Sunday, September 30, 2012

Playing EPT Tekumel!

Yesterday, the Aethervox gamers met over at Jeff Berry's house (our traditional game spot, with its vast collection of Tekumel miniatures and props) to begin a new Fall campaign being GM's by Rob Leduc. Our default campaign uses a very simple narrativist d100 roll to resolve conflicts; characters in the default campaign have been created using many different systems, from Tekumel: Empire of the Petal Throne, to Swords & Glory, to my own Muugalavyani Priest of Gruganu who was created using FATE.

For Rob's campaign, which uses the original edition of Empire of the Petal Throne, we rolled up EPT characters for a "fresh of the boat" scenario. It was a great deal of fun. Each player created two characters. Mine were Akho-Akho and Tsuralnali. They are part of a distant island tribe, and therefore non-Tsolyani. Both are magic users. Akho-Akho is the better of the two magic users - his Psychic percentile attribute was in the 80s; in comparison, Tsuralnali only had a 41 for her Psychic skill - just average, no penalties.

I rolled an 11 on the percentile dice for Akho-Akho's ugliness, so he is not going to win any beauty contents. I have a pretty good idea why he is so ugly. It has something to do with his full-head tattoo of an Akho, the legendary "Embracer of Ships". (Note the image in the link - which is part of Brett Slocum's very fine GURPS Tekumel pages, shows a nipple-like bump in the center of the Akho, facing directly up toward the ship above. This is in fact a giant eye. I wonder if the form of this creature was also an influence on the avanc, the giant-eye-from-below in China Mieville's novel The Scar; of course, the Welsh myths of the afanc were also an obvious influence on Mieville. 

In contrast to Akho-Akho, Tsuralnali did fine in the looks department; IIRC, she was up in the 80s.

Unfortunately, I rolled only 1 HP for Akho-Akho. After which I apparently cried out with a great groan that elicited a belly laugh from Jeff Berry. He remarked that this was a common occurrence in the old days: you roll up a great character, only to be felled by a poor 1d6 roll for the HPs. He said this is why it is impossible to min-max with EPT.

Tsuralnali rolled a 5 for her HP. We'll see who survives longer. I have a feeling the law of averages will rule here.

I am looking forward to the campaign!

Oh, and we are fresh of the boat in Penom, the so-called "Armpit of the Empire", a bug-infested hellhole.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Everwayan Table Index

Table 1.0 - Things Found Upon Spherewalkers - A 36-item table, which is broken out into three sections below if you don't have a D36 handy. Rolling instructions for the sub-tables are found in Table 1.1. Sub-Tables 1.1-1.3 each contain hyperlinks to some individual item descriptions!

Table 1.1 - Things Found Upon Spherewalkers - The first section of the original Table 1. Uses a D12.

Table 1.2 - Things Found Upon Spherewalkers - The middle section subset of the original Table 1. Uses a D12.

Table 1.3 - Things Found Upon Spherewalkers - The final subset of the original D36 table. This table uses a D12. 

Table 2 - Strangerside Encounters - Encounters from the wild side of town!A D30 table for Everway's foreigners' quarter.

Table 3 - Encounters Around the Arenas - It can get a little rough here! A D12 table.

Table 4- Encounters Around the Library of All Worlds - Before you enter the Library, try one of the encounters from this D12 table!

Table 5 - Encounters Inside the Library of All Worlds - There's a lot going on inside this library.  A D30 table!

Table 6 - Table of Gates - There are more kinds of Gates than are dreampt of in your Keeper orthodoxies, oh, Everwayan! A D30 table with different kinds of Gates.

Table 7 -Families of Everway - Need to come up with an Everwayan family on the spot for your game? Try this D30 Table! It includes all the canon families and a number of my own creations!

Table 8 - Ten Spherewalking Assassins - Perfect GM companions when mayhem is required.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Plume Family House

Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
"They have three homes and many rooms, but no home of their own. What family is this?" the Family Riddle goes. The answer of course is the Plume family. This family has a special role: they guard Emperor Horizon Emerald, the Great King's Palace, the Emerald family home, and the Council House. They have no home at all, other than where the Emperor and his family lives, presides, and travels. They are born, live and die, and have and rear their children, in the three homes they can never call their own.

But in spite of all this, the Plumes really do have a home of their own: they have an enormous family crypt which stands behind the Great King's Palace. The crypt goes down a long way. It is said to reach under and beyond both the Great King's Palace and the Emerald family house. The Plumes have many dead - often at younger ages than the other families. A surprising number died of poison or implausible accidents. So many that the Plumes maintain their own investigative service, the Quetzals.

The Quetzals have their offices just inside the crypts. They must always be guarded, and not only to honor the service of those Plumes who have passed. What better way to assassinate the King or another member of the royal family than to reanimate one of the long-dead Plumes from the crypt?  After all, do the Emeralds ever look at the faces of their faithful guardians? Would they even notice the walking dead?

Periodically, the Plumes hire adventurers - usually, expendable Strangers - to explore the tunnels beyond their crypt-demesnes. Inquiries should be directed to the Quetzals at the crypt. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Morningsong Family Shrine

Dirty Father Thames

The Morningsong family collect night soil from the residents of Everway-proper as well as from the residents of Strangerside, selling it to farmers for fertilizer. Their carts creak through the city in the early morning, as family members sing out "Brown gold!" to collect the contents of chamberpots. By noon, most of the Morningsongs have returned to their mud-dome clan house for collective worship, followed by a midday clan feast.

Everwayans who live near the Morningsong's clan house call it the "Fly's Nest" because of its notable stench. There has even been a recent petition before the Council to require the Morningsong' family to relocate their clan house outside the city walls. Surprisingly, the petition failed to pass. It had quite a bit of support in the neighborhoods surrounding the clan house.

Fear played a factor in the Council's decision. They know that the Fly's Nest contains a potent family shrine to the Filth-Mothered Goddess with her tears of excrement and urine. The family's filth offerings at midday worship keep the goddess from leaving the family shrine and ambling about the city to spread misery and disease.

The way the Morningsongs see it, they are providing two services to the city: one physical, one spiritual. too bad no one sees it their way.

Of course, the Council is aware of this.

They know that the Filth-Mothered Goddess has laid waste to other realms. The Council does not want that happening here. The Morningsong family has capitalized on this leverage by securing a significant subsidy directly from the Emerald family coffers for its filth collection efforts.

But some in the Council believe this family is trouble over the long term; no one likes to pay ransom. These Council members think Everway would be better served if the Council had some leverage of their own over the Morningsongs.

They are looking for adventurers and spies who can help them get this leverage...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Slake Family Storeroom
The Slake family are brewers and barkeeps. They have many small shops in the City of Everway proper as well as in Strangerside, where they sell beer and operate small taverns. Their main family house is a brewery down by the Piers.

All is not well with the Slakes. Malt Slake, who is married to the clan matriarch, Amber Slake, has no interest in her or in other women. Malt's eyes wander elsewhere: mainly toward the more attractive male patrons of the brewery.

Malt gives too many free drinks to patrons. He arranges too many late night dalliances in the brewery's storeroom. "Not good for business" complain Amber's three sisters.

Even worse, Amber's sisters have heard rumors that Malt is selling the family's legendary beer recipies to competitors. "Perhaps he is planning to leave you," they whisper to Amber, "and set-up a business of his own with one of his new found friends?"

Amber has had enough. She definitely wants Malt followed. And she wants someone to teach him a lesson.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weaver Audience Chamber

"The Raven Addresses the Assembled Animals"
by Miskin (Mughal India, 1590)
The Weaver family of Everway have one of the most modest clanhouses in the city - except for its remarkable audience chamber. Some have called the Weaver's Audience Room "the Showroom" because after a visit here, few potential buyers can resist purchasing or commissioning one of their textiles. However, items for sale are stored in other rooms.

Nothing in this room  is for sale.

In fact, many of the textiles in the Audience Room are not even the handiwork of the Weaver family. They are from a thousand different realms, and represent a multitude of different styles. Some have even said that the room has no walls or ceiling - that only the textiles that cover them, and that the carpets piled on the Audience Room floor are layered at least two feet deep. One or two Crookstaff have even speculated that the carpets on the floor are piled in infinite layers.

A number of the carpets and textiles have special qualities. One is a legendary Flying Carpet. One of the hangings is called Gateweaver, because that is what it does. In fact, many of the textiles in the Audience Room are one way gates.

Be careful where you sit.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Whiteoar House
Close to Piers' End in Everway harbor lies what was once a great estate. Now nameless, it sits on a small rise. The forest beyond the city is visible from its sad arbors. The exterior is now shabby, and the arbors have gone a-bramble. A clue it its once proud owners sits by the front door: An old oar, badly weathered its white paint almost all chipped off. It once hung above the door of this estate.

From time-to-time, passers-by spot a weathered old salt puttering slowly make his way up the front steps to the door. Over his shoulder he carries the day's catch of fish. Sometimes instead he struggle along a with wooden bucket, sloshing water as he takes each step up to the house.

Sometimes, one or two children or youth will follow him carrying a greater catch of fish or several buckets. On those days, the homeless children of the port will feast with him in the great dining hall. There will be fish, mussels, lobster, and crabs.

After the old man has prepared the feast, he will sit at the head of the table. As they feast, the children will tell the old man the stories they have heard around the city: gossip about the great houses of Everway,  the movements of Strangers and soldiers around the city, and the comings and goings of Outsiders through the gates.

Long after the children have left, the light from a single candle will flicker in one of the upper rooms of the house. The next morning, the old man will make his way back to the piers, find his fishing boat, and row out into the harbor. Hardly anyone will give a thought to the bottle he carries with him to the harbor. It has a cork with a wax seal, and papers within its green glass walls.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Iron Kingdoms RPG

Over breakfast this morning, I finally got a chance to start looking at the massive full color, brand new Iron Kingdoms RPG Core Rules just released by Privateer Press. I've always liked the world, but wasn't a big fan of the d20 system that was used with the original game. I am liking what I see so far, which has characters built around a career system which offers a LOT of choices.

Glossing the book also had me thinking a bit about the kinds of stories you could tell with it. The steamjacks - like the mech on the book cover - as well as the steam trains which crisscross the Iron Kingdoms landscape are all powered by coal. And they use a lot of it.

Which means there is a mining industry. Which means there is labor. Which means there is class struggle.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Strangerside Scholar: Nested Realms

Matryoshka by Guilherme Marconi
Nested Realms are realms contained within other realms.  These may be as large as entire multi-realm spheres, or as small as a hut with chicken legs. Some of the Nested Realms have always been there, embedded within another realm and sphere, whereas others are the creations of gods, godlings, or wizards. Still others embody a principle or memorialize a place or event that has disappeared from the larger realm that surrounds it. That realm is called an Anchor Realm.

It is often said that imploded realms like Bensalem simply disappear forever. But this need not be so. If you know where to look, you can find remnants of lost or imploded realms hidden away safely as Nested Realms. Within an Anchor Realm there is always an Anchor Object that embeds the Nested Realm iwithin that surrounding realm. To find it, you may need to look for a discrepant feature such as a sword in a stone. Alternatively, the Anchor Object may be hiding in plain sight within another quotidian item such as a cup, saucer, pitcher, or bowl in a peasant's hut.

Think carefully before destroying or moving an Anchor Object. That can have negative consequences for both realms. The Nested Realm and the Anchor Realm always have reciprocal linkages. Indeed, every sphere may be part of a nested series of realms.

Travel between Anchor Realms and Nested Realms happens more often than you might think. A gate can often be evoked if one has access to the Anchor Object. But many such gates are also keyed to an object that was created in the Nested Realm but is hidden away somewhere in another sphere.

Some Spherewalkers, like Object Keeper of the Chamber Platinum, specialize in finding these items. When rumors arise of such keys, the resulting quests for these objects often becoming brutal, multi-sided contests.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Green Kitchen

Franz Eugen Köhler, "Atropa Belladonna"
from "
Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen"   
The Green family are sloppy cooks, but they are respected - and feared - as a family of herbalists and poisoners. If you're looking for a certain herb, they'll probably have it. They are a favorite stop of Spherewalkers who have just returned to Everway through the gates. They know the the Greens pay top beads for the botanical curiosities and discoveries from other realms and spheres. 

They sell the specialized herbs, especially the risky ones that the Mothers don't like to use in their healing concoctions. If you have a rat or a bug problem, their poison traps are quite reliable and get the job done. More than a few people stop by to find something to take care of larger pests, too.

Just go down the alley, make a right, and take the back door into the kitchen. You can't miss it from the pungent smells and the sight of herbs of every kind dangling from the kitchen's rafters.

In their kitchen-apothecary, you will see herbs of all kinds piled on giant chopping blocks. Be careful what you touch. No matter how tempting, don't sneak a nibble. Minced, sliced, diced, and grated, these plants and powders are as likely to make you sick as to perk-up your taste buds.

Ingredients get tossed into the Greens' pots and pans that weren't meant to be cooked together. Most of the Greens have been poisoned many times. They have strong stomachs and constitutions, if rather wan and drawn appearances, and have developed a natural immunity to many poisons. Not so their house guests and visitors. Don't bring small children or pets into their kitchen.

Their spiced bread is particularly suspect, but a very popular purchase with household servants among the great families of Everway.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blade & Crown for Sale

Last week, I shared news about Rachel Kronick's very gritty new indie fantasy RPG, Blade & Crown, which had just launched its pre-publication website.

It's subtitle is "Fantasy roleplaying that balances 80s realism with indie narrativism" which hits the nail on the head - with the sword pommel!

I am happy to say that the game is now available for sale through Drive Thru RPG. Right now, it is available as a PDF, and it will also soon be available through there in print.

The link is here:

Our game group was forged (no pun intended) as a playtest group.

So it is no accident that Blade & Crown is the third RPG product to be launched by a member of my gaming group, the first two being Heirs to the Lost World RPG and RPG Inspiration Cards.

What will be next? Check back in a month or so!

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Crookstaff Family Library

We're continuing our series of posts with details on Everway's family clanhouses. For this series, I am using Kevin Crawford's One Page tables for creating an Urban Palace and Building A Noble Clan from his forthcoming medieval Africa-inspired fantasy RPG, Spears of the Dawn.

The Crookstaff family library - it's almost a cliche. Of course a family of wizards would have a library. A beautiful, sun drenched library with skylights in every room. Tragically, the library is entirely empty, and has been for generations. 

Long ago, the Crookstaffs shared magical resources with each other. But all that ended centuries ago. The Magistras and Magisters of the Crookstaff family were too individualistic and competitive with each other. It started with the wizard-teachers who demanded longer book loan periods. They treated this like an entitlement, even when they weren't teaching or conducting research.

Then there were the wizards who forgot to "return" books to the library altogether. And students sneaking into the library at night to steal books  Gradually, each wizard opted to remove books from the commons and to create their own personal library. Finally, the whole thing was privatized.

Then the library was sealed. It is said that when the stars are right you can still see the ghosts of long-passed scholars looking for the missing books.

So today, the Crookstaff clan house has many different libraries - each off limits to all but one wizard and their apprentice.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Host Home Troubles
This kind of thing could happen in any Host home, and it happens more often than the Host family cares to admit. The family offer hospitality to travelers. Sometimes travelers overstay their welcome, or take advantage of their Hosts in other ways. Guests may fail to tip, or not pay, be rude to family members, or even abuse the servants. (And yes, the Host family hires servants, although they take pride in making it difficult for guests to determine who is a Host and who is a hireling.)

But sometimes bad things happen to guests - even visiting dignitaries from powerful realms on other spheres or in the other lands of Fourcorner. For example, in a number of prominent Host homes in and around the city of Everway, there have been a spate of thefts from prominent guests.

Just a day's walk from Everway, and deep the forest, there is a riverside Host inn called The Riversong where a cache of stolen valuables was just discovered. These valuables match the description of a number of different items reported missing by guests from several different Host homes in Everway. No one is sure who is taking these items, but the Host family is desperate to have this matter resolved - quietly - and put behind them. Can someone help with this?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Gold Menagerie

We're continuing our series of posts with details on Everway's family clanhouses. For this series, I am using Kevin Crawford's One Page tables for creating an Urban Palace and Building A Noble Clan from his forthcoming medieval Africa-inspired fantasy RPG, Spears of the Dawn.

As you enter the Gold family clanhouse, you will expect to see fine jewelry with gems and gold everywhere. And you won't be disappointed. But you will really be surprised by the number of ivory statuettes and figurines placed on little shelves and in small wall nooks throughout the Gold clanhouse.

The Gold family are gold-skinned Outsiders from another realm. In their original home, the Golds were known as exquisite metalworkers, specializing in gold jewelry. It is whispered that they were forbidden to work in ivory - the magic was to potent for any but a strong hunter or shaman.

So the Golds content themselves with buying finely carved art in ivory. The spirits in these items are so lifelike that they pray, talk, and dance for them.

The Mask Family Library

YA Author Holly Black
Did you know the Mask family had a library? It's buried deep inside their clanhouse, behind multiple secret panels. The Mask family are officially entertainers of all sorts; unofficially, they are involved in all sorts of illicit trade and activities in the city of Everway [Playing Guide, p.13]. The library is where the family keeps all its trade secrets: accounting books, notes on key locations in the city of Everway, and maps of the Undercity with its sewers, ancient shrines to The Forgotten and Forbidden Gods, and secret storehouses.

The library also has a secret passageway into the Mask family vault. Reed Mask, the clan accountant, has been using this passage to slowly but surely embezzle the family fortunes. She was passed over for leadership of the clan, and intends to run things into the ground for the current clan mother.

Reed Mask has the help of a household servant with this task: Reed holds the secret door open (so that it doesn't snap shut), while servant goes into the vault and removes coin. The servant also gets a cut, but no one has noticed yet that his clothes are getting finer. One of the Mask children has noticed the servant's nice new gold ring with the ruby gem...

This post was generated using Kevin Crawford's One Page tables for creating an Urban Palace and Building A Noble Clan from the forthcoming Spears of the Dawn RPG.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Table 7: Families of Everway

There are about a thousand different Everwayan families. These are essentially clans. Most families are known for their preeminence in one or more specialized trades. A child takes his or her mother's surname. A man will take his wife's surname. Here is a table representing the most prominent families and a few others. 

The families in bold have a seat on the Council which rules Everway. Of course, the Emerald family's representative is a representative in the person of the King, Horizon Emerald.

Families 22-30 are minor families and are my creation. What are your ideas for minor families? Please post them in the comments - I'd love to hear your ideas!

"La Civilizacion de Tarasca" by Diego Rivera

Table 7- Families of Everway

Roll a D30, and consult the table below:
  1. Emerald - the ruling family; the current emperor is Horizon Emerald
  2. Crookstaff - prominent wizards, holders of secrets and mysteries
  3. Snakering - courtiers, diplomats, political advisers
  4. Scratch - scribes and scholars
  5. Crow - warriors
  6. Digger - miners and moneylenders
  7. Stonebreaker - architects, engineers, and builders
  8. Whiteoar - they are no more, or so we are told, having died out during an ancient civil war (a Council chair is left open for them)
  9. Host - offer hospitality to travelers
  10. Gold - the makers of fine jewelry
  11. Keeper - tenders and guardians of the gates
  12. Mother - healers and midwives; with this family, the surname comes first (e.g., Mother Patch)
  13. Moondance - priestesses of Everway's many gods and goddesses - and their guardians
  14. Mask - officially, entertainers; unofficially involved in all kinds of illicit trade
  15. Mudbank - leatherworkers, and the removers of dead animals from the city streets
  16. Tenders - prepare and bury bodies; holy and untouchable
  17. Wailers - ceremonial specialists
  18. Plume - imperial guards
  19. Watcher - city watch
  20. Weaver - weavers, dyers, early adopters of new trades; friendly to Outsiders and therefore seen as troublemakers by more traditional families
  21. Smith - armorers, metalworkers, weapons-makers
  22. Morningsong - collect night soil to sell to farmers
  23. Shore - an ancient Stranger family that manage the harbor and work as stevedores
  24. Potter - artisans of the potter's wheel
  25. Shard - mosaic makers
  26. Flowblue - a proud ancient Outsider family that knows the art of making fine porcelain (estate remains defiantly in Strangerside)
  27. Slake - brewers and barkeeps
  28. Green - herbalists and poisoners (against vermin, of course - how could you think otherwise?!?)
  29. Littleoar - fisherfolk who live in Everway and all along the Shimmermoon Bay
  30. Mender - it is said these tinkers can repair anything that human hands have made or broken

Monday, September 10, 2012

Spears of the Dawn RPG

There was some exciting news from Sine Nomine Publishing at the end of August: Sine Nomine, the publishers of the fine SF retrogame Stars Without Number, are planning to release an African-flavored RPG called Spears of the Dawn. I liked the Aztec-flavored worlds the author created for one of the sample sectors in Stars Without Number, so I am hopeful that we will soon see another great retrogame - and a non-European one no less, which is a very welcome development in retrofantasy RPGs!
It's been a while since there was a fantasy RPG setting set in a pastiche of ancient/medieval Africa that felt authentic, non-stereotypical, and respectful. Nyambe was a pretty good d20 version of a fantasy Africa. But no matter how authentic the version of dwarves was that was presented there, the inclusion of variants of standard D&D fantasy races was a bit jarring. I also wasn't a huge fan of the Nyambe map (although it wasn't that bad): I would have rather they had used a real map of Africa, and then Hyborian-aged or Opared it if necessary.

The Hyborian Age of Conan
At any rate, it is a new age, and I am looking forward to what Spears of the Dawn has in store for us. Here at The Everwayan, we have incorporated East African cultures and artifacts into our multiverse, as well as working with the diasporic elements of West African culture that made its way into Afro-Caribbean religions.

In celebration/anticipation of the release of Spears of the Dawn RPG, we're starting a mini-series this week using something that was just posted on the Sine Nomine website for Spears: a one-sheet template for an urban palace in an African city.

I am going to use that template over the next week or so to generate a series of posts on the clan houses of the major families of Everway. We'll start tomorrow by posting a Table of the major Everwayan families. Then we'll use the template to create interesting people, places and things in the various family clan houses of Everway.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Blade and Crown Website

Core dice mechanic for Blade & Crown
Image by Rachel Kronick
Rachel Kronick, the designer of the roleplaying game Blade & Crown, has just published a website for her roleplaying game. You may remember a few weeks ago, when I briefly compared this RPG to the grim and gritty novels of Joe Abercrombie. I suppose I could have equally said George R.R. Martin.

Blade & Crown was inspired by Harn. Some of the key features of the game are that it:
  • Emulates a realistic medieval society 
  • Offers players in a detailed human-centric fantasy world in which to play (but you can readily use the real medieval world with this game too);
  • Takes a very realistic, simulationist approach to combat;
  • Has a very robust skills system;
  • Balances simulationist grittiness with a narrativist resource management system called Traits that allows player-defined character attributes to make a difference at critical moments in play
I've played in Blade & Crown games for several years as Rachel and now another player in our gaming group have GM'd it . My current PC is named Stabber. That's just his nickname. You don't want to know his real name: he'd have to kill you.

If you live in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, you'll have an opportunity to play Blade & Crown at Con of the North 2013. We also play demos locally from time to time at The Source Comics & Games. Please drop me a line if you'd like to check it out!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wet Planks' Usurper

The biggest long-term challenge that Wet Planks faces is that the foundations of the world are thinning. While planks always spontaneously generate on the inside surface of the Wooden Rim around the world, and flake off into the World Sea, this doesn't in itself erode the World Rim or the Bowl. The World Rim and Bowl had the capacity to regenerate itself. This is how the World Bowl maintains its integrity over time! (Of course, all the sawing and chipping that is going on at various points on the Wood Rim of course does not help!)
The Wood Rot is a different process. It is weakening the world's bowl-shaped container that is due to the natural Tidal Pools that form between wood, earth, and water on the surfaces and even spontaneously inside the grain of the world's Wooden Rim and Bowl. Most of the damage is below water, and deep inside the living, regenerating wooden flesh of the Bowl. You can see its traces in some wood planks on the World Rim, but more often on waterlogged planks that pop up from deep below the World Sea.

The Worms are not indigenous to Wet Planks. They migrated along the Tidal Pools from world-to-world. Normally these are not dangerous - in most places these worms simply manifest as earthworms. However, the isolating nature of Wet Planks has mutated these creatures over times. They've become aggressive, fractalized, forking creatures with multiple mouths - a hyper-aggressive ivy spreading across and eating their way into the foundations of the world.

The Tidal Pools that invite these creatures into Wet Planks form deep below the 30 Water gates that connect  Wet Planks to other realms. They seem to feed and grow on gate radiance. One solution might be to close all the world's gates. But that would provoke other challenges for the people of Wet Planks.

Three groups are starting to see clues about the presence of a Usurper force:
  • The Lumber Ships and Chipping Ships that visit the World Rim have noticed that the world's water level is decreasing
  • Certain cultists  in the Parliament of Hulks and the School of Ruddermen have heard of rumors from the Gill Men that the world is leaking away.
  • Fishing boats are seeing evidence of large scale spontaneous fish kills in the areas near Water gates. That phenomenon is quite new; usually the areas around Water gates are teeming with marine life of all sorts.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Fortune Cards of Wet Planks

The Realm of Wet Planks is characterized by the following qualities:

Virtue:  The Smith - Productivity
Fault: The Hermit, Reversed - Wisdom
Fate: The Fool - Freedom vs. Lack of Connection

The central tension in this realm is between the hard work and productivity which is a characteristic of maritime` life, and the isolation and parochialism which occurs in shipboard communities where people are confined together for long periods of time. People at sea are often trapped in very narrowly defined roles in dangerous conditions.

Even though Wet Planks is not entirely self-sufficient, the existence of the Water Gates and raiding and trading beyond their own world ensures a certain cultural and economic continuity within the realm. However, each ship is like its own state, albeit one with very constrained resources.

Should a Usurper power manifest in this realm, the individual ship-states may not be prepared to recognize the problem or move quickly to address it. For now, Wet Planks is a stable realm; whether it can remain so in the face of depends upon the ability of Wet Planks' people to come together to address current, future, gradual, or abrupt changes that may put its very existence at risk.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beyond The Wolf Gate
The Wolf Gate is a Water Gate located in Shimmermoon Bay. It can only be opened under the full moon. During Everway's Civil War, the Whiteoars used this gate to bring their Ghost Wolves pirate allies to the shores of Roundwander and launch attacks on the city of Everway.

The Ghost Wolves' realm is called Wet Planks. It is a vast wooden bowl holding a Water Realm , and surrounded on all sides by a badly chipped Wooden Rim of the world. All around the inside of this rim are floating wooden planks. Clockwise currents occur nearer to the Rim. Counterclockwise currents occur between the Rim and the world's center point. The center point is stagnant water.

Most inhabitants of Wet Planks live on ships. There is abundant sea life in this realm to hunt and fish. Most ships in Wet Planks are Whalers, Pulpers (octopus/squid hunters), and Fishing Boats. Factory Boats and Merchant Boats supply the whalers and fishers. Lumber Boats harvest World Rim Planks. Chipping Boats take that one step further by landing on the Wooden Rim and sawing off fresh pieces of wood. Carpenter Boats use World Rim Planks to effect repairs on existing ships and build new ones. Match Boats arbitrate disputes, help redistribute hands, and arrange marriages and adoptions between ships.

In the stagnant center of the bowl of this world-sea is the Parliament of Hulks. This is an area of ancient, still water where very old, damaged, and no longer seaworthy ships are left to rot and die.The Parliament is  said over-run by Gill-Men. All illness and disease in Wet Planks stems from this place.

This sea-hulk city is home to small bands of mystic and cultists. The School of Ruddermen is located on a sea-hulk here, although its location is constantly changing as ships deteriorate. In the School, the gifted few are taught the art of opening Water gates.
Some agriculture occurs on the backs of giant island-turtles, which when surfaced will bask and drowse for decades. Turtle Island Folk are looked upon as strange and tragic, yet useful, by the ship-bound folk of Wet Planks. More than a few marriages arise from escapades on shore leaves.
Since many materials such as rope, tar, cloth, and nails are not readily available in the realm of Wet Planks, what can't be manufactured from whale bone, skin, sinew, muscle and blubber - or traded-for with the Turtle Island Folk - is typically bought or taken by force from other realms by the Rough Boats - the far-traders and pirates of Wet Planks.

Piracy is not very disruptive to Wet Planks itself as there are about 30 Water gates connecting Wet Planks to other realms upon which the Rough Boats may prey. The only problems occur when there is a shortage of Ruddermen to open the Water Gates. In those times, Wet Planks can find itself in a war of all against all.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Strangerside Scholar: Fair Foods of Everway

When you have the entire multiverse at your disposal, it might seem like the possibilities for Fair Food are endless. But with a week between gates (even in astral space where spoilage rarely occurs) there are limits to how far you can travel with exotic foods. Even so, Everwayans have at their disposal many, many different foods when the time comes for a street fair or festival. Note that many of the following popular Fair Foods can be purchased year-round in the streets and restaurants of Strangerside:
  1. Jellied Segmented Assassin Worm from Merryflag of course on a stick. The venomous poison sacs and stinging hairs have been removed (hopefully).
  2. Cotton candies from Bliss. Best shared with a lover, so that your dreams intermingle that evening.
  3. Rainbow Lotus flowers from Temple. Their subtle flavors vary with the color of the petal. Consume the heart of the lotus and you will experience a day of exquisite calm. Your Water Score will be +1 for a day. They wealthy often splurge and purchase a garland of Rainbow Lotus flower to wear at a fair or festival.
  4. Fried fruits from Lotus Land, served on a stick. They are hot and succulent. Just be sure your not buying the rotten variety. They are a potent narcotic. 
  5. River trout from Hellsedge. They are surprisingly tasty when freshly cooked. They stink like a corpse until then.  (You can spot a necromancer because s/he will be the one trying to buy raw river trout.) These fish are particularly popular among youth, who often dare each other to take a bite. Sometimes on the first bite, you'll hear a screech as if from the dead. 
  6. The fine wines of Merrybright bring bright cheer to the parties and games of chance that occur at Fairs.
  7. Rock candy from the realm of Granite. This is a naturally occurring substance that comes in several hues from white quartz to the ever-popular emerald to ruby to amethyst. This is one of the sweetest substances in the Thousand Spheres, and is also used to flavor other foods. 
  8. Crushed ice from Frostgleam. Colored syrups (often made with rock candy from Granite) are often added to the crushed ice. The ice is special: it doesn't melt until it is boiled or consumed.
  9. Sky Peppers from Giggle. These are so hot people can literally fly after eating one.
  10. Roasted bush meat from Shift. Caveat emptor. You may shift into an animal form for a day after consuming this meat. This is a year-round favorite among barbarian warrior-refugees in Strangerside.