the street, moving with a determined purpose.
In the past few days, Akane had been a source of dry humor and
wit around the campfre and a pleasant companion, but Tarra still
had no knowledge of what they were doing here save that they were
to meet someone. She had hoped that wherever they were going it
would be warmer.
“Damn!” Akane’s form slowed a bit until Tarra caught up with
her. “Don’t look around,” she whispered without turning her head.
“e guards at the gate are watching us now because of your scene.”
e two continued down the way, winding through the streets to a
large marketplace in the center of the city. ere Akane unslung a
bundle from under her cloak and set down a collection of frewood.
“Here, set yours down too,” she said and Tarra gratefully complied.
A mufed sound of metal striking wood sounded as the bundles
hit the ground; hidden inside were the womens’ swords, a precaution
Akane had insisted upon. Frosted breath pufed from under Akane’s
hood as she untied the bundles. Tarra lost sight of what she was doing
for a moment as she stooped over them, and then Akane was upright
and calling out. “Wood! Hard wood for your fres!” Her voice mingled
with the others of the market in the morning. “You too, Tarra,” she
whispered as she continued her pitch. e two of them called out for
several minutes, as the market grew more crowded. Finally Akane
stopped and sat down. “Okay they’re gone,” she muttered as she sat
down. She looked up at the younger woman, “at’s how you get rid
of attention, Tarra; act like your purpose is the same as anyone else.
Now we sell our wood and wait.” As the morning went on and the sun
began to warm the city the market began to grow even more crowded.
Eventually Akane had sold their collection of wood to a servant for a
few silver coins and stood up.
“Akane?” Tarra asked as they began winding their way through
the crowds, “Where are our swords?” e shorter woman gave a snort.
“ey’re safe, Tarra,” she said drawing aside her cloak just long enough
for Tarra to see a sturdy pouch at her belt. “It’s enchanted to hold a
lot more than it appears. Don’t worry; I can get to them if we need…
Hey!”
e small woman’s hand shot out and grabbed the arm of a
passing boy. Tight in his grasp was the small purse of coins they had
recently received for the wood they had sold. A quick yank to the
side disoriented him enough to retrieve the pouch from his hand and
bring him into a side alley. “Fast fngers, kid,” Akane chuckled grimly,
his arm still held fast in her grip. e boy looked at her nervously,
obviously afraid at being caught. Akane tucked the pouch back into
her belt and used the newly freed hand to gently pull back one eyelid.
“Not cloudy,” she commented softly to no one in particular. “It wasn’t
for drugs or drink was it?” she said sharply. e boy shook his head
quickly. Akane looked up and down at his skinny form for a moment,
as a loud rumbling sounded out from his stomach. “Food then,” she
said with a laugh, “You’re hungry.” He nodded and mumbled some-
thing softly. “Your sister too?” Akane paused for a moment, her eyes
seeming to stare into the boy’s form. en she withdrew the pouch
from her belt and placed it into his hand again. She removed her hand
from his wrist while gently curling his fngers around the pouch. “For
food!” she emphasized as she locked his eyes in a stare, “and a blanket
for you both, but nothing else, right?” e boy nodded, wary of the
woman’s quick hands, and darted into the trafc again. Akane gave a
heavy sigh and shook her head. “Hope it helps, kid.” She turned away
and set of down the street, her eyes hard as the gems they resembled.
Tarra hurried to catch up to her and heard her muttering under her
breath. She couldn’t make out much but it seemed to include refer-
ences to children and how adults never saw to their needs.
“Akane!” Tarra gasped, “Stop for a moment, please!” e woman
slowed and allowed her to catch up to her. “Please, where are we go-
ing?” Akane sighed softly and looked at Tarra.
“I’m sorry, Sister,” she said, “I have been pulling you here and
there today, haven’t I?” She gave a little smile as she apologized. “I’m
not used to having a partner when I try to fnd him so I normally end
up covering the streets as quickly as possible.” e petite woman drew
Tarra against the wall of the building, away from the passing trafc.
“We are here to fnd and warn a friend of mine. A former student of
his searches for him constantly and when I hear that she is getting
close, I try to visit and give him a warning.” She reached under her
cloak and withdrew a small travel frame of tarnished silver.
Within was the painted image of a dark-eyed man with a short
ponytail of graying hair. “is is him, his name is Hyslan.” She re-
turned the picture to her pouch as she continued. “He normally keeps
a low profle to avoid notice, so fnding him can be a pain sometimes.
One thing’s for sure though, he likes to help.” She pointed at the
temple spire in the near distance of the city. “You go to the temple and
see if he’s around there. I’ll check with the street dwellers and see if
anyone knows about him and meet you in the temple.”
With that she wound her way into the crowd and left Tarra
alone. Tarra moved into the trafc and came in time to a building of
white stone, slightly grayer now from the tests of time. At the top
was the spire that had been her beacon on this search. She paused a
moment to take a steadying breath and went inside. e noise of the
city was almost nonexistent within these stone walls, echoing instead
hushed voices in prayer. A man in simple white robes smiled at her
entrance and excused himself from the couple he was with.
“Health to you, my child,” he said warmly as he approached,
giving a slight bow of his head. “Is there anything that this humble
servant may assist with?” Tarra hesitated before replying, unsure of
how to phrase her mission.
“I’m looking for someone,” she fnally stated drawing a happy
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nod from the priest.
“We are all looking for someone, my child,” he said matter-of-
factly, “I’m glad your search brought you here. I’m sure you will fnd
an end to searching with us.” She shook her head quickly.
“No, no,” she stammered hastily, “I’m not looking for guidance
from your God, I’m really looking for someone.” She hoped that
she hadn’t ofended him, and was surprised at his refrained, but still
genuine laugh.
“I am sorry, my child,” he apologized, “I meant just what I said.”
Seeing her puzzled look he explained. “You are from a village or town-
ship aren’t you, child?” With her confrming nod he continued. “Many
in the cities end up at our temples’ doors when they have nowhere
else to turn. erefore I can only hope your search will end here. But
please,” he extended a hand to a nearby bench. “Sit down and tell me
of your friend.” Tarra removed her cloak and sat down laying it across
her lap. “Strange attire for fnding a friend.” e priest commented
his voice suddenly devoid of the warmth it had earlier. Tarra looked
down at her armor and dagger and fushed.
“He’s not really a friend, more of a friend of a friend really.” She
said, self-consciously bringing one arm across the other.
“I see,” he replied again in a formal cold manner. Tarra felt then
that whatever window of opportunity she had possessed was now lost
but tried one fnal time.
“His name is Hyslan,” she said, “He’s got gray hair and a really
memorable face?” e priest looked at her for a moment and then
stood.
“I’m afraid that I have no recollection of such a man ever coming
here, my child. Now I must ask you to leave, we are not in the habit of
entertaining bounty hunters in our sanctuaries.” Tarra looked startled
at that and stood up in shock, knocking her cloak to the foor.
“I’m not a…” she began to protest but was cut of by the priest’s
gaze.
“Please leave now or I will have the city guard escort you out,
miss.” He said stify. Tarra sighed in futility and bent to gather her
cloak. She wondered briefy if Akane had had any better luck. As she
retrieved her cloak from the ground the pendant Iljrene had given her
slipped out from under her armor to hang loose for a moment until
she absently tucked it back in place. Turning to go, she was halted by
the strong hand of the priest on her shoulder.
“Wait, my child.” He said earnestly. “Might I see that symbol
you are wearing?” Confused by yet another abrupt shift in the priest’s
manner she fshed out the pendant once more. He gently lifted it to
the light and looked intently at it. He looked at Tarra with a smile
once more on his face. “I’m afraid I must beg your forgiveness, my
child, I did not know.” He released the pendant and beckoned her.
“Please come this way.” Confused again, Tarra followed the priest
through a door into the back rooms of the temple. He led her through
the rooms and out into the grounds behind the temple. “Come,” he
said as he wound his way through immaculately tended plants and
shrubbery.
Under the boughs of a large weeping willow tree Tarra could see
a kneeling form. “Gardener!” the priest called out, causing the fgure
to look over one shoulder. He scrabbled out into the light and stood
up. e priest then spoke in a much lower voice. “Hyslan, a Sister
has come.” He bowed to Tarra and to Hyslan then withdrew quietly
leaving them alone. e man before her stood only a few inches taller
than she, and wore a mud-encrusted smock. Still his manner and face
were controlled and disciplined.
“Greetings, Sister,” Hyslan said his voice soft but frm in strength.
“I think I already know why you came to fnd me.” He sighed heavily
and looked at her, “Serpent has found me again, correct?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know, sir,” Tarra said to the man. “I came here
with a woman named Akane to fnd you. I actually have only been in
the Sisterhood for a day now.” Hyslan’s eyes widened at the mention
of Akane’s name.
“Akane here?!” he said turning away and heading for a small hut
against the wall. “en we have no time to spare!” Pushing open the
door of the small building, he began a quick but efcient gathering
of items into a travel pack. Removing the brown smock he had been
wearing to reveal a sleeveless black leather bodysuit, Hyslan stretched
up and retrieved a long bundle wrapped in burlap sacking. Finally,
from a chest at the foot of the cot, he withdrew a silk robe dyed a
vivid crimson red and placed it also within the pack, slinging it onto
his back. With a quick look at the walls of the hut he gave a nod and a
resigned sigh. “Come,” was all he uttered as he passed her.
Returning back through the rooms of the temple the duo arrived
at the main chapel. e priest Tarra had spoken to earlier saw them
and hurried over. “I see your time with us is past, Hyslan,” he said
regretfully, taking in the traveling gear the man wore. “Blessings upon
your paths then.” He bowed solemnly to the pair. Hyslan opened his
mouth to reply when a commotion across the way distracted him.
Running full speed down the aisle came Akane, cloak fapping in the
wind to reveal her armor underneath.
“Tarra! Hyslan!” she called. “She’s here in the city! She’s coming!”
Hyslan swore under his breath and turned again to the priest.
“I’m sorry for this after all you have done for me here...” he began
in sincere tones, but the priest interrupted and waved away his apol-
ogy.
“You and those of your spirit are welcome always, Hyslan, be
they woman, man, soldier, or monk. We all are striving forward
against the host of evil.” e priest gave a grim smile so unlike the
one he had given to Tarra only minutes before. “Let them come.” He
turned toward the other priests who had gathered at the commotion.
“Brethren,” he said in a commanding voice, “we must make haste to
bring safety to our followers. Escort them out through the side doors
and return.” e priests responded quickly, helping those who were
praying within to their feet and with quiet dignity led them out.
Akane removed her cloak and withdrew both sheathed swords from
the pouch at her side. Tossing Ar’Qu:ss: to Tarra she drew her own,
an exotic single edged blade tinted rose pink, and kissed the blade.
“Take no life, Tarra,” Akane urged, looking at the girl. “Defend
yourself, the priests and us, but do not kill unless they cause it. We are
not murderers.” Her gaze fickered briefy to the doors of the temple.
“We are not her,” she added with venom.
“Enough, Akane,” Hyslan said. “Pride was her weakness, not a
desire to spill blood.” He was busy unwinding the burlap from round
the bundle he was carrying as he spoke. When the last of the cloth
fell from his hands he held a weapon of deadly appearance, a battle
staf mounted with a razor sharp blade on each end. Stepping away
from them he began to perform a limbering exercise with the weapon,
slowly at frst, but increasing in tempo until he was a blur of mo-
tion. Tarra had never seen such control in a battle dance before; even
Crow had never been this precise. When Hyslan stopped, staf in a
defensive set in one arm, he was balancing on one foot with the other
curled upward as if prepared for a swift kick. e frst two fngers of
his free hand were held upright in front of his face, and his eyes were
shut in meditation. Tarra drew Ar’Qu:ss: and heard a soft hum from
the blade as if it knew battle was near. e sounds of a low chant
came to her ears as well, and she turned to see the priests had begun
a solemn hymn of praise to their god and were deep in meditation as
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well. Hyslan relaxed into a more normal position and looked at them
both, echoing the words of the priest, “Let them come.”
e doors opened almost as if from the invitation and in strode
six fgures. Four of them bore the heavy muscles and appearance
normally gained from manual labor bearing axes and clubs. “Gutter
muscle,” Tarra heard Akane spit in disgust as they came in. e ffth
man of the group wore a well-tailored tunic and trousers with expen-
sive looking boots and bracers. In his hand was a magnifcently craft-
ed longsword. e last was still cloaked until she fully entered the
temple. Drawing back her hood, she revealed a pale white complexion
and mostly shaved head. Only a single thick lock of raven black hair
grew from the back of her head bound in golden wire mesh. Her face
was angular and harshly cruel, well-suited to disdain for her fellows.
“Teacher,” she purred in a hypnotically dark voice, “I’ve found
you again, I’m so pleased.” She removed her cloak fully now to reveal
a toned body of equally white skin clad in a scandalously tight halter
and bottom of black leather. Spiraling around her left leg was the only
vibrant color Tarra could see on her form. A wingless dragon of blue
and red with an impossibly long body and a skull head was tattooed
into her fesh.
e woman’s eyes fell on Akane. “I see you still have your little
pet. You should keep better track of the mongrel’s whereabouts or
someday you’ll lose her,” she said coldly before looking at Tarra.
“And who is this, Teacher, another dalliance?” she laughed mockingly.
“Or perhaps it’s another of those street urchins you clean up so you
don’t feel so bad about all those deaths on your hands. Is that it?” she
smiled sweetly at Hyslan.
Tarra heard a low growl from beside her and looked at Akane
in surprise. e woman’s features had become much more feral like a
hunting dog or fox, and Tarra could see her teeth now more resem-
bled fangs. “Down, cur!” Serpent said sharply, “or I will put you down
like the animal you are!” Akane’s sword danced fgure eights in front
of her as her eyes shined.
“I’d like to see you try and fail,” Akane said grimly eager in her
speech.
“Enough!” Serpent shouted, angrily tossing her cloak behind her.
Before it hit the ground she rushed forward to attack, the others of
her group following a heartbeat later. e well-clothed man brought
his sword down in a simple overhead chop at Tarra’s head. Trained
to counter the quick blows of Crow’s fashing blades, she easily par-
ried with Ar’Qu:ss:. Honey colored eyes grew cunning as he began
to throw various attacks at her. Tarra countered each in turn, as they
became more complex. Suddenly he spun around and delivered a
quick unexpected backhand swipe at her exposed head. She reversed
her grip with her left hand and let go of the hilt with her right. Up
came her sword’s pommel toward his surprised face as his blow slid
up and was locked in the crossguard. e man staggered back spitting
fragments of teeth. With a furious look he disengaged his blade as
he gestured with his other hand. A stream of smoke issued from his
fngers to coil around her form like a striking snake. Tarra felt the frst
signs of discomfort as it began to constrict around her and a blood
smeared grin appeared on her opponent’s face. e grin vanished as
she felt her armor warm briefy and the coils burned away like the
smoke they were. Tarra felt a small lump of fear in her throat as he
again engaged her in swordplay. is was no practice; his face showed
that he wanted her life.
To most people, the swordsman would have been a threat,
perhaps even a great one, but after training with Crow for the past
three years, he seemed to Tarra as far too predictable. Occasionally
she would feel her armor ward of another magical attack as his face
became more and more a mask of frustration. As Ar’Qu:ss: caught
his sword’s strike yet again she twisted her blade and used his own
momentum to drive it toward the ground. Once more defenseless, he
was unprepared for her steel wrapped arm as she backhanded his face
knocking him to the ground.
“Our contract is void!” he yelled at Serpent through a swollen
jaw. “You never said they would have defenses such as this!” Serpent
broke away from her fght with Hyslan, cobras of dark energy crack-
ling around her hands, and spat at him.
“Coward!” she hissed. “You are beaten by children and animals,
Battlemage. If you want out of this contract then here is your pay-
ment!” With rage flled eyes she spun and lashed out with a kick from
her tattooed leg. “Dragon Talon!” she screamed as an arc of force
blazed out from her leg toward the mage. His eyes grew frantic as he
fumbled for a ring at his fnger, disappearing a moment before the
wave hit the marble bench behind him shattering it into rubble. Ser-
pent paid for that momentary act as a hard kick to her ribs sent her
fying. Hyslan, sweating and bruised but still ready to battle looked at
Tarra and grinned humorlessly.
“is is my fght, Sister,” he said watching Serpent arise again.
“Help Akane.” Tarra looked behind her at the four men who were
fghting Akane. She thought it was her at least. e woman Tarra had
traveled with the last few days had changed drastically. Her face now
looked like a fox complete with muzzle and ears and out of her back
were not one but fve magnifcent fox tails. Her blade fashed back and
forth against the weapons of the thugs, easily disarming one of them.
She gave a little ground and the others closed in on her only to see her
grin and then there was four of her going in separate directions.
In the confusion two of the thugs tripped over each other
chasing who they believed was the real one and the last was kicked
onto the pile by the real Akane from behind. e fnal thug had
recovered his club by this time and was approaching the fox woman
from behind. Tarra saw her ears twitch in his direction and then she
spun at him. Up came her blade with both hands in a rapid six-blow
attack. e blade trailed light behind as it struck leaving the stylized
image of a pink fower in the air for a brief moment before the thug’s
weapon literally fell to pieces in his hands. He yelped and dropped
the remaining part of his weapon, running for the nearest door and
safety. In his haste he only succeeded in tripping over himself, falling
to the foor and knocking himself unconscious. Behind Akane one of
the other thugs groaned and stirred. She placed her foot on his back
and shoved him down again drawing pained gasps from the others
beneath him.
“I advise you to stay down,” she said, sliding the fat of her blade
along his throat. Akane turned her vixen face to Tarra and winked.
With a nod of her head she drew Tarra’s attention to the fght behind
her. e terrain was broken, shattered by the forces unleashed in
their struggle. Hyslan faced Serpent weapon in hand. His body was
bruised and his breath labored, however Serpent’s body bore numer-
ous cuts that bled vividly on her pale skin and she favored her right
side. Both would not break eye contact as they stood waiting for
some small signal to press the attack. Around her forearms and hands
Serpent had tattoos matching the black cobras Tarra had seen earlier.
e snakes looked as battered and tired as their owner and it was
clear that Serpent could not continue for much longer.
“Give up, Jarlana,” Hyslan said as he watched Serpent, “You can-
not win this fght and your friends are beaten. ere is no victory here
for you today.” Bitter anger wrote itself across her face as he spoke.
“I am not the foolish girl you drove out, Teacher!” She spat,
wheezing hard as she spoke. “Jarlana is dead and buried!” She drew
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herself up with rigid control and assumed a battle stance. “I am Ser-
pent now, and nothing can block my path to destiny, not even you!”
“So be it, Serpent.” Hyslan sadly acknowledged, regret clearly
visible in his proud face. He raised his staf in salute and for just a
moment there was a ficker of a real smile on Serpent’s lips. A shad-
owy reminder of whomever this Jarlana once was. Yellow energy, like
lightning, gathered down Hyslan’s arm as a tattoo of a yellow dragon
coiled around a storm cloud blazed into view on his shoulder. His
voice rang out in the temple as he drew back his fst. “Raging Storm!”
he yelled and Serpent’s face froze in fear as she attempted to counter.
It was clear that this would be her fnish as a blast of lightning came
arcing out of his strike. en a new voice rang out in the temple.
“Death Dragon Typhoon!” It called as a hammering wind blew
all four of them to the foor and dissipated Hyslan’s attack. Like a
shadow, a fgure appeared next to Serpent’s side. “Now is not the time
for your victory, Serpent,” it said in a soft hiss, “but your time will
come.” Serpent’s eyes registered recognition and she bowed her head,
though whether in respect or fear it was hard to tell.
“I am sorry, Master, I have failed,” she whispered hoarsely. A
black silk wrapped hand drew her up to stand beside it.
“When the student is beaten by a master it is not failure, it
is a lesson.” e fgure said. “Now go! Take your leave while I deal
with our friends.” A vortex of shadow appeared next to the pair and
Serpent hobbled through. e shadowed fgure looked at the others
as they regained their footing. “e girl is still a weak fool!” it hissed
looking at Hyslan. “And you nurtured that weakness! Your kind’s
teaching of harmony and patience almost destroyed my chance for a
successor, and the greatest of our order. With the power she possesses
she can make her own order to this world! Were it not for her need to
destroy you I would snuf your lives now! But instead I leave you with
this!” e fgure swiftly knelt down and thrust a fst at the ground,
splitting a fssure in the stone and then vanished into the fading por-
tal. From the ground thrust massive skeletal arms, which attempted
to pull the body from the earth. A fash of arcane force shattered the
form and closed the rift before it could succeed however. e priests,
forgotten by Tarra until now fnally ended their chanting.
As the last note echoed into silence, armed guards poured
through the opened doors of the temple. Out of obvious respect for
the sanctity of the temple their weapons were sheathed, but every
hand remained alertly on its hilt as they spread out. e leader of the
group approached the trio and the priests. Looking at the carnage of
the chapel and the pile of men Akane still had her foot on, he spoke
to the head priest. “Health to you, your Reverence,” he began. “We had
reports of a disturbance here.” He gestured at Tarra and the others
“Are these the cause of this desecration?” Tarra saw Akane, now look-
ing human again, stifen and open her mouth to reply but the priest
spoke frst.
“No, my child,” he said, “ose who lay at your feet are to
blame, these brave souls came to the fght against them as an escaped
member summoned darkness within our halls.” e priest laid a hand
on Hyslan’s shoulder. “We are thankful for your help, strangers, and
would tend to your wounds in gratitude.” e leader of the guards
looked at Hyslan in suspicion.
“ese two I know,” he said gesturing at Tarra and Akane. “ey
entered the city this morning and tried to remain undetected.” He
then turned to the monk. “But you I’ve never heard a word about.”
He looked pointedly into Hyslan’s eyes. “And I make it my business
to know when adventurers enter my town.” e priest waved of the
captain soothingly.
“He is a friend of the temple, my child.” He said to him. “Now
please, could you not let these fne people rest?” e captain looked
torn for a moment, and then nodded in deference.
“Your Reverence.” He said, bowing to the priest. He gestured to
his men as they fnished shackling the quartet of thugs from the foor
and together they left. Hyslan nodded his thanks to the priest and sat
down on a shattered half of one of the benches.
“We should leave here, Hyslan.” Akane said as she sheathed her
blade and slung it across her back. He nodded, too weary for words
at the moment, and after taking a breath stood up again. Leaving
the city was easier than their entrance. Without the need for secrecy
the trio walked through the main gates under the eyes of the guards
and onto the road beyond. By the time the sun had started to set in
the sky they were far from Lashan and setting camp near within the
woods near the road. Tarra returned from a nearby stream with a
cauldron of water, which she sat next to Akane. e young woman
was squatting, stick in hand, staring into the fre she had prepared.
Since making camp, Akane had not spoken a word to her except to
ask for the water. After a moment’s pause Tarra started to turn from
her to walk away.
“You did extremely well today for your frst real battle,” Akane
said suddenly, causing Tarra to stop and look at her again. Akane
hadn’t moved or even looked at her; the woman’s eyes were still in
the fames. “And you also reacted better then most when they see my
true appearance.” She looked up at Tarra then, her green eyes shining
bright in the frelight. “ank you.”
Tarra sat down next to her; hesitant to say anything but Akane
seemed to sense her desire and gave a slight smile. “You want to know
what I am but don’t want to ofend me.” Tarra nodded and seemed
a little ashamed. “It’s okay, Tarra, I’m used to it. I’m not ofended at
all.” She idly poked the stick into the fre, stirring up the coals. “I’m
not evil; I’m a Kitsune, a spirit of nature that happens to resemble a
fox. I’m not a werefox, a demon, an escaped magical play toy for some
mage, or any of the other things people have come up with over the
years.” She grinned in the darkness. “And you would not believe some
of the things I’ve heard. Before you ask, I don’t shapeshift so I don’t
know what it feels like. I’m always what you saw me like earlier. My
kind are skilled illusionists, some say the best there are, and it takes
little of our concentration to maintain the appearance of human.
Unfortunately, when I’m in a fght, I focus on staying alive, and the
illusion is dispelled. e number of tails we possess ranks the power
of our illusions, one tail for each sense that we can afect. I have fve so
I can create an illusion that can fool all fve of the natural senses. My
mother had seven; the most we can possess, and could afect arcane
and divine sense as well. My sister only has two and can only afect
taste and smell. She’s a fantastic cook, but can’t hide her appearance.”
She looked at Tarra again and lifted an eyebrow. “Anything else you
want to know?”
“Why do you hate Serpent so much?” Tarra said quietly. Akane
stifened at the question then sighed. “I have reasons,” she said lifting
the cauldron to hang over the fre.
“First, I’m a Gaki hunter, an order similar to a holy knight that
maintains the balance in the world. She is about as discordant to my
purpose as one can get. Second, she hates me and hate breeds hate in
return. Try as we might to stop it, it still happens. Lastly… well it’s
not something I talk about much, maybe someday I’ll tell you but for
now, let’s just say she earned every shred of it.”
Akane tossed the stick into the fre and stood. “How is Hyslan
doing?” She said abruptly changing the topic as she began to slice
vegetables for the stew. Tarra looked at the still form of the monk on
the other side of the campsite.
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“He’s still asleep,” she said taking Akane’s cue. “He seemed ex-
tremely tired after the fght. Why is that?” Akane stopped her actions,
potato in one hand, dagger in the other.
“Because he fghts with his life-force, Tarra.” She said as she
resumed her preparations. “Every one of those attacks you saw that
looked like magic to you drained a little more of his chi energy. Not
permanently,” she clarifed after looking at Tarra’s face. “It can be
recovered by food and sleep, but the battle with Serpent drained them
both. You can bet Serpent is just as exhausted, if not more so, right
now.” She looked at Tarra again and smiled. “Sit down, the stew will
take awhile to cook and in the meantime, I’ll tell you all I know about
the Haudragon fghting style monks like Hyslan practice.” She gave a
brief chuckle. “at I will talk about.”
Temple Monk (TM) Prestige Class
T
he Shaolin Monks, Street Fighter and Mortal Combat video
games, the Kung Fu television series -- all around our culture
we can fnd examples of a martial artist warrior who trains his or
her mind and body on a path to spiritual harmony and balance. is
concept, has entered into the imaginations of more than a few writers
and screenplays. In the 3
rd
Edition rules there is a Monk class that
allows the player to touch upon the scenes we see in the popular mov-
ies and games; but this class is only a beginning onto this path. e
Monk is designed for an adventurer, a person who has no home but
the road and who has little choice in this life than to learn the ways of
other classes to survive in this harsh world. A dedication to survival
yes, but not one for the harder paths. ose who embrace the path
of self-discipline and give themselves fully to the study of a chosen
path learn so many more secrets of their bodies and their chi. e
Temple Monk prestige class is difcult to qualify for to help make it
scarce and to also show the dedication it would require. ere are as
many variants of fghting styles within martial arts, as there are stars
in the sky and so I have constructed a fghting style that I will use for
a template. is style I have chosen to call the Haudragon style. e
requirements listed for the prestige class are the same for any other
styles you may make in the future, but the abilities listed are unique
for this particular style.
It should also be noted that the appearance of a Temple Monk
would vary greatly for diferent styles. Some may wear long robes
similar to Chinese martial art movies; others may only wear a pair of
loose ftting pants and go barechested. Some monks will shave their
heads as a sign of humility and a symbol of leaving their former lives
while others do so because in a humid climate it’s the best way to pre-
vent lice. Some scorn weapons and only use their natural weaponry;
others feel the union of a warrior and his weapon is the ultimate goal.
In a magical world, you can even go further to say that some styles
prefer visible tattoos while others have tattoos that only appear briefy
when called upon or forbid them entirely as a desecration of the body.
As in all things, there is a vast variety in appearance between students
of diferent styles, but students of the same style are just as unique. A
discipline of balance never rules out the individual of the practitioner.
e various styles are normally associated with a specifc temple
or school. e instructors are revered to by a title of respect such as
Sensei, Teacher, Master, or by a particular grand title such as Lord of
the Dragon Winds. How they refer to their pupils is a case-by-case
basis. Some do refer to them as ‘My child, son, or daughter.’ Others
make them earn their own name by deed; calling them student or
belittling names like ‘Grasshopper’ or ‘Sparrow.’ Most simply call them
by their given name however, leaving the name-calling to happen in
the dormitories. Most students refer to their style under the temple’s
name. For example, the ‘Haudragon temple style’ or just the ‘Haudrag-
on style.’ A few styles, mostly ones with few practitioners, use the
word clan instead of style, like ‘Golden Panther Clan.’
To learn a style, the character must begin as a student at the frst
level of the prestige class. Advancement is then done in a normal fash-
ion as any other prestige class. If the character for some reason stops
his advancement in the style and begins to learn another style then
they must begin again at the frst level as the new style is like a com-
pletely diferent prestige class. In the unlikely event that the character
ever wishes to continue down the path of a previous style then they
must begin again at frst level and progress as normal. is refects the
time taken to relearn the old style and the spiritual purifcation they
have performed to begin to walk down this particular path. As the
path of a Temple Monk is a path of self-enlightenment, the abilities of
previous styles are still usable, though some arts are not well received
by other instructors when used during lessons.
A typical student begins study within the school of choice
around the age of 10. e student’s life is under a strict schedule at all
times. A common schedule could be as follows.
Morning
6:00 for morning meditation.
7:30 small meal taken with the rest of the students in a dining hall.
8:00 classes begin consisting of art in many forms, philosophy, and
general knowledge.
12:00 a second small meal is taken in the dining hall
Afternoon
12:30 a brief time is granted to the student to use as they see ft
1:00 temple chores begin based on age of students; older students
perform the more labor-intensive tasks
4:00 an hour is granted to bathe, rest, and meditate
5:00 students assemble at the training hall for instruction in the
martial style of the temple by their teachers
Evening
8:00 fnal meal is taken in the dining hall.
8:30 another chance to bathe and rest
9:00 students may use this time as they wish
10:00 retire for the evening to sleep
For the most part, a student remains at the temple until they
themselves decide to leave and return to their families or wherever
they choose to go, though there are a few cases where the student is
expelled from the temple for some major infraction of the rules. A
student who leaves the temple and wanders the world in a similar
manner to the 3
rd
Edition class still stands out with their abilities and
dress being slightly more famboyant than their counterparts.
Among the friendlier temples, there are sometimes competitions
between top students. ese are almost always part of a celebration
during some festival being held and are non-lethal, though injuries do
sometimes occur. ough the path of most styles is one of non-vio-
lence, the priests and teachers of the temples still follow a ritualized
form of hierarchy by combat. Any student or lower instructor may
choose to challenge an instructor for their position. e two individu-
als then go to the outdoor arena of the temple in full view of the rest
of the temple’s inhabitants and begin the duel. In these days it is more
a show to the younger students than anything else. Both the duel-
ists know who is the more qualifed before they even begin, and after
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mild displays of ability on both sides the battle is over and the loser
concedes to the victor. is practice hearkens back to a time when the
forces of the Imperial police sieged the temples and it was necessary to
have the strongest instructors in positions to protect the temples. An
ofshoot of this practice that is still in efect but practiced no longer is
the option of taking the life of the loser. is practice was only used
by the most brutal of styles during those times, but still perseveres as
an option, however unused, to this day.
Hit Dice: d8
REQUIREMENTS
To qualify to become a Temple Monk a character must fulfll the
following criteria.
Class Level: 1 level in Monk class
Skills: Balance: 7 Ranks, Concentration: 6 Ranks, Jump: 5
Ranks, and Tumble: 6 Ranks.
Feats: Alertness, Dodge, Lightning Refexes, and Toughness.
Base Attack Bonus: +5
CLASS SKILLS
e Temple Monk’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill)
are Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int),
Diplomacy (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str),
Knowledge, Arcana (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform
(Cha), Profession (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).
Skill Points at Each Level are 4 + Intelligence modifer.
CLASS FEATURES
e following are class features of the Temple Monk prestige
class.
Weapon and Armor Pronciency: A Temple Monk gains
profciency in any Exotic Weapons that are practiced by their style. A
Temple Monk is still restricted in Armor as per the Monk Class.
Monk Abilities: e levels of a Temple Monk are added to the
character’s Monk levels to determine the character’s unarmed combat
damage, AC adjustments and Speed.
Style Maneuvers: Depending on the style, there are special
maneuvers that a character may learn to perform over time. Some of
them will have prerequisites of their own and only one maneuver may
be mastered per Temple Monk level. Maneuvers take chi energy to
perform. A character’s chi energy total is determined by multiplying
the character’s Con statistic by their prestige class level. is number
tells how much energy they possess a day. Each maneuver costs a
specifed number of these points and the character may only replen-
ish these points with sleep and food. Activating a maneuver is a free
action.
Haudragon Style
e fghting style of the Haudragon contains several maneuvers that
are unique. Below is a listing of a few of the most common. is is
not a complete list to allow GMs to create their own maneuvers so
that the old Masters may surprise the youngsters from time to time.
Raging Storm
is is one of the frst maneuvers normally taught to students. e
character may project a burst of electrical energy from their hand
which has a range of 20 feet long and is 5 feet wide. It does 2d6 points
of damage and costs 1 unit of chi energy.
Claws of tbe Seven Winds
is maneuver imbues the character’s hands with chi energy allowing
them to strike and grab an opponent with iron hard fngers. ey do
an additional d4 points of damage and may grab hold of the oppo-
nent’s weapon without damaging themselves and attempt to disarm
them. is efect lasts for only one combat round and costs 2 units of
chi energy.
Spirit Dragon Flames
is maneuver is a more defensive than ofensive one. e character
summons a whirlwind of fame around themselves, damaging anyone
within melee range for 4d4 points of damage and stunning them for
one round. is maneuver requires that the character knows the Rag-
ing Storm maneuver before learning this one and costs 5 units of chi
energy.
Eartb Dragon Sundering
is maneuver causes a kinetic extension of the force of a character’s
blow to strike an opponent’s core and shatter their bones. e blow
does an additional d6 points of damage to the opponent and also
causes them to have a –2 penalty to hit for the duration of combat or
until magical healing is received. is maneuver costs 3 units of chi
energy.
Sbroud of tbe Cloud Dragon
is maneuver creates a distortion around the character similar to a
blur spell. is adds an additional +4 to the character’s AC lasting for
the duration of the round. is maneuver costs 2 units of chi energy.
Gbost Dragon Slasb
is maneuver cannot be performed without a bladed weapon of
some form and only learned by a character that knows Sbroud of
tbe Cloud Dragon. e character appears to be attacking from one
direction but their chi warps the motion and the cut actually occurs
in another location. is attack gains a +3 bonus to hit and costs 2
units of chi energy.

It is a common practice to have unique weapons or items for
various temples. ere are two items unique to the Haudragon style.
ese are listed below.
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ITEMS

Bladed Staff - Exotic Melee Weapon
Cost: 40 gp
Damage: 1d8 +Str. Bonus.
Critical: 19-20/ x2
Range Increment: N/A
Weigbt: 5lb.
Type: Slashing/Bludgeoning
Description: Among the practitioners of the Haudragon style
there is one weapon trained in that is unique to them. is weapon is
the bladed staf, a four-foot fghting staf of some form of hard wood
with a single edged metal blade mounted on each end. e weapon
conforms to the rules for double-sided weapons and if enchanted,
follows those requirements.
Leather Bodyvest - Light Armor
Cost: 25 gp
Armor Bonus: +2
Max Dex. Bonus: +8
Armor Cbeck Penalty: 0
Arcane Spell Failure: 5%
Speed: 30ft. 20ft.
Weigbt: 5 lb.
Description: is armor is a full sleeveless vest that has small
metal plates sewn within the layers. e vest only covers the torso
from waist to neck but fts so comfortably that there is no loss to
dexterity. It is easily concealed under robes or clothing and does not
hinder the wearer’s movement. A character that has the Monk’s ability
Fast Movement is not afected by this armor.
Akane leaned back against a boulder and sighed in contentment.
Beside her lay her bowl scraped clean of her third helping of stew. “I
think that next time out; I’m letting Tarra season all the meals.” Tarra
blushed around her spoon at this remark. Hyslan dipped another
chunk of hardtack biscuit into his bowl and blew on it to cool it
before taking a large bite. His color and health had returned to their
normal appearance after his rest and he was eating with voracious
appetite. “Seriously, Tarra,” Akane said, “where did you learn so much
about herbs?” Tarra put down her bowl and licked her lips before
replying.
“About three years ago my friend Arasaun came back from an
adventure covered in wounds, some of which were poisoned. He col-
lects books and told me there was one with information about herbs
that could help. Later, after he had recovered, I looked at some of the
other herb books he had and one of them happened to have a section
about cooking in it.”
“is Arasaun,” Akane asked as she shifted into a more comfort-
able position, “he’s the one that knows Iljrene right? e one you are
going to be traveling with?” Tarra nodded. e kitsune considered
this for a moment. “I’ve heard a lot about him from the trio. I’ve
always wanted to meet him.”
“e trio?” Tarra said puzzled. Akane gave a bark of laughter.
“Iljrene, Anna, and Onyx,” she clarifed. “We in the Sisterhood
call them that behind their backs. Why hello, little one!” is sudden
change in conversation was directed to Akane’s left. Beside her, just
coming into the ring of frelight, was a small chipmunk with bright
eyes. Reaching for one of the biscuits, she broke of a portion and
tossed it to him, “Here you go.” Tarra laughed at the sight of the chip-
munk stufng its cheeks with the food and scampering of as Akane
dusted her hands. “Little beggars,” she said good-naturedly.
“Akane?” Tarra asked. e warrior looked up at her. “What is
Iljrene like?” she stammered. “I mean she’s Drow right? So why is
she…?”
“Why is she the leader of a group of people who fght against
evil?” Akane fnished in a knowing tone. “at’s what you want to
know right?” Tarra nodded and blushed causing Akane to sigh. “You
don’t need to get so embarrassed about it, Tarra. It’s a valid question.”
Akane sat up and devoted herself to the answer. “I was never much
for the recruitment speech but here goes,” she grinned. “Iljrene doesn’t
talk about her past too much except that she used to live in a Drow
city underground. She says that she just wasn’t like everyone else, she
always had a good heart and that got her in trouble one day. So she
ran to the surface here and learned to live under the sun. I hear that
it wasn’t pleasant. After a while she acquired her sword Dor|moor,
but she’s always rather vague on those details. I know more about
when the three of them met and what happened after. Onyx is an
Elven princess you know.” Akane looked at Tarra’s face and shrugged.
“Okay, so now you know, anyway she is descended from the line of
Ari’ Telmithus.”
“Gamiela Ari’ Telmithus the Necrite Wars heroine?” Tarra inter-
rupted. Akane nodded.
“So Onyx wasn’t nearly as powerful as she is now, but was a fair
Battlemage at the time. She heard of a sighting of S|oáu|or:. I’m sure
you know what that would do to an elf if you know anything about
the Necrite Wars.” She looked at Tarra intently. “So she tracked down
this lead and ran into Iljrene. Not exactly the friendliest of meetings
if you get my drift. e two of them were blade to blade when Anna
showed up. Anna managed to convince Onyx that she was a paladin
and could fnd no evil in Iljrene’s soul so Onyx reluctantly stopped
the fght. at was the frst time that the trio ran into a Necromancer.
Luckily he wasn’t all that powerful or they would have a much difer-
ent lifetime, shorter for one,” Akane chuckled humorlessly.
“Iljrene saved Onyx’s life during that adventure, selfessly,
willingly. She took on a horde of ghasts single-handed when they at-
tacked Onyx. e Necromancer put up a fght as well, but S|oáu|or:
wasn’t there, it was just some sword the Necromancer had made out
of obsidian. at was the battle when Anna lost her arm as well.” She
looked at Tarra’s eyes and gave a gesture as if handing her something.
“Okay you didn’t know that either. After they got back Onyx had the
Elven Artisans of the city make her a new one out of mithril. Anna
keeps it covered all the time so you don’t see it. Onyx also had a dag-
ger crafted for Iljrene, you should have her show it to you next time
you meet, and it’s got ‘Forged in Friendship’ inscribed on the blade
and is a beautiful piece of work. However, that kind of got Onyx in
trouble with her family for befriending a Drow. So the three of them
decided that since they really didn’t have a family of their own they
would be like sisters to each other. ey organized the Sisterhood
and started recruiting members. It didn’t matter who you were or
more importantly what you were to them, as long as whom you were
inside was good then they welcomed you.”
Akane looked distantly into the fre for a moment. “ey gave me
a family when I didn’t think I had one anymore, and then helped me
fnd my sister and break her chains.” She shook her head briefy as if
to clear it and looked up at Tarra again, eyes fashing emerald in the
night. “So if you want to know what Iljrene, or any other Sister, is like
then I guess I’d say strong, determined, compassionate, open-minded,
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and loyal. What I know about Iljrene’s personality is that she is the
most responsible and charismatic leader I’ve ever seen. She gets things
done and works just as hard if not more so than everyone else. But
she likes to collect stufed toys and loves fowers. Everything is a won-
der to her in nature because she lived in darkness for so long when
she came to the surface she said it was so full of color and life. She
gets sentimental sometimes. She has a love letter that someone gave
her years ago with a poem in it. e paper is practically in tatters now
it’s so old, but she carries it in her belt pouch everywhere she goes.
She’s also a pack rat; she had a belt with a series of enchanted pouches
made to carry a wagonload of stuf with her. You need something
obscure? She probably has it in on of those pouches. Iljrene is also
the most deadly swordswoman I have ever seen. I know she’s crossed
blades with the Dragon Queen at least once and she lived to tell about
it.”
Tarra’s eyes widen at that. Even her tiny village had heard of the
almost legendary leader of the Crimson Dragons mercenary army. “So
in all, what is Iljrene like?” Akane paused and smiled, “she’s my Sister,
Tarra, and yours, and all the rest of us.”
Hyslan had remained quiet throughout the conversation, but
chose now to speak. “e Sisters are truly important in these times,
Tarra. Many owe their lives and survival to them for their actions,
though they do not know it.” He set aside his bowl and looked at her
over the fre. “I’m glad that you were ofered a chance to join. I see
great potential within you.” He stood and stretched, “But it is late and
as you both cooked while I slept, it is only fair that I should clean the
pots and have frst watch.”
“Fine by me,” Akane said as drew her blade. She lay down and
wrapped herself in a blanket, folding another over the blade to keep
of the dew. Tarra likewise lay down to sleep.
“Tarra?” Akane’s voice called out after a few minutes of silence.
“Uhm?” she replied.
“I know its kind of late to say it, but Merry Birthday.” ere was
the sound of Akane rolling over.
“Goodnight.” Tarra refected on that for a while, watching the
stars overhead. at’s right; it was her birthday. In all the excitement
she had forgotten that fact. It certainly had been a memorable one
though. As her eyes slide shut she gave a sleepy chuckle when she
thought how surprised Arasaun would be to her telling him a story
for a change.
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MINITATURES CORNER
Written by Steve Creech
Excelsior Entertainment has their own line of miniatures
that, while designed for wargaming, easily double for use in
tabletop role-playing games. e frst of these miniatures is
a two pack for their WarZone miniatures game, Misbima
Doomtroopers.
“Icorcá :|roug|ou: :|c ur:vcrsc. Doom:roopcrs orc :|c
coporo::ors mos: prcs::g:ous uorr:ors. |o:rcá :r:o :uo mor :coms.
orc spcc:o|:zcs :r c|osc comoo: u|:|c :|c:r por:rcr spcc:o|:zcs :r
rorgcá comoo:. lc M:s|:mo Doom:roopcrs orc :|c p:rroc|c oj
:|:s |oroá:gm. Izum: :|c u|:r|u:rá. :|c c|osc comoo: spcc:o|:s:
:s o :crr:jy:rg comoo:or:. Hcr mu|::p|c suorás cor mo|c s|or:
uor| oj mos: opporcr:s orá o|ur :r:o o sccm:rg :orroáo oj áco:|.
Koroáo :|c árogor. os |c :s |rour. u:c|ás o poucrju| ou:o corror
u::| urácr oorrc| homc:|roucr orá corr:cs o No Dos|: :r cosc |c
:s crgogcá :r c|osc. logc:|cr :|cy orc rcjcrrcá :o os lurácr orá
L:g|:r:rg.”
e detail on each miniature is quite good (unfortunately,
I do not have a picture of them). Neither comes with a plastic
base (at least mine didn’t), so you will have to provide them
yourself. e mold lies are easily cleaned and there is very little
fash to remove (which is something that rates highly in my
book since I hate fash). e ranged doomtrooper comes in
three pieces: the main body, a large katana and an ammo clip
that attaches to the bottom of the BFG-9000 he is holding
(that’s Big Freakin’ Gun for you non-Doom fans). He is wear-
ing a futuristic samurai-style armor that lends itself to painting
quite easily.
e other fgure comes in fve distinct pieces: the main
body, two swords, scabbard and a smaller gun. is one will
require substantial efort to correctly place and glue the parts,
probably needing to be pinned or flled. is one is not for
amateurs and painting it is a bit more challenging. e swords
defnitely give the mini a formidable feel, however.
e overall look of the minis makes them suitable for any
futuristic game and possibly a modern game if you consider
the guns to be top-secret prototypes. As a pair, they carry a
retail price of $9.99 (product number EXE-30434) and seem a
reasonable value given the attention to detail and lack of casting
problems.
e next miniature by Excelsior is
the Stygian Desert Crawler. As you can
see, it is a hefty piece of metal. Eleven
diferent pieces come in the package,
but in reality there are much more.
Each leg must be detached and then
pinned in place. e size and mass of
the mini makes it relatively easy to paint and work with.
“Dcscr: Crou|crs |ovc |org s:rcuy ooá:cs u::| poucrju|.
cor:|-mov:rg c|ous orá |orgc gop:rg ¡ous. lcy :rovc| ¡us: ocrco:|
:|c surjocc oj :|c ácscr: or|y :o r:sc up orá árog áour ory:|:rg
urjor:uro:c croug| :o oc coug|: :r :|c:r grosp. lc S:yg:ors
cmp|oy :|csc mors:crs jor áccp :rscr::or oc|:rá or crcmy’s |:rc.
As :|cy :rovc| ou:c||y urácrgrourá. o Dcscr: Crou|cr :s ou::c
copoo|c oj s:r:|:rg o: or crcmy jrom oc|:rá :|c:r ror|s. lcy |ovc
occr |rour :o cousc c|oos u|cr :|cy áo :|:s. scrá:rg uoroorás
sco::cr:rg :o :|c jour u:rás :r or o::cmp: :o cscopc ::s gop:rg mou.
|or::cu|or|y |orgc Dcscr: Crou|crs |ovc cvcr occr |rour :o comc
up urácrrco:| :roops orá suo||ou :|cm u|o|c. l:s ur:: cos:s 74
po:r:s :r your S:yg:or ormy.”
is is a monster that can easily ft into your RPG game. It
can double for any number of burrowing worm-like creatures,
such as polar worms or a rhemoraz. You could even design your
monster stats based upon the fgure. It does have a very hefty
retail price of $29.99 (product number EXE-50720) so it’s not
something you are going to pick up on a whim. However, given
its impressive scale and possible utility, it would make a good
addition to a person’s monster collection even if you don’t play
C|rorop:o.
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SORCEROUS BLOOD: PRESTIGE CLASSES
Written by Duane Nutley
Edited by Neil Rachynski
Scc::or 1S: Sorcerous Blood: |rcs::gc C|osscs Copyr:g|: 2003. Duorc Nu:|cy
T
he last article introduced the concept of sorcerous bloodlines
and showed a number of feats that sorcerers of a certain blood-
line could take. is article follows on from that and looks at some
prestige classes that sorcerers can take, depending on their bloodline.
ese prestige classes focus on the bloodline and gaining as much as
possible from their heredity while still improving arcane might. Usu-
ally it is trying to combine their bloodline with arcane prowess. After
this is a section on roleplaying tips to consider based on the blood-
lines. ese tips will include physical changes that may occur (GMs
and player choice) and generalizations about sorcerers from a certain
bloodline. For example sorcerers from the Fey tradition are usually
chaotic and full of wanderlust. ey like to use illusion or enchant-
ment magics.
One adjustment to the previous article: When dropping spells to
deal damage with some of the bloodline feats, calculate the amount
of damage dealt as follows. 1d6 per spell level dropped + half the
caster level. Eg. Dmirtrun, a 10
th
level Drasorn with Dragon Breath
feat, drops a 4
th
level spell to power up the feat. Damage will be 9d6
– 4d6 (spell level) + 5d6 (half spellcaster level). Also round down
spellcaster level.
Sorcerers of the diferent bloodlines have over time called them-
selves by a distinct name, to separate themselves from the diferent
type of sorcerers. ese names are not common knowledge, but any-
one with a few ranks in Knowledge Arcane will know of the names,
as will those who associate with sorcerers of a certain bloodline.
Celestial sorcerers are known as Celestians, Draconic as Drasorns, El-
ementals as Elemens, Fey as Feyans, Fiend as Fiendiels, Lycanthrope
as Lycantherans and Outsider as Outsidians. ese names are not to
be confused with the names of the prestige classes. e prestige class
for each bloodline is known by a diferent name.
Prestige Classes
ere are seven prestige classes detailed below, one for each
bloodline. Each is a fve level class that a sorcerer can take to explore
more of their bloodline abilities. As magic is part of their bloodline,
they are able to improve their spellcasting as well as their other abili-
ties. Usually during this time of heredity contemplation they undergo
more distinct physical changes until fnally they attain their highest
status: becoming one with their forefathers. Sorcerers of draconic
bloodlines become half-dragons for example, elemental sorcerers take
the elemental template, etc.
It is only natural that a person wants to know about their past
and where they came from. When the past
afects a person’s present, like it does for all
sorcerers, then the need is even more press-
ing. What does it mean to have the blood of a
dragon, a fairy or even an angel inside of you?
Some sorcerers do not care and take what
they have either as a curse or blessing. Others
however wish to learn more about their past
and the blood that courses through their
veins. ey follow a path of their own mak-
ing, but one that leads all who take it along
the same track. A track on which they learn more about their magic,
the abilities their blood empowers and the way to virtually complete
their heritage.
ese prestige classes are ones that one sorcerers of the appro-
priate bloodline can take. At 3
rd
level all sorcerers who take a prestige
class must also roll once on the appearance table for their bloodline.
is is to show the infuence the awakening of the power in their
blood has while taking the path of self-discovery.
Celestial sorcerer PrC – Angelic Arcanist
HD: d4.
Requirements
Feats: Celestial Magics, Holy Wings.
Spellcasting: Ability to cast 3
rd
level arcane spells.
Special: Celestial Bloodline.
Spellcraft: 10 ranks.
Diplomacy: 5 ranks.
Knowledge (Planes): 8 ranks.
Class Skills: Alchemy (Int), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int),
Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (Int), Profession (Wis),
Scry (Int), Spellcraft (Int).
Skill points per level: 2 + Int mod.
Class Abilities
Weapon and Armor Pronciencies: Angelic Arcanists gain no
new weapon or armor profciencies.
Divine Skills: Angelic Arcanists gain a +2 heritage bonus to
Diplomacy and Heal.
Smite Evil: Once per day, Angelic Arcanists can use the smite
evil ability of a paladin.
Celestial Healing: Angelic Arcanists gain this bloodline feat for
free.
Holy Amor: e Angelic Arcanist gains a defection bonus to
their AC equal to their Charisma modifer (if positive). is refects
that they are becoming more celestial than humanoid.
Merging witb tbe Divine (Su): At 5
th
level a Angelic Arcanist
reaches the peak of their power. e sorcerer gains the half-celestial
template and all that goes with it.
Angelic Arcanist
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special Spellcasting
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Divine skills +1 spellcasting level
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Smite Evil +1 spellcasting level
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 Celestial Healing +1 spellcasting level
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Holy Armor +1 spellcasting level
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Merging with the Divine +1 spellcasting level
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Draconic sorcerer PrC – Sorcerous Draconi
HD: d4
Requirements.
Feats: Dragon Breath, Dragon Wings.
Spellcasting: Ability to cast 3
rd
level arcane spells.
Spellcraft: 10 ranks.
Knowledge (Dragons): 8 ranks.
Special: Draconic Bloodline.
Special: Must have worked for a dragon for a full 12 month
period.
Class Skills: Alchemy (Int), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int),
Knowledge (Int), Profession (Wis), Scry (Int), Spellcraft (Int).
Skill points per level: 2 + Int mod.
Class Abilities
Weapon and Armor Pronciencies: Sorcerous Draconi gain no
new weapon or armor profciencies.
Dragon Senses: e frst power gained is heightened senses,
both physical and intellectual. Sorcerous Draconi are able to see and
listen twice as far as others of their race. ey also gain a +2 heritage
bonus to Knowledge Arcana and Spellcraft.
Eyes of tbe Dragon: Sorcerous Draconi gain this bloodline feat
for free.
Dragon Presence: Once per level per day a Sorcerous Draconi
can cast jcor as a standard action as the spell. All variables for the spell
use the Sorcerous Draconi’s spellcaster level.
Dragon Sbape: As a full round action, a Sorcerous Draconi can
assume the shape of a dragon of his own size once per day. A halfing
Sorcerous Draconi will be no bigger than he is tall. is shapechange
last for one minute/Con modifer (minimum one minute). e Sor-
cerous Draconi must choose the color upon initiating the change. He
gains all the extraordinary abilities of a young dragon: natural armor
bonus, all attack modes of a dragon of that size, frightful presence,
immunities, blindsight and keen senses. He retains his own saves,
spellcasting ability and Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma, while
taking on the Strength, Dexterity and Con-
stitution of the young dragon.
Draconic Restoration: By this level a
Sorcerous Draconi has learnt all they can
along this path. He gains the half-dragon
template and all the benefts that go with it.
Elemental sorcerer PrC –
Magus of the Invoked
Element
HD: d4
Requirements.
Feats: Elemental Power, Elemental Summoning.
Spellcasting: Ability to cast 3
rd
level arcane spells.
Spellcraft: 10 ranks.
Knowledge (Planes): 8 ranks.
Special: Elemental Bloodline.
Special: Must have made peaceful contact with a Large Elemen-
tal that was not summoned by the player.
Class Skills: Alchemy (Int), Concentration
(Con), Craft (Int), Knowledge (Int), Profession
(Wis), Scry (Int), Spellcraft (Int).
Skill points per level: 2 + Int mod.
Class Abilities
Weapon and Armor Pronciencies: Magus
of the Invoked Element gain no new weapon or
armor profciencies.
Elemental Knowledge: One of the frst things a Magus learns
is how to make spells from a certain element more powerful than
normal. When this ability is gained, a Magus of the Invoked Element
must choose one element – air, earth, fre or water. All spells cast with
the corresponding descriptor: air – electricity, earth – acid, fre – fre,
water – cold, gains a +1 caster level for all variables.
Elemental Resistance: A Magus of the Invoked Element gains
resistance 5 against one element of their choice at 2
nd
level. is resis-
tance increases to 10 for that element at 4
th
level.
Elemental Familiar: A Magus of the Invoked Element gains this
bloodline feat for free.
Elemental Attainment: A Magus of the Invoked Element gains
the efects of the elemental template (supplied at the end of this
article).
Fey Sorcerer PrC - Prankster Arcane
HD: d4
Requirements.
Feats: Fey Invisibility, Fey Willed.
Spellcasting: Ability to cast 3
rd
level arcane spells.
Spellcraft: 10 ranks.
Knowledge (Nature): 8 ranks.
Special: Fey Bloodline.
Sorcerous Draconi
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special Spellcasting
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Dragon senses +1 spellcasting level
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Eyes of the Dragon +1 spellcasting level
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 Dragon Presence +1 spellcasting level
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Dragon shape +1 spellcasting level
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Draconic Restoration +1 spellcasting level
Magus of the Invoked Element
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special Spellcasting
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Elemental Knowledge +1 spellcasting level
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Elemental resistance 5 +1 spellcasting level
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 Elemental Familiar +1 spellcasting level
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Elemental resistance 10 +1 spellcasting level
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Elemental attainment +1 spellcasting level
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Weapon and Armor Pronciencies: Hell-
ish Arcanists gain no new weapon or armor
profciencies.
Hades’ Way: Fiends can be either sly and
cunning or brutal and vicious and this has im-
parted itself to some of their children. A Hellish
Arcanist gains a +2 heritage bonus to Bluf and
Intimidate.
Devil’s Breatb: A Hellish Arcanist gains
this bloodline feat for free.
Underworld Friend: By this level a Hellish
Arcanist knows somewhat the power plays and goings on in the neth-
er realms. Due to their increased knowledge they gain the services of
a minor fend (usually a imp or quasit, but any demon or devil of no
more than CR 6). ey can call this friend 1/day/level for a maxi-
mum of one hour no matter how many times they are summoned.
For example a 4
th
level hellish Arcanist could summon his imp in the
morning for 10 minutes, then one hour later for 5 minutes, etc. e
friend will willingly do anything the Hellish Arcanist asks.
Fiend Power: By sacrifcing some of their strength, a Hellish
Arcanist is able to boost the efciency of their spells. As a move-
equivalent action the Hellish Arcanist can sacrifce either Strength
or Constitution. For each three points drained temporarily, he gains
+1 spellcaster level for the next spell cast. He cannot lose 2 points of
Strength and 1 point of Constitution to gain a +1 spellcaster level on
the next spell, but must choose either 3 points of Strength or 3 points
of Constitution.
Hellborn: A Hellish Arcanist gains the efects of the half-fend
template at this level.
Lycanthrope sorcerer PrC – Skinwalker Mage
HD: d4
Requirements.
Feats: Animal Claws, ick Hide.
Spellcasting: Ability to cast 3
rd
level arcane spells.
Spellcraft: 10 ranks.
Knowledge (Lycantbropes): 8 ranks.
Special: Lycanthrope Bloodline.
Class Skills: Alchemy (Int), Animal Empathy (Cha), Concentra-
tion (Con), Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Int), Profes-
sion (Wis), Scry (Int), Spellcraft (Int), Wilderness Lore (Wis).
Skill points per level: 2 + Int mod.
Special: Must have helped fey to defend a woodland area against
invaders.
Class Skills: Alchemy (Int), Animal Empathy (Cha), Concen-
tration (Con), Craft (Int), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (Int), Profession
(Wis), Scry (Int), Spellcraft (Int), Wilderness Lore (Wis).
Skill points per level: 2 + Int mod.
Class Abilities
Weapon and Armor Pronciencies: Prankster Arcane gain no new
weapon or armor profciencies.
Nature’s Lore: e latent powers of the Fey bloodline start to
exert themselves at 1
st
level. e Prankster Arcane learns to appreciate
wilderness more than before and learn more of its secrets. ey gain a
+2 heritage bonus to all Animal Empathy and Wilderness Lore checks.
Sprite Wings: A Prankster Arcane gains this bloodline feat for
free.
Fey Cbarm Immunity: Either due to more
exposure of fey or as a legacy of their blood,
Prankster Arcane at this level gain immunity to
all charm spells cast by fey.
Summon Nature’s Ally: A Prankster
Arcane can once per day cast summor ro:urc’s
o||y at the highest spell level that the sorcerer can
normally cast.
Pixieness: By fully delving into their powers,
a Prankster Arcane gains the efects of the fey
template (supplied at the end of this article).
Fiend sorcerer PrC – Hellish Arcanist
HD: d4
Requirements.
Feats: Demon’s Presence, Bat Wings.
Spellcasting: Ability to cast 3
rd
level arcane spells.
Spellcraft: 10 ranks.
Knowledge (Planes): 8 ranks.
Special: Fiend Bloodline.
Special: Must have willingly done one service for a fend.
Class Skills: Alchemy (Int), Bluf (Cha), Concentration (Con),
Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Int), Profession (Wis), Scry
(Int), Spellcraft (Int).
Skill points per level: 2 + Int mod.
Class Abilities
Prankster Arcane
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special Spellcasting
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Nature’s Lore +1 spellcasting level
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Sprite Wings +1 spellcasting level
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 Fey Charm Immunity +1 spellcasting level
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Summon Nature’s Ally +1 spellcasting level
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Pixieness +1 spellcasting level
Hellish Arcanist
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special Spellcasting
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Hades’ Way +1 spellcasting level
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Devil’s Breath +1 spellcasting level
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 Underworld Friend +1 spellcasting level
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Fiend Power +1 spellcasting level
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Hellborn +1 spellcasting level
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Class Abilities
Weapon and Armor Pronciencies: Skinwalker Mage gain no
new weapon or armor profciencies.
Nature’s Way: e animal part that is part of the link of magic
Lycantherans have starts to exert itself when this class is taken. A
Skinwalker Mage gains a +2 heritage bonus to all Animal Empathy
and Wilderness Lore checks.
Trackless Step: e Skinwalker Mage gains the ability to leave
no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked.
Magic Fang: e Skinwalker Mage gains this bloodline feat for
free.
Quicksilver Speed: e Skinwalker Mage gains this bloodline
feat for free.
Skin of tbe Sbapecbanger: At 5
th
level a Skinwalker Mage can
learn no more but how to shift from one form to their humanoid
form. ey gain the lycanthrope template and must choose one of
the lycanthrope types available. ey are considered to be a natural
lycanthrope.
Outsider sorcerer PrC – Planar Spontanaetor
HD: d4
Requirements
Feats: Outsider Magics, Skin of the Unknown.
Spellcasting: Ability to cast 3
rd
level arcane spells.
Spellcraft: 10 ranks.
Knowledge (Planes): 8 ranks.
Special: Outsider Bloodline.
Class Skills: Alchemy (Int), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int),
Diplomacy (Cha), Knowledge (Int), Profession (Wis), Scry (Int),
Spellcraft (Int).
Skill points per level: 2 + Int mod.
Class Abilities
Weapon and Armor Pronciencies: Planar
Spontanaetor gain no new weapon or armor
profciencies.
Favored Enemy: e blood of the Outsidian
calls out in hatred against one race. e Planar
Spontanaetor gains the favored enemy ability of a
ranger.
Outsider Presence: A Planar Spontanaetor
gains this bloodline feat for free.
Alternate Forms: Once per level per
day the Outsidian can change form like
the spell po|ymorp| sc|j. e ability acts in
all ways like the spell. With time a Planar
Spontanaetor may acquire a fondness for
some forms over others.
Planar Protection: If the Planar Spon-
tanaetor visits a plane that deals damage to
those who are not native or do not have the
appropriate protection, they gain immunity
to any efects.
Merging witb Innnity: At 5
th
level the Planar Spontanaetor
knows enough about themselves to transform into an outsider. He is
treated as an outsider instead of a humanoid. us c|orm pcrsor has
no efect, however they can now be afected by mog:c c:rc|c. Addition-
ally the Planar Spontanaetor gains damage reduction 20/+1.
Appearance
ey say a person’s past always catches up with them at some
point in their life. But what if an ancestor’s past caught up with you
in your life? is is just one of the things a sorcerer has to deal with
during their lifetime. A sorcerer’s ability to cast magic is an inherited
ability from a certain bloodline and sometimes the bloodline catches
up with the sorcerer. Some sorcerers are never afected by their
bloodline appearance or temperament, but occasionally a certain few
reap the efects of what their forebearers had sown. e efects that a
bloodline can have on a sorcerer can be either temperament, appear-
ance or both. Appearance is looked at frst.
Each of the bloodlines is based on a certain type of creature.
ese creatures do not look like humanoids, for the most part, and as
such when they mix with humanoids their ofspring are a mix of each
parent. Occasionally a sorcerer will be the ofspring of such a couple,
but usually a sorcerer is a number of generations from such a mix and
will for the most part look like his parents (unless of course one of
them is an exotic humanoid or non-humanoid creature). e creature
that the sorcerer gained their magic from may from time to time im-
part some of its features to its descendants. is may be something as
simple as dry skin, long unkempt hair and excessive body hair to ac-
tual scales on the body, fangs, green hair or even wings! is does not
mean that the features gained are useful. A draconic sorcerer might be
unlucky enough to have a scaly face and small wings sprout from their
back, but the wings are not strong enough to allow him fight.
When a sorcerer character is chosen, the player and GM must
decide if the character will have any features from the bloodline
chosen. Alternatively the GM or player can roll and see what type
of feature, if any, the character will have. Check the table under each
bloodline listing for a list of possible physical features. e GM and
player must take into account any type of diference in the character
with the greater world and how the greater world will perceive the
Skinwalker Mage
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special Spellcasting
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Nature’s Way +1 spellcasting level
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Trackless Step +1 spellcasting level
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 Magic Fang +1 spellcasting level
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Quicksilver Speed +1 spellcasting level
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Skin of the Shapechanger +1 spellcasting level
Planar Spontanaetor
Class
Level
BAB Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special Spellcasting
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Favored Enemy +1 spellcasting level
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Outsider Presence +1 spellcasting level
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 Alternate Forms +1 spellcasting level
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Planar Protection +1 spellcasting level
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Merging with Infnity +1 spellcasting level
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individual.
Celestial
1 Wings
2-5 Silver Hair
6-9 None
10 Beautifc Countenance
11-14 Golden Eyes
15-16 No Body Hair or Blemishes
17-18 None
19 Feathery Down
20 Roll Twice
Wings: Having wings is both a boon and a curse to those that
have them. First all clothing for the chest, as in shirts or dresses, need
to be modifed to accommodate the wings. Having wings can make
other people see someone in a bad light and there will be no deal-
ings with that person or their associates. However wings give double
normal movement in fight with an average manovuerability. Wings
are feathery in appearance, instead of scales or bat-like.
Silver Hair: is is not a tinge, but a whole hair color. How-
ever as elves are known to have silver hair as well, this is not seen as
peculiar.
Beautifc countenance: Celestians with this modifed appearance
actually look like their skin and face are glowing. ey look almost
otherworldly. All social transactions are made at a +2 heritage bonus
to Charisma.
Golden Eyes: Sight is unafected, but if people get a good look at
their eyes, they may be disturbed, shocked or outright violent towards
the person. GMs should roleplay all NPCs as they choose.
No Body Hair or Blemishes: Celestians with this feature are
‘ blessed’ with having no facial hair or any birthmarks. ey still have
hair on their head, but have no hair from the eyebrows down.
Feathery down: Instead of wings, Celestians have a coat of
feathery down from the bottom of the neck down. is covers their
arms, legs, hands and feet instead of normal body hair. If they are not
covered up anyone making a Spot check DC 15 is able to notice this
characteristic and may act diferently to the person.
Draconic
1 Red Eyes
2 Dry Skin
3-4 Heavily Browed Face
5-6 None
7 Wing Stubs
8-10 Scales
11-13 Tail Stub
14-16 Hieght Increase
17-18 Wings
19 Tail
20 Roll Twice
Red Eyes: Like the Golden Eyes of Celestians, Drasorns with red
eyes do not have their eyesight afected, this is more of a roleplaying
aspect.
Dry skin: eir skin fakes in large pieces. is may cause ad-
verse reactions in people they are associating with at the time if large
bits of skin start falling of their arms while expressing themselves.
While casting spells with somatic components, it may look like they
are shedding their skin if lots of skin are peeling of at the same time.
Heavily browed face: Drasorns with this appearance appear
slightly Neanderthal in the face with a broad jutting forehead. While
not afecting them intellectually, in social settings others may think
them slow or stupid. Some players may take advantage of this by
playing up to this aspect and then surprising opponents with their
intellect and cunning. Others may be irritated or angry with those
who think them slow or stupid.
Wing Stubs: Draconic sorcerers who have wing stubs are pitied
by other draconic sorcerers for not reaching their full potential. ose
with wing stubs have the worst of it all as all clothing for the torso
must be altered to accommodate for the stubs. Some Drasorns with
this feature will prefer to look hunchbacked than explain their ap-
pearance.
Scales: Instead of body hair, draconic sorcerers with this feature
have actual repitilian scales on their body. is may afect them so
severely that they also have no hair on their heads as scales as there
as well. Because of the hardening of the skin into scales, all Drasorns
with this appearance have a +1 bonus to their natural armor. Unfor-
tunately unless they cover up, they also incur a –2 Charisma penalty
for all social interactions (Bluf and Diplomacy are also afected).
GMs may also decide that all commoners are scared or confused
about the person due to their repitilian features.
Tail Stub: A tail stub is not as efectual as a full tail and incurs its
own drawbacks to those with this appearance. All clothing for pants
or leggings must be modifed to accommodate the tail stub. Also Dra-
sorns may wish to hide or conceal this deformity in some way.
Height Increase: Due to their heritage some draconic sorcerers
are larger than other members of their race. us when determin-
ing height for the Drasorn add an additional 1d6+8 inches to their
height. Additional add a further 2d10 lbs to their weight. If the height
increase carries them into the next height category, the sorcerer losses
all benefts of the smaller class and incurs all the modifers for the
higher height.
Wings: Draconic sorcerers with this appearance have full scaly
wings like their forefathers. e wings are proportional to their body
size. ese wings are capable of carrying their body weight into full
fight. Movement is at double normal movement with average maneu-
verability. However having wings afects their social interactions with
those who are not as openminded as some people.
Tail: A long scaly tail furls out from the bottom of the torso at all
times. e immediate efect of this is that all pants/leggings need to
be modifed to accommodate the tail. As with all abnormal humanoid
features, the tail afects the sorcerer’s social interactions. With practice
the sorcerer can, as a standard action, use the tail as a tail sweep and
sweep opponents of their feet. e sorcerer acts as if they had the
Improved Trip feat.
Elemental
1-4 Tinged Skin
5-8 None
9-11 Body Markings
12-14 Tinged Hair
15-16 Elemental Skin
17-19 None
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Tinged Skin: Elemental sorcerers with this appearance have a
slight tinge to the color of their skin. is can be either blue, green,
red, brown or even rarely a combination of these colors. e depth of
the tinge is up to the player and/or GM to determine. is may only
have gameplay afects if someone makes a Spot check DC 15 and
notices the color tinge on any exposed skin.
Body Markings: Instead of their skin being colored, the skin is
tattooed in places with symbols representing the elements. No one
single element dominates. ese tattooes are usually on the torso,
arms and legs extending to hands and feet. While not infuencing re-
actions in others, as others have tattooes, some Elemens feel tingling
in this tattooes when they cast certain spells. ese tattooes cannot
come of without the aid or a u:s| or m:roc|c.
Tinged Hair: Tinged Hair causes the end of the hair of an Ele-
men to be tinged either red, blue or green. is has no real efect if
people they are interacting with have had some contact with elves as
diferent subraces of elves have this coloring as well.
Elemental Skin: Elemental Skin is more extreme than tinged
skin in that all the skin is of a diferent color than is normal for that
race. Colors include, but are not limited to, red, blue, brown, yellow or
green. is obviously has efects on social interactions depending on
how the Elemen acts.
Fey
1-2 Green Hair
3-4 Blue Hair
5-6 None
7 No Body Hair
8-9 Tinged Skin
10-12 Invisible Wings
13-14 No Pupils
15-17 Hieght Reduction
18-19 Visible Wings
20 Roll Twice
Green or Blue Hair: e entirity of the hair is the one color, not
ust tinging that Elemens may experience. is may have no adverse
efects as it is believed by some people that elves have really weird hair
color. However this may cause problems if the sorcerer is not an elf
and does not want to be assumed as one.
No body hair: e only hair a Feyan has is what is on top of
their head. Otherwise they have no eyebrows or hair anywhere else
on their body.
Tinged Skin: e normal colors that may tinge a skin are green
or brown. However some Feyans have had red, yellow, black tinged
skin. Efects are otherwise similar to Elemens.
Invisible wings: A Feyan with this appearance appears totally
normal, unless one makes a Spot check DC 15 to notice that there are
holes in any torso clothing, that is if they were clothing on the chest.
A scc :rv:s:o|c will see the wings as well. A Fey sorcerer is capable
of fight and can move at twice their normal movement with good
maneuverability.
No pupils: Sorcerers with this feature have no black pupils in
their eyes at all. is is quite hard to notice from a distance, Spot
check DC 25 DC 20 when within 5 feet, but may cause adverse reac-
tions in people that do notice this unusual feature.
Height reduction: As normal fey are quite small, sometimes this
leaves a legacy on their descendants. When determining the height of
the Feyan minus 1d6+8 inches from their height. If this causes them
to go into height category, the character has all the height features of
that category. Also the weight of the sorcerer is decreased by 2d10.
Visible Wings: Like other bloodline sorcerers with wings, Fey
sorcerers must alter all torso clothing to accommodate their wings.
Wings are gossamer and quite light compared to the scaly wings of
Drasorns. Feyans with visible wings are capable of fight at twice their
normal movement with good maneuverability.
Fiend
1-2 Dark Skin
3-5 Excessive Body Hair
6-8 None
9 Red Eyes
10-11 No Pupils
12-14 No Body Hair
15 Wing Stubs
16 Scales
17-18 Barbs
19 Bat Wings
20 Rolls Twice
Dark skin: Sorcerers with this feature appear more dark in skin
color than others of their race. is can be either brown or black in
color.
Excessive body hair: Fiendiels with this appearance have more
body hair than others of their race. Back hair is also common.
Red Eyes: Like the Golden Eyes of Celestians, Fiendiels with red
eyes do not have their eyesight afected, this is more of a roleplaying
aspect.
No pupils: Sorcerers with this feature have no black pupils in
their eyes at all. is is quite hard to notice from a distance, Spot
check DC 25 DC 20 when within 5 feet, but may cause adverse reac-
tions in people that do notice this unusual feature.
No body hair: e opposite of excessive body hair, the only hair
a Fiend sorcerer has is what is on top of their head. Otherwise they
have no eyebrows or hair anywhere else on their body.
Wing stubs: ose with wing stubs have the worst of it all as all
clothing for the torso must be altered to accommodate for the stubs
and they are not capable of fight like those with bat wings. Some sor-
cerers with this feature will prefer to look hunchbacked than explain
their appearance.
Scales: Instead of body hair, fend sorcerers with this feature have
actual repitilian scales on their body. is may afect them so severely
that they also have no hair on their heads as scales as there as well.
Because of the hardening of the skin into scales, all Fiendiels with this
appearance have a +1 bonus to their natural armor. Unfortunately
unless they cover up, they also incur a –2 Charisma penalty for all
social interactions (Bluf and Diplomacy are also afected). GMs
may also decide that all commoners are scared or confused about the
person due to their repitilian features.
Barbs: is could be seen as one of the worst appearance to have
as barbs cover the back, arms and legs of the sorcerer. is severely
restricts what clothing can be worn. Armor is hard to be worn unless
it is extensively modifed (twice normal price) otherwise the sorcerer
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is in constant pain from the doubling over of the barbs. Social interac-
tions are extremely vexing for Fiend sorcerers with this appearance as
no-one wishes to associate or deal with someone who obviously looks
like a monster. However the barbs are useful in combat. Any time
a Fiendiel grapples or is grappled, their opponent takes 1d4 pierc-
ing damage from the sorcerer. Also unarmed combat is more lethal,
dealing 1d4 piercing damage instead of the normal subdual damage
and does not draw attacks of opportunity. is does not cause the
sorcerer to have the virtual feat of Improved Unarmed Strike. is
must be taken as normal.
Bat Wings: Some Fiendiels bear the mark of their fendish legacy
in the form of large bat wings. ese wings are in proportion to the
sorcerer’s size and are capable of fight. Movement while fying is
twice normal movement with average maneuverability. Aside from
the normal need for modifcation of clothing, unless these wings are
covered in some way, all social interactions will be severely limited as
people assume evil and non-good intent with the sorcerer. Evil people
and beings may be more favorable inclined to the sorcerer.
Lycanthrope
1-3 Course Unkempt Hair
4-6 Body Weight
7-9 Height Increase
10-12 Excessive Body Hair
13-14 None
15-17 Yellow Eyes
18-19 Fangs
20 Roll Twice
Course unkempt hair: is actually refers to hair on the one’s
head being wild, shaggy and is generally hard to keep control of.
Body Weight: For Lycanthrope sorcerers body weight and height
increase are two separate things. is is a legacy of their shapshifter
forefathers. Add an additonal 3d10 lbs when determining body
weight.
Height increase: is height increase is due to their ancestors.
Add an additional 2d6+4 inches to a Lytheran’s height.
Excessive body hair: Lycantherans with this appearance have
more body hair than others of their race. Back hair is also common.
Yellow Eyes: Instead of eye color appropriate to their race, sor-
cerers with this feature have yellow, not golden, feral eyes. e pupil
also is yellow. is is quite hard to notice from a distance, Spot check
DC 25 DC 20 when within 5 feet, but may cause adverse reactions in
people that do notice this unusual feature.
Fangs: e canines in a Lycanthrope sorcerer are more pro-
nounced than in other people. Unless a sorcerer tries to hide these,
they will be noticeable by all within 10 feet looking at the Lycanther-
an. is may afect interactions with other people, especially at night
time. A Spot check DC 20, DC 15 within 10 feet, will notice this
feature normally. Increase the DC check by 5 if the sorcerer is trying
to hide his fangs.
Outside
1-2 Odd Colored Skin
3-6 Tail
7-9 None
10-11 Mismatched Color Eyes
12 Patched Color Skin
13-14 No Body Hair
15 Tail Stub
16 Body Designs
17 Colored Eyes
18-19 Scales
20 Roll Twice
Odd colored skin: is can range from anything from tinging
to full skin color for one’s skin. Any color conceivable is possible and
this is to be determined by the player and/or GM. As always this may
afect their interaction with others depending on the severity of the
mix and if it is noticed.
Tail: A long scaly tail furls out from the bottom of the torso at all
times. e immediate efect of this is that all pants/leggings need to
be modifed to accommodate the tail. As with all abnormal humanoid
features, the tail afects the sorcerer’s social interactions. With practice
(3d4 months) the sorcerer can, as a standard action, use the tail as a
tail sweep and sweep opponents of their feet. e sorcerer acts as if
they had the Improved Trip feat.
Mismatched color eyes: e Outsider sorcerer has two diferent
colors for eye color, instead of just one. One eye will be one color, the
other a diferent color. Colors for eyes are those common to the race.
is may have no efect in social interaction.
Patched color skin: Instead of just one skin tone, a Outsidian has
two or more colors in a mix for skin color. ese may make patterns
or just be random assortments on the skin. GMs and players are
encouraged to use this to full beneft and have it detailed so that all
know what actual efect is. Unless efort is made to cover this up, this
appearance may afect any interactions the sorcerer has with others.
No body hair: e only hair a Outsidian has is what is on top of
their head. Otherwise they have no eyebrows or hair anywhere else
on their body.
Tail stub: A tail stub is not as efectual as a full tail and incurs its
own drawbacks to those with this appearance. All clothing for pants
or leggings must be modifed to accommodate the tail stub. Also Out-
sidians may wish to hide or conceal this deformity in some way.
Body Designs: is may be used in two diferent ways. Either
the Outsider sorcerer has one skin color with lines appearing on the
skin, or the sorcerer is similar to Patched color skin, but the colors
combine in such a way to cause patterns to appear on the skin. is
should afect the whole body, head included, but players or GMs can
have this afect the torso only if they so choose.
Colored Eyes: Like the Golden Eyes or Red eyes of other sor-
cerer bloodlines, a sorcerer with this feature has an eye color that is
diferent and usual to that race and humanoids in general. Any color
can be chosen and the Outsidian has pupils that are normally black.
Scales: Instead of body hair, Outsider sorcerers with this feature
have actual repitilian scales on their body. is may afect them so
severely that they also have no hair on their heads as scales as there
as well. Because of the hardening of the skin into scales, all Fiendiels
with this appearance have a +1 bonus to their natural armor. Unfor-
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tunately unless they cover up, they also incur a –2 Charisma penalty
for all social interactions (Bluf and Diplomacy are also afected).
GMs may also decide that all commoners are scared or confused
about the person due to their repitilian features.
GMs are encouraged to add more to the lists with their own
creations. ese physical changes are meant more for roleplaying
purposes than for advantages or disadvantages.
Temperament
e creature type that a particular bloodline is based from can
determine how a sorcerer acts and thinks at times. With the appear-
ance of magic a sorcerer’s point of view and reasoning can change. It is
unsure whether it is the magic itself or some other factor that brings
about a change in a sorcerer. A temperament change will never swing
a character’s alignment, but it may cause sudden mood swings, etc.
For example a normally mild, quiet and helping sorcerer may sudden
become angry and perhaps even attack someone if they were from a
Fiend bloodline. Normally vicious and bloodthirsty sorcerers may
have sudden attacks of conscious and change from their intended
course of action. ese are extremes of the scale but they can happen
depending on the bloodline and the strength of the temperament.
e strength of the temperament has nothing to do with physical ap-
pearance and can occur at any time.
is does not mean that a GM can overrule a character’s given
course of action by deciding that this is a good time to have an
outburst of temperament. e GM and player will have to come to
an agreement during character generation as to whether tempera-
ment will play a part in the sorcerer’s life and to what extent. A player
may decide that his NG sorcerer from Fey bloodline, will try to play
pranks on other party members at least once a day. e only way this
will change is if the other party members try to convince the sorcerer
that the pranks are not appreciated. If the player agrees to tone down,
the GM may decide that the player starts again more circumspently
after x hours/days to a particular party member or even to unknown
strangers. Refer to the pertinent bloodline section for hints as to what
to expect from a sorcerer of that bloodline.
NOTE! e following is not true for every single sorcerer of the
bloodline in question. ese are just generalisations and it is up to the
GM and/or player to determine if they are to be used.
Celestial
Celestial sorcerers are usually kind and generous people not
prone to violence. ey will prefer to solve a situation through strat-
egy and resolution instead of force of arms. However they will fght
with their very life for their friends or innocents if these are in danger.
Celestians believe in the goodness of those races that have shown they
are of good heart. For those creatures that have embraced evil there
is no respite and they should be purged from the world. A Celestian
does not necessarily have to beggar themselves or reduce themselves
to poverty to feel good about themselves, but some Celestians believe
in “tithing” themselves and donating what is tithed to whomever they
see as needing it the most.
Draconic
A sorcerer from the Draconic bloodline will normally be
haughty, arrogant and full of themselves. As dragons see themselves
as the mightest of all creatures, Drasorns, as the descendants of these
majestic creatures, also see themselves of a like mind. If a Drasorn is
convinced of a certain point, it will take mighty, factual evidence for
them to be persuaded to change their mind on that point. Also never
tell a Drasorn: “I told you so!”, or you might feel the might of their
arcane power.
Unless a Draconic sorcerer wants to be descended from a certain
type of dragon, a specifc Drasorn could have any of the characteris-
tics of any subspecies of Dragon. is means that a Draconic sorcerer
could be as generous as a Gold Dragon or as vicious and chaotic as a
Red Dragon. Dragons are normally not social creatures and prefer to
be on their own. A Drasorn usually feels this way as well due to the
arcane link between them and their forefathers.
Elemental
Each type of elemental is varied compared to the others. is is
the same for their descendants, Elemens. e best alignment for El-
emental sorcerers is Chaotic Neutral. is is because at one moment
they could be talking about what they did the day before, the next the
could be talking about how best to decapitate someone, without even
fnishing describing what they did the day before. Each element has a
corresponding characteristic and an Elemen can be just one of these,
or all of them in the space of fve minutes. Air – fighty, unresponsive,
a whim a second. Earth – stoic, plodding, grounded in realism. Fire
– easy to anger, volatile, passionate. Water – calm, composed, col-
lected.
Normally Elemens will take one approach in life and their view
on life and stay like that. However at times their blood does betray
them and then they can act anyway they so choose.
Fey
Fey sorcerers are as mischievous and prone to pranks as normal
fey creatures. Feyans live for the fun of the moment and want to
have a prank appreciated, even by those on the receiving end. A Fey
sorcerer is more than likely to have prcs::á:g::o::or as a cantrip as it is
so versatile and has so many uses. Other magics they prefer are illu-
sions and enchantment. However if a matter turns serious, associates
may be surprised to see the Feyan give good, sound advice and act
seriously for the term of a matter. is is because Feyans know there
is a time for play (most of the time in fact) and a time for work. It is
up to the individual Fey sorcerer though what would turn them to
seriousness.
Feyans have a soft spot for animals, and will go to hell and back
for a sick or injuried animal. If they see someone mistreating an ani-
mal that that person is in charge of, the person could be either subject
to a malicious prank or just be outright attacked for their ways.
Fiend
Just because their forefathers were of an evil nature, does not
mean that all Fiend sorcerers will be of evil intent. However it does
mean that they are more prone to violence than normal, even if this
means physical violence over using spells. For this reason it is more
likely to see Fiendiels use martial weapons than other arcane spell-
casters. Unexpected rages are more common for Fiendiels than the av-
erage person. It is unsure whether this is because they do not get their
own way or because of their heritage. Fiend sorcerers are defnitely
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power-hungry and always looking for ways to advance their position
compared to those around them. Fiendiels may have an aversion to
good people or buildings or objects that have good signifcance. ey
prefer to be surrounded by sycophants who ‘play up’ the power that
the Fiendiel possesses.
Lycanthropes
A Lycanthrope sorcerer is not necessarily a shapeshifter. It is just
that their magic is a holdover from when an ancestor of theirs was
once a shapeshifter. Like lycanthropy their moods can be afected by
the moon. is means that for the three days before and after the full
moon, Lycantherans may have a completely opposite point of view
from what they normally have or just be generally irritable and snap-
pish. At all time Lycathrope sorcerers are prone to rages and physical
changes due to the rage. Lycantherans just wish to be left alone and to
live their life in peace. However some Lycantherans came about due
to one of the evil weres and because of this they like to revel in blood,
slaughter, destruction and chaos in general.
Outsiders
As they are so many diferent outsiders that leave descendants
with magical ability, it is not really possible to generalise Outsidians.
However one thing of note is that some Outsider sorcerers have a
rabid dislike and hatred for a certain particular race or monster. is
may give some indication to their possible heritage. Most Outsidians
are not prone to violence unless provoked or protecting their homes
or loved ones. A number of Outsidians have a preferance to spells
that deal with things extraplanar, either spells like á:mcrs:or áoor.
c:|crco| ¡our: or pro:cc::or jrom c|cmcr:s.
Templates
Some of the prestige classes ultimately obtain a template that is
not available in the SRD. Use the ones below if an alternate source is
not available to be used.
Elemental Template
is template is applied to familiars and also to Elemens if they
complete the path of the Invoked Element.
AC: Natural armor improves by +1.
Attacks: Gain slam attack dealing 1d4 bludgeoning and 1d4 el-
emental damage. Elemental damage is determined when the template
is taken.
Special Attacks:
Special Qualities: Immune to poison, sleep, paralysis and stun-
ning. Not subject to critical hits. Elemental Resistance improves to 15
for the element chosen. Darkvision 60 ft.
Abilities: Str +2, Dex +2, Con +0, Int +0, Wis +0, Cha +0.
Saves: As normal.
Feyish Template
is template is applied to Feyans who take all levels in Prank-
ster Arcane.
Speed: All Feyish gain gossamer-like wings if they did not have
any beforehand. Flight speed is twice normal movement with good
maneuverability.
Special Attacks: c|orm pcrsor 3/day.
Special Qualities: Feyish gain low-light vision if they did not al-
ready have it. ey are immune to all enchantment spells and efects.
Abilities: Str +0, Dex +2, Con +0, Int +0, Wis +0, Cha +4.
Saves: As normal.
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Scourge of Worlds is an ofcial DUNGLONS G DRAG-
ONS adventure that is designed to be totally interactive and
plays on any DVD player. Rhino Home Video is the creative
force behind this 3-D computer animated production. With
some 990 possible story combinations, this $24.95 DVD ofers
hours of enjoyment.
Lorg ogo. :r o |orá rovogcá oy s:r:jc. or orc:cr: rocc oj mogcs
croj:cá :|c u|::mo:c ucopor :o ács:roy :|c:r crcm:cs orá crá o||
uors. lcy co||cá :: :|c Aryx Or:|:or. :|c Scourgc oj Vor|ás.
H:áácr sojc|y jor |urárcás oj ycors. :|c Scourgc :s rou soug|: oy o
rcu suorm oj áor|rcss :|rco:cr:rg :o ur|cos| ::s sccrc:s. A gr:cj-
s:r:c|cr c|cr:c ác|cs |:s our |o|y orácr :o scorc| ou: :|c Scourgc oj
Vor|ás :r ::s |:á:rg p|occ áccp u::|:r :|c |:jc|css uos:cs oj :|c sco
oj áus: – ács:r:rg :o sc:zc :|:s |cy :o :rcrcá:o|c poucr jor |:msc|j.
lo sovc :|c uor|á. :|rcc jcor|css |crocs – Rcágor :|c |umor uor-
r:or. L:ááo :|c roguc |o|h:rg. orá M:o|cc :|c c|j u:zorá – mus:
cmoor| or o :rcoc|crous oucs: orá c|oosc oc:uccr |oror orá cv:|.
oc:uccr |:jc orá áco:|. V::| o sccrc::vc sc: oj áru:ás occos::rg
:|cm o: cvcry :urr. orá corjror:cá oy o mys:cr:ous á:v:rc oppor:-
::or u::| |cr our |:áácr ogcráo. :|cy u:|| rccá o|| oj :|c:r s|:||s.
u:: orá mog:c :o prcvcr: :|c rc|cosc oj :|c Scourgc oj Vor|ás.
Bu: :|c c|o:cc :s ro: :|c:rs. I: :s yours…
e basic premise behind this adventure is that the viewer
makes periodic choices (via their remote) that help determine
the outcome of the story. ere are four diferent endings and,
as mentioned above, 990 possible combinations resulting in
considerable replayabilitiy. e computer animation is about
as good as you would expect for the introductions to most
computer games. Lidda sufers from the blocky polygon efect
the most. ere are times when she moves, her neck seems
especially long and her face becomes squarish. However, the
graphics for both Redgar and Mialee are exceptional. Special
efects such as spells and the beholder are downright stunning.
One of the few complaints I have about this product is
the voice characterization. For the most part, they are spot on
and carry the drama you would expect from the character; all
except for Lidda, that is. Rather than portraying the halfing as
an intelligent, quick-witted rogue, she is the party whiner. Her
dialogue often consists of moans, groans, whines, and how un-
sure of her abilities she is. An example of this comes at the end
of one of the sequences where the party must pass through a
portal warded against non-good. Lidda whines about her being
unable to pass until Regdar reaches through the other side and
simply pulls her through. At the very end of one of the endings,
Lidda is reduced to nothing more than being able to whine,
tremble and cry over the party’s failure (and subsequent death)
to keep the Scourge from falling into the wrong hands.
Overall, this is a good product. I would easily compare it
against a computer game (especially some of the DGD ones
as of late) in that you have a high degree of playability and the
basic storyline is, for the most part, well written. ere is a bit
SCOURGE OF WORLDS: THE DVD
Written by Steven Creech
of graphic violence in the movie, so I would recommend not
letting small children see it (it’s of limits to my 5 yr. old and 3
yr. old). Is it worth $24.95? I think so. Is it something you are
going to watch/play time and time again? Probably not. is
is one of those DVDs that you will solve and then stick away
on the shelf for six months or so only to bring it out on a rainy
day or when there is absolutely nothing else on television. It
has potential to be a good alternative to a night of gaming
when you are short a player or two. It’s not Oscar material by
any means, but gamers will enjoy it and it could even be used
as a learning tool to introduce new people into the hobby if
approached right.
Te Gamer’s Grade: B+
More reviews of this product may be found at:
d20 Magazine Rack
Film Critic.com
Video Premiere Awards.com
Advertiser’s Index
Mongoose ........................................ 21
Code Monkey Publisbing ................ 67
Goodman Games ............................. 78
Mystic Eye Games ........................... 106
Bastion Press ................................... 122
Twin Rose Software ......................... 135
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OPEN GAME LICENSE Version 1.0a
e following text is the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
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All Rights Reserved.
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13 Termination: is License will terminate automatically if You
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15 COPYRIGHT NOTICE
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Open Game License v 1.0 Copyright 2000, Wizards of the
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Williams, based on original material by Dave Arneson and
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As with any publication, if you have a question concerning
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Issue 5, June/July 2003
Chris DesRuisseau (order #2353113) 129.162.1.32

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1

O

d20zine
C:
Executive Chairman: Steven Creech Contributing Authors: Jon Acheson, Robert M. Adams, Peter E. Aperlo, Richard Bax Jr., Bruce Boughner, Bret Boyd, Dave Chua, Steven Creech, Timothy Crumrine, Kevin Curow, Glenn Dean, Darrin Drader, John Grigsby, Derek Johnston, Paul W. King, Joe G. Kushner, Herman Lau, Jamie Lawson, Micheal Mattei, Joe Medina, Scott Moore, Duane Nutley, Terry O’Brien, F. Wesley Schneider, Bernard Visser, Michael Webster, J. Whiting, James Wilbur, Rob Wojczyk, and John Wommer Cover Art: Michael Loh Editors: Steven Creech, Andrew Garbade, Chris Sims and Wade Nudson Graphic Layout: Jeffrey Fuller

Random Rolls and Off Tangen Thoughts .............................................. by Steven Creech, Executive Chairman Raves and Rants .................................................................................... by You, or Someone Like You F 15 Questions for Troll Lord Games ...................................................... by Joe G. Kushner Express Lane: Too Many Items ............................................................. by Rob Wojczyk Ben Hiar ............................................................................................... by John Wommer Alta - A Fantasy World Proposal .......................................................... by Peter E. Aperlo E-Tools, Version 1.2: The Revision ...................................................... by Glenn Dean

4 5

10 12 13 64 65

From the Annals of Ancient Lore: Sirensong ......................................... 69 by Terry O’Brien Superheroes in the d20 World: an Introspective Look ........................... 70 by John Grigsby Grimoire Arcana: Celestial Bindings ..................................................... by Timothy Crumrine Valley of the Dwelves ............................................................................ by Bret Boyd 79 108

Easily Defeated ...................................................................................... 115 by Robert M. Adams Oathbound: Companions for your Campaign .............................................. 118 by James Wilbur Humble Beginnings: A PbeM Tale ................................................................ 123 by Rob Wojczyk Grimoire Arcana: Temple Monk .................................................................... 126 by Timothy Grumrine e Miniatures Corner ..................................................................................... 134 by Steven Creech Sorcerous Blood: Prestige Classes .................................................................. 136 by Duane Nutley D C Celtic Heroes and Legendary Figures ............................................. 5

“Requires the use of the Dungeons & Dragons® Player’s Handbook, ird Edition, and the Psionics Handbook, published by Wizards of the Coast® “Dungeons & Dragons® and Wizards of the Coast® are Registered Trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, and are used with Permission.” ‘d20 System’ and the ‘d20 System’ logo are Trademarks owned by Wizards of the Coast and are used according to the terms of the d20 System License version 3.0. A copy of this License can be found at www.wizards.com

Babylon 5 Fan Fiction ..................................................................... 22 Legendary Classes for Legendary Characters ................................. 86 R From the Fast Lane ................................................................................. by Steven Creech e-Publishers Guide ........................................................................ by Steven Creech Midnight: A Look at the Land of Shadow ...................................... by Steven Creech From Stone to Steel ....................................................................... by Steven Creech Scourge of Worlds: The DVD ....................................................... by Steven Creech 100 68 117
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Chris DesRuisseau (order #2353113)

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including modern. e past few months and the next several are proving to be quite a ride for my career in the RPG industry. Remember during the days of 2nd edition Dungeons & Dragons® there was a game system based on a d30 put out by. ere are very visible spoofs of e Lord of the Rings. but there are also some very subtle things that anyone involved in the actual RPG publishing business will find to be hysterical. ere are games for the FUZION system. we are still writing it. and Testament (Green Ronin). Oathbound: Arena (Bastion Press) will likely be out around the time of Gen Con and finally. An artist by the name of Phillip James has produced some truly fantastic images along with some by RB Hall. Fields of Blood (another mass combat book from Eden Studios). is is one of those books. I have my hands in other projects and more than a few offers so.RANDOM ROLLS AND OFF TANGENT THOUGHTS Welcome to the Summer issue of d20Zine! Getting this issue out took a little more time than normal largely due to real life inserting itself into my priorities (a long list. there are certainly other alternatives that aren’t inferior in any way. Dweomercraft: Familiars (E. We’ve got a brand new exclusive cover by artist Michael Loh. Star Wars. Chris DesRuisseau (order #2353113) summer 2003 4 . Simply put. a campaign setting where evil rules and players are among the few heroes left to oppose it. I am quite anxious to see Cry Havoc (a mass combat book from Malhavoc Press). product reviews galore. Even though it is a book designed for e Hunt: Rise of Evil campaign world. the reader. d20Zine! Publisher and Editor-In-Chief d20zine 1 . Trust me when I say there are several ‘insider’ jokes. Stargate SG-1 Role-Playing Game (Alderac Entertainment Group). this book is incredible. legendary classes. a d20 Modern® campaign setting that brings fantasy right smack into the modern world. which I won’t go into). If you haven’t seen the press release. Not only have I accepted the position of Director of Marketing and Media Relations with Bastion Press. just different. A visit to RPGNOw. e quality of d20 products continues to improve with each passing month and each passing release. the d20 system owns a significant percentage of that market. Midnight (from Fantasy Flight Games). there are certain books due for release in the next couple of months that I am looking forward to reading. Decipher has its CODA system (which is basically d20-Lite). Of all. Celtic characters. a company named e Armoury? While d20 is clearly the top dog in the genre. probably around October you will see the first book that Kevin and I have written for Mystic Eye Games called Dark Walkers. Now if only Wizards would put it into the d20 Modern SRD so designers could have fun with it. but also this summer will see the publication of no less than four books that I had a hand in crafting. For those of you who appreciate humor and have an appreciation for the publishing industry. Urban Arcana (from Wizards of the Coast). is is a book that is filled with potential. Now d20 Modern players can still play dwarves and elves if they want to. and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Stop by the Bastion Press booth at Gen Con and take a look for yourself if you don’t happen to see the book before then. it’s a secret project but if you ask us at Gen Con. November will also see the release of another project from Bastion Press that many folks have been chomping at the bit to have. On everyone’s minds are the new 3. It’s rare when a book makes me go “Wow” within the first few minutes of examining it. I think you will agree it is some of Bastion’s best art to date.Steve Creech. ink of it as a kind of Book of Vile Darkness for player characters.com illustrates this difference quite well when you take the time to browse through the multitude of pdf titles (see RPGNow’s semi-monthly emagazine Downloader Monthly for a taste). original and has truly captured my attention (and imagination) while reading it. Some of the better stuff to be released lately has been: Dark Inheritance (from Mythic Dreams Studios). whose work continues to blow me away. a d20 Modern® campaign sourcebook that combines elements of horror and fantasy and blends it nicely into a modern day setting. Right now. From Stone to Steel (from MonkeyGod Enterprises). Babylon 5 Role-Playing Game (Mongoose Publishing). I believe. is one has been very exciting to write because we get to cut loose a little and show you.5 edition core rulebooks from Wizards of the Coast followed closely by Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed. we’re a little behind the deadline). we might be persuaded to tell… Of course. but I have to say that they will be astonished at the artwork in this book. how to have fun playing an evil character. Personally.N. respectively). Into the Green (Bastion Press) is due to be released any day now followed by Torn Asunder: Critical Hits (Bastion Press) on July 14th. and some great articles by fantastic writers. take a few minutes to download Fantasy Flight Games’ parody video Lord of the Games. Companies that once struggled to get it right are doing better. but there is still a lot of quality merchandise that doesn’t rely on that particular system. I will likely have more news to fill you in on. the information in the book will work in just about any setting. Of course. come September’s issue. We have short fiction based on the Babylon 5 universe. but it is likely the funniest thing you’ve seen in a long while. It is refreshing. while companies that have always performed well are still publishing top-notch stuff. is issue is filled with a lot of great material. Publishing) will see the light of day within the next month or so. is one has all of the best elements of a fantasy campaign and is a breath of fresh air in an overcrowded genre. I am most excited about Torn Asunder because I had a huge hand in determining the artwork for the first time. Many folks have lamented the decision by Bastion to go black & white. It consists of two parts and does require a broadband connection due to their size (44 meg and 47 meg. At the moment. a hardcover supplement that puts a historical perspective on weapons and armor. the FUDGE system. Do you realize just how truly massive the role-playing game market is? Granted. and other games even develop their own internal system based on any number of dice combinations. but with luck should finish by the end of June (yes.

and the related plot hooks can be easily incorporated into any campaign world. the GM may select an additional bonus language suitable to their campaign world. Many years ago. such as Terran).. Blarney Stone*. Will +1. +1 Dex). SQ Scent. Although the new ruler tried to extinguish any possible challenge to his authority. Scry +5. Face/Reach 2-1/2ft. Although one would expect a power struggle to eventually engulf two such powerful families within the same country. the contest was declared a tie for the first time in the history of the website. Wis 12.com with and secondary damage: 1d6 “d20Zine feedback” in the subject Constitution. SA Favored Enemies../0ft. Skills and Feats: Animal Empathy +6. or Scottish descent. Woodland Stride. DC 11. Special Attacks: Favored Enemies (Ex): +2 vs.. AL NG. harp/lyre. below]. Handle Animal +8. Str 13. Con 11. Languages: Common. Irish. Bard Spells per Day: 6/5/3 (bonus 1st level spell for 13 Cha). After a long and bitter war. +3 keen silver daggers (3). AC 17. the kingdom fell under attack. Dex 17. the king and the stewards were deposed and a new ruler assumed control. while the noble line of stewards was of the other. +1 racial bonus to Listen. +1 (Due to header and let us know what you think. by 2-1/2ft. Patrick’s Day holiday by having contestants create an NPC fitting of Celtic. issues? Drop us an email at Poison (Ex): Initial S_Creech@d20zines. Search +13. +3 keen silver dagger) or +18/+13/+8 melee (1d6+3. Str 6. Lord High Steward of the Realm Copyright 2003. Perform (harp/lyre) +9. Height 5 ft. +1 vs. rope of climbing. flesh to stone staff) or +19/+14/+9 ranged (1d4+4/crit 17-20. it was evident that a lot of thought time and effort went into them and therefore. Spd 30ft. Wis 18. Lord High Steward of the Realm. Nature Sense. a real-world based language [see Languages in Celtic Campaigns. Spot +11. Here are those entries and their respective authors. Base DC 11+spell level. Hi there!!! I love the zine and the new opening artwork looks excellent. Uneek: Viper. or any other non-restricted language specified in the PHB. I n March. Track. It was interesting to see how the rules had changed/clarified from when the game first came out. Medium-size Humanoid (half-elf ). Background Keep up the good work. AL N. Possessions:+4 frost scimitar . Special Qualities: Bardic Music: Countersong. Venom Immunity. Wilderness Lore +14.. While only receiving two entries for this contest. and Spot checks. two families ruled over the Realm . Weapon Focus (scimitar). Tiny animal. Cha 13. Base DC 15. Half-elven Traits: Immune to sleep spells.moore@ingrammicro. SQ bardic. the specifics of his country (herein referred to as “the Realm”). Atk +5 melee (poison. Alertness. 3/day). swim 15ft. Hide +5. Druidic. SA Poison. Ranger Spells per Day: 2 (bonus 1st level spell for 18 Wis). Move Silently +6. touch 11. Use Magic Device +9. ring of animal friendship. Intuit Direction +9. Iron Will. or large. Trackless Step. Bardic Knowledge +8. the stewards took the protection and well-being of the country and its people every bit as seriously as the king himself. Int 16. Knowledge (history) +11. hp 1: Init +3 (Dex). flat-footed 17. Listen +12. Perform (oratory) +9. rumors persisted that several members of the royal and steward families escaped and went into hiding. rope of entanglement. e royal line of kings was descended from one. Elven. Sylvan. Druid Spells per Day: 6/5/5/4/3/1 (bonus 0/1/1/1/1 for 18 Wis). Draconic. Druidic Traits: Animal Companion (Uneek). hp 118. gloves of swimming and climbing. Low-light Vision.com jointly. Fascinate. it’s current rulership. Great Fortitude. backpack. Note: Although Fergus is definitely a Celtic/Irish/ Scottish-influenced character. bite). Ref +12. his background. HD 1/4d8. Sense Motive +12. ring of warmth. 6 in. the d20 Magazine Rack ran a contest that paid homage to the St. Use Rope +6. male halfelf Brd5/Drd9/Rgr6: CR 20. vestments of faith. SV Fort+2. Will +18.. Dragons. Jump +3. Wild Shape (small.Exiledvalthonis@wmconnect. +2 saving throw bonus against Enchantment.com) Section 15: Fergus Fitz Walter. * See New Magic Items below. two flesh to stone staves* (29 and 38 charges remaining). Weight 170 lb. Spd 15ft. druidic. Your letters will be posted in this column in the next issue of d20Zine!. climb 15ft. Inspire Courage. Lightning Reflexes. Diplomacy +12. occasionally even resulting in a marriage between the two. Acting as much more than just seneschals. Gather Information +9. e king was executed. RAVES AND RANTS Cha 2. the families were very close. Endurance. Int 1. Spot +8. Init +5. such as a local language spoken by a Celtic-based culture in their world. medium. Base DC 14+spell level. ECL 8. SV Fort +16. and half-elven traits. Skills and Feats: Listen Have something to say about +8. waiting for the opportunity to rise up and take back their kingdom when the d20zine 5 summer 2003 Chris DesRuisseau (order #2353113) 1 . Lord High Steward of the Realm by Scott Moore (scott. e stewards served the kings faithfully. boots of elvenkind. Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +11. Tiny: CR -. Ref +5.CELTICChris Sims HEROES Edited by AND LEGENDARY FIGURES Fergus’ high Int. +5 leather armor. Fergus Fitz Walter. After several peaceful and prosperous centuries. Knowledge (nature) +18. AC 18 (+5 leather. Resist Nature’s Lure. Dex 12. Improved Initiative. Suggestion. as well as members of both families. e article on the star trek card game was very informative. cloak of elvenkind. Weapon Fiour articles or content in past nesse (bite). Con 14. Concentration +14. +4 frost scimitar) or +19/+14/+9 melee (1d4+4/crit 17-20. Scott Moore Fergus Fitz Walter. and it’s current form of government are left purposely vague so the character. as were several of the stewards. Search. Swim +4. Reptilian Humanoids. HD 5d6+10 plus 6d10+12 plus 9d8+18. +3 keen silver dagger). Heal +9. Atk +21/+16/+11 melee (1d6+5 plus 1d6 cold/crit 18-20.

but they failed to return as well. as the people were eager to hear the exciting stories of their exploits. Due to the powerful magic radiated by this artifact. citizens of the Realm watched the prosperity of their country dwindle away. to the far south. green eyes. For campaigns based on a Celtic culture. Since the takeover of the Realm. the Blarney Stone possesses several limited powers of its own. making it extremely difficult to pass through the area. In more mixed-culture settings. Since he had never actually seen one before. Languages in Celtic Campaigns Uneek’s Story Many years ago. the GM may consider allowing just the families themselves (Gaulish. For over 200 years. and Giodelic) as language options. a legendary saint named Patrick who had snakes as a favored enemy. Previously unbeknownst to all but his closest allies. A small handful of these plants (20 or so) carried on a person grants a +1 bonus to all saving throws for 12 hours. speak with animals. located in a generally open area otherwise devoid of large trees. darkvision. curly red hair. e Giodelic family includes the now dead medieval languages of Old and Middle Irish. as the trees obscure the view between the stones. Brythonic. In addition. the rock must be Chris DesRuisseau (order #2353113) 1 . where characters are likely to encounter many drastically different cultures over the course of a campaign. Cornish (considered dead). ese standing stones are actually the last eight soldiers the current king sent to arrest Fergus. consisting primarily of oak. Fergus’ Grove is a 180-foot diameter circle of densely packed mature hardwoods. endurance. cannot be extended beyond the 12-hour window. a field. Fergus was a member of an adventuring party that started to gain notoriety throughout the Realm. and an extremely friendly. is circle is a little harder to see. they saw Fergus’ claim as a challenge to their authority and sent a group of their finest soldiers to bring Fergus in. in hopes of tracing the bloodline. e only guideline is that is must be out of sight range of any populated urban center. a hillside. as a tribute to its special status within the Realm. Fergus was actually descended from the noble line of stewards that once ruled the Realm. As a third option. and brought it back with him to the Realm. When word reached the Realm’s current ruling family. He has a round. and thickets and briars cover the ground. While not diminishing the power of its parent artifact. were Fergus got his first glimpse of a real snake. as the new ruling family was more concerned with increasing their wealth and power than attending to the needs of the people and their country. hiding. and jovial demeanor.000pp. his very claim of the noble title has inspired as much uneasiness in the current ruling family as it has pride in the people