Tuesday, October 11, 2011

That's all folks... until Monday!

Wednesday is holyday here in Brazil, so I’m travelling to meet my wife and to see my parents back in Vila Velha (and also, hopefully, to run the next session of my Chronicles of the 7th Moon Pathfinder campaign to my old players). I’ll be off until next Monday.

Running a campaign where you can meet your group just once every two or three months is both a chore and an exciting challenge. Particularly because Chronicles of the 7th Moon started while I was still living in Vila Velha (today I live in Belo Horizonte, some 500 Km away).

At the time my campaigns usually dealt with lots of NPCs, small details, power groups with different agendas and intrigue-like elements (I was coming from a 9 years Legend of the Five Rings campaign). This is far from appropriate to a campaign with probably no more than 6 game sessions per year. I’m still making ad hoc adjustments – eliminating plots and nuances that my group will probably miss with those big breaks between game sessions.

I find interesting to see how, in these 4 years of campaign, my style and preferences changed. I became aware of the Old School Renaissance and began to read practically all D&D editions that I didn’t knew (from before AD&D 2nd). I also became very much a fan of sandbox campaigns and rules-light systems and while I still love Pathfinder and Paizo’s approach to D&D, I’m much more favorable and willing to run a long-term campaign using systems like Castles & Crusade, Swords & Wizardry and such instead of Pathfinder (actually, I struggling to adjust my Pathfinder, leaving all the complexity and options to my players and running my monsters, NPCs and rules with a minimum of fuss).

My Chronicles of the 7th Moon is a very different game today in terms of rules. I’m using my own hack of E6 ("E12"), together with a ton of house rules and my own Action and Hero Point system (more in this another day). I was also a great fan of Monster Manuals, but I noted now that each day I use less the Pathfinder Bestiaries and more improved monster through lite systems (like this version, that needs badly of an actualization).

Well, these are my impressions so far. I was tempted recently to cancel my campaign and start something simpler; but I was also afraid that I might lose my old group’s interest in the process. They are not only my oldest group but also my best friend and I now that, barring our RPG sessions, it’ll become hard to find other opportunities for use to meet. You can see why I’m having doubts… I know that at least half of the group wants to keep the Chronicles of the 7th Moon; so, let’s see how the next game plays out.

Enough useless monologues… to leave with something more useful, I’m going to post a little information about the most important Fantastic Material of my campaign. Beginning with D&D 3rd, most “fantastic” substances (like mitral and adamantine) lost their mystique, becoming little more than hard light-weight metals (you can practically say that, in Pathfinder today, mitral is aluminum and adamantine is titanium). And yeah, I do miss the old drow adamantine that melted in daylight… it was awesome and unique; and I couldn’t care more about arguments “cheating the players out of treasure” and other useless pseudo-economy ramblings from game designers like Sean K. Reynolds. Drows don’t play fair (at least “true” drow, the first ones, not that insufferable Salvatorian angsty thing). Ok, I didn’t mean this lite nerd-rage. Sorry. Moving on...

The Fantastic Metals of the Seventh Moon

Mitral and Adamantine: I feel in the last editions these metals are becoming almost redundant, so I wanted to make each more unique, both in terms of proprieties and origins. In Isaldar (the 7th Moon), eclipses are not a natural phenomenon, but a planar failure where what you would call the Shadow Planes merges with the Material. It’s a frightening event, full of dark portents and famous for being a time of betrayal, tragedy and madness (and undeads).
These eclipses are called The Darkness (the same name of Isaldar’s Underdark, which is practically another plane below the ground). While each Darkness unleashes vast hordes of grimlocks and other beasts from the underworld, its most dangerous denizens are the Scaedugenga, also known as the Faceless, whose most famous castes are Doppelganger and Myrddraal.

The Scaedugenga steal things that make each creature unique, not only its face and appearance, but its memories, powers, skills, friends until it takes its life and soul. They embody the Darkness and are themselves formless, indefinable and immune to detection. The only things that are sure to work against the Darkness minions are the ancient tradition of the Shadow Hunter (an orc shamanic lore now possessed by the half-orcs of Isaldar) and mitral.

Isaldarian mitral is a silver-like metal hard as steel that glows in dim light or dark environments. Scaedugenga’s Damage Reduction can only be trespassed by mitral weapons and the mere touch of this metal is reputed to cause discomfort or even pain to these creatures. As one of the Darkness’s theme is ‘formless’ and ‘dissolution’ I also established that mitral is my “ghost metal”. Mitral is a natural ghost-touched material, which makes it very useful against ghost and spirits.

Now adamantine. In Isaldar this dark blue diamond-hard material is also known as starmetal. It falls in Isaldar with meteorites and legends claim that these fallen stars are pieces of the Wall of Creation, the Dyson sphere that surrounds the Twin Suns’ systems, protecting it against the denizens from the Nefandous Court of Azathoth. Because of its use as a protection against Cthulhu-like creatures, adamantine is the weapon of choice of aberration hunters (and aberrations usually have DR/adamatine).

Adamantine’s forging is a secret possessed by few Isaldarian races, like the dwarves of Karn.

Primordium: The Fall of the Gods originated the Scar, a supernatural post-apocalyptic wasteland in Isaldar’s main continent. It is said that the Scar was directly caused by the meteor impact of the deities’ destroyed bodies over Isaldar. After the cataclysm, human explorers begin to brave the Scar, facing the now degenerated orcs and corrupted outsiders trapped within the wastelands. Among the most amazing substances (like Godblood) found in the Scar was primordium.

This metal is reflective and shinning like mercury, but almost as hard as adamantine (in fact, only an adamantine blade can break primordium). Its forging is a military secret known only to the dwarves of Karn and Zakzar, the humans of the Melkar Empire and the hobgoblin theocracy of Abannonia. The importance of this secret is because primordium is the only anti-magic substance known. It’s totally impervious to magic and used mainly in the Empire’s technomagic machines*.

Primordium is called Divine Metal because many believe it to be made from the bones of the dead gods. Many religions consider a major sin the use of Technomagic and primordium (except the servants of the machine-god Melkar) and all druid sects are openly antagonistic against technomage and the Empire**.

Orichalcum: Called blood steel or chaos metal, orichalcum is in many ways the opposite of primordium. This substance is heavily saturated with magic and orichalcum blades and armors are easily recognized by their bright red and lightly sparkly sheen. It’s a heavy metal, being a little cumbersome for things like armors and shield.

Orichalcum is Isaldar’s magic plutonium. It strengths magic and casters, but is a chaotic poison and prolonged skin contact with the orichalcum can weaken a creature, drive it mad or provoke mutations. Because of that, most wielders of blood steel weapons and armors use them with prudence, removing it as soon as the battle is over.

While it’s undeniable that orichalcum is powerful, it’s too chaotic to be trustable. Wild magic surges are relative uncommon in Isaldar, but happen with increased regularity close to orichalcum deposits (like in the Vitreous Gorge) or when powerful dweomer clash with pure alloys of forged orichalcum (like that beautiful blood steel full plate +3).

It’s said that the Queens of Discord (the binary planets of Chaos) are made almost totally of orichalcum.

*In Chronicles of the 7th Moon Technomagic is used to reinforce the themes of industrialization and massive exploration of the natural world. To better distinguish it we established that it used an anti-magic metal and supernatural substances (like Godblood, elemental essence and dragon hearts) to power its machines.

**Druid magic in Isaldar uses ley lines – the natural living force of the world – to power its spells. No deity is involved. Because of this, Technomagic and primordium disrupts druid magic (and fey realms).