M. Jared Swenson Productions

This blog chronicles my projects, developments, and all things related to tabletop gaming. I will try to avoid rants and reviews. Mostly games I'm developing, and progresses from my campaigns.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Adventures of a C.P.A. (Interlude 3)

(The following events take place after Episode 7)

It was an early morning. The events of the night before were exhausting to everyone. They group had gotten word from Hank that the girl, Melody, was safe. Ellen, the mother was relieved, and with everything that happened, she felt safe under protection of Nightfall.

Flint was tasked with driving her home. The Lewis's were definitely very well off. Their home, or estate, showed that. But as Flint drove her through the gate and leading up to the house, there was a definite emptiness about it all. Her demeanor wasn't indicative of one one coming home from a long day. She reflected the same emptiness and loneliness.

As Flint let her out of the car, she asked him if he could accompany her inside, she had something to give Nightfall for all their trouble. Flint was lead inside and down into what could only be described as a very large multi-room wine cellar. She explained on their way that a few months ago her husband had taken an obsessive interest in the occult. It consumed his time and a decent chunk of his money.

She led Flint into a room that was different from the rest of the wine cellar. It was a library. Not a gaudy and well decorated library, but a room with shelves and shelves of books. Also a work desk and bench covered in chemistry equipment. Her husband scoured everywhere he could to find as much literature as possible on the supernatural and paranormal. This was his collection, and she was giving it to them. She figured it may help them in solving their mystery.

Flint was fascinated at first, but upon closer inspection many of the books are cheap generic titles you would find in any new age section at a library or bookstore. Then Flint arrived at a group of books together. They were all bound and together similarly, but each with a different title and language type. Chinese, Cyrillic, Nordic, and others. It seemed as though they all belonged to the same set. Then there was the one that appeared to have the most wear. The binding was nearly gone and much was rubbed off around it, exposing the wood interior of the covers. At first the title appeared gibberish, but the letter made sense quickly as Flint focused in on it. It said: "The Codex".

Ellen was still in the room with him, so in suspicion he asked her if she could read the title. She said she couldn't, but it was as clear as day to Flint. A fascinating book. He opened it. Filled with different notes, handwriting from different people in different inks, pasted in pages. Then it opened to a bright red silky book mark. Initial touch didn't feel like anything Flint knew of. As he lifted the bookmark out, he heard a voice;

"Hey man! Put me back!"

He glanced around the room to see if anyone else heard it. Ellen appeared to not notice. Sheepishly Flint replaced the bookmark. He turned his back to her, hoping she wouldn't notice him whispering into a book.

"Who, who are you?"

"I'm the bookmark. Don't take me out of here, this is the greatest book I've ever read! This is THE codex. I have everything I could ever want to read in here!"

Snapping the book close, Flint thanked Ellen for her time. He told her he would like to study the library more. She offered to have it all moved to the guest house and he would be given a key so he could visit it whenever he liked.

After some other pleasantries, he anxiously tried to leave. She was worried still about her daughter, but what mother wouldn't be. However she definitely felt she could trust the group. They appeared capable in her eyes, and some distance between the two of them may be necessary at the time. He gave her his contact information should she ever need anything.

Flint got back to his car and carefully laid the book on the passenger seat. He car speakers came through with the voice.

"Thanks for keeping me in here. I'm telling you, you would love what I'm reading."

"What are you reading?"

"The codex! This is the index for all magical tomes and writings ever written. I have it all, all I could ever want to know about any spell, enchantment, magical effect, anomaly, everything. You are gonna love this, man!"

"That's great to hear! How are you getting all this?"

"I'm a bookmark. I can read anything I'm placed inside. I can help you! I'm taking you for a wizard-type. Someone who is studying the arts. I can help you! Need to know anything? Just ask."

Flint could hardly believe what was happening, but again, a lot of unbelievable stuff had happened over the last several months "I really could use something like you."

"That's great, man. Hey, you need my name. That will allow you to call on me when I'm near for help and questions."

"Sure, what is your name?"

"My name is Timothy Jarald. But you can call me Tim, the Enchanter."

This was invaluable. Such a tool would be extremely important and helpful for the group. This bookmark was sentient, but not creative. It was like a magical smart phone with Google. It couldn't create or cast anything on its own, but it had a perfect knowledge of anything it could read. This would become Flint's, and the rest of Nightfall's, for that matter, knowledge repository.

"Tim, you and I are going to become good friends."

"Great to hear! So what would you like to know about first?"

"Tell me about.... flesh to stone."

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Adventures of a C.P.A. (Episode 7, Part 3)

There was a little banter in the party, but the decision to find the two women in case they were in danger won out. The team rushed in their vehicle heading toward where the hospital or chapel was.On the way Kent called the hospital to see if 2 women, a mother and daughter were checked in early in the morning. It was confirmed that the mother was in ICU and her girl was with her. Having the information they needed, the group knew where to go.

When they arrived they did a quick scan for the gargoyle. They couldn't pinpoint any specific magical creature because the entire building was magical. It was literally soaked in magical residue and enchantments that it drowned out any attempts to narrow something down.

The whole group got to the ICU. They saw the room with the mother on a hospital bed being monitored, while the girl was asleep on a chair. Kent and Kody tried to enter the room but were stopped at the doorway. Like some invisible barrier would not allow them to go further. It was definitely a magic barrier.

Flint and Hank were able to go inside, though. The mother was unconscious on the bed. Hank went in and woke the girl up. He and Kent wanted to question her about what happened. So they took her out of ICU and into the chapel down the hall. Kody stood guard outside of ICU while Flint started to inspect the room. He noticed the mother was definitely enchanted with something, but he wasn't sure what. He inspected the enchantment on the room. From it he gleaned a lot about permanent enchantments and got an idea how they are made. This one appeared to be as old as the hospital itself, and made to keep magical creatures out. Scarred like Hank and Flint were able to enter inside because technically they are just human.

In the chapel, Hank and Kent began to question the girl about what happened, but through the questioning strange things began to happen. The room resonated with a power and light. The girl began to levitate inside the room and spoke with an otherworldly voice that was not her own:

Many have spoken
The end of the world is nigh
The Old One seeks his release
For it the young one must die

As she finished, things began to calm, but they wouldn't remain so for long.

Back in the ICU, as Flint was analyzing the room, the hairs on his skin began to stand up. He felt something dark began to enter in the room. At first he couldn't see from where, and the enchantment should have prevented anything. Then he realized, some of the equipment and furnishings were not as old as the building. Like the mirrors. Mirrors work as windows in many aspects, this one was working as a window to whatever was trying to get inside. Black smoke was seeping through the reflection. Thinking fast, Flint quickly grabbed a stool and slammed it into the mirror. It shattered, and naturally startled the staff outside. Kody quickly realized what was happening, and tried to prevent anyone else from entering.

The smoke or shadow that did enter morphed into small vile goblin-like creatures. They dodged Flint's attacks and started trying to smash the window in the room that lead to the outside. Flint gathered the energies he could sense in the room, and using some Force magic, lightning tore from the walls and hit the shadow creatures. It appeared to take care of some of them, but he was too late. The window was smashed. Flint feared this may have broken the room's enchantment, and provided a bigger window.

A massive arm reached into the room. It was an arm of decay, of smoke, and of shadow. Light was negated by its form. Flint knew what it was after, so he gathered the hospital bed with the mother and tried to make it out of the room.

Kody was assaulted by more of the small goblins. Using his own weapons of shadow and power he fought them off. Their puny forms were no match for the sheer strength he exuded both physically and mystically. The giant decaying shadow creature had made it inside and was fighting Kody. Against this foe, however, Kody seemed outclassed. It summoned thick smoke that paralyzed people unlucky enough to get a good lungfull. Luckily Kody and Flint were able to avoid most of it.

By now Kent and Hank heard the commotion. Hank adopted a protective stance to keep the girl safe. Kent rushed to join the fight. Weapons seemed to have little effect on it, even some of Kent's more unorthodox bullets. The large creature of death was obviously after the girl. Hank wanted to grab the girl and teleport outside the building, but something was preventing that. In an instant is teleporation spell seemed normal, but instead of outside the building, he found himself in the morgue. The creature may be altering his spells. He found himself in one of the empty body drawers.

Meanwhile the creature still fought, but since the girl wasn't there anymore, it teleported away. Kody was bruised and nearly broken from his fight with the creature and the 2goblins. Hank went to heal him and found that the ambient magic in the hospital helped him tremendously.

Flint was making his way around panicked normals to an elevator. He wanted to get the mother to safety. The elevator doors began to open, but instead of the elevator cart, it was the hulking mass of one of the giants from much earlier. "YOU BROKE MY CROSSBOW!" It yelled as it's massive fist reached in and grabbed the mother right off the bed. Out of a desperation, Flint cried out: "Wait! I will make you a new croosbow! A better one." The creature only paused for a second. "The shadowmaster wants the women."

Flint felt helpless in the whole situation. Luckily Kent had already come looking for him and let out enough rounds to drop the giant. Again. They recovered the woman and Kody and made their way to the bottom floor.

Feeling safe for a minute, Hank inspected the girl he held. She was unconscious. He felt the eerie cold from earlier, and the drawer was pulled out of the wall. The giant shadow creature laughed and reached for her. Hank had to strain hard enough, but he teleported away again, this time to the roof of the building. There just had to be a way out. A way to get outside the barrier of the hospital's enchantment and go somewhere far and safe with the girl.

There was a helicopter. Luckily Hank had some experience flying one. He got in an started the engines. Shadows gathered on the roof and the creature emerged. Hank feared there wouldn't be enough time to take off. Suddenly the cloaked gargoyle, the theologian, leaped onto the roof, and assaulted the creature. They were fiercely battling. Each time the creature landed a blow, a glowing magical rune on the gargoyle disappeared. He was handling the fight well, but it didn't look like it would happen indefinitely. The chopper began to lift off.

As the vehicle lifted off the roof, it lurched backwards. The creature had grabbed onto it and was preventing it from flying away. It reached up with its black arm and tore off the rear rotor. The chopper began to spin wildly. The gargoyle attached himself to the creature, holding it's attacks. The gargoyle looked into Hanks eyes for a brief moment, and he could be heard yelling "Save the girl!" It threw an attack which caused the creature to let go, and they both fell.

The chopper was spinning faster. Alarms blared in the cockpit. It descended quickly. Hank was barely able to get to the girl and hug her when he felt the veil lift. The barrier which was restricting his teleportation was now gone. As they fell, they left it behind. With only a split second, and the feel of the paradox painfully wash through him, he pushed for a final grand teleport. The helicopter crashed to the ground in an exploding ball of flame.

In pain, but elated with relief, the view of Hank's home came to focus. The girl was going to be alright. The rest of the group took the mother somewhere safe as well.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Adventures of a C.P.A. (Episode 7, Part 2)

Upon returning to the scene, this time at night, they met the three investigators. It was a tense meeting at first because one of the investigators was a larger hairy man who they had already met, under bad circumstances. He was the pack leader of the biker gang. His name was Cyrus Blackmoor. He protested Nightfall's arrival, but another investigator held him back.

She was Cynthia Towne. Her features looked feminine, and was shrouded completely by a cloak the entire time. Again, she looked and spoke as an adult woman, but with the voice of a child. She was the leader of this little group. Another accompanies them, Elisa Anne Shadows. A beutiful brunette, but a fierce gaze, had a shotgun slung under her arm.

These were investigators sent by the Fraternal Order of Hermes. A coalition of magical houses. Luckily diplomacy got the better of both groups, as they all realized that they may have a common enemy. Albeit an unknown one. They grilled Nightfall on what they knew of the case, which unfortunately wasn't much.

Hank had the confidence to try a spell of postcognition. One in which he could see the events of the past in this room. One of the investigators, Elisa, girl with the shotgun, offered to help him. Luckily Hank was adept enough to gather a detailed vision of the murder, and all that happened. It was surprising.

The vision was still garbled, unclear in certain parts. Like looking at cheap surveillance video at a convenience store. It showed John working in his office during late hours, which was normal for his practice. Elaine and Melody Lewis showed up for an appointment. John seemed anxious for this because this would be Nightfall's first unsolved mystery he would be getting back to. They had seeked him out because of Melody's visions. She spoke with John:

Mentions of her father missing.
Mentions of The Apocalypse.
Mentions of 'the tower', known to mundanes as Willis, or previously Sears Tower.
Mentions of 'the old one'
Mentions of Nightfall.

Hank couln't make sense of most of it because of how garbled it was. The girl knew her father was captured and alive, but feared his death soon.

Just as the vision started to clear up, it got grim. Two giants and a woman who looked like Kate entered the room. They wanted the girl, Melody, but John got in the way. Shots were fired, having no effect, and they picked him up and slammed him into the wall.

A strange figure broke through the outside window, a creature. Resembling a gargoyle in a black cowl and cape. It rushed in and grabbed Melody and her mother. One of the giants tried to grab the creature, but it adeptly dodged. It looked at John in the eyes, and there was a brief eye-to-eye communication. The giant with it's mighty fist slammed into the creature, but just in time it held its hand up, a protection spell glowing and inscribed in the palm. The spell protected it and the girls from damage, but the force still threw them through the window and outside. They disappeared into the night.

Back in the office, a helpless John was still pinned to the wall. The girl asked him what house he belonged to. He said none. She debated with the giant holding John. She considered recruiting him because he was not yet a Tremere puppet, he could be useful.

"Well, he is still a hollow, he cannot be trusted." the giant said.

She agreed and approached John. Coldly and effortlessly, she proceeded to kill a hollow the best way she knew. The giant slammed John against the wall, while she dug her fingers into his chest. He cried out in pain as she tore the rib cage open in a gory scene of violence. John's expression was to haunt Hank. The woman then gripped the exposed heart, and yanked it out as tendons and veins snapped free. In an instant John was lifeless, his corpse slumped to the floor.

With the heart still in hand, the three assailants left the room.

Hank awoke, head reeling with what he had seen. Elisa saw it all too.

They recounted it to the others. From Nightfalls proceeding conversations with the three investigators, many questions were answered. The powerful mage they had all met at warehouse 77 was the leader of house Tremere, and master of Cynthia towne. Once she had found out that it was they who attacked him that night, she advised the group to keep their distance from Tremere a while, and left the room. The rest of the group continued a conversation getting some more details of the various houses. Apparently Nightfall has been on the radar of the houses for a while now. Their actions have not been going unnoticed.

Meanwhile outside, Kody was still hanging out by the van. The shrouded lady visited with him. She told him that the creature that took the girls, Theo, the theologian, was not to be trusted, and he should be hunted down. She advised Kody to honor the memory of John, and find and protect the girls.

The rest of the group met up with Kody. They had one decision to make, two choices:

Find the girls and this theologian. They got a lead from the investigators that he roosts at a catholic building. But there were 2 buildings with the name that was given: an old hospital, and a cathedral.

The other choice was to find and hunt the two giants and the homunculus Kate-look-a-like as soon as possible. They had found that assassinations of this type were happening allover. All victim were hollow. When they caught up with the killer homunculus, they were too late, it would always reboot and forget its past. They had little time.

The group debated on which action to take. Much rested on this decision.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Good news, and bad news.

The Good News
My 3D printer arrived! After a very long anxious wait, I received this package today.
I can now finally begin my grand experiment to see what personal affordable home 3D printers can do for the hobby. I have a ton of personal projects and other things, this is expected to be very busy.

The Bad News
Well this sucks. The printer I ordered was supposed to have a heated build platform. It's a part that keeps the platform hot so when you print with ABS plastic they don't warp. This unit does not have such a part. I emailed customer service about it.

No printing yet. What a cruel fate. I finally have my cake, but I can't eat it.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Adventures of a C.P.A. (Episode 7, Part 1)

Kody doesn't often get sick. The man (or astral really) has the constitution of a bear. But this night, he woke up with a searing pain in his chest. One so excruciating that he leaped from his bed and straight to the toilet, wherein he vomited all meals from the day before. Something was wrong, very wrong. There was nothing celestial out of the ordinary. The moon wasn't a trouble phase for him. So what was it? He looked up into the mirror and saw one of his eyes had changed. One of them was off-color. John's eyes were 2 different colors. Kody passed out.

Meanwhile Kent was woken up by the phone. Upon answering it he heard Johns voice, a little disturbed: "Kent, I need you to come by my office as soon as you can in the morning. I have some new information about the Lewis family case." (NOTE: The Lewis' are the family that they rescued in episode 1) The message was abrupt yet disturbing.

The morning came and Kent went to John's office. John was a man of psycho-empathic abilities that gave him a knack at getting to issues with people, which made him an excellent therapist. His night job when not working for Nightfall was running a small clinic. It was at this clinic that Kent found covered in police vehicles from both the local and federal government. Kent showed his badge and talked to an officer. There was a homicide. His heart sank. He asked to go inside and see. He was lead into John's office, and even with a homunculi's constitution, he had to pause from the gruesome sight. There was obvious sign of struggle and shooting, and there against the wall was the body of John Smith, with his chest torn completely open, and his heart missing, like it was ripped out of its cavity. Kent knew what this would mean to Kody.

Kody had found through divinations from certain individuals, that his current calling in life was to protect John. After a few call attempts, Kody finally awoke to answer. In no time he rushed to the scene. Barely showing etiquette for the rest of the law enforcement, who nearly treated him like a hostile, but Kent was able to talk them down. He stormed into the office. Kody stared silently at the body. He demanded everyone leave the room. The FBI was reluctant to go, but Kent was able to talk them out. When the coast was clear, Kody shifted into his wolf form.

The great beast nuzzled up to John, slight whimpers escaped his muzzle. He was looking for scents. Kody smelled John, of course, a few other individuals he did not recognize, but also a couple he did. That of Elaine and Melody Lewis, the mother and daughter from episode 1. He shifted out and relayed his findings to Kent. They let everyone back in. Special FBI agent Reznik asked to speak with Kent about it.

He was suspicious of the whole situation, especially after seeing Kody having such a strong response to it. He suspected they knew eachother, but when he confronted Kent about it, he bluffed his way out of it. Special Agent Reznik is part of the FBI's special crimes division, tasked with taking care of cases with "unusual circumstances". Things didn't add up, but he seemed to trust Kent, for now. Through talks Kent found they had called in another outside group to look at it later that night. They were like Nightfall, in that they looked for supernatural elements in scenes for more clues.

Kent thanked him for his help, and took an extremely angered Kody to Nightfall, where they called an emergency meeting.

Flint and Hank arrived and noticed Kody barely able to contain his anger. Luckily Kent was still in charge. He relayed the news to the others which came as a shock. A very sad development. John was well loved and an extremely valuable asset to the group. The group unanimously decided to try going back to the scene at night and find out what they could from this other supernatural group that was to be there.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Star*Drive Extra Material

A reader of this blog emailed me and told me he had joined a d20 game where the GM was using the Star*Drive campaign setting. It was one of those "thought you'd like to know" things. It appeared to be a Concord centered campaign, as players were encouraged to be either Concord military or t'sa. Pretty cool.

He also informed me of a neat little note about the t'sa race that he invented for his character. I thought it sounded cool, so consider the following a little extra material tied to my entry on the t'sa:
T'sa Head Fins
While not quite like antlers or fingernails, the fin's sensitivity could best be described as having the sensitivity of a human's callous.  It looks as if the original purpose of the fin is to get rid of heat.  It also looks as if the fin might have provided natural camouflage from predators.  A t'sa would squat down, pull in arms and legs, leaving only head and fin visible and exposed to attacks from above.

Fin styling is a thriving business within T'sa space. Styles would vary by planet, clan, haut-society, political faction, and cliques.  T'sa entering military service would have to have the fin trimmed down to a minimum crest (like hair).
Things like this, along with weren hairstyling, could be ways players make their characters a little more personal.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

Once again, for the 31st time, I am celebrating my own birthday alongside the nation. I look forward to it and hope you all get together as well and light off some fireworks.