Lizard and Lunk

The continuing GURPS adventures of eight men who really should find better uses for their time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

18 March 2009-

The assembled team is an odd one- Bruce's elven paladin Killiean, eBill's human paladin Caranth, Jeff's elven sun-priest Lathan, eMichael's ellyllon mage Azyl, Brian's half-ogre warrior Wise One, and Kevin's reptile man warrior Ghazi- but if we can't kill it, it's time to nuke it from orbit!

We agreed to the rather strange procedure of having pins (meaning large metal bolts and matching bracers) shoved through our forearms to help us perceive the demi-plane of ash in ways that our brains would understand, then off we went to seek the Fortress of the Entropy Lord- there to destroy the "Vital Cord," whatever that is. As usual for such missions, we don't know where the fortress is, and don't know what the target is or what it looks like- but with this group, we might well destroy it by accident, along with half the demi-plane.

Once to the demi-plane, we saw what appeared to be a half-buried colossus of some sort in the distance, and we headed for it as the only obvious landmark. We were barely underway when we were jumped by some dopplegangers, who took the forms of our respective fathers. Luckily, most of us gave in to our Oedipal urges and murdered the buggers, who seem to be sensetive to light. How lucky that our sun-priest has come along! Anyway, the first opposition group is down and out, with us little the wiser but ready to continue. We'll see what develops next week.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The promised introduction for the next few weeks' amusements

One of the oldest recognized deities in the world is known as the Entropy Lord, or sometimes as the Horned King of the Ruins. Historically, he has not been seen as an especially aggressive being, but rather a grim and philosophical figure of inevitable decline -- less "I will lay waste this world and piss on the ruins," and more "All things must die in their time, so we must learn to love the looming dark." His clergy did not preach any kind of hatred of life, just an acknowledgement that it is brief and fleeting. In fact, the priests' keen sense of irony earned them a reputation as wry intellectuals; they were even highly sought-after dinner guests among the wealthy for their urbane wit.

The past few decades, though, have seen a distressing change in the Church of Entropy. The rhetoric has crept from fatalistic to hostile, even hateful. People no longer approach the Entropy Lord’s priests for witty words, but instead cross the street when they see them coming. The Church has recently even been tied to kidnappings and a handful of murders. There were whispers that these strange new behaviors were nothing compared to the fundamental change that had pushed the Church down this new path of evil -- but nobody seems to know what this change was.

One month ago, an elderly priest of the Church turned up in the small nation of Nimberton, at the court of the wise, accomplished, and dead-sexy Viscount Rolian Wrabb. The priest, Honas, was filthy, exhausted, and terrified of his pursuers, who he said were agents of the Church determined to silence him before he could reveal the truth. He claimed that the Church was about to carry out some terrible plan that would destroy half of the world and kill millions of people, all to bring about the type of final and violent catastrophe that they had come to revere over the past generation or so.

Sagely realizing that this problem was too great even for his band of worthy companions (renowned former adventurers all), Rolian and his comrades bravely spirited Honas to the nearby nation of Trivero and brought him to the hall of Veresh the Enlightened, the most renowned wizard in the region. Veresh sent for five of his own powerful colleagues in wizardry, collectively known as the Radiant Circle, to investigate Honas’ story.

With some careful divination spells, the Circle learned some shocking news: the Horned King was destroyed nearly 50 years ago by Gulgallak, a minor god of cruelty and betrayal. Worse yet, Gulgallak has managed to replace the Horned King without most of the Entropy Lord’s followers being aware of the switch. (The Entropy Lord was never very communicative with his followers, and had been known to withdraw for brief periods in the past.)

In the years since the murder and usurpation, the Entropy Lord’s church has shifted to be aligned more closely to its new master, and a small, malicious sect of the Church -- the only clergy to whom Gulgallak revealed his true nature -- rose to control the entire faith. Now, with this sect’s assistance, Gulgallak intends to cement his power by joining his old portfolio of evil to his new portfolio of destruction in one world-shattering apocalypse. After the catastrophe, all survivors in the ruined world will bow before Gulgallak as the unchallenged master of all gods.

To bring about this holocaust, the Church’s adherents will simultaneously perform horrible and blasphemous rituals at several dozen sacred or magical sites scattered around the continent. The Circle have determined that the only way to prevent the catastrophe is to interrupt all of the rituals and kill all higher-level clergy of the Church that they can. Unfortunately, they believe that they really do have to interrupt all of the rituals; if rituals are completed at some of the sites, but the other sites are simultaneously filled with violence and bloodshed, it’s possible that the result will be the same.

Adding to their disadvantage, the Circle believe that Gulgallak intends to teleport his followers directly to the sites at the correct time, so there is no way to stop the cultists from arriving at the right place. It’s also likely that Gulgallak will prevent any effort by others to teleport his followers away once they arrive.

But the Circle have identified all of the sites (or at least they think they have), leading them to send out a desperate call for help from all adventuring parties, militias, private armies -- any armed groups who are capable, powerful, and swift. The worthy High Council of Nimberton are in, of course, as are the Party of the Thor-Cursed. Some guys who don’t have a name, but who wear spiffy dragon-scale armor, are rumored to be on the dance card as well. Even the Company of the Red Sash have gotten off of their fat, retired asses to lend a hand.

On the day of the planned apocalypse, the various parties have been rushed to their targets by whatever means are available. Each group is concealed at the edge of its assigned sacred site, and is lying in wait for the cultists to arrive. But as the last few minutes before battle are ticking away, you suddenly are surrounded by shimmering purple energy -- and then you find yourself in the audience chamber of Veresh himself. He and the rest of the Radiant Circle are seated before you, but the other people standing with you in the center of the room are strangers to you.

Veresh rises and speaks. "My friends, we have a new task for you."

See you Wednesday.