Monday, September 10, 2012

Ardeni Information Service: 541-284

Northwest Kingdom/Arden/Kapu (2227 EA766C2-5) Date:  541-284

Delphi (of Stamatelos) and Baloq of Abequa were married yesterday, in a ceremony attended not just by her Clanchief, Artemis (the Maragos) but by all the Clanchiefs of the Northwest Kingom, High King Ossian, and the Kings of the other Ardeni Kingdoms.  The couple departed this morning for Abequa, where they will reside.  They were accompanied by several members of Family Stamatelos.  Unconfirmed reports indicate they were also accompanied by an Ambassador chosen by Ossian from the Southern Kingdom. 

As you may have noticed, we've undergone a name change.  With the implementation of Plan Alpha, and the need to ensure all Ardeni are knowledgeable about the changes taking place in society, the Ardeni News Service has been renamed the Ardeni Information Service.  In addition to providing your news, we hope to be your first choice for all information about the Ardeni Kingdoms!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ardeni News Service: 541-276

Arden/Kapu (2226 D577332-6)  Date: 541-276

Clanchief Artemis (the Maragos) of the Northwest Kingdom today formally announced the betrothal of her Clan-daughter Delphi (of Stamatelos) to Baloq of Abequa, with the wedding to take place one week hence.

In related news, High King Ossian (the Denby of the Northwest Kingdom) announced that negotiations with Abequa had concluded with the signing of a formal treaty granting Abequa status as a Kingdom of Arden, with full rights and responsibilities thereto.

With the signing of this treaty, our map now looks like this:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Actual Play - 7th Game - 26 Aug 12

Our cast this week included Tiernan, Gildas, Zaccheus, Lykaios, and Cinnia (via Skype!).

The party had spent the last three weeks hanging out near the starport on Arden, trying to decide what to do next.  In the end they decided to follow-up on their "Colonize Libmon" idea.  They flew to Libmon, and used the launch to locate and land at the ruins of a low grade starport.  Looking around, they noticed a small castle about 2 km from the landing zone, and decided to take some sample trade goods (fruit and liquor) and walk to it.  As they approached, they found themselves stumbling through low, vegetation-choked ruins... foundations mostly, and none higher than knee-height.  Near the castle, they realized they were being watched from a second story window, but the person ducked out of site before the party could get a good look.  At the castle, their knocks were ignored, and they ended up smashing through two large wooden doors to gain entry.  They encountered armed guards but could not understand the language, and after a long frustrating interaction, left a box of fruit and retreated to the launch.

Giving up on Libmon, they jumped to the Peassi system, where they were excited to find an excellent quality starport.  Remembering their problems at Gruvek, they wisely hailed the planet and requested permission to land.  They were rebuffed at first, being told "We've kept our end of the bargain, why have you returned?"  After landing, their only interaction was with The Leader, who explained his ancestors had been given a choice between a planet buster bomb or the destruction of their space launch capability.  They chose the latter, and had ruled the planet for centuries.  He willingly sold them a shipment of body pistols.  In return, they paid with several tons of spice, and agreed to take some violent criminals off-planet for him.  He explained he was a humane sort, and didn't necessarily want them harmed, but they were criminals who had to go.  The party agreed to the deal, mainly because they wanted the cargo of body pistols.  As the cargo was loaed, 9 prisoners were put into the ship's low berths, and 22 more were placed in locked staterooms, bound and gagged.  As they prepared to leave, The Leader said, "Oh, one more thing, we haven't used the name Peassi in 1200 years... this system is called Mitsuko"

In jump space on the way back to Libmon, they freed one of the prisoners to discuss Libmon.  He asked if they might all be freed, and allowed to meet and discuss their situation. They realized fairly quickly the prisoners were not violent criminals, but rather political prisoners The Leader wanted to be rid of.   The party accepted his promise not to attempt anything, and left the prisoners to talk.  The prisoners asked what was going to happen to them and the party described Libmon and asked if they wanted to found a colony.  Instead, the prisoners proposed they go to Arden and teach, since it was clear Arden was less technologically advanced than Mitsuki.  The party agreed this seemed a good idea.

After refueling in the Libmon system, the party jumped to Tralnor, refueled and jumped home to Arden.  While refueling at the gas giant before landing on Arden, they explained situation with the prisoners to King Ossian.  Upon landing, medics came aboard to wake the low berth prisoners, and in spite of their best efforts, one of the nine died.  The prisoners were then split up and taken away, and play ended.

Game Calendar:  541-218 to 541-269

Here's the player's current map of Kapu Subsector (generated at, a great site for Traveller mapping!):

The Ardeni Kingdoms currently control Arden, and the green jump route (hard to see in the jumble) shows that a permanent trade route has been established between Arden and Abequa.  Gruvek has been designated a Red Zone, and Peassi renamed Mitsuko.  Most systems' names begin with "x." meaning anything they know about those systems is centuries out of date.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Actual Play - 6th Game - 4 Aug 12

Our cast for this game included Lairgnen, Tiernan, Gildas, Cinnia, Delphi and Zaccheus.

The characters waited 8 days for their clans to provide trade goods and load the starship.  Their first trip took them to Abequa-36, where they spent a day surveying the system and refueling at the gas giant.  Reaching the main planet, they left their ship in orbit and used the ship's launch to land with a small sample of their trade goods, a pattern they followed on subsequent trips.  Their first encounter was with a local merchant named Baloq, who immediately offered to buy their goods and sell them others.  He offered to act as broker for them, and because they had no common currency, he told them he could act as their accountant as well.  They remained for a week before heading back to Arden.  Baloq requested passage, in order to conduct trade negotiations with the Ardeni.

After dropping Baloq at Arden, they decided to make a long voyage, visiting the Tralnor, Libmon, Cevdoo, and Gruvek systems before hitting Abequa-36 again, and completing the circuit back at Arden.  They were successful trading at Tralnor, and promised other Ardeni merchant ships would soon be there to establish trade relations.  At Libmon, they spotted no evidence of civilization, but while exploring with the launch, they located several bands of stone age primitives.  They decided this would be an easy world to colonize, but didn't bother contacting any of the locals before heading on.  At Cevdoo they were also successful, and again promised other merchants would be there soon.

At Gruvek, they found a world at war.  Low tech nations filled with ancient stone ruins butted up against high tech nations with skyscrapers.  The night side of the planet was mostly lit, but huge dark patches provided evidence of the devestation of war.  While surveying the planet, one of the high tech areas fired on their launch with ground-based laser defenses, and they decided to leave the Gruvek system for another time.  

Upon their return to Abequa-36, they found the second Ardeni merchant vessel offloading goods, and met again with Baloq.  Finally back at Arden, they discussed briefly a trip to begin colonizing Libmon before ending play for the day.

(Game Calendar:  541-121 to 541-196)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Actual Play - 5th Game - 27 Jul 12

I let my players know there would be in-game benefits if anyone wanted to write up the details of the adventure... Player S.H. rose to the challenge, writing in character as Cinnia of Clan Gower... Thanks!

            Well, our adventures resumed after Gildas and Lykaios returned to the Valley, and Delphi rejoined our group.  That left Zaccheus, Lairgnen, Tiernan, Delphi, and I, Cinnia, at our scouting encampment.  The leader, Dimitrius of Clan Savakis, announced that he was tired of us and the prisoners just sitting around and eating their food.  Unsure of what else to do, we decided to build a pit to store our prisoners in - we wanted them alive so they would be good for prisoner exchanges if any of our people were captured.  To save ourselves from the intense work, we had the prisoners dig their own pit.  We, however, built the spiked wooden fence the keep them from escaping because we believed it would not be good to let them be in the proximity of sharp pointy objects.
            Apparently, spending more than two weeks on that wasn’t what Dimitrius wanted us to do either, so using Dephi’s clairvoyance, we located another small scouting party of Uruki.  By the time we reached them, a two and four person group had joined, so we successfully ambushed the party of six.  In our first volley, we brought down four of the Uruki.  The remaining two fled, but we shot them down as well.  All of them were alive, but unfortunately, while we were binding them so they couldn’t escape, two succumbed to their injuries.  We took the prisoners and the deceased and returned to the camp.  None of our group sustained injuries.
            Finally, Dimitrius was pleased.  He even gave us the good news that while we were away, four of our initial captives had sworn allegiance to the Ardeni.  We stayed at camp to recoup for a bit and then found another group of Uruki to ambush.  This was a party of eight.  Although we had more difficulties with this group - Delphi and Lairgnen sustained injuries and Tiernan was knocked unconscious - our mission was successful.  Lairgnen, however, killed one of the already unconscious prisoners.  Delphi, after using her medical abilities to assist herself and Tienan, saved all but one of the prisoners from their severe injuries.  Zaccheus telepathically requested for mules to be sent to carry the wounded and deceased because not enough had regained consciousness so we could move them by ourselves.
            Our return was once again praised.  Dimitrius informed us that other of our scouting parties had not met as much success as our group.  Also, he told us that four more of the Uruki prisoners had changed sides.  Well, now, we had four dead Uruki in our camp, and we had to deal with them, so we left for the Uruki encampment to return their dead.  Zaccheus led our group carrying the white flag.
            As we entered the camp, a path was cleared for us to their leader’s tent.  He told us to leave the bodies there.  Then, he offered us food and shelter for the night.  The food was good.  Once in our accommodations, their leader came to see us.  For the sake of a peaceful stay, we bound and gagged Lairgnen.  Although the leader questioned this, we must have provided a suitable explanation.  The leader’s name was Dylan, advisor to the Uruki High King.  He believed that the king had ordered war because of the Ardeni’s lack of honor and was surprised to see that we were honorable enough to return their dead.  Our actions had pleased him and he offered to speak with his king to see if they could rethink the war.  I will admit now, I wish we hadn’t just hidden the first Uruki we killed in the bushes, but it’s a little late too retrieve him now.
            After a generous breakfast from the Uruki, we returned to our camp and reported the events to Dimitrius.  He then told us that we should return to Ossian.  We did and he called a meeting with our clan chiefs and us.  He informed us that we had brought great honor to our clans and inquired whether we wished to resume fighting Uruki, or if we wished to investigate the threat from space.  Believing that we had done as much as possible for the war, we chose to investigate space.  But first, we wished to improve or skills for our journey.  After a month of training, Lairgnen, Zaccheus, and Tiernan came away with new skills.  Delphi and I were not as fortunate.  I guess I am not meant to learn the mysteries of the Vacc-Suit.  I hope no crisis will occur that will require it.  We wrapped up our time picking what to bring on our ship to trade - our clan chiefs will pay for the goods we choose to bring.  Most likely, our credits will not work on other planets.  Until next time - Cinnia.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Actual Play - 4th Game: To War! (17 Jul 12)

Cinnia, Tiernan, Lairgnen, Lykaios, Gildas and Zaccheus were called to meet with King Ossian to give him their decision on their next move.  After much discussion, they agreed to do battle with the Uruki.  Although they asked, King Ossian would not spare them one of the new-found spacecraft for the war effort.  Instead, he gave them each authority to requisition 1000 credits worth of whatever they needed and then sent them to the Borderlands.

Using one of the newly refitted motorized carts, they drove the length of the Valley and through the Grey Hills in two and a half days.  The Commander of the Watch was briefing them on the situation, when a runner returned with news that the Uruki had finally sent patrols out of the Great Central Plain.

The group decided to head out right away to intercept one of the patrols.  After hiking almost three hours into the Borderlands, they surprised a patrol carrying the banner of Uruki clan Probyn.  Lairgnen sprinted forward, sword in hand, while the others opened fire with rifle, shotgun, revolver and longbow!  Tiernan learned, to his chagrin, that having no skill with a rifle means you're not likely to hit with it, while Gildas found out that a revolver isn't as useful as a shotgun in a group combat situation.

The battle was over in less than a minute, when the last standing Uruki threw down his bow and surrendered.  Lairgnen, still sprinting forward to melee, dropped his sword and tackled the survivor, who hit his head on the ground and passed out.

They quickly stripped the arms and armor from the Uruki, and found that 8 were still alive, but unconscious.  They bound them all, and when the first awoke, Lairgnen attempted to interrogate him.  Although successful, he learned nothing of value.  As the rest of the prisoners regained conciousness, they blindfolded them, roped them together, and began the hike back to the Grey Hills.  They returned to camp by that evening, with 8 prisoners, an Uruki battle flag, and extra longbows, clubs and daggers.

They rested a few days to heal at the camp in the Grey Hills.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Asked by the King to choose...

Almost three and a half months have passed since you returned home to your families.  The Uruki warriors have massed on the edge of the Great Central Plain, but have camped there for the last two months without crossing into the Borderlands.  The Watcher has made several appearances at the camp, and fully fifteen Uruki died before they learned the lesson the Gnomes learned centuries ago... ignore the Watcher!

The Ardeni have been busy with Plan Alpha, bringing technology packages from Alpha Base so Ardeni craftsmen could learn to rebuild.  The warriors among the Ardeni have continued training, as always.  The alien radio has been silent.

King Ossian calls for you and tells you that because of the great honor you brought yourselves, your Clans, and your King, he will give you a choice regarding your next service:  You may lead troops into battle during the upcoming war, assuredly earning additional glory; or you may opt instead to carry the Ardeni Banner to the stars, learning all you can of the other worlds, and of the enemy that approaches from above.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Library Data: Plan Alpha

War raged throughout the sector, as it had off and on for 800 years.  The descendants of the Philosopher Kings looked ahead, and saw only war leading to the end of interstellar civilization.  To keep avoid sharing that fate, they devised Plan Alpha.  They spent years searching for the perfect hideaway, and found it in the Melyn 32 star system.  Settled by the Elekeen right after the First Survey of the Imperium in Exile, Arden was the site of the first planet-buster dropped in the Exile Galaxy, and it was still recorded as a Red Travel Zone, with working beacons in orbit.  Phase one of Plan Alpha involved wiping out the native life on Arden, and reseeding it with a carefully designed package of plants and animals to ensure that life would be easy without high technology.  Phase two involved the creation and storage of stepped technology packages that would allow a people with the knowledge to rebuild a technological society starting with the tools to build the tools needed.  Alpha Base was constructed from a large asteroid, and filled with the necessary packages, then hidden in the outer asteroid belt of the Melyn 32 system and powered down.  A trio of 400 ton subsidized merchants were hidden in the inner asteroid belt.  Finally, as they colonized Arden, they made sure the Red Travel Zone beacon was still active, and preserved one 50 ton cutter in the basement of an enormous wooden structure in the capital city.  Knowledge was preserved in several libraries, and necessary skills retained by craftsmen who would be able to work with the technology packages to begin the restoration.  The use of technology would be kept below TL5 to avoid attracting the attention of any visitors ignoring travel zone beacons. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Actual Play - 3rd Game (1 Apr 12)

Between our last game and this one, the characters have stayed in the town with the library.  Twenty-three days have passed, and the characters spent the majority of the time training with their weapons, while they awaited further orders from King Ossian or Clanchief Artemis.  During this time, rudimentary radios, batteries and solar panels have been constructed by the townsfolk, who continue to hone their skills.  Much of what has been produced so far have been produced by hand, and finely crafted with wooden cases and containers.  Metal is in short supply, so is used sparingly only when it is completely necessary.

As the party prepares to go speak to the Librarian, the Radio they found near the third impact site crackles to life.

"Hello?  Hello?"

When they respond, First Contact asks,  "I’m detecting many transmitters on the surface, where did you get them?"

They explained that they've made them, and are working develop other technologies as well.  First Contact continues to milk them for information, and they go to the Library to learn more.  It is only there the Librarian reminds them they were told by Ossian and Artemis not to give it any more infomration.

While they're discussing it, Delphi receives a telepathic message from Clanchief Artemis, "Tell the Librarian to implement Plan Alpha."  Upon hearing this, the Librarian excuses himself and disappears into the back.  Upon his return 10 minutes later, he hands the party a large stack of plans, and, as before, says to take them to the silversmith.  When they return to the library to ask about Plan Alpha, he tells them it is their plan to rebuild their spacefaring civilization either when it is safe to do so, or necessary due to some threat.  He then sends a runner with a radio to their capital city, to spread the news about Plan Alpha.

Zaccheus, Dara, Cinnia, Gildas, Delphi, Tiernan, Blaine and Lykaios are taken into the basement of the library, while Lairgnen and Alec return to the Inn.  In the library, the party is led to a small room with chairs facing a blank wall.  They spend the next three weeks there, ten hours a day, watching ancient videos on space travel, learning the rudiments of piloting a spacecraft and how to use a vacc suit.  After their training is complete, they're sent to the capital, where they find a large wooden building with it's roof torn off.  Sitting in a now-exposed basement is a preserved 50-ton cutter!  They party is told they are to fly it to the outer asteroid belt and locate Alpha Base, drop off 5 scientists whose job will be to bring the base back up to full capability, and return to Arden with cargo from the base for Plan Alpha.  They manage to take off successfully, and the trip to the belt takes 15 days.  

At the outer belt, they transmit special codes to hail Alpha Base, and manage to locate it.  Alpha base is a huge asteroid, hollowed out and turned into a space station.  They land on the surface, and locate an airlock large enough for the cutter.  Zaccheus manages to fly the ship into the airlock, and then into the station, where they find 49 additional cutters berthed!  The next morning, the party checks additional cutters, and after finding five that work, begin the journey back to Arden.  Zaccheus, Dara, Gildas, Delphi and Cinnia each take one cutter for journey, which only takes 4 days, as the cutters are in much better shape and are capable of sustained 4g acceleration rather than just 1g.  Upon landing on Arden, Cinnia manages to damage the drives of her cutter; but the party is welcomed back as heroes anyway.  

For three days, they party and rest, and then are sent back to Alpha Base in a single cutter to resupply it with food and five more scientists.  At Alpha Base the newer crew of scientists tells them they are to just take the one cutter, and head to the inner asteroid belt in order to locate a trio of subsidized merchant vessels that are hidden there.  They make the inner belt in three days, and manage to find the merchant vessels almost immediately.  Zaccheus manages to land the cutter in the cargo deck of one of the merchant vessels, and they secure it in place.  Zaccheus then manages to fly the merchant vessel back to Arden and land it successfully, where they are again hailed as heroes!  On the ship, the party was able to call up a subsector map; and when they show it to the Librarian for assistance in reading it, he tells them the ship's computer must be malfunctioning, and the data clearly mixes maps from various eras!  It shows both the First Survey and Second Survey borders, but only pre-First Survey data about the systems shown.

Right after visiting with the Librarian, Tiernan is handed a radio.  King Ossian now has a radio as well, and he tells the party the Highsmeet has ended, and ended badly.  Rather than being welcomed back into Uruki society, the Kingdoms of the Valley of Arden have again been banished; in fact, the Uruki of the Great Central Plain have vowed to conquer them instead.  Per custom, Ossian and the rest were allowed to leave the Highsmeet peacefully, but the Uruki of the Plain are already massing for war.  Ossian believes a pacification campaign may well be necessary.  The party is instructed to return home; and after picking up Lairgnen and Alec, are given a wagon, now modified with an electric motor, to drive back to the Valley.  All ten return to the Valley to rest and prepare for whatever comes next!

Actual Play - Second Game (9 Mar 12)

After camping out for the night, the party spent several hours in the morning hunting and relaxing.  Prior to their departure from the Valley, they were joined by Dara, Blaine and Delphi, bringing the party to ten!

Dara is a female Uruki noble from the Valley of Arden.  UPP:  B5B86C/3, Streetwise-1, Leader-1, Bribery-1, Military Crossbow-1; has Clairvoyance and Telekinesis, level 3, Age 30.  Her grandsire is wed to the youngest sister of Tevin, Chieftain of Clan Wyghmore.

Blaine is a male Uruki from the Great Central Plain.  UPP:  A6A986, Bribery-2, Carousing-1, Revolver-1, Streetwise-1, Age 26.  Another recently exiled family, they too were adopted into clan Ludlow by Madden, the Chieftain when they reached the Valley of Arden.

Delphi is a famale Gnome rogue from the Valley of Arden.  UPP:  A987A2/6, Brawling-1, Medical-1, Broadsword-1, Jack-o-Trades-1; has Teleportation, Awareness and Clairvoyance, level 6.  Her family serves under Artemis, Chieftain of Clan Maragos.

After introductions were made, the party set off into the Grey Hills.  The road gradually narrowed, becoming a meter wide path winding up into the hills and then mountains.   About 20 km south on the path, the party came to a split, with a small open place for camping.  One branch of the trail went south, the other due west, toward the Grey Hills. 

The party camped for the night.  In the morning, using psionics, they attempted to determine which route to take... extending their awareness in both directions.  They decided to go south.  

The path sloped up steeply, to a small peak, and from the top, the party was able to see several burned areas about a day’s travel south.  Continuing south, the party stopped once, where Zaccheus decided it was more important to get to the Highsmeet, and he left he party to head back north.  The rest of the party continued on, and by mid-afternoon, could smell smoke.  A few hours later, they reached the first impact site, finding a roughly circular patch a kilometer in diameter, centered on the path.  While the party cautiously approached the center of the burn, Lairgnen noticed The Watcher on the opposite side, standing just inside the line of felled, burned trees.  He attempted to get to him, but The Watcher turned, and headed into to trees.  Lairgnen was unable to locate him. 

In the center of the burn, the party found a deep depression with scorched earth.  Using their psionics, they attempted to determine what was there.  After much effort, they found a rocky meteorite about half a meter in diameter, weighing about 75 kgs.  Not sure what to make of it, they continued south toward the next burn site.

Two km further south, they found the second site about about a third of a kilometer east of the trail.  The terrain was rockier here, and in the central depression of the site, they found a 7 kg lump of almsot pure iron.  Tiernan brought the lump with him, and they continued to the third site.

The third site was less than 2 kilometers further south.  It was a much larger burn area, almost 3 km in diameter, and the central pit held some sort of metallic wreckage!  The party was unable to determine much about it, as it was twisted and bent, but the part exposed above ground was about 4 meters long, by 3 meters wide and 3 meters high.  

They found padded chairs inside, but nothing to indicate anyone had been in them when it crashed.  Looking around for tracks, in case someone had been inside, they found a small box with three buttons on it, sitting upside down just beyond the central pit.  After fiddling with the buttons, they were surprised to hear a voice, asking a question in an alien language!  Further experimentation allowed them to figure out that one of the buttons was a "push-to-talk" button, and after speaking into the box, the voice responded in their language!

The team asked several questions of the voice, and were told he was a space traveller with a warning for them.  He identified himself only as First Contact, and explained that the Red Zone Beacon in orbit had been turned off, and that therefore the protection afforded by it no longer existed.  Of course, the party had no idea what any of this meant, so they sent word to King Ossian via psionics and asked for instructions.  Word came back, via Zaccheus, who had now reached the split in the trail, that the King would send a team of porters to retrieve everything, and they were to head to the Highsmeet right away.

The party camped for the night, then headed north in the morning.  After meeting up with Zaccheus, they spent several days trekking west to the site of the Highsmeet, and arrived with 3 days to spare.  On the way, they contacted Ossian again, and were told he and his clan chiefs, and the other Kings would all come to the Highsmeet without waiting for their report.  

They met up with several Uruki at the site early to set up for the Highsmeet, and were brushed off.  They hung around until the Royal Contingent from Arden arrived in 5 horse-drawn wagons.  At that point, they showed the radio to King Ossian and the Chiefs, and demonstrated it by talking to First Contact.  Ossian immediately cut them off, and instructed them not to pass any more information to First Contact.  At this point, Artemis revealed to Ossian and the party that while the Gnomes had given up industrial technology when they arrived on planet, they had retained the knowledge of high technology, preserved in Gnomish libraries.  The Royal Contingent then conferred while the party waited outside.  

Changing their plans, the Royal Contingent directed the party to leave the Highsmeet, and look for the Gnome Library.  They were given only the information that it was south and east of the impact site.  Artemis wrote a scroll and embossed it with her seal and instructed them to show it publicly in every Gnome village they passed until they found the Library.  The scroll essentially said that with the Beacon down, it was time to start using technology again.  The team was given a wagon and 2 horses, and began their journey.

Travelling faster now, it took them three days to get back to the impact sites, and just a few kilometers beyond, the path formed a "T"; one path went NE, the other SW.  The team turned NE and travelled.  The only problem they ran into was when the path dipped between two cliffs, forming a gully, and sheep blocked their way.  After passing it, they continued, and found a village, where the mayor had a scribe copy the scroll for distribution away from the main path.  The group passed through 11 more villages in the next two days; staying in the last overnight.  In the morning, they were told the library was only half a day away, and just after lunch they arrived in the largest village they’d seen yet.  

Lairgnen spoke to a passerby and was directed to the correct building.  At the library, a small, nondescript building, they found an elderly man seated behind a counter.  He asked their business and they showed him the scroll.  After they described their mission, he excused himself, and disappeared through a door.  He was gone for ten minutes, and returned with plans for a simple radio.  He handed them the plans, and directed them to the silversmith, with the order to begin building.  He asked what the party felt should be built next, and as they began brainstorming other items to ask about, the librarian told them to go to an inn, and come back in the morning with a specific list of requirements.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Actual Play, First Game!

Today was our first Star Clans game!  We had seven players to start, all from the Northernmost Kingdom, ruled by King Ossian, Chieftain of Clan Denby.  Here’s our current cast of characters:

Lykaios is a female Gnome barbarian from the Valley of Arden.   UPP: 877AB6/6, Broadsword-4, Leader-1, Brawling-1; has Telepathy level 6, Age 26.  Her family serves under Artemis, Chieftain of Clan Maragos.

Alec is a male Gnome rogue from the Valley of Arden.  UPP:  B9CAA3/6, Longbow Cbt-1, Streetwise-1; has Telepathy, Clairvoyance and Awareness, level 6, age 18.  His family serves under Artemis, Chieftain of Clan Maragos.

Zaccheus is a male Gnome scientist from the Valley of Arden.  UPP:  673EA8/A, has Telepathy and Telekinesis, level A, age 22.  His family serves under Artemis, Chieftain of Clan Maragos.

Cinnia is a female Uruki noble from the Valley of Arden.  UPP:  9A686C/C, Gambling-1, Sporting Crossbow Cbt-1, Leader-2, Admin-1, Broadsword-1; has Telekinesis level 12, Age 26.  Her grandsire is a first cousin to Kyler, Chieftain of Clan Gower.

Gildas is a male Uruki rogue from the Valley of Arden.  UPP:  738796/6, Jack-of-all-Trades-2, Leader-1, Medical-1, Broadsword-1, Streetwise-1; has Telepathy and Awareness, level 6, age 26.  His family serves under Kyler, Chieftain of Clan Gower.

Tiernan is a male Uruk noble from the Valley of Arden.  UPP:  78658E/4, Admin-1, Longbow Cbt-1, Streetwise-1, Medical-1, Carousing-1, Leader-1; has Awareness, Telepathy, and a special talent, all level 4; age 26.  His grandsire is the youngest brother (of 5) of Tevin, Chieftain of Clan Wyghmore.

Lairgnen is a male Uruk from the Great Central Plain.  UPP:  8888A2, Interrogation-1, Broadsword-2, age 18.  His family was exiled recently, and made their way to the Valley of Arden, where Madden, Chieftain of Clan Ludlow took them in.

Character creation ended up taking 2.5 of our three hours allotted.  During the last half hour, we began actual play.

During the Northernmost Kingdom’s Kingsmeet, the characters were summoned to the table of King Ossian.  Once they were all seated at his table, he spoke:
“Each of you has been recommended by your Clan and by your Family, as having the potential to accomplish a mission of great importance not only to our Kingdom, but to the other Kingdoms of the Valley as well.  As you know, shortly after the Reformation in Uruk a century ago, Tristan, Chieftain of Clan Denby was banished for blasphemy.  He and the entire Clan went into exile, moving to the Borderlands.  His youngest son, Condon, led us to this Valley, and sued for peace with the Gnomes already living here.  Together, we have grown and prospered during our banishment, and it is time to reunite our Kingdoms with the High King in Uruk.  The Highsmeet, held every 20 years at the shore where planetfall took place, begins in two weeks.  We have not attended since our banishment, though we’ve kept an eye on it each time.  Your task, then, is to travel southwest, and leave the Valley.  You will head west through the Grey Hills, and make an appearance at the Highsmeet, where you will request an audience with the High King.  Tradition dictates he must hear you; and you will use the opportunity to open talks for reunification.  Should he agree, you will let us know immediately, and I and the Clan Chiefs will depart for the Highsmeet ourselves.  I recommend you outfit yourselves tonight; and leave first thing in the morning.”

He then granted them 2000 credits each to outfit themselves, and dismissed them.  As the party visited the weapon smiths and other craftsmen, gathering the supplies they needed, night fell.  The characters noticed an unusual abundance of shooting stars, an auspicious sign, before turning in for the night.

They were roused early by messengers from the King.  “You are summoned back to the King’s tent immediately, for additional instructions before you depart!  Make haste!”

When they’d reassembled at the King’s Table, Ossian again came in and sat at the head, and began without preamble:  “Last night, you probably noticed the shooting stars… I’ve received reports that several crashed into the Grey Hills, due south of the end of the Valley.  Since you’re already heading that way, and you should have the time, I want you to attempt to find the impact sites before you head west to the Highsmeet.  Should you find anything of import, you will let us know right away!”  With that, Ossian stood, and left the tent.

The party then gathered their supplies, and began their trek southwest along the main road running the length of Valley.  Their trip was uneventful, and they passed through the other two Kingdoms without incident.  Midway through the fifth day of their journey, they reached the end of the Valley.  The road sloped up into the mountains, narrowing to the meter-wide path that led to the Grey Hills.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Second Exile Survey: Melyn 32

Melyn 32 is a type G yellow dwarf located at 0607 in the Kapu Subsector, Exile Sector Rasu.  There are seven "planets" in orbit around Melyn 32.  The system is inhabited by the Elekeen, a human subrace that, like many others, were apparently seeded to their pre-Exile homeworld by the Ancients.  Not much is known about them post-Exile, but pre-Exile records indicate their race suffered greatly during the Long Night, leading to their isolationist tendencies.  Although the Elekeen do participate in the New Imperium, they don't tend to allow visitors to this system.  This survey was conducted with only their grudging consent, so data may not be fully accurate.  They have requested (and been granted) Amber Zone Status, meaning travel to this system is discouraged, and only then with their permission. 

M32-1, nearest the star, is a rocky worldlet 2000 km in diameter (UWP:  D-100291-9).  It has no atmosphere, and is tidally locked.  The Elekeen have established an observatory on the day/night border at the northern magnetic pole; it includes a scientific research station housing approximately 400, and a Type D starport.  The tech level listed is based on access to goods from M32-2.

M32-2 (UWP:  A-A7659C-9) is a large world, but with an anomolously low surface gravity indicating it likely does not have a metallic core.  This world has native plant and animal life both on land and in the oceans.  Land-based animals are no larger than 20 kg; limited survey time found evidence of much larger sealife; possbily as large 10,000 kg.  The Elekeen have made this their post-Exile homeworld, though their population appears to be much smaller than expected.  Their government appears to have the full support of the people, though it is rather restrictive of individual rights.  MP32-2 has a satellite roughly 1/8 it's mass which is also inhabited.  Like their observatory on M32-1, the Elekeen have established a scientific research station on their satellite, though we were unable to learn any details of its purpose.

M32-3 is an asteroid belt, consisting mainly of metallic asteroids.  Three separate belter stations were observed, indicating the Elekeen maintain an active mining presence here.

M32-4 is a gas giant with three rings and two satellites.  The Elekeen have established an orbiting refueling station here, but we were warned not to approach; being told the rings create anomolous magnetic readings that would damage our ships sensors.  

M32-5 is a gas giant with two rings and fourteen small satellites, the largest with a diameter of 4000 km.  They have an orbiting refueling station here, and it appears the Elekeen are active on all fourteen satellites.

M32-6 is another asteroid belt, but consists mainly of rocky non-metallic bodies.

M32-7 is a large oddly-shaped icy body of approximate diameter F.  It does not appear natural, and is worthy of further investigation.  Beacons in orbit warned us away from this body; as did several Elekeen system ships.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

First Exile Survey: Melyn 32

Melyn 32 is a type G yellow dwarf located at 0607 in the Kapu Subsector, Exile Sector Rasu.  There are seven "planets" in orbit around Melyn 32.  

M32-1, nearest the star, is a rocky worldlet 2000 km in diameter.  It has no atmosphere, and is tidally locked.

M32-2 (UPP:  X-A66000-0) is a large world, but with an anomolously low surface gravity indicating it likely does not have a metallic core.  This world has native plant and animal life both on land and in the oceans.  Land-based animals are no larger than 20 kg; limited survey time found evidence of much larger sealife; possbily as large 10,000 kg.  No sapient life was found.  MP32-2 has a satellite roughly 1/8 it's mass.  This world was recently claimed for colonization.

M32-3 is an asteroid belt, consisting mainly of metallic asteroids.

M32-4 is a gas giant with three rings and two satellites.

M32-5 is a gas giant with two rings and fourteen small satellites, the largest with a diameter of 4000 km.

M32-6 is another asteroid belt, but consists mainly of rocky non-metallic bodies.

M32-7 is a large oddly-shaped icy body of approximate diameter F.  It does not appear natural, and is worthy of further investigation.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Survey, Exile

Georg II, the first Emperor born in Exile, and second of the Philosopher Kings, directed the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service to conduct a Survey of the Imperium in Exile.  The Survey was completed in just twenty years, and it's publication was hailed by the Court as a sign of greatness to come.  The Survey provided data not just on the 77 worlds of the Imperium in Exile, but on the several hundred worlds surrounding it that were not yet part of the Imperium.  The Survey followed the same standards as the First and Second Surveys conducted by the Third Imperium.  Cyril IV, last of the Philosopher Kings, also commissioned a Survey of the Imperium in Exile.  It took about forty years, and wasn't finished until a decade after his death.  By the time it was published, the Imperium was ruled by the Merchant Houses, and the data was quickly used both to expand trade with the surrounding systems and to guide colonial expansion of the Imperium.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The People

The Uruki and Ardeni stand about 2 meters tall, and tend to be lean but muscular.  Skin tone is generally bronze, hair color extremely dark and eyes very pale.  Women among them are much the same.

The Gnomes are shorter, averaging only 1.5 meters, and exhibiting all body types.  Their skin tends to be lighter, and eye and hair color both range from very pale to very dark.  Gnomish women are much the same, but average a bit shorter than the males.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Psychic Abilities

While psychic abilities are sometimes found among the men of Uruk and Arden, this is extremely rare.  Even rarer is the person who actually develops his abilities, for this takes time, and time is better spent on weapons training.

Among the gnomes, things are very different.  Gnomes watch their children for proclivities and talents, and provide opportunities for them to apprentice to masters... and they treat psychic talents just as they would any other gift, be it artistic talent, a green thumb, or a knack for gadgetry.

Gnomish children with psychic talents are apprenticed to master psychics, and live with them and their families until their talents reach full bloom.  When their apprenticeships are over, and paid for, they return to their birth families and use their gifts in the service of their own family and clan.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Flora and Fauna

Across the entire known world, all flora and fauna are at least partially edible, and most completely so.  While some, such as the grasses, are less easily digested, all plantlife can be counted on to provide at least a minimum level of nutrition.  There are no known poisonous plants.  

Animal life is primarily herbivorous, with some smaller jackal-like scavengers.  Wild sheep, cattle, horses and goats are all found, and both men and gnomes have domesticated dogs.  Owls and hawks are the largest known predators.

This abundance of readily available food explains why the Uruki have always been able to concentrate on their arms while ignoring the heavy labor of farming; families are able to fence off some land, and eat just about everything it produces.  The abundance of sheep has meant that wool is cheap.

It is only in Gnomish lands that true farming occurs.  As in any other skilled craft, Gnomish farmers have poured their creativity into their work, creating huge numbers of regional varieties of crops.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ardeni Law

The Ardeni Kingdoms are a peopled both by Pre-Reformation Uruki (PRU) and Gnomes and as such, Ardeni law is a mixture of the two older systems.  The ruling class of clan chieftains and kings mainly follow PRU, while the lower class families of both peoples tend to follow Gnomish laws.  Conflicts between the two are handled at the family or clan level.

As the two peoples have intermixed, some families from each have taken up the professions of the other; thus in the Ardeni Kingdoms there are now some Gnomish warrior families as well as some Uruki who have given up arms to become farmers or craftsmen.  In spite of this mixing, the election of kings still follows PRU exclusively,  so only a warrior may be elected king, and then only if he is blemish free.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pre-Reformation Uruki Law

The three pillars of Pre-Reformation Uruki law were the Family, Survival and the Oath.

The Uruki Family was sovereign.  No one outside a Family had authority to interfere in the internal affairs of a family, and thus no laws about private behavior were ever created.  Even a clan chieftain could not directly intervene in an internal family issue; though custom and respect for the clan gave him authority to hear cases if brought before him by the family.  Of course, this limit to the power of the chieftain did not prevent him from banishing a family from the clan if it looked like it was necessary for the good of the clan.  

Survival is the second pillar of Uruki law.  Because life on the Great Central Plain was so difficult, capital punishment was never practiced; instead a system of fines was created to recompense victims (or their families, in the case of murder) call weregeld.  This prevented blood-feuds and honor killings, which might have destroyed entire families.  In addition, a high rate of stillbirths among the Uruki meant that women were expected to have as many children as possible; while still performing their duties in the profession of arms.

The third pillar of Uruki society was the Oath, which led both to a structured hierarchy and to the requirement that the all persons were skilled with arms, first and foremost.  (This, of course, had an adverse affect on survival, because no one with any ambition would spend any more than a few hours a day on anything like farming, herding or weaving.) 

The High King was the chief steward of the Uruki, and was responsible for all common property (lands, herds, etc.), which he then granted to Kings, Clans and Families for their use and management.  He had the authority to change these grants as necessary for the good of the Uruki people.  This power flowed downward such that kings had similar powers within their kingdoms, and clan chieftains within their clans. 

One other effect of the three pillars of Uruki Law was the idea that in order to be an effective steward of the Army of the King Above, the high king and the kings had to be blemish free.  Prior to accepting the crown, a newly elected king was inspected by a member of the Ran (doctor/midwife) and a lawspeaker, who verified his physical health and wholeness.  Any major health problem or accident could disqualify one for the crown, and this led many people to spend as much time training for unarmed combat as with weapons.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Traditional Gnomish Law

Gnomish society honors private property as well as public property, and given their philosophical bent, might best be described as libertarian.  Law is not very strict, and is more thought of as custom. 

Society as a whole is considered to own undeveloped resources such as forests, lakes, mountains and fields, and anyone is free to use them, but is expected to manage them wisely.  For example, cutting down trees requires a Gnome to plant new trees to replace them, and such cutting must benefit the forest as well as the individual.  Should a Gnome break with this custom, he will be chided gently to repent and do the right thing; failing to correct his behavior usually results in his being shunned by the community.  Those who are shunned are literally ignored until they repent; and without the assistance of others, life becomes very difficult if not impossible.

Custom regarding relations among Gnomes is based on the same philosophy; what you add value to is yours; unless you choose to barter it, give it, or abandon it.  The trees a Gnome has cut down are his (assuming he’s recompensed society appropriately); no Gnome will touch them unless given permission, or a year has passed, signaling abandonment.

Gnomes practice apprenticeships to learn useful trades, and until an apprentice is released by his master, he may not spread the techniques he has learned to any other.

Gnomes do not have capital punishment, but use shunning to ensure compliance with societal norms.  While not strictly pacifists, gnomes will use weapons in self-defense, but will only attack first when gravely threatened.  Prior to the peace treaty in Arden, the gnomes felt they would be destroyed if they gave quarter, and this was the bloodiest period in their known history.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Social Structure

The family is the basic unit of society, among both men and gnomes.  The typical family is headed by a man and wife; and includes all his siblings and their spouses, and everyone’s children and grandchildren.  Growing beyond this, families tend to split into separate families. 

A clan is typically made up of around 100 families; many, but not all, interrelated.  In Arden, there are clans that include unrelated gnome families, and there are even a few clans led by gnome chieftains. 

A Clansmeet is held annually in the home territory of each clan.  Each family belonging to the clan turns out in force for a several weeks of training, carousing and feasting.  During the Clansmeet, the Chieftain can choose, or change, his Zec (designated successor), an able-bodied adult from his family, but not necessarily the oldest or even his own child. 

Typically, five clans form a Kingdom.   The Kingsmeet is held every five years, or as needed to elect a king.  All able-bodied adults of the clans gather to carouse, train, feast, and if need be, elect a new king.  Each king appoints a zec, at this level more an honorary position of assistant, since kings are elected.

There are currently seven kings in Uruk and three in Arden.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

On These Rocky Shores

To the north and west of the Grey Hills, the Borderlands slope downward to form broken cliffs overlooking the Northern Sea.  It is here that the Highsmeet gathers every 20 years on the rocky shores of a sheltered cove known as the Court of the High King.  The Highsmeet is made up of one representative of each family, each clan chieftain and 3 representatives of his family, and each King and 5 representatives of each King's family.  

The opening and closing of the Highsmeet are highly ritualized, and have always begun with these words, "On these rocky shores, we pledge our lives, to our family and clan, to our King and High King, and to the King Above.  We take this Oath in good faith."  This is followed by the actual Oath, then a long process where each member presents himself to each of the others.  This process takes days, and is followed by a huge "opening" feast.

The Highsmeet lasts several months, most of which is spent training by day and carousing by night.  Should conditions require it, the Kings and their Zecs will meet to discuss matters of state, including electing a new High King from among their number if there is no incumbent.  The High King is not a hereditary position, and the death or disqualification of the High King automatically invokes a Highsmeet.

The closing of the Highsmeet is similar to the opening, with all members again presenting themselves to all others, (though much less formally and therefore more quickly,) and then a closing feast, and the pledge and Oath, after which the Highsmeet disperses.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Valley of Arden

Northeast of the Great Central Plain, the Borderlands narrown to just 10 kilometers wide.  The ground continues to rise and becomes rolling hills leading into low mountains.  This area is known as the Grey Hills among the gnomes, and they have several settlements where they mine iron from particularly rich veins of ore.

Farther northeast, in the mountains, can be found the Valley of Arden.  It is actually a long series of valleys almost 150 kilometers long, and anywhere from 5 to 25 kilometers wide.  The Valley has rich soil, and abundant moisture, making the bottomlands very fertile and the highlands excellent grazing land.  It is home to both men and gnomes.

Since the peace treaty was signed here, the original clan has grown rapidly, having a much lower child mortality rate than in Uruk.  In addition, many gnome families have joined the clan, such that it has grown to become three Kingdoms.  In Arden, the blended culture has allowed the men from Uruk to continue their pre-Reformation lifestyle devoted to Arms; while the gnomes have provided the skilled labor so needed by the clans.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Borderlands

The Great Central Plain gives way on all sides to a comparatively narrow strip of broken terrain, ranging in width from 10 to 30 kilometers.  The Borderlands rise several hundred meters and are marked by blasted hills, deep ravines, and enormous rocky outcroppings.  Streams crossing into the Borderland flow downward, disappearing underground, only to reappear later and merge with other springs, eventually flowing down onto the plain in one of the three shallow rivers that feed Lake Uruk.

Grasses and stunted trees cover much of the terrain, with more healthy looking trees appearing farther out from the plain.  The Borderlands are not suitable for farming, but wild sheep and goats provide some sustenance for those forced to live there. They are home to a relatively small number of Uruki, mainly those who've been banished in the past few decades.  In some places rich veins of ores are found just below the surface or at the base of outcroppings where streams have eroded the coarser stone. The veins are not regularly mined, but some of the banished Uruki occasionally collect enough valuable ores to buy their way back into their Clans.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Great Central Plain

The Great Central Plain is a geographical region approximately 520 kilometers north to south, and 540 kilometers east to west.  The plain forms a vast, shallow bowl with Lake Uruk at its lowest, central point, about 75 meters above sea level.  The plain rises gradually in all directions, to the Borderlands, which stand about 100 meters above sea level.  The plain is occasionally broken by low rolling hills, kettle lakes and boggy marshes.  Lake Uruk is fed by three shallow rivers that originate in the Borderlands, and numerous streams from springs in the plain itself. 

The plain is home to the Kingdoms of Uruk, whose settlements are usually found in the hilly areas or near springs.  The Great Central Plain is taboo to the Gnomes.

Why am I here?

Why am I here?  My son is 15, and is running a 4e D&D campaign now... with players both male and female, from 15 to 18... and me.  He ran a 12 hour game yesterday!  It's been fun, but I've missed the old rules, which were so much simpler.  When I first started playing, being called a munchkin was a BAD thing, but in the newest rules, being a munchkin is simply how you play the game... 

Talking to him and his friends led me to looking over my old books, and my old material, and gave me the urge to start something new...