Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Memories: My Local Record Store

So, it finally happened. My favorite local record store closed up shop.

It's funny and kind of coincidental, because just recently while walking to the bank a few weeks ago, I was thinking about how lucky I am to live where I live - I have, within a short two-to-three block walking distance from my house, the following: a pub (beer and wine only, but they have like 58 beers on tap), an independent new and used record store, a branch of my bank, a few different local mom-and-pop (non-chain) restaurants, a comic book store, and most importantly to me, an awesome local game shop called Game Empire. (Okay, I'll admit that it's tough to choose whether the pub or the game shop rank as #1, but as they're nearly across the street from each other, a trip to one nearly always includes a trip to the other).

Slightly further afield, for about a 15-20 minute walk, is one of the largest independent bookstores in California - Vroman's.

So, I was feeling good about where I live, and I still don't have any complaints.  But, last week I was dismayed when, while walking home from the mailbox I rent for my home-based business, I planned to pop into my local record store, Penny Lane, and found that it was permanently closed.

There had been some rumblings for awhile - they mentioned that they might be moving, and the stock of used CDs, vinyl, and DVDs was not being replenished as quickly as before, resulting in lots of empty racks that just looked kind of sad and almost forgotten.

A sign on the door proclaimed that we could follow their continuing adventures on their website, which I checked out after walking home and discovered that they had moved about 20 miles East to Upland, "20 non-rush hour minutes east of Pasadena."  Well, I'm not sure when they think we'd be visiting, but this is Southern California, so "non-rush hour" is a mythical state of existence akin to achieving the status of a demi-god in a fantasy role-playing game: it's a rare occurrence if it happens at all, and if it does happen, chances are you're probably tired of the whole thing anyway and ready to move on.

I don't see myself driving to Upland any time soon to visit Penny Lane's new location. The fact that they are now only open on Saturdays just adds salt to the wound, although in retrospect it doesn't really affect me since, as I mentioned, I don't see myself driving out there.  There are two other used record stores here in Pasadena, and one isn't all that far (it's not a four minute walk like Penny Lane was, but I can walk there in about 20 minutes or so).

Obviously there are parallels to other types of niche retail outlets, in particular game shops. Penny Lane has moved almost all of their old inventory online, and they're attempting to set up some functionality where you can sign up to be notified when "new" music (people selling their old stuff) comes into the store, and you can of course "browse" their online catalog.

But, it's not the same as being in the store, hearing a bunch of different kinds of music being played overhead, and seeing someone pick up a record and asking him, "Hey, is that any good?" or saying, "Hey, if you like that, then you'll love this!"  My wife, ever the constant marketer, refers to this as "discovery" in marketing speak.

Yes, the Penny Lane website could probably set up an online playlist so while "browsing" through their list of titles (which, no doubt, I'd probably end up viewing just by text links versus seeing cover art) and I could stumble across a song that sounds good and click through to buy it. But, the social aspect is of course missing.

I know a lot of people bemoan this, but for all of the convenience that online shopping provides, and believe me, I use it a lot and appreciate it for what it is, for certain things (music and games among them), there is a sense of shared social experiences that is lost when one simply sits at their desktop or uses an iPad or smartphone to browse through a list of inventory without the opportunity to ask people, in real time, "What's that like?" or sharing, "Did you ever see these guys in concert?" or even, "I played that game once and the GM was a total bastard..."

I'm obviously not alone with these feelings, but more and more I'm finding that people are becoming more accepting of the fact that niche retail outlets, that provide a "safe" environment for people with shared interests to gather and talk about their favorite things, are giving way to more cost-efficient online stores with less overhead.

In the process, I think we lose part of ourselves and what makes us human, but maybe it's just me.

What are your thoughts?

Hanging: Home Office (laptop)
Drinking: Tap water. Planning on a Sancerre for dinner.
Listening: "Break My Heart" by La Sera

Monday, April 23, 2012

More On Experts

After getting some interesting comments regarding all of the (un-published) work I did on the 3.5 Expert class, I wrote a quick post over on Google+ about it, and it looks like I'm going to try to edit everything together and package it either as a free download or as a very inexpensive (like $0.99) sourcebook.

I'm envisioning this to be a bit beyond the scope of the original framework I was using (which was, basically, how to take the 3.5 NPC Expert class and use it as a Player Character class by adding cool new feats, prestige classes, equipment, and all that kind of stuff).  That will still be a big part of the book, but I'm thinking it will also be a resource for DMs looking to make some unique non-adventuring NPC types, and also would be a fun thing to use for old-school types who are trying to round out their party via hirelings and henchmen.

What I'm thinking is that it will be a combination player and DM resource, paying a bit of homage to the 2E era Sages & Specialists book. Did any of you own that? It was basically a DM guide for creating non-adventuring NPCs (obviously, Sages, but also things like Apothecaries and Appraisers, each of which had their own experience point progressions, class abilities, and unique skills).

All that said, I have a bunch of notes but need to go back and flesh things out in some sections, and also update it to Pathfinder rules versus 3.5.  Also, since I've never self-published anything before, I'm looking for some input and guidance from all of you. I definitely don't want to go through all of the work to do something like this if no one is going to make use of it. So, my questions are a combination of game mechanics as well as some functional questions about how to go about creating something like this.

1) Where is a good source for art if I'm trying to self-publish and might potentially just give the project away for free, or at best for a very small fee like $0.99 or $1.99?  Greg Christopher over on G+ suggested using some stock art at RPGNow, which I'm definitely going to take a look at. Any other suggestions?
2) What are some good page layout tools I can use without spending any money and that don't have steep learning curves?
3) Since this was originally intended to be a 3.5 Project, I'll be updating it to Pathfinder. The original version included a lot of Prestige Classes, which have kind of fallen out of favor with Pathfinder. Should I still include these, or just take them out?
4) Would there be any interest in me "converting" this to an OSR ruleset like Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord? I'm thinking that I'm not really inclined to do this mainly because a lot of this book was "crunch" elements like Character Concepts (which could be used without the mechanical elements in any fantasy-type game), Multi-Class Combos, and Prestige Classes, that wouldn't really have any equivalent in a rules-light OSR type game. But if there's enough interest I could try to figure it out.
5) Would any of you be interested in offering some playtesting advice of different pieces of the sourcebook that you use in your games prior to final publication?

Thanks, everyone. I look forward to your comments.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Of Aristocrats and Experts, Part II

Yesterday, I wrote about how I came to eventually write (and have published) The Quintessential Aristocrat for Mongoose Publishing (which, I've learned, is now on-sale on RPG for the bargain price of $3.99! I don't get any royalties for this, so it's not a gratuitous plug).

   I Get Some Great Reviews

So, picking up where the story left off, the book came out and I ended up sending it over to a bunch of people for some reviews, including Crothian over at ENWorld (that review seems to be long-gone), and also my friend Wil (the same guy behind the recent "Table Top" show on Geek & Sundry) mentioned it on his blog which helped to generate a lot of interest for it.

Anyway, now pretty jazzed by the thought that I could actually commit to something and finish writing it, I of course turned my thoughts to "What's next?" I sent Matt a follow-up email in the Summer of 2004 and said, "I know you said that you were interested in publishing some other books in the Quintessential line. Do you have a particular topic that I could perhaps work on?"

Matt wrote back and said that he really wanted to do The Quintessential Expert and that he had in fact actually started working on writing it, but then he got too busy. He asked if I would be interested, and I said, "Yes!" so Matt sent me his notes.

   I Begin Writing The Quintessential Expert

What was really cool about his notes is that they were just a Word Doc and it was obvious that what he had done was take his notes from the very first Quintessential book he wrote (Quintessential Fighter) and then done a "Save As" and started typing over it. But, he never finished, so half of what he sent me was actually his old outline and notes for The Quintessential Fighter, and then the other half were his initial thoughts on The Quintessential Expert.

The notes were quite scant - a very short list of the character concepts (incuding the "Doxy") but no notes about how they would work, some equipment, and sparse notes about new uses for skills.

I took Matt's notes and ran with them and started to come up with my own ideas, of course.  Matt and I never really agreed on a deadline for this one, which ended up being my downfall.  I did a lot of research for this one, because it was a topic that I hadn't thought of on my own (unlike the Aristocrat book), so I felt the need to do even more research. I ended up with a list of Character Concepts that included the Apprentice Alchemist, Blacksmith, Cartographer, Doxy, Demolitionist, Guide, Herbalist, Historian, Inventor, Monster Specialist, Sailor, Scribe, Stone Mason, and Trader. Of those, as I remember, only the Blacksmith, Doxy, Guide, Mason, and Trader were on Matt's original list.

   I Add New Ideas to the Book - Alchemy, Primitive Gunpowder, and Inventions

You might also notice one there that looks kind of out-of-place - the Demolitionist. I decided that in order to jazz-up the Expert book, which originally was starting to look a little boring (I honestly was having a hard time trying to figure out how to turn some of the character concepts into Adventurers), I was going to take a different approach and add a bunch of stuff that hadn't seen a lot published in the d20 system yet - namely, alchemy, primitive gunpowder, and inventions. Those three things were actually going to turn into the core of the book.

For Prestige Classes, my list included the Apothecary, Engineer, Explorer, Forger, Judge, Master Alchemist, Merchant, Saboteur, Sage, Scout, Ship's Captain, and Siege Engineer. I wasn't super thrilled with my Prestige Classes because I felt that they really weren't "prestige" enough - they felt very generic, and that was something about the glut of PrCs that had really started to bother me around that time.

Similar to my Aristocrat book, I created a "new" chapter that wasn't in any of the other Quintessential books at that time - a look at multi-class options (how to optimize multi-classing an Expert with each of the 11 core classes in the Player's Handbook). For each of these, I utilized a relatively new concept at the time - the idea of swapping out the standard level-based class abilities for different abilities based on that face that you had a special "theme." I didn't have any multi-class options for Barbarians, Bards, Druids, Monks, Rangers, or Rogues. But, I had ideas for multi-class Cleric/Experts or Paladin/Experts (the Artifact Seeker; the cleric could lose the ability to spontaneously cast cure spells in order to gain a rogue's trapfinding ability). For Fighters, I had the Sapper, the Artillertist, and the Arms Crafter. For Sorcerers, I had the Arcane Investigator (and I described him as basically like an Agent Mulder type from "X-Files"). They were able to give up gaining an additional spell at certain levels in order to gain a "Contacts" ability and also to increase the power of their Divination spells. For Wizards, I had the Arcane Artisan.

   I Become a Victim of Too My Research and d20 Minutiae

What ended up happening is that I got so excited about my ideas to incorporate the concepts of alchemy, gunpowder, and inventions into the book that I spent way too much time trying to figure out the mechanics. I wanted to basically have a "definitive" Alchemist type class in the book, and rules for alchemy, and I wanted them to be based in historical ideas of alchemy, so I went to the library and to book stores and of course on the Internet. And I did the same thing with gunpowder.  The inventions part alone took tens of hours of work - trying to figure out the mechanics behind the process of creating the inventions, how they should work, what powers they should emulate, and then if all they were doing was emulating spells, then what was the point?

I got mired in a bunch of minutiae, and because it was just sort of a "fun" project for Matt (not intended as a money-maker), he never bugged me about it. Before I knew it, I'd been working on it for about two years, but I was still coming up with ideas. I changed jobs, and my wife and I bought a house. And I was STILL working on ideas for the book.

And then the announcement of 4th Edition came, and with it was an underlying theme, which was "It's so different that you shouldn't even bother trying to convert your 3.5 games. Just finish them up and then start a new 4th Edition campaign."

I was a little upset, but mainly just at myself for never having knuckled down and finish writing The Quintessential Expert. I think it would've been a fun book.

I still have all of my notes here on my laptop. Since at this point it's never going to be published as intended, would any of you readers be interested in me posting bits and pieces of each chapter? It's all based in 3.5-era d20 rules, but the ideas can always be stripped out to use in another rules set.  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: nothing
Listening: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" by Gene Pitney

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Of Aristocrats and Experts

Greetings, Cool Cats, Dames, and Daddy-Os!

As some of you probably know, a number of years ago I was lucky to be able to write (and get paid for) a d20 book for Mongoose Publishing called The Quintessential Aristocrat. It was part of their "Quintessential Series" that covered all 11 base classes and races in the 3.0/3.5 Player's Handbook, as well as some new classes and races like Samurai, Witches, and Kobolds.

A few people have asked how I ended up writing that particular book, and the story is actually kind of fun, although there's not much to it. I had gotten back into role-playing after a long absence from actual playing when my friend Cal invited me to his 3rd Edition Middle Earth (4th Age) game. Somehow, at the time, Cal and I ended up having a lot more free time at work than we both have now, and we both got really into the d20 system, and we emailed each other nearly every day, back and forth multiple times, to chat about the game and what new supplements were coming out. 

I started buying a ton of d20 support material from various 3rd Party companies, and this was a huge thing for me because, up until that point in my life, I'd pretty much only ever purchased games made by TSR. I'd looked at, and played, other games, but I'd never bought any. I think the only two non-TSR RPGs I owned at that point were Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Vampire: The Masquerade (and that last one was a birthday gift from my friend Brian).

Anyway, I was buying a lot of stuff and one of the first things I picked up was The Quintessential Fighter by Mongoose Publishing, and it was specifically because it reminded me of the 2E AD&D era The Complete Fighter. Even the cover design was crafted to recall the Complete series line. 

As I started buying more stuff, I wanted to get better information on what was coming out, so I started hanging around on message boards and eventually ended up over at EN World, which was a cool place to be because nearly every d20 publisher and writer was there talking about their products. 

In late 2002, "Mongoose Matt" (Matt Sprange, the publisher at Mongoose) was on EN World and kind of hosting a "question and answer" type thing in the forums. Somebody asked him about what other books were coming up in the Quintessential line, and he mentioned that he'd like to cover all of the classes eventually. Somebody on the forums asked if he would publish The Quintessential Expert and he said that he thought the idea had merit.

Then that idea got me to thinking - if he's willing to publish a book on Experts, then surely he'd want to publish one on Aristocrats, right? The aristocracy and nobility are two staples of fantasy fiction that I still to this day feel have been under-represented in fantasy RPGs (or, at least in D&D).

So, since this was like the "Wild West Era" of RPG publishing, I just simply sent an unsolicited email to Matt with a two-page proposal for me to write The Quintessential Aristocrat. I mentioned the "Audience and Purpose" for the book and the "Concept Basis" (basically an outline of each section) and asked him to kindly get back to me.

Can you imagine? I'm not normally "that kind of guy" but I was extremely interested to see if I could become a published author based on one of my hobbies/passions.

About two weeks later, Matt wrote me back and, much to my surprise, actually said he thought it was an interesting idea, told me which parts of my proposal were "no-no's" (for example, I had a GM section on "Running an Aristocrat Campaign" which he said needed to come out because these were player supplements), enclosed Mongoose's writing guidelines, and asked me to re-work the proposal based on his suggestions.

And the rest was history. The process started in September of 2002 and I sent in my finished draft of the book sometime before December 2002. I remember having to pull an all-nighter to finish by my deadline, and making photocopies of pages I had written for a few friends to read through to catch any spelling or grammatical errors.  The book was finally published nearly two years later, around June of 2004. They published it as a PDF ebook, which was fine with me. Print would've been cool, but I got paid and I was published. 

The book did quite well on RPG now in the few weeks after it was released (based in no small part to my shameless self-promotion, I'm sure, as well as a bunch of really good reviews it got at EN World and other places).

And that brings me to Part 2 of the story, which is The Quintessential Expert, but I'll save that for tomorrow.

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Copain 2009 Tous Ensemble Rose (one glass left from last night's bottle)
Listening: "Ballad of the Alamo" by Rio Bravo

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Join Me on Google+ and Blogger Shout-Out

Hello, Daddy-Os! 

This is a relatively quick post, but I've added a link to my Google+ profile over on the right, under the Twitter section.  I've noticed a ton of gamers hang out there, and I actually have more gamers in my Google+ Circles than I have followers on my blog. So, head over there and join me.  I'm very intrigued by the idea of of joining an online Google+ "Hangout" game, but I haven't done it yet.

Secondly, I've been thinking about how, since I started my blog, I've "met" a lot of cool fellow bloggers online who take time out of their days to come read my posts and also comment.  So, I thought I'd mention a few of them below as a "thank you" with the hopes of driving some traffic their way.  Lots of these are "smaller" blogs, like mine, with follower counts in the high double-digits or low triples, but of course a few of them are the big guys that most OSR types follow.

First up are five great blogs from five people who have commented here the most (and who also have blogs - a lot of people who leave comments don't have their own).

  • Digital Orc Dylan was one of the first guys to comment on my blog, and we share a lot in common through being fathers and also enjoying craft beer and nice wines. Dylan is doing a really cool OSR project right now, with all contributors getting a free piece of custom artwork of the character they send to Dylan. I got one and it's really cool! I'll be sharing it soon.
  • Once More Unto the Breach Drance has also commented here quite a bit, and was the subject of a little kerfuffle with everyone's favorite blowhard, Alexis over at the Tao of D&D earlier this year. But, what interests me more is that Drance seems to be in a similar state as me, in that he likes the idea of old-school games from our youth but might not necessarily be tied to wanting to use those systems. It looks like he's going to be experimenting with Labyrinth Lord but before that, he was using Castles & Crusades which appeals to me because I'm one of those weird old-school guys who actually likes the d20 system. 
  • Kelvin Green's Blog Some I'm totally lame because Kelvin comments here all the time, but for some reason I thought his main blog was over at the Brighton Roleplayers Blog. Until today while looking up the URLs of each blog. Whoops. I can already tell just from glancing at Kelvin's blog that I'm going to enjoy reading it. 
  • From the Sorcerer's Skull. I totally love this blog, and I suspect that most of you are already reading it. If you're not, head over there right now. I'll still be here when you get back. Trey wrote the awesome Weird Adventures book (there's a link on his blog) which I'm currently reading, and which I know must have taken him forever to write, so I appreciate that he continues to take time out of his writing to drop by here to leave comments. 
  •  A Rust Monster Ate My Sword Christopher's gotten a little busy lately and hasn't posted as much, but he seems like a really cool guy and we emailed back-and-forth a bit a few months ago while Christopher was contemplating a move out to the West Coast and was looking for info on housing, the job market, etc. I'm really hoping that he gets back to blogging soon.
 So, I think just by virtue of the number of comments, those five had the most. But, there are a ton of other cool bloggers whose blogs I love (and read everytime they update them) and who also comment here all the time that I'd like to acknowledge:

  • Risus Monkey
  • The Savage Afterworld For post-apocalyptic old-school games.
  • A Paladin in Citadel I discovered a lot of cool blogs from Aaron's blog roll.
  •  The Other Side This blog from Timothy Brannan is still the record-holder for driving the most traffic to my site.  I'm not sure if one day I wrote a post about a witch or about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or something, but his followers came over here in droves!
  • Random Wizard The Random Wizard is a relatively new All Around Cool Cat here at Daddy Rolled a 1, but he's been commenting pretty consistently.
  • James Mishler's Adventures in Gaming v2 James was, if I remember correctly, the very first person outside of my own gaming group to comment on my blog. He's currently auctioning off some of his old gaming stuff to pay some medical bills, so head on over to see how you can help him out.
  • Barking Alien
  • The RPG Corner Sir Larkins hasn't commented lately, but he used to come around quite often. Hope you're doing well!
  • Jeff's Gameblog Jeff Rients doesn't need any help from me to drive traffic to his site, but I think it's cool that he comments here from time-to-time and also he's responsible for one of my favorite comments ever on this post I made: "I'd adventure the crap out of that map."
  • Gamma World War! I went through a phase about a year ago where I was posting a lot of my old Gamma World notes and converting them to Mutant Future, which is around the time I find Jay's very cool blog.
  • Hill Cantons ckutalik has commented here many times over the past year or so. He's got a lot of blogs but this is the one I read the most often.
  • Roll For Initiative This is a cool blog particularly for me, since it's mostly about playing Pathfinder which is the system I find myself using most often these days. 

So, thanks, everyone! Hope you enjoy the blogs, and I'll look for you on Google+!

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: (Had a Speakeasy IPA at lunch)
Listening: "Summer Wind" by Frank Sinatra

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    Of Recent Adventures in the World of Samoth

    I’ve continued to run my World of Samoth campaign in the past few months, and it’s interesting because I just looked back at my past blog posts about it, and the last time that I blogged about “the last session” we played was back in September of 2011.  In that post, I was actually talking about a session that had happened two months prior, in July.  So, this post is going to be a little bit length because it’s actually recapping three different sessions. 

    What Has Come Before

    The group of adventurers was in the middle of a pretty wicked combat with a horde of undead, including a spell-weaver lich and a bunch of modified “Sons of Kyuss” that I stole from one of the “Age of Worms” adventure paths in a Dungeon magazine I own.  I hate statting up NPCs and monsters using 3.x/Pathfinder, so I mainly do my best to raid my old collection of Dungeon magazines and nab encounters out of them to use in my games.  I don’t even bother doing the conversion from 3.5 to Pathfinder – it’s just not worth it and my players don’t know the difference. 

    For a brief paragraph explaining each character, you can see this post.

    Anyway, my players, and their associated characters, had gotten themselves into a quandary. Through a combination of extremely poor planning (or was it laziness?) and the dreaded clock signaling that the session was to end in about 30 minutes hanging over them, the group descended into a narrow, 5’ diameter well, one at a time, without prepping any buff spells.  They sent the unarmored cleric/sorcerer down first because he has a staff that radiates daylight as per the spell.

    Upon dropping into the room, the cleric/sorcerer (Jeremi) was immediately beset upon by a large group of powerful undead and was nearly incapacitated before the next character, a holy warrior (Sombra), dropped into the room behind him and also found himself surrounded with the odds very much against him.  By the time the other two characters, a paladin/sorcerer (Sameer) and a monk (Shao), finally descended into the room, the situation was looking grim.  The cleric/sorcerer and holy warrior had been knocked unconscious, and although the paladin/sorcerer used some minor healing spells to resuscitate them, through a bad miscommunication, the monk had left the room using his abundant step ability, thinking that the paladin/sorcerer was right behind him.

    That’s where we left off back in July of 2011, and sadly, due to work and family commitments, our group wasn’t able to get back together to resolve this combat and continue our adventurers until March, just a few weeks ago!

    The Group Reconvenes

    Picking back up, we’ve had two sessions in March and our next session is planned for April 29th.  It promises to be a big one based on what happened last time.  A quick recap:

    17th of Ebupell, 504 D.E. (for a calendar of the World of Samoth, see here), Free City of Ryn

    With Jeremi and Sombra raised to consciousness via the minor magical healing of Sameer, things might have been looking up for the adventurers but for the disappearance of Shao, the mysterious Eastern monk who had just recently joined their company.  Shao had fled at the first sign of adversity and it didn’t look like he’d be coming back to help.  Drawing upon his arcane sorcery, Jeremi summoned a wall of force to divide the undead foes, and Sameer and Sombra rushed into the horde, felling many of the foul creatures.  As suddenly as he had disappeared, Shao returned, seeming to step out of nothingness to engage in hand-to-hand combat with the undead lich leader.  With superhuman speed, Shao dispatched all of the lich’s mirror images and then succeeded in taking down the lich itself using a power he calls ki.  The remaining undead were destroyed, and the Company returned to the headquarters of the Ishari Lier to speak with the undead elven guardian who had sent them on their mission.  He had been busy translating the journal of their former comrade, Usoruhihn, and had discovered that Uso had joined the Company specifically with the hope of being able to find seven ancient artifacts he was trying to collect for some unknown purpose.  He noted in his journal that most of the world’s major religions utilized the number “seven” as a common motif and many in fact even mentioned seven powerful artifacts, but in each instance, the list of artifacts was different.  Uso believed that he had “cracked the code” and knew which artifacts to recover, and even suggested in his notes that at least one, if not two, of the artifacts were in the possession of the Company without their knowledge. 

    Uso’s Discoveries of Ancient Secrets

    Uso’s other notes involved discovery of the “folds in space” which seemed to connect different planes of existence and allow other dimensions to manifest themselves on this planet (a concept that the elven lich translated the journal had difficulty explaining because he had no context for how to explain this discovery), as well as notes about the “six original sisters” who seemingly were the progenitors of the elven race and the mothers of the six types of pureblood elves.  Further investigation had revealed that the “proto-elves” had also seemed responsible for the creation of all of the other humanoid races of the world, which had acted as a form of slave-labor for the ancient fae elves. 

    With this information, the Company left to plot their next move.

    18th of Epubell, 504 D.E., Free City of Ryn

    Jeremi attended the Basilica of Hallowed Tolnan, the largest Ætonist cathedral he had ever seen in his life.  He had heard rumors that the old Pontifex Rex had died and a new one had been elected.  Entering the church in his Illumination garb, he was saluted and treated with the proper amount of respect and fear by the guards outside the Basilica.  Gazing in wonder at the inhumanly high ceilings and the majesty of marble, gold, and platinum adorning the place of worship, Jeremi was met by Archcleric Elek Rigatos, who had received a note from a messenger from the West addressed to Jeremi.  The Archcleric mentioned that many similar notes had been given to him in the event that he should encounter traveling members of the faith. 

    Jeremi Receives News Concerning His Former Mentor and the Company Leaves for the West

    The note informed Jeremi that his old mentor, Cristobal Arino, had been elected to office of Pontifex Rex after the death of the previous leader, and that his coronation was imminent.  It served as an official invitation for Jeremi to return home to witness the coronation, along with his companions, or failing that, to return as soon as possible to pay his respects to his former teacher.  The note mentioned that, as a member of the Illumination, Jeremi could command the Archcleric to secure the services of a ship to bring him and his comrades back to Esoría.

    19th of Epubell through the 13th of Saarh, 504 D.E., at sea

    The Company boarded the Esorían ship Represalia (Reprisal), which turned out to be a slaving ship owned by the vile Radillar family, with whom many members of the Company had had dealings before in one manner or another.  While on board, an argument broke out between Jeremi and Sameer regarding the status of the slaves and what should be done about them.  Jeremi argued that they were serving a “greater purpose” and that the slaves should be left to their fate, as attempting to free them could draw the attention of the authorities.  Sameer argued for setting the slaves free and killing their captors.  In the end, the Company used some of the riches they had plundered in Ryn to buy the slaves.  Jeremi intended to later set them free after going through the proper channels, so as not to arouse suspicion. 

    14th of Saarh, 504 D.E., Barríd, Esoría

    The Company landed in the port of Barríd, where Jeremi had spent much time in the past, and immediately secured wagons and horses to make the trek to the Holy City of Arile, the home of Universal Ætonism.

    21st of Saarh, 504 D.E., Arile, Esoría

    The Company Splits and Jeremi Confronts His Former Mentor

    The Company approach the outskirts of the walled fortress city of Arile, and parted ways, as Sameer has a severe distaste for the bureaucracy and bigotry of the Ætonist church. Sombra chose also to stay outside the city walls, fearing that the bounty on his head could get him into trouble.  Lastly, Shao, although curious about this famous city of the West, debated whether to accompany Jeremi.  Later, without telling anyone, he snuck into the city, seemingly undetected.

    Meanwhile, Jeremi rode into town and went immediately to the main Cathedral, which looked like it had been built in an attempt to mirror the majesty of the Basilica of Hallowed Tolnan in Ryn, but which fell just short of the mark.  The Most Holy Cathedral of Dor, First Among Hallowed Patrons was a magnificent structure, but many suspected that Arino would be making changes upon taking power in order to improve its grandeur. 

    Jeremi was escorted into the main receiving area, where the newly crowned Pontifex Rex, Cristobal Arino, sat on a raised dais at least 15 feet above the floor, draped in exotic and rare furs, and bejeweled in all manner of rings, necklaces, and broaches. 

    During his audience with the new Pontifex Rex Arino, Jeremi was questioned as to how many souls he had recently converted to the faith as well as how many heretics he had rooted out and destroyed.  After seemingly verbally sparring with Jeremi, but with an obvious boredom and an air of anxiousness about him, Arino finally announced that Jeremi was a heretic under Ætonist Law and was under arrest.  As a minor official read the list of charges, which included consorting with heretics, blasphemy, using arcane magic, lying to a superior in the church, and fomenting revolt against church doctrine (among other charges), a group of Illlumination Guards surrounded Jeremi.  He was clearly out-numbered.  Arino nearly begged Jeremi to resist just so he could destroy him, but later announced that there would be a public trial "for show" - Jeremi had already been found guilty.  As Jeremi pondered his next steps, the troops moved in to disarm him, and Jeremi glanced up near Arino's throne on the high dais, and saw to his amazement a few of the evil artifacts he had seen before in his adventures.  Interestingly, many of the artifacts had been in the Banevault back in Verundhi the last time he had seen them.  Arino had sent Jeremi there to seal up the Banevault, constructed by the Pre-Ætonist prophet Danar in a long-forgotten age, to prevent any of the evil artifacts from falling into the wrong hands. Or... had he?

    While this was happening, Shao noticed a tail following him throughout the city. 

    Next Time in the World of Samoth

    That’s where we left off… I’m so curious to see what’s going to happen at the next session.  How will Jeremi answer the charges against him?  Will Shao be able to shake the tail that’s following him?  Will Sombra and Sameer realize that Jeremi has been gone far too long and attempt to sneak into the city to save him?  

    Hanging: Home Office (laptop)
    Drinking: Tap water. Planning on a 2007 Fess Parker Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir with dinner.
    Listening: "Some Day My Prince Will Come" by Miles Davis
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