If you have come here from a work-related perspective (computing, semweb, bioinformatics, math). Perhaps you could go there right now and not read the gory personal stuff here.
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If you have come here from a work-related perspective (computing, semweb, bioinformatics, math). Perhaps you could go there right now and not read the gory personal stuff here.
Use the wordpress rss mechanism to follow categories:
Days of travel, south along the Owl barrens. And Griffinshart’s merry heroes faced days more, north again to Santa Cora. They had retrieved the Spear of Hoar, an artifact of unthinkable power, and a trove of other items besides. It had been four days, and was liable to be a few more days yet before they returned to the city. James had not bonded with the strange wand yet, and the foreboding-looking book remained tightly shut. No time – they travelled hard, with all possible haste.
James had written to his grandfather, the patriarch of house Lancet, via his secret message pouch. The messages were carried via the Low Way. A mostly secure method of secret communication. That day, the pouch had alerted James that he has received – something. At camp, James found some privacy and performed the ritual that unsealed it. Within was a tightly folded letter on onionskin paper.
No salutation, no signature, and all the details carefully worded around. “Mineral sample”. “An important city” – quite the understatement.
And there it was. No guarantee of the Imperial Cavalry, no long-forgotten ritual to unlock the power of the spear, nothing. And yet, grandfather was right: James and his companions were scarcely alone. The city was defended by – well – an entire city. All they could ever have hoped for, even with the Spear of Hoar, was perhaps to tip the balance.
“Be resolute. Plan and act.” And if you cannot plan, then act as best you may. Very well. The patterns in James’ cloak shifted slightly as its magics echoed and amplified his resolve.
But the pouch was not empty. Within, the dragonstone fragment that James had sent two days earlier. He drew it out. It was cracked now, the cracks catching the fading light. Cracks forming patterns, structure that James recognised – wards, glyphs. He tossed it away from him and began to prepare for defense.
But the stone did not explode, or summon a foe. Instead, it spoke – its message broken and disjointed, it’s voice the voice of Edmund the Marked:
As soon as the message was spoken, the dragonstone crumbled to dust.
The “Grimoire of Nod”, whoever that might have been; the “Book of Cain”, a name James did recognise – the first and progenitor of the vampires, greatest of the undead; and no doubt the volume was also known as “The Book of Vile Darkness” and sundry other epithets.
It didn’t take a lot of guessing, really. According to Edmund, the necromancer had sent them off on a false mission, and had hoped to find something else. James was not inclined to credit Edmund’s words, but it was likely that they had indeed found this book and that it was currently sitting in James’ backpack.
Maybe Aeg had played them false – no, the Spear certainly seemed to be real. Maybe Aeg was playing both sides. Maybe Edmund was merely guessing, or had information about the book, and was attempting to pin it on Aeg. No, not terribly likely. One might reasonably suppose that “The Book of Cain” was exactly the kind of thing that a man looking to usurp the Lich King might think could come in handy. Then again, who knew what Edmund’s plans were? Or maybe the book wasn’t really … no, James could eliminate that one. Whatever the book was, along with the Spear it seemed pretty damned real.
The pestilent question was: what to do about it?
Obviously: nothing. Nothing yet. All who stand within beck of Santa Cora must do their duty. There would be battle. After that?
As we learn in Genesis 1-4, the Elohim – the gods – created the earth and the races of men, each “in his own image and likeness”. This explains why there are different races that look different. Brown people are brown for exactly the same reason that any child looks like its father – because that’s where they came from, that’s their origin. Remember that this was all written by people who hadn’t discovered cells, yet.
Anyway. One of the gods, named Jehovah, planted a garden and put some people in it. Blah blah blah and then Cain killed his brother Abel so Jehovah banished him. Cain travelled to “the land of Nod”, who obviously was the local god of the tribe who lived over at the other end of the valley. Cain got married there and no doubt lived happily ever after.
This letter is being sent to granddad Lancet via super secret family message pouch.
In hopes this finds you well, I write now that we have a few moments of peace.
It has been an eventful day.
We seem to have recovered the Spear of Hoar. Or if not that, some other spear that seems to be a powerful religious artifact of some kind.
Our researches in Santa Cora narrowed down the probable locations in the Owl Barrens to two. We arrived at a mine at James provides the location here, as nearly as possible from which dragon-stone had been found in the past, and were informed by a local resident (a mad old hermit, but cheerful) that it was inhabited by a dragon.
We entered the mine and dealt with the dragon and a few of its offspring. One was gravely wounded (we took a wing off) and bargained with us for its life, offering to lead us further into the mine where the spear was located. Surprisingly, it (I have it’s name written down somewhere – Z-something – Zika?) was true to its word, and led us to the entrance of a chamber. We kept to our bargain and permitted it to leave and make its own way out. This may one day prove to be a mistake, but it is what it is. I would give long odds on a one-winged dragonling surviving the wilds.
The path to this other chamber led through a chasm in which there were pillars of what appeared to be dragon-stone. Several tons of it each. These pillars bore masks of (God starting with a G). We attempted to retrieve one of these masks, but it did not go well.
The chamber itself had an inhabitant and what appeared to be a library of ancient books. All I can say is that the woman looked human, although obviously could not have been. She indicated the spear – which was lying in a reliquary of some sort – and invited/permitted us to take it.
I should mention at this point that three of our company are of a divine bent.
Backtracking a little – we passed at one point a statue of Hoar, or rather, a statue of Elsbeth slaying Hoar with a dagger. The woman was clearly Elsbeth. Even more startlingly, Toasten – who wields odd magics seemingly connected to the manipulation of time – claimed to have made the sculpture “in the future”. None of us quite knows what to make of this, least of all Eslbeth herself.
So, back to the chamber. The spear was in two pieces – the head separated from the shaft. Nacelle attempted to retrieved the spear from its reliquary, but was not able to. Cannis, however, was able to do so. The spear rejoined accompanied by rather a great deal of lightning, which appears to be one of Hoar’s manifestations.
At which point, the inhabitant of the chamber exclaimed “At last! We can feed!” and attacked along with several shadows. The spear at this point appeared to be possessing (as near as I can make out) Cannis, which problem Nacelle dealt with by rebreaking the spear.
After dealing with the hag and her shades, I had a look at the bookshelves. he library was fake – almost all the books were blank or had pages filled with random gibberish. One, however, was not. It appears to be some sort of necromantic grimoire, and I have taken possession of it.
The way behind us had collapsed by this stage, but one of us detected a breeze coming from further below. Lacking other options, we proceeded even further down.
Below was a cavern containing massive pile of bones of various races and pillars of dragonstone. In the center was a giant skull ringed by four extremely large pillars containing a bier on which rested an elven woman.
We looted the bones – a little unwise, perhaps, but we recovered a few magical items.
I investigated the more natural dragonstone columns and chipped of a sample, which I have enclosed. Our – I suppose “expedition leaders” woke and spoke to the elven woman, and then a great many things happened in rather quick succession. Some sort of spirit – very great, filling the whole cavern – appeared and someone at some point stabbed the Elven woman in the chest with the spear of Hoar I think. As I mentioned: rather a lot going on at the time. We located an exit and ran for it. I gather that the woman and the spirit were some sort of ill-starred couple. One hopes that we have sent her on to a better place.
I am not entirely sure how we made it out, considering the depth to which we had descended and the fact that the caverns were collapsing around us as we ran. However, everybody appears to be here and mostly in one piece. I have a rather interesting grimoire which appears to be sealed, a rather interesting wand which I hve not investigated yet, but much more importantly we have the Spear of Hoar. It all went rather well, all things considered.
Perhaps of interest to House Lancet, however, is several tons of dragonstone laying in the caverns beneath the location I have mentioned. Of course, the war makes retrieving this a trifle problematic, but it is that nature of wars to not last forever. Perhaps the spirit we ran from now inhabits the place, making retrieving the stone impossible. Then again, perhaps with his ancient lover or whatever finally well and truly dead, he has moved on. Quite a bit of the cavern did collapse, but this is not to say that it cannot be mined out. And it’s possible that the dragonstone itself has been damaged by today’s various spiritual and physical cataclysms.
It’s not a certain thing, is what I am getting at. But the rewards could be great.
As for us, we have the Spear of Hoar – in two pieces, granted – but it’s not clear to me what exactly we intend to do with it. I imagine that in the right hands it could spit an orc like nobody’ business, but at present we are trying to deal with half a continent of them.
That is: I find I must trouble you for advice, once again. Has anyone any idea how such a thing might be best used? Any old prophecies, that sort of thing?
In hopes that this message finds you swiftly,
But at the end of session, James faced that big thing alone and popped it with the only thing he had – a Magic Missile carrying a bonus 10 points of holy damage. It called him “star mage”. In 13th Age, holy damage comes from the overworld, from the stars.
I’m not 100% clear on how James got out. Maybe he’ll go to the dark side, maybe he’ll find a way to integrate the two. But I’m a little more hopeful for him now that he has rediscovered his moral center. It lies on the “soldier/commander” side of his character sheet.
I have been putting off writing this for days, but we have a quiet moment and I can shirk my duty no longer.
I am to blame for the recent collapse of the protective wards around Santa Cora, and I suspect elsewhere as well.
As I have mentioned previously, I was gifted with a certain cloak by Edmund the Marked, granting me some access to the magics of the nodes of The Empire. By this means I reactivated the node at Ebony Watch, and the node on the dwarven ruins beneath Chancer’s Hope, which protected the city from the orc and giant incursion from the south.
At Santa Cora, I gained access to the Astronomer’s Tower, a structure which had been sealed for centuries. At its top was a node (connected to air magics, as it happened, not that it matters now). With Edmund present, I accessed the node. As I was doing so, Edmund gained control of the magics from me and cancelled them. This act appeared to not only shut down the node atop the tower, but also the one in the Santa Cora cathedral. I do not know how far the damage may have gone.
His stated reasons for doing so were preposterous lies. I do not know who he is working for and I will not credit anything he might say. Acts speak louder.
Edmund must be brought to justice and made to pay for his treachery. But I would not that the family name be associated with this. Let the histories not say that one of our family was responsible for the fall of Santa Cora. James is careful to not mention the family name – this communication channel is not entirely secure.
As for me, I travel with my companions now joined by one Nacelle, a paladin of the Great Gold Wyrm. Perhaps she will choose her friends more wisely than I. We travel south to the Owl Barrens in search of the Spear of Hoar, god of just retribution.
I still wear the cloak. Pride, perhaps. The Empire might be better served by my sword at Santa Cora – perhaps I could do for a couple of orcs, at least, before falling. But I shall at least see where this paladin leads us, and attempt to keep you informed.
Mother – I doubt I shall be returning home.
Just a summary of my character’s story for a player who has returned to the game recently.
James’ story arc has been a classic greek tragedy – a rise and rise and rise and then bought low in one catastrophic stroke bought about by his own hubris.
We have a couple of mysterious wizards knocking about the world: Edmund the Marked, ex Council of Four, and Aeg Ilsa, Necromancer.
Edmund helped out the party on a couple of occasions and gave James a cloak. The cloak had a connection to the magical “nodes” of the empire – defenses set up ages ago to protect the empire from … stuff. Giants. Orcs. Probably elves and dwarves, too. The cloak also has a quirk, that whoever wears it becomes (fantically?) dedicated to the empire.
At Ebony Watch, James managed to re-ignite one of these ancient nodes. A pretty major deal. Later, in Chancer’s Hope he managed to re-ignite a second one. This one was a bit unusual in that it was in dwarven ruins underground and may have been property of the dwarf king, kinda sorta. Compounding this is that there is political tension between the dwarves and the empire at the moment. Mal Shieldglider was implicated in this, and has been exiled.
While reigniting the node, Aeg asked James if awakening the node was really such a good idea. It seemed to James that it totally was, because the city was being attacked by the orc horde. And indeed, the node once activated put this defense around the city. James got the idea that reigniting the empire nodes was basically the right thing to do.
In Santa Cora, it turned out that there were two nodes – one in the cathedral, and one in the astronomers tower, which no-one had entered for centuries. Edmund was present as James reactivated that node, a bit of a pinnacle moment. But as James did so, Edmund seized control of the magic and through this connection with this activated node brought down the entire freaking network. The immediate effect of this was that all of the storms that this node had been protecting Santa Cora from (this node was why Santa Cora always had nice weather) hit the city all at once. But the wider effect of the entire network going down is obviously more dire. Especially with an orc and giant army attacking from the south.
Edmund’s rationale was that life would be better if common people would rise up and be heroic, rather than relying on the empire or on heroes. I can’t work out if he’s a commie and wants the proletariat to rise up; or if he’s a libertarian and wants to reduce the state to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub.
Turns out Aeg was the good guy all along. There were clues all along, of course, but James’ distaste of necromancy and his getting all wrapped up in this wonderful cloak he received and the power it gave made him ignore them.
James at the moment is at the “Luke, I am your father and Yoda has been lying to you all along” stage of his character arc. He’s extremely bummed out, which perhaps is why he’s stepped back from trying to tell people what to do and handed off the job to this paladin of the GGW that’s recently joined the party.
Luke somehow managed to stay good. Don’t know about James. He has just gotten this big book ‘o bad necromancy, and it has turned out that he was wrong about at least one necromancer all along. Maybe its time to find out if the dark side has the power to save the empire. Because at the end of the day, a soldier knows that the only way to deal with an army of orcs and giants inevitably involves killing a whole bunch of them.
So, I have found a toolchain that seems to be able to create the shapes I want.
The difficulty is that OpenScad just barfs when I try to work with complex imported STLs. I’m looking to hack up dungeon terrain, so the things I pull in tend to be ornate, with a lot of triangles. HAcking up involves bolean operations, and it’s just too much for the software.
Use netfabb basic to do any overall cutting of of the imported shape.
Export the shape to stl, and import it into OpenScad. However, decorate it with a ‘%’ so that it does not become part of the final shape.
Build the shapes that you want to union/intersect/difference with the imported shape. Screw holes, recesses for electronics. Export that shape as an STL.
Import the terrain and your working shape into Blender. And this is the important bit: save it as an obj file. The obj file will contain all of your shapes, and at a guess it does them as solid polyhedrons rather than as a manifold.
Then remove the stl files from your scene and import the obj file you just exported. From here, you can use Blender to perform the boolean operations.
Then export the result to STL with options “selected shape only” and “apply modifiers”. From there, pull it into Slic3r, slice, and give it to your printer.
I haven’t been blogging RotW, but tonight’s little bit of ingenuity deserves a mention.
So, we are in the Ivory Labyrinth – part of The Abyss. The Ivory Labyrinth has several … places. Connected in strange ways. All are mazelike – a simple maze of bones, a swamp of mazelike streams, a lightless maze of caverns. You get the idea.
We were in the slums of Blackburg – a maze of twisy, winding alleyways. A sprawling favella. We needed to get to The Breathless Mountains – a maze of treacherous mountain passes (avalanches, rope bridges, gales – you get the idea). But how?
We dealt with an inhabitant of the Labyrinth. After speaking to it, it descended into a pit. We determined that the pit led to The Lightless Maze. We put some light down there, but on doing so discovered that as soon as we did, the pit no longer connected to that place. Why?
Because we had lit it. Affinity – that was the key. To get to the Breathless Mountains, all we had to do was to create a little piece of those mountains here in the favella. A big ask – the mountains are cold, snowy, mountainous, and uninhabited.
We hatched a plan, and it was awesome. I don’t know if the module permitted it specifically, or if the DM invoked the Rule of Cool.
First, we needed an open area without so many buildings. Our cleric refused to earthquake the slums, but we located a battle in progress – the slums were on fire. We wandered over and earthquaked that whole area. The demons that could fly, scattered. The ones that couldn’t died in the rubble.
While one of us put the nearby fires out with Create Water, our cleric proceeded to use Wall of Stone and Stoneshape to make a mini-mountain, maybe 20 ft high. Craggy. Treacherous.
We then used Obscuring Mist and Sleet Storm to turn it into a cold, sleety, foggy mountainside.
And then – this is the cool bit – we used a Limited Wish to reproduce the effect of an epic Mass Reduce Person. A Limited Wish is more than enough to reduce a party of six by two size categories for a few minutes or so, which is all we needed.
We then proceeded to climb our sleety, foggy, dangerous mountainside. Roped together, hands and feet crawling up the slope. We didn’t know whether it would work or not. We crested a ridge, and found a twisty, dangerous track on the mountainside. The fog cleared a little, and it seemed the maze had obliged us. The air was thin, our breting laboured, and we saw a range of peaks, separated by impossibly deep ravines.
The Breathless Mountains. We are not going to be able to survive for long here. We must find or create a portal to somewhere even worse.
The Jedi Knights were founded for a purpose, and the rank-and-file Jedi themselves are mostly ignorant of what that purpose is. Consequently, they have been successfully carrying out the plan for centuries.
The purpose for which the Jedi were founded is to exterminate force-users.
This is why they kidnap boys and turn them into monks who don’t reproduce and train them to be remorseless killers. It’s as simple and as obvious as it is that the entire purpose of Hogwarts is to breed more wizards.
At which point, you have to ask the rather chilling question: what about the girls? Oh, I’m sure that the star wars movies produced later on are more gender-diverse, but look at the first cut of the star wars universe. It had – what – two women? And most certainly no female Jedi.
Consider the “light side” and “dark side” of the force. The light side – calm, rational, the dark side – stormy, emotional. These terms are code. Isn’t it plain that the “light side” of the force – calm, rational – is male; and the stormy, passionate “dark side” is female? We are talking archetypes, here. Jedi are taught that the light side is good, and the dark side evil. That is: Jedi are trained from early childhood to fear, distrust, hate the female side of The Force. Women.
So what about the girls?
The secret conspiracy is this: at the core of the Jedi Knights are a cadre of witch-finders. They take the most fanatical, the most screwed-up boys and teach them that women are succubi. Agents of the dark side. Witches. They teach these boys that any feelings of humanity or pity in themselves are a temptation, something to be resisted and expunged. Should they feel any remorse about killing a witch, that very remorse is proof of what wicked tempters and seducers women really are. And those boys grow into men with the mission to scour the galaxy clean, and who in revered and respected old age do their part to perpetuate the system.
(It is no coincidence that their weapon is the lightsabre. The favourite weapon of holiness against wickedness has always been fire and the sword. Witches have always been burned whenever they were found. How perfect, then, is a sword actually made of pure, incorruptible fire?)
That’s what’s going on. That’s the real story. The Jedi are being played, they were being played right from the very beginning. They think it’s all about peace, justice, right, justice, and the light side of the force. The witch-finders, too, think they are doing the good work. But unknown to them, the whole point of the organisation they comprise is to wipe out people like themselves.